The story that created so much buzz at week's end started at a 22,000-circulation newspaper in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and the ABC-TV affiliate in nearby Spokane, Wash. It was about Rachel Dolezal, the president of the Spokane NAACP who claimed that she was African American but whose parents say she actually is white.
"What began as a local story in the inland northwest has grown into a worldwide phenomenon," Melissa Luck, executive producer at KXLY-TV in Spokane, wrote on the station's website Friday. "For nearly 24 hours, #RachelDolezal has been trending on Twitter, even outpacing the NBA Finals during Thursday night's game.
"Just after noon on Friday, there were more than 300,000 tweets posted with that hashtag. The subject was trending worldwide, with a mix of anger and humor about the Spokane NAACP president claiming to be black, despite her birth certificate proving she was born to white parents in Montana. . . . "
"It was kind of two parallel investigations," KXLY news director Jerry Post told Journal-isms by telephone on Friday. "The Coeur d'Alene Press had one, and we had one as well."
In a story posted Thursday headlined, "Black Like Me?" Jeff Selle and Maureen Dolan wrote in the Coeur d'Alene Press, "Dolezal's application for appointment to Spokane's new police ombudsman commission was signed by Dolezal and submitted in May 2014. The application was acquired by The Press through a public record request.
"According to Spokane City spokesman Brian Coddington, Dolezal was appointed to the Police Oversight Committee by the mayor himself. In April 2014, the city held two public workshops to consider how the oversight committee should be formed, Coddington said.
" 'Once that was done, job descriptions were written and we began recruiting applicants,' he said.
"Coddington said the selection committee was formed in May that year and a decision was made based on community input to do very limited background checks on the applicants.
" 'The community wanted diversity and limited background checks,' Coddington said, explaining that the committee didn't want to deter applicants who may have had a misstep or two in their past. 'The low level background checks were intentional.'
"On the application for the oversight committee is a section to declare ethnicity. On Dolezal's application, she indicated that she was white, African-American, Native American and two or more races.
"While ethnicity was not a criterion for selection, Coddington said it was certainly taken into account. . . ."
The reporters also wrote, " 'It is very disturbing that she has become so dishonest,' said Dolezal's mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, in a phone interview from Northwest Montana, where Dolezal grew up.. . . "
Meanwhile, Justin Wm. Moyer reported Friday for the Washington Post, "Earlier this week, KXLY4 asked Dolezal about a photo posted to the NAACP chapter's Facebook page of a black man identified as Dolezal's father.
" 'I was wondering if your dad really is an African American man,' Jeff Humphrey of KXLY4 asked Dolezal.
" 'That's a very … I mean, I don't know what you’re implying,' Dolezal said.
" 'Are you African American?' Humphrey said.
" 'I don't understand the question,' Dolezal said. She walked off-camera as Humphrey asked: 'Are your parents, are they white?'
"Dolezal did not return requests for comment. . . ."
Luck reported Friday for KXLY, "The Spokane Police department confirmed late Friday [it's] suspending all investigations involving Rachel Dolezal, including the investigation into hate mail that showed up in the post office box of Spokane's NAACP. The department says there are no new leads to follow in any of the cases.
"Rachel Dolezal reported finding an envelope with hateful messages in the Rosewood post office box in February. In the police report, Dolezal told detectives she 'had been accosted by various racist groups in the past because of her role with the NAACP.' However, a public records request filed by KXLY yields no complaints about specific racist groups in Spokane. She did report someone placing a noose on her property, but that was four years before she was elected president of the NAACP chapter.
"Police conducted an extensive investigation into the letters. The postal inspector told them the envelope was missing a barcode, proving it wasn't processed with the rest of the mail.
Luck also wrote, "KXLY4 first broke this part of the police investigation Wednesday. In an interview with Jeff Humphrey, Dolezal said she resented any implication she would have put that mail there herself. . . ."
