Time Losing Only Black Correspondent

Steven Gray
Steven Gray

Steven Gray of Washington Bureau Announces His Exit

Five years ago, Journal-isms asked Ali Zelenko, vice president for communications at Time Inc., to name the journalists of color at Time magazine.


Among the 15 she listed were black journalists Janice Simpson, assistant managing editor; Ta-Nehisi Coates, staff writer; Perry Bacon Jr., Washington correspondent; and Sonja Steptoe, senior correspondent.

Today, all are gone. And the last remaining black correspondent, Steven Gray, who joined the magazine in 2007 and works in the Washington bureau, announced Friday he is leaving.

"I want to let you know I’ve decided to leave Time early next year," Gray wrote colleagues.

"The magazine hired me in 2007 to cover an amazing range of topics from Chicago: Midwestern earthquakes, public boarding schools, and the 2008 presidential race. In 2009, Time Inc. assigned me to open the company’s Detroit Bureau. It was an innovative immersion journalism project — the company bought a six-bedroom house in Detroit — that became living quarters, office, and conference space (http://goo.gl/DmBy6, http://goo.gl/FMVAe and http://goo.gl/F6nst). In the last year, as a Washington correspondent for the magazine, I’ve written about emerging Internet privacy policy, why Mississippi is an unlikely leader in criminal justice reform, and what the new food safety law means for the growing share of imported food. Now, it’s time to try something else."

Zelenko did not respond to requests for comment on Friday. When other staff changes were announced and no African Americans were included, however, Zelenko insisted, "diversity remains an important priority."

But apparently that diversity has not included African American editors, though the magazine has hired journalists of other ethnicities and has blacks in non-correspondent positions.


The magazine was tight-lipped in September after publishing its "Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience," a photo-rich commemorative edition dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and no identifiable African Americans were pictured in its 64 pages.

Asked about the omission, Time spokeswoman Kerri Chyka said then by email: "TIME is declining to comment at this time."


Time is the nation's largest newsmagazine, and, with a weekly circulation of 3,313,739 paid and audited for 2010, the 12th largest among all magazines. It also publishes international editions.

Of the African Americans present in 2006, Simpson is an adjunct at CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism and a theater blogger; Coates is a senior editor for the Atlantic magazine and a much-discussed blogger on its website; Bacon went on to the Washington Post and this week was named political editor of theGrio.com; and Steptoe, now in public relations, is global communications director at O'Melveny & Myers LLP in Los Angeles.


Steptoe, who worked at Time Inc. and Time magazine from 2003 to 2007, told Journal-isms she remembered her workplace as "personally and professionally fulfilling and rewarding." It was "very inclusive and all were interested and worked hard to promote diversity."

Gray concluded his message: "Some people must be mentioned. First, Howard Chua-Eoan, who brought me to the magazine and is one of the most elegant editors I’ve ever worked for; Josh Tyrangiel, who promoted me to the Detroit assignment; Steve Koepp, who shepherded the project; and Sheryl Hilliard Tucker, who helped me navigate Time Inc. I must also thank John Huey, who pushed the Detroit project through the company’s silos and made my return to Washington happen. These editors were inclusive, and believed that someone with roots in the Lower Ninth Ward — far from Time Magazine’s traditional club — could help lead one of journalism’s most ambitious projects.


"Some projects are in the works. Stay tuned.

"In the meantime, you can find me @stevengray, and at steven [at] stevengray.com"


* Lakshmi Chaudhry and Sandip Roy, Firstpost.com: Four Reasons Why Time Magazine Dissed Anna Hazare

* Richard Horgan, FishbowlLA: Learning More About TIME's Protester Cover Girl

* Ioanna Opidee, Folio:: Magazine Launches Up 23.8 Percent in 2011

*Lizzy Ratner, New York Observer: Vanilla Ceiling: Magazines Still Shades Of White (2006)

* Wendi C. Thomas, Commercial Appeal, Memphis: Equity, equality gap wide for 99%

Reuters Expands Journalism Trainee Program

As the Associated Press weighs whether to make good on its promise to resume the 26-year-old internship program it suspended last year, the rival Reuters news service is expanding its journalism trainee program.


