Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Barbara Ciara, "Attackers" Each Drop Charges

Send by email
Tuesday, September 29, 2009

WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Va., posted this video clip of last month's confrontation on its Web site.  Each side agreed not to comment on Wednesday's decision to drop the charges.

Station Was Criticized After Scuffle During Assignment

News anchor Barbara Ciara, immediate past president of the National Association of Black Journalists, and a Norfolk, Va.-area businessman agreed Wednesday to drop assault charges against each other.

"Ciara, news anchor at local CBS affiliate WTKR News Channel 3, appeared in Norfolk General District Court this morning along with James O'Leary of Virginia Employment Services and his associate Crystal Harrison. The two sides told Judge Gordon Tayloe they had agreed to dismiss all charges pending from a confrontation outside a Norfolk courthouse last month," Mike Holtzclaw reported for the Daily Press in Newport News, Va.

"Tayloe accepted the agreement and waived court costs."

"Previously, Ciara had written in a court complaint that O'Leary had hit and shoved her, and that Harrison had 'slammed the door on my head,'" as Matthew Bowers and Michelle Washington reported in the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va.

"In a cross-complaint, O'Leary had accused Ciara of pushing and bumping him, hitting him in the face and nose with her microphone, and smearing his shirt with her pen. Harrison had accused Ciara of grabbing and hurting her arm at an SUV. O'Leary also had said he wanted a restraining order against Ciara and WTKR."

The station's video of the incident left WTKR losing the public relations war. "Each side claims to have been assaulted, but most online comments posted after people viewed the video at chided how the TV crew handled the situation," the Daily Press wrote at the time.

A Daily Press columnist, Tamara Dietrich, under the headline "Wolf pack journalist," denounced Ciara's behavior as "belligerent, gotcha-style hackery only seen before in bad movies that distort and demonize TV journalists. A wolf pack shows more restraint."

But Wil LaVeist, a veteran journalist who has worked at both the Daily Press and the Virginian-Pilot, wrote in the Pilot, "When a journalist is doing her job right, she may not always look good. That doesn't make her wrong or bad.

"The popular misperception that the news media are the bogeyman has become the story," he wrote, acknowledging his friendship with the Ciara and her husband. "Ciara was actually doing what I hope citizens believe journalists must do - confront people in power and expose possible injustices.

"Dietrich failed to mention a key point that would've added context for her readers as they formed opinions. O'Leary was apparently ready to rumble. At the beginning of the video, he can be heard sarcastically asking Ciara if she is 'Big Momma' a character in the comedy movie 'Big Momma's House.' Listen to the video. Ciara should've kept her cool, but instead of insulting a woman who was doing her job, O'Leary could've been a gentleman.

"Confrontations are inevitable. And not looking good or being liked all of the time is also part of the job."

While the parties agreed not to discuss the court decision itself, Ciara told Journal-isms she was free now to resume her investigation of Virginia Employment Services.

The Virginian-Pilot wrote of VES on Aug. 25, "A local employment-assistance company that the state has sued, claiming it deceptively took money from job-seekers for services it failed to provide, appears to have shut down its office on North Military Highway.

"Virginia Employment Services Inc. also has responded to the state's charges against it, denying that it engaged in any fraudulent practices.

"Virginia Attorney General Bill Mims filed suit against VES and two other companies, New Beginnings Employment Inc. and Virginia Personnel Inc., in late July in Norfolk Circuit Court. He charged the companies with advertising jobs that didn't exist and asking customers for a $365 'membership' fee while guaranteeing that they would find work."

"Good journalism prevailed," Ciara told Journal-isms.

Chicago Defender Lays Off 2, Calls Them Freelancers

Current Chicago DefenderThe Chicago Defender, the historic black weekly, laid off two writers on Friday, then said the two actually are being reassigned as freelancers, who are not eligible for benefits.

One of the writers, advice columnist Art "Chat Daddy" Sims, was not agreeing to the redefinition of his job status. "I ain't taking no $75 a week; that's them telling you that," Sims told Journal-isms. "They can forget it."

The other writer, Earl Calloway, the fine arts editor who has been at the paper for 47 years, never left his position after receiving the layoff news Friday. After he was given the termination notice from Executive Editor Lou Ransom, "The president told me that I'll be here," Calloway told Journal-isms, referring to Michael House, president of the Defender.

Calloway, who turns 83 on Sunday, once worked at the Defender for six years without being paid, Ransom said. "Earl's part of the Chicago Defender."

Ransom confirmed that "both were told that they were laid off." The editor said he was told that expenses had to match revenue.

