The media cover gun control, race and our culture of violence in the wake of the tragedy.
"There's been a lot of talk about media in the wake of the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., as the world struggles to understand something that may be beyond rational thought," media critic Eric Deggans wrote Monday in the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times.
"Big picture-wise, I think America is experiencing the brutal intersection of many thorny issues: a runaway gun culture we have indulged for too long; a culture of violence which too-often glorifies those who end problems with a fist or gun; a chronically underfunded mental health system woefully unable to help average people struggling with mental illness; and a media culture which can make outsize villains of those who commit the most horrific acts.
"It would be nice if the tragedy of 20 children killed in their own elementary school was a big enough shock to prompt some movement at least on the curbing of assault weapons ownership and boosting of mental health resources in America. But at a time when politicians can't even agree on a plan to avoid raising every voter's taxes by the start of 2013, I'm not holding my breath. . . . "
Peter Applebome and Brian Stelter, New York Times: Media Spotlight Seen as a Blessing, or a Curse, in a Grieving Town
Lauren Ashburn, Daily Beast: There's No Crying in Journalism -- Even After the Horrifying Connecticut School Shootings
Wayne Bennett, Field Negro: A culture of madness
Curtis Brainard, Columbia Journalism Review: Lanza, autism, and violence
KJ Dell'Antonia, New York Times: How Not to Talk With Children About the Newtown Shooting
Tammerlin Drummond, Oakland Tribune: Gun control must also address ongoing urban mayhem
Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine: Newsmagazines soar over shooting coverage
Leonard Greene, New York Post: Our culture of killing
Emil Guillermo blog, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Newtown: A marker for how far we haven't come in the gun control debate
Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Does the Public Really Oppose Gun Restrictions?
Bob Herbert, Demos: War At Home
Blair Hickman, Suevon Lee and Cora Currier, ProPublica: The Best Reporting on Guns in America
Richard Horgan, FishbowlLA: Mass Shooting Takes Sports Out of 710 ESPN Talk Radio Equation
Harry A. Jessell, TVNewsCheck: TV Should Lead Push To Reduce Violence
Timothy Johnson, Media Matters for America: Fox News Sunday And Meet The Press Push Media Myth On Gun Lobby's Electoral Dominance
Albert Kleine, Media Matters for America: Media Rely On Inflammatory Rhetoric In Absence Of Real Economic Debate
Suevon Lee, ProPublica: Seven of the Most Striking Ways States Have Loosened Gun Laws
Matt K. Lewis, Daily Caller: The media should be ashamed of its Connecticut coverage
Liza Long, Blue Review: I am Adam Lanza's Mother: It's time to talk about mental illness and Hanna Rosin, Slate: Don't Compare Your Son to Adam Lanza
Wesley Lowery and Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times: School shooting: How do you tell a child his protectors are dead?
Melody T. McCloud, M.D., Psychology Today: Mental Health Experts, After Sandy Hook, If Not Now, When?
Steve Mertl, Daily Brew: Reporters covering school massacre slammed for interviewing children
Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Connecticut shooting 'reminds us that evil knows no boundaries'
Tim Molloy, the Wrap: Newtown School Shootings: Why Are Networks Interviewing Kids?
Frazier Moore, Associated Press: Media Struggle With Shooting Story Facts
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: Public Divided over What Newtown Signifies
Janita Poe, al.com : Tell me, Alabama: Gun control or "right to bear arms?"
James Poniewozik, Time: Kids at Tragedies: Turn Off the Cameras
Radio Ink: What if You Are a Music Station?
Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Perhaps gun control now possible in honor of 20 dead children
Betsy Rothstein, FishbowlDC: Journos Take Verbal Beatings During Weekend Coverage of Sandy Hook Killing Spree
Walter Sabo, Radio Ink: How Should Your News Station Cover The Tragedy?
Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Remember the children, and address what ails our nation
Yan Searcy, Ebony: AFTER SANDY HOOK: Can We Stop the Violence?
Gabriel Sherman, New York magazine: Rupert Murdoch Wants Stricter Gun Laws After Newtown, But Fox News Doesn't Get the Memo
Tavis Smiley, HuffPost BlackVoices: Blood on Our Hands
Brittney M. Walker, EURWeb.com: Among the Sandy Hook School Victims, a 6-Yr-Old Black Girl: Ana Greene
Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World: Adam Lanza's Mother Taught Her Son How to Shoot…Then He Killed Her First
Alex Weprin, TVNewser: The Media's Attention Turns To Guns
David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun: Early Sandy Hook coverage once again reveals a confused, failed media
Media personality Tavis Smiley, a harsh Obama critic whose "poverty tour" champions the cause of people in poverty, is having his chain pulled by a Los Angeles radio talk-show host who formerly worked for Smiley.
In escalating language between the two men, Morris W. O’Kelly, whose on-air name is Mo'Kelly, has called Smiley's campaign "more about ego and constant pushing of his name."
A story in the Los Angeles Wave newspapers last week asserted that Smiley sent O'Kelly "a 'cease and desist' letter demanding that he stop talking and writing bad about him!" It made the Obama critic seem as though he could not take criticism when he was the object.
Smiley publicly remained silent, but the story by Betty Pleasant gained steam as its message was repeated on at least two black-oriented websites, the black entertainment outlet EUR Web and radio host Tom Joyner's Black America Web.
Then, on Sunday, EUR Web published an "open letter" to Smiley from Najee Ali, director of Los Angeles-based Project Islamic HOPE (Helping Oppressed People Everywhere), siding with O'Kelly.
Ali said of Smiley, ". . . It's time that you cease and desist with this foolishness! "Tavis the White establishment has been propping you up for years. . . ."
Moreover, O'Kelly appeared Tuesday to discuss the dispute on a national platform: Roland Martin's segment on radio's syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show," on which Smiley was once was a regular.
On the Tuesday program, Martin referred to the dispute as the "Tavis-Mo'Kelly throwdown." O'Kelly said he was all for eradicating poverty, "but I am not going to support foolishness." The poverty tour "is not substantive change," he said.
The drama is part of a narrative that began in the 2008 presidential campaign after Obama did not appear at Smiley's annual "State of the Black Union" symposium. Smiley became increasingly critical of the future president and was later joined by Princeton professor Cornel West. West recently called Obama "a Rockefeller Republican in blackface."
The Oct. 30 "cease and desist" letter cited by the Wave newspapers does not in fact demand that O'Kelly "stop talking and writing bad about him!"
Sent by the law firm of Browning & Browning, the letter cites the "Confidentiality and Non[-]-Disclosure Agreement" that O'Kelly signed when he left Smiley's company. "While we acknowledge your First Amendment rights to comment on Smiley's views and opinions, we will not tolerate blatant violations of the Agreement, statements that constitute defamation against Smiley and the Smiley Enterprises, or statements that are intentionally tortious in nature," it says.
Verboten are "the use, dissemination, or publication of any Confidential Information" and "disseminating or publishing any false, misleading, or otherwise defamatory statements pertaining to Smiley and/ or Smiley Enterprises."
At issue is whether the observations O'Kelly has told his listeners about Smiley's actions while O'Kelly worked for him violate the confidentiality agreement. O'Kelly says no; Smiley says yes.
Asked by Journal-isms Monday for an on-the-record statement, Smiley said through his spokeswoman Leshelle Sargent, "The document from Ken Browning's office speaks for itself. As the letter indicates, Mr. O'Kelly was fired but has every right to speak on Mr. Smiley's political views -- which he had done repeatedly over radio and social media without interference from our company. He cannot, however, speak on Mr. Smiley's confidential and privileged business affairs. You must know that this is common practice in our business. Mr. O'Kelly surely did which is why he signed the confidentiality agreement.
"To go on the radio airwaves suggesting anything other than what is clearly stated in the letter is pure gossip. And we don't deal in gossip. To THEN spread lies in a newspaper article is ridiculously beyond the pale. . . . "
O'Kelly denies he was fired. "I was given an end date to my employment of Jan. 1 2011, due to 'funding' I decided to leave early," he told Journal-isms.
Journal-isms asked O'Kelly Monday whether the disagreement is simply a case of a former disgruntled employee striking back. O'Kelly messaged:
"When Tom Joyner said that Dr. West was his 'sidepiece'...I said nothing publicly. When Steve Harvey called him and Dr. West 'Uncle Toms' I had no public comment. When Najee Ali picketed and protested Smiley's building (both times) I had no public comment, either time. Even more recently (yesterday) when MSNBC's Melissa Harris Perry likened him to the Black nurse during the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, I neither commented nor highlighted it.
"All of the aforementioned were low-hanging fruit. I said nothing. I could have easily [piggybacked] on any or all of those if the goal were to simply snipe at him. I have never engaged in any name-calling and I've never wavered from the issues. This is far from personal on my part. But I am absolutely clear that his litigation threats have been reserved for me and me only. So if there is animosity, it's not from me.
"Let the record be clear on these inarguable truths.
"He's released a number of books on poverty, and his story about 'Failing Up' I've said nothing. I haven't engaged in tearing down anything and all things 'Tavis.' There is no such history.
"In the time between me leaving The Smiley Group (11.24.2010) and now, I have only made three public commentaries in relation to him.
"In June of 2011, I published a commentary on EURWEB.com regarding the coming release of R. Kelly's memoir and how Smiley was publishing it. Given Smiley's public statements and stances regarding the mistreatment of women in this country, it was highly odd and an obvious contradiction that someone supposedly so in support of women and touting a "youth foundation" would also be trumpeting publishing R. Kelly's memoir. I highlighted the glaring contradiction. . . . "
"Blog version of story below: "http://mrmokelly.com/2011/06/the-lies-of-r-kelly-and-his-truth-for-25-95/
" To which, Tavis called Lee Bailey and demanded that my story be removed. . . . He is the disgruntled employer, let's be clear. . . ." [Updated Dec. 18]
Mo'Kelly with the Rev. Dion Evans: "Mo'Kelly in the Morning," KTLK-AM Los Angeles, Nov. 16: "The Unmitigated Gall" (mp3)
Mo'Kelly: "Mo'Kelly in the Morning," KTLK-AM Los Angeles, Nov. 29: "U Mad Bro?" (mp3)
Members of the four journalism associations that make up the Unity Journalists coalition each voted for "UNITY: Journalists for Diversity" as the new name to succeed "Unity: Journalists of Color," the groups announced on Monday.
"Unity: Journalists for Diversity" won out over "UNITY: Journalists of Color" and "UNITY: Journalists of Color and Diversity."
The full Unity board is to discuss the results of the membership vote on Friday, with each board member save the president, who votes only when there is a tie, weighing in on the new name. "UNITY board members are expected to vote how their organizations voted and respect the wishes of their members," a Unity announcement said on Dec. 4.
Voting among the associations was light. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists tally was UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, 116 votes, or 66 percent; UNITY: Journalists of Color & Diversity, 34 votes, 19 percent; UNITY: Journalists of Color, 25 votes, 14 percent. NAHJ has nearly 2,000 members, President Hugo Balta said.
The Asian American Journalists Association vote was UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, 217 votes, or 70.7 percent; UNITY: Journalists of Color & Diversity, 58 votes, or 18.9 percent; UNITY: Journalists of Color, 32 votes, or 10.4 percent. AAJA has more than 1,700 members, Doris Truong, national president, said.
The Native American Journalists Association vote was UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, 49, or 67 percent; UNITY: Journalists of Color and Diversity, 14, or 19 percent; UNITY: Journalists of Color, 10, or 13.7 percent. NAJA has 232 members, Rhonda LeValdo, president, said.
The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association vote was UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, 132 votes, or 81.4 percent; UNITY: Journalists of Color and Diversity, 29, or 17.9 percent; and UNITY: Journalists of Color, 1, 0.6 percent. NLGJA has 584 members, Michael Triplett, NLGJA president, said.
Although the National Association of Black Journalists withdrew from Unity last year, 82 members voted in an unofficial poll, according to Benet Wilson, an NABJ representative to the Unity Name Task Force. NABJ has more than 3,000 members.
UNITY: Journalists of Color & Diversity Inc. received 35 NABJ votes, or 50 percent; UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc., 28, or 40 percent; and UNITY: Journalists of Color & for Diversity Inc., 9 votes, or 12.9 percent. The "UNITY: Journalists of Color & for Diversity Inc." option was later changed to "Unity: Journalists for Diversity." There were 12 write-ins.
The Unity coalition renamed itself "Unity Journalists" in April after it admitted NLGJA, which warned that its members might boycott Unity's summer convention if the words "Journalists of Color" were not dropped from the coalition's name.
The name change prompted a backlash from many who said Unity was veering from its history and purpose. Among them were NABJ members, who left the coalition last year over governance and financial issues, and who Unity is trying to woo back.
The ballot sent to members of the associations in the coalition explained, "The UNITY Board created the UNITY Name Task Force to address our members' concerns about how our previous name, 'UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc.' was changed to 'UNITY: Journalists Inc.' without their input at our April Board meeting. The Board unanimously agreed to find a name that better reflected our expanded coalition."
With perhaps unfortunate timing, a weekend airing of "Django Unchained: The TV One Special," showed TV One founder Cathy Hughes and director Quentin Tarantino talking about how much they liked Westerns because people are allowed to kill each other so much.
In the one-hour "profound and revealing look at the making of Quentin Tarantino's blockbuster film Django Unchained," Tarantino added that he likes "extreme violence."
