The best -- and worst -- of media and diversity news of 2010.
Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, made the startling statement in May that his company employed 4,000 journalists, 3,500 of whom were part-time or freelance.
"That's pretty decent growth in a matter of six months," Leena Rao wrote then on TechCrunch.com. "Of course, AOL has launched a number of content initiatives, including buying hyperlocal news site Patch and launching content machine Seed.com. Armstrong says that AOL is really 'taking local to a local level.' Patch is now in 53 markets in 5 states, including Connecticut and California. And it's been reported that AOL will pour $50 million into Patch this year and plans to roll out the model to 'hundreds' of communities in the future."
By December, Patch launched its 500th site. Hyperlocal coverage on the Web was a leading trending topic for the news business this year. In Washington, TBD launched a hyperlocal site with Robert Allbritton's deep pockets, boasting a network of more than 130 local blogs and websites.
On Long Island, N.Y., Newsday, which changed owners and undertook a series of layoffs, said in August it would grow its hyperlocal coverage and hire 34 journalists. USA Today said the same month that it would cut 9 percent of its staff but shift its emphasis to mobile. Bloomberg started hiring for a niche operation, Bloomberg Government, described by the New York Times as "an information behemoth — a news aggregator, government contract database, Congressional staff directory and source for policy research and analysis all in one Web site."
The Daily Beast, led by editor Tina Brown, got a sudden boost when its owner engineered the purchase of the financially ailing Newsweek magazine. Among the combined effort's first hires was Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan.
How diverse these operations are was an open question. Bloomberg, AOL and the Daily Beast refuse to disclose that information, with the latter two declining to participate in the American Society of News Editors survey of online outlets. AOL Patch even issued a statement saying "We do not focus on race or ethnicity in the hiring process," before backtracking.
In any case, there were not yet enough journalism jobs online to match the numbers being pushed out of "legacy" news operations -- and more often than not, freelance compensation couldn't approximate a full-time salary.
A moment in August was a low point not only for the Obama administration but for the news media: An Agriculture Department deputy undersecretary telephoned the lower-ranking Shirley Sherrod and asked whether Sherrod would be willing to pull over to the side of the road and resign by e-mail. The administration wanted to act before a maliciously edited video of a speech Sherrod gave gained "traction" in the media.
Sherrod was the rural development director for the Agriculture Department's state office in Georgia. Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted a video edited to make it look as though Sherrod, who is African American with a deep civil rights background, admitted antipathy toward a white farmer. The White House — and the NAACP — were so afraid of the reaction on Fox News and other outlets that neither bothered to view the entire video.
The episode occurred in an environment where right-wingers with an agenda have set their targets on the news media and scored victories obtained by questionable means — from edited video sound bites of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright during the 2008 presidential race to the successful campaign to discredit ACORN, the agency designed to help low-income people.
In September, Forbes magazine ran a cover piece by Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative pundit, saying that in his policies Obama is essentially channeling the soul of his late Kenyan-born father, an African 'tribesman of the 1950s' ," Christopher Weber wrote for Politics Daily. On her National Public Radio show, host Diane Rehm said, "nothing has turned my stomach in recent years as reading that piece."
The Washington Post joined in, with Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt explaining, "I thought Post readers, many of whom may not read Forbes magazine, might welcome a chance to read and evaluate for themselves what D'Souza is saying," an opportunity not afforded, say, the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan, who has likewise been the subject of op-ed discussion.
Some editorial page editors acknowledged that they run columns by conservatives that they know are intellectually dishonest because readers want them. They said they depend on a countervailing argument surfacing that will provide "balance."
Liberal Post columnist E.J. Dionne pleaded, "The mainstream media and the Obama administration must stop cowering before a right wing that has persistently forced its propaganda to be accepted as news by convincing traditional journalists that 'fairness' requires treating extremist rants as 'one side of the story.' "
In September, Politico reported that four potential GOP presidential candidates were on the Fox News payroll.
In December, WorldPublicOpinion.org, a project that is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found that regular viewers of the Fox News Channel were significantly more likely to believe untruths about the Democratic health care overhaul, climate change and other subjects.
The magic moment might have come in June, when Amy DuBois Barnett, deputy editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar magazine and former editor of Honey,was named editor-in-chief of Ebony magazine.
"I have no plans to sell the company. None,' said Linda Johnson Rice, Johnson Publishing Co. chairman and CEO. "I'm really excited about Amy now. That's my main concentration now," Rice told the Chicago Sun-Times.
By October, the New York Times was quoting Vogue editor Anna Wintour saying of Rogers’ prospects as a magazine executive, "Desirée is a rock star."
The new attitude from Rice came after months of commentary contending that her magazines, Ebony and Jet, were becoming an anachronism and speculation that she had lost interest in the company founded six decades ago by her parents, John H. Johnson and Eunice W. Johnson.
In February came reports that Earvin "Magic" Johnson was in talks to buy the company, then confirmation from the Basketball Hall of Famer that an affiliate of his Magic Johnson Enterprises and Johnson Publishing Co. "were unable to reach a definitive agreement."
March brought word that the traveling Ebony Fashion Fair, which had already suspended its fall production, was canceling its spring show, citing the Jan. 3 death of Eunice W. Johnson, the show's 93-year-old creator.
Personnel changed. For senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Rogers brought in Rodrigo A. Sierra, who had worked with Rogers at Peoples Gas in Chicago when she headed that company and was a board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in the early 1990s. Eric Easter, who joined the company in 2007 as chief of digital strategies, left in the fall, as did Wendy E. Parks, who led corporate communications. Mira Lowe, editor-in-chief of Jet magazine, announced her resignation in December.
In November came the biggest surprise: Johnson Publishing sold its historic building on Chicago's Michigan Avenue to Columbia College Chicago. The beginning of 2011 should see a new strategy for the company, Sierra said in the fall.
Ebony and Jet missed their "rate base" — the circulation guaranteed advertisers — for the second half of 2009 and the first half of 2010. Rogers vowed to return the publications to their rate bases in the new year.
In what seemed like hair-trigger responses to statements they made that threatened to cause an uproar, Juan Williams was fired by NPR, Rick Sanchez was ousted at CNN and Helen Thomas, 89-year-old White House correspondent-turned-Hearst News Service correspondent, hastily retired.
Octavia Nasr, CNN's senior editor of Middle East affairs, was fired July 7 after she published a Twitter message saying, "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot." Fadlallah was "one of the most prominent Lebanese Shiite spiritual leaders who was involved in the founding of the Hezbollah militia," in the words of New York Times columnist Thomas W. Friedman, who wrote that Nasr "deserved some slack."
The Williams case provoked the longest and loudest uproar. NPR fired him Oct. 20 as a senior news analyst under contract after comments the pundit made two nights earlier on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" that Muslims dressed in Muslim garb on planes made him nervous.
Williams' roles as senior analyst on NPR and commentator on Fox News Channel did not always mesh well. Conservatives who leaped to Williams' defense threatened NPR's limited government funding. Williams lashed back at NPR in media appearances. The network's CEO, Vivian Schiller, acknowledged that she bungled the dismissal, and black NPR employees tied Williams' departure to their diversity concerns.
Fox News Chief Executive Roger Ailes rewarded Williams with a new three-year contract in a deal that amounts to nearly $2 million. Williams' booking agent said the demand for speaking engagements had become unprecedented; and Williams signed a two-book contract with Crown Publishers.
At year's end, a legal firm retained by NPR was revisiting NPR's handling of the affair, and the Washington Post's Paul Farhi reported that "after an initial flurry of mostly angry e-mails and calls in the wake of the Oct. 20 firing of Williams, the controversy waned quickly and has all but disappeared, station managers say."
