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CNN Chief to Step Aside for "New Thinking"

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blacks, Latinos Want More Diversity Progress

2 Black Journalists Among Post-Dispatch Layoffs

Essence Fires Its White Fashion Director

Most Say They Know Enough About Obama, Romney

2 Foreign Journalists Rescued from Extremists in Syria

Nonprofit News Site to Launch in New Orleans

U.S. Journalism Students in London for Olympics

Robin Roberts to Take Medical Leave for Transplant

Short Takes

Blacks, Latinos Want More Diversity Progress

Jim Walton, CNN Worldwide president, left; retired CNN anchor Bernard Shaw; Jon "Unable to reverse a dramatic ratings decline, CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton announced Friday that he is resigning at the end of the year," as Joe Flint reported Friday for the Los Angeles Times. The move creates an opportunity for the pioneering cable news network — praised in past years for its diversity efforts — to address disappointments of black and Latino journalists.

" 'CNN needs new thinking,' Walton said in an email to the CNN staff," Flint's story continued. " 'That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan, one who will build on our great foundation and will commit to seeing it through.'

"No successor was named for Walton, who has been with Time Warner's CNN for over 30 years and has run it for close to a decade.

"Pressure has been growing on Walton to improve CNN's sagging performance for the past several years. Though CNN Worldwide is very profitable — Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes told shareholders in May that it should make more than $600 million in 2012 — CNN has lost ground in the United States to News Corp.'s Fox News and Comcast's MSNBC."

Bob Butler, left, and Manuel De La RosaBob Butler, vice president/broadcast for the National Association of Black Journalists, told Journal-isms by telephone that Walton "was a friend to NABJ in that he supported our efforts to increase diversity. While he supported our efforts, we have not seen as much progress as we would like when it comes to diversifying prime time and the power positions behind the scenes. . . . I'd like to see CNN make more of an effort to diversify the prime-time lineup. When you look at prime time, the country is now 35 percent people of color. You don't see that reflected in CNN or the other cable networks."

Manuel De La Rosa, vice president/broadcast of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said by email:

"CNN has talked a good game about developing Latinos and covering the issues in our community, but when you look at their product, it's not as impressive. They are not committed to Latinos and coverage of our issues.

"I really believe if they did a better job of recruiting more diverse managers, promoting them to management positions and covering issues that matter to Latinos, they would see better ratings. I just hope they select a new leader who will be committed to coverage of real issues impacting Latinos, hiring people and putting Latinos in high profile places in management and on-air positions, i.e. not the Morning News and CNN Latino and would be willing to sit down and talk to NAHJ leaders about how we can help them achieve those goals.

"CNN is a big supporter of NAHJ and we appreciate that. We want to see them and the other cable news networks improve coverage of Latinos. They can do that by reaching out to us and creating a partnership with the organization."

George Kiriyama, national vice president for broadcast of the Asian American Journalists Association, was more approving.

"AAJA applauds the long career of CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton," Kiriyama told Journal-isms by email. "During his time at CNN and especially in his ten years as president, we have seen Asian Americans at the management level like Parisa Khosravi (Senior Vice President for CNN Worldwide) and certainly on-air talent like Sanjay Gupta, Fareed Zakaria, Pauline Chiou, Asieh Namdar and Kristie Lu Stout to name a few. We are confident CNN will hire a leader who will embrace diversity, by hiring journalists who reflect and represent the global community."

Rhonda LeValdo, president of the Native American Journalists Association, did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

David Bauder of the Associated Press reported that "CNN's U.S. network had its worst-ever ratings for a second quarter, down 40 percent for some of its prime-time shows. The decline was particularly notable in May, when CNN faced tough competition from broadcast networks during a slow news period and its ratings were compared to a year earlier, in the aftermath of the Osama bin Laden killing.

"It hasn't improved appreciably since then, with veteran newsman Wolf Blitzer often losing in the ratings to broadcast novice Al Sharpton on MSNBC. Piers Morgan's show has been a bright spot this month."

Only a few years ago, CNN received some of NABJ's highest honors.

