‘Reparations’ Issue Best-Seller for the Atlantic

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In Appearance, Coates Also Makes a Case for Journalism

"The Case for Reparations," Ta-Nehisi Coates' brief in the Atlantic for why African Americans are owed a debt for the racial penalties paid for since slavery, "has brought more visitors to the Atlantic [website] in a single day than any single piece we've ever published," Atlantic editor James Bennet told a crowd of more than 800 people on Thursday.


As for the print edition, "It's still early, but at this point we've sold nearly twice as many copies of the June issue, as we did this same time last year," spokeswoman Anna Bross told Journal-isms this week. She added, "Since it's so early, still, this sales data is just for bookstores, not the full national newsstand distribution."

The reaction from African Americans has been "really, really joyous," Coates told a sold-out audience at Washington's Sixth and I Historic Synagogue.

"The white perspective is more interesting," Coates continued. "I get from white people, 'I had no idea!' "After all, Coates said, "Who talks about redlining? There's a kind of belief, 'Now I understand, OK, this makes sense.' "

Writing Friday for the Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg saw something larger:

"At the Sixth and I synagogue in Washington on Thursday night, people were reselling tickets out on the street as if a playoff game was taking place inside, rather than a talk by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for the Atlantic," Rosenberg began. "The subject of the event was Coates's recent cover story for the magazine, 'The Case for Reparations,' which has broken traffic records and vanished from newsstands.

"While the piece is popular, the turnout for Coates and the reception he received in the sanctuary reflected something larger than the enthusiasm for a single article. 'The Case for Reparations' managed to revive and reframe a major policy debate about race in the United States. But the piece is part of a larger project, a redefinition of what counts as a legitimate conversation about race in the United States and an attempt to define what intellectual credentials are required to enter that debate. . . ."

Coates' achievement also planted a flag for black journalists. Interviewed for more than an hour by the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, the national correspondent took his audience through a rhetoric-free conversation about ideas that was backed up by reporting.


Coates said, "It's very, very important … it's really, really important that, you know, if we're going to have this fight, that folks educate themselves on the history. You can oppose reparations all you want, but you got to know the facts. You really, really do.

"I don't want to single anybody out in that but I'm just going to say: We don't understand how much we don't understand.


"And it's quite a bit. It's really, really quite a bit.

"And I think, when people say, oh, you're just advocating another study because you're punting. No, you just have no idea how much you don't know. You know? We just don't. It's quite a bit. . . ."


To an allegation that talk of reparations is about people long gone, Coates pointed to people he'd interviewed in Chicago who had been cheated out of their rightful housing. "Tell that guy in North Lawndale that he's not owed anything," he countered, referring to one of his interviewees, a black migrant to Chicago named Clyde Ross who is now 91. "From the 1930s through the 1960s, black people across the country were largely cut out of the legitimate home-mortgage market through means both legal and extralegal," he wrote in the Atlantic. He told Thursday's audience, "People underestimate just how broad this is."

Goldberg noted that seven years after the end of World War II, Germans paid reparations to Jews, and he wondered how reparations came to be viewed as such a radical concept. Asked about African Americans who oppose the concept, Coates said he could not understand them. His advocacy is only for the bill introduced perennially by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., to study the issue.


In other parts of the discussion, Coates:

Talked about his frustration with magazines such as the New Republic, which had no blacks on staff yet would conduct conversations about race. "You see this, and it fills you with so much anger, that people could talk in elite rooms about us," Coates said, "as if we had nothing to say," he said. A spokeswoman for the New Republic did not respond to an email asking whether any journalists of color work there today.


Questioned why there is so much debate over black cultural issues, when there "is so little [data] on what we know," while there is solid research on policies such as redlining and the federal government's role in it.

Said he joined the Atlantic after being laid off from Time magazine, where he had started a story on Bill Cosby. After he took his notes with him and pitched the idea to others, one editor told him it was the kind of piece he would publish only if it were by someone like Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard scholar. Fortunately, another person suggested the Atlantic's Bennett, who published it.


