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ABC Lures Byron Pitts From CBS

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

"60 Minutes" Contributor to Be Correspondent, Anchor

Lack of Media Diversity a Worldwide Problem

Miami, Fresno, Lakeland Lead in Sports Journalists of Color

. . . Maria Burns Ortiz Column on "Hiatus" at ESPN

Missing News Anchor Had "Medical Condition"

A Year After Tirade, Limbaugh Still Bad For Business

What Will Journalists of Color Regret in 2050?

Asian American Billionaire Could Be Eyeing L.A. Times

As February Closes, Two Seek to Clarify Blackness

Short Takes

Byron Pitts reports on filmmaker Tyler Perry on "60 Minutes" in 2009. (Credit: T

"60 Minutes" Contributor to Be Correspondent, Anchor

ABC News is finalizing a deal to hire Byron Pitts of CBS, a contributor to "60 Minutes" and chief national correspondent for the "CBS Evening News, " according to reliable news reports published Friday.

"Pitts will serve as both chief national correspondent and anchor at ABC News, and will appear across the network's programming. ABC News President Ben Sherwood is expected to announce the news next week," Dylan Byers of Politico, the first to break the news, reported. Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter later reported that she had been given the same information by "sources."

Susan Saulny"Pitts is just the latest in a string of high-profile hires for the network," Byers wrote. "Sherwood announced the hire of New York Times reporters Jeff Zeleny and Susan Saulny earlier this week, as well as the appointment of Rick Klein to political director. Sources who spoke to POLITICO earlier this week said Sherwood is trying to beef up the network's political bench following a number of recent departures."

Both Pitts and Saulny are black journalists, providing a marked contrast with the new hires at CNN after Jeff Zucker recently assumed the top job. Zucker hired white journalists Jake Tapper, Chris Cuomo and  Rachel Nichols while sidelining anchor Soledad O'Brien, who is black and Latina. Zucker's appointment also prompted the resignation of Mark Whitaker, an African American who was CNN executive vice president and managing editor. Zucker's personnel moves prompted protests from the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Pitts, 52, joined CBS News as a correspondent in May 1998. He was named a contributing correspondent on "60 Minutes" in 2009, becoming the first African American presence on the show since correspondent Ed Bradley died in 2006. "I wanted to be a part of '60 Minutes' since I was in high school," Pitts then told Richard Huff of the Daily News in New York. "For me, '60 Minutes' is to broadcast journalism what the Yankees are to baseball: It's the gold standard."

Pitts, ABC News and CBS News were not commenting on Friday.

Pitts' wife, Lyne Pitts, is also involved in a new venture. She is heading up the U.S. operation of Arise News, a 24-hour international TV news operation that launched last month.

Byers reported last week, "In recent weeks, ABC News president Ben Sherwood has been courting political reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other outlets in an effort to strengthen the network's D.C. bureau after a string of recent departures, sources familiar with the network’s plans tell POLITICO. . . .

"Sherwood's motivations are clear: He is eager to bolster ABC's commitment to political coverage, especially after the loss of political director Amy Walter, senior Washington producer Virginia Moseley and chief White House correspondent Jake Tapper — all three of whom left, for various reasons, within the past three months."

Alison Bethel McKenzie, second from left, was a participant in the U.N. Alliance

Lack of Media Diversity a Worldwide Problem

Diversity in newsrooms is an issue worldwide, according to heads of state, government representatives and experts meeting this week in Vienna.

At the fifth United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) Global Forum, "Leaders from the conflict-plagued Middle East were among the strongest voices calling for media to recognise its responsibility in reporting on diverse cultures fairly and accurately," Pavol Stracansky reported Friday for the Inter Press Service [video].

"Emir of Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, said: 'Understanding others and respecting their cultures and beliefs and the renunciation of extremism, hatred and racism are the most effective ways to plug the pretexts used by those who try to exploit these manifestations to encourage violence and terrorism. There is a growing responsibility of media in portraying the right image of 'the other' while avoiding prejudices and stereotyping others, and looking at the facts to judge accordingly.'

Stracansky continued, "Media experts at the summit in Vienna made several suggestions to improve media diversity:

  • "Mainstream media needs to be shown what that they can benefit from diversity.

