Local Media Miss a Mother’s Death in Jail

Courtesy of Marshall family via New York Daily News
Courtesy of Marshall family via New York Daily News

The young single mother of a 3-year-old died in police custody last week near Houston, but news of Symone Nicole Marshall's death did not surface in the news media until a column Tuesday by Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King in the Daily News in New York." A beautiful 22-year-old mother of a 3-year-old-daughter died in police custody on Tuesday, May 10, and nobody's talking," King wrote. "Not the police. Not the jail. Not the medical examiner. Not the local press.



"If you Google her name, it's as if she never existed. . . .

"Symone Nicole Marshall, according to her family, was in a brutal car accident on April 26 in which her car flipped over several times before landing in a ditch.

“Instead of being taken to the hospital, though, she was taken to the Walker County Jail in Huntsville, Tex., about an hour north of Houston. . . ."

King's column indicated that he had talked to the family and he wrote, "Police and jail officials declined to comment or release information about the accident to the Daily News. Marshall's family also said they have not been able to get information from officials." He concluded, "This much I do know:

"Young black girls and women like Gynnya McMillen, Sandra Bland, and Natasha McKenna are going to local jails alive and leaving on stretchers and in body bags — never to be seen again."

King added on Twitter, "Every 30 minutes, a new relative of a Black woman who died in police custody emails me, hoping their story gets told as well."

And, "I have had to fight back a mix of overwhelming sadness & incredible fury the past 24 hours. Not only about #SymoneMarshall but so much more."


The column made an impact. A GoFundMe page created Sunday to help pay funeral expenses had raised $7,487 by 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, though its original goal was $5,500.

It also caught the attention of some Houston news media. After King's column was published Tuesday, stories appeared that day on KHOU-TV, the CBS affiliate; KTRK-TV, the ABC affiliate; and KPRC-TV, the NBC affiliate.


Steve Fullhart of KBTX-TV in Bryan/College Park also produced a story, originally quoting from the Daily News column.

Nationally, the Associated Press weighed in with an account on Wednesday evening.


The Houston Chronicle still had no story Wednesday, nor did the Houston Defender, a black weekly. Neither Chronicle Editor Nancy Barnes nor Managing Editor Vernon Loeb responded to inquiries from Journal-isms. Sally Ramirez, who joined KHOU as news director nine weeks ago, told Journal-isms by telephone that Managing Editor Bill Bishop had seen the Daily News story Tuesday and pitched it at a news meeting. There was no effort to avoid the story, Ramirez said. "Sometimes it's just that it's just not brought to our attention. A lot of stations don't have beats anymore. There is such an abundance of stories" that it takes someone to flag news such as Marshall's death, she said. A glance at the KHOU website Wednesday indicated that Houston has no shortage of crime news. Sharing space on the homepage were"Neighborhood outraged after child killed walking home from school"; "HPD: Suspect in gym murder had dated the victim"; "Man found dead outside Houston City Hall"; "HPD officer collides with light rail train while responding to call" and "HPD: Baby wounded during attempted murder-suicide."

According to Rucks Russell's story Tuesday for KHOU, "Officials say late last month, Marshall was involved in a single vehicle crash on I-45. They say responding paramedics who evaluated Marshall and her female passenger saw no signs of obvious injury and that both women refused further medical treatment.


"They were arrested and booked into the Walker County Jail on misdemeanor and felony charges of cocaine possession. Marshall was also charged with providing a false identification.

"The next day, the passenger posted her bond and was released but Marshall was unable to post her $5,000 bond and spent the next two weeks behind bars.


"Her sisters say they spoke with her several times and that she told them her head was hurting and she felt like blacking out. They claim they called the jail and demanded Symone be sent to the hospital. “ 'They told me she’s seen the doctor at the jail,' said [sister Honey] Marshall. 'I told them she needs to go to a real hospital[.]' "Officials say on May 10, Marshall suffered an apparent seizure in her jail cell and was immediately taken to Huntsville Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead. . . ." Fullhart of KBTX-TV reported the day of death as May 11 and wrote that Sheriff Clint McRae "says video systems in the jail captured the entire situation, but that video is not being released. Texas Rangers are currently investigating, something McRae says his office asked for following the death. . . ."

Julian E. Zelizer, Boston Review: Fifty Years Ago, the Government Said Black Lives Matter (May 5)


AP Says Guidelines Clear: Paraphrase Poor English

The Associated Press is defending its guidelines on quoting "poor English in contexts that could be unflattering," disagreeing with Houston Chronicle Editor Nancy Barnes, who last week cited what she called “less than adequate” AP guidelines on quoting news sources for whom English is not their first language.


