Engaging and Supporting Writers with Many Voices

For Immediate Release -- February 27, 2017

For more information contact Sophia Bennett, (541) 505-6130, sophiamcbennett@gmail.com

American Society of Journalists and Authors Shows Commitment to Diversifying the Publishing Industry with Upcoming Conference

New York---The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) is committed to increasing diversity in the organization by bringing in qualifying members with different ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, genders and gender identities, sexual orientations, ages and disabilities. The upcoming 46th Annual Conference, Pivot. Publish. Prosper, scheduled for May 5 and 6 in New York City, will cover multicultural trends and offer a dialogue on how editors seek diverse voices. Members (and in some cases, non-members) can attend a wide variety of sessions, workshops, roundtables and panels that incorporate many different perspectives.

“When I was named conference chair and put out the call for speakers, I emphasized that diversity should be a consideration in panels and workshops,” said Estelle Erasmus, ASJA conference chair. “I also wanted our keynotes to offer diverse voices. I feel that we now have a wonderful program that not only offers that, but also represents a valued cadre of ASJA members.”

Two workshops at the conference are focused specifically on diversity:

**Finding and Working with Diverse Writers: Editors Share Experiences. This panel, which will be moderated by ASJA member Lottie Joiner and include editors such as Vanessa Willoughby, digital features editor of Teen Vogue, will review how publications can make a concerted effort to make assignments to diverse writers. It will also cover how diverse writers can find educational moments, teachable relationships and opportunities as freelancers.

**The Buzz on Book Publishing (Multicultural and Other Trends) will be moderated by ASJA member Susan Shapiro. Panelists include Beacon Press editor Rakia Clark; Penguin editor Beena Kamlani (who worked with Saul Bellow); literary agent Ryan Harbage; Alvina Ling, vice president and editor-in-chief of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; and Out magazine editor Les Fabian Brathwaite.

Sherry Paprocki, ASJA’s board president, said the conference’s focus on diversity reflects changes within the organization. “By sharing our experiences, we encourage each other to build our awareness for telling important stories that reflect all cultures.

“ASJA's growing membership is becoming more diverse every month,” Paprocki continued. “In part, that’s due to a large influx of millennials that are joining our organization. But no matter their age, ASJA is the conduit that can connect writers coming with these diverse backgrounds to potential editors, agents and other clients who will purchase their work.” Encouraging people to focus on publishing a variety of works for a variety of outlets—including books, magazine and newspaper articles, blog posts, custom content and other written pieces—is just good business.

As an organization, ASJA is reaching out to national organizations that represent writers from diverse backgrounds and exploring ways to partner. “Board members and committee chairs are aware that this is a really important piece of ASJA right now,” Paprocki said. With that mindset firmly in place, increasing diversity will continue to be a focus of the organization’s activities for years to come.

About the event

ASJA’s 46th Annual Conference, Pivot. Publish. Prosper, will help professional freelance journalists and authors grow their careers, writing and pitching skills, and professional networks. The event is open to members only on Friday, May 5 and the general public on Saturday, May 6. All activities will take place at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. The early bird conference fee (available until March 31) is $249 per day or $399 for both days for members, and $299 for non-members. Register and get more information about ASJA (including details about becoming a member) at http://www.asja.org.


  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
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    – Kenneth Tynan
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