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FCC OKs Creation of Spanish Media Powerhouse

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Sunday, September 21, 2003

FCC OKs Creation of Spanish Media Powerhouse

"Federal regulators on Monday approved the merger of the leading Hispanic TV power Univision Communications with the top Spanish-language radio company, Hispanic Broadcasting," MediaWeek reports.

"The action, on a 3-to-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission, creates a media powerhouse that backers say will be able to compete for advertising with bigger, traditional English-language networks.The approval joins 68 radio stations owned or controlled by Hispanic Broadcasting with 32 TV stations owned or controlled by Univision, the FCC said.

"Both the FCC's Democrats dissented, saying in a statement that the approval allows Univision 'to assume something close to monopoly power in the fast-growing Spanish-language media,'" MediaWeek said.

The Day Walter Cronkite Met Jayson Blair

"Walter Cronkite, the Most Trusted Man in America, had his first encounter with Jayson Blair?okay, the least trusted man in America?during a recent breakfast with Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith at the Regency Hotel, where Smith was interviewing Cronkite for a Q&A that will appear in the magazine?s November issue," Deborah Schoeneman and Benjamin Nugent report in New York magazine.

"They were approached by Michael Viner, who identified himself as a publisher, mentioned that he was meeting with Blair, and asked if Blair could 'come over and say hello,'" they wrote in the Intelligencer column.

"Shortly after, Blair ambled up to the table. 'Oh, Mr. Cronkite,' he said fawningly, extending his hand, 'I?m an amazing admirer of your work.' Cronkite smiled graciously and shook hands. Blair then nodded at Smith and remarked, 'It must be awkward to have me here when you?re interviewing Walter Cronkite.' Quite the contrary, Smith told us later. 'I felt like I?d won the lottery.'

"After the pint-size prevaricator left, Cronkite turned to Smith and said, 'What am I supposed to say to that guy? ?Nice job?? ?Tell me about your journalism career??' " the item concluded.

Blair, Others Use Racism as "Recreational Crutch"

John McWhorter, a linguist who has become one of the right wing's favorite black conservatives, wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal last week linking Jayson Blair's calling New York Times managers racist -- and titling his book "Burning Down My Master's House" -- with what he calls a disturbing trend.

"The truth is that Mr. Blair is demonstrating a strain of modern American race ideology more pernicious than many realize," McWhorter writes.

"For blacks before the mid-1960s, decrying racism stemmed from sincere grievance. But for far too many blacks today, it has drifted into a recreational crutch, assuaging the insecurity at the heart of the human soul. A sad keystone of human nature is the balm of feeling superior. Gossip is a relatively innocuous manifestation; fashioning one's self as eternally battling a white America mired in 'racism'is a more noisome one."

McWhorter is a senior fellow at the conservative think tank the Manhattan Institute.

Charlotte Hall, Greeley Tribune Win Diversity Award

"The Greeley (Colo.) Tribune and Charlotte Hall, managing editor and vice president of Newsday, have been named winners of the second annual Robert G. McGruder Awards for Diversity Leadership," the Freedom Forum announces.

"The two will be honored for their outstanding leadership in newsroom diversity at the Associated Press Managing Editors association (APME) convention Oct. 15-18 in Phoenix.

"The awards are given by APME and the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in partnership with the Freedom Forum, which provides the funding. Each honoree receives $2,500 and a sculpture representing leadership.

"Hall, who won in the over-50,000 circulation category, has served as chair of ASNE?s Diversity Committee. 'While she thought broadly on diversity and became a leader in industry-wide activities, she acted locally, causing diversity to become one of Newsday?s highest priorities,' Anthony Marro, recently retired Newsday editor, wrote in nominating Hall. 'She not only made the journalistic case for diversity in content and staffing, but also founded and steered a paper-wide project that made the business case as well.'

"'Under her leadership, starting with her appointment as managing editor in 1997, Newsday?s newsroom staff became the most diverse among the 10 largest newspapers in the country,' he wrote. 'The percentage of people of color in the newsroom grew from 14.2% in 1996 to 25.8% in 2003.'

"In the under-50,000 circulation category, the Greeley Tribune was recognized as ?a small newspaper that takes diversity seriously,? said [Peter] Bhatia, executive editor of The Oregonian in Portland," and president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

"Judges noted that the Tribune, led by Editor Chris Cobler, takes advantage of newspaper-industry diversity initiatives. As part of its Time Out for Diversity participation, Tribune reporters were asked to 'go out and experience something that would take us out of our comfort zone.' A Page One story by Cobler led the resulting coverage.

"The awards, which recognize leadership in content and in recruiting, developing and retaining journalists of color, are named for a former executive editor of the Detroit Free Press and diversity champion. He died of cancer in April 2002."

Powell: For Some, Media Firms Were Real Target

Michael K. Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, continues to defend the media-consolidation rules that prompted a public uproar, this time in an interview with Stephen Labaton in the New York Times.

Powell said that "while some lawmakers opposed the new rules on principle, others ? whom he refused to identify for publication ? did so to settle old scores. These lawmakers, he said, simply wanted to take revenge against media companies that support the new rules but that had been critical of the lawmakers."

Powell also "acknowledged that as a matter of principle, he had deliberately avoided doing any political spadework in advance of the new rules, even as his critics assembled the coalition against them," Labaton wrote.

"'Michael Copps went out into the country six months before we did anything, and I credit him,' Mr. Powell said, referring to the Democratic commissioner who has led the opposition to the rules. 'Our job started on June 3,' the day after the commission approved the rules.'"

