Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Grambling Reverses on Student Paper

Send by email
Sunday, January 28, 2007

School Drops Requirement for Editing by Faculty

After a torrent of criticism from media organizations, Grambling State University Monday dropped its requirement that the student newspaper submit all its stories to a faculty adviser for editing, the newspaper's managing editor told Journal-isms.



The requirement was called unconstitutional by a national organization of campus newspaper advisers, and ill-advised at best by other groups.

"It was a long week, finally drawing to an end," DeEric Henry, managing editor of the Gramblinite, said. "I'm glad we acted as quickly as we did. If we hadn't stood up, we would still be in that situation."

In a 15-minute meeting, Henry said, Robert M. Dixon, the provost and vice president for academic affairs, told the two ranking student editors he had been led to believe that the students had approved of the prior review. "The provost informed us he was under the impression that Gramblinite editors and the department head came up with the measures together. We informed him that wasn't the case," Henry said.

"He had a different tone today," Henry continued, speaking of the provost. Dixon told the student editors to revise the "Measures to improve the Gramblinite" sent to him by Anita Fleming-Rife, head of the Department of Mass Communication, "and send him a copy and he will approve it," according to Henry.

As reported earlier, Dixon had sent out a memorandum Jan. 17 suspending the newspaper for the rest of January "or until administrators are content with greater 'quality assurance' of the paper," as the News-Star in Monroe, La., put it. It followed complaints about a plagiarized story that the university said was not met with strong enough sanctions.

Editors defied the order and published on Jan. 18.

The ban was lifted on Thursday, but the university imposed a requirement that all of the Gramblinite's copy be edited by a faculty adviser and outlined 14 other steps to be taken, such as requiring all editors of the weekly paper to take a style, grammar, spelling and punctuation test before assuming their duties.

The paper did not publish as scheduled on Friday, awaiting editing by the faculty adviser, editor Darryl Smith said.

The most recent support for the students included a statement from faculty delegates at the Southeast Journalism Conference, meeting Saturday in Birmingham, Ala., and an editorial Saturday in the Shreveport (La.) Times.

"Student editor Darryl Smith rightfully frets that the new system amounts to prior review by faculty which could lead to stories being pulled from the newspaper in an effort to control content," the editorial said. "In practice, both staffers and gun-shy faculty could feel pressure to water-down or shade stories.

"The perception of administration control over content could do more damage to credibility than pages of typos and misspelled names."

And from another historically black university, Pamela Foster wrote (second item) Saturday on Black College Wire: "I encourage my colleague Wanda Peters at Grambling State University to do as I did at Tennessee State University when my former department head, with the backing of the universityâ??s legal adviser, demanded that I read all student newspaper and yearbook copy before publication. I said no."

Grambling spokesman Ralph Wilson did not return messages Monday night, but on Monday morning, before the meeting with the provost, he said the students had agreed to the prior review and other conditions and had "moved on."

Henry said a special four-page issue of the paper, originally scheduled for Friday, was at the printers Monday night for distribution on Tuesday.

MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.

Fox Admits It Was Wrong to Repeat Obama Story

A Fox News executive acknowledged that network commentators were wrong to have cited a since-discredited report raising questions about whether Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., had been schooled in Islamic radicalism when he was 6 years old, the New York Times reported on Monday.


"The hosts violated one of our general rules, which is know what you are talking about," John Moody, a senior vice president at Fox News, said in an interview with the Times' David D. Kirkpatrick. "They reported information from a publication whose accuracy we didn't know."

"Insight, a magazine owned by the Washington Times, cited unnamed sources in saying that young Barack attended a madrassah, or Muslim religious school, in Indonesia. In his 1995 autobiography, Obama said his Indonesian stepfather had sent him to a 'predominantly Muslim school' in Jakarta, after two years in a Catholic school — but Insight goes further in saying it was a madrassah and that Obama was raised as a Muslim," as Howard Kurtz reported in the Washington Post.

"Fox News picked up the Insight charge on two of its programs, playing up an angle involving Hillary Clinton. The magazine, citing only unnamed sources, said that researchers 'connected' to the New York senator were allegedly spreading the information about her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"The New York Post, which, like Fox, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, also picked up the article, with the headline: ' "OSAMA" MUD FLIES AT OBAMA,'" Kurtz wrote.

