Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Embattled Iranians Provide the Video

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Despite the ban on coverage by foreign journalists, a YouTube video was posted showing tens of thousands of demonstrators in Tehran on Wednesday.

Foreign Reporters Banned From Protests in Tehran

"A man bled to death on a street in Tehran on Monday. As one bystander tenderly held the man's head, five others held out their cameras," Brian Stelter and Brad Stone wrote Wednesday for the New York Times.

"They captured photos and videos of the man, and of the blood that stained his white shirt. On Wednesday afternoon, an anonymous individual uploaded the disturbing video to YouTube, where it was viewed by thousands and shared by bloggers.

''This is absolutely despicable,' wrote one of those commenting on the YouTube video, urging the protesters to stay active. 'The rest of the world is watching and cheering you on.'

"Via the Internet, the world has received unprecedented looks at the continuing unrest in Iran. As foreign journalists are forced to leave Tehran and others are essentially confined to their hotel rooms, news organizations are looking more and more to the Iranians themselves to provide the news, or at least the pictures.

"Dozens of videos of the sometimes violent protests by opponents of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have appeared on YouTube and other sites in the days following last Friday's presidential election, provided by Iranians eager to circumvent the shroud of censorship their government was trying to place over the unfolding events. On Wednesday, amateur videos of an opposition rally were one of the primary sources of television pictures from Tehran. Another video showed a protest inside a Tehran train station.

"YouTube said it had relaxed its usual restrictions on violent videos to allow the images from Iran to reach the rest of the world."

Beat the Recession: Write About Hair Weaves

The days of snickering at people who wear wigs and hair weaves apparently are over. Ask the leaders of the year-old magazine Ultimate Weaves & Extensions or its sister publication, the 18-year-old Hype Hair.

With a photo of the creatively blonde Mary J. Blige on the cover, Ultimate Weaves & Extensions promises "Custom Wigs That Work It!" and "Hot Weaves by Design."

These are good times for those publications. Freelancers might find them refuges in the recession.

"Specialty books like Hype Hair provide an excellent way of earning extra money, although not much, but they have a cool editorial team," Gil Robertson IV told Journal-isms. He wrote about celebrity beauty tips and trends some years ago, although he is still listed as a "contributing journalist."

Hype Hair, which publishes nine times a year, had an audited circulation of 74,608 copies as of Dec. 31, up 4,000 from the previous year. Ultimate Weaves & Extensions, which appears quarterly, sells an unaudited 75,000 copies, according to Steve Gross of Enoble Media, who is in charge of advertising and carries the title of publisher.

Almost all those sales are at newsstands, Gross said. That's at $5.99 a pop, compared with the discounted subscription rates collected by the larger publications.

"Niche magazines are going to carry the day going forward," Gross said, speaking of the economic downturn. "In the Ice Age, it was the big primates that were the first to be damaged."

Adrienne Moore edits both Ultimate Weaves and Hype Hair, as well as the semi-annual Braids and Beauty, a publication about natural hairstyles that, perhaps tellingly, is on hiatus.

She says the purpose of her publications, "a niche within a niche," is "giving women creative ideas about how they can do their hair with wigs, weaves and extensions, and also to maintain their real hair." They are for African American women who "want to know what's hot and what the celebrities are wearing." They also show off the work of stylists.

To open up the book is to see page after page of wigs and weaves, in both copy and advertisements. One ad, from Bohyme 100% human hair, promises "The hair you wish you were born with!"

"It's no longer considered a negative thing to wear hair," Moore said, speaking of the purchased variety. "And it helps you diversify your style like you change your clothes."

The sentiment is expressed not just in the United States.

"It's been known for taxi drivers, those arbiters of mini skirts and other fashion, to call fake hair 'unAfrican,'" began an April story by Jabulile Ngwenya in the Star newspaper in Johannesburg. "But more and more young, black women are going wiggy for weaves and extensions.

"They've followed the lead of Tyra Banks, Janet Jackson, Beyonc?© and a whole host of 'unAfrican American' stars."

In the U.S., part of the audience includes hair stylists in "the lowest socio-economic base," who read the magazines to keep up with their customers, Gross told Journal-isms.

There are certain stories you don't see in these publications; those about the supply side of that human hair, for instance. A story last year by Mara Schiavocampo for NBC mentioned that 150 tons of human hair leave India annually.

In 2006, San Francisco filmmaker Aron Ranen posted his multipart documentary about how African Americans were being shut out of the black beauty supply business.

Nor does the perspective of comic actor Chris Rock, whose film "Good Hair" opened at the Sundance Film Festival last year, seem to be represented.

Produced by Nelson George, the film examines the concepts of "good" hair (straight) vs. "bad" hair (tightly curled). and in the words of the New York Amsterdam News, "exposes the hair industry as a lucrative enterprise that financially benefits others outside of the Black community, while those in the community reap only a small portion of the rewards."

Before weaves gained such acceptance, their role as accessories was debated on Web sites.

"I once gave a lady (well endowed with natural resources) a lift on pullin the car door handle 2 nails felt off," one man wrote on "i panicked....We reached our destination n the wind was blowin u can imagine what happened to the embarrasin....

