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In Egypt, "This Is What Freedom Looks Like"

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Journalists, Bloggers Share in Benefits of Overthrow

Sunday Talk Shows Will Look Like the Same-Old Same-Old

Viewers See Police Killing of 19-Year-Old Bank Robber

Discovery to Invest $50 Million More in OWN

Buffalo Television Station Owner Guilty in Beheading

"Black Snob" Associate a Figure in Congressman Scandal

Huffington Post Not Ready to Announce Latino Site

Short Takes

"This is what freedom looks like," NBC's Ron Allen shouted from the square, surrounded by celebrants. "This is the moment so many people in this country have waited for. . . . People cannot contain themselves." (Video) (Credit: MSNBC)

Journalists, Bloggers Share in Benefits of Overthrow

The world will not soon forget the scene in Cairo's central Tahrir Square on Friday, the day that President Hosni Mubarak announced he was stepping down from his 30-year rule after 18 days of protests.

"This is what freedom looks like," NBC's Ron Allen shouted from the square, surrounded by celebrants. "This is the moment so many people in this country have waited for. . . . People cannot contain themselves."

An anchor asked Allen whether he saw parallels with the U.S. civil rights movement. "This is so profound in so many ways, it's hard to compare historical movements," Allen demurred.

As with the civil rights movement, though, the beneficiaries of Egypt's historical movement included journalists and other communicators.

"Dear Mubarak, if it took destroying my car and me getting beaten up for you to leave, it was WORTH IT!" tweeted Mahmoud Salem, an Egyptian digital media businessman and a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston who goes by the name Sandmonkey.

"Egyptian journalists who have courageously found ways to work under the yoke of Mubarak's censorship and repression are releasing a sigh of relief that they've held in for three long decades," Mohamed Abdel Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote.

"Over the past couple of hours, journalists, foreign and local, are finally able to take out their cameras and notepads and report freely.

"I just received confirmation that Karim Amer, a blogger and longtime critic of Mubarak who was seized by state agents on Monday, was just released from custody. Amer had recently served a four-year prison term for his writing. That means that all detained journalists whom CPJ had been tracking over the past 18 days are now free.

"Here's one of the most moving things I heard today: I was talking to a friend who was demonstrating outside the headquarters of the state broadcaster. In his immediate vicinity was a journalist who, in an effort not to stand out, was discreetly using a small flip-camera to film the scene and a small notepad to take notes. As the official announcement was made that Mubarak had stepped down, the crowd roared in approval.

"Almost immediately, my friend relayed, a military officer went up to the reporter and handed him a professional camera with a massive lens. The officer said: 'We were made to confiscate this camera from a journalist the other day. We had no choice. I don't even know who that guy was and there is no way to track him. You're a journalist; you'll make good use of it. Take it and document the people's revolution.' "

Sunday Talk Shows Will Look Like the Same-Old Same-Old

Despite the corner of the world in which the Egyptian uprising took place and the historical significance of the event, the Sunday talk shows on American television will feature minimal voices from people of color or from the Middle East, judging from the schedules released by the networks on Friday.

The announcement for NBC's "Meet the Press," reads, "What the Revolution in Egypt means for the U.S.," but the main guest is the very un-Egyptian House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The roundtable discusses "What will the battle over the budget bring? How will the new members of Congress that rode the wave of Tea Party anger to Washington navigate tough votes ahead like raising the country’s debt ceiling? And what do the tough budget choices in Washington mean for the nation’s big cities?

"Also, insights and analysis on all the Republican positioning in the 2012 race for the White House as conservatives gather for the annual CPAC conference in Washington. Plus the very latest developments in Egypt and what it all means for U.S. policy in the region. Our roundtable: The mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed (D); freshman member of congress supported by the Tea Party, Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL); former Clinton White House press secretary, Dee Dee Myers; columnist for the New York Times, David Brooks; and Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin." Reed is African American.

