Los Angeles Times Editor Shelby Coffey III was given the Ida B. Wells Award on Friday for exemplary achievement in the hiring and advancement of minorities in the news media.
The Wells Award, based at the University of Kansas, is given annually in honor of Ida B. Wells Barnett, a pioneer black publisher and anti-lynching crusader during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
"Shelby Coffey has had the courage to increase diversity in one of the nation's most dynamic media markets while the L.A. Times was in a period of downsizing," said award curator Samuel L. Adams, of the university's journalism department.
"Usually, minorities are the last hired and the first fired," Adams said. "Under his bold leadership, he amassed the nation's largest number of minority professionals in supervisory positions at a single newspaper."
Over the past six years, The Times has doubled its percentage of minorities in professional positions to about 21% of its professional staff, Adams said. During that time, the percentage of minority editors and executives tripled, with minorities now holding 18.7% of those positions, he said.
The Wells Award is sponsored by the National Assn. of Black Journalists, the National Conference of Editorial Writers and the University of Kansas' William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Coffey was presented the award at the National Conference of Editorial Writers in San Antonio.