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Gannett's Dorothy Bland Lands at FAMU

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Former Publisher to Lead Journalism Division

Dorothy Bland, who was one of only a handful of black women daily newspaper publishers when she resigned abruptly in September 2005 as publisher of Gannett's Fort Collins Coloradoan, has been named director of the journalism division at Florida A&M University.

The school, which in 1982 became the first accredited journalism program at a historically black university, made the announcement on Tuesday. Bland started Jan. 2.

Bland held reporting, editing and managerial positions at Gannett's USA Today, Rockford (Ill.) Register Star and Chillicothe (Ohio) Gazette. She had been publisher of the Coloradoan for 11 years when she and Executive Editor Michael Limon, who had led that 39-employee newsroom for three years, resigned. Limon has since become business editor at the Salt Lake Tribune. Gannett declined to explain their departures.

The School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, of which the journalism division is a part, has 23 full-time faculty members and enrolls more than 500 students, according to its Web site. It is housed in a new, $20 million building, but the journalism program won only a provisional accreditation last year, in part because the position Bland is assuming was unfilled. The provisional designation means the program has two years to correct the deficiency.

As reported then, FAMU won praise in 1997 from Time magazine as College of the Year and in 1999 from the Freedom Forum for having the "administrator of the year" in its journalism school. But the university subsequently underwent a number of crises, and the school failed the "mission, governance and administration" accreditation standard.

Dean James E. Hawkins told the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication that the school was searching for a new permanent director. The accrediting team praised the school for its "truly impressive" new facilities and "lots of student enthusiasm," but cited "uncertainty about the future," communications problems between the school's administration and faculty, and lack of a diversity plan. Hawkins said such a plan was in place.

The journalism programs at historically black colleges and universities are a key component in the continuing effort to diversify newsrooms. The president of Hampton University, William R. Harvey, told the accrediting council last year, "Of the 458 journalism and mass communication programs, only 27 (5.9%) are at HBCU institutions," speaking of historically black colleges and universities. "Yet, their importance to journalism and communication education can be seen in the fact that 24.2% of the Black students who earn bachelor's degrees in journalism and communications receive them from the 5.9% that are HBCU institutions."

Bland, 48, who also was named a full professor, said in a news release, â??FAMU has a seasoned faculty plus a beautiful state of the art facility with a radio station, two TV studios, a vibrant student newspaper and magazine. FAMU has a national reputation for producing quality journalists. This is a wonderful opportunity to help shape the next generation of talent who will compete on multi-media platforms.â??

Bland is a 1982 graduate of the Maynard Institute's Editing Program for Minority Journalists and a 1986 graduate of its Management Training Center. She is active in a number of professional organizations and helped write the American Press Instituteâ??s Survival Guide for Women Editors.

She told Journal-isms she had taken personal time to be with her family after leaving the Fort Collins paper and had been doing media consulting and marketing, which she said she hopes to continue, time permitting. She also said she plans to join the Accrediting Council. Hawkins said he met Bland during an educators conference in San Francisco last summer and invited her to interview for the post. He said he was impressed by her experience, particularly "with the whole issue of convergence at the highest levels in the newspaper business," a reference to cross-training journalists to work in more than one medium.

As a Gannett publisher, Bland was a three-time presidentâ??s ring winner for excellence based on work at the Coloradoan, oversaw the launch of www.coloradoan.com, led the paper as it constructed a new building and grew revenues and profits substantially, the release said.

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Inquirer Makes "a Start" on Repairing Diversity Hit

Journalists of color at the Philadelphia Inquirer met with management Tuesday over the layoffs of a disproportionate number of their colleagues of color, but "there wasn't much progress made," reporter Vernon Clark, one of those in the seven-member delegation, told Journal-isms.

"The company did say on the record for one of the first times that they're committed to diversity," Clark said. "That was a critical first step, but in terms of us being able to make up for the loss of minority staffers, this is really just a start."

 

 

"There is a glimmer of optimism," Inquirer reporter Melanie Burney, who is parliamentarian of the National Association of Black Journalists, told Journal-isms. "It's unfortunate that diversity wasn't on anybody's radar screen before this, but it's on the table now."

