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In a sign of hunger for the topic or perhaps an indicator of the  journalism job market, or both, NPR has received more than 1,300 applications for four positions on its new race-relations reporting team, according to Matt Thompson, the NPR journalist who is heading the team.

"We're still accepting applications for one position (the reporter spot); we've stopped accepting applications for the other three positions, but are busily reviewing resumes and conducting interviews for them still," Thompson told Journal-isms by email on Friday.

At the Unity '12 convention in Las Vegas in August, Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of NPR, announced a $1.5 million, two-year grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting "to launch a major journalism initiative to deepen coverage of race, ethnicity and culture." He said he was "delivering on our promise for NPR to look and sound like America."

A six-person team is to "deliver a steady flow of distinctive coverage on every platform. Reporting will magnify the range of existing efforts across NPR and its Member Stations to cover and discuss race, ethnicity and culture. NPR will also create a new, branded space within NPR.org," NPR said in its announcement then.

The team includes Thompson, who says his business cards now say "Manager of Digital Initiatives (and Mischief)," supervising the team, working with Ellen McDonnell, executive editor of NPR News programming; Luis Clemens, NPR's senior editor for diversity, who is senior editor of the team, and Karen Grigsby Bates, Los Angeles-based correspondent.

NPR advertised for a blogger on race, ethnicity and culture; a digital journalist; and two reporters.

Thompson and Keith Woods, NPR's vice president for diversity in news and operations, spoke with 25 Washington journalists of color over dinner Tuesday about the project. Most were veterans, and some had worked at NPR.

Many of the questions concerned permeating the NPR corporate culture, which has long been seen as a chief impediment to greater diversity. Some wondered whether race relations coverage at NPR might not become ghettoized, as has sometimes happened at  media outlets that have created race relations beats. When cutbacks come, such beats become more vulnerable.

Thompson said he expected about six pieces a week to be delivered to various shows on radio and especially mobile platforms, where more listeners of color might be found.

Knell, who became CEO less than a year ago, has touted diversity as a cornerstone of his tenure. Speaking to the Akron Press Club in Ohio on Thursday, Knell said NPR should improve its audience reach and range.

"Knell has what he calls four corners of diversity," Rich Heldenfels reported for the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal. "NPR needs to draw more on sources outside the Washington Beltway, he said. 'There are a lot of smart people in northern Ohio and northern Texas and Michigan and other parts of the country who have something to say about these important national issues.'

"Another is 'a diversity around race/ethnicity as the demographics of America change. ... Those of you who have looked at the census data know how the changing landscape ethnically in our country is something we need to adapt to and embrace more in public radio.' In addition, he said, [another corner] is 'to diversify our political thought, that maybe we're a little bit too conventional.'. . . "

Thompson's experience sifting through the applications for the race-relations team informed "10 ways to make your journalism job application better than everyone else," a piece on advice for job applicants that ran Thursday on the Poynter Institute website.

"You have no idea how much I want you to rock — how excited I get when I read a terrific cover letter, encounter a superlative clip, or find myself engrossed in an interview," Thompson wrote. "Or what a heartbreak it is when you seem great on paper, but present lackluster work or a dismal demeanor.

"So to make this process harder on me (in the best possible way), here are 10 things I'm wishing for from you — and for anyone applying for a job in journalism."

His 10 headlines: "Read between the lines of my job description." "Get your vanity search in order." "Speaking of which, please have a personal site." "Your cover letter should tell me two stories, and both should be fascinating." "There's more than one way to skin a resume." "Even if I'm not following you on social media, assume I am." "Don't hesitate to get one of our mutual colleagues to recommend you to me." "A little follow-up at any point in this process doesn't hurt. A lot might." "The very best interviews feel like great conversations." "Every hiring manager is different."

Thompson told Journal-isms, ". . . I hope to have the two more senior positions filled by December, and the two more junior positions filled by January. I expect that by January/February, folks will start to hear noises from the team."

In another development at NPR, reporter Ari Shapiro returned to a story that prompted debate among listeners and a column by the ombudsman.

Interviewing attendees at an American Legion Conference in Indianapolis last month, Shapiro spoke to Bobbie Lussier, a veteran's wife who said of President Obama, "I just — I don't like him, can't stand to look at him. I don't like his wife. She's far from the first lady. It's about time we get a first lady in there that acts like a first lady and looks like a first lady."

