The story of writer Gay Talese and his offensive remarks to New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones became a story about the Times itself Thursday when Executive Editor Dean Baquet rebuked the Times' report on the incident and tied it to the news organization's difficulties with newsroom diversity and inclusion.
Talese, who at 84 has been a celebrated writer for decades, and Hannah-Jones, an investigative reporter for the New York Times Magazine who has won kudos for her reporting on latter-day racial segregation, were each speakers last weekend at Boston University’s The Power of Narrative Conference.
At the conference, Talese asked her how she got her job at the Times Magazine and whether she was leaving the room to get her nails done.
Hannah-Jones was the only black person in the room. She described her reaction to the exchange on Monday with writer Amy Littlefield: "I just come from a family where respect for your elders is very ingrained, but part of it is feeling like, honestly, as a Black woman, that it would be very hard for me to say something without coming off looking like all the stereotypes that women and Black women get. It was a hard moment for me to realize that even at this point in my career I could still be silenced."
Talese was pilloried on Twitter for other, public remarks at the conference. He was asked by Verandah Porche, a poet from Vermont: “In addition to Nora Ephron, who were the women who write who were most, who have inspired you most?”
His answer, which began, "As writers. Uh, I’d say Mary McCarthy was one. I… would, um, (pause), think (pause) Of my generation (pause) um, none,” infuriated women who thought that Talese was calling female writers unworthy.
That was the topic of the Times story by Sridhar Pappu posted Wednesday under the headline "Gay Talese Goes Through the Twitter Wringer."
Well into the story, Pappu wrote of Talese, "A tweet that got under his skin was posted by a fellow keynote speaker at the conference, Nikole Hannah-Jones, an investigative reporter who covers racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine: 'It is inevitable: Your icons will *always* disappoint you.'
"Mr. Talese said, 'That’s the one that truly hurt me.' He added: 'I’d like to talk to her sometime. Why did she have to ask for a selfie after what I said made her so upset? I want to know why.
[It was unclear whether Talese was calling a photo of Talese's stylish shoes, which Hannah-Jones posted on Twitter, a selfie, but Erik Wemple, writing for the Washington Post, wrote Friday, "In an email, Talese tells the Erik Wemple Blog that the selfie at issue was not the shot of his shoes.'“It was the next-to-next posing…I think with my arm around her shoulder…get that photo and see what you see,' he wrote."]
“ 'They said people walked out. Why didn’t she walk out? And she’s a person of great personal achievement. She’s a serious journalist, and I respect her. How could she be so duplicitous as to write me off with a quote?' . . .”
Duplicitous? That drove Baquet, who is the Times' first African American top editor and who hired Hannah-Jones, to post a rare statement Thursday on the Times corporate website.
"In attempting to defend his remarks, Talese was quoted in our story calling her 'duplicitous.' Nikole was not given a chance to respond to that, nor was I," Baquet wrote.
"Here is what I would have said: I hired Nikole because she is one of the most accomplished and prominent journalists of her generation. She has made it her mission to write about some of the most pressing, intractable issues in American life, particularly racial inequality in education and the re-segregation of American schools.
"She is a unique combination of a reporter with investigative zeal, unfailing integrity and a writer’s eye for telling, human detail. One of my proudest moments as editor was when Nikole said 'yes' and agreed to come to The Times.
"Yesterday’s story was flawed and Nikole was treated unfairly. But this incident is larger than the exchange between her and Gay Talese. Too often, we are clumsy in handling issues of race and gender and this story was another unfortunate example. We have made strides in our coverage and culture, but the best solution is to continue building a more diverse, inclusive newsroom.”
In Slate magazine Thursday, L.V. Anderson republished seven supportive tweets from Hannah-Jones' immediate boss, Jake Silverstein, editor-in-chief of the New York Times Magazine.
"…It's deeply frustrating and enraging to see such an exemplar of what it means to even BE a journalist get maligned like this…," one said.
Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan sided with Baquet and Silverstein. "To put it simply, the story about Gay Talese that went online Wednesday wasn’t ready for prime time," Sullivan wrote on Thursday.
