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Robin Roberts

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"When 'Good Morning America' co-anchor Robin Roberts took to her Facebook page to count her blessings, express gratitude for her recovery from a rare blood and bone marrow disease and thank her longtime girlfriend, Roberts didn't just come out," Patrick Kevin Day wrote Tuesday for the Los Angeles Times.

"As one of the most prominent personalities on TV, media watchers said, Roberts became an instant role model for young people who see few other openly gay people of color in the TV news business.

"In a year-end post that expressed thanks for her recovery from myelodysplastic syndrome, Roberts wrote Sunday: 'I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together.'

"Coming out publicly is 'no longer a People magazine cover and a book deal,' said Omar Sharif Jr., a GLAAD spokesman and grandson of 'Lawrence of Arabia' star Omar Sharif. 'But it is significant for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender] people of color, who lack significant representation on TV.' . . . "

"CNN anchor Don Lemon also noted the importance of Roberts' announcement, even in an era when more celebrities freely acknowledge that they are gay.

" 'I know plenty of people who still lead double lives,' said Lemon, who is black and came out in his 2011 memoir. 'It's important that someone like Robin comes out because stars are unattainable. How many people can be a movie star? But you have so many different journalists and TV news anchors and reporters who are in your home every single day, and in a way, we're more relatable. What we do is more attainable."

The White House specifically sought out Roberts in May 2012 when President Obama wanted to declare his support for same-sex marriage.

Roberts was not available to Journal-isms then to discuss the personal significance of the president's declaration, but when her interview with Obama was replayed on "Good Morning America," Roberts said, "I'm getting chills again."

First lady Michelle Obama tweeted on Monday, "I am so happy for you and Amber! You continue to make us all proud. -mo"

Kimberley McLeod, ebony.com: Thank You, Robin Roberts

Jack Mirkinson, Huffington Post: Why Robin Roberts' Coming Out Is A Big Deal

Cavan Sieczkowski, Huffington Post: Robin Roberts Comes Out, Thanks 'Long Time Girlfriend'

Jobless Critic Raises $4K to Stave Off Homelessness

A staff writer for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., who was laid off in 2011 has been in such desperate straits that he issued a public appeal on New Year's Eve for funds to help him pay his rent. Craig D. Lindsey asked for at least $900, but by the end of New Year's Day, he had raised $4,255.

Lindsey, who covered pop culture, including film, said he was surprised by the response. "I honestly thought it would take four days for me to raise $900 online (which is not even the whole amount – I was going to make up the rest with whatever little I had)," he wrote on Wednesday.

He also said, "people, you can stop sending money. If you want to donate, that’s fine, but really—I’m straight. Not only do I have enough to pay off the two months' rent, but I can pay off the next two months. Honestly, I wish I could shut the thing down, but it’s apparently going to continue until it’s finally finished on Friday."

Lindsey concluded, "There are several things I’ve learned during this whole thing. For one, I’ve learned that people aren’t awful. (As I just recently told a mentor on the phone, 'People just gave me $3000—I can't say the world sucks anymore.') Secondly, while no one wants to be seen as a pitiful charity case, sometimes you need help. And, if you can get past your ego and your pride and just ask, people are more than willing to come to your aid. Finally, it made me realize that I should be more giving and charitable as well. I often dream of having enough money and resources to help out those in need. This outpouring has showed me I don’t have to wait until then. . . ."

In his initial appeal, Lindsey wrote on indiegogo.com:

"This is my first time doing something like this, so I don't know how much this will impact you. Hopefully, it will impact me enough to not completely lose all hope. As I go into my fourth year of joblessness, with little to no prospects on the horizon, I've often felt I made a huge mistake choosing this line of work. I also feel I've made a bigger mistake moving to an area where there's not a lot of demand for my line of work. I don't have family here, so I don't even have that to fall back on. My friends try to help me out when they can, but they have their own troubles. I only ask if you can help me on this endeavor, and I will be eternally grateful."

When Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Wesley Morris left the Boston Globe a year ago for the Grantland website, the number of prominent film critics of color at daily newspapers dwindled to two, Lisa Kennedy of the Denver Post and Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald.

Lindsey continued to write about film, as in a review of Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" for Nashville Scene in Tennessee.

"Oh sure, there were a few bright spots," Lindsey wrote Monday on unclecrizzle.tumblr.com. "I won an award or two for my writing. But, being as I'm in my third year of joblessness (the unemployment dried up in January), awards weren't paying my rent. When a couple of outlets I write for cut my workload in half a few months ago, it was a very big blow. Now, I really can't pay my rent. (Seriously, I gotta go to court next week on back-rent issues if I don't figure out something THIS WEEK.)

"It would be fine if I had family in the area to stay with (a film-critic friend of mine had that to fall back on when he had to vacate his premises this year), but I don't. Hell, half my family is dead or I don't know where they are. I've already had friends and colleagues in my first year of unemployment tell me they couldn't (or wouldn't) put me up if things started getting hairy. So, 2014 may finally be the year I become homeless. . . ."

Lindsey's story was picked up Wednesday on Jim Romenesko's media blog. 

The National Association of Black Journalists will end 2013 with a budget surplus of $183,000, nearly $150,000 above projections, NABJ President Bob Butler announced on Christmas.

"The surplus is the result of cost controls enacted by NABJ," Butler said in an emailed message, "led especially by Executive Director Maurice Foster, and revenues generated by the successful regional conferences and media institute programming produced by board members and other hardworking NABJ members.

"I congratulate and thank Executive Director Foster, the national staff and the board for their sound fiscal management. NABJ enters 2014 on a firm financial footing that enables us to deliver increased training and career development, as well as stronger support for our chapters."

Butler did not detail the cost controls.

"She's also written a more formal apology on MSNBC.com.

"The offensive comments came on her show Sunday when Harris-Perry and her panel played a caption contest with a Romney family photo. One panelist pointed out the Romney’s African-American grandchild Kieran standing out among a majority of white grandchildren by singing lines from the Sesame Street song: 'One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others.'

"Harris-Perry added to the joke by teasing about a potential wedding between Kieran Romney and North West, the daughter of Kayne West and Kim Kardashian. . . ."

Dylan Byers, Politico: CNN ups pressure on MSNBC's Harris-Perry (Jan. 2)

"Egypt's government has detained four journalists working for the Qatar-based Al Jazeera English news channel, arresting them during raids on a five-star hotel and at least one private residence Sunday night," Erin Cunningham reported Monday for the Washington Post. "The journalists, including an Australian national, are accused of 'harming national security' through links to the recently banned Muslim Brotherhood organization, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

"The arrests are the latest development in a rapidly escalating crackdown on the Brotherhood, an Islamist group that the government last week declared a 'terrorist organization.' . . . "

The story also said, "Egypt's military-backed government has long accused Al Jazeera, whose Qatari patrons are allies of the Brotherhood, of being a mouthpiece for the organization. . . ."  

Elana Beiser, Committee to Protect Journalists: Second worst year on record for jailed journalists (Dec. 18)

Drew Brown, Committee to Protect Journalists: Arab journalists need training for civil unrest and wars

Committee to Protect Journalists: Egypt arrests Al-Jazeera journalists, seizes equipment

Kareem Fahim and Asmaa Al Zohairy, New York Times: Egypt Says 3 Journalists Will Be Held 15 More Days

Yasir Ghazi, New York Times: As Violence Rises, Journalists in Iraq Face Renewed Risks (Dec. 23)

International Federation of Journalists: 108 Journalists Killed in 2013 to Test UN Day to End Impunity

International Press Institute: IPI urges Egypt to release journalists

"A new nonprofit organization called Write-A-House, located in Detroit, Michigan (which, earlier this year, became the largest city in the United States to file for and enter bankruptcy) has found something creative to do with the city's seemingly endless blocks of vacant homes—gut them from the inside-out, fix them up, and give them to writers. . . ."