The original story is still on the Insight magazine Web site. The magazine denounced the Kurtz piece.

Others in the news media condemned Fox News and Insight magazine over the weekend, including editorial writers at the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune, and Jonathan Alter, writing in Newsweek magazine.

However, David Bauder of the Associated Press, in a story headlined, "Obama gets taste of campaign coverage," pessimistically quoted Tom Rosenstiel, a former political reporter for the Los Angeles Times and now director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. "I honestly think that no one is going to be chastened by anything this year," Rosensteil said.

Meanwhile, columnists of color debated such questions as Obama's ties to the black community and the presidential prospects of Democrats Clinton and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.

NABJ Wants Diversity on Campaign Press Bus

"The National Association of Black Journalists is calling on all major news organizations — print, broadcast and online — to assure that the diversity of America is reflected in their coverage teams" for the presidential campaign, the organization said Monday.

"Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gov. Bill Richardson are examples of the diversity as they prove that blacks, women and Latinos are willing, able and ready to seek the highest office in the land.

"Their candidacies will have a seismic impact on American politics, offering a remarkable journalistic opportunity to examine not only the usual discussion of domestic and foreign policy issues, but also the country's ongoing debate over race relations and gender equality.

The organization said it stood ready "to assist outlets as they search for the talent necessary to carry out these ideals."

MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.



Bush Defends Speech's Omission of Katrina

President Bush defended his omission of Hurricane Katrina in his State of the Union message last week, telling Juan Williams of National Public Radio on Monday that "I gave a speech I thought was necessary to give." Bush noted he had talked about Katrina elsewhere and sent billions of dollars to the area. "And the money is there and the money is available," he said.

"Our response to the Katrina recovery has been very robust."

Williams, senior correspondent for NPR, conducted Bush's first broadcast interview since the Jan. 23 speech. The interview was dominated by questions about the war in Iraq and his administration's stance toward Iran.

However, the omission of the ongoing efforts to rebuild "has incensed people in hard-hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region, and was criticized over the weekend by Louisiana's Republican Sen. David Vitter," NPR said.

And also on Monday, the Associated Press reported, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin "told a U.S. Senate committee he does not see the will to fix his hurricane-battered city when compared with the billions of dollars spent on the war in Iraq, and he suggested racism is part of the explanation."

"'I think it's more class than anything, but there's racial issues associated with it also,' Nagin said.

"Seventeen months after Hurricane Katrina struck, Nagin also asked for Congress to change the laws and regulations to speed up the flow of federal aid."

Several members of Congress, including Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., also criticized the administration during a U.S. Senate field hearing in New Orleans, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported.

Katrina was also raised in some of the commentary by columnists of color on Bush's speech:

Wilbert A. Tatum, New York Amsterdam News: Poor George, poor George, poor George

MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.

Columnists Reflect on Historic Super Bowl Face-off

For columnists, the historic face-off between two African American coaches at the Super Bowl next week has been cause for celebration, taking stock and recalling those who came before.

On, Gene Wojciechowski wrote about "the awkward history" between Chicago Bears founder George S. Halas and Fritz Pollard, the first black man to play and coach in the NFL. He said, "More than 20 years after each man died, their legacies remain connected."

Other columnists tracked down pioneers. In the Boston Globe, Derrick Z. Jackson recalled "the first and only time African-American coaches competed for a professional title until Tony Dungy's Indianapolis Colts and Lovie Smith's Chicago Bears earned the right" this month. His reference was to the 1975 NBA matchup between Al Attles, head coach of the Golden State Warriors, and K.C. Jones's Washington Bullets.

In the Austin American-Statesman, Kirk Bohls, not a columnist of color, argued Sunday that the "NFL's color barrier needs to extend to owners, not just coaches."

Columnists Monroe Anderson in the Chicago Sun-Times and Brian Lewis in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader linked the milestone to the short documentary "A Girl Like Me" available on the Internet, in which high school student Kiri Davis found that black children still preferred white dolls to black ones.

And Mary Mitchell, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, noted that "Hard work helped, but agitation got blacks top coaching jobs."

