AOL Patch, expected to be the biggest hirer of journalists this year, shows a lack of diversity in hiring management for new hyperlocal sites.
AOL Patch: "We Do Not Focus on Race"
AOL's Patch network of hyperlocal news sites, which expects to be "the largest hirer of full-time journalists in the United States this year," has finished hiring a top news management with little if any racial diversity and declared that "We do not focus on race or ethnicity in the hiring process, but rather finding the best person for each job opening."
Patch announced last week that it had hired four regionally based editorial directors who report to Brian Farnham, Patch's editor-in-chief, completing its hiring its senior editorial field management.
None appears to be a person of color. Anthony Duignan-Cabrera, editorial director of the Northeast Region, said through an AOL spokesman that "he’d prefer not to discuss his ethnicity" as a "personal matter."
Asked about Patch's racial composition, Adam Isserlis, vice president of the Rubenstein media relations firm, transmitted this statement from Patch:
“Patch is entirely concerned with hiring the best journalists across the country, reporters who are passionate about local news and reporting. We do not focus on race or ethnicity in the hiring process, but rather finding the best person for each job opening.”
AOL this year did not participate in the American Society of News Editors' voluntary diversity census of online news organizations.
Diversity proponents have long maintained that color-blind approaches to hiring fail to break institutional patterns of discrimination and ignore the advantages of diversity.
Just this week, Michelle Alexander, law professor at Ohio State University and author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness," declared on public radio's "The Michael Eric Dyson Show," "Color blindness manifests itself as racial indifference. I firmly believe color blindness is a part of the problem. . . . 'I don't care about racial disparities.' That's how color blindness has manifested itself. We should be color conscious."
Ronnie Agnew, executive editor of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., and co-chair of ASNE's Diversity Committee, said it differently.
"No one should dispute that companies, such as AOL Patch, should seek to hire the very best talent available to ensure success of new initiatives," Agnew told Journal-isms. "But in saying it wants to hire the best, AOL Patch could not have constructed a better job description for recruiting and employing a significant number of journalists of color possessing skills the company says it wants.
"I go on record as saying that ASNE will be vigilant in pointing out to the nation’s media companies the importance of diversity as a business imperative. Our industry is falling short. America has too many newsrooms that lack journalists of color, passionate journalists who are passed over because of systems of meritocracy that work against them.
"It is an unfortunate truth that ASNE’s annual census and other independent studies have exposed the industry’s shortcomings. Very soon, we will receive census data showing significant growth in minority population sectors. As AOL Patch seeks to hire the best, which we support, the company should consider the makeup of America and consider that communities of color do not feel news organizations speak to them or care to understand issues of importance to them."
AOL announced on Aug. 17 that Patch plans to expand rapidly to more than 500 U.S. neighborhoods in 20 states by the end of 2010. It said more than 500 journalists are still to be hired,
According to the Associated Press, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong conceived of Patch in 2007, while he was still an executive at Google Inc. AOL Inc. bought Patch in June 2009 for $7 million in cash as part of its years-long effort to reinvent itself as a content provider reliant on online ads as its legacy dial-up Internet access business fades. "AOL, which split from Time Warner Inc. in late 2009, said in a March regulatory filing that it expects to invest as much as $50 million in Patch this year alone," AP said.
"Patch builds its websites in communities with 15,000-75,000 residents, and each site is staffed by a full-time editor who works with an average of 11 local freelancers to create and produce site content. Content ranges from news stories to events listings to classified ads."
The New York Times added, "One journalist in each town travels to school board meetings and coffee shops with a laptop and camera. Patch also solicits content from readers, pulls in articles from other sites and augments it all with event listings, volunteer opportunities, business directories and lists of local information like recycling laws."
On salaries, Isserlis would say only that "Patch provides competitive salary and benefits packages, including 401-K match and performance bonuses." However, others have said the local editor jobs pay $35,000 to $42,000 plus benefits, and the regional editors, who supervise clusters of local editors, earn $65,000 to $80,000.
Among Patch's overall management team are William Nance, vice president, strategy and development, who is African American, and Sophia Fregosi, director of recruiting, who is Asian American.
"USA Today, the nation's second largest newspaper, is making the most dramatic overhaul of its staff in its 28-year history as it de-emphasizes its print edition and ramps up its effort to reach more readers and advertisers on mobile devices," Michael Liedtke reported Thursday for the Associated Press.
