Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

ABC Radio Says Imus Lures Advertisers

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

On Cable, Rural Channel Reported Closing Deal

Don Imus' new employer says the New York talk-show hosts he is replacing were dumped because it was believed Imus could bring in more advertising dollars. Phil Boyce, vice president for programming at the ABC News-Talk stations, also said of Imus, "I don't think he's going to repeat" the kind of incident that got him fired from CBS Radio and MSNBC in April.



"Really, the opportunity here is from an advertising side," Boyce said Friday on Michel Martin's "Tell Me More" show on National Public Radio. "Imus's advertisers are big and we think that we could bring some of them over here." He said, "We weren't unhappy with Curtis and Kuby," a reference to Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby, who were bumped from New York's WABC-AM to make room for Imus, who starts on the station on Dec. 3.

Meanwhile, the Nashville Tennessean reported Monday that officials of "RFD-TV, the seemingly sleepy Nashville-based cable channel focusing on rural America," are expected to announce they will simulcast the new Imus show, "a move that should boost their current reach of 30 million homes to more than 50 million by the end of 2008.

"Patrick Gottsch, RFD-TV founder and president, would only confirm that the network, home to farm-related programs and country and polka music shows, was in talks with Imus," Beverly Keel wrote, but said Gottsch added, "The biggest obstacle we've had in the last three years is convincing urban-based program directors in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, and so on that they need to be carrying this 'rural' network. Imus helps us cross those borders."

Citadel Broadcasting Corp. announced Thursday that Imus will return to the airwaves on WABC, only nine months after the radio host's on-air statement calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed ho's" created an uproar. The show will be syndicated nationally by the ABC Radio Network, the announcement said.

Until Martin's show, neither Citadel nor ABC News-Talk officials had elaborated on that announcement. Citadel has steadfastly refused to meet with the National Association of Black Journalists, which had called for "dialogue" with Citadel before Imus' return, or with other groups that had expressed concern, such as the National Organization for Women.

Boyce disagreed that Imus lost his show in April because advertisers pulled out.

"Well, I don't know if that's true that his advertisers abandoned the show," he said. "I know that when the initial controversy occurred, a lot of advertisers said, 'pull my spots for a while.' CBS didn't really give him a chance to ride that out. They suspended him for two weeks and then several days into the suspension decided to pull the plug. So I don't think we ever really knew for sure what the long-term negative effect would have been. My feeling is a lot of those advertisers would have come back. He apologized 100 times for what he said. He was forgiven by the Rutgers basketball team. They didn't say that he should be fired. So I just think they would have been back, and I think we'll find out here in about a month."

"What are you hearing so far?" Martin asked.

"So far, I'm hearing good things," Boyce said. "Obviously, there's some good and there's some bad, but I think for the most part, a lot of people are excited to hear him back. I think he'll have a lot to say. He hasn't said anything publicly since this thing occurred. I think that first show on December 3rd here on WABC in New York will be huge. And I think everybody will be listening and want to know what this guy has to say and we just all have to listen."

In a discussion that followed, E.R. Shipp, a journalism professor at Hofstra University and former columnist at the New York Daily News, agreed that, "in a capitalist society . . . it's the money that counts. So his corporate bosses have decided that they can make money off of Imus. What we need to decide is whether the advertisers come back to Imus, and I think that's where we have power to exert."

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, said of the larger media discussion of Imus, "Who's missing from this dialogue? Black women, of course. It's ironic that the very people who were disrespected continue to get no respect. They don't even have a voice in a debate that centers on their image and their morals. Nothing seems to have changed from a little more than six months ago when Imus-gate broke.

"Maybe things have gotten worse. Imus has more fans than ever, standing up for his First Amendment right, not only to spew bile but to do so with the high profile megaphone. For him, it's redemption without penance, or even a promise to do better. The scandal may be the best thing that happened to his career."

Meanwhile, onetime television talk show host Dick Cavett defended Imus and denounced NABJ in a blog on the New York Times Web site, one of several commentaries in the last few days.

"A program enjoyed (and missed) by millions was trashed for the sake of the few. No one who contributed to the denouement of the Imus show and the mindless abuse heaped on him has anything to be proud of," Cavett wrote.

Of the "nappy headed ho's" comment, Cavett said, "He threw in a bit of slang as he might have about laundry if it had been a Chinese team, or garlic or Mafia if Italian, or the turistas if they had been from south of the border, or Nazis if from Argentina. Not everybodyâ??s favorite kind of humor, but easily tolerated — although clearly not by some — for all the good stuff in the other 239 minutes of the show."

He continued, "A particularly painful sight has been the performance of members of the National Association of Black Journalists, clubbing and pounding the radio/television host as if he were a Grand Kleagle. They, too, want him to remain exiled to Elba," Cavett wrote.

The blog item, written Friday, had generated 277 comments by noon on Monday. The breadth of the comments demonstrated that the Imus topic defies simplistic analysis, though one respondent told Cavett, who turns 71 in two weeks, "Youâ??re in danger of becoming a nasty Andy Rooney."

