CNN Announces New and Expanded Race Journalism Team

By A.J. Katz Comment

In-depth coverage of race relations in 2020, both domestic and abroad, is as important as it’s ever been, and CNN’s management team seems to be acutely aware of this.

In a memo to staff today, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker said the company will devote more resources to covering all matters pertaining to race and policing, and announced the creation of a new and expanded race journalism beat at CNN.

“We are pleased to share the news of a new and expanded race team, which will contribute to all CNN platforms,” Zucker announced. “This team will build on what so many do already at CNN and will provide the needed structure to cover this beat with more focus and force.”

Zucker added: “Race touches every aspect of our lives, and therefore every area of our coverage. That work will continue. It must.”

He noted that this new team “is not a silo for all race coverage,” but rather “a center and a beacon to enable us to do all the work there is to do in the most timely, relevant way we can for audiences across all platforms.”

Zucker gave shout outs to Meredith Artley, Virginia Moseley, Cathy Straight, Matthew Hilk, Mitra Kalita, Delano Massey, Pervaiz Shallwani and Ramon Escobar for helping structure and build out the team, and said Massey will lead the new beat.

Massey joined CNN recently from the AP, where he was the leader of the race and ethnicity team. He will also continue to run the team covering the Justice Department. Massey will report to Hilk for newsgathering and to Straight for digital priorities. The three of them will collaborate closely and make sure these stories reach and serve audiences across the network.

In search of a new job? The race journalism team is hiring for these positions:

Senior Editor – The person in this role will function as Massey’s partner, focused on assigning and editing stories for all digital platforms on this beat and will report to Straight.

Senior Writer – This is a digitally focused role, with occasional TV-oriented work. The person, leaning on experience on this beat, will break stories, cover major breaking news, and will pitch, write and partner around the organization on enterprise, stories and projects.

Breaking and Trends Writer – This writer covers breaking and developing news daily, working closely with the Live Story and Breaking News team on developing stories where race is involved. They will also work closely with the Culture and Trends team and Social to capture and reflect the conversation around race and diversity.

TVNewser obtained the internal note Zucker sent to staff:

July 13, 2020
I could not be prouder of the impactful work that CNN has done on every platform in the last few years—and especially in the last several weeks—covering race and racial injustice in America. Our reporting has been powerful, emotional, and helped to shed a light on the growing movement against institutional racism. Today, I am pleased to announce that we are making an even more significant, sustained commitment to ensure race coverage is a permanent part of our journalism.

The recent conversations we’ve had in our newsrooms have been informative and constructive. We have valued them, we heard you, and we will continue listening. There are structural changes and investments we can and will make to better cover what is happening in our society. We are committed to doing that.

Many talented journalists around the organization work on or around race. Everyone knows Sara Sidner and Mallory Simon’s powerful track record of covering hate and racism, the award-winning analysis pieces by John Blake, which show how our racial history permeates all aspects of society, Abby Phillip’s work shining a light on the role of race in the election, as she did so well recently in Tulsa, and Brandon Tensley on the intersection of race, culture, and politics. There are dozens of CNN journalists who regularly report out stories on this beat across Digital, Newsgathering, our contributors, and beyond. Race touches every aspect of our lives, and therefore every area of our coverage. That work will continue. It must.

In that spirit, we are pleased to share the news of a new and expanded race team, which will contribute to all CNN platforms. This team will build on what so many do already at CNN and will provide the needed structure to cover this beat with more focus and force.

This team will break news and cover the stories and conversations around race. The struggles, progress, and triumphs. The systemic racism that the majority of Americans now acknowledge exists. The latest polls and studies and data. How race is intertwined with inequality in business, politics, sports, media, housing, healthcare, and education. Lack of representation in leadership roles in so many industries. The still-present signals and symbols of racism. Voices who provide solutions, inspiration, and leadership. Black, White, Latino, Asian American, Native American, Multiracial, and all races.

This team is not a silo for all race coverage, but it is a center and a beacon to enable us to do all the work there is to do in the most timely, relevant way we can for audiences across all platforms. This enhanced team and structure will provide a more effective “air traffic control” and clearinghouse for green lighting, assigning resources and advocating for more strategic placement on all our platforms so these stories have a powerful impact.

I want to thank Meredith Artley, Virginia Moseley, Cathy Straight, Matthew Hilk, Mitra Kalita, Delano Massey, Pervaiz Shallwani, and Ramon Escobar for their collective leadership in structuring and building this team.

Delano Massey will be the leader of this new beat. Delano joined CNN recently from the AP, where he was the leader of the race and ethnicity team. He will also continue to run the team covering the Justice Department. Delano will report to Matthew for newsgathering and into Cathy for digital priorities. The three of them will collaborate closely and make sure these stories reach and serve audiences across the network. They are recruiting as of today for the following, newly created positions:

Senior Editor – The person in this role will function as Delano’s partner, focused on assigning and editing stories for all Digital platforms on this beat and will report to Cathy.

Senior Writer – This is a digitally focused role, with occasional TV-oriented work. The person, leaning on experience on this beat, will break stories, cover major breaking news, and will pitch, write, and partner around the organization on enterprise, stories, and projects.

Breaking and Trends Writer – This writer covers breaking and developing news daily, working closely with the Live Story and Breaking News team on developing stories where race is involved. They will also work closely with the Culture and Trends team and Social to capture and reflect the conversation around race and diversity.

Separately, we’re formalizing a structure to increase our commitment to reporting on policing in America—the power that law enforcement has, how they wield it, and the full view of policing as seen from individuals and communities who value, fear or question their authority. The challenges that officers face and the stories of where the system is working and where it’s broken. Pervaiz Shallwani will oversee this beat. Pervaiz joined CNN recently after spending more than a decade editing and reporting on policing. Pervaiz will report to Matthew and continue his leadership of daily enterprise and investigative efforts in New York. In addition to drawing on the already-strong work of Shimon Prokupecz, Josh Campbell, Ryan Young, Mark Morales, Scott Glover, and others, we are going to add a new digitally-focused Senior Writer to this beat team who will contribute important context to breaking stories and think of policing as a business and an institution. The senior writer will go deep into the renewed scrutiny on police tactics, training, and unions.

Supporting both new beat systems will be a new Data and Visuals Editor. This person is a finder of data, trends, and statistics about race and policing. They may surface data on inequality, incarceration rates, access to health care, childcare, education. They will work tightly with the digital Visuals team and beyond to make stories on both the new race and policing beats stronger with interactive data, charts, and maps that make and break news for all platforms.

If you are interested in applying for any of these new positions, or know of people we should speak with, please reach out to Delano, Matthew, Cathy, or Pervaiz and refer people to WarnerMediaCareers.com.

As journalists, we all have a responsibility to accurately tell the stories of our world. These new teams are committed to doing just that, building on all the work others have done and will continue to do.

Thank you for the open and honest conversations that informed these new teams. And please keep them coming.

Jeff

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