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ASNE Pledges More Diversity Efforts

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

CEOs to Teach Editors About Reaching "the New America"

Malcolm X Assassination Left Alex Haley Scrambling

Univision Anchor Praised for Switch to Tough Questions

Obama's Approval Rating Slips Among Blacks, Hispanics

Libyans Hold Four More International Journalists

Climate Change Underreported in Japan Quake Coverage

March Madness Ratings Boosted in Bars, Restaurants

150 Years Later, Survey Finds Civil War Still Divisive

Short Takes

Ronnie Agnew, who co-chairs the Diversity Committee of the American Society of News Editors, says, "ASNE will be a leader at keeping diversity at the forefront of this journalistic transformation." (Credit:

CEOs to Teach Editors About Reaching "the New America"

Ken Paulson: 'Newsroom diversity remains a core ASNE value' (Credit: that it has revealed that the number of journalists of color in daily newspaper and online-only newsrooms declined for the third consecutive year, the American Society of News Editors plans to enlist non-media companies to brief news executives on appealing to an increasingly brown America.

"ASNE will be a leader at keeping diversity at the forefront of this journalistic transformation," Ronnie Agnew, executive editor of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., and co-chairman of ASNE's Diversity Committee, told Journal-isms via email.

The ASNE's annual survey showed that the number of journalists of color declined from 5,500 to 5,300, contrasting with the news industry's stated goal of parity with the number of people of color in the general population by 2025.

The percentage of minorities in newsrooms totaled 12.79 percent, a decline of .47 of a percentage point from a year ago. The percentage of nonwhites in the general population is 36 percent, ASNE noted.

In two months, Agnew said, "we plan to hold diversity sessions at NAHJ on hiring and retention," referring to the June 15-18 convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in Orlando, Fla.

ASNE had already announced two working sessions on diversity in the news business — one in conjunction with the annual convention now taking place in San Diego, sessions that have since been postponed ("We felt we needed more time to get on the calendars of CEOs and decision-makers. We don't want to rush this. It's too important," Agnew said) — and another concurrent with the NAHJ convention.

The sessions, entitled "Leadership in Diversity: New Models for Growing Audience, Talent and Revenues," involve "more than 100 top news, digital and business executives, and selected non-news executives whose companies have executed successful efforts to reach communities of color," ASNE announced in March. The workshops are being coordinated by Walt Swanston, a veteran of newsroom diversity efforts.

In addition to the NAHJ convention sessions, Agnew told Journal-isms on Friday, "In September we're planning to hold sessions in New York tentatively titled: The Business Case for Diversity. Regarding the latter, we hope to attract CEOs and/or decision makers from companies to talk about the new America. We also plan to invite non-media companies that have had success attracting diverse customer bases. ASNE will be a leader at keeping diversity at the forefront of this journalistic transformation."

Meanwhile, Ken Paulson, president and chief executive officer of the  First Amendment Center and incoming president of ASNE, pledged to continue the annual ASNE diversity survey, begun in 1978.

A contract with Bobbi Bowman, who has conducted the survey for years as director of diversity and then as a diversity consultant, expires this year.

"Newsroom diversity remains a core ASNE value and we'll continue to conduct the annual survey," Paulson said by email.

Agnew added: "The diversity committee met this morning and was unanimous about the importance of continuing the census, which started in 1978. The issue we're still considering is finding the most effective way of continuing this valuable system of accountability. One of the big ideas under consideration is finding a partner or contracting with an outside source to assist us. To say that we have made a final decision as to what venue we will take would be premature.

"We will discuss the census at tomorrow's board meeting to ensure the board is fully involved and to use the board as a resource for ideas. We hope to have a final decision and bring this to closure within the next few weeks. . . . The census is one of our most important initiatives."

According to a March news release, while the diversity sessions "are being convened by ASNE, partners in the planning process are the leaders of several newspapers and news organizations, including the Associated Press Managing Editors, the Newspaper Association of America, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, Unity: Journalists of Color, and [its] member associations."

Journalist Alex Haley, left, hustled to publish "the Autobiography of Malcolm X" after the assassination of Malcolm, who is at right.

Malcolm X Assassination Left Alex Haley Scrambling

News of the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X quickly found journalist Alex Haley, the collaborator on Malcolm's famed autobiography, turning to financial concerns, according to Manning Marable's new "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention."

"The terrible news of Malcolm's murder quickly reached Alex Haley at his home in upstate New York. Less than two hours later, his grief was pushed aside by practical considerations," Marable wrote on page 446. "Haley typed a letter to Paul Reynolds," his agent, "fearing their lucrative deal might now be in jeopardy. 'None of us would have had it be this way,' Haley wrote, 'but since this book represent's [sic] Malcolm's sole financial legacy to his widow and four little daughters . . . I'm just glad that it's ready for the press now at a peak of interest for what will be international large sales, and paperback, and all.' He also advised Reynolds that Doubleday should be alerted to a potential financial problem.

