Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Another Gannett Editor Leaves Suddenly

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Publisher Announces Don Wyatt's Resignation in Mo.

Reginald Bryant Dies, Broadcaster and NABJ Co-Founder

Video Shows U.S. Attack That Killed Two From Reuters

BET Founder Bob Johnson "Desperately Needs Cash"

MSNBC's David Shuster Suspended Indefinitely

Media General to Consolidate Copy Desks, Page Design

Univision CEO: News Is Latinos' "Connective Tissue"

"Diversity Champions" Needed in Online World

Ex-Anchor Hits Road in Search of a Husband

Short Takes

Publisher Announces Don Wyatt's Resignation in Mo.

Don WyattDon Wyatt, one of the few Asian American top newspaper editors, has resigned as executive editor of the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, the publisher announced on Wednesday. It was the second sudden departure of a Gannett editor in recent days.

The resignation of Wyatt, a Japanese-American who had been editor of the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, follows the March 30 exit of Everett "E.J." Mitchell II as executive editor at the Cherry Hill (N.J.) Courier-Post.

Neither man left to go to another job. In Mitchell's case, there was not even an announcement.

Wyatt had not been in the newsroom in recent days and neither he nor Gannett officials had returned messages about his status. A caller earlier Wednesday was told that Wyatt was "out of the office this week."

A three-paragraph notice on the News-Leader Web site said, "Thomas Bookstaver, president and publisher of the News-Leader Media Group, announced today that Executive Editor Don Wyatt has resigned.

" 'During the past five years, Don made many contributions to this newspaper during a time of major changes in our industry. He worked very hard to understand how the news and information needs of our readers were changing and helped us develop products to satisfy those needs. He led our team through major technology changes, including the development of our very popular Web site, News-Leader.com.'

" 'A search will immediately begin for a new executive editor. During the transition, Managing Editor Cheryl Whitsitt will continue managing our news staff and the production of our daily and weekly newspapers and our Web sites. We will continue making major improvements to your News-Leader including the addition of a new Ozarks section in several weeks.'"

When Wyatt received a McCormick Tribune Fellowship in 2003, he listed himself as a member of the Native American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists as well as the Asian American Journalists Association and the mainstream editors associations.

A 2007 story in the AAJA Voices, a student publication for the AAJA convention, said Wyatt "is trying to attract as many minority journalists as he can to the 60,889-circulation newspaper."

The 2009 survey of the American Society of News Editors showed the paper with 7.3 percent Asian American professionals in its newsroom - exceeding the percentage in the population - and 12.7 percent journalists of color overall.

"It helps that I'm a person of color and I'm in charge," Wyatt said. "They can say it's possible through hard work, learning the craft and never saying 'never,' " he said in the article. "So it does make a difference."

A Gannett announcement when Wyatt was named to the Springfield job in 2004 gave this short bio:

"Wyatt started his career in 1983 as a news copy editor at the Lansing State Journal. He moved to The Detroit News in 1985 as a sports copy editor. He returned to Lansing in 1986 as graphics editor. He was a Gannett loaner to USA TODAY and USA WEEKEND in 1985 and 1988. In 1990, he was named news editor of The Orange County Register.

"He joined the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1992 as executive news editor and was named senior editor in 1995. He was named managing editor at Duluth in 1999."

Recent months have held mixed news for Asian American journalists in high- ranking newsroom jobs.

Peter Bhatia was promoted to the top job at the Oregonian in Portland, but David Ng resigned as the No. 3 editor at the New York Daily News and Jeanne Mariani-Belding, a former national president of AAJA, stepped down as opinion editor at the Honolulu Advertiser. Gannett later announced it was selling the Advertiser to its longtime competitor, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Though suffering from pancreatic cancer, Reginald Bryant attended last year's convention of the National Association of Black Journalists in Tampa. (Credit: Jason Miccolo Johnson)

Reginald Bryant Dies, Broadcaster, NABJ Co-Founder

"If you were a guest on Reggie Bryant's talk-radio shows, you'd better have known what you were talking about. If not, he would 'chew you up,' said the Rev. Leroy Simmons, a longtime friend," John F. Morrison wrote Wednesday for the Philadelphia Daily News.

" 'You had better have done your homework or he would grind you up. He could be overbearing and intimidating. Some guests got angry and walked out. But he was nonapologetic in his pursuit of the truth.'

"Reginald Bryant, veteran radio broadcaster most recently with WURD (900-AM), a onetime filmmaker, a talented artist and a man who liked working with troubled young people to show them a better life, died Monday night at age 69 after a long battle with cancer.

"He died in a hospice after watching the Phillies trounce the Washington Nationals, alert and perceptive to the end.

" 'He was still Reggie Bryant,' Simmons said. 'The threat of death never changed him.'

"Acel Moore, former Inquirer columnist and editor emeritus, said: 'Reggie was one of the most intellectual journalists and communicators that I ever met. He was an artist. He could write, draw and produce. He was ahead of his time.

