Beyoncé fans might be ecstatic over Radio One's decision to drop its boldly formatted but low-rated all-news Houston radio station, but others are challenging the black-controlled network's assertion that Houstonians just weren't ready for so much journalism.
For the moment, at least, the station is all Beyoncé all the time.
"It's not Houston's fault that News 92 FM failed," read a headline in the Houston Chronicle Wednesday over a column by Ken Hoffman.
"On its website, Radio One blamed poor ratings," Hoffman wrote. "It went on to say, 'Unfortunately, the market (Houston) hasn't shown a sustainable appetite for news radio.'
"I'm not sure that's accurate. We don't know if Houston has an appetite for news radio. We just know it didn't eat up News 92 FM. . . ."
Hoffman noted that all-news radio stations score big ratings in other cities and added, "Station insiders acknowledged that story repetition and selection was always an issue with listeners. 'There were too few stories, repeated too often,'" one told me. 'We were a good station. We would have had to be great to beat KTRH.'
"With Houston's slow-moving traffic, a news station here needs a lot of stories and constant updates to hold listeners. News 92 FM listeners could hear the same story two or three times on a single business call to Katy or The Woodlands. It wasn't compelling radio. . . ."
Mary Benton, who represents the region that includes Texas on the board of the National Association of Black Journalists, offered this assessment to Journal-isms via email:
"It was a solid news station with some really top-notch journalists. Many of them had been victims of downsizing and layoffs from bigger news outlets. I was thrilled when former colleagues found opportunities at the all news radio station.
"The station had [its] moments, exclusive stories and reliable coverage during breaking news, but the one thing I heard people criticize was the fact that the station repeated stories too often throughout the day. As a journalist I noticed the stories weren't rewritten, or edited with a different sound bite. The same story would loop every fifteen minutes all day long.
"In the end, it was tough for News 92 to gain a large audience to climb up in the ratings. I wish all the former employees the absolute best. There aren't enough news jobs in Houston to absorb all those folks. The media landscape continues to shift. Journalists must learn to adjust."
Jerome Solomon, a sports columnist at the Chronicle and president of the Houston Association of Black Journalists, agreed.
"I will add that sportswise there are so many options in town (an unheard of five all-sports stations, not including the Spanish one) that people who are looking for sports news wouldn't bother with 92.1, though the network had a couple of sports reporters who were known from their work in TV here," Solomon said by email. "I assume that missing audience would make a strong dent in an all-news format’s potential listener base. Without sports fans ever needing to come to the station to check for the latest news, the opportunity to capture them was very limited."
As David Barron reported Wednesday in the Chronicle, "KROI (92.1 FM), the all-news station owned by Radio One, said today it has ceased news operations and the station's 47 employees have been laid off.
"The station, which launched an all-news format three years ago, is now airing music by Beyoncé as it transitions toward an as-yet-unannounced format.
"Yashima Azilove, vice president of corporate communications for Radio One, cited poor Nielsen Audio/Arbitron ratings in the decision to shut down the all-news format.
" 'We set out three years ago to make history,' she said. 'There was a void in the marketplace, so we launched the first FM all-news station in the market. We invested significant dollars as well as human capital to make it work, but after three years, the marketplace has spoken.
" 'We have had continued poor ratings and significant financial losses. It was an unfortunate but necessary decision to transition our format. . . .' "
In a telephone interview Friday, Azilove said the data backed her position, though others are entitled to their opinions. "The quality of the product is not something we question," she said.
But as Radio One said in its statement, "The Nielsen Audio ratings book for September showed that KROI, which was known as News 92.1, ranked 26th among all Houston stations with a 0.9 percent audience share among listeners 12 years old and older for the weeklong 6 a.m.-to-midnight ratings period. . . ."
