The board of directors of the National Association of Black Journalists decided Friday to turn down $25,000 in free travel from the state airline of Morocco after the trade association of black-newspaper publishers was criticized for accepting an expense-paid visit to the North African country last week.
NABJ had struck a deal with Morocco for $35,000 in sponsorships for the black journalists' Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, held at the Newseum in Washington on Thursday. Of that, $10,000 was to be in cash and $25,000 in travel vouchers good for any of 26 cities where Royal Air Maroc flies.
However, that agreement took place before the expense-paid trip by the National Newspaper Publishers Association came to light. Leading mainstream news organizations forbid employees from accepting free travel from news sources or governments, but NNPA does not subscribe to those rules.
Most NABJ members work in the mainstream news media. "The way I kind of see NABJ, we would be the role models . . . the policy enforcers for black people in this business," Lee Ivory, who spent 24 years at USA Today, including as publisher of its sports weekly, told fellow board members. "We should be beyond reproach."
Keith Reed, the organization's treasurer and senior editor at ESPN, questioned whether NABJ should make such decisions for its members, many of whom work for organizations that have their own ethics policies. "We are the governors of NABJ. We are not the ethical stewards of the members of the organization," Reed said.
Herbert Lowe, a former NABJ president who now teaches at Marquette University, told the group, "If you have to spend that much time on whether this is an ethical question, it is an ethical question. Ten thousand dollars is not worth the negative publicity."
Lowe said that the most significant story for black journalists in recent days was the promotion of Rob King to head news operations at ESPN, but it was subordinated in Journal-isms to news that the U.N. envoy from Western Sahara, a colony of Morocco, accused the country of using its expenses-paid trip for the black press as a political weapon against those in Western Sahara.
Some board members cautioned against such foreign entanglements, especially without doing "due diligence." "We are American citizens," Cindy George, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle and NABJ parliamentarian, said. "We live here. We have dealings with American companies. If this were North Korea, if this were China, we wouldn't be having this discussion. The NNPA trip raised some concerns about human rights issues."
NABJ President Bob Butler, who brought the issue to the board, said he saw ethical hypocrisy by some mainstream organizations that allow staffers to test drive automobiles and use new technological gadgets free of charge. Others said journalists of color were under more scrutiny on such issues than others.
Maurice Foster, the NABJ executive director, said he negotiated with a Morocco representative after Butler asked him to see whether NABJ could restore funding for the Ethel Payne Fellowships, under which journalists researched projects in Africa and reported on them.
Members discussed ways to accept the Morocco tickets under the guise of fellowships, but decided that those would be subterfuges.
In the end, Butler said that the organization would accept an offer of a discount on the travel — he said it would be 5 percent or 10 percent — but that "we just want to tell them we just can't take the tickets." The board members agreed by consensus.
The National Bar Association, another black organization, is scheduled to leave Saturday for Morocco, as about 130 members, paying their own way, stage their annual midwinter meeting.
In other business, Foster told the board, meeting at its headquarters at the University of Maryland in College Park, that the association had 3,117 members in December, of whom 1,317 were full members, 611 associate members such as faculty members or public relations professionals, 1,061 were in the student category and 62 were high-school members. A few were in other categories. NABJ is the nation's largest organization of journalists of color.
Foster also said the summer convention near Orlando, Fla., netted $940,000.
- Matthew Vickery, New Internationalist blog: Every protest is crushed by the great brutality of Morocco'
John Ridley, the screenwriter of "12 Years a Slave," the graphically violent true story of a black man tricked into slavery, rejected criticism Thursday that his screenplay is "torture porn," saying it was faithful to the 1853 memoir on which it is based.
Ridley spoke with Journal-isms after co-hosting the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame Induction gala Thursday at the Newseum in Washington.
"The source material is there," Ridley said, adding that those who question the depictions must not have read the book.
Armond White, editor and movie critic of CityArts, was expelled from the New York Film Critics Circle this week after heckling "12 Years" director Steve McQueen at the Circle's annual awards dinner. In his review, White had called the movie "torture porn."
A PBS adaptation of Solomon Northup's book, produced for the "American Playhouse" series in 1984 by the late Gordon Parks, included none of the visualized brutality of the movie version.
However, the film has become far more successful than the television version, receiving nine Academy Award nominations this week and a Golden Globe Award for best drama. Ridley is an Oscar nominee for best adapted screenplay, for which he was applauded by the NABJ audience while he served as co-host.
"The prize goes to Solomon Northup," Ridley told the crowd. "It's his story, his words, it's his life. He ended up reporting on something most people did not."