The Chronicle has been widely criticized for seeming to ridicule Spanish-speaking Houston Astros player Carlos Gomez by quoting his broken English in a May 4 column headlined, "Carlos Gomez knows he's a disappointment to Astros fans," [available via search engine].

Brian T. Smith wrote of Gomez, " 'For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed,' said Gomez as he roamed center field against the team with which he spent 2008-09. . . ."


AP spokesman Paul Colford told Journal-isms by email on Thursday, "Our guidelines are clear enough. We say:

“ 'We do not alter quotations, even to correct grammatical errors or word usage. If a quotation is flawed because of grammar or lack of clarity, the writer must be able to paraphrase in a way that is completely true to the original quote. If a quote’s meaning is too murky to be paraphrased accurately, it should not be used. . . .'


"We don’t say specifically not to use people’s poor English in contexts that could be unflattering. But we clearly offer a strategy for dealing with quotes with grammar or clarity issues: paraphrase the quote, making sure it’s completely true to the original.

"Here's the AP Stylebook dialect entry:

"The form of language peculiar to a region or a group, usually in matters of pronunciation or syntax. Dialect should be avoided, even in quoted matter, unless it is clearly pertinent to a story.


"There are some words and phrases in everyone's vocabulary that are typical of a particular region or group. Quoting dialect, unless used carefully, implies substandard or illiterate usage.

"When there is a compelling reason to use dialect, words or phrases are spelled phonetically, and apostrophes show missing letters and sounds: 'Din't ya yoosta live at Toidy-Toid Street and Sekun' Amya? Across from da moom pitchers?' " [Added May 19]


J.A. Adande, the Undefeated: ‘We gonna be championship!’: A new approach to ‘fixing’ quotes

Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports: Houston Chronicle editor apologizes for column about Carlos Gomez


Britni De La Cretaz, alldigitocracy.org: Controversy over athlete’s broken English raises thorny questions about white journalists covering race & ethnicity

Houston Chronicle: Astros place Carlos Gomez on 15-day disabled list

Sahil Patel, digiday.com: How ESPN's The Undefeated is using video

Mark Townsend, Yahoo Sports: Houston paper apologizes for quoting Carlos Gomez's broken English


Poll: 90% of Indians Not Offended by 'Redskins'

"Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker," John Woodrow Cox, Scott Clement and Theresa Vargas reported Thursday for the Washington Post.


"The survey of 504 people across every state and the District reveals that the minds of Native Americans have remained unchanged since a 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found the exact same result. Responses to The Post’s questions about the issue were broadly consistent regardless of age, income, education, political party or proximity to reservations.

"Among the Native Americans reached over a five-month period ending in April, more than 7 in 10 said they did not feel the word 'Redskin' was disrespectful to Indians. An even higher number — 8 in 10 — said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name. . . ."


The story also said, "'I just reject the results' of the Post poll, said Suzan Harjo, the lead plaintiff in the first case challenging the team’s trademark protections. 'I don’t agree with them, and I don’t agree that this is valid way of surveying public opinion in Indian Country.' ”

The Native American Journalists Association and Unity: Journalists for Diversity are among the opponents of the name. [Added May 19]


"Time's Been Up for All These Slurs" (July 13, 2015)

CNN Canceled Wilmore Appearance, Report Says

"Anyone who watched Larry Wilmore’s White [House Correspondents' Association] Dinner speech last month can understand why CNN might not have been thrilled with it," Jon Nicosia reported Monday for Mediaite.


"There were jokes questioning why Wolf Blitzer is still on the air, to a roasting of CNN’s status as a news network at all, and in particular, 'alleged journalist' Don Lemon got a special and biting shout out.

"Nevertheless, Mediaite has learned, Lemon personally invited Wilmore to come on his evening show to discuss the speech, the 'N-word' and politics. After all, Lemon was clearly good natured about the whole thing as is evidenced by his reaction and the photos he took with Wilmore after the event.


"Mediaite learned that Wilmore was scheduled to appear on Lemon’s show the evening of Wednesday, May 4 a few days after the speech. But that appearance was abruptly cancelled by a CNN producer shortly beforehand under the guise of needing to cover 'politics' and to focus on the 'Indiana primary' (which had ended more than 24 hours earlier.) Wilmore was never rescheduled. . . ."

CNN spokeswomen did not respond to inquiries from Journal-isms nor, Nicosia said, did CNN respond to Mediaite's request for comment.


