By Kathy Y. Times
Some say Juan Williams’ comments about Muslims were wrong. Others say the former NPR news analyst’s words offended them, but they shouldn’t have cost him his job.
While offering commentary for Fox News, Williams said of getting on a plane: “If I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
Whether you side with Williams’ right to speak his opinion or National Public Radio’s decision to part ways with the veteran, his firing creates a void at the network. Williams’ was one of the few African American male voices heard on NPR.
That is the area that remains a key concern for the National Association of Black Journalists. Our leadership met with NPR executives in 2009 after releasing an open letter criticizing the network’s lack of diversity in management. We took this opportunity to call NPR for a progress report.
The network has made some progress since last fall’s meeting. At the time, the network had one African American vice president. Today, there are three.
Since our meeting, NPR has hired an NABJ member – an African American male. He is a national correspondent for NPR’s digital platform. An NPR spokesman says another black male hire is in the works, but it is too soon to disclose details.
Should NPR get a passing grade for this progress report? NABJ truly believes diversity is good for business, and we won’t rest until NPR’s on-air and management reflects the diversity of America.