CNN’s New Journalism Hires Are All White

Jeff Zucker, the network's new president, met with black journalists to talk diversity.

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CNN President Jeff Zucker met Monday in Atlanta with leaders of the National Association of Black Journalists in the wake of Zucker’s failure to include journalists of color among his first few appointments and the elimination of his “Starting Point” morning show hosted by Soledad O’Brien.

NABJ President Gregory H. Lee Jr. said he wanted to talk with the NABJ board of directors before commenting.

[On Tuesday, Lee issued a statement saying NABJ had a standing quarterly meeting with CNN that predates the current leadership team. “. . .This particular meeting was an opportunity for NABJ to speak with Mr. Zucker and to learn more about his vision for the network. We had a productive discussion on how CNN can partner with NABJ to achieve our common objective of promoting a diverse newsroom, in particular within the management ranks, where our industry overall is lacking in diversity. . . . “]

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists also took note of Zucker’s first moves. NAHJ President Hugo Balta said in a message posted on the NAHJ website, “. . . With Soledad’s departure, there is now only one Latina anchor at CNN, Zoraida Sambolin, who co-hosts ‘Early Start’ from 5-7 a.m. There are no other Latino anchors on CNN’s daytime programming or in its prime-time schedules. NAHJ urges CNN to take judicious positive steps in diversifying its lineup and filling this void with the hiring of Latino talent for its English-language network. . . .”

Balta wrote that “. . . Soledad has always been a champion of diversity, behind the scenes and in front of the camera,” and that “. . . her generosity makes it possible for NAHJ to award up to $5,000 annually to student members pursuing careers in TV broadcast journalism.”

O’Brien, daughter of a white Australian father and a black Cuban mother, announced jointly with CNN last week that she would form a production company and continue to supply documentaries to CNN on a nonexclusive basis. She also plans to make them for other television channels and for the Web.

Gail Shister reported Monday for TVNewser that O’Brien said she had already received four pitches for documentaries and other long-form programming.

” ‘I’ll consider all pitches,’ says O’Brien, 46, who will continue as anchor of ‘Starting Point’ until May or June. ‘Excited’ is an overused word, but I’m excited to take this step,’ ” Shister wrote.

“O’Brien’s Starfish Media Group, to launch in June, will produce three documentaries for CNN in 2014, including another of her ‘Black in America’ series. She is free to create content for other networks, platforms and partners.