NAHJ Parity Project Gets $1 Mil. Grant

By: E&P Staff

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) said Thursday it had been awarded a $1 million grant from the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation to expand its “Parity Project” aimed at increasing the number of Latinos and other minorities in newsrooms.

NAHJ said the three-year grant will allow it to take the Parity Project to 48 print and broadcast news outlets by 2007. The project, which is now at six news organizations, began in 2003 with $80,000 in seed money from the McCormick Foundation. The project has also received funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

NAHJ said much of the grant would be focused on California and Texas, and that it would add staff members in those states. So far the program has been operated only at newspapers, including dailies published by the E.W. Scripps Co., Lee Enterprises Inc. and Pulitzer Newspapers Inc.

The Parity Project targets cities with significant Hispanic populations that are underrepresented in local newspapers and broadcast outlets. “NAHJ works jointly with existing print and broadcast media, area journalism schools, foundations and Latino community leaders to develop comprehensive model
programs to increase the representation of Latinos in newsrooms and improve news coverage of the nation’s Latino community,” the association said.

NAHJ is already claiming success for the project at two newspapers that were early recruits to the effort. In Denver, the percentage of minority journalists in the newsroom of the Rocky Mountain News increased from 8.5% to 11.6% in nine months, the association said. At the Ventura County (Calif.) Star, the percentage of journalists of color increased from 11.8% to 17.2% in six months, it added.

“The Parity Project is one of the most innovative, constructive and strategic diversity programs we have seen, so we’re happy to support its rapid expansion,” Richard A. Behrenhausen, president and chief executive officer of the McCormick Tribune Foundation, said in a statement. “The project addresses a real need — for news organizations to better reach, reflect and serve the growing Hispanic population in their areas. NAHJ helps news organizations that want to improve, by providing valuable insight, talent, connections and programs.”

“We are thankful to the McCormick Tribune Foundation for believing in the project from its inception,” said NAHJ President Juan Gonzalez. “NAHJ believes the expansion of the project will provide media companies nationwide with a model and a roadmap for quickly improving their diversity efforts despite years of frustration and lackluster results.”

Gonzalez said the project is not aimed only at increasing the number of Hispanic journalists: “NAHJ has made it clear from the start that we didn’t want Hispanics hired at the expense of our fellow journalists of color or fellow white journalists. We believe all
future hiring efforts with companies we are working with on the project should be aimed at recruiting the best journalists of all races and ethnic groups, to create a team of reporters capable of reporting fairly and comprehensively on the entire community.”

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