Decorated Black journalist and attorney Jami Floyd, 57, previously hosted New York Public Radio’s (NYPR) WNYC “All Things Considered” show and was director of the station’s Race and Justice Unit. This Tuesday, in front of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal Courthouse in Manhattan, Floyd announced that she abruptly quit due to alleged race, age, defamation, and gender discrimination in the workplace.
“Let me be clear, we are not talking about imagined slights. We are talking about specific alleged offensive and hostile acts that resulted, and result in, an adverse environment that Black and Brown people are expected to simply brush off,” said Floyd at the presser.
A native Manhattanite, Floyd grew up a few blocks away from the courthouse and loved to listen to public radio, she said. She had worked at NPR since 2015 and freelanced there since 2010. However, on Monday, the New York Post reported that WNYC accused Floyd of 45 instances of plagiarism in online articles she had contributed.
In response to the Amsterdam News’ inquiry, NYPR’s Vice President of Communications Jennifer Houlihan Roussel said that NYPR takes any allegation of discrimination, harrassment and other violations of policies at the organization seriously.
“We are reviewing Ms. Floyd’s statements today and will fully investigate them as appropriate,” said Roussel in an email. “We are committed to providing an inclusive and equitable workplace for our employees. Making New York Public radio a more welcoming work environment for people of all backgrounds is important to us and our work. We have invested towards this goal over the last few years and are committed to continue to do so.”
Roussel said that Floyd was shown four articles found in fall of 2021 and seven examples of unattributed words and phrases before her resignation. Roussel said that the full findings of the investigation were intended to be presented this week, and that Floyd had “admitted” to NYPR that the examples were unacceptable by editorial policies.
Floyd said that she had not seen any of these articles and hadn’t had the opportunity to review them when asked at the press conference.
“For years, Black and Brown people in general, and Black women specifically have had their careers derailed at New York Public Radio,” said Floyd in her presser.
Floyd, who was accompanied by her lawyers, heavily criticized her former employers for lacking diversity and not hiring full-time Black reporters, that “bullies remain comfortably employed” at the station and that her complaints went unheeded, and that there were instances of sexual harassment that she had brought to managment’s attention.
To clarify, Floyd doesn’t mean that there are no Black and Brown staffers, administrators, contract, freelance or ‘per diem’ reporters at WNYC. Floyd said that she’s been agitating about the lack of hiring full time Black reporters in the newsroom since 2020. She said that diverse candidates are interviewed but never hired. Floyd’s spokesperson Mike Paul compared it to the Rooney Rule in the NFL that stipulates that at least one person of color must be interviewed but succeeds in keeping women and minorities from being hired as coaches.
Floyd, under advisement of her lawyers, declined to describe specific events that she intends to detail in her coming lawsuit. She said that she wants “change” and is not seeking monetary compensation at this time.
She lamented that she has lost friends to the stressful practices of the workplace, including her dear friend and fellow WNYC host Richard Hake. Hake was broadcasting from home when he accidentally died at the start of the pandemic in 2020.
On a separate note, Floyd said she plans to write a book dedicated to her personal hero, civil rights attorney and former associate Justice of the Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall. She’s leaving the rest to her lawyers and moving on, she said.
Roussel maintained that the station had made significant investments to create a newsroom that better reflects a diverse city. She said that over the last 18 months, the newsroom has hired a number of highly qualified people of color, and that diversity has grown by 10% in that span of time.
Roussel added that newsroom leadership is 60% people of color and that they had recently promoted Floyd, among five other Black reporters, to higher positions.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w