President Obama and Chicago Columnist Clarence Page Trade Jokes and Memories at Washington Dinner

President Barack Obama
Pool/Getty Images
President Barack Obama
Pool/Getty Images

Barons of D.C. Journalism Take Steps Toward Diversity

The Gridiron Club, celebrating its 130th anniversary dinner Saturday night, is evolving. This year's gathering of Washington journalists and the people they cover took place with an African American president of the club and a black president of the United States, both on the dais.


A veil of secrecy was lifted with off-the-record restrictions gone for all but video cameras and real-time bloggers and tweeters.

There was also, Gridiron President Clarence Page told Journal-isms, an effort to look more like America.

Not that its aging white male image has changed. President Obama remarked in his turn at the microphone:

"The Democratic Party recently analyzed the midterm elections, and concluded we have to spend more time focused on older white voters — which is why I’m here. . . ."

Obama also said, "This is also my first gridiron with a new press secretary, Josh Earnest, who's doing a great job. The other day, Josh came into the Oval and he said, 'I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that people are finally rallying around their charismatic African American president. The bad news — it's Clarence Page.”

Obama went on, "Clarence and I go way back."

Page, from Chicago like the president, said from his seat, "Way back.

"Way back," agreed Obama. "Before he took office, he felt comfortable asking me for tips on a being a successful black president. And I told him, you want to keep your birth certificate handy."


It was an event that one speaker said attracted "the most formidable collection of African American power brokers since Valerie Jarrett dined alone." Jarrett is Obama's senior adviser.

The quip was no doubt a reference to Obama administration officials, mayors such as D.C.'s Muriel Bowser (D) and Buffalo's Byron W. Brown (D) and such political friends as Donna Brazile and Vernon Jordan.


Such attendees weren't always present. In 1982, Phil Gailey wrote in the New York Times: "The Gridiron Club is not a dark cell of politicians or bureaucrats but a society of sunshine boys and girls from the Fourth Estate, a select group of journalists who have hit on what Clark Clifford, the Washington lawyer, has called the 'Golden Formula.'

"Speaking to the club in the days before it admitted women, Mr. Clifford said, 'You Gridiron men have discovered the Golden Formula. You have a big dinner each year; you get tickets for your respective bosses so they'll be seated with the bigwigs. Then you get all dressed up and appear before the throng as close intimates of the great and the near great, and, at the conclusion of the dinner, your efforts are warmly praised by the President of the United States. Boy, what an idea. How I wish that we lawyers might have thought of it first.'


"In something of a Spring ritual, one played out in white tie and jest, the ladies and gentlemen of the Gridiron gather to simultaneously lick and salt the wounds of the mighty, from the President to his Cabinet secretaries, from members of Congress to the White House staff. Reporters are barred from covering the event, and the evening's remarks, however newsworthy, are off the record. With a little inside help, however, reporters generally manage to find out some of what was said.

"The satirical sting of the club, delivered in song and dance routines by costumed reporters and pundits, leaves little or no swelling on its subjects, but it sometimes gives them a mild itch. Still, for many public officials, including some who wind up on the grill, a ticket to the club's annual dinner, March 27 this year, is almost as coveted as an invitation to the White House. . . ."


The more than 650 journalists, media executives, military officials, ambassadors, lawmakers and administration officials included a small number of black journalists, fewer  who are Hispanic, Asian American or Native American, and as many if not more newsmakers of color. Foremost among those newsmakers was retired baseball legend Hank Aaron, whose presence led to sustained applause on more than one occasion and, eventually, the posting of Judy Woodruff of PBS at his table to keep the well-wishers at bay.