Staffers seemed resigned to their fate. "We are heart broken cause we put everything into this station but it just wasn't meant to be," Lanny Griffith, traffic master, said on his Facebook page, Barbara Kuntz reported Wednesday for CultureMap. She added that "the station spent about $900,000 on an expansion project for a new studio, newsroom, offices and green room, according to media expert Mike McGuff. . . ."
The decision to go all-Beyoncé in the superstar's hometown was an attention-grabber. On Wednesday, Chris Gray, writing in the Houston Press, called it "The talk of the radio world today" and added, "If anyone is curious, the combined discographies of Destiny's Child and Beyonce have a total running time of approximately eight hours and 45 minutes. Live albums and DC's 2005 greatest-hits #1's are included, but not singles, EPs or remixes. . . ."
The all-news format was a first for Radio One and a first for Houston. But, as Azilove told Houston's KTRK-TV, "In looking to make a transition, we go back to what we know."
The Beyoncé format won't last, however.
Azilove told Journal-isms to stay tuned to the station for an announcement Monday at 5 p.m. Central time.
Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas Morning News: Houston now has an all-Beyonce radio station. What Dallas musician should get the same treatment?
A day after a longtime CNN employee filed a $5 million wrongful-termination and discrimination lawsuit against the network, the only African American executive producer of a show at CNN resigned.
Tenisha Taylor Bell, who produced Fredricka Whitfield's block of "CNN Newsroom" and is former executive producer of "Around The World with Suzanne Malveaux," sent this message to colleagues on Tuesday:
"Hi Team Fred,
"As you know I've been on vacation for a few days. While away, I've been doing some soul searching and I've decided that at this time that I would like to go in a different direction with my career. This is a very hard decision for me. You ALL are like family to me. But of course, I have to make the best decision for Aidan and myself at this time. So I have decided to resign from CNN. You have been a great team to work with. I thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. I wish everyone the very best. You can reach me at Tenisha (at) PerfectPitchMediaGroup.com or my cell. . . ."
Bell, immediate past president of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists, described herself on the website of her Perfect Pitch Media Group: "She is a 16+ year award winning media executive and communications specialist. For the past 11 years Tenisha served as an executive producer for CNN. She was responsible for the execution of live programming on a daily basis. One of her main management responsibilities included recruiting diverse voices as guests and contributors across CNN platforms. Tenisha mastered the art of recognizing superb guest pitches from those that fail to deliver. Her industry knowledge of how guests are screened, selected and booked for television is how she strategically advises clients in crafting their Perfect Pitch. . . ."
In the suit filed Monday, Stanley Wilson said he was promoted only once during his tenure at CNN, in 2003, despite applying for a dozen job openings. The National Association of Black Journalists issued a statement Wednesday saying it "is concerned about the atmosphere for African Americans at CNN. . . ."
Most millennial voters — 53 percent — get their news on their smartphones or tablets, according to a new Fusion poll released today," the Fusion network said on Thursday. "But the numbers look a little different when broken down by ethnicity:"
Ken Doctor, NiemanLab: The newsonomics of the millennial moment
Erik Wemple, Washington Post: FoxNews.com scores well among millennials in new poll
"In a very long Rolling Stone piece making the case that Barack Obama has been a great — or, at least, very consequential — president," Chris Cillizza wrote Thursday for the Washington Post, "New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes this intriguing paragraph:
" 'Yes, Obama has a low approval rating compared with earlier presidents. But there are a number of reasons to believe that presidential approval doesn't mean the same thing that it used to: There is much more party-sorting (in which Republicans never, ever have a good word for a Democratic president, and vice versa), the public is negative on politicians in general, and so on. Obviously the midterm election hasn't happened yet, but in a year when Republicans have a huge structural advantage — Democrats are defending a disproportionate number of Senate seats in deep-red states — most analyses suggest that control of the Senate is in doubt, with Democrats doing considerably better than they were supposed to. This isn't what you'd expect to see if a failing president were dragging his party down.' . . ."