"I've gotten three pay cuts in the last two years," said Sims, 43, who was brought to the paper under former editor Roland S. Martin. He said he was being paid $1,000 a month plus medical insurance. "I'm the black Dear Abby," Sims said. "The people of Chicago look to read me."

Sims said Martin hired him after meeting him at the end of 2005, in part because he was gay but primarily because Martin was looking to expand the Defender's generational reach. But Sims said he wondered whether homophobia was part of the reason he was let go. He is listed on the Web site

"The generational gap was clearly evident in the paper, and we desperately needed to close that gap," Martin told Journal-isms. "He certainly helped us do that by extending the brand beyond our core audience."

The Defender, founded by Robert S. Abbott on May 5, 1905, was the nation's most influential African American weekly newspaper by the advent of World War I, with more than two-thirds of its readership base outside of Chicago. It declined as general-interest newspapers integrated, and last year it went from a daily to a weekly, its first weekly edition in more than 40 years.

Art 'Chat Daddy' SimsThe Defender announced then that it planned to double its circulation from 50,000 to 100,000. House, of the Real Times publishing company, said the paper's audited circulation stood at about 25,000 weekly. It has eight full-time people in its news department, he said; 23 throughout the newspaper.

The newspaper is trying to boost circulation through sponsoring special events such as Men of Excellence and Women of Excellence, the former a reception and special section "to acknowledge and celebrate African American men who personify the exemplary qualities of respect, responsibility, passion, brotherhood, and leadership."

Sims, who bills himself as entertainment, night life and travel columnist, predicted he would have "the last laugh, just like Roland Martin," who went on to become a CNN contributor, host a new Sunday morning talk show on the TV One cable network and other activities.

Suppression of Honduras' Opposition Media Protested

"Condemning the Honduran coup as a throwback to Latin America's ugly history, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said Tuesday that the country can't have free and fair elections until its de facto government lifts a repressive decree that silenced opposition media and forbade public gatherings," Frances Robles reported Wednesday for the Miami Herald.

"Turning its words into actions, the [de] facto government followed up its decree suspending civil liberties by closing Radio Globo and Canal 36 television, two Tegucigalpa-based stations that had already been assaulted and suspended several times in the past three months for their opposition to the 28 June coup d‚Äô?©tat," Reporters Without Borders said on Tuesday.

"In both cases, the police evicted staff and confiscated all the equipment. The Honduran press freedom organisation C-Libre said the closures violated article 73 of the Constitution, which forbids the authorities to interfere in the operations any news organisations.

“'How far will this de facto government go?' the international press-freedom group asked. 'Its president, Roberto Micheletti, now has a strong chance of being added to our list of Predators of Press Freedom. He said he was ready to rescind the state of siege the day after declaring it but we think this means nothing unless the authorities immediately return the equipment taken from Radio Globo and Canal 36 and allow broadcasting to resume, and unless they stop the repression, especially the repression of human rights activists.'

"Ronny S?°nchez, a Guatemalan journalist employed by the Mexican TV station Televisa, said he was beaten by members of the police units that were present for the confiscation of equipment from Radio Globo. Another Guatemalan journalist, Alberto Cardona of Guatevisi??n, was also the victim of police brutality."

Cartoon on the "Race Card" Upsets Slippery Rock U.

Keith Knight's latest controversial cartoonDays before last November's election, editors of the student newspaper at New Jersey's Montclair State University issued a campus-wide apology 'for running a comic strip in which a white woman used the "n" word in referring to Barack Obama.

In the cartoon, when an Obama campaign volunteer goes to an area where "no Democrat has gone before" and asks a woman her choice for president, the resident says she's going to "vote for the nigger."

Now the cartoonist, Keith Knight, author of "the K Chronicles" and an African American, is in trouble again.

"A cartoon has caused quite a controversy on the campus of Slippery Rock University," WYTV-TV in Youngstown, Ohio, reported on Monday. "'The K Chronicles' comic strip ran in Friday's edition of the school's student-run newspaper, 'The Rocket.'

"There's a drawing of a black man hanging from a noose saying, 'You're doing this because I'm black, aren't you?' while white characters accuse him of playing the race card.

"'It certainly ripped at the hearts and souls of many many people on this campus, not just members of our minority groups,' says Rita Abent, Executive Director of Public Relations at Slippery Rock University.

"The cartoon even led some students to show up to the Union with nooses around their own necks. Terrell Foster, an SRU student from Harrisburg says, "They put this in the paper thinking it would be funny. How funny is it when it's real? When you see someone walking around with a noose on their neck, it's not as funny no more."

Knight responded Tuesday on his Web site.

"This is an exaggerated, satirical version of what we often see and hear in mainstream media: the victim gets accused of pulling the race card, which is an easy way to dismiss the real issues involved," he wrote.

