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Diversity at Local Stations Falls for 3rd Year

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

ABC News Says Four of Color Have Become Senior Producers

CBS Picks Jamal Simmons to Analyze Democrats

Hazel Trice Edney Quits as Editor of Black Press Service

Bishop Eddie Long Cancels Tom Joyner Appearance

GOP Stalls Bill on Children of Illegal Immigrants

Calder??n Backs Federalization of Crimes Against Journalists

NATO-Led Force Says Afghan Reporters Support Taliban

New Republic Editor's Remarks on Muslims Spur Protests

Newly Minted Journalist Earns Fatwa After Showing Cartoon

Short Takes

Ernie Suggs, left, Kathy Times and Barbara Ciara of the National Association of Black Journalists meet with ABC News President David Westin in 2008. The network says four people of color have become senior producers there since then. (Credit: NABJ)

ABC News Says Four of Color Have Become Senior Producers

"The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds that the percentage of minority news directors rose in both television and radio. But those were nearly the only positive numbers in the survey. Overall, the percentage of minorities in both radio and television fell for the third straight year, although the drop in TV was small," the Radio Television Digital News Association reported on Wednesday.

"Women in radio news rose slightly, but the percentage of women radio news directors went down, as did both the overall percentage of women in TV news and women TV news directors. The drop in women TV news directors was small, and the percentage of women TV news directors stands at the second-highest level ever.

". . . the bigger picture remains unchanged. In the last 20 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 9.4 percent; but the minority workforce in TV news is up 2.4 percent, and the minority workforce in radio is actually half what it was two decades ago. Still, TV news diversity remains far ahead of newspaper."

The RTNDA study focused on local stations, not the networks. In a separate development at the network level, ABC News identified four people of color who have been named to senior producer positions since the National Association of Black Journalists met with ABC News President David Westin in 2008: Alvin Patrick, Sarah Amos, Jack Date and Catherine McKenzie.

Patrick, who is at "Nightline," and McKenzie, of "Good Morning America," are African American. Date works at "This Week" and Amos at "World News."

Westin announced this month he would step down. "As David mentioned, he has focused on the senior and executive producer positions because they have a strong impact on the editorial content of the programs," ABC spokeswoman Cathie Levine told Journal-isms.

A July 2008 study of network decision-makers by NABJ found that of the executive producers at ABC, six were white, two were Asian American and none was African American, Native American or Hispanic.

In the RTNDA study, survey coordinator Bob Papper noted that the minority population is projected to be at 35.3 percent in 2010, but the minority television workforce is at 20.2 percent and the minority radio workforce at 5 percent. He wrote:

"We end the decade with no gains whatsoever for minorities in TV news, and the percentage of minorities in radio news is down substantially.

"In TV, much of the drop in minority employment - and Hispanics specifically - came from a drop at Hispanic stations. Among non-Hispanic stations, minority employment slipped by just 0.3 percent to 19.3, down from last year's 19.6 percent.

"At non-Hispanic stations, the minority break down is:

  • "10.3 percent African American (up from 9.8 percent)
  • "5.7 percent Hispanic (down from 6.2 percent)
  • "2.8 percent Asian American (down from 3.1 percent)
  • "0.5 percent Native American (unchanged from a year ago)

"In radio, the percentage of minorities fell substantially. All groups dropped except Native American.

"The overall percentage of minority news directors in TV increased by almost two percent last year. It's still below the all-time high, but it's certainly among the highest percentages I've seen. Much of that was fueled by a jump in Asian American news directors.

"At non-Hispanic TV stations, the percentage of minority news directors rose from last year's 7 percent to 8.9 percent. That's just off the all time high of 9.1 percent two years ago. 3.2 percent were African American; 2.5 percent each for Hispanic and Asian American; and 0.7 percent Native American. That's about the same for African American and Native American and up for Hispanic and Asian American.

"The percentage of minority news directors in radio tripled from last year's paltry 2.2 percent to this year's 7 percent. All minority groups went up except Asian American, which slid slightly. Group-owned stations were less likely to have minority news directors than independent stations.

