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Audie Cornish

Audie Cornish, a reporter and substitute host for NPR since 2006, has been named the new host of "Weekend Edition Sunday," NPR announced on Thursday.

She "will be the new voice of Sunday mornings for millions of public radio listeners beginning this fall. Liane Hansen, who has been hosting Weekend Edition for more than 20 years, announced her retirement last year and will broadcast her final show on Sunday, May 29," an announcement said.

Cornish's appointment represents a major assignment for a black journalist at a network that is struggling with diversity issues.

Ellen McDonnell, executive director of news programming for NPR, said in the announcement: "Audie is an outstanding journalist and a wonderful storyteller. Audiences will connect with her warmth, curiosity and humor. We’re thrilled she is taking on this new role."

"I’m honored and excited to follow in Liane Hansen’s footsteps," Cornish said in the release. "She has made Weekend Edition essential in the lives of millions of NPR listeners."

The NPR statement continued:

"Cornish has solid experience as both a news and feature reporter. She is a familiar voice in public radio, where she has been reporting for ten years, first for Boston member station WBUR and then NPR. She’s been covering Capitol Hill since 2009; before that, she was on the campaign trail reporting on the 2008 Presidential election. She also spent three years covering the south for NPR, from a base in Nashville. Whether sharing the stories of Hurricane Katrina survivors, engaging with voters on the campaign trail or reporting on the complex details of this year’s Congressional budget debate, Cornish has demonstrated her tremendous talent. In recent years she has been a frequent guest host for 'Weekend Edition Sunday,' 'All Things Considered' and 'Tell Me More.'

"Before coming to NPR, Cornish was a political reporter for WBUR covering many of the region’s major news stories, including the legalization of same sex marriage, the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Her 2005 report on the achievement gap in Boston public schools earned her first prize in the National Awards for Education Writing. She got her start as a general assignment reporter for the Associated Press in Boston."

"He was there to cover Game 6 of the Bulls vs. Hawks game. The cause of death is unknown at this time.

"Hotel employees discovered him in his room at approximately 9:30 a.m. after he missed a wake-up call. He was rushed to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

" 'We are all stunned right now. Daryl was a great member of our sports team, and was so excited about covering the Bulls during this playoff run,' said Frank Whittaker, Station Manager and Vice President of News.

"Hawks was 38 years old. He was a three-time Emmy Winner and former Marine.

"He leaves behind a wife, Sandy, and two children." 

"Model Esther Baxter gave Bossip an exclusive interview to discuss how, she says, rapper Joe Budden, her ex-boyfriend, beat her and caused her to miscarry their child. Bossip published the video of the interview Monday, along with copies of a police report, photographs of Baxter’s physical injuries — and three gruesome photographs of the fetus.

"Bossip eventually took down the miscarriage photos, but not before Baxter ranted on Twitter about the invasion of privacy, and many of the site’s readers left comments calling Bossip’s editorial decision 'revolting' and 'unnecessary.' ”

Bossip, part of Moguldom Media Group, whose other websites include the Atlanta Post and hiphopwired, is one of the top-ranked sites catering to African Americans, according to the comScore research company. Bossip recorded 1,460,000 unique visitors in April, compared with 2,892,000 for MediaTakeOut.com, 1,625,000 for AOL's Black Voices sites, 1,544,000 for BET.com sites and 842,000 for blackplanet.com.

"The controversy erupted just days after U.S. officials debated distributing the Osama bin Laden death photos," Fernandez continued. "And a documentary, 'Unlawful Killing,' being released at Cannes this week will — for the first time —show footage of Princess Diana as she was dying. Which raises the question: Have taste and restraint gone the way of the dinosaurs?

"On Bossip, which . . . boasts the tagline 'Gossip for the Hardcore,' the answer is yes, says Chief Executive Marve Frazier.

" 'It was what it was. If the images are graphic, the images are graphic.'

" 'We weren’t thinking editorially or had any intention behind it,' Frazier said. 'We just decided to put everything up that was sent to us — that we had obtained for the particulars of the story. It wasn’t like we were asking for pictures of the fetus. There were only three on the site. We received quite a few and they were pretty disgusting. The ones you saw weren’t even the half of it, honestly.'

" . . . In the end, Frazier took down the photographs out of concern that there would be an advertiser backlash — not because she regretted her initial decision."

