ATLANTA – Former President Clinton (search) spoke to a cheering, applauding crowd of hundreds Wednesday as he addressed the nation's largest and oldest minority journalism organization.
He also took questions on such topics as diversity in the media, the future of Africa, and the state of the black community.
Calling food "one of the bargains you can still get in America," Clinton warned that unless restaurants and school cafeterias produced better menus, black Americans could soon see the first generation to have a life expectancy lower than their parents.
On AIDS, Clinton praised the progress of several African nations and said now is the time to help countries that are helping themselves.
"These people are fighting for their lives and they are fighting for the lives of their children and they are trying to get their act together," Clinton said. "It would be unconscionable if we don't do something to help."
Covering these and other issues is the responsibility — and advantage — of a diverse cadre of journalists, Clinton said. That group remains largely absent from such reporting ranks as the White House press corps, he noted.
"You get different and better questions if the people asking the questions represent America and the world," Clinton said. "Every one of us filters the world through the prism of our own experience. The press corps should look like the country they are reporting to."
Clinton's appearance Wednesday was his third before NABJ. He addressed the group in 1992 as a presidential candidate and again in 1997 during his second term as president.