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NBC's theGrio, Radio One's InteractiveOne in Partnership

NBC News' theGrio.com and Interactive One's NewsOne.com have decided to share news and resources in what the two companies are touting as "an expanded platform for African-American journalism."

Theoretically, each site will now have available the resources of NBC News, Radio One, TV One, Reach Media's syndicated Tom Joyner radio show, theGrio.com, NewsOne.com, HelloBeautiful.com and theUrbanDaily.com.

Not all of these entities employ journalists. In fact, Tom Newman, president of InteractiveOne, told Journal-isms he looks more toward the Web model of using bloggers, contributors and social media, rather than journalists, to deliver information.

However, company spokeswoman Kristen Tate said later by email, "I think it's important to note that this partnership is the first step to being able to devote more resources to news gathering. With the digital industry (especially targeted to African Americans) so new, it's moves such as these that can open the doors for more journalism jobs and opportunities as advertisers take notice."

Radio One stations, criticized like much of black radio for sharply cutting back on news departments, still have employees available to provide local reports, Newman said. Tate provided an example from WOLB in Baltimore about young sisters who created an "Open Letter to Lil Wayne" video.

A news release said, "Under the partnership that went into effect July 1st, 2011, TheGrio.com and NewsOne.com will coordinate and share editorial content for both websites, and Interactive One will provide sales representation and oversee advertising sales operations for both entities. The relationship also opens up the potential for co-marketing and promotional opportunities in a shared portfolio that includes Interactive One's various digital assets, Radio One's 52 radio stations, TV One and Reach Media, and the many platforms of NBC News."

The June figures from the comScore measurement company show theGrio.com with 1,231,000 unique visitors and NewsOne with 756,000.

For other black-oriented websites, the figures were 3,128,000 unique visitors for MediaTakeOut.com; 3,036,000 for BET Networks; 2,215,000 for Black Voices, now part of Huffington Post; 2,121,000 for theRoot.com; 1,686,000 for Bossip.com; 1,194,000 for essence.com; 935,000 for HelloBeautiful.com; 771,000 for BlackPlanet.com; and 652,000 for MadameNoire.com. Black Planet and Hello Beautiful are also InteractiveOne sites.

Newman said the idea for a collaboration first arose when Comcast, which owns 49 percent of TV One, proposed buying NBCUniversal about a year ago. "We have a great relationship with Comcast and NBC," he said. "At the same time, we started to get to know some of the folks at theGrio and NBC News. . . . We liked the fact that it was tied into a big news organization. We were liking each other's product."

Steve Capus, president of NBC News, said in the release, "With the African-American audience representing one of the fastest growing consumer segments online, this partnership is a huge growth opportunity for both TheGrio and NewsOne. This is a smart play for both sides as we combine the best of these two platforms to enhance African-American journalism."

Newman said, "Our model is very similar to the Huffington Post," but he added, "Nobody right now out there is bringing the type of resources and focus to this subject that we are in cooperation with NBC. There are 100 folks at this company focused on everything African American digital."

Capus told Tanzina Vega of the New York Times, "They are basically offering a more robust sales proposition, bigger audiences and the opportunity to get ads in front of more eyeballs. We instantly grew the business as a result of this partnership."

Essence Hires White Male Editor to Manage Workflow

Essence magazine has hired a white male managing editor to manage production and workflow, but he has no involvement in editorial content of the black women's publication, the new Essence editor-in-chief, Constance White, told Journal-isms on Tuesday.

White responded to a question from Journal-isms after the Black Voices website repeated an unconfirmed rumor Monday on its "BVNewswire" page in a story headlined: "Rumor: Essence Hires White Man As Managing Editor."

The item by Yannique Benitez began, "If the rumor is true, this won't be the first time that Essence employed a white person in an economy where blacks are hit hardest by unemployment. Just last year the magazine came under fire for hiring Ellianna Placas as [its] fashion director. Now, Michael Bullderdick will serve as the Managing Editor, according to writer Christelyn Karazin."

Karazin's piece, dated Thursday and appearing on beyondblackwhite.com, was headlined, "Source Exclusive: Essence Magazine Hires a White Dude to Run the Place."

White gave Journal-isms this statement on Tuesday: "Michael is responsible for production and operational workflow. He has no involvement in editorial content."

According to his LinkedIn profile, Bullderdick is a magazine industry veteran who was a corporate managing editor for American Media from August 2004 to January.