"The makeover outlined Thursday will result in about 130 layoffs this fall, USA Today Publisher Dave Hunke told The Associated Press. That translates into a 9 percent reduction in USA Today's work force of 1,500 employees. Hunke didn't specify which departments would be hardest hit.
"The management shake-up affects both the newspaper's business operations and newsroom."
Journalists at USA Today told Journal-isms privately that it was too soon to say how they would be affected, except that they might get new titles and responsibilities. That was echoed by USA Today spokesman Ed Cassidy: "We are currently in a build-out of this new frame and it's premature to announce any new appointments and responsibilities at this juncture," he said via e-mail Friday.
"In the first wave of change, USA Today, which is based in McLean, Va., will no longer have separate managing editors overseeing its News, Sports, Money and Life sections," the AP story continued.
"The newsroom instead will be broken up into a cluster of 'content rings' each headed up by editors who will be appointed later this year. The newly created content group will be overseen by Susan Weiss, who had been managing editor of the Life section. As executive editor of content, Weiss will report to USA Today Editor John Hillkirk.
" 'We'll focus less on print ... and more on producing content for all platforms (Web, mobile, iPad and other digital formats),' according to a slide show presented Thursday to USA Today's staff.
While non-Hispanic whites overwhelmingly agree more with those who object to building an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, non-Hispanic blacks are more evenly divided, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
The center's Carroll Doherty, who provided the racial figures to Journal-isms, cautioned that just 92 African Americans were among the sample of 1,003 adults. But he said the differences between blacks and whites were significant on the Islamic center issue. Whites agreed with those who object to the center by 58 percent to 29 percent. Among blacks, 47 percent agreed with those who think it should be built, and 40 percent agreed with those who object.
Overall, "The public continues to express conflicted views of Islam," the center reported on Tuesday. "Favorable opinions of Islam have declined since 2005, but there has been virtually no change over the past year in the proportion of Americans saying that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence. As was the case a year ago, slightly more people say the Islamic religion does not encourage violence more than other religions (42%) than say that it does (35%)."
The second significant racial difference, Doherty said on Friday, was that 73 percent of blacks said they knew a great deal or some about the Muslim religion, compared with 55 percent of whites.
- Chris Ariens, TVNewser: ABC News Reprimands Audio Operator Who Covered Mosque Protest
- Edward E. Curtis IV, Washington Post: Five myths about mosques in America
- Timothy Egan, New York Times: Building a Nation of Know-Nothings
- Angie Drobnic Holan, PolitiFact: Why do so many people think Obama is a Muslim?
- Rick Horowitz, Huffington Post: A Crescendo of Innuendo: Obama and the Muslim Myth
- Eugene Kane blog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ron Paul, my new hero
- Gene Policinski, First Amendment Center: Defending First Amendment rights is different from endorsing the message
- Rubén Rosario, St. Paul Pioneer Press: A new State Fair freebie: education about Islam
- Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Is the great mosque debate making us stupid?
- Barry Saunders, Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer: Rights apply to all of us
"C-SPAN will be covering Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial this Saturday, with Sarah Palin among those expected to attend. Coverage begins 10am ET," Chris Ariens reported Friday for TVNewser.
"C-SPAN also will cover the Rev. Al Sharpton's 'Reclaim the Dream' rally at Dunbar High School in Washington, DC. That event will be shown on C-SPAN later on Saturday. Rev. Sharpton will be a guest on C-SPAN's live call-in interview program 'Washington Journal' Saturday morning at 7:45am ET."
Beck announced on his "Restoring Honor" website that the event would be streamed live on the event's Facebook page
- Mary C. Curtis, Politics Daily: Glenn Beck Rally in D.C. Saturday: Honoring MLK's Legacy — or Hijacking It?
- Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: How Alveda King is turning MLK's 'dream' into a nightmare
- Cord Jefferson, the Root.com: What's in Store at Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor Rally?
- John Lewis, USA Today: Glenn Beck's rally cannot block nation's path
- Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Glen Beck Rally: “There goes the neighborhood”
- Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: This is who `we' really is, Glenn
- Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Even Beck can't mar King's legacy
- David Swerdlick, theRoot.com: What Glenn Beck Forgot About Martin Luther King
He was the first black reporter on the air in his hometown, and he never forgot from whence he came.