NABJ's annual fund-raiser drew 398 people and grossed $152,041, Executive Director Maurice Foster told Journal-isms on Friday. Tickets were $100 for NABJ members and $150 for nonmembers. "Premiere VIP" seats were $250.
The organization inducted eight journalists into its Hall of Fame and awarded Sheila R. Solomon, an editor, writer and newsroom recruiter for four decades, its Ida B. Wells Award, bestowed jointly with the Medill School at Northwestern University.
The audience included enough NABJ members to resemble an NABJ convention, along with several African ambassadors and such notables as CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, lawyer and rainmaker Vernon Jordan, California Democratic Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters, and Mignon Clyburn, an FCC commissioner.
Waters told Journal-isms that she was present because she and Jordan were among those invited to be honorary co-chairs. She said she appreciated the awarded journalists' declarations of dedication to truth and integrity, though she acknowledged "this love-hate relationship between politicians and journalists.
"We really do appreciate journalists who write the facts and write the real stories" rather than what they perceive to be the facts, Waters said.
Bernard Shaw, the retired CNN anchor, told young journalists that "standards and ethics must matter" and that "if you shrink from controversy, you withdraw from life. To fear controversy is to embrace mediocrity." He thanked such deceased black journalists as Bob and Nancy Maynard, cofounders of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.
Moses Newson, who risked his life covering some of the most notable events of the civil rights movement, said that United States professed to be a melting pot and that "how long the United States will be accepted by the world" as a leader will depend on how much it fulfills that promise. He explained later that he meant "how it treats its minorities."
Solomon said, "We can't let the media industry off the hook when it comes to diversity."
Jay T. Harris, former publisher of the San Jose Mercury News, said he was glad to have been so honored because "I didn't want to be remembered for quitting a job." Harris left the paper in 2001 to protest planned layoffs.
Harris also took the unusual step of heaping praise on his former wife, journalist Christine Harris, who he said was "responsible for so much of what I have done."
Also honored were inductees Herb Boyd, author, documentarian and reporter for the New York Amsterdam News; Maureen Bunyan, anchor at WJLA-TV in Washington and an NABJ founder; and, posthumously, Ernest Dunbar, Look magazine writer; Zelda Mavin Jackson, the first African American female cartoonist; and Lee Thornton, broadcast journalist who later taught at Howard University and the University of Maryland. More videos here.
Separately, Butler gave a surpise award to Foster, whose contract expired on Nov. 15, praising his accomplishments since his hiring in 2010.
Wolf Blitzer, CNN: Tribute to Bernard Shaw by Wolf Blitzer (video)
Emil Guillermo, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: "12 Years a Slave" Worthy of Golden Globe — and Oscar Too?
Leon Harris, WJLA-TV Washington: Maureen Bunyan to be inducted into National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame
Raqiyah Mays, the Shadow League: The Cast of 12 Years a Slave Adds Color to Oscar Nominees
Raqiyah Mays, the Shadow League: 12 Years a Slave vs. American Hustle
NABJ 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee - HERB BOYD (video)
NABJ 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee - MAUREEN BUNYAN (video)
Native Appropriations: They give out oscars for racism now?
Michele Norris and Steve Inskeep, "Morning Edition," NPR: '12 Years A Slave' Inspires 'True Conversations' About Slavery
Edirin Oputu, Columbia Journalism Review: Contrarian critic
Joanna Pawlowska, NPR: NPR Presents: Oscar Nominee John Ridley at Studio One
Tonya Pendleton, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Really, Oscars? 2014 Noms Shady Business As Usual
Ralph Richardson, The Root: Hollywood Doesn’t Recognize the Complexity of Black Life
"CNN is changing up its daytime schedule, replacing the NoonET 'Around the World' co-anchored by Suzanne Malveaux and Michael Holmes with 'Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield,' " Chris Ariens reported Friday for TVNewser.
"Banfield's move from 11am to Noon makes room for a new show co-anchored by John Berman and Michaela Pereira at 11amET. Berman and Pereira will continue their roles on 'Early Start' and 'New Day.'
"The international news-focused Noon hour took shape in the summer of 2012 as 'International Newsroom.' At the time, Malveaux had anchored two hours of CNN's early afternoon hours from Atlanta. She will return to Washington as CNN's national correspondent. Her return to D.C. allows her to better care for her mother, who suffers from ALS. . . ."
"A San Antonio weatherman apologized Thursday for using a 'racially insensitive' term while referencing Martin Luther King Jr. Day during KABB FOX 29's morning broadcast," Kolten Parker and Jeanne Jakle reported for the San Antonio Express-News.
