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NPR, ESPN, Gwen Ifill Win Peabodys

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sick Economy Kills "Illest Men's Magazine Ever"


The 1967 Winston-Salem State University men's basketball team was part of ESPN's "Black Magic" documentary, which won a Peabody award for excellence in the electronic media.

Chauncey Bailey Project Honored 2nd Time by IRE

Reports questioning the guilt of black men who were kept in solitary confinement for more than three decades, an ESPN documentary that examined the civil rights movement through basketball players, coaches and programs at historically black colleges The Chauncey Bailey Project has produced more than 140 stories and posted numerous multimedia packages. and universities, and public television's "Washington Week with Gwen Ifill" were among the winners of the celebrated George Foster Peabody Awards announced on Wednesday.

CNN was honored for its election-season coverage, and the director of the awards told Journal-isms that CNN's diversity played a part in its recognition.

The Peabody awards follow by a day the announcement by Investigative Reporters and Editors that the Chauncey Bailey Project, formed by a collaboration of news organizations to continue the work of Bailey, the black journalist assassinated in 2007, earned one of IRE's awards for a second year.

"Under the most difficult of circumstances, the reporters exposed deep flaws in the police investigation of the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey," IRE said of the project, which began with a suggestion posted on the Journal-isms message board. "Through tenacious reporting and deep source development, Chauncey Bailey Project reporters Thomas Peele, Mary Fricker, Bob Butler, Josh Richman and A.C. Thompson reported on a stunning videotape linking someone to the murder, yet the individual has not been charged in the case and the evidence has been seemingly overlooked or dismissed by police.

Gwen Ifill The Peabody announcement said of "Washington Week": "Thoughtful, informed and timely, the political talk show that sets the standard for the genre supplemented its contribution to the national discourse in 2008 with a series of live events far outside the Beltway."

Both IRE and the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, which awards the Peabodys, honored Lee Zurik of WWL-TV in New Orleans for a rolling investigation of 50 television segments that uncovered corruption in a city agency charged with helping rebuild homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"Following a source's tip, reporter Lee Zurik and his team examined New Orleans Affordable Housing records and found that money was paid to contractors to repair homes that never received any improvements - or didn't exist at all. WWL's investigation found close ties between agency managers, Mayor Ray Nagin, and the contractors doing the alleged improvements. The journalist stuck to the story in the face of public intimidation and strong initial denials by Nagin. In court, WWL forced the city to disclose agency records. The results were impressive: The program was suspended, the employees were fired and a federal grand jury launched an investigation."

The NPR report on the Louisiana prisoners also won both IRE and Peabody awards. As NPR reported in a follow-up last month, inmates Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace "were convicted of the 1972 murder while they were inmates at Angola prison after a racially charged investigation. Woodfox and Wallace are black; the victim," Brent Miller, "was white.

"The two men were sent to solitary confinement, where they have remained for the better part of four decades. But recently, new witnesses and evidence have raised questions about the men's guilt."

At 36 years, "It's the longest any inmate has spent in isolation in modern U.S. history," Laura Sullivan reported on "All Things Considered" in October.

IRE gave the Detroit Free Press still another honor for uncovering the text-messaging scandal that resulted in the downfall of Kwame Kilpatrick as mayor of Detroit. "Detroit Free Press reporters Jim Schaefer and M. L. Elrick spent four years trying to get text messages that Detroit's mayor exchanged with his top aide, eventually breaking stories of their affair, exposing perjury, and the expenditure of $9 million of taxpayer money spent to cover up wrongdoing and vast corruption in the Kwame Kilpatrick administration," it said.

The commercial-free, two-part, four-hour ESPN film, "Black Magic," was directed by filmmaker Dan Klores and co-produced by Klores and Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe, the basketball legend and Winston-Salem State University graduate  It was supervised at ESPN by Keith Clinkscales, ESPN senior vice president, content development and enterprises.

"From more than 200 hours of interviews and footage, the film reveals the plight of HBCU players and coaches as a stark but proud one, filled with obstacles at every turn. From separate leagues and facilities, to championship games and titles that never qualified for the history books, all the way to secret games played between blacks and whites in defiance of the law, players and programs at HBCUs not only thrived, but laid the groundwork for the proliferation of the modern athlete," ESPN said at the time.

