New York Times' William Rhoden Discusses Donald Sterling Case

William Rhoden, the New York Times

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The saga of Donald Sterling's racist remarks, which could cost him ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, put black commentators in the spotlight in a way rarely seen recently. At least two related the NBA owner's situation to the low numbers of journalists of color or of reporters covering the "minority affairs" beat.

In one of several television appearances, the New York Times' William Rhoden said on CNN's "New Day" on Tuesday:

"Whenever I walk into a press box and I see no black reporters, or when I walk into a newsroom or any corporate office, and I see no black people, essentially the owners are saying the same thing [as Sterling]. They're just not getting caught. They're saying 'we don't respect you, black people, we're not gonna hire you.' One thing I would suggest a lot of the NBA players do, and black NFL players — when you get a chance, walk through your respective team offices and find out how many people that look like you are in the marketing department, in the sales department ... You will be stunned. So, let's not get so carried away by this, what's kind of like an easy fastball to hit, and really dig down into the systemic racism in your organizations – who, in fact, pay you a lot of money. I think this a great launching pad, but let's not just stop here at the easy part."

In sports journalism, "the grade for racial hiring practices for APSE newspapers and websites last year remained a C+, the same as in 2010," Richard E. Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, reported for Associated Press Sports Editors last year. Lapchick, who is white, also said, "if you look like me, you have a great chance for upward mobility in the sports departments of newspapers and dot-coms in the United States and Canada. If you are a woman or person of color, even in 2013, your chances are extremely limited."

As John Branch reported for the New York Times, "The National Basketball Association on Tuesday handed a lifetime ban to the longtime Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, an extraordinary step in professional sports and one intended to rid the league of Mr. Sterling after he was recorded making racist comments.

"Commissioner Adam Silver said the N.B.A. would try to force Mr. Sterling to sell the Clippers, fully expecting to get the necessary three-quarters approval from other team owners. It would be a rare, if not unprecedented, move for a North American professional sports league — made even more unusual by the fact that the N.B.A. is punishing Mr. Sterling for comments he made in a private conversation.

"Mr. Sterling was also fined $2.5 million, the largest that league bylaws would allow, but a small percentage of his estimated $1.9 billion fortune. . . ."

On alldigitocracy.org, guest blogger Barry Cooper noted the demise of the minority affairs beat at many news organizations.

"Back in the day, when newspapers had full staffs of local editors and reporters, there was this beat called the 'minority affairs beat,' " Cooper wrote. "Okay, maybe the title sucked, but it was the minority affairs reporter's job to know what was going on in minority communities.

"The minority affairs reporter would know everybody at the local chapter of the National Urban League, the NAACP, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and so forth. In those days, the L.A. Chapter of the NAACP would not have gotten away with this nonsense of 'selling' awards to Donald Sterling.

"An enterprising reporter looking to get a story on the front page of The Los Angeles Times would have sniffed out the payola, given Sterling’s racist reputation, and pitched the story to his city editor. The Times would have outed the L.A. NAACP long before now — and maybe Sterling would have been kicked out of the NBA years ago. . . ."

Leon Jenkins, president of the NAACP's Los Angeles chapter, resigned Thursday amid the criticism.

Reporting on the Sterling affair also revealed a misunderstanding by many in the media of the term "African American." When TMZ broke the story of Sterling's remarks, the excerpts quoted his antipathy toward black people. Many media outlets said Sterling's remarks were about "African Americans."

While African Americans are certainly among the world's black people, it is doubtful that Sterling's reservations were limited only to those blacks who are American.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Time: Welcome to the Finger-Wagging Olympics

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Deep in the Heart of Don

Howard Bryant, ESPN.com: Sterling saga reveals players' power

Bryan Burwell, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Bold stroke shows we're heading in right direction

James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: NBA ban of Donald Sterling sends the right message

James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Did the LA Chapter of the NAACP sell out?

Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: This Town Needs a Better Class of Racist

Stanley Crouch, Daily News, New York: The racist rancher and his cynical fans

Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post: Good news in Sterling, Bundy racial rants? Could be.

Sam Fulwood III, Center for American Progress: Calling Foul Against Racism in the NBA

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the New Yorker: Racism Beyond Donald Sterling

Bridget Johnson, Jill Monroe, Nana Mensah and Laura Martinez with Michel Martin on "Tell Me More," NPR": V. Stiviano 'Thunderously Unintelligent' In Sterling Scandal?

Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: Thanks for the Honesty, Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling

Michael Meyers and Norman Siegel, HuffPost BlackVoices: Donald Sterling, Free Speech, and Privacy

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: At least racists in the old days admitted to it

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Sterling tarnishes all that he touches

William C. Rhoden, New York Times: A Verdict on Comments, but the Conversation Isn't Over

Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: America aids and abets racists like Donald Sterling

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The racists among us

Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Dysfunctional relationship between Donald Sterling, Los Angeles NAACP

John Smallwood, Philadelphia Daily News: Silver firms up his power by quickly handling Sterling mess

Marcus Thompson II, Bay Area News Group: NBA owners must stand against Sterling

DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: Sterling, Bundy and Hollywood justice

"Will the Internet become the superhighway of the rich?" columnist Juan Gonzalez asked April 24 in the Daily News in New York.

"Imagine an expensive toll road — one that radically reduces the chances for future Amazon, Google and Netflix outfits — and you'll get the idea.

"That's how consumer groups describe the stunning policy reversal by the Obama administration on net neutrality, the [principle] that all Internet content be treated equally.

"Under a proposal announced this week by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, giant broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon will be able to charge more for transmitting the content of some customers at faster speeds. . . .' "

The activist group Free Press began a campaign to raise $15,000 in 15 days to help defeat Wheeler's proposal. On Friday, it said it had raised $9,347.34, which is 62 percent of the goal.

Craig Aaron, Free Press: Wake Up, Internet. Time to Save Yourself. (April 24)

Editorial, New York Times: Creating a Two-Speed Internet (April 24)

Steven Waldman, Columbia Journalism Review: 5 ideas for a modern internet policy (April 24)

Seven of the 12 journalists chosen for John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships for 2014-15 at Stanford University are people of color, as are five of the 12 awarded Nieman fellowships at Harvard University, according to spokesmen for those programs.

James G. Bettinger, director of the Stanford program, identified the seven as Zena Barakat, a native of Lebanon; Charla Bear, an enrolled member of Tanana Village, an Alaska Native tribe; Lope Gutiérrez-Ruiz, a native of Venezuela; Jeremy Hay, whose mother is Chinese; Yvonne Leow, daughter of Chinese immigrants and a vice president of the Asian American Journalists Association; Beatrice Motamedi, who is of Iranian descent; and Akoto Ofori-Atta, who is African American.

The Knight program, which has outstripped the other fellowship programs in recent years in selecting journalists of color, attracted 139 applicants, Bettinger said, of whom 16 self-identified as African American, 15 as Latino, 25 as Asian (including Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander) and four as Native American or Alaska Native.

Of the 12 American journalists chosen for Nieman fellowships, two are African American, one is Native American, one is Asian American and one is Iranian American, according to Ellen Tuttle, communications officer for the Nieman program. "Additionally our 2014 Visiting Fellows include one African American and one Asian American." Tuttle said she could not name the journalists of color "due to our confidentiality rules." However, the list includes black journalists Alicia Stewart of CNN and Dawn Turner Trice of the Chicago Tribune.

The Knight-Wallace Fellowship program at the University of Michigan also announced its next class, but director Charles Eisendrath did not respond to a request to identify how many are American journalists of color. Those chosen include Tracy Jan, a reporter in the Boston Globe's Washington bureau who is Asian American.

Meanwhile, the Marquette University College of Communication announced that its next class of journalists for the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism will include veteran Marjorie Valbrun, who is Haitian-American and plans to examine the economic outcomes of welfare reform, particularly for adults whose mothers were forced off welfare in the late 1990s.

Herbert Lowe, director of Journalism for Social Change at the school, told Journal-isms by email, "This is a new journalism fellowship and our goal is for people to mention in the same breath as Harvard, Michigan and Stanford when it comes to enabling seasoned journalists to spend a year away from their newsroom, only instead of refreshing and rebooting, ours enables the best journalists to return to their newsrooms with a Pulitzer Prize-caliber series of stories."

In another development, Ann M. Simmons of the Los Angeles Times and Maria Zamudio of the Chicago Reporter were among seven journalists awarded Social Justice Reporting for a Global America fellowships from the International Federation of Journalists.

Simmons said by email, "I plan to travel to Russia to examine 'The Black Experience in post-Soviet Russia' by exploring the growing plight of people from Sub-Saharan Africa and assessing the status of Russian-born black citizens." Zamudio intends to write "about the sexual exploitation Central American migrant women face in Mexico while traveling North to the United States," according to the announcement.

Also, on Thursday, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism named 10 Knight-Bagehot Fellows in economics and business journalism for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Garry D. Howard, who left the Sporting News in December after nearly three years as editor-in-chief, has joined the Sporting News' previous owner, American City Business Journals, as director of corporate initiatives.