The two sides agreed to meet again in a month, and to appoint a diversity committee covering both the Inquirer and its sister paper, the tabloid Philadelphia Daily News, Burney said.

The journalists presented to publisher Brian Tierney a letter signed by 27 African American, Asian American and Hispanic journalists who "collectively request that positive action be taken now, with the immediate object being to reduce the number of minority journalists included in the current list of those to be laid off." Inquirer Editor William Marimow and Philadelphia Daily News Editor Michael Days were present at the meeting, as was Mark Frisby, the company's new executive vice president in charge of production, labor and purchasing, and the company's general counsel, Robert Barron. Days and Frisby are African American.

Joe Strupp reported in Editor & Publisher Tuesday that "Jay Devine, a Tierney spokesman, said the publisher considered the meeting to be 'terrific' and 'cordial.' He said Tierney reiterated his position that many of the layoff decisions were tied to seniority provisions in the newspaper guild contract that require most layoffs to be linked to seniority. 'Our hands were tied by this rigid seniority system which does not allow for diversity,' Devine said. 'In spite of that, he did talk about the fact that he intends to continue to make the company as diverse as he can.'"

Burney said a delegation of African American journalists met with Newspaper Guild leaders on Saturday and found the guild to be "very supportive." She said she agreed with the Guild that the company could have required that any layoffs be conducted in a way that protected diversity if it so chose, the way that it exempted certain beats from layoffs.

The seven who met with Tierney and Marimow Tuesday were Clark, Burney, Sarah Glover, Dwight Ott, Acel Moore, Annette John-Hall, Harold Jackson, Sandy Clark and Elisa Ung.

In a report Tuesday night on the meeting, Glover, who is secretary of the National Association of Black Journalists, wrote that the Inquirer staff made the following recommendations:

"To re-establish a Diversity Committee; to develop a company mission statement on diversity; to reinstitute recruitment officer position; to conduct periodic content analysis of the newspaper; provide training; enhance internship programs to include more minorities; to continue community outreach with various segments of the community."

She wrote that at the end of the meeting, the company agreed:

"To create a Diversity Committee to develop company-wide policies for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News; to name someone within a week to oversee the Diversity Committee; to make efforts to call back minority staffers if positions become available; to meet again in one month to dialogue further."

The statement to management by the 27 is at the end of today's posting.

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Public Broadcasting Dominates DuPont Awards

Chosen from a pool of 526 radio and television news entries that aired in the United States between July 1, 2005, and June 30, 2006, this year's Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for broadcast journalism covered such issues as the war in Iraq, the Hurricane Katrina devastation, the Arab-Israeli peace process, and the global AIDS crisis, and tackled the desperate lives of North Korean refugees, poverty on Cape Cod, environmental pollution in Maryland, and Bob Dylan's life in the 60s, Columbia University said on Saturday in announcing this year's 14 awards.

"Public broadcasting, both television and radio, dominated the awards, garnering seven of the fourteen batons. NBC News was the only network news operation to win a duPont Award this year. Other national winners were HBO and the Discovery Times Channel. Local affiliates of NBC and ABC were also honored along with two CBS local stations. NPR's foreign desk and a series by public radio serving Cape Cod and The Islands were the only two winners among radio reports."

The winners are to be presented their silver batons on Wednesday at Columbia University. They are featured in the annual PBS documentary "Telling the Truth: The Best in Broadcast Journalism," hosted this year by Christiane Amanpour. PBS is sending local stations a feed on Jan. 18.

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How Pepsi Courted Blacks in the 1940s

"The rivalry between Pepsi and Coke, which started in the 1940s, is legendary in business. Less known is that a more important battle was being fought on the front lines of the cola wars at the same time: the struggle of African-Americans to gain access to professional jobs in major corporations," Stephanie Capparell wrote Jan. 9 in the Wall Street Journal.

"Walter S. Mack, the astute president of the underdog Pepsi-Cola Co., decided he could lift the stalled sales of his soft drink by hiring a team of African-American marketers to make a more concerted effort to pursue the black consumer dollar.

