Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Gerald Ford, Just as We Pictured Him

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Monday, January 1, 2007

Photog Says What We Saw Was What We Got

Of course Detroit News photographer Ricardo Thomas was at the Washington National Cathedral Tuesday for the Gerald R. Ford funeral service. Thomas was a White House photographer under Ford, apparently the first one of color to hold such a job, and he still refers to Ford as "the president."




Thomas was there as a working journalist, but he was effusive in his praise of the 38th president, who died last week at age 93. At his paper's invitation, Thomas recorded an audiovisual presentation on the News Web site, "Detroit News photographer recalls time in Ford White House."

Tuesday's service, Thomas told Journal-isms, "was just like the president. He likes to keep things simple, straightforward and without pomp and circumstance." The photographer had a little difficulty getting the shots he needed, in part because the Ford family ensconced themselves behind a column in the cavernous Gothic-style structure, "where there was no way we were going to get the picture." The photographers asked if they could be moved to get a clearer view, and the Bush folks accommodated them. Thomas suspected "this is their way of getting back," at Ford. In remarks released posthumously, Ford said the Iraq war that Bush has prosecuted was not justified.

Thomas became a White House photographer as a colleague of photographer David Hume Kennerly, with whom Thomas had worked at UPI and at Time magazine, where Thomas was a freelancer. "I've always been his backup," Thomas said of Kennerly, who was also in Washington shooting the services. Kennerly, a Ford favorite who was then 26 years old, was the second person hired by the new chief executive, Thomas said. Kennerly called up Thomas about 1 a.m. and asked, "How would you like to work at the White House?" After being assured that Kennerly was serious at that hour, he said yes.

"I really admired the man," Thomas said of Ford. "The stuff he had to put up with: You had the Nixon pardon, inflation double-digit, unemployment at 6.5 percent, a Democratic Congress—he had to deal with all of that," plus "restoring America's integrity with the international community."

Ford hired Thomas, who was then 31, even though he assumed the photographer was a Democrat, as Thomas said a lot of Ford's personal advisers had been. "Nobody ever bothered me about that," Thomas said. "He said, 'Your job is to do a good job.' He'd say, 'Hey, Rick, did you get that?" and praise him publicly. Thomas recalled being invited to watch a football game with Ford, a butler and a Secret Service agent. He also remembered how CBS correspondent Ed Bradley "knocked me on my ass" during a football game with the White House press corps.

The photographer said he stayed on after Jimmy Carter became president in 1977, but the difference in styles was too much for him. "Carter was so uptight," Thomas said. "Nobody wanted to photograph this guy. Carter was just really difficult to work with. Ford never told us what to do. We had 100 percent access. We just had carte blanche. Carter was just the opposite. When we were taking pictures, he would stop what he was doing and ask, 'have you got enough pictures?' I would say, 'no, Mr. President.' And he would say, 'let me know when you're finished.'"

The years between his White House service and his arrival at the Detroit News in 1999 were tough, he said.

Thomas wanted to start his own business. "My biggest mistake," he said, was not speaking up "when Ford said to the White House staff, all of you who want to get jobs elsewhere in the government, let me know and I'll try to take care of it.

"I could have gone to President Ford. I could have said I need a business loan. All he had to do was call the Small Business Administration and it would have been done." An offer to work on the staff of President-elect George H.W. Bush in 1988 somehow got sidetracked.

But Tuesday was not a day for regrets, or even mourning. Thomas, now 64, had work to do. He was proud of the photos he took for the Detroit News while in Washington, particularly one of the Ford family. And he wanted to be sure to apply for White House and Defense Department press credentials. He expects to be making pictures in Washington again.

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Reporters Fight Subpoenas to Testify at Court-Martial

Two freelance journalists are fighting subpoenas by the Army to testify Thursday at a court-martial proceeding against a soldier from Honolulu who refused to go to Iraq.

The Army ordered Sarah Olson and Dahr Jamail to testify against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is charged with missing troop movements and four counts of conduct unbecoming of an officer, according to the Associated Press and other news sources.

