Whose View

In 1972, Dorothy Gilliam, a trailblazing Black reporter at the Washington Post, wrote a piece for the Columbia Journalism Review asking: “What Do Black Journalists Want?” It was a few years after the Kerner Commission had released its landmark 1968 report—which, among other things, identified the failure of white-run outlets to cover race in America and called on newsrooms to diversify. Reporters recruited from the Black press to the mainstream suddenly found ourselves in unfriendly situations; our work was often second-guessed by a white editor, as Gilliam writes, and read by a white man at the copy desk. The experience was similar to that later described by Paul McLeary in his CJR piece on Iraqi stringers—accused of being spies by our own people, then asked to think “like an American guy” when pitching stories. We were strangers in our own land.

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