NABJ to Schiller: “Actions speak much louder than words”

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The National Association of Black Journalists questions NPR commitment to diversity in this letter to Vivian Schiller, network president. The Oct. 16 firing of Greg Peppers, executive producer of newscasts, is the second dismissal of a producer of color in NPR management ranks this year. “Of the 68 members on your corporate team and behind the scenes staff, only eight are people of color,” NABJ’s top leaders write. “You told the National Press Club that NPR doesn’t need programming for communities of color but diversity needs ‘to be represented in the fabric of everything that we do.’ It is NABJ’s belief that actions speak much louder than your words. It is not enough to provide internships for young people or hire them into entry-level positions. Diversity must also be reflected among the managers who decide what news gets covered and who gets to cover it.” Peppers, who was one of two black men in newsroom management according to NABJ, was fired and escorted out of NPR headquarters on Oct. 16, one day after NPR hosted a book signing for NABJ. Walt Swanson, an African-American journalist who was director of diversity management at NPR for six years, resigned three days later for health reasons. Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute, who reported on the departures on his blog Journalisms, has more on NPR’s track record with diversity.