63974109

NPR offices in Washington, D.C.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

NPR Cancels Multicultural "Tell Me More"

NPR said Tuesday it is ending production of "Tell Me More," the multicultural daily magazine hosted by Michel Martin that began in 2007, promising a wider role for Martin and regretting the budget crunch that executives said made the cancellation and other cuts necessary.

NPR is projecting a deficit of $6.1 million in its current fiscal year, or about 3 percent of its projected revenue of $178 million, Paul Farhi wrote this month in the Washington Post. "The gap between revenue and expenses led NPR to offer buyouts to its 840 employees in September, in an effort to pare about 10 percent of its staff," Farhi wrote.

In a note to the NPR staff, Margaret Low Smith, senior vice president for news, said, "All told today, 28 positions will be eliminated. Eight of those positions are vacant. These hard choices are part of a plan that restructures the newsroom for the future.

"As we move forward, our guiding principles are a newsroom that unites our audio and digital storytelling capabilities; sharpens our editorial focus; allows us to create journalism of distinction across multiple platforms; and reflects the diversity of American life. Though we have cut positions, we are also creating new ones and have a number of open jobs. . . ."

NPR issued this statement from Martin:

"I'm so very proud of the work we've all done here at Tell Me More for the past seven years. This outstanding team has reached out to people who would never have had a place on public radio otherwise. We've brought new voices, new ideas and a fresh take on things and we've proven that this can be done without sacrificing excellence. We've also had a lot of fun doing it.

"As you imagine, I’m very disappointed with today's news.

"I hoped we could have found a way to save the show, but NPR news management has assured me that the mission that we've undertaken will continue in new ways and I’m sticking around be a part of making that happen."

Kinsey Wilson, NPR's executive vice president and chief content officer, and Keith Woods, vice president for diversity in news and operations, each told Journal-isms by telephone that Martin would have a greater voice than she does now and that her message and concerns would be carried "across the brand."

"Tell Me More" had an audience of 161,000 in the latest compilations, Wilson said, but appearances by Martin on NPR's "bookend" or "tentpole" shows, "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," would reach 12 or 13 million people a week. Still, Martin would not be in control of those shows, as she is with "Tell Me More."

Woods touted the personal appearances that NPR plans for Martin around the country to discuss issues. Woods quoted Martin as saying, "I'm going off the air and to the people."

Smith said in her memo, "Michel will remain with NPR and the issues and perspectives that she and the show team have brought to public radio will be infused into every aspect of our journalism. To do that, we are creating a new editorial team led by Carline Watson," executive producer of "Tell Me More." "This plan," Smith continued, "means that Michel will reach an even larger audience with an expansive portfolio on air, online and in communities across the country.

"There will be five new positions to support this and other editorial efforts in the newsroom. Michel will begin an ambitious roster of live events in the Fall in partnership with Member Stations. She will also produce regular segments for our news magazines and be incorporated broadly into our daily news coverage in ways that draw on her deep reporting and interviewing experience. This cross-platform effort will extend Michel's voice to new and existing audiences and will add her depth and sensibility to our coverage of relevant topics, including education, families, faith, race and social issues.

"This approach will complement the efforts of the Code Switch team and Michele Norris’s The Race Card Project. We will build close collaboration between the members of these teams and space for their work across our shows and platforms. All these teams will play a pivotal role in crafting our approach.

"Lynette Clemetson will step into a new role as Director of Editorial Initiatives to oversee this transition and tackle other major projects as they emerge. She will work closely with Madhulika Sikka, Scott Montgomery and Chris Turpin to embed this work in the newsroom and to ensure its success. . . ."

"Tell Me More," which will remain on the air until Aug. 1, is an initiative from the African-American Public Radio Consortium, many of whose member stations are at historically black colleges and universities.

NPR had worked with Loretta Rucker, the consortium's director, to launch three weekday shows largely aimed at listeners of color — "The Tavis Smiley Show" in 2002; "News and Notes" in 2005, first with host Ed Gordon and then Farai Chideya; and "Tell Me More," which included Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans as part of its coverage, in 2007.