In 2007, NABJ awarded CNN its "Best Practices" award. "NABJ recognized the network's journalists for their exemplary work in covering issues of significance to the black community and the African diaspora and the news organization as a whole for its efforts to increase diversity on air and behind the scenes," CNN said at the time.

Former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw, a black journalist who did his best-known work as a prime-time ancho, was presented NABJ's Lifetime Achievement Award.

The next year, Johnita P. Due, then senior counsel and chair of CNN's Diversity Council, received the Ida B. Wells Award, given to a media executive who has demonstrated a commitment to newsroom diversity and improving coverage of communities of color.

In 2011, Walton named Mark Whitaker, formerly of Newsweek and NBC News, to the newly created position of executive vice president and managing editor. Whitaker became the highest-ranking person of color at the network.

Whitaker was soon given the task of finding African American candidates for prime time, responding to a complaint of the journalist of color organizations. So far, none has materialized.

In 2010, CNN fired Rick Sanchez, one of few Latino anchors on English-language network television, over remarks that were interpreted as anti-Semitic, though Sanchez denied that intent.

". . . there is a sad, circular pattern to the bigotry that Sanchez obviously experienced and was scarred by, embittered to the point that even as a successful cable anchor, it escaped his lips one day and blew up his career," Melinda Henneberger, then editor in chief of the Politics Daily website, wrote at the time.

CNN hired Zoraida Sambolin, a bilingual Latina who co-anchors "Early Start" with John Berman, last year. Her show airs in the early morning, leading into "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."

CNN announced this week that Victor Blackwell, an anchor at WPBF-TV in West Palm Beach, Fla., would join CNN as an Atlanta-based anchor and correspondent, co-hosting "CNN Newsroom" Saturday mornings. He succeeds T.J. Holmes, also an African American, who left for BET, unhappy with his continuing assignment to weekends.

Journal-isms asked Don Lemon, another African American CNN weekend anchor, for his thoughts about what should happen with diversity at the network.

The email was answered instead by a public relations person for CNN.

"Don passed your email on to me.

"Below is a statement from Johnita Due, Assistant General Counsel & Chief Diversity Advisor, CNN Worldwide:

" 'Jim's commitment to diversity will be part of his lasting legacy at CNN. It's due to his leadership that many of our efforts have been institutionalized. We look forward to building on those efforts.' "

Johnny Andrews, a photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is on the layoff

2 Black Journalists Among Post-Dispatch Layoffs

Editor Gilbert Bailón, left, and reporter Marlon A. WalkerTwo black journalists were among 23 employees laid off Friday at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but the Newspaper Guild said Editor Gilbert Bailón could have saved their jobs by designating them "exempt."

The two are reporter Marlon A. Walker, 31, who had just started a new beat, and photographer Johnny Andrews, 38, a Post-Dispatch staffer for 4½ years. Thirteen people in the newsroom were laid off: four editors, three reporters, three copy editors, a photographer, a web editor and the editorial cartoonist were laid off, according to a Storify post.

"We are a Guild shop so they could be 'saved' if someone with more seniority steps up to leave in the next two weeks," Bailón told Journal-isms by email.

Shannon Duffy, business representative of the United Media Guild, said that the layoffs were imposed according to seniority but that the Post-Dispatch has the option of designating certain employees exempt from layoffs. "They don't have to give us a reason," Duffy said by telephone.

Under an agreement with the Guild, the paper can exempt 20 people in the newsroom: 12 reporters, three copy editors, three photographers and two artists, he said.

One exemption was applied to a recently hired reporter covering the state capital, a beat that was deemed difficult to fill, Duffy said.

Bailón, a former president of the American Society of News Editors as well as the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, moved from editorial page editor to editor in May. He did not respond to an email question about why he did not protect the two black journalists.

Lee Enterprises, owner of the Post-Dispatch, "has eliminated 234 people at the Post-Dispatch since 2008, and 235 at the Suburban Journals in that same span of time," Paul Friswold wrote Friday for the alternative Riverfront Times. "That's 469 people who lost their jobs, or roughly one person per $2,452 of bonus cash given to Lee Enterprises' CEO Mary Junck this year alone."

