A survey finds that most people approve of Barack Obama's tax cut deal with Republicans.
"The agreement between President Obama and congressional Republicans to extend tax cuts and unemployment benefits is getting strong bipartisan support. Overall, 60% approve of the agreement while just 22% disapprove," the Pew Research Center reported on Monday.
"There are virtually no partisan differences in opinions about the agreement — 63% of Democrats approve of it, as do 62% of Republicans and 60% of independents. Among Democrats, liberals are as supportive of the agreement as are conservative and moderate Democrats.
"The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 9-12 among 1,011 adults, finds that on balance more say the agreement will help rather than hurt the U.S. economy and people like themselves.
"Nearly half (48%) say the agreement will help the economy, while just 29% think it will hurt the economy. Opinions are similar about the personal impact of the deal: Nearly twice as many say the agreement will help (47%) rather than hurt (25%) people like themselves.
"However, far more people say the agreement on tax cuts and unemployment benefits will hurt (46%), rather than help (26%) the federal budget deficit. Opinions about the impact of the agreement – like views of the deal itself – show little difference across parties."
Betty Winston Bayé, Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: A meanness gap: Why Obama disappoints his backers
Stanley Crouch, New York Daily News: America, the debate over Bush tax cuts is another decoy: it's time to focus on the real issues
Jamison Foser, Media Matters: The LA Times’ poor reporting on the rich
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: Progressives Are Blowing Hot Air Over Obama’s Tax Cut Deal
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: 5 lessons Obama can learn from 'the first black president'
David Cay Johnston with Amy Goodman on "Democracy, Now!" Pacifica Radio: "The Worse Off You Are, Your Taxes Increase" (Dec. 14)
Colbert I. King, Washington Post: Memo to the left: Hands off Obama
Pew Research Center: Deficit Solutions Meet With Public Skepticism
Ishmael Reed, New York Times: What Progressives Don’t Understand About Obama
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Democrats have no choice but to accept an irresponsible tax deal
Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Will tea partiers protest the $858 billion tax deal?
The National Association of Black Journalists, largest of the journalist of color associations, proposed on Sunday that the proceeds from the next Unity: Journalists of Color convention be split in a proportion more favorable to the groups that send the most registrants.
The individual organizations — NABJ, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association — would also receive a greater share compared with the Unity umbrella organization.
"We're all in a very similar position as far as our funding sources," Kathy Times, NABJ president, told Journal-isms. That is, scrambling. "This is an opportunity for us to begin a conversation."
Gregory Lee, the NABJ treasurer, explained via e-mail:
"This proposal means that the revenue sharing would be distributed according to association size. One of the big differences is the on-site registrations would be placed in the general pool so each alliance member can have added revenues. The logic is that the alliance partners have membership bases that [justify] receiving these receipts. UNITY is not a membership fee-based association that has become a fifth entity, something that the founding fathers never intended for it to become and competes for dollars that associations vie for as well."
Under the current arrangement, according to Lee, the first 20 percent of the net profits goes to Unity. The next 80 percent is split among the four alliance partners. Of that 80 percent, the first half is split equally. The final half is split proportionately among the associations, depending on each's paid registration numbers.
In addition, each alliance partner keeps its convention registration proceeds. Unity receives all of the on-site registration money.
In the NABJ proposal, all of the money, including the on-site registrations, would go into a general pool. Of that, Unity would receive 20 percent. The remaining 80 percent would be split proportionately among the associations, depending on the number of paid registrations.
The other associations were noncommittal.
"NAHJ is [analyzing] the motion made by NABJ President Kathy Times, as well as the proposal by NABJ Financial Officer Greg Lee, in anticipation of a meeting of the alliance presidents early next year," Michele Salcedo, NAHJ president, told Journal-isms by e-mail.
"NAJA is going to discuss the proposal set before us by NABJ's representatives. We also plan to meet with the other alliances in January to discuss their stance on this issue and the implications it might have," said Rhonda LeValdo, president of NAJA.
"Same here," said Sharon Chan, president of AAJA. "AAJA is crunching the numbers on NABJ's proposal and the implications it could have for all the alliance partners and UNITY, and the alliance presidents will put their heads together in January."
Toluse Olorunnipa, a Miami Herald business reporter, was spotlighted last week on the Nieman Watchdog site under the headline, "How watchdog reporting is supposed to work." Olorunnipa told the story of Imogene Hall, the victim of a foreclosure nightmare who had called him on a recent Friday in tears.
"With a ballooning backlog of more than 100,000 lingering foreclosure cases, South Florida’s courthouses have become hopelessly overwhelmed, and judges are tasked with clearing out 200 court cases per day," Olorunnipa wrote.
"As a result, evidence of fraud and other irregularities are routinely pushed aside or looked over for the sake of expediency. That’s perhaps the saddest part of Hall’s story — the inability of the judicial system to protect her.
"Hall’s story has received more response than any other piece I’ve written during my short stint on the Miami Herald’s real estate beat.
