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20th Essence Festival Draws Record 550,000

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Event Boosts Magazine, Raises Millions for New Orleans

Reporter's Lament: "Only the White Guys Get Back to Me"

NPR Stations in a Quandary About Replacing "Tell Me More"

Border-Town Paper Pessimistic on Immigration Solution

Writer: Media Deceived by Muffling of Protests in Brazil

N.Y. Monthly's Headline Refers to Obama With N-Word

Blacks Who Achieve Are Ignored, Says Pulitzer Winner

President Admits Journalist Jailings Hurt Egypt's Reputation

Short Takes

Prince at the Essence Festival Friday night: "As the first licks of 'Let's Go Cr

Event Boosts Magazine, Raises Millions for New Orleans

"The 20th annual ESSENCE Festival attracted a record-breaking 550,000 attendees from around the world to New Orleans this Fourth of July weekend, earning the distinction of being the largest gathering in the event's history," Essence Communications announced on Monday.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Friday that the festival "may be the most important event the people of this city are involved in," Maya Rhodan reported for Time magazine.

"What started off as a small music festival," Landrieu told Time, "has now turned into a huge economic engine for this city over a weekend that otherwise wouldn't have filled up the city."

Last year, the event brought more than a half-million people to the city, generating about $200 million, and organizers said the turnout this year exceeded that.

Though Essence won't disclose a figure, the event is a significant contributor to Essence Communications' bottom line. More publications are turning to events to boost their financial fortunes and, some say, to add luster to their journalistic product.

Essence Communications president Michelle Ebanks told Keith Spera of and the New Orleans Times-Picayune last month that the festival's link to the magazine "is absolutely everything. The Essence brand, and what it stands for, is the triumph of everyday women, women from assistants to CEOs. Essence magazine has chronicled and represented those triumphs and achievements for 44 years. Artists, community leaders, celebrities, authors, elected officials — they recognize that heritage. They want to be a part of this brand."

Essence executives, including editor-in-chief Vanessa K. Bush, are involved in the festival planning. They "consider how acts might complement one another and make for logical progressions on the main stage. They inquire about who might be interested, available and affordable, and extend invitations," Spera wrote.

The Essence announcement also said, "Touted as one of the country's biggest live events, the ESSENCE Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary July 3-6 with 20 stages of programming. The annual 4-day event features entertainment, empowerment, and cultural experiences during the day and the world's best performers each night. More than 80 performing artists — including some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry such as Prince, Mary J. Blige, and Lionel Richie — performed at the event's nighttime concerts and over 150 speakers — including Robin Roberts, Alicia Keys, Steve Harvey and Rev. Al Sharpton — participated as part of the Festival's daytime experience. . . ."

Chevel Johnson of the Associated Press reported Sunday on the headliner's appearance Friday night:

"Uttering his signature, 'We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life,' Prince opened his set for the 20th celebration of the Essence Festival and showed thousands Friday why a 10-year wait isn't a bad thing.

"As the first licks of 'Let's Go Crazy,' rang throughout the Superdome, thousands in the audience — already on their feet in anticipation — stayed there until the final rifts of 'Purple Rain' left the air.

"It was the second time the crowd got a taste of 'Let's Go Crazy.' Earlier, he made a surprise cameo appearance during Janelle Monae's rendition of the song.

"Prince closed the festival's main stage with a litany of his hits, including 'Kiss,' 'Raspberry Beret,' 'When Doves Cry,' 'Controversy,' '1999,' and a slowed-down version of 'Little Red Corvette' and 'Nothing Compares to You.'

"Ten years ago, Prince headlined that anniversary, reuniting with some of the players in his musical past — Morris Day and The Time, guitarist Wendy Melvoin and former protege Sheila E. The high-energy show ended with an emotional performance of Prince's megahit 'Purple Rain.'

"In 2014, he again ended his show with 'Purple Rain,' to the delight of the crowd. . . ."

Reporter's Lament: "Only the White Guys Get Back to Me"

Anya Kamenetz

NPR's recently hired education blogger received more of a response than she bargained for when she tweeted Wednesday, "I reach out to diverse sources on deadline. Only the white guys get back to me :( ."

Anya Kamenetz, the education team lead blogger, sent the tweet on an NPR Twitter account and received a flurry of responses that only grew larger on Monday when followers returned from the holiday weekend. Kamenetz said she was not joking. "That was not the best wording. But I'm trying to get at a serious issue," she said in a second tweet. Then she wrote, "If you'd like to continue the discussion I'm at @anya1anya."

Responses ranged from "My 1 cent: Must establish contacts/resources ahead of time, not on deadline" to questions about whether the question was bigoted. "This tweet is such a social media case study," one respondent said.

