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Sly Stone

Synergy: Documentary Becomes New York Post Story

First the newspaper article, then the movie. The Internet was abuzz Monday with a New York Post story that went viral:

". . . Today, Sly Stone — one of the greatest figures in soul-music history — is homeless, his fortune stolen by a lethal combination of excess, substance abuse and financial mismanagement. He lays his head inside a white camper van ironically stamped with the words 'Pleasure Way' on the side. The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where 'Boyz n the Hood' was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house. The couple’s son serves as his assistant and driver.

"Inside the van, the former mastermind of Sly & the Family Stone, now 68, continues to record music with the help of a laptop computer."

The Google search engine logged at least 157 stories referencing the Post story on Monday, in various languages and on platforms from the Huffington Post to legacy media. The story was the trending topic on Yahoo.

But the Post only hinted at the back-story: What it took to track Stone down. The story bore a double byline: Willem Alkema and Reed Tucker. Alkema is a Dutch filmmaker; Tucker is a Post staff writer.

Alkema told Journal-isms in a brief email from the Netherlands: "it took years to find him, I filmed the process and made a film about it. it's almost finished, just waiting on a happy ending..."

On the website for what he hopes will be an early version of the film, called "Coming Back for More," Alkema says he searched for Stone since 2002 and finally interviewed him in 2009. The New Orleans alternative paper the Gambit, reviewing "Coming Back for More" in August, said the film shows two Dutch brothers who are "dedicated fans who helped Alkema find Sly."

Alkema told Journal-isms in a second email: "i started searching for him in 2002. in 2005 researcher peter coogan stepped in and we finally found an [address]. after that he moved it was in 2006 when we first met. coming back for more is about the search for sly ending with an interview he did. it was [broadcast] in europe titled: dance to the music.

"the film [will] be released when there is a happy ending. hopefully the article in the new york post contributed to that although there some parts in it that I didn't want to have seen published.

"he is not paranoid, he doesn't think the police is after him, they [were] in the past but not today."

For the moment, details of how the tale made it into the New York Post are a mystery. The Post did not respond to inquiries. Alkema said simply that the Post asked for an interview. John Chapple, a British photographer in Los Angeles who often does work for the Post on the West Coast, told Journal-isms he got a call from the newspaper to be present for a photo session with Stone at his van on Sept. 16, for a story that was to run in the Sunday paper.

Chapple said he, too, was surprised. "Such a musical legend to be in those circumstances," the photographer said. The eyeglasses Stone is wearing are Chapple's. "He didn't want to have his photo without his sunglasses. He had to borrow my Spy Optics for the shot."

The Post story did explain what the fuss was all about: "There was a time when Sly was difficult to escape," it continued. "Stone, whose real name is Sylvester Stewart, was one of the most visible, flamboyant figures of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"The multiracial, multi-gender band that Stone assembled fused funk, soul and psychedelic rock and became one of the most influential acts ever. The San Fran-based group released a string of hits beginning with the 1968 album 'Dance to the Music,' followed by 'Everyday People,' 'Family Affair,' 'Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)' and 'Stand!'

"The group’s costumes and showmanship were just as memorable. The members favored giant afros, flashy capes, Beatle boots, neon vests and leopard-print jumpsuits.

". . . Today, Sly is disheveled, paranoid — the FBI is after him; his enemies have hired hit men. He refuses to let The Post into his camper, but, ever the showman, poses flamboyantly with a silver military helmet and a Taser in front of his Studebaker."

That was the part Alkema said was excessive. "in 2005 he was living in a beautiful house. in 2009 the problems with his former manager drove him into living in a hotel," Alkema wrote. "it's not bad to live in a camper or in a hotel, it's something differently like most people live, but a camper is what he prefers.

"because of his lawsuit he has no money, that has nothing to do with the person he is. it's because he want to quit the cooperation with his manager who since then doesn't give him his money."

Fox News Said to Be Edging Back Toward Mainstream

The left has long branded Fox News Channel a propaganda arm for Fox News chairman Roger Ailes’s "pugnacious conservatism, and while his journalists maintain they play it straight, the network has certainly provided ample fodder for liberal detractors," Howard Kurtz wrote Sunday for Newsweek/the Daily Beast.

"But as President Obama’s popularity has plummeted and the country has grown increasingly sick of partisan sniping, something unexpected happened. Roger Ailes pulled back a bit on the throttle.

