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AP's Internship Program Threatened

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Initiative Produced Successful Journalists of Color

NABJ Chooses Bar Association Figure as Executive Director

Wilbon Leaving Washington Post for Unspecified ESPN Role

Photog Didn't Come Forward After Post-Katrina Incident

Capus, Madison Keep Posts in NBCU-Comcast Merger

W. Curtis Riddle to Retire, Oversees 18 Gannett Papers

Ailes Says Williams' $2 Million Came From Anger at NPR

Fresno Bee Scored Over Use of "Illegal Immigrant"

Short Takes

Diversity efforts at the Associated Press have fallen victim to budget issues before.

Initiative Produced Successful Journalists of Color

The Associated Press is considering eliminating its decades-old internship program, which has produced some of the news cooperative's most successful journalists of color, an AP spokesman acknowledged on Friday.

Word raced around the world's largest news organization Friday that a decision had been made to kill the program. Asked whether that was the case, spokesman Paul Colford told Journal-isms, "The AP has made clear internally that it will examine all programs, including internships, as part of its ongoing budgeting process."

The threat to the program comes as an AP selection committee was due to meet in Phoenix on Dec. 2 to choose the next class of interns.

The initiative, formerly known as the Minority Internship Program, started in the early 1980s.

"Associated Press selected 16 college students for its 13th annual Minority Internship program," Editor & Publisher reported in 1997. "The winners, chosen from a field of more than 100, will learn all aspects of the newspaper business while they work in the wire service's bureaus for 13 weeks. The program is open to African-American, Latino, Asian and Native-American students."

Christina Good VoiceCreation of the program followed a settlement negotiated between the AP, the Newspaper Guild and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which in turn followed a 1973 complaint filed with the EEOC by female AP employees. The settlement "included not only back pay but a training program to prepare women for promotional opportunities and an affirmative action plan for women, blacks and Latinos," Kay Mills wrote in her 1988 book, "A Place in the News: From the Women's Pages to the Front Page."

Internship graduates can be found inside and outside of the Associated Press.

At the AP, they include race, ethnicity and demographics editor Sonya Ross; Jesse Washington, writer on race and ethnicity; Los Angeles Bureau Chief Anthony Marquez; Miami Assistant Bureau Chief Michelle Morgante; Arizona/New Mexico Bureau Chief Michael Giarrusso; Deputy National Editor James Martinez; Music Editor Nekesa Moody; White House reporter Darlene Superville and New York reporter Deepti Hajela, a former president of the South Asian Journalists Association. Those outside the AP include Michael Feeney, a reporter for the New York Daily News; Patricia Mays, formerly sports editor at the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif., now with ESPN; authors Denene Millner and Karen Quinones Miller; Christina Good Voice, senior reporter for the Cherokee Phoenix; and Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, a personal finance coach, among others.

Two of the AP's recent moves to improve its coverage of the nation's diversity involve two of those former interns.

In August, Ross, former White House correspondent and currently regional news editor in the Washington bureau, was named to the new position of race/ethnicity/demographics editor.

In 2008, Washington, then the AP's entertainment editor, was selected from among 449 applicants to become the wire service's national writer on race and ethnicity.

The training had an impact beyond the AP bureaus.

"I was a three-time AP intern — Summers of 2005 and '06, then a six-month intern in 2007," Eric Bolin, a Cherokee who attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., told Journal-isms via e-mail. "I learned just about everything I know about journalism in the AP intern program.

"I understand the industry is struggling as a whole, but AP, for my money, is still the most-respected news organization in the world. Young journalists everywhere strive to be AP employees.

"AP was all I ever knew, really. I never interned [at] a daily — or weekly for that matter. I wasn't a newspaper guy. I was an AP guy. To this day, I've never worked at a newspaper. I do correspondent and freelance work for papers, sure, but I still write the way AP taught me.

"I truly hope the internship program is not eliminated. In times like these, we need to be encouraging more journalists to test the boundaries of the profession and the biggest news company in the world, I think, needs to be at the forefront of that."

Good Voice, at the Cherokee Phoenix, agreed.

"I'll be here four years in March," she said by e-mail. "My focus at the Phoenix recently shifted to investigative and in-depth stories and I believe my skills learned at the AP help me to be a strong reporter.

"I was an AP intern twice. I had a 12-week internship in 2005 at the Columbia, S.C., bureau and a six-month internship in 2006 in Oklahoma City.

"I credit the AP for the journalist I am today. News is my life and the AP nurtured my love of journalism during both of my internships. The connections I made at the AP and the hands-on training are second- to-none.

"I sincerely hope the program isn't eliminated because it's helped minorities like myself get their foot in the door when that opportunity might not have otherwise been given to them."

AP's internal diversity efforts have been threatened before by budget issues.