CNN  won a Peabody for its coverage of the 2008 presidential primary  campaigns and debates. The previous year, CNN won a "best practices" award from the National Association of Black Journalists. The CNN panels analyzing the campaign developments nearly always included African American and Hispanic representation.

In a statement, Dr. Horace Newcomb, the Peabody director, cited CNN's use of "new technologies and informed analysts to explain and inform."

He told Journal-isms, "Diversity of many sorts did come into our discussions throughout this year's deliberations. We did note that CNN's diversity of race, gender, ethnicity, political perspective all played a role in leading to excellent coverage of the primaries. We even noted a diverse range of technologies that added to the coverage. We hope our awards will continue to encourage steps in these directions."

Among the other Peabody winners were KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, for "Crossfire: Water, Power and Politics," a "brave, meticulous examination of a plan to pipe massive amounts of water from rural Nevada to booming Sin City and the potential consequences for ranchers, farmers, Native Americans and the environment"; PBS' "POV," for "Campaign," co-produced with the Center for Asian American Media, a "revealing, sometimes painfully funny documentary" about a Japanese political campaign; and HBO for "Nanking," a "remembrance of a small group of Westerners who saved thousands of Chinese during the 1937 'rape of Nanking' by Japanese invaders." [Updated April 2.] 

N. Korea Says It Will Put U.S. Journalists on Trial

"Two American journalists detained in North Korea will be indicted and tried on charges of perpetrating 'hostile acts' against the Communist state, a crime punishable by years in a labor camp, the North’s state-run news agency reported on Tuesday," Choe Sang-Hun reported from Seoul, South Korea, for the New York Times. 

In custody in Pyongyang: Euna Lee, left, and Laura Ling Joohee Cho added Tuesday from Seoul for ABC News: "'We can clearly see that North Korea has begun to use those reporters as a bargaining chip,' said Moo-Jin Yang, professor at the Graduate School of North Korean Studies . . . '

"Euna Lee and Laura Ling, reporters for the San Francisco-based Current TV founded by former Vice President Al Gore, were detained by North Korean guards at the northern border with China March 17."

"It is by no means clear that Ling and Lee were arrested on North Korean territory," Reporters Without Borders said.

"Several sources on the Chinese side of the frontier told Reporters Without Borders that the North Korean border guards probably crossed the Tumen (the river that forms the border) while Ling and Lee were filming on the Chinese bank. In a documentary made by South Korean journalists called 'On the border,' North Korean border guards can be seen crossing the river and landing on the Chinese side without running into any problems."

"North Korea is a black hole for independent local and foreign media,"
the general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, Aidan White, said Wednesday in Washington.

ABC's report quoted Hak-Soon Paik, a senior fellow at Sejong Institute, who said North Korea's leaders "are well aware of the fact that the Obama administration will have no choice but to put priority on negotiating the release of those two women, because they are American citizens. Those talks could only be dealt with in a bilateral situation and that's exactly what Pyongyang has been striving for when negotiating missiles and nuclear programs."

Sun-Sentinel, Last U.S. Newspaper in Cuba, Pulls Out

Ray Sanchez"In yet another symbol of the fall of American newspapers, the man billed as the 'only U.S. reporter based in Havana' is leaving Cuba," Bob Norman reported Monday for Florida's Broward-Palm Beach Post.

"Sun-Sentinel Executive Editor Earl Maucker told staff during a meeting on Friday that the newspaper is shutting down its bureau in Havana and bringing reporter Ray Sanchez . . . to work in Fort Lauderdale, a newspaper source confirmed.

"Since the Dallas Morning News bureau in Cuba was shut down in 2004, the Sun-Sentinel's Havana bureau, jointly run with the Chicago Tribune, has been the only U.S. newspaper operation on the island. The only American news organizations left with a presence on the island are AP, NBC, and CNN."

When Sanchez left Newsday in 2007, he told Journal-isms, "I left Newsday after nearly 15 years of work there because I was fortunate enough to land a job in Havana. It's an incredible time to be in Cuba."

Boston Globe Writer Volunteers to Be Laid Off

Nicole Wong, a business reporter at the Boston Globe, volunteered to be laid off so that another journalist could remain at the paper. She’s now looking for work, Chris Rausch wrote Tuesday on his Talking Biz News Web site.

