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Joshua Hornsby (screenshot from CBS News)

The first fatality identified as a casualty of the Oklahoma tornado was Ja'Nae Hornsby, 9, an African American student who was among seven people found dead Monday, drowned under the rubble at Plaza Towers Elementary School in suburban Moore, Okla.

Ja'Nae's father, Joshua Hornsby, released her name, and tearful family members told her story to reporters.

"As the tornado bore down on the suburb of Moore just before dismissal time, the father of two tried to race back home to get Ja'Nae from school and his two-year-old, Jia, from daycare, Angela Hornsby," an aunt, said.

"The highways were jammed, though, and by the time he got to Moore, the grade school had been reduced to a pile of rubble, its parking lot transformed into a triage area for surviving students being pulled from the debris.

"There was no sign of Ja'Nae, though. Her father and other relatives shuttled from shelter to shelter, 'looking for answers,' Angela Hornsby said. She dialed all the hospitals that had taken the injured but could not find her niece.

"As night fell, Joshua Hornsby went to St. Andrew's United Methodist Church, where a dwindling number of parents waiting for reunions were camped out.

" 'He would not leave until he found out what happened to his baby,' his sister said. 'They received a call while they were at the church this morning.

" 'My sister called to tell me. They were just sobbing.'

"Joshua Hornsby also lost his house to the twister. His youngest child, who was picked up from daycare by her grandmother, survived. . . ."

On Wednesday, the state medical examiner released the names of 24 people killed in the EF-5 tornado that ripped through Moore and Oklahoma City Sunday and Monday, hitting two schools head on and destroying hundreds of homes. Ten children were among the dead, KJRH-TV in Tulsa reported. Three of the 24 were identified as black, two as Hispanic and one as "other."

Those casualties included Sydnee Vargyas, seven months old, and her sister, Karrina Vargyas, 4.

"According to the Daily Mail, the girls were at home with their mother, Laurinda Vargyas, when the tornado ripped the house apart," the Huffington Post reported. "The mother managed to survive the ordeal, as did the two oldest children, Damon, 11, and Aria, 8, who were at school at the time."

Were it not for the news media, the toll might have been higher.

"While the number of fatalities has varied dramatically before appearing to settle in around two dozen on Tuesday afternoon, pinpoint warnings from the stations' meteorological crews and sobering aerial footage sent a clear message that this storm was nothing short of a monster.

" 'Channels 4 [KFOR], 5 [KOCO] and 9 [KWTV] did an outstanding job of covering this' says Vince Orza, who runs the independent KSBI . . . . 'The total could have been in the hundreds but for their coverage. The press is the reason people are alive today.' . . ."

He continued, "The storms found two Oklahoma City TV stations between news directors. KOCO is advertising for a news director and KFOR's new news director arrives next week from Tulsa. But neither lacked for leadership. . . ."

NewsOK, the Oklahoman website, saw its highest traffic ever, Fry told Journal-isms, exceeding 2½ million page views on Monday and Tuesday. Forty-five percent of Tuesday's traffic went to the photo galleries, she said, and Twitter was the top source of referrals to the site.

"Everything we've done has been a miracle. It's really been working against the odds," Kelly Dyer Fry, editor of the Oklahoman and vice president of news, told Journal-isms by telephone. The paper added four pages on Monday and Tuesday and saw a 20 percent increase in street sales despite an inability to circulate in the damaged areas. It also distributed free copies.

The national networks rushed to send anchors and top reporters, the Hollywood Reporter reported on Monday.

"As of Monday night, all three cable [news] networks were sticking with wall-to-wall coverage of the devastation in Oklahoma," the Hollywood Reporter said. (CNN later defected. "Of course CNN made sure that momentum didn't last by bailing on Oklahoma to cover Jodi Arias addressing the court pleading for her life, Inside Cable News reported on Tuesday.)

The Associated Press offered a video in which Sue Ogrocki, an Oklahoma City-based AP photographer, described rescuers pulling children from a tornado-flattened school school.

