On Media Influence: Is That All There Is?
Oprah Winfrey and Mediatakeout.com's founder were the only two African Americans on a list of the most influential people in media.
When the new year began, the Daily Beast chose "The 20 Smartest People of 2010," and the only African American on the list was rapper Kanye West.
Now the Wire, a website from businessinsider.com, has compiled "the 50 most influential people in media this year."
The two people of color represented are media mogul Oprah Winfrey and Fred Mwangaguhunga, a thirtysomething former corporate lawyer whose website, MediaTakeOut.com, dishes lurid headlines about celebrities, punctuated by three exclamation points. That's it for blacks. The Wire's list includes no Hispanics, Asian Americans or Native Americans.
Mediatakeout.com's lead story for Wednesday was, "MTO WORLD EXCLUSIVE: WE GOT EXPLICIT PICS OF RAPPER DRAKE . . . AND LETS JUST SAY . . . HE SHAVES . . . DOWN THERE!!!"
The site calls itself "the most visited urban website in the world."
Is this the extent of the media influence exerted by people of color? Is this how people of color are perceived in the media world?
Glynnis MacNicol, who put together the list, told Journal-isms she paid attention to diversity concerns and considered her list "a reflection of the industry." She issued a challenge: Who would you add? MacNicol said she was "a huge Juan Williams fan" and considered placing the Fox News commentator on the list.
Journal-isms poses the question to readers: Which people of color should be on such a list?
You may respond in the "Comments" section at the end of this column.
The criteria: "They may not all be getting the biggest ratings, or possess the most recognizable faces, but in a quickly changing media world they are exerting an unmistakable influence on how, where, and when we consume information."
The top 10 were Julian Assange, Steve Jobs, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Jon Stewart, Oprah, Nick Denton, Arianna Huffington, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg.
The bottom 10 were Mwangaguhunga, The Awl, Graydon Carter, Betsy Morgan, Dan Savage, Rachel Sklar, Greg Mitchell, David Folkenflik, Jim Romenesko and Lorin Stein. You can click on their names here to find out who all these folks are.
There is no denying Winfrey's influence.
She was the guest Monday on Piers Morgan's debut show in "Larry King's old slot on CNN, and she "all too expertly schooled Morgan on how to handle an interviewer such as he (and how he would better interview a guest such as she)," Joel Meares wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review.
Likewise, MediaTakeOut receives more hits than other black-oriented websites: 2.8 million unique monthly visitors in November, according to the comScore rating service, compared with 2.3 million unique visitors each for BET.com and AOL Black Voices, and 1.4 million unique visitors for BlackPlanet.com, a social media site.
MacNicol called MediaTakeOut's hits "incredibly impressive."
MediaTakeOut was labeled "Guiltiest Pleasure."
TheRoot.com blurb read: "Why we like it: We have to admit mediatakeout is one of our guilty pleasures. It keeps us in the know about the personal lives of people in black entertainment.
"What we want to see on it next: Less stories about boob jobs and [derrière] implants, and more insightful commentary."
Mwangaguhunga offered Journal-isms this reaction:
"I'm glad to have been included on Business Insiders Most Influential list. " he said by e-mail. "[Given] that MediaTakeOut.com has more viewers on the average day than any other Black oriented media company (including the large corporate TV networks and magazines), I think it was certainly warranted.
"That being said, I would have liked to see more African Americans on the list."
Leon E. Wynter, a journalist, author and banker who wrote a column called "Business and Race" for the Wall Street Journal from 1989 to 1999, died Tuesday after battling brain cancer, his former wife, Yvonne Wynter, told Journal-isms. He was 57 and living in a hospice in the Maryland suburbs of Washington.
Wynter was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2008 and had been undergoing treatment at the National Institutes of Health on the outskirts of Washington, Yvonne Wynter said.
Wynter, a looming figure at 6-foot-7, had formed provocative views about race, which he outlined in a 2002 book, "American Skin: Pop Culture, Big Business and the End of White America."