"In an e-mail to Talking Biz News, Wong states, 'One co-worker yesterday jokingly marveled that it hadn’t made Romenesko yet. I told him: I’m not prominent enough!

“'Today’s my last day at the Globe. I will be in the office this afternoon to pack up and call sources.'

"Wong joined the Globe in 2007. Before that she was in Silicon Valley at the San Jose Mercury News for 5.5 years, most recently as a business and technology reporter covering the computer industry (Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems), tech culture and workplace issues.

"Ironically, she was also laid off from the Mercury News."

Oprah to Inaugurate Michael Eric Dyson Radio Show

Oprah Winfrey is confirmed as Michael Eric Dyson's first guest on his new public radio show, the African American Public Radio Consortium announced on Tuesday. Other confirmed guests to appear in the show's first two weeks include Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Spike Lee, Hill Harper, Donna Brazile, Samuel L. Jackson and Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, the consortium said.

"Michael has a broad range of relationships," Loretta Rucker, executive director of the consortium, told Journal-isms. The show "will be a platform" for Dyson, the academic, author, talk-show pundit and minister, to use those contacts.

As reported on Monday, the consortium, which sparked "The Tavis Smiley Show," its successor "News & Notes" and "Tell Me More" with Michel Martin, all on National Public Radio, is launching the Dyson show on Monday in partnership with Baltimore's WEAA-FM, the Morgan State University station. It is to air initially in 18 markets, mainly on the radio stations at historically black colleges and universities.

Unlike the previous shows, however, Dyson's show will not be produced by NPR, which will have a role only in distributing the show. There will be no reporters or other journalists.  But distribution will not be limited to NPR stations, Rucker said. "This is the exact outcome we were hoping for," she said. "We are creating a whole new model." The hour-long show will be produced by WEAA in Baltimore and recorded at XM Studios in Washington.

Dyson's show will have a smaller budget than the NPR efforts, Rucker said. The daily feed will go out at 1 p.m., and a Web site,, will be created for online listeners, Rucker said.

The initial markets are Baltimore; Montgomery, Ala.; Huntsville, Ala.; Atlanta; Waterloo, Iowa; Jackson, Miss.; Alcorn, Miss.; Holly Springs, Miss.; Las Vegas; Durham, N.C.; Raleigh, N.C.; Elizabeth City, N.C.; Fayetteville, N.C.; Winston-Salem N.C.; Wilberforce, Ohio; Houston; Prairie View, Texas and Norfolk, Va.

A spokeswoman for the consortium said she did not know what Winfrey planned to talk about. 

Sick Economy Kills "Illest Men's Magazine Ever"

King's last issue is in productionAfter six years and 50 issues, King magazine, which dubs itself "the illest men's magazine ever," is folding, publisher Dennis S. Page confirmed Wednesday.

King's full-time staff of about seven is being let go, he said, and its next issue, now in production, will be its last.

"It's brutal out there," Page told Journal-isms. "It's the worst economic conditions in 30 years."

Page is also publisher of SLAM (on basketball), XXL (hip-hop music), Rides (automobiles) and Antenna ("what drops next" in consumer products). All are published by New York-based Harris Publications.

King reported an average circulation of 173,530 for the six months ending Dec. 31, down 11.3 percent from the year before.  Advertising, not circulation, was the problem, Page said. The publication's revenue staples were automobile and alcohol ads.

Page said XXL, as a music magazine, did not have the same problem and that there were "no concerns" about it folding.

Rumors of King's demise hit rap-music Web sites on Wednesday.

On, "Respectedwoman" wrote, "This is a good thing for Black America. Degrading woman and glorifying the rap lifestyle is outdated and tired. Maybe now, we can look up to our real black role models instead of woman and men who have no morals or anything valuable to add to society. Take your business expertise, founders and employees of King, and make the world see that you are all intelligent, capable people who are truly a force. I believe you all can make a difference in changing the landscape of black entainment."

That was followed by a post from "Deamonghod": "no wonder i wasnt geting my shit on time i havent recieved teh mag in almost 6 months serves you right dammit*with tears in my eyes* dammit Damiit dammit!! i feel as if my cat died...imma miss King regardless:)" [Renderings of both messages (sic).]


