Sue Simmons Story a Battle of Sources

Illustration for article titled Sue Simmons Story a Battle of Sources

Tipsheet Says WNBC Colleagues Upset by N.Y. Post Piece

A TV insider tipsheet Friday posted a rebuttal to a New York Post story that began, "There were 5 million reasons to oust Sue Simmons — and they were all in her paycheck."


The Post "exclusive" by Don Kaplan, published Thursday, asserted, "WNBC/Channel 4 refused to renew the nightly news anchor’s contract because she makes a whopping $5 million annual salary — which her bosses feel is absurdly overinflated — and she’s lost interest in her job, top network sources told The Post."

But Scott Jones, who has published his subscription-only FTVLive website since 2000, posted a story Friday headlined, "WNBC Staff Upset that Sue was Thrown under the Bus."

It, too, relies on "sources." Readers may choose between the two sets of sources or believe that each contains its own truths. A Journal-isms reader forwarded the text, published with Jones' permission:

"Yesterday FTVLive posted a story from the New York Post about WNBC anchor Sue Simmons and her '$5 million a year salary'…. The Post story has many WNBC staffers seeing red," Jones' story began.

"Sources tell FTVLive that a number of newsroom staffers at WNBC are furious at station brass for the management-fed character assassination of beloved anchor Sue Simmons in Thursday's New York Post.

"The story was filled with anonymous quotes from 'station executives,' 'direct managers,' and other bosses. It painted a picture of an old, disinterested Simmons, and even insinuated she has an alcohol problem. Except nothing in the article is true. And now station employees worry that if management could pull a hatchet job like this on a 32 year employee who is number one in the ratings, what could they do to the rest of the staff?


"The article quoted management sources as saying Simmons earns $5 million per year. Insiders tell FTVLive that 'number is preposterous.' Sources say that Simmons' pay was cut last year when she was taken off the 6PM news. The decreased work load reflected her decreased pay. Why else would Chuck Scarborough continue to anchor the 6PM news solo? You would think if NBC paid Simmons $5 million dollars per year they would ask her to do as many shows as possible. The 6PM ratings could sorely benefit from the team of Chuck and Sue. But Sue's current contract is about less work for much less pay. Nonetheless, management allowed the Post to print the unheard of salary of $5 million per year.

"The article says her bosses feel Simmons' salary is 'absurdly inflated.' Yet this is the same management that agreed to this salary, so why all of a sudden the outrage? The article says management feels that Simmons had been 'phoning it in.' Insiders say that this is the same management that knows that after the recent deaths of Etta James and Whitney Houston, Simmons was phoning in tips and setting up interviews with heavy hitters in the music business. (Simmons' father was a well known jazz musician in New York.)


"The Post story claims that her 'direct managers complained that if they cut her, they could save other jobs.' This argument is specious because the NBC O&O's [owned and operated stations] are in a major expansion. People are being hired, not fired. Also, it would be stupidly naive for Simmons' 'direct managers,' news director Susan Sullivan and GM Michael Jack to think that the money saved from a talent cut would automatically go back to the news department to be used elsewhere.

"Finally, the article insinuates that Simmons has a drinking problem. The fact is that she has never been taken off the air or been told to go home because anyone suspected she was drunk. (The famous YouTube cursing incident happened when she thought the promo was being recorded, and wasn't told it was being done live, which is out of the ordinary). Newsroom employees are shocked at the way management is treating Simmons. Stay tuned as the fallout of firing Simmons continues to cause big problems for WNBC and their image." 


James Barron and Brian Stelter, New York Times: Station to Oust Anchor, Ending 'Chuck and Sue' 

Ronald Howell blog: Times Puts Sue Simmons' Departure on Front Page. Remains Mum on Departure of its Own Bob Herbert. 


