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Does Black or Latino Ownership Matter?

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Question Raised as Huffington Takes Over AOL Sites

Trymaine Lee One of Six Hired by Huffington Post

China Announces New Restrictions on Foreign Journalists 

Dr. King Comic Shows Power of Cartooning in Arab World

In Rodney King Case, a President Could Speak His Mind

Congress Ends $24.5 Million Funding for Reading Program

Bloomberg News Is Hiring for New Opinion Outlet

Short Takes

Question Raised as Huffington Takes Over AOL Sites

"Now that AOL’s acquisition of Huffington Post has closed, Arianna Huffington will take control of AOL Latino, AOL Black Voices and other AOL sites as part of the $315 million deal that puts the Huffington Post under the AOL umbrella," Richard Prince wrote Monday for the Poynter Institute.

"Between now and July, HuffPost GlobalBlack, a new black-oriented Huffington Post project, expects to hire about eight Monica C. Lozanostaffers as it brings to life a brainstorm from Huffington and Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television.

"As Peter Steiner’s New Yorker cartoon famously pointed out, on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. But do people know whether you’re black or Latino? Or at least that you have those groups’ best interests at heart?

"Whether these ventures can show the love could be key to their success.

" 'The last decade is full of failed websites targeting Latinos,' notes Monica C. Lozano, chief executive officer of ImpreMedia, which calls itself the nation’s leading Hispanic news and information company. Its network includes nine print publications and 11 online properties, claiming a monthly reach of 7.7 million adults and monthly distribution of nearly 7 million. It is not Hispanic-owned.

Barry Cooper ". . . 'I want people to have a relationship with the communities they serve. … If you’re motivated not by serving your customers but by serving the advertisers, you end up making different choices. If it’s not core to what you do, it’s tangential … and when you don’t get the traffic on the Web,' you move on to something else."

Also quoted are Barry Cooper and Gary Dauphin, former leaders of Black Voices; Joel Dreyfuss of; Ruben Navarrette of the Washington Post Writers Group; and writer Frank McCoy, a former editor at Black Enterprise.

“In my experience the importance of black ownership waxes and wanes depending on two things: what a site is trying to achieve, and what kind of non-black people you’re working with," Dauphin said.

Trymaine Lee One of Six Hired by Huffington Post

After AOL and the Huffington Post sealed the deal Monday in which AOL agreed to pay $315 million for the pioneering Web-only newspaper co-founded by Arianna Huffington, the new Huffington Post Media group announced the addition of six new hires to its reporting team, including Trymaine Lee, formerly of the New York Times.

Trymaine Lee

"Yahoo's Michael Calderone has been named Senior Media Reporter, the New York Times' Trymaine Lee has been named Senior Reporter, the New York Daily News' Michael McAuliff has been named Senior Congressional Reporter, and The Daily's Jon Ward has been named Senior Political Reporter. Bonnie Kavoussi, about to graduate from Harvard, has been named Business Reporter, and Lucas Kavner, the founding editor of Unigo, which covered college life, has been named Entertainment Reporter," an announcement said.

". . . The young reporters are part of the Huffington Post’s Jefferson Program for Young Journalists, an initiative to nurture new journalistic talent by pairing them with seasoned editors, writers, and reporters. The program is named for the founding father who said that if he had to choose between government without a free press, or a press without a government, he'd readily pick the latter."

Lee, 32, left the Times in January. "I guess, simply put, we parted ways after the Times opted not to promote me from intermediate reporter status," Lee told Journal-isms.

"For four years I had the pleasure of working with some of the smartest reporters and editors in the business, and I am grateful for the experience. I am a better journalist for it.

"Now, I have the opportunity to do high impact journalism on exciting new platforms for a very dynamic, forward-thinking, smartly-run organization."

According to his Times bio, Lee covered Harlem for the Times Metro desk. "Prior to joining The Times in late 2006, he was a staff writer at the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans, where he was part of a team that won a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Hurricane Katrina coverage. He also contributed reporting to the Times's 2009 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the Eliot Spitzer scandal and is a past recipient of the National Association of Black Journalists Emerging Journalist of the Year Award."