"In this newly created position, Howard will be responsible for a number of critical programs across the entire spectrum of ACBJ operating units and corporate departments. His efforts will touch on recruiting and talent development, training, possible content initiatives and similar important programs," according to an internal note from president and CEO Whitney Shaw. "Howard will report directly to Kirk and me," a reference to Kirk Shaw, executive vice president and chief financial officer. "A former president of the Associated Press Sports Editors [a]ssociation, Howard left Sporting News several months after ACBJ entered its joint venture with Perform Group. Prior to joining Sporting News in January 2011, he was assistant managing editor/sports of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. . . ."

Howard, 54, told Journal-isms, "This is a wonderful opportunity for me to use all of the skills and experience I have acquired over my journalism career in a strong fashion, while helping to elevate the already high profile of American City Business Journals." Asked why he was returning to his former employer, Howard referred to Whitney Shaw and messaged Journal-isms, "He was very persuasive and said it would be a great transition for me at this point in my career. He felt he felt I could help immediately with helping to find/attract awesome candidates for hire across all levels."

Judith Cummings, the first black woman to be a domestic bureau chief at the New York Times, died in her sleep Tuesday at her Detroit home, a cousin, Charlene Warner Coleman, told Journal-isms on Friday. She was 68.

Cummings had been sick with a "very bad cold," and a medical examiner concluded that she died of natural causes, Coleman told Journal-isms by telephone.

Biographical information was not immediately available, but Paul Delaney, a former Times senior editor who worked with Cummings, said his colleague's biggest accomplishments were covering the New York City financial crisis and becoming bureau chief for the Times in Los Angeles.

"She was a dedicated journalist who would not stop until she got to the center of the story," her cousin said. Coleman said she expected a memorial service in June, likely in Washington. Cummings grew up in Detroit and returned to the family home after her parents died, Coleman said.

Cummings was also a Journal-isms subscriber.

"While its past success rate is poor and its viability is uncertain, television news targeted to African-American viewers is an idea that's being tried — both locally and nationally — once again," according to the headline above an article Tuesday by Diana Marszalek of TVNewsCheck. "WBTV Charlotte, N.C., is producing three hours a day of news that airs on its Bounce network subchannel. Other diginets, including Soul of the South and the Black Television News Channel are also working on daily national newscasts."

This columnist is quoted saying, "Journalists of [color] have gotten their hopes up plenty of times when people announce new ventures, and they have learned that the proof is in the pudding. . . .”

Tom Jacobs, news director of Soul of the South, is also quoted. "Technology has made news production cheaper and quicker, he says. What's more, he adds, 'there are a whole lot of experienced people who have been downsized out of the business, and many are people of color.

" 'I am going to give them a home.' ”

Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, was named Journalist of the Year Friday by the National Association of Black Journalists. He won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

Robin Givhan is rejoining the Washington Post as its fashion critic, the Post announced Tuesday. "The Washington Post is a different news organization than the one she left in 2011 for The Daily Beast," Givhan said in a phone call with PoynterAndrew Beaujon reported Wednesday.

"Joyce Chang started her new job as editor-in-chief of Self on Thursday and wasted no time in shuffling the staff," Keith J. Kelly reported Thursday for the New York Post. He added, "In an embarrassing e-mail gaffe, Condé Nast’s HR department last week thought it was e-mailing to Chang a confidential hit list of people to be fired at Self — and also a wish list of people to be hired from Hearst, Time and elsewhere. But instead of sending the e-mail to Chang, the HR department sent it to a mid-level editor at Hearst’s O, the Oprah Magazine.. . . ."

"CNN cut or reduced 50 positions across multiple divisions on Thursday, changing roles and reducing positions and salaries across the board, a CNN executive told TheWrap," L.A. Ross and Sharon Waxman reported Thursday for The Wrap.

Isaac Lee, president of news for Univision Communications, Inc., and Rob King, senior vice president of SportsCenter and News for ESPN, were among those appointed by the Associated Press board of directors as new board members, AP announced on Wednesday.

"Print and television news outlets can do more to attract journalists of color to the field of political reporting and ensure that a range of perspectives is represented in the White House press corps," several journalists said Monday during a panel discussion, Lauren Kirkwood reported for the McClatchy Washington Bureau. The event was co-hosted by George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs and the White House Correspondents’ Association. "The association, which is celebrating its centennial this year, organized the event as part of a weeklong series leading up to its annual dinner. . . ."

O, The Oprah Magazine won a National Magazine Award in the leisure interests category, Alexandra Steigrad reported Friday for Women's Wear Daily. The American Society of Magazine Editors’ annual gala took place in New York Thursday.

Jacquie Jones, who has served as executive director of National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) since 2005, has stepped down, the consortium announced. It also said, "Leslie Fields-Cruz, the organization’s vice president and director of programming, will step in as NBPC’s interim executive director. . . ."

