Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Columnist Reassigned After Assault Charge

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Updated December 3

James Ragland Denies Wrongdoing; Wife Granted Protection

Greg Moore to Oversee Additional Newsrooms

Sportswriter Allen Wilson Dies After Battling Leukemia

NABJ Leader Gives Thumbs Down to Thumbs Down Award

Time Magazine's Cover Choices Leave Some Anxious

Blacks, Latinos More Likely to Believe in Global Warming

Journalist Fired, Deported After HIV Test Result

Ray Taliaferro Out as Bay Area Station Goes All-News

Stanley Robertson, Ex-Newsman, Hollywood Pioneer, Was 85

Andre Coe, AP Editorial Assistant, Dies at 36

Short Takes

James Ragland Denies Wrongdoing; Wife Granted Protection

Dallas Morning News James Ragland (Credit: WFAA_TV)columnist James Ragland will be reassigned to reporting in neighboring Collin County, Texas, while his arrest on a domestic assault charge is adjudicated, Morning News Editor Bob Mong told Journal-isms on Friday.

"There's no way he can continue his column where he isn't facing some inevitable conflict," Mong said. "He writes about the criminal justice system, the police . . . there's nothing he could do that wouldn't put him in a conflict."

First, however, Ragland will take two or three weeks off to attend to his affairs, Mong said.

Scott Goldstein recounted the turn of events in a story for Saturday's editions:

"Dallas police arrested Ragland on Sunday after his wife, Shannon Morley-Ragland, 42, accused him of pushing her to the floor and grabbing her by the hair during an argument at their Lake Highlands home. Ragland posted bond and was released from the Dallas County Jail later that day.

"On Tuesday, Ragland’s wife filed for divorce, according to public records. She cited 'discord or conflict of personalities' between them. The couple has two children together.

"A judge on Sunday granted Ragland's wife an emergency protection order which prohibits him from coming into contact with her.

"Morley-Ragland could not be reached for comment. Her attorney, Aimee Pingenot, said in a written statement Friday: 'At this time she does
not have any comments to make to the press, besides a request for privacy for her and her family during this time.'

"According to police documents, Ragland and his wife began arguing late Saturday night over her texting someone. The argument at their home allegedly continued into the morning; Morley-Ragland said her husband at one point threw her cell phone at her.

"She told police that as she was getting ready for church Sunday morning, Ragland pushed her down and pulled her hair, the documents said.

"Morley-Ragland then drove to Dallas Bible Church in the 15700 block of Hillcrest Road. Other people there saw that she was upset and called 911. Two officers were at the church when Ragland arrived and arrested him."

The story also said, "In a written statement Friday, Ragland denied the charge, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

" 'I ask for your patience and prayers for my family as this matter proceeds through the legal system,' Ragland said. 'I am confident that it will be shown that I am innocent of these allegations. My priority for the future remains being the best father to my children that I can possibly be.'

"Ragland, 50, a News columnist since 2000, is also an adjunct journalism professor at Richland College. An official there said his status has not changed."

On the Morning News website, Ragland lists this as his career track: "The Dallas Morning News, reporter, 1985-91. The Washington Post, reporter, 1991-94. The Dallas Morning News, editor, 1994-99. For academic year 1999-2000, I participated in a customized Belo training program and served as a visiting professor of journalism and adviser to the president, TAMU [Texas A&M University] -Commerce. The Dallas Morning News, columnist, writing for the Metropolitan and Texas Living sections, 2000-present."

Greg Moore to Oversee Additional Newsrooms

Gregory L. Moore"Greg Moore, editor of The Denver Post, will oversee newsgathering operations at other Digital First Media newspapers in Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico and Texas, and other Post executives have been given new corporate duties, John Paton, CEO of the newspaper's parent company, announced Thursday," Mark Harden reported for the Denver Business Journal.

"As Digital First's 'central editor,' Moore will oversee newsrooms at such Digital First newspapers as the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, the El Paso (Texas) Times and the Boulder [Colo.] Camera. He will remain the Post's editor as well.

"Digital First is the new umbrella company that now runs both Denver-based MediaNews Group Inc., the Post's operator, and Yardley, Pa.-based Journal Register Co."

"Great opportunity and I am excited," Moore said on his Facebook page. He will remain in Denver, Jim Brady, the editor-in-chief of Digital First Media to whom Moore and other editors will report, told Journal-isms.

