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Black Crowd Attacks Journalists after Shooting

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Thursday, August 22, 2002

Philly Paper's Front-Page Mug Shots Show No Whites

Black Crowd Attacks Journalists after Shooting

About 75 to 100 people in North Minneapolis rioted Thursday evening after police said an officer accidentally shot an 11-year-old boy in the arm while executing a search warrant, the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Tensions grew as TV news crews arrived to cover the event.

The 75 to 100 people gathered and began to shout at police and reporters, police said.

WFTC-TV reporter Maury Glover, a black journalist, did a live report from the scene for the 9 p.m. newscast but was not attacked and was able to leave the area unharmed, Dana Benson, news director of both KMSP and WFTC, told Journal-isms.

However, windows were broken out of a WCCO-TV news vehicle and in a Metro Transit bus. A police spokeswoman said a KMSP-TV, Channel 9, news vehicle was burned. Two Star Tribune reporters, a photographer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and a reporter for WCCO-TV and another from WCCO radio were hurt, the Star Tribune said.

Several vehicles were damaged and at least six people were injured, including three journalists covering the incident.

At one point, four white Pioneer Press journalists escaped as about 20 people surrounded their car, pelting it with glass and debris. A rock hit photographer Nate Thomson on the head before he got into the car. He received stitches at North Memorial and was released.

"I've never seen anything like it," said public safety reporter Lisa Donovan. "People were coming at us and they were screaming, 'Let's get 'em.' "

Abraham Awaijane, who owns the Big Stop Foods at the corner of 26th and Knox, told the Pioneer Press that he saw some members of a group of about 50 people pull Howie Padilla, a Star Tribune reporter who is Mexican American, out of a station wagon and beat him up.

Awaijane said he pulled Padilla into the store and locked the building.

The group then set a station wagon on fire, he said.

"They attacked a news truck, too," the witness said. The vehicle, an abandoned KMSP-TV sport-utility vehicle, had been pelted with rocks and other debris. A WCCO-TV vehicle was also damaged when its windows were broken out.

Padilla and Pioneer Press reporter Judith Yates Borger took shelter in the Big Stop Foods store for about an hour until police arrived. Borger said Padilla looked beaten up and was confused about what day of the week it was.

Another Star Tribune reporter, David Chanen, who is white, was also assaulted, according to the newspaper.

WFTC/KMSP's Benson said that at one point a reporter, photographer and a truck operator were chased into their satellite truck and were able to lock themselves in while people were pounding on it. They called their newsroom, and police arrived to rescue them. No one was injured, but the truck was damaged to the point it was undrivable, and the other KMSP vehicle was lit on fire and destroyed.

Jackson, Miss., Paper Gets First Black Top Editor

Ronnie Agnew, managing editor for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., has been named executive editor, becoming the first African American to lead the Gannett-owned paper.

Mississippi native Agnew, 39, is a graduate of Ole Miss. He joined the paper as managing editor in February 2001.

The appointment is the latest milestone in the paper's racial history.

Bennie Ivory, another black journalist, was managing editor of the paper from 1988 to 1993, when he was named executive editor of Gannett Co. Inc.'s Florida Today in Melbourne, Fla. He is now executive editor and vice president at Gannett's Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.

Ivory directed reporting that led to the re-indictment of white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith in the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers 26 years earlier. De La Beckwith was convicted in 1994 and given a life sentence.

The Clarion-Ledger also reported that its own former editors regularly killed civil rights stories before publication at the request of the Sovereignty Commission, a now-defunct state agency set up solely to preserve segregation. Gannett bought the paper in 1982; the Legislature abolished the commission in 1977.

Philly Paper's Front-Page Mug Shots Show No Whites

The front page of the Philadelphia Daily News pictured 18 police mug shots of fugitives wanted for murder by Philadelphia police. All were either African-American, Hispanic or Asian.

The page was representative of the latest available listing of suspected murder fugitives, which list 41 African-Americans, 12 Hispanics and three Asians, writes Mark Angeles in the Daily News.

Attorney Sharif Street, the mayor's eldest son, said the portrayal would make life tougher for every young, African-American male in Philadelphia.

"I'm not so much focused on the text of the story but more on the imagery of the front cover," said Street, 28. "It damages the quality of life for the average male my age because it portrays us as the enemy of society."

Although city police arrest suspected murderers of all races every day, they theorize that these suspects mostly live in poor, minority neighborhoods, where residents are often more distrustful of police officers.

Daily News Managing Editor Ellen Foley said there was no intent to frighten or intimidate people of color.

"We apologize if the graphic treatment offended black Philadelphians," Foley said. "We were trying to explore and provide accurate information about an issue of great concern to our community. We welcome comments and criticism from our readers on any issue, especially sensitive issues such as this, because it helps us get better as journalists and truth-seekers."

Denver Post Explains "Boondocks" Joke

"How dumb do the folks at the Denver Post think their readers are?" asks the Denver weekly Westword.

