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Fox Chief Roger Ailes Takes Swipe at Soledad O'Brien

Roger E. Ailes, chairman of Fox News, referred to anchor Soledad O'Brien of rival network CNN as "that girl that's named after a prison" after a lecture Thursday before journalism students at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Chapel Hill, Melody Guyton Butts reported for the Herald-Sun in Durham, N.C.

O'Brien told Journal-isms by email on Friday, "My parents, who are devout catholics, named me 'maria de la soledad', which translates from spanish to 'our mary of solitude' aka the virgin mary. . . . He's wrong. I'm not named after a prison, I'm named after the Virgin Mary, because my parents are devout Catholics."

Soledad O'Brien was not pleased. She added, "Not to mention it's somewhat odd for a 71 year old man to call a 45 year old woman and mother of four a 'girl'."

The Wikipedia entry for Soledad, Calif., which is five miles south of the California correctional facility, notes the name's long history. "The original community of Soledad was founded as a Spanish mission October 9, 1791 by Fermín Lasuén, and founded under the rule of the Viceroyalty of New Spain (Virreinato de Nueva España) 1535 to 1821," it says.

O'Brien, daughter of a white Australian father and a black Cuban mother, was named "Journalist of the Year" by the National Association of Black Journalists in 2010. NABJ called her "the impetus of CNN's acclaimed 'In America' franchise, which began with CNN's 'Black [in] America' in 2008, a groundbreaking documentary, which took an in-depth look at the challenges confronting blacks in America." Later, the series took on "Latino in America" and "Gay in America."

"Soledad is a solid journalist with a long list of accomplishments," Bob Butler, NABJ vice president of broadcast, said in a news release at the time. "Her reporting is always done with great thought and perspective. We are proud to have her in the NABJ family."

In another part of his talk, Ailes said, "[In] 15 years we have never taken a story down because it was wrong. You can't say that about CNN, CBS or the New York Times,' " Erik Wemple wrote for the Washington Post. "That account comes from the Twitter feed of journalist Gabriel Sherman. Another report on the event — it wasn't livestreamed — contained this interpretation of the Ailes boast:

"He claimed Thursday that the channel has never had to retract a story for inaccuracies...

"The debunking began right away. . . . "

Diversity a Concern in Washington Post Buyouts

Amid scuttlebutt that a disproportionate number of black journalists at the Washington Post are planning to take a buyout offer by Monday's deadline, both the Newspaper Guild and management said they would be conscious of the impact of departures on newsroom diversity.

"Yes, we're watching that closely," Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli told Journal-isms by email on Friday. "As I've said before, diversity in the newsroom, and in every department of the newsroom, is essential to our success. The Post serves a diverse community, a diverse nation, a diverse world. We should reflect that diversity, and we will work to ensure that we do."

Nikita Stewart, a Post reporter who is vice chair of the Post unit of the Guild, said in a message, "We actually have teamed with black employees with committees to help guide folks through the buyout and to think about the opportunities that could be created internally after the buyouts. . . . we would like to have conversations with management about how to guarantee a commitment or an effort to diversity. Some conversations have taken place already though briefly and informally."

Brauchli said he did not know yet how many people the Post is hoping will take the buyout.

Despite the scuttlebutt, only one black journalist was willing to say on the record that she plans to take the buyout. Lisa Frazier Page, social issues editor on the Local staff, said in a message, "I am taking the buyout, and I am very excited about it. We are moving home to New Orleans. My husband is retiring. I hope to write books full time. I am finishing up my fourth book project and planning to start another this summer."

In the 2012 diversity census of the American Society of News Editors, the Post reported 25.3 percent journalists of color: .5 percent American Indian, 8.0 percent Asian American, 12.9 percent black and 3.8 percent Hispanic.

[Update: Tony P. Knott, an assistant news editor, said Sunday that he planned to take the buyout.]

Some Big Players Still Missing in Online Diversity Survey

The number of online-only news organizations participating in the American Society of News Editors' diversity census has almost tripled since 2010, from 27 to 75, according to figures ASNE released last week, but some of the largest online news sites still are missing.

They include about.com, annarbor.com, Huffington Post, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo, the Daily Beast, Tucson Citizen and Yahoo.

Some, such as Yahoo, have steadfastly refused to cooperate, citing a desire to protect "trade secrets." Others offered Journal-isms different explanations this week.

