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Alabama Cuts Hit Hard at Diversity

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

600 Jobs Lost at Times-Picayune, 3 Other Papers

Buyouts Prompting "the Next Wave of Journalism"

Mark S. Luckie Leaves Washington Post for Twitter

Correspondents of Color Trending at ABC News

Brazilian Journalist Held for Six Days in Syria

Wall St. Journal Writer Out After Affair with Source

Newsweek Spiked Cover of Obama as Trayvon Martin

. . .  Journalists Say the Darndest Things

Anzio Williams Resigns; Tod Smith Moves Back Home

Short Takes

600 Jobs Lost at Times-Picayune, 3 Other Papers

As shocking as the newsroom cuts were Tuesday at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the losses at its sister newspapers in Alabama were greater when factoring in the harm to diversity.

"I'm the only black business writer," Roy Williams of the Birmingham (Ala.) Wednesday's Times-PicayuneNews told Journal-isms by telephone on Wednesday, as he ticked off the losses, including his own job.

"The only two black editors. All five black zone reporters. All three black copy editors. The only black editorial writer, who has been here 30 years.

"It hit us really hard."

Gregory H. Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said in an NABJ statement, "It is truly a sad moment in the industry as my hometown newspaper, the Times-Picayune[,] and the other Newhouse Gulf Coast newspapers have been hit hard." Lee worked in the Times-Picayune sports department from 1993 to 1999. "The lack of diversity that will be suffered in these newsrooms is unacceptable, and will result in more losses for these companies as consumers will go elsewhere to find news that is truly representative of their community," Lee continued. "This digital strategy will have severe impact on access for poor and minority readers in the communities they serve."

NABJ 's statement said, "As part of the organization's initiative, NABJ C.A.R.E.S. (Career, Assistance, Recovery and Employment Search), NABJ is offering registrations to journalists affected by the cuts at these newspapers to attend the Convention & Career Fair. Dozens of companies will be in attendance to recruit for job opportunities." The NABJ convention begins next Wednesday in New Orleans.

Kathy Chow, executive director of the Asian American Journalists Association, said that to her knowledge, no AAJA members were affected.

Asked if members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in Alabama were affected, Roberto Pazos, an NAHJ board member who represents Alabama and nearby states, said, "I do not have that knowledge." The NAHJ Region 5 seat, which serves Louisiana, is vacant.

However, a list of several leaving the paper on a Friends of the Times-Picayune Facebook page included the name of Patricia Gonzalez, according to WWL-TV. Gonzalez had been a layout artist with the paper for nearly 40 years, WDSU-TV reported.

Jaquetta White, a black journalist who was not Roy Williamslaid off, reported Tuesday for the Times-Picayune, "Managers at The Times-Picayune informed more than 200 members of the newspaper staff Tuesday that their last day at the company will be Sept. 30. The Times-Picayune, according to company executives, is shrinking its overall staff — including news, advertising, circulation and other departments — by 32 percent, or 201 employees.

"Employees who were not laid off were offered new jobs beginning this fall with Nola Media Group or Advance Central Services Louisiana, two new companies that will oversee news coverage and production and distribution, respectively, for The Times-Picayune and its affiliated website

"The layoffs come as part of a plan to reduce publication of the daily newspaper to three days a week this fall. When the four publication days are cut, the news operation will shift its focus online to, and both the newspaper and website will be overseen by the newly created Nola Media Group."

In Alabama, Kyle Whitmire reported Tuesday for the website Weld for Birmingham, "Two weeks ago, Birmingham News publisher Pam Siddall told newsroom employees that rumors of cuts as deep as 50 percent of staff were ridiculous, but when the ax fell Tuesday morning, the cuts were even deeper, with 60 percent of newsroom staff potentially losing their jobs and many more being let go in other departments throughout the company.

"On Tuesday morning, staff at all three of Advance Publication's Alabama newspapers — the Birmingham News, the Mobile Press-Register and the Huntsville Times — as well as employees at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, began having one-on-one meetings with managers. Birmingham staff who spoke to Weld said that the number of employees keeping their jobs was well within the minority. Of the 102 positions in the Birmingham newsroom, 62 were slated for layoffs, according to a document circulating in the newsroom. Another 41 positions would be cut from other departments, about 20 percent of non-newsroom employees."

" . . . In an official statement Tuesday, the company reported that statewide 400 employees will lose their jobs as Advance Publications shifts its assets in Alabama to two new companies, the Alabama Media Group and Advance Central Services Alabama."

Williams, vice president/print of the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists, said of himself and the other laid-off African Americans, "Most are thinking of getting out of journalism and going into P.R. I'm 47 years old. I've got five years to pay on my house. I can't move."

He said the management told employees that newsgathering would be the top priority in the reorganization, "but we got the biggest hit." The other black journalists affected included Sherrel Stewart, assistant metro editor and former BABJ president; Linda Robbins Holmes, assistant editor for the lifestyles section; and editorial writer Eddie Lard, another former BABJ president whom NABJ called "the newspaper's lone African-American editorial voice."

