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Blacks, Latinos Find Much to Like in Oscar

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Biggest Audience for an Entertainment Show Since '04

On the N-Word, Is It John Ridley vs. John Ridley?

Firefighters Rescue Reporter Stuck in Mud After Stand-Up

Lack of Blacks Covering Ukraine, and Perhaps That's OK

Venezuela Releases Journalist as Others Urge Attention
 
Angelo Henderson Family Says Cause of Death Misdiagnosed

Lateef Mungin, CNN Reporter "Who Brought the Funny," 41

Young Latinos Don't Want Separate Dialogue, TV Exec Says

Short Takes

Lupita Nyong'o accepts her Oscar for best supporting actress in "12 Years a Slav

Biggest Audience for an Entertainment Show Since '04

Black and Latino commentators each pronounced Sunday night's Academy Awards a banner occasion — and the night also recorded the first Oscar for a Filipino-American. Composer Robert Lopez, with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, won an Oscar for "Let It Go" from the Disney animated movie, "Frozen."

"The searing drama '12 Years a Slave' was named best picture at the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday night," Todd Leopold reported for CNN.

"The story of Solomon Northup, a free African-American man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, won just three awards, but they were all major: best picture, best supporting actress (Lupita Nyong'o) and best adapted screenplay (John Ridley)." African Americans were represented among the presenters, and the audience was introduced to Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African American to lead the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Overseas, "Nyong'o was the topic of the day on Kenya's radio and TV stations Monday," the Associated Press reported. The AP's Lynn Elber was among many who alluded to the heralding of Nyong'o's complexion as beautiful: "Nyong'o, who has talked about learning as a child to accept her dark-skinned beauty, said she hoped her success would inspire other youngsters. . . ."

Meanwhile, HuffPost LatinoVoices reported, "It was an Oscar night that will go down in history for Latinos.

"Between host Ellen DeGeneres' quick wit and an impromptu pizza delivery for Hollywood's biggest star, the 86th Annual Academy Awards not only made history when they honored Latin American talent but also spotlighted the political unrest currently overtaking Venezuela.

"Alfonso Cuarón’s innovative space-thriller 'Gravity' was the night's most honored film with a grand total of seven Oscars, which included Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

"Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki accepted his long-awaited Oscar for his work in the critically-acclaimed film. His work on 'Gravity' earned Lubezki his sixth nomination and first win — in the past the cinematographer was nominated for 'Children of Men' and 'Y Tu Mamá También,' among others.

"But history was truly made when Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón took home the golden statuette for Best Director, becoming the first Latin American to win in the category. Cuarón also accepted an Oscar for Best Film Editing for 'Gravity' on Sunday night. . . . "

Josh Feldman reported for Mediaite, "12 Years a Slave took home the Oscars grand prize last night, and it was a well-deserved win for an emotionally gripping film. But as Lupita Nyong'o pointed out prominently in her speech, it's important to remember these were real people, and the tale of Solomon [Northup] really did happen. And last night, [toward] the end of the Oscar ceremony, The New York Times tweeted out a link to the archives: an article in the paper from 1853 about the twelve years a free black man spent as a slave. . . ."

Some headlines on Academy Award night misfired, such as this one from the Daily

There were misfires among some 2014 headlines, however. The Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif., and sister papers, including the Press-Telegram of Long Beach, Calif., and the Los Angeles Daily News, bannered, "'Slave' becomes master." The News-Gazette in central Illinois headlined "'12 Years a Slave' Escapes With Top Oscar' " on Page A-9.

And on Monday, reporters chased the reasons for the chill between "12 Years" director Steve McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley.

Viewers tuned in.

"Though host Ellen DeGeneres drew mixed reviews and people snarked on social media about the long running time for the broadcast, Sunday’s Academy Awards on ABC drew their biggest audience in a decade," Toni Fitzgerald wrote for medialifemagazine.com.

"The program averaged 43 million total viewers, according to Nielsen, up 6 percent from the 40.38 million who watched last year.

"It marked the third straight year that the broadcast grew over the previous year.

"The Oscars also drew the biggest audience for any entertainment program since the series finale of 'Friends' posted 52.5 million total viewers on May 6, 2004. . . ."

On the N-Word, Is It John Ridley vs. John Ridley?

