Stephen A. Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer leaves his post, Comcast pledges more Hispanic programming and Kagan welcomes cameras into the courtroom. Plus, other happenings in journalism and the publising industry.
End of Strained Relationship Means "Sky's the Limit"
"I'm as happy as I've been for a long time," Smith told Journal-isms on Wednesday. "I get to do what I really want to do. Anything's possible. The sky's the limit."
Bill Marimow, editor of the Inquirer, said in his own statement, "Stephen made a major contribution to The Inquirer during his 15½ years at the newspaper, and we wish him well in his future work." He did not return a call seeking further comment.
Marimow fired Smith, the highest paid employee in the Inquirer newsroom, in 2007, precipitating a two-year tug of war involving The Newspaper Guild, arbitrations and high-powered lawyers at the ready. Marimow testified at an arbitration hearing that he thought Smith was making too much money given the layoffs taking place at the paper.
So Marimow demoted Smith, who had branched into radio and television, from columnist to general assignment reporter. When Smith refused the new assignment, he was fired. Smith and the guild took the demotion to arbitration and won, but the Inquirer still did not take him back.
The columnist returned to the paper in February only after agreeing to the Inquirer's demand that he remove political opinions from his website and agree to stop espousing them on cable news shows. Smith and the guild decided to leave the fairness of that restriction to arbitrators.
Did he and Marimow finally come to terms? "Yes, we have," Smith told Journal-isms. "He's happy; I'm happy. We're moving upward and forward."
Smith has continued his broadcast appearances, guesting recently on ABC's "The View" and hosting the morning drive-time show he began in January on Fox Sports Radio.
As reported last week, Smith is in preliminary talks with the Showtime cable network to host a late-night program.
"I'd sincerely like to take a moment to thank the Philadelphia Inquirer for 15½ mostly wonderful years," Smith said in a statement. "I can honestly say I would not be where I am today, nor would I have been able to achieve the things I achieved, had it not been for the wonderful opportunity granted to me back in 1994.
"But all things must come to an end. At some point, it's necessary to move on and explore new, adventurous opportunities, which is precisely what I'm doing and I'm incredibly excited about.
"Still, I'd like to acknowledge the tremendous level of gratitude I feel for the opportunity afforded to me. I wish the paper well for the future, as I'm certain they will do for me."
[There will be no "goodbye" column, Michael Klein reported on the Inquirer website.]
Surprise at Spy Charge Against El Diario Columnist
"Vicky Pelaez was not one to pull punches," Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, Shawn Cohen and Jonathan Bandler wrote for the Journal News of White Plains, N.Y., on Wednesday.
"The fiery activist and columnist for the Spanish-language El Diario newspaper railed against Arizona's controversial immigration law and U.S. human rights abuses, and once likened the nation's jail system to slavery.
"The Yonkers resident was a featured speaker at a May Day rally at Union Square Park in New York City, and was as politically passionate with friends as she was in print.
"Nothing, however, prepared friends and colleagues for the federal complaint filed this week against Pelaez and her husband, Juan Lazaro, who taught political science at Baruch College, in New York City.
"The Yonkers couple were among 10 people charged as part of an alleged spy ring that investigators said had been selling information to Russia.
"'I can't believe it,' said freelance journalist Lilliana Bringa, a close friend of Pelaez's. 'When I heard, I went right to El Diario to hear from the editor if it was true."
In the New York Daily News, columnist Juan Gonzalez wrote, "Of the accused Russian spies the FBI nabbed this week, none surprised more people than Spanish-language journalist Vicky Pelaez.
"The others, after all, even Pelaez's husband, Juan Lazaro, were obscure figures."
Mary Zerafa, a spokeswoman for ImpreMedia, the Spanish-language media company that owns El Diaro, told Journal-isms that the company had no statements to make about Pelaez and that El Diario was covering the story as it covers others.
"Gerson Borrero, a columnist and former editor-in-chief of the paper, wrote (in Spanish) that Pelaez was fearless and outspoken but never wrote about Russia or the former Soviet bloc," Ben Smith reported in Politico.
" 'I am as surprised and perplexed by the [charges] of Russian espionage as everyone else. But I confess that when I learned of them, I laughed aloud,' he writes, going on to attack the FBI as 'discredited' since the days of J. Edgar Hoover."
On New York's WNYC Radio, a host asked reporter Marianne McCune what people who know Pelaez were saying.