Among journalists of color on the guest list were Jeffrey Ballou, news editor at Al Jazeera English; Gwen Ifill, co-host of the "PBS NewsHour"; Royal Kennedy, former television reporter; Gayle King of CBS News; Jessica Lee, retired USA Today reporter; Marcia Lythcott, Chicago Tribune Commentary page editor; Davan Maharaj, Los Angeles Times editor-in-chief; Derek McGinty, an anchor at WUSA-TV in Washington; Kevin Merida, a managing editor of the Washington Post; Yvette Miley, senior vice president and executive editor at MSNBC; Derek Murphy, executive vice president and general manager at USA Today; Page, a Chicago Tribune columnist; Lisa Page, acting director of creative writing at George Washington University and wife of Clarence Page; this columnist; Johnathan Rodgers, retired CEO and president of TV One; Terence Samuel, a Washington Post politics editor; Kenneth Strickland, Washington bureau chief of NBC News; and Vickie Walton-James, senior national editor at NPR.


"Like you, I'm committed to diversity and, I'm happy to report, so is the Gridiron," Page said afterward by email.

"I have tried to continue efforts by the only two previous African American Gridiron presidents, Carl Rowan and Bill Raspberry, to expand diversity in the Gridiron and, more important, in the larger pool of national Washington-based reporters from which we draw. Among other challenges, the club is limited to 50 active members at a time, and the turnover is very low, even with the accelerated pace of change brought on by the Internet age.


"As for attendees, diversity has increased by my estimate in rough proportion to the diversity of journalists and VIPs in Washington's media and other power circles, especially in the Obama era.

"It was my joy to use the extra tickets afforded to me by my elected office and my employer, Tribune Publishing, to bring in about 30 people, including yourself, who had never been to Gridiron before — a group that, in my view, 'looked more like America' than most of DC's major media have looked in the past, but we can always do better."


After years of complaints that the dinner was too secretive, the dinner was on the record this year to all but videographers, real-time bloggers and tweeters and television cameras. Not all were satisfied. "D.C. JOURNALISTS KICK OFF 'SUNSHINE WEEK' BY LIMITING COVERAGE OF THEIR NEWSMAKERS EVENT," read a headline Sunday on Jim Romenesko's media blog.

"To clarify our off-the-record policy, it has loosened in recent years to allow pool coverage for print media (the 'pencil press,' as we used to call it,) of speeches, song lyrics and descriptions of the shows, but not photos, videos, tweeting or blogging of the banquet program in progress," Page said by email.


Still, attendees got a chance to walk up to the dais and chat with the president of the United States, or found themselves seated next to sources who during the week might have hidden themselves behind a wall of secretaries or public-relations people.

They also could share smiles as the costumed journalists poked fun at colleagues playing Cuba's Castro brothers or North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, whose head exploded in one skit. The journalist-actors singed House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a parody of "Let's Stay Together," a few lines of which Obama once sang publicly (video). "Let's Smoke Together" simultaneously paid homage to a new law allowing home marijuana smoking in the District of Columbia and to Obama's efforts to quit smoking:

"I'm — I'm so annoyed with you/

"But all I can do is sue/ . . .

"Let me be the one you come running toooo/

"I want a legacy tooooo/

"Ooh, babe, let's smoke together/

"share a toke together, whether

"You like Marlboro Reds or Camels instead. . . "

Philip Bump, Washington Post: Why the Gridiron Dinner (and every other political roast) is dishonest


Michael H. Cottman, Hillary Clinton Wants Our Vote — So Why Wasn’t She In Selma? (March 10)

Jeremy Diamond, CNN: Obama's 7 best zingers at D.C. insiders' annual dinner

Fernando Espuelas, HuffPost LatinoVoices: Why Hillary Clinton Will Be the Next President


Daniel Garza, Fox News Latino: Obama's executive actions are polarizing Washington

Tamara Keith, NPR: 5 Obama Jokes That Stood Out From His Gridiron Club Routine

Colbert I. King, Washington Post: The GOP takes it a letter too far

Sam Levine, Huffington Post: Obama Says The GOP Has Just Shown How You Diminish Your Office


Evan McMurry, Mediaite: Bob Schieffer to Sen. Cotton: Do You Plan on Writing North Korea Next?

Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Lies, or a Fair Warning on Capitol Hill?

