Under its new management CNN has changed its line-up of anchors to achieve a new look.
Perhaps a name change will be next.
From now on, let’s call it for what it looks like- “Caucasian Network News,” because none of the 12 major correspondents featured
in a recent full-color New York Times advertisement was African American or Hispanic. CNN’s latest featured line-up of news anchors now includes six white
guys (including one Englishman); four white women; one East Indian and one of Middle Eastern origins.
With the recent arrival of Jeff Zucker at the helm of CNN’s news operation, the whitening of the on-air staff probably should not have come as much of a
surprise, since his stewardship of NBC’s news division a few years ago provided ample proof of his appreciation of racial diversity.
Among the first to lose their positions at CNN in the wake of Zucker’s arrival were commentator Roland Martin and morning news anchor Soledad O’Brien, both
black and supremely self-confident and popular with African American viewers of the cable network news giant.
Still, their departures only reflects the overall trend in the past several years within the news business generally, especially among print journalists,
which has seen a steady decline in African American presence in newsrooms across the country. According to the well respected Poynter Institute, the number
of non-white journalists dropped from 6,300 to 5,550 or 11 percent of the workforce between 2008 and 2009.
Much of this decrease has been blamed on sour economics and newsroom retrenchments as the industry has witnessed a dramatic shrinkage in advertising
budgets due in large measure to the 2008 recession and growing competition from on-line news operations. Blacks absorbed a disproportionate share of these
layoffs since they had the least seniority.
Within the television news industry similar trends are apparent according to an authoritative study released in 2011 by the National Association of Black
Journalists in its “Diversity Census.”
“NABJ understands that more diverse newsrooms lead to better coverage of communities of color and more opportunities for jobs and promotions for its
members. Many television stations employ a diverse staff of reporters and anchors and some of the stations meet or exceed the demographics of their
respective communities. But many other stations located in diverse markets have little or no diversity at all on their management teams,” noted the group’s
NABJ then notes that while “non-whites comprise more than one-third of the United States population,” their most recent study found that “people of color
comprise only 12 percent of newsroom managers in the stations we examined.”
Added then NABJ President Kathy Y. Times, “Our census shows too many news organizations sliding backwards and ignoring reality. This is disturbing and
What’s the solution?
Switch channels. With a growing list of broadcast news systems being made available each year, viewers today have many alternative sources for news to
which they can turn. In addition, several African American run cable channels are promising to soon have their own news operations. Spanish speaking
viewers already have at least two choices: Telemundo and Univision.
As for me; I’m through with Caucasian Network News. MSNBC is only two different keystrokes on my remote control. And full-color peacocks are much prettier