armstrong_williamsjournalisms073013575jd
Armstrong Williams (armstrongwilliams.com)

Commentator and entrepreneur Armstrong Williams said Monday that there is "no doubt" that he plans to buy WMMP-TV in Charleston, S.C., his home state, from Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. Allbritton Communications announced Monday it has agreed to sell its seven television stations to Sinclair for $985 million.

Williams' good relations with Sinclair are paying off. In February, Williams and Sinclair announced that Sinclair would sell two other television stations to Williams' company, Howard Stirk Holdings. Those deals are making their way through the government approval process, Williams said.

David D. Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair, told Journal-isms in February that he and Williams had long worked together and that Sinclair was looking to expand its relationship with him. "I've always admired his ability to stick his neck out there and call people . . . for what they're doing. We're big believers in advocacy journalism, and he fits that mode. He was the first one I called" when the ownership possibility arose, Smith said.

Smith told Journal-isms by telephone on Tuesday, "Nothing's changed in that regard," but said he could not discuss specific transactions. Asked whether Williams remained "the first one I called" when the new deal arose, Smith said, "Yes."

Williams, who is African American, is securing a toehold where few other blacks are. African American television station ownership dropped from 12 stations in 2009 to 10 in 2011, or less than 1 percent of the nation's 1,348 full-power television stations, the Federal Communications Commission said in November.

The nearly billion-dollar deal announced Monday "is the latest in a series of big media acquisitions to pounce on the increasing value of broadcast television properties," Thomas Heath and Debbi Wilgoren reported for the Washington Post.

They added, "The Tribune Co. this month agreed to purchase 19 stations from Local TV Holdings for $2.7 billion. In June, Gannett agreed to purchase 20 stations from Belo as part of a $2.2 billion deal.

"Allbritton Communications is a family-owned business that initially focused on real estate and banking and later expanded to include ABC affiliates in the Washington metropolitan area; Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va.; Harrisburg, Pa; Little Rock; Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/Anniston, Ala.; Tulsa; and Charleston, S.C.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Smith made clear that Allbritton's holdings in Washington were the prime attraction. He said he planned to take its local cable channel national. "Being in Washington, D.C., and having 24-hour access to all politicians at all levels is a huge opportunity for us to capitalize on," he said.

"Everyone in the bidding for Allbritton -- and the group was attractive to a lot of broadcasters -- was willing to pay some sort of Washington premium, a bit extra for the influence and prestige (not to mention lots of nonstop political spending) of owning a station in the DC DMA," Mike Malone wrote Monday for Broadcasting & Cable. "(WJLA is more than just a DC station -- it's a strong No. 2 behind WRC in DMA No. 8.)

"Headquartered in Baltimore, Sinclair CEO David Smith alluded to the allure of a DC station in today's announcement. 'To buy a full-blown news operation in our nation's capital and an infrastructure that allows us to be connected to our branches of government and be at the pulse of national issues is a once-in-a lifetime event,' he said.

"Smith continued to note that Sinclair is 'especially excited' to acquire the NewsChannel 8 cable channel, also in Washington. Smith called it 'the perfect platform should we decide to expand it into other markets.'

"Not included in the deal: Allbritton's Politico website and newspaper.

"Sinclair's conservative leanings have been painstakingly divulged and dissected in the media, and the thought of the rapidly growing super-group having a soap box and bullhorn in our nation's capital is sure to give the media watchdog groups a serious case of agita."

In addition to WMMP-TV, Williams said he might want to buy WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Pa., another Sinclair station.

Sinclair is acquiring Allbritton stations in Charleston, Harrisburg and Birmingham, Ala., markets where Sinclair already owns stations. It plans to divest itself of one station in each of those markets to comply with FCC ownership rules.

The mergers are having an effect on newsrooms. The Radio Television Digital News Association reported this month, "We're now losing TV newsrooms at the fairly steady rate of eight per year," as "quite a few TV newsrooms have been subsumed in some sort of consolidation or shared services agreement." Advocates of consolidation say they are necessary to keep the companies in business.

Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, an advocacy group opposed to media consolidation, said in a statement Monday, "The rapid expansion of Sinclair Broadcast Group -- which is poised to double the number of stations it controls nationwide -- is unwelcome news for local TV viewers. The company's cookie-cutter approach to local news and repeated use of the airwaves to push a partisan agenda are well known. And the idea that one company should be allowed to control so many stations in so many markets is simply outrageous. What will it take for the FCC to wake up? . . ." [Updated July 30]

"The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds virtually no change in the percentage of minorities in TV news from a year ago; radio numbers are down overall, Bob Papper reported Monday for the Radio Television Digital News Association. "The percentage of minority news directors went up in radio but down a bit in TV. The percentage of minority news directors at non-Hispanic TV stations fell back from last year's record high -- but it's still the second highest level ever.

"Women overall in TV news rose back over the 40% mark, but women TV news directors pulled back from last year's record high. In radio, women and women news directors edged up slightly.

"As far as minorities are concerned, the bigger picture remains unchanged. In the last 23 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 10.7 points; but the minority workforce in TV news is up 3.6, and the minority workforce in radio is up 0.1. . . . "

Papper continued: "The minority percentage at non-Hispanic stations fell to 19.4% from last year's 19.7%. It was 19.1% two years ago; 19.3% three years ago; and 19.6% the year before that. Largely unchanged overall in the last five years.

"At non-Hispanic stations, the minority breakdown is:

"10.2% African American (down from 10.5%)

"5.5% Hispanic (down from 5.7%)

"3.3% Asian American (up from 3.0%)

"0.4% Native American (down from last year's 0.5%)"

The RTDNA/Hofstra survey measures diversity at local television stations but not at networks.

"Numerous networks have hosted specials and roundtables tackling the issue of race. But not a single network has had the courage to turn their cameras onto themselves.

"It's really easy for members of the media to question race in America. But for some reason, they get shy when it comes to what is happening in their own buildings. . . ."

"CNN's Don Lemon tonight addressed the controversy raised by his remarks on Saturday in which he voiced his agreement with Bill O’Reilly's comments on the black community," Josh Feldman reported Sunday for Mediaite. "Lemon convened another panel to address all the criticism he's got, including charges that he's being an 'Uncle Tom.' His panelists agreed with him that Lemon wasn't being condescending, he was just giving some much-needed 'tough love' to the African American community.

"LZ Granderson told Lemon how he had to explain . . . to his own son why he shouldn't go out wearing saggy pants in public, saying that young black [men] can still express themselves creatively without linking themselves to that history.

"Lemon directly took on the critics of his remarks Saturday.

' 'What is wrong with telling people to dress appropriately? These are things that I said yesterday that my mom taught me in kindergarten… Dress nicely, speak well, speak appropriately.' "

Lemon's comments echoed those of Bill Cosby in 2004, when Cosby, while being honored in Washington by the NAACP, blamed parental failures for high dropout rates, teen pregnancy, foul-mouthed behavior and a lack of respect within the black community.

Cosby received a large backlash then for painting with a broad brush and ignoring the larger societal factors at work, thus "blaming the victim." The comedian, actor, activist and philanthropist amended his comments.

Lemon seemed not to have learned from Cosby's experience. He took additional heat for aligning himself with O'Reilly and framing his comments in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin case, leaving the inference that the unarmed teenager's behavior was to blame for his shooting death by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.