"Longtime CBS News correspondent Harold Dow died suddenly this morning, Saturday, Aug. 21, at the age of 62," CBS News announced on Saturday.
[On Sunday night, CBS said Dow's family said the cause of death was apparently an asthma attack.
["At the time of Harold's death, he was suffering from adult onset asthma. On Monday, August 16, 2010, Harold checked himself into the Valley Hospital emergency room in Ridgewood for severe asthmatic symptoms. According to the Hackensack Police Department incident report, an inhaler was found on the floor of Harold's vehicle. Therefore, it is believed at this time that Harold succumbed to an asthma attack while behind the wheel," a family spokesperson said.]
"Dow was a correspondent for 48 Hours since 1990, after serving as a contributor to the broadcast since its premiere on January 19, 1988. Dow was also a contributor to the critically acclaimed 1986 documentary 48 Hours on Crack Street, which led to creation of the single-topic weekly news magazine.
" 'CBS News is deeply saddened by this sudden loss,' said Sean McManus, president, CBS News and Sports. 'The CBS News family has lost one of its oldest and most talented members, whose absence will be felt by many and whose on-air presence and reporting skills touched nearly all of our broadcasts. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Kathy, and their children, Joelle, Danica and David.'
"Over the course of his distinguished career at the network, Dow served as a correspondent for the CBS News magazine Street Stories (1992-93) and reported for the CBS Evening News With Dan Rather, Sunday Morning and the CBS News legal series Verdict. He served as co-anchor on CBS News Nightwatch (1982-83), prior to which he had been a correspondent (1977-82) and reporter (1973-77) at the CBS News Los Angeles bureau.
"He covered many of the most important stories of our times, including 9/11, where he barely escaped one of the falling Twin Towers; the return of POWs from Vietnam and the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst, with whom he had an exclusive interview in December 1976; the movement of American troops into Bosnia; and the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster. He also conducted the first network interview with O.J. Simpson following the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.
" 'Harold Dow was a reporter for the ages. Insatiably curious, he was happiest when he was on the road deep into a story. He took pride in every story he did,' said 48 Hours Mystery Executive Producer Susan Zirinsky. 'It was his humanity, which was felt by everyone he encountered, even in his toughest interviews, that truly defined the greatness of his work. He was the most selfless man I have known. It is a tremendous loss for 48 Hours, CBS News and the world of journalism. I deeply miss him already.' "
As a 20-year-old student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1968, Dow became the first black television reporter in the city, Jeff Roberts reported in June for the Record in Bergen County, N.J.
"But the roots of Dow’s career trace back to Hackensack and his grandmother’s farm in South Carolina, where he spent his childhood summers picking cotton and tobacco.
" 'It reminded me where we came from,' he said. 'It wasn’t pretty. I can say that.'
"Dow grew silent for a moment, his eyes hidden behind his mirrored sunglasses. Tears began streaming down his cheeks.
" 'To know what it's like in that hot sun, working from sunup to sundown, forbidden to be able to read or write for hundreds of years ... and that’s what you do as a journalist, the thing they say you can't do,' said Dow. 'It's all connected for me.' "
"We r all together tonight on assignment," 60 Minutes correspondent Byron Pitts e-mailed Journal-isms Saturday night. "We all raised a glass for our friend," Harold Dow.
"Harold was one of the funniest men I've ever known. Always welcoming, always willing to share his wisdom with those of us coming along. All of us owe him a debt of gratitude. He was a credit to our profession.
"As a journalist of color, he along with Ed Bradley is a cornerstone of my Mt. Rushmore."
Dow's friend and colleague and longtime CBS cameraman Dennis Dillon, who worked with Dow at 48 Hours, said, "He brought sunshine everywhere he went," Pitts reported.
Stan Wilkins, a CBS soundman, also on the overseas assignment, said, "He treated every person with great respect. We all will miss him."
60 Minutes producer Harry Radliffe said, "I never had the pleasure of working with Harold, but I always admired his skill as an interviewer. Harold's ability to talk with ordinary people reflected the fact that they were comfortable with him. They trusted him and they opened up him. I always felt that spoke volumes about Harold. He was honest and straightforward. What you saw was what you got. And what CBS News got was someone special. Harold was real; in today's news, a rare commodity."
