Opportunities still too few and far between for black journalists in America

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David Grubb and award-winning journalist William Rhoden
Crescent City Sports columnist David Grubb and award-winning journalist William Rhoden at this week’s NABJ Convention in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS — This week, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) has been holding its convention in the Crescent City.

Each year, hundreds of working and aspiring black media professionals come to the event seeking professional development, to network, to support each other, and to have some fun.

But most importantly, they come seeking opportunity in an industry that far too often doesn’t provide it.

For nearly five years now, I have been fortunate to have been given a platform; first at SportsNOLA.com and now here with CrescentCitySports.com. The team here, led by Ken Trahan, has supported me and encouraged me.

Unfortunately for too many people like me, those opportunities are few and far between.

Here in New Orleans, there is not one African-American host of a daily sports talk program. The same is true in Baton Rouge. Both cities have majority black populations who are just as rabid about the Saints, Pelicans, LSU and high school sports as anyone else, and yet are not represented.

It isn’t much better nationally. According to research by Barrett Sports Media, in 2015 there were just 41 non-white, on-air personalities in the top 20 radio markets.

Among the major national sports talk providers, only 23 people of color work daily slots.

In all, just 15 percent of radio hosts in those markets are people of color, though they represent nearly 40 percent of the population of those markets.

An even greater disparity exists among the decision makers in those markets. Just one network in the top 20 had a person of color as a Program Director.

The stats for print media are no more encouraging. Walk into any newsroom in the country and it is overwhelmingly white, and overwhelmingly male.

Minority groups of all types represent just over 13 percent of journalists at daily newspapers. Those same groups represent 37 percent of the total audience nationwide.

Is it intentional? I won’t speak on the motives of any individual I haven’t met. But I can say that where there is a lack of diversity in media, we all suffer.

Our media is supposed to represent our communities, and the sad fact is that they do not.

More than anything, it is bad business practice. Seeking out and developing talented people of color, as well as women means more listeners, more readers, more viewers. By keeping people like me on the fringes of the industry, we lose the types of perspectives that can create greater understanding between people.

As this conference comes to a close this weekend, I will walk away with a renewed sense of purpose as a journalist. I move forward looking to not only create my space but to bring others like me along.

We can do better in this industry. We must do better. And all of us should be demanding that, whether in the industry or as a consumer.

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David Grubb

Sports 1280am host/CCS reporter

David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…

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