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First Stations Pull Limbaugh Show

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Updated March 6

Ad Boycott Called "Uncomfortable but Not Crippling"

Rep. Donald Payne, Africa Champion, Dies at 77

"Cultural Inertia" Said to Stymie Newspapers' Recovery

Sylvia Rosabal Named Senior V.P. for News at Telemundo

ABC's Pierre Thomas Named NABJ's Journalist of the Year

ESPN Startup's Gain Is New York Times' Loss

NPR a "Hotbed" for Female Journalists"

Knight News Challenge Giving Away $5 Million

D.C. Operation Seeks Part-Time Radio News Editors

Short Takes

Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law school student insulted by Rush Limbaugh, said she wants no contact with Limbaugh because "the attacks he made on me were enough to last for a lifetime." (Video)

Ad Boycott Called "Uncomfortable but Not Crippling"

"The nationally syndicated Rush Limbaugh radio show has been pulled from Hilo radio station KPUA-AM 670 in the aftermath of his offensive remarks about a woman who spoke in favor of health plan coverage for contraception," Erika Engle wrote Monday in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, using material from the Associated Press.

"It may be the first radio station nationally to cancel airings of the program."

In Pittsfield, Mass., meanwhile, WBEC-AM also pulled the plug on Limbaugh, Dick Lindsay reported for the Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle. "Certainly his comments were outrageous," said WBEC General Manager Peter Barry. "There’s no reason to resort to derogatory comments." The two were the first of Limbaugh's 645 stations to cancel over his remarks.

The Hawaii report continued, "New West Broadcasting Corp. President and General Manger Chris Leonard said, regardless of the political views being discussed, he felt the initially degrading comments about Georgetown University law school student Sandra Fluke, and the escalating comments that followed, were 'egregious,' and that 'decency and responsibility' dictated the show's cancellation.

" 'I spent a good part of the weekend deliberating this issue,' he said. "Had this been one of my disc jockeys that had made this comment, they would have been terminated.'

". . . On Monday, AOL Inc. and Tax Resolution Services Co. were the eighth and ninth companies to say that they will suspend advertising on Limbaugh’s program, one of the most popular radio shows in the country.

"Limbaugh last week called student Fluke a 'slut' and 'prostitute' after she testified to congressional Democrats in support of their national health care policy that would compel her Jesuit college’s health plan to cover her birth control."

(Katha Pollitt noted in the Nation: "In testimony she was barred from giving at Darrell Issa’s all-male hearing, Sandra Fluke told the story of a fellow student at Georgetown law, a lesbian who, because of Catholic strictures, was denied insurance coverage for birth control pills needed to control her ovarian cysts. Unable to afford the pill herself, the woman eventually had to have an ovary removed, with serious consequences to her health and fertility. Please note: this woman’s tragic story is not about nymphomaniacal 'co-eds.' ")

The Star-Advertiser story continued, "He apologized over the weekend after several advertisers pulled out of his program.

"On Monday, he joked that he got a busy signal when he called his show because of the advertisers who are abandoning it."

Brian Stelter wrote Sunday in the New York Times, "For now, the ad boycott is uncomfortable but not crippling for Mr. Limbaugh, who is estimated to make $50 million a year and whose program is a profit center for Premiere Radio Networks, the company that syndicates it. The program makes money both through ads and through fees paid by local radio stations, and while it often has sparked outrage during more than two decades on the air, efforts at ad boycotts in the past have had no measurable effect. Liberal groups and activists, however, hope that this time is different."

Paul Farhi added Monday for the Washington Post:

"Limbaugh’s network of affiliated stations has every incentive to stay loyal. His three-hour weekday program is the most popular draw for these stations, most of which are on the AM band and receive the program for no cost.

"According to the agreement stations sign, Limbaugh’s syndicator, Premiere Networks, is entitled to air national commercials during four minutes of each hour of Limbaugh’s program. Local stations have 16 minutes and 10 seconds of each hour for news updates and local commercials, or some 48½ minutes over the course of the show. That makes Limbaugh highly valuable to station owners.

