WASHINGTON, D.C. – The NAACP issued a March 6 statement supporting the National Association of Black Journalists’ (NABJ) call for a civil rights audit and examination of executive-level diversity at CNN.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson offered his support to NABJ President Sarah Glover by phone and tweeted.
“Until concrete steps are taken by @CNN, the @NAACP stands firmly with @NABJ and asks @WarnerMediaGrp to conduct a diversity and inclusion audit of all its news divisions. We'll continue to hold the media industry accountable for their insufficient responses and actions toward diversity,” Johnson wrote on Twitter.
On Tuesday (March 5), NABJ issued a statement urging CNN to diversify its news leadership, after preliminary research determined that there were no Black people who directly report to CNN President Jeff Zucker and that there were no Black executive or senior news leaders within CNN’s news operations. Zucker refuses to meet with NABJ’s four-person delegation and has yet to provide documentation of black representation within the news leadership ranks.
The NAACP noted in the statement it released that the organization is “offended” that Zucker is reluctant to address NABJ’s concerns. The NAACP also stated, “It is vital that news organizations reflect the diversity of our country, which includes people of color in key decision-making roles which are responsible for shaping news coverage and providing nuanced perspectives, especially around issues directly impacting Black America. CNN’s lack of Black representation in leadership roles is troubling and another example of the media industry’s reluctance to address an issue that continues to plague newsrooms across the country.”
After NABJ’s statement and call to action garnered international attention, CNN said it refused to meet with NABJ because CNN does not want to meet with one of the members of the NABJ delegation. NABJ maintains CNN’s response is a diversion from focusing on the issues that matter most – diversity, inclusion and equity.
In an email to members, NABJ leadership wrote, “As anticipated, CNN has chosen to divert attention away from answering the critical diversity and inclusion questions that NABJ is asking. NABJ’s outreach and meeting requests are focused on CNN's workforce and the lack of diversity within its news leadership, as indicated by preliminary research. NABJ has held and has scheduled meetings with all other networks with no issue or conflict.”
NABJ initially requested a meeting with executives at AT&T, CNN’s parent company. That invitation has been extended again and NABJ said it is awaiting a response.