CNN, land of the liberals, where diversity and tolerance supposedly reign, has been accused of keeping out blacks from its upper-media ranks — the level that reports directly to company President Jeff Zucker — and placed on a “special media monitoring list” by the National Association of Black Journalists.
What’s the significance of a “special media monitoring list?” Practically speaking — who knows. But from a public relations angle?
Ouch. The crime of being too white: never to be taken lightly.
Worse from an optics standpoint is the NABJ’s second demand to CNN — to submit to a “civil rights audit” that would reveal how black journalists are paid in comparison to other races.
“The NABJ is concerned about the lack of black representation within the ranks of CNN’s executive news manager and direct reports to CNN president Jeff Zucker,” the organization said in a release. “This concern, coupled with Zucker’s refusal to meet with a four-person NABJ delegation, has prompted NABJ to place CNN on a special media monitoring list.”
The Wrap reported the NABJ wouldn’t say whether its members have placed other media outlets on the list on previous occasions.
But NABJ did say its delegation has either met with members from CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC or is scheduled to meet with them in the coming weeks. And these media organizations have all expressed willingness to work with NABJ on diversity issues, the organization said. But CNN?
“CNN president Jeff Zucker has no black direct reports,” the release went on. “There are no black executive producers at CNN. There are no black vice presidents on the news side at CNN. There are no black senior vice presidents on the news side at CNN. NABJ is also calling for a civil rights audit that examines the company’s hiring, promotion and compensation practices involving black employees.”
The Hill reported CNN has disputed the NABJ’s accusation of zero blacks in positions of company high-ranking power. And in a statement to The Wrap, CNN said it would be happy to meet with NABJ’s delegation — so long as it didn’t include Roland Martin, the organization’s vice president, because of a “personal issue” stemming from Martin’s participation in a 2016 televised town hall between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
“For months,” CNN said in a statement to The Hill, “we have been working with NABJ to schedule a meeting because the relationship between CNN and NABJ is very important to us.”
Well and good.
But really, CNN could put the whole matter to rest with a simple press release that includes names — specifically, names of blacks with the likes of “senior vice president” or “executive producer” alongside their names.
No meetings required.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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