A Throughline Of Diversity: PRNDI Becomes Public Media Journalists Association

Jun 15, 2019

Current members voted by show of hands to be named the Public Media Journalists Association
Credit Chloe Weber / WBAA

The 2019 PRNDI conference was the last of its kind. Voting members have spoken and what is now known as the Public Media Journalists Association will oversee the organization and all future conferences.

The name change hopes to both better represent the individuals working in public media newsrooms and allow new members to feel welcome at future conferences.

The proposal was introduced by board members who have anticipated this change since it was suggested at last year’s conference. The name Public Media Journalists Association, or PMJA -- tentatively pronounced (pim-JAH), was selected to retain the value on public radio that PRNDI advocated for.

Kimberley Cartwright, a news & public affairs director at WNCU, spoke during the board discussion to her hesitancy to adopt the new name, which no longer includes the word “radio.”

“With the name change radio won’t be the focus anymore,” she said. “… I think with the name change that comes with responsibility and that needs to [better] address how that will happen.”

Both President Alicia Zuckerman and Executive Director Terry Gildea responded to Cartwright’s reservations by pointing out that the value of radio will remain highly prized, though the face of it has been changing with digital and social media. "The train has left the station” Zuckerman said.

Further discussion pointed out that the face of public radio has been evolving for decades now and that regardless of the name change, the old name PRNDI would not properly represent the changing face of news.

Also approved at the business meeting was a change to how newsrooms are categorized by size in order to  bolster the number of full-time staff required to be labeled as a small, medium or large station. Audience members were sure to point out in discussion the vast difference between three members or less that constituted a small station, under the old policy, and five employees under the change. Local news leaders voiced concern that a station with as few as one employee is drastically different than one with five. There was a call, for example, for perhaps an “ultra small” category for newsrooms of one or two. The recategorization was approved after much discussion, but the seeds planted may generate future conversation in upcoming conferences.

The conference concluded with the election of three new board members and confirmation of one returning member. Shula Neuman of St. Louis Public Radio will represent large stations, including those under the recategorization of sixteen staff or more. Jonathan Reeves of KASU, a returning board member, will represent small stations. Brent Wolfe of WUNC will lead as treasurer. And Gabrielle Jones of WCVE joins the board as the At-Large Representative.