Racism in the newsroom

By Joseph Farah

In a recent debate at the National Press Club over “affirmative action” in newsrooms, William McGowan, author of “Coloring the News,” dismissed the idea that racism still exists in the news media, suggesting programs that give preference to hiring minorities are no longer necessary.

As someone who has spent a great deal more time in newsrooms than any of the participants, I would suggest McGowan is wrong.

Racism is alive and well in America’s newsrooms, and those racial-preference programs are evidence of it.

Ultimately, real racism only matters in its effects. No one can be sure what ill will people harbor in their hearts. But when hatred of others based on the color of their skin manifests itself in actions that hurt people, that’s when it becomes a social problem worthy of debate and discussion.

That’s just what most racial preferences in hiring do. And that’s just what is going on in America’s newsrooms.

The diversity craze in the newsroom has not only hurt good, qualified white male reporters and editors in tangible ways, it has hurt the very people it was intended to help and it has hurt the credibility and viability of the news organizations infected with this disease.

McGowan’s right when he makes the case that “the diversity crusade has opened the door to hypersensitivity, political correctness.”

For Exhibit A, I give you the New York Times: “We are committed to diversity because it enables us to better perform our mission of covering the world in all its diversity,” said Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. “As with other topics, we report with objectivity and thoroughness.”

Anyone who has read the Times under Sulzberger’s watch would have to laugh. Objectivity? The paper’s editorial leadership doesn’t know the meaning of the word. It is a paper obsessed with political correctness, dripping in the flowery language of “tolerance,” a disgrace to the mission of honest, pull-no-punches, independent journalism.

This is the home of real racism – places like the New York Times. It’s in environments like the Times that racist plans like racial preferences are born. They are birthed by people who believe blacks and other minorities – including women – are born handicapped. These elitists believe the only way these mistakes of nature can be addressed is through compassionate human intervention. Minorities need a helping hand to succeed. They could never succeed on their own, they believe.

It’s a racist plantation ideology that fosters racial-preference programs of any kind. An even playing field, one in which people are judged solely on their credentials and achievements, is not enough, according to these neo-racists. Only a new form of “compassionate” racism can compensate for the sins of the past and inherent shortcomings of anyone not born with white skin.

This kind of paternalism – so reminiscent of the old plantation mentality – is what drives racial-preference programs. And everyone involved is hurt by them.

  • Those passed over for hiring and advancement because they don’t have the right color skin are hurt.

  • Those hired and promoted because of their skin color are hurt because they are placed in positions for which they are not properly prepared.

  • Other minorities who advance on their own merits are hurt because there is always the lingering doubt about whether they made it on their own or because of affirmative action.

  • The businesses are hurt because they lose credibility and because they lose the most qualified employees.

I’ve often said there is only one kind of “diversity” that really means anything in a news organization. It’s not racial diversity. It’s not gender diversity. It’s not diversity of sexual practices.

If a newsroom really wants to cover its community well, honestly, thoroughly, the diversity that will help is a diversity of ideas.

You won’t find that at the New York Times. You won’t find that at CNN. You won’t find that at the Los Angeles Times, or the Washington Post, or National Public Radio. While all these establishment news media outlets pride themselves on their high level of “tolerance,” they could never imagine recruiting people who think differently than themselves.

Instead, they pride themselves on their diverse, multicultural, rainbow newsrooms – in which everybody thinks alike.

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