"After the war ended, Mr. Mack decided to court the black consumer with a full department of salesmen, with a budget for advertising and promotional tools. In 1947, he hired Edward F. Boyd, a onetime singer and actor working then for the National Urban League in New York, to create the new division.

"Six members of that team, now in their 80s and 90s, lived to tell their story for the book, 'The Real Pepsi Challenge.'" Capparell is its author.

On Friday, National Public Radio's "News & Notes" told radio listeners the story.

Short Takes

  • "New House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) told attendees at the National Conference on Media Reform Saturday that Congress needed to explore ways to boost minority ownership of the media and took aim at loosened ownership rules he blamed for suppressing a diversity of views," John Eggerton reported Monday in Broadcasting & Cable.
  • Since New York City's Commission on Human Rights ended its investigation of 16 New York ad agencies, Bill Gray, co-CEO of Ogilvy North America, has become an evangelist for diversity hiring, Lisa Sanders reported Monday in Ad Age. "He has to be: Ogilvy and its brethren are under more pressure than ever after the commission last week released agencies' goals for minority hires in 2007. Mr. Gray's targets? For new hires at executive level, 16% must be minority. For general new hires, 33% must be minority."
  • "A San Francisco talk radio station pre-empted three hours of programming on Friday in response to a campaign by bloggers who have recorded extreme comments by several hosts and passed on digital copies

 

 

