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ASNE Suspends Student Newspaper Project

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Longtime Diversity Initiative Falls Victim to Tight Times

The ASNE Reporter covered the opening of the 2008 American Society of Newspaper Editors convention. ASNE pays to house 15 to 20 student journalists, an expense not offset by advertising.

The ASNE Reporter, a newspaper project that for two decades has provided students of color with real-world journalism training as they wrote for an audience of the nation's newspaper editors, is suspending publication next year.

"We decided we would not try to do it off-site next year and try to get back to it in better times," Scott Bosley, executive director of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, told Journal-isms on Wednesday.

The student newspaper -- and more recently its online counterpart -- was created to provide experience to students of color as the organization strove to meet its goal of having the racial composition of newsrooms reach parity with the percentage in the general population.  Students cover the ASNE's annual gathering and events in the newspaper industry taking place at the time.

The ASNE Reporter project cost $20,000 to $40,000 a year, Bosley said, much of it in housing the 15 to 20 students who participate. "We just can't afford to lose that much money anymore," Bosley said.  Advertising revenue does not cover the costs, and an online-only publication would take in even less, he said.

The work of the five to seven professionals who served as editors was subsidized by their home newspapers, many of which are in economic turmoil.  "It's harder for newspapers to pay those costs," Bosley said. 

The next ASNE convention is scheduled for Chicago from April 26 to 29. It was after this past April's convention in Washington that the executive committee, and later the ASNE board, decided the organization could not finance the newspaper or its online product next year.

M. David Goodwin, managing editor for presentation at Cox Ohio Publishing, was to be the 2009 editor of the ASNE Reporter. He had been managing editor; Sandra Long, then the Philadelphia Inquirer's managing editor for operations, was editor. It was started about 1989, Mireille Grangenois, ASNE's minority affairs director at the time, recalled for Journal-isms.

Bosley said ASNE would continue other diversity initiatives, such as its Pacesetter Awards honoring newspapers that have done well with diverse content and staffing.

[Michelle Johnson, journalist-in-residence at Emerson College, said on Thursday morning: "I ran the online piece of the ASNE project in April. It's a great program that attracts top-notch students. In fact, we selected several of them to participate in this year's UNITY student project and they did great after having ASNE training under their belts. These programs are an investment in the future of the industry. I hope the organizations can find some way to keep them going."] [Updated Aug. 28.]

The blogger lounge at Denver's Pepsi Center housed some of the 15,000 journalists and others who filed reports on the Democratic National Convention. Officials said 140 bloggers used the room on Wednesday. (Credit: Richard Prince)

Coverage Said to Overlook Obama's Place in History

"History is being made in Denver, but so far, it has been slipped under the carpet during prime time. Tuesday night was tailored to pay homage to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's barrier-breaking near-miss, yet there was no overt celebration of the bull's-eye: Barack Obama is poised to be the first African-American presidential nominee," Alessandra Stanley wrote Wednesday in the New York Times.

". . . when the first female also-ran at a convention merits such hoopla and hosannas, then it is harder for viewers to understand why the Democrats seem intent on soft-pedaling their presumptive nominee's arguably more remarkable breakthrough.

"On Tuesday, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas praised Mr. Obama's hardscrabble Kansas roots at some length and never mentioned that his father was African. Neither did the keynote speaker, former Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia, nor Mrs. Clinton. When Mrs. Clinton declared her support for Mr. Obama, she focused on their shared ideals, not the presumptive nominee's unique place in history. And that seemed to suit the Obama team just fine.

"The broadcast networks' limited one-hour-a-night coverage plays into the Obama campaign's tailored-to-prime-time agenda. Anchors and reporters hog the air with their own commentary and showcase only the headliners. Viewers are not given a good sense of the room, the speeches or the diversity of the delegates (and according to CNN, 44 percent are minorities) or on the stage." 

Columnist "Lucked Up," Watched TV With Obama

Mary Mitchell"On Tuesday night I invited myself into the home of Carlee and Eran Thompson to watch Hillary Clinton give her farewell speech," Mary Mitchell, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, told readers on Wednesday.

"That's just not the kind of thing you want to watch by yourself," she wrote from Billings, Mont.

"Barack Obama walked in around 9:30 p.m., coming in through the garage with a contingent of pool reporters and members of his Secret Service detail," the columnist from Obama's hometown continued.

"'Let's watch some convention,' Obama said. 'Surprise, surprise. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having us.'"

It was pure luck, Mitchell told Journal-isms, that she ended up with Obama. "I was looking for a place to watch hillary," she said via e-mail. "I lucked up on the thompsons. Obama showed up with pool reporters and photogs" -- an overwhelmingly white press pool in which she remembers only one black reporter -- "They were as shocked to see me as I was to see them."

She reported Obama saying of Clinton, "That was excellent. She delivered."

Meanwhile, in Denver, the black weekly Los Angeles Sentinel held one of many receptions after the Clinton speech on Tuesday. Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, implored publishers of black community newspapers to include "constant and ongoing" voter registration information before Election Day.

