Bryan Monroe Resigns at Ebony and Jet
Friday, April 24, 2009
CEO Says Editor Helped "Re-Energize" Her Brands
Bryan Monroe, who came to Johnson Publishing Co. as its first top editorial leader from the mainstream media, has resigned, Chairman and CEO Linda Johnson Rice announced on Friday.
It was the second major personnel announcement this week as the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines undergoes a reorganization that it hopes will steer it out of its financial troubles.
Mira Lowe, a former Newsday editor who Monroe brought to the company, was appointed editor of Jet magazine this week.
The company's Web site lists these job openings: senior vice president, publishing; editor in chief for Ebony and Ebony managing editor.
Rice, daughter of John H. Johnson, the late founder of what has become the nation's largest black-owned publishing company, issued this statement:
"On behalf of the entire staff, we wish Bryan continued success as he moves on in his career He was an integral part of shaping the continuing evolution of Ebony and Jet magazines and engaging a wider audience with EbonyJet.com, and I appreciate his many contributions.
"For nearly three years, Bryan has been a great asset in working to re-energize our iconic brands. He was also instrumental in forming an outstanding team of writers, editors and photojournalists in covering a host of award-winning articles as well as the inauguration of President Barack Obama, which reached the highest sales in the history of Ebony.
"It is for those reasons that I regrettably accepted his voluntary resignation effective today."
Monroe, 43, did not respond to requests for comment.
He was named editorial director of both Ebony and Jet, a new position, in July 2006, recruited to the company by Rice. Monroe was then president of the National Association of Black Journalists and joined Johnson a week after Knight Ridder Inc., the nation's second-largest newspaper chain, went out of business. Monroe was assistant vice president for news for the defunct company.
His appointment was unprecedented in that Jet and Ebony, the nation's largest black-oriented magazine, traditionally had separate editors and they came from inside the company.
Monroe quickly brought in outside talent, such as Sylvester Monroe, longtime Time magazine correspondent, Eric Easter, formerly of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, Terry Glover, managing editor of Savoy magazine, Harriette Cole, syndicated columnist and author, photo director Dudley Brooks of the Baltimore Sun and Lowe.
They made the publications more time-sensitive and steered them through the campaign and election of Obama, who gave Ebony and Jet his first post-election interview, though it was quickly overshadowed by one with CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" the next day. The publications also spent some time on the campaign plane.
Monroe himself interviewed Obama, as he did Michael Jackson for a lavish issue celebrating the 25th anniversary of Jackson's "Thriller" album. He also shared with readers his experience undergoing gastric bypass surgery. He went from 441 pounds to 282, he wrote in the November 2007 issue.
However, some staffers said Monroe spent too much money, that there was friction between the existing staff and Monroe and that the recession compounded financial issues. He also came from a newspaper, rather than magazine background.
One former staffer, Wil LaVeist, channeled his anger at his firing by Monroe and Rice into a self-published book, "Fired Up: How to Win When You Lose Your Job."
Sylvester Monroe, the onetime Time magazine correspondent who joined Ebony magazine three years ago as a senior editor, left the publication last week in frustration that the financial turmoil in the industry had taken such a toll at Ebony. "I was so miserable it was hard to come to work," he said.
"We're asking people to write for exposure because we can't pay them, which I think is wrong," he told Journal-isms. The nation is witnessing "the biggest story in black America since the Emancipation Proclamation and we're watching it pass by," he told Journal-isms, referring, of course, to the Obama presidency.
Cole, who was the subject of speculation for a top editorial post, told Journal-isms on Friday, "I am very happy as the creative director of Ebony, as I have been for the past 2 years."
Monroe's departure raised such questions as who would put out the next issue of Ebony and who Lowe, as Jet editor, would report to.
Spokeswoman Wendy E. Parks would say only, "We have an extremely talented staff who will continue to ensure we deliver a quality product to our valued readers."
Also on Friday, Johnson announced that Tanya M. Hines, former INROADS Inc. vice president of national sales, has been appointed vice president of integrated sales and marketing for Ebony and Jet, and Nijole S. Yutkowitz, who has served in a variety of key sales and advertising roles at the publications, "has most recently been appointed sales director.
"In this newly created role, Hines will lead the development and execution of a world-class integrated national marketing and sales strategy to create key client solutions and support the company's revenue growth."
- Richard Prince with Keith Murphy, XM Satellite Radio: The Urban Journal (segment 4)
A prisoner is tied around a pickax for punishment in a Georgia labor camp. (Credit: John L. Spivak in the 1932 book "Georgia Nigger," reprinted in "Slavery by Another Name.")
