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The CNN sign outside its New York City headquarters in 2002 (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The leadership of CNN's Diversity Council is changing, with Johnita P. Due, its longtime chair, stepping down and Maria Ebrahimji, its vice chair, leaving the network, a CNN spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The change at the council, coupled with criticism of CNN's diversity record since Jeff Zucker became CNN president last year, led to a report that Zucker had disbanded the group. Scott Jones, of the blog ftvlive.com reported Thursday, "EXCLUSIVE: Zucker Pulls Plug on CNN's Diversity Council."

Christal Jones, a CNN spokeswoman, said that report was incorrect. Due, who is assistant general counsel and chief diversity adviser at CNN Worldwide, is "transitioning out" of the council role, Jones said, and Ebrahimji is "leaving the network to pursue other opportunities."

The council will become "even more prominent" with a "new chief diversity council adviser," Jones said. She said Due had been in the role for eight years and decided to step down.

In 2008, Due won the Ida B. Wells Award, then bestowed by the National Association of Black Journalists, the Medill School at Northwestern University and the National Conference of Editorial Writers (now the Association of Opinion Journalists), for her diversity work.

"Under Ms. Due's charge, the Council has embarked upon many initiatives designed to make the corporate culture at CNN more inclusive and to expand the network's coverage of minority communities. Those efforts have ranged from convening a summit for senior management devoted to including more diverse guests and perspectives on air to crafting presentations and leading diversity video screenings and discussions with staff that underscore the business case for diversity and to highlight how to be more inclusive in every day coverage," the Wells jurors said at the time.

"As a result of these efforts, CNN has made great strides in diversifying its staff, including key promotions and appointments of women and people of color to executive and senior management positions. CNN's commitment to diversity of perspectives is notable in its political coverage. The network has also taken a leading role in the production of noteworthy reports on underserved populations such as its 'Uncovering America' series, which provided illuminating and provocative coverage of African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic and GLBT communities, and the groundbreaking 'Black in America' documentary series.

"According to Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, Ms. Due's leadership has been critical to the success of these initiatives. 'She has been able to work closely with and engage all levels of management and staff so that everybody feels ownership in the goals of the Diversity Council,' he wrote in nominating Ms. Due for the Wells award. . . ."

Due could not be reached for comment.

NABJ and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists have complained about the lack of diversity progress under Zucker's leadership.

In a talk before the Atlanta Press Club in April, Zucker was asked about the departure of two CNN journalists of color -- Soledad O'Brien and Roland Martin -- and whether the network was committed to diversity.

Zucker said that CNN had just hired five correspondents and four of them were "diverse," Maria Saporta wrote then for Atlanta Business Chronicle.

"Long-time television anchor Monica Pearson called out from the back of the room how many of them were black. Zucker answered that two of them were African Americans. . . ."

Zucker hired Michaela Pereira as a newsreader for his new morning show, promoted George Howell to full-time correspondent and hired Alina Machado. Howell and Pereira are black. There are no Latino anchors during prime viewing time.

Although black news anchors at the network have long complained about being relegated to weekend and off-peak duty, Don Lemon has become more visible by offering controversial opinions on CNN and on radio's syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show."

Manny Garcia, executive editor and general manager of el Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language daily in Miami, and before that a police and courts reporter, city editor and senior editor at the Miami Herald, has been named editor of the Naples (Fla.) Daily News, the newspapers announced Wednesday and Thursday.

Garcia's appointment to the Naples newspaper was one of two involving Hispanic editors announced by the E.W. Scripps Co. Thursday. Timothy E. Archuleta, a veteran Texas journalist and editor of Scripps' San Angelo Standard-Times since 2003, has been named editor of the Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times, effective Oct. 21.

"This has been an extremely difficult decision for me to make because being editor of El Nuevo Herald has been the most satisfying experience in my 23 year career at the Miami Herald Media Company," Garcia said in an El Nuevo Herald story. His last day will be Oct. 18.

Two years ago, Garcia was elected the first Hispanic president of Investigative Reporters and Editors. He had been named editor of El Nuevo Herald in 2009.

The Naples story said, "In 2011, El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald were joint Pulitzer finalists for their coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake -- a first for any Spanish-language news operation. His team recently collaborated with the Toronto Star on an international series that exposed sex tourism from Canada to Cuba, which has led to reforms in both countries.

