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Cathy Hughes, owner of Radio One, with Denzel Washington (News One)

Black, Asian Broadcast Ownership Dips

"Bill O'Reilly can breathe a little easier.

"Last week while speaking about the reelection of President Obama, the Fox News commentator said, 'The white establishment is now the minority,' " Joe Flint wrote Wednesday for the Los Angeles Times.

"The Federal Communications Commission just released its report on the ownership of commercial broadcast stations which reveals that as of 2011, whites own 69.4% of the nation's 1,348 television stations. That's up from 63.4% in 2009, when there were 1,187 stations.

"While white ownership increased, most minority ownership decreased. Blacks went from owning 1% of all commercial TV stations in 2009 to just 0.7% in 2011. Asian ownership slipped from 0.8% in 2009 to 0.5% last year. Latino ownership increased slightly from 2.5% to 2.9%.

"Females owned 6.8% of all commercial TV stations in 2011, compared to 5.6% in 2009.

"It is a similar story in radio. Whites own almost 80% of all AM and FM radio stations, with more than 70% being owned by men."

Translating the percentages into numbers, John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable wrote that people of color "owned only 30 full-power TV stations in 2009 and that number was the same in 2011.

"African-American ownership dropped from 12 stations in 2009 to 10 stations in 2011, or less than 1% of the total. Ownership of the balance of the 30 stations (about 1.5% of the total) was spread among Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asians and others.

"Hispanics and Latinos . . . saw their ownership climb from 30 stations in 2009 to 39 in 2011, or 2.9% of the total. Hispanics represent 16.7% of the population, according to the Census.

" . . . The report does not get into why those minority ownership figures have not significantly improved, or in some cases declined."

The Free Press media advocacy group said in a statement, "If accurate, these data are largely in line with Free Press' studies from 2007, Out of the Picture and Off the Dial, until today the only thorough accounting of female and minority broadcast ownership.

"Despite the extremely low levels of female and minority ownership, the FCC is currently proposing relaxing its cross-ownership rule, which includes limits on ownership of television stations and newspapers in the same market. These appear to be the very same rule changes that former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin proposed in 2007 and that the public, Congress and a federal appeals court subsequently rejected. The FCC reportedly plans to vote on its latest round of proposed ownership rules before the end of the year.

"In 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit threw out the agency's 2007 effort to weaken the cross-ownership rule. In its decision, the court instructed the agency to first evaluate the impact of any rule changes on female and minority owners, who historically have been underrepresented in ownership of radio and television stations, before considering rule changes. The data released today counts who owns what but fails to address the impact of rule changes or meet the court's demands."

Craig Aaron, Free Press president and CEO, asked, ". . . Why is this FCC contemplating a giveaway to the nation's largest media conglomerates when much of the rest of the industry has turned away from the failed consolidation model? Why would the FCC push forward a plan that has no purpose and little support when it could do so much harm? Why does this agency keep dodging the issue of diversity when they have the power to actually do something about it?"

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Journal-isms asked Martin Baron, the Boston Globe editor named Tuesday to be the next executive editor of the Washington Post, to articulate his philosophy on newsroom diversity.

"I believe in diversity of coverage and diversity of staff," Baron said by email on Wednesday. "It's vital that we cover people in every corner of our community -- their concerns, their interests, their daily lives. We also need people on staff who see the world through distinct perspectives. They come from different backgrounds, and they detect stories that others might not see. All of this enriches our journalism and makes us more relevant to those we aim to attract as readers. Over time, it means we serve our communities better."

Baron succeeds Marcus Brauchli, executive editor for the last four years, who is to remain with the Post company as a vice president evaluating new media opportunities. Brauchli's departure was rumored for months and news organizations, in reporting the change, noted tensions between Brauchli and Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth. "The relationship between Ms. Weymouth and Mr. Brauchli chilled as she pushed him to make newsroom cuts he was uncomfortable with, according to people in the newsroom familiar with the discussions," Christine Haughney reported Tuesday for the New York Times.

