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New York Times Building (Getty)

The New York Times Co. is not attending the National Association of Black Journalists convention next year. "We are supporting Unity," Desiree Dancy, vice president, diversity and inclusion, told Journal-isms on Friday.

"We're disappointed in the fact that NABJ pulled out of Unity and yet this is a time where the organizations are needed to come together more than ever," she said.

Dancy said the Times would continue to work with NABJ in the Times' Student Journalism Institute, a boot camp for college journalism students, and the NABJ-New York Times Leadership Academy, "a training program designed to help journalists who have been newly promoted to newsroom positions to prepare for careers in newsroom management."

Kathy Y. Times, president of NABJ, said the Times' participation in NABJ conventions has been minimal.

"We respect the New York Times' right to participate or not to participate in our 2012 convention, but over the years their participation has been at a minimal level," Times told Journal-isms on Friday. She was on her way to a meeting with Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, about NABJ's concerns about representations of black journalists in front of and behind the camera.

"Our records show the Times has not been a sponsor of NABJ since before 2008. They have only purchased an exhibit booth (approx $2,000 or less)," she continued via email. "Again, this year, they are only exhibiting in the career fair ($2,000). We look forward to having the Times' participation at this year's convention and its continued support of the leadership academy and student program in New Orleans. My request is that they will pay for the registrations of employees who would normally get support for attending an NABJ convention."

Sulzberger endorsed Gregory Lee Jr., senior assistant sports editor at the Boston Globe, a New York Times Co. property. As NABJ treasurer, Lee successfully made the case to fellow NABJ board members that Unity's financial arrangements were not to NABJ's advantage.

"We support him as president of NABJ and he knows our position on this," Dancy said of Lee. The Times made its position known throughout the year, she said. "We had a conversation with Greg when we heard rumors that this was a possibility," and then spoke with Lee and Times after the board voted in April to leave the coalition.

"Resources are tight, and aside from that, it's also about the organizations coming together as one force and the issue of diversity," she said.

The Times plans a booth at the Unity job fair, recruiting efforts and expects to send a number of employees, she said.

NABJ announced on Thursday that it has chosen New Orleans as the site for its 2012 convention on June 20-24. Unity meets Aug. 1-4 in Las Vegas. 

At the Chicago Tribune, Sheila R. Solomon, cross media editor who has been senior editor for recruiting, said Friday that the issue of support for the 2012 conventions "honestly has not yet come up in conversation."

. . . NABJ Presidential Hopefuls React to N.Y. Times Decision

Deirdre M. Childress, entertainment/film/weekend editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, said:

"The withdrawal of support for NABJ by the New York Times is a valuable lesson for all of us. The belief that a mainstream, non-minority, entity believes it can control the actions of our organization really illustrates the need for a strong, independent organization!

"For us to be true to our members and to the populations we serve, we can never, ever let a large corporation control our agenda. That is why when the subject of company endorsements came up I stressed that the most important endorsements come from our founders like Acel Moore and from the support of our members. They are the people who hold us accountable. I will lead and be held accountable for them, of them, and by them.

"If elected President next Friday, I will work to increase our independent revenues so that we can maintain our professional integrity. I will also work with our partner organizations and former partner organizations (such as UNITY) to always look for the best way to promote NABJ's members and purpose. We can build bridges with partner organizations but our agreements must be based on what is best for NABJ. I stand committed to the founders and members of NABJ, and if voters support my leadership, I will work tirelessly on their behalf to make our organization even greater."

Childress is NABJ's vice president/print.

Gregory Lee Jr., senior assistant sports editor at the Boston Globe, said:

"The New York Times' decision not to attend the 2012 NABJ Convention in New Orleans is a disappointing one. However, there is a lot of time between now and June 2012. I am hopeful that the company will reconsider its position. The partnership between NABJ and The Times is very important. From the NYT Journalism Institute to the NYT Leadership Academy, we have been proud to partner with the Times to serve NABJ members. I hope this vital work will continue.

