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CNN boss Jeff Zucker announced Monday that the network would be forming a “new and expanded race team” that will concentrate on additional coverage of racial issues in an increasingly divided country.
In a memo to staff, Zucker said that focusing on racial issues will become a larger part of the newsroom’s coverage.
The network chief praised CNN’s past “powerful” and “emotional” coverage of race issues, claiming it “shed a light on the growing movement against institutional racism.”
“Today, I am pleased to announce that we are making an even more significant, sustained commitment to ensure race coverage is a permanent part of our journalism,” he wrote in the memo, which was first reported by TVNewser.
“Many talented journalists around the organization work on or around race,” Zucker said, specifically acknowledging Sara Sidner, Mallory Simon, John Blake, Abby Phillip, and Brandon Tensley, as well as “dozens of CNN journalists who regularly report out stories on this beat across Digital, Newsgathering, our contributors, and beyond.”
“Race touches every aspect of our lives, and therefore every area of our coverage,” he continued. “That work will continue. It must.
“In that spirit, we are pleased to share the news of a new and expanded race team, which will contribute to all CNN platforms,” Zucker noted further.
“This team will build on what so many do already at CNN and will provide the needed structure to cover this beat with more focus and force,” the network boss noted.
The team will be expected to “break news and cover the stories and conversations around race,” including what he said is “the systemic racism that the majority of Americans now acknowledge exists.”
Zucker said that the team’s coverage will include polling data, research, and information about “how race is intertwined with inequality in business, politics, sports, media, housing, healthcare, and education.”
The memo said that Delano Massey would head up the “new and expanded” team as it focused on the “still-present signals and symbols of racism.”
“This team is not a silo for all race coverage, but it is a center and a beacon to enable us to do all the work there is to do in the most timely, relevant way we can for audiences across all platforms,” Zucker wrote.
“This enhanced team and structure will provide a more effective ‘air traffic control’ and clearinghouse for green lighting, assigning resources and advocating for more strategic placement on all our platforms so these stories have a powerful impact,” added.
In addition to adding the new race team, Zucker said CNN is also “formalizing a structure” to expand the network’s coverage of policing in America.
That coverage, in particular, will focus on “the power that law enforcement has, how they wield it, and the full view of policing as seen from individuals and communities who value, fear or question their authority.”
“As journalists, we all have a responsibility to accurately tell the stories of our world,” Zucker noted. “These new teams are committed to doing just that, building on all the work others have done and will continue to do.”
Critics have blasted the network’s coverage of the George Floyd incident and the aftermath, accusing its hosts and correspondent of coverage that is racially divisive.
Those critics include President Trump.
“If you watch Fake News @CNN or MSDNC, you would think that the killers, terrorists, arsonists, anarchists, thugs, hoodlums, looters, ANTIFA & others, would be the nicest, kindest most wonderful people in the Whole Wide World. No, they are what they are – very bad for our Country!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Left-leaning networks like CNN have been highly critical of police as well, leading some to believe its coverage will be biased.
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