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Journalists Can't Heed U.S. Warnings to Flee

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Despite Egypt's Danger, "There's a Story Going On"

J-Grads of Color Continue to Lag in Finding Work

Univision May Win in GOP Boycott of NBC, CNN

Teshima Walker, NPR Producer and "Sistergirl," Dies at 44

Advice on Diversity From a Middle-Aged White Guy: Do It

Pitts: Superficial Coverage of Race Amounts to Silence

Fusion Network Will Be "Very Loud Voice" on Immigration

"The Butler" Moving to Top Weekend Box Office

Knight Fellows Describe "Re-Engineering Journalism" 

C-SPAN Plans Week of Eyewitness Accounts on Civil Rights

Short Takes

The Washington Post reported that the violence in Egypt involved the security fo

Despite Egypt's Danger, "There's a Story Going On"

The State Department warned U.S. citizens "to defer travel to Egypt and U.S. citizens living in Egypt to depart at this time because of the continuing political and social unrest," but for journalists, it was no time to leave.

Kimberly Adams (Credit:"American embassy in Cairo just sent an e-mail reminder to leave #Egypt now. American journos here note this, then keep filing," Kimberly Adams, a freelancer in Egypt who is reporting for such outlets as public radio's "Marketplace," tweeted on Friday.

Adams messaged Journal-isms, "I'm not leaving Cairo because, right now, I still feel like I can safely work here as long as I take proper precautions. I do not know of any American journalists that are planning to leave at this stage. There's a story going on, after all."

Jonathan Blakley, another African American journalist in Cairo, agreed. "Don't know of anyone who has left Cairo," Blakley messaged.

"I'm here because I'm NPR's producer on the International Desk.

"Arrived Thursday, left DC Wednesday when things started going south here...

"NPR has a bureau here. But at times like these, it takes a few folks to help cover a story like this.

"Just like when they needed extra staff to cover the Papal conclave, or Mandela's illness... That's when I get the call."

On Wednesday, the day Blakley left, more than 500 people were killed in civil conflict, including four journalists.

On Friday, "Egypt plunged further into civil conflict," Liz Sly and Abigail Hauslohner of the Washington Post reported, "after anti-government demonstrations led by the Muslim Brotherhood erupted in violence involving the security forces, protesters and armed civilians on both sides of the political divide.

The Post story added, "The Muslim Brotherhood claimed 213 people were killed on a day that brought the violence to the heart of the capital and drew in for the first time government-approved Popular Committees whose members set up checkpoints carrying sticks, machetes and, in some instances, guns. The government declined to issue casualty figures.

"The number of dead appeared to be lower than the more than 600 people killed in Egypt on Wednesday. But the Brotherhood put the toll at more than 100 in central Cairo alone, after security forces used live ammunition to suppress demonstrators who had gathered at Ramses Square in what the group called 'glorious heroic scenes.' "

Jack Mirkinson wrote Thursday in the Huffington Post, "Several news outlets and press freedom groups are raising the question of whether journalists have been deliberately targeted in the bloodshed currently engulfing Egypt."

Jonathan Blakley doesn't know any journalist who has left Cairo.

"In an interview with HuffPost Live's Ahmed Shihab-Eldin on Wednesday, Tom Finn, a Reuters journalist, made similar statements.

" 'I would imagine that the reason the journalists are being rounded up is because the government hopes to intimidate them and to prevent word of what's happening on the street getting out,' he said."

The State Department travel advisory outlined what was happening on the street:

"Demonstrations have, on numerous occasions, degenerated into violent clashes between security forces and protesters, and between protesters supporting different factions, resulting in deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage. Participants have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and security forces have used tear gas and other crowd control measures against demonstrators. There have been instances of the use of firearms as well. While most violent protests have occurred in major metropolitan areas, including downtown Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, and Port Said, there are recent reports of more widespread political and social violence, including armed attacks, in other areas of Egypt. Of continued concern is gender-based violence in and around protest areas where women have been the targets of sexual assault.

"The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful ones can quickly become violent, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse. . . ."

Of the racial differences in finding work after graduation, 'The gap has been persistent across time and was   nearly at the same level as a year earlier,' the authors said.

J-Grads of Color Continue to Lag in Finding Work

An annual survey of journalism and mass communications graduates has found that, "Those bachelor's degree recipients who are members of racial and ethnic minorities continued to have more difficulty finding work than did other graduates [PDF]. Women once again had more success in the job market than did men."

However, according to the report from Lee B. Becker, Tudor Vlad, Holly Simpson and Konrad Kalpen of the Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, "The field continued to become more diverse racially and ethnically at the undergraduate level. Undergraduate students classified as members of racial or ethnic minorities made up a larger percentage of enrolled students in journalism and mass communication programs in the autumn of 2012 than at any point in the history of the field."

