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Black Press Group Gets Spunky

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Little Talk of Doom and Gloom but Lots of Bravura

Downturn Particularly Hurts Blacks 45 and Older

ImpreMedia Joint Editorial Backs Immigration March

Amanpour Says "This Week" Will Keep Domestic Focus

Charlayne Hunter-Gault Helps Launch Africa Project

"Pan-Asian" Group Opposes NBC-Comcast Merger

Paterson Says He Gave N.Y. Times Its Fateful Tip

. . . Al Sharpton Emerges as Key Obama Ally

Baltimore Papers' Collusion With Bigotry Detailed

Short Takes

From left, Dorothy R. Leavell, who chairs the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation, Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, and Danny Bakewell, who chairs the NNPA, confer at Thursday's Black Press Week luncheon. (Photos by Jason Miccolo Johnson)Little Talk of Doom and Gloom but Lots of Bravura

The nation's black newspapers want everyone to know they are still feisty after all these years.

At least that was the message from a Black Press Week luncheon in Washington on Thursday among publishers of those papers, who are members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

It was a striking departure from meetings of mainstream journalism organizations. There was little talk of doom and gloom, of the future of the industry or of technology.

Instead, the conversation was about solidifying coalitions with civil rights organizations and with African American politicians to fight for more money from the federal government and from advertisers, and about the traditional advocacy role of the black press.

"Too long have others spoken for us . . . We wish to plead our own cause," John B. Russwurm and the Rev. Samuel Cornish wrote on March 16, 1827, as they introduced Freedom's Journal, the first black newspaper.

On Thursday at the National Press Club, speakers were urged to expand on how that theme applies in 2010.

Among the most ambitious was a call by Ron Daniels, an NNPA columnist and self-described black nationalist who is president of the State of the Black World, 21st Century. He urged "investing in Haiti so she can become a beacon of global black power."

Hazel Trice EdneyDaniels led a delegation of seven black media representatives to Haiti from Feb. 9 to 12 to view the devastation wreaked by the Jan. 12 earthquake. As part of the follow-up, Hazel Trice Edney, editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service, told Journal-isms that the publishers plan to open a bureau in the country, staffed by a Haitian journalist who would be trained in Washington.

That would help implement a pledge by Karl Rodney, publisher of the New York Carib News and chairman of the NNPA Foundation Haitian Project. He declared in February that "Haiti is the epitome of Black History, Black Struggle and Black Success. And the story of Haiti is the story that the Black Press must own and the Black Press must tell because Haiti is the first Democratic country in the Western Hemisphere, the first Black republic for over 200 years.'

The Pew Research Center found in January that only 28 percent of African Americans interviewed said they regularly read a black newspaper, compared with at least 60 percent who said they regularly listened to black news or talk shows on the radio or regularly read black magazines such as Ebony, Essence, Black Enterprise or Jet.

But black newspapers claim they have far greater influence than that - and would probably dispute the Pew numbers. And so they have waged a long-running campaign to claim more advertising dollars from the federal government and from advertisers.

"We're not asking for anything except respect and reciprocity," Danny Bakewell, the chair of the group and publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, told the luncheon crowd. "We represent 14 percent" of the population, "so we want 14 percent of everything moving in the federal government."

The Census Bureau has been a particular target. The NNPA papers wanted $10 million from the Census Bureau to advertise for participation in the 2010 count, but the bureau maintained that paid media were only one way it plans to reach undercounted African Americans.

With luncheon appearances by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other activists, a key difference between the black press and its mainstream counterparts was soon obvious: It views itself as part of a coalition with the politicians and civil rights groups it covers. Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, pledged his solidarity, as did Roslyn Brock, newly elected chair of the NAACP, and Harry Alford, an NNPA columnist and president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

It doesn't stop there. In December, the NNPA stood with 10 black members of the powerful House Finance Committee who boycotted a committee meeting to force attention to the concerns of their financially ailing constituents. The politicians reciprocated, at least verbally.

"Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., says his constituents are wise to the fact that they've been neglected while big businesses were bailed out. 'It is not just impacting the uneducated; it's impacting the entire community. We gave General Motors billions of dollars. They don't advertise in Black newspapers. They don't advertise on Black radio. That's not right. And there's no reason for us to remain passive or silent as that's happening,' " Edney reported in an NNPA story.

The linkage is not new. Even President Obama has pointed out the debt he owes to some of these community papers. Speaking as a candidate at the 2007 convention of the National Association of Black Journalists in Las Vegas, Obama was asked whether he would continue to reach out to the black press if elected.

Obama named three Chicago black newspapers - the Defender, the Crusader and the Citizen - and said to applause, "My attitude is that if you were covering me when nobody wanted to cover me, then they should cover me when everybody wants to cover me. That attitude will continue when I'm in the White House."

Black radio has a stronger claim than the newspapers to reaching masses of consumers. But James L. Winston, executive director and general counsel of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, said black radio shared NNPA's complaints of being denied federal and corporate advertising dollars.

He lobbied on Capitol Hill side by side with the publishers.

But if Winston represents more consumers than newspapers do, then the stations he serves bear more responsibility for a particular concern he identified.

"Ignorance in our community is our biggest problem," he told the luncheon crowd. "We've got to teach young people they need to be reading about what's going on."

Winston's group was planning its annual celebrity-studded awards gala the following night in Washington. 

Downturn Particularly Hurts Blacks 45 and Older

"While millions of Americans have experienced hard times during the economic recession, the environment for many African Americans age 45+ and their families has been particularly difficult," Rebecca Perron reported in a survey for AARP.

The survey, released last month, is part of a continuing look by the organization at how Americans age 45 and older are faring in this economy, and was distributed at the annual Black Press Week meeting of the National Newspaper Publishers Association this week in Washington.

Separately, Frederick Cosby reported Friday for BlackAmericaWeb.com that, "Blacks represent only 11.5 percent of the nation's workforce but account for 22 percent of the long-term unemployed and 22 percent of workers who've been jobless for more than a year, according to a new congressional report that explores the scope and depth of the U.S. recession on the black community.

"The report, by the House and Senate's Joint Economic Committee, reinforces what monthly employment reports have been showing for years now: That the recession has adversely impacted black households more than the overall population."

In the AARP report, Perron wrote that, "African Americans age 45+ have been forced to make increasingly difficult decisions to cope with this economic downturn - decisions that could have serious long-term consequences.

"A third (34%) stopped putting money into a 401(k), IRA or other retirement account, and a quarter (26%) prematurely withdrew funds from their retirement nest eggs to pay for living expenses, including mortgage or rent, health care, education expenses, and for other reasons. More than three in ten (31%) have cut back on their medications, and 28% have carried a higher balance on their credit cards during the past 12 months.

"This economic recession has had a devastating impact on the African American community. The survey, found that over the last 12 months, a third (33%) of African Americans 45+ had problems paying rent or mortgage, and 44% had problems paying for essential items, such as food and utilities. Nearly twice as many African Americans 45+ lost a job than the general population (18% vs. 10%), and almost one in four (23%) lost their employer-sponsored health insurance.

"Faced with the extraordinary impact of this economy, African Americans 45+ are more likely to turn to family or the community for assistance, and are more likely to help family members and friends cope with financial hardships. About one in five African Americans 45+ (22%) consulted friends or family members about finances. Eighteen percent had a child move in for financial reasons, and 44% helped a child pay bills or expenses. Almost one in five (18%) helped a parent pay for basic necessities. African Americans age 45+ were more than twice as likely as all Americans 45+ to seek financial assistance from family, friends, charities and churches (28% vs. 13%)."

Sunday's marchers plan to "demand Congress act NOW to pass immigration reform and move quickly to put all Americans back to work," according to March for America organizers.

ImpreMedia Joint Editorial Backs Immigration March

In an editorial that ran in all of its newspapers this week, the ImpreMedia chain supported Sunday's scheduled march in Washington for immigration reform, and invited "everyone to join in this effort, by participating either in the march itself, or in the events held for the same purpose in various cities around the country.