"If it were going to be published at all, it needed a few changes from Times editors. Apart from its rather one-sided sympathy for the celebrated writer, it included an unanswered swipe at one of The Times’s own journalists, Nikole Hannah-Jones. . . ."
[In an update, Sullivan quoted from an email that Pappu sent Hannah-Jones asking for comment, noting that the message did not say that Talese had called her "duplicitous."]
Sullivan concluded, "It’s good that Mr. Baquet addressed what happened, and acknowledged the larger issues behind it, which have come up many times. This story has characteristics of something driven (possibly too fast) by 'wanting to be part of the conversation.'
"What seems obvious now is that a deeper kind of conversation is required."
Shirley Leung, Boston Globe: Gay Talese’s controversial words: An annotated transcript
Erik Wemple, Washington Post: The New York Times’s bizarre handling of its Gay Talese story
Three journalists of color are among the casualties as Mashable, an 11-year-old company covering global news, politics, entertainment and lifestyle, changes course, pivoting into video and laying off its entire politics team.
Mashable had hired NPR's Juana Summers as its first politics editor last summer. "I'm no longer with Mashable effective earlier today," Summers confirmed by email.
Sergio Hernandez, who describes himself on LinkedIn as "U.S. & World reporter at Mashable where I cover everything from criminal justice to cybersecurity, politics, and law," and Quincy G. Ledbetter, a video producer who also calls himself a filmmaker, musician, writer and actor, confirmed their layoffs in messages on social media.
"Today's staff shake-up comes after last week's $15 million investment, led by Turner, which includes TBS, TNT and CNN in its stable of properties," Tim Baysinger reported Thursday for Adweek. "Mashable becomes the latest digital media company to get a foothold in linear television following the likes of Vice, Vocativ and Vox.
"Mashable, which will present for the first time at the Digital Content NewFronts in May, had been pushing [more heavily] into video, especially premium content. Last June, the company launched Mashable Studios, which creates serialized video programming and branded entertainment. . . ."
Before joining Mashable, Summers was a congressional reporter on NPR's Washington desk. Prior to that, Summers reported for Politico and Politico Pro. She occasionally hosts C-SPAN's "Washington Journal."
Hernandez wrote in his bio, "I was the business and technology editor at The Week, and an intern/contributor for ProPublica, where I won a GLAAD Media Award for a year-long investigation into HIV criminalization. . . ."
Ledbetter is CEO and founder of The Big Bang Theory, "an alternative source of entertainment providing a unique and artistic brand of content by the best under-the-radar filmmakers, artists, and creatives." He has posted this video reel as a calling card.
Summers tweeted to her followers, "No matter how it ended, no matter how brief, it was all worth it."
Ravi Somaiya and John Herrman, New York Times: Mashable Announces Personnel Shifts and Job Cuts
"Taneisha, a black woman, hobbles into an emergency room with a leg fracture and is in obvious pain," Rosalind Bentley wrote Thursday for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Five minutes later, Katelyn, a white woman, walks into the same emergency room with a fractured wrist. She, too, is hurting.
"They’ll both get the appropriate assessment and treatment for their pain, right?
"A University of Virginia study released this week says that racial bias, down to the perception of whether a patient has a stereotypical African-American or white name, can determine whether or not the patient’s pain is correctly diagnosed and treated.
"Taneisha and Katelyn, along with Jermaine and Brett, were among the names given to mock patients referenced in the U-Va. study.
"The study found that white medical students who hold false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites were more likely to believe a black patient was in less pain than he or she actually was. Those false beliefs, such as black people have thicker skin than white people and black people’s nerve endings aren’t as sensitive as whites’, also led the medical students to make inadequate pain treatment recommendations.
"The U-Va. study echoes a 2000 Emory University study that found black emergency room patients were less likely to get adequate painkillers than whites. The Emory study, in fact, found that black patients were 66 percent more likely to receive no pain treatment than whites with similar levels of pain.
"Both the U-Va. and Emory studies add to the volume of similar research, stretching back to the 1800s, that documents the role of racial bias in health care for African-Americans. . . ."
