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Anchor's Report: We're All Losing Our Jobs

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In Tucson, Station Turns Over News Shows to Competitor

Blacks More Interested in Penn State Story

Black Publisher Hosts Occupy Protesters on His Lawn

2 Latinos Named to Top Posts in SunSentinel Newsroom

WCCO Offers Explanation, No Firings on Dog-Duck Snafu

Gayle King Gets Slot on Hard-News CBS Morning Show

Blacks More Likely to Want Attention on Cain Allegations

Vargas' Site on Immigration Posts 500 Stories

Short Takes

SaveTheNews.org has sounded an alarm about what it calls covert media consolidation deals. Its map enables viewers to click to find out whether newsrooms are merging in their area. (View map) (Credit: SaveTheNews.org)

In Tucson, Station Turns Over News Shows to Competitor

Viewers of KMSB-TV in Tucson, Ariz., heard a stunning announcement from anchor Lou Raguse on Tuesday: Belo Corp., parent company of the Fox affiliate, Channel 11, had entered into a "shared services agreement" with Raycom Media, the owner of rival KOLD, Channel 13.

"Raycom will produce this newscast on Fox 11 and also a two-hour morning broadcast. That means beginning Feb. 1, all the news, sports and engineering and production staff are out of a job by that date. We wish our best to our friends at Channel 13.

Ruben Fuentes "As you can imagine, it's a pretty sad day around here."

If viewers were stunned, you can imagine the reaction when the staff received the news earlier in the day. "It's shocking," multimedia journalist Kevin Adger told Journal-isms. Adger, 32, is an African American at a station where fully one-third of the news staff is black or Latino.

Ruben Fuentes, a photographer, told Journal-isms, "I was expecting layoffs, a couple of people here and there, but not the whole staff."

Among the other affected journalists of color are sports anchor Kevin Lewis; David Kelly, sports anchor/reporter; Marcelino Benito Jr., multimedia journalist; Mark Childress, videographer/video editor; Valente Canez, photographer; Kelly Soto, director; and Anthony Ballasteros, weekend director.

What's taking place in Tucson is part of a trend that the free-press advocacy site SaveTheNews.org calls covert media consolidation deals.

"SavetheNews.org has uncovered 22 more covert consolidation deals in its 'Change the Channels' campaign," the organization announced in June. "So far, more than 100 cases have been documented of local TV newsrooms combining operations to circumvent the Federal Communications Commission's media ownership limits at the expense of independent, local journalism."

"The new cases include two virtual triopolies — where one company owns or operates three TV stations in one market — in Birmingham, Ala. and Montgomery, Ala. The campaign has also found several more stations operating under Shared Services Agreements, in which a single consolidated newsroom with a single staff produces news for two or more stations.

"By quietly merging newsrooms, TV stations are able to circumvent the Federal Communications Commission’s media ownership limits at the expense of independent, local journalism."

Brian Stelter reported last week in the New York Times, "A period of consolidation is under way in local television — and with it, a renewed debate about the implications of merger and acquisition activity on the industry.

". . .  'We really took it on the chin as an industry during the great recession,' said David Amy, the chief financial officer for Sinclair [Broadcasting Group], referring to steep declines in advertising revenue. But what the economy took away, politics may help restore. Television stations are among the biggest beneficiaries of political ad spending — one of the primary reasons for the increase in sales activity. The election cycle of 2012 is expected to be exceptionally lucrative for stations in competitive states."

While broadcast stations say consolidation enables them to better compete with cable and wireless companies, "Public interest groups, on the other hand, say that consolidation can be detrimental to local communities because new owners sometimes make cutbacks to station staff and expect the remaining staff members to do more with less."

That will especially true in the weeks before the KMSB staff's final broadcast, Jonathan Ward, weekday news producer, told Journal-isms. "More people will be leaving," he said.

Adger, who has been at the station since April 2010, said, "I'm going to send out as many tapes and try to land a job as soon as possible."

Fuentes, 45, arrived at the station when it opened in June 2003, having worked at Univision and Telemundo. "I'm not in panic mode now," he said. "I know the nature of the business, with the economy."

