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FAMU's Student Editor Ousted

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Updated January 24

Adviser Reportedly Cites Prospect of "Negative" Stories

Detroit City Hall Reporter Taken Off Beat After Affair

NBC News, CNN Most-Watched During Inauguration

Jen Christensen to Lead Lesbian, Gay Journalists

Scholar Challenges 2nd Amendment Tie to Slavery

18-Month Project Finds, Photographs the Exonerated

Los Angeles Times Had Cameo Role in "Dreamgirls"

Online Only, Readers See What the Fuss Was About

Dolores Prida, Advice Columnist, Trailblazer Was 69

Clinkscales' "Shadow League" Sports Site Launches

Short Takes

Adviser Reportedly Cites Prospect of "Negative" Stories

"The editor of the student newspaper at Florida A&M University learned via email today that he's being replaced," Michael Koretzky reported Wednesday for the Southern Drawl, a blog of the Society of Professional Journalists. "This is the totality of that email…

Dean Ann Wead Kimbrough of Florida A&M University ordered a delay in publication

"Thank you for submitting your application for the editor-in-chief of The FAMUan for the Spring 2013 semester. It was a pleasure to interview with you on Jan. 22, 2013. I regret to inform you that after careful consideration I have selected another applicant. Best wishes in your future endeavors.

"It was written by Kanya Stewart, the new Famuan adviser who still hasn't been formally announced as the replacement for the fired Andrew Skerritt. [Skerritt remains on the faculty.

[On Thursday, Sara Gregory of the Student Press Law Center reported that the choice for editor-in-chief is senior Angie Meus, who said she hopes to improve the relationship between students and the newspaper during her term.

[". . . Meus said that she was initially concerned by administrators’ decision to suspend publishing and force editors to reapply, but that the dean has been 'open and willing' and has answered any questions she had.

[" 'I was concerned and I think other students were as well,' she said. 'But I trusted that our School of Journalism and Graphic Communication had it under control.' "]

Karl Etters, "being a quality journalist, searched out Stewart for illumination. 'She explained that I was not the best fit for the job because I didn't fit into the vision of The Famuan,' he told me. And what's that vision?

"She said my answer about holding the administration accountable and publishing 'negative' stories as she called it — which I did not say in the interview — was not in the vision of the paper.

"I tried to reach Stewart to see if Etters is describing her vision correctly, but she hasn't returned calls to two separate phone numbers in her name. . . ."

The Student Press Law Center reported, "Etters said he does not know who the new editor is, but believes at least one other person applied for the position. Stewart could not be reached for comment. Journalism school Dean Ann Kimbrough declined to comment on the selection of the new editor or adviser.

Karl Etters

"Stewart confirmed in a tweet she posted Tuesday that the paper will resume publishing on Jan. 30, almost two weeks after Kimbrough suspended the paper's publishing and removed the paper's adviser. Editors were told then that they would have to take part in training sessions and reapply for their positions.

"Etters said he was disappointed but not surprised to learn he was not rehired. He served as the paper's top editor last semester and in December, reapplied and was hired to serve for this semester as well.

" 'To me it seems like this was all a ruse to put somebody else as editor,' Etters said. 'That's how it feels. A horse is a horse no matter which way you look at it.' "

"He said he asked Stewart for feedback as to why he was not rehired Wednesday afternoon.

" 'The short answer is I didn't fit into the vision of the paper,' Etters said, noting that Stewart objected to one of the answers he gave in his interview.

" 'I said something along the lines of 'we publish the truth whether it's positive or negative, good or bad,' he said. 'She said that she didn't like my answer about negative stories. … I would never say that's a goal, writing negative stories. But holding people accountable doesn't constitute negative stories.' "

Kimbrough and Stewart could not be reached for comment.

Valerie White, the director of the Division of Journalism who fought student censorship as leader of the Black College Communication Association, told Journal-isms by email Thursday:

"Concerning the issues at hand, there isn't much I can say right now due to the lawsuit, FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] and privacy concerning personnel matters." A libel lawsuit was filed in December by a former Marching 100 drum major.

"I wrote a note to faculty on Jan. 16 urging them to refer all requests for comments to the Office of Communications or the University General Counsel. The new adviser was announced in that communication to faculty and to students at the training on Friday. I understand that Kanya Simon Stewart spoke and entertained questions. I was away on family medical leave.

