Given the ‘overwhelmingly white’ press majority, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has decided to only give one-on-one interviews to reporters of color. Her decision to only speak to reporters of color comes in light of crossing her two-year mark as the Chicago city’s mayor.
Lightfoot declared how her running for the position was interlinked to enhancing diversity and that included the press sector too. She penned down her reasons to give select interviews in a series of letters and tweets to reporters. “As a person of color, I have throughout my adult life done everything that I can to fight for diversity and inclusion,” affirmed the 56th mayor of the city.
For Lori Lightfoot, taking up an esteemed position has been all about bringing forth the issue of lack of diversity. With effective power and a clear voice, Lightfoot has strived to raise awareness about the problem in various capacities. She claims to have been profoundly “struck by the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets” and other press corporations.
Despite having female representatives on her team, Lori Lightfoot highlighted the City Hall’s inability to take women of color on board, which is unacceptable for the 58-year-old mayor. Lightfoot coaxed newsrooms to recruit women reporters of color to cover the realm of Chicago politics and ‘City Hall in particular.’ If a white news reporter is covering the City Hall per se, officials should ensure “there’s a person of color working with them as well.”
In her series of tweets, Lori Lightfoot declared her firm intentions of giving interviews only to reporters of color. Her tweet suggested a sense of sheer bafflement on the dominance of White reporters in the press, especially in the City Hall. The mayor pointed out this disparity of numbers in a state that is filled with people from different backgrounds. As recorded by the Census Bureau statistics, Chicago’s population consists of 29% Hispanic or Latino, 30% Black,7% Asian, and 33% White.
Although some appreciated Mayor Lightfoot for taking a step in the right direction, some reporters vehemently disagreed with the notion. Gregory Pratt, a Chicago Tribune reporter stated that political leaders should not get a choice to pick and choose who covers them.
In a conversation with CNN on Thursday, Pratt not only acknowledged the extent of diversity issues in the relevant media but also added how news bosses must work towards filling this gap. However, he also pointed out how it is imperative for politicians “to be accessible and answer tough questions from journalists of all backgrounds.”
Lightfoot’s apparent disapproval of the City Hall representation was covered in her two-page letter to journalists and reporters. Chicago public radio station WBEZ rebutted this claim, arguing how a few women reporters are from Hispanic and South Asian backgrounds.
Lori Lightfoot’s stance was not supported by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists– they felt the act of restricting journalist coverage based on their ethnicity was unjust. On the other hand, the National Association of Black Journalists stated how it did not support the mayor’s plan, but admitted that her words are a true representation of the news world; it sheds light on the issue at hand and calls for a much greater effort to improve diversity and inclusion.