NY's disgraced former governor to take the anchor chair; meanwhile, mainstream cable TV news has no anchors of color in prime time.
Two days after CNN hired disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer to co-host a new prime-time program, the National Association of Black Journalists Friday blasted the cable news networks for their failure to place African American hosts in such prime-time slots.
"The company missed another opportunity to place a person of color in prime time," NABJ said in a statement. "It just seems that cable news can never find diverse candidates who are good enough to meet their standards. We want to know your standards.
"Are you telling us that CNN could find no one better than an ex-politician who quit being New York governor after consorting with prostitutes to grace America’s living rooms each night?
"CNN does have Tony Harris anchoring in the morning, and [Fredricka] Whitfield, T.J. Holmes, and Don Lemon on the weekends. But that’s not prime time. The same can be said about MSNBC which last week named veteran Lawrence O’Donnell as the anchor of its new 10 p.m. show."
CNN announced Wednesday that Spitzer and Kathleen Parker, a white conservative columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group, "will co-host a spirited, nightly roundtable discussion program on CNN/U.S.," filling the 8 p.m. Eastern slot to be vacated by Campbell Brown.
The CNN announcement prompted a story Thursday by Rachel Sklar in the online magazine the Daily Beast, "The Unbearable Whiteness of Cable."
"CNN just announced two new hosts for the 8 p.m. prime time hour recently vacated by Campbell Brown: Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker," Sklar began. "Last week, MSNBC announced that the new host for its 10 p.m. prime time show would be network staple Lawrence O’Donnell. What do these three people have in common (and thankfully for O’Donnell and Parker, it’s not being caught with your socks down with a prostitute)? Pretty obvious: They’re white.
"They’re white like Chris Matthews is white, like Bill O’Reilly is white and Keith Olbermann is white, like Wolf Blitzer is white and Megyn Kelly is white and John King is white and Ed Schultz, Greta Van Susteren, Jake Tapper, Joe Scarborough, Bob Schieffer, David Gregory, Chris Wallace, Rachel Maddow, and Dylan Ratigan are white, not unlike the lion’s share of their guests."
The Daily Beast piece is not without its own irony: The Daily Beast has so far refused to disclose the diversity of its own staff, which appears to be almost as white as the prime-time lineups the piece criticizes. Daily Beast spokesman Andrew Kirk dodged the question again when Journal-isms asked about the site's diversity on Friday.
Journal-isms asked the three cable news networks for their response to Sklar's article. Fox News Channel did not respond. MSNBC's Alana Russo said, "We don't have any comment on Rachel's piece."
CNN said through a spokeswoman:
"CNN has incorporated diversity into all aspects of its coverage, including on-air talent and those behind the scenes. From our correspondents at the White House, on Capitol Hill, and at the Pentagon; to CNN Newsroom to our Sunday morning programming with Candy Crowley and Fareed Zakaria, CNN's programming reflects our commitment to diversity. Like all our shows, the new 8 pm program will have a rotating panel of diverse guests.
"In addition, the network's commitment is demonstrated by this year's investment in a fully resourced production team, CNN's IN AMERICA unit, that is building upon our long-term record of success in covering communities of color and diversity in terms of culture and perspectives."
NABJ gave CNN its "Best Practices" award during its 2007 convention in Las Vegas. This year the award is going to MSNBC's siblings, NBC News and NBC's local TV stations.
David Bauder of the Associated Press quoted CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein on Thursday:
"Klein said CNN had considered scores of different personalities for the time slot but Spitzer and Parker stood out as iconoclasts. CNN arranged a meeting between the two about three weeks ago and was impressed by 'an organic chemistry' between them, he said.
In an interview published Wednesday with Dylan Stableford of theWrap.com, Klein said of Spitzer:
"I think any baggage any viewers have about him will be washed away when they see the show. It’s going to be intelligent conversation between two adults, both of whom are free of vested interests, beholden to no one. They are renowned for it."
In its statement, NABJ quoted CBS anchor Russ Mitchell speaking in Ebony magazine. "Mitchell told Ebony 'I've been to journalism conferences over and over again, and heard some executive say "I'd like to hire more African-Americans, but I just can't find any qualified ones out there." That was b.s. then, and that's b.s. now.' NABJ couldn’t agree more."
