The Greater Cincinnati Association of Black Journalists has requested a meeting with WKRC-TV management about the lack of diversity in the Local 12 newsroom.
The GCABJ went public with the issue Monday, five days after initially contacting General Manager Jon Lawhead and News Director Tim Geraghty.
The Black journalists' group was reacting to WKRC-TV's social media salute last week on International Women's Day with photos of the 13 "ladies of Local 12 News," none of whom are Black. Channel 12 is the only TV station in town without any on-air Black female reporters or anchors.
"Newsrooms are supposed to reflect the demographics of the community they cover. In a city that's approximately 42 percent Black, and there's no Black women on the staff, it is concerning," says Shaun Elliott, a WLWT-TV videographer who is GCABJ vice president.
Some of the local journalists' group's two dozen members quickly noted Channel 12's post, and began "discussing whether or not we wanted to pursue it." They drafted a statement, and waited a day to make sure it "was accurate and fair" before sending it to Lawhead and Geraghty Wednesday, March 10, Elliott says.
On Monday, March 8, Local 12 posted to its social media outlets celebrating the "ladies of Local 12 News" for International Women's Day. The photo collage shows the station's thirteen on-air female talent, none of whom are black women. The Greater Cincinnati Association of Black Journalists is concerned about the lack of representation on Local 12's staff, especially when approximately 42 percent of Cincinnati is black.
The Greater Cincinnati Association of Black Journalists has contacted Local 12 News Director Tim Geraghty and General Manager Jon Lawhead, requesting a meeting to discuss how to improve hiring practices to be more representative of the community. We are awaiting a response.
GCABJ President Kyle Inskeep has not been involved in any discussion pertaining to this matter because he is an employee of Local 12, and as an affiliate of the National Association of Black Journalists, policy prohibits anyone from participating in discussions about a company they work for.
Shaun Elliott, Vice President, Greater Cincinnati Association of Black Journalists
Elliott said late Tuesday afternoon that Lawhead finally contacted the GCABJ, after this story was posted, and was "willing to have a discussion regarding our concerns with diversity." They are working on scheduling the day and time of the meeting, Elliott says.
Lawhead and Geraghty have not responded to my request for a comment.
Local 12's lack of diversity also was noted by Facebook readers. Among the 934 comments on the "ladies of Local 12" post were: "You are missing women of color. That is sad" … "All the black people in Cincinnati and y'all couldn't find one to broadcast the news?" … "There's something missing in this photo" …. "No different ethnics. WOW! Sad day."
WKRC-TV's website lists photos for 30 local news staffers. There are three African-American men: Inskeep; long-time morning anchor John Lomax; and reporter Walter Smith-Randolph. Reporter Angela Ingram, a 14-year veteran, left Local 12 last October to do communications for Forest Hills schools.
The newsrooms at WLWT-TV, WCPO-TV and WXIX-TV are much more diverse, according to their online biographies.
WCPO-TV lists 11 Black newsroom employees (seven women and four men) of 36 on-air staffers, including five that regularly anchor news, sports or weather.
WLWT-TV lists eight Black newsroom employees (three women and five men) of 27 local on-air staffers, including five that regularly anchor news, sports or weather.
WXIX-TV lists six Black newsroom employees (five women and one man) of 29 local on-air staffers, including four that regularly anchor news or weather.
Elliott says his group had no problem with Local 12 celebrating International Women's Day. "The messaging was right – celebrating the women of Local 12. But their staffing was our concern," he says.
The group also wants to talk to WKRC-TV managers about the overall diversity in the newsroom. "We've just focused on the on-air talent. We don't know about the other departments – producers or photographers, etc.," Elliott says.