CNN Won't Meet With NABJ if it Includes Roland Martin

CNN said it won't be meeting with the National Association of Black Journalists if that meeting includes former CNN contributor Roland Martin.

That came in a statement following NABJ's decision to put CNN on a "special media monitoring" list for declining that meeting, which was to have been about boosting diversity at CNN, with which NABJ has quite a few issues.

"For months, we have been working with NABJ to schedule a meeting because the relationship between CNN and NABJ is very important to us, said a CNN spokesperson. "As we have told them many times, we look forward to a thoughtful discussion about how both of our organizations can continue to work together.

"Unfortunately, the significant and reckless damage that Roland Martin did to CNN while partnering with us during a 2016 Democratic Town Hall has made any meeting that includes him untenable. Mr. Martin displayed an unprecedented and egregious lack of journalistic ethics and integrity by leaking questions prior to the town hall. As a result, we have told NABJ that CNN will not participate in any meeting that includes him. We have made it abundantly clear that we would be more than happy to sit down with the rest of their leadership team as soon as possible, and that offer still stands."

"The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is concerned about the lack of black representation within the ranks of CNN’s executive news managers and direct reports to CNN president Jeff Zucker. This concern, coupled with Zucker’s refusal to meet with a four-person NABJ delegation, has prompted NABJ to place CNN on a special media monitoring list," the group said earlier this week.

Related: Ex-Edge Exec: Consumer Tech Reflects Lack of Diversity

NABJ said it will conduct a civil rights audit and a next step could be going directly to CNN parent AT&T, which it said has previously responded positively to outreach efforts.

On Thursday (March 7), the NAACP joined with NABJ in criticizing CNN for lack of diversity.

"NAACP finds it offensive that CNN president Jeff Zucker refuses to address this issue. We are far beyond the point of accepting simple visibility as an instance of true diversity," NAACP said. "For major corporations like CNN and its parent company, WarnerMedia, diversifying the media landscape must become a part of a company’s corporate responsibility rather than always as a response to intolerance and implicit bias."

"Until concrete steps are taken by CNN, the NAACP stands firmly with NABJ and asks that WarnerMedia conduct a diversity and inclusion audit of all its news divisions. We will continue to hold the media industry accountable for their insufficient response and actions toward diversity.”

Diversity is getting a big focus in Washington this week with the FCC's day-long diversity conference Thursday (March 7) and the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council's annual Broadband Justice summit March 6.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.