Journal-isms asked Kamenetz on Monday what she made of the reaction. She said she would have to secure permission to respond from the NPR media relations people. Margaret Low Smith, NPR senior vice president for news, responded in her stead. Smith explained that Kamenetz knew that the best journalism comes from diverse voices and that that point was made "absolutely clear" to Kamenetz when she was hired. But the reporter's way of getting those voices was "clumsy," and Kamenetz was coached further on the use of Twitter accounts, Smith said.

However, "she's added to her Rolodex" and has been calling people, Smith said.

Tracie Powell was among those supplying Kamenetz with tips for finding diverse sources, via Powell's site.

Powell also explained, "Kamenetz joined NPR earlier this year. She is the author of several books about the future of education including 'Generation Debt' published in 2006 and 'DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education' published in 2010. She has another book, 'The Test,' due out next year about the future of testing in American schools. Prior to joining NPR, Kamenetz covered technology, innovation and social entrepreneurship for Fast Company magazine and contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Slate, and O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine. . . ."

NPR Stations in a Quandary About Replacing "Tell Me More"

"The cancellation of NPR's Tell Me More is leaving pubradio program directors struggling to fill the gap left by the show, which presented diverse viewpoints that some programmers say will be difficult to replace," Ben Mook reported Monday for

"Program directors still have a month to come up with an hourlong replacement. Tell Me More goes off the air Aug. 1, a victim of budget cuts at NPR and its limited reach through carriage on 136 NPR stations. Its core constituency within NPR's membership consists of stations licensed to historically black colleges and universities and other stations seeking to reach minority listeners. . . .

Mook also wrote, "At Triple A station WUKY in Lexington, Ky., music will replace Tell Me More. 'We are very disappointed the show is going away,' said Tom Godell, g.m. 'There really is no replacement for it.'

"The station has been working to meet diversity goals among its staff and programming, and losing Tell Me More will have a big impact on how it can achieve them going forward, Godell said. 'Tell Me More was tied very closely to our goals of increased diversity,' he said. 'So replacing it is going to be difficult.' "

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal  Services (RAICES), a n

Border-Town Paper Pessimistic on Immigration Solution

"Probably the only thing that was obvious after three and a half hours of testimony during a congressional field hearing held in McAllen last week by the Homeland Security Committee, on the surge of unaccompanied minors to our region, is that this is a complex, multi-faceted problem with no easy solutions," the Monitor, the daily newspaper in the border town of McAllen, Texas, editorialized on Sunday.

"The barrage of questions on Thursday by the 12 committee members — many from Texas — laid proof of their differing concerns, tolerance, confusion, misconceptions and even misinformation as to what is truly going on here on our border . . . ."

The newspaper urged immigration reform, but it was not optimistic that the politicians in Washington could accomplish it.

"Because of our inability to enact new laws aimed at solving our immigration problem, we must now confront the question of what kind of message we send the world about our compassion," the editorial said.

"Partisan politics, election-year headlines and a lack of political courage over the years have left us unprepared to deal with this crisis at this important juncture in our nation’s history.

"We were filled with enormous, albeit naïve, hope that, with nearly two dozen distinguished members of Congress coming to our backyard to try to understand the current situation, that some modicum of a solution might take shape.

"Instead, we witnessed the same rhetorical flurries and finger-pointing that got us here in the first place. . . ."

Meanwhile, commentators offered their own solutions.

Writer: Media Deceived by Muffling of Protests in Brazil

Tim Howard"FIFA boss Sepp Blatter was strutting like a rooster over the weekend about the absence of mass protests during Brazil's World Cup," Dave Zirin wrote Monday for the Nation.

" 'Where is all this social unrest?' he asked in mocking snark that, along with bribery and corruption, has become his trademark. Then Blatter waxed rhapsodic about how 'football is more than a religion' in Brazil, as if that explains the absence of millions of people marching on his 'FIFA quality stadiums'. Similar, sentiments were expressed by Brazil’s Deputy Minister of Sports Luis Fernandes, who said that 'during the World Cup, the passion for football has taken over.'

"This position has been echoed continuously in the US media. The Washington Post has carried headlines that have read, 'In Brazil, smiles, parties have replaced protests' and 'A nation's haves, have nots unite for a common cause.' No need to pick on the Post, as this has been 'the line' in multiple media outlets over the last several weeks.

"As is often the case with the mainstream media, they have started with an indisputable truth and then have chosen to draw conclusions that match their own embedded perspective: a perspective shaped by Sepp Blatter, his broadcast partners and a blinkered reality of hotels and black SUVs.

