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Cameraman Swears Off N-Word

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Black Photog Gives Up Term in Light of Suspension

A Chicago news cameraman who faces five days' suspension without pay for using the "N" word as he and another black photographer were vying for a shot says the word will never pass through his lips again.



But Ken Bedford of WLS-TV, the ABC owned-and-operated station in the nation's No. 3 market, told Journal-isms on Friday that he wants it understood that his use of the word was not racial. He says it was an expression of "male bravado" in an extremely competitive situation and that black people use the word in "dual ways."

However, Bedford said he understands the station's position that "it is politically incorrect," said he was "100 percent wrong" and that he has apologized to the other photographer, Alan Maniscalco of rival WBBM-TV, the CBS owned-and-operated station.

According to Bedford, the incident took place about Sept. 3 when a throng of photographers were vying for position in Daley Plaza, a public square in downtown Chicago. "In our business, it's very competitive to get a shot," Bedford said. "You can have 15 guys . . . all trying to jostle for position. He got too close. His camera hit me on my ear, on the side of the head. I asked him not to hit me again and he did. He cursed me and I called him a dash-dash N-word.

"He turned the camera around and his microphone picked up my last comment." Maniscalco took the tape to his superiors, who in turn called WLS, Bedford said.

"We don't care about your pushing and shoving, what we care about is the N-word," Bedford said his station told him.

In 2004, the same station had slapped white reporter Sarah Schulte with a two-month suspension without pay after she was overheard on an open microphone complaining about the difficulty of firing incompetent employees who happen to be minorities.

Maniscalco did not respond to a request by Journal-isms for comment. WLS General Manager Emily Barr said, "This is a personnel matter" and would have no comment. Elizabeth Abrams, a spokeswoman for WBBM, said the same thing.

However, Robert Feder of the Chicago Sun-Times reported the five-day suspension, which Bedford said would be carried out at the end of this month, in a three-paragraph item in his Oct. 5 column. The same day, commentator Roland S. Martin discussed the incident on his WVON-AM talk show. He told Journal-isms he did "a 40-minute segment and asked the audience whether he should have been suspended, and should there be one standard for all employees, or was this different because it involved two African Americans. My position was one standard applies." For the most part, the audience agreed, Martin said.

One reason Bedford said he is giving up the word is that he needs a good reputation in order to continue his annual breast-cancer awareness campaign, conducted in memory of his late wife, Anaia Bedford, a former model who became a video producer. He said the effort, now in its fourth year, raised $80,000 last month. Through a dance and a concert, this year featuring the Whispers singing group, Bedford said he uses the entertainment to persuade women to undergo free health checkups. He also has a float in the city's famous Bud Billiken Day parade.

He said his is the only such campaign conducted in the nation by an African American.

Bedford, who started in the news business in 1968, says he can sense a change in tolerance for use of the N-word among blacks.

"I'm being punished by my station because they interpret it as a racial epithet," he said. "It should not be used because in society it is now not accepted, whether you mean it in an endearing way or in any other way. I have to take that position and put this thing behind me."

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Detroit Buyouts to Cut 22 Newsroom Jobs

"The Detroit Media Partnership, which runs the business operations of the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, announced today it will offer buyout packages as part of an effort to cut 110 positions, or about 5% of the overall staff," Joe Guy Collier reported Friday in the Detroit Free Press.

"The buyouts are being offered to employees who are 50 or older with at least 10 years of credited service as of Oct. 12.

"Employees who receive the buyouts will be provided two weeks' severance for every year of service for up to one year of pay. Health benefits will remain intact during the severance period.

"The need for staff cuts was driven by two major factors, said Susie Ellwood, executive vice president and general manager for the Detroit Media Partnership.

"The overall newspaper industry has suffered circulation and advertising declines, Ellwood said. The Michigan economy, hurt by large losses in manufacturing, also has lagged [behind] the rest of the United States.

"The targeted reductions for newsroom employees is 22 — 16 for the Free Press and six at the News, she said.

"The cuts should not affect news coverage, Ellwood said. 'Something we're not going to change is our commitment to providing the right amount of coverage,' she said."

