Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

"Diversity . . . Takes Work"

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Networks Recruit, Pay Stipends to Attract Interns

NBC News, embarrassed by the disclosure that the summer internship class at "NBC Nightly News" had no students of color, as reported last week, says it plans to reach out to the journalist of color organizations to help fix the problem.

"Our News managers select our unpaid summer interns based on the strength of their resumes. They are interviewed by telephone prior to their selection. In previous years, our interns have better reflected American society," "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams wrote Wednesday on his blog.

"I have always said that diversity makes us better, and it takes work.

". . . Therefore, I have spoken to Steve Capus, the President of NBC News, and going forward, racial diversity will now also be a factor in our unpaid summer internship program, because our newsrooms have to better reflect our society," Williams wrote then.

NBC spokeswoman Barbara Levin today told Journal-isms, "NBC News has attended and recruited interns at the minority journalists conventions for years and has provided the resumes from those conventions to the people who run the NBC internship program. (NBC News recruits for all sorts of jobs other than internships at the conventions as well.)

"What will be different this year, is that instead of just giving those resumes to those who run the NBC internship program, NBC NEWS will now do its own internship recruitment program with each minority journalist association."

Judging from the efforts of some other media organizations, the key to having a diverse intern class is to dispense with NBC's original notion of color-blindness – selecting solely by telephone interviews and resumes. Paying the interns helps, as students of color are less able to work for free.

"ABC News offers a number of paid and unpaid internships every semester," ABC spokeswoman Natalie Raabe said today. "The paid internship program was instituted in 2000 for students of color who demonstrate a solid interest in journalism and network news."

At ABC, she continued, "The semester-long internships are offered in ABC News bureaus in New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta. Additionally, ABC News has formed strategic partnerships with programs around the country to encourage students of color to pursue journalism as a career."

At National Public Radio, the interns "are 30 percent minority," as are 40 percent of the intern candidates, Emily Lenzner, an NPR spokeswoman, told Journal-isms. Summer interns are paid $7 per hour; fall and winter internships are unpaid, she said. "Paying interns means we get a broader economic/educational cross section of talent," said Doug Mitchell, who oversees the newsmagazine that NPR interns produce three times a year, "Intern Edition."

"Obviously, it's very much a priority to NPR to have as diverse an intern program as possible," Lenzner said, adding that the network recruits in the late fall and in early December in the African American and Asian American communities, and has started to do so among Latinos and Native Americans.

CBS has established a "News Apprenticeship Program" whose goals include "to attract a diverse pool of talented individuals who will contribute to our story selection and execution." It is offered at CBS television stations in Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Green Bay, Wis.; Los Angeles; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Sacramento, Calif.; Salt Lake City and San Francisco.

The apprenticeships last for six months and candidates earn from $9 to $15 per hour, depending on market size.

However, the internships at CBS News headquarters are unpaid, according to CBS News publicist Janell George. She said diversity is achieved by recruiting at historically black colleges and at universities with large Hispanic populations. The National Association of Black Journalists provides two internships a year, she said. CBS does not disclose its diversity figures, she said, but George asserted, "CBS News considers having a diverse intern class a priority and we follow through on it."

Fox News Channel proudly touts its paid apprenticeship program, created by CEO Roger Ailes and now in its third year. It is defined as an annual merit-based program, "part of a diversity initiative at FOX News designed to attract and develop minority employees."

"The apprentices [were] trained in various departments at FOX News, ranging from production to technical operations to viewer services, and were each paired with a mentor who guided them on a daily basis," a program description says.

Because of the program, a cleaning lady is now a makeup artist, a former Army officer now heads up the graphics department and a freelance desk assistant is now a booker, the network says.

Fouzia Bouanane, who was part of the Fox News cleaning and maintenance department, is now a makeup artist, applying makeup for the news anchors and on-air guests.

Francisco (Franky) Cortes discovered a talent for on-air graphics, and is now in charge of graphics for 32 Fox News Shows around the country. And Cory Howard, formerly a freelance desk assistant, answering phones and doing entry-level assignments at Fox News, today is the booker for "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren," selecting guests, the network said.