The show is the first produced under new Washington bureau chief Antoine Sanfuentes.

ABC's "Nightline" plans an hour Friday on Egypt, but Sunday's "This Week With Christiane Amanpour" features no people of color, although Democratic strategist Donna Brazile is frequently on the program. The usual suspects return.

"Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty sit down with Ms. Amanpour to discuss what the revolution in Egypt means for America’s place in the world, how they view the Obama administration’s response to the uprising, and what they would have done differently," an announcement says.

"On the roundtable: Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post, ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper, and ABC News’ George Will discuss the Egyptian revolution, the role of social media and what Egypt means for the rest of the middle east."

CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley plans to discuss the "Revolution in Egypt" with John Negroponte, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Edward Walker, former U.S. ambassador to Egypt.

[A CNN spokeswoman said Sunday that the hour-long "Fareed Zakaria GPS Live," which airs Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern, will include actual Egyptians: Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian ambassador to the United States.

[CBS changed its "Face the Nation" lineup to include ElBaradei and Shoukry, as well as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Egyptian Nobel laureate and activist Ahmed Zewail.] 

"Fox News Sunday" plans to feature Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee and Republican Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

Only on the two black-oriented Sunday news shows will there be a critical mass of people of color. But because "Weekly With Ed Gordon" on BET and "Washington Watch With Roland Martin" on TV One are taped in advance, those shows had little time to reflect on Mubarak's Friday resignation.

Sunday night’s "Weekly with Ed Gordon" will feature HIV/AIDS Activist Hydeia Broadbent, journalist Tamron Hall, musician David [Minott] and former politician Michael Steele," a publicist said. The topics include "The complex friendships between the US and countries like Egypt, Haiti, Tunisia, etc."

"Washington Watch," which will air during the church hour, fared better.

Jay Feldman, the show's executive producer, said this by e-mail:

"We are running a clip from President Obama’s speech today after President Mubarak resigned. We talked with Smokey Fontaine of about the role of Google Executive Wael Ghonim and the role Facebook and Twitter have had on this revolution and on revolutions to come. Our panel also spent some time talking about the parallels between the movement in Egypt and the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. and the wide impact of Dr. Martin Luther King all around the world. Finally, Roland’s perspective is offering up the lesson of what people can do when they get together and persist in fighting for something they believe in."

Evaluating participation by journalists of color in the Egypt story, Miami Herald World Editor John Yearwood, co-chairman of the World Affairs Task Force for the National Association of Black Journalists, had this e-mailed observation:

"It was good to see a few of our members in the coverage mix, Hannah Allam of McClatchy and Ron Allen of NBC News, to name a couple. But this and other big international stories show clearly that journalists of color aren't often enough assigned to the big international stories. That's why we spend so much time on the World Affairs Task Force giving members practical experience working overseas. We want our members to be ready for the next big opportunity. But it's not just on our members. Editors have a responsibility to ensure that coverage teams are diverse. It goes without saying that you get much richer coverage that way."

In a discussion on public radio's "Latino USA," June Cross, who teaches at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, explained the difference it might make with an African American viewing the events. "When I see those pictures, I see my uncles and my cousins," Cross said, "and that makes me respond to the whole thing differently. I don't see them as 'the other.' . . . When I go to Washington Heights," a diverse section of New York, "I'd find different kinds of things. I would see if from the inside out instead of the outside in." [Updated Feb. 13]

Viewers See Police Killing of 19-Year-Old Bank Robber

'We had no intention of showing a man being shot, and certainly we didn't want to do that,' WTVD's news director said. (Credit: WNCN)Viewers watching live coverage of a three-hour standoff between police and a suspected bank robber Thursday evening saw police shoot and kill Devon Mitchell, 19, when one of the stations accidentally replayed a video showing Mitchell hit with gunfire as he led a hostage from the bank.

The incident took place in the booming Raleigh, N.C., suburb of Cary, and was played out live on television during the dinner hour.

