Please sign up here to have the Race/Related newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox.
What exactly is diversity?
On Jan. 11, CBS News announced it had expanded its political team in preparation for the 2020 presidential campaign.
The announcement included a photo of the network’s 12 new presidential campaign reporters and associate producers. There were men and women from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern.
None of them were black.
The National Association of Black Journalists released a statement that said it was “very disappointed” and “disturbed.” Representative Maxine Waters of California asked for an “explanation.” The author Roxane Gay described the whole thing as a “disgrace.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York called it “unacceptable.”
I, too, was disappointed by the photo, but I could hardly say I was surprised. Many news organizations are still struggling to diversify their staffs, The New York Times included.
I’m a black woman who is an editor in a newsroom. I think it’s important that black people are represented in the editorial process, soup to nuts — editors, correspondents, producers, photographers, digital, print, you name it.
However, as the backlash to the CBS News announcement played out, a question lingered in my mind: If black reporters had been represented, but, say, Asian-Americans or Hispanic-Americans or Muslim-Americans had not, what type of furor would have occurred, if any? Why or why not?
I plan to spend more time focused on this question in 2019.
CBS News didn’t take any of this lying down, by the way. It clarified that the digital journalists and field reporters included in the photo were part of an “initial wave” of journalists who would be embedded with 2020 candidates. It also pointed out that Lorna Jones, a black woman, had been promoted to oversee much of the network’s political coverage.
It should be said that CBS is in a moment of transition. Susan Zirinsky, who will be the first woman to run CBS News, is taking over from David Rhodes in March. Les Moonves, the former chief executive, stepped down in September following multiple accusations of sexual harassment. All three executives are white.
In its statement, the president of the National Association of Black Journalists, Sarah Glover, said it’s unfortunate we’re still talking about diversity and inclusion 50 years after the Kerner Commission, in which the white news media was roundly criticized for failing to report on the rampant disparities faced by African-Americans in the 1960s.
“The halls of Congress have become more diverse and more reflective of our American society,” Ms. Glover said. “It’s time for U.S. newsrooms to do the same. No excuses.”
For more coverage, see our archive and sign up here to have Race/Related delivered weekly to your inbox.
Lauretta Charlton is an editor on the National Desk and the editor of the Race/Related newsletter. She was previously a news editor at The New Yorker and a music columnist at New York magazine. @laurettaland
Source: Read Full Article