Fighting Racial Injustice in the News Industry

Mort Meisner has spent a lifetime deeply troubled by racial injustice.

Recent events have left him heart-broken and devastated – yet moved and encouraged by the massive surge of protesters FINALLY standing up for black lives.

Mort is no stranger to this. He spent decades fighting racial injustice in the news industry. And while he made some headway, the Goliath that was blatant racism in some newsrooms, boardrooms, and out on the streets was impossible to slay.

He now shares those unsettling stories in his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, scheduled for release on October 1st of this year.

The Rise of Black Women

If you’ve been living on this blue and green rock for any formidable amount of time (at least 40 years), you can clearly remember a time when the news anchor desks were populated predominantly by white men.

You may also recall the first time you started seeing more women in those positions.

Then there was the strange phenomenon that existed for decades where the desks showcased an older white man with a young black female co-anchor. As Mort recalls in his memoir:

I worked in five different newsrooms. And whether I was in Detroit, Chicago or St. Louis, it was virtually always the same. Black women were making inroads at the anchor desk – usually to sit next to an established white male. Beverly Payne and Doris Biscoe in Detroit were good examples. Similar talent placements were occurring in cities and newsrooms throughout the country. But black male anchors continued to be strangely absent. In fact, black males in TV news were virtually lacking altogether.

What exactly was going on?

The Garbage Men

Away from the anchor desk and in private meetings held by predominately white male management who were seemingly less threatened by female black reporters, it wasn’t uncommon to hear the words “garbage men” being tossed around casually. Even jokingly. And these “garbage men” were in virtually every large city TV newsroom.

You can bet they weren’t talking about sanitation workers though. From Enough to Be Dangerous:

Who were they? The young to middle-aged black males who were talented reporters, but were there merely to fill a quota during changing times in the industry and the country. The whole scene disgusted me. I thought to myself, if someone is good enough to be here, then they should be able to be assigned to cover any story. Thats not how it worked though.

They would ponder which stories they felt black reporters could handle.” It was insulting and degrading. As a white male young pup in the industry at that time, I could listen, watch, and then try to impact change when I had the opportunity.

And impact change, he did.

Mort the Mentor

Having grown up in Detroit and working in the music industry before settling into and breathing life back into dying stations, he couldn’t tolerate the racial inequity.

He was always willing to give any black male reporter who showed talent and promise the chance he deserved. Then he went above and beyond the call of duty to mentor these talented and hopeful reporters.

Not surprisingly, under Mort’s tutelage, many of them went on to hold anchor positions at highly esteemed stations throughout the nation.

The Need for a More Just World

Though he’s proud of his accomplishments, Mort saw fighting racial injustice in the news industry as an absolute necessity.

And he relays those stories in Enough to Be Dangerous with passion, hope, and some sadness, noting how far we’ve come since that time… as well as how far we haven’t.

Enough to Be Dangerous will be released in hardcover, paperback, and ebook in October of 2020 from Two Sisters Writing & Publishing.

In the meantime, stay tuned for updates on how you can pre-order your autographed copy. We promise you’ll be inspired by Mort’s tireless advocating for justice and equality.

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