Noting that many listeners took that as a racist comment, ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos wrote, "I think that he and his editors were wrong to let [Lussier's] interview run without clarifying what she meant."

Shapiro reported Friday, "Yesterday, [Candidate Mitt] Romney held a much smaller event at an American Legion post outside of Washington, D.C. As I was packing up to leave, a man tapped me on the shoulder. You were in Indianapolis, he said. It was Mr. Lussier. His wife agreed to talk to me again."

The woman denied any racist intent. ". . . I don't care what color she is," she said of the first lady. "It's just she doesn't act and look like a first lady. I mean, she's more about showing her arms off and, you know, I think that's very inappropriate for a lot of functions that she goes to."

Tom Arviso Jr., publisher of the Navajo Times in Window Rock, Ariz., and member of the Native American Journalists Association, is the sole candidate for president of Unity Journalists, the group announced this week.

The coalition of Hispanic, Asian American, Native American and lesbian and gay journalists groups meets next weekend to elect officers who, some of the candidates say, plan to make the return of the National Association of Black Journalists to Unity their top priority.

The group must also select a new executive director. Walt Swanston is filling the job on an interim basis after the recent departure of Onica N. Makwakwa. NABJ left the group last year over financial and governance issues, and attendance at the summer Unity convention dropped sharply without NABJ's participation.

Arviso said he had been nominated by the presidents of the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Native American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

Elections for president of the Unity board are rarely contested. However, two board members of the Asian American Journalists Association are vying for the vice president's slot: Doris Truong, outgoing AAJA national president and multiplatform editor at the Washington Post, and Janet Cho, a business reporter for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland who is a former AAJA national secretary and national vice president for print. She lost to Paul Cheung in the summer's election for national AAJA president.

Truong wrote:

". . . I am committed to restarting the conversation about bringing NABJ back to the UNITY fold. I will work with NABJ to outline areas that need mutual agreement and will keep alliance members apprised of progress.

"I have experience with executive searches that will position us to make a strategic hire in our next UNITY ED [executive director].

"I bring my strong sense of branding and knowledge of social media. I will make sure that UNITY's online presence gets more traction for issues of importance to our partners as well as to the journalism industry at large."

Cho wrote that she was ". . . concerned that we are falling short of our potential as the foremost coalition for media diversity and inclusion.

"As a UNITY officer, I would strive to better communicate with our members; work toward reconciliation and reunification with our founding member, the National Association of Black Journalists; and boldly remind the media industry that the strength of this alliance is much greater than a quadrennial convention."

In April, Arviso and Cho voted against changing the name of the coalition from "Unity: Journalists of Color" to "Unity Journalists," saying that consultation with members was needed before such a decision.

Truong voted for the change, saying it "sends a clear signal that we welcome our brothers and sisters in NLGJA. UNITY continues to be an organization that strives for inclusiveness, which is even more clearly reflected now."

David Steinberg, immediate past president of NLGJA, is running for Unity treasurer. "This is a critical time for UNITY, with our longtime executive director having left and issues raised by NABJ's departure still unresolved," Steinberg wrote. "We have an opportunity to remake this alliance in a way that will benefit all our organizations while also providing the leadership that's needed to focus our industry on the value and necessity of newsroom diversity."

There are no candidates for secretary, but an NAHJ member is expected to fill the post.

Arviso became managing editor of the Navajo Times in October 1988, editor and publisher in 1993, and was named CEO of the Navajo Times Publishing Company in 2004.

In 2003, when the Navajo Nation Council voted for the newspaper to become Navajo Times Publishing Inc., Arviso said no other tribally owned newspaper had ever succeeded in gaining its independence from its tribal government. Last week, he accepted
a Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership from the Associated Press Media Editors.

"As Obama nears the end of his term, his administration hasn't met those goals, failing to follow the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, according to an analysis of open-government requests filed by Bloomberg News.

"Nineteen of 20 cabinet-level agencies disobeyed the law requiring the disclosure of public information: The cost of travel by top officials. In all, just eight of the 57 federal agencies met Bloomberg's request for those documents within the 20-day window required by the Act."