". . . At 2.7 percent last year, it was hard to imagine that minority general managers (at network affiliates that run local news) could become even more white, but they did. Now, under 2 percent of those GMs are minorities. The overall percentage of minority went up slightly because minorities at independent stations went up. Among the network affiliates, ABC and NBC stations were much higher than CBS or Fox - but all were low."

Papper is the Lawrence Stessin distinguished professor of journalism and chair of the Department of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations at Hofstra University.

His survey was conducted "in the fourth quarter of 2009 among all 1,770 operating, non-satellite television stations and a random sample of 4,000 radio stations. Valid responses came from 1,355 television stations (76.6 percent)," he reported.

CBS Picks Jamal Simmons to Analyze Democrats

Jamal SimmonsDemocratic Party tactician Jamal Simmons has been named political analyst for CBS News, to "provide on-air analysis of Democratic strategies and contribute to CBS News broadcasts and platforms across the Network," CBS announced on Wednesday.

"Jamal and his CBS News Republican counterpart Dan Bartlett will make a dynamic team providing our viewers insider scoops and unique insights into the campaigns and the issues," Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, said in a statement.

Simmons is a principal at the Raben Group, a Washington consulting firm. He was a political appointee during the first Bill Clinton administration, in the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Commerce Department, traveled with Clinton during his successful 1992 campaign and served as a communications aide for Vice President Al Gore during his 2000 presidential campaign. He has also been a panelist on CNN, "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" and the BBC, and written for print and Internet publications.

CBS has lagged behind the other networks, particularly those on cable, in its use of political analysts of color. Spokeswoman Sonya McNair confirmed that Simmons is the first for CBS, though such reporters as Ed Bradley and Hal Walker provided analysis in the days before networks hired outsiders like Simmons.

"Yes, there are regulars," Rachel Sklar wrote in January for the Daily Beast: "Apart from straight news (CNN's Don Lemon and Fredricka Whitfield, MSNBC's [Tamron] Hall), there's [Eugene] Robinson, a staple on Morning Joe, plus Jonathan [Capehart], Harold Ford, and, occasionally, NBC News VP Mark Whitaker. [Donna] Brazile is on CNN, Gwen Ifill on PBS, and NPR's Michele Norris on an ABC or NBC Sunday-morning roundtable here and there. Tour?© was briefly a regular on Dylan Ratigan's show, and we'll see John Ridley on Morning Joe when they're out in L.A. And hey, MSNBC viewers do see Tom Joyner all the time, but that, alas, is in an ad for his show."

Simmons' appointment is effective immediately, the network said. The hiring of Simmons and Bartlett continues a trend of using political partisans to provide analyses once performed almost exclusively by journalists.

Hazel Trice Edney Quits as Editor of Black Press Service

Hazel Trice EdneyHazel Trice Edney, who provided news stories for the nation's black newspapers as editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, has resigned with a letter that asserts, "it is clear that my vision for the ethical running of the NNPA News Service is incompatible with that which has been outlined by the board’s leadership, which is made up of people whom I highly respect. The differences in principles are irreconcilable."

Dorothy R. Leavell, chair of the NNPA Foundation, told Journal-isms on Wednesday, "We are working to have a smooth separation with Hazel" and planned to reorganize the operation to upgrade it with newer technology.

In the meantime, veteran journalist Askia Muhammad of the Final Call, the Washington Informer and WPFW-FM in Washington, has been functioning as assignment editor with assistance from Richette Haywood, a former staff writer at Johnson Publishing Co., publishers of Ebony and Jet magazines, she said.

Edney was named editor-in-chief of the news service in 2007, succeeding George E. Curry. She had been a 20-year veteran reporter for the black press and NNPA's Washington correspondent for seven years, working under Curry. In addition to her duties as editor-in-chief, she was also interim executive director of the NNPA Foundation.

She was a Wasserman Fellow on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, where she earned a master's in public administration in 1999

Edney tendered her letter of resignation Sept. 8 and left on Friday. She said Wednesday night that the letter, obtained by Journal-isms, "speaks for itself." In it, she challenged a rebuke she received from board members, who charged that the news service was not acting in concert with NNPA, which had undertaken a "strong direction to assert the power of the NNPA." That drive had netted more than $150,000, Edney wrote that she was told.