Blacks More Interested in Penn State Story

African Americans are more likely than whites to believe there has been too little coverage of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, according to the latest weekly News Interest Index survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

The scandal topped the public's news interest last week, with 32 percent of all respondents saying they followed news of the scandal more closely than any other news, Pew said. The  News Interest Index survey, conducted Nov. 10-13, asked how respondents felt about the amount of news coverage of the scandal.

Among non-Hispanic whites, 46 percent thought there was too much; 9 percent, said too little; 40 percent, chose "the right amount"; and 5 percent, said they did not know or did not respond.

Among non-Hispanic blacks, 25 percent thought there was too much coverage; 27 percent thought too little; 41 percent said the right amount, and 7 percent said they did not know or did not respond.

Stoking interest in the case among African Americans are rumors that the victims were black and that their race was one reason the assaults did not receive the attention they warranted. The popular but lurid gossip site MediaTakeOut.com, referring to former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, wrote this week, ". . .  MediaTakeOut.com spoke with a woman claiming to be a MOTHER of a boy allegedly molested [by] Sandusky, and her son was AFRICAN AMERICAN.

"The mother, who asked for anonymity, told MediaTakeOut.com that her son and many other young boys claiming to be MOLESTED all looked similar. 'They were Black about 10-12, and had a tall slim muscular build.' The mother went on, 'How could no one have noticed, he's around all these boys that look the same . . . This is disgraceful.' "

However, a well-placed figure involved in the case told Journal-isms that "race was not a factor" and that the victims are "not primarily African American kids."

The figure said that while Sandusky was attracted to "a certain type," that type was not African American.

"Central Pennsylvania is predominantly Caucasian," this person said. "The African American community is not there." The person conceded there was "some diversity" in the Second Mile program for "at-risk" kids that Sandusky founded and whose students are said to have been abused.

[On Thursday, Jo Becker of the New York Times reported that Sandusky "tended to choose white boys from homes where there was no father or some difficulty in the family, investigators said, and he drew them in with trips to games and expensive gifts like computers."]

Census figures for Centre County, where Penn State is located, show it to be 89.4 percent white, 3 percent black, 5.2 percent Asian, 1.5 percent two or more races and 0.1 percent Native American.

A former live-in resident director, who worked for the Second Mile program in the 1990s, widened the door to the possibility of African American or Latino victims. He told Journal-isms the racial mix of at-risk children was at least 65 percent black, approximately 25 percent Latino and 10 percent other. "Sandusky used to come to the house, but the boys often went into the basement to play [pingpong] when he did. At the time I thought they were just being teens and not wanting to be around adults. Sandusky would be touchy-feely with the kids (hugs, sitting them on his lap, etc.) during photo ops that were taken at the house and used for Second Mile promotions," this person said by e-mail.

Officials are loath to identify the victims in any way. Nils Frederickson, chief press officer for the state Attorney General's Office, said no racial information is included on any official documents on the case. A lawyer working with some of the victims, asked about their race, said he would not answer. They were "upset" and already have "enough recovery work" ahead of them, he said.

Occupy protesters take up Richmond, Va., publisher Ray Boone on his offer to stay in his yard, next door to Mayor Dwight Jones' home. (Video) (Credit: Video by Dean Hoffmeyer/Times-Dispatch)

Black Publisher Hosts Occupy Protesters on His Lawn

Raymond H. BooneThe publisher of the Richmond Free Press, an African American weekly in the Virginia capital, is hosting about 35 Occupy Richmond protesters on his four-acre front lawn, he told Journal-isms on Wednesday, to uphold the demonstrators' First Amendment rights.

Raymond H. Boone, a veteran journalist, lives next door to Mayor Dwight C. Jones, and "the mayor snubbed the Occupy Richmond Movement," Boone said. "The mayor should be the last one to reject efforts to bring about redistribution of wealth. One out of four citizens is in poverty. In one district, 41 percent of the people are," and they are mostly black.

He compared the demonstrators with civil rights protesters of the 1960s.

