Sarah Glover Elected NABJ President
August 7, 2015
Sarah J. Glover, social media editor for NBC Owned Television Stations who said members of the National Association of Black Journalists related to her professional ups and downs as well as her service, was elected NABJ president on Friday.
Glover defeated Mira Lowe, senior features editor of CNN Digital and wife of former NABJ President Herbert Lowe, 347 to 167, as the association held its annual convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis. It is celebrating its 40th anniversary year.
In the other contested races, Dorothy Tucker, a reporter for WBBM-TV in Chicago, defeated incumbent Dedrick Russell, reporter for WBTV-TV in Charlotte, N.C., and Galen Gordon, a coordinating producer for ESPN, for vice president-broadcast. The results were Tucker, 230; Russell, 157; and Gordon, 126. Glover, Tucker and several unopposed candidates ran as part of a team.
For the new position of media-related representative, Tanzi West Barbour, national director of communications for the Black Alliance for Educational Options, defeated Terry Allen, CEO of 1016 Media in Dallas, and Marc Willis, media program manager at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. West-Barbour received 40 votes to 32 for Allen and 31 for Willis.
Running unopposed were Benét Wilson, owner, founder and editor of Aviation Queen LLC, vice president-digital; Marlon Walker, reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, vice president-print; Sherlon Christie, sports reporter at the Asbury Park Press in Neptune, N.J., secretary; Greg Morrison, assignment editor for the Affiliate Content Center at CNN, treasurer; Dave Jordan, investigative reporter at WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, S.C., parliamentarian; and Michelle Johnson, associate professor of the practice, Boston University, academic representative.
The results were prematurely announced on the NABJ Twitter feed at 6:01 p.m. as reporters, supporters and others awaited the results in an overflowing press room at the convention center. That announcement did not come until 20 minutes later.
"We wanted to make the grand announcement here, but somebody put it out on Twitter, so we already know who won,"Michael Woolfolk, Elections Committee chair, told the assemblage. Candidates' and NABJ representatives attributed the premature release to a misunderstanding with the NABJ national office about the release time.
The new NABJ board takes office facing the prospect of a second consecutive year of red ink and after a falloff in convention registration, a drop in corporate sponsorships and a decline in membership, NABJ leaders told members at their annual business meeting Friday.
With 2,851 members as of June, NABJ was called the world's largest organization of journalists of color, but Morrison, named by the board to become interim treasurer on Tuesday, told the board that those numbers alone won't keep the association solvent. "We've got to turn the Titanic around, folks, because we are on the iceberg," he said on Tuesday.
NABJ ended 2014 with a $202,000 deficit, NABJ President Bob Butler said at Friday's meeting. If the fiscal year ended today, NABJ would be $227,137 in the red for 2015.
As of Tuesday, 1,716 people were registered for the convention, compared with 2,158 last year in Boston, 2,207 in 2013 in Orlando and 2,399 in 2012 in New Orleans.
"We've had a tough time raising funds," Morrison said. Corporate sponsorships totaled $943,004 in 2015, compared with $1,052,560 in 2014 and $1,197,558 in 2013. "Some of the companies that we have gone to in the past have now merged," Butler told the NABJ Monitor, the convention's student online and print publication. "Instead of getting two checks, we now get one."
Morrison said in his report, "It remains imperative that NABJ continue to hold expenses well below budgeted levels for the remaining five months of 2015, and that we maximize additional revenues from programs planned for the second half of the year." Most in-person board meetings have been scrapped in favor of conference calls, he said.
Butler said the organization would place more emphasis on year-round training, so that sponsors' dollars would come from their training, rather than their diversity budgets, and for the next few years would eschew convention centers for its annual gathering in favor of hotels.
Next year's joint convention with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists is to be held Aug. 3-7, 2016, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, where NABJ was founded in 1975. Not using the Washington convention center will save $150,000, Butler said. Plans to host a presidential debate at that election-year convention have been scrapped, as the application to hold the event would cost $8,000, in addition to $20,000 in other fees.
NABJ is seeking a grant to undertake a strategic plan to guide it for the next few years, Butler said.
Also at the Friday business meeting, Duchesne Drew, president of the Minnesota chapter of NABJ, a former business editor of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and community network vice president of the Bush Foundation, a Twin Cities area organization, scolded the NABJ board for failing to take advantage of the presence of 19 Fortune 500 companies in the area, a reason he said his NABJ chapter had urged the national group to meet in the area in the first place.
Djibril Diallo, senior adviser to the executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and longtime NABJ member, called NABJ the largest organization of journalists in the world and urged the association to seek financial support in Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere in the world.
Despite the troubling nature of the organization's finances, the convention proceeded on an upbeat note with a rich selection of workshops and panel discussions, an invitation from Prince to visit his Paisley Park recording studio complex on Saturday night and praise for Executive Director Darryl R. Matthews, who assumed the job last year.
For the first time in recent years, members who had been critical of the board, particularly on financial matters and on the previous executive director, introduced no motions from the floor nor called the board to task.
Butler was pleased. "I don't think we need the drama," he told the group as the session ended.
