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Challenger Defeats Native Journalists Leader

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Darla Leslie Leads Group "That Has Been Kind of Struggling"

Darla Leslie Leads Group "That Has Been Kind of Struggling"

Darla LeslieDarla Leslie, a reporter/photographer for the Yakama Nation Review in Toppenish, Wash., who says her career was shaped by the Native American Journalists Association, defeated incumbent president Rhonda LeValdo Saturday in voting by the NAJA board at its annual convention.

LeValdo, National Minority Consortia Fellow at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan., lost the presidency in a 5-4 show-of-hands vote over which she presided. But she won 5-4 in a bid for vice president.

The board also replaced its treasurer, Shirley Sneve, executive director at Native American Public Telecommunications, who lost 5-4 to Tristan Ahtone, host and reporter at Wyoming Public Radio. Sneve remains on the board.

NAJA, the smallest of the major journalist of color associations, with 237 members, ended the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 with a unaudited loss of $15,530.36, Sneve told members. Executive Director Jeff Harjo said that he lost his assistants in a cost-cutting move and that NAJA was in danger of having to return a $25,000 challenge grant if it does not raise $15,000 in matching funds by the end of the month.

"We're in real bind coming up with the matching funds," Harjo said at a membership meeting as the group met in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "A lot of the tribes I thought would send $5,000 instead sent $500." Sneve urged that at least each member could give $25.

The Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Native American Journalists Association each received $25,000 in matching funds in 2010 from the Challenge Fund for Journalism, a consortium of the Ford, McCormick, and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism foundations. It is the sixth round of the program, which also awards money to mainstream journalism organizations.

Leslie, 33, a member of the Klickitat/Yakama tribe, told Journal-isms that NAJA was "an organization that has been kind of struggling" and that she saw "a lot of opportunity" for the organization to market itself better.

She also said, "I want to put things back into perspective," recalling the "boot camp" training she received in NAJA's Native Voices Project in Tempe, Ariz., in 1998. "There was a reason we were the survivors," she said of herself and her classmates who went on to success. "We always said we were the group that grew up with the hard knocks of journalism."

The year after that boot camp, in 1999, Leslie said with pride, she was the only student to capture a photo of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush at the Unity convention in Seattle. The photo ran on the Associated Press wire. Bush made a last-minute whirlwind tour of the convention after being criticized for not planning to attend. Leslie said she was 7½ or eight months pregnant. She calls her daughter, who will be 12 in August, "the Unity '99 baby."

NAJA appointed Leslie to the board last year to fill the seat of Minnie Two Shoes, a founding board member who died at 60. "This was their way of telling me, 'You're not going anywhere. You've got a job to do,' " she said of board members.

The candidates made no nominating speeches or declarations to the board on Saturday. "I've known these people since I was young," Leslie said. "NAJA has become my second family, literally . . . They've realized that I live up to my word," had mentored others and is outspoken.

"I reached out to many of my mentors," she said, naming Tom Arviso, publisher of the Navajo Times; fellow Yakama tribal members Kara Briggs and Rhonda LeValdoRonnie Washines, both former NAJA presidents; Karen Lincoln Michel, a former president of Unity: Journalists of Color, and Navajo Times reporter Marley Shebala.

Leslie assumed the presidency as soon as the board vote was taken, and chaired the remainder of the meeting.

Eighty-two people registered for the convention and 52 voted in the election, in which Leslie, Ahtone and Neyom Friday, a journalism student at Broward College in Florida, were voted onto the board, elections supervisor and board member Jolene Schonchin told members.

Although the gathering took place in a high-rise hotel on an inviting Fort Lauderdale beach, attendance was diminished because of the East Coast location — away from the heart of Indian Country — and failure to interact sufficiently with the nearby Seminole tribe, attendees said. NAJA once had more than 700 members.

Moreover, according to Harjo, the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute ended its practice of paying for year-long memberships for its Native journalism students. The institute runs the Crazy Horse Journalism Workshop, in which 37 high school students participated in April, and the American Indian Journalism Institute, which taught 14 students last month.

