Chicago Mayor defends her decision to only give interviews to reporters of color

In an interview with Kara Swisher, an opinion journalist for The New York Times, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot explained and defended her announcement to give one-on-one interviews exclusively to minority reporters.

In May of this year, Lightfoot announced that she would be allowing personal interviews with reporters, granted they were people of color, to mark her two year anniversary as mayor. This week, she sat down with Swisher, a white journalist, and defended that decision. Lightfoot started by saying that she is a Black, female mayor and the mayor of the third largest U.S. city, which gives her a platform. For Lightfoot, having this platform allows her to try to advance issues that are important to her.

She continued by saying how the media is crucial to having a democracy, and it’s frustrating standing at the podium and seeing mostly white male reporters, instead of a diverse crowd. In her own words, “Intentionality around diversity and inclusion is crucial. People that make the hiring decisions have to be focused on diversity.”

She also talked about how Chicago is home to some of the top journalism schools and a diverse population. Because of this, she finds it “unacceptable” that there are so few journalists covering her, the mayor of the third-largest U.S. city. Swisher agreed with her on the diversity aspect, but questioned if politicians should be able to choose who will cover them.

Lightfoot responded, “It’s not about me choosing who covers me, right? I gave exclusive interviews. And we do get to choose who we talk to in exclusives.” She said she intends to challenge leaders within media companies to bring more women of color into the picture. Lightfoot said she believes this is her responsibility and she wants to see results.

“We need to have a variety of voices bringing different perspectives to interpreting events of the day so that we have a balanced, diverse approach to issues.” She also encouraged minority reporters to be diligent in fighting for change. Lightfoot was elected in May 2019 and has received a lot of backlash for the amount of crime in her city. She blamed the pandemic for making it difficult to focus on other issues, but also said she does not support defunding the police.



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