*Editorial, Journal-News, White Plains, N.Y.: Spitzer undeserving of CNN show
*Editorial, Syracuse (N.Y.) Post-Standard: Is Spitzer ready for prime time?
Black women were told they couldn't wear braids, cornrows or locs.
It was near the end of the "Blogging While Brown" conference on Saturday when a woman in the Air Force stepped to the microphone to tell the group that she blogged about natural hair and that there were "so many restrictions" on it in the military. If you have "relaxed" hair, she said, a new rule says one can't have two inches of new growth showing.
Black women were told they couldn't wear braids, cornrows or locs. "It's like singling us out," she said.
"I'm here because I don't know what to do."
Given that it was a conference of bloggers and the room was equipped for wireless, the twitterverse lit up.
"Makes me wonder what other indignities black military endure but does not complain about? #bwb," read one tweet, using the "bwb" "hashtag" for the conference.
Another wrote, "So apparently, the military has banned women from having more than 2 inches of new growth. The whole room just went 'WTF?!?' #bwb"
The founder and executive director of the conference committee, Gina McCauley, was reassuring. "You're not alone. You have a sisterhood of bloggers," she told the military woman. McCauley also gave out the Web address of a site with information on how to blog anonymously.
The Air Force attendee — who was wearing civilian clothes — was in the right place. The 206 official registrants for the third annual Blogging While Brown conference, held at Washington's Walter E. Washington Convention Center, were mostly other women, mostly black, less interested in looking like the latest hair-weaved video star than concerned about making a difference.
"To see so many women with natural hair here," marveled Patrice Yursik of the blog Afrobella, which is devoted to the topic. "Not to mention natural hair blogs. There seems to be an explosion of that." Sitting next to Baratunde Thurston of jackandjillpolitics.com (and formerly of the Onion, the satirical newspaper and website), and Lola Adesioye of Britain's Guardian, formerly of the New York Times and CNN, Yursik announced that as of July 1 she was launching a broadcast counterpart, Afrobella Radio.
That was just one panel. Also represented were blogs such as Racialicious and blackWeb2.0, Scott Hanselman of "Ways to Make Your Blog Suck Less," Facebook, Comcast, Afronetizen, the Federal Trade Commission and former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, among others. They served up expertise and inspiration. "Don't let your job interfere with your career," a quote from panelist Anil Dash, was a popular retweet.
McCauley reminded the audience that it was the black blogosphere that helped keep alive indignation about the racially charged beatings in Jena, La., in 2007, until the issue became a cause and caught the attention of the mainstream media.
One panel followed up that thought with lesser examples of black-blogger activism: Creating an AIDS-awareness campaign called the Red Pump Project, whose ideas were picked up by the Centers for Disease Control; monitoring a Hollywood that rewrote Asian, black or brown characters into white ones; or conversely, raising the idea that the next screen Spiderman did not have to be white.
In the eyes of McCauley, an Austin, Texas, lawyer, African Americans who blog don't get enough respect. She showed a clip of a blogger being honored by Rush Limbaugh at February's Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. "When was the last time a blogger got an award from the NAACP or the Urban League, even by an intern?" she asked.
Nevertheless, Curt Johnson of the NAACP, his organization ridiculed by tweet after McCauley's comment, stepped up to the microphone to announce his presence and support. ("i stand corrected - rep from @naacp comms dept is here at #bwb. (tiny digital applause) --> lol, fair enough," tweeted one attendee.)
Corey A. Ealons, who coordinates African American media outreach for the White House, arranged for the crowd to meet in the Executive Office Building Friday with Melody Barnes, head of the Domestic Policy Council, and himself. He told the group that the White House was working on how best to get its message out "so it is easily digestible" on the Web, and that he viewed theirs as an ongoing conversation.
"Social media should be used to get the word *in,*Dash, of Expert Labs and of Indian background, said on another panel. "Sending input to the White House."
J. Jioni Palmer, communications director for the Congressional Black Caucus, did not fare as well. After explaining that he had more than 40 members to represent and thus did not see how he could tweet messages that would satisfy all of them, Palmer was ridiculed: "Comm Dir of Congressional Black Caucus is defending his cluelessness about twitter to crowd of black tweeters - incredible #bwb."
But he delivered some truth-telling: "I've been burned by bloggers more than by traditional reporters," he also said.
Though the day saw little of the us-against-them posturing that once routinely marked bloggers' mentions of the "mainstream media," Palmer's remark pointed out that there are still stark differences in training and background between the two.
