CEO of Oprah's OWN Out in Shakeup
Thursday, May 5, 2011
"In an admission of dissatisfaction with the ratings for the 4-month-old OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, the head of that channel, Christina Norman, has been dismissed, the channel said Friday," Brian Stelter reported for the New York Times.
"Effective immediately, Peter Liguori, the chief operating officer for Discovery Communications, will take over the channel on an interim basis, through the rest of the year, if not longer.
"Discovery and Ms. Winfrey jointly own and operate OWN. The decision to dismiss Ms. Norman was made by the board that oversees OWN in the last few weeks, according to a person with direct knowledge of the decision.
"The shakeup comes amid disappointment at Discovery and at OWN about low ratings for most of its programming. On a total day basis, OWN is barely outperforming the channel it replaced, Discovery Health, despite hundreds of million of dollars of investment. David Zaslav, the chief executive of Discovery Communications, acknowledged last week that the channel has had a 'slower start' than expected.' "
OWN, which debuted in December in 85 million homes, represents a milestone in the quest for media ownership by women and people of color. Norman was a major part of it.
"The countdown has begun. In just three weeks one of television’s biggest experiments will launch," Jenna Goudreau wrote in December for Forbes Woman.
"The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), a joint venture between the media mogul and Discovery Communications, will hang its fate on the appeal of the world’s most recognizable woman. But behind the scenes, another female leader is busy laying the foundation for Oprah’s next favorite thing.
"TV veteran Christina Norman, chief executive of OWN since February of 2009, is charged with overseeing all business and creative areas of the cable channel and website. Norman previously spent 17 years at MTV, climbing from a freelance production manager to president of the network. The hard work and spotless record took its toll, however, causing an exhausted Norman to initially take herself out of the running for the OWN job. But after a few months of rest, she realized it was an opportunity she couldn’t walk away from.
"The Winfrey-Norman duo took off, creating a rare but incredible pairing: Two African-American, female leaders who single-handedly scaled mountains in the television industry. Now their success depends on each other."
But, Stelter reported Friday, "In an e-mail message to the staff at OWN on Friday, Ms. Winfrey said that Ms. Norman’s 'hard work, passion and leadership were instrumental in getting OWN on the air,' but added, 'Given all that we have to do, the OWN Board felt it was necessary that we have a different kind of leadership in place for the next phase of OWN’s growth.' "
". . . While Ms. Winfrey provided the live-your-best-life vision for the channel, it was Ms. Norman, a former president of MTV, who executed on that vision. She said in a prepared statement Friday, 'As I move on to my next challenge, I am confident the strong foundation we have built will position the network to achieve great things.' "
Joe Flint added in the Los Angeles Times, "The channel premiered with a mix of reality and self-help shows, but its ratings have not caught fire.
". . . Discovery has pumped north of $200 million into OWN, and there have been several executive changes inside the operation. Winfrey, who is giving up her daytime talk show to focus exclusively on the channel, is also expected to take on an even greater role at the cable network now that her day job is coming to an end."
The final episode of the syndicated "Oprah Winfrey Show" is to air May 25.
"After Winfrey takes time off after the show's finale, she and Liguori will start searching for a permanent CEO to lead the network, which is based in Los Angeles," Andrea Morabito wrote for Broadcasting & Cable.
The board of directors of Unity: Journalists of Color voted 13-2 Friday to to change its bylaws and articles of incorporation to reflect the withdrawal of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Mekahlo Medina of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Janet Cho of the Asian American Journalists Association told Journal-isms they voted against the motion. NABJ's John Yearwood was absent.
Joanna Hernandez, Unity president, said via email: "The UNITY board of directors met via conference call today to do the work necessary to comply with the NABJ board's decision to depart from UNITY.
"It was a sad and respectful meeting.
"Kathy Times' letter rescinding the appointments of the NABJ representatives on the UNITY board, as well as her own resignation from the UNITY board, effective Tuesday, May 10, 2011, was read for the record.
"The board then voted on removing references to NABJ from UNITY's Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.
