Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Al Sharpton a No-Show for Unity Interview

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Sunday, April 13, 2003

Sharpton a No-Show for Unity Interview

Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton missed a scheduled appearance with young minority journalists Friday under puzzling and yet-to-be explained circumstances, the Associated Press reports.

"Forum organizers said aides to the New York preacher told them he couldn't make it because two US Airways shuttle flights to Washington were canceled. But the airline says both flights left on time from New York's LaGuardia Airport.

?Sharpton, one of nine Democrats seeking the presidential nomination, was supposed to attend a luncheon and then sit for a 1 p.m. interview with scholars in the UNITY: Journalists of Color program," AP reports.

CNN Scored for Silence on Hussein Atrocities

?An admission by CNN's chief news executive that he kept quiet for years about government atrocities in Iraq -- including those against his own journalists -- raised questions about whether CNN committed an ethical transgression: trading silence for access,? reports Peter Johnson in USA Today.

"In The New York Times Friday, Eason Jordan wrote that CNN never reported that an Iraqi cameraman working for CNN was tortured because it ''would have almost certainly have gotten him killed and put him or his family and co-workers at grave risk.''

"He also wrote that he never reported that Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, had told him in 1995 that he planned to kill two of his brothers-in-law who had defected as well as the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. ''I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting,'' Jordan wrote. (He did tell King Hussein, who ignored it, and a few months later Uday 'lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad; they were soon killed.')

'' 'I'm disturbed by (Jordan's actions). It really took the wind out of me,' Bill Kovach, head of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, said Sunday. 'There were probably strategic business decisions about CNN's relationship with the government, but this seems to me to be allowing the ethics of other endeavors to trump the ethics of journalism: to seek the truth and make it available.' ''

Eason Jordan column, "The News We Kept to Ourselves"

Letters to the editor

Don't Fashion Journalists Do Journalism?

Last week, the Council of Fashion Designers of America acknowledged Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley's "willfully outrageous style and his contributions to fashion, naming him recipient of this year's Eugenia Sheppard award for fashion journalism," reports the New York Times.

But Sunday's story in the Times, coming as Talley's memoir, "A.L.T." (Villard), is released, is all about how Talley has become "a fashion pooh-bah" and " one of fashion's most voluble cheerleaders" and nothing about the journalism Talley has produced.

Writer-Friendly Bookstore in Philly to Close

Writers who thank Philadelphia bookseller Lecia Warner for their careers are rallying around Warner and Basic Black Books, considered one of the few black-owned bookstores in the nation that nurtures and fosters fledgling novelists, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

The store, which had gotten behind in rent, faces closure, after years as an alternative outlet for readers and as an asset for authors striving for an audience.

The story recalls how former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Karen E. Quinones Miller self-published 3,000 copies of her first novel and was looking for a chance as an author. She, like many other black writers, got that chance at Basic Black Books.

Miller organized a lunchtime rally last week hoping to change the property manager's mind.

MBC Seeking Cable Systems, Reporters

Though industry analysts say it usually costs at least $200 million to start a network, the Major Broadcasting Cable Network can start MBC News with $30 million to $40 million, principal Willie Gary tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Gary and his partners plan to fund it and aren't looking for outside investors, he told the newspaper.

"Even if they bankroll the network, though, they still have to persuade cable operators to carry it and advertisers to buy commercials -- the two sources of revenue for most networks," the story says.

News Director Greg Morrison, 53, "who has worked for NBC News, CNN and BET, said the start-up schedule is grueling -- but worth it.

" 'I've been given a blank sheet of paper to start something new,' said Morrison. As he spoke, he washed Aleve down with Dunkin' Donuts coffee. The stress, and the foam pillows at the StudioPlus extended-stay hotel, were getting to him.

"A handful of employees from Florida News Channel, including [anchor Val] Bracy's co-anchor, Gordon Graham, are also working on the show. Morrison is frantically hiring free-lancers and trying to strike partnerships with local newscasts to share programming. He even plans to visit journalism classes at a nearby college, seeking interns who'll work for free.

"As the folks in Tallahassee practiced for the newscast, Samara Cummins was on the road. Her job is to persuade cable operators to carry MBC and now MBC News. Cummins needs a minimum of 5 million homes for MBC News to launch. That means getting at least one cable company to add the network in at least a handful of cities."

Success With Diversity Begins With Frame of Mind

"Believing it is possible is the first step in recruiting minority reporters and editors, says a newspaper editor whose program now finds more candidates than it can hire," begins an Associated Press report on a diversity panel at last week's convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in New Orleans.

"The first thing is to be open to the idea that there are lots of potential candidates, a lot of potential journalists in minority communities," John Thomson, deputy managing editor of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, said. "Once you do that, we found they suddenly appear."

"Thomson, among members of a panel about how to attract and keep minority journalists and readers, said he found that talking to high-school assemblies and college groups wasn't nearly as effective as building a network between the staff and community."

ASNE Protests Castro Crackdown

The American Society of Newspapers Editors has protested to Cuban President Fidel Castro that Cuba's recent crackdown on independent journalists and dissidents is "a crushing setback" to the country's growing openness and tolerance of dissent, the Associated Press reports.

"We are especially disturbed by the current show trials staged to somehow legitimize the imprisonment of the country's leading independent journalists," ASNE's leadership wrote Castro. "These summary affairs ended quickly and predictably with trumped up verdicts of guilt and harsh prison sentences. The process makes a mockery of Cuban justice and due process."