"I cannot believe that board members have confessed in writing that you are requiring professional journalists to support an 'editorial direction' that is based on a 'drive' for money for the Foundation, NNPA papers or otherwise. Perhaps a public relations arm could resolve this issue. But, our publishers must know that the stories that they are printing are based purely on the quest for justice; not on attempts to extort or curry favors," Edney wrote.

Danny J. Bakewell Sr., publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel and chair of the NNPA board of directors, was traveling and could not be reached for comment.

Leavell said the organization would begin seeking applicants for the editor-in-chief job.

Edney said she would announce her own plans soon and added, "I love NNPA," with which she has worked for 25 years. "It will always remain an honored media entity to me," she said.

CNN said it broke the story of the lawsuits against Bishop Eddie Long on Tuesday's edition of "The Situation Room." (Video)

Bishop Eddie Long Cancels Tom Joyner Appearance

Mega-church leader Bishop Eddie Long canceled a scheduled appearance on radio's syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show" Thursday after a third man filed a lawsuit accusing the prominent minister of using his pastoral influence to coerce him into a sexual relationship, Megan Matteucci and Christian Boone reported Thursday for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"Craig Gillen, an attorney for Long, was interviewed on the radio program instead."

"Gillen said Long was 'chomping at the bit' to speak out on the the show, but that he had advised against it," the AJC's Shelia M. Poole reported.

"These false allegations are an attack on Bishop Long personally. They are an attack on New Birth and all of the 25,000 good people who attend that church, and it's an attack on the mentoring program that has helped thousands of young men," Gillen said.

Reaction to the lawsuits reverberated both locally and nationally — "and that was before a third suit was filed Wednesday afternoon," Larry Hartstein and Mike Morris wrote Wednesday for the Atlanta news organization.

Long, who has spoken out against gay marriage, heads a 25,000-member megachurch that hosted the funeral for Coretta Scott King.

"President George W. Bush and three former presidents visited the sprawling New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia for the 2006 funeral of Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.," Errin Haines and Greg Bluestein wrote Wednesday for the Associated Press. "Long introduced the speakers and the Rev. Bernice King, the Kings' younger daughter, delivered the eulogy. She is also a pastor there."

"CNN and Good Morning America both ran pieces on the lawsuits, as did the local TV news shows.

"It was a major topic on local urban-themed radio stations. On the 'Frank and Wanda Morning Show' on V-103, host Frank Ski held off on discussing the lawsuits until after 8 o'clock because, he said, 'we're going to get the kids off to school' first. . . .

"Across the radio dial on Kiss 104.1, Roland Martin interviewed the plaintiff’s attorney, B.J. Bernstein, on the nationally syndicated 'Tom Joyner Morning Show.' "

The Joyner show had announced that Joyner would "talk exclusively" with Long at 7:15 am ET on Thursday.

CNN said it broke the story Tuesday when CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera reported on the lawsuits on "the Situation Room." [Updated Sept. 23]

GOP Stalls Bill on Children of Illegal Immigrants

"Republican lawmakers on Tuesday stalled a Senate measure to allow children of undocumented immigrants to get on a path to citizenship, and accused the Obama administration of seeking amnesty for illegal immigrants through administrative changes within the Department of Homeland Security," Shankar Vedantam reported Wednesday for the Washington Post.

"The Dream Act, which would grant permanent residency to immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and who have completed some time in college or in the armed forces has been a sought-after goal for Democrats, who attached the measure to an important defense spending bill. Republicans used a procedural vote to block the bill. Immigration advocates accused Republicans of sacrificing the well-being of thousands of young people to cater to nativist sentiment."

Calder??n Backs Federalization of Crimes Against Journalists

"Calling the right to free expression a priority of his government, Mexican President Felipe Calder??n Hinojosa pledged today to push for legislation that would make attacks on journalists a federal crime," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Wednesday from Mexico City.

"In a lengthy meeting with a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Inter American Press Association, the president also said federal authorities will soon implement a program to provide security to at-risk journalists, one modeled after a successful effort in Colombia.

" 'We categorically reject any attack against journalists because this is an assault against democratic society,' Calder??n said. "It pains me that Mexico is seen as one of the most dangerous places for the profession."

