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Saturday, July 9, 2011

National Association of Black Journalists Berates CNN

The National Association of Black Journalists issued a letter to CNN complaining about the same issue many of you have mentioned in ATC's comments, the lack of minorities in CNN's prime time lineup. We thought it might be a good jump off point for this weeks discussion. Take time to read the letter, it's after the bump, and give us your opinion.



Dear Friends:

It has been 17 days since I sent network news executives an open letter about the deplorable lack of diversity in their prime-time schedules. Now, I am floored that CNN missed another opportunity to fill a void created at 8 p.m. The NAACP took notice too and blasted the network for a lack of black talent on the desk after former New York governor Eliot Spitzer's departure this week. Former CNBC anchor Erin Burnett will join the prime-time lineup. This is no slight against Burnett, who has worked as a financial analyst and anchored financial news.

But this is not the first time CNN has had an opportunity and failed to diversify its nighttime lineup. During the past two years alone, CNN has made several changes after the departures of Lou Dobbs, Larry King, and Campbell Brown. With each of those changes came an opportunity for diversity; yet in each instance, CNN went in another direction.

Exacerbating the issue is the fact that CNN has several times passed over its own qualified African American journalists for prime-time posts in favor of whites who possess celebrity (Piers Morgan) or infamy (Spitzer). He resigned his post as New York governor in 2008 after an FBI sting revealed a liaison with a prostitute. In October 2010, NABJ met with CNN executives, including President Jim Walton, after the network announced that Morgan would replace Larry King upon his retirement. At the time, CNN said it was looking for the "right person" and not necessarily a mainstream journalist when the next prime-time opening occurred.

NABJ spoke out again when the network hired Spitzer and Kathleen Parker to replace Campbell Brown.

NABJ Vice President of Broadcast Bob Butler and I talked with Walton late Thursday, and he told us the network continues to seek and develop a candidate who has the image and substance to carry a prime-time show. I invited Walton to mount an innovative search during the NABJ national convention next month in Philadelphia. It will be packed with outstanding African American talent.

Since our meeting last year, CNN has made progress in hiring diverse executives including managing editor and executive vice president Mark Whitaker, CNNPolitics.com editor and former NABJ president Bryan Monroe, and Chief Marketing Officer Janet Rolle, who had a similar role at BET. In fact, NABJ sent Walton a letter thanking him for hiring Whitaker and for adding Suzanne Malveaux to the lineup of midday anchors. Walton said he is proud of the senior level hires, but until a person of color is added to prime time, CNN's progress will be "hollow." Viewers do not see who's making decisions or writing scripts.

NABJ sincerely hopes the next time there is an opening for a prime-time host, CNN will have found -- and groomed - the "right person." CNN must make efforts to ensure that its staff, both on-air and behind the scenes, is as diverse and inclusive as its audience.

Yours in service,

Kathy Y. Times
President
National Association of Black Journalists






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22 comments:

Phebe said...

Walton said 'The network continues to seek and develop a candidate who has the image and substance to carry a prime-time show'. Wow, if that's not a slap in the face for Soledad, TJ, Don Lemon and others I don't know what is.
I don't think Walton has a clue what viewers want. It seems that most, if not all, of CNN's decision makers are out of touch with the average viewer.

Personally I'd love to see CNN do a Newsroom type show at 10 PM. Lemon would be my first choice but there are many others at CNN who could make it work too. Nothing too in-depth, just an overview of the big stories of the day around the world.

Anonymous said...

There are far more critical areas in this great United States that the NAACP should be addressing.

I don't think the NAACP would even care if the chosen anchor of color was qualified and a ratings winner, as long as their statistic was filled.

They aren't saying anything about the fact that anchors of color are on the entire weekends at CNN.

This just goes to show you just how trivial the NAACP truly is.

Anonymous said...

Jim Walton will come to regret that comment.
That is a slap in the face to Tj, Don & other
minority journalists at CNN. If you look at
CNN in prime time lately how in the hell
does Eliot Spitzer and Piers Morgan help
the image of CNN.He basically called Isha,
Don, Tj, & others inferior. It is true CNN is
run by bigots.

Anonymous said...

Jim Walton is being defensive because the
knows there is no excuse for looking over
qualified minority journalists in favor of
Piers Morgan or Eliot Spitzer.

I don't care if you are white, Latino, black,
Asian, Native American, etc. Any human
being should be appalled at a boneheaded
racist comment like that. At first I gave CNN
the benefit of the doubt but not any more.

