Media's Ethical Dilemma Turns Out to Be Short-Lived

"In reporting the ongoing fallout from Schwarzenegger's affair with the former housekeeper who gave birth to his child, has the press unduly invaded the privacy of Schwarzenegger's one-time paramour?" Joe Pompeo wrote Thursday for Yahoo.

"Some major news organizations have exercised restraint, declining to publish the names, photos or any other revealing details about the housekeeper and her son. Others have confirmed the woman's identity, described her home, and splashed her image across TV screens, front pages and web browsers. At its most lurid, the coverage seems akin to stealing an intimate family photo album and scattering its contents around world."

By Friday, the woman's identity had become general knowledge, though the Los Angeles Times still had not identified her.

Meanwhile, according to Fox News Latino, which ran at least three pieces about the affair, the woman's MySpace page has become a gathering place where Latinos "can go to defend the erstwhile Schwarzenegger-Shriver staffer, and offer her — in English, Spanish, or sometimes both in a single post — words of encouragement or advice. . . . overall, the tone was of a community protecting its own, despite her transgression."

Pompeo asked, "Has the press gone too far?

"Some critics think so: 'The housekeeper, who was recently let go by the former California governor, did not ask to be at the center of a white-hot political scandal,' writes Howard Kurtz of the Daily Beast, which decided not to identify her. 'She has made no statement, filed no lawsuit, trotted out no publicist, sold nothing to the tabloids, made no appearance on 'Oprah.' She had an affair with her boss and got pregnant, but she is as far from a public figure as you can imagine. What gives the media the right to obliterate her privacy?'

"Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, which published the woman's name on Wednesday, has an answer.

" 'Our basic job is to inform readers about news events, so we need a pretty compelling reason NOT to give readers information we think they care about,' Keller told the Los Angeles Times' James Rainey. 'We're sensitive to privacy issues, but in this case we don't see that compelling reason to keep our readers in the dark . . . There's nothing to suggest that reliving the earlier experience is likely to be traumatizing in the sense rape victims describe (she's lived with it — and worked for him — for 10 or 15 years). And the reality is, there is not much privacy left for us to protect.' "

" . . . But Poynter's Julie Moos questions whether the story has nevertheless veered into too-much-information territory. Do we really need to know that neighbors describe the child as a well-mannered and handsome young man who likes sports and martial arts? Or that [Mildred] Baena's house cost $268,000?" 

Charlie LeDuff, Fox 2 News, Detroit: I Met Arnold Schwarzenegger's Housekeeper: Mildred Baena

Geraldo Rivera, Fox News Latino: Arnold's Telenovela

Jack White, theRoot.com:  The Hot Un-Ghetto Mess!

S. Africa Says Libya Lied After Photographer Was Killed

Johannesburg Star headline records Anton Hammerl's last conversation."South Africa accused Libyan leaders including Col. [Moammar Gaddafi] on Friday of spreading 'misinformation' about the fate of a South African photojournalist by saying he was alive when they knew him to be dead," Celia W. Dugger and Patrick McGeehan reported from Johannesburg Friday for the New York Times.

"The accusation emerged a day after the family of Anton Hammerl, a South African photojournalist who has been missing in Libya since early last month, said they believed he died after being shot on April 5 in the desert.

"Two journalists who were released by the Libyan government on Wednesday told Mr. Hammerl’s wife that they had been with him when he was apparently shot in the stomach, a family friend, Bronwyn Friedlander, said in a telephone interview. Ms. Friedlander was with Mr. Hammerl’s wife, Penny Sukhraj, and the couple’s children at their home in London.

"Ms. Sukhraj heard a firsthand account of her husband’s shooting in a phone call from Clare Morgana Gillis and James Foley, who were among four journalists held by the government of Colonel [Gaddafi] until Wednesday. When Mr. Hammerl was not released with them, his family began to fear the worst.

"The South African foreign minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said at a news conference in Pretoria on Friday that South Africans had received 'reassurance and misinformation' from the Libyan authorities about what had happened to Mr. Hammerl."

South African Press Association: Hammerl death: SA heaps blame on Libya govt

Xavier Mas De Xaxas, Foreign Policy: A Day Under Fire with Anton

 

Oprah "Transformed the World of Television Media"

"It has been a stellar ride: 25 years of nonstop No. 1 TV ratings, history-making interviews, toppling the competition, confounding the pundits, paving the way and proving, in the end, that real power in television resided in the singular force of one Oprah Winfrey during these past 2½ decades," Audrey Edwards wrote Wednesday for theRoot.com.

"Now, as she comes into the home stretch, ending her winning run on daytime television on May 25 and moving on to run her own television network, it is worth noting how this powerhouse, the household name we have come to know simply as Oprah, transformed the world of television media almost single-handedly in the space of a generation.