[CBS announced Tuesday that "Early Show" co-anchor Hannah Storm traveled to Chicago to interview Smith for its Thursday broadcast. "Coach Smith will discuss his friendship with Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy and their shared legacy of being the first African-American coaches to lead their teams to the Super Bowl. Smith tells Storm, 'Itâ??s good for young black men and other black coaches coming through the ranks to see thereâ??s no limit to what you can do,'" a news release says.]

MESSAGE BOARDS: Feel free to post a comment on this subject and view those from others.

Short Takes

  • "Santa Rosa station KFTY-TV, Channel 50, abruptly ceased almost all of its news programming Friday, laying off the 13 employees involved in producing its two nightly newscasts," Jeremy Hay wrote Saturday in the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.
  • Syndicated Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. announced in his column Friday that he will devote the next year to discussing with readers crises among African American children involving violence, poverty, fatherlessness, miseducation and self-esteem. "From today, I want to do more than bemoan that. I want to solve it. Which means talking not just about what's wrong, but about what's right, what's being done, What Works," he said.
  • Ebony's February issue "is among the first to reflect a new direction and urgency at Ebony as Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Co. seeks to make the monthly and its weekly sister publication, Jet, more relevant," Mary Ellen Podmolik wrote Sunday in the Chicago Tribune. Syndicated columnist and author Harriette Cole this month was named Ebony's creative director. "Black America is ready for a new Jet, a new Ebony," said Bryan Monroe, editorial director of the two magazines.
  • Barry Cooper, who started and ran and launched the Orlando Sentinel's online operation, has been named the first online managing editor of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, editor Denis Finley announced Friday. Most recently, Cooper was general manager for 122, a proposed commuter newspaper in Phoenix.
  • In the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, Kate Wiltrout began a two-part series Sunday descibed thus: "In faraway desert villages and city slums, U.S. military men and women stationed in the Horn of Africa are healing children, digging water wells and building schools. It's part of a unique approach by a Navy-led task force to fight terrorism in a region where Islamic extremists are trying to gain a foothold." The series promised to discuss what the United States is doing and what it hopes to accomplish.
  • The December death in the Oregon backcountry of CNET editor James Kim might be related to Kim's Asian background, Asian Week columnist Emil Guillermo wrote on Friday. Guillermo cited a passage in the sheriff's report quoting Kim saying he thought a gas-station attendant gave "strange directions" and that the man was acting as though he didn't understand what Kim was asking. "From my experience, an Asian American man seeking directions in the burly backwoods of Oregon is a communications breakdown waiting to happen," the columnist wrote.
  • "It was St. Louis' turn Saturday to say farewell to Gerald Michael Boyd, who started out as a copy boy and grew up to run one of the world's most renowned newspapers," Aisha Sultan wrote Sunday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, describing a memorial service Saturday for the former managing editor of the New York Times. Boyd died at age 56 in November.
  • A Dec. 26 front-page story in the New York Times reporting that black women have trouble finding nannies originated with a suggestion from Dana Canedy, an African American national desk editor. Reporter Jodi Kantor said this month on National Public Radio's "News & Notes" that "she and I were having a mom-to-mom chat one day, and she told me that a lot of her black friends have trouble finding nannies, and I cover kids for the national desk and the story bulb in my head lit up. And so I started researching . . . and it turned out to be very true." Canedy agreed on Monday, telling Journal-isms, "I actually did not have trouble finding a nanny, as a clerk who works for us on the national desk suggested her mother, a wonderful woman who had been a nanny for one of our reporters for years. I hired her and she is terrific, but I was also aware that this problem exists, which is why I brought it up to Jodi."
  • Mayor Ken Corley of Brazoria, Texas, is right to be offended by the well-known racial epithet, but wrong to propose a city ordinance that would make using it equal to disturbing the peace and punishable by a fine of up to $500, columnist Cary Clack wrote Thursday in the San Antonio Express-News. "It's not through laws, which can go further than intended, that slurs and profanities will be muted. It's education, common sense and people demanding civility and respect that accomplishes that goal," Clack wrote.

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.

Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince.

To be notified of new columns, contact and tell us who you are.

About Richard Prince

View previous columns.



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.