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Cockfield Named Press Secretary to N.Y. Governor

Errol A. Cockfield Jr., who left Newsday this year to take a job as press secretary for New York's Empire State Development Corp., the state's development authority, is changing jobs again: Gov. Eliot Spitzer has hired him as his press secretary, James M. Odato reported Friday in the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union.



Cockfield was Newsday's Albany bureau chief, board member of the National Association of Black Journalists, and a former president of the New York Association of Black Journalists when he left Newsday in February. Spitzer is hiring Cockfield and, as a senior adviser, veteran Albany lobbyist Bruce Gyory at a time when the Spitzer administration has been "taking a public relations beating since midsummer," Odato wrote.

Cockfield, 34, gets a raise — from $130,000 to $150,000.

"Both come in at a turbulent time for the administration, with lawmakers in both houses, particularly Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno and Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, expressing frustration with Spitzer's driver licensing policies and complaining of his autocratic style," Odato said.

Spitzer has come under fire for a proposal to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, which became an issue in the Democratic presidential debate last week when Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was criticized for what her opponents called contradictory answers on whether she supported Spitzer's plan.

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Parsons Out as Time Warner CEO, Remains Chair

"Time Warner Inc., under pressure from investors to wring more profit from its AOL division and cable unit, named Jeffrey Bewkes chief executive officer, succeeding Richard Parsons as the head of the world's largest media company," Gillian Wee reported on Monday for Bloomberg News.

"Bewkes, 55, has been Time Warner's president and chief operating officer since January 2006. Parsons, 59, will remain chairman, the New York-based company said today in a statement. The changes are effective Jan. 1.

"Time Warner's new chief is the architect of efforts to revive the AOL Internet business. Sales at the Web unit have tumbled since the company stopped charging subscribers for services and instead focused on attracting advertisers. Shares of Time Warner have lagged behind those of News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. this year.

"Parsons, the former president of Dime Bancorp, a New York savings and loan, joined Time Warner's board in 1991 and impressed then-CEO Gerald Levin, who made him his No. 2 in 1995. Parsons is also on the board of Citigroup Inc. and yesterday was appointed to head a group that will find the bank's next CEO following the resignation of Charles O. Prince.




"A lawyer by training, Parsons got his start working as an aide in New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller's office. He became CEO in 2002 after Levin quit amid record losses tied to the combination of Time Warner and America Online, and added the role of chairman a year later when AOL founder Steve Case left.

"As CEO, Parsons cut costs and jobs at Time Inc. in response to shrinking ad sales at the publishing division. He fended off pressure last year from billionaire Carl Icahn to break up the company by agreeing to buy back shares, and he sparked growth at the cable unit, the company's fastest-growing division for 14 quarters, with the acquisition of Adelphia territories."

The replacement of Parsons, the highest-ranking African American in a publicly traded media company, follows by a week the ouster of Stanley O'Neal at Merrill Lynch. Some black columnists who commented on O'Neal's ouster noted a January 2002 Newsweek cover featuring Parsons, O'Neal and Ken Chenault of American Express that carried the legend, "The New Black Power."

But the columnists differed over the significance of the latest developments to black power or to race in general.

"There are still only five total African-American CEOs in the Fortune 500, according to Black Enterprise magazine," Clarence Page noted last Wednesday in the Chicago Tribune. "That's a setback, but the success of these pioneers is a sign that history is moving in the right direction."

"The emergence of these black Fortune 100 executives was indeed historic, but the real watershed moment is now — and whether corporate leadership opportunities for other African Americans and ethnic minorities continue," Stan Simpson wrote Saturday in the Hartford Courant. "Here's the deal when it comes to folks of color who ascend to lead roles in the workplace: Their success is overly magnified, but so too are their shortcomings. When they fail it can result in white managers' being less inclined to hire and promote outside their race."

In the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson related the men's rise to the purpose of affirmative action:

"What's really significant is that there is a Stan O'Neal. And a Dick Parsons," he wrote a week ago. "And a Ken Chenault, the African American CEO of American Express, who is staying put, far as I know. And a Bob Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, widely acknowledged as the first African American billionaire.

"Just two or three generations removed from slavery, they rose to control big chunks of the American economy. They attained Master of the Universe status by being smarter and tougher than their peers — and now a much bigger cohort of black corporate executives is coming up behind them.

"It just goes to show what happens when you open a door."

Syndicated columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson agreed, but with a caveat.

"Fifty companies appear on Fortune Magazineâ??s list of corporations with the best track record for diversity. Minorities made up almost 21 percent of their boardrooms in 2003, compared with 11 percent two years earlier. The figures almost certainly have edged up even more since then," he wrote.

"But for every one of the 50 corporations that makes diversity more than a buzz word, there are dozens more that pat themselves on the back for having one Latino, Asian or African American on their board, or for hiring a handful in lower-level management positions."

In February, Parsons said on CNN's "In the Money" that Time Warner was "redoubling" its diversity efforts but that "the place where we have the most difficulty is among our journalists."