". . . Even with shows that have been questionable, such as the full hour Oprah gave to an interview with the brother of Oscar-winning actress Mo'Nique — a man whom Mo'Nique said sexually abused her from the age of 7 to 11, and who was later convicted of raping someone else — Oprah finds a way to take the high road to forgiveness and redemption. It is a quality that speaks to the kind of 'spiritual wrestling' that Princeton religion professor Cornel West says has always been undertaken whenever black people produce great works of art. Or, in Oprah's case, a great TV talk show."

Betty Winston Bayé, Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: Oprah's shining star isn't waning; it's just moving

Susan Berfield, Bloomberg Businessweek: Oprah Has Some Marketing Lessons

Jane Marion, Baltimore magazine: When Oprah Was Ours

David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun Magazine: Oprah — Built in Baltimore

People.com Web Editor Tells Story of Her Sex Change

Janet Mock"Though I had been born a boy to my native Hawaiian mother and African-American father, I would never be a man," reads the tale posted Wednesday in Marie Claire. "It was the birth of my choosing this time. And now it was official: Charles had died so that Janet could live."

"Janet Mock, an editor at People.com and a blogger, told the compelling story of how she came out as a transgender woman — a secret that she’s kept from almost everyone she knows — to writer Kierna Mayo for Marie Claire," Ujala Sehgal wrote Friday for FishbowlNY.

" 'I have a thriving career as a Web editor for a very popular magazine. My coworkers don’t know about my past, mostly because I never wanted to be the poster child for transsexuals — pre-op, post-op, or no op. But the recent stories about kids who have killed themselves because of the secrets they were forced to keep has shifted something in me.

" 'That’s why I decided to come out in the pages of Marie Claire, why I’m writing a memoir about my journey.'

"It’s a brief but intriguing story, which will challenge the way you think about the transgender process. You can also hear Mock discuss the story via podcast."

Helena Andrews, theRoot.com: When Friends Come Out 

Publisher, Marable Estate Sued Over Malcolm X Book

"On what would have been Malcolm X's 86th birthday, former Nation of Islam Minister Linward X Cathcart filed a $50 million lawsuit today in Newark federal court against Viking Press, Columbia University and the estate of the late professor and author Manning Marable," WGBO radio in Newark reported on Thursday.

"The suit filed by Attorney Mark Fury on behalf of his client claims the book is filled with lies and unsubstantiated [innuendoes].

"In Marable's book, 'Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,' the author suggests Linward Cathcart may have been involved in the murder of Malcolm X or physically supervised the assassination in the [Audubon] Ballroom in New York City in 1965. Cathcart's reaction?

" 'Supervise who? I didn't know any of those gentlemen who were later arrested for that crime. I didn't know anybody in that ballroom that day.'

"Cathcart's attorney Mark Fury says the new 594-page biography has forced his client to fear for his life."

Carolyn Coleburn, a spokeswoman for Viking Press, told Journal-isms, "We have no comment."

Amiri Baraka, Herb Boyd, Michael Eric Dyson on "Democracy, Now!," Pacifica: A Fiery Debate on New Malcolm X Biography: Amira Baraka v. Michael Eric Dyson (video)

Glen Ford, Mark Bolden, Kali Akuno, Kalonji Olusegun, Rosa Clemente and Todd Burroughs with Jared Ball, WPFW-FM, Washington: Malcolm X In Focus: A Happy Birthday Roundtable Discussion (audio)

Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali, San Francisco Bay View: Malcolm and the music

Entrepreneur Don Barden Dies, Friend to Journalists

Don Barden, regarded as one of the foremost African American entrepreneurs in the country, died Thursday at 67 after a battle with lung cancer, Detroit news media reported.

Don Barden (Credit: Rashaun Rucker/Detroit Free Press)Barden made millions in the casino business and with cable TV franchises in Detroit and its suburbs. He was also the first elected black city council member in Lorain, Ohio.

"In Lorain, he also bought an interest in a cable television station and formed Barden Communications in 1981. He built the cable system in Inkster, Romulus, Van Buren Township and Detroit into a venture he sold to Comcast Cable in 1994 for more than $100 million," Darren A. Nichols reported Thursday in the Detroit News. He also started a weekly newspaper in Ohio, the Lorain County Times.

"Barden hosted a weekly TV show at the NBC affiliate in Cleveland and owned five radio stations in Illinois in the 1990s," the Associated Press reported.

"He rubbed elbows with the powerful, even teaching dance steps to President Bill Clinton following a state dinner with South Africa President Nelson Mandela in the 1990s."