"Readers from all over the country have chimed in with their thoughts, and many have offered to help Hall with legal aid, financial contributions and words of support. Members of the local government — including Hall’s state representative — took interest in Hall’s case. One man even offered to feature Hall’s story in a movie.
"However, as of this writing, Hall remains very much in danger of losing her home and being put out on the street. Her lender, which already received a foreclosure judgment, has not responded to the article, and her house is set to be sold at auction in December.
"I hope to do a follow-up on this article, when all is said and done, and narrate the final chapter of Hall’s housing malaise, which increasingly looks like it will end sadly, with a family of seven kicked out of their home."
In her "From the Editor" column in the Herald, Executive Editor Aminda Marques Gonzalez quoted Money Editor Terence Shepherd, a former president of the South Florida Black Journalists Association:
"There are a lot of stories out there," Shepherd said. "You just have to keep your finger on the pulse and know what’s happening."
Rosland Gammon, BusinessJournalism.org: Miami Herald uses timeline to track fraud’s impact on one borrower
Toluse Olorunnipa, Miami Herald: Hellish home refinancing nears bleak conclusion
"James Tucker, publisher of the African American Voice, the city’s only Black newspaper, has asked the federal government to stop a local school district from advocating an advertising boycott of his publication," Roger K. Clendening wrote from Colorado Springs, Colo., on Sunday for New America Media.
"Tucker recently filed a racial discrimination complaint with the U.S. Justice Department against Harrison School District 2 alleging that Superintendent Mike Miles wrote a letter asking businesses not to advertise in the African American Voice.
“ 'If your organization advertises in his paper, you are either wittingly or inadvertently sending a message of support for the paper’s extreme views and incivility,' Miles wrote in a letter on Harrison School District [stationery] dated Nov. 2. The letter appeared on the publicly-financed school district website.
" 'I ask that you take a stand and pull your advertisement from the paper,' Miles wrote in the letter saying that 'a quick look through a few editions of the Voice will make apparent the use of personal attacks and the fomenting of racism.' "
"The countdown has begun. In just three weeks one of television’s biggest experiments will launch," Jenna Goudreau wrote last week for Forbes Woman.
"The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), a joint venture between the media mogul and Discovery Communications, will hang its fate on the appeal of the world’s most recognizable woman. But behind the scenes, another female leader is busy laying the foundation for Oprah’s next favorite thing.
"TV veteran Christina Norman, chief executive of OWN since February of 2009, is charged with overseeing all business and creative areas of the cable channel and website. Norman previously spent 17 years at MTV, climbing from a freelance production manager to president of the network. The hard work and spotless record took its toll, however, causing an exhausted Norman to initially take herself out of the running for the OWN job. But after a few months of rest, she realized it was an opportunity she couldn’t walk away from.
"The Winfrey-Norman duo took off, creating a rare but incredible pairing: Two African-American, female leaders who single-handedly scaled mountains in the television industry. Now their success depends on each other.
"Norman came into our studios recently to film a video with Moira Forbes. She shared her anxieties about that first interview, her struggle to create a cohesive culture at OWN, and her hopes for the network’s future."
"Most Americans following news about the WikiLeaks website’s release of a huge trove of classified documents about U.S. diplomatic relations see the revelations — which have received extensive media coverage — doing more harm than good," the Pew Research Center reported last week.
"Six-in-ten (60%) of those paying attention to the story say they believe the release of thousands of secret State Department communications harms the public interest. About half that number (31%) say the release serves the public interest, according to the latest News Interest Index survey conducted Dec. 2-5 among 1,003 adults.
"Yet the public makes a distinction between WikiLeaks itself and the press’ handling of the document release. While nearly four-in-ten (38%) of this group say news organizations have gone too far in reporting the confidential material, a comparable number (39%) say the media has struck the right balance. Just 14% say news organizations have held back too much of the classified material.
"In August, the public was more divided about the impact of the release by WikiLeaks of thousands of classified documents about the war in Afghanistan. At that point, 47% of those who had heard at least a little about the story said the release harmed the public interest, while 42% said it served the public interest."
Michael Calderone, Yahoo News: If Assange is charged with espionage, what about news orgs?
Jalal Ghazi, New America Media: Arab Media Wonders: Where Are the WikiLeaks Cables Critical of Israel?
Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News: Hero or terrorist, the Assange effect represents a real grassroots Internet rebellion
Mathew Ingram, gigaom.com: Is WikiLeaks the Beginning of a New Form of Media?
Wadah Khanfar, the Guardian, England: They bombed al-Jazeera's reporters. Now the US is after our integrity
Three New Orleans police officers were found guilty in connection with the death of Henry Glover in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Plus, blacks and Hispanics outpace whites in use of Twitter.
"A federal jury tonight convicted three current or former New Orleans police officers in connection with the death of Henry Glover, a 31-year old man who was shot by a police officer and died in custody shortly after Hurricane Katrina tore through Louisiana in 2005," A.C. Thompson wrote Thursday for ProPublica.
