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AOL Pays $315 Million for Huffington Post

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Huffington to Take Control of Black Voices, AOL Latino, Patch

Egyptian Military Takes Over Task of Obstructing Journalists

African Americans See, Experience Egyptians' Racial Issues

Reagan Centennial Leaves Some Blacks Cold

Super Bowl's 111 Million Viewers Set Record

Black History, Yes, but What About Black Calamity?

Native Writer Sees Irony in Suit by Redskins Owner

Press Freedom Group Opens Center for Haitian Journalists

Short Takes

"We are fusing a legendary and powerful new media brand with a vibrant, innovative news organization, known for its distinctive voice, a highly engaged audience, an expertise in community-building, and a track record for demystifying the news and putting flesh and blood on the data while drawing our audience into the conversation," said Arianna Huffington. (Credit: AllThingsD.com)

Huffington to Take Charge of Black Voices, AOL Latino, Patch

"In one of the biggest digital publishing deals in recent memory, AOL has agreed to pay $315 million for the Huffington Post, the pioneering web-only newspaper co-founded by Arianna Huffington," as Edmund Lee reported early Monday for AdAge.com.

"The deal is AOL CEO Tim Armstrong's latest and boldest attempt to transform the declining company from one that helped millions of people get onto the internet through dial-up connections to one that informs and entertains them in a broadband world, or as he called it, a 'new American media company.' "

The deal makes Huffington, the Huffington Post's co-founder and editor-in-chief, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, which will include all Huffington Post and AOL content.

That content includes Black Voices and AOL Latino, even though a graphic accompanying the announcement mysteriously omitted those websites. Other affected sites include engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone, MapQuest, PopEater, AOL Music, AutoBlog, Patch and StyleList.

It was not immediately clear how the transaction affects Huffington Post's plans for GlobalBlack, an African American-oriented site being developed by Huffington Post in conjunction with Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television.

Graham James, an AOL spokesman, told Journal-isms that such details would be worked out in the next 30 to 45 days, as the project undergoes regulatory approval. But he said AOL was "absolutely, 100 percent committed . . . to all our multicultural offerings."

Jeremy W. Peters and Verne G. Kopytoff, writing in the New York Times, reported, "AOL’s own news Web sites like Politics Daily and Daily Finance are likely to disappear when the deal is completed, and many of the writers who work for those sites will become Huffington Post writers, according to people with knowledge of the deal, who asked not to be identified discussing plans that are still being worked out."

Neither AOL nor Huffington Post discloses its diversity figures or is particularly known for diversity initiatives, but the Patch unit, a series of hyperlocal news sites that has attracted some journalists of color, is to be folded into Huffington Post. 

Among the journalists of color who have signed up with AOL Patch are Susan Ruiz Patton, formerly an assistant metro editor at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland; Bobbi Bowman, former diversity director for the American Society of News Editors, in McLean, Va.; Janita Poe, once with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as a local producer in Atlanta; Aldrin Brown, a former college sports editor at the Tennessean in Nashville and city editor for the San Bernardino (Calif.) Sun, as a regional editor for the Inland Empire in Southern California; Holly Edgell, a former assistant professor and executive producer at KOMU-TV at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, as one of two regional editors in St Louis; and Whitney Teal, a local Patch editor in the Maryland suburbs. She is a former editor at Uptown Literati, a blog about literature, and assistant editor at Sister 2 Sister magazine.

"The new group will have a combined base of 117 million unique visitors a month in the United States and 270 million around the world," the Huffington Post said in its announcement.

"The acquisition of The Huffington Post will create a next-generation American media company with global reach that combines content, community, and social experiences for consumers," AOL's Armstrong said.

"This is truly a merger of visions and a perfect fit for us," Huffington added in the announcement. "The Huffington Post will continue on the same path we have been on for the last six years — though now at light speed — by combining with AOL. Our readers will still be able to come to the Huffington Post at the same URL, and find all the same content they've grown to love, plus a lot more — more local, more tech, more entertainment, more finance, and lots more video. We are fusing a legendary and powerful new media brand with a vibrant, innovative news organization, known for its distinctive voice, a highly engaged audience, an expertise in community-building, and a track record for demystifying the news and putting flesh and blood on the data while drawing our audience into the conversation."

In a controversial move in 2009, Lorraine Branham, dean of the Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, awarded Huffington the Fred Dressler Lifetime Achievement Award for leadership in the media industry, controversial because Huffington Post does not pay most of those who write for it.

"The work of its 70-person paid staff is augmented by content from news outlets and 6,000 bloggers who write for free," according to the Associated Press. An e-mail to those bloggers Monday indicated that the only change for them would be "more people reading what you wrote."

Branham replied in 2009: "The Fred Dressler Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes leadership in the media industry —- and whether you support her or not, you can't say Arianna Huffington is not a leader. She is out there, pushing the envelope, taking risks and moving all of us forward, forcing the conversation about the changing nature of our industry.