Bastanmehr also wrote, "Low-income writers apply to Write-A-House each Spring by sending writing samples and a letter of intent. The judges choosing writers based on their application include National Poet Laureate Billy Collins, writer and filmmaker Dream Hampton, poet Major Jackson, and more. The process would guarantee housing for at least two years, with writers leasing the homes from the non-profit directly. If the writers stay for a minimum of two years, they are awarded the deed to the home, and the city will have received a new resident, another step towards recovery. . . ."

Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times: Free houses for writers: Inside the Write a House project (Dec. 24)

"If you love journalism, love newspapers, you'll find this film, which is making its TV debut in the PBS December lineup, well worth your while," Robin J Phillips wrote Dec. 5 for the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. Phillips was describing "Black & White & Dead All Over," which premiered Dec. 18 but can still be viewed online at: http://video.pbs.org/video/2365129255/

"I can't say you'll enjoy it, but it is well worth the 83 minutes it will take to watch," Phillips wrote. "One warning: It may renew your sense of pride and dash it at the same time.

"Black & White and Dead All Over is a documentary film that takes an in-depth look at the newspaper industry as it struggles to remain financially viable. The film features journalists including Bob Woodward of the Washington Post and David Carr of the New York Times to explain the financial death spiral for print news.

"But the most elegant and compelling story comes from Philadelphia Daily News reporters Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman who took on a dangerous and corrupt narcotics squad in Philadelphia, a story that earned them a Pulitzer Prize.

"The film is about more than newspapers, it's about journalism and the ability to find compelling news and right wrongs. . . ."

Michael Days, editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, and Vernon Clark, reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer, are among the journalists of color featured.

"Respondents made a clear choice in the 2013 NewsPro-RTDNA Top Journalism Schools poll of news professionals, selecting the University of Missouri at Columbia School of Journalism as the top J-school in the country," Tom Gilbert reported Dec. 17 for NewsPro and the Radio Television Digital News Association. "Missouri easily claimed the top spot, followed by Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Tied for fifth place were the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. . . ."

A Dec. 26 list of "10 journalists to watch in 2014" by Dylan Byers of Politico listed no journalists of color and such choices as showman Glenn Beck and celebrity relative Ronan Farrow of MSNBC, both thin on journalism credentials. But critics of the list pointed to "12 Of The Smartest Women of Color On Twitter" from September on alldigitocracy.org; TV Week's "12 To Watch In TV News [PDF]," which included Roland Martin of TV One, Hari Sreenivasan of PBS and Alicia Menendez of Fusion; "Journalists—Of Color!—To Watch In 2014" by Gene Demby of NPR's "Code Switch"; and, spotlighting news sources rather than journalists, "15 Fiercest Sisters of 2013" from fierceforblackwomen.com. In November, Matt Wilstein of mediaite.com listed "The 50 Sexiest in TV News," including Ann Curry, Sanjay Gupta, Tamron Hall, Van Jones, Don Lemon, Betty Liu, Richard Lui, Menendez, Natalie Morales, Byron Pitts, Carl Quintanilla, Jorge Ramos, Robin Roberts, Troy Roberts, Touré and Alex Wagner.

The board of directors of Fort Worth Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists voted and approved two new categories in its First Amendment Awards, Rebecca Aguilar, vice president of membership and a social media contributor for the chapter, wrote Monday on her blog. "Two Spanish-language categories have been added: Spanish-language General News and Spanish-language Investigative." Aguilar added, "Now my hope is that other SPJ Chapters and the National organization can follow our lead."

"Your Sunday is about to get a lot less visually stimulating: Arem Duplessis has decided to leave his post as design director of The New York Times Magazine [muffled sobbing]," Stephanie Murg reported Monday for unbeige. "Come February, he'll begin his new position as a creative director at Apple, where he'll lend his creative genius to the internal marketing team. . . ."

