Here’s an interesting little item filed last summer by Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr., on the Freedom Forum “Diversity Diaries” website, which bills itself as “a collection of true stories from newspaper people around the country who have experienced or observed pivotal moments in diversity.” Writes Pinch:
National Association of Black Journalists named Gerald Boyd journalist of the year prior to the announcement that he had been promoted to Times managing editor. When they introduced people on the dais at dinner that night, Harry Belafonte got a warm round of applause, as you might imagine. But Gerald got a standing ovation. I turned to Gerald’s wife, Robin, and said, “Isn’t it nice to know that you’re married to a man who gets more applause than Harry Belafonte?” That was a special evening.
The issue in advancing newsroom diversity is that you have to get people into gate-keeper roles. You have to force your hiring managers to find talent and demand that every pool of applicants for any job includes at least one woman and one minority.
Ah yes, gatekeepers. Boyd was one of Pinch’s diversity gatekeepers. And look at what he let slip in! As the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week (and speaking of that NABJ convention!):
The Times report is candid about the severe criticisms directed at Blair by the two metropolitan editors–Joyce Purnick and Jonathan Landman–prior to his assignment to the paper’s national staff. It is less forthcoming about the close mentor-protégé relationship that apparently existed between Blair and the Times’ managing editor, Gerald Boyd, who also is African American. By the Times’ account, Boyd was head of a committee that recommended Blair be hired, despite the reservations of other editors. Boyd, along with Raines, pushed the inexperienced reporter with a poor record onto the prestigious national staff.
What the Times does not note is that in 2001 it was the Blair who nominated Boyd for the National Assn. of Black Journalists’ journalist of the year award for his role in producing the Pulitzer Prize-winning series “How Race Is Lived in America.” When Boyd subsequently was promoted to managing editor, according to sources at the Times, Blair was selected to write the announcement for the paper’s in-house newsletter.