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Columnist Navarrette Laid Off in San Diego

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Syndicated Opinions Will Continue, Commentator Says

Memphis Opinion Editor Otis Sanford to Move to Academia

Cameraman Kills Intruder at Dallas Area Poker Game

NAHJ's Hugo Balta Lands as Managing Editor at WCBS

Lakers' Victory Game Grabs Top NBA Ratings Since '98

Essence Reports Advertising Revenues on the Rebound

Obama Meets Pundits in Off-the-Record Lunch

Story on Asian American Poverty Among AAJA Winners

Short Takes

Syndicated Opinions Will Continue, Commentator Says

Ruben Navarrette Jr.Ruben Navarrette Jr., the most widely syndicated Hispanic columnist in the mainstream news media, is being laid off from his job as editorial writer and columnist at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Navarrette confirmed on Friday.

Navarrette's columns will continue, however, James Hill, managing editor of the Washington Post Writers Group, told Journal-isms. Syndicated by the Writers Group since 2002, Navarrette's column appears twice a week and has 111 clients, Hill said. will also continue to publish a Navarrette column, spokeswoman Jennifer Martin said. It runs weekly under a freelance contract and differs from the pieces for the Washington Post Writers Group.

In all, Navarrette told Journal-isms, "I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. I write 15,000 words a month," counting freelance columns and speeches. He also appears weekly in the Friday "barbershop" segment of National Public Radio's "Tell Me More." [audio]

Navarrette said he plans to continue to build "Ruben Navarrette Inc." but was concerned about decreasing diversity at the Union-Tribune. His 2005 arrival, he said, meant the editorial board's 10 members included an African American, a Latino and a woman. With his departure, "everybody left on the editorial board is a white male."

Editorial Page Editor Bill Osborne could not be reached. In the most recent census of the American Society of News Editors, released in April, the Union-Tribune reported 18.4 percent journalists of color, including 5.5 percent Asian Americans, 2.5 percent blacks, 10.4 percent Hispanics and no Native Americans.

Navarrette's layoff of is part of a restructuring of the paper, which was sold by the Copley family last year to the Beverly Hills private equity firm Platinum Equity. Among others reported among the layoffs is Ozzie Roberts, a black journalist who has written for the Union-Tribune or the old San Diego Tribune at least since 1983.

"We are making changes, beginning today, to build a different kind of newsroom at the Union-Tribune, one that can thrive in an environment of efficiency, fast change and multimedia demand," Editor Jeff Light told readers Thursday evening in a note on the paper's website.

"We have new people arriving, and others departing," he said, naming some who are arriving but not those who are leaving.

However, Rob Davis and Randy Dotinga reported for the Web-only Voice of San Diego:

"About 35 newsroom employees were laid off at The San Diego Union-Tribune on Thursday, the seventh round of job cuts in the last four years and the first under the newspaper's new editor.

"The layoffs, part of a planned reorganization, included familiar bylines: nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette and veteran reporters such as Anne Krueger (East County), Jeff Ristine (Just Fix It), Leslie Berestein (the U.S.-Mexico border), Michael Burge (North County) and John Marelius (politics).

"It continues the slimming of the newspaper, which since late 2006 has cut more than half its staff to combat sagging advertising revenues."

The Voice of San Diego listed these other laid-off employees: Leonel Sanchez, reporter; Tovin Lapan, reporter; Roberts; Bruce Lieberman, reporter; Jeff Dillon,; Robert Pincus, critic; David Gaddis Smith, editor; Steve Adamek, copy editor; Martin Zimmerman, copy editor; Derrik Chinn, content producer; Marcia Manna, community news writer; Leana DeKock, sports desk.

Navarrette, 43, joined the Union-Tribune after having served on the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News since 2000. "In 1997 he joined the staff of The Arizona Republic, first as a reporter and then as a twice-weekly columnist, before returning to Harvard in the fall of 1999 to earn a master's in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government," according to his bio.

He said he began contacting prospective editorial-page employers eight days ago, noting to them that he has written editorials by day and his column by night. They were receptive, he said. He remains at Union-Tribune for about a month.

Navarrette writes frequently about immigration issues and has been critical of President Obama.

In a 3,000-word piece for Latino Magazine, Navarrette graded Obama on his first 500 days.

"I'm making it my personal mission - in my columns, speeches, radio and TV commentary," he wrote, "to ask my fellow Latinos: How's that hope and change working for you? And, for many, the answer is: 'Not so good.'

". . . Add up that report card, and you can see, Mr. President, why many Latinos take the view that you've been a better-than-average president as far as their community and its issues are concerned. And yet, at the same time, you haven't been nearly as good as advertised. There is still time to be better."

Opinion Editor Otis Sanford to Move to Academia

Otis SanfordOtis Sanford, editor of opinions and editorials at the Memphis Commercial Appeal, is leaving in January to fill a chair at the University of Memphis' College of Communications and Fine Arts, he told Journal-isms. As things now stand, that will leave six black journalists as editorial page editors at mainstream dailies.

