Black Journalists Call Out CNN for Lack of Diversity at Executive Level

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is calling for CNN to diversify its executive ranks, including executive news managers and direct reports to CNN President Jeff Zucker.

NABJ stated this week that it is concerned about the findings of preliminary research, which points to a lack of diversity in top positions:

▪ Zucker has no Black direct reports.
▪ There are no Black Executive Producers.
▪ There are no Black Vice Presidents on the news side.
▪ There are no Black Senior Vice Presidents on the news side.

In comparison, on average, 24.2 percent of the CEO and direct reports level at the DiversityInc Top 10 and Hall of Fame companies are racially diverse — 11.2 percent Black, 8 percent Latino and 5 percent Asian.

“NABJ received a communication from CNN disputing only one of our research points, saying the assertion that there are not any Black vice presidents on the news side is inaccurate,” the organization said, in a statement.

“However, when asked to provide the name and position of the individual or individuals involved on the editorial side of news, CNN has yet to provide specifics.”

The organization’s four-person delegation, which includes Vice President-Digital Roland Martin, requested a meeting with Zucker.

But Zucker refuses to meet with the delegation, if Martin, formerly employed by CNN, is present.

NABJ said the contention between Martin and the network occurred after his participation in a 2016 town hall meeting with Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

“Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile admitted, according to a Time essay, she inadvertently disclosed a town hall topic to the Clinton campaign that was part of Martin’s research inquiry for the town hall,” NABJ stated.

CNN said the following, in a statement, on Tuesday:

“We have made it abundantly clear that we would be more than happy to sit down with the rest of their leadership team as soon as possible, and that offer still stands.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., who has been a long-time advocate for diversity and inclusion in Silicon Valley, tweeted in support of NABJ:

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) also tweeted:

NABJ said its next step is to involve further engaging with AT&T (No. 3 on the DiversityInc 2018 Top 50 list), “which has responded positively to outreach efforts and previously agreed to meet with NABJ.”

AT&T recently announced it had completed the acquisition of Time Warner Inc., now making it CNN’s parent company.

The NAACP, Color of Change, the National Newspaper Publishers Association and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., have joined NABJ’s call for a civil rights audit at CNN and more Black representation among its news leadership.

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