Richard Huff, Daily News, New York: Sad to say, but Sue Simmons’ time to depart WNBC is here and necessary  

Rebecca Jane, FemPop magazine: Why You Should Be Angry That Sue Simmons Was Fired


NABJ Statement on Sue Simmons Departure from WNBC-TV After 32 Years 

Tara Palmeri and Don Kaplan, New York Post: Shiba Russell the favorite to replace Sue Simmons  


Linda Stasi, New York Post: Give Sue her due: It’s acceptable to discriminate on TV vs. women

Michael Eric Dyson Ends His Public Radio Show

Social critic Michael Eric Dyson has left "The Michael Eric Dyson Show" on public radio, but the show will continue with guest hosts until its finale at the end of the month, its creators told Journal-isms on Friday.


"There's something else potentially in the works, but the show as it exists now is about to end," Carla Wills, senior producer, told Journal-isms on Friday. "The contract was over. We didn't do another round of funding."

The prolific Dyson, a Georgetown University sociology professor, minister, author, hip-hop aficionado and talk-show pundit, hosted a program syndicated on Radio One until March 2007.


His show returned to the airwaves the next month as a product of the African-American Public Radio Consortium, which had launched "The Tavis Smiley Show," "News & Notes" and "Tell Me More" with Michel Martin. The consortium, primarily comprising stations at historically black colleges and universities, was formed amid discontent with the attention NPR was giving African American programming.

As the consortium promised, Dyson indulged his passions, often devoting the entire hour to a single interview.


Oprah Winfrey phoned in from Chicago to become Dyson's first guest, followed by Sean "P. Diddy" Combs," Spike Lee, Hill Harper, Donna Brazile, Samuel L. Jackson and Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America. Dyson hosted the show from XM Satellite Radio studios in Washington.

In 2009, Dyson split from the consortium after just four months, returning to the airwaves in 2010 after securing a $505,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


About a dozen stations were carrying the show, said LaFontaine Oliver, Dyson's producer and general manager at WEAA-FM, based at Morgan State University in Baltimore, where the program originated. The show was carried in Houston, Baltimore, Seattle and at one point, Detroit, but was also available on the Internet via podcast until last month, when the website was hacked.

"We were able to put on stories that weren't being heard on other stations," Oliver told Journal-isms. "We exposed audiences to people of color doing some wonderful things."


Wills said Dyson was increasing his appearances on MSNBC's afternoon "Martin Bashir Show" and continuing his speaking engagements and teaching duties at Georgetown University. Of the show's four full-time staffers, "everybody's kind of looking for other opportunities," she said.

There was speculation last summer that Dyson might be next in line for an MSNBC show of his own.


Andrew Breitbart's "Bombshell" on Obama Proves a Dud

"Andrew Breitbart's promised video of Barack Obama's college days at Harvard University was released in full on Sean Hannity's Fox News show on Wednesday night — and unlike the late conservative provocateur's other video hits, this one appears to be a bit of a dud," Dylan Stableford wrote Thursday for Yahoo News.


"The video — which sent some conservatives into a frenzy when Breitbart told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last month that he had the footage — shows Obama, then a Harvard law student, introducing former Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell, who editor-in-chief Joel Pollak called the 'Jeremiah Wright of academia.'

"Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree had the footage from 1990 and is shown presenting it to an audience after the 2008 election. 'We hid this during the 2008 campaign,' Ogletree can be heard saying. 'I don't care if they find it now.'


"Pollak and conservatives contend that the video is another example of Obama's history of chumminess with radicals, and the proof of the left's continuing efforts to cover it up.

"But as PBS' Andrew Golis noted, 'there's nothing new about the clip or Obama's role in the controversy at Harvard Law School.'"


Chris Ariens, TVNewser: As Soledad O’Brien Searches for Breitbart ‘Bombshell,’ Breitbart Editor Says It’s 'Happening on this Program'  

Chris Cassidy, Boston Herald: Ogletree: I was joking about Obama video clip  

David Folkenflik, NPR: A Scoop, Really? BuzzFeed, Spar For Credit On Obama Video  


Robert "Rob" Redding Jr., Redding News Review: Expert: Derrick Bell Was Not Racist, Was Nonviolent  

Kai Wright, There Are Lies, Damned Lies and Andrew Breitbart

Poll Finds Equal Preferences for "Latino" and "Hispanic"

"Hispanic" and "Latino" find about equal favor among Americans of Latin American background; respondents overwhelmingly said President Obama, not any of his prospective Republican challengers, "cares about Latinos"; and  46 percent of respondents say the term "illegal immigrant" is offensive, according to a Fox News Latino poll of likely Latino voters.