Meanwhile, Obama said Thursday "that tiered Internet service should not be allowed, and he expected the FCC to insure that it did not happen," John Eggerton wrote for Broadcasting & Cable.
Also, Sara Rafsky wrote Friday for the Committee to Protect Journalists, "In May, my blog post looked at what had changed in the seven months since CPJ's first comprehensive report on press freedom in the United States, authored by former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie, Jr. The answer then, as it is now, was not much. Though the cast of characters and the specific settings might have shifted, it feels like journalists are stuck in the same play with the president. . . ."
Matt Apuzzo, New York Times: Fox News Reporter Fought Subpoena in Justice Dept. Leak Inquiry
Jarrett L. Carter, HuffPost BlackVoices: On HBCUs, White House Moves From Disregard to Dismantling
Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: One hollow 'threat'
Norman Solomon and Marcy Wheeler, the Nation: The Government War Against Reporter James Risen
"A new report by the Government Accountability Office has confirmed what other researchers and unbiased observers knew all along: the whole voter ID controversy is a scam intended to drive down voter turnout among groups that do not tend to vote Republican, and unfortunately, to some degree that scam has succeeded," Jay Bookman wrote Thursday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"Now, the stern, academically minded folks at the GAO did not put it in quite those terms. But after its researchers compared voting patterns in six similar states in both the 2012 and 2008 elections, including two states — Tennessee and Kansas — that had passed voter-ID laws post 2008, it reached a clear conclusion:
" 'GAO's analysis suggests that the turnout decreases in Kansas and Tennessee beyond decreases in the comparison states were attributable to changes in those two states' voter ID requirements. GAO found that turnout among eligible and registered voters declined more in Kansas and Tennessee than it declined in comparison states — by an estimated 1.9 to 2.2 percentage points more in Kansas and 2.2 to 3.2 percentage points more in Tennessee. . . ."
Wayne Dawkins, the Guardian: In America, voters don't pick their politicians. Politicians pick their voters
Eric H. Holder Jr., Huffington Post: A Breakthrough in the Discussion Around Voting Restrictions
Latino Rebels: SNL's 'Whites' Video: What Did You Think? (video)
Carolina Moreno, HuffPost LatinoVoices: Why Maria Hinojosa Is 'Less Afraid' Of How The U.S. Will Deal With Demographic Change
Griselda Nevarez, VOXXI: Early Voting Key to Increasing Latino Voter Turnout
"Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts — 21 times greater, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings," Ryan Gabrielson, Ryann Grochowski Jones and Eric Sagara reported Friday for ProPublica.
"The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.7 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.
"One way of appreciating that stark disparity, ProPublica's analysis shows, is to calculate how many more whites over those three years would have had to have been killed for them to have been at equal risk. The number is jarring — 185, more than one per week.
"ProPublica's risk analysis on young males killed by police certainly seems to support what has been an article of faith in the African American community for decades: Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population. . . ."
Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: Shootings, beatings, and unanswered questions.
Gene Demby with Steve Inskeep and Rachel Martin, NPR "Code Switch": Videos Of Deadly Police Encounters Grab The Media Spotlight, But Why?
Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Red October meets #FergusonOctober
Kimberly Kindy and Wesley Lowery, Washington Post: Ferguson police continued crackdown on protesters after federal, state interventions
Don Lemon, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Don Lemon Says Indiana Man Tasered By Police Should Have Obeyed Police & Gotten Out Of The Car
Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio: Ferguson Charging Thousands For Public Records, St. Louis Public Radio Files Complaint
Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Jesse Jackson turned 73 and is still on his mission
Jonathan Peters, Columbia Journalism Review: Why this news nonprofit is crowdfunding a police shootings database
Chuck Raasch, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Americans divided over police use of force against civilians
Radio Television Digital News Association: CNN files public records complaint in Missouri
Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Parents can save children by not bringing crime home
AC Thompson, ProPublica: What to Look For In Dueling Autopsies of Michael Brown
"Now that Ebola has made its way to the United States, a number of outlets are spreading downright dangerous information, touting 'cures' and misleading people as to how it is spread," Lizabeth Paulat, a Uganda-based writer on social development, wrote Wednesday for the care2.com site.
