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Univision's televised forums this week with President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney were ratings and journalistic hits, as Univision moderators Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos posed questions they maintained would not be asked in the mainstream debates scheduled to start Oct. 3 in Denver.

Ramos said as Thursday's show emerged from a commercial break, "We're here because, in part, the Commission on Presidential Debates neglected to select a Hispanic or African American journalist to moderate the debate. So we decided to have our own conversation. Thank you for being here, Mr. President.

"Thank you, Mr. President," Salinas echoed.

"We're thrilled to be here," Obama replied.

That might have been an overstatement. Ramos, particularly, was relentless in pressing Obama on whether he had broken a promise to reform immigration laws in his first term. Toward the end of the session, Obama appeared to surrender, though he pleaded that  congressional Republicans had stymied him.

Ramos asked the president what he considered his greatest failure.

"Well, Jorge, as you reminded me, my biggest failure so far is we haven't comprehensive immigration reform done," Obama replied. "So we're going to be continuing to work on that, but it's not for lack of trying or desire and I'm confident we're going to accomplish that. . . . "

On NPR's "Tell Me More" on Friday, Fernando Vila, managing editor of Univision News in English, said of the sessions, "I think the response has been overwhelmingly positive. . . . You know, I think there were people were surprised to see the two candidates just be pressed so hard. I mean it's just you don't see that typically, in the debates, from the moderators. And I think that speaks to the importance and the influence that that sort of diversifying the media can have on our political landscape."

Vila continued, "I mean, Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas went after President Obama like in a way that he's not used to. Jorge Ramos directly said to his face that, you know, a promise is a promise, and with all due respect, you broke that promise. And Maria Elena Salinas said to his face that how many more Mexicans have to die before we change our policy toward the drug war? And those are the kind of issues that just don't — that aren't aired in other outlets."

". . . In the time period, El Gran Encuentro con Presidente Obama made Univision the No. 1 broadcast network among adults 18-34, according to Univision."

Univision said Wednesday's event with Romney reached 4.2 million viewers who watched all or part of the hour. In the 10 p.m. Eastern time period, El Gran Encuentro con Mitt Romney made Univision the No. 2 broadcast network, behind CBS, among adults 18-34, and the No. 3 broadcast network, beating ABC, among adults 18-49 and adults 25-54.

Obama gave characteristically lengthy answers to the most frequent Latino criticisms of his presidency, including the failure to accomplish immigration reform and the record number of deportations under his watch. The answers raise the question of whether moderators of the mainstream debates would be more likely or less to broach the issues again.

Salinas asked, "Mr. President, you have been the president that has deported the most immigrants. More than 1.5 million have been recently deported. You’ve separated families. There are more than 5,000 children that are in foster homes, and many of them are waiting to be adopted.

"Would you consider — now that you've passed deferred action — doing something similar with other groups of non-criminal immigrants? For example the parents of children who were born here and are U.S. citizens."

Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama administration has started accepting applications from young undocumented immigrants seeking to avoid deportation and get a work permit.

Obama replied, "Well, let me describe sort of how we've tried to approach this, given that we haven't gotten comprehensive immigration reform done yet. My instructions to the Department of Homeland Security [have] been that we have to focus our attention, our enforcement on people who genuinely pose a threat to our communities, not to hard-working families who are minding their own business and oftentimes have members of their family who are U.S. citizens. Because that's a priority in terms of limited enforcement resources.

"We don't have the capacity to enforce across the board when you're talking about millions of people. And we've done that. So more than half of our enforcement now is directed at people with criminal records. Of the remaining half, about two-thirds are actually people who are typically apprehended close to the border. So these are not people who have long-standing roots in our community. And what we've tried to do then is focus our attention on real threats and make sure that families of the sort that you describe are not the targets of DHS [Department of Homeland Security] resources.

"Now, what I've always said is as the head of the executive branch there's a limit to what I can do. Part of the reason that deportations went up was that Congress put a whole lot of money into it. And when you have a lot of resources and more agents involved, then there are going to be higher numbers. What we've said is let's make sure that you're not misdirecting those resources. But we're still going to ultimately have to change the laws in order to avoid some of the heartbreaking stories that you see coming up occasionally. And that's why this continues to be a top priority of mine.

