The network has taken steps to address concerns raised by journalists of color by hiring a second African American on-air reporter, Alex P. Kellogg.
NPR's board of directors has approved hiring a law firm to review the network's handling of the termination of Juan Williams' contract, and the network has taken steps to address concerns raised by journalists of color.
NPR has hired a second African American on-air reporter, Alex P. Kellogg of the Wall Street Journal, plans to make up for its omission of "All Things Considered" co-anchor Michele Norris from its 40th-year anniversary book and is in the final stages of hiring a senior editor whose job will be to find diverse sources and voices for NPR stories.
The firing of Williams hovered over the first meeting of the NPR board of directors since last month's events. And while the erstwhile "news analyst" was nowhere in sight, it was obvious that he had emerged the clear winner in the episode.
Williams' Oct. 20 firing over his remarks about Muslims on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" prompted a backlash that forced NPR to admit that it handled the situation badly. Moreover, Fox News gave Williams a three-year contract worth nearly $2 million. And Natasha Lennard reported Wednesday for Politico:
". . . According to an e-mail sent by the American Program Bureau to clients and obtained by POLITICO, since his NPR dismissal 'the demand for Juan Williams as a speaker has been unprecedented; APB's phones have been ringing off the hook with calls from associations, corporations and universities looking to secure Mr. Williams as a keynote speaker at their next event."
In his last remarks as NPR board chair, Howard Stevenson said: "Nobody is thankful for where we are, but the past is prologue, and now we have to look to the future. I tend to wish my term had ended two weeks ago," the blog Current Public Media, which covers public broadcasting, reported on Thursday.
Selected to conduct the review was the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, a 20-office multinational law practice, "highly regarded with considerable expertise in governance issues," incoming board chair Dave Edwards of Milwaukee Public Radio told the board.
CEO Vivian Schiller added in a note to the NPR staff, "We recommended and the board agreed that it would be prudent to commission an independent, objective third party to review both the process by which the decision was made, and the way it was implemented and communicated." Williams, a contract employee who was no longer on staff, was fired in a late-night telephone call. Working as a news analyst on NPR but a commentator on Fox News Channel, Williams had said on "The O'Reilly Factor" that Muslims dressed in Muslim garb on planes made him nervous, though it was wrong to discriminate against them.
Schiller repeated during the two-day meeting that believes she was justified in terminating Williams' contract but that "the matter was handled badly. I take full responsibility."
Board members, who met mostly in executive session but twice opened the meeting to public view, betrayed no indication of displeasure with Schiller. Nor did any NPR listeners or critics; no one came to the microphone in the time designated for public comments.
Williams' status as the only African American staff voice on the air throughout most of his NPR career gave the episode racial implications. Some black staffers asked whether a white employee would have been treated as Williams was and wondered aloud whether African Americans were disappearing one by one.
In August, however, NPR hired Corey Dade, a Wall Street Journal reporter and a black journalist, as a Washington-based digital news correspondent. Now Kellogg, who has covered urban Detroit, the auto-company bankruptcies and other Michigan topics for the Wall Street Journal's Detroit bureau, has been hired to report on diversity and other issues, spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm told Journal-isms.
Kellogg was actually hired before the Williams firing, though it is only now being disclosed. He first appeared in this space in 2007 when he was working for the Detroit Free Press and Barack Obama'sracial bona fides were being questioned. Kellogg, whose mother is a white American and father a black Eritrean, wrote about being an "African American" like Obama. He worked as a journalist in East Africa for three years, and the Sierra Club published an 5,000-word essay from him on the irony of being black in America yet considered closer to white in Africa.
Rehm also said NPR was in the "final selection process" for a senior editor to increase the diversity of sources used by NPR journalists. Referring to Keith Woods, picked by Schiller last year to be vice president of diversity in news and operations, Rehm said the senior-editor idea came from "a pilot project that Keith and News management initiated. A rotation of news staff were taken off their regular jobs to focus on finding new sources and voices; it worked so well that the decision was made to find a way to create a full time senior position devoted to this."
The senior editor's jurisdiction would be "newsroom wide and also across all the shows."
Meanwhile, the network moved to make redress after its embarrassment over the exclusion of Michele Norris, co-host of its popular afternoon news show "All Things Considered," from "This is NPR," the network's holiday-timed book about NPR's 40 years.
"Norris was asked to contribute a chapter, along with other staffers or people who appear regularly on NPR for the book, which weaves the stories into a chronological history. Other contributors includeCokie Roberts, Nina Totenberg, P.J. O'Rourke and Paula Poundstone. But because she was on sabbatical writing her own book, 'The Grace of Silence: A Memoir,' Norris couldn't contribute an essay and was not included anywhere else, said NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm, media writer Eric Deggans reported last week for his St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times blog.
Rehm told Journal-isms that Norris would be in the next available edition. The first, of 18,000 copies, is already in stores, and a spokeswoman for Chronicle Books, the publisher, said the second printing is due out at the end of the month.
Journal-isms reached Norris by e-mail in California, where she is on book tour. For "This Is NPR," she said she was told that "Morning Edition" co-host Steve Inskeep "is writing a lovely essay about our work together on York."
Norris’ own "The Grace of Silence: A Memoir" grew out of an NPR reporting project on race during the 2008 presidential campaign. She and Inskeep recorded conversations with a cross-section of York, Pa., area residents.
Michele Norris blog: A Veteran's Day Remembrance
First Lady to Host White House Screening of 'Colored Girls'First lady Michelle Obama, just back from a relatively noncontroversial trip to Asia with her husband, is wading into a cultural thicket on her return. She is hosting a private White House screening of Tyler Perry's film "For Colored Girls," Journal-isms has learned.
The Perry film, based on Ntozake Shange's 1975 "choreopoem" "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf," has been criticized for its portrayals of black men but praised for giving voice to black women's struggles with emotional obstacles.
Obama plans to show the film primarily for staff at a Tuesday gathering in the White House theater. No word on whether the president will attend. It is White House policy not to comment on activities in the residence, a spokeswoman said.
The first lady accompanied President Obama abroad last week, dancing and playing hopscotch with disadvantaged children in Mumbai, India; joining schoolgirls in New Delhi on a field trip through a museum of Indian craft work; paying a first-time visit to Indonesia, where her husband spent part of his childhood; and surprising U.S. servicemen and women in Germany on Veterans Day, serving them steaks at a special meal.
Darian Aaron, theDailyVoice.com: Tyler Perry fuels down low hysteria and homophobia in For Colored Girls
Helena Andrews, theRoot.com: Single-Minded: Me, My Mother and 'For Colored Girls'
Mark Corece, theDailyVoice.com: For Colored Girls, No Seriously it is
Mary C. Curtis, Politics Daily: Why Must 'For Colored Girls' Be More Than Just a Movie?
Robin Givhan, Washington Post: Michelle Obama acknowledges Indian fashion industry during trip
Hill Harper, theRoot.com: Not Dealing With Depression
Gregory Kane, BlackAmericaWeb.com, Hate the Male-Bashing, Love the 'Colored' Cast
Rashod Ollison, Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.: It’s time for better black movies than Perry’s tales of woe
Courtland Milloy and Vanessa Williams, Washington Post: On 'For Colored Girls' (video discussion)
Salamishah Tillet, theRoot.com: Black Feminism, Tyler Perry Style
Miki Turner, myjet247.com: On 'For Colored Girls'
It's a "national catastrophe": A new report shows black men are performing lower than their peers on almost every level. Richard Prince wonders what that means for the future of black journalists.
