On a day highlighted by false reports that a suspect had been arrested in the Boston Marathon bombing, CNN's John King was singled out for reporting that law enforcement officials had identified "a dark-skinned male" as the suspect, and at least three news organizations demonstrated that it is possible to put people of color on the air as experts if one makes the effort.
"Eventually, of course, King's entire thesis turned out to be false. Federal authorities made clear that there was no suspect in the attacks yet. At the time, though, he appeared to have a scoop.
"King was the first to report that law enforcement officials had identified a suspect in Monday's bloody attacks.
" 'I want to be very careful about this, because people get very sensitive when you say these things,' he said. 'I was told by one of these sources who is a law enforcement official that this is a dark-skinned male.'
"He said that there had been a further description given, but he was refraining from sharing it with viewers.
" 'There are some people who will take offense for even saying that,' he said. 'I understand that.'
" 'We can't say whether the person spoke with a foreign accent, or an American accent?' Wolf Blitzer asked. 'That would be premature.' . . . "
"PBS anchor Gwen Ifill tweeted her disapproval of King's choice:
"Disturbing that it's OK for TV to ID a Boston bombing suspect only as 'a dark-skinned individual.' "
Ifill's concerns were later echoed by the Rev. Al Sharpton on his "PoliticsNation" show on MSNBC and by the National Association of Black Journalists, among others.
"Sharpton railed against King’s 'offensive, coded language,' " Noah Rothman reported for Mediaite. "He said that, in that moment, King turned every minority in the city of Boston into a terror suspect."
Media blogger Erik Wemple of the Washington Post called King's description of the suspect "useless information that borders on inflammatory."
NABJ issued a news release calling attention to its style guide and said, "NABJ in no way encourages censorship but does encourage news organizations to be responsible when reporting about race, to report on race only when relevant and a vital part of a story. Ultimately this helps to avoid mischaracterizations which might encourage potential bias or discrimination against a person or a group of people based on race or ethnicity."
King was not alone in reporting bad information. "Mistaken sources led CNN, Fox News, the Associated Press and the Boston Globe to report at various times this afternoon that a suspect had been identified and arrested in connection with the crime," Eric Deggans reported for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times. Ironically, CNN reported, "JUST IN: Man sought as possible suspect is WHITE MALE, wearing white baseball cap on backwards, gray hoodie and black jacket."
Deggans continued, "Other news outlets, including NBC and CBS insisted that no arrest had taken place; eventually sources in the Boston police department and Department of Justice denied an arrest had taken place, issuing official statements to quell the furor.
" 'Despite reports to the contrary there has not been an arrest in the Marathon attack,' read a terse post on Twitter by Boston police, issued about an hour after CNN's initial report that a suspect has been arrested."
The misinformation prompted the FBI to issue what was described as a scathing statement in mid-afternoon: "Contrary to widespread reporting, no arrest has been made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack. Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate. Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting."
Meanwhile, NPR and the Spanish-language television networks Telemundo and Univision demonstrated how experts of color can be called upon to comment on such major stories as the marathon bombings.
The gender, ethnicity and political leanings of guests asked to comment on news events has been as much a diversity issue as the choice of journalists, particularly on the Sunday morning talk shows. A survey this month by Media Matters for America shows that apart from Melissa Harris-Perry's Sunday show on MSNBC, "No other program had a guest pool that was less than 82 percent white . . ."
Journal-isms asked the television networks and NPR whether they had used experts of color, and NPR, Univision and Telemundo responded affirmatively.
NPR spokesman Emerson Brown said that on Thursday, "Talk of the Nation" would feature Khaled A. Beydoun, adjunct faculty member and critical race studies teaching fellow at the UCLA School of Law and author of "Boston explosions: 'Please don't be Arabs or Muslims' " on aljazeera.com. In addition, "Tell Me More," which specializes in multicultural discussions, spoke with the Right Rev. Gayle Harris of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts about churches' plans to help people cope with the aftermath of the attack.
Univision said it spoke with Emilio Viano, an expert in transnational crime who is a professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University, and Judge Cristina Pereyra, its own legal analyst, who was running in the marathon.
NBC-owned Telemundo spoke with Eric Rojo, a retired U.S. Army colonel with field experience in vulnerability, site and risk management reviews, spokesman Camilo Pino said, along with Octavio Pérez, a retired U.S. Army colonel who worked with the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Manuel Gómez, a former principal relief supervisor and special agent with the FBI. Gómez investigated terrorism and espionage cases as an agent in the National Security Division.
On "CBS This Morning," former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, now a CBS contributor, said terrorist attacks such as the one that rocked the Boston Marathon present presidents with a leadership dilemma.
