November 28, 2020

‘There Are Tons of Brown Faces Missing’: Publishers Step Up Diversity Efforts

Ms. Marqués faced criticism last month after a racist and anti-Semitic column appeared in an advertising insert in El Nuevo Herald. In an apology to readers, Ms. Marqués said that no one in the paper’s leadership saw the supplement before publication. Ms. Marqués left her role as publisher soon after, but Kristin Roberts, senior vice president for news at McClatchy, the Herald’s parent company, said that move was an organizational decision unrelated to the advertising supplement. Ms. Marqués stayed on as executive editor.

Ms. Marqués has also been a member of the Pulitzer board since 2012, where judges weigh in not only on journalism but on poetry, music, drama and fiction. To plow through all the required reading, she would toggle back and forth between paper copies at home and audiobooks on her commute. Her children got used to hearing a lot of “not now, I’m reading,” she said.

“When you’re deliberating about the best work and you’re trying to decide between the finalists, you really need to start thinking in ways that are so granular about what separates one entry from another,” she said. “What separates great from excellent, or good from great.”

In recent months, several other people of color have been named to top executive roles at major publishing companies, high-profile hires that could have a lasting impact on the literary landscape.

Last month, Crown brought on Madhulika Sikka, executive producer of audio at the Washington Post, as a vice president and executive editor. In July, Penguin Random House hired Lisa Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, to become the publisher of Pantheon and Schocken Books. This fall, Jamia Wilson was named executive editor of the Random House imprint, and Francis Lam became editor in chief of the lifestyle publisher Clarkson Potter.

Ms. Marqués said it makes good business sense that American publishers are seeking to better reflect the population in their books, authors and publishing employees.

“I wanted to see myself in these books,” she said of herself as a reader. “I wanted to be able to relate to the characters, somebody who could understand what I was feeling and going through. That’s what our readers want.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/29/books/publishing-diversity-new-hires.html

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