Sanchez's problems stemmed from a Sept. 30 interview on Pete Dominick's Sirius XM Radio show. While asserting a glass ceiling for Latino journalists at CNN, Sanchez went on to disparage late-night comedian Jon Stewart, who had made fun of Sanchez. He called Stewart a "bigot" with a privileged worldview — later changing the term to "uninformed" — and added, "I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they — the people in this country who are Jewish — are an oppressed minority? Yeah.' "
Sanchez later told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that his comments were wrong and offensive but added that "I went into the interview with a chip on my shoulder" because of the lack of Hispanics, Asian Americans or African Americans hosting prime-time news shows on the mainstream cable networks. He praised CNN but did not get his job back.
Rabbi David Nesenoff, an independent filmmaker from Long Island, said he approached Thomas outside the White House after being there for Jewish Heritage Day on May 27. He asked whether she had any comments on Israel. "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," she replied. "Remember, these people are occupied, and it's their land. It's not Germany, it's not Poland," she continued. Asked where they should go, she answered, "They should go home."
"Where's home?" Nesenoff asked.
"Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," Thomas replied.
In a telephone interview, three of Thomas' sisters told Journal-isms that Thomas was not calling for the destruction of Israel or the return of all Israelis to Europe or the United States, as was the running narrative, but was expressing her opposition to the disputed Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, occupied by European settlers.
Thomas apologized and remained largely out of sight before resurfacing in December at Wayne State University in Detroit. She said there that "Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists. No question, in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is. ... We're being pushed into a wrong direction in every way." The university pulled her name from its Spirit of Diversity award.
In October, Nasr launched Bridges Media Consulting, "to reflect what I've done in my career so far and serve as my platform to carry on making a difference in our world," she wrote on her website.
NBC and Comcast promised people of color several goodies over the year as they sought approval for Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal.
The Federal Communications Commission chairman, Julius Genachowski, signaled his approval of the acquisition in December but said it will come with conditions.
The merger has 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."
"American daily newspapers lost another 5,200 jobs last year bringing the total loss of journalists since 2007 to 13,500," the American Society of News Editors reported in April in its annual diversity census of newspapers and online operations. "Since 2001, American newsrooms have lost more than 25 percent of their full-time staffers. . . .
"Overall, the percentage of minorities in newsrooms totaled 13.26 percent, a decline of .15 percentage points from a year ago," ASNE reported.
"But there were 929 fewer black journalists in the 2010 survey than were recorded in 2001, a drop of 31.5 percent. The number of Native American journalists dropped by 52, or 20.9 percent in the same period. Hispanic representation declined by 145, or 7 percent. The number of white journalists fell by 10,400, or 20.9 percent.
"However, the number of Asian American journalists increased by 57, or 4.4 percent, according to the survey, in which news organizations report their own figures."
Reporting on local broadcast newsrooms, "The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds that the percentage of minority news directors rose in both television and radio," the Radio Television Digital News Association found in September. "But those were nearly the only positive numbers in the survey. Overall, the percentage of minorities in both radio and television fell for the third straight year, although the drop in TV was small."
Among those laid off were Ruben Navarrette, editorial writer and columnist at the San Diego Union-Tribune; Hattie Kaufman, the first and only Native American on network news; Ron Rogers of the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, who was believed to be the only African American full-time editorial cartoonist at a daily newspaper; Don Hudson, managing editor of Gannett's Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., and Rod Richardson, who held the same title at Gannett's the Times in Shreveport, La.
In addition, Everett J. Mitchell II left as editor of Gannett's Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J., in March and Garry D. Howard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the last remaining African American editing the sports section of a mainstream daily newspaper, became editor-in-chief of the weekly Sporting News. Editor Angela Burt-Murray left Essence magazine, science reporter Brenda Wilson and NPR parted ways after 31 years and Mimi Valdés, former editor of Vibe and Latina magazines, left Black Entertainment Television after only three months. She was BET's vice president for content, supervising BET.com.
Two high-profile sports columnists left newspapers: Michael Wilbon departed the Washington Post after 32 years to devote more time to his duties at ESPN; and Jason Whitlock quit the Kansas City Star after 16 years for more work at FoxSports.com, staging a rambling LeBron James-style radio show called "The Explanation" in which he blasted the Star.
Promotions went to Mark Russell, who was named editor of the Orlando Sentinel; Debra Adams Simmons, appointed editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland; Aminda "Mindy" Marques Gonzalez became executive editor of the Miami Herald; and Sharon Prill, general manager of JSOnline.com, website of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, was named publisher of the Yakima (Wash.) Herald-Republic, owned by the Seattle Times.
The new owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News kept Michael Days as editor of the Daily News, though Inquirer Editor William K. Marimow was demoted.
In the professional associations, Milton Coleman, senior editor at the Washington Post, became president of the American Society of News Editors, and Hollis Towns, executive editor of the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, rose to lead the Associated Press Managing Editors.
The summer's election of Doris Truong as president of the Asian American Journalists Association, Michele Salcedo as leader of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Rhonda Levaldo as president of the Native American Journalists Association meant women would lead all five major journalists associations of color. Kathy Y. Times leads the National Association of Black Journalists, and Joanna Hernandez succeeded Barbara Ciara as president of Unity: Journalists of Color.
The Associated Press confirmed in December that it was suspending the 26-year-old internship program that has launched the careers of many a successful journalist, but said it would resume the program in 2012.
It added that AP would not attend any of the journalist-of-color conventions next summer.
AP President Tom Curley received appeals to save the program from the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists, as well as from graduates of the intern program.
Separately, Kia Breaux, acting AP bureau chief in Missouri and Kansas, in August was named bureau chief for the two states, becoming the only African American bureau chief at the news cooperative.
AP also named Sonya Ross, former White House correspondent and currently regional news editor in the Washington bureau, to the new position of race/ethnicity/demographics editor.
If mobile apps are one pillar in the future of news, then consumers of color should be prime targets: "African Americans and Hispanics continue to be among the most avid users of the Internet over their cellphones, the Pew Research Center reported in July. "And low-income groups are the fastest adopters of the mobile Web, showing an opportunity that wireless technology could play in helping to bridge a digital divide that has brought the Web disproportionately to wealthier communities over the past two decades," as Cecilia Kang put it in the Washington Post.
"Drilling down, Hispanics were the biggest users of data applications on their cellphones and laptops."
In August, the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that, "Over the last year, the broadband-adoption gap between blacks and whites has been cut nearly in half."
A December Pew study found that African American and Latino Internet users are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are white Internet users.
But African Americans were far behind on the ownership end.
The private investment research firm CB Insights reported in August that whites were 77 percent of the population but 87 percent of the start-up founders, Asians were 4 percent of the population but 12 percent of the founders, and blacks were 11 percent of the population but 1 percent of the founders. Native Americans barely registered, and "other races" accounted for 7 percent of the population.
Three members of the Federal Communications Commission told an August conference of the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council that minority communications entrepreneurs should be focusing on opportunities in new media.
One black journalist who succeeded entrepreneurially was Mark S. Luckie, recently named national innovations editor at the Washington Post. He sold his blog 10000Words.net, a resource for journalists and Web and technology enthusiasts, to WebMediaBrands Inc., owner of the Mediabistro blog network.
Fully 61 percent of African Americans said they or someone in their household had made a donation to help victims of the Haiti earthquake, while another 27 percent planned to give, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported in January.
Haiti, already the Western Hemisphere's most destitute nation, was shattered by an earthquake on Jan. 12 that killed at least 230,000 and left millions homeless. Crucial reconstruction projects were slow to get started; disease and political instability added to the woes, as the Associated Press reported.
Overall, 52 percent of Americans polled said they or someone in their household had made a donation to help those affected, Pew found in January, including 48 percent of whites who had made a donation and 10 percent who planned to.
The media images prompted early debates. "The images coming out of Haiti are more graphic than those from recent natural disasters, and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's not clear if this reflects the magnitude and proximity of the disaster, or some change in the willingness of newspapers and other media to accurately present the full horror of the earthquake that devastated the desperately poor nation on Tuesday afternoon," Philip Kennicott wrote in the Washington Post.
Media groups and American journalists, especially those of Haitian background, raised money and visited the island to see how they could help.
