Forbes magazine Monday unveiled its list of "30 Under 30" — "These are the people who aren't waiting to reinvent the world. FORBES, leaning on the wisdom of its readers and the greatest minds in business, presents the 30 disrupters under 30, in each of 12 fields, making a difference right now."
One field was the media, and Yvonne Latty, who teaches journalism at New York University, was proud to see former student Mary Pilon on that list. "She was a superstar in a year long honors class I taught 3 years ago…loved her!" Latty said in an email.
Then Latty looked for the people of color. There was Maneet Ahuja, a hedge fund specialist at CNBC who is of South Asian Indian background. That was it.
"This is a big problem and one that is just getting worse…depressing," Latty messaged Journal-isms. "There is this small slice they choose from and we are not represented in the slice that they look at..sad cause these lists shape what the people think are 'hot'.
"..it is very frustrating for me[.] one minute I am thrilled to see my incredible, talented student on the list and then I look at it again..I don't see any black faces and scrutinize the white faces to see if one of them just maybe could be latino…then I realize they are not," said Latty, who is both Latino and black.
Alexandra Talty, a Forbes spokeswoman, told Journal-isms by email on Thursday, "While there are over fifty people of color on our other 30 Under 30 lists, diversity in media remains a national issue, which this list reflects."
That rationale was rejected in an informal survey of journalists of color familiar with 20-something media people who are "disrupters."
"I would ask Forbes if they have published any stories about lack of diversity in the media recently, since as they suggest, it is a national issue," said Jason Samuels, a producer on CNN's recent "Black in America" program on the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley.
Digital journalist Mark S. Luckie, who is 28, might be eligible for such a list himself. Last year Luckie, now national innovations editor at the Washington Post, sold his blog 10000Words.net to WebMediaBrands Inc., owner of the Mediabistro blog network, for a handsome, though undisclosed, amount.
"Although there are undeniably Black and Latino media professionals whose accomplishments merit inclusion on the list, it does highlight that many young people of color with equally brilliant minds have not risen in the ranks of media as their counterparts have," Luckie said by email.
Nevertheless, Luckie easily named three people he thought would qualify: Emi Kolawole, editor of Ideas@Innovations at the Post; Charli Penn, relationships editor at essence.com and founder and lifestyle blogger at the Man Wife & Dog blog; and Matt Thompson, an editorial product manager at NPR.
Chris Rabb is another who didn't accept Forbes' argument. He said by email: "Implicit in the spokeswoman's remarks is the assessment that despite the obvious under-representation of people of color in media, that fact in Forbes' thinking also means that there are no media luminaries of color. Quite a leap indeed, and that much more offensive!"
Rabb, 35, was an early blogger and is a visiting researcher at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs as well as a fellow at Demos, a think tank in New York. His candidate for the Forbes list is Garlin Gilchrist II, social media manager for the Barack Obama campaign in Washington in 2008, among other distinctions. "Connecting technology, new media, and grassroots organizing is the cornerstone of Mr. Gilchrist's work," Gilchrist's bio says.
Robert Hernandez, an assistant professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism active in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Online News Association, said this of Talty's explanation: "I would take that quote to mean: 'It's hard for the media to hire or acknowledge young people of color, so it's hard for us too…' In other words, it's an excuse. One that really should [no] longer be tolerated.
"We created this list to help avoid these lazy recruitment for speakers … I guess it can be used for lists as well."
Juana Summers Hernandez nominated Juana Summers "@jmsummers @POLITICO national political reporter and incoming @ONA board member. She's 23!" he wrote by email.
Hernandez went further. He sent out tweets asking for suggestions, and collected the responses on his blog.
As one response, Josh Sterns of the media advocacy group Free Press nominated his colleague Chancellar Williams, Free Press government and external affairs manager, who's "fighting for better media policy."
Other websites provide additional possibilities. In October, theRoot.com, the Washington Post Co. website that targets African Americans, published the 2011 edition of "the Root 100," which "identifies African-American influencers 45 and under who shape our daily conversations with work that matters."
On that list were three media figures aged 25-29: Erica Williams, senior adviser and director of Millennial Strategies at Citizen Engagement Lab and "expert on Gen Y who is dedicated to giving voice to previously unheard Americans"; Adam Serwer, "reporter who has joined Mother Jones"; and Tristan Walker, "businessman whose development skills helped Foursquare attract more than 10 million users." Foursquare is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, such as smartphones, according to Wikipedia.
Forbes was in this column two weeks ago after "If I Were A Poor Black Kid," an essay on its website by a white, self-described "short, balding and mediocre certified public accountant," went viral and prompted rebuttals and denunciations throughout social media.
As their way out of poverty, Gene Marks, the author, urged poor children to study hard and learn how to use computers.
Responding to Hernandez's call, Latoya Peterson, founder of the blog Racialicious, couldn't resist a connection. Why are there no blacks and Latinos on the Forbes media list?
