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You -- and you know who you are -- need not apply

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Joe Williams, Apr 21, 2008.

  1. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    At the risk of the PC police going full-blown, ape-shit, Keystone Kops on me -- and basing their views on the way they would like things to be, rather than the way things are -- I ask in all sincerity about this situation, which indeed is real:

    A major newspaper has decided to consider, interview and eventually hire ONLY an African-American for an open position. I know the paper, I know the position and I know the name of the person overseeing the process, but I'm not trying to be some new millennial Joe McCarthy. Mostly I'm wondering about the feelings here in this community about such a move.

    Obviously, if any paper or editor were equally blatant regarding whites, there would be a major stink. But is it OK going the other way, even here in 2008? Even in a ridiculously tough labor market where good jobs are hard to find? Even at a time when newspapers need to think about survival of the fittest -- that is, hiring the absolutely best-qualified person regardless of race?

    If you think it's OK, tell me why. If you think it isn't, what can or should be done about it?

    Oh, and even if this isn't the utopian situation you would like it to be -- I have seen posters deny reality, either because it doesn't fit their view of things or as leverage somehow to get people to out themselves -- let me just say up front, if you try to play that card, you will be flat-out wrong. I'm not opening this discussion to be provocative or to scratch some anti-diversity itch. I'm reporting a situation and, to this point, choosing not to reveal the principals.

    [I will say this: Newspapers that do this really belittle themselves and our business. "Highest quality" apparently means little if you won't even consider or interview large segments of the talent pool (although giving a couple of token interviews while harboring the same intentions probably would be worse). I just hope the folks in the medical profession don't conduct their job searches this way, because I would prefer to have the most expert doctor I possibly can, whatever his heritage.]
  2. Herky_Jerky

    Herky_Jerky Member

    I suppose, if you really wanted the position, you could sue the paper for not hiring you the basis of your race.

    But more realistically, I don't know if there's anything you could really do. Maybe you write an anonymous letter to the editor or post a comment on their website or something so that the readers can become outraged about it.
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Happened to me after the fact 18 years ago at a major metropolitan daily whose circulation is less than half it was then. After the then-SE told me that, I regretted my first instinct not to tape record the conversation. When I complained to the now-deceased and much beloved editor-then publisher who I'd known for years, he scoffed that it happened the way I said. When I was runner-up again five years later, the new (and current) SE asked me if I was still mad at the way the old SE phrased the decision, because if I was, he'd tell me something else.
    I never felt the same about the E&P again, even when everyone in the major metropolitan area praised him to high heaven for his obit...

    Good luck to you.
  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    There is no place for race- or gender- or sexual orientation-based hiring.

    That said, newspapers need diversity -- i.e. fresh perspectives -- in their newsrooms now more than ever before. Our products are stale, stale, stale.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    I don't know how you know that to be the case unless some managers doing the hiring are really stupid.
  6. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    All my disappointment/outrage over stuff like this petered out when I was an undergrad.


    That's what I personally consider one of the single greatest opportunities for a young, aspiring sports journalist. And with very few exceptions, it's pretty much shut off to a large segment of the population. Newsrooms seek the easy "diversity," and some are quite determined to at least look like they're trying to achieve it. That's simply the way it is.

    I wish it weren't, I wish that newsroom managers thought that true diversity (at least to me) is more about different experiences and the individual ideas we have and bring to the shop, instead of just the easiest categories.

    Aw, hell. What color is the sky in my fantasy world?
  7. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    OK, so how do you do that?

  8. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    There was a decent Red Sox job I didn't apply for back in the day when I might have had a shot at such a thing, because I was told by a reporter at the paper (I think) that they were definitely going to hire a woman.
  9. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Yeah, Buck. I agree with the sentiment in your second graf, if you don't end up stomping on rights and fairness as cited in your first graf.

    In more prosperous times, maybe a newsroom could hire "1 and 1" or go "up" one for a top-notch candidate who isn't, er, diverse while also hiring someone who is. But nowadays? Newspapers need to be on top of their game, and anything other than best-available-candidate hiring seems to snub that agenda. Sometimes you can go diverse AND get the best possible person. Sometimes not.
  10. armageddon

    armageddon Active Member

    And you're saying it's not possible that papers/departments are run by less than intelligent managers? ;D

    Seriously, I can attest to the fact that several hires in my department have been XXX-only hires.

    Not bitching about it. Just noting the reality of the situation.
  11. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    No offense, Ace, but I've encountered that sort of objection before, as if the laws against discriminating by race turn all managers into geniuses.

    We know that isn't true.

    Let's just say that people on a staff can add 2 + 2 and get 4. If the only names tossed around the department and the only people flown in for interviews are from a particular minority, a pattern can be easily discerned. Especially when eminently qualified folks who aren't of that particular minority contact friends and colleagues at the shop for fact-finding -- and obviously send in resumes and such -- but never get mentioned around the office or interviewed.

    That's why I almost applaud the boldness that doesn't try to phony-up some token interviews of non-diverse folks, just to look good. And please Paul Tagliabue in reverse.
  12. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    That said, it's still stupid as hell -- not just for breaking the law but for most likely eliminating some stellar candidates, too -- to conduct business this way.

    (Is there a rule here about quoting oneself? Sorry.)
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