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Uproar Over L.A. Melee Could Benefit Reporters

In a scathing self-critique, the Los Angeles Police Department this week attributed a May 1 MacArthur Park melee involving officers, immigration protesters and journalists to a series of fateful decisions by police commanders that escalated hostilities and resulted in a widespread breakdown in discipline and behavior by officers, Richard Winton and Duke Helfand reported Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times.




Five to nine reporters were beaten, Rick Terrell, executive director of the Radio-Television News Association of Southern California, told Journal-isms.

As a result of the uproar, he said the incident may result in a freedom of information agreement with the LAPD and a memorandum of understanding "that will say what is expected of the police and of the media . . . at these large public events."

Efforts on a freedom of information agreement had been stalled, but working groups were created after a July 18 meeting with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William J. Bratton, Terrell said.

Tuesday's findings, "contained in a long-awaited report by top police officials, come as Police Chief William J. Bratton announced that at least 26 officers participating in the incident are under internal investigation and could face discipline for using excessive force," the Times story said.

"The report is the latest effort by Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to quell widespread outcry over the incident, in which TV news footage showed officers swinging batons and firing less-than-lethal rounds at journalists as well as immigration rights protesters gathered at the park for an afternoon rally.

"The melee left 246 journalists and protesters as well as 18 officers with injuries, and more than 250 legal claims have been filed against the city. Los Angeles County prosecutors and the FBI are continuing to investigate the case."

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Cosby, Poussaint on "Meet the Press" for Full Hour

NBC's "Meet the Press" will devote its full hour on Sunday to entertainer and activist Bill Cosby and Harvard Medical School professor Alvin Poussaint as they discuss their new book, "Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors," the network announced.

"They will join us in studio to discuss the alarming statistics of 'black on black' violence and high school drop out rates, as well as the growing need for parental responsibility. Cosby and Poussaint have spent the last three years listening and talking about these issues in what they call 'community call-outs' across the nation."

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Bryan Monroe Explains 159-Pound Weight Loss




Bryan Monroe, editorial director of Ebony and Jet magazines and president of the National Association of Black Journalists from 2005 until August, explains in the November issue of Ebony how he went from 449 pounds to 282 pounds through gastric bypass surgery.

"As a dangerously overweight Black man hitting 40, I knew that my life expectancy was significantly shorter than if I was of normal weight and disease-free. One of my doctors mused, 'Bryan, how many obese old people do you see?'" he wrote. "Not many. If I lived to see 60, he told me, it would be a surprise."

Monroe, who was attending a conference of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in April 2004, found himself lying in an intensive-care suite at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, being treated for diabetic ketoacidosis— "what I learned was triggered by extremely elevated blood-glucose levels, a sure sign of the onset of Type 2 diabetes."

Two years after that, on July 17, 2006, he underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. "I was only in the hospital for a day and a half, and two weeks later, I was on an airplane ready to start my new job in Chicago.

"I wanted something that would stick," Monroe, 42, wrote. "And, after about a year and a half and losing nearly 150 pounds so far, I think it is indeed sticking. By the way, I have not had to take any medicine for diabetes or other past ailments since I walked out the door of the hospital a year ago. They tell me that I am technically no longer a diabetic.

"I didn't really get the impact the surgery had on my everyday life until a few months later. I was on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Washington, D.C. Normally, I carried one of those airplane seat-belt extenders discreetly in my carry-on bag, since I had long since exceeded the limits of a standard, 'normal' seat belt.

"On this flight, I took my customary window seat and went to reach for my extender. Just for kicks, I decided to try to fasten the seat belt and, to my surprise, not only did it click, but I had some slack left over. As I exited that flight two hours later, it brought me joy to toss that extender in the first trash can I could find. I would never need it again!"

