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What Color is that Baby?


by Bob Herbert
Op-Ed Columnist

‘What Color Is That Baby?’

Published: May 11, 2009

New York Times - I remember as a young deputy city editor at The Daily News attending my first “sked meeting,” a large gathering of editors held every afternoon to consider which stories would go into the next morning’s paper and how they would be played.

I was sitting at the far end of a conference table from the editor who was conducting the meeting. The News had very seldom had a black person at those gatherings. Mine was the only black face in the room.

One of the stories being pitched was about a baby that had been killed on Long Island. The editor running the meeting was completely relaxed. He was sprawled in his chair and was holding a handful of papers. His legs were crossed.

“What color is that baby?” he asked.

A tremendous silence fell over the room. Everyone understood what he meant. If the baby was white, the chances were much better that the story was worth big play. It might be something to get excited about.

Annoyed at not getting a response, the editor repeated himself. Then his eyes caught mine staring down from the other end of the table. Read more.


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