" 'Manny Garcia is one of the nation's pre-eminent investigative journalists and newsroom leaders,' said Mizell Stewart III, vice president/content of the newspaper division of the E.W. Scripps Company, parent of the Naples Daily News. 'His passion for great storytelling, his ability to build outstanding newsroom teams and his focus on serving news consumers on multiple platforms is a great addition to Scripps.' . . . "

Scripps said in a separate announcement, "In 10 years at the Standard-Times, Archuleta, 50, led digital and print reporting efforts that won state and national accolades. In the past year, he established and supervised a new state capitol reporting position in Austin, serving all four Scripps Texas newspapers."

McClatchy Retirees Lose Health Care Benefit

"McClatchy Co. (MNI), owner of 30 daily U.S. newspapers, plans to end its health-care plan for retirees at the end of next year, joining a wave of companies reassessing their coverage as the new Affordable Care Act goes into effect," Edmund Lee reported Tuesday for Bloomberg News.

"As the company's coverage ends, retirees will have to choose between purchasing insurance from exchanges, which are being set up as part of President Barack Obama's health-care legislation, or pay a $95 tax penalty for failing to buy a health plan. . . ."

The action will affect only 51 employees, according to Dale Kasler, writing Tuesday in McClatchy's Sacramento Bee, but the Bloomberg  headline, "McClatchy to Shut Down Retirees' Health-Care Plan by End of 2014," fed into the negative perception of the Affordable Care Act trumpeted by critics. Moreover, McClatchy isn't the only business that has decided that creation of health care exchanges, which begin Oct. 1, means that company-offered retiree health plans are unnecessary.

"Sacramento-based McClatchy said the decision will affect a total of 51 employees," Kasler wrote. "Almost all of those retirees worked for the former Knight Ridder Inc. newspapers and had subsidized coverage 'grandfathered' in after McClatchy acquired Knight Ridder in 2006, said McClatchy spokesman Peter Tira.

"The vast majority of McClatchy's retirees don't get subsidized health care, the company said. . . ."

The story continued, " 'We think the health care exchange is really a better program,' said Nancy Williams, McClatchy's employee benefits director. 'You're probably going to get better coverage and a better rate.'

"Other companies that have announced recently they are ending retiree health plans and steering employees to the exchanges are Time Warner Inc. and General Electric Co."

One of the health-care law's critics is Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who delivered a 21-hour speech decrying the health-care law on the Senate floor.

Cruz wasn't done when the speech ended, Michael A. Memoli reported Wednesday for the Tribune Washington Bureau. "Within the hour, he was on Rush Limbaugh's afternoon radio talk show.

"And when Limbaugh asked if he would stay for another segment, Cruz replied: 'I'm here as long as you like.' "

Despite the attention-getting ploy, the progressive website ThinkProgress.org reported that major newspapers across the country downplayed Cruz's speech, according to a survey of front pages, "and just half of newspapers in Texas led with the junior senator's effort. . . . ," Igor Volsky wrote.

Meanwhile, responding to surveys showing confusion about the new law among the general population, many news outlets made efforts to explain the law's provisions.

"In less than a week, health insurance market exchanges will open across the nation and more than 40 million Americans, including 7 million uninsured Blacks, who were previously shut out of the health care system, will finally get access to the care they need," Freddie Allen wrote for the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, which serves the black press.

Some journalists, such as Michel Martin of NPR and Ray Suarez of the  "PBS NewsHour," referred to the law by its proper name, the Affordable Care Act, rather than by the "Obamacare" label popularized by the law's detractors, then adopted by Obama himself and by many other journalists.

The administration, in its own media offensive, released a state-by-state breakdown of the law's effects, "scoring front page stories in newspapers in Miami, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, and other cities," David Jackson reported Wednesday in USA Today.

"The report also made the front pages in Dallas and Houston, the biggest cities in Texas. That's the home state of Republican senator Ted Cruz, who waged a form of filibuster these past two days against 'Obamacare.' . . ."

As part of the outreach to journalists, the White House is hosting a membership meeting of the Washington chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists on Oct. 24. "Senior Obama Administration officials will brief us on the President’s priorities for the Latino Community including the Affordable Healthcare Act and Immigration Reform," the chapter announced.

Eugene Kiely, Lori Robertson, D'Angelo Gore and Robert Farley, FactCheck.org: Fact check: Who's telling the truth about 'Obamacare?'

Deron Lee, Columbia Journalism Review: Showdown, shutdown, fallout

Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review: Untangling Obamacare: Shopping the insurance exchanges

Jack Mirkinson, Huffington Post: Don Lemon: Republicans 'Lied' About Obamacare

"Since relinquishing control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in August 2011 and suffering other military setbacks, Al-Shabaab, an enemy of information but apparently a Twitter aficionado, has fallen back on terrorist methods, including bombings and summary executions in which journalists and other news and information providers are too often the victims.