"Students talk about experiencing real-life incidents of racism on campus, yet it is my satirical comic strip they're protesting over. I'd like to hear what the students are going through. If this uproar causes the school to address those issues, then my comic has done its job."

Publisher's Illness Claims Watchdog Native Newspaper

"Bill Lawrence never flinched from scrutinizing Minnesota's tribal governments, even when someone fired bullets through his newspaper office windows in Bemidji. But a battle with late-stage cancer has prompted Lawrence to fold the Native American Press/Ojibwe News after 21 years," Curt Brown wrote Tuesday for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

"'I am no longer physically able to do the tasks — computer searches, investigating, seeking ads — that are necessary to put out an edition,' he wrote in his recent final edition, under an editorial titled 'A good day to die.' His failing health, and the difficult publishing environment, 'makes it impossible for me to continue.'

"Lawrence, 70, is receiving hospice care in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he is surrounded by close friends and family.

"Since starting his newspaper in 1988, Lawrence has engaged in relentless legal efforts to open the books of the state's 11 Indian casinos. His tireless work as a watchdog helped send several prominent tribal leaders to prison. Among his final works was a definitive series on the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome on the Indian community.

"'He simply had the guts to take a look at Indian country and tell the truth,' said Jim Randall, a retired Minnesota Court of Appeals judge and Lawrence's longtime friend."

41% Say Media "Most Important" in Viewing Reform

"The first week of fall brought little change to the public’s news agenda with the debate over health care reform continuing to top public interest," the Pew Research Center for People and the Press reported on Wednesday.

"However, the news media play much less of a role in shaping views of health care reform and the economy — where personal experiences are an important factor — than they do on environmental issues and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"More than four-in-ten (42%) name the health care debate as the single news story they followed more closely than any other last week, far more than mention reports about the condition of the U.S. economy (19%). Public interest in health care has been stable over recent weeks, consistently eclipsing interest in other news stories.

"When asked what is most important in helping them to form opinions on health care, 41% cite what they have heard or read in the media as most important; only somewhat fewer cite personal experiences (31%), while another 25% say that talking with friends and family is most important. Similarly, nearly as many people say that personal experiences are most important in helping them form opinions about the economy (35%) as cite the media (41%), with 23% mentioning talking with friends and family."

New York Times Plans Editions for More Markets

"The New York Times is making plans for editions of the paper tailored to the Chicago area and other metropolitan markets, in addition to the San Francisco edition it plans to launch this fall," Richard Perez-Pena reported Wednesday for the New York Times.

“'We’re in conversations with potential news providers in Chicago about adding local content to The Times,' said Diane C. McNulty, a spokeswoman for The Times. 'Our intent is to roll out these expanded reports in several key markets around the country, with Chicago following San Francisco. The details are still being discussed. The idea is to provide additional quality local content for our readers.'"

McNulty told Journal-isms, "We do plan to work with other news providers in these markets, so yes, they could be hiring journalists."

Short Takes:

  • Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli issued new guidelines about employees using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter: ‚ÄúWhen using these networks, nothing we do must call into question the impartiality of our news judgment. We never abandon the guidelines that govern the separation of news from opinion, the importance of fact and objectivity, the appropriate use of language and tone, and other hallmarks of our brand of journalism,‚Äù Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander disclosed on Friday. Megan Garber of the Columbia Journalism Review wrote Monday in response, "credibility questions about large news organizations have largely been the result not of reporters having opinions, but of those reporters having opinions which they are then compelled to disguise."
  • "It was a closed-door face to face conversation between U. S. senators and the top leadership of the nation‚Äôs premier Black institutions and new NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell was on the front line for all of them," Pharoh Martin and Hazel Edney wrote for the National Newspaper Publishers Association. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve had landmark legislation in terms of the stimulus bill. Yet, when you talk to Black businesses, when you talk to newspaper publishers, where is the money? Where is the money,‚Äù Bakewell demanded rhetorically as the audience inside the Mansfield Room of the U. S. Capitol broke into applause."
  • Suzanne Malveaux, CNN Washington correspondent, received the Journalist of the Year Award from Essence magazine on Friday at "An Evening of Excellence," an awards reception held in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus to commemorate the achievements of "today's most influential politicians and architects of change." Essence said more than 500 attended the Washington event.
  • Lisa Fung"Lisa Fung was named online arts and entertainment editor of the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. "In her new role she will oversee round-the-clock multimedia coverage of all arts and entertainment, including Calendar, The Envelope and Company Town, as well as more than a dozen blogs," an announcement said. She has overseen Times arts and culture coverage for the past nine years.
  • Keith Kamisugi, communications director of the Equal Justice Society of San Francisco, set up a Facebook events page devoted to the typhoon that struck regions of the Philippines and was able to notify about 2,000 people in 10 minutes, Benny Evangelista wrote Tuesday for the San Francisco Chronicle. Rene Astudillo, former executive director of the Asian American Journalists Association, "was worried when he couldn't reach his brother in the Philippines because landlines were not working. Astudillo finally reached him with a text message just as his brother was being evacuated from the rising waters."
  • Fox News host Glenn Beck appeared Saturday in Seattle and in his hometown of Mount Vernon, Wash., attracting large crowds of fans. Outside the venues, protesters gathered ‚Äî by the dozens in Seattle and the hundreds in Mount Vernon, Nick Perry and Susan Gilmore reported for the Seattle Times.
  • "As the movement calling for his ouster from CNN continues to surge, Lou Dobbs is fighting back ‚Äî and fumbling, New America Media writer Roberto Lovato wrote Monday on the Huffington Post. "Instead of responding to legitimate concerns about his anti-Latino fear-mongering, Dobbs expressed himself in a manner resembling that of the extremists he promotes on his show: with lies, angry outbursts and juvenile name calling. He even went so far as to call yours truly a "flea' and a 'bozo.'"
  • "If I have to read one more article on how Detroit is an abandoned war zone I think I'm gonna scream," a reader wrote Desiree Cooper, former Detroit Free Press columnist, on her "Detroit Diary" blog. Cooper asked readers how they felt about national coverage of Detroit, where Time Inc. has bought a house for a yearlong reporting project.
  • Thomas Huang, Sunday and enterprise editor of the Dallas Morning News, has been installed as president of the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors. He holds his term until October 2010, the Asian American Journalists Association reports.
  • Adriana G??mez of the Roanoke (Va.) Times, Enrique Flor of El Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Ana Carolina Gonz?°lez of the Real Atlanta Web site will receive the first McGraw-Hill Personal Finance Journalism Awards, the International Center for Journalists announced on Monday. The winners produced stories that helped raise financial literacy in Hispanic communities.
  • "BET and MTV Networks are very quietly soft-launching Centric, a new basic-cable network aimed at African-American adults, on Monday (Sept. 28)," Tom Umstead wrote for Multchannel News. "For starters, Centric will feature acquired fare from corporate siblings such as MTV's 'Run's House.' BET is rebranding its nearly 32 million subscriber BET J network under the Centric moniker, which will target African-American viewers with music and lifestyle programming, according to Centric general manager Paxton Baker."
  • "NBC News will devote a significant amount of time and attention next month to the changing roles of contemporary women, much of it based on a study initiated by Maria Shriver, the one-time NBC correspondent who is married to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California," Bill Carter wrote Monday for the New York Times.
  • Tom Jacobs with his wife, Vilma Seeberg, and their daughter, Zoe Seeberg, during a filming stop at the Great Wall of China. ‚ÄúLifeStyles with Rebecca,‚Äù a weekly series "that will tell the inspiring stories of Americans who have reinvented themselves," premieres in two weeks on more than 120 PBS stations," Mark Dawidziak wrote Sunday in the Plain Dealer of Cleveland. "Tom Jacobs, the producer-director behind this PBS show, travels the country in the LifeStyles RV provided by Neff Brothers of Lorain, searching for triumphant tales to share with viewers."
  • "The Federal Communications Commission will hold a staff workshop, 'Diversity and Civil Rights Issues in Broadband Deployment and Adoption,' on Friday. The workshop will focus on the impact of the lack of access to this critical infrastructure on communities of color," Faye Anderson wrote on her blog. "The workshop will be webcast, beginning at 9:00am ET. To register for the webinar go here."

  • "Rodney Harris is departing KBTX, the Brazos Valley, Texas station where he has been the weather anchor for over three years. Starting Monday, Harris will produce the weather reports for WGCL, the CBS-affiliate in Atlanta," TV Spy reported on Wednesday.
  • Writing about Sudan, "The United Nations today welcomed the reported decision by President Omar Al-Bashir to immediately lift censorship on Sudanese newspapers," the U.N. reported on Tuesday. "This decision will advance the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and is an important step towards creating an appropriate environment for the multi-party elections scheduled for April 2010," the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said in a statement.
  • "The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the closure of a Moroccan independent daily amid an escalating government campaign to silence critical journalists," the press freedom group said on Wednesday. "On Tuesday, police prevented Taoufik Bouachrine, managing publisher and editor of the daily Akhbar al-Youm, and dozens of staff members from entering the offices of the Casablanca-based newspaper."

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.

Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince.

To be notified of new columns, contact and tell us who you are.

About Richard Prince

View previous columns.



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.