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Chicago Defender Reducing Frequency

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Black Daily Going from 5 to 4 Issues Weekly

"The Chicago Defender, one of just two black-oriented dailies in the nation, told its readers Monday that it is reducing its frequency from five issues a week to four for the 'short term,'" Mark Fitzgerald reported today in Editor & Publisher.

"'It's only temporary, no longer than about a month,' Tom Picou, chairman of the Defender's corporate owner Real Times LLC, told E&P in an interview Monday.

"Beginning this week, the Tuesday edition is being eliminated, leaving the paper with a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and weekend edition that publishes on Friday.

"In the unsigned note to readers, the paper said it is reducing frequency as a way to 'use existing editorial resources' to produce 10 special editions to celebrate its 100th anniversary year, which got underway May 5, and to support two monthly supplements it launched last April.

"Picou, though, had a simpler explanation of the move. 'The Tuesday paper loses money, it's as simple as that,' he said. "You know, we either have to beef it up or restructure it to make a profit. This was strictly a business decision.'

"All the other editions are profitable, Picou said.

"The note is vague about when the paper will return to five-day frequency, and seems to suggest that it will last for the entirety of the centennial year, which ends May 5, 2006."

As Johnathon E. Briggs noted in the Chicago Tribune on May 5, "The Defender has one full-time staff writer, an entertainment writer/editor, a society writer, a sports writer and two full-time graphics artists. It relies heavily on a pool of freelancers and a partnership with the Medill News Service to fill its pages."

However, the paper recently announced it had produced three podcasts, downloadable audio broadcasts made for iPods, featuring authors Robin Stone and Michael Eric Dyson, and a news conference with Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan. In April, it launched two supplements, The Temple, devoted to health issues, and All That, aimed at African Americans aged 18 to 34.

"However, Picou said the names of both magazines would be changed because of trademark issues," Fitzgerald reported.

In an earlier story Jan. 17, Fitzgerald noted that many had suggested the Defender go weekly, but executive editor Roland S. Martin opposed such a move.

"If they want to go weekly, I'm going back to Houston," Martin was quoted as saying. "And here's why: We have a niche. We're the only black daily in the nation. If we were to go weekly, we'd be just like everybody else."

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Latino Columnist Asks: Where Are the Rest?

"Hispanics ? who now make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population ? still make up only about 3 percent of print journalists. And they account for an even smaller percentage of opinion journalists. And let's not forget that this is a profession that delights in lecturing society's institutions ? from police departments to medical schools to Fortune 500 companies ? about the virtues of diversity," Ruben Navarrette wrote Sunday in his syndicated column, which originates at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

He was writing about a graduate student who "wanted to know what it was like to be a Hispanic columnist. Do I feel a responsibility to represent the Hispanic community? (Absolutely not.) What is the reaction from readers? (Anywhere from enthusiastic to apoplectic.) Do I ever encounter racism? (Only on days that end in 'y.') And what can newspapers do to attract Latino readers? (Try hiring more Latino writers.)"

Navarrette filed from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention last week in Fort Worth, Texas.

He wrote that, "One thing that many of the attendees have in common is an almost palpable sense of frustration and impatience mixed with anticipation, the hope that a particular television network or news magazine or major newspaper with a poor record of hiring Hispanics is finally going to get the message that diversity goes beyond black and white."

Other reports from the convention:


  • Mariano Castillo, San Antonio Express-News: Reporters reminded they must earn the trust of their public


  • Gloria Gallardo, Latino Reporter, NAHJ convention newspaper: Mother makes emotional appeal in Juárez case


  • Frank Moraga, Ventura County (Calif.) Star: Diversity within a culture


  • Mercedes Olivera, Dallas Morning News: Even beyond Los Angeles, mayor-elect's star rising rapidly


  • Albor Ruiz, New York Daily News: Mayor-elect touches L.A. - & the world

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Voice of America Staffers Said to Feel Pressure

Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, has been in the news for his outspoken opinion that programs at Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio lack balance.

Tomlinson also serves as the chairman of the Broadcast Board of Governors, another presidentially appointed board that oversees the Voice of America. "Some current and former VOA staffers say that political pressure has surfaced there as well," Renee Montagne said on Friday, introducing a report by David Folkenflik on NPR's "Morning Edition."

"The current VOA employees interviewed for this story would not be quoted on the record. They said they feared job retaliation. But Tim Shamble says morale is low among many journalists at VOA. He's head of the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees that represents hundreds of VOA staffers. And he says this is what he's been told by some journalists there," Folkenflik said.

"Much of the pressure, according to staffers interviewed for this story, comes from the VOA's director, David Jackson," formerly a Time magazine correspondent.