"Each UNITY board member expressed their dismay and regrets, and the message was clear that the door will remain open for NABJ should their board decide to return to UNITY."
Cho told Journal-isms by email, "I listened to those who said we had to do it because NABJ had pulled out and for business reasons, so UNITY could move on. But as someone who's been to all four UNITY conventions, I couldn't imagine taking NABJ out of our UNITY bylaws and articles of incorporation. To me, it just felt too much like closing the door to the possibility that they might one day come back."
The NABJ board voted April 10 to withdraw from Unity because "as a business model, UNITY no longer is the most financially prudent for NABJ and its membership."
Remaining are AAJA, NAHJ and the Native American Journalists Association, who are planning a Unity convention in Las Vegas for 2012.
"By now, the photo is a classic. It's become the most viewed image on Flickr — a mesmerizing picture that suggests as much as it reveals," John Blake wrote Thursday for cnn.com.
"You may know it simply as the 'Situation Room Photo,' but you may not be aware of what some say are three subliminal messages that make it so powerful and unusual.
"The photo captures President Barack Obama huddled with his national security team in the White House Situation Room as they monitor via live video the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden.
"Most commentators have focused on the historic nature of the photo: Obama staring at the screen with a grim intensity; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, covering her mouth . . . the epicenter of U.S. military power hunting down its most hated foe.
"But look deeper and that photo becomes historic in a more subtle way. It's a snapshot of how much this nation's attitudes about race, women and presidential swagger are changing, several scholars and historians say.
". . . For much of U.S. history, the black man has often been portrayed as the threat to America's safety — the angry man, the thug, the one you cross the street to avoid, says Cheryl Contee, co-founder of Jack & Jill Politics, a blog focused on current affairs from a black perspective.
"But in the Situation Room photo, Contee says, the black man is America's protector.
". . . The photo also resolves a tricky image problem for Obama, says Jerald Podair, a history professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
"Podair says Obama has always been careful to avoid the angry black male stereotype in his public persona, but has acquired another image — that of detachment, even weakness.
"The photo of Obama hunkered down with his national security team watching the stalking and killing of bin Laden solves both problems, Podair says.
". . . Lori Brown, a sociologist, says showing two women at the center of American military power is noteworthy. . . .
". . . Obama's willingness to be photographed without the typical Oval Office swagger gives birth to a new type of swagger, says Contee of Jack & Jill Politics."
- Chris O'Shea, FishbowlNY: Photo Editors Discuss Iconic Situation Room Photo, Get it Wrong
- Washington Post: Breaking down the Situation Room
"If it seems like the death of Osama bin Laden has been inescapable this week, from cable news to blogs to even your friends' Facebook statuses, that's because it's true," Toni Fitzgerald reported Friday for medialifemagazine.com.
"In just a few days, his death has become the biggest story of the year in both traditional and social media.
"On Monday and Tuesday, coverage of bin Laden accounted for 89 percent of mainstream media coverage, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, which tracks the biggest stories in media on a weekly basis.
"That's the most dominant performance for any story since the PEJ began its tracking four years ago.
"Details about the raid (25 percent) and U.S. and global reaction to bin Laden's death (24 percent) have taken up the greatest share of the news hole.
"The life of bin Laden has gotten the least amount of attention, at just 6 percent, which is perhaps not surprising considering that news organizations are wary of rewarding the actual man with attention and weary of revisiting territory they covered so thoroughly a decade ago, when it became clear al Qaeda was behind the 9/11 attacks.
"The PEJ also conducted an analysis of how the news is playing out in social media. Notably, for a culture that is often uncomfortable with expressing emotion, humor has been a major theme in the reaction to bin Laden's death."
- Karima Bennoune, the Guardian, Britain: Remembering all al-Qaida's victims
- Arshad Chowdhury, Washington Post: A Muslim American reflects on Osama bin Laden’s death
- Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Releasing bin Laden’s Corpse Picture Dead Wrong
- Uri Friedman, the Atlantic: Journalists Are Grumbling About Changing Raid Details
- Leonard Greene, New York Post: Sadness will always tinge the celebration
- Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Everything Proves That Torture Worked
- Paul Kersey, Stuff Black People Don't Like 2.0: How White was the Navy SEALs Team that got Osama?
