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HuffPost's GlobalBlack "Is Now Black Voices"

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Huffington Sets Direction for Its Black, Latino Websites

Patch Websites Seek Local Bloggers to Write for Free

Many Used Staged Shots of Obama in Bin Laden Story

Tale of Latino Navy SEAL Goes Viral Without Confirmation

Pitts Revisits Sept. 11, Topic of His Most Popular Column

4 Journalists of Color Win Michigan Journalism Fellowships

. . . Knight-Bagehot Chooses Five Journalists of Color

Women, Minorities Losing Ground on Corporate Boards

Columnist Answers Readers Who Question His Street Cred

Short Takes

With Black Voices, "We aim to build a team of multidimensional, interesting and creative journalists with diverse interests to do what journalists do," a Huffington Post spokesman says.

Huffington Sets Direction for Its Black, Latino Websites

Sheila C. JohnsonThe Huffington Post has scrapped plans to create the new black-oriented GlobalBlack website it conceived with BET co-founder Sheila C. Johnson in favor of reshaping Black Voices, one of the sites Huffington now controls as part of the terms of its acquisition by AOL.

"GlobalBlack is now Black Voices," Huffington Post spokesman Mario Ruiz told Journal-isms.

He also said AOL Latino was due for an expansion. "We are in the process of thinking about how best to expand Latino and will almost certainly be adding talented journalists to the mix," he said.

Johnson was named strategic adviser for multicultural and African-American initiatives for the AOL Huffington Post Media Group in an announcement Tuesday that also disclosed that "Patch, the network of over 800 hyperlocal news and information sites dedicated to comprehensive, community-specific coverage, will launch 'Patch Latino' for communities with large Latino populations."

Derek J. MurphyThe announcement also said that Derek J. Murphy, who was chief operating officer of the GlobalBlack project and before that, Huffington Post's senior vice president, business development, was given the title "general manager, multicultural."

AOL Black Voices scored the third-largest number of unique visitors among black-oriented websites, behind and, in figures compiled for March by the comScore research firm.

It has undergone significant turnover since coming under Huffington Post control. In the latest departure, celebrity columnist Jawn Murray bade readers farewell last month after 6½ years. Culture editor Rebecca Carroll, meanwhile, is making changes in subject matter and presentation.

Journal-isms asked Ruiz these questions via email:

Is the editor-in-chief position still open at Black Voices?

A. Yes. We are assessing several candidates.

Is Black Voices still seeking journalists?

A. Yes, in some areas.

Does the fact that Black Voices and GlobalBlack are now one and the same mean that Black Voices will pursue the strategy and content goals that were outlined for GlobalBlack?

A. We are infusing BlackVoices with much of the mission that we were pursuing when contemplating GlobalBlack. We aim to build a team of multidimensional, interesting and creative journalists with diverse interests to do what journalists do — tell great stories, hold institutions to account, provoke and foster debate.

What role is Tariq Muhammad, formerly director of AOL Black Voices, playing in the new structure?

A. He is the general manager of BlackVoices, serving as the liaison between editorial and the business side.

How is AOL Latino affected by the new structure? Will the content or staffing change? [AOL Latino is also without an editor-in-chief and is being managed day to day by General Manager Miguel Ferrer.]

A. We are in the process of thinking about how best to expand Latino and will almost certainly be adding talented journalists to the mix.

The metrics for Black Voices dropped from 1.714 million to 1.316 million unique viewers from February to March. Is this of concern? Is there a plan to reverse that?

A. We are confident that if [we] continue to focus on finding and telling great stories, informing and entertaining, our audience will grow.

News of the plans for GlobalBlack surfaced in January. It was to be Huffington Post's 27th section, with a Latino section to follow.

Patch Websites Seek Local Bloggers to Write for Free

"A network of free content providers was a boon for Huffington Post, and now Arianna Huffington is hoping it will do the same for the websites through a little feature called 'Local Voices,' Pandora Young wrote Wednesday for FishbowlLA.

"Whatever your take on the unpaid blogger controversy, you have to admire Arianna’s gift for spin:

" 'Today we launch a great new chapter for, the national network of hyperlocal sites currently covering community life in 800 towns across America. It’s a vision that will utilize every possible resource to ensure accurate, relevant, and comprehensive coverage of your town: our ever-expanding network of Patch editors and reporters; aggregation of any news affecting your community; and cross-posting and amplifying the work of local bloggers who are already doing great work, providing them an even more powerful platform for expressing their views.' "

Guild Freelancers, which describes itself as "a growing part of the Pacific Media Workers Guild and The Newspaper Guild-CWA," wrote an open letter headlined, "Dear Patch: We won’t be taking you up on that kind invitation to work free for your large corporation."

