charles_robinson3420x285
Charles Robinson III

Association Founder Sees "a Cancer on Our Organization"

Charles Robinson III Monday became the second candidate in the race for president of the National Association of Black Journalists to tout an endorsement from his employer, but DeWayne Wickham, a founder and past president of the association, said such endorsements are "a cancer on our organization that eats away at a core value."

Gregory Lee Jr., the association's treasurer, last week posted an endorsement from New York Times Co. CEO Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. Lee is senior assistant sports editor at the Boston Globe, a Times Co. property.

In response, Robinson, a reporter at Maryland Public Television and a regional representative on the NABJ board, told Journal-isms on Friday, "I will also have an endorsement from my employer. I think [journalists] are pretty smart and look beyond endorsements. It's ideas that will chart the future of this organization and I am prepared to debate them at any forum at any venue."

On Monday, Robinson followed up with an endorsement from Larry D. Unger, president and CEO of Maryland Public Television.

The five-paragraph letter praised Robinson's dedication to helping young journalists and extolled his leadership abilities. It concluded:

"NABJ needs a leader like you to chart its future. You are a person who has [a] keen eye on what is possible and tangible. Although I cannot cast a vote in the upcoming NABJ elections, I would certainly urge the association's members to select you as their next leader. Best wishes!"

The third candidate, Deirdre M. Childress, entertainment/film/weekend editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the NABJ vice preident/print, posted an endorsement Monday from Irving Randolph of the black newspaper the Philadelphia Tribune, saying, "Now more than ever it is important that we retain our independence to support our communities of color. The African American press has always been at the vanguard in this area."

On Friday, she said, "I am extremely happy to have four years of support of my employer, Philadelphia Media Network, which has donated more than $20,000 in cash and services to the Philadelphia convention this year, including the printing of the NABJ student Monitor with online support."

She said of Robinson's endorsement Monday, "I'm ready to talk about the issues and the vision for the future of NABJ.

"The key is independence and what we are going to do about the future of our organization. What is important is establishing partners who provide jobs and significant financial support for digital journalism training. We have to maintain a position that allows us to call major news organizations to task for racist policies, reporting and hiring practices -- lack of diversity in management."

This election will be won on hard work and the votes of members. The ultimate endorsement still comes from our members at the ballot box and I am asking them to Check Childress."

Wickham, a columnist at USA Today and interim chairman of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at North Carolina A&T State University, said his comments were not directed at any one candidate. But he said he disapproved of "not only soliciting but bandying about the endorsement . . . of an organization at a time when black employment in the newspaper industry is down nearly 35 percent over the last decade.

"We were . . . focused on monitoring the media in terms of coverage of its black community and its employment of blacks. That was our founding principle. That was a raison d'etre for coming together," Wickham said of NABJ's founding in 1975.

"Who expects" an employee endorsed by his or her employer "to challenge that organization on their employment policies or their coverage of the black community? I'd like to know what percentage of blacks currently work at these organizations this year as opposed to five years ago. . . .

"Let's look at the videotape," he said of the Times. "Is this the paper that sacked Gerald Boyd," its first black managing editor?

According to Wayne Dawkins' 1997 book, "Black Journalists: The NABJ Story," Wickham said he did not accept any money from his employer when he ran for office in 1987. He told Journal-isms on Monday that to help preserve board members' independence, as NABJ president he established a fund to provide $10,000 a year for each to travel his or her region and to attend board meetings.

But two other former presidents, Merv Aubespin and Al Fitzpatrick, said in Dawkins' book that the candidates who accept employer support would not automatically be compromised. "The ethics is in the people who hold the office," Aubespin said.

Policies on seeking and accepting endorsements from employers are not the only ones that have changed as NABJ has evolved. In 1989, NABJ evicted the CIA and FBI from its job fair on grounds that journalists should not be seen as being in collusion with agencies whose employees had posed as journalists. But the CIA returned to recruit a few years ago without incident.

Early members of NABJ largely paid their own way to NABJ events, but now many members say they will come only if they are on their employers' dime. A well-known anchor, asked recently if he were coming to the NABJ convention, replied, "I haven't been invited." Told that story, Wickham said the appropriate response was, "Ida B. Wells invited you. W.E.B. Du Bois invited you. T. Thomas Fortune invited you," referring to iconic black journalists of the past.

Asked the significance of the Maryland Public Television endorsement, Robinson said, "Employers should and must support their employees who run for NABJ leadership positions. We take our time and resources to fulfill the mission of NABJ. My employer has never paid for my registration nor my trips on behalf of NABJ. I pay. It comes from my bank account. There is no quid pro quo."