"Black males continue to perform lower than their peers throughout the country on almost every indicator," according to a new report from the Council of the Great City Schools, which calls itself "the only national organization exclusively representing the needs of urban public schools."
Its report, released Tuesday, is bad news for efforts to diversify the pipeline that fills journalism jobs — and others that require a solid education.
"The study points out that there has been no concerted national effort to improve the education, social and employment outcomes of African American males, who are not receiving appropriate attention from federal, state and local governments or community organizations," the council said.
" 'This is a national catastrophe, and it deserves coordinated national attention,' stresses the report."
Walk onto any campus, and it is obvious that young women now outnumber young men. This is also true in journalism programs, and it's truest of all for African Americans.
"African Americans still have the largest gender gap in enrollment; 63 percent of all African American undergraduates are women," the American Council on Education reported this year.
"We have such a large drop out rate in that critical early time period that of course fewer young black men are going to college," said Dorothy Gilliam, the veteran journalist who founded Prime Movers, a Washington-based program that provides mentors for high-school journalists. "Most of these young black boys are from low income families and those who make it to college often are first generation college students," she told Journal-isms by e-mail. "Many don’t have the support system that really helps them to navigate through college, so many drop out and there is a lower graduation rate. It stands to reason that you have fewer showing up in the journalism field (or any other profession)," said Gilliam, a co-founder of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.
"It really starts early, as this report indicates," she continued. "If young children are not being read to and communicated with at a level that encourages them to be inquisitive and to learn, they are behind from the beginning. So many urban kids are going to under resourced school systems with teachers who have not received all the training they need. It’s all so interrelated. There is a quiet crisis going on in our communities across the nation. If we don’t get this one right, it doesn’t bode well for us as a people."
The report is being released as the Fall National High School Journalism Convention, sponsored by the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association, meets this week in Kansas City.
"We are concerned about a lack of vibrant school journalism programs in our nation's urban areas. Certainly there are exceptions," Logan Aimone, executive director of the scholastic press association, told Journal-isms, "but in general, city schools tend to not have the same support level for journalism programs as their suburban or small-town counterparts. That's true in many areas, of course, not just journalism."
The Council of Great City Schools called for a White House conference "to help lay out a comprehensive plan of action that leaders at all levels can pursue." Its findings showed:
"In readiness to learn, black children were twice as likely to live in a household where no parent had fulltime or year-round employment in 2008. And in 2007, one out of every three black children lived in poverty compared with one out of every 10 white children.
"In black male achievement at the national level, first-time analysis of the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) reveals that on the 2009 fourth grade reading assessment only 12 percent of black male students nationally and 11 percent of those living in large central cities performed at or above proficient levels, compared with 38 percent of white males nationwide.
"In eighth grade, only 9 percent of black males across the country and 8 percent living in large cities performed at or above the proficient level in reading, compared with 33 percent of white males nationwide. Math results were similar in both grades.
"Moreover, the average African American fourth and eighth grade male who is not poor does no better in reading and math on NAEP than white males who are poor, and black males without disabilities do no better than white males with disabilities.
"In black male achievement in selected big city school districts, 50 percent of fourth- and eighth-grade black males in most urban districts and nationwide scored below Basic levels.
"In college and career preparedness, black males were nearly twice as likely to drop out of high school as white males. In 2008, 9 percent of black males dropped out of high school compared with 5 percent of white males.
"In addition, black male students nationally scored an average 104 points lower than white males on the SAT college entrance examination in reading. And black students generally were about one-third as likely to meet ACT college readiness benchmarks as white students.
"In school experience, black students were less likely to participate in academic clubs, more likely to be suspended from school, and more likely to be retained in grade than their white peers.
"In postsecondary experience, the unemployment rate among black males ages 20 and over (17.3 percent) was twice as high as the unemployment rate among white males of the same age (8.6 percent) earlier this year. In 2008, black males ages 18 and over accounted for 5 percent of the college population, while black males accounted for 36 percent of the nation’s prison population."
Efforts to address the issue have been sporadic.
Two decades ago, the late syndicated columnist Carl T. Rowan, a black journalist, was dismayed by peer pressure that can work against black students excelling in school, so he created a scholarship program, Project Excellence. Backed by the Freedom Forum, it was specifically geared toward two skills that make good journalists — writing and speaking.
He wrote in May 1987, "Suppose that in this town black journalists chipped into a fund to give annual scholarships of, say, $4,000 each, to three black high school seniors cited by a committee named by the school superintendent as the best achievers in writing and speaking? This might help a lot of youngsters to say, 'I'm not playing dumb to please dumb friends; I want that money.' "
The concept moved far beyond black journalists. At his death in 2000, more than 3,000 African American high school students from the Washington area had received offers of scholarships worth $92.6 million. But Rowan's sons lacked the contacts needed to continue the program, and it ended two years later.
Some colleges address the problem among students who make it that far.
At Hampton University, Tony Brown, then dean of its Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, told parents in 2006 that "many freshmen, including those with high GPAs, have serious challenges in GPS (grammar, punctuation and spelling) and English composition." So he started the 6 O'Clock Club, where the dean met with "serious freshmen" at 6 a.m. every Thursday during the first semester. "Get ready by spending your summer reviewing 8-12 grade GPS," Brown wrote. The 6 O'Clock Club is no more, a Hampton professor said, but for the third year, beginning media-writing students must complete a grammar software program. "The program works! Student grammar and sentence structure is clean and coherent," the professor said.
Roy S. Johnson, editor of Men's Fitness magazine, saw a New York Times story on the council's report Tuesday and alerted readers of his Facebook page. "It pains me to post this — but reaffirms my resolve to continue programs like Higher Aims, created and supported by the Foundation of Westchester Clubmen (www.westchesterclubmen.org)," Johnson wrote.
In his Westchester County, N.Y., suburb, the "clubmen" meet for mutual support and camaraderie, and to motivate black boys for whom "college is not something that has crossed their radar."
Johnson said it is up to journalists not only to report the dismal statistics about failing youth but also "to report on the people who are giving their own time to change the statistics" and to "report on the young men who are doing well."
He added that as human beings, "we all have the opportunity to get involved."
Johnson's comment brought to mind a piece in the 2006 Washington Post series "Being a Black Man," reporting on Jachin Leatherman and Wayne Nesbit, two well-liked football players at what some considered the worst high school in the city. They "made it okay, cool even, to be smart," V. Dion Haynes wrote.
Haynes did what Johnson suggested. He revisited the two, now college graduates, for an Oct. 24 piece for the Washington Post Magazine.
There was no single reason for their success.
Nesbit gave credit to his father: "It starts with parents and the people raising you. He said his dad "just stayed on me. He just enforced education." Despite the troubles in Southeast Washington, his father told him, "You've just got to have a one-set mind, make a go and don't let nothing turn you away from it."
In the 2006 piece, Haynes reported what some of the football players had said to the coaches when, three years before, Nesbit and Leatherman were first introduced as examples:
"They smart. We dumb. We can't get better."