Helena Andrews, the Root: Start With the Man in the Mirror, Don Lemon (July 30)

Tommy Christopher, Mediaite: Tweetnado: MSNBC's Goldie Taylor Calls Don Lemon A 'Turn Coat Mofo'

Katherine Fung, Huffington Post: Don Lemon: Bill O'Reilly's 'Got A Point' About Black People (VIDEO)

Erik Wemple, Washington Post: MSNBC’s Touré: O’Reilly is an 'idiot'

"When Hollywood tackles race directly, it’s usually by way of uplifting allegories like 'Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,' 'Crash' and 'The Help,' each of which, in its own way, perpetuates the consoling idea that eradicating racism is simply a matter of purging our negative prejudices," Ann Hornaday, chief film critic for the Washington Post, wrote Sunday in the Post's Outlook section.

"Rarely do films ask audiences to grapple with the deeply embedded, race-based habits that give white Americans an edge in everything from housing to employment, or the positive racial profiling that grants white people countless free passes.

"Indeed, far from being confronted with the pernicious legacies of official discrimination, white audiences tend to have their assumptions about race reinforced. Black people are far more likely to go see movies with majority-white casts than vice versa. And whereas movies about African Americans have tended to be confined to comedies and urban dramas, the white experience has long been represented across a diverse range of genres, stories and characters.

"That worldview conditions not only the stories we see but the ones we tell ourselves. . . ."

Hornaday pegged her unusual essay on white privilege to the new film "Fruitvale Station," about the shooting death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed, 22-year-old black man, by a Bay Area Rapid Transit policeman. The movie cracked the top 10 box office list over the weekend, coming in at No. 10.

"I wrote it because these are concerns I've had for a very long time," Hornaday told Journal-isms Monday by email. "We seem to be caught up in a cycle wherein our 'national conversation' about race centers around injuries or injustices perpetrated against African Americans, and having black leaders then coming out to 'explain' -- yet again -- why the African American community is upset, and the persistence of racism even in the era of Obama. I've long been bothered that the white privilege part of that equation is never mentioned or explored. The scene in 'Fruitvale Station,' I thought, offered the perfect opening.

"The Outlook editors were supportive, if a bit skeptical at first. I basically did the essay on spec, the agreement being that if I didn't manage to thread the needle, they wouldn't run the piece. Luckily, it worked!"

Esther Armah, HuffPost BlackVoices: The Other National Conversation? White Privilege

Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: The real race hustlers.

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Standing Our Ground

Editorial, Oakland Tribune: We must learn from Oscar Grant's death (July 2010)

Rhonda Graham, News Journal, Wilmington, Del.: White House speechifying can't erase the sting (July 20)

Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe: Soul searching on race? Hardly

Eugene Kane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Colorblind in America? Not yet

Starla Muhammad, Final Call: Race talk or pointless dialogue?

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: We still need to talk about race

Ishmael Reed, Wall Street Journal: Confessions of a Neighborhood Watch Captain

Oliver J. Semans, Indian Country Today Media Network: Trayvon Martin, Stand-Your-Ground Cowards and Border-Town Murders

Jesse Washington, Associated Press: Black male humanity shown in 'Fruitvale'

"Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs' upstart cable network Revolt TV has hired former ESPN executive Keith Clinkscales as its CEO, officials announced Friday during the Television Critics Association summer press tour," R. Thomas Umstead reported from Beverly Hills, Calif., for Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.

"Clinkscales, formerly senior VP of ESPN Enterprises and head of content development for the sports network, oversees Revolt, which will feature music-themed content targeted to urban millennials.

"Revolt TV, one of the new minority-owned networks selected for broad distribution by Comcast as part of the FCC's conditions for the [multiple-system operator's] acquisition of NBCUniversal, is expected to launch in October with 25 million households. The network already has distribution deals with Comcast Cable and Time Warner Cable.

"Combs told an assembled group of TV critics during a Revolt TV breakfast event here that said he wanted to initially buy an existing Comcast channel, but settled to launch his own service. He says the network will target millennials that don't have an outlet for music news and entertainment on cable."

Clinkscales said the channel expected to have a strong journalism component, aiming to snare kids surfing YouTube for music videos, Eric Deggans reported for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times. "We'll talk about music the way SportsCenter talks about sports," Clinkscales added.