According to a bio prepared for his service on the Pulitzer Prize board, which he joined in 2004, "Gregory L. Moore has been editor of the Denver Post since June 2002. Prior to that, he was managing editor of the Boston Globe.

"The Cleveland native graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1976 with a degree in journalism and political science. Later that year, he became a reporter for Dayton, Ohio's Journal Herald and covered a number of beats, including city hall. In 1980, Moore returned to Cleveland, where he spent six years and covered county and city government before being named state political editor and then day city editor for the Plain Dealer."

Sportswriter Allen Wilson Dies After Battling Leukemia

"Allen Wilson, an award-winning sportswriter and columnist for The Allen WilsonBuffalo News, died today after a battle with leukemia at Roswell Park Cancer Institute," Mark Gaughan reported Saturday for the News. "He was 49.

"Wilson worked for The News for the past 20 years and was a Buffalo Bills beat reporter since 1999.

"He was widely respected among journalists and by the teams he covered for his astute knowledge of sports and for his commitment to fairness and accuracy.

"He was honored five times in the past decade alone by the New York State Associated Press Association for both sports reporting and column writing. He won the AP's distinguished sports reporting award in 2007 for a two-part series he wrote on former prep basketball star Ritchie Campbell." [Added Dec. 3]

NABJ Leader Gives Thumbs Down to Thumbs Down Award

Gregory H. Lee Jr.The Thumbs Down Award of the National Association of Black Journalists, a succinct expression of disapproval bestowed on and off for two decades, is being retired, NABJ President Gregory H. Lee Jr. told Journal-isms on Friday.

The award was not given in 2010 or 2011 despite vigorous debate by the NABJ boards, and had become susceptible to inconsistencies and conflicts of interest, Lee said.

The downward thumb was to be "awarded to an individual or organization for especially insensitive, racist or stereotypical reporting, commentary, photography or a cartoon about the black community published or aired during the eligibility period, or for engaging in practices at odds with the goals of the National Association of Black Journalists," according to an NABJ description.

But sometimes those nominated were the employers of board members who then felt uncomfortable, or were companies that NABJ was wooing for sponsorships. Last year, board members said privately, the intention was to give the award to Internet companies that refused to disclose their diversity statistics. This year, according to Sept. 7 board minutes [PDF for NABJ members], "The award was given to all cable networks for a lack of primetime on-air diversity."

Lee said the decision was made in executive session and thus was not an official board action.

Instead, Lee said he has charged the NABJ's Media Monitoring Committee with developing an annual report card where "everyone will be placed on alert, good or bad. No company will be left out, from the New York Times to Gannett, from NBC to ABC."

The Thumbs Down awards began in 1989, with the initial recipients NBC News for the derisive tone of its obituary of Max Robinson, the first black network anchor, who died of AIDS, and columnist Pat Buchanan, who wrote, "if a young black or a young white male, sidles up to ask directions, and one of the two is a robber, rapist or killer, the odds are at least 11-to-1 that it is the black male," as Jet magazine recounted at the time. Buchanan would become a repeat winner.

Other Thumbs Down recipients have included the New Republic in 1995 for an attack on Cornel West under the guise of describing "The Decline of the Black Intellectual," Black Entertainment Television in 2006 for failing to join others in live coverage of the funerals of Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, and JoAnn Haysbert, the Hampton University provost who in 2003 ordered that copies of the student newspaper be seized.

In 1991, Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle was cited for telling a television interviewer, "I know more about being black, being under siege in this city, than any other black writer or black TV person you can name or find."

Told of his selection, Barnicle said, "I never actually received anything from them, not an award or even a gift certificate, but I'm very proud to have received any award." Seven years later, Barnicle was fired for ethical violations.

The board's executive-session vote this year followed NABJ complaints that the weekday prime-time lineup on the cable news networks had no hosts or anchors of color. After those complaints, the Rev. Al Sharpton was named to host "PoliticsNation" in MSNBC's pre-prime time 6 p.m. slot.

MSNBC's parent NBCUniversal and its rival CNN had previously been cited by NABJ for their diversity efforts.

Naturally, these networks were not pleased when they learned of their Thumbs Down selection, even though it was never awarded.