"its because poor black kids aren't on the internet. We get here after 30. Learned that from @forbes," she tweeted.
Robert Hernandez, Nieman Journalism Lab: For journalism’s future, the killer app is credibility
"Obviously Janice Min, editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter (THR), never got the memo. My memo, that is. The one I wrote to Xana Antunes, editor of Crain’s New York Business, after the magazine published its list of '50 Most Powerful Women in New York' and only featured a total of three non-white women and not one single Latina," Mariela Dabbah wrote Wednesday for Fox News Latino.
"The current THR 'Women in Entertainment: The Power 100' lists a wonderful group of accomplished women of which a total of nine are non-white, including two Latinas. This time, I can’t give Ms. Min the benefit of the doubt as I gave Ms. Antunes. I don’t think the reason for this faux pas is a lack of diversity in her professional network from which to draw recommendations. This time, there’s something else at play given that there are major media networks not even represented on the THR list.
"There are many, many top executive Latinas in the entertainment industry, which is why this list is particularly worrisome as it perpetuates the idea that there are no qualified candidates to be considered for the honor. . . .
"I understand that Ms. Min may not watch Spanish television but on an average week around 33 million people do. And when Univision and Telemundo’s evening news shows regularly beat the local English networks in markets like New York and L.A., you have to at least acknowledge that they exist, no? (And, although this piece focuses on Latinas, the same can be said about the minimal presence of other ethnic groups on the list. Where are Laureen Ong, President of The Travel Channel or Suzanne de Passe, Co-Chairman of de Passe Jones and currently featured on HBO’s The Black List Volume 2?"
"Something unusual happened at one of our local Navy bases Wednesday," Charles Apple wrote Wednesday for the American Copy Editors Society, referring to Norfolk, Va.
"It’s a tradition, we’re told, that a Navy ship returning from deployment chooses one sailor by raffle to be the first onto the dock to kiss his or her loved one hello.
"When the dock-landing ship Oak Hill landed yesterday at Little Creek, however, the lucky couple happened to be of the same gender. Thanks to the recent ditching of the military’s 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' policy.
"The moment was captured by Brian Clark of the Virginian-Pilot.
"That’s Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta — in her dress blues — and Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell of the destroyer Bainbridge — in civvies.
"Check out this Virginian-Pilot video — also produced by Brian Clark — in which Gaeta explains how this came about.
"Read the story here by the Pilot‘s Corinne Reilly. You’ll also find a link there for more pictures.
"The picture went viral Wednesday and was used on the front page of at least three newspapers today," the Virginian-Pilot, the Seattle Times and the Sacramento Bee, as well as the youth tab published by the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
On the website of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, Michael R. Triplett wrote, "Instead of focusing on the reaction, let’s first congratulate Seattle Times ME Kathy Best for her letter to unhappy readers who were upset about the paper putting it on their front page . . ."
Jim Romenesko blog: Videographer was told there would be a ‘surprise’ first kiss
Jim Romenesko blog: Readers react to photo of female sailors’ homecoming kiss
In 1968, the Kerner Commission, charged with investigating the causes of the riots of the 1960s, reported that "the scarcity of Negroes in responsible news jobs intensifies the difficulties of communicating the reality of the contemporary American city to white newspaper and television audiences."
The commission's recommendations, which kick-started the diversity movement in the news media, also apply to the global stage, as Sara Sidner, the CNN correspondent who impressed viewers with her coverage of the recent war in Libya, indicated this week.
Stephen Battaglio of TV Guide asked Sidner Thursday, "We don’t see a lot of people who look like you on CNN International or as foreign correspondents in general. How does it play out in the field?"
Sidner replied: "It’s good to be brown. Whether it’s in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, people assume there is a connection there, that a parent or grandparent is from North Africa or from South Asia. People think, 'Oh, she understands something about what we’ve been through.' I am a child of the world. My mother is British. My father is African-American. For me it’s been an advantage…Being this color, I can kind of blend in, and I don’t get the kind of unwanted attention you might get if I walked in and everyone has dark hair and olive skin and I have blonde hair and blue eyes."
"I was deeply saddened by the recent departure of Steven Gray from Time magazine," veteran journalist Paul Delaney wrote Friday for theRoot.com. "He is an extremely sharp young journalist with great promise in the profession, qualities that ensure a bright future for him.
"My lament is not over Gray but about the fact that he leaves a deep void at the popular newsweekly magazine: At the moment, it does not have a single black correspondent in its vast newsroom, as media columnist Richard Prince reports. That is not only regrettable but a pox on any major media outlet without a black staffer — or only a token one or two, in too many cases.
"And that void is not a surprise. For the past few years, the number of nonwhites in newsrooms has steadily and creepily declined. . . .
"In effect, the media landscape is now similar to the way it was in the mid-20th century, and that is not only an embarrassment but also scary. Worse, nobody seems to know exactly what to do to turn things around. Or, if they do, they're not bothering to act, especially those at online media outlets," wrote Delaney, a former senior editor at the New York Times.