"Chinua Achebe.....Things Fall Apart...."

NBC's Brian Williams interviewed President Obama last month; now it's ABC's, CBS' turn.

Critic Says TV Needs to Step Back on Obama

"As we approach another version of what I have come to think of as network-White House co-productions, the TV press desperately needs to step back and question how it is covering President Barack Obama," David Zurawik wrote for the Baltimore Sun.

"Next Wednesday night at 10, ABC News will offer the president an hour of prime time — as well as prime real estate on all its newscasts throughout the day — to sell his landmark health care plan.

"After 24 years of reporting and writing about TV and media on a daily basis, I have to say in fairness that I do not believe ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and the others allow their news operations to be used by the White House for partisan political reasons. Based on my experience, I believe it is more a matter of business: Obama means strong ratings, and they will do almost anything to get him on their channel or network given the business he brings with him.

"NBC's special really did look and feel like a campaign commercial for Obama, especially when he took Williams out for mid-day hamburgers, but any embarrassment the network felt was probably forgotten once the ratings came in showing that more than 9 million people watched each of the two nights.

"ABC will be using its White House exclusivity next Wednesday to try and boost all its broadcasts — from Good Morning America to Nightline. From the network's point of view, why not? NBC News cashed in, why not ABC? And is it payday for CBS the week after that when Obama wants to sell another nation-changing proposal?

"It really is a cozy game that the White House is playing with the TV news industry, and it will be too late for us as citizens when some enterprising journalist (are there any left?) chronicles it in a book that is published two years from now. But wait, she or he will have to have access to the White House to get a decent advance, which demands its own kind of getting into bed with the administration."

Meanwhile CBS News announced that its "payday" might come sooner than Zurawik thought. Obama is to sit down Friday for a White House interview with Harry Smith,  to be broadcast Father's Day on "Sunday Morning" and on "the Early Show" on Monday. The interview "will focus on a wide range of topics, including a look at the troubled U.S. financial system, the president’s latest initiatives on health care and – in honor of the holiday – President Obama’s role as First Dad," CBS said.

Administration Fights Access to List of Visitors

"The Obama administration is fighting to block access to names of visitors to the White House, taking up the Bush administration argument that a president doesn't have to reveal who comes calling to influence policy decisions," Bill Dedman wrote Tuesday for MSNBC.

"Despite President Barack Obama's pledge to introduce a new era of transparency to Washington, and despite two rulings by a federal judge that the records are public, the Secret Service has denied's request for the names of all White House visitors from Jan. 20 to the present. It also denied a narrower request by the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sought logs of visits by executives of coal companies."

Knight Awards $5.1 Million in "News Challenge"

Ory OkollohA joint project of journalists from the New York Times and the nonprofit investigative group ProPublica won the biggest share of the $5.1 million distributed in the 2009 Knight News Challenge, the Knight Foundation announced Wednesday, Editor & Publisher reported.

DocumentCloud received $719,500. "While rich source documents are the foundation of investigative journalism, too often reporters throw or tuck them away after a story fades, never to be used again. DocumentCloud will provide an online database of documents contributed by a consortium of news organizations, watchdog groups and bloggers, and shared with the public at large," the foundation said.

In addition, Ory Okolloh, a Kenyan blogger with a degree from Harvard Law School, won $70,000 to create a free Web map and timeline that journalists and citizens can use to contribute multiple reports about crisis news events. "The map has been tested in Kenya and will be rebuilt so that it can be used free worldwide," the foundation said.

Bought-Out Reporter Writes on Diversity, Globalization

Edward Iwata, a USA Today Money section reporter who took a buyout in December, is writing a book and a blog ( on business, globalization and diversity.

Iwata, a nine-year veteran of the Gannett paper, told Journal-isms he took the buyout "because I could not get a leave to write my first book, and because Gannett may not offer severance packages in the next round of layoffs, which are inevitable given the economics of the newspaper industry."

The book, "Fusion Leaders: Cross-Cultural Executives & Entrepreneurs in the Global Economy," is to be published next year by Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

It "looks at the next great era of business and globalization, which will be ruled by cross-cultural executives, entrepreneurs and companies that are truly global and multicultural. In the old colonial model, U.S. and European companies would charge into foreign lands, buy up subsidiaries, order around the locals," said Iwata, a 1981 graduate of the Maynard Institute's Summer Program for Minority Journalists. 

"Not today. The most successful executives and businesses — from retailer PepsiCo to technology giant Cisco Systems — are true hybrids with diverse leaders and cross-border immigrant workforces, plus truly global business and marketing styles. The old John Wayne/Clint Eastwood model is dead.

"I see this book as a natural extension of my diversity coverage as a newspaper reporter over the years."

For Some, Switch to Ethnic Media Feels Right

"Sam Richard knew he wanted to be a reporter early in his college career. He worked for the daily student newspaper at California State University Northridge and got an internship at the Ventura County Star in Camarillo, Calif., which quickly turned into a full-time job," Cindy Von Quednow wrote Wednesday for ColorLines magazine.