John Ridley

Among the many aspects of "12 Years a Slave" that drew commentary, its realistic view of American slavery was front and center.

Márcio de Abreu, a Brazilian cultural critic and producer who specializes in Afro-Brazilian culture, wrote last month for Shadow and Act, "No other movie before 12 Years a Slave — not even [Quentin] Tarantino's parody of slavery, Django Unchained, and [its] 115 uses of the most infamous of American racial slurs — has been able to reconnect the word 'nigger' to its past in such a genuine way, and to present such a clear and explicit demonstration of what the term actually means and does.

"More than just an offensive racial epithet used to refer to individuals of African descent, in 12 Years a Slave the word 'nigger' symbolizes a subhuman being, a creature incapable of self-rule, doomed to live under the yoke of a master, and whose presence in America represented a necessary and convenient burden with which white folks had to cope. . . ."

John Ridley won his Academy Award for best adapted screenplay partially for placing the N-word in what de Abreu called its proper context.

Yet eight years ago, Ridley was arguing in favor of casual use of the word.

On Monday, Esquire magazine reposted Ridley's essay, "The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger," which ran in its December 2006 issue. The piece quickly circulated Monday in social media.

In the essay, Ridley told Esquire's white, male, affluent readership that the people he labeled with that description are "the oppressed minority within our minority" and that "we need to send niggers on their way."

The decision by Esquire to publish the piece prompted William Jelani Cobb, the black author and writer who then taught history at Spelman College, to call for a boycott of the magazine and its advertisers.

Ridley told Journal-isms then that the racial epithet no longer bothers him because "it doesn't mean anything."

Ridley didn't stop there. The same month, he pooh-poohed the uproar over "Seinfeld" comedian Michael Richards' use of the word against a heckler in a comedy club. Richards' career never recovered.

"If there's one person who oughta get something for stepping up and personifying and exemplifying the absurdity of race relations in America, PC fascism, and media histrionics it's Michael Richards and his Nigger-Bomb," Ridley wrote for the Huffington Post.

"That patrons in a comedy club would think they could heckle a comedian without some kind of repercussions... "

We'll wait to see whether Ridley writes his way out of this contradiction.


Miguel Almaguer, a California-based correspondent for "NBC Nightly News," was wedged into a shelf of thick mud that had slid down from the hillside in Azusa, Calif. The mud went up to this thighs. (video)

Firefighters Rescue Reporter Stuck in Mud After Stand-Up

"Journalists wouldn't be journalists if they didn't risk the occasional battering from nature — say a hurricane surge — or, in the case of Miguel Almaguer, a massive surge of mud," Nicole Hensley wrote Saturday for the Daily News in New York.

"Firefighters had to rescue the NBC Nightly News correspondent Friday after he got stuck in just such a thick mud flow in northeast Los Angeles.

"He even lost his boots.

"Residents in an Azusa neighborhood had been evacuated when the hillside became unstable after recent heavy rains and fires killed off vegetation and led to dangerous mudslides.

"Almaguer thought it a good idea to show the depth of the mud by standing in it.

"Wrong.

"When he tried to get out of the goop, he discovered he had gotten completely stuck, County of Los Angeles Fire Department Captain Brian Jordan told the Daily News.

"Almaguer was up to his legs in mud, Jordan said, but a pair of firefighters happened to be nearby and dragged him to safety after a few minutes. . . ."

Lack of Blacks Covering Ukraine, and Perhaps That's OK

Gary Lee

"As tensions escalate in Ukraine, cable and broadcast networks are ramping up their presence in the region," Merrill Knox reported Monday for TVNewser.

None of that presence appears to be of color. That should not be surprising. Apparently, only four black journalists have ever been assigned permanently to Russia.

Ann Simmons, now with the Los Angeles Times, worked from 1991 to 1994 as a reporter in Time magazine's Moscow bureau after having been a student in the country. Gary Lee was the Washington Post's Moscow bureau chief from 1985 to 1989.

In previous decades, Homer Smith, using the name Chatwood Hall, wrote for the black press from the Soviet Union in the 1930s after he could not find suitable work in the United States. "He depicted America negatively," Jinx Coleman Broussard wrote in her recent "African American Foreign Correspondents: A History." "His view of a utopian Russia eventually changed, and his enthusiasm about the 'Soviet experiment' became pessimism when he realized that the country was motivated only by self-interest."

