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A Double Win for David Squires

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

A New Column and Honors as AARP's 40 Millionth

It was scarcely a month agothat David SquiresDavid Squires, a veteran of several news organizations who had been a sports columnist and then an urban affairs reporter at the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., was laid off with sportswriter Jason Jordan. They were the last black reporters at the paper.

But last week not only did Squires, 50, reappear as a news columnist, he was in Washington being honored by the AARP as its 40 millionth member.

"He and his family traveled to Washington, D.C., on Thursday to attend the opening ceremony of the AARP's annual convention where member No. 40,000,000 was feted," an AARP news release said.

"'It was pretty wild,' Squires said Thursday morning from Washington. 'I had to stand 45 minutes for photographs and video. I got my picture taken with Regis Philbin and chatted with him. The family and I walked onto [the] stage in front of 14,000 people,'" the Daily Press wrote in a story Friday.

The honors included a $5,000 cash prize, gift cards, coupons, a lifetime membership and VIP treatment for Squires, his wife, Renee, and their children, Jamilah and David Jamaal. The Squires family had front-row seats for concerts featuring singer Chaka Khan and Natalie Cole. Squires was scheduled to meet football legend Bart Starr, who was to sign a jersey for him. He also got four tickets to any 2008 Washington Redskins home game.

"Jamilah, 11, has a plan for some of those prizes," the release said. "'We have all these gift cards for Wal-Mart and a $200 gift card for gas, $500 for Walgreens. I'm gonna ask my dad if I can get a couple of hundred dollars because I'm always clipping his toenails, rubbing his scalp and massaging his feet.'"

As for the new column, "I'm actually a part-time employee -- not a contractor. They made it happen shortly after Unity" at the end of July, Squires told Journal-isms.

He told readers he acutely felt his rarity as an African American writer at the paper.

"If another person dumps his or her problems with the Daily Press onto my lap, I bet I'll scream," he began.

"This is a problem many people have with the media - but it's more of an issue that many people of color have.

"Why didn't you cover this? Why didn't you cover that? Why are you so biased about this?

"Since I arrived in town nearly five years ago, I've noticed that once people found out I worked for the local newspaper, they wanted to jump on me with umpteen years of pent-up angst."

He advised readers, "Monitor the paper on a regular basis and communicate with the editors."

Roger Hern?°ndez, Cuban-American Columnist, Dies at 53

Roger E. HernandezRoger E. Hernandez, a syndicated columnist described by his syndicateas "the first Hispanic columnist to address the concerns of Hispanic Americans in a nationally syndicated newspaper column," died Saturday at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J., after a brief illness, according to the Herald-News in West Paterson, N.J. He was 53.

Services are scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the S.J. Priola Parsippany Funeral Service in Lake Hiawatha, N.J.

"Hern?°ndez's weekly column is distributed to some 40 newspapers nationally by King Features Syndicate. Hern?°ndez remains refreshingly unpredictable. For instance, he has written against affirmative action and has come out in favor of bilingual education. He recently summed up his spirit of independence, saying, 'Conservatives want no part of me, and I certainly want no part of liberals,'" the syndicate said inpromoting his column.

"Hern?°ndez was born in Cuba in 1955 and moved to the United States in 1964 when his parents were exiled by Fidel Castro. His family stressed the importance of education, and with young Roger the message hit home. Even as a child, he had the urge to write."

He wrote for numerous newspapers including the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Jersey Journal.

Hern?°ndez had been employed with New Jersey Institute of Technology in
Newark for the last 10 years. He was also an adjunct professor of journalism at Rutgers University, the Daily Record of Parsippany, N.J., said. In the TV tipsheet "Shop Talk," former colleague Phelps Hawkins wrote from Bulgaria about their days at "New Jersey Nightly News" on WNET and New Jersey Public TV early in his career.

"His sense of humor carried through to one effect of his strong Cuban
accent. When he answered the phone 'assignment desk,' it sounded very
much like he said 'Simon Dusk.' For years, NJNN received news releases
and announcements addressed to 'Simon Dusk, NJNN News, Trenton, NJ.'"

In his last blog item, dated Aug. 22, Hern?°ndez wrote about the Census Bureau prediction that white people will no longer make up a majority of Americans by the middle of the century. "Big deal," he said.

"By mid-century, as populations blur through intermarriage and assimilation, the category 'white non-Hispanic' will be less meaningful than it is today. Except among the xenophobic fringe, it won't matter much that white Americans without Hispanic ancestry make up less than half of the nation's population.

"Census figures show about a quarter of all Hispanics marry someone who is not Hispanic, with the figure reaching 30 percent among U.S.-born Hispanics.

"What that does is blur categories, not give rise to a tectonic demographic shift."