Among those Copps pleaded with was Unity: Journalists of Color, addressing the Unity board in Washington on May 2. "People of color and minority journalists have an awful lot riding on" moves to allow further consolidation within the media, Copps said then. The journalist of color organizations joined others in opposing the new rules.

Zimbabwe Silences Last Independent Paper

"A Zimbabwe government commission has effectively banned the country's only independent daily newspaper, a frequent critic of President Robert Mugabe, from future publication, the paper's lawyer said today," reports Sharon LaFraniere in the New York Times.

"The Media and Information Commission refused to register The Daily News because the paper waited eight and a half months after a government deadline before submitting its application, The Herald, a government-run daily, reported today.

"Francis Mdlongwa, who a few days ago resigned as the newspaper's editor in chief, said the decision was not unexpected. Although the paper plans to appeal to Zimbabwe's courts, Mr. Mdlongwa said the ruling effectively meant The Daily News was dead.

"The decision appears to put Mr. Mugabe's increasingly authoritarian government in control of all major news outlets."

Asian Americans Confound Advertising Planners

Asian Americans, "one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population and, perhaps more important, represent some of the most coveted media-buying demos for many top brands . . . are confounding media planners' attempts to build advertising schedules that can effectively reach them," reports Television Week.

"The main reason, according to just-released report from a top media agency, is that Asian Americans comprise distinct subsets, each with its own culture and customs -- not to mention different languages."

The problem, said Rob Frydlewicz, vice president, research director, at Carat Insight, which published the 25-page report "Asian Americans: Great Demos, Growing Numbers," "is the way that burgeoning population breaks down -- 23 percent Chinese, 17 percent Filipino, 16 percent Indian, 11 percent Vietnamese, 10 percent Korean, 7 percent Japanese -- and the fact that current media usage data likely does not reflect the unique usage among those individual groups," Television Week said.

Saginaw TV Reporter Asks Court for Her Job Back

Fired television reporter Kelly Miner of WNEM-TV in Saginaw, Mich., is turning to a federal court to get her job back, reports Darryl Q. Tucker in the Saginaw News.

Miner recently won an arbitration award against Channel 5, WNEM, which fired her July 10, 2002, Tucker's story continued, but the station owners said they wouldn't rehire Miner.

"Meredith Corp. officials claim her termination was based on 'repeated unsatisfactory work performance and insubordinate behavior,' court papers indicate.

"The station's refusal to rehire Miner, which led to protests outside of its headquarters at 107 N. Franklin, prompted the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, Local 48 to file a lawsuit July 18 seeking her reinstatement.

"The union's suit claims that the CBS affiliate had no reason to fire Miner."

Miner began working at the station as a general assignment reporter Sept. 16, 1997, and also is seeking back pay.

"Documents show that former News Director Michael Fabac testified earlier this year at an arbitration hearing that he fired Miner for poor work performance. His action was the culmination of her 'failing to meet expectations," court papers claim.

"In 4 1/2 years at Channel 5, Miner's work was satisfactory and supervisors took no disciplinary action against her, arbitrator Paul E. Glendon wrote in his ruling.

"'One cannot help but wonder how a good employee could so quickly become a bad one,' he wrote. 'The answer appears to have less to do with Miner herself than with Fabac, who seems to have gone out of his way to create a negative, confrontational relationship with her and been impatient and impetuous in all his dealings with her, especially in discharging her.'

"Fabac also was unprofessional and disrespectful to Miner when he followed her into the newsroom after her last reporting assignment and demanded in front of other employees that she depart immediately, Glendon wrote," the newspaper reported.

Macon, Ga., Sportscaster Free on Bond

Macon, Ga., sportscaster Kenneth Jones is free after posting a $15,500 bond in connection with a fatal crash, his station, WMAZ-TV, reports.

"Jones turned himself in Thursday morning at the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center after he was charged with vehicular homicide and D.U.I," reads a report on the station Web site.

WMAZ's vice president and news director, Dodie Cantrell , told Journal-isms today that she would not say whether Jones was still on the air because "it would violate his right to privacy." Asked how that would be the case, she said, "I'm not going to respond to that question because it would be inappropriate."

Michelle Miller Bids Goodbye to New Orleans

"Just a few weeks short of her nine-year anniversary at WWL-TV, morning news anchor Michelle Miller departed for New York City last Friday [Sept. 12] by thanking her co-workers and bidding viewers 'farewell, happy trails and God bless,'" Dave Walker writes in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"Her husband, former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, was picked president of The National Urban League in May.

"According to overnight ratings compiled by Nielsen Media Research, nearly 50,000 local households were tuned to Miller's goodbye.

"The ratings are relevant because Miller anchored the station's 5 a.m. news show, which usually scored the nation's best local-newscast ratings at that wee hour."

Report Scores Advertising of Alcohol to Minors

A National Academies report has "recommended a wide-ranging crackdown on underage drinking that would include government monitoring of broadcasting and other media to check industry marketing of alcoholic beverages to minors," Television Week reports.

"The voluminous report, requested by Congress, also recommends that the industry beef up its self-regulatory plans, using ratings systems and marketing codes to reduce the likelihood that underage audiences will be exposed to programs with 'unsuitable alcohol content, even if adults are expected to predominate in the viewing or listening audiences.'

"The report also urges TV broadcasters and producers to ensure that programs do not portray underage drinking an a favorable light, 'and that unsuitable alcohol content is included in the category of mature content for purposes of parental warnings.'"

As reported in June , a report by Georgetown University's Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth found that alcohol advertising was placed on all of the television programs most popular with African American youth, and that alcohol advertising on radio overexposed African-American youth compared to others.

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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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