"The circumstances of Glover's death were first disclosed more than two years ago in a story published by ProPublica and The Nation magazine. That story prompted a federal civil rights investigation and drew attention to the conduct of the New Orleans Police Department in the chaotic days after Katrina and the subsequent flooding ravaged the city.
"The jury found ex-cop David Warren guilty of shooting Glover, officer Greg McRae guilty of burning Glover's body, and Lt. Travis McCabe guilty of creating a false police report and misleading federal authorities when questioned about the case.
"Two other police officials, Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann and former Lt. Robert Italiano, were acquitted of all charges against them. Scheuermann had been accused of participating in the burning [of] Glover's body and beating the men who sought to rescue him after he was shot. Italiano had been indicted for trying to cover-up the crimes."
Hispanics, Blacks Outstrip Whites in Use of Twitter
Users of Twitter, the social networking system, amount to 6 percent of the adult population, according to Aaron Smith and Lee Rainie of the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
They reported Thursday:
"Young adults: Internet users ages 18-29 are significantly more likely to use Twitter than are older adults.
"African-Americans and Latinos: Minority internet users are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are white Internet users.
"Urbanites: Urban residents are roughly twice as likely to use Twitter as rural dwellers."
The survey found Twitter to be used by 5 percent of white, non-Hispanic Internet users; by 13 percent of black, non-Hispanic Internet users; and by 18 percent of Hispanic Internet users.
Obama Signs Funding Bills for Black, Indian Farmers
"At 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, before a crowd of about 150 lawmakers from both parties, African-American activists and Native American leaders, President Barack Obama brought to a close decades of government-sponsored racial injustice — or at least two chapters in a lengthy book," Cord Jefferson wrote Thursday for theRoot.com.
"Standing in the White House's South Court auditorium, the president signed into law H.R. 4783, otherwise known as the Claims Resolution Act. The act provides billions to fund two separate class-action-lawsuit settlements against the U.S. government: Cobell v. Salazar and Pigford v. Glickman."
Kevin Bogardus, the Hill: Hispanic, female farmers plead for bias claims action
Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Black Farmers Settlement Long Overdue
Jeff Johnson, theGrio.com: Black farmers finally reap rewards of hard-fought battle
DREAM Act Not Dead, Columnist Says
"After the Democrats in the Senate decided yesterday to vote no against a cloture vote on the DREAM Act, several news outlets erroneously reported that the bill was dead," Marisa Treviño wrote Friday on her Latina Lista blog.
"It's not. In fact, it was the smartest move the Democratic leadership could have made. Now, the Senate can just vote on the House DREAM Act bill that was passed rather than try and do the whole process over again in the Senate with a Senate version.
"Surprisingly, learned journalist organizations didn't understand the nuances of this tactic. They should have. Yet, once again in the quest to be first in breaking news, these journalist organizations disregarded the basic tenet of journalism — accuracy. But maybe they can't be fully blamed.
"If ever there was an issue constantly lobbed at with distortions and falsehoods, the DREAM Act bill is one."
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would carve a path to legal status for foreign-born youngsters brought to the United States illegally.
Marcelo Ballvé, New America Media: The DREAM Act — Shrinking Towards Reality
Esther Cepeda, Washington Post Writers Group: How immigration reform gets mired in terminology
Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Common-Sense Outreach
Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Straight Talk on Immigration
Edward Schumacher-Matos, Washington Post: The GOP's imagined Latino base
Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: GOP turns its back on patriotic and productive illegal immigrants
Sandip Roy, New America Media: Don't Ask, Don't Dream
FOX to Staff: Don't Use 'Public Option' Term
"As the health-care debate was heating up in the summer of 2009, Republican pollster Frank Luntz offered Sean Hannity some advice," Howard Kurtz reported Friday for the Daily Beast.
"Luntz, who counseled the GOP on how to sell the 1994 Contract With America, told the Fox News host to stop using President Obama’s preferred term for a key provision.
" 'If you call it a public option, the American people are split,' he explained. 'If you call it the government option, the public is overwhelmingly against it.'
" 'A great point,' Hannity declared. 'And from now on, I'm going to call it the government option, because that's what it is.'
"On Oct. 27, the day after Senate Democrats introduced a bill with a public insurance option from which states could opt out, Bill Sammon, a Fox News vice president and Washington managing editor, sent the staff a memo. Sammon is a former Washington Times reporter.
" 'Please use the term "government-run health insurance," or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible,' the memo said."
Joel Meares, Columbia Journalism Review: A "Public Option" By Any Other Name…
When Barack Obama said that the public didn't want to keep the Bush tax cuts, he was on the money.
In explaining Tuesday why he made a deal with Republicans on tax cuts that includes cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which he opposes, President Obama said at his news conference, "This is not a situation in which I have failed to persuade the American people of the rightness of our position." The Pew Research Center confirms that on that, at least, Obama was right.