Leatherman replied: "That's crazy. Anybody can get good grades. Just go to class and do your work."
In an appearance on NPR's "Tell Me More," host Jacki Lyden asked Haynes, "What would you say the secret to their success was, perseverance?"
"I think it was just confidence in who they are and the fact that they really love their community. They love their family. They love their friends," he replied.
Tonyaa Weathersbee, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Others Will Profit from Black Males' Failures
"A newly released Gallup study of U.S. Hispanics reveals that more than one in seven — or an estimated 4 million adults — would leave the U.S. permanently if they had the opportunity," the Gallup Organization reported on Tuesday.
". . . U.S. Hispanics who would like to migrate are caught between two worlds. Gallup's data show they are less integrated than those who don't want to migrate — they're more likely to feel good only among other Hispanics, feel more discriminated against, and are less likely to speak English well. They not only experience more cultural tension, but also seem to be doing worse off economically, particularly with regard to their ability to afford healthcare for themselves and their families. Further, U.S. Hispanics who would like to migrate are more likely to say they have sent remittances back home in the past 12 months and are less optimistic about the future possibility of increasing or maintaining the amount of these remittances.
"And, although they live in the land of the free, U.S. Hispanics who would like to migrate are less likely to feel that they are enjoying this benefit. While 91% of those who do not wish to migrate are satisfied with the freedom they have to choose what they do with their lives, 77% of would-be migrants say the same."
Marisa Treviño wrote in her Latina Lista blog, "The desire of these individuals to leave the United States is less a reflection on current immigration enforcement policies, the political climate or economic times but a reality that was always known to exist — most migrants only wanted to come to the U.S. to work, not to reside permanently. . . . Congress should look at a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that finally accepts this reality and creates a solution that benefits migrants, their home countries and the United States' need for cheap labor."
Ruben Navarrette, Washington Post Writers Group: An Enforcer's Thankless Task
"Deputies plan to charge at least two people after an angry mob attacked an Orlando TV news crew Monday night during a memorial service for a teenage hit-and-run victim," WKMG-TV in Orlando reported Tuesday.
"Local 6 cameras caught another local news crew being attacked outside St. Andrews Catholic Church in Orange County, where a service was being held to remember 15-year-old Anthony Rodriguez, who was hit along with his brother while walking to a bus stop last week.
"The fight apparently started because a Spanish-language television crew interviewed Rodriguez's brother without his parents' permission. Local 6 stood back as family members raced across the parking lot intending to confront the television crew that performed the interview. Instead, they swarmed around the first crew in sight. The attacked photographer works for WFTV-TV.
"The family members knocked down the TV station's photographer, then shoved and kicked him, the video shows.
"The victim's father, George Torres, could be clearly heard yelling profanity-laced rants. He said to the news crew, 'Get out of here! Get the (expletive) out of here! I will (expletive) kill you!'
"On the video, the photographer can be seen getting up and walking across the street, but then two of the attackers followed him around his news van, shouting 'turn it off,' referring to his camera. The video then shows one of the men shoving the photographer to the ground once again and the photographer being punched in the face while he is on the ground.
"The men involved are believed to be relatives of Rodriguez.
" . . . The photographer was not seriously injured."
Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel: WFTV calls mourners’ attack on photographer ‘regrettable’
Hazel Trice Edney, who resigned in September as editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, which provides news and commentary for the nation's black newspapers, is starting her own news service with some of the same columnists she worked with at NNPA.
Trice Edney announced a kickoff party for the Trice Edney News Wire to be held Friday at the National Press Club. It is to be hosted by Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the Washington Informer, with remarks by Joe Madison, the radio talk show host.
Contributing columnists are listed as the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Julianne Malveaux; Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League; A. Peter Bailey; the Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds and Dr. Wilmer Leon.
"We are marketing to NNPA membership and beyond," Trice Edney told Journal-isms via e-mail. "Dr. Barbara Reynolds, Dr. Malveaux, and Marc Morial will write for NNPA as well as Trice Edney Wire. Dr. Wilmer Leon is not an NNPA columnist. Rev. Jackson is not a regular NNPA columnist. A. Peter Bailey will be exclusively Trice Edney Wire. We will have other exclusive columnists as well, including National Medical Association President Dr. Leonard Weather and others."
Trice Edney tendered her letter of resignation from NNPA on Sept. 8 after working for the black press for 25 years. In her resignation letter, she challenged a rebuke she received from board members, who charged that the news service was not acting in concert with NNPA, which had undertaken a "strong direction to assert the power of the NNPA."
Dorothy R. Leavell, chair of the NNPA Foundation, said then that she planned to reorganize the operation to upgrade it with newer technology. So far, the website posting NNPA stories still features advance pieces on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Legislative Conference, held Sept. 15-18.
Leavell did not respond to a request for comment.
Lou Dobbs, whose departure from CNN a year ago was hailed by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and other groups, has signed a multi-year deal with Fox Business Network, his new employers announced on Wednesday.
"Dobbs will develop and host a new daily program premiering in the first quarter of 2011. He will also make appearances across a variety of FBN programs to provide analysis and commentary on business news of the day," an announcement said.
"Dobbs served as an anchor, managing editor and executive vice president for CNN, hosting various programs including 'Moneyline,' which premiered in 1980 and was later renamed 'Lou Dobbs Tonight.' Dobbs is also a radio talk show host and will continue to host his nationally syndicated radio programs and financial reports," the statement continued.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, had called on CNN to remove Dobbs. Its president, J. Richard Cohen, said Dobbs was "trading in falsehoods and racist conspiracy theories."
Dobbs indulged the "birther" movement, people who questioned whether President Obama was born on American soil and, therefore, whether Obama was constitutionally entitled to be president.
Dobbs' statements on illegal immigrants were called irresponsible and false.
"The National Association of Hispanic Journalists has long been on record as advocating fair, accurate and balanced coverage of Latinos and immigration in particular," NAHJ President Michele Salcedo told Journal-isms via e-mail Wednesday. "Fairness, accuracy and balance, on the whole, had been largely absent from Lou Dobbs’ coverage of immigration when he was at CNN.
"Our issue with Dobbs has never been about 'advocacy journalism.' Opinion journalism plays a treasured role as watchdog and valuable source of information in a democratic society. But this opinion should ideally be supported by facts. Dobbs has failed in this regard.
"We challenge journalists, listeners and viewers everywhere to continue weighing Dobbs’ 'advocacy journalism' — on immigration in particular — against reality. In such a contest, we have no doubt that a more reasoned understanding of immigration and Latinos will prevail."
Michael Calderone, Yahoo News: CNN calls out Fox News, MSNBC for political slants
"Yesterday rapper Kanye West taped an interview with 'Today' show anchor Matt Lauer, and was apparently so incensed with what happened he decided to preemptively comment about it on Twitter," Alex Weprin reported Wednesday for TVNewser.
Weprin quoted from West's tweets, putting them in paragraph form: ". . . let me tell you how they did me at the Today show. I went there to express how I was empathetic to Bush because I labeled him a racist and years later I got labeled as a racist. While I was trying to give the interview they started playing the 'MTV' under me with audio!!!!!! I don’t mess with Matt Lauer or the Today show, and that’s a very nice way for me to put it!
