Soledad O'Brien Makes Deal With CNN
The anchor will leave her morning show to produce documentaries for the network.
"Soledad O'Brien will leave CNN's morning show in the spring, but she won't be leaving the cable news channel altogether," as Brian Stelter put it Thursday for the New York Times.
"Ms. O'Brien, who is well-known for CNN documentaries like 'Black in America,' said Thursday that she would form a production company and continue to supply documentaries to CNN on a nonexclusive basis. She'll also make them for other television channels and for the Web."
The removal of O'Brien from the anchor desk appeared to leave the main CNN U.S. network with no anchors of color during the week.
O'Brien, daughter of a white Australian father and a black Cuban mother, was named "Journalist of the Year" by the National Association of Black Journalists in 2010. NABJ called her "the impetus of CNN's acclaimed 'In America' franchise, which began with CNN's 'Black [in] America' in 2008, a groundbreaking documentary, which took an in-depth look at the challenges confronting blacks in America." Later, the series took on "Latino in America" and "Gay in America."
Stelter's story continued, " 'There's so many great stories to tell,' said Ms. O'Brien, who is preparing two new installments of the 'Black in America' franchise for CNN.
"The deal is an unusual one for CNN. In effect, Ms. O'Brien will go from being an anchor to an outside producer. She may have had little choice in the matter: the new head of CNN Worldwide, Jeff Zucker, decided even before he started the job in January that he wanted to replace Ms. O'Brien's morning show, 'Starting Point,' with a brand new one."
The "In America" franchise is expected to continue after those two installments.
In its official announcement, CNN said, ". . . O'Brien's company, which will launch in June, will produce three long-form programming specials for CNN in 2014. Those specials will include one of the network's most successful franchises, Black in America. O'Brien's new production company, Starfish Media Group, in conjunction with CNN, will act as the exclusive worldwide distributor of previous documentaries featuring O'Brien. She will also host the 2013 CNN Black in America documentary, which will air later this year."
" 'We greatly value Soledad's experience, and her first-rate storytelling will continue to be an asset to CNN,' said Zucker. 'Documentaries and long-form story telling are important to our brand and we're anticipating more of what we've come to expect from her‹ riveting content.' "
Stelter's story continued, "The hosts of the new, as-yet-untitled show have not been named, but Mr. Zucker hired Chris Cuomo from ABC last month with the intention of pairing him with Erin Burnett, who presently hosts the 7 p.m. hour on CNN. . . ."
In a story widely picked up in social media and on websites Tuesday, the New York Post's Page Six gossip column reported that "Page Six has exclusively learned" that "High-profile morning anchor Soledad O'Brien is on her way out at CNN."
However, neither CNN nor O'Brien would confirm the item, attributed to unnamed sources, and the ultimate resolution of O'Brien's status proved not so cut and dried.
Earlier Thursday, O'Brien acknowledged that "Starting Point" would end, but said she was "talking" with the network about her role.
O'Brien stopped by "The Wendy Williams Show" on Thursday and Williams immediately asked whether she would be leaving CNN, Mackenzie Weinger reported for Politico.
" 'You know, we're talking about my role,' O'Brien told Williams. 'As you know, it's been reported a lot that the morning show is going a different direction. So, we're talking about what ways I can contribute to CNN. Doing stuff I like to do, which is hard-hitting journalism.' . . ."
Judge Tells Journalist What Not to Write
A federal judge in Miami ordered a Haitian-American journalist never again to write about the professional, personal or political lives of Haiti's prime minister or a South Florida businessman, ruling that the journalist had defamed them.
"The ruling seems pretty outrageous on its face," Gregg Leslie, legal defense director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told Journal-isms by telephone on Wednesday. According to Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary, ". . . Prior restraints are considered a violation of the First Amendment and are rarely permitted except in cases in which the publication is obscene, defamatory, or represents a clear and present danger -- a theory articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Near v. Minnesota (1931)."
Leo Joseph, journalist for the New York-based Haiti Observateur, told Journal-isms by telephone that he was not even in Florida when the Feb. 6 ruling was issued. "I did not have thousands of dollars to defend myself," Joseph said. "I had no desire to make a fool of myself." He added, "They never served me properly. I'm going to appeal this. . . . I did not have a lawyer." Of those who sued him, Joseph said, "I did not think they had the guts to do it."