Pulitzer Winner on "Re-Enslavement" Going to PBS
The Atlanta journalist who won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction books for ‚ÄúSlavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II" says he is turning the book into a television documentary.
"We‚Äôve just begun work on a PBS documentary (based on the book). It should be completed in about a year and a half," Douglas A. Blackmon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.
Blackmon is the Wall Street Journal's Atlanta bureau chief and a former reporter for the Atlanta paper.
"Blackmon's masterpiece was a long time coming," as journalist Ken Edelstein, author of the blog Atlantaunsheltered, explained. "In 2001, the Atlanta journalist wrote a lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal on U.S. Steel profiting from conscripted black laborers in Alabama coal mines during the early 1900s. I happened to pick up the Journal that day, because Blackmon‚Äôs familiar byline caught my eye.
"Like other readers, I was gripped by the story. Blackmon had combed deeply enough through Alabama court records and ancient corporate documents to build a tale of widespread cruelty and death, corruption, and social amnesia. He told that tale in a patient, neutral voice, confident that the unembellished truth would be enough to produce a natural outrage.
"Shortly afterward, Blackmon started talking about a book that would expand on the same general subject. But he had a day job as deputy Atlanta bureau chief for the Journal, and he was promoted to bureau chief during the time he supposedly was working on this side project. As the years passed, many who knew him (at least those, like me, who would run into him casually) wondered when ‚Äî even whether ‚Äî the book would be finished.
". . . It turns out that Blackmon somehow found the time to plug away on his research in county courthouses, online databases and corporate libraries, as well as by interviewing people who were old enough to recount bits and pieces of a history that had never truly been recorded."
In 2000, the National Association of Black Journalists recognized Blackmon‚Äôs stories revealing the secret role of J.P. Morgan & Co. during the 1960s in funneling funds between a wealthy northern white supremacist and segregationists fighting the Civil Rights Movement in the South.
"I hope that the real relevance of the book is to advance the idea that if we really want to understand America in terms of race, we have to be much more honest about the terrible things that were happening in the early 20th century," Blackmon said in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"There are some people out there who are saying now that we have a black president, we don‚Äôt need to argue over the grievances of the past again and again. I don't think that argument holds much water. Maybe the election of a black president signals we‚Äôre in a time now that people are capable of talking about the past."
- Hunter Walker, MediaBistro.com: Sig Gissler On Pulitzers, Online Journalism: Prizes No Solution To 'All the Problems Facing the Newspaper Industry'
- St. Louis American: American syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson wins Pulitzer
- Paula J. Giddings receives Los Angeles Times Book Award for Ida B. Wells-Barnett biography
President Obama, center, signed a landmark service bill Tuesday and issued a nationwide call for citizens to deliver change in their own communities. Journalists are readying assessments of his first 100 days in office. (Credit: Samantha Appleton/White House)
In Survey, More Choose Fox as Too Critical of Obama
"When Americans are asked to assess television news coverage of Barack Obama, Fox News Channel stands out from other networks for being too critical of the president. Nearly three-in-ten (29%) select Fox when asked which of six broadcast and cable news networks have been too critical of the new Democratic president, a far greater share than any other network," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported on Wednesday.
"In contrast, no one TV network is singled out for being too easy on Obama. Each of five networks (CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC and CBS) was named by about one in six respondents in this regard. Again, the Fox News Network stands apart ‚Äî just 5% named Fox as being too easy on the president.
"The latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted April 17-20 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, finds a substantial partisan divide in views of how TV news networks cover Obama."
Meanwhile, Obama has asked the major broadcast networks for up to an hour of prime time Wednesday for a news conference covering his first 100 days in office, TelevisionWeek reported. The conference would take place during the May sweeps, disrupting some "important" network programming, TVWeek said.
Columnists debated Obama's stance on torture and whether the United States should have attended the international conference on racism, held in Geneva, Switzerland. Journalists also began preparing stories on Obama's first 100 days in the presidency.