NATO-Led Force Says Afghan Reporters Support Taliban

"International forces arrested two Afghan journalists during raids of their homes in the early hours of Monday and Wednesday on suspicion of collaborating with the Taliban, the United States military said Wednesday, Rod Nordland reported for the New York Times.

"On Saturday, the Afghan intelligence agency also arrested a radio reporter who was the leader of the Kapisa Province journalists’ association, according to a spokesman for the governor, who would not say what the charges were.

"The journalists included a staff correspondent for Al Jazeera, Mohammed Nader, arrested about 4 a.m. Wednesday in Kandahar, and a freelancer who worked both for Al Jazeera and The Associated Press.

". . . The international forces initially did not announce its arrests of the journalists, saying only that Taliban 'facilitators' had been detained.

"The American military has frequently arrested journalists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, holding them for long periods of time before releasing them without charges. So far as is known, no journalists have been convicted by a court on charges of working for insurgents either in Afghanistan or in Iraq.

"Family members and colleagues complained the journalists had been accused of having contacted the Taliban, something both foreign and local journalists do regularly in Afghanistan."

A spokeswoman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, Maj. Sunset Belinsky, disputed that assertion in a telephone interview.

" 'They were apprehended because we had good information they were associated with Taliban activity,' she said. 'Doing due journalistic diligence would not be enough to get arrested. But being with the insurgents while they were planning or instigating operations would be.' "

The Jazeera bureau chief in Kabul, Samer Allawi, said, "They are both journalists who were just gathering news as any other journalist would do," the Times reported.

New Republic Editor's Remarks on Muslims Spur Protests

Martin PeretzA provocative blog post by New Republic Editor Martin Peretz has set off a controversy at Harvard over whether the university should allow the longtime Harvard instructor to be honored at a ceremony on Saturday, Tracy Jan reported in the Boston Globe last week.

"Distinguished alumni, professors, and other fans of Peretz have spent the past six months raising more than half a million dollars to establish an undergraduate research fund named after Peretz, who taught at Harvard for more than 40 years, until about five years ago. They plan to honor Peretz as part of a daylong celebration Sept. 25 marking the 50th anniversary of Harvard’s social studies major.

"But the honor has become controversial following a blog post Peretz authored on Sept. 4. He wrote, 'Frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims,' and asserted that Muslims have hardly 'raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood.' "

Newly Minted Journalist Earns Fatwa After Showing Cartoon

Abdulahi Ibrahim Dasar"Very little knowledge of English and difficulty clicking the South African isiXhosa language did not stop 28-year-old Abdulahi Ibrahim Dasar, a Somali refugee in South Africa, from venturing into small-scale kiosk work selling groceries, Clifford Derrick wrote from Johannesburg Wednesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Business was picking up until the streets suddenly erupted in deadly xenophobic violence in May 2008, Derrick continued. So Dasar teamed up with a friends to launch a bimonthly magazine, Qurba-joog (Somali for "diaspora").

"Even though Dasar had no journalism training or experience in the profession, the six-page publication did well among the Somali nationals in Cape Town, where it mainly circulated. As a credit to his success, Dasar was asked to become a reporter for Universal TV, a U.K.-based Somali-language satellite network with correspondents and offices in Cape Town. Reporting on local Somali community affairs, he was growing as a journalist.

"However, as if caught in d?©j?† vu, Dasar's life was turned upside down again in May, two years after his business was destroyed. During a report on the public controversy surrounding South Africa's Mail & Guardian's publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, Dasar displayed on the air a copy of the newspaper page with the cartoon. . . .

"For showing the Mail & Guardian's cartoon while reporting on the controversy, Dasar also became a target of Somalia's Al-Shabaab insurgents, particularly the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab, which have in the past claimed responsibility for killings of journalists in Somalia. The group first banned Universal TV in its strongholds in Somalia and issued a fatwa calling for Dasar's assassination.

" . . . Currently without a job or income and uncertain of what his future holds, Dasar told me he remains a committed Muslim and a member of the independent press and nothing will force him from either. His immediate concern, however, is protecting his life."

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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