The White House caption reads "President Obama praises the men on the mission against Osama bin Laden, honors the victims of 9/11 and their families, and calls on Americans to remember the unity of that tragic day." Some newspaper captions were unclear on whether the photos they used were from Sunday speech announcing the killing of bin Laden or were taken immediately afterward. (Credit: Chuck Kennedy/White House)

Many Used Staged Shots of Obama in Bin Laden Story

"Until Wednesday, the White House debated whether to release photos showing Osama bin Laden’s body. In theory, the photos would be proof to any doubters that the terrorist is dead. But not all photos can be believed — not even when they seem to show the president of the United States making a historic speech," Al Tompkins wrote Wednesday for the Poynter Institute.

"Reuters White House photographer Jason Reed describes how the president made his speech to a single TV camera, then immediately after finishing, he pretended to speak for the still cameras.

"Reed writes:

" 'As President Obama continued his nine-minute address in front of just one main network camera, the photographers were held outside the room by staff and asked to remain completely silent. Once Obama was off the air, we were escorted in front of that teleprompter and the President then re-enacted the walk-out and first 30 seconds of the statement for us.'

"That means the photograph that appeared in many newspapers Monday morning of Obama speaking may have been the staged shot, captured after the president spoke. This type of staging has been going on for decades.

". . . This cutline was transmitted with this Reuters photo: 'U.S. President Barack Obama is pictured after announcing live on television the death of Osama bin Laden, from the East Room of the White House in Washington May 1, 2011.' . . . Thirty other front pages we reviewed used an AP, Reuters or Getty photo, credited appropriately, with a caption that implied or strongly suggested it was an image of the live address.

"The remaining nine front pages don’t say where the photos came from; although several look like the re-enactments, they could be screen captures from the live address. . . . It is time for this kind of re-enactment to end. . . . In the meantime, anyone who uses these recreations should clearly disclose to the reader the circumstances under which they were captured."

Tale of Latino Navy SEAL Goes Viral Without Confirmation

"On May 2, 2011, stories began circulating that a Navy SEAL by the name of Rubén Mejía had participated in the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. The bullets include that he was the son of Mexican immigrants from Guanajuato, MX who now live in Perris, CA," Alejandro De La Cruz, who describes himself as "Follower of great tweeters. Media junkie. Lover of photography. Managing Editor of @turnstylenews," wrote on

His story appeared under the headline, "Hero Or Hoax: The Rubén Mejia Story /A radio station call-in from a father turns into a fabricated story being sent through the newswires and republished by outlets around the world."

De La Cruz then traced the spread of the tale: "The story first appeared through Mexico's El Universal's website through a newswire from Notimex. . . . . It was run on May 3 by La Opinion's news site. . . . The story's origins have since been retraced to an interview that took place between a caller and a radio host on Los Angeles' La Raza, 97.9 radio station. However, no archive of the interview can be located.

". . . some raised skepticism because no other outlets were releasing the names of the operatives that participated in the mission."

Pitts Revisits Sept. 11, Topic of His Most Popular Column

As noted previously in this space, the career of syndicated Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. took off after Sept. 11, 2001, when he wrote a column on the terrorist attacks that drew more than 26,000 e-mails and was posted on the Internet, chain-letter style. "You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard," Pitts wrote, addressing the terrorists. He went on to win a 2004 Pulitzer Prize.

The onetime pop music critic wrote a coda to those sentiments Monday after the killing of Osama bin Laden. It began:

"Dear Sam:

"This will be the last letter I write you. I don’t think they have newspapers where you are.

"I first wrote you nine years ago on that cloudless blue Tuesday morning when 19 men under your command hijacked four airplanes. They crashed two into the towers of the World Trade Center, one into the side of the Pentagon, and the last into a field near Shanksville, Pa. Nearly 3,000 people died that day and I remember being numb with the weight of it all.

"I didn’t even know your name at the time, so I addressed myself to a monster, a beast, a bastard – which, as it turns out, was an accurate salutation. You had bloodied us, I said, as we had seldom been bloodied before.

"But I warned you that you had not defeated us – and I promised you retribution. 'When roused,' I wrote, 'we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.' . . ."

4 Journalists of Color Win Michigan Journalism Fellowships

Vanessa Gezari, left, Phillip Morris, Aisha SultanFour journalists of color — an African American and three Asian Americans — have been chosen for the Knight-Wallace Fellows program at the University of Michigan for the 2011-12 academic year, program director Charles Eisendrath told Journal-isms on Wednesday.

The four are Vanessa Gezari, a freelance writer of Iranian background who plans to study Persian language, literature and history; Phillip Morris, a black journalist who is metro columnist for the Plain Dealer of Cleveland and plans to study the role of social media in creating social change; Andrea Hsu, producer of NPR's "All Things Considered," who plans to examine innovative approaches to health care awareness; and Aisha Sultan, home/family editor and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, whose topic is raising children in a digital society. Sultan is of Pakistani background.