"Fluke, appearing Monday on the ABC program 'The View,' said Americans had to decide whether to support companies that advertise on his program. She said Limbaugh has not tried to contact her directly to apologize.

"Among those condemning Limbaugh on Monday was radio host Don Imus, who lost his radio and TV jobs in 2007 for making insulting remarks about a women’s college basketball team.

"Said Imus on his morning program: 'He owns a Gulfstream 4. Get on it, go to Washington, take her to lunch and say, "Look, I’m sorry I said this stuff," and never do it again, period. Now, he’s an insincere pig, pill-popping pinhead.' "

Tom Raum wrote for the Associated Press, "It’s not a happy time for Republicans seeking the White House. On the eve of key Super Tuesday contests, they find themselves on the defensive over birth control, embarrassed by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and tripped up by subjects bearing little relation to the day-to-day concerns of Americans. All the while, President Barack Obama's ratings are climbing."

Rep. Donald Payne, Africa Champion, Dies at 77

"U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, the dean of New Jersey's congressional delegation, died after a months-long battle with colon cancer today, according to three sources close to the Payne family," David Giambusso reported Tuesday morning for the Star-Ledger in Newark. "The longtime politician was 77."

Payne, New Jersey's first black congressman, was a vigorous advocate for Africa.

Laurence Arnold wrote for Bloomberg News, "One of his . . . trips to Africa was a 12-day tour with President Bill Clinton in 1998 to Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana and Senegal. Upon his return, Payne told the Associated Press that he hoped the coverage of the trip would give Americans a new awareness and appreciation of African countries that were making strides toward democracy.

" 'The only images during the past decade have been those of strife, disease, conflict, dictators, children starving,' he said. 'So for the first time, America had an opportunity to see a balanced picture of Africa.' "

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., said in a statement, ". . .  We shared a deep-seated and profound love for Sub-Saharan Africa and the African Diaspora.  He was a teacher and leader for me on African matters.

"As the first African-American to be elected to Congress from the State of New Jersey, as a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Rep. Payne was instrumental in leading the legislative fight to free political prisoners in Ethiopia, urging the removal of the dictatorial president of the Ivory Coast, providing financial relief to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and focusing the world’s attention on the genocide in Darfur."

Washington Post reporter Nikita Stewart recalled for Journal-isms by email, "I can remember writing a profile of him and being struck by his quirky side. Yes, it's true. He'd walk around shoeless in his Congressional office in Newark. He had very nice dress socks. :) I can always remember him answering my calls as a local journalist at The Star-Ledger though he held so much stature nationally, especially in the Congressional Black Caucus." [March 6]

"Cultural Inertia" Said to Stymie Newspapers' Recovery

"A new study, which combines detailed proprietary data from individual newspapers with in-depth interviews at more than a dozen major media companies, finds that the search for a new revenue model to revive the newspaper industry is making only halting progress but that some individual newspapers are faring much better than the industry overall and may provide signs of a path forward," Tom Rosenstiel, Mark Jurkowitz and Hong Ji reported Monday for the Project for Excellence in Journalism.Digital Gains

"In general, the shift to replace losses in print ad revenue with new digital revenue is taking longer and proving more difficult than executives want and at the current rate most newspapers continue to contract with alarming speed, according to the study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

"Cultural inertia is a major factor. Most papers are not putting significant effort into the new digital revenue categories that, while small now, are expected to provide most the growth in the future. To different degrees, executives predict newsrooms will continue to shrink, more papers will close and many surviving papers will deliver a print edition only a few days a week.

". . . Among the key findings in this report:

  • "The broad numbers about the digital revenue transition are stark. The papers providing detailed data took in roughly $11 in print revenue for every $1 they attracted online in the last full year for which they had data. Thus, even though the total digital advertising revenues from those newspapers rose on average 19% in the last full year, that did not come anywhere close to making up for the dollars lost as a result of 9% declines in print advertising. The displacement ratio in the sample was a loss of dollars by about 7-to-1.

