In February of this year, Jones made news of her own when she became the first Black executive to lead a major television news network. Jones quickly launched new programming, including “The Mehdi Hasan Show.” By the end of that same month, Nielsen ranked MSNBC as the top cable network, no doubt thanks to 24/7 breaking news coverage of former President Trump’s second impeachment trial, President Biden’s first month in office and the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic. For MSNBC’s 25th anniversary in July, Jones announced new programming and the rebranding of Peacock’s exclusive news channel as “The Choice from MSNBC.” Even in her new role, Jones maintains an open-door policy. “To bring out the best in your team, you have to be open with your staff and available in any and all formats—whether it’s through text, email, video, or ‘Office Hours,’ a weekly block of time that I’ve reserved for folks to drop by and share their ideas, concerns, or to say hello.”
Do you think there has been significant progress on DEI in the industry in the past year?
I do think there’s been progress. We’re seeing more women and people of color lead newsrooms, and I’m humbled to be a part of that group. At MSNBC, diversity, equity and inclusion is a top priority for me both on air and off air. I’m proud of our Chairman Cesar Conde, who launched the 50% Challenge Initiative that pushes for our newsrooms to be 50% women and 50% people of color, and Yvette Miley who is leading the charge. It’s become a model for other organizations in the industry, and I hope more companies follow suit.
Which celebrity do you think is setting a strong example for the next generation?
US national youth poet laureat, Amanda Gorman. Even as the youngest inaugural poet, I think she absolutely blew away the nation with her passion and poise. Her story is one of inspiration and hope, and a lot of people can learn from her. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
My best advice for fostering open, honest communication…
Transparency and having an open door policy. To bring out the best in your team, you have to be open with your staff and available in any and all formats—whether it’s through text, email, video, or “Office Hours,” a weekly block of time that I’ve reserved for folks to drop by and share their ideas, concerns, or to say hello.