How Shifting Senior Ranks are Ushering a Rise In Diversity at Major News Outlets

Claudia Eller
·2-min read

Newsrooms have been dominating the news lately. Just last week alone, both ABC News and CBS News named new leaders and Reuters News Service tapped a new editor-in-chief.

Earlier this year, MSNBC installed a new president to succeed veteran Phil Griffin, who had worked at the network since its launch in 1996.

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The recent changes in the senior ranks of these various news outlets reflect a much more diverse field of executives — a welcome change to what has largely been a white male-governed business for decades.

ABC News’ newly hired president, Kim Godwin, previously with CBS News, will become the first Black executive to run a broadcast network news operation when she takes over for James Goldston next month.

Rashida Jones, who had worked at NBCUniversal, became the first Black executive to lead one of the big three cable news networks.

Reuters promoted Italian journalist Alessandra Galloni to editor-in-chief, making her the first woman in the company’s 170-year history to achieve that status.

In a key management change atop CBS News, Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon are succeeding Susan Zirinsky, who’s leaving for a producing deal after a two-year run at the network.

I asked our astute senior TV editor Brian Steinberg for his take on the recent changing of the guard at so many news organizations all at once.

“It’s been a monolithic culture for too long,” Steinberg tells me. “Any journalist of color would tell you they weren’t given due consideration and felt the opportunities just weren’t there. The executive suites have been pretty much white male-dominated,” he says, noting there has been some progress among top anchor slots, including “NBC Nightly News” and “Dateline NBC” with host Lester Holt, “CBS Morning News” with broadcast journalist Gayle King and ABC’s “Good Morning America” with Robin Roberts.

In WarnerMedia’s search to replace CNN president Jeff Zucker, who has announced that he plans to leave at year end, Steinberg says there’s talk that diversity is also being taken into account.

“Representation is now a big deal,” says Steinberg.

He also points out that as live audiences continue to shrink due to the ever-increasing popularity of on-demand streaming, the corporate suites of the big media companies like WarnerMedia, Disney, ViacomCBS and others are taking a much greater interest in who is running their news organizations.

Time will tell whether that turns out to be a positive or a negative.

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