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4 Journalists of Color Win Niemans

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Home of Historic Black Journalist in Danger

Laid-Off Inquirer Reporter Among Those Selected

Four U.S. journalists of color — James Causey, Walter Watson, Olivera Perkins and Gaiutra Bahadur — have been chosen for the next fellowship class announced on Wednesday by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University.



Bahadur, a freelance journalist who was among those laid off in January at the Philadelphia Inquirer, will study the consequences of globalization for developing countries, particularly as it relates to migration and poverty levels, according to the announcement. She was born in Guyana and is of Asian Indian descent.

"I was very surprised myself that I made it," Bahadur told Journal-isms. "As one colleague put it to me, 'you need a job to get that fellowship!' But I had strong recommendations," she said, "from Sam Freedman at Columbia, Bruce Shapiro of the Dart Center (who taught me investigative journalism when I was a senior at Yale)," former Inquirer editor "Amanda Bennett (almost like getting backing from the Inky) and Linda Hasert, my direct editor at the Inquirer. I have to say Marimow, a former Nieman fellow, was gracious enough to offer advice on the interview once I made it to the finalist stage," she said in a reference to current Inquirer Editor Bill Marimow.

"I was ecstatic, really. It's the kind of thing that gives you hope for the future."

Callie Crossley, program manager for the Nieman Foundation and a former Nieman fellow, said it used to be the case that freelancers could not apply for Nieman fellowships, but several have been selected in recent years.

Causey, night city editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, plans to study "the marketing/advertising strategies of the hip-hop industry and examine their impact on America's central cities and cities throughout the world."

Perkins, staff reporter at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, plans to examine "the racial implications of urban sprawl, how policy decisions affect racially-segregated housing patterns and what role those decisions play in high urban foreclosure rates."

Watson, senior supervising producer at National Public Radio in Washington, proposed to study how the new media will affect communities that lack access to the changing way news and information are delivered.

"Among the African Americans, we could identify six applicants" for the 15 slots for U.S. fellows, Bob Giles, curator of the Nieman program, told Journal-isms. "Five were invited for interviews as finalists and three were selected. We could identify three Hispanic applicants, which was down from last year and disappointing because we had three excellent Hispanic role models in the current class. From the information in the applicant files, it is not always possible make a racial or ethnic identification, so there may have been others in the applicant pool that we did not recognize. We continue to look for ways to encourage journalists of color to apply."

Three years ago, the Nieman program announced a class with no African Americans. Giles said then, "the lack of strong U.S. African American candidates is a continuing disappointment to us."

By last year, the Niemans had five journalists of color, likely its most diverse class ever.

As reported on May 1, the journalism fellowship programs at Stanford University and the University of Michigan announced that five U.S. journalists of color would be among their 2007-08 classes, two among Michigan's 13 and three of Stanford's 12 U.S. fellows. Recruitment efforts yielded an increase in applicants of color, spokesmen said. Crossley, who is also a commentator for "Beat the Press" on WBGH-TV in Boston and for National Public Radio, said the three fellowship programs would be "hosting joint panels at all of the minority journalism conferences this summer in an effort to get the word out to potential applicants who are journalists of color."

Of the journalism fellowship programs, which are designed to give mid-career journalists a break, the Nieman, with its Harvard connection, is considered to have the most "juice."

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"Students There Simply Did Not Give a Damn"

For the past two Sundays, Bill Maxwell of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times has been chronicling his disillusionment with his experience trying to teach journalism at Stillman College, a small, historically black institution in Alabama.

"I resigned from my job as a St. Petersburg Times columnist and editorial writer that paid more than $70,000 a year to teach at Stillman for $33,000 a year," he wrote in the second piece.

"I wanted to fulfill a long-ago promise I made with the professors who taught and nurtured me during the 1960s at two historically black colleges, Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, and Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach.

"When I began my first day at Stillman, I was channeling my experiences of long ago. I would be a professor who would inspire and guide the lives of young black women and men who wanted to become successful journalists.



"As it turned out, I would last just two years before returning to the Times. I left the campus disheartened and disillusioned, and I regretted leaving behind a handful of dedicated students with real potential. Another graduating class has just left Stillman through the same gates I first entered in 2004, but I no longer feel welcome on campus."

He distilled his feelings this way in an e-mail to Journal-isms: "My concern is a case of being in an environment that did not have a culture of journalism like, say, the University of Florida (where I studied journalism), University of Georgia, UNC-Chapel Hill, FAMU, Howard, Columbia, Northwestern.

