Rob Parker Gets Online Columnist Gig

Rob Parker (ESPN)
Rob Parker (ESPN)

Keith Clinkscales Praises "Strong Voice at ESPN"

Less than a month after ESPN decided not to renew his contract over controversial remarks he made during the "First Take" talk show, commentator Rob Parker has landed a columnist's spot on Keith Clinkscales's new digital sports platform.


A Wednesday news release began, "Today, announced award-winning sports columnist Rob Parker has been added to its roster. Parker’s first column for the newly unveiled website will be published Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013.

" 'There is no doubt that Rob's love of sports permeates everything he does,' says Editor-in-Chief Vince Thomas. 'We are truly excited that he has Rob's hard-hitting and honest opinions make him a standout sports columnist who can reach fans in print and online spaces, as well as radio and television.' "

During a Dec. 13 episode of "First Take" on ESPN2, Parker was discussing Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Parker said in the fateful broadcast:

"Some people I've known for a long time. My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is … is he a 'brother,' or is he a cornball 'brother'? He's not really … he's black, but he's not really down with the cause. He's not one of us. He's kind of black, but he's not really like the guy you'd want to hang out with. I just want to find out about him. I don't know, because I keep hearing these things. He has a white fiancée, people talking about that he's a Republican … there's no information at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Tiger Woods was like, 'I have black skin, but don't call me black.' People wondered about Tiger Woods early on — about him."

At first, ESPN said it was "conducting a full review" of a situation in which the network aired remarks that many considered offensive. Then, on Dec. 20, the network said it had decided to suspend Parker for 30 days, tighten editorial oversight of the "First Take" show and was taking "appropriate disciplinary measures" against employees who played a role in allowing Parker's remarks on the air.

Clinkscales, an entrepreneur, former magazine publisher and former ESPN executive, told Journal-isms Wednesday by telephone, "I've known Rob for several years. He had a strong voice at ESPN. As management decided they were going to go in a different direction with the show, it gave us an opportunity to have some discussions about working together on this venture."


Parker told Journal-isms Wednesday he writes a column for and has continued his work at Detroit's WDIV-TV. He is a contributor to that station's "Sports Final Edition," which airs Sunday nights, News Director Kim Voet has told Journal-isms. Parker said he also owns a Detroit barbershop, Sporty Cutz, and hot dog carryout, All-Star Dawgs.

Parker, then a sports columnist with the Detroit News, resigned from the News in 2009. He had been demoted to general assignment sports reporter in the fallout from a news conference question to the coach of the Detroit Lions NFL team that drew criticism from management, readers and other sports journalists.


Before that, Parker apologized for implicating Michigan State University backup quarterback Kirk Cousins in an off-campus assault. Parker made the statement on WDIV-TV's "Clubhouse Confidential."

Back in 1991, Parker was brought up on charges by the Newspaper Guild for crossing picket lines during a bitter strike at the New York Daily News. The charges were later dropped and Parker moved on to the Cincinnati Enquirer.


The Shadow League news release said, ". . . Parker has enjoyed an illustrious career in sports journalism for more than twenty years. The famed writer has broken many boundaries, garnering acclaim as the first black sports columnist in the newsrooms of the Detroit Free Press and Newsday. He is also a distinguished Baseball Hall of Fame voter.

"Additionally, Parker has written for the New Haven Register, the Detroit News and the New York Daily News. Most recently, Parker spent eight years with ESPN, debating hot topics on ESPN’s '[FirstTake],' riding the airwaves of ESPN Radio and writing for the affiliate [ESPN New York]."


Poll: Blacks Trust Fox Far Less Than Other Groups

African Americans trust Fox News Channel far less than whites and Hispanics, according to a new survey, and trust CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC and CBS more than whites do.


Among whites and Hispanics, Fox News Channel was both the most trusted and least trusted television news outlet surveyed by Public Policy Polling, an outfit that predicted, state by state, the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.

