The National Association of Black Journalists issued a statement this week condemning the treatment of black employees at CNN.
They cite Suzanne Malveaux, T.J. Holmes and Soledad O’Brien, who have all left or been forced to leave their anchor posts in the past few years. They say there are only two black executive producers at the network.
This week is not a good one for CNN where discrimination is concerned. On Monday, Stanley Wilson, a 51-year-old writer/producer filed a $5 million lawsuit in Los Angeles County against the network for race and age discrimination after he was fired in January. He worked at CNN for 17 years. He was promoted one time despite applying for numerous positions.
In April of last year, Joel Dreyfuss, a founding NABJ member, wrote an opinion piece for the organization’s website putting CNN on notice. He wrote the piece from Paris, where he only had access to CNN International:
“Jeff Zucker’s tenure at CNN will be a test case for diversity – in a negative way,” he wrote. “Clearly it’s not a priority for him, at least when it comes to blacks and Hispanics. Can he build a base with an overwhelmingly-white team (and a couple of South Asians), as the faces of CNN? Clearly, he must think so. If he is able to lift ratings without reflecting the America that just re-elected Obama, it will reinforce those who want to believe that diversity is not essential for success.”
This week’s statement cites the fact that NABJ gave CNN it’s “best practices” award in 2007.
So what has happened in the last seven years?
“Since that time, we have seen a number of African Americans leave CNN,” said NABJ President Bob Butler. “I know CNN is going through layoffs, but the departure of so many African Americans is worrisome.”
CNN refused to provide a comment on this to NABJ. The Mirror has also requested a comment.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, CNN is launching a show called “Roots.” A promo: “All next week starting Sunday, CNN anchors search for their family’s roots, including our own Don Lemon. Tune in.”