* Collin Tong, International Examiner: Shifting focus, same principle in urging journalist's release

    U.S., Canada Seek to Locate Missing Reporter

    Syrian Government Says Dorothy Parvaz Deported to Iran

    The governments of the United States and Canada are seeking to verify the whereabouts of missing journalist Dorothy Parvaz, spokesmen for the two governments told Journal-isms on Wednesday, after the Syrian government said Parvaz was deported from Syria to Iran.

Parvaz, who holds Iranian, American and Canadian citizenship, is the latest imperiled journalist to become a cause for journalism and press-freedom organizations. She now works for Al Jazeera and was an editorial writer and columnist for the now-defunct print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She was a 2009 Nieman Fellow.

"Essentially, we've only seen the Syrian statement saying she was deported to Iran," State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner said by email. "We're seeking to confirm her whereabouts thru Swiss protecting power and with Syrian authorities." Switzerland represents U.S. interests in Iran because Iran and the United States do not have diplomatic relations.

Alain Cacchione, spokesman for Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, said by email, "We are very concerned about this individual and are pressing for information about her whereabouts. Canadian officials are engaging Iranian and Syrian authorities at high levels to obtain additional information. We also are seeking to provide consular assistance, as required.

"Consular officials remain in contact with the family in Canada."

In 2009, Iran became the focus of another worldwide effort by journalists and human rights groups when Roxana Saberi was arrested and charged with espionage. Saberi was freed from prison four months after her arrest when an Iranian appeals court suspended the eight-year sentence she received.

"Given Iran's abysmal press freedom record, we are concerned about Parvaz's well-being," Mohamed Abdel Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists said. "Iranian authorities must immediately release Parvaz, who has committed no crime."

Al Jazeera reported on Wednesday that "Syrian officials had previously told Al Jazeera the 39-year-old was being held in the Syrian capital and would be released.

" 'We have now received information that she is being held in Tehran,' an Al Jazeera spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday.

" 'We are calling for information from the Iranian authorities, access to Dorothy, and for her immediate release. We have had no contact with Dorothy since she left Doha on April 29 and we are deeply concerned for her welfare.'

"In a statement issued on Tuesday," the Al Jazeera report continued, "the Syrian embassy in Washington DC said Parvaz had attempted to enter Syria illegally on an expired Iranian visa and subsequently been extradited to Iran.

"On May 1, Parvaz was 'escorted by the Iranian consul to Caspian Airlines flight 7905 heading to Tehran,' the statement said."

However, "Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, told Al Jazeera on May 2 that he had no knowledge of Parvaz’s whereabouts and urged Syria to look into the case."

Parvaz's father, Fred Parvaz, a physics professor at Capilano University in North Vancouver, B.C., and fiance, Todd Barker, told Journal-isms they were waiting for confirmation of Dorothy Parvaz's deportation to Syria.

"This new development is not yet a development until it's verified," Fred Parvaz said by telephone from North Vancouver. "We need some verification. If that is the case, the message stays the same: We would like to have her back, so please let her go. She's just trying to do her job."

Barker, visiting Fred Parvaz, said by telephone that he had "deep respect and admiration" for the way the diplomats had been doing their jobs.

But, he said, "it's really hard to rely on that information" about a transfer to Iran. "In the family's situation, we don't know where she is." He described the ways of foreign affairs as a "mystery," but said, "my relationship is simple. I love her and I want to talk to her." If she is in Iran, "maybe it moves the ball back just a little bit. We had gotten word that she's safe. It's going on two weeks, and nobody's heard from her."

Barker urged supporters to contact their members of the Canadian Parliament or the U.S. Congress "to let them know this is of key importance."

One supporter is Melanie McFarland, former television critic for the P-I. "My best friend and former colleague at the Seattle P-I, Dorothy Parvaz, flew to Damascus on April 29 to report on the uprisings there for Al Jazeera English," she wrote to colleagues. "She went missing the moment she stepped off the plane."

Among the organizations expressing support for Parvaz are the Asian American Journalists Association, Unity: Journalists of Color, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and human rights groups such as Amnesty International.

* Committee to Protect Journalists: Syria holds at least five journalists in custody

* Facebook page: Free Dorothy Parvaz

* David McCumber, Hearst Connecticut Media Group: Join effort to free Dorothy Parvaz

Ex-Prison Journalist Says Inmates Have Their Own Slavery

"The practice of rape and enslavement hasn't ended," according to freed prison journalist Wilbert Rideau. "It's a very real problem in many prisons across America, and, in fact, it's usually even worse in jails. Authorities cracked down on it at the Louisiana State Prison back in the 1970s and it now only an occasional occurrence in what is now perhaps the safest maximum security prison in the country.

