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UNITY disappointed in Chicago Tribune’s decision to lay off Solomon

portrait of Sheila Solomon

Sheila Solomon

UNITY: Journalists of Color is disappointed to learn the Chicago Tribune has laid-off Sheila Solomon, a passionate and tireless advocate of diversity in her newsroom.

Among her numerous responsibilities while at the Tribune, Solomon had managed her paper’s year-round internships and the Minority Editorial Training Program (Metpro), which focused on bringing diverse journalists into the Tribune.

We echo another newsroom diversity champion, Joe Grimm, who wrote that Solomon’s departure “means that we have lost a diversity soldier who devoted thousands of hours to helping journalists advance their careers.”

We urge the Tribune stay true to the mission of diversifying the newsroom and to keep diversity in the forefront when letting go of journalists to ensure the newsroom reflects the diverse communities they serve.

And, as always, UNITY stands ready to assist the Tribune and any news organization in that mission.

UNITY to Media News: Keep diversity priority amid downsizings

Aug. 26, 2011 — UNITY: Journalists of Color urges MediaNews to keep diversity a top priority as the company downsizes from 11 newspapers to two in California.

We understand that news organizations must make changes to survive as businesses. We also believe that retaining and growing diversity in news coverage and newsrooms is imperative to business sustainability and future success.

These newspapers serve some of the most diverse communities in the country. Any loss of local, in-depth coverage would be a loss to the public.

From our conversations with the company, up to 40 jobs may be lost in MediaNews’ newsrooms. We have urged MediaNews to retain as many journalists of color as possible in the remaining newsrooms because we can only serve our readers and advertisers when we reflect their diverse needs.

The alliance partners at UNITY – the Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association and National Association of Hispanic Journalists — stand ready to help journalists of color who are losing their jobs.

AAJA has compiled job listings and we encourage affected journalists of color to reach out to us at info@unityjournalists.org. We encourage other members of alliance groups to send us journalism job openings.

In this difficult economic time for our industry, we all have to help each other.

As Great Recession thaws, UNITY more important than ever

Joanna Hernandez portrait

Joanna Hernandez, UNITY President

From the President of UNITY:

I am humbled and honored to have been elected president of UNITY: Journalists of Color, representing the joint mission of the Native American Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

As everyone has reasons for doing things, I want to share what motivated me to run for president of UNITY.

Job losses in the news industry significantly outpace losses in the overall economy

UNITY 2009 Layoff Tracker Report shows sharp quarterly spikes in job losses

MCLEAN, Va.  — Since the Lehman Bros. collapse last September, the journalism industry lost jobs at almost three times the rate of jobs lost in the economy each month.

UNITY’s 2009 Layoff Tracker Report shows an average 22% increase in journalism jobs lost each month from September 2008 through August 2009. In contrast, the economy shed jobs at an average pace of plus 8% each month during the same period.

“The news industry has been hemorrhaging jobs long before the economic crisis began last year,” said Onica N. Makwakwa, executive director of UNITY. “These numbers confirm that the economic downturn has hit the news industry very, very hard.”

The news industry has shed 35,885 since Sept. 15, 2008, and 46,599 jobs since UNITY began tracking job losses on Jan. 1, 2008.

Industry layoffs hit a peak in December 2008 when 7,398 jobs were lost. Since January 2008, 201 media outlets have closed.

UNITY data also shows sharp spikes during periods when quarterly financial reports from public media companies come due.

“As the news industry shapes a new future and companies battle the financial storm, it’s important to remember that it’s about people too,” said Makwakwa.

UNITY urges news media companies to redouble their retraining efforts to assist staff in making the transition to the new media world.

UNITY began the Layoff Tracker project in January 2008 in response to the increase in layoffs in the journalism industry. The report is compiled from SEC filings and self-reported data from 1,101 print and broadcast media outlets. It includes jobs lost in layoffs and buyouts, as well as by attrition.

UNITY Layoff Tracker 2009 Report (1.7MB PDF, requires the free Adobe Reader.)

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Contact: Onica Makwakwa
UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.
(703) 854-3585

About UNITY: Journalists of Color
UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. is a strategic alliance advocating news coverage about people of color, and aggressively challenging its organizations at all levels to reflect the nation’s diversity. UNITY, representing more than 10,000 journalists of color, is comprised of four national associations: Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Native American Journalists Association.
In addition to planning the largest regular gathering of journalists in the nation, UNITY develops programs and institutional relationships that promote its mission. For more information on UNITY, visit www.unityjournalists.org, email info@unityjournalists.org or call (703) 854-3585.

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