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David Carr Nurtured Young Black Journalists

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Friday, February 13, 2015

N.Y. Times Columnist Boosted Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jelani Cobb

In 24 Hours, Obama's Goofy Video Gets 25 Million Views

Obama Critical of HBCUs in Meeting With Black Caucus

Pundits Abroad Call Western Media Slow on N.C. Killings

Media Dig for Further Brian Williams Untruths

30 News Outlets Agree to Rules for Freelancers in War Zones

Black Ex-CIA Officer, Accused of Leaking, Appeals Conviction

Story Previews Whitlock's Site on Race, Sports, Culture

Short Takes

David Carr, left, and Bruce Headlam in the 2011 film, "Page One: Inside the New York Times." (Courtesy, Magnolia Pictures.)

N.Y. Times Columnist Boosted Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jelani Cobb

David Carr, the New York Times media critic who died suddenly Thursday at 58, was also a nurturer of young black journalists, some of whom were quick to pay tribute to him.

Carr spoke of his commitment in a 2008 article in the Times advocating for paid internships.

"Paid internships, properly conceived and administered, could bring a diversity of region, class and race to an industry where the elevators are full of people who look alike, talk alike and think alike," he wrote. "Pie in the sky? Not at Atlantic Media. Three years ago, the company made the decision to end unpaid internships and go to yearlong fellowships that had meaningful tasks, an educational component, a living wage attached and, get this, health insurance.

"There are now 45 fellows working across its publications, and several have graduated to significant, permanent roles at the company."

He also wrote, "The Atlantic experiment conforms to my own experience. In the 1990s, I ran The Washington City Paper, a newspaper mostly staffed by white people in a majority-black city.

"By funding fellowships and entry-level positions, we were able to bring new perspectives aboard by publishing work from Ta-Nehisi Coates, now a senior editor and National Magazine Award winner for The Atlantic (who also contributes to The Times); Holly Bass, a Washington-based performance artist and writer; William Jelani Cobb, a University of Connecticut associate professor, author and essayist who went on to publish in The New Yorker, The Washington Post and; and Neil Drumming, an alumnus of Entertainment Weekly who is now a critic at Salon and directed and wrote 'Big Words,' a feature film that came out this year to great reviews.

"Despite the industry canard about a lack of qualified minority candidates, finding these writers, all of whom are black, wasn't hard at all. It was easy. . . ."

On Twitter, some of those writers expressed their thanks Thursday night and Friday.

Coates also paid tribute to Carr on his Atlantic blog in 2013: "Two things helped me break through," Coates wrote. "The first, being vouched for by someone in a position of power who had a relationship with someone else in a position of power. I met that person when costs of investment were low: I worked for David Carr at a rate of $100 dollars a week and ten cents a word for anything I published. The first summer I worked for him, I made $1,700. I did not consider myself underpaid.

"This was 1996. The New Republic had just told the world that black people had evolved to be stupid, and it seemed like every week they were saying something just as racist. I was at Howard University, surrounded by a community of brilliant black people, cut off from the Ivies. None of them had the contacts or the resources to reply. They just had to take it. I can't tell you how much that angered me. I was made in that moment. And when I got my first break in writing, I didn't think about being ripped off. I thought about whipping ass. I haven't changed. . . ."

Ironically, Carr told the New York Observer that he was surprised by Coates' success. "If you had told me he would be a big deal, I would have said, 'Get real,' " Jordan Michael Smith quoted Carr as saying in 2013. "Mr. Coates's first writing gig was at the Washington City Paper, where Mr. Carr was his editor. 'He needed work. He was not a great speller. He wasn't terrific with names. And he wasn't all that ambitious.' . . . "

Despite Carr's outreach, Washington City Paper remained — and remains — a white yuppie enclave in a municipality that has been known as "Chocolate City."

However, Cobb messaged Journal-isms on Friday, "I don't really think of it as a contradiction. It was far more of a yuppie bastion before Carr arrived and he set about working to change that.

"The newspaper tackled race in ways that were at least somewhat more informed during that era because there were actually black people in the room.

"Here's a good example: I wrote a book review for a book that made some inflammatory claims about black criminality for an editor who was as racially blinkered a person as I've ever dealt with. Predictably she accused me of being racist in my objections to the author's position. The conflict went to Carr who removed the piece from her hands and ran a version that was simply edited for factual and grammatical errors.

"That never would've happened under the old regime. He also supported and encouraged Ta-Nehisi to write about reparations — in 1997. The paper never became any kind of interracial ideal under Carr but I've always credited him for trying.

"I also have to say that he was supportive of us for years after we left the paper. Ta-Nehisi will probably mention this in his piece but Carr was the person who introduced him to the editors at The Atlantic. He was still putting me in contact with editors as recently as 2013 — and that was 11 years after I'd stopped writing for the CP."