"HE TRIED TO FORCE MY ANSWERS. IT WAS VERY BRUTAL AND I ONLY CAME THERE WITH POSITIVE INTENT… Yo I really wonder if Matt Lauer thought that shit was cool to play the 'MTV' clip while I was speaking about Bush? He played clips of Bush and asked me to look at his face while I was trying to talk to him. I wish Michael Jackson had Twitter!!!!!!! Maybe Mike could have explained how the media tried to set him up!!! It’s all a fucking set up!!"
" 'Today' released a statement responding to West’s Twitter tirade:
" 'We look forward to airing Matt Lauer’s interview with Kanye West tomorrow on "Today." ' "
"When the votes were counted last Tuesday night in St. Louis, County Executive Charlie A. Dooley had won another four years in office, a victory he credits in part to a heavy voter turnout in the North County districts, home to a large number of black voters," Denise Stewart reported Wednesday for BlackAmericaWeb.com.
"Dooley, a Democrat, beat his Republican challenger by more than 15,000.
"While the voting patterns still are being analyzed from the mid-term elections, it’s clear that blacks across the country went to the polls and voted, said Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
“ 'Don't believe the hype. Black folks voted,' Campbell said.
"Two other groups have analyzed exit poll data and released a report that shows heavy voting among young people between the ages of 18 and 30.
"Young voters in the 2010 midterm elections were racially and ethnically diverse, voted for Democrats and approve of President Obama, according to new analysis of exit poll data released by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) and Generational Alliance (GA).
"An estimated 20.9 percent of all eligible young people ages 18-29 voted in the 2010 mid-terms. Younger voters chose Democratic House candidates over Republican House candidates by a margin of 57 percent to 40 percent."
Philip Baker-Shenk and Virginia Boylan, Indian Country Today: The impact of the 2010 election on Indian tribes in the US House
Pew Research Center for People & the Press: Election Results Draw Big Interest, Heavy Coverage
Mark Trahant blog: Bring It On! Relitigating the health care reform debate
One journalist looks to the For Colored Girls movie's solid box office numbers to negate all of the film's less-than-positive reviews.
The hatin' on Tyler Perry's film "For Colored Girls" was so intense that Ronda Racha Penrice, writing on theGrio.com, had to find solace in the opening weekend's box office take:
"Negative reviews from respected film critics like The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt, who proclaimed Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls . . . 'this train wreck of a movie' didn't keep black female filmgoers away. Although Friday night's box office numbers suggested that 'For Colored Girls' was on pace to gross $28 million, its actual weekend box office receipts of $20.1 million are more than respectable," Penrice wrote on Monday.
"In an age when most black films must fight to get just a thousand screens, 'For Colored Girls,' according to BoxOfficeMojo, played on nearly 2,900 screens in 2,127 theaters, averaging a healthy $9,450" per screen. "Those numbers may mean little to you but, in Hollywood, they are huge. With a reported total production budget of $21 million, a $20.1 million opening means that 'For Colored Girls' will be profitable. Hopefully, that also means that more black directors besides Tyler Perry will get to make films starring black people."
Then she got to the hatin'.
"Mainstream reviews of the film have been laced with a viciousness rarely seen when evaluating the work of other filmmakers. ' "For Colored Girls" is so shamelessly terrible it would make a great midnight hoot-fest, if you had the stomach to laugh at Shange or some of the best (and most underused) actresses of their generation: Kimberly Elise, Kerry Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad, and, as a cartoon sexpot, Thandie Newton, who gets by on her killer timing,' writes New York Magazine's David Edelstein. The Boston Globe's Wesley Morris, who is African-American, began his review with 'Tyler Perry is no stranger to kitchen-sink melodrama. But "For Colored Girls" is the kitchen sink, the washing machine, the curling iron, the sofa, and the ironing board.' "
"For Colored Girls," based on Ntozake Shange's 1975 "choreopoem" that became a classic, was the cultural event of the weekend for much of black America.
And there were in fact a few kind words.
Jenice Armstrong wrote in the Philadelphia Daily News, " 'For Colored Girls,' inspired by Ntozake Shange's 1975 poetic play, isn't the movie to see if you're feeling fragile. But if you're in a healthy place, definitely go. Just take Kleenex and a girlfriend because you're going to want to talk it out afterward. Phylicia Rashad, Loretta Devine, Elise and Thandie Newton tear the screen up. Elise, in particular, puts on an Oscar-worthy performance in her role as a battered mother who goes to hell and back after witnessing the unthinkable. My favorite line comes near the end, when Elise's character declares, 'I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely.' What a lesson there is in that."
But the headline on Courtland Milloy's column Monday in the Washington Post was, "For black men who have considered homicide after watching another Tyler Perry movie."
And Teresa Wiltz wrote on theRoot.com, "It's an exceedingly hard slog, 2 hours and 14 minutes of overwrought melodrama, bleaker than bleak, and unleavened by humor or wit."
Keli Goff, writing on theLoop21.com, said that considering all that she has read about the film, she's reached her own conclusion. "I simply remain as on the fence about seeing 'For Colored Girls' as I’ve been on the fence about other recent films with similarly negative reviews," she said.
"And I’ve ultimately decided to wait to see those on Netflix. (For the record, I read the somewhat positive review in the New York Times, one of the film’s few, but the critic, Manohla Dargis, lost credibility points with me the moment she declared that part of Mr. Perry’s baggage is that 'Black people love him and white people don’t get him.' Um, this black person would like you to try again Ms. Dargis.)"
Abdul Ali, theRoot.com: 'For Colored Girls,' Not for Black Men
Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: 'Colored Girls' isn't easy viewing
Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR: 'For Colored Girls' Counts On Fans, Not Critics
David Germain, Associated Press: 'For Colored Girls' Takes Third at Box Office
Keli Goff, theLoop.21: Do I have to go see 'For Colored Girls'?
Esther Iverem, SeeingBlack.com: The Colored House of Pain
Annette John-Hall, Philadelphia Inquirer: 'For Colored Girls' truths are undeniable, including Tyler Perry's role
Wesley Morris, Boston Globe: For Colored Girls: ‘Precious’ on steroids: Stars can’t save director from overreaching
Christopher Nelson, theGrio.com: For Colored Girls' author finds 'few flaws' in film version
Kevin Powell, daily Kos: Tyler Perry’s ‘For Colored Girls’
Mychal Denzel Smith, theGrio.com: Does Tyler Perry have a problem with black men?
Goldie Taylor, theGrio.com: 'For Colored Girls': Tyler Perry's closest film to perfection
Teresa Wiltz, theRoot.com: 'For Colored Girls,' the Movie: How Tyler Perry turned an artistic classic into a crude cartoon
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, wrestling with an ongoing financial crisis, has decided "to nullify chapters that have been inactive for more than a year and reclaim their share of membership dues," and, as an emergency measure for 2011, to claim all incoming dues, funds that had been split 50-50 with local chapters, President Michele Salcedo announced Friday on the NAHJ website.
"The convention numbers are in. Without allocating the cost of staff time to the convention, we made money," she began.
"I wish I could tell you that’s good news, but here’s why it’s not: When staff time and other overhead are factored in, our profit is more than wiped out. The convention is NAHJ’s main moneymaker, and we were counting on making a substantial chunk of our revenue for 2010 from the convention. Falling short means we have to find other sources of income. With an economic climate as tough as the one we’re in, that’s no easy task."