  • "Media literacy is vital to promoting diversity.

  • "Laziness is a key reason for journalists not being inclusive in their reporting.

  • "Indigenous peoples need to be included in mainstream media and not just have their own specific media representing them.

  • "More women should hold top positions in media.

  • "Diversity of newsroom staff can help naturally encourage diversity of reporting.

  • "It is imperative that marginalized communities are represented in the media in a natural way, not just when mainstream papers need to know something about specific ethnic customs or traditions."

Steven M. Ellis added for the International Press Institute, "However, unaddressed was the question of whether moves ostensibly intended to increase diversity are ultimately a positive step when they have the practical effect of limiting media freedom.

"Such a conflict currently exists in Argentina, where the government, which has feuded with media outlet Grupo Clarín over the outlet's critical stance in recent years, threatened last December to implement legal provisions allowing it to seize all but 24 of the outlet's cable television licenses and all but 10 of its open frequency radio or television licenses.

"The government has justified this action as a necessary step to limit concentration of media ownership and ensure greater diversity. Critics, however, believe the move is retaliation for Grupo Clarín's criticism of government policies and violates the outlet's fundamental ownership rights."

Miami, Fresno, Lakeland Lead in Sports Journalists of Color

After previewing its major findings earlier in the week, Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, released its annual report Friday evaluating diversity in sports journalism at more than 150 newspapers and websites.

Lapchick told the Associated Press Sports Editors, which requested the report, "For 2012, the grade for racial hiring practices for APSE newspapers and websites remained at a C+, the same grade issued in the 2010 Study. . . . The grade issued for gender hiring practices remained constant as well, recording the third consecutive F for gender hiring practices."

The full report provided details not disclosed in Lapchick's column Monday.

For example, "In circulation size 'A' papers, the Miami Herald (FL) had the highest percentage for people of color at 38.1 percent. For the second year in a row, The Fresno Bee (CA) had the highest percentage of people of color at 'B' newspapers with 45.5 percent. The Lakeland Ledger (FL) had the highest percentage for people of color for size 'C' newspapers at 33.3 percent. In size 'D' newspapers, both the Triangle Tribune (NC) and Ste. Genevieve Herald (MO) had 100 percent people of color. It should be noted that each only reported one employee. For papers with five or more employees, the Midland [Reporter-Telegram] (TX) had the highest percentage with 50 percent people of color in the size 'D' category."

When people of color and women are tallied, the results were:

"Of all the 'A' circulation size papers, the Miami Herald (FL) totaled the highest percentage of diversity within its sports staff for the second straight year with 76.2 percent people of color and/or women. The New Orleans [Times]-Picayune leads the 'B' circulation size papers with 63.6 percent of their staff being women and/or people of color. The Register-Guard (OR) led the circulation size 'C' papers with 90 percent of its sports staff being women or people of color. Finally, in the circulation size 'D' papers with more than five employees, there was a tie at 66.7 percent women and people of color between the Iowa City Press-Citizen (IA) and the Midland Reporter-Telegram (TX)."

. . . Maria Burns Ortiz Column on "Hiatus" at ESPN

Maria Burns Ortiz, one of the few Latina sports columnists and leader of the Sports Task Force of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, told Journal-isms Friday that her social media column for is going on hiatus.

Maria Burns Ortiz Ortiz's column notwithstanding, the study from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport asserted Friday, "For the fourth straight survey of the APSE newspapers and websites, there were no Latina columnists."

"I've actually been a freelancer (since 2006) — so I'm guessing I'm simply not considered as part of the company's demographics," Ortiz said. "Additionally, I was notified on Thursday that due to ESPN budgetary issues, my column is actually going on indefinite hiatus so yesterday was my last column," she messaged.

Ortiz, a former regional director of NAHJ, also contributes regular sports columns to Fox News Latino. She covered men's college soccer for ESPN starting in 2006, then was a Page 2 contributor before beginning the social media column in 2011.

Of the low numbers of Latinas, "I think it speaks to the dearth of Latinas in sports journalism, which I've written about in the past," Ortiz said. "What I find more troubling is that looking ahead to the future I don't see anything that leads me to believe any significant change is on the horizon," she wrote. "The study notes no Latinas as sports columnists and an all-time low in Latina sports reporters. The other numbers don't bode much better. Through my work with NAHJ, this is something I've tried to tackle, but it is definitely an uphill battle."