That explains why CNN totally disrespects
President Obama.

Boycott CNN and all of their shows and that
includes 360.

Anonymous said...

CNN certainly does need more diversity on the network. There are very few African Americans, Asians, Latinos in prominent positions there. I see more people of color on MSNBC, not necessarily in prime time, but at least Tamron Hall has her own program there and they employ many African Americans as commentators, such as Kelli Goff and Toure, Jonathan Capehart, Melissa Harris-Perry and Eugene Washington. CNN barely has any female African American reporters/correspondents aside from Soledad and Suzanne Malveaux.
Don Lemon is not a favorite of mine, but I think he's capable of handling more than weekend shifts where they seem to stick most of their African American reporters (Fredericka Whitfield has been doing weekends for EONS there). The lack of diversity at CNN is rather startling, IMO.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight. Soledad,Don,Tj,
Isha, Suzanne and others are not as qualified
to do breaking news in prime time as Eliot
Spitzer and Piers Morgan. Phebe ;you are so
right. So minorities are not a good image for
CNN but Eliot Spitzer and Piers Morgan do
no harm to CNN. Sure. Take a look at ratings.
Let's see if Jim Walton takes the challenge.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who believes the NAACP is "trivial" has probably never experienced the kind of racism that everyone would like to pretend is no longer a part of this nation because we have an African American President. The NAACP still is a significant organization to people of color who face racism and discrimination in housing/hiring/health care and they are very much needed today. Racism persists and it rears its ugly head in even the most unexpected places as I'm seeing now.

Anonymous said...

That explains why CNN totally disrespects
President Obama.


Without a doubt.

Anonymous said...

Yes I do absolutely believe and feel that the NAACP is trivial.
And anyone who believes that CNN has an issue with hiring people of color truly does not watch CNN.

The reason I feel NAACP is trivial because there are far greater fights in this country like housing, loans, schools. Areas that truly are a problem for people of all color. As opposed to making sure there is a person of color in primetime, really?

You that are complaining if you actually watch CNN, you will see they are one of the better news organizations when it comes to people of color. You couldn't truly watch CNN because if you did then you would know CNN caters to Obama and gives him more air time than any other news outlet.

And yes, I can truly speak from experience when it comes to NAACP, when it comes to a real issue, they are nothing more than a talking head not willing to go out on a limb for the average person. Only picking and choosing issues that will get media space.

Anonymous said...

I am not in a position to speak about people of color, but I think, if you read between Walton's lines, as Phebe quoted him, he's speaking of "a person of color who will get him ratings."
Soledad had a morning slot with AC, back in 2003 and we just said our good-byes to Tony Harris.
So they are not racists.
It is and always was RATINGS.
BLACK, WHITE, ASIAN, WHATEVER.
I love Harris Faulkner on Fox News.
She reminds me a bit of Isha on 360
but Harris has been around a very long time on Fox and now has a Sunday show. She used to just read the bulletin and she worked herself up to an anchoring position in Atlanta and then was promoted to a weekly Sunday show.
CNN could go in the opposite direction and DEMOTE MORGAN AND PUT DON LEMON in prime. It can't hurt.

Anonymous said...

NABJ is not the NAACP. It and other journalist
organizations, Rachel Sklar and many others have
written and spoken about this issue, If you never
even let Don Lemon or Tj Holmes sit in the chair
in prime time how can you say they won't get
ratings. Have you seen CNN's ratings lately. CNN
is making some dumb decisions.I take it that
Jim Walton has never watched PMT. He can't carry
a prime show or do a decent interview. There you
go again CNN. All you have to do is watch CNN
in prime time and you know this is bs.CNN has
botched this big time. Any chance of Erin
Burnett succeeding is gone. Walton just ruined
any chance of CNN coming back. You just
can't get away with what he said and expect
viewers to watch CNN. The network gave
Eliot Spitzer the lead show in prime time.
CNN has no standards or values.As many
have said before he didn't have to give the
go ahead to Parker/Spitzer, ITA & PMT.
Out of touch indeed. It sounds like Walton
is too afraid that Don or TJ will prove him
wrong.CNN. The Chicken News Network.
I hear a Worst Person's coming and on
The Last Word not too long ago Lawrence
talked about this.

Anonymous said...

