BOB GARFIELD: The resignation of New York Times Managing Editor Gerald Boyd under the cloud of the Jayson Blair scandal came as a terrible blow to the black journalistic community. Boyd was one of the most prominent members of the National Association of Black Journalists whose president, Condace Pressley, joins me now. Condace, welcome to On the Media.
CONDACE PRESSLEY: Thank you for the invitation to be with you.
BOB GARFIELD: It was several days into the Jayson Blair fiasco before I looked at a newspaper and realized that the guy is black, and I-- I guess I want Ugh! Did you go - Ugh! - or, or what was your reaction?
CONDACE PRESSLEY: It disappointed me greatly because I knew that there would be many across the country who would not see the fundamental disservice that a journalist had done to the profession --that people were going to see that this was a black man who had done this terrible, egregious thing.
BOB GARFIELD:Were this a perfect world, Jayson Blair being exposed would have been regarded as, you know, a bad apple showing up in the barrel and who--by the way who just happened to be black and nothing further need to be said about that. I suppose it's also true that if we were in a perfect world, Gerald Boyd getting forced out of the New York Times would also be regarded as a managing editor who got caught not managing his staff properly and got fired and he's black, so what? But that's clearly not the case. It's most deflating for you that Gerald Boyd who was such a prominent success as a black journalist has taken a fall here.
CONDACE PRESSLEY: Any time you've got a black person who is in a significant editorial position and that person leaves the job for whatever reason -- being forced out as Gerald Boyd was, or simply leaving to take another opportunity at another company -- it creates a tremendous void, and now we're asking ourselves the question --who's next? I, I suspect that it is highly unlikely that a person of color will be named as the next executive editor or the next managing editor at the New York Times and that troubles me greatly. Here we had someone who was passionate about our issues, passionate about the job, passionate about the paper who's not going to be there any more, and we've lost a voice and a great opportunity!
BOB GARFIELD:Now it's probably been established to a fare thee well that we can't believe anything Jayson Blair says including the words "and" and "the." Nonetheless he has declared that both race and racism had parts in, in this scandal. And by "race" we can only presume he was talking about what advantages there were for him, for Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd and others at the New York Times to cultivate a young black talent. Will, in the wake of this fiasco, newspapers -do you believe - shy away from taking the extra step to cultivate young black talent?
CONDACE PRESSLEY: Bob there are going to be newspapers in particular in small and middle market America that are going to look at the New York Times and say we don't want that to happen here, and in that case, yes, I'm greatly concerned that there could be backlash. I'm looking to see all the companies recruiting at the NABJ annual convention coming up in August in Dallas, Texas, and I'd like to see the word come from the senior managers at these companies that look -- Jayson Blair was a bad man. We are going to make sure that we look out for people who are like that, but knowing that he's, he's an aberration. He's not the norm. The message has to come from the top down that diversity not only is the right thing to do but it's good for our business.
BOB GARFIELD:Let me ask you one more question -- about the supply side of the equation. With Jayson Blair and now Gerald Boyd going so publicly down in flames, are you concerned about young college students who may turn away from journalism as a potential career and go into education, investment banking or anything else where they won't be so scrutinized, so much in the fishbowl?
CONDACE PRESSLEY: No, I'm not concerned, because wherever African-American professionals seek to make their living, we're always going to be in the fishbowl. I don't know why, I just know that's true. So if it's blacks in investment banking or blacks in education or blacks in the military or blacks in any profession, it would seem that as a culture we are not at the same place as our Asian and our Latino and our Native American brothers are where people still see black first. And will we ever get to a day when that doesn't happen? Probably not in my lifetime.
BOB GARFIELD: All right. Well Condace, thank you so much!
CONDACE PRESSLEY: Bob thank you for the opportunity.
BOB GARFIELD:Condace Pressley is the Assistant Program Director at WSB Radio in Atlanta and also the president of the National Association of Black Journalists.