"The homeless girl whose story was profiled in an influential New York Times piece was a featured part of New York City's inauguration event, holding the Bible for the swearing in of the new public advocate," Tal Kopan reported Wednesday for Politico. "Dasani [Coates], 11, was the subject of the 'Invisible Child' series published by The New York Times last month. She and her family sat onstage for the inauguration and she held the Bible used by new Public Advocate Letitia James as she was sworn in. . . ."

Gary Peña, content editor/designer with the Dallas Morning News and a former board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, is joining Eastfield College as the student publications manager, he told his Facebook followers on Tuesday.

"Entercom Communications Corp.  . . ., one of the largest radio broadcasting companies in the United States, today announced that it has donated Salem, Oregon, radio station KWOD (AM) to the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC)," Entercom and MMTC announced on Dec. 23. "MMTC, which was founded to promote diversity in broadcast station ownership, uses donated stations to train minorities and women in broadcast operations, sales, management, and ownership and enables them to purchase the stations at a discount from their market values. . . ."

In the first 15 minutes of the movie "Anchorman 2," one piece of banter crossed the line, Emil Guillermo wrote Dec. 19 for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. "And it was a pure throwaway. Ron Burgundy is driving his van and says: 'Only Olympic sport Filipinos are good at is eating cats and dogs.' " Guillermo, a Filipino American, also wrote, "There are enough genuinely stupid race-free laughs in the movie; it wasn't necessary to update the already lame stereotype of Filipino dog eaters. . . ."

In a desperate letter to the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., cited Dec. 19 by N&O columnist Barry Saunders, reader Theresa West wrote, "The greatest gift I want for my child is family." She added, "My heart is breaking right now. As hard as I try, I can't do this without support. I write this tonight to tell you I am scared because I can't do it. I need help, please. We need love and support, just someone who cares." Frankie, her son, wants "a grandma or pa like his friends." Saunders told readers Dec. 23, "That was last week. Now, when you talk to her, she is giddy. Why? Because mother and son have so many people wanting share the holidays with them—to be Frankie's grandma and grandpa—that they can share them with others. . . ."

"ABC O&O WPVI Philadelphia (DMA4) is teaming up with the market's Univision O&O WUVP to collaborate on newsgathering and content sharing, with the goal of improving coverage of the Latino communities across the region," TVNewsCheck reported on Dec. 19. "WPVI says for its viewers, 'this will mean more content regarding the vibrant and growing Hispanic community.'. . ."

"During this past weekend's edition of The Sports Reporters, ESPN columnist and Numbers Never Lie co-host Jemele Hill said if she could select a 'Sports Person of the Year' for 2013, she would nominate the 'N-word,' . . ." Andrew Kirell reported Wednesday for mediaite.com.

"Doing yoga, going green and enjoying winter sports sound like innocuous topics for a public media web series—that is, until they’re preceded by 'Black folk don't…'," Andrew Lapin reported Dec. 23 for Current.org. "Now midway through its third season, the web series Black Folk Don't aims to spark frank discussions of racial identity in modern-day America. . . ." Lapin also noted, "PBS is supporting the series with distribution through its website and mobile platforms. . . ."

"An Ethiopian court convicted a journalist on December 25 on the charge of spreading false rumors and sentenced him to two years and nine months in prison, according to local journalists," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Monday. "The First Instance Court in Hawassa, capital of the state of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Regions, convicted Asfaw Berhanu, former contributor to the private bilingual paper The Reporter, in connection with a September 4 article he wrote for the publication that claimed three state government officials had been removed from their posts, local journalists said. . . ."

In the Central African Republic, journalists are still in danger despite the deployment of French and African peacekeepers, Reporters Without Borders said Dec. 23. "Virtually none of the Bangui-based newspapers has published since 20 December because of the mounting violence and unrest. . . ."
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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.