"We saw this happen in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal and Guinea but most of us waved that off, certain that a western-educated population would know better. Well, clearly we do not. So let's go ahead and debunk the five craziest things people in the west are now saying about Ebola. . . ."
Paulat concluded, "Ebola is real, and Ebola is scary as all hell. But it is not a super virus. We know how to contain it; we know how to stop it. So unless you are a health worker who is leaving for Liberia tomorrow (and if you are, god bless you) your risk is so incredibly small that worrying about it is probably causing you more health problems than the Ebola virus ever will."
Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Nigeria gets praise from the U.S. for its Ebola response
Andrew Kirell, Mediaite: 'You're Playing the Race Card!' Fox's Geraldo and Bolling Battle over Dallas Hospital's Ebola Treatment
Mark Memmott, NPR: Sometimes 'Out Of An Abundance Of Caution' Is Also The Right Way To Report
Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Coughing on airplanes in the age of Ebola
Robtel Neajai Pailey, HuffPost BlackVoices: In Life and Death, Thomas Eric Duncan Exposed Severe Gaps in Anti-Ebola Efforts on Both Sides of the Atlantic
Dominic Patten, Deadline Hollywood: Obama At Gwyneth Paltrow Fundraiser: Chances Of U.S. Ebola Epidemic "Extraordinarily Small"
James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: Ebola patient's death should humble us all
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: America's stake in the Ebola fight
Ellie Sandmeyer, Media Matters for America: CNN Turns To Outbreak Fiction Writer For Ebola Coverage
Chris Tomlinson, Houston Chronicle: The first rule of Ebola (Oct. 1)
"An unprecedented event happened in South Dakota 24 years ago, an event that has not been duplicated by any other state: South Dakota adopted October 12 as a state holiday to be called Native American Day," Tim Giago wrote Sept. 15 for the Huffington Post, anticipating this weekend.
"By selecting October 12, South Dakota eliminated, for all intent and purpose, Columbus Day as a holiday. But the ensuing 24 years have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that old habits are hard to break.
"The Native American Day holiday did not occur by happenstance. It certainly was not anything advocated by the state's largest newspapers, television or radio stations, or by the state's 100 weekly newspapers. It was instead a holiday advocated by the only independent, Indian-owned weekly newspaper in the state, the original Lakota Times (No connection to the current Lakota Country Times). . . ."
Giago also wrote, "But as I alluded to earlier, change comes hard in this state. The state's white-owned media has done little to promote Native American Day. Out-of-state retail chains like Walmart, Target, K-Mart, J.C. Penney's and Lowe's, and others, with their corporate mentality, still advertise 'Columbus Day' sales. And above all, the state government of South Dakota has been woefully negligent in stepping forward to celebrate a day that honors Native Americans.
"It seems to me that the people of South Dakota are not fully aware that what they accomplished is unique in American history. Of the 50 States of the Union, only one has set aside a state sanctioned holiday to honor Native Americans and in so doing has diminished a holiday, Columbus Day, that most Native Americans find offensive. Witness the Native protests that take place across America (except in South Dakota) every October 12. In South Dakota we made this happen without firing a shot.
"If South Dakota's white-owned media had come up with the idea of Native American Day, or of a Year of Reconciliation, perhaps they would be more apt to promote and honor these days, but it seems to me that because the Lakota people and a Lakota-owned newspaper did it for them, they are hesitant, fearful and even envious of promoting this special day. They even neglect to report truthfully about how this day began. They instead credit a white governor and white legislature totally ignoring the all-important instigating role played by me and the Native Americans at the Lakota Times.
"I would say to the Lakota people that October 12 is our day. . . ."