Pew reported on Tuesday, "In a survey conducted before Obama and GOP leaders agreed to temporarily extend all Bush-era tax cuts, most Americans (80%) favor preserving at least some of the tax cuts. However, just a third (33%) of Americans say they favor keeping all of the expiring tax cuts; 47% favor keeping just the tax cuts for income below $250,000, while just 11% want to end all of the tax cuts.
"Only about one-in-five Democrats (18%) favor keeping all of the tax cuts, compared with 33% of independents and 53% of Republicans.
Pew also said: "The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 1-5 among 1,500 adults, finds that 45% approve of Obama’s job performance while about as many (43%) disapprove. Obama’s job ratings have changed little since September.
"Obama’s job approval ratings among Democrats remain strong (77% approve), and there is little evidence that Democrats think he is going along too much with GOP leaders in Congress. Only about [a] quarter of Democrats (23%) say he is going along too much, while about twice as many (48%) say he is going along the right amount.
"However, Obama gets mixed ratings from Democrats and Democratic leaners for how well he stands up for his party’s traditional positions on such issues as protecting the interests of minorities, helping the poor and needy and representing working people. Only about half of Democrats and Democratic leaners (54%) say Obama is doing an excellent or good job of advocating the party’s traditional positions, while 43% say he is doing only fair or poor. White Democrats and Democratic leaners are divided over Obama’s performance in standing up for the party’s traditional positions in these areas (51% excellent/good vs. 47% only fair/poor). By contrast, black Democrats and leaners offer much more positive assessments (70% vs. 29%)."
In the words of David Kocieniewski of the New York Times, "The deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for two years includes a bevy of additional credits and deductions that will reduce the burden on nearly all households.
"But the tax benefits will flow most heavily to the highest earners, just as the original cuts did when they were passed in 2001 and 2003. At least a quarter of the tax savings will go to the wealthiest 1 percent of the population."
Obama said at his news conference, "We weren’t operating from a position of political weakness with respect to public opinion. The problem is that Republicans feel that this is the single most important thing that they have to fight for as a party. And in light of that, it was going to be a protracted battle and they would have a stronger position next year than they do currently."
Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: You Don't Have Rahm to Kick Around Anymore
Joe Davidson, Washington Post: Obama still getting push back on pay freeze for federal workers
Sam Fulwood III, Center for American Progress: Can’t We Care for Those Who Need Help the Most?
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: When will Obama go 'gangster'?
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Obama Dementia: Here's hoping the fever breaks soon
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Ben Bernanke, a one-man fire brigade
Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: What happens to workers when jobs leave for good?
Tony Harris, who anchors the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (ET) edition of "CNN Newsroom" each weekday, is leaving the network, CNN confirmed Wednesday. Spokeswoman Christal Jones would not elaborate.
Harris was on vacation. "I've got some time off starting Monday," he wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday. TV Newser said Tuesday it had learned that Harris was leaving CNN.
Harris was one of four anchors — Heidi Collins, Kyra Phillips and Don Lemon were the others — tapped for "CNN Newsroom" in 2006. Harris joined CNN/U.S. as a weekend news anchor in September 2004. Before his arrival there, Harris was an anchor for WGCL-46 in Atlanta, where he anchored the station’s evening newscasts, according to his bio.
It's official: black journalists are definitely not "in the tank" for the president.
Remember when black journalists were accused of being "in the tank" for Barack Obama? If it wasn't true during the presidential campaign, and was a misreading after the inauguration, it's certainly not valid two years into his presidency.
The black left was never really there to begin with. Glen Ford of blackagendareport.com has been consistent, writing last week: "Only fools should feel sorry for Obama as he prepares for a Republican-led House and weakened Democratic control of the Senate. This is Obama’s 'comfort zone,' where he can continue to woo Republicans to join his grand center-right coalition. The only people Obama has no tolerance for are liberalish Democrats, who will emerge relatively stronger in the new Congress thanks to the decimation of Obama’s Republican-Lite friends in conservative Democratic ranks. By freezing federal wages, Obama signals that he has no philosophical problems with the GOP’s general aims."
In 2007, Laura Washington, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, raised the question of whether Obama was "black enough." If she ever resolved that question, it wasn't evident on Monday. She wrote in the Sun-Times, "Is it time for President Obama to 'go black' on his opponents? Time to put his hand on his hips, and let it rip? That’s what I am hearing from liberal friends and political activists. Get some backbone, Mr. President. Don’t let the Republicans push you around. Get mad, then get even."
The phrase "man up" is gaining currency.
While not a journalist, Clarence B. Jones has a piece on the Huffington Post under the headline, "Time to Think the Unthinkable: A Democratic Primary Challenge To Obama's Reelection."
Jones is scholar in residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. He said he was motivated by listening carefully to Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in The Wind": "How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?" Ouch.