In 1950s, William Worthy Jr. wrote for the black press and other organizations from the Soviet Union, then China, Cuba, Iran and other countries, criticizing the West as he went. "He followed the news to at least 38 countries," Broussard wrote. Worthy skirmished with the U.S. government over passport and other issues, but in retirement was awarded the Nieman Foundation's Louis M. Lyons Award in 2008 for his contributions to journalism.

Lee wrote about the experience of being a black journalist in Russia when he returned to the United States in 1991.

" 'You don't understand racism here? [PDF] the Jewish writer Grigory Kanovichas told me in Vilnius several months ago," Lee wrote in the Post. 'The truth is, no one understands it. In fact, it is not to be understood. This is a country where people think that the color of a man's skin tells them everything they need to know about him. They look at a black and say, 'There goes a nigger.' How is that to be understood? . . . As far as most Russians are concerned, a black American is a contradiction in terms. As a rule, they consider white Americans to be rich, happy-go-lucky and typically resembling the models for Ralph Lauren. Blacks, in contrast, are seen as criminal, jobless and preoccupied with scraping a living together. In their conception, the twain does not meet. I found this out in the hardest way possible . . . "

Michelle Goldhaber, an American expatriate residing part time in Lviv, Ukraine, who has been researching and advocating on behalf of African students in Ukraine, wrote of that country in 2012, "As an American expatriate who has been researching racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Ukraine for the past 10 years, I must admit I am delighted that these societal handicaps are finally getting the international, not to mention domestic attention they have long deserved.

"Reports of swastikas and Celtic crosses, hooligans training new recruits in forests, and fans beating up all sorts of people of color do not surprise me. They are nothing new. In fact, according to my contacts in African communities, the situation may have actually improved somewhat in the past year or two. What is new, and refreshing, is the spotlight. . . ."

Venezuela Releases Journalist as Others Urge Attention

"Italian photojournalist Francesca Commissari on Sunday was released by a Caracas judge who heard her case and those of a Portuguese citizen and 39 Venezuelans arrested late last week during anti-government protests here," the EFE news service reported Monday.

" 'I'm free,' tweeted Commissari on Twitter, where she thanked — among others — her country's consulate and the lawyers from the NGO Foro Penal Venezolano and the SNTP journalists' association of Venezuela for helping obtain her release.

"Including Commissari, there have been '76 journalistic victims of the #RepresionEnVenezuela' wrote the SNTP on the same social network. . . ."

U.S. Latino journalists have urged more attention to Venezuela. "Former President Hugo Chavez was crazy," syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. wrote this week for the Washington Post Writers Group.

"But what [President Nicolas] Maduro is doing — using armed soldiers and plainclothes goons on motorcycles to beat and kill people in order to stifle dissent and keep power — is flat-out criminal. The casualties are young people who look like they're barely old enough to order a drink in a bar. YouTube videos show soldiers chasing down protesters and clubbing them into the ground. College students lie in pools of blood, their heads bashed in. . . ."

Angelo Henderson Family Says Cause of Death Misdiagnosed

"An attorney representing the family of radio host Angelo Henderson said the Oakland Medical Examiner's Office misdiagnosed his cause of death following a private autopsy conducted by his family," Tony Briscoe reported Monday for the Detroit News.

"An independent autopsy performed last month by forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz indicated Henderson died of a coronary embolism that originated in his leg Feb. 15 in his home in Pontiac, attorney Arnold Reed said.

"The ruling contradicts the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office, which said Henderson died of hypertension and other causes. Reed said investigators who responded to the Henderson home the day he died did not conduct an examination on Henderson's body to determine cause of death and wrote inaccurate information on his death certificate.

" 'When information started being released about Mr. Henderson being overweight, having high blood pressure, it was one false report after another,' Reed said. 'The family knows what kind of health he was in ... This is about protecting Mr. Henderson's legacy and a part of that is what led to and caused his death, and it wasn't hypertension like the medical examiner said the day after his death.' . . ."