Leslie said the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro sounded as though she invited the lawyers for the plaintiffs to draw up a proposed order, which she accepted. "It seems like the judge signed it without thinking it through," Leslie said.
Joseph agreed. He told Journal-isms, ". . . They were trying to silence me, because I have more stuff coming."
The Florida law firm Perlman, Bajandas, Yevoli & Albright, P.L., distributed a news release on Tuesday, apparently on behalf of the Haitian plaintiffs. The Associated Press transmitted a story the same day.
The news release began, "A US Federal Judge ruled on February 6, 2013 against the Haiti Observateur, a New York based Website noting that it had published false and defamatory statements against Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and Patrice Baker, his former business partner and prominent South Florida businessman. The ruling also notes that the Website and its reporter acted with malice.
"In August 2012 Leo Joseph, a reporter for the Haiti Observateur, wrote two articles making allegations against Baker and Lamothe in relation to the sale of a bankrupted telephone company in Haiti.
"Noting the false and malicious nature of the accusations, Baker and Lamothe immediately sued Joseph and the Haiti Observateur in a US District Court, Southern District of Florida. Federal Judge Ursula Ungaro provided a sweeping ruling that sided entirely with the plaintiffs. Judge Ungaro notes in her ruling that the Haiti Observateur's publications are 'replete with statements that are outrageous, scandalous and reminiscent of a tabloid publication. . . . ' "
Joseph told Journal-isms, ". . . After this, I am going to sue them back." But first, he said, he is looking for a lawyer.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, founded in 1970, provides free legal advice, resources, support and advocacy to protect the First Amendment and Freedom of Information rights of journalists working in areas where U.S. law applies, regardless of the medium in which their work appears, according to its website.
It was founded after New York Times reporter Earl Caldwell, later a founder of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, was ordered to reveal to a federal grand jury his sources in the Black Panther organization, threatening his independence as a newsgatherer.
Joseph said the Haiti Observateur has a circulation of 40,000 for its print edition and reaches "no less than 25,000 every week" on the Internet.
International Press Institute: IPI Special Report: Criminal defamation laws remain widespread in the Caribbean (Feb. 4)
Ken Moritsugu, Bangkok-based Asia enterprise editor for the Associated Press, won a special election for vice president for print of the Asian American Journalists Association, the group announced on Tuesday. Moritsugu defeated Neal Justin, TV and media critic for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, 133 to 114.
Asked how he would fulfill his duties from Asia, Moritsugu told Journal-isms by email, "We have three board meetings a year so I'll be flying to the US for them."
He said in a statement, ". . . As a longtime member who has led chapters in both the U.S. and Asia, I also hope to build bridges between our membership at home and overseas."
AAJA announced, ". . . Moritsugu has served on the boards of three AAJA chapters and is a former president of AAJA-New York. He is currently president of AAJA's Asia Chapter, and during his tenure the chapter has grown from 30 to 130 members and launched an annual conference with the University of Hong Kong." He is also the son of Henry Moritsugu, assistant news editor at Newsday.
"AAJA held a special election to fill the post of Vice President for Print after Tom Lee resigned from the position for personal reasons in January. Moritsugu will serve out the remainder of the term" until December, the announcement continued.
"After two interim deans and more than a year of searching, the University of North Texas named Dorothy M. Bland dean of the university's school of journalism on Tuesday," Rachel Mehlhaff reported for the Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle.
Bland headed the Division of Journalism at Florida A&M University from 2007 until last fall, when she stepped down from the director's position to pursue a Ph.D. A new dean, Ann Wead Kimbrough, assumed control of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication in August.
A former publisher of the Fort Collins (Colo.) Coloradoan, Bland was one of only a handful of black female daily newspaper publishers during her career with the Gannett Co., Inc., which ended in 2005. She is a 1982 graduate of the Maynard Institute's Editing Program for Minority Journalists.
Warren Burggren, provost and vice president for academic affairs, told the Denton newspaper that Bland was the university's choice because of her experience in publishing and higher education.
