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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Detroit Free Press’ Stephen Henderson Out After Harassment Investigation

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  • Pulitzer Prize Winner Says He Is ‘Stunned’
  • Nonblack Press Corps Didn’t See Blacks Coming
  • Net Neutrality Fight Not Over, Despite FCC Vote
  • Sulzberger Diversity Pledges Not Always Realized
  • Many Trump Aides ‘Never Worked with Minorities’
  • Walmart, Book Distributor Now Wary of Smiley
  • ONA Forms Network of Newsrooms Aiding Diversity
  • Mich. Projects Funded for ‘Journalism Engagement’
  • Telemundo Offering Special Coverage of Puerto Rico
  • Getahn Ward, Nashville Reporter, Dies at 45
  • Journal-isms Receives Two Foundation Grants
  • Short Takes

Pulitzer Prize Winner Says He Is ‘Stunned’

Stephen Henderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning managing director of opinion and commentary at the Detroit Free Press, was terminated on Friday, Peter Bhatia, Free Press editor and vice president, announced, the newspaper reported.


Henderson, 47, who also has a daily Detroit radio show and a weekly television show, is one of the most celebrated African Americans leading a mainstream editorial page. In 2014, he was the National Association of Black Journalists’ Journalist of the Year.

“At a Dec. 6 press conference, Detroit minister W.J. Rideout III mentioned Henderson and two other members of the local media as individuals who had engaged in acts of sexual harassment.


“Rideout did not cite any evidence or specifics about Henderson and this week the minister’s radio show was suspended over that lack of evidence. The Free Press immediately launched an investigation and subsequently uncovered examples of inappropriate behavior by Henderson with female colleagues dating back several years,” according to the Free Press account.

Reached by the Detroit News via Facebook, Henderson said he was “stunned,” Kim Kozlowski reported for the News.


“I dedicated 18 years to this newspaper over three decades, all of it performing at the highest level,” Henderson said. “I may have more to say on this later, but for now, there is much other work to be done here in the city of Detroit.”

The Free Press said, “Gannett, owner of the Free Press, released this statement: ‘Effective today, Stephen Henderson will no longer be employed by the Detroit Free Press. The decision was made after an internal investigation was conducted which uncovered credible allegations that Mr. Henderson’s behavior has been inconsistent with company values and standards.’


Its account continued, “Henderson won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2014 for his columns in the Free Press. He worked at the Free Press from 1994-96 as an editorial writer and reporter and returned to the Free Press in 2007. He has worked as a journalist since his graduation from the University of Michigan in 1992.

“ ‘This is a devastatingly sad day for us at the Free Press. Stephen is a magnificent journalist and a treasured colleague who has done so much for Detroit,’ said Bhatia. He said, however, that the incidents involving inappropriate behavior and comments directed at Free Press employees were counter to company policies and practices. There were no accusations or evidence of sexual assault. . . .”


Bill Shea reported for Crain’s Detroit Business, “Henderson has hosted a weekday talk show on WDET 101.9 FM since 2015. ‘Based on the information currently available, WDET does not see cause to terminate Stephen Henderson’s contract at this time,’ General Manager Michelle Srbinovich told Crain’s in an email. ‘ ... WDET will conduct an independent, station-wide investigation to ensure that our staff has the opportunity to share their concerns and report any incidents that require further examination. Any situation that compromises university policies will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.’

“He also has hosted a weekly talk show, ‘American Black Journal,’ and has been co-host of the weekly news wrap-up show ‘MiWeek.’ They air on Detroit Public Television.


Marty Fischhoff, the station’s director of communications and community engagement, said the two shows would be placed on hiatus until ‘probably the end of the year.’

“ ‘We don’t have any independent information, so we need to conduct our own investigation,’ he said. . . .”