A telethon airing simultaneously on more than 25 American broadcast, cable, radio and Internet outlets was quickly put together by George Clooney and MTV Networks, along with the help of others. It raised $58 million, according to reports at the time.
The heart-wrenching catastrophe spawned such pledges as this one by Karl Rodney, publisher of the New York Carib News and chairman of the black press' NNPA Foundation Haitian Project:
"The story of Haiti is the story that the Black Press must own and the Black Press must tell because Haiti is the first Democratic country in the Western Hemisphere, the first Black republic for over 200 years."
The American news industry had responded with plans to help Haiti's journalists, devastated by the quake like other Haitian citizens, to tell their own stories.
Joe Oglesby, the retired editorial page editor at the Miami Herald, was picked to head this Haiti News Project.
At year's end, "Two major disasters — the earthquake in Haiti and the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico — captured the public’s attention more than any other major stories in 2010, the Pew Research Center for People and the Press reported, though "Americans also kept a consistent eye on the nation’s struggling economy."
Among the notable deaths among media figures in 2010:
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You wouldn't know it by watching Fox News, but based on a new Gallup Poll, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the most admired man and woman in the country.
"President Barack Obama is Americans' Most Admired Man of 2010, substantially ahead of the former presidents, iconic religious leaders, and others who fill out the top 10 list. Obama first became Americans' Most Admired Man in 2008, shortly after his election as the nation's 44th president, and has held the title since then," Lydia Saad reported Monday for the Gallup Organization.
". . . Obama is the runaway favorite for Most Admired Man among Democrats nationwide: 46% choose him, followed by 7% who pick Bill Clinton and 5% Nelson Mandela. Obama also leads among independents, with 17%, but ranks second among Republicans behind George W. Bush."
"Hillary Clinton is the Most Admired Woman this year, her ninth consecutive year at No. 1.
"In fact, the order of the top six women named in 2010 is identical to 2009, with Sarah Palin, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Condoleezza Rice, and Queen Elizabeth following Clinton."
Kevin Blackistone, AOL Fanhouse: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal Needs to Resonate With Pro Sports — Now
Lewis W. Diuguid, Kansas City Star: Ability for gay troops to serve openly is a New Year’s blessing
Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair: Obama Is Suffering Because of His Achievements, Not Despite Them
Four years ago, filmmaker Spike Lee raised $721,000 to begin a sports journalism program at Morehouse College, saying he believed the prominence of black athletes in sports should be equally represented in the coverage of sports.
Last week, Ron Thomas, who became the director of the Journalism and Sports Program at the college, updated members of the Sports Task Force of the National Association of Black Journalists on the progress of the program Lee envisioned.
"In May our program, which began as a concentration in English with only one journalism course, became an 18-credit hours minor that can be taken by any Morehouse student. . . .
"The program has grown exponentially. In its first semester in 2007, we had eight students. This semester, 45 students enrolled in our courses.
"Students were inspired by accomplished professional journalists as guest lecturers: New York Times sports columnist Bill Rhoden, ESPN.com columnist Vince Thomas, Atlanta Journal-Constitution feature writer Rosalind Bentley, NBA basketball analyst Mike Glenn (an expert on anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass and black athletes dating back to the early 1800s) and author Gary Pomerantz.
"Our program helped sponsor appearances by these prominent sports figures: Olympics icon Tommie Smith in a panel discussion entitled 'Life After the Locker Room,' former NBA star Chris Webber, and Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner.
"Our strategic plan, entitled 'Changing the Face of Journalism.' established these goals for 2010-2013: increasing the number of professors and support staff, keeping pace with multimedia technology, securing scholarships, helping students obtain internships and admission to graduate journalism programs, and establishing global learning opportunities. . . ."
Thomas ended by noting Lee's seed money, now pegged at $1 million, and asking for contributions. "To replenish and increase that seed money, fund-raising has been added to my duties this school year," he explained.
"Two major disasters — the earthquake in Haiti and the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico — captured the public’s attention more than any other major stories in 2010, but Americans also kept a consistent eye on the nation’s struggling economy," the Pew Research Center for People and the Press reported last week.
Its report on stories that captured the public's news interest during 2010 differed somewhat from the stories' rankings in the Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.
The Haiti earthquake, for example, ranked only fifth among the editors and news directors, while the Gulf oil spill was first.
"In mid-January, 60% of the public said they were following news about the horrific earthquake in Haiti very closely," Pew said. "In mid-July, a comparable 59% said they were following news very closely about the major oil leak in the Gulf that started with a deadly explosion on an oil rig.
"Throughout the year, the economy — the top story in both 2009 and 2008 — was never far from the top of the public’s news interest. . . . According to the weekly News Interest Index survey, the public also closely tracked news about the long-running debate over health care legislation in Washington. Interest peaked at 51% following very closely in mid-March as the House passed the legislation and sent it to President Obama for his signature. And in January, a special election for a Senate seat in Massachusetts attracted unusually high interest because of its implications for the health care bill. More than a third (36%) paid very close attention to Republican Scott Brown’s victory, which dealt a temporary setback to supporters of health care legislation."
Liz Cox Barrett, Columbia Journalism Review: Barrett picks her top stories from 2010
Michael Calderone, Yahoo News: Top five media departures of 2010
Ryan Chittum, Columbia Journalism Review: Chittum picks his top stories from . . . 2010
Jamison Foser, Media Matters: Media Pay Insufficient Attention To Unemployment While Obsessing Over Deficits, Taxes
Rubén Rosario, St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press: A year's worth of moving stories
Albor Ruiz, New York Daily News: Unemployment, Tea Party rhetoric, Haitian Earthquake: Past year was just a lost year in many ways
"While Hispanic magazines appear to have put the worst of the effects of the recession behind them and key categories like Automotive are recovering, comes the disappointing news that [¡Mira!] magazine — published by American Media, Inc. is folding this month," the Media Economics Group reported Dec. 15.
In addition, "Café, the Latino Lifestyle Magazine, published out of Chicago just published its last edition," Portada reported on Thursday.
"An American Media spokesperson has confirmed to Media Economics Group that Mira — its Spanish-language tabloid entertainment magazine — will be folding after the December 27th issue. That issue is scheduled to hit the [newsstands] on December 17th," the Media Economics Group said.
"Mira’s demise is a result not only of its own weakening ad sales, but also undoubtedly related to the well-publicized difficulties of its parent company this year. On November 1st, American Media announced that is was filing for bankruptcy after struggling with a heavy debt load.
"According to HispanicMagazineMonitor data, Mira’s advertisers were primarily direct response advertisers hawking horoscope lines, apparel, diet products and supplements, jewelry, perfumes, and even bedding products."
"John Rentoul has revised and updated his ‘Banned List’ of overused phrases — typically by journalists — and it is well worth a read by writers of all kinds," Joel Gunter wrote last week for the British website Journalism.co.uk.
Rentoul is chief political commentator for Britain's the Independent on Sunday.
"It continues to warn against the criminal practice of turning nouns into verbs (action, disconnect, leverage, storyline, among others), as well as irritating, incomprehensible acronyms (IMO, IMHO, LOL, ROFL and so on) and tired phrases (learning curve, raising awareness, celebrating diversity)," Gunter continued.
"Celebrating diversity" was No. 9 on the list, between "raising awareness" and "best practice."
"Following Rentoul’s efforts, Journalisted has turned its expert counters of all things journalistic to 2010's most overused phrases," Gunter said.
"Writers of all kinds, beware.
"Learning curve: 771 articles
"Way beyond: 746 articles
"A no-brainer: 651 articles
"Game changer: 524 articles
"Perfect storm: 520 articles
"Raising awareness: 405 articles
"Elephant in the room: 353 articles
"Not fit for purpose: 327 articles
"Out of the box: 229 articles
"What’s not to like?: 206 articles"
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Find out how news of her death was revealed, and then confirmed. Plus, an update on ex-federal prisoner Kemba Smith.
Updated on December 27, 5:18 pm ET.
R&B singer Teena Marie died at age 54, it was reported Sunday night, and the news spread by e-mail and by social-media tools such as Twitter before the mainstream media had a chance to catch up.
