Recent Anchor Moves at WFLA Raise Questions of Racial Diversity

By Kevin Eck 

The Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists is taking local NBC affiliate WFLA to task for recent personnel moves involving two black journalists.

WFLA recently replaced morning anchor Rod Carter (pictured left) with Eugene Ramirez, moving Carter to weekend anchor and general assignment reporter. Carter then bumped weekend anchor Josh Thomas (right) to full time reporter.

Carter has been on the mornings since 2010. Thomas has anchored weekends since 2003.

At the time of the moves, WFLA news director Bill Berra told The Tampa Tribune, “We try to reflect our viewership. I want to get people to reflect the community.”

The station Friday announced the hiring of Ramirez, a bilingual anchor-reporter with Cuban roots who most recently worked at WSVN in Miami. Ramirez’s family comes from Cuba, and he is fluent in Spanish.

On its website, the TBABJ writes it is “deeply disappointed” by WFLA’s decision, later saying, “While TBABJ applauds the hiring of a bilingual anchor for the network’s morning broadcast, the organization fears the move has come at the expense of providing strong representation from the African-American community.”

“Historically, there has been a dearth of African-American male anchors in the Tampa Bay market,” Jenise Morgan, president of TBABJ said in the organization’s blog post. “Having Rod Carter and Josh Thomas in those positions was important for the entire community. We hope that WFLA as well as other networks will re-evaluate their hiring and promotional practices of qualified blacks.”

TBABJ said it will continue to “monitor WFLA’s actions particularly with respect to African-Americans on staff.”

The Tampa Bay Times reports WFLA GM Andy Alford is scheduled to meet with the TBABJ. TVSpy asked Alford for comment. We will update when we hear back.

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