Lightfoot said she was limiting anniversary interviews to journalists of color to highlight ongoing racial disparity in newsrooms, particularly in City Hall coverage.
Lightfoot said she would be “exclusively providing one-on-one interviews with journalists of color” She said, “I’m doing so to highlight long-standing disparity in the racial representation of newsrooms.”
“I have been struck since my first day on the campaign trail back 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,” she wrote.
Ahern’s tweet now has thousands of retweets, shares and replies, ranging from outrage to applause.
“My initial response was, ‘What is the big deal?’” said Maudlyne Ihejirika, a reporter and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and president of the local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. She said Lightfoot hit “a sore spot” with the media.
“This comes a year, almost to the day, of George Floyd’s murder when America must confront that reparative measures must be undertaken to address the systemic racism that plagues our society,” Ihejirika said. “If a mayor of the third-largest city wants to step up at this time in history and say, ‘Here is my effort. Here was my reparative measure to address the media sector.’ What is the big deal? I say kudos.”
Pratt, the son of an immigrant from Mexico, said on Wednesday he didn’t know about the mayor’s decision to exclusively offer interviews to journalists of color until he saw Ahern’s tweet late Tuesday. He requested the mayor reconsider and grant interviews to all beat reporters and said when her spokesperson declined, Pratt canceled his own interview.