The ASNE letter, signed by outgoing President Diane H. McFarlin and five other officials, urged immediate amnesty for more than 28 independent journalists who were prosecuted.

Text of letter

Black Memphis Paper Ran Plagiarized Story

The East Bay Express, based in Emeryville, Calif., says writer Larry Reeves plagiarized its story about a young black man who served years in jail after being busted by one of the notorious gang of Oakland cops who called themselves the Riders. Reeves wrote it for the Tri-State Defender in Memphis, a stalwart among the black press.

"The Defender's story was a cut-down version of the original, but was otherwise identical, except that the 'reporter' swapped Nashville for Oakland and eliminated any mention of Alameda County when talking about the district attorney's office.

"When alerted last week to the stolen story, the Defender's new publisher and editor, Marzie Thomas, expressed shock and surprise. Thomas, who was named the paper's chief in January, described Reeves as a freelancer and vowed to banish him from the paper."

Leslie Matthews, "Mr. 1-2-5- Street," Dies at 82

In his more than four decades as a reporter and columnist for the New York Amsterdam News, Leslie Alexander Matthews, known as "Mr. 1-2-5 Street," never took a vacation," writes Merle English in Newsday.

"Even when illness forced him to give up the job to which he devoted roughly half of his life, he was still asking for his press card and to be dressed to go to work, Zambga Browne, a colleague, said.

"Matthews died [April 3] at Metropolitan Hospital in Harlem. He was 82. He had been ailing since 1985 when he suffered a major stroke while at work. He continued to work from home, but with his health failing, he resigned in April 1987.

"Besides his 'Mr. 1-2-5' column - a mix of news briefs, gossip items and community happenings - Matthews, who joined the News in 1945, wrote a sports column, a 'Marriage-Go-Round' column and a theater column, Browne said.

"Wilbert Tatum, owner of the Amsterdam News, said Matthews 'was among the best in print journalism in this country or any other. He was able, it seems by instinct, to pick up the warp and woof of a community and announce it to the world.' "

Standard on Black-on-Black Atrocities Questioned

New York Daily News columnist Stanley Crouch recalls talking with author Paul Theroux to celebrate Theroux's new book, "Dark Star Safari: Overland From Cairo to Cape Town."

"When Theroux and I talked, he observed that he had noticed something very strange in The New York Times in the last couple of days -- a short Associated Press story about '966 victims [who] were killed in an April 3 assault on the Roman Catholic mission in Drodro and 14 surrounding villages, 50 miles northeast of Bunia, the provincial capital [of the Democratic Republic of the Congo].' Crouch writes.

"Theroux was disturbed because he had seen another story in the same edition -- twice as long, by my word count -- in which great concern was expressed about the declining gorilla and chimpanzee populations of Central Africa; they are being killed off by the Ebola virus and poaching.

"To me, his observation is not about a greater concern for animals than for people. It is about the double standard for oppressive behavior. In other words, if those 966 people had been victims of a white colonial regime as opposed to being victims of tribal warfare, it would be a front-page story," writes Crouch.

Texas A&M J-Dept. May be Cut

Texas A&M?s journalism department ? struggling with high enrollment, low faculty numbers and other problems ? could become the next casualty of university budget cuts, reports the Bryan-College Station Eagle in Bryan, Texas.

"The department is the only one within A&M?s College of Liberal Arts being considered for elimination, Dean Charles Johnson said in a recent meeting with former journalism students. And while most departments in the college face budget cuts next year of 10 to 12 percent, the journalism program stands to lose 40 percent of its funding, Johnson said.

"Johnson said the future of the Department of Journalism remains uncertain. But with state budget cuts looming, he said, A&M is directing money toward high-performing academic programs ? which don?t include journalism," the story reported.

Sex Advice in Ebonics? Campus Paper Shut Down

One of Florida's oldest college newspapers was shut down and the entire editorial staff fired after publishing a profanity-filled April Fools' Day issue that included racist jokes and a sex column advocating rape and domestic violence, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

"Stetson University on Wednesday suspended publication of its student newspaper, The Reporter, for the rest of the school year. Members of its staff said they were given 15 minutes to clear their belongings out of the office as the locks were being changed.

"The Howard Thurman lecture series, designed to promote racial dialogue, was satirized with an article about a racist Civil War enthusiast drinking beer at the podium, and the weekly sex column was written in Ebonics," the Sentinel reported.

Lloyd Brown, Journalist and Robeson Biographer

Lloyd L. Brown, a journalist and novelist who helped Paul Robeson write his autobiography, "Here I Stand," and was an editor at the leftist literary journal New Masses, died at his home in Manhattan on April 1, the New York Times reports. He was 89.

"Published in 1958, 'Here I Stand' chronicled Robeson's career as an actor and advocate, focusing on his demands for equality for African-Americans and on the campaign to silence him in the McCarthy era.

"Mr. Brown had worked with Robeson since 1950 and helped him write his column for Freedom, the Harlem newspaper Robeson founded. Mr. Brown also wrote the biography ?The Young Paul Robeson: On My Journey Now,' published by Westview Press in 1997.

"Born in St. Paul in 1913, Lloyd Louis Brown traveled to Europe as a freelance journalist in the 1930's to report on the antifascist movement. After serving in the Army Air Forces in World War II, he became managing editor of New Masses, a weekly journal that published works by literary figures like Richard Wright, Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison," the Times reported.

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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