Activist: "We Cannot Let Them Play Us Off One Another"

Freelance journalist Jeff Winbush wants it known that he is not hatin' on the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Winbush is a blogger in Columbus, Ohio, a former editor of the black newspaper the Columbus Post and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. More to the point, he was the source of a quote in Thursday's "Journal-isms" about MSNBC's reported readiness to hire Sharpton for its 6 p.m. slot.

"When rumors surfaced this week that Sharpton was under consideration for the MSNBC job, one NABJ member told colleagues without challenge, 'This would still be just another non-journalist media "celebrity" receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent,' " the column read.

Winbush's quote reverberated around the Internet and was even shown, with the column, on Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" show on Current TV. Olbermann was fired by MSNBC, where his show was also called "Countdown," in January. On Thursday, Olbermann gave a platform to Cenk Uygur, the former MSNBC host whose slot has been filed temporarily by Sharpton.

" 'Slam?' I did no such thing. I said nothing of the sort," Winbush told Journal-isms by email. "I was not attacking him personally. I bear him no ill will. I simply want to see Black journalists get a fair shot as well."

Sharpton reacted in an interview with Lynette Holloway published Friday on theRoot.com.

"We can't get into a crabs-in-the-barrel mentality," Sharpton said. "We cannot let them play us off one another. There is a history here. Kweisi Mfume had a talk show. Jesse Jackson Jr. had a talk show. If someone can advocate nationwide, we need to do that given the pain of our people. We need to do that on television, in newspapers and magazines. And all of us need to be united."

Holloway wrote, "Sharpton emphatically stated that he is an advocate, not a journalist. If he accepts the offer, he said, it would be in that role. The format under consideration at MSNBC is not for news but for opinions and advocacy, he said."

A news release Thursday from the National Association of Black Journalists cast the issue as pro-journalist, not anti-Sharpton. Sharpton's prospective hiring does not diminish the need to hire black journalists, NABJ said.

"Currently, there are no African American anchors hosting prime time news hours for any major cable network. While MSNBC is reportedly on the verge of offering civil rights activist Al Sharpton his own prime time slot, there are no black journalists who can tout a similar promotion."

NABJ began its release by announcing, "In reaction to an ostensible trend in cable news to pass over African American talent for prime time programming, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) continued discussions this week with several civil rights organizations to address the matter and direct a definite course of action."

Near the conclusion, it said, "Prominent civil rights organizations like the National Urban League, NAACP, as well as the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have all pledged their support for a drastic course of action should this matter continue to be overlooked."

"While illegal immigrants can still obtain [driver's] licenses in Washington, licensing officials said they canceled Jose Antonio Vargas' driver's license because he could not prove that he lived in the state when he obtained it, as required by law."

". . . Losing that privilege is part of my facing up to what I've done. However, I believe it is a small price to pay relative to the big things we're going to do, together."

He urged readers to contribute to the group he founded, Define American, "which will allow us to find and share the stories of immigration that the rest of the country needs desperately to hear."

Erik Wemple, Washington Post: Jose Antonio Vargas: Why the flack?

Obama Does Steve Harvey, "Tell Me More," 2 Hispanic Shows

President Obama taped four radio interviews with broadcasters of color on Thursday in a bid to present his side in the tug of war with Congress over raising the debt ceiling.

Obama talked with the syndicated "The Steve Harvey Morning Show," Michel Martin of "Tell Me More" on NPR; Ricardo Brown on "Actualidad 1020" a talk radio station in Miami; and the "Dr. Isabel Show" on Univision Radio, according to Kevin S. Lewis, White House director of African American media, and Luis Miranda, director of Hispanic media.

(On Friday night, House Speaker John Boehner sent efforts to compromise on the debt-ceiling issue into instant crisis, abruptly breaking off talks with Obama on a deal to make major cuts in federal spending and avert a threatened government default, NPR reported.)