Jeremy M. Gaines, spokesman for MSNBC, told Journal-isms on Friday, "We couldn't disagree more strongly with their decision. We're very proud of MSNBC's record of diversity both on and off air. It's no accident that MSNBC is the number one cable news channel among African American viewers."

Paula Madison, who retired this year as executive vice president and chief diversity officer for NBCUniversal, and is honorary chairwoman of NABJ's 2012 convention, said by email, ". . . diversity in primetime on cable networks as well as broadcast networks remains an area that needs continued attention.

"As you know, I was a major advocate of MSNBC's hiring of Rev. Al Sharpton to host their 6p show, Politics Nation. Al's ratings among Blacks are particularly impressive. I hope the show's ratings improve to the point where MSNBC would consider moving it to prime." Madison is also a board member of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

'Why is anxiety the most pressing issue in the U.S. while the Egyptian revolution gets front-page treatment internationally?' read a typical email.

Time Magazine's Cover Choices Leave Some Anxious

The Dec. 5 cover of the U.S. edition of Time featured "Anxiety," while the European, Asian and South Pacific editions showcased turmoil in Egypt, as emailers and bloggers pointed out this week. "And some wonder why Americans Are So Dumbed Down?" read the subject line of one email.

Time responded in its issue published Friday:

"Last week’s issue also caused considerable consternation among bloggers and readers, who objected to our putting the protests in Egypt inside our domestic edition and on the cover overseas. 'Why is anxiety the most pressing issue in the U.S. while the Egyptian revolution gets front-page treatment internationally?' read a typical e-mail. Observers at ShortFormBlog analyzed a year’s worth of our covers and concluded each edition gets the same amount of hard news, give or take an issue or two. We’re glad to be held to high expectations, especially when the bar is set by one of our own editions."

A 12-day round of U.N. talks on climate change is under way in Durban, South Africa. This Agence France-Presse video discussed Greenpeace's efforts at the talks. (Video)

Blacks, Latinos More Likely to Believe in Global Warming

Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to say there is solid evidence of global warming [PDF], according to a national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released Thursday.

Asked whether Earth was warming, 59 percent of white non-Hispanics said yes, compared with 69 percent of black non-Hispanics and 74 percent of Hispanics.

Asked to choose a reason, 33 percent of white non-Hispanics said "mostly human activity," compared with 40 percent of blacks non-Hispanics and 56 percent of Hispanics.

Overall, the center said, "The percentage of Americans who say there is solid evidence of global warming has increased modestly over the past two years. Currently, 63% say there is solid evidence that the earth’s average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades. In October 2009, 57% expressed this view."

The survey coincided with the U.N. climate summit in Durban, South Africa, which continues until Dec. 9.

"The main aim . . . is to produce an agreement about targets for emissions by developed countries, and longer term targets from developing countries," Julian Hunt wrote Friday for Canada's Ottawa Citizen."But with sudden switches in energy policies, environmental regulations and accidents such as Fukushima in Japan, plus increasing financial fragility, national governments are increasingly aware of how policy in these areas impacts on everyone’s lives as well as the economy."

Shawn McCarthy wrote in Toronto's Globe and Mail:

"The rains have not come to the North African Sahel this season, and many Africans leaders believe the looming hunger crisis is the result of man-made climate change that developed countries have imposed on the world.

"It is impossible to pin any one weather event on climate change – droughts have happened throughout the history of the region. But African negotiators gathering in Durban, South Africa, believe they are the canaries in the coal mine, arguing they have seen more extreme weather in recent years than at any previous time.

". . . . 'Climate change is our war on terror,' says Seyni Nafo, a Mali native and senior negotiator for the African delegation at Durban. 'Climate change is really threatening the very parameters on which life can be sustained and Mali is on the front line. So for us, the issue needs to be confronted now.' "

Journalist Fired, Deported After HIV Test Result

"On Wednesday, human rights watchdog Section 27 fingered Al Jazeera English and the State of Qatar for infringing on the human rights of people living with HIV," Khadija Patel wrote from Johannesburg Thursday for iMaverick, South Africa's first daily tablet newspaper.

"A South African journalist is reported to have been detained in a Doha prison, dismissed from his position at Al Jazeera and deported from Qatar — all because an HIV test taken without his consent returned a positive result.