WRAL showed footage of the suspect leading a woman from the Wachovia bank and holding a gun to her head, and then cut away before the man was shot dead by police," Brooke Cain reported Friday in the News & Observer.

"WTVD cut away from the scene too, but when they returned, they say they accidentally showed a replay that included footage of the suspect being shot. On subsequent replays, footage of the man being shot was not shown.

"WTVD news director Rob Elmore says showing the video was a mistake.

" 'We had no intention of showing a man being shot, and certainly we didn't want to do that, and we regret that we did.

'I've directed all of our stations to never show that again,' Elmore added.

"WRAL news director Rick Gall said WRAL also intentionally cut away from the scene to avoid airing a live situation that might end badly.

" 'It appeared to the staff we have in the control room that one of the people exiting the bank was or might be the suspect, and usually that doesn't end well,' he said. 'Recognizing that, we intentionally cut away from the video so that we wouldn't show something that ends badly.' "

The Radio-Television Digital News Association has adopted guidelines for broadcasting graphic content.

"When covering live events that could turn graphic quickly, have you taken sufficient precautions to prevent inappropriate pictures and sound from airing?" it asks. "Is there someone else available to help collaborate on the decision? Have you considered instructing field crews to stay wide on live camera shots?"

On Friday, Raleigh's WNCN-TV, known as NBC17, identified the slain hostage taker as a high school dropout who had recently re-enrolled.

"According to Wake County Schools Spokesman Michael Evans, Mitchell re-enrolled as a freshman at Panther Creek High School last month. He attended the school between Aug. 2007 and Sept. 2008 before dropping out," the station reported.

The News & Observer's Stephanie Soucheray added that the incident "unfolded live on local TV, culminating in Mitchell walking from the building while holding a gun to the head of a female and then being shot by police snipers as the hostage sank to her knees.

" 'This is not how we wanted it to end,' said Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore. 'We're extremely grateful to everyone who helped bring this sad and challenging event to its conclusion.' No hostages or police were injured in the incident, according to Cary police."

Four schools in the area were locked down at the beginning of the standoff, meaning no one was allowed to enter or exit, but that was lifted at 5 p.m. A day care center across the street from the bank, Kids R Kids, was evacuated, and the children taken to a church. There were 117 children at the center, Bazemore said.

Mike Baker of the Associated Press wrote:

"Authorities said 19-year-old Devon Mitchell of Cary held as many as seven people in the bank and officers were able to negotiate the release of four of them. Two women were released shortly after police arrived, and two more people were released an hour later.

"During one of the releases, overhead television footage showed one of the hostages running from the building quickly while the second fell to the ground outside the bank's door and didn't move. Officers rushed to her side, helped her up and ran backward while keeping their guns aimed at the building's door.

"Three people remained inside, but Bazemore said Mitchell wasn't aware of one of them. She said that hostage was relaying information to authorities outside.

"As darkness fell, Mitchell slowly walked out of the bank with the woman hostage. Officers swarmed and the suspect fell to the ground amid a cluster of gunshots and smoke. The hostage fell to her knees but was apparently unharmed.

" 'I'm shaken. I hope I don't have to see something like that again,' said 16-year-old Zackery Marvel, who watched the dramatic conclusion from an apartment complex nearby."

Discovery to Invest $50 Million More in OWN

"Discovery Communications on Friday said it will invest an additional $50 million in OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, particularly in programming, and break even on the channel this year on an operating basis," Georg Szalai reported Friday for the Hollywood Reporter.

"President and CEO David Zaslav said on an earnings conference call that Discovery expects to increase funding to help drive the network, a joint venture with Oprah Winfrey, to longer-term profitability and growth with stronger content.

". . . Zaslav said his firm is 'confident that we can generate sustained momentum in ratings and reach [operating income before depreciation and amortization] breakeven in 2011,' adding he still expects that OWN will be 'a very big business' over time. . . .