Paula Zahn asked Parsons, "Are you satisfied when you look around at your own company? Basically our newsroom, when you look behind me?"

Parsons replied: "The answer is no, I'm not satisfied. So we're sort of redoubling our efforts. Although we've done . . . probably as much as any major diversified media company in America . . . the pace of change has still been slow. Interestingly enough, the place where we have the most difficulty is among our journalists."

"Why do you think that is?" Zahn asked.

"I think because to a real extent, journalism is like priesthood, and certain experiences and schoolings and schools that you have to go to become a member of the club. And so, again, you have that pipeline problem. We have a number of people who are sort of moving up, who went to the right schools and had the right experiences. But it is breaking down those barriers that existed that aren't even necessarily intentionally constructed, but it is the way things were.

"When you're looking for new journalists, people that are looking go out and find, replicate themselves. They try to find folks that went to the same schools, same orientation, the same sort of prior experiences. And if — if you don't have enough, in this case, minorities who had those experiences, they simply come back and say, I can't find qualified candidates. What we've done, we put a big focus on hiring people who can put the lie to that myth."

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Pakistan Escalates Efforts to Silence Press

"Pakistan's government has escalated its efforts since the weekend to silence the press by harassing journalists, attempting to shut down printing presses, and ordering that articles critical of the government be altered, Pakistani journalists told CPJ," the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Monday.

"According to news editors at the Urdu-language Daily Ausaf in Islamabad and at the Express in Lahore, the papers were given written orders from officials to alter articles critical of the government that were to appear today. In Quetta, police tried to stop staff and video photographers of the independent station ARY One World TV. In Karachi, police were unable to stop the printing of a special supplement of the daily Awam, owned by the English-language Daily Jang, part of the larger Jang Group of media companies, after they had entered the paper's press room. There was no violence, and police apparently backed down after meeting with resistance from the paper's employees, according to newsroom staff.

"Opposition groups claim that 3,500 lawyers, members of the political opposition, and human rights groups have been detained since Saturday, but the government has said the number is about half that. There have been no reports of widespread journalist detentions despite rumors of an imminent crackdown."

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"Dog the Bounty Hunter" Pulled Indefinitely

"Two days after a tape surfaced with network star Duane 'Dog' Chapman repeatedly using the n-word, A&E said Friday afternoon that it was pulling all episodes of 'Dog The Bounty Hunter' from the air," Steve Donohue reported Friday for Multichannel News.

"In evaluating the circumstances of the last few days, A&E has decided to take 'Dog The Bounty Hunter' off the network's schedule for the foreseeable future," A&E said in prepared statement. "We hope that Mr. Chapman continues the healing process that he has begun."

"A&E suspended Chapman last Wednesday, after the National Enquirer posted an audio clip of Chapman on his Web site using the n-word. 'Dog,' which debuted on A&E in 2004, was one of the first reality shows A&E added to its schedule.

"On the audiotape, Chapman is heard using the n-word several times in a telephone conversation with his son Tucker. Chapman expresses his displeasure that Tucker is dating an African American, warning that she could jeopardize the show if she overhears Chapman and his team using the n-word.

"'I don't care if she's a Mexican, a whore, whatever. It's not because she's black. It's because we use the word n----- sometimes here,' Chapman tells his son. "I'm not going to take a chance ever in life of losing everything I've worked for 30 years because some fuâ??ing n---- heard us saying n-----."

"The Associated Press reported on Friday that Tucker Chapman taped the phone call with his father, and sold it to the Enquirer."

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Short Takes:

  • The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran extensive multimedia coverage on Sunday, in print and online, to highlight the 40th anniversary of the day Carl Stokes was elected Cleveland's mayor. He became the first black mayor of a major U.S. city. (Richard Hatcher was elected mayor of less-populous Gary, Ind., the same day.) Among those who worked on the project were Margaret Bernstein, Phillip Morris and April McClellan-Copeland. Karl Turner was its editor. "I have an exclusive story on research conducted by that links Carl Stokes' ancestors to the Georgia families that owned them. It's particularly interesting in light of the fact that Stokes, the grandson of a slave, defeated the grandson of a U.S. president (Seth Taft) to win the mayor's job," Bernstein told Journal-isms.