"Many are in total disbelief. A court reporter there, Candida Portugues, says she's been working with Pelaez for seven years, and admires her work, admires that she speaks frankly about what she believes. And you could hear in our phone conversation how blown away she is by this arrest. . . .
"Portugues said she agreed to talk to me because she's afraid no one will take it upon themselves to stand up for Pelaez. She says she is a serious journalist, a lover of painting — she takes painting classes two or three nights a week — and a very involved mother. Her younger son is a pianist."
- Dina Temple-Raston, National Public Radio: Alleged Russian Spy Saga Fuels Intrigue
N.Y. Times Wants "Newsroom That Knows America"
In light of Monday's report in this space that this year's New York Times summer interns include no African Americans, Abbe Serphos, director of public relations for the New York Times Co., forwarded these remarks about diversity delivered by Times Executive Editor Bill Keller to his newsroom in staff meetings on June 3:
"Our preoccupation with the business of journalism in recent years has meant that some important subjects have been crowded to the periphery of these meetings. One of them is diversity.
"There was some worry, based on the experience of other news organizations, that the two rounds of staff cuts and a virtual hiring freeze might represent a setback for diversity. Thankfully that was not the case if you look at the big picture. In overall numbers, our minority representation — a little over 18 percent — is as high as it has ever been. But that number disguises a serious problem: The representation of African-Americans in American journalism — and especially in the upper ranks — continues to be a serious rebuke to the industry's professed commitment to diversity. While the numbers of Asian-Americans and Latinos at The Times have grown, the number of African-Americans has declined — a trend that holds true across the industry, according to the tracking of the ASNE and NABJ.
"I’ve said in the past that diversity is not simply about addressing legal and historical imbalances, or assuaging liberal guilt, or juggling numbers. It is not mainly about being morally right or politically correct. The point is not, as Bill Clinton once said of his cabinet, that we want a newsroom that looks like America. The point is, we want a newsroom that knows America, in all of its variety, from firsthand experience. In other words, The Times needs a staff diverse enough to speak not only to the Washington foreign policy establishment and the political leadership in Albany, but fluent in the cultures of all of America's communities, Latino and Asian, black and white, rural and urban, military and civilian, devout believer and skeptic, so that we can reproduce those voices with as much fidelity as possible. That imperative — that journalistic imperative — has only grown as the country itself has become more diverse.
"We have to do better.
"There are some factors that make it harder.
"When the newsroom normally hired 50 or 60 people a year, we could actually make a recruiting and hiring plan, and move the needle on diversity. Now we hire only very rarely, generally for jobs we can’t fill from within or because we have a chance to poach an extraordinary talent from a competitor. The outside hiring is ad hoc, and it’s harder to develop a strategy. Moreover, a good deal of our hiring is for technical specialties, especially in new media, where African-Americans are grossly under-represented. Among the handful of people we have hired since the first of the year, we have added no minorities to our staff.
"Again, we have to do better.
''Dana Canedy now chairs a group, including Jill, John, Bill Schmidt and Susan Edgerley, that is focusing on several aspects of diversity. One is tracking some of our more talented editors and reporters of color to ensure their career development. I will not get into specific names, but there will be several announcements in the coming days and weeks that, I hope, will show you this effort is bearing fruit. [The references are to Senior Editor Canedy; Jill Abramson and John M. Geddes, who are managing editors; Deputy Managing Editor William E. Schmidt and Assistant Managing Editor Edgerley.]
"Second, since we have not been doing much hiring in the last year or so, our recruiting and hiring pipeline has gone pretty dry. So Dana is now involved in a project, with the full support of senior management, to entirely rethink and rebuild that structure to ensure, among other things, that when we DO have the opportunity to hire, we will be hiring from the most talented and most diverse pool of candidates possible. Given the state of the industry, there is a lot of talent out there, looking for a new home. If people on our staff are aware of great candidates — particularly candidates of color — they should share their names with us, and make sure we have them on our radar.