- Keith Boykin, thedailyvoice.com: Obama's first 100 days
- Hazel Trice Edney, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Obama's First 100 Days
- Roger Hedgecock, Human Events: The Obama attack on Talk Radio is Real ‚Äî Call to Action
- Roberto Lovato, New America Media: Obama Boycott of U.N. Racism Conference Disappoints African Diaspora
- Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: 4 Deeply Dismayed about Durban II
- Ruben Navarrette, San Diego Union Tribune: Obama's tortured logic
- Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Tortured explanations for sanctioned sadism
- Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Where 'Those Methods' Lead
- David Squires, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.: Obama's pass on racism meeting raises questions
- Barry Sussman, Nieman Watchdog: Torture Record and the Press
- Ron Walters, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Obama Should Have Attended U.N. Racism Conference
- DeWayne Wickham blog: What should Obama do about CIA use of torture? ¬†
Profits Still Elusive With Online Start-Ups
"Laid-off newspaper reporters are increasingly finding refuge on the Internet, but so far, their online startup efforts are being met with mixed results: Today, the trio of investors who teamed up with 30 journalists from the folded Rocky Mountain News to launch In Denver Times last month announced that they're backing out of the venture," Hunter Walker reported Thursday for Mediabistro.com.
"Initially, the investors hoped the site would get 50,000 readers to pay subscription fees ranging from $4.99-$6.99 a month. According to Kevin Preblud, a spokesman for the investors, In Denver Times has only managed to sign up approximately 3,000 subscribers. An article on the site says that "certain members of the INDT newsroom group, led by co-founder Steve Foster and business writer David Milstead" currently seek new backers.
"Earlier this month, Kery Murakami, a former 20-year veteran of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, launched SeattlePostGlobe.org with several other former SPI staffers who lost their jobs when the paper went online-only in March. Currently, the SeattlePostGlobe.org team is working for free and the future of the site remains in doubt.
". . . Last fall, Diane Lindquist, a journalist who took a buyout from the San Diego Union-Tribune in January of 2007, launched Mexbiznews.com. Lindquist began the site, devoted to Mexican business news, with funds from her buyout package. Mexbiznews.com actively seeks sponsors and ads, but according to Entrepreneur.com's Dennis Romero, who interviewed [Liundquist] earlier this year, 'advertising has so far been scarce.'"
Patrick Farrell of the Miami Herald won an Overseas Press Award for his photos from Haiti, after winning the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography earlier in the week. The photo shows the body of Tamasha Jean, 5, being loaded onto a pickup truck along with bodies of other children who died in the floods caused by Hurricane Ike.
Global Themes Bring Honors at Overseas Press Awards
"The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Miami Herald were among newspaper winners in the Overseas Press Club awards Wednesday night," Joe Strupp reported in Editor & Publisher. "In all, six of the 20 top awards went to newspapers."
"Eleven of the winners are striking for the globalization of their themes," the Press Club said. "We follow the trail of human traffickers and their victims from villages in Moldova to the Gulf haven of Dubai. One winner pursues China‚Äôs sweeping and controversial investment across Africa. We learn the multiple dimensions of the global food crisis, starting with the perspective of an Ethiopian farmer who lost his family to famine.
"The searing stories of ordinary people and young soldiers fill Dexter Filkins‚Äô epic book on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are haunted by the howl of the young girl undergoing the ritual of female circumcision in Indonesia, and can almost read the thoughts of the 7-year-old boy huddled near his destroyed home in floodravaged Haiti."
N.Y. Times Foundation Suspends Gift Program
"The New York Times Company Foundation announced on Thursday that it was suspending grant-making and the company‚Äôs matching gift program," Stephanie Strom reported Thursday in the Times.
‚ÄúThe economy and the secular changes in our industry are causing everyone to rigorously manage costs, and unfortunately, this is a difficult but necessary step,‚Äù said Michael Golden, vice chairman of the company and a board member of the foundation.
"The announcement came two days after the company said it had lost $74.5 million in the first quarter of 2009.
"Together with its subsidiary, the Boston Globe Foundation, the Times Company Foundation made roughly $7 million in grants last year to programs dedicated to journalism, education, culture, the environment and public service.
"The Times College Scholarship program will continue, though in a smaller format, and all students currently in the program as well as those in the Globe Scholars program will continue as normal.
"The Times Company Foundation used its grants to try to attract much larger public financing for various initiatives.
"A fund it created with $1 million to pay for medical treatment for needy families raised an additional $5 million from other donors and has provided treatment to date for some 1,200 families, while a pilot program to use art to enhance learning, currently operating in two New York City schools, attracted $937,000 from the federal Department of Education."
In "American Violet," 24-year-old Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie), right, shown with Alfre Woodard, who plays her mother, risks everything in a battle with "the system."¬†
Two Movies Inspired by Journalism Hit the Big Screen
Journalism inspired two more movies that hit theaters in the last week.
In 2002, filmmaker Bill Haney was driving home when he heard a piece from Hearne, Texas, by National Public Radio's Wade Goodwyn that inspired the film "American Violet," Goodwyn recalled on NPR's "Tell Me More" on Monday.