Responded to the question, "Would you prefer more white people writing about this issue?" with a simple "yes."

Characterized Barack Obama as the right person to have become the nation's first black president. Filling that role "is extremely fraught, and I think he's about the only one who could do it," Coates said. Obama's statement after the verdict in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin "was remarkably deft. If I wanted someone to explain how African Americans feel to the rest of the country, I don't think it could have been done too much better."


Readers looking for the Atlantic in supermarkets and drugstores might be disappointed. "The Atlantic's three largest classes of trade are transportation: airports, bookstores and newsstands," Bross told Journal-isms by email. 

"As a smaller publisher, we have to be selective in where we distribute. We naturally have a smaller footprint in supermarkets and drugstores — combined, they contribute to 15% of our newsstand sales. We are working to expand our presence in supermarkets, primarily to Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Farm Fresh."


Kim Bellware, Huffington Post: Reparations Could Be So Much More Than A Check In The Mail (May 30)

Andrew Beaujon, Poynter Institute: Ta-Nehisi Coates has no plans to lead a political fight for reparations


Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic: The Case for American History: A reply to National Review's Kevin D. Williamson (June 2)

Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic: The Radical Practicality of Reparations: A reply to David Frum (June 4)


Matt Ford, the Atlantic: A Twitter Q&A With Ta-Nehisi Coates (June 4)

John Maki, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange: OP-ED: 'Fearful inheritance': What the Case for Reparations Means for Jail and Prison Reform


Beth Marlowe, Washington Post Express: Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the Atlantic's June cover story on reparations, responds to four common arguments against them

Rebecca J. Rosen, the Atlantic: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Not Knowing How Much You Don't Know (includes video)


Peniel E. Joseph, The Root: 'Case for Reparations' Explains How America Must Come to Terms With Its History (May 28)

Kevin D. Williamson, National Review: The Case against Reparations: A reply to Ta-Nehisi Coates.


In 4 Papers, Ruby Dee's Death Was Fully Front-Page News

The death of Ruby Dee, the actress and civil rights activist who died Wednesday at age 91, was front-page news in many newspapers, with at least a reference to a story inside. Others relegated the news to an inside page. However, at least four ran a full story that began on the front of the edition.


A glance through the Newseum's gallery of front pages showed full stories about Dee out front in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Kansas City Star and the Plain Dealer of Cleveland, published in the city where Dee was born.

"We put the obit out front because she had a big impact on American culture, and led such an interesting and accomplished life," Scott Vance, deputy managing editor of the Washington Post, said by email. "That impact included both her long, path-breaking career as an actress and her role in the civil rights movement. Fascinating story."


The Kansas City Star ran the Post story, by Sarah Halzack, on its front page. Managing editor Steve Shirk told Journal-isms by email, "It came down to this: she was a pioneer on two fronts — as an actress and as a civil rights leader. She had great, positive impact over many decades in both areas. Recounting that life seemed like a front page story. By the way, when Ossie Davis, her husband, died, we put that story on A1 as well."

In an appreciation, Plain Dealer television writer Mark Dawidziak highlighted Dee's Cleveland roots.


Although full stories did not appear on the front page, the Tampa Tribune ran a photo and reference to its inside story above the nameplate. The Jersey Journal, a tabloid, placed it right under the paper's name.

Dee's passing was also part of the "CBS Evening News," "NBC Nightly News" and ABC's "World News."


Writing Thursday for EURweb.com, Miki Turner noticed a stumble.

"It will be interesting to see how the media will cover the death of this entertainment and Civil Rights icon in the next few days," Turner wrote. "The New York Daily News already made the first blunder by referring to her as 'One of the greatest BLACK actresses.' That's just shameful and disrespectful. I sincerely doubt that Meryl Streep's obit will say that she was one of 'the greatest WHITE actresses.' The irony is that this was said about someone who fought the good fight so that her life and legacy would not be determined by the color of her skin. . . ."


Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post: Ruby Dee, a graceful yet fierce theatrical and political trailblazer

Cynthia Dagnal-Myron, Huffington Post: For Ruby Dee, Who Made Me Believe

Mandalit Del Barco, NPR: Ruby Dee: An Actress Who Marched On Washington And Onto The Screen


Ebony: Ruby Dee: An EBONY Collection Look Back [PHOTOS]

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: Acting, activism intertwined for Ruby Dee

Josie Pickens, Ebony: Remembering Ruby Dee

Diamond Sharp, The Root: Ruby Dee: Advice From a Legend

At Least 21 Black Columnists Gone Since 2008

"This week the city of Memphis, TN, lost its only female, African American metro columnist," Tracie Powell wrote Thursday for Columbia Journalism Review. "The editor in chief of The Commercial Appeal reassigned Wendi C. Thomas to lead the newspaper's cops and courts beat, a job she first had back in 1998. The move is part of the newspaper's efforts to reorganize for the digital era, according to an editor’s note.


"But being a columnist, Thomas said, was her 'dream job,' one she had performed in her hometown for nearly 11 years.

" 'I was hired as a columnist. It was a miracle that I got paid to tell people what I thought,' said Thomas, who wrote primarily about social justice issues. 'Now I’m back where I started.'


"Columnist jobs are considered plum assignments for newspaper journalists, achieved only after years of honing the craft as a reporter and editor. Historically columnists were well paid and given plenty of freedom to write just about whatever they wanted. The digital era, however, has turned that on its head, with commentary littering the Web. The difference, newspaper columnists say, is that their writing is always informed by reporting and adheres to journalistic standards; much of the commentary online does not.

"Newspapers, in general, have drastically cut the amount of staff they devote to commentary, according to a 2013 Pew Research Report. While no one officially keeps tally, Pew wrote that membership in the Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly The National Conference of Editorial Writers, had dropped from 549 in 2006 to just 245 in 2013.


"And while there have never been that many op-ed or metro columnists in other minority groups (Latino, Asian American or Native American), black columnists had made significant headway in securing these jobs. Now, they are being hit hardest in losing them. Since 2008, newspapers have laid off, reassigned, or retired at least 21 black opinion writers, according to the Maynard Institute's Richard Prince. In 2011, Prince called the exodus of black opinion writers 'a depressing trend.' . . ."

Politico Creates Journalism Institute, Aided by Maynard

"POLITICO announced today the creation of POLITICO Journalism Institute, an initiative focused on training the next generation of journalists and supporting diversity in Washington newsrooms," Olivia Petersen reported for Politico on Thursday. "The program will offer intensive, hands-on training for university students interested in covering government and politics.


"The first session will be held July 31-Aug. 8 with 10 student participants selected by a POLITICO editorial committee. Applicants who are rising juniors or seniors at accredited four-year colleges or universities will be given preference. Student members of minority journalism associations are encouraged to apply.

"Senior editors and reporters from POLITICO’s newsroom will work closely with those selected, with curriculum guidance provided by the American University School of Communication and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.


“ 'Since POLITICO launched more than seven years ago, we have made training the next generation a priority with programs like the POLITICO Fellowship, and with an overall dedication to hiring young journalists,' said POLITICO Publisher Robert Allbritton. 'We’re thrilled now to have this unique opportunity to give students from diverse backgrounds the chance to come to Washington and experience, in real time, how journalism works.'

“ 'This is a particularly important partnership, given the critical need for a more inclusive press corps covering politics and government in Washington,' added Maynard Institute President Dori J. Maynard. 'We are thrilled to be working with POLITICO to expand the horizons of a diverse group of aspiring journalists.'


"All costs, including room, board and transportation will be provided. Students will split time between American University in Washington, D.C., and POLITICO headquarters in Arlington, Va. . . ."

Univision's Ramos a Clubby Insider, Columnist Charges

Ruben Navarrette Jr., the nation's most widely syndicated Latino columnist, disparaged Jorge Ramos, descrbing "the most popular Latino news anchor in America" as a clubby insider this week in his column for the Washington Post Writers Group.