"The steps we've taken with the Dream Act kids, one of the great things about it is to see that the country as a whole has actually agreed with us on this. The voices in the Republican party have been very critical but the good news is, is that the majority of Americans have said, you know what, if somebody lives here, has to gone to school here, pledges allegiance to our flag, this is the only country they've known, they shouldn't be sent away. We should embrace them and say, 'we want you to help build this country.'

"So we've got public opinion on our side on that issue. And we will continue to make sure that how we enforce is done as fairly and justly as possible. But until we have a law in place that provides a pathway for legalization and/or citizenship for the folks in question, we continue to be bound by the law, and that's a challenge."

The headlines that the Obama session generated hint at the range of topics discussed:

Edward-Isaac Dovere and Darren Samuelsohn, Politico: Obama changes 'Change'

David Espo and Ken Thomas, Associated Press: Obama suggests Romney is out of touch with America

Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times: Obama defends embassy security during Univision town hall

Randy Falco, the president and CEO of Univision Communications who proposed the forums, said in a statement that he was pleased by the outcome.

"These events marked the first time during the general election that the presidential candidates addressed Hispanic Americans, something that we of course feel is essential during a campaign season in which this growing portion of the population will be showing great influence," Falco said. "We couldn't be happier with the success of these two 'Meet The Candidate' events, as a sign of the power of the Univision brand and the importance of our audience."

Meanwhile, the Radio Television Digital News Association honored  Ramos with the 2012 John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award on Friday during its Excellence in Journalism 2012 Conference in Fort Lauderdale.

". . . Ramos made clear who he believes real journalists are. Not everyone who has a camera or twitter is a journalist, he said. Real journalists are the ones who 'confront those who are empowered (because) if we don't ask the tough questions, no one will,' " Rosa Valentin reported for the RTDNA Reporter.

McKay Coppins, buzzfeed.com: How Romney Packed The Univision Forum (Sept. 22)

Michael Cottman, blackamericaweb.com: Romney is Running Scared 

Allison Goodman and Stephanie Parra, Miami Hurricane, University of Miami: Obama visits campus to film Univision broadcast

Rick Horowitz, YouTube: Dependent on Government? You Bet They Are! (video)

Annette John-Hall, Philadelphia Inquirer: Romney's comments revealed the truth of what he believes

Francie Latour, boston.com: I'll take Latino for 800, Alex

Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Romney's Black 'Leadership Council'

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post News Media Services: Habla español? Who cares

Patrick Osio, HispanicVista: Romney: The Mexican-American Candidate

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Romney's class warfare

Ruben Rosario, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.: Slade's a 47-percenter, and he's not buying Romney's schtick

Rebecca Shapiro, Huffington Post: Jim Lehrer Announces First Presidential Debate Topics

Walter Shapiro, Columbia Journalism Review: Mitt-o-phobia: The real reasons for harsh Romney coverage 

The "Diversity Moment" signage was still up at the Associated Press Media Editors convention in Nashville when the top AP managers gathered on stage to begin a panel on the AP's best work. A photo of the managers in front of the sign circulated around the Internet until it was removed Thursday from the APME's Facebook page. There had been an inquiry about how well the photo reflected the diversity of AP's top management.

Seated were, from left, Gary Pruitt, AP chief executive; Kathleen Carroll, executive editor; Liz Sidoti, political editor; Kristin Gazlay, managing editor for state news; Madrid-born Santiago Lyon, director of photography; and Michael Oreskes,  senior managing editor. Jack Marsh, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute, which hosted the convention, is at the microphone.

The actual "Diversity Moment" focused on the work of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute. Editors were encouraged to take advantage of training opportunities offered at the institute and were challenged hire interns of color who are part of the Chips Quinn Scholars program.

Tom Arviso, publisher and chief executive officer of the Navajo Times in Window Rock, Ariz., and James Mallory, recently retired senior managing editor and vice president of news of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, accepted the Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership. Arviso introduced conference attendees to life in Navajo Nation and shared the values that guide his paper's work. Mallory urged editors to keep diversity at the forefront despite the financial challenges gripping the industry.

Two black journalists were among the election winners. Debra Adams Simmons, editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, was elected vice president and is to lead the association in 2014. Monica R. Richardson, managing editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was among those elected to at-large positions on the APME board. Brad Dennison, vice president of publishing for GateHouse Media Inc., was elected president.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel won the top Innovator of the Year award and $1,000 from sponsor Gatehouse Media for "Empty Cradles," a series about the death of children before their first birthday, Erik Schelzig reported on Friday for the AP.

