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"We heard no reaction from readers. Not a peep.


"On Nov. 17, the newspaper published a second front-page story about the suspects and their criminal histories. This time, we were barraged with feedback. Some of the words used to describe the report: irresponsible, distasteful, racist.

"The difference? The second story included the mugshots of all 32 suspects. And the photos highlighted something: All 32 suspects are black men.

"See their faces all in one grouping and you can't ignore that. You can't just shrug it off.

"It was an in-your-face presentation, and some readers thought it was a mistake, that we should not have published the mugshots at all. Even some in the newsroom disagreed with the decision to run them — or thought we should have placed them on an inside page where they wouldn't be as noticeable and would be seen by fewer people.


"Many argued with the choice to refer to the men as the 'worst of the worst,' even though those words were chosen by Dodd, a man who's been in law enforcement for a quarter of a century.

"The combination of those two things — the photos of 32 faces and the label 'worst of the worst' — prompted a visceral reaction.


"Some of the people who complained didn't read the story, which was balanced and actually asked why the 'worst of the worst' were only black. . . ."


Gerber was apparently unaware of lessons learned at the Philadelphia Daily News when it published a similar front page in 2002. That front page pictured 18 police mug shots of fugitives wanted for murder by Philadelphia police. All were either African American, Hispanic or Asian.

It did not matter what the story said.


Attorney Sharif Street, eldest son of then-Philadelphia Mayor John Street, said then that the portrayal would make life tougher for every young African American male in Philadelphia.

"I'm not so much focused on the text of the story but more on the imagery of the front cover," said Street, who was 28. "It damages the quality of life for the average male my age because it portrays us as the enemy of society."

Ellen Foley, managing editor at the time, apologized to the people of Philadelphia. Protesting the front page, the Coalition for Fair News Coverage emerged, "an organization made up of more than 100 African-American church, community, civic, civil rights and business organizations, all with a simple message for black readers of the Daily News: Don't buy it; don't read it," Kia Gregory and Jonathan Valania reported in 2003 for Philadelphia Weekly.


"Eight days after the publication of the 'FUGITIVE' issue, which brought the Daily News countless letters and phone calls — both critical and supportive — the newspaper issued an apology to its readers.


"After 'much soul-searching' in the newsroom, the apology read, it was apparent that "the front page photos ... sent the message to some readers that only black men commit murder."

Then-Editor Zack Stalberg was on vacation when the mug-shot issue was published, and "believes the cover was a mistake," Gregory and Valania wrote.

" 'That was bad journalism on our part,' he says. 'First, we failed to ask the larger question of why all the fugitives that were wanted during that time period were nonwhite. Second, we made a mistake visually and repeated one guy's picture three times. Thirdly, the cover gave the impression that the only people committing murder in Philadelphia are nonwhites.


"Stalberg says if he had seen the cover before it went to press, he would have pulled it. . . ."

Michael Days, now the Daily News' editor, then its deputy managing editor, said in the Weekly story, "I thought we were doing our readers a favor by getting some pretty bad people off the street. Sometimes we are guilty of tunnel vision. The visual impact of all those black men accused of crimes — well, you can imagine the message that sends. I would not have seen it that way if I had been in the newsroom that day. I see every cover before it goes to the printer, and I would have waved it through. However, in the wake of all this reaction, I would not make that mistake again." Days is African American.

Chattanooga is not Philadelphia, but there are similarities. African Americans are 34.9 percent of Chattanooga's population, and 43.4 percent in Philadelphia, according to census figures. In the Tennessee city, black men make up most of the city’s shooting and homicide victims, which is likely in Philadelphia as well.

In defending her paper, Gerber wrote, "The newspaper didn't arrest or indict the men. We didn't label them the city's worst criminals. We did, after much discussion, make the decision to publish their photos.

"Even if we had not done so, that would not change the fact that 32 black men were arrested and branded the worst of the worst. It still happened, even if we didn't run the photos. But when no one had to see those 32 faces all in one place, it was easier to ignore the fact that the suspects were all men and were all black. It might make the round-up more palatable, but it wouldn't change the facts.