But it was old-school reporting that enabled Roland Martin, the analyst for CNN, TV One and the "Tom Joyner Morning Show," to tell the e-mail list of the National Association of Black Journalists at 8:19 p.m. Eastern, "It is true. I just confirmed it with her manager and publicist. I will have details in a moment." He was simultaneously keeping his Twitter followers up to date. Marie's daughter, Alia Rose, found the entertainer's body earlier Sunday at Marie's California home.
The Associated Press reported later that a statement from Pasadena police said the death appeared to be from natural causes. "The police and fire department were called to her home after family members found her unresponsive."
"I got a bunch of tweets and Facebook comments asking about it. I saw comedian Kym Whitley tweet that the story wasn't true of her death. I called Kym. Kym put me on the three-way with Teena's publicist, Lynn Jeter. Lynn said it wasn't true, but for me to call Teena's manager, Mike Gardner. She gave me his cell. Jeter had been trying to call Teena all day about it and had no luck getting through. I called Gardner immediately and he said, 'It's true.'
"I called Jeter back, she said she had just gotten through to the house, and talked to the folks there who said the coroner had just left with Teena's body."
For those unfamiliar with Marie, born Marie Christine Brockert, this is how she was described for a fall 2009 episode of "Unsung!," a TV One series that chronicles R&B stars of the '60s, '70s and '80s:
"There may never be a more soulful, sexy, funky combination of voice and music like that which emanates from the 'Ivory Queen of Soul,' Teena Marie. Signed by Motown at 17, and teamed up musically — and for a time, romantically — with funk master Rick James, who produced her debut album, 'Wild and Peaceful', and later put together their steamy duet, 'Fire and Desire,' one of the all time stage show-stoppers. That, and Teena’s robust sound and powerful delivery, helped to overcome long standing racial barriers between Black audiences and white singers.
"Under the auspices of James, she launched a ground-breaking initiative that allowed her to leave Motown at the height of her career, and also revolutionized the relationship between musicians and record labels throughout the industry. Teena went on to solely produce every subsequent album in her career, while earning four Grammy nominations, and recording a host of classic R&B hit singles, including 'Square Biz,' 'Lover Girl,' 'Oh La La La' and 'Portuguese Love.' She also shared a poignant reunion on stage with her friend and mentor Rick James, shortly before his passing in 2005. It’s all part of an inspirational story, still unfolding, of a woman who poured her life into music, and whose music has enriched our lives."
TV One tweeted Sunday night that it was re-running the episode Monday at 9 p.m. and midnight Eastern and Pacific times.
Kevin Ross, editor and contributing writer of Radio Facts, a Los Angeles-based site covering urban radio, claimed to be first with the story, posting at 5:09 p.m. Pacific time, and later updating:
"It has been confirmed Teena has died. WDAS stole the story from a link that we sent them and they are claiming she died of a heart attack, this has not been confirmed. They are in Philly and we are in Los Angeles where Teena lived. I was confident since Radio Facts broke the story that the source was a good one. Several people who are close to Teena and her family have called and emailed me to confirm it’s true. Sorry to report this sad news a day after Christmas. Ironically, I JUST finished the page on the Deaths for 2010 for a Radio Facts review of 2010 this afternoon. I guess I will have to edit it now. Still no word on the cause of her death. I will keep you posted. Kevin."
A Twitter report from Philadelphia's WDAS-FM sometime before 8:11 p.m. Eastern time said, "We regret to inform you that Music Legend Teena Marie has died at the age of 54. Tributes and further details soon at http://WDASfm.com." However, there were no details on the website until 9:01 p.m., when the station linked to Twitter messages from singer Ronald Isley and a drummer for singer-drummer Sheila E.
Meanwhile, at 7:50 p.m. Eastern, Denise Clay, a Philadelphia journalist who saw the news on the WDAS website, asked colleagues on the National Association of Black Journalists e-mail list, "Does anyone have any information confirming or denying a report that R n B singer Teena Marie is dead?"
"Tthe source wasn't one I recognized and I'm a part of the 'If your mama says she loves you, have it verified by three sources' school," she later told Journal-isms.
"There's nothing on Google News ..." one journalist wrote back at 8:07 p.m.
"Twitter is going nuts right now, but I've got nothing," an entertainment writer added.
"twitter has killed tons of folks off this year — so this could be some nasty hoax, too. . . . Also: folks are citing a blurb from a radio station. That same radio station also killed Luther off years before he died, so there's that ...,"a reference to Luther Vandross.
Twitterers went back and forth.
Ahmir Thompson, better known as Questlove of the band The Roots, Tweeted "something is telling me my hacked instincts are right. im not accepting this. im sorry. until CNN says it. its not true..."
There was indeed bad information. As Martin explained, referring to comedian Kym Whitley, "Teena Marie's publicist told her, & me, that the news wasn't true. Then she finally got through 2 Marie's home."
And then he tweeted, "the manager of @teenamarie, just told me that it is true: the legendary R&B singer has indeed died."
And CNN anchor Don Lemon tweeted then, "cnn has confirmed from teena marie's manager that she has died."
*Andy Greene, Rolling Stone: R&B Singer Teena Marie Dead at 54
Larry Harnisch blog, Los Angeles Times: Teena Marie, 1956—2010: 'I wish I was colorless'
Nina Mandell and Oren Yaniv, New York Daily News: Soul singer Teena Marie, known for 'Lovergirl,' dead at 54
Roland Martin blog: R&B Singer Teena Marie Dead At 54
Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press: Teena Marie, Known as 'Ivory Queen of Soul,' Dies
Miki Turner, Jet: Perspective/Remembering Lady T
Was Obama's Year "Terrible, Horrible, No Good"?
"The AP yesterday posted an op-ed titled 'Obama's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.' And from the headline you might think that it would show why [President] Obama's year has been terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad," Tim Heffernan wrote Wednesday for Esquire.
"It doesn't. What it shows is that the president has been yelled at a few times by the opposition, that he nonetheless remains vastly more popular than legislators of both parties and Congress as a whole, and that he managed to win virtually every major policy change he sought. Actually, you wouldn't know that last point, because the column mentions only a single policy victory: health care reform. Missing are, among others, a major bill regulating the finance sector, the one that just ended discrimination against gays in the military, and (shortly) the one that will enact the new START treaty with Russia.
"Here is how the AP spins this annus horribilis:
"From the start, 2010 delivered a string of setbacks that built up to an electoral shellacking come November, to use the president's own word. . . . "
"By this logic, it does not matter either that on the same day this column was released, SenatorLindsey Graham was stamping his feet in frustration at the Democrats' ability to pass major bills with significant Republican support during the current lame-duck session. Nor does it matter that this morning a new poll shows the president's approval rating with Republicans rising by nine points in the last two weeks.
"If I were a cynic, I'd suggest that the AP column might be just a little bit slanted, perhaps because one of its authors, Calvin Woodward, has demonstrated clear anti-Obama bias repeatedly in columns past, which itself might be a consequence of his tutelage by an AP bureau chief who was considerably too chummy with the Republicans he was supposed to be reporting on, including Karl Rove. . . ."
An AP spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Republican 'Tail" Wagging Congressional 'Dog'
Ruben Navarrette, Washington Post Writers Group: Plot Twist in DREAM Act's Demise
Richard Prince with Louis Jacobson on "The Michael Eric Dyson Show": Dyson Awards in Story of the Year
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Finally, victory on 'don't ask, don't tell'
TheRoot.com: Top 20 News Stories of 2010
Albor Ruiz, New York Daily News: Senate makes sure DREAM is deferred, dashing hopes of thousands of young people
"Global Plans to Replace the Dollar" is the No. 1 underreported story for 2011, according to Project Censored, which has been compiling a list of such stories for more than 30 years.
"Nations have reached their limit in subsidizing the United States’ military adventures," it said.