His wife, Dianne Doctor, is a veteran New York news executive who is vice president and general manager of WNYW-TV, a Fox station. [Added Sept. 9]

Sarah Palin Fans Ignite "Oprah Snubgate"

Oprah Winfrey was the villain in Saturday's New York Post."I never thought I'd live to see a faux-controversy stupider than the one over Barack Obama's failure to wear a flag pin on his lapel at all times. But here it is: Oprah Snubgate!" Jeff Bercovici wroteSunday on

"Matt Drudge kicked it off on Friday by reporting that Oprah Winfrey, who 'is not rushing to embrace the first woman on a Republican presidential ticket,' had not invited Alaska governor Sarah Palin on her show, despite a feeling by some of her staffers that she ought to.

"Drudge's thin item was a transparent attempt to de-legitimize Winfrey, whose endorsement of Obama may have brought him as many as 1 million votes in the primaries.

But that was no problem for the New York Post, which splashed the news on its front page yesterday. "PALIN CLUBBED BY OPRAH SNUB" screamed the headline."

"You don't need to be Dr. Phil to diagnose O's prideful, blatant favoritism. The icon used to give away cars. Now she gives away her obvious bias," Andrea Tantaros, a Republican political commentator, wroteMonday on a Fox News blog.

At least one Web site, "Get Sarah Palin on Oprah has been created to petition Winfrey.

Winfrey issued this statementto the Web site TMZ:

"The item in today's Drudge Report is categorically untrue. There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show. At the beginning of this Presidential campaign when I decided that I was going to take my first public stance in support of a candidate, I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates. I agree that Sarah Palin would be a fantastic interview, and I would love to have her on after the campaign is over."

"Day of Blogging" Supports Community Organizers

A coalition of black bloggers declared a "Day of Blogging for Community Organizing Justice: 'I Am a Community Organizer'" in reaction to the disparagement of that profession by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani at last week's Republican National Convention.

"Like much of what goes on among American conservatives, I suspect the marginalizing of the community organizing is just one more coded race reference," blogging journalistMonroe Anderson wroteon the Huffington Post site. "And, like much what goes on among the Republicans, George W. Bush and the Palin McCain campaign, it's obvious that this is another topsy-turvy twist on reality."

The presidential candidates were questioned about the attacks on community organizers on the Sunday talk shows. On ABC-TV's "This Week," George Stephanopoulos asked Democrat Barack Obama, a onetime community organizer, whether he detected racial undertones. Obama said, "I didn't hear that." After Republican John McCain was told by Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation," "You know, I know a lot of people who think being a community organizer is a pretty good thing to do," McCain attempted to back away from the disparagements. "I do not think it's a negative. I think it's very honorable," he said of community organizing. The Republican nominee characterized the attacks as "a reaction to the denigration of her role as mayor," speaking of Palin,his vice presidential choice.

Scribes Say Resentment Figures in GOP Media-Bashing

"What struck me as I watched the convention speeches," columnist Paul Krugman wroteThursday in the New York Times, "is how much of the anger on the right is based not on the claim that Democrats have done bad things, but on the perception - generally based on no evidence whatsoever - that Democrats look down their noses at regular people.

"What the G.O.P. is selling, in other words, is the pure politics of resentment; you're supposed to vote Republican to stick it to an elite that thinks it's better than you. Or to put it another way, the G.O.P. is still the party of Nixon."

In the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz wrote that an uproar over Gov. Sarah Palin's mothering skills, her baby and her pregnant teenage daughter "handed John McCain's team an opening to declare war on the press, his aides fuming over what they see as blatantly biased treatment of their newly anointed hockey mom and her family. Never mind that McCain has been a media darling for a decade, or that he guaranteed a feverish few days by picking a virtual unknown. Press-bashing plays well among Republicans."

Mark Leibovich wrote Saturday in the New York Times, "We have played this video game before. Indeed, the Republican tradition of media-bashing goes back decades, at least to the convention of 1964 when former President Dwight D. Eisenhower called out 'sensation-seeking columnists and commentators,' and the Cow Palace in San Francisco burst into jeers and catcalls at the reporters there.

". . . In other words, the bashers and bashees have been through this and know the drill. There was an almost homey familiarity to the ritual. And despite the hot words from the podium, it was hard to find a journalist last week who felt any unusual sense of siege or discomfort."

The Philadelphia Daily News reported a different kind of resentment as Dave Davies covered a campaign stop by Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., the Democratic vice presidential nominee, to a white working class area of Philadelphia.

"In a corner booth, Biden sat down and, after a moment's conversation, planted a kiss on the forehead of Carolyn Bauer, age 89. Bauer explained afterward it wasn't such a friendly encounter," Davies wrote.

"'I told him I'm not going to vote for him,' Bauer said. 'Anybody who runs with a guy with a name like that is not going to get my vote. It'd be disgusting to get a man named Barack Obama as president of the United States. No way. I mean it . . . I'm going to vote for McCain and the lady.'

"'[Obama's] a Muslim,' Bauer added. 'He pretends to be a Christian, and he isn't, he's a Muslim.'"