"Reuters is investing in the next generation of journalists — smart, innovative people, passionate about covering and understanding the world," reads an announcement on the Reuters site.

"The Reuters Journalism Trainee Program will bring together a talented group of journalists and journalists-to-be from around the world and provide them with nine months of intensive classroom training and hands-on, real-world experience in London, New York and Singapore. Trainees will be paid during the program and then moved into staff positions provided performance standards are met. And they’ll be assigned mentors to help guide their career with Reuters."


Patrick Flanary, spokesman for Thomson Reuters, told Journal-isms the program previously included only London and will include 15 trainees.

He quoted Belinda Goldsmith, Thomson Reuters' global head of editorial learning, as saying that the program takes on a diverse workforce and that trainees are selected in line with the company policy on diversity:

"Creating a company culture and workplace that promotes diversity and safeguards the health, safety and dignity of all employees."


The notice continues, "At a time when others are shrinking, Reuters is re-investing in its journalists, with a renewed emphasis on analytical, insightful and investigative reporting. . . .

"Trainees will take part in several weeks of intensive classroom training then work on reporting teams in our regional newsrooms in London, New York and across Asia. You will hit the ground running — reporting and delivering news stories to exacting Thomson Reuters standards.


"After the nine-month program, trainees who meet the performance standards will move to staff positions. They will be placed in one of our 200 newsrooms dotted across the globe, subject to business needs and language skills, and assigned a mentor to help guide their career here."

The AP said last year it would resume the program in 2012, but spokesman Paul Colford said this week that a budgetary review was still under way. While not limited to people of color, the internship program was one of the news cooperative's most prominent diversity initiatives.


NBC News to Launch Website Targeting Latinos

"In a move that reflects the growing importance of Hispanic audiences for news divisions, NBC News is planning to launch an NBCLatino.com site targeting Hispanics sometime in early 2012, reports NBC News president Steve Capus," George Winslow reported Wednesday for Broadcasting & Cable.


"The move marks the first time that an English-language broadcast network news division has launched a Web site specifically targeted to Hispanic Americans and highlights a growing interest in the country's fastest growing ethnic group among news divisions. In November, CNN launched a Spanish-language site, CNNenEspanol.com.

"The English-language NBCLatino.com will target U.S. born and English-dominant Hispanics with a mix of news, politics, lifestyle, parenting, education and other issues important to that group.


"Capus notes that the launch is part of a two pronged strategy of being both the largest broadcast news organization and at the same time developing 'more specifically targeted ventures that are a natural offshoot of what we do.'

"As part of that effort, NBC News has already launched an African-American targeted news site, TheGrio.com.


". . . To run NBCLatino.com, the news organization has established a bilingual staff, which has already been producing content at nbclatino.tumblr.com."

The staff includes contributors Chris Peña, executive editor; Betty Cortina, consulting senior web producer; Maria Eugenia Alcon, deputy editor; Nina Terrero, web producer; Adrian Carrasquillo, web producer/social media; Sandra Lilley, web producer; and Kristina Puga, web producer.


*Kevin Roderick, LAObserved: Read the memo: L.A.'s Latino Patch sites launch

Facebook Followers Turn on Anchor Over Puppy Auction

Longtime Dallas anchor Clarice Tinsley is getting blowback from fans on her Facebook page after emceeing a benefit at which three puppies were auctioned off as prizes, a practice that became illegal in Dallas in 2008.


Tinsley, an anchor/reporter at Fox's KDFW-TV for 33 years, was emcee at a Dec. 7 benefit for Children's Medical Center at the Fairmont Dallas hotel featuring singer Cyndi Lauper and sponsored by the foundation offshoot of the Friedman & Feiger law firm [PDF].  