"The conduct charges stem from interviews Watada gave to Olson and other reporters in which he criticized the Bush administration and the Iraq war. Jamail covered an August anti-war rally where Watada spoke. The Army wants the reporters to testify in order to verify the statements attributed to Watada in their stories," AP reported.

"The reporters claim the subpoenas threaten press freedoms.

"Testifying against my source would turn the press into an investigative tool of the government and chill dissenting voices in the United States," Olson said in a statement.

In addition, Army prosecutors subpoenaed Gregg Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, according to Bob Egelko, writing Dec. 18 in the San Francisco Chronicle.

James W. Crawley, president of Military Reporters and Editors, said, "Trying to force a reporter to testify at a court-martial sends the wrong signal to the media and the military."

"Reporters and photographers who cover the military have developed a level of trust with America's fighting men and women to tell their stories honestly, fairly and completely. Having military prosecutors abuse that trust by forcing them to testify about matters that can be ascertained by other witnesses and evidence, stifles that trust and relationship between the media and military."

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Editorials Urge Dropping Charges in Duke Case

Newspapers are calling for all charges to be dropped against the white Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a black "exotic dancer" who attends North Carolina Central University.

Referring to District Attorney Mike Nifong, the Washington Post editorialized on Sunday, "Just before Christmas, Mr. Nifong dropped rape charges after the accuser said she "could no longer testify with certainty that it occurred. But the three men remain charged with kidnapping and first-degree sexual offense, which carry equally severe penalties. Mr. Nifong should drop those charges as well."

The Los Angeles Times said Dec. 26, "Attorneys for David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann have a vested interest in arguing that the case against their clients is now so compromised that the remaining charges also should be dismissed. Still, their argument is persuasive. . . . What is clear is that Nifong, whose election campaign for a full term overlapped with the investigation, lost control of his tongue and participated in the transformation of this incident from a case into a cause —usually an ominous development for the administration of justice."

The New York Daily News proclaimed that "The Duke Three should go free," writing on Dec. 29 that enough evidence had unfolded to conclude that the three students "are the targets of an irresponsible prosecution by a race-baiting, politically craven district attorney."

Close to home, the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer stopped short Dec. 30 of calling for charges to be dropped. But it noted that "the N.C. State Bar on Thursday accused Nifong of violating ethics rules with statements he made in numerous media interviews about the case.

". . . having to face the Bar's allegations, which carry the possibility of stiff sanctions, is reason enough for Nifong to remove himself from the case, and to do so immediately. Let judges or the state Attorney General's Office figure out what happens after that."

The case has yet to be heard in a courtroom, but the widely publicized case has for months been the subject of media commentary that led to charges that it was being tried in the news media. Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann remain charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree sexual assault after the accuser said they took her in a bathroom and committed sex acts on her. Rape charges were dropped when she told prosecutors she could no longer testify that she had been penetrated with a penis, one of the defining factors of rape in North Carolina law, as the Raleigh News & Observer reported on Friday.

Dana Canedy Writes Front-Page Tribute to Fiance

Alongside coverage of the 3,000th U.S. service member to die in Iraq. the New York Times Monday published a front-page appreciation by Dana Canedy of her fiance, Charles M. King, "From Father to Son, Last Words to Live By." It is a multimedia presentation online.




King, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army, was killed in Iraq in October. He had been home a month previously to see their son, Jordan, who was born in March. While still grieving, Canedy helped arrange the services for Gerald M. Boyd, the former Times managing editor who died on Thanksgiving.

"'Follow your heart,' Charles M. King wrote in a 200-page journal for his son, Jordan, whom he first held this fall just weeks before he died in Iraq," reported Canedy, an assistant editor on the Times' national desk.

"Charles knew the perils of war. During the months before he went away and the days he returned on leave, we talked often about what might happen. In his journal, he wrote about the loss of fellow soldiers. Still, I could not bear to answer when Charles turned to me one day and asked, 'You don't think I'm coming back, do you?' We never said aloud that the fear that he might not return was why we decided to have a child before we planned a wedding, rather than risk never having the chance.