The University of Virginia study did not identify the source of the white medical students' false beliefs, or whether the news media play a positive or negative role in them. That sounds like a question for another study.
"Bomani Jones filled in for one of the Mikes on ESPN’s Mike [&] Mike this morning and wore a 'Caucasians' shirt, which featured a parody of the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo," Samer Kalaf wrote Thursday for Deadspin.
"Molly Qerim and Jones actually dedicated airtime to the shirt, which was supposedly 'dominating the social media conversation' as the show progressed.
"After saying that he chose to wear the shirt because 'it was clean,' Jones discussed the idea behind it: It would be weird to have the Caucasians as a sports mascot, so why is a baseball team still called the Indians?
"A partial transcript:
"Jones: The reason they won’t get rid of Chief Wahoo, which is completely indefensible, is they could still sell stuff with it. They can say they’re gonna de-emphasize it, but they’re not just gonna set money on fire. I thought [the shirt] was the exact same thing, and I could see the value in the design, so I was like, hey, we might as well give this a run.
"Qerim: I think more thought went into it. I think you were trying to make some kind of statement.
"Jones: The statement is obvious. This [shirt] is the same thing. What we have here, this is the same thing that goes on with the logo for the Cleveland Indians, right? So, to have a problem with the logo of this, would be to have a problem with the Indians, but if you’re quiet about the Indians, and you got something to say about my shirt, I think it’s time for introspection. I think that’s a fair thing to ask.
"Later in the show, Jones’s sweatshirt was partially zipped:
"When asked for comment, an ESPN spokesperson said this:
" 'As the show progressed, we felt Bomani had made his point and had openly discussed why he was wearing the shirt, and we wanted to keep the focus to the topics of the day.'
"The spokesperson declined comment on whether there were any known instances of an ESPN personality being asked to cover up the Chief Wahoo logo."
Russell Contreras, Associated Press: 'Caucasians' shirt sales jump after ESPN's Jones appearance
David Edwards, Raw Story: Twitter erupts after ESPN host wears ‘Caucasians’ shirt to call out Cleveland ‘Indians’ logo
Bomani Jones with Molly Qerin, "Molly's Take," ESPN: Bomani Jones explains 'Caucasians' shirt (video)
Steve Russell, Indian Country Today Media Network: Huge Navajo Win for All Tribes: Exploiters of Tribal Names Slapped Down
"Forgive me, but I can’t help comparing Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign to Howard Beale, the fictional news anchor in the 1976 film 'Network' who sparks a movement based on anger," Harold Jackson, editorial page editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote on Friday. "Let me stress that my comparison ends there. Sanders isn’t really like the suicidal character so magnificently played by Peter Finch. But the 'Feel the Bern' movement is similarly based on people getting angry with the status quo.
“ 'The subtext of this campaign is called a political revolution,' Sanders said Wednesday in an endorsement meeting with the Inquirer Editorial Board," providing a link to the Inquirer board's question-and-answer session with Sanders. “ 'It’s too late for establishment politics,' he said. 'I think the bottom line is that American people are really tired of establishment politics and establishment economics.'
"I agree that people are tired of politics as usual, and many are angry about it, but I’m not sure that Sanders has the right answers.
"Having been a socialist independent for most of his political career, the senator seems to have become accustomed to leading efforts that may not succeed. He seems very good at pointing out what people should be mad about, but has not been so good in outlining how a President Sanders would succeed after the 'revolution.'
Jackson also wrote, "The dearth of details in Sanders’ speeches is particularly intriguing to African Americans like me who have grown tired over the years of hearing that black people vote with their hearts rather than their minds. It’s white voters, especially younger ones, who seem to have fallen so in love with Sanders that they ignore his faults. . . .
"This would still be a segregated nation if Martin Luther King Jr. thought black people’s anger at being treated like second-class citizens would be enough to get a Southern president to push for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. . . ."
