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ASNE Losing Diversity Director

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Organization Says Annual Census Will Continue

Bobbi Bowman, who has directed diversity programs for the American Society of News Editors for the past 10 years, is stepping down effective June 30, the organization said on Monday.

Bobbi BowmanBowman's departure from the diversity director's position would mean the job would cease to exist for the first time since 1983, when the late Carl Morris was hired as minority affairs director.

But Executive Director Scott Bosley said Bowman would continue as consultant and ASNE's annual diversity census would go on. The association, until this year known as the American Society of Newspaper Editors, has conducted a census of newsrooms since 1978 primarily as a means of measuring employment of journalists of color.

"The percentage of minorities in the newsrooms of the national's daily papers must be on parity with the percentage of minorities in the general population by 2025 or earlier," according to the society's goals.

"Fortunately, Bobbi has agreed to provide services as an independent consultant on diversity matters for the next year. This will benefit ASNE and will allow her to pursue some new interests of her own," Bosley said in a memo.

"Bobbi's devotion to and expertise in diversity issues has kept ASNE's leadership and voice strong in the battle to help create newsrooms that fully reflect the changing demographics of this country and their communities. I'm glad we will have Bobbi's voice with us this year as the Diversity Committee and Board of Directors work to refine ASNE's diversity mission in our fast-changing news landscape."

Bowman told Journal-isms, "ASNE has been in the forefront of the drive to diversify newsrooms since 1978 - longer than anyone else. The U.S. is now on the brink of the most historic demographic change in its history - changing to a majority of minorities. At this crucial time, I hope that ASNE will continue its vital leadership role."

Bosley estimated that Bowman would spend half her time working on ASNE business over the next year.

"Resources have been dwindling for the support of diversity programs for years," Bosley told Journal-isms, as foundations and companies have cut back. ASNE funded the position itself when the money was not forthcoming from other sources, he said.

The organization canceled its convention in April in the economic downturn, and last week the ASNE Foundation announced it was ending a fundraising campaign that required it to match $2.5 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

'It was unfortunate that this major fundraising endeavor, the first in ASNE Foundation's history, coincided with an unprecedented decline in ad revenues exacerbated by the national economic recession,' ASNE Foundation president Edward Seaton said then.

Bowman has led ASNE's diversity efforts since 1999, according to her bio. "Immediately before joining ASNE, Bowman served as managing editor of the Observer-Dispatch in Utica, N.Y. Earlier, she held various reporting and editing positions at the Washington Post, Detroit Free Press and USA TODAY and was a corporate news staff recruiter for Gannett," it continues.

Bowman writes a monthly column for the Maynard Institute and has become an expert on demographic trends.

When she was awarded the 2007 Leadership In Diversity Award from the Asian American Journalists Association, Gilbert Bailon, then ASNE president, said, 'Bobbi has been a fixture at minority journalist conventions, workshops and special events for many years. She's a tireless advocate who also oversees the massive annual census for ASNE, an essential tool for holding the industry accountable regarding diversity. She's a familiar, outspoken face for ASNE diversity advocacy who doesn't shrink from speaking her mind."

Besides Morris, who went on to found the National Association of Minority Media Executives (NAMME), others who have held the diversity director's job have included Neil Foote, Mireille Grangenois, Denise Johnson and Veronica Jennings.

The Supreme Court struck down "separate but equal" on May 17, 1954.

Diverse Newsrooms: What's "Brown" Got to Do With It?

"You can sense the giddiness a reader must have felt reading the headlines 55 years ago this week, whether it was The New York Times' 'High Court Bans School Segregation; 9-to-0 Decision Grants Time to Comply,' or the Chicago Defender proclaiming May 17, 1954, as 'the beginning of the end of the dual society in American life and the system of segregation that supports it,' Richard Prince wrote on Monday for the Poynter Institute.

"In fact, Thurgood Marshall, the lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund who argued the historic Brown vs. Board of Education case, remembered feeling 'so happy I was numb.'

"Today the mood is not so giddy. 'Segregation in fact remained, and it persists to this day,' a New York Daily News editorial said on Sunday.

"'It is simply unacceptable that nationwide, more than four in 10 black and Hispanic students fail to graduate from high school, while almost eight in 10 whites get diplomas.'