"So even though the paper caught some heat for running the mugshots, I believe it was the right thing to do.

"Yes, my phone rang with calls from angry readers. Yes, people called radio stations and debated the decision, and displayed their rage on social media (some supported running the mugshots).

"But at least people are now talking about this issue. And people are not just talking about the arrests, but about the societal conditions that push people to choose crime — poor education, lack of jobs, criminal records that, even if they want to go straight, make it difficult to find work once they get out of jail. All of these issues were raised at a meeting the NAACP held Tuesday night to discuss the arrests.

"In other words, the display of mugshots got people talking about possible solutions.

"Not a bad thing. . . ."



Yolanda Putman and Beth Burger, Chattanooga Times Free Press: 'Worst of worst' label rebuked at NAACP meeting (Nov. 13)


With the sports world reigniting the debate over use of the "N-word," it's worth recalling that two comedians who popularized it among mainstream audiences — Chris Rock and Richard Pryor — later said they regretted doing so.

A third, Dave Chapelle, didn't explicitly cite his use of the word, but explained to Oprah Winfrey in 2006 why he had quit his Comedy Central show without explanation and fled to Africa. “I would go to work on the show and I felt awful every day," he said. "I felt like some kind of prostitute or something. If I feel so bad, why keep on showing up to this place? I’m going to Africa."

And a fourth comedian, Paul Mooney, who wrote for Pryor and reveled in the word, declaring, "I say nigga 100 times every morning; it makes my teeth white," said in 2006 that he was "cured"of his attraction to the word after Michael Richards' well-publicized N-word rant at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles that year.

The latest controversies over the N-word stem from sports incidents. Among them, black players in the Miami Dolphins locker room said they had no problem with white players calling them the word. Before that, sports journalist Michael Wilbon, cohost of ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption," said that he uses the N-word "all day, every day of my life" and that whites have no right to tell black people how to use it.

Charles Barkley, the former NBA player who cohosts TNT's "Inside the NBA," added, 'I'm a black man. I use the N-word. I'm going to continue to use the N-word with my black friends, with my white friends, they are my friends. …"


The Sunday Review section of the New York Times ran an essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates headlined, "In Defense of a Loaded Word." " 'Nigger' is the border, the signpost that reminds us that the old crimes don’t disappear. It tells white people that, for all their guns and all their gold, there will always be places they can never go," Coates wrote.


But does it? In 1996, Rock popularized a routine called "Niggers and Black People." "There's like a civil war going on with black people and there's two sides: black people and there's niggers. And niggers have to got to go," Rock joked in a line that listeners still retell 17 years later. But discussing the joke in a 2005 interview on CBS- TV's "60 Minutes," the late Ed Bradley asked Rock, "As you look back now, why do you think it got so much attention?"


Rock replied, "I think a lot of people were thinking in those terms and hadn't been able to say it. By the way, I've never done that joke again, ever. And I probably never will because some people that were racist thought they had license to say 'nigger.' So I'm done with that routine."

Pryor did more than anyone to put the word before mainstream audiences, even using it in the titles of his comedy albums. "Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic," a Showtime documentary that aired this year, showed such white interviewers as Dinah Shore unwilling to utter the word in discussing it with him. But Pryor had no problem saying it. Until he went to Kenya in 1979.

"By the time I sat my ass down in the hotel lobby, I knew what I was feeling," Pryor wrote in his autobiography, "Pryor Convictions and Other Life Sentences," written with Todd Gold. "Jennifer," he said to his wife, "You know what? There are no niggers here . . . The people here, they still have their self-respect, their pride."

Pryor continued, "After three weeks . . . I also left regretting ever having uttered the word 'nigger' on a stage or off it. It was a wretched word. Its connotations weren't funny, even when people laughed. To this day I wish I'd never said the word. I felt its lameness. It was misunderstood by people. They didn't get what I was talking about. Neither did I. . . . "


In a column Friday, Washington Post columnist Mike Wise wrote of his fellow sports journalist, "When I asked Wilbon to explain his position to me over the phone this past weekend, he said, 'Just know it's so complex. It's like Aloha: It can mean 1,000 different things. My father called me that every day of my life. Every day. To my face. 'Come here, my little [N-word].'