Guys, let's be fair to Isha. She is very much a
part of 360. That is the last show you need
to stop watching. I have never seen Anderson
treat Isha or Joe Johns as less than equals, He
clearly respects them both. Yes, there should
be more diversity in prime time on cable but
you can't overlook Isha;s role on 360. Ratings
is also an issue with AM. CNN has problems
all over the place. I don't envy Jim Walton at
all. The man is trying to save a sinking ship.
It is going to take a whole lot of time to fix
CNN and get the network competitive again.

Anonymous said...

That is exactly why CNN should do a series of
promos for the show announcing the move to
8 featuring Charlie Moore Anderson Cooper,
Isha Sesay, Joe johns, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Gary
Tuchman and all of Team 360. Have them to
speak with CNN viewers about the time change
and let Anderson have the last words about
the move. The man has some writing skills.
Use All The Young Dudes for a promo song.
Carry the news about the time change.

Remember many are not now watching CNN
at 8 PM they don't anything about the move.
Viewers have chosen 360 as their favorite
CNN show and CNN should thank them in
the promos and talk to them about the move
and invite them to tune in at 8 PM.

Anonymous said...

The NAACP has never been, is not now and never will be "trivial" for any reason whatsoever.

I think Isha would be great in a more prominent role at CNN.

Anonymous said...

@1:24PM: "use the Young Dudes," for a promo song and "CNN should thank viewers?"
Really? Let's have a reality check here.
When has CNN EVER thanked their viewers, about anything, let alone watching a show???
Not a realistic venture on your part. Sorry.
And it is up to viewers to KNOW when 360 is on. Yes, promotion of the move is necessary and I'm sure it will come, sooner or later, but those that have a vested interest in watching 360 will watch, just as before. As those who never watched, never will.
It's called a following. Some will be inclined to catch AC at 10PM because of routine and scheduling.
Others will DVR the program.
But a song...NO.

Anonymous said...

Don Lemon handles breaking news all of the time
on the weekends. It is not like he has zero live tv
experience or lack actual news experience. There
is no other way to say it. The management at CNN
gambled away the network and lost badly. Stevie
Wonder could see this a mile away. How does
hiring a disgraced politician and a fired British
tabloid editor who was let go for publishing
fake photos improve the image of CNN or add
substance to the network ? Open mouth and
insert foot. The arrogance of CNN. They really
do believe they can trick viewers and get away
with it. No way man. We aren't that stupid.
CNN wounds are self-inflicted and they still
don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is time for CNN to change their
tune. CNN has to find ways to appreciate
their viewers and let them know it. 360
could not get those ratings without the
viewers. Networks all ways do this. It's
nothing new.

Anonymous said...

CNN has no clue. They are still going with a
celebrity interview for 1 hour in prime tine
with a lousy host who mumbles and stumbles
so badly you can't understand one word Piers
Morgan is saying. CNN sure does need to drop
PMT but they won't. CNN definitely fits Albert
Einstein's definition of insanity. They keep
trying the same thing over and over again
hoping for a different result. Not gonna happen.
We get bombarded with those annoying PMT
promos but none from all of the news people
on CNN. I say do the news promos with
Anderson, journalists and staff. Not pundits
CNN is suppose to be a news channel. Where
are the reporter promos. Let me get this
straight. A news channel does not promote
real journalists. Something is wrong with
this picture.

Anonymous said...

Oh No he didn't. Jim Walton used image and
substance in the same sentence when talking
about CNN. Dude don't go there. Realize that
Mad Men is just a show and not 2011 America.
It's okay to have minorities in prime time on
CNN. Americans won't be afraid like you are.
Minorities are not exactly invisible these days.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Walton please hire George Stroumboulopoulos.
He can do an hour of news and interview show live
with a studio audience. Strombo even does docs
He does this in Canada. Can we get this show
in the U.S. Just take a look online.

Anonymous said...

CNN is going to be picked apart by their
competition for having the former editor
for News Of The World on their payroll.
Now there is news the tabloid tried to
hack 9/11 victims. Another disaster is
coming up for CNN when it comes to
recent hires. I wonder how long it will
be before people stop talking to him.
because of New Of The World. This is
the man responsible for bringing this
tabloid journalist to America. Thanks
for nothing Jim Walton.LOL.

Anonymous said...

CNN should try to bring back Tony Harris...but I guess that is not going to happen. Suzanne Malvieus is ok, but please get rid of that
"you pick the story" segment....the
time wasted "shillng" the stories coould be better spent by showing them. Some days all three sound
intesting.i