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: How Hillary can defeat Hillary

Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: Again the GOP members of Congress fail leadership test (March 10)


Michael D. Shear, New York Times: At Gridiron Club Dinner, Anyone and Everyone Is Fair Game for Obama

Ben Terris and Roxanne Roberts, Washington Post: President Obama jokes about Clinton’s e-mails, Scott Walker and marijuana at Gridiron Club dinner


Washington Post: Here are President Obama's full remarks from the Gridiron Club Dinner

Erik Wemple, Washington Post: SiriusXM radio host ousts guest who said Obama 'is a Muslim'


Sports Columnist's Show Pulled Before It Airs

Last month, Jason Reid quit his job as sports columnist and beat writer at the Washington Post to host a morning talk show on ESPN radio in Washington and write for "The new show — a blend of sports, entertainment and comedy — will air every weekday from 6 to 10 a.m. on ESPN 980 starting March 16," the Post's Scott Allen wrote on Feb. 20.


It was not to be.

" 'The Man Cave' — a new morning drive program co-hosted by Chris Paul and former Washington Post columnist Jason Reiddid not make its planned debut Monday on ESPN 980," Allen reported on the appointed day. Moreover, Paul Farhi added for the Post, "It's not clear whether it will ever air, at least with Reid running the show. What's more, the station executive who conceived the Reid-hosted program, Chuck Sapienza, resigned from the station Monday, apparently over the show's demise. . ."


Allen's story continued, "As Dan Steinberg previously reported, one person at Redskins Park said the widespread perception was that top Redskins officials were miffed by the hiring of Reid, a sometimes harsh critic of the team in recent years. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder also owns ESPN 980, which broadcasts the team’s games. It's unclear if those factors contributed to 'The Man Cave' not debuting as planned.

"Meanwhile, 106.7 The Fan took advantage of the news to mock its rival station and play up its own 'uncensored' coverage with three pre-recorded spots on Monday morning. Listen to the spots (audio) . . ."


Rick Carmean, CEO of Red Zebra Broadcasting, which operates ESPN 980, did not respond to a request for comment.

Reid remains an columnist, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told Journal-isms.


Dave McKenna, Deadspin: Did Dan Snyder Kill A Redskins Critic's Radio Show?

A New Rush to Judgment in Ferguson

When President Obama said in 2013 that the slain Trayvon Martin "could have been my son" or in 2009 said police "acted stupidly" in arresting Henry Louis Gates Jr. for breaking into his own home, conservative commentators howled that Obama was rushing to judgment.


Last week, as Mary Sanchez wrote Friday for the Kansas City Star, "It didn't take long for America to assert its lesser self after two police officers were shot in what officials quickly called an ambush in Ferguson, Mo.

"Social media, so often a barometer of all that is wrong with the collective soul of America, erupted.


"The sentiments were swift, furious and condemning: Eric Holder has blood on his hands. Barack Obama has blood on his hands. Any writer who has dared to call out the actions of the Ferguson police has blood on her fingertips. . . ."

On Sunday, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch put a big question mark in that narrative.


McCulloch said of Jeffrey Williams, 20, who was taken into custody in the police shooting, "It is possible that he was firing at someone other than the police." McCulloch said at a news conference that civilians had been situated between Williams, who fired from a car, and the officers who were wounded, Koran Addo reported Monday for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"He said Williams admitted firing the shots and indicated they were not aimed at police," Addo wrote.


On "Fox News Sunday," host Chris Wallace played a clip of Obama saying, "I think that what had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable, and was worthy of protest, but there was no excuse for criminal acts. And whoever fired those shots shouldn't detract from the issue"

Wallace said of Obama's remark, "it seemed to me it was very off kilter. I mean he — these are two policemen who had been shot and suddenly we're saying I hope that won't detract from the issue as if that's somehow a distraction from what was going on in Ferguson."


Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard said, "I think the comments from the president were reprehensible. This isn't a side issue. This is the issue. And if you look at the way that the White House and Eric Holder in particular treated the original shooting of Michael Brown, which was to hype it, to give it a ton of attention, when, in fact, the other Justice Department report completely exonerates Darren Wilson. And then there is sort of a shrug of the shoulders about the shooting of these two cops. I think it's disgusting. . . ."

Whether Williams meant to fire at police is to be determined. Still, the facts are not clear. Who among those who spoke will be first to admit he rushed to judgment?


Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Flash Point Ferguson

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie

Esther J. Cepeda, Washington Post Writers Group: The mirage of the rainbow coalition


Lee A. Daniels, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Black Americans' Threat from Whites Wearing Badges

Jarvis DeBerry, | the Times-Picayune: Toward understanding the anti-police anger in Ferguson


Mark Joyella, TVNewser: 'We All Hit the Floor': NBC News Producer Witnessed Ferguson Shooting

Christopher Mathias and Nick Wing, Huffington Post: Good People Don't Kill Cops, But Good Cops Sometimes Kill Good People


Evan McMurry, Mediaite: Marc Lamont Hill: Cable News Went into 'Pro-Wrestling Mode' on Ferguson

Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Policing the mentally ill is often a question of life or death (March 10)


Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: 'Race relations' a nebulous thing in the hands of pollsters (March 10)

Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: New shooting in Ferguson sets right wing shrieking


OU Frat Incident Renews Debates on N-Word, Racism

"It is a quirky coincidence," Mary Mitchell wrote Saturday for the Chicago Sun-Times.


"Shortly after Kanye West released his 'All Day, n****” single, a video surfaced showing members of the Oklahoma University Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity singing a racist rant.

"The punishment was so swift it made my head swim.

"Within hours, the chapter was disbanded and its members forced to clear out of the frat house. In a final harrumph, workers snatched the fraternity's Greek letters from the residence. . . ."


Mitchell also wrote, "Obviously, Kanye West isn't writing lyrics for people who grew up listening to Smokey Robinson. Still, the truth is African-Americans are keeping this racial slur alive.

"At the height of his career, comedian Richard Pryor publicly agreed to stop using the word. Nearly a decade ago, the NAACP had a mock funeral for the racial slur, and still it rises.


"West uses the N-word more than 40 times in 'All Day n****.'

"When he debuted the song at the 2015 Brit Awards last month, only R&B singer Lionel Ritchie complained.


" 'I don't think it's OK for a black man to use the N-word,' Richie told a reporter. 'And I am a black man. I don't think it should be said and become normal.'

Mitchell concluded, "When it comes to the impact the 'N-word' has on the black psyche, whose usage of this hateful word is causing the most harm?"


Meanwhile, actor Terrence Howard, starring in the season's big television hit "Empire," told Entertainment Weekly on Feb. 27, "I'm mad that we don't say n—- in the show. Why is TV showing something different from the reality of the world? Why is there a thing called censorship that [stops] people from hearing everyday talk? We use n—- every day. It's become part of a conversation — why aren't we using it in the show?"

David Rambo, a writer and co-executive producer on the show, and Taraji P. Henson, who plays Cookie Lyon, disagreed with Howard, Yesha Callahan wrote Monday for The Root.


Jarvis DeBerry, | the Times-Picayune: When brotherhood is mixed up with bad behavior, who steps forward to talk?

Dallas Franklin and KFOR-TV, Oklahoma City: Cook who lost job after fraternity’s racist chant gets job offer


Karen Fratti, LostRemote: 'Empire' is Twitter's New Favorite Show

Sam Fulwood III, Center for American Progress: Race and Beyond: Why Does Racism Surprise Us?


Emil Guillermo blog, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Post-Selma rap lessons from "Fresh Off The Boat," OU's SAE, and President Obama

Jon Lafayette, Broadcasting & Cable: Fox Getting Big Bucks For 'Empire' Season Finale


Harlan McKosato, Indian Country Today Media Network: Never Back Down From Racism

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: After frat video scandal, good and bad parenting


Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Expelled frat boys are denied a lesson

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Fraternity boys and the long shadow of racism

Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: The creature called racism is still on the prowl in the U.S.


