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Newsroom Diversity Drives SPJ Executive To Quit Regional Post en Ed McIntosh informed local chap ter presidents of the Society of Professional Journalists that he was quitting as their regional director, he not only cited his increased workload in his new job in Communications Services at Tenneco Gas in Houston, but also his concern about the society’s “endless involvement in politically correct social and political issues like ‘diversity in the newsroom,’ which is the theme of the organization’s national convention in Miami this October. In a four-page letter to Georgiana Vines, SPJ’s national president, McIntosh expanded on his concerns at the “headlong stampede into the ‘diversity’ tar pit,” which also caused him not only to quit the unpaid position, which is in charge of the organization’s activities in Texas and Oklahoma, but also to turn in his membership card. “While you may think ‘diversity in the newsroom’ is the kind of trendy social issue SPJ should involve itself in, I will tell you that what it reallyis is nothing more [than] sugar-coated. code for ‘no whites need apply,’ McIntosh wrote. He stated there has not been a single white male hired in more than five years as an onair reporter in Houston, “a direct result of this multiculturalism nonsense that continues to spread its ugly tentacles throughout this country.” He also reported being troubled at the “tacit endorsement of homosexual journalist groups that are springing up around the country” and groused at the society’s “lack. of mission and a clear vision to achieve that mission,” accusing it of losing touch with its membership. “In my view, there is only one real issue facing the journalism community today It’s jobs, stupid,” he wrote. “You can wail and moan about the First Amendment, Freedom of Information Acts, Sunshine laws or ethics ’til the cows come home, but none of that means diddley unless there is a growing not shrinking base of working journalists to concern themselves about these important issues.” McIntosh’s deputy regional director and designated successor, Walter Borges, a reporter for Texas Lawyer magazine in Austin, said he felt McIntosh was out of touch with the general consensus that newsrooms should do more to reflect the communities they cover. “I do support the diversity efforts and what the national and the various chapters are doing,” Borges said, noting that when he was president of the Austin SPJ chapter he had supported the formation of a statewide association of gay and lesbian journalists, as well as black and Hispanic organizations. “All of these groups have legitimate concerns,” he said. Vines, in a letter acknowledging McIntosh’s resignation, wrote that the board was the appropriate forum to air his differences with the convention planners and the board on the diversity issue. “I’m sorry you were unable to attend any meeting since being elected in November, so that you could address your viewpoints and we could discuss them thoroughly,” Vines said. “We are sorry you are terminating your membership in SPJ. We feel there is plenty of room for differences within SPJ. But it’s important that we communicate them and not let our disagreements fester for years.” Mercedes de Uriarte, associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a consultant to the Austin American -Statesman and other news media on diversity issues, said McIntosh’s criticism puzzled her. “White males are still applying for jobs and they’re still being hired,” she said. Uriarte said she has not noticed a lack of white male TV anchors generally, although she was unfamiliar with the Houston market. But she noted that broadcast and print media managers have recognized since the late 1970s that they needed tO diversify their staffs to more accurately portray events in minority communities. The American Society of Newspaper Editors reported 85.5 percent of Texas daily newspaper editorial employees in 1992 were white. Hispanic Americans accounted for 8.6 percent, African Americans were 4.3 percent, Asian Americans were .1.1 percent and 0.3 percent were Native Americans, all still below their proportions in the general population of the state. A national survey of TV and radio stations by Vernon Stone of the University of Missouri found 81.5 percent of TV newsroom employees in 1992 were white and 88.7 percent of radio news employees were white. Stone said there had been an increase in Hispanic TV employees over the previous year, to 6 percent, while 10 percent were black, 2 percent were Asian and 0.5 percent were Native American. J.C. Death Watch Texas appears to be on a record pace of executions with its 14th condemned pris oner put to death September 3. Johnny James, 39, a former Winnie truck driver, was the second prisoner put to death in a week, the seventh in five weeks and the 68th since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982 as Texas continued its steppedup pace of executions. James was convicted of capital murder in the 1985 abduction and murder of a High Island bar owner in Chambers County. He also reportedly raped and shot another woman, whom he apparently left for dead. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal that the trial court had not considered his alcoholism and the abuse he suffered as a child as mitigating factors and his execution left 365 on the nation’s largest death row, in Huntsville Richard James Wilkerson, 29, was executed August 31. He was 19 at the time of the July 1, 1983, killings of four people at a Houston amusement center. Two companions also were convicted of capital murder, although one of them received a life sentence because he was 16 at the time. The state’s 14 executions this year are the most since 1936. The record since 1924, when the state took over from the counties the responsibility of executing condemned prisoners, is 20 in 1935. At that time the electric chair was used. Texas, with 12, led the way in executions in the United States during 1992, according to the recently-published Amnesty International Report 1993. Thirty -one prisoners were executed in the United States last year, more than any one year since executions were resumed in 1977, according to the human rights organization, which opposes the death penalty. More than 2,600 prisoners were under sentence of death in 34 states and four states carried out their first executions in a quarter-century or more. AI cited the Texas case of Johnny Garrett, who in February 1992 became the fifth juvenile offender to be executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated, in violation of international standards which prohibit the execution of people under 18 at the time of the crime. Garrett was convicted of raping and murdering an elderly nun in At least six other prisoners suffering from mental illness, brain damage or mental retardation were executed, in violation of United Nations guidelines, AI reported. During 1992 worldwide, 1,708 prisoners are known to have been executed in 35 countries and 2,697 were sentenced to death. China accounted for 1,079 executions and 1,891 death sentences. In Mexico, our potential free-trade ally, AI noted the widespread use of torture and ill-treatment by law-enforcement agencies; at least one person died as a result of torture, the group reported. Six prisoners of conscience, members of an indigenous community, were detained and another was killed in what AI called an extrajudicial execution during a raid on a house in La Trinidad Yaveo, Oaxaca, and scores of others were arbitrarily detained and ill-treated by the security forces during land disputes and peaceful demonstrations. Little progress was reported in clarifying the whereabouts of hundreds of people who disappeared in previous years, AI reported. Regarding our other free-trade ally, Canada, two criminal suspects both Chinese immigrants were allegedly ill-treated during a police raid on their house in Vancouver, British Columbia. C THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5