"The effort involved partnerships with minority media, community organizations and readers to explore the problem and solutions. Greg Borowski, senior editor for projects and investigations, said the $1,000 award from GateHouse Media Inc. will be donated to the United Way."

James E. Causey, a Journal Sentinel editorial writer who worked on the award-winning 2011 series, told Journal-isms that Earl Ingram, evening host on WMCS-AM, had held a two-hour show on the subject with key players, including Causey, the Black Health Coalition and the city's health commissioner. "The morning host also held several shows talking about the issue to raise awareness. The Community Journal re-ran many of our stories in their paper. Since they give their paper away for free and they have a different audience we were able to reach the segment of the community that is the most impacted by the numbers," Causey said in an email. (Video)

"A story this week by the Associated Press has caused quite a stir, especially among African-Americans, when multiple news outlets ran it with the following headline: 'Some black pastors are telling their flocks to stay home Election Day,' " Roland Martin wrote this week in his Creators Syndicate column.

"The New York Daily News ran that headline, along with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Newsday, and a host of conservative websites such as HotAir and NewsMax.

"When I first saw the headline, I was stunned to see it, especially knowing the blood that has been shed over the years by African-Americans and others to gain the precious right to vote.

"Then I read the 1,340-word story by Rachel Zoll, with a contribution from Bill Barrow.

"And as I read, it was clear that none of the news outlets that ran that headline actually bothered to read the story. In fact, the original headline on the AP story was changed to reflect something entirely different.

"When I finished, I called a former staffer at the Associated Press who sent me the original headline that accompanied the story. It read: 'African-American Christians waver over vote.' "

". . . In fact, the Associated Press should do a real examination of its internal controls because there are some fundamental problems with the story itself.

"It is clear that Zoll and Barrow chose to ignore compelling data that undercut the general thesis of their story. . . ."

An AP spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Anti-voting black clergy make a bad call

Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth: Preachers telling blacks not to vote is sinful

This note from Jack Fowler, publisher of the National Review, appeared on the publication's website on Wednesday:

"The image used on the cover and the contents page of the October 1, 2012, issue of National Review, in both the print and various digital editions, was altered by National Review. It is not the original photograph as provided by Reuters/Newscom, and therefore should not have been attributed to this organization, nor attributed to the photographer."

Jim Romenesko added Thursday on his media blog: "Todd Sumlin writes: 'I am a photographer at The Charlotte Observer. I was on the photo platform directly behind the President at the Democratic National Convention. Attached is a photo from that same angle. As you can see, the posters the North Carolina delegates are holding were changed from "Forward" to "Abortion." ' "

". . . The picture depicted Obama sitting in the Oval Office with a man in a colorful pirate outfit, complete with a red hat, eye patch and hook for a right arm. It was taken as a punch line for a joke Obama delivered to the White House Correspondents Association dinner in 2009 about the administration talking to enemies as well as friends.

"The network later tweeted a clarification to the blooper, made three times on the 'Fox & Friends' morning show."

NewsBusters, a project of the Media Research Center, which calls itself "the leader in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias," has its sights set on Jim Avila, a senior news correspondent for ABC News.

"Jim Avila may not be a household name, but he has become one of the most prominent news correspondents on television  — averaging 130 reports a year since 1997," Liz Thatcher wrote Thursday. "But he's done much more than just report the news, Avila has become an activist.

"He made that name for himself and sullied the term 'lean beef' early in 2012 with a series of stories repeatedly calling the beef 'pink slime.' On Sept. 13, Beef Products Inc. filed a 1.2 billion lawsuit against ABC for the coverage of 'pink slime.' Avila is specifically named in this lawsuit for his part in the anti-meat attacks. . . "

Thatcher added, ". . . He has also received awards from both the National Arab American Journalists Association and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, large ethnic journalist organizations that push activist journalism in regards to race."

ABC News did not respond to a request for comment.

" 'Good Morning America' co-anchor Robin Roberts underwent a bone marrow transplant Thursday to treat MDS, a bone marrow disorder that affects blood cells production," ABC News reported on Friday.

"The transplant was a five-minute procedure in which the donor cells from Robin's sister, Sally-Ann, were injected into Robin's system through a syringe.

" 'Nobody can believe it,' Dr. Gail Roboz, the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center oncologist who is treating Robin, said today on 'GMA' of the short procedure.

