Racism In The Newsroom: A Media Reckoning On Race : It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders The newsrooms that covered the protests for racial justice are now being forced to confront racism and inequity within their own organizations. Black journalists and other journalists of color are sharing their experiences on social media and leading a public debate over what it means to be "objective," whose stories are told, and how whiteness still dictates newsroom practices, opportunities and compensation. Sam chats about this reckoning within newsrooms with The Undefeated's Soraya Nadia McDonald, Futuro Media president and founder and Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa and NPR public editor Kelly McBride.

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Reckoning With Race in Journalism

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Reckoning With Race in Journalism

Reckoning With Race in Journalism

Reckoning With Race in Journalism

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Futuro Media president and founder and Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa poses with her award at The 74th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 31, 2015 in New York City. Latino USA was formerly distributed by NPR. Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Peabody Awards hide caption

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Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Peabody Awards

Futuro Media president and founder and Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa poses with her award at The 74th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 31, 2015 in New York City. Latino USA was formerly distributed by NPR.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Peabody Awards

From The New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, to public radio stations nationwide, the newsrooms that covered the protests for racial justice are now being forced to confront racism and inequity within their own organizations.

It's no secret that media outlets have seen a startling lack of diversity in staff and leadership levels for years. Now, Black journalists and other journalists of color have been sharing their experiences on social media and leading a public debate over what it means to be "objective," whose stories are told, and how whiteness still dictates newsroom practices, opportunities and compensation.

Sam chats about this reckoning within newsrooms with The Undefeated's Soraya Nadia McDonald, Futuro Media president and founder and Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa and NPR public editor Kelly McBride.

In this episode we ask, what does the future of the news industry look like? Plus, what does it mean for the average news consumer and communities of color in America?


Interview Highlights

The Undefeated culture critic Soraya Nadia McDonald on the lack of diversity in newsrooms

You have black journalists and other journalists of color who think of themselves as truth seekers in the same way that their white colleagues do. But very often when [Black journalists] tell the truth about racism, when they tell the truth about white supremacy, they're labeled as activists because they have dared to bring their Blackness across the newsroom threshold.

McDonald on the need for more coverage on race from news outlets

Race isn't just something that Black people experience or something that non-white people experience. It's something that everyone experiences. And so there needs to be a baseline of literacy, when it comes to how we talk about race within America, how it operates within American history, and how that informs our present and what role news media has played in that.

McDonald on the credibility crisis within American journalism

The credibility crisis that we have, I think, actually bears a lot of similarities to our current voter disenfranchisement problem.

And I think in journalism, we have not spent enough time with the very same folks who are often disenfranchised when it comes to media coverage as well. Black people, immigrants, women, people of color ⁠— the same folks.

And so when we think about the press and freedom of the press as an instrument of democracy, we have to think about enfranchising everyone. We have to think about making sure that they do find us credible.

If folks look at the newspaper and they look at a website or they listen to the radio, and their conclusion is that these entities are not telling the truth about them and their lives and how their lives are lived ... We are failing them.

Futuro Media president and founder and Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa on the support needed for journalists of color

I don't want journalists of color to have to be warriors, in order to be able to work as journalists. To be able to work as journalists of conscience who can bring their entire selves into the newsroom, who are going to be seen, who are going to not only be seen and heard, but actually put into positions of power to be the ones who are listening and making the decisions about, 'Yeah, we want that story on the front page. And the headline is going to say that!'

Hinojosa on the support that was given for Latino USA

When you're thinking about a show that has this kind of audience commitment, there was a point not long ago when one of your (NPR) colleagues called me up, actually. She's a Latina colleague at NPR in the newsroom. And she called me up and she said, "Do you think that Latino USA has been this incredibly successful because of NPR or despite NPR?" And no one had asked me that. And I kind of went like, "Oh." And I said, "Well, actually. Despite, despite NPR."

NPR Public Editor Kelly McBride on the change that needs to happen within existing newsroom leadership

There's individuals in every single newsroom who are part of the problem. And somebody has to tell those people that if they want to keep their jobs, they have to stop being part of the problem.

And that means that they're either going to have to be quiet or they're going to have to change. ...

I've seen people who are these problem people. I mean, I don't think I've ever seen any of them actually change. But I've seen some of them learn to be quiet and let other people lead. And then they actually become the beneficiary of what comes after.

Thanks for listening to our show! We want your feedback. Please visit npr.org/ibamsurvey to submit your thoughts now.

This episode was produced by Andrea Gutierrez with help from Anjuli Sastry. It was edited by Jordana Hochman and adapted for Web by Anjuli Sastry.