['Jeff's statement is correct," Jack Marsh, president of the Diversity Institute, told Journal-isms on Sunday. "Funding of NAJA memberships for our program participants was among many ways we supported the association and encouraged its stability from its inception until recent years. 

["The relationship weakened after NAJA opted to end its multi-year partnership with Freedom Forum and moved its headquarters out of rent-free Freedom Forum facilities at the University of South Dakota.  The NAJA board decided on its own in fall 2006 that a partnership with the University of Oklahoma, rather than with Freedom Forum and the University of South Dakota, was a better fit for the association’s strategic plan and goals."]

Still, board members said they were satisfied with this year's convention, which featured discussions about Indian health care, using social media, unsolved cases stemming from the 1973 FBI assault on Wounded Knee, disapproval of a comparison of Seminoles to Al-Queda in a Pentagon defense of Guantánamo military commissions and continued resentment over the U.S. government's code name "Geronimo" for the operation to capture and kill Osama bin Laden.

The withdrawal of NABJ from Unity: Journalists of Color never seemed far from attendees' minds. "We were four legs," Washines said in the membership meeting, referring to the four Unity partners, "and now we've become a three-legged chair. The purpose of Unity was not business-related," he said, referring to NABJ's stated reason for pulling out. "It was diversification in our newsrooms." Washines said he hoped NAJA continued to "work in fellowship with NABJ" and the other organizations.

LeValdo told the student publication, Rising Voices, that she saw a silver lining.

"She said that a smaller Unity conference in 2012 could raise the visibility of NAJA members," Lemanuel Loley reported.

Sulzberger Takes a Side in NABJ Contest

July 15, 2011

New York Times Publisher Endorses Gregory Lee Jr.

South Sudan's Independence Leads to Crackdown in North

They're Only All-Asian American Anchor Team on Mainland

Journalists in Two Cities See Contrasts With Anthony Trial

TV Stations Producing Record Amount of Local News

AP's Russell Contreras Moving From Boston to New Mexico

Short Takes

Gregory Lee Jr.'s campaign web page displays an endorsement from Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. of the New York Times. Lee is one of three running for president of the National Association of Black Journalists.

New York Times Publisher Endorses Gregory Lee Jr.

In a highly unusual move, New York Times Co. CEO Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. has made an endorsement in the presidential contest of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Sulzberger endorsed Gregory Lee Jr., senior assistant sports editor at the Boston Globe, a New York Times Co. property.

Lee touted the endorsement Friday on his campaign Facebook page under the headline, "New York Times Company Endorses Greg Lee for NABJ President."

"The Times Co. support along with that of The Boston Globe means if elected I can effectively serve as NABJ President," Lee, currently NABJ's treasurer, wrote on his campaign's Facebook page.

Candidates' employers have supported staffers who run for office in the journalist-of-color organizations, providing them with time off to fulfill their duties or contributing campaign money, but they have rarely, if ever, issued a personal endorsement.

(Wayne Dawkins recounted the debate within NABJ about the role employers should play in campaigns on page 199 of "Black Journalists: The NABJ Story.")

While Sulzberger has been an NABJ member since 1998, the endorsement highlights his positions as Times Co. chairman and New York Times publisher rather than his NABJ membership.

Deirdre M.   Childress, Charles Robinson III, Gregory Lee Jr.

The two other candidates for NABJ president, asked to respond, questioned whether the views of Sulzberger and the Times Co. were always compatible with those of NABJ, founded in 1975 "to bring about a union of Black journalists dedicated to truth and excellence in the news, and full equality in the industry."

Deirdre M. Childress, entertainment/film/weekend editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, said:

“It is always good when the work of a fellow NABJ member is recognized by their company's owner. I am extremely happy to have four years of support of my employer, Philadelphia Media Network, which has donated more than $20,000 in cash and services to the Philadelphia convention this year, including the printing of the NABJ student Monitor with online support. As of today, that company has given us a $600 ad," she said, referring to the New York Times and to the student-produced convention newspaper.

"However, the most important endorsement for me comes from the founders and members of NABJ. These are the people we serve and they share our concerns and thrusts.