Separately, Randall Pinkston, who now reports for CBS Newspath, told Journal-isms by e-mail an hour after he heard the news, "We, at CBS News, are saddened and shocked. He was a trailblazer, a great journalist, a great friend and mentor. I shall miss him enormously."
And national correspondent Russ Mitchell, anchor of the CBS Evening News Sunday edition, said, "I would only add ... Harold was my Angel. The go-to-guy who had done it, seen it, survived it. A man who took his role as a pioneer seriously and always had a smile and great advice. Yeah, he was a remarkable journalist but he was an even more incredible human being. I loved him and already miss him."
Black journalists have not been so quick to forgive the conservative columnist for his role in organizing "massive resistance" to school desegregation.
James J. Kilpatrick, the conservative commentator known to television viewers as a commentator on the "Point/Counterpoint" segment of "60 Minutes," or as a panelist on the old "Agronsky and Co.," died in Washington Sunday at age 89, his family said on Monday.
To some African Americans, however, the Virginian's support of Massive Resistance to school desegregation in the 1950s overshadowed the other aspects of his career highlighted in many of the mainstream media obituaries.
He was "a cheerleader for racism," said Raymond H. Boone, editor and publisher of the Richmond Free Press, a black weekly in the Virginia capital. He called Kilpatrick a tool of longtime Virginia Sen. Harry F. Byrd's organization, "a puppet who used his talents in a despicable manner." Although Kilpatrick later admitted he was wrong, "he could have come out as strong for civil rights as he did for civil wrongs," as some other whites did, Boone said.
In a Times-Dispatch interview in 2000, Mr. Kilpatrick said that in later years, he remained troubled by his former editorial stance," taken as editor of the old Richmond News Leader, the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote. "But, he added, his argument on school integration was 'an effort to elevate the debate above the blood in the streets. The hope was it might in some obscure way have calmed the waves of passion. That was one of the motives, and the other was to keep the schools segregated until things settled down.' "
On the e-mail list of the National Association of Black Journalists, Charles Robinson, a reporter for Maryland Public Television, recalled his student days at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where several of Kilpatrick's conservative colleagues taught journalism courses.
"Many of them continued the ideas he championed about no need for integration, even in the wake of court rulings telling institutions to break down barriers. A number of black students wondered about the high attrition rates in the Mass Communications Department. We remained vigilant in spite of the antagonistic attempts to lessen our contributions," Robinson wrote.
"Remember, there were no role models (Black professors) to turn to for advice. Instead we turned to each other creating a Black newspaper called 'Reflections in Ink.' . . .
"I believe it was Soledad O'Brien who urged us to 'bear witness to change the dynamics.' I can't say that I changed the dynamics, but my time at my alma mater taught me a lot about perseverance in the wake of overwhelming odds. I will not speak ill of the dead, but may he rest in peace knowing his brand of journalism did not prevail with members of my class, nor with the majority of journalists who practice our craft."
"The New York Post has had a somewhat contentious relationship with black New Yorkers over the past couple years, and it didn't help matters this weekend with a story that mixed up two African-American media powerhouses in a clumsy attempt to discredit a prominent supporter of President Barack Obama," Jeff Bercovici wrote Sunday for the Daily Finance.
"The item in Sunday's 'Page Six' gossip column claimed that former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers is a hypocrite for taking a job as CEO of Johnson Publishing because 'her new boss, Bob Johnson, who also founded Black Entertainment Television, was one of Obama's harshest critics.'
"The only problem with the Post's reasoning: Bob Johnson has nothing to do with Johnson Publishing, which is run by Linda Johnson Rice, daughter of deceased founder John H. Johnson, and which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines. A number of sharp-eyed Post readers pointed out the error in the comments section of the website. 'Bob Johnson isn't the only black man to have owned a media company,' wrote one."
The Post pulled the column from its website.
The episode became a comedy of errors when Bercovici rendered Rogers' name as "Desiree Johnson."
Such mix-ups aren't restricted to African Americans.
Saturday's Sacramento Bee carried this correction:
"On Page 7 of Friday's Ticket, a photo of Bruce Springsteen was incorrectly identified as Bob Dylan."
