Tags: CNN | black journalists | diversity | layoffs

Journalists' Group: CNN Cut Support After Diversity Complaint

By    |   Monday, 20 October 2014 01:37 PM

CNN has withdrawn its support from the National Association of Black Journalists' 2015 Convention and Career Fair after the group criticized the network for the lack of diversity among its staff members, according to association president Bob Butler.

On Oct. 7, the NABJ issued a statement expressing concern about the numerous African-American staff members who have either left or been fired from the network, including anchors who have either left the anchor desk or CNN entirely in the past few years.

Over the weekend, the NABJ issued a new statement,  saying CNN had contacted Butler and informed him the NABJ's request for support for the convention was denied, although CNN had been a supporter for years.

"I understand the company has a right to make personnel decisions," said Butler. "There were not that many African American managers at CNN in the first place. These layoffs have hurt our members tremendously. I am severely disappointed that CNN has ended our partnership."

During the past few years, African American anchors Soledad O'Brien, TJ Holmes, and Suzanne Malveaux have either left the anchor desk or the network, and there are only two African American executive producers working at CNN, the NABJ complains.

And last week, Stanley Wilson, a former writer and producer for CNN's Los Angeles bureau, filed a $5 million lawsuit against the network, alleging discrimination and wrongful termination. In the suit, Wilson says he worked for 17 years for CNN but was only promoted once, in 2003, while being passed over by less-experienced employees.

Butler said things have changed greatly at CNN when it comes to diversity. His association awarded the network its "Best Practices" award in 2007 to recognize its efforts.

"Since that time, we have seen a number of African Americans leave CNN," said Butler. "I know CNN is going through layoffs but the departure of so many African Americans is worrisome."

During a major recent layoff, at least five senior managers were let go, and in the past year, "nearly a dozen African American managers have either resigned, been laid off or were terminated," he said.

According to a CNN report, there were about 150 layoffs spread across CNN, its sister channel HLN, and CNN.com last week.

The layoffs also meant the cancellation of several shows, including "Unguarded" on Fridays, "CNNMoney" on Saturdays and Jane Velez-Mitchell's talk show on HLN, CNN reports. Still another 130 people are leaving voluntarily through buyouts, for total cuts of about 8 percent of the network's 3,500 employees.

Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, who heads the Congressional Black Caucus, said she is concerned that the layoffs have reduced the number of African Americans in senior roles at the network, reports Mediaite

"In a nation growing increasingly more diverse, it is imperative that the organizations tasked with keeping us informed reflect the same diversity," she said in a statement.

"Ethnic sensitivity both on-camera and behind it demonstrates a corporate understanding of the benefits of diversity, and a genuine respect for the audiences’ needs."

Fudge said it is her "sincere hope" that the reports turn out to not be true and that Time Warner, CNN's parent company, "works to ensure that the diversity of its viewers across the country, and the world, is reflected and protected in all areas of its organization."

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CNN has withdrawn its support from the National Association of Black Journalists' 2015 Convention and Career Fair after the group criticized the network for its lack of diversity, the assoication's president says.
CNN, black journalists, diversity, layoffs
Monday, 20 October 2014 01:37 PM
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