"Reporters Without Borders has counted more than 45 journalists murdered in Somalia since 2007, with most of these killings attributed to Al-Shabaab. So far, 2012 has been the worst year, with a total of 18 journalists slain. It left Somalia as runner-up to Syria for the title of the world's deadliest country for news providers. Somalia is ranked 170th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

The press-freedom group also said, "At this time, Kenya is host to thousands of Somali refugees, including dozens of journalists in exile who have fled the dictatorial regime imposed up until 2011 by Al-Shabaab, and the dangerous situation that the militia continues to maintain in many parts of Somalia."

Meanwhile, Daily Nation, one of the biggest newspapers in Kenya, on Monday apologized to the Chinese victim of an attack on the Nairobi mall. The newspaper published a face shot photo of the Chinese victim on the front page on Sunday, "which is be seen to be disrespectful to the victim and causes discomfort to the readers," the Beijing-based Forum on China-Africa Cooperation reported.

However, the Media Council of Kenya applauded the local media overall for covering the Westgate incident in a sensitive manner, Nairobi-based Capital FM reported Tuesday. "The council's Chief Executive Officer Harun Mwangi said the media has come of age in reporting such matters, saying it had successfully rallied the nation to unity.

" 'Because of your responsible reporting, Kenyans have remained united in mourning and condemning the attack,' Mwangi said. 'This is not a common occurrence and there are challenges when it comes to reporting.' " Mwangi said the council intends to organize counseling sessions for journalists who covered the incident.

Jeremy Scahill, "Democracy, Now!" Pacifica Radio: Al-Shabab's Nairobi Mall Rampage Tied to "Disastrous" U.S. Meddling in Somalia

 

Arnold García, believed to be one of only four Latino editorial page editors at mainstream newspapers in the country and the only Hispanic holding the position in Texas, is retiring after 38 years at the Austin American-Statesman. For 22 of those years, García led the editorial pages, the paper reported over the weekend.

The others are John Diaz of the San Francisco Chronicle, Mariel Garza of the Los Angeles Daily News and Myriam Marquez of the Miami Herald. The list was slightly longer just a few years ago, but has diminished with changes of assignment.

"Those 22 years have made him the longest-serving editorial page editor among the state's metro papers," Debbie Hiott, editor of the paper, wrote on Saturday.

"It has been a distinguished tenure, and it would be difficult to overstate the impact that García, 65, has had on this paper and the community it covers.

"On these pages in recent years, García and his staff have led the campaign for affordability in Central Texas government, pushing for elected officials to be more accountable not only to their agencies but also to the taxpayers and renters who pay for the operation of those agencies. He also introduced weekly Two Views columns on local issues, which allowed more people to join the debate on the editorial pages.

"But García’s leadership at the Statesman extends far beyond the opinion section.

"His efforts to shape the quality of coverage in the paper over the past couple of decades didn't occur through news assignments, as he understands and believes in the separation between news content and opinions. But he has been an eager mentor to many reporters and editors in the newsroom.

"García has also been an honest critic regarding mistakes we've made or coverage we've missed, all in the spirit of pushing the paper to become better. I hope that continues when he's a reader and no longer an editor.

"One of a handful of Latino editorial page editors in the country, García has been at the forefront of efforts in the newsroom to try [to] make sure coverage of Austin truly reflects the diversity of the community in which we live. He was at the table for the creation of our Spanish language paper, ahora sí, and he has been involved more recently as we have discussed strategies to better reach Central Texas' fastest growing demographic, Hispanic residents. . . ."

Hiott also said, "García has given us time to search for a replacement and help with the transition."

Asked Wednesday about his plans, Garcia told Journal-isms by email, "I haven't really explored much in the way of possibilities because I didn't want to risk word getting around that I was using my present position to leverage something else. As you well know, minorities have to be acutely sensitive to anything that resembles a conflict of interest, so I just avoided discussing anything with anyone.

"Now that the word is out, I'm being just as careful because I'm staying through the transition. I've enjoyed doing this, am grateful for the opportunity to tell a few stories that otherwise would not have been told."

"I'm pleased to announce that Paul Cheung is now AP's director of interactive and digital news production," Lou Ferrara, director of interactive and digital news production at the Associated Press, wrote to AP staffers on Tuesday.