"Now is the time to make our voices heard, demanding respect, [an] end to persecution, and a comprehensive immigration law. This is a public policy that will benefit the economy — as has been demonstrated in numerous studies — and will normalize the status of millions of families who have been fighting to come out of the shadows and into our society for a long time," the editorial said.

ImpreMedia says its network "brings together 14 print publications and 15 online properties," including El Diario and Hoy in New York, La Opinion in Los Angeles, La Raza in Chicago and Rumbo in central and south Texas.

"Tens of thousands of immigrant activists and their allies from around the country¬† ‚Äî with an estimated 10,000 from the New York area alone ‚Äî will converge this Sunday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.," Marcelo Ballv?© reported for New America Media,

"The goal is to put comprehensive immigration reform firmly back on the political agenda after a year in which immigrant communities have been bitterly disappointed by congressional and White House foot-dragging. Organizers’ ultimate aim: immigration reform legislation before the November 2010 mid-term elections."

Amanpour Says "This Week" Will Keep Domestic Focus

Christiane AmanpourCNN's Christiane Amanpour, announced on Thursday as successor to George Stephanopoulos as moderator of ABC's Sunday public affairs show, "This Week," says those who believe that her international background will shortchange domestic concerns on the show are wrong.

Kevin Allocca of MediaBistro asked Amanpour on Thursday, "What do you say to a casual viewer who knows you so well as an international correspondent and is skeptical of you entering the world of Washington, which is so specific?

She replied, "I hope to prove their skepticism wrong. ABC has done something so bold and decided to go this route. It means hanging on to the DNA of the program, but adding a new perspective. Each host — George Stephanopoulos, Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, David Brinkley — brought their own perspective and shape to the program. In my case, it will be that global perspective, and I think people are eager for it."

She also said, "This is a show that's established in viewers' minds and in their hearts and in their interests. What we're doing is building on it to include the international perspective. We'll focus on the vital domestic policies and issues of the day and the international policies and issues of the day. We'll use the perspective that I've gained over the years of being around the world and interviewing world leaders all over the place.

"The round table will continue with the amazing people like George Will, who's a national treasure, Paul Krugman, Donna Brazile and the ABC correspondents, Jake Tapper, Jonathan Karl, Martha Raddatz, who's had [an] incredibly distinguished career. I'm very very proud to be able to join in a collegial way with all these people."

Charlayne Hunter-Gault Helps Launch Africa Project

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the veteran African American journalist now based in Africa, and Trevor Ncube, an owner of media properties in Zimbabwe and South Africa, are starting an "African Media Initiative" to bolster a free news media on the continent, the two announced on Friday. Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Trevor Ncube

"Many projects are under way to help Africa’s independent media grow and build on its recent successes," they wrote in the Kenya's newspaper the Nation.

"And now, there is an unprecedented African-led effort to support all those endeavours, and to create new initiatives that will serve as a champion and driver of transformational changes in Africa’s media.

"The African Media Initiative (AMI), backed by hundreds of media executives, journalists, academics and other experts from across the continent, takes a practical, holistic approach to these challenges, with a shared commitment to professional ethics and public service.

"Through AMI, we hope to marshal pan-African industry support for legal and economic reforms that are needed for media to operate freely and successfully.

"We will work with major African intergovernmental institutions," among them the African Union, "to secure policy support.

"AMI will also engage with the donor community: International support for media development has been helpful, but could have even greater impact through the kind of coordination AMI hopes to offer.

"AMI’s mission is to ensure that media development projects are driven by the needs and informed by the knowledge of African media practitioners themselves."

Ncube, a part owner of the Mail and Guardian newspapers in South Africa, was among African journalists honored Thursday by Nation Media Group, Joy Wanja wrote in the Nation. The Zimbabwean "was honoured for his fearless contribution in the southern African country in the last two decades. His fight for justice, fairness and democracy in Zimbabwe cost him his freedom and citizenship at one time. . . . "

"Pan-Asian" Group Opposes NBC-Comcast Merger

"The Comcast/NBCU merger has drawn its first petition to deny, according to the FCC, whose doors were opened wide for comment and criticism this week," John Eggerton reported Friday for Broadcasting & Cable.