"The failure of the Brown decision to deliver on its promise is reflected daily in the media we consume and in the makeup of our newsrooms. Still, the media can play a role in Brown's ultimate success. . . ."

Mike McQueen Takes Indefinite Leave of Absence

Mike McQueenMike McQueen, Associated Press bureau chief in New Orleans and the only African American bureau chief at the news cooperative, has taken an indefinite leave of absence, he told colleagues and friends on Monday.

"The reason: medical. In 2004, I survived an attack of myocarditis — a virus aimed at the heart — but it left me with congestive heart failure. I will spend my leave getting healthier," he said.

The AP at one time had three black domestic bureau chiefs: Larry Campbell in Alaska, Robert Naylor in Albany, N.Y., and Denise Cabrera for the Baltimore area, but until Monday had just one, McQueen.

McQueen directed the AP's news coverage and staffs in Louisiana and Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and during the Jena 6 case, in which black teenagers in Jena, La., claimed unequal treatment from law enforcement.

McQueen also coped with personal tragedy. In 2006, his son, former Army Ranger Michael McQueen II, was killed in the suburban Washington apartment he shared with a fellow Ranger, Gary Smith. After a 17-month ordeal, Smith was found guilty of second-degree murder. He had claimed the younger McQueen had shot himself.

McQueen started his journalism career in 1977 as a reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat after graduation from Florida State University. He joined the AP in 1980, working in Miami as a reporter and editor, and then in Tallahassee as correspondent. He joined the Miami Herald in 1984, according to an AP bio.

He later worked on the staffs of USA Today and Gannett News Service, and served as chair of the journalism and broadcasting sequence of Florida International University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He became managing editor at the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph in 2004 and returned to the AP in 2006.

"Positive" Broadcast Network Aiming at Blacks, Latinos

Landon TaylorA California businessman who says there are not enough positive images of African Americans and Latinos aims to create a new television broadcast network that will begin on the Internet and add a television component in the 2009-10 season.

"The New Paradigm Broadcast Network (NPBN), launching this fall, was designed specifically to reflect the African-American and Hispanic experience in America. NPBN will be a broadcast television network with programming that engages and inspires.

"Twenty years ago we had the 'Cosby Show.' Five years ago George Lopez had his own program. Just this year, the NAACP reported a sharp drop in the number of minority actors on all but one broadcast network. And channels dedicated specifically to African-Americans and Latinos feature programs that rarely uplift or educate and to which many people of color do not relate," its publicity material states.

The network, which says it will be the first African American broadcast network, already has a Web site featuring clips from shows it plans to produce.

Landon Taylor, founder, chairman, CEO and chief investor, was a board member of First American Title Insurance Co. and president of its Strategic Markets Division.

He said the initial aim is to secure time on independent stations in the top 20 markets to create his network, which will produce a two-hour block of lifestyle, sports, entertainment and news programming.

His programming chief, Vanessa Rodriguez Spencer, is a West Coast casting director who says she plans a half-hour or hour-long news program weekly, akin to "Dateline," "20/20" or "Nightline." She pointed to a CNN report Monday on overlooked killings in Chicago schools as an example of the kind of work the network would seek to do. She said it would hire reporters, and expressed admiration for the news programs Black Entertainment Television produced in its earlier days.

As a broadcast —not a cable — network, NPBN would be more accessible to the striving African Americans and English-speaking Latinos the network is seeking, the two said. Although the network is targeting those two ethnic groups, "I don't want to be exclusive of anybody," Spencer said.

Taylor, 39, said he spent the last seven years focusing on the "emerging markets" and found few media outlets that focused on African Americans and Latinos who want to see their media representations leading family-oriented, positive, productive lives. There will also be a "digital media academy" where producers can showcase their work online for possible development into television shows.

Taylor said he was raised in the FIllmore District of San Francisco by a single dad, and that "most of my buddies are dead or in prison." A grandfather in Berkeley gave him "a vision of what was possible," and he said he would like to provide others with a similar vision.

Sheridan Selling Pittsburgh's WAMO Radio

"Listeners to WAMO-FM 106.7 — Pittsburgh's longtime radio home for hip-hop and R&B music — will be disappointed to hear that the station is being sold in a deal that is likely to mean a format change," Dan Majors reported Saturday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"Thirty-five full and part-time employees at Pittsburgh's WAMO were laid off Friday," WTAE-TV reported.