  • "Veteran Ch. 41 anchor Denisse Oller is leaving the Univision station after a 20-year run," Michael Starr reported Saturday in the New York Post. 'It's very amicable' Oller told The Post yesterday. Oller has worked for both Univision and competitor Telemundo since 1986 on both the national and local levels. Oller said she's creating 'a multi-media company' that will include Internet, TV, print and radio components."
  • "After five years of showcasing Houston's professional African-American community, Onyx Style magazine is ceasing publication with its November/December issue, which hits stands today," Joy Sewing reported Sunday in the Houston Chronicle. "Editor and publisher Caleen Burton-Allen says she's closing the magazine to pursue her media relations and crisis-management consulting business. The quarterly publication, which had a circulation of 75,000, featured interviews with celebrities, profiles of homes, society news and travel pieces."
  • At the San Antonio Express-News, "14 individuals in the newsroom and one individual in Commentary have signed paperwork to accept the buyout," Editor Robert Rivard told staffers on Friday. "One of those individuals in the newsroom has since backed out, while today, yet another individual came forward to request a buyout. There conceivably could be more such activity as people weigh serious career decisions. The effective date of departure for individuals who do decide to leave the Express-News will be Sunday, Nov. 18."
  • Debra L. Lee, chairman and chief executive of BET, met recently with the Rev. Delman L. Coates, who is leading protesters outside her Washington home, and said she remained baffled by what it would take for him to end the rallies, Felicia R. Lee reported Monday in the New York Times. "What I took away from it, he wants to program the network," the executive said. "Rev. Coates is not the final arbiter of taste in the black community," she added.
  • In Philadelphia, "Fox 29 reporter Tom Burlington recently cleaned out his desk as his contract at the station is set to expire at year's end, we're told. Burlington has been suspended since July after repeatedly using the N-word during a news meeting, which we reported July 5," Dan Gross wrote Monday in the Philadelphia Daily News.
  • "In the wake of the Duke lacrosse case, the policy of not identifying sex crime accusers is under review at The N&O, Public Editor Ted Vaden wrote Sunday in the Raleigh News & Observer. "An internal committee is looking at issues such as whether accusers should be identified or, if not, whether the accused also should be shielded." In April, sexual assault and kidnapping charges were dropped against three former Duke University lacrosse players. Until then, the newspaper had not named the accuser.



  • Tunku Varadarajan, assistant managing editor at the Wall Street Journal, has been appointed clinical professor of business at the New York University Stern School of Business, the school announced on Oct. 29. At the Journal, "he also served as the editorial features, or op-ed, editor, as well as chief television and media critic. Previously, he worked as an editorial writer for The Times of London, as well as its bureau chief in both Madrid and New York City. He currently serves as a contributing editor at the Financial Times," the school said in his bio.
  • The National Council of Women's Organizations announced the creation of the Mal Johnson Sisterhood Program, to provide a paid fellowship, or sister-ship, for young women of color at NCWO. It honors Johnson, a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists and first woman reporter hired by Cox Radio and Television, the Feminist Daily News Wire reported on Thursday. Johnson died Oct. 27 at age 85.
  • "Here's the funny thing about the interview Etan Thomas conducted recently at," Washington Post sportswriter Ivan Carter wrote Oct. 24 on his Wizards Insider blog on "Etan ripped myself and John Mitchell of the Washington Times for writing false information but in doing so, he provided false information. Unreal." Carter went on to "set the record straight" about his coverage of the Washington Wizards center, who is out indefinitely after undergoing open-heart surgery.
  • "In the history of journalism, Vivian Aplin-Brownlee is remembered because she saw clean through Janet Cooke and her notorious fake Washington Post story about an eight-year-old heroin addict," Patrice Gaines wrote Thursday in the Washington Informer. "In my personal history, she will always be a woman who reached out a hand and lifted me up," she wrote, describing how Aplin-Brownlee maneuvered to get Gaines hired at the Post. Aplin-Brownlee died on Oct. 20 at age 61 of complications from leukemia.
  • At the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, "I still get messages from readers who say that my joining the board gave The Post too many black columnists," editorial writer Elisa Cramer wrote on Friday. "But I consider it a compliment when those same readers mistake me" for Stebbins Jefferson, the columnist who died Oct. 27 at age 71. "She was not interested in celebrity, but whether she knew it or not, she was a hero for my generation and for a generation of local African-Americans who still remember when they were hardly written about by this newspaper and not allowed to write for it."
  • Cathy Straight, USA Today national editor, is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame Friday at her alma mater, the School of Mass Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern Mississippi. Along with the induction, the school is holding its first symposium, "Social Justice and the News," featuring Ronnie Agnew, executive editor of the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger.

Editor Apologizes, Seeks Better Community Ties

The Indianapolis Star, after making a public apology at a community news conference over racial remarks made by an ousted black editorial writer, will look for diversity in filling three vacancies at the paper and work to improve its damaged community ties, Editor Dennis Ryerson told Journal-isms.



"Newspapers in most communities are referred to by readers with these words: 'Our newspaper,'" Ryerson wrote to the Star staff on Thursday. "You don't hear that reference to The Star in Indy's black communities. We must do better."

As reported on Wednesday, the Star ousted editorial writer RiShawn Biddle five days after he wrote a racially charged blog posting blasting the city and county council president. Both Biddle and the politician are African American.

Riddle's blog entry was titled, "The Indianapolis Black Democrat minstrel show," and originally made references to "coons." The editorial writer sent e-mails alerting readers to the posting.

It read in part, according to blogger Ruth Holladay, "Then there's the embarrassing spectacle that is Monroe Gray, whose tenure as city-county council president is being marked by a lack of decorum during council sessions, the videos of himself on YouTube and responses to allegations of corruption that wouldn't be acceptable to a child who claimed his dog ate the homework. His act, more Zip Coon than honorable statesman, epitomizes the lack of seriousness some Black politicians show in their work; it's just inexcusable."