The Lens blog of the New York Times profiled Benedict J. Fernandez, "a young man without a cause growing up in East Harlem in the 1950s." Andrew Boryga wrote Thursday, "when he tapped into the revolutionary pulse of the 1960s, taking his cue from neighbors, mentors and friends, he took the photographs that earned him the reputation as one of the most influential photojournalists and educators of the last half-century. . . ."

"Addie Whisenant has been named Director of African American Media in the White House Office of Communications. ... [S]he [was] Press Secretary at [HUD], National Spokesperson for the Presidential Inaugural Committee and the Southern Regional Press Secretary for the 2012 Obama-Biden re-election .." Politico's Mike Allen reported Tuesday in his Playbook column. Whisenant succeeds Kevin Lewis, who moved to the Justice Department in January.

"A revised plan for major tobacco companies to purchase court-ordered ads to admit that they deliberately misled the public about the dangers of smoking would add nine White-owned newspapers to the list of publications carrying tobacco 'apology' ads but shut out more than 90 percent of Black newspapers and all Black-owned radio and television stations, according to documents filed in federal court," George E. Curry reported Monday for the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

"Danielle Belton, creator of the popular pop and politics blog BLACKSNOB.COM, is relaunching her blog as DANIELLEBELTON.COM," Belton announced on Monday. She also wrote, "The new DANIELLEBELTON.COM will focus more on Belton's personal views as a socially-conscious, politically-minded, perpetually single comedic writer living with Bipolar Disorder Type II while searching for a healthy work/life balance. The site will cover her wide-ranging opinions on everything from pop to politics to the personal. . . ."

"Mabel Williams, who with her husband Robert F. Williams called for armed self-defense against racist violence in Jim Crow North Carolina and lived in exile in Cuba and China for a time because of it, died on April 19," The Institute for Southern Studies reported April 25. "She was 82. . . .Granted asylum in Cuba, Rob and Mabel Williams started Radio Free Dixie, broadcasting news, music and commentary throughout the eastern United States. They continued to publish The Crusader, an underground newsletter they had launched in Monroe and for which Mabel Williams drew editorial cartoons. . . ."

"When KTLA 5 Morning News anchor Chris Schauble started the journey to find his biological parents, he said he wasn’t sure what to expect," KTLA in Los Angeles reported on April 25. "Six months later, it turned out better than he had ever hoped. After DNA tests, working with a private investigator and dealing with the Florida court system, his journey finally led him to Texas for the reunion of a lifetime. Amid tears of joy, Schauble was finally able to meet his biological mother, who had never given up hope herself: 'I knew the good Lord wouldn’t let me pass from this earth without knowing you were all right' . . ."

Broadcaster and activist Tavis Smiley was to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 24, Malina Saval reported for Variety on April 22.

"Felix Salmon, a prominent writer on finance and other topics who announced this week that he was leaving Reuters, will join the cable network Fusion on Monday in a web-based role that runs across multiple media," Ravi Somaiya reported April 23 for the New York Times.

William “Bill” Blair Jr., 92, "founder of Elite News, a paper that has been part of Dallas' black community for decades," died last month, the Dallas Morning News noted in an April 24 editorial.

Rick Sanchez, former CNN anchor, will host a satirical talk show, his first in Spanish, on Mira TV, a new television network for U.S. Hispanics in Florida, the network announced on April 26. The show is to air Monday through Friday at 10 p.m.

In Orlando, "WFTV-Channel 9 has hired a new weekend anchor, and she's a familiar face: Daralene Jones will return to the station May 27," Hal Boedeker reported Thursday for the Orlando Sentinel. "Jones left the ABC affiliate in December 2012 to become a reporter at WCAU, the NBC-owned station in Philadelphia. . . ."

"A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at The New York Times is a portrait of the most infamous serial plagiarist of our time, and an investigation of the massive scandal he unleashed that rocked not only The New York Times but the entire world of journalism. Produced and directed by Samantha Grant, A Fragile Trust premieres on the PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, May 5, 2014; 10:00-11:30 PM ET on PBS," according to the network.

Unity: Journalists for Diversity has announced a fellowship that will allow one student to attend all five minority journalism association conferences this summer. "UNITY will cover the costs for the student to participate in the student projects of the alliance groups — NAJA, AAJA and NLGJA — as well as partners NABJ and NAHJ," President David Steinberg said Friday, referring to the Native American Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. "The deadline to apply is May 30. The application is here: http://unityjournalists.org/news/unityreportingfellowship2014/"

Adelle M. Banks won awards for the Religion News Service at the Associated Church Press Awards announced at the annual Best of the Christian Press Awards Banquet April 26 in Chicago. Her pieces included "Southern Baptist Convention," "Boy Scouts' policy change" and "Children conceived through rape open new front in abortion culture wars."

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

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