". . . NPR obtained e-mail sent by Jackson to journalists in early 2004. In at least three separate cases, the VOA director urged coverage of stories, positive news stories about Iraq. On January 12th, Jackson wrote, quote, 'Postal Service back on its feet and a new stamp without SH' -- meaning Saddam Hussein. 'Sounds like good radio and good TV pieces for us.' Jackson added, 'Please send me copies of the stories when done.' The VOA director attached his message to an e-mailed news release from the Office of Global Communications at the White House."

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Joyce Davis: I Wouldn't Throw My Credibility Away

By coincidence, NPR's Voice of America story appeared as the NAACP's Crisis magazine ran a profile by Reginald Stuart of veteran journalist Joyce Davis, a Mideast expert who in 2003 became associate director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, based in Prague, Czech Republic.

"She says that while the public perception that the Cold War-era RFE was a lopsided news service with a pro-American bent wasn't too far off base, it is no longer true," Stuart wrote in the May/June issue. "When she signed up, she says, the broadcaster was 'trying to raise its standards and bring objective news and information to the Muslim world that was closed.'

"Davis continues: 'I was brought in as a clear sign RFE/RL is changing. I have 35 years in this business. I would not have thrown that away."

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L.A. Veteran Warren Wilson Retires from TV at 71

"Warren Wilson, a veteran reporter who is perhaps best known for helping to surrender 22 wanted fugitives to police, has retired and plans on writing a book about his experience as a pioneering African American journalist in Los Angeles," Merrill Balassone reported Saturday in the Los Angeles Times.

"Wilson left KTLA, where he had worked for 21 years, earlier this month. His retirement was made public earlier this week.

"His retirement comes a year after he filed a discrimination complaint with KTLA, alleging that he was being paid less than younger, white reporters and was not given high-profile stories that allow reporters longer live shots and more exposure. KTLA and The Times are both owned by Chicago-based Tribune Co. Wilson said his decision had nothing to do with the dispute.

". . . . Wilson was one of the first African American journalists who went on the air in Los Angeles, joining KNBC in the late 1960s, a few years after the Watts riots."

"At his first job interview for a reporting position at KNXT (now KCBS), Wilson says the news director turned him down, claiming that the lighting and cameras wouldn't facilitate a black man interviewing a white person on television."

Wilson, 71, said broadcasting had changed, and not for the better.

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Michael Jackson Verdicts Still Grist for Columnists

Last week's verdicts in the Michael Jackson child-molestation trial continue to provide grist for commentary by African American columnists:

  • Donna Britt, Washington Post: Jackson Perhaps Free to Redeem Himself


  • Dwight Lewis, Nashville Tennessean: Let's hope Michael learned something this time


  • Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Trial can help Michael Jackson grow up



  • Wendi C. Thomas, Memphis Commercial Appeal: Let Judge Judy give Jacko her tough love

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Gene Miller Saved Lives of 2 Blacks on Death Row

Gene Miller of the Miami Herald was "a loud, lusty, likable guy who had two Pulitzer Prizes and two olives in every martini. Always wore a bowtie, rarely knotted it. Knew everyone worth knowing in Miami, from jewel thief Jack 'Murph the Surf' Murphy to future Attorney General Janet Reno to the man who founded Burger King. Preferred Wendy's -- single with cheese," David Von Drehle wrote Saturday in the Washington Post.

"You probably never heard of him. He was not the kind of reporter who spouts political analysis on TV. He was the kind of reporter who saves people's lives." Miller died Friday of cancer at age 76, and he had written his own obituary.

As the St. Petersburg Times wrote, "In 1976, Miller won his second Pulitzer after eight years of reporting about Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee. The two black men were twice convicted and wrongfully sentenced to death for the murders of two white gas station attendants in the Florida Panhandle town of Port St. Joe.

"With the help of an old FBI buddy and polygraph examiner, Warren Holmes, Miller unraveled the truth in more than 100 stories. The police had no evidence and beat confessions out of Pitts and Lee. The two men were sentenced to death in 1963.

"A third man ended up confessing.

"Pitts and Lee were freed."

Miller was also an early supporter of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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Censored Reports from Nagasaki Bombing Published

"One of the great mysteries of the Nuclear Age was solved today: What was in the censored, and then lost to the ages, newspaper articles filed by the first reporter to reach Nagasaki following the atomic attack on that city on Aug. 9, 1945?" Greg Mitchell reported for Editor & Publisher on Thursday night.

"The reporter was George Weller, the distinguished correspondent for the now-defunct Chicago Daily News. His startling dispatches from Nagasaki, which could have affected public opinion on the future of the bomb, never emerged from General Douglas MacArthur's censorship office in Tokyo. Carbon copies were found just two years ago when his son, who talked to E&P from Italy today, discovered them after the reporter's death.