Navarrette noted that Ramos, anchor for Univision and Fusion, recently told Politico: "Journalists in the United States are very cozy with power, very close to those in power. They laugh with them. They go to the [White House] correspondents' dinner with them. They have lunch together. They marry each other. They're way too close to each other. I think as journalists we have to keep our distance from power."

The columnist continued, "In May 2010, Ramos kept his distance by attending — along with other prominent Latinos such as New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, actress Eva Longoria, and comedian George Lopez — a state dinner hosted by President Obama for Mexican President Felipe Calderon. The guests feasted on herb green ceviche of Hawaiian opah, Oregon wagyu beef in Oaxacan black mole, and chocolate-cajeta tarts.


"That menu is quite a step up from the ham sandwich and an apple that, according to an immigration lawyer I interviewed this week, Obama administration officials are giving twice a day to migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — mostly women and children, including toddlers — who are currently being warehoused by the Department of Homeland Security in detention facilities in Texas after streaming across the U.S.-Mexico border."

Navarrette also wrote, "As someone who has written about immigration for nearly 25 years, I have a few questions. Ramos doesn't seem to understand the complexity of the issue despite being an immigrant himself. From the anchor chair, and in interviews with everyone from New York Magazine to The Hollywood Reporter to Fox News, Ramos always explains the impasse in the most simplistic terms: It’s the Republicans' fault. . . ."


Navarrette concluded, "With Beltway journalists covering immigration by blaming Republicans, excusing Obama, and parroting administration talking points, Ramos is correct about the media being a club. But what he doesn’t see is that he's a member."

A spokeswoman for Univision did not respond to a request for comment.

CNN Crew Injured Covering Protest Against World Cup

"A CNN crew was injured after Brazilian police fired tear gas and stun grenades at a protest against the World Cup on Thursday," Jack Mirkinson reported Thursday for the Huffington Post.


"Reporter Shasta Darlington and her team were following one of the many protests that have emerged as the World Cup draws nearer. Many Brazilians are incensed by the money that has been spent on the games instead of social services, as well as broader societal issues.

"Darlington was on air when chaos erupted, as tear gas and stun grenades were fired. She kept reporting, but her producer was hit by one of the canisters. . . ."


In introducing a special report on press freedom in Brazil last month, the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote, "Brazil is home to vibrant media, but journalists are regularly murdered with impunity and critical journalists are subject to legal actions that drain resources and censor important stories. During the 2014 World Cup, this contradiction will be on vivid display. Does Dilma Rousseff's administration have the will and determination to beat back impunity and end legal harassment, allowing press freedom to thrive?"

Among CPJ's recommendations: "Develop procedures and training for law enforcement agencies to ensure that journalists can cover demonstrations in the weeks leading up to and during the FIFA World Cup without fear of attack or retribution."


Ben Cosman, thewire.com: CNN Team Flees from Tear Gas Attack While Covering World Cup Protests in Brazil

Mike LaSusa, CounterPunch: Race, Class and the World Cup in Brazil

Bryan Llenas, Fox News Latino: Are You A World Cup Know-Nothing? Here's A Primer To Help You Get In On The Fun


Majority of Blacks Now Say O.J. Simpson Was Guilty

"Twenty years after the start of the O.J. Simpson murder case, attitudes towards Simpson and towards race relations in the country have dramatically changed, according to a new national poll," CNN reported on Monday.


"Monday night's release of the CNN/ORC International survey comes just a few days before 20th anniversary of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson, the former football star and actor's ex-wife, and of Ronald Goldman. The case against Simpson and the ensuing more than eight-month-long criminal trial, dubbed the 'trial of the century,' engrossed the nation. Simpson was eventually acquitted.

"According to CNN polling in 1994, a large majority of whites thought Simpson was guilty, but six in ten African-Americans believed that the charges against Simpson were not true, a belief that persisted throughout the murder trial and its aftermath.