"He calls it a 'course correction,' quietly adopted at Fox over the last year. Glenn Beck’s inflammatory rhetoric — his ranting about Obama being a racist — 'became a bit of a branding issue for us' before the hot-button host left in July, Ailes says. So too did Sarah Palin’s being widely promoted as the GOP’s potential savior — in large measure through her lucrative platform at Fox. Privately, Fox executives say the entire network took a hard right turn after Obama’s election, but, as the Tea Party’s popularity fades, is edging back toward the mainstream.

". . . As he embarks on his last hurrah — Ailes’s contract is up in 2013 — he is acting not like a political operative but as a corporate chieftain who knows that fostering friction and picking fights make for good television—and good business. Next fall’s election could well pivot on whether Ailes is more interested in scoring political points or ramping up ratings and revenue."

* Erika Fry, Columbia Journalism Review: After the Google/Fox Debate, Five Annoyances

* Andrea Morabito, Broadcasting & Cable: Fox News/Google Tally Most-Watched Debate This Year

* Bomani Jones blog: BWB4: Why [aren't] more blacks in the sports blogosphere? (Sept. 27)

* Courtland Milloy, Washington Post: President Obama courting black people again

* Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: Obama Draws More Confidence than GOP Leaders on Deficit

Daulerio answered, "It's a white industry."

In New Orleans, at the Excellence in Journalism joint conference of the Radio-Television Digital News Association and the Society of Professional Journalists, "Panelists and attendees for the Digital + Diversity session agreed there was a lack of diversity in journalism schools," Sarah Onufer of RTDNA reported.

"This trickles into the newsroom when these non-diverse, but formally trained journalists begin job hunting. A strong formal background in journalism isn’t always the most important thing to consider when looking diversify your newsroom. Panelists suggested finding people with strong initiative and then training them to give them the opportunity to grow."

In Boston, the Online News Association conducted a "Saturday Morning Keynote: Race, Gender and Technology: The Third Rail?"

"Moderator Retha Hill started off with a quiz on the history of diversity in media. Attendees barely passed," according to a tweet from the conference. " 'I guess these are coming back home with me,' Hill said of some of the prizes she brought for correct answers."

Nevertheless ONA was praised for increasing the number of participants of color, partly due to the efforts of conference co-chair Michelle Johnson, a black journalist who teaches multimedia journalism at Boston University.

Daulerio did not respond to a request for comment on Blogs With Balls 4, but Hill told Journal-isms by email:

Daulerio "spoke at length about this issue, both before and after the panel and he's extremely receptive to building a relationship with NABJ, as well as other minority journalist groups," Hill said of the National Association of Black Journalists. "I'd like to see AJ and other blogs move forward and recruit at NABJ, but I'd also like our panels next year (and going forward) to be even more inclusive of blogs.

"This needs to be a two-way street. [NABJ is] a pipeline for the burgeoning and established blogs. But they also need to understand that people of color aren't going to magically appear at their doorsteps. They must actively recruit, and we must actively remind them of our presence.

"Blogs With Balls is a terrific conference and I see huge potential in developing a relationship between ourselves, conference organizers and blogging entities. In fact, we've already had preliminary discussions about having a panel at Blogs With Balls next year that addresses race and new media. I'd like to see the same thing happen at NABJ next year, with us inviting AJ Daulerio, Hugging Harold Reynolds and other blogs to the table."

"Jones, 47, has been publisher of The Pilot since April 2008.

"He has served as commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services and deputy chief of staff to then-Gov. Mark Warner. At the U.S. Treasury Department, Jones was special assistant to the general counsel. While at the Treasury, he also served as legal counsel to the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund and as director of the fund during the Clinton administration."

Meanwhile, BET aired a half-hour special built around an interview with Obama conducted by reporter Emmett Miller and produced by former ABC producer James Blue, both recruited for the occasion. The network kept in its usual complement of commercials, with some running to eight at a time.

The special, "The President Answers Black America," was updated with footage from Obama's speech before the Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner Saturday. Obama did not urge listeners to "stop grumbling," as he did on Saturday, but he maintained that African Americans who are suffering are always in his thoughts.

At one point, he challenged a statement by Miller that African American leaders were critical of him. "There were a handful of African American leaders who were critical," Obama said. "They were critical when I was running for president."

A BET spokeswoman said it was the first in a series of BET News specials for the 2012 presidential election cycle.