Ryerson acknowledged that the Star was at fault for allowing Biddle to post directly to the Internet. "They're supposed to have things reviewed by an editor. It was not applied in this case. But it was clearly communicated" that "We don't use that language," Ryerson told Journal-isms.

Riddle himself changed the wording a number of times, but the damage was done.

"Black politicians got together yesterday," Amos Brown, WTLC-AM radio host and Indianapolis Recorder columnist, told Journal-isms after Thursday's news conference. "They considered what RaShawn posted to be the last straw" regarding "the Star's negative portrayals of African Americans." He said Biddle's posting would have been considered fair comment had he not used the word "coon."



Brown said the politicians scheduled a news conference Thursday morning in Martin Luther King Park, where they and other community leaders demanded an apology from the newspaper.

"'Words clearly can be as violent as a pistol blow. It hurts people,' said Dennis Hayes, interim NAACP national president," Sandra Chapman reported for WTHR-TV. Hayes, who is from Indianapolis, was in the city as the NAACP joined a racial discrimination case against Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co., as the Associated Press reported.

"Star editor and vice president Dennis Ryerson stood in agreement with [the] NAACP and with regret," Chapman's report continued. "'I apologize for the remarks that are posted on our Web site,' he said. 'That remark has been removed. All of that individual's postings have been removed. We disassociate ourselves from those comments. We do so vigorously. . . . our standards were communicated. The person is no longer with the newspaper.'"

State Rep. Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, "challenged the Star, urging leadership to hold additional staffers accountable and not make Biddle what he called the sacrificial lamb."

When Ryerson returned to the newspaper, he sent a note to the staff stating that he had apologized at the rally and that Biddle's comments "were hugely detrimental to our efforts to promote a civil and constructive community conversation. The Star is a community leader, and we surely must live by what we expect of others," the note said.


"We must redouble our efforts to ensure fair and balanced coverage," he continued. "We must be an advocate for those who don't have advocates. We must ensure that when we write stories and profile leading contributors to community successes, we include all of our communities. We must be a leader in promoting thoughtful, smart, sensitive and civil discussions of critical issues, including issues of racism and bigotry."

Ryerson told Journal-isms he would seek diversity in filling the editorial writing vacancy and two others: that of metro editor and news editor in charge of the night operation.

Brown, who is also director of strategic research for Radio One/Indianapolis, said on his radio show that the Star should apologize for the racial remarks just as radio host Don Imus and comedian Michael Richards had elsewhere. He told Journal-isms the newspaper "has always had a problem hiring and retaining qualified African Americans." Moreover, "we know the Star is there, but the Star under Gannett really hasn't bonded with the community."

Describing Indianapolis as "a big small town," Brown said it was important for the newspaper to sponsor community events and for its editors to get out into the city. Some Star journalists who did so, such as James Patterson, Courteney Edelhart and the late Lynn Ford, are no longer at the paper, he said.

Moreover, a Star policy that forbids reporters from accepting awards from community groups creates another barrier, Brown said. He said Star reporters could not even receive an award named after Ford, who died in 2002, that is presented by Indiana Black Expo and the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists.

That might be a misunderstanding.

"I wasn't even aware of this," Ryerson told Journal-isms. "IABJ is a journalism organization and of course this isn't even an issue! I'm pleased that they are recognizing him! Amos, and I like him, has consistently misconstrued our rule. We've always said that awards from journalism [groups] are welcome and appreciated."

However, he said, "We don't as a rule accept 'journalism' awards from community organizations. It's my view that organizations give these awards to promote more coverage or 'favorable' coverage of their special interest. I don't want to send the message that we need awards to cover the news fairly."

An exception: "We certainly want to encourage community involvement, and if a staffer is engaged in some community project and therefore gets an award, that is fine with us."

Meanwhile, the Indianapolis blogosphere continued to discuss Biddle and the Star, with some bloggers saying it was inappropriate for Ryerson to attend the rally, as it was originally a Democratic Party political event.

Nationally, Roger Ailes, which also happens to be the name of the chairman of Fox News, said on his blog that Biddle had been a "failed blogger." "Return to the wingnutosphere, Mr. Biddle," this Ailes wrote on his site, which notes that it is "Not affiliated with Fox News Channel or any other houses of ill-repute."

"You'll soon be rolling in . . . thousands of comments about how unfair it is that white folks — and conservatives— just can't use some perfectly good words." This Roger Ailes appears not to be the same one who runs Fox News.

Steve Jefferson, a crime reporter at WTHR-TV who is president of the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists, said he expected to return to Brown's radio show, where he regularly appears, "hopefully to start a dialogue so it will be a learning time.

"We don't want any more Mr. Biddles to think they can say anything about someone of the same race because they are of the same race," Jefferson said.

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Detroit TV Reporter Writes About His "Turning White"

"For a while, Lee Thomas admits, he was an 'angry spotted guy,'" Julie Hinds wrote Wednesday in the Detroit Free Press.