Overall, "PPP's annual poll on TV news finds that there's only one source more Americans trust than distrust: PBS [PDF]," a news release said Wednesday. "52% of voters say they trust PBS to only 29% who don't trust it. The other seven outlets we polled on are all distrusted by a plurality of voters." The Spanish-language networks were not surveyed.


"Just like its actual ratings, Fox News has hit a record low in the four years that we've been doing this poll," the authors continued. "41% of voters trust it to 46% who do not. To put those numbers into some perspective the first time we did this poll, in 2010, 49% of voters trusted it to 37% who did not." PPP surveyed 800 voters nationally from January 31st to February 3rd. The margin of error for the survey was +/-3.5%.

Viewers' choices matched their politics. ". . . We find once again this year that Democrats trust everything except Fox, and Republicans don't trust anything other than Fox. . .," the authors said.


The results for "trust ABC?" were:

Trust it — Overall, 32 percent; Hispanics, 47 percent; whites, 27 percent; African Americans, 44 percent; other, 42 percent.


For "trust CBS?":

Trust it — Overall, 34 percent; Hispanics, 51 percent; whites, 29 percent; African Americans, 45 percent; other, 40 percent.


For "trust CNN?":

Trust it — Overall, 38 percent; Hispanics, 53 percent; whites, 33 percent; African Americans, 54 percent; other, 44 percent.


For "trust Fox?":

Trust it — Overall, 41 percent; Hispanics, 43 percent; whites, 43 percent; African Americans, 29 percent; other, 37 percent.


For "trust MSNBC?":

Trust it — Overall, 35 percent; Hispanics, 41 percent; whites, 30 percent; African Americans, 57 percent; other, 45 percent.


For "trust NBC?":

Trust it — Overall, 39 percent; Hispanics, 57 percent; whites, 32 percent; African Americans, 60 percent; others, 46 percent.


For "trust PBS?":

Trust it — Overall, 52 percent; Hispanics, 65 percent; whites, 47 percent; African Americans, 63 percent; others, 65 percent.


Tommy Christopher reported in January for Mediaite that MSNBC ". . . enjoyed significant (around 20%) ratings increases across the board" in 2012, "but made astonishing gains with their already-large African American audience, growing that audience by 60.5% for the Mon-Sun 8pm-11pm period. . . .

"In that same time period, CNN grew its black audience by 23.7% (from 131,000 in 2011 to 162,000 in 2012, 23.9% of their total audience), while Fox News' declined by 23.7% (38,000 in 2011 to 29,000 in 2012, 1.4% of their total audience), but MSNBC had more black viewers than both of those nets combined (from 177,000 in 2011 to 284,000 in 2012, 31.4% of their total audience). . . . "


Shirley Carswell Leaving Washington Post After 25 Years

A day after Kevin Merida was named the first African American managing editor at the Washington Post, Shirley Carswell, a black journalist who for years administered the multimillion-dollar budget for the Post newsroom and became deputy managing editor in 2009, confirmed that she taking a buyout after more than 25 years.


"Yes, I am going to be leaving at the end of March," Carswell told Journal-isms by email, adding later by telephone, "I am leaving because it feels like the right time. I've been at the Post about half of my life. I've really been doing some version of the job for 20 years."

She said she doubted she would return to a newsroom — otherwise, why leave the Post? — but said she was not ruling anything out. Carswell said she plans to get some rest, then "take some time and travel."


Carswell succeeded her mentor, Milton Coleman, in the deputy managing editor's position. When Coleman left the newsroom in January, it was Carswell who notified the newsroom that his retirement was imminent.

Last May, in the wake of a buyout offer that disproportionately claimed journalists of color, Carswell was named to head the newspaper's recruiting, hiring, diversity and training efforts.


Her duties as the newsroom's budget manager were shifted to Newsroom Budget Director Raquel Edora. She retained authority over newsroom real estate, deciding who should sit where, and was in charge of newsroom IT and operations.