In 2007, the AP canceled that year's "Diverse Visions/Diverse Voices" program after students had submitted their applications by the Feb. 15 deadline.

Diverse Voices was described as "an annual five-day multicultural journalism workshop pairing aspiring student journalists with mentors who are AP writers and editors."

Diverse Visions did the same for aspiring student photojournalists. The programs' promotional material said, "Past participants have joined the staff of The Associated Press and member papers including the Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, Dallas Morning News, Newsday, Tucson Star and many others."

"It's a tremendous loss to the journalistic community," Fred Sweets, former AP photographer, photo editor and diversity advocate, told Journal-isms at the time. "It's a great loss for students, and it's a great loss for the participants, who probably learned more about diversity through their experiences than the students did."

NABJ Chooses Bar Association Figure as Executive Director

Maurice Foster, deputy director of the National Bar Association, has been named executive director of the National Association of Black Journalists, NABJ announced on Friday.

Maurice FosterFoster succeeds Karen Wynn Freeman, who resigned nearly a year ago after a no-confidence vote by the board of directors, most of whom were not in office when Wynn Freeman was selected.

Former broadcast executive Drew Berry, with assistance from JoAnne Lyons Wooten, a former NABJ executive director, helped run the NABJ operation during the search for a successor.

Foster will be the first male executive director of the 35-year-old organization since its early days. He edited the National Bar Association Magazine during part of his tenure with the African American lawyers group.

Foster "brings more than 22 years of diversified leadership experience in association and non-profit management. He is an experienced and proven achiever in fundraising and grants management with a successful record of developing, soliciting, and writing grant proposals, especially in the Washington, D.C. area," the NABJ announcement said. "He has raised and administered millions in federal grants and contracts, and handled budgets for a variety of organizations and programs.

"Additionally, Foster has extensive experience in conference management and has orchestrated and implemented more than 60 conferences and conventions, seminars, and trade shows/exhibits, including international meetings in 15 countries."

Wynn Freeman came to NABJ in 2006 after a financial crisis that led to the resignation of her predecessor, Tangie Newborn. Members of NABJ's board of directors told Journal-isms privately that Wynn Freeman's inability to sufficiently weather the nation's economic downturn was one reason it sought new leadership. But some also spoke of the need for revamping the way NABJ, the nation's largest association of journalists of color, does business.

"Maurice has the experience and vision that we need to help us raise the bar," NABJ President Kathy Y. Times said in Friday's statement. "He hit the ground running this week, and he's working on many of our 2011 initiatives."

Tony Kornheiser, left, and Michael Wilbon joined ESPN from the Washington Post.

Wilbon Leaving Washington Post for Unspecified ESPN Role

After 32 years, Washington Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon "will soon be leaving the Post . . . as he takes on an even greater role for his networks and their parent company, Disney," Post editors announced on Thursday.

"In many respects this should come as no surprise to anyone here, but it doesn’t mean that making this announcement is any easier. The ESPN/ABC rocket ship that Michael Wilbon has been riding the past several years has finally left our orbit," the announcement said.

"Mike is many things. Talented. Gracious. Smart. Witty. He’ll tell you that despite his increasing fame and renown, in his mind he still considers this newspaper to be the only place he’s ever worked. So this decision did not come easy for him. In fact, he long hoped that he would not have to make it."

As recently as 2007, sometime after he cut a four-year deal with Disney for just under $8 million, Wilbon told Harry Jaffe of the Washingtonian magazine, "I'm still a sportswriter on TV. That's my calling."

In a 2009 piece, Jaffe explained, "Wilbon made his mark on national television when he became cohost of ESPN’s 'Pardon the Interruption,' known as 'PTI,' in 2001. Aimed at young sports fanatics with the attention span of video-game addicts, the daily half hour pits Tony Kornheiser and Wilbon in a face-to-face duel about the day’s sporting events that often descends into a shouting match. A bell rings every few minutes to kill one discussion and start another.

"Wilbon also has a contract with ABC Sports to be a commentator on the NBA. His PTI shows are podcast. He does regular chats on"

ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told Journal-isms that Wilbon's new duties are "not finalized."

New Orleans Police Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann aims his weapon on the Claiborne Overpass in New Orleans on Sept. 1, 2005. (Credit: Alex Brandon/Times-Picayune)

Photog Didn't Come Forward After Post-Katrina Incident

"Alex Brandon, a former Times-Picayune photographer, testified in federal court Wednesday that shortly after Katrina, he followed up with Lt. Greg McRae about a strange situation Brandon had stumbled on in the storm's immediate aftermath," Sabrina Shankman wrote Thursday for ProPublica.

"There had been a bleeding man in a car, three handcuffed men lying on the ground, and what appeared to be a 'contentious' situation, Brandon said.