On Boone's lawn are three portable toilets, access to water and a grill. Citizens have donated pastries and canned goods.

"Supporters of Occupy Richmond set up an encampment next door to the mayor's home on Tuesday, attracting a police presence and raising concerns among neighbors about safety," Reed Williams reported in the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, the city's daily.

"The demonstrators, who object to what they view as corporate greed, economic disparities and social injustice, said they presented a letter Friday to Mayor Dwight C. Jones asking him to allow them to protest in public places without the threat of arrest.

"On Oct. 31, the police broke up an encampment at Kanawha Plaza in downtown Richmond and arrested nine people. Authorities had warned protesters several times since they started camping there on Oct. 15 that the tents had to come down."

In a editorial last week, Boone wrote that he would welcome the protesters.

"Last week, the separate roles of the mayor and the editor were potentially tested at their homes," the editorial began. "Friday and Saturday nights, a police cruiser was parked at the entrance of the common driveway leading to our houses. The assignment of the cruiser officers, according to one of the policemen, was to 'help' the mayor. The help was in response, according to one officer, to statements of members of the nonviolent Occupy Richmond protesters who reportedly had promised to occupy the mayor’s lawn.

"If the protesters had showed up, the mayor and the editor would undoubtedly have remained good neighbors, but respectfully disagreed on this important issue. Our mayor-neighbor, we are certain, would identify with the good, justifiable cause of the Occupy Richmond protesters but seemingly would have been inclined to give the order to arrest the protesters for protesting on his property.

"We have no such inclination. Reason: Since the Free Press was founded nearly 20 years ago in this conservative, Fat-Cat controlled city, we have stood up and fought for economic justice and against corporate greed, against corruption and against that 1 percent of the super rich who control the businesses, government and practically all media outlets to the detriment of the people, the city, the state and the Nation.

". . . We welcome the Occupy Richmond protesters to our Brookbury neighborhood and to our lawn. If they are confronted and rejected, they can depend on this editor/ publisher, in support of the people’s interest, to warmly welcome them to his property. We also will provide refreshments and snacks."

2 Latinos Named to Top Posts in SunSentinel Newsroom

Latino journalists Willie Fernandez and Anne Vasquez were promoted to associate editors at the South Florida SunSentinel in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday, reporting to recently named top editor Howard Saltz.

Anne Vasquez and Willie FernandezThere was no public announcement. "We don't comment on personnel issues, including promotions," Mary Helen Olejnik, community programs development manager at the Tribune Co.-owned newspaper, told Journal-isms on Wednesday.

Coincident with the promotions were the layoffs of four low-level editors, staffers said, including that of Carlos Harrison, who had been government and politics editor/content manager, according to his LinkedIn profile. Harrison was formerly metro editor at Florida Today and deputy managing editor at People en Español. He is now listed as editor, writer and multimedia journalist at Imaginit Productions.

Fernandez, 58, has been at the newspaper since 1980, working as a reporter, copy editor and in numerous editing jobs. As associate editor, he will be responsible for graphics, photography, the copy desk and the investigative team, he told Journal-isms.

Vasquez, according to her LinkedIn profile, is the paper's digital manager and has been business editor and deputy business editor at the SunSentinel, joining the paper from the San Jose Mercury News, where she was Sunday features editor, assistant city editor and reporter. She also worked as a reporter at the Miami Herald.

Fernandez and Vasquez join such other top ranking Latinos at the paper as Antonio Fins, editorial page editor, and Danny Sanchez, mobile manager.

Saltz, a longtime Denver news executive, was named editor in July. He said then that he "hopes to make subtle changes to the newspaper, its website and its mobile-device application that will 'exploit things technology now allows us to do that we are not doing,' the paper reported then.

The former editor, Earl Maucker, announced last week that he is running for a full term on the Lighthouse Point City Commission, a municipal post, the newspaper reported. Maucker was editor of the SunSentinel for 16 years before retiring last year.