"It’s important that The Times continues to be an industry leader, as far as reaching out to communities of color in an effort to develop journalistic talent, and not just for The Times. At the end of May, we wrapped up our eighth institute in New Orleans for young African-American journalists, a program that brings in college students from across the nation, including a cohort from the historically black colleges mostly in the South, for a two-week long hands-on session, producing a two-section newspaper and a daily website. Don Hecker, who runs the program, tells me that since it began in 2003, more than 305 young people [have] been trained by a group of faculty drawn from our staff, and the staffs of The [Boston] Globe and the regional newspapers as well. Many of them now work at websites and newspapers across the country, including more than a dozen who have been employed within The Times family. And in January, we also do a similar program for Latino college students, alternating each year between Miami and Tucson.
"I thank the many of you who have participated in these training sessions, and I solicit your ideas for how we do better."
NBC, Comcast Pledge More Hispanic Programming, Hiring
"Comcast and NBC Universal are agreeing to step up Hispanic programming and hiring as part of an agreement to help win Hispanic groups OK of their $30 billion deal," Ira Teinowitz reported Wednesday for theWrap.com.
"Comcast has come in for criticism for underrepresentation of Hispanics on its board, while NBCU has drawn criticism for not having enough Hispanic execs.
"The agreement was announced Wednesday with the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, the Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility and the National Hispanic Media Coalition. Some of the groups have previously questioned the deal."
Among the additions to previously announced concessions:
- "NBCU is committed to increasing news and information choices for Hispanic viewers, including a plan to work with an independent producer on a weekly business news program.
- "Comcast will add a Hispanic to its corporate board within two years."
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists opposes the merger. "Companies like Comcast and NBC may try to sell us on why consolidation will benefit our community. But we know better. It never happens once the deal is done. Instead, Latino journalists are laid off and our community continues to be marginalized in news coverage," Ivan Roman, NAHJ's executive director, said in April.
Kagan Reiterates Support for Cameras at Supreme Court
"You want forthcoming? Well, the Kagan hearings so far haven’t mimicked the confessional tone of MTV’s 'The Hills,' but they’ve revealed a bit more than did last year’s hearings involving Sonia Sotomayor," Nathan Koppel wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the Supreme Court nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan.
"For starters, Kagan Tuesday morning didn’t hedge when asked her opinion of cameras in the courtroom. 'I think it would be a great thing for the institution and for the American people' to have cameras, she said, adding 'I’m open to being persuaded I’m wrong.' Wow. A far cry from David Souter’s cameras 'over my dead body' proclamation."
In a C-SPAN poll on the Supreme Court [PDF], 63 percent of voters said they support television camera coverage of the court’s oral arguments.
- Adrienne T. Washington, Afro-American Newspapers: Giving Kagan a Second Thought
- Tonyaa Weathersbee, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Trashing an Icon? No Big Deal
Clarence Thomas Gives Voice to Black Gun-Rights Backers
In 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that her black minister father "and his friends armed themselves to defended the black community in Birmingham, Ala., against the White Knight Riders in 1962 and 1963. She said if local authorities had had lists of registered weapons, she did not think her father and other blacks would have been able to defend themselves," Barry Schweid of the Associated Press reported then.
Some African Americans have long been in favor of gun rights, but it was not until Monday's Supreme Court decision about gun rights in Chicago, in which a 5-to-4 vote gave Otis McDonald, a 76-year-old black man the right to buy a handgun, that African Americans who oppose gun control received much media attention.
"He hardly ever speaks during oral arguments, often appearing asleep on the bench. But in his written opinion Monday supporting the right to bear arms, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas roared to life.
"Referring to the disarming of blacks during the post-Reconstruction era, Thomas wrote: 'It was the "duty" of white citizen patrols to search negro houses and other suspected places for firearms.' If they found any firearms, the patrols were to take the offending slave or free black 'to the nearest justice of the peace' whereupon he would be 'severely punished.' " Never again, Thomas says.
"In a scorcher of an opinion that reads like a mix of black history lesson and Black Panther Party manifesto, he goes on to say, 'Militias such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the White Camellia, the White Brotherhood, the Pale Faces and the '76 Association spread terror among blacks. . . . The use of firearms for self-defense was often the only way black citizens could protect themselves from mob violence.'
"This was no muttering from an Uncle Tom, as many black people have accused him of being. His advocacy for black self-defense "is straight from the heart of Malcolm X. He even cites the slave revolts led by Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner -- implying that white America has long wanted to take guns away from black people out of fear that they would seek revenge for centuries of racial oppression."
NY's disgraced former governor to take the anchor chair; meanwhile, mainstream cable TV news has no anchors of color in prime time.
