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Paul Mason

Aug 2, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Age: 48

Current assignment: Senior VP of ABC News

Background: Mr. Mason was promoted to his post in June. He was in London on a fellowship in 1981 when he joined ABC and rose through producer and off-air reporter ranks to executive producer of weekend editions of “World News Tonight” and “PrimeTime Monday.” He now oversees convention and election coverage, “Nightline,” “This Week,” ABC News Radio, “World News Now,” “World News This Morning” and news inserts in “Good Morning America.”

In his own words: ” [T]he street looks very different, in most American cities, than what our newsrooms look like. When I first walked into ABC, I thought, `This is the whitest place in America.’ I sat down in like a tape librarian’s chair, and she came up to me and looked at me like, `Couriers aren’t supposed to be sitting in my desk. Get out of here.’ … My father was a Tuskegee Airman. My parents were pioneers in integrating one of the most affluent suburbs in America. We just used that as a motivator. … At ABC, it’s been pretty clear that this is a place that both knew that it needed to move into the 21st century and had an inclination to do so and also was coming out of a very, very steeped tradition of an old boys’ network, as so many of the major journalism institutions were as we came out of the Sixties and Seventies. We have come light years since 1981. … Ishmael Reed said to me, `You know, to be a black person in America you have to be a good detective, because sometimes it’s about race and sometimes it just isn’t and you think it is.’ I think we all have to be a little bit more sensitive to the fact that sometimes it’s just personal, sometimes it’s that I’m wrong and that’s just how it is. Let’s not kid ourselves. We’re not there. As a company, we know that we still have issues, and they’re not just issues of race. They’re issues of gender, they’re issues of sexuality. … [T]he best we can ask for is that we try to be as sensitive as possible without going overboard and being PC for the sake of being PC.”

-MICHELE GREPPI