Coates agreed. He messaged Journal-isms Friday afternoon, "There is no contradiction. He fought the fight when he was there. That's all I ever asked of him. Total and complete victory is never guaranteed. I just came from the Times gathering. Three journos of color . . . approached me and told me about what he'd done for him.

"There was nothing like him. He changed my life. Without him, me and you aren't even talking right now."

Carr's first story was about police brutality against African Americans in Minneapolis, and he recalled it in this Mediabistro YouTube video.

President Obama's playful video is proving to be a viral sensation. (video)

In 24 Hours, Obama's Goofy Video Gets 25 Million Views

A goofy BuzzFeed video featuring President Obama acting out "Things Everybody Does But Doesn't Talk About" is an instant hit, passing the 25 million views mark Friday, just a day after its release, BuzzFeed spokeswoman Liz Wasden told Journal-isms.

"Our BuzzFeed Motion Pictures group is always creating fun, shareable content — so when we had the opportunity to work with the President we knew it had HUGE potential, so the team worked hard to come up with something he could have fun with, and that would grab people's attention," Wasden said by email.

"We filmed in the White House this week and he was a good sport, came to play, and was up for all our wacky ideas."

The message embedded in the fun and games was that Feb. 15 is the enrollment deadline for the Affordable Care Act.

BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith filmed an interview with the president on Tuesday, but that was separate from the video project of the Los Angeles-based entertainment division, said Wasden, who is BuzzFeed's vice president of communications.

The video proved a social media sensation, drawing such comments as, "I'm in love with the fact that a world leader can be so down to earth. Who cares if he's the president and your views on him. At the end of the day we are all humans. Put your opinions behind you for a few minutes and enjoy this adorable video."

Not everyone was in the mood. Matt Wilstein reported Friday for Mediaite, "Fox News has uncovered a brand new 'controversy' surrounding President Barack Obama's silly BuzzFeed video, released Thursday, that aims to get more young people to sign up for Obamacare before this weekend's deadline by showing the president using a selfie stick and saying 'YOLO.' The fact that Obama reportedly shot the video on the same day officials confirmed the death of American ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller, has some conservative commentators up in arms.

" 'The president says, "YOLO, man!" And for people at home who may not know what that stands for, YOLO stands for "you only live once," ' Fox host Heather Childers told contributor Juan Williams Friday morning. 'Well you know who’s not alive, Juan, now? Kayla Mueller.' . . ."

Wasden said the video, which also features BuzzFeed's Andrew Ilnyckyj, garnered 1.2 million views in its first hour and 100,000 "likes" in two hours.

In its first 24 hours, it recorded 22.8 million views and reached 77 million people. There were 1.9 million "likes," comments and shares, she said.

Betsy Klein added Thursday for CNN, "This isn't the first time the White House has pulled out all the stops for the President's health care website. Last year, the President appeared on "Between Two Ferns" with Zach Galifianakis, a move largely credited with boosting signups. . . ."

Obama Critical of HBCUs in Meeting With Black Caucus

"President Obama was critical of Historically Black Colleges and Universities during a meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus this week according to several in attendance," Lauren Victoria Burke reported Friday for

"The February 10 meeting was the first group gathering with the Black Caucus and the President since June 2013.

"Several who attended the meeting indicated that President Obama felt that the focus of HBCU's needs to be on the schools changing their ways of doing business rather on changes in federal policy. Those who attended said he was specifically critical of graduation rates and loan policies. The President also spoke to CBC members on his free community college plan which some HBCU advocates believe will hurt HBCUs.

"The Chair of President Obama's Board of Advisors on HBCUs, Hampton President Dr. William Harvey, was critical of the lack of input the Board had on the community college proposal during a speech in Washington to Administration officials on February 4. He also said he was 'disappointed and saddened' by the lack of agency funding for Historically Black colleges and Universities. . . ."

Harvey said in 2006 that only 27, or 5.9 percent of the nation's 458 journalism and mass communication programs, were at HBCU institutions. Yet 24.2 percent of the black students who earn bachelor's degrees in journalism and communications received them from the 5.9 percent that are HBCU institutions.

Influencing the graduation rates are open-admissions policies at many HBCUs, believing that all deserve a chance.

Pundits Abroad Call Western Media Slow on N.C. Killings

"Whether three young students were shot and killed in North Carolina this week in a parking dispute or, as their families believe, because they were Muslims, online commentators here and outside the Middle East say the victims' religion makes it a hate crime," Rana F. Sweis reported Friday for the New York Times from Amman, Jordan.

"Failing to treat it as such, the commentators say on social media, indicates that Americans and the Western news media just do not understand the region.

"Even before learning that two of the three victims — Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19 — were Jordanian citizens, their compatriots on social media called for wider coverage of the killings.

