gannett400
Gannett Building

In the wake of Tuesday's layoffs, the Gannett Co. is "tracking the impact to diversity and we work very hard to ensure no group has been adversely impacted," Gannett spokeswoman Robin Pence told Journal-isms on Wednesday. "As you know, Gannett is tremendously committed to diversity.

"We have maintained our percentage of female and minority employees over the last few years despite reductions and we work very hard to make sure it's a fair process for all employees."

The National Association of Black Journalists said in a statement Wednesday that it had "received reports that there are fewer or no people of color working as reporters, columnists, editors at some Gannett newspapers. NABJ is concerned about its members who are among the 2 percent of Gannett's current workforce who are being dismissed as company executives are rewarded with bonuses that exceed $1 million."

It also announced, "Our organization will compile a list of laid-off members to send them special assistance packages and provide job placement support. Membership for all laid-off employees will be extended six months from their current expiration dates so that these members will have access to services such as job postings at www.nabj.org. These displaced members also will be eligible for financial assistance to attend this year's Convention and Career Fair, scheduled Aug. 3-7 in Philadelphia."

It added, "From a business perspective, we want to remind Gannett that some corporations are strengthening their commitment to diversity as our nation becomes more brown and black. It makes good business sense. Our nation's history is replete with examples of what happens when newsrooms failed to recognize the growing African-American communities."

Doris Truong, national president of the Asian American Journalists Association, said in a message posted on the AAJA website, "I spoke today with a top executive at Gannett, and we are working to formalize a way in which AAJA can reach out to the affected employees to help them find other work in our industry."

The Native American Journalists Association added, "Diversity is a problem at mainstream newsrooms and layoffs compound the problem in coverage of communities of color. NAJA stands alongside its UNITY alliance partners to help those journalists affected by the layoffs.

"We are forwarding job positions to the Asian American Journalists Association’s (AAJA) president Doris Truong where the information will be shared via Facebook, Twitter, and AAJA’s website (www.aaja.org). We will post that information for our NAJA members that are affected as well."

* Max Showalter, Journal & Courier, Lafayette, Ind.: 2% of employees laid off at Gannett sites, including J&C.

* Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, N.Y.: 10 employees laid off at Democrat and Chronicle

* Lynn Hicks, Des Moines Register: Des Moines Register lays off 13 employees

* Julie Moos, Poynter Institute: Newsroom layoffs hurt us all

* Rick Redding, louisvilleky.com: C-J Layoffs Include Familiar Names

* Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic: Layoffs announced at The Arizona Republic

 

Jose Antonio Vargas Discloses He Is Undocumented

Jose Antonio Vargas, who shared in a Pulitzer Prize at the Washington Post and went on to become a senior contributing editor for the Huffington Post, discloses in the New York Times Magazine and in an ABC News interview that he has been in the United States illegally since he was a child.

"Over the past 14 years, I’ve graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I’ve created a good life. I’ve lived the American dream," he writes in the Times.

"But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me."

A preview of the ABC News interview is online, with Dan Harris' interview with Vargas airing Thursday on "World News with Diane Sawyer" and on "Nightline" and Friday on "Good Morning America," ABC says.

"After all of these years, Vargas is now outing himself as one of the millions in the United States who are living in the country illegally," Harris and Jake Whitman say in their ABC News story. "He is aware of the danger he is putting himself in, and that he could be sent back to the Philippines.

"Vargas says that he made up his mind last December when Congress failed to pass the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, a bill that would allow illegal immigrants who came to this country as children to become citizens, if they go to college or serve in the military.

"To shine a light on a massive problem, Vargas will be starting an online campaign at defineamerican.com to push for passage of the DREAM Act, which is currently stalled in Congress."

Vargas writes in the Times about how he arranged to secure driver's licenses and Social Security numbers but avoided situations where employers would dig too deeply.

"For more than a decade of getting part-time and full-time jobs, employers have rarely asked to check my original Social Security card. When they did, I showed the photocopied version, which they accepted. Over time, I also began checking the citizenship box on my federal I-9 employment eligibility forms. (Claiming full citizenship was actually easier than declaring permanent resident 'green card' status, which would have required me to provide an alien registration number.)

