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"That Girl That's Named After a Prison"

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fox Chief Roger Ailes Takes Swipe at Soledad O'Brien

Diversity a Concern in Washington Post Buyouts

Some Big Players Still Missing in Online Diversity Survey

Hundreds Fill Harlem Church at Sendoff for Gil Noble

Student Fired Before He Started Is Getting Other Offers

Whoops! Tweet Wasn't Intended to Be Public

Tips for Diversity at Alt Weeklies, in Business Journalism

White Nationalists Still Writing for MarketWatch

Race and Media Discussed, From Hip-Hop to Haiti Coverage

Short Takes

Fox News Chief Roger Ailes claimed that Fox News has never taken a story down because it was wrong. The debunking began right away. (Credit: News 14 Carolina) (Video)

Fox Chief Roger Ailes Takes Swipe at Soledad O'Brien

Roger E. Ailes, chairman of Fox News, referred to anchor Soledad O'Brien of rival network CNN as "that girl that's named after a prison" after a lecture Thursday before journalism students at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Chapel Hill, Melody Guyton Butts reported for the Herald-Sun in Durham, N.C.

O'Brien told Journal-isms by email on Friday, "My parents, who are devout catholics, named me 'maria de la soledad', which translates from spanish to 'our mary of solitude' aka the virgin mary. . . . He's wrong. I'm not named after a prison, I'm named after the Virgin Mary, because my parents are devout Catholics."

Soledad O'Brien was not pleased.She added, "Not to mention it's somewhat odd for a 71 year old man to call a 45 year old woman and mother of four a 'girl'."

The Wikipedia entry for Soledad, Calif., which is five miles south of the California correctional facility, notes the name's long history. "The original community of Soledad was founded as a Spanish mission October 9, 1791 by Fermín Lasuén, and founded under the rule of the Viceroyalty of New Spain (Virreinato de Nueva España) 1535 to 1821," it says.

O'Brien, daughter of a white Australian father and a black Cuban mother, was named "Journalist of the Year" by the National Association of Black Journalists in 2010. NABJ called her "the impetus of CNN's acclaimed 'In America' franchise, which began with CNN's 'Black [in] America' in 2008, a groundbreaking documentary, which took an in-depth look at the challenges confronting blacks in America." Later, the series took on "Latino in America" and "Gay in America."

"Soledad is a solid journalist with a long list of accomplishments," Bob Butler, NABJ vice president of broadcast, said in a news release at the time. "Her reporting is always done with great thought and perspective. We are proud to have her in the NABJ family."

In another part of his talk, Ailes said, "[In] 15 years we have never taken a story down because it was wrong. You can't say that about CNN, CBS or the New York Times,' " Erik Wemple wrote for the Washington Post. "That account comes from the Twitter feed of journalist Gabriel Sherman. Another report on the event — it wasn't livestreamed — contained this interpretation of the Ailes boast:

"He claimed Thursday that the channel has never had to retract a story for inaccuracies...

"The debunking began right away. . . . "

Diversity a Concern in Washington Post Buyouts

Amid scuttlebutt that a disproportionate number of black journalists at the Washington Post are planning to take a buyout offer by Monday's deadline, both the Newspaper Guild and management said they would be conscious of the impact of departures on newsroom diversity.

"Yes, we're watching that closely," Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli told Journal-isms by email on Friday. "As I've said before, diversity in the newsroom, and in every department of the newsroom, is essential to our success. The Post serves a diverse community, a diverse nation, a diverse world. We should reflect that diversity, and we will work to ensure that we do."

Nikita Stewart, a Post reporter who is vice chair of the Post unit of the Guild, said in a message, "We actually have teamed with black employees with committees to help guide folks through the buyout and to think about the opportunities that could be created internally after the buyouts. . . . we would like to have conversations with management about how to guarantee a commitment or an effort to diversity. Some conversations have taken place already though briefly and informally."

The Post is offering a severance payment equal to 3.25 weeks of pay for every year of service, according to the Guild.Lisa Frazier Page

Brauchli said he did not know yet how many people the Post is hoping will take the buyout.