Of the racial differences in finding work after graduation, "The gap has been persistent across time and was nearly at the same level as a year earlier," the authors said. "Bachelor's degree recipients who are members of racial or ethnic minority groups and found a job once again were much less likely to have found that job in communication than were those bachelor’s degree recipients who were not members of minority groups."

They also said, "Women made up 70.6% of respondents. Members of racial or ethnic minorities made up 21.8% of those returning questionnaires. These sample characteristics are similar to those in recent years. Overall, the sample reflects higher return rates from women and lower return rates from minorities, based on the known characteristics of the 485 schools from which the sample was drawn."

Univision May Win in GOP Boycott of NBC, CNN

"In a highly anticipated move, the Republican National Committee voted unanimously on Friday to deny NBC and CNN the rights to host or sponsor a Republican primary debate unless those two networks cancel their respective Hillary Clinton film projects," Dylan Byers reported Friday for Politico.

" 'CNN and NBC anchors will just have to watch on their competitors' networks,' RNC chairman Reince Priebus told the committee members in Boston.

"While NBC and CNN's competitors stand to benefit from the RNC's decision, there's another potential winner who has gone unmentioned: Univision.

"On Friday, RNC communications director Sean Spicer told POLITICO that the boycott would extend to NBC and CNN's Spanish-language channels: Telemundo and CNN Español.

" 'My understanding is that they both would be excluded,' Spicer wrote in an email.

"That leaves Univision, the country's leading Spanish-language network, as the obvious go-to for any Republican primary debate targeted toward America's rapidly growing Latino population, which the GOP is [desperate] to make inroads with in 2016. . . ."

Teshima Walker, NPR Producer and "Sistergirl," Dies at 44

Teshima Walker

Teshima Walker, award-winning executive producer of NPR's "Tell Me More," died Friday at 44 after a two-year battle with colon cancer, NPR announced. Her passing surprised acquaintances, as she kept her illness private.

"Since 2011, Walker was the executive producer for NPR's midday news program Tell Me More, hosted by Michel Martin. Walker was part of the public radio family for more than a decade," an NPR announcement said. "She first joined the afternoon newsmagazine All Things Considered as a journalism fellow in 2000. Later she spent three years as a producer for The Tavis Smiley Show, and then for News and Notes. In 2007, Walker signed on as senior supervising producer of Tell Me More, and served the program in various capacities for the next six years. A Chicago native, Walker first came to NPR by way of WBEZ, where she was a senior producer for morning newsmagazine Eight Forty-Eight.

"Walker's NPR colleagues knew her as a 'Southside Chicago girl to the core,' with an infectious laugh, and as someone who put herself aside for everyone."

Martin told Journal-isms via email, "what I particularly appreciate about Teshima is that she brought the Southside to NPR and proved you could be both and do both exceptionally well. She was sistergirl in every sense of the word — she loved Chicago, AKA [Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority], booty shorts, barbecue, sisterlocks — and she was the consummate professional: tough, smart, fair, open minded, decisive. If anybody still doubts you can be all those things together, Teshima put that totally to rest. We are devastated to lose her, but so much for having had her in our lives."

Producer Jonathan Blakley messaged from Cairo, "I was not only her colleague at NPR, I also worked with her through the WABJ's Urban Journalism Workshop," referring to the Washington Association of Black Journalists. "The teenagers absolutely LOVED 'Ms. Teshima'! I know the young journalists she mentored wanted to grow up and be just like her — dynamic, strong and passionate about life and journalism. I hope and pray that through her mentoring, our profession will one day have more journalists like her Yet, there will only be one 'Ms. Teshima'."

Referring to the student projects of the National Association of Black Journalists, NABJ President Bob Butler said, "I first met Teshima when I joined student projects in 2002. She insisted that I go on with Michel Martin frequently during the trial of those responsible for killing Chauncey Bailey," the Oakland journalist.

"She was a bad sister who knew her way around radio and could always be counted on to greet you with a big smile."

Although Walker's job was executive producer — running the day-to-day operations of the show, including programming, talent development, hiring and strategic planning — she also wrote occasionally. In 2010, after watching the Grammy Awards, she wrote about "the hold that blond hair has had" on black women.

When Tyler Perry's movie "Why Did I Get Married?" opened in 2007, Walker wrote that she was tired of stereotypes. "[C]an I just tell you that I'm a black woman with an extra-extra large behind. And if I had a dollar for every time I saw a character in a movie where a fat black woman was an emotional victim, the center of a hurtful fat joke, the prayerful matron of all thin women and children, I'd buy my own damn studio and write movies about real, everyday fat women. . . ."