"It came March 15 from a self-described 'Pan-Asian' group called the Mabuhay Alliance, which felt dissed by what they said was a lack of references to their constituency in the proposed deal's filing, including its public interest filing.

" 'The combined 749 page application and appendix contain no references to America's 15 million Asian Americans or any references as to their past treatment or future treatment by Comcast and NBCU,' the group said in opposing the deal as currently constituted. But they suggested there was a way to make them happier.

" 'As a condition for allowing this proceeding to continue,' they said. 'we formally request that the FCC order Comcast to revise its 145 page application and set forth specific and unique benefits this acquisition will have for 15 million Asian Americans, including those most ignored, such as Vietnamese Americans, Korean Americans, Filipino Americans, Samoans, Hmong, Thais, Cambodians and Indonesians.'

"But they were looking for bucks as sell as benefits. Other items on their deal wish list include getting Comcast to pony up $1 billion to the FCC for a 'diversity fund'" to promote minority media and create a paid ('fully compensate' 11-member Asian American Advisory Board.

"Not only did they submit a petition, but grabbed some face time with Commissioner Mignon Clyburn this week about their issues with the deal."

Sharon Chan, national president of the Asian American Journalists Association, told Journal-isms that AAJA had taken no position on the merger.

Paterson Says He Gave N.Y. Times Its Fateful Tip

"New York Gov. David Paterson said he was the source of information for the story that led to an ethics investigation and the departure of five top members of his administration," CNN Radio Correspondent Steve Kastenbaum reported on Thursday.

"While appearing on WOR radio in New York this morning, Paterson told talk show host John Gambling that he was the person who informed the press that he interceded in an assault case involving his aide, David Johnson.

"In an awkward exchange filled with moments of uncomfortable silence, Gambling said the situation 'might not have come out if we didn't have the press write the story about this, right?' Paterson responded, 'No, that's actually not true, that's actually not true.'

"After a few seconds of silence, Gambling asked, 'Ummm, why?' Paterson said, 'Uh, well, I don't want to go into it but the person who informed others that there was such a conversation was me.' Sounding surprised, Gambling asked, 'You informed the news?' The governor said, 'Correct. That's all I'm going to say about it. And it's not my surmise. It's an actual fact. But the individual who first made it clear that there had been a conversation was myself.'

"Paterson was referring to a conversation that took place with Sherr-una Booker, the woman who filed for an order of protection against David Johnson alleging that he assaulted her on Halloween. Booker failed to appear in court when a judge was scheduled to hear the request."

. . . Al Sharpton Emerges as Key Obama Ally

Meanwhile, Peter Wallsten reported Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal that President Obama has turned to the Rev. Al Sharpton in recent weeks "to answer increasingly public criticism in the black community over his economic policy.

"Mr. Sharpton has emerged as an important part of the White House response. On his national radio program, he is directly rebutting the president's critics, arguing that Mr. Obama is right to craft policies aimed at lifting all Americans rather than specifically targeting blacks.

"Guests to Mr. Sharpton's radio program have included Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Mr. Sharpton's advocacy group, the National Action Network, will feature Mr. Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at its annual conference next month, according to Mr. Sharpton's office. Mr. Biden spoke last year."

Popular talk show host and activist Tavis Smiley, who has clashed with Sharpton over his support for Obama, "has invited a panel of black academics and leaders, including the heads of the NAACP and the National Urban League, to Obama's home town on Saturday to discuss whether the nation's first African American president is doing enough to address the community's concerns," as Michael A. Fletcher and Hamil R. Harris reported in the Washington Post.

Baltimore Papers' Collusion With Bigotry Detailed

"Before I began working on the book, I had little idea of the extent of the white-supremacist record of the newspaper that employed me from 1969 until 2004," Antera Pietila, author of "Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City," wrote Monday in the alternative paper the Baltimore Brew.

"The record makes me utterly uneasy — and not only because of The Sun. My uneasiness stems from a realization that other newspaper companies in various parts of the country may share similar histories of segregation, except that those remain hidden because no one has probed them.

