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Minority news shows on MSNBC are quietly being cancelled

Roger Caldwell

Roger Caldwell

Minority news shows on MSNBC are quietly being cancelled

By Roger Caldwell

President Phil Griffin of MSNBC argues that his station is firmly planted in contemporary times, and he values diversity. As news networks tend to make their news host lily white, they would never admit that their decisions are based on race, and their bottom line.

Television is a business, and the industry exists to make money. In the last few months, MSNBC has quietly cancelled four minority news shows, and this has negatively impacted the paychecks of many Black and Hispanic guest. When a minority host’s show is scraped, there are less Black opinions and discussions on television. Since there are less Black opinions on television, the producers and network executives focus on white stories, which are not controversial and does not upset the white applecart.

As news networks become more white, Black news shows are relegated to report on all day politics. The same story or subject matter is discussed over and over again with no diversity, and the same white guests agree with each other. Alex Wagner, Jose Diaz-Balart, Al Sharpton, and Melissa Harris-Perry’s shows have been cancelled on MSNBC or shuffled to just one or two days, instead of five.

MSNBC as a television network is considered a liberal, progressive station, whose focus is on racial and social justice. But things are changing at MSNBC, because cable stations are desperately fighting for male viewers, and most Black males don’t spend their time watching news shows. The MSNBC executives are making decision based on the Nielsen rating, and advertisers are paying top dollar to conservative networks.

In the last few weeks, Melissa Harris-Perry’s show was cancelled on MSNBC, because there was a major disagreement with management in terms of the content and direction of the show. “I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobbing head,” says Melissa Harris-Perry. But, in order for more Blacks to get an opportunity to be on major cable news network, we must at times compromise.

A Media Matters graph about diversity on weekend news shows reported that guest on Fox were 87 percent white, CBS’s Face the Nation were 88 percent white, This Week on ABC were 77 percent white, NBC’s Meet the Press were 78 percent white, and Melissa Harris-Perry’s show was 45 percent white. It was the only show close to a 50-50 split on gender, and it introduced minority community leaders, academics, and small-town politicians, who never get an opportunity to be on a major network.

Diversity in 2016 is a word that is discussed in many circles, but on most networks 85 to 90 percent of the paychecks are received by white people. There are the few news reporters and anchors on local programs that are minorities, but national news shows are primary white. Things are changing on television and there are more token Blacks on certain sitcoms and more Blacks sitcoms, but there is not enough.

There is a need for more Blacks and minorities behind the scenes, in executive position, and more Black stories written by Black writers on television. Our children need to see more people like them on television, in news stories, and discussions about the Black community. Networks like MSNBC make a difference in educating and bringing more diversity to television, therefore we expect to see more Black and minority host as opposed to less.

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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