WarnerMedia has named Johnita Due senior vp and chief diversity & inclusion officer for WarnerMedia News & Sports.
News & Sports Chairman Jeff Zucker has announced that Due would report to him as a member of his executive team.
“I am so pleased to make this announcement and welcome Johnita to the leadership team. Johnita is someone who is well respected by employees and managers alike throughout CNN and WarnerMedia for not only her legal guidance and editorial insights but also for her diversity and inclusion leadership,” Zucker said in a statement. “I am thrilled she has agreed to transition legal responsibilities so she can lead the diversity efforts.”
Ramon Escobar, CNN’s svp for talent recruitment and development, held the role since January 2017.
“I want to thank Ramon for his tireless work these past two years,” said Zucker. “Every day you can see the huge impact he has made across our platforms in identifying and developing talent in front of and behind the camera. He will continue his work in this important area as a partner to Johnita.”
Due was most recently VP and Asst. General Counsel for CNN/Turner Broadcasting. Prior to that, she was chairwoman of CNN’s diversity and inclusion efforts from 2005 until September 2013.
This time, she will run diversity efforts for both CNN Worldwide and Turner Sports.
Due has been at the company 16 years as the lead editorial attorney for CNN Digital, CNN Films, CNN Sports, CNN Business, CNN Health, United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell, as well as U.S. morning programming.
She played a part in the Beneath the Skin investigative reporting into the killing of an African-American teen by Chicago police, consumer and health matters such as government debt collection, global mail fraud, sexual abuse in nursing homes, and off-label prescriptions, the investigation into the death of James Brown and his wife Adrienne, as well as CNN’s #MeToo reporting over the past year and a half.
In addition to serving as CNN’s chief diversity advisor for eight years, Due most recently co-chaired the Turner business resource group BlackProfessionals@Turner and has been leading a Turner-wide task force on African-American retention and advancement.
“In the midst of our corporate changes to align with WarnerMedia’s goals, it’s more important than ever to ensure that diversity and inclusion remain business priorities,” Due said in a statement. “I am proud of Jeff’s commitment to this area and the significant gains made by CNN to develop and showcase diverse voices that reflect our audiences and to produce content that not only resonates with all audiences but also makes a difference in society. I am looking forward to furthering Jeff’s vision for his organization around transparency, recruitment, and development which will benefit all employees and the business overall.”
The appointment of Due comes amid pressure from multiple organizations who have called out CNN for its lack of black representation in the executive ranks.
“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 NAACP said in a statement in March 2019. “NAACP finds it offensive that CNN President Jeff Zucker refuses to address this issue.”
The NAACP’s statement was released the day after the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) made similar remarks, saying it was “concerned about the lack of black representation within the ranks of CNN’s executive news managers and direct reports to CNN president Jeff Zucker.”