"Human rights organisation, Section27 incorporates the Aids Law Project, described as one of South Africa's most successful post-apartheid human rights organisations. On Wednesday, Section27 revealed that a journalist from South Africa had suffered discrimination by Al Jazeera English. The journalist, whose identity has not been revealed, accepted a job as a senior editor with Al Jazeera in October 2010 and relocated to Doha. Two months after his arrival, he was sent for a battery of medical tests.

"Section27 alleges that he was not informed which tests in particular were being conducted, nor was he informed of the results of any of these tests.

"A month later he had not received the results of his blood tests and then underwent blood tests at his own expense at a private clinic in Doha. When he returned for his results later that evening, he was chased off the clinic premises by clinic staff and security guards.

"The following day he was called to a meeting at Al Jazeera's offices where he was ordered to get into a car. He was taken to Doha Prison, where he is said to have been detained in a crowded cell and was forced to undergo a full medical examination, including a full body search, in view of other prisoners.

"After his release from the Doha Prison, he was ordered to leave Qatar within 48 hours, failing which he would be arrested. He was also informed that his employment contract had been terminated.

"Section27 claims that it was only upon his return to South Africa that he discovered that he had been infected with HIV and that his HIV status was the reason for his arrest, incarceration, dismissal and deportation. . . ."

Ray Taliaferro was inducted this year into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame. (Credit: Sarah Adler)

Ray Taliaferro Out as Bay Area Station Goes All-News

"A big shakeup is coming to KGO radio: Many of its most recognizable voices are being let go as the station, which can be heard up and down the West Coast, switches to 'all-news' format from 2 p.m. to midnight starting Monday," Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross wrote Friday for the San Francisco Chronicle.

". . . Among those who will leave the station are talk-show veterans Gene Burns, Gil Gross, Ray Taliaferro and John Rothmann."

When Taliaferro was inducted this year into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame, NABJ said, "Ray was the first black talk show host on a major market radio station in the country. Taliaferro has literally owned the Bay Area's overnight radio listening audience since 1986 when his talk show moved to the 1 to 5 a.m. time slot."

Stanley Robertson, Ex-Newsman, Hollywood Pioneer, Was 85

"Stanley Robertson, a pioneering African-American television and film executive in the 1970s and ’80s, died Nov. 16 at his home in Bel-Air. He was 85," Mike Barnes reported for the Hollywood Reporter on Friday.

Stanley Robertson"Believed to be the first African-American to hold the position of vice president at both a major TV network and a motion picture studio, Robertson developed and produced 'Harris and Company,' a short-lived 1979 NBC show that starred Bernie Casey and was the first weekly dramatic series to depict a black family.

"Later, he executive produced the Bill Cosby comedy 'Ghost Dad' (1990) and 'Men of Honor' (2000), which starred Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. in the story of the first African-American, and the first amputee, to become a U.S. Navy diver.

". . . After receiving a degree from Los Angeles City College in 1949, Robertson worked for two years as a general assignment reporter for The Los Angeles Sentinel, then the largest-circulated black newspaper in the West. He rose to become managing editor, then departed for an associate editor position at Ebony magazine.

"Determined to learn and work in the entertainment business, [Robertson] left Ebony and went back to school in 1954 to study telecommunications at USC. He became a page at NBC in 1957, then joined the network’s music clearance department before eventually landing the vp job at the network, where he was responsible for programming produced on NBC’s primetime schedule."

Andre Coe, AP Editorial Assistant, Dies at 36

"Andre Coe, a former editorial assistant in the Dallas bureau of The Associated Press and the cooperative’s regional news desk in Phoenix, died Friday," the AP reported from Dallas on Friday. "He was 36.

Andre Coe"During his career at the AP, Coe reported from the Texas Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Ike in 2008, and was one of the first reporters to arrive at the scene of a bus crash that killed 17 passengers in Sherman earlier that year. He wrote about the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the return of US Airways Capt. Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, who successfully landed a passenger jet in the Hudson River in 2009, to his hometown of Denison.

" 'Andre would appear in our cramped newsroom after a long day out in the wet heat of a summer disturbed by Ike, drop a backpack heavy with gear, and inquire about our story,' said David Scott, the AP’s Central Regional editor. 'Invariably, it was a story for which he’d again earned the byline, having dictated throughout the day the details and interviews that made it work.'

"Coe had just started working as an editorial assistant at the AP’s West Regional desk in 2010 when he was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer."

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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