  • "Only 40% of the papers that provided data say targeted advertising is a major part of their sales effort. Even though many newspapers are not focusing on it, smart or targeted digital advertising —in which ads are customized based on consumer online behavior — is expected to dominate local digital revenue by 2014.

". . . Newspaper executives described an industry still caught between the gravitational pull of the legacy tradition and the need to chart a faster digital course. A number of them worried that their companies simply had too many people— whether it be in the newsroom, the boardroom or on the sales staff — who were too attached to the old way of doing things.

"The research reveals an industry that has not yet moved very far down the road toward a business model to replace the once-thriving legacy model — even though overall newspaper ad revenue has fallen by more than half in just a few years. The industry has pushed back against those losses by increasing the price of subscriptions. Even with that, overall newspaper revenue is down by more than 40% in the last decade.

"But researchers also found a strong sense of purpose among the executives leading this industry, business people who see the survival of newspapers as important to civil society, who have their eyes open about where the news industry is headed and who recognize the problems inside their own institutions."

Sylvia Rosabal Named Senior V.P. for News at Telemundo

Telemundo Media, the No. 2 Spanish-language broadcast network, announced Monday that Sylvia Rosabal has been named senior vice president of network news.

"Rosabal joins Telemundo Media from Univision, where she was Vice President of the news division from 2002 to 2011 and oversaw all aspects of the network’s news department," an announcement said. She reports to Alina Falcon, executive vice president, news and alternative programming, effective immediately.

Falcon, named to her post in November, also came from Univision.

Telemundo spokesman Alfredo Richard said Rosabal was not available for interviews: "It's a little premature since she just started today." Ramon Escobar, the executive vice president of network news who left last year, said then that owner NBCUniversal was increasingly integrating Telemundo into its English-language news operations.

"NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke has cited Telemundo as a prime growth prospect for the Peacock," Cynthia Littleton added for Variety.

Pierre Thomas discusses his career in a June 2011 interview with C-SPAN. (Video)

ABC's Pierre Thomas Named NABJ's Journalist of the Year

Pierre Thomas of ABC News has been named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, NABJ announced on Monday.

"Pierre Thomas' entire career has been a testament to his abilities as an incisive reporter whose storytelling is noteworthy," said NABJ President Gregory Lee Jr. in the announcement. "We honor him now because during the past year his abilities have allowed him to be frontline, reporting on the stories that captivated us all."

The announcement said Thomas and his team led ABC's coverage of many of last year's top stories. "Last January, when Congressman Gabrielle Giffords and several others were shot in Tucson, Ariz., Thomas was among the first people giving details about what happened — emphasizing the seriousness of the incident, noting that some people died at the scene and that Giffords had been shot at point-blank range. He reported the facts and helped keep ABC News from reporting that the congresswoman was dead, which some outlets did in error.

"Thomas was the very first person in the news division to tell his colleagues that the reason the President of the United States was holding a hastily arranged press conference on a Sunday night was that mass murdering terrorist Osama Bin Laden had been captured and killed. Throughout the week, Thomas broke news, including two exclusives with fascinating specifics on what they found in Osama Bin Laden's compound."

Thomas previously worked at CNN, the Washington Post and the Roanoke (Va.) Times and World-News.

ESPN Startup's Gain Is New York Times' Loss

"Hiring bloggers and contributors to various outlets is one thing," Jason McIntyre wrote last year for the Big Lead sports blog. ". . . Commissioning freelancers like Chuck Klosterman and Malcolm Gladwell is nice. But getting someone to give up a sweet job at the top paper in the country to write for … a [startup]?

"Well, it’s not just any [startup] — it has ESPN’s backing, so it’s not like there’s any risk of Grantland going under in a year or two. Plus, getting to ESPN opens up doors to radio, TV, the magazine, the website, etc."

Since then, Grantland.com has gone live. Last week, Doug Smith of the Jonathan AbramsToronto Star wrote, "If you do nothing else today other than spend time here and read the game story, you have to read this Grantland piece by Jonathan Abrams about the NBA brawl in Detroit." Smith said it would be "the best piece of long-form sports journalism you’ve read in years."

