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Two Resignations at NAHJ

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Executive Director, Board Member Espinoza to Depart

Media Cite Marable Book in Naming Alleged Malcolm X Killer

M.L.K III, Andrew Young Announce New Black TV Network

Rumors Swirl About a Katie Couric Departure From CBS

Sexual Aggression in Libya "Incredibly Intense and Violent"

Under Oath, Killer Describes Shooting Chauncey Bailey

Almena Lomax, 95, Ran Feisty Weekly in '40s, '50s L.A.

Short Takes

The board of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, meeting over the weekend in New York, passed an austerity budget and learned of two resignations. (Credit: Rebecca Aguilar)

Executive Director, Board Member Espinoza to Depart

Members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists learned of a double dose of resignations Monday: Long-serving executive director Iván Román and a board member who criticized the "lack of leadership, vision and team effort by some in our board." But the board of the financially challenged association also passed an austerity budget and took other steps that left some optimistic.

Román, executive director since 2003, has held the position longer than any others among those currently with the journalist of color associations. He is leaving NAHJ "sometime over the summer," NAHJ President Michele Salcedo told members in a message on Monday.

She also said that Patricio Espinoza, San Antonio-based online at-large officer who was critical of the board leadership, offered his resignation and that Fernando Diaz, managing editor of Hoy (Chicago) and an NAHJ regional director, would fill the remainder of Espinoza’s unexpired term.

Salcedo gave no reason for the departure of the independent all-platforms digital journalist. But Espinoza posted a letter explaining his resignation, dated Saturday, on his Facebook page.

"I was elected to help implement important changes in the way NAHJ uses technology and social media tools. The changes were meant to keep the membership better informed, better served and to provide NAHJ with fiscally prudent options," he said.

"I will be forever honored for the support I received from you with your votes. They were an endorsement of the plans I had, and the change you called for to help make our organization better. Unfortunately my ability to reach those goals fully and efficiently has been hampered by the lack of leadership, vision and team effort by some in our board."

Salcedo said Román announced his resignation at a weekend board meeting in New York, where the board also cut expenses 15 percent as it grapples with a deficit that was projected in December to be $240,000.

It also cut staff and included funds beyond June 30 only for an executive director "and a part-time contractor to match members with jobs." The part-time staffer is to be current staffer Kevin Olivas.

Board member Jessica Durkin told her constituents that this summer NAHJ will vacate its longtime headquarters at the National Press Club building in Washington and is searching the nation for alternative space.

Salcedo wrote, "The decision to cut staff was very difficult for every member of the board. We recognize the staff’s loyalty and dedication though tight times and furloughs, and we wish there were other solutions. To ensure a revenue surplus at the end of the year, the board has instituted targets and deadlines within a year to increase membership, pursue individual donations and diversify funding sources," Salcedo said.

Espinoza, who was not at the meeting, took credit in another Facebook posting:

"Today, as you may know, NAHJ has announced that 'the board unanimously passed an austerity budget.' Well it's about time!! What they failed to remind us is how we have been asking for these changes for over a year now, and that it took an online revolution, press reports, and an open letter from this NAHJ board member at the time to bring us here. Pero aquí estamos y no nos vamos!" ("But we're here, and we aren't going away!")

Durkin, mid-Atlantic regional director, told Journal-isms Monday that she was pleased with the results of the meeting.

"The NAHJ board last weekend showed an unprecedented unification during my two years as Region 3 director. Issues we have been juggling — and yes, disputing — were resolved through a confluence of timing, respect and dedication to a vision," Durkin said. "This board confronted tough decisions and has taken major action, but it is toward a stronger foundation for NAHJ."

Rebecca Aguilar, general at-large officer, praised Espinoza, like her a top vote getter in the most recent election,  as "a strong leader. I was very disappointed that he resigned because I know he has a big following and members believe in him, and though he was not present to vote on the changes we recently made, I credit him for bringing attention to some of the weaknesses the organization had to strengthen. I left the board meeting feeling positive" that the organization had taken the right moves "to make it grow."

Román became executive director in 2003 when he was San Juan bureau chief for the Orlando Sentinel.

"A professional journalist for two decades, Román has also worked as a reporter at the Rochester Times-Union, the San Juan Star, El Nuevo Herald, and the Miami Herald," an announcement said at the time.

"From 1995 to 1998, Román was executive director of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University. A member of NAHJ since 1986, he has been elected to five different terms on its board of directors, and has been responsible for organizing the track of all-day professional development workshops at several of NAHJ's annual conventions."