"I was trying to get that culture started. Not a single student [who] came to my intro to reporting class knew how to write a single element lead. Starting from scratch was tough, but I was prepared to do my best. But I didn't have motivated students. I had a few successes, but a few does nothing for me. I need a critical mass of kids doing well to feel personally successful and useful. Oh, I'm being denounced as every kind of Tom and sell-out n----- in the world by blacks who don't do s--- except complain. My views on journalism have not changed because of Stillman. The students there simply did not give a damn."

Journal-isms shared Maxwell's pieces with members of the Black College Communication Association, an organization of faculty members who advise student newspapers at historically black colleges and universities.

Two responded — both are journalists who, like Maxwell, have worked in the mainstream media.

"Maxwell obviously came to Stillman with good intentions just as I did, but perhaps with preconceived notions and a somewhat closed mind," Yanick Rice Lamb, who teaches at Howard University, said. "His series is troubling for a number of reasons. For one, he doesn't always back up his generalizations and paints all HBCUs —and young adults — with a broad stroke. Some of the problems described in his series can probably be traced to earlier schooling (a national issue that cuts across socioeconomic backgrounds) and perhaps the institutional culture at Stillman.

"Some are trifling, but more of them are trying to uphold the legacy of men and women who have passed through the Mecca," using a campus term for Howard. "I hold all of them to the same high standards. I want them to be able to survive in the 'real world.'”

Will Sutton, Scripps Howard endowed professor at Hampton University, said, "As the son of parents who went to a black school (Dillard University, New Orleans), as one of six kids who attended HBCUs (two at Hampton University, two at Spelman College, one at Jackson State University and one at Dillard) and as a two-year professor at Hampton University, I don't accept the argument that our young brothers and sisters can't learn, can't step up and can't compete with others who attend Ivy League, private or even Research I-level public universities.

"In the end, all of higher education is about what's put in front of students, how many professors challenge students to go beyond the extra mile to gain knowledge and skills they'll need and which students step up, take the challenge and learn how to apply knowledge they didn't know they could."

A third piece from Maxwell is due next Sunday. Text of Rice's and Sutton's comments is at the end of today's posting.

Poll Shows U.S. Muslims Middle Class, Adaptable

"The USA's estimated 2.4 million Muslims hold more moderate political views than Muslims elsewhere in the world and are mostly middle class and willing to adopt the American way of life, according to one of the most comprehensive surveys of this segment of the nation's population," Haya El Nasser wrote in USA Today's lead story on Wednesday.

"The Pew Research Center study released Tuesday found that "Muslim Americans are very much like the rest of the country," says Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. "They do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society."

"Muslim Americans, however, have a much more negative view about the Iraq war and the war against terrorism than the U.S. public as a whole, the survey found. The study also found pockets of sympathy for Islamic extremism, especially among younger people. Muslims between the ages of 18 and 29 express significantly greater acceptance than older people of suicide bombings in some cases.

"The young show a greater tendency to identify themselves as Muslim first and American second."

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Mark Frisby Named Philly Daily News Publisher



Mark Frisby, executive vice president of the company that now owns the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer, on Wednesday was named publisher of the Daily News, giving the paper an African American editor and publisher and an expression of confidence in the tabloid's viability.

"This shows we're going to actually step on the gas and invest more in the Daily News," Brian Tierney, the CEO, said in a statement on the Web site. Tierney will remain president and CEO of the Daily News, and Michael Days continues as editor.

Tierney told employees, "Last spring the fate of the Daily News was somewhat in question. Several potential purchasers indicated they might consider closing this great newspaper, silencing an important voice that has served our region so well since 1925.

"Our local owners have had a starkly different view. As lifelong Philadelphians, we loved the Daily News and its unique blend of news, sports, gossip – and 'Attytood.' Rather than consider closing it we've invested in it. As a result the paper is stronger and we're turning the tide on circulation trends."

Frisby came to the company last fall after serving as publisher of Gannett's Courier-Post in Camden/Cherry Hill, N.J.

Home of Historic Black Journalist in Danger



The historic home of T. Thomas Fortune, a journalist and activist in the early 20th century who edited the New York Age, the most widely read black newspaper of its day, has been declared an endangered historic site by the preservation board of Red Bank, N.J.