"The decision to delay the first issue of The Famuan was made in an effort to preserve The Famuan, but a few students made it about them instead of seeing the big picture.

"Some of the information that has been reported is not true. And the truth will come out, but not right now due to pending litigation."

After the administration "delayed" publication until Jan. 30, the Famuan students published online, calling their product Ink and Fangs. They also attended the training the administration mandated. Etters confirmed by telephone the quotes he gave to SPJ and the Student Press Law Center and said he planned to continue Ink and Fangs.

"Maybe once a week, post a few things there," he said, "provide another outlet for journalism students." Etters said he had made a conscious effort not to write about the Famuan situation on the site.  "It didn't seem like the right thing," he said. He thought he would be "taking the high road."

Detroit City Hall Reporter Taken Off Beat After Affair

"The Detroit News has removed its veteran city hall reporter from his beat following allegations that he was having an affair with the ex-wife of state Treasurer Andy Dillon and then threatened to kill her with a baseball bat, sources at the newspaper and Lansing confirmed today," Steve Neavling reported Wednesday for the blog Motor City Muckrake.

Leonard FlemingDetroit News Managing Editor Donald W. Nauss confirmed for Journal-isms by telephone that Leonard Fleming, who once competed with Neavling as a city hall reporter, "was reassigned last week. We haven't figured out a spot for him," Nauss said. "We're temporarily putting him in the general assignment pool." Nauss said that he could not discuss personnel issues and that Fleming was on vacation.

Neavling, who was fired in April from the Detroit Free Press, continued, "The allegations are serious, for one, because reporter Leonard Fleming was closely covering Dillon's office as it negotiated a controversial state takeover of Detroit City Hall. Fleming continued to report on Dillon's takeover plan until at least last month, when editors learned of the affair.

"In the meantime, Fleming's relationship with Carol Dillon apparently went sour, and he began harassing her and even sent her a picture of his penis, according to a personal protection order granted to her two weeks ago. . . ."



NBC News, CNN Most-Watched During Inauguration

"The Nielsen ratings are in, and NBC News and CNN were the big winners on Inauguration Day," Dylan Byers reported Tuesday for Politico.

"NBC News was the most-watched broadcast or cable television network, drawing an average of 5.081 million viewers during its 10am - 4:30pm broadcast, according to Nielsen ratings provided by NBC. CBS News averaged 3.671 million; ABC News averaged 3.922 million*.

"On cable, CNN scored an average 1.923 million total viewers throughout the day, 3.573 million total viewers in primetime, and 3.136 million viewers during President Obama's address, according to Nielsen numbers provided by CNN. Fox News averaged 1.104 million during the day, 1.666 million in primetime, and 1.316 million during the address. MSNBC averaged 1.095 million viewers during the day, 1.365 million during primetime, and 2.273 million during the speech."

The asterisk refers readers to this paragraph: "*ABC News is now claiming 4.57 million viewers, based on Nielsen's decision to adjust the average to include the Oath of Office and President Obama's speech. We'll have new totals as soon as the official numbers for Nielsen are released across all networks."

Jen Christensen to Lead Lesbian, Gay Journalists

Jen Christensen

Jen Christensen, a writer and producer with, has been chosen by the board of directors of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association as its new president, succeeding the late Michael Triplett, the association announced on Tuesday. Christensen is to serve the remainder of the term, through the 2014 convention.

". . . Since 2009, Christensen has served as NLGJA's vice president for broadcast. She previously served on NLGJA's board of directors for three terms, as president of the Georgia and Carolinas chapters and as the founding president of the Kentucky chapter," the announcement said. Christensen is also a board member of the Unity: Journalists for Diversity coalition.

Meanwhile, Triplett's family announced a memorial service to be held Saturday, Feb. 2, at noon at St. Paul's Lutheran Church at 4900 Connecticut Ave. NW in Washington. Visitation is scheduled for 11 a.m. prior to the service in the church's baptistry. A reception follows.

The family has requested that memorials be made to St. Paul's Lutheran Church; NLGJA, 2120 L Street NW, Suite 850, Washington, D.C. 20037;  or Hospice Family Care; 3304 Westmill Dr. SW, Huntsville, AL 35805.

