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"Eight months after Al Sharpton signed a pivotal agreement that helped Comcast and NBC secure Federal Communications Commission approval for their $30 billion merger, MSNBC appears poised to reward him with a prime-time news show," Wayne Barrett, who long covered Sharpton for the Village Voice, wrote Wednesday for the Daily Beast.

"While Sharpton is a soundbite success and entertaining TV guest, his three prior attempts at hosting a show have flopped badly, with the most recent, his ballyhooed 'Education SuperHighway,' dying after a single episode last fall. His anchor forays in 2004 and 2005 -- 'I Hate My Job' and 'Sharp Talk' -- ended after seven and 12 episodes respectively, while his 2004 presidential-campaign performance was so widely seen as vacuous and uninformed that it earned him remarkably puny support, even among black voters. In fact, until recently, Sharpton has been a Fox favorite, schmoozing with Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity 16 times in recent years, while appearing on Keith Olbermann's old show only once."

Barrett continued, "It's gone remarkably unnoticed that Sharpton was the first major black leader to endorse the Comcast merger, which met fierce resistance.

" ... A Comcast spokesperson told The Daily Beast that Comcast has given $140,000 to Sharpton's National Action Network since 2009 -- the same year the merger was first proposed. Though MSNBC president Phil Griffin was honored with a top prize at the April 2011 annual conference of NAN -- and he, Chris Matthews, and other NBC notables had a table at NAN's dinner -- NBC would not answer questions about how much it's given Sharpton.

"Comcast also insisted in an email to The Daily Beast that the company 'pledged we would not interfere' with NBC news operations, and 'we have not and we will not,' a response similar to the only answer we got from NBC. Neither, however, directly answered the question of whether there was any connection between Sharpton's merger role and his anticipated selection for the show."

The piece included no comment from Sharpton.

However, Brian Stelter reported in the New York Times:

"In a telephone interview this week, Mr. Sharpton said there was no connection between his past support for Comcast and his current role as a host for MSNBC. 'How could there be a connection?' he asked, noting that at the time of the merger review, there were no open time slots on the channel.

"In April, Mr. Sharpton presented a National Action Network award to Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC. Mr. Sharpton dismissed any connection there, too: 'The year before, we honored Jeff Zucker,' he said, referring to the former chief executive of NBCUniversal. 'Did Zucker give me "S.N.L."?'

"Mr. Sharpton said that if he were to join MSNBC, he would not leave the National Action Network, but would abstain from decisions that conflicted with his position in television. "

In April 2010, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists joined other groups in opposing the proposed acquisition of NBC by Comcast, saying that "this massive media consolidation will lead to fewer journalism jobs, less coverage of the Latino community, less diversity of voices, and excessive control for one company over the country's media."

Meanwhile, syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. wrote Wednesday that the discussion of the lack of journalists of color hosting prime-time cable shows hit a nerve.

"Here's my pet peeve," Navarrette wrote Wednesday in his column for the Washington Post Writers Group. "Too often, those who push for more opportunities for African-Americans pretend that they're advocating for all 'people of color' when really their agenda always boils down to the advancement of one minority group.

"African-Americans want a black host in prime time. Fine. But Latinos are starting from scratch. They don't have a presence at CNN in daytime, prime time, or anytime. The same goes for other minorities, such as Asians and Native Americans."

Navarrette was talking not only about the prospect that Sharpton may be hired as the 6 p.m. host on MSNBC -- which actually is not considered prime time -- but also complaints by the NAACP and the National Association of Black Journalists that only whites were chosen to fill the prime-time anchor slots on CNN in a recent reshuffling.

Meanwhile, Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University, is guest hosting in prime time this week on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show." Watch here.   

Two Years After Layoff, Norma Martin Is a Managing Editor

When Norma Martin was assistant managing editor for features at the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune, circulation 83,199 during the week; 97,812 on Sundays, she laid off staffers. Then it was her turn to be pink-slipped. That was two years ago. On Monday, she started work at the Killeen (Texas) Daily Herald. It's smaller -- circulation 16,534 daily; 20,547 Sunday -- but she's back in the business, and she's managing editor.