"During meetings in June 2009 in Yekaterinburg, Russia, world leaders such as China’s President Hu Jintao, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, and other top officials of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation took the first formal step to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. The United States was denied admission to the meetings. If the world leaders succeed, the dollar will dramatically plummet in value; the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket; and interest rates will climb."
As Rebecca Bowe noted in the Colorado Springs Independent, "In 1976, Project Censored first distributed its list nationwide to shed light on the top stories not brought to you by the mainstream press. These days, stories are submitted, researched by students, filtered through LexisNexis to determine which outlets have covered them, and then voted on by a team of judges.
"An international network of 30 colleges and universities contributes to the project, and volunteers from around the world submit stories for consideration. At the end of each project cycle, the work is released in a compendium."
The rest of the Project Censored list:
2. U.S. Department of Defense is the Worst Polluter on the Planet
3. Internet Privacy and Personal Access at Risk
4. ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Operates Secret Detention and Courts
5. Blackwater (Xe): The Secret U.S. War in Pakistan
6. Health Care Restrictions Cost Thousands of Lives in U.S.
7. External Capitalist Forces Wreak Havoc in Africa
8. Massacre in Peruvian Amazon over U.S. Free Trade Agreement
9. Human Rights Abuses Continue in Palestine
10. U.S. Funds and Supports the Taliban
Barry Saunders, columnist for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., "danced the Electric Slide while wearing a Duke basketball jersey today in front of The News & Observer. He'll also be getting a new column photo that doesn't have a cigar," the newspaper reported on Friday, posting a video of the midday event.
"When we announced our N&O Holiday Giving Guide last month, readers were challenged to donate at least $10,000 to the 130 local charities registered in the guide, and Barry would dance. Those charities received a grand total of $43,614 from readers.
"Disc jockey Mark Speed, owner of Speed of Sound, donated his record-spinning services to play the Electric Slide for the occasion."
"It's all right to make a fool of yourself for a good cause," Saunders told Journal-isms. He explained that "It's been my goal in life never to do the electric slide" but said he was challenged to do so for charity. Saunders said that line dances such as the slide "make men obsolete" because women don't need a partner. Thus, that was the first and last time he would do it, Saunders said.
Other columnists commemorated the holiday season with stories, some involving themselves.
Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution told how she adopted her daughter, Carly Robbins Tucker, declaring, "Today is my daughter’s second birthday, but I’m the one who received the awesome gift."
In the Washington Post, Courtland Milloy Jr. wrote about overwhelming reader response to his column last week about Cheyenne Browne, who passed up the toy fire truck she wanted in order to buy gifts for her grandmother and friends. Her father, Michael Browne, was a volunteer fire fighter who was killed saving Cheyenne from a tornado.
"To say the response was tremendous would be an understatement," said Diane Richardson, a spokeswoman for the Charles County (Md.) Sheriff's Office, in the follow-up column
Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: Fewer African-Americans are observing Kwanzaa — why?
Betty Bayé, Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: For Christmas, how about relief from foolishness?
Solomon Jones, Philadelphia Daily News: Santa's got a swagga that can't be copied
Julianne Malveaux, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Surviving, Thriving, and Holiday Kwanzaa
Julianne Malveaux, USA Today: New frugality mustn't sacrifice the homeless
Ruben Rosario, St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press: He killed her son; she forgave him
Ana Veciana-Suarez, Miami Herald: Holidays demand the rite stuff
"It's definitely been a tough few years for all of the minority journalism organizations," David A. Steinberg, national president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, wrote Journal-isms Wednesday after reading about the financial plight of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
"I'm happy to say that NLGJA is projected to end this year with a small but significant surplus. I've had discussions with many people in NLGJA and in our sister groups, and I think NLGJA got hit harder and earlier than some of the other groups — but that forced us to deal with the situation earlier, too. As a result, we spent time restructuring our operations and now don't find ourselves scrambling to make ends meet as we did just a couple years ago. We're actually in the rebuilding stage now and are restoring programs that had been cut back. (For example, we have relaunched our newsletter to members, at the same time transforming it from a printed quarterly publication to a more timely bimonthly electronic communication.)
"Hope you're having a good holiday season — and that 2011 brings good news to all of us!"
The NLGJA was founded in 1990 by the late Leroy F. Aarons, a co-founder of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. It now has 650 to 700 members, said Steinberg, copy desk chief and stylebook editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. "That's down from a few years ago (and from our high earlier in the decade), but has held relatively steady this year.
"I can't definitively answer why we got hit harder/earlier, though I have a few theories. For one, we're a smaller group with a smaller budget, so big shifts really impact us. The frustrating thing to me, in many ways, is that we had taken a lot of the steps that one would think would have helped to insulate us from the huge shifts in the media. For one, we had diversified our funding base substantially, so that we didn't rely entirely on media companies. Unfortunately, many of the companies that had started to support us were also caught up in the deep recession (Fannie Mae and GM, for example).
"Also, unlike some of the other groups, we have never had a big endowment/reserve. (It's been my goal for a while, but as of now we're just not there.) For that reason, when revenue fell, we had to make cuts immediately and didn't have the option of putting that off by tapping a reserve.
"Another way in which we were hit earlier and have subsequently been able to rebound: Like the other groups, we had to pay penalties for failing to meet our convention room block commitment (in our case starting in 2007). Because of our size, our penalties were probably smaller than those incurred by, say, NABJ or NAHJ," referring to the national associations of black and Hispanic journalists. "As soon as we saw the big drop-off in convention attendance, we started very early and worked very hard to renegotiate those hotel contracts, and as a result, we paid no penalties to our convention hotels in either 2009 or 2010.
". . . NLGJA has downsized for several years. Our staffing was at seven full-time employees just a few years ago. Through attrition, that dropped to two staffers by 2008. In 2009, we hired Michael Tune, our executive director, and he along with Bach Polakowski now staff our office.
"Many of the actions being taken by our fellow minority journalism groups are actions NLGJA took two or three years ago. We made a big push to encourage lifetime membership; we updated members on the specifics and depths of the organization's financial challenges; and we made pleas for donations and monthly giving.
"So, yes, NLGJA is a smaller organization than it was three, five or seven years ago. But we're much leaner and we are trying to focus on the things that will be of the most benefit to our members, specifically professional development and networking."
Reginald Stuart, who wrote the 10,000-word "Kemba's Nightmare" cover piece about federal prisoner Kemba Smith for the old Emerge Magazine in 1996, has an update on Kemba Smith Pradia, as she is now known, in Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
"Smith’s 'nightmare' was a case of a promising college student who became a poster child for the failures of a hastily written federal mandatory minimum drug sentencing law. In December 2000, during his final days in office, President Bill Clinton commuted Smith’s prison sentence to the 6½ she had served," Stuart wrote in the piece, posted online Friday.
"With her new lease on life, Kemba Smith Pradia has worked to get her life on track, advocate for drug sentencing law reform and help students learn from her misfortune. Today, Pradia is a college graduate and married mother of two who tours college campuses telling her tale and warning students about the consequences of their life choices."
Wayne Dawkins wrote in Black Issues Book Review that "Stuart's reporting in 1996 and 1998 mobilized blacks nationwide and probably influenced President Clinton's decision to commute Smith's sentence."
Stuart's Diverse piece continued, " 'There are few days that go by when I am not thinking about the past and how far God has brought me, the lessons I’ve learned from it and the struggles that continue over sentencing and the women I left behind,' says Pradia, 39. 'I just take it a day at a time.'
”Smith, now married and living in Indianapolis, had become the poster child in the mid-1990's for all that was wrong with the tough mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws enacted by Congress after the death of University of Maryland basketball sensation Len Bias.
". . . Women are the fastest-growing segment of the prison population, and 56 percent of them are in prison for drug or property crimes, according to Families Against Mandatory Minimums. Like Pradia, many of these women were victims of violence before incarceration. Nearly six in 10 women in state prison have experienced physical or sexual abuse in the past."
Stuart, a recruiter for the McClatchy Co., told Journal-isms, "I'm proud of this journalistic journey — one starfish at a time." He also wrote a brief update on Pradia for the December-January issue of Heart and Soul.