" . . . Later on in the book, I document the anti-Semitism of The Sunpapers — from its employment policies to its job and real estate advertising. I also show how the Afro-American colluded with real estate brokers — its biggest advertisers — to determine the direction of black expansion during the initial 1940s blockbusting phase. As a result, a pattern established in 1910 was continued in which neighborhoods transitioned from non-Jewish to Jewish to African-American.

"Did newspapers in other American cities engage in similar practices? I don’t know, but I suspect they did. What I do know is that records provide ample, conclusive documentation of at least two newspapers’ racial advocacy role in Baltimore at the time when the development patterns were initiated that continue even today."

Short Takes

  • A scholarship fundraiser for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in New York Thursday garnered a profit for the scholarship fund of $50,000 to $65,000, Executive Director Ivan Roman told Journal-isms. "People seemed to like the changed format to a reception," he said. "They have more time to just talk and network, it's an easier event for them to attend, and a lot more of the money raised goes straight to the scholarship fund." The event was advertised as an evening with such journalists as Juan Gonzalez, columnist for the New York Daily News; Ed Lavandera, correspondent, CNN; Carl Quintanilla, co-anchor of CNBC‚Äôs "Squawk Box"; John Qui?±ones, co-anchor of ABC‚Äôs "Primetime"; Maggie Rodriguez, co-anchor of CBS‚Äô "The Early Show";¬†Teresa Rodriguez, co-anchor and correspondent for Univisi??n‚Äôs "Aqu?? y Ahora"; and Ray Suarez of PBS' "The News Hour."
  • "A recent gawker.com post has the internet abuzz with speculation over whether Essence Magazine is in danger of folding. The African-American female-focused magazine saw big layoffs in November, and yesterday it announced the retirement of its longtime beauty and cover director Mikki Taylor," theGrio.com reported on Thursday. "But according to the magazine, there's no trouble at Essence, and the fashion team did not go "AWOL," as Gawker reported. "We have a fully functional fashion team that is working on an Essence 40th anniversary commemorative issue for September," said spokeswoman Dana Baxter.
  • "The Associated Press has begun delivering news stories from six leading Latin America newspapers on its AP Mobile news network through a distribution deal with Grupo de Diarios Am?©rica (GDA)," Editor & Publisher reported. "Now on the roster of AP Mobile news providers are regional newspapers such as Colombia's El Tiempo, Costa Rica's La Naci??n, Ecuador's El Comercio, Puerto Rico's El Nuevo D??a, Uruguay's El Pa??s and Venezuela's El Nacional. AP M??vil features regional, national and world news from AP and Latin American and Caribbean content from participating media organizations."
  • "The federal court in Philadelphia is preparing for an overflow crowd of the curious and the media if the Oprah Winfrey defamation suit goes ahead as scheduled a week from Monday," Nathan Gorenstein reported Friday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "At a hearing today, U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo C. Robreno told lawyers for Winfrey and Lerato Nomvuyo Mzamane, who is suing the television talk show host, that he is setting aside an extra courtroom to handle the overflow. . . .Mzamane was the headmistress of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls until allegations in October 2007 that a dormitory matron sexually assaulted six girls."
  • "On the seventh anniversary of the Cuban government‚Äôs massive crackdown on dissidents and the independent press, the Committee to Protect Journalists calls on you as leader of the European Union to take the forefront in defending human rights by urging President Ra??l Castro to immediately release 22 journalists now jailed in Cuba," Joel Simon, the committee's executive director, wrote Thursday to Spanish President Jos?© Luis Rodr??guez Zapatero.
  • "Ethiopia is preparing to jam the Amharic-language broadcasts of the U.S. government-funded Voice of America (VOA)¬†, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi declared Thursday in a press briefing with international media correspondents based in the capital, Addis Ababa," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Friday.
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Comments

Black press is deceiving themselves

When Pew research finds that 28 percent of black people read black newspapers, that is an indicator that the black press is seriously outdated. They cannot cover their own community because they cannot afford to hire qualified African American journalists to do so. The mainstream media nor the black press are really covering issues related to us. If they think they are (besides running NNPA press releases) they are wrong. That isn't local news. And why is a white man publisher of an African American newspaper? What does he know about our issues?

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