Martin's layoff came in 2009, the year American Society of News Editors reported that American daily newspapers had shed 5,900 newsroom jobs, the largest one-year decline in employment in the history of the ASNE census, which began in 1978. "Of the journalists who departed newsrooms, 854 were minorities according to ASNE's 2009 census," ASNE reported.

For Martin, the years since that tremor haven't been easy, but she knew what she had to do.

"You're going to have to find a way to keep your foot in the business if you want to come back into the game," she told Journal-isms in a telephone interview. "Figure out a way to enhance your skills." For Martin, 48, that meant completing a master's degree and learning Internet and multimedia operations.

Martin had already started a graduate program at the University of Missouri School of Journalism while in Tacoma. She finished her master's thesis, "Female Newspaper Editors in Daily Newspapers in Mentoring." It examined the role mentoring played as these executive editors and managing editors ascended the career ladder.

"I wasn't finding a whole lot of literature on it," she said. Interviewing those who had been editors from the 1960s on, Martin found mentoring to be essential. If there were few women mentors available in daily journalism, as was true in the earlier years, women found male mentors or people in other professions. Martin was awarded her degree in the summer of 2010.

Martin also did freelance work for MSN.com, freelanced for public relations agencies and worked for six or seven weeks for an online magazine, Colors NW, until it folded. There, "I learned how to manage an online publication, load videos, load photos," she said. "I was looking for other Internet things to do.

"I have to give it to my editors at MSN," she continued. "They were willing to teach me the technical stuff I didn't know how to do. All of that taught me things that I will bring to this job," where her responsibilities will include the online edition.

"What caught their eye is the Internet skills I had in my background," she said. "And that master's degree didn't hurt."

Killeen services Fort Hood and a young, military population comfortable with the Internet.

Martin said she makes no brief that the last two years have been easy. But the key, she said, was knowing what employers were looking for. And, she adds, "good friends and a good family will get you through."

White Household Wealth Dwarfs that of Blacks, Latinos

"The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from 2009," Rakesh Kochhar, Richard Fry and Paul Taylor reported Tuesday for the Pew Research Center.

"These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these three groups for the two decades prior to the Great Recession that ended in 2009.

"The Pew Research Center analysis finds that, in percentage terms, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took a far greater toll on the wealth of minorities than whites. From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.

"As a result of these declines, the typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009, the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth and the typical white household had $113,149.

"Moreover, about a third of black (35%) and Hispanic (31%) households had zero or negative net worth in 2009, compared with 15% of white households. In 2005, the comparable shares had been 29% for blacks, 23% for Hispanics and 11% for whites."  

*Wain Bennett, "The Field Negro" blog: "The least among us"  

*Russell Contreras, Associated Press: Marc Morial: Wealth Gap a 'Wake-Up Call'  

*Claudio Sanchez with Linda Wertheimer, "Weekend Edition Sunday," NPR: School Dropout Rates Add To Fiscal Burden

*Jesse Washington, Associated Press: The disappearing black middle class

GOP Makes Gains, but Only Among White Voters

"As the country enters into the 2012 presidential election cycle, the electorate's partisan affiliations have shifted significantly since Barack Obama won office nearly three years ago. In particular, the Democrats hold a much narrower edge than they did in 2008, particularly when the partisan leanings of independents are taken into account," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported on Friday.

"Notably, the GOP gains have occurred only among white voters; a 2-point Republican edge among whites in 2008 (46% to 44%) has widened to a 13-point lead today (52% to 39%). In sharp contrast, the partisan attachments of black and Hispanic voters have remained consistently Democratic.

"While Republican gains in leaned party identification span nearly all subgroups of whites, they are particularly pronounced among the young and poor. A seven-point Democratic advantage among whites under age 30 three years ago has turned into an 11-point GOP advantage today. And a 15-point Democratic advantage among whites earning less than $30,000 annually has swung to a slim four-point Republican edge today."

*Faye Anderson blog, Ask a Woman Who Knows 

*Charles M. Blow, New York Times: The Great Evil

*George E. Curry, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Obama Budget Concessions to the Right of Republican Voters

*Andrew Goldman, New York Times: Cornel West Flunks the President

*Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The limits of a compromise on the debt ceiling

*Jesse Washington, Associated Press: Smiley and West take Obama critique on the road

*Tonyaa Weathersbee, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Time to Show Real Leadership, Mr. President

Trio of African Americans in Top Posts at D.C. NPR Station

Caryn G. Mathes, general manager of WAMU-FM in Washington, has been elected to the board of directors of NPR, effective in November, the station announced Friday. The announcement perhaps will give visibility to a trio of African Americans in top posts at the general-interest NPR station in the nation's capital.