Student journalist Shannon McDonald tells WTXF, the Fox station in Philadelphia, that she quoted a police officer's racist language accurately. Watch video.

Student Quotes White Cop Likening Blacks to Animals

"A college class assignment may have gotten a Philadelphia police officer into some hot water," Dafney Tales reported Tuesday in the Philadelphia Daily News.

"William Thrasher, a white cop in the 22nd District, at 17th and Montgomery, has been put on desk duty after an article written by a Temple University student quoted him describing his disgust for black people in the district where he works, likening them to animals and calling their problems 'typical n---- s---,' or 'TNS,' during a ride-along with the student Jan. 30.

"The article enraged The Guardian Civic League, an organization of black Philadelphia police officers, which is calling for his dismissal."

Andrew Mendelson, who chairs the Temple University Department of Journalism, told Journal-isms the story was written at the beginning of February by Shannon McDonald, a white student who is managing editor of the Temple News, for a multimedia urban journalism workshop. Her account of her ride-along with Thrasher was picked up by Domelight, a police officer's blog, and slowly reached the mainstream media.

Now the student herself is in the news, and "She's handling it really well," Mendelson said. "It's a great teachable moment" in issues such as whether the officer should have been named, and how to handle the news media.

Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore cautioned not to immediately judge the officer, the Daily News reported, saying, "We don't know the validity of this article." But Chris Harper, an associate journalism professor who edited McDonald's story, stood by it.

Short Takes

  • While other politicians yukked it up with journalists at Washington's annual Gridiron Dinner, Donna Brazile, Democratic Party official and CNN commentator, says she eschewed reporters and "spent the entire night" Donna Brazilenext to the wife of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. "I'm a great believer in pillow talk," Brazile said Tuesday at the Smithsonian Institution's "1968 and Beyond: A Symposium on the Impact of the Black Power Movement on America." As the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, the Supreme Court this month is considering whether a tiny utility board in Austin, Texas, should be subject to the Voting Rights Act's heaviest burden ‚Äî pre-clearance by federal authorities for even the smallest changes in election laws and procedures ‚Äî and whether Congress exceeded its authority in 2006 by extending the restrictions for 25 years. Kennedy's could be the swing vote.
  • "A federal shield bill that would give reporters a qualified privilege from revealing confidential sources was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday night," the Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press said. "The measure would grant legal protection to journalists who refuse to reveal confidential sources or notes. So far, 49 states have legislative, administrative or other protections. There are no such protections at the federal level," the Society of Professional Journalists added, praising the House action.
  • Ronald GordonTelemundo is consolidating "creative services, traffic and other support functions of its Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, San Jose and Denver stations under one organizational structure based in Dallas/Fort Worth," according to a Telemundo memo quoted¬†by Veronica Villafa?±e's Media Moves. The Spanish-language NBC-owned network named Ronald Gordon president of the Telemundo Television Station Group.
  • Carlos Watson is joining MSNBC as a dayside anchor, MSNBCV announced¬†on Tuesday. Watson, a campaign manager and chief of staff for former Florida state Rep. Daryl Jones who managed Bill Clinton's 1992 Election Day effort in Miami-Dade County, Fla., began a television career in 2003 and has been a contributor to the network for the last several months. He will also continue to appear on "Morning Joe."
  • In commemoration of the 41st anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.‚Äôs assassination, CNN is replaying "Black in America¬†‚Äì Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination." The special re-airs Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and PT.
  • Morning anchor Roop Raj will depart WDSU-TV in New Orleans at the end of April for an anchor-reporter post at WJBK-TV in his Detroit hometown, Dave Walker reported¬†Tuesday in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
  • CBS News anchor Russ Mitchell is to accept the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism on Friday at his alma mater, the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. The medal, first given in 1930, is one of journalism's most prestigious awards, the school said. "Mitchell will present a master class, 'The New Real World of TV News' prior to the ceremony. It will be streamed live at¬†from 11 to 11:50 a.m., as he speaks to students."
  • "Rodolfo Jos?© C?°rdenas will no longer anchor Univision Denver's 5 and 10 pm newscasts. He said goodbye to his viewers yesterday on the air. Veronica Villafa?±e reported¬†Wednesday in her Media Moves blog.
  • "Hall of Famer Dave Winfield is joining the large group of ESPN baseball analysts, the network announced," Diane Pucin reported¬† Tuesday for the Los Angeles Times. "Winfield will work mostly on Sundays and some Mondays on the 'Baseball Tonight' show with host Karl [Ravech] and fellow analysts Peter Gammons and John Kruk. Winfield's first appearance will be Sunday at 4 p.m. Pacific time on ESPN2, on the show leading in to the opening night game between World Series champion Philadelphia and Atlanta."
  • "As editor and publisher of a small-town newspaper in the Mississippi Delta, Hazel Brannon Smith was boycotted by fellow whites and condemned in the state Senate because she advocated equal treatment of blacks during the volatile 1950s and '60s," the Associated Press reported from Jackson, Miss., this week. "Now, 15 years after Smith died penniless, Mississippi lawmakers have approved a resolution to belatedly honor her courage."
  • "The name of Sarah Park, a Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter who died in a plane crash 52 years ago this month, is now etched in glass in the soaring two-story Journalists Memorial, along with 1,912 newspeople from around the world who died or were killed covering a story," Craig Gima reported¬†Monday for the Star-Bulletin. "In a rededication ceremony this morning, Park‚Äôs name and the names of 76 other journalists ‚Äî 15 from previous years and 62 from last year ‚Äî were read aloud. Each name was followed by the ringing of a chime and a photo could be seen on a video monitor."
  • In the Horn of Africa, a court in Bosaso, the main port city of the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland, yesterday sentenced freelance journalist Jama Ayanle Feyte to two years in prison, Reporters Without Borders said¬†it had learned from its partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists. "Feyte was not defended by a lawyer at the trial, which was held four days after he was arrested in Bosaso. He was accused of defamation and disseminating false information but the authorities did not specify what prompted the charges."