" 'People have in their mind all kinds of images of what can happen in a transplant but it’s still an incredibly powerful moment,' she said. 'Inside of that syringe are millions and millions of stem cells that are now circulating around and trying to find their home and start growing which is what we’re going to be looking for over the next couple of weeks.' . . . "

Tom Shales, a former Washington Post television critic now blogging for the Chicago Sun-Times, wondered how much of ABC's coverage of Roberts' illness was appropriate.

"Now we come to Something That Must Be Said," Shales wrote on Thursday. "It may have been said elsewhere already, but just in case, here goes: ABC has managed to turn the very serious illness of co-anchor Roberts into a huge promotional opportunity for 'GMA.' . . . On every edition of 'GMA,' there are shout-outs, warm wishes and detailed reports pertaining to Roberts' condition. She has been seen in remotes from the hospital, and the sympathetic outpourings of viewers have been heavily documented. Most of the first half-hour of Thursday's (Sept. 20) show was a report on Roberts' transplant.

"Roberts was seen in a recorded message thanking viewers: 'I feel the love and I thank you for it.' ABC rushed out a press release, this one headlined 'Robin Roberts' Message: I Feel the Love and I Thank You For It' and including a disclaimer: 'News organizations using material from this report should credit 'Good Morning, America.'

"We all wish Robin Roberts well. And we hope she is not being charged with sick days, considering the fact that her illness has practically become another character in the show's cast."

"A 14-minute film trailer blamed for protest violence in the Middle East will remain on YouTube, after an actress lost her legal challenge to take it down," Greg Risling reported from Los Angeles Friday for the Associated Press.

"Cindy Lee Garcia, who appeared in 'Innocence of Muslims,' asked a judge to order the video removed in a Los Angeles County court Thursday.

"But Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin rejected Garcia's request because she wasn't able to produce any agreement she had with the makers of 'Innocence of Muslims' and the man behind the film hadn't been served with a copy of her lawsuit."

Meanwhile, "The State Department confirmed that the U.S. government spent about $70,000 of ad time on TV in Pakistan to air a public service announcement from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton disassociating the government from the Innocence of Muslims movie trailer on YouTube that prompted Middle East demonstrations," John Eggerton reported for Broadcasting & Cable.

"The administration has also said evidence still points to the video as being the prompt for the attack in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three others. . . ."

Munir Ahmed and Rebecca Santana, Associated Press: Pakistan: US Screens Anti-Film Ads

Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Quantifying 'Muslim Rage'

Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor: Is the Islamopocalypse really upon us?

Dean Obeidallah, CNN: Media don't get #MuslimRage

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: Middle East Turmoil Closely Followed; Romney's Comments Viewed Negatively (Sept. 17)

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Teaching Muslim world about freedom

"The Times will open a long-sought bureau in Phoenix, thanks to an unusual $1 million grant from the Ford Foundation. The paper is hiring a bureau chief who will begin work in October.

". . . The grant has enabled the paper to hire five additional reporters. The Times is using the foundation largesse to intensify its coverage of immigration, ethnic communities in Southern California, the state prison system and the emerging economic powerhouse Brazil.

". . . The Ford-funded hires are already making an impact in the newsroom."

"Mairelys Cuevas Gómez, 27, traveled to Mexico authorized by the paper’s executive editor and with the full knowledge of other Cuban officials and the elite in charge of the government media, according to a report published on the website Café Fuerte.

"Cuevas' defection is a new blow to the regime’s news and propaganda operation. In recent months, at least four other members of the Cuban media also decided to ask for asylum in the United States and the United Kingdom.

"Cuevas has declined to comment on the circumstances of her decision and her future plans while she resolves her legal status and U.S. authorities finalize the due process of her case. . . ."

Meanwhile, "A Cuban journalist who had been covering a sensitive cholera outbreak has been charged with defaming Fidel and Raúl Castro, the editor of one of Cuba's leading independent news agencies said yesterday, Scott Griffen of the International Press Institute reported Thursday.

"In a message transmitted via the Háblalo sin miedo voice platform, Roberto Guerra Pérez of Hablemos Press said that Cuban authorities have charged Hablemos Press correspondent Calixto Martínez Arias under the country's desacato law . . . , which criminalises insulting or offensive speech toward public officials."

"Starting today, a non-profit founded by Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist, activist, and undocumented immigrant, will begin monitoring the use of the phrase 'illegal immigrant'  in the media, with the goal of shifting the conversation around the issue," Ted Hesson reported Friday for ABC News. " 'Right now, my two main targets, and I say that politely, are going to be The New York Times and the Associated Press,' Vargas told reporters after his keynote address at the 2012 Online News Association Conference and Awards Banquet in San Francisco today."