Two days after CNN hired disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer to co-host a new prime-time program, the National Association of Black Journalists Friday blasted the cable news networks for their failure to place African American hosts in such prime-time slots.
"The company missed another opportunity to place a person of color in prime time," NABJ said in a statement. "It just seems that cable news can never find diverse candidates who are good enough to meet their standards. We want to know your standards.
"Are you telling us that CNN could find no one better than an ex-politician who quit being New York governor after consorting with prostitutes to grace America’s living rooms each night?
"CNN does have Tony Harris anchoring in the morning, and [Fredricka] Whitfield, T.J. Holmes, and Don Lemon on the weekends. But that’s not prime time. The same can be said about MSNBC which last week named veteran Lawrence O’Donnell as the anchor of its new 10 p.m. show."
CNN announced Wednesday that Spitzer and Kathleen Parker, a white conservative columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group, "will co-host a spirited, nightly roundtable discussion program on CNN/U.S.," filling the 8 p.m. Eastern slot to be vacated by Campbell Brown.
The CNN announcement prompted a story Thursday by Rachel Sklar in the online magazine the Daily Beast, "The Unbearable Whiteness of Cable."
"CNN just announced two new hosts for the 8 p.m. prime time hour recently vacated by Campbell Brown: Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker," Sklar began. "Last week, MSNBC announced that the new host for its 10 p.m. prime time show would be network staple Lawrence O’Donnell. What do these three people have in common (and thankfully for O’Donnell and Parker, it’s not being caught with your socks down with a prostitute)? Pretty obvious: They’re white.
"They’re white like Chris Matthews is white, like Bill O’Reilly is white and Keith Olbermann is white, like Wolf Blitzer is white and Megyn Kelly is white and John King is white and Ed Schultz, Greta Van Susteren, Jake Tapper, Joe Scarborough, Bob Schieffer, David Gregory, Chris Wallace, Rachel Maddow, and Dylan Ratigan are white, not unlike the lion’s share of their guests."
The Daily Beast piece is not without its own irony: The Daily Beast has so far refused to disclose the diversity of its own staff, which appears to be almost as white as the prime-time lineups the piece criticizes. Daily Beast spokesman Andrew Kirk dodged the question again when Journal-isms asked about the site's diversity on Friday.
Journal-isms asked the three cable news networks for their response to Sklar's article. Fox News Channel did not respond. MSNBC's Alana Russo said, "We don't have any comment on Rachel's piece."
CNN said through a spokeswoman:
"CNN has incorporated diversity into all aspects of its coverage, including on-air talent and those behind the scenes. From our correspondents at the White House, on Capitol Hill, and at the Pentagon; to CNN Newsroom to our Sunday morning programming with Candy Crowley and Fareed Zakaria, CNN's programming reflects our commitment to diversity. Like all our shows, the new 8 pm program will have a rotating panel of diverse guests.
"In addition, the network's commitment is demonstrated by this year's investment in a fully resourced production team, CNN's IN AMERICA unit, that is building upon our long-term record of success in covering communities of color and diversity in terms of culture and perspectives."
NABJ gave CNN its "Best Practices" award during its 2007 convention in Las Vegas. This year the award is going to MSNBC's siblings, NBC News and NBC's local TV stations.
David Bauder of the Associated Press quoted CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein on Thursday:
"Klein said CNN had considered scores of different personalities for the time slot but Spitzer and Parker stood out as iconoclasts. CNN arranged a meeting between the two about three weeks ago and was impressed by 'an organic chemistry' between them, he said.
In an interview published Wednesday with Dylan Stableford of theWrap.com, Klein said of Spitzer:
"I think any baggage any viewers have about him will be washed away when they see the show. It’s going to be intelligent conversation between two adults, both of whom are free of vested interests, beholden to no one. They are renowned for it."
In its statement, NABJ quoted CBS anchor Russ Mitchell speaking in Ebony magazine. "Mitchell told Ebony 'I've been to journalism conferences over and over again, and heard some executive say "I'd like to hire more African-Americans, but I just can't find any qualified ones out there." That was b.s. then, and that's b.s. now.' NABJ couldn’t agree more."
*Editorial, Journal-News, White Plains, N.Y.: Spitzer undeserving of CNN show
*Editorial, Syracuse (N.Y.) Post-Standard: Is Spitzer ready for prime time?
Black women were told they couldn't wear braids, cornrows or locs.