Paul Anger, then editor and publisher of the Free Press, said in 2014, “As Editorial Page Editor of the Detroit Free Press, Henderson has become Detroit’s voice. He has been both a voice of reason and a champion for residents who, through no fault of their own, have been saddled with unacceptable services, corrupt leadership and, now, the city’s historic bankruptcy — the largest municipal bankruptcy ever. Through a year of massive change for the city, Henderson has been a leader in pushing for the most important result of this bankruptcy — improving the lives of Detroiters.”

NABJ said at the time, “In addition to writing about the city of Detroit, he also penned columns about Michigan state politics, national politics and other domestic policy matters. In 2013, Henderson focused at length on Detroit’s efforts to overcome financial turmoil and to rebuild itself as one of America’s greatest cities. Henderson, however, did not solely focus his writing on local issues but he also took up writing about issues with national implications such as health care, the government shutdown and educational inequality.


“ ‘Stephen Henderson’s career has been one marked by incisive, detailed reporting about politics, policy and urban affairs,’ NABJ President Bob Butler said. ‘As an editorial writer and columnist, Stephen has a unique voice which helps punctuate his arguments and compels readers to seriously reflect on the issues facing them locally, nationally and globally, often motivating them to seek solutions to the problems discussed.’ “

Jenn Abelson, Boston Globe: At ESPN, the problems for women run deep

Tom Cleary, Marc Watts: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Jill Goldsmith, NYPR taps outside experts to investigate harassment claims, advise on newsroom culture


Joe Pompeo, Vanity Fair: “We Know the Difference Between a Glenn and a Matt Laurer”: Inside the New York Times, the Glenn Thrush Scandal Is a Sex-Reckoning Test Case


Nonblack Press Corps Didn’t See Blacks Coming

In the aftermath of Democrat Doug Jones’ upset victory over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, African American voters — especially African American women — are being credited with saving the day for Jones. Exit polling showed 98 percent of black women voting for the Democrat.


No one in the press corps, apparently, saw them coming.

If there was a story line about black voters before the election, it was whether they would turn out. Sherrel Stewart of public radio station WBHM-FM in Birmingham, reported on Dec. 6, “If he has a chance at defeating conservative Republican Roy Moore in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate election, Democrat Doug Jones needs lots of votes, especially from African Americans. But some in the black community say it’ll take more than a history of prosecuting the KKK members responsible for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing to energize them. . . .”


Stewart was one of the few black journalists reporting on the contest. By and large, that story was assigned to others.

Sheila Tyson, a member of the Birmingham City Council who is Alabama convener of the nonpartisan National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, had turning out the black vote as her mission. Of the reporters, “They were all foreign people and white people,” she told Journal-isms, “From France and stuff. Canada. Most people came in from out of state.” She heard from Vanessa Williams of the Washington Post, who is black, but Williams was writing a nonelection story.


Tyson said that, “no one covered us and what we were doing.” If they had, “they would have seen how we were going up to Wilcox County,” where 72.5 percent of the population is black, or Greene County, 81.5 percent black, or to other rural areas.

Black people, she said, were hungry for change.

“You got to have the ‘want,’ Tyson said by telephone. “You got to ‘want’ this. We’re being ignored too much. Just like women. Don’t keep us standing out in the rain.”


The news media did catch on after the election.

Carissa Crayton, who canvassed for Jones and worked for a Hillary Clinton-affiliated polling firm during the 2016 campaign, said the majority of people she saw working the polls and voting at historically black Alabama State University, where she cast her ballot, were black women,” Julia Craven wrote Wednesday for HuffPost Black Voices.


“ ‘We did put in a lot of hard work. We hit the ground running and we did the work that it took to get Doug elected,’ Crayton said. ‘People shouldn’t disregard that and just think … we saved the day without doing any hard work, that we just magically went out and voted and that that’s all we did.

“ ‘Don’t just overlook the hard work that we did,’ she added. ‘Don’t overlook the hard work that we’ve been doing.’ . . .”


Audra D. S. Burch, New York Times: The #MeToo Moment: After Alabama, Black Women Wonder, What’s Next?

