On Wednesday, May 19, several news outlets reported that Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that she would only conduct one-on-one interviews with non-white reporters.
The news sparked outrage on social media with users slamming Chicago's first female, Black, and openly gay mayor decision as "racist."Here are some of the posts on Twitter:
A Chicago Tribune reporter even cancelled an interview with Lightfoot on Wednesday to protest against her decision to exclude white reporters from one-on-one interviews.
She was also drew comparisons with the Nazis during a segment on Tucker Carlson's Fox News, "Tucker Carlson Tonight."
Lightfoot's Condition was Only for a Day, to Highlight Lack of Newsroom Diversity
However, while Lightfoot did announce that she would only give interviews to people of color, the condition was only for a day and a symbolic gesture to highlight the lack of diversity in newsrooms.
As Lightfoot approaches the two-year anniversary of her inauguration, reaching the halfway point through her first term, she told the city's media outlets that she would grant one-on-one interviews to mark the occasion, but will only speak with journalists of color.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Lightfoot claimed there was a racial "imbalance" in the news media, especially in the City Hall press corps, and that she wanted to use her position to highlight the lack of diversity in journalism.
Lightfoot also called the racial make-up of the City Hall press corps "an imbalance that needs to change," adding that Chicago's local media "should reflect the multiple cultures that comprise it."
Lightfoot's Explains Her Thinking Behind the Decision in Letter to Media
In a letter emailed to Chicago media outlets, Lightfoot said she wanted to "ensure" that members of the media understood her "thinking behind that decision."
"In the time since I was elected, our country has faced an historic reckoning around systemic racism," Lightfoot wrote, referring to the widespread protests last year sparked by the high-profile police shootings and killings of black people, including the murder of George Floyd.
She noted a lack of diversity across the City Hall press corps and other news rooms before pointing out positions in both the city government and on her own team that are filled by people of color, noting that the city has "more to do" but calling equity and inclusion the "north stars" of her administration.
"I am issuing a challenge to you," Lightfoot wrote in her letter. "Hire reporters of color -- and especially women of color -- to cover Chicago politics, and City Hall in particular."
She then went on to ask outlets if they have people of color in leadership teams or on editorial boards, if there are qualified reporters of color who could cover City Hall but haven't been given the chance, and if outlets have analyzed their own coverage to "identify and root out implicit bias."
"If the answer to these questions is no, be advised that I will continue to press for that to change," Lightfoot wrote.