Morris was a finalist for this year's Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

"While on leave from regular duties, Knight-Wallace Fellows pursue customized sabbatical studies and attend twice-weekly seminars at Wallace House, a gift from newsman Mike Wallace and his wife Mary," the program explains in its news release. "The program also includes training in narrative writing, multi-platform journalism and entrepreneurial enterprise. News tours for the KWF group to Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Istanbul are arranged by host news organizations.

"Each Knight-Wallace Fellow receives a stipend of $70,000 for the eight-month academic year. Funding is entirely from endowment gifts by foundations, news organizations and individuals committed to improving the quality of information reaching the public."

Eisendrath said 16 of the 76 applications the program received were from journalists of color. He said he was "very pleased" with the results of outreach the program had made at the journalist of color conventions.

James Thomas, a web editor at the Detroit Free Press, is the sole journalist of color in the current class of 12. For that class, the program received 82 U.S. applications, 10 African American, nine Latino and two Asian," Eisendrath said last year. He did not have a racial breakdown for this year's applicants.

. . . Knight-Bagehot Chooses Five Journalists of Color

The Columbia Journalism School announced the 2011-12 Knight-Bagehot Fellows in economics and business journalism, with five of the 10 Asian American or Hispanic.

"Three are Asian (Lisa Chow, Anora Mahmudova and Hajime Matsuura) and two are Hispanic (Karla Palomo and Andres Schipani)," according to Terri Thompson, director of the program. She said she did not have a racial breakdown of the applicants.

Chow is economics reporter at WNYC Radio in New York, Mahmudova is news web editor for the Financial Times, Matsura is senior columnist in the New York bureau of Japan's the Sankei Shinbun, Palomo is a contributing correspondent and multimedia content producer for Fox News Network and Schipani covers southeastern United States, Latin American and Caribbean issues for the Financial Times.

"Fellows take courses at Columbia's graduate schools of journalism, business, law and international affairs; participate in off-the-record seminars and dinner meetings with corporate executives, economists and academics; and attend briefings and field trips to New York-based media companies and financial institutions," the school says.

Women, Minorities Losing Ground on Corporate Boards

"Collectively, women and minorities lost ground in America’s corporate boardrooms between 2004 and 2010, according to 'Missing Pieces: Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards—2010 Alliance for Board Diversity Census,'" the Alliance for Board Diversity announced on Monday.

"Six years after the first ABD Census, this report shows that white men still overwhelmingly dominate corporate boards with few overall gains for minorities and a significant loss of seats for African-American men.

"In the Fortune 100, between 2004 and 2010, white men increased their presence, adding 32 corporate board seats, while African-American men lost 42, and women — particularly minority women — did not see an appreciable increase in their share of board seats.

"In the Fortune 500, which is included in this year’s report as well, the overwhelming majority of seats were held by white men.

"The study was compiled by the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD), a collaboration of five leading organizations — Catalyst, The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP), and The Prout Group, Inc."

Columnist Answers Readers Who Question His Street Cred

John W. Fountain"When did I lose my ’hood card, my street cred, the right to speak to or on issues concerning black folks? Ain’t I a black man, too?" John W. Fountain asked Thursday in his Chicago Sun-Times column.

". . . I’m no Bill Cosby who has given millions to help us. And yet, I endeavor, like Cos, to speak the truth, in love — from either side of the street, or tracks — believing that no one can save us but us. I will continue doing so as a man with flaws and foibles; as a brother who’s made his share of mistakes, having sometimes stumbled, and as a black man having overcome by hard work, by choices, by faith and by grace."

Fountain explained to Journal-isms Wednesday via email, "The column was partly a response to responses from some readers to recent columns I'd written about our condition overall as African Americans, the loss of values and the hard-work ethic and a call to personal responsibility — a call for old-school mothering and even for trifling brothers to man up.

"My response also speaks to the general angst over the notion that once we as individuals have left the 'hood' or achieved middle class status that we are deemed a pariah and no longer legitimately qualified to speak about the issues and concerns of what many of us so rightly still see and love as 'our' community. It's as if these black critics question our blackness, or our sincerity, perhaps seeing columnists and social commentators as overcritical and insensitive, staring down our noses.

"The truth is, we won't get better unless and until we are able to confront the truth about us then begin the hard work of collectively moving toward solutions. I plan on writing a lot more before I'm done about these kinds of issues and also remedies. So I figured I'd go on record saying why I write about these issues and that in case some didn't know, I'm just as black, just as committed and still holding it down. But the truth is, the overwhelming responses I've gotten (and most of them from African Americans) say, keep speaking the truth, brother. I intend to do just that."

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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