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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Where's the Diversity CNN?

The National Association of Black Journalists on Friday lashed out at CNN for its decision to replace Campbell Brown in the 8:00 p.m. time slot with two white co-hosts, Kathleen Parker and Eliot Spitzer. “The company missed another opportunity to place a person of color in prime time,” NABJ said in a statement. “Are you telling us that CNN could find no one better than an ex-politician who quit being New York governor after consorting with prostitutes to grace America’s living rooms each night? CNN does have Tony Harris anchoring in the morning, and Fredricka Whitfield, T.J. Holmes, and Don Lemon on the weekends. But that’s not prime time. The same can be said about MSNBC.” Contacted by, CNN cited several of its African-American correspondents as examples of its commitment to diversity, adding: “The new 8:00 p.m. program will have a rotating panel of diverse guests.” Read the NABJ's letter to cable executives after the jump.

Dear Cable News Executives:

It is 2010, but the National Association of Black Journalists sees our cable news networks moving backward when it comes to who they believe is worthy of anchoring prime time news shows.

NABJ was founded in 1975 to encourage news media companies to hire and to promote more Black journalists. At that time, black journalists originally hired to cover riots during the turbulent 1960s found they were not being assigned to meaningful beats or were only allowed to cover "Black" stories.

NABJ's advocacy for fair hiring practices paid off. Many of our founders, including columnists Les Payne in New York and DeWayne Wickham in Washington, D.C., and anchor Maureen Bunyan in Washington, D.C. remain prominent figures in the media.

NABJ continues this advocacy today. To be candid, we have been focusing our talks with media executives on ways they can increase the diversity of their news management teams. It is our belief that a diverse management team improves coverage decisions and hiring practices. It seems, though, that the companies have taken that to mean that we don't care about who is on the air. We're watching, and we do.

Over the past several years, NABJ Executive Board members have met with leaders of the top media companies. Our message: "Let us help if you are looking for diverse talent."

Some of the companies have reached out, but the names we have submitted never seem to be called in for interviews.

Three years ago, Ebony magazine's Kevin Chappell noted, "While CNN has the most Black news anchors with eight, the other cable networks don't fair as well... and none of the national cable stations has any Blacks in prime-time slots."Find this article here.

Nothing has changed. NABJ questions CNN's decision to hire former New York governor/attorney general Eliot Spitzer to co-host a new show in Campbell Brown's old time slot. The company missed another opportunity to place a person of color in prime time. It just seems that cable news can never find diverse candidates who are good enough to meet their standards. We want to know your standards.

Are you telling us that CNN could find no one better than an ex-politician who quit being New York governor after consorting with prostitutes to grace America's living rooms each night?

CNN does have Tony Harris anchoring in the morning, and Fredericka Whitfield, T.J. Holmes, and Don Lemon on the weekends. But that's not prime time. The same can be said about MSNBC which last week named veteran Lawrence O'Donnell as the anchor of its new 10 p.m. show.

"In his story, Chappell talked with NABJ Member and CBS News anchor Russ Mitchell who summed up what many of us have witnessed over the years. Mitchell told Ebony "I've been to journalism conferences over and over again, and heard some executive say 'I'd like to hire more African-Americans, but I just can't find any qualified ones out there.' That was b.s. then, and that's b.s. now."

source for opening paragraph
source for NABJ letter

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Anonymous said...

No, CNN has no commitment to diversity. The fact that they will have a "rotating panel of diverse guests," doesn't impress me in the slightest. A big so what. They deserve to lose Don Lemon, TJ Holmes and Fredricka. I know a network that "could" turn them all into stars and it ryhmes with box.

Anonymous said...