"She has deep experience in both those areas," Burggren said.
FAMU saw its share of controversy in January when Kimbrough ordered the Famuan, the student newspaper, "delayed" until Jan. 30 while she implemented training for staff members.
Press-freedom groups such as the Society of Professional Journalists and the Student Press Law Center objected. Overall, the university had accreditation issues and was weathering negative publicity generated by the well-publicized hazing death of drum major Robert Champion in November 2011.
"President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House," Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen wrote Monday for Politico.
"Not for the reason that conservatives suspect: namely, that a liberal press willingly and eagerly allows itself to get manipulated. Instead, the mastery mostly flows from a White House that has taken old tricks for shaping coverage (staged leaks, friendly interviews) and put them on steroids using new ones (social media, content creation, precision targeting). And it's an equal opportunity strategy: Media across the ideological spectrum are left scrambling for access.
"The results are transformational. With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House -- fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press -- has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly. And future presidents from both parties will undoubtedly copy and expand on this approach. . . . "
Meanwhile, "Continuing to hunt for a political advantage in the fight over the looming sequester," Obama was scheduled Wednesday "to conduct interviews with eight local television stations in an attempt to intensify pressure on congressional Republicans," Justin Sink reported for the Hill.
The anchors included Vic Carter, news anchor for WJZ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Baltimore.
Dylan Byers, Politico: Ed Henry: 'This isn't about a golf game'
Stanley Crouch, Daily News, New York: The GOP pied piper of common sense: Joe Scarborough points the way toward reason, unlike most of his wayward party
David Ferguson, Raw Story: Maddow: Regular Americans routinely ask tougher questions than whiny Beltway media
Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Rubio's sip was no fatal slip
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Rubio vs. an invisible Obama
Ishmael Reed, New York Times: Neo-Classical Republicanism
Meenal Vamburkar, Mediaite: Morning Joe Chides 'High-Maintenance' Press Corps For Complaining About Access To Obama
Dr. Boyce Watkins, syndicated: Study: Obama Pays Less Attention to Race than Any Democratic President in the Last 50 Years
DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: Chris Christie, not Rubio, best bet in 2016
" 'Now,' Robin Roberts said to the staff of her top-rated morning show, 'Good Morning America,' right after it wrapped on Wednesday, 'we can resume regular programming,' " Brian Stelter reported Wednesday for the New York Times.
"Ms. Roberts had just made a television comeback unlike any other, as a host of the program for the first time since she was forced to leave it in August to fight a life-threatening illness. The return, promoted two weeks ahead of time by ABC, was celebrated by fans, tens of thousands of whom sent well-wishes on social networking sites. Many of them watch the program specifically for Ms. Roberts, who is, according to industry research, the most-liked host on any American morning news program by a wide margin. . . ."
"Ken Burns and his production company, Florentine Films, overcame efforts by New York City officials to forcibly seek the release of outtakes and footage from his recent film about five men wrongly convicted in the attack and rape of a Central Park jogger," Jack Komperda wrote Wednesday for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
"Federal magistrate judge Ronald Ellis granted on Tuesday the request by the famed documentary filmmaker's team to quash the city's subpoena seeking the unpublished material from the film 'The Central Park Five,' concluding that the documentarians had demonstrated the requisite independence to be considered journalists under the reporter's privilege.
"Judge Ellis also found that New York City officials were not able to overcome the privilege by showing that the information they sought involved a significant issue in this case that was unavailable by other means.
"The film, which was released last November, depicts the experiences of five men convicted of the April 1989 attack on Trisha Meili. The men served full sentences before finally being exonerated after another person confessed to the attack. They have since filed a $250 million civil rights lawsuit against the city. . . ."
"The new T magazine made an impressive start on Sunday," public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote Wednesday for the New York Times. "Thick with ads, its editorial content -- including a fascinating cover story on the 79-year-old socialite Lee Radziwill -- was strong.
" 'T: The Times Style Magazine' has been redesigned with a well-respected new editor, Deborah Needleman, who came to The Times recently from The Wall Street Journal.
"There was much to admire. But many readers found one aspect of the magazine disturbing -- its lack of people of color. . . ."
