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CNN: We're Keeping Our Cairo Team Safe

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cooper, Amanpour Among Journalists Attacked by Loyalists

Neal Scarbrough a Casualty of Comcast Takeover

People en Español Garners Notable Following on Twitter

Murdoch, Apple Introduce the Daily, a News App for iPads

Ohio Governor's Cabinet Appointments No Longer All White

Immigrant Program Found Also to Deport Non-Criminals

Scottish-Born Comic Devotes Show to Black History

"Boot Camp" for Opinion Writing Taking Applications

Short Takes

The CNN crew accompanying Anderson Cooper kept cameras rolling as they were attacked in Cairo's Tahrir Square. (Video)

Cooper, Amanpour Among Journalists Attacked by Loyalists

After anchor Anderson Cooper and his crew were among journalists attacked in Cairo Wednesday by forces loyal to President Hosni Mubarak, CNN issued a statement of reassurance saying its security teams on the ground are equipped to handle such "hostile situations."

By 9 p.m. Wednesday, government officials said, about 600 people had been injured and three killed as Mubarak struck back at his opponents, "unleashing waves of his supporters armed with clubs, rocks, knives and firebombs in a concerted assault on thousands of anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square calling for an end to his authoritarian rule," the New York Times reported. ". . . . More than 150 people have died in the week of violence, human rights groups say."

Cooper and his crew were attacked early in the day. "We were set upon by pro-Mubarak supporters punching us in the head, attacking my producer Marianne Fox and my cameraman as well as trying to grab his camera, trying to break his camera," Cooper said on the air. "They didn't want any pictures taken," he added.

He tweeted, "Its getting really bad in front of egyptian museum. Got roughed up by thugs in pro-mubarak crowd..punched and kicked repeatedly. Had to escape. Safe now."

Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, told Journal-isms in a statement, "CNN does have security teams on the ground in Cairo. Our outstanding staff there are amongst our most experienced and well trained when it comes to coping with hostile situations.

"At headquarters we continue to co-ordinate closely with our folks on the ground to ensure we continue to manage risk and provide compelling coverage." He did not elaborate.

ABC's Christiane Amanpour said that she and a crew came under attack from a "mob," the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

"In a reporter's notebook released by ABC News, the attack occurred during an attempt to film on a bridge into Tahrir Square.

" 'An angry mob surrounded us and chased us into the car shouting that they hate America,' she reported. 'They kicked in the car doors and broke our windshield as we drove away.' "

Other journalists familiar to Americans tweeted from the scene. Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times, wrote, "Mubarak thugs targeted journalists, to keep us from covering his crackdown. Hmph. Makes us all the more determined."

Kim Fox, apparently one of the few African Americans there, wrote, "The negative turn of events is so disheartening. People have to know that today's events are the work of Mubarak."

Fox, who spoke to Journal-isms via Skype from Cairo, said she was disappointed by the snippets of Al-Jazeera, the BBC and CNN that she saw during the week of protests. "It hasn't presented a full picture," she said, failing to convey the collegiality and helpfulness of the Egyptians. Fox, who is from Ohio, has been teaching radio journalism at the American University in Cairo. "I feel more safe here than I do in the United States," she said. A tour guide whom she hadn't seen since last year called to ask how she was doing, "and others have done the same."

Fox was critical of the U.S. government for not pressing Mubarak more forcefully to leave. "Now the U.S. government is putting pressure because they see that the government is playing dirty," she said, speaking of the violent turn of events on Wednesday.

Playing dirty included harassing journalists.

Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, enumerated the attacks on journalists and wrote, "The Egyptian government is employing a strategy of eliminating witnesses to their actions. The government has resorted to blanket censorship, intimidation, and today a series of deliberate attacks on journalists carried out by pro-government mobs. The situation is frightening not only because our colleagues are suffering abuse but because when the press is kept from reporting, we lose an independent source of crucial information."

In another summary of the actions against journalists, J. David Goodman of the New York Times reported, "The attacks on reporters came as Internet access was restored in Egypt for the first time since last week, and many Egyptian bloggers began posting in earnest.

"Egyptian state television also began showing images from Tahrir Square for the first time, focusing on supporters of Mr. Mubarak and scenes of pitched street battles. It appeared likely that both moves by the government were directed at painting a violent image of the antigovernment protesters."

Neal Scarbrough a Casualty of Comcast Takeover

Neal Scarbrough, a veteran of both newspaper and online sports journalism who since 2008 has been vice president of digital media for Versus, a subsidiary of Comcast, has become one of the first casualties of the Comcast takeover of NBC Universal, Richard Sandomir reported Wednesday for the New York Times.

"Dick Ebersol, who has run NBC Sports for nearly 22 years, is wasting little time putting his personal stamp on the sports properties of Comcast, which include the Golf Channel and Versus, and 11 regional sports networks," Sandomir wrote.