The most recent cause for disappointment is Obama's willingness to make a deal with congressional Republicans to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels for two years, even though Democrats still control the White House and both houses of Congress. Obama announced an agreement with Republicans Monday night to extend expiring tax cuts for all Americans, renew jobless benefits and grant a one-year reduction in Social Security taxes for millions, as Jim Kuhnhenn and David Espo reported for the Associated Press.
"Obama said there were elements of the deal he personally opposed, including an extension of expiring income tax cuts at upper income levels and a more generous deal on estates. But he said he decided that an agreement with Republicans was more important that a stalemate that would have resulted in higher income taxes at all income levels on Jan. 1," they wrote.
During the negotiations, some argued that Obama had no choice but to accede to the Republicans. But not everyone bought that argument.
"Those desperate to decipher the baffling Obama presidency could do worse than consult an article titled 'Understanding Stockholm Syndrome' in the online archive of The F.B.I. Law Enforcement Bulletin," columnist Frank Rich wrote Sunday in a hard-hitting New York Times piece. "It explains that hostage takers are most successful at winning a victim’s loyalty if they temper their brutality with a bogus show of kindness. Soon enough, the hostage will start concentrating on his captors’ 'good side' and develop psychological characteristics to please them — 'dependency; lack of initiative; and an inability to act, decide or think.' "
Rich isn't black. The Washington Post's Courtland Milloy Jr. is, however, as he underscored recently with controversial columns about Adrian Fenty's defeat for re-election as mayor of the District of Columbia and about the Tyler Perry movie "For Colored Girls."
"Much of this criticism against Obama has to do with his resolve, not his race," Milloy wrote last week. "But I see the president as a black man first. It's a pride thing. Obama's victory wasn't just about his progressive platform. It was a historic, racial barrier-busting victory that was supposed to make it just a little easier for black boys to imagine being president.
"But Obama is proving himself to be a most peculiar commander in chief. Maybe another black boy will someday grow up to become president, but if he turns out to be like Obama, it'll be hard to call him a black man."
Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: GOP Will Wait for Dems To Buckle on Tax Cuts
Lenny McAllister, theRoot.com: Obama Should Call the GOP's Bluff on Taxes
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Tax cut fight highlights Democrats' missing convictions
Jamal Simmons, theRoot.com: How Obama Can Win Again
Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: OMG! What if the wealthy have to pay more . . .
The Society of Professional Journalists’ national president Monday urged the Associated Press "to do all in its power to maintain its prestigious paid internship program as it looks for ways to make significant cuts in its operating budget."
Hagit Limor, an investigative reporter at WCPO-TV in Cincinnati who is SPJ president, said AP officials last week confirmed they were considering dropping their internship program as part of an overall restructuring that "AP chief executive officer Tom Curley called a 'business transformation.' A final decision is expected this month," the news release said.
"We got our information from AP staffers familiar with budget proceedings," Limor told Journal-isms.
The internship program, begun in 1984 to train journalists of color, has produced successful professionals inside and outside of the AP. The interns are paid salaries on News Media Guild scale.
SPJ's release continued, "Too often in recent years, we have seen news organizations slash their talent development programs as they move to cut costs. This may prove to be a short-sighted approach to charting the future of a company or industry, as experience has shown internship programs are essential investments in helping identify and train top talent for future roles in our business."
The Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association have urged AP's CEO, Tom Curley, to keep the program, and the National Association of Black Journalists has also been talking to senior staff members at the AP, according to Deirdre Childress, NABJ's vice president/print.
"The fate of their internships is tied to the 2011 budget scheduled to be completed this week," Childress said. "NABJ is lobbying for the program to be sustained but knows some reductions are on the table."
NABJ President Kathy Y. Times, who with Childress held a conference call with the AP's human resources manager on Thursday, said, "I'm optimistic the program will survive, even if it means cutting some slots."
As reported two weeks ago, Curley responded to a four-paragraph appeal from Rhonda LeValdo, president of NAJA, with a single sentence, "Rhonda, We simply must focus resources, especially staff time, in 2011 on getting projects accomplished."
Barbara Ciara, president of Unity: Journalists of Color, said she remains hopeful. "I am reaching out to AP insiders who have an interest in saving the program," she told Journal-isms on Monday.
"It's my hope that we can come up with a proposal that will convince the CEO to reconsider his position on ending such a valuable training tool. In the interest of future journalism, AP needs to rethink this ill-conceived business decision. In our view, it's bad business for the Associated Press not to invest in growing future journalists."
Reading the Fishbowl blogs about the media — there are three of them, for New York, Washington and Los Angeles, all produced by the MediaBistro organization — one sometimes gets the impression that media people of color exist merely as window dressing. They rarely do anything collectively on their own.
The Washington City Paper's latest cover story is about Betsy Rothstein, editor of the D.C. operation. "With Fishbowl DC and Betsy Rothstein, the Beltway's media culture gets the gossip column it deserves," its headline says, over a story by Moe Tkacik.
Inside is a two-page layout of "The Fishbowl DC Cast of Characters." In a majority-black city, all 22 are white.