He lists as achievements, "Recruited by Bonnie Fuller to relaunch Star as a glossy to compete with People/Us Weekly; managed multiple transitions. Reduced costs, improved efficiency and issue delivery by streamlining editorial workflow for health & fitness titles: Shape, Men's Fitness, Natural Health, Fit Pregnancy, Flex, Muscle & Fitness, Country Weekly and Star. Managed launches/reboots (Star, Celebrity Living,) and oversaw custom publishing and cooperative publishing ventures (SLY, Arena Football League, Ultimate Fighting Championship, Playboy) as well as special interest publications."

Anna Lopez Buck Returns to NAHJ as Interim Director

Anna Lopez Buck, who left as executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in 2004 to serve in the same position at Unity: Journalists of Color, is returning to NAHJ as development director and interim executive director, effective immediately, the NAHJ board announced on Monday.

In a statement, NAHJ President Michele Salcedo said, "She brings to us a strong track record of fundraising and cost control, which is what we need to stabilize our finances and allow us to return to our core mission, the advancement of Latino journalists and the fight for fair and accurate coverage of Latinos and our issues." Most recently, Lopez Buck was executive director for corporate diversity at the American Red Cross.

NAHJ said in December that it was projecting a $240,000 deficit for the year. "Our priority is to stop the bleeding," Salcedo told members at the NAHJ's convention last month. Treasurer Russell Contreras told attendees, "We are projected to end the year with more money than we started, but to get there we had to make a lot of painful decisions."

Five NAHJ staff members were scheduled to leave. An austerity budget includes funds beyond June 30 only for an executive director "and a part-time contractor to match members with jobs." Kevin Olivas is the part-time staffer.

Iván Román, executive director since 2003, is to leave Aug. 31.

Salcedo did not respond to a question about whether he and the others would be paid severance, as some members pleaded at the convention business meeting.

NAHJ's statement Monday said, "Over the past decade, Lopez Buck has raised more than $20 million as director of development of National GEM Consortium, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing science and engineering fellowships in underserved communities; UNITY: Journalists of Color; and NAHJ.

"She coordinated and planned fundraising efforts for the President Barack Obama's Latino Inaugural Celebration in 2009. Lopez Buck serves on the board of the National Hispanic Corporate Council and is a lifetime member of NAHJ.

" 'I am honored to return to NAHJ during a critical time in the news industry and look forward to working with NAHJ's leadership,' said Lopez Buck. 'I am proud to join the organization whose work reflects the importance of the advancement of Latinos in the news media and has been my lifetime goal to ensure that we portray people of color in a fair and accurate manner.' "

After 32 Years, Ward Laid Off From "Business Report"

Rodney Ward, executive vice president of special projects for public television's "Nightly Business Report," was let go on Friday. Formerly managing editor, he had been with the show since its debut in 1979, when it was a 15-minute program broadcast only in Southeast Florida.

Managing editor Wendie Feinberg was also let go, Stuart Zuckerman, vice president, sales and marketing, confirmed on Monday. Talking Biz News called the layoff of both editors a "cost-cutting move."

"The show, which airs on more than 200 public television stations across the country, was acquired last year after being owned for more than 30 years by a Miami PBS station. [There have] been some changes at the program, including a small reduction in staff, and some changes in content," Talking Biz News explained.

According to Ward's bio, "Before being promoted into the position he currently holds, Rodney spent 11 years as managing editor of 'Nightly Business Report.' In that capacity, he guided a dedicated news team headquartered in Miami and also operating out of bureaus in New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Rodney was also directly responsible for leading NBR's regional coverage of Asia. During his tenure as Managing Editor, NBR was recognized with a National Emmy Award as well as numerous other awards for its coverage of business and the economy."

N.Y. Post Story on DSK Accuser Getting Fishier

"The New York Post's 'scoop' on Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser is getting fishier, to the extent that's possible. The paper appears to have had documentation challenging the reliability of its only source in a story alleging that the accuser had worked as a prostitute," Erik Wemple wrote Monday on his Washington Post blog.

"To reprise the tabloid's story: The New York Post reported on July 2 that DSK's accuser had worked as a prostitute - a piece that triggered an immediate libel suit from the woman. For its salacious bit of reportage, the newspaper relied on a single, anonymous person, identified as 'a source close to the defense investigation.'

"The source coughed up two key details:

"1) That the accuser did special favors for male guests at the Sofitel Hotel and received compensation in return;

"2) That her union had placed her there because it knew she would 'bring in big bucks.'

"After floating that second allegation, the New York Post wrote nearly 30 paragraphs of copy blasting the accuser from various angles. Then it dropped in a denial of the union claim. 'These allegations are absurd,' the paper quoted union spokesman Josh Gold as saying. 'She never registered at our hiring hall. We never sent her for a single interview. We absolutely did not place her at the hotel and we do not track tips.'

