Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

6th Paper Bans Indian Team Nicknames

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Black Journalists, Back from Cuba, Oppose Embargo

Outlet Puts Money "Where Our Mouth Has Been"

The Wausau Daily Herald, a 25,000-circulation Gannett newspaper in Wisconsin, has become the latest to adopt a policy against using team names with Indian nomenclature.

"The Daily Herald has adopted a policy that puts our money where our mouth has been, so to speak. We'll no longer use race-based team names in our coverage unless we're writing specifically about nickname debates," Opinion Editor Peter J. Wasson wrote last Saturday.

He went on Wisconsin Public Radio on Thursday (audio) to defend the paper's position.

The decision, which Wasson told Journal-isms was the result of a consensus among the publisher, executive editor, sports editor, managing editor and himself, followed a series of columns in which Wasson argued against the Mosinee Indians team name, which had been in use for more than 70 years.

That's why, "as the team worked its way in recent days through the basketball playoffs, we referred to it as the 'Mosinee girls' or 'Mosinee,' Wasson wrote Saturday. "That policy change was suggested by several readers after the nickname controversy, and they were right."

Elizabeth Burmaster, the state superintendent of public instruction, had urged 39 school districts to drop sports nicknames or logos that some view as offensive to Native Americans. However, Mosinee voted to keep the Indians nickname.

In a Jan. 20 column, Wasson praised Mark Craig, a property manager and former Wausau mayoral candidate, writing, "Since he began lobbying to transform Wausau's old federal building into a [N]ative American cultural center, he's learned more about Indians, too.

"He learned, by getting to know Indians, dining with them and spending time among them, that a stadium full of fans pretending to wave tomahawks, or a mascot dressed like an Indian chief or the stereotyped costume that Caucasians think an Indian chief should look like is a powerful symbol indeed.

"To many, many Indians, it's powerfully repugnant.

"That's what matters."

In 2003, the Native American Journalists Association called on newspapers across the country to stop using team names and mascots that it said were offensive to American Indians.

An informal survey conducted for the group then found only five U.S. newspapers with policies banning the use of such names: The Oregonian in Portland, Ore., the Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska, the Portland Press Herald in Maine, the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota and the Kansas City Star.

That same year, the Star Tribune changed editors and reversed a decade-long policy banning the nicknames.

The Wasau paper's policy change is apparently the first among U.S. newspapers since the 2003 report. The "Census says Indian population in our home county is low - a few hundred," Wasson told Journal-isms. "The most vocal local activist is an Oneida woman, and members of other tribes and bands - Winnebago, Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ho-Chunk - are present."

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AP Admits "Bad Judgment" on Photo Caption

On Wednesday morning, a proud Congressional Black Caucus sent out a media advisory, saying that chairman Melvin Watt, D-N.C., and other House leaders would be holding a "press availabilty" with Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.




Johnson-Sirleaf addressed Congress, reminding members in a 35-minute speech that her nation was founded by freed black American slaves. When the Associated Press transmitted a photo of Johnson-Sirleaf greeting House members, however, only Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, both behind Johnson-Sirleaf, were identified.

Roland S. Martin, editor of the Chicago Defender, told colleagues in the National Association of Black Journalists that he had to amend the caption for his paper "because the person to her immediate right was Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is to her immediate left. The photog completely looked past them and named the two white guys standing directly behind Sirleaf, and NOT the two Black members of Congress standing right next to her."

Mike Silverman, the Associated Press' managing editor, acknowledged the mistake.

"Our photo editors agree this was bad judgment. Not a deliberate slight for sure, but the excuse that it's easier to ID the people looking directly into the camera doesn't wash in a case like this. They'll talk to our Washington staff to raise the awareness," he told Journal-isms.

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Boston Herald Newsroom Keeps Getting Paler

Boston Herald reporter Brian Ballou is leaving next week for a similar job at the Boston Globe, covering city and community issues, and when that happens you'll be able to count the journalists of color at the tabloid using less than one hand.

Among African Americans, there will be pop music writer Sarah Rodman, and statehouse reporter Kimberly Atkins, and among Asian Americans, Heather Eng, an editorial assistant in the features section who also writes stories.

In recent years, columnist Howard Manly left to go to the Bay State Banner, sports columnist Howard Bryant went to the Washington Post, local reporter and editor Jose Martinez left, some say to write a book, and consumer reporter Robin Washington became editorial page editor at the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune. Until 2000, Leonard Greene, now at the New York Post, was a columnist there.

They haven't been the only ones to depart. Last June, Mark Jurkowitz wrote in the Boston Globe: "Two months after Boston Herald publisher Patrick J. Purcell said he was seeking deep newsroom cuts in an effort to find $7 million in savings at the financially troubled tabloid, a massive exodus is in full swing one that involves some of the paper's best known and most seasoned journalists.

