Black Press Did Not Seek Grant Money for Morocco Trip
Monday, February 10, 2014
In the late 1990s, when NATO was considering adding Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland, not long out of the communist orbit, the National Conference of Editorial Writers went on a trip to the area. Don Wycliff, then editorial page editor of the Chicago Tribune, came back so impressed that the Tribune's position went from undecided to favoring admission of the three countries.
The trip by the NCEW, now the Association of Opinion Journalists, was not sponsored by a government, but by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, "an independent American public policy and grantmaking institution." The editorial writers group continued on several other such trips, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, the Star Tribune Foundation and other such third parties.
Those trips come to mind in light of the recent government-sponsored trip to Morocco by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade group of publishers of black community newspapers. Such government-sponsored trips are considered violations of ethical guidelines by the Society of Professional Journalists and leading news organizations, mindful of the timeworn assumption "he who pays the piper calls the tune." But the NNPA argues that it does not have the money to abide by such rules.
In an article last week excoriating this columnist's reporting on the trip, NNPA Chairman Cloves C. Campbell Jr. said, "Of course, we understand that it is preferable that we pay our own way on such trips. But since we're not getting our fair share of ad dollars and therefore don't have the resources to pay for the trips, we have to come up with creative ways of covering Africa because the Motherland is too important for us to ignore."
But asked on Monday whether NNPA considered seeking grant money for the trip, Campbell replied by email, "no."
Wycliff now teaches journalism ethics, among other journalism topics, as a distinguished journalist in residence at Loyola University Chicago.
"I guess everything is changing now in this era when news organizations are no longer as flush as they used to be," Wycliff told Journal-isms Monday by email. "However, it remains the case that, in the last analysis, what a news organization sells to the public is its reputation for credibility. The purpose of journalistic ethics is to build and maintain that credibility. Freedom from political, economic and other biases is essential to being credible. Nothing diminishes credibility as quickly as the suspicion of political influence and such influence — either through open or hidden agendas — always accompanies government funding.
"Foundations, by contrast, operate within limits, one of which is to act in some semblance of the public interest. That can be broadly construed, obviously, but it isn't utterly elastic."
The experience of the Association of Opinion Journalists might be instructive. Full disclosure: This columnist heads the AOJ Diversity Committee.
Jim Boyd, retired deputy editorial page editor at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and for many years chairman of NCEW's International Affairs Committee, explained by telephone to Journal-isms that at one time, newspapers did pay for their staffers' travel abroad.
"But newspapers stopped funding foreign travel because it was expensive. It was one of the first things to go. People tend to see them as junkets, even though it was extraordinarily beneficial." Before that, some mainstream newspapers accepted trips from foreign governments, such as Japan's, but "the ethics of journalism began to change. That's not where ethics in journalism are today."
So Boyd turned to foundations. "It's a lot of work," Boyd concedes. "It requires a lot of record keeping. We had to provide notebooks with every single article that came out of the trip. We had to explain where every dollar went." Moreover, "I'm not sure that a newspaper organization that went out and tried to do what we did would be successful [today]. That doesn't mean it shouldn't try. Maybe nobody's thought to ask."
After the trip to Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland, now NATO members, NCEW sought and received a three-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation for about $300,000, Boyd said. The first trip using that grant was in 1997 to Mexico City.
"The trip was quick, but long on content," Linda Valdez, an editorial writer for the Arizona Republic, wrote for the organization's magazine, the Masthead. "In addition to President [Ernesto] Zedillo and Governor [Cuauhtemoc] Cardenas, we had interviews with pollster Daniel Lurid, who explained the demographics and political mood; Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Angel Gurria, who told us in his Leeds University English about the challenges of dealing with U.S. politicians; and Roberto Rock, editorial director of El Universal, Mexico City's largest daily. He told us how most of his reporters quit and the government sent 50 federal police with machine guns when his paper decided to try ethics in journalism, U.S.-style. . . . "
In 1999, as Kosovo was fighting for independence after the breakup of Yugoslavia, NCEW spent two weeks in Russia. "The early June trip coincided with Russian efforts to help NATO find a way to end the Kosovo bombing and culminated as Russian troops boldly raced to take the Pristina airport ahead of NATO peacekeeping forces," Pat Widder of the Chicago Tribune wrote for the Masthead.
"We tried to make them affordable so even a small newspaper could afford it," Boyd said, speaking of the trips. Travel would cost the journalist perhaps $1,200, for example, although he said an unsubsidized cost would be $7,000 or $8,000. "Newspapers would still have to have some skin in the game," Boyd said. In some cases, journalists, rather than a news organization, have ponied up when they became independent or their bosses would not.