"I spoke with the [woman] who runs the survey and told her that I would definitely fill out the survey as soon as it included our whole organization," Josh Marshall, founder, editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com, said by email. "As it is it excludes the entire tech and publishing parts of the company. That doesn't make sense to me. . . . for us, tech and publishing, we're all together in one big news room, working together etc."

However, Rhoades Alderson, spokesman for Huffington Post, said this week, "Because ASNE came to us with a tight deadline at a time when we were still unifying two large and distinct newsrooms in the wake of our merger, we were not able to collect reliable data on time. But we look forward to reporting our data next year."

Andrew Kirk, spokesman for the Daily Beast, said, "We have not been asked to fill out any census information about our newsroom by ASNE or any other organization — whose attention was it sent for? And when?"

Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, said, "We decided to participate, but apparently there was a bug on their website that led us to believe we'd completed the survey when we hadn't." The surveys were filled out online this year.

"If we can get them to reopen, we will add our 2011 data. Otherwise, we'll participate next year."

Neither David Talbot, founder and CEO of Salon.com, nor his public relations team responded to an inquiry.

Of four sites that did not respond in a previous attempt but did so this time — MinnPost.com, Stateline.org, Capital Times and Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism — none reported journalists of color.

However, Oakland Local in California reported 73.3 percent; Rio Grande Guardian in McAllen, Texas, 72.7 percent; TucsonSentinel.com, 42.9 percent; Center for Investigative Reporting/California Watch, Berkeley, Calif., 42.4 percent; and Progress Illinois, 40 percent.

Hundreds Fill Harlem Church at Sendoff for Gil Noble

"Two events at the same time this morning: The funeral of WABC-TV veteran Gil Noble, who was a groundbreaking reporter and anchor, and the news conference of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, whose heroics last night saved his neighbors from their burning building," Bill Ritter wrote Friday on the website of the New York television station.

"At Gil's wake last night, a packed Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem heard the other groundbreaking black journalists tell stories about Gil and the times back then. The 1960s when blacks not only didn't have a seat at the table, most didn't have a seat of any kind."

A spokeswoman for Abyssinian told Journal-isms that the church, with a 1,400-person capacity, was filled. Noble died at age 80 on April 5 after suffering a stroke last year.

The New York Amsterdam News reported, "The closed casket service brought out the who's who of notable Black New Yorkers and national figures who shared memories and tributes to Noble. Among those who spoke were Louis [Farrakhan], actor Danny Glover, Susan Taylor and Mayor David Dinkins.

". . . Others that attended and spoke at the funeral were politicians including City Councilman Charles Barron, Assemblywoman Inez Barron, Congressman Charlie Rangel and State Senator Bill Perkins. Several from the academic world were also present including Adelaide Sanford, writer Amiri Baraka and Black studies professor Dr. Leonard [Jeffries]. Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan and Les Payne were also in the audience.

". . . A lover of jazz music, Noble's passion was showcased through tribute performances including the playing of his favorite song 'Misty.' Musicians Randy Weston, Alex Blake and Leon Dorsey performed the jazz selections." 

Leonard Greene, New York Post: What Gil passed on 

Alton H. Maddox Jr., Buffalo Bullet blog: In Remembrance of Gil Noble (April 5) 

F. Finley McRae, theRoot.com: Saying Goodbye to Gil Noble

Student Fired Before He Started Is Getting Other Offers

Khristopher Brooks, the student whose job offer was rescinded by the  News Journal in Wilmington, Del., after he used the newspaper's logo and quoted from the editor's hiring letter on his website, said the publicity has generated job offers from other organizations.

In an essay posted Thursday on Huffington Post, Brooks wrote, ". . . I pondered all this while sitting at my desk at Black Voices," where he is an intern. "I looked at the computer screen and suddenly I had a handful of emails. Job offers. All across the country, from as near as Connecticut, out to Iowa and even more pouring in today. I received an offer to write a essay for a popular online magazine and my followers on Twitter have reached out to me. Most of them are saying, 'ahh, you didn't want to be with Gannett anyway.' "

In an interview with Aaron Morrison of Loop21.com, Brooks said he had four job interviews lined up.

Brooks replied, "I think I would do the same. Minus the logo, minus the quote from David Ledford," editor of the News Journal, "and I probably leave the editors' names out of it. But I would still do it. I think fundamentally what I did was still right. But if I didn't use the logo or the quote, I think they probably wouldn't have had any grounds to fire me."