". . . What was left unsaid was that the union had sent documents - an employment packet, basically - to the New York Post supporting its contentions about the accuser, according to Gold. The file included the accuser's application for work at the Sofitel, plus a cursory evaluation by management."

* Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Some scandals won't sit still

High School Students Give Lessons to J-Instructors

"I'd never volunteered to work with high school students at a journalism camp before this week. I haven't been a Big Sister in Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or mentored kids, or taken teens under my wing to help shape them into happy, functional adults," reporter Kimberly A.C. Wilson wrote June 22 in the Oregonian.

"Maybe that's why Tuesday night's diversity discussion at the High School Journalism Institute at Oregon State University was a revelation."

Wilson was part of "a small army of Oregonian photographers, reporters and editors helping the students put out a 32-page newspaper in one week," as City Editor Cathy Noah wrote of the eight-day camp held at Oregon State University.

"The 14 students in the program, ranging in age from 15 to 17, really didn't have much to say about diversity," Wilson continued. "Turns out, diversity was our front-seat issue, the volunteer editors', not theirs. Race took a backseat in many of the students' sagas. Instead they chose to narrate their own seas of pain for more than two hours. The low notes they have each already experienced are surprisingly raw: domestic violence, verbal abuse, neglect, abandonment, poverty, parental disinterest, drug and alcohol addiction, abortion, bullying, immigration enforcement, foreclosure, death.

" . . . It is not hyperbole to say their deep hurts unsettled the handful of grizzled journalists who listened in: the savvy city editor, the sharp-witted county reporter, the hard-shelled breaking news reporter, the veteran photojournalists who have witnessed so much heartache through their lenses and have the photographs to prove it.

"One after another, we cried. By the night's end, students and editors alike clutched damp wads of toilet paper and sniffled like children.

"We had come together in the evening to discuss how race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and difference can shape journalists, and make them sensitive to including different voices in their reporting. We came away with fresh insights into the burdens already shouldered by group of young people who think they might one day like to work as journalists.. . ."

N.Y. Times' Kristof: "Africa Appears to Be Turning Around"

The cover piece in the Sunday Review section of the New York Times that debuted in the print edition of July 3 was op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof's report on a trip to Africa with two Americans who had never been there:

"We encountered plenty of heartbreak, like the baby we met in Niger who was going blind from lack of vitamin A. In some places, we felt the gnawing disquiet of insecurity. The rise of banditry and a Qaeda network in West Africa forced us to take an armed escort across one particularly lawless stretch of 'highway,' " Kristof wrote.

"Yet my travel buddies and I also found something far more significant on our journey: hope. One of the best-kept secrets in the world today can be found in thatched-roof villages like the ones we passed through: Africa appears to be turning around.

"After a half-century of underperformance, Africa's economy is growing significantly faster than America's or Europe's. . . .

"This was the fifth 'win-a-trip contest,' in which I take a student with me on a reporting trip to the developing world. This year I also chose someone from the over-60 crowd. The student winner was Saumya Dave, a medical student from Atlanta, and the older winner was Noreen Connolly, a 66-year-old teacher from a Catholic school in Newark. Neither had ever been to Africa."

In a blog pegged to the piece, the columnist said, "one thing I try to do from time to time is remind readers that the grim scenes I portray in Sudan or Congo are not representative of Africa as a whole. That's essentially the aim of this Sunday piece, to provide a broader context and a reminder that plenty is going on that is very hopeful.

"But this kind of balancing is invariably occasional and incomplete. It's already very difficult to get readers interested in Africa (whenever I write about Africa, my column readership plunges), and a good news column not tied to a crisis ('Benin Thrives!') would frankly have zero readership. That's one advantage of the win-a-trip journey, in that it creates a narrative device to step back and encourage readers to see a larger truth about African success."

Reporter Discovers Undercovered Palestinian Peace Activists

Ivan Penn, a black journalist at the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, told readers on Sunday that a trip to Israel and the West Bank changed his view of Palestinians:

"I was in Jerusalem as a journalist with a group of performers who traveled to the Middle East on a cultural exchange with the Palestinian National Theatre to perform the play 'Passages of Martin Luther King,' " Penn wrote. "The U.S. State Department organized 10 performances of the play in Jerusalem and on the West Bank over 3½ weeks with American and Palestinian artists. My wife, September, was one of the performers.

"A month before traveling to Israel and the West Bank, I had met non-violence expert Michael Nagler, a former professor at the University of California at Berkeley who was visiting Valencia College in Orlando.

". . . At that moment, still in the United States, I pictured a group of Palestinian activists working underground to promote nonviolence.

