Last week, Fox News made headlines – everywhere but on Fox News.
On Thursday, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists announced it no longer wants Fox News sponsoring its convention that starts in two weeks.
Problem is, NAHJ doesn’t host the Excellence in Journalism convention by itself. It’s co-hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists and the awkwardly named Radio Television Digital News Association. While NAHJ returned nearly $17,000 in sponsorship money, SPJ and RTDNA decided to keep Fox News as a sponsor – and keep their share of the money.
That’s infuriated not only NAHJ but some of SPJ’s own members. As SPJ’s longest-serving board member, I supported the Fox News sponsorship (and obviously, I’m speaking just for myself). I had five practical reasons…
- NAHJ isn’t citing Tucker Carlson’s white supremacy or Sean Hannity’s race-baiting, but a minor radio host named Todd Starnes, who recently compared migrants to Nazis. Except he did it on Fox Nation, a subscription streaming service. So you’ve not only never heard of Todd Starnes, you can’t even hear his offensive comments unless you pay extra.
- Fox News long ago signed a contract, and the convention bags with its logo are already printed.
- Sponsorship is just like advertising. It’s not an endorsement of the product. Fox News has advertised its shows in newspapers before, and those papers didn’t refuse and return the checks.
- NAHJ had no problem taking Fox News money for a decade prior to right now, even though it’s been offensive for all that time.
- So what changed? I don’t want to say it’s because NAHJ president Hugo Balta started a job this year at rival MSNBC, yet that’s at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.
…but I had a philosophical reason, too. It goes likes this.
Last year, the Online News Association’s annual convention – which is much bigger than SPJ’s – accepted not only Fox News as a sponsor, but also the privacy-piercing Facebook, conservative-coercing Sinclair, and layoff-happy Gatehouse Media.
Should ONA ban some or all of these sponsors this year?
Should IRE ban one or both next year?
Almost every journalism school lists Fox News internship and job openings. Some include Fox News employees on their alumni advisory boards. For instance, a Fox News reporter currently sits on Columbia’s j-school Alumni Board.
Should j-schools stop publicizing Fox News internships and jobs? Should they ban Fox News employees from their advisory boards?
Should they stop doing that?
Earlier this year, the White House Correspondents’ Association was “pleased to announce that journalists from The Atlantic, Fox News, Reuters and the Washington Post are the winners of our 2019 journalism awards.”
Should it take that back?
Last month, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced it has nominated Fox News for its first-ever Emmy.
Should it rescind that?
In 2009, NAHJ inducted Fox News host Geraldo Rivera into its Hall of Fame.
Should he be un-inducted?
More than a few NAHJ members work at Fox News – because until this year, Fox News set up a recruiting booth in the convention’s exhibit hall.
Should those members be ousted and their dues returned?
Most newsrooms have several TV sets tuned all day to the major cable news networks.
Should they turn the channel on Fox News?
NAHJ’s president told The New York Times that working with Fox News “risks the integrity and credibility of NAHJ’s 35-year mission. To sit silently by is, in essence, to be complicit in the act itself.”
So how loudly should you stand up?
That’s the problem with banning major media outlets you don’t like – and make no mistake, I don’t like Fox News. But this summer, it had more prime-time viewers (2.4 million) than MSNBC (1.7 million) and CNN (761,000) combined.
Unfortunately, ignoring the nation’s largest (self-professed) news channel doesn’t make it go away. And as you can see from the above, if you want to scrub Fox News from the journalism scene, you have a lot of cleansing to do. Which raises two vexing questions…
Where do you start? And more importantly, where do you stop?