Mathes, 56, is joined in senior management by Jim Asendio, news director, and Anthony V. Hayes, director of corporate marketing.

"Under her leadership, a multi-year trend of contributor loss was halted, with the number of individual donors increasing by more than 18,000, or 57%, between Fiscal Year (FY) 05 and FY 11. She led the station through a lengthy contractual process to acquire state-of-the-art technology to manage the contributor database, a strategic move which will bear fruit for many years to come. She also energized the Major Individual Philanthropy program, chartering a volunteer Development Advisory Council to shepherd new donors to WAMU 88.5 and increasing the professional staffing in Development which has resulted in a 63% increase in the number of gifts of $1,000+ and an 85% increase in contributions since 2007."

Benae Mosby, WAMU communications manager, added that since the arrival of Hayes, 45, in 2005, "sponsorship revenue has increased from slightly more than $3.8 million to nearly $9.4 million." Hayes signed "209 new corporate clients; increasing national sales by $540,000; and increasing sales to new sponsors by $3.2 million."

Among the accomplishments of Asendio, 59, Mosby listed "Expanded coverage of local and regional news with the creation of a beat system that added full time reporters to cover D.C., Maryland, Virginia, the Eastern Shore, Education and the Environment ... and part time reporters to cover Labor issues, Transportation issues, Education issues, Environmental issues, Arts and Culture and Capitol Hill," "Diversification of the newsroom staff with respect to cultural and racial backgrounds and sexual orientation," the "addition of three full-time digital journalists to enhance the newsroom presence on WAMU.org, the station's website," and "expansion of the WAMU Youth Voices student journalism program via a partnership with Youth Radio and D.C.'s Latin American Youth Center."

She concluded, "Our total national audience on all platforms in Fall 2010 was 769,000 weekly listeners, a record audience for WAMU that includes 10,800 listeners on WRAU 88.3 in Ocean City; 15,600 listeners to HD-2 Bluegrass Country; and 75,000 listeners accessing the WAMU webstream. Our total audience in Fall 2005 (the year Caryn started) was 624,000 listeners. In five years, the station has increased its audience on multiple platforms by 23 percent."

"Hargro, 40, said his last day would be August 31. His departure, he said, is voluntary.

" 'There is no kind of animosity on their part or my part,' he told Qcitymetro.com in an exclusive interview. 'They wish me well and I wish the company well.' "

Hargro is believed to be one of two African American top editors at alternative newspapers. The other is W. Kim Heron at Detroit Metro Times. The Association of Alternative Newsmedia counts 130 member papers.

Hargro told Burkins he had added more than 24 bloggers, podcasts and coverage of more exclusive events, and that page views quadrupled under his leadership.

"Hargro said he also was pleased with his efforts to connect the newspaper more with African Americans as well as with Charlotte's lesbian, gay and transsexual community," Burkins wrote.

Hargro told Journal-isms, "I will undoubtedly be doing more writing about topics like music and culture -- but from my perspective as an African-American. I'm also working on a comic book project (which also focuses on issues of diversity), and some other stuff I can't really mention just yet."

*Matthew Fleischer, FishbowlLA: Alternative Weekly Association Gets a New Name

Keith Reed Named Senior Editor at ESPN The Magazine

Keith Reed, who edited Catalyst Ohio,Keith Reed a quarterly nonprofit magazine that focused on urban public education in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati and recently folded, has been hired as senior editor at ESPN The Magazine, ESPN confirmed on Wednesday.

Reed, a board member of the National Association of Black Journalists, worked as a business reporter for the Baltimore Business Journal, the Boston Globe and the Cincinnati Enquirer.

As His "Passion Project," Rick Sanchez to Announce Sports

Rick Sanchez, who was ousted as a CNN anchor in October, will be announcing Florida International University football this season on the radio with Tony Calatayud, David J. Neal and Justin Azpiazu reported Wednesday for the Miami Herald.