"Having known Wilbon for 20-plus years and worked with him at The Post for almost 10 years, hearing the word over the phone in such a routine way blew me away. I asked him how that felt, to be called that as a little kid. 'I like the word,' he said.


"He added that Bill Rhoden, my former colleague at the New York Times, called many of the country's prominent black sports journalists about 20 years ago to ask them to stop using the word in hopes they could help kill it. 'I tried it for about a week,' he said. 'I couldn't do it. The analogy would be a smoker trying to give up smoking cold turkey. I haven't decided whether I'll call [my son] that. But you know what? I think I will.'

"But Wilbon also acknowledged, 'Now there’s a whole new generation of white people using it. I can see how that can be dangerous.' 


Writing last week in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, sports columnist Bryan Burwell chastised academician Michael Eric Dyson, who said, "We hijacked, or word-jacked that word that was used in a nefarious and horrible way ... and drained it of its poison and turned it into a word of endearment."

Burwell wrote, "Yes, there are a lot of folks like Dyson who ought to know better and who want you to believe that the N-word has become a warm and fuzzy term of endearment that cuts across generations, cultures and in some cases, races," then cited the case of a Massachusetts eighth-grader who woke up this month to discover that racist graffiti had been spray painted on his family's house.

In 2005, Dyson said he was retiring public use of the "N-word" after being reproached by Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson, Cornel West and others. Dyson told Journal-isms by email Monday, "Well, there are many 'publics.' In, and among black folk, the word is acceptable. It is dicier still in mixed company, though the same rule holds: it is a term to which black folk have access, from which others are excluded."

Burwell ended his column with a reference to pioneer rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy. "To quote a tweet from rapper Chuck D, who obviously has had a change of mind about such things: 'I say hating the N-word and users of it will be a great thing to start 2014.' "


In a telephone conversation Monday, Rhoden confirmed that he had called or written other sports journalists of color about the term 20 years ago.


"I think it's time for another letter," Rhoden said.

"Magazines, desperate to connect with young readers and advertisers, are more than ever a collection of bulletins from a rarefied hothouse," David Carr wrote for Monday's print edition of the New York Times, discussing unpaid internships, "which are to the publishing business what the mailroom was to Hollywood studios."

Carr said, "Paid internships, properly conceived and administered, could bring a diversity of region, class and race to an industry where the elevators are full of people who look alike, talk alike and think alike. Pie in the sky? Not at Atlantic Media. Three years ago, the company made the decision to end unpaid internships and go to yearlong fellowships that had meaningful tasks, an educational component, a living wage attached and, get this, health insurance.

"There are now 45 fellows working across its publications, and several have graduated to significant, permanent roles at the company.

" 'We were looking for ambitious, creative, original journalists, and we did not want income to be a barrier,' said James Bennet, editor in chief of The Atlantic. 'Publishing that includes the web means we need to reach a national audience, and that requires a diverse mix of class, region, race and, yes, generations to do our job.'

"The odd thing about those good intentions and enlightened talk? It's been good for business. The Atlantic is expanding its audience through the magazine and its website, along with The Wire, its high-tempo news site; and Atlantic Cities, a site that covers urban issues. The audience seems to be noticing. According to GfK MRI's annual survey tracking print and digital readership, The Atlantic has grown 34 percent in the first half of this year.

"The Atlantic experiment conforms to my own experience. In the 1990s, I ran The Washington City Paper, a newspaper mostly staffed by white people in a majority-black city. By funding fellowships and entry-level positions, we were able to bring new perspectives aboard by publishing work from Ta-Nehisi Coates, now a senior editor and National Magazine Award winner for The Atlantic (who also contributes to The Times); Holly Bass, a Washington-based performance artist and writer; William Jelani Cobb, a University of Connecticut associate professor, author and essayist who went on to publish in The New Yorker, The Washington Post and TheRoot.com; and Neil Drumming, an alumnus of Entertainment Weekly who is now a critic at Salon and directed and wrote 'Big Words,' a feature film that came out this year to great reviews.