Introducing a February 2003 commentary from Wynter on NPR's "All Things Considered," host Robert Siegel said, "In the book, he argues that integration in the US has been achieved in the cultural marketplace, if nowhere else in society. But he was not prepared for all the white people who would read his book and assume that buying black culture means buying racial equality.
"Many def whites . . . insist their overt embrace of a miscegenated pop culture has finally numbered the days of America's old race problem," Wynter said in his commentary. "I think so, too, but in the meantime, I'm on alert for signs of a new one. Teen-age white boys sporting urban designer gear? Cool. Same white teens accessorizing with dysfunctional ghetto attitude in my face, less than cool. Greet each other as 'my nigga,' as in 'Whassup, my nigga?' very disturbing."
Wynter's friend Michel Marriott, a former New York Times writer, wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday night, "I cannot accept that I won't be on the receiving end of one of Leon's masterful arguments about just about anything in the universe. He was so one of a kind and the world is so much less without him materially in it, the way he was always in everything, both feet, fully engaged, committed like an intellectual pit bull.
Wynter's blog set forth his mission statement: "To inspire with literary journalism the awareness of one American race, sharing multiple overlapping cultures that sum to more than their parts as one society of sovereign individuals."
More recently, Wynter co-write the memoir of Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., "And I Haven’t Had A Bad Day Since," and taught journalism at Baruch College of the City University of New York and Emerson College in Boston.
"Once upon a time I created the Wall Street Journal’s monthly 'Business & Race' column and wrote it from 1989 to 1999.
"My commentaries on race, popular culture and life observed have been heard on National Public Radio’s 'All Things Considered' since 1993. I've also published two dozen essays in newspapers and magazines including the Wall Street Journal, Savoy, the Washington Post and New York Newsday, among others."
"As a public speaker, I've had the [opportunity] to share my big ideas with marketers at Time-Warner, Pepsico, Glaxo SmithKline, Cox Cable and the Strategic Research Institute.
"A former commercial banker, I entered journalism as a Washington Post staff reporter in 1980, where I covered education and racial change in suburban Prince George's County, Md. I joined the Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau in 1984, and covered the federal banking beat on Capitol Hill, as well as federal telecommunication and technology policy.
"A native New Yorker, I received my undergraduate degree from Yale (1974, Psychology) and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business (1979, Economics). I now live in Queens with my wife, Marie Florence. I have one child, Grace, by a previous marriage."
Services are scheduled Jan. 26 at Eastchester Presbyterian Church, 3154 Fish Ave., Bronx, N.Y. 10469.
F. Finley McRae, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Heart and Soul of Landmark Bias Case Dies at 68 (on David W. Hardy)
"The Huffington Post and BET co-founder Sheila Johnson are launching a HuffPost section devoted to African-Americans," Jake Coyle reported Wednesday for the Associated Press.
"The section, 'HuffPost GlobalBlack,' is expected to debut in early March. The Huffington Post is set to make an official announcement about the new platform Thursday.
“ 'Our goal is to cover more stories of importance to the black community,' says Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the New York-based Huffington Post.
" 'We have the supreme irony of having the first African-American president, which is such a historic event and a milestone, while at the same time, conditions for African-Americans are deteriorating, in terms of unemployment, in terms of high school graduation, in terms of the number of African-American males in prisons,' Huffington says.
"GlobalBlack is the 27th section for the Huffington Post, but its first racially based one. It plans to soon launch a Latino section."
The Huffington Post was used as an example this month to illustrate a piece by this columnist about online organizations that refuse to disclose how many people of color work there, raising suspicions that few do.
The AP story continued, ". . . 'In all of this digital space, the African-American voice is really falling off the radar screen,' says Johnson, who sold the Washington D.C.-based Black Entertainment Television to Viacom in 2000. 'We're on other radar screens, with other digital sites, which is wonderful. But I really wanted to bring the real news, the storytelling — to really bring back the voice of the black community on some relevant news and views.' "
"Comcast Corp.'s proposed $30 billion deal for NBC Universal Inc. received the thumbs-up from the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday, but it came with a long list of provisions that are expected to protect consumers and online competitors from the Comcast juggernaut," Bob Fernandez wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"For Comcast, it provides the nation's largest cable network with a dizzying array of entertainment and content providers.