  • to advertisers, Noam Cohen reported Monday in the New York Times. The comments had "drawn national attention for language considered racially insensitive, religiously intolerant or containing violent imagery. . . . The lead blogger, who uses the name Spocko, said that he and other bloggers had contacted more than 30 advertisers on KSFO-AM to inform them of comments made on the air and to ask them to pull their ads. . . . the hosts were uniformly defiant against the bloggers, who were called 'crackpots with keyboards' and accused of using 'guerrilla tactics.' "
  • " Sharon Ito, the host of "News10 Good Morning" with Dan Elliott for the past five years, is about to make that leap. After the February sweeps period, Ito will assume her new position as the station's Web anchor, a first for Sacramento TV news," Sam McManis wrote Tuesday in the Sacramento Bee. "Her exact duties on www.news10.net have yet to be revealed, but news director Stacy Owen says Ito will be a 'one-person content developer' who will moderate chat room discussions, explain the station's reasons for airing certain stories and anchor breaking news stories throughout the day."
  • "'Today' will add a fourth hour in the fall. Book it," Gail Shister wrote Tuesday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "NBC officials will announce the expansion tomorrow at the TV Critics Association winter meetings in Pasadena, Calif. Book that, too. Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira will continue coanchoring the 7-to-9 a.m. mothership. Ann Curry and Al Roker, now doing the 9 a.m. hour, will stick around until 11."
  • John Yang has been named NBC News correspondent, effective immediately, NBC announced on Tuesday. "Yang will be based in Washington, D.C. and will contribute to all NBC News properties, including 'NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,' 'Today' and MSNBC. . . . Yang was an ABC News correspondent based in Washington, D.C. from 2004 to 2006. . . . Prior to joining ABC News, Yang was a reporter and editor at The Washington Post for nearly ten years."
  • Veteran TV news reporter and filmmaker Steve Crump has made an hourlong documentary on Muhammad Ali, "Louisville's Own Ali," that blends previous footage of Ali and interviews Louisville notables such as radio personality Bob Edwards, sculptor Ed Hamilton, gridiron great Lenny Lyles, former Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown and former state Sen. Georgia Davis Powers, Larry Muhammad reported Monday in the Louisville Courier-Journal.
  • Sean Jensen, who has covered the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press since 1999, started in mid-December as a once-a-week columnist for AOL Sports, an additional role.
  • "We had a first in Washington last week, the swearing in of one new state senator, Claudia Kauffman from Kent. She's the first Native American woman to be elected to that body," Mark Trahant wrote Sunday in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where he is editorial page editor. "In our quest to be more human it is we — especially we men — who need a world in balance. We need governments that represent all citizens and all of our ways of thinking," wrote Trahant, who is also board chair of the Maynard Institute.
  • The Economist magazine changed an online headline, "Go West, Young Chinaman," after a complaint from the Asian American Journalists Association that "Chinaman" is offensive, AAJA said. The headline on the story, about Chinese merchants and traders beginning to make a presence in Western Asia, was changed to, "Go West, Young Man."
  • "Former El Nuevo Herald cartoonist Jose Varela this weekend signed and sold cartoons to raise money for his defense fund, according to a CBS4.com story linked on The Comics Journal's blog," Editor & Publisher reported on Tuesday. "The Cuba native was arrested last November after holing up at the offices of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald to air several grievances. He was reportedly carrying a toy gun that resembled a real semiautomatic weapon, and ended up being charged with three counts of aggravated assault."
  • "As it passes the halfway point on the way to its second year, Native Youth Magazine.com is now averaging about 2 million hits per month and more than 1,000 unique visits a day," Tim Giago wrote Monday in "Notes from Indian Country." The online magazine was started by Mary Kim Titla, a member of the San Carlos Apache Nation who once toiled at the NBC affiliate television stations in Arizona.
  • Maya Nishikawa, weekend reporter at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, discusses some of her young daughter Meiko's health issues — scoliosis, a floppy ear canal and a feeding tube in her stomach — on her blog, Amy Carlson Gustafson reported in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Sunday.
  • "Rumbo, the largest Spanish-language newspaper chain in Texas, said it will begin publishing its San Antonio and Houston editions weekly, rather than the three times a week schedule. The changes will take place immediately, with newspapers available on Friday at newsstands and delivered to subscribers Saturday," Nancy Ayala reported Tuesday in Marketing y Medios.
  • After working the early shift on "Fox & Friends" for many years, Lauren Green is being promoted to Fox's religion correspondent, she said Friday on "Fox & Friends," according to Brian Stelter's TV Newser column.
  • U.S. Spanish-language dailies are virtually unanimous in their opposition to President Bush's "new way forward" in Iraq, Mark Fitzgerald reported Tuesday in Editor & Publisher. "All three major dailies that publish unsigned editorials oppose the so-called 'surge' strategy of adding troops to secure Baghdad," he wrote.
  • A court in Casablanca, Morocco, handed down suspended sentences of three years in prison and fines of $9,308 to Driss Ksikes, editor of the Arabic-language weekly Nichane, and one of his journalists, Sanaa Elaji, for attacking Islam and traditional morals in a feature about Moroccan humor. The court also ordered the weekly to be closed for two months, Reporters Without Borders reported Monday.
  • Reporters Without Borders Tuesday called for Rwanda to release AgnÚs Uwimana Nkusi, the editor-in-chief of the privately owned bimonthly Umurabyo who has been held since Friday for publishing an open letter condemning press freedom violations.
  • "Reporters Without Borders condemned on Friday the Jan. 11 jailing of Rigobert Kakwala Kash, the editor of the privately owned weekly Le Moniteur in Congo, and the 11-month prison sentence he received as a result of a libel suit by the governor of a western province. He is the first journalist to be imprisoned since Joseph Kabila's election as president.
  • The Somalia government on Tuesday allowed three FM stations and Al-Jazeera's TV office in the capital to reopen after hours of closed-door meetings with its administrators, the Shabelle Media Network reported on Tuesday. "Shortly after the government's acceptance the three broadcasts began on air and continue their normal activities."
  • The death of veteran South African journalist Basil Doc Bikitsha, at 77, of complications from diabetes, marks the end of an era, Jacob Dlamini wrote Saturday in South Africa's Business Day. "Doc was more than just a master storyteller. . . . He was also a great journalist and teacher whose talent was such that, although he wrote mainly for the journalistic homeland that was the Extra (meaning black) edition of the Sunday Times, he could and did often go beyond the narrow confines of that dispiriting bantustan. He could write about anything, for anyone. That he preferred writing for the Extra edition was because, I believe, he felt he knew the people who would be reading his column at taxi ranks and stadiums every Sunday. He felt he knew their idioms better."

