All Articles Tagged "mark whitaker"
Last week, CNN announced that distinguished journalist Mark Whitaker will be assuming the newly created role of executive vice president and managing editor on Feb. 14th. Coming from his most recent position of senior vice president and Washington bureau chief at NBC News, Whitaker has a resume that boasts a myriad of firsts–besides being the highest-ranking person of color at NBC, Whitaker was also the first African-American to become NBC News Washington bureau chief and the first African-American to edit Newsweek magazine. So what exactly will Whitaker bring to the network as far as diversity in the newsroom and on the air?
Though it is too early to tell, his track record and stated commitment to diversity leaves those such as Richard Prince, author of the column Journal-isms to assume that “he will continue in that direction at his new network.” “CNN has been honored for its diversity efforts by the National Association of Black Journalists, so they should be on the same page,” he said.
Others, such as Adam Hanft, CEO of marketing firm Hanft Projects, believes that the network is in some ways playing it safe with Whitaker’s hiring. “They’ve gone with a serious journalist who doesn’t screech from one side of the spectrum or the other,” he said.
However, “Whitaker’s lack of fire could be a surprise asset,” continued Hanft. “It’s a bet that the viewing public will eschew the entertainment histrionics of Fox and MSNBC for sober discourse. It hasn’t been the case up til now as CNN has suffered by being too polite and boring. But the emotional pendulum might be swinging to the middle.”
Whitaker’s commitment to diversity has been called into question before, in one instance by his former Newsweek colleague, Sylvester Monroe, who wrote a piece for theRoot.com in which he stated that he watched his “old friend twist and turn trying to keep white corporate bosses and readers happy–often at the expense of black reporters and readers who had high hopes for his editorship.” Since Whitaker moved on to NBC, Newsweek “has yet to see more and better black content–or more black staff, for that matter,” added Monroe.
In his defense, Whitaker replied to Journal-isms with a list of cover stories he commissioned at Newsweek, including “‘The Good News About Black America’ (June 7, 1999), ‘Black Women in America’ (March 3, 2003) and ‘Latino Power’ (May 30, 2005).”
In addition, both at Newsweek and NBC, Whitaker has appointed a number of minority reporters as on-air analysts and high ranking positions, such as Marcus Mabry as Newsweek’s first black Chief of Correspondents, and Antoine Sanfuentes–who is of Hispanic origin–as Whitaker’s Deputy Bureau Chief at NBC.
Whitaker told Michel Martin on National Public Radio’s “Tell Me More” in 2008 that he “certainly hopes to be an advocate for smart stories and smart debate about issues involving race, and also to be a champion for hiring and promoting people from diverse backgrounds who really excel.”
“I think my record of success speaks for itself,” he said to Journal-isms.
(The Root) — CNN announced today that Mark Whitaker will hold the newly created role of executive vice president and managing editor. What does it mean that a black man will be leading the direction of the network’s reporting? Unclear. When Whitaker was promoted to executive editor of Newsweek in 1998, he told the New York Times, “my goal is to be the very best editor of Newsweek that I can be, not just the best black editor.” But in a later interview with the Washington Post, he admitted that he was “very interested in the racial question here in America, not just between blacks and whites but Hispanics and Asians and the changing demographics of the country,” and added, “perhaps I have a little more sensitivity to that issue than other people might have.”