UNITY: The members have spoken

I’m just writing this to update my recent post on UNITY’s name change and offer a few thoughts.

First, I want to applaud the UNITY leadership for opening up the process I described in my previous post and giving members a real choice, albeit a difficult one. And I applaud the membership for choosing the most inclusive name that reflects the reality of the current coalition.

Understand that I am well aware of how much this debate has complicated matters, and I am equally aware that UNITY has challenges that will prove difficult to resolve, particularly if we are ever going to reunite with NABJ. In the long run, I firmly believe that UNITY has done the right thing, but I would be a fool not to recognize how difficult things are in the short run.

So I offer a few encouraging thoughts as we approach the new year.

UNITY: Journalists for Diversity has a just mission. Funding it will be the goal of determined and resourceful leadership, and each board member must make it his/her responsibility to bring in new sources of revenue.

The mission of UNITY remains consistent with the mission of NABJ, but reunification will only take place if it is not at NABJ’s expense. UNITY must be self-sustaining, not dependent on any single alliance partner. Anyone who doesn’t believe that’s possible is an obstacle to UNITY’s progress. Only when we can approach NABJ with something to offer and nothing to gain will we ever hope to lure them back into the coalition in any meaningful way. We can’t “need” NABJ financially. We must need them because the mission is, frankly, incomplete without them (and always will be).

I do not doubt that there are those who thought my voice, my advocacy, amounted to an interference that has hindered UNITY’s long-term prospects. To those, I say that my position was self-evident and resoundingly supported by the public vote of the membership of each existing alliance partner. True leadership is a balance between doing what the people want and taking the people someplace they would not otherwise go. Knowing when to choose which course is the mark of a leader’s wisdom. Whether the correct course has been taken here, as I believe it has, is for the future to judge. That future is ours to shape.

I am but one member of one coalition partner. I spoke for myself. My apologies to anyone who feels I spoke out of turn. We’re journalists. We tend to do that.

UNITY was forged on the ability of disparate groups to find common ground. If we are to speak of honoring that history, it is incumbent on us to live up to it, now, with the coalition we have, and with an eye toward eventual, not immediate, reunification with those who left the coalition but not the cause.

Happy New Year, alliance partners present and past.

Make them hear you.

Published by Olmeda

At-large director on the national board of the Society of Professional Journalists. Former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and of UNITY: Journalists of Color. An extreme moderate, not committed to political ideology. Stepfather to two wonderful daughters. Father to two wonderful sons. Husband. Rogue karaoke singer. Humanist

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