- Marian Wang, ProPublica: Revisiting the Very First, Very Wrong Reports on Bin Laden’s Death
- Marian Wang, ProPublica: Role of Torture in Finding Bin Laden: What We Actually Know
- Omar Wasow, theRoot.com: Evolving Images of Obama and Osama
- Marcy Wheeler ("emptywheel"), firedoglake.com: KSM Was Lying about OBL’s Location While Hiding the Courier Who Could Locate Him
"The Obama administration has sparked outrage in the Native American community following the revelation it used the name of the legendary Apache leader Geronimo as a secret code word during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden," according to the Pacifica Radio show "Democracy Now!"
"Geronimo was an Apache leader who fought to preserve tribal lands against U.S. and Mexican forces in the 19th century. We get reaction from Native American activist and writer, Winona LaDuke. 'The reality is that the military is full of native nomenclature,' says LaDuke. 'You’ve got Black Hawk helicopters, Apache Longbow helicopters. You’ve got Tomahawk missiles. The term used when you leave a military base in a foreign country is to go "off the reservation, into Indian Country." So what is that messaging that is passed on? It is basically the continuation of the wars against indigenous people.' "
Matthew Daly of the Associated Press reported Thursday, "The White House referred questions on the matter to the Defense Department, which said no disrespect was meant to Native Americans."
- Ernestine Chasing, Native Sun News: Veterans upset by 'Geronimo' codename
- Dan Farber, CBSNews.com: Osama bin Laden is no Geronimo
- Neely Tucker, Washington Post: American Indians object to ‘Geronimo’ as code for bin Laden raid
- Senate Oversight Hearing: "Stolen Identities: The Impact of Racist Stereotypes on Indigenous People"
- Linda Stephan, Interlochen Public Radio: Many Native Americans Bristle At "Geronimo" Codename
"Bounce TV, a multicast channel for African Americans, has landed its first distribution deal and it’s a big one — Raycom Media," TVNewsCheck reported on Thursday.
"Starting this fall, when the network launches, Raycom will carry the new diginet in 26 markets covering 10% of U.S. TV homes and nearly 19% of African-American TV homes.
"Bounce TV said it expects to be in at least 50% of TV homes at launch with more distribution agreements to be announced shortly.
"The markets: Cleveland; Charlotte, N.C; Cincinnati; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Birmingham, Ala.; Memphis, Tenn; Louisville, Ky.; Richmond, Va.; Columbia, S.C.; Huntsville, Ala.; Shreveport, La.; Jackson, Miss.; Baton Rouge, La.; Savannah, Ga.; Charleston, S.C.; Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C.; Tyler-Lufkin, Texas; Augusta, Ga.; Montgomery, Ala.; Columbus, Ga.; Wilmington, N.C.; Albany, Ga.; Biloxi, Miss.; Hattiesburg, Miss; Dothan, Ala.; and Lake Charles, La."
"The muscles of journalism are weakening and the muscles of public relations are bulking up — as if they were on steroids," according to David Barstow, a New York Times investigative reporter.
In a story Monday on ProPublica, "PR Industry Fills Vacuum Left by Shrinking Newsrooms," John Sullivan describes how Barstow walked into a Houston hotel for December's hearings on the Gulf oil spill and found the conference room packed. "Most of the people busily scribbling notes in the room were not there to ask questions. They were there to answer them," Sullivan wrote.
". . . In their recent book, 'The Death and Life of American Journalism,' Robert McChesney and John Nichols tracked the number of people working in journalism since 1980 and compared it to the numbers for public relations. Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they found that the number of journalists has fallen drastically while public relations people have multiplied at an even faster rate. In 1980, there were about .45 PR workers per 100,000 population compared with .36 journalists. In 2008, there were .90 PR people per 100,000 compared to .25 journalists. That's a ratio of more than three-to-one, better equipped, better financed."