Mary C. Curtis, Roll Call: The Commandments According to Roy Moore Take a Hit

Renée Graham, Boston Globe: Roy Moore lost, but his noxious vision rides on

David Greene, NPR: Jones Victory Credited To African-American Voters

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Huffington Post: Jones Victory Sends Message to Democrats, Ignore The Black Vote and Lose


Roy S. Johnson, For one stunning night, we were Ala-black-ma

Roy S. Johnson, Charles Barkley to DNC: ‘We’re black 365 days of the year’


Britt Julious, Esquire: Black Women Defeated Roy Moore, and the Country Is Better for It

Nilo Tabrizy and Chris Cirillo, New York Times: Voices From Alabama: Black Women Who Voted for Doug Jones (video)


Barnett Wright, Birmingham Times: ‘Power of the sister’ vote made the difference for Doug Jones

Net Neutrality Fight Not Over, Despite FCC Vote

The United States is about to go to war with itself over net neutrality,Tony Romm reported Thursday for


“In the hours after the Trump administration scrapped rules that required internet providers to treat all web traffic equally, a handful of states mobilized in a bid to reverse the decision by the Federal Communications Commission in court — or perhaps write their own new regulations as a replacement.

“To start, a coalition of state attorneys general, led by New York, pledged on Thursday that they would sue the FCC to stop its rollback from taking place. Meanwhile, policymakers in at least two states — California and Washington — said they’d try on their own to prevent companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast* and Verizon from blocking websites, slowing down web traffic or prioritizing their movies, music and other content above their rivals’ offerings.


“Legislating is an especially fraught, difficult proposition. The order adopted by the FCC on Thursday doesn’t just kill the existing net neutrality rules — it explicitly seeks to override local policymakers from pursuing their own laws. And the FCC’s Republicans on Thursday signaled that they’d vigorously pursue any states that tried that anyway. . . .”

The asterisk refers to a footnote, “* Comcast, through its NBCU arm, is an investor in Vox Media, which owns this website.”


Editorial, Dallas Morning News: The FCC should keep net neutrality and preserve the core principles of the internet

NAACP: NAACP Denounces FCC Vote to End Net Neutrality

National Hispanic Media Coalition: What Does Net Neutrality Do For Me? (June 19)

Nilay Patel, the Verge: Ajit Pai just handed Republicans a bag of shit

Statements from FCC members

Pam Vogel, Media Matters for America: Net neutrality dies in silence as morning shows largely ignore FCC’s vote


Sulzberger Diversity Pledges Not Always Realized

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the New York Times who once declared that ensuring greater racial, gender and sexual-orientation diversity at the paper was “the single most important issue” facing the Times, is stepping down.


He is turning over the publisher’s job to his son, Arthur Gregg (A.G.) Sulzberger, who is 37, the Times announced on Thursday.

The ascension of the younger Mr. Sulzberger, who is known as A. G., comes just over a year after he was named deputy publisher of The Times,” Sydney Ember reported Thursday in the Times.


“The New York Times Company’s board voted in favor of the move during a meeting on Thursday.

“The elder Mr. Sulzberger, 66, who will stay on as chairman of The New York Times Company, has been the publisher since 1992.


“ ‘This isn’t a goodbye,’ Mr. Sulzberger said in a note to Times employees on Thursday. ‘But, beginning in the new year, the grand ship that is The Times will be A. G.’s to steer.’ . . .”

Sulzberger was frequently seen at conventions of the journalists-of-color associations and during times of turmoil among the paper’s owners, was said to be more popular at those conventions than at the Times.


Sulzberger said in a 1994 interview, “Increasingly, any middle or senior manager’s or any employee’s advancement is going to depend on how he or she deals with these fundamental issues” of managed diversity.

