CHICAGO – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday that she will grant one-on-one interviews to mark the two-year anniversary of her inauguration solely to journalists of color, saying she has been struck by the “overwhelmingly" white press corps in Chicago.
“I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many," Lightfoot, who is Black, tweeted, also issuing a detailed letter to City Hall reporters on her decision. "That isn’t just in City Hall. It’s a shame that in 2021, the City Hall press corps is overwhelmingly White in a city where more than half of the city identifies as Black, Latino, AAPI or Native American.”
While the move isn't unprecedented in recent years, it drew fierce scrutiny among the city's press corps and beyond with members of the media quickly taking Lightfoot to task for her decision.
Lightfoot's choice was made public late Tuesday when longtime WMAQ-TV political reporter Mary Ann Ahern, who is white, tweeted about it — a post that drew more than 5,000 comments. Some praised the mayor, while others were angry.
“I am a Latino reporter @chicagotribune whose interview request was granted for today. However, I asked the mayor’s office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully canceled,” tweeted Chicago Tribune City Hall reporter Gregory Pratt. “Politicians don’t get to choose who covers them.”
Ahern voiced a similar concern about the mayor deciding who she'll talk to and said it looked like Lightfoot was avoiding City Hall reporters she often spars with.
“To choose a reporter based on the color of their skin is really pretty outrageous,” Ahern said on WGN Radio. “Does she think I’m racist? Is that what she’s saying?”
But others, including The TRiiBE, a Chicago-based digital Black-oriented media platform that offered extensive coverage of civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s death, among other topics, found the anger over the mayor’s decision offensive.