Growth Charted for Latino, Black, Asian TV Households

"The number of Asian TV households in the U.S. for the 2011-2012 TV season will grow 9.6 percent (over 400,000 homes) compared to last year, according to Nielsen," the research company reported on Monday. "Hispanic or Latino TV households will increase 4.6 percent (over 600,000)."

The TV Universe Estimate for the 2011-2012 season put the number of African American or black households at 14,277,840; Hispanic or Latino households at 13,957,750; and Asian households at 5,273,450.

"The rapid growth of the Hispanic market has generated a number of headlines since the Census numbers were revealed, but the increase of Asian households should not be overlooked," Pat McDonough, senior vice president, insights and analysis for Nielsen said in the release. "The rate of change in Asian TV households outpaces that of Hispanic homes."

"Los Angeles remains the top market for both Hispanic and Asian TV households, while New York holds onto the top spot for African-American TV homes," the release said.

Meanwhile, Brian Stelter reported in the New York Times, "It has been conventional wisdom for decades that Americans rely more heavily on television than any other medium for local news and information. A study . . . released Monday found that to be narrowly true — but also found ample reason not to count out local newspapers, Web sites and radio stations.

"The report, by the Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, surveyed news consumers and concluded that while television is the main source for three popular topics — weather, traffic and breaking news — newspapers and their Web sites are the main source for 11 other topics, like local government updates, zoning news and crime reports. It also found that word of mouth, most likely including text messages and Twitter posts, is the second most common means of news distribution on the local level."

Bonnie Newman Davis Named to Endowed Chair at N.C. A&T

Bonnie Newman Davis, formerly an associate professor in the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University, has been named to the first (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record-Janice Bryant Howroyd Endowed Professorship in Journalism at North Carolina A&T State University, the school announced on Monday.

Davis was the National Association of Black Journalists' 2011 Journalism Educator of the Year. A former reporter at the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, she founded the Richmond Association of Black Journalists in 1995 and was director of university communications at Virginia Union University and a visiting professional at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communication at Hampton University.

DeWayne Wickham, the USA Today columnist who is interim chair of the A&T journalism department, said, "We're determined to build a world-class journalism program at North Carolina A&T and the hiring of Bonnie Newman Davis moves us closer to this goal. An outstanding [complement] to our great faculty, Professor Davis will play a major in managing the Multimedia Newsroom we are creating to give our students live-fire experience in reporting on multiple platforms."

Howroyd is the founder and president of the Act 1 Group. A bio says, ". . . she began the ACT 1 Group in 1978 as a small, one-phone-line employee placement office located in Beverly Hills. Three decades later, the company has offices across the US, and has expanded internationally, grossing nearly a billion dollars per year!"

"In this new role based in Miami, he will oversee production for Univision’s sports properties across all platforms," the announcement said.

". . . The span of Neal’s career includes various responsibilities within NBC, most recently as executive producer of NBC Sports. Since 2001, he also served as executive vice president of NBC Olympics, responsible for overseeing the production, programming and technical engineering departments of NBC’s Olympic division. During his 29 years at NBC, Neal produced nine Olympic Games, four NBA Finals, two World Series and a Super Bowl pregame show."

"The choice offers a hint at the largely safe, comforting approach of the new network, which counts Martin Luther King III among its founders.

"Bounce hopes to establish its identity with an early slate of films that includes old and new classics, inspirational stories, and showcases for African-American icons. It will also air specials, sports, documentaries and faith-based programs.

". . . . In its initial rollout, Bounce will be seen in Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston, Cleveland/Akron, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Hartford/New Haven, Norfolk, Dayton, West Palm Beach, Birmingham, Memphis, Louisville, Richmond, and other cities."

"Maria Elizabeth Macias's decapitated body was found over the weekend, the Tamaulipas state Attorney General's Office said.

"The 39-year-old journalist's body was found by police on Saturday in Nuevo Laredo, which lies across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas, the AG's office said.

". . . Macias, who signed her postings as 'La nena de Laredo' (The Chick from Laredo), used social-networking sites to report on a criminal organization, the AG's office said.

"Two young people were murdered on Sept. 13 and their bodies were left hanging off a pedestrian bridge in Nuevo Laredo for using social-networking Web sites to report criminals.

". . . Messages warning others not to use social-networking Web sites to report drug traffickers were left on each of the bodies."

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