A spokeswoman for the "PBS NewsHour" did not respond to a request for comment, but another PBS spokeswoman noted that "NewsHour's" first report was provided by Noreen Nasir of the show's production staff, who was near the scene when the explosions took place.
She added, "You can see Ms. Nasir's report at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/04/explosions-rock-finish-line-at-boston-marathon.html (scroll down to the second video clip, after the still image she tweeted from near the Boston Public Library)."
ABC News spokesman David Ford likewise did not respond when asked about a diversity of news sources on the story, but supplied this information about its correspondents:
"Linsey Davis was our first Correspondent on the scene in Boston and has been closely following the stories of the victims and their families over the past two days (WATCH).
"ABC News Senior Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas has been one of our leading reporters covering the investigation by federal authorities (WATCH).
"Senior National Correspondent Jim Avila has been contributing to our coverage, last night he reported on the search for answers as experts analyze shrapnel and fragments left over from explosion (WATCH).
"Our new Chief National Correspondent Byron Pitts filed his first piece last night on 'World News' on the new meaning to the injunction 'see something, say something' has for Americans in light of this week's tragic events (WATCH).
"On Monday, Alex Perez and Cecilia Vega reported on the increased law enforcement presence at sporting events, travel centers and malls (The bombings have dominated the news since Monday.
Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America: This Is Bad, Even For The New York Post
Michael Calderone, Huffington Post: Boston Globe Editor: Marathon Coverage Shows Why 'Metro Papers Matter'
Max Fisher, Washington Post: 'Please don’t be a Muslim': Boston marathon blasts draw condemnation and dread in Muslim world
Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine: Viewers tune to NBC for latest on bombings
Jason Fry, Poynter Institute: Boston explosions a reminder of how breaking news reporting is changing
Prachi Gupta, Salon: Sloppy news coverage becomes news after CNN misreports arrest
Lauren Hockenson, 10,000 Words: Boston Marathon Tragedy Exposes Twitter's Reporting Flaws
Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe: Runners and supporters share a bond of trust
Andrew Kirell, Mediaite: The 10 Absolute Worst Media Reactions To The Boston Marathon Bombings
Merrill Knox, TVNewser: Morning Shows Focus on Human Impact of Boston Bombings
Sam Laird, Mashable: 'Sports Illustrated' Cover Honors Boston Marathon First Responders
Christina Lee, Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, N.Y.: My heart is in Boston
Michael Malone, Broadcasting & Cable: Boston Stations Pull Off 'Incredibly Jarring' Shift After Bombing
Diana Marszalek, TVNewsCheck: How TV Switched From Celebration To Terror
John McDermott, Ad Age: Boston Marathon Bombing Makes Vine a News Platform
Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Terrorist-defying response to the Boston Marathon bombing? Follow Billy Iffrig’s example and keep on running
John Newland, NBC News: The man in the hat at Boston Marathon finish line: Carlos Arredondo didn't set out to be hero
Chris O'Shea, FishbowlNY: Time to Release Special Tablet-Only Edition on Boston Marathon
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: No. 1 goal: Find who did it
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Americans stand defiant with Boston
Adam Serwer, Mother Jones: Arab American on Boston Marathon: "Everyone in This Room Is Holding Their Breath"
Spencer Soper, Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.: Rodale reporters switch gears at blast site
Farah Stockman, Boston Globe: The Marathon attack: the surreal and the stubborn
"In angry remarks following the defeat of a bipartisan amendment on background checks that presaged the broader collapse of an effort to pass more stringent gun control legislation, President Obama promised the fight would go on," Chris Cillizza wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post.
" 'I believe we're going to be able to get this one,' he said. 'Sooner or later we are going to get this right.' He added: 'I see this as just round one.'
"Is Obama right? Are we in the first round of a 10-round fight on guns? Or does what happened on the Senate floor Wednesday amount to a knockout for the forces pushing for more gun control measures? . . . "
Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post: Can we talk about gun violence?
Adrian Walker, Boston Globe: We can't let the gun lobby win
"Hours after a bipartisan group of eight senators introduced a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration system, conservative radio talk show hosts took over two floors of a Capitol Hill hotel on Wednesday and denounced the proposal on the country's drive-time airwaves as nothing more than a reward for lawbreakers," Michael D. Shear and Julia Preston reported Wednesday for the New York Times.