[On Saturday, Jim Dalrymple II added for BuzzFeed:
["Melissa Luck, Executive Producer at KXLY, told BuzzFeed News Friday that her station was among those who saw race questions arise in comments sections over the years. But the people raising the questions also didn't come off as particularly credible.
[" 'A lot of people who would make those comments would make horribly racist comments too,” Luck said.
["BuzzFeed News also spoke with members of the Spokane community who mentioned hearing rumors about Dolezal’s race around town. The tipping point that lifted the story out of the comment sections and into the news came earlier this week, when a series of public records requests about Dolezal's harassment cases finally began to bear fruit.
["Luck said her station began filing records requests earlier this year, after Dolezal’s latest claims about a harassment case involving hate mail. The station was attempting to obtain police reports, and on Wednesday Luck learned that the Spokane Police Department was going to release the documents.
["While all of this was going on, a source also reached out to KXLY with photos of Dolezal's family and contact information. . . .]
These legal issues weren't what sparked the worldwide reaction. A headline on The Root summarized the perspective of many. "Twitter Reacts to How a NAACP Leader Bamboozled, Hoodwinked and Led People Astray About Her Race," it said.
On TVOne's "News One Now," Roland Martin, host and managing editor, began Friday's first segment with the Dolezal story. As a TV One summary said, "During the discussion today with panelists, Communications Strategists Ray Baker and Candice Tolliver Burns, and Washington Post Reporter Wesley Lowery, Martin sarcastically thanked Rachel Dolezal for revealing her true racial identity and ends the conversation by saying, 'America, guess what, I'm a white man. I'm a white man with a deep tan. I should be able to work at Fox News." (video; use password TVOneN1N).
On BuzzFeed, Tracy Clayton provided examples of the Twitter reaction and concluded, "This crazy story was truly the gift the kept on giving."
- Kara Brown, Jezebel: I Have Questions About That White Lady Who Maybe Pretended to Be Black
- Melanie Eversley, USA Today: Whites pass for black to gain empathy, experts say in wake of Dolezal case
- Kip Hill and David Wasson, Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.: Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal's claims about background disputed
- Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, National Journal: Former JET, Ebony Editor on Suspicion that Woman Passed for Black, Led NAACP Chapter
- Lonnae O'Neal, Washington Post: Spokane woman is a race chameleon of a different stripe
- Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press: Spokane examines Dolezal situation
- Krissah Thompson, Washington Post: Passing in reverse: What does an NAACP leader’s case say about race?
"ESPN's Jason Whitlock has been replaced as the head of TheUndefeated.com, the African-American-focused boutique site that he described as 'Black Grantland' when the company hired him in 2013, ESPN announced on Friday," Tony Manfred reported for Business Insider.
"The website, which has produced a handful of articles but is still not up and running, was expected to launch in summer 2015.
"Whitlock will remain at ESPN and his work will be featured 'across ESPN platforms.'
"Deadspin's Greg Howard wrote a scathing article about the site in April. It depicted an organization plagued by problems caused by Whitlock's managerial style. . . ."
Citing an ESPN press release, Manfred added, "Leon Carter — an experienced leader in journalism who officially joined the site in January after leading staffs at the New York Daily News and ESPNNewYork.com — will assume all day-to-day management of the site's editorial processes and personnel on an interim basis."
Richard Sandomir wrote in the New York Times, "In a statement, ESPN declined to say if anything specific happened recently to prompt the shift, or if it was that he lacked the managerial skills to run the site.
Nina Mandell quoted the statement in USA Today. " 'We are fully committed to hosting a site that is home to a deeper conversation about race and sports,' the statement said. 'Ultimately, we collectively determined that having Jason focus his time and energy solely on creating thought-provoking content — his hallmark — across various ESPN platforms will make our overall content even better. Additionally, Leon brings great perspective and experience to the site in his role. This is the best possible approach to present the strongest perspectives on these important topics.' "
"The news industry has been talking about diversity for decades, but the talk, many say, often has not been followed by action," James Geary,editor of Nieman Reports, wrote Thursday in a notice to alumni of the Nieman fellowship program.
