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Opinion: CNN Wrong To Muzzle NABJ And Black Journalism As A Whole


After withdrawing their support from the National Association of Black Journalists following a NABJ statement questioning their lack of diversity and treatment of African-American staffers, CNN is wrong in trying to muzzle the voices of black journalism.

The Atlanta-based cable news network would come under fire from NABJ after former 11 African-American staffers voiced concerns to Bob Butler, the president of NABJ over a lack of opportunity, per Buzzfeed.com

Currently in the phase of laying off 170 workers and in the middle of a restructuring plan, CNN’s actions speak volumes to black journalista everywhere.

The Washington D.C.-based NABJ, founded in 1975, has long been one of the leading voices from African-Americans in journalism and the media as a whole.

Per NABJ’s statement criticizing CNN, high-profile news anchors such as Soledad O’Brien, TJ Holmes and Suzanne Malveaux have left CNN, and in a day and age where African-Americans lack someone who can speak for them on such a highly recognizable platform such as CNN, this is very troubling.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman, Marcia Fudge would echo the sentiments of CNN’s decision to pull funding for NABJ’s job fair as “troubling” and “concerning” in a recent Daily Caller column.

Fudge would also state that CNN’s move served as “an affront” to the African-American journalist community, “In a nation growing increasingly more diverse, it is imperative that the organizations tasked with keeping us informed reflect the same diversity,” Fudge said. “Ethnic sensitivity both on-camera and behind it demonstrates a corporate understanding of the benefits of diversity, and a genuine respect for the audiences’ needs.”

“Any staffing changes that disproportionately cut the number of African Americans at CNN — intentionally or otherwise — are an affront to the African American journalism community and to the African American community as a whole. It is my sincere hope that these reports are not true, and that Time Warner works to ensure that the diversity of its viewers across the country, and the world, is reflected and protected in all areas of its organization.”

Often considered one of the most diverse and liberal-leaning bastions of new media, CNN—along with MSNBC have often been very sensitive and friendly towards African-Americans and black journalists, their recent actions, to which they have stated that they have made no final conclusions, but based on CNN’s actions following NABJ’s criticism, it looks more like organizational retaliation and business as usual, instead of showing a true sense of diversity and ethics.

It also adds to the on-going disenfranchisement of African-Americans in the media.

According to a Pew Research poll, the number of black journalists working at U.S. daily newspapers has dropped 40% since 1997, according to the latest data from the American Society of News Editors. That represents a loss of almost 1,200 journalists — from 2,946 in 1997 to 1,754 in 2013.

Per The Root, black journalists are gradually disappearing from newsrooms across the country as the American Society of Newspaper Editors reported in 2007, that there were 5,600 nonwhites in the nation’s newsrooms in 2007. The next year, the number had dropped to 5,300.

Based on the above, many factors could be attributed to the reason for the decline in black professionals in today’s news media, such as the advent of popular blogs such as The Huffington Post, and media outlets hiring more visually-appealing females at predominantly male-oriented institutions such as ESPN and Fox Sports.

Such an example of this would the abrupt firing of longtime FOX Sports sideline reporter, Pam Oliver, who would be replaced by Erin Andrews in an effort to appeal to the 18-35 MAXIM demographic.

How this relates to the decline of black journalists and CNN’s actions, look no further than the cable news network itself and the stable of eye-appealing anchors in Bristol.

If CNN is serious in being considered a worthy challenger to MSNBC and not be confused with the ultra-right wing and pro-Republican/Tea Party-pandering cable juggernaut, Fox News, then CNN needs to address and correct it’s own internal policies immediately.

What do you think?

#NABJ #CNN #MSNBC #FoxNews #BlackJournalism

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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