Five Latino journalists returned last week from an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel in another bid by an American Jewish group to influence the United States' growing Latino population.
"We welcome to Israel a group of prestigious journalists, publishers and reporters from the U.S. Hispanic Community," proclaimed the New York-based America's Voices in Israel, which chronicled the trip on its Facebook page. "Participants include Jorge Ferraez, Mary Rabago, Lupita Colmenero, Ruben Navarrette [Jr.] & Ruben Keoseyan."
Ferraez and his brother, Raul, are founders of Latino Leaders Magazine; Rabago is anchor for Univision 33 in Phoenix; Colmenero is publisher for El Hispano News and founder of Parents Step Ahead, an educational outreach initiative; Navarrette is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group; and Keoseyan is executive editor of Los Angeles-based La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States.
The trip follows a similar tour by 17 Latino journalists from the United States and Latin America in November, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL was concerned about what it considered an unacceptable level of anti-Semitism among Latinos, particularly new arrivals.
According to Navarrette, America's Voices in Israel was more interested in America's changing demographics. "They see the future of the U.S. is wrapped up in the Latino community," he said.
The Israelis might not have recognized that future, but the columnist said that after 20 briefings in eight days, the Latino journalists decided they would share some information of their own: "In 20 years, 25 percent - one in four Americans - would be Latino; there are five battleground states, in three of five of Latinos will be significant. We're really not on their radar," Navarrette said. "It got back to Bibi," Navarrette said of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, "that we were preaching this message." He was fine with that, the columnist said. Netanyahu was one of many the group met with.
If the Israelis' intent was to impress the journalists, they succeeded.
Keoseyan told Journal-isms by email, "The trip was incredible and much knowledge was gained. I will be using the knowledge obtained as context and information rather than specific coverage."
Rabago said by email, "It was amazing! I don't even know where to start. [Professionally and personally] a once in a life time experience :)"
Navarrette wrote two columns on the trip and engaged his Facebook followers.
One, which ran Monday in the Sacramento Bee, was about racism. "I have to ask: Am I in the Middle East, or the American Southwest?" he wrote.
"You know who I'd like to bring to the United States, where Latino immigrants are often treated like convenient foils, villains and scapegoats? Israeli President Shimon Peres.
"Recently, Peres - who is also a former prime minister - ruffled feathers when he unflinchingly condemned what he called a growing problem with racism in Israel.
"There have been reports of Israelis hurling racist slurs at Ethiopian immigrants and homeowners refusing to rent apartments to them. This sparked large protests in Jerusalem, including a demonstration outside parliament that drew more than 1,000 immigrants and their supporters.
"In response to the complaints and protests, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver made matters worse by clumsily saying that Ethiopian immigrants should be 'thankful' for all that Israel has done for them. This includes efforts by the Israeli government to airlift Ethiopian Jews out of Africa over the last three decades."
Navarrette previewed the other in this Facebook posting: "Not to insult my wonderful hosts, but I now know I can be a provocative pain in the ass on two continents. My colleagues and I had a briefing this evening with one of Israel's top journalists: Aluf Benn, Editor of the daily newspaper, Ha' Aretz. I brought up this interesting story I read in the Jerusalem Post on the flight over, about how desperate some Israelis are to deny citizenship to a group of people who should be entitled to it under law — spouses of Israeli citizens. Sounds familiar?"
The Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Post, among other journalism organizations, maintain that journalists who accept free trips place themselves in a conflict of interest.
Alan Shearer, editorial director/general manager of the Washington Post Writers Group, had this response when asked about acceptance of the trip: "Ruben is self-employed. He asked us about it; we said as long as he discloses it."
Navarrette said that by focusing more and more on local issues, the news industry is less likely today to support such travel. "The end result is you end up not going," he said, as happened to him at the paper that laid him off in 2010, the San Diego Union-Tribune. "If I don't get a trip, I don't get an education. I don't grow, and the column doesn't prosper." Besides, he said, "if you can't sort out the ethical problems in this, you're in the wrong business."