Brandon A. Benavides, president of the Washington, D.C., chapter, one of NAHJ's most active, told Journal-isms, "This was a complete surprise to us. We were not told this was in effect. Nor were we told this was being considered.
"We were planing to use the funding as seed money for a chapter conference in the spring. We lost up to $3,000 for local programming. Right now we get $35 from each member. We have more than 100 local members.
"The chapter board is discussing its options. We have a membership meeting on Wednesday at NPR headquarters at 7 PM." He sent a similar message to members.
Presidents of other active chapters did not respond to inquiries.
"One recent day at Dr. Natalie Carroll's OB-GYN practice, located inside a low-income apartment complex tucked between a gas station and a freeway, 12 pregnant black women come for consultations. Some bring their children or their mothers. Only one brings a husband," Jesse Washington, the Associated Press' race relations reporter, wrote from Houston on Saturday.
"Things move slowly here. Women sit shoulder-to-shoulder in the narrow waiting room, sometimes for more than an hour. Carroll does not rush her mothers in and out. She wants her babies born as healthy as possible, so Carroll spends time talking to the mothers about how they should care for themselves, what she expects them to do — and why they need to get married.
"Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unmarried mothers today, according to government statistics. This number is inseparable from the work of Carroll, an obstetrician who has dedicated her 40-year career to helping black women.
" 'The girls don't think they have to get married. I tell them children deserve a mama and a daddy. They really do,' Carroll says from behind the desk of her office, which has cushioned pink-and-green armchairs, bars on the windows, and a wooden 'LOVE' carving between two African figurines. Diamonds circle Carroll's ring finger.
"As the issue of black unwed parenthood inches into public discourse, Carroll is among the few speaking boldly about it. And as a black woman who has brought thousands of babies into the world, who has sacrificed income to serve Houston's poor, Carroll is among the few whom black women will actually listen to.
" 'A mama can't give it all. And neither can a daddy, not by themselves ,' Carroll says. 'Part of the reason is because you can only give that which you have. A mother cannot give all that a man can give. A truly involved father figure offers more fullness to a child's life.'
"Statistics show just what that fullness means. Children of unmarried mothers of any race are more likely to perform poorly in school, go to prison, use drugs, be poor as adults, and have their own children out of wedlock.
"The black community's 72 percent rate eclipses that of most other groups: 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which government figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent."
In politicians' latest effort to spin the language, Republicans lined up on the Sunday talk shows to define as "Obamacare" the health-care legislation they say they would repeal. To their credit, the journalists resisted the spin, except in quoting Republicans.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., used the term six times on NBC's "Meet the Press"; Sen.-elect Rand Paul, R-Ky., once on ABC's "This Week"; and Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota once again on CNN's "State of the Union." On that program, however, moderator Candy Crowley found herself using it in quoting Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., in a letter to House Republicans. "If all of Obamacare cannot be immediately repealed, then it is my intention to begin repealing it piece by piece, blocking funding for its implementation and blocking the issuance of the regulations necessary to implement it. In short, it is my intention to use every tool at our disposal to achieve full repeal of Obamacare," Cantor wrote, according to Crowley.
On "Fox News Sunday," regular panelist Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, worked in the phrase no fewer than nine times, three in the same passage.
"What the issue does point out is the power of headlines, the dangers we all face over being politically manipulated by word usage and the inexact science of deciding when a term has entered the popular lexicon and is acceptable," Schumacher-Matos wrote.
Meanwhile, in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS-TV'S "60 Minutes," President Obama defended his many recent media appearances. CBS correspondent Steve Kroft pointed out that the president has been on everything from "The View" to "The Daily Show," Molly Stark reported for TV Newser.
Obama replied, "I guess my attitude is if I’m reaching people, if I’m talking to them. If I’m engaged with them, whatever the venue, then hopefully that makes people a little clear about what it is that I’m trying to do, and understand the challenges that we face. And so I’m willing to take the risks of overexposure on that front."
In another development, Robert L. Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, sent a letter urging the Congressional Black Caucus to support Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., in his bid for House Minority Whip. Current House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said he might seek the same post. Clyburn is currently House majority whip.
"The Democrats’ loss of the U.S. House majority in Tuesday’s election will cost them the powerful speaker’s position, which current House Minority Leader John Boehner will assume in January when the new congressional session starts with Republicans in control of the chamber," James Rosen and David Lightman explained Monday for McClatchy Newspapers.
"That means there will be one fewer House leadership [spot] for Democrats. Clyburn and Hoyer indicated neither of them is willing yet to be odd man out."
In a new memoir excerpted on the CNN website, the multicultural Soledad O'Brien recalls the day "Jesse Jackson managed to make me ashamed of my skin color which even white people had never been able to do.
"Even though I am not sure what he is saying, I can tell he is angry," she writes in "The Next Big Story." "Today he is angry because CNN doesn't have enough black anchors. It is political season. There are billboards up sporting Paula Zahn and Anderson Cooper. He asks after the black reporters. Why are they not up there? I share his concern and make a mental note to take it back to my bosses. But then he begins to rage that there are no black anchors on the network at all. Does he mean covering the campaign, I wonder to myself? The man has been a guest on my show. He knows me, even if he doesn't recall how we met. I brought him on at MSNBC, then again at 'Weekend Today'. I interrupt to remind him I'm the anchor of 'American Morning'. He knows that. He looks me in the eye and reaches his fingers over to tap a spot of skin on my right hand. He shakes his head. 'You don't count,' he says. I wasn't sure what that meant. I don't count — what? I'm not black? I'm not black enough? Or my show doesn't count?
"I was both angry and embarrassed, which rarely happens at the same time for me. Jesse Jackson managed to make me ashamed of my skin color which even white people had never been able to do.
". . . It wasn't until recently that I called him and reminded him of what he'd said to me that day. I had done 4 documentaries on race in between the two conversations. He was totally surprised and barely remembered the details. He had not known I was black! He said he honestly did not know, that when he said I didn't count he was alluding to the fact that he thought I was a dark-skinned someone else. That is how precise the game of race is played in our country, that we are so easily reduced to our skin tone. That even someone as prominent in African American society as Rev. Jackson has a box to check for black and one for white. No one gets to be in between. I thanked him for his candor."
O'Brien, who was named 2010 Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, concludes, "Black is not a credential; it's not even a skin color. African American culture is so much more than that. I feel like it's important to say 'I'm black.' I'm proud of my roots. I am a bit Irish too, by way of Australia. Should I not say that? I am certainly Latina. Latino is an ethnicity, not a race. Latinos can be of any color from any place. I can be Latino and also black. So why can't I have a father from Australia but be black when my mother is black. People looked at me all my life and saw black. And, I am thoroughly proud of the black I am.' "
Dr. Rawle Farley, a native of Guyana, had been a professor of economics at the State University of New York, College at Brockport since 1966. He was the founder and first chairman of the Department of Economics at SUNY Brockport, and was named professor emeritus in 1995. He was the author of seminal works that helped shape the study of the economics of the developing world, including "The Economics of Latin America: Development Problems in Perspective."