Meanwhile, Margaret Sullivan, the new public editor at the New York Times, wrote of Obama Thursday that ". . . it's worth acknowledging that he has also authorized the federal government to engage in an unprecedented crackdown on journalists and whistle-blowers here in the United States, relentlessly pursuing and initiating new cases against journalists and their sources.

"Consider the Times reporter James Risen, whose 2005 work with Eric Lichtblau on the federal government's use of warrantless wiretapping was perhaps the most important national security journalism of the last decade. Mr. Risen has been under constant pressure from the Justice Department to reveal his confidential sources. Federal prosecutors say one of those sources is the former C.I.A. official Jeffery Sterling, whom they accuse of leaking secrets about American efforts to sabotage Iran's nuclear program to Mr. Risen for his 2006 book 'State of War.'. . . "

Last December, the American Society of News Editors noted that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Openthegovernment.org issued a joint report that reviewed several aspects of Freedom of Information Act compliance by the 15 largest independent agencies and cabinet-level departments. "Their answer appears to be that the improvement has been slight, at best" [fifth item], ASNE said.

Khalil Abdullah, New America Media, interview with Scott Jaschik: In Just Weeks, Affirmative Action As We Know It Could Be Dead

Justin Hansford, St. Louis American: Why no black presidential debates? 

Rick Horowitz, YouTube: Mitt's Missing Part (video)

 

Tom Joyner, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Church!

Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review: Pinning down Obama on Social Security 

Sharon McNary, Southern California Public Radio: One-third of Asian-American likely voters are undecided on presidential pick

Rick Sanchez, Fox News Latino: A Two-Part Plan for Winning Undecided Latinos

Adam C. Smith, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times: Herald-Tribune runs seriously ugly and false anti-Obama ad

"The consequences of the controversial 'Fast and Furious' undercover operation put in place by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2009 have been deadlier than what has been made public to date," Univision News announced on Thursday. "The exclusive, in-depth investigation by Univision News' award-winning Investigative Unit — Univision Investiga — has found that the guns that crossed the border as part of Operation Fast and Furious caused dozens of deaths inside Mexico.

"Univision's Investigative Unit identified massacres committed with guns from the ATF operation, including the killing of 16 young people attending a party in a residential area of Ciudad Juárez in January of 2010. This and many other shocking new revelations about Fast and Furious will be presented in a special edition of Univision Network's newsmagazine 'Aquí y Ahora' (Here and Now) this Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT (6 p.m. Central). The Univision News special will be aired with closed captioning in English to expand the reach and impact of this eye-opening investigation.

"Univision News' Investigative Unit was also able to identify additional guns that escaped the control of ATF agents and were used in different types of crimes throughout Mexico. Furthermore, some of these guns – none of which were reported by Congressional investigators – were put in the hands of drug traffickers in Honduras, Puerto Rico, and Colombia. A person familiar with the recent Congressional hearings called Univision's findings 'the holy grail' that Congress had been searching for."

Eugene Kane has changed his mind about giving up his Metro column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to return to reporting, covering the Milwaukee Public Schools. Instead, he is taking a buyout.

Thomas Koetting, deputy managing editor/local news, wrote in a staff memo on Wednesday, ". . . Eugene Kane also will work his last day at the newspaper this Friday, but his 31-year association with the Journal and then Journal Sentinel will not come to an end. Eugene will write a weekly column for the Sunday Crossroads section, and will continue to maintain his blog. He has been a valuable voice in our community, particularly in his nearly two decades as a local columnist. He took principled stands on lightning-rod issues, and for many readers was a singular advocate for matters close to their hearts and minds. He handled more challenging exchanges with readers than the rest of us combined, and did it with grace and honesty. His community outreach, especially with young people, was exemplary."

Kane told Journal-isms by email that he had discussed his situation with family members and concluded, "The buy-out is the best deal going and they will also pay me to write a Sunday Op-ed column. Like one of my advisers told me: 'That's a no-brainer!' "

He wrote on Facebook Friday, "Lots of love from FB friends about my decision to leave Journal Sentinel. I really appreciated it! Many younger FB folks congratulated me on my 'retirement'. C'mon; a middle aged black man like me can't afford to retire. I'm still going to be in the mix with my Sunday column and more. Bet."