Whoops! Tweet Wasn't Intended to Be Public

"The Star Tribune's Tom Lee scored a mammoth scoop Tuesday with news that Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn's resignation came amid a company investigation into alleged personal misconduct, which Lee today reported was an alleged 'inappropriate relationship with a female employee,' " David Brauer reported Thursday for MinnPost in Minneapolis.

"Wednesday night, Lee published a scoop he seems to have regretted.

"Via the social networking site Twitter, Lee sent two messages to an Tom Leeaccount belonging to Brian Dunn. I've redacted them for reasons I'll explain in a sec:

" '@briandunn Brian, I'm a reporter for the Star Tribune. I'm writing a story that says BBY board is investigating you for XX XXXXXXX XXXXX…'

" '@briandunn BBY employee XXXX XXXX. Is this true? Contact me at Thomas.lee@startribune.com or 612-202-2307."

"Twitter allows people to send each other private, direct messages, or DMs, but Lee's were public. That put the woman's name out in the wild, where competitors and curious citizens — including the one who tipped me off — could read what the newspaper was not confident enough to print in its Thursday front-page follow-up.

"Lee's tweets were a mistake because there needs to be some standard of proof (and subsequently, judgment) before someone's name is put out in public.

"More than an hour later, the messages were deleted."

Lee, a business reporter at the Star Tribune who is also national vice president for print of the Asian American Journalists Association, has not responded to requests for comment. 

"Diversity is important, and almost all of us can do better with it," Jimmy Boegle, Tucson Weekly editor and AAN diversity chair, said in an announcement Thursday. "And by doing better, that means tangible things: More readers, more advertisers, and more respect."

"Boegle said the document [PDF] was the idea of former Creative Loafing (Charlotte) editor Carlton Hargro, who was previously a committee member. He credits Hargro and Jackson Free Press editor Donna Ladd with doing the 'heavy lifting on the writing' and the other committee members with sharing tips and comments," the announcement said.

According to the document, "Media-diversity experts advise that media sources need diversity on three intertwined elements: (1) recruitment, hiring and retention; (2) diverse content; and (3) culture in the newsroom and other departments. You can do well at one or two of those components and still fail at diversity. It is necessary to focus on all three to succeed."

Separately, Will Sutton, Reynolds visiting professor at Grambling State University and a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, published Tuesday "An 11-point plan for adding diversity to business journalism ranks" on the website of the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism.

"The grant that supports my visiting stint ends June 30," Sutton wrote. "When I leave, there won't be any faculty members teaching business journalism. There's no Bloomberg terminal. There are two classrooms with Macs and PCs, but only a few with updated software such as Adobe Flash and Final Cut Pro. There's no Soundslides software on any of the computers. Some computers don't have updated Word software, or no Word software at all."

Among his suggestions:

"Hire at least 10 students of color for Summer 2012 internships, requiring each to be SABEW members," referring to the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

"Commit to a more competitive Summer 2013 internship process, requiring students of color to . . . demonstrate an interest in business journalism as a part of the application process. Include representatives from UNITY: Journalists of Color and the National Association of Black Journalists. Perhaps coordinate this effort through the Reynolds Center, SABEW and Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication because the university has a proven commitment to business journalism."

White Nationalists Still Writing for MarketWatch

"In the past week, not one but two writers, Robert Weissberg and John Derbyshire, were fired from the conservative magazine National Review for being overtly racist," Matthew Fleischer wrote Friday for FishbowlLA. " . . . The very public sackings turned into a feel good story for most of the non-racist world, and led The Atlantic to boast that 'people who make a living off being racist…are [an] endangered species.'

"But are they? [MarketWatch], owned by Dow Jones, employs not one, but two contributors to the white nationalist site VDare. And neither seems to be in danger of losing their jobs. The first is Peter Brimelow, the editor of VDare who we've written about on this site before.

". . .  He's joined by economic consultant Edwin Rubenstein, who also moonlights as an analyst for the National Policy Institute — an organization that aspires to 'elevate the consciousness of whites, ensure our biological and cultural continuity, and protect our civil rights.' " 

Race and Media Discussed, From Hip-Hop to Haiti Coverage

"A 12-year-old knocks out Alfred Liggins," the CEO of Radio One, the Rev. Al Sharpton proclaimed at a panel discussion on race and the media Friday at a National Action Network conference in Washington.