From his 2008 appointment onward, Brauchli spoke unhesitatingly of his belief in diversity, at one point noting that he was the only white male in top newsroom management. That circle included Managing Editor Liz Spayd; Managing Editor Raju Narisetti, who is of South Asian background and has since returned to the Wall Street Journal; Sandy Sugawara, an Asian American who founded the universal desk and is now managing editor of WaPo Labs; Milton Coleman, an African American who is senior editor; and Shirley Carswell, a black journalist who is deputy managing editor.

However, some staff members complained that the diversity was not evenly spread throughout the newsroom.

The Post and the Globe reported similar statistics to the American Society of News Editors for its annual census. This year, each reported 8.0 percent Asian American and 3.8 percent Hispanic journalists. However, the Post had more black journalists, 12.9 percent, to the Globe's 8.9 percent. The Post additionally reported .05 percent American Indians.

When the Globe was reported planning newsroom cuts in 2009, local chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association jointly urged Baron to consider diversity. "For a city as diverse as Boston, where nearly half of its residents are people of color, a newsroom with a sizable percentage of Latino, African American, and Asian American staff is critical to providing accurate coverage of those communities that still lack decent media exposure," they wrote.

In 2005, when the staff was again downsized, Baron said the paper "worked very hard" to minimize the impact on newsroom diversity, but lost Kenneth J. Cooper, who as national editor was the paper's highest-ranking African American line editor.

Jube Shiver Jr., a retired black journalist who worked with Baron at the Los Angeles Times, told Journal-isms by email, "Marty was a very tough, but fair editor, when I worked for him at the Los Angeles Times. But Washington is a very different city than Boston, Miami and Los Angeles. Addressing diversity isn't solely a numbers game, it's about the particular sensibilities and history of the workplace you are in. There perhaps is no more storied a newsroom -- both journalistically and racially -- than the Washington Post and Marty will have to grapple with that."

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President Obama invoked the middle class 22 times Wednesday during his first full news conference since March, as Mitt Romney blamed his own overwhelming electoral loss on what he said were big "gifts" that the president had bestowed on loyal Democratic constituencies -including young voters, African-Americans and Hispanics.

"In a conference call on Wednesday afternoon with his national finance committee, Mr. Romney said that the president had followed the 'old playbook' of wooing specific interest groups -- 'especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people,' Mr. Romney explained -- with targeted gifts and initiatives," Ashley Parker reported Wednesday for the New York Times.

" 'In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,' Mr. Romney said . . ."

James Rainey wrote for the Los Angeles Times, "The first time Romney held forth on America's moocher class, video captured the moment. This time, on Wednesday, it was the L.A. Times's Maeve Reston and a New York Times reporter listening in as the Republican presidential nominee again delivered his version of the truth. And again, the audience consisted of the candidate's fat-cat donors."

At his news conference, Obama "even worked the plight of average Americans into questions -- like one about climate change -- that didn't directly pertain to the economy. Obama argued that Congress should not 'hold the middle class hostage' - by refusing to extend tax cuts first approved under President George W. Bush, just to also extend tax cuts for the wealthy," James Rainey reported for the Los Angeles Times.

"What was the Hispanic vote for president on Nov. 6?

"President Barack Obama 71 percent, Republican Mitt Romney 27 percent.

"Immigration reform, the president told his Telemundo questioner at a White House news conference today, is on the way."

In an appearance this week on Pacifica radio's "Democracy, Now!" West had "very harsh words for Al Sharpton, Melissa Harris-Perry and frequent MSNBC guest host Michael Eric Dyson as apologists for the Obama administration, Jack Mirkinson reported for the Huffington Post. "I love Brother Mike Dyson, but we're living in a society where everybody is up for sale," West said. 

Obama was not the popular favorite among the celebrity panelists who were convened to recommend Time magazine's annual "Person of the Year," although Time has a track record of picking newly elected or reelected presidents for the distinction, Joe Pompeo reported Tuesday for capitalnewyork.com.

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Trymaine Lee, who joined Huffington Post last year and helped elevate the Trayvon Martin killing to national prominence, has left the website for MSNBC, Lee told Journal-isms on Tuesday.