Aside from black-press members, Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Vice presidential nominee Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., is joined by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in Denver Wednesday night as the new presidential nominee made a surprise appearance. (Credit: barackobama.com)Villaraigosa, Ben Jealous, new president of the NAACP, Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Braithwaite Burke and Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, were among those in attendance.

The Sentinel displayed a front page image showing Obama holding up the newspaper and publisher Danny Bakewell said the black press recognized the candidate's potential long before the mainstream media did.

Report Says Media Can't Address Bias They Don't See

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann said on March 24 that John McCain, the 71-year-old presumptive Republican presidential nominee, should buy the Depends diaper. On June 14 on "Fox News Watch," commentator Cal Thomas declared that all black women are angry. On ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" on May 30, commentator Glenn Beck complained that Hillary Clinton sounded like his wife.

These tidbits are cited in a timeline offered in a report, "Bias, Punditry and the Press: Where do We Go From Here?" from the White House Project, the Women's Media Center and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. It was released on Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

The report "offers a look at how this season's reportage on our presidential candidates has revealed a lingering diversity gap in the press and points out a systemic pattern of bias on issues of race, gender, class, and age," it says. 

"At a recently convened forum at The Paley Center for Media in New York City called 'From Soundbites to Solutions: Bias, Punditry and the Press in the 2008 Election,' a full seventy-five percent of audience members reported a belief that the U.S. media industry lacks the diversity and cultural competency to accurately report on issues concerning candidates' race, gender, class and age.'

"When reporters, editors, and producers lack the skills to report accurately in the face of difference, coverage can suffer from implicit, and often unconscious, bias.

"Since the primaries, there has been little recognition by members of the press or even the campaigns that any kind of bias exists. If you don't see it, how can you address it? Such is the conundrum addressed by this report."

The recommendations: "1.) Diversify the Newsroom. And the Production Booth. And the Editorial Board. 2.) Staff up with Intention. Listen. 3.) Rethink 'Embedded' Punditry. 4.) Speak Out in the Newsroom. See Something? Say Something. 5.) Get Beyond Reporting in Black and White. 6.) Know the Code -- and Avoid Coded Language. 7.) Diversify the Guest List. 8.) Establish Standards and Accountability Mechanisms."

It also lists five tips for media consumers: "1.) Exercise the Power of Your Purse. 2.) Email the Advertisers. 3.) Call the Television or Radio Newsroom. 4.) Write the Newspaper or Magazine Editor. 5.) Create and Participate in Alternative Media."

Arab American Humor: "What Up, My Muslim?"

"If laughter is the best medicine, perhaps it's also the best way of delivering a lobbying and political message," Kate Ackley wrote in her "K St. Files" column in Roll Call, one of the Washington publications putting out daily editions during the Democratic National Convention.

"The Arab American Institute and its sister foundation showed at a Monday night event in Denver that if they were going to mix religion, politics and race, they might as well do it with a whole lot of humor," she wrote.

"The organizations, along with political consultant and [Arab American Institute] founder James Zogby, hosted 'Comedy Kabob' at Bar Standard.

"Arab-American comedians made cracks about being something of a pariah, especially when it comes to this election year in which White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been 'smeared' as a Muslim, which he is not (he's Christian).

"They're using Muslim as a derogatory,' said comedian Dean Obeidallah, who has performed on 'The View,' CNN and PBS.

"He joked that pretty soon Muslim is going to be like the N-word and non-Muslims won't be able to use it and will have to adopt a 'politically correct' term like 'pork-free Americans,' while Muslims will use the word freely.

"'What up, my Muslim?' Obeidallah said fellow Muslims will say to one another, giving a glimpse of the new vernacular.

"He also joked that he would love to see Obama, when taking the oath of office, confess that he is a Muslim: 'The day he's sworn in, he says, "Guess what? I am a Muslim. Allah Akbar, bitches!'

"Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) also took to the stage, though with a more serious message. But Rahall, who is of Arab descent, said it's good to poke fun at ourselves.

"Rahall, the performers, and Zogby also expressed their support for Obama. 'We're nonpartisan," Zogby said of the institute, 'but I am not.'

"Comedian Ahmed Ahmed emceed the night. He said that even though he's a Democrat and supports Obama, he will miss making jokes about President Bush. But, he had an idea for Bush's post-White House career: to take over the reins of terrorist organization al-Qaida.

"'If he runs al-Qaida like he runs America, he'll run it into the ground,' Ahmed said."

NAHJ Cites Importance of Latino Journalists

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, under new president O. Ricardo Pimentel, editorial page editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is reminding news industry leaders "that keeping Latinos in the journalism ranks is essential to covering the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. He urges them to preserve bilingual and bicultural journalists as a way to increase readership, viewership, their connection to the community, and improve the overall quality of news coverage," NAHJ says.

A letter to news editors, posted on the NAHJ Web site, is expected to go out this week, Executive Director Ivan Roman said.

"Convergence" Expert Wheeler Quits as News Director

Keith Wheeler, who had been closely identified with the Orlando Sentinel's "convergence" efforts, resigned Tuesday night as news director for Calkins Media-owned WTXL-TV in Tallahassee, Fla., just six months after being hired, WTXL staffers confirmed on Wednesday.