The radio appearances were part of a broader media strategy. "In the past two weeks Obama has done 10 interviews with local television stations, bringing his case to voters across the country, including in critical states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, and made three appearances in the White House briefing room," Victoria Pelham and Roger Runningen reported Friday for Bloomberg News. "In a July 21 interview with NPR and in an op-ed in USA Today, Obama urged lawmakers to do 'something big and meaningful.' "

NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher told Journal-isms, "We had a long-standing request in with the White House for an interview with Michel Martin for Tell Me More."

On the "Dr. Isabel Show," Isabel Gomez-Bassols went beyond the debt-ceiling discussion to ask a question "very dear to my heart. I travel all around this country, and I have many students that have followed my advice, study, buckle in, and do the work. However, they finished their college and they have nowhere to go, because they were brought in when they were 1 or 2 years old.

". . . I know that a comprehensive reform is not on your plate right now, I do understand that But when would you be able to exercise your leadership in terms of pursuing the enactment of the DREAM Act? It is my dream to have that."

Under  the DREAM Act, qualifying youths who are in the United States illegally would be eligible for a six-year long conditional path to citizenship that requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service.

Obama agreed with his host and added, ". . . I’ve consistently said, that I am a strong supporter of the DREAM Act. My administration has lobbied repeatedly to get the DREAM Act passed. I'll be honest with you; we’ve had problems with Republican members of Congress, some of whom previously supported... the DREAM Act but for some reason because of politics have pulled their support from it. And so we need to rebuild that support and put pressure for members of Congress to do the right thing on this issue."

Postal Service Unveils John H. Johnson Stamp

A 'Forever' stampThe U.S. Postal Service Thursday previewed a 2012 Black Heritage stamp honoring pioneering publisher John H. Johnson by using social media outlets.

Customers may preview the stamps on Facebook, through Twitter @USPSstamps or on the website Beyond the Perf, the Postal Service said. Beyond the Perf is the Postal Service’s online site "for the back story on upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news."

The Johnson image will appear on a "Forever" stamp, which is to remain equal in value to the current rate for first-class mail, regardless of future price increases.

"We are proud to immortalize John H. Johnson as our latest inductee in our Black Heritage stamp series,” Stephen Kearney, manager, Stamp Services, said in a release.

"He was the trailblazing publisher of Ebony, Jet and other magazines as well as an entrepreneur. In 1982, he became the first black person to appear on Forbes magazine’s annual list of the 400 wealthiest people in America. His magazines portrayed black people positively at a time when such representation was rare, and he played an important role in the civil rights movement. President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996.”

" 'If Americans learn the value of hard-hitting journalism at an early age, it will not only translate into a sharper-eyed electorate — but it might also drive profits for quality content providers as consumers demand more reliable, less-biased information,' he said.

"Copps proposes a K-12 online news media literacy curriculum to teach kids how to distinguish among the barrage of information coming at them, rather than take the easier route of 'picking the opinion narrative that best suits their ideologies, reading nothing else, and just shouting it from the roof-top.'

"As an example of good work already being done, he cited the News Literacy Project that puts students together with journalists who can demonstrate skills like seeking the truth, gauging bias and determining accountability." He also said that public, educational and governmental access channels, libraries and community media centers — "which the President's stimulus program has invested in — local businesses and others could be recruited to the cause."

The CBS station reported the shooting of two teenagers and "raised concerns with journalism educators and others," Butler wrote.

"We have long been worried" about the ways in which the media help "perpetuate negative stereotypes of boys and men of color, but this appears to be overtly criminalizing a preschooler," Dori J. Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute, said in the column.

Dr. Gabriel Crenshaw, a clinical psychologist with Los Angeles Southwest College, said, "The first thing I thought of was where were his parents? Reporters shouldn’t be interviewing a four-year-old about something this serious without the parents being there," Butler wrote.

Butler reported that "Shawnelle Richie, director of communications for CBS 2, admits the video should not have aired.

" 'We made a mistake,' she said. 'The story only ran once. We immediately took it off and addressed the issue with the producers.'

"Richie said the station took some unspecified corrective steps against the people who were responsible for editing and writing the story but that action was deemed insufficient by the people who saw the video."

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