Roundtable: The Media's Reckoning With Racism

Download Audio
Protesters march holding placards and a portrait of George Floyd during a demonstration against racism and police brutality, in Hollywood, California on June 7, 2020. (Agustin Paullier/ AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters march holding placards and a portrait of George Floyd during a demonstration against racism and police brutality, in Hollywood, California on June 7, 2020. (Agustin Paullier/ AFP/Getty Images)

Black journalists told they can’t cover protests. Racially insensitive headlines. Revolt in newsrooms. We talk about the media’s own internal reckoning with race.


Alexis Johnson, reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (@alexisjreports)

Errin Haines, editor-at-large for The 19th, a nonprofit news organization reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy. (@emarvelous)

Akilah Johnson, health care reporter for ProPublica. (@akjohnson1922)

From The Reading List

New York Times: "Inside the Revolts Erupting in America’s Big Newsrooms" — "Wesley Lowery woke up in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 14, 2014, his cheek sore from where a police officer had smashed it into a vending machine. He was also wondering how to get his shoelaces back into his boat shoes, after the police took them when tossing him in a holding cell the night before."

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Truth, fairness and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" — "In recent days the readers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have been subjected to a great deal of disinformation about the Post-Gazette."

Pittsburgh City Paper: "Interview: Alexis Johnson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter barred from protest coverage, shares gratitude for overwhelming support from allies" — "By Fri., June 5, Alexis Johnson was quickly becoming a bit of a household name. Johnson, a Black journalist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was removed from George Floyd protest coverage after management claimed she showed bias after she posted a viral tweet on May 31, poking fun at the mess typically made outside of Kenny Chesney concerts, and comparing that to people who were upset about property damage occurring in conjunction with recent protests."

ProPublica: "On the Minds of Black Lives Matter Protesters: A Racist Health System" — "On Tuesday, when he decided to protest, William Smith, 27, used a red marker to write a message on the back of a flattened cardboard box: 'Kill Racism, Not Me.'"

Citylab: "What It Means to Be a Black Journalist in Pittsburgh Right Now" — "Michael Santiago, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and one of the few people of color on staff there, stood in front of his newspaper’s building and tried to explain to reporters why his managers wouldn’t let him cover perhaps the largest protest for African American causes in history."

Vanity Fair: "George Floyd Protests Have Ignited A Media Reckoning On Race" — "As protests erupted following the police killing of George Floyd, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s management excluded two of its top reporters, both of whom happen to be Black, from the team it dispatched to cover the unrest."

Washington Post: "Pittsburgh paper accused of barring black reporters from covering protests, censoring stories" — "Photojournalist Michael Santiago was part of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette team that in 2019 won the paper a Pulitzer Prize, journalism’s highest accolade, for its breaking news coverage of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre."

New York Times: "Axios Allows Its Reporters to Join Protests" — "In an unusual move at a news media organization, the head of Axios, a site popular with Beltway insiders, said in a memo that the company would support staff members who take part in public protests, a shift from the stance journalists normally adopt to avoid the appearance of partisanship."

Variety: "Condé Nast Denies Allegation Bon Appetit Pays Only White Editors for Videos, After Photo of EIC Adam Rapoport in Brown Face Surfaces" — "Adam Rapoport, editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit, came under fire Monday with calls for him to resign or be fired after an allegation that the Condé Nast food title pays white editors — but not people of color — for video appearances."

This program aired on June 10, 2020.


Headshot of Dorey Scheimer

Dorey Scheimer Senior Editor, On Point
Dorey Scheimer is a senior editor at On Point.


Headshot of Meghna Chakrabarti

Meghna Chakrabarti Host, On Point
Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.



More from On Point

Listen Live