The interview was filmed before Friday's horrific violence in Connecticut, in which a gunman killed 20 first-graders, his mother, six school employees and himself. In the wake of the shooting, the Weinstein Co. is canceling the Hollywood premiere, Amy Kaufman reported Monday for the Los Angeles Times.
In an interview Saturday, Jamie Foxx, a star of the film, told the Associated Press that actors can't ignore the fact that movie violence can influence people.
Foxx told the AP's Nicole Evatt Saturday, "We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn't have a sort of influence. It does."
Evatt wrote, "In true Tarantino form, buckets of blood explode from characters as they are shot or shredded to pieces by rabid dogs," describing the film as "Quentin Tarantino's upcoming ultra-violent spaghetti Western-style film about slavery.
"Tarantino, whose credits include 'Pulp Fiction' and the 'Kill Bill' volumes, said he was tired of defending his films each time the nation is shocked by gun violence," Evatt continued. "He said 'tragedies happen' and blame should fall on those guilty of the crimes."
Journal-isms asked a TVOne spokeswoman if she wished to clarify her remarks. ". . . Ms. Hughes has no comment at this time," Monica Neal replied by email.
Richard Horgan, FishbowlLA: Thanks to Drudge N-Word Headline, THR Wednesday Web Traffic Was Off the Chain
The African American jobless rate is about twice that of whites, a disparity that has barely budged since the government began tracking the data in 1972, Michael A. Fletcher noted Saturday in the Washington Post.
Discrimination has long been seen as the primary reason for this disparity, which is evident among workers from engineers to laborers. "But fresh research has led scholars to conclude that African Americans also suffer in the labor market from having weaker social networks than other groups," Fletcher continued.
"Having friends and relatives who can introduce you to bosses or tell you about ripe opportunities has proved to be one of the most critical factors in getting work. Such connections can also help people hold onto their jobs, researchers say.
" 'It is surprising to many people how important job networks are to finding work,' said Deirdre A. Royster, a New York University sociologist. 'The information they provide help people make a good first impression, get through screening and get hired.' "
Gregory H. Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists and a former chairman of its Sports Task Force, told Journal-isms that the observation holds true in journalism.
"Networking is key to our industry, the problem is in sports journalism not many of the decision makers know any of our members nor other minorities," Lee said by email. "Journalism is still about who you know, especially in sports journalism. There [has] been some progress, but not enough has been made to make a larger impact."
ESPN is being criticized for creating an environment in which ESPN commentator Rob Parker would question on the air whether Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was a "real" black man. Parker was suspended on Friday, a day after he made the comments on ESPN's "First Take."
"ESPN should not be congratulated for suspending Parker, though that's undoubtedly the desired reaction in Bristol," Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports wrote Saturday.
"Instead, those within the network who have decided to abdicate any sense of journalistic responsibility in favor of a craven desire for ratings and 'buzz' should probably take a few minutes and consider that they created and nourished an environment by which Rob Parker, who had made multiple professional missteps before, could thrive by saying stupid stuff and getting away with it."
In announcing Parker's suspension on Friday, ESPN said a "further review" of the Parker situation would take place.
That review ". . . should include not just Parker, but also everything about the show on which Parker made his comments on Thursday morning, ESPN First Take," Michael David Smith wrote Friday for NBC Sports.
"It's telling that when ESPN aired Best of First Take on Thursday afternoon, it included Parker's comments. That's because First Take thrives on provoking controversies with its panelists making outrageous claims, and it wasn't until Parker's comments were the subject of widespread criticism later in the day that ESPN felt the need to acknowledge the comments were inappropriate," Smith wrote.
Two months ago, viewers watching "First Take" accused Stephen A. Smith of saying "N**** please" to another commentator while the two debated a topic. Smith denied using the word.
Asked to comment on the criticism, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said by email, "Our thoughts are with our neighbors in connecticut and we will come back to this issue in due time."
Deron Snyder of the Washington Times wrote that he spoke with Parker just before he went on the fateful show. Snyder told Journal-isms by email, "my regret is that i didn't caution rob about his angle or attempt to flat-out dissuade him from pursuing it." He wrote in his column, ". . . I imagine this is what it feels when you're the last person to speak to someone before he or she harms themself."
Michael Cottman, Black America Web: Rob Parker's Rhetoric Becoming a Pattern
Ricardo A. Hazell, EURWeb: Rob Parker's Remarks Prove Ivy League Degree Not Indicative of Intelligence
Shane Paul Neil, HuffPost BlackVoices: An Open Letter to Rob Parker
Bob Raissman, Daily News, New York: The FALL guy: If ESPN cans Rob Parker for his absurd comments on Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, he shouldn't be only one
Jason Reid, Washington Post: Robert Griffin III shouldn't have to 'prove his blackness'
Michael David Smith, NBC Sports: Rob Parker’s RG3 comments prove a thorny issue at ESPN
George M. Thomas, Akron Beacon Journal: ESPN suspends Rob Parker and reality
Rhonda Gillespie, who was laid off a year ago as news editor of the Chicago Defender, has returned to the black-press publication as managing editor, Michael House, the Defender president, told Journal-isms on Monday. "She had done a good job for us before . . . ," House said.
The previous managing editor, K.P. Chaney, said she became executive producer of the "Perri Small Show" on WVON-AM in October.
Gillespie had been at the Citizen News Group, according to her LinkedIn profile.
House said he wants more local news coverage and is looking to hire an executive editor and "a couple good reporters." Four people remain on the editorial staff, he said.
Meteorologist Rhonda Lee, fired from KTBS-TV in Shreveport, La., after responding to a Facebook posting criticizing her short Afro, may be "the New Poster-Lady for Black Women," as EURWeb dubbed her, but she would not have a strong legal case to challenge her termination, according to John F. Garziglia, a Washington communications law attorney.
Garziglia wrote Monday for Radio Ink that "social media policies are a whole new field of employment law." Lee was wrong to respond to the viewer, he said, given that "The broadcast station had a policy that management, not the air personality, responds to viewer complaints."
Reminded that Lee maintained she viewed the criticism as a comment, not a complaint, Garziglia elaborated for Journal-isms.
". . . If I was representing the terminated employee, I would probably attempt to argue that it was a 'viewer comment' and not 'viewer complaint' but I would also have to wonder how far that argument would take me," Garziglia wrote in an email. "What I would need to know in assessing whether this is a valid point is whether Lee and other TV station personalities at her station routinely posted replies responding to [viewers'] comments on the station's Facebook page. If the air personalities at this station routinely posted reply comments in response to viewer comments, and such postings were encouraged by management, then that significantly changes the story.
"There is no indication from anything I read on this story, however, that such postings of reply comments by the station's air personalities on Facebook were either routine or encouraged by station management. Rather, it appears to me that Lee's reply postings at issue were a lark or an exception, and something that management specifically warned against in its August 30th email.
"Indeed, if the August 30th email was as Lee apparently would like to interpret it, one would have expected management to include a statement encouraging employees to continue their posting of social media reply comments but warning that if a viewer comment could be regarded as a complaint, then it should be referred to management. That is not what the email said. After management explained why in general terms it was best for air personalities not to respond to viewer complaints at all, the email went on to specifically state:
" 'If you choose to respond to these complaints, there is only one proper response: Provide them with (redacted) contact information, and tell them that he would be glad to speak with them about their concerns. Once again, this is the only proper response.
" 'And don't forget, if you have a social media question of any sort, please contact me and I will be glad to help you in deciding the best plan of action.'
"There is no suggestion in this admonition that employees should continue reply comments. Further, there is the specific direction that if there are any questions, management should be consulted. It is specific and definitive.
"Finally, it is Lee's own words that perhaps most pointedly contradict her defense that she believed that the viewer posting was a 'comment' and not a 'complaint'. She begins her reply comment with the statement 'I am sorry you don't like my ethnic hair'. A person stating that he or she does not like something is the classic definition of a person making a 'complaint' (a statement expressing discontent or unhappiness about a situation). Lee thus acknowledges that the viewer posting was a complaint. . . ."
"I will also add as an aside that I do think that management here in this incident may have been woefully tone-deaf to the journalism, diversity and social issues surrounding criticisms of an air personality's physical appearance. But that is an observation that goes to the wisdom of firing an air personality under the circumstances, rather than to the law applicable to doing so when there is not any claim that the air personality's physical appearance itself had any bearing on management's decision."
Jason Samenow noted in the Washington Post last week, "African Americans have historically been an minority in meteorology. A 2008 American Meteorological Society survey revealed less than 2 percent of its members were black (that breakdown is for the entire meteorology industry; statistics regarding race/ethnicity in the broadcast industry were not provided in that survey)."
Jamil Smith, Melissa Harris-Perry site: Comments on her 'ethnic' hair should've been a teachable moment
" 'Zero Dark Thirty' was named the top picture of the year by the African American Film Critics Assn., which gave 'Middle of Nowhere' honors for lead actress Emayatzy Corinealdi and to Ava DuVernay for her screenplay," Jon Weisman reported Sunday for Variety.
"Ben Affleck of 'Argo' was best director, while Denzel Washington ('Flight') won lead actor honors. Nate Parker ['Arbitrage'] . . . and Sally Field ('Lincoln') earned supporting acting kudos.
" 'The Intouchables' won for top foreign-language film, while 'The House I Live In' and 'Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution' tied in documentary. 'Rise of the Guardians' won for top animated feature.
"The org's top 10 in film this year: 'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Argo,' 'Lincoln,' 'Middle of Nowhere,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Les Miserables,' 'Django Unchained,' 'Beasts of the Southern Wild,' 'Moonrise Kingdom,' 'Think Like a Man.' "
"Congo has become a never-ending nightmare, one of the bloodiest conflicts since World War II, with more than five million dead," Jeffrey Gettleman, East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times, wrote Sunday in a first-person piece about covering the Democratic Republic of Congo. "It seems incomprehensible that the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa and on paper one of the richest, teeming with copper, diamonds and gold, vast farmlands of spectacular fertility and enough hydropower to light up the continent, is now one of the poorest, most hopeless nations on earth. Unfortunately, there are no promising solutions within grasp, or even within sight. . . . "
". . . Quietly, and mostly on shoestring budgets, Haitian media in greater Miami are covering news of Haiti beyond its catastrophes," Tsitsi D. Wakhisi reported Monday for Editor & Publisher. "Catering to America's largest concentration of Haitian immigrants and their offspring, emergent ethnic media are reaching out to a South Florida audience longing to connect to their homeland -- and the new land. The Haitian media's efforts are documented in a University of Miami study released earlier this year. The study looks at the uses and practices of Haitian media in Greater Miami -- from newspapers and radio to TV shows and websites. . . . "
As part of a "Can't Stop Giving" effort, former Washington Post columnist Donna Britt has asked readers to send holiday cards to Sybrina Fulton, mother of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, "during what surely will be a painful first Christmas without her son."
Reporter Nefertiti Jáquez of KPRC-TV in Houston is heading back to Philadelphia's WCAU-TV, Mike McGuff reported on his Houston blog on television news. Anzio Williams, who joined WCAU as VP of news in July, and has been shaking up the staff, announced another departure at the station in an email to the staff Friday night: that of Dawn Timmeney, who has been an anchor and reporter over her 12 years there. Philadelphia Daily News columnist Dan Gross reported the news via Twitter. In other developments this month, Williams announced that meteorologist Brittney Shipp is joining WCAU from KTVK in Phoenix and that Tim Lake would anchor his final broadcast after 20 years at the station. Last month, reporter Daralene Jones was hired from WFTV in Orlando.
". . . Mort Zuckerman, widely known for his work as a publisher, editor, real estate investor and philanthropist, has pledged $200 million to endow the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia University," Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia, said in a message to alumni Monday. Reviewing the year, Bollinger also said, "We reaffirmed Columbia's commitment to diversity by dedicating $30 million to the recruitment and support of outstanding female and under-represented minority faculty members."
"In a coda to the often contentious relationship between Mitt Romney's staff and the press, news outlets are preparing to file a formal complaint to the Romney campaign contesting some of the seemingly inflated charges that were billed to them from the campaign trail," McKay Coppins reported Friday for BuzzFeed.
"The International Press Institute (IPI) today welcomed news that Bolivian journalist Fernando Vidal was released from an Argentine hospital where he had been treated for third-degree burns suffered during an arson attack in October," Scott Griffen reported Friday for the institute. " . . . Vidal had been conducting a live radio broadcast when four masked men stormed his station and set the journalist on fire using gasoline canisters they had brought with them. . . ."
Facebook users: "Like" "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" on Facebook.
Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.
Following his controversial comments, ESPN is launching a full review of the pundit's conduct.
ESPN commentator Rob Parker was suspended Friday after igniting a firestorm when he questioned whether Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was a "real" black man.
Parker said Thursday on ESPN's "First Take," "Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?" Both men are African American.
"He's not real. OK, he's black, he kind of does the thing, but he's not really down with the cause," Parker said. "He's not one of us. He's kind of black, but he's not really, like, the guy you want to hang out with because he's off to something else.
"We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about how he's a Republican ... Tiger Woods was like, 'I've got black skin but don't call me black.' "
ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said in a statement, "Following yesterday's comments, Rob Parker has been suspended until further notice. We are conducting a full review."
Griffin's father, Robert Griffin II, told USA Today that "he was baffled by the comments but wouldn't fire back Thursday night, even though Parker's remarks ignited the blogosphere and sparked angry social media responses," Jim Corbett reported for USA Today.
"A few minutes later after his father spoke, Griffin III tweeted to supporters: 'I'm thankful for a lot of things in life and one of those things is your support. Thank you.' "
Parker's comments have landed him in hot water before. In January 2009, Parker resigned as a sports columnist for the Detroit News after the criticism that followed asking losing Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli at a postgame news conference whether he wished his daughter had married "a better defensive coordinator."