Wilson and Woods each said he was aware that "News and Notes" and "Tavis Smiley" ended bitterly, with accusations by their hosts that NPR was not serious about programming to people of color.

However, Wilson disclosed that NPR had absorbed the "Code Switch" project into its own budget. That project, which includes the NPR "Code Switch" blog as well as stories reported for the airwaves, was funded in 2012 with a $1.5 million, two-year grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting under which NPR would "launch a major journalism initiative to deepen coverage of race, ethnicity and culture." That grant was an initiative of former NPR President Gary Knell, who considered himself a fan of "Tell Me More."

Since the days of "News and Notes" and "Tavis Smiley," Wilson said, "there has been a profound shift in media" with a move to multiple platforms in addition to radio. He echoed others in saying NPR planned to take advantage of those in Martin's new role.

The plan "is to be sure those issues have voices, those possibilities will be there and that we can reach a large audience," Wilson said.

As for the "Tell Me More" staff, "We'll do our utmost to place everyone on the show."

Sulzberger Says He Should Not Have Promoted Abramson

In an interview with Vanity Fair published on Tuesday, New York Times Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. says that if he had to do it all over again, he would not have promoted Jill Abramson to executive editor in 2011 and instead would have named Dean Baquet, the Washington bureau chief who got the job last week and became the newspaper's first African American in the job.

Sulzberger also told the magazine's Sarah Ellison that one reason he chose Baquet last week was that he felt Baquet was too valuable to lose. "Sulzberger told me that a number of people had come to him, saying that, 'The one person we cannot lose is Dean Baquet,' that it was Baquet who was holding the newsroom together," she wrote.

In 2011, when Executive Editor Bill Keller was stepping down, "Sulzberger faced a choice between selecting Abramson, the paper’s managing editor, who would be the first female top editor of The Times, and Dean Baquet, an assistant managing editor and Washington bureau chief at the paper, who would be the first African-American top editor.

"(Abramson had joined the Times in 1997 from the Wall Street Journal, where she had been an investigative reporter and deputy Washington bureau chief. Baquet had been an investigative reporter at the Times and the top editor at the Los Angeles Times before rejoining the Times in 2007.) The choice was far from easy, and it seemed at the time that the decision — one of the most consequential that falls to a publisher — was one Sulzberger didn’t necessarily want to make. When I asked him if he would have made a different decision if he knew then what he knows now, he looked genuinely bereft, and then conceded the point. 'Of course I would have done it differently,' he said. . . ."

The publisher also responded to accusations that previous top editors at the Times, all male, were abrasive and yet kept their jobs.

"Sure, he said, Abe Rosenthal, who edited the Times through the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, was famously difficult. Rosenthal could also focus simply on gathering and publishing the news. But an editor today, Sulzberger said, has to have a different set of skills. Today’s editor has to have stellar journalistic skills 'as well as managerial skills to be figuring out how to get the data to help us deliver news in a digital age.' During Rosenthal's reign, 'You could make it work. That's no longer true. The standard has to be different.' . . .”

Abramson has become a feminist cause celebre since her firing last week, considered emblematic by some of how women are treated in the workplace. At the same time, the episode has left too many unanswered questions for journalists to ignore.

"A mystery explained," read a caption under a photo of Abramson Monday in New York magazine.

The article, by Jonathan Chait, said, "The New York Times fired Jill Abramson as executive editor only last Wednesday. It took until this weekend for reporters to fully piece together the events that led to her ouster. In the days between, the empty spaces in the narrative were filled by a flood of commentary and debate that used the still-murky circumstances around Abramson as a synecdoche for sexism in American journalism and work life.

"Part of this is an inevitable result of the demands for immediate reaction to which all of us in journalism are subject. Another part is a natural desire for a symmetry of grandeur — the belief that a major event like the unexpected sacking of a pathbreaking New York Times editor must be explainable by a major societal phenomenon like the treatment of women. The result is that the vast majority of commentary that has been written (and probably ever will be written) about the subject lacked the benefit of the facts.

