Joe Biden isn’t the only one building a team that “looks like America.”
MSNBC is apparently betting on Black to make it more competitive against rival cable news networks. But the decision to promote Rashida Jones to be its top executive is far from a gamble.
The Wall Street Journal reported first that Jones, a Black woman and MSNBC veteran, is expected to be named president of the network. The move would make Jones the first Black person to ever run a major cable news network.
The report comes after MSNBC awarded coveted on-air time slots to other talented Black journalists in an effort to boost its relatively stagnant ratings among other cable news networks. Jones did not immediately release a statement as MSNBC has not officially announced its news.
Jones graduated from Hampton University in 2002 with a degree in Mass Media Arts and Broadcast. She is currently the senior vice president for MSNBC News. The Wall Street Journal credited her with helping to “oversee coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 presidential election.” Before serving as senior vice president for MSNBC News, she worked her way up at the network from an executive producer and managing editor.
The HBCU alumna is expected to begin her new role on Feb. 1, significant timing as the date marks the first day of Black History Month.
By that point, two of MSNBC’s newest hires will have already been in full swing with their shows that Jones will ultimately be presiding over.
Just last week, MSNBC announced that Tiffany D. Cross and Jonathan Capehart would be anchoring their own weekend shows, bolstering the network’s Black talent with the additions.
Cross addressed her plans for her new show while she was anchoring “AM Joy” this past weekend.
“I want this show to be accessible for the corporate climber with the corner office on Wall Street, as well as the dude whose check cashing place is the bank account on the corner,” she said on the air.
Cross has been hosting “AM Joy” ever since this past summer when Joy Reid left the show after getting promoted and given her own primetime nightly show, “The ReidOut.”
While Cross will anchor Saturday mornings, Capehart — a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post editorial columnist — will hold down Sunday mornings during the same 10 a.m. time slot with his own show.
Cross and Capehart will join other prominent Black talent at MSNBC, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has his own weekend show on the network called “Politics Nation.”
Dr. Jason Johnson, a journalism professor at Morgan State University, is also a frequent contributor during the morning weekend shows and has anchored several times.
The developments at MSNBC put the network in a better position to compete against rival CNN by presenting a comparably diverse group of news anchors amid a nationwide racial reckoning sparked in part by police violence and the Covid-19 pandemic that has disproportionately affected Black and brown communities across the country.
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