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"Doesn't Look Good" for AP Intern Program

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two Journalist-of-Color Leaders Appeal to CEO Tom Curley

"Fox News: "Not Racist, But No. 1 With Racists"

Race Perspectives Complement "Salacious" Pat-Down Pieces

CBS Establishes Harold Dow Professorship at FAMU

Ebony, Jet Slid in Circulation Despite Makeovers

Luis Clemens Named NPR's New Diversity Editor

Renee Ferguson Is Carol Moseley Braun's Spokeswoman

Short Takes

Two Journalist-of-Color Leaders Appeal to CEO Tom Curley

Tom CurleyThe presidents of two journalist- of-color associations have appealed to Tom Curley, president and CEO of the Associated Press, to save the AP's internship program. But Rhonda LeValdo, president of the Native American Journalists Association, said Wednesday, "It doesn't look good to me."

Curley responded to a four-paragraph appeal from LeValdo with a single sentence, "Rhonda, We simply must focus resources, especially staff time, in 2011 on getting projects accomplished."

Sharon Chan, president of the Asian American Journalists Association, said she spoke with Curley by telephone on Tuesday and sent an e-mail as a follow-up.

"I know you’re facing some tough choices and you have to reduce spending somewhere," Chan wrote. "I hope the AP will consider shrinking the internship program instead of eliminating it altogether. The internship program has had a huge impact on diversity over its history and the AAJA students who have gone through the program have become full-time journalists, including Sudhin Thanawala, a 2007 AAJA/AP intern who is now a reporter at the AP.

"I realize you’re making the decision from a business perspective. From the business perspective, I think the internship program is low cost and high impact in terms of the future of what your news organization will look like. Businesses that will succeed in the future will look like the readers and customers they serve."

Sharon Chan, left, and Rhonda LeValdoLeValdo wrote, "The diversity of the program enhances the coverage of news that might not ordinarily be covered and a news organization should reflect the diversity of the American public.

"Please, as well, take into consideration our current students in journalism and give them the opportunity to learn from great mentors that are available through the Associated Press."

AP spokesman Paul D. Colford declined to confirm that the Dec. 2 committee meeting to select next year's interns was still scheduled. Nor would he say what kind of feedback Curley had received on the prospect of shutting down the program or to comment on when AP expected a decision.

"I have nothing further on this at the moment. Happy Thanksgiving," Colford said by e-mail.

[On Thursday, Kathy Y. Times, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said by e-mail that Deirdre Childress, NABJ's vice president for print, "was going to reach out to someone there so that we can fully understand what happened, then try to come up with a solution. Very unfortunate since many black students really need the experience and income that come with the internships."]

Hollis Towns, president of the Associated Press Managing Editors, an association of editors at AP's 1,500 member newspapers in the U.S. and newspapers served by the Canadian Press in Canada, did not respond to requests for comment. Towns is executive editor of the Asbury Park Press in Neptune, N.J.

The internship initiative started in the early 1980s and was formerly known as the Minority Internship Program.

Its creation followed a settlement negotiated among the AP, the Newspaper Guild and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which in turn followed a 1973 complaint filed with the EEOC by female AP employees. The settlement "included not only back pay but a training program to prepare women for promotional opportunities and an affirmative action plan for women, blacks and Latinos," Kay Mills wrote in her 1988 book, "A Place in the News: From the Women's Pages to the Front Page."

Its graduates have advanced to prominent positions inside and outside the AP.

Denise Bridges"I spent two years with AP, and I am grateful to this day for both the training I got from SPMJ [the Maynard Institute's Summer Program for Minority Journalists] to prepare me for my career, and for the AP for launching my 33-year career," Denise Bridges, director of newsroom operations and staff development at the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., wrote in the "Journal-isms" comment section.

"Then-CEO Lou Boccardi used to say there was no story that couldn't be told in 700 words or less, so I learned how to write tight.