WCCO Offers Explanation, No Firings on Dog-Duck Snafu

Brien Kennedy" WCCO-TV has maintained a steadfast 'no comment' since pulling James Schugel's Oct. 31 I-Team investigation alleging a New York City market sold Minnesota-bred dogs as meat," David Brauer reported Wednesday for MinnPost.com. "The station erased the story from its website, but has told viewers nothing about why: No retraction, correction or even 'we're still investigating.'

"The blackout has extended to WCCO's own newsroom, which has heard nothing from general manager Brien Kennedy and news director Mike Caputa. But the story has been lampooned worldwide, from the New York Post — which alleged that Schugel relied on a single market worker who didn't know 'dog' from 'duck' — to Taiwanese animators.

"City Pages got the newsroom's attention with a story whose sole source anonymously predicted, 'heads will roll.' Wednesday, Caputa broke management's silence, issuing a memo that reads mostly like a response/defense.

"The memo buries the lead — the station now believes the worker did say 'duck,' not 'dog' — adding that [Schugel] will not be fired."

The Asian American Journalists Association Tuesday wrote to Josie Thomas, senior vice president and chief diversity officer for CBS Television, noting that "Our Minnesota chapter requested an explanation Nov. 8 and has yet to hear from the station. We seek a full accounting of what transpired and want assurances that WCCO — as part of the CBS Television Network — will address concerns that it failed its journalistic and community responsibilities."

Thomas did not respond Wednesday to a request from Journal-isms for comment.

CBS' new morning show will offer new hosts in Erica Hill, left, Gayle King and Charlie Rose. (Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/CBS)

Gayle King Gets Slot on Hard-News CBS Morning Show

"Pain is evident in the voice of the CBS News chairman, Jeff Fager, when he talks about the ratings performance of 'The Early Show,' the network’s long-suffering morning news broadcast," Brian Stelter wrote Tuesday in the New York Times.

"Distant third in the ratings? That’s 'a phrase I hate hearing,' Mr. Fager said Tuesday as he announced another revamping of the network’s morning strategy.

"Effective Jan. 9, the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose will join the anchor Erica Hill for the 7 a.m. hour, and the talk show host Gayle King will lead the 8 a.m. hour on the broadcast, which will be given a new name and be marketed as a more serious alternative to the popular morning shows on NBC and ABC."

Blacks More Likely to Want Attention on Cain Allegations

More blacks than whites say the sexual harassment accusations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain are getting too little attention, according to the latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted Nov. 10-13 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

The results might correlate to political leanings.

"Far more Republicans (57%) than Democrats (39%) say that coverage of the Cain allegations has been excessive; 48% of independents share this view. Just a quarter of Republicans say that Cain has received the right amount of coverage (27%), compared with 40% of Democrats who say this," the research center said.

"By contrast, about half (51%) say the congressional 'super committee' — now negotiating behind closed doors to find ways to significantly reduce government spending and federal deficit — has gotten too little attention."

Asked about the amount of coverage given to the Cain allegations, 48 percent of non-Hispanic whites, said "too much," compared with 42 percent of non-Hispanic blacks.

The study found 11 percent of non-Hispanic whites saying "too little," compared with 21 percent of non-Hispanic blacks.

"The right amount," said 35 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 31 percent of non-Hispanic blacks.

Vargas' Site on Immigration Posts 500 Stories

"Define American was founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who revealed his own secret in a June New York Times Magazine article: he, too, is undocumented," according to HuffPost LatinoVoices.

". . . Define American's new story feature, available on its website, enables any 'immigrants, immigrant ally, or citizen to digitally share their story via videos, audio, photos or text,' the organization said in a statement. It allows 'anyone, anywhere to share their personal experiences as well as thoughts and beliefs about what it means to be an "American" today.'

". . . Already, some 500 stories have been assembled from an [eclectic] mix of Americans, including pundit and comedian Stephen Colbert, hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, New Jersey [Democratic] Senator Robert Menendez, Craigslist.org founder Craig Newmark, and Twilight: New Moon and A Better Life director Chris Weitz."

Vargas is originally from the Philippines.

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 BugMeNot.com 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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