"I plan to meet with the New York Times leadership face to face with regard to this matter. There are a lot of misconceptions about NABJ’s decision to leave the UNITY: Journalists of Color organization. NABJ believes our reasons for exiting the partnership, including but not limited to a lack of accountability, the lack of an aggressive advocacy plan, as well as the fact that NABJ could no longer afford to use an outdated financial model as we endeavor to thrive as an organization, serve our members and live up to our mission.

"NABJ is committed to being a forward-thinking organization which is responsive yet responsible.

"It should also be noted that NABJ is committed to continuing strategic alliances with the other journalists of color in ways that are mutually beneficial, and provide each party with the right return on investment. It is an exciting time to be a partner with NABJ. Our membership numbers are approaching 3,500. We expect our attendance in Philadelphia in upwards of 2,500. We have exceeded all of our goals, especially in sponsorship, which is up $500,000 over last year. We accomplished much during a struggling economy.

"I am looking forward to having a successful convention in Philadelphia this year and in New Orleans in 2012."

Lee is NABJ treasurer.

Charles Robinson III, a reporter for Maryland Public Television, said:

"I am buoyed by the number of firms who have partnered with us on the eve of one of the most successful NABJ conventions. We are nearly 3,500 members strong with 2,500 descending on the city of Philadelphia next week.

"Our partners recognize our programming is at the cutting edge with nearly $200,000 in training to equip our members with tools they need for the next generation of journalism. They get value for the dollars they spend and they 'get it.' Diversity is a high priority for them and me.

"Next year when we go to New Orleans our efforts to increase training, career advancement and advocacy will be even stronger. Members will have a choice on where to spend their hard-earned dollars and will look at supporters who believe in our mission.

"I want to chart a future where the past is prologue for the new innovations in journalism. I like the focus on the J and those who believe NABJ will lead this revolution.

"I stand ready and my door and phone will be available to any media organization that sees our mission as a greater calling than a bottom line number on a spreadsheet. Value that's what you want, not empty rhetoric about what you hope."

Robinson represents the mid-Atlantic states on the NABJ board.

"Bully Tactic," Says Former NABJ, Unity President

Barbara Ciara, immediate past president of Unity: Journalists of Color and immediate past president of the National Association of Black Journalists, submitted this comment:

Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., New York Times publisher, "has been pressing this issue (with me) of the UNITY partners — having a UNITY convention more often than every four years — since 2007. While I was running for president he made it a point to push this issue, again.

"This public announcement amounts to a 'bully tactic' in my opinion to push an agenda that this newspaper owner has been peddling for several years. The fact that Arthur has been a member for 25 years and chooses not to support the organization that he has the most tenure with sends a signal in my opinion that he is trying to push his business model down the throats of our membership.

"Sponsors choose every year to attend the four conventions — it shouldn’t be an either/or situation — he is making a show. NABJ still believes in the diversity and advocacy issues embraced by the alliance partners (and we will continue to add our voice to the chorus on those issues) but as the NABJ board of directors concluded — the business model didn’t work for NABJ.

"What if NABJ suggested that the New York Times should merge with the Los Angeles Times to save more money? We don’t tell them how to run their business and they sure as hell shouldn’t tell us how to run ours."

Sharpton Said to Be Political Asset to Comcast, Radio One

"Al Sharpton wasn’t just pleasing prospective employer MSNBC when he became the first major black leader to endorse the controversial Comcast/NBC merger. It turns out he was also enriching his current employer, Radio One, the largest black-owned radio company in the country, which has paid him more money than he’s made anywhere else in his life," Wayne Barrett reported Thursday in the Daily Beast.

Radio One owns 'Keepin' It Real'"The Daily Beast has already reported that just months after Sharpton played a pivotal role in pushing the merger, he became a regular substitute host and appears now to be in line for a fulltime anchor post on Comcast’s MSNBC. As awkward as that coincidence is, how about a conflict of interest he did not disclose in his letters to the Federal Communications Commission — or his other pro-merger activities?

"He was trumpeting a merger that’s already paid dividends to Radio One and its affiliate TV One, which reportedly pay him $700,000-a-year for his six-year-old radio show, commentary, and other appearances on TV One, and occasional blogging on their joint website, NewsOne."