The NAHJ Sports Task Force plans a session at NAHJ's Region 2 conference in New York next week.

Missing News Anchor Had "Medical Condition"

Paula Lopez

"The family of Santa Barbara TV news anchor Paula Lopez, who returned home after she was reported missing, said Thursday that she suffered a medical emergency that prevented her from communicating with other people," Robert J. Lopez reported Thursday for the Los Angeles Times.

"Lopez, 48, who anchors for KEYT-TV Channel 3, was reported missing Wednesday morning. Lopez is a longtime fixture in the Santa Barbara community and is married to a Superior Court judge.

"Her family alerted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office that she was gone, triggering a quick response by deputies who used search dogs as they scoured the area.

"On Thursday, her family thanked well-wishers and sheriff's personnel and spoke out for the first time on the circumstances involving her reported disappearance.

" 'We are extremely grateful to the Santa Barbara community and to the multitude of Paula’s well-wishers who shared in our concern for Paula yesterday. As a family, we were very alarmed because Paula was experiencing a medical condition that caused her to be unable to communicate with us. She is now receiving appropriate medical care and we hope and expect that her treatment will enable her to recover quickly,' the family said in a statement, which was published on the KEYT-TV website. . . . "

A Year After Tirade, Limbaugh Still Bad For Business

"It's been one year since Rush Limbaugh's invective-filled tirade against then-Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke. With hundreds of advertisers and millions of dollars lost, the business of right-wing radio is suffering, but Rush Limbaugh continues to act as if it were business as usual, which is why Limbaugh is still bad for business," Angelo Carusone wrote Friday for Media Matters for America.

"On February 29, 2012, Rush Limbaugh initiated a three-day smear campaign against Sandra Fluke, launching 46 personal attacks against her. This moment and Limbaugh's subsequent refusal to apologize for, or even acknowledge, all but two of those attacks put the spotlight on the right-wing talk business model that Limbaugh helped construct.

"During the following weeks, headlines tracked in near real-time the names of advertisers exiting Limbaugh's show as pundits and natterers speculated about Limbaugh's future. As so often happens, the buzz faded and the news cycle rolled on. But the consequences didn't fade, they intensified. This is due in large part to scores of independent organizers, like the Flush Rush and the #StopRush community. . . ."

From left: Raju Narisetti, June Cross and Eric Deggans

What Will Journalists of Color Regret in 2050?

"Yes, we in the media can have blind spots — often huge ones — when it comes to social change," multimedia journalist Farai Chideya wrote Friday for the cover story of Columbia Journalism Review. "To help identify them, we set out to have a national conversation about what we’re missing these days, and how media must adapt to cover an America that constantly reinvents itself.

"Race, class, immigration, and social mobility were the issues we used to frame our discussion, conducted in January. Using the online conversation tool Branch, we virtually convened 18 members of the media and asked them to weigh in."

Chideya received a variety of responses when she asked, "If we were to write the mea culpa of race coverage for 2050, what would it be? What are we missing now? And how do we deal with what we missed before?"

Raju Narisetti, newly named senior vice president and deputy head of strategy for the New News Corporation, said, "In hindsight, we might be apologizing for treating race through a white/nonwhite prism, long after America became much more multicultural, and race reporting ought to have become as much about covering 'white' issues, and not just in relation to nonwhite 'minorities.' "

Eric Deggans, media critic for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, said, "I write a lot about how race and prejudice play out in media. But I was still shocked during an interview with Shirley Sherrod — yes, that 'Breitbarted' Shirley Sherrod [who was bullied into resigning from a government job after racial comments she made were taken out of context] — when she told me a high school near her home in Georgia still has segregated proms. Far as the nation has come on racial issues, especially in big cities, there is a still a lot of prejudice and ignorance out there. I have a feeling future news outlets will be apologizing for allowing the level of racial animus toward nonwhite people which still appears on Fox News Channel, the Drudge Report, The Daily Caller, and many areas of conservative media."