In South Africa, "President Jacob Zuma has reacted angrily to suggestions that the creation of a media appeals tribunal is an attempt by the ruling party to control and bulldoze the media using the tactics of apartheid regime," Issa Sikiti da Silva reported for that nation's bizcommunity.com.
"Writing in ANC Today, the party's online weekly newsletter, the sexagenarian head of state said [that] to suggest that the ANC and its government could have any similarities to the apartheid regime is not only preposterous, but also disingenuous and an unbearable insult," referring to the ruling African National Congress.
One of those making the comparison was the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which wrote to Zuma on Monday:
"The Protection of Information Bill currently before parliament is meant to replace an apartheid-era law dating from 1982. Yet the broad language and far-reaching provisions of the legislative proposal introduced by Security Minister Siyabonga Cwel is reminiscent of apartheid-era regulations since it would virtually shield the government from the scrutiny of the independent press and criminalize activities essential to investigative journalism, a vital public service. Journalists, under the proposed law, would face heavy jail time for violations.
"Under the bill, officials and state agencies would have unchecked authority and discretion to classify any public or commercial data as secret, confidential, protected, or sensitive based on vaguely defined 'national interest' considerations and without any explanation, according to our research and legal experts."
In South Africa's Sunday Independent, Onkgopotse JJ Tabane said the ruling African National Congress held misguided expectations of black journalists:
"There was a wrong expectation that black journalists in particular were meant to opine as sheep and never say a negative word about the ANC and its various leaders.
"This silly expectation was soon quashed by the reality that every black journalist, columnist or analyst has a brain of his/her own and that no newsrooms caucused anti-ANC stories.
"In fact, some among the ANC faithful who have been journalists would be able to debunk that myth if their colleagues were to listen to them. It's simply lies to paint the media, made up of so many activists of yesteryear, as suddenly common-minded about their hostility to the ANC.
"What we should focus on is what they are reporting and whether that constitutes lies or truth."
*Samantha Henig, the New Yorker: Debriefing: Charlayne Hunter-Gault on Jacob Zuma (June 28)
*Raymond Louw, Southern Africa Report: South Africa: Threat to Press Freedom is Already Here
*Jonny Steinberg, Sunday Times: Something else lies behind moves against the media
*Jacob Zuma, African National Congress: Let the Real Media Debate Begin
"Over the last year, the broadband-adoption gap between blacks and whites has been cut nearly in half," according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Over the last year, the broadband-adoption gap between blacks and whites has been cut nearly in half," according to a new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Broadband is generally defined as high-speed Internet access.
"Broadband adoption by African Americans now stands at 56%, up from 46% at a similar point in 2009," the study said. "That works out to a 22% year-over-year growth rate, well above the national average and by far the highest growth rate of any major demographic group."
The increase has implications for media targeting African Americans, black-owned and otherwise.
In a piece Friday on theRoot.com, Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing Co., owners of Ebony and Jet magazine, told E.R. Shipp, "Today, outlets are charged with deciding which form of technology best suits the story. For instance, black consumers can now receive stories via iPads, satellite radio and the Web in addition to traditional print."
Johnson Rice said her major challenge is "to stay relevant on the newsstands while establishing a timely and engaging presence on the Web."
Shipp noted that "in that arena, her company faces competition from The Root, the Grio, Black America Web and AOL's Black Voices, among others" and that "Jet recently rolled out a jazzed-up print edition and a digital version called MyJet247.com."
BET Networks has partnered with the National Urban League, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, HealthCentral, Kaplan Ventures, MedHelp.org, One Economy Corporation and Tutor.com in a proposal to the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration for a grant under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, Ann Brown reported in June for the Network Journal. That effort is a part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known as the stimulus package.
"Under the proposal, BET wants to increase the adoption of broadband technology amongst African-Americans through its National Sustainable Broadband Adoption Project," Brown wrote.
African Americans are consuming cell-phone technology in large numbers as well.
Pew reported last month that 64 percent of African Americans surveyed in May said they access the Internet over their laptop or mobile phone, an increase from 57 percent who said they did in 2009.
Overall, according to the new study, released Wednesday, "After several consecutive years of modest but consistent growth, broadband adoption slowed dramatically in 2010. "Two-thirds of American adults (66%) currently use a high-speed internet connection at home, a figure that is not statistically different from what the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found at a similar point in 2009, when 63% of Americans were broadband adopters."
