Washington, D.C. (Jan. 15, 2019) — The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is very disappointed in and disturbed about CBS News’ recent announcement showcasing new hires for coverage of the 2020 Presidential election. The uproar began following a producer’s tweet that included a graphic with 12 staffers, of which none are African American or black.
Immediately the graphic set off a wave of criticism throughout the media industry, as well as the general public, with many expressing concern that blacks will not be covering the 2020 election and issues important to African Americans would not be addressed.
“It is unfortunate that we are still having these discussions about diversity and inclusion,” said NABJ President Sarah Glover. “Ironically last year the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission Report was a major topic and now in 2019 we’re still asking media organizations specifically, and society as a whole to do the right thing. CBS’s political team takes previously heralded steps back half a century.”
CBS responded to the criticism saying the team that was announced is “an initial wave of what will be an outstanding and diverse group of journalists assigned to cover the 2020 election for CBS News.”
Additionally the company says recently promoted Lorna Jones, who is African American, is the new Managing Editor for the CBS Washington Bureau and will oversee much of the political and other news coverage. The new hires showcased in the tweet are digital journalists who are field reporters and will be embedded in political campaigns.
NABJ VP of Digital Roland Martin said, “It is unacceptable that no African Americans are even in the initial group of hires. We implore CBS to significantly improve its hiring from a healthy pool of African Americans, not only in political coverage but in areas company-wide. We are closely watching developments in hiring practices of CBS and all media companies, not only in the political arena but company-wide.”
NABJ officers are looking forward to working with CBS and others to ensure that more diverse staffs and diversity in coverage are always part of discussions when making decisions.
“It makes good business sense and aids the bottom line to be fair, balanced and inclusive,” added Glover. “The halls of Congress have become more diverse and more reflective of our American society and it’s time for U.S. newsrooms to do the same. No excuses.”