"Factually yes, that's correct. All the 'Boy Banders' are White," Rothstein e-mailed Journal-isms, referring to Generation-Y pundits who make up one of the categories in City Paper's Fishbowl cast of characters.
But, Rothstein added, "Quick Google and Nexis searches will reveal that I have written about a number of black journalists as well as black lawmakers in the course of my writing career here in Washington.
"Among my beats for my former employer, The Hill, early on was Caucuses, and I covered the Congressional Black Caucus extensively. On FishbowlDC I have written about the D.C. blogger, The Black Snob, as well as WaPo's Courtland Milloy, NYT's Helene Cooper, WaPo’s Jonathan Capehart, Washington Watch’s Roland Martin, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux and [the Washington Post's] J. Freedom du Lac, some of whom are among my regulars that I quote and write about.
"Other black journalists we’ve written about include former Politics Daily writer and Bitch is the New Black Author Helena Andrews, Geoff Bennett, Clinton Yates and Beth Perry. Last year I won an award from the Society of Professional Journalists on a story I wrote about Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and what he was going through in his political scandal.
"I cannot help the way the Washington City Paper portrayed our coverage as I was not a part of those editorial decisions. I also don't think it's necessarily a compliment to be a part of a Boy Band or to have been categorized in any of those categories on WCP. So a suggestion that we don't cover minorities because of City Paper's picks who didn't get picked on or called out is just wrong. We clearly do have a diverse array of journalists we cover on FishbowlDC. Apart from black journalists, Asian journalists who we cover regularly include CBS's Kaylee Hartung, Ed Chen (former head of WHCA [the White House Correspondents Association]), Time's Jay Newton-Small, Christina Sevilla, Pamela Sorensen, WaPo's Ylan Mui."
She added that she had forgotten that "Gwen Ifill, Donna Brazile and Michael Wilbon are all black journalists who we cover regularly. And Juan Williams — we cover and have covered him extensively."
Michael Schaffer, editor of the City Paper, which coincidentally has also been viewed as edited with a white audience in mind, replied by e-mail:
"Our reporter read every Fishbowl post of Betsy's that had appeared in the year she'd been writing Fishbowl. She picked the names that in her opinion represent the folks who pop up either most frequently or most dramatically in that space, often on the receiving end of Betsy's teasing. That's not to say they are the only people covered, by any means. I don't think there's any implication that this was a scientifically selected gallery of the media types who appear in Fishbowl."
Members of the National Association of Black Journalists are joining "an unprecedented gathering of black artists, writers, filmmakers, academics, scientists, and other leaders" who are convening in Senegal Friday for the World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures.
"A high-powered U.S. delegation of more than 200 African-American leaders will attend the Festival, including groups from the National Conference of Black Mayors, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. In all, thousands of delegates from 80 countries will converge on Dakar," an announcement said.
The festival is being billed as only the third such event in 50 years. It continues through Dec. 31.
The delegation is led by Djibril Diallo, coordinator of the U.S. Committee for the World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures, senior adviser to the executive director of UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) and a longtime NABJ member. Among other NABJ members in the delegation are Vice President/Print Deirdre M. Childress; photojournalist Kimberly P. Mitchell and columnist Rochelle Riley, both of the Detroit Free Press; Ebony magazine Senior Editor Adrienne Samuels Gibbs; Curtis Simmons, representing the New York Amsterdam News and the National Newspaper Publishers Association; and Miami Herald World Editor John Yearwood, co-chairman of the NABJ World Affairs Task Force.
Childress said no NABJ funds were being used for the project.
The trip is to "build on the work of President Kathy Times and other NABJ leaders during previous visits to Senegal and elsewhere in Africa. A roundtable will be held with Babacar Diagne, Director-General of Senegalese Radio and Television, and other journalists who will discuss how NABJ could work with African media to foster opportunities on the continent for the organization's members."
How little some things change. In an October 1996 piece for the late Emerge magazine, "Targets for Scrutiny," preserved in the book "The Best of Emerge," Joe Davidson quoted Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
"The African-American community is angered in two ways," Henderson said. "First, they are angry at the political and law enforcement establishment, which has at least in some instances clearly targeted unfairly African-American politicians for close scrutiny. On the other hand, the community is also angered by those politicians who use the excuse of unfair targeting to justify what is clearly unacceptable, often illegal, behavior. And reconciling that dilemma is the challenge that faces the next generation of politicians."
The subject then was the number of African American politicians facing criminal charges, the piece focusing particularly on Rep. Mel Reynolds, D-Ill., who was found guilty of seducing a 16-year-old campaign volunteer.
The House censure last week of Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., was not for any criminal offense, coupling that with accusations leveled at Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., some had noted that a disproportionate number of black politicians seemed headed for the dock.
Rangel appeared Sunday on CBS-TV's "Face the Nation" and Monday on the syndicated Tom Joyner radio show (audio) in an attempt at damage control.