". . . Content-creators are well-represented on The Root's annual list of 100 prominent black people between the ages of 25 and 45," Andrew Beaujon wrote Thursday for the Poynter Institute. "By my calculations, 14 percent of the people on The Root's list are media types: MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry (No. 1); New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow (No. 16); American Prospect writer Jamelle Bouie (No. 26); MSNBC host Tamron Hall (No. 33); NPR host Audie Cornish (No. 40); Atlantic blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates (No. 44); OWN host Wes Moore (No. 45); Mother Jones reporter Adam Serwer (No. 58); Ebony Editor-in-Chief Amy DuBois Barnett (No. 65); Incoming BET host T.J. Holmes (No. 77); Columnist Roland Martin (No. 78); New York Times reporter Jenna Wortham (No. 86); Writer/TV guy Touré (No. 87); 'Daily Show' correspondent Wyatt Cenac (No. 89)."

An Iranian opposition group that mounted an extraordinary lobbying campaign to get off the State Department's list of terrorist organizations has succeeded in that goal, Scott Shane reported Friday for the New York Times. Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page was disciplined in July for delivering a handsomely compensated speech — $20,000 — to the group, known as the MEK, without permission from his supervisors.

"Six media innovation ventures that make it easier to access and use information on local communities, air quality, elections, demographics and more received a total of $2.22 million today as winners of the Knight News Challenge: Data," the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation reported on Thursday.

"Struggling with a chronically stagnant economy and one of the highest crime rates in the world, Jamaica is turning for help to a black nationalist leader who died more than 70 years ago," David McFadden reported Thursday for the Associated Press. "Marcus Garvey, who inspired millions of followers worldwide with messages of black pride and self-reliance, is being resurrected in a new mandatory civics program in schools across this predominantly black country of 2.8 million people." Best known for his back-to-Africa movement and his Universal Negro Improvement Association, Garvey was also a writer, publisher and editor.

"Americans' distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly," Lymari Morales reported Friday for the Gallup Organization. However, while only 5 percent of whites expressed "a great deal" of trust and confidence in the mass media, 16 percent of nonwhites did. And while 23 percent of whites answered "not at all" to the trust question, only 16 percent of nonwhites did, a Gallup spokeswoman told Journal-isms.

". . . African-Americans are still a viable market segment full of business opportunities, according to the African-American Consumers: Still Vital, Still Growing 2012 Report released by Nielsen and the NNPA," Lafayette Barnes wrote Friday for the Washington Informer, referring to the National Newspaper Publishers Association. African Americans will have a projected buying power of $1.1 trillion by 2015, the report said.

Four members of the Native American Journalists Association are to be given "Native American 40 Under 40 recognition awards" by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. They are Rhonda LeValdo of Haskell Indian Nations University, president of NAJA; Christina Good Voice, communications manager, Muscogee (Creek) Nation; Jason Salsman, Muscogee (Creek) Nation; and Shannon Shaw-Duty, Osage Nation.

"Ecuadoran authorities must immediately investigate threats against Janet Hinostroza, a journalist with the private network Teleamazonas," the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday. "The threats have forced Hinostroza to take a temporary leave of absence."

"Two Kenyan journalists who claim to have discovered that genocide fugitive, the Rwandan millionaire financier Felicien Kabuga, is continuing to find a safe haven in Kenya, have fled Nairobi following death threats," Linda Melvern reported Thursday for Pambazuka News, which says it is "produced by a pan-African community of some 2,600 citizens and organisations." ". . . Kabuga was allegedly instrumental in financing the infrastructure of the genocide . . ."

"Three Somali journalists were killed and at least four were injured in a suicide bomb attack in a Mogadishu café today, according to news reports and local journalists," the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday. "The attack took place across the street from the National Theater, where a bomb blast in April wounded at least 10 journalists, news reports said."

"The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which protects the independence of the U.S. government's international broadcasts, including Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), has asked the Syrian government for third-party access to detained Alhurra cameraman Cuneyt Unal and any information on the whereabouts of Alhurra correspondent Bashar Fahmi," John Eggerton reported Friday for Broadcasting & Cable. "Both have been missing in Syria since mid-August, where they were covering the conflict there."

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