MacArthur Grants $25M to Boost Journalism

"In a significant expansion of its support for journalism and media," the MacArthur Foundation "is making nearly $25 million in completely unrestricted, five-year general operating grants to a core group of journalism grantees," Mike Scutari reported Wednesday for Inside Philanthropy.


"MacArthur is framing this development as a 'reinforced commitment' to 'the core values of accurate, in-depth journalism and documentary storytelling while also supporting innovation and experimentation and building diversity in the field.' . . ."

"What's more, while other funders like Knight seek to 'creatively disrupt' the journalism field, the MacArthur grantees, at least at first blush, seem rooted in a more traditional reporting paradigm. Grantees receiving money for investigative reporting, for example, include American University, the Center for Public Integrity, and National Public Radio. No funding for 'citizen hackers' (yet). . . .


"Bottom line? MacArthur's made a bold statement here, especially in a journalism field that seems torn between disruptive futurism, unproven donor-based models, and cracking up entirely. In short, the announcement instills some stability — both figuratively and financially — across a mercurial funding landscape while simultaneously signaling that the foundation remains committed to traditional journalism work. . . ."

Columbia U. Plans $60M Free-Press War Room

"The fight to preserve freedom of the press is getting a $60 million war room," Mike McPhate reported Tuesday for the New York Times.


"The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Columbia University announced on Tuesday that they would team up to create an institute at the university’s Manhattan campus dedicated to expanding in the digital age the freedoms of speech and the press outlined in the First Amendment.

"The Knight First Amendment Institute would take on legal battles that newsrooms have found increasingly too costly to pursue on their own, the groups said in a statement. . . ."


Lee C. Bollinger and Alberto Ibargüen, Time: Defending a Free Press in a Digital Age

MacArthur Foundation: MacArthur Expands its Commitment to Journalism and Media

NPR Ombudsman: Not Enough Transgender Voices

"A letter from a transgender man in northern Ohio who asked not to be identified for reasons of personal privacy came in on May 10," Elizabeth Jensen, NPR's ombudsman, wrote on Monday.


" 'I'm sad to say that it was almost the last straw this morning when you interviewed a supposed ally from a civil rights group who referred to transgender as a 'sexuality.' Transgender is not a sexuality. I know gay, straight, and bisexual transgender people. Being transgender has nothing to do with one's sexuality.

" 'Please, if you are going to interview allies, make sure they are informed allies. Make sure they speak for us. Better yet, please please PLEASE speak to some actual transgender people about what they are experiencing. . . .' "


Jensen also wrote, "NPR cannot control what its guests say, although misinformation should ideally, indeed, be corrected along the way. As to the facts, Jeff Brady's Weekend Edition Sunday piece attempted to get at them, citing some preliminary research that "extending public accommodations rights to transgender people" does not appear to lead to more crimes by predators, and that transgender people and non-gender conforming people themselves are at some risk in restrooms.

"But the writer makes a valid point regarding who gets to speak as this topic is debated. . . ."


Leona Allen, Dallas Morning News: Dan Patrick is wrong to get involved in who uses Fort Worth school bathrooms (May 10)

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Loretta Lynch to transgender America: I’ve got your back (May 10)


Mary C. Curtis, Roll Call: What N.C.'s Pat McCrory Is Ignoring While He Focuses on Bathrooms (May 9)

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Writer compares Obama's clarity on trans rights to his mixed message on Black Lives Matter


Allen Johnson, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.: Elton John weighs in on HB 2

Allen Johnson, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.: Some African Americans have been bamboozled by HB 2 (May 12)


Visiting the Scene of a Namesake’s Lynching

"Start at the back door of the magnificent stone courthouse, where a wave of white men dragged Jesse Washington into the alley, tearing his clothes off as they went," a contemporary Jesse Washington wrote Tuesday for the Undefeated.


"Walk 65 steps over the red alley bricks to North 5th Street, where the swelling mob paused to cinch a chain around Jesse’s neck. Cross 5th, turn right, and take the short walk to Washington Avenue. "Thousands of people massed here to partake in the killing of the 17-year-old farmhand. As Jesse was pulled down the wide street that cruelly shares his last name, they attacked him with knives, bricks, shovels and clubs. Blood covered Jesse’s dark skin.

"It was almost noon on May 15, 1916. With the Texas heat climbing into the 80s, the Waco Horror had begun.


"I can feel the boiling blood lust of the mob on a cool night in April as I retrace the final steps of Jesse Washington’s life. I’ve come to Waco to explore the meaning of this century-old atrocity, to probe beneath the eerie coincidence of sharing a name with one of the most famous lynching victims in U.S. history. . . ."