The columnist added that Americans and Israelis are already allies, so little was said during the trip that could change his overall view of Israel. The Israelis were concerned about the details: They provided a 40-minute briefing on the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran.
Navarrette told his Facebook friends on Wednesday, "Remember when some of our less-informed FB friends insisted that I had 'sold out' to Israel by even going on a fact-finding trip sponsored by a US-based group that is pro-Israel?
"Seriously? If that were true, after today's syndicated column on Palestinians and citizenship, and the one on Ethiopian immigrants that preceded it, the poor Israelis would right about now be looking to return the merchandise. (smile)."
* Agence France-Presse: Israeli Ethiopians protest racism
* Greer Fay Cashman, Jerusalem Post: Peres: There is no room for Hitlerism or racism in Israel
"Barry Blitt, the artist responsible for this week's cover, 'The Big Game,' won't be watching the Super Bowl," according to the New Yorker magazine.
" 'I don't follow football at all,' says Blitt. 'I follow hockey — I'm Canadian, so I have to. And the only thing football and hockey have in common is concussions.
"I wish I could use hockey as a satirical metaphor for politics, but no one would let me, and I wouldn't blame them.' "
The edition featuring Blitt's cover went on sale Monday, a day before the Florida primary, in which former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, the leading Republican candidates, have abandoned Ronald Reagan's so-called 11th commandment, "Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican."
Blitt created an uproar during the 2008 presidential campaign with a New Yorker cover that collected, in a caricature, the right-wing stereotypes about then-Sen. Barack Obama amd Michelle Obama. Some did not see the humor.
In October 2008, David Rapp, former editor of Congressional Quarterly, bid $1,800 for a signed copy of that cartoon. It was part of an annual "Cartoons and Cocktails" benefit at the National Press Club for the Young D.C. teen newspaper.
"Newt Gingrich lashed out at the media today during a rally in Pensacola, Fla.," Dylan Byers wrote Monday for Politico, "suggesting that all reporters are in the tank for President Barack Obama:
" 'As your nominee, I will not accept debates in the fall in which the reporters are the moderators,' he said, 'because you don't need to have a second Obama person in the debate.'
"But Janet Brown, a spokesperson with the Commission on Presidential Debates, suggested that reporters are actually best suited to moderate the debates.
" 'The commission's practice since we came into being in 1987 has been to choose moderators based on three criteria,' Brown explained. 'Since these are live, hard news television events, you want moderators who have experience with live, hard news television events and are familiar with the demands of that environment. Number two, who are quite familiar with the positions of the candidates and the campaigns. And number three, who have the skills to facilitate a conversation between leading candidates for the presidency of the United States, which is a high-pressure task.'
" 'It is, generally speaking, hard to find people that do all those things who are not journalists, and particularly TV journalists,' she added."
"Near the end of her Friday night show, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow issued an on-air correction for a mistake made the night before," Craig Silverman wrote Monday on the Poynter Institute website. "It seems that she mentioned a CBS poll about the State of the Union speech that indicated viewers had a very positive reaction to it. The problem: it was a poll of last year's SOTU." Journal-isms was among the many websites that ran the old data and regrets the error. Silverman reports how other sites handled the mistake.
* Arthur S. Brisbane, New York Times: Fact-Gathering Without the Facts
* Esther Cepeda, Chicago Sun-Times: New book shows Obamas holding on to true selves
* Emil Guillermo blog: Obama's Fair or Foul?
* Brooks Jackson, FactCheck.org: Fact check: Gingrich's faulty food-stamp claim
* Douglas C. Lyons, South Florida SunSentinel: Why run against Obama when you can rip the media?
