2013: Top 10 Race-Related Stories in the Media Industry 

From Roland Martin to ESPN and the White House Press Corps, let’s revisit the impact of race on those who cover the news. 

Roland Martin; Constance C.R. White; Al-Jazeera America sign
Roland Martin; Constance C.R. White; Al-Jazeera America sign Paul Morigi/Getty Images; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Saul Loeb/Getty Images

1. Growing Intolerance of Intolerance, Insensitivity

How many race-related gaffes can you remember from 2013? The year ended with a flap over remarks by the patriarch of the A&E series “Duck Dynasty” and a retracted tweet from comedian Steve Martin, but the journalism world experienced bursts of controversial speech all year.

ESPN was the locus of many of the controversial remarks. In January, the network decided not to renew the contract of of commentator Rob Parker after Parker questioned the blackness of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Parker landed a columnist’s spot on Keith Clinkscales’ new digital sports platform, the Shadow League.

In May, ESPN President John Skipper said Chris Broussard, who covers the NBA for ESPN, was wrong to declare his religious views against homosexuality in discussing NBA player Jason Collins, who became the first active player in one of the major pro sports to come out as gay. Jackson Davis, ESPN’s director of diversity & inclusion, said in August that ESPN had begun cultural sensitivity sessions that had attracted about 100 ESPN staffers.

In July, KTVU-TV in the San Francisco Bay area broadcast bogus Asian-sounding names that purported to identify the four pilots on board Asiana Flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6. The Asian American Journalists Association and other Asian American groups expressed their dissatisfaction, and in December, the Fox affiliate said it would air a documentary chronicling the success of prominent Korean Americans.

Outside of journalism, late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel was the target of a week of protests over a satirical skit in which a child suggested on Kimmel’s show that the United States “kill everyone in China” to address its debt problem. China’s Foreign Ministry demanded that ABC-TV “face its mistakes head on.”

Opponents of the term “illegal immigrant” scored a victory when major news organizations agreed to drop the term. Critics of the name of the Washington pro football team won more allies, though they were less successful in winning change.

The change on “illegal immigrant” followed a years-long campaign by the journalist-of-color associations and others.

The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term ‘illegal immigrant’ or the use of ‘illegal’ to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that ‘illegal’ should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally,” the AP declared in April.

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