Editorial, Washington Post: Mr. Sanders’s shocking ignorance on his core issue
Eliana Fernandez, Fox News Latino: The 'Trump Effect' in New York? More people registering to vote him out
Alicia Garza, CNN: Bill Clinton's shameless answer to Black Lives Matter protesters
Amanda Girard, usuncut.com: Michelle Alexander Just Responded to Bill Clinton
Juan Gonzalez, Daily News, New York: ‘Moderate’ John Kasich is still dangerously conservative
James Hohmann, Washington Post: Bill Clinton’s argument with Black Lives Matter protesters is 2016’s Sister Souljah Moment
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: A Shock: Bernie is Actually Bagging Black Votes
German Lopez, vox.com: Bill Clinton just gave criminal justice reformers another reason to be cautious of Hillary
Patrick Marley, Jason Stein and Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Jury is still out on voter ID after first big test
Vann R. Newkirk II, the Atlantic: Rorschach's Crime Bill
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Clintons wrestle with a black generation gap
Roque Planas, HuffPost LatinoVoices: Trump’s Plan To Make Mexico Pay For Border Wall Is Still Just As Nonsensical As It Seems
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The Democratic race has now devolved into nastiness
Julia Terruso and Alfred Lubrano, philly.com: Bill Clinton stumps for Hillary in Philly — and parries with protesters
James Warren, Poynter Institute: Media picks campaign sniping over Supreme Court debate
Al Weaver, Washington Examiner: Clinton team blasts reporters with noise machine during Hillary fundraising speech
Without knowing more, a reader could see why Ed Diokno, who writes for the AsAmNews website about Asian Americans, went into high dudgeon.
"No Really?" Diokno wroteTuesday about the Washington Post headline, "Hall of Famer Yao Ming redefined 'Chinaman' for the NBA and brought the game to hundreds of millions."
"Which Washington Post copy editor wrote this headline and what editor allowed it to go online?
"Do we attribute this to an East Coast bias for journalists who are not used to seeing or hanging out with a lot of Asian Americans?
"Imagine if the racial slur for African Americans — the dreaded N-word — was used instead of the derogatory slur against Chinese? Can you imagine the uproar from the community and the heads rolling at the Washington Post?
"I’ve worked on the Rim and I’ve worked as the Slot in mainstream newsrooms. If I, as a copyeditor on the Rim wrote a headline like that, I’d get a terse email from the Slot or get taken to the hallway for a brief finger-wagging lecture on racial sensitivity. . . ."
Diokno also wrote, "At any rate, SOMEBODY complained. Perhaps the author, herself, Yanan Wong. Shortly after the April 5 headline appeared, the headline was changed to something more acceptable. . . ."
As it turns out, according to Fred Barbash, who edits the Post's "Morning Mix," where the story appeared, the story and headline were written by a Chinese-American "who is quite sensitive to this issue." She used the word "Chinaman" in her story as an example of the slurs to which Ming was subjected:
"During a Rockets game in 2004, former basketball player and TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr also referred to Yao as a 'Chinaman,' a derogatory term dating back to the mid-1800s, when Americans feared that the 'Yellow Peril' would dominate the labor force. (Kerr later apologized.). . . ."
Barbash told Journal-isms by telephone, "I realize that some people find it offensive. I found it germane to the story and avoided sugar-coating it."
Barbash messaged later, "Having now read this, it's way off base. The 'author herself'— Yanan Wang (not Wong — which copy editor let that through?) is quite familiar with the Asian American community in North America (she's from Canada, her family immigrated from China) and wrote the headline, which was approved by me. It was changed long after we went to bed (we work all night) by someone else." Headlines are changed sometimes three or four times in the course of their web life, Barbash said. There was no apology.
Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post paused to be photographed with the legendary reporter Simeon Booker Friday at Long Island University's George Polk Awards luncheon ceremony at Manhattan's Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Lowery, 25, was part of a team that won the National Reporting prize for the Post for its exhaustive study of killings by police officers.
Booker, 97, who reported on the civil rights movement for more than half a century for Jet magazine, was the 34th recipient of the George Polk Career Award.