Parker said then he "asked the people for a buyout and they granted me one" after the climate at the paper had deteriorated for him.
Less than two months before that, Parker apologized for implicating Michigan State University backup quarterback Kirk Cousins in an off-campus assault in a comment on WDIV-TV's "Clubhouse Confidential." Cousins now backs up Griffin for the
In 1991, Parker was brought up on charges by the Newspaper Guild for crossing picket lines during a bitter strike at the New York Daily News. The charges were later dropped, and Parker moved on to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Writing of Griffin in October in a 3,600-word profile in the Washington Post, Dave Sheinin said, ". . . He was raised in a military household, by two now-retired Army sergeants who taught him to see the world without much regard to race, and those lessons continue to inform his worldview as a young adult.
" 'My parents raised me to not ever look at race or color,' Griffin said recently, 'so it doesn't have a big part in my self-identity. [But] I think it has played a big part in how other people view me, just going back to when I was a kid, to even now, doing the things that I've been able to do. As an African American, I think other people view that in a different way than I do.'. . . "
In the Washington Post, Dan Steinberg recounted Thursday's "First Take" exchange:
" 'This is an interesting topic,' Parker said. 'For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing. And I don't know who's asking the questions, but we've heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people.
" 'I understand the whole story of I just want to be the best,' Parker continued. 'Nobody's out on the field saying to themselves, I want to be the best black quarterback. You're just playing football, right? You want to be the best, you want to throw the most touchdowns and have the most yards and win the most games. Nobody is [thinking] that.
" 'But time and time we keep hearing this, so it just makes me wonder deeper about him,' Parker went on. 'And I've talked to some people down in Washington D.C., friends of mine, who are around and at some of the press conferences, people I've known for a long time. But my question, which is just a straight honest question. Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?'
"What does that mean, Parker was asked.
" 'Well, [that] he's black, he kind of does his thing, but he's not really down with the cause, he's not one of us,' Parker explained. 'He's kind of black, but he's not really the guy you'd really want to hang out with, because he's off to do something else.'
"Why is that your question, Parker was asked.
" 'Well, because I want to find out about him,' Parker said. 'I don't know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he's a Republican, which, there's no information [about that] at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like I've got black skin but don’t call me black. So people got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on.'
"Then Skip Bayless asked Parker about RGIII's braids.
" 'Now that's different,' Parker said. 'To me, that's very urban and makes you feel like…wearing braids, you're a brother. You're a brother if you've got braids on.'
"Then Stephen A. Smith was asked for his take. He exhaled deeply.
" 'Well first of all let me say this: I'm uncomfortable with where we just went,' Smith said. 'RGIII, the ethnicity, the color of his fiancée is none of our business. It's irrelevant. He can live his life any way he chooses. The braids that he has in his hair, that's his business, that’s his life. I don't judge someone's blackness based on those kind of things. I just don't do that. I'm not that kind of guy.
" 'What I would say to you is that the comments he made are fairly predictable,' Smith went on. 'I think it's something that he may feel, but it's also a concerted effort to appease the masses to some degree, which I'm finding relatively irritating, because I don't believe that the black athlete has any responsibility whatsoever to have to do such things. . . . ' "
"Late Thursday, Parker remained confident there would be no disciplinary action taken," Todd Johnson reported for the Grio. "When a Twitter user sarcastically wished Parker 'good luck' in his 'next line of work,' Parker shot back:
"Typical silly response. Watch me on First Take tomorrow and Sat.#pleze"
Michael Cottman, Black America Web: Black Women: Is RG3 Down With Me? (Dec. 10)
Eric Deggans blog, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times: Hey ESPN: Don't fire Rob Parker for his "cornball brother" comments; learn to talk about race better
Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Houston Chronicle: Controversial ESPN comments about RGIII stir unfortunate race debate
"'There's a lot of trying to shield the children from the eyes of the media,' ABC News reported in the aftermath of the horrific Sandy Hook school shooting, describing the scene," Joanne Ostrow reported Friday for the Denver Post.
"There was a lot of shoving of microphones in the faces of the children, too.
"Shielding and shoving, the media plays its part in what has now become a too-well-rehearsed ritual.
"Television did its usual best and worst Friday morning to relay information of the latest national horror. For hours, a confusing array of raw information, much of it unconfirmed, was pushed through social media and TV outlets. More questions than answers kept the spectacle a blur. Were there multiple shooters? How many fatalities? How many of them children? Did the killer or killers have a connection to the school?
"On CNN, Soledad O'Brien said, 'we want to remind viewers this is raw reporting from various networks, we cannot independently confirm.'
"In special reports pre-empting regular programming, news anchors used the media's familiar backhanded trick of lamenting media intrusiveness while furthering media intrusiveness in the pursuit of information.
"Beyond the sickening events, beyond the much needed discussion of gun control, the Connecticut tragedy moved questions of journalistic ethics to the fore.
"Questions like: Does it serve any journalistic purpose to put children on live television in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting? Is it ethically [permissible] to put shocked parents on live TV, to give the nation a taste of the horror? . . . "
Autistic Self Advocacy Network: ASAN Statement on Media Reports Regarding Newtown, CT Shooting
Marian Wright Edelman, Children's Defense Fund: "Dear God! When Will It Stop?"
James Fallows, the Atlantic: American Exceptionalism: The Shootings Will Go On
Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic: The Case for More Guns (And More Gun Control)
Scott Hensley, NPR: How To Talk To Your Kids About The Conn. Shootings
Blair Hickman, Suevon Lee and Cora Currier, ProPublica: The Best Reporting on Guns in America
Rick Horowitz, YouTube: Just the Latest Mass Shooting (video)
Ezra Klein, Washington Post: Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States
Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: Now Is the Time to Talk Guns, Mental Illness
Jack Mirkinson, Huffington Post: Connecticut Shooting Media Coverage Follows Tragically Familiar Script
Darryl E. Owens, Orlando Sentinel: Teen's death over loud music one more reason to change gun laws (Dec. 7)
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: As Fiscal Cliff Nears, Democrats Have Public Opinion on Their Side
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Gun control? Maybe these kids are onto something (Dec. 4)
Kevin Powell, Daily Kos: The Connecticut Shooting: How Many More?
Nate Silver, New York Times: In Public 'Conversation' on Guns, a Rhetorical Shift
Al Tompkins, Poynter Institute: What journalists should know about school shootings and guns
Jeff Winbush blog: A Real American Horror Story
Tavis Smiley's radio partner Cornel West, the Princeton University professor, made headlines last month when West called President Obama a "Rockefeller Republican in blackface."
On Thursday, the president agreed with the first part of that phrase. In an interview with Alina Mayo Azze of Univision's Noticias Univision 23, Obama said, ". . . The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican. I mean, what I believe in is a tax system that is fair."
Azze asked Obama, " . . . why reach out to the local media? I'm from a local TV station in Miami, why reach out to us?"
Obama answered, "One thing that I found is so important during the course of the campaign is that the conversation here in Washington isn't the same as the conversation out in the country. The people are worried about paying their bills, about paying their mortgage, about the quality of their schools, about getting their kids to college, big potholes in roads, flooding, making sure that we have safe streets. And so when I — whenever I talk to local stations where what I find is the ability to reach more Americans, and in resolving issues like the fiscal cliff here, it's so important that members of Congress hear from people back home.
"So I'm hoping that if one thing comes out of this — this interview, I'm hoping that people will watch me and say, 'You know what? I want to reach out to my member of Congress and say, "Compromise. Let's go ahead and get this thing solved. Let's think about the country first and not politics first." ' "
Michael Gerson, Washington Post: The overlooked plight of black males
Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: President Obama's Legacy: On Top of His Game?
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Who's afraid of the fiscal cliff?
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Good pol should never say never (Dec. 9)
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Ready to jump from the 'fiscal cliff'
Tonyaa Weathersbee, Black America Web: The Obama Attacks Continue
Howard W. French, New York Times bureau chief for West and central Africa in the 1990s and author of "A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa," wrote Dec. 3 about Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations then viewed as President Obama's choice to become the next secretary of state.
". . . In any discussion of Susan Rice's career, there is no escaping Africa," French, who now teaches at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, wrote in the Atlantic. "It is the place where she cut her teeth and built her essential record as a diplomat and national security official. Although there has been nary a hint of this in the fuss about Benghazi, I would go further still and say that one would be hard pressed to find anyone in American government who has played a larger and more sustained role in shaping Washington's diplomacy toward that continent over the last two decades."
U.S policy toward Africa ". . . remains mired in an approach whose foundation dates to the Cold War, when we cherry-picked strongmen among Africa's leaders, autocrats we could 'work with,' according to the old diplomatic cliché.
"These were men like Zaire's late dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, whose anti-democratic politics, systematic human rights violations, and high tolerance for corruption we were willing to overlook so long as they stayed on our side in the great strategic struggles of the day. We counted on them to hold down the fort in their respective countries and regions, and in so doing, as the thinking went, to protect U.S. interests."
Does that mean that Rice's announcement Thursday to withdraw her name from consideration for secretary of state was a good thing?
"Absolutely," French told Journal-isms by email. "Her legacy in Africa has been a very negative one."
Anson Asaka, Jack & Jill Politics: Why Didn't Obama Stand By Susan Rice?
Dylan Byers, Politico: Fox News slams Andrea Mitchell
Bonnie Newman Davis, the Grio: Susan Rice's withdrawal reminds us of Guinier, Elders and more
Keli Goff, the Root: Susan Rice: This Decade's Lani Guinier
Janaye Ingram, Loop21: Susan Rice and How Washington Works
Melody Johnson, Media Matters for America: Fox Uses Falsehood-Based Poll Questions To Back Up Its Phony Benghazi Scandal
John Prendergast, Daily Beast: Susan Rice's Middle Finger, and the World’s Deadliest Wars
Susan Rice, Washington Post: Why I made the right call
J. Christian Watts, Jack & Jill Politics: A Hell of a Day
A second reporter at KTBS-TV in Shreveport, La., was fired for defending himself online, but unlike his former colleague Rhonda Lee, the meteorologist with the short Afro who has been the center of a media whirlwind, Chris Redford would rather not talk about it.
"I'm really just trying to lie low and keep things private right now," Redford, a crime reporter at the station, messaged Journal-isms on Friday.
However, Lylah M. Alphonse, senior editor of Yahoo! Shine, reported Friday, "one source with ties to the station tells Yahoo! Shine that Redford was fired without warning for responding to a personal attack on his own Facebook page.
" 'He is an openly homosexual man that denounced gay slurs left on same KTBS site,' the source, who requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation, wrote in an email to Yahoo! Shine. 'The only difference is he did not write on the KTBS Facebook page, he responded on his own PERSONAL FB page and was given NO prior warning.'
"Redford . . . was defending a straight coworker who was being harassed online, the source wrote. KTBS [general] manager George Sirven told Yahoo! Shine in an email that he had no comment.
"In November, Shreveport, Louisiana police arrested a local man accused of stalking Redford. 'KTBS gave emotional and financial support to white females that faced problems with stalking, but directed Chris Redford to ignore the public humiliation this man put him through,' the source told Yahoo! Shine."
Asked about an earlier report that he was dismissed "for using Facebook to respond to a reported gay stalker," Redford messaged Journal-isms, "I did not 'respond to a gay stalker.' "
Meanwhile, Jennifer Vanasco, writing Friday in Columbia Journalism Review, wrote that Lee should not have been fired.
". . . News organizations are not ordinary businesses. They have a duty to the public to inform and educate. What Rhonda Lee did in responding to those Facebook posts was correct misinformation on a Web page administered by the station as well as educate viewers about African American culture. Lee was using social media as a journalist; she did exactly what she should have," Vanasco wrote.
"But she shouldn't have needed to do anything, because the station should have responded first, either by taking the comments down (most organizations have a policy of deleting racist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise inappropriate comments) or by replying in a way that supported its African American staff members and viewers."
More than 13,000 people have signed a petition to reinstate Lee.
"The state-run weekly, which also comes in digital form, aims to explain 'the relationship between China and the African continent,' its editor says.
"China's CCTV and Xinhua news agency already have operations in the region.
" . . . 'The relationship between China and the African continent is one of the most significant relationships in the world today,' said the paper's publisher and editor-in-chief, Zhu Ling.
". . . China has also implemented other innovative media projects, like giant news screens in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, and thousands of scholarships for African journalists, reports BBC Africa analyst Mary Harper."
Last month, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. military's Africa command had established two newswebsites in Africa as part of a propaganda effort aimed at countering extremists in two of Africa's most dangerous regions — Somalia and the Maghreb. The sites' American origins are not immediately evident to viewers.
". . . Last week, I stopped at a gas station on the South Side and a quirky magazine caught my eye," Mary Mitchell wrote Monday in the Chicago Sun-Times. "Nab Shot is a compilation of mug shots and bills itself as 'Chicago's Premier Crime Stopping Publication.'
"For $1, you can look at people arrested in a two-week period for offenses ranging from retail theft and prostitution to DUI and first-degree murder.
"The publisher, identified only as Jeff, said, 'What I am doing is exposing criminals and people that have been arrested. Bottom line, I am just putting everybody's business out there.'
