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Latino journalist explains why he turned down interview with Chicago’s mayor

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sparked a backlash last week after limiting interviews to journalists of color on the two-year anniversary of her inauguration, a decision she intended to put a spotlight on the lack of diversity in media.

But many journalists, politicians and commentators seized on the moment as a misguided stunt.

Gregory Pratt, a Chicago Tribune reporter who covers city hall, told CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter on Sunday that the paper declined the interview on ethical grounds.

“Our paper decided to turn it down because we didn’t feel it was appropriate for a government official to tell us who we can send to do an interview,” Pratt said on “Reliable Sources.”

Pratt, who is Latino, said he was offered an interview with the mayor but wasn’t informed about Lightfoot’s exclusion of reporters based on race.

“They didn’t tell me that was a condition,” he said. “I didn’t learn about it until it sort of started percolating with the other reporters who were denied.”

Pratt said the mayor is “absolutely correct that there are diversity problems in the media,” but ultimately her decision sparked “very polarizing reactions.”

In a two-page letter sent to local media outlets and dated May 19, Lightfoot said she has done everything she can to fight for diversity and inclusion during her adult life. Being the city’s mayor makes her “uniquely situated” to shine a spotlight on the issue, she said.

Since her election, the country has faced an “historic reckoning around systemic racism” and it does not appear that media outlets in Chicago “have caught on and truly have not embraced this moment,” Lightfoot said in the letter shared with CNN.

The National Association of Black Journalists said it did not support the mayor’s tactic but acknowledged that her comments shine a “needed spotlight on the call for a greater commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion across the media industry.”

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists said the group doesn’t condone restricting press access based on a journalist’s race or ethnicity.

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