" 'The needles never really seem to move,' says Nikole Hannah-Jones, a reporter covering racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine.
"In the new Nieman Reports cover package, reporters and editors discuss strategies for creating more inclusive newsrooms and how racially diverse staffs can improve coverage.
"Myrtle Beach Sun News columnist Issac Bailey writes an impassioned personal essay on facing a barrage of insults and racist comments following the election of [Barack] Obama in 2008. 'I'm tired of having to explain again and again — and again — that I'm capable of complex, rational thought concerning policy and politics in the age of Obama,' he writes.
"Susan Smith Richardson, editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter, argues for establishing a black beat: 'Changing the portrayal of African-Americans in the media can't be accomplished through occasional big projects about race; it requires a sophisticated and sustained effort over time.'
"Adriana Gallardo and Betsy O'Donovan of the Association of Independents in Radio look at how broadcasters are bringing more variety to the airwaves.
"In 'Why Newsroom Diversity Works,' Alicia W. Stewart explores how The Washington Post, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Asbury Park Press, and other news organizations are working to get diversity right.
"Plus, eight journalists across a range of media, including Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Sandra Clark of The Philadelphia Inquirer, discuss how newsroom diversity contributes to better coverage.
"Our hope is that these stories will spur important newsroom conversations. Please share them widely. The hashtag is #RaceAndReporting."
"While multiracial adults share some things in common, they cannot be easily categorized," according to a new Pew Research Center survey of 1,555 multiracial adults.
"Their experiences and attitudes differ significantly depending on the races that make up their background and how the world sees them. For example, multiracial adults with a black background — 69% of whom say most people would view them as black or African American — have a set of experiences, attitudes and social interactions that are much more closely aligned with the black community.
"A different pattern emerges among multiracial Asian adults; biracial white and Asian adults feel more closely connected to whites than to Asians. Among biracial adults who are white and American Indian — the largest group of multiracial adults — ties to their Native American heritage are often faint: Only 22% say they have a lot in common with people in the U.S. who are American Indian, whereas 61% say they have a lot in common with whites. . .
A news release Thursday began, "Majorities of multiracial adults are proud of their mixed racial background (60%) and feel their racial heritage has made them more open to other cultures (59%) . . . At the same time, a majority (55%) says they have been subjected to racial slurs or jokes, and about one-in-four (24%) have felt annoyed because people have made assumptions about their racial background. . . ."
It also said, "Among the findings:
"Not all adults with a mixed racial background consider themselves 'multiracial.' In fact, 61% do not. . . ."
"Racial identity can be fluid. About three-in-ten adults with a multiracial background say that they have changed the way they describe their race over the years. . . ."
"Multiracial Americans are younger — and strikingly so — than the country as a whole. . . ."
"Mixed-race couples and births of children who have a multiracial background have increased. . . ."
"Among multiracial adults, there's a spectrum of experiences with discrimination. Americans who are white and black or black and American Indian are far more likely to have been unfairly stopped by police or to have received poor service at a restaurant or other business than Americans who are white and Asian or white and American Indian."
"About two-thirds of Latinos say their Hispanic background is part of their racial background. . . ."
"The report is accompanied by two interactive features:
"We invited 10 multiracial Americans to share their experiences and perspectives with us on camera. Explore their views of race, identity, relationships and the future, along with interactive graphics.
"See how census race, ethnicity and origin categories have changed from 1790 to 2010."
Emil Guillermo, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Race Mixers Unite—Remember the Lovings, the Naims, and all the Asian bachelors past
"Chicago Public Media has canceled its locally produced weekday show The Afternoon Shift" as of June 5, laying off host Niala Boodhoo, who is also vice president for broadcast of the Asian American Journalists Association, Tyler Falk reported Friday for Current.org.
The station has shifted resources to its local morning talk program, "The Morning Shift," Falk continued.
"'We weren't seeing growth for Afternoon Shift,' said Ben Calhoun, CPM's director of content and programming. 'It's a hard time of the day for any show,' he said, adding that the show's staff was 'pushing it towards a stronger incarnation.' But the decision came down to the fact that 'the audience was telling us how they were feeling about it' by not tuning in.
