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"Criminal justice reform may top the list of third-rail political issues to be strictly avoided on the campaign trail. And, perhaps as expected, it didn't rear its head at any of the presidential debates," Farai Chideya wrote Wednesday for Columbia Journalism Review.

"Politicians from both major parties tend to shy away from crime, unless it's to promise to throw criminals under the jail," Chideya continued. "This can always change, though, and it's worth noting that violent crime rose 18 percent last year, according to a new report from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, the first rise in two decades."

Justice issues weren't the only ones that journalists of color complained were missing from the debates. Africa, Latin America and religion were among the others.

". . . It was billed as a 'foreign policy' debate, which to me means a debate on global issues. Instead, it was a national security debate, with almost all of the focus on Arab nations and the Middle East: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Israel," Chideya wrote Tuesday on

The third and final debate between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney attracted 59.2 million viewers, according to the Nielsen ratings firm, Meg James reported Wednesday for the Los Angeles Times. Viewership was below the first two presidential debates this year, but up about 5 percent compared with the final debate four years ago, when then-Sen. Obama sparred with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz).

A complicating factor: "Monday's debate faced stiff competition from 'Monday Night Football' on ESPN and Fox's broadcast of a clinching Major League Baseball division series game, in which the San Francisco Giants throttled the St. Louis Cardinals to win a ticket to the World Series," James noted.

". . . A powerful open, but by debate's end[,] viewers were left with just a fleeting mention of Latin America, no substantive discussion of the entire western hemisphere, and not one mention of a brutal drug war affecting one of our largest trade partners -- Mexico."

Llenas imaged what a fourth presidential debate on Latin American issues would be like.

Howard W. French, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, wrote in Columbia Journalism Review, "Four debates down, and the word 'Africa' has been uttered just once, in passing.

"What is most disturbing about an observation like this is how little it surprises. Not since the Kennedy Administration has the United States seen Africa -- the continent of Africa, and not the odd country or momentary crisis -- as the theater of any top-drawer foreign policy concerns," French wrote.

"And across Africa, a feeling of letdown at the Obama administration's lack of engagement with the continent is palpable. Because of his background, expectations were higher for the incumbent president in this regard than they have been for perhaps any of his predecessors.

". . . The questions for the Obama and Romney campaigns, then, are: How will your administration break with Washington's outdated Africa policies? How will the United States keep pace with China and other emerging economic powers, like India, Brazil and Turkey, which are all stepping up their engagements with Africa? What, specifically, can the US do to help develop markets in Africa, tap the huge, ongoing demographic shift there, and change the relationship between this country and the continent into one of much greater opportunity for all concerned?"

In the Washington Post, Barbara Reynolds, ordained minister and journalist, wrote Tuesday, "I find it strange that the media are not opening up a dialogue concerning Romney and his faith with the same dedication as they scrutinized John F. Kennedy on whether his first loyalty would be to the pope or the presidency, or Jimmy Carter, who as a Southern Baptist, was grilled about what it meant to be born again. Indeed, President Obama was asked repeatedly how his Christian beliefs related to liberation theology. Some Americans believe he is a Muslim."

Reynolds posed five questions, beginning with, "Before 1978, the church regarded dark skin as a sign of a spiritual curse that denied black men the right to be ordained as priests. The curse was lifted in 1978, and black men were ordained for the priesthood. Would you support efforts to lift the ban against women being ordained to the priesthood? Also, the church has aggressively fought against passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Would you support measures such as the ERA and other public policy for gender equality?"

"BOCA RATON (The Borowitz Report) -- The third and final Presidential debate ended in dramatic fashion tonight as President Obama punched Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the face, knocking him unconscious before a national television audience. . . ."

So began a satire by Andy Borowitz Monday in the New Yorker.

Derek T. Dingle, senior vice president/editor-in-chief of Black Enterprise magazine, landed an interview with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney "although polls show that his support from African Americans is almost nil," Dingle wrote.

Romney replied, "In hiring, we try to hire the best person we could possibly get without regard to the gender, race, or the sexual orientation of the person involved. I can tell you that when I became governor [of Massachusetts] I noted that government by and large drew from the same pool of applicants. I wanted to get more diversity in my senior administration members. So, I tasked our team with reaching out to other sources of résumés and to bring in people of a broader background. So, in my cabinet I had a number of minority members."

Dingle asked, "So how would your presidential cabinet look?"

Romney said, "I would hope to have the most capable people that I could find across the country. I would expect a number of them would have business backgrounds. I would hope a number would also have experience in the public sector. I recognize that you're looking to see if there would be representation of various ethnic groups and genders. The answer is yes. I would love to have a cabinet that reflected the fabric of America."

