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AP Spurns Appeals to Save Intern Program

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"They're Getting Rid of It for 2011," Disappointed Grad Says

Obama Was Right: Public Didn't Want to Keep All Tax Cuts

Terminated Reporter's Lawsuit Against Fox Goes to Court

Pacifica Radio to Air Al-Jazeera Broadcasts, Is Cash-Strapped

Daytime Anchor Tony Harris Out at CNN

Carlos Guerra, Pioneering Latino Columnist, Dies at 63

Wilbon Pleased That Columnists Are "Discussion Leaders"

"Taliban" Takes Credit for Bombing That Killed Journalists

Short Takes

Jayson Addcox, left, speaks with Terry Chea, San Francisco-based writer for the Associated Press, while Gary Moskowitz, center, speaks with another recruiter from the AP at a job fair at San Francisco State University's Center for the Integration and Improvement of Journalism. (Credit ©CIIJ)

"They're Getting Rid of It for 2011," Disappointed Grad Says

Despite appeals from journalism groups to preserve the 26-year-old internship program that has launched the careers of many a successful journalist, AP chief executive officer Tom Curley is making it clear that as far as he is concerned, the program is dead.

"AP officials have confirmed that the news service's internship program will be eliminated as a part of an overall restructuring," Unity: Journalists of Color said Wednesday in a news release. Unity president Barbara Ciara told Journal-isms that she proposed to Curley Tuesday that the two groups work together to find a way to rescue the program but that Curley was not interested.

"I was pleasantly surprised that he took my call right away — but not happy about the outcome," Ciara said. "I pressed some other subscribers into action to ring him up — but I think it's a done deal."

On Wednesday, John Yearwood, world editor of the Miami Herald and a 1986 graduate of the program, talked to Curley as well. "It seems to me from listening to him it was a done deal. They're getting rid of it for 2011," Yearwood told Journal-isms. "There probably is an opportunity to change his mind, but it will be very, very difficult."

Ciara said that Curley told her, "There is no benefit in discussing our budget process."

Tony Winton, president of the News Media Guild, told Journal-isms on Tuesday that AP management said the program costs $600,000 to $800,000 a year. The interns are paid union scale. Winton said the guild would continue to advocate for the internships and raise the issue during contract negotiations. "Advancement is part of our bargaining agenda," he said.

Others who have made appeals are the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Informed of Ciara's comments, AP spokesman Paul Colford said late Wednesday, "I have nothing further at this time."

In its news release, Unity urged Curley to reconsider. "While UNITY understands the financial challenges facing AP and all news organizations, we believe the news service can only gain, economically and in the quality of its product, by retaining creative young journalists who can drive AP's content toward a demographic it may otherwise fail to reach," it said. The internship program began as a tool to increase the pool of journalists of color.

"One may look no further than to the program's alumni to see that they have already [benefited] the news service and the industry as a whole. One former intern, Anthony Marquez, runs AP's Los Angeles bureau, one of its largest. Another, Donna [Bryson], is AP's bureau chief in South Africa. And former intern Michael Feeney was recently named the National Association of Black Journalists' Emerging Journalist of the year," Unity said.

"Twenty-four young journalists are trained each year through the AP program. They are a small number who make a major difference in a multi-media world."

Yearwood told Journal-isms that Curley indicated there was a chance — but only a chance — that he would restore the program in 2012.

"It was grueling, but the internship program is like going into the military," Yearwood said. "It's skills that you'll have for the rest of your life. I still use those skills every single day."

President Obama said at his news conference on Tuesday, "We weren’t operating from a position of political weakness with respect to public opinion." (Video)

Obama Was Right: Public Didn't Want to Keep All Tax Cuts

In explaining Tuesday why he made a deal with Republicans on tax cuts that includes cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which he opposes, President Obama said at his news conference, "This is not a situation in which I have failed to persuade the American people of the rightness of our position." The Pew Research Center confirms that on that, at least, Obama was right.

Pew reported on Tuesday, "In a survey conducted before Obama and GOP leaders agreed to temporarily extend all Bush-era tax cuts, most Americans (80%) favor preserving at least some of the tax cuts. However, just a third (33%) of Americans say they favor keeping all of the expiring tax cuts; 47% favor keeping just the tax cuts for income below $250,000, while just 11% want to end all of the tax cuts.