The girl had asked why Radio One stations played so much hip-hop, which she compared with drug dealing.

Liggins replied, "If we don't reflect the culture coming out of our communities, we're not doing our job as a media outlet." David Gregory, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," said he grew up listening to hip-hop in Los Angeles in the 1980s, recalling the songs "White Lines" and "Rapper's Delight," and lamented that the hip-hop music to which his 9-year-old is exposed has fewer positive messages.

At another point, Gregory said the challenge for the media is to determine which issues should and should not be about race. For example, "When does President Obama face opposition because he's black?"

Fellow NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell said crises in Haiti or Sudan are too often covered only when familiar white figures are visiting, and said the Trayvon Martin case demonstrated the need for diverse news meetings. "I haven't lived it," she said of the experience of racial profiling. "There aren't enough people at the news meetings who will say, 'This is important.' " She also said there was too much "on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand" reporting. "Let's call it as we see it," Mitchell said.

George Curry, editor of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, said, "There is a racial divide in this country, even where there shouldn't be," citing the response to Hurricane Katrina. "People don't stop being white just because they go into journalism."

Nia-Malika Henderson, who is covering the presidential campaign for the Washington Post, agreed with April D. Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks that black journalists are not asked enough to comment on issues in addition to race, and urged an audience member who wanted to make more of an impact on the media to make use of YouTube.

Sharpton began by asking the group to discuss "how to discuss race without being polarizing." Anna Lopez Buck, interim executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and Dana Milbank, a Washington Post columnist, were also on the panel.

C-SPAN recorded the discussion, which can be viewed online.

Ex-CNN Draw Eyes Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Steven Colbert

T.J. Holmes, who left his job as a CNN weekend anchor in December for Black Entertainment Television, will host a late-night BET show that has more in common with Jon Stewart than with traditional journalism, BET told potential advertisers on Thursday.

BET provided this summary of the show at an "Upfront" preview for advertisers and others Thursday in Los Angeles:

"DON'T SLEEP WITH T.J. HOLMES is a fresh new voice joining the ranks of Jon Stewart, [Stephen] Colbert and Bill Maher. T.J. Holmes gives you a good reason to stay up late. With hilarious 'correspondents,' T.J.'s sure to have viewers rolling with laughter over the absurdity of today's hot-button issues.

"Speaking through a unique and smart African American filter, T.J. invites the community to wake up on the issues that affect them; don't sleep on the stories that mainstream news outlets won't cover. The show will also open ears with captivating, unexpected musical performances. DON'T SLEEP WITH T.J. HOLMES reports with keen focus to keep Black America engaged and in the know."

Just what Holmes would be doing at BET has been under wraps since the affable anchor switched networks. Holmes tweeted today: "Big day n LA! I get 2 reveal a secret I've been holding on 2 for a while: the title of my new show on BET. But I'll tell u 1st, of course."

However, in previous interviews, Holmes made much of his desire to be a news presence at the network, never mentioning comedy.

He told Akoto Ofori-Atta of theRoot.com in December, for example, "My role will be as a journalist. They brought me on because of my news background and for my news chops. I think many people in the black community would like to turn the TV on when they get home or even in the morning to see news coverage about things that matter to them, coming from people who look like them and talk like them. We have a great opportunity to do that next year, and I hope to play a huge role."

In congratulating Holmes on his new position, Gregory H. Lee Jr. , president of the National Association of Black Journalists, likewise mentioned news. He said in a December news release, "NABJ extends our sincere congratulations to T.J. on his move to BET and [applauds] the network for reemphasizing the importance of news as part of its programming."

However, Holmes' career at BET is apparently being guided by Stephen G. Hill, president of music programming and specials at BET Networks, and not by BET's news division, which is headed by David Scott. It was Hill who was quoted when BET announced Holmes' signing.

Meanwhile, a prank by Holmes on Twitter was taken seriously by some writing online.

Holmes tweeted Wednesday morning, "On a flight w/my old CNN boss. We're negotiating my return." Later, he added, "I expect to announce to you all this week some news about my future."

Quoting those tweets, the website Carpe Diem posted a story with the headline, "T. J. Holmes: We're Negotiating My [CNN] Return." That, in turn, was picked up Thursday by the subscription-only NewsBlues with a headline that stated flatly, "T.J. Holmes returning to CNN from BET."