In separate post-debate radio interviews, President Obama said he was counting on congressional Republicans to end their obstructionism if he wins re-election, named health-care reform as his longest-lasting legacy and addressed the issue of Latin America, an area of the world not discussed in Monday's debate on foreign policy.

On his syndicated morning show, Tom Joyner asked Obama Tuesday, "How can you get the economy straight without the cooperation of the Republicans? Or will this time will it be another four more years of them just saying 'no, no, no' to everything you try to do?"

Obama replied, "You know it will be interesting to see how they respond. Obviously our first job is to win. And if we win, when we win, I think what you'll see is that initially there may be some resistance, but you know, they've been obsessed over the last four years with defeating me. After the election I will have won my last race. And hopefully they'll recognize that the kind of obstruction that they've engaged in is not good for them politically and it's certainly not good for the country. . . ."

On Univision Radio's "The Fernando Espuelas Show" on Wednesday, Espuelas asked, "If reelected, and now looking forward, what do you hope will be your greatest accomplishment as president?"

Obama said, "Well I think the most consequential thing that I have done as president has been to make sure that our economy didn't slip into a Great Depression. But I think the long-lasting legacy is going to be health care because we are the only industrialized nation on Earth that did not have basic coverage for millions of people. And that disproportionately included Latinos who work every day very hard but because they may be in low-wage jobs are not getting benefits on the job. And to make sure that our families are healthy, that they are not going to go bankrupt when they get sick, that they are not putting off preventive checkups and care that could prevent diseases, that is going to make a huge impact on people's lives over the long term."

Espuelas asked Obama to comment on the assertion by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney that the president had made the United States "weaker across the globe."

"Well, if you take a look at what we have done, not only in ending the war in Iraq, refocusing on al Qaeda, we are now transitioning out of Afghanistan," Obama replied. "But look at the regional alliances that we have built, areas that had been neglected for so many years. You take an example of Latin America, where during the Bush years the U.S. image in Latin America and the Caribbean was terrible. We immediately embarked on work starting with the first Summit of the Americas that I attended to create partnerships around education, around energy, small business exchanges that allow more products to be sold throughout the region. We made sure that we signed and completed trade deals with Colombia and Panama.

"And in addition to that, we have also been working on our infrastructure that allows us to increase trade throughout the region. For example, Florida obviously is a gateway for a lot of shipping into Latin America. We are expanding the Jacksonville port so that it is going to be equipped to deal with increased cargo. Those are the kinds of things that we just weren't doing, and it's part of the reason why our reputation is better around the world than it was when I came into office."

Khalil Abdullah, New America Media: Voter Suppression Laws Cast Chill on Af-Am Community

Wayne Bennett, Field Negro: Ann's R word, and Mitt gets a beatdown.

Monica Campbell, "The World," Public Radio International: Romney Alienates Latino Mormons

Sasha Chavkin, Columbia Journalism Review: The Ad Wars: Obama's special message in Spanish

Daniel Garza, Fox News Latino: There Was Something Foreign About This Debate

Mike Hoyt, Columbia Journalism Review: Let Detroit do what?: New interest in an old Op-Ed

La Opinión, Los Angeles: La Opinión Endorses Obama

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: Republicans Increasingly Positive About Campaign

Roque Planas, HuffPost LatinoVoices: Latin America Ignored At Third U.S. Presidential Debate

Nicholas Riccardi, Associated Press: Obama Immigration Stance Locks In Hispanic Support

Rick Sanchez, Fox News Latino: Obama on the Ropes

Lauren Williams of the Root C-SPAN: African American Voters and the 2012 Election (video)

The 4th Estate, a nonpartisan project to aggregate data around the 2012 elections, released Thursday an infographic, "Bleached: Lack of Diversity on the Front Page," "that shows that over 93% of front page print articles covering the 2012 Presidential Election were written by white reporters.

"The percentage of articles written by Asian Americans is 3.3%, by African Americans is 2.9%, and by Hispanics is 0.7%," the election-year monitoring organization said.

" 'I was shocked when I saw these numbers,' says Michael Howe, 4th Estate's co-founder. 'Our data shows there is a large disparity between the representation of minority reporters writing the most influential stories in our society and the 2010 Census data numbers.'

"Earlier this year, the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) released a survey of the 2012 minority representation at various print organizations. 'The delta between our infographic and the ASNE survey is a fascinating study,' says Jonas Eno-Van Fleet, 4th Estate's Director of Operations.