He died in Rochester, N.Y., at age 88 on Saturday, and his journalist son, Christopher John Farley of the Wall Street Journal, wrote that day that "On shows like 'House,' ailments are exotic and are diagnosed and solved in 60 minutes, with a couple commercial interruptions. On TV talk shows, talking heads scrap over health care policy and try to score political points. What’s typically missing is the human element — how health care decisions actually affect flesh-and-blood people. . . .
"My dad and mom raised four sons. All of us went to public school, and all of us went to Harvard or Harvard Law School or both. All of my brothers, thanks in large part to their guidance, have gone on to interesting jobs of one kind or another.
"But this last night was a final lesson. Part of reaching maturity is accepting, without fear, that life ends. Staring into that mysterious abyss makes other challenges seem small. I felt privileged that I had gotten to go to the edge with him. Dad helped teach me how to live, and how to die too."
The author of this column has been named the 2010 recipient of the Oakland PEN's censorship award, because of his "tireless chronicling of disappearing minority viewpoints from the nation's newsrooms, an act of de facto censorship as we see it," writer and novelist Ishmael Reed, the board chairman, said.
Lifetime achievement awards are to go to Paul Krassner, the satirist best known for his 1960s magazine the Realist, and Vance Bourjaily, the novelist who died in September. The ceremony is to take place Dec. 11 at the Oakland Public Library.
PEN Oakland is "a Bay Area Chapter of the International Organization of Poets, Essayists, and Novelists" and "was founded in 1989 to address multicultural issues, and educate the public as to the nature of multicultural work."
Among past winners of the censorship award are Kitty Kelly, author of 2004's "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty," which met with the Bush family's displeasure, and Jefferson Morley, a 15-year journalist at the Washington Post whose 2008 book, "Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA," discusses the man who was CIA chief in Mexico from 1956 to 1969.
Richard Prince has written the Journal-isms column online for the Maynard Institute since 2002, and in print from 1991 to 1998 for the NABJ Journal, publication of the National Association of Black Journalists.
In 2009, the American Society of News Editors reported that in the previous year alone American daily newspapers shed 5,900 newsroom jobs last year, reducing their employment of journalists by 11.3 percent to the levels of the early 1980s. The loss has blunted diversity efforts.
Former Time Inc. executive editor Sheryl Tucker is returning to run the magazine on an acting basis.
Angela Burt-Murray, editor at Essence magazine for the last five years, "has announced her plan to leave her post and relocate with her family to Atlanta," John Huey, editor-in-chief of Time Inc. told staff members on Friday.
"We are beginning our search for a new editor, but in the interim, Sheryl Tucker, former executive editor of Time Inc., has agreed to serve as acting editor-in-chief. Sheryl, along with Marcia Gillespie, former editor-in-chief of Essence, will assist in the search and selection of a new top editor," he said in a memo.
"When Angela became editor of Essence, she was charged with the task of taking the brand into a new era. She set about building an editorial team that was committed to the traditional mission of Essence and capable of evolving the brand in a quickly changing media world.
"Under her leadership, Essence’s Barack Obama cover became the best-seller in the magazine’s history and Essence hired its first Washington Correspondent and Africa Bureau Chief. Angela created Essence’s first-ever news and relationships sections, the Essence Book Club, published three books and launched the first Essence Hot Hair special issue. Her reinvention of the Essence Music Festival Seminar Series now draws over 200,000 attendees each year.
"Angela and her team can take pride in the work they have done together on the magazine — the recent redesign, new features, and important stories such as the recent pieces profiling Black women serving in the military in Afghanistan, a three-part education series and an investigation into child sex trafficking."
More recently Burt-Murray drew criticism for hiring a white fashion director, Ellianna Placas, but Burt-Murray stuck by her decision. The flap provided a hint that not all was going smoothly internally.
Essence has weathered the recession better than other African American-oriented magazines.
For 2010, 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," as Jason Fell reported June 17 for Folio. "Time Inc.'s Essence, meanwhile, reported the smallest decline: -0.3 percent."
For the first six months of this year, Essence showed only a 2.4 percent decline in circulation, to 1,066,482, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
Before she took a recent buyout, Sheryl Hilliard Tucker was executive editor of Time Inc., working closely with Time Inc.'s editor-in-chief, helping to oversee the editorial content of some 125 magazines, according to her bio.
A veteran of the magazine business, Tucker was deputy editor of Health magazine, executive editor of Money, and editor-in-chief and vice president at Black Enterprise, among other positions. She has also edited several books.
Burt-Murray had been at Essence from 1998 to 2001 and was executive editor of Teen People when she was named Essence executive editor in 2005.
She arrived shortly before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, and the magazine extended outreach to the victims and strove to return the Essence Music Festival back to New Orleans. It did so in 2007 after staging the event in 2006 in Houston. Then-Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, now mayor of New Orleans, said the festival draws about 200,000 visitors over four days and has a $130 million to $150 million impact.
Burt-Murray wrote to readers in the November 2005 issue, referring to longtime editor Susan Taylor:
"The first time I walked into Susan Taylor's office seven years ago, it was for a staff meeting. It was my first week on the job as a fashion-and-beauty writer, and I had no idea what to expect. When Susan arrived she immediately got down to business, guiding us through a list of housekeeping details related to the current issue. Then she began to talk about what she called 'the sacred mission of the magazine' — to serve Black women and Black people, and to give voice to our community. Her words made me feel that I was part of something bigger than myself, and I felt proud to be working for an organization that put our people first. . . .
"As I settle into my new position during this eventful time, I appreciate more than ever what Susan Taylor expressed so passionately in that staff meeting years ago: We are, each of us, here to serve, to give Black women and our community a way to move forward. We're here to tell the stories of ordinary sisters who have overcome extraordinary odds and, of course, to speak the truth to those who most need to hear it. As we embark on the next stage of this journey together, please let me know what's on your mind and how we can better serve you in the days ahead."
Black sports editors at newpapers have become obsolete now that the last one, Garry D. Howard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has left his post for an online gig.
Garry D. Howard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the last remaining African American editing the sports section of a mainstream daily newspaper, is leaving in December to become editor-in-chief of the weekly Sporting News.
"We thank him for his dedication, enthusiasm and passion for exceptional journalism," Martin Kaiser, senior vice president/editor of the Journal Sentinel, wrote in a letter to the staff on Wednesday. "He has inspired his staff, earning national awards, while bringing incredible energy to our newsroom and to our community. He has hosted our Emmy-award winning Preps Plus TV show and devoted hours to speaking and mentoring throughout our community."
Howard became one of the first African Americans to head the sports section of a mainstream daily — the first at a major paper — he joined the old Milwaukee Journal as executive sports editor in 1994. He became sports editor of the merged Journal Sentinel in 1995 and assistant managing editor/sports in 2000.
An announcement Thursday said Howard "will oversee all editorial operations for Sporting News, setting editorial direction, managing writers and editors and supervising production of Sporting News magazine, Sporting News Today, SportingNews.com and Sporting News Yearbooks."
It noted that "Howard’s hire marks the first time that an African-American will lead a national general sports magazine’s editorial staff," and quoted Jeff Price, Sporting News president and publisher, declaring "our strong commitment to diversity."
Howard ended a year's term as president of the Associated Press Sports Editors in June.
