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James Ragland Denies Wrongdoing; Wife Granted Protection

James Ragland will be reassigned to reporting in neighboring Collin County, Texas, while his arrest on a domestic assault charge is adjudicated, Morning News Editor Bob Mong told Journal-isms on Friday.

"There's no way he can continue his column where he isn't facing some inevitable conflict," Mong said. "He writes about the criminal justice system, the police . . . there's nothing he could do that wouldn't put him in a conflict."

First, however, Ragland will take two or three weeks off to attend to his affairs, Mong said.

Scott Goldstein recounted the turn of events in a story for Saturday's editions:

"Dallas police arrested Ragland on Sunday after his wife, Shannon Morley-Ragland, 42, accused him of pushing her to the floor and grabbing her by the hair during an argument at their Lake Highlands home. Ragland posted bond and was released from the Dallas County Jail later that day.

"On Tuesday, Ragland’s wife filed for divorce, according to public records. She cited 'discord or conflict of personalities' between them. The couple has two children together.

"A judge on Sunday granted Ragland's wife an emergency protection order which prohibits him from coming into contact with her.

"Morley-Ragland could not be reached for comment. Her attorney, Aimee Pingenot, said in a written statement Friday: 'At this time she does
not have any comments to make to the press, besides a request for privacy for her and her family during this time.'

"According to police documents, Ragland and his wife began arguing late Saturday night over her texting someone. The argument at their home allegedly continued into the morning; Morley-Ragland said her husband at one point threw her cell phone at her.

"She told police that as she was getting ready for church Sunday morning, Ragland pushed her down and pulled her hair, the documents said.

"Morley-Ragland then drove to Dallas Bible Church in the 15700 block of Hillcrest Road. Other people there saw that she was upset and called 911. Two officers were at the church when Ragland arrived and arrested him."

The story also said, "In a written statement Friday, Ragland denied the charge, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

" 'I ask for your patience and prayers for my family as this matter proceeds through the legal system,' Ragland said. 'I am confident that it will be shown that I am innocent of these allegations. My priority for the future remains being the best father to my children that I can possibly be.'

"Ragland, 50, a News columnist since 2000, is also an adjunct journalism professor at Richland College. An official there said his status has not changed."

On the Morning News website, Ragland lists this as his career track: "The Dallas Morning News, reporter, 1985-91. The Washington Post, reporter, 1991-94. The Dallas Morning News, editor, 1994-99. For academic year 1999-2000, I participated in a customized Belo training program and served as a visiting professor of journalism and adviser to the president, TAMU [Texas A&M University] -Commerce. The Dallas Morning News, columnist, writing for the Metropolitan and Texas Living sections, 2000-present."

Greg Moore to Oversee Additional Newsrooms

"Greg Moore, editor of The Denver Post, will oversee newsgathering operations at other Digital First Media newspapers in Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico and Texas, and other Post executives have been given new corporate duties, John Paton, CEO of the newspaper's parent company, announced Thursday," Mark Harden reported for the Denver Business Journal.

"As Digital First's 'central editor,' Moore will oversee newsrooms at such Digital First newspapers as the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, the El Paso (Texas) Times and the Boulder [Colo.] Camera. He will remain the Post's editor as well.

"Digital First is the new umbrella company that now runs both Denver-based MediaNews Group Inc., the Post's operator, and Yardley, Pa.-based Journal Register Co."

"Great opportunity and I am excited," Moore said on his Facebook page. He will remain in Denver, Jim Brady, the editor-in-chief of Digital First Media to whom Moore and other editors will report, told Journal-isms.

According to a bio prepared for his service on the Pulitzer Prize board, which he joined in 2004, "Gregory L. Moore has been editor of the Denver Post since June 2002. Prior to that, he was managing editor of the Boston Globe.

"The Cleveland native graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1976 with a degree in journalism and political science. Later that year, he became a reporter for Dayton, Ohio's Journal Herald and covered a number of beats, including city hall. In 1980, Moore returned to Cleveland, where he spent six years and covered county and city government before being named state political editor and then day city editor for the Plain Dealer." 

Sportswriter Allen Wilson Dies After Battling Leukemia

"Allen Wilson, an award-winning sportswriter and columnist for The Allen WilsonBuffalo News, died today after a battle with leukemia at Roswell Park Cancer Institute," Mark Gaughan reported Saturday for the News. "He was 49.