"The Fox 2 (WJBK-TV) reporter, who's known for his upbeat entertainment coverage, is usually a happy-go-lucky presence on the air.

"But a few years ago, Thomas was hit hard by the progression of a disorder called vitiligo, which destroys some or all of the pigmentation that gives skin its color.

"A low point came while he was doing a story where preschool kids tested out a new playscape. When a little girl stared at his hands, which had turned about half white but were dotted with splotches of his natural brown color, she burst into tears.

"The moment stuck with him. After he finished work, 'I went home, I washed my face and I just sat there for thirty minutes, just trying to get it together,' says Thomas. He thought to himself, 'Wow, you scare small children.'

"These days, Thomas, who's 40, talks about that incident like someone who's arrived at a good place but who doesn't want to forget the road he's traveled to get there.

"His new book, 'Turning White: A Memoir of Change' ($14.95, Momentum Books), is an intimate look at his journey since his diagnosis during the mid-1990s.

". . . Thomas wears makeup at work so his skin won't distract interview subjects and viewers. 'If they're wondering what's up with this guy's face, that means they didn't hear 30 seconds of what I'm saying,' he explains.

"Off the clock, he goes without makeup, which suits his active gym-going lifestyle and his personality. . . . He describes it as a tough choice at first. People would stop in their tracks and stare or exclaim things like, 'Oh my God.' He avoided going to parties, because alcohol made people more talkative about his skin. 'I can't tell you how many times I've been at a party when a guy will come over and go, "Hey man, you're almost as white as me." OK, that was funny the first 20 times.'"

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Racists Flock to Online Stories About Race

In the online comments section below any newspaper commentary by an African American staff columnist, one can usually find racist or clueless remarks, even if only of the "there you go again, writing about race" variety. But that's not the only place those comments thrive, Tim Post reported Wednesday for Minnesota Public Radio.

"It's the hot-button issues like politics, abortion and crime, that really fire people up in Story Chat on the St. Cloud Times Web site," Post wrote.

"But when the site carries a story that has anything to do with race, the comments pour in even faster, resulting in hundreds of postings in a few hours. Visitors, who aren't required to offer their real names on screen, often trade messages littered with racial stereotypes.

"Some worry those comments make the community look bad. In fact, it's an issue that St. Cloud State University professor [Malcolm] Nazareth brought up at a recent public hearing on racial profiling in St. Cloud.

"When the story about that racial profiling hearing hit the St. Cloud Times Web site just a few hours later, the response was no surprise. Within 24 hours, there were nearly 800 postings, many with their usual fervor."

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Coalition Prods FCC on Minority Ownership

A coalition of organizations of color Thursday asked the Federal Communications Commission to create "an independent task force to conduct a specific inquiry into the impact of market concentration on female and minority ownership before moving forward with issuing any new ownership rules for broadcast media.

"On its face, the Commission's movement toward eliminating media ownership limits appears to severely undercut its statutory and moral obligation to promote minority ownership of broadcast stations," the groups said. "The failure of the FCC to even acknowledge this contradiction is deeply troubling, and this letter is intended to highlight the problem and propose a course of action.We appreciate that you are open to the idea of creating a task force to thoroughly study the policy goal of promoting minority ownership of broadcast stations. But we are alarmed by recent reports indicating that you will not wait until the work of such a task force is completed before issuing new rules that may permit further media consolidation. This is not acceptable. An uninformed rush to eliminate ownership limits may set back the expansion of minority ownership by a generation and leave us little recourse."

According to, racial and ethnic minorities make up 33 percent of the U.S. population, yet own only 7.7 percent of full-power radio stations and 3.26 percent of television stations.

Signing the letter are Rainbow PUSH, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the National Council of La Raza, the Asian American Justice Center, the Hip Hop Caucus, the National Congress of Black Women, Native Public Media, National Institute for Latino Policy, Urban League, Industry Ears, League of United Latin American Citizens, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Independent Spanish Broadcasters Association, Black Leadership Forum, Cuban American National Council, Latino Literacy Now, National Association of Hispanic Publications, National Association of Latino Independent Producers, Latino Gerontological Center and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.

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Bailey Killing Looks Like Hundreds of Others

"The brazen daylight murder of Chauncey Bailey may seem like an aberration because it happened in the United States," Frank Smyth, journalist security coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, wrote Wednesday for the committee. "But his case looks a lot like the hundreds of other journalist slayings that have occurred around the world in the past 15 years. Much like Bailey, most journalists killed on the job are local reporters digging into corruption and crime. Bailey was by all accounts fearless in pursuing such stories.

"'Chauncey didn't believe in alluding to anything,' his publisher, Paul Cobb, told CPJ in an interview at the offices of the Oakland Post. 'He went right to it.'

"Moreover, the murder of a journalist in the United States, though rare over the past decade, is not as unusual as one might think. (Two U.S. journalists were among those who died while on duty in 2001: one in the World Trade Center attacks and the other in an anthrax attack.) Between 1976 and 1993, 12 journalists were assassinated in the United States. Ten out of the 12 were immigrant journalists reporting in their first language (Vietnamese, French, Chinese, or Spanish) to immigrant communities, and all but a few of those murders remain unsolved."