"Sitting in the cafeteria of a makeshift NOPD SWAT compound, the officer, McRae swiped his hand across his neck and said, simply, 'NAT' — police lingo for Necessary Action Taken.

"The man they were referring to was Henry Glover, a 31-year-old resident of Algiers, La., who was shot by a police officer on Sept. 2, 2005, and whose charred remains were later found in a burnt-out car on the levee of the Mississippi River. Glover's death was first detailed by ProPublica nearly two years ago, in partnership with the Nation Institute and the Nation magazine.

"Five years after the shooting, new facts are coming out in the trial of five current or former officers charged in connection with his death and a subsequent cover-up.

"In his testimony on Wednesday, Brandon told the jury that he had walked up to the SWAT compound and seen the three men — Glover's friend, brother and a good Samaritan — lying handcuffed on the ground and saw Glover's body in the car. Officer McRae told him not to take photos, so he didn't.

"In a Times-Picayune article about Brandon, editor Jim Amoss said the newspaper would have expected any news staffer to inform his editor about a violent incident such as Brandon witnessed. But after ProPublica and the Nation magazine broke the story of Glover's death in 2008, Brandon told the paper's photo editor that he had not witnessed any part of the incident.

"Brandon is now working for the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. He declined our request for comment."

Capus, Madison Keep Posts in NBCU-Comcast Merger

Paula Madison and Steve Capus

Comcast officially announced the senior leadership team for the new company to be formed when it completes its acquisition of NBC Universal, and both NBC News president Steve Capus and CNBC president Mark Hoffman remain in place, reporting to incoming CEO Steve Burke, Alex Weprin reported Thursday for TVNewser.

Paula Madison will continue to serve as executive vice president, diversity.

As previously reported, "Lauren Zalaznick will become Chairman, NBC Universal Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media. Bravo, Oxygen, and iVillage will continue to report to Lauren, as will the Integrated Strategic Marketing Group, which oversees initiatives including Green Is Universal, Healthy at NBC Universal and Women at NBC Universal," according to the memo from Burke. "Digital properties Daily Candy and Fandango, Spanish language broadcaster Telemundo, and cable networks mun2, Style, and PBS Sprout will also report to Lauren. Telemundo will continue to be led by Don Browne (President) and Jackie Hernandez (Chief Operating Officer); Salaam Coleman Smith will continue to lead Style; and Chuck Davis will continue to lead Fandango and Daily Candy, each reporting to Lauren."

W. Curtis Riddle, right, announced his retirement Thursday. He will be succeeded as president and publisher of the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal by Howard L. Griffin, left. (Credit: Suchat Pederson/News Journal)

W. Curtis Riddle to Retire, Oversees 18 Gannett Papers

"W. Curtis Riddle, a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists and a long-time president and publisher of The News Journal, announced his retirement on Thursday," Aaron Nathans reported Friday for the Wilmington, Del., newspaper.

"He will be succeeded as president and publisher by Howard L. Griffin, who moves from a position as vice president for national and display advertising at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News' parent company. . . .

"Under the leadership of Riddle, 60, The News Journal grew from a daily newspaper to a media group still led by the state's largest newspaper and most active news website,, but populated by a diverse stable of print, online and mobile publications.

"Riddle joined The News Journal in 1994 and also became senior group president of the East Newspaper Group of Gannett Co. Inc., the News Journal's parent company.

"He oversaw 18 Gannett newspapers, including The News Journal, and publications in New Jersey and New England that were added to his portfolio in 2007. He will officially retire on Nov. 26.

"Riddle guided the newspaper through a period of transformation in the last decade as readers and advertisers shifted from print publications to the Internet. He responded to the market with in 1996 and more recently with content and advertising delivery to mobile devices.

"Seeking to meet advertisers' need to efficiently reach specific demographic groups, Riddle directed the launch of a series of 'niche' publications that now include Signature Brandywine, Delaware Moms, Delaware Pets and Spark. Combined with the newspaper and the website, those publications extend the reach of the company's products to 9 out of 10 households in the state.

"Riddle received two standing ovations during his retirement announcement to the staff Thursday. . . .

"Riddle started at The Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal as a reporter and editorial writer. He was a reporter at the Baltimore Sun, was assistant to the publisher and managing editor at The Cincinnati Enquirer and was deputy managing editor for sports at USA Today.

"He came to The News Journal after serving as president and publisher of the State Journal in Lansing, Mich., and publisher of the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, Ind. . . ."

John H. Taylor Jr., editor of the News Journal's editorial pages when Riddle joined the newspaper in 1994, "recalled that when he started at the paper in 1966 there were no black employees in the newsroom and few in the building. Riddle was the paper's first black publisher, and he retires as one of the industry's highest-ranking black executives."

Virgil Smith, vice president, talent acquisition and diversity at Gannett Co., Inc., told Journal-isms, "Curtis has had a distinguished career and has positively impacted the careers of many successful media professionals. We as an industry have to continue to develop talent to reach top level roles to replace people like Curtis Riddle."