On Monday, an Air Force spokeswoman was asked for details about the change in guidelines about black hairstyles.
"For your clarification:" Maj. Cristin L. Marposon, USAF, said in an e-mailed response.
"The Air Force has not issued new guidelines for African American women's hair. The Air Force does not establish appearance guidelines based on an individual's ethnicity."
The woman who raised the issue at the conference stood by her statement, but said the directive against braids and cornrows, proposed about 2005, was never implemented after an uproar. "what i was saying is reality," she wrote to Journal-isms. "A lot of it is at the discretion of your supervisor. If they feel like your hair is 'faddish' or it does not look within regulations then you will be told to change it or face the consequences.
"A lot of the people that are making the decisions don't understand our hair. It's not a fad, it's not something that can be just slicked back and everything is alright depending on our texture."
What will the bloggers do about that?
Blogging While Brown: Blogs Represented at Blogging While Brown 2010
Bobbi Bowman, Maynard Institute: To reach future audience, ONA and minority journalists must unite [October 2009]
Danielle Lee, Urban Science Adventures: Travelogue: Blogging While Brown - recap #1
Scott Hanselman, Computerzen.com: 32 Ways to Keep Your Blog from Sucking
TheRoot.com: Worth Obsessing Over: Our Favorite Blogs
Baratunde Thurston blog: June 18, 2010
Black magazines' ad revenues were hit hard in the first quarter of 2010. But Essence has reported the smallest decline. Are things looking up for the black women's mag?
"Consumer magazine publishers have desperately been trying to scratch a profit from any amount of advertising dollars they can get their hands on, especially since the economic recession last year.
"One group that was hit particularly hard in the marketing pullback was African-American magazines," Jason Fell wrote Thursday for Folio.
According to the Publishers Information Bureau, "Black Enterprise, Ebony, Essence and Jet were down a collective 18 percent in ad pages through the first quarter — about double the industry average. Ad pages slipped 8.2 percent at Black Enterprise while Johnson Publishing’s Ebony and Jet saw dramatic declines of 30.6 percent and 33.1 percent respectively (Johnson points out, however, that Ebony and Jet both published one fewer issue during the quarter compared to last year).
"Time Inc.’s Essence, meanwhile, reported the smallest decline: -0.3 percent. Since then the magazine been taking advantage of the ad rebound, and says ad pages have been on the rise since its March issue. The magazine estimates that ad pages were up 31 percent for May, 14 percent for July and 21 percent so far for August. On the digital side, online ad revenues are up 32 percent during the first half of 2010 . . .
“ 'Beauty, retail, food and pharmaceutical are resilient categories for Essence,' Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications, tells FOLIO: 'In addition, Ford has emerged as a powerful partner, having supported our signature red carpet programs such as ‘Black Women in Music’ and ‘Black Women in Hollywood.'
“'We’re reaching new consumers online and with our live events such as the Essence Music Festival,' Ebanks says. “We have been successful at converting these audiences to subscribers.' "
Lakers' Victory Game Grabs Top NBA Ratings Since '98
"The highly competitive Game 7 of the NBA Finals dunked an 18.2 overnight rating Thursday night, the best performance for an NBA game since 1998 when Michael Jordan was leading the Chicago Bulls over the Utah Jazz," Mike Reynolds reported Friday for Multichannel News.
"The June 17 telecast of Game 7, in which the Los Angeles Lakers edged the Boston Celtics 83-79 to retain their crown and Kobe Bryant was named series MVP, was the highest-rated NBA Finals game ever on ABC, eclipsing the 15.5 overnight mark for Game 5 of the 2004 Finals between the Lakers and Detroit Pistons. (ABC overnight records date back to 2003.)"
The NBA playoffs and then the finals consistently drew high numbers, especially among African Americans. For the week of June 7-13, the Nielsen Co. reported that overall, the games held the top three ratings positions, as they also did among African American and Latino viewers.
But during the week of April 26-May 2, during the playoffs, 11 of the 16 top cable shows watched by African Americans were NBA-related, Nielsen reported. Among Hispanics, only four ranked in the top 16 on English-language cable that week. Turner Network Television carried the playoffs.