Despite the scuttlebutt, only one black journalist was willing to say on the record that she plans to take the buyout. Lisa Frazier Page, social issues editor on the Local staff, said in a message, "I am taking the buyout, and I am very excited about it. We are moving home to New Orleans. My husband is retiring. I hope to write books full time. I am finishing up my fourth book project and planning to start another this summer."

In the 2012 diversity census of the American Society of News Editors, the Post reported 25.3 percent journalists of color: .5 percent American Indian, 8.0 percent Asian American, 12.9 percent black and 3.8 percent Hispanic.

[Update: Tony P. Knott, an assistant news editor, said Sunday that he planned to take the buyout.]

Some Big Players Still Missing in Online Diversity Survey

The number of online-only news organizations participating in the American Society of News Editors' diversity census has almost tripled since 2010, from 27 to 75, according to figures ASNE released last week, but some of the largest online news sites still are missing.

They include,, Huffington Post, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo, the Daily Beast, Tucson Citizen and Yahoo.

Some, such as Yahoo, have steadfastly refused to cooperate, citing a desire to protect "trade secrets." Others offered Journal-isms different explanations this week.

"I spoke with the [woman] who runs the survey and told her that I would definitely fill out the survey as soon as it included our whole organization," Josh Marshall, founder, editor and publisher of, said by email. "As it is it excludes the entire tech and publishing parts of the company. That doesn't make sense to me. . . . for us, tech and publishing, we're all together in one big news room, working together etc."

Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington told Journal-isms last year that her sites would cooperate "now that we have the resources."

However, Rhoades Alderson, spokesman for Huffington Post, said this week, "Because ASNE came to us with a tight deadline at a time when we were still unifying two large and distinct newsrooms in the wake of our merger, we were not able to collect reliable data on time. But we look forward to reporting our data next year."

Andrew Kirk, spokesman for the Daily Beast, said, "We have not been asked to fill out any census information about our newsroom by ASNE or any other organization — whose attention was it sent for? And when?"

Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, said, "We decided to participate, but apparently there was a bug on their website that led us to believe we'd completed the survey when we hadn't." The surveys were filled out online this year.

"If we can get them to reopen, we will add our 2011 data. Otherwise, we'll participate next year."

Neither David Talbot, founder and CEO of, nor his public relations team responded to an inquiry.

Of four sites that did not respond in a previous attempt but did so this time —,, Capital Times and Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism — none reported journalists of color.

However, Oakland Local in California reported 73.3 percent; Rio Grande Guardian in McAllen, Texas, 72.7 percent;, 42.9 percent; Center for Investigative Reporting/California Watch, Berkeley, Calif., 42.4 percent; and Progress Illinois, 40 percent.

The Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan said at Friday's services, "Gil Noble's mark was his unequaled mark on history. His character prevailed (and) he never sold out." (WABC-TV video on Noble's life)

Hundreds Fill Harlem Church at Sendoff for Gil Noble

"Two events at the same time this morning: The funeral of WABC-TV veteran Gil Noble, who was a groundbreaking reporter and anchor, and the news conference of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, whose heroics last night saved his neighbors from their burning building," Bill Ritter wrote Friday on the website of the New York television station.

"At Gil's wake last night, a packed Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem heard the other groundbreaking black journalists tell stories about Gil and the times back then. The 1960s when blacks not only didn't have a seat at the table, most didn't have a seat of any kind."

A spokeswoman for Abyssinian told Journal-isms that the church, with a 1,400-person capacity, was filled. Noble died at age 80 on April 5 after suffering a stroke last year.

The New York Amsterdam News reported, "The closed casket service brought out the who's who of notable Black New Yorkers and national figures who shared memories and tributes to Noble. Among those who spoke were Louis [Farrakhan], actor Danny Glover, Susan Taylor and Mayor David Dinkins.

". . . Others that attended and spoke at the funeral were politicians including City Councilman Charles Barron, Assemblywoman Inez Barron, Congressman Charlie Rangel and State Senator Bill Perkins. Several from the academic world were also present including Adelaide Sanford, writer Amiri Baraka and Black studies professor Dr. Leonard [Jeffries]. Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan and Les Payne were also in the audience.

