Johnita P. Due is the Executive Vice President of Integrity and Inclusion for CNN Worldwide. Appointed to the newly created role in 2022, Due is based in Atlanta and joined CNN as media lawyer in 2003. She has been Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for CNN and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) Sports (formerly Turner Sports) since 2019. She served as chief diversity advisor for CNN from 2005 to 2013.
As CNN’s EVP of Integrity and Inclusion, both the DEI and Standards & Practices teams report into her. Due ensures that CNN’s brand integrity for television, digital and sales is upheld. She advises on everything from conflicts of interest and editorial fairness to reporting about sensitive or controversial topics and language and images used, and advances the inclusion of underrepresented communities and diverse voices and perspectives in CNN’s content.
Under Due’s leadership, diversity, equity, and inclusion remain business-critical priorities. Highly regarded by employees and management alike for her inspirational leadership and editorial insights, Due helps drive the company’s efforts to improve the representation and development of employees on air and behind-the-scenes, as well as the production of impactful content that resonates with all audiences. She is also committed to building a culture of inclusion and belonging, creating meaningful opportunities for employees to share their voices, identities, and experiences. An essential part of Due’s strategy is an organizational investment in the development of employees through mentoring, development and inclusion initiatives.
Due also focuses on establishing marketplace connections with audiences. She championed CNN’s groundbreaking Juneteenth concert to celebrate and educate about the significance of the holiday. The inaugural “Juneteenth: A Celebration for Freedom”, in partnership with Live Nation Urban and Jesse Collins Entertainment, was #1 with Black viewers in all of cable and broadcast television during its time slot.
Due spearheaded the creation of CNN’s award-winning “We Are CNN” brand campaign, the first of its kind multi-platform campaign highlighting CNN’s progress around DEI to celebrate the progress made in improving representation across all screens and behind-the-scenes as well as its commitment to the work that continues. In 2022, this extraordinary campaign earned an Anthem (Silver) award for Best Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Campaign and “Best PR and Marketing Campaigns” Award for TV from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).
Previously, as CNN’s chief diversity advisor from 2005-2013, Due chaired CNN’s award-winning Diversity Council to advance the company’s diversity mission of growing its business by reflecting diverse audiences and perspectives in its programming and supporting an inclusive culture for its employees. Due’s leadership was crucial to establishing CNN’s standing with multicultural audiences leading to some major ratings wins, earning revenue in the tens of millions of dollars for multicultural content franchises, increasing CNN’s racial, ethnic and gender diversity, launching employee development and student pipeline programs, and expanding the diversity of perspectives and storytelling on air. Due was key to the development of global programming initiatives Black in America and Latino in America and the creation of the In America production unit. She also helped create the community forum “CNN Dialogues” in partnership with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and Emory University’s James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study for Race and Difference, and a company-wide initiative geared toward producing more content for the growing and diverse U.S. Hispanic market.
CNN’s DEI efforts have been recognized with significant industry honors that reflect Due’s leadership. In 2007, CNN received the “Best Practices Award” from NABJ for exemplary work in covering issues of great significance to the Black community or the African Diaspora and/or for efforts in increasing diversity among newsroom staff and management. CNN was featured in 2009 for its diversity best practices in a white paper by the Newspaper Association of America for redefining “diversity initiatives in the 21st century” and for using diversity “to help shape strategy, attract new customers, and increase revenue.” In 2010, CNN was honored by the Equality Forum with an International Business Leadership Award for its commitment to a diverse society and workforce and “for reporting with distinction issues about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities” and by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for its “unwavering commitment to diversity and incisive coverage of issues impacting minorities and underserved communities.”
Due herself has been individually honored and recognized for her achievements. She was named a Top 100 Diversity Officer and a Top Diversity Officer in Sports by the National Diversity Council in 2021 and has been recognized on Cablefax’s Most Powerful Women List as well as its Diversity List from 2019-2022. In 2020, Due was also honored as a “Woman to Watch” by Multichannel News and was named to MIPAD’s (Most Influential People of African Descent) Global Top 100 List, and later received the MIPAD Most Influential 100 Hall of Fame award in 2022.
In her prior role as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for CNN, Due was a valued partner for editorial teams across television and digital platforms. Due advised on defamation, copyright, privacy and other newsgathering and publication-related legal issues and provided strategic guidance about content production and distribution on television and evolving digital platforms. Her primary work was with the New York bureau, morning programming, the health, sports, business and entertainment beats, as well the domestic and global digital teams. She shepherded the development of iReport, which was the first user-generated content website of a major news organization, was an advocate and advisor on the development of “Impact Your World,” CNN’s first pro-social, global, cross-platform programming initiative to empower audiences to respond philanthropically to news events, and advised on the development of CNNgo, a next-generation digital product which gave users unprecedented control over their TV news consumption. Additionally, Due managed CNN’s multinational rights and clearances department. She also oversaw access matters for CNN, with successful lawsuits against the State of Florida for a copy of its suspected felons list prior to the 2004 election which impacted the state’s election policy, against the federal government to gain access to Hurricane Katrina victim recovery efforts which contributed to CNN’s Peabody award-winning coverage, and against local agencies relating to the 2013 death of Kendrick Johnson, which led to the reopening of the investigation into the Georgia teen’s death. Recognized for her media law expertise, she has taught as an adjunct professor of media law at Cornell Law School and as an adjunct professor of law and ethics at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.
Prior to joining CNN, Due was associate general counsel for The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., where she practiced litigation, intellectual property, and media law. While at McGraw-Hill, Due received a Black Achievers in Industry award from the Harlem branch of the YMCA of Greater New York.
Due serves on the boards of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the WICT Network (formerly Women in Cable Telecommunications) and is the immediate past chair of the board of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company. She is a member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Forum on Communications Law and a member of the Buckhead Atlanta chapter of Jack and Jill. Previously, she was a long-term board member of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a board member of Vox Teen Communications in Atlanta. Due was a 2008 McCormick Tribune Fellow and an alumna of the Leadership Atlanta class of 2008.
Due earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Sussex in England by studying race relations and organizational culture under a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship. She earned her law degree from Cornell Law School, specializing in international legal affairs. She is a 2017 graduate of the NAMIC Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.