Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Good Night and Good Luck

When I first started this blog, I intended it to be a place where white people could ask me questions about black people, white people, racism, etc. The reasoning is this: I know a lot of white people and I like white people. Sometimes they really annoy me, but most of the time they're fine. I thought that would make me a good candidate to ask questions of, because I wouldn't get so pissed all the time. Also, I would be doing my part to help increase awareness and understanding about this very complicated and (for most people,) uncomfortable issue.

So far no one has really asked me anything, so I've noticed that it's turned into me sharing my own experiences with race. I think that's fine because it does the whole increasing understanding bit, but I have to say my intention was for the blog to be a little more interactive. So if you're reading this...ask me a question!

So...what do I want to talk about today? Ah yes... Why does Byron Pitts always do the stories related to black people on the CBS evening news?

For those of you that don't know, Byron is black and he covers a wide variety of stories as their National Correspondent. But you can almost be certain that if it's about black people--it's Byron. James Brown dies? Byron. Ed Bradley's funeral? Byron. Two black coaches in the Super Bowl? Byron.

Why does it seem like it's Byron who interviews all the black people? I just went to the website, typed in "African-American" and lo and behold, every story (with one exception) I clicked on that wasn't from another news source was either covered by Byron Pitts or Michelle Miller, another black reporter.

I can think of two possible explanations. First, people at CBS News think that black people who are about to be interviewed will be more comfortable if they're talking to a fellow black person, so the story might be better.

The second possibility is that the CBS News people don't really like the "black stories" so they give them to the "black reporters." What I mean is that the execs don't care and/or don't think their white viewing audience will care about the story so they say, "Well, since the black people are the ones who'll be watching this--let's put the black reporter on it."

There are problems with both of these ways of thinking. With the first rationale, that may be true that the black interviewees would prefer to talk to a black newsperson. But, how are they ever going to get more comfortable with the idea of talking to a white person if they don't have to? AND, how are white journalists ever going to get more comfortable interviewing people of color if the stories are always given to the non-white people on the staff?

If it's the second reason, that's a little more disturbing. If we live in a country where white people hear about stories regarding black people or see stories covered by black journalists, and become immediately less interested...that's a problem that we have to talk about.

I can venture to say that there are some white people who see stories about people of another race and say "this is not relevant to me, I'm not interested." Whether or not they add the layer of "I don't like hearing stories about people who aren't white," I don't know and can't say. I doubt it because that would be more blatant, and I think most white people like to be very subtle when it comes to their attitudes about race.

That's all for now.. as always, I welcome your comments.