"It was the early 2000s and often times when Romero looked around the press box it became starkly apparent that there were few, if any, other Latino sports reporters to whom he could relate.

" 'I think there were only three or four Latinos in the entire country covering the NFL on a regular basis at that time,' said Romero, 37, who left the Times about a year ago and is now freelance reporting and editing in Phoenix, Arizona. 'I ascended to a level where [Latinos] are not present at all really, and it would make me wonder why there weren’t more people like us doing these types of jobs.'

". . . According to a study released recently, some 320 websites and newspapers that belong to the Associated Press Sports Editors slightly improved their racial hiring practices last year. The report showed that 97 percent of the sports editors at APSE newspapers and websites in 2010 were white, and 94 percent of sports editors overall were men.

"Just 5.5 percent of sports staffs, moreover, are black men, and only 3 percent are Latino men. Latino and Asian men increased by an average of .54 percent in sports desk job categories, except as sports editors."

Angie Clemmons, sports copy chief at the Denver Post and a board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, messaged Journal-isms that "sportswriting jobs are still some of the most highly coveted positions in journalism and I think there is still an inside network — a good old boy network, if you will — that determines a lot of the hiring.

"If you don't already have women and minorities in positions of power in sports — and we do not, as the APSE survey bore out — then there is a pipeline of convenience that continues to be in play.

"I've been in and out of the sports journalism business for 20 years (I've also worked news desks and entertainment desks). I've seen it play out over and over. Hiring gets done somewhat shoddily in sports, and I might have to think through why that is, but I would guess it's because it's an overlooked department in the grand scheme of things, even though the sports job market is fiercely competitive," Clemmons continued.

"I know a lot of Latino candidates, and I think some other surveys have shown that often Latino college students come from smaller, Division II schools, which could possibly hurt them when so much of sports is about Division I. It's not right, but I think there is a bias there."

Latino sports journalists have made several efforts to organize, modeling themselves after the Sports Task Force of the National Association of Black Journalists.

The NAHJ Sports Task Force was relaunched in the spring of 2010, led by Maria Burns Ortiz, a freelance journalist who is a Page 2 contributor and soccer writer for ESPN.com and is Region 2 director of NAHJ.

"Angie hit on a lot of valid points. And I agree," Ortiz messaged Journal-isms. "I think that perhaps the biggest issue is diversity in decision-making. I've found when I ask about diversity, it's not [an] issue of editors or those in hiring positions not thinking diversity is important, but it's that the idea of diversity might not even have occurred to them. That's a tougher hurdle to overcome.

"The Sports Task Force is something recently revived as it had fallen dormant. However, the response in the last year has been really promising.

"I would say we have about 15 core professional members who have been directly involved in the last year and maybe another dozen students that have inquired about it."

She added, "I don't know how much of an impact this has, but I also think that at some level, whether it's conscious or not, if you look at around not just your newsroom, but virtually every press box, and you're the only Hispanic journalist, it can be discouraging, especially for those journalists starting out. And when you look around and there are just a handful of Hispanics in the most high-profile positions (sports editors, columnists) — for Latinas, the numbers are even smaller — I can see how some journalists might have concerns about the potential for advancement. I've had colleagues express those concerns to me."

Jose de Jesus Ortiz, baseball writer at the Houston Chronicle and no relation to Maria Burns Ortiz, headed the now-disbanded Latino Sports Media Association.

"Most of us who are bilingual do understand that athletes are quoted when they're speaking English [in a way that] doesn't reflect their intelligence," he told Journal-isms in 2009. "I always encourage guys to learn English as quickly as they can so they can communicate better."

The perils of not understanding Spanish-speaking sports figures were demonstrated most vividly at the Miami Herald. Jockey Jose Santos sued the Herald after riding Funny Cide to victories in the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

Santos' suit "accused the newspaper of printing an article that falsely 'accused Jose Santos of carrying an unauthorized and illegal object in his hand during his Kentucky Derby ride of Funny Cide,'" the Herald later reported.

"Derby racing stewards later concluded Santos was holding only his whip."

The reporter misunderstood Santos, a Spanish speaker, and the Herald later apologized. Santos and the Herald reached a settlement in 2008.