Alaska Natives Said to Grade Palin Poorly

Through Todd Palin's Yup'ik grandmother, Alaska's Native heritage plays an important role in  the Palin family, according to the governor's Web site. Todd Palin is in the red tie. ("Measured against some [of] the rights that are most fundamental to Alaska Native Tribes -- the subsistence way of life, tribal sovereignty and voting rights," Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's "record is a failure," according to an analysis by Alaska natives whose facts Native journalist and activist Suzan Shown Harjo told Journal-isms she had corroborated.

The analysis says Palin has attacked Alaska Native subsistence fishing and hunting and tribal sovereignty, and refused to provide language assistance to Yup'ik speaking Alaska Native voters.

Meanwhile, syndicated columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson cited dire statistics for Alaska's Native population andwrote, "In a report on the plight of Native Alaskans, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission called for massive increases in spending on job and skills training and programs to boost employment, improve education and public services. The commission called for sweeping reforms in the criminal justice and health care systems. The recommendations were made four years before Palin took office. Other than a brief mention of diversity in her gubernatorial campaign speech in 2006, there is no evidence that Palin has said or done anything about the commission's recommendations."

GOP Platform Says Little About Media Policy

"The Republican Party platform talks little about media issues, despite the oft-expressed media-policy concerns of its presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.)," John Eggerton wroteSaturday for Broadcasting & Cable.

"That puts it in strong contrast to the Democratic platform, which bears the distinctive imprint of Sen. Barack Obama's (Ill.) relatively aggressive communications agenda, as outlined earlier to B&C and others.

"The Republican platform, adopted at this past week's convention in St. Paul, Minn., is silent on the issues of network neutrality, media ownership, broadband penetration, content control of the media and, surprisingly, cable a la carte."

Writers Ask Whether Black Models Will Break Through

Tyra Banks, photographed by Steven Meisel for Italian Vogue's July issue."In the first month after hitting newsstands, the 'black issue' of Italian Vogue caused such a phenomenal demand in the UK and the US that Conde Nast, the publisher, rushed to reprint and distribute 40000 additional copies," the Sunday Times in Johannesburg wrote on Aug. 24.

"The magazine has, in fact, proven so popular, that the global media — from broadsheets to blogs - have furiously questioned whether the Vogue issue was just a stunt or a clarion call that the times are really a-changing."

In a commentary Sunday in the Chicago Tribune, Constance White, author of "StyleNoir," wrote:

"This season is a benchmark of sorts to see if there has been any real progress. Over the summer, both American Vogue and Italian Vogue, two of fashion's most influential books, addressed the gathering storm in interesting ways. In a mode characteristic of its artistic DNA, Italian Vogue dedicated its July issue to a lush portfolio of black models past and present. . . .

"American Vogue took a more straightforward Yankee approach with a report headlined: 'Is Fashion Racist?' However, if you guessed this piece was a revelation, you would have guessed wrong. It wasn't even a real examination of the problem."

Short Takes

  • "New England is about to get its first Spanish-language daily newspaper," Johnny Diaz reported Saturday in the Boston Globe. Lawrence, Mass.-based "Siglo21 is making plans to move from a weekly to a daily. The free paper expects to become a daily on Sept. 15, the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month."
  • City Hall in Wilmington, N.C., was home to news crews from across the country and abroad Monday morning as the Federal Communications Commission was on hand to make the official switch from analog to digital television, Lewis Beale reported for the Wilmington Star-News. "The FCC announced Wilmington had become the official lab rat for the national digital changeover back in May," he noted. The national switch takes place Feb. 17.
  • "WSB-TV has confirmed that reporter and weekend anchor JaQuitta Williams is leaving the station next week. Her final anchoring day is Sunday. Her final reporting day is Sept. 12," Rodney Ho wrote Saturday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "She has been at the TV station since 2004 and been in the TV business for about 20. . . . She said her recent bout with breast cancer was a factor in her departure."
  • Charlayne Hunter-Gault, award-winning journalist, author and school desegregation pioneer, has been named the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications' recipient of the 2008 Mickey Leland Humanitarian Achievement Award, given to individuals and organizations affiliated with the communications industry that demonstrate a commitment to advancing concerns of people of color, the organization announced on Monday.
  • Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, headed to jail and resignation of his office after a plea agreement to settle charges of perjury and other offenses, was pure youthful energy, DeAngelo Starnes wrote Monday for "And the gas that powers youthful energy is the Id. And the Id is like crack, meth, and adrenaline mixed together. The Id is like cancer - unrelenting in eating up what's next to feed on. The Id has no conscience, it just does. When you are solely driven by the Id, you need to check yourself." Eugene Kane wrote Sunday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "If true equality means electing black politicians who are just as easily corrupted by power as white ones, that's a dubious sign of progress, but it is progress nevertheless."
  • Andrew Nachison and Dale Peskin, organizers of "We Media Miami 09: Learn from the Game Changers," a new media-old media conference scheduled for the University of Miami in February, are looking for nominations for the We Media Game Changers Awards. "Nominate yourself, your company, your products or think about the projects, tools, people and ideas that inspire you. What's your flat-out favorite innovation for the We Media world? Which design, project, product or idea makes you say, 'Yes, that's it. That's the future,'" their material says.

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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