"From legendary court reporter Linda Deutsch I learned how to dictate straight out of my notebook — not missing a comma, quotation mark or new graf. And long before 'online' became all the rage, AP taught me how to write 'for broadcast,' which provided the 'rip and read' copy that radio stations read on the air to this day. . . . for the AP to be ending its minority internship program (in all likelihood it's probably a done deal) is just woefully, painfully sad."

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said Fox Broadcasting was "continuing to bite the hand that feeds part of it."

"Fox News: "Not Racist, But No. 1 With Racists"

"Bill O'Reilly is not pleased The Simpsons mocked Fox News Sunday by showing a helicopter with the logo "Not Racist, But No. 1 With Racists," Lindsay Powers reported Tuesday for the Hollywood Reporter.

"On Monday's 'O'Reilly Factor,' he also called out his network, Fox, for airing the jab.

" 'Continuing to bite the hand that feeds part of it, Fox broadcasting once again allows its cartoon characters to run wild ... pinheads? I believe so,' he said. ' "

Race Perspectives Complement "Salacious" Pat-Down Pieces

"We've all seen the headlines about angry travelers and videos of people experiencing the new 'enhanced' pat-downs or holding their hands over their head while they stand in a full-body scanner," Bill Krueger wrote Wednesday for the Poynter Institute.

"We've heard the stories of the man who threatened to have a Transportation Security Administration agent arrested if he touched his 'junk' and the unfortunate bladder cancer survivor who was covered in his own urine after TSA agents broke the seal on his urostomy bag during a pat-down.

"But try sorting through all the clutter to find journalism that provides clarity and context, stories that hold officials in Washington accountable for their actions, coverage that does more than quote angry travelers or simply link to such coverage by other outlets. It's not easy.

" 'The media has focused on the salacious, like the poor gentleman who ... had bladder issues,' said Benét Wilson, who covers airport security for Aviation Week, a trade publication. 'That drives up website numbers. Unfortunately, people don't want to hear the other side about why these security measures are needed.' "

On Twitter, New York Times media writer David Carr noted, "black ppl have long been subjected to unwarranted search as a fact of life in America. Not a joke. A thought."

Glen Ford made the point in a Black Agenda Radio commentary:

"It is right to howl at the indignities inflicted on airline passengers – but hypocritical, if the howls come from folks who applaud or remain silent while police in big cities across the country subject hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino males to arbitrary stop and frisks."

Marisa Treviño wrote on her Latina Lista blog, "all this outcry and media attention seems horribly hypocritical in light of the fact that Arizona and other states want to invade the privacy of Latinos — and only Latinos."

As it turned out, the Associated Press reported, "The lines moved smoothly at airports around the country Wednesday afternoon despite an Internet campaign to get Thanksgiving travelers to gum up the works on one of the busiest days of the year by refusing full-body scans."

CBS Establishes Harold Dow Professorship at FAMU

Harold Dow

CBS News is establishing the Harold Dow Professorship at the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication at Florida A&M University as part of a number of diversity initiatives, the network announced on Monday.

Dow, a longtime CBS News correspondent, died in August at age 62. His family said the cause of death was apparently an asthma attack.

"The professorship is designed to enhance presentation skills for students interested in on-air positions in broadcast television and will begin in the 2011-12 academic year," the announcement said.

"Among the workplace programs CBS is putting into effect in 2011 are a new paid internship program, a professional development program and a discretionary award to be used by the president of CBS News to recognize truly outstanding contributions by News Division employees who promote excellence and diversity at CBS News," it continued.

Each year, CBS News plans to bring seven summer interns of diverse backgrounds to New York, all expenses paid. Under the professional development program, CBS will identify two news producers of diverse backgrounds in the early stages of their careers at CBS stations and pay half of their salary each year.

FAMU was the first historically black university to have an accredited journalism program. "It is our goal to produce journalists who will commit to the trusted standards of CBS and Harold Dow," James Hawkins, dean of the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication, said in the release.