Arguably the most entertaining strip in the Post's cartoon roster is The Boondocks, by Aaron McGruder, which often has strongly political overtones but also manages to skewer pop culture on a regular basis. That was certainly the case on Aug. 14, when two of McGruder's creations, Huey and Caesar, discussed the recent breakup of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. When Caesar wondered how Brit was taking the split, Huey responded, "Last I heard, she was dating five different black men named Muhammad." Boxed beneath this comment were the words "Tomorrow: Lawsuits!"

The next day, the space normally filled by the strip's first sketch was occupied by text labeled "Editor's Note." It read, "The editorial staff of this paper would like to express regret at this feature's tasteless assertion yesterday that Britney Spears is currently dating five black men named Muhammad. Since yesterday, we have received hundreds of calls, mostly from black men named Muhammad, asking if this is true. We assure you it is not. We would like Ms. Spears' legal representation to accept our deepest apologies. Mr. McGruder now understands such reckless and irresponsible humor has absolutely no place in the funny pages. And now, back to the feature." In the next frame, Caesar says, "So she's not dating five black men named Muhammad?," to which Huey replies, "No. But she is dating Al Sharpton."

Hilarious stuff, and obviously a joke, as anyone capable of winning a duel of wits with a department-store mannequin undoubtedly realized. But the powers at the Post were apparently still concerned about confusion, since the paper addressed the matter in its Aug. 15 corrections section with this: "The 'editor's note' in The Boondocks cartoon on page 7F today is not from editors of the Denver Post but rather was written by the cartoon's creator and is intended to be the first of three panels [two, actually] that make up the cartoon strip."

Urban Hispanics Untapped Market for Digital Cable

Urban Hispanic Americans are an "untapped digital cable market," according to "Focus: Latino II," a research report that will be unveiled at the ninth annual Ethnic Marketing Conference in Chicago, Sept. 25 to Sept. 27, Electronic Media reports.

That's particularly true of those Hispanic Americans who may speak little or no Spanish at home but still value their heritage and especially their Spanish-language TV channels.

So-called urban Hispanics are "upward" of 80 percent of all Hispanic-heritage Americans.

Three-quarters of all urban Hispanics say Spanish-language TV channels are important to their households, and nearly half (44 percent) of those urban Hispanics who speak little Spanish at home say Spanish-language channels are important, according to the report.

Juanita Rodriguez, Editor in Pocatello, Dies at 52

Juanita Rodriguez, lifestyles editor for the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello, died Tuesday after a 10-day bout with a rare blood disorder. She was 52, the paper reports.

"Her title was 'lifestyles editor,' but that doesn't begin to convey the scope and importance of her role here in the Idaho State Journal newsroom," said Steve Miller, managing editor. "She planned and edited content for her sections and pages, but she also wrote a good deal and . . . was fully capable of running the newsroom. She was a person I knew I could rely on completely.

"She knew this community inside and out and understood the business completely. And the cool thing is that, after all the years she put in, she was still willing to try new things, do things in new ways, take a risk now and then."

Rodriguez was fluent in Spanish and her family was from Mexico, but "there was never any consciousness of whether she was Hispanic or white or whatever," Lyle Olson, the longtime managing editor who hired Rodriguez in 1976, told Journal-isms. "We'd say 'Hasty Bananas' when she was leaving and joke, 'don't forget your Green Card.' But she was not identified as the quote Hispanic reporter. She did everything from covering police beat to the courthouse. She was likeable and quick with a quip."

A service is scheduled Monday at 11 a.m at St. Anthony's Church in Pocatello, which has perhaps a 5 percent Hispanic population, Olson said.

Ann Curry to AAJA: Journalism is Green

NBC's Ann Curry challenged members of the Asian American Journalists Association to be willing to fight for stories that people need to know, Esther Wu writes in the Dallas Morning News. At AAJA's recent Dallas convention, she admonished media companies that were more interested in earning a profit than serving the public. She said the state of "journalism today is not yellow - it is green."

Curry, Today show news anchor and contributing reporter for Dateline NBC, was the keynote speaker at AAJA's awards luncheon. She said media organizations must do a better job balancing what people want to know with what they need to know. And journalists must remember "that the people we work for are not the people who sign our checks - but the people who view our work, read our words."

Jesse Jackson: Black Journalists Must Argue Our Case

"When I appeal to you as the black journalists to come together that your voice might argue our case, accept my appeal," the Rev. Jesse Jackson told a meeting Wednesday night of concerned members of the Chicago Association of Black Journalists at Tribune Tower.

"Between those who come from the black or brown experience there must be a struggle for definition. That is why when I grew up, second only to hearing Bible stories which were both sacred and scary, was the African-American newspaper out of Baltimore, the Afro-American. They had the most readership because they had a point of view that challenged the prevailing point of the Greenville [S.C.] News. So we need your point of view," he said. More at the end of today's posting.

Affirmative Action Called True Win in Daily News Case

David Hardy, one of the four plaintiffs in the lawsuit at the New York Daily News discussed in Monday's posting about the Washington Post "Metro Seven," says that "the really major accomplishment of the suit . . . was not the money but the 'affirmative action' agreement I hammered out in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with the News trial attorney Tom Morrison."