"Despite the industry canard about a lack of qualified minority candidates, finding these writers, all of whom are black, wasn’t hard at all. It was easy. . . ."

" 'The definition of slavery is to be beholden to a master, and we will be beholden when that note is due,' the former governor of Alaska and Republican vice-presidential candidate said during an appearance on 'Fox News Sunday.'

"Bashir, in response to Palin's initial comments, called her a 'world class idiot.' He described a punishment that forced a slave to put 'sh-t in his mouth' and said Palin would make an 'outstanding candidate' for the same treatment.

"Bashir apologized soon after, and said his comments were 'wholly unacceptable,' and Palin accepted Sunday. . . ."

Many critics argued that Bashir deserved harsher punishment, Gail Shister reported for TVNewser, listing infractions where "In every case, the perps have been men, and in every case but one, the broadcast slurs have been aimed at women. . . . "

Trouble also found Bashir after he addressed the Asian American Journalists Association at its gala banquet in Chicago in 2008. "I'm happy to be in the midst of so many Asian babes," he said onstage, with his ABC News "20/20" colleague Juju Chang nearby. "In fact, I'm happy that the podium covers me from the waist down." He then noted that a speech should be 'like a dress on a beautiful woman — long enough to cover the important parts and short enough to keep your interest — like my colleague Juju's. . . ."

Bashir apologized.

Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: Whose remarks were more repulsive?

"The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today launched a global campaign to denounce violence against women journalists and [to] alert public authorities on their need to end impunity for these crimes," the federation announced on Friday.

"This campaign is a response to the numerous cases of women journalists being threatened, attacked, harassed, raped or even killed in the course of their profession.

" 'Tragically, women journalists are under bigger threat than their male colleagues when it comes to attacks, bullying, threats, cyber-bullying, rape and abuse; all effective tools to silence women's voices in the media. As we encourage more and more women into the profession, their safety must be paramount,' said IFJ Gender Council co-chair Mindy Ran.

"According to the IFJ, six women journalists were killed this year in the course of their profession. . . ."

The campaign coincides with a broader initiative involving gender-based violence.

"Training journalists how to better cover gender-based violence can help challenge attitudes that foster sexual attacks," Frank Smyth wrote Friday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Helping journalists learn personal skills to safely navigate sexual aggression can help prevent them from becoming victims themselves.

" 'We see that journalists have a very important role in raising awareness, and we are also aware that journalists have been attacked covering conflicts, both international and local journalists,' Savitri Bisnath, Associate Director of the Rutgers University Center for Women's Global Leadership, told CPJ.

"Next week begins the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence program organized by Bisnath and her colleagues at the Rutgers women's leadership center.

"Starting Nov. 25, which marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ending on December 10, International Human Rights Day, the campaign is being supported by Amnesty International, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, among many other groups. The campaign will be active on Facebook and Twitter. . . ."

NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman headed GQ's list of "The 25 Least Influential People of 2013," a roster that also included President Obama, journalists John King and Howard Kurtz, activist professor Cornel West, actor Will Smith, cooking-show host Paula Deen and leaker Edward Snowden.

Rodman "was the first prominent American celebrity invited inside the nation-sized prison that is North Korea, and he did literally the least interesting thing possible with it," Drew Magary wrote for the November issue. "Sure, Kim Jong-un is a brutal dictator who starves and kills his own people. But he was pretty chill when we hung out! Dennis Rodman is a Q-list celebrity willing to commit borderline treason just to hang out with a dictator who himself aspires to be a Q-list celebrity. It's all hilarious, until you remember there are millions of people who can't leave this Kingdom of the Absurd without taking a bullet to the head. . . ."

Magary wrote about Obama, "He can blame Republicans in Congress all he likes and get away with it because congressional Republicans are the worst. But the fact remains that I have spent the majority of this man's presidency watching bad things happen, then hearing a thoughtful speech about how we gotta make sure the bad things never happen again, and then watching as nothing gets done. Next time there's an election, I want Nate Silver to analyze the data and tell me who to vote for so that I don't end up casting my ballot for a very eloquent hat stand."