"That idea is actually a throwback to the 'Evening Whirl,' a weekly publication Ben Thomas started in St. Louis in 1938. Thomas developed a strong following by dishing up sordid details of crime, scandal and gossip going on in the black community. . . . "
"This week, Republican lawmakers in Michigan — birthplace of the United Auto Workers and, more broadly, the U.S. labor movement — shocked the nation by becoming the 24th state to pass 'right-to-work' legislation, which allows non-union employees to benefit from union contracts," Chris Kromm wrote Thursday for the Institute for Southern Studies.
"While Michigan's momentous decision has received widespread media attention, little has been said about the origins of 'right-to-work' laws, which find their roots in extreme pro-segregationist and anti-communist elements in the 1940s South.
" . . . Civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., who saw an alliance with labor as crucial to advancing civil rights as well as economic justice for all workers, spoke out against right-to-work laws; this 1961 statement by King was widely circulated this week during Michigan's labor battles:
" 'In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right to work.' It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights."
Emil Guillermo blog, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Right-to-work for Christmas: The Labor Scrooge lives in Michigan and maybe in our communities
To look through the fall 2012 newsletter [PDF] of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University is to see a faculty and staff that seems to lack people of color. "We have had many among the fellows" in the past, though there is "no one on the staff at this time," Alex S. Jones, the former New York Times reporter who is director of the center, told Journal-isms by telephone on Friday. Jones said there are only four fellows and noted that the center does not have quotas. Turnover among the staff is slow. Still, he said that the organization is "mindful of gender and race" and that "you can expect to find people of color when we can and to make the diversity broadly defined. If you will look over our history, you will see that we have had people of color represented and we will again."
"NBC News correspondent Mara Schiavocampo has been named the anchor of the early-morning NBC program 'Early Today,' which airs at 4 AM ET and MSNBC's early news show 'First Look,' which airs at 5 AM ET," Alex Weprin reported Friday for TVNewser. "She will continue in her role as a correspondent, contributing to all of the NBC News platforms and programs."
"Blacks are barely represented on the air and in management at Twin Cities television and radio stations," Charles Hallman reported Wednesday for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. "The MSR recently examined four local station websites — WCCO (Channel 4), KSTP (Channel 5), KMSP (Channel 9), and KARE (Channel 11) and found: WCCO: one Black female anchor, one Black anchor/reporter, one Black reporter. KSTP: No Blacks. KMSP: One Black reporter. KARE: No Blacks."
"If a notable woman dies and a major national newspaper doesn't report it, did it actually happen?" Dana Liebelson asked Wednesday in Mother Jones. "Big papers' lists of significant deaths in 2012 overwhelmingly feature men. The Washington Post put 18 women and 48 men on its list. On the other side of the country, the Los Angeles Times listed 36 women and 114 men. And lest you think this is some kind of freak 2012 phenomenon, the New York Times has consistently listed many more men than women over the last five years."
"Django Unchained: The TV One Special," a one-hour "profound and revealing look at the making of Quentin Tarantino's blockbuster film Django Unchained " airs Saturday at 7 p.m. ET and Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, TV One announced. Cathy Hughes, founder and chairperson of the cable network, "asks filmmaker Quentin Tarantino about why he wrote and directed this controversial and never before told story about one of the most shameful and difficult times in American history." The movie features Jamie Foxx as a slave who kills white men to free his wife from the clutches of a sadistic plantation owner.
Philadelphia Daily News columnist Jenice Armstrong Friday announced the 10 winners of the paper's third annual, Oprah-style My Favorite Things holiday-gift giveaway. "Thank you to everyone who nominated deserving neighbors, friends and co-workers. We had a couple of hundred entries, and narrowing the list down to just 10 names was a challenge," Armstrong wrote.
"On the New Orleans radio show 'Out to Lunch' Monday, Nola.com business manager David Francis said The Times-Picayune's print circulation has gone up since it cut print frequency," Andrew Beaujon reported Friday for the Poynter Institute. " 'I will tell you that we've been pleasantly pleased with what we've seen since Oct. 1, when we launched the three-day-a-week newspaper,' he told host Peter Ricchiuti."
T.J. Holmes left CNN, where he was a weekend anchor, for BET, which developed a daily late-night show for him that has since been scaled back to once a week. "Don't Sleep" was partly inspired by Comedy Central's "the Daily Show" with Jon Stewart. Now the Daily News in New York, citing "industry sources," reports that Jeff Zucker, CNN's new chief, "is looking to liven up the ailing channel's late-night slate with a news-driven satire program, like 'The Daily Show' . . . "
In Charlotte, N.C., "Radio personality Ramona Holloway has been named the new co-host of 'Charlotte Today,' the lifestyle and entertainment show that airs on WCNC-TV," April Bethea reported Thursday for the Charlotte Observer.
"Mexico's regional newspapers are publishing more stories about murders linked to the drug trade, but they remain reluctant to write what they know about the organizations responsible for the killings," Stephen Engelberg reported Thursday for ProPublica. "A new study by our colleagues at Fundación MEPI, an investigative journalism center in Mexico City, reviewed daily coverage in 14 of 31 Mexican states. It found a significant increase in the number of stories on organized crime groups. But the study says that only two newspapers, El Norte in Monterrey and El Informador in Guadalajara 'provided context to the violence, identified the victims and did follow-ups. . . . ' "
"An Equality Matters analysis found that cable news networks' coverage of the reemergence of Uganda's proposed 'Kill the Gays' bill — legislation which would make homosexuality punishable by death — has been scant over the past several weeks and paled in comparison to their coverage of the Korean pop song 'Gangnam Style,' " according to EqualityMatters.org, "a new media and communications initiative in support of gay equality." The bill was officially moved to the bottom of the Parliament's schedule on Thursday.
"Reporters Without Borders is saddened to learn that the journalist Al-Hosseiny Abu Deif died yesterday in central Cairo's El Qasr Al Aini Hospital of the serious head injury he received while covering clashes outside the presidential palace in Cairo in the early hours of 6 December," the press freedom group reported on Thursday. "Hospitalized in a critical condition after a rubber bullet was fired at his head at close range, Deif never recovered consciousness."
". . . HuffPost Media Group is partnering with Japan's Asahi Shimbun Company to make the Japanese-language version of the HuffPost happen. As for when the site will launch, well, that's still being worked out. However, HuffPost officials are still excited about it," Chris O'Shea reported Thursday for FishbowlNY.
An item in an early version of this column about Tavis Smiley and a Los Angeles radio host has been withdrawn. Journal-isms will return to the topic in a future column.
Facebook users: "Like" "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" on Facebook.
Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.
KTBS news director says that Rhonda Lee was warned about how to respond to viewer complaints.
Responding to an uproar over the firing of Rhonda Lee, a meteorologist who responded to criticism of her short Afro on the station's Facebook site, the news director at KTBS in Shreveport, La., said the firing was over violations of station policy, not her hair.
Randy Bain, KTBS news director, pointed to a memo emailed to staff members on Aug. 30. Lee told Journal-isms Wednesday, however, that the memo referred to viewer complaints, and she viewed the Facebook message as a comment, not a complaint. In any case, Lee said, while she does not deny its existence, "That's the first I'm hearing of this memo."
Bain issued the following late Tuesday:
"Typically this station does not comment on personnel matters, but due to the publicity and interest about this issue, the station has included the following statement.
"On November 28, 2012, KTBS dismissed two employees for repeated violation of the station’s written procedure. We can confirm that Rhonda Lee was one of the employees. Another employee was a white male reporter who was an eight year veteran of the station. The policy they violated provided a specific procedure for responding to viewer comments on the official KTBS Facebook page. Included is an email that was sent to all news department employees informing them of this procedure. This procedure is based on advice from national experts and commonly used by national broadcast and cable networks and local television stations across the country.
"Unfortunately, television personalities have long been subject to harsh criticism and negative viewer comments about their appearance and performance. If harsh viewer comments are posted on the station’s official website, there is a specific procedure to follow.
"Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued. Rhonda Lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance. She was fired for continuing to violate company procedure."
The Aug. 30 email is addressed to several people, including Lee [scroll down]. The other names are redacted. It says:
"Over the past few months, we've had a few Facebook Fans complain about commercials, promos, and even our programming and talent. I would like to offer some guidance, although this really is more of a starting point for a 'Social Media Best Practices' policy for our company:
"When we see complaints from viewers, it's best not to respond at all. Responding to these complaints is a very sensitive situation and oftentimes our off-the-cuff first response will be the wrong response. Even if our immediate reaction response to the complaint were exactly what it should be, it still leaves us open to what has a huge opportunity to become an argument. Either way, it's a no-win situation for us, and for the viewer also.
"If you choose to respond to these complaints, there is only one proper response: Provide them with (redacted) contact information, and tell them that he would be glad to speak with them about their concerns. Once again, this is the only proper response.
"And don't forget, if you have a social media question of any sort, please contact me and I will be glad to help you in deciding the best plan of action.
"Thank you for your time,
"Marketing Project Manager|News & Promotions
Lee had messaged Journal-isms on Saturday, "I had a meeting with my ND [news director] and GM [general manager] Friday trying to get my job back. They told me the policy I violated isn't written down, but was mentioned in a newsroom meeting about a month-and-a-half prior. A meeting I didn't attend. So when I asked what rule did I break there isn't anything to point to."
Since Lee's comments appeared in the Monday edition of Journal-isms, "talk about a whirlwind," Lee said. On Wednesday morning, CNN drove her to its Dallas studios to appear on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien" [video]. She also fielded calls from radio shows in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Chicago, from MSNBC and from radio's nationally syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show."
The case has reverberated around the Internet, particularly on websites addressing issues of black women and their hair.
"THIS would not have happened if she was a white woman with long, straight hair," said one posting on curlynikki.com. But others agreed with the station. ". . . I understand why such an ignorant post upset her, but she didn't have to take his bait," another said.
On Washington's WPFW-FM Wednesday morning, Eric Deggans, media critic for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, compared the case with that of Jennifer Livingston, a TV news anchor at WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wis., who responded on the air in October to a viewer who said she was too fat. "She went on the air and stood up for herself and was supported," Deggans told "Morning Brew" host Askia Muhammad. "I find it interesting. The station managements reacted totally differently. Rather than condemning the viewer's racism, they got rid of her."
On Tuesday, the Poynter Institute's Andrew Beaujon asked Livingston about the Lee case. The Wisconsin anchor emailed that she had not read much about it, but ". . . I don't think when you decide to become a journalist it means you have to put a piece of duct tape over your mouth regarding comments directed at you."
The National Association of Black Journalists took the middle ground early Thursday on the Rhonda Lee situation, urging television stations to "allow greater latitude when it comes to employees defending themselves" in online forums but reminding NABJ members "to continue to employ discretion when responding to complaints to minimize opportunities for targeted, adverse action."
The association said KTBS "missed a golden opportunity to initiate a community dialogue about respect, identity and diversity, particularly as it relates to redefining standards of beauty, what is aesthetically acceptable in television news and the value of on-air journalists beyond appearance."
The NABJ statement said, ". . . We encourage media companies to protect employees on official social media platforms that are used to engage news consumers. We urge managers to be more sensitive to social media comments and attacks on their employees. Many companies employ social media editors or utilize electronic systems to quickly discard offensive comments, but not all organizations do. Therefore, companies should allow greater latitude when it comes to employees defending themselves in these forums.
"When Wisconsin news anchor Jennifer Livingston was ridiculed as overweight by a viewer, managers quickly came to her defense and allowed her to address the issue in an editorial-style response. This reaction facilitated a greater discussion in which Livingston emerged as a role model and a tremendous asset to her employer. NABJ believes Lee's managers missed a golden opportunity to initiate a community dialogue about respect, identity and diversity, particularly as it relates to redefining standards of beauty, what is aesthetically acceptable in television news and the value of on-air journalists beyond appearance.
"What happened to Lee is disturbing. Although the nation continues to become more diverse, biases based on race, ethnicity, gender and culture persist in newsrooms.
"We want to remind every journalist, especially NABJ members, to review your company's social media policy and employee handbook for guidelines about using these evolving, yet essential, news delivery and audience engagement tools. We also remind our members to continue to employ discretion when responding to complaints to minimize opportunities for targeted, adverse action."
Rebecca Aguilar, Latino Communicators: KTBS-TV Breaks Its Own "Unwritten" Policy To Speak Out On Firing of African-American Meteorologist
Jenice Armstrong blog, Philadelphia Daily News: Meteorologist fired after responding to viewer who didn't like her hair
Michael Cottman, Black America Web: Black Woman Fired Over Response to Short Hairstyle
Adam Duvernay, the Times, Shreveport, La.: Two firings at KTBS reach the national stage
Cord Jefferson, Gawker: Should This Louisiana TV Reporter Be Fired for Responding to Racists on Facebook?
Julie Moos, Poynter Institute: TV station says it fired meteorologist for replying to viewer on Facebook
Christine Roberts, Daily News, New York: Black meteorologist in Louisiana, Rhonda Lee, touched by support after getting canned for defending natural hair from racial comments on Facebook
Jeff Sonderman, Poynter Institute: TV station firing renews questions about whether journalists should respond to critics online (Dec. 13)
Sporty Afros.com: Rhonda Lee Fired For Responding to Comments About Her Natural Hair
Angela Stefano, WBLK-FM, Buffalo, N.Y.: Friday is 'Black Fro-Day' -- Add an Afro to Your Profile Pic to Show Support For News Anchor Rhonda Lee, Win Rihanna Tickets!
"NPR has formed the core reporting team for its initiative to deepen coverage of race, ethnicity and culture," the network announced on Thursday.
