CNN’s Diversity Council Changing Leadership

Will the network dissolve the group under Jeff Zucker's leadership?

The leadership of CNN’s Diversity Council is changing, with Johnita P. Due, its longtime chair, stepping down and Maria Ebrahimji, its vice chair, leaving the network, a CNN spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The change at the council, coupled with criticism of CNN’s diversity record since Jeff Zucker became CNN president last year, led to a report that Zucker had disbanded the group. Scott Jones, of the blog reported Thursday, “EXCLUSIVE: Zucker Pulls Plug on CNN’s Diversity Council.”

Christal Jones, a CNN spokeswoman, said that report was incorrect. Due, who is assistant general counsel and chief diversity adviser at CNN Worldwide, is “transitioning out” of the council role, Jones said, and Ebrahimji is “leaving the network to pursue other opportunities.”

The council will become “even more prominent” with a “new chief diversity council adviser,” Jones said. She said Due had been in the role for eight years and decided to step down.

In 2008, Due won the Ida B. Wells Award, then bestowed by the National Association of Black Journalists, the Medill School at Northwestern University and the National Conference of Editorial Writers (now the Association of Opinion Journalists), for her diversity work.

“Under Ms. Due’s charge, the Council has embarked upon many initiatives designed to make the corporate culture at CNN more inclusive and to expand the network’s coverage of minority communities. Those efforts have ranged from convening a summit for senior management devoted to including more diverse guests and perspectives on air to crafting presentations and leading diversity video screenings and discussions with staff that underscore the business case for diversity and to highlight how to be more inclusive in every day coverage,” the Wells jurors said at the time.

“As a result of these efforts, CNN has made great strides in diversifying its staff, including key promotions and appointments of women and people of color to executive and senior management positions. CNN’s commitment to diversity of perspectives is notable in its political coverage. The network has also taken a leading role in the production of noteworthy reports on underserved populations such as its ‘Uncovering America’ series, which provided illuminating and provocative coverage of African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic and GLBT communities, and the groundbreaking ‘Black in America’ documentary series.

“According to Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, Ms. Due’s leadership has been critical to the success of these initiatives. ‘She has been able to work closely with and engage all levels of management and staff so that everybody feels ownership in the goals of the Diversity Council,’ he wrote in nominating Ms. Due for the Wells award. . . .”

Due could not be reached for comment.

NABJ and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists have complained about the lack of diversity progress under Zucker’s leadership.

In a talk before the Atlanta Press Club in April, Zucker was asked about the departure of two CNN journalists of color — Soledad O’Brien and Roland Martin — and whether the network was committed to diversity.

Zucker said that CNN had just hired five correspondents and four of them were “diverse,” Maria Saporta wrote then for Atlanta Business Chronicle.

“Long-time television anchor Monica Pearson called out from the back of the room how many of them were black. Zucker answered that two of them were African Americans. . . .”

Zucker hired Michaela Pereira as a newsreader for his new morning show, promoted George Howell to full-time correspondent and hired Alina Machado. Howell and Pereira are black. There are no Latino anchors during prime viewing time.

Although black news anchors at the network have long complained about being relegated to weekend and off-peak duty, Don Lemon has become more visible by offering controversial opinions on CNN and on radio’s syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show.”

Manny Garcia Leaves Miami for Scripps After 23 Years

Manny Garcia, executive editor and general manager of el Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language daily in Miami, and before that a police and courts reporter, city editor and senior editor at the Miami Herald, has been named editor of the Naples (Fla.) Daily News, the newspapers announced Wednesday and Thursday.

Garcia’s appointment to the Naples newspaper was one of two involving Hispanic editors announced by the E.W. Scripps Co. Thursday. Timothy E. Archuleta, a veteran Texas journalist and editor of Scripps’ San Angelo Standard-Times since 2003, has been named editor of the Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times, effective Oct. 21.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision for me to make because being editor of El Nuevo Herald has been the most satisfying experience in my 23 year career at the Miami Herald Media Company,” Garcia said in an El Nuevo Herald story. His last day will be Oct. 18.

Two years ago, Garcia was elected the first Hispanic president of Investigative Reporters and Editors. He had been named editor of El Nuevo Herald in 2009.

The Naples story said, “In 2011, El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald were joint Pulitzer finalists for their coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake — a first for any Spanish-language news operation. His team recently collaborated with the Toronto Star on an international series that exposed sex tourism from Canada to Cuba, which has led to reforms in both countries.

” ‘Manny Garcia is one of the nation’s pre-eminent investigative journalists and newsroom leaders,’ said Mizell Stewart III, vice president/content of the newspaper division of the E.W. Scripps Company, parent of the Naples Daily News. ‘His passion for great storytelling, his ability to build outstanding newsroom teams and his focus on serving news consumers on multiple platforms is a great addition to Scripps.’ . . . “

Scripps said in a separate announcement, “In 10 years at the Standard-Times, Archuleta, 50, led digital and print reporting efforts that won state and national accolades. In the past year, he established and supervised a new state capitol reporting position in Austin, serving all four Scripps Texas newspapers.”

Stewart said, “Tim’s love for journalism, passion for community and understanding of multi-platform storytelling is an ideal fit for Corpus Christi and the Caller-Times.”

McClatchy Retirees Lose Health Care Benefit

30-Paper Chain Directs Ex-Workers to New Exchanges

McClatchy Co. (MNI), owner of 30 daily U.S. newspapers, plans to end its health-care plan for retirees at the end of next year, joining a wave of companies reassessing their coverage as the new Affordable Care Act goes into effect,” Edmund Lee reported Tuesday for Bloomberg News.