On the $3.1 million the News was reported to have paid the four, Hardy disclosed that, "in fact it was $3.2; of that, $2.8 went to the four plaintiffs in the main case. The remainder went to 10 other plaintiffs in a companion case (Jones et al vs. New York News)."

On the "affirmative action" agreement, he told Journal-isms:

"The agreement specified that the News had to hire a black for its board of directors (otherwise known as the planning committee), a black for the editorial board, a black for the news desk and six professional-level jobs. In fact, the News would have gotten away with paying less, but they didn't realize until it was too late that the reason I found the money unacceptable was because there were no promotions; they kept raising the ante thinking money would bring about an agreement; hell, even the judge thought I was nuts until I informed her that money was secondary to my desire to crack the apartheid system in management. She wouldn't release the jury in the damage phase of the trial until the agreement was hammered out. I still get a thrill when I have flashbacks to those minutes when I kicked the crap out of the News trial attorney in framing the agreement."

Hardy continues:

"The individuals hired under the agreement included Lucius Gregg for the planning committee (the highest policy-making entity within the News); Richard Carter as editorial writer-columnist, and Sabrina White for the news desk; the reporter-level hires included Hollie West, Joyce Shelby, Claire Serant, Karen Hunter, Natalie Byfield, Fran McMorris. When Robert Maxwell purchased the News from the Chicago Tribune after that memorable 1990-91 strike, the incumbent editor-in-chief Jim Willse (who is now editor of the Star-Ledger [in Newark, N.J.]) axed Carter. However, when I brought it to Robert Maxwell's attention that the agreement was still in effect, he responded in positive manner. Not only did Maxwell (whom I personally found a fascinating character with a keen sense of the News' history of anti-Semitism) order Willse to hire Ellis Cose under the terms of the agreement, but he (Maxwell) took it a step further and made Cose the editorial page editor. . . . Sadly, this blow for racial justice was largely undone when Mort Zuckerman fired every black male reporter in the place and subsequently axed [columnist] Earl Caldwell."

Jesse Jackson to Chicago Black Journalists

"I cannot forget the night that Harold Washington won mayor. The Chicago Sun-Times said Jane Byrne or Daley, Tribune said Jane Byrne or Daley, (TV stations) 2, 5, 9, 11...none of them said Harold would win. And so that night -- it's in my mind vividly -- that Channel 2 (Bill) Kurtis and (Walter) Jacobsen and six of them were lined up and (Kurtis) was saying, "All of us missed it." Then someone said, "Don't feel bad, all of us missed it." So Jacobsen, in a rare burst of thought, said, "Why'd all of us miss it?" And that became the schtick. "Why'd all of us miss it?" As I looked down the table – six white males who worked downtown and lived Lincoln Park and north, a 95th Street is not in their world. 79th and Western is not in their world. 93rd Street...and so, their `My Kind of Town' begs of you in these newsrooms and information channels to make them better and protect all of us from just the madness of them having so much power and such limited thoughts.

"Somebody has to raise the point. There are 900,000 black men in jail. There are 600,000 in college. There are 10 million black men eligible to vote. 1.5 million lost their right to vote because they've been incarcerated. They've not had their right to vote restored. What does a million five mean? Kennedy beat Nixon by 112,000 votes. What does a million five mean? Nixon beat Humphrey by 500,000. What does a million five mean? In Florida, Bush was able to steal the election by less than 1,000. The one who got the fewest votes became the winner. In that state there are 400,000 black men who have lost their right to vote. Mrs. (Katherine) Harris sent out the group from Texas to survey blacks who had been in prison who may vote for Democrats but who in fact were ineligible. Why go after the vote that clearly was not going to be voting for Bush? There has to be a voice for us that will argue to tell that not so culturally correct story. Cook County Jail. No A&T, no Howard, no Florida A&M, no Tuskegee, no Spelman, no black college in America has the budget of Cook County Jail. Twelve thousand inmates in Cook County Jail. Nine thousand beds. Three thousand more inmates than there are beds. Ninety percent are high school dropouts. Eighty percent non-violent drug charges. (High) recidivism rate. Some have been in jail 2, 3, 4, up to five years waiting for trial. My point is that there is an amazing adjustment to that, because it's not offensive (to us). If that were 12,000 whites, mostly youth, in that jail or of any other ethnic persuasion, if they were Polish or Irish or Italian or Jewish and there were 12,000 of that ethnic group (imagine) the sense of outrage as opposed to adjustment. We need your voices.

"More black people in Chicago work for other black people than any other business in town. You add up all the beauty shops and the barbershops. The largest employer in Englewood is Rev. Brazier's church. Largest employer in the 9th Ward is Salem Church. The next one is Rev. Jeremiah Wright. You add up all the bars and the beauty shops and the barbershops and the rib joints and the restaurants, more blacks work for other blacks than work for the post office or Sears. So when there are systemic forces that wipe out our economic growth, that, it seems to me must be a matter (of importance) for somebody. So when I appeal to you as the black journalists to come together that your voice might argue our case, accept my appeal."

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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