" 'Some of the data matches very closely, such as the percentage of New York Times reporters who are Hispanic (4%), while some of the data is quite different, such as the numbers for the San Francisco Chronicle. We found no minority reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle writing front page election stories, while the overall minority representation of their staff is over 20% according to the ASNE survey.'

"The most striking under-representation of minorities in the 4th Estate data is that of Hispanic journalists. . . . While the ASNE study reports that 27% of the Miami Herald staff is Hispanic, the 4th Estate data found none of the Miami Herald front page election articles were written by Hispanic journalists. . . . There are a few bright spots such the percentage of front page articles written by African American reporters at Dallas Morning News."

"Earlier this week, the SPJ and RTDNA boards both voted to approve the partnership. NAHJ's board met on Oct. 19 and voted unanimously to approve its participation at EIJ13. . . ."

After less than 15 months in the job, Wonya Lucas is out as president and CEO of TV One, and will be replaced by her boss, Alfred C. Liggins III, CEO and president of Radio One, the network announced on Tuesday.

Liggins "will add oversight of all daily network operations for TV One to his portfolio as CEO of TV One effective November 1," a release said. "As a result, current President and CEO Wonya Lucas will step down at the end of the month. 'Wonya has created a strong foundation for TV One's future success with the launch of two new hit series, R&B Divas and The Rickey Smiley Show,' Mr. Liggins commented. 'I and the Radio One family thank her for her leadership and guidance and wish her well in her next endeavor.'

"Ms. Lucas remarked, 'It has been my pleasure to have had the opportunity to be a part of TV One and work with Alfred Liggins, Cathy Hughes, and the TV One staff. I am extremely proud of what has been accomplished during my time with the network and am confident that the senior team under Alfred's leadership will continue to thrive and succeed.' "

Asked whether Liggins would remain in the job permanently, TV One spokeswoman Monica Neal said by email, "Mr. Liggins is not offering comment at present but I will certainly add you to the press request list when he is giving interviews and can address your queries at that time."

She replied, in part, ". . . in the end, if we had this conversation a year from now, you'll see what I mean by really being relevant in the black community and being informing while still being entertaining. At the end of the day people watch television to be entertained and to be informed, and that's our goal."

Two of the four public radio stations that recently dropped Tavis Smiley and Cornel West's "Smiley & West" say they are still running "The Tavis Smiley Show" and dropped the "Smiley & West" portion for programming or ratings reasons. Smiley, meanwhile, returned to the subject of whether he should be considered a journalist.

Smiley issued a blistering open letter to WBEZ-FM in Chicago last week, calling its reasons for dropping "Smiley & West" "demeaning, derogatory and dead wrong."

WBEZ, known also as Chicago Public Media, ran the program at noon Sunday. It "explained the decision by citing audience erosion (noting a decline in weekly listenership from 37,900 to 13,200) and expressing concerns about the program's fairness and balance," Robert Feder reported last week for Time Out Chicago. " 'The show had developed much more of an 'advocacy' identity, which is inconsistent with our approach on WBEZ,' a spokesman said."

Tracey Powell wrote Wednesday for the Poynter Institute, " 'The Tavis Smiley Show' (with just Smiley) airs on 85 stations nationwide, while 'Smiley & West' airs on 72 stations. 'Smiley & West' is being marketed as the second hour of 'The Tavis Smiley Show' so that stations can test it out, a PRI spokeswoman told Poynter by phone."

Sam Fleming, managing director of news and programming at WBUR-FM in Boston, told Journal-isms his station ran "Smiley & West" for a week or two but replaced it with "Snap Judgment," an NPR show that calls itself "storytelling with a beat." "We thought it would appeal to young listeners," Fleming said by telephone. "I like Tavis, but I like having a variety of voices."

With "Smiley & West," WBUR was running a two-hour block of Smiley on Saturday nights, Fleming said.

Robert Peterson, director of radio programming and operations at KWMU-FM, St. Louis Public Radio, said of "Smiley & West," "The audience to us was not as strong or devoted as it was for the second hour," which was just Smiley. "It continued to show decline." "Smiley & West" was replaced by "Snap Judgment," which fit better in a Sunday night lineup that included the storytelling "This American Life," Peterson told Journal-isms by telephone.

Candice Breedlove, program director of KMOJ-FM in Minneapolis, an African American-oriented public station, did not respond to an inquiry about why that station dropped "Smiley & West."

In his interview with Powell, Smiley returned to the subject of whether he should be considered a journalist.