Bryan Burwell, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: ‘King’ James hasn’t begun to match Kobe
Terence Moore, AOL Fanhouse: Kobe's the Best Right Now, but Not Ever
Shaun Powell, NBA.com: Hardly pretty, but title No. 16 plenty sweet for Lakers
Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press: Historical perspective needed in NBA's 'best ever' debate [June 20]
Michael Wilbon, Washington Post: On Kobe's legacy
Former police officer David Warren denies claims that he knowingly fired the shot that killed Henry Glover. How much of the story remains untold?
"Former New Orleans police Officer David Warren had claimed not to know if he hit anybody when he fired a shot with an assault rifle four days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall," the New Orleans Times-Picayune editorialized on Monday."Given Mr. Warren's award-winning marksmanship, his claim was never believable," it continued. "Friday federal prosecutors accused the former officer of needlessly killing Henry Glover.
"In announcing the indictments against Mr. Warren Friday, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten also announced indictments against two officers accused of setting Mr. Glover's body on fire and two other officers accused of obstructing the investigation into Mr. Glover's death. One can't read the indictments without feeling outrage over what was done to Mr. Glover."
As the New York Times noted, "The circumstances surrounding Mr. Glover's death were first reported in late 2008 in an article that was a collaboration by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute and the nonprofit investigative news service Pro Publica."
But on Friday, the key member of that collaboration, A.C. Thompson, wrote that the whole story has still not been told.
"When I began investigating the mysterious death of Henry Glover, one of the most notable aspects of the case was the lack of documents," Thompson wrote.
"Here was a New Orleans resident found incinerated in a car just a few hundred feet from a police station in September 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Yet there was no sign that anyone in authority had ever conducted any sort of investigation. The New Orleans Police Department told me in 2008 that they knew absolutely nothing about Glover's demise.
"Today's indictment suggests that was not true. The 11-count indictment accuses police officers of shooting Glover and torching his corpse, physically attacking his brother and another man, and then attempting to conceal it all.
"What's most striking about the charging documents is what they do not address: the extraordinary number of officers in the department who were likely aware of these events as they unfolded. ... Numerous -- possibly dozens -- of other officers were likely present at the site of the alleged beatings."
The indictments are not the only legal action. "Charlene Green, the mother of Glover's child, filed a wrongful death suit this week on behalf of her teenaged son, Henry Glover Jr.," columnist Jarvis deBerry wrote Friday in the Times-Picayune. "The suit follows reporting done by The Times-Picayune and ProPublica, a non-profit newsroom that worked with this newspaper in an investigation of police shootings after Katrina."
And as the New York Times said, "The case is one of at least eight investigations into actions of the New Orleans Police Department being conducted by the federal government.
"Most of the investigations concern events in the chaotic days after the storm. The best known, concerning the shootings of civilians on the Danziger Bridge that left two dead and four wounded, resulted in five guilty pleas from current or former police officers.
"Last month, the Department of Justice announced that it would conduct a full-scale investigation into the patterns and practices of the police force, a step that usually results in a legally binding blueprint for wholesale reform.
"In a sign of just how grim the view of the police force is in New Orleans, the mayor himself formally solicited such a review, citing a need for 'systemic and transformational change.'"
Andrew Langston, 83, Founded Rochester's WDKX
"Andrew A. Langston founded Rochester's only African-American-owned radio station in Rochester in 1974. And from small beginnings, WDKX-FM (103.9) has become a power in the community for discussion and entertainment from a growing audience. Mr. Langston, who was chief executive officer of the station, died Thursday, according to station officials. He was 83," Jeffrey Blackwell wrote Saturday in the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y.
"Shiera Coleman, vice president of broadcast for the Rochester Association of Black Journalists, worked for Langston as an intern and later on-air with the station's morning show.
" 'I had a lot of respect for him - to be able to create this business from the ground up and have it succeed for all these years when a lot of people didn't think that it would succeed,' she said.
"'He overcame all the obstacles, and you know he was just a great man.'"
"WDKX-FM (103.9) went on the air on April 6, 1974, with the initials of Frederick Douglass, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X - African-American leaders revered by Mr. Langston. And in the tradition of his heroes, the station has become a voice for the community and for young people."
The National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters gave Langston its "Pioneer in Broadcasting" award in 1990. Just as his peers did, he complained that ratings services did not count his audience properly and that white advertisers figured they could reach his listeners by buying time on white-owned stations that also played some black music. He told this writer then that WDKX was losing $2 million a year on such audience misreadings.
Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy said, "During times when radio stations were being bought by major corporations, Mr. Langston held on to WDKX, which is now one of the few independently owned radio stations in the country."
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New census data reveal that nearly 49 percent of babies born last year were of color.
"Record levels of births among minorities in the past decade are moving the USA a step closer to a demographic milestone in which no group commands a majority, new Census estimates show," Haya El Nasser reported Friday for USA Today, in the lead story for its weekend edition.
"Minorities accounted for almost 49% of U.S. births in the year ending July 1, 2009, a record high, according to data released Thursday. They make up more than half the population in 317 counties - about 1 in 10 - four states (California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas) and the District of Columbia.
"The USA TODAY Diversity Index shows increases in every state since 2000. The index was created to measure how racially and ethnically diverse the population is. It uses the percentage of each race counted by the Census Bureau - white, black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian - and Hispanic ethnicity to calculate the chance that any two people are from different groups. The scale ranges from 0 (no diversity) to 100.
"The 2009 national index is 52, up from 47 in 2000. That means that the chance of two randomly selected people being different is slightly more than half. In 1980, the index was 34, a 1-in-3 chance.
"The level of diversity varies widely from region to region - from as high as 79 in Hawaii and 68 in California to as low as 10 in Maine and Vermont and 13 in West Virginia.
"Much of the rapid growth in diversity is driven by an influx of young Hispanic immigrants whose birthrates are higher than those of non-Hispanic whites, creating a race and ethnic chasm and a widening age gap. 'There are more than 500 counties which have a majority of minority children,' says Kenneth Johnson, demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute. 'The population is changing to minority from the bottom up.'"
The American Society of News Editors has set a goal of having the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms nationwide equal to the percentage of minorities in the nation's population by 2025. Currently, minorities make up 33 percent of the U.S. population. The percentage of minorities in the most recent newsroom survey was 13.26 percent.
At least three African American journalists - Kevin Blackistone of AOL Fanhouse,Jemele Hill of ESPN andWilliam Rhoden of the New York Times - are in South Africa covering the World Cup, an event expected to be the most watched in television history.
In addition, "Univision... well, they're maximizing the fact they own the exclusive Spanish-language broadcast rights to 'el mundial' in the U.S. There's cross-promotion galore on all their shows and it seems like all of the network's on-air talent is in South Africa," Veronica Villafañe reported on her Media Moves site.
Also in South Africa: "Daniela Rodriguez, an aspiring TV reporter from Houston," who "beat out more than 1,000 other contestant on ESPN Deportes 'Dream Job: The Reporter' reality show last month, winning the opportunity to do on-air reporting on the Mexican World Cup team from South Africa," Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reported from Johannesburg. Rodriguez is an account executive for an advertising agency who entered the competition on a lark in December.
Glen Dickson of Broadcasting & Cable reported that "Cable sports giant ESPN's latest network, ESPN 3D, launched successfully at 9:30 am EST Friday with the stereoscopic 3D broadcast of the 2010 FIFA World Cup match between Mexico and South Africa."
And as reported previously, professor Joe Ritchie of Florida A&M University planned to take six FAMU students to South Africa, meeting six journalism students from Shantou University in China. The two groups are collaborating on multimedia coverage of the Cup and of life in South Africa in general. Their work is being posted atwww.famustu.net/worldcup.
Blackistone used his column from South Africa Wednesday to call for a sports boycott of Israel, though not of individual Israeli athletes.
"The reason South Africa was readmitted to the world's sports arena in the early '90s was because an armed struggle waged by the country's oppressed, coupled with international pressure - like that from those world sporting bodies, and protesters I joined who marched and sported anti-Krugerrand buttons - made apartheid defunct," he wrote.
"South Africa is a shining example of the good sports can do for society. In the wake of widespread international condemnation of Israel's botched commando raid last week that killed nine people on a humanitarian aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip - where Palestinians live under what Nobel-prize winning South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, also on my flight, once said is Israel's apartheid-like thumb - could it not be time for sport to illuminate Israel's deadly occupation of Palestinians?
"Maybe a sports boycott of Israel, where sports are beloved the same as in South Africa, could help foster a round of truly meaningful peace talks between Israel and Palestinians. Maybe such a collective effort could exercise the same leverage on Israel that it did for nearly 30 years with South Africa."
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