"Gene Demby, founder of the blog PostBourgie and former journalist at the New York Times and Huffington Post, will be the team's blogger and correspondent. Shereen Marisol Meraji returns to NPR as a reporter, joining correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates at NPR West in Culver City, CA. Two additional positions of apprentice reporter and apprentice digital journalist will be hired soon.
"The team, which will ultimately include six journalists, will deliver a steady flow of distinctive coverage on every platform, including a new branded space within NPR.org expected to launch this spring. Demby and Meraji will join Bates in producing compelling stories and presenting new voices and conversations online and on-air."
A year ago, Demby was promoted to editor of HuffPost BlackVoices, then stepped down to become political editor. Last month, the Huffington Post confirmed that he had left the company.
Matt Thompson, the NPR journalist who is heading the race-relations reporting team, said in September that NPR had received more than 1,300 applications for four positions.
"White people will no longer make up a majority of Americans by 2043, according to new census projections, part of a historic shift that is already reshaping the nation's schools, workforce and electorate," Hope Yen reported for the Associated Press.
"The official projection, released Wednesday by the Census Bureau, now places the tipping point for the white majority a year later than previous estimates, which were made before the impact of the recent economic downturn was fully known.
"America continues to grow and become more diverse due to higher birth rates among minorities, particularly for Hispanics who entered the U.S. at the height of the immigration boom in the 1990s and early 2000s. Since the mid-2000 housing bust, however, the arrival of millions of new immigrants from Mexico and other nations has slowed, pushing minority growth below its once-torrid pace.
"The country's changing demographic mosaic has stark political implications, shown clearly in last month's election that gave President Barack Obama a second term -- in no small part due to his support from 78 percent of non-white voters. . . "
The bureau reported, "The black population is expected to increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million" from 2012 to 2060. Its share of the total population would rise slightly, from 13.1 percent in 2012 to 14.7 percent in 2060.
"The Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million in 2012 to 34.4 million in 2060, with its share of nation's total population climbing from 5.1 percent to 8.2 percent in the same period.
"Among the remaining race groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives would increase by more than half from now to 2060, from 3.9 million to 6.3 million, with their share of the total population edging up from 1.2 percent to 1.5 percent. The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population is expected to nearly double, from 706,000 to 1.4 million. The number of people who identify themselves as being of two or more races is projected to more than triple, from 7.5 million to 26.7 million over the same period.
"The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043. While the non-Hispanic white population will remain the largest single group, no group will make up a majority."
"In a world with hundreds of cable channels and thousands of websites, it must sound as quaint as talk about VHS players and Walkmans to worry about how many media outlets any one company gets to own," Eric Deggans wrote Tuesday in his media blog in the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times.
"But even in a media landscape with countless options, the nation's biggest media companies also control our biggest TV stations, radio outlets and online destinations, wielding an influence that can be magnified far beyond the actual platforms they own.
"In the Tampa Bay market, just three companies -- Clear Channel, CBS Radio and Cox Radio -- own 20 radio stations, including the top 16 outlets reaching more than 80 percent of people listening in November's ratings period.
"And some of media's biggest websites, from the Huffington Post to the Drudge Report, are built around 'aggregating' stories already reported by other news outlets, allowing the New York Times or Wall Street Journal to echo across a wider swath of the Internet than you might imagine. . . ."
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: NAA: FCC Rule Change Would Have Little or No Impact on Minority Ownership
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: NABOB: FCC Should Delay Ownership Vote
Jenn Ettinger, freepress.net: Congressional Opposition Growing to FCC Media Ownership Proposal
Edward Wyatt, New York Times: G.O.P. Balks at Plan to Add Airwaves for Mobile Internet and WiFi
"The Chicago Sun-Times declared Jenni Rivera 'a heroine' and quoted an entertainment executive who lauded her 'extraordinary gifts,' " Paul Farhi wrote Wednesday in the Washington Post. "The New York Times compared her to Diana Ross and Tina Turner. Numerous media accounts labeled her a superstar.
"Chances are, this was news to you. Chances are, you'd never heard of Rivera until you learned that she died in a plane crash in Mexico on Sunday.
"The American-born Rivera has sold at least 15 million records -- more than many other successful and widely acclaimed singers in the United States. But she did not enjoy much attention from the English-language media. Although she was bilingual, Rivera sang only in Spanish. Her most ardent, record-buying fans reside primarily in the American Southwest and farther south, across Mexico.
"Rivera's life and death suggest once again that it's possible to live in parallel Americas, with the larger part only dimly aware of the enormous things happening in the other one. For all our instant connectivity, it's possible for someone to be hugely famous and perfectly obscure -- all at the same time. . . . "
Kevin Roderick, LAObserved: How the media missed Jenni Rivera: part two
A week after a shakeup in the programming of WPFW-FM, Washington's community radio station, the general manager, John Hughes, remained the most unpopular person in the room.
Hughes addressed a packed "town hall meeting" of about 180 station listeners at Howard University that ran over its two-hour limit Tuesday night.
He heard an earful as his boss, Summer Reese, interim executive director of the Berkeley, Calif.-based Pacifica Foundation, which supervises the five Pacifica stations around the country, sat in the audience. Hughes again apologized for the way more than a dozen of the station's on-air programmers were abruptly let go.
But Hughes repeated that listenership is dwindling, the station is "reeling under economic conditions" and it needs to "be smarter about what we put on the air."
The audience, mostly veterans of the civil rights era, reminded Hughes of the unique nature of much of the station's programming. It is almost as unique as the structure that, in theory at least, gives listener representatives a role in governing the station.
In her turn at the microphone, Sofiyyah Abdullah, a Muslim and Native American, told the crowd that "most of the Muslims on the station have been canceled" and that "the only radio station that carries Native American news" in the area, hosted by Jay Winter, had been moved from Friday night to 1 p.m. Fridays, in "the middle of the afternoon."
Nasar Abadey, a jazz drummer who teaches at Peabody Preparatory, a community school for the performing arts in Baltimore, said he used the station as a teaching tool. "My youngest son was raised to listen to WPFW 24/7," he added. Referring to the station's progressive political stance and its "Jazz and Justice" slogan, Abadey said, "jazz is a music of protest."
John Constantine, a Haitian American businessman, said that Haitians have taken off from work Saturday nights to listen to "Konbit Lakay," the station's Haitian show. "That's how we got our news," Constantine said. ". . . Haitian people paid a heavy price to be where they are. You serve the people," he said to Hughes. "The station was there for people who had no voice."
Hughes, challenged to provide details on how he would address the objections and urged to roll back his programming changes, proposed to caucus with Reese and some of the community representatives on the elected local governing body, known as the local station board. After continually pointing to the station's dire financial straits, Hughes was asked his salary. He ignored the question, then said when pressed, "I'm not going to divulge that."
Marjan Ali, PressTV: 'US govt. discriminates against Native Americans'
Jonathan L. Fischer, Washington City Paper: The Airing of Grievances: Can WPFW modernize while remaining D.C.'s "jazz and justice" station?
A census of imprisoned journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists identified 232 writers, editors and photojournalists behind bars on Dec. 1, an increase of 53 from 2011 and the highest since the organization began the survey in 1990, the press freedom group said this week.
"We are living in an age when anti-state charges and 'terrorist' labels have become the preferred means that governments use to intimidate, detain, and imprison journalists," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said in a news release.
"Criminalizing probing coverage of inconvenient topics violates not only international law, but impedes the right of people around the world to gather, disseminate, and receive independent information.
"The three leading jailers of journalists were Turkey (49), Iran (45), and China (32), where imprisonments followed sweeping crackdowns on criticism and dissent, making use of anti-state charges in retaliation for critical coverage."
CPJ said the census "does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year, which are otherwise documented on www.cpj.org. Journalists who either disappear or are abducted by nonstate entities such as criminal gangs or militant groups are not included in the prison census. Their cases are classified as 'missing' or 'abducted.' "
"It all started with my pal Tanya's Facebook post," Annette John-Hall wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer as the holiday season began after Thanksgiving.
" 'Jack and I have decided to reject the out-of-control commercial aspect of the Christmas season,' she wrote recently. 'We will not be giving gifts to any adults. Instead, we hope to share the gift of time and fellowship with the people we love during the holidays.'
". . . Over the years, I've come to know you, dear readers, pretty well. Agree or disagree, you're a passionate, caring bunch. So I have no problem issuing a request:
"Take the Giving Pledge. Tell me what you are doing to give of yourselves this holiday season. I will take the best stories and share them in this space between now and the new year. Just a simple act of giving can change how we think about what has become a receiving season. . . ."
On Wednesday, John-Hall gave readers an update. "Well, just as I suspected, dozens of you responded. And the most wonderful thing is that most of you don't only donate your time, talent and treasure during the yuletide season, but you do it all year round.
". . . . I don't think I've ever met a young person more focused on community uplift than Nehemiah Davis.
"Davis holds at least a half-dozen neighborhood events annually through his nonprofit, the Nehemiah Davis Foundation ( www.davisfoundation.org). He recently served Thanksgiving dinners to 300 people in West Philadelphia and Overbrook during his Food From Heaven Thanksgiving Feast. Now he's knee-deep in organizing his Gifts From Heaven Holiday Party, on Dec. 24 at Shepard Recreation Center, where he'll provide at least 50 kids with a Christmas carnival and presents."
Darryl E. Owens, Orlando Sentinel: How to simplify your Christmas season, and be happier for it (Nov. 23)
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: What truly matters during the season (Nov. 28)
Ruben Rosario, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.: This holiday season, I'm watching a film about torture
Ana Veciana-Suarez, Miami Herald: The gift of reading: a true joy (Dec. 1)
Ana Veciana-Suarez, Miami Herald: 21st Century Hanukkah: Vodka, latkes and candles (Dec. 8)
Michael Paul Williams, African American columnist for the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, told Tom Silvestri, his publisher, in an interview Sunday, "A lot of what we do as columnists is designed to tick people off. Historically, Richmond has preferred polite to provocative. My subject matter hasn't always gone over very well with a portion of our readership, which over two decades have made their feelings known through snail mail, email, Letters to the Editor and online reader comments. I've been accused of 'fanning the flames' so much that I wondered at times if a bellows was in my column photo." Williams was named one of the humanitarian honorees by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.
"WDTW-AM in Detroit will be donated by Clear Channel to The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council," RadioInk reported on Tuesday. "The donation of WDTW will allow MMTC to offer a complete build-out opportunity of a new, major-market radio station to an entrepreneur or non-profit entering into broadcasting."
"David Gonzales has parted ways with KCAL, the CBS-owned independent station in Los Angeles, a station spokesperson has confirmed to TVSpy," Merrill Knox reported for TVSpy on Tuesday. "Gonzales anchored the station's noon and 2 p.m. newscasts alongside Sandra Mitchell. He was last on the air December 4."
Voting by members of the associations that comprise the Unity Journalists coalition ends at 11:59 p.m. EST Friday. Unity board members will ultimately decide a new name for the coalition, but board members say they want to know their constituents' choices. The coalition includes Hispanic, Asian American, Native American and lesbian and gay journalists.
" . . . Since Comcast took majority control of NBCUniversal in January 2011, it has installed new management at Telemundo and increased the operating budget," Meg James reported Monday for the Los Angeles Times. "Last year Comcast agreed to spend about $600 million for the rights to broadcast the FIFA World Cup soccer tournaments in 2015 through 2022 -- nearly double the amount that Univision currently pays."
Jina Moore, a freelance correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor for five years, has been impressed by the response to her October story, "Below the line: Poverty in America," winner of the November Sidney Award, Amber Larkins reported for Wednesday for AJR. "The article focused on how the government measures poverty and what it's like to be poor in America."
"Curators at Smithsonian have included Democracy Now! co-host Juan González's book, Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America on their holiday gift guide for history lovers," Amy Goodman announced on Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" "This comes as the film based on his book has won an award for the best use of archival footage at the International Documentary Association Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Harvest of Empire: The Untold History of Latinos in America uses rarely seen archival material to reveal the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and today's immigration crisis."
"ESPN's '30 for 30' season finale 'You Don't Know Bo' earned a 2.3 metered market rating over the weekend to become the cable channel's highest rated documentary on an overnight basis, according to the Nielsen Company," Cherie Saunders reported Monday for EURWeb.com. "Directed by Michael Bonfiglio and produced by @radical.media, the film takes a close look at two-sport athlete Vincent Edward 'Bo' Jackson, the only athlete ever selected to play in the NFL Pro Bowl and the MLB All-Star Game." Watch it here.
A DVD of Stanley Nelson's 1999 film "The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords," the first to chronicle the history of the black press, is being offered as a premium for listeners who pledge $100 to WBAI-FM, the Pacifica station in New York.
"Last Wednesday, on a flight to Washington DC, I read an article in both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times about the horrific fire in Bangladesh two weeks ago in which 112 people died in a factory producing clothes for Wal-Mart," Adam Levy wrote Sunday for Talking Biz News. "Both articles were respectful of the tragedy and the magnitude of the disaster. That's where the similarities end -- and left me thinking one publication dropped the ball on reporting this crucially important story. . . ."
Two cases challenging state and federal laws concerning same-sex marriage couples are not the only significant civil rights cases the Supreme Court has decided to take up this term, Suevon Lee reported Monday for ProPublica. "Last month, the Supreme Court said it will consider the constitutionality of a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the hallmark legislation from the Civil Rights era that has come under increased challenge." Lee offers an explainer.