Early on, he announced that one no longer had to be in high society to warrant a Times wedding announcement, and in 2002, on Sulzberger’s watch, the society pages changed policy to report same-sex unions, then mostly “commitment” ceremonies or civil unions.


Sulzberger weathered the Jayson Blair scandal of 2003, in which the young African American reporter’s fabricated stories led to the resignation of the paper’s top editor, Howell Raines, and managing editor, the late Gerald Boyd, the first African American in the position.

In 2006, a 10-month study from a New York Times Diversity Council found that no evidence connected Blair’s transgressions to the diversity efforts then in place at the Times, but that the perception of such a link still lingered: “[in] the minds of many, however, Mr. Blair remains an example of newspaper diversity run amok.”


The Council also said of the Times, “If it fails to diversify its work force and to make attendant changes in its corporate culture, the Times will inevitably lose stature.”

In 2014, many female journalists were upset when Sulzberger fired Jill Abramson, the paper’s first female top editor.


Sulzberger quickly appointed the Times’ first African American editor in Dean Baquet, and the same year he married Gabrielle Elise Greene, a partner in an investment firm who is also African American.

The young publisher took diversity seriously,” as Paul Delaney recalled in a February piece for Columbia Journalism Review.


However, Sulzberger’s intentions did not always translate into action. In 2016, Daniel Simpson, companywide senior manager for diversity and campus programs, told Journal-isms, “Lack of sincerity on diversity was a key factor in me leaving” that year.

Last year, two black female employees on the business side filed a multimillion-dollar class action lawsuit alleging that Mark Thompson, president and CEO of the Times, introduced a culture of “deplorable discrimination” based on age, race and gender at the newspaper.


A year ago Sunday, public editor Liz Spayd wrote a blistering column about the Times newsroom headlined, “Preaching the Gospel of Diversity, but Not Following It.

The following May, Sulzberger announced the Times was ending the public editor’s position, saying it had become outdated.


Ember’s story in the Times did not address diversity. “Best known for heading the team that produced The Times’s ‘innovation report’ in 2014, A. G. Sulzberger will be the sixth member of the Ochs-Sulzberger family to serve as publisher since its patriarch, Adolph S. Ochs, purchased the paper in a bankruptcy sale in 1896,” the story said.

Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha did not respond to a request for comment.


Many Trump Aides ‘Never Worked With Minorities’

“When asked how many African American senior staffers remain at the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says, ‘I don’t have a number directly in front of me… but I can say again we have a very diverse team.’ ” (video) NBC News reported Thursday.


NBC’s Kristen Welker asked the question a day after Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former reality-TV star who joined President Trump’s White House as one of his most prominent African American supporters, resigned under pressure.

Her departure, “on the day that black voters helped catapult Democrat Doug Jones to an upset victory in the Senate race in Alabama, highlighted perhaps a more worrisome issue for the White House and the Republican Party heading into a midterm election year — the stark lack of diversity in Trump’s administration and the GOP’s diminishing appeal to minority communities,” Vanessa Williams and David Nakamura reported Wednesday for the Washington Post.


On ABC-TV’s “Nightline,” Manigault Newman, communications director in the Office of Liaison, said it “was very lonely” working alongside Trump’s other senior advisers — the majority of them white — who “had never worked with minorities, didn’t know how to interact with them.”

Meanwhile, “Manigault Newman clapped back at Robin Roberts after the Good Morning America host took a dig at her on Thursday’s show, telling Inside Edition that her comments were ‘petty’ and akin to ‘a black woman civil war,Jayme Deerwester reported Thursday for USA Today.


“The White House public liaison and assistant to the president, who is leaving her post on Jan. 20, had told GMA’s Michael Strahan, ‘When I can tell my story — and it is a profound story — I know the world will want to hear.’

“Later, a skeptical Roberts commented, ‘She said she has a story to tell? I’m sure she’ll be selling that story.’


“Then she invoked Friday’s classic two-word dismissal for persons unlikely to be missed by anyone: ‘Bye, Felicia.’