CBS has generally lagged behind NBC and ABC on diversity. A study of network decision-makers released in July 2008 by the National Association of Black Journalists, for example, found that CBS had eight white executive producers, one Hispanic and no African Americans, Asian Americans or Native Americans. In the executive suites, NBC News and ABC News have had black journalists at the vice president level.

Ebony, Jet Slid in Circulation Despite Makeovers

Ebony's December/January issueThe Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Co. is expanding its New York office and increasing the editorial presence on the East Coast, CEO Desiree Rogers told Matt Kinsman, writing Monday in Folio: magazine. Kinsman reported that Ebony and Jet magazines continued to lose circulation, according to figures gathered after makeovers of both publications.

"We're working hard on our circulation and we've given a lot of thought to the fundamentals of the business," Rogers said.

The two publications missed their "rate base" for the second half of 2009 and the first half of 2010, Kinsman reported, citing figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

According to the Association of Magazine Media, formerly the Magazine Publishers of America, "many publishers guarantee advertisers that they will maintain a certain circulation level, or rate base, over a given six-month audit period . . . Advertisers use the rate base to determine their cost per thousand of circulation . . . and will generally demand a makegood . . . if average rate base is missed over a six-month period, or sometimes even on one issue." A makegood is an offer "to republish the ad at no extra cost to the advertiser, or reduce or cancel the fee for the affected advertising," it said.

Kinsman wrote that Rogers vowed to return the publications to their rate base in 2011. "The magazines, which missed rate base for the second half of 2009 (Ebony reported an overall circ of 1,169,870 compared to a rate base of 1,250,000, while Jet missed its 900,000 rate base, reporting an overall circ of 795,055, according to the Audit Bureau of [Circulations'] FAS-FAX report), didn't file in time for the first half 2010 FAS-FAX, but an ABC Rapid Report showed the magazines continuing to slide, with Ebony posting total paid circulation of 1,068,383, while Jet had total paid circulation of 750,978 for the period ended June 2010."

The makeover of the magazines took place during this period, in which the industry as a whole was still reeling from the recession.

Ebony began a rebranding in November 2009 with its December/January "Celebration" issue, which featured a "Power 150 list" with "eight stunning covers." Jet followed on Feb. 1, announcing "the most sweeping evolution of its iconic brand in the company’s history. . . . including a new logo, new design and layout, new sections and features to readers looking for that unique Black take on the latest in news and entertainment." A new website,, followed.

The company announced last week it was selling its historic building on Chicago's Loop.

In addition, "The publisher has welcomed several new executive hires in recent months, including chief marketing officer Rodrigo Sierra," the Folio: story said. " 'We're bringing in new leaders who have experience and coupled with the historic team that has been here for the longer term, there will be a great and winning combination among those teams,' says Rogers. 'Right now it's so busy because we're looking to upgrade both books, plus the cosmetics line without losing the rich history that's been established. In no way do I want anyone to think we're walking away from our history. We want that old excitement back. We have to remain focused on what we're trying to achieve as a unit.' "

Luis Clemens Named NPR's New Diversity Editor

When an NPR spokeswoman told Journal-isms this month that the network was close to hiring a senior editor whose job will be to find more diverse sources and voices for NPR stories, Allen Johnson, editorial page editor of the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record, was skeptical.

"That sounds like an odd thing to have to do for a network whose original mission was to empower those voices," Johnson wrote in his blog. "And shouldn't every reporter be expected to provide these perspectives — and not have someone do that for them?"

Luis Clemens, 42, an editor at NPR's "Tell Me More" for the past two years, was named to the job on Tuesday. And he says Johnson has a point. "Of course, these things are a part of what we do across the board," he said. But as with writing coaches and investigative editors, "people specialize in order to give it a special oomph — to be sure you're looking broadly and looking at things that are hiding in plain sight."

