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Google executive Eric Schmidt (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

"The Internet company said it was censoring the video in India and Indonesia after blocking it on Wednesday in Egypt and Libya, where U.S. embassies have been stormed by protestors enraged over depiction of the Prophet Mohammad as a fraud and philanderer.

"On Tuesday, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in a fiery siege on the embassy in Benghazi.

"Google said [it] was further restricting the clip to comply with local law rather than as a response to political pressure.

" 'We've restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia, as well as in Libya and Egypt, given the very sensitive situations in these two countries,' the company said. 'This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007."

"White House officials had asked Google earlier on Friday to reconsider whether the video had violated YouTube's terms of service. . . . "

Claire Cain Miller reported Thursday for the New York Times that in blocking the video in Libya and Egypt, "Google's action raises fundamental questions about the control that Internet companies have over online expression. Should the companies themselves decide what standards govern what is seen on the Internet? How consistently should these policies be applied?

" 'Google is the world's gatekeeper for information so if Google wants to define the First Amendment to exclude this sort of material then there's not a lot the rest of the world can do about it,' said Peter Spiro, a constitutional and international law professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. 'It makes this episode an even more significant one if Google broadens the block.'

"He added, though, that 'provisionally,' he thought Google made the right call. 'Anything that helps calm the situation, I think is for the better.' . . . "

Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: John is to Mitt what Hillary is to Barack.

Christa Case Bryant, Christian Science Monitor: Blasphemy riots: less about theology, more about power plays

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Mitt Romney has a 'personal' problem

Marc Lamont Hill, Philadelphia Daily News: 'A call to responsibility and reflection'

Project on Government Oversight, OpenTheGovernment.org, the Union of Concerned Scientists, American Society of News Editors: 10 Questions for the 2012 Candidates

Jennifer Vanasco, Columbia Journalism Review: More coverage of US Muslims is needed

"For many non-Latino Americans, the words 'Latino' and 'illegal immigrant' are one and the same," Sandra Lilley reported Wednesday for NBCLatino.com. "A new poll . . . finds over 30 percent of non-Hispanics believe a majority (over half) of Hispanics are undocumented. However, the actual figure of undocumented Hispanics in the U.S. is around 18 percent, and only 37 percent of U.S. Hispanics are actually immigrants, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. . . .

"These are some of the findings of a new poll [PDF] released by the National Hispanic Media Coalition and Latino Decisions on how media portrayals impact public opinion of Latinos and immigrants.

" 'There is widespread exposure to negative stereotypes of Latinos in the media, and exposure to these images and stereotypes does have a causal effect on people's perceptions,' explains political scientist Matt Barreto, principal at Latino Decisions.

"Non-Latinos hold some positive views of Hispanics — over 75 percent of those polled think Latinos are family-oriented (90 percent), hard-working (81 percent), religious (81 percent) and honest (76 percent). However, 1 out of 2 non-Latinos think 'welfare recipient' describes Latinos very or somewhat well (51 percent), as well as 'less educated' (50 percent), and 'refuse to learn English' (44 percent).

" 'The media is doing a disservice with coverage that is misleading the public about Latinos who live in the U.S.,' said National Hispanic Media Coalition president and CEO Alex Nogales. 'It is producing attitudes among non-Latinos that contribute to hate speech and hate crimes. We must demand that the media do a better job with its coverage,' Nogales added in a press conference in Washington D.C. today. . . ."

"When asked if he regretted not having been able to deliver on immigration reform, the president responded: 'No, because what a president does, or what a candidate for president does is you lay out an agenda of where you want to take your country, a vision for how we would strengthen the country and, in my case, my vision has always been how do we create a strong middle class, ladders of opportunity into the middle class.' "

Obama's statement was immediately challenged online.

Immigration lawyer Matthew Kolken, for example, posted an Associated Press video from 2008 in which candidate Obama said of immigration reform, "We can't wait 20 years from now to do it, we can't 10 years from now to do it, we need to do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States of America."

In questions prepared this week for the moderators of the upcoming presidential debates, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists suggests asking of Obama, "You promised immigration reform in the first year of your term but that never happened. . . ."

