Sarah Glover, the president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the oldest and largest professional association for journalists of color in the country, released a statement today, December 8, rejecting assertions that the NABJ was in financial trouble.
The statement, while not outright naming critics, comes a day after a piece from The Huffington Post alleged that the group is running a severe defecit and is at risk of closing its doors. The Huffington Post piece addresses both deficits and what it describes as "secretiveness of the association’s leadership around the shortfall," noting that current and former NABJ leadership and board members would not comment on the shortfall.
Glover issued a report in October describing the NABJ’s 2016 priority to erase the deficit, which was projected at $380,000 for a nearly $2.5 million budget. Glover did not respond to The Huffington Post’s request for elaboration on the deficit’s source, only saying that the organization’s "2015 convention did not yield the projected revenue as outlined in the budget by the previous board."
Glover, who works as the social media editor for NBC Owned Television Stations, affirmed in her new statement that the NABJ is flourishing, and that "anyone who suggests that NABJ is close to shutdown mode obviously does not know our organization." She commented on action in the past month, as well as some changes to the board, that she says will help reverse the shortfall:
In the last 30 days, we have made adjustments on the expense side like most media companies continue to do when faced with fiscal challenges. We also have generated revenue in excess of $100,000 in that short period of time. Our savings and investments remain strong even after we have, like many households, temporarily dipped in to shore up cash shortfalls. Keep in mind that cash flow and budgets are two different animals. NABJ does not have current debt. However, we are trending to end 2015 with a deficit.
The Huffington Post piece also alleges that* NABJ may have to use funds from grants, including a recent $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation for "strategic planning," to cover operation costs until revenue allows for repayment—a controversial practice for which a Ford Foundation spokesperson said the NABJ hasn’t requested permission:
A Ford Foundation spokesman clarified that the NABJ grant money was intended solely to help the organization plan for the future. “While our program team has spoken with NABJ about the financial challenges, there has been no request to un-restrict the funds,” the spokesman said.
Glover’s letter does not address the spending of nearly $200,000 by NABJ board members over three years—expenditures revealed by an All Digitocracy investigation on April 15. Click here to read Glover’s statement in full. (H/t The Huffington Post, All Digitocracy)
*Update: December 9, 2015, 6:24 p.m. ET
In a earlier version of this post, Colorlines repeated a claim that the NABJ was considering using a Ford Foundation strategic planning grant to cover its daily operations. But we failed to attribute the claim to its source, a December 7 Huffington Post article titled, "Why The Country’s Largest Minority Journalism Group May Close."
In a letter e-mailed to multiple people at the Huffington Post on December 8, NABJ’s board of directors disputes the claim: "That was never NABJ’s plan. It was suggested as a possibility by the treasurer in his report to the board during its October meeting in Washington, D.C. This was immediately corrected during the meeting, where it was acknowledged that the funds would not be used for anything other than their guaranteed purpose."
NABJ president Sarah Glover forwarded the board’s letter to Colorlines on December 9. Colorlines has not reviewed the official minutes of the meeting.