If you know any “gifted young journalists,” you should immediately tell them that skills may no longer be enough to land a job — that they may also need the right skin color to succeed in media.
TNT has proudly announced that it’s accepting applications for a new on-air role for its coverage of the NBA All-Star Game. The successful candidate must have the following qualifications: gifted skills and black skin.
An NBA on TNT social strategist promoted the opening on Wednesday:
Know a journalist who is young, gifted, and Black? ✨@NBAonTNT is looking for a junior/senior in college to participate in the Oscar Pope Lift Every Voice Fellowship.
▪️ On-Air Interview at NBA All-Star
▪️ NBA on TNT Social Takeover
— 𝐕𝐢𝐜. (@victoriamcbryde) November 17, 2021
White, Hispanic, and Asian applicants need not apply, and they shouldn’t even think about doing so.
By joining “Lift Every Voice,” “a grassroots initiative centered on empowering the imaginations of Black student journalists,” TNT sends the message that hiring people based entirely on their skin color is acceptable. It also implies that the sports media industry holds black voices back. But where is the evidence of that?
TNT’s top NBA journalist Chris Haynes is black. Three of the four members of TNT’s Inside the NBA pregame show are black. In addition, Turner Sports’ Bleacher Report has made Taylor Rook, a black woman, the face of its brand.
Meanwhile at ESPN, the NBA’s other major partner, seven of the eight members of its pregame program, NBA Countdown, are black. In fact, the Worldwide Leader of Sports has just two former journalists working in opinion roles on ESPN’s NBA bumper programming: Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon, both of whom are black. And Malika Andrews, a black female journalist in her 20s, replaced Rachel Nichols, a white woman, to be the host of ESPN’s signature daily NBA show in the fall.
That’s not to say these personalities on ESPN and TNT don’t deserve their positions. Wilbon, Smith, Haynes, and Charles Barkley are four of the most talented people in sports media. However, their roles on these various NBA programs raises an important question: how is the media industry suppressing black voices, as TNT suggests in the ad?
The truth is, Turner and the NBA are pandering here. By refusing to acknowledge progress in race relations in America and by ignoring other minority groups, TNT ensures that blue checks will applaud the network on social media. And they have. Twitter users have cheered the idea since the network first promoted the program on Wednesday.
Like most other media companies, Turner is now openly racist in an effort to prove it is not racist. It’s so strange how that works.
Anyway, I’m glad to see young journalists, regardless of skin color, get an opportunity. But for aspiring white, Hispanic, or Asian NBA writers, it’s not too late to learn a useful trade like welding or plumbing.