J-Class Finds Innocent Made to Look Like Criminals

"One of the little-noticed side effects of New York's long, failed experiment in arresting huge numbers of people on minor charges is a tidal wave of erroneous and incomplete information that has polluted literally millions of electronic files, in ways that make innocent people look like criminals," Errol Louis wrote March 10 in the Daily News of New York.


Louis also wrote, "To understand the dimensions of the crisis, check out, where the nonprofit news website City Limits just published the findings of a group of investigative reporters from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism." Louis and Tom Robbins, with assistance by Jack D'Isidoro, edited the project, conducted by a class on urban investigative reporting at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. Louis and Robbins taught the class.

As one example, a grim fate "befell Juan Carlos Guzman, a legal permanent resident who got pulled out of the airport line when traveling back to New York from the Dominican Republic in 2013," Louis wrote in his Daily News column.


"Guzman was held in custody for three months and faced deportation proceedings because his rap sheet listed two felony robberies. But it turned out that the offenses, committed when he was 14, were supposed to be sealed; in fact, the 40-year-old Guzman eventually got the original folder stamped 'SEALED - YO' (youthful offender) in big, red letters.

"Some anonymous clerk, it seems, failed to make sure the filed was sealed — a paperwork error that nearly cost Guzman everything. . . ."


Meanwhile, Kelly Weill of reported Friday, "Computers operating on the New York Police Department's computer network at its 1 Police Plaza headquarters have been used to alter Wikipedia pages containing details of alleged police brutality, a review by Capital has revealed."

Weill also wrote, "Computer users identified by Capital as working on the NYPD headquarters' network have edited and attempted to delete Wikipedia entries for several well-known victims of police altercations, including entries for Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo. Capital identified 85 NYPD addresses that have edited Wikipedia . . ."


NBC News Division Coalescing Around Lester Holt

"There hasn't been a lot to celebrate at NBC News lately. But on Tuesday the daily network-wide editorial meeting began with a loud round of applause for Lester Holt and 'NBC Nightly News,' "Brian Stelter wrote Friday for


"Holt was coming off his best week in the nightly news ratings since being thrust into the anchor job on Feb. 9, when Brian Williams was benched because of an ethics scandal.

"NBC News President Deborah Turness announced the ratings results in the 9:30 a.m. meeting and congratulated Holt, executive producer Pat Burkey and the entire staff. It was a moment of triumph for Holt — and another sign that the troubled news division is coalescing around him.


"NBC executives may decide to rehabilitate Williams and let him return to his 'Nightly News' chair at the end of his six-month unpaid suspension in August. Some viewers say they're protesting the show until Williams resumes anchoring. Their rallying cry on Facebook is 'Bring Brian Back,' or 'BBB.'

"But those complaints have been drowned out, because for over a month now, Holt has held his own and, with one exception, kept 'NBC Nightly News' #1. . . ."


Jay Rosen blog, NBC would be insane to let Brian Williams return

NAHJ Supports Fired Mexican Broadcast Journalist

"An influential Mexican broadcast journalist whose report about the first lady's mansion caused a scandal has been sacked, sparking anger among supporters who called her firing an affront to freedom of speech," Laurent Thomet reported Monday for Agence France-Presse.


"Carmen Aristegui had been publicly feuding with her employer, MVS Radio, in recent days after two of her investigative reporters were fired by the company.

"She complained about the dismissals on the air on Friday, demanding that her colleagues be reinstated and lamenting about an 'authoritarian wind' in the country. . . ."


In the United States, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists issued a statement of support for Aristegui.

"This is a sad day for journalism in Mexico," said Mekahlo Medina, NAHJ president. "Carmen is Mexico's most critical journalist voice and we stand with her as she fights to deliver the necessary information and news only Carmen can deliver to the Mexican people."


