1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Scoop Jackson's article from Espn the lack of black sports editors

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by walden, Jul 14, 2006.

  1. walden

    walden New Member

    By Scoop Jackson
    Page 2

    There's a story I tell whenever I go to a high school or college to speak.

    I ask everyone to tell me how many black professional basketball players they know. Depending on the size of the room, 90 percent of the time, the students say they can name most of the players in the NBA.

    There are roughly 350 players in the League, about 85 percent of them black. We usually round to about 300 -- therefore, the students claim to know for a fact that there are 300 professional basketball players.

    Then I ask them to name 300 black sportswriters.

    The room always gets eerily quiet. Beyond mortuary.

    Michael Wilbon's name comes up, Stephen A.'s, "that black man with the beard who's on 'SportsReporters' a lot" gets mentioned (for the record, William C. Rhoden), and, if they're seriously official with their sports journalist knowledge, Phil Taylor and Ralph Wiley will get nods.

    Past that, more silence.

    Then I make a point.

    "Do you know why you can't name 300 black sportswriters?" I say to them. "Because 300 of us don't exist."

    The room becomes less quiet. Mumbling. Private conversations break out.

    Then I make the point: "Which means you all have a better chance to make it to the NBA then you do doing what I do for a living."

    I wish I wrote well enough to describe the looks on their faces. Every time.

    The story I came to tell received some publicity recently. The story is about a research project initiated by the Associated Press Sports Editors and under the direction of Richard Lapchick (who contributes to ESPN.com) of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida. The study looked at how many black sports editors at APSE newspapers there were in America.

    It was a study that came back with these numbers: four out of 305.

    Last week, Norman Chad, syndicated columnist for The Washington Post, wrote a column headlined "I'm in the White Business."

    Four out of 305. Enough to make a white journalist turn white.

    Or write about.

    It's a story that the fewer than 300 black sportswriters have been talking about for years, but it took a white writer to bring it to the masses.

    And now that it's out, it must be accompanied by substance. Not that Mr. Chad didn't do the story justice, but this study is about just us, the 1.3 percent and those who live with this number every day, the ones who won't get the opportunity to become editors of the pages of sports.

    It's a story we've been screaming forever, but no one wanted to hear. One that we've all thought was one of the biggest in sports, but no one wanted to read.

    Four out of 305.

    As Chad wrote, the excuse for why there are so few black sport editors is because "usually [newspapers] aren't looking for black people or claim they can't locate them." I had that "reason" spun on me once at a magazine. And of course I let it slide, saying to the publisher, "Cool, I'll let you have that. Finding black [writers] is not your job, not your responsibility -- it's mine."

    To me, his line of thought was not Mark Fuhrman-ish. But the next comment was.

    "But none of them is going to be as good as you," the publisher said.

    It is here we must deal with the issue of race and journalism as it exists in sports head-up, mano a mano, white-on-black.

    "Why," I asked the publisher, "does a black writer have to be held up to my standards and every white writer that gets an assignment or white editor who gets a job with this magazine isn't?"

    He said nothing. Couldn't. And this guy is far from a racist, but I told him, "That's the most racist [expletive] I've ever heard."
  2. lantaur

    lantaur Well-Known Member

    Some initial thoughts:

    1. How many white sports writers could students name? Hell, they name whomever is on TV. (not saying there aren't black sportswriters - or enough - but this seemed a poor way of explaining it)
    2. I do think it is good papers are being called out for lack of diversity in "power" positions. Hell, sports gets called out for it all the time. I'm guessing this isn't just in newspapers, but perhaps TV and radio, too.
    3. Incredible how Scoop Jackson somehow turns this into how good a writer he is (or thinks he is). He lost me once he got to that point. I just rolled me eyes.
    4. I'm sad that there are still so many black-white issues in (in honor of sports cliche week)"this day and age."
  3. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I don't have all my thoughts on this subject -- a subject that's been bugging me for a while -- all worked out just yet, but I do have a couple I'll try to share:

    1, There is a great deal of competition throughout the professional classes for talented minorities, and that includes not only blacks but other groups as well. (How many Asian-American SE's? How many of Hispanic descent? How many women of any race?) I worked for a couple of good guys at USAT who could have gone onto be SEs, but they opted to move out of sports and up the ladder to opportunities they were surely qualified for in visible positions -- and making more money -- where there was a great deal of incentive to find and promote minority candidates.

    They had classmates who could have followed them into journalism, but decided to pursue the tremendous opportunities that awaited them in business, law, medicine, etc. The very things we bitch about all the time -- bad pay, long hours, etc. -- push a lot of potential candidates into other fields. A proportion of those are black, certainly, but the loss of each one of those hurts more because there are less of them to begin with.

    2, Scoop's math is fucked up if he can't see that it's still easier to get a job as a sportswriter than to make in to the NBA. There's always room for good people in this business, as screwed up as it is sometimes. He isn't doing our business any favors by pushing that line of thought.
  4. Birdscribe

    Birdscribe Active Member

    Now I've seen everything... Scoop Jackson, the walking, talking, barely-readable advertisement for quotas in journalism lecturing us on hiring.

    One of the more obscene things it's ever been my misfortune to read this side of Ann "Dude Looks Like a Lady" Coulter.

    I just threw up in my mouth. :mad:
  5. Birdscribe

    Birdscribe Active Member

    Scoop's math isn't the only thing that's fucked up, Hej. And he isn't doing the biz any favors period.
  6. BostonCeltz

    BostonCeltz Guest

    Scoop's an awful read...
  7. tonysoprano

    tonysoprano Member


    What's it been, 24 hours since we've gone without it?

    Spare me.
  8. greenie

    greenie Member

    Your readers wish you did, too, Scoop.

    And if Scoop Jackson is the standard of greatness in this biz, this industry is in even bigger trouble than I thought.
  9. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    OK, I don't know if there are 300 black sports writers or not, but there are hundreds, maybe thousands of places you can be a sports writer. To be an NBA player you have to make one of 30 teams and I bet you'd get farther walking into the Rocky Mount Telegram office and asking to cover a high school football game than walking into Pat Riley's office and asking to play power forward for the Heat, no matter what race you are.
  10. tyler durden 71351

    tyler durden 71351 Active Member

    Picking on Scoop is like poking a dumb kid with a stick...it's just toooo easy.
  11. JME

    JME Member

    That is an abortion of a column. I'm especially fond of this prose:

  12. KP

    KP Active Member

    seriously official, is that in our style guide?
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page