Michael Cottman, blackamericaweb.com: Obama's Just One of the Guys

Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Blacks Bashing Barack

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: Democrats Now More Positive on Campaign 2012

USA Today, which startled the newspaper industry with its consumer-focused approach to the news when it debuted 30 years ago this week, unveiled a redesigned product Friday. But an author who has written about the newspaper predicted that USA Today "is in danger of 'marking 30,' a journalistic term for coming to an end, or dying."

Lest we forget, 30 years ago, USA Today was also a beacon for diversity. As John Quinn, Gannett's chief news executive at the time, said in this space on the paper's 25th anniversary, the percentage of people of color at USA Today's founding exceeded that in the nation as well as in the newspaper industry. Of the five managing editors, two were women. At the level below them were two more women and two African Americans. The average age was 30. "More important, we had the talent we needed," Quinn said.

USA Today reported 19.8 percent journalists of color in the 2012 census of the American Society of News Editors, compared with an industry percentage of 12.3 percent. "According to the U.S. Census, the percentage of minorities in the total U.S. population is nearing 50 percent," ASNE notes.

The paper told readers on Thursday, "The new look of USA TODAY is designed to take 'visual storytelling to the next level' by displaying more color, photos and infographics . . .  The States page will contain photos for the first time, while the Weather page will sport a cleaner look.

"USA TODAY's new logo — a large circle in colors corresponding to the sections — will be an infographic that changes with the news, containing a photo or image that represents key stories of the day.

"Under [Publisher Larry] Kramer and Editor-in-Chief David Callaway, both of whom joined the company this year, USA TODAY will increase the amount of original reporting in its pages and host more videos produced by the more than 5,000 journalists at USA TODAY and other Gannett properties. . . ."

John K. Hartman, a Central Michigan University journalism professor and author of "The USA Today Way" and "The USA Today Way 2 The Future," was not impressed.

He wrote Wednesday in Editor & Publisher, "In the spirit of [founder Al] Neuharth's 'journalism of hope,' I give the Kramer/Callaway duo a chance of remaking USA Today as a digital force, but I cannot imagine it becoming a revolutionary factor online as it was in print during its first decade, and I cannot imagine Gannett devoting even a fraction of the former $1 billion subsidy to make it so.

"More likely, USA Today will be shuttered in the next three years, a product of the collective turning away from print and from the concept of being fully informed about national issues (even sports and entertainment) that has swept the country."

After Friday's unveiling of the redesign, Journal-isms asked Hartman if his views remained. "Yes," he replied by email. "Nothing positive other than hiring media columnist. Rest of the stuff has been done, more or less, in the past and has not paid off. Where is the celebration of USA Today's 30th anniversary? Redesign is a PR gimmick to distract us from reality that once innovative and once profitable icon is headed for the dumper. See: Newsweek."

Eric Deggans blog, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times: What do you think of USA Today's first redesign in 30 years?

Edmund Lee, BloombergBusinessweek: Gannett Shares Jump as Demand for Advertising Grows (Sept. 11)

Michael Meyer, Columbia Journalism Review: USA Today’s 30th birthday bash

"After five and half years as editor of The Village Voice, Tony Ortega announced in a by-the-way blog post that he would be leaving to work on a book about Scientology while the music editor, Maura Johnston, took to Twitter to say she was leaving the paper as well," David Carr and Ben Sisario reported Friday for the New York Times.

"Mr. Ortega said he would leave next week and that there were staff members available to handle the transition. No successor has been named, but Mr. Ortega said that Christine Brennan, executive managing editor of the company, was looking to hire in New York, a fact he said, 'should please all the writers out there.' "

Ortega is of Mexican-American heritage and has worked at Phoenix New Times, New Times Los Angeles, the Pitch in Kansas City and New Times Broward-Palm Beach in Florida.

He told Journal-isms last year, ". . . In general, alt-weeklies not only work to increase the diversity of our staffs, but we also report on communities of color with more courage and passion than the dailies. We're fearless about taking on controversial stories that we know might upset our readers of color because we respect them as readers and don't feel they need to be patronized."