"What is more likely to occur now at LSP would be one inmate exploiting another inmate's weaknesses and insecurities in a nonviolent manner to persuade/intimidate him into becoming his 'wife' or 'boy.' My contention has always been that if the most violent prison in the nation (Angola circa 1976) could be cleaned up, any prison could be cleaned up if officialdom determined to do it," Rideau said through an email from his wife, Linda LaBranche.

Rideau appeared Monday on NPR's "Tell Me More." "You might recognize the name from NPR and ABC News, where he contributed reporting even while imprisoned in one of the most notorious prisons in the country," host Michel Martin said. "He spent 44 years behind bars, with most of those years in the nation's largest maximum-security prison, the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

"During that time, Wilbert Rideau found his voice as a writer. He became editor of the Angolite, a prison news magazine that was nominated for many awards. And in 1979, he won the prestigious George Polk Award for his investigative reporting on sexual violence in prison. But he was only able to pick up the award in person last month, and he's with us now from his home in Baton Rouge, where he's a free man."

Rideau received the death penalty for murder in 1961, but his sentence was later amended to life imprisonment. He was released in 2005.

"It's not a criminal justice system," he told Martin. "It started off about criminal justice. Now, it's about power, politics and prejudice. It's a business. You know, you don't need this because you can't afford it. It's a monster, and you can't afford to feed it because you're not blessed with inexhaustible resources. And it's just going to destroy you from within. You know, people used to talk about reforms. I've reached a point where I don't think you're ever going to be able to reform because you've created a monster that keeps growing."

Asked "What's next for you? What are you dreaming about now?" Rideau told Martin, "Number one, making a living. But the other thing is I do a lot of lecturing around the United States. Usually, I find myself talking to lawyers. I also consult on capital defense teams around the country when they're having difficulty with their client. And I'm moving toward the next book, which my wife and I are going to write." LaBranche told Journal-isms, "The new book will be a corrective to longstanding and popular perceptions of the criminal and criminality."

Mark Saltz wrote for the Associated Press in 2006, "While in prison, Rideau went from an illiterate teenager to a well-read, self-educated man. He edited The Angolite, a prison magazine that won a George Polk Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for exposing prison abuses. He was in demand as a speaker, appeared on television and helped produce and direct an award-winning documentary about Angola called, 'The Farm.'

"In 1993, Life magazine called him 'the most rehabilitated prisoner in America.' "

Still, Rideau has never spoken before journalism groups, including the National Association of Black Journalists.

LaBranche said, "Wilbert speaks where he is invited to go. So far, he has spoken to journalism students at a few universities, but not to any journalism groups, including NABJ."

"Our program is incomplete," NABJ President Kathy Y. Times said of the upcoming NABJ convention in Philadelphia. "The program committee is still working on invitations," she said.

Maryland Inmates Stage Closed-Circuit Newscasts

"Calvert Porter sits down behind the anchor desk and straightens his collar. His co-anchor, Keith Williams, studies his script," Michael S. Rosenwald wrote Monday in the Washington Post.

" 'Do you want a sound check?' Porter asks.

" 'No, you’re all right,' the cameraman says.

" 'Do you want to start off with some light banter?' Porter asks.

"The anchors chat about football for a few minutes, then tell the cameraman to roll. 'Hello, everyone,' Williams says, 'and thanks for tuning in.'

"Porter is a convicted rapist. Williams is an armed robber. Their audience, not measured by Nielsen, is 2,000 or so murderers, rapists, robbers, forgers, car thieves and muggers at a Hagerstown prison. Their goals are not unlike Diane Sawyer’s: Tell viewers things they don’t know. Given the setting, most of their news is local.

" 'We have some very, very interesting facts coming up,' Williams says, his voice echoing off the cinderblock walls in a storage space doubling as a newsroom.

"The newscast at the Maryland Correctional Training Center, or MCTC, is one of several such programs in the state’s prisons, and experts say they know of few other efforts like it in the United States. The newscasts put a modern spin on a jailhouse journalism tradition that dates to the 19th century, when Jesse James’s gang was known, among other things, as a group of influential and incarcerated newspapermen.

"These days, prisoner newspapers are dwindling or gone, unable to survive as more violent inmates began entering the system in the 1980s, forcing more lockdowns and creating tougher environments. Costs skyrocketed, draining funding for inmate perks.

"Experts say TV broadcasts could provide a cheap solution for cash-strapped states shouldering massive corrections budgets."