"The Federal Communications Commission chairman, Julius Genachowski, signaled his approval of Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal on Thursday, but that approval will come with conditions,"Brian Stelter wrote for the New York Times.
"Among the anticipated stipulations is that Comcast not withhold NBC programming from its competitors in the online video market and that it allow rival distributors to have reasonable access to NBC Universal programming.
"Details about the proposed conditions started to trickle out Thursday after the F.C.C. started to share its order for the deal internally. Essentially, the order is a draft of the rules that Comcast and NBC will have to operate under."
The merger has 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."
Danny J. Bakewell Sr., National Newspaper Publishers Association: FCC Appears to Find Middle Road to Hope
Susan Crawford blog: Why Comcast/NBCU matters
John Eggerton, Multichannel News: Rep. Waters: FCC Net Neutrality Rules Could Harm Minorities
Those expecting to watch BET's anniversary special, BET 30: Moments and Movements, Sunday night, were in for a surprise.
"Do not adjust your television sets: The BET special celebrating the network's 30th anniversary scheduled for Sunday evening was nowhere to be found. The show, 'BET 30: Moments and Movements,' was supposed to air from 8 to 10 p.m.," Nancy McKeon reported Monday for the Washington Post.
"An e-mail from a BET press representative sent to The Post at 7:30 p.m., half an hour before the show was to air, said, 'It appears that we will not be airing the BET special this evening.' No explanation was given."
BET spokeswoman Jeanine Liburd told Journal-isms by e-mail Monday night, "Unfortunately, BET 30: Moments and Movements experienced some unforeseen technical difficulties and a solution could not be reached before air time. We sincerely apologize to our viewers and will announce the new air date shortly."
A note on the BET website Monday night listed a new airtime of Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time, 7 p.m. Central.
"The show postponement attracted comments to the BET Web site from upset viewers from around the country," the Post story continued. "A viewer from Philadelphia wrote, 'I'm very disappointed. BET should at least place a notation at the bottom of the [TV] screen with details of when' the show will air," the Post story continued.
While not produced by the News division, "BET 30: Moments and Movements," was to include "a look at 'police brutality' through the eyes of Rodney King; 'the September 11 attacks' from the personal insight of Melodie Homer, widow of one of the pilots of Flight 93;" and explore "hip-hop’s commercial rise from the perspective of rap icon Jay-Z. From the effect the Cosby family had in American households to Obama’s meteoric rise to Spike Lee and the emergence of black filmmakers to the crack and HIV/AIDS epidemics devastating urban communities."
"Seeking to neutralize political opposition to its proposed merger with NBC Universal Inc., Comcast Corp. says it 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," Bob Fernandez reported Friday for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"Those provisions are part of separate agreements Comcast executives signed with civil rights groups."
But Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who has raised diversity issues in connection with the proposed merger, wrote the FCC Monday saying that "many of the proposed conditions appear to be a series of vague goals and nominal gestures . . . there is no real assurance that the merged entity will honor them."
She said that "if the Commission ultimately approves the Comcast-NBCU merger, it must be conditioned upon substantive and enforceable commitments that are in conformity with the agency’s statutory standards and goals."
Waters said in her letter:
"Although the civic organizations and community leaders who helped forge these agreements likely negotiated in good faith, absent further action by the Commission, I am afraid that these commitments will result in yet another set of broken promises between communities of color and large corporations.
"Even as these groups enter into new MOUs [memorandums of understanding] with Comcast-NBCU, earlier this month, the National Latino Media Council proclaimed that all of the networks (including NBC) 'pretty well failed Latinos in their progress on diversity practices.' It appears that NBC Universal has not made much progress since signing an earlier MOU with the civil rights community in 2000, and we have nothing to indicate that these new MOUs will change what has been a steady decline in diversity among all the major broadcast networks. To that end, I remain very concerned about how the Comcast-NBCU merger will further erode the Commission’s capacity to promote diverse, independent, and competing sources of information."
Fernandez reported, "African American groups that signed the agreement to be filed with the FCC were the NAACP, the National Urban League, and the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, according to a memorandum of understanding between the groups and Comcast.
"According to that agreement, the four channels added to the Comcast lineup will be majority-owned or substantially owned by African Americans. The channels will be added to Comcast over eight years."
". . . Comcast has said it would like to conclude its merger with NBC Universal by the end of the year, but time seems to be running short, with the holidays and the net-neutrality issue before the FCC.
"The Justice Department also has to give its consent to the merger."
As reported last week, five Asian American organizations — the Asian American Justice Center, Organization of Chinese Americans, Japanese American Citizens League, East West Players and Media Action Network for Asian Americans — came out in support of the merger after Comcast agreed to expand Asian American programming.
In June, 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.
Before that, 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."
Isaac Lee, president of news for Univision, "who's been on the job barely a week, told a Produ.com reporter the Spanish-language network will start a 24-hr news channel," Veronica Villafañe reported Friday for her Media Moves site.
" 'I don't know how quickly we'll do it or when it will launch, but it is one of our most important projects. I think it will be very successful because the platform we have at Univision to pull it off is spectacular,' he said during the interview.
"He said he plans to bring about a 'revolution' to Univision, focusing on the expansion of new media and social networks, with the intention of furthering the network's growth."
Univision spokeswoman Monica Talan confirmed Monday that "the company is evaluating many projects and opportunities."
"The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission appears to have the votes he needs to pass new rules for net neutrality," Brian Stelter reported for the New York Times.
"Net neutrality — which broadly speaking is an effort to ensure open access to Web sites and online services — is on the agenda of an F.C.C. meeting Tuesday in Washington."
In a commentary on the Huffington Post, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said, "The good news is that the Federal Communications Commission has the power to issue regulations that protect net neutrality. The bad news is that draft regulations written by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski don't do that at all. They're worse than nothing."
Ivan Roman, executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said on his Facebook page on Monday, "Agree 100 percent with Franken on this and so [do] NAHJ and UNITY Journalists of Color. The FCC could on Tuesday change the rules of the game on the Internet, allow discrimination against competitors and smaller entrepreneurs with less money than large corporations, and gut the openness and freedom of the internet so companies can make even more profit. Allowing this would repeat the mistakes of the past [when media, regardless of the new platform or technology that came along, shut out, ignored and discriminated against the poor and communities of color.]
". . . It looks like the FCC will betray those of us who want and need a truly free and open internet, and will approve fake net neutrality rules tomorrow. President Obama's pledge for net neutrality wasn't enough to counter lobbyists flooding the FCC, which seemed more bent on negotiating rather than regulating. The fight goes on!"
Stelter wrote that Genachowski "outlined a framework for net neutrality earlier this month, touching off a debate about the role of the government in regulating Internet access.
"As it stands now, the order would prohibit the blocking of any Web sites, applications or devices by fixed-line broadband Internet providers like Comcast and EarthLink, essentially forbidding the providers from picking winners and losers on behalf of consumers, F.C.C. officials said Monday.
"The F.C.C. officials also said that the order would broaden the government’s enforcement powers over broadband."
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: Clyburn Supports Network Neutrality Vote
"The Senate on Saturday passed the Local Community Radio Act. That followed the passage of the bill in the House on Friday, and the bill will now go to President Obama for his signature, opening the way for potentially thousands more low-power FM stations," RadioInk reported on Saturday.
". . . The Prometheus Radio Project, which held a protest earlier this week outside NAB headquarters urging the organization to drop its opposition, was delighted by the bill's passage, though it said the amendments 'will require some further work at the FCC,' the story continued, referring to the National Association of Broadcasters.
"The group's Pete Tridish said, 'A town without a community radio station is like a town without a library. Many a small town dreamer — starting with a few friends and bake sale cash — has successfully launched a low-power station, and built these tiny channels into vibrant town institutions that spotlight school board elections, breathe life into the local music scene, allow people to communicate in their native languages, and give youth an outlet to speak.' "
"Liberal Democrats remain strong supporters of President Obama, but their approval of the job he is doing has fallen noticeably since the midterm elections," Jeffrey M. Jones reported for the Gallup Organization on Thursday. "For the first time, it dropped below 80% in the week after the announcement of the tax deal he brokered with congressional Republicans."