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Amy Goodman Presses On Despite Bell's Palsy

"Bell's palsy. It hit suddenly a month ago," Amy Goodman, host of Pacifica Radio's "Democracy, Now!" wrote in her column Wednesday for King Features Syndicate.

"I had just stepped off a plane in New York, and my friend noticed the telltale sagging lip. It felt like Novocain. I raced to the emergency room. The doctors prescribed a weeklong course of steroids and antivirals. The following day it got worse. I had to make a decision: Do I host 'Democracy Now!,' our daily news broadcast, on Monday? I could speak perfectly well, and I'm tired of seeing women (and men) on TV who look like they just stepped off the set of 'Dynasty.' Maybe if they see a person they trust to deliver the news, still there, but just looking a little lopsided, it might change their view of friends and family —or strangers, for that matter — who are struggling with some health issue.

"Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia anyone can edit, stated that I had suffered a stroke. So on Tuesday I decided to tell viewers and listeners that I was suffering from a temporary bout of Bell's palsy, that it wasn't painful and that "the doctors tell me I will be back to my usual self in the next few weeks. In the meantime, it just makes it a little harder to smile. But so does the world."

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Graves Says Blacks Should Stop Defaming Selves

Black Enterprise magazine founder Earl G. Graves Sr. didn't have much to say publicly after he pulled the plug on foul-mouthed comedian Eddie Griffin over the Labor Day weekend at the 14th Annual Black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge.

But Graves devoted his column to the incident Monday on

"Today, we live in a society happy to watch black people denigrate themselves, a culture that sees such self-denigration as a form of entertainment—and a lucrative one at that," Graves wrote. "The worst, most profane and self-destructive of the black community are celebrated in comedy, music, television, and film in the name of 'keeping it real.' Worse, not only do too few of us stand up against the public defamation of black people, too many of us defend such defamation and engage in it ourselves. It has been noted, and is worth repeating, that this is true of no other race or ethnic group in America.

"I say: Enough is enough! So long as we permit the celebration of ignorance over intelligence and profit from the desecration of our time-honored values and traditions—allowing a culture of gold teeth, sagging pants, disdain for education, disrespect for women, glorification of criminality, low ambition, and irresponsible sexual behavior to be regarded as authentically black—we are destined to march back into the margins of society, into the shadows that so many heroes and heroines of our history fought so hard to escape."

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Short Takes



  • "Nearly six months after KOMO/4 management fired three veteran reporters, one of them is seeking her day in court," Melanie McFarland wrote Thursday in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "According to documents filed in King County Superior Court on Monday, former North Puget Sound reporter April Zepeda is suing her former employer, Fisher Communications Inc., for discrimination based on race and age. 'The station fired the only Hispanic woman it had,' said Zepeda's attorney, Lori Haskell, in a phone interview."

  • Diedtra Henderson, who has covered the Food and Drug Administration for the business section of the Boston Globe out of its Washington bureau, is leaving for a public relations job with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which represents leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies. "My Business reporting position in Washington, DC, was eliminated and the Globe moved me to Boston to cover media, marketing and advertising," Henderson told Journal-isms. "So far, the beat has been great. I report to Kevin Galvin, one of the paper's strongest editors. My stories have gotten a good ride with spirited reax from readers. Still, for a number of reasons, I would strongly prefer to remain in the DC market. I leave print journalism after more than 20 years with no regrets."
  • Gary Lee, travel writer for the Washington Post, left the


  • newspaper on Friday after 22 years. "I will be 1) working on a book about the evolution of African American and Native American culture in my home state of Oklahoma. And 2) Joining as a partner and shaper of Las Canteras (, a Peruvian restaurant in Adams Morgan a friend of mine opened a few months ago," he told Journal-isms. Lee joined the Post in 1985 as Moscow bureau chief. He was born into a family of Native Americans and African Americans, and is a nephew of Anita Hill, hosting her in 1991 when she came to Washington for the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings after his nomination for the Supreme Court.
  • "Trabian Shorters, a social entrepreneur who has led in the start-up of half a dozen capacity-building networks, will become Vice President/Communities Program at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, pending approval by the foundation's trustees," the foundation announced on Friday. "As vice president of the foundation's communities program, Shorters will oversee a staff of 18 and direct grant investments in the 26 communities where Knight Foundation operates locally."
  • Ed Fletcher, acting chairman of the Sacramento Newspaper Guild and a seven-year reporter at the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, "believes former Sacramento Bee Editor Rick Rodriguez left abruptly two weeks ago, at least in part, over a dispute related to control of non-news Web sites. His sudden exit has never been fully explained. Melanie Sill was named as his replacement this week," Joe Strupp reported Thursday in Editor & Publisher. Fletcher "says talks with several staffers lead him to believe Rodriguez had wanted the newsroom to have more say in non-news Web activities, such as new sites related to motherhood, pets, and wine."