"This deceit never got easier. The more I did it, the more I felt like an impostor, the more guilt I carried — and the more I worried that I would get caught. But I kept doing it. I needed to live and survive on my own, and I decided this was the way. "

Vargas said he had to give up an internship at the Seattle Times when the Times asked all incoming interns to bring certain paperwork on their first day: a birth certificate, or a passport, or a driver’s license plus an original Social Security card.

However, Vargas was able to get an Oregon driver's license in time to work at the Washington Post, where he shared in a Pulitzer for the Post's coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings and became a rising star.

But, Vargas wrote, "About four months into my job as a reporter for The Post, I began feeling increasingly paranoid, as if I had 'illegal immigrant' tattooed on my forehead — and in Washington, of all places, where the debates over immigration seemed never-ending. I was so eager to prove myself that I feared I was annoying some colleagues and editors — and worried that any one of these professional journalists could discover my secret. The anxiety was nearly paralyzing."

Vargas confided in newsroom manager Peter Perl, director of newsroom training and professional development, but kept his status a secret when he moved on to the Huffington Post.

Mario Ruiz, vice president for communications at AOL, told Journal-isms Wednesday, "Jose left a year ago and his residency status is something that we're just finding out about."

Vargas wrote that he left "because I wanted to promote the documentary and write a book about online culture — or so I told my friends. But the real reason was, after so many years of trying to be a part of the system, of focusing all my energy on my professional life, I learned that no amount of professional success would solve my problem or ease the sense of loss and displacement I felt."

He also said:

"I’m done running. I’m exhausted. I don’t want that life anymore."

* Editorial, Al Dia, Philadelphia: McCain Fiddles While Arizona Burns

* Marisa Treviño, Latina Lista blog: I have a confession — I've helped undocumented immigrants

 

"Philips’ demand comes several days after his key unnamed source in the Shakur story revealed himself and corroborated Philips’ 2008 reporting.

" 'I want them to run a front-page retraction,' Philips, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, tells L.A. Weekly. 'Same size, same place.'

"Times management has not responded to requests by the Weekly for a comment. A front-page retraction is exceedingly rare in journalism.

"On June 15, Dexter Isaac, imprisoned in New York for murder, admitted to participating in the 1994 attack on Shakur that set off the East Coast–West Coast rap war. The Times has ignored Isaac’s corroboration of Philips' reporting, covering it dismissively the next day with short wire stories.

". . . The 2008 Times story ruined Philips’ career, he says, when FBI documents referenced throughout the story turned out to be fakes created by con man James Sabatino. Although the FBI documents were bogus, they had been attached to a case in federal court.

". . . Philips believes Isaac’s admission vindicates him — and he wants his reputation back. During nearly 20 years of reporting for the Times, 'I never had a major error in a story before,' Philips says. 'I had a couple small corrections. No serious drama.' "

 

Sharpton, West in Rematch Before Black Press on Friday

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Cornel West, the high-profile Princeton University professor, plan to revisit their widely publicized disagreement over President Obama's commitment to African American concerns Friday at the National Newspaper Publishers Association convention in Chicago.

George E. Curry, the NNPA columnist and veteran journalist, is to moderate the discussion.

He told Journal-isms the back story in this edited email:

"May 21, on my regular Friday appearance on Sharpton's radio show, I mentioned that seeing the exchange between him and Cornel on MSNBC's 'A Stronger America: The Black Agenda,' moderated by Ed Schultz, had been 'extremely painful' — those were my exact words. Sharpton replied that he, too, was pained, particularly since he and Cornel had been friends for two decades. On air, I said a discussion on Blacks and the Obama administration still needed to be held and that I would reach out to Cornel to see if that could be arranged.

"I offered to moderate the discussion. Sharpton said that was a good idea and he would be willing to participate. I sent an e-mail to Cornel . . . and he called me within a day or two, agreeing to my proposed June 24 date. I called Danny Bakewell," chairman of the NNPA, "who was excited about the idea and offered to alter the convention schedule to accommodate such a discussion. . . . Sharpton was scheduled to deliver a luncheon address on Friday, but we changed that to the discussion with Cornel.