"Let’s face it. LA’s resident conservative agitator Andrew Breitbart isn’t going away. His involvement in the Shirley Sherrod flap threatened to put him out to the woodshed of the public consciousness," Matthew Fleischer wrote Thursday for FishBowlLA. "But now, thanks largely to his protege James O'Keefe's NPR sting, Breitbart is back on Bill Maher and at the LAT Festival of Books and even written up by the Times itself. Breitbart has even inexplicably reemerged as one of the left-wing media’s go-to conservative pundits — much to the incredulity of the liberal blogosphere."
". . . Breitbart even found his way to MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan show last week — where the typically ornery liberal Ratigan went out of his way to call Breitbart a 'sharp shooter who gets results.' That didn’t sit well with Color of Change activist and Firedoglake blogger James Rucker — who felt Ratigan was bending over backwards to help restore Breitbart's undeserved credibility.
"Rucker interviewed Ratigan about Breitbart’s appearance.
" 'When I spoke with Ratigan, he explained what he was trying to do. He quickly agreed that Breitbart was a race-baiter, dishonest, and undeserving of credibility — without question. And he frankly hadn’t thought about the legitimizing effect that having Breitbart on his show — without clearly labeling him as the race-baiter and deceiver he is — would have."
- "Officials in Ethiopia hijacked a local UNESCO-sponsored World Press Freedom Day event, installing government-backed journalists as speakers and nixing independent journalists slated to speak," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Thursday. "There was no discussion, as originally planned, of this year's global theme on new media and the Internet at the Tuesday forum, according to local sources and news reports."
- In Libya, "Radio Free Libya Misurata is a bastion of the rebellion against [Moammar] Gaddafi’s regime," Ruth Sherlock reported for Inter-Press Service and Al Jazeera. "The rebel broadcasts act as a unifying force for the war-torn city. As residents drive through the sandbag checkpoints, past bullet-riddled homes and devastated buildings, the programmes remind them of their cause: forcing Gaddafi from power. Radio Misurata, as it used to be called, had been an ordinary local station, enslaved to the whims of Gaddafi's rules of broadcast."
- "Chris Pena, who’s been overseeing daily news operations and special projects at WMAQ-Channel 5 since 2008, is leaving the NBC-owned station to take on a new position with NBC News in New York," television writer Robert Feder wrote Wednesday on his Time Out Chicago blog. "Pena will continue as assistant news director here through the end of the May ratings sweeps before joining the network in early June. His new role with NBC News is expected to be announced soon."
- Analyzing the latest diversity figures from the American Society of News Editors, Julio Morán, executive director of CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California, wrote for the April 28 edition of Hispanic Link: "The problem is worse in California. At 22.3 million, 14 million of them Latino, it has the nation’s largest population of people of color, 60% of the state’s 37.2 million residents. Yet in the newsrooms of its largest daily papers, Latinos are nearly invisible, particularly as top editors. . . . Of these papers, only one Latino name is on the masthead: John Díaz, Chronicle editorial page editor. (Although Tom Negrete is managing editor for production at the Sacramento Bee, his name is not on the masthead.) Real diversity has to start at the top. Latinos not only have to be in the decision-making process on stories, but have a say in hiring. The most diverse newsrooms nationally are at papers where Latinos and others of color are among the top editors."
- "A new Free Press report (PDF) released Monday reveals deep disparities between the amount of local news offered on Comcast's English- and Spanish-language stations," the Latino Print Network said on Thursday. "To justify its takeover of NBC Universal, Comcast committed to increasing local programming across its newly acquired NBC and Telemundo stations for a period of five years."
- "The number of Americans saying President Obama was born in another country has been sliced in half, according to a new Washington Post poll," Jon Cohen reported Thursday for the Post. "In interviews following the public release the president’s 'long-form' birth certificate last week, fully 70 percent of Americans say Obama was born in Hawaii, a big bump-up from the 48 percent who said so a year ago. Even more say he was U.S.-born, or call that their best guess, for a total of 86 percent."
