A new class of media executives who have taken over the top positions in major US publications in the past year is very different from any one before.
In particular, the class is not predominantly white male. In fact, the cohort includes many novelties. For the first time, there is a black executive who runs a major American broadcasting news network. The new leaders of ABC News and MSNBC are not only the first blacks in the top positions, but also the first women.
The new executive director of The Associated Press is the first person of color and the first woman to head the news agency. Black women now run Refinery29 and Bon Appétit, and Teen Vogue is run by a South Asian woman for the first time. Also for the first time, the lead editor for Entertainment Weekly is a person of color.
She is also the first editor-in-chief of the medium. Reuters also named its first editor-in-chief in its 170-year history. One of the largest national newspapers, The Washington Post, took the first step in appointing a woman as executive editor. The change is also taking place in other large newspapers.
The new appointments in The Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle ushered in multiple firsts: the first woman and first black person to head the Dallas newspaper and the first person of color to head the Chronicle. Nieman Lab recently analyzed the leadership of the 20 largest newspapers and found that only seven are run by a white man.
While 12 are run by a woman, a person of color, or both. These new leaders bring long overdue changes in the media industry. But HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton, who is black, told CNN Business in an interview recently that it will take more than hiring a person of color for the top job to bring diversity to a newsroom.
Diversity doesn’t stop when Obama becomes president and somehow everyone says, ‘Racism is over.’ That’s not how things work, “Belton said.” If you don’t fill the roles of reporter, social editors, people who work in sales and audience, and all these other different roles within the news organization, if you don’t have a diverse representation in those places, no.