The Lori Lightfoot Controversy

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryIn a strange move, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that due to the new media being “dominated by white men,” she will no longer give one-on-one interviews to white reporters. This is a problem on so many levels. First, it violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Second, a newspaper or magazine company operates on the basis that they will send their top-notch reporter regardless of their skin color, sex, ethnic group or religion. As one reporter, Gregory Pratt, said so eloquently, “politicians don’t get to choose who covers them.” Finally, I bristle at any politician stating that the news media in Chicago is not diverse.

To give one tiny example, the top-notch reporter for Lawndale News is Ashmar Mandou, a Latina. When I started working for Lawndale News a quarter of a century ago, the Chicago news media was actually diversifying then. I saw African American reporters, I saw Latino and Latina reporters, I saw Asian American reporters, and even some Native American reporters. To say that the Chicago news media was and is dominated by white males is an insult to how so many news organizations have changed their policies over the years and have been trying to attract people of color. It seems that the current mayor has forgotten that local news media companies have been trying to hire talented people not only regardless of their skin color, but also to find the very best people of color as well.

From my experience, local news media companies made the conscious decisions some time ago to be inclusive of the people who live in the local communities they serve. They have hired such talented people because such people know the communities they live in. But local newspaper, TV and magazine companies are not stupid—they hire as diverse a range of people as they can but they also hire the best talent they can find. What I am finding extremely disturbing are the growing attacks by the politicians against the news media these days. Lori Lightfoot is endemic of this attack against the news media. Former U.S. President Donald Trump joked about putting reporters in prison for doing their jobs, and while the Democrats are more nuanced in how they attack us, they still try to steer the narrative for their political agenda. An attack on one reporter is an attack on all of us. This is something Communist dictatorships do, and I have seen this firsthand.

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