June Cross, assistant professor at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, said, "We will have missed the nuances of race and ethnicity. When I get together with my Latino friends, they talk about how different their individual cultures are: Mexican, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Colombian, and Guatemalan [cultures] not only have different holidays and use the same word to connote different things; they also speak Spanish in different accents. The cities that receive immigrants are creating a melting pot of Latin America that I haven't seen reported at all in mainstream press. Ditto for the immigrant flow from Africa and the West Indies. Further, in the press's binary paradigm, undocumented immigrants are rarely Russian, Eastern European, Canadian, Irish — even though their ranks also fill immigration detention centers."

Asian American Billionaire Could Be Eyeing L.A. Times

"Last month, Tribune Co. and the Los Angeles Times emerged from a bitterly contested, four-year bankruptcy drama," Hillel Aron wrote Thursday for LA Weekly. "Now there's every expectation that the L.A. Times will be sold to a new owner, possibly even before the end of spring."

Austin Beutner, an investment banker who made a fortune on Wall Street and was Antonio Villaraigosa's top deputy mayor, is putting together a group of wealthy Angelenos to make an offer on the L.A. Times and operate it as a nonprofit, Aron wrote.

Patrick Soon-Shiong"Similar to when rich locals began banding together to bid on Frank McCourt's Los Angeles Dodgers, Beutner won't say who is in his group. Rumors seem to suggest that [billionaire Eli Broad] and former Mayor Richard Riordan are involved, and possibly even mega-billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.

Aron continued, "Though Beutner steadfastly refuses to say who 'we' is, Soon-Shiong makes a certain amount of sense as one of the deep pockets. The richest man in Los Angeles and a brilliant doctor and inventor, he is co-inventor of more than 50 patents, including one for a drug called Abraxane, which uses nanoparticle technology to fight breast cancer. He has a daughter, Nika, who interned at the L.A. Times last summer.

'Soon-Shiong declined to comment, but clearly he wants to own something civic — and big — in L.A. He bought the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard and a minority share of the Lakers, and teamed up with hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen to convince McCourt to sell him the Dodgers, although that didn't work out. Now, he's reportedly interested in buying AEG, owner of Staples Center. . . ."

As February Closes, Two Seek to Clarify Blackness

Among the pieces closing out Black History Month 2013 was an essay by Tonyaa Weathersbee decrying that "more black people seem to be using their money or their fame to look whiter, rather than use it to make people appreciate their blackness," and another by Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., knocking down the oft-repeated line that there are more black men behind bars than in college.

"Today there are approximately 600,000 more black men in college than in jail, and the best research evidence suggests that the line was never true to begin with," Toldson wrote Thursday for the Root.

Nicki Minaj

"In this two-part entry in Show Me the Numbers, the Journal of Negro Education's monthly series for The Root, I examine the dubious origins, widespread use and harmful effects of what is arguably the most frequently quoted statistic about black men in the United States."

Weathersbee, writing Tuesday for Black America Web, argued, "Sometimes, I think we ought to dedicate Black History Month to reviewing the part about black pride.

"I say this because these days, it seems that a lot of us either missed that chapter or just decided to skip it altogether. . . ."

Calling out such celebrities as Lil' Kim, Nicki Minaj, Sammy Sosa, Trina McGee of the television series "Boy Meets World" and Jamaican rapper Vybz Kartel, Weathersbee wrote, "Tanned white people have never been banned from using bathrooms and water fountains, while black people have been denied access strictly for being black."

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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Byron Pitts to ABC NEWS

Byron Pitts is a class act, who has clearly done his homework in preparation for being national correspondent for CBS NEWS as well as contributing reporter to 60 Minutes. He is no Ed Bradley--who had his own stye, acquired innumerable honors and Emmys for news reporting and excellence; but then Mr. Pitts had not to be an Ed Bradley, for he has his own style, uniqueness, and like Bradley, was never a Black reporter but a reporter...and an excellent acquisition for ABC NEWS.

Lack of Black Speechwriters on Staff of CBC

It has come to [my] attention that there [are] none if any Black Speechwriters working for any Black Congressional staffs as well as in the White House! How is this possible in 2013! How come non-blacks get to articulate the narratives and communications instead of Black writers? Why are our Black representatives in Congress engaged in negrophobia with regard to this issue? This dirty litte secret is out now so what is CBC and the White House going to do about it??

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