Barden was also a friend of black journalists. "He donated his studios and equipment for the student broadcast program during the Detroit 1992 convention when the other big outlets wouldn't," Randye Bullock, long active in the Detroit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, told Journal-isms.

Alfred Edmond Jr., Black Enterprise: Black Enterprise Titan, Casino Mogul Don Barden Dies

Erica Taylor, "The Tom Joyner Morning Show": Little-Known Black History Fact: Don Barden

"The well-known Princeton professor and author, who has released rap albums and starred in Hollywood films, supported Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign but now calls the president a 'black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.' "

The tempest was ignited by a May 16 piece by Chris Hedges on truthdig.com, "The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic." Included in the piece are West's recitations of perceived slights by Obama  and this passage: "'I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,' West says. 'It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white. He is just as human as I am, but that is his cultural formation. When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening.'"

Few in the blogosphere were siding with West.

Jonathan Capehart blog, Washington Post: Cornel West on Obama is no better than a birther

Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Close Gathering the Tribe

Melissa Harris-Perry, the Nation: Cornel West v. Barack Obama

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Prof criticizing Obama shows own flaws

Mychal Denzel Smith, theGrio.com: What's behind Cornel West's beef with Obama?

David Swerdlick, theRoot.com: Why Cornel West Is Wrong About Obama

 

Black Reporters Newson, Booker Were Part of Freedom Rides

Black filmmaker Stanley Nelson, who previously documented the contributions of the black press in "Soldiers Without Swords," omitted black journalists from his gripping PBS documentary, "Freedom Riders," that debuted this week on PBS.

But two black reporters, Simeon Booker of Jet and Ebony magazines and Moses Newson of the Baltimore Afro-American, were on those buses witnessing the violence and trying to evade it, according to "The Race Beat," the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2006 book by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff.

"The Freedom Riders were using two regularly scheduled buses, a Greyhound and a Trailways, so when Booker went on one, Newson rode the other," the authors wrote. "If anything happened, at least one of them could cover the story, and, by switching buses systematically, they would each get to know and interview all of the riders — seven black men, three white men, and three white women."

Although the Supreme Court had ruled against segregated interstate transportation, Southern states continued to maintain Jim Crow laws. In 1961 — 50 years ago — the Freedom Riders, organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), aimed to test compliance with the Supreme Court ruling. Commemorations are continuing.

A mob besieged one bus that stopped six miles outside Anniston, Ala., Roberts and Klibanoff wrote. "Newson had seen meanness in Little Rock, but these people were rattlesnake mean — intent on killing. They smashed windows with bricks and an ax and hurled a Molotov cocktail into the bus. It ignited the seat immediately in back of Newson; sparks singed one of his ears . . . Newson, the last person off the bus, groped his way to the door through the blinding smoke, a handkerchief over his face."

Meanwhile, Booker "punched a small hole in his newspaper and peered through it as he pretended to read. He saw one attacker flash a pistol. He heard another shout, 'Aw, you goddam nigger lovers.' At one point, the bus was a blur of blood and sandwich bits. . . ."

Other accounts record Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy urging Booker to implore the riders to end their effort. "I think what they were trying to do was hold down the Negro enthusiasm and determination," Booker was quoted as saying about the Kennedy administration. "It seemed to me any time they would say don't do something, they just made five people where one had been before."

Howard K. Smith of CBS News, a white journalist and a native of Monroe, La., also figured in the Freedom Riders' story, according to "The Race Beat." Smith broadcast from Europe during World War II and through some of the most critical years of the Cold War. During the Freedom Rides, "He went on CBS radio every hour for the remainder of Mother's Day with his eyewitness accounts. He smuggled beaten riders into his hotel room and interviewed them, still bloody, before his crew's cameras."

In his weekly radio commentary, Smith "compared the worst of the 'panting and exhilarated' thugs to the vilest of the Nazi Jew-baiters who . . . used to beat prisoners with a bullwhip [and] derive an almost perverse exhilaration from the brutality."

Smith produced a documentary for CBS television that, for the first time in a major national forum, gave black citizens in the South equal time with whites in discussing a city's racial problems, according to Roberts and Klibanoff. But Smith bristled at the editing the piece received. "Smith thought that if you tried to balance the racial story, the network would give the same weight to Bull Connor's notion of law as it would to the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions." The matter went to CBS Chairman William S. Paley, who summarily rejected Smith's position. Smith "got up from the table and walked out of the room and out of a job he'd held with CBS for two decades."

On April 1, the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star reported that Booker, now 92, Freedom Rider Charles Person, "and Theodore Gaffney who worked alongside Booker as a photographer for Jet magazine — were reunited this week at the University of Mary Washington, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides."

The documentary can be viewed online.

Bernard Lafayette Jr., New York Times: The Siege of the Freedom Riders