By Mara Schiavocampo, Nightly News Digital Correspondent
All this week, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm in Chicago for the Unity Convention. Every four years a coalition of four organizations (the national associations of Black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian American journalists) hold a joint convention. This year organizers expect about 10,000 people.
A few days before the convention began, it was announced that Senator Barack Obama will be speaking here on Sunday. Sunday just happens to be the last day of the convention, when most people return home. So a lot of folks who may have wanted to hear the Senator speak will miss it. Others are scrambling to change their travel plans at the last minute. (Senator McCain was invited but declined, citing travel obligations.)
When it comes to Senator Obama, one issue we as Black journalists face is that of a perceived bias in favor of his candidacy. Many African Americans -- journalists and non-journalists, conservatives and liberals alike -- admit that Obama's success inspires great pride.
So I asked a question of some my colleagues here at the convention: Can Black journalists cover Obama in an unbiased way? Here's what some of them said:
Marcus Mabry, Assistant Business Editor, New York Times and author of "Twice As Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power":
"Is a Republican journalist unable to cover George W. Bush? Part of being a journalist is being able to put your personal feelings aside to do your job. According to polls, a plurality of White Americans support John McCain. Does that mean no White reporters should cover John McCain?"
Nicole Childers, Executive Producer, NPR News & Notes:
"I think it's definitely a symbolic victory for all African Americans. I do think it requires us to be extra diligent… in making sure that [the coverage] is balanced."
Carole Simpson, former Anchor, ABC News:
"Yes, yes, of course I feel proud of him. I'm happy and I'm proud that someone has been able to do it. I just hope he can back it up.
"You're a reporter and you have to be objective and you have to be fair and you have to tell the good and the bad of who you're covering or you're not doing your job."
Patrick Riley, Pop culture blogger and freelance producer:
"I think it's quite accurate that Blacks are across the board proud of this moment because it is history. So, hands down, I think most journalists are just that: proud as all get-out. I empathize with those journalists that are bound by their objectivity…because I know they just want to scream and holler. I know they do."