A report by NPR describes conditions inside of the LA Times newsroom as an “internal uprising,” referring to the social justice war over coverage of protests, riots, looting and hiring practices, “to the point that senior editors have weighed in, promising to listen and learn.”
“I would say in the case of black journalists, that we do not have enough journalists in positions where they are able to help us tell stories that really need to be told,” LA Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine told NPR. “I’ve asked myself in hindsight what got us to where we are now.”
Leaders at The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer stepped down after the publication of an “inflammatory op-ed and a provocative headline,” which was a piece written by current Texas Senator Tom Cotton, explaining the support for President Trump to use the national guard and military to get control of big city riots.
The editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit, Adam Rapoport, resigned over an old Halloween photo showing dressed in a “stereotypical costume meant to portray Puerto Rican dress.”
With that said, the real controversy is the paper’s coverage of the crime.
LA Times film reporter Sonaiya Kelley, who is black, said the newspaper had focused too squarely and too often on the question of looting.
“We can’t constantly pander to our primarily white audience with stories like this that affirm their biases,” Kelley wrote. “One of the responsibilities of the job is to state the facts and tell it true. There’s so much implicit bias in those few sentences alone. And it’s alienating the viewers we’re trying to attract. As well as the [people of color] journalists like me who contribute so much to this paper and then have to read stories like this that oversimplify our struggles and realities.”
One of the editorial changes is that the LA Times will now capitalize the “B” in the term “Black Americans,” as is done for Latinos and Asian Americans.
Pearlstine has promised to hire a new senior news executive for diversity and that the next hires for the metro desk will be black.
The population of Los Angeles County is about 9% black. Black journalists made up about 4% of the newspaper’s overall newsroom last year.
“I think if you look at raw numbers, we are as inclusive a newsroom as any I’m aware of in a major media company in the U.S.,” Pearlstine told NPR. “But as a reflection of Los Angeles, we are far from where we should be.”
Their commitment came out in a new memo to staff.
“The conversation taking place at The Los Angeles Times and across the country reflects a necessary and long overdue shift in thinking about racism,” Pearlstine wrote last week in an internal memo to staff obtained by NPR. “Without exception The Times is opposed to racism. We must re-evaluate and improve upon our own performance as we commit The Times to documenting and fighting racism whenever and wherever we encounter it.”