"He believed in me, supported me, stood by my side and helped guide me. He gave me an opportunity when no editor at a major newspaper in this country had given an African-American a chance to lead his or her sports section.
"He is a man that I admire not just for that, but for all that he has done to make me understand that what we do is not for us, but for those who support us by buying our products.
"And over the past 16 years, we have helped turn the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel into a newspaper that enjoys one of highest penetrations of readership in the country, a newspaper that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in two of the past three years, a newspaper that has certainly earned its respect."
In 2006, American City Business Journals bought the Sporting News, then 120 years old and once known as the "Baseball Bible." Then based in St. Louis, it had nearly 700,000 subscribers. With 40 print business journals, American City Business Journals calls itself the nation's largest publisher of metropolitan business newspapers. It produces business and sports-related publications in several cities, including Charlotte, N.C., where the Sporting News is based. It is a unit of Advance Publications Inc., which publishes Newhouse newspapers and Conde Nast Magazines, among other properties.
As recently as 2007, six African Americans were sports editors at daily newspapers. But the number shrank as the newspaper business contracted. Many went to Internet sites. Leon Carter, the most recent top sports editor to leave newspapers, was sports editor at the New York Daily News for 10 years and departed in February to head ESPNNewYork.Com.
Howard told Journal-isms on Thursday that "editors in the country need to develop more candidates to run their sports departments," noting the preponderance of African Americans players in the NBA and other sports. Being able to better understand their "back story" produces better journalism, he said.
As APSE president, he said, sports editors would ask him to recommend candidates. "Gettting in there to interview for a job is half the battle," he said.
Howard began his career at the Trenton (N.J.) Times and has worked at the New Brunswick (N.J.) Home News; the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y.; the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Independent; the St. Petersburg Times; and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Don Hudson, managing editor of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., and Rod Richardson, who held the same title at the Times in Shreveport, La., have been laid off in another round of cost-cutting under way at Gannett Co. newspapers, Hudson confirmed on Thursday. Both are black journalists.
Hudson said he left on Wednesday after informing reporters and editors who reported to him. Gannett "worked extremely hard to try to find a spot for me," he said, but without success. In the office "there were lots of hugs, a few tears," and a few cross words, which he discouraged, Hudson said.
After that, Hudson said, he and his wife kept their plans to attend Jackson's Anderson United Methodist Church, where they lead a marriage ministry.
Hudson, 49, said he'd like to remain in journalism. "I still have that passion." Layoffs were reportedly still underway on Thursday throughout the Jackson newspaper.
Hudson joined the Clarion-Ledger in 2003 from Gannett's Lansing (Mich.) State Journal, where he was managing editor. In 2004, he received the President's Award from the National Association of Black Journalists for keeping NABJ's comprehensive list of African American newspaper executives.
Richardson could not be reached immediately, but Hudson, who helped recruit him to Gannett from the Associated Press, said the two men had talked.
Richardson was assistant bureau chief for the AP in Dallas when he was named managing editor of the newspaper in his native Shreveport in 2004. The Texas Associated Press Managing Editors named Richardson its AP Staffer of the Year in 2001.
Meanwhile, the Gannett Co. flagship, USA Today, is implementing a dramatic overhaul announced in August. USA Today will "focus less on print ... and more on producing content for all platforms (Web, mobile, iPad and other digital formats)," according to a slide show shown then to employees.
"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," an AP story said at the time.
"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."
The new arrangement will mean new roles for black journalists who were deputy managing editors at the paper, but not all of the assignments have been fleshed out. Rodney Brooks and Geri Coleman Tucker, who were in the Money section, now lead "content rings" that serve all USA Today platforms. Brooks oversees personal finance, markets and small business, while Tucker has technology and autos. Robert Robinson in Sports and Dash Parham in Graphics are the other two former deputy managing editors.
Robin Pence, Gannett's vice president of corporate communications, did not respond to inquiries.
The midterm elections Tuesday were such a blowout for Republicans that the news media barely found time to home in on noteworthy developments involving people of color.
According to national exit polls for House races, broken down by race and gender, the Republican blowout was a phenomenon among white voters. Blacks, Latinos and "all other races" went Democratic.
Specifically, 63 percent of white men voted Republican as did 58 percent of white women. Eighty-five percent of black men voted Democratic, as did 93 percent of black women, 60 percent of Latino men, 68 percent of Latino women and 55 percent of "all other races."
And despite those who argue that class differences among people of color have destroyed the notion of any racial "community," there was not much difference along income lines. Republicans were favored by only 28 percent of nonwhites making more than $50,000; the figure was 17 percent for those making under $50,000.
Just before the election, Les Payne, retired Newsday editor and columnist, reminded the Kansas City Branch of the NAACP that when President Obama was a candidate in 2008, he "could not convince the majority of white America to vote for him," Lewis Diuguid of the Kansas City Star reported. Obama's so-called drop in popularity "is about the same percentage of people in this country who could never accept a black man in the Oval Office running the country," Payne said, according to Diuguid.
Some pundits noted Wednesday that in many ways a different electorate went to the polls this year. "Exit polls showed voters ages 18 to 29 made up 11 percent of the electorate, a sharp drop from the 18 percent in 2008 and the lowest percentage in two decades," Perry Bacon Jr. reported in the Washington Post. Others said voters were older.
Efforts by White House and the Democrats to turn out people of color seemed to pay off. David Axelrod, political adviser to the White House, held a conference call with Hispanic media on Monday and said 660,000 Latino citizens had already voted in advance, 13 percent more than in the legislative elections of 2006, Agence France-Presse reported.
Separate stories chronicled the progress made at the polls by people of color.
"The historic Republican wave also produced historic results for minority candidates, from Latina and Indian-American governors to a pair of black congressmen from the deep South," Jesse Washington wrote for the Associated Press.
"In New Mexico, Susana Martinez was elected as the nation's first female Hispanic governor. Nikki Haley, whose parents were born in India, will be the first woman governor in South Carolina, and Brian Sandoval became Nevada's first Hispanic governor.
"Insurance company owner Tim Scott will be the first black Republican congressman from South Carolina since Reconstruction, after easily winning in his conservative district. Scott, a 45-year-old state representative, earned a primary victory over the son of the one-time segregationist U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond.
"In Florida, military veteran Allen West outfought a two-term Democrat to win his House race. He is the first black Republican elected to Congress from Florida since a former slave served two terms in the 1870s. The last black Republican in Congress was J.C. Watts of Oklahoma. He left office in 2003. There were 42 black Democrats in Congress this term.
"Several Latino Republicans defeated incumbent House Democrats. In Texas, Bill Flores snatched a seat from Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards, who had served 20 years in Congress, and Francisco Canseco beat 11-year veteran Ciro Rodriguez. Jamie Herrera became the first Latino congressman from Washington state. . . .
"On the Democratic side, Terri Sewell became the first black woman elected to Congress in Alabama. . . . Marco Rubio, a Republican and Cuban-American, won a Senate seat in Florida. He will replace the retiring Mel Martinez, another conservative Cuban."
However, the website Bolsavik.com, discussing Vietnamese Americans, reported that, "Across the country, except for a few bright spots, most Viet candidates fall flat, losing their races, sometimes spectacularly." That was true "starting with the highest ranking Vietnamese American elected official, U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao -R, [2nd congressional district in New Orleans] most famous for being the only Republican to vote for health care reform."