"Meteorologist Mike Hernandez referred to the upcoming holiday meant to celebrate the life of the civil rights leader as 'Martin Luther "coon" Day.'
"The word has historically been used as a racist term to refer to African Americans.
"The station issued an apology via their Facebook page and Hernandez later said he was sorry for what he claims was a mispronunciation.
"Hernandez apologized to those who were offended by the mistake and told the San Antonio Express-News that he is mortified anyone would think he intended to use a the racial slur on the air.
"It was 'absolutely' a slip of the tongue, he said. 'I would never ever, ever say anything like that intentionally. It just came out.' . . ."
Michael Malone of Broadcasting & Cable noted Friday, "KENS led its coverage of it with Hernandez's apology but, like the other stations, left out what exactly Hernandez said that made it a 'storm,' in WOAI radio's words, in the first place. . . ."
Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Read MLK instead of guessing what he'd say
Ricardo A. Hazell, the Shadow League: Dear Dr. King: About your Dream? See, what had happened was…
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Huffington Post: Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Is Still a Black Holiday for Far Too Many Americans
Peniel E. Joseph, The Root: MLK Was a Revolutionary, Not Just a Dreamer
Don Lemon, CNN: Did Dr. King Die for Freedom of Ignorance?
James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: Two times the tributes for Martin Luther King Jr.
R. Thomas Umstead, Multichannel News: NBA To Celebrate Martin Luther King Holiday & Black History Month
Tonyaa Weathersbee, BlackAmericaWeb.com: By ‘Honoring’ King With Bling and Ignorance, These Fliers Wind Up Disrespecting Him
"Was the 30-year-old Kenyan’s skin deliberately lightened? Or was it a matter of too-bright, washed out lighting? That’s the debate raging on Twitter and the Web after Vanity Fair on Wednesday shared a sneak peak of a shot of 12 Years a Slave co-star Lupita Nyong’o featured in the February issue 'Vanities' section," Richard Horgan reported Friday for FishbowlNY.
"At press time, two-thirds of respondents to a Huffington Post Black Voices poll feel that yes, the magazine did this deliberately. There does not currently appear to be any official statement of response from the Condé Nast publication.
"The matter is making headlines not just here but also in Nyong'o's native Kenya and the UK. . . . ."
A Vanity Fair spokeswoman did not respond to an inquiry from Journal-isms.
Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas, Hector Y. Adames and Kurt C. Organista, Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences: Prejudice and Within-Group Racial Discrimination: Historical and Current Impact on Latino/a Populations
Kunbi Tinuoye, the Grio: Study: Light-skinned black men perceived as better educated
"Another radio advertisement will air advocating for a change to the Redskins' team name and mascot," WTOP radio in Washington reported on Friday. "The ad, called 'Civil Rights,' will air on Martin Luther King Day in D.C., Denver and Seattle. In it, Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.'s delegate to Congress, says if King were alive today, he would support the effort to change the team name. . . ."
"The city of New York has reached an $18 million settlement over the arrest of roughly 1,800 protesters, journalists, and bystanders at the 2004 Republican National Convention," Cindy Gierhart reported Thursday for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "Journalists, often those who were not credentialed, were among the many swept into holding pens at Pier 57 in New York City, some held for a couple hours and others held well over 24 hours. . . . "
"Farhad Manjoo, who has been hired to review tech gadgets for The New York Times, writes about leaving The Wall Street Journal after only four months," Chris Roush wrote Thursday for Talking Biz News. "Manjoo writes: 'But I was not actually very disappointed, because my new job at the WSJ and the colleagues I’d found myself working with were pretty much perfect' . . ."
"According to sources close to the situation, Yahoo's Editor-in-Chief Jai Singh has quit the company, a major departure which comes in the wake of changes made to its media unit after the firing of COO Henrique De Castro yesterday," Kara Swisher reported Thursday for recode.net.
"Police in Bangladesh arrested three journalists on Thursday during a raid on the Dhaka offices of the newspaper Daily Inqilab, according to news reports," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Friday.
As the Committee to Protect Journalists has documented, the foray by Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa" into the international freedom of information debate in the past two years has starkly contrasted with his record on the matter at home," Sara Rafsky reported for the committee on Friday. "Government officials seemed not to grasp the irony of debating a law that criminalized the publishing of classified documents and threatening legal action against reporters who published leaked documents about [Edward] Snowden's status as the leaker's fate was being debated. With Snowden now in Russia and [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange in quasi-permanent exile in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, the international distractions have faded and Correa has continued his crackdown on the press mostly unfettered. It's unclear how far the administration is willing to go in the fight, but while the foreign media's attention has mostly shifted, the story for Ecuadoran journalists is far from over."
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