Job-Hunting Journos Duped by Fake Paper

The accused con artist is said to have paid staffers with forged checks.

Article from duped journalist on JimRomenesko.com (JimRomenesko.com)
Article from duped journalist on JimRomenesko.com (JimRomenesko.com)

How desperate are some journalists to find newspaper work in this era of cutbacks and layoffs?

Nine or 10 journalists are reported to have fallen for a scam in which a 25-year-old accused con artist created a fake online newspaper. They joined his “staff.”

Joshua Brian Randolph was in the Hall County, Ga., Detention Center Friday night on “a lot of charges, over 30 to 35,” a jailer told Journal-isms. Randolph was already known in that part of the world as the man who stole the identity of a teammate on the semi-pro Gainesville Heat basketball team, of which Randolph was the coach, according to John DAquino, writing in Georgia’s South Hall Gazette.

Investigator Danny Sridej of the Oakwood, Ga., Police Department said Randolph, using the name Kevin Cobb, offered employment to legitimate reporters and then used their personal information to obtain credit from vendors, B.J. Williams, editor of AccessNorthGa.com, reported.

Randolph hired nine people for the newspaper, according to Shannon Casas, reporting for the Times of Gainesville. She wrote that investigator Sridej believed the employees worked for Randolph for no more than two or three weeks. “Sridej said some of them had been paid with cash and others had been given paychecks that bounced.”

One journalist smelled something fishy and pulled away before signing on as executive editor. He wrote to Jim Romenesko‘s media blog Friday, telling his tale on condition that his name not be used.

Here’s how the South Hall Gazette began its story about the scam on Monday:

“A former semi-pro basketball coach and ‘online newspaper publisher’ has been arrested and charged with eight counts of transaction card fraud and theft by deception.

“According to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, 25-year-old Joshua Brian Randolph set up an online newspaper start-up called the ‘Gainesville Observer’ as a front to steal personal information from the employees he ‘hired’; 10 in all. This online newspaper had an office located at 720 Main Street in Gainesville.

“Randolph, who used the alias ‘Kevin Cobb’, stole the identity of a relative and opened four accounts under the relative’s name; among them were a $1,300 dollar account with American Express and a $1,800 dollars account with Bank of America.

“Authorities accuse Randolph of paying the employees of the ‘Gainesville Observer’ with these forged checks while also allegedly writing fake employment/income verification letters. . . .”

Randolph pleaded guilty in 2007 to impersonating an officer, the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times reported in 2009. Last October, Randolph, then head coach of the Gainesville Heat of the American Basketball Association, was arrested and charged with theft, forgery and deposit account fraud, according to WGTJ-AM in Gainesville.

There is more. “Earlier this year, Randolph was charged with transaction card fraud and identity theft in connection with stealing personal information from customers at Greene Ford Co. on Browns Bridge Road, according to an incident report filed Feb. 25 by the sheriff’s office,” the Times reported. And “Randolph may face extradition to Kearny County, Kansas where he allegedly presented himself as ‘Jazmine Stephens,’ a contractor for an online hauling company,” the South Hall Gazette said.

The journalist who wrote Romenesko said he answered an ad for an executive editor on JournalismJobs.com.

“I should have known that something [was] up when I asked him for the offer letter with all the things that we agreed on, and he called it an ‘officer’ letter,” the journalist wrote. “Also, letter wasn’t on a [stationery], but on a regular plain Word doc, and it didn’t mention any of the things that we talked about besides the salary (such as insurance, moving costs, etc.). . . . “

He continued, “I’m happy I dodged a bullet, but my heart goes out to the real journalists who were hired by Cobb. I asked a friend yesterday: ‘What type of reporter can be scammed like this? ‘But my friend and I then agreed: The economy and industry are so bad that people are desperate. And believe me I’m ashamed of myself for saying that about those reporters because I had a level of desperation too. . . .”

White Deaths Exceed Births for First Time in a Century

“Deaths exceeded births among non-Hispanic white Americans for the first time in at least a century, according to new census data, a benchmark that heralds profound demographic change,” Sam Roberts reported Thursday for the New York Times.

