National Assoc Of Black Journalists Puts CNN On Watch Over Lack Of Diversity

DOWNTOWN, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, UNITED STATES - 2015/11/14: CNN World Headquarters. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
DOWNTOWN, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, UNITED STATES - 2015/11/14: CNN World Headquarters. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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March 6, 2019 9:38 a.m.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) placed CNN on a “special media monitoring list” over its lack of black executives at the network and on the news side of production, the group said in a statement. 

But CNN has pushed back, raising a fallout the network had with a NABJ official during the 2016 Democratic primaries as rationale for the delay in meeting with the group.

“The NABJ 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 group said in a statement. “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.”

NABJ said it would conduct an analysis of CNN’s “diversity, inclusion and equality practices” and called for a “civil rights audit” into its “hiring, promotion, and compensation practices.”

CNN told NABJ that it does have a black vice president on the news team, but didn’t yet provide details or names of the person in that position, the association said in its statement.

CNN also pushed back on NABJ’s insinuation that the network was unwilling to meet, arguing in a statement that CNN was only opposed to meeting with Roland Martin, an official at NABJ, who reportedly leaked questions prior to a CNN town hall debate during the 2016 Democratic primaries.

“For months, we have been working with NABJ to schedule a meeting because the relationship between CNN and NABJ is very important to us,” CNN said in a statement shared with TPM. “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,” the statement continued. “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.”

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