"Twenty years later, the new CNN/ORC poll indicates there has been a turnaround in attitudes towards the former football star, with a majority of blacks (53%) now saying that the murder charges against Simpson were true. The ten percentage point margin between those who said the charges against Simpson were true and those who said they were not true was within the survey’s sampling error for African-Americans. . . ."

Writing about the poll Tuesday for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, James Causey asked, "So why has there been a big change in African-Americans? The poll doesn't go into that, but I think the answer is simple: look at how Simpson's life has fallen apart.


"Even if he didn't do it, it was like he was living in a prison bubble. . . ."

Kent Babb, Washington Post: How the O.J. Simpson murder trial 20 years ago changed the media landscape


Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times: How my interview with O.J. almost ended in a fistfight

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: O.J. case has a different look 20 years later


Michael J. Socolow, medium.com: Squeezing Juice: Inside CNN's LA Newsroom During the Chase

Jesse Washington, Associated Press: A Black And White View Of The O.J. Simpson Case 20 Years Later


Elwood D. Watson, Huffington Post: The Simpson Trial in Retrospect

How Climate Change Affects Blacks' Kitchen Table Issues

"This week Ebony Magazine asks whether blacks care about climate change," Tracie Powell wrote Tuesday for alldigitocracy.org. "Earlier this month theRoot.com raised this question: Where's the Black Political Conversation on Climate Change?


" 'Barack Obama might be the only black person on the planet who cares about climate change,' Charles D. Ellison wrote following the announcement of new carbon dioxide emissions initiatives by the Obama Administration. 'Without clean air to breathe or unflooded land to live on, eventually not much else will matter. For that reason alone, it's time for black folks to get invested in the climate debate.'

"One reason black people and other ethnic groups may not talk much about global warming, carbon emissions and melting polar icecaps is because they don't make the connection with 'kitchen table' issues like having to pay more for gas or food. Another reason for the relative silence is that hardly any news organizations, local or otherwise, are reporting on how climate change is specifically impacting ethnic communities; ethnic news media aren’t making the connections either. The National Science and Technology News Service is hoping to change this by increasing interest in science, technology, engineering and math through media advocacy.


"Dr. Marshall Shepherd, a member of the news service, 2013 president of the American Meteorological Society and Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia, sat down with All Digitocracy to offer tips on how ethnic media, particularly black news organizations, can do a better job at covering climate change. . . ."

Brentin Mock, grist.com: The world is yours: Kids take the lead in the climate fight (June 5)


Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Ebony: Blacks Don’t Care About Climate Change Fact or Fiction?

ASNE Announces Minority Leadership Institutes

"The American Society of News Editors is thrilled to announce details of three Minority Leadership Institutes in 2014," the society announced on Friday:

"At NABJ: July 30-31, before the NABJ Convention & Career Fair in Boston

"At NAHJ: Aug. 6-7, before the NAHJ Multimedia Convention & Career Expo in San Antonio


"At ASNE/APME: Sept. 14-15, before the ASNE/APME conference in Chicago

"Open primarily to ASNE member organizations, each Institute will provide leadership and management training to about 15 mid-level editors and news directors from news organizations around the country. . . .


"ASNE has trained about 70 news leaders since its inception. . . ."

Short Takes


"In what has come to be known as the Friday, the 13th massacre, a week after announcing the redesign of El Diario, impreMedia announced yesterday the firing of 12 staff members, 8 of whom were union members," according to an emailed newsletter Saturday from the New York-based National Institute for Latino Policy. "This was in additional to 6 others let go in other impreMedia properties . . . It quoted from a Friday evening email to New York staffers from Francisco Seghezzo, CEO of ImpreMedia. [Added June 14]

