By James Williams
ATLANTA — While journalists are known to ask the tough questions, members of the journalism industry have questions of their own to answer.
What can be done? Are we doing enough?
These were some of the questions being asked of the audience, made up of sports editors and journalists, during a general session on diversity in newsrooms at the 2019 APSE Summer Conference.
APSE second vice president Lisa Wilson moderated the panel discussion and asked the audience to raise their hand if they were proud of the diversity within their respective staffs.
“Historically everyone in this room as you saw — I think Rana (Cash, sports editor at the Courier-Journal) was the only one who raised her hand — has done a very poor job at hiring diverse candidates,” said Dave Ammenheuser, sports director at USA TODAY Network. “We need to do a better job.”
Ammenheuser joined NABJ Sports Task Force president A. Sherrod Blakely, The Shadow League senior columnist Carron J. Phillips, Orlando Sentinel sports editor Iliana Limón Romero and Vicki Michaelis, chair of the sports journalism program at the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, on the panel.
Phillips is the first African-American to participate in both the APSE Diversity Fellowship program and the Sports Journalism Institute.
“Not only is it part of my job to write about some of this stuff but I am a walking model for it,” Phillips said. “I wrote a thesis paper on diversity in sports journalism when I graduate from Syracuse but I was also in SJI and was an APSE Diversity Fellow.
Romero believes an economic issue also needs to be addressed.
“There is definitely a significant economic issue for a lot of people of color and women trying to provide points of entry,” Romero said. “Internships pay minimum wage usually and if it’s far to get there it is a huge burden.”