Community Statement from WBEZ Chief Content Officer Tracy Brown in Response to Mayor Lightfoot’s Midterm Letter

Community Statement from WBEZ Chief Content Officer Tracy Brown in Response to Mayor Lightfoot’s Midterm Letter

Today Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a letter announcing that during her midterm anniversary, she will be providing interviews exclusively with journalists of color, and she posed a challenge to local media outlets to hire reporters of color – and especially women of color – to cover Chicago politics.

Tracy Brown Chief Content Officer WBEZ
Tracy Brown is Chief Content Officer of Chicago Public Media

Within Mayor Lightfoot’s letter, she states: “While there are women of color who sometimes cover my administration, there are zero women of color assigned to the City Hall beat.” As a point of clarification, two of the three WBEZ reporters covering City Hall are Hispanic and South Asian women, respectively.

However, as one of Chicago’s largest newsrooms, we agree that news organizations – including WBEZ – have an important responsibility to “evolve with the times in order to be a true reflection of the vibrant, vast diversity of the city.” This is critical as part of our own ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at Chicago Public Media. This is also an issue that is deeply important to me as a Black woman and journalist, and in my leadership role as Chief Content Officer for our organization.

There is much work to be done to adequately meet this responsibility and to address longstanding racial disparity in newsrooms. It is also important that the public, including all journalists, have access to the government that serves its people. An accessible government and diverse newsrooms go hand in hand in being able to do our best work on behalf of the individuals and communities we all serve in our city and region.