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CBS News has named Alvin Patrick the head of its newly formed race and culture unit, the network says. Patrick starts immediately and will report to Kimberly Godwin, CBS News’ executive vp of news.
CBS says the new unit will “help shape the coverage for all of CBS News,” working with producers and staff across all of its shows and platforms to “ensure the division’s reporting reflects diverse perspectives.” The unit will also lead initiatives on race and culture reporting, and produce inclusive storytelling.
“We must always be aware of how race and culture impacts our journalism – and, in terms of the future of CBS News, this unit will be as important as Standards and Practices,” says CBS News president and senior executive producer Susan Zirinsky. “I am pleased to have Alvin in this essential role as we continue to make the powerful journalism of CBS News more inclusive.”
A veteran of ABC News and ESPN, Patrick joined CBS News in 2012, working as a producer for CBS News special correspondent and CBS Sports host James Brown. Patrick will continue to produce segments for Brown.
The new race and culture unit is one of a number of moves being made at CBS News to address issues of diversity and inclusion. In a memo to CBS News staff, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Zirinsky writes that “Kim Godwin and [CBS News senior vp] Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews have had so many conversations — as have I — about the realities for people of color at CBS News. Having good intentions, having our eyes wide open to the problem, talking about wanting a more socially and racially balanced organization is NOT enough. There has to be action.
“As a news division, we have been leaning in to this issue for a while, and we have made some strides, but we have to move further to do a better job leveling the playing field and being inclusive of all employees,” she added in the note. “We know that some people of color within our organization have felt ignored and marginalized. Moving forward, we cannot be defensive. We have to listen. We have to acknowledge this pain. We have to do something about it.”
In addition to the race and culture unit, CBS News is creating a steering committee to deliver specific recommendations and is instituting more workshops, training and conversations about race. The network is also reworking its hiring and recruiting practices, with Zirinsky writing that it will be a “major focus.”
The network is hoping to build on its on-air coverage, which included Gayle King’s primetime Justice for All special, which aired on CBS, BET and CBSN, as well as special reports on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Black and Latinx communities.
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