Newspapers' Last Black Sports Editor Leaving
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Garry D. Howard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the last remaining African American editing the sports section of a mainstream daily newspaper, is leaving in December to become editor-in-chief of the weekly Sporting News.
"We thank him for his dedication, enthusiasm and passion for exceptional journalism," Martin Kaiser, senior vice president/editor of the Journal Sentinel, wrote in a letter to the staff on Wednesday. "He has inspired his staff, earning national awards, while bringing incredible energy to our newsroom and to our community. He has hosted our Emmy-award winning Preps Plus TV show and devoted hours to speaking and mentoring throughout our community."
Howard became one of the first African Americans to head the sports section of a mainstream daily — the only one at the time at a major paper — he joined the old Milwaukee Journal as executive sports editor in 1994. He became sports editor of the merged Journal Sentinel in 1995 and assistant managing editor/sports in 2000.
An announcement Thursday said Howard "will oversee all editorial operations for Sporting News, setting editorial direction, managing writers and editors and supervising production of Sporting News magazine, Sporting News Today, SportingNews.com and Sporting News Yearbooks."
It said that "Howard’s hire marks the first time that an African-American will lead a national general sports magazine’s editorial staff," and quoted Jeff Price, Sporting News president and publisher, declaring "our strong commitment to diversity." [This passage was later dropped: Lee Ivory was named executive editor of USA Today Baseball Weekly, later Sports Weekly, in 1994. He added the title of publisher in 2000 and left the company in 2007. On the Internet, Rob King and Neal Scarbrough have been each editor-in-chief of espn.com, Scarbrough was additionally general manager and editor-in-chief of AOL Sports, and Leon Carter heads ESPNNewYork.Com.]
Howard ended a year's term as president of the Associated Press Sports Editors in June.
"He believed in me, supported me, stood by my side and helped guide me. He gave me an opportunity when no editor at a major newspaper in this country had given an African-American a chance to lead his or her sports section.
"He is a man that I admire not just for that, but for all that he has done to make me understand that what we do is not for us, but for those who support us by buying our products.
"And over the past 16 years, we have helped turn the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel into a newspaper that enjoys one of highest penetrations of readership in the country, a newspaper that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in two of the past three years, a newspaper that has certainly earned its respect."
In 2006, American City Business Journals bought the Sporting News, then 120 years old and once known as the "Baseball Bible." Then based in St. Louis, it had nearly 700,000 subscribers. With 40 print business journals, American City Business Journals calls itself the nation's largest publisher of metropolitan business newspapers. It produces business and sports-related publications in several cities, including Charlotte, N.C., where the Sporting News is based. It is a unit of Advance Publications Inc., which publishes Newhouse newspapers and Conde Nast Magazines, among other properties.
The first African American sports editor at a major daily was most likely Thom Greer, who took the post at the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1982, and later became the paper's editor. As recently as 2007, six African Americans were sports editors at daily newspapers. But the number shrank as the newspaper business contracted. Many went to Internet sites. Carter, the most recent top sports editor to leave newspapers, was sports editor at the New York Daily News for 10 years before departing in February to head ESPNNewYork.Com.
Howard told Journal-isms on Thursday that "editors in the country need to develop more candidates to run their sports departments," noting the preponderance of African Americans players in the NBA and other sports. Being able to better understand their "back story" produces better journalism, he said.
As APSE president, he said, sports editors would ask him to recommend candidates. "Gettting in there to interview for a job is half the battle," he said.
Howard began his career at the Trenton (N.J.) Times and has worked at the New Brunswick (N.J.) Home News; the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y.; the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Independent; the St. Petersburg Times; and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Don Hudson, managing editor of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., and Rod Richardson, who held the same title at the Times in Shreveport, La., have been laid off in another round of cost-cutting under way at Gannett Co. newspapers, Hudson confirmed on Thursday. Both are black journalists.
Hudson said he left on Wednesday after informing reporters and editors who reported to him. Gannett "worked extremely hard to try to find a spot for me," he said, but without success. In the office "there were lots of hugs, a few tears," and a few cross words, which he discouraged, Hudson said.
After that, Hudson said, he and his wife kept their plans to attend Jackson's Anderson United Methodist Church, where they lead a marriage ministry.
Hudson, 49, said he'd like to remain in journalism. "I still have that passion." Layoffs were reportedly still underway on Thursday throughout the Jackson newspaper.
Hudson joined the Clarion-Ledger in 2003 from Gannett's Lansing (Mich.) State Journal, where he was managing editor. In 2004, he received the President's Award from the National Association of Black Journalists for keeping NABJ's comprehensive list of African American newspaper executives.
Richardson could not be reached immediately, but Hudson, who helped recruit him to Gannett from the Associated Press, said the two men had talked.