"But Charles missed Jordan's birth because he refused to take a leave from Iraq until all of his soldiers had gone home first, a decision that hurt me at first. And he volunteered for the mission on which he died, a military official told his sister, Gail T. King. Although he was not required to join the resupply convoy in Baghdad, he believed that his soldiers needed someone experienced with them. 'He would say, "My boys are out there, I've got to go check on my boys," 'said First Sgt. Arenteanis A. Jenkins, Charles's roommate in Iraq."

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Ed Bradley Won't Be Replaced on "60 Minutes"

"Faced with the need to replace Ed Bradley in the middle of the TV season, '60 Minutes' won't even bother," David Bauder wrote Friday for the Associated Press.

"His workload will be spread around, and, in a unique arrangement for the CBS newsmagazine, his top producer will run a reporting unit for stories available to all on-air correspondents.

"'It's a long-term project to find the next full-time person who can show the abilities that are expected of a '60 Minutes' correspondent,' said Jeff Fager, the show's executive producer.

Bradley died of leukemia on Nov. 9. In the January issue of Black Enterprise magazine, founder Earl Graves Sr. writes, "As great as Bradley was as a journalist and as a man, his departure also underscores a different and more glaring void: the absence of African Americans in national network television news.

"It's hard to believe that it's been nearly a quarter century since Max Robinson last signed off as the Chicago-based co-anchor of ABC 'World News Tonight.' Robinson and Bradley (who became the only black network news anchor when he was named to helm CBS Sunday Night News in 1976) were symbols of hope and pride for African Americans. As a community, we had been accustomed to being a faceless, scorned, and pitiful presence on the national news scene, relegated almost exclusively to entertainment, sports, poverty, and crime stories, which were always reported by 'trusted newsmen' who, by definition, could never be black. We fully expected that the trail blazed by these legendary newsmen would show the way to a new era of diversity in national network news, not merely because of their presence at these jobs, but because of the excellence with which Robinson and Bradley performed them."

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Media Said to Overlook Rise in Suburban Poor

"More Americans now live in poverty in suburbs than in cities, a somewhat surprising shift that the Brookings Institution says 'signals the latest stage in the long-run decentralization of people and jobs in the United States,' " Edward B. Colby wrote Dec. 21 for the Columbia Journalism Review's CJR Daily.

"In a report released two weeks ago, Brookings found that while the number of urban and suburban poor in the nation's 100 largest metro areas was about even in 1999, by 2005 the suburbs, with 12.2 million residents, contained about 1.2 million more people in poverty than central cities did. In the AP story that broke the news, Alan Berube, the report's co-author, said that the faster-growing populations of the suburbs, their increasing racial and economic diversification, and recent immigrants who 'are increasingly bypassing cities and moving directly to suburbs, especially in the South and West' were reasons for the shift.

"But though the report strikes us as precisely the kind of peg that reporters often require — especially to write about poverty — it has not been well covered by the press. NPR is the only national outlet to have run a substantial piece on it."

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L.A. Times Scored on Latino Pop-Star Mixup

"Agustin Gurza, a Los Angeles Times staffwriter who covers Latino music and culture, was in the paper's ground-floor cafeteria last July when he heard the young, mostly Mexican and Central American workers behind a lunch counter chatting away about an item in that day's edition," Daniel Hernandez wrote Dec. 20 in the alternative L.A. Weekly.

"Reventon Super Estrella, a multiband bill of several Mexican acts hosted by the Spanish-language radio station Super Estrella (107.1), had been written up as a Hot Ticket in the Calendar Weekend section. At first, Gurza saw it as a good sign that the editors had previewed a Latin music concert without his usual prodding. But his contentment was short-lived. The cafeteria kids were actually laughing about the paper misidentifying the item's accompanying photo of singer Paulina Rubio as Thalia, another huge Latin pop star â?? and a Rubio rival. Not only that, Rubio wasn't even appearing at the Super Estrella event," wrote Hernandez, a former L.A. Times writer and winner of the 2006 Emerging Journalist Award from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

". . . Newspapers make mistakes all the time, but the message behind the kids' mocking was that the L.A. Times still stumbles when it tries to cover Latino-specific stories in a city that gets browner and younger every day. Latinos in Los Angeles, Mexican-Americans in particular, are fast filling the upper ranks in politics, capital, entertainment and the law. Latin American immigrants routinely push Spanish-language programming in television and radio to the top of the ratings. Their children make up the largest demographic chunk in the city's public-school system by far. But despite instances of excellent journalism on Latino issues in the Times —including first-rate coverage of Mexico from its foreign desk — there is the overwhelming sense that the country's largest metropolitan daily has yet to effectively cover and address the Mexican-Americans and other Latinos in its own backyard."

