(The Loop 21) — Since the nation’s first African-American President walked into the Oval Office in 2008, CNN has taken a vested interest in producing shows telling stories of “the Black experience.” There’s the one about the Civil Rights Era photographer who reportedly doubled as a spy for the Feds. The recent recap of the Rodney King beat-down and resulting LA Riots. Don’t forget the well-known “Black In America” multi-part series on Blacks and education, culture, economics, and much more. While these shows provide plenty of answers and explanations, the question on my mind is, why is CNN so interested in Black folks now?
Of all the large news organizations that are struggling for footing in the digital media reality, CNN has invested in covering people of color in the U.S. at a time where the Black presence on cable and network news outlets is limited to the occasional on-air talent. “It’s not just about the color, we want to focus on issues that simply have been under-covered,” says CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien, who leads a unit called “In America,” that produces these programs, the next being O’Brien’s special report on Muslims in America. “I think that if our unit can be successful, and I mean critical success, rating success and with viewers. I think that if you do well, audiences will look and say, ‘Gee, I didn’t really think about it before.’”