ABOVE PHOTO: Sandra D. Long (L) with Deirdre Childress, VP of Print NABJ.
(Photo by Robert Mendelsohn)
WASHINGTON, D.C.–The National Association of Black Journalists is deeply disappointed with Philadelphia Media Network’s decision to eliminate the job of NABJ Founder Sandra D. Long – the company’s highest-ranking African American woman.
Long, who served as vice president of editorial product development, left the newsroom of The Philadelphia Inquirer, her workplace of nearly 28 years, after bidding goodbye to colleagues on Wednesday.
Long told NABJ that, “I’m moving on. They terminated my job.”
“This is a sad day for journalism and diversity,” said NABJ President Kathy Y. Times. “We are grateful to Founder Long for her unwavering dedication to ensuring fair coverage of people of color in the Philadelphia community. She has worked extremely hard with The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, and our national leaders to make the upcoming NABJ convention in Philadelphia a success.”
NABJ had been in negotiations with the company to determine its role in our 2011 Convention and Career Fair, expected to draw more than 3,000 journalists to Philadelphia, Aug. 3-7. Plans were underway for several events coordinated by Long, including receptions, training, and the publication of the student-produced newspaper, the NABJ Monitor.
Philadelphia Media Network spokesman Mark Block said the media company would continue to work with NABJ to sponsor several convention events. Block is vice president for external relations for Philadelphia Media Network, parent company of the Inquirer.
“It was purely a budget decision,” said Block. “Sandra’s stellar record at the Inquirer and with NABJ speaks for itself.”
The announcement shocked leaders of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.
“Sandra’s absence at the Inquirer and the Daily News leaves a void in the heart and soul of the newsroom,” said Sarah J. Glover, president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. “She is a class act whose professionalism and character are unmatched. My head hangs low knowing she will no longer be a fixture at Philadelphia Media Network.”
“I am saddened by the sudden loss of Sandra to the management of The Inquirer. Long was the key player in The Inquirer’s support of the NABJ convention. All of us are in shock now about how quickly this has happened,” said Acel Moore, fellow NABJ Founder and Inquirer editor emeritus.
Long was among the leaders who had weathered years of transitions at the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and philly.com. Her position called for collaborations between the two newsrooms. Each year, she held a tea that focused on community issues and drew hundreds of black women to the Inquirer.
Long is one of 44 founders of NABJ, an organization of more than 3,000 journalists, students, and media-related professionals that provides quality programs and services to and advocates on behalf of black journalists worldwide.