Richardson was assistant bureau chief for the AP in Dallas when he was named managing editor of the newspaper in his native Shreveport in 2004. The Texas Associated Press Managing Editors named Richardson its AP Staffer of the Year in 2001.
Meanwhile, the Gannett Co. flagship, USA Today, is implementing a dramatic overhaul announced in August. USA Today will "focus less on print ... and more on producing content for all platforms (Web, mobile, iPad and other digital formats)," according to a slide show shown then to employees.
"In the first wave of change, USA Today, which is based in McLean, Va., will no longer have separate managing editors overseeing its News, Sports, Money and Life sections," an AP story said at the time.
"The newsroom instead will be broken up into a cluster of 'content rings' each headed up by editors who will be appointed later this year. The newly created content group will be overseen by Susan Weiss, who had been managing editor of the Life section. As executive editor of content, Weiss will report to USA Today Editor John Hillkirk."
The new arrangement will mean new roles for black journalists who were deputy managing editors at the paper, but not all of the assignments have been fleshed out. Rodney Brooks and Geri Coleman Tucker, who were in the Money section, now lead "content rings" that serve all USA Today platforms. Brooks oversees personal finance, markets and small business, while Tucker has technology and autos. Robert Robinson in Sports and Dash Parham in Graphics are the other two former deputy managing editors.
Robin Pence, Gannett's vice president of corporate communications, did not respond to inquiries.
The midterm elections Tuesday were such a blowout for Republicans that the news media barely found time to home in on noteworthy developments involving people of color.
According to national exit polls for House races, broken down by race and gender, the Republican blowout was a phenomenon among white voters. Blacks, Latinos and "all other races" went Democratic.
Specifically, 63 percent of white men voted Republican as did 58 percent of white women. Eighty-five percent of black men voted Democratic, as did 93 percent of black women, 60 percent of Latino men, 68 percent of Latino women and 55 percent of "all other races."
And despite those who argue that class differences among people of color have destroyed the notion of any racial "community," there was not much difference along income lines. Republicans were favored by only 28 percent of nonwhites making more than $50,000; the figure was 17 percent for those making under $50,000.
Just before the election, Les Payne, retired Newsday editor and columnist, reminded the Kansas City Branch of the NAACP that when President Obama was a candidate in 2008, he "could not convince the majority of white America to vote for him," Lewis Diuguid of the Kansas City Star reported. Obama's so-called drop in popularity "is about the same percentage of people in this country who could never accept a black man in the Oval Office running the country," Payne said, according to Diuguid.
Some pundits noted Wednesday that in many ways a different electorate went to the polls this year. "Exit polls showed voters ages 18 to 29 made up 11 percent of the electorate, a sharp drop from the 18 percent in 2008 and the lowest percentage in two decades," Perry Bacon Jr. reported in the Washington Post. Others said voters were older.
Efforts by White House and the Democrats to turn out people of color seemed to pay off — somewhat. David Axelrod, political adviser to the White House, held a conference call with Hispanic media on Monday and said 660,000 Latino citizens had already voted in advance, 13 percent more than in the legislative elections of 2006, Agence France-Presse reported.
"The Latino share of the electorate reached 8 percent, a record high for a mid-term election, while black turnout dropped from its high of 13 percent in 2008 to its historic 10 percent level this year," Henry Olsen wrote Wednesday for Bloomberg News. "If Latinos continue to grow as a group, and blacks turn out in droves again to re-elect Obama, the Republican nominee in 2012 will be hard-pressed to win without retaining the record share of white working-class voters the party garnered this week."
Separate stories chronicled the progress made at the polls by people of color.
"The historic Republican wave also produced historic results for minority candidates, from Latina and Indian-American governors to a pair of black congressmen from the deep South," Jesse Washington wrote for the Associated Press.
"In New Mexico, Susana Martinez was elected as the nation's first female Hispanic governor. Nikki Haley, whose parents were born in India, will be the first woman governor in South Carolina, and Brian Sandoval became Nevada's first Hispanic governor.
"Insurance company owner Tim Scott will be the first black Republican congressman from South Carolina since Reconstruction, after easily winning in his conservative district. Scott, a 45-year-old state representative, earned a primary victory over the son of the one-time segregationist U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond.
"In Florida, military veteran Allen West outfought a two-term Democrat to win his House race. He is the first black Republican elected to Congress from Florida since a former slave served two terms in the 1870s. The last black Republican in Congress was J.C. Watts of Oklahoma. He left office in 2003. There were 42 black Democrats in Congress this term.