But the case and its political fallout was not all that journalists wrote about Rangel. In the Washington Post on Sunday, Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion columnist Robin Givhan discussed the broader implications of the sartorial choices of the New York congressman, who is 80, and of African American men in general.
"There was a moment in August when Rangel stood in the House well and addressed his colleagues in a manner that was both defiant and urgent," Givhan wrote. "But as he stood there in his dark suit and white shirt, something was wrong. His tie was crooked; his hair a little mussed. Rangel, by no means, looked disheveled. But for a man whose attire is always such a carefully moderated blend of tradition and showmanship, control and daring, it was a telling lapse.
"His words focused on his determination to fight the ethics charges, on his refusal to be pushed out. But his clothes suggested that he'd already lost control of his personal narrative."
Betty Winston Bayé, Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: Despite his troubles, Rangel's people still love him
Joel Dreyfuss, theRoot.com: Sorry, Charlie, It's Time for a Change
Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds, Trice Edney News Wire: Rules of the Political Game: Black Politicians Are Not Created Equal
Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Nancy Pelosi’s high ethical standards
"ESPN has launched the first phase of a dedicated digital initiative covering women's sports," Multichannel News reported on Monday.
"In what the programmer describes as the 1.0 version, [ESPNW.com], aiming at fans and athletes 18+, bowed today in blog format. The site, supported by a Twitter and Facebook presence, will incorporate posts by top female sports columnists and bloggers, pro athletes, expert contributors and news from a variety of ESPN and non-ESPN news outlets. The launch serves as a precursor to a more robust Web site with mobile applications and personalized content, slated to bow next spring. . . .
"Contributors such as Adena Andrews (formerly NBA.com), Melissa Jacobs (TheFootballGirl.com), Jane McManus (ESPNNewYork.com), Amanda Rykoff (OCDChick.com) and Sarah Spain (ESPNChicago.com) will write daily posts offering insight on the day's biggest sports stories across the entire sports landscape — encompassing men's and women's sports. Guest contributors such as Val Ackerman, Gretchen Bleiler, Tamika Catchings, Julie Foudy, Jessica Mendoza, Summer Sanders and Diana Taurasi will weigh in on a variety of issues as will ESPN's own Michelle Beadle, Sage Steele, Wendi Nix and Hannah Storm. Special posts will be made throughout the year by Jemele Hill."
Laura Gentile, vice president of espnW and ESPN RISE, is directing the site and its accompanying ventures.
Ebony magazine Monday called attention to "the doers and influencers in 13 various disciplines within our community on our annual Ebony Power 100 List," which counts media among the categories.
"We’ve approached things differently this year by reaching out to last year’s candidates and asking for peer recommendations.
"Of course the lists were endless, so our editors devised a formula to assist with the final selection that ranged from the number of Google hits to annual company revenue," an announcement said. "Some of finalists are a given but there are a few surprises, especially with our 'Who’s Got Next' list of emerging leaders."
The media figures are Cathy Hughes, CEO and founder of Radio One; Debra Lee, chairman and CEO, BET Networks; Johnathan Rodgers, president and CEO, TV One; Tom Joyner, radio host; David Drummond, senior vice president and chief legal officer, Google; Christina Norman, CEO, the Oprah Winfrey Network; Necole Bitchie, "Hip-hop Celebrity News Blogger"; Essie Chambers, senior vice president programming at Centric, the BET channel; and Traci Lynn Blackwell, vice president, current programs, the CW Network.
Emerging leaders were Alynda Wheat, "media critic" who reviews films for People magazine; Evan Narcisse, who "covers comic books, pop culture and video games for a wide range of publications," and Erica Kennedy, a novelist who "now has one of the fiercest Twitter followings out there."
Some headlines miss the racial stereotype in the story of a white man robbing a bank in Ohio. Plus: Eugene Robinson named to the Pulitzer Board.
We all know that black men have been so identified with crime in the public mind that white perpetrators have successfully cried "the black man did it" and sent authorities looking for African American suspects.
But a case from Cincinnati has them topped.
"A white man who pleaded guilty to six robberies in Ohio used a black mask so lifelike that police initially arrested a black man for one of the crimes, authorities said Tuesday," Lisa Cornwell reported for the Associated Press.
"The mother of the wrongly accused man even thought a photo of the robbery suspect she saw on television was a photo of her son, the Hamilton County prosecutor's office and the attorney for the white defendant said.
"Conrad Zdzierak, 30, pleaded guilty Monday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to one count of aggravated robbery and five counts of robbery in a plea deal with prosecutors. He faces up to 35 years in prison at his Jan. 7 sentencing."
Despite the historical and stereotypical baggage Zdzierak's racial impersonation conjures, some headline writers managed to leave that out of their handiwork.
The online edition of Britain's Daily Mail got it. "The white robber who carried out six raids disguised as a black man (and very nearly got away with it)," it headlined.
In the Cincinnati Enquirer, it was "White man who wore black mask admits to string of bank robberies."
