OWN CEO Christina Norman Out in Shakeup

"In an admission of dissatisfaction with the ratings for the 4-month-old OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, the head of that channel, Christina Norman, has been dismissed, the channel said Friday," Brian Stelter reported for the New York Times.

"Effective immediately, Peter Liguori, the chief operating officer for Discovery Communications, will take over the channel on an interim basis, through the rest of the year, if not longer.


"Discovery and Ms. Winfrey jointly own and operate OWN. The decision to dismiss Ms. Norman was made by the board that oversees OWN in the last few weeks, according to a person with direct knowledge of the decision.

"The shakeup comes amid disappointment at Discovery and at OWN about low ratings for most of its programming. On a total day basis, OWN is barely outperforming the channel it replaced, Discovery Health, despite hundreds of million of dollars of investment. David Zaslav, the chief executive of Discovery Communications, acknowledged last week that the channel has had a 'slower start' than expected.' "

OWN, which debuted in December in 85 million homes, represents a milestone in the quest for media ownership by women and people of color. Norman was a major part of it.

"The countdown has begun. In just three weeks one of television’s biggest experiments will launch," Jenna Goudreau wrote in December for Forbes Woman.

"The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), a joint venture between the media mogul and Discovery Communications, will hang its fate on the appeal of the world’s most recognizable woman. But behind the scenes, another female leader is busy laying the foundation for Oprah’s next favorite thing.

"TV veteran Christina Norman, chief executive of OWN since February of 2009, is charged with overseeing all business and creative areas of the cable channel and website. Norman previously spent 17 years at MTV, climbing from a freelance production manager to president of the network. The hard work and spotless record took its toll, however, causing an exhausted Norman to initially take herself out of the running for the OWN job. But after a few months of rest, she realized it was an opportunity she couldn’t walk away from.


"The Winfrey-Norman duo took off, creating a rare but incredible pairing: Two African-American, female leaders who single-handedly scaled mountains in the television industry. Now their success depends on each other."

But, Stelter reported Friday, "In an e-mail message to the staff at OWN on Friday, Ms. Winfrey said that Ms. Norman’s 'hard work, passion and leadership were instrumental in getting OWN on the air,' but added, 'Given all that we have to do, the OWN Board felt it was necessary that we have a different kind of leadership in place for the next phase of OWN’s growth.' "


". . . While Ms. Winfrey provided the live-your-best-life vision for the channel, it was Ms. Norman, a former president of MTV, who executed on that vision. She said in a prepared statement Friday, 'As I move on to my next challenge, I am confident the strong foundation we have built will position the network to achieve great things.' "

Joe Flint added in the Los Angeles Times, "The channel premiered with a mix of reality and self-help shows, but its ratings have not caught fire.


". . . Discovery has pumped north of $200 million into OWN, and there have been several executive changes inside the operation. Winfrey, who is giving up her daytime talk show to focus exclusively on the channel, is also expected to take on an even greater role at the cable network now that her day job is coming to an end."

The final episode of the syndicated "Oprah Winfrey Show" is to air May 25.

"After Winfrey takes time off after the show's finale, she and Liguori will start searching for a permanent CEO to lead the network, which is based in Los Angeles," Andrea Morabito wrote for Broadcasting & Cable.


It's Official: Unity Board Adjusts to NABJ's Resignation

The board of directors of Unity: Journalists of Color voted 13-2 Friday to to change its bylaws and articles of incorporation to reflect the withdrawal of the National Association of Black Journalists.


Mekahlo Medina of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Janet Cho of the Asian American Journalists Association told Journal-isms they voted against the motion. NABJ's John Yearwood was absent.

Joanna Hernandez, Unity president, said via email: "The UNITY board of directors met via conference call today to do the work necessary to comply with the NABJ board's decision to depart from UNITY.


"It was a sad and respectful meeting.

"Kathy Times' letter rescinding the appointments of the NABJ representatives on the UNITY board, as well as her own resignation from the UNITY board, effective Tuesday, May 10, 2011, was read for the record.


"The board then voted on removing references to NABJ from UNITY's Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.

"Each UNITY board member expressed their dismay and regrets, and the message was clear that the door will remain open for NABJ should their board decide to return to UNITY."


Cho told Journal-isms by email, "I listened to those who said we had to do it because NABJ had pulled out and for business reasons, so UNITY could move on. But as someone who's been to all four UNITY conventions, I couldn't imagine taking NABJ out of our UNITY bylaws and articles of incorporation. To me, it just felt too much like closing the door to the possibility that they might one day come back."