"My last day was Nov. 1," Lee said by email. "I'll be joining MSNBC as a national reporter for the network's new website later this month. This new adventure offers a great opportunity to write about important issues that I care about, but it also offers the opportunity to reach a wider audience through the networks television programming. My main focus will be writing, but there's also the expectation that I'll have a presence, to one degree or another, on the television side when it makes sense."

Lee came to the Huffington Post after covering Harlem as an intermediate reporter on the New York Times Metro desk. "Prior to joining The Times in late 2006, he was a staff writer at the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans, where he was part of a team that won a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Hurricane Katrina coverage," a bio says. "He also contributed reporting to the Times's 2009 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the Eliot Spitzer scandal and is a past recipient of the National Association of Black Journalists Emerging Journalist of the Year Award."

Early next year, MSNBC.com is to be reborn as a stand-alone site for the cable channel MSNBC, Brian Stelter reported in July for the Times.

In addition, "The NBCUniversal News Group has announced that iVillage will be run as part of its portfolio of digital news operations and that it will be overseen by Vivian Schiller, senior VP and chief digital officer at NBC News, who leads NBC News Digital," George Winslow reported Wednesday for Broadcasting & Cable.

". . . The NBC News Digital portfolio now includes iVillage, NBCNews.com, msnbc.com, theGrio.com, NBCLatino.com, NBCPolitics.com, EducationNation.com, EveryBlock.com, BreakingNews.com and Newsvine.com as well as a wide variety of apps and other digital properties tied to those sites."

"Rick Sanchez, the former CNN news anchor, will join the national news team of MundoFox, the newest Spanish-language network in the United States," Tanzina Vega reported Tuesday for the New York Times.

"Mr. Sanchez, who is bilingual, will contribute daily segments to the network in Spanish and will also host several news specials a year. He will be based in Miami."

". . . 'I'm excited about MundoFox especially because MundoFox is really about the conversation that we've had about reaching out to that highly interactive first-, second- and third-generation Latino who reside in the United States and who, for the most part, have not been represented in the dissemination of news in the Unites States,' Mr. Sanchez said in an interview.

". . . Mr. Sanchez, who has been a vocal critic of the lack of diversity in the news media, said he considered the rates of diversity today 'somewhere in between weak and deplorable.'

". . . In 2010, Mr. Sanchez was fired from CNN after he commented during a radio interview that Jon Stewart, the host of 'The Daily Show' on Comedy Central, was a bigot and that 'everybody that runs CNN is a lot like Stewart.' "

A week later, Sanchez appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" and said his comments were wrong and offensive, but added that "I went into the interview with a chip on my shoulder" because of the lack of Hispanics, Asian Americans or African Americans hosting prime-time news shows on the mainstream cable networks.

"The website's headlines trumpet al-Shabab's imminent demise and describe an American jihadist fretting over insurgent infighting. At first glance it appears to be a sleek Horn of Africa news site. But the site -- sabahionline.com -- is run by the U.S. military," Jason Straziuso reported from Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday for the Associated Press.

"The site, and another one like it that centers on northwest Africa, is part of a propaganda effort by the U.S. military's Africa Command aimed at countering extremists in two of Africa's most dangerous regions - Somalia and the Maghreb.

"Omar Faruk Osman, the secretary-general of the National Union of Somali Journalists, said Sabahi is the first website he's seen devoted to countering the militants' message.

" 'We have seen portal services by al-Shabab for hate and for propaganda, for spreading violence. We are used to seeing that. In contrast we have not seen such news sites before. So it is something completely unique,' Osman said.

"But although he had noticed prominent articles on the site, which is advertising heavily on other websites, he had not realized it was bankrolled by the U.S. military.

"The U.S. military and State Department, a partner on the project, say the goal of the sites is to counter propaganda from extremists 'by offering accurate, balanced and forward-looking coverage of developments in the region.' "

". . . The site clearly says under the 'About' section that it is run by the U.S. military, but many readers may not go to that link."

Although BET has moved the T.J. Holmes late-night show "Don't Sleep" from half an hour four times a week to an hour once a week, the network's decision is not the first step toward cancellation, Stephen G. Hill, BET's president for music programming and specials, told Jawn Murray for Murray's alwaysalist.com.