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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Blacks in the White House Press Corps (Rudolph Brewington)

Knowing he can't remember everyone, and with all due respect to my old friend and fellow journalist Askia Muhammad, a couple of journalists of color who covered the White House were omitted. ("A Short History of Blacks in White House Press Corps," March 30.) Let's start with Bob Ellison, who was the White House correspondent for the-then Sheridan Broadcasting Network (SBN), now called the American Urban Radio Networks, for several years circa 1984-1988. As a news anchor with SBN, I had the pleasure of introducing and airing many of Bob's reports offering the Black perspective on the presidency and activities at the White House. In addition to reporting from the White House, Bob accompanied the president on a number of occasions around the country. April Ryan succeeded Bob at the position. Not to blow my own horn, prior to anchoring at SBC, I covered the White House for WRC Radio/NBC Radio News on a number of occasions. One of my fondest memories was being assigned by the desk editor to report on a demonstration by farmers outside the White House, because the regular correspondent - who shall go nameless so as not to embarrass her - was enjoying herself at a state dinner for then-Romanian President Nicolae Ceau?escu. When she found out I was scooping her on her own beat, she rushed back to the news booth, clad in a glamorous dinner gown, and I had to shoosh her, saying, "We're getting ready on the air live." You should have seen the look on her face! I also attended one or two presidential news conferences, but like Roy Betts, Don Agurs and later Glen Ford representing Mutual Black Network and Tamu White of Howard University Radio, was never called on. No, I wasn't a member of the regular White House press corps, but when news dictated it, I found myself going through the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. That wasn't my only trip to the place some people regarded as "another planet." Back in 1965-1967, as a member of the Marine Honor Guard, I participated in a number of ceremonies at the White House. And in 1999, I had the privilege of taking my family into the Oval Office for a visit, complete with photos, with then-President Bill Clinton. For a good five minutes the most powerful man on the planet and I "kicked it" on subjects ranging from border safety to foreign policy, confirming for me the brilliance and diversity the man had. And, let me share this: No matter how blas?© or nonchalant members of the press corps act, believe me all of them know it's a special treat to be reporting from the White House. Rudolph Brewington

As a news anchor with SBN, I

As a news anchor with SBN, I had the pleasure of introducing and airing many of Bob's reports offering the Black perspective on the presidency and activities at the White House. In addition to reporting from the White House, Bob accompanied the president on a number of occasions around the country. April Ryan succeeded Bob at the position. Not to blow my own horn, prior to anchoring at SBC

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