"Anyone who has worked with Shirley knows that she is a center of calm in a bureaucratic [whirl]," Marcus Brauchli, then executive editor, said in the 2009 appointment. "She is a master of her arts, managing the integration of our print and online operations, bringing together our two staffs into a common team, rebuilding offices and running budgets.


"Shirley grew up in Pittsburgh, earned her undergraduate journalism degree at Howard University, and worked in Richmond and Detroit before joining the Post in 1988 as a copy editor. She's been Assistant Managing Editor since 1994, after a succession of jobs that included metro copy chief."

Carswell has also been active in the Washington Association of Black Journalists. In 2005, she won election as treasurer after running because "righteous indignation got the better of me. I was really pissed off when I heard somebody stole the money." WABJ had discovered that $4,200 in chapter funds was missing.


Also at the Post, Senior Editor Peter Perl, whose recent responsibilities included hiring, training, evaluating and other personnel matters, announced Tuesday that he was retiring after 32 years.

U.S. Black Journalists Join Global News Operation

Several black journalists whose names have appeared in this column over the years — Lyne Pitts, Gary Anthony Ramsay, James Blue, Jeff Koinange and Debbye Turner Bell — are part of Arise News, a 24-hour international TV news operation that launched Wednesday, the Vanguard newspaper reported from Lagos, Nigeria.


The network is "set to rival existing giants in the global market" and will be "broadcasting from its main News Centres in London, New York, Johannesburg and Lagos," the newspaper said.

"ARISE NEWS, will have a strong African footprint and serve underserved communities in the USA and other parts of the world, supported by a further eight bureaux around the globe stretching from Beijing to Rio de Janeiro.


"A sister channel, ARISE 360, which will be entertainments-based with fashion, music, sport and pay per view films, will start broadcasting toward the end of this year.

"The 'arrival' of the network was announced by company executives in London and New York.


"Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of ARISE NEWS and ARISE 360 is Nduka Obaigbena, owner and publisher of the fashion and culture magazine, ARISE, and the publisher of several other titles including one of Nigeria's daily newspapers, THISDAY.

"Mr. Obaigbena said: 'We will attract a global audience interested in emerging markets, developing countries and evolving politics. With headquarters and bureaux throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, we are ready to speak to our audience and give them a voice as well.'. . . "


Pitts "is heading up the US operation from a vast studio complex in New York." She was named one of five vice presidents of NBC News in 2007 and spent 23 years at CBS News, where she was a producer. She left NBC News in 2009 and is married to CBS News national correspondent Byron Pitts.

Ramsay, director of U.S. news and operations, is a former president of the New York Association of Black Journalists and former NY1 reporter. He left the station in 2007 after calling an NY1 talk show and falsely identifying himself as "Dalton from the upper East Side" to give his opinion about a story on former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, according to the Daily News in New York. The story says Ramsay "has covered conflicts from Kosovo to Iraq."


Blue, director of current affairs and special projects based in Washington, was an Emmy and Peabody award-winning producer with ABC News' "Nightline" and NBC's "Today." In 2011, he produced the documentary "Michelle Obama on a Mission: Impact Africa," for BET.

Koinange, formerly CNN's star Africa reporter, is to be based in Johannesburg as an anchorman and correspondent. He left CNN in 2007 after a blog in Kenya accused him of being "the Kenyan date rape journalist." The Kenyan-born journalist's CNN bio said at the time, "He has reported on major events from all across the African continent."


Turner Bell, Miss America of 1990, has been a correspondent for CBS News'  now-defunct "The Early Show." She is to be a regular anchor for Arise America. Turner Bell left CBS last year.

Others named in the story are Nigerian-born John Chiahemen, a former Reuters bureau chief, as managing editor and head of Africa; David Glencorse, a former Sky News anchorman, international reporter and Royal Television Society award winner, as global editorial director of the company; Nick Jennings, a former head of international news at Sky News, as director of news and news gathering; and Gavin Hill, until recently an award-winning ITV producer of documentaries, as director of features.