"The relationship between American media and black journalists has historically resembled a bad marriage. It was a shotgun wedding in the first place, the result of a long struggle by African Americans that culminated with our forcing our way into newsrooms. It has never been a stable union, and today we are fighting for our jobs as furiously as we did back then."
"To describe 2011 as a turbulent year for Syria would be an understatement," Nisha Thanki reported from Vienna Thursday for the International Press Institute. "As other regimes in the Arab world have fallen, President Bashar al-Assad has ruthlessly clung to power. At every step, media attempts to shed light on developments have been thwarted. The government has cracked down on local journalists and denied access to most foreign ones.
"According to Ghias Aljundi, an exiled Syrian activist, 'after the beginning of the Syrian revolution on 15 March 2011, press freedom suffered additional restrictions and dozens of journalists and bloggers have been arrested and tortured for … writing pieces about what it is happening inside Syria.' He added: 'There are documented reports that the arrested journalists have been tortured and forced to write articles in which they had to deny that there were protests in the country. Opposition websites have been blocked or hacked by the state-backed Syrian Electronic Army.'
"On the one hand, the Syrian government controls the media and uses it to boost its own legitimacy, but the current level of protests and uprisings, and the avenues for information-sharing opened up by social media developments, have made it impossible to fully stifle the flow of news."
Natasha Lennard, Columbia Journalism Review: Protecting Journalists in Worldwide Danger Zones
"Racist attitudes continue to be passed down to Mexico’s children, according to a video released by a federal government agency in the country last week as part of a campaign to fight racism," the Latin America News Dispatch reported on Tuesday.
" 'Viral Racism in Mexico' by the National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination (Conapred in Spanish), shows scenes from interviews shot in October and November with children who are presented with two dolls — one white and one black. Interviewers then ask children questions including, 'Which is the ugly one and which is the pretty one? Which is the good one and which is the bad one?'
"Child respondents repeatedly selected the black doll as the ugly or bad one — even children who identified more closely with the black doll because of their skin color."
". . . Conapred modeled its work on that of U.S. African-American psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark, who used dolls to study children’s perceptions of race in the 1940s."
A commenter who signed himself David attributed the results partly to the media. ". . . Just look at Univision and Telemundo. Based on its programming, you’d think that Mexico was in Scandinavia."
"In general, when I watch cable news during the day, it's frustrating because it reminds me of a game show," CNN weekend anchor Don Lemon says in an interview with Wyatt Williams of Creative Loafing, Atlanta's alternative newspaper. "If I want to watch 'The Price [Is] Right,' I'll watch 'The Price [Is] Right.' I'm not consciously thinking that when I'm on the air, but that's just my personality. To be like, 'Are we really doing this?'
"Lemon talks at length about his frustration with gimmicks, the flashy sound effects that sound like outtakes from an action movie, the quizzes meant to keep viewers watching over a commercial break ('If I really want to know the answer I'll just Google it,' he says), and the way those ploys work to dumb down the audience and lose more in long-term credibility and viewership than any temporary gain. 'I think you can have fun on TV, but you should pick your moments. It should be natural. You shouldn't build in 'Oh, this is our cutesy moment of the day!'
". . . When asked what typecast role CNN intends for him to play, what type of anchor he's expected to be, Lemon pauses. He winces. 'I think they want me to be the good-looking black guy. That's what I think. I don't know.'
". . . Lemon checks his Twitter feed on his iPhone and shows me a message from a viewer that reads, 'Why are all of the black anchors on the weekend?' When I ask him what he thinks about that, he just shrugs his shoulders. Later, at a photo shoot for this story, I ask him if he knows why T.J. Holmes decided to leave CNN for BET. He shrugs his shoulders again at that question, 'I think he probably wanted something more than weekends.' After considering it a bit longer, he says, 'If we complain about it, we're malcontents but if you don't how do you sleep at night?' "
"Once again, the Federal Communications Commission decided to move forward a major regulatory rules just before holidays," Katy Bachman wrote Thursday for Adweek. "Last year at this time, Chairman Julius Genachowski annoyed GOP lawmakers and even some of his fellow Commissioners with the vote to pass net neutrality.
"This year, to give outgoing commissioner Michael Copps one last chance to rail against media consolidation, the FCC circulated and voted on a notice of proposed rule-making on broadcast media ownership rules. One communications attorney said the timing of the release was 'consistent with their past practices when wanting to bury an item.'
"As expected, the proposed rule changes released by the Commission on Thursday left everyone unsated; the changes were just enough to disappoint media owners and leave public interest groups (and Copps) unsatisfied. The proposed rules would keep in place the loosening of the ban on cross-ownership proposed by former Chairman Kevin Martin, allowing companies to own both a newspaper and TV station in the top 20 markets."
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: Activist Groups Pan FCC Media Ownership Plan
Brian Stelter, New York Times: F.C.C. Seeks to Ease Media Ownership Rule
No column expected Monday.
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.