“For anyone unfamiliar with the expression, we’ll let its inventor, Ice Cube, explain: ‘It’s the phrase to get ANYBODY out of your face that’s saying something stupid. . . .”


Krissah Thompson, Washington Post: ‘Dumbest story ever’: How Omarosa’s reality-star exit from the White House hijacked the news.

Walmart, Book Distributor Now Wary of Smiley

Walmart and a book distributor distanced themselves from Tavis Smiley on Thursday after PBS said an investigation found ‘troubling allegations’ of misconduct by the radio and TV host,” the Associated Press reported on Friday.


“The moves came a day after PBS said it was suspending Smiley following an independent investigation by a law firm. PBS said the firm uncovered ‘multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.’ His show’s page at PBS was scrubbed on Thursday.

Smiley has denied any wrongdoing.

“Walmart, which had been a sponsor of Smiley’s talk show and an upcoming touring theatrical show, cut ties with him. ‘We take these issues very seriously and are troubled by the recent allegations,’ the retail giant said in a statement. ‘As a result, we are suspending our relationship with Mr. Smiley, pending the outcome of the PBS investigation.’


“Hay House, which distributes the Smiley Books imprint, said all Smiley projects were ‘on hold’ pending an internal review. Smiley had planned in September to release ‘Leading by Listening: Connecting through Conversation to Transform Your Relationships and Your Business.’ . . . .”

ONA Forms Network of Newsrooms Aiding Diversity

ONA is organizing an open network of newsrooms who are deeply committed to diversifying their organizations through mentorship programs,” the Online News Association announced on Thursday in explaining its Journalism Mentorship Collaborative.


“It is free to join! . . .

“Members of the ONA community have often cited the lack of diversity in newsrooms as one of the biggest challenges in journalism. Newsrooms need clarity on mentorship, training, retention and more. The Collaborative’s goal is to make newsrooms more inclusive by sharing best practices and fresh ideas on mentorship programs. The benefits of joining include:

Access to a community of independent newsrooms looking to enhance inclusive mentoring opportunities.


Opportunity to participate in a series of live, monthly webinars, running February through July 2018, focused on improving newsroom mentorship programs. Specifics will be released early next year, but the topics will generally cover:

— What is mentoring? What is sponsoring?

— Human resources

— Creating professional relationships

— Measuring outcomes

— Being an ally

— Having hard conversations; talking across difference

Resources for best practices in journalism mentorship, developed by a team of six dedicated experts exclusively for this program.


The opportunity to apply for funding for your mentorship program, which includes a fellowship with ONA, from a pool of $125,000. Details to be announced in January.

Showing the world that your organization is making investments in diverse talent and working to solve the industry-wide challenge of a lack of diversity in newsrooms. . . .”


Mich. Projects Funded for ‘Journalism Engagement’

Six projects, involving collaborations between 13 southeast Michigan organizations, will receive $322,000 from the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund to increase quality journalism and help better inform communities,” the fund announced Monday.


“This is the first round of support awarded by the fund, which focuses on addressing issues of civic concern through innovative approaches to reporting and community engagement.

“The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, in partnership with the Ford Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. It aims to strengthen local coverage with a mix of different projects and approaches and is designed to help journalists involve community residents in the reporting process.


“The fund also seeks to support regular workshops and convenings of media partners and grantees to exchange best practices and learn about other successful journalism and engagement models that might be replicated in Detroit. . . .”

The projects include:

“– $100,000 to the Michigan Chronicle, in partnership with ARISE Detroit, to implement a citizen journalism program in three Detroit neighborhoods to cover the lives of residents. . . .”


“– $74,000 to Outlier Media, in partnership with Investigative Reporters and Editors, to expand Outlier Media’s operation to target an additional 100,000 Detroiters with information about utility costs and initiatives, and to offer these residents the opportunity to work with journalists to have their information needs around these issues met. . . .