“The disparity was tiny — only about 12,000 — and was more than made up by a gain of 188,000 as a result of immigration from abroad. But the decrease for the year ending July 1, 2012, coupled with the fact that a majority of births in the United States are now to Hispanic, black and Asian mothers, is further evidence that white Americans will become a minority nationwide within about three decades.

“Over all, the number of non-Hispanic white Americans is expected to begin declining by the end of this decade.

” ‘These new census estimates are an early signal alerting us to the impending decline in the white population that will characterize most of the 21st century,’ said William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution.

“The transition will mean that ‘today’s racial and ethnic minorities will no longer be dependent on older whites for their economic well-being,’ Dr. Frey said. In fact, the situation may be reversed. ‘It makes more vivid than ever the fact that we will be reliant on younger minorities and immigrants for our future demographic and economic growth,’ he said. . . .”

U.S. Census Bureau: Asians Fastest-Growing Race or Ethnic Group in 2012, Census Bureau Reports

U.S. Census Bureau: Facts for Features: Caribbean-American Heritage Month: June 2013

D’Vera Cohn, Pew Research Center: Why there are more deaths than births among whites

Jenée Desmond-Harris, the Root: End of White America: Should We Care?

TheRoot.com: “Browner America” series

No Black Dads Pictured in Time Father’s Day Feature

“Dear Sheryl Sandberg,

“You advise women to lean in and speak up. I’m taking your advice,” Dori J. Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, wrote Friday in an open letter to the author of the best-selling “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I was in the Father’s Day feature on which your Lean In Foundation collaborated with Time magazine. Not one African-American father appears on the Time website. I know it shouldn’t have shocked me.

“Content audits, such as one by The Opportunity Agenda, tell us that even in the age of President Obama, the media continue to pigeonhole black men, consigning them to coverage about crime, sports and entertainment, out of proportion with their actual involvement. Equally important, the media rarely show black men in all of their humanity as doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and yes, fathers.

“Sadly, this feature is a stark example of the gap between coverage and reality, and not just because it ignores black fathers. There were also no Asian-American or Native American fathers in Time. I note that the magazine did a good job of presenting a cross section of white and Latino fathers.

“Unfortunately, the other dads of color— one black and the other Asian-American — are relegated to your foundation’s website. . . .”

Time magazine received the 2012 Thumbs Down Award from the National Association of Black Journalists “for its lack of diversity within its reporting corps.” Among the particulars, NABJ said “the magazine has eliminated blacks from major news coverage, including a special commemorative issue on the 10th anniversary of the [Sept. 11, 2001] terrorist attacks that depicted no African Americans. . . .”

Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson, HuffPost BlackVoices: Black Fathers Not A Complete Anomaly, New Book ‘Dare To Be Extraordinary’ Demonstrates (EXCERPT, PHOTOS)

Danielle Belton, Ebony: Are Women in Their Own Way? (March 13)

Daria Burke, HuffPost BlackVoices: What Lean In Means for Women of Color (April 25)

Gregory Clay, McClatchy-Tribune News Service: Sheryl Sandberg effect — Lean In or Lean Out (May 28)

Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post: Do black women need lessons on ‘leaning in’? (March 25)

Tammerlin Drummond, Oakland Tribune: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg inspires women to take charge (May 26)

Hazel Trice Edney, TriceEdneyWire.com: On Father’s Day: These Super Dads Defy the Statistics

Patrice Gaines, blackamericaweb.com: Faces of Hope: Every Girl Needs a Dance with Her Dad

Frederick H. Lowe, North Star News & Analysis: Federal Government to Link Fathers with Children who live in Public Housing

Dori J. Maynard, Huffington Post: Recalling Dad’s Encounter With Intensive Government Monitoring

Mark Anthony Neal, Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C.: On occasion, TV captures complexities of black men as fathers

Latoya Peterson, Racialicious: On Lean-ing In (March 27)

Tony Pugh, McClatchy Washington Bureau: Black family progress has stalled since controversial 1965 study, report says

Nikki Woods, blackamericaweb.com: A Special Message For the Fathers Who Earned the Title

Protection Order Against Detroit Reporter Fleming Lifted

Detroit News reporter Leonard Fleming, the subject of headlines in January when the ex-wife of state Treasurer Andy Dillon received a personal protection order against him, has been free of the order since March 21, the Wayne County, Mich., Circuit Court confirmed last week.

