NAACP: ‘CNN’s Lack of Black Representation in Leadership Roles Is Troubling’

By A.J. Katz 

Multiple African American advocacy groups are pushing for prompt change in the CNN executive ranks.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has joined the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in calling for the cable newser to hire more African American executives.

“CNN’s lack of black representation in leadership roles is troubling and another example of the media industry’s reluctance to address an issue that continues to plague newsrooms across the country,” the organization said in a statement on Wednesday night. “NAACP finds it offensive that CNN President Jeff Zucker refuses to address this issue.”

We spoke with a number of black anchors and correspondents about the subject of diversity (or lack thereof) in the TV newsroom for a recent story. Each agreed there continue to be problems.

The NAACP’s remarks come a day after the NABJ released a statement saying it is “concerned about the lack of black representation within the ranks of CNN’s executive news managers and direct reports to CNN president Jeff Zucker.” The company also said it was calling for a civil rights audit of the network, and is investigating CNN’s hiring, promotion and compensation practices involving black employees at the network.

The NABJ features a four-person delegation that has attended previous meetings with other media companies. The delegation requesting a meeting with Zucker and CNN includes president Sarah Glover, vice president-digital Roland Martin, vice president- broadcast Dorothy Tucker and executive director Drew Berry.

CNN seems open to meeting with the NABJ, as long as Martin isn’t involved. Here’s their statement from Tuesday:

For months, we have been working with NABJ to schedule a meeting because the relationship between CNN and NABJ is very important to us. As we have told them many times, we look forward to a thoughtful discussion about how both of our organizations can continue to work together.  Unfortunately, the significant and reckless damage that Roland Martin did to CNN while partnering with us during a 2016 Democratic Town Hall has made any meeting that includes him untenable. Mr. Martin displayed an unprecedented and egregious lack of journalistic ethics and integrity by leaking questions prior to the town hall. As a result, we have told NABJ that CNN will not participate in any meeting that includes him. 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.

NABJ says that its next steps involve engaging with AT&T (now known as WarnerMedia) which the organization claims “has responded positively to outreach efforts.”

This isn’t the first time CNN and NABJ have butted heads.

In October 2014, then-NABJ president Bob Butler told the board of the organization that CNN withdrew its support for its 2015 Convention & Career Fair.

The news came after Butler publicly expressed his concern, including an interview with TVNewser, over CNN’s hiring and employee retention practices of black journalists. CNN underwent a workforce reduction earlier in the month that saw the elimination of 300 jobs. One of the highest profile mangers at CNN, New York bureau chief/vp and NABJ member Darius Walker, was among those cut.