Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Media Outrage After Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Limits Interviews to Black/Brown Reporters

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Twitter

*Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) is catching heat from local journalists over her decision to grant one-on-one media interviews only to people of color to cover her two-year anniversary in office.

Mary Ann Ahern, who is white and a political reporter for NBC 5 Chicago, tweeted about the move on Tuesday. “Absolutely, they told me only Black and brown journalists are getting one-on-one interviews,” she told The Hill.

Lightfoot confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that she is “exclusively providing one-on-one interviews with journalists of color.”

“I have been struck since my first day on the campaign trail in 2018 by the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically,” Lightfoot wrote.

READ MORE: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Claps Back at Reports of Extramarital Affair, Resignation Rumor

The mayor defended her decision to ban non-melanated reporters Wednesday on Twitter, saying she was “being intentional about prioritizing media requests from POC reporters on the occasion of the two-year anniversary.”

Ahern said Lightfoot’s communications director Kate LeFurgy informed her of the mayor’s decision on Tuesday.

“[LeFurgy] said three out of six reporters covering City Hall are people of color and not a single one is a woman of color, while white reporters get the vast majority of access all year long,” Ahern said.

“I think it’s outrageous for an elected official to choose who will ask questions,” Ahern added. “And it’s even more outrageous when it’s based on the color of their skin.”

“I am a Latino reporter @chicagotribune whose interview request was granted for today,” tweeted the Tribune’s City Hall reporter Gregory Pratt. “However, I asked the mayor’s office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully canceled. Politicians don’t get to choose who covers them,” Pratt added.

Carol Marin, co-director of the Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence at DePaul University in Chicago, also slammed the mayor for shutting out white jorinalists.

“It’s a very good lesson for our journalism students to learn,” Marin tweeted. “Public officials don’t get to pick their reporters. And reporters need to stand up for fellow reporters.”

“Maybe City Hall and others should do something like sponsor scholarships for Black and brown journalists, so it doesn’t take them as long as it took me to get here,” Ahern said. “But to freeze us out?”

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.




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