- Latoya Peterson, who edits the blog Racialicious.com, has joined the Online News Association as part-time content producer, "just in time to help us with the redesign of journalists.org," ONA's website, ONA announced on Thursday.
- "Fox News Channel has terminated the contracts of paid contributors and potential 2012 candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, a spokesman for the network confirmed to CNN," CNN reported on Thursday. "Contracts for the former House Speaker and former Pennsylvania senator were suspended until May 1st while they considered runs for the White House in 2012."
- "The cable networks group continues to be the engine that drives News Corp., generating more than 60% of the company's segment operating income," Dawn C. Chmielewski wrote Thursday for the Los Angeles Times. "The group, which includes Fox News and FX Network, reported a 25% increase in operating income to $735 million."
- Last weekend in Port Aransas, at the inaugural Carlos Guerra Fishing Tournament, the first three Carlos Guerra Communication and Theatre Arts Scholarship recipients were recognized. Michael Rodriguez and Genesis Urbina received $500 scholarships. Claudia Garcia, a 23-year-old senior who will graduate in December, earned a $1,000 scholarship," Cary Clack reported Wednesday in his San Antonio Express-News column. Guerra, a pioneering former Express-News columnist, died in December at age 63 .
- Unity: Journalists of Color and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard are among the latest journalism organizations to call for the release of journalist Dorothy Parvaz, a 2009 Nieman Fellow who is being held in Syria. Parvaz, a former reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, works for Al Jazeera.
- "Indiana native Carlos Diaz is the new sports anchor for HLN's 'Morning Express with Robin Meade,' Cathy Kightlinger reported Friday for the Indianapolis Star. "The show, which airs from 6 a.m. to noon on weekdays, is shot in CNN's Atlanta studios. HLN (formerly known as Headline News) is a sister network to CNN."
- Stanley Crouch, columnist for the New York Daily News, denounced the late journalist and author Alex Haley, best known for his "Roots" book and television miniseries, in Crouch's Monday column. "The recent publication of Manning Marable's 'Malcolm X: A Life Reinvented' brings to light once again a ruthless hustler named Alex Haley, who did no more for the country than any other flimflam man. He certainly became wealthy and famous, but was one of the biggest damn liars this country has ever seen," Crouch wrote.
- "It’s an enduring irony that, while we crank out story after story analyzing how changing Census figures may affect everything from the 2012 election to federal and state funding, journalists have offered much less thought on how those moving demographics impact our own industry," Eric Deggans, media columnist for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, wrote Thursday for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University.
- "'The Tom Joyner Morning Show' was in Birmingham Wednesday, May 4th broadcasting live from the studios of Cox radio station WBHK-FM. Joyner told Radio Ink when he hit the ground the devastation from the tornadoes was incredible but the attitude of the people was even more incredible," RadioInk reported.
- "Gus Johnson, a veteran play-by-play announcer most famous for his passionate calls of March Madness college basketball games on CBS, may soon have another job," Diane Pucin reported Thursday for the Los Angeles Times. "Two people familiar with the negotiations but not authorized to speak publicly said Johnson and CBS were unable to agree on a new contract and that he now is in discussions with Fox."
- "Al Jazeera English has appointed Amjad Atallah as its new bureau chief for the Americas," based in Washington, the network announced on Monday. "Atallah takes over responsibility for Al Jazeera’s operations in the Americas from today. He joins the network from the leading think tank, the New America Foundation, where he was Co-Director of the Middle East Task Force. He was also an editor of the Middle East Channel at ForeignPolicy.com."
- In Peru, "Radio journalist Julio Castillo Narváez’s murder in Virú (in the northwestern department of La Libertad) on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, has cast a further shadow over a day that is meant to be a celebration for journalists and media all over the world," Reporters Without Borders said on Thursday. "Unidentified gunmen shot him six times while he was having lunch in a restaurant."
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