The poll was taken before the weekend's developments in which the Senate voted with the president to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," but Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats voted in the lame-duck session to block legislation that would grant legal residency to illegal immigrants who came to the United States before age 16.
". . . The Gallup data indicate that Obama's support among liberal Democrats was starting to decline even before he reached the tax deal," Gallup reported. "He averaged 88% approval among this group the last full week before the midterm elections (Oct. 25-31) and 83% the first three full weeks (Nov. 8-28) after his party suffered major losses in those elections, and then dipped below 80% the week after the announcement of the tax deal on Monday, Dec. 6."
Betty Winston Bayé, Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: Lessons learned by Obama and Steele
Playthell Benjamin blog: Tom Buffenbarger Is Talking Like A Fool!
Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Whose Party Is It?
Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: McCain Hits Bottom, Digs
Julianne Malveaux, Washington Informer: Some Want Jobs for Christmas
Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: The Audacity of Audacity
Ruben Navarrette, Washington Post Writers Group: For Obama's Critics, Grow Up
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: The weeper of the House
Julia Preston, New York Times: Immigration Vote Leaves Obama’s Policy in Disarray
"Rikyrah," Jack & Jill Politics: U.S. Senate Rejects the DREAM Act
Elmer Smith, Philadelphia Daily News: For Prez & tax bill, a different week
Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 'Don’t ask' consigned to history’s dust bin
"Love it or hate it, Fox News has shaken up the media establishment and achieved financial success by airing the views of strident conservative pundits. Yet while the network has never made any bones about the political slant of opinion shows hosted by the likes of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly, executives often claim that its news coverage is 'fair and balanced.' A memo revealed this week by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters calls that into question," the Los Angeles Times editorialized over the weekend.
"The first time Media Matters unveiled a leaked e-mail from Bill Sammon, Fox News' Washington managing editor, it was hardly worthy of mention. On Dec. 9 the group's website revealed that Sammon had instructed reporters to avoid the phrase 'public option' when referring to a proposed government-sponsored healthcare plan. . . .
"But a second intercepted missive from Sammon is quite a bit more troubling.
" 'We should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question,' read an e-mail sent by Sammon to news reporters on Dec. 8, 2009, and revealed this week by Media Matters. The memo went out 15 minutes after a Fox News reporter accurately explained to viewers that United Nations scientists had issued a report saying 2000 to 2009 was shaping up to be the warmest decade on record — even warmer than the 1990s, which were warmer than the 1980s.
"Such data aren't in serious dispute among climate scientists. . . . Fox should either come clean about this and crack down on such partisanship in its news ranks, or it should stop pretending to be an objective news source."
Barry Sussman, Nieman Watchdog: Ridiculing Fox News
Louis M. "Skip" Perez, executive editor of the Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., announced Thursday that he plans to retire from the newspaper Jan. 14, concluding a journalism career that lasted more than 40 years, Kyle Kennedy wrote Thursday for the Ledger.
Perez's paternal grandparents are from the Asturias region of Spain and those on his mother's side are from Cuba, Perez told Journal-isms.
". . . In 1970, Perez joined the staff of the Gainesville Sun as a reporter and later served as assistant city editor and editorial writer for the paper. He moved on to The Ledger in 1976 as editorial page editor and became executive editor in 1981, serving in that role for the past three decades," Kennedy reported.
". . . In addition to his duties at The Ledger, Perez represents The New York Times Co. on the board of directors of the Inter-American Press Association, a group dedicated to press freedom in Latin America. He is United States vice-chairman of IAPA's Freedom of Press Committee.
"Perez is a past president of the Florida Society of News Editors and served two terms on its board, as well as on the boards of the National Conference of Editorial Writers and the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was active for many years with the American Society of News Editors in a variety of committee roles, and was twice a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes."
Isabel Wilkerson, former New York Times correspondent, Pulitzer Prize winner and Boston University professor, discusses her critically acclaimed "The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration" on Saturday at the first holiday party of the Journalists' Roundtable, an informal dinner group of Washington journalists that began in 1998 and has been mentioned from time to time in this column. Behind Wilkerson are, from left, Jason Miccolo Johnson, Linda Shockley, Richard Prince, Jeannine Hunter, Latoya Peterson and Kevin Blackistone. More photos here. About 60 others attended the event at the D.C. home of Paul Delaney, retired New York Times senior editor, and his wife, Anita Delaney. (Photo credit: Craig Herndon.)
A book deal for him and an Uptown gig for her. Plus: Questions about Huffington Post's diversity record, 2 million petition for net neutrality, and more.
"Since his contract as a senior news analyst at NPR was terminated in October, Juan Williams has found no shortage of platforms from which he can express himself," Dave Itzkoff wrote Tuesday in the New York Times. "In addition to the new contract he signed with the Fox News Channel, amid a dispute over remarks he made on 'The O’Reilly Factor,' he has now entered into a two-book deal with the Crown Publishers imprint of the Crown Publishing Group at Random House, the imprint said on Tuesday.
"Crown said in a statement that the first book from Mr. Williams, planned for a summer publication and not yet titled, will 'focus on free speech and the growing difficulty in America of speaking out on sensitive topics.' In the book Mr. Williams 'will argue that the American public benefits from a vigorous and full-throated debate on hot button issues of political and cultural import' and 'chronicle his own first-hand experience of the consequences of crossing the line in public expression,' the statement said. . . .
"Crown said the second book from Mr. Williams, which does not yet have a publication date, will 'examine the changing face of America since the time of the Founding Fathers, as seen through the eyes of some of the noteworthy individuals who have helped to expand on and transform our ideas of what it means to be an American.' "
[In the Washington Post on Thursday, Paul Farhi reported that "after an initial flurry of mostly angry e-mails and calls in the wake of the Oct. 20 firing of Williams, the controversy waned quickly and has all but disappeared, station managers say.
["More important, perhaps, is that few contributors revoked financial pledges made to the stations during fundraising drives held the week of Williams's firing."]
"The staff of the Huffington Post came together on Monday night for our annual holiday party at Manhattan's Bar 89," the Huffington Post website reported Tuesday, wishing everyone happy holidays.
Asked to name the one or two staffers in the photo who appeared to be African American, Mario Ruiz, spokesman for the operation, replied by e-mail, "sorry, cant identify folks for you."
In April, the American Society of News Editors completed its second attempt at measuring diversity at online news organizations, but the Huffington Post did not participate.
Meanwhile, site founder Arianna Huffington told Brett Pulley of Bloomberg News that the news site, which began in 2005, "will post its first annual profit this year and aims to keep sales rising as it turns readers into pundits," Pulley reported on Tuesday.
*Jeff Bercovici blog, Forbes.com: Huffington Post vs. New York Times: A Productivity Comparison
"Consistent with the mood of the nation all year, 2010 is closing on a down note. Fully 72% are dissatisfied with national conditions, 89% rate national economic conditions as only fair or poor, and majorities or pluralities think the country is losing ground on nine of 12 major issues," the Pew Research Center reported on Wednesday.
"The public is especially bearish about the federal budget deficit, the cost of living, the financial condition of Social Security and the availability of good-paying jobs. At least six-in-ten say the country is losing ground in each of these areas.
"Smaller majorities say the nation is losing ground on the gap between rich and poor (58%), the ability to compete economically with other countries (55%) and the financial condition of Medicare (51%).
"The latest national poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 1-5 among 1,500 adults, finds only two issues where relatively small minorities say the United States is losing ground — international terrorism (25% losing ground) and environmental pollution (23%). Even in these areas, however, most Americans do not see progress being achieved; rather, pluralities say things are staying about the same as they have been.
"Yet Americans’ views about how the nation is doing on several major issues have improved since December 2008, a time when Americans expressed an even more negative view of the economy than they do today."
