The Ringer Founder Bill Simmons Receives Backlash For Lack of Newsroom Diversity
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Bill Simmons, founder of sports media company The Ringer, receives a backlash from employees who say that newsrooms lack diversity, which sparked a debate in the company about improving hiring practices.
In a recent episode of "The Bill Simmons Podcast", guest Ryen Russillo Simmons praised for "the jobs and opportunities" he gave his employees. The June 1 episode entitled "A Really Sad Week in America" focused on George Floyd's protests that broke out across the country last month. After the podcast, employees sentenced to condemn Simmons' episode and hiring practices, and the two apologized.
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The Ringer Union, which has around 65 local employees and is part of the Writers Guild of America in the east, confirmed on Twitter that the outlet "has a lot to do" to diversify the newsroom. They claimed that in 2019, 86% of the speakers on the Ringer Podcast Network were white and that they had zero black editors and no full-time black writers for the NBA and NFL beats.
“A representative staff is crucial for the representative reporting. We hope that management will make firm commitments in the future to increase the diversity of our employees, especially our publicly available voices, ”said the union.
After the podcast episode, Simmons held a meeting with his staff and said that he would learn from his mistakes. According to the New York Times, employees mentioned the lack of a black editor for the NFL beat. The wrestler currently employs around 90 people, six of whom are black editors. Speaking to the Times, former black employees revealed racist abuse of Twitter users and the company's lack of defense against malicious behavior. Between 2017 and 2019, several black editors left the wrestler.
Simmons wrote in an email to The Times that the wrestler was "neglected" in diversifying his newsroom. He said that he would be making further personnel announcements shortly to show that the company is changing its behavior.
According to a statement by the wrestler, 72% of the current moderators of shows in the wrestling podcast network are colored people. The current percentage of employees at the wrestler is 65% white and 10% black. The company "is working to improve this number," the statement said.
Looking ahead, the wrestler hires a black writer, Kaelen Jones, to cover the NFL beat. A spokesman told The Times that they will work to curb readers' abusive comments on social media and create more opportunities for new employees. The Ringer Union has suggested that half of the applicants will come from under-represented groups. This decision will be discussed at a round of negotiations later this week.
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