"Though writing about Scientology may be Mr. Ortega's life preserver, a former staffer told us his relentless pursuit of scoops on the controversial church may have been a distraction in his final months at the paper."

"The District [of Columbia] doesn't get many victories in Congress, but the city scored an important symbolic win Wednesday as the Senate approved a measure to put a statue of abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass in the Capitol," Ben Pershing reported Wednesday for the Washington Post. "With the House having passed the bill Monday, it now heads to President Obama's desk for his signature.

"The 50 states have statues of two luminaries apiece in the Capitol, mostly in Statuary Hall. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and other local officials have long sought the same honor for the District, but their effort had been stymied by unrelated debates over gun laws and voting rights. The Douglass statue and one of architect Pierre L’Enfant have been sitting at One Judiciary Square awaiting resolution of the issue.

"The compromise measure set to become law, allowing one statue, was authored by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) and backed by Norton. The Senate version, offered by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), passed that chamber by unanimous consent Wednesday."

Douglass published the abolitionist newspapers the North Star and Frederick Douglass' Paper in Rochester, N.Y., and his likeness graces the highest award bestowed by the National Association of Black Journalists.

David Andreatta, Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, N.Y.: Douglass statue to be displayed in Capitol

David W. Blight, New York Times: Voter Suppression, Then and Now

Erica Taylor, "The Tom Joyner Morning Show," blackamericaweb.com: Little Known Black History Fact: Frederick Douglass Statue

The morning public radio show "The Takeaway" has been shrunk from four hours to one and its co-host, Celeste Headlee, granddaughter of the noted African American composer William Grant Still, has left the program, Jennifer A. Houlihan, director of publicity for New York Public Radio, told Journal-isms on Friday.

"As of Monday, September 3, The Takeaway is no longer a 4 hour morning drive program, but rather a one hour mid-morning / mid-afternoon news and talk show" hosted by John Hockenberry, Houlihan said by email.

"The Takeaway now feeds live as a one-hour program at 9am ET, with an updated version feeding at noon ET, providing stations with maximum flexibility across time zones and significantly increasing our service to West Coast stations.

"Why the change? We found that some stations were already airing The Takeaway as a post-AM drive show, and we hope this move will ensure its sustainability and service to the public radio system over the long-term.

"Upon learning of the change, Celeste asked us to release her from the Takeaway so she could pursue other opportunities, such as covering the conventions for PBS. Celeste had obviously been an incredible asset to the Takeaway."

Houlihan said "The Takeaway" airs on about 60 stations.

According to Headlee's bio, "In addition to her journalistic background, Headlee is a classically trained soprano who has performed at the Michigan Opera Theater and various recitals around the country. She has contributed pieces to Chamber Music magazine, and is the granddaughter of 'The Dean of African American composers,' William Grant Still."

The Native American Journalists Association plans to name a new executive director about Nov. 15, President Rhonda LeValdo told Journal-isms on Friday, and will do without an interim director to succeed Jeff Harjo, who announced his resignation last month.

"We launched our search for a new executive director last week just after Jeff's last day with NAJA, and we expect that we will begin interviewing candidates in October and name a new executive director later this fall," LeValdo said by email.

"As far as appointing an interim, we decided against doing so and we developed a strategy to see us through the next two months. Our treasurer Tristan Ahtone is currently working with our accountant to put together the budget for the 2013 FY; I am overseeing overall operations, polices and wrap up from the UNITY convention; [Vice President] Mary Hudetz is working with a strong local committee on early planning for the 2013 conference; we have our board members as well contributing to daily tasks. We have an office assistant who is handling other duties for us, including processing new membership applications and bills, and answering phones in our headquarters."

The particulars of the executive director position are on the NAJA home page, www.naja.com.

"Maybe you call it moxie, or chutzpah, or swagger. By whatever name, Sharon McGhee had it," Maureen O'Donnell wrote Wednesday for the Chicago Sun-Times.

"After the radio station where she worked in St. Louis changed formats, she drove to Chicago in 1997, determined to get a meeting with the boss at WVON Radio, Melody Spann-Cooper.