"The program, relaunching Jan. 1 and airing from 10am-NoonET will air on WABC-AM. It had also aired on KABC-AM in Los Angeles and 45 other stations across the country. Cumulus says the show 'will focus on the most talked about topics involving the nation's largest city — everything from social issues to politics.' Rivera continues to host a weekend show for Fox News Channel."

In 2010, five years after Ebony and Jet magazines Publisher John H. Johnson died at the age of 87, Howard University "quietly dropped his name from the School of Communications and the university is still many years away from breaking ground on a new building that was initially slated to cost $250 million and was supposed to be completed several years ago," Jamal Watson reported Nov. 3 for Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

In 2003, Johnson had come "armed with a check for $4 million and the hope that his donation would someday be used as a down payment toward the construction of a new building that would house the communications school that had been renamed that year in his honor," Watson wrote.

Watson also wrote, "Now, the university's interim president, Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, has been tasked with finding a way to clean up the public debacle" and apparently has been working with Johnson's daughter, Linda Johnson Rice, to establish the John H. Johnson Endowed chair in Entrepreneurship. . . ."

"The decision comes after 38 news outlets protested White House limits that often prevent journalists from taking photos of President Obama in a letter on Thursday. Reporters raised the issue again in a press briefing last week, arguing that independent photographers play a different role from White House photographers. The clash between the media and the administration over the issue has continued to escalate. . . . "

"These were the American Music Awards, never the high point of televised trophy-tossing tastefulness to begin with. But as the Cirque du Sayonara spectacle of Katy Perry's opening number unfurled, my jaw slowly dropped until it nearly rested against my collarbone," Jeff Yang wrote Monday for the Wall Street Journal. Yang also wrote, "Perry's whiteface/yellowface performance was also a harsh reminder of how deeply anchored the archetype of the exotic, self-sacrificing 'lotus blossom' is in the Western imagination . . ." Dr. Ravi Chandra added for Psychology Today, "If you don't think Katy Perry was racist — let me ask you, what if she had performed in blackface? Perhaps a costume isn't the same as changing skin color to you, but it is agonizingly close for me — I remember Mickey Rooney in buckteeth for his role as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's; Jonathan Pryce in Yellowface in Miss Saigon; Gwen Stefani in her Harajuku phase. . . ."

"Offensive references to Chinese people remain common in popular culture," Matt Schiavenza wrote Friday for the Atlantic. "A doctoral student who sings opera on the side is casually mocked for his racial similarity to Chinese immigrants who work in restaurants. A boy calling on everyone in a country to be killed is just an innocent, amusing comment from a little rugrat. And it isn't just China, either: In September, a CNBC host in employed a mocking Indian accent to discuss the value of the rupee, India's currency. So it goes. . . ."

"This past Sunday we got a tweet tip about a photo taken on the set of Univision’s 'República Deportiva' showing the popular sports program’s two Senadora models dressed in Pocahontas outfits next to the MLS Cup," "Rebeldes" reported Tuesday for Latino Rebels. "They are both dressed in hypersexualized Pocahontas costumes, and from what we can gather . . . they dressed like that because it was Thanksgiving."The photo was deleted from Twitter. Dan Courtemanche, executive vice president, communications for Major League Soccer told Latino Rebels, "We appreciate your inquiry and interest in Major League Soccer. We will refrain from providing comment on this topic."

The fifth and final episode of Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross" airs Tuesday on PBS. All five episodes may be viewed online at http://video.pbs.org/program/african-americans-many-rivers-cross/. Journalists Isabel Wilkerson and Charlayne Hunter-Gault have been among on-air participants in the 500-year narrative of black history in what is now the United States.