Abrams, 28, was the last African American sports reporter left standing at the New York Times, columnist William C. Rhoden notwithstanding. No black journalist has replaced Abrams, who spent three years at the paper.

Sports Editor Joe Sexton, formerly metro editor, did not respond to a request for comment. But the Times was in the same situation in 2007 when Clifford Brown left for the Sporting News, departing a section that once had at least six black reporters.

Sexton's predecessor, Tom Jolly, said then of the dwindling numbers, "obviously it's a huge concern" and added, "I should credit ESPN and Sports Illustrated for doing a great job with diversity." The two organizations, who hired reporters from his department, "have an ability to pay a lot more than we do," Jolly told Journal-isms.

"It's becoming all the more difficult . . . the pool is becoming a little more shallow," Jolly said of recruiting journalists of color. Yet he added, "we are making every effort to increase the numbers."

Abrams messaged Journal-isms,"I can't overstate how happy I was at NYT. Grantland/ESPN presented a wonderful opportunity and have since lived up to it.

"Funny thing is my fiance, Tanya Caldwell, started working at NYT right after I left and she had my full support..."

NPR a "Hotbed" for Female Journalists"

"We’ve come a long way since the 1970s, but in terms of women’s achievement, NPR is still a notable outlier," Jesse Ellison wrote Monday for the Daily Beast in a piece headlined, "How NPR Became a Hotbed for Female Journalists."

"Two years ago, Audie Cornish left her post at NPR’s Southern desk to cover Capitol Hill. 'My very first day, I walked into a press conference and it was all young reporters,' she says. 'Every single one of them was white and every single one of them was a man. I was like, whoa, this is not how we roll at NPR.'

". . . Dozens of studies have proved the benefits of diversity: varied experience and opinion counter 'group think' and strengthen ideas. Case in point: NPR’s Morning Edition has some 12 million listeners, more than twice the viewership of the Today show. And the women running overseas bureaus have brought home a host of Peabody Awards, including one for Sylvia Poggioli’s coverage of rape as a weapon of war in the Balkans, and for Kabul bureau chief Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson’s series on opium-addicted Afghan mothers. 'They are able to get at stories that other people wouldn’t have had an interest in,' says Morning Edition executive producer Madhulika Sikka. 'And wouldn’t have been able to penetrate anyway.' ”

Knight News Challenge Giving Away $5 Million

"The 2012 Knight News Challenge is looking for a few good journalism projects to receive $5 million in funding... but applicants share their ideas with Tumblr's user base," Neal Ungerleider wrote Friday for fastcompany.com.

"The Knight Foundation, one of America's best known journalism [nonprofits], is holding [its] sixth annual Knight News Challenge (KNC). Journalists, publications, web sites and media organizations worldwide have until March 17 to submit ideas for innovative news projects. Winners will receive grants, zero-interest loans, and investments from an approximately $5 million purse at the Knight Foundation will disburse. The catch? In order to apply, journalists are encouraged to post their ideas on Tumblr for the world to see."

D.C. Operation Seeks Part-Time Radio News Editors

Dial Global Inc. is looking to hire "a few" part-time editors with radio news backgrounds to work in the nation's capital as NBC News expands its weekday radio news broadcasts beyond the one minute per hour it now produces. They should have worked in a major market or at the network level.

As reported Friday, CNN plans to stop providing syndicated radio news on April 1, and NBC News is stepping into the vacuum. Dial Global distributes the newscasts.

Kevin Delany, Dial Global's vice president for news and talk programs, told Journal-isms on Monday that he had hired four people, two recruited from outside the company, and was looking for people available as fill-ins or vacation relief and to work odd shifts, overnights and weekends. One applicant of color was asked in for an interview but declined, Delany said. Over the course of a year, the  staffers would average five or 10 hours a week. The jobs are covered by the pay scale of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Those interested may contact Delany at KDelany (at) dialglobal.com.

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 BugMeNot.com 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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