"On a Florida station, WFTL, the host Joyce Kaufman called it 'pure amnesty.' Jim Sharpe, a talk show host on KFYI in Phoenix, promised that 'Arizonans are still not taking this sitting down.' On Denny Schaffer's show in New Orleans, callers demanded deportations.' . . . "
Clyde Hughes, Journal & Courier, Lafayette, Ind.: Still missing the target on immigration reform
Editorial, La Opinión, Los Angeles: Black Leaders Play Key Role in Immigration Reform
Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Hung up on border security
Pew Research Center: Unauthorized Immigrants: How Pew Research Counts Them and What We Know About Them
Peter Wallsten, Jia Lynn Yang and Craig Timberg, Washington Post: Facebook flexes political muscle with provision in immigration bill
Mackenzie Weinger, Politico: Marco Rubio's toughest crowd: Radio talkers
"More than 2,000 guests from around the world paid their last respects at the biggest such occasion since the Queen Mother's funeral in 2002.
"Thousands of members of the public and the armed forces lined the funeral procession route through London.
"PM David Cameron said it was a 'fitting tribute' to a major figure.
"Four thousand police officers were on duty in central London but, despite concerns about demonstrations, only a small number of protesters voiced their opposition to Lady Thatcher's policies and there were no arrests."
Jermaine Haughton, writing for Britain's Voice newspaper, which considers itself a spokesman for Britain's black community, wrote of Thatcher, "Upon hearing her name, some shudder with anger while others pound their fists with pride. What side of the fence are you on?"
Jon Lee Anderson, the New Yorker: Neruda, Pinochet, and the Iron Lady (April 10)
Richard Dowden, African Arguments: Africa: Mrs Thatcher and the Continent (April 8)
Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa: Zimbabweans react to Thatcher's death (April 8)
Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: On Thatcher, What's the Difference Between PBS & Fox News? (April 9)
Linton Kwesi Johnson, Huffington Post: Thatcher and the Inner City Riots
New York Times: Under Thatcher, Some South Asians in Britain Embraced Militancy (April 8)
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Not a 'quota woman' (April 10)
Noah Rothman, Mediaite: The Incredible Insensitivity Of Sending Martin Bashir To Cover Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral
Raphael Satter, Huffington Post: BBC Faces Controversy Over Airing Of Anti-Thatcher Hit 'Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead' (April 12)
Kunbi Tinuoye, the Grio: Black Britons have mixed feelings about Margaret Thatcher legacy
John Yearwood, Miami Herald: Humility, compassion under Margaret Thatcher’s iron-fisted persona
Gary Younge, the Nation: How Did Margaret Thatcher Do It? (April 9)
Dave Zirin, the Nation: Why Would Anyone Celebrate the Death of Margaret Thatcher? Ask a Chilean (April 9)
Bryant Gumbel closed his HBO program, "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel," with this tribute on Tuesday:
"Finally tonight, a personal note. Like millions of Americans, I'm applauding last night's 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. But for admittedly selfish reasons, some of them obvious and some not so much.
"Since success has many fathers, there's praise aplenty on this anniversary — for Jackie, his wife Rachel, and of course for Branch Rickey. But indulge me for giving the lion's share of my personal applause to a relatively forgotten hero named Wendell Smith.
"It was Smith, a sportswriter for the now-defunct Pittsburgh Courier who made black opportunity in the majors a personal crusade. It was Smith who brought Robinson to the attention of Branch Rickey. And it was Smith who co-wrote Jackie's autobiography and documented his exploits in the crucial days that led to greater integration of the game.
"More importantly to me, it was Smith, who in 1964 became a local sports anchor with WGN-TV in Chicago — the first person of color in a position of authority ever seen on television by yours truly, who at the time was an impressionable sports-minded teenager on the south side of the city. Given my limited skill set, I knew back then that while I couldn't be a Jackie Robinson, I could become a Wendell Smith. Of such small occasions are big dream borne, and memories made, some of which still linger.”
Two columnists writing for the National Sports Journalism Center — Ed Sherman and Eric Deggans — argued that the "42" film, which finished first at the box office last weekend, does not give Smith his due.
Yvette Carnell, Your Black World: Why I Won’t be Going to See the Jackie Robinson Movie '42'
Eric Deggans, National Sports Journalism Center: 42 falls short in portraying integral role of sportswriter Smith in Robinson's rise
Marshall Fine, Daily News, New York: Wendell Smith plays 'Jackie Robinson of sportwriters' in '42' (April 10)
J.R. Gamble, the Shadow League: The "Jackie Robinson Day" Elephant In The Room
Stefen Lovelace, the Grio: Jackie Robinson changed baseball with his play, too (April 12)
Omar Mazariego, the Shadow League: Reel Talk: "42" Beats The Odds, Is Much More Than The "Typical Black Movie"
Darryl E. Owens, Orlando Sentinel: '42' reminds us Sanford, U.S. haven't crossed home on race
Kevin Powell, CNN: It's Jackie Robinson Day, but black boys no longer dream of playing baseball
David Protess, Huffington Post: Race in Baseball: A Fan's Journey From Ebbets to Wrigley
Ed Sherman, National Sports Journalism Center: Smith’s role in Robinson's rise created the 42 legacy
Lilly Workneh, the Grio: '42' tops box office: Are more feel good black films on the way?
