Audie Cornish, co-host of "All Things Considered,” is leaving NPR, becoming one of the many prominent hosts of color to leave in recent months. She will be heading to CNN’s news streaming service, CNN+. In a thread on Twitter, she acknowledged the recent exit of other minority creators and journalists like Noel King, host of Morning Edition, and Lulu Garcia-Navarro, host of Weekend Edition Sunday, and said it should be a cause of concern.
Cornish said while she can not speak of the experiences of all Black and brown employees, they often face commonalities such as pay disparities and not feeling valued.
“I can’t speak for all POC – but I want to be clear. I do not have to,” Cornish wrote. “Our experiences at the company vary and there are some common threads.”
Shortly after Cornish tweeted her departure, Ari Shapiro, Cornish’s co-host on “All Things Considered,” tweeted his response.
“If NPR doesn’t see this as a crisis, I don’t know what it’ll take.”
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The resignations come as NPR has recently emphasized the need to diversify the company, content and its audience. In January 2020, NPR's CEO, John Lansing, announced his plan to make the company more diverse, equitable and inclusive. To reach their goal, the company launched a series of “Unconscious Bias” workshops and training required for those in higher management positions. They recruited journalists from diverse organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and implemented programs to help expand the diversity of their sources.
According to NPR, in 2021, 78% percent of the company’s new hires were people of color.
IU Media School professor Andrew Weaver, whose research focuses on race and media, discussed the implications of the increasing number of minorities leaving the public radio network.
“Reporters and editors are subject to the same kinds of stereotypes that anyone else is and the same kinds of prejudice that can have an impact in how stories are chosen and how news gets covered,'' Weaver said. “If you have mostly or all-white reporters and editors, for example, then there's no one there to sort of provide a check on those non-conscious prejudices that they're likely to have.”
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Weaver said the news media tends to over-represent Black and Latino males as criminals and violent compared to actual statistics.
“Having a lack of diversity in the newsroom tends to exacerbate the problem and make it worse,” Weaver said.
NPR’s internal statistics show its employees are 62 % white, 15% Black, 12% Asian-American and 7% Latino or Hispanic.
In a released statement, NPR's Chief Communications Officer, Isabel Lara, addressed the recent departure of Audie Cornish.
"We're focused not only on those who choose to leave NPR, but also who is deciding to come," Lara said. "Ensuring that public media reflects the people of the United States is not a responsibility or initiative but a necessity."