"But after leaving the industry for health reasons, he broke back into the journalism world as the managing editor of L.A. Watts Times, the leading Black print newspaper in Los Angeles in November 2008.

“'I saw it as an opportunity to hone in on editing skills,' said Richard about getting hired at L.A. Watts Times. 'With that I oversee and serve people with information that matters and interests them.'

“'We try to look at positive stories that don’t portray Blacks in a negative light, as we see in mainstream media,' said Richard. 'L.A. Watts Times has just been better in reporting deep down in the trenches.'

"Susan Goldberg, chair of the diversity committee of the American Society of News Editors, admitted that the loss of reporters of color hurts the mainstream newspaper business as a whole.

"She added that her organization’s efforts toward diversity are being thwarted by the current economic recession.

“As the nation becomes more diverse, newspapers are becoming less diverse, it is the wrong direction for newsrooms,' said Goldberg."

Award winners 'Hands' for AT&T, above, and 'There Can Only Be One' for the NBA.

Short Takes

  • Ad helped boost ratings by 61 percentSan Francisco-based advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and the National Basketball Association, its client, are the winners of Magazine Publishers of America‚Äôs 2008 Kelly Award Grand Prize for outstanding magazine advertising, the publishers group announced¬†on Monday. The "There Can Only Be One" ads helped bump TV ratings by 61 percent for the NBA, the MPA said. In addition, "For the first time, the 28-year-old Kelly Awards were opened to consumer votes this year. The top vote-getter was BBDO‚Äôs 'Hands' magazine ad campaign for AT&T."
  • Gloria Cecelia Sylvester Bennett, 78, wife of Lerone Bennett Jr., retired Ebony magazine executive editor, died Friday at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital of complications of asthma. She received a degree in journalism in 1953 from Marquette University's College of Journalism, and later joined the staff of Jet magazine as associate editor. It was at Johnson Publishing Co. that she met her husband, then an associate editor at Ebony magazine. They were married in 1956.
  • Christopher Rowland, the Boston Globe's political editor, will succeed Peter Canellos as the paper's Washington bureau chief, Globe Editor Martin Baron announced on Tuesday. Joseph Williams, the black journalist who is deputy bureau chief, told Journal-isms, "Frankly, I'm not sure how the new leadership in the bureau will affect me, or if I'll remain deputy chief, which is an open question. That's up to Marty Baron and Chris Rowland, whom I haven't spoken to personally. I should know more after talking with them both in the coming weeks." Canellos was named editorial page editor.
  • "Hispanic women report they‚Äôre very stressed about the economy and losing their jobs, but far from snapping shut their purses, many of them are still spending, according to a new survey from People en Espa?±ol," Lucia Moses reported¬†Wednesday for Mediaweek. "The Time Inc. magazine‚Äôs annual HOT study, which stands for Hispanic Opinion Tracker, found 43 percent of Hispanic women, versus 36 percent of the general market, are very stressed about the economy. Yet nearly half‚Äî47 percent‚Äîsay they‚Äôre spending the same or more, compared with 38 percent of the general market."
  • In Nashville, "WSMV‚Äôs Cynthia Williams has lost her close companion Sunny the cockatiel and she‚Äôs asking for the public‚Äôs help in finding her pet," Harriet Vaughan wrote Tuesday for the Tennessean. "Williams and Sunny were on their way to Walgreens around noon today. Sunny, whose wings are clipped, was riding on Williams‚Äô shoulder as he normally does when traveling with her. Williams hit the curb at Lennox Village Drive and Sunnywood Drive. She says that's when Sunny went flying out of the window."
  • Darian Trotter, whose contract with Fox-owned WFLD-TV in Chicago wasn't¬†renewed in March, has joined WDIV-TV, the Post-Newsweek NBC affiliate in Detroit, as a reporter, Phil Rosenthal reported Tuesday in the Chicago Tribune. Trotter had worked in Nashville; Orlando, Fla.; and Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • "Unless some unexpected funding comes through, Sunshine Week, the annual nationwide media event designed to draw attention to open government issues, will soon go without a full-time coordinator," Clint Hendler wrote¬†Friday for the Columbia Journalism Review. "According to Debra Gersh Hernandez, who works as the Sunshine Week outside contractor for the American Society of News Editors, she will likely be without a job by the end of the month."
  • "Radio Erena ('Our Eritrea'), a Tigrinya-language station broadcasting by satellite to Eritrea, began operating today in Paris, five days ahead of World Refugee Day," Reporters Without Borders reported¬†on Monday. "The result of an initiative by Eritrean journalists based abroad and supported by Reporters Without Borders, the station is offering freely-reported, independent news and information to Eritreans in Eritrea. ‚ÄúOnly a few countries such as Burma, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea are subject to so much repression that there are absolutely no independent media.‚Äù
  • "Reporters Without Borders today voiced its disgust at the arrest yesterday of five members of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) and two journalists at the end of a week in which President Yahya Jammeh made several threats against the media. Two other journalists were arrested on 10 June," the press-freedom organization said¬†on Tuesday.

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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