"Don't look now cable operators, but multicultural viewers are increasingly using over-the-top services to access their favorite Tv shows and movies," R. Thomas Umstead reported Tuesday for Multichannel News.
"Nearly 85% of African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American viewers have access to services such as Netflix, Hulu and Roku, and 46% of all urban viewers use such services on a weekly basis, according to new data from Horowitz Associates' Focus Latino 2013 report.
"Hispanics are on the front end of that trend, with more than half (56%) using OTT services on a weekly basis, according to Horowitz. Further, among 18-24 year old Hispanics, OTT penetration is a whopping 96%, with viewers in the demo using such services an eye-popping 86% on a weekly basis. . . ."
New CNN President Jeff Zucker spoke before the Atlanta Press Club Monday, his first such talk since he began his new job "exactly three months ago today," Maria Saporta wrote for Atlanta Business Chronicle.
She added, "In a particularly sensitive exchange, Zucker was asked about the recent departure of two African-American CNN brands — Soledad O'Brien and the Roland Martin — and whether the network was committed to diversity.
Zucker said that CNN had just hired five correspondents and four of them were 'diverse.'
"Long-time television anchor Monica Pearson called out from the back of the room how many of them were black. Zucker answered that two of them were African Americans. . . ."
Zucker hired Michaela Pereira as a newsreader for his new morning show, promoted George Howell to full-time correspondent and hired Alina Machado. Howell and Pereira are black.
Terri Thornton, PBS MediaShift: CNN's Jeff Zucker Talks Social Media, Considers Native Ads
"An estimated 70,000 people have been killed in Mexico's brutal drug-cartel wars over the past six years," Reed Johnson wrote last week in the Los Angeles Times.
"Those costs are horrific enough. But there are also collateral damages, including a precipitous drop-off in tourism that has dented Mexico's otherwise robust economy; a chilling effect on the Mexican media, which faces constant threats, kidnappings and worse from the warring cartels; and frequent indifference or ineptitude from the country's legal authorities.
"That lamentable combination has led international press-rights groups to name Mexico the world's most dangerous place to be a reporter in years past — even worse than Iraq or Afghanistan. Dozens of Mexican journalists have been among the drug violence's victims, and virtually all of their killers are still at large because the nation's legal system generally fails to identify, let alone prosecute, the assassins.
"Playwright Marcela Toledo dramatizes that disturbing situation in her first play, 'Silenced Screams,' which will premiere this weekend at the Arena Theatre of Cal State Los Angeles. The play is one of four works written and performed by MFA candidates in theater, film and television.
" 'Silenced Screams' takes place in a Mexico City newsroom and focuses on two newspaper crime reporters, Libertad and Hermes. Toledo, a professional journalist herself, has worked for newspapers, magazines and radio stations on both sides of the border. . . ."
Javier Manzano, who won the 2013 Pulitzer prize for feature photography on Monday, is the first freelance photographer to win a Pulitzer in 17 years, Veronica Villafañe reported for her Media Moves site. "Born in Mexico, Javier immigrated to the U.S. when he was 18. A great portion of his work has focused on cross-border issues. . . ."
"Newspapers are still better at engaging audiences than any other form of media, according to a new Newspaper Association of America (NAA) survey conducted by Nielsen, and print newspaper advertising remains effective," Laura Hazard Owen reported for paidcontent.org. "With newspaper ad revenue plunging, though, the picture isn't as rosy as this survey makes it appear — and newspapers can do more, especially when it comes to social networking and mobile. . . ."
"Long the voice of black talk radio in Milwaukee, Eric Von has gone from the airwaves to cyberspace where he hopes to deliver a major punch in combating health disparities among African-American men," Tannette Johnson-Elie wrote last month for the Business Journal in Milwaukee. "The primary weapon in his arsenal: a newly launched website — Brain Brawn & Body — dedicated to the health and wellness of African-American men. . . ."
