When Good Enough Mother was just starting her TV News career, I had a conversation with a woman in the news department of the station I worked for. She said, “You are lucky you’re black.”
It sort of took me by surprise because I wasn’t sure what she meant; the legacy of slavery, the civil rights struggle, the subtleties of racism. She went on to explain, “Well at least when you send out a resume tape for a reporter’s job, you have a good chance of getting it!” At this point I said, “Look around here. How many people who look like me do you see in this newsroom? One? That’s right, just one.” What I wanted her to understand was that being black did not automatically get me the job, especially if they news department already had one black reporter. Yeah, I went there.
That was 20 plus years ago. There have been some major accomplishments for African Americans in that time, most notably the election of the first black president, Barack Obama. And yet, the people covering him at the highest levels are white. Why is it that? Former ABC news anchor Carole Simpson had the same question.
Why is this important? Because television is still a powerful medium that shapes the way we see our world. That’s why diversity, even at the highest levels, on and off camera is important. But honestly, I don’t hold out much hope because most of the decision makers are white. Diversity to them is something to which they pay lip service instead of embracing as vital to the growth of their industry. The truth of the matter is until change comes to the executive suite, it will pretty much remain business as usual. That’s not breaking news, just news that’s broken.
But what do you think? Are you bothered by the lack of diversity in the News Media? And who do you think is to blame?