Rachel Sklar said it best at Daily Beast. CNN &
MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves. CNN
has a huge PR problem and they don't even get
it. They are talking about Don Lemon, TJ Holmes
or Fredericka Whitfield having their own show not
being tokens on a panel. You are telling me that
not one of the managers who make programming
decisions anticipated the fallout or did they just
not care. Everyone in the world can see that this
is nothing more that a cheap ratings ploy and
CNN is about to suffer a huge backlash. For
quite some time this has been whispered about
as cable news' dirty little secret, No black
people in prime time with their own shows.
CNN would never give any of these anchors
a chance to even anchor in prime time. The
only black person who is allowed to be on
CNN in prime time is Roland Martin and that
is because he fits their stereotypes. When it
comes to Don Lemon. Tj Holmes and Fred,
CNN's management can't make it past their
own prejudices. That is why they refuse to
give them the opportunity to have a prime
time show. Are we supposed to believe that
Elliot Spitzer is more qualified ? CNN's
management clearly thinks the public is

Anonymous said...

Let's face the facts as they are. CNN is already the largest black network in the country. They advocate continuously for nothing but blacks and gays. Can you imagine how much lower their ratings would go with a "just for show" black anchor. They are already at the bottom of the pile,why make it worse?

Anonymous said...

Who says having a black anchor in prime time
would make things worse.We don't know the
answer to that question since there is not a
black journalist with a prime time show. CNN
would not have this problem if they hired a
journalist in the first place.

Anonymous said...

That is exactly why CNN should have gone with
female reporters of diverse ethnic backgrounds
for the hour instead of Spitzer. Cable news can
no longer ignore women and minorities. Both
groups consume huge amounts of news from
various sources. It is 2010 and there is President
Obama. It is not 1950's America or the 20th
century. Hip hop, R & B dominate American
pop culture. Yet this nation can not handle a
black male journalist with a cable news show.
I have more faith in the American public than
cable news executives.

Anonymous said...

@8:17PM: I agree with you, but if there is bigotry and prejudice, why don't the black anchors on CNN band together and file a law suit?
Evidently the demos show that more Anglos watch CNN than Afro-Americans and perhaps that is why there are no primetime anchors. If this isn't the reason, I'm quite certain they will use Tony Harris as their "token" Afro American anchor to defend their position.
Fredericka Whitfield, just the other day, interviewed, none other than "Foxy Brown." If she didn't want to do the interview, she very well could have declined. Evidently, and I'm in no way defending CNN, the black anchors don't feel strong enough about this issue or they are afraid to voice their opinion.
You are correct about Roland Martin. He feeds right into the angry Afro-American stereotype and unlike Don Lemon who is well versed and likeable, Martin is not. JMO

Anonymous said...

Don Lemon, TJ Holmes & Fredericka Whitfield
all have million dollar personalities and are very
likable and intelligent.I think people of all races
would watch them all. There was a time when a
guy by the name of Bernard Shaw was an anchor
and by the way primary anchor for CNN.CNN
does need diverse programs. Shows with mass
appeal is where CNN will find millions of viewers.
Wouldn't it be ironic if either of these journalists
proved to be just what CNN needs at 8. CNN
stuck with Campbell Brown for more than a
year and her ratings are awful.So let the
viewers decide if they will watch Don, Tj
or Fred. Just don't keep them out of the
anchor chair in prime time.

Anonymous said...

CNN really looks like the Chaos News Network.
The suits are not handling the situations with
Larry King or Elliot Spitzer well and they clearly
underestimated the fallout that would come from
giving someone like Elliot Spitzer the lead off
show in CNN prime time.It is simple, CNN does
not promote journalists, women or black males.
Are you telling me that TJ or Don would not be
a better alternative to Keith than Elliot Spitzer?
Once again CNN has found a way to inflict
damage upon itself.

Anonymous said...

@7:36AM: Klein has shown his incompetence so many times, why does his choice for the 8PM slot surprise you? He's incompetent and he picks incompetent people like himself.
He's also is in denial. He needs to do what Campbell did and just resign.

Anonymous said...