". . . The articles published in Japan today reveal a remarkable and wrenching turn in Weller's view of the aftermath of the bombing, which anticipates the profound unease in our nuclear experience ever since."

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Short Takes

  • Karen Hunter, reader representative at Connecticut's Hartford Courant, reproached her newspaper for its slow diversity progress in her June 12 column. "The idea of accurate and complete coverage becomes a fallacy because those who decide are doing so with a limited view of the picture," she wrote. "That may work for a while, but ultimately, discerning readers will go elsewhere to find coverage that is relevant to them."


  • Myriam Márquez, Orlando Sentinel columnist, begins a three-month stint today as local enterprise editor, she told readers Sunday. "Myriam, an award-winning columnist and member of the Sentinel's editorial board since 1987, is looking for a change of pace and wants to try her hand on the Metro Desk," Sean Holton, assistant managing editor, told the staff. Márquez is to oversee an assistant editor and 11 reporters.
  • In an unorthodox follow-up of Mexican President Vicente Fox's comments on blacks and Mexicans, a story by Lisa Hoppenjans and Ted Richardson of North Carolina's Winston-Salem Journal Sunday was headlined, "A hyphenated heritage in a hyphenated city, Afro-Mexicans are most of the local Hispanic population." Fox said in May that Mexican immigrants to the United States take jobs "that not even blacks want to do."
  • The Radio-Television News Directors Association today announced the winners of the 6th Annual RTNDA/UNITY Awards, developed by RTNDA and Unity: Journalists of Color. In television, they were ABC News, New York, for ?ABC News 20/20: The Name Game? (network); KCBS-TV, Los Angeles, for ?The Mendez Case? (large market); and WLTX-TV, Columbia, S.C., for ?The Heritage? (small market). Radio winners were National Public Radio, Washington, for ?Brown vs. Board of Education? (network), and WFAE-FM, Charlotte, N.C., for its ?Trust Matters? series (large market).
  • "Johnson Publishing Co., the Chicago-based publisher of Ebony, plans to license branded merchandise bearing the name of its leading publication, according to Chief Executive Linda Johnson Rice. The company took its first step into the merchandising world, signing a deal with TurnerPatterson, a licensing and marketing company in California catering to the minority market," according to Eric Herman, writing today in the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Georgie Woods, a legendary Philadelphia radio personality for more than 40 years, died Saturday at his home in Boynton Beach, Fla., apparently of a heart attack. He was 78, John F. Morrison reported today in the Philadelphia Daily News. Woods was "fanatically devoted to his adopted city and community causes."
  • ESPN has apologized for the May 25 story "Blood, sweat and cockfighting" by Mike Ogle, which offended residents of Guam. "In addition to inaccurate statements, it contained characterizations that were offensive to citizens of Guam. We were wrong to have presented the article in this fashion and we apologize. We have removed the article from our site," the apology read.
  • "Jacqueline Hernández-Fallous, currently publisher of People en Español, has been given the dual responsibility of People en Español and Teen People, Time Inc. announced," Stephanie D. Smith reported in Mediaweek.
  • Jorge Hidalgo, who oversees Telemundo's sports department, has been promoted to senior executive vice president sports and news, placed in charge of all original news programming, including Telemundo's news bureaus in Los Angeles and Mexico, the network announced Thursday.
  • "You may have read this week that the Rocky Mountain News agreed to pay $375,000 to resolve a class action racial discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission," John Temple, the paper's president, editor and publisher wrote to readers on Saturday. "What you didn't read was what it's like to run head-on into the power of a federal agency -- one that doesn't seem as interested in discovering the truth as it is in boasting of an illusory victory."
  • Wilma Mankiller, former Cherokee Nation chief, was elected one of four new trustees of the Freedom Forum, "along with these additional white 'chiefs': Howard Baker, former U.S. Senate majority and minority leader, Republican from Tennessee; Tom Daschle, also former U.S. Senate majority and minority leader, Democrat from South Dakota; and Ken Paulson, editor of USA TODAY, a non-partisan from Illinois," USA Today Founder Al Neuharth wrote in his Friday column in that paper.
  • Philadelphia photographer William Boyer, who became a news cameraman with WHYY in 1967, moved to WPVI in 1969, and then to KYW in 1971 before retiring in 1992, died June 6 after a heart attack, Yvonne Latty reported Friday in the Philadelphia Daily News. He was 55.
  • Ronald Mason Jr. , president of Jackson State University in Mississippi, wrote an op-ed piece in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger Saturday replying to a column by Merlene Davis in Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader. Davis questioned whether she should send her son to the school. Mason assured her that, "The fact that JSU is in Mississippi should not be a negative."


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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 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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