"Diversity Observations" from Inquirer Staffers

This statement, dated Jan. 16, was presented to management of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

African American (11.3 percent), Asian American (4.7 percent) and Hispanic American (2.1 percent) journalists are the minorities represented on The Inquirerâ??s newsroom staff, according to the latest survey of the American Society of Newspaper editors.

African American (16) and Asian American (5) journalists represent a disproportionate share (28 percent) of the newsroom staff identified to be laid off by The Inquirer.

Philadelphiaâ??s population is 45 percent African American, 5 percent Asian and 10 percent Hispanic, according to U.S. Census figures, meaning that even before the layoffs, The Inquirer newsroom staff was a poor reflection of the community it covers.

Inadequate consideration was given to diversity not only in naming those to be laid off, but in subsequently carving out specific newsroom jobs to be protected from the layoffs. (For example, immigration is one of the hottest topics in the nation, yet The Inquirerâ??s immigration reporter, an Asian American, was laid off.)

The Inquirer City Desk has only one black reporter and no black editors as it prepares to cover a mayoral election in which race will be an important factor.

The lack of diversity on The Inquirer Copy Desk puts it at a dangerous disadvantage in sighting cultural and ethnic slights before they get into the paper.

The lack of diversity within The Inquirer Features Department puts it at a disadvantage in sighting cultural trends in music, dance, the theater, etc., within the Philadelphia region.

The lack of diversity among The Inquirerâ??s assigning editors puts the paper at a disadvantage in deciding which stories are most important to our readers.

The lack of diversity among The Inquirerâ??s regular columnists presents a monolithic point of view on sundry issues, suggesting to minority readers that the paper doesnâ??t really care about what they think. The low number of Hispanics in the newsroom echoes this concern.

With previous job actions at The Inquirer having decimated its number of more seasoned minority journalists, current layoffs that have targeted junior staffers have destroyed hopes for a new generation to grow and become the paperâ??s future leaders.

The carving out of â??importantâ?? beats for protection from layoffs has revealed The Inquirerâ??s failure to assign minority journalists to key beats. New hires of minority journalists at entry-level positions will only perpetuate that condition.

The Inquirer lacks programs aimed at retention of veteran minority journalists. The Inquirer lacks an active recruitment effort, complete with director and staff, which can identify qualified minority journalists at various levels of experience who might be hired at any time in the future.

The Inquirer has failed to continue operation of a diversity committee of staff, including top editors, which would concern itself with the ethnic makeup of the newsroom staff as well as coverage of our minority communities.

The Inquirer has failed to continue even infrequent content analyses of its pages to ensure that our stories and photographs properly reflect the diversity of our readers. Both Inquirer publisher Brian P. Tierney and executive editor Bill Marimow are to be commended for their stated commitments to diversity, which must now be borne out by their actions.

Any finger-pointing at the Newspaper Guild for the impact of layoffs and carve-outs does not excuse The Inquirer for not taking additional steps available to it to ensure that the diversity of its staff was better protected.

The involvement of both the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists is indicative of the rest of Americaâ??s interest in how The Inquirer handles these diversity issues.

The lack of coverage by The Inquirer of these diversity issues, given its previous coverage of other workplace issues, suggests to readers that The Inquirer is trying to hide from the subject rather than take positive action.

Considering these observations, minority journalists at The Inquirer collectively request that positive action be taken now, with the immediate object being to reduce the number of minority journalists included in the current list of those to be laid off. Thank you.

Respectfully submitted by,

Inquirer staffers Tanya Barrientos, Melanie L. Burney, Philippa J. Chaplin, Sterling Chen, Vernon Clark, Porus Cooper, Ron Cortes, Maisha Elonai, Sarah J. Glover, Thom Guarnieri, Annette John-Hall,

Kristin E. Holmes, Sherry Howard, Harold Jackson, Michael Levin, Acel Moore, Dwight Ott, Michael Perez, Keith Pompey, Lita Prout, Claire Smith, Akira Suwa,

Miriam Tarver, Ron Tarver, Kevin Tatum, Elisa Ung, Elizabeth Wellington

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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