Don Terry, whose career includes stints as a writer for the Chicago Tribune magazine and as part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team for the New York Times, started work this week at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which investigates and publicizes hate crimes from its base in Montgomery, Ala.

"I'm a senior writer for the Center, primarily for our magazine, Intelligence Report," Terry wrote Journal-isms by email on Friday. "My first day was Monday and they put me right to work following up on a murderous militia."

"Before heading South, I was freelancing since March when the Chicago News Cooperative — and my job there — vanished. While I was reluctant to leave Chicago and my family, the minute I walked into the SPLC newsroom, which overlooks the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, I knew I was in the right place. As I said in announcing my move, I just can't get over that my ID badge quotes Martin Luther King: '...Until Justice Rolls Down Like Waters And Righteousness Like a Mighty Stream.' "

Terry told his Facebook friends, "I'm still doing journalism and fighting for social justice. What more can a guy from Hyde Park want in a gig?"

As a magazine writer, Terry was honored for such pieces as "Hiding in Plain Sight," in which he and photographer Terrence James "followed the trail of an alleged mass killer from the dusty streets of Kigali, Rwanda, to tree-lined suburban Chicago," as his editor, Elizabeth Taylor, described it to readers in 2005, and "User Friendly" in 2003, about the Chicago Recovery Alliance, one of the largest needle-exchange programs in the country.

He was also based in his Chicago hometown for much of his 12-year tenure at the Times.

At that paper, he was part of the "How Race Is Lived in America" team that won the Pulitzer in 2001 for national reporting. He wrote "Getting Under My Skin," a memoir of growing up biracial.

"The five-member Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved a sweeping, though preliminary, proposal to reclaim public airwaves now used for broadcast television and auction them off for use in wireless broadband networks, with a portion of the proceeds paid to the broadcasters."

The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council hailed the move. It said in a statement, "Demand for commercial wireless spectrum is increasing so rapidly that it soon will overtake the supply.

"That phenomenon, 'spectrum exhaust,' would be especially detrimental to minorities, who have led the nation in the rate at which they have adopted mobile wireless and its applications to job search, health care, education and civic engagement. In all of American history, wireless is the first technology for which minority consumers have a head start – an encouraging high tech and civil rights development that MMTC has named the 'Minority Wireless Miracle.'

"There is no time to lose. To ensure that consumers can enjoy the use of new wireless spectrum as rapidly as possible, MMTC strongly encourages the FCC to expedite the rulemaking process so that the auctions can conclude by December 2013."

The FCC plans to invite public comment on auction procedures, including how to structure ownership opportunities for designated entities such as minority entrepreneurs.

Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Tony Dungy Fights to Close the Digital Divide

Sonny Albarado, projects editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and new president of the Society for Professional Journalists, said to Sandra Gonzalez Tuesday in an SPJ interview, "I've told fellow SPJers from a Hispanic background I've never actually self identified as Hispanic although I know my heritage is Hispanic because it's one of those situations where I grew up in Anglo culture, well I can't even say that because I grew up in a Cajun culture. But ever since the census started putting the check mark where you can identify yourself as Hispanic, I made sure that I marked it because that is part of my heritage. Recognizing that, celebrating that, is something that ought be done."

"A new national journalism awards program will recognize excellence in reporting on disability issues and people with disabilities," the National Center on Disability and Journalism announced. "The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability is the first national journalism contest devoted exclusively to disability coverage. . . . Entries for the new journalism award will be accepted beginning early next year at ncdj.org." The first-place winner receives $5,000 and an invitation to speak at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, which houses the center.

". . . Asian Americans have gained a presence in commercials in recent years, with companies such as McDonald's, Verizon, AT&T, Wal-Mart and others featuring them as individual characters and in a variety of settings," Paul Farhi wrote Friday in the Washington Post. "But when it comes to depicting couples, the portrayal goes mostly in one direction: White guy and Asian American woman. The combination may be the most common depiction of mixed-race couples in popular culture; African Americans are rarely glimpsed with white mates in TV shows or commercials, for example. It may even be more common than an Asian American man paired with an Asian American woman."