Boyd, who spent nearly 27 years as the Star Tribune's deputy editorial page editor before taking a buyout in 2007, cautioned that the employee coordinating such trips had to be prepared to give up about four or five months away from newspaper responsibilities. The association hired someone simply to arrange the travel and bookkeeping.
Also, Boyd said, priorities of foundations can change when their leadership does.
Boyd was awarded the 2005 Arthur Ross media award by the American Academy of Diplomacy "for critical, perceptive and non-partisan commentary on the policies of governments and international organizations, reflecting exhaustive research, a willingness to tell truth to power and a consistent appreciation for the importance of cooperation among nations."
Sue Ryon, then NCEW president, took note then of Boyd's tirelessness in seeking opportunities from "clean foundations."
"By graciously agreeing to chair NCEW's International Affairs Committee starting in '97, Jim Boyd rescued what had become an all-but-moribund program," Ryon wrote at the time. "Despite NCEW's well-earned reputation for putting together affordable, content-rich foreign tours, the number crunchers in too many of our offices had decided that such travel was discretionary; by definition, then, it must be frivolous.
"As a result, participation in NCEW travel had dwindled to almost nothing. To their great credit, Jim's predecessors did everything they could to stanch the hemorrhaging. Finally, they shifted the committee's focus somewhat, from that of developing travel opportunities to one of providing NCEW members who write about foreign affairs with names, phone numbers and other resources that might help inform their thinking and commentary. That in and of itself was a great service. Still, we thought the travel thing deserved one last shot. If only we could clear that financial hurdle...
"Well, Jim became a man on a mission. With the Executive Board's approval, he went out and raised money from 'clean foundations' that put no strings on its use; he was extremely careful to avoid anything that smelled of advocacy or partisanship. If memory serves, he raised roughly 70K the first year, which enabled NCEW to offer its members hefty subsidies for a couple of trips later that year. Just like that, NCEW travel was back in business. Jim also reinstated the State Department briefing, which had fallen by the wayside as too much money for too little information. (Those of you who have attended them over the last eight years might beg to differ with that proposition.)
"I'm absolutely delighted — though not at all surprised — to learn that Jim has received this prestigious award. In my book he's a visionary, and NCEW's the better for his leadership."
Ryon added by email on Monday, "At the time, the NCEW Board was very careful to vet the organizations from which we were soliciting contributions, particularly the German Marshall Fund, which, if memory serves, was responsible for a big chunk of that $70,000. We ultimately agreed to go ahead with that contribution because 1) some individual NCEW members already had accepted travel underwritten by the Marshall Fund and assured us that we would get an objective view of U.S.-European relations, and 2) the only requirement was that members who availed themselves of this opportunity would copy anything they wrote to the Marshall Fund.
"Was the NCEW Board uneasy about accepting the German Marshall Fund's generosity? To some extent, yes. It helped that the Marshall Fund had a stellar reputation. Moreover, as a board we agreed that the need to help NCEW members become more conversant with international affairs trumped the small condition attached to our acceptance of the grant."
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An Atlanta television anchor who lost her job after being accused of reckless driving and driving under the influence was cleared of those charges on Friday, but it is not at all certain that she can have her job back.
Amanda Davis, who was at WAGA-TV for 26 years, was taken off the air in November 2012 and retired the following April. "The retirement was not voluntary," as Rodney Ho reported Friday for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Davis was found guilty only of failure to maintain lane. She was fined $200 and told to do 20 hours of community service, Ho wrote.
"I'd love to get back to the business, serving the community," Davis told Journal-isms by email on Monday. "I still have a no compete for another 6 weeks. Then I'll be completely clear to move forward."
According to contractstandards.com, "A Non-Competition clause restricts individuals and organizations from providing services or engaging in businesses in certain markets and geographies for a period of time. The clause protects businesses from the potential that knowledge gained by an employee or business partner will be used in the future to compete against the business. However, the enforceability of non-compete clauses varies from state to state."
Davis' case was handled by William (Bubba) Head, considered one of the most effective DUI lawyers.
Head told Journal-isms that the case took 15 or 16 months to be heard, and over that time, much of the public already knew about the episode. "An arrest is not a conviction," he said, but in certain businesses, one is guilty until proved innocent. Moreover, in a 24-hour news cycle and with the reach of social media, "before I could ever get the case, it's already in the news everywhere."