In addition, "By a 53%-to-41% margin, Americans say they do not believe that the spread of affordable broadband should be a major government priority. Contrary to what some might suspect, non-internet users are less likely than current users to say the government should place a high priority on the spread of high-speed connections. . . .
Mark Hachman added on PCMag.com:
"When asked why African-Americans reported such a large jump," Aaron Smith, research specialist with Pew. "said that Pew's research didn't examine the reason. 'But we've been picking up on it for a couple of years now; not necessarily with broadband, but with higher levels of engagement with the Internet in general,' he said.
"Pew began noticing higher levels of engagement within the African-American community since the 2008 election, Smith said; since blacks hadn't embraced broadband as quickly as whites, the lower baseline allowed a more dramatic increase, he added."
*William Reed, syndicated: Broadband Access Needed for African Americans' Advancement (March 9)
Blacks are founders of just 1 percent of financed Internet startups in 2010. Find out who secures the most funding per startup. (It's not who you think.) Plus: Obama's charge to African journalists; and the push for more minority broadcasters.
Blacks Just 1% of Financed Internet Start-ups So Far in 2010
Before presenting its charts, CB Insights reported, 'When we ask venture capitalists what gets them excited about the young, emerging and unproven companies in which they invest, we never hear about deals and dollars. Rather the first answer is frequently 'the team' or 'the founders.' '
African Americans are dramatically underrepresented among the founders of Internet start-up companies, according to an analysis of the founders of private, early-stage Internet companies that raised their first round of institutional venture capital funding in the first six months of 2010.
The private investment research firm CB Insights found that whites were 77 percent of population but 87 percent of the start-up founders; Asians were 4 percent of the population but 12 percent of the founders; and blacks were 11 percent of the population but 1 percent of the founders. Native Americans barely registered, and "other races" accounted for 7 percent of the population. Hispanics were not listed; they are not a race.
Other findings of the first-ever Human Capital Venture Capital report, as summarized by Sherri L. Smith for BlackWeb2.0:
*"The majority of the black founders were part of an all-black founding team. As far as mixed raced founding teams, New York led the pack with 14% with California and Massachusetts bringing up the rear with a close 13%.
*"The median amount of funding secured by an all-black founding team was $1.3 million, compared to $2.2M for a racially mixed team, and $2.3M for an all-white team.
*"Asian teams secured the most funding with a median range of $4 million."
The report said that "nationally, South Asian and East/South Asian founders are funded to a similar extent."
"So what does this mean for burgeoning black techpreneurs with the next great Web breakthrough?" Smith wrote. "If you’re a younger company, New York’s Silicon Alley might be the best place to start your business. With an increasing population of young start-ups setting up shop, NYC is the best place for a fresh-[faced] talent to catch the eye of a potential investor. Overall, African Americans are still underrepresented in both the tech and entrepreneurial sectors."
Raising venture capital for media start-ups was a focus of the Eighth Annual Access to Capital and Telecommunications Policy Conference last month in Washington.
At a standing-room-only question-and-answer session at the conference, sponsored by the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, three members of the Federal Communications Commission said minority communications entrepreneurs should be focusing on opportunities in new media, according to a report from John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable.
"All three commissioners also said access to capital was the top barrier to boosting minority participation," Eggerton continued. "The other side of that equation is that the opportunities in traditional media are on the wane, they suggested."
The commissioners were Robert McDowell, Meredith Attwell Baker "and, via a sometimes hinky video link, Mignon Clyburn."
In the 17 years that the FCC's minority tax certificate policy was in effect — from 1978 to 1995 — the scant minority ownership of broadcast properties multiplied," Michael D. Berg, a veteran Washington communications lawyer, wrote Friday for TVNewsCheck, an online industry trade publication.
"The policy produced 364 tax certificates and 200 media transactions totaling more than $1 billion in value. That represented about two-thirds of all minority-owned stations.
"When the policy began, minorities owned about 40 of 8,500 broadcast stations. Over its lifetime, the policy helped raise that number to 333 — 290 radio stations and 43 TV stations. It also yielded 31 cable systems," wrote Berg, whose piece was titled, "Time to Revive Minority Tax Certificates."
"The policy encouraged the sale of broadcast and cable properties to minority-owned buyers by deferring sellers' capital gains taxes. Providers of capital to new minority companies also received tax incentives.