The survey, by Latin Insights, a New York-based independent research company, was conducted through a telephone survey of what it said was a nationally representative sample of 1,200 likely Latino voters. The respondents were given the option of completing the survey in English and Spanish. The results were released on Monday.

The questioners used the term "undocumented immigrants" in asking respondents which term they preferred. The query was, "Which comes closer to how you feel about using the term 'illegal immigrants' to describe undocumented immigrants currently in the United States?" The questioners were instructed to follow up with, "If undecided ask: Well, if you had to pick."


Forty-five percent chose "it's offensive," 35.3 percent said "it's accurate," 12 percent were neutral and 7 percent said they did not know or did not answer.

In the accompanying story, Alberto Vourvoulias, managing editor of Fox News Latino, said, "The world illegal is an accurate description for actions, but not individuals. We don't use it to describe people who commit other crimes. We write about unlicensed drivers, for example, not illegal drivers."


Asked "Which of the following best describes how you think of yourself?" and read possible answers, 29.5 percent said " Hispanic," 24.9 percent "Latino," 15 percent "Latino American" and 13.1 percent "Hispanic American."

Asked "Who cares about Latinos?" 70.2 said, "Yes, he does" about Obama, 17.5 percent said yes about former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 17.8 percent about former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and 19.2 percent about former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.


Another question asked, "Do you think the media spends too much, too little or just the right amount of time covering differences and negative issues when referring to Latinos in the United States?" Forty-three percent said "too little," 20.9 percent said "the right amount of time," 24.9 percent said "too much" and 11.2 percent said they did not know or did not respond.

To the question, "Do you think the news media [exaggerate] the importance of immigration to Latinos or [downplays] the importance of immigration to Latinos?" 41.1 percent said "downplays it," 16 percent said "depends" or had a mixed reaction and 35 percent said "exaggerates it."


Judge Rules Inmates Can Receive Prison Publication

"A federal judge on Thursday ordered the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department to quit interfering with delivery to jail inmates of a legal publication designed specifically for prisoners," Denny Walsh reported Friday for the Sacramento Bee.


"U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez decreed that Sacramento County and Sheriff Scott Jones and his employees 'shall not refuse to deliver' Prison Legal News in the Main Jail and Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center.

"Lawyers for the county argue in court papers that magazine staples and mailing labels are contraband because staples are used by inmates to fashion weapons and drugs like heroin or LSD are smuggled into jails on the adhesive backs of labels. 'Inmates ingest the drugs by licking or eating the paper,' they say.


"But lawyers for the magazine insist in court papers they have presented unrefuted evidence that 'staples of the type PLN uses to assemble its publication are ill-suited for sharpening or use as blades or points. Prison Legal News is distributed to prisoners in 2,200 correctional facilities across the United States, the vast majority of which distribute it with its staples intact, with no reported security incidents.' "

Wickham Voted NABJ's Lifetime Achievement Award

"DeWayne Wickham, a founder and past president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), will receive the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the organization's highest honors," NABJ announced on Friday. "Wickham was selected by the NABJ Board of Directors" at its winter meeting.


"In addition to being a founding member of NABJ, the current USA Today columnist also founded the Association of Black Media Workers, the NABJ chapter in Baltimore. He assisted in the creation of professional chapters in both Greensboro, N.C., and Norfolk, Va.

"Wickham also founded NABJ student chapters at Delaware State University and North Carolina A&T State University, the latter at which he currently serves as distinguished professor of journalism and interim chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication." He also helped found the Trotter Group of African American columnists.