The lives of each of the men and women photographed was irrevocably altered. There were 20 in all.

18-Month Project Finds, Photographs the Exonerated

Billy Smith II of the Houston Chronicle produced a photo essay this week for the Chronicle about people who were wrongfully convicted.

". . . The stories of each of the 20 men and women in these pages, are, like DNA, uniquely their own," reads an accompanying text by Tony Freemantle. "But the one thing they have in common is that their lives and the lives of their families, the jurors who convicted them, the judges who presided over their conviction, and the witnesses or victims who got it wrong, were irrevocably altered."

Smith, a member of the 2008 class of the Maynard Institute's Media Academy, told Journal-isms by email that the project took a year and a half.

"The Exoneree Project was my story idea from the start," Smith wrote. "Tony, one of the best wordsmiths at our paper, came to me wanting to be a part of it. This was always first and foremost a photo-driven project. I tracked down all of these guys myself. We are talking late-night drives to addresses that may or may not be them and cold-calling numbers hoping it's the guy you're looking for. I did the audio interviews and each portrait is in a setting or posed is a way that tells each exoneree's story. The web presentation was produced by fellow co-worker and Photo Coach Smiley N. Pool. Smiley did a stunning job with the presentation.

"Tony Freemantle knew from the beginning the importance of this being a photo-driven project. He treated his written essay as the foreword to the images. The photos needed a entry point for the viewer and he supplied that. He also did a lot of fact checking and data work.

"As you know no good project is done alone. we had an excellent team here at the Chronicle working to make this an excellent project."

In the middle of the project, Smith's son was born three months premature and spent 50 days in neonatal intensive care.

"I am proud to say we celebrated is first birthday the same weekend the project was published."

Scholar Challenges 2nd Amendment Tie to Slavery

Legal scholar Paul Finkelman is challenging "The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery," an assertion by author and talk-show host Thom Hartmann on the Truthout website that was highlighted last week in this space. 

Hartmann's piece began, "The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says 'State' instead of 'Country' (the Framers knew the difference — see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too."

Writing on the Root on Monday, Finkelman disagreed.

"The idea of Madison, Henry and Mason teaming up in 1787 or in 1789 (when Madison wrote the Second Amendment) would make an entertaining Saturday Night Live skit," Finkelman wrote. "Madison and Henry could not stand each other. They were political opponents throughout this period. After 1787 Mason joined Henry in opposing the Constitution (which Madison worked so hard to create), and both Henry and Mason opposed the Bill of Rights. Indeed Virginia was the last state to ratify the Bill of Rights (in 1791) because of Henry's opposition to the Bill of Rights. Henry wanted to scuttle the whole Constitution and not make it better. So he opposed all the amendments.

"Thus, Hartmann's 'conspiracy' falls flat because a conspiracy would require that the people allegedly involved talked to each other.

"This is not to say that slave patrols were not important to the South and slavery. They surely were. But the Second Amendment was directed solely at the federal government, which was prohibited from disarming state militias, and thus allowed the states to arm their militias if the federal government did not do so. Even if the amendment did not exist and the national government had abolished the state militias, the states would have been free to create their own slave patrols, just as they can create police departments and other law-enforcement agencies. . . ."

Jamie Foxx with, from left, Beyonce Knowles, Anika Noni Rose and Jennifer Hudson in

Los Angeles Times Had Cameo Role in "Dreamgirls"

The Los Angeles Times had a role in the movie version of the "Dreamgirls" blockbuster released in 2006. Who knew?

"There's a scene where Jennifer Hudson's character is yelling at Jamie Foxx's character that was shot in the atrium," Times spokeswoman Hillary Manning told Journal-isms Wednesday by email. "There's a scene in Jamie Foxx's character's record company office that was shot in the Chandler Pavilion. There's a scene where police (I think?) come to seize records that was shot in what we call the round table room."

Christine Haughney reported Sunday in the New York Times that over the last several years, the Los Angeles paper "has rented its offices for use in the films 'Argo,' 'Moneyball,' 'Frost/Nixon,' 'Dreamgirls' and 'The Soloist.' " Haughney quoted Manning saying  the rentals were part of a strategy "to maximize the value of our real estate assets and diversify our revenue streams to best support The Times's core journalistic mission."