"Matt Drudge is taking advantage of the criticism directed at filmmaker Quentin Tarantino for the use of a racial epithet in his films to inappropriately splatter that epithet across his webpage seven times, in an apparent attempt to shock readers with racially charged rhetoric," Remington Shepard reported Wednesday for Media Matters for America. "Drudge has a history of featuring racially inflammatory language and images on his website."
Facebook users: "Like" "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" on Facebook.
Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.
The meteorologist was let go after responding to a viewer's racist remarks about her Afro.
A black female meteorologist has been fired from the ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La., she told Journal-isms, because she responded to a racial remark posted by a viewer on the station's Facebook page.
KTBS-TV's action against Rhonda Lee followed a previous response by Lee to a viewer who questioned whether she should wear her short Afro, suggesting she put on a wig or grow more hair.
Lee messaged Journal-isms on Saturday, "I had a meeting with my ND [news director] and GM [general manager] Friday trying to get my job back. They told me the policy I violated isn't written down, but was mentioned in a newsroom meeting about a month-and-a-half prior. A meeting I didn't attend. So when I asked what rule did I break there isn't anything to point to.
"The week I was brought in to discuss [the] last post, I was told by my ND that there were a few unclear things in the policy and that we were going to have a meeting with George Sirven, the GM about it. I was instead fired the next week -- no discussion had. Sirven claims that even if a policy isn't on paper we as employees are responsible for abiding by them. There isn't anything in our employee manual talking about social media dos and don'ts. I was accountable for a rule that essentially isn't in existence."
Sirven told Journal-isms by email, "We do not comment on personnel issues out of respect for the employee and the station."
Lee provided Journal-isms with copies of the relevant Facebook postings to the station's website.
On Oct. 1, a viewer identified as Emmitt Vascocu wrote, "the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news.what about that (cq)."
Lee replied the same day, "Hello Emmitt--I am the 'black lady' to which you are referring. I'm sorry you don't like my ethnic hair. And no I don't have cancer. I'm a non-smoking, 5'3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I'm in perfectly healthy physical condition.
"I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn't grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don't find it necessary. I'm very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn't a reason to not achieve their goals.
"Conforming to one standard isn't what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that.
"Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching."
Vascocu replied that Lee was right to be proud of who she is and that he is not a racist, but ". . . this world has . . . certain standerd (cq). if youve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?. . ."
In a Nov. 14 post, viewer Kenny Moreland wrote, "Not to start any trouble, because I think that the annual 'Three Minute Smile' is a great function and I love to see kids so happy. Am I the only one that has noticed that this year, all the kids, lets say, are people of color? This is Channel 3, not KSLA, the 'Project Pride' network, that might as well be part of the BET Channel. Did KTBS slip up on a news story, and owe S'port's criminal mayor Cedric, a favor? Seems like some racism going on to me. Just saying....."
Lee replied the next day, "I'm not sure I understand your comment, '...this is Channel 3 not KSLA...' What are you trying to say?
"The children are picked at random. So there goes your theory that they are selected for their color. I would like to think it doesn't matter who the child is. If you truly just want to see the kids happy your message had a funny way of showing it.
"Happy holidays.--Met. Rhonda Lee"
Referring to that exchange, Lee messaged Journal-isms, "I was the one who brought it to their attention after they let it fester on the page for 6 days, but was then chastised for responding at all. I sent a screen grab to my boss via e-mail telling them that I'm ok with the anti-Rhonda commentary sometimes, but what has been posted at the time was . . . racist, and I asked them to please support me in removing the ones that didn't encourage thoughtful, respectful and civil discourse on our FB page. I never got a reply, only punished. To this day the posts are still there."
Gary Dinges reported in May for the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman that Lee filed a discrimination suit against her former Austin employer, NBC affiliate KXAN. Lee said in the suit that she was "repeatedly subjected to crude and insensitive remarks about her race." She joined the Shreveport station 11 months ago.
Lee told Journal-isms, ". . . Race has been the issue with me since I started. That much is VERY true. Weather is an older white boy business and arms have been less than open for a young black girl -- a polar opposite. As reported I've had more problems here in the south than I have anywhere else in my 25+ years in the business. Perhaps there is a pattern, but I am a glutton for punishment (ha, ha), and I want what I deserve as any professional would so if I have to fight for it I will."
The president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association announced on Facebook Monday that he is voting for the proposed new name for Unity Journalists that does not include the phrase "Journalists of Color" - and hopes others do, too.
The coalition changed its name to "Unity Journalists" in April after it admitted NLGJA, which warned that its members might boycott Unity's summer convention if the words "Journalists of Color" were not dropped from the coalition's name.
However, the name change prompted a backlash from many who said Unity was veering from its history and purpose and that members of the associations had not had a chance to weigh in. Among those who reacted negatively were many members of the National Association of Black Journalists, which left the coalition last year over governance and financial issues, and which Unity is trying to woo back.
The remaining original members of the coalition are the national associations of Hispanic, Asian American and Native American journalists.
Last month, a UNITY Name Task Force came up with three choices for a new name, each including the phrase "journalists of color."
Then, last week, the task force revised the choices to create a new third option, "UNITY: Journalists for Diversity," after association members said some white lesbian and gay journalists were uncomfortable with "of Color."
Michael Triplett, president of NLGJA, announced, "I voted for Unity: Journalists for Diversity and I encourage you to vote the same way. The name reflects the reality of the organization, allows for additional changes to the alliance, and welcomes UNITY's newest partner," NLGJA.
Paul Cheung, incoming national president of the Asian American Journalists Association, "liked" Triplett's posting, but did not respond when Journal-isms messaged to ask whether that meant that Cheung agreed with Triplett. George Kiriyama, an outgoing AAJA representative to the Unity board, wrote that he supported "Unity: Journalists for Diversity."
Doris Truong, current national AAJA president, told Journal-isms by email, "I will vote with the majority of AAJA members, as that is my responsibility to the organization."
Rhonda LeValdo, president of NAJA, agreed, "I will go with how our NAJA membership votes."
Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said by email, "I haven't shared w members how I voted (UNITY name) and would want to first tell them before anyone else...not trying to be secretive, just haven't had a chance."
Gregory H. Lee Jr., president of NABJ, messaged, "NABJ is no longer a member of UNITY. NABJ's position remains that our association left UNITY because of finances and governance. not any name change. We will wish them well on their vote."
However, others in NABJ have called the name and mission of Unity of great importance. "We never envisioned a coalition of associations focused on anything but journalists of color," Will Sutton, credited as a co-founder of the Unity idea, said in April.
The same month, DeWayne Wickham, who in 1988 convened the first joint meeting of boards of the NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA, said of the change to "Unity Journalists," "I think it amounts to a final divorce decree. . . . "
Juan Gonzalez of NAHJ, credited with Sutton as a co-originator of the Unity idea, wrote in June that by rapidly incorporating NLGJA, "UNITY leaders effectively discarded the core mission that made the group such a powerful voice in American journalism since its founding conference in Atlanta in 1994. They revealed, moreover, little understanding of the sacrifices and struggles made by so many journalists of color who preceded us."
According to a Unity notice, "Members will vote through their alliance associations. Members will have 10 days to vote, ending 11:59 p.m. EST Friday, Dec. 14. No write-ins will be considered.
"After the votes are counted, each association will submit the full results disclosing how many votes each name received to UNITY's Interim Executive Director Walt Swanston. She will inform the Task Force, which will convene to discuss the results and prepare a recommendation to UNITY's board members. Ballots will then be prepared for UNITY board members to vote. (UNITY board members are expected to vote how their organizations voted and respect the wishes of their members.)"
"The media requests for me to opine on the death of Mexican regional superstar (and Long Beach) gal Jenni Rivera are already coming in, and I expect them to only increase as the American media trips over themselves to cover the story," Gustavo Arellano, editor of the OC Weekly and author of its syndicated "Ask a Mexican" column, wrote Monday.
"After all, I'm America's Mexican, right? I'm more than happy to take them, if only to help the MSM correct their pathetic record on reporting on a mega-superstar that operated in plain sight under a media that, like usual, didn't bother to pay attention while she was alive because she was a Mexican and popular mostly to Mexicans - and they never matter unless you can get a diversity grant to cover them.
"Now that she's dead? Look everyone: we cover Mexicans!
"No media outlet is the bigger sinner, however, than the Los Angeles Times, the perpetual pendejos [stupid, ignorant people] when covering Latinos in Southern California. A look through the Proquest archives show that they never did a single full profile on Rivera - not once. . . . "
Lawrence Downes, New York Times: Jenni Rivera, American Diva
"After watching the final newscast involving Dana King on Friday night, I'm reminded as to why station execs are weary of allowing talent to bid viewers a farewell," Rich Lieberman wrote Saturday for his Rich Lieberman report.
"King of course is leaving KPIX to pursue a second career in art. Her move to embrace sculpture was accelerated by management who let King go with another year left on her high-dollar contract. She'd been at KPIX, (CBS5), since 1997.
"Friday's 11 PM newscast was sprinkled with banter between King and co-anchor Ken Bastida and sports anchor, Dennis O'Donnell, who provided dual acts of unintended hilarity on an otherwise compelling bit of local TV news history. The newscast itself with King talking between stories about her passion for art, was fine and perfectly apt and suitable until O'Donnell's hijinks kidnapped an otherwise acceptable broadcast.
"O'Donnell spoke about past stories involving King and himself. He recalled a bet with King involving the Raiders and him being subjected to a haircut performed by King. It was semi-poignant. Then out of nowhere, O'Donnell lost it. Fighting back tears, he implored the cameraman to cut immediately to commercials. Then toward the end of the broadcast, the sports anchor inexplicably popped a bottle of champagne toward the desk and suddenly, everything was kooky and out of place and over the top. Or, to put it more succinctly, this was hardly the kind of show befitting the departure of a beloved anchor. . . ."
KPIX-TV: Dana King Announces Departure From CBS 5 (Dec. 5)
Rich Lieberman, Rich Lieberman Report: King was Forced Out; CBS '08 Directive was First Handwriting on Wall (Dec. 6)
Rich Lieberman, Rich Lieberman Report: Flash: Dana King leaving KPIX; Update (Dec. 5)
Soledad O'Brien said Monday, "We've hit a nerve and in some ways hit a home run" with the CNN "Black in America" special she hosted Sunday night, "Who Is Black in America?"
O'Brien made the comment in a Google+ Hangout discussion [video] with Wendy Wilson, Essence magazine news editor. The show's topic was "colorism" in the black community and how those of mixed race choose to identify themselves. Seventy percent of the comments she had observed about the show since it aired showed people were interested in the discussion, O'Brien said.
That was certainly the case on social media.
"The more things change, the more they stay the same," Julianne Malveaux, the columnist and economist, wrote on Facebook. "Soledad O'Brien's documentary on colorism could have been produced any time between 1830 and today. Too many of us are still playing 'straight and nappy', 'the blacker the berry', 'light is right' and the rest of that cultural silliness. If we, African American people, can't get past this while others claim they are 'post racial' what does that say? What does it mean? Thanks Soledad for raising the question. Now we have to deal with answers."
Bev Smith, a talk-show host on black radio, wrote on Facebook, "Last night during the CNN special I received a call from a dear friend. He is Italian and likes to refer to himself as a Liberal. He has worked with me on many human and civil rights [issues]. He was confused he told me because he feels not enough attention was given to the progress made between Blacks and Whites. He said the young people of today don't face the same kind of racism evident when we were young. I'm sorry I could not agree with him . . . "
Eric Deggans, media writer for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, wrote Friday that he wanted the multiracial O'Brien, who identifies as black, to discuss more of her own situation. ". . . I can't wait to see the documentary about how a nerdy kid who was told non-white people weren't pretty became a top anchor at CNN eventually named to People magazine's list of 50 Most Beautiful People," Deggans wrote.
Meanwhile, O'Brien, who hosts the CNN morning show, "Starting Point With Soledad O'Brien," told Gail Shister of TVNewser Friday that when she heard that Jeff Zucker - also her old boss - had been named president of CNN Worldwide, "I thought, 'Yes!' He knows news. He knows winning. He knows morning TV."
But Richard Johnson of the New York Post reported Monday, ". . Zucker is looking at Erin Burnett to revive the cabler's moribund morning ratings . . . "
Among the reasons that installing Burnett would be a bad idea, Deggans wrote, "the move would . . . make CNN's already diversity-challenged anchor lineup look even whiter."
"Who Is Black in America?" will repeat on Saturday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST and Sunday at 2 a.m. EST.
Annette John-Hall, Philadelphia Inquirer: CNN series cuts to the core of black identity
Jeanine Poggi, adage.com: Zucker's CNN Will Be About More Than News (Dec. 3)
"On Sept. 2, Ambassador Susan E. Rice delivered a eulogy for a man she called 'a true friend to me,' " Salem Solomon, an Eritrean-American journalist, wrote Monday in a New York Times op-ed. "Before thousands of mourners and more than 20 African heads of state in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ms. Rice, the United States' representative to the United Nations, lauded the country's late prime minister, Meles Zenawi. She called him 'brilliant' -- 'a son of Ethiopia and a father to its rebirth.'
"Few eulogies give a nuanced account of the decedent's life, but the speech was part of a disturbing pattern for an official who could become President Obama's next secretary of state. During her career, she has shown a surprising and unsettling sympathy for Africa's despots.
"This record dates from Ms. Rice's service as assistant secretary of state for African affairs under President Bill Clinton, who in 1998 celebrated a 'new generation' of African leaders, many of whom were ex-rebel commanders; among these leaders were Mr. Meles, Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Jerry J. Rawlings of Ghana, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Yoweri K. Museveni of Uganda. . . ."