Buyouts Prompting "the Next Wave of Journalism"

Michael D. Bolden, a local desk editor at the Washington Post who took a buyout and left the paper in April, is now managing director of the communications firm Bolden Strategic Partners, he told Latoya Peterson in a "member interview" for the Online News Association.

Michael Bolden"We're working on a media start-up to provide premium and custom news packages across platforms. I'm also consulting on digital media strategies and transportation policy," Bolden, a member of the Maynard Media Academy Class of 2011, told Peterson.

Peterson asked, ". . . What is happening to the talent taking the buyouts? How is that impacting the journalistic landscape of newspapers like the Washington Post?"

Bolden replied, "My colleagues are pursuing all kinds of different ventures, although some are moving to other legacy media operations and others are leaving journalism.

"I am most excited by those people who are taking what they've learned into new operations to try and help create the next wave of journalism. The loss of such talent does diminish the ability of organizations like The Post to function on some level, but there are plenty of talented people who are also left behind. However, I think the loss is more than offset by what emerges. Look at ventures like MedCity Media in Cleveland. That probably would not have happened if the founders had not taken buyouts several years ago. Journalism is now richer for what they are doing."

Mark S. Luckie Leaves Washington Post for Twitter

Digital journalist Mark S. Luckie, who joined the Washington Post two years ago as national innovations editor and then sold his blog to WebMediaBrands Inc., owner of the Mediabistro blog network, for an undisclosed amount, is on the move again.

Mark S. Luckie

"I'm excited to announce that I'll be joining Twitter as the new Creative Content Manager for Journalism! To say I'm thrilled is an understatement," Luckie told his Facebook followers on Tuesday.

". . . The new position means I'll be leaving The Post, a newsroom with some of the most talented, hard-working journos in the world [whom] I will miss wholeheartedly. I'm looking forward to the journey this new venture will take me on and to expanding what social journalism can be."

Adam Sharp, Twitter's senior manager for government, news and social innovation, said by email of Luckie, "He'll be Manager, Journalism Creative Content, working with news organizations and individual journalists to educate them on best practices and drive new creative uses for Twitter in the journalism space."

Luckie will be based in New York.

Clockwise, from top, left: Reena Ninan, John Schriffen, Alex Perez, Muhammad Lila, Bazi Kanani and Cecilia Vega.

Correspondents of Color Trending at ABC News

When David Westin announced in 2010 that he was stepping down as president of ABC News, Kathy Times, then president of the National Association of Black Journalists, spoke with disappointment about his tenure. "He had some opportunities to really move some African Americans into key positions as correspondents," Times said.

Under Westin's successor, Ben Sherwood, ABC News has hired at least six correspondents of color since September — two black journalists, two Hispanics and two of Asian background.

"We're always looking for talented journalists and great story tellers [whom] our audience can relate to," ABC News spokeswoman Julie Townsend told Journal-isms by email and telephone on Wednesday, shying away from a discussion of ethnicity.

John Schriffen joined ABC in May as a New York correspondent after two months as a freelance reporter for WCBS, the CBS-owned station in New York. Canadian journalist Muhammad Lila joined in January as the new digital correspondent based in Islamabad and responsible for Pakistan, Afghanistan and that region. Bazi Kanani, an anchor-reporter at KUSA-TV in Denver, was hired in November as correspondent in Nairobi, Kenya.

Cecilia Vega, a reporter at KGO-TV in San Francisco, joined in September as a Los Angeles-based correspondent; Alex Perez, a reporter and fill-in anchor at WMAQ-TV in Chicago, joined in March to work from that city's ABC News bureau. In February, ABC hired Reena Ninan for its Washington bureau after she had covered the Middle East for Fox News Channel.

Brazilian Journalist Held for Six Days in Syria

"A Brazilian journalist who entered Syria legally was arbitrarily arrested by the army on 19 May and spent six days in detention, cut off from the outside world," Reporters Without Borders reported on Tuesday.

". . . At the same time, a British journalist said he and his colleagues were deliberately led into a trap by rebels so that they might be shot and killed by the Syrian army.

"Klester Cavalcanti, 42, a journalist with the Brazilian magazine IstoÉ, was granted a visa and planned to report on the living conditions of the residents of the northern city of Homs, devastated by fighting between rebels and government forces in February. He arrived in Damascus on 19 May and immediately boarded a bus for Homs.

". . . At one point, an officer presented him with a blank sheet of paper and took a cigarette from his pocket, telling him: 'If you don't sign this paper, I shall burn your eye.' Cavalcanti refused to comply. The officer lit the cigarette and stubbed it out on the journalist's face, close to his eye. He signed the sheet. . . . "

Gina Chon's mistake appears to have been that she hid her relationship with a ne

Wall St. Journal Writer Out After Affair with Source

"A Wall Street Journal reporter resigned on Tuesday, following revelations she'd had an affair with a former Bush administration security advisor who is the current nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq," Meena Hart Duerson reported Tuesday in the Daily News in New York.