"WAMO spokesman Russell Bynum yesterday said the station and its two sister stations — WAMO-AM 860 and WPGR-AM 1510 — are being sold by the owners, Sheridan Broadcasting Corp., to St. Joseph Missions," Majors wrote.

"Mr. Bynum said the sale was for $8.9 million, but no further details were disclosed. The sale must still be approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

"Sheridan Broadcasting owner Ron Davenport Sr. has owned WAMO-FM and AM since 1973, and his son, Ron Davenport Jr., is the general manager of WAMO-FM. The company acquired WPGR-AM in 2001.

"As far as listeners are concerned, Mr. Bynum said, it won't do much good to start a letter-writing campaign or otherwise try to keep the station as it is."

As a motivation for the sale, Bynum pointed to changes in the Arbitron rating systems, the Pittsburgh Business Times wrote on Monday. "The new Portable People Meter electronic measurement system has had a 'disproportionate impact on minority-targeted formats,' Bynum said in a prepared statement.

"Sheridan attempted to sell the stations to a minority owner but expects potential buyers were unable to get financing."

The sale represents a potential loss of such shows as the Pittsburgh Urban League’s biweekly 'townhall meetings' and the biweekly call-in forum hosted by the Pittsburgh NAACP," Ervin Dyer of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation told Journal-isms. "Both shows for years for helped informed the community on jobs, justice issues [and] political concerns and provided voices and viewpoints unheard on mainstream media."

"Many of journalism greats had their starts at WAMO radio, which was so popular at one point, the station was called the crossroads of the world.

"Mal Goode, the pioneering ABC broadcaster, once worked for the station

"John Christian, a Pittsburgh broadcast legend, began his media career with WAMO as a DJ."

Didn't Expect Wal-Mart to Give Her This Kind of Lift

Josie Cantu-Weber Would you believe it's easier to work on a copy desk than as a cashier at Wal-Mart?

After Josie Cantu-Weber was laid off in August from the Tucson (Ariz.) Citizen, which folded its print edition on Friday, she applied for 35 jobs and found herself overqualified for many of them. A Wal-Mart was opening nearby, so Cantu-Weber decided to apply. After all, she said, it was honest work. She was hired as a cashier.

"I worked there three months. It was too hard," she told Journal-isms on Monday. "Very often the scanning gun wouldn't work and I had to lift cartons of water" that customers brought to the register.

"It was heavy. I thought I was in good shape. I go to the gym every day," she said. "Twice I pulled my back. I didn't know I had a bad knee until I had to stand for five hours. I thought, 'I'm wrecking my body over this,'" said Cantu-Weber, then 67.

Cantu-Weber had worked 9¬? years as a copy editor at the Citizen along with her husband, Warren Weber. They were both professors at Northern Arizona University when the Citizen, a Gannett paper, offered both of them jobs.

After she was laid off at the Citizen, she applied to be a substitute teacher, but had to wait for the bureaucracy to certify her credentials. With the unemployment rate rising, the competition was stiff. She was turned down in five of six school districts, she said. In the meantime, as she waited for the credentials, there was Wal-Mart.

Last semester she landed at a Catholic school and was asked to teach journalism to an English class of seventh- and eighth-graders.

Not quite the same as a copy desk, but better than hauling jugs of water to the cash register.

Tim Jackson

Obama Actions Mobilize Protesters, Bloggers

"The graduation ceremony at the University of Notre Dame was, ultimately, about the graduates. The majority of the students, parents, friends and relatives cheered long and loud when President Barack Obama praised their selfless efforts for others and their maturity in handling the circus that their special day almost became," Mary C. Curtis wrote Monday on AOL's Politics Daily site.

". . . The president does not define my life as a Catholic, and neither does Randall Terry. The difference is that the president doesn't try."

Meanwhile, Harold Jackson, editorial page editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, reacted Sunday to hundreds of e-mails protesting the newspaper's contract with John Yoo, the former Bush Justice Department official who wrote memos legitimizing torture of terror suspects, to produce a monthly column.

The e-mails "are a testament to the power of the blogosphere, and of its superiority to newspapers in getting the word out about, well, about anything," Jackson said.

"Unfortunately, most of the critics of our contract with Yoo have their facts wrong.

"But that happens when your information comes from those bloggers who never let the facts get in the way when they're trying to whip people into a frenzy to boost Web site hits.