NPR Ombudsman Defends Use of "Political Correctness"

"In criticizing a reporter's use of the term 'nutcase' last week, I wrote that 'political correctness can surely get out of hand,' but not in this case," Edward Schumacher-Matos, the NPR ombudsman, wrote on Thursday. "Readers and editors who responded widely agreed. The pushback came on another term: political correctness.


"Some readers said my reference to political correctness was itself pejorative. Simply using the term legitimizes the argument that all political correctness is phony and extreme, they said. Among those readers was Keith Woods, the vice president of diversity at NPR and a sounding board I often go to for wise opinion. This time, however, I don't agree with him, so I thought I might put it to you for your opinion. If you are interested in language, logic and issues of diversity, you might particularly find the exchange below interesting, or even worth commenting on.

". . . While I was waiting for Woods to respond, Bob Carolla, a spokesperson for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, wrote to my assistant, Lori Grisham. The two had been corresponding on the extension of mental illness among Americans, when Carolla quite coincidentally added:

" 'I understand sentiments that there is too much "political correctness." But what does that phrase mean itself? That we shouldn't try to do the right thing? That there shouldn't be civic dialogue about language and attitudes? In some respects, invoking political correctness is only a way to duck an issue, rather than consider it."


Schumacher-Matos concluded, ". . . Political correctness taken to the extreme leads to absurdity. There are plenty of examples of this, opening the way to pejorative inflections on the term by critics. But this doesn't deny the nobility of being political and being correct within reasonable measure. How much measure? That is what is always open to debate. But we cannot let some disparage the noble in the name of the extreme."

Black Group in L.A. Rejects Clear Channel Diversity Effort

Last week, black leaders in Los Angeles calling themselves the Black Media Alliance met with representatives of Clear Channel's KFI-AM after derogatory comments by afternoon hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou about the late singer Whitney Houston.


On Wednesday, the group responded to Clear Channel Los Angeles’ announcement of “Diverse LA,” a new three-week series of special broadcasts airing weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KTLK-AM, starting Monday, reported.

Echoing a phrase by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh about advertisers that have withdrawn from his show over his offensive remarks, the alliance said, "Clear Channel announcing the audition of African-American, Latino, Asian-American, and Native American hosts on Clear Channel’s KTLK 'won’t even be noticed.' Out of 57 radio stations in Southern California as of February 2012, KTLK Progressive 1150 AM ranks no. 34 with a 0.9 listening audience share. KFI AM 640, on the other hand, ranks no. 1 with a 4.8 listening audience share, according to web-based industry trade publication Radio Online.


"Furthermore, the initiative, consciously or otherwise, fails to state Clear Channel’s plan to immediately address the pervasive lack of Black producers, engineers, on-air news readers, paid commentators, interns at their non-urban talk stations. The fact that out of 15 KFI on-air hosts, there are 14 male hosts and only 1 woman in 2012, is abhorrent."

Network Helps Reporters Examine Integrity of Statehouses

Aly Colón, longtime diversity manager and consultant for such organizations as the Poynter Institute and the American Society of News Editors, is now working with Public Radio International. He wrote the following for Journal-isms about a project that ranks the accountability, openness and honesty of state governments:

"PRI plans to make public a project that ranks how accountable, open and honest state government is — and it’s making it accessible to the minority media.


"PRI created the position of Minority Outreach Consultant to make sure The State Integrity Investigation project reaches minority news organizations. It believes the State Integrity Investigation uncovered information that will interest minority audiences.

"PRI, and its partners in the project — The Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity — will work with minority media journalists who want to produce stories of interest to their communities.


"The project looks at the laws and regulations of each of the 50 states and measures their level of integrity and risk for corruption. The findings include 330 points across 14 categories. A public release of its findings is scheduled to take place March 19.

"PRI, Public Radio International, sees stories based on the findings that the minority media could pursue for its targeted audience. One of the categories, Redistricting, examines the openness of the process, which affects who will represent minority voters. Access to public records represents another category that could yield a story that shows what challenges exist in obtaining public records — even when a law exists to make them available. And the minority media could show how accountable state executives are to their audiences.