"Wilson worked for The News for the past 20 years and was a Buffalo Bills beat reporter since 1999.

"He was widely respected among journalists and by the teams he covered for his astute knowledge of sports and for his commitment to fairness and accuracy.

"He was honored five times in the past decade alone by the New York State Associated Press Association for both sports reporting and column writing. He won the AP's distinguished sports reporting award in 2007 for a two-part series he wrote on former prep basketball star Ritchie Campbell." [Added Dec. 3]

NABJ Leader Gives Thumbs Down to Thumbs Down Award

The Thumbs Down Award of the National Association of Black Journalists, a succinct expression of disapproval bestowed on and off for two decades, is being retired, NABJ President Gregory H. Lee Jr. told Journal-isms on Friday.

The award was not given in 2010 or 2011 despite vigorous debate by the NABJ boards, and had become susceptible to inconsistencies and conflicts of interest, Lee said.

The downward thumb was to be "awarded to an individual or organization for especially insensitive, racist or stereotypical reporting, commentary, photography or a cartoon about the black community published or aired during the eligibility period, or for engaging in practices at odds with the goals of the National Association of Black Journalists," according to an NABJ description.

But sometimes those nominated were the employers of board members who then felt uncomfortable, or were companies that NABJ was wooing for sponsorships. Last year, board members said privately, the intention was to give the award to Internet companies that refused to disclose their diversity statistics. This year, according to Sept. 7 board minutes [PDF for NABJ members], "The award was given to all cable networks for a lack of primetime on-air diversity."

Lee said the decision was made in executive session and thus was not an official board action.

Instead, Lee said he has charged the NABJ's Media Monitoring Committee with developing an annual report card where "everyone will be placed on alert, good or bad. No company will be left out, from the New York Times to Gannett, from NBC to ABC."

The Thumbs Down awards began in 1989, with the initial recipients NBC News for the derisive tone of its obituary of Max Robinson, the first black network anchor, who died of AIDS, and columnist Pat Buchanan, who wrote, "if a young black or a young white male, sidles up to ask directions, and one of the two is a robber, rapist or killer, the odds are at least 11-to-1 that it is the black male," as Jet magazine recounted at the time. Buchanan would become a repeat winner.

Other Thumbs Down recipients have included the New Republic in 1995 for an attack on Cornel West under the guise of describing "The Decline of the Black Intellectual," Black Entertainment Television in 2006 for failing to join others in live coverage of the funerals of Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, and JoAnn Haysbert, the Hampton University provost who in 2003 ordered that copies of the student newspaper be seized.

In 1991, Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle was cited for telling a television interviewer, "I know more about being black, being under siege in this city, than any other black writer or black TV person you can name or find."

Told of his selection, Barnicle said, "I never actually received anything from them, not an award or even a gift certificate, but I'm very proud to have received any award." Seven years later, Barnicle was fired for ethical violations.

The board's executive-session vote this year followed NABJ complaints that the weekday prime-time lineup on the cable news networks had no hosts or anchors of color. After those complaints, the Rev. Al Sharpton was named to host "PoliticsNation" in MSNBC's pre-prime time 6 p.m. slot.

MSNBC's parent NBCUniversal and its rival CNN had previously been cited by NABJ for their diversity efforts.

Naturally, these networks were not pleased when they learned of their Thumbs Down selection, even though it was never awarded.

Jeremy M. Gaines, spokesman for MSNBC, told Journal-isms on Friday, "We couldn't disagree more strongly with their decision. We're very proud of MSNBC's record of diversity both on and off air. It's no accident that MSNBC is the number one cable news channel among African American viewers."

Paula Madison, who retired this year as executive vice president and chief diversity officer for NBCUniversal, and is honorary chairwoman of NABJ's 2012 convention, said by email, ". . . diversity in primetime on cable networks as well as broadcast networks remains an area that needs continued attention.

"As you know, I was a major advocate of MSNBC's hiring of Rev. Al Sharpton to host their 6p show, Politics Nation. Al's ratings among Blacks are particularly impressive. I hope the show's ratings improve to the point where MSNBC would consider moving it to prime." Madison is also a board member of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

Time Magazine's Cover Choices Leave Some Anxious

The Dec. 5 cover of the U.S. edition of Time featured "Anxiety," while the European, Asian and South Pacific editions showcased turmoil in Egypt, as emailers and bloggers pointed out this week. "And some wonder why Americans Are So Dumbed Down?" read the subject line of one email.