Lateef Mungin, CNN Reporter "Who Brought the Funny," 41

Lateef Mungin"Journalists routinely report on calamity and death," Moni Basu reported Monday for CNN. "But even the most seasoned reporters cannot be prepared when tragedy comes home, when we have to report on the passing of a friend and colleague. Lateef Mungin, a reporter at CNN, died Friday in Atlanta. He was 41. He suffered seizures at his desk in the CNN newsroom Monday night [Feb. 24] and after he fought to survive for several days at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital, his heart gave out. . . ."

Basu also wrote, "He was the guy who brought the funny to the table, the guy who kept us all laughing, even on bad days. He was the guy who started colleagues on pun-offs, epic wordplay battles that he refereed. The guy who picked a song of the night that related to the news. A small harmless earthquake in D.C.? Let's hear 'Shake, Rattle and Roll.' . . . ."

In the fall of 2004, Mungin married Aileen Dodd, a fellow journalist he courted at the Journal-Constitution. "He was the best daddy to his two girls, Jade, 13, and Ami, 8," Basu wrote.

Young Latinos Don't Want Separate Dialogue, TV Exec Says

"American firms trying to tap into the fast-growing Hispanic market, particularly those in the news business, are receiving a very clear message: Good luck," Alan Gomez wrote from Miami Friday for USA Today.

"The lights are going out at CNN Latino, a year-old experiment by the news network to reach America's 53 million Hispanics with Spanish-language programming. That comes three months after the shutdown of NBCLatino.com, an English-language attempt that targeted the same demographic.

"The closures do not indicate any slowdown in the growth of the Hispanic population — it remains the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S. and is expected to increase from 17% of the population to 26% by 2050, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

"The trouble is, the Hispanic population is so varied and its interests so diverse that it's difficult to cater to it. That's especially true when it comes to crafting news coverage, with outlets not even sure which language to use. . . ."

Gomez also wrote, "Officials at Fusion, a joint venture between ABC and Univision that debuted last year, learned that complicated lesson before they went on air. Fusion CEO Isaac Lee said the team spoke with thousands of young Hispanics and learned that they weren't interested in programming that would appeal only to them.

" 'Young Hispanics do not want us to have a separate dialogue with them just because they are Hispanic. They want a broader conversation that acknowledges they are in the room and that speaks to their values,' Lee said. 'Something we have talked a lot about is winking at Hispanics, focusing on the cultural nuances that a Hispanic consumer will certainly recognize, but a non-Hispanic might not see at all.'

"The ability to weave among different kinds of media makes the Hispanic demographic hard to pin down. But it isn't stopping American businesses from trying. . . ."

Short Takes

  • "As it prepares to pitch its deal to merge with Time Warner Cable, Comcast says it has delivered, and in some cases overdelivered, on its promises to the FCC that helped it secure approval of its combo with NBCU in 2011," John Eggerton reported Monday for Broadcasting & Cable. Those promises included broadband for low-income communities and additional Hispanic-targeted programming.

  • Pam McKelvy
  • "As Pam McKelvy put it, for many a woman, her hair is her 'crown of glory,' " Liz Klimas wrote Friday for the Blaze. "For women on TV, that's particularly true. So it was with heavy emotion that the WMC-TV anchor in Memphis, Tenn., took off her wig on live television after battling cancer. It wasn't to show off a bald head — though she did end up losing her hair, which has since begun to grow back — but to reveal her decision to let her hair regrow naturally. . . ."

  • Qazi Nasir Mudassir, who owns a radio station in Afghanistan, said armed American Special Forces troops scaled his walls with ladders on Thursday, arresting Mudassir and two other employees, Rod Nordland and Jawad Sukhanyar reported Saturday for the New York Times. "On Saturday he accused American soldiers of beating him and threatening to kill him to extract information during his detention. They were apparently unaware, he said, that his radio station is supported in large part by pro-government, pro-coalition propaganda advertisements paid for by the American military. . . ."

  • "Due to mechanical issues and some weather, I couldn't make it to San Diego in time to deliver my keynote, The Power of Code, to the Associated Collegiate Press conference," Robert Hernandez, who teaches at USC Annenberg, wrote Sunday in a series of tweets assembled on Storify. "So, we decided to experiment and do an Ask Me Anything (AMA) from my plane somewhere over Colorado. . . ."