Asked what she'd like to do next, Boodhoo told Journal-isms by email, "I'm grateful and fortunate enough to have a little time to choose what's right for me personally and professionally. My passion lies in bringing important, relevant stories to listeners — especially those that are easily overlooked. That is my priority and I’m looking for the right opportunity to do just that."
Douglas C. Lyons, an editorial writer at the South Florida SunSentinel, was laid off this week after working in the opinion section for 11 years, he told Journal- isms by telephone. Lyons was a senior editor and columnist, and from 1996 to 1998, was a staff writer at the paper.
Lyons said it was too soon to know what he would do next, saying, "It just depends on the opportunity."
He wrote on his LinkedIn page, "I've spent my time recently learning new skills in online media to go with a career of editing, reporting and writing. Am currently operating and managing the Sun-Sentinel editorial page blog, The Slant, and am working to improve that product.
"My overall goal is to blend journalism experience with online technology to eventually supervise an online news media operation."
Lyons was seminar director of the Minority Writers Seminar of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, now the Association of Opinion Journalists, and previously worked at Johnson Publishing Co., U.S. News & World Report, the Washington Post and the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y.
Editorial page editor Rosemary O'Hara could not be reached for comment.
Association of Opinion Journalists: AOJ Minority Writers Seminar
The 2015 Mirror Awards were presented at a midtown Manhattan luncheon on Thursday, offering "a mirror on those who cover the media," Lorraine Branham, dean of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, told the audience of about 250.
As this column reported in 2009, that mirror shows an overwhelmingly white media corps, in contrast to the colorful and diverse population on the streets outside the luncheon venue.
Dean Baquet, the first African American executive editor of the New York Times, accepted an award to the late David Carr, the Times' media columnist, for "impact, innovation and influence."
Asked about the nearly monochromatic character of the crowd, Baquet told Journal-isms by email on Friday, "This isn't a reflection of the Mirror Awards. Far from it. But whenever I'm in a gathering of the leaders of media I'm struck by the lack of diversity. It is stunning, given that we're supposed to be able to capture the culture, and how tough we can be on the rest of society. We have lots of work to do, and I include myself in the 'we.' "
It was not a reflection of the Mirror Awards "because the mirror awards just happened to be the forum," Baquet added. "it could have been any other media gathering. they invite the brass. it isn't their fault that the brass is all white and male."
Kristen Hare, Poynter Institute: Winners of Mirror Awards announced today
"The Miami Herald, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today were among the news organizations that won top honors in the annual Associated Press Media Editors' Journalism Excellence Awards," Angie Muhs reported for the organization on Wednesday.
Muhs also wrote, "In the new Community Engagement category, the Seattle Times was recognized in the large circulation entries, for its Education Lab, which used guest columns, live chats, public forums and other engagement forms to create a dialogue with the community about fixing public schools. The Alabama Media Group was a joint winner in that category for bringing together a range of voices to address the long history of problems in the state's prison system.
"The Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune was cited in the small circulation category for 'Newtown 100: A Legacy of Struggle and Triumph,' a series on an African-American community and its rich history, voices, successes and struggles.
"The broadcast winner in the Community Engagement category was Vermont Public Radio for its efforts to reach out to the public and let them tell how they had been affected by the state's heroin problem.
In addition, "The Los Angeles Times won the large circulation category in the International Perspective Awards for its 'Product of Mexico,' the story of poorly paid and badly treated migrant workers who harvest the produce for America's tables.
The article also said, "The Miami Herald won the 45th Annual Public Service Award in the large circulation category for 'Innocents Lost,' its investigation of child deaths because of abuse or neglect after Florida changed its policy and reduced the number of children in state care. The Herald also won the Best of Show award, sponsored by the APME Foundation, which carries a $1,500 prize. . . ."
"Tamir Rice is Cleveland's Man of the Year," Plain Dealer columnist Phillip Morris wrote on Friday.