He added, "They thought it was an open and shut case," but "sloppy police work" did in the prosecution.
As to whether Davis could regain her old job, Mike McClain, vice president of news at WAGA, referred Journal-isms to Claudia Russo, senior publicist at Fox Television Stations. Russo did not return a telephone call, but the station has since hired Cynne Simpson for Davis' slot.
Samuel L. Jackson listed for Los Angeles news anchor Sam Rubin a number of black actors that he is not. (video)
"WARNING: This is the MOST PAINFUL interview we've ever watched — an L.A. news anchor just mistook Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne ... on live TV ... and Sam Jackson completely lost it," the celebrity gossip site TMZ reported on Monday.
"Jackson was sitting for an interview about his new movie 'RoboCop' this morning on KTLA — and for some reason, Entertainment anchor Sam Rubin decided to ask Sam Jackson about his new Super Bowl commercial.
"But there's a HUGE problem — because Sam Jackson did NOT do a Super Bowl commercial this year. Laurence Fishburne did. And that's when Sam Jackson GOES OFF on Rubin.
"Rubin scrambles like 90s cable porn ... and desperately tried to apologize ... but Jackson will NOT let him off the hook. It's amazing."
Madison J. Gray, a Time magazine homepage producer and one of its last remaining black journalists, was laid off last week amid the massive restructuring that took place at Time Inc., Gray confirmed to Journal-isms.
Elsewhere at Time Inc., Dana Baxter, spokeswoman for Essence and People en Español, told Journal-isms by email, "Essence had some staff switches and fortunately we are only down a couple of headcount." She declined to name those who were affected. People en Español was not touched, she said.
"Joe" Gray said by email, "I'll be looking for bigger and better in this changing world of media that we're all navigating." He spent seven years at Time as a homepage producer and writer.
Gray worked five years at the Detroit News, three years at the Associated Press and nearly three years at the New York Times, and has contributed to The Root and AOL Black Voices websites.
Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp "announced that the company is cutting jobs and eliminating its current brand grouping structure. The changes also come with a shakeup to its executive leadership team," Michael Rondon reported Feb. 4 for Folio:, before the layoffs took place.
"Time Inc. wouldn't say how many of its 7,800 employees would be affected, though the NY Post reports as many as 500 staffers could be laid off (similar to the number that were let go in last year's layoffs); AdAge put the number lower."
Ripp said in a memo to employees, "When we enter the public markets in a few short months, our success will depend on how investors view the momentum we are generating at the new Time Inc. We will be judged on our ability to leverage our entire portfolio, to innovate, to make smart investments and to create exciting opportunities for our advertising partners across our company.
"The performance of print and individual brands will always be important, but Wall Street's focus will be on the performance of Time Inc. and on our ability to grow beyond print, embracing new technologies, new products, new markets, and new customers. Every employee in the organization needs to be fully invested in the performance of the company. . . ."
- Erik Wemple, Washington Post: Time Inc. lays off workers as boss rakes in $1.4 million signing bonus
Aretha Franklin closed the show, Smokey Robinson delivered a stunning rendition of "The Tracks of My Tears," and Ice Cube, Berry Gordy, photographer Carrie Mae Weems and American Express President Kenneth Chenault got their props, but in between was a public service ad for the political football known as the Affordable Care Act.
The occasion was a taping of this year's "BET Honors" special at the Warner Theatre in Washington on Saturday.
The Affordable Care Act PSA was delivered by actor and recording artist Mack Wilds, best known for roles on HBO's "The Wire" and the CW network's "90210."
Wilds told viewers that the act "can actually mean longer lives" for people in his age range (24). He reminds them to sign up by March 31 but apparently flubbed his lines and had to reshoot. When Wilds used a four-letter word to explain to the audience what had happened, host Wayne Brady told him to be conscious of his surroundings. In this audience, "ain't nobody saggin'," he said in a reference to the sagging pants style.
Promotion of the Affordable Care Act among media targeting people of color included an appearance by first lady Michelle Obama on radio's syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show."
According to Stephen Hill, BET's president of music programming and specials, "The PSA will air in the premiere of BET Honors on Monday, February 24 at 9pm ET. Every year during the show, BET Networks try to include a meaningful message that matters to our audience. In the past we have focused on issues such as voting and healthcare. With the deadline coming up, we felt it was the best way to inform our viewers. The producers decided to go with Mack Wilds because he appeals to the youth."
Helena Andrews, "Reliable Source," Washington Post: From the red carpet onward, the BET Honors brings star power to D.C.