Teresa Gubbins wrote the next day in Dallas' Pegasus News: "According to Jeanne Prejean at My Sweet Charity . . . Three puppies — a teacup Maltese, a Yorkie, and a Maltese-Doodle — were used as fund-raising auction fodder. Prejean quoted a staffer holding one of the puppies as saying, 'Poor little thing is shaking badly,' and a bystander who commented, 'Those puppies shouldn’t be here. They’re making me feel uncomfortable.'


". . . Chris Watts, who co-owns Petropolitan and who is a member of the Dallas Animals Commission, said that he'd spoken to organizer Janelle Friedman, and that animal advocates hoped they could use the incident as an opportunity to get the word out about the fact that using animals as fund-raisers is a no-no.

" 'I have been in touch with the coordinator of the event, and she's mortified,' Watts said. 'Every auction she goes to, they have live animals. It's a very unfortunate thing that people are naïve to the laws. The fines are so small compared to what they raise that they're willing to pay the fine.' "


Some of Tinsley's Facebook followers were outraged.

"How can you sink so [low] as be part of this auction of poor, specialist bred creatures. As a journalist you should be highlighting this as a sick trade NOT encourage it. Hopefully you will get your comeuppance!!" wrote one.


But another said, "I am horrified by the ignorant & hateful comments, on Clarice's page, from so many so-called animal rescuers. Unlike ANY of these people, I WAS at the event and YES, it was a disgusting and horribly wrong decision to auction off 3 puppy-mill pups, HOWEVER, Clarice had nothing to do with that. She was the MC for the evening, supporting Children's Medical Center, and a pup was handed to her for a photo op. She would have had no way to have known anything about where that pup came from.

"I also understand that she made some uninformed comments about the pup, but that is where true animal rescuers could have taken the opportunity to be civil and respectfully educated her about the horrors of puppy-mills and how many millions of dogs/cats are euthanized in this country every year etc.. NO ONE ever gets enlightened from hateful & bullying, personal attacks. Educate, don't alienate! You guys, who claim you are in animal rescue, have really been most counter-productive in educating someone that could have become a huge ally in our fight against puppy-mills! I AM in animal rescue! My hope was to invite Clarice to go with my group to bust a puppy-mill, but I seriously doubt she will respond to my sincere request now. Very sad for this destroyed opportunity and the fact that so many REAL & dedicated rescuers get labeled with the crazy, extremist brush because of a bunch of rogue, foul mouthed bullies!"


Tinsley did not respond to an emailed request for comment, but Laurie Holloway, manager of media relations for the Children's Medical Center, told Journal-isms that while the medical center was the beneficiary, it did not stage the benefit.

"Now we know there is a law in Dallas that prohibits this and we'll make sure" all those raising money for the hospital, one of the nation's largest devoted to children, are aware of it, she said.


Recalling When Christopher Hitchens Debated Al Sharpton

Journalists and other writers had their own memories of the contrarian writer Christopher Hitchens, who died from esophageal cancer Thursday at 62. For Sewell Chan of the New York Times, the recollections were of the debate over God between Hitchens and the Rev. Al Sharpton.


"The question under debate ('Is God great?') and the speakers — two men who are often depicted in harsh caricatures by their critics — might have caused some to expect something like a circus," Chan wrote for the Times on May 7, 2007. "Perhaps surprisingly, it turned out to be the public intellectual event of the evening, a bit like Bertrand Russell vs. C. S. Lewis.

"Taking the atheist position was Christopher Hitchens, the journalist and author of a new book arguing that 'religion poisons everything.' In defense of God was none other than the Rev. Al Sharpton, a man of the cloth who is perhaps even better known for his political and civil rights activism than for his training as a preacher.


"Mr. Hitchens and Mr. Sharpton engaged in a sold-out debate tonight before a crowd that packed the Celeste Bartos Forum at the New York Public Library’s Beaux-Arts headquarters on Fifth Avenue. The polite but vigorous discussion was moderated by Jacob Weisberg of Slate Magazine, who began by asking Mr. Hitchens, 'What have you got against God?'