"For more information, the minority media can contact PRI Minority Outreach Consultant Aly Colón at alycolon (at)"

Short Takes

"We all know about the layoffs and buyouts, but the journalism jobs market is still strong, according to founder Dan Rohn," Jim Romenesko wrote Thursday on his media blog. " 'Surprisingly you can still find a great job with a newspaper,' he says in a phone interview. 'Most of the jobs on our site are for newspaper jobs. We don’t get a ton of TV jobs, just because TV stations are notoriously cheap. They don’t like to spend money on recruitment.' "

"Of the few photographers who’ve managed to make pictures in the midst of Syria’s violent uprising, Rodrigo Abd, who shoots for The Associated Press, has stood out," Kerri MacDonald wrote Friday for the Lens blog of the New York Times. "On Thursday, Mr. Abd filed pictures from the funeral of Abdulaziz Abu Ahmed Khrer, who was killed by a Syrian Army sniper. There was one indelible moment — the victim’s grief-stricken son crouched on the ground with his knees up near his chest, tears flowing down his cheeks. A nearby man reaches out to comfort the boy, Ahmed. Behind them, a second young boy looks on. The image, shot in the northwestern town of Idlib, appeared on the front page of The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal on Friday."

"Several reporters have been laid off from Telemundo’s flagship station, KVEA-52 in Los Angeles on Wednesday," Veronica Villafañe reported on Thursday on her Media Moves site. "According to sources, María García, a reporter and former weekend anchor who had been at the station more than 10 years, was among the casualties. Other talent also given their walking papers: reporter and fill-in anchor Roberto Lacayo, weather anchor Ericka Pino and reporter Vicky Gutierrez." Telemundo spokesman Alfredo Richard told Journal-isms on Friday, "We are doing changes, not layoffs. We are making some personnel changes in our News department at KVEA geared to better serve and connect with our community. We sincerely thank them for their contribution to KVEA and wish them well."

"Time has named Bobby Ghosh an Editor-at-Large," Chris O'Shea reported Thursday for FishbowlNY. "Ghosh has been with Time since 1997, and most recently served as Deputy International Editor. Prior to that Ghosh was Time’s Baghdad Bureau Chief for five years."

"With close to 30 million viewers on YouTube, multiple days trending on [Twitter], domination of Facebook newsfeeds, and captivation of the national (global) imagination, the 'Stop Kony 2012' campaign is a lesson in the potential and pitfalls of new media activism," David Leonard wrote Friday for "Others have already offered valuable critiques concerning factual problems presented in the video . . . Yet, what is striking here is not simply the recycling of 'White saviors' and the pathologizing of Africans as either helpless/invisible victims or evil murders, but how new media fosters apolitical consumption."

"TV One will enter the popular video gaming industry by creating a game design and development competition for African American game developers, the network announced Thursday," R. Thomas Umstead wrote for Multichannel News. "The network will partner with Entertainment Arts Research Inc. to form the Urban Game Jam, which will offer urban game developers a new, high-profile opportunity to exhibit video games and music produced for the industry."

"The Dominican Republic's first lady, Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, has filed criminal forgery charges against a television commentator who alleged that she has millions of euros stashed away in a Danish bank account," the International Press Institute reported Thursday. "According to Dominican media, Fernández's attorney, Luis Miguel Pereira, on Tuesday officially accused the journalist, Marco Martínez of Canal 55, of falsifying documents in order to attack the honour and reputation of the first lady, who is currently running for vice president."

"An Indian journalist has been arrested as part of an investigation into the bombing last month of a van carrying the wife of an Israeli diplomat, an attack for which Israeli officials have blamed Iran," Jim Yardley and Hari Kumar reported from New Delhi Wednesday for the New York Times. "The suspect, Mohammed Kazmi, appeared in a New Delhi court on Wednesday after his arrest earlier in the week. . . . Reuters, citing Mr. Kazmi’s lawyer and family members, said he worked for the Indian state television channel, Doordarshan, and freelanced for Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency."

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