Perhaps the most important criterion for developing an inclusive intern class is the corporate culture, according to George Benge, a news executive at Gannett Co., the nation's largest newspaper company. Gannett reported in September that, "the percentage of interns of color at Gannett newspapers climbed from 48.1 percent in 2004 to 52.1 percent."

[Added Aug. 16: "Broadcast's message is good too....24% of interns are minorities, 65% are women. The goal is to reflect our communities and we do - by at least 150%," Gannett spokeswoman Tara Connell said via e-mail.]

"If it's part of the culture and people know it's an important part of your culture, it's something you don't have to harp on or launch programs," Benge told Journal-isms. "It's just what we do."

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Arizona Partnership Creates Broadcast Fellowships

The same day that NBC News Anchor Brian Williams acknowledged that achieving diversity will take work, the Meredith Corp. announced a nationwide fellowship program for 12 broadcast journalism students of color at KPHO-TV in Phoenix.

Participants are to spend a week in January working with instructors from the Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and KPHO reporters, producers, editors and videographers. At week's end, students produce a 30-minute newscast.

"For a long period of time, I have felt our industry could do a much better job of attracting minorities," Steve Hammel, KPHO general manager, told Journal-isms. Since Hammel is on the board of the Cronkite school, he said he raised the idea with its new dean, Chris Callahan, who agreed the idea was a good one. Hammel said Meredith Corp., which owns 14 television stations, also approved. The students are to receive a $2,000 stipend and a leg up on jobs at any of the Meredith stations, Hammel said.

Hammel cautioned that, "I'm not looking at this as an internship. We're hoping they will already have had one internship. We're looking for the best of the best."

Those interested should send a cover letter, resume, three references and a tape, where applicable, to the Meredith Corporation-Cronkite Fellowship Selection Committee, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287. Application materials must be received by Oct. 1.

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Gordon's NPR Show Loses 17 Percent of Audience

National Public Radio's "News and Notes with Ed Gordon" "has lost 17 percent of its original weekly audience – about 185,000 listeners," Eric Deggans wrote today in the St. Petersburg Times.

"Stations in major markets such as Chicago, New York and Cleveland have dropped or downgraded the show. Staffers have been told by NPR management that if they were working on a commercial radio program with comparable listener loss, they would have been canceled by now.

"But, considering that News & Notes is the second, black-focused show to find turbulent times at NPR, a sharper question emerges: Is the organization unable to sustain quality programming for black audiences?

"'Sometimes, I feel this show is being allowed to die on the vine,' said Gordon, who nevertheless resisted notions that NPR was failing to program to black people," Deggans wrote.

"'People say I haven't connected with audiences. . . . That's probably true because the show hasn't connected with me,' he added. 'And part of the problem was not knowing what people wanted. Do you want a typical, NPR-type show, or do you try to bring some shade . . . some color to NPR?'"

Gordon is expected to announce Friday that he will host a new New York-based television show produced by Black Enterprise magazine, sources have told Journal-isms.

NPR spokeswoman Andi Sporkin said today, "It's no secret that N&N has been experiencing a significant loss of audience for quite a while and several stations dropped it or downgraded its time period over the past year. While it's very hard to launch a new daily show in public radio, once it's on the air, it rarely sees such fall-off. So this audience rejection has been troubling to everyone. We've made a number of changes over the past months to try and stem the audience tide, and we continue to explore what else should be done," she told Journal-isms.

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Fox Correspondent, Cameraman Kidnapped in Gaza

"A Fox News correspondent and his cameraman were kidnapped Monday in Gaza by Palestinian gunmen who ambushed their vehicle, a spokeswoman for the cable news network confirmed," Matea Gold reported today for the Los Angeles Times.

"Washington-based correspondent Steve Centanni, 60, and freelance cameraman Olaf Wiig, a New Zealand native, were in a parked television transmission van in the center of Gaza City, about to head to their usual live spot location when two vehicles blocked them in.

