by Latoya Peterson
Reading through Jeff Jacoby’s rant about how some people have the nerve to wonder about racial parity in the press corps, I just kept shaking my head. One could have argued that if journalism, in general, is on the decline it follows logic that minority journalists will be disproportionately affected and start disappearing from the rolls. So, one could then logically argue to fix the racial gaps in the press corps, we would need to start by fixing the foundation of the press corps.
Or, one could have argued that as old notions of district boundaries and “ethnic” enclaves are eroding away, so should the idea of “ghettoizing” correspondents. So, it would be reasonably expected for a white reporter to be able to cover an issue outside of their community with the same level of insight and aplomb as a community insider. (I would say vice versa, but many minority writers, self-included, are expected to be able to “write white” already.)
Or, I could have even accepted yet another “post-racial” America type of commentary where they argue that since whites proved willing to cross the color barrier in voting for Obama, it means that journalists should be able to venture out and cover all issues, regardless of race, because a new level of understanding has been reached. (I would disagree with this, but I could accept it.)
But Jacoby’s piece is the same old, same old.
But why should it matter to anyone but a racist whether a White House reporter is black or white? Well, says Michael Fletcher, a colleague of Kurtz’s, “you would want to have black journalists there to bring a different racial sensibility.” By the same token, more evangelical journalists would presumably bring a different religious sensibility to the White House, more journalists from the Deep South would bring a different regional sensibility, and more Republican journalists would bring a different political sensibility. Do you know of any news organizations that are fretting over the “relative paucity” of evangelicals, Southerners, or Republicans on their payrolls? Me neither.
As if these things were equal. As if evangelicals, Southerners, or Republicans were systematically excluded from society (and the press corps) for years due to institutionalized racism and the pervasive idea of segregation. Continue reading