It was near the end of the "Blogging While Brown" conference on Saturday when a woman in the Air Force stepped to the microphone to tell the group that she blogged about natural hair and that there were "so many restrictions" on it in the military. If you have "relaxed" hair, she said, a new rule says one can't have two inches of new growth showing.
Black women were told they couldn't wear braids, cornrows or locs. "It's like singling us out," she said.
"I'm here because I don't know what to do."
Given that it was a conference of bloggers and the room was equipped for wireless, the twitterverse lit up.
"Makes me wonder what other indignities black military endure but does not complain about? #bwb," read one tweet, using the "bwb" "hashtag" for the conference.
Another wrote, "So apparently, the military has banned women from having more than 2 inches of new growth. The whole room just went 'WTF?!?' #bwb"
The founder and executive director of the conference committee, Gina McCauley, was reassuring. "You're not alone. You have a sisterhood of bloggers," she told the military woman. McCauley also gave out the Web address of a site with information on how to blog anonymously.
The Air Force attendee — who was wearing civilian clothes — was in the right place. The 206 official registrants for the third annual Blogging While Brown conference, held at Washington's Walter E. Washington Convention Center, were mostly other women, mostly black, less interested in looking like the latest hair-weaved video star than concerned about making a difference.
"To see so many women with natural hair here," marveled Patrice Yursik of the blog Afrobella, which is devoted to the topic. "Not to mention natural hair blogs. There seems to be an explosion of that." Sitting next to Baratunde Thurston of jackandjillpolitics.com (and formerly of the Onion, the satirical newspaper and website), and Lola Adesioye of Britain's Guardian, formerly of the New York Times and CNN, Yursik announced that as of July 1 she was launching a broadcast counterpart, Afrobella Radio.
That was just one panel. Also represented were blogs such as Racialicious and blackWeb2.0, Scott Hanselman of "Ways to Make Your Blog Suck Less," Facebook, Comcast, Afronetizen, the Federal Trade Commission and former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, among others. They served up expertise and inspiration. "Don't let your job interfere with your career," a quote from panelist Anil Dash, was a popular retweet.
McCauley reminded the audience that it was the black blogosphere that helped keep alive indignation about the racially charged beatings in Jena, La., in 2007, until the issue became a cause and caught the attention of the mainstream media.
One panel followed up that thought with lesser examples of black-blogger activism: Creating an AIDS-awareness campaign called the Red Pump Project, whose ideas were picked up by the Centers for Disease Control; monitoring a Hollywood that rewrote Asian, black or brown characters into white ones; or conversely, raising the idea that the next screen Spiderman did not have to be white.
In the eyes of McCauley, an Austin, Texas, lawyer, African Americans who blog don't get enough respect. She showed a clip of a blogger being honored by Rush Limbaugh at February's Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. "When was the last time a blogger got an award from the NAACP or the Urban League, even by an intern?" she asked.
Nevertheless, Curt Johnson of the NAACP, his organization ridiculed by tweet after McCauley's comment, stepped up to the microphone to announce his presence and support. ("i stand corrected - rep from @naacp comms dept is here at #bwb. (tiny digital applause) --> lol, fair enough," tweeted one attendee.)
Corey A. Ealons, who coordinates African American media outreach for the White House, arranged for the crowd to meet in the Executive Office Building Friday with Melody Barnes, head of the Domestic Policy Council, and himself. He told the group that the White House was working on how best to get its message out "so it is easily digestible" on the Web, and that he viewed theirs as an ongoing conversation.
"Social media should be used to get the word *in,*Dash, of Expert Labs and of Indian background, said on another panel. "Sending input to the White House."
J. Jioni Palmer, communications director for the Congressional Black Caucus, did not fare as well. After explaining that he had more than 40 members to represent and thus did not see how he could tweet messages that would satisfy all of them, Palmer was ridiculed: "Comm Dir of Congressional Black Caucus is defending his cluelessness about twitter to crowd of black tweeters - incredible #bwb."
But he delivered some truth-telling: "I've been burned by bloggers more than by traditional reporters," he also said.
Though the day saw little of the us-against-them posturing that once routinely marked bloggers' mentions of the "mainstream media," Palmer's remark pointed out that there are still stark differences in training and background between the two.
On Monday, an Air Force spokeswoman was asked for details about the change in guidelines about black hairstyles.
