Mark Whitaker Jumps From NBC to CNN

As executive vice president and managing editor, Whitaker will be the highest-ranking person of color at CNN.


Mark Whitaker has jumped ship from NBC News, where as vice president he was the highest-ranking person of color, to CNN, where he will hold that same distinction. Whitaker was named to the newly created position of executive vice president and managing editor, reporting directly to Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, CNN announced on Friday.

Whitaker’s switch between two news organizations that have won plaudits for their diversity efforts led to another milestone: Whitaker’s deputy at NBC News, Antoine Sanfuentes, was named Washington bureau chief.

“I’m very proud of that,” Whitaker told Journal-isms.

Sanfuentes is of Latino background.

“In his new position, Sanfuentes will report to NBC News President Steve Capus, and his daily responsibilities will include the oversight of all bureau management, administration and editorial affairs, working closely with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd and NBC News executives including Alexandra Wallace and David Verdi,” an announcement said.

“In addition, Sanfuentes will have executive oversight of ‘Meet the Press.’

Unlike Whitaker, Sanfuentes will not be an NBC News vice president.

Just three years ago, NBC News had two African Americans at that level, Whitaker and Lyne Pitts. Pitts resigned in January 2009 to help her husband, CBS correspondent Byron Pitts, write a memoir, and to move “to the next phase” of her career.

Walton said in CNN’s news release, “Our aim is to position a strong managing editor, working closely with the head of each CNN network and Web site, to generate reporting and analysis that consistently stands out, sparks conversation and captures the true meaning and relevance of the events in the news. Mark is a distinguished journalist and news executive who is experienced in leading large enterprises, and I am pleased that he will help direct our long-term editorial approach and strategy.”