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CNN "Reconsidering" NABJ Sponsorships

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Journalists Say Network Retaliates After Criticism

Reports on Ebola Turned Toward Perspective This Week

Skepticism Greets News that Nigerian Girls Will Be Freed

Artist Redraws Cartoon in Response to NAHJ Objections

Univision Ends Newscasts at Puerto Rico TV Station

Study Shows No Lack of Qualified Black, Latino Geeks

O'Reilly Tells Jon Stewart There Is No "White Privilege"

Chilling Series Captures Dangers of Women on Migrant Trail

Short Takes

Journalists Say Network Retaliates After Criticism

Two days after the National Association of Black Journalists issued a statement saying it "is concerned about the atmosphere for African Americans at CNN," a representative of the network told NABJ President Bob Butler that the network was withdrawing its support of the association's 2015 convention, Butler said in an announcement on Friday.

CNN replied, "Following NABJ's recent comments about CNN, we informed them we were reconsidering our relationship, but we were clear that we had not made a final decision. It's surprising to us that they would choose to make such a statement." Spokeswoman Christal Jones told Journal-isms by email, "That means we are thinking about it…nothing is final."

The dustup comes after "NABJ expressed concern over the large number of African-American staff members leaving and being fired from the cable news network," according to NABJ. "Several [African-American] anchors have left the anchor desk or CNN altogether in the past few years."

Those leaving included Bryan Monroe, a former NABJ president; Darius Walker, a CNN vice president who was Northeast bureau chief; and Tenisha Taylor Bell, the only African American executive producer of a show at CNN

CNN's parent company, Turner Broadcasting, is cutting 400 positions from its American and international channels, with about 130 CNN reductions coming through voluntary buyouts, and the rest through layoffs, according to International Business Times.

Two days before NABJ expressed its concern, Stanley Wilson, a longtime CNN employee, filed a $5 million wrongful-termination and discrimination lawsuit. Butler said then, "This sounds eerily similar to complaints I have heard from other African American employees who have left CNN since I joined the board of directors in 2007. The common theme in these conversations was frustration that they were not given opportunities to advance or were passed over by less experienced employees."

Butler said Friday that he received a call Oct. 10 from a CNN representative, whom he would not identify, to complain about NABJ's statement of concern. It coincided with NABJ's request for CNN to become a sponsor of its 2015 convention in Minneapolis, including participating in its career fair. Butler would not disclose how much NABJ was asking for, but said "compared to other organizations that support NABJ, it was not that much."

In the course of the conversation, Butler said by telephone, the CNN representative told him, "Consider your request denied."

In 2007, NABJ awarded CNN its "Best Practices" award to recognize the network for its efforts to increase diversity on air and behind the scenes.

The next year, the network was a sponsor of the "presidential forum" at the Unity: Journalists of Color convention in Chicago, which attracted Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator from Illinois and Democratic presidential candidate. CNN aired Obama's portion live. CNN has been a consistent presence at NABJ's own events.

Word of the break between CNN and NABJ spread quickly on social media, with most reaction critical of CNN.

"You've got to be kidding me?!! That is the most unprofessional move of ALL time," wrote one.

"Why are we surprised. It is long past due for Black media professionals to collaborate and launch ventures," said another.

Butler told Journal-isms that although "they've basically ended the partnership . . . I'm hopeful this can be repaired."

Reports on Ebola Turned Toward Perspective This Week

"On October 10, two days after Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person to die from Ebola on US soil, news directors of Gannett TV stations discussed on a conference call how to stop the spread of a contagion," David Uberti reported Friday for Columbia Journalism Review. "The actual virus had killed only one person here, but judging from Gannett viewer feedback across the country, media hysteria — a different sort of pathogen — had already begun to infect Americans. So the news directors collectively decided to insert some balance back into the discussion.

"The TV stations partnered Thursday with Gannett newspapers, including USA Today, in publishing in-depth Ebola explainers on their websites, with interactive maps of the virus' origins, breakdowns of its symptoms and spread, and what readers can do to help stop it. Live-chats on air or online gave audiences direct access to experts. Gannett journalists nationwide, meanwhile, promoted the discussion on Twitter with a unified hashtag, #FactsNotFear.

" 'We believe, just as the medical profession has a duty to stop the spread of Ebola, we as journalists — and especially as local journalists — have a responsibility to stop the spread of fear and panic,' said Ellen Crooke, vice president of news at Gannett Broadcasting.

"The media's sense of urgency on Ebola in America was already crescendoing when Duncan died on October 8. And since then, amid endless speculation on cable programs, paranoid headlines in print and online tabloids, and the echo chamber that is Twitter, the hysteria has intensified without much context. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of Americans now fear a widespread epidemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, and that's despite previous attempts to stem the tide of fear-inducing coverage — CBS News and The Guardian respectively debunked virus myths on October 6 and October 9, for example.

