Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to Grant Solo Interviews Only to Black or Brown Journalists

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently announced she will be granting solo interviews only to Black and brown journalists.

In a letter to the media, which was emailed to Newsweek, Lightfoot wrote, "By now, you may have heard the news that on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of my inauguration as Mayor of this great City, I will be exclusively providing one-on-one interviews with journalists of color."

She continued, "As the first Black woman mayor of Chicago, and the first openly gay mayor, my election in 2019 was hailed for breaking barriers to the halls of power that had existed in our city for generations. I ran to break up the status quo that has failed so many residents across our city.... I have been struck since the first day on the campaign trail back in 2018 by the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically."

pic.twitter.com/duIQbTGccS

— Tahman Bradley (@tahmanbradley) May 19, 2021

Lightfoot then challenged media outlets and the press in Chicago to "hire reporters of color—and specifically women of color—to cover Chicago politics, and City Hall in particular."

Lightfoot also explained her decision in a series of tweets, where she wrote, "I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many. 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.... Diversity and inclusion is imperative across all institutions including media. In order to progress we must change."

Lori Lightfoot
Lori Lightfoot waves to the crowd after being sworn in as mayor of Chicago during a ceremony at the Wintrust Arena on May 20, 2019. Lightfoot become the first black woman and openly gay mayor in the city's history. Scott Olson/Getty

In a subsequent tweet, she wrote, "This is exactly why I'm being intentional about prioritizing media requests from [people of color] reporters on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of my inauguration as mayor of this great city."

In another tweet, Lightfoot said, "It's time for the newsrooms to do better and build teams that reflect the make-up of our city."

Diversity and inclusion is imperative across all institutions including media. In order to progress we must change.

— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) May 19, 2021

Shortly after Lightfoot's announcement, she faced criticism, including a tweet from a Latino reporter at the Chicago Tribune.

"I am a Latino reporter @ChicagoTribune whose interview request was granted for today," Gregory Pratt wrote. "However, I asked the mayor's office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully canceled. Politicians don't get to choose who covers them."

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. Politicians don’t get to choose who covers them. https://t.co/YMW8M8ZgJm

— Gregory Pratt (@royalpratt) May 19, 2021

Lightfoot's office directed Newsweek to the letter she sent to the media after it was reached for further comment.