Lowery wrote on Facebook, "In 1952 Booker became the Washington Post's first full time black reporter (he quit a year later, feeling harassed and misutilized). I had the honor of meeting him once before, a few years back when he was inducted into NABJ's hall of fame, which spurred me to study his work covering the civil rights movement. "His work for JET magazine was peerless — including his coverage of the lynching of Emmett Till, which began when he traveled to Chicago and watched as the boy's mother viewed the mangled and mutilated body for the first time. He then convinced her to allow his colleague to take photographs, one of the crucial acts that helped turn what could have been a small town injustice into a national outrage. . . ."
Carol Booker, Simeon Booker's wife, messaged Journal-isms, "As usual these days, Simeon did not have prepared remarks, but spoke from his heart in accepting the Polk career award. Here is a transcript: " 'I am happy to have lived this long — almost 100. And I hope I can make it to 100! It's been a very inspiring life — to start at the bottom and work your way up. When I started, Blacks didn't even think about writing letters to one another, let alone writing columns, weekly news stories and other journalistic items. I appreciate your recognizing me, and recognizing the struggle that Blacks have had in this country to gain a footing. I don't want to deliver a sermon, even though my father was a preacher and I've learned a lot of the tricks of the trade. (Laughter) But I appreciate it. Thanks a million. And God bless you.'
"He received two standing ovations, one before and one after he spoke. He was wonderful, as always. And it was a beautiful event."
Wayne State University professor Alicia Nails, who directs the school’s Journalism Institute for Media Diversity (JIM), an honors program that trains high-achieving students for careers in media, says the challenge communities of color face in the media today isn’t just about reaching a certain level of representation in newsrooms.
It’s "also about maintaining the level of experience and institutional knowledge required to serve unique ethnic and geographic communities in the face of mass layoffs and the departure of veteran reporters of color," Steven Thomas Kent reported Thursday for rapidgrowthmedia.com.
“ 'When you’re bringing in a new, green person — just because they’re African American, can they really replace Cassandra [Spratling] at the Detroit Free Press?' Nails says of the veteran Black reporter who recently accepted a buyout as the Free Press’s parent company, Gannett, continues to restructure its newspapers across the country. " 'Because it’s not just sitting there and being Black or Latino or Asian in the room. You also have to look at the strength of that voice and will it be respected; do they know how to be heard? And an entry level reporter won’t have that skillset compared to someone who’s been there 30 years.'
"As one example, Nails points to the coverage surrounding the confirmation hearings of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, which sometimes expressed confusion about the prominent presence of people in red garb: Lynch’s sorority sisters from Delta Sigma Theta — an African-American Greek organization with a long history of social justice activism. "Nails, a Delta Sigma Theta member who serves as the state journalist for the sorority’s Michigan chapter, says that many younger reporters, African-American and otherwise, lack a historical understanding of Black sororities and their prominent leadership role in the African-American community during the Civil Rights Movement and beyond — which in turn leads to a lack of emphasis in news coverage, despite the leadership role and political influence these organizations still hold in the Black community. . . ."
Kent also quoted Andres Abreu, the founding editor of the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Latino newspaper El Vocero Hispano. Abreu said he had observed a segmentation in both news audiences and outlets during his tenure. "Abreu, a former reporter and press director from the Dominican Republic who founded El Vocero in 1993, says that his paper used to have ongoing channels of communication with mainstream local outlets.
The Grand Rapids Press hired a number of his writers who then kept in touch with El Vocero, and the news director at the Press often did the same, he says; meanwhile, WOOD TV8 allowed El Vocero to print their weather reports in exchange for help with occasional spot-news segments. "Since the major area news organizations have started to re-structure newsrooms over the last several years, though, those lines of communication have gone quiet, Abreu says. . . ."
Kent talked with Levi Rickert, a Grand Rapids-born American Indian and tribal citizen of the Potawatomi Nation. Rickert is founding editor-in-chief of Native News Online, a Grand Rapids-based website that covers news concerning the American Indian community on a national scale.