Solomon runs Africa Talks, a news and opinion Web site covering Africa and the global African diaspora.
Perry Bacon Jr., the Grio: The GOP's unusual campaign against Susan Rice (Nov. 27)
Helene Cooper, New York Times: U.N. Ambassador Questioned on U.S. Role in Congo Violence
Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report: A Second Wave of Genocide Looms in Congo, with Susan Rice on Point (Nov. 28)
Aaron David Miller, Chicago Tribune: What it takes to be a great secretary of state
Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Dr. Susan Rice: Don't Hate the Playa, Hate the Game
Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post News Media Services: The Susan Rice whirlwind
Adam Serwer and Dana Liebelson, Mother Jones: Rice vs Rice: Charting Congress' Treatment of Condi and Susan
"The just-filed suit by George Zimmerman against NBC Universal and three employees furnishes some flaming legal invective," Eric Wemple wrote Thursday for the Washington Post. "It claims that NBC News, via its repeated mis-editing of a 911 audiotape, portrayed Zimmerman as a 'racist and predatory villain.' The motivation behind such a portrayal, charges the suit, was to gin up 'topics' for the network's 'failing news programs.'
"The goods to back up the suit's central allegations are all out there on video feeds across the Internet. NBC News editing of that 911 audiotape gave viewers the impression that Zimmerman had volunteered that Trayvon Martin was black, when in fact the 911 dispatcher asked him about the young man's racial appearance.
"For the purposes of a libel case, then, Zimmerman should have little trouble proving that NBC News broadcast false and defamatory material about him. The stiff legal challenge for Zimmerman & Co. lies in another phase of the proceedings, and that is proving damages from NBC's treatment.
"Just why should that be so difficult? Because of media saturation. . . . "
Michael Martinez, CNN: George Zimmerman sues NBC Universal over edited 911 call (Dec. 7)
Brian Stelter, New York Times: Man Charged in Trayvon Martin's Death Sues NBC for Defamation (Dec. 6)
"Univision Communications Inc., the leading media company serving Hispanic America, and Bounce TV, the nation's first-ever broadcast television network for African Americans, today jointly announced a distribution agreement in which Univision Television Group, which owns and/or operates 62 television stations in major U.S. Hispanic markets and Puerto Rico, will carry Bounce TV as a multicast channel of their stations in San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Raleigh and Tampa," the two companies announced on Monday.
". . . Bounce TV targets African Americans primarily between the ages of 25-54 with a programming mix of theatrical motion pictures, live sports, original and off-net series, documentaries, specials, and inspirational faith-based programs. . . ."
A multicast channel is a subchannel on a station's signal.
Summer Reese, interim executive director of the Pacifica Foundation, owner of Washington's WPFW-FM, said Friday that none of the programs WPFW planned to import from NPR or Public Radio International will air. The listener-sponsored community station planned to broadcast "Tell Me More" from NPR and "Smiley and West" and "The Takeaway" from PRI. Reese told listeners of the "Manager's Mailbox" that she prefers that if shows are imported, they come from among Pacifica's five stations. The station has scheduled a town hall meeting Tuesday night at the Howard University School of Architecture.
In Oakland, Calif., "A KRON television reporter covering a town-hall meeting Wednesday, where the key topic being discussed was crime, returned to his news station's car and found $9,000 worth of equipment stolen," Harry Harris reported for the Oakland Tribune. "Among items taken were a laptop computer and a camera belonging to the station." On Monday, Brandon Mercer, a news director and Region 2 director for California, Nevada, and Hawaii in the Radio Television Digital News Association, wrote for members, "Grand Theft Camera: Is Your Newsroom As Safe As it Can Be?"
Anna Lopez Buck, interim executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, "is now officially our executive director," NAHJ President Hugo Balta told members on Monday, reporting on a weekend board meeting in San Antonio. "The board voted to make her position permanent."
In Detroit, Al Allen ended his nearly 50-year career in broadcast journalism by celebrating his last day at WJBK-TV, B.J. Hammerstein reported Friday for the Detroit Free Press.
Pamala Silas, most recently CEO of the American Indian Science & Engineering Society in Albuquerque, N.M., has been chosen executive director of the Native American Journalists Association, NAJA announced on Friday.
"Former WESH-Channel 2 anchor Wendy Chioji is coming back to Orlando television in a big way later this month," Hal Boedeker reported Thursday for the Orlando Sentinel. "She will start co-anchoring a series of specials on WKMG-Channel 6 that pay tribute to survivors of health crises and personal battles."
"Charles Bassett, formerly with D-FW's CW33, has joined the growing number of reporters opting for public relations positions," Ed Bark reported Thursday for his Dallas-Fort Worth television blog. ". . . His new position, starting on Dec. 17th, will be senior public relations manager in the Dallas offices of AT&T."
In the nation's capital on Thursday, WUSA-TV aired investigative reporter Russ Ptacek's "ambush-style story on cab drivers who decline to drive black customers to the Southeast area," Eddie Scarry reported for FishbowlDC. " . . . two WUSA9 male staffers, one black, one white, attempt to hail cabs that will drive them to Alabama Ave. in Southeast. The black subject is turned down. The driver's reason: The last time he took someone Southeast, he was stiffed. Less than a block up the street, the white subject asks the same driver to be taken to roughly the same area. The driver agrees."
In a Nov. 30 letter, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists told FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that it is "troubled that the Federal Communications Commission is currently considering relaxing our nation's cross-ownership rules without first addressing the impact of any rule change on broadcast ownership by women and people of color." The National Urban League, National Council of La Raza, the Asian American Justice Center and the NAACP separately said they did not support the relaxation of the newspaper/broadcast cross-media ownership rule.
A New York judge dismissed a libel lawsuit by a Brooklyn judge against the New York Daily News and its former columnist Errol Louis, now with NY1, Monika Fidler of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reported Friday. Judge Martin Shulman said the plaintiff, Brooklyn judge Larry Martin, failed to show "clear and convincing evidence that defendants acted with actual malice in publishing the falsehoods."
The Native American Journalists Association's 2013 calendar offers a collection of images that celebrate the diversity of Indian Country as seen through the lenses of American Indian photographers, the association announced.
South Asian Journalists Association members re-elected five incumbents and added two new members to the board for next year. Ten candidates ran for seven open seats. "Those elected at the annual meeting on Dec. 4 were Sree Sreenivasan, Jigar Mehta, Amita Parashar, Sharaf Mowjood, Raakhee Mirchandani, Shefali Kulkarni and Aarti Virani," the association announced Wednesday.
"As a way to develop better social media engagement strategies, journalists should treat Twitter and other outlets as an extension of their interaction with people in their personal life rather than as a separate entity, said Mark Luckie, manager of journalism and news at Twitter, in a conference call with Forbes writers from New York this week," TalkingBizNews reported. ". . . 'Facebook is for people you know and Twitter is for the people who you want to know.' "
"ABC News correspondent Ron Claiborne filed a story this week for 'ABC World News' about 'micro-sleeping,' and driving while being sleep-deprived," Alex Weprin reported Saturday for TVNewser.
In Chicago, "Cortney Hall, morning news anchor and reporter at WKMG-TV in Orlando, Florida, has been hired as morning news anchor at CLTV, the Tribune Co.-owned news channel," Robert Feder reported for TimeOut Chicago. "Starting December 17, she will succeed Tonya Francisco, who shifted to Trib-owned WGN-Channel 9."
"A Nashville television station is offering a $10,000 reward for information in the robbery and shooting of one of its news reporters," the Associated Press reported Saturday. "Nashville Police say in a statement that WZTV is offering the reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person who wounded reporter Erika Lathon late Thursday after she withdrew cash from a Bank of America ATM near downtown."
MALDEF, the Mexican American legal defense and education fund, "settled its lawsuit against Sheriff Lee Baca and the County of Los Angeles challenging the Sheriff's attempt to withhold unredacted records regarding the 1970 killing of prominent journalist, Rubén Salazar," MALDEF reported. "MALDEF represents Phillip Rodriguez, a noted documentary filmmaker, who requested the documents as part of his research for the documentary film that tells the story of the life and mysterious death of the prominent civil rights era journalist."
Kenneth Irby, senior faculty, visual journalism and diversity, and director of community relations for the Poynter Institute, defended independent photographer R. Umar Abbas on Monday. Abbas took the photograph Dec. 3 of Ki-Suck Han, of Queens, N.Y., who was pushed into the path of an oncoming subway train. The photo ended up on the front page of the New York Post. ". . . I see a photographer that will suffer for many days with post-traumatic stress. A man that will be, for many days to come, the topic of ridicule and scorn even. . . . A man that at the end of his day, was trying to do his job the best way that he knew how. . . . "
For an Editor & Publisher article Monday on "How to Get More Women and Minorities in Executive Roles," Joseph H. Zerbey IV, 70, president/general manager of the Blade in Toledo, Ohio, told reporter Nu Yang, "being dedicated to that goal" is key. "One has to get past the criticism of hiring them at the 'expense' of Caucasian males equally or better qualified. You have to make a conscious decision to look for and hire talented people -- that must include women and minorities without excluding anyone. In other words, build the talent pool for the position needed, and be certain women and minorities are represented for the interview process. If there is a measure of equiponderance apparent, then don't hesitate to choose the woman or minority. It's not unethical. It's not illegal. It is the right thing to do for the newspaper and for the people it serves."
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An award-winning fashion journalist departs Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
Robin Givhan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion journalist, is among those laid off from Newsweek and the Daily Beast, according to Joe Coscarelli, writing Friday for the Daily Intel column of New York magazine.
" 'I plan to work on my book about the 1973 Versailles fashion show and look for a new job,' said Givhan, who will stay on until the end of the year," Coscarelli wrote.
Editor Tina Brown and new CEO Baba Shetty announced in October that the 80-year-old Newsweek would adopt a digital-only format in 2013.
In 2007, while at the Style section of the Washington Post, Givhan won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism "for her witty, closely observed essays that transform fashion criticism into cultural criticism."
She left the Post in 2010, after 15 years at the paper, purportedly because of disagreements with the then-Style editor.
The editor, Ned Martel, told the staff on her departure, ". . . Robin has demonstrated herself as an extraordinary talent, stretching the definition of fashion beyond the discussion of trends or runway flights of fancy. Thanks to Robin's Pulitzer-awarded acuity, Washington Post readers have learned how to understand world leaders through the way they dress.
"A parka, a pair of stiletto boots, a pair of hiking shorts launched national debates on what political figures must have been thinking when they made such personal decisions, or whether they were thinking through their public image at all. She has not only explained the iconic status of Michelle Obama's inaugural gown, Madeleine Albright's patriotic pins, freshman Rep. Frederica Wilson's Stetsons, she made Washington understand something fundamental about how every public appearance is a self-expression. No one is more in command of her own powers of self-expression than Robin, as her reasoned, elegant columns have proven each Sunday and we will miss her."
For her part, Givhan told Women's Wear Daily, "I obviously didn't make the decision to leave quickly or without a lot of soul-searching," Amy Wicks reported on WWD.com. "I've been a sniffling, blubbering wreck for the last few days. The Post has been an unbelievable place to work. But I think it was time for me to have a new adventure, and Tina's vision of what Newsweek can be is incredibly enticing and, I think, spot-on."
Givhan joined Newsweek and the Daily Beast with the title of special correspondent, style and culture. In July, she also became one of the contributors to a new blog, FashionBeast, Erik Maza of WWD reported.
Givhan told Journal-isms by email on Saturday, "Sad to say that yes, it is true. Quite the 'Merry Christmas.' . . . I'm in New York as we speak doing book research and happily following up on any new career opportunities."
When Journal-isms asked Boston Globe Editor Martin Baron, who becomes executive editor at the Post in January, whether he would want Givhan back, he said that he is not at the Post yet and does not publicly discuss these sorts of subjects.
In-Your-Face Holiday Reads
December 7, 2012
John Avlon, Jesse Angelo and Errol Louis
Jared A. Ball and Todd Steven Burroughs
Richard Prince's Book Notes™: Stocking Stuffers (Part 1)
Books by and about journalists of color might make provocative holiday gifts, and more of them are available in ebook and audio versions. This list of nonfiction includes humorous, in-your-face takes on being black; collections of columns by legendary opinion writers; an answer to a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on Malcolm X; a 30-years-later look at journalists of the 1970s; a study of how television covered the civil rights era; and an examination of Michelle Obama's multiracial ancestry. A continuation of this list will be published in coming days.
John Avlon, Jesse Angelo and Errol Louis have edited "Deadline Artists: America's Greatest Newspaper Columns" (Overlook, $29.95, cloth; $17.95, paper; Nook version, $10.99), and "Deadline Artists--Scandals, Tragedies and Triumphs: More of America's Greatest Newspaper Columns" (Overlook, $29.95, cloth; Nook version, $14.99).
The publisher argues that, "At a time of great transition in the news media, when obituaries for newspapers are being written every day, Deadline Artists makes the case for the continued relevance of opinion journalism. Beloved but half-remembered columns that were gathering dust in libraries or moldering on microfilm are now available in one volume, celebrating the near-miracle that stories composed on daily deadlines can resonate with beauty and power decades later."
Bloggers might note the art and skill that accompany good opinion writing.
Avlon is senior columnist for Newsweek and the Daily Beast as well as a CNN contributor. Angelo is editor-in-chief of the Daily, the made-for-iPad "newspaper" that announced this week it was ending publication. Louis, a black journalist, is the political anchor of NY1 News.