*Dan Balz and Jon Cohen, Washington Post: Washington Post-ABC poll: Public is not yet sold on GOP
*Corey Dade, NPR: Obama Should 'Man Up' Columnist Explains What He Meant
*Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe: A repeal that’ll be dangerous to our health
*Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup Organization: Obama Approval Rating Holding Steady Since Midterms (Dec. 7)
*Lenny McAllister, theRoot.com: Is Democratic Opposition to Obama Also Racial?
*Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Don't cry for me, John Boehner — really
*Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Tag-team smackdown
*Elmer Smith, Philadelphia Daily News: For Prez & tax bill, a different week
"Iowa’s attorney general said yesterday that he will bring criminal charges over the foreclosure scandal. But most of the press doesn’t have the news," Ryan Chittum reported Wednesday for the Columbia Journalism Review.
"Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism picks up on this story, as does The Huffington Post and HousingWire.
"But the only mainstream media coverage it got was in the Des Moines Register and Reuters.
"This is a story the rest of the press might want to report. The ante just got upped bit on this scandal.
"This isn’t necessarily just another politician blowing smoke. BusinessWeek put the longtime AG, Tom Miller, on its cover a couple of years ago with the headline 'They Warned Us About the Mortgage Crisis.' He and other state attorneys general tried to crack down on predatory lending but were preempted by the Bush administration. And he’s heading up the joint investigation by all fifty states into the scandal. It’s worth following what he has to say.
"Especially when it’s 'we will put people in jail.'
"That’s also notable, since as we discussed last week, no major executive has gone to jail for the financial crisis and its fallout. It’s unclear, of course, if Iowa will be able to prosecute executives or just the low-level employees who implemented the fraud."
At a hearing on the causes of the foreclosure crisis Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., Detroit lawyer Vanessa Fluker said she would like to address "this media perception has been that for some reason we have all these massive foreclosures because you have this multitude of people who bit off more than they could chew; who went into homes that just were exorbitant and beyond their reach.
"This is not true," Fluker said. "The majority of people in subprime mortgages are the working poor — minorities and senior citizens — and that is what constitutes and makes up the majority of my practice. Unfortunately, the scenario is such that these subprime mortgages were marketed and pushed disparately on the working poor, minorities and senior citizens.
"For instance, to give a real-life first-hand perspective, my client, Ms. Harp [phonetic spelling], works every day as a legal assistant; mother dying of cancer; been fighting for two years to get a modification with Bank of America. Who, by the way, just got $7 billion additionally in January of this year to do that.
"No go. They're proceeding to eviction on that matter right now. The only reason eviction hasn't occurred is because there may be some impropriety with the affidavits and documentation.
"My client is a senior citizen who was diagnosed with dementia in 2000, who was put in a pay-option ARM mortgage in 2007, who we're still fighting. Of course, this is family now, seeing as we've been fighting so long. He died a week and a half ago.
"My client who has a farm in Michigan who was put in a subprime residential mortgage, interest-only, but now it covers his house and his whole farm. And they're foreclosing and trying to take the whole farm.
"Or most — even more egregious, my client who is on active duty in Iraq, serving his country, comes back. He's in foreclosure. They're like, 'Oh, well, too bad. We can't work with you. We can't modify your loan.'
"This is just a sampling of what I deal with every day, and it is voluminous."
"While tributes have been pouring in for Richard Holbrooke," the veteran U.S. diplomat who died Monday at age 69, "little attention has been paid to his role in implementing and backing U.S. policies that killed thousands of civilians," host Amy Goodman said Wednesday on Pacifica Radio's "Democracy, Now!"
"As assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration, Holbrooke oversaw weapons shipments to the Indonesian military as it killed a third of East Timor's population. In 1980, he played a key role in the Carter administration's support for a South Korean military crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising in the city of Kwangju that killed hundreds of people. Details of Holbrooke's role in East Timor and Korea have been entirely ignored by the corporate media since his death — hardly covered before, as well. Richard Holbrooke was also a prominent Democratic backer of the Bush administration's decision to attack Iraq in 2003," she asserted.
Goodman then played a tape of investigative journalist Allan Nairn confronting Holbrooke in 1997 at Brown University about East Timor.
"If you want to accuse me of genocide, you're welcome to do so," Holbrooke replied. "And if — as far as extending the war crimes tribunal to Timor, or for that matter, Cambodia, where it's incomprehensibly not of a mandate, I'm all for it. In fact, I have recently written a letter to the Holocaust Commission at the museum recommending that they take this issue on, precisely because it's incomprehensible to me why various people who are equally as murderous as Radovan Karadžic and Ratko Mladic have never been investigated.
"But I tell you here, for the benefit of everyone else, that the Timor issue is not as simple as described just now. It just isn't. This is not what happened, and I don't think anyone who knows Jimmy Carter or what he stands for would agree that this was a deliberate policy of giving low-flying airplanes or helicopters to the Indonesians so that they could go out and kill people in the hills."
Holbrooke was well-liked by reporters, and he was married to television journalist Kati Marton, the daughter of Endre Marton, an Associated Press White House correspondent. She was previously the wife of the late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings.
Last year, Holbrooke gave the keynote address at the International Center for Journalists' 25th Anniversary Awards Dinner in Washington.
On the e-mail list of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, Jonathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express-News wrote Wednesday, "Those of us who attended State Department briefings in 2009 and 2010 got to spend a total of approximately two hours with Richard Holbrooke. He was not shy about letting us know that he was able to utilize the media to his advantage. He had been in and around Washington long enough to prove it. Beyond the posturing, he also was without doubt a patron of journalism. This was evident in his extended, off-the-record sessions with us about Afghanistan and Pakistan. The nation lost a diplomat. Journalism lost a friend."
At the 2009 session, Holbrooke volunteered to this columnist that he remembered Robert C. Maynard when Maynard was an editorial writer at the Washington Post.
*Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karen DeYoung blog, Washington Post: Holbrooke's last words on the Afghan war
*Robert Mackey blog, New York Times: Revisiting Holbrooke’s Last Remarks
"In a two-day marathon, SavetheInternet.com Coalition allies and activists delivered 2 million petitions for real Net Neutrality to the Federal Communications Commission before the close of the public comment period on new FCC rules," the activist group Free Press reported on Tuesday. "The petitions, collected from across the country, urged the FCC to stand up for real Net Neutrality and safeguard the open Internet. The agency is scheduled to vote on its proposed Net Neutrality rules at its Dec. 21 open meeting.
". . . The petitions were delivered by local volunteers and representatives of the many groups that helped collect them, including Free Press, New America Foundation, Media Access Project, Public Knowledge, Future of Music Coalition, the Media and Democracy Coalition, [CREDO] Action, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, MoveOn.org, ColorofChange.org, Common Cause, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Prometheus Radio Project, the Harry Potter Alliance and the Open Source Democracy Foundation."
In addition, "a quartet of network neutrality proponents led by MoveOn.org said they would rather the FCC do nothing than adopt the chairman's current compromise proposal to expand and codify network neutrality guidelines," John Eggerton reported for Broadcasting & Cable. The other groups are ColorOfChange.org. CREDO Action and Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
*James Rucker, theRoot.com: Why We Need Net Neutrality
*David Sutphen, theRoot.com: Let's Ensure Web for All
Television personality Star Jones has joined Uptown magazine as editor-at-large, the magazine announced on Wednesday.
"Jones’ first UPTOWN editorial contribution to the publication will be in the first ever Weddings and Travel special issue available on newsstands January 20. She will make her on-line debut in late December. Among her Editor-at-Large duties, Jones will act as a contributor with a regular column as well as writing political, entertainment and celebrity feature stories," an announcement said.
Spokeswoman Jackie Saril told Journal-isms that although Jones' first column will be about weddings, it would not directly address her lavish and widely publicized 2004 wedding to investment banker Al Reynolds, attended by nearly 500 people. They divorced four years later.
Uptown, published eight times a year, describes itself as "the only luxury lifestyle publication for affluent African Americans."