Peter S. Goodman, Huffington Post executive business editor, hired Janell Ross of the Tennessean in Nashville, another African American journalist, in January after a piece noted the site's refusal to release its diversity figures. Goodman passed the word that he was interested in hearing from more candidates of color.

China Announces New Restrictions on Foreign Journalists

"One week after foreign journalists were physically harassed by security officers — and one videographer beaten so badly that he had to be hospitalized — China's foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, denied that the police took part in beating any reporters and said the government follows 'the rule of law,' Keith B. Richburg reported late Monday for the Washington Post.

" 'At the same time, we hope that the foreign journalists will abide by the Chinese laws and regulations,' Yang said Monday at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the country's largely rubber-stamp parliament. 'There is no such issue as Chinese police officers beating foreign journalists.'

"The minister's denial, which was contradicted by witness and video accounts, came as [the] government announced new restrictions on foreign journalists working here — essentially repealing the loosened reporting policy put in place during the 2008 Beijing Olympics to showcase a more modern, less authoritarian China to the world.

"Under the new rules, announced over the weekend, foreign journalists must have government permission to interview anyone in a public area in China. Under the 2008 rules, reporters could interview any Chinese citizen who gave their consent."

Dr. King Comic Shows Power of Cartooning in Arab World

Comic-book translator Dalia Ziada (Photo credit: Dalia Ziada via"It was August of 2006 when Dalia Ziada, a young Egyptian writer, discovered her favorite comic-book action hero. He trumpeted justice. He preached of nonviolent pressure. And he had dreams of a promised land that protest might bring," Michael Cavna reported for the Comic Riffs section of the Washington Post website.

"Ziada had just heard the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

" 'It was amazing and really moved me,' says Ziada, now 29 and a Cairo-based activist. 'Since then, I decided to use MLK nonviolent strategies in everything in my life, starting from my personal life to major political participation and civil problems — and it worked perfectly.'

"Ziada tried out some of King's strategies that very August night, when she applied verbal 'pressure and negotiation' to win a battle with her uncle, who was planning to have Ziada's 8-year-old niece circumcised in the morning.

"And Ziada was also motivated politically, as she decided to translate a half-century-old American comic book about King into Arabic. 'The main motive [was] for me to have this book available for the young activists in the region,' says Ziada, noting that King was a young man 'when he launched his movement.'

" 'Since first publishing the book in 2008, Ziada and her group, the American Islamic Congress, say they have distributed thousands of Arabic-language issues of 'Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story' in the Middle East, including in Tahrir Square at the height of January's revolution.

" 'The book is testament not only to the power of King's message, Ziada tells Comic Riffs, but also to the popularity of cartooning in the Arab world, especially among the younger generation. And she is just one of many Arab comic publishers and cartoonists who believe passionately that their work can help inform, inflame and open the hearts and minds of their Mideast readers in the throes of revolution.' "

An image from the video of the 1991 Rodney King beating, enhanced for the ensuing federal trial.

In Rodney King Case, a President Could Speak His Mind

CNN showed the Don Lemon-hosted "Race and Rage," its 20-year retrospective on the March 3, 1991, beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police, six times on Friday and Saturday, a CNN spokeswoman said.

"King was tasered, kicked, and beaten by officers on the scene. He received more than 50 baton blows that crushed bones, shattered teeth, injured his kidneys, and fractured his skull," CNN recalled in its news release.

"King became a visual symbol of police brutality, but the officers were acquitted in the original trial. News of the acquittal ignited anger that erupted into riots in Los Angeles that lasted for days. Over 50 people were killed, businesses were looted and burned, and even cities as far away as Atlanta reported violence inspired by the news of the verdict."

Eric Deggans, commenting on the CNN site and on his own media blog for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, cited George Holliday, a nearby resident who grabbed his home video camera and filmed the incident, as one who "became the leading edge in a revolution of technology and social attitude that has made amateur reporters of us all." Holliday produced a national sensation and the cornerstone of an excessive force trial against the Los Angeles Police Department.

But another piece of footage grabbed this viewer's attention.

It was President George H.W. Bush, who watched the tape like other Americans and declared, "It was sickening to see the beating that was rendered. There's no way in my view to explain that away. It's outrageous." News reports at the time focused on Bush's continued defense of Police Chief Daryl Gates, a longtime political supporter, not on his reaction to the video.