“As the company’s coverage ends, retirees will have to choose between purchasing insurance from exchanges, which are being set up as part of President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation, or pay a $95 tax penalty for failing to buy a health plan. . . .”

The action will affect only 51 employees, according to Dale Kasler, writing Tuesday in McClatchy’s Sacramento Bee, but the Bloomberg  headline, “McClatchy to Shut Down Retirees’ Health-Care Plan by End of 2014,” fed into the negative perception of the Affordable Care Act trumpeted by critics. Moreover, McClatchy isn’t the only business that has decided that creation of health care exchanges, which begin Oct. 1, means that company-offered retiree health plans are unnecessary.

“Sacramento-based McClatchy said the decision will affect a total of 51 employees,” Kasler wrote. “Almost all of those retirees worked for the former Knight Ridder Inc. newspapers and had subsidized coverage ‘grandfathered’ in after McClatchy acquired Knight Ridder in 2006, said McClatchy spokesman Peter Tira.

“The vast majority of McClatchy’s retirees don’t get subsidized health care, the company said. . . .”

The story continued, ” ‘We think the health care exchange is really a better program,’ said Nancy Williams, McClatchy’s employee benefits director. ‘You’re probably going to get better coverage and a better rate.’

“Other companies that have announced recently they are ending retiree health plans and steering employees to the exchanges are Time Warner Inc. and General Electric Co.”

One of the health-care law’s critics is Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who delivered a 21-hour speech decrying the health-care law on the Senate floor.

Cruz wasn’t done when the speech ended, Michael A. Memoli reported Wednesday for the Tribune Washington Bureau. “Within the hour, he was on Rush Limbaugh’s afternoon radio talk show.

“And when Limbaugh asked if he would stay for another segment, Cruz replied: ‘I’m here as long as you like.’ “

Despite the attention-getting ploy, the progressive website reported that major newspapers across the country downplayed Cruz’s speech, according to a survey of front pages, “and just half of newspapers in Texas led with the junior senator’s effort. . . . ,” Igor Volsky wrote.

Meanwhile, responding to surveys showing confusion about the new law among the general population, many news outlets made efforts to explain the law’s provisions.

“In less than a week, health insurance market exchanges will open across the nation and more than 40 million Americans, including 7 million uninsured Blacks, who were previously shut out of the health care system, will finally get access to the care they need,” Freddie Allen wrote for the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, which serves the black press.

Some journalists, such as Michel Martin of NPR and Ray Suarez of the  “PBS NewsHour,” referred to the law by its proper name, the Affordable Care Act, rather than by the “Obamacare” label popularized by the law’s detractors, then adopted by Obama himself and by many other journalists.

The administration, in its own media offensive, released a state-by-state breakdown of the law’s effects, “scoring front page stories in newspapers in Miami, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, and other cities,” David Jackson reported Wednesday in USA Today.

“The report also made the front pages in Dallas and Houston, the biggest cities in Texas. That’s the home state of Republican senator Ted Cruz, who waged a form of filibuster these past two days against ‘Obamacare.’ . . .”

As part of the outreach to journalists, the White House is hosting a membership meeting of the Washington chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists on Oct. 24. “Senior Obama Administration officials will brief us on the President’s priorities for the Latino Community including the Affordable Healthcare Act and Immigration Reform,” the chapter announced.

Militia in Mall Attack Has Terrorized, Killed Journalists

The bloody attack against the Westgate mall in Kenya on 21 September 2013 has brought to the international community’s attention the cowardly and [terrorizing] methods used by the Somali militia Al-Shabaab, a long-standing ‘[Enemy] of freedom of information,’ ” Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday.

“Since relinquishing control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in August 2011 and suffering other military setbacks, Al-Shabaab, an enemy of information but apparently a Twitter aficionado, has fallen back on terrorist methods, including bombings and summary executions in which journalists and other news and information providers are too often the victims.

“Reporters Without Borders has counted more than 45 journalists murdered in Somalia since 2007, with most of these killings attributed to Al-Shabaab. So far, 2012 has been the worst year, with a total of 18 journalists slain. It left Somalia as runner-up to Syria for the title of the world’s deadliest country for news providers. Somalia is ranked 170th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

The press-freedom group also said, “At this time, Kenya is host to thousands of Somali refugees, including dozens of journalists in exile who have fled the dictatorial regime imposed up until 2011 by Al-Shabaab, and the dangerous situation that the militia continues to maintain in many parts of Somalia.”

Meanwhile, Daily Nation, one of the biggest newspapers in Kenya, on Monday apologized to the Chinese victim of an attack on the Nairobi mall. The newspaper published a face shot photo of the Chinese victim on the front page on Sunday, “which is be seen to be disrespectful to the victim and causes discomfort to the readers,” the Beijing-based Forum on China-Africa Cooperation reported.

However, the Media Council of Kenya applauded the local media overall for covering the Westgate incident in a sensitive manner, Nairobi-based Capital FM reported Tuesday. “The council’s Chief Executive Officer Harun Mwangi said the media has come of age in reporting such matters, saying it had successfully rallied the nation to unity.

” ‘Because of your responsible reporting, Kenyans have remained united in mourning and condemning the attack,’ Mwangi said. ‘This is not a common occurrence and there are challenges when it comes to reporting.’ ” Mwangi said the council intends to organize counseling sessions for journalists who covered the incident.