"According to Herald managers and union officials, 30 to 35 of the 145 unionized newsroom staff members have already left or are expected to leave soon. The vast majority have applied for a buyout, and a handful were laid off. The same managers and officials also estimate that 10 to 12 of the paper's 52 nonunion newsroom employees editors, columnists, and staff members working under contract will have departed by the end of the month. A small number of employees recently left voluntarily, without being laid off or taking a buyout."

Managing Editor Kevin Convey was unavailable today, and News Editor Joe Sciacca and Ken Chandler, editorial director of Herald Media, did not return telephone calls. The tabloid is owned by Purcell, a former associate of Rupert Murdoch who bought it from Murdoch's company in 1994.

The Herald does not participate in the annual diversity survey of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Last year the rival Boston Globe, which has also reduced its staff, reported 20 percent journalists of color.

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Black Journalists, Back from Cuba, Oppose Embargo

The first commentaries from a five-member delegation of African American journalists that visited Cuba favor ending the embargo against the island.




"How insane is this?" asked DeWayne Wickham in his March 7 USA Today column. "Digna Castañeda, a frail and aging professor of Caribbean history and philosophy at the University of Havana, cannot go to Puerto Rico next week to attend the International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association."

Wickham organized the trip as director of the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C.

Gregory Kane of the Baltimore Sun, who describes himself as a conservative, told readers that American arrogance made him wish "the Cuban team would beat the pants off the American team" if they met in the World Baseball Classic.

Tonyaa Weathersbee, commenting Monday in the Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville, also wrote about Casteñada, saying that the Afro-Cuban "is feeling the strain from the Bush administration's attempts to tighten the decades-old embargo stranglehold on her country. Not in her everyday life, but in her academic one."

Last week, Weathersbee wrote that "my jog through downtown Havana, a place abuzz with conversation and chatter, emphasized to me the things that I could learn from average people by gauging their casual discussions. It made me realize the importance of children learning languages when they are young, and it made me worry about whether there's so much emphasis here on Spanish-speaking people learning English we're in danger of forgetting most of the world doesn't speak English at all."

Also on the trip were Kera Ritter of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Kari Manns-Leewood of CNN International.

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Media Made Things "Harder" With Red Lake Story

"March 21 will mark the one-year anniversary of the Red Lake Reservation high school shootings that left ten people dead, including the gunman, sixteen-year-old Jeff Weise," Louise Mengelkoch writes in the March/April issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, in a story that is not online.

"Bemidji State University, where I teach journalism, is in a small resort town of the same name thirty miles south of the school. Over the years it has been a continual challenge to recruit and retain Red Lakers and Native American students from the two other nearby reservations (White Earth and Leech Lake) for our journalism program. It's harder still, in the wake of that story.

"I happened to be in England with thirty BSU students when we saw the headlines in the London papers. We felt shock, grief, and a strange sense of loss, knowing we'd never be part of the shared memories of our community, horrible though they were. When I returned, I discovered that part of those shared memories was centered on disgust with the news media that descended on Red Lake from around the country and the world."


  • [Added March 21: CJR article is now online]

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Ed Bradley: Mike Wallace Taught Value of Listening

Although Mike Wallace is retiring now, at 87, from CBS-TV's "60 Minutes," "some years ago he passed the torch," according to his colleague Ed Bradley. And although they had times when they were not on speaking terms, Bradley said, he learned a lot from Wallace, particularly the value of listening.

"People have a tendency to talk too much" when conducting a television interview, feeling the need to fill dead air, Bradley told Journal-isms today. "The most difficult thing to learn how to do is to listen."

Bradley also said he admired Wallace's energy, recalling when Bradley was a backup correspondent covering the 1976 Republican national convention in Kansas City. "He was climbing over seats doing live interviews," and climbing up stairs, Bradley said of Wallace.

"I'm happy to see Mike go out on his own terms," Bradley added. "I'm disappointed to lose a colleague I've worked with for 25 years. There were times when Mike and I didn't speak, just as there were times when Mike and Morley Safer didn't speak. But you get over it. I've learned a lot from him." He said he did not expect that Wallace's departure would affect his role on the broadcast, saying, "some years ago he passed the torch."

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Tate, Lloyd, Dedman and Doig "Do It Better"

Alysia Tate, editor and publisher of the Chicago Reporter; Wanda Lloyd, editor of the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser; and Bill Dedman and Steve Doig, authors of an annual report on newspaper hiring, came away with top honors in the annual Columbia Graduate School of Journalism "Do It Better!" workshop competition, which honors best practices in coverage of race and ethnicity.