“ 'I’m pretty proud of where we are, and when I make speeches and talk to Native youth about becoming journalists, I basically say: "We know how the other side has told our story,” Rickert says. 'American Indians have not been positively depicted by Hollywood film, American literature, or news media across the country, and I like to tell our people, ‘It’s our time to tell our stories.’ And to me, that’s what Native News Online is about and now what the Tribal Business Journal is about. . . .' ”
"Orage Quarles III, president & publisher of The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., for the past sixteen years, will retire on June 3," the McClatchy Co., parent of the News & Observer, announcedon Friday. "Orage represents the very best traits of McClatchy publishers,” Pat Talamantes, president and CEO of McClatchy said in the news release. “He is entrepreneurial and focused. He exhibits class and grace in all situations. Orage will fight for his people, his community and his ideals. . . ." Quarles' retirement will leave four African American publishers of daily newspapers, according to Don Hudson, executive editor of the Decatur (Ala.) Daily, who maintains a list for the National Association of Black Journalists: Rufus Friday, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader; Susan Leath, the News Journal, Wilmington, Del.; Rodney Mahone, the Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus, Ga.; and Alberta Saffell Bell, owner and publisher, the Gardner (Mass.) News.
"Seafood from Slaves" by the Associated Press, “Insult to Injury: America’s Vanishing Worker Protections” by ProPublica and NPR, and “Failure Factories” by the Tampa Bay Times have won the IRE Medal, the highest honor bestowed by Investigative Reporters & Editors, the group announced on Thursday. Other winners included “Rape on the Night Shift"/"Violación de un sueño: Jornada nocturna,” by "Frontline" and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, KQED Public Radio and Univision; “Racial Profiling Whitewash,” KXAN/NBC, Austin, Texas; “Over The Line: Police Shootings in Georgia,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV; and “The Death of Freddie Gray,” the Baltimore Sun. List of winners.
In Arizona, "Claiming it’s a matter of security, the state House on Thursday banned reporters from the floor who would not consent to extensive background checks," Howard Fischer reported Thursday for Capitol Media Services. "Several media organizations who routinely cover the Legislature, including the Associated Press, the Arizona Republic, the Capitol Times and Capitol Media Services were denied the traditional access after refusing to sign documents allowing House staff to check not just criminal history records but all civil records, driving records and other public records. . . ."
Neil Foote, a former journalist at the Dallas Morning News, Washington Post and Miami Herald who became a public relations executive and journalism educator, has been elected president of the National Black Public Relations Society. In January, the society released "a bold diversity action plan . . . that focuses on four commitments designed to disrupt and transform the industry."
April Simpson joins Current May 2 as associate editor covering funding and innovation, the publication, which reports on public broadcasting, announced on Thursday. Simpson will be the publication's first black journalist working full time, Julie Drizin, Current's executive director, told Journal-isms. Simpson is relocating to Washington, D.C., from Florida, where she has worked as a staff writer for Food for The Poor while contributing to Fort Lauderdale Magazine as a freelance reporter. Current has three full-time reporters and two full-time editors.
"Jayson Blair returned to the University of Maryland’s journalism school to discuss ethics Wednesday for the first time since his 2003 plagiarism and fabrication scandal rocked the nation, resulting in his resignation from The New York Times," Alana Pedalino reported for Capital News Service. “ 'It kills me personally that [my plagiarism and fabrication] damaged the profession,” Blair said when prompted by university lecturer Sharon O’Malley. “The part that really kills me are the people that I hurt in my personal and professional life who had done absolutely nothing wrong. I’m definitely sorry about it.' . . . ”
Tuesday's New York Times seven-minute "op-doc," "A Conversation With Asian-Americans on Race," was "well-done. It touched on several important issues and concepts such as colorism, speaking English with an accent, America’s influence in Asia, immigration, the perpetual foreigner stereotype, why the model minority myth is not true, and of course — many personal experiences with racism," E.J.R. David, Ph.D., wrote Wednesday in Psychology Today. "However, out of the 12 participants whose stories were featured and shared, not one name appeared to be Filipino. . . ."
"Janet Rodríguez has left her position as Telemundo network news correspondent in Chicago," Veronica Villafañe reported Thursday for her Media Moves site. A multi Emmy award-winning journalist, "she’s moving over to rival Univision to fill the newly created position of White House correspondent, based in Washington, D.C. . . ."
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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