Wheeler, who was president of the Central Florida Association of Black Journalists and Broadcasters during the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Orlando in 2001, had been laid off from the Orlando station in 2005.

His resignation was reported Wednesday on the NewsBlues subscription-only Web site.

Wheeler, a former TV news director, was hired by the Sentinel "to create stories for the cable station" owned by Time Warner "and to train print reporters to think television," as Alicia C. Shepard wrote in the American Journalism Review in 2000. He was associate managing editor.

However, Orlando Sentinel Communications sold its 50 percent interest in the TV news operation News 13. He later went to work in public relations for Walt Disney World.

Short Takes

  • Jaime C?°rdenas Sports reporter Jaime C?°rdenas, recently laid off from the Los Angeles Times, has landed a job at the L.A. Galaxy major-league soccer team as communications coordinator," Veronica Villafane reported Wednesday in her Media Moves column. "According to Jaime, he'll be 'the team's point person for Spanish-language media, which is a big job given how many Spanish-language news outlets there are in LA.'"

  • "The CIA's participation in journalism job fairs makes it easy for the suspicious to see spies behind reporters' notebooks. That's why NABJ previously barred the CIA and the FBI from its conventions," Joe Davidson wrote¬†in his Federal Diary column Wednesday in the Washington Post. He was noting the CIA's participation in the job fair at the recent Unity convention, and referencing the National Association of Black Journalists. "And four news media organizations -- the North American National Broadcasters Association, Radio-Television News Directors Association, World Press Freedom Committee and American Society of Newspaper Editors (which includes Washington Post editors) -- strongly urged Congress to prohibit the CIA from using journalists as spies in a 1996 statement: 'As long as the possibility remains that any journalist may be seen as linked to an intelligence agency, all journalists remain at risk of harassment, personal attack, abduction or murder.' For the fanatics who want to see it, CIA recruitment at journalism conventions provides that link."
  • "Now that the flame has gone out on the Olympics in Beijing, it's worth taking a moment to applaud the U.S. Olympic team. Not only for dominating so many events and winning the most prizes overall ‚Äì 110 medals, 36 gold ‚Äì but also for winning the argument back home over the contributions of immigrants and their children," Ruben Navarrette wrote Wednesday in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

  • "The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the immediate release of Amare Aregawi, managing editor of the English- and Amharic-language newspaper Reporter, who has been detained since August 22 in northern Ethiopia," the organization said¬†on Tuesday.

  • "Reporters Without Borders is worried about the abduction of Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout, Australian freelance photographer Nigel Brennan and Somali photographer Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi. Gunmen kidnapped them and their driver Mahad on 23 August near Mogadishu for reasons that are not yet clear," the press-freedom group said on Sunday.

Feedback: Death of ASNE Reporter is Especially Symbolic

I was in the inaugural class of ASNE Reporter student journalist staff writers, in 1989.

How sadly ironic that nearly 20 years later, the ASNE says it will suspend this publication.

For reasons that you've been expertly covering for a long time -- foremost, the insane disconnect between our rapidly "browning" U.S. population and the stubborn, predominantly white homogeneity of the traditional media ranks -- the death of the ASNE Reporter is especially symbolic. And here is another small but important detail that makes it even moreso:

When we put together the first ASNE Reporter, it was at the ASNE's 1989 annual meeting, which happened to be in Washington, D.C. I was among 20 or so talented, eager and green college journalists who were proud to have been asked to cover the many panels, workshops and speeches that took place that week. Now, 20 years later, on the cusp of electing (probably!) a black man as president, many of us who worked on that first ASNE Reporter have left the business well before we should have, or are contemplating leaving. Giving rise to an obvious question:

Can the next generation of journalists of color -- those who ostensibly will be uniquely positioned to cover the immense political and cultural change that it is on the horizon -- any longer look to the industry leaders to train, encourage and guide them?

Amy Alexander
Silver Spring, Md.
Aug. 28, 2008

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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Comments

Black Media @ DEMS Convention: Forgettable & Disappointing..

I have tried my best to review every manner of media from the perspective of Black folks at the DEMS Convention and I am not impressed... Instead of getting an authentic read on the politics of the convention todate all I have read is the standard script of how this is a historical moment, Hilary is great, Michelle is wonderful, Obama will not disappoint etc.. I want more ..I want content which questions why Black voters must be nice and allow the Clinton's to extort the convention..I want more of why Obama is content with playing the good negro role..I want more about the relationships between Blacks with the other ethnic groups and special interests in this historical moment.. I want something to read and recommend to my friends..I am still waiting ..Where is the cutting edge threshold journalism from our Black media at the convention??

SUSPENSION OF ASNE REPORTER

I was part of the 1999 class of student reporters on the ASNE Reporter. I got to know a talented crop of minority journalists, some of whom remain close friends of mine today, and to work closely with top editors from major newspapers. Change is inevitable and there will be other opportunities to come along, but I hope to see the ASNE Reporter back because it is a special, unique student journalism experience. Theola Labb?©-DeBose Washington, DC August 29, 2008

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