Mayor Eric Adams has been on the job for less than two months and it appears he is already feeling the pressures that come with the title. Adams was at a press conference speaking on job creation for the youth in the city when he went on an unexpected rant. He claimed that he received negative coverage from the media and journalists in the city because he is a black man. “I’m a black man that is the mayor but my story is being interpreted by people that don’t look like me,” he said before an audience of mostly white journalists. This criticism of the press stems from the manner of the coverage of the mayor’s trip to Albany, in which he met with his Democrat colleagues in an effort to reverse the recent bail reform laws. Adams’ wishes were not fulfilled and the media did not hold back in labeling his efforts as a failure. The coverage from the media highlighted Adams’ failure of not getting what he wanted but it cannot be labeled as being racially discriminatory or biased. Members of the press that are usually present at Adams’ press conferences are hand-picked by his team, which makes his talk of being racially picked on confusing because the journalists granted passes at his press conferences are predominantly white.
“How many blacks are on editorial boards? How many blacks determine how these stories are being written?” he said. “How many Asians? How many East Asians? How many South Asians? Everyone talks about my government being diversified, what’s the diversification in the newsrooms?” he asked. While he makes a valid point concerning the diversity in newsrooms, it had nothing to do with neither the press conference nor the purpose of his trip to Albany. “Adams is correct in that the media, in New York City and elsewhere, is not as diverse as the places it represents. There should be more Black, Latino, and Asian journalists in the field. There should be more reporters who come from working-class neighborhoods and understand those perspectives,” wrote Ross Barkan, political writer, and journalist. Basil Smikle, former executive director of the New York Democratic Party shared his perspective. He agreed with Barkan’s sentiments, highlighting the fact that diversity could be improved in newsrooms. He added that diversity was not at the heart of Adams’ criticism. Adams’ efforts appear to be frustrations that he did not achieve what he desired and may be labeled as him trying to control the narrative in the media. The media is an important entity to society with regard to objectively informing the public and holding those in power accountable. It would be unbecoming if powerful people such as Mayor Adams were allowed to control the narrative to their advantage.
Mayor Adams, if serious about diversifying media, should direct his Communications and Press teams to invite Black owned media such as LittleAfrica News, Ethnic media, and other Community media outlets to his press briefings. He should treat all media equally, not separate and unequal and acknowledge the role he has in diversifying his press room and allow media organizations run by people of color to cover his administration. He cannot complain about the lack of diversity when he contributes to the problem by not inviting media of color.