Among the television journalists of color in the area were NBC's Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Lester Holt, Ann Curry and Gabe Gutierrez, with Craig Melvin reporting for MSNBC; and ABC's Byron Pitts, Alex Perez and Cecilia Vega. Univision had Ricardo Arambarri, Viviana Ávila and Maria Elena Salinas reporting from Moore, with others reporting from Miami, Houston, New York, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Nick Valencia, a reporter for CNN in Atlanta and president of the local chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, was in Oklahoma, too.

He posted Tuesday on Facebook, "I've finally been able to grab a couple of hours of sleep after non-stop coverage of the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. My crew got on scene before some of the first responders. We heard the screams from loved ones looking for their families, saw the shock on people's faces as the walked around their neighborhood bewildered by storm that shredded their community, and smelled things I'd rather not remember. I don't think I'll ever forget this assignment. Such a tough one to cover. Pray for Oklahoma."

The Indian Country Today Media Network reported on Oklahoma's Indian tribes. "The Citizen Potawatomi Nation, whose tribal complex is located in the Shawnee area, was one tribal jurisdiction affected," according to a story by Brian Daffron.

"The nation's police department was assisting with rescue efforts, and the nation's emergency management department provided food and water to first responders, according to a press release on the tribe’s website." Daffron added, "Other tribes in Oklahoma have been pulling their resources together to help, even if the tornadoes did not touch down within their tribal jurisdiction. . . ."

Lynn Hoppes, senior director/entertainment at ESPN, former newspaper sports editor and former president of Associated Press Sports Editors, is out of a job, according to the Deadspin website, one of his critics.

"ESPN's Dancing with the Stars correspondent Lynn Hoppes -- a man who drooled over swag, recruited a scam artist, plagiarized Wikipedia, and stole my girlfriend -- has been laid off, three sources have confirmed," Deadspin posted on Wednesday. "ESPN is also shutting down Playbook, Hoppes's home for the past year. . . ."

Josh Krulewitz, spokesman for ESPN, said the network would have no comment on the report. ESPN announced Tuesday it would implement an unspecified number of layoffs.

Last year, Hoppes was scolded for "journalistic laziness" after Deadspin found that he had been "shall we say, over-reliant on Wikipedia as a research tool," as Deadspin put it.

Krulewitz told Journal-isms at the time, "This obviously fell short of our editorial standards. Even though he used multiple legitimate news sources to gather background information, we should always recite even the most basic facts in an original voice, and source as warranted. That wasn't the case here. It was an example of journalistic laziness, and we've addressed it."

Hoppes has been sports editor at the Orlando Sentinel and a radio host at Clear Channel Communications. In 2008, he became the second person of color to become president of Associated Press Sports Editors. His LinkedIn profile lists him as "In charge of entertainment, video games, music, style/fashion and humor for ESPN.com. In charge of all serious commentary on ESPN.com."

Hoppes, who is Asian American, also made news last year during a spike in interest in NBA phenom Jeremy Lin.

In a column for ESPN headlined, "Stop the Linsanity insanity," Hoppes wrote of Lin, "Please don't automatically assume that every Asian-American is rooting for him to become a star and help the Knicks make the playoffs.

" 'If you're asking me whether the president believes that journalists should be prosecuted for doing their jobs, the answer is no,' Carney said in his daily briefing. . . "

They added, "The news comes a day after Carney had refused to answer questions about a Justice Department leak investigation into the newsgathering activities of a Fox News reporter.

"Carney told reporters Tuesday that he spoke to the president after that briefing about the controversy over the case involving the network’s chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, and a former State Department arms expert, Stephen Kim. . . ."

Pincus added, "As journalists and politicians focus on what they say are too-broad subpoenas for records of 21 phone lines for AP offices and individuals, what's lost is the damaging and criminal leak.

"Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s initial comment to reporters last Tuesday that "it is within the top two or three most serious leaks that I've ever seen" has been rejected. Journalists have heard that over the years.

"This is different.

"The AP was working on a story where lives really could be at risk. Also at risk were the relationships between U.S., Saudi and British intelligence. . . ."

Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: The political truce is over.

Mariah Blake, Columbia Journalism Review: True the Coverage

Editorial, Denver Post: Muzzling a free press

Rick Horowitz, YouTube: Ridiculous Nixon Comparison-gate

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Is Obama Richard Nixon?