Rafael Olmeda, a past NAHJ president, said "I know of no one who has poured more of his heart and soul into NAHJ than Iván Román. . . . Most folks think that the board does what the executive director actually does. The board has ideas but the executive director and the staff do the work. I know that they love him," he said, speaking of the staff.

William Bradley was seen in a campaign commercial for Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

Media Cite Marable Book in Naming Alleged Malcolm X Killer

The mainstream media long resisted identifying the man believed to have pulled the trigger in the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, but found its opportunity with Monday's publication of the late scholar Manning Marable's new biography, "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention."

"For 45 years, the chief assassin of Malcolm X has been hiding in plain sight in Newark, according to a major new biography of the African-American leader set for release tomorrow," the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., reported on Sunday.

"Al-Mustafa Shabazz is a 72-year-old, white-haired Muslim who briefly appeared in a 2010 re-election video ad for Mayor Cory Booker and is married to a community leader who owns a boxing gym in Newark.

". . . In his book, Marable claims to have evidence that Shabazz was once known as William Bradley, who many people over the years have placed at the Malcolm X shooting. Marable writes that he confirmed that the two men are one and the same through multiple sources inside the black Muslim community.

"William Bradley was accused of being one of the killers more than 30 years ago in a sworn affidavit by Talmadge Hayer, one of the three men convicted of Malcolm X’s assassination. In his book Marable also credits Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a historian who writes for the Association of African American Life and History, with linking Bradley’s name to that of Shabazz."

As Journal-isms reported then, Muhammad identified Shabazz a year ago. But Muhammad told Journal-isms on Monday that the Star-Ledger would not touch the story then.

"They told me that they could never get it past their lawyers. That could have simply been the brush out line," he said.

With the book due for publication Monday, "They called me desperately Sat. and wrote the piece in one day," he said via email.

Star-Ledger Editor Kevin Whitmer was out of town Monday and could not be reached for comment.

[He replied by email on April 13: "We were on this story but unfortunately, the reporter who was legging it out was also on two other projects before
leaving on a buyout."]

The New York Daily News and the Washington Post also used Marable's book as reason to publish the allegation about Shabazz, one that had previously been raised in 1992 in what has been called the definitive account of Malcolm's assassination, "Conspiracys: Unravelling the Assassination of Malcolm X" by Zak A. Kondo. "Conspiracys" implicated government agencies and the Nation of Islam in the killing. Kondo, who teaches at Baltimore City Community College, also issued a DVD on the killing.

Daily News spokeswoman Jennifer Mauer did not respond to a request for comment on the timing of the News story.

At the Washington Post, Kevin Merida, national editor, told Journal-isms, "We did pursue this line of reporting earlier, and in fact had been working on versions of this story off and on — in collaboration with The Root — for quite some time. The timing of the Marable biography gave us a fresh peg, and we enlisted Krissah Thompson late last week to work on the piece we published Monday. I thought she did a terrific job."

Thompson wrote, "Marable goes further than any other mainstream scholar in pointing to specific individuals who he alleges plotted to kill the minister. . . . Marable alleges that one of the killers is 72-year-old Al-Mustafa Shabazz, a Newark resident once known as William Bradley.

"His wife, Carolyn Kelley Sha­bazz, answered the phone Sunday but referred questions to an attorney.

" 'It’s unfair to try someone in public based upon an allegation,' said J. Edward Waller, the Shabazzes’ attorney. 'He was not directly or indirectly involved with the assassination of Malcolm X.'

"Waller said Al-Mustafa Shabazz, who has not read the book, is reviewing his legal options."

The Star-Ledger quoted Carolyn Kelley Shabazz as saying, "As God, Allah, is my witness, there’s no way my husband could have had a negative thought in his head about Malcolm X. My husband is no more guilty about what happened with Malcolm than you or I."

[Kondo told Journal-isms on Tuesday that he and others had discussed with Marable the idea of bringing Bradley to justice. Identifying Bradley publicly is "a good first step, the real challenge is how do we accord him justice for what he did to Malcolm?" he said. As a model, Kondo said, he and others had looked at the example of Byron De La Beckwith, who was convicted in 1994 in the killing of civil rights leader Medgar Evers three decades earlier.

["We have to get a D.A. who will be open to it, and b, we have to get some new evidence," Kondo said.]