Alfred Liggins, chairman of TV One and the CEO and president of Radio One, and his mother, Cathy Hughes, own more than 90 percent of the voting shares of the radio company, Barrett wrote.

". . . Sharpton has actually been much more useful to Liggins and Hughes politically than he has been as a performer. In addition to pushing a merger that may have helped deliver full control of a TV network to them, he joined them in a recent, bombastic campaign against a piece of legislation introduced" by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., "when the Democrats controlled the House that would have required radio stations to pay artists for the songs they play. His TV show for TV One, on the other hand, was a bomb. Called 'Smart Talk,' this barbershop conversation show died after 12 episodes in 2005, unable to attract a large enough black audience. Even though Radio One owns his radio show, 'Keeping It Real,' the network’s Atlanta station dropped it in 2009, reportedly due to paltry ratings, and Sharpton had to find a new home with another network in Atlanta."

Sharpton was not quoted in the article.  

L.A. Times Veteran Randy Hagihara Takes Buyout

Randy Hagihara, senior editor, Metpro and internships at the Los Angeles Times, has taken a buyout, Hagihara told Journal-isms on Friday. He spoke amid another round of layoffs that included media columnist Tim Rutten.

Randy Hagihara

"Yes, I took the buyout," Hagihara said by email. "Metpro will continue. The Times has a class of six starting in September and has the total support of Editor Russ Stanton and Publisher/Tribune CEO Eddy Hartenstein.

"It was my privilege and honor to direct the program for so long. It was the best job in journalism. But it's time to try something new." Tracy Boucher, director of newsroom development, and Randy Harvey, associate editor, are now to oversee Metpro.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Hagihara has been a senior editor for recruitment since January 1990.

Metpro is a diversity program that began at the old Times Mirror Co. and is now centralized at the Los Angeles newspaper.

Metpro candidates train with the paper for six months and, if all goes well, they work their way through the newsroom as two-year temps. Those who successfully complete the program become L.A. Times staffers.

Richard Horgan reported Friday for FishbowlLA that Rutten spoke with KPCC-FM 89.3 morning host Madeleine Brand.

" 'Whatever the merits of your work, to be older and to be collecting a relatively large paycheck was to have a kind of target on your back,' he says, admitting that he was surprised but not shocked by the news," Horgan reported.

" 'After the paper was acquired by Tribune in 2000, there’s been an unbroken record of disaster. It’s now a shell of what it was 10 years ago. Readers get less and less for more money.' "

*Tanzina Vega, New York Times: More Layoffs at The Los Angeles Times

"When the debate over the park was finished and the proposal nixed, some of those people decided they didn’t want to walk away from their neighbors on such bad terms. Instead, they decided they would use the dog park debate as starting point toward building relationships across racial lines.

"Thus, a handful neighbors — black and white, old and young and on both sides of I-35W — began meeting in an effort to better understand each other and how race and racism affects communities.

"The group, Building Bridges, is now rolling out several community initiatives, including a community read this fall of 'The Grace of Silence,' a memoir about race and family by South Minneapolis native and National Public Radio host Michele Norris."

Norris also began a Race Card Project in which participants start a conversation by writing just six words on a postcard. Some of the contributions: "You talk like a white girl," "Step on backs to raise yourself" and "I assume black women hate me."

Norris is scheduled to appear with Gwen Ifill, Ellis Cose, Eugene Robinson and Soledad O’Brien on a panel at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Philadelphia next week, "When Media Becomes the Memoir."

Norris told Journal-isms, "I am encouraging people to think about the elders in their families, their neighborhoods, their fraternities and sororities or their church communities, and to take the time to record their stories. I hope that NABJ members use their story-telling and reporting skills to find the 'I' in history . . . because many of the stories our families kept hidden away won’t be found in history books, and might go to the grave if we don’t make the effort to preserve those memories while we still can."

Columnist Heads for Trouble With Column on Hair

John W. Fountain, a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times who often writes about issues of black self-esteem, waded last week into what his wife warned would be controversial territory.

"Un-be-weave-able!" he wrote.