The NABJ board voted April 10 to withdraw from Unity because "as a business model, UNITY no longer is the most financially prudent for NABJ and its membership."


Remaining are AAJA, NAHJ and the Native American Journalists Association, who are planning a Unity convention in Las Vegas for 2012.

"Situation Room Photo" Speaks to Race, Gender, Swagger

"By now, the photo is a classic. It's become the most viewed image on Flickr — a mesmerizing picture that suggests as much as it reveals," John Blake wrote Thursday for cnn.com.


"You may know it simply as the 'Situation Room Photo,' but you may not be aware of what some say are three subliminal messages that make it so powerful and unusual.

"The photo captures President Barack Obama huddled with his national security team in the White House Situation Room as they monitor via live video the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden.


"Most commentators have focused on the historic nature of the photo: Obama staring at the screen with a grim intensity; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, covering her mouth . . . the epicenter of U.S. military power hunting down its most hated foe.

"But look deeper and that photo becomes historic in a more subtle way. It's a snapshot of how much this nation's attitudes about race, women and presidential swagger are changing, several scholars and historians say.


". . . For much of U.S. history, the black man has often been portrayed as the threat to America's safety — the angry man, the thug, the one you cross the street to avoid, says Cheryl Contee, co-founder of Jack & Jill Politics, a blog focused on current affairs from a black perspective.

"But in the Situation Room photo, Contee says, the black man is America's protector.


". . . The photo also resolves a tricky image problem for Obama, says Jerald Podair, a history professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.

"Podair says Obama has always been careful to avoid the angry black male stereotype in his public persona, but has acquired another image — that of detachment, even weakness.


"The photo of Obama hunkered down with his national security team watching the stalking and killing of bin Laden solves both problems, Podair says.

". . . Lori Brown, a sociologist, says showing two women at the center of American military power is noteworthy. . . .


". . . Obama's willingness to be photographed without the typical Oval Office swagger gives birth to a new type of swagger, says Contee of Jack & Jill Politics."

Chris O'Shea, FishbowlNY: Photo Editors Discuss Iconic Situation Room Photo, Get it Wrong


Washington Post: Breaking down the Situation Room

Bin Laden Death Gets 89% of Mainstream Media Coverage

"If it seems like the death of Osama bin Laden has been inescapable this week, from cable news to blogs to even your friends' Facebook statuses, that's because it's true," Toni Fitzgerald reported Friday for medialifemagazine.com.


"In just a few days, his death has become the biggest story of the year in both traditional and social media.

"On Monday and Tuesday, coverage of bin Laden accounted for 89 percent of mainstream media coverage, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, which tracks the biggest stories in media on a weekly basis.


"That's the most dominant performance for any story since the PEJ began its tracking four years ago.

"Details about the raid (25 percent) and U.S. and global reaction to bin Laden's death (24 percent) have taken up the greatest share of the news hole.


"The life of bin Laden has gotten the least amount of attention, at just 6 percent, which is perhaps not surprising considering that news organizations are wary of rewarding the actual man with attention and weary of revisiting territory they covered so thoroughly a decade ago, when it became clear al Qaeda was behind the 9/11 attacks.

"The PEJ also conducted an analysis of how the news is playing out in social media. Notably, for a culture that is often uncomfortable with expressing emotion, humor has been a major theme in the reaction to bin Laden's death."


Karima Bennoune, the Guardian, Britain: Remembering all al-Qaida's victims

Arshad Chowdhury, Washington Post: A Muslim American reflects on Osama bin Laden’s death


Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Releasing bin Laden’s Corpse Picture Dead Wrong

Uri Friedman, the Atlantic: Journalists Are Grumbling About Changing Raid Details


Leonard Greene, New York Post: Sadness will always tinge the celebration

Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Everything Proves That Torture Worked


Paul Kersey, Stuff Black People Don't Like 2.0: How White was the Navy SEALs Team that got Osama?

Marian Wang, ProPublica: Revisiting the Very First, Very Wrong Reports on Bin Laden’s Death


Marian Wang, ProPublica: Role of Torture in Finding Bin Laden: What We Actually Know

Omar Wasow, theRoot.com: Evolving Images of Obama and Osama

Marcy Wheeler ("emptywheel"), firedoglake.com: KSM Was Lying about OBL’s Location While Hiding the Courier Who Could Locate Him


"Geronimo" Code Name Angers Some Native Americans

"The Obama administration has sparked outrage in the Native American community following the revelation it used the name of the legendary Apache leader Geronimo as a secret code word during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden," according to the Pacifica Radio show "Democracy Now!"