Clinkscales launched the digital sports platform "the Shadow League" last summer. "Shadow league continues to grow," he told Journal-isms by email.

" 'For everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,' King said last week in an interview with Newsmax.

"King was also taken to task in the Spanish-language press. In an op-ed titled 'The Irrationality of Racism,' columnist Humberto Caspa writes that Republicans like King aren't doing their party any favors. 'Because lawmakers in the House tend to be more partisan than the Senate, immigration reform is in limbo. Which is to say, it has been kidnapped by representatives such as King, who prioritize the radical partisan interests of their constituents over the whole of their political party. If immigration reform, which passed in the Senate, does not get a green light in the House, Republicans' domain over states that are considered undecided will suffer irreparable consequences.

" 'Moreover, a majority of the American people and especially the media won't just blame Republican representatives for the failure of law; they will also criticize them for handholding racists such as King. . . .' "

Kitcki Carroll, Indian Country Today Media Network: True Immigration Reform Must Tell Truth of First Occupants of This Land

Stanley Crouch, Daily News, New York: Money still makes the GOP go round

Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Same-sex, Conservative Agendas Now in Power

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Time to rein Rep. King in

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: GOP obstruction as the new normal in Washington

Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: The long-term costs of a student loan

Solange Uwimana, Media Matters for America: REPORT: Fox News Covers Up Steve King's Anti-Immigrant Remarks

"In a major shakeup for the radio industry, Cumulus Media, the second-biggest broadcaster in the country, is planning to drop both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from its stations at the end of the year, an industry source told POLITICO on Sunday," Dylan Byers reported for Politico.

In Southern California, KNBC-TV's Lolita Lopez told viewers Thursday why she chose to tell her 9-year-old daughter about her stage two A invasive breast cancer, and how her family is fighting the battle together, Lopez, Mary Harris and Stephanie Barnes reported for KNBC.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Geraldo Rivera wrote Friday in his Fox News Latino column, explaining how he came to tweet -- and regret transmitting -- a "selfie" of his bare torso. "At that moment, I was a like a geriatric male version of the wicked queen in Snow White who keeps asking her mirror, 'Who is the fairest of them all?' . . . " Rivera wrote.

The board of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists selected David Gonzalez and Gilbert Bailón as its 2013 NAHJ Hall of Fame inductees, Rebecca Aguilar, NAHJ's vice president for online, announced Thursday. "Gonzalez has worked at The New York Times since 1990. Among the titles he’s held are: About New York Columnist, Bronx Bureau Chief, Metro Religion Reporter, Central America/Caribbean Bureau chief, and Citywide Columnist," the announcement said. "Bailón is currently the Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He joined the newspaper in 2007 as Editorial Page Editor and was promoted to Editor in 2012. He previously worked at The Dallas Morning News, where he was the vice president and executive editor. He also held several managerial positions at the DMN. . . ."

"Juan González, sixty-five, a columnist for the New York Daily News, zooms up the Avenue of the Americas in his brown Subaru hatchback toward Rockefeller Center," begins a profile of González by Paul Hond in Columbia, a Columbia University magazine. "He just wrapped a broadcast of Democracy Now!, the independent news program that he's co-hosted with journalist Amy Goodman since 1996. Today's show ran long with a segment on the Obama administration's crackdown on whistleblowers, and the columnist had to rush out. It's ten in the morning, and González is staring down the barrel of 3:00 p.m. . . ."

"CNN's new morning show "New Day" is still, by all accounts, a work in progress, both in terms of content and in ratings," Alex Weprin reported Thursday for TVNewser. He added, "With the [George] Zimmerman trial over, the viewers that had been watching cable news have largely tuned out, and CNN has felt that moreso than Fox News or MSNBC. For 'New Day,' it also meant the program hit a series low in both total and demo viewers Wednesday. . . ."