"For your clarification:" Maj. Cristin L. Marposon, USAF, said in an e-mailed response.
"The Air Force has not issued new guidelines for African American women's hair. The Air Force does not establish appearance guidelines based on an individual's ethnicity."
The woman who raised the issue at the conference stood by her statement, but said the directive against braids and cornrows, proposed about 2005, was never implemented after an uproar. "what i was saying is reality," she wrote to Journal-isms. "A lot of it is at the discretion of your supervisor. If they feel like your hair is 'faddish' or it does not look within regulations then you will be told to change it or face the consequences.
"A lot of the people that are making the decisions don't understand our hair. It's not a fad, it's not something that can be just slicked back and everything is alright depending on our texture."
What will the bloggers do about that?
Blogging While Brown: Blogs Represented at Blogging While Brown 2010
Bobbi Bowman, Maynard Institute: To reach future audience, ONA and minority journalists must unite [October 2009]
Danielle Lee, Urban Science Adventures: Travelogue: Blogging While Brown - recap #1
Scott Hanselman, Computerzen.com: 32 Ways to Keep Your Blog from Sucking
TheRoot.com: Worth Obsessing Over: Our Favorite Blogs
Baratunde Thurston blog: June 18, 2010
Black magazines' ad revenues were hit hard in the first quarter of 2010. But Essence has reported the smallest decline. Are things looking up for the black women's mag?
"Consumer magazine publishers have desperately been trying to scratch a profit from any amount of advertising dollars they can get their hands on, especially since the economic recession last year.
"One group that was hit particularly hard in the marketing pullback was African-American magazines," Jason Fell wrote Thursday for Folio.
According to the Publishers Information Bureau, "Black Enterprise, Ebony, Essence and Jet were down a collective 18 percent in ad pages through the first quarter — about double the industry average. Ad pages slipped 8.2 percent at Black Enterprise while Johnson Publishing’s Ebony and Jet saw dramatic declines of 30.6 percent and 33.1 percent respectively (Johnson points out, however, that Ebony and Jet both published one fewer issue during the quarter compared to last year).
"Time Inc.’s Essence, meanwhile, reported the smallest decline: -0.3 percent. Since then the magazine been taking advantage of the ad rebound, and says ad pages have been on the rise since its March issue. The magazine estimates that ad pages were up 31 percent for May, 14 percent for July and 21 percent so far for August. On the digital side, online ad revenues are up 32 percent during the first half of 2010 . . .
“ 'Beauty, retail, food and pharmaceutical are resilient categories for Essence,' Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications, tells FOLIO: 'In addition, Ford has emerged as a powerful partner, having supported our signature red carpet programs such as ‘Black Women in Music’ and ‘Black Women in Hollywood.'
“'We’re reaching new consumers online and with our live events such as the Essence Music Festival,' Ebanks says. “We have been successful at converting these audiences to subscribers.' "
Lakers' Victory Game Grabs Top NBA Ratings Since '98
"The highly competitive Game 7 of the NBA Finals dunked an 18.2 overnight rating Thursday night, the best performance for an NBA game since 1998 when Michael Jordan was leading the Chicago Bulls over the Utah Jazz," Mike Reynolds reported Friday for Multichannel News.
"The June 17 telecast of Game 7, in which the Los Angeles Lakers edged the Boston Celtics 83-79 to retain their crown and Kobe Bryant was named series MVP, was the highest-rated NBA Finals game ever on ABC, eclipsing the 15.5 overnight mark for Game 5 of the 2004 Finals between the Lakers and Detroit Pistons. (ABC overnight records date back to 2003.)"
The NBA playoffs and then the finals consistently drew high numbers, especially among African Americans. For the week of June 7-13, the Nielsen Co. reported that overall, the games held the top three ratings positions, as they also did among African American and Latino viewers.
But during the week of April 26-May 2, during the playoffs, 11 of the 16 top cable shows watched by African Americans were NBA-related, Nielsen reported. Among Hispanics, only four ranked in the top 16 on English-language cable that week. Turner Network Television carried the playoffs.
Bryan Burwell, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: ‘King’ James hasn’t begun to match Kobe
Terence Moore, AOL Fanhouse: Kobe's the Best Right Now, but Not Ever
Shaun Powell, NBA.com: Hardly pretty, but title No. 16 plenty sweet for Lakers
Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press: Historical perspective needed in NBA's 'best ever' debate [June 20]
Michael Wilbon, Washington Post: On Kobe's legacy
Former police officer David Warren denies claims that he knowingly fired the shot that killed Henry Glover. How much of the story remains untold?