"The shooting occurred Tuesday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C., but most news media outlets in the United States and abroad did not report on it until later the next day. This led some on social networks to suggest that the news media was slow to cover the story because the victims were Muslim. . . ."

Media Dig for Further Brian Williams Untruths

"When NBC News decided to suspend Brian Williams for six months, it seemed clear that the network's 'truth squad' had discovered lies — or 'conflations' — beyond the one that initially got him into trouble," Caroline Bankoff reported Friday for New York magazine.

"While NBC hasn't commented on what they found, other news organizations are reporting on Williams's further apparent untruths.

"It turns out that the helicopter story probably isn't the only thing Williams exaggerated from his 2003 visit to Iraq. The Huffington Post notes that on several occasions over the last few years, Williams has talked about traveling with SEAL Team 6, the unit that went on to kill Osama bin Laden in 2011. . . ."

Bankoff also wrote, "The United States Special Operations Command and a former SEAL told the Huffington Post that this was all pretty unlikely. . . .

"There are similar problems with his memory of the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, which he has claimed to have witnessed from the Brandenburg Gate . . ."

30 News Outlets Agree to Rules for Freelancers in War Zones

So far, 30 organizations have signed on to "A call for global safety principles and practices," developed after the slayings of freelancers James Foley and Steven Sotloff last year and accelerated by the Islamic State's beheadings, Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, wrote on Friday.

"In the end everyone made accommodations, and what has emerged is unprecedented," Mahoney wrote. "Editors sending freelancers to conflict areas will now follow these practices:

"News organizations and editors should endeavor to treat journalists and freelancers they use on a regular basis in a similar manner to the way they treat staffers when it comes to issues of safety training, first aid and other safety equipment, and responsibility in the event of injury or kidnap.

"News organizations should not make an assignment with a freelancer in a conflict zone or dangerous environment unless the news organization is prepared to take the same responsibility for the freelancer's well-being in the event of kidnap or injury as it would a staffer. News organizations have a moral responsibility to support journalists to whom they give assignments in dangerous areas, as long as the freelancer complies with the rules and instructions of the news organization.

"Reporters covering stories in dangerous environments are urged to:

"...complete a recognized news industry first aid course, to carry a suitable first-aid kit and continue their training to stay up-to-date on standards of care and safety both physical and psychological. Before undertaking an assignment in such zones, journalists should seek adequate medical insurance covering them in a conflict zone or area of infectious disease. . . ."

Black Ex-CIA Officer, Accused of Leaking, Appeals Conviction

"In January, a federal jury in Virginia convicted former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling on nine felony counts, including espionage, Nermeen Shaikh told listeners and viewers of Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!"

"Prosecutors accused Sterling of leaking classified information about a secret operation to disrupt Iran's nuclear program to journalist James Risen of The New York Times. Risen later revealed how the risky operation could have inadvertently aided the Iranian nuclear program.

"Supporters of Sterling described him as a whistleblower, but prosecutors claimed he leaked the information to settle a score with the agency. Sterling is scheduled to be sentenced in April. He faces a maximum possible sentence of decades in prison. . . ."

Shaikh's guest, Norman Solomon, an activist, author and media critic, called Sterling's "an extremely important case, very underreported by the news media, a tremendous selective prosecution against one of the only African-American case officers in the CIA, somebody who went through channels as a whistleblower to the Senate Intelligence Committee to report in 2003 about a dumb and dangerous CIA operation aimed at Iran with nuclear design component information back in 2000.

"So, Sterling went on trial last month in federal court for revealing to the Senate Intelligence Committee something that the Senate Intelligence Committee needed to know, but the actual charges were, as you mentioned, that he leaked the classified info to James Risen. Being in the courtroom day after day for the seven-day trial, very disturbing, not only the selective prosecution, but also the fact no African Americans on the jury, 23 CIA officials testifying, and a tremendous amount of innuendo against the defendant in that case. . . ."

On the fund-raising site gofundme.comLaurie Lewandowski wrote on Feb. 3, "The conviction was based entirely on circumstantial evidence. Mr. Risen was not required to testify and the prosecution could produce no documents, no recordings, nothing that directly linked Jeffrey as a source for Mr. Risen's book. In fact, the FBI agent who investigated Jeffrey for over 10 years testified that there was absolutely no evidence that Jeffrey was a source.

"He is due to be sentenced on April 24, 2015. His attorneys are currently appealing the conviction. Unfortunately for Jeffrey, he became the government's primary target because he had the audacity to do two things:

"He went through appropriate legal channels to address his concerns about a covert CIA operation.

"He filed a discrimination lawsuit against the CIA in August of 2001 (two months later he was fired) which was coincidentally thrown out because proof would require release of classified information. Jeffrey contacted Mr. Risen in an effort to have his discrimination story heard. Mr. Risen subsequently did write an article about Jeffrey's lawsuit. Another story was published in the May 20, 2002 issue of 'People' magazine.