The University of California at San Diego adds, "California Native American Day was established as an official state holiday in 1998. Today, all California schools recognize the fourth Friday in September as the official Native American holiday. . . "
Michael Arceneaux, Ebony: Columbus Smiles Down on the Culture Vultures
Jessica Carro, Indian Country Today Media Network: Do Other Countries Celebrate Columbus Day?
Valerie Strauss, Washington Post: Columbus Day: 'How is this still a thing?'
Monica Rhor, who has alternated between reporting and teaching high school English during what she's characterized as "a very long, very rewarding career as a journalist," is returning to the Houston Chronicle, she told social media colleagues on Wednesday. "Yes, she's returning on Nov. 1, as a writer assigned to our enterprise and investigations team. We're very, very excited," Vernon Loeb, managing editor of the Chronicle, told Journal-isms by email on Friday.
"Today, Johnson Publishing announced the launch of a digital store for its EBONY and JET brands where readers can buy a variety of content and branded merchandise," Caysey Welton reported Thursday for Folio:. "EbonyJetShop.com features streaming audio and video, downloadable music and videos and access to archived, proprietary content dating back to 1942. Additionally, visitors will be able to purchase branded Johnson Publishing products like t-shirts, mugs, fashion accessories and other content like cookbooks and e-books. . . ."
"Where are the Latino Geeks? Not in Silicon Valley, that we know," Rosa Mendoza, executive director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, wrote Friday. "There is an unacceptably low percentage of Latino innovators and influencers in Silicon Valley; not to mention the technology industry as a whole. Many factors contribute to this unacceptable dearth in participation but one example, that is readily curable, is the low rate at which minority-owned businesses, especially those that are owned by Latinos, are able to secure broadcast spectrum licenses to participate as owners in one of the major segments of our economy — communications. Without immediate FCC rule changes to the congressionally mandated Designated Entity (DE) program, opportunities for diverse entry and spectrum ownership, by Latinos will continue to be dismal and mismatched to our level of consumer engagement as mobile users. . . ." Mendoza's and other groups backed a proposal circulated Friday by Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, "to explore new options, and perhaps revise rules. . . ."
Gloria Campos, who spent 30 years as an anchor for WFAA-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth, is endorsing Democrat Wendy Davis in her race for governor against her Republican opponent, state Attorney General Greg Abbott. "This is a woman who not only hears the stories Texans tell her, but actively seeks out ways to help. And when she's got her mind set on something, there is nothing — nothing — that will make her back down," Campos wrote Wednesday.
"Cornel West is not happy with the state of black journalism today, Rahel Gebreyes reported Thursday for the Huffington Post. "In an interview with HuffPost Live on Wednesday, the Black Prophetic Fire author looked back at prominent African-Americans in history and lamented the decline of the independent black press, in favor of journalists who want 'access.' 'We have too many black journalists today who just want access,' he said. "[To] be at the White House or be at publicity and it's understandable. It's a human thing but it has to be called into question.' West called out MSNBC as part of the problem and drew parallels between the network and the legacy of black journalist Carl Rowan, who West said embraced the 'mainstream' too warmly. 'MSNBC and company — this is the Carl Rowanization of black journalists,' he said. . . ."
"Ever wonder what news anchors do during commercial breaks? Well, these two entertain themselves in a way that's positively delightful: with a glorious, intricate handshake," Avery Stone wrote Friday for the Huffington Post. "Robert Jordan and Jackie Bange, of Chicago's WGN News, have been anchoring together for about 20 years, and they've been doing this handshake since the early 2000s, though their list of moves has grown over time. . . ."
The International Federation of Journalists joined its affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Tuesday in "strongly deploring the murders of two journalists in two separate incidents in Hafizabad, Punjab province, in recent days. With the tally of journalists killed in Pakistan now reaching 13 this year, the IFJ has demanded that the Pakistan government must take serious action on protecting the country’s media workers and heed global calls to tackle the country’s shocking impunity problem before more lives are lost. . . ."