"But in 1995 Congress repealed the policy. . . . Since the repeal and passage the following year of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which paved the way for further consolidation of station ownership and narrowed opportunities for new entrants to the broadcast business, minority ownership has decreased by about 14%. That is despite the rapid growth in the percentage of minorities in the population. According to a Free Press study, in 2006 minorities composed a third of the population and owned less than 4% of TV stations and 7% of commercial radio stations.
"As a result of these developments, right now in Congress, the FCC and the broadcast and cable industries there is new movement toward creating an updated tax incentive policy. . . . Late last month at the annual conference of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) announced his intent to introduce new tax incentive legislation that addresses and remedies concerns about the earlier policy."
Berg is also the co-author of "FCC Lobbying: A Handbook of Insider Tips and Practical Advice."
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., "has released a 'Corporate Diversity Report' with the results of a survey of 537 companies that appeared in the Fortune 500 in 2009 and 2010. At the five media/entertainment/marketing companies that responded, says the report, 13 of the 59 board seats are held by women and 11 by minorities. On those companies' executive teams, 11 of 58 positions are held by women and three by minorities," Radio Ink reported on Thursday.
"Menendez said the purpose of the survey, which also looked at, among other industries, energy, financial services, telecommunications, and technology, 'is very straightforward — to gain a better understanding of what minority and female representation looks like on corporate boards, in senior leadership and in the procurement of goods and services."
In Washington, President Obama told young African leaders such as this one, 'young people are more prone to ask questions, why shouldn’t we have a free press?' (Video)
"One out of 10 delegates participating this week in U.S. President Barack Obama's Young African Leaders Forum was a journalist," Mohamed Keita, Africa advocacy coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, wrote Friday.
"The forum, a U.S. initiative meant to spark discussions on the future of Africa in a year when 17 countries on the continent are celebrating 50 years of nationhood, did not overlook freedom of the press, as I witnessed in its final event on Thursday at Washington's museum of news, the Newseum.
"The venue for Thursday’s event, a conference center named after the publisher John S. Knight, was perhaps fitting after the forum’s Tuesday town hall meeting at the White House featured significant references to press freedom. Addressing 115 of the brightest and most enterprising 20- to 30-something leaders in activism, business, health, innovation and media in Africa on Tuesday, Obama singled out, among others, a Botswana journalist (Itumeleng Ramsden) for inspiring young people with her popular radio show, and a journalist from Ivory Coast (Aminata Kane Epse Kone) for championing the cause of Muslim women on her radio station. In a Q&A session, the president mentioned press freedom while praising the ability of youth to challenge the status quo.
" 'In some of your countries, freedom of the press is still restricted,' Obama said. 'There’s no reason why that has to be the case. There’s nothing inevitable about that. And young people are more prone to ask questions, why shouldn’t we have a free press?' "
*In South Africa, Mzilikazi wa Afrika, who wrote a series for South Africa's Sunday Times on alleged corruption by senior officials, was arrested and detained for 48 hours, the Associated Press reported on Friday. The South African National Editors Forum said such an arrest has been rare since the end of the apartheid era in 1994.
*Rwanda's Media High Council suspended some 30 news media as the nation prepared for Monday's presidential election, Reporters Without Borders reported. "Press freedom violations, including the jailing of journalists, the closure of news media and the murder of a newspaper editor a month ago, have intensified in the run-up to the election."
*Senior Eritrean Advisor Yemani Gebreab told Swedish daily Aftonbladet that the government had decided to 'move forward,' leaving imprisoned journalists in the eternal oblivion of indefinite detention, Mohamed Keita reported for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Since a week after September 11, 2001, when the government of Eritrea threw into secret prisons journalists from its once-vibrant private press, the only certainty it has offered about the fate of the prisoners has been ambiguity."
*Alagi Yorrow Jallow, a 2007 Nieman Fellow who fled Gambia in 2005, wrote Wednesday for Nieman Watchdog, "Government actors regularly wage violence against private media outlets and journalists that publish articles deemed inaccurate or unfavorable to the junta. Such violence can take the form of harassment, detention at the hands of National Intelligence Agency officers, arson and destruction of property, arbitrary arrest, torture, and even murder. As a result, Gambian journalists have little choice but to practice self-censorship in their daily work." Jallow has been granted asylum in the United States.