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Denver Post Wins Pulitzer for Aurora Coverage

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Monday, April 15, 2013

David Barboza of N.Y. Times Wins for China Stories

Police Deny N.Y. Post Report That Saudi Is Bombing Suspect

Was Rubio Correct in Calling Che Guevara a Racist?

50th Anniversary of King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail"

New York Times economic correspondent David Barboza, right, with Hugo  Shong at

David Barboza of N.Y. Times Wins for China Stories

The Denver Post won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting on Monday, another honor for the newspaper's coverage of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 people and wounded dozens.

The shooting, along with killings in Tucson, Ariz., in January 2011 and the massacre of schoolchildren and adults in Newtown, Conn., last December elevated gun violence on the national agenda. 

In December, Editor Gregory L. Moore was named the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year by the National Press Foundation for leading coverage of the shooting spree, and last week the National Association of Black Journalists announced Moore as winner of its Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Pulitzer was "awarded to The Denver Post Staff for its comprehensive coverage of the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12 and injured 58, using journalistic tools, from Twitter and Facebook to video and written reports, both to capture a breaking story and provide context."

Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer at Columbia University, said in helping to announce the awards in a webcast from the university, "This is exciting for those of us who have been arguing that social media is part of the journalistic process," not apart from it. Columbia administers the Pulitzers.

The 3 p.m. EDT webcast was interrupted — and quickly overshadowed — by news of another tragedy: "Two bombs exploded near the finish of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing two people, injuring 23 others and sending authorities rushing to aid wounded spectators, race organizers and police said," as Jimmy Golen reported for the Associated Press. The numbers were later revised upward.

In reporting on its award, the Post said, "The entry — which included online, social media, video, photography and print stories — documented the first four days of the shooting in which 12 people were killed and at least 58 others were injured by guns.

"The entire newsroom was involved, beginning moments after gunfire rang out in the midnight[premierd] of 'The Dark Knight Rises' at the Century Aurora 16 theater and continuing through the early days of the community's response to this unimaginable tragedy.

" 'The only thing worse than having to cover a story like this would be to not step up for your community,' Post news director Kevin Dale said. 'We are proud of the entire staff of The Denver Post, who worked around the clock as the tragedy unfolded to inform the community and document the early process of recovery.'

"The $10,000 prize will be donated to the Aurora Mental Health Center and the Bonfils Blood Center."

The Denver Post also was a finalist in the same category for its coverage of Colorado wildfires.

Another winner was David Barboza of the New York Times "for his striking exposure of corruption at high levels of the Chinese government, including billions in secret wealth owned by relatives of the prime minister, well documented work published in the face of heavy pressure from the Chinese officials."

Barboza has been based in Shanghai since November 2004. His seven brothers include writer Steven Barboza and photographer Anthony Barboza, each of whom have created work about various aspects of black life.

He said he was honored by the Pulitzer. China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing on Tuesday, "Our position towards this issue is very clear. We believe the relevant report by the New York Times reporter is with ulterior motives," Agence France-Presse reported.

Barboza shared a George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting in February from Long Island University. 

"Barboza's explosive three-part series in The New York Times, 'The Princelings,' probed into the far-reaching financial interests of officials and their extended families. The veteran Shanghai correspondent revealed that relatives of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao had accumulated a secret wealth of $2.7 billion. At personal risk, Barboza took novel approaches to discovering family connections — including examining gravestones in villages and circulating photos from government ID cards to confirm identities," LIU said.

Overall, the Associated Press reported, "The New York Times won four Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, including the award for investigative reporting for stories that detailed how Wal-Mart used bribery to expand in Mexico.

"The Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was awarded the public service Pulitzer for its reporting on off-duty police officers' reckless driving."

And "The Pulitzer in breaking news photography went to The Associated Press for its coverage of the civil war in Syria."

Of the photos, AP wrote, "Searing images from photographers Rodrigo Abd, Manu Brabo, Narciso Contreras, Khalil Hamra and Muhammed Muheisen convey the inconsolable grief attending the war, giving immediacy to the conflict in a way words alone never could. Capturing these images required repeated trips into the war zone, without government permission or protection, amid the dangers of shelling, bombardment and errant bullets, as well as the risk of abduction or capture. . . ."

In one of the winning photo entries from Syria, a boy named Ahmed mourns his fat

New York Times reporter John Eligon, in Boston to run the marathon, was part of the Times team covering the tragedy. (Video)

Police Deny N.Y. Post Report That Saudi is Bombing Suspect

With the notable exception of the New York Post, media coverage of the bombings at the Boston Marathon Monday was, as the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz said in describing television coverage, "serious, substantive, and restrained, resisting the urge for melodrama or reckless speculation.

"When there is a story of sufficient magnitude, as happened at the twin towers and again near the finish line of the Boston race, news outlets don’t need to resort to hype and hysteria," Kurtz wrote. "They simply sort through the painful facts that slowly emerge."