"In case you still haven’t caught up to the latest reporting, perhaps because you may not have spent your weekend following this story, Dylan Byers conveyed the most indispensable fact behind the Abramson saga. (This was published Saturday evening — you weren’t checking Politico?) Arthur Sulzberger Jr. fired Abramson because she mishandled an important personnel matter and, more important, misled him about it. The Times had been wooing Janine Gibson, a well-regarded Guardian editor, for a new managing editor position equal to that of her incumbent managing editor, Dean Baquet. Abramson, according to Byers's reporting, assured Sulzberger that she had run the arrangement by Baquet. She hadn’t. Baquet was furious, had been talking with Bloomberg News, and threatened to leave if Abramson remained.

"We also know now why Sulzberger handled the announcement in such an abrupt, unceremonious manner: Baquet forced him to make an immediate choice. If he dawdled, Sulzberger would lose his heir apparent, whom he had nearly picked for the job in the first place. He initially proposed to float the cover story that she decided to retire, but when she understandably declined to participate in a transparent ruse, he simply dumped her. . . ."

Meanwhile, "In her first public appearance since being fired from The New York Times, Jill Abramson focused on resilience during personal setbacks," Dylan Byers and Hadas Gold wrote Monday for Politico. 

"Abramson, who was dismissed Wednesday as the paper's executive editor, opened her commencement address at Wake Forest University by recounting a conversation she had with her sister the morning after her firing. Her sister, she said, reminded her of a key piece of advice from their father that Abramson then passed on to the graduates: 'You know the sting of losing or not getting something you badly want. When that happens show what you are made of,' she said.

"Abramson's remarks were watched with intense interest throughout the media world to see how she would handle the subject of her dismissal. She did not serve up any specifics regarding the circumstances of her ouster, though she spoke openly about getting fired and her uncertainty about what will come next.

"She cited Anita Hill as someone who turned humiliation into power, bringing up David Brock's quote from his book 'Blinded by the Right' that he was able to make Hill seem 'a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.' "

Hill unsuccessfully accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during Senate hearings to confirm Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. Abramson co-authored a book about the experience. 

This columnist was among the weekend talking heads discussing the Abramson affair, but from the perspective of journalists of color. Richard Prince was with journalist Farai Chideya, who teaches journalism at New York University, on MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry" [video] on Saturday and with Susan Glasser, editor of Politico magazine, on NPR's "Tell Me More" [audio] on Monday. "I think that we're in grave danger here of universalizing one person's experience," this columnist said on "Tell Me More," referring to Abramson's mistakes in her dealings with Sulzberger, the Times publisher.

Journalists and Women's Symposium published an open letter Saturday supporting Abramson and signed by. "Lauren M. Whaley and the rest of the pushy, brusque, stubborn and abrasive journalists of JAWS."  It concluded, "Keep kicking ass." 

Iris Carmon reported for MSNBC, "Each of the network Sunday political talk shows devoted time to the topic, with NBC News' Maria Shriver calling Abramson's firing a 'teachable moment.' . . . "

In his Vanity Fair interview, Sulzberger responded to statements that went unchallenged on NBC's "Meet the Press" that morning.

"First up, he tackled that morning’s appearance on Meet the Press, by former Hewlett-Packard C.E.O. Carly Fiorina, who had been, in Sulzberger’s words, 'rampaging' against The Times," Ellison wrote. "Fiorina had complained that there was 'not a single word' in the newspaper’s announcement of Abramson’s departure 'about her contributions, about her record, about her time at the New York Times.' Sulzberger’s eyes widened in frustration. 'She should read paragraph four,' he said, referring to his faint praise in that passage thanking Abramson for 'not just preserving and extending the excellence of our news report . . . but also for inspiring her colleagues to adjust their approach to how we deliver the news.' . . . "

Amy Alexander, medium.com: Crabs in a Gilded Bucket

Ken Auletta, the New Yorker: Why Jill Abramson was Fired: Part Three

Dylan Byers and Hadas Gold, Politico: Jill Abramson: ‘Show what you are made of’

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Dean Baquet v. Jill Abramson; can black people and women rise together?