In his new job, Sanford's mission "will be hoping to inspire in college students what his own father's newspaper habit instilled in him growing up in segregated Mississippi -- a love of daily journalism," Zack McMillin reported in the Commercial Appeal.

Sanford is to be appointed to the Helen and Jabie Hardin Chair of Economics/Managerial Journalism, one of the 25 chairs of excellence listed on the university's website, the story said. Approval from state Board of Regents came Wednesday, after the story appeared.

"Since 1975, Sanford has worked without interruption for four newspapers, beginning with The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., but most of his time has been at The Commercial Appeal, where he first began working in college in the early 1970s," the story continued.

Sanford told Journal-isms he will continue to write a Sunday column for the paper.

Among African American editorial page editors, Joe Oglesby retired from the Miami Herald in the last year. At the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cynthia Tucker moved to Washington-based columnist.

Remaining are Dwight Lewis at the Nashville Tennessean, Harold Jackson at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Vanessa Gallman at the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, James F. Lawrence at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., and Allen Johnson of the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record. Andre Jackson assumed the new position of "editorial editor" at the Journal-Constitution. 

The American Society of News Editors reports that the nation has 1,422 print and online newspapers.

"I plan on still being a very public face for journalism for Memphis and the Mid-South - as a matter of fact, I plan to be even more so," Sanford said in the Commercial Appeal.

Cameraman Kills Intruder at Dallas Area Poker Game

A photographer for KTVT in Dallas/Fort Worth was reported by colleagues to be "off for a couple of weeks" Friday after police said he shot and killed a would-be robber shortly after midnight Monday during a poker game in an apartment in Mesquite, Texas.

Speaking of Jerome "Jay" Johnson, the cameraman, station communications director Lori Conrad said, "We are relieved that our employee was unharmed, but we consider this to be a personal matter and have no other comment at this time," Ed Bark, the Dallas area television writer, reported Thursday on his blog.

Bark added:

"The shooting occurred after the alleged intruder shot one of the players, 35-year-old Tracy Moore, who also is deceased.

"CBS11 is reporting the story - and identifying Johnson as a station employee - on its web site under the headline 'Would-Be Robber Shot Dead At Mesquite Party.'

"According to Lt. Bill Hedgpeth, the gunman at first wanted to join the poker game, but then pulled a gun and demanded money from the players.

"When he fired at the players, Johnson pulled a gun and fatally shot the man, who was identified as 28-year-old Darvis Dervon Young in's brief report on the shootings.

"Hedgpeth said that Johnson, 34, is licensed to carry a concealed handgun and that 'from all appearances at this point it does appear to be self-defense.'

"Johnson was questioned and released, and police have no plans to charge him at this time, Hedgpeth said. But the case will be referred to a grand jury."

NAHJ's Hugo Balta Lands as Managing Editor at WCBS

Competing for NAHJ presidency: Hugo Balta and Michele SalcedoHugo Balta, the vice president/broadcast of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, was laid off last fall from Telemundo's WNJU-47 in New York. On Thursday, he was named managing editor of WCBS in New York, the CBS flagship.

"For the last six years, Balta was Vice President of News at Telemundo's New York station. Prior to that, he was a producer at WNBC and a senior producer at MSNBC," as Chris Ariens noted on FishBowl NY.

"Balta begins the new gig Tuesday, July 6th."

In the meantime, Balta is running for NAHJ president, facing Michele Salcedo, an editor at the Associated Press and former NAHJ board member, in the first contest for the NAHJ presidency since 2002. The election takes place at the NAHJ convention in Denver, June 23-26.

The association announced Thursday that it is opening the convention with a public plenary/town hall, "Latinos, the Newest Demons? The Need for Accurate News Coverage to Abate the Hate." Latino community leaders throughout Colorado are being invited to attend, the organization said.

Lakers' Victory Game Grabs Top NBA Ratings Since '98

"The highly competitive Game 7 of the NBA Finals dunked an 18.2 overnight rating Thursday night, the best performance for an NBA game since 1998 when Michael Jordan was leading the Chicago Bulls over the Utah Jazz," Mike Reynolds reported Friday for Multichannel News.

"The June 17 telecast of Game 7, in which the Los Angeles Lakers edged the Boston Celtics 83-79 to retain their crown and Kobe Bryant was named series MVP, was the highest-rated NBA Finals game ever on ABC, eclipsing the 15.5 overnight mark for Game 5 of the 2004 Finals between the Lakers and Detroit Pistons. (ABC overnight records date back to 2003.)"

The NBA playoffs and then the finals consistently drew high numbers, especially among African Americans. For the week of June 7-13, the Nielsen Co. reported that overall, the games held the top three ratings positions, as they also did among African American and Latino viewers.

But during the week of April 26-May 2, during the playoffs, 11 of the 16 top cable shows watched by African Americans were NBA-related, Nielsen reported. Among Hispanics, only four ranked in the top 16 on English-language cable that week. Turner Network Television carried the playoffs.

Essence Reports Advertising Revenues on the Rebound

Essence's July issue: Ad revenue up 14 percent. "Consumer magazine publishers have desperately been trying to scratch a profit from any amount of advertising dollars they can get their hands on, especially since the economic recession last year.