Rep. Cardiss Collins, Media Diversity Advocate, Dies at 81

Cardiss Collins, for many years the only black congresswoman, the first African American woman to represent Illinois in Congress, and one who took an interest in media issues involving people of color, died Sunday at age 81, according to news reports.


"Family friend Mel Blackwell said Mrs. Collins died of complications from pneumonia Sunday evening at a hospital in Alexandria, Va.," Lauren Fitzpatrick reported Tuesday for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Dwight Ellis, right, with Rep. Cardiss Collins, D-Ill., and Grant Tinker, chairm
This image was lost some time after publication.

Dwight Ellis, who for two years was Collins' chief of staff, told Journal-isms by telephone that Collins was the first African American to serve on the House Communications Subcommittee. Ellis, a vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters from 1980 to 2004, said he wrote Collins' speeches and advised her on communications issues.

"In 1972, George Collins was killed along with Dorothy Hunt, wife of Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt, and CBS News correspondent Michele Clark after their Midway-bound plane crashed on Chicago’s Southwest Side," the Sun-Times story recalled.


"Mayor Richard J. Daley chose to slate the widow as the Democratic endorsed candidate over nine others, saying, 'We’re all convinced she’ll make a great congresslady.' " [Clark became the namesake for the summer training program for minority journalists at Columbia University that evolved into the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.]

The website Black Americans in Congress noted, "Collins also worked to prevent federal tax write-offs for advertising firms that discriminated against minority-owned media companies. Hoping to 'provide black and other minority station owners with a mechanism for redress,' Collins argued that financial penalties for offending agencies would help combat discrimination and level the playing field for all media organizations. She also crusaded against gender and racial inequality in broadcast licensing. On several occasions, Collins introduced legislation to preserve Federal Communications Commission policies designed to increase the number of women and minorities owning media companies."


Collins also became chair of the Communications Brain Trust of the Congressional Black Caucus. Ellis, who also advised Collins in this role, said she brought together the disparate elements of the media — broadcast, cable and entertainment. While Ellis said he could not point to successful communications legislation that she initiated, he said Collins wielded her influence in other ways.

Ellis explained how this worked in a message he sent to colleagues in 2007 after the death of Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America:

". . . Subsequently, during the 1980s 'financial interest and syndication rule' issue where the TV networks were pitted against the Hollywood studios for greater share in the revenue and ownership of the programs aired on television, Jack approached me for assistance in identifying Black independent producers who could benefit by the studios' retaining their program ownership position," Ellis wrote.


"I agreed to help Jack, who planned to use such producers to bolster the studios' position, only if I was able to recommend certain Black producers for use by the networks — since I was an executive with the NAB. Jack agreed. Consequently, I helped to position Black producers as spokespersons for the Hollywood studios and the networks. Jack scheduled meetings for me and Congresswoman Cardiss Collins (my former employer and member of the House Communications Subcommittee reviewing the 'rule'), and I arranged for Cardiss and [myself] (with help from [producer] Topper [Carew] and my network contacts) to meet with network presidents in Los Angeles. Because of these efforts, several Black independent producers gained greater leverage for acceptance of their projects in the film and network television industries."

Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Cardiss Collins was respected, committed

Patrick Svitek, Chicago Tribune: Cardiss Collins, 1931-2013

Two-Thirds Don't Pursue "Pathway to Citizenship"

"Nearly two-thirds of the 5.4 million legal immigrants from Mexico who are eligible to become citizens of the United States have not yet taken that step. Their rate of naturalization — 6% — is only half that of legal immigrants from all other countries combined, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center," Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, Mark Hugo Lopez, Jeffrey Passel and Paul Taylor reported Monday for the Pew Hispanic Center.


"Creating a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally is expected to be one of the most contentious elements of the immigration legislation that will be considered by Congress this year. Mexican immigrants are by far the largest group of immigrants who are in the country illegally — accounting for 6.1 million (55%) of the estimated 11.1 million in the U.S. as of 2011.