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Obama administration mistakes journalism for espionage

Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: Maybe some good things will come from all the "scandals"

Commentators continued to debate the weekend commencement addresses by President Obama at Morehouse College and first lady Michelle Obama at Bowie State University in Maryland, historically black institutions where the Obamas spoke about issues of personal responsibility.

Some agreed with the first couple, others called it unwarranted "scolding" not delivered to nonblack audiences.

James Braxton Peterson, director of Africana Studies and associate professor of English at Lehigh University, wrote for the Grio, "Whether you love them or hate them, Mr. and Mrs. Obama’s speeches at HBCU’s this year certainly suggest that a longer, more sustained dialogue between the Obamas and black America is a few years overdue. . . . "

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Obama can't win with some black critics

Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe: Obamas' message not just for black students

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Obamas stress blacks' need for education

Roland Martin on "Tom Joyner Morning Show": Morehouse Grad Leland Shelton On President Obama’s Shout-Out (audio)

 

Clifton Brown, laid off in March from the Sporting News, where he covered the NFL, has been hired by Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, "the region's leading source of multiplatform sports coverage," to lead coverage of the Baltimore Ravens for the network's digital media platforms, Comcast announced on Wednesday.

The release continued, "Brown joins Comcast SportsNet after covering the NFL for the Sporting News for more than five years. Prior to that, he spent 19 years at the New York Times from 1988 to 2007, most recently as an NFL writer. During his tenure at the Times, he also served as the national golf writer, national NBA writer and as a beat reporter covering the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets. He also spent five years in the sports department at the Detroit Free Press, including time as beat reporter for the Detroit Pistons, after starting his career with the Boca Raton News. . . ."

"But now some people Garcia probably doesn't want weighing in are commenting. TaylorMade-Adidas released the following press release about Garcia's comments today via email:

" 'Sergio Garcia's recent comment was offensive and in no way aligns with TaylorMade-Adidas Golf's values and corporate culture. We have spoken with Sergio directly and he clearly has regret for his statement and we believe he is sincere. We discussed with Sergio that his comments are clearly out of bounds and we are continuing to review the matter. . . ."

As Bob Harig reported for ESPN.com, "Garcia jokingly answered a question at a European Tour players dinner Tuesday night about getting together with Woods at the U.S. Open by saying, 'We'll have him 'round every night. We will serve fried chicken.'

Harig also wrote, "Saying he had difficulty sleeping and contemplated withdrawing from this week's European Tour event, Garcia apologized for the comments, calling them 'totally stupid and out of place.' "

Not everyone was as upset as TaylorMade-Adidas, whose displeasure could cost Garcia sponsorship income. On ESPN's "SportsCenter," commentator Michael Smith, a black journalist, said he laughed when he heard Garcia's comment. "This didn't offend me," Smith said. "I'm comfortable with my relationship with chicken. Everybody loves chicken. I would have said, 'this just shows the lack of imagination.' " "Fried chicken" is obsolete as an insult, Smith argued. In fact, "I'm still trying to find the nearest Popeye's."

Farrell Evans, another African American ESPN commentator, agreed that "everybody loves fried chicken," recalling that "a Korean friend in the East Village serves up some of the best Korean fried chicken in Manhattan. On the weekends, it's hard to wrestle a table from young Koreans who wash down big helpings of delightfully seasoned wings and legs with Asian beer. . . ."

Others, however, agreed that the comment was racist in its attempt to stereotype.

Jemele Hill, ESPN.com: Change golf's climate

Allen Johnson, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.: Tiger and fried chicken and lessons not learned

Jason Whitlock, foxsports.com: Tiger, Sergio are both chicken

"Those predictions turned out to be wrong. This supposed epidemic -- one television reporter talks of a 500 percent increase in damaged babies -- was kicked off by a study of just 23 infants that the lead researcher now says was blown out of proportion. And the shocking symptoms -- like tremors and low birth weight -- are not particular to cocaine-exposed babies, pediatric researchers say; they can be seen in many premature newborns. [video].

"The worrisome extrapolations made by researchers -- including the one who first published disturbing findings about prenatal cocaine use -- were only part of the problem. Major newspapers and magazines, including Rolling Stone, Newsweek, The Washington Post and The New York Times, ran articles and columns that went beyond the research. Network TV stars of that era, including Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather, also bear responsibility for broadcasting uncritical reports.