"Round 1

"Mr. Hitchens said he realized that belief in God was irrational at age 9. He cited two arguments against faith. First, that religion is simply untrue, religions having arisen to explain phenomena that could not be accounted for — like diseases and natural disasters — for which there are now scientific explanations.


"Second, Mr. Hitchens criticized those who don’t believe in the literal truth of the immaculate conception, the burning bush, Lazarus rising from the dead and yet say, 'It’s not really true, it does come from a rather fearful period of the dark ages, but it’s nice to believe.'

"Mr. Hitchens noted the Christian titles – 'Parting the Waters,' 'Pillar of Fire,' 'At Canaan’s Edge' — of Taylor Branch’s three-part biography of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 'If you think about it for a second, it’s a very good thing that the good doctor was only using this metaphorically,' Mr. Hitchens said, adding that Dr. King, 'if he really believed in invoking the lessons of Genesis and Exodus,' would have turned toward eye-for-an-eye vengeance rather than nonviolence and civil disobedience.


". . . Mr. Sharpton suggested that the marvel of human creation — including evolution — implies the existence of a divine creator.

“The real thing that I’m interested in, Mr. Hitchens, is to really discuss the idea of God and the idea of a supreme being and how creatures and creation have just by some great coincidence, an unexplained scheme, followed some order that just happened by itself. Some thing, some force, some overruling force, had to set all of that pattern in and it continues thousands of years later.'


"Mr. Sharpton told Mr. Hitchens, 'In terms of the civil rights movement, it was absolutely fueled by a belief in God and a belief in right or wrong. Had not there been this belief that there was a right and a wrong, the civil rights movement that you alluded to, and referred to, would not have existed.' . . . "

*Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic: Christopher Hitchens Is Dead

*Ray Downs, Christian Post: Al Sharpton Talks 'Love and Respect' for Christopher Hitchens (Video)

*Debate transcript [PDF]
*Christopher Hitchens vs Al Sharpton on Atheism and God — The Full Debate (video)

* Russell D. Moore blog: Christopher Hitchens Might Be in Heaven


N.Y. Times Style Book Closer to Ruling Out "Illegals"

Bill Keller, the former top editor at the New York Times who is now a columnist there, wrote Tuesday that he will no longer use the term "illegals" to refer to immigrants and told complaining readers, "you seem to have gotten the style book updated."


Keller cited reader arguments against the term, then wrote:

"For further guidance I turned to Phil Corbett, The Times newsroom’s arbiter of style and taste. His response was, as usual, a dose of good sense:

" 'I had a feeling you would be hearing from folks on this one.

" 'Yes, while it’s not explicit in the style book, our practice is to avoid "illegals" as well as "illegal aliens," and on the other hand, to also steer clear of the euphemistic "undocumented workers."


" 'I do think "illegals" as a shorthand noun has an unnecessarily pejorative tone, and it is routinely used by the anti-immigration side. I think it’s wise to steer clear. We also get push back over "illegal immigrant," but to me that’s just factual and neutral. However, I also encourage people to follow the lead of Julia Preston [who covers immigration issues for The Times] and look for more explicit descriptions when appropriate in specific cases, both to avoid formulaic repetition and to provide more information: "who overstayed his visa," "working without a legal permit," "who entered the country illegally," etc., etc.

" 'It might be worth cautioning against "illegals" in the style book entry, though if [I] do that, I will wait for a decent interval — otherwise some suspicious observer will assume the change is aimed at you.


" 'It’s treacherous ground, as Julia can attest.'

"Well, vigilant readers, the good news is, you seem to have gotten the style book updated. And I’ll resist that particular shorthand in the future."


*KSAZ Phoenix: Far [Fewer] People Entering US Illegally From Mexico

*Elizabeth Llorente, Fox News Latino: On Immigration, Polls Show Most GOP Voters Share Gingrich Stance

*New America Media: Ethnic Media: Where Do Immigrants Stand on Occupy?

