If you’re a white journalist and want to speak with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, don’t hold your breath cause it’s not happening.
On Wednesday (May 19), the embattled mayor announced that she would only be granting one-on-one interviews with journalists of color to mark the second anniversary of her inauguration, pointing out that she has been taken aback by the “overwhelmingly” white press corps in Chicago.
In a tweet thread, Lightfoot announced her decision she wrote, “I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many. That isn’t just in City Hall. It’s a shame that in 2021, the City Hall press corps is overwhelmingly White in a city where more than half of the city identifies as Black, Latino, AAPI or Native American.”
“Diversity and inclusion is imperative across all institutions including media. In order to progress we must change,” she continued. “This is exactly why I’m being intentional about prioritizing media requests from POC reporters on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of my inauguration as mayor of this great city.”
Lightfoot’s decision is not an unprecedented one but, as expected is drew criticism from members of Chicago’s press corps. Before Lightfoot’s announcement, the decision was made public by WMAQ-TV political reporter Mary Ann Ahern, a white reporter, who shared the mayor’s decision via a tweet that garnered more than 5,000 comments, with some praising Lightfoot for prioritizing Black and Brown journalists.
While voicing her concerns on the matter, Ahern seemed to have taken things a bit personally, asking on WGN Radio, “Does she think I’m racist? Is that what she’s saying?”
Gregory Pratt, a Latino journalist for the Chicago Tribune, revealed in a Tweet that he was approved for an interview but decided to cancel it when the Mayor’s office refused to “lift its condition on others.”
The TRiiBE, a Chicago-based digital Black-oriented media platform, and others support Lightfoot’s decision while calling the “outrage” over the mayor’s decision offensive.
“With this outrage, y’all are implying that Black and Brown journalists aren’t capable of asking the hard questions,” The TRiiBE stated in a tweet while also pointing it got an interview with Lightfoot that same day.
City leaders like Alderman George Cardenas, who represents large Latino neighborhoods, were critical of Lightfoot’s decision stating replying to Ahern’s tweet, “How is that even true, be serious,” calling for it to be corrected.
While Lightfoot’s decision to prioritize Black and Brown journalists is a great move, she still has been called out by Black and Brown communities for her handling of pandemic, civil unrest, and rising crime. There is also that eyebrow-raising cheating scandal that some believed would lead to the mayor stepping down, which wasn’t the case.
Mayor Lightfoot is still pushing on and looks like she will finish out her term. Whether it will be on a good note is still up in the air.
Photo: Chicago Tribune / Getty