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Crisis in Egypt Caught Networks Off Guard

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Broadcast News Execs Explain Strategy Going Forward

. . . 101 Direct Attacks on Journalists, News Facilities

. . . Was It Worth Sending High-Profile Reporters, Anchors?

. . . Obama Seeks Help for Journalists Trying to Get Out

People of Color 85% of Census Growth in Last Decade

Angela Burt-Murray Out at HuffPost's Black Project

Look Magazine's Ernest Dunbar, 83, Mainstream Pioneer

2 Black Journalists Among Cuts at Charlotte Observer

Vanity Fair Features "Diverse Cast" on Hollywood Cover 

 Short Takes


"It is stupefying that the government continues to send out thugs and plainclothes police to attack journalists and to ransack media bureaus," said an investigator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. (Video) (Credit: CNN)

Broadcast News Execs Explain Strategy Going Forward

"What started out as standard civil disobedience in Egypt last week took a turn so quickly that it caught virtually every single American television news organization off guard," Ben Grossman, Andrea Morabito and Melissa Grego wrote Friday for Broadcasting & Cable. "But it wasn't the quick escalation in violence that sent execs scrambling: the turning point was when journalists themselves became the targets of the combat.

"As reports spread of groups of people searching through offices and hotels on the hunt to capture or bring harm to journalists, the list of injured media members began to grow.

"While many were foreign names that didn't resonate in America, there were plenty of high profile journalists that came under siege. Some incidents were caught on tape — from CNN's Anderson Cooper getting punched to ABC's Christiane Amanpour getting harassed to the point where she bailed on a situation in what seemed like not a moment too soon.

"But many others came via reports, from a Fox News duo getting badly beaten to CBS's Lara Logan reportedly being detained. [She and her crew were released a day later.]

"As locals began to target journalists, the battle plan quickly changed for TV news execs. From Iraq to Afghanistan many of these same execs had dealt with managing journalists in high-risk situations. But in Egypt it swiftly became a question of how to try to get the story out while evading violence that was aimed at their own people on the front lines.

" 'This one caught us by surprise because it went from a demonstration to a riot to roving gangs targeting journalists in 24 hours,' said NBC vice president of worldwide newsgathering David Verdi. 'The mood changed when journalists started to become targets.' "

Alex Weprin summarized in TV Newser: "Broadcasting & Cable spoke to a number of network and cable news executives . . . Each had their own perspective on the coverage, and how they will handle it going forward.

"CNN’s Tony Maddox said that it is up to CNN’s journalists [if] they want to stay in Egypt to cover the story. . . .

"CBS News & Sports chief Sean McManus said that the coverage showed that there is still a commitment to international newsgathering . . ."

Verdi "said his network was lowering its public profile, in the wake of the attacks on foreign journalists. . .

"ABC News senior VP Kate O’Brian talked about Christiane Amanpour‘s first encounter with violent protesters:

" 'But if you watch the interview you can see, I could see Christiane sort of calculating how many questions can I ask and when is it wise to walk away? And she walked away exactly when she realized that this group was potentially getting unruly, which they did. . . .' "

Egyptian journalist Shaheera Amin explains to BBC reporter Lyse Doucet Thursday why she resigned from the state-run news channel, Nile TV, to protest what she said was one-sided reporting. (Video) (Credit: BBC)

. . . 101 Direct Attacks on Journalists, News Facilities

"Journalists in Cairo faced assaults, detentions, and threats again today as supporters of President Hosni Mubarak continued their efforts to obstruct news coverage of protests demanding the Egyptian leader's ouster," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Friday, rounding up incidents involving journalists.

"While the extent of attacks lessened after a peak on Thursday, ongoing anti-press activities remain at an alarming level that must be halted . . . In addition, a journalist shot a week ago while filming a demonstration died today, a state newspaper reported.

" 'It is stupefying that the government continues to send out thugs and plainclothes police to attack journalists and to ransack media bureaus,' said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. 'This is doubly outrageous after the embattled president, vice president, and prime minister all expressed various degrees of regret for the unprecedented attacks on the media on Wednesday and Thursday. They vowed to the Egyptian people in public statements and to the press in interviews that such assaults would not be allowed to take place again.'

"Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud, a journalist working for the newspaper Al-Ta'awun, published by the state-owned Al-Ahram Foundation, died today from gunshot wounds sustained on January 28, Al-Jazeera and the semi-official Al-Ahram reported today. Mahmoud was shot by what the newspaper described as sniper fire while filming confrontations between security forces and demonstrators in central Cairo's Qasr al-Aini area, which is adjacent to Tahrir Square. The death is the first reported media fatality during the uprising.