The New York Post, however, insisted in its headline that "Authorities ID suspect as Saudi national in marathon bombings, under guard at Boston hospital." For hours, it was also reporting that 12 had died, not two, as the rest of the news media were saying, or later, three. The newspaper listed "law enforcement sources" for its assertions and added, "Fox News reported that the suspect suffered severe burns."

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told an 8:30 p.m. news conference, "There is no suspect at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. That's been widely reported in the press." 

The nationality of the suspect matters to many. "To be completely honest," wrote Arsalan Iftikhar, a civil rights lawyer who blogs as "the Muslim Guy," "when the news first started breaking in media outlets around the country about the explosions, I joined several million brown people in America thinking exactly the same thing:

" 'Oh God…Please don't let it be a Muslim…' "

Iftikhar added, "But based on facts and reality, we Muslims are not being paranoid. For example, a FOX News contributor named Erik Rush wasted no time by going on Twitter right after the Boston Marathon explosions to state that Muslims 'are evil…Let's kill them all.' "

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who hosts the early evening "PoliticsNation" on MSNBC, found himself anchoring MSNBC's coverage. John Eligon, a Kansas City-based New York Times reporter who ran the marathon Monday, became part of a Times video on the events, then shared a byline on a story about the tragedy. Eligon is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and of its Kansas City chapter.

Sharpton's presence did not sit well with Kurtz. "MSNBC made the curious decision to let Al Sharpton, no one's idea of a breaking-news specialist, take the reins from Chris Matthews when his hour came up," Kurtz reported. "The reverend was assisted by Mike Barnicle, a former Boston columnist who at least knows the cop scene there. . . ."

Was Rubio Correct in Calling Che Guevara a Racist?

Che Guevara

Was Che Guevara, hero of self-proclaimed revolutionaries of all races, a racist?

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., already considered a 2016 presidential candidate, was unchallenged when he made that claim Sunday on ABC's "This Week." Rubio was expressing disapproval of the recent trip to Cuba by celebrity husband and wife Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

"I think Jay-Z needs to get informed. One of his heroes is Che Guevara. Che Guevara was a racist. Che Guevara was a racist that wrote extensively about the superiority of white Europeans over people of African descent, so he should inform himself on the guy that he's propping up," Rubio said during an interview with Jonathan Karl, ABC News' chief White House correspondent. 

"Secondly, I think if Jay-Z was truly interested in the true state of affairs in Cuba, he would have met people that are being oppressed, including a hip-hop artist in Cuba who is right now being oppressed and persecuted and is undergoing a hunger strike because of his political lyrics," the senator added. "And I think he missed an opportunity. But that's Jay-Z's issue."

Was Rubio right about Guevara? Many news accounts, like "This Week," left the question unaddressed.

The Yahoo Answers website answered such a question three years ago when a reader asked, "Why did Che Guevara help Black ppl even though in his Diaries he had very racist views?"

The "best answer," chosen by readers, was, "Only to someone completely uninformed, could Che — (a man who fought in Africa with an all black army against white South African mercenaries of Apartheid) — be seen as 'racist' for a diary passage he wrote as a youth 15 years earlier. . . ."

As for the rapper, "Rubio was apparently referring to Angel Remon Yunier Arzuaga, whom the senator tweeted about last week," Sean Sullivan wrote for the Washington Post. "The Cuban rapper was put in jail for lyrics protesting against the Cuban government."

50th Anniversary of King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail"

Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of the day Martin Luther King Jr. began composing his letter from the Birmingham, Ala., city jail, considered the most famous document of the civil rights movement.

The "Letter from Birmingham Jail," written after King's arrest for leading nonviolent protests in Birmingham, defended civil disobedience, challenged white church leaders to confront racism and includes the now-famous quotation, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Martin   Luther King Jr. began composing the letter from the Birmingham, Ala., cit

Commemorations began earlier in the year. In February, the Newseum in Washington opened "Jailed in Birmingham," an exhibit featuring a casting of the original jail cell door behind which King was confined.

In Birmingham, an ecumenical network is marking the occasion by responding to King's letter with a 20-page document, Adelle M. Banks reported for Religion News Service.

In Atlanta, the King Center plans to play an audio recording of King reading excerpts of his letter throughout the day. 
King’s daughter, King Center CEO Bernice A. King, is to unveil a historic destination marker at the old jail building.

The letter is instructive for journalists, according to King lieutenant Andrew Young. Addressing black journalists in 1984, Young used King's jailhouse letter to illustrate the power of the written word. He said at a convention of the National Association of Black Journalists in Atlanta:

"We give a lot of credit to the demonstrations in the civil rights movement. But those demonstrations wouldn't have meant a thing in Birmingham had it not been for the letter from a Birmingham jail," Young said.

"It was the articulation of the ideas coming from that black community in an eloquent written statement by Martin Luther King, a statement that he wrote around the ridges of the New York Times. They wouldn't let him have any paper to write on, but they would bring the newspapers, so every day he would write on the margins of the newspaper and would get it out, and when he got through with that, he would write on the toilet paper that was left.

"And the secretary that transcribed it didn't have sense enough to keep it, because we are not appreciative of the written word. We don't understand that the pen is as powerful — more powerful — than the sword, still in this day and time."

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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