". . . A lover of jazz music, Noble's passion was showcased through tribute performances including the playing of his favorite song 'Misty.' Musicians Randy Weston, Alex Blake and Leon Dorsey performed the jazz selections."

Student Fired Before He Started Is Getting Other Offers

Khristopher Brooks, the student whose job offer was rescinded by the  News Journal in Wilmington, Del., after he used the newspaper's logo and quoted from the editor's hiring letter on his website, said the publicity has generated job offers from other organizations.

In an essay posted Thursday on Huffington Post, Brooks wrote, ". . . I pondered all this while sitting at my desk at Black Voices," where he is an intern. "I looked at the computer screen and suddenly I had a handful of emails. Job offers. All across the country, from as near as Connecticut, out to Iowa and even more pouring in today. I received an offer to write a essay for a popular online magazine and my followers on Twitter have reached out to me. Most of them are saying, 'ahh, you didn't want to be with Gannett anyway.' "

In an interview with Aaron Morrison of, Brooks said he had four job interviews lined up.

Morrison asked, "Bottom line is, you wouldn't necessarily go back and change how you announced your new job. Right?"

Brooks replied, "I think I would do the same. Minus the logo, minus the quote from David Ledford," editor of the News Journal, "and I probably leave the editors' names out of it. But I would still do it. I think fundamentally what I did was still right. But if I didn't use the logo or the quote, I think they probably wouldn't have had any grounds to fire me."

Whoops! Tweet Wasn't Intended to Be Public

"The Star Tribune's Tom Lee scored a mammoth scoop Tuesday with news that Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn’s resignation came amid a company investigation into alleged personal misconduct, which Lee today reported was an alleged 'inappropriate relationship with a female employee,' " David Brauer reported Thursday for MinnPost in Minneapolis.

"Wednesday night, Lee published a scoop he seems to have regretted.

"Via the social networking site Twitter, Lee sent two messages to an Tom Leeaccount belonging to Brian Dunn. I've redacted them for reasons I’ll explain in a sec:

" '@briandunn Brian, I’m a reporter for the Star Tribune. I’m writing a story that says BBY board is investigating you for XX XXXXXXX XXXXX…'

" '@briandunn BBY employee XXXX XXXX. Is this true? Contact me at or 612-202-2307."

"Twitter allows people to send each other private, direct messages, or DMs, but Lee's were public. That put the woman's name out in the wild, where competitors and curious citizens — including the one who tipped me off — could read what the newspaper was not confident enough to print in its Thursday front-page follow-up.

"Lee's tweets were a mistake because there needs to be some standard of proof (and subsequently, judgment) before someone's name is put out in public.

"More than an hour later, the messages were deleted."

Lee, a business reporter at the Star Tribune who is also national vice president for print of the Asian American Journalists Association, has not responded to requests for comment.

Tips for Diversity at Alt Weeklies, in Business Journalism

The Diversity Committee of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia — an organization of alternative newsweeklies — has compiled a three-page list of tips on fostering diversity and inclusion within the alternative news industry.

"Diversity is important, and almost all of us can do better with it," Jimmy Boegle, Tucson Weekly editor and AAN diversity chair, said in an announcement Thursday. "And by doing better, that means tangible things: More readers, more advertisers, and more respect."

"Boegle said the document [PDF] was the idea of former Creative Loafing (Charlotte) editor Carlton Hargro, who was previously a committee member. He credits Hargro and Jackson Free Press editor Donna Ladd with doing the 'heavy lifting on the writing' and the other committee members with sharing tips and comments," the announcement said.

According to the document, "Media-diversity experts advise that media sources need diversity on three intertwined elements: (1) recruitment, hiring and retention; (2) diverse content; and (3) culture in the newsroom and other departments. You can do well at one or two of those components and still fail at diversity. It is necessary to focus on all three to succeed."

Separately, Will Sutton, Reynolds visiting professor at Grambling State University and a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, published Tuesday "An 11-point plan for adding diversity to business journalism ranks" on the website of the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism.

