Chicago mayor defends her decision to grant interviews exclusively to people of color

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) on Friday defended her decision to grant interviews exclusively to journalists of color, saying she started a “long overdue conversation about diversity in newsrooms in coverage.”

“Here’s the thing: I’m the mayor of the third-largest city in the country. I’m an African American woman, to state the obvious. Every day when I look out across my podium, I don’t see people who look like me. But more to the point, I don’t see people who reflect the richness and diversity of the city,” Lightfoot said during an interview with CNN.

“You all are the mirrors on society. You reflect with a critical and important lens the news of the day. You hold public officials like me accountable. You must be diverse. It can’t be that in the city of Chicago with all of the talent that we have that we can’t find diverse journalists of color,” she said, speaking of the journalists who have already interviewed her. 

Marking two years since she took office, Lightfoot, who is both Chicago’s first Black female mayor and the city’s first openly gay mayor, announced in May that she would grant one-on-one interviews only to journalists of color. 

Thomas Catenacci, a white reporter, and his news outlet, the Daily Caller News Foundation, are suing the mayor, saying the move is discriminatory. 

Lightfoot said during the interview that was the lawsuit was “completely frivolous.”

They mayor’s announcement raised questions over racial representation in newsrooms and who gets to interview public officials, but some current and former Chicago journalists have expressed concerns about the move. 

I am a Latino reporter @chicagotribune whose interview request was granted for today. 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,” tweeted Gregory Pratt, a Chicago Tribune reporter who covers the mayor and Chicago’s city hall.

“It’s a very good lesson for our journalism students to learn. Public officials don’t get to pick their reporters. And reporters need to stand up for fellow reporters,” tweeted former NBC Chicago political editor Carol Marin, who agreed with Pratt’s post.

Tags Chicago Tribune Lori Lightfoot Lori Lightfoot
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