Russert's Successor is Newsweek Veteran - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

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markwhitakerWhen Mark Whitaker was selected earlier this week to head NBC News’s Washington Bureau, a position that formerly belonged to Tim Russert, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press who died of a heart attack last June, the move was the latest in great achievements for the journalist. Whitaker (listed in the August 2000 issue of BE as one of 30 movers, shakers and decision makers poised to dominate in decades to come) worked his way up the ranks at Newsweek magazine from an intern in 1977 to the company’s first Black editor-in-chief in 1998.

“I’m honored to succeed Tim,” says Whitaker. “It is an extremely exciting time in our nation’s history to be in Washington. I think we have the strongest portfolio of news programs and outlets in America.”

In addition to overseeing some 100 employees at NBC News, Whitaker will work with correspondents and producers on editorial content, story ideas, beats and pitches for MSNBC on everything including election political coverage.

Whitaker, left his position as head of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, and started with NBC in May 2007. The broadcast learning curve has not presented much of a problem for him. “It was a big change for me to leave the Washington Post Co. and go into television, but Journalism is journalism,” Whitaker assesses. “The big difference is the speed at which we do things in broadcast.” Unlike Russert, he will not be the moderator of Meet the Press. He hopes to one day have an on air presence, but will initially appear as an analyst covering a variety of Washington issues.

“He is imminently qualified to take on this assignment,” says Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists. “I can’t think of anyone who is a better fit in that particular management position.”

“Mark brings a certain sensitivity to that position where he will include diversity in his agenda as it relates to coverage out of that bureau,” says Ciara. “For Black [viewers], I think you are going to see a more level playing field in terms of assignments and coverage coming out of that office. For Black journalists who aspire to achieve a high level at network television it is a good sign, but clearly we need to multiply our numbers in order for it to have a greater impact on the journalism community for African Americans

According to data published this July by NABJ, at the general manager level, the highest-ranking position at a television news station, only three of the 57 general managers – 5.2% — were non-white. “The way the industry looks now [a Black bureau chief] is long overdue,” says Ciara.

Whitaker’s commitment to increasing minority representations in newsrooms is clear. He is currently a member of the NBC news diversity council. “We’ve spent a lot of time talking about getting more points of view and people of different backgrounds on our broadcasts. I think we’ve made real progress in the last year,” says Whitaker. “We will

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.


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