Holmes is not the only journalist to tweak his Twitter followers. After the Academy Awards, the author and essayist Touré wrote that Meryl Streep was preparing to play Martin Luther King Jr.

"One in five American adults does not use the internet," according to the Pew Internet Project. "Senior citizens, those who prefer to take our interviews in Spanish rather than English, adults with less than a high school education, and those living in households earning less than $30,000 per year are the least likely adults to have internet access. Among adults who do not use the internet, almost half have told us that the main reason they don't go online is because they don't think the internet is relevant to them. Most have never used the internet before, and don't have anyone in their household who does."

"A new study shows that in an average week, 74 percent of all Internet users rely on local newspaper media – digital as well as print -- as key sources of news and information, and are engaging with their local newspaper across multiple platforms," the Newspaper Association of America reported on Thursday.

Ryan Julison"It's likely that [Trayvon] Martin's death, which resulted in the arrest and indictment Wednesday of confessed shooter George Zimmerman, would never have crowded into the national consciousness had it not been for Martin's family, its lawyers and an enterprising PR man," Paul Farhi wrote Friday in the Washington Post. ". . . A pivotal, if little-known, figure in the Martin story's development was Ryan Julison, an Orlando public relations executive who began working with the Martin family at the behest of its attorneys, Benjamin Crump and Natalie Jackson."

In a MediaBistro interview Friday with Janell Harris on "How to Pitch: Jet," Jet magazine's editor-in-chief, Mitzi Miller, said, "A lot of things have changed recently with Jet in terms of our tone and the type of stories that we're now covering, and I can tell when writers have truly been paying attention and when they're just like, 'Oh, I remember when my mom used to read Jet.' "

Michelle Morgante "Michelle Morgante, former assistant chief of bureau for the Associated Press in Miami, has been appointed bureau chief for Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota," the AP announced on Friday. "Morgante, 44, succeeds Randy Picht, who was named executive director of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, his alma mater." Morgante was assistant Florida bureau chief and Caribbean business manager but was transferred in February to AP's iCircular team, described by Mobile Marketing Watch as "a new service aimed at serving up coupons within mobile apps developed by participating newspapers around the country."

"Each ethnic and racial group in society enjoys the right to define itself in a dignified manner, taking into consideration its historical, racial and cultural legacies," Roland Roebuck, an Afro-Puerto Rican community activist in Washington and president of the D.C. Commission on Latino Community Development, wrote Friday for New America Media. "But one unfortunate exception exists in the Washington, D.C. Latino community. Spanish-language newspapers (with the exception of El Tiempo Latino) continue to refer to Latinos of African descent by the despicable term of 'Negro.' "

"In what was billed as the largest-ever collection of current and former FCC Commissioners, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association Thursday hosted a Minority Media & Telecommunications Council salute to retired Commissioner Michael Copps, who exited the FCC at the end of December," John Eggerton wrote Thursday for Broadcasting & Cable. Fourteen past and present commissioners were present, including African Americans William E. Kennard (on tape from Brussels, Belgium), Andrew C. Barrett and Mignon Clyburn, and Henry M. Rivera, who is Latino. Copps was a champion of diversity and "the public interest," speakers said, and an opponent of media consolidation.  

Jacob Rascon has joined KNBC-TV in Los Angeles as the station's first multimedia reporter, Richard Horgan reported Thursday for FishbowlLA. ". . . Rascon completed part of his university studies at Brigham Young's sister campus in Idaho, where he created the campus' first Spanish-language newscast. He was also the recipient of a National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Geraldo Rivera collegiate scholarship."

"Mark Hayes, a 10-year veteran of the early morning shift at Atlanta's WAGA-TV, has been named to join incumbent co-anchor Deborah Ferguson on Fort Worth-based NBC5's waker upper," Dallas television writer Ed Bark reported Friday on his blog. ". . . Hayes, who previously worked at WXYZ-TV in Detroit and WBAL-TV in Baltimore, said goodbye to Fox-owned WAGA on the Friday, April 6th early morning newscast."

"[A] California federal judge dismissed most of the claims brought by TV One in a lawsuit that alleged that other networks had stolen its exclusive right to broadcast the Essence Music Festival," Eriq Gardner reported April 3 for the Hollywood Reporter. "The network, partly owned by Comcast, had claimed that last June, just a week before it was set to air one of the largest cultural gatherings of African Americans in the nation, BET televised performances by Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige and others from the previous year's festival."

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