Time responded in its issue published Friday:

"Last week’s issue also caused considerable consternation among bloggers and readers, who objected to our putting the protests in Egypt inside our domestic edition and on the cover overseas. 'Why is anxiety the most pressing issue in the U.S. while the Egyptian revolution gets front-page treatment internationally?' read a typical e-mail. Observers at ShortFormBlog analyzed a year’s worth of our covers and concluded each edition gets the same amount of hard news, give or take an issue or two. We’re glad to be held to high expectations, especially when the bar is set by one of our own editions."

Blacks, Latinos More Likely to Believe in Global Warming

Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to say there is solid evidence of global warming [PDF], according to a national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released Thursday.

Asked whether Earth was warming, 59 percent of white non-Hispanics said yes, compared with 69 percent of black non-Hispanics and 74 percent of Hispanics.

Asked to choose a reason, 33 percent of white non-Hispanics said "mostly human activity," compared with 40 percent of blacks non-Hispanics and 56 percent of Hispanics.

Overall, the center said, "The percentage of Americans who say there is solid evidence of global warming has increased modestly over the past two years. Currently, 63% say there is solid evidence that the earth’s average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades. In October 2009, 57% expressed this view."

The survey coincided with the U.N. climate summit in Durban, South Africa, which continues until Dec. 9.

"The main aim . . . is to produce an agreement about targets for emissions by developed countries, and longer term targets from developing countries," Julian Hunt wrote Friday for Canada's Ottawa Citizen."But with sudden switches in energy policies, environmental regulations and accidents such as Fukushima in Japan, plus increasing financial fragility, national governments are increasingly aware of how policy in these areas impacts on everyone’s lives as well as the economy."

Shawn McCarthy wrote in Toronto's Globe and Mail:

"The rains have not come to the North African Sahel this season, and many Africans leaders believe the looming hunger crisis is the result of man-made climate change that developed countries have imposed on the world.

"It is impossible to pin any one weather event on climate change – droughts have happened throughout the history of the region. But African negotiators gathering in Durban, South Africa, believe they are the canaries in the coal mine, arguing they have seen more extreme weather in recent years than at any previous time.

". . . . 'Climate change is our war on terror,' says Seyni Nafo, a Mali native and senior negotiator for the African delegation at Durban. 'Climate change is really threatening the very parameters on which life can be sustained and Mali is on the front line. So for us, the issue needs to be confronted now.' "

Society of Environmental Journalists: Durban Diary

"A South African journalist is reported to have been detained in a Doha prison, dismissed from his position at Al Jazeera and deported from Qatar -- all because an HIV test taken without his consent returned a positive result.

"Human rights organisation, Section27 incorporates the Aids Law Project, described as one of South Africa's most successful post-apartheid human rights organisations. On Wednesday, Section27 revealed that a journalist from South Africa had suffered discrimination by Al Jazeera English. The journalist, whose identity has not been revealed, accepted a job as a senior editor with Al Jazeera in October 2010 and relocated to Doha. Two months after his arrival, he was sent for a battery of medical tests.

"Section27 alleges that he was not informed which tests in particular were being conducted, nor was he informed of the results of any of these tests.

"A month later he had not received the results of his blood tests and then underwent blood tests at his own expense at a private clinic in Doha. When he returned for his results later that evening, he was chased off the clinic premises by clinic staff and security guards.

"The following day he was called to a meeting at Al Jazeera's offices where he was ordered to get into a car. He was taken to Doha Prison, where he is said to have been detained in a crowded cell and was forced to undergo a full medical examination, including a full body search, in view of other prisoners.

"After his release from the Doha Prison, he was ordered to leave Qatar within 48 hours, failing which he would be arrested. He was also informed that his employment contract had been terminated.

"Section27 claims that it was only upon his return to South Africa that he discovered that he had been infected with HIV and that his HIV status was the reason for his arrest, incarceration, dismissal and deportation. . . ." 

Kanya D'Almeida, Inter-Press Service: Poverty and Racism Fuel HIV/AIDS Epidemic in U.S.  