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Reporter Surprised by Extent of Baghdad's Decline

Hannah Allam of McClatchy Newspapers, who covers the Middle East and the Islamic world as bureau chief in Cairo, recently returned to Baghdad on assignment, and filed a report Thursday on how starkly the city had changed since she spent more than two years reporting on the war in Iraq as Baghdad bureau chief.

"I asked my colleagues to arrange meetings with old Iraqi sources — politicians, professors, activists and clerics — only to be told they'd been assassinated, abducted or exiled," she wrote.

"Even Mr. Milk is dead. The grocer we called by the name of his landmark shop in the upscale Mansour district was kidnapped and killed, along with his son, my colleagues said. The owner of a DVD shop where I once purchased a copy of 'Napoleon Dynamite' also had been executed," wrote Allam, who was named 2004 Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

"So many blindfolded, tortured corpses turn up that an Iraqi co-worker recently told me it was 'a slow day' when 17 bodies were found. Typically, the figure is 40 or more. When the overflowing morgue at Yarmouk Hospital was bombed last month, one of our drivers wearily muttered, 'How many times can they kill us?'"

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Short Takes

  • CNNâ??s "American Morning" plans a five-part series, â??Words That Changed a Nation,â?? on the private papers of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Hosted by Soledad O'Brien, the series airs from Monday, Jan. 8, to Friday, Jan. 12, CNN announced Tuesday. "The King family granted CNN exclusive access to rare documents, books, notes, sermons and other writings that represent the foundation of Kingâ??s lifeâ??s work as a preacher and human rights activist," a news release says. Edward Litvak is the showâ??s executive producer. The executive producers for the series are Jeffery Reid and Jim Polk.
  • "Michele Montas today began work as the spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, pledging to bring her experience as a journalist in Haiti, where she broadcast hard-hitting reports that put her life at risk, to the new assignment," the United Nations announced on Tuesday. Montas "has put her life on the line to expose political corruption, human rights abuses and State-sponsored violence in her native Haiti, where her fellow broadcaster and husband Jean Dominique was assassinated in 2000. Attempts to kill Ms. Montas twice forced her into exile and cost the life of her bodyguard in 2002. These events were chronicled by Jonathan Demme in a film called The Agronomist."
  • Aki Soga, who began a two-year term Monday as vice president of Unity: Journalists of Color Inc., has been appointed to manage the editorial pages of the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, Executive Editor Michael Townsend announced on Dec. 19. Soga, 48, business editor at the paper for 10 years, is a past national vice president of the Asian American Journalists Association and one of less than a handful of Asian American editorial page editors. Jeanne Mariani-Belding, new national president of AAJA, is editorial and opinion editor of the Honolulu Advertiser.
  • Attorneys for the Gary (Ind.) Post-Tribune are denying claims that the newspaper passed over one of its editors for a promotion because she was not black, Joe Carlson reported Saturday in the Times of Northwest Indiana. "Kimberly Steele, a Caucasian deputy lifestyle editor at the Merrillville-based daily newspaper, alleges in her federal discrimination lawsuit the paper's editors refused to consider her for a news editing job because the paper wanted a black candidate. Steele states that she was told the paper wanted the job of Northlake Editor to go to an African-American because the position covers news in Gary, which has a predominately black population."
  • Sundra Hominik, managing editor of the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was named senior editor for news at the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, Glenn Proctor, the paper's vice president and executive editor (and Maynard Institute board member), announced on Thursday. "Hominik, whose background includes broadcast and print journalism . . . will oversee metro, state and business coverage at The Times-Dispatch," the Richmond paper said. Hominik was a Maynard Media Academy mentor in 2005.