"A much more serious problem, it turns out, is infants who are born with fetal alcohol syndrome. . . ."

Winerip said the report was the third in a weekly series that will re-examine the leading stories of decades past.

"Felix Hoover dabbled in jobs far afield from reporting, but he always returned to what he loved: journalism," Kathy Lynn Gray reported Wednesday for the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch.

"The retired longtime Dispatch reporter died yesterday of cancer at the age of 63. . . ."

"He was very passionate about black journalists and our role as storytellers and record keepers in our communities," Williams said by email. "He was also a mentor to younger black journalists. At the 2002 NABJ conference in Milwaukee he overheard me and another brother complaining about all of the media outlets present at the conference but they were saying they were only taking resumes and didn't have any open positions because the economy was kind of bad after Sept. 11.

"Felix tried to console us and he asked me if I wanted him to take my clips and resume back to his newspaper. He took my portfolio back to Columbus, Ohio with him in August and I started working at the paper in May. The newspaper didn't have a booth at the conference but Felix was always looking out for us, professionally and personally.

"During the chapter 20th anniversary gala I (as the chapter president at the time) presented him with a special award. He wrote a story about the event. While reading this you can really sense his passion for the journalism profession and black journalists.

"He recently reached out to me and others who've left the city to invite us back for the chapter's 25th anniversary celebration. "

The Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly the National Conference of Editorial Writers, annually grants a Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship -- actually an award -- "in recognition of an educator's outstanding efforts to encourage minority students in the field of journalism." The educator should be at the college level.

Nominations, now being accepted for the 2013 award, should consist of a statement about why you believe your nominee is deserving.

The final selection will be made by the AOJ Foundation board and announced in time for the Oct. 13-15 convention in Newport, R.I., where the presentation will be made.

Since 2000, the recipient has been awarded an honorarium of $1,000 to be used to "further work in progress or begin a new project."

Past winners include James Hawkins, Florida A&M University (1990); Larry Kaggwa, Howard University (1992); Ben Holman, University of Maryland (1996); Linda Jones, Roosevelt University, Chicago (1998); Ramon Chavez, University of Colorado, Boulder (1999); Erna Smith, San Francisco State (2000); Joseph Selden, Penn State (2001); Cheryl Smith, Paul Quinn College (2002); Rose Richard, Marquette University (2003); Leara D. Rhodes, University of Georgia (2004); Denny McAuliffe, University of Montana (2005); Pearl Stewart, Black College Wire (2006); Valerie White, Florida A&M University (2007); Phillip Dixon, Howard University (2008); Bruce DePyssler, North Carolina Central University (2009); Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia University (2010); Yvonne Latty, New York University (2011); and Michelle Johnson, Boston University (2012).

Nominations may be emailed to Richard Prince, AOJ Diversity Committee chair, richardprince (at) hotmail.com. The deadline is May 24.

"The International Press Institute (IPI) announced today that award-winning Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab and Miami Herald World Editor John Yearwood were elected to the IPI Executive Board during IPI's 62nd General Assembly, held on Monday in Amman, Jordan," Scott Griffen reported Wednesday for the institute. "Yearwood was also elected as an IPI Vice-Chair, replacing Simon Li, former assistant managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, who retired from the board after two terms as vice-chair. In recognition of his dedication to press freedom, Li was named a lifetime member of IPI. . . ."

"In the wake of several recent deadly factory disasters that killed more than 1,200 workers, the phrase 'Made in Bangladesh' is now rightly associated with dangerous, unsafe workplaces, miserable below-poverty wages, and the absence of basic workers rights," Peter Dreier and Richard Appelbaum wrote for the Huffington Post. "Much of the credit for raising public awareness of these inhumane conditions -- and of holding global apparel companies like Wal-mart, Disney, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Sears, and H&M accountable for their supply practices -- goes to the New York Times, which has done a remarkable, steady job of reporting from both the front lines and the corporate suites where decisions about what American consumers buy can come at the price of human lives in far-off Bangladesh. . . ."