The AFP report continued, "MVS said the two journalists had been fired for using the company's name without permission in their participation in MexicoLeaks, a website created by civic groups and other media outlets, to receive leaked documents showing acts of corruption.

"MVS said on Sunday that it parted ways with Aristegui because she had conditioned her staying with the broadcaster on the company reinstating the two reporters. In a statement, MVS said it could not allow one of its collaborators to 'impose conditions and ultimatums on the administration.' . . ."


Jo Tuckman, the Guardian: Whistleblowers wanted: Mexican journalists seek tips through website

Fellowship Sends Journalists of Color Abroad to Report

"The Bringing Home the World Fellowship helps U.S.-based minority journalists cover compelling yet under-reported international stories, increasing the diversity of voices in global news," the International Federation of Journalists says in an announcement.


"The program helps level the playing field and redress the inequality minority journalists often face by giving them the opportunity to report from overseas and advance their careers."

Journalists of color who have accepted trips abroad sponsored by foreign governments or interest groups have said they did so because they did not have the backing of a news organization to pay their way, even though mainstream news organizations frown on such arrangements as conflicts of interests.


The IFJ notice continued, "In previous years, fellows have produced more than 120 stories, enriching their communities with new perspectives on global issues. Many of the fellows’ stories have been hard-hitting reports that have exposed abuses and corruption, as well as documented the extraordinary lives of unsung people. A quarter of the reporters have won awards for their coverage. Fellows' stories have appeared in news media ranging from NPR to the Miami Herald to the Daily Beast, with a combined reach of more than 100 million people. . . ."

The 2015 fellowship is sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Brooks and Joan Fortune Family Foundation and United Airlines. The application deadline is March 31.


The National Association of Black Journalists formerly awarded $5,000 fellowships to journalists seeking international reporting experience through self-conceived assignments in Africa through NABJ's Ethel Payne Fellowship, but the program has not been funded in recent years.

Short Takes

Byron Pitts, co-anchor of ABC's "Nightline," told Lauren Klinger of the Poynter Institute Monday that he writes thank-you notes to every subject of a story and to the people who help him out. "He keeps the notes in his bag everywhere he goes, and keeping up with people after their story aired has led to those people being sources for future stories. 'The person you talk to on Monday who is a victim of something,' he said, 'on Friday, they're an expert on that.' . . ." Pitts also offered observations on covering race, diversity, handling emotional stories and dealing with catastrophe.


The Boston Globe, the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, the Boston Herald and GateHouse Media Massachusetts planned to join last weekend in an unprecedented, coordinated condemnation of Secretary of State William Galvin's rulings on the state's public records law. The Globe editorialized that Galvin's office "has established the police as the arbiters and censors of arrest records. In one recent case described in a story this week by Globe reporter Todd Wallack, Galvin's office ruled that Boston police can withhold the names of five police officers who were caught driving drunk. . . ."

"Comedy writer Robin Thede has spent the past few years putting jokes in the mouths of high-profile entertainers, including Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Samuel Jackson, and Queen Latifah. Now she's the first black woman to head up a late-night comedy writer's room, for what's likely the most diverse staff in late night: The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore . . .," Lisa Liebman reported Monday for


In Atlanta, "It was kind of expected given Karyn Greer's mysterious disappearance from 11 Alive the past seven weeks, but she officially announced her departure Sunday afternoon on her public Facebook page," Rodney Ho reported for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"NPR's still-new CEO Jarl Mohn seemed to be trying to play it safe when he went on The Diane Rehm Show last week, but he still said a few things that might cause him headaches," Adam Ragusea reported Thursday for Mohn said, "Whether it's racial, or age, or geographic [diversity], it doesn't make sense to do shows just targeted to that audience. I think all of our programming, every bit of it, needs to have all of these voices within those shows." However, Maria Hinojosa of NPR's "Latino USA," "a pioneering Latina journalist on both public radio and TV, said that her show was always conceived of as a conversation among Latinos, for Latinos, on which other types of people could listen in. It therefore serves a very different function than public media reporting that's aimed at a general audience. . . ."