As senior editor for diversity, "Luis will work across the newsroom to continue to build a solid foundation of diverse experts for interviews and sources for stories, and to boost NPR's overall coverage," NPR's announcement said. "The Senior Editor position grew out of two pilots NPR launched this spring — one led by Luis — to identify new voices, in many topic areas, to be guests on our shows.

"In a memo to staff announcing this new position, NPR News Senior Vice President Ellen Weiss wrote: 'Establishing this job — and getting Luis to launch it — marks an important next step in our commitment to bring NPR's audience, on the air and online, a broader view and perspective on society and the world around us."

"The Senior Editor is also part of NPR's Diversity team, led by Keith Woods, and will be an active partner in training initiatives at NPR and Member stations — helping to strengthen local coverage by expanding the range of content, sources, ideas and expertise."

Clemens, a Cuban American, joined NPR in 2008 after having worked for Telemundo and NBC stations in Miami, as an assignment editor for Spanish language at CNN, as Buenos Aires bureau chief, and editor of La Política, a political publication.

Renee Ferguson Is Carol Moseley Braun's Spokeswoman

Renee FergusonWhen former senator Carol Moseley Braun, D-Ill., announced her candidacy for mayor of Chicago on Saturday, the media's contact person was Renee Ferguson, the veteran investigative reporter who signed off from NBC-owned WMAQ-TV nearly two years ago after more than 30 years of reporting.

"I am her press secretary and spokesperson," Ferguson told Journal-isms. "Carol and I have been friends for more than 30 years. I know she would be a smart and tough mayor. She has a big heart and intellect. When she asked. I had to say yes. It's been fun and interesting! Politics from the inside."

Short Takes

  • Robert Hernandez of the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, formerly online at-large officer on the board of directors for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, was one of three new members elected to board of directors of the Online News Association, ONA announced on Monday. The others were Josh Hatch of USA Today and Will Sullivan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Among the also-rans were three African Americans: Eric Easter, former vice president, digital and entertainment, Johnson Publishing Co.; Rob King, editor-in-chief, ESPN Digital Media; and Ingrid Sturgis, assistant professor, Howard University.

  • The Committee to Protect Journalists raised nearly $1.5 million Tuesday night, a record, as 900 guests paid tribute to the courage shown by Dawit Kebede (Awramba Times, Ethiopia), Nadira Isayeva  (Chernovik, Russia), and Laureano Márquez (Tal Cual, Venezuela) in reporting the news and keeping citizens informed, CPJ reported. "A fourth award winner, Mohammad Davari, (Saham News, Iran), remains imprisoned in Iran for having reported on alleged rape, torture, and abuse at the now-closed Kahrizak Detention Center." The benefit dinner took place at New York's Waldorf-Astoria.

  • Julio Cortez, a staff photographer for three years at the Houston Chronicle, is joining the Associated Press as a staff photographer in Newark, N.J., Santiago Lyon, AP director of photography, told the staff on Monday. Cortez is a native of Mexico City.

  • "If all goes well, sometime in the next 30 days I will get a new heart," staffer Lacy J. Banks wrote Monday in the Chicago Sun-Times. "This past week, my case manager at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., heart-transplant nurse Jody Hanson, gave me the good news: I have been elevated to '1A,' tops on the list to get a transplant — not only in bad enough need but also now in good enough health to undergo the operation. . . . having been examined and treated by 97 different doctors at eight hospitals in three states, I have rallied, with the aid of a surgically implanted heart pump, from having once been denied a place on the national heart transplant list to rising to the very top of it."

Happy Thanksgiving!

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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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Fox News: "Not racist, but ..."

Apparently Bill O'Reilly forgot that "those cartoon characters running wild" pay his salary.

The Fox network was birthed in 1987 then flourished on the backs of "The Simpsons," that irreverant cartoon show that still tweaks the pompus and powerful in the 21st century.

Bless 'em.

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