"In the middle of this week, however, something appeared to change: Many journalists began countering the narrative that had taken shape, injecting perspective into coverage where it had been sorely lacking just days before.

"No national organization took an institutional stand similar to Gannett's, though the more restrained storylines were on full display by Wednesday. . . ."

A screen shot from a video released by Boko Haram in May, allegedly showing some of the kidnapped schoolgirls. (video)

Skepticism Greets News That Nigerian Girls Will Be Freed

"If it turns out to be true, this will be one of the biggest breakthroughs in Nigeria for decades... but many Nigerians are sceptical," according to Will Ross of the BBC.

"Nigeria's military says it has agreed [to] a ceasefire with Islamist militants Boko Haram — and that the schoolgirls the group has abducted will be released," the BBC reported on Friday.

"Nigeria's chief of defence staff, Alex Badeh, announced the truce. Boko Haram has not made a public statement.

"The group has been fighting an insurgency since 2009, with some 2,000 civilians reportedly killed this year.

"Boko Haram sparked global outrage six months ago by abducting more than 200 schoolgirls.

"The girls were seized in the north-eastern town of Chibok in Borno state, and their continued captivity has led to criticism of the Nigerian government's efforts to secure their release.

"Members of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign said in a tweet on Friday: 'We are monitoring the news with huge expectations.' . . ."

Artist Redraws Cartoon in Response to NAHJ Objections

The Daily News in New York wrote an editorial Friday addressing criticism over an editorial cartoon, but did not satisfy leaders of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

"A group of Mariachi musicians boarded a subway, played in hope of collecting tips — and gave editorial cartoonist Bob Eckstein a ready subject for sketching into pictorial comment," the editorial began.

"With a bit of whimsy, Eckstein placed the Mariachis atop an elevated train, along with a fleeing man saying, 'For the last time — I have no change.'

"Some were not amused. National Association of Hispanic Journalists President Mekahlo Medina, for example, wrote that the cartoon 'casts Mexican-Americans in a negative light as "annoyances" and outcasts.'

"How, we asked Alyshia Gálvez, director of the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute at Lehman College.

"She offered that the cartoon could be read to suggest Mariachis are the most aggressive panhandlers, that it could spark memories of former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker's 1999 rant about the No. 7 line and foreigners, and that Mexicans could see a negative reference to the trains that have transported young Central Americans up through Mexico to the U.S. border.

"We stand informed, and Bob has reposted the subway cartoon on without the Mariachis."

Medina, in Mexico for a regional conference, wrote his NAHJ colleagues on social media Friday, "It is not an apology, but it was a learning lesson for NY Daily News.

"I spoke with the Dep Exec Editor about the cartoon depicting Mariachis as 'annoyances' and [its] contribution to negative stereotypes of Latinos. The Daily News reposted the cartoon without the mariachis and wrote in a blog post: 'We stand informed, and Bob (cartoonist) has reposted the subway cartoon on without the Mariachis.'

"While we appreciate the repost, NAHJ still believes the New York Daily News needs better Latino representation in the editorial process. The cartoon was an avoidable mistake. No news organization in 2014 should have to [be] looking outside its newsroom to gauge [what's] sensitive to the Latino community.

"They should have Latinos working in those newsrooms at high levels to better [its] coverage for all first and secondly, to avoid these mistakes.

"NAHJ has offered help to better diversify the Daily News' staff and management. I'll keep you posted on if they take us up on that offer."

Univision Ends Newscasts at Puerto Rico TV Station

WLII Caguas, a Univision television station in Puerto Rico, ended its morning, noon and evening newscasts and laid off 109 employees in its news, production and promotion departments Friday, a network spokeswoman confirmed to Journal-isms.

TVNewsCheck, quoting the Spanish-language site, headlined its story, "Univision In Puerto Rico Ends Local Programming."

"We are not ending our local programming," spokeswoman Monica Talan, executive vice president of corporate communications and public relations, told Journal-isms by email.

"Headline is inaccurate but the rest of the story is somewhat accurate. Note Ruben & Company is being extended to a one hour show and is being moved to 5 pm (current affairs and talk). We also announced that we brought together television, radio and digital under one management team led by Juan Bauza . . . We also are issuing a RFP for new local programs that would air on Univision Canal 11." She referred to this news release.

Study Shows No Lack of Qualified Black, Latino Geeks

"Top universities turn out black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering graduates at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them, a USA TODAY analysis shows," Elizabeth Weise and Jessica Guynn reported Monday for USA Today.

"Technology companies blame the pool of job applicants for the severe shortage of blacks and Hispanics in Silicon Valley.