" 'I am almost certain that within the next two or three days Malcolm's widow, Sister Betty will contact me asking for some advance money from Doubleday or some other would be possible for her, to tide her through the immediate weeks. She hasn't a home since last week they moved in the middle of the night, just ahead of the next day's legal eviction to return the honor to the Muslims. And Malcolm, talking with me yesterday, said that he had 'two or three hundred dollars,' which would be the total extent of Sister Betty's funds.'

"A few days later, Haley had another thought. Again writing to Reynolds, he suggested, 'Maybe some magazine might wish to pay well enough for a probing interview of Elijah Muhammad. I could accomplish this.' Haley proposed something along the lines of his earlier personal interviews with Malcolm and Martin Luther King, Jr., featured in Playboy . . . Nothing came of these overtures, and Haley and Reynolds's fears were fully justified. Within two weeks, in a terribly shortsighted move, Doubleday's owner, Nelson Doubleday, abruptly canceled the contract."

Marable continues in a later chapter, "After Doubleday's cancellation of the book, Paul Reynolds had shopped the manuscript to other publications, eventually securing a contract for Haley with the radical Grove Press. The reviews of the narrative of Malcolm's life were overwhelmingly positive . . . ."

In a 2007 interview with Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!", Marable said "Haley had an entirely different agenda" from Malcolm. "He was a Republican. He despised Malcolm X’s black nationalist creed. But he was a journalist, and he understood the power of charisma."

A May 2010 "Journal-isms" column reporting accusations that William Bradley was the triggerman in the assassination, but never charged with that crime, is cited on page 476. The wrong page is listed in the index, however, and this columnist is called an "investigative reporter."

In a discussion with this columnist and fellow Morgan State University professor Jared Ball on Washington's WPFW-FM, Todd Steven Burroughs said the book seemed to have been written by committee, lacked sufficient primary research and appeared to be rushed toward completion as Marable succumbed to illness. He died at 60 on April 1, three days before the book was published.

Jorge Ramos and President Obama at the Univision Education Town Hall on March 28. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)

Univision Anchor Praised for Switch to Tough Questions

"More and more Latinos are wising up to President Obama's phony immigration two-step," Ruben Navarrette Jr. wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post Writers Group.

"They include Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who was until recently the administration's favorite Latino journalist. Ramos earned the honor by gushing over Obama during the 2008 election run.

"Now, Ramos probably won't be landing any more exclusive interviews or getting any more invitations to state dinners. What did Ramos do to end up in the doghouse with the White House? Answer: Journalism.

"The newsman asked Obama some tough questions about his immigration policy that the president couldn't answer.

"Bravo. Obama needs more scrutiny. Left-leaning Latino advocacy groups — the National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, et al. — have a three-pronged strategy: 'See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.'

". . . it's no wonder that Obama is left with this rhetorical hash and words that don't match his actions.

"Just like it's no wonder that Obama seemed to get caught in a lie about whether illegal immigrant students who would be covered by the Dream Act are being rounded up and deported. Not until Ramos presented him with hard evidence to the contrary did he shift gears and talk about how it's his job as president to 'enforce the law.' . . ."

Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC, left, was among those honored by the Rev. Al Sharpton, second from left, and the National Action Network at NAN's 13th Annual Keepers of the Dream Awards in New York on Wednesday. Griffin was recognized for the memorandum of understanding that NBC and Comcast signed to increase diversity as they successfully sought approval of the Comcast takeover of NBCUniversal. With them are Rachel Noerdlinger of Reverend Al Sharpton Media and Harold Ford Jr., NBC News political analyst. President Obama spoke to the group.

Obama's Approval Rating Slips Among Blacks, Hispanics

"Though majorities of blacks (85%) and Hispanics (54%) continue to approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, his ratings among these groups slipped in March and have set or tied new lows, the Gallup Organization reported on Thursday. "His approval rating among whites, at 39%, remains above where it was in the latter part of 2010.

"These results are based on aggregated data from Gallup Daily tracking in March, including more than 15,000 interviews with U.S. adults. Overall, Obama averaged 47% approval in March, three percentage points above his term low from August 2010.

"Obama, elected to office with strong support from minority voters, has averaged better than 90% approval among blacks, and 65% among Hispanics, during his term. Prior to March, Obama's lowest monthly average among blacks was 88% in July 2010 and December 2010. The president's 54% March job approval rating among Hispanics ties the low from July and August 2010.