"Geronimo was an Apache leader who fought to preserve tribal lands against U.S. and Mexican forces in the 19th century. We get reaction from Native American activist and writer, Winona LaDuke. 'The reality is that the military is full of native nomenclature,' says LaDuke. 'You’ve got Black Hawk helicopters, Apache Longbow helicopters. You’ve got Tomahawk missiles. The term used when you leave a military base in a foreign country is to go "off the reservation, into Indian Country." So what is that messaging that is passed on? It is basically the continuation of the wars against indigenous people.' "

Matthew Daly of the Associated Press reported Thursday, "The White House referred questions on the matter to the Defense Department, which said no disrespect was meant to Native Americans."


Ernestine Chasing, Native Sun News: Veterans upset by 'Geronimo' codename

Dan Farber, CBSNews.com: Osama bin Laden is no Geronimo

Neely Tucker, Washington Post: American Indians object to ‘Geronimo’ as code for bin Laden raid


Senate Oversight Hearing: "Stolen Identities: The Impact of Racist Stereotypes on Indigenous People"

Linda Stephan, Interlochen Public Radio: Many Native Americans Bristle At "Geronimo" Codename


New Black Channel Bounce TV Signs Deal for 26 Markets

"Bounce TV, a multicast channel for African Americans, has landed its first distribution deal and it’s a big one — Raycom Media," TVNewsCheck reported on Thursday.


"Starting this fall, when the network launches, Raycom will carry the new diginet in 26 markets covering 10% of U.S. TV homes and nearly 19% of African-American TV homes.

"Bounce TV said it expects to be in at least 50% of TV homes at launch with more distribution agreements to be announced shortly.


"The markets: Cleveland; Charlotte, N.C; Cincinnati; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Birmingham, Ala.; Memphis, Tenn; Louisville, Ky.; Richmond, Va.; Columbia, S.C.; Huntsville, Ala.; Shreveport, La.; Jackson, Miss.; Baton Rouge, La.; Savannah, Ga.; Charleston, S.C.; Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C.; Tyler-Lufkin, Texas; Augusta, Ga.; Montgomery, Ala.; Columbus, Ga.; Wilmington, N.C.; Albany, Ga.; Biloxi, Miss.; Hattiesburg, Miss; Dothan, Ala.; and Lake Charles, La."

Public Relations Field Grows While Newsrooms Shrink

"The muscles of journalism are weakening and the muscles of public relations are bulking up — as if they were on steroids," according to David Barstow, a New York Times investigative reporter.


In a story Monday on ProPublica, "PR Industry Fills Vacuum Left by Shrinking Newsrooms," John Sullivan describes how Barstow walked into a Houston hotel for December's hearings on the Gulf oil spill and found the conference room packed. "Most of the people busily scribbling notes in the room were not there to ask questions. They were there to answer them," Sullivan wrote.

". . . In their recent book, 'The Death and Life of American Journalism,' Robert McChesney and John Nichols tracked the number of people working in journalism since 1980 and compared it to the numbers for public relations. Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they found that the number of journalists has fallen drastically while public relations people have multiplied at an even faster rate. In 1980, there were about .45 PR workers per 100,000 population compared with .36 journalists. In 2008, there were .90 PR people per 100,000 compared to .25 journalists. That's a ratio of more than three-to-one, better equipped, better financed."


Despite Deceit, Andrew Breitbart Still Gets Airtime

"Let’s face it. LA’s resident conservative agitator Andrew Breitbart isn’t going away. His involvement in the Shirley Sherrod flap threatened to put him out to the woodshed of the public consciousness," Matthew Fleischer wrote Thursday for FishBowlLA. "But now, thanks largely to his protege James O'Keefe's NPR sting, Breitbart is back on Bill Maher and at the LAT Festival of Books and even written up by the Times itself. Breitbart has even inexplicably reemerged as one of the left-wing media’s go-to conservative pundits — much to the incredulity of the liberal blogosphere."


". . . Breitbart even found his way to MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan show last week — where the typically ornery liberal Ratigan went out of his way to call Breitbart a 'sharp shooter who gets results.' That didn’t sit well with Color of Change activist and Firedoglake blogger James Rucker — who felt Ratigan was bending over backwards to help restore Breitbart's undeserved credibility.

"Rucker interviewed Ratigan about Breitbart’s appearance.

" 'When I spoke with Ratigan, he explained what he was trying to do. He quickly agreed that Breitbart was a race-baiter, dishonest, and undeserving of credibility — without question. And he frankly hadn’t thought about the legitimizing effect that having Breitbart on his show — without clearly labeling him as the race-baiter and deceiver he is — would have."