The reaction by pundits and the public was in marked contrast to what greeted President Obama after he was asked at a news conference in 2009 about the police arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., a fellow African American, at his own Cambridge, Mass., home.

Obama said, "I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry. No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And, No. 3, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African Americans' and Latinos' being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact.''

The uproar was immediate. "President Obama had no business stepping into what started out as a relatively minor local squabble, let alone passing judgment on an incident with which he was unfamiliar," columnist Robert Z. Nemeth of the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette wrote in a widely articulated view.

Obama was forced to eat his words. "I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up," the president said in an appearance in the White House briefing room, the New York Times reported.

''I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically, and I could have calibrated those words differently.'' His reference was to Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley, who later participated in a White House "beer summit" with Gates, Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden.

Congress Ends $24.5 Million Funding for Reading Program

Young people can't grow up to be journalists if they're not literate, and this week's "Fox News Sunday" called attention to a blow to literacy efforts in its "Power Player of the Week" feature.

"As we've said, Congress passed and President Obama signed a two-week extension the other day to keep the government running, while also cutting $4 billion from the budget. We wanted to find out what that means to a program," host Chris Wallace said.

From the transcript:

"Carol Rasco is head of the Reading Is Fundamental child literacy program. . . . she would learn federal funding for RIF, $24.5 million a year, has been eliminated.

"It now gives away 15 million books a year to more than four million children at 17,000 sites across the country.

"RASCO: I don't go anywhere to talk about RIF that I don't have people come up to me and say, 'I want to show you the first RIF book I ever got. And I want to tell you what it meant in my life.'

". . . WALLACE: But the Obama administration decided RIF should be lumped in with other literacy programs. And now House Republicans have ended federal support.

"What about the argument, look, maybe RIF is a perfectly fine program, but the government is broke and something has to go?

"RASCO: It does not seem to make sense to cut out that early undergirding of building strong literacy skills.

"UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many of you like to read?

"WALLACE: RIF gets 75 percent of its funding from the government. Now Rasco says she'll have to push private donors even harder to make up the difference.

"Would you still be able to hand out 15 million books each year?

"RASCO: Not initially, no. You don't replace 24.5 million overnight. I'm going to become an even louder advocate for kids and reading."

Bloomberg News Is Hiring for New Opinion Outlet

"Executive editors David Shipley and Jamie Rubin have begun hiring staff at Bloomberg View, the new opinion arm of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg L.P.," Zeke Turner reported Friday for Women's Wear Daily.

 "The pair have hired five editors so far, including Frank Wilkinson, an executive editor at The Week; Tim Lavin, a senior editor at The Atlantic, and Stuart Seldowitz, a three-decade veteran of the State Department. Seldowitz was the acting director for South Asia at the National Security Council through the beginning of this year, and he worked as an adviser to the U.S. ambassador to NATO during the Bush administration."

"Shipley, who left his post as op-ed editor at The New York Times to launch the Bloomberg opinion outfit, has brought on his deputy of five years at the paper, Mary Duenwald, and Toby Harshaw, a career Timesman and former op-ed staff editor. Rubin, a former assistant secretary at the State Department himself, has a Times connection too. His sister Elizabeth Rubin writes for the Times Magazine, most recently about Afghanistan."

Shipley did not respond to an inquiry about whether he had hired anyone of color.

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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Black is Black even on the Internet

I am troubled by some of the comments of significant Black Voices here regarding the role of Black folks on the internet in light of the AOL /HP venture. The content and character of Black Culture cannot never be replaced or produced by others that are not Black as such those internet ventures which are not staffed by Black folks will fail.

No man could ever define the essence of a woman. This same universal truth is present with regard to race and culture even in venues and places like the internet...A copy is not the original...Fresh is better than frozen...Fiction will never be Reality..Black is Black..

One would hope that this new venture will have Black editors, reporters, pundits, content providers who will not only cover the authenic themes of Black Life anywhere on the planet but these same people will also cover foreign affairs, finance, ecology, science, nuclear, government , health, entertainment, sports, and anything and everything that creates news and information

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