"Nearly everywhere I look, I see it — hair weave flowing, flapping in the breeze — blonde, brown, black, glossy and streaked. It approaches from the distance, like a mirage, a silhouette of cosmetic homogeneity that has been stitched or glued to the heads of my African-American sisters, some replete with eyelashes that look like sun visors.

"Whether on full-grown women or little school-age girls, I see it. Indeed it is hard to miss this conspicuous consumption and indulgence in this post-modern ritual of beautification that leaves me lately scratching my bald head.

"The hair, synthetic or someone else’s — worn as full headdress, as a phony pony (tail), or clip-on bang — is, in the words of many a sister, simply a matter of choice. Still, I cannot help but wonder whether this apparent weave explosion does not have a much deeper, more insidious root with consequences and implications beyond what eyes can see.

"My wife has assured me that by opening this can of worms, I will get lots of hate mail."  

*Janell Hazelwood, Black Enterprise: Black Businesswomen Banking on Hair

*Elizabeth Wellington, Philadelphia Inquirer: CNN. Black Women. Natural Hair. I'm so over it

Almost 45 Percent of U.S. Young Are Children of Color

"In the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF)’s new report on The State of America’s Children® 2011, we give a comprehensive overview on the well-being of America’s children," Marian Wright Edelman, president of the fund, wrote on Friday.

"But just who are America’s children and families today? Children make up almost one in four of the people living in the United States today. More than one-quarter of our nation’s children are young—infants, toddlers, or preschoolers. They are the poorest age group in America. And the younger they are the poorer they are — cheating them in the years of greatest brain development. In chapters on child population and family structure we take a closer look, and a national child and family portrait begins to emerge.

"One of the most striking facts about America’s children is the rapidly blurring distinction between who is a 'minority' child and who is in the 'majority.' Today, almost 45 percent of America’s young are children of color, and by 2019 — just eight years away — they will be the majority of our child population.

"In fact, the majority of children are already children of color in the District of Columbia and nine states — Hawaii, New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Maryland, and Georgia. Of the 74.5 million children in America, 41.2 million (55.3%) are White, non-Hispanic; 16.8 million (22.5%) are Hispanic; 11.3 million (15.1%) are Black; 3.5 million (4.7%) are Asian/Pacific Islander; and 951,000 (1.3%) are American Indian/Alaska Native. The number of Hispanic children has increased every year since 1980, rising from 5.3 million in 1980 to 17 million in 2009. The number of White children has decreased every year since 1994, and the number of Black children has remained steady over the past two decades."  

*Cary Clack, San Antonio Express-News: Our role in what students become

*Jerry Large, Seattle Times: The state of America's children  

*Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Welfare cutoff will be cruel to kids

Short Takes

*"Starting in September, WEWS Channel 5 reporter Curtis Jackson will be living on the air in Cincinnati — that's Cincinnati, WKRC. Jackson is leaving the Cleveland ABC affiliate station to co-anchor the 5:30 p.m. news at WKRC Channel 12 and anchor the 10 p.m. news on its sister digital station, Channel 12.2," Mark Dawidziak reported Thursday for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

*"Michelle Hord-White is leaving ABC News to become vice president of talent development and pipeline programs at NBC Universal, ABC News president Ben Sherwood announced yesterday in a memo to staff," Merrill Knox reported Friday for TVNewser. "Hord-White is currently the director of talent recruitment and development at ABC. She began with the network in 1998 as a producer on 'Good Morning America,' working as a deputy in the field and series unit before graduating to senior producer for the second hour."

*"Helga Silva, award-winning journalist and broadcast executive with more than 20 years of experience, will join NBCU’s Telemundo affiliate WSCV Miami (DMA 16) effective Aug. 1," heading the news department, Mark K. Miller reported Friday for TVNewsCheck. "Silva, a former news director in New York and Miami, joins WSCV from the Telemundo network, where, as co-executive producer, she helped launch the unsolved crimes program 'Persiguiendo Injusticias.' "

*"Craig Melvin continues to climb the broadcast journalism ranks. On Wednesday morning, it was announced that he will be joining MSNBC," Otis R. Taylor Jr. reported Wednesday for the State in Columbia, S.C. "Melvin, a former WIS-10 anchor, left the local station in 2008 for WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. Like the cable network MSNBC, WRC is owned by NBC. . . . In October, he’ll marry Lindsay Czarniak, a former WRC sports reporter who recently announced her move to ESPN."