"For opponents, it gives Comcast incredible — and dangerous — competitive leverage."
As noted in this column's diversity summary for 2010, the merger divided organizations of color. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists opposed it in April, saying that "this massive media consolidation will lead to fewer journalism jobs, less coverage of the Latino community, less diversity of voices, and excessive control for one company over the country's media."
Comcast Corp. will add four cable networks owned, or partly owned, by African Americans over the next eight years, as well as a new English-language channel aimed at Asian Americans.
An NBCU commitment to increase news and information choices for Hispanic viewers, including a plan to work with an independent producer on a weekly business news program.
"Comcast will add a Hispanic to its corporate board within two years."
Comcast promised to add at least three independent cable networks with 'substantial [minority] ownership interest' over the next three years; to establish four external advisory councils, one each for representatives of the African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander communities, and another for 'other diverse communities,' and to spend at least $7 million more on advertising in minority-owned media next year.
NBC promised in February that " 'Meet the Press' is committed to having a more diverse group of voices on the show whose opinions and expertise reflect, not just the news of the day, but the cultural, economical and political landscape of our country."
Paula Madison, the NBC Universal executive vice president for diversity who is responsible for implementing NBC Universal's diversity commitments, said the deal close will actually occur in about 10 days.
Jonathan Berr, dailyfinance.com: Watch Out, ESPN: Comcast Forms Big Rival with NBC Universal
Bill Cromwell, medialifemagazine.com: Doubters abound over Comcast-NBC deal
John Eggerton, Multichannel News: Former Comcast/NBCU Deal Critics Praise Deal Conditions
Steve Myers, Poynter Institute: Nonprofit news orgs see validation, new funding in Comcast-NBC merger
Brian Stelter, New York Times: In Comcast-NBC Conditions, a Victory for Bloomberg
"A lineup of prosecution witnesses testified during the second day of the murder trial of Muzzammil 'Mo' Hassan," the Buffalo News reported Wednesday.
"Hassan, 46, a former television executive of Bridges TV, is accused of the stabbing and beheading death of his 37-year-old wife, Aasiya Zubair Hassan."
". . . Michael testified that he was freaked out upon learning that Aasiya was killed. He and his two younger siblings were outside Bridges TV studios in a minivan waiting for her as she met her death. He told jurors, 'I was nervous. It was my understanding my dad would not be at the office" when he and Aasiya stopped by to drop off clean clothes for Hassan. Aasiya had filed for divorce just six days earlier.
"Sonia became emotional a number of times while testifying. She claims Hassan tried to contact her through letters since the slaying, telling her he would give up all of his possessions to her if she wouldn't speak ill of him. She never responded."
In the Toronto Star, public editor Kathy English wrote in 2009 that reporter John Goddard was wrong to relate the beheading to Islamic sharia law and divorce. But conservative Los Angeles Times columnist Jonah Goldberg and Marcia Pappas, New York state president of the National Organization for Women, accused the media of playing down links between the crime and Islamic teaching.
"CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux has been named a dayside anchor for the network, effective January 31," Mark Joyella reported Wednesday for Mediaite. "Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN/U.S., made the announcement this morning. Malveaux replaces Tony Harris, who quit the network.
"CNN says Malveaux will CNN Newsroom from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays, joining a dayside lineup that includes Kyra Phillips, Ali Velshi and Brooke Baldwin."
". . . Malveaux, who will relocate from Washington – where she’s been on the White House beat for nearly a decade – to CNN headquarters in Atlanta. . . . CNN has not named a replacement for Malveaux at the White House.
Willie Chriesman, the247newsroom.com: Diversity, Blinded by the White
Alternative Paper Calls Plain Dealer Editor "an Enigma""When cleveland.com revealed in October that Debra Adams Simmons would be the new editor of The Plain Dealer, the news was greeted by readers with a round of compliments, advice, and conspiracy theories," Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs wrote for the alternative Cleveland Scene.
