Striving for diversity in communications industry — Local NAMIC advances national agenda



By Charles Hallman 

Staff Writer


The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) was founded in 1980. As its mission, NAMIC “educates, advocates and empowers” for diversity in the communications industry.

The group also helps develop the skills of Blacks and other persons of color in such areas as mentoring and leadership, as well as maintaining an online job bank to create “a pipeline of diverse talent” for the industry.

Diversity is also the main focus for the local NAMIC Minnesota chapter, says Comcast Regional Sales Manager Tommy McNeal. “I think it is important to bring like-type businesses in the communications industry to events like this,” he told the MSR prior to his group’s June 4 leadership forum and dinner in St. Paul. “We focus on programmers, print and radio as well as cable.”

After two terms as the chapter’s vice president, McNeal said that he is now in his second term as president. “I’ve been a member for almost five years.”

The communications industry should be as diverse as the public audience that uses media, contends McNeal. “With all the jobs within the communications industry, it is important for [NAMIC] to make sure that we are empowering people of color.”

His chapter annually sponsors local college students of color studying communications and other related fields in the NAMIC’s mentorship program, said McNeal.

Asked to briefly compare the Twin Cities media landscape with other parts of the country as it pertains to diversity, he replied, “Statistically, Minnesota is becoming a melting pot. I think it is important to have an organization like this to continue to enhance that as its focus.”

The local NAMIC chapter was formed after a 2002 workshop was held at then-Pilot City (now NorthPoint) in North Minneapolis, noted Pete Rhodes, a past president. He proudly told the dinner audience that it has increased its membership by 30 percent each year in the past three years.

Rhodes founded Minnesota’s first and only Black-owned cable programming channel in 1984. He started out in 25,000 homes and now reaches 300,000, he said. However, Rhodes believes that the local and national communications industry must improve its diversity efforts.

“When you look at the entertainment and communications industry, and the lack of African Americans and other people of color in the industry, the words ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are still something that my industry needs to strive for. It is not as difficult as it may seem, but it is important.”


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