* Jerry Markon and Alice Crites, Washington Post: Paul pursued strategy of publishing controversial newsletters, associates say
* Myriam Marquez, Miami Herald: Newt, Mitt and our next ambassador to the moon
* Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Newt's style will only take him so far
* Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Candidates strike out as Reagan posers
* Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Practicing the politics of racial resentment
* Project for Excellence in Journalism: Romney Surges in Florida Polls, but Faces Tougher Coverage
* Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Greed is good? The GOP seems to be okay with that.
* Albor Ruiz, New York Daily News: Romney and Gingrich DREAM Act support smells of demagoguery and not-so-subtle GOP racism
* Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Obama takes the high road and reminds the nation what really matters
* Ray Suarez, "PBS NewsHour": Why the 2012 Hispanic Vote Doesn't Matter … Yet
"Bob Reid, Executive Vice President and General Manager of The Africa Channel has announced his retirement effective March 1, after seven years at the network. He will move to Accra, Ghana to set up an independent production company that will supply content to The Africa Channel," the channel announced on Monday.
"Additionally, he will oversee production operations for the Channel's existing Kampala, Uganda bureau and will open the Accra bureau by late March. The network plans to open at least three more bureaus in other regions of Africa in 2012.
"Reid was part of the original team that launched The Africa Channel in 2005 and was responsible for all aspects of the network's programming, production, marketing and affiliate sales, as well as strategic planning.
". . . Prior to joining The Africa Channel, Mr. Reid was Executive Vice President and General Manager of Discovery Health Channel, where he oversaw programming and production. During his leadership, that network doubled its distribution from 26 million to 50 million households.
"In a distinguished career that has spanned more than four decades, Reid has won numerous awards for productions in news, documentary and cable television. He won three national and one local Emmy award, including a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Non-Fiction Special. He won an RTNDA International Award and an Alfred I. DuPont Award for investigative producing. He is a past president of the National Association of Black Journalists (1979-1981) and a former co-chair of the DGA's (Directors Guild of America) African-American Steering Committee."
* Shea Bennett, AllTwitter: How Does Africa Tweet? [Infographic]
"On Saturday, Occupy Oakland re-entered the national spotlight during a day-long effort to take over an empty building and transform it into a social center," Gavin Aronsen wrote Sunday for Mother Jones.
"Oakland police thwarted the efforts, arresting more than 400 people in the process, primarily during a mass nighttime arrest outside a downtown YMCA. That number included at least six journalists, myself included, in direct violation of OPD media relations policy that states 'media shall never be targeted for dispersal or enforcement action because of their status.'
At least five other reporters were arrested, Aronsen wrote: Vivian Ho of the San Francisco Chronicle, Kristin Hanes of KGO Radio, John C. Osborn of the East Bay Express, Yael Chanoff of the San Francisco Bay Guardian and cartoonist Susie Cagle.
* Matthias Gafni, Chris De Benedetti and Rick Hurd, Oakland Tribune: Day of clashes at Occupy Oakland ends with at least 400 arrests
* Ana Veciana-Suarez, Miami Herald: Fairness, not envy, fuels the income inequality debate
"In 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first black actress to win an Academy Award, for best supporting actress in the 1939 film 'Gone with the Wind' playing Mammy, Miss Scarlett's maid, Mary C. Curtis wrote Monday for the "She the People" section of the Washington Post website.
"Her achievement was considered a breakthrough, and perhaps it was, though it was tainted by McDaniel's treatment at the time. The African American actress was not permitted to attend the film's Georgia premiere and at the Oscar ceremony, she took the long walk to the stage from a segregated table in the back, far from where the rest of the film's cast sat.
"Things have certainly gotten better since then, something to note as black history month begins in February. But it's bittersweet that in 2012, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, brilliant actresses both, are being celebrated - most recently at this past weekend's Screen Actors Guild ceremony - for playing, yes, maids in 'The Help.' "
On CNN.com Monday, Jimi Izrael took a different approach.