"Several Latino Republicans defeated incumbent House Democrats. In Texas, Bill Flores snatched a seat from Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards, who had served 20 years in Congress, and Francisco Canseco beat 11-year veteran Ciro Rodriguez. Jamie Herrera became the first Latino congressman from Washington state. . . .
"On the Democratic side, Terri Sewell became the first black woman elected to Congress in Alabama. . . . Marco Rubio, a Republican and Cuban-American, won a Senate seat in Florida. He will replace the retiring Mel Martinez, another conservative Cuban."
However, the website Bolsavik.com, discussing Vietnamese Americans, reported that, "Across the country, except for a few bright spots, most Viet candidates fall flat, losing their races, sometimes spectacularly." That was true "starting with the highest ranking Vietnamese American elected official, U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao -R, [2nd congressional district in New Orleans] most famous for being the only Republican to vote for health care reform."
On the other hand, California Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, "daughter of a Filipina farm worker and a Filipino-Portuguese plantation worker, . . . made history as the first Asian-American, and also the youngest jurist, to hold the highest position in any state judiciary in the United States," GMA News reported via New America Media.
CNN seemed to hold the record for the most people of color commenting on election night. And in contrast to Obama's last news conference, when four black journalists were called on, none asked a question at Wednesday's more somber post-election press session.
The atmospherics on election night were fodder for commentary. Eric Deggans blogged for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times:
"Let’s say you’re an over-caffeinated, 24/7 media culture faced with covering a deluge of midterm elections Tuesday whose outcomes have been predicted in polls for days and weeks. What do you do?
"That seemed the story of media coverage Tuesday, where many news outlets treated the midterm election results like the Super Bowl and World Series combined — except for the fact that polls had predicted big losses for the Democrats and President Barack Obama over some time."
Harry Reid said, "We've got to do something about these misleading polls that are all over the country."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who came from behind to retain his seat Tuesday, used a post-election question about his victory strategy as an opening to unleash an attack on the media, Jessica Yellin and Kevin Bohn reported on Wednesday for CNN's "Political Ticker" blog.
"We've got to do something about these misleading polls that are all over the country. They are so unfair, and you just gobble them up no matter where they come from. You just run with them like they are the finest pastry in the world. They're false and misleading, and people pay for those polls so you will use them," he said.
"A series of polls commissioned by media outlets in the last weeks showed his race against Tea Party-backed Republican Sharron Angle a dead heat or gave Angle a small advantage," the CNN story said.
" 'I told people for weeks I was comfortable with where I was with the polls. But every poll showed me losing, and I was comfortable,' he said.
"So how did Reid, with high negatives in the state with the largest unemployment, manage to pull out a five point decisive victory? In his press conference he touted the Hispanic turnout, which was about 17 percent — higher than anticipated. It appears the Angle campaign alienated some Latino voters by running ads that cast Hispanic looking people as lawbreakers and angered others with a gaffe in which the candidate said some students at a Hispanic high school 'look Asian.' "
In Washington state, "the race between outspoken state Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders and Bainbridge Island attorney Charlie Wiggins for a seat on the state's highest court remained too close to call after Wednesday's latest election tallies," Steve Miletich reported in the Seattle Times.
Sanders had the Times' endorsement until he and a second judge stunned some participants at a court meeting by saying that African Americans are overrepresented in the prison population because they commit a disproportionate number of crimes.
The Times, for the first time in memory, withdrew an endorsement. Editorial Page Editor Ryan Blethen wrote on Friday that Sanders' statements "were so off base, so uninformed, that we could no longer stand by him. . . . The evidence is overwhelming that inequalities in the justice system and socioeconomic forces play a far greater role in deciding who is incarcerated than skin color."
Miletich wrote Wednesday, "Even with Sanders leading with 51 percent of the vote, Wiggins continued to hold a significant lead in populous King County, with more than 56 percent of the vote and an estimated 300,000 King County votes still to be counted. The county posted its latest vote totals about 4:30 p.m Wednesday."
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- Black Radio Network: Minority Candidates Prevail (listing)
- Lawrence Bobo, theRoot.com: Don't Worry, Be Happy!
- Frederick Cosby, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Black Lawmakers Break New Ground, Suffer Losses
- Mary C. Curtis, Politics Daily: The Obama Presidency: A Rorschach Test for National Unity?
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- Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Let's at least try to get along
- James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: Dallas County DA Watkins became his own enemy in election
- Joni L. Reynolds, thedailyvoice.com: How did President Obama lose minorities?
- Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Obama's agenda was focus, but Detroiters let themselves down
- Betsy Rothstein, Fishbowl DC: Obama Called on Who?
- Gregory Stanford blog: Once again economy trumps everything
- Mark Trahant blog: We, the American people, are united by our division
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- Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Inspired by Obama, Republicans of color win more seats
- DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: As fewer vote, the fringe dominate
- Robert Yoon and Jeff Simon, CNN: Black Republicans to serve in same Congress
With cast of "For Colored Girls," Essence magazine displays what eluded the Hollywood Reporter.