Carol Dillon asked the court to lift the order, and Judge Richard Halloran granted it then, according to the court clerk’s office.

The personal protection order, granted without a hearing at which both sides could testify, made headlines because of its sensational allegations. Dillon filed papers saying Fleming had threatened to kill her with a baseball bat.

“According to documents in Wayne County Circuit Court, Carol Dillon also said Fleming harassed her numerous times and once texted her a photo of his penis. She said the message was: ‘I would be missing this if I discontinued being his friend,’ ” Jeff Wattrick of Deadline Detroit wrote in January.

Fleming was transferred from his city hall beat and reportedly suspended for 10 days.

Dillon could not be reached for comment. Fleming, who is now a general assignment reporter covering transportation issues, did not want to speak on the record.

However, friends told reporter Steve Neavling in January that “the accusations are outrageous and insulting because Carol Dillon is the one who became irate and demanding when the reporter wouldn’t leave his girlfriend. . . .”

Senate Democrats in Rare Q-and-A With Black Journalists

“The sole Democratic African-American senator cast doubt on the need for a ‘black agenda’ from the president and on its chances of passage in Congress during a Democratic forum with largely African-American reporters Wednesday,” Suzanne Gamboa reported for the Associated Press.

“Massachusetts Sen. William ‘Mo’ Cowan said the issues that black Americans are concerned about are the same as those causing white Americans concern, although to different degrees. . . .”

Attending the on-the-record African American Media Roundtable, sponsored by the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, were Sens. Mark Begich, Alaska; Robert P. Casey Jr., Pennsylvania; Chris Coons, Delaware; Cowan; Mark Pryor, Arkansas; Mary Landrieu, Louisiana; Tom Harkin, Iowa; Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota; Debbie Stabenow, Michigan; Ben Cardin, Maryland; and Mark R. Warner of Virginia.

Eighteen reporters were present: April D. Ryan, American Urban Radio Network; Joe Madison, SiriusXM; Keli Goff, freelancer; Michael H. Cottman ofblackamericaweb.com; Hazel Trice Edney, TriceEdneyWire.com; William Douglas, McClatchy Washington Bureau; Kristal High, Politic365.com; Denise Rolark Barnes, Washington Informer; Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post; Deborah Berry, Gannett News Service; Leroy Jones Jr., “Ask Talk & Listen With Political Jones” and PoliticalJones.com; Joyce Jones, BET; Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post; Gamboa, Lauren Victoria Burke of the Crew of 42; Len Burnett of Uptown magazine, Avis Thomas Lester of the Afro American Newspapers and L. Joy Williams of “This Week in Blackness,” according to Tyrone  Gayle, a spokesman for the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.

Lauren Victoria Burke, Crew of 42: Black Journos Meet Senators on Black Issues, But Shhh… Don’t Say “Black Agenda”

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: A ‘black agenda’ is an American agenda

William Douglas and David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau: Feinstein will seek limits on who can see NSA spy data

April D. Ryan blog: A Conversation Between Black Journalists and Democratic Senators on the Hill

Renee Schoof and William Douglas, McClatchy Washington Bureau: With student loan rates about to double, lawmakers squabble

TV One to Use Hands-On TV Production to Teach STEM

“TV One will offer a educational initiative to engage middle school students in the television production field, said network officials,” R. Thomas Umstead reported Friday for Multichannel News.

“The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program will provide educational support for sixth, seventh and eighth graders in the four respective subjects through hands-on television production activities beginning in September of this year. The curriculum, which will utilize original network programming, will be available atwww.tvone.tv and at Cable in the Classroom’s website, www.ciconline.org.

“The program will feature such lessons as Anatomy of a Television Production, Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production, which will present students with authentic tasks that television industry professionals face, said network officials. The curriculum will also include instructional and informative interviews with production executives from TV One and those who work on its scripted original comedy series Belle’s. . . .”

 

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