"The story in Hearne followed upon the story in Tulia which I had covered," Haney told host Michel Martin. "I had seen a different story, covered a different story about 46 people, most of them black, who had been arrested and charged with selling crack cocaine on the word of one gypsy undercover sheriff's deputy who turned out to be lying. And so when a second story like this came up I went to investigate.
Many of those arrested pleaded guilty. "They had public defenders who were urging them to do this, who were saying the cases against them were strong. They were being offered probation, if they would plead guilty, I mean, the District Attorney just wanted the numbers. He didn't want long prison terms, but he would charge them with the possibility they could get 40 years in prison if they went to trial.
One of the film's heroines, Regina Kelly, was among those who decided to fight, as was the son of a black Hearne city councilman.
"Eventually the ACLU sued the district attorney, the federal drug task force. And the part of the settlement took years, five years I believe. But a part of the settlement of that suit was that those who were convicted were released and their convictions were wiped out," Goodwyn said.
"These days, as the newspaper industry continues to tank, Hollywood, after years of a love ('All the President‚Äôs Men') and hate ('Absence of Malice') relationship with the press, is serving up a new, romantic hero: the print journalist.
"'The Soloist‚Äô is a story about the struggles of a talented but homeless cellist played admirably by Jamie Foxx. But it is Robert Downey Jr. who steals the show as loner journalist Steve Lopez."
Lopez, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote columns about the relationship, and eventually, a book.
"The Soloist is also meditation on the power of the press at the same time that the very phrase‚Äîthe press‚Äîis fading faster than it takes a blogger to post an entry on a MacBook Air," Wlitz wrote.
In Lopez's own paper, reviewer Kenneth Turan was less than enthused.
"By consistently and relentlessly overplaying everything, by settling for standard easy emotions when singular and heartfelt was called for, by pushing forward when they should have pulled back, director Joe Wright and screenwriter Susannah Grant have made the story mean less, not more. Instead of enhancing 'The Soloist's' appeal, they have come close to eliminating it," Turan wrote.
Lopez, by the way, is not Hispanic. Los Angeles magazine once explained, "His grandparents on his father's side were Spanish, those on his mother's Italian, and today Lopez identifies himself as 'Mediterranean mud.' Writing in a town with a majority Latino population, a columnist named Lopez attracts all kinds of assumptions. 'A lot of the mail at first was from people saying it's good to see another Hispanic columnist,' he says. 'Then there was e-mail from Latin readers saying, "You're letting us down."'"
- Betty Winston Bay?©, Louisville (Ky,) Courier-Journal: Disney's first African-American princess
- Sergio Mims, ebonyjet.com: The Soloist
- James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: 'American Violet' tells story of ill-fated Hearne drug raids
- Lynne K. Varner, Seattle Times: Frost/Nixon: Keep the media to kick around
- "The American journalist convicted of spying in Iran has gone on a hunger strike to protest her imprisonment, her father said Saturday. Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen, was convicted of spying for the United States and sentenced to eight years in prison after a swift, closed door trial earlier this month," Ali Akbar Dareini reported for the Associated Press. "She went on a hunger strike Tuesday to protest her imprisonment. Today is the fifth day," Reza Saberi told the AP. "She will remain on hunger strike until she is freed."
- North Korea has concluded an investigation of detained American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, and they will stand trial, according to the nation's state-run news service, KCNA, CNN reported on Friday. "The organ formally decided to refer them to a trial on the basis of the confirmed crimes committed by them. Ling and Lee were taken into custody March 17 along the China-North Korea border. They are reporters for the San Francisco, California-based media outlet Current TV." The North said last month it would indict them on charges of unspecified "hostile acts."
- "A Pakistani immigrant described by prosecutors as 'Hezbollah's man in New York City' was sentenced Thursday to nearly six years in prison for airing the militant group's television station," Larry Neumeister reported Thursday for the Associated Press. "U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman handed down a sentence of five years and nine months to Javed Iqbal, who had pleaded guilty in December to providing aid to a terrorist organization."
- "The FCC has named the new members of its Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age, which will hold a meeting May 7," John Eggerton reported Wednesday in Broadcasting & Cable. They include Henry Rivera of Emma Bowen Foundation for Minority Interests in Media, chair; Debra Lee of Black Entertainment Television; David Honig, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council; Robert Mendez, ABC Television Network; Jake Oliver, Afro-American Newspapers and James Winston of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.
- "After Katrina left his spacious home in eastern New Orleans a stinking shambles, TV news anchor Norman Robinson and his wife lived for two years in a 700-square-foot River Ridge apartment where, he testified in federal court Wednesday, he got drunk every night to cope with post-hurricane trauma," Susan Finch reported Thursday in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "I ended up going to a psychologist because I wanted to commit suicide, and I ended up in a drunken stupor most of the time," Robinson said.