"But when I reached Israel and the West Bank, I quickly learned that the peace activists did not work in secret but openly, persistently and, yes, peacefully. And it became evident that the conflict is not as black and white as it is often portrayed in the media.

"When Hamas or some other militant group fires a rocket into Israel, or a bomb explodes at a crowded bus stop, it makes headlines. But what goes underreported is the work of the Palestinian peace activists, many of whom are Christians.

"Which raises the question: How do we make these activists, rather than those who would use terrorist tactics, the face of the Palestinian movement and the voices at the negotiating table?"

* Multimedia presentation: Passages: A common struggle for civil rights

Blogging While Brown Conference Draws 250 to L.A.

Kim Coles is among those featured on a highlight reel from the "Blogging While Brown" conference held over the weekend in Los Angeles. Organizer Gina McCauley told Journal-isms by email that "traditional Journalists" made "a strong showing this year and were a lot more prominent. We had about 250+ ppl. . . . we were bigger than last year. We had 4 times as many panels as last year. An NABJ blogger/Tweeter tweeted the entire conference and the awards show," referring to the National Association of Black Journalists. (Video)

Short Takes

* "According to the latest RTDNA/Hofstra University study, 2010 was a good year for local news," Merrill Knox reported last week for TVSpy. "Stations across the country added 750 jobs last year, an increase of 2.9 percent from 2009. Nationwide, 26,522 people are employed at 745 local stations. Local news employment has not fully recovered from 2008, when a flailing U.S. economy led to the loss of 1,200 jobs, but RTDNA/Hofstra finds that anticipated hiring in 2011 could bring the industry back to its pre-recession peak of 27,817 total employees."

* "CNBC has decided on its new anchors for the 2-hour 'Squawk on the Street' morning show," Chris Ariens reported Monday for TVNewser. "The business channel is tapping several veterans to fill the seat left vacant following the death May 25th of longtime anchor Mark Haines and the departure three weeks earlier of co-anchor Erin Burnett, now at CNN. CNBC SVP Nik Deogun announced that starting tomorrow, Melissa Lee and Carl Quintanilla will co-anchor the show, with contributions from Jim Cramer, Simon Hobbs and David Faber. As part of the changes, Quintanilla moves off 'Squawk Box,' with a rotating group of anchors filling in on the network's signature morning show alongside Joe Kernen and Becky Quick."

* "BET has partnered with the United Negro College Fund to televise the foundation's annual UNCF 'An Evening of Stars' event this fall," R. Thomas Umstead reported Sunday for Multichannel News. "BET will air the UNCF 'An Evening of Stars' special in September, although an official date has not been announced, according to network officials. The 33-year-old event, which has aired in syndication over the past few years - including its most recent edition earlier this year - will change its format from an artist tribute show to a music variety event, with short video segments spotlighting a few of the 60,000 students whose education UNCF supports every year, according to UNCF president and CEO Michael Lomax.

* President Obama called on April D. Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks for the last question of his news conference Monday. ". . . With these budget cuts looming, you have minorities, the poor, the elderly, as well as people who are scared of losing jobs fearful," Ryan said. Did Obama support the Debt-Free America Act, proposed by Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which Fattah says is designed to scrutinize the "fiscal imbalance" of the federal government? Obama said he would not comment on specific legislation, but said he was "obsessed" with plight of families who "just feel like they're falling behind, no matter how hard they work."

* "Reviews of Juan Williams' book about his departure from NPR have been mixed, so far," Julie Moos wrote Monday for the Poynter Institute. " 'Muzzled' is scheduled for release July 26, but plenty of people have been given an advanced read on the Fox News analyst's proposal that partisanship has stifled honest debate. Advisers to President Obama and President Bush praise it, but Kirkus calls it 'self-interested preaching to the choir.' "

* Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, a Burundian Internet journalist, will receive the National Association of Black Journalists' 2011 Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist Award Aug. 4 at the NABJ convention in Philadelphia, NABJ announced on Monday. "Kavumbagu, editor of the online daily [Net Press], has been arrested on multiple occasions for speaking out about issues such as corruption in government. Kavumbagu was just released in May after spending ten months in prison," NABJ said.

* "Karachi, Pakistan's economic hub, is one of the country's main media centers, with more than 2,000 journalists and the head offices of leading media organizations," Mazhar Abbas wrote Friday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Journalists in the city have come under attack before, with seven journalists killed there since 1994. But the situation was never as dangerous as it has been this past year.. . . In areas like the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Baluchistan, journalists know where the pressure comes from: Either the Taliban or intelligence agencies. In Karachi, you never know the source of the threat. There are dozens of potentially violent groups."