"When Ruby Bridges visited the Oval Office on July 15, President Obama told her, 'I think it's fair to say that if it wasn't for you guys, I wouldn't be here today,' " William Allman wrote Friday on the White House blog.

Bridges was the 6-year-old immortalized in a Norman Rockwell painting on the cover of Look magazine on Jan. 14, 1964.

"November 14, 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of six-year-old Ruby's history-changing walk to the William [Frantz] Public School in New Orleans as part of court-ordered integration in 1960. Six years after the 1954 United States Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education declared that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional, this event represented a victory for the American Civil Rights Movement," Allman wrote.

"Bridges was at the White House to see how a painting commemorating this personal and historic milestone looks hanging on the wall outside of the Oval Office. American artist Norman Rockwell was criticized by some when this painting first appeared on the cover of Look magazine on January 14, 1964; now the iconic portrait will be on display throughout the summer of 2011 in one of the most exalted locations in the country."

Administration Said to Attempt to Exclude Fox News

"Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has uncovered documents from the Obama Department of Treasury showing that the Obama administration, contrary to its repeated denials, attempted to exclude the Fox News Channel (FNC) from a round of interviews with Treasury's 'Executive Pay Czar' Kenneth Feinberg," TVWeek reported on Friday, referencing the conservative watchdog group.

". . . internal Obama administration emails obtained by Judicial Watch provide evidence that FNC was specifically singled out for exclusion. According to one October 22, 2009, email exchange between Dag Vega, Director of Broadcast Media on the White House staff, to Jenni LeCompte, then-Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the Treasury Department, Vega informs LeCompte that '...we'd prefer if you skip Fox please,' " Judicial Watch wrote on Thursday.

* Michael Arceneaux, theGrio.com: Are we too quick to blame race for Obama attacks?

* Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: More Blacks Need Jobs, Mr. President

* Tom Joyner, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Next

* Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: Time To Shut Down Ideological Purists in Debt Ceiling Fight

* Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Hello Great Depression: Goodbye Obama

* Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The GOP's dangerous debt game

* Armstrong Williams blog: McConnell Plan a Red Herring

"Even the most straight-laced reporters sometimes envy the fun that the scandal-sheet folks must have, chasing scoops at any cost. The problem with the scandal that brought down Rupert Murdoch's News of the World is that the cost proved to be too high.

'We certainly have had more than enough of our own pay-for-scoops scandals on this side of the Big Pond.

"We have seen such dust-ups as the Cincinnati Enquirer's acknowledgement in 1998 that a reporter illegally obtained voice-mail messages from a company executive at Chiquita Brands International Inc. The newspaper apologized on its front page and paid $10 million to Chiquita.

"More recently we have seen such questionable ethics as the $200,000 ABC News paid Casey Anthony for photos and video of her missing 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, a day before Anthony was charged with child neglect and endangerment. Anthony later was indicted for murder, a charge that she was famously or, for many observers, infamously acquitted of recently.

"Yet, despite the many complaints from critics about the news media getting worse, the growth of media competition actually has improved the ability of media to get stories right - and to get them ethically.

". . . The resounding lesson from this unfolding scandal might begin with this: When you constantly push the boundaries around a bonfire, you eventually get burned.

". . . There's a warning here for journalists everywhere: Chasing scoops can be fun, but don't forget to take yourself and your audience seriously."

* David Carr, New York Times: Troubles That Money Can't Dispel

* Bill Carter, New York Times: Fox, CNN And MSNBC To Cover Murdoch Hearing

* Editorial, Wall Street Journal: News and Its Critics

* Roy Greenslade, the Guardian, Britain: How Murdoch's philosophy created a climate of misbehaviour

* Howard Kurtz, the Daily Beast: Murdoch's PR Efforts Sunk

* Joe Nocera, New York Times: The Journal Becomes Fox-ified

"Pedro Rojas, Executive Editor of La Opinión newspaper in Los Angeles, has resigned," Veronica Villafañe reported Friday on her Media Moves site. "His last day on the job is July 22. He has been with the paper for the past 8 years.

" 'I needed a break,' he tells me. 'In this job you have to be on call 24 hours a day, every day. I've been in the business a long time. Now I need to relax for a few months.'

"Pedro recently started mentoring high school students, taking on the role of Co-Editor and Publisher of the bilingual community newspaper and website Boyle Heights Beat/Pulso de Boyle Heights. He says he will continue to volunteer for that project during his 'temporary retirement.' "

From 2004 to 2005, Rojas served as executive editor at El Diario/La Prensa in New York.