Trump’s ‘Spokesman’ Ploy Was Transparent Then

"You might well have heard in the last couple of days of Donald Trump’s apparent habit of acting as his own spokesman," Joe Sexton wrote Tuesday for ProPublica.


"A variety of news accounts have recalled Trump using the aliases John Barron or John Miller while posing as a fictitious spokesman for his organizations. Trump has denied doing so in at least one of the cited instances. Then again, it appears he also admitted to the ruse in a sworn deposition years ago. Over the weekend, it seemed hard for either Trump’s supporters or his critics to know exactly what to make of it all. The only consensus seems to be that, if true, it was more weird than anything else.

"Now, let’s back up a bit farther. In 1985, Trump was the owner of the New Jersey Generals, a team in the fledgling United States Football League. The teams played in the spring and summer, and the league was meant to be a rival to the National Football League.


"Trump, unsurprisingly perhaps, became known for high-profile player signings, one of his most expensive being the acquisition of Doug Flutie, the Boston College quarterback who had won the Heisman Trophy. Soon enough — again perhaps not surprisingly — Trump wanted to re-visit the Flutie deal. He wanted the owners of the other teams in the USFL to chip in to cover the costs of his quarterback.

"That, then, is how I came to write this dispatch on April 1, 1985.

"NEW YORK — New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump has asked the other USFL owners to provide ‘partial reimbursement’ for quarterback Doug Flutie’s multi-million dollar contract, a spokesman for Trump said Monday.


"John Barron, a vice president of the Trump Organization, said the New Jersey owner wanted the other owners to honor an agreement reached earlier this year before Trump signed Flutie to a 5-year contract worth between $5 and $8 million. . . ."

Sexton also wrote, "I can’t remember when I first came to believe Barron was in fact Trump. It’s not inconceivable that Trump told me himself. I know I had thought at the time that I’d rarely dealt with such a frank and forthcoming spokesman. And I know I have told the story to family and friends for years. . . ."


Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Trump’s Asymmetric Warfare

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: People are overestimating the power of Trump’s white supporters


Editorial, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Trump can’t balk at disclosing his tax returns

Paul Farhi, Washington Post: ‘He’s a master of spin’: N.Y. Times editor defends story about Trump and women


Gwyneth Kelly, New Republic: All 11 of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominees are white.

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Will Trump's cafeteria conservatism win again?

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Trump’s bizarre, dangerous neediness

The Chinatown Lives Ignored by Mainstream Media

"There is one thing we do not see in a compelling 1982 self-portrait by Dean Wong: his face," Maurice Berger wrote Monday for the "Lens" blog of the New York Times.


"Taken in Seattle’s Chinatown, the photograph zeroes in on the back of a metal helmet, polished to a mirrorlike finish. In it is reflected a crowd of neighborhood residents — a metaphor for the people and hometown community that have shaped and fascinated Mr. Wong. "The image appears in Mr. Wong’s new book, 'Seeing the Light: Four Decades in Chinatown' (Chin Music Press), which centers on Seattle but includes images from other cities, including San Francisco, New York and Vancouver, British Columbia. Juxtaposing photographs with short, anecdotal essays, the book serves as a powerful corrective to decades of one-dimensional and blinkered reporting on neighborhoods generally represented in the cultural mainstream as exotic, insular or irrelevant, as places to order a quick meal or marvel at the colorful rituals of the Chinese New Year.

"The photos remind us that despite the stubborn, stereotypical view of Chinatowns as places of vibrant exoticism, they continue to serve an important social function as gateways and homes to new immigrants, as guardians of art, history and heritage, and as a refuge from discrimination. Mr. Wong does so not by creating a visual and verbal gloss, but rather by meticulously documenting the rituals of everyday life and focusing on personal stories, ordinary and extraordinary, of people largely ignored in mainstream media. . . ."


Short Takes

Mizell Stewart III, a news executive at Gannett Co. Inc. offered guidance on leading a newsroom through change in a piece Wednesday for the Poynter Institute. Gannett completed acquisition of the Journal Media Group, where Stewart was managing director and chief content officer, last month. "We’ve learned that treating change as an event and transition as a process helps leaders act boldly to usher their teams through uncertain times," he wrote. Stewart is also vice president of the American Society of News Editors.


" 'Jackie Robinson,' the latest Ken Burns documentary, informs a new generation about this great American hero," Mark Douglass wrote Wednesday for seattleglobalist.com. "Still, after 70 years of media coverage, the journalism industry has neglected to absorb the strategic lessons Robinson gives us in plain sight to build a more just playing field. . . ." Matthew Delmot recalled March 19 for the Atlantic that Robinson cautioned in a 1963 syndicated column, “The danger of the Republican party being taken over by the lily-white-ist conservatives is more serious than many people realize.”