"Only about one-in-five Democrats (18%) favor keeping all of the tax cuts, compared with 33% of independents and 53% of Republicans.

Pew also said: "The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 1-5 among 1,500 adults, finds that 45% approve of Obama’s job performance while about as many (43%) disapprove. Obama’s job ratings have changed little since September.

"Obama’s job approval ratings among Democrats remain strong (77% approve), and there is little evidence that Democrats think he is going along too much with GOP leaders in Congress. Only about [a] quarter of Democrats (23%) say he is going along too much, while about twice as many (48%) say he is going along the right amount.

"However, Obama gets mixed ratings from Democrats and Democratic leaners for how well he stands up for his party’s traditional positions on such issues as protecting the interests of minorities, helping the poor and needy and representing working people. Only about half of Democrats and Democratic leaners (54%) say Obama is doing an excellent or good job of advocating the party’s traditional positions, while 43% say he is doing only fair or poor. White Democrats and Democratic leaners are divided over Obama’s performance in standing up for the party’s traditional positions in these areas (51% excellent/good vs. 47% only fair/poor). By contrast, black Democrats and leaners offer much more positive assessments (70% vs. 29%)."

In the words of David Kocieniewski of the New York Times, "The deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for two years includes a bevy of additional credits and deductions that will reduce the burden on nearly all households.

"But the tax benefits will flow most heavily to the highest earners, just as the original cuts did when they were passed in 2001 and 2003. At least a quarter of the tax savings will go to the wealthiest 1 percent of the population."

Obama said at his news conference, "We weren’t operating from a position of political weakness with respect to public opinion. The problem is that Republicans feel that this is the single most important thing that they have to fight for as a party. And in light of that, it was going to be a protracted battle and they would have a stronger position next year than they do currently."

[NPR announced Thursday that it will broadcast an interview with Obama Friday on "Morning Edition." "The interview, taking place this afternoon at the White House, will focus on the administration’s economic policy and will be conducted by Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep," it said.]

Terminated Reporter's Lawsuit Against Fox Goes to Court

Rebecca Aguilar" Dallas-based Fox4's long-running leading ladies were center stage Tuesday as attorneys continued to build cases for and against former reporter Rebecca Aguilar on Day Two of her wrongful termination civil suit against the station's parent corporations," Dallas television writer Ed Bark reported Wednesday on his blog.

"News director Maria Barrs took the stand at 3:20 p.m.," Bark wrote. Aguilar "became an advocate for more Hispanic managers in the Fox news room, Barrs said. 'I think they came from her heart,' she said of the newsroom memos Aguilar occasionally wrote and distributed.

" 'I'm a big believer in diversity,' said Barrs, who is Asian-American. She also recalled having several meetings with Aguilar on the subject of improved and more knowledgeable news coverage of D-FW's growing Hispanic community.

"But the two sharply and definitively parted ways after Aguilar's much-publicized and controversial interview with a then 70-year-old West Dallas salvage business owner who had shot and killed two alleged burglars within three weeks time in fall 2007.

"She said that Aguilar 'misled' the station in terms of James Walton's willingness to do an interview outside a sporting goods store after he had purchased another shotgun.

"Our newsroom was getting flooded with angry phone calls because people thought we were bullying a man who had been the victim of a crime," Barrs said.

"Barrs, who did not see the story before or when it aired, said she then reviewed the tape and reached roughly the same conclusion. Aguilar was escorted from the news room on the following day, October 16, 2007, and has never returned. On March 5, 2008, the station exercised the option it had not to renew her two-year contract at its midway point. Aguilar received her salary throughout that period as mandated by a standard 'pay or play' clause in the contract."

Aguilar, who joined KDFW-TV in early 1994, was the National Association of Hispanic Journalist's "Broadcast Journalist of the Year" in 2007.

Pacifica to Air Al-Jazeera Broadcasts, Is Cash-Strapped

"Noncommercial Pacifica Radio will add news broadcasts from the Middle East-based Al Jazeera English TV news channel to Pacifica's five stations across the United States," Paul Farhi reported Tuesday in the Washington Post.

"In a first-of-its-kind agreement, Pacifica said Monday that its radio stations in New York, Houston and Berkeley, Calif., will add an hour of audio news from AJE to their early-morning schedules this week; its Los Angeles and Washington stations will do the same sometime next year.