"Viola Davis got a nod for best actress from the Academy this year for her role as Aibileen Clark in 'The Help,' and she must win, despite the controversy about the movie and the role she plays in it," Izrael wrote. "If you believe what you read on blogs, black women long to be represented on screens large and small as rounded, complex characters, rather than wise, downtrodden burden-bearers and hot-blooded angry sex machines. Some say they want more black people telling black stories, which would be reasonable, if it were true.
"I have been black a long time, and I can tell you that black folks are a persnickety lot. To get consensus, things have to be done The Right Way - but there's no consensus on what that looks like. However, we seem to know what it is not."
* Elizabeth Wellington, philly.com: Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer . . . Sartorially Rock the SAGS
"In a filthy Ethiopian prison that is overridden with lice, fleas and huge rats, two Swedes are serving an 11-year prison sentence for committing journalism," Nicholas D. Kristof wrote Sunday in the New York Times.
"Martin Schibbye, 31, and Johan Persson, 29, share a narrow bed, one man's head beside the other's feet. Schibbye once woke up to find a rat mussing his hair.
"The prison is a violent, disease-ridden place, with inmates fighting and coughing blood, according to Schibbye's wife, Linnea Schibbye Steiner, who last met with her husband in December. It is hot in the daytime and freezing cold at night, and the two Swedes are allowed no mail or phone calls, she said. Fortunately, she added, the 250 or so Ethiopian prisoners jammed in the cell protect the two journalists, pray for them and jokingly call their bed 'the Swedish embassy.'
"What was the two men's crime? Their offense was courage. They sneaked into the Ogaden region to investigate reports of human rights abuses.
"Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's increasingly tyrannical ruler, seemed to be sending a signal to the world's journalists: Don't you dare mess with me!
"So the only proper response is a careful look at Meles's worsening repression. Sadly, this repression is abetted by acquiescence from Washington and by grants from aid organizations.
". . . Appallingly, the Meles regime uses foreign food aid to punish his critics. Ethiopia is one of the world's largest recipients of development aid, receiving about $3 billion annually, with the United States one of its largest donors. This money does save lives. But it also 'underwrites repression in Ethiopia,' in the words of Human Rights Watch."
* Nicholas Kristof blog: When Journalists Are Imprisoned
On Thursday, when the late journalist Wallace Terry was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Black Journalists, his wife, Janice Terry, disclosed that Terry left behind chapters of an autobiography that she plans to publish.
Janice Terry said she plans to include an interview from the oral history collection of President Lyndon B. Johnson. She elaborated over the weekend in an email:
"In October of 1999, Wally was interviewed by a representative of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Oral History Collection to be included in the Library's archive of journalists who covered President Johnson. Unless one was a part of an inner circle of friends, family, personal confidantes and political colleagues, Wally had as close a professional relationship a journalist could have had with this president.
"This came about in 1963 when Wally, as president of the Capital Press Club, presented then-Vice President Johnson with their Distinguished Service Award at the organization's annual banquet. As a reporter for Time, Wally interviewed President Johnson frequently and in early 1967 when his cover story came out on ['The Negro in Vietnam.'] Johnson called him to the White House to tell him he'd done a good job. And in late 1967 when Wally was leaving for permanent assignment to Saigon, Johnson summoned him to the White House to tell him he'd send a message to the ambassador to tell him to look out for him.
"When you go to [Google] and type in Wallace Terry, they have now put a direct link to the Library transcript: http://www.wallaceterry.com/inside-vietnam/lbj.pdf"
* In Seattle, "South Lake Union resident and KOMO News reporter Elizabeth Dinh is asking the community for help. Not for a news story, but for her health," Rose Egge reported Friday for KOMO-TV. ". . . The reporter has been looking for a kidney among friends and family since Thanksgiving 2010, but no potential donors have worked out."