"One group that was hit particularly hard in the marketing pullback was African-American magazines," Jason Fell wrote Thursday for Folio.

According to the Publishers Information Bureau, "Black Enterprise, Ebony, Essence and Jet were down a collective 18 percent in ad pages through the first quarter — about double the industry average. Ad pages slipped 8.2 percent at Black Enterprise while Johnson Publishing’s Ebony and Jet saw dramatic declines of 30.6 percent and 33.1 percent respectively (Johnson points out, however, that Ebony and Jet both published one fewer issue during the quarter compared to last year).

"Time Inc.’s Essence, meanwhile, reported the smallest decline: -0.3 percent. Since then the magazine been taking advantage of the ad rebound, and says ad pages have been on the rise since its March issue. The magazine estimates that ad pages were up 31 percent for May, 14 percent for July and 21 percent so far for August. On the digital side, online ad revenues are up 32 percent during the first half of 2010 . . . 

“ 'Beauty, retail, food and pharmaceutical are resilient categories for Essence,' Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications, tells FOLIO: 'In addition, Ford has emerged as a powerful partner, having supported our signature red carpet programs such as ‘Black Women in Music’ and ‘Black Women in Hollywood.' 

“'We’re reaching new consumers online and with our live events such as the Essence Music Festival,' Ebanks says. “We have been successful at converting these audiences to subscribers.' "

Obama Meets Pundits in Off-the-Record Lunch

President Obama held an off-the-record lunch Thursday at the White House with several prominent political writers and pundits: the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, the Wall Street Journal's Jerry Seib, the New York Times' Gail Collins and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Michael Calderone reported Thursday for Yahoo News.

"Arianna Huffington was also invited, but according to her own White House reporter, she couldn't attend because of a scheduling conflict," Calderone wrote.

"Yahoo! News confirmed the journalist guest list and also learned that the meeting was staffed by a trio of top White House officials: David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett.

"Presumably, the Gulf crisis was a major topic of discussion, but little has leaked out so far about specifics of the hourlong lunch. Even though White House reporters noticed the group leaving — and tweeted about it! — attendees are sticking to the off-the-record ground rules and keeping quiet.

"It'd be interesting to know what Obama may have thought of Maddow's fake presidential address Wednesday night, in which the MSNBC host laid out what she thinks he should have said on Tuesday. But when reached by Yahoo! News, Maddow declined to comment.

"Reached by phone, Robinson and Seib also declined to comment. Collins did not immediately reply to a request for comment."

Asian Americans scavenge through garbage in New York in Ti-Hua Chang's story on lives that belie the image of the "model minority." (See the story)

Story on Asian American Poverty Among AAJA Winners

Ti-Hua Chang of WNYW and WWOR, Fox stations in New York, told viewers last year, "Many Americans think of Asians here as a model community with money. Some are, but many Asian Americans are truly the working poor.

"A New York City study found the poverty rate among Asian Americans was higher than African Americans. That study included government programs as income.

"The Asian American Federation also did a similar study. The federation found that many of the Asian poor worked — and on average worked longer hours. One reason is dead-end service jobs in hotels or restaurants. Recent Asian immigrants are, according to the study, often unaware of programs such as unemployment, Medicare and housing."

Chang's report on Asian Americans and poverty won in the "Television — Asian American-Pacific Islander Issues" category in the Asian American Journalists Association's national journalism awards, AAJA announced on Friday.

Other winners, to be presented at the AAJA convention Aug. 7 in Los Angeles:

  • PRINT ‚Äî UNLIMITED SUBJECT MATTER: Farnaz Fassihi, reporter, the Wall Street Journal, "Hearts, Minds and Blood: The Battle for Iran"
  • ONLINE ‚Äî AAPI ISSUES: Vino Wong, photojournalist, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Past Still A Big Part of Rising Vietnam"
  • ONLINE ‚Äî UNLIMITED SUBJECT MATTER: Paul Beckett, South Asia bureau chief and the Wall Street Journal's South Asia Bureau staff, "Indian Election Coverage"
  • TELEVISION ‚Äî UNLIMITED SUBJECT MATTER: Russ Mitchell, anchor, CBS News, "Tough Love Principal"
  • RADIO ‚Äî UNLIMITED SUBJECT MATTER: Phillip WD Martin, reporter and executive producer, and Anthony Brooks, editor, Lifted Veils Productions: "Skin Whitening in Asia, Skin Tanning in Asia"
  • RADIO ‚Äî AAPI ISSUES: Joaquin Uy, news and public affairs director,¬† and Irene Noguchi, reporter, KBCS-FM, Bellevue, Wash., community radio, "National Asian-Pacific Center on Aging Receives Federal Grant"
  • PHOTOGRAPHY ‚Äî UNLIMITED SUBJECT MATTER: Lianne Milton, freelance photojournalist, "Five Years Later: A New Hope."

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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off the record in the Oval?

Wow, how boring. Obama triple teams a bunch of head-nodders with three Chicago operatives? Off the record? Aren't they always? When was the last time you saw a Val Jarrett quote? Please. This is change we can believe in?

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