"Many large entities do not share our concerns about coverage of the black community and they have shown with the history of their journalism that they do not always have our best interests at heart. When I receive an endorsement from someone like Founders Acel Moore and Sandra Long and Cloves Campbell, the new chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, it tells me I am on the right page in serving our members and our needs."

Childress is the organization's vice president for print.

Charles Robinson III, a reporter for Maryland Public Television, said:

"Congratulations to Greg for getting his employer to endorse his candidacy. While Sulzberger is a paid member of NABJ his influence and knowledge of the [organization's] vision is not always compatible. I will also have an endorsement from my employer. I think [journalists] are pretty smart and look beyond endorsements. It's ideas that will chart the future of this organization and I am prepared to debate them at any forum at any venue."

He added, "The speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates endorses Charles Robinson."

Lee's campaign also features a video endorsement from his supervisor at the Globe, Sports Editor Joe Sullivan, as well as from an officer of another journalist-of-color organization, Russell Contreras, vice president/print and financial officer of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Neither is an NABJ member.

Sulzberger's three-paragraph endorsement cites Lee's experience and concludes, "I am confident Greg will provide the leadership and innovation NABJ needs to remain a vanguard institution in the new and ever-changing journalism age."

Lee told Journal-isms by email, "I am thankful to have the full support of my company. The New York Times has been an active partner with NABJ and has been supportive of my work with the organization since day one. I could not have fulfilled the role of being the organization’s chief financial officer without their commitment to my service financially as well granting me the time to travel and advocate on behalf of NABJ members.

"I am also pleased to have the support of two former NABJ Presidents, Condace Pressley and Vanessa Williams, as well as . . .  8 NABJ Chapter Presidents. I have been overwhelmed with the support from members across the country from our veteran members to our younger members that are just breaking into the industry. I have enjoyed travelling from coast-to-coast speaking with our members and hearing their thoughts on how we work together to make NABJ an even stronger association."

South Sudan's Independence Leads to Crackdown in North

"Within a few hours of South Sudan's independence, the north Sudanese government ordered the closing of the popular Arabic daily paper Ajras Al-Hurriya and the suspension of five English-language titles," Roy Greenslade reported Thursday for Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"Sudan's national press and publication council explained that the papers were closed because the owners and publishers are from South Sudan. Under the country's press law, publishers must have Sudanese nationality.

"It was, as the Arabic Network of Human Rights Information (ANHRI) remarked, a worrying start to the relationship between north and south.

"The five suspended English-language papers are the Khartoum Monitor, Juba Post, Sudan Tribune, The Advocate and The Democrat.

"According to Index on Censorship correspondent Abdelgadir [Mohamed] Abdelgadir, 'all the banned papers criticised the government and reported on corruption and human rights violations.'

"Some journalists fear much tighter restrictions on press freedom under a new constitution in the north, where the government has also threatened to reinforce sharia law.

". . . . the media landscape in South Sudan also looks dark. Local journalists say they are facing the same challenges as they did under the control of Khartoum — raids on media offices, arrests, intimidation and other restrictions on media freedom."

They're Only All-Asian American Anchor Team on Mainland

Janelle Wang and Raj MathaiLast week's announcement that veteran journalist Janelle Wang will anchor the "NBC Bay Area News at 5" on KNTV-TV means that Wang and Raj Mathai will become the only U.S. team of Asian American main news anchors outside of Hawaii, the Asian American Journalists Association said on Wednesday.

"This move clearly demonstrates NBC Bay Area's strong commitment to diversity and to creating a newsroom that reflects the communities it serves. We hope that other newsrooms will follow NBC Bay Area's example, and AAJA is ready to help in any such diversity efforts," AAJA said.

Wang is a Bay Area native who has worked in San Francisco television news for the past eight years, the station said.

