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News & Press: NABJ News

NABJ: CNN’s Promotion of Diversity Officer Still Leaves No Black Employees in News Leadership

Tuesday, June 18, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kanya Stewart
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NABJ: CNN’s Promotion of Diversity Officer
Still Leaves No Black Employees in News Leadership

Call Continues for Change in CNN’s Hiring and Promotion Practices
 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 18, 2019) CNN still has not made progress in hiring blacks in day-to-day senior news management positions. That's the finding of the National Association of Black Journalists’ (NABJ) Media Monitoring Committee, which has been charged with monitoring the diversity and inclusion practices and hiring and promotion strategies of news companies like CNN.
 
It has been more than 100 days since NABJ called for an examination of diversity and inclusion practices among CNN's executive news management team. The absence of blacks in news decision-making roles impacts the network's ability to provide balanced perspectives from one of the most influential and largest consumer groups in the nation – the black community.
 
Warner Media, CNN’s parent company, announced late Monday the promotion of Johnita Due as the new SVP and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of its Sports & News Division. This is a step in the right direction and NABJ congratulates Due, a black lawyer and past recipient of the NABJ Ida B. Wells Award, on her promotion.
 
Due received the Ida B. Wells Award in 2008 for her leadership of CNN's Diversity Council, a team of network colleagues dedicated to ensuring that CNN's news coverage and overall staffing reflected the rich racial and ethnic composition of the nation. Noticeably, since Due's departure from the role and the introduction of Jeff Zucker, CNN’s current president, CNN has taken steps back from hiring blacks in editorial management roles.
 
NABJ is hopeful that Due’s new role will influence daily operational and news responsibilities, leading to progress in the hiring of black journalists serving in key management roles critical to daily news operations. Due will join CNN President Jeff Zucker’s executive team, however, Due is not a journalist or news manager. NABJ's research findings still indicate that there are no black employees holding critical positions in the oversight of daily news coverage.
 
 
In a March 5, 2019 news release, NABJ reported:
 
 
  • CNN has no black news executive producers
  • CNN has no black news senior vice presidents
  • CNN has no black news vice presidents
 
 
Millions of voicesincluding the NAACP, and other civil rights and civic organizations, have spoken out to express concerns about NABJ's CNN findings, and unfortunately, there are still no blacks working in executive news roles at CNN to date.
 
NABJ urges CNN to consider the analysis of Andrew McCaskill, Nielsen’s Senior Vice President of Global Communications and Multicultural Marketing, in the company's 2018 Black Impact report: "If a brand doesn't have a multicultural strategy, it doesn't have a growth strategy. The business case for multicultural outreach is clear. African-American consumers and all diverse consumers want to see themselves authentically represented in marketing, and they want brands to recognize their value to the bottom-line."
 
This perspective parallels news content. CNN’s ratings have recently dipped.
 
NABJ's leadership has yet to officially meet with CNN leadership as requested last year, and NABJ continues to ask the following questions:
 
  • Why are there no black employees in executive or senior news management positions?
  • What are CNN’s specific plans to correct the issues?
  • What is CNN’s timetable for correcting the issue?
 
NABJ’s request for a response to these questions had not been answered by CNN at the time of publication.
 
NABJ has reissued its request to meet with AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. NABJ received a commitment for a meeting last year with AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia and CNN, that Stephenson would meet with NABJ’s delegation, and now is the time for that to happen.
 
The text of NABJ's March 2019 letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson can be viewed below.
 
-30-

Media Contact:
 
Kanya Stewart
Director of Communications
press@nabj.org
 
 
March 8, 2019
 
Randall Stephenson
AT&T Chairman, CEO & President
208 S. Akard Street
Dallas, Texas 75202
 
Dear Mr. Stephenson:
 
I’m resurfacing the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) invitation to
meet with you, AT&T’s executive team and NABJ’s four-member board delegation. I
shared with WarnerMedia’s John Stankey yesterday that I’d follow up with you
about the AT&T meeting request specifically.
 
In addition, NABJ is formally requesting that AT&T conduct a civil rights audit of
CNN and its news operations, and that the audit be conducted by an outside party.
To date, the NABJ has met or has scheduled meetings with CBS, Fox, NBC and
ABC to discuss diversity, inclusion and equity, specifically in the news operation’s
executive ranks.
 
All of CNN’s broadcast competitors have been very receptive, positive and respectful
of the NABJ delegation and its motives to meet. All continue to be heavily engaged in
NABJ initiatives because those initiatives match many of their business model needs.
They demonstrate that they not only respect NABJ’s efforts but value those efforts to help
them achieve their business objectives. They want to grow audiences through content
offerings that appeal to a wide range of audiences/consumers.
 
As we all know, many content offerings are driven by a diverse group of decision-makers
in the media industry. A lack of diversity narrows the scope of palatable content offerings
and may have direct impact on consumer interests. Utilizing language from your
mission statement, we believe there is a disconnect with CNN regarding “connecting”
to its audience.
 
Connecting with that audience “better than anyone else” is compromised
at CNN based on its track record on diversity. It is our hope that the AT&T mission and its
diversity efforts will be pushed down through the ranks to initiate positive change at CNN,
WarnerMedia and other entities, such as DirectTV, under the AT&T umbrella.
 
We have received tremendous support from a number of organizations asking how
they can help motivate CNN to do the right thing in terms of hiring practices of black
employees in the management ranks. We have responded that AT&T is open to
talking with our leadership team and that we are hopeful that the initial very positive
reception to our meeting with you is still the case.
 
We will adjust our schedules to meet your availability. Please advise when we may
meet with you and your team. I’m reachable by personal cell.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Sarah Glover
NABJ President

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