"I am not Brian Williams, Bob Schieffer, Scott Pelley, or Diane Sawyer. I am not trying to be a journalist," said Smiley.

"If people want to use the word journalist with me in the title, they have to call me an advocacy journalist in the tradition of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Monroe Trotter. What I try to do is raise issues that unsettle people, unhouse people, that challenge folks to re-examine their assumptions, expand their inventory of ideas and give them a new way of seeing the world, a new prism from which to look."

Univision, the Spanish-language network celebrating its 50th anniversary, "desperately wants to be taken seriously by its English-language counterparts as a reputable organization that practices real journalism . . .," syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. wrote this week, "Yet it permits things that many of its counterparts would reject out of hand -- such as allowing the owner's wife to accept a post with the Obama administration. Obama recently appointed Cheryl Saban, the wife of billionaire Haim Saban, to be a U.S. representative to the United Nations despite her having no previous diplomatic experience."

Robert Hernandez, assistant professor of professional practice at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, was reelected to the board of the Online News Association, the association reported Monday. He was the top vote-getter, with 10.8 percent, or 271 votes. Richard Koci Hernandez, assistant professor of new media at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, was among six others elected. "A 15th seat will soon be appointed by the Board to help meet ONA's diversity goals," an announcement said.

Mizell Stewart III, chief content officer of the newspaper division of the E.W. Scripps Co., will assume the role of treasurer of the American Society of News Editors at the June 24-26, 2013, meeting in Washington, D.C., and become president at the 2016 meeting of the Society, ASNE announced Wednesday.

Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, rejected criticism that "Good Morning America" was exploiting co-host Robin Roberts' bone marrow transplant. "We are doing exactly what Robin has wanted every step of the way," Sherwood told Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday. "Every frame of video you see, every mention is our attempt to fulfill Robin's wishes. Chronicling her journey is a very important part, in her view, of her healing process. She believes in the power of prayer, and I think she feels the outpouring of love, attention and concern has been crucial. No one would be more surprised by that criticism than Robin Roberts herself, who feels this is a very authentic part of who she is and taking what's happening to her to the people who care about her."

Lisa Manns, who worked as an editor at New York Newsday, the Detroit Free Press, Chicago Tribune and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, died over the weekend, family members said. She had been battling breast cancer and related illnesses since 2005. She was 46 and lived in Dallas. Manns left her senior year at Washington University after being accepted into the Times-Mirror Minority Editorial Training Program in New York. As a copy editor at New York Newsday, Mann was among a team of Newsday journalists who were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting. Her funeral is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Creve Coeur in suburban St. Louis. Flowers and cards can be sent to the William-James Mortuary in St. Louis, said Rod Hicks, a friend and colleague. St. Louis Beacon obituary.

"Latoya Silmon of Tulsa's KTUL-TV has been hired as a general assignment reporter for Dallas-based Fox4's Good Day," Ed Bark reported Tuesday for his "Uncle Barky's Bytes" blog. ". . . Silmon replaces Krystle Gutierrez, who left Fox4 in February of this year to join her husband, Kris Gutierrez in Chicago, where he co-anchors WBBM-TV's early morning newscasts."

In Dallas, "KXAS-TV today announced that Deanna Dewberry will be its new consumer/investigative reporter and anchor NBC 5's 6:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, newscast on digital channel 5.2. Dewberry joined the station earlier this month," the station said on Tuesday. ". . . Dewberry has been a news anchor and investigative reporter at WISH-TV in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the past seven years."

Eden Lane, host of "In Focus with Eden Lane," now in its fifth season spotlighting local arts and culture every Friday on Colorado Public Television, "is believed to be the first transgender journalist on mainstream television anywhere in the United States," John Moore wrote Sunday for the Denver Post. Moore added, " .  . 'But I don't think of being transgender as any part of my identity, any more than I do that I am left-handed,' she said."

Photojournalist Alf Kumalo was the second well-known South African journalist to pass away this month, Kenichi Serino wrote Wednesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Founding editor of the New Nation, an anti-apartheid magazine, Zwelakhe Sisulu died on October 4. Sisulu was a Nieman journalism fellow at Harvard in 1984 and became the chief executive of the SABC -- South Africa's public broadcaster -- in 1994.

"More than 40 media organizations worldwide are demanding urgent action by governments, the United Nations, and the industry to stop violence against journalists and end impunity in attacks on the press," Elisabeth Witchel wrote Tuesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "They made their position known in a joint statement delivered today to the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The call for action comes ahead of the 2nd U.N. Inter Agency meeting on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, to take place November 22-23, in Vienna."

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

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