AP Lays Off Diversity Advocate

Journal-isms: Robert Naylor Jr. of the Associated Press says his position was eliminated.

Robert Naylor Jr.
Robert Naylor Jr.

Robert Naylor Jr., a diversity advocate within the Associated Press who was director of career development/news, was laid off on Friday, a day after the news cooperative announced it would restore a key diversity initiative, its internship programs.  

Naylor’s departure follows other layoffs, including those of other long-serving journalists of color: Dolores Barclay, East Coast entertainment editor, and Andrew Fraser, assistant Pennsylvania bureau chief, based in Philadelphia.

It also comes after Tom Curley, president and CEO of the Associated Press since 2003, announced last month he will step down this year.

Although the restoration of the intern programs was to take place after a year’s suspension, AP spokesmen had said in December it was conditional on “a budgetary review.” Naylor supervised many of the AP’s diversity programs as director of career development/news. He told fellow recruiter Bill Elsen, formerly of the Washington Post, that he planned to continue to be involved with students. “I love working with students,” he said.

The AP has not said who will take over Naylor’s responsibilities. Paul Colford, AP director of media relations, said by email on Saturday: “The AP remains committed to diversity. Nothing has altered that commitment. We are confident that a number of well-wired leaders in our newsroom and on the business side will continue to direct our efforts.”

Naylor, 55, grew up in Mississippi and arrived at the AP in 1987 after three years as metro editor at his hometown newspaper, the Meridian Star.

He sent this note Friday to his AP colleagues:

“After more than 24 years of being able to call myself a colleague of some the most amazing journalists on the planet, today is my last day at The Associated Press. My position has been eliminated.

“In many ways, it’s a sad day since AP has given me a professional home and family for so long. But I leave with a great sense of accomplishment and an eye toward the future. I will never lose my passion for finding and developing talent, or my fierce advocacy for newsroom diversity, which is both the right thing to do and good business.