"But these findings show that claim 'does not hold water,' said Darrick Hamilton, [associate] professor of economics and urban policy at The New School in New York.

"What do dominant groups say? 'We tried, we searched but there was nobody qualified.' If you look at the empirical evidence, that is just not the case,' he said.

"As technology becomes a major engine of economic growth in the U.S. economy, tech companies are under growing pressure to diversify their workforces, which are predominantly white, Asian and male. Leaving African Americans and Hispanics out of that growth increases the divide between haves and have-nots. And the technology industry risks losing touch with the diverse nation — and world — that forms its customer base.

"On average, just 2% of technology workers at seven Silicon Valley companies that have released staffing numbers are black; 3% are Hispanic.

"But last year, 4.5% of all new recipients of bachelor's degrees in computer science or computer engineering from prestigious research universities were African American, and 6.5% were Hispanic, according to data from the Computing Research Association. . . ."

Bill O'Reilly, left, and Jon Stewart debate white privilege on "The O'Reilly Factor" on Wednesday. (video)

O'Reilly Tells Jon Stewart There Is No "White Privilege"

"Why does the concept of white people having privilege seem to stick in some white people's craw?" Jarvis DeBerry, columnist for and the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, asked on Friday.

"There is no way to fairly discuss the history of this country or fairly analyze the current state of things without acknowledging that white people, as a group, have had it easier than any other group. And because parents tend to pass property and other wealth to their children, how one's parents and grandparents were treated matters. It can mean the difference between starting with something and starting with nothing.

"David Low, a researcher at New York University, noted in a 2013 paper that 'high-earning married black households have, on average, less wealth than low-earning married white households.' Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at NYU, has published research that shows that black families that earn more than $100,000 annually live in the same kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by white families earning $30,000 a year.

"So if black people making lots of money have less wealth than white people who earn just a little, and if white people making $30K can live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by black households making six figures, what accounts for that other than the lingering and historical advantages of being white?

"Not surprisingly, Bill O'Reilly, host of 'The O'Reilly Factor' on Fox News, dismisses the concept of white privilege. He says there's no such thing, that it's disproved by the fact that in America, Asian households earn more on average than white households. Some Asian households do. Some don't. Much seems to depend on the Asian country of origin.

"Beyond that, you can find many pieces written by Asian-Americans disputing O'Reilly's argument as hogwash. . . ."

Chilling Series Captures Dangers of Women on Migrant Trail

"Beheadings. Modern day slavery. Forced prostitution. Murder. It would seem like something out of a horror movie," Kevin Olivas wrote Wednesday for "But it is all too real. One could be hard-pressed to find much in the way of coverage by English-language U.S. media of what so many people are trying to escape in Central America and why they would risk so much to come here.

"But that experience is captured vibrantly and chillingly in the series 'Trail of Fears' by reporter Maria Ines Zamudio and photographer Carlton Purvis, of 'The Commercial Appeal' of Memphis, Tenn.

" 'Last December/January, I went to Mexico for a family party. I took a few extra days to do some reporting in Lecheria, a common stop for migrants outside Mexico City. I interviewed some women there and I produced the story for NPR's Latino USA,' says Zamudio. 'During this reporting trip, which I funded myself, I realized that I wanted to look into the story in a more meaningful way. I started investigating the issue of human trafficking and other dangers women face along the migrant trail.'

"Zamudio earned a fellowship from the International Center for Journalists that was sponsored by the Ford Foundation to produce the series. . . ."

Short Takes

This columnist participated in a 36-minute conversation at the Newseum in Washington with Gene Policinski, chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute, on Oct. 7. The topic was the status of diversity in the news business. It was part of the 32nd Annual Everett C. Parker Lecture, which included an address by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. (video)
  • "As some companies like Fox and Lionsgate fight the issue of whether unpaid internships violate labor laws in court, at least one giant media company appears to putting the litigation to bed," Eriq Gardner reported Thursday for the Hollywood Reporter. "According to a letter that was filed by a lawyer representing former NBCUniversal interns, the parties will soon be submitting a motion for preliminary approval of the parties' settlement. . . ." 

  • "BuzzFeed is announcing today that it's hired Stacy-Marie Ishmael from the Financial Times to lead the editorial side of the BuzzFeed News app," Caroline O'Donovan reported Friday for NiemanLab. O'Donovan also wrote, "Ishmael is currently vice president of communities at the FT. She was one of the creators of the now-defunct FT Tilt and the early financial blog FT Alphaville. She also worked as a product manager at Percolate . . . Prior to all of that, Ishmael was a finance reporter, which means she has experience on both the editorial and product side of a newsroom." BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith "says he expects Ishmael will hire somewhere around seven or eight journalists to work on the app, some of whom will be internationally located in order to allow for 24/7 coverage. . . ."