"She succeeded by stationing herself in the lobby — for four days.

"Spann-Cooper was impressed.

" 'She sat in the lobby until I would see her,' Spann-Cooper said. 'I almost hired her on the spot when I sat down and listened to her tape.'

"Ms. McGhee, who went on to become WVON's news director as well as a talk-show host, died Tuesday of ovarian cancer at the Columbia, Mo., home of her brother, Ivan McGhee. She was 55.

"In addition to her career as a broadcaster, Ms. McGhee also was a playwright. Her work grew out of her concern about the high rate of HIV/AIDS among black women and the success of 'The Vagina Monologues,' based on women's personal stories about their sexuality. Ms. McGhee called her production 'The PocketBook Monologues,' for the delicate reference for intimate parts used among some older African-American women. The play was dubbed 'The Vagina Monologues with Soul.' . . ."

Short Takes

A report by correspondent Ari Shapiro from an American Legion convention in Indianapolis failed to deal with its racial implications, NPR Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos wrote on Friday. In the report, Bobbie Lucie, a veteran's wife, 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." Schumacher-Matos wrote, "I think that he and his editors were wrong to let Lucie's interview run without clarifying what she meant" — whether the comment was racist.

"Fort Worth-based NBC5 has added Deanna Dewberry to its reporting staff," Ed Bark reported Friday for his Uncle Barky's Bytes blog. "The 1992 University of Texas at Austin grad is scheduled to join the station next month from WISH-TV, the CBS affiliate in Indianapolis. She has been at WISH since 2005, following a seven-year stint as an anchor/reporter at Belo-owned/Dallas-based Texas Cable News Network and WFAA8."

Fred Armisen is stepping aside from his longtime role of playing President Obama on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," Christopher John Farley wrote Thursday for the "Speakeasy" column in the Wall Street Journal. "Funnyman Jay Pharoah will be taking his place. A 'Saturday Night Live' spokesperson confirmed the switch to Speakeasy." Tim Molloy added for Reuters, "Armisen's impersonation, while good, drew some raised eyebrows because Armisen is of Venezuelan, German and Japanese descent, while the president is primarily of Kenyan and English heritage. Pharoah, who is African-American, has stood out on 'SNL' with impeccable impersonations of Denzel Washington, Jay-Z, and others."

"Hampton University's Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications is pleased to announce the formation of a new board of advisors," the university announced last week. ". . . Scripps Howard Dean Brett Pulley has organized a group of professionals that includes senior executives from firms such as Facebook, News Corp, The Walt Disney Co., The New York Times Co., Bloomberg L.P., CBS Inc., and AOL Inc."

In Editor & Publisher, "Ethics Corner" columnist Allan Wolper reported on the case of columnist Steve Penn, fired by the Kansas City Star last year "because it said he had been publishing press releases verbatim in his column — a form of plagiarism that has plagued the news media for ages. Then last July, Penn fired back, filing his suit against the Star and corporate owner, McClatchy Newspapers, Inc., alleging his editors knew all about his pilfering and that plagiarizing press releases was common practice at the paper. . . . So why bother with press release thievery? Because it is a slippery slope," Wolper said. "The recent list of plagiarists — cheaters, if you might — lifted pieces that were in the main confirmed as fact."

"The FCC stands firm, rejecting the challenges put forth regarding the bankruptcy sale of Inner City Broadcasting to creditor-owner YMF Media. Inner City has WLIB-AM and WBLS as part of its stable of 16 stations," Jerry Barmash reported Friday for FishbowlNY. While Brooklyn, N.Y., Councilman and talk show host Charles Barron alleged that the sale would "result in an unlawful reduction of programming geared toward Black and local audiences," according to All Access, the FCC said, in part, that it does not take programming decisions into consideration in approving sales.

Oprah Winfrey announced that her fledgling OWN television network has finally turned the corner, the Huffington Post reported Thursday. "Let me just say, we have made the pivot," Winfrey declared to George Stephanopoulos on Thursday's "Good Morning America." "It's been really an exciting challenge and I am really so happy to announce to the world, 'We have made the pivot.' "

CNN's Arwa Damon and Sara Sidner have both been promoted to senior international correspondent, Chris Ariens reported Wednesday for TVNewser. "In addition, Sidner moves from CNN New Delhi, where she's been based since joining CNN in 2007, to CNN Jerusalem."