*"I received word that Fox 26 KRIV reporter (and former anchor) Pattie Shieh has left the station," Houston's Mike McGuff reported Tuesday on his website. 'Her last day was Friday July 15th. 'Pattie’s contract has not been renewed,' A FOX 26 spokesperson told mikemcguff.com. 'An extensive search for her replacement is underway.' "

*Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a historian who identified the trigger man in the Malcolm X assassination as William Bradley, about 72 years old, and known today as Mustafa Shabazz, wrote Thursday that he was disappointed by the Justice Department's decision not to reopen the case. "At this historic moment when our country is now governed by a black president and a black attorney general, we cannot allow this unfortunate ruling to stand and we believe it won’t stand. The call for justice for Malcolm X and his family will only intensify with each passing day, and we will do our part to ensure that happens," he wrote on his blog.

*Talia Buford, formerly a legal affairs reporter at the Providence (R.I.) Journal, has joined Politico Pro, the subscription service of Politico. "I've been here since July 5 — so just about 3 weeks," she told Journal-isms by email. "I cover natural gas and fracking issues specifically. I'd taken a leave of absence from the Providence Journal last year to come to DC to earn a master's degree from Georgetown Law. I accepted the job at Politico about a month or so after graduating."

*"Two months ago, Bill O'Reilly put on his cultural warrior cap and railed against President Barack Obama for inviting hip hop artist Common to the White House," Eriq Gardner wrote Wednesday for the Hollywood Reporter. "Now, thanks to a photograph of an African American activist that was shown to punctuate one of O'Reilly's key points, News Corp and Fox News are being sued for copyright infringement. [Delphine Fawundu-Buford], a New York-based photographer, filed the lawsuit in New York federal court." The photo was of former Black Panther Assata Shakur.

*"After 16 years as a KVUE anchor, Olga Campos announced on the air she was leaving the station. Her last day was today," Veronica Villafañe wrote Friday on her Media Moves site, referring to the Austin anchor. "I’ve decided it’s time for a change. I want to take some time to reflect and be with my family. My father passed away recently… It has been an amazing 16 years…I appreciate so much being invited into your homes. I consider you and my co-workers here on Daybreak my second family,' Olga told the audience yesterday morning."

*"High Plains Broadcasting, the duopoly partner of Newport Television in six markets, has agreed to sell KFTY San Francisco to Spanish-language station group Una Vez Mas, it was announced Thursday," Harry A. Jessell reported Thursday for TVNewsCheck. ". . . Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Dallas, Una Vez Mas is the largest affiliate group of Azteca America, a Mexico-based network that reaches nearly 90% of Hispanic homes in the U.S."

*"In the port city of Veracruz, Mexico, reporters are fleeing for their lives or are in hiding, according to Notiver, the city's principal newspaper, and local reporters," Mike O'Connor reported Friday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "This flight began on Wednesday after the decapitated body of Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, a police beat reporter for Notiver for nearly three decades, was found near the building of Imagen, another local newspaper."

*"The Senegalese state-controlled radio and TV Corporation, Radio Télévision Sénégalaise (RTS), is experiencing an internal struggle for editorial freedom as Senegal moves toward a presidential election on February 26," Samboudian Kamara reported Friday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. ". . . On July 20, the local media trade union, SYNPICS, held a sit-in at the gates of RTS studios to protest the station's editorial line, which, they said, is 'too dedicated to the electioneering propaganda of PDS,' the ruling party of President Abdoulaye Wade." In the United States, Wade has forged ties with the National Association of Black Journalists.

*"Journalists in Zimbabwe are concerned over a fresh warning that they face being jailed, if they report on issues discussed in cabinet," Irene Madongo reported Wednesday for the London-based SW Radio Africa. "It is understood that the government plans to use the Official Secrets Act to silence the media, as it forges ahead with its culture of keeping ordinary Zimbabweans in the dark."

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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.