Being a lifelong resident of the greater Pittsburgh area, but more importantly being an African-American male in the Pittsburgh media market, I find myself disappointed and frankly outraged that in 2011; KDKA-TV appears to have adopted a policy of total disregard for diversity, and the proper and reasonable use of its current African-American staff/talent/ personnel.
The departure of Patrice King Brown (this market’s No. 1 anchor) exposed some significant and glaring deficiencies in KDKA’s commitment to diversity. That fact has not gone unnoticed and is becoming increasingly apparent and discussed on the streets in our community.
KDKA’s news director should remember how for years the Pittsburgh Branch NAACP produced a report titled BLACKS IN PITTSBURGH MEDIA. Those reports dissected the state of African-Americans in this media market, and for the most part it was not good. The issues with KDKA usually surrounded: news content, slant, portrayal, delivery, and employment. However, KDKA in terms of employment of African-Americans was consistently slightly better than its competition, and for that they were given credit.
What has happened at, what is going on at KDKA? Look at them now!
•No African-Americans in senior staff/management positions
•Only four African-American reporters
•Word on the street is KDKA regards none of its current African-American reporters as prime time, anchor ready (I totally disagree with that assessment).
•Currently no African-Americans anchoring the morning, noon, 4, 5, 6, 11 p.m. weekday news
•There seems to be no African-Americans ready, in the on-deck circle, should another African-American leave
•We see no African-American faces in traffic, sports, weather or regularly used as experts
•There seems to be no effort by KDKA to partner with, support or affiliate themselves with groups, organizations that do positive things in the Black community
What really challenges, and boggles the mind is, if it is the belief of KDKA, that none of its current minority staff were prospective or potential anchors, and if diversity is a sincere goal, then hire some Black folk; hire some Black talent, and some Black managers that could fulfill those duties.
It is my hope that KDKA will take stock of itself, and to the right thing, become devoted and totally committed to diversity, by deed, not word. Who knows it just might improve their ratings.
Rev. Eugene C. Beard Jr.
(The writer is a former NAACP Labor and Industry Committee member.)