" 'He was always reading and thinking deeply. He was very controversial. You either hated or loved Reggie. He loved people and mentored people. The impact he had was broad.'

In the Philadelphia Inquirer Tuesday, Walter F. Naedele noted that, "Bryant and Moore were the hosts of 'Black Perspective on the News' from 1973 to 1978, when they were succeeded by Philadelphia Daily News columnist Chuck Stone."

In an NABJ news release, veteran journalist Les Payne said of the show, "It was the equal of 'Meet the Press;' and many a day was superior thanks to Reggie's keen insight and sharp retort. Reggie lives on in all of us."

Naedele's story continued, "Moore recalled that in 1973, he and Bryant met with Stone and Bulletin columnist Claude Lewis to form the Philadelphia organization known as the Association of Black Journalists.

"In 1975, Moore said, they went to Washington to be among the 44 who founded the national organization."

Video Shows U.S. Attack That Killed Two From Reuters

A "classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff, was released on Monday by a group that promotes leaking to fight government and corporate corruption," Reuters reported on Monday.

"The group, WikiLeaks, told a news conference in Washington that it acquired encrypted video of the July 12, 2007, attack from military whistleblowers and had been able to view and investigate it after breaking the encryption code.

"A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the video and audio were authentic.

"Major Shawn Turner, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said an investigation of the incident shortly after it occurred found that U.S. forces were not aware of the presence of the news staffers and thought they were engaging armed insurgents."

At least one journalists group was outraged.

"This is evidence of calculated, cold-blooded and horrifying violence," said Jim Boumelha, president of the International Federation of Journalists. "The United States cannot ignore this atrocity and the killings of unarmed civilians. We insist on a completely new review of these and all the killings of journalists and media staff in the Iraq conflict."

"To much of the corporate media, though, it was either not worth reporting at all, or an unfortunate incident to be defended," the progressive media watch group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting said on Wednesday, describing media coverage.

" 'Look at those dead bastards,' one pilot says. 'Nice,' the other responds."

In the Columbia Journalism Review, Clint Hendler reported that Jennifer 8. Lee, a reporter who took a buyout at the New York Times in December, played a role in publicizing the video.

Lee "acknowledged to CJR that she had helped WikiLeaks plan the roll out strategy, including working with YouTube to obtain an exemption for WikiLeaks to the site's standard 10 minute video length limit. She added that she had not seen the video before this morning's press conference," Hendler wrote. Lee confirmed the CJR account to Journal-isms.

BET Founder Bob Johnson "Desperately Needs Cash"

"When the nation’s first African-American billionaire, Robert Johnson, bought the expansion Charlotte Bobcats NBA team in 2002, his highest-profile move was hiring the most famous athlete in the world, Michael Jordan, to run the team. In a twist thick with irony, the employee has now become the savior: Two weeks ago, Jordan bought the team for pennies on the dollar," Peter Lauria wrote last week for the Daily Beast.

"The sale underscores Johnson’s dire financial situation. Four sources with firsthand knowledge tell The Daily Beast that the 63-year-old founder of BET desperately needs cash. The Bobcats sale was precipitated by a need for liquidity to fund his other investment obligations and avoid becoming insolvent, according to business associates of Johnson’s and sources involved in the sale."

MSNBC's David Shuster Suspended Indefinitely

Partners?: David Shuster  and Michel Martin"MSNBC bad boy David Shuster may be on his third strike," Gail Shister wrote Monday for TV Newser.

"Shuster won't be on the air today for his 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. shows, according to MSNBC insiders. Whether he returns before his contract expires in December is up for debate.

"Shuster's last appearance was at 10 a.m. Friday. MSNBC boss Phil Griffin pulled him from his 3 p.m. gig after learning, via The New York Observer, that the anchor had recently shot a pilot for CNN without having informed his bosses

"According to The Observer, Shuster co-anchored the CNN pilot with NPR's Michel Martin. CNN legal eagle Jeffrey Toobin was a contributor. . . . When reached on his cell, Shuster said, 'I can't talk about it,' and hung up.

Martin told Journal-isms, "I have nothing to add." CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson said, "We never comment on talent testing."

On March 10, however, Dylan Stableford of theWrap.com reported, "according to one source familiar with the network’s development process, CNN is testing a concept that would include personalities with dueling political ideologies and opinions. That would be a bit of a departure for CNN, which considers itself to be a bipartisan, journalistically-driven network unlike its rivals at Fox News and MSNBC. (CNN does have a roving band of politically-charged commentators like Mary Matalin and Ed Rollins, but other than Lou Dobbs and the late "Crossfire," never had them host.)"

Media General to Consolidate Copy Desks, Page Design

Media General, Inc. announced on Wednesday it will consolidate copy editing and page design for its three metro newspapers, the Tampa Tribune, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch and Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal.

Spokesman Ray Kozakewicz told Journal-isms that "there will be layoffs" but that no decisions have been made about who stays and who goes. The company estimated the cost savings at more than $1 million a year. Ninety employees are currently doing the copy-editing and page-design jobs.