"The plot of land is up for sale, even though it is on the National Register of Historic Sites," and its New Jersey counterpart, Ed Zipprich, a member of the preservation board, told Journal-isms. "A developer can come in and take it." The board made its designation on May 15.

Brothers Commercial Brokerage in Red Bank is asking $1.5 million for the property.



Fortune was born a slave in Marianna, Fla., on Oct. 3, 1856, and freed by proclamation in 1865. "He was trained as a printer and traveled to New York where he was hired by the New York Sun in 1878 and later promoted to the editorial staff.

"He became editor of The Globe, a Negro daily, and chief editorial writer for The Negro World. In 1883, Fortune founded The New York Age, which became the leading Negro journal of opinion in the United States," according to one online biography.

"A close friend and adviser to Booker T. Washington, Fortune is credited with having coined the term, `Afro-American.' In 1890, Fortune founded the Afro-American League, a forerunner to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The preservation board added, "Fortune wrote and edited from home and commuted to New York roughly once a week," a distance of about 50 miles that he traveled by rail.

"Washington visited Fortune in Red Bank, sometimes for extended stays. The Fortune home was sold at a sheriff's sale in 1911, some years after he had suffered a nervous breakdown. In the 1920s after he recovered, Fortune edited Marcus Garvey's Negro World."

The home, at what is now 94 Drs. Parker Blvd., became a residence for Italian Americans who used the house as a bakery, Zipprich said, and it has stayed in that family since then. There is no historical marker noting its connection to Fortune.

All that those who want to save the house can do is "rally to the cause" and persuade the ultimate buyer to keep it, Zipprich said.

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"Latino USA" Gets $300,000, Largest-Ever Grant

"Latino USA," the 14-year-old weekly program that claims to be the longest-running English-language radio program produced from a Latino perspective, has received a $300,000 grant to expand coverage of immigration issues in America through the 2008 presidential election, National Public Radio announced on Tuesday.

The grant comes from the William and Salome Scanlan Foundation of Austin and San Antonio.

"America is in the thick of its second great wave of immigration," said John Scanlan in a news release. "Like the Europeans who came a century ago, many of today's immigrants are fleeing persecution or are seeking a new, better life among us. This event needs to be documented in a thoughtful, balanced and respectful manner."

"Starting next month, the grant will be used to expand the show's feature reporting, commentaries and discussions on issues surrounding immigration, including its political, economic and cultural manifestations," NPR said. "'Latino USA' will focus on immigration and its impact on the presidential race, election and through the 2010 State of the Union address." The show is hosted by Maria Hinojosa and is produced by KUT Radio at the University of Texas at Austin. It claims more than 350,000 listeners weekly and also airs on the Sirius satellite-radio public radio channels.

Texas Editors Praised for Role in Hate-Crime Case

"You may not know the names Willis and Julie Webb, but you will know the story of James Byrd Jr., who almost a decade ago was picked up by three white supremacists who took him to a remote rural area where they chained his feet to their truck and dragged him three miles to his death," Editor & Publisher wrote Monday in introducing a piece by Lani Silver, an oral historian, freelance writer and volunteer for the Byrd Foundation for Racial Healing.

"What is it, exactly did the Webbs do, to deserve being named by the Texas Press Association two of the six 'most courageous editors in Texas'? Among other things, they served as a clearinghouse or repository for other newspapers and journalists, who relied on them for emerging details of the crime," Silver wrote. "They were just fearless. They called everyone on the carpet that needed to be there. They could be relied upon to always call things the way they saw them."

Which Philly Did Katie Couric Visit?

"CBS anchor Katie Couric went on the road to Philadelphia where she filed a couple of reports," wrote Andrew Tyndall, whose Tyndall Report tracks viewing trends, on Wednesday. "Couric's first was serious: the combination of high malpractice insurance premiums for obstetricians and low reimbursement rates for Medicaid pregnancies means that delivering a baby in Philadelphia is a money-losing proposition. In the past decade, hospitals have shuttered 14 of the city's 42 maternity wards.

"Couric's second feature was a lighthearted survey of Philly's famous sights and sounds. She reminded us of William Penn and Betsy Ross and Sylvester Stallone's 'Rocky' and the Phillies' play-by-play announcer Harry Kalas and cheesesteak sandwiches and the Reading Terminal Market and Dick Clark's 'American Bandstand' and the 'greatest source of Philadelphia's pride,' the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

"What was peculiar about Couric's survey was how monochromatic it was. Her portrait of the city that brought us, for example, Bill Cosby and Ed Bradley and Teddy Pendergrass and Julius Erving and Joe Frazier, included just a single nod to African-Americans, a brief clip of The O'Jays' 'Love Train' on the soundtrack."