On the other hand, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, "daughter of a Filipina farm worker and a Filipino-Portuguese plantation worker, . . . made history as the first Asian-American, and also the youngest jurist, to hold the highest position in any state judiciary in the United States," GMA News reported via New America Media.
CNN seemed to hold the record for the most people of color commenting on election night. And in contrast to Obama's last news conference, when four black journalists were called on, none asked a question at Wednesday's more somber post-election press session.
The atmospherics on election night were fodder for commentary. Eric Deggans blogged for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times:
"Let’s say you’re an over-caffeinated, 24/7 media culture faced with covering a deluge of midterm elections Tuesday whose outcomes have been predicted in polls for days and weeks. What do you do?
"That seemed the story of media coverage Tuesday, where many news outlets treated the midterm election results like the Super Bowl and World Series combined — except for the fact that polls had predicted big losses for the Democrats and President Barack Obama over some time."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who came from behind to retain his seat Tuesday, used a post-election question about his victory strategy as an opening to unleash an attack on the media, Jessica Yellin and Kevin Bohn reported on Wednesday for CNN's "Political Ticker" blog.
"We've got to do something about these misleading polls that are all over the country. They are so unfair, and you just gobble them up no matter where they come from. You just run with them like they are the finest pastry in the world. They're false and misleading, and people pay for those polls so you will use them," he said.
"A series of polls commissioned by media outlets in the last weeks showed his race against Tea Party-backed Republican Sharron Angle a dead heat or gave Angle a small advantage," the CNN story said.
" 'I told people for weeks I was comfortable with where I was with the polls. But every poll showed me losing, and I was comfortable,' he said.
"So how did Reid, with high negatives in the state with the largest unemployment, manage to pull out a five point decisive victory? In his press conference he touted the Hispanic turnout, which was about 17 percent — higher than anticipated. It appears the Angle campaign alienated some Latino voters by running ads that cast Hispanic looking people as lawbreakers and angered others with a gaffe in which the candidate said some students at a Hispanic high school 'look Asian.' "
In Washington state, "the race between outspoken state Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders and Bainbridge Island attorney Charlie Wiggins for a seat on the state's highest court remained too close to call after Wednesday's latest election tallies," Steve Miletich reported in the Seattle Times.
Sanders had the Times' endorsement until he and a second judge stunned some participants at a court meeting by saying that African Americans are overrepresented in the prison population because they commit a disproportionate number of crimes.
The Times, for the first time in memory, withdrew an endorsement. Editorial Page Editor Ryan Blethen wrote on Friday that Sanders' statements "were so off base, so uninformed, that we could no longer stand by him. . . . The evidence is overwhelming that inequalities in the justice system and socioeconomic forces play a far greater role in deciding who is incarcerated than skin color."
Miletich wrote Wednesday, "Even with Sanders leading with 51 percent of the vote, Wiggins continued to hold a significant lead in populous King County, with more than 56 percent of the vote and an estimated 300,000 King County votes still to be counted. The county posted its latest vote totals about 4:30 p.m Wednesday."
Jerry Barmash, Fishbowl NY: WCBS-AM Pulls President Obama Press Conference
Black Radio Network: Minority Candidates Prevail (listing)
Lawrence Bobo, theRoot.com: Don't Worry, Be Happy!
Frederick Cosby, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Black Lawmakers Break New Ground, Suffer Losses
Mary C. Curtis, Politics Daily: The Obama Presidency: A Rorschach Test for National Unity?
Joel Dreyfuss, theRoot.com: Obama's New Reality
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: CNN: Midterms Draw Biggest Online Crowd Since Michael Jackson
Toni Fitzgerald, Medialifemagazine.com: ABC wins slow midterm election night
David Folkenflik, NPR: The Annals Of Election Night Analysis
Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News: Frustrated voters react to Obama's lack of progress
Clint Hendler, Columbia Journalism Review: Six Nuggets from the 2010 Exit Polls
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: Now Begins the Real GOP War on Obama
Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe: Election puts solar energy in danger
George Koo, New America Media: Politics as Usual — When All Else Fails, Blame the Chinese
Joseph Lariosa, GMA News.TV: Filipina Cantil-Sakauye Wins California SC Chief Post; Others Shine in US Polls
Andrea Morabito, Broadcasting & Cable: Cable Ratings: Fox News Tops Election Night Viewership
Jim Naureckas, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: The Sentence That Sums Up What Was Wrong With Election Coverage
Christopher Nelson, theGrio.com: Midterm elections make black history
New America Media: Health Care Repeal Would Hurt African Americans
Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Don't make media the national scapegoat
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: After the vote: More sanity, please
Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism: News Coverage Surpasses Interest at Campaign's End
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Let's at least try to get along
James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: Dallas County DA Watkins became his own enemy in election
Joni L. Reynolds, thedailyvoice.com: How did President Obama lose minorities?
Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Obama's agenda was focus, but Detroiters let themselves down
Betsy Rothstein, Fishbowl DC: Obama Called on Who?
Gregory Stanford blog: Once again economy trumps everything
Mark Trahant blog: We, the American people, are united by our division
Marisa Treviño, Latina Lista blog: An expected election night outcome brings Latinos an uncertain uneasiness for the future
Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Inspired by Obama, Republicans of color win more seats
DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: As fewer vote, the fringe dominate
Robert Yoon and Jeff Simon, CNN: Black Republicans to serve in same Congress
"The Hollywood Reporter is set to relaunch its print publication as a weekly glossy on Wednesday, and the first issue of the multimillion-dollar overhaul has some of the Janice Min trademarks developed at the helm of Us Weekly," Dylan Stableford reported Tuesday for the Wrap.
". . . On the cover is a gaggle of Hollywood actresses who, according to THR, are leading the race into awards season: Amy Adams ('The Fighter'), Annette Bening ('The Kids Are All Right'), Helena Bonham Carter ('The King's Speech'), Nicole Kidman ('The Rabbit Hole'), Natalie Portman ('Black Swan') and Hilary Swank ('Conviction').
"The six also participated in an 'hour-long freewheeling and often fun' roundtable discussion for the issue. (The resulting cover photo is not unlike Vanity Fair’s 'Young Hollywood' issue — and just as white.)"
Eric Deggans wrote in his St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times blog, "perhaps the Reporter is just highlighting something we already know well if we're paying attention: Not many Oscar-level movies these days even feature a person of color in the cast."
Coincidentally, Essence announced this week that its December issue would be a special split-cover edition featuring the cast of the buzzworthy "For Colored Girls."
"The United Nations is in danger of becoming irrelevant or even non-existent — specifically in the eyes of the developing world — because of a revived proposal to provide office space only to journalists who can afford to pay rent," Thalif Deen reported Wednesday for Inter-Press Service.
"Charging rent will drive most members of the press out of the United Nations," warns Giampaolo Pioli, president of the U.N. Correspondents' Association (UNCA), which represents over 200 full-time reporters covering the world body.
"The journalists most affected will be those from developing nations, writing either for their domestic news agencies or for daily newspapers back home, including from countries such as India, Egypt, Brazil, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, South Africa, Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Vietnam and Cyprus."