Some of these moves are prompted by layoffs and buyouts, writes Pamela Newkirk, and some are about disillusionment with mainstream journalism or a desire to delve more deeply into African-American issues.

Washington Post senior editor and ASNE past president Milton Coleman said many African Americans come into journalism driven by a passion to illuminate issues in their communities. And that, he said, explains some of the movement to the black press. “People of a like mind saw they could take the skills that they had picked up in mainstream media and go back to ethnically oriented media and make them better.”

On the one hand, this reverse migration has brought new luster and talent to black-oriented media. On the other, it is further draining mainstream media of diverse perspectives, raising the specter of a retreat to the days of all-but-segregated newsrooms.

African Americans comprise 15 percent of the US population, but hold 4.68 percent of US newspaper newsroom jobs. The numbers “are devastating," says National Association of Black Journalists president Kathy Times.

> From April 2011: Newsroom employment up slightly; minority numbers plunge for third year
> A 2010 Politico news meeting: "All white folks at the table deciding the stories to cover"