Hadas Gold, Politico: Can Dean Baquet save Times Digital?

Tracie Powell, alldigitocracy.org: About Dean Baquet Not Having a College Degree

The Cincinnati Enquirer reduced its news staff by 11, Carolyn Washburn, editor and vice president of news, told Journal-isms on Monday. Tony Jones and Joe Fuqua, two African American photographers, were among the casualties.

"We did have to reduce staff. We have done restructuring and will look next look at priorities and structures in other areas of the operation," Washburn told Journal-isms by email.

Jones messaged, "I am the first photographer of color at the Cincinnati Enquirer, you can let as many people as you please know my situation which is at the current time I'm unemployed and thinking about putting together a book not of the past but things I will be working on now. . . . I'm moving on with my life, and appreciate any help anybody can provide me as I move forward in my career. The funniest thing is I delivered The Enquirer as a kid and used money earned on the paper route to buy a camera."

Carole Simpson, the pioneer television journalist, said over the weekend that she was "very mad" that she was not invited to join the who's who of female broadcasters who surprised Barbara Walters on ABC's "The View" last week on her retirement. 

"I wonder why I wasn't included among the two dozen network newswomen and anchors who feted Barbara Walters at a private party and then on 'The View?' Simpson wrote on Facebook. "We both worked at NBC and ABC at the same times. She is my idol and I believe she knows that. At first I was very sad and now I am very mad. I guess ABC News, after my 24 years there, still considers me persona non grata. The black woman anchor, who had to speak her mind for herself and others, is erased from ABC history. I will say a solo goodbye to Barbara and ABC news can just..."

Jeffrey W. Snyder, a senior vice president and spokesman for ABC News, told Journal-isms by email, "Abc news didn't have a thing to do with the people who were invited. The tribute was produced by the View." Lauri Hogan, publicity director for the ABC Entertainment Group, said on Sunday, "I will be in touch shortly."

Chris Ariens wrote Monday for TVNewser: "Other women who might have been, but weren’t on the show include Christiane Amanpour, Mika Brzezinski, Norah O’Donnell, Andrea Mitchell, Gwen Ifill, and Judy Woodruff."

Gwen Ifill took some ribbing Monday night about the age of the audience for "Washington Week," the Friday night PBS show for which she is moderator and managing editor, and the daily "PBS NewsHour," of which she is managing editor and co-anchors with Judy Woodruff. The occasion was the 20th annual roast of the American News Women's Club, held at the National Press Club.

ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz pronounced herself and Ifill "girlfriends all the way," calling herself a "61-year-old grandmother, just like Gwen's target audience." John Harwood of the New York Times, a frequent "Washington Week" panelist, called Ifill "the Queen Latifah of political journalism."

John Dickerson, another "Washington Week" guest, noted that he had to tread carefully. "You don't want to be so funny at somebody's expense that they don't invite you back on "Washington Week." He described how the show's fans often tell him how wonderful Ifill was and give him a crocheted hat to pass along to her.

"That's true," Ifill said as she sat on the dais.

Ray Suarez, who left the "NewsHour" this year for Al Jazeera America, related how viewers who spotted the two together on the street, would say, "Hey, you're that other guy. Could you take me and Gwen's picture?" Suarez said that a book of the "NewsHour's" history would be the first book ever published only in a large-print edition. At news meetings, the two "supplied most of the melanin in the room," Suarez said.

When it was her turn, Ifill shot back at Suarez and his new employer, saying to a surprised "oooo" from the audience, "by the way, we have an older audience, but we have an audience."

Other roasters included Dorothy Gilliam, retired Washington Post columnist and board member and co-founder of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, and Eleanor Clift, longtime Newsweek correspondent who now covers politics for the Daily Beast.