* J. Byron Morris, past president of the East Coast chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, said on Washington's WPFW-FM on Monday that the Airmen taken as prisoners of war were surprised that the Germans knew so much about them. It turned out that the German "fifth column" in the United States read the black press and forwarded the personal information published about the airmen, such as names of their family members. Separately, the Washington Post's Courtland Milloy called the "Red Tails" movie, which tells the story of the Airmen, "little more than a black comedy about guys who clown and connive their way through World War II, supposedly as combat pilots," but the Detroit Free Press' Rochelle Riley wrote, "If you haven't gone, see it for yourself. The trek to the theaters is a million-patriot march to pay homage to those who deserve it." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Rosalind Bentley interviewed Frank "Burt" Vardeman, a white crewman on one of the Liberators in World War II out of Italy that was escorted by the Red Tails.
* Sonari Glinton, who became the last African American male voice on air at NPR with the departure of Alex Kellogg, has been reassigned from Detroit to Washington "for a few months while Andrea Seabrook is on a temporary assignment," NPR spokeswoman Anna Christoper confirmed Monday. Glinton will be covering Congress
* "Luis Cruz just can't get enough of Yuma!" Veronica Villafañe wrote Monday on her Media Moves site. "He's returning to KYMA to become news director for a third time at the station. He starts the new job on Wednesday, February 1st."
* "Contrary to critiques about the television landscape, TV One's ['Unsung'] and 'Find Our Missing' are two shows that are serving the public interest," Nsenga K. Burton wrote Sunday for theRoot.com. "Both shows are well-produced and offer insight into the cultural landscape of black America in the areas of entertainment and crime."
* "Last weekend, in one of our posts celebrating The East Village Other," the 1960s counterculture newspaper in New York's Greenwich Village, "Ed Sanders wrote that poet Ted Berrigan may have named the alternative newspaper after the Rimbaud line 'I is an Other,' " the Local East Village, the collaboration between New York University and the New York Times, reported. "Mr. Sanders acknowledged, 'Another account has Ishmael Reed," the Oakland-based novelist and poet, "coining the name.' . . . Here, now, is Mr. Reed himself, on his role in shaping The East Village Other. . . ."
* Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Pennsylvania death row prisoner now released into the general prison population, was expected to be able to hug his wife Monday for the first time in 30 years, Pacifica radio's "Democracy Now!" reported on Monday. Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
* The Times-Picayune in New Orleans is celebrating its 175th anniversary with a series of articles whose subjects include Ruby Bridges, who with three other 6-year-old girls integrated New Orleans public schools in 1960, written by Katy Reckdahl; ties with Cuba, by Ramon Antonio Vargas; WDSU, by Mark Lorando; Louis Armstrong, by Keith Spera; red beans, by Laura McKnight; and public housing, also by Katy Reckdahl.
* "Just before President Obama spoke to Congress and the nation in his State of the Union address, I sat down with Daymond John, founder of FUBU and one of the stars of the ABC reality show, 'Shark Tank,' to talk about entrepreneurship, angel investing, job growth, education and… transforming Silicon Valley," Mike Green, entrepreneurial-minded black journalist, wrote Monday for the Huffington Post.
* At South High School in Salina, Kan., students are selling orange T-shirts that say "I wear orange for Jorge" on the back and "Project Diversity" on the front, Erin Mathews reported for the Salina Journal. They are raising money to help sophomore Jorge Cabrera, 16, who has been diagnosed with leukemia. Orange represents leukemia awareness. Project Diversity, which aims to celebrate differences and create tolerance, is a student organization co-sponsored by Lisa Quirke, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and bilingual assistant Rubi Torres.
* In India, "The case of a cartoonist charged with treason and offending India's national sentiments reflects a growing debate over what constitutes freedom of expression in India," Mannika Chopra reported Monday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "His accusers argue that while it is permissible to make fun of politicians, you cannot make fun of the state. Not everyone agrees. Aseem Trivedi, a 25-year-old political cartoonist, was charged with treason and insulting the Indian national emblems, according to local news reports and CPJ interviews."
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.