Neal Scarbrough"NBC executives with long connections to Ebersol are adding new roles at the Comcast units five days after Comcast took control of NBC Universal. Some Versus officials lost their jobs.

"Jamie Davis lost his job as president of Versus, but will work with Mark Lazarus, a former Turner sports and entertainment executive, who was named president of the NBC Sports Cable Group to oversee the Golf Channel, Versus and the regional sports networks.

". . . Among others dismissed at Versus were Leon Schweir, the executive producer; Mike Baker, the coordinating producer for N.H.L. games; and Neal Scarborough, Versus’s vice president of digital media. Moving in to take over all studio operations will be Michael Bass, the former producer of NBC’s 'Today' show and CBS’s 'Early Show.' "

"As I know well, these things happen when a media business has to change," Scarbrough told Journal-isms by e-mail.

"We kind of were starting from scratch when I got there. And it was fun pushing the rock up the hill ... every day.

"I actually very much appreciated my days as a Comcaster. ... and they were more than fair through this change.


"Well, I had been focused on the new NBC Universal for a while ... But I have time to focus on me and my family and to pursue to right opportunity ...

"It's an exciting time to a be multi-platform media person.

"First thing I'm going to do, though, is nothing — for a short while. That rock was really heavy ... "

Versus claimed to feature "the best field sports programming on television." "VERSUS celebrates real competition across all platforms (, VERSUS on Demand and VERSUS HD)," the company said when Scarbrough was named. "Now in more than 73 million homes, the network is the national cable home of the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Stanley Cup Playoffs as well as best-in-class events such as The Tour de France, Davis Cup Tennis, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), the Indy Racing League and Professional Boxing."

Scarbrough joined Versus from Wasserman Media Group/Sportnet, where as vice president and editor-in-chief, he oversaw content strategy, operations and production across a network of sports web start-ups.

"Prior to Sportnet, Scarbrough served as the General Manager and Editor of AOL Sports where he was responsible for content, programming and business development for the site. During his time at AOL Sports, he was responsible for the launch of Fanhouse, the top-ranked sports blog in the country. Before joining AOL Sports he was Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of During his tenure at, he directed editorial operations for the network’s websites and managed the implementation of several breakthrough features and sections including ESPN Motion, SportsNation, Page 3 and the interactive news and chat forum Primetime HQ," that announcement said.

When readers "realize their voices have been heard, we get more followers," says Ernesto Sanchez, the editor of

People en Español Garners Notable Following on Twitter

A tally of the 50 magazines with the largest followings on Twitter shows People en Español as the only one targeting readers of color, Folio magazine reported on Tuesday. With 122,386 followers, the Time Inc. publication ranked 46.

"There are eight magazine brands with more than a million followers, and 14 with more than half a million, while the newspaper industry has just two: the New York Times (2,882,697) and Wall Street Journal (618,751)," Folio said.

Ernesto Sanchez, the editor of, told Journal-isms through a spokeswoman:

"At the beginning, we started out on Twitter to post information about our news stories appearing on our website. But when I saw our Twitter followers quickly growing, I started to pay closer attention to what was going on. It turns out we were having hundred of replies to everything we posted. I would spend hours reading what our followers had to say, and that’s really where our strategy was born; to develop a passionate audience and listen to them.

"Our Twitter followers have an opinion on everything. I invite them to submit their opinions for stories, photo galleries, and polls for, and when they realize their voices have been heard, we get more followers. The numbers keep growing and the momentum has been steady. We are the only Spanish-language magazine to have such a high engagement with Twitter, and for this, we are extremely proud."

People spokeswoman Amy Galleazzi said that all told, about 4 million users follow People's brands, including People en Español, Moms & Babies, Pets, StyleWatch and the main People feed on Twitter.

Folio said, however, that "despite their growing presence on the microblogging platform, magazine publishers have yet to figure out how to monetize their Twitter followings."

O: The Oprah Magazine, a venture between Hearst Magazines and Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Entertainment Group that targets a general audience, was ranked No. 43.

Murdoch, Apple Introduce the Daily, a News App for iPads

"Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday pushed the send button on The Daily, a news application designed for the iPad that he hopes will position his News Corporation front and center in the digital newsstand of the future," Jeremy W. Peters and Brian Stelter reported for the New York Times.

". . . The Daily will be a first of its kind for tablet computers: a general interest publication that will refresh every morning and will bill customers’ credit cards each week for 99 cents or each year for $40.

"In journalistic and marketing ambition and scope, The Daily recalls USA Today when it began in 1982: a publication of no city or region that aspires to be a first-read in the homes of millions of Americans despite having no brand recognition."