"You can check your Twitter hashtag for #BETDontSleep," Hill said. "The number of people who have asked for this show to be one hour is incredible. That is absolutely for real. Because of other commitments, we couldn't do an hour nightly. We also weren't getting as deep into issues as we wanted to in a half of an hour. If it was going to be canceled, the show would have just been canceled. What we really want to do is make a great weekly show that digs a bit deeper and respects our audience's intelligence by getting into subjects with real meaning in a meaningful way. Having an hour weekly is the way we're hoping to get that done."

Angela Burt-Murray, the former Essence editor who worked briefly afterward at the Huffington Post planning a black-oriented project, has resurfaced as a co-founder of a "new high-quality digital network aimed at young women of color, CocoaFab.com," according to a news release from the company.

"CocoaFab.com is a dynamic celebrity news and style site covering urban pop culture. With up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, fashion and beauty trends, red carpet photos, vibrant social media engagement and original weekly web series the CocoaFab.com team plugs their audience of pop culture obsessives into the daily conversation about fashion, music, movies, TV and the stars they love," the release continues. "The site will launch with a target of 100,000 unique visitors per month; present six original weekly web series focused on entertainment and style; and offer an array of original and aggregated content online and via social media."

Murray is working with Shelly Jones Jennings, described as a leading digital media strategist. Burt-Murray left Essence magazine in November 2010 after editing it for five years.

The alternative Washington City Paper long ago dubbed Marion Barry "mayor for life" and has been one of the chief media critics of the former mayor, now a District of Columbia Council member.

Barry found an opportunity to strike back via Twitter on Tuesday. "@mikemadden I just realized YOU were the recipient of my 2000th tweet! Go figure?? In honor, pls tell me somethin good bout wcp diversity :)," Barry wrote, addressing Mike Madden, the paper's editor.

Madden replied, "@marionbarryjr That is quite an honor. We continue to aim to diversify our staff, but our industry in general lacks diversity..."

Asked for the specifics on the diversity of its editorial staff, Madden messaged Journal-isms, "Our editorial staff consists of 12 people. Of those, one is black; the rest are white. Our roster of freelance contributors, who write roughly half of our copy in any given week between our blogs and our print edition, is a bit more diverse.

"As I told Barry this summer in our office and on Twitter this week, I agree with him on this - I'd like our staff to better reflect our city's demographics, and when we do have openings, we encourage journalists of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to apply."

Last year, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, of which the Washington City Paper is a member, staged a panel at its annual convention, "Why Are Your Readers So White?"

The newly launched Latino Information Network or LIN@R, is described as a "first-of-its-kind Latino-focused research center and digital think-tank," Latina Lista reported Tuesday. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Robert Montemayor, editor and director of the editorial initiative, wrote in a welcome message, "The LIN@R concept is unique: an intersection between academic treatments and explanatory journalism."

"Rihanna says she has her limits -- but they're hard to find in the pages of GQ's December 'Men of the Year' issue," Nancy Dillon reported Tuesday for the Daily News in New York. "The singer oozes unbridled sex appeal in a series of GQ snaps featuring her mostly naked body and a strategically placed motorcycle jacket, manicured hand or designer shirt that can't seem to contain her."

After the violent robbery of a television news crew outside an Oakland, Calif., school last week, "Union officials who represent reporters at most of the Bay Area's major television and radio stations said Tuesday they had asked the broadcasters to immediately hire security guards to accompany news crews when they are in Oakland," Demian Bulwa reported for the San Francisco Chronicle. "At least one station has already enlisted guards, and others are considering it."

Camille Edwards, who joined New York's WABC-TV in August as vice president of news from NBC-owned WRC Washington, was soon faced with covering Hurricane Sandy, which hit on Oct. 29, an election the following week and a fierce nor'easter that dumped up to six inches of snow, Diana Marszalek reported Tuesday for TVNewsCheck. Edwards said in a Q-and-A, "We did over 100 hours of local news from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4 and we were on the air for 42 consecutive hours from Sunday to Tuesday." On Monday the website "had 4.4 million-plus page views and beat WNBC and WCBS combined, and that is huge for us. It was the highest day ever in our history. We had over 10,000 viewer photos."