Short Takes

  • "Twenty-six members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have signed letters to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) urging them to reconsider their decisions to skip a debate cosponsored by the CBC Institute and Fox News," Alexander Bolton reported Wednesday in the Capitol Hill newspaper the Hill.
  • Spanish-language network Telemundo will rebroadcast two debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee and produced by NBC News, Telemundo announced on Tuesday. Hosted in Spanish by Telemundo news anchor Pedro Sevcec, the debates air this fall from Hanover, N.H., and Philadelphia. In previous broadcasts, Telemundo has aired the debate live with a simultaneous translation into Spanish, spokesman Gerardo Oyola told Journal-isms.
  • "Three journalists for The New York Times were arrested by the Ethiopian military on May 16 in the Ogaden region of the country, held for five days and interrogated at gunpoint, and then released on Monday without any charges being lodged against them, The Times said today," the newspaper reported on Tuesday. The journalists were identified as Jeffrey Gettleman, 35, Nairobi bureau chief; Vanessa Vick, 43, a photographer; and Courtenay Morris, 34, a videographer.
  • "Haitian authorities must conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into the murder of radio journalist Alix Joseph, who was gunned down on Wednesday night in the northern city of Gonaives," the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Friday. The organization said it was investigating possible links between Joseph's murder and his professional work.
  • "After several days of criticism for inviting Bernard McGuirk onto its airwaves, WRKO yesterday canceled the appearance by the former producer for shock jock Don Imus," Carolyn Y. Johnson wrote Tuesday in the Boston Globe. "McGuirk was slated to begin a three-day stint tomorrow as a guest on a talk show hosted by former House speaker Tom Finneran — an appearance that station officials had said was a tryout for the man who first said the word 'ho' in the on-air conversation that led to Imus's downfall." The story cited a column by Derrick Z. Jackson in reporting criticism of the idea.
  • Prosecutors across the country are seeing fallout from the Duke lacrosse case, as defense attorneys use it to discredit other criminal cases and paint them as overzealous prosecutors with something to prove, according to Tresa Baldas, writing Friday in the National Law Journal.
  • Adam Clayton Powell III has been named vice provost for globalization at the University of Southern California. "In this role, Powell will work closely with faculty and deans to advance the university's globalization initiative," Provost C.L. Max Nikias told the staff on Monday. "He will continue to expand USC's international presence, increase our leadership role in the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, and promote the university throughout the world." The veteran broadcaster is director of the USC Integrated Media Systems Center, the National Science Foundation's Research Center for multimedia research.
  • Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, where he has worked for 22 years, has been named Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University. "Mark has built the reputation of the SPLC to a position today of national prominence: SPLC is the foremost advocate for the speech and press freedoms of high school and college students and the teachers who advise them," the law center's board of directors said on Tuesday.
  • Raymond "Benzino" Scott, who started Hip-Hop Weekly with Source co-founder David Mays last year after the two were ousted from the Source magazine, told, "Right now Hip-Hop Weekly is turning a profit and we've only been alive for six to eight months," Carl Chery reported.
  • "The father of Casey Bokhoven has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against WXII anchor Tolly Carr and three downtown bars where the suit alleges Carr was served alcohol the night Bokhoven was killed," Titan Barksdale reported Monday in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal. "The lawsuit was brought by Howard Bokhoven. Casey Bokhoven, 26, died in March when police say Carr hit and killed him with his truck."
  • "Forbes in recent weeks has been easing out of the heritage magazine genre. American Legacy, a quarterly devoted to African-American history and culture, last week was sold to its founder and part owner, Rodney Reynolds," Lucia Moses noted on Monday in MediaWeek.
  • Los Angeles Times writer Agustin Gurza said on Saturday not to count him among fans of Gustavo Arellano, who started the feature "Ask a Mexican" three years ago in the OC Weekly in Orange County, Calif. "The problem is, one man's joke is another man's insult. Besides, I was born in Mexico (unlike The Mexican, who's actually an Anaheim native) but I rarely recognize myself in his answers: I don't wear street clothes while swimming in the ocean, I'm not especially attracted to women with large derrieres and I'm not a big fan of Morrissey."

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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