Five J-Schools Flunk Diversity Standard for Accreditation

The mass communications program at Jackson State University and the undergraduate mass communication program at Grambling State University, historically black schools, won full reaccreditation from the Accrediting Council On Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, the group announced on Monday.

Five other schools were found to be out of compliance with the council's standard on diversity and inclusiveness. By itself, flunking the standard is not enough to deny accreditation, however.

The council said it made 24 school accreditation decisions at its meeting April 29-30 in Portland, Ore. It denied accreditation to the graduate program in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa. That school failed Standards 2 and 9, which deal with curriculum, instruction and assessment of learning outcomes.

The schools that failed Standard 3, which certifies that "the unit has a diverse and inclusive program that serves and reflects society," were Shippensburg University, St. Cloud State University, the University of Colorado, Colorado State University and Middle Tennessee State University.

The Department of Mass Communications and Journalism at Norfolk State University, another historically black school, received provisional reaccreditation for its undergraduate program, as did the graduate programs of the Department of Mass Communication at Grambling State.

Some 24.2 percent of the black students who earn bachelor's degrees in journalism and communications are said to receive them from historically black colleges and universities.

In other business, the council reelected four members to three-year terms on its Accrediting Committee: John Cochran, retired ABC News senior correspondent; Phillip Dixon, outgoing chairman of the Department of Journalism at Howard University; Charlotte Hall, retired senior vice president and editor at the Orlando Sentinel; and Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.

"In 2002, the award-winning photojournalist began capturing images to chronicle the conflict and humanitarian crisis of the beleaguered nation — a nation he believed had been abandoned and 'neglected' by the traditional news media. Seven years later, President Barack Obama announced his new strategy for Afghanistan, and journalists began flooding into the country. But instead of tarrying with his colleagues, Kuwayama turned his frustrations with the traditional media into a not-so-traditional media enterprise idea. He decided to trade bullets in the desert for a rude awakening in a classroom at the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.

"Kuwayama is just one among many mid-career and nascent journalists who are choosing to take advantage of a class in a subject that has recently emerged in journalism school curricula across the country and around the world: entrepreneurial journalism."

"On January 8, 2010, three dozen journalism educators, separated by state and international borders and time zones, connected on a conference call to discuss current courses, future courses or desired courses on the topic. The field marshal of this convergence was Jeff Jarvis, the digital journalism enthusiast who has been a reporter, editor, publisher, best-selling author and entrepreneur, and is currently director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism.

". . . Jarvis says that the interesting thing about the conference call was that there was a general consensus that such classes could not have been created eight or 10 years ago."

In CNN's "Don't Fail Me," rich, poor, good and failing schools compete at building fully functional, agile robots. (Video)

Program Notes: Freedom Riders, Robotic Futures

Two specials airing Sunday and Monday take viewers to the nation's civil-rights era past and examine what interviewees say is its poor preparation for the future as PBS presents "Freedom Riders" and Soledad O'Brien reports CNN's "Don't Fail Me: Education in America."

"Fifty years after 436 black and white Americans risked their lives — and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment – for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South from May through November of 1961, PBS and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE celebrate their courage and enduring legacy," according to an announcement from PBS.

"Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders’ belief in non-violent activism was sorely tested as mob violence and bitter racism greeted them along the way. 'Freedom Riders' features testimony from a fascinating cast of central characters: the Riders themselves, state and federal government officials, and journalists who witnessed the rides firsthand.

"Monday, May 16, marks the debut of award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s powerful documentary portraying these brave citizens . . ."

Short Takes

* "No wonder AOL is so eager to get folks writing for free for Patch," Jeff Bercovici wrote May 4 for Forbes.com. "The internet giant pumped $40 million into its network of hyperlocal news sites in the first quarter of 2011, and it will almost certainly lose well in excess of $100 million on the venture this year. That’s on top of the $75 million AOL put into the venture last year, mind you."

* For African Americans, the NBA playoffs dominated television watching during the week of May 2-9, according to Nielsen Co. ratings released on Tuesday. The game between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers on ABC Sunday ranked first for the week on broadcast television. The games held the top 11 spots for African Americans on cable television, via ESPN and Turner Network Television. Among Hispanics, the top shows were Univision's "Triunfo del Amor" on Spanish-language television; "Dancing With the Stars" and "American Idol" on English-language broadcast television. The NBA playoffs held down the top five positions for Hispanics on English-language cable.

* "How do you handle covering a candidacy that’s primarily a publicity stunt by a crazed ego and presshound  — one with approximately zero chance of success — without lending undue credit to it?" Ryan Chittum wrote Wednesday for Columbia Journalism Review. "The Los Angeles Times shows one way today with a smart angle: Donald Trump’s rich history of milking taxpayers for hundreds of millions of dollars for his gold-plated skyscrapers."