The Rev. Stacey Latimer, CNN.com: Attention black churches: Ignorance on HIV/AIDS can kill  

Ray Taliaferro Out as Bay Area Station Goes All-News

"A big shakeup is coming to KGO radio: Many of its most recognizable voices are being let go as the station, which can be heard up and down the West Coast, switches to 'all-news' format from 2 p.m. to midnight starting Monday," Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross wrote Friday for the San Francisco Chronicle.

". . . Among those who will leave the station are talk-show veterans Gene Burns, Gil Gross, Ray Taliaferro and John Rothmann."

When Taliaferro was inducted this year into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame, NABJ said, "Ray was the first black talk show host on a major market radio station in the country. Taliaferro has literally owned the Bay Area's overnight radio listening audience since 1986 when his talk show moved to the 1 to 5 a.m. time slot."

"Believed to be the first African-American to hold the position of vice president at both a major TV network and a motion picture studio, Robertson developed and produced 'Harris and Company,' a short-lived 1979 NBC show that starred Bernie Casey and was the first weekly dramatic series to depict a black family.

"Later, he executive produced the Bill Cosby comedy 'Ghost Dad' (1990) and 'Men of Honor' (2000), which starred Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. in the story of the first African-American, and the first amputee, to become a U.S. Navy diver.

". . . After receiving a degree from Los Angeles City College in 1949, Robertson worked for two years as a general assignment reporter for The Los Angeles Sentinel, then the largest-circulated black newspaper in the West. He rose to become managing editor, then departed for an associate editor position at Ebony magazine.

"Determined to learn and work in the entertainment business, [Robertson] left Ebony and went back to school in 1954 to study telecommunications at USC. He became a page at NBC in 1957, then joined the network’s music clearance department before eventually landing the vp job at the network, where he was responsible for programming produced on NBC’s primetime schedule." 

"During his career at the AP, Coe reported from the Texas Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Ike in 2008, and was one of the first reporters to arrive at the scene of a bus crash that killed 17 passengers in Sherman earlier that year. He wrote about the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the return of US Airways Capt. Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, who successfully landed a passenger jet in the Hudson River in 2009, to his hometown of Denison.

" 'Andre would appear in our cramped newsroom after a long day out in the wet heat of a summer disturbed by Ike, drop a backpack heavy with gear, and inquire about our story,' said David Scott, the AP’s Central Regional editor. 'Invariably, it was a story for which he’d again earned the byline, having dictated throughout the day the details and interviews that made it work.'

"Coe had just started working as an editorial assistant at the AP’s West Regional desk in 2010 when he was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer."

"A federal lawsuit filed Monday in Chicago accused Comcast Corp. of discriminating against the African-American employees of its South Side facility and its own customers by requiring workers to install defective or bug-infested equipment into residents' homes," Corilyn Shropshire reported Wednesday for the Chicago Tribune.

In Chicago, "Following a segment about gift-giving in a tough economy, WFLD anchor Robin Robinson reported something that no child wants to hear this time of year: there is no Santa Claus," Andrew Gauthier reported Thursday for TVSpy. "And Robinson didn’t stop with that simple fact — she went on to basically throw a bomb down the chimney during WFLD’s 9 p.m. newscast on Tuesday. . . . 'But he’s not coming down the chimney, he’s not eating those cookies, he’s not bringing you anything!' . . . During WFLD’s 9 p.m. newscast last night, Robinson apologized for crushing the dreams of children across the Chicago area." 

Lauren Williams is succeeding Sheryl Salomon as deputy editor of theRoot.com after Salomon's promotion to managing editor, Salomon told staffers on Friday. Joel Dreyfuss, who left as managing editor to relocate to Paris, will continue to contribute as senior editor-at-large. "Lauren has been associate editor of The Root, based in our Washington, DC office, since the fall of 2010. Having previously been an editor at AOL Black Voices, Stereohyped, and MenuPages, as well as a reporter at The Daily Press in Virginia, Lauren brings a wealth of experience in journalism, online media, and editorial management to her new role at The Root," Salomon said.