For his "From the G Man" blog, Gary Glennell asked Michael B. Hodge, one of the Metro Seven who filed a discrimination complaint against the Washington Post 40 years ago, about the state of journalism in America. "Abysmal," Hodge replied Wednesday. "There has been a downward spiral over the last 30 years. The airwaves were always viewed as belonging to the people and the networks and radio station owners would have to apply for a license every so many years. In exchange for a fee and the promise to do a certain amount of public service programming, they could keep their licenses. Also, news divisions were never viewed as money-makers. They were image makers. . . . Now, however, news organizations are either mandated to be profit-making, constrained by economics or both. . . ."

"When the judges responsible for distributing the estate of the late musician James Brown started refusing freedom of information requests from the estate's former trustees last year, a 60-year-old, semi-retired freelance reporter named Sue Summer wondered why," Hazel Sheffield wrote Thursday for Columbia Journalism Review. "She started reporting on the squabbles over Brown's estate for her local paper, the Newberry [S.C.] Observer, when she wasn't caring for her granddaughter. In the year since her first story ran, Summer believes the attorney general — and therefore the state — has attempted to stop her digging three times, culminating in an extremely broad subpoena issued last month that lists the attorney general as a plaintiff. It requests that she turn over all her on- and off-the-record material pertaining to the case."

"A Haitian-American journalist sued by Haiti's prime minister for defamation is standing by his reporting," the Associated Press reported on Thursday. "Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe filed a lawsuit Monday in Miami federal court against the weekly newspaper Haiti-Observateur and its reporter Leo Joseph.

Writing in Network Journal Wednesday of the African-American Film Critics Association, Ann Brown reported, "In 2009, when the film, Precious, swept the AAFCA awards, there was talk of vote tampering. Some AAFCA members . . . split from the original group and formed the Black Film Critics Circle. AAFCA, soon afterwards, announced that final tabulations for all AAFCA Award categories will be handled by a Beverly Hills accountant not affiliated with the group." Now AAFCA is expanding to partner with various film festivals. "Most recently the organization decided to team up with the Cape Verde International Film Festival (CVIFF), which takes place annually in the West African nation of Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) on the island of Sal."

"At the turn of the 20th century, Native Americans were known as the 'Vanishing Americans,' " Tim Giago wrote Tuesday for the Huffington Post. "And now, 100 years later, they are one of the fastest growing groups in America." But ". . . most major businesses in South Dakota . . . have not learned to look upon the fastest growing population in the state as consumers and, indeed, still look at Native Americans as poverty stricken welfare recipients."

The International Press Institute Friday "condemned a judge's ruling yesterday in the Dominican Republic that sentenced a journalist to three months in prison for defamation," Scott Griffen reported for IPI. "Melton Pineda is the second Dominican journalist to face prison for defamation in 2012, following the January conviction of Johnny Alberto Salazar, whose case was later overturned on appeal.

The International Press Institute Thursday "condemned the detention and beating of a leading independent Cuban journalist reportedly by Cuban state security forces, and expressed concern for the whereabouts of a missing correspondent. Roberto de Jesús Guerra, editor of the news website Hablemos Press, was detained along with one of the site's photographers, Gerardo Youmel Ávila Perdomo, while the two were on their way to an Internet training course at the Czech embassy in Havana, reports said."

"Continuing their three-year-long clampdown on journalists covering human rights, minority groups, and political reform, Iranian authorities have summoned two journalists to begin prison terms and are bringing two others to trial," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Thursday. ". . . Authorities summoned Shiva Nazar Ahari, a blogger and founding member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), on Saturday to begin serving her prison sentence in the women's ward of Tehran's Evin Prison, according to CHRR. . . . In the other case, Zhila Bani Yaghoub, a former editor of the banned reformist daily Sarmayeh, began serving a one-year prison term on September 2 in Evin Prison's women's ward, according to news reports."

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