"A masked man held a gun to their bodyguard, forcing him to the ground, and kidnapped Centanni and Wiig, as well as their translator, who was later released."

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Les Payne Warns on Exploiting Terror-Plot Story

"Transatlantic suicide bombers were to mix cocktails of liquid explosives in flight and blast from the skies as many as a dozen airliners en route from England to the United States. There's nothing like a foiled plot to swell the chests of the authorities – and whet the appetite of the politicians," columnist Les Payne wrote Sunday in Newsday.

". . . Such 'terror plots' call for the media to be ever vigilant against the excesses of the bureaucrat seeking promotion and the elected official seeking votes. Both power centers are capable of exploiting such emergencies. It is the role of the media to eschew propaganda while ferreting out the facts leading toward the truth. A healthy skepticism of authority and politician is in order.

"First, let's deal with the authorities. . . ."

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What Would Miami Do Without Castro?

"He's our tyrant, and we're his mafia," Ana Menendez wrote Sunday in the Miami Herald. "From the outside, it may look like one of the world's most bitter rivalries. But the truth is that Castro and his Miami relatives have spent a half-century writing the greatest love story ever told: a classic tale of outsized egos, betrayal and obsession."

She also wrote, "to a community that has long identified itself primarily in opposition to one man, the disappearance of Fidel Castro could prove paradoxically disastrous.

"For 47 years he's been the black sun everything revolves around, Miami's unofficial, all-powerful anti-deity."

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Mike Kellogg Reelected as NAJA President

Mike Kellogg of Stillwater, Okla., a member of the Navajo nation and publisher of the Stillwater News Press, was reelected president of the Native American Journalists Association by the NAJA board of directors as the association's convention ended in Tulsa, Okla., over the weekend.

Ron Washines was elected vice president; Cristina Azocar was named treasurer and Bryan Pollard was designated secretary. All are currently on the NAJA board.

Hispanics, Blacks Reconnecting with Roots

"Hispanic and African American consumers are reconnecting with their roots more so now than at any other time in the past, according to the Yankelovich MONITOR Multicultural Marketing Study 2006 released today from marketing consultancy Yankelovich Inc. For Hispanics, this strong reconnection means growing the bi-cultural segment of the marketplace; for African Americans, it means creating a new Black renaissance," according to a news release Friday from Yankelovich.

"This year's study also revealed that trust in government and other institutions declined over the past year for African Americans while it remained positive for Hispanics. Yet, both groups still have strong trust in brands.

"The study was developed in collaboration with Burrell Communications, the nation's leading agency specializing in African American and urban markets, and Dr. Felipe Korzenny, professor and director of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University. Now in its third year, the study is the first of its kind to examine consumer behaviors and attitudes and offer comparative and contrasting views of the African American, U.S. Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White markets."

In one finding, "85% of Hispanics say they 'consider myself to be Hispanic first, American second or consider myself to be both American and Hispanic equally.'"

