The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is holding CNN accountable for the lack of Black faces in upper management positions at the network.
The organization has placed CNN on a “special media monitoring list” because of its lack of diversity, according to a press release.
“A special team will perform further research and an analysis of CNN’s diversity, inclusion and equity practices, per the NABJ Board’s directive,” the release reads. “The special team will also publicly report on identified deficiencies in hiring a diverse workforce in news decision-making capacities at CNN. NABJ is also calling for a civil rights audit that examines the company’s hiring, promotion and compensation practices involving Black employees.”
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The NABJ claims CNN President Jeff Zucker has no Black direct reports. The organization also says CNN does not have any Black executive producers, vice presidents or senior vice presidents.
“NABJ received a communication from CNN disputing only one of our research points, saying the assertion that there are not any Black vice presidents on the news side is inaccurate,” the release continues. “However, when asked to provide the name and position of the individual or individuals involved on the editorial side of news, CNN has yet to provide specifics.”
CNN released a statement to The Wrap in which the network expressed a willingness to negotiate with the NABJ, but it made it clear company representatives won't meet with the organization unless Roland Martin isn’t present. Martin is NABJ’s vice president of digital. CNN’s beef with him started after he leaked town hall debate questions to the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election cycle.
“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,” CNN said. “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.”
NABJ believes Martin’s presence should be a non-issue since a meeting between the parties would be focused on the network's management rather than the 2016 incident.
“NABJ’s request to meet was and is focused solely on CNN’s diversity efforts, its results and our strategic priorities as an organization,” NABJ said.
Martin shared his views on the matter during a discussion with Tom Joyner and NABJ President Sarah Glover. He claims he did not leak the questions; instead, he says former Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile leaked the questions without his permission.
“We made it clear, CNN does not tell us who can sit on our side of the table just like we don’t tell them who can sit on their side of the table,” Martin said.
“This is something that is beyond any individual,” Glover added. “The focus of NABJ is around diversity and making sure those numbers are increased. We will continue to press for that.”
“We want the audience to say, ‘CNN, we’re not interested in being media sharecroppers. We want Black folks in executive positions.’” Martin said. “They should know, If you want us to watch, they should hire Black folks in senior executive positions. Other networks have done it. Why can’t Jeff Zucker at CNN?”
It is not yet clear when and if the meeting will take place.
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