Two TV reporters suspended after wearing Afro-like wigs live on the air – Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts 2021-10-04 11:33:21 –

Racial justice

“It was the 70’s spoofing that just didn’t work.”

The Sinclair Broadcast Group has fired a longtime news director for the broadcaster and suspended anchors and meteorologists in wigs indefinitely. @kennabjvpbcast / Twitter

The heat siege Little Rock during the summer, with an average maximum temperature of over 90 degrees Celsius in July. On September 1, the city recorded a three-digit number for the first time in more than three years. Authorities have opened a cooling shelter He urged people to check their children and the elderly to make sure they weren’t suffering from heat stroke or dying.

Then, in mid-September, a cold front approached, driving away the heat and preparing to lower temperatures to the 1970s. Local television station KATV has decided to celebrate with wordplay in the “Return to the 1970s” segment, where on-air personalities became popular in the 1970s. They may have chosen bell-bottoms, tie-dye T-shirts, or a symbol of peace to pull out the gag.

Instead, two white journalists wore Afro-like wigs.

Fallout was swift and serious, exposing the ongoing struggle of television stations to combat racism. Sinclair Broadcast Group executives apologized for the “impaired judgment” that led to the segment, fired station’s longtime news director Nick Genti, and wore a wig anchor and meteorologist Chris May. And stopped Barry Brandt indefinitely.

“That was a bad decision,” Sinclair’s vice president and group manager John Sievers told The Washington Post. “It was the 70’s spoofing that just didn’t work.”

Like KATV Newsrooms across the country are generally less diverse than the US workforce And for decades, journalism leaders have said they want to change. The impetus for diversifying the newsroom, largely spurred by the racial calculations the country faced after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd in May 2020. Has been strengthening in recent years.

“Journalists have sought to do the same in their own workplace, just as protesters were energized by Floyd’s death to demand reform.” Posts reported weeks after Floyd was killed..A few months later, in October 2020, less than half of the world Newsroom leaders surveyed by Reuters Institute reported While “gender diversity” was 80%, “ethnic diversity” is doing a good job.

In Little Rock, local activist Anika Whitfield said the 70’s segment was “uninteresting” and whites wearing “Afro wigs” perpetuate “institutional racism.” Said that. After that, she complained to KATV’s management. Reported by the Arkansas Times.. According to the treatise, Whitfield went to the Seabirds when they did not respond, and the Seabirds soon returned to her.

“We apologize to all viewers who are legitimately angry with this segment and promise to enact and implement new measures to prevent future incidents,” Sievers said in a statement. I am.

Sievers, who oversees Sinclair Stations in Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma, then met with the National Association of Black Journalists. He was joined by Blaze Love, Sinclair’s regional news director. Blaze Love has taken over Genty, who was banished by KATV, and the company wants a permanent replacement. Genty declined to comment when contacted by The Post. May and Brandt did not immediately respond to the request for comment.

During a meeting with a black journalist, Sinclair’s representative made no excuses and criticized what had happened. Reported by the Arkansas Times.. The Seabirds called the wig segment “abominable” and “boy.”Love said it was “stupid,” he added. I was particularly angry Given that KATV staff completed two racial sensitivity training sessions in the six weeks prior to the wig segment.

“Why does this happen?” He said at the meeting, according to The Times. Labbe acknowledged Sinclair There are critics After reporting that employees were ordered by an air-biased segment and given interview questions in favor of Republicans, according to the New Yorker.

In particular, KATV and Seabers responded to employee reports recently, telling The Post. Mommy doll – Racist caricature of a black woman – hanging in a cube shared by reporters and photographers.

The company investigated most of June, but didn’t know who put the doll there. However, Sievers admitted that the doll was “racist and aggressive.”

Thanks to the dolls, the manager gave a formal presentation to all KATV employees in July, training on inclusions and hidden prejudices, according to Sievers.

The Afro incident brought further scrutiny to the news station. Dorothy Tucker, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said after the on-air exhibition, the station employs more than 40 people, of whom only eight are black. This is less than 20% of the staff in a city with a population of 42% black. And she told the post that all KATV managers are white, Sievers confirmed.

Sheavers said he wanted KATV to hire more black journalists, and Sinclair hired them at 18 historic black colleges to make that happen. According to Sievers, some black college students don’t see journalism as a viable career path without someone like journalism on their TV screens.

“We’re trying to get minorities to do it … That journalism is their career area,” he said.

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