Tegna is facing allegations of racism within the company, as shareholder Standard General outlined charges in an SEC report filed April 8.
Standard General said it received a letter from a Tegna staffer detailing incidents of racism, including one where a company vice president wore blackface at a company Halloween event in the early ‘80s, dressed as Michael Jackson, and was awarded for best costume.
Another spoke of a Latina reporter, Kristen Aguirre, formerly of KUSA Denver, who was terminated for not working at “9News standards” 11 months after suffering a stroke.
Latinx reporters at KUSA were required to disclose their immigration status when covering stories related to immigration, the letter said.
It also said Asian reporters were instructed on how to apply makeup so their “eyes will look more Western.”
The letter also mentioned that the media had reported on alleged discrimination at Tegna stations in Des Moines, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay.
The letter in the SEC report does not contain a signature.
Tegna responded, “Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) continues to be a top priority for Tegna across the company and at our 64 stations around the country. We have made significant progress in recent years, but our record is not perfect. However, the distorted picture of Tegna and its stations painted by Standard General to advance its ill-conceived proxy fight will not distract from our significant focus on DE&I as well as our strong financial performance.”
The statement continues, “Tegna’s Board of Directors, management team and station leadership continue to take concerted action to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Tegna -- all of which is publicly detailed here.
“We have clear processes for promptly investigating and addressing inappropriate workplace conduct at all levels of the organization. We remain committed to ensuring that Tegna effectively serves and represents all of our communities.”
FTVLive.com previously reported the allegations against Tegna.
Standard General, billing itself as “the largest active shareholder” of Tegna, noted earlier concerns related to an incident involving Tegna President/CEO Dave Lougee and Adonis Hoffman, saying the Tegna board “failed to conduct a thorough and independent investigation.”
Lougee apologized for a 2014 incident where he mistook Hoffman, former top FCC staffer, for a parking valet after the two sat near each other at an industry event. The episode was part of the reason why Hoffman withdrew his candidacy for a Tegna board seat.
Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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