Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dearth of Blacks in Mainstream Media

Next segment of Reliable Sources had 3 African Americans, a new world record? Toward the end they got around to Sherrod but they discussed the overall dearth of black faces in MSM, a much better discussion IMO. Intro & snippet:

KURTZ: Something really striking happened when I tried to book the segment you're about to see about minorities and the media.

I talked to several very prominent African-American journalists who said they would love to come on the program but the subject was just too sensitive to discuss publicly, or their bosses did not want them speaking out in public.

Look at the people who have gotten the latest primetime hosting jobs in cable news: Lawrence O'Donnell at MSNBC; Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker at CNN. They join people like Sean and Bill and Keith and Rachel and Anderson. They join the Sunday show hosts and the evening news anchors and the principal network morning hosts. Not an African-American face among them except for GMA's Robin Roberts.


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Brian said...


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Brian said...

Don't quite agree Rikyrah.

This was definitely true 20-25 years ago when we had Bradley, Shaw, Lyn Vaughn & a handful of others.

But today, there are tons of Blacks in mainstream media (on screen). Blacks are well represented...(except when Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Michael Eric Dyson and the NAACP are called on for every race issue and the networks act as if they represent all Blacks. That rubs me the wrong way every time). Now you could argue about prime time, etc... but there are tons on the networks now.

The lack of color today may be in the backrooms... with a lack of Producers and decision-makers who determine content, talking points, decide who gets on the air, etc.

Anonymous said...

"Tons of blacks in mainstream media"??? You have got to be kidding. I traveled for five years to nearly every major sports, news and entertainment event in the US and there was not one single moment during all of that time when I did not lament that I was either the only or one of less than 5 blacks in the room.
At planning meetings, at events, in media press centers, the purging of African Americans is all but complete. Even traveling to get to these events, I am usually the only African American on the plane.
I myself was purged just a few months ago and it was pretty ugly because of the extent to which the white bosses went to effect my departure, saying my position was no longer needed, yet less than six months later posting it for re-hire.
The state of media today is near total exclusion with vast under representation of various minority groups. I don't believe in hard and fast "rules" saying x percent should be present, but on the other hand how this has played out is simply not normal. How can you walk through the press rooms at Emmy Awards, Oscars, and even Olympics and see such miniscule evidence of diversity? At olympics I was very tempted to start a blog which I was going to call "Ashes on the snow" to reflect this very issue. And don't even get started talking about media companies with African Americans in any meaningful management positions. The buddy system is in full effect once more and this industry is pretty much closed.

Brian said...

Let's see:

Black news hosts & correspondents (on national level).

1. Suzanne Malveaux

2. Robin Roberts

3. Don Lemon

4. Lisa Sylvester

5. T.J. Holmes

6. Richelle Carey

7. Christina Brown

8. Tony Harris

9. Lester Holt

10. Fredricka Whitfield

11. Debbye Turner

12. Carlos Watson

13. Tamron Hall

14. Soledad O'Brien

15. Stephanie Elam

16. Russ Mitchell

17. Harold Dow (RIP)

18. Gwen Ifill

19. Alison Stewart

And there are a few more that I didn't include.

The above doesn't account for sportscasters, analysts/pundits, radio hosts, entertainment reporters, evening talk hosts, & others. I also left a couple off to avoid silly arguments about who is Black enough (crazy stuff). So the list of 19 is conservative. A full list would probably garner twice that number.

The idea that there are no Black faces is just not accurate. There are more Black faces on network news, cable news, and public television than ever before. I think some Blacks wouldn't be happy unless every face in news looked like them. Some blacks are upset that certain faces aren't in the time slots that they want.... fine. There could be an argument there...but to say there are no black faces...or even few black faces, just isn't being honest. A more valid argument may be that there are few Blacks in management, in key decision-making positions. However, i'm not 100% sure about that. I know there are Blacks in management posts. How much control they have regarding content & who is hired/fired?... that's the 60 million dollar question. But this may at least be a valid point of an argument.... much more valid than simply saying there are no Black faces.

I think there are plenty of Black faces. Keep in mind folks... Blacks are 13% of the U.S. population, lol.... as I mentioned, (some) Blacks want every face they see on the news to be a Black one. But the current numbers are about right.


Thanks for posting your experience. You may be highlighting a trend on the local & regional level. I can't really challenge you on that issue. That's your experience...and the experience of others in their regions and in the media they specialize in. I think it may be different from place to place... depending on what part of the Country you are in. I can tell you that in St. Louis, there are a number of Black reporters and anchors....have been for years. There are two in particular here who have been around 25-30+ yrs and are held in high regard. Younger correspondents are coming in all the time. As a matter of fact... at least two on the national list above were in St. Louis doing local news before they went national.