"Paul joined the AP newsroom in 2010 after roles at the Miami Herald and the Wall Street Journal. Most recently, he's been serving as the president of the Asian American Journalists Association, where [he] has received rave reviews from colleagues throughout the industry for his leadership and approach in building the organization.

"Paul has been in the interim director role at the AP for the past several months, leading the team responsible for some of the company's key products and innovation areas: interactives, data analysis and visualization, video explainers, mapping, GraphicsBank, news research, AP Overview and print graphics. The team -- which includes staff at several AP offices around the world -- also has been instrumental in the launch of the online products known as the digital news experiences, as well as parts of AP Mobile.

In this new role, Paul will oversee more of the production of those digital products . . ."

"Officials at Niagara Falls allegedly harassed and searched Abdurrahman and her family, kept them in an uncomfortably cold room, and refused even basic information about their situation. Two other families driving home from the same wedding in Toronto reported similar treatment.

"In a segment for On The Media, Abdurrahman characterized the treatment from CBP as 'dehumanizing.'

" 'It was freezing. I felt like I had goose bumps the whole time I was there,' Abdulla Darrat, Abdurrahman's husband told On The Media, of the room they were held in. 'Everybody was like putting their arms in their shirt, and there's points where my teeth were chattering.'

"The families held at the Detroit border were allegedly told by CBP to leave their phones in the car but that they would not be searched. Shortly thereafter, the officers allegedly demanded that they unlock them so that they could search their contents. . . ."

"On the Media" airs on NPR and originates at WNYC-FM in New York.

"There are racists living in America," Lori Tharps wrote Wednesday for Columbia Journalism Review. "This is not news. And yet, when Nina Davuluri, an Indian American, was crowned Miss America on September 15, it sparked a flurry of angry tweets by unhappy racists, causing several reputable news outlets to take note.

Tharps also wrote, "Twenty years ago, the word we would be using would be sensationalism.

"The decision to reprint racist tweets is an easy way to draw readers to a news outlet. BuzzFeed's Miss America 'listicle' of racist tweets generated over 5 million views and 15,000 retweets. But still, that doesn't mean any actual news was shared. In fact, an opportunity to examine bias and discrimination was lost as most news outlets simply characterized the Miss America story as an example of good, old-fashioned American racism, when in fact it highlighted a growing trend of native born vs. immigrant conflict outpacing Black vs. White racism in this country.

"Basically, because we in the United States of America still don't know how to have an intelligent conversation about race, writing about it proves to be even harder. Couple that universal discomfort with homogenous newsrooms and the likelihood of covering diversity issues with sophistication and finesse shrinks even further. . . ."

"The study, 'Resilient, Receptive and Relevant: The African-American Consumer 2013 Report,' was released at a news conference Thursday at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Weekend by Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). The findings were released by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior vice-president, public affairs and government relations for Nielsen, and Cloves Campbell, chairman of the NNPA and publisher of the Arizona Informant.

" 'Advertising expenditures geared specifically toward Black audiences reflected only three percent of advertising dollars spent,' the report stated. 'Advertisers spent $75 billion on television, radio, internet, and magazine ads in 2012, with only $2.24 billion of that spent with media focused on Black audiences. . . .' ”

"The host of CNBC's 'Squawk Box,' Joe Kernen, knew he was treading on dangerous territory during a conversation last Friday about India's currency," Bobby Caina Calvan wrote Wednesday for the Asian American Journalists Association, for which he is Media Watch chair. "Yet Mr. Kernen knowingly stepped in it when he used accented speech and ethnic stereotypes when talking about the rupee.

"The program's co-hosts, Becky Quick and Andrew Ross Sorkin, knew better. Ms. Quick even admonished Mr. Kernen, telling him to stop. Yet Kernen proceeded. He spoke with a mocking accent when referring to [Mahatma] Gandhi. He also asked, presumably of Indians, 'Are they good at 7 -Eleven?'

"Ms. Quick rightly called the comment 'insulting.'

"While we are glad Mr. Kernen has issued a statement, we at the Asian American Journalists Association joined the Indian American community and others in expressing earlier concern. . . ."

Ryan Chittum added in Columbian Journalism Review, "the coup de grâce is that Kernen's boss -- CNBC's editor in chief -- is Nik Deogun, who hails from… Kolkata.

"For once, somebody making fun of Indian immigrants has to answer to an Indian immigrant. Kernen should call him 'sir.' "

"NAHJ President Hugo Balta blasted the conservative news organization for mischaracterizing Latinos in a segment that referred to U.S. citizens with undocumented parents as 'children of the corn.'