In more serious comments, Gilliam called Ifill "one of the most successful newswomen in American history," and Ifill took note that "in these days when we talk about work and women and journalism, we know that there are people who are just getting on with the work and doing it."

Karen James Cody, co-chair of the event, said 125 people were in attendance.

Coppins wrote that the strategy has not been cohesive, but cited two examples: Responding to a Twitter feed from Jamilah Lemieux, an Ebony.com editor who misidentified a black RNC staffer as white, and the RNC calling out MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry "after guests on her show made fun of a Romney family photo featuring Mitt's black adopted grandson.

"RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer later said their decision to escalate the flap with Ebony was meant to show black voters that Republicans took their votes seriously," Coppins wrote. " 'This was not meant to be provocative,' Spicer told BuzzFeed. 'What this was really about was letting the readers of a very prominent African-American magazine know the Republican Party is fighting for their vote.' The message may have been lost in translation: In the days immediately following Ebony's apology, more than 20,000 tweets were posted by Lemieux's supporters carrying the hashtag #StandWithJamilah."

Coppins also wrote, "When MSNBC tweeted a crack earlier this year about how 'the rightwing' would hate a commercial featuring a biracial family, [RNC Chairman Reince] Priebus announced that the RNC would boycott the network until they apologized. By the end of the day, MSNBC’s CEO had fired the staffer responsible for the tweet, and asked the party for its forgiveness. . . . 

"Spicer said part of the purpose of all this goading is to illustrate how the political biases of community gatekeepers often prevent Republicans from reaching voters of color.

" 'If you open certain publications, you might say, "I never see anything about Republicans," ' Spicer said. 'Well, in a lot of cases, it's not for lack of trying. It's because they don't want to highlight the work we're doing. The ultimate win for us is that we create a dialogue where readers of that publication see more conservative thought and opinion and ideas and understand how many people in their community share those ideas.' . . ."

Greg Carr, chair of Howard University's Afro-American studies department, is quoted saying the strategy is wrongheaded.

"As with any American political party apparatus, the RNC is in the business of winning elections and advancing their political agenda," Carr said in the story. "I think asking Ebony magazine or a black host on MSNBC to apologize would resonate with their party base long before it would do anything other than reinforce their image as a party hostile to non-whites. . . ."

Joshua Green, BloombergBusinessweek: The Tea Party Gets Into the News Biz (May 8)

Alan Greenblatt, NPR "Code Switch": Race Alone Doesn't Explain Hatred Of Obama, But It's Part Of The Mix (May 13)

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: The cloud of Benghazi (May 7)

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Republicans' political theater on Benghazi (May 12)

Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: Benghazi seems to be Republicans’ only fallback position (May 14)

The Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly the National Conference of Editorial Writers, annually grants a Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship — actually an award — "in recognition of an educator's outstanding efforts to encourage minority students in the field of journalism." The educator should be at the college level.

Nominations, now being accepted for the 2014 award, should consist of a statement about why you believe your nominee is deserving.

The final selection will be made by the AOJ Foundation board and announced in time for the Sept. 21-23 convention in Mobile, Ala., where the presentation will be made.

Since 2000, the recipient has been awarded an honorarium of $1,000 to be used to "further work in progress or begin a new project."

Past winners include James Hawkins, Florida A&M University (1990); Larry Kaggwa, Howard University (1992); Ben Holman, University of Maryland (1996); Linda Jones, Roosevelt University, Chicago (1998); Ramon Chavez, University of Colorado, Boulder (1999); Erna Smith, San Francisco State (2000); Joseph Selden, Penn State (2001); Cheryl Smith, Paul Quinn College (2002); Rose Richard, Marquette University (2003); Leara D. Rhodes, University of Georgia (2004); Denny McAuliffe, University of Montana (2005); Pearl Stewart, Black College Wire (2006); Valerie White, Florida A&M University (2007); Phillip Dixon, Howard University (2008); Bruce DePyssler, North Carolina Central University (2009); Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia University (2010); Yvonne Latty, New York University (2011); Michelle Johnson, Boston University (2012); and Vanessa Shelton, University of Iowa (2013).