The Robesonian newspaper in Lumberton, N.C., announced Monday that, "Effective immediately, The Robesonian newspaper will no longer allow comments that are racial on stories that do not have a racial element that have been posted on the newspaper's website at robesonian.com."

"ProPublica evaluated race and income data for Westchester County -- the affluent New York City suburb under a federal desegregation order -- to determine whether income alone accounts for the high degree of racial segregation experienced by African Americans there," Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote Tuesday for ProPublica. ProPublica constructed a map showing the expected distribution of African Americans if black households lived in areas with white households of the same income. "The differences are striking," Hannah-Jones wrote.

The Washington Informer, "The largest African-American newspaper in the District" of Columbia, "recently won the right to keep its designation to be considered for government contracts," Lafayette Barnes reported for the newspaper on Nov. 7. The city's Office of the Chief Financial Officer had ruled that the Informer was not eligible because it "serves a specific ethnic group and does not meet the requirements of a newspaper of general circulation."

In Columbus, Ohio, "A legal storm is brewing between two weathermen at WCMH-TV (Channel 4)," John Futty reported for the Columbus Dispatch. "Bob Nunnally has filed a libel lawsuit against fellow forecaster Jym Ganahl in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. The lawsuit says that Ganahl and perhaps 'an unknown individual or individuals' made false statements that injured Nunnally in his 'trade or profession' and exposed him to 'ridicule, hatred or contempt.' " The complaint does not reveal what Ganahl is accused of writing or where he wrote it."

Roland Martin, discussing his Sunday TV One show "Washington Watch With Roland Martin," says his program is unlike the mainstream Sunday talk shows. "The typical Sunday morning news show, what they do is they always start with a newsmaker and they sort of go for the big bit at the top of the show. But we learned last year that clearly our viewers want to see our panel. They want to see the roundtable kick things off and I think that what happens is the newsmaker, frankly, slows the show down," Martin, host and managing editor, told EUR's Lee Bailey, Chris Richburg reported Wednesday for eurweb.com.

In St. Louis, "The afternoon drive-time show hosted by outspoken sports-talk radio host Kevin Slaten has been dumped by KFNS (590 AM) following racially oriented comments he made on the air last week, station general manager Katy Pavelonis said Monday," Dan Caesar reported Monday for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The gist of Slaten's remarks were that African-Americans voted for President Barack Obama because he is black."

Torey Malatia, chief executive of Chicago Public Media, said WBEZ radio dropped "Smiley & West," featuring Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, because it had begun to practice what Malatia called "advocacy journalism." "I am among those who believe that complete objectivity in journalism and public affairs is humanly impossible, but I reject the notion that public media should veer into advocacy," Malatia wrote Friday in an op-ed on current.org. ". . . But advocacy journalism elevates the voice of one citizen - that of the journalist - and frames the discussion with the intent of persuading the community to agree with the journalist's desired outcome, whether it has real value or not." The show has been picked up by two other Chicago stations.

Actor and TV personality Terrence Jenkins, known as Terrence J, most recently served as co-host of BET's "106 & Park" daily music countdown show but debuted on Monday in the E! News anchor desk. "What I really love about E! News is its credibility," he told R. Thomas Umstead of Multichannel News. "There are so many outlets right now that have no credibility and are offering a lot of hogwash. With E! they take their time with the story and it's a very positive show so it's not negative in the way it spins things. As a consumer of the show it's really refreshing to see stories told from a point of view like that."

Adrian Jawort, a lifelong Montana resident, freelance journalist, writer, poet and member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, argues that the term "redskins" isn't necessarily negative. "Claiming 'scalps' automatically means 'red skins' is revisionist history, to be blunt," Jawort wrote Tuesday for Indian Country Today Media Network. "It was the Native Americans who first used the term 'red' in order to differentiate between indigenous, white, and black people. When not referring to their individual and other tribes collectively, why would they use Indian, Native, or other adjectives to describe their obvious skin differences back then?"

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