With the layoffs, Duffy said, "the newsroom just kept getting whiter and whiter." The 2012 ASNE diversity survey shows the Post-Dispatch with 14 percent journalists of color, including 3.5 percent Asian American journalists, 7.6 percent black journalists and 2.9 percent Hispanics.

In January, fellow photographer Corey Woodruff dedicated a blog posting to Andrews and his work.

"Ladies and gents, I present to you an endangered species: a staff newspaper photographer," Woodruff wrote. "The ridiculously talented Mr. Andrews shoots for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and he's not a freelancer. He is part of the dying breed of staff shooters; breathing rarefied air alongside other survivors of the rampant downsizing plaguing the industry."

The Riverfront Times said Andrews was "known best in the St. Louis music community for his invaluable LISTEN video series ." The Post-Dispatch series showcases a range of musical talent in the St. Louis area.

Andrews' departure would leave one black photographer at the paper, Duffy said.

Walker came to the Post-Dispatch in 2010 after having worked at the Telegraph in Macon, Ga., at the Associated Press and at the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. This month, he began covering neighboring Illinois for the St. Louis paper.

Essence Fires Its White Fashion Director

Ellianna Placas, the white fashion director of Essence magazine whose hiring in 2010 sparked controversy over its appropriateness at a black women's magazine, has been let go, Essence spokeswoman Sheila Harris confirmed on Thursday.

"Sources told us her departure had less to do with race and more to do with her butting heads with editor-in-chief Constance White," the New York Post's Page Six reported late Wednesday. " 'They had different visions for fashion coverage,' said one. An Essence spokesperson confirmed to Page Six that Placas has left the company. Placas wasn't available for comment last night, and a search for her replacement is ongoing."

In April, Essence and Michael Bullerdick, its white male managing editor — whom the leading magazine for black women has emphasized had a production, not an editorial role — parted ways after right-wing material on his Facebook page was brought to the editors' attention. His hiring in July 2011 created similar controversy.

Most Say They Know Enough About Obama, Romney

"With more than three months to go before Election Day, most voters already feel that there's little left to learn about the presidential candidates," the Pew Center for the People & the Press reported on Tuesday.

"When it comes to Barack Obama, 90% say they already pretty much know what they need to know about him; just 8% say they need to learn more. A substantial majority (69%) also says they already mostly know what they need to know about Mitt Romney. Only about a quarter (28%) say they need to learn more to get a clear impression of Romney. Combining these two questions, fully two-thirds of voters say they already know as much as they need to about both presidential candidates.

"When it comes to specific details of Romney's background and experience, 41% of voters say they would like to learn more about Romney's record as governor, 36% would like to learn more about his tax returns, while 35% want to know more about his record as chief executive of Bain Capital. Far fewer want to hear more about Romney's wealth (21%), his family and upbringing (19%) or his religious beliefs (16%)."

Members of the Free Syrian Army at a safehouse on northern Lebanon's border with

2 Foreign Journalists Rescued from Extremists in Syria

"Two foreign journalists captured by Islamic extremists in Syria and held for a week were rescued by Syrian opposition fighters, one of them said on Friday," Rod Nordland reported Friday for the New York Times.

"A Dutch freelance photographer, Jeroen Oerlemans, contacted by telephone in Turkey, described a harrowing ordeal during which he and his captured colleague, a British photographer, John Cantlie, were held at a camp in Syria by a group of several dozen foreign jihadists, who kept them hooded and blindfolded and repeatedly threatened to kill them.

"Mr. Oerlemans said their captors apparently included no Syrian fighters, but instead jihadists from Bangladesh, Britain, Chechnya and Pakistan. The photographers were seized on July 19 shortly after they entered Syria at Bab al-Hawa, a border crossing with Turkey that has been reported under control of a jihadi group."

Nonprofit News Site to Launch in New Orleans

"The New Orleans media market is about to get more crowded," Michaelle Bond wrote Friday for American Journalism Review.