"The consolidated metro editing and design operation will have two groups, one in Tampa, Fla., and one in Richmond, Va.," the news release said. "The operation will be led by a single managing editor located at the Richmond facility. . .

"The metro operation will be the third of its kind for Media General. The first became operational in Lynchburg, Va., in April 2009. The second started up in Hickory, N.C., in October, 2009. At this time, 12 of Media General’s 23 metro and community newspapers are either part of or transitioning to a consolidated editing and design operation. The company expects to have all of its newspapers in a consolidated editing and design operation by the end of the year."

Kozakewicz said stories will still be edited at the originating newspaper before going to the centralized copy desk in the other city.

The E.W. Scripps Co. and the Tribune Co. are among other chains that have moved or plan to move their copy desk operations to a centralized location.

Univision CEO: News Is Latinos' "Connective Tissue"

Joe UvaThe CEO of Univision declared that "News is vitally important to what we do," that Latinos have "dealt with challenges most of us never had to deal with, and are every bit as American as any of us who were born here," and that, "At only 15 percent to 16 percent of the U.S. population, the U.S. Hispanic represents $1 trillion of purchasing power. That number is expected to double in terms of purchasing power in the next seven years."

Joe Uva made the comments on his three-year anniversary as CEO of Univision Communications in an interview with Claire Atkinson of Broadcasting & Cable, published on Monday.

"News is vitally important to what we do," he said; "putting [now President of News] Alina Falcon in charge of news across platforms will allow us to provide greater consistency and quality. We've always been committed to news. It is the connective tissue to the community.'

He was asked, "You are an Italian-American. Did you have an a-ha! moment about this culture as you've learned about it?"

Uva replied, "The [situations of] Italian immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the Hispanic experience today, are culturally similar. The fact is we want to stay connected; we have similar passion points around food and entertainment and music. [Hispanics are] really very aspirational and committed to having successive generations constantly improve. The thing that amazes me is that since I've been in this role, there's an ever-increasing potential for marketers to grow rapidly by their investment in the Hispanic consumer."

"Diversity Champions" Needed in Online World

The author of this column, accepting the Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Guest Lecture Award Tuesday at Kent State University, said that the online world "is where our diversity efforts need perhaps the most focus.

Annette McGruder, the widow of Robert McGruder, with Richard Prince, center, and Lester A. Lefton, president of Kent State University, on Tuesday. (Credit: Tom Jacobs)"Having made my way in journalism at a time when news media either saw the need for affirmative action or were made to see it by community pressure, lawsuits or cases before the EEOC, I have no problem believing that the world of online journalism may have to feel the same heat in order to make progress," Richard Prince said to a hall and an overflow area filled with students, faculty and administrators at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

"There is a way out. What the online world needs are diversity champions. People like the previous McGruder winners. People like Bob McGruder, Phil Currie, John Quinn, John Siegenthaler – names you should learn to know – and they are not all people of color. . . . Who is playing that role at the Huffington Post, Salon, Slate?" The references are to former Gannett Co. executives. Prince is the first winner since the awards were established in 2003 who primarily works online.

McGruder, a Kent State graduate, was executive editor of the Detroit Free Press and a president of the Associated Press Managing Editors before his death in 2002 at age 60. Rochelle Riley, a Detroit Free Press columnist, recalled McGruder as "a standard bearer for excellence" as she received the McGruder Diversity in Media Distinguished Leadership Award.

In her remarks and in a column in the Free Press, she said:

"If there is anything that Bob McGruder taught, and lived, as great as anyone, it was that no newsroom that operates without diversity can do a good job. He wasn't talking about counting bodies. He was talking about ensuring that the newsroom had people with varied opinions, varied backgrounds, varied experiences. Sometimes that came in different skin colors."

Ex-Anchor Hits Road in Search of a Husband

Julia Yarbough"Julia Yarbough, former primary news anchor at NBC-owned WTVJ-6-NBC in Miami (Market #17) who quit television in October for a full-time career in personal fitness, is on a mission to find a husband," Mike James, author of the NewsBlues subscription-only Web site, wrote on Wednesday.

" 'I've tried everything I can think of — set-ups from friends, blind dates, on-line dating services. . . still — NOTHING!' laments Yarbough. 'People say you don't need a man. I disagree with that. I think we do. I'm not afraid to say that to people.'

"So she left her job, packed her car, and hit the road with her best friend, Silva Harapetian, a TV news reporter who was recently laid off from Post-Newsweek's WDIV-4-NBC in Detroit (Market #11). Together, they are on a mission to find Yarbough a husband.

"Along the way, they're blogging about their dating adventures. They're also trying to start a serious dialog about relationships. 'For whatever reason, in the times we live in, men and women do not seem to connect,' Yarbough said. So far, after six states, no luck.

" 'I met a lot of great friends, but no husband-material quite yet. But I'm not giving up hope,' she said. 'I know he's out there somewhere.'"

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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