Marable's long-awaited biography, published just three days after its author died at 60 of sarcoidosis, a disease that can affect the lungs and other parts of the body, reaped a wealth of news reports on Monday.

"There is no book tour planned anymore of course although some venues that had events with Manning planned are now doing tribute events," the book's publicist, Holly Watson of Viking Penguin publishers, told Journal-isms by email.

"Eso Won books here in LA is doing an all day event today, planned before his death, just to celebrate the book. The Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore and Marcus Books in Oakland are also tentatively planning tribute events.

"There has been a huge amount of media attention and more to come. The book’s editor Wendy Wolf has been doing some interviews coordinated by us and Zaheer Ali, one of the lead researchers of the book, has been doing other interviews — some coordinated by us and others directly with him. I’ve seen Michael Eric Dyson has done a number of interviews as well but we did not set those up."

M.L.K. III, Andrew Young Announce New Black TV Network

Bounce TV is scheduled to launch in the the fall."Martin Luther King III, son of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young have joined forces to launch a broadcast TV network aimed at African-American viewers," Kimberly Nordyke reported Monday for the Hollywood Reporter.

"Bounce TV, which is being billed as 'the nation's first-ever over-the-air broadcast television network designed exclusively for African-American audiences,' will target viewers ages 25-54 with a lineup that includes theatrical motion pictures, live sporting events, documentaries, specials, inspirational faith-based programs, off-net series and original programming.

"In addition to King and Young, who also has served as a U.N. ambassador, the network's founders include Andrew 'Bo' Young III."

". . . Bounce, launching in the fall, will air 24/7 as an ad-supported digital terrestrial network designed for carriage on the digital signals of local television stations.

"To get started, the network has acquired nearly 400 movies geared toward its target audience in separate multiyear licensing deals with NBCUniversal (for titles including Ray, The Bone Collector, Do the Right Thing and The Nutty Professor) and Sony Pictures TV (Philadelphia, Boys 'n the Hood, Glory and I Spy, among others). Bounce also has inked licensing deals with Codeblack Entertainment and Image Entertainment for additional titles.

"In addition, the network has inked multiyear deals with the Urban Sports Entertainment Group for rights to air football and basketball games and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Assn. for football and basketball games."

Meanwhile, "Comcast Corp. will begin the process of adding 10 new independent, minority-owned and operated channels by soliciting proposals from Hispanic and African-American networks," R. Thomas Umstead reported for Multichannel News.

"As part of its merger agreement with NBC Universal, Comcast pledged it would launch 10 new independent channels over the next eight years, including eight that are Hispanic- and African-American owned or operated. Comcast officials are now accepting proposals for the first three. The first, a channel that is "American Latino operated and programmed in English" — will launch by July 28, 2012.

"The other two will be majority African-American-owned and will launch by January 28, 2013. A suite of six 24-hour HD cable networks owned by African-American comedian Byron Allen and HBCU Net — a 24-hour network featuring content from Historically Black College and Universities headed by former BET executive Curtis Symonds — are among the networks that could vie for those slots."

Rumors Swirl About a Katie Couric Departure From CBS

Russ Mitchell"As reports continue to swirl about an impending departure from her anchor position at CBS News, Katie Couric is to embark Tuesday morning on a long-planned trip to Iraq, where she will report on the military and political situation eight years after Baghdad fell to invading American forces," Bill Carter reported Monday for the New York Times.

"The trip, which CBS is expected to announce Tuesday, comes even as CBS and representatives of Ms. Couric repeat their recent denials of an imminent resolution of her current status at the network. Her contract with CBS ends June 4.

"CBS would not confirm Ms. Couric’s plans for this week. But speculation about her future continues to center on an end to her role as the anchor of 'The CBS Evening News' and a new career as host of a syndicated daytime talk show.

"Several executives who have been involved in the negotiations about Ms. Couric’s future said Monday that no deal was in place yet for Ms. Couric’s exit, nor even a determination of her next television destination. Both CBS and NBC — among others — have offers out to Ms. Couric to syndicate a talk show with her as the star."

In the New York Daily News, Russ Mitchell made David Hinckley's list of five who are thought to be potential leading candidates to replace Couric.

Mitchell, 50, is anchor of the "CBS Weekend News" and co-anchor of the Saturday morning "Early Show." Mitchell was Couric's primary fill-in before he took the weekend job, and has steadily worked his way up at CBS over the years, Hinckley said.