"In the last 24 hours, CPJ documented another 10 anti-press assaults, eight detentions, two attacks on newsrooms, and the hacking of a major news website. In all, CPJ has documented at least 101 direct attacks on journalists and news facilities this week, and it's investigating numerous other reports."

. . . Was It Worth Sending High-Profile Reporters, Anchors?

"While the happenings in Egypt are an incredible story and worthy of lots of coverage by the broadcast and cable networks, a debate could be had about how much is gained by dispatching high-profile reporters who usually spend the bulk of their time behind a desk to hot zones," Joe Flint wrote Friday for the Los Angeles Times. "No one questions their courage, of course, but is this the best way for TV news divisions to utilize their resources?

"By sending [CBS' Katie] Couric and Brian Williams, the anchor of NBC's 'Nightly News' who is also in the region, the networks are sending a signal to their viewers that what's happening in Egypt is important. It is their belief that unless a star anchor is there a story won't be noticed. There may be some truth to that, but perhaps the answer is to do more foreign reporting and less fluff rather than shipping a big name overseas every time a major story surfaces."

. . . Obama Seeks Help for Journalists Trying to Get Out

"President Obama condemned the attacks on journalists in Egypt Friday amid mounting criticism that the assaults were being orchestrated by President Hosni Mubarak to suppress international coverage of bloodshed by pro-government operatives against peaceful protesters," Michael Martinez reported Friday for CNN.

" 'We continue to be crystal clear that we oppose violence as a response to this crisis,' Obama said. 'We are sending a strong, unequivocal message: Attacks on reporters are unacceptable. Attacks on human rights activists are unacceptable. Attacks on peaceful protesters are unacceptable.' "

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that Obama had "dealt with our embassy on trying to get assistance for journalists to get out of the country, some of whom have been held, many of whom have been beaten," according to John Eggerton, reporting for Broadcasting & Cable.

A new online tool lets reporters explore the racial makeup of their communities almost block by block. (Credit:

People of Color 85% of Census Growth in Last Decade

"Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for roughly 85 percent of the nation's population growth over the last decade — one of the largest shares ever — with Hispanics accounting for much of the gain in many of the states picking up new House seats," Hope Yen reported Thursday for the Associated Press.

"Preliminary census estimates also suggest the number of multiracial Americans jumped roughly 20 percent since 2000, to over 5 million."

Meanwhile, the general secretary of the Association of Spanish Language Academies said Monday that By 2050, 10 percent of the world population will speak Spanish and the United States will be the biggest Spanish-speaking country, EFE / El País reported on Thursday from Spain.

"Cuban writer and academic Humberto López Morales made this prediction during his speech when he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Valencia at a ceremony presided over by Spanish Education Minister Angel Gabilondo.

". . . According to another study cited by López Morales, 'every minute that goes by, 2.5 Hispanics enter the stream of immigrants to the country, that is to say, 3,700 per day.' "

Separately, Dan Froomkin wrote for Nieman Watchdog Tuesday, "As the minority population in the U.S. continues to grow, the nation is, in aggregate, getting more diverse. But at the street level, it’s often a different story.

"And now, a new, web-based tool offers journalists a visually dramatic, incredibly granular look at the racial composition of their communities, almost at the block by block level.

"The tool is a creation of Remapping Debate, a relatively new online journal, and the research site Social Explorer. The data comes from the latest 5-year American Community Survey, and allows users to zoom down to the census 'block groups' level, a smaller geographic unit than a census tract."

Angela Burt-Murray Out at HuffPost's Black Project

Derek J. Murphy and Angela Burt-MurrayFormer Essence magazine editor Angela Burt-Murray, who was point person for the Huffington Post's new project targeting African Americans, has left the project, Derek J. Murphy, chief operating officer of the venture, told Journal-isms on Thursday.

"I'm currently managing staff recruiting and site development with our partnership team. Angela Burt Murray is no longer part of these efforts or this partnership," Murphy said via e-mail.

Before the GlobalBlack project, Murphy was Huffington Post's senior vice president, business development, joining the organization in 2009 from CNN, where he headed strategic partnerships for the CNN Interactive Group, forging alliances with companies that included Google, CareerBuilder and LG Electronics.

Burt-Murray left Essence magazine in November after editing it for five years and surfaced at the Huffington Post project in January. She did not respond to a request for comment and Murphy did not explain Burt-Murray's departure.