"The grant that supports my visiting stint ends June 30," Sutton wrote. "When I leave, there won’t be any faculty members teaching business journalism. There’s no Bloomberg terminal. There are two classrooms with Macs and PCs, but only a few with updated software such as Adobe Flash and Final Cut Pro. There’s no Soundslides software on any of the computers. Some computers don’t have updated Word software, or no Word software at all."

Among his suggestions:

"Hire at least 10 students of color for Summer 2012 internships, requiring each to be SABEW members," referring to the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

"Commit to a more competitive Summer 2013 internship process, requiring students of color to . . . demonstrate an interest in business journalism as a part of the application process. Include representatives from UNITY: Journalists of Color and the National Association of Black Journalists. Perhaps coordinate this effort through the Reynolds Center, SABEW and Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication because the university has a proven commitment to business journalism."

White Nationalists Still Writing for MarketWatch

"In the past week, not one but two writers, Robert Weissberg and John Derbyshire, were fired from the conservative magazine National Review for being overtly racist," Matthew Fleischer wrote Friday for FishbowlLA. " . . . The very public sackings turned into a feel good story for most of the non-racist world, and led The Atlantic to boast that 'people who make a living off being racist…are [an] endangered species.'

"But are they? [MarketWatch], owned by Dow Jones, employs not one, but two contributors to the white nationalist site VDare. And neither seems to be in danger of losing their jobs. The first is Peter Brimelow, the editor of VDare who we’ve written about on this site before.

". . .  He's joined by economic consultant Edwin Rubenstein, who also moonlights as an analyst for the National Policy Institute — an organization that aspires to 'elevate the consciousness of whites, ensure our biological and cultural continuity, and protect our civil rights.' "

Race and Media Discussed, From Hip-Hop to Haiti Coverage

"A 12-year-old knocks out Alfred Liggins," the CEO of Radio One, the Rev. Al Sharpton proclaimed at a panel discussion on race and the media Friday at a National Action Network conference in Washington.

The girl had asked why Radio One stations played so much hip-hop, which she compared with drug dealing.

Liggins replied, "If we don't reflect the culture coming out of our communities, we're not doing our job as a media outlet." David Gregory, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," said he grew up listening to hip-hop in Los Angeles in the 1980s, recalling the songs "White Lines" and "Rapper's Delight," and lamented that the hip-hop music to which his 9-year-old is exposed has fewer positive messages.

At another point, Gregory said the challenge for the media is to determine which issues should and should not be about race. For example, "When does President Obama face opposition because he's black?"

Fellow NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell said crises in Haiti or Sudan are too often covered only when familiar white figures are visiting, and said the Trayvon Martin case demonstrated the need for diverse news meetings. "I haven't lived it," she said of the experience of racial profiling. "There aren't enough people at the news meetings who will say, 'This is important.' " She also said there was too much "on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand" reporting. "Let's call it as we see it," Mitchell said.

George Curry, editor of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, said, "There is a racial divide in this country, even where there shouldn't be," citing the response to Hurricane Katrina. "People don't stop being white just because they go into journalism."

Nia-Malika Henderson, who is covering the presidential campaign for the Washington Post, agreed with April D. Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks that black journalists are not asked enough to comment on issues in addition to race, and urged an audience member who wanted to make more of an impact on the media to make use of YouTube.

Sharpton began by asking the group to discuss "how to discuss race without being polarizing." Anna Lopez Buck, interim executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and Dana Milbank, a Washington Post columnist, were also on the panel.

C-SPAN recorded the discussion, which can be viewed online.

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 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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Roger Ailes' comments

If one is seeking an example of why media need diversity in staff and vision, of the insidious deterioration of commitment to accuracy and fairness in today's journalism, and the trivialization of serious issues into sound bites, he or she need look no further than "that boy" Roger Ailes. 

Why Soledad O'Brien is a "Girl"- at least to Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes is showing his age. Back in his day, it was common for whites to call African-American adults "girls" and "boys." It's an old slur, but a slur nonetheless.


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