Michelle Johnson, an associate professor of practice in mulitmedia journalism at Boston University, has been named the National Association of Black Journalists' 2013 Journalism Educator of the Year, NABJ announced Wednesday. "Johnson has a legacy of being an effective team member and team leader. During her professional growth, Johnson reached back into the classroom to 'teach' as a NABJ Student Project mentor," NABJ said in a news release. It added, "Johnson's commitment extends to journalism organizations such as NABJ, including as past editor of the NABJ Journal; member of Boston Association of Black Journalists; founding national board member of the National Lesbian [&] Gay Journalists Association and co-founder of its New England chapter; and a member of the Online News Association." Johnson won the Barry Bingham Sr. fellowship last year from the Association of Opinion Journalists, awarded to an educator who has helped diversity.
While Nielsen ratings for the week of April 1-7 showed ABC's "Scandal" series drawing bigger crowds among African Americans than the NCAA Final Four games, and "The Voice" and several other shows outpacing basketball among Hispanics tuning into English-language programs, the following week showed different results. For April 8-14, the week of the championship final, the game was No. 1 among both groups.
April 18 is National Columnists Day, for reasons explained by Dave Lieber, then of the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas, in a 2009 column for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
"Al Jazeera has tapped veteran investigative journalist Ed Pound to lead the 16-person investigative unit at its new American cable channel, Al Jazeera America, the company said Monday," Keach Hagey reported for the Wall Street Journal. "Mr. Pound, 69 years old, joins Al Jazeera from his current job as communications director at Recovery.gov, a federal government website that tracks stimulus spending. . . ."
Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs, an independent journalist and former columnist at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, was interviewed by Anna Clark for the Columbia Journalism Review. A Plain Dealer watcher, Scruggs said the paper "isn't what it was, that's for sure. Not that it was perfect; the paper hasn't covered poverty or minority affairs well at all. Still, the Plain Dealer is too big to ignore because it sets the news agenda for the region. Its future isn't clear. . . . "
In Boston, "WGBH general manager Marita Rivero will step down in June after 30 years in various roles at the Boston public broadcaster, WGBH said Friday," Chris Reidy wrote Friday for the Boston Globe. He added, "In a press release, WGBH said that Rivero is responsible for WGBH's signature programs and community initiatives, including the global news program The World on 89.7-FM, and Greater Boston, Basic Black and High School Quiz Show on WGBH 2. . . ."
On HuffPost LatinoVoices, Michele Serros, author of "How to Be a Chicana Role Model," explained "How Jonathan Winters Helped Me Find My Inner Latina Angst."
Dori J. Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, came to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to speak about "Why Diversity Matters to White People" alongside Alicia Shepard, former NPR ombudsman and current visiting professor, Alexis Rosa reported Tuesday for the Rebel Yell, the student newspaper. Michelle Rivas, 20, "came into the lecture thinking it was going to be like the others she had previously attended. She thought she could sit there for the hour and leave with the extra credit. Instead, she left with a whole new perspective on why diversity is important to journalists. She now thinks more teachers and presenters should talk about touchier subjects to get students interested and aware. . . ."
A journalism conference, "Covering Suburban Poverty," is scheduled Sept. 26 and 27 at Hofstra University School of Communication on Long Island, N.Y., in cooperation with the National Center for Suburban Studies. "From 2000 to 2010, poverty grew almost five times faster in the suburbs of major cities than in the cities themselves, according to researchers at the Brookings Institute. USA Today has called the suburbs the new 'ground zero for poverty and
hunger.' " Application.
In Venezuela, "The opposition's decision to dispute ruling party candidate Nicolás Maduro's very narrow victory in last Sunday's presidential election has heightened concern about the effects of the Venezuelan media's extreme polarization," Reporters Without Borders said on Tuesday. "The demonstrations that have been held or will soon be held in various parts of the country are reinforcing the already considerable dangers for journalists and freedom of information. . . ."
Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday it "roundly condemns the draconian directive that China's media regulator — the General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television — issued yesterday banning the Chinese media from using unauthorized information from foreign media and websites. . . ."
The Committee to Project Journalists said Wednesday it "condemns a recent decision by the Nigerian government to ban the exhibition and distribution of a documentary film on corruption in the state's management of oil wealth, 'Fuelling Poverty.' In an April 8 ruling reviewed by CPJ, the federal government-run National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) called the contents of the 30-minute film by Ishaya Bako, 'highly provocative and likely to incite or encourage public disorder and undermine national security.' . . . "
In Brazil, newspaper photographer Walgney Assis Carvalho was killed Sunday in the municipality of Coronel Fabriciano, Vale do Aço, in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, press-freedom groups said Tuesday. "The fourth journalist to be murdered this year in Brazil, Carvalho was gunned down just one month after Rodrigo Neto de Feria, who worked for the same newspaper, Vale do Aço," according to Reporters Without Borders.
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.