But an Associated Press headline, picked up on the largest number of news websites, was deracinated: "Police fooled by lifelike mask in Ohio robberies."
Journal-isms asked the news organizations why they made their decisions. "I think it was necessary to matter of factly state the mask caused the police to look for a black suspect," said Enquirer Editor Tom Callinan, who taught in the Maynard Institute's Summer Institute for Journalism Education in the 1980s. "Not sure how race would enter into it beyond that. If the robber would have successfully appeared to be a woman, they would presumably have been looking for a woman. But I look forward to your post and ensuing discussions."
Ellen Hale, vice president/corporate communications at the AP, explained by e-mail:
"Each story we send out has two headlines: a short headline and a long one, because headline length needs vary with customers. Our short headline is limited to 50 characters. Because of the limited character count, it was difficult to get the concept across in the short headline, which is the one you are asking [about]. The longer headline in all three versions of the story said 'White man's lifelike black mask in Ohio robberies fooled police.' "
Below whichever headline they saw, readers found quite a tale.
Kimball Perry reported in the Enquirer:
"Zdzierak admitted to the March 5 robbery of Chaco Credit Union and to five April 9 robberies within 3½ hours — Franklin Savings, a CVS pharmacy, Fifth Third Bank branch and two Key Bank branches. He stole about $15,000 in those robberies.
"Each time, witnesses reported they were robbed by a black man and video showed what appeared to be a black man committing the robberies.
"Zdzierak, though, was using a professional-grade mask — like those used in movies — to hide his white skin and true identity.
"The mask was so convincing," Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said Monday, "that a black man was arrested for one of Zdzierak’s robberies. That man’s mother, when police arrived at her house, told police she knew why they were there because she’d just seen a television broadcast of the suspect and believed it was her son. Instead, it was Zdzierak wearing the mask, which retails for about $700.
"Zdzierak was found out when his girlfriend, staying with him in a Springdale hotel, saw reports of the robberies moments before she went into the bathroom and saw two masks and, in the sink, money that was stained with dye used by banks to try to foil robberies. She called police."
Associating black men with crime has an unfortunate media history. Just last May, Kevin Ferris wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer about "City Police Sgt. Robert Ralston, who, on April 5, for unknown reasons, shot himself in the shoulder and blamed a black man with 'cornrows.' Police doubted his story from the start, but we didn't get the truth until Ralston was promised immunity from prosecution."
University of Florida law professor Katheryn Russell-Brown, author of "The Color of Crime," documented 92 such incidents between 1987 and 2006. "But she said the overwhelming majority of the time — 67 percent, to be exact — it is the other way around: white liars blaming black men for things that did not happen," syndicated Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts wrote last year.
(In a role reversal, police in Fairfax County, Va., said this week they were searching for a black man in his 30s who they say robbed a bank dressed as an elderly Caucasian man, according to the Fairfax Times.)
As far back as 1995, studies were showing that "Minorities and people of color get on TV mostly when they have done something wrong," according to a survey of evening news programs on 50 television stations in 29 markets by the Rocky Mountain Media Watch.
Another study then from the Annenberg School for Communication, looking at Philadelphia television stations, noted that there were four times as many black victims of homicide in 1993 as white victims, yet two stations showed white people more often victims of violence than people of color.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the Annenberg School, told Journal-isms she did not know of any subsequent studies of how race plays out on television news crime stories.
Perhaps the story of Zdzierak and his mask will change that.
Jesse Washington, Associated Press: Another 'Black Man Did It' Hoax Sparks Outrage (June 2)
Columnist Eugene Robinson Named to Pulitzer Board
"Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and associate editor at The Washington Post, has been elected to the Pulitzer Prize Board, Columbia University announced today," the Pulitzer board announced on Thursday.
"A 30-year veteran of the Post, Robinson launched his twice-weekly column on the paper’s op-ed page in February 2005, and within a year it was syndicated to more than 130 newspapers — making it the fastest-growing column in the history of the Washington Post Writers Group.
"In 2009, he won The Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his columns about the 2008 presidential campaign and the election of President Barack Obama."
The Pulitzer Board is the final arbiter of the winners of the Pulitzer Prizes, sometimes overruling the recommendation of the Pulitzer juries.
Others of color who have served are, with their titles at the time:
Greg Moore, editor of the Denver Post, a current member; Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard University; Jay T. Harris, director of the Center for the Study of Journalism and Democracy at the Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California; John L. Dotson Jr., president and publisher, Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal; Danielle Allen, professor in the University of Chicago's departments of the classics and political science; the late Marilyn Yarbrough, associate provost and professor of law, University of North Carolina; novelist Junot Diaz; William Raspberry, Washington Post columnist; Roger Wilkins, senior fellow, the Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, and former editorial writer at the New York Times and Washington Post; and the late Robert C. Maynard, editor and publisher, the Tribune, Oakland, Calif.
With his election to the board in May, Diaz is believed to have become the first Latino on the board.