"Here is an excerpt:

“Sterling joined the CIA in 1993 and two years later became a case officer in the Iran Task Force. (He was the only black among its more than 20 professionals.) To prepare, he spent a year studying Farsi, the language of Iran. Sent to Bonn in 1997 to recruit Iranians as agents, he grew frustrated when he wasn't given new prospects to recruit. Perplexed, he returned to Langley and confronted his supervisors.

" 'I asked why I wasn't receiving any assignments. They said, "Well, you kind of stick out as a big black guy," Sterling recalls. 'They said, "You bring unwanted attention to where you're assigned. Everyone in management agreed I was too conspicuous. And I said, 'Well, when did you realize that I was black?' . . ."

Story Previews Whitlock's Site on Race, Sports, Culture

The Undefeated, an ESPN site on race, sports, and culture for African Americans, which columnist Jason Whitlock once dubbed "Black Grantland," released its first story Thursday in preparation for the NBA All-Star Weekend, Chris Ip reported Thursday for Columbia Journalism Review.

"A prelude to the site's full launch as early as June, the story was posted to It is a 9,000-word profile of controversial pundit and former NBA star Charles Barkley that traces his outspoken comments on race to Booker T. Washington and their shared home state of Alabama.

"The profile is an example of the kind of reporting Whitlock, the site's founder, says can use sports as a lens to look at larger society. . . ."

Short Takes

  • Leroy Woodson Jr., who worked in more than 50 countries as a photographer and writer for such publications as National Geographic and the Washington Post, died Thursday in Paris [in French] after a long illness, his friend, journalist Joel Dreyfuss, announced. He was 70. "Woody," as he was known, was the son of a foreign service officer. He lived in Paris as a child, in Tallahassee, Fla., in his teens and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Woodson was in this space in 2003 after he set up his own website carryings links to reporting around the world on military matters.

  • "The New U Project, an initiative to increase the number of entrepreneurs of color in the digital media space, will not fund any projects in 2015, said Doug Mitchell, one of New U's project directors," Tracie Powell reported Thursday for "New U's grant ran out, Mitchell said. But further, directors did not seek to renew the grant at this time because they want to reorganize, he added. . . ."

  • "Two Al-Jazeera journalists walked free from an Egyptian prison Friday and were reunited with loved ones after more than a year behind bars on terror-related charges that drew international criticism from human rights and media groups," the Associated Press reported. "Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed are free pending their retrial, scheduled for Feb. 23. A third colleague, Peter Greste, was released two weeks ago and deported to his home country of Australia. . . ."

  • "Retired ABC News anchor Carole Simpson is recovering after breaking bones in a fall," Mark Joyella reported Friday for TVNewser. "Simpson updated fans on Facebook, including a photo of herself in a wheelchair amid huge snowdrifts. 'Boston is paralyzed and I am disabled, both for the same reason,' she writes. 'The worst winter ever.' . . ."

  • "James Blue, an award winning journalist who most recently served as the Washington bureau chief of the UK-based news channel ARISE, will join the PBS NewsHour as senior content and special projects producer," the NewsHour announced on Thursday. "In this role, he will liaise with the broadcast and online production teams, coordinating upcoming tape packages and reports from the field as well as special projects. . . ." The announcement also said, "Prior to joining ARISE, Blue served as executive producer of BET's 2012 presidential coverage, which earned his team an USC Annenberg School's 2013 Walter Cronkite Award for excellence in political television journalism. In addition to founding his own media production firm, Public Affairs Media Group, Blue spent nearly two decades producing for Discovery, NBC News and ABC News, including extensive coverage overseas and throughout the Middle East, with datelines from Yemen, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. . . . "

  • "This week on Q & A, our guest is Thomas Allen Harris," C-SPAN announces in its summary of weekend programming. "He talks about his new film 'Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People' — which explores how African-Americans have been portrayed in photographic images from the time of slavery up through today. He compares how imagery of African-Americans presented by white culture and photographers differs from the pictures of black people taken by black people — from family photo albums to famous African-American photographers. He argues that one gets a truer representation of African-American life and success in our country’s history through the latter . . . " "Q&A" airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern and Monday at 6 a.m. Eastern.

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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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Media Icons- David Carr

Such is the new world order this place and time we live in circa 2015. A Black president in his second term, 3 students executed in their homes for being Muslims and snow in Las Vegas.

Into this reality now we cast and mold a new set of icons and difference makers no longer do our heroes and icons wear uniforms and costumes.

Today the awe inspiring venues  no longer  are urban streets,  gritty classroms and union halls . Of late spaces that are plugged in or floating in air havemore currency and impact.

We  now have door openers like David Carr and Richard Price who usher in the new agents of change, possibility and outcomes that matter.

RIP David Carr...We got YOU

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