"Mexicans are also the largest group of legal permanent residents — accounting for 3.9 million out of 12 million. The Center's analysis of current naturalization rates among Mexican legal immigrants suggests that creating a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally does not mean all would pursue that option. Many could choose an intermediate status — legal permanent resident — that would remove the threat of deportation, enable them to work legally and require them to pay taxes, but not afford them the full rights of U.S. citizenship, including the right to vote. . . . "


Maggie Caldwell, Mother Jones: Invisible Women: The Real History of Domestic Workers in America (Feb. 7)

Leslie Berestein Rojas, Southern California Public Radio: 'Out of status?' Rep. John Conyers on what to call undocumented immigrants in U.S. (Video)


Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Real data to measure legal, illegal immigration

Blacks Have Used Firearms for Defense, Survival

"The recent debate concerning gun control is complex, particularly as it relates to African descendants in the United States," Akinyele Umoja, associate professor and chair of the Department of African-American Studies at Georgia State University, wrote Tuesday for Black Agenda Report.


"As almost every other issue in the US, the race dimensions of gun control cannot be dismissed. Slave-holding society fought to prevent enslaved Africans access to weapons to resist and increase potential for insurrection.

"After emancipation, Blacks sought arms not only to hunt, but to protect themselves from white supremacist terror. Gun ownership was associated with citizenship and liberty and as a means to protect those principles. The segregationists continued slave-holding society's practice of attempting to disarm Blacks. Ultimately, Blacks utilized armed self-defense to protect activist leadership and their communities from white terrorist violence. It was a rite of passage for rural Black families [to teach] children to use arms as a means of survival; for food and for protection. Black female youth were trained to shoot for defense from white rapists.


"I have the utmost respect for Congressman John Lewis due to the sacrifice he made during the Civil Rights movement in the Deep South. In responding to those opposing President Obama's gun control proposal’s Congressman Lewis offers that he and his colleagues in the Civil Rights movement, ' … believed the only way to achieve peaceful ends was through peaceful means. We took a stand against an unjust system, and we decided to use this faith as our shield and the power of compassion as our defense.' . . . "

Mary C. Curtis, the Grio: Will Obama's proposals stop black gun violence?

Tammerlin Drummond, Oakland Tribune: Shooting bad PR for Oakland Art Murmur

Sam Fulwood III, Center for American Progress: Lift Every Voice

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: NRA's dizzying pro-gun spin grows tiring

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Family breakdown goes biracial

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Gun debate should be about facts, not fantasy

Rem Rieder, American Journalism Review: Too Zany for The Onion

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The NRA's tone-deaf rhetoric

Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: I didn't need to see Obama firing a gun


Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Obama's gun photo ill-advised

How Diverse Is Your Coverage of Business, Finance?

" . . . While spotlighting businesses and business leaders merely on the basis of race or ethnicity can be sort of shallow, or even offensive, I do think that this month of recognizing the accomplishments of African-American citizens is a good time to assess whether your coverage of business and finance does reflect the nation's diversity," Melissa Preddy wrote Tuesday for the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University.


"If not, start now with some of the ideas below. And on a practical level, like any seasonal or annual event it's a convenient peg for providing market-specific features for consumers and entrepreneurs. . . . "

Preddy listed such angles as corporate observances, African American-owned businesses, news for small-business owners and entrepreneurs and marketing to African American consumers.


Short Takes

". . . Print media is starving for profit, and publishers in Canada and the United States are compensating by thinning their newsrooms by thousands of workers," Natascia Lypny wrote for the January issue of the King's Journalism Review at the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. "Copy editors have been sacrificed more than any other newsroom category. Nearly a third of the copy editors who were working for American daily newspapers in 2007 are no longer employed in those positions today, according to an American Society of News Editors' survey of 985 publications. . . . "


Coverage of the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens' hometown welcome left much to be desired, David Zurawik wrote in the Baltimore Sun. ". . . it made my blood boil to see reporters using fans as props. Telling fans to give a cheer or start singing and whooping when the cameras are pointed at them is both stupid and insensitive . . . " Zurawik wrote. ". . . The other thing that annoyed me, and it has been building for weeks, involves veteran reporters acting like they are buddies with the players, referring to Terrell Suggs, for example, as T-Sizzle and calling out to him on the parade route. . . . "

"Today, an appellate court ruled against the New York Times in a suit about gun permits, and public access to an electronic database containing the addresses of permit-holders, arguing that a lower-court judge had 'erred' when, in 2011, she ruled in the newspaper's favor," Dana Rubinstein reported Tuesday for Capital New York.