"Elizabeth Spayd has been named public editor of The New York Times," the Times Co. announced on Wednesday. "Ms. Spayd will join The Times later this summer from The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), where since 2014 she has served as editor and publisher." David Uberti reported for Columbia Journalism Review that "Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll will lead the search for Spayd’s successor alongside CJR board chair Stephen J. Adler, editor in chief of Reuters." Michael Calderone of the Huffington Post reported Monday that Debra Adams Simmons, former editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, was among the finalists.


"#CBSSoWhite? Twitter seems to think so," Lisa Respers France wrote Wednesday for CNN Money. "The network was criticized Wednesday for a seeming lack of diversity in its just-announced fall lineup. Social media took notice that six of the network's eight new shows ordered last week star white male actors. . . ." CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller replied, “Actually our new series are more diverse this year than last year," James Hibberd reported for Entertainment Weekly.

"Channing Dungey, new entertainment president at ABC, copped to some nerves in her first upfront presentation from the stage, then touted ABC core values such as family comedies and soapy dramas with love and intrigue, and diversity on both sides of the camera, be it a comedy or drama," Michael Malone reported Tuesday for Broadcasting & Cable." 'We will always reflect the authenticity of the faces of those around us,' said Dungey, the first African-American woman to hold an entertainment president post at a broadcast network. 'Because we are America's Broadcast Company.' . . .”


The Corporation for Public Broadcasting said Tuesday it has "named Jennifer Lawson, CPB’s senior vice president of television production and digital video content and a groundbreaking public television leader, recipient of the 2016 Ralph Lowell Award. The award, given for outstanding achievements in and contributions to public television, was presented today in Chicago by CPB Board Chair Elizabeth Sembler. . . ." It also said, "An Alabama native and former member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lawson viewed public television as an extension of her civil rights work as she served as a producer, programmer, station manager, board member and system executive. . . ." Lawson is retiring. Friday is her last day.

"A ban on journalists at the New Mexico Republican Party convention has been reversed by Native American leaders overseeing a casino where the event will be held, GOP officials announced Wednesday," the Associated Press reported. "Republican officials said they were caught by surprise Tuesday when officials at Sandia Pueblo announced it was against tribal council policy to have news media at Sandia Resort & Casino and that journalists could not attend the convention. . . ."


"PBS’ Gwen Ifill is 'doing well' and plans to return to the air around Memorial Day, the network said Monday," Morgan Lee reported for the Associated Press. "The 'PBS NewsHour' co-anchor informed her audience on April 7 that she would be on leave the next few weeks. She is taking the brief hiatus to address some ongoing health issues, PBS said. . . ."

"Peter Bhatia, editor and vice president for audience development, Enquirer Media in Cincinnati, was elected to a three-year term as president of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) at its May 6-7 meeting in Chicago," [PDF] ACEJMC announced on May 10. At the same meeting, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at North Carolina A&T State University received provisional reaccreditation for its undergraduate program and the Howard University School of Communications was reaccredited for its undergraduate program.


"Edmund Tijerina has been named the new Food and Drink Editor at the San Antonio Express-News," the Gorkana Co. reported. "A one-time restaurateur with more than twenty-five years in journalism, he has written about food full-time since 2009. . . ."

"Hanya Yanagihara has left T: The New York Times Style Magazine," the Gorkana Co. reported. "She has served as Deputy Editor since June 2015. Previously, Hanya served as Executive Editor for Conde Nast Traveler. . . ."


Liberian journalist Wremongar Joe of Prime FM, based in Monrovia, was beaten by four men allegedly acting on orders of a local lawmaker, Front Page Africa reported on May 10. Joe was seen video-recording a brawl between the lawmaker and some youth during a football match. “ 'Smith peters and three other men engaged me aggressively, beat on me and demanded me to unconditionally delete the photos and voice from my recorder, camera and phone,' he explained. 'When I refused and told them that I am a journalist, they pressed on and held my private-part as the individual named [Smith Peter put his hands in my pockets and collected my phone, Nokia Lumia 926, Olympus digital voice recorder and camera, including US$540 . . . ."

In Yemen, ten journalists detained by Houthi rebels, a religious group affiliated with the Zaydi sect of Shia Islam, began a hunger strike on May 9 to protest maltreatment, the International Federation of Journalists, reported May 12. IFJ backed the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, an affiliate, in calling for their immediate release and condemned the continuous harassment of journalists.