On the Poynter Institute website on Tuesday, Damon Kiesow documented 55 of the Daily's purported 100 employees, and they included a few journalists of color. The web page shows photos of the editors.

Fox News Channel was criticized for televising live the news conference launching the product while news was breaking in Egypt. "Ironically, the Murdoch-led press conference was introduced by Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, an individual who has repeatedly reported the relevance of the Egyptian uprising on the price of oil. The decision to go with The Daily press event over the revolution in Egypt seems odd at best," Colby Hall wrote for Mediaite.


The Plain Dealer ran this illustration last month with the story, "Ohio Gov. John Kasich's 20 Cabinet appointments so far lack diversity."

Ohio Governor's Cabinet Appointments No Longer All White

"With only three posts left to fill on what had been an all-white cabinet, Gov. John Kasich today made his first minority appointment, naming Michael B. Colbert to head the giant Ohio Department of Job and Family Services," Joe Hallett reported Wednesday in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch.

"Colbert, who is black, had been serving as interim director of the department since Jan. 9, when the former director, Douglas E. Lumpkin, stepped down a day before Kasich's inauguration. Lumpkin, who also is black, on Monday was named chief operating officer for Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted."

The state's news media had called attention to the Kasich cabinet's lack of diversity. Two African American columnists have debated it. In the Plain Dealer of Cleveland, Phillip Morris wrote a column headlined, "The race of Gov. John Kasich's all-white Cabinet only matters if he fails to create jobs."

On, Mansfield B. Frazier responded with,"Is Phillip Morris an Uncle Tom?" and "Retort — A Tom is Still a Tom."

Immigrant Program Found Also to Deport Non-Criminals

"Secure Communities, a federal immigration-enforcement program designed to identify and deport violent illegal immigrants, has increasingly targeted and deported undocumented immigrants with no criminal backgrounds," Thomas Francis reported Monday for the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

The center was founded in September as the nation’s first nonprofit, digital and bilingual investigative journalism organization.

"Nationwide, according to a Florida Center for Investigative Reporting analysis of data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 28 percent of the 75,461 immigrants deported since Secure Communities’ inception in 2008 have been 'non-criminal' immigrants, while just 23 percent of those detained and deported have convictions for violent crimes such as murder or rape. Federal officials classify 'non-criminals' as those who have been booked by police for an alleged crime but never convicted."


Professor Cornel West with Craig Ferguson, who admitted how awkward it feels for a white man to initiate a conversation about the history of black people.

Scottish-Born Comic Devotes Show to Black History

"One of the most important, overlooked notions in talking about the history of race in America, is that these discussions are not just about people of color. White folks have an important seat at the table, too," Eric Deggans wrote on Tuesday for his St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times media blog.

"Which is why I was so impressed and gratified to see that Scottish-born comic Craig Ferguson decided to devote all of this evening's show to an exploration of Black History Month with noted academic Dr. Cornel West and Funk master George Clinton.

"Over time, the TV industry has grown used to treating February as a repository for 30-second public service announcements and a few documentaries on the civil rights movement.

"But Ferguson will devote an entire show tonight to the history of a group which doesn't traditionally watch his program — during a month when much of the country is in an important 'sweeps' ratings period. His goal: '(to get to) know my country better and be a better American.' And one of the first things he did for the broadcast, which was distributed days in advance to critics like me, was admit how awkward it feels for a white man to initiate a conversation about the history of black people."

Meanwhile, the cable industry announced that for Black History Month, "viewers wanting to get a peek at the cross-section of On Demand programming can visit to discover the TV shows and movies their cable providers have waiting. To make it easy to see what’s available, the programming is broken into four distinct categories including Milestones in Black History; Profiles in Courage; Powerful Portrayals; and That’s Entertainment."

There have been other pieces about Black History Month and continued reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

"Boot Camp" for Opinion Writing Taking Applications

"March 3 is the deadline to apply for the 16th annual Minority Writers Seminar to be held April 14-17 at the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee," the National Conference of Editorial Writers announced this week.

" 'Experienced minority journalists receive intense training for writing opinion in a 'boot camp' environment, said Neil Heinen, president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers Foundation, sponsor of the highly successful seminar in partnership with the Diversity Institute.

"Enrollment is limited to 12, and minority journalists who have been writing opinion less than two years may apply. NCEW Foundation pays for lodging and food at the Seminar and reimburses up to $200 each for transportation to and from Nashville. . . . "

For more information and to apply online, go to  

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 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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Geography Lesson--Egypt & Tunisia

Correspondents and the media chatterers continue to refer to  Egypt as if it's in the Middle East. Please let them know that Egypt is an African nation. Tunisia is in northern Africa. Either they don't know geography or they want to downplay the connection to the "Cradle/Motherland." Another teachable moment being lost for our young black kids.

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