"It is certainly true that the million-person protests have not taken place during the World Cup, as they did during the 2013 Confederation's Cup. But the conclusion that now everything is awesome and 'parties have replaced protests' is simply not true. I recently returned from Brazil and saw a different reality. The fact is that there are protests, strikes and battles with police happening every day. In the favelas, there are demonstrations against the police occupations that are happening because of the Cup. (Here is a terrific photo essay by Andalusia Knoll that shows images from all the World Cup protests that are not happening.)

"If the protests are far smaller than the ones a year ago, it is because the streets are militarized down to the last inch, ruled by a military police force who are tear-gassing any group of people who attempt to gather and raise political demands. . . ."

Meanwhile, William Douglas, who writes about hockey players of color in his "The Color of Hockey" blog, asked Journal-isms, "Why isn't Tim Howard getting attention in African-American media after his World Cup performance? He became the face of the U.S. Soccer team after standing on his head against Belgium, he's a social media celebrity after that. It's not like black folks don't like soccer. South Africa hosted the last World Cup and teams from Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana competed in this year's competition.

"And Howard's an interesting story, a biracial man from New Jersey who's climbed to the top of the soccer world while living with Tourette's Syndrome. Hopefully African-American media will follow-up on Howard and his new-found celebrity."

N.Y. Monthly's Headline Refers to Obama With N-Word

"A local paper is making national headlines thanks to a questionable word choice in one of its own news headlines," Eric Pfeiffer wrote Monday for Yahoo News.

"The [WestView] News, a monthly paper in New York's West Village with a circulation of around 20,000, ran an op-ed from author James Lincoln Collier titled 'N----r in the White House.'

"If the headline wasn't strange and shocking enough, the New York Post reports that the op-ed is actually a pro-Obama piece, in which Collier argues that, 'far right voters hate Obama because he is black.'

"The Post included a photo of the article headline in its piece with the offending language blurred out.

"The [WestView] News ran an opposing view column below Collier’s piece by African American columnist Alvin Hall titled, 'This headline offends me.' . . ."

Meanwhile, "Shock jock Anthony Cumia, after two decades and three firings, is going off the airwaves for good, a source indicated to the Daily News," Don Kaplan and Larry Mcshane reported Saturday for the Daily News in New York.

"Cumia — canned Friday by Sirius XM Satellite Radio for a series of racially charged tweets — instead plans a live podcast-style broadcast from his Long Island home studio, the source said.

Kaplan and McShane also wrote, "The $3 million-a-year co-host launched his Twitter offensive early Wednesday after asserting he was punched in the face by a black woman in Times Square.

"Cumia ripped the woman as a 'c--t' and a 'savage' and expressed his desire for someone to shoot her.

" 'It's really open season on white people in this day and age,' Cumia wrote. 'No recourse. Fight back and you’re a racist.' . . ."

Blacks Who Achieve Are Ignored, Says Pulitzer Winner

Colbert I. KingWords like these are easy enough to find, but not often from Pulitzer Prize winners who have been deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post.

Colbert I. King, writing about black achievers who graduated from Washington's storied Dunbar High School, wrote on July 4, "The media often attributes black progress to the efforts of a benevolent federal government and compassionate white folk.

"There’s a reason, however, that you don’t know more about the contribution of the black middle class — a reason that is historical and unpleasant.

"It stems from an Old South attitude, described by sociologist Gunnar Myrdal in his landmark study 'An American Dilemma,' in which whites favored the trusted and lowly 'darky' and suspected and disliked the educated, socially rising 'Negro' over whom they were losing control. Today, beneath the media's veneer of respect and admiration, African Americans who symbolize achievement are generally ignored — that is, unless they screw up. Then they become front-page fodder. But there is no shortage of stories that conjure up and reinforce images of conniving, craven, untrustworthy and thoroughly amusing figures who, once upon a time, could be dismissed as darkies. . . . "

President Admits Journalist Jailings Hurt Egypt's Reputation

"Egypt's president has acknowledged for the first time that the heavy sentences handed down to three al-Jazeera journalists had a 'very negative' impact on his country's reputation, saying he wished they had never been put on trial," the Associated Press reported on Sunday.

"The comments by Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to Egyptian media editors, published late on Sunday, are the first public recognition by Egyptian officials that the case has damaged the country's international relations.

"The sentencing of the Australian reporter Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian acting bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed on 23 June, after a five-month trial described as a 'sham' by rights groups, caused an international outcry.

" 'The verdict issued against a number of journalists had very negative consequences, and we had nothing to do with it,' Sisi said, suggesting it had no political element. 'I wished they were deported immediately after their arrest instead of being put on trial.'

"His comments were published in the online version of Al-Masry Al-Youm daily. . . ."

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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WORLD CUP "sans Protests??"

Glad some people like Dave Zirin and others try to put that "No Protests at World Cup" party-line to shame. Wish that more journalists had the smarts/guts? to shine that very needed light.

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