What is in the water at CNN. Now you have a
pundit taking money from the RNC, a Mideast
editor in trouble for a tweet. Simon says that
Piers Morgan will replace Larry King no matter
what Jon Klein says and that means that CNN
will be going with 3 white males in prime time.
2 of them are not going to be able to handle
breaking news. Having 360 follow 2 hours of
trash is absolutely ridiculous. CNN is about
to learn the hard way this is going to lead to
ratings that are in the gutter. Come fall
CNN will not be worth watching. All because
they are banking their future on Elliot Spitzer
CNN won't recover form these 2 blunders.
It is a shame that no one in the Time Warner
building cares enough to save CNN for
incoming disaster.

Anonymous said...

That is one thing I will never understand.
Why is Jon Klein still at CNN ?

Anonymous said...

Suzanne Malvaux actually drew better numbers
than John King & Campbell Brown last week with
the exception of 1 day according to the ratings
from TV Newser.CNN is a brand name. For a
network like CNN they need to develop an Ipad
mentality for cable news. Tune into CNN and
you get a wide ranging mix of news and less
talk. Opinion will not save CNN. Their power
is in content, story-telling, presentation and
real time events as the news unfolds. CNN
has a world wide global reach but if you tune
into CNN you virtually get a few stories for
an entire day. That is a huge mistake with
all of the content that CNN has and IMHO
misuses. How can CNN not focus on news
gathering and presenting a large amount
of material in an interesting and visually
cinematographic fashion. Each news story
should be done as a mini movie.CNN is
moving away from it's journalistic principles
that built that brand name.CNN is just
burying it's head in the sand if they think
opinion will save them. It is the content
of the shows that make CNN not worth
watching.By abandoning news in prime
time CNN is dissing it's viewers and this
is going to be a huge failure. The only
problem is management at CNN will
not act quickly and CNN could possibly
end up with lower ratings than CNBC.
CNN just can't ignore the news. What
do they think is their bread and butter.
CNN management looks desperate and
scared. Where is the innovation and the
commitment to news.CNN is in trouble
for trying to be FNC. Now they are clearly
morphing into Fox news.CNN viewers
are tired of waiting for CNN to get it's act
together and do some actual news and
reporting.I won't be watching . I am willing
to bet that Keith and Rachel 's ratings will
soar and CNN will dig a deeper hole for
itself. I think Klein is still around because
he has done so much damage to CNN that
nobody wants the job because his bosses
stood by and let it happen. Klein's bosses
did not have to give the go ahead to either
of these shows.I am not sure his bosses
get what CNN is suppose to be all about.
If CNN does not stand up for the news,
they will come to regret it. Why does
CNN want to become more boring and
less informative.CNN missed a golden
opportunity . Millions of people consume
news daily and CNN can not find a way
to bring the world into our homes.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain to me why CNN does
not use the resources of Time, Life and EW.
Time magazines Newsfeed and other media
content on the website is just amazing and
very popular. Even throw Fortune in the mix.
The funny thing is when you go to the time
website it says it has a partnership with CNN.
Newsfeed with Dan and Steve needs to be a
weekend show on CNN and they need to make
appearances on CNN TV. Another cool feature
is the acoustic music take on the week in news.
There is also Sports Illustrated. CNN could just
make a video version of their magazines for
a ton of content on CNN TV. I really don't
understand why CNN does not use Time,
Life,Sports Illustrated and Entertainment
Weekly and Fortune.. Just have 30 minute
video versions of all of the magazine and
quit doing some many reruns on the weekends.
Are there some rules that keep CNN from
using the resources of these magazines.
At least us Time to compliment TSR so
that it is less boring.

Anonymous said...

Suzanne Malveaux should be made an anchor instead of Kyra Philips. I don't see any reason for keeping her. Suzanne is just another under utilized asset that Klein refuses to recognize and if she were smart, and we know she is, she'd go to Fox.

Anonymous said...

TVN has an insiteful interview with Rachel Maddow: Voice of Reason.
MSNBC found a real gem in Maddow and they recognized her talent quickly. At CNN she NEVER would have been allowed to flourish because they were too busy in 07 over promoting "one person."