"Two months after the city's daily paper, the Times-Picayune, announced it would cut print publication to three days a week and focus on its digital product, it appears that residents will soon have a couple of new avenues to get their news.

"Today, the University of New Orleans and its NPR affiliate, WWNO-FM, announced that they will launch as a nonprofit news site by the end of the year. Other news organizations will be welcome to use the site's online, mobile and radio content for free.

". . . The launch of is not a direct response to the changes at the Times-Picayune, says Adam Norris, director of public relations at the University of New Orleans. It's a response to a thirst in the community for more high quality journalism – a thirst that has been evident to WWNO for years, he says.

". . . Earlier this week, the Advocate, the daily paper in Baton Rouge, announced that it will print a New Orleans edition, starting when the Times-Picayune stops daily printing in early October. 'This has to have significant news in it,' Richard Manship, president and CEO of Advocate owner Capital City Press, told his paper. 'This is not just an attempt to sell more papers. We will be trying to cover the news in New Orleans.' "

Lisa Blanco, left, and Maritsa Granillo receive their press credentials at the L

U.S. Journalism Students in London for Olympics

"July 27 marks the opening ceremonies, and official launch, of the 2012 Olympic games in London, which runs until August 12," Marisa Treviño wrote Thursday for her Latina Lista site.

"On hand to witness the festivities, soak up the international cultures, and watch the athletes in action are two young Latinas from Phoenix, Arizona for whom this trip of a lifetime is much more than just pleasure — it's school work.

"Maritsa Granillo and Lisa Blanco graduated in May from Arizona State University's (ASU) broadcast journalism track in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Their accomplishments qualified them to be part of the university's first-ever student journalists delegation covering the three-week international sporting event.

" 'We're always looking for great real-life experiences to not only help our students but help them produce great journalism content for Arizona and the region,' Dean Christopher Callahan, founding dean of the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication department, said about the reason for sending students to the Olympics.

"It was also an increase interest in sports journalism by his students and having Greg Boeck, a former sports writer for USA Today, who covered nine Olympics, on his faculty that Dean Callahan said made the decision easy that it was a worthwhile pursuit by the university on behalf of its students. . . ."

Robin Roberts to Take Medical Leave for Transplant

" 'Good Morning America' anchor Robin Roberts is planning to take a medical leave around the end of August for her bone marrow transplant," the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

"But during her absence from the ABC morning show, she'll be getting a little help from her friends, she said Thursday.

"Roberts listed Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric among her 'wonderful, wonderful friends at ABC News' who will be subbing for her. . . .

"Roberts announced last month that she has MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease once known as prelukemia."

Short Takes

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CNN Chief to Step Aside for "New Thinking"

Cross-posting from QuietThoughtsII I am of the opinion that CNN (most news outlets) don't quite grasp how to present their offerings in a manner that attracts minority viewers. Try this sometime, turn your back to the TV or listen from another room. All the talking heads sound the same, that is they sound like white folks covering the same stories everyone else is covering regardless of the race of the talking head. (By the time CNN stopped 24/7 coverage of the shooting in Co. I was ready to get a gun and start shooting.)  Bottom line, minorities in the news game have been convinced the only way to get ahead is, sound and act white. I guess that's to be expected, its the same thing that happens everyday in corporate America.


They should take a page out of MSNBC's playbook. They do it right! That's why I switched from CNN to MSNBC a while back when Rev. Sharpton and Melissa Harris Perry got their own shows.

Diversity & blacks weekend work

I have always felt that Don and Fredricka should be used in other spots besides weekend work and late night.  It is a stigma from another era these are great reporters and should have been featured at the Conventions. 

The criticisms that are in the community is that Wolf and the other are too opinioninated when reporting the news.  A great example was when they got excerpt from the President's speech and King and the rest were deciphering it before he even spoke and we just turned away from the channel.  I always loved CNN but now there is more diversity on MSNBC and a mix , intergenerational.  You need to draw a wide range of audiences look at the Cycle very talented young people that can get the perspective of the future generation (college students/recent grads).


Has beens Gergen etc. people are turned off report the news leave it to the audience to form their opinion.


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