Richard Lapchick, Austin Moss II, Christina Russell and Rodney Scearce, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport: The 2010-11 Associated Press Sports Editors Racial and Gender Report Card (PDF)

Lauren McKeon, Canadian Journalism Project: Sports Journalism and the double X factor

University of Georgia News Service: UGA establishes sports journalism program

French Journalists Captive 500 Days in Afghanistan

"The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today joined events marking the 500 days of captivity of two French journalists, Hervé Guesquières and Stéphane Taponier, who are still held hostages with their guides in Afghanistan," the groups said on Friday.

" 'Five hundred days in captivity are five hundred too many days,' said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. 'We are concerned about the physical and mental health of our colleagues after all this time. Despite calls from family, colleagues and journalists' organisations, there has been no news about their situation from French or Afghan authorities. This has to change quickly.' "

"Anton Hammerl, an award-winning photographer, was captured on 4 April and his family have had no concrete news about him since then.

"The regime has, however, allowed access to three other journalists who were captured with him.

". . . The Libyan regime has admitted it is holding all four journalists, and has allowed the two Americans and the Spaniard to receive a visitor where they are being held, but it has provided no information about Hammerl."

The Americans are freelancers Clare Gillis, who has written for USA Today and the Atlantic, and James Foley, also a correspondent for GlobalPost.

Zakaria Walks Back Idea That He "Advises" President

CNN's Fareed Zakaria Saturday attempted to scale back the impression that he has been "advising" President Obama, having said Thursday on Eliot Spitzer's CNN show "In the Arena" that Obama consults him on world issues, engaging in "very thoughtful conversation."

"The characterization that I have been 'advising' President Obama is inaccurate," Zakaria wrote on his Global Public Square blog. "Over the last few months I've had a couple of conversations with the president, off-the-record. At no point did president President Obama ask me for advice on a specific policy or speech or proposal, nor did I volunteer it. I know that he has had similar meetings with other columnists."

Spitzer said Thursday, "Look, I read something in the paper this week a couple of days ago that actually made me — you know brought a smile to my face. It said the president of the United States calls you for wisdom and advice about issues around the world.

"So first, when he calls you, what does he say? 'Hi, Barack calling for Fareed?' What does he do?

ZAKARIA: "Mostly it's been face-to-face meetings."

SPITZER: "Right."

ZAKARIA: "You know, usually organized by Tom Donilon, the national security adviser."

SPITZER: "Right."

ZAKARIA: "What I'm struck by, though, honestly, Eliot, is how much time he's spending thinking about the issues of the Arab spring, particularly the issues of Egypt, how — how to make Egypt go right, what — you know, what is the — what are the mechanisms that the United States has to help the moderates and liberals.

"It's been a very thoughtful conversation. You know we'll see where it goes."

SPITZER: "I'm not going to ask you what you have said to the president but it makes my heart warm that the president is calling you for wisdom and advice. And thanks for coming on the show."

ZAKARIA: "My pleasure." [Updated May 14]

White House Ends Re-Enactments of Speeches for Photogs

"Calling it a 'bad idea,' the White House has decided that it will no longer re-enact speeches for still photographers, as it did the night President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden," Steve Myers wrote Friday for the Poynter Institute.

"That re-enactment was the subject of a Poynter.org story that sparked industry conversation about the ethics of staging photos, particularly one of such a historic event.

"On May 1, continuing a practice in place for decades, the White House barred still photographers from photographing the live presidential address because of the disruption the still cameras would cause. After the speech, President Barack Obama walked down the hallway toward the microphones for a second time and spoke for a few minutes, just so still photographers could capture what they missed.

"Photojournalists defended the practice to Poynter.org, in part because captions disclosed that the photos were not taken during the live speech. But the captions weren’t all that clear that the photos were staged, and our audit found that in many cases those captions didn’t run with the photos.

"The question now is what will take the place of the re-enactments. Kenny Irby, Poynter’s visual journalism faculty, said the easiest option would be to move to a single-camera pool. That means one photographer, from a select group of news outlets, would document the event, and those images would be shared with all the news outlets that cover the White House. The easiest option, though, is not the most inclusive, Irby said.

"Photojournalists who spoke with Poynter.org on Thursday evening oppose that approach for still images, saying it limits photographers’ storytelling options and creativity."

"Well, President Obama laid that canard to rest in a May 8 interview with the CBS program 60 Minutes.

"60 Minutes: 'When was the first indication that you had found the right place, that bin Laden was in there?'