"Former model, actress, and sportscaster Lisa Guerrero says she's covered at least five Super Bowls in her life, but she says nothing she did as a sportscaster can compare to what she's doing today as an award-winning chief investigative correspondent for Inside Edition," Kristina Puga wrote Monday for NBCLatino.

"U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) was trying to correct the record Tuesday, after Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln' movie suggested that Connecticut was not entirely in favor of the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery," CBSNewYork and the Associated Press reported. ". . . 'When they got to Connecticut, two out of the three members of Congress voted no . . . 'We checked with the Congressional Research Service, who pulled up the roll call, and sure enough, all four members . . . from the State of Connecticut voted unanimously in favor of passage of the 13th Amendment,' he said."


Karin Berry, an assistant news editor at the Philadelphia Daily News, told Facebook friends that her last day at work was Jan. 31 and that her co-workers put together the Page 1 at left. Berry took a buyout after 18 years at the paper. She added on Facebook, "[BTW], the 'It's a Rap' headline ran the day after Tupac Shakur's murder. That is Tupac's hat on my head. No, I did NOT write this headline although I was assistant news editor for that edition. . . . "

In Somalia, "A Mogadishu court has sentenced an alleged rape victim and a Somali journalist who interviewed her to one year in prison each, court officials say, in a decision that has enraged press freedom groups," Al Jazeera reported Tuesday. "Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, the freelance journalist, and the 27-year old unidentified woman who claimed to have been raped by security forces, faced charges including insulting a government body, making false accusations and seeking to profit from the allegations. . . . "


In Libya, "An attack by security guards on a TV crew outside the National Congress building in Tripoli on 1 February has reinforced Reporters Without Borders' concern about the growing number of cases of threats and violence against journalists in the course of their work," the press freedom organization said on Tuesday.

"Police in Uganda is still the worst torturer of journalists, the 2012 Press Freedom Index launched in Kampala on Feb. 6 said," Tracy Gwambe reported Tuesday for the Independent in the capital, Kampala. "The index prepared by Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda (HRJN-Uganda) shows that in 2012 alone, the police made 42 attacks against journalists . . . one journalist was murdered. . . ."


"Authorities in Beirut should drop criminal charges against Rami Aysha, a Lebanese-Palestinian freelance journalist who was arrested by Hezbollah forces last August as he was investigating arms trafficking," the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

"In late January, Iranian authorities waged the largest crackdown on the press since 2009, detaining a wave of journalists and issuing arrest warrants for numerous others," the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday. "The Ministry of Intelligence accused the journalists of conspiring with foreign media to repeat the alleged 'sedition' of 2009, referring to electoral fraud exposed by the media and the protests that followed. In response to the arrests, IranWire, a project led by our colleague Maziar Bahari, produced this video calling for the journalists' release. . . . "


"Reporters Without Borders deplores the Eritrean government’s censorship of the Qatari TV news network Al Jazeera since 1 February," the press freedom group said Tuesday. "According to the Qatar-based newspaper Al-Sharq, the Eritrean authorities were annoyed with Al Jazeera for carrying reports about demonstrations by Eritrean exiles outside Eritrean diplomatic missions in Cairo, London, Frankfurt, Rome, Stockholm and other capitals in opposition to the government and in support of the soldiers who stormed the information ministry in Asmara during a brief mutiny on 21 January. . . ."

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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education ( Reprinted on The Root by permission.