Nominations may be emailed to Richard Prince, AOJ Diversity Committee chair, richardprince (at) hotmail.com. The deadline is May 23. Please use that address only for AOJ matters.

CNN anchor Michaela Pereira is the recipient of the 2014 Angelo Henderson Community Service Award, the National Association of Black Journalists announced on Monday. "Spurred in part by her upbringing as one of five adopted children, Pereira has a special place in her heart for children," the announcement said. "She has served as chairwoman of the board of LA's BEST Friends, an after school education, enrichment, and recreation program, as a member of the board of directors for the [Boys & Girls Club of Long Beach], as an advisory board member for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), supporting children in foster care, and as an honorary advisory board member for Optimist Youth Home, which provides services for troubled youth. . . ."

The National Puerto Rican Day Parade, scheduled to march up New York's Fifth Avenue on June 8, plans to honor media figures Elaine Rivera and Ibrahim González among Puerto Ricans who have died in the last year, organizers said Monday. Rivera, a teacher of journalism at Lehman College in New York and a veteran of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, New York Newsday, El Diario/La Prensa, Time magazine, the Washington Post and New York's WNYC-FM, was found dead in October. González, who hosted two shows on WBAI-FM, died in June.

Anchor "Norman Robinson is retiring from WDSU, the NBC affiliate in New Orleans. His final broadcast will be May 30," Merrill Knox reported Monday for TVNSpy. Knox also wrote, "Robinson has worked at WDSU since 1990. Last year, he scaled back his duties, stepping away from the 10 p.m. anchor desk but continuing to anchor the 6 p.m. newscast. . . ."

"Free speech, or more broadly, freedom of thought, is the foundation of modern India, a foundation that has been slowly crumbling for some time," Thane Richards wrote Monday for Quartz. "This crumbling accelerated alarmingly during the elections. 'Free' speech now needs to come with an asterisk in India that reads, 'free, so long as you agree.' " Based on precedent, the resounding victory by Narendra Modi in India's elections "has the potential to dismantle this freedom completely, a worry many journalists have shared in hushed voices amongst themselves. . . ."

"Democracy Now!" which airs on Pacifica radio and other outlets, devoted its hour Monday to William Worthy, the black journalist who died at 92 this month, under the headline, " 'The Most Important Journalist You've Never Heard Of': Remembering William Worthy (1921-2014)." (audio)

"Evy Ramos has been named anchor for San Antonio NBC affiliate WOAI," Kevin Eck reported Monday for TVSpy. "She will co anchor the 6:00, 6:30 and 10:00 p.m. news with Randy Beamer. . . . Ramos left Fresno CBS affiliate KGPE last month. . . ."

A Peabody award for the National Black Programming Consortium television series "180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School," was to be accepted Monday night at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel by Rufus McDowney, a student at Washington's Ballou Senior High School "who battled negative influences, delinquency, the death of his mother and a subsequent displacement," publicist Cheryl L. Duncan said. Downey "is happily set to graduate next month against all odds. . . ."  He plans to study criminal justice at the University of the District of Columbia.

At Penn State, "Marie Hardin, associate dean for undergraduate and graduate education and professor of journalism in the College of Communications, has been appointed dean of the college, following a national search," the school announced on Friday. The announcement also said, "Hardin's research focuses on issues of diversity, ethics and professionalism in sports journalism. . . ."

"The remains of the South African short story writer, journalist and activist Nat Nakasa might soon be returned to our shores," Jean Huisman reported Monday for Times Live in South Africa. "Nakasa left South Africa on an exit visa in 1964 after being awarded a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism at Harvard University, in the US. The apartheid government denied his application for a passport so he knew that his decision to leave meant that he would not be able to return to his home country. Effectively exiled, Nakasa described himself as a 'citizen of nowhere'. But he grew increasingly depressed and isolated, and committed suicide by jumping out of the seventh-floor window of a building in New York in July 1965. He was 28. . . ."

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

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.