Staff members’ demands helped end the tenure of James Bennet as Opinion editor of The New York Times. And they are generating tension at The Washington Post. Part of the story starts in Ferguson, Mo.
After the George Floyd protests in May 2020, Black journalists in the United States started a revolt of their own. What began with industry outcry over the on-camera arrest of a Black CNN reporter in Minneapolis (while his white colleague also worked nearby, untouched) escalated on Twitter to Black and other journalists of color exposing workplace frustrations over racism, representation and “objectivity” that affect how U.S. newsrooms cover the police killings of unarmed Black men and women. Top editors stepped down. Journalists resigned. Advertisers balked. Some outlets promised change—and still the airing of dirty laundry continues apace on Twitter.
This is unprecedented, says long-time social justice journalist Carla Murphy. To help understand the roots and ramifications of this public revolt, she has curated a reading list about how this latest reckoning on race is disrupting the nation’s newsrooms.
“This Puts Black @nytimes Staff in Danger”: New York Times Staffers Band Together To Protest [Sen.] Tom Cotton’s Anti-Protest Op-EdNiemanLab
“It has never been my expectation that every piece the New York Times publishes will confirm my personal worldview, but it was also never my expectation The Times would run an op-ed calling for state violence.”
“African-American reporters at the time could actually tell you which riot got them hired.”
“If you want diverse newsrooms, hire folks, full time. Period. That fact that POC always need a trial run says it ALL.”
How do we move away from 50 years of lip service to sustained newsroom diversity? This survey, conducted by this collection’s curator Carla Murphy, points the way.
“This was a hard choice, since I loved being a local science reporter. But STLPR’s leaders need to change the station’s toxic culture or journalists of color will continue to leave.”
Many Major Newsrooms, Champions of Transparency in Other Cases, Remain Tight-Lipped About Their Newsroom DiversityNiemanLab
So what next steps can we as an industry take?
Gannett said it will “make its workforce as diverse as the country by 2025 and to [sic] expand the number of journalists focused on covering issues related to race and identity, social justice and equality.”
A hard look at journalism and how it has been complicit in upholding systemic racism.
In Canada, under the banner of diversity, racialized people are told to bring ourselves and our perspectives. But, if we bring too much of them, we get held back.
The broadcaster and historian argues racism has led to a ‘lost generation’ of minority ethnic people in the UK TV industry.
The Boundary Pusher: How Peter Meehan Allegedly Created a Toxic Work Culture at L.A. Times food and Lucky PeachEater
The first newsroom protests were tied to issues of racism and anti-Blackness, but they’ve expanded to the industry-wide problem of toxic leadership, and the dominance of white men and women in positions of power.
Carla Murphy is an essayist and editor whose tenure as a reporter informs her current interest in journalism reform. She edits Lewis Raven Wallace’s The View from Somewhere podcast, and is a 2020-2021 visiting fellow in Boston College’s journalism program and VP and member of the board of the Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS). Follow her on Twitter @carlamurphy.