"Berkeley-based Pacifica thus becomes the first American radio broadcaster to air programming from AJE, the English-language offshoot of the Arabic-language Al Jazeera network."

Farhi reported in September that, "In an internal memo to the organization's national board, Steve Brown, a former member of the board overseeing Pacifica-owned WBAI-FM in New York, advised Pacifica to consider 'the blowback' from associating itself with Al Jazeera. . . . While Brown conceded he didn't know the religious affiliation of Pacifica's donors, he wrote that the loss of support from a fraction could damage Pacifica. 'Could we survive without having to sell off a station?' he wrote."

Meanwhile, the Pacifica Foundation remains in financial crisis. George Reiter, who chairs the Pacifica National Board, wrote this in an internal memo last month about KPFA in Berkeley: "The board in 2009 mandated reductions in staff that the management at the time didn’t make and the ED [executive director] didn’t enforce. The cash reserves of KPFA, about $800,000 dollars in 2009, are now gone. The board has again this year observed that reductions had to be made, and our Executive Director is seeing to it that it happens."

Separately, Nathan Moore, general administrator of Free Speech Radio News, which supplies alternative news programming to the Pacifica stations, notified the stations that, "Beginning today (Tuesday, Dec 7), you will be hearing an FSRN newscast that is different from what you're used to," that is, one produced with fewer funds. "We WILL continue to deliver a daily program until at least December 20, 2010. But we can no longer guarantee basic operating expenses after that time."

"The situation is this: The large majority of FSRN's income comes from the Pacifica network, and Pacifica's financial difficulties are no secret in community radio circles. For the past 15 months, Pacifica has frequently fallen behind on their monthly payments to FSRN, but they have always caught up when their CPB funds arrived" from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

"Unfortunately, this time around, Pacifica was not able to catch up with FSRN. The Pacifica network currently owes FSRN about $230,000. But they have just paid us only $70,000 on that total. Meanwhile, FSRN has accrued more than $80,000 in debt to our reporters, creditors, and a bridge loan, and our bank balance is very low. Pacifica has promised us future funds, but it is not entirely clear how much or when these will arrive."

Daytime Anchor Tony Harris Out at CNN

Tony Harris, who anchors the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tony Harris(ET) edition of "CNN Newsroom" each weekday, is leaving the network, CNN confirmed Wednesday. Spokeswoman Christal Jones would not elaborate.

Harris was on vacation. "I've got some time off starting Monday," he wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday. TV Newser said Tuesday it had learned that Harris was leaving CNN.

Harris was one of four anchors — Heidi Collins, Kyra Phillips and Don Lemon were the others — tapped for "CNN Newsroom" in 2006. Harris joined CNN/U.S. as a weekend news anchor in September 2004. Before his arrival there, Harris was an anchor for WGCL-46 in Atlanta, where he anchored the station’s evening newscasts, according to his bio.


Carlos Guerra was "roasted" by friends and colleagues for his 60th birthday in June 28, 2007. Victor Landa, standing, a former San Antonio television journalist who emceed the event, tells a joke about Guerra. (Credit: Billy Calzada/San Antonio Express-News)

Carlos Guerra, Pioneering Latino Columnist, Dies at 63

"Carlos Guerra, a former columnist for the San Antonio Express-News who began his career as a civil rights activist, grants writer and fundraiser, was found dead Monday inside a Port Aransas condominium, Elaine Ayala reported for the San Antonio Express-News.

". . . His cause of death was not immediately known, and police said his body was taken to the Nueces County medical examiner’s office.

"Guerra, 63, who retired last year, was an outspoken advocate for increased access to higher education, environmental issues and Latino participation in government and politics. A journalist for many years, he joined the San Antonio Light in 1991 as a columnist. When the paper folded two years later, he was hired by the Express-News, and his face and prose quickly became a staple of the Metro section. His last column was published Sept. 12, 2009.

"In San Antonio, news of his death quickly spread on Facebook and among his former colleagues, who remembered his spirit.

" 'Carlos was a pioneer — a high-profile Latino columnist when there were very, very few to be found in U.S. newspapers, someone who lacked formal journalism training but compensated with a passion for the underdog and a determination to be a voice for the voiceless,' said Express-News Editor Robert Rivard, who was a senior editor at the Light, where Guerra was first hired.