  • Clyde Hughes, a reporter at the Toledo (Ohio) Blade, returned to his native Beaumont, Texas, to announce to his parents that he has established the Shirley Ceasar and J.C. Hughes Jr. Scholarship. "The annual $500 scholarship, named in their honor, will be awarded to a Lamar University communications student beginning in the spring," Dee Dixon reported Dec. 22 in the Beaumont Enterprise.
  • Tony Mineart, 47, a former circulation director at the Washington Post and a mentor to many in the profession, died Dec. 25 of pancreatic cancer at his home in Bradenton, Fla., the Post reported. In 2000, he attended the Maynard Institute's Management Training Center at Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
  • Rosetta Miller-Perry, publisher of the Tennessee Tribune, has been named to the Tennessee panel appointed to study overhauling the state's open government laws. But the panel voted unanimously to delay making its recommendations to the Legislature until 2008, Erik Schelzig reported Nov. 28 for the Associated Press. As reported in May, Tennessee lawmakers mandated that a black journalist be a member of the committee. Miller-Perry was chosen in September.
  • Javier Morgado is joining NBC-TV's "Today" show as a supervising producer overseeing assignments and news, an NBC spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday. Morgado has worked at the network since 2001, most recently as senior editor, managing and coordinating daily news coverage for NBC News and its various entities.
  • After 37 years at the Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star, reporter Mike De La Cruz will file his last story at 4 p.m. and begin a well-deserved retirement, Leslie Albrecht reported Sunday in the Sun-Star.
  • "We've been hearing from some African-American readers lately, expressing dissatisfaction about News & Observer coverage," public editor Ted Vaden of the Raleigh, N.C., newspaper, wrote on Sunday. Linda Williams, deputy managing editor, said in Vaden's column that the newsroom was reassessing its news coverage strategy to be able to provide more "news of the ordinary" that would focus on real people navigating their daily lives. "That would include individuals' achievements, awards, community events and more of what I think [a reader] would call 'positive news'— black, white and other," Vaden wrote.
  • "It was a big concern among media buyers when the WB and UPN merged into the CW: Where would UPN's African-American audience go once that network's largely black lineup was squished into a two-hour block on the new network?" Kevin Downey wrote Dec. 20 for MediaLife magazine. "It turns out the CW is only picking up perhaps half the black audience who used to watch UPN and the WB. But contrary to earlier fears, the other half have not quit watching television. They've simply scattered to other networks. New information from Nielsen Media Research shows that the number of African Americans watching the broadcast networks is virtually unchanged from last season."
  • Sam Shu, who emigrated from China and holds two master's degrees, left the U.S. State Department as a Chinese translator to study journalism at Vanderbilt University in Nashville at the Freedom Forum's Diversity Institute. Students undergo intensive training in journalism before they work in a newspaper, explained Nashville's WTVF-TV on Dec. 27. They are nominated and later hired by the newspaper. Shu just accepted his first reporting position in Guam, the story said.
  • "You're going to see a lot more of Mark McEwen in 2007. He has made big strides since suffering a massive stroke in mid-November 2005," television writer Hal Boedeker wrote in the Orlando Sentinel on Sunday. "The stroke nearly killed McEwen, who is 52, and knocked him off the air. WKMG-Channel 6 handed his morning anchor duties to Lauren Rowe. But in the coming year, McEwen hopes to spread awareness about strokes."
  • Erika Hayasaki, who covers the youth and education beat for the Los Angeles Times' Metro section, will be joining the national staff as a New York correspondent, national desk editor Scott Kraft told staffers on Thursday. She is a 2001 graduate of the Minority Editorial Training Program, known as METPRO.
  • Jeffrey Nguyen, 33, reporter for KCOY/KKFX in Santa Maria, Calif., was arrested, cited and released on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol about 2:30 a.m. Saturday after he struck two vehicles, the San Luis Obispo (Calif.) Tribune reported on Sunday. Nguyen, who was at the scene when police arrived, declined medical treatment, the story said. [Update: Disposition of case]

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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