- Ed Castleberry, 81, a pioneering African American radio disc jockey and newscaster, died in New York in January of respiratory failure, Bruce E. Williams, a friend and co-worker at National Black Network, told Journal-isms this week. "In 1972, Castleberry became one of the first news anchors at Mutual Black Network when it went on the air (which later became Sheridan Broadcast Network). At National Black Network (now American Urban Radio Network) nationwide audiences tuned in to hear him as a news anchor and also as a popular entertainment editor, where he interviewed some of the biggest names in show business including James Brown, [Isaac] Hayes, Sammy Davis Jr., Barry White, and Sidney Poitier, just to name a few. Until retiring in the 1990‚Äôs, Castleberry had a career in radio that spanned over 40 years." Though Castleberry died in January, Williams said there was a delay in notification first to the family and then to the media.
- "National Public Radio said yesterday it will lay off 13 employees and furlough all of its employees for five days over the next five months in the latest round of belt-tightening by the Washington-based organization," Paul Farhi reported Friday in the Washington Post.
- In New York, "WNBC/Ch. 4 has quietly dropped the use of the term 'content center' when talking about what is traditionally a newsroom," Richard Huff reported Wednesday in the New York Daily News. "Since the station launched its new $15 million newsroom earlier this year, station general manager Tom O'Brien, news vice president Vickie Burns and all on-air talent have referred to the setup as the 'content center.'"
- "Three police officers accused of using racial slurs ‚Äî two while breaking up a fight at a high school and another while on a ride-along with a Temple journalism student ‚Äî were among five city police officers suspended Thursday with the intent to dismiss," Solomon D. Leach reported for the Philadelphia Metro newspaper. Officer William Thrasher was quoted by Temple University student journalist Shannon McDonald describing his disgust for black people in the district where he works, likening them to animals and calling their problems 'typical n---- s---,' or 'TNS' during a ride-along Jan. 30.
- A story Thursday on WHAM-TV in Rochester, N.Y., about a Popeye's fried chicken franchise running out of chicken caused concern among some viewers, as well as the reporter herself, as all of the customers shown were black. Reporter Rachel Barnhart wrote, "What concerned me about the story was the stereotype of black people liking fried chicken. Everyone in our story was black. We interviewed a dozen people. Even though the suburban Penfield location also ran out of chicken, and even though a whole lot of white people also like fried chicken, I was worried some viewers would think we were doing the story because of the stereotype. I was worried we were reinforcing or making fun of the stereotype."
- "Roughly three weeks ago, the Web site of Sports Illustrated reported that NFL draft prospect B.J. Raji had tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine. The story was widely quoted but it also drew criticism, especially after Raji‚Äôs agent disputed the tale. Days later, SI scrubbed the story off its site," Craig Silverman reported on his Regret the Error site. "Posting a correction was obviously the right thing to do, but questions remain about why SI got this story wrong and why it took so long to correct its mistake."
- In Cincinnati, "The Bernard Watson era has quietly ended at WCPO-TV," John Kiesewetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on Thursday. "Watson's last day at the station was Friday, 18 months after his debut co-hosting "Good Morning Tri-State" with Kathrine Nero. But for nearly the past year (last June), he has been just a supporting cast member on Ch 9's morning news, which was rebuilt around Nero. He was one of three African-American anchors (along with Clyde Gray and Jenell Walton) at the station."
- U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., led a group of six U.S. senators in calling for the immediate release of an editor and reporter of Gambia's Daily Observer newspaper, "Chief" Ebrima Manneh, Tom Rhodes reported for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Colleagues at the newspaper say they witnessed two plainclothes Gambian National Intelligence Agency officers whisk Manneh . . . away in July 2006. He has not been seen since despite repeated calls to the government to disclose his whereabouts." Joining Durbin in his letter were Sens. Russ Feingold, Robert Casey, Patty Murray, Joe Lieberman and Ted Kennedy.
- In Zimbabwe, freelance journalist Shadreck Manyere and officials of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change were finally released on bail Friday, after being held in police custody since December, Violet Gonda reported Monday for London-based SW Radio Africa.
- "Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the physical safety of journalists and website editors who have been arrested in the past few months in Tibet and neighbouring Tibetan regions. The latest to be arrested is Dokru Tsuilrim, a monk who edited the magazine Khawai Tsesok (Soul of the Snow)," the press freedom group said on Friday. [Updated April 25.]
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. 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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