"Because Cornel and Al always preach Black unity, I thought it was critical for them to demonstrate to Black America that the could come together after that acerbic exchange on MSNBC."

 

" 'Over the past two years, as promised, I have moved us toward the goal of returning NNPA to its rightful place as one of the most powerful and influential institutions in Black America,' Bakewell wrote in a May 19 letter to the more than 200 Black newspaper publishers also called the Black Press of America. 'It is my hope that the vision of responsible fiscal stewardship and securing advertising for all publishers, which the board of directors and I established and implanted during my administration, will continue with the next administration.'

". . . NNPA member sources told Trice Edney News Wire that Bakewell, publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, has endorsed the candidacy of Cloves Campbell, publisher of the nearly 45-year-old Arizona Informant and former member of the Arizona House of Representatives."

 

Emerge Magazine Revived as Small-Business Publication

Emerge magazine, an iconic magazine of the black politics, life and culture of the 1990s, has been revived by new owners as a publication catering to small businesses.

"Emerge showcases the companies and individuals that transform ideas into solutions and embody the contemporary entrepreneurial experience. We cover the achievements of start-ups, small businesses and success. Through our content, we provide industry insights and credible solutions to small businesses whether they are start-ups or have been operating successfully for years. Emerge illuminates stories and content to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit," the magazine says on its website.

The original Emerge was launched in 1989 by Time Inc. and was later purchased by BET, as theRoot.com recalled this year. "Emerge earned widespread respect for capturing black life and culture. The articles, which spanned the globe and won awards like Amnesty International USA's Media Spotlight Award, never ran away from controversial topics. BET turned over publishing control to Vanguarde Media in 2000, and the following year, the publishing house decided to combine Emerge with a new magazine: Savoy."

Emerge was edited first by the late Wilmer C. Ames Jr., then by George E. Curry.

The new Emerge was named last week as one of "the 30 Most Notable Launches of 2010" by Samir Husni, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi known as "Mr. Magazine."

"This magazine is like taking a page from the Harvard Business Review and adding a unique, emotional personal touch to its pages," Husni wrote.

The magazine has a New York address, but calls this week to its Atlanta telephone number reached only a voice mail that said the company also publishes Savoy. The website is registered to Atlanta businessman Lapink Green.

 

Sandra Thomas to Direct Univision Local, Affiliate News

"Univision news veteran Sandra Thomas has been named to the new position of senior director of local and affiliate news at the Spanish-language giant," Michael Malone reported Wednesday for Broadcasting & Cable. "She will be based in San Francisco and report to Daniel Coronell, vice president, Univision News, and Kevin Cuddihy, president, Univision Television Group.

"Univision also announced that Marco Flores has been named news director at KMEX Los Angeles, reporting to Thomas and KMEX general manager Alberto Mier y Terán.

". . . Thomas will oversee all news content for Univision affiliates and will 'serve as the nexus with network news,' said Univision in a statement. Since March of 2009, she has been Univision Television Group's news operations group regional news director supervisor and news director of KDTV San Francisco, a position she held since 1997."

 

Short Takes

* "Sixteen ideas that push the future of news and information will receive $4.7 million in funding as winners of the Knight News Challenge, an international media innovation contest funding digital news experiments that inform and engage communities, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced on Wednesday. "The ideas come from leading Internet entrepreneurs including Tim Hwang and Jesse James Garrett, and top legacy newsrooms like the Associated Press and Chicago Tribune, and originate in North Carolina, Chile and the U.K. Together, they employ a range of techniques for delivering news and information in the digital age."

* Journalists of color accompanying first lady Michelle Obama and family members in South Africa include Darlene Superville of the Associated Press, Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post, freelancer Lola Ogunnaike for Black Entertainment Television and Kristin Welker of NBC, Thompson told Journal-isms.