- Charles Ornstein, ProPublica: Epic Fail: Where Four State Health Exchanges Went Wrong
- M L Ward, Uptown: Magic Johnson Gives Obamacare An Assist (Jan. 15)
- Barry Yeoman, American Prospect: A Mighty Shout in North Carolina
Despite the planned closing of CNN Latino, "I believe in CNN's commitment to diversity," Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, told members on Friday.
"The country is changing," Balta wrote in a message to members. "We are in the midst of a social revolution unlike any other in our nation's history. Latinos are redefining what it is to be American by infusing language and culture, flexing economic and political might, and leading racial diversity."
Balta said he had spoken Thursday with Geraldine Moriba, vice president of diversity and inclusion for CNN Worldwide. He said he was told that the closing of CNN Latino, an eight-hour news and entertainment service block that is syndicated in several stations around the country, was "solely based on CNN Latino's inability to meet business expectations." He said he was not told how the effort fell short.
Balta also wrote, "CNN Latino like NBC Latino are experiments aimed at reaching and better understanding this booming community. There is no one sure [turnkey] strategy at accomplishing that goal. Other such projects will come and go. The important thing is for media companies to continue to explore ways to better reflect Latinos in their newsrooms and to be inclusive of their voices in the content they produce. . . ."
NBC has folded the NBC Latino site into the new NBCNews.com and laid off three employees.
- Veronica Villafañe, Media Moves: CNN Latino Tampa station will rebrand, continue local programming
"They published a sensationalized lie," actor-turned-evangelist Leon Isaac Kennedy wrote Thursday in an open letter published by EURWeb.com.
"They accused me of viciously releasing a sex tape during our divorce, insinuating that I purposely tried to ruin Jayne Kennedy’s career and life. Nothing could be further from the truth. They published these scandalized lies to sell magazines, with no regard of how it would forever damage me and others.
"The fact is the tape was stolen from my home and was released and exploited almost a decade after our divorce. Jayne and her husband Bill [Overton] know the truth and I have sworn affidavits from others stating that they know that this tape was not put out by me. In these post-divorce years, I've maintained a friendship with Jayne, Bill and their family.
"What was particularly hurtful is that this was done by such a venerable, historical magazine. When you read something in Ebony, it's 'Bible', regarded as truth by the public. Johnson Publishing built its foundation and legacy by lifting up and championing the achievements of the Black community and in particular, Black men. However, the present Ebony staff published sensationalized falsities, contrary to my wonderful working relationship and friendship with CEO-Founder John Johnson — now deceased — and Bob Johnson, one of Johnson’s main reporters. . . ."
Vanessa Abron, a spokeswoman for Johnson Publishing Co., told Journal-isms Monday that the company would have no comment.
- DeBorah B. Pryor, EURWeb.com: EURexclusive: Leon Isaac Kennedy Calls Lee Bailey to 'Add to My Open Letter to the Press'
You might have seen Journal-isms items on the Confederate idolatry that continues around the South in street names, monuments, etc., such as this from last week: Where Are Monuments to Black Heroes of Reconstruction?
The Association of Opinion Journalists plans to collect pieces "looking back to the era of racial blinders in media, or current blinders, relevant mostly to people who do professional writing, editing or audio-video producing of opinion for a public audience. They can be anywhere from a 50-word anecdote to a 700-plus essay."
The association can't pay the writers, but the pieces will be on a website visible to the public, and be seen by many of the nation's editorial writers.
The group would like to post them by about Feb. 15.
If you have something to contribute, please notify rprince (at) mije.org. The messages will be forwarded to John McClelland, editor of the Masthead, the AOJ publication.
Meanwhile, the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education is conducting a Twitter chat Tuesday on consequences of the distorted coverage of people of color.
"From Trayvon Martin to a young man being arrested for buying an expensive belt, the distorted coverage of communities of color has consequence. Join the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education tomorrow for a twitter chat on the coverage and consequences of inaccurate #media coverage and what we can do to change the narrative Feb. 11, noon ET at #diversitychat," an announcement said on Monday.
- Mc Nelly Torres,
Mc Nelly Torres
- "How do speakers of indigenous languages actually use those languages once they come to the United States?" (audio) asks NPR's "Latino USA." "Producer Michael Simon Johnson talks to different native speakers about their takes on their mother tongues. Irwin Sanchez writes poetry in the Aztec language of Nahuatl. Alma Delia García avoids speaking Mixteco whenever possible — despite it being her first language. And Pablo Blanco and Hector Zapata use their native Garifuna as a form of cultural expression."