" 'He was a fierce advocate for better education opportunities for Mexican Americans,' Rivard continued, 'and other underserved communities long before such system reforms became a common cause.'

"At the time of his death, Guerra was in the midst of reinventing himself in the public relations field, several friends said."

Wilbon Pleased That Columnists Are "Discussion Leaders"

Michael WilbonIn a farewell column after more than 31 years with the Washington Post, sportswriter Michael Wilbon wrote Tuesday that his favorite enterprise assignment was not about box scores or game analysis, but one that "made people examine their own values and beliefs."

Wilbon, a co-host of ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption," is leaving to devote more time to his ESPN duties. He was the Post's only full-time sports columnist of color.

Sports Editor Matt Vita told Journal-isms, "His departure leaves us with four columnists: two women, two men, all white. And we will be filling the position."

ESPN announced Wednesday that Wilbon "will expand his role with ESPN as a featured columnist for and, ESPN’s local online destination for in-depth sports coverage of his beloved hometown, in addition to appearing weekly on ESPN Radio 1000’s Waddle and Silvy Show in Chicago." He "delivers his first column and chat at 1:30 p.m. ET today on and"

He wrote in his Post farewell that, "Probably my favorite enterprise assignment, one I viewed skeptically in the beginning was going with Dave Sheinin to Los Angeles during the riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King drama in 1992 to try to find out whether there was any correlation between the decrease in funding for community programs related to sports and recreation and the increase in gang-related activity in the city.

"Oh, yes there was a correlation. Kids who wanted to be running backs, center fielders, sweepers and shooting guards had become, largely through civic neglect, gang leaders. There was nothing quite like being invited one night to the Hollywood Hills home of the one and only Jim Brown to join members of the Crips and Bloods who had accepted his invitation to stop the violence for at least one night to talk about their differences.

"Don't get me wrong; I loved covering some of the greatest events of the end of the 20th century, like the game where Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's streak for consecutive games played. But the stories like the one in Los Angeles were the ones that separated The Washington Post from 99 percent of daily newspapers, and those issues were the ones that began to reshape the discussion of sports in America, the ones that led people to look to columnists essentially as discussion leaders. The complex stories, the ones that made people examine their own values and beliefs, were so far removed from box scores and game analysis, but they now drive viewership and readership."

"Taliban" Takes Credit for Bombing That Killed Journalists

"A Pakistani journalist was shot dead in his home on Sunday and two others were killed in a suicide attack on Monday, according to news reports, as Pakistan joined Mexico as the most lethal country for journalists in 2010," the International Press Institute reported.

"Mehmood Chandio, president of the Mirpurkhas Press Club and bureau chief for the Sindhi-language channel Awaz, was shot by assailants when he answered his door on Sunday. Chandio later succumbed to his injuries after being taken to the hospital."

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper added, "Journalists held a meeting which condemned the killing and urged the authorities to arrest the killers. Journalists and activists of political parties and NGOs held a demonstration and blocked the Mirpurkhas-Hyderabad road near Ratanabad for an hour."

Then on Monday, "Police said two suicide bombers dressed in police uniform attacked a meeting of anti-Taliban militiamen and pro-government elders" in Ghalanai, about 110 miles northwest of Islamabad, Agence France-Presse reported. Forty-three people were killed. Two journalists were among them, the press institute said.

In the Express Tribune in Pakistan, Waqas Rafique wrote a tribute to one of the journalists.

"I must confess I had not heard about Abdul Wahab, Express News
reporter until yesterday, when he too died in the tragedy," Rafique wrote.

". . . It was heartbreaking to find a colleague had died in the line of duty. He was actually inside the compound, reporting on the developments of the meeting going on there when he saw the first suicide bomber. He ran towards the gate of the compound to escape where a guard had overpowered the second suicide bomber. Wahab reached the gate but it was too late. The second bomber blew himself up in the arms of the gate keeper."

Agence France-Presse said, "A purported spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack, threatening death to anyone who forms militias against the Islamists."

The International Federation of Journalists called Pakistan the most dangerous country for journalists so far this year, with 11 journalists and media personnel losing their lives in targeted killings.

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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