"The University of Maryland has announced the creation of an annual award that will be given to a sports journalist or broadcaster who has made 'significant contributions to racial and gender equality in sports,' " the Associated Press reported Monday. "The Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith Award will be chosen by an eight-person panel and presented in conjunction with the Shirley Povich Symposium. Lacy and Smith were prominent African-American journalists who are credited with pushing Major League Baseball owners to integrate and wrote extensively about Jackie Robinson's career. . . ."

"As civil rights leaders prepare to return to the nation's capital 50 years after the March on Washington, a panel of scholars and journalists gathered at the Newseum Institute [Monday] to assess how the news media covered the historic 1963 event," Jamal Watson wrote Monday for Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. This columnist was among the panelists, along with journalist Frank Bond and academics Dr. Kirt Wilson, Dr. Catherine Squires and Dr. Carole Blair. Retired journalist Roger Mudd, who covered the march for CBS, was in the audience and Gene Policinski, chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute, moderated. C-SPAN recorded the discussion for later showing on its American History TV channel.

Bloomberg TV markets reporter Dominic Chu is jumping to CNBC, Alex Weprin reported Friday for TVNewser. Chu will become a markets reporter for CNBC, starting Aug. 12. "With his background as a Wall Street trader and investor, in addition to his journalism experience, Dominic will be able to offer CNBC's sophisticated audience a unique perspective on the markets," Nik Deogun, CNBC senior VP and business news editor in chief, wrote in an email to the staff. 

"Tamron Hall, the MSNBC host and NBC News correspondent -- and former morning show co-anchor of Fox 32 News in Chicago -- will host 'Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall,' a new weekly crime investigation series for Discovery’s ID (Investigation Discovery) network," Bill Zwecker reported Thursday for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Niraj Chokshi, most recently a policy reporter for National Journal, where he covered immigration, the fiscal cliff and the transportation bill, is joining the Washington Post as it launches "GovBeat," an online section designed to be a place for local and state government officials to learn more about how federal policy affects the states. GovBeat launches in mid-August and will be led by Reid Wilson, who joins the Post from National Journal, the Post said. "My parents are both Indian (though I was born in western Massachusetts)," Chokshi, previously a morning editor in charge of NationalJournal.com, told Journal-isms.

"Sunday public affairs show Conexion has replaced Voz y Voto on the Univision Television Group stations across California, Arizona and Texas," Michael Malone reported Friday for Broadcasting & Cable. "The program, which features 'local political topics as well as relevant, fast-paced, hard-hitting news of interest to local communities in the Southwest region of the U.S.,' according to Univision, typically airs before the network's Al Punto program.. . ."

"The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today condemned the closure of two news organisations in Gaza, stating that the right to freedom of expression must be upheld," the organization said Friday. "According to media reports, the Ma'an news agency and Al-Arabiya TV bureaus in Gaza were closed yesterday, Thursday 25 July, by the Hamas attorney general, with a Hamas official stating that Al-Aribiya's office had been closed 'for distributing false news regarding the smear campaign against Hamas and Gaza about what's happening in Egypt.' . . . "

Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye was released July 23 by Yemeni President Adb Rabbuh Mansur Hadi after serving three years of a five-year prison sentence, the International Federation of Journalists reported Wednesday. He had been pardoned by former Yemeni president Ali Adballah Saleh, but was being kept behind bars at the behest of the U.S. administration for alleged links with al Qaida.

"Reporters Without Borders condemns American independent documentary filmmaker Taylor Krauss' detention by the Ugandan authorities for the past three days," the press freedom organization said Friday. "Krauss, who is doing research for a potential documentary about the Ugandan political opposition, was seized by police officers in central Kampala on 23 July while filming an opposition rally and the arrest of its leader, Warren Kizza Besigye Kifefe, also known as Kizza Besigye. Krauss was then taken to Jinja Road police station, where he is still held. . . ."

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