What Is the NABJ?

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NABJ logoNABJ stands for National Association of Black Journalists. According to the official website, it’s “an organization of journalists, students and media-related professionals that provides quality programs and services to and advocates on behalf of black journalists worldwide.” Founded in 1975 in Washington, D.C., the NABJ is the nation’s largest organization for journalists of color. Each summer, the NABJ holds its annual convention, which features seminars, workshops, and the presentation of numerous awards, among them Lifetime Achievement and Journalist of the Year.

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The NABJ is based in on the main campus of the University of Maryland. The association’s current president is Gregory H. Lee Jr., an assistant sports editor at the Boston Globe. Lee is the NABJ’s 19th president; the first, Charles “Chuck” Stone, Jr., served as an editor at three respected black newspapers—New York Age, Afro-American, and Daily Defender—and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. He’s also written the books Tell It Like It Is and Black Political Power in America.

The 37th annual NABJ Convention and Career Fair was held June 20–24th in New Orleans. Each year, the agency awards some $100,000 in internships and scholarships to high school and college students. Encouraging young people to enter the field has become especially important, as the NABJ reports that the industry has lost nearly 1,000 black journalists over the last 10 years. That, as well as the NABJ’s decision to sever ties with UNITY, a similar advocacy group launched in the ‘90s, has presented Lee with his biggest challenges of presidency thus far.

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“It is disheartening to see these newsrooms do not reflect the society that we walk every day,” Lee said in a press release, addressing the lack of black journalists in America.

In June 2012, Lee gave himself a B grade in terms of job performance, but former president Will Sutton expressed optimism about his abilities to keep the agency moving forward.

“The bottom line for Greg has always been to advocate for and to watch out for NABJ,” Sutton said. “Greg did that. He’s doing it, and I know he’ll keep doing it.”

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