  • Dennis Richmond, news anchor of "The Ten O'Clock News" on KTVU-TV in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1976, is retiring in May, Richmond confirmed to Journal-isms on Friday. "It will mark almost exactly 40 years to the day from the time I started," he said. In 1969, while working for the station as a part-time clerk-typist, Richmond won a scholarship to the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at Columbia University, a predecessor of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. He returned to the station after completing the program.
  • "The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Arab American Journalists Association (NAAJA) are joining forces to create a special sub-group within SPJ for Arab-Americans," Joe Strupp reported Wednesday for Editor & Publisher. "Specifically, SPJ will create a special 'membership section' for Arab-Americans that will be devoted to issues affecting that group and could become a prototype for other sub-groups."
  • "The major broadcast networks have made big strides in the portrayal of Latinos in primetime, but still lag behind when it comes to images of Asian Americans and American Indians. That's the latest findings from the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition, which released its seventh annual diversity report card Tuesday," Michael Schneider reported Tuesday in Variety. What the report doesn't do, Eric Deggans wrote Wednesday on his St. Petersburg Times blog, "is tell you very many specific figures, though every network but Fox provides detailed information on diversity figures for their analysis. So there's no way to know what amount of roles for Latino actors led the National Latino Media Council to give ABC an A grade this year (though Emmy wins for the Latino-led series Ugly Betty . . . , probably helped)."



  • CNN anchor Betty Nguyen returned to Vietnam in 1998 for the first time since 1975, when her parents fled the Communist takeover, and has since returned annually with aid for the Vietnamese, Christopher Quinn wrote Thursday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Nguyen and her mother, Kim, started a nonprofit organization, Help the Hungry. "I would look at the faces, would look at the people about my age, and I would think, 'Wow, that could be me.' Except for the grace of God that I was able to come to this country," Betty Nguyen said.
  • Radio station WBOK in New Orleans held its official launch of its new talk radio format Thursday, returning black talk radio to the city, the New Orleans Agenda newsletter reported on Friday. Drive-time hosts are C. J. Morgan, 6 a.m. - 10 a.m., and Paul Beaulieu, 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. The station is owned by the Bakewell Media Co., whose principals, Danny Bakewell Sr. and Danny Bakewell Jr., are native New Orleanians. They also own the Los Angeles Sentinel, which is said to be the largest black-owned newspaper in the western United States.
  • "For print magazines, the rush is on to move content onto the web ahead of their readers, lest they lose them to other print or online-only competitors, and that's doubly so for Hispanic print titles," Heidi Dawley wrote Tuesday in Medialife magazine. "Just in recent months, leading titles like People En Español have significantly boosted their online content, and more are headed in the same direction."
  • Keith Jenkins, picture editor of the Washington Post for the past two years, was named multimedia director at the newspaper on Friday. "Keith will be responsible for developing a newsroom wide plan to coordinate multimedia (photography, graphics, video and audio) assignments, production and presentation in conjunction with the multimedia department" at, wrote Michel du Cille, assistant managing editor for photography. "This will include a step-by-step process for creating multimedia, on a daily basis, in The Washington Post newsroom."
  • Tracy Humphrey, weekend weathercaster for the last four years at



  • WNYW-TV, the Fox affiliate in New York, is joining KPIX-TV in San Francisco as a weather anchor for the early news at 5 to 7 a.m., and at noon.

  • Students at 10 Arizona high schools will soon have access to journalism programs, thanks to a $510,000 Stardust Foundation grant to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, Amanda Chan reported Oct. 24 for the Arizona Republic. "The Cronkite school will use the money to create the Stardust High School Journalism Program in underdeveloped communities to spark student interest in journalism, said Kristin Gilger, assistant dean of the school."
  • Craig Franklin, the assistant editor of the Jena (La.) Times, "failed to make a full disclosure" in his widely circulated opinion piece on "myths" about the Jena Six in the Oct. 24 edition of the Christian Science Monitor, Monroe Anderson wrote Monday on "Vested interests and conflicts of interest seem familiar to the Franklin family and the Jena Times. So, naturally, he had no interest in noting that there are no black lawyers in town. Or that Jena, which he claims in his myth piece, 'is a wonderful place for both whites and blacks,' has no black doctors and only one black employee in the town's half-dozen banks."
  • "The appearance of Bryant Purvis and Carwin Jones," two members of the Jena Six, "at the BET Hip-Hop Awards a couple of weeks ago caused a ruckus heard 'round the blogosphere and beyond," Terry Glover wrote Monday on "The Jena two were snapped on the red carpet decked out in jeans, side-cocked caps and dooky ropes, flashing the number '6' like a gang sign. Like a punch to the gut, those pictures knocked the wind out of the support behind the teens."
  • In Europe, freelance journalist Billy Briggs has been awarded first prize in a journalism competition to promote diversity, according to the Web site Nominated for the national European Union "Diversity Against Discrimination" Journalist Award, his article "Pursued by Prejudice," was originally published in August in the newspaper Scotland on Sunday. It looked closely at the discrimination that travelling Roma people, also known as Gypsies, face in Scotland and across Europe.

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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