"Chris Wallace guest-hosted the Sept. 19 edition of Fox News 'Special Report, according to Media Matters, where he covered a recent analysis by Los Angeles county that estimated undocumented parents would receive some $650 million in government benefits this year. But the segment did not clarify that the undocumented immigrants received the assistance to benefit their U.S. citizen children.

"As Wallace spoke, a graphic appeared in the upper right corner reading 'children of the corn,' the title of Stephen King horror story that has been adapted to film. It's not clear what the term meant, though presumably it refers to role of corn in the Mexican diet. . . ."

Balta wrote, "There have been many speculations as to what this meant – but one thing is certain it invoked a negative image. . . ." He added, "The economic impact of the Latino community is 55+ million strong. Many are immigrants who are pumping nearly $1 trillion dollar into the U.S. economy. . . ."

    Soledad O'Brien, former CNN anchor and now CEO of Starfish Media, appeared Tuesday at the 40/40 club in New York to kick off MSN's partnership with Interactive One. She told media people that while media companies are quick to fire an employee for racism (intentional or otherwise), "that really is not going to move the needle on the bigger picture," Mona Zhang reported for FishbowlNY. "What is needed, is diversity at the top: 'You and I both know that "promoting diversity" and actually genuinely supporting diversity are two different things.' "

"Washington Watch with Roland Martin," the TV One weekly news program that ended a four-year run in May, won a CableFAX award for "Best Show or Series -- Public Affairs" on Wednesday, finishing ahead of "The Communicators" on C-SPAN and "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" on CNN. CableFAX is one of the leading publications focusing on the cable business. Its awards honor cable's best programs and programming.

"WBUR in Boston, Northwest Public Radio in Pullman, Wash., and The Lens, a nonprofit newsroom in New Orleans, are among 10 recipients of this year's Knight Community Information Challenge grants," Dru Sefton reported Tuesday for Current.org. Sefton also wrote, "To share news reporting across communities in central Washington state, Northwest Public Radio is pairing with KDNA, a Yakima-based Spanish-language radio station, to create bilingual, multiplatform news coverage. A reporter and university students will translate content for both stations. The partners are also working to recruit a nearby Native American station to join the effort, according to the Knight Foundation. The Yakima Valley Community Foundation is matching the $100,000 grant. . . ."

"My boyfriend, Eric, is the gourmet cook in our relationship, but he'd always want me to make him a sandwich," Stephanie Smith, reporter for the New York Post's Page Six, revealed on Tuesday. "Each morning, he would ask, 'Honey, how long you have been awake?' 'About 15 minutes,' I'd reply. 'You've been up for 15 minutes and you haven't made me a sandwich?' To him, sandwiches are like kisses or hugs. Or sex. . . ."  Noah Rothman of Mediaite reported some of the negative Twitter reaction. [Smith responded on Thursday.]

Univision begins a weeklong initiative Oct. 5 that will "focus on helping to better prepare students for higher education and will include a town hall meeting, community events, phone banks, and a lineup of special education-themed programming, leveraging the Univision Network, local TV and radio, and Univision's digital properties to reach millions of U.S. Hispanics," the network said Wednesday.

"Jet magazine has teamed up with NBCUniversal's movie The Best Man Holiday to present a scholarship awarded to five deserving college students, Lilly Workneh reported Wednesday for the Grio. A Jet announcement added, "This scholarship opportunity will provide five outstanding college students with a scholarship of $1,760 for the spring 2014 school semester."

Rebecca Aguilar, freelance Texas broadcast journalist, thanked those who voted for her as "Best Latino(a) Social Network Leader," an honor bestowed by Latinos in Social Media, known as LATISM. "What I hope you take away from this blog is to take the plunge -- learn something new," Aguilar wrote on her blog. "Don't be afraid to jump out there and conquer. Don't let age, doubters, or fear of the unknown stop you." Aguilar is also vice president for online of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Carol C. Crabbe, executive director for programs of Wilson Global Communications, hit a public relations home run: She wrote a piece reporting on a conference on Africa and the media staged by her firm, and ebony.com published it nearly verbatim Wednesday in its "News & Views" section.

"Egyptian authorities have shut down the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice newspaper in Cairo," Al Jazeera reported on Wednesday. "It is the latest move aimed at crushing the Islamist movement, the Brotherhood said on Wednesday. The move [follows] Monday's decision by an Egyptian court to suspend the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood and any associations. . . . "

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