* Seven entries were recognized "for their organizations' ongoing commitment to covering the cultural diversity of the communities they serve" in the 12th Annual RTDNA/UNITY Awards sponsored by the Radio-Television Digital News Association and Unity: Journalists of Color. Topics included obesity in Mississippi and Muslims in Michigan. Watch or listen to the winners here.

* "On Wednesday, SavetheNews.org launched 'Change the Channels,' a new campaign focused on exposing the new face of media consolidation. Across the country, hundreds of TV stations have quietly merged newsrooms, circumventing the Federal Communications Commission’s media ownership limits at the expense of independent, local journalism," the activist group Free Press announced.

* Wishing a happy 70th birthday to her late husband, CBS News correspondent Ed Bradley, Patricia Blanchet emailed the photo below to friends and colleagues and said, "While he would no doubt have hated yet another decade, we all know he would have been just as hip and fly and compelling and engaging as ever." Bradley, a Journal-isms reader, died at age 65 in 2006.

* "Brian Lam, editor of Gizmodo, is leaving Gawker’s popular gadget and technology blog," David Carr reported Wednesday for the New York Times. "Mr. Lam, a journo-technologist with the soul of an artist — his ocean-centric sideline site is called The Scuttlefish — is not precisely sure what he is going to do next, although he has been in talks with Atlantic Media about helping develop the Washington-based media company’s coverage of technology."

* Jozen Cummings, arts and culture reporter for Blackvoices.com, now part of the Huffington Post Media Group, left the company suddenly as Black Voices continued its transition under Huffington Post leadership. "I want to continue to work in online journalism like I have been for the better part of five years," Cummings told Journal-isms by email on Wednesday. "What matters to me most is being at a publication where I can grow, learn, and contribute."

* "Telemundo network news anchor José Diaz-Balart will substitute anchor [for] Contessa Brewer this week on 'MSNBC Live,' " Veronica Villafañe reported for her Media Moves site. "José will also anchor 'Noticiero Telemundo' live from New York this week, making him the first journalist in U.S. television to anchor both an English and a Spanish-language newscast in two networks simultaneously."

* Associated Press Sports Editors and Association for Women in Sports Media will co-sponsor a convention next summer in Chicago, APSE President Phil Kaplan told members last week. The two groups "partnered together for the first time in April to co-host a panel discussion on the challenges women continue to face in our industry. It proved to be a springboard for future joint events."

* "Africa, specifically the southern region, is going through a transition much like the U.S. did several years with the change-over from analog to digital transmission," Franklin McMahon reported Tuesday for Broadcast Engineering. "Africa is moving toward the European DVB-T2 digital standard and has several deadlines to move things along. The timetable for the region targets the end of 2013, which provides breathing room to make the switch and incorporate the digital technology. The real deadline however is a bit later, in 2015, when the International Telecommunication Union will no longer support analog TV transmissions."

* In Mexico, "Reporters Without Borders is shocked to learn that Miguel Ángel López Velasco, an editor and columnist with the local online daily Notiver, was shot dead along with his wife and his son in their home in the east coast city of Veracruz early yesterday, just seven days after a reporter was found murdered in the northwestern state of Sonora," the press freedom group said Tuesday.

* Reporting on Congo, Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday it "is deeply saddened by yesterday’s murder of Kambale Musonia, a journalist working for Radio Communautaire de Lubero Sud in Kirumba, in the eastern province of Nord-Kivu. Aged 29, Musonia was shot three times in the chest at close range at around 7:30 p.m. by three unidentified men who were waiting for him outside his home as he returned from work."

* "The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Ethiopian authorities today to immediately release journalist Woubshet Taye . . . who has been held since Sunday," the group said Tuesday. "Police picked up Taye, deputy editor of the leading independent weekly Awramba Times, at his home in the capital, Addis Ababa, at 3 p.m. and confiscated several documents, cameras, CDs, and selected copies of Awramba Times, local journalists told CPJ. The newspaper covers politics in-depth. . . . Ethiopia's press law prohibits pre-trial detention of journalists, but two journalists of the state-controlled national broadcaster have been held on vague criminal charges for over a year."