The L.A. Times is not the only newspaper with the idea. "While most newspapers lack cash, employees and a clear strategy for finding greater profits in the digital age, they do not lack for office space," Haughney wrote.

The Star-Ledger's caption read, "Kara Walker's drawing depicts the horrors of re

Online Only, Readers See What the Fuss Was About

Online readers of the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., were warned Sunday, "The artwork, which can be seen lower in this column, may be offensive to some readers." A portion of the drawing depicted a white man holding the head of a naked black woman to his groin, her back to the viewer.

"The painting that caused such a ruckus at the Newark Public Library is uncovered again, viewable by all, and the controversy around it gone," Barry Carter's story said. ". . .The huge drawing was done by Kara Walker, a renowned African-American artist whose themes deal with race, gender, sexuality and violence. This piece shows the horrors of reconstruction, 20th-century Jim Crowism and hooded figures of the Ku Klux Klan."

The artwork actually ran twice online, editor Kevin Whitmer told Journal-isms by email. The first time was in a December column by Carter headlined, "Censorship or common decency? Newark Library covers up controversial artwork."

The second time came Sunday in "Controversial painting in Newark Library is bared once again."

"The photo in [question] has run only online and we used it both times," Whitmer said, citing the editor's note about its potential to offend. "Our feeling is that it's hard to write about controversial art without showing the artwork somewhere. I suppose that's another great frontier the internet has opened for us. If people want it, they can have it.

"Gone are the old days when a 4-column photo on a cover page was one of the only options."

Dolores Prida, Advice Columnist, Trailblazer Was 69

" . . . Dolores Prida, legendary playwright, columnist and Latina trailblazer, died this morning at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City," Lee Hernandez wrote Sunday for Latina magazine. She was 69.

Dolores Prida"The author of Latina's 'Dolores Dice' column, and one of the founding members of the magazine, Dolores was a part of our Latina family and our hearts are heavy this morning as we report the news of her passing.

" 'In many ways, Dolores was the heart and soul of the magazine,' said Damarys Ocaña Perez, Latina's executive editor. 'She loved helping Latinas understand their self-worth and potential whether it was through her column's combination of witty and wise advice or by helping those of us putting together each magazine issue stay true to our mission of celebrating Latina life and accomplishments. She was an irreplaceable mentor and friend,' she said, adding that Prida received hundreds of letters a month and readers mentioned time and again 'how Dolores Dice was the first feature they turned to each month.'

"Last night, hours before she passed away, Prida attended a party for a group called LIPS — a journalism and advocacy group for Latinas that had been meeting for 20 years. . . . "

An autopsy was performed on Tuesday, but Lourdes Diharce, Prida's sister, said she had not yet been informed of the cause
of death
, Bruce Weber reported in the New York Times. 

Keith Clinkscales said, "We are creating an online community of thought leaders

Clinkscales' "Shadow League" Sports Site Launches

Keith Clinkscales, the entrepreneur and former magazine publisher and ESPN executive, announced Wednesday he had launched the Shadow League, a digital sports platform he promised in June.

". . . ESPN announced a relationship with The Shadow League that consists of funding as well as the potential to develop various content opportunities. The Shadow League remains an independent company with its own editorial voice," an announcement said.

The site is "led by editor in chief Vincent Thomas ('The Black Quarterback Is Dead'), and supported by the site's deputy editor Khalid Salaam and social media editor James Carr ('Marijuana Propaganda and Mathieu'). Its roster of writers is a potent mix of veteran sports journalists and up-and-comers including: J.R. Gamble ('The NCAA Is Failing Its Black Student Athletes,'), Keith Murphy ('The Chronic: When Dr. Dre Put Conscious Rap In The Coffin'), Maurice Bobb, Michael Tillery, Sandy Dover, Kelley Carter, Michael Arceneaux, DJ Dunson and Glenn Minnis ('Is Derrick Rose The Most Valuable Person In Sports?'), and Zach Dillard. The site has featured articles from pop culture experts Nelson George ('Op-Ed: Native Son Nelson George's Take On Brooklyn and Barclays'), Kevin Powell ('An Open Letter To Rick Ross And The Gangster Disciples') and Harry Allen."

Asked whether he is hiring, Clinkscales said by email, "i have done some hiring. and Vince Thomas [vince (at)]m is always taking pitches and working with people."

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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