Remember all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Jayson Blair and how his transgressions were all due to the evils of affirmative action?
Well, Leonard Pitts, Jr. does.
It’s been nearly four months since the scandal broke. Four months since Jack Kelley, star foreign correspondent for USA Today, was found to have lied his way through his professional life for the past 13 years. He lied about where he had been, what he had seen, who he had talked to, what they had said. He lied so much I’m only half convinced ”Jack Kelley” is his real name.
Yet you, my colleagues, have not asked the most important question:
What does this mean for the future of white journalism?
Granted, you’ve pontificated about our damaged credibility. You’ve felled forests with your weighty ruminations about what this portends for the future of our profession. But, evidently cowed by political correctness, you’ve ignored the most vital issues.
Did USA Today advance a moderately capable journalist because he was white? Did some white editor mentor him out of racial solidarity even though Kelley was unqualified? In light of this fiasco, should we reexamine the de facto affirmative action that gives white men preferential treatment in our newsrooms?
So, loath though I am to position myself as a spokesperson, I feel confident in saying one thing on behalf of black journalists everywhere: When and if our industry decides to deal with the issues raised by Kelley’s transgressions, we stand ready to help. Need someone to handle outreach to journalism programs at HWCUs historically white colleges and universities? Want to discuss whether hiring whites requires us to lower our standards? Looking for ideas of how to make whites feel more welcome?
We’re standing by. All you have to do is call.