"President Obama: 'There was a point before folks had left, uh, before we had gotten everybody back on the helicopter and were flying, uh, back to base, where, uh, they said, uh, "Geronimo, uh, is, uh, has been killed, and Geronimo was the code name for bin Laden".'

"Now the issue becomes one of interpretation. The analogy takes the story of Geronimo and associates it with the story of Osama bin Laden. They were both hunted and pursued by the military forces of the United States. They both successfully eluded capture for a lengthy period of time.

"There are problems with the analogy. . . ."

Pierre Thomas, Richard Esposito and Lee Ferran, ABC News: Osama Bin Laden's Anti-U.S. Strategy: Exploit Minority Converts

Some Question New Vogue Italia's "Black Beauty" Issue

"Vogue Italia has been praised for making steps towards diversity in the fashion world, especially after they published the 'Black Issue' (July 2008), the 'Black Barbie' supplement issue (July 2009) and a 'Black Allure' photo shoot (Feb 2011) — all issues or shoots that only featured black women," BET.com wrote last week.

"The overseas fashion manifesto is back again with a 'Black Beauty' shoot for June 2011. The current tribute is a shoot styled by Giulio Martinelli with an accompanying article written by Claire Sulmers.

"But some readers wonder if these shoots aren’t just a way to segregate the models, and argue if the magazine was really about inclusion and diversity, they’d simply have more black models throughout the year, rather than cramming them all into one issue or shoot every several months."

More Evidence of Thriving Papers in Latin America, India

"If you spend much time in U.S. newsrooms these days, you might contract a serious case of gloom and doom, Anne Nelson wrote Wednesday for PBS MediaShift. "Talk is still focused on declining circulations, aging readerships, and the absence of new business models to pay for the production of quality content.

"But it would be a mistake to assume that this is the case for the rest of the world. In fact, in many regions, the newspaper business is booming. Some countries' newspapers are pulling in record advertising and those double-digit profit margins that were common in 1990s America.

"I recently had the chance to observe this phenomenon firsthand at the Bogota, Colombia, conference of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), where there was little gloom or doom to be found.

"Instead, newspapers were reporting extraordinary growth in advertising sales from 2005 to 2009: 62 percent in Argentina, 70 percent in Brazil, and 57 percent in Colombia itself. (These figures, drawn from a ZenithOptimedia forecast, contrasted with 34 percent drops in the U.S. and the U.K. over the same period.)"

In Toronto's Globe and Mail, Stephanie Nolen reported Thursday from New Delhi, "It took 64 years for the revered Indian newspaper NaiDunia to reach a circulation of 500,000 — a figure that would make most North American publishers swoon.

"That was two years ago. Since then, the paper’s circulation has soared a stunning 62.5 per cent to 800,000 copies a day, and the publication’s owner, NaiDunia Media Pvt. Ltd., says that’s just the start.

"By 2016, the company aims to reach a readership of 15 million — nearly triple the circulations of the three biggest U.S. dailies, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Times, combined.

"The market for newspapers is on fire in India, where household spending and government investment fuelled the second-fastest economic growth among advanced countries last year, behind only China. That growth has given rise to a new, more literate consumer class — and the payoff for print media has been huge."

NBC Said to Push Trump for Decision on "Apprentice"

"NBC is pushing Donald Trump to make up his mind about whether he wants to be a reality-show host or run for president before the Peacock network unveils its fall lineup on Sunday, The Post has learned," Lois Weiss and Claire Atkinson wrote Friday for the New York Post.

"The real-estate magnate had previously said he would make his decision a few days after the finale of '[The] Celebrity Apprentice' on May 22, but NBC desperately needs the show to be in its fall schedule to pump up affiliates and advertisers ahead of its annual 'upfront' presentation on Monday."

Meanwhile, Ryan Chittum wrote Friday for the Columbia Journalism Review, "On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times took a good look at Donald Trump’s business empire and how he built it with the aid of government largesse. Today it’s The New York Times’s turn, and it’s even better, with an investigation by Michael Barbaro that raises serious questions about how Trump’s business interests increasingly ensnared consumers in the last several years in money-losing ventures, including shaky real estate developments and a bogus online 'university'."

Geraldine Baum, Tom Hamburger and Michael J. Mishak, McClatchy-Tribune Washington bureau: Trump has thrived with government's generosity 

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Journal-isms is originally published on journal-isms.com. Reprinted on The Root by permission.