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Short Takes



  • University's alumni magazine and director of university communications at Howard, died Friday at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, his wife, Kafayat Husband, confirmed. He had pulmonary hypertension. Husband was a graduate of Howard and, in 2001, of the Medill School of Journalism graduate magazine program at Northwestern University. He had worked at the old BET Weekend, Emerge, Code and YSB magazines, his colleague Yanick Rice Lamb said. In lieu of flowers, Husband's wife requests donations to a trust fund for the Husbands' infant daughter, Asher, at SunTrust Bank, or a magazine journalism scholarship in his name at the Department of Journalism at Howard.
  • "The Black AIDS Institute donated $10,000 to the National Newspaper Publishers Association to facilitate the publication of 25 opinion editorials written by . . . black religious, civic and community leaders," the institute announced on Sept. 26. "The Black AIDS Institute is partnering with us as one of dozens of Black organizations under the Center for Disease Control's 'Escalated Response to HIV/AIDS' in Black America," Hazel Trice Edney, editor-in-chief of the NNPA, told Journal-isms. "Just like we produced and published more than 35 anti-smoking stories with an American Legacy Foundation grant to the NNPA Foundation, all foundational monies include the general funding for staff and production at the News Service, including the managing, production and editing of op-eds."
  • The National Association of Hispanic Journalists called for an independent task force to examine and shape policies to increase minority broadcast ownership. It urged the Federal Communications Commission to refrain from issuing new broadcast ownership rules until the concerns about declining minority broadcast ownership are addressed.
  • The Al Dia Foundation, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization, announced the Felix Varela National Journalism Award for Spanish-language journalism, which will bestow cash awards of $20,000, which it called the largest cash prize in U.S. Hispanic journalism. "The award honors an American intellectual of Hispanic origin who 183 years ago published in Philadelphia a Spanish-language newspaper, one of the first in the history of the nation," it said.
  • Dawn Garcia, deputy director of the John S. Knight Fellowships for Professional Journalists, was elected president of the Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS), a national organization of women journalists, and will serve as the organization's first two-year president, JAWS announced on Tuesday. "Declines in women and people of color in America's daily newsrooms should alarm anyone who values diverse voices and leadership," Garcia said. Cheryl Imelda Hampton, director, news staffing and administration at National Public Radio, was among those elected to the board.



  • "ABC is the only major broadcast network that is using the staff of its evening newscast to produce a separate and distinct daily program for a Web audience," Brian Stelter reported Thursday in the New York Times. "Jason Samuels, who, as senior producer on charge of digital content, oversees the Web presence of both the broadcast and the Webcast . . . said he has tried to push correspondents and producers to escape the package formula that dominates television news."
  • "Nothing has changed in the situation of Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi national, since his arrest 18 months ago, Reporters Without Borders said today. He is still held at Camp Cropper, near Baghdad airport, and he is still waiting to be brought before a judge. The US authorities, who claim he represents 'a security threat,' have never said when this might happen," the organization said on Friday. "Reporters Without Borders wrote to US defence secretary Robert Gates on 12 April requesting his release, but never got a reply."
  • "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) office confirmed that there will be a floor vote next Tuesday, Oct. 16, on a federal shield law, H.R. 2102, that would protect journalists and their sources from overzealous federal prosecutors," John Eggerton reported Friday in Broadcasting & Cable.
  • "Media giant NBC Universal got more in touch with its feminine side yesterday with the $925 million acquisition of Oxygen Media, the cable television company founded by Oprah Winfrey," Frank Ahrens reported Wednesday in the Washington Post. "NBC Universal said it will partially pay for the acquisition by putting two of its Telemundo television stations, one in Los Angeles and the other in Puerto Rico, up for sale."
  • "NBC News has named Mara Schiavocampo as a digital journalist for 'NBC



  • Nightly News with Brian Williams,' effective immediately it was announced today," the network said on Tuesday. "Schiavocampo will report primarily for "In 2007, Schiavocampo was named as the emerging journalist of the year by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), and also this year, received the Society of Environmental Journalists honorable mention for outstanding television reporting."
  • Mary Kim Titla, a former television news anchor in Phoenix, is running in the Democratic primary for the District 1 Congressional seat in Arizona, Native Youth magazine reported.
  • Monte I. Trammer was named president and publisher of the Gannett Co.'s Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal on Monday, that newspaper reported. Trammer is to continue as publisher of the Star-Gazette in Elmira, N.Y., another Gannett paper.
  • In Las Vegas, former CNN Headline News anchor Sophia Choi will join co-anchor Kendall Tenney on KVBC-TV's weekday 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts, it was announced Wednesday, Norm Clarke reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Choi formerly co-hosted the CBS 2 Morning Show at KCBS in Los Angeles.
  • Keith Reed, a business writer at the Boston Globe, is leaving to become a business enterprise reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, covering Procter & Gamble and The Banks, Cincinnati's largest downtown development project.
  • Jerome Solomon, who has been the Houston Chronicle's online sports columnist and features reporter, has been promoted to columnist at the paper.
  • Kevin B. Blackistone, a former Dallas Morning News sports columnist, has added a weekly column for AOL Sports to his portfolio.
  • Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., talks with host Cathy Hughes about a wide range of issues important to African Americans in a special episode of "TV One on One" on the TV One cable network on Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern time, the network announced.