"But let's not rush to rename a street in his honor. We still don't understand fully his emerging legacy.
"I recognize that many will find such a characterization of Tamir to be preposterous. Tamir was, after all, a boy. Furthermore, legions have concluded that Tamir, 12, was an emerging thug whose actions precipitated his own death. But let's pause for a moment to hear other voices. There's more to Tamir than meets the eye. Perhaps, we should listen. And, if we choose, learn.
"On Thursday, Cleveland Municipal Judge Ronald B. Adrine released his highly controversial, non-binding opinion that two police officers should be charged in the death of Tamir. About the same time, four black boys between the ages of 12 and 15 from the hardscrabble Hough neighborhood offered their own useful opinions of the case.
"The mere mention of Tamir's name made them reflective. I could see discomfort in their eyes as they discussed his untimely death. They repeatedly have seen the killing from last November on video. They each expressed extreme sadness for Tamir's mother.
"But here's what might surprise many:
"The boys — U'Asi Wright, 15, Brandon Hill, 13, Marco Hopper, 13, and Charles Poindexter, 12 — also expressed varying degrees of empathy for the police officers involved in the killing. They all had a surprisingly non-hostile view of the officers who responded to the 911 call that ended with Tamir dying on a playground. . . ."
Morris concluded, "In death, he has this nation talking about things that truly are important. His fate has mobilized many to commit themselves to making Cleveland a better place. If we listen closely, Tamir actually is capable of teaching this community a crucial lesson: All lives matter."
Stephen Benavides, Daily Kos: Woman Involved in Starting McKinney Pool Fight Placed on Administrative Leave by CoreLogic Inc.
Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: First they came for the Negroes….
Brandon Blackwell, Northeast Ohio Media Group: Judge finds probable cause for murder charge against officer who killed Tamir Rice
Arthur Browne, Daily News, New York: A history of blacks in NYPD blue: It all started with Samuel Battle
Olivia Cole, HuffPost BlackVoices: McKinney, Texas and the Hypervisible Invisibility of Black Children
Editorial, Dallas Morning News: Why are 120 still in jail weeks after Waco biker gang shootout?
Ashley Farmer, the Independent, Britain: McKinney video: If you're a black girl in America, being brutalised is just another part of growing up
David A. Love, theGrio.com: Texas pool party incident shows that Jim Crow's 'black codes' may still be in effect
Julianne Malveaux, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Time for Young People to Stop the Violence
Lonnae O’Neal, Washington Post: Are we all drowning in McKinney's pool troubles?
James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: Pastors are pushing the right buttons in McKinney
Torraine Walker, HuffPost BlackVoices: McKinney, Mississippi, and the Dangers of Celebrating While Black
"Jim Romenesko, a legendary media blogger considered a must-read among journalists, marked a kind of retirement Wednesday on his blog," Benjamin Mullin wrote Thursday for the Poynter Institute. "In a note to readers under a recent post, Romenesko appended a strikethrough to an announcement that he would be posting sporadically while on vacation, substituting 'retirement' for 'vacation.' The note also says his blog is no longer accepting sponsored posts or job ads. . . ."
"After years of leadership changes and funding deficits, NPR's new president and CEO says the public radio network has turned a corner and is positioning itself to grow its already sizable audience, along with its journalistic content and funding from donors," Brett Zongker reported Thursday for the Associated Press. Zongker also wrote, "For the first time in six years, NPR is set to break even financially in 2015 with its $190 million budget, [CEO Jarl] Mohn told a group of Associated Press journalists this week. . . ." In May 2014, NPR said it was projecting a deficit of $6.1 million in its current fiscal year, and the multicultural show "Tell Me More" was canceled to address some of the deficit.
"ABC News correspondent Brian Ross and NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez have been ordered to appear before a U.S. District Chief Judge next month following accusations they violated federal orders during their coverage of Dennis Hastert's arraignment Tuesday," Chris Ariens reported Friday for TVNewser. "Gutierrez was detained briefly and fined $50 for failure to obey posted signs inside the Dirksen [U.S. Courthouse]. He walked backwards through a magnetometer while trying to question the former Speaker of the House following his court appearance. . . ."