Walker is survived by her husband, writer Jimi Izrael; her parents, William and Vonceal Walker; and her sister, Eureva Walker.

Advice on Diversity From a Middle-Aged White Guy: Do It

Steve Buttry

"A busy editor might be tempted to dismiss diversity as a buzzword or a lofty goal you don't have time for. You need to regard it as a matter of journalistic integrity and business survival," Steve Buttry, digital transformation editor for Digital First Media, wrote Thursday.

Digital First Media owns 50 newspapers in 11 states among 800 multiplatform products.

"Accuracy is the core of journalistic integrity, and your news will more accurately reflect the events and issues of your community as your staff better reflects your community," Buttry continued. "And your news organization will have a more prosperous future if your content appeals to the entire community, not just the aging white audience you probably have now. Your content will have broader appeal if your staff brings broader experiences and perspectives to news coverage.

"The top editor needs to say the right things about diversity, but actions always trump words, so what you do is far more important than anything you say.

"So here's some advice from a middle-aged white guy for recruiting, hiring and retaining a diverse staff and for making sure that your content reflects the diversity of your community . . ."

His points included, "Seek diverse pools of job candidates," "Don't overvalue experience," "Give someone a chance (like you got)," "Learn about comfort factors," "Think beyond race and gender," "Cultivate diverse students and interns," "Analyze your news content," "Value diverse opinions," "Don’t diminish anyone’s opportunity" and "Think of other diversity factors."

Buttry also said, "Discussion of diversity and hires that increase diversity sometimes bring a dismissive response, particularly from white males. We may dismiss a hire or promotion as 'reverse discrimination' or 'political correctness.' That’s generally bullshit and you shouldn't practice or tolerate any talk that diminishes opportunities for qualified people. . . . "

Pitts: Superficial Coverage of Race Amounts to Silence

Leonard Pitts Jr. (Credit: Johnny Louis/

"By acceding to this conspiracy of silence, we as journalists — and I would also indict the school system in this — we have helped create a generation of socio-historical idiots where race is concerned," syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. has told Florida journalism groups.

"You may think that description is a little harsh. I would ask you to spend some quality time talking to some of my many earnest readers who insist with a straight face that conservatives fought for civil rights in the 1960s and died to stop slavery in the 1860s. You may just change your mind."

In a July 18 keynote speech to the Florida Society of News Editors and the Florida Press Association, reprinted July 29 in the Miami Herald, Pitts said "the silence we have embraced is poisonous.

"So it is not enough to cover the Trayvon Martin trial. We should have already been writing about the forces that made that trial a sensation, meaning this abiding perception that black equals criminal. We should have been asking local police chiefs and district attorneys how it is that African Americans commit, say, 15 percent of drug crimes in a given jurisdiction, yet account for upwards of 70 percent of those doing time for drug crime.

"It is not enough to cover the 'beer summit' that ensued when a black professor was arrested on his own front porch. We should have been writing more about the disparities in educational achievement that make an African American man on a college campus such a rarity in the first place.

"It is not enough to write about the sliming of Shirley Sherrod. We should have been writing about what seems to some of us an organized attempt by elements on the political right to stir racial resentment, to give those resentments moral and intellectual cover, and to use them as a lever of political power.

"It is not enough to write about the opening of the Martin Luther King monument on the Washington Mall. We should have been writing about the erosion of progress toward the Dream he famously articulated there.

"In other words, we need to draw the through line, so that when President Obama is called 'uppity' or people pretend there is some controversy over where he was born, there is no question where that is coming from. We need to provide context so that when a district attorney seeks to try six black children for attempted murder after a schoolyard fight, people are already equipped to understand the rage that boils in some of us who have been down this road too many times before.

"This matters. Virtually every domestic issue that you cover — crime, poverty, the economy, the environment, education – is impacted by race. So helping our audiences understand what race means, what it is and how it still works, could not be more vital. . . ."

Fusion Network Will Be "Very Loud Voice" on Immigration

"Jorge Ramos, the top-rated Spanish-language news anchor and a vocal immigration advocate, said he's prepared to put pressure on members of Congress if a reform bill isn't passed by the time the Fusion television network launches this fall," Michael Calderone wrote Thursday for the Huffington Post.

" 'We're going to come out on Oct. 28th, and if the House doesn't approve immigration reform by then, then there's going to be a new, very loud voice in Fusion, talking about immigration every single night until immigration reform passes,' Ramos said in an interview with The Huffington Post.

