Diversity and inclusion in media organizations in the United States have gained attention in recent weeks, particularly after events surrounding the murder of George Floyd. The conversation has largely been the absence of Blacks and other minorities in various leadership positions.
Scores of firms in sectors such as finance, arts and entertainment and the hospitality industry have made a number of appointments and restructuring in order to improve diversity at leadership levels.
NBCUniversal News Group has taken a giant step in this direction to improve diversity in its outfit by appointing Rashida Jones to run its cable news channel MSNBC. She will replace Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC for the past twelve years, who will step down in January 2021, according to CNN.
This was announced in a memo by NBCUniversal News Group chair Cesar Conde on Monday. “Rashida knows and understands MSNBC, in part because it’s where she started when she first joined NBCU seven years ago,” Conde wrote in a memo to NBC News employees.
“She knows that it is the people who work here that make it great, and she understands its culture. She also appreciates the impact and potential of the brand.”
Her appointment makes her the first Black female executive to run a major general news cable network in the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal. Until the transition, Jones, 39, was a senior vice president at NBC News and MSNBC.
She currently oversees daytime news coverage for the network and breaking news and specials for NBC’s broadcast news division, according to the New York Times. She joined MSNBC seven years ago and worked at The Weather Channel and a local station before rising to become a senior vice president.
According to Conde, in the last year alone, Jones has “masterfully guided our coverage of the global pandemic, the social justice protests and unrest, Decision 2020, and the two most-viewed Democratic presidential debates in television history.”
Rashida’s appointment, according to NBC, comes on the heels of sweeping changes within NBCUniversal. The restructuring saw Conde take over as chairman of NBCUniversal News Group, which includes NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC, after Andrew Lack stepped down as president of NBC News Group.
MSNBC, famed for political talk shows like “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “The Beat with Ari Melber,” ranked third in cable news in November behind CNN and Fox News amid the U.S. elections which saw a rise in cable news viewership.