"It's a shame that one blogger who disseminated poor information is actually a full-time journalist for a sister publication in The Inquirer building," Jackson said in an apparent reference to Will Bunch, "Attytood" blogger for the Philadelphia Daily News.

Prof Says "Happy Negro" Jibe Helped Cost Him Tenure

"In many academic circles, being attacked by Bill O'Reilly might be a badge of honor. A Syracuse University professor, however, charges that he was denied tenure last week in part because of the fallout over his on-air disputes with the Fox television star, who has branded him "a new Ward Churchill," Scott Jaschik wrote Monday in Inside Higher Ed.

"Boyce Watkins said that the university has responded to attacks on him in ways that are different from how it handles other controversial statements made by professors, creating a stigma around his work because it does not conform to 'white liberal' ideas about race.

". . . The dispute with O'Reilly took off in 2007 in the aftermath of controversial remarks he made on a radio show in which he described a trip to Sylvia's, a famous Harlem restaurant. O'Reilly spoke at length about how he 'couldn't get over' how the restaurant — black-owned, and primarily with black customers — was full of 'respectful' people. He talked about how it was just like 'going to an Italian restaurant' and how there wasn't 'any kind of craziness' or anyone 'screaming, "M-Fer, I want more iced tea." '

"O'Reilly maintains that the comments were part of his effort to show that all people are the same, but his repeated expressions of surprise that one could have a civilized dinner in a black-owned restaurant in a black part of town struck many people as offensive and ignorant. Responding to the dispute, O'Reilly then interviewed Juan Williams on one of his television shows, and Williams expressed support for O'Reilly.

"Then, appearing on CNN to talk about the controversy, Watkins said that O'Reilly's comments should be seen as part of his pattern of 'demeaning, degrading and devaluing' black institutions. . . . And he said Williams was playing the role of the 'happy Negro' in helping O'Reilly. . . . "

Short Takes

  • "Former local news anchor Tolly Carr was released from prison early Monday," WGHP-TV in High Point, N.C., reported. "Carr had served more than two years for the March 2007 death of Casey Bokhoven. Carr accepted a plea deal from prosecutors after the former WXII-TV morning anchor ran over and killed the 26-year-old Bokhoven while driving drunk." Dan Galindo wrote in the Winston-Salem Journal, "People familiar with television media work said that Carr's celebrity status will continue to raise questions about whether he has shown publicly that he takes responsibility for his actions."
  • David HoDavid Ho has been hired as emerging technology editor for WSJ.com. He was national correspondent for Cox newspapers in New York, according to Dow Jones, which owns WSJ.com.
  • Charles M. Blow's visual op-ed column, which combined graphics with text, is now running every Saturday instead of every other Saturday in the New York Times. Why? "It's a good idea," Andrew M. Rosenthal, editorial page editor, told Journal-isms.
  • "Early Show" anchor Maggie Rodriguez is launching a Spanish-language video blog highlighting stories featured in "CBS Reports: Children of the Recession," "a multi-platform initiative created to raise awareness about the effects of the economic crisis on America‚Äôs youth," CBS announced on Monday. "Rodriguez will offer Spanish-speaking viewers her thoughts and insights and will provide a platform for free-flowing conversation with Latino viewers by encouraging online comments and questions." To view Rodriguez‚Äôs blog, log on to www.cbsnews.com/childrenoftherecession.
  • "Hoy, the Chicago Spanish-language daily published by Tribune Co., debuted a redesign Monday that it said would soon be available in more locations around the metropolitan area," Mark Fitzgerald reported in Editor & Publisher. "Hoy also told the small number of people who get the free paper delivered that it is ending home delivery with its May 28 edition. After June 1, a flyer inserted in home-delivered copies said, the paper will be available in more stores and news boxes in 'high-traffic' areas. The paper will continue to be free."
  • Debates about media diversity have arrived in Vienna, Austria. Michael Weingartner reported Monday in Vienna Review about a discussion, ‚ÄúMigrants in Mainstream Media: Comparing British and Austrian strategies for increasing diversity in the media,‚Äù organized by the British Embassy in combination with an Austrian association of ethnic newspapers, broadcasters and online news organizations. Its purpose was "to address the almost complete invisibility of Austrians with a migrant background in the mainstream media here."

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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