"Before joining La Opinión in 2003, Rojas worked at El Nuevo Dia for 27 years, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the last six as managing editor," according to his bio.

Gary Reaves Retiring From Dallas' WFAA-TV

"Reporter Gary Reaves, a stalwart at WFAA8 in two tenures totaling 24 years, is retiring from the Dallas-based station. His last day will be on August 1st," veteran television writer Ed Bark reported Saturday on his Dallas-based Uncle Barky's blog.

"Reaves rejoined WFAA8 in 1991 after working five years for CBS News. His first shift at WFAA8 was from 1982 to 1986. Later Saturday, he forwarded the note he sent to his station colleagues Friday.

" 'It is with mixed emotions that I have come to the decision to make a change in my career,' Reaves said. 'After 35 years of going to work every day in a newsroom, I have decided it is time for me to move on. It is difficult to decide to leave WFAA. I have had most of the best moments of my work life here. I have been blessed to work with many of the best people in the business. I have been privileged to travel the world, from East Texas to East Jerusalem, from South Africa to South Dallas. However, after some 10,000 days on deadline, I have decided it is time to take a break.' "

Short Takes

* Sundra Hominik has joined the Times-News in Hendersonville, N.C., a New York Times Co. property, as enterprise/features editor, a Times Co. spokesman confirmed on Monday. Hominik, with more than 25 years in journalism, has been senior editor at Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch; managing editor at the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and features editor at the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal.

* Cleveland's "WEWS did not renew the contracts of morning anchors Kimberly Gill and Pete Kenworthy, TVSpy has learned," TVSpy reported on Monday. " 'My contract with WEWS was set to expire August 5, 2011,' Gill told TVSpy in an email. 'I was told Tuesday, July 5, 2011 that it would not be renewed.' "

* "Singer Chris Brown performed on the 'Today' show this morning as part of the Summer Concert Series," Chris Ariens reported Friday for TVNewser. "But there was one glaring omission: the interview. ". . . And while the 'Today' anchors were prepped to chat with Brown, insiders tell us Brown's camp backed out at the last minute. Brown, you'll recall, flipped out after an interview with Robin Roberts on 'Good Morning America' in March. Brown later apologized for the outburst." NBC spokeswomen did not respond to requests for comment.

* In Jordan, "Scores of journalists demonstrated in front of the Jordan Press Association (JPA) office in Amman on Sunday to protest police attacks on media personnel during a peaceful pro-reform rally two days earlier," Deutsche Press-Agentur reported on Sunday. "At least 20 people, including 10 journalists, were hurt when policemen used force Friday to disperse hundreds of activists who belonged to a coalition of youth movements calling themselves the July 15 gathering."

* An information revolution is quietly unfolding in Kenya, potentially allowing the public greater access to government data and independent local news," Tom Rhodes reported for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "This month, the nation became a regional leader in open government with the launch of a website providing easy access to volumes of public information. Journalists can tap into public budget data with relative ease through the government portal."

* "USA Today published a useful investigation today (7/15/11) finding that 'rates of violent crime along the U.S./Mexico border have been falling for years,' that U.S. border cities are 'statistically safer on average than other cities in their states' and 'border cities, big and small, have maintained lower crime rates than the national average, which itself has been falling," Steve Rendall reported for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. "The USA Today report is not the first to dispel what it calls the 'bloody' picture of the U.S. border with Mexico. But while it cites politicians, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, for spreading the myth, the piece lets right-wing media, including national pundits like Bill O'Reilly, off the hook."

* The prominent Chinese government newspaper China Economic Times disbanded its investigative reporting team, which had won plaudits for its aggressive muckraking, amid a sweeping clampdown on the media and human-rights activists, Josh Chin reported Monday for the Wall Street Journal.

* "Around two dozen college teachers from around the country are participating this month in a Harvard program aimed at training professors to integrate more black history into their classrooms and research projects," Russell Contreras reported Saturday for the Associated Press. ". . . Sid Bedingfield, a journalism professor at University of South Carolina and former CNN senior producer, said he has been inspired by the program to create a media course on black press from the time of slavery and also show how slaves used other forms of communication to spread the word of events that affect them, such as President Abraham Lincoln's victory."

* Cynthia Tucker, columnist and blogger for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, advocated the naming of rape victims again last week. "I've argued over the years that shielding alleged victims of rape only adds to the sense of stigma - fueling the notion that they have somehow been tarnished," she wrote on Wednesday.