Listening Town Hall: Newsrooms and the Black Experience

August 4, 2020 11:00

We often say that journalism “gives voice to the voiceless,” when what it really does – or can do – is remind us to listen to voices we’ve ignored.

When communities are underrepresented in our coverage, they’re more likely to be marginalized or stereotyped. The same holds true in our newsrooms. RTDNA surveys show BIPOC are underrepresented in newsrooms and particularly in management roles. As our nation is reckoning with race, equity and inclusion, our newsrooms must too, and it starts with listening deeply.

In a Town Hall on Thursday, August 27, we talked with Black newsroom leaders who have spoken up about their experiences over the last weeks and months and inviting all local newsrooms to listen and learn, and take the lessons back to continue these conversations in your newsrooms. 


Conversation Leaders:

Sherri Jackson  |  Two-time EMMY Award winner News Anchor Sherri Jackson is a veteran journalist who has spent two decades telling the stories of the people of Central Alabama at CBS 42 News. Named “Best News Anchor”  in Alabama five times by the   Alabama Broadcasters Association, Sherri continues to excel as a journalist and as weekday Anchor for CBS 42 News at 5, 6 & 10 o’clock. Sherri sits on the Board of Directors for RTDNA.

Shamarria Morrison  |  Shamarria Morrison is a Weekend Evening Anchor at WPSD Local 6 in Paducah, Kentucky. Morrison has served as a multimedia journalist since she came to WPSD in 2019. She is a graduate of the University of Florida and was president of her college chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. Shamarria loves volunteer work—specifically with underrepresented and multicultural organizations. Read how Shamarria courageously started a conversation about race in her newsroom.

Chris Thomas  |  Chris Thomas is an anchor at ABC10 in Sacramento, specializing in general news reporting. Chris is an award-winning journalist who reported from Washington, DC for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and most recently for Pope Francis' visit to our nation's capital. Chris chronicled the unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray and gained international attention following his viral interview with The Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Watch how Chris thoughtfully explained the meaning behind saying 'Black Lives Matter.'

J.J. Green  |  J.J. Green is the National Security Correspondent at WTOP radio. He reports daily on international security, intelligence, foreign policy, terrorism and cyber developments and provides regular on-air analysis.  He is the recipient of the 2017 Gera ld R. Ford Presidential Foundation award for Distinguished  Reporting on National Defense for his series " Anatomy of a Russian attack." He has also received a National Edward  R. Murrow Award in for “Hidden Hunter”  —  his reporting aboard a nuclear-powered, Los Angeles Class submarine underway in the Atlantic Ocean. Listen to how J.J. is continuing a decades-long conversation with renewed urgency.

Tori Mason | Tori is Morning Reporter for CBS4 Denver. She inspired her news director to stop, take a step back, and work to listen to and highlight the perspectives of reporters of color. Her tweet turned into a series of personal reflections from CBS4's Black news team members, starting a conversation in the newsroom and in Denver.