Veteran journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan on diversity and priorities in the media

KCRW talks about diversifying newsrooms with Erin Aubry Kaplan. She’s an opinion writer for The New York Times. She was the first regular Black op-ed columnist for the LA Times. Her book is titled “Black Talk, Blue Thoughts and Walking the Color Line: Dispatches From a Black Journalista.” 

“Even when things were going ‘well,’ there wasn’t enough representation. There was a moment, maybe. But it never lasts. And that’s the problem. None of this gets institutionalized,” she says. 

How to change things? Change priorities, she says. “I think if you change priorities, then suddenly, you find the budget. And suddenly, things get done. It has to be a commitment and priority from the top.” 

What if you have an African American person at the top? Kaplan says, “If you’re Black and at the top, there’s more pressure for you not to do anything. Because people feel like, ‘Oh, look, we have a Black editor. We have a Black president. We have a Black whatever.’ And that’s all the progress people assume you need. But of course, that’s only the beginning. It’s great to have someone like that in that kind of position. But it blinds people to the reality of what’s going on because you’re so dazzled by the symbolism that it kind of stops there,” she says.