"The Newhouse School, which teaches the full range of communications disciplines and studies the factors affecting them, recognizes the need to explore new solutions to the issues facing the industry, to experiment with new revenue models and find new approaches. Huffington has done just that; she has been willing to experiment and take risks and embrace change. "

Fox News correspondent Greg Palkot, head bandaged, right, and cameraman Olaf Wiig describe their beating by pro-Mubarak demonstrators in Cairo. (Video)

Egyptian Military Takes Over Task of Obstructing Journalists

"Egyptian authorities have shifted their strategy for obstructing the press as protests enter their 14th day: The military has become the predominant force detaining journalists and confiscating their equipment rather than plainclothes police or government supporters," the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

"Authorities have also put in place new bureaucratic obstacles for journalists covering the anti-Mubarak protests on Tahrir Square, with the military instructing reporters to seek new press credentials from the government.

"Foreign editors in the U.S. as well as reporters in Egypt have told CPJ that the government is confiscating press cards and other types of identification and are asking journalists to go to the Ministry of Information to apply for new temporary credentials. Multiple journalists told CPJ that they have been told to acquire accreditation from the government, including one who said he was told by the same thing by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. (CPJ was unable to reach the embassy to confirm.)

The committee went on to list firsthand accounts and a roundup of new attacks on the press.

"In all, CPJ has documented at least 140 direct attacks on journalists and news facilities since January 30, and is investigating numerous other reports," the group said.

In one episode, "Fox News correspondent Greg Palkot and cameraman Olaf Wiig were in Tahrir Square during the worst of the violence last week," Fox News reported Sunday, describing an attack on the journalists last week in Cairo. "When the building from which they were reporting came under siege, they were forced to flee into the streets and right into the middle of pro-government supporters.

"The two were both severely beaten — to the point they had to be hospitalized. The two have now returned to London, and in their first interview since the incident, recounted the danger they experienced.

In another episode, "The Egyptian military detained a correspondent for Al-Jazeera's English-language news channel for seven hours in Cairo on Sunday, said the network, which has been targeted repeatedly throughout the unrest in Egypt," Maggie Hyde reported Sunday for the Associated Press.

African Americans See, Experience Egyptians' Racial Issues

"For too many Egyptians, sub-Saharan Africa is a stereotypical exotic land of thick jungles and masses of poor, starving and black-skinned savages," reads the blurb over a piece on theRoot.com by Sunni M. Khalid, managing news editor at WYPR-FM in Baltimore and an African American.

Sunni Khalid

". . . Sub-Saharan Africans, who have fled as refugees to Egypt from Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, are routinely targeted for periodic security roundups in Cairo. In December 2005, Egyptian riot police brutally attacked a camp of Sudanese refugees in Cairo who were protesting their treatment. In front of TV cameras, at least 28 and as many as 100 refugees were killed, and hundreds of others were injured, arrested, imprisoned or deported. There was little public protest.

"My wife, Zeinab, a Kenyan Somali, endured a series of racial indignities during our time in Egypt. She would shop Road Nine, the trendy commercial drag in Maadi that caters mostly to foreigners and wealthy Egyptians. More than once, she would be standing in line at the checkout counter, when an older, fair-skinned Egyptian woman would arrogantly walk from the rear of the line and place her packages on the conveyor belt in front of Zeinab, as if my wife didn't exist. Indignantly, Zeinab would glare at the woman and dump her packages at the back of the line — or even go so far as to grab the woman by the collar to make her point.

"Whenever my wife would come to the airport to pick me up, she'd often have to fend off several Arab men, who assumed that, as a black woman, she was somehow immediately 'available' to their desires, whether she was married or not."

In a separate piece, Wendell Hassan Marsh wrote of his experience in Egypt, returning to the United States last month after spending 16 months studying Arabic as a Fulbright fellow. 

" 'This government doesn't care anything about us,' said Mustapha. 'They must forget who was here first,' referring to the indigenous people of southern Egypt who have often complained of being ignored and denied the economic development of their northern counterparts," Marsh wrote. "However, he could have been speaking on behalf of most Egyptians."

Reagan Centennial Leaves Some Blacks Cold

"Like most African Americans old enough to shudder with revulsion when they remember Ronald Reagan's presidency, I won't be joining the hagiographical celebration of the late conservative saint's 100th birthday that is scheduled to take place this weekend. There will simply be too many lies," Jack White wrote Saturday on theRoot.com.

"The celebrations won't be talking about it, but neither the passage of time nor President Barack Obama's oft-stated admiration for Reagan's transformational politics can make me forget how the Gipper used the fears and resentments of angry white people to get elected."

In contrast to Reagan's death in 2004, the news media make an effort this time to separate Reagan myth from fact.