"The groundbreaking PBS documentary series AMERICA BY THE NUMBERS WITH MARIA HINOJOSA (ABTN), which examined the changing demographics of the U.S., was a huge success in its first season broadcast on World Channel and public TV stations across the nation," the show announced on Friday. "Premiered in fall 2014 as the first national program dedicated to examining how quickly the nation is becoming more diverse and how those changes are playing out in local communities across the U.S., the series attracted a younger and more diverse audience to public television, while maintaining the established audience for PBS news and public affairs. . . ."

"Freedom's Journal, the first African-American newspaper, was founded on March 16, 1827," David Shedden noted for the Poynter Institute.


In Charlotte, N.C., "Management held meetings this week in the WBTV (Channel 3) newsroom to address staff concerns about racial sensitivity," Mark Washburn reported Saturday for the Charlotte Observer. "On Wednesday morning, a photographer was heard whistling in the newsroom the folk tune 'Dixie,' whose origins date to the blackface minstrel shows of the 1850s before becoming an anthem for Southern forces in the Civil War. Several African American staffers were in earshot. . . ."

"The New Republic, which recently relaunched under new editor Gabriel Snyder, continued restaffing its editorial bench with three hires Thursday afternoon," Jeremy Barr reported Thursday for " national reporter Suzy Khimm is joining T.N.R. as a senior editor, focused on politics and policy, Snyder announced in a memo to staff. Khimm is a former Washington Post journalist, and was considered a marquee hire for MSNBC at the time. . . ."

"CBS has promoted Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i to senior VP of entertainment diversity and communications, Elizabeth Wagmeister reported Thursday for Variety. "Smith-Anoa’i will expand the scope of her duties as CBS' top entertainment diversity exec with a mandate to develop new recruiting and talent scouting programs. She will continue to liaise with industry orgs, guilds and advocacy orgs on diversity and employment outreach issues on both sides of the camera. . . ."


"Ernesto Sánchez has left New York City to become Editor-In-Chief of Variety Latino, based in Los Angeles," Veronica Villafañe reported Friday for Media Moves. "His first day on the job is today. Ernesto Sánchez spent the past two years as the Editor In Chief for, overseeing the editorial operation and content strategy of the website. . . ."

"Along with the New Era and the support of several local people, I'm applying this year for a state historical marker for Ted Poston in Hopkinsville, Jennifer P. Brown, opinion editor, wrote Sunday for the Kentucky New Era in Hopkinsville. "Anyone who is interested in joining the effort can contact me at the paper." Poston (1906-1974) was the first African American reporter to spend his career at a mainstream daily, the New York Post.


"Boxing legend Muhammad Ali is lending his voice to call for the release of Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter who has been detained in Iran since July 2014 for unclear reasons," Lucy McCalmont reported Thursday for the Huffington Post.

"The Wall Street Journal today quotes at length from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) 'first easily accessible media liaison' and explicitly grants the source anonymity in an article titled 'Al Qaeda Gets Media Makeover in Yemen,' " Ryan Goodman wrote Friday for "This is an especially interesting marker following the ruckus in January when FBI Director, James Comey sent a letter to The New York Times stating: 'Your decision to grant anonymity to a spokesperson for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula … is both mystifying and disgusting'. . . ."


Reporters Without Borders said Monday it "hails the withdrawal of charges against William Parra, a TV reporter wrongly accused of abetting Colombia's rebels, and urges the Colombian authorities to compensate him for his long legal battle to prove his innocence, during which he fled to Venezuela. The Colombian prosecutor-general's office finally abandoned the seven-year-old proceedings against Parra on 11 March. . . ."

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate in Algeria, the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), expressed concern Thursday about violations of press freedom in the country, after the conviction of a journalist to a term imprisonment and arbitrary withdrawal of the accreditation of another, IFJ reported in French.