A "healthy sense of pride and self-awareness may be on the rise among young U.S. Afro-Latinas, despite the kind of veiled racism, ignorance and denial -- from Latinos and non-Latinos alike -- that can make everyday life a challenge . . . say Afro-Latino activists and experts," Damarys Ocana wrote Tuesday for Latina magazine. "Part of the reason may be that there are more Afro-Latinas with high-profile careers than ever before -- including Zoe Saldana, Lauren Vélez, Dania Ramirez, La La Anthony, Arlenis Sosa, Joan Smalls and Soledad O’Brien — and they are vocal about their heritage and race." Meanwhile, Telemundo has picked "the 25 Most Beautiful Afro-Latinas in Hollywood" and a Miami show explores the racial 'complex' of growing up Dominican in New York.

"In Burmese, it's called Myanma. But in English, the world's divided between Myanmar and Burma ," reads a blurb for a blog Friday by Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR's ombudsman. "Few Americans cared, but now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited this week and the country is emerging from the dictatorial shadows. Linguistics and legitimacy say its time to put Burma to rest." Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists warned, "While the international community debates whether Burma is changing profoundly or only incrementally, its media is still in shackles." 

Rafat Ali, founder of paidContent.org in 2002, described meeting conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck at a conference. "There are only a few times in life you stand in front of pure evil, eye-to-eye, and confront the bully who lobs bombs that tears away at the fabric of our civilized existence. Today was that day for me," Ali wrote. He recalled saying, "Glenn, I am a Muslim, and this is what a Muslim face looks like [I say while using my fingers to frame my face and beard). I am not sure if you’ve ever seen a Muslim up close before." 

Doris E. McMillon, a former anchor and reporter for WNYW-TV in New York, is credited with inspiring a new documentary, "Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story," the story of so-called "brown babies," the children of German women and black American soldiers conceived during World War II, Keli Goff reported Friday for Loop21.com. 

Duncan McCue, a journalism professor at the University of British Columbia and reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s "The National," has launched a website to help journalists report about Aboriginal communities, Belinda Alzner reported Wednesday for the Canadian Journalism Project.

"The nation's first free broadcast network targeting African-American audiences arrived in the nation's fourth-largest media market on Thursday," JoAnn Loviglio reported Thursday for the Associated Press. "Atlanta-based Bounce TV is an over-the-air free channel supported by sponsors and is geared toward black viewers ages 25 to 54. Unlike cable channels, Bounce TV is one of a growing number of networks carried on the broadcast digital signals of local television stations."

"The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has written the Federal Communications Commission to ask that it focus on diversity in its quadrennial ownership rule review," John Eggerton wrote for Multichannel News. "In addition to the congressional mandate for the review, the FCC is also taking a fresh look on orders from the Third Circuit, which remanded its last rule changes back to the commission in July for a better explanation of the diversity efforts as part of its last rule revision in 2007."

"In a boost for the East Bay economy, an international call center company plans to bring 300 new jobs to downtown Oakland with its $8 million purchase of the historic but long-neglected Tribune Tower Building, brokers said Thursday," George Avalos wrote Thursday for the Oakland Tribune.

"University of Kansas journalism professor Scott Reinardy surveyed more than 2,000 'layoff survivors' at newspapers for his study published in the Atlantic Journal of Communication," Jim Romenesko reported Friday on his blog. "He found that many who survived rounds of cuts 'trust the decision makers are making the right choices because they were spared.' Journalists who took on new responsibilities 'tended to have the highest morale and showed commitment to their organizations,' says a release about the study. 'Not all viewed such changes favorably.' "

"On Thursday, nearly 200 Atlantans gathered at Georgia Tech to talk media ownership. Federal Communications Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael Copps urged the people of Atlanta to demand better news, and to participate in debates about media ownership," according to Jean Ettinger of the advocacy group Free Press. "Panelists at the event spoke about the need for the public, and especially women and people of color, to have a voice in the media, and in creating news that serves community needs."

"The All Pakistan Cable Operators Association must immediately unblock the BBC World News television channel in Pakistan," the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday. "Operators began censoring the channel Tuesday in response to a documentary they considered 'anti-Pakistan,' and threatened to pull other foreign news channels, the BBC said."

"Reporters Without Borders is stunned to learn that Rwandan journalist Charles Ingabire, an outspoken critic of the Rwandan government and editor of the Inyenyeri News website, was gunned down in the early hours of yesterday in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, where he had lived in exile since 2007. . . . While it is still too soon to say who is responsible for his murder, we point out that exiled Rwandan journalists are often in danger, especially in Kampala, where several of them have been physically attacked this year," the press-freedom organization said on Friday.

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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.