“– $50,000 to WDET, in partnership with City Bureau, to pilot an approach to increase engagement in and coverage of public body meetings in the Detroit area with the assistance of Detroit residents trained and acting as citizen journalists. . . .


“– $48,000 to Detroit Public Television, in partnership with Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) and the University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Community Study, to develop content for DPTV’s “Other Detroit” series. . . .

“– $30,000 to Riverwise Magazine, in partnership with the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center for Nurturing Community Leadership, to support the creation of journalism workshops to assist and encourage community members to write for the magazine. . . .


“– $20,000 to Tostada Magazine, in partnership with Allied Media Projects, to support stories written by journalists of color focusing on the region’s food system. . . .”

Telemundo Offering Special Coverage of Puerto Rico

Telemundo has announced special news coverage on the conditions in Puerto Rico three months after Hurricane Maria to air Wednesday, Dec. 20, on “Al Rojo Vivo con María Celeste” at 4 p.m. Eastern time, 3 p.m. Central, and the “Noticias Telemundo” newscast at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, 5:30 p.m. Central.


“This special coverage will be led by ‘Al Rojo Vivo’ host María Celeste Arrarás and Noticias Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart on-site in Puerto Rico, and will also be available via and Noticias Telemundo’s mobile app and Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp properties. . . .”

Elizabeth Elizalde, Daily News, New York/Viva: New York City groups are helping to bring Puerto Rico out of the dark


Arelis R. Hernández, Whitney Leaming and Zoeann Murphy, Washington Post: Life Without Power


Getahn Ward, Nashville Reporter, Dies at 45

Getahn Ward, a tenacious longtime business reporter at The Tennessean and Tennessee State University professor who became a beloved community and church leader in Nashville after immigrating from war-torn Liberia, died Saturday at his Nashville home after a brief illness,” Joey Garrison and Nate Rau reported Saturday for the Tennessean.


“Ward was 45.

“Ward, who joined The Tennessean in 1998 after previously working at the shuttered Nashville Banner, was a bulldog of a reporter, most recently on the real estate beat. He was relentless in his craft, more than happy to pester his sources or tick off PR professionals — ‘flacks,’ he called them — if it meant landing a scoop.


“He loved every part of reporting a story, especially when it meant prying information he wasn’t supposed to know. . . .”

The National Association of Black Journalists added:

“Ward presently served as parliamentarian of NABJ’s Nashville chapter and was known for his boisterous support of the chapter’s student scholarship efforts.


“ ‘Getahn’s passing comes as a tremendous shock, and our chapter is deeply heartbroken. He was a driving force for mentorship, service, and progress in the Nashville community and a longtime pillar in our chapter,’ Hayley Mason, chapter president,” said. . . .”

Journal-isms Receives Two Foundation Grants

Journal-isms Inc., created last year as a nonprofit corporation to publish Journal-isms and conduct related activities, has received grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which promotes children’s issues, and the Herb Block Foundation, which carries forward the legacy of the late Washington Post editorial cartoonist.


Of the $7,500 grant from the Casey Foundation, Norris West, director of strategic communications, said this week, “The Casey Foundation’s mission is to create a brighter future for all children, and we believe that journalists of color are uniquely positioned to tell stories about the obstacles faced by kids who are most vulnerable.

“We believe that Journal-isms’ reporting on media diversity encourages newsrooms to hire and promote journalists whose experiences bring insight to issues that affect all children, including kids of color.’ “


Clarence Page, syndicated columnist and member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board, said of the Herb Block Foundation’s $5,000 contribution, “As a member of the Herb Block Foundation board, I am allocated a certain amount of discretionary funds each year that I can donate to non-profit organizations of my choice.

“I chose to designate this gift to ‘Journal-isms’ in recognition of your unique, valuable and outstanding coverage of diversity issues in news media. Best wishes — and happy holidays.”


Journal-isms continues to accept contributions on its “Go Fund Me” page.

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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.Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince at
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