"One commenter handed out congratulations and best wishes to the new editor's predecessor, Susan Goldberg. Another welcomed the resident of Copley Township, near Akron, while wondering whether 'anyone at The PD lives in Cleveland.' Still another wanted to know the 'real reason' that Goldberg was heading to Bloomberg News.
"In the newsroom, there were no sighs of relief or moans of disappointment. The sound was the hmm of the curious. Despite having spent three years at the paper as managing editor, Adams Simmons was still an enigma to the folks she would supervise."
Asked to comment, Adams Simmons told Journal-isms:
"I don't have much reaction to the Scene piece. I think Afi worked hard to reflect the perspectives that were shared with her. I've never thought of myself as an enigma. I suppose there are worse labels.
"I don't get the headline ["Hell to the Chief: The PD's new editor faces mixed reviews and an uphill battle"] nor do I buy the premise of an uphill battle. One of the humbling things about being a newspaper editor is that there's always someone seeking to put you in your place. I'm clear about my place and my role. The piece looks backward (which is sometimes important to do). I am looking forward. I expect great things from the Plain Dealer newsroom in 2011.
"There are highs and lows in this business. Departures notwithstanding, I'm still responsible for the largest news-gathering operation in the state of Ohio. With all due respect to some of the voices in the story, we have more than enough people to make an impact. In fact, much smaller newsrooms have had an impact in the communities they serve. Yesterday I named a fantastic managing editor. We are poised for greatness!"
Wyclef Jean will be among several Haitian musicians who will perform at the National Press Club in Washington on Jan. 26, at an event to raise funds for journalists in Haiti, the Trice Edney News Wire announced on Wednesday. The wire was created by Hazel Trice Edney, former editor of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service.
"At least 30 journalists were among around 300,000 people who were killed in the earthquake that struck on January 12, 2010. Proceeds from a Night of Solidarity will be used to provide social and professional assistance to Haitian journalists and financial assistance to families of journalists killed in the disaster," the announcement said.
"Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive will be among the speakers at the Night of Solidarity for Haitian Journalists, which is also meant to raise awareness of the need for a strong, vibrant and free press as Haiti rebuilds from last year's earthquake.
"Michel Martelly, also known as 'Sweet Micky' is a pioneer of Haiti's unique Konpa (or kompas) style of dance music. He was also a candidate in last year's presidential elections.
"AZOR is a leading drummer and Voodoo singer, while King Kino is a leading Konpa and R&B singer.
"The night will end with a performance from Wyclef Jean, the grammy-award winning Hip-Hop artist and former member of the Fugees.
"Other speakers include Guy Lamothe, Director General of Haiti's Investments Facilitation Center and Mirlande Manigat, another candidate in the presidential elections."
Joel Dreyfuss, theRoot.com: The Perils of Dictatorship Nostalgia in Haiti
Robert Mackey blog, New York Times: Some Cheer for Former Haitian Dictator
Marjorie Valbrun, theRoot.com: How Haitians Keep It Moving Despite All Odds
Marjorie Valbrun, Washington Post: A generation's task in Haiti
"In cafes and living rooms across the Middle East, the whirling montages and breathless journalists of Al Jazeera are defining the narrative of Tunisia's upheaval for millions of Arabs riveted by the toppling of a dictator," Jeffrey Fleishman wrote from Cairo Wednesday for the Los Angeles Times.
"The Qatar-based television network, as it does with the Iraq war and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is airing visceral, round-the-clock coverage in a region of authoritarian states that rarely allow government-controlled media to show scenes of unrest. Al Jazeera is a messenger, pricking the status quo, enraging kings and presidents.
"It is the big voice in a multimedia landscape of Arab dissent that encompasses bloggers and online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Whereas strategies of revolt on the Internet are largely the domain of the young and educated, Al Jazeera has for years been the touchstone for the masses seeking insight into the wider, mystifying world."
Michael Calderone, Yahoo News: Tunisian revolt sparks debate over Internet’s role
Liz Cox Barrett, Columbia Journalism Review: Tunisia "Mesmerized" Journalists
Reporters Without Borders: Tunisia: French Photographer Dies From Injury Sustained On Day of Ben Ali's Departure