  • The Pennsylvania State Senate on Thursday approved by a bipartisan 37-11 vote what emerged at the last-minute as a controversial bill to bolster crime victims' rights, Jan Murphy reported Thursday for the Patriot-News in Harrisburg. The legislation goes to Gov. Tom Corbett, who has said he would sign it. The measure was sparked by the choice of the graduating class of Vermont's Goddard College for prison journalist and convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal to deliver its commencement address via videotape. "The legislation would allow victims or prosecutors acting on their behalf to seek a injunctive relief to stop offenders from engaging in conduct that would cause 'temporary or permanent state of mental anguish' to the victim. . . ." Tony Norman column.

  • "An NPR podcast hatched from a friendship four years ago took a step in its evolution earlier this month, becoming a weekly radio show focused on Latino music and culture," Ben Mook reported Thursday for "Edited down from the weekly podcast's 40 minutes, the half-hour Alt.Latino debuted Oct. 2 and is airing on stations in four markets, including Denver and San Francisco. . . ."

  • "NBC Sports Digital has launched SportsWorld, a microsite within dedicated to long-form storytelling stocked with stories, essays, videos and documentary films — an attempt to engage sports fans beyond the news and scores of the day, in a spin similar to ESPN's Grantland," Todd Spangler reported Wednesday for Variety. A spokeswoman told Journal-isms that the site is using existing NBC Sports employees and is making no additional hires.

  • "The 34th Pulliam award goes to Farah Stockman of the Boston Globe, to study race relations since the city's school busing crisis and to seek solutions to lingering pains there and elsewhere," the Masthead, publication of the Association of Opinion Journalists, reported Sept. 26. It also said, "The Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing is presented by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, the educational arm of the Society of Professional Journalists. It awards $75,000 each year to an outstanding editorial writer or columnist to help broaden his or her journalistic horizons and knowledge of the world. . . ."

  • "With growing conflicts engulfing the Middle East, people in the region name religious and ethnic hatred most frequently as the greatest threat to the world," the Pew Research Center reported Thursday, summarizing the findings of a survey. "Moreover, publics across the globe see the threat of religious and ethnic violence as a growing threat to the world's future. But in Europe, concerns about inequality trump all other dangers and the gap between the rich and the poor is increasingly considered the world's top problem by people living in advanced economies, including the United States. . . ."

  • "A Chinese court on Friday jailed two journalists accused of taking bribes and smearing an engineering company with fabricated articles, one of a series of recent scandals surrounding the state-controlled media," Christopher Bodeen reported Friday for the Associated Press. He also wrote, "Experts say the corruption is enabled by China's lack of a free press and independent media watchdogs that could expose false reports."

  • Lee Ivory, who teaches journalism and multimedia at American University in Washington and is a freelance editor, Friday was named secretary of the National Association of Black Journalists. The NABJ board is meeting in Minneapolis this weekend. Ivory, a regional representative on the board, succeeds Corey Dade, who resigned after taking a public relations job as senior director with Burson–Martsteller. No new regional representative was named.

  • C-SPAN is broadcasting "Grading the News: Media Coverage of Ferguson Unrest," a "town hall" meeting at Harris-Stowe State University sponsored by the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists. It airs Saturday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern time. Participating are Aja Williams, president of the association; Bob Butler, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, who is moderating; Mariah Stewart, Huffington Post Ferguson Fellow and citizen journalist; Christopher Ave, political and national editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Bradley Rayford, freelance photographer and St. Louis Community College student; Patricia Bynes, Ferguson, Mo., township committeewoman (D); and Brittany Noble-Jones, reporter for KMOV-TV in St. Louis. Those who missed it may watch online on the C-SPAN website.

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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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Wow, R.P.! Your discussion with the Newseum's Gene Policinski on diversity in journalism's ranks hit the sweet spot in terms of addressing this matter in the 21st Century.  Truly it's as simple as four choice words you mentioned: "cultural competency" and "news literacy." Not only is that a "must" for practicing journalists and news editors, but it really starts in the basic, starting ranks of our profession--in scholastic journalism, an arena that clearly understands its role in journalism, but sometimes overlooks how important it is for the two areas to be combined for the betterment of a more learned and literate society.  Hope secondary and college educators as well as those folks who work with students in journalism workshops get a chance to view this segment. Good stuff shared!  

Cross-Postings from The Root

Patrick Anderson

last hired, first fired. cnn in its response "that the network was withdrawing its support of the association's 2015 convention" seems to think it is the only show in town. others will fill the void!


Reality stings. This incident demonstrates our organizations' (1) dependence and (2) impotence. It would be great, however, if the NABJ responds: "okay, but our complaint against you (CNN) still stands!"

Let's see.


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