It may have been the ‘always open’ nature of New Orleans or the stunning oratory of NPR’s Juan Williams and the honorees or perhaps it was the upbeat music of Ronald "Boo" Hinkson, but nobody in the huge crowd at Wed’s 7am NAMIC awards breakfast seemed the least bit fatigued. Good thing, too, as it arguably was the best such event in memory, in part because of the honesty of the speakers. Honoree Que Spaulding, newly retired from Starz, said the diversity scorecard in cable is mixed. Cable has a "strong emotional commitment " to diversity, but lacks a strategy commitment, noting the financial services industry has one, evidenced by recruiting visits at schools with significant minority populations (cable has barely visited such schools, he said). Still cable "is the greatest industry" and "I dream of attending the last NAMIC breakfast, when the NAMIC president announces from a podium, not an aircraft carrier, ‘mission accomplished.’" MTV’s Tom Freston admitted his company had made false starts on diversity, as did ESPN’s George Bodenheimer, an honoree. Yet both companies have righted their courses and realize diversity is an excellent recruiting tool. "We don’t accept the excuse that we can’t find qualified minority candidates-period-end of sentence," the ESPN chief said. Honorary chair Freston noted cable’s duty to present diverse images on screen in order to make viewers know "what’s real and normal." This will happen if there’s diversity in front of and behind the camera, he said, adding the annual NAMIC breakfast is not nearly as important "as the work we do [to promote diversity] when we get back home." Honoree Marva Smalls of Nickelodeon urged cable to act on diversity "with determined haste…we’re not spectators," while honoree Robert Gerrard of Scripps said "we must act as if we’re all in this together." After saluting his mentors on diversity, including his dad, Steve Effros, Amos Hostetter, Janice Peters, Dan Sommers and Robert Sachs, honoree Rob Stoddard of NCTA provided a practical plan: make time to reflect on diversity and listen to people of color and provide support, advice and empathy.

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