  • Mae Cheng, a former president of Unity: Journalists of Color and the Asian American Journalists Association, has been promoted to executive editor at AM New York, a free Newsday publication. She was regional editor at the Long Island newspaper.
  • The Web site has been launched as a service for reporters who cover the American Muslim community, the South Asian Journalists Association announced on Wednesday.
  • "Leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Birmingham chapter rescinded Thursday their call for The Birmingham News to fire its editorial cartoonist," the Alabama newspaper reported on Friday.
  • At the New York Times, Hassan Fattah, who has been based in Dubai, is resigning to becoming managing editor of a new English-language pan-Arab daily, and Ed Wong has left Iraq to begin Chinese training in preparation for a move to Beijing this spring, according to a Times memo published by Michael Calderone in the New York Observer.
  • Michael McCarter, currently picture editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution but who was recently selected to be the new director of photography at the Cincinnati Enquirer, was among those to be inducted Friday into the Hall of Fame at the University of Southern Mississippi School of Mass Communication and Journalism.
  • An indigenous media conference in Alta, Norway, which ended Sunday, brought together journalists from the Nordic countries and other European nations, North America, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, according to Marty Logan, reporting for Inter-Press Service. Ronnie Washines from Yakama Nation Multimedia Services in Washington state was among them.
  • If only for a week, Rick Sanchez, the energetic, 49-year-old Cuban immigrant, "would go head-to-head against Fox's fed-up conservative, Bill O'Reilly, and MSNBC's liberal sophisticate, Keith Olbermann," Zachary Roth wrote Tuesday in a profile of CNN's Sanchez in the New York Observer. The week has been extended and extended, and now, "in the strangely ad hoc way that most things in this business seem to happen, he's getting the biggest audition of his career."
  • "Black Entertainment Television CEO Debra Lee is in the midst of unveiling the network's most ambitious original programming lineup in the network's 27-year history," R. Thomas Umstead wrote Monday in a lengthy piece in Multichannel News. "Yet Lee only has to look out the window of her Washington, D.C., home to see that BET still has a long way to go before it convinces all African-Americans that it's ready and willing to offer more than the booty-shaking, sex-and-violence-heavy music videos that defined its programming in the 1980s and 1990s."



  • "Two things stuck in my mind while watching the New York Yankees lose the last game they played in Cleveland," Tim Giago wrote this week in his syndicated column. The first is the three fans the television cameras panned every now and then sitting in the bleachers wearing feathers and hideous painted faces. This detestable display is meant to honor American Indians? Wow, what an honor. Pardon me if I am insulted."
  • ESPN's new multi-themed, prime-time newsmagazine E:60, debuts Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET, Keith Clinkscales, senior vice president for content development and enterprises, announced . Michael Smith is one of the correspondents.
  • "Answering his critics, Pastor Joel Osteen says he's not perfect, but the reward he gets from helping to change the lives of his followers is affirmation enough that he is preaching the right message," CBS-TV says in announcing Sunday's "60 Minutes" program. "Then, the popular pastor, who is seen, heard and read by millions across the world, breaks down in tears in his interview with correspondent Byron Pitts." Osteen's Sunday service, seen by 10 million TV viewers worldwide, is the most-watched religious service in the world, the story said.
  • Yvonne Latty, a former Philadelphia Daily News reporter whose interviews with veterans of the war in Iraq became a book, "In Conflict," has had her work adapted to the stage. The play ends a 10-day run Oct. 13 at the Rendall Theater at Temple University, where it was adapted by Douglas C. Wager, who has worked with Anna Deveare Smith, and performed by Temple students. Proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project, which aids injured veterans. Members of the Trotter Group of African American columnists saw the first act of this intense work this week.

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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