Tate "will receive the 2006 Tobenkin Award for the paper's informative, fair style in covering the issues of race and poverty," the school said. Lloyd won a career achievement leadership award for diversity, and her staff was honored for two special supplements, one marking the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott, and the other honoring the late Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her seat to a white patron sparked the bus boycott in 1955.

Dedman and Doig received special recognition for their "exhaustive study" of the newspaper industry's minority employment trends. Their report, sponsored by the Knight Foundation, examined newspaper hiring trends from 1990 to 2005 and found that newsroom diversity had "passed its peak" at most newspapers.

Excellence Awards for newspaper reporting on race and ethnicity went to the Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Miami Herald and Philadelphia Inquirer (jointly), Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla., Sacramento Bee, Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Roanoke (Va.) Times and Washington Post.

And in television: ABC News, CNN, TV One, CBS News, "NBC Nightly News" and ESPN's "Outside the Lines."

List of winners

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Short Takes

  • "Despite rampant rumors to the contrary, Inner City Broadcasting's WLIB New York will continue to be the flagship station for New York-based liberal talk network Air America Radio. The companies are in the process of finalizing a new agreement," Ken Tucker reported for Billboard Radio Monitor.


  • Chinese authorities on Friday unexpectedly withdrew the state secrets case against Zhao Yan, 44, a Chinese researcher for the New York Times, "a surprise decision that may clear the way for his release and comes a month before President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit the United States," Jim Yardley reported today in the Times.


  • "On Thursday, more than 550 family and friends squeezed into the First Presbyterian Church in Fort Scott to say goodbye to the man who left Kansas, turned his heart against his home state and eventually made peace with its people," Beccy Tanner and Christina M. Woods wrote today in the Wichita Eagle, reporting on services for Renaissance man Gordon Parks.


  • Veteran journalist Karen DeWitt, who as Washington editor of the free Washington Examiner said of the Washington Post, "We're going to take their lunch!" left the Examiner last Friday and starts March 27 as director of communications for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and its sister organization, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, the organizations announced Thursday. DeWitt had most recently been a writer for the Examiner. The management that hired her had departed.


  • Maria Hinojosa, former CNN and National Public Radio correspondent, is special correspondent for a one-hour special on government secrecy on "Now" on PBS. The show airs tonight in some markets; later in others. One piece includes a story of two mothers who lost their children in Iraq, and must submit FOIA requests to learn details of how their sons died.


  • Nicholas D. Kristof, op-ed columnist for the New York Times, has announced, "Over the next month, I'll be holding a contest to find a university student or two to accompany me on a reporting trip to the developing world. I'm not sure where yet, and that will depend partly on what's in the news at the time. But to give you a sense of the kind of travel I'm thinking of, the possibilities include a jaunt through rural Burundi and Rwanda in central Africa, or an odyssey from the coast of Cameroon inland to the heart of the Central African Republic."


  • Sonya Crawford, a reporter for NewsOne, ABC's affiliate news service, who has been a board member of the Asian American Journalists Association, has been named an ABC News network correspondent, effective March 20, Rebecca Stropoli reported Thursday in Broadcasting & Cable. "Crawford will be an overnight and early-morning anchor for World News Now and World News This Morning, along with Good Morning America and digital channel ABC News Now. She will continue to be based in Washington."


  • Mi-Ai Parrish has been named deputy managing editor of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, a promotion from assistant managing editor for features, the newspaper announced Monday.


  • Michele Vernon-Chesley has been promoted from features editor to deputy managing editor for sections at the Norfolk (Va.) Virginian-Pilot, overseeing features, sports, business and special sections, Managing Editor Maria Carrillo told the staff Thursday. "Michele has succeeded in every role at The Pilot by developing relationships, taking risks and encouraging candor. Under her guidance, The Daily Break took first place last year in the Missouri Lifestyle Awards for the best features section of its size," Carrillo said.


  • "Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Vélez today expressed support for the work of provincial journalists who report under threat of violence and said that any official who impedes their work 'is committing a crime against democracy,'" the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Wednesday. Uribe met with a delegation from the organization in Bogotá.


  • "South Africa has made substantial progress in having women's voices heard in the media, says a study released to coincide with International Women's Day," the Inter Press Service reported on March 7. "Titled 'Who Makes the News?', the report was issued by the Global Media Monitoring Project, a non-governmental group based in London.


  • Cecilia Balli, 29, is working concurrently on an academic dissertation — toward a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Rice University — and a creative non-fiction book, both on the killings of women in Juarez, Mexico, Daniel Garcia Ordaz wrote for the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen, Texas. His story is distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune news service. Since 2000, Balli has been a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly, the first Hispanic under such a contract, Ordaz wrote.

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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