  • "Two policemen have been sentenced to 10 years in jail for killing an Egyptian blogger more than three years after the incident, which was one of the events that inspired the 18-day revolt in 2011," Al Jazeera reported on Monday. "Policemen Mahmoud Salah Mahmoud and Awad Ismail Suleiman were accused of manslaughter and of torturing Khaled Said in June 2010 after unlawfully arresting him at an Internet cafe in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. . . ."

  • "A Pakistani court convicted five men on Saturday of murdering a young television reporter, his brother said, marking the first time anyone has been convicted for killing a Pakistani journalist," Katharine Houreld reported Saturday for Reuters. "Wail Babar, a 28-year-old journalist for Geo news, covered the seamy side of Karachi, a sweltering port megacity of 18 million people. He reported on drugs, crime, militancy and deadly turf struggles between the city's main political parties. He was shot dead on Jan. 13, 2011 as he left work. . . ."

  • "Husbands, Incorporated" by Elizabeth Ann Atkins, a former Detroit journalist who writes books full time, made a list headlined, "Looking for some erotic influence? Newer releases can be found here" by Joyce Lamb in USA Today on Friday. "Book One in the Husbands, Incorporated Trilogy. Beautiful men. Mind-blowing pleasure. And perfect marriages that last only one year. Husbands, Inc. offers all this and more — for a price. . . ." Atkins told Journal-isms by email, "Of course one of the main characters is a reporter with a vengeance!"

  • A debut novel by Mark Lowery, who has reported and edited for Newsday, the Detroit Free Press and the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, is available for free download for two weeks in ebook form. "He PromisD Nvr 2 LeaV Me" tells the story of Taran Johnson, a writer whose serene and opulent New York ifestyle is derailed when he tries to honor a pledge made years earlier. Lowery is the father of Wesley Lowery, who recently joined the Washington Post.

  • On Friday, Frost Illustrated in Fort Wayne, Ind., became the first member of the black press to run a corrective to a February story from the National Newspaper Publishers Association that contained misstatements about this column's reporting of the NNPA's expenses-paid trip to Morocco.

  • "Josh Eure, who was scheduled to start Monday as news director for Gannett operated station WHAS will not be coming to the Louisville ABC affiliate after all," Kevin Eck reported Friday for TVSpy. Eck also wrote, " 'All of the charges brought against me were dismissed by the State of Arizona due to "No reasonable likelihood of conviction," End of story,' wrote Eure. 'Since the State itself has opted not to pursue its opportunity to "prove me guilty" it is unconscionable that I should stand accused by a gossip media website.' . . ." Eure responded to reports of his legal troubles in Phoenix, where he will stay at KPNX as assistant news director. 

  • "Philadelphia Magazine got its butt kicked last March after publishing the infamous cover story Being White in Philly: Whites, race, class, and the things that never get said," Jenice Armstrong wrote Monday in the Philadelphia Daily News. Armstrong also wrote, "When 'Being White' was published, Adrienne Simpson was the magazine's sole black full-time employee. As one of the magazine's event planners, Simpson easily could have sidestepped the fracas. Instead, she wrote a scathing letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer, slamming her employer. Last month, Simpson was honored for her bravery when she was named a Hometown Champion in an online contest cosponsored by Radio One, TV One and the NAACP. Her prize? An all-expenses-paid trip for two to the 45th NAACP Image Awards last month in Pasadena, Calif. . . ."

  • The Washington, D.C. chapter presidents of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists are planning a joint job fair on Saturday, April 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in downtown Washington. For $10, job seekers can attend the job fair, meet with hiring managers and network with other journalists.

  • "Azteca América announced today that Manuel Abud has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately," Veronica Villafañe reported Monday for her Media Moves site. "He’ll report directly to Gustavo Guzmán, Senior ranking member of the Executive Committee of TV Azteca, S.A.B. de C.V., and one of the company’s founders." She also wrote, "In his role, Abud will lead the Azteca América broadcast network in the US and its newly created Station Group, managing over 25 local stations. . . ."

  • This past weekend, two jailed award-winning Ethiopian journalists, Eskinder Nega and Woubshet Taye, reached sad milestones. It was Nega's 900th day serving an 18-year prison sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. It was Taye's 36th birthday, his third spent imprisoned. He remains ill and is denied medical care.

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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 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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