"The Hollywood Reporter is set to relaunch its print publication as a weekly glossy on Wednesday, and the first issue of the multimillion-dollar overhaul has some of the Janice Min trademarks developed at the helm of Us Weekly," Dylan Stableford reported Tuesday for the Wrap.
". . . On the cover is a gaggle of Hollywood actresses who, according to THR, are leading the race into awards season: Amy Adams ('The Fighter'), Annette Bening ('The Kids Are All Right'), Helena Bonham Carter ('The King's Speech'), Nicole Kidman ('The Rabbit Hole'), Natalie Portman ('Black Swan') and Hilary Swank ('Conviction').
"The six also participated in an 'hour-long freewheeling and often fun' roundtable discussion for the issue. (The resulting cover photo is not unlike Vanity Fair’s 'Young Hollywood' issue — and just as white.)"
Eric Deggans wrote in his St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times blog, "perhaps the Reporter is just highlighting something we already know well if we're paying attention: Not many Oscar-level movies these days even feature a person of color in the cast."
Coincidentally, Essence announced this week that its December issue would be a special split-cover edition featuring the cast of the buzzworthy "For Colored Girls."
"A Saudi journalist is to be lashed in public after he was convicted of instigating protests against a government electricity company because of continuous power cuts in a central town, Ajel online newspaper said on Monday," the website Emirates247.com reported.
"The court in Qubba in the central province of Qaseem sentenced Fahd Al Jukhaidib, a journalist in the Saudi Arabic language daily Aljazierah, to two months in prison and 50 lashes with the whip, including 25 lashes in public in front of the electricity department, the paper said.
"Al Jukaidib was accused of leading residents of Qubba to the department two years ago to demand action to resolve continuous power cuts in the town.
"A few days later, the company yielded to their demands and sent seven additional power generators to the town."
"The United Nations is in danger of becoming irrelevant or even non-existent — specifically in the eyes of the developing world — because of a revived proposal to provide office space only to journalists who can afford to pay rent," Thalif Deen reported Wednesday for Inter-Press Service.
"Charging rent will drive most members of the press out of the United Nations," warns Giampaolo Pioli, president of the U.N. Correspondents' Association (UNCA), which represents over 200 full-time reporters covering the world body.
"The journalists most affected will be those from developing nations, writing either for their domestic news agencies or for daily newspapers back home, including from countries such as India, Egypt, Brazil, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, South Africa, Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Vietnam and Cyprus."
- "MSNBC Countdown host Keith Olbermann announced tonight he's suspending his longtime 'Worst Persons in the World' segment in the wake of Jon Stewart's slam of cable news anger and partisanship at last weekend's rally," the Hollywood Reporter reported on Tuesday.
- "Legendary journalist Helen Thomas — whose career ended after her remarks that Israelis should 'get the hell out of Palestine' — will be given a national journalism award by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee," Robin Erb wrote Wednesday in the Detroit Free Press, quoting Jewish groups who called Thomas' remarks anti-Semitic. Three of Thomas' sisters told Journal-isms in June that Thomas was not calling for the destruction of Israel or the return of all Israelis to Europe or the United States, as many in the news media interpreted the remarks, but was expressing her opposition to the disputed Israeli settlements in present-day Palestine.
- "DJ Steve Porter, best known for his 'Where Defense Happens' NBA commercial last year, caused quite the stir online after he appeared Sunday on ESPN to premiere his latest video featuring Randy Moss titled 'One Clap,' " Marcus Vanderberg reported Tuesday for Sportsnewser. "At the end of the video, Porter is seen wearing a Moss jersey, an afro wig and appears to be dressed in blackface — a derogatory stereotype against African Americans. In fact, Porter was wearing a Moss mask for Halloween."
- "In her acceptance speech in Brasília, President-elect Dilma Rousseff highlighted the role of the press and promised that her future government would guarantee freedom of expression," Maira Magro reported Monday for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. "The issue had been controversial during the elections. Some supporters of Rousseff's leftist Workers' Party had said major news organizations were acting as an opposition party, intent on blocking her win."
- "A Peruvian court has sentenced journalist José Alejandro Godoy, the head of the blog Desde el Tercer Piso (From the Third Floor), to three years in prison, a fine of $107,000, and 120 days of social work for 'aggravated defamation' against former minister and congressman Jorge Mufarech, El Comercio reports," Ingrid Bachmann wrote for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. "According to Perú 21, the journalist was convicted for an April post in which he linked to several media outlets that discussed criminal accusations against Mufarech."
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