"Gina Chon's 2008 relationship with Brett McGurk, 39, was exposed last week when a series of their sexually-charged emails were posted anonymously online to sites including Flickr.

"Chon 'agreed to resign this afternoon after acknowledging that while based in Iraq she violated the Dow Jones Code of Conduct by sharing certain unpublished news articles with Brett McGurk, then a member of the U.S. National Security Council in Iraq,' the Wall Street Journal said in a statement on Tuesday."

Paul Farhi added Wednesday in the Washington Post: "Chon may be the highest-profile journalist to lose her job over an intimate relationship with a source, but she's not the first. Although it rarely captures headlines, reporters 'get involved with sources fairly often,' said Kelly McBride, an ethics specialist for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based journalism education organization.

"McBride said she receives 'five to 10' calls from news organizations every year seeking advice on how to deal with journalists who are having relationships with people they're covering."

Newsweek Spiked Cover of Obama as Trayvon Martin

". . . Posted on the Newsweek Tumblr — social media, in action! — is a video of the editor, herself, discussing a spiked cover that involved posing Barack Obama as Trayvon Martin," Foster Kamer wrote about Tina Brown Tuesday for the New York Observer.

"She explains:

" 'It was a Trayvon [Martin] cover that we were going to do. And the president had just said, "If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon." So we did a cover of Barack in a hoodie…

"And what'd she think of it?

" 'And I really thought it was brilliant, actually, because it sort of dramatized what he was saying.'

"If she doesn't say so herself. But then?

" 'But then, I became very anxious about what could be done with it in its afterlife. And one thing you have to think about which you didn't have to think about much in the days when I was editing Vanity Fair…' "

. . .  Journalists Say the Darndest Things

More from the file "Journalists say the darndest things":

  • "Mediabistro was at Wendy Williams's studio yesterday where we taped our mediabistroTV series 'My First Big Break,' " Chris Ariens wrote Wednesday for TVNewser. "When we got there, Katie Couric happened to be taping a segment with Williams for Couric's upcoming daytime talk show. The exchange included a sort of 'would you rather?' back and forth. At one point, Williams asks Couric who would she rather sleep with: Bryant Gumbel or Matt Lauer. Couric chose Gumbel, because, she says, she feels so close to Lauer it would just be weird. . . ."

  • "Why does the White House seek out interviews with local television affiliates?" Charlie Spiering wrote in the Washington Examiner. "Maybe it's because they ask questions like these:

    " 'Mr. President, we've heard you sing, we've seen you do stand up at the correspondents dinner.' Tom Wills of WJXT in Jacksonville, Fla. stated.

    " 'I was just wondering if you would give any thought to being on "American Idol" or "America's Got Talent"?' he asked. 'You'd be a big hit Mr. President.'

    " 'My wife and my daughters find me embarrassing enough when I start performing,' Obama grinned. 'They certainly don't want a large national audience seeing me in those kinds of situations. So I'm going to try to keep my singing to the shower most of the time.' "

  • "On the popular Fox News show [The] Five (6/6/12), co-host Eric Bolling blasted Muslim advocates who are suing the New York Police Department over its spying program targeting Muslims, saying that in the last 15 years, 'Every terrorist on American soil has been a Muslim,' " Jim Naureckas wrote for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. "In fact, Muslims are responsible for a tiny fraction of terrorism in the U.S.; as a Rand study pointed out in 2010 . . . "

Anzio Williams Resigns; Tod Smith Moves Back Home

"Anzio Williams, who has been the news director at Sacramento's KCRA since 2007, is set to leave the Hearst-owned station next Monday," Andrew Gauthier wrote Tuesday for TV Spy.

"KCRA general manager Elliott Troshinsky announced Williams's departure in an email to staff this week, saying that the veteran news director 'has expressed a desire to pursue some other career interests and opportunities.'

"Williams, who has been with Hearst for 14 years, joined KCRA after two Anzio Williams, left, and Tod Smithyears as news director at WDSU in New Orleans. Before that, he was the assistant ND at WESH in Orlando and at WCNC in Charlotte."

" 'I believe what I've done here at KCRA has put me in the position to go on to bigger and better things,' Williams told his staff on Monday. 'I’m excited about what the future holds.' "

Williams was news director in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Meanwhile, "New Orleans native Tod Smith has been named president and general manager of WWL-TV, as well as its properties WUPL-TV, NewsWatch 15 and, station management has announced," WWL in New Orleans reported on Wednesday.

"Smith replaces Bud Brown, who recently announced his decision to retire after 7 years at Channel 4.

"It is a homecoming for Smith, who began his broadcasting career at WWL before going on to hold the position of general manager at WWL's sister stations in Norfolk and Tucson, also owned and operated by Belo."

Smith is one of nine general managers of color at general-market local television stations [PDF], according to a study by the National Association of Black Journalists. Five are African American, two are Hispanic and two are Asian American.

Ranked by size, Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va., is market No. 43. New Orleans is 52 [PDF].

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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