Unlike comparable collections, these volumes make an effort at diversity. Alongside Thomas L. Friedman, Ernie Pyle, Red Smith and Mark Twain are Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglass, Carl T. Rowan, Stanley Crouch, William Raspberry, Leonard Pitts Jr., Eugene Robinson, Cynthia Tucker and Bob Herbert, all African Americans. The first volume, released last year, featured no Hispanics, Native Americans or Asian Americans. A sequel, "Deadline Artists--Scandals, Tragedies and Triumphs: More of America's Greatest Newspaper Columns," was published last month, and slain Los Angeles Times journalist Ruben Salazar is included.
Jared A. Ball and Todd Steven Burroughs, who teach communication studies at Morgan State University, edited "A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable's Malcolm X" (Black Classic Press, $18.95, paper).
The late Manning Marable's "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention" won this year's Pulitzer Prize for history despite strong dissent from several politically active black scholars when the book was published. Ball and Burroughs have assembled the contributions of 19 of the critics.
"Marable's 'definitive masterpiece' was to us a mere tombstone: a 600-page eulogy that attempted to lay permanently to rest the Malcolm X that we knew and revered," Ball writes. "Indeed, it aimed to bury the very ideas that produced Malcolm X and those he made his own, our own. The book attacked the very ideas that made Malcolm X and all Black people then, and now, dangerous." Burroughs writes that the book had to be written to correct the record. ". . . Our larger commitment to historical memory dwarfs any concerns about offending Manning Marable's admirers, colleagues, friends, and students."
Aniko Bodroghkozy, an associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, has "Equal Time: Television and the Civil Rights Movement" (University of Illinois Press, $50, cloth).
"Equal Time" examines the news media's contemporary coverage of the civil rights movement, including that by the black press, and the effects of the movement on prime-time television entertainment in the 1960s and '70s. Chapters are devoted to coverage of the March on Washington in 1963 and the Selma-to-Montgomery march of 1965, and in entertainment to Diahann Carroll's "Julia" and the Norman Lear-produced "Good Times."
Bodroghkozy writes, "Both civil rights activists and Southern segregationists understood the political power of television, and both were interested in using this new instrument to speak to national (read: non-Southern) audiences.
"The former were clearly more successful in negotiating with the medium, but network television was not interested in doing the bidding of even the most moderate of civil rights groups, nor was television bent on always demonizing and dismissing the segregationist position. If a civil rights group could be labeled 'militant' — and we will see NBC's Chet Huntley so label the NAACP in 1959 — then that group could be legitimated as a political player as segregationists cheered and welcomed Huntley in as potentially one of their own."
In an epilogue on the Obama era, Bodroghkozy writes, "While it is both reductive and simplistic to suggest that network television's circulation and audiences' embrace of certain types of black representation have led to the election of a black president, this book has traced the mobilization of a certain type of image that, when appropriately paired with figures of whiteness, were presumed to make whites less anxious about social change."
Television news personnel, engaging in "a certain amount of utopian gushing" after Obama's election, "probably had no idea that they were borrowing from an old script. . . . "
Donna Britt, former columnist for the Washington Post, has "Brothers (& me): A memoir of loving and giving" (Little, Brown and Co., $25.99, cloth and audio; $12.99 ebook; Kindle edition, $11.04; Nook version, $12.99.)
Britt wrote a version of this message to fellow columnists last year as this book was released:
"The holidays are perfect for diving into and for sharing with readers Brothers (and me), an exploration of women's intriguing penchant for giving. Library Journal calls the book 'more personal but no less significant' than Condoleezza Rice's memoir, and the Boston Globe describes it as 'alternately raw and elegant… a wrenching examination of a life through the prism of racism, sexism, and unconditional devotion.'
"Brothers traces how my male-steeped life as the twice-married sister of three brothers and mother of three sons taught me to give — sometimes unwisely— to men, a problem shared by millions of women. My own giving was inspired by loss: The inexplicable, decades-ago death of my brother at the hands of hometown police, an uncalled-for killing that years later would be echoed in Trayvon Martin's slaying.
"Darrell's death taught me how inextricably loss and giving are intertwined for black women, whose experiences with the endangerment, diminishment and deaths of our husbands, lovers, sons and, yes, brothers causes many of us to reflexively protect, support and give to them in response. Brothers (and me) encourages giving women to trace their own journeys to giving and to utilize this gift more wisely."
Britt believes in plumbing her emotions and has delivered an Oprah-ready saga that includes some surprises about her personal life. She also adheres to a principle followed by the best writers: every word is carefully selected.
This month, Britt writes on her website, "in the spirit of the holiday, I'll for the next 25 days give in to the giving impulse that's all too natural to me. Each day until Christmas, I'll offer a different mindful gift: to students, seniors, friends, total strangers, even to myself. . . . Brothers (and me) described my journey from questioning to celebrating my giving. My goal now is to demonstrate that mindful giving expands the giver regardless of how the gift is received. But real life is unpredictable, so stay tuned as I test my theory while blogging — frankly, honestly — about each day's gift and what emerges."
Wayne Dawkins, assistant professor of journalism at Hampton University, has "City Son: Andrew W. Cooper's Impact on Modern-Day Brooklyn" (University Press of Mississippi, $35, cloth and ebook; Kindle edition, $19.25; Nook version, $22.75.)
As Dawkins writes on the book jacket, the City Sun was "a feisty Brooklyn-based weekly that published from 1984 to 1996. Whether the stories were about Mayor Koch or Rev. Al Sharpton, Howard Beach or Crown Heights, Tawana Brawley's dubious rape allegations, the Daily News Four trial, or Spike Lee's filmmaking career, Cooper's City Sun commanded attention and moved officials and readers to action."
The weekly tabloid broke the mold for the black press, criticizing African American officials along with other powers that be.
Cooper, who died in 2002, gave Dawkins a start in journalism at Trans Urban News Service in the 1970s. Cooper's widow, Jocelyn C. Cooper, asked Dawkins to write her husband's biography. In a cover blurb, Dawkins' Hampton colleague Earl Caldwell, the veteran journalist and Maynard Institute co-founder, calls the book "chock full of significant and compelling stories not previously told."
Written for academic audiences as well as a more general audience, Dawkins told Journal-isms, "Since July publication, City Son is listed in at least 110 mostly campus libraries [dominant states, NY-NJ, Calif., Miss.-Tenn.], including Canada, Wales, Australia and the Netherlands.
"Journalists of color should read this book if they want to understand the resurrection of Brooklyn as a destination [AWC can take credit for the Brooklyn Nets dribbling along Flatbush and Atlantic avenues]. 'City Son' also chronicles the hot-button cases of the '80s: Howard Beach/Tawana Brawley/Central Park Jogger assault [subject of a new Ken Burns documentary]. And, it's a good read about a newspaper that had a remarkable 12-year run. Dozens of their journalists continue to practice at other outlets."
Patrice Evans, a staff writer for grantland.com who created the "Ghetto Pass" column for gawker.com, has "Negropedia: The Assimilated Negro's Crash Course on the Modern Black Experience" (Three Rivers Press, $14, paper; Kindle and Nook versions, $9.99).
Evans told the New Yorker's Jason Parham in October 2011: "In a way, when you write a book like 'Negropedia,' that's the moment when you turn into a character or persona. When the straight-forward, intellectual territory has been mined, it's tough, at least from a creative standpoint, to be fresh and original. Negropedia is a very personal, idiosyncratic, and quirky manifestation of my perspective on race. Hopefully, it's a gateway drug of sorts to more 'Negropedias.' This is a time when minority Americans can use the voice of the Internet to post content and find an audience. The whole beauty and joy of this moment is that we aren't constrained by the paradigms of the past, the orthodoxy surrounding the conversation about civil rights, politics, and social activism.
"Now, even though many of the same issues still exist, there are more outlets and opportunities to voice your quirky, personal take on something — and it can become a joke, or a play, or a Web series like Awkward Black Girl, or it becomes a Web site like the Root or Black Voices, or even gets channeled into more mainstream cultural or political entertainment. I think that's where the conversation goes. It becomes a sort of prism, some fractured perspective that you can’t predict."
Stephen Hess, senior fellow emeritus in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, has "Whatever Happened to the Washington Reporters, 1978-2012" (Brookings Institution Press, $29.95, cloth and ebook; Kindle edition, $16.17; Nook, $16.77).
In 1978, Hess surveyed 450 journalists who were covering national government for U.S. commercial news organizations. A generation later, Hess and a team from Brookings and George Washington University tracked down 90 percent of the original group, interviewing 283 of them.
"Diversity" gets its own chapter in this book on the results. Fifteen African Americans were surveyed in 1978, including Roy Betts, Warren Brown, Diane Camper, Karen DeWitt, Mal Johnson, Harold J. Logan, Barbara Reynolds, Marilyn Robinson, Lee Thornton, Carole Simpson and Betty Anne Williams. Hess has accounted for all but three. The late television anchor David Garcia, whose obituary called him "a pioneering Latino journalist with a velvet voice," is also among the interviewees.
Hess is disappointed at the lack of more diversity progress. ". . . None of the black network correspondents have reached the highest rung since Ed Bradley died in 2006, although Byron Pitts of CBS Evening News is starting to appear on 60 Minutes," he writes. The chapter closes with a 2005 quote from Frank James, formerly a reporter at the Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune who is now at NPR:
"When I go to press conferences in Washington, D.C., I'm often the only black reporter. I'm lucky if there's another one. This might be twenty or thirty people, and I'm the only black. It makes me ask myself, 'How could it be that in 2005 you have a press conference in Washington, D.C., a city that is majority black, and I'm the only black reporter here?' . . . Does it have a personal effect on me? Sure, it saddens me that here we are in 2005 and I'm the only. I don't want to be the only."
Rachel L. Swarns, a Washington-based New York Times reporter, has "American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama" (Amistad, $27.99 cloth; ebook, $16.99; audio, $23.62; Kindle version, $12.99; Nook editions, $16.99 and $17.99, enhanced).
The Dec. 2 print edition of the New York Times Book Review listed this book among the "100 Notable Books of 2012," and John McMurtrie of the San Francisco Chronicle included it among his gift guide for stocking stuffers and doorstoppers.
"American Tapestry" started as a Times story by Swarns and Jodi Kantor in October 2009.
"I found the first lady's family story fascinating — and I think many journalists of color will as well — because it reflects the history of this country in all of its complexities," Swarns told Journal-isms by email.
"Her ancestors were African American slaves, mixed race people who lived free for decades before the Civil War, and Irish Americans who fought for the Confederacy. And they had front row seats to some of the biggest moments in our history: slavery, the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Great Migration. So many of us have similar stories in our own families. I hope that 'American Tapestry' will inspire journalists — who spend so much time reporting on the lives of other people — to take the time to dig into their own family stories."
Writing in the Washington Post, Martha Southgate said circumstances conspired against complete success for Swarns: "What works against her, and against the full success of the book, is the sketchiness of the history that the system of slavery created and enforced and the rareness of literacy among slaves and their immediate descendants," Southgate wrote. "Few letters, journals or notes have survived, all the written ephemera so crucial to the historian in discovering the mindset of his or her subjects. Further, many of those in the generations immediately after slavery maintained a staunch silence about the experience, as though to blot out the horror. . . ."
Baratunde Thurston, director of digital at the Onion, cofounder of Jack & Jill Politics and a stand-up comedian, has "How to Be Black" (Harper, $24.99, cloth; $14.99 paper; Nook version, $2.99). Thurston added in this message posted on Facebook Friday: "Are you afraid to read How To Be Black in public? Now you can get it for just $2.99 on Amazon Kindle."
Reading the book in public can draw curious reactions, as a white woman calling herself Cinnamon explained on goodreads.com:
"I am loving this book so far. If nothing else, the conversations, smirks, giggles, and very confused looks I've gotten while reading this book in public have been great.
"Having an older African American woman point at the book, smirk and say 'Good luck with that!' was a highlight of my week. And then just a few days later an older African American gentleman went on a rant to me about 'in his day' black people were trying to be white and now there were too many white folks trying to act black, but you have to be born black, you can't become black. And when I explained that it was humorous social commentary intended to discuss subtle or latent racism, he scoffed even louder and told me 'of course y'all take that from a funny black guy, if he was angry y'all would ignore him and run away from him. . . .' "
Thurston keeps busy. His website says, "In the past two years alone he has spoken at South by Southwest, Google Atmosphere, the Online News Association Conference, Netroots Nation, the Mashable Awards, Web 2.0 Expo, Personal Democracy Forum, Internet Week NY, Social Media Week, TribeCon, the ACLU Annual Dinner (Mass., Mich. and Okla.), Surf Summit 14 (Mexico), The AtlanTech Dinner (Paris), The FD Summit (Amsterdam), The Guardian Changing Media Summit (UK) and Digital Directions (Australia). In May 2011, he spoke at the presidential palace in Tbilisi, Georgia (the country) on the role of satire in a healthy democracy, and he advises The White House on digital strategy.
"Baratunde performs standup comedy regularly in New York City, resides in Brooklyn, lives on Twitter and has over 30 years experience being black."
Program Note: "Black in America"
"The issue of racial identity within the African-American community will be the focus of a Dec. 9 CNN Black In America documentary, according to network officials," R. Thomas Umstead reported for Multichannel News.
"Hosted by Soledad O'Brien, Who is Black in America? — the fifth installment of CNN's Black In America documentary franchise — will examine how much race and identity are personal choices versus reflections of what society thinks and believes. . . . "
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