Rohan Preston, Star Tribune, Minneapolis: Here's a first: Prince opens Paisley Park to a horde of journalists
- NABJ Monitor convention coverage
One of the first questions Sarah J. Glover was asked Friday after winning election as president of the National Association of Black Journalists was how victory felt after coming so close to it two years ago, when she lost by 22 votes to Bob Butler.
Glover, 41, reflected on her life story. She was an adopted child, she said.
In 2008, she was one of six members of the photo staff of the Philadelphia Inquirer who were laid off. In 2012, she took a buyout from the Philadelphia Daily News after being told that she would receive a better deal than if she were laid off.
Glover reinvented herself as social media editor at NBC-owned WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. Last October, she was promoted to social media editor for the national digital team at NBC Owned Television Stations.
"I look at these as learning opportunities," Glover told her press-room questioner regarding her setbacks. "I'm really good at just shaking things off" and moving on. As a black journalist, people tell us "what we can't do," she said. "Setbacks just set you up for a comeback."
Glover told Journal-isms afterward that during the campaign, "people related to my professional ups and downs. People are struggling," she said. "People are underemployed."
Starting last spring, with more intensity last summer, Glover said, NABJ activists began to urge Glover to run again for NABJ president.
"It was the heaviness of the outreach," she recalled. Her supporters included NABJ members who had been critical of the current NABJ board. They included former president Gregory H. Lee Jr., who became her campaign manager, and Drew Berry, a former television station manager and NABJ Finance Committee member who founded a now-defunct website called nabjboardwatch.org
Glover had attended her first NABJ convention in 1993 and considered herself an "NABJ baby."
She had been a three-term NABJ board member and president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists from 2009 to 2012.
"People were well-informed," she said of the NABJ electorate. "They said, 'I Googled you. I checked you out. You're the one with all the experience.' They got a sense of why I was running, and were able to see that I was a dedicated member."
In the interview, Glover returned to the theme she outlined at the news conference. "The moral of the story is you shouldn't let things hold you back. [The setbacks] remind me to keep going forward." Glover said she thought of one of her inspirations, veteran Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Acel Moore, an NABJ founder, with whom she spoke by telephone before appearing at the victory news conference. Moore was called "boy" in the Inquirer newsroom when he started there as a copy clerk in 1962— whites with the same job were called by their names — and rose to become an associate editor and columnist, "making a difference in the Philadelphia area."
Glover said throughout the campaign that NABJ finances would be her top priority, and she reiterated at the news conference, "We have to be able to be agile and flexible, and able to say no and show restraint." She also said she wants to put her social media skills to use in marketing NABJ programs, such as its Media Institute.
She said that will be especially useful in reaching students who, according to June figures announced Friday, are 35 percent of the NABJ membership. "You've got to reach people where you are," she said.
Likewise, she said she believes that she can demonstrate to resource-rich Silicon Valley companies that NABJ can be a resource for them as well as a financial partner.
Recent on-camera revelations of misbehavior by police toward people of color have created an atmosphere favorable for legislation to curb excesses by the criminal justice system, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said Thursday at the National Association of Black Journalists' Minneapolis convention.
They are among issues that Ellison said black journalists should take the lead in bringing to public attention.
"Put a microphone in people's faces and get the real story from people on the ground," he said. "You all can assure democracy when the political process is all gummed up."
Speaking on a plenary session panel, "Race in America: How Far Have We Come?," the Minneapolis congressman called for legislation revising requirements for mandatory minimum sentences involving nonviolent crimes, and reducing civil asset forfeitures, in which he said police are allowed to "take people's stuff" in order to fund police departments.
A January story by Rudy Takala of CNSNews.com, a division of the conservative Media Research Center, explained:
"A bipartisan coalition in Congress including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Angus King (I-ME) is seeking to stem widespread abuse of federal civil asset forfeiture laws.
"Under current law, law enforcement and government agencies can seize private property — including cash, cars and houses — merely on the 'suspicion' that it was involved in the commission of a crime, without any criminal charge or conviction required.
"'You're not innocent until you’re proven guilty under civil forfeiture,' Sen. Paul said at a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday. 'You're guilty until you're proven innocent.'
"Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced new rules that prohibit federal agencies from 'adopting' assets not related to public safety that are seized under federal civil asset forfeiture laws.
"Paul spoke about legislation he is sponsoring in Congress called the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act, which would require the federal government to 'establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that there was a substantial connection between the property and the offense.'"
He also said, "The government would also be required to hold a hearing to demonstrate probable cause within 14 days of forfeiture, rather than holding property indefinitely as is the case now.
"Paul was joined at the press conference by other House sponsors of the bill, including Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA), and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN). . . ."
In an editorial for Saturday's editions, the Detroit News noted, "Michigan's efforts to control law enforcement's civil asset forfeiture is garnering nationwide attention. The House has approved a package of bills aimed at setting stricter rules for police when they seize property believed involved in criminal activity, even if charges never are filed. . . ."
The editorial also said, "The bills are a good start and should be approved by the Senate, but they don't go far enough to protect citizens. If civil forfeiture is allowed to continue, the guiding principle should be that no property is taken without a criminal conviction, which also is the coalition's goal."
Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also said, "You can't call yourself progressive without putting racial policies at the center."