"Ramos added that the English-language Fusion is prepared to 'own' the immigration story upon October's launch. 'It's going to be ours from the first hour,' he said. 'There's no question about it.' . . . "

"The Butler" Moving to Top Weekend Box Office

"Lee Daniels' The Butler is moving quickly to claim the top spot at the box office this weekend, while Jobs, a biopic about late Apple founder Steve Jobs, is turning into something of an iFlop," Gregg Kilday and Pamela McClintock wrote Friday for the Hollywood Reporter.

They continued, " 'The Butler,'  produced for $30 million, entered the crowded late-summer fray with more advance ticket sales than any of the weekend's other three new wide releases. And strong showings at matinee screenings point to a Friday gross for the film of an estimated $8-9 million and a weekend haul of around $25 million, well above prerelease estimates for The Weinstein Co. release, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. . . ."

The film stars Whitaker "as Cecil Gaines, an African American man born a sharecropper's son in Georgia, who comes to Washington in the 1950s and eventually serves eight U.S. presidents as a White House butler. (The film is based on a Washington Post article written by Wil Haygood in 2008)," Ann Hornaday explained this week in the Washington Post.

In a front-page story on Tuesday, Hornaday, the Post's film critic, wrote that "The Butler" "is the first major feature film to capture the full sweep and scope of the civil rights movement, including its global reverberations. . . ."

"For that reason, if 'The Butler' does well at the box office, projects about the same era that have been stalled over the past several years may find renewed momentum. Conversely, should the film flop, some of Hollywood's most pernicious myths — most pointedly that there are not wide audiences for historical dramas in general and black films in particular — will become all the more entrenched.

" 'Yikes,' said Daniels, who visited Washington last week, when he considered 'The Butler' as a cinematic and cultural bellwether. Upon reflection, however, it's a burden he was happy to accept. 'If it opens the doors for other civil rights films and African American dramas, right on,' he said. 'That’s a great thing. Anything to help the cause.'

"At least four major film or television projects about the civil rights movement are in the works: DreamWorks is developing an untitled Martin Luther King Jr. biopic. 'Memphis,' about King’s final days and the hunt for his assassin, is back on track with director Paul Greengrass and producer Scott Rudin after being dropped by Universal Pictures in 2011. Director Ava DuVernay is preparing to direct 'Selma,' about the 1965 voting rights campaign (a film that Daniels himself once intended to direct). And 'America: In the King Years,' based on Taylor Branch's trilogy of civil rights books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Parting the Waters,' is in development as a seven-part mini-series at HBO. . . . "

Twenty John S. Knight fellows describe their projects in videos on the Knight fellowship site.

Knight Fellows Describe "Re-Engineering Journalism"

Mary Aviles, a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University, above, is creating Vtza, "a unique service for Spanish-speaking news consumers — one that makes it easy for them to curate news in their own language." As she explains in this short talk, Aviles' work sprang out of her own frustration at how difficult it was to find news from multiple sources about her native Venezuela. "Vtza, currently in beta, is drawing interest from Latin American news outlets and more than a dozen are providing content for its testing," the Knight program announces. Aviles is one of 20 Knight fellows who describe their projects in videos on the Knight fellowship site. The 2012-13 class was among the most diverse of any journalism fellowship program. (video)

C-SPAN Plans Week of Eyewitness Accounts on Civil Rights

"In collaboration with the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, C-SPAN3's American History TV presents the eyewitness accounts of the men and women who carried the civil rights movement forward through the tumultuous decades of the 1950s and 1960s," C-SPAN announced Thursday.

"As the country marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington this August, American History TV brings the voices and stories of the civil rights movement to a national audience with five nights of prime time programming starting at 8pm on August 19.

"Hear from . . .

"August 19 at 8pm ET

  • "Joseph Lowery who describes how he was forced to hide in a Montgomery, Alabama hotel from the Ku Klux Klan just as he, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others worked to create the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in hopes of taking the civil rights movement nationwide.

"August 20 at 8pm ET

  • "Freeman Hrabowski — now the president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County — who recalls Dr. King's 1963 appeal to children to march for civil rights and how, at 12, he answered the call only to be forced into a police wagon, detained behind bars in a juvenile facility and separated for five days from his parents.

"August 21 at 8pm ET

  • "Sisters Dorie Ladner and Joyce Ladner who remember their friend Medgar Evers, the NAACP Mississippi field officer gunned down in his driveway by a sniper, and who explain their own field work and determination 'to get their freedom' despite constant threats and intimidation.

"August 22 at 8pm ET

  • "David and Satoko Ackerman, one-time classmates of the Rev. Jesse Jackson at the Chicago Theological Seminary, who answered Dr. King's plea for 'all people of goodwill' to go to Selma, Alabama to stand against racial segregation, and who soon realized how they — a white man and a Japanese woman — were being safeguarded by those they had traveled to Alabama to protect."

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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