The GlobalBlack concept was developed with Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television. It has its detractors.

Columnist Ruben Navarrette of the Washington Post Writers Group wrote last week:

"Arianna Huffington, the website's co-founder and editor-in-chief, has described the goal of this enterprise as simply 'to cover more stories of importance to the black community.'

"There's the hitch. Shouldn't this be the goal of every media company in the country? If you want to cover the United States, then you should cover it in all its color and complexity. Otherwise, your product — newspaper, magazine, website, radio or television network, etc. — will soon become outdated and irrelevant.

"Besides, the 'black community' is an inseparable part of the American community. . . ."

Look Magazine's Ernest Dunbar, 83, Mainstream Pioneer

Ernest DunbarErnest Dunbar, a writer and editor for the old Look magazine and one of the first black reporters at any mainstream national publication, died Thursday after a long illness, his son, Dean Dunbar, said on Friday.

Ernest Dunbar was 83 and lived in Manhattan.

He was president of Black Perspectives, a New York group of black journalists, which in the late 1960s predated the National Association of Black Journalists. In addition to his work at Look, a coffee-table sized magazine that emphasized photographs as did its competitor, Life, Dunbar authored books that included "The Black Expatriates: A Study of American Negroes in Exile," a 1968 book for which he is listed as editor.

Some of his Look pieces evoke the era: "Inside Negro Africa: Crisis in the Congo: The Rude Awakening" (1959); "The Audacious World of Adam Powell" (1962); "Yugoslavia: Karl Marx in a Mercedes" (1968) and "Black on White TV" (1971), which featured photographs of Dunbar with half his face painted white, posed behind a television screen.

According to the family obituary, "A native of Philadelphia, he received a B.A. in Journalism from Temple University in 1954, where he also served as editor of the university newspaper. He did graduate work in journalism at Northwestern University, and was later awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Journalism from Temple in 1971. He joined Look Magazine as a reporter in 1954, was promoted to Assistant Editor in 1958, and was Senior Editor from 1959 until Look ceased publication in 1971. He was the first black reporter hired by Look and one of the first black journalists at any national publication. He wrote articles for Look covering a wide range of assignments that included prominent news developments and personalities on the American scene as well as abroad including articles on Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Indira Gandhi, and the Jackson 5.

"Mr. Dunbar served as an advisor to [New York] Gov. Averell Harriman on a 9-nation African factfinding tour for presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in 1960 [while on a leave of absence from Look]. He was also the moderator of a show called 'The World at 10' when Channel 13 first went on the air in 1962. From 1971 until 1975 he was a freelance writer, contributing articles to magazines such as Redbook, Saturday Review, Reader's Digest, and the New York Times Magazine.

"From 1975 until 1990 he was the Chief Editor of Publications for the Exxon Corporation, where he managed the publication of 'The Lamp', their shareholder quarterly magazine, as well as the Exxon Corporation Annual Report."

He also won several awards. A memorial service is to be announced at a later date.

2 Black Journalists Among Cuts at Charlotte Observer

Two of five newsroom employees laid off at the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer this week were black journalists Phillip Hoffman, a videographer, and Jerome Johnson, a graphic designer, the two confirmed for Journal-isms on Friday.

Johnson, 49, is a 22-year veteran of the paper who had worked in sales, pre-press and magazine design at the paper, he said. Asked what he'd like to do next, he said, "I really don't know at this point" but that he might go back to school.

Hoffman, 45, had been at the Observer for seven years. "I kind of look at this as an opportunity, a way of getting my own thing going," he said. "I shoot video. I'm working on my editing reel." However, he said he realized that "I'm still a father of three with a mortgage."

The Observer reported Monday that it was laying off 20 employees as "part of an effort to cut costs as the shaky economy continues to plague advertisers and revenues remain short of the company's goals. . . The Observer is also implementing weeklong furloughs for salaried employees beginning this quarter."

Vanity Fair Features "Diverse Cast" on Hollywood Cover

Last year, Vanity Fair published its annual Hollywood issue, and its cover featured an all-white bevy of starlets. 

This year, Rashida Jones and Anthony Mackie, both African Americans, join the other men and women on the cover. Mackie starred in "The Hurt Locker," which won last year's Academy Award for best picture. Jones is the daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton and stars in NBC-TV's "Parks and Recreation."

"For this year's Hollywood cover, we put together a group of some of the busiest actors working in Hollywood. The fact that those who fit the bill turned out to be a diverse cast of men and women pleases us tremendously," spokeswoman Beth Kseniak told Journal-isms."

Short Takes

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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