- Jim Hopkins, who began publishing the Gannett Blog in 2007 "as a virtual water cooler where employees could share information at a time of tremendous change across the news industry," said Saturday that he was calling it quits. "With the purchase of 20-station TV company Belo in late December, Gannett is no longer the same company," Hopkins wrote. "Corporate projects broadcasting will eventually account for more than half of all earnings; throw in digital, and the figure is forecast to rise even higher. In other words, Gannett is now a TV giant with a side interest in newspapers, its mainstay business since 1906 . . ."
- "FCC commissioner and former chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said she is definitely concerned that diversity may be impacted by the incentive auctions if they encourage broadcasters now serving minority communities to give up their spectrum," John Eggerton reported Friday for Broadcasting & Cable. Clyburn appeared on C-SPAN's "The Communicators" [video] with Wall Street Journal reporter Gautham Nagesh. Incentive auctions are a means to provide more space to accommodate broadband. The FCC says "Incentive auctions are a voluntary, market-based means of repurposing spectrum by encouraging licensees to voluntarily relinquish spectrum usage rights in exchange for a share of the proceeds from an auction of new licenses to use the repurposed spectrum. . . ." Meanwhile, Brendan Sasso of the National Journal wrote Thursday of "The Behind-the-Scenes Battle for the Future of the Internet."
- Lester Holt, weekend anchor for "NBC Nightly News" and co-anchor of the weekend edition of "Today," has been chosen for the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award, the Radio Television Digital News Foundation announced on Monday. RTDNF plans to hold its 2014 First Amendment Awards Dinner on March 12 in Washington.
- "A protest is scheduled February 15 before the live taping of Saturday Night Live in New York City in response to this past weekend’s yellowface episode," Randall Yip reported Thursday for his asamnews.com site."A group calling itself Yellow Peril Faction along with Not Your Asian Sidekick are joining together to organize the demonstration. The groups are demanding that Saturday Night Live apologize for 39 years of yellowface on the program and promise never to do it again. They also want race and cultural sensitivity training for all staff that works on the show. . . ." (Update: Protest has been postpone due to Olympics coverage pre-empting "SNL.")
- "Essence is known for honoring black women, but during Oscar week, they'll also be lauding the accomplishments of African-American men in film," Jessica Herndon reported Monday for the Associated Press. "The magazine is launching its first 'Black Men in Hollywood' dinner, an intimate affair that will salute the work of Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, Malcolm Lee and filmmaker Tyler Perry, who will host the event. . . ."
- "The Gramblinite, the student newspaper serving the campus community of Grambling University in Louisiana, was hailed the 'Best Newspaper' for 2013 among Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States," the Black College Communication Association announced Saturday from Prairie View, Texas, home of Prairie View A&M University. "The Campus Echo of North Carolina Central University won the largest number of awards — 11 — capturing Excellence honors in a range of categories from 'Best Overall Sports Coverage' to 'Best Individual Page Design.' . . . "
- "Florida A&M University’s award-winning student newspaper, The Famuan, is now a digital-only publication," Doug Blackburn reported Feb. 5 for the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat. "It is believed to be one of the first college-student newspapers in the country to abandon its print product in favor of a continuously updated website. . . ."
- "We are excited to announce that Nia-Malika Henderson has moved to a new role as senior writer for She The People, where she will strengthen our coverage of women in the midterms," Washington Post editors told staff members on Thursday. "Nia just finished a run as host of On Background, a daily show on Post TV in which her interview subjects ranged from the Cookie Monster to California Attorney General Kamala Harris to astronauts on the International Space Station. Nia, who joined The Post in 2010, covered . . . many of the candidates in the Republican primary during the last presidential election. . . ."
- '"Two members of Congress have written a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging Goodell and the league 'to take a formal position in support of a name change' by the Washington Redskins," Mark Maske, Paul Kane and Theresa Vargas wrote Sunday for the Washington Post. "The letter by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) is to be sent Monday to Goodell. . . ."
- Referring to Cambodia, Reporters Without Borders said Thursday it was "appalled to learn that local newspaper reporter Suon Chan was beaten to death by fishermen outside his home in Peam Chhkork commune, in the central province of Kampong Chhnang, on 1 February, and that his coverage of illegal fishing may have been the reason. 'Like the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media (CCIM) and the United Nations, we urge the authorities to shed light on this act of savagery, to not rule a possible link to the victim’s work, and to bring those responsible to justice as soon as possible,' said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. . . ."
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