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Is CNN Dropping Support For NABJ Over Diversity Critique?

The National Association of Black Journalists says CNN pulled funding for the group after the NABJ critiqued the network's shrinking diversity.
Posted at 11:28 PM, Oct 19, 2014

If you follow headlines about the news industry, you may have come across this story recently.

There are reports saying CNN is withdrawing support from the National Association of Black Journalists' 2015 convention. The NABJ's annual convention is the largest gathering of minority journalists in the country. 

The group is a powerful voice for minorities in the news industry, so did CNN really cut ties? Turns out that's not an easy question to answer, because both organizations say something different.

Let's go back to the beginning: earlier this month, NABJ released a statement criticizing the network for its lack of diversity. "Several African Americans anchors have left the anchor desk or CNN altogether in the past few years. ... In addition the latest examination of newsroom managers finds only two African American executive producers."

Concern over diversity at CNN is nothing new coming from the NABJ. The group has repeatedly made similar statements over the past few years.

But the latest one comes at a rough time for the company. As the statement points out, CNN is facing a lawsuit filed by former employee Stanley Wilson. Wilson, who is half black and half hispanic, is asking CNN for $5 million for alleged "discrimination and wrongful termination."

The complaint says Wilson received “above-satisfactory performance reviews," but his supervisor "demonstrated that he never liked [Wilson] and he never wanted him at the bureau because of [Wilson's] protected characteristics, including his race, color and ancestry, among other things."

The 51-year-old worked for CNN as a field producer and writer for 17 years and was only promoted once. CNN hasn't commented on the suit.

Now, the NABJ claims CNN has dropped its support for the organization. 

In a press release Friday, the group said the network has officially pulled its support for the 2015 convention. The statement blames NABJ's earlier press release for CNN's decision to cut ties.

But CNN says something different. In an e mail to Politico, a spokesperson for the network said, "Following NABJ’s recent comments about CNN, we informed them we were reconsidering our relationship, but we were clear that we had not made a final decision. It's surprising to us that they would choose to make such a statement."

At any rate, the fact that CNN even considered cutting ties with a diversity group because it critiqued CNN's diversity has many speaking out against the network. (Video viaBET)

And Roland Martin, a former CNN contributor, tweeted"The leaders of @nabj awarded @CNN a Best Practices Award in 2007. We did NOT do it to see them go backwards in 2014. They MUST do better!"

So far, there's no confirmation either way on whether CNN will help fund the conference. The network recently announced its parent company Turner Broadcasting is in the process of cutting more than 1,400 jobs to save money.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.