Short Takes

  • "The Chicago Defender is making money for the first time since 1983," Jeremy Mullman reported today in Advertising Age. "The 101-year-old African-American daily newspaper made a modest $117,000 last year on the heels of a $950,000 loss the year before. Roland Martin, the paper's editor and general manager, said he credits better operating efficiency and some profitable event sponsorships for the long-struggling paper's improved business fortunes."
  • "Officials at the state Department of Transportation have begun barring direct access from reporters to the department's 5,700 employees, including department heads, in what they say is a move to be more efficient and deliver a consistent message to the public," Ariel Hart wrote today in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • "Opportunity, education, information and commendation will be at the top of the agenda when the National Association of Black Journalists gathers this week in Indianapolis for its 31st Annual Convention and Career Fair, running Wednesday through Sunday," Allison J. Waldman wrote today in Television Week. "The NABJ, the largest media organization in the world for people of color, anticipates a strong turnout among its 3,000 members, especially in light of the historic events of the past year."
  • "I don't buy the . . . remarkably myopic insinuation that the Chronicle somehow sees black people as second-class citizens and therefore lowercases 'blacks' as confirmation of our institutional legacy. How inane that thought is," Reader Representative James Campbell wrote Sunday in the Houston Chronicle. "Some black readers have written me to suggest we use the term 'African-American,' instead. To them, I say Tony Freemantle. Tony, a longtime Chronicle staffer, was born and raised in South Africa. He later moved to the United States and became an American citizen. Tony is an African-American. He's also white."
  • Jabari Asim, columnist for washingtonpost.com, disagreed Sunday with an Aug. 1 New York Times article on the phenomenon of "sassy, overweight" black actresses in TV commercials. Two women mentioned in the piece "take strong exception to any suggestion that their appearances are a setback for African-Americans, and I heartily agree. . . Citizens from all levels of society dish out large quantities of sass, from the disgruntled burger-flipper at the corner drive-through to the leaders of the Western world," Asim wrote.
  • "Forty-two students returned home last week after intensive journalism training in the sweltering East Coast heat," the Asian American Journalists Association reported. "AAJA's J Camp brought together the multi-cultural group of high school sophomores, juniors and seniors from across the country for the program, July 29 through August 3 at New York University."
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Clarence Williams will become a distinguished visiting lecturer at the School of Mass Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern Mississippi for 2006-07, Chris Campbell, director of the school, announced today. Williams won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography while at the Los Angeles Times, and was the National Association of Black Journalists' 1997 Journalist of the Year. He is working on a long-term project chronicling New Orleans' recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Pearl Stewart continues on the faculty as a part-time visiting professional, helping to expand the Katrina journalism project, designed to provide coverage of underrepresented people and communities affected by the storm, Campbell said.
  • "Insiders say that it's all but official: Richard Parsons, Time Warner's chairman and CEO, will run for mayor," according to Geoffrey Gray in the "New York Intelligencer" column today in New York magazine.
  • "Horacio Cervantes of Univision's KMEX-TV took the honor for news director" at the Los Angeles-area Emmy awards, Cynthia Littleton wrote in the Hollywood Reporter.
  • The low number of women in sports journalism is an issue of retention, Marie Hardin, associate director for research at the Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State University, told Sheila G. Miller Sunday in the Passaic (N.J.) Herald News. "Many women leave the profession after five years or so. It's not that they aren't coming in" to sports journalism, Hardin said. "I think work-family issues really are perhaps the biggest factors driving women out of the profession."
  • "TV can play the role of pathfinder," Harry Roselmack, France's new black television anchor, said, according to a story by Katrin Bennhold today in the International Herald Tribune. "But the other media and all industries in France, not to mention politics, have to go down the same path."
  • "Anyone who loves language and words would prefer 'tar baby' to the less imaginative 'sticky situation,'" Barry Saunders, columnist for the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer, wrote on Friday. He was referring to objections to use of the phrase by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was describing the Big Dig tunnel construction project. Romney apologized.
  • Robert K. Goodwin, president and CEO of the Points of Light Foundation, has again made Nonprofit Times' list of the "Power and Influence Top 50." Goodwin is former managing editor of the Tulsa (Okla.) Eagle and member of a family that spans four generations of journalists, including M. David Goodwin, editor of the Middletown (Ohio) Journal. The Tulsa Press Club honored David's father, James O. Goodwin, and grandfather, the late E.L. Goodwin Sr., in May as Tulsa print icons.
  • "Let's just cut to the chase: It bothers me intensely that as a black man in America, I'm expected to know prominent white folks, yet when it comes to my people, whites have absolutely no clue," columnist Roland S. Martin wrote Friday in his column for Creators Syndicate. Martin was commenting on the August issue of Texas Monthly, which featured a cover tease to a story on Bishop T.D. Jakes and these words inside: "Although many people haven't heard of him, Bishop T.D. Jakes is one of the most famous – and richest – preachers in the country."
  • "A few years ago, my friend Juan Williams told me that he thought we had something in common – namely, how those who represent our communities, or claim to represent them, view us with suspicion and resentment," columnist Ruben Navarrette wrote on Sunday. Navarrette went on to praise Williams' new book, "Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America – And What We Can Do About It."

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 BugMeNot.com 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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