"The percentage of minority TV directors working on broadcast and cable series dropped from last year, according to a Directors Guild Of America report released Thursday," R. Thomas Umstead reported for Multichannel News. "TV shows directed by minority males during the 2011-12 season dropped to 13% from 14% last year while white males directed 73% of primetime shows on cable and broadcast, an increase from 72% last year, according to the report. Minority female TV directors increased their percentages to 4% from 3% last year, while white women remained flat at 11% according to the DGA."

The problem is not the single use of the term "illegal immigrant" but its overuse, John Lamb wrote Monday for Hispanic Nashville. "Out of all reported stories about breaking the law, the immigration beat disproportionately uses and repeats law-tinged labels of the perpetrators." Meanwhile, ABC News and Univision asked undocumented workers which term they preferred, and they overwhelmingly chose "undocumented," Ted Hesson reported on Wednesday.

"Sandra Gonzalez Whaley has landed a new job as a reporter at KSNV-3, the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas. Her first day was Monday, Veronica Villafañe reported Wednesday for her Media Moves site. "Sandra left New Orleans where she spent 6 years. She was most recently a Digital Journalist at ABC affiliate WGNO-26 where she also shot and edited her own stories."

"The Kansas City Star has a policy against referring to the Washington team as the Redskins. This tidbit came out in responses to an interview with Kent Babb, columnist for the Kansas City Star who is moving to the Washington Post in a week," Jason Lisk wrote Friday for Big Lead Sports. Derek Donovan, the Star's reader representative, said, ". . . I remain unconvinced by every argument I've ever heard that the [team] name is not a racial epithet, plain and simple."

"The promise of a cure for cancer has lured many journalists that should know better into holding out false hope to the millions of Americans afflicted by the disease every year," Curtis Brainard wrote Thursday for Columbia Journalism Review. "Last Friday, it was Dr. Sanjay Gupta's turn. The CNN correspondent sent a deplorable tweet to his 1.5 millions followers: 'BREAKING cure for #cancer close says md anderson. plan to "drastically reduce" cases & deaths n 5yrs! im reporting excl details all day @cnn'."

Young African Americans ages 12 to 20 see far more alcohol ads on television and in magazines than youths in general, according to a report published Thursday by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Bridget Huber reported for the group Fair Warning, described as a nonprofit, online investigative news organization focused on safety and health issues.

"U.S. immigration authorities have granted political asylum to Oscar Ramírez Castañeda, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who learned only last year that he was a survivor of a civil war massacre of 250 villagers in 1982," Sebastian Rotella reported Monday for ProPublica. ProPublica reported on the case with "This American Life" and Fundación MEPI.

"AOL has signed a deal to help oversee Vibe Media's online video content and to syndicate its short-form lifestyle and hip-hop videos, TheWrap has learned," Brent Lang reported Wednesday for theWrap.com. "For AOL, the hope is that the media company behind music magazine Vibe and style magazine BlackBook will help it attract a younger and more urban demographic."

"In a report that will continue the conversation on Latino identity, the Census Bureau released a brief on Thursday which looked at the multiple race population in the United States," Adrian Carrasquillo reported for NBCLatino. "Fully one-third of Hispanics identified as more than one race, far outpacing any other groups. . . . 'Hispanics may be any race,' says Nicholas A. Jones who co-wrote report on multiple races."

"Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC has hired Karina Mitchell. She is the wife of Russ Mitchell, who joined WKYC as primary anchor in January," Merrill Knox reported Thursday for TVSpy. "Like her husband, Mitchell comes from CBS News in New York, where she was an entertainment, lifestyle and feature contributor. She also served as a fill-in anchor for CBS Mobile News and a reporter for CBSNews.com. Most recently, she was the host of 'Showbuzz,' a weekly movie review show."

"Reporters Without Borders reiterates its alarm about the growing threats to journalists in India after Azhar Qadri, a reporter for the independent Kashmir Tribune newspaper, was beaten and arrested by police while covering a protest in Srinagar, in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, on 26 September," the press freedom organization said on Friday.

"These days, press freedom in Tunisia feels ever more distant," Dahlia El Zein wrote Tuesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Many journalists believed that media freedoms, which were virtually nonexistent under former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, would grow after his ouster. During the aftermath of the December 2010 uprising, an independent press blossomed and special commissions were set up to reform the media sector. But since the elected government took office nine months ago, the tide has slowly reversed."

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