CNN Chief to Step Aside for ‘New Thinking’

Journal-isms: CNN's ratings decline continues despite the news channel's diversity efforts.  

CNN's Whitfield, O'Brien (Moses Robinson/Getty)
CNN's Whitfield, O'Brien (Moses Robinson/Getty)

Blacks, Latinos Want More Diversity Progress

“Unable to reverse a dramatic ratings decline, CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton announced Friday that he is resigning at the end of the year,” as Joe Flint reported Friday for the Los Angeles Times. The move creates an opportunity for the pioneering cable news network — praised in past years for its diversity efforts — to address disappointments of black and Latino journalists.

” ‘CNN needs new thinking,’ Walton said in an email to the CNN staff,” Flint’s story continued. ” ‘That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan, one who will build on our great foundation and will commit to seeing it through.’

“No successor was named for Walton, who has been with Time Warner’s CNN for over 30 years and has run it for close to a decade.

“Pressure has been growing on Walton to improve CNN’s sagging performance for the past several years. Though CNN Worldwide is very profitable — Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes told shareholders in May that it should make more than $600 million in 2012 — CNN has lost ground in the United States to News Corp.’s Fox News and Comcast’s MSNBC.”

Bob Butler, vice president/broadcast for the National Association of Black Journalists, told Journal-isms by telephone that Walton “was a friend to NABJ in that he supported our efforts to increase diversity. While he supported our efforts, we have not seen as much progress as we would like when it comes to diversifying prime time and the power positions behind the scenes … I’d like to see CNN make more of an effort to diversify the prime-time lineup. When you look at prime time, the country is now 35 percent people of color. You don’t see that reflected in CNN or the other cable networks.”

Manuel De La Rosa, vice president/broadcast of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said by email:

“CNN has talked a good game about developing Latinos and covering the issues in our community, but when you look at their product, it’s not as impressive. They are not committed to Latinos and coverage of our issues.

“I really believe if they did a better job of recruiting more diverse managers, promoting them to management positions and covering issues that matter to Latinos, they would see better ratings. I just hope they select a new leader who will be committed to coverage of real issues impacting Latinos, hiring people and putting Latinos in high profile places in management and on-air positions, i.e. not the Morning News and CNN Latino, and would be willing to sit down and talk to NAHJ leaders about how we can help them achieve those goals.