Eugene Jarecki, whose documentary "Reagan" aired Monday on HBO, said on CBS News earlier in the day, "It does a great injustice to his legacy. To say that he teaches us that deficits don't matter, as [former vice president Dick] Cheney did, is to lie to the American public.

"Ronald Reagan felt very great regret about the deficits to which he contributed on his watch. To say that Reagan teaches us that we should be against amnesty for illegal immigrants is to contradict what Reagan himself stood for — that he was in favor of amnesty. Reagan held up at a standard bearer that we should never raise taxes? He raised taxes eleven times while in office."

But many of the general-circulation evaluations of Reagan at 100 ignored Reagan's posture on racial issues, such as his answer on the night in 1983 that he signed the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday bill. Reagan was asked at news conference whether he thought King had been a communist sympathizer. "Well, we'll know in about 35 years, won't we?" the president responded. He later apologized to Coretta Scott King, King's widow.

In a Washington Post/ABC News poll in July 1983, nine of every 10 blacks said blacks had been hurt and not helped by Reagan's policies, and seven of 10 said they did not think Reagan cared that they were hurting.

"I could make a long, long list of the signals Reagan sent to let racists know that they would have a friend in the White House," White wrote. "Among them was his decision — urged by, among others, the affably bigoted former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott — to deliver the first major speech of his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were murdered in one of the 1960s' ugliest cases of racist violence. Reagan gave a ringing declaration of his support for 'states' rights' — code words for resistance to black advances, and clearly understood by white Southerners."

Super Bowl's 111 Million Viewers Set Record

Sunday's Super Bowl extra"Super Bowl XLV Sunday night on Fox averaged 111 million total viewers, according to Nielsen fast-national ratings, making it the most-watched television program in U.S. history, overtaking last year's Super Bowl XLIV ratings record of 106.5 million viewers," Andrea Morabito reported Monday for Broadcasting & Cable.

"It is the fourth consecutive Super Bowl to set a viewership record. The game scored a 46.0/69 household rating/share, tying the 1996 Super Bowl as the highest rated Super Bowl since 1986."

Readers seeking keepsakes flocked to the lobby of the Green Bay (Wis.) Press-Gazette Monday after the Green Bay Packers' 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It's been an incredibly hectic and rewarding few days. We have topped 2.5 million page views since 12:01 a.m. Monday, so our 24-hour count ending at 11:59 tonight will go higher," Executive Editor John Dye told Journal-isms at 6 p.m. Central time.

"We had to reprint both a Sunday 'EXTRA' edition Sunday night (Feb. 6) and today's (Monday, Feb. 7) edition because of sales demands," Dye continued by e-mail.

"Gross press runs for the EXTRA now are 170,000 copies and the total for Monday's paper is 115,000. We won't know for several days on actual sales numbers until the unsold 'return' copies are returned to the Press-Gazette. Still, those are good numbers for us, with the press run for a typical Monday after a Packers regular season game around 50,000 copies."

For others, the Super Bowl commercials or the safety of the players generated commentary.

Black History, Yes, but What About Black Calamity?

"Here we are, another Black History Month: time to lionize great black men and women of the past. Twenty-eight days to praise the first African American to do this and the first African American who did that," Colbert I. King wrote Saturday in the Washington Post. "Another month of looking back with pride — as we ignore the calamity in our midst.

"When Black History Month was celebrated in 1950, according to State University of New York research, 77.7 percent of black families had two parents. As of January 2010, according to the Census Bureau, the share of two-parent families among African Americans had fallen to 38 percent.

"We know that children, particularly young male African Americans, benefit from parental marriage and from having a father in the home. Today, the majority of black children are born to single, unmarried mothers.

"Celebrate? Let's celebrate."

Along more traditional black history lines, WNET-TV, the public television station in New York, announced that Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was producing "Black in Latin America" for airing in April and May on PBS.

"Black in Latin America" is the third of a trilogy that began in 1999 with the broadcast of Gates' first series for public television, "Wonders of the African World," an exploration of the relationship between Africa and the New World, WNET said, a story Gates continued in 2004 with "America Beyond the Color Line," a report on the lives of modern-day African Americans.

"Black in Latin America," premiering nationally on the Tuesdays April 19 and 26 and May 3 and 10, at 8 p.m. Eastern time on PBS (check local listings), "examines how Africa and Europe came together to create the rich cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean," the release said.

"Six Latin-American countries are featured in the series: Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru."

Native Writer Sees Irony in Suit by Redskins Owner

"File under irony," Rob Capriccioso wrote last week for Indian Country Today.

"Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins NFL team, is suing the Washington City Paper over a cover story the paper published in November that contained a picture of Snyder doctored to look like a devil with horns.

