New York Times First Black Executive Editor Opens Up About Diversity in the Newsroom

Dean Baquet speaks on his obligation to diversify his staff

Dean Baquet New York Times

Image: The New York Times

In an attempt to move past the criticism that arose from the publishing of a controversial op-ed piece that stated that Shonda Rhimes’s autobiography should be called “How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman,” the executive editor of the New York Times is speaking out about the need to bring more diversity to the newspaper’s newsroom.

Making history earlier this year as the Times’s first black executive editor, Dean Baquet says that he recognizes there is a diversity problem in the newsroom, including that among 20 cultural critics, not one is black.

“I would criticize us for that,” Baquet tells New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan. “I would love to diversify that area,” he adds, noting that the media outlet has had black critics in the past.

Similar to other news companies, the New York Times is faced with the tough decision of having to scale down its staff for economic reasons, which Baquet says can create a bit of a challenge when trying to add more faces of color to his staff.

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“It’s a lot harder to work on it” under those circumstances, he said. “But I’m not going to use that as an excuse. I have an obligation to diversify the staff, and I will figure out a way.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter failed to comment on the Shonda Rhimes article that recently heated up black Twitter, but stated that the author of the article, Alessandra Stanley, “was trying to make a profound point” about breaking down stereotypes of black women, but “clearly, it wasn’t read that way.”

Baquet, the only person of color on the news-side masthead, replaced the paper’s first female executive editor, Jill Abramson, in May. Hopefully, his leading role will open up doors for other journalists of color to join the newspaper’s staff in the near future.