*Albor Ruiz, Daily News, New York: Immigrants & Occupy Wall Street [Dec. 10]

*Gary Younge, the Guardian, Britain: US immigration laws bow to the bigots and the opportunists

A Columnist's Gift to Readers

Columnist Jenice Armstrong, center, of the Philadelphia Daily News, announces the winners of the Daily News' "My Favorite Things" holiday gift giveaway. She is with Alex Ratcliffe-Lee of the Pennsylvania Ballet, dressed as the Mouse King in "The Nutcracker," and ballet soloist Lauren Fadeley. The estimated cash value of each prize package is more than $1,000. "Thanks to all the Daily News readers who nominated people to be our winners," Armstrong wrote Thursday. "Your emails and letters were inspiring; some moved us to tears. They were about overburdened mothers caring for grandkids and people battling devastating illnesses." (Credit: Sarah J. Glover/Philadelphia Daily News)


Fla. Group Bullied Lowe's Into "Islamophobic Hate"

"David Caton was once addicted to pornography," Jamilah King began Thursday in "How Lowe’s Walked Into the Morality War Against Sex, Gays and Muslims," a piece for ColorLines.


"A former corporate accountant, Caton is now the executive director of the Florida Family Association, a conservative evangelical group that’s railed against anything it’s deemed 'immoral' since its inception in 1987. He’s written books that oddly document his experiences and recovery, but the crux of Caton’s political work has been to identify and attack the very foundation of what he believes to be the cause of his illness: the deeply depraved moral fabric of America.

"Which, in his estimation, means the media.

"But Caton has recently added a new enemy to his crosshairs: Muslims. And in an American climate that’s rife with anti-Muslim sentiment, Caton — who’s backed by some of today’s most influential anti-Muslim conservative writers — has managed to bully Lowe’s, a major American retailer, into a widening web of Islamophobic hate.


"For its own part, Lowe’s claims to value diversity. But its decision to pull its advertising from a seemingly innocuous reality TV show [suggests] that it’s running from any meaningful discussion of race.

"This week, Caton and his Florida Family Association made national headlines after it was announced that it had successfully campaigned [for] the big-box home improvement retailer to pull its advertising from TLC’s 'All American Muslim,' a new show that follows the lives of five Lebanese American families living in Dearborn, Mich."


*Editorial, Los Angeles Times: Lowe's has free speech rights too

*Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Americans should know to boycott bigotry

*Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Americans would benefit from a Muslim version of the Huxtables

Most Say Country Not Divided Into "Haves," "Have-Nots"

"Even as they express frustration with the fairness of economic system, most of the public rejects the notion that the nation is divided into two groups: the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' [PDF]," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported Thursday.


”Nearly six-in-ten (58%) say they do not think of America in these terms, while just 38% say they do. Although opinions on this question have varied over the course of its more than 25-year history, for most of this period majorities have rejected characterizing the country in this way. And, as is the case today, if forced to choose between the options, pluralities have consistently identified themselves as 'haves,' rather than 'have-nots' (46% vs. 39% today).

"Most Republicans (72%) and independents (60%) say they do not think of America in these terms. Democrats are more divided; 52% [say] the country is divided along these lines, while 46% say it is not."


*Helen F. Ladd and Edward B. Fiske, New York Times: Class Matters. Why Won’t We Admit It?

*Chip Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle: Occupy Oakland damages itself more than ports

Wynton Marsalis Joins CBS News as Cultural Correspondent

"Wynton Marsalis, the New Orleans-born, New York-based trumpeter, is one of those individuals who seems to have more energy and time than most humans," Keith Spera wrote Thursday for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans.


"He is a prolific, Pulitzer Prize-winning trumpeter fluent in both the jazz and classical genres. He is the artistic director of the sprawling Jazz at Lincoln Center program. He writes, he tours, he collaborates with the likes of Eric Clapton and Willie Nelson. Marsalis will add the role of CBS News cultural correspondent to his already full resume in January.

"And, starting in January, he will be a cultural correspondent for CBS News. He will contribute segments on cultural and educational issues to 'CBS This Morning' and 'CBS Sunday Morning,' which already features an opening trumpet fanfare by Marsalis."


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