The Radio Television Digital News Association has announced the winners of the 2014 RTDNA/UNITY Awards, which honor outstanding achievement in the coverage of diversity. They are: Alabama Public Radio, "Remembering 1963"; Michigan State University: "U.S. v. Narciso, Perez & Press"; Comcast Local Media Development: "His Dream, Our Stories: Stories: The Legacy of the March on Washington"; KUOW Public Radio: "Black in Seattle"; KABC-TV: "Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain"; PRI's The World: "Global Nation: Stories of a Changing America"; ESPN Films: "Venus Vs." Watch the winning entries


"After receiving a May 22 email about reporting issues surrounding a May 21 New York Times 'Upshot' piece by Nate Cohn proclaiming more and more Latinos are becoming this country’s next whites, 'Upshot' managing editor David Leonhardt sent the following response to me this morning:" Julio Ricardo Varela wrote Friday for LatinoRebels.com, " 'Mr. Varela, Thanks very much for your e-mails, and I’m sorry it's taken me awhile to respond. I understand that you have a different interpretation than Nate Cohn’s stories. I remain comfortable with those stories.' . . ."

"One of the first acts taken after The Inquirer's ownership was settled was the return of our oped page, which had been missing for nine months," Harold Jackson, editorial page editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, messaged Journal-isms on Thursday. Last month, Lewis Katz and cable magnate H.F. Lenfest won a heated auction for The Inquirer and its affiliated properties. Katz died May 31 in a plane crash. Jackson added, "The staff of 12 that I had when I became editorial page editor in 2007 is down to five. There has been no decision on restoring our single Saturday editorial page, which included editorials, letters, and commentary."


Steve Drummond of NPR called attention Friday to a style guide compiled by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. "So where to begin?" Drummond wrote. "The 'r' word has fallen out of use and good riddance. 'Handicapped,' too, for the most part. Generally we don't refer to people as 'disabled,' as in 'he's a disabled student.' One good rule of thumb: avoid adjectives. They too easily become labels. Instead, try 'students with disabilities. . . ."

"Last week in Atlanta, something fairly significant happened. Something that could begin to change so many things in the NFL," Mike Freeman reported Friday for Bleacher Report. "Two former players — Donovin Darius, who played in Jacksonville, and Patrick Kerney, who played most of his career in Atlanta — met with the entire Falcons football team. The team's players and coaches, with Darius and Kerney, spoke about a phrase that you will hear often in the coming months: culture of respect. There were three main topics discussed — all topics that are, and will be, huge issues in football. The first was the NFL having its first openly gay player, the second was hazing the third had to do with there being no place in the locker room for the use of the N-word. . . ."


"The owners of Univision Communications Inc., in their search for an exit, have held preliminary discussions in recent weeks with several media companies, including CBS Corp. . . . and Time Warner Inc., . . . according to people familiar with the matter," Shalini Ramachandran and Keach Hagey reported Thursday for the Wall Street Journal.

Listeners of Clear Channel stations are "fed a steady diet of racism and stereotyping," Jessica Gonzalez, National Hispanic Media Coalition executive vice president, said during a House hearing on media ownership rules, Joe Flint reported for the Los Angeles Times. "In her written testimony, she singled out KFI hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of 'The John and Ken Show.' The duo, she said, 'have mercilessly targeted Latinos, Korean Americans, Native Americans, gay men, and the poor.' . . ."


"Tracy Morgan's ex-wife, Sabina Morgan, is joining the '30 Rock' star's celebrity friends Louis C.K. and director Judd Apatow in calling for a video from his crash site to be removed from the Internet," Nancy Dillon and Chiderah Monde reported Friday for the Daily News in New York. "Sabina Morgan, who has three children with the comedian, is demanding that TMZ take down a video from the accident that shows Ardie Fuqua being pulled from the wreckage of the New Jersey Turnpike crash Saturday. . . ."

"A year ago, the daily editorial conference at Nigeria's Guardian newspaper might have paused to consider where on the inside pages to place a story about the latest Boko Haram attack," Tim Cocks and Andrew Heavens reported Thursday for Reuters. "These days there is no need to think. Major raids by the Islamist insurgents go front and center in the paper — and then further, generating comment pieces looking at every angle through the prism of Nigerian politics. . . ."


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