"Even with the decline in blacks' ratings of Obama, blacks remain the most likely to approve of him among key attitudinal or demographic subgroups. Democrats (80%) and self-identified liberals (74%) are next. Republicans show the lowest level of support by a wide margin, at 14%."

Libyans Hold Four More International Journalists

"Forces loyal to Libyan leader [Moammar Gaddafi] have detained four international journalists on the outskirts of the city of Brega, news reports said today, continuing the government's pattern of arbitrary detentions and other restrictions, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Thursday. The committee "called on authorities to stop detaining, expelling, and obstructing journalists reporting on the Libyan conflict.

"Photographers Manuel Varela, Anton Hammerl, James Foley, and reporter Clare Morgana Gillis were detained on Tuesday, the Global Post reported. Witnesses said the four journalists came under fire while traveling in a van near the north-central city, forcing them to stop, the Global Post said, citing information from Human Rights Watch. Pro-[Gaddafi] forces detained the four journalists while releasing their driver, the Global Post and others said.

"CPJ research shows that Hammerl, who is South African, works for The Christian Science Monitor; Varela, who is Spanish, is a freelance photographer on contract with the European Pressphoto Agency; Foley, who is American, works for the Global Post; and Morgana Gillis, an American, is a freelancer for The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlantic, and USA Today."

Meanwhile, rescuers searched for scores of migrants from North Africa missing in the Mediterranean after their boat capsized off the south Italian island of Lampedusa, the BBC reported.

The Coast Guard said those on the boat were mostly Eritreans and Somalis, but according to the International Organisation of Migration, the migrants and asylum-seekers came from Bangladesh, Chad, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.

Phillip Martin produced a series on the plight of such African migrants to Europe for Public Radio International's "The World."

Climate Change Underreported in Japan Quake Coverage

"When I was a young journalist working as the environment editor for a Thai newspaper back in the 1990s, one of the first things I learned was this: In order to cover the environment, you have to understand the energy sector — not just what it emits, but the politics, economics, and technical issues surrounding it," James Fahn wrote Tuesday for Columbia Journalism Review. "And vice versa: Those reporting on energy development have to understand its environmental impacts to provide good coverage.

"The interlocking nature of these issues has again become tragically evident in recent weeks following the disaster in northeast Japan. The media coverage — including a proverbial renaissance of reporting on nuclear power — has generally reflected the comprehensive nature of these events in a compelling way, but much of it has failed to explain the full implications of climate change in the debate about what comes next."

University of Connecticut students celebrate their victory in the Final Four. (Video)

March Madness Ratings Boosted in Bars, Restaurants

"Having posted the strongest March Madness TV ratings since 2005, CBS and Turner Sports also experienced a major bounce among a fan base that can be somewhat difficult to pin down," Anthony Crupi reported Friday for Mediaweek.

"CBS' and Turner's joint coverage of the 2011 Men’s Division I Basketball Championship earned a significant lift from out-of-home viewing . . . All told, CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV saw a 15 percent boost from fans who watched the tourney in bars, restaurants, hotels and other common areas."

150 Years Later, Survey Finds Civil War Still Divisive

"As the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War approaches, most Americans say the war between the North and South is still relevant to American politics and public life today," Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported on Friday.

"More than half of Americans (56%) say the Civil War is still relevant, according to the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 30-April 3 among 1,507 adults. Nearly four-in-ten (39%) say the Civil War is important historically but has little current relevance.

"In a nation that has long endured deep racial divisions, the history of that era still elicits some strong reactions. Nearly half of the public (46%) says it is inappropriate for today's public officials to praise the leaders of the Confederate states during the war; 36% say such statements are appropriate.

". . . . There is no consensus among the public about the primary cause of the Civil War, but more (48%) say that the war was mainly about states' rights than say it was mainly about slavery (38%). Another 9% volunteer that it was about both equally.

". . . Only a small number of Americans say they display the Confederate flag, but that symbol of the Southern cause elicits more negative reactions from some groups — especially African Americans, Democrats and the highly educated. Nevertheless, most Americans say they do not react positively or negatively when they see the Confederate flag.

". . . There also are partisan differences in reactions to the flag: about twice as many Democrats (44%) as Republicans (21%) react negatively to displays of the Confederate flag. And Republicans are more likely than Democrats to have a positive reaction to the flag (15% vs. 7%)."

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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Obama . . .

It is interesting to me how when a brother -- Obama -- comes in, everyone expects him to make the last second shot -- as a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant -- to save the game. Too bad the masses weren't worried about their futures while they were taking out housing and other types of loans they wouldn't be able to pay back while Bush was in office. I think Obama is doing the best he can, especially dealing with all the Republicans who continue to vote against and bash him.

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