"A New York judge has extended her ban on sales of a book containing Malcolm X's diaries until a challenge can be heard next year," the Associated Press reported Friday. "Federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan extended an order Friday that she signed two weeks ago to block the sales. She acted after heirs of Malcolm X sued to stop a Chicago company from publishing the activist leader's diaries.. . ." Herb Boyd, chosen for 2014 induction into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Black Journalists, is the diaries' co-editor.

"Middle schools and high schools often offer an array of classes and programs in order to serve students with a variety of educational needs," Blair Hickman wrote Friday for ProPublica. "They include talented and gifted, special education, honors and advanced placements, career and technical education and basic courses. ProPublica is investigating whether these courses have also become a means of segregating students by race." Hickman asked readers for help in the investigation.

This columnist appeared on CNN's "Reliable Sources" media show on Sunday with Vincent Duffy, chairman of the Radio Television Digital News Foundation, to discuss the election in Flint, Mich., of a councilman who had served time for murder. The media had not reported the conviction. Richard Prince suggested that the Flint (Mich.) Journal examine why the African American voters, who knew of the conviction, nevertheless voted for Wantwaz Davis, saying, " "What's important is not the apology, but what you're going to do about it." (video)

In Chicago, "A tentative contract settlement between the parent company of the Sun-Times and the union representing editorial employees could lead to the rehiring of some of the photographers who were laid off by the newspaper earlier this year, sources said," Robert Feder reported Monday on his website.

"As more and more people have called for Washington's pro football team to change its name, some folks have argued that the only way to get owner Dan Snyder to listen is to go after his wallet. That's right: Boycott the team or, failing that, target its corporate sponsors," Ian Gordon and Matt Connolly wrote Friday for Mother Jones. Meanwhile, "Hours before the Washington Redskins stepped onto FedEx Field on Monday night to play the San Francisco 49ers, a group of African American, Latino and Native American leaders stood with their backs to the stadium and said the time had come for the team to change its name," Theresa Vargas reported for the Washington Post. Writing Sunday for USA Today, former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who chaired the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, called for the team to change its name.

"Two dozen people gathered on a sidewalk in Northwest Washington on Thursday night to show support for suspended television news anchor J.C. Hayward and to call for her return to her station," Emma Brown reported Friday for the Washington Post. "Hayward, a 42-year veteran of WUSA (Channel 9), has not appeared on air since Oct. 1, when she was named in a lawsuit alleging that the former managers of Options Public Charter School had developed a contracting scheme that diverted millions of dollars to two for-profit companies. . . ."

"Eyapaha Today magazine is published by Native Sun News once every month. It is a magazine that reaches out to the younger readers. It touches on art, culture, dance, fashion, photos, hip-hop, and first person interviews of people that are making a name in art, fashion and music. Denise Giago has been around the newspaper business for many years. She is the daughter of Tim Giago and as a result has been exposed to newspapers and writers for many years," Tim Giago, publisher of Native Sun News, wrote Monday for indianz.com.

"Alaska Radio Korea can't be found on the regular FM dial: It can only be heard on a special 'sub-carrier' radio, available for $40," Michelle Theriault Boots wrote Saturday for the Anchorage Daily News. About a thousand people in the city have them, said Yong Pak, who delivers the news with his wife, Rose Pak. "Grandmothers and taxi drivers who drive around listening to the station's signature mix of Korean news, folk music, Christian preaching and bursts of Anchorage news, culled from local media and translated into Korean. Their listeners are the same people who read Anchorage's two weekly Korean-language newspapers: mostly older, immigrant Koreans who don't speak or read English. For a generation living out their years in Anchorage, the newspapers and the radio broadcast serve as both a balm to the homesick and a vital connection to the English-speaking world. . . ."

Addressing the parliamentary elections that took place Sunday in Honduras, Reporters Without Borders called Friday "for justice for journalists who have been persecuted or killed and an overhaul of the entire Honduran media" after the balloting. "Represented by an observer on the ground, Reporters Without Borders hopes that key issues that are important to the population, such as agrarian reform, environmental conflicts, a purge of the police and obviously human rights, will be the vehicles of a new pluralism and the restoration of the rule of law, which has been sacrificed since the June 2009 coup d'état. . . ."

Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.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.