Ailes Says Williams' $2 Million Came From Anger at NPR

When Juan Williams was fired by NPR for remarks he made on Fox News Channel about fearing airplane passengers in Muslim garb, Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News, rushed to award Williams a three-year, $2 million contract, Howard Kurtz wrote Thursday for the Daily Beast.

" 'A guy who gets fired and humiliated in the press can lose a lot of confidence,' Ailes says. Calling Williams 'a pure liberal,' Ailes says he wanted to compensate the pundit for his losses because he was 'mad' and 'I didn’t want him to have to call his wife and say we lost money.'

"Then he turned his sights on NPR executives.

" 'They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.' "

Kurtz wrote this update: "On Thursday, Ailes apologized to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for describing NPR brass as 'Nazis.' He wrote: 'I was of course ad-libbing and should not have chosen that word but I was angry at the time because of NPR’s willingness to censor Juan Williams for not being liberal enough.' Abraham H. Foxman, ADL’s national director and a Holocaust survivor, responded: 'I welcome Roger Ailes apology, which is as sincere as it is heartfelt. Nazi comparisons of this nature are clearly inappropriate and offensive. While I wish Roger had never invoked that terminology, I appreciate his efforts to immediately reach out and to retract his words before they did any further harm.'

"NPR took sharp exception to the latest Ailes statement, with spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm saying: 'We are disappointed that Mr. Ailes directed his apology only to the ADL, and amazed that his statement substituted a new insult to replace his original scurrilous remark. This ongoing name-calling is offensive to NPR, its member stations and the 27 million listeners who rely on us.'"

David Folkenflik, NPR's media reporter, reported on "All Things Considered" that "Ailes offered an apology of sorts, but his remarks were hardly out of character for the network.

"On his TV and radio shows, Glenn Beck has attacked the Obama administration and its liberal allies as Nazis several times."

Fresno Bee Scored Over Use of "Illegal Immigrant"

"Use of the term 'illegal immigrant' in a series of stories running in The Bee this week has stirred discussion in the Valley — and calls for a boycott of the newspaper," Paula Lloyd wrote Wednesday in the Fresno (Calif.) Bee.

"Michael Medrano, a part-time English instructor at Fresno City College who organized a Facebook page calling for the boycott, said he and about 60 supporters believe the term unfairly labels those who cross the border illegally.

" 'It is illegal to cross into this land without the proper documents, that's the law. But from a global view, we don't have any right to make a claim of what's a border,' Medrano said in an e-mail to The Bee.

"The controversy erupted as The Bee began a seven-day series, 'In Denial,' which explores contradictions in attitudes and policies over illegal immigration."

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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Michael Wilborn: Yawn

Wilbon is a sports reporter who rarely writes or engages in authentic discourse regarding the reality of race and the business of sports...Wilbon's body of work reflects the shallow exercise of avoidance and deflection when race intersects with sport. He is the ideal template of post racial era a Black talented that has muted himself to appease the agenda of the MSM.

AP's Internship Program Threatened

I am exceedingly saddened by the news that the AP is considering terminating its internship program. Its diversity record has been spotty at best. But I thank the AP for giving me my "formal" start in journalism.

I was hired by the Los Angeles bureau straight out of the Maynard Institute's Summer Program for Minority Journalists in 1977. I spent two years with AP, and I am grateful to this day for both the training I got from SPMJ to prepare me for my career, and for the AP for launching my 33-year career. Then-CEO Lou Boccardi used to say there was no story that couldn't be told in 700 words or less, so I learned how to write tight.

From legendary court reporter Linda Deutsch I learned how to dictate straight out of my notebook -- not missing a comma, quotation mark or new graf. And long before "online" became all the rage, AP taught me how to write "for broadcast," which provided the "rip and read" copy that radio stations read on the air to this day. But in a 36-person bureau, then the largest in the AP, there was only me and two other people of color -- Virginia Tyson and Cynthia Kadonaga. Virginia and I were often confused, although we looked nothing alike and shared only our skin color in common.

One day, while flipping through the AP World newsmagazine, I saw a picture of another black person, Fred Goodall, a sports writer based in Tampa Bay. I called him up immediately and a lifelong friendship was formed. I also appreciate Austin Long-Scott, who had trailblazed at the AP during the Civil Rights movement and who mentored me through my first few months at the AP. There were scant others of color, including Betty Anne Williams, but in those days -- and throughout much of the ensuing decades -- we could count the minorities on both hands and still have a couple of fingers left over.

So for the AP to be ending its minority internship program (in all likelihood it's probably a done deal) is just woefully, painfully sad.

-- Denise Bridges, The Virginian-Pilot (and manager of its internship program).

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