"Zaslav on Friday said 24 new OWN shows are slated to launch this year, which should help boost ratings. While OWN currently features a lot of reruns, over the next six to 12 months, people should start to see the strength of its original programming, Zaslav told analysts. He said ratings should get an additional bump from Winfrey's move to the network after she ends the run of her syndicated show this fall and Rosie O'Donnell's new show, which is set for a fall debut on OWN."

Buffalo Television Station Owner Guilty in Beheading

"A former banking executive who helped launch the nation's first Muslim television station faces 15 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him on Tuesday (Feb. 8) of murdering and decapitating his wife nearly two years ago," Omar Sacirbey wrote Thursday for Religion News Service.

"Muzzammil 'Mo' Hassan, 46, never denied killing Aasiya Zubair Hassan, who he met while visiting his native Pakistan in 2000. They married the same year, and settled in upstate New York.

"Shocked by what she considered to be anti-Muslim hostility in the American media, Hassan's wife persuaded her husband to start a television station to help improve Muslims' image and their relationship with other Americans.

"In 2004, they launched Bridges TV in Orchard Park, N.Y., which featured a mix of religious, cultural and news programming from a Muslim perspective, as well as non-Muslim programming. The station, operated by a multi-religious group, continues to broadcast.

"Behind the ambitious project was a turbulent relationship in which, according to trial testimony, Hassan abused his wife. A week before her murder on Feb. 12, 2009, Zubair Hassan, 37, had filed for divorce.

"Many anti-Muslim critics seized on the crime as an example of the inherent evil and misogyny of Islam. Muslims and others have rejected those allegations, condemned Hassan, and charged critics with exploiting a tragedy to demonize a religion that Zubair Hassan deeply cared for."

"Black Snob" Associate a Figure in Congressman Scandal

Danielle Belton, a.k.a. 'The Black Snob'The life of Danielle Belton, aka "The Black Snob," has been a whirlwind since she wrote Thursday on

"In the midst of an embarrassing scandal broken by the gossip and media blog Gawker, Rep. Christopher Lee (R-NY) resigned from his seat in shame. In less than three hours from when the story broke on Wednesday he was suddenly in retreat. Denials of a computer hack turned into needing to spend time with the wife. But who was the woman at the center of the drama? And how did it all really go down? . . . "

Belton said by e-mail Thursday night, "I've been interviewed so many times and the site crashed a few times as well. . . . I did ABC7, NBC Washington, the Fox affiliate in DC and I filmed segments for both the Today Show and Good Morning America. . . . I was on the radio. It was just a looooong crazy day."

On Friday, Belton quoted from a blog posting on the matter from the woman in question, "34-year-old Maryland mother Yesha Callahan," and disclosed, "Yesha Callahan has freelanced in the past for TheLoop21 and is an associate of TheLoop21 editor Danielle Belton."

Belton recapped, "Lee suddenly resigned this week after a picture he sent Callahan through a Craigslist ad she posted became public through the blog Gawker. Callahan and Lee never met, never went on a date and only exchanged a few flirty emails, but those emails grew into a larger story amid rumors of improper behavior by the married Congressman."

Huffington Post Not Ready to Announce Latino Site

"When we announced Global Black, Arianna mentioned that a Latino vertical was a logical next addition," Mario Ruiz, senior vice president, media relations for the Huffington Post, told Journal-isms.

He was referencing Arianna Huffington's Jan. 20 announcement with Sheila Johnson of a black-oriented section of the Huffington Post site. "As of now, however, we're not ready to announce any new verticals," Ruiz said.

The public radio show "Latino USA" this week discusses "plans to include special 'Latino' and 'African American' sections to the Huffington Post." Maria Hinojosa sat down with June Cross, filmmaker and Columbia University journalism professor, and columnist Ruben Navarrette to discuss whether the plans are a step forward or a step back. A podcast is available.

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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