A few short months ago, NPPA made a concerted effort to better recognize, celebrate and cultivate diversity and inclusion in our association – both in our leadership and our membership. And in that time, some seeds of our efforts have already begun to grow.
This year’s Best of Photojournalism contests were a great success in large part due to the diversity of the panels, which were infused with the judges’ wide-ranging perspectives and experiences. Their deliberations on ethics and equitable representation in visual journalism set a new high standard for the industry.
In this issue of News Photographer, you’ll read about a photojournalist (Page 67) who identifies as queer being moved to make self-care a priority while working in an industry where we routinely witness trauma and hardship. Our event chairs are ever so mindfully selecting their faculty panels. And now we’re going to take another step: building communities under the NPPA umbrella.
Robin Rayne, a member from Canton, Georgia, and a person of transgender and nonbinary experience, wrote to me after reading my prior president’s column on this topic. A photojournalist for 40 years, she felt sidelined from the industry about 20 years ago because of her gender transition. Today, Rayne says she feels welcomed “through the front door, so to speak.”
“My personal journey made me a stronger journalist,” says Rayne. “I connect easily with others who’ve been misunderstood, mocked, rejected and devalued because I lived it. Our life experiences shape who we become as journalists, and that’s true for every person in this business. News staffs are stronger when they reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.”
Rayne wants to help NPPA bring others of similar experience together so they, too, can feel accepted and welcomed. She hopes that the journalism industry can follow NPPA’s lead and actively welcome members of this community into newsrooms, and their work into publications.
My column resonated with Rayne, and Rayne’s letter resonated with me. It was a reminder to me that getting everybody under the NPPA “tent” can really make a difference in people’s lives and their careers. That’s ultimately why I signed up for this volunteer job. That’s why I care about NPPA.
And so in the coming months, NPPA will be forming a Communities of Practice program, with Rayne’s group – for those of transgender and nonbinary experience – as the very first.
In the tradition of the professional chapters NPPA once had, we hope Communities of Practice will bring NPPA members together in the spirit of camaraderie to share knowledge, ideas and experiences for professional and personal enrichment.
In the tradition of NPPA’s committees, we hope Communities of Practice will also occasionally offer NPPA’s national and regional leaders their guidance on how we can better serve them, and offer themselves as potential panelists, instructors, judges and elected leaders in the future.
If you would like to join this first Community of Practice, please contact Robin Rayne at [email protected].
If you would like to start a different Community of Practice of your own, please contact me at [email protected]. Diversity helps us lead, helps us understand others and can help us come together. ■