"Former New Orleans police Officer David Warren had claimed not to know if he hit anybody when he fired a shot with an assault rifle four days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall," the New Orleans Times-Picayune editorialized on Monday."Given Mr. Warren's award-winning marksmanship, his claim was never believable," it continued. "Friday federal prosecutors accused the former officer of needlessly killing Henry Glover.
"In announcing the indictments against Mr. Warren Friday, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten also announced indictments against two officers accused of setting Mr. Glover's body on fire and two other officers accused of obstructing the investigation into Mr. Glover's death. One can't read the indictments without feeling outrage over what was done to Mr. Glover."
As the New York Times noted, "The circumstances surrounding Mr. Glover's death were first reported in late 2008 in an article that was a collaboration by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute and the nonprofit investigative news service Pro Publica."
But on Friday, the key member of that collaboration, A.C. Thompson, wrote that the whole story has still not been told.
"When I began investigating the mysterious death of Henry Glover, one of the most notable aspects of the case was the lack of documents," Thompson wrote.
"Here was a New Orleans resident found incinerated in a car just a few hundred feet from a police station in September 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Yet there was no sign that anyone in authority had ever conducted any sort of investigation. The New Orleans Police Department told me in 2008 that they knew absolutely nothing about Glover's demise.
"Today's indictment suggests that was not true. The 11-count indictment accuses police officers of shooting Glover and torching his corpse, physically attacking his brother and another man, and then attempting to conceal it all.
"What's most striking about the charging documents is what they do not address: the extraordinary number of officers in the department who were likely aware of these events as they unfolded. ... Numerous -- possibly dozens -- of other officers were likely present at the site of the alleged beatings."
The indictments are not the only legal action. "Charlene Green, the mother of Glover's child, filed a wrongful death suit this week on behalf of her teenaged son, Henry Glover Jr.," columnist Jarvis deBerry wrote Friday in the Times-Picayune. "The suit follows reporting done by The Times-Picayune and ProPublica, a non-profit newsroom that worked with this newspaper in an investigation of police shootings after Katrina."
And as the New York Times said, "The case is one of at least eight investigations into actions of the New Orleans Police Department being conducted by the federal government.
"Most of the investigations concern events in the chaotic days after the storm. The best known, concerning the shootings of civilians on the Danziger Bridge that left two dead and four wounded, resulted in five guilty pleas from current or former police officers.
"Last month, the Department of Justice announced that it would conduct a full-scale investigation into the patterns and practices of the police force, a step that usually results in a legally binding blueprint for wholesale reform.
"In a sign of just how grim the view of the police force is in New Orleans, the mayor himself formally solicited such a review, citing a need for 'systemic and transformational change.'"
Andrew Langston, 83, Founded Rochester's WDKX
"Andrew A. Langston founded Rochester's only African-American-owned radio station in Rochester in 1974. And from small beginnings, WDKX-FM (103.9) has become a power in the community for discussion and entertainment from a growing audience. Mr. Langston, who was chief executive officer of the station, died Thursday, according to station officials. He was 83," Jeffrey Blackwell wrote Saturday in the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y.
"Shiera Coleman, vice president of broadcast for the Rochester Association of Black Journalists, worked for Langston as an intern and later on-air with the station's morning show.
" 'I had a lot of respect for him - to be able to create this business from the ground up and have it succeed for all these years when a lot of people didn't think that it would succeed,' she said.
"'He overcame all the obstacles, and you know he was just a great man.'"
"WDKX-FM (103.9) went on the air on April 6, 1974, with the initials of Frederick Douglass, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X - African-American leaders revered by Mr. Langston. And in the tradition of his heroes, the station has become a voice for the community and for young people."
The National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters gave Langston its "Pioneer in Broadcasting" award in 1990. Just as his peers did, he complained that ratings services did not count his audience properly and that white advertisers figured they could reach his listeners by buying time on white-owned stations that also played some black music. He told this writer then that WDKX was losing $2 million a year on such audience misreadings.
Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy said, "During times when radio stations were being bought by major corporations, Mr. Langston held on to WDKX, which is now one of the few independently owned radio stations in the country."
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