* "The New York Daily News, among many, is not exactly impressed with the pseudo-candidacy of real estate person Donald Trump, and today made it abundantly clear with a cover calling the mogul a 'birther' and 'racist' and an accompanying story entitled 'Mickey Mouse Donald,' Frances Martel wrote Monday for Mediaite. "On tonight’s 'Factor,' Bill O’Reilly took publisher Mort Zuckerman to task over the racist allegations, which Zuckerman argued were legitimate stemming from Trump’s birther obsession."

* "Youth Radio won a Peabody last month for its series on child sex trafficking, and its investigative team would like to show up to claim the honor," current.org notes. ". . . But the young journos need $20,000 to travel to the awards presentation in New York. They're so close — just $5,000 more. And the May 23 ceremony is quickly approaching. Want to help?"

* Chloe Hilliard, most recently of vibe.com, and Abena Agyeman, who wrote for the BVX site of AOL's Black Voices, are joining theLoop21.com, Danielle Belton, managing editor, told Journal-isms on Wednesday. Hilliard will be editorial director and Agyeman news editor.

* After initially defending its inclusion of local anchors in a farewell video dedicated to longtime Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Walter E. Smithe, a major local advertiser, apologized and has since edited the WBBM staffers out of the video, as well as anchor Bob Sirott of WFLD, Andrew Gauthier reported Wednesday for TVSpy.

* "Fed up with articles speculating about his future in Orlando, Magic center Dwight Howard took to the normal venue for expressing discord (Twitter) to share his displeasure with the Orlando Sentinel 50," Cam Martin reported Tuesday for SportsNewser. " 'Y does it seem like the writers of Orlando sentinel are tryna push me out of Orlando with dumb articles. It’s annoying. Can I enjoy my summer and get ready for next season in Orlando. Pls. Same thing u guys did to Shaq.' "

* "Fort Worth-based NBC5 is adding Dallas-raised Amanda Guerra as a reporter. She'll be arriving from Oklahoma City's KOCO-TV after nearly three-and-a-half years at that station as a general assignments reporter," television writer Ed Bark reported for his Dallas-Fort Worth-based Uncle Barky's Bytes blog.

* "It appears that Andrew Breitbart and Larry O'Connor have settled on a bold new strategy for defending against Shirley Sherrod's defamation lawsuit. Sherrod, they argue in a recent court filing, really did admit to using her government job to carry out a campaign of racial discrimination," Jeremy Schulman reported Tuesday for Media Matters.

* In Chicago, WMAQ-Ch. 5's announcement that it had hired Stefan Holt, whose father is NBC News' Lester Holt, as reporter and weekend morning co-anchor was tough for some to swallow, Phil Rosenthal wrote for the Chicago Tribune. But "In time, the son also rises — or sinks from view — on his own. Daughters, too."

* "Meredith Attwell Baker, one of the two Republican Commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, plans to step down — and right into a top lobbying job at Comcast-NBC," Nate Anderson reported Wednesday for arstechnica.com. "The news, reported this afternoon by the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and Politico, comes after the hugely controversial merger of Comcast and NBC earlier this year. At the time, Baker objected to FCC attempts to impose conditions on the deal and argued that the 'complex and significant transaction' could 'bring exciting benefits to consumers that outweigh potential harms.' "

* " 'México Opina' is CNN en Español's newest addition to its programming. Mario González will host the show which debuts next Sunday, May 15," Veronica Villafañe reported for her Media Moves site. "The new show is a collaboration between CNNE and CNNMexico.com. It's being billed as a multi-platform program that will analyze current events in Mexico and encourage audience participation through Twitter, Facebook and CNNMexico.com, through which users can send iReports."

* Descendants of abolitionist and editor Frederick Douglass plan to meet in Ireland with Irish President Mary McAleese on Thursday. Ireland plans to unveil a statue of Douglass at University College Cork, believed to be the first statue of Douglass outside of the United States. Douglass fled to Ireland in the 1840s to escape slave catchers. President Obama is due in Ireland on May 23.

* Pierre Thomas, senior justice correspondent for ABC News, was one of nine members of the Steering Committee of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press re-elected to three-year terms, the committee said Tuesday.

* "A late-night news bulletin on e.tv that features nude women was not in contravention of broadcasting standards, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) said on Tuesday," Jenna Etheridge reported for the South African Press Association.