A Kansas City charter school named after famed photojournalist Gordon Parks Jr. was saved Tuesday when a judge granted an injunction against the state's order that the school shut down Wednesday, columnist Mary Sanchez wrote in the Kansas City Star. "Anyone who still naively believes that charter schools will easily rectify all that ails urban public education should study the history of Gordon Parks," Sanchez observed.

"A television news van was broken into Tuesday afternoon near Jack London Square, police said," Harry Harris reported Tuesday for the Oakland Tribune. Harris added, "Numerous television and newspaper reporters, photographers and camera people have had equipment stolen from them over the last year, and few arrests have been made in the crimes. . . ."

"Fusion, the upcoming cable news channel from ABC News and Univision, is adding HuffPost Live host Alicia Menendez to its lineup, TVNewser has learned," Alex Weprin reported Monday for TVNewser. "Menendez is joining Fusion as an anchor based in Miami, and will host her own show on the channel when it launches later this year. . . ." Menendez is the daughter of Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

A petition signed by more than a dozen experts on Latin America and the media and sent last week to Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, urges Sullivan to compare the Times' negative characterizations of the leadership of the late Hugo Chávez in Venezuela with those of Roberto Micheletti and Porfirio Lobo in Honduras.

C-SPAN recorded the two new African American U.S. senators, William "Mo" Cowan, D-Mass., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., joking Wednesday about being members of the "Senatorial Black Caucus." (video)

Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, announced the acquisition Wednesday of a memoir by "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts. "In her new memoir, Roberts will tell the amazing story of her courageous battle against a life-threatening illness, the life lessons she continues to learn, and her inspiring return to the GMA anchor desk," a news release said.

With "Jeopardy!'s" Alex Trebek retiring from the National Geographic Bee this year, Soledad O'Brien, a CNN special correspondent, will step into Trebek's shoes starting in 2014, National Geographic announced Wednesday. "Held each year in Washington, D.C., the annual spelling bee-like competition was founded in 1989 in response to the perceived lack of geographic knowledge among children in the U.S. . . ."

"Ginger Gadsden, morning and noon anchor at St. Petersburg CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10, will be leaving the station when her contract expires on June 30," Eric Deggans reported Tuesday for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times. He added, "After seven years of waking up at 2 a.m., Gadsden explained, she decided it was time to leave the morning shift. But WTSP, which placed former Miami anchor Charles Billi alongside longtime anchors Heather Van Nest and Reginald Roundtree in the station’s evening newscasts, declined to move her to a later schedule. . . ."

"The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and JournalismNext.com have announced that they are working together to offer convention-goers this summer a resume database that should help both job-seekers and organizations looking to fill jobs, the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism reported. The center added, "If participants submit resumes to the database before the event, employers can access it before, during and after the convention."

The Dow Jones News Fund will train and send 120 undergraduate and graduate students to work this summer as business reporters, digital journalists, news editors and sports copy editors on prestigious, paid internships at the nation's leading news organizations, the fund announced on Monday. "That is an increase of 36 internships, or 43%, from summer 2012 and is the largest class since 131 interns in 2000. Most of the expansion resulted from a decision by Patch.com, the hyper-local digital news organization, to have the Fund train 40 interns, up from four in 2012 and 2011, at the digital journalism residency at Western Kentucky University. . . ."

Michael Koma, managing editor of South Sudan's daily Juba Monitor, told Tom Rhodes of the Committee to Protect Journalists, "The government officials do not tolerate 'negative press' -- as they called it. They don't give specific reasons for harassing the media, but any press that does not praise the government's assumedly positive reputation is shunned. I am expecting dark days ahead. . . ."

CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California Tuesday announced the winners of its 14th Ruben Salazar Journalism Awards. Hannah Dreier, then of the Bay Area News Group, won in the print category for her series "Philosophical Debate, Life and Death Consequences," "about an immigrant living in the U.S. illegally seeking a kidney transplant and the ensuing debate over the moral, political and financial obligations of the procedure." In the TV category, "reporter/producer María Leticia Gómez and photographer/editor Edward González of KDTV-TV in San Francisco won for their series 'Farmworker Shortage,' which provided a behind-the-scenes look into the Napa Valley wine industry and the struggles of immigrants in the U.S. illegally whose labor allows the industry to thrive."

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

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