"First Lady Michelle Obama can now check 'guest-edit a magazine' off her bucket list," Sophie Tatum wrote Thursday for CNN. "Obama will be guest editing the July/August edition of 'More' magazine. . . . The magazine also revealed the issue will highlight women Obama said influenced her during her six years in the White House. . . ."
"MSNBC's Touré will take his afternoon show The Cycle to Oakland next Friday for a one-hour live special aimed at connecting young African-American men with the training they need to succeed in high-tech careers," Mark Joyella reported Thursday for TVNewser. "I love Oakland, it's a great town," Touré told TVNewser. "The effort, sponsored by Ford Motor Company, was launched last year and MSNBC hosted another special, Growing Hope Live from Detroit with Joy Reid in March. . . . "
"Pierre Thomas, chief justice correspondent for ABC News, was elected to a second term as chairman of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press by the group's Steering Committee," the committee announced on Thursday.
"Telemundo Boston plans to launch its first local Spanish-language newscasts this summer, the latest step in a push by parent company NBC Universal to add programming for Hispanic viewers," Callum Borchers reported Thursday for the Boston Globe. "The company says it will hire five journalists to produce two half-hour newscasts on weekdays at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.— traditionally the most important time slots for local news. . . ."
Patricio G. Espinoza, a San Antonio-based journalist, digital entrepreneur and former board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, is calling attention to the fight against ovarian cancer, the disease that took the life of his wife, Bernessa, in February. His message is in the Comments section of the Maynard Institute version of this column.
SiriusXM host Joe Madison broadcast his show live from Cuba Thursday, the network announced, "in the first national American radio talk broadcast from the island country in more than 50 years. . . . The broadcast, from the Taíno studios in Havana, included guests spanning the worlds of academia, culture, entertainment, and social activism including Professor Arnaldo Coro, Cuban radio host, radio aficionado, and professor at the University of Havana and DeWayne Wickham, USA Today columnist and veteran print journalist. . . ."
"For the first time, the White House is inviting Native-American youth to voice their concerns about issues faced in their community," Paris Burris wrote Thursday for Politico. Her story was described as "part of the POLITICO Journalism Institute, a journalism training program offered to students by POLITICO" in conjunction with American University and the Maynard Institute. Burris, from the University of Oklahoma, also wrote, "Unlike black, Latino, and other historically underserved demographic groups, American Indians don't have a history of speaking out in Washington or have prominent advocacy groups to deliver their message. And non-profit groups on reservations often aren't proper resources. So the July 9 conference is a rare opportunity to be heard. . . . "
"A fired Al Jazeera America executive filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the channel on Thursday, levying damning allegations about the integrity of its news coverage and the treatment of its employees," Tom Kludt reported for CNNMoney.com. "Shannon High-Bassalik, AJAM's former senior vice president of programming and documentaries, says in the complaint that she witnessed the channel abandon 'journalistic objectivity' in order to 'advance a pro-Arabic/Middle Eastern agenda, often at the expense of Jewish people.' . . ."
"Several bureau members of Egypt's press syndicate handed the state's top prosecutor complaints demanding the release of two journalists currently behind bars on Wednesday," Aswat Masriya, a news service of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, reported Wednesday. "Dozens of journalists organised a demonstration at the press syndicate, calling for freedoms, fair wages and syndicate protection. They also voiced objection to the detention of journalists and to their 'arbitrary dismissals.'. . ."
Addressing conditions in El Salvador, Reporters Without Borders said June 4 that it "condemns the restrictions that the authorities are imposing on journalists' access to information in Salvador, where President Salvador Sánchez Cerén has just completed his first year in office. Salvador is ranked 45th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, a fall of seven places from its position in the previous year's index. The president's relations with the media have been distant and he has shown little interest in answering questions. . . ."