". . . I asked Ms. Needleman to respond. She noted that the response to the magazine has been extremely positive but said she agrees with this complaint. And she intends to remedy it in future issues. She wrote:
" 'It was something I noticed and regretted as we were putting the issue together. We are a global magazine and so would like the content, subjects and geography of stories to reflect that. In coming issues, we cover the people and places of Seoul, São Paulo, Kenya, Bollywood actors, Nigeria, etc. A majority of fashion models are still unfortunately mostly white, but it is our aim to celebrate quality and beauty in all its diverse forms. We can and will aim to do better, but our goal is first and foremost to deliver the best stories we find, and it is my belief that quality and good journalism appeal to all of us regardless of our specific ethnic origins.' . . . "
Kevin Merida, newly promoted to managing editor at the Washington Post, and his wife, author and former Post columnist Donna Britt, were among 31 current and former journalists of color Tuesday at a Journalists Roundtable dinner in Washington. Many were Post alumni.
Merida, the first African American to become a Post managing editor, said the historic significance of his promotion took a while to sink in. As national editor, Merida said he was still focused on those duties and on family considerations when new Executive Editor Martin Baron extended the offer. Eventually, Merida said he realized that not only would he become managing editor of his hometown paper but also the breaker of a glass ceiling. When the announcement was made on Feb. 4, the flood of congratulations from colleagues, friends and acquaintances present and past confirmed the promotion's significance.
Merida said he advises young people that it is a great time to become a journalist, citing the steady creation of new positions at the Post in the digital space. He also said his lifelong familiarity with the Washington area would be part of what he brings to the managing editor's job.
In November, HuffPost BlackVoices named Merida and Britt one of eight "BV Power Couples," although, as Britt said at the time, they are "a couple that's neither glamorous, rich nor famous." This particular night, however, was Merida's.
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The AOJ Foundation and the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University are sponsoring the 18th Annual Minority Writers Seminar May 2-5 in Nashville, Tenn., the Association of Opinion Journalists announces. Registration information is at http://www.minoritywritersseminar.org. The application deadline is March 15.
Tony Gaskins, for 18 years a reporter at WEWS-TV in Cleveland, died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack, Leon Bibb reported Tuesday for WEWS. He was 56. "Tony was the kind of reporter every news director wants on the street. He could dig for the facts of a breaking news story, get the story written, meet the deadline for the story, and present it on camera in a calm and professional manner. . . ." In recent years, Gaskins worked for the city of Cleveland, Mark Dawidziak reported for the Plain Dealer.
In San Antonio, Texas, news anchor Karen Martinez of KABB-TV died Monday night after battling breast cancer for five years, WOAI-TV reported. Martinez, 37, "was a driving force behind the annual Healing Hearts Gala fundraiser, which raised money for cancer research and treatments."
Hispanicize 2013, a partnership of the Hispanic Public Relations Association, Hispanicize and the Public Relations Society of America, is planning 20 sessions for its inaugural Hispanic Journalist Showcase, the organization announced. The event is scheduled for the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach, April 9-13.
The Radio Television Digital News Association wrote Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressing its disappointment that she no longer favors television cameras and microphones in the courtroom. "RTNDA urges you to reconsider your position, and believes you and your colleagues should provide unlimited seating in our nation's highest court by permitting audiovisual coverage of its proceedings," Executive Director Mike Cavender wrote.
"Ray Lewis has joined another team: ESPN," Richard Deitsch wrote Wednesday for Sports Illustrated, referring to the Baltimore Ravens linebacker. "SI.com first reported on Jan. 3 that Lewis was close to signing with ESPN, and Tuesday at a launch event in New York City for a new ESPN Films documentary series, ESPN president John Skipper confirmed the hire when asked how comfortable he was with the possibility of Lewis as an NFL analyst. . . ."
"In the wake of President Rafael Correa's landslide re-election on Sunday, many Ecuadoran reporters are bracing for another four years of conflict with his left-leaning government," John Otis reported Wednesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Neither side claims to relish the prospect, but continued clashes seem inevitable given the bad blood that has developed between them. . . . "
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.