"They have one of the most diverse enrollments in the country," Sanchez told Journal-isms by email. "Both my boys will be going to school there this fall and this will give me an excuse to spend more time with them.

"They asked me to help them and i want to give back, while i continue to work on my own projects to empower those of us who are too often left without a voice in the media. I'm not taking a penny. I don't need the money. I just believe in what they are doing and i'm treating this as a passion project."

Angie Clemmons Leaving Denver Post, Plans Rethinking

Angie Clemmons, sports copy chief at the Denver Post and a former board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, is leaving the newspaper this week and plans "to rethink how I want to spend the next phase of my work life.

"I've decided to move to North Carolina, where my boyfriend is located," she told Journal-isms by email. "In fact, we are running off to NYC to get married next week! I will also be a part-time stepmom to three kids. He runs a few coffeehouses down there called Joe Van Gogh.

"And the newspaper business is just not improving, it's got me down. So much work and fewer people to do it. I need a fresh start to go about doing what I want to do, in an efficient and inspired manner.

"I'm going to try to rethink how I want to spend the next phase of my work life. I will probably start freelancing as a writer and copy editor; continue my work with NAHJ in that region and with the Sports Task Force as a volunteer, now that my Region 7 directorship is over; and also look into picking up some teaching in any journalism department that will have me in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. I feel strongly that after 22 years in the business, and with standards and practices getting a little loosey-goosey (in my opinion), that it's a responsibility of mine to reach out to the next generation of journalists.

"It's tough to leave my position as Sports Copy Chief. I think it's a position that I think I've brought a lot of valuable insight and experience to as a woman and as someone with a Latino background."

*Chicago television station WBBM, which acknowledged it was mistaken in using video of a 4-year-old African American boy saying he did not fear violence and wanted his own gun, failed to air the portion of the child’s quote in which he said he wanted a gun because he planned to be a police officer, Bob Butler reported Wednesday for the Maynard Institute. Both the shorter and longer videos were played for delegates at the NAACP Convention in Los Angeles. NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said the case was "disturbing."

*"Gawker, the popular blog based in New York, is going to court to investigate the relationship between the Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey," Brian Stelter reported Monday for the New York Times. "... The lawsuit has its origins in a New York magazine story in May which reported that Mr. Ailes had called Mr. Christie and 'encouraged him to jump into the race' for president earlier this year."

*Toya Graham, who was let go in May as assistant news editor for the Fort Mill (S.C.) Times newspaper, says she is on Day 3 of "a 10-day blitz to raise $10,000 to help about 4,000 needy kids... . The name of the drive is Steppin' 4 Skool Supplies, formerly The (Rock Hill) Herald Back to School Drive, an idea I pitched and oversaw for three years while employed with The Herald and the Fort Mill Times. The drive has paired thousands of kids with school tools," she told Journal-isms. "I do not want to see needy York and Chester counties youth go without school tools because their parents can not afford to purchase them. For details, prospective sponsors can email me at Toyagraham@hotmail.com or call me at 704-606-6869."

*"The Los Angeles City Council adjourned today's meeting in memory of George Ramos, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, columnist and editor for the Los Angeles Times, Cal Poly professor, and CalCoastNews editor who was more comfortable referring to himself as 'the kid from East L.A.,' " CalCoastNews reported on Tuesday. Ramos, 63, was found dead last weekend.

*"A Mexican crime reporter said to have been looking into the recent execution slaying of her editor was found dead Tuesday," Tim Johnson reported Tuesday for McClatchy Newspapers. "The body of Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz was dumped on a street in the city of Veracruz on Mexico's eastern coast, two days after she was kidnapped by unknown assailants, according to the newspaper, Notiver. Several other news sites, citing an anonymous police source, said she had been beheaded."

*"In the shadow of Brazil and Argentina, Paraguay is the Western Hemisphere's biggest marijuana producer and a major hub of trafficking in drugs, arms and prostitution. Ruled from 1954 to 1989 by a military dictatorship backed by a contraband economy, it has since succumbed to international mafias, especially Brazilian cartels that have established rearguard bases there," Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday. " ... Journalists operate in isolation and with few resources, especially those based in border regions, trying to get information from authorities that are often poisoned by corruption or are themselves involved in the trafficking."

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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.