Journalists in Two Cities See Contrasts With Anthony Trial

Photo graphic with 1999 booking photo of Banita Jacks, a Washington woman accused of killing her four daughters . (Credit: CBS/AP/Charles County Sheriff)"As the nation fixated on the Casey Anthony trial last week, a health care worker living in Rockford, Ill., fixated on the fact that scant national attention has been paid to the trial of serial-killing suspect Anthony Sowell," columnist Phillip Morris wrote Tuesday in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

"It bothered her that she had to hunt for news on Sowell, while all she had to do was turn on any number of channels to instantly get news of Casey Anthony.

"To be completely objective, though, Martha McKenzie-Jones is more than a casual observer of Sowell. She has closely followed the story, partly because the accused is her first cousin.

"But it gets more personal.

"The real irony for McKenzie-Jones is the history she shared with one of the women found buried on Sowell's property. She said she used to hire Janice Webb as a baby sitter when Webb was 18-years old. That's part of what makes this awful story so intensely personal — and infuriating — for her.

"But last week, she could not help but marvel at the nation's continued fixation on Casey Anthony and the complete media circus the Orlando case attracted in the days leading up to the verdict.

"How, she wondered, could the trial of the woman charged with killing 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, totally eclipse the story of a man charged with raping, killing and burying 11 women on his property?"

Keith L. Alexander, a courts reporter at the Washington Post, had similar thoughts.

"The contrast to the story of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, who also died in 2008, and whose face has graced numerous magazine pages and prime-time television specials, could not be more stark," he wrote in the Outlook section of Sunday's Post.

"Banita Jacks, now 36, the mother of the four girls found dead in Washington, was convicted of her daughters’ murders and sentenced to 120 years in prison. Caylee’s killer has not been convicted, though prosecutors charged her mother, Casey Anthony, 25, with her daughter’s slaying. A Florida jury acquitted her of the murder charge this past week, and she will spend a handful of additional days in prison for lying to the police.

"Prior to Jacks’s conviction, she was known by few outside Washington. A Google search revealed about 26,000 hits for stories mentioning Jacks, vs. more than 73 million hits, and growing, for Anthony.

". . . How is it that the tragic death of one little girl could attract so much more attention than the tragic deaths of four sisters?

"The easy answer is that the disparity in coverage is about race and class. . . . but there were other reasons that Caylee became a household name and Aja and her sisters did not. The way the Anthony case unfolded in the courts — and especially the way the state of Florida handled the prosecution — has a lot to do with the outcry now in the court of public opinion. . . "

TV Stations Producing Record Amount of Local News

"The second part of the annual RTDNA/Hofstra University study found the average local station produced a record 5.3 hours of news a day in 2010, up 18 minutes from 2009. The network affiliate average is even higher, recording 5.6 hours of news daily," Merrill Knox reported Thursday for TVSpy.

"Almost 35 percent of stations added a newscast last year — most often [occurring] in the 4:30 a.m. timeslot on weekdays, RTDNA/Hofstra finds. The majority of stations — 58.9 percent — recorded the same number of newscasts in 2010 and 2009, and only 6.5 percent of stations cut a newscast."

AP's Russell Contreras Moving From Boston to New Mexico

"Russell Contreras, an Associated Press newsman in Boston covering immigration and minority affairs, has been hired as the AP's law enforcement reporter in Albuquerque," the AP reported.

Russell Contreras"The appointment was announced Thursday by West regional editor Traci Carl and Arizona-New Mexico Bureau Chief Michael Giarrusso.

" 'Contreras has all the elements we were looking for in an AP newsperson for New Mexico,' Giarrusso said. 'He knows the state and he's worked here before. He is a multi-format journalist who is as comfortable shooting video and photos as he is interviewing subjects or writing stories. He will fit in well with our team, and will make an immediate impact for members in the state.'

"Contreras, 37, has worked in the Boston bureau since 2008, covering several stories including the deaths of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Eunice Shriver and the case of a medical student accused of killing a woman he met through Craigslist. He also works as a videographer."

Contreras is also vice president/print and financial officer of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

"It's a loss for Boston," media watcher Callie Crossley, who offers commentary on WGBH's "Beat the Press" and other venues, told Journal-isms. "He made it his business to be out front on issues of people of color. In some ways, he's his own little Unity."

Short Takes

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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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