Network TV's Blind Eye

Network TV's Blind Eye

By Ruben Navarrette - July 27, 2011

SAN DIEGO -- Some of my African-American media colleagues are worked up over the lack of racial diversity in cable television news -- especially in prime time.

The issue resurfaced after CNN recently canceled the ratings-challenged talk show "In the Arena" hosted by Eliot Spitzer. The National Association of Black Journalists complained that no African-American journalists appear to have been considered to host a replacement show.

Bully for them. This is a good cause that never gets old. In fact, as time goes on, it gets more important. This is not just about getting jobs for journalists. It's about something much bigger: keeping the entire journalism profession relevant, vibrant and engaging in rapidly changing times. What good does it do the executives who run the handful of media companies that produce most of the news content to stick their heads in the sand and pretend America looks as it did at the dawn of television?

Still, it's too bad that so many African-Americans in my profession are narrowly focused on what's good for them, and what might enhance their own careers. They don't seem to have noticed that we've moved way beyond black-and-white television. There are other colors in the spectrum that usually get overlooked whenever the diversity issue is raised.

Not that this is easy to do when, for instance, Latinos represent -- according to the 2010 Census -- 16.3 percent of the U.S. population and African-Americans make up 12.6 percent. Or when you consider that Asian-Americans are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the United States.

Yet, when the NAACP recently raised the issue of diversity in a press release, its complaint was limited to the fact that "there are no African-American hosts or anchors on any national news show, cable or broadcast network, from the hours of 5 p.m.-11 p.m." Forget everyone else.

Certainly, it's normal for the NAACP to champion the interests of African-Americans. Organizations representing Asians, Latinos and Native Americans should do the same. If they don't, that's on them.

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Copyright 2011, Washington Post Writers Group

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