On behalf of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists Executive Board, I would like to formally notify the organization of our current affiliation with NABJ based on recent policies enforced by their current board administration. Our Executive Board has thoroughly considered all options on the table to remain in affiliation with NABJ and have come to the unfortunate conclusion that their current board's leadership is not conducive, productive, and/or accommodating to our needs as a chapter at this time.
Until there is a more reputable National President that can represent our needs in good faith, alongside a board that can prioritize principle over personal politics, we have zero confidence in NABJ's current leadership team. We will not be submitting a chapter audit at this time. We will reconsider our organization's options of affiliation to their organization when a new NABJ President is elected that may best understand the concerns we have raised with them for over a year.
We have weighed various options before coming to this decision, we have caucused with our executive team, chapter members, and legal consultants. NABJ's current chapter expectations are simply inequitable, unintelligent, and not sustainable for the growth of our organization that will turn 50 very soon. This recently announced NABJ chapter split is an overreach, the updated chapter audit policy is provincial, and the NABJ board's steadfast refusal to speak to our board collectively about these concerns after multiple requests over the past year is downright inexcusable and immature.
Our organization has served at the pleasure of NABJ for decades. Our members have deserved better for far too long. After several attempts to discuss these issues with NABJ's leadership -- their failure to engage us shows us that they don't care about our standing within their organization. NABJ leaders have been saying the silent part the loudest for a while, and we hear them loud and clear.
To reiterate why we have reached this decision, a few major things to consider:
The New NABJ Audit Requests for Chapter Membership Emails
Our chapter leadership and respective members feel that this current policy overreaches beyond PABJ's role in tracking memberships. For NABJ to request the email addresses of all of our chapter members to confirm their eligibility to join the organization isn't necessary or feasible.
The New NABJ Revenue Blueprint (Chapter Splits)
A NABJ Constitutional Chapter Concern (see hyperlinked)
Overall, these issues are serious concerns that we didn't take lightly in our decision to not move forward with our audit for NABJ affiliation. As always, our executive board will always be available to discuss with NABJ leadership. I've personally spoken to several board members over the past year who have been more transparent individually with our leadership team -- but we know that not one individual outside of the National President and/or Executive Director speaks on behalf of NABJ.
The PABJ Executive Board has made it clear to the leadership of NABJ's board and staffers that we hope that they consider our concerns and recommendations in good faith and act responsibly in how they leverage mandates on chapters. PABJ is one of the first chapters to help form NABJ. As NABJ celebrated their 47th birthday this week, it was disheartening to reflect on how much this organization has changed in its embrace of PABJ.
Following our decision not to submit the audit based on dispute with PABJ membership emails, the chapter split blueprint, and constitutional concerns -- NABJ President Dorothy Tucker reached out to me with the following response:
"Your decision not to submit a chapter audit and remain out of compliance means the Philadelphia of Black Journalists will not receive the benefits of being affiliated with the National Association of Black Journalists.
Furthermore, we must abide by our constitution. Chapter 5, Article 1, Section 2, (B) of the NABJ Constitution reads: The applying organization, at the time of its application for alignment with NABJ, and at the time of the annual renewal of that status, submits to NABJ a membership list showing that two-thirds of the organization’s members are eligible for NABJ status as provided in Chapter 4, Article I, Sections 2-6 of this constitution."
We can respectfully agree to disagree and until the NABJ Constitution and audit requirements change, PABJ will not be affiliated with NABJ.
To reduce rumors, gossip, and confusion on our stance. Here's a brief FAQs on this:
Question: So what does this directly mean for you as a PABJ member?
Answer: Nothing major. PABJ is an independent 501(c)3 that solely fundraises and supports itself outside of NABJ. PABJ has never been fiscally sponsored or co-owned by NABJ. Our organization predates NABJ's very existence.
Question: Will PABJ forever not be affiliated with NABJ?
Answer: Only time will tell. If the next NABJ President (who will be elected next year) decides to influence better policy on behalf of organizations like PABJ, then things could definitely change. PABJ would love to be affiliated with NABJ, but not under these current inequitable terms.
Question: How long have PABJ leaders raised these issues with NABJ?
Answer: For over a year, we have been in back and forth emails and communication with NABJ board leaders and staff about these concerns. PABJ leaders have previously discussed these issues during our general membership meetings.
Question: What does NABJ President Dorothy Tucker mean when she says PABJ "will not receive the benefits of being affiliated with the National Association of Black Journalists"?
Answer: Now unaffiliated with NABJ, PABJ cannot apply for their Chapter of the Year award, we won't get the chapter affiliate discount during the NABJ convention, and we won't be eligible for their micro-grants they give out to chapters. To be honest, it's not that big of a deal to our overall operations as a nonprofit.
Question: But how does this individually affect me if I'm a NABJ member?
Answer: You simply won't get a chapter affiliate discount for the NABJ convention. That's it. As an individual NABJ member, you will still have all of your other privileges and benefits associated with their organization.
Question: But how does this individually affect me if I'm a PABJ member?
Answer: It doesn't. NABJ doesn't run anything over here at PABJ.
Question: What social/cultural changes, if any, will happen from this current succession from NABJ?
Answer: We will not be using any NABJ logos, wordage, and/or promoting any of their programming within our organization. But no worries, we rarely did anyway.
Question: Would there be a problem if PABJ members want to be NABJ members on their own?
Answer: Absolutely not. Our board members are individually NABJ members, but as for PABJ affiliation -- they have made it difficult to be associated with them as a nonprofit in good faith.
Question: Last question, what can I do, if anything?
Answer: Nothing much, just await the opportunity to support better NABJ members running for their board in 2023 to hopefully change this policy around.
Question: Okay, final question. If the policy changes in favor of PABJ, will we apply for affiliation again?
In the meantime, we look forward to steadfast change and progress in the new year. Happy PABJ Independence Day!