His other potential candidates were Scott Pelley, Harry Smith, John Roberts and Bob Schieffer.

No black journalist has held the permanent weekday anchor slot on any of the three major broadcast networks since Max Robinson was one of three co-anchors at ABC in the 1970s.

Lynsey Addario said at Columbia University that her ordeal was no worse than those of her male colleagues'. (Credit: Rebecca Castillo)

Sexual Aggression in Libya "Incredibly Intense and Violent"

"New York Times photographer Lynsey Addario is speaking publicly about sexual aggression she experienced while detained in Libya last month by forces loyal to [Moammar Gaddafi]," Lauren Wolfe wrote Monday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Addario was held for six days with Times colleagues Anthony Shadid, Stephen Farrell, and Tyler Hicks, all of whom were subjected to physical abuse.

"In this interview with CPJ, Addario speaks candidly about the brutality, focusing particularly on the groping and other sexual aggression she endured. Farrell, her colleague, also spoke briefly with CPJ. All forms of anti-press violence are abhorrent, but the issue of sexual aggression has not been as widely documented or discussed as other types of attacks. Since CBS News disclosed in February that correspondent Lara Logan was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted while on assignment in Cairo, more journalists are starting to speak out in hopes the issue can be more fully understood. Here is Addario's story:

"Lauren Wolfe: What did they do to you physically?

"Lynsey Addario: Physically we were blindfolded and bound. In the beginning, my hands and feet were bound very tightly behind our backs and my feet were tied with shoelaces. I was blindfolded most of the first three days, with the exception of the first six hours. I was punched in the face a few times and groped repeatedly. Basically, every man that sort of took us over and was bringing us all to the next — wherever they were taking us — they just basically touched me over my clothes.

"It was incredibly intense and violent. It was abusive throughout, both psychologically and physically. It was very chaotic and very aggressive. For me, there was a lot of groping right away. Sort of everyone who had to pick me up and carry me somewhere, they would reach around and grab my breasts and touch my butt — everyone who came near me. There were inevitably hands on my body. I mean I — in my experience working in the Muslim world — I don't scream and kick and try to be very aggressive back. I usually just plead, because I find the weaker I show myself to be the more sympathy I get. For example, whenever I started crying, they would usually back off. Like, 'Please don't, I have a husband, please don't.' . . ."

Under Oath, Killer Describes Shooting Chauncey Bailey

"As testimony resumed in the Chauncey Bailey murder trial Monday, the journalist’s confessed killer spoke in graphic detail about how he shot Bailey more than three years ago," Thomas Peele reported for the Chauncey Bailey Project.

"Devaughndre Broussard said that, as Bailey lay dying on a downtown Oakland street from two gunshot wounds to the body, he stood over the journalist and fired a third time.

"Where did you aim, Prosecutor Melissa Krum asked.

" 'At his face,' Broussard replied.

"Broussard testified he was under orders from Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV to 'make sure he dead.'

"The testimony was painful for Bailey’s family.

"Bailey’s brother, Errol Cooley, said Broussard described the killing 'like he was shooting at a dog. It was devastating. It was very hard because he’s sitting up there describing what happened."

Almena Lomax, shown working at home in 1985, founded the Los Angeles Tribune in 1941 and was its editor for two decades. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

Almena Lomax, 95, Ran Feisty Weekly in '40s, '50s L.A.

"Almena Lomax, a journalist and civil rights activist who launched the Los Angeles Tribune, a feisty weekly newspaper that served the African American community in the 1940s and '50s, died March 25 in Pasadena. She was 95," Elaine Woo wrote Friday in the Los Angeles Times.

"Her death came after a short illness, said her son, Michael, president and chief executive of United Negro College Fund.

"Lomax, whose daughter, Melanie, was a prominent attorney and former president of the Los Angeles city Police Commission, was a leading figure in African American journalism, known for her sharp opinions and independent spirit. She founded the Tribune in 1941 and was its editor and chief writer for two decades, achieving a circulation of 25,000 with a lively mix of news, commentary and reviews.

"The paper often bore the traces of what poet-playwright Langston Hughes, an avid Tribune reader, described as 'impish' humor. One of his favorite examples of the playful tone set by Lomax was a Mother's Day headline that read, 'The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Has Got the World All Loused Up.'

"But Lomax also had a reputation as a hard-hitting journalist willing to stir controversy with stories on such topics as racial discrimination in Hollywood and police mistreatment of blacks."

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 BugMeNot.com 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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