"The original article took a critical look at several of Snyder’s business and personal practices. Editors at the paper have said they have been more than willing to run corrections or a response, but Snyder hasn’t offered any.

"In his lawsuit, filed with the New York Supreme Court on Feb. 2, Snyder’s lawyers insisted there are 'lies' in the article. Regarding the graphic art for the piece . . .  the suit said it was anti-Semitic: 'In its cover art, the Washington City Paper depicted the Jewish Mr. Snyder in a blatantly anti-Semitic way, complete with horns, bushy eyebrows and dollar signs.'

"The suit continued, 'This is precisely the type of imagery used historically, including in Nazi Germany, to dehumanize and vilify the Jewish people and associate them with a litany of libels over the last 2,000 years.'

"Snyder is suing for $2 million.

"The claim comes as ironic to many observers since Native Americans have for over a decade been suing Snyder for his use of the Redskins name and trademark. The word redskins has historically been used derogatorily toward Indians, and is highly offensive."

Press Freedom Group Opens Center for Haitian Journalists

The international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders opened a Media Operations Center in Haiti for journalists who had been left without means of working, the group said last week.

According to a survey of Haitian media a year after the earthquake, "The 2 million dollars in reconstruction assistance that the Haitian government promised for the Haitian news media has so far been disbursed to only about 30 media in the capital, which have each received sums ranging from 5,000 to 25,000 dollars.

"The provincial media — especially those in the four worst-hit provincial towns, Jacmel, Léogâne, Grand-Goâve et Petit-Goâve — are still waiting. The culture and communication ministry has promised to disburse their subsidies within the next five months," the group said.

"Half of Port-au-Prince’s radio stations (25 out of a total of about 50) were able to resume broadcasting within a month of the earthquake, thanks above all to help from Radio France. Virtually all of the capital’s radio and TV stations are now working again, but many of them are handicapped by the same lack of resources from which they already suffered before the earthquake."

The Media Operations Center is being run by Claude Gilles, the Reporters Without Borders correspondent in Haiti who works with the daily Le Nouvelliste.

Short Takes

  • In Chicago, "In honor of her life and contributions, Macy's is celebrating the legendary style icon, Eunice Johnson," theGrio.com reported on Friday. "Mrs. Johnson, who was the wife of the late John Johnson, patriarch of Johnson Publishing, launched the Ebony Fashion Fair in 1958. Back then, it was virtually unheard of for an African-American woman to run a business, let [alone] rub shoulders with the European fashion elite."

  • "Una Vez Mas has completed its acquisition of two full-power television stations, KNWS in Houston, which has been renamed KYAZ-51, and the KLDT in Dallas, Texas, which is now known as KAZD-55. Both stations are now affiliates of the Azteca America network. The stations were purchased out of the pending Johnson Broadcasting bankruptcy," George Winslow reported Thursday for Broadcasting & Cable.

  • FishbowlLA was criticized in this space for inattention to activities of journalists of color, but last week the website's Richard Horgan covered members of the University of Missouri chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, who traveled to Los Angeles in the snow to network with L.A. media leaders

  • Mike Jones, who covered the Washington Redskins for TBD.com and before that was lead beat writer on the Washington Wizards NBA team for the Washington Times, started Monday at the Washington Post, covering the Redskins. He succeeds Jason Reid, who filled the columnist's slot vacated by Michael Wilbon.

  • Current and former Bay Area journalists are asked to participate in the San Francisco Bay Area Journalist Census 2000-2010. It "aims to assess the employment experiences of journalists working in the Bay Area and the opportunities available to them today both within the changing field of journalism and beyond. Our ultimate goal is to enhance the economic and professional prosperity of Bay Area journalists," says the message from the North Valley Job Training Consortium, a federally funded nonprofit employment and training agency. Luther Jackson, the consortium's economic stimulus manager, is formerly executive officer of the San Jose Newspaper Guild/CWA Local 39098. The survey will be live until Thursday. For more information, visit www.journalistcensus.org.

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Comments

Huffington Sale

Why is it that something about this sale and the "overseeing" of material by Ariana Huffington not sit right with me? Another mega-deal where people of color are not the key decision makers. 

Huffington Takes Control of Black Voices, AOL Latino, Patch

Arianna Huffington has "cojones." She is also a "climber." AOL's chief needs to keep an eye on his job. And, African-American writers need to push for compensation from Huffington. Reportedly, she likes freebies. Isn't working for nothing on the HuffPo plantation called slavery?

Huffington/AOL Sale: Where do I apply?

Until I get the capital to create my own interactive aggregate site ( PLANE IDEAS.BLOGSPOT.COM is currently a work in progress;-)...

I plan to calibrate my skill set and talents to supply content for this undertaking.... I am sure Arianna will exploit the bandwidth of folks who value my views, insights and commentaries....Plus I could use the $$$$$

Thrasher

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