Inside the Black Journalist-Led Revolts Rocking U.S. Newsrooms

After the George Floyd protests in May, 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 MurphyTo 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.

Inside the Revolts Erupting in America’s Big Newsrooms

Ben Smith • The New York Times

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.

“This Puts Black @nytimes Staff in Danger”: New York Times Staffers Band Together To Protest [Sen.] Tom Cotton’s Anti-Protest Op-Ed

Laura Hazard Owen • NiemanLab

“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.”

“White Newsrooms Only Hired Black Reporters at All Because of the Civil Unrest of the 1960s.”

Brent Staples (@BrentNYT) • Twitter

“African-American reporters at the time could actually tell you which riot got them hired.”

“Why Does Newsroom “Diversity” Always Have To Come Through a Temporary Back Door?”

Nikole Hannah-Jones (@nhannahjones) • Twitter

“If you want diverse newsrooms, hire folks, full time. Period. That fact that POC always need a trial run says it ALL.”

Introducing ‘Leavers’: Results From a Survey of 101 Former Journalists of Color

Carla Murphy • Source, a project of OpenNews

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.

“L.A. Is Nearly 50% Latino. @latimes is 13%.

L.A. Times Latino Caucus (@LATLatinoCaucus) • Twitter

Nearly 80 Latino staffers at the @latimes sent a letter to the owner and managers demanding a newspaper that truly reflects the community.

“After 4 Years @stlpublicradio, Next Week Will Be My Last.”

Eli Chen (@StoriesByEli) • Twitter

“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.”

Public Media and the Limits of Diversity [PODCAST]

Lewis Raven Wallace • The View From Somewhere

Former public radio reporter Brenda Salinas and former public television producer Cecilia Garcia reflect on how far public media hasn’t come on “diversity” in the last forty years—and why.

‘I Just Don’t Hear It’

Laura Garbes • The American Prospect

How whiteness dilutes voices of color at public radio stations.

Gannett Newsrooms, Whiter Than The Communities They Serve, Pledge Broad Change by 2025

Hanaa’ Tameez • NiemanLab

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 Moment of Reckoning: How Journalism Can Begin to Dismantle Its Systems of Racism [VIDEO]

Knight Foundation

A hard look at journalism and how it has been complicit in upholding systemic racism.

Objectivity Is a Privilege Afforded To White Journalists

Pacinthe Mattar • The Walrus

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.

David Olusoga: His Edinburgh Television Festival Speech in Full [VIDEO]

David Olusoga • The Guardian

The broadcaster and historian argues racism has led to a ‘lost generation’ of minority ethnic people in the UK TV industry.

Drinking With Food Media’s Flamethrower

Nikita Richardson • Grub Street

“It wasn’t like, I’m going to plot to take down Condé Nast,” says Tammie Teclemariam.

The Boundary Pusher: How Peter Meehan Allegedly Created a Toxic Work Culture at L.A. Times food and Lucky Peach

Meghan McCarron • Eater

In the midst of the national uprising for Black lives sparked by a white police officer’s killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a wave of protests broke out in newsrooms across the country, from the New York Times to Refinery29. The first of these were directly tied to issues of racism and anti-Blackness, but they have since expanded to the broader problem of toxic leadership in the industry, and the dominance of white men and women in positions of power.

About the curator

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.

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