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Haiti: Graphic Images, Inflammatory Language

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Some See Victims' Humanity Called Into Question

Yves Colon to Help Rebuild Haitian Media

CNN's Gupta Leaves No Doubt He's a Doctor First

Media Donate Funds, Fundraising Time to Haiti

King Complained, "Something Wrong With That Press!"

Jeanne Mariani-Belding Leaving Honolulu Paper

148 Veterans of Miami News Hold Their First Reunion

Obama Said to Be Out to Change Media Culture

Reid Flap Shows Some Subjects Still Taboo

Carlos Hernandez Gomez, Chicago Reporter, Dies at 36

Sunday's New York Times lead photo is questioned. "So was the kid looting?"

Some See Victims' Humanity Called Into Question

"The images coming out of Haiti are more graphic than those from recent natural disasters, and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's not clear if this reflects the magnitude and proximity of the disaster, or some change in the willingness of newspapers and other media to accurately present the full horror of the earthquake that devastated the desperately poor nation on Tuesday afternoon," Philip Kennicott wrote Saturday in the Washington Post.

Writing on, Natalie Hopkinson noticed something different, too:

"An arresting Damon Winter photo of a Haitian child graces the cover of the Sunday New York Times," she wrote. "A boy of about 10 wearing a bright red, oversized polo shirt, is caught mid-stride by the camera, dashing through the streets of Port-au-Prince, eyes gazing purposely ahead, gripping a white plastic bag.

"The caption gives a seemingly 'objective' recitation of the facts. 'Haitians fled gunshots that rang out in downtown Port-au-Prince Saturday. Tons of relief supplies had arrived for delivery.' It is up to the viewer to connect the dots, and connect them to another front-page article below the fold: 'Looting Flares Where Order Breaks Down.'

"So was the kid looting?

"Nearly five years ago, when you could see photo captions of white Hurricane Katrina survivors side-by-side with black survivors, the racial double standard in the news media covering a catastrophic tragedy were obvious. Hungry, desperate white survivors were 'finding food' while hungry, desperate black survivors were 'looting' for food. [The word choices came from different news services, using different standards, the news agencies explained at the time.]

"Since the earthquake hit Haiti, I don't know what is more troubling: That so many observers, including political strategist and New Orleans native Donna Brazile, have been drawing facile parallels between the two cities. Or that so many of those comparisons are turning out to be true."

Blogging on the guide to race relations, Nadra Kareem added on Sunday:.

"As I'm sure you know by now, televangelist Pat Robertson blamed the earthquake on Haiti making a pact with the devil to win its liberation from the French. Rush Limbaugh weighed in on the controversy as well, arguing that President Obama was pleased that the earthquake occurred because it gave him the opportunity to give millions in aid to a former slave colony, a move that would enable him to boost his credibility with light-skinned and dark-skinned blacks."

She added, "I nearly winced when I read David Brooks' column 'The Underlying Tragedy,' about why Haiti remains an impoverished nation. Brooks make some great points in the piece," which ran on the op-ed page of the New York Times, "mainly that the Western approach to reducing poverty has to change. Throwing money at poor countries isn't the way to usher in economic progress for these nations, he argues. Before long, however, he turns from making an economic argument to an argument attacking Haiti for essentially being what he considers to be culturally retarded.

"'There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile,' Brooks says of Haiti.

"Really, so voodoo's to blame?"

Kennicott concluded, "There are many more important things that must be wrung out of this misery, but the camera is recording something elemental that will affect everything to do with the future of this troubled country. It is asking if these are people, like us. It is asking if we believe they are human."

Yves Colon to Help Rebuild Haitian Media

Yves Colon"Yves Colon, a Haitian-born journalism lecturer at the University of Miami, took this coming semester off work so he can go back to Haiti and help rebuild the country's media sector with Internews, a not-for-profit organization. He spent the three years to 2006 working with 40 community radio stations there, building some up from scratch and strengthening others," the Toronto Globe and Mail reported on Monday.

Referring to Haitian novelist Edwidge Danticat, Colon, formerly a reporter at the Miami Herald, wrote Sunday on his Facebook page:

"My sisters flew down yesterday with supplies to mom, who is housing all her neighbors who feel her courtyard with a locked gate is the only safe place to sleep at night. No one wants to sleep inside their unstable, cracked walled home, including my mother and a 98-year-old sister in law she's caring for. We have no news from Jacmel, where we come from, and which is cut off from the capital and from the help that's slow to arrive. Edwidge speaks for all of us."

He urged Journal-isms to publicize his message. "Anything to get word out and get people moving. . . . worried sick right now about Haiti."

CNN's Gupta Leaves No Doubt He's a Doctor First

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, left, with Haitian-American Dr. David J. Malebranche. "Dr. Sanjay Gupta, once in line to be the nation's Surgeon General, is instead on the front lines of helping the wounded in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti," Chris Ariens wrote Friday for Mediabistro. "Gupta, a neurosurgeon by trade, was one of the first CNN personnel on the ground in Haiti, and as we found out in an interview this afternoon, he's a doctor first.

"This was best evidenced yesterday when he treated a 15-day old baby suffering from a head wound, whose mother died in the earthquake; a clip that was played several times on CNN Thursday."

In an interview published Sunday by the Baltimore Sun, David Zurawik asked Gupta, "Is there ever any confusion for you about the two roles overlapping?"

Gupta replied, "No, there's no confusion in my mind. The first time this happened to me was when I was in Iraq, and I was surprised that it was an issue at all — that people had raised this as a concern. So, I know it is a concern for some people — I am not naive to that. But in my own mind, I'm pretty clear on this: If people need my help — and I am someone who happens to be trained in a specific area of medicine [neurosurgery] —if they ask me, then I'm certainly going to help them."

CNN posted this update Monday morning about another case: "CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on board the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson assisting in the care of a 12-year-old girl with a serious head injury. The military sought Gupta's help, and he was taken to the ship by helicopter. CNN has been told that the girl's condition is stable."

Media Donate Funds, Fundraising Time to Haiti

Ted Turner, founder of CNN, was likely the first media figure to pledge funds to Haiti once the magnitude of the quake became known, but others soon followed.

"We are committing one million dollars today to address the most urgent humanitarian and re-construction needs in Haiti," Turner announced on Thursday, the morning after the quake. The "we" is the United Nations Foundation, a public charity created in 1998 with a $1 billion gift from Turner to support U.N. causes and activities, as a news release noted.

Comcast Corp. said later Thursday it was providing more than $1 million in cash and in-kind support for disaster relief to victims of the earthquake, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.

"Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks is organizing 'Hope for Haiti,' a global, commercial-free telethon that will be aired across all of the major networks, as well as some cable channels," the Los Angeles Business Journal reported.

"The two-hour telethon will take place on January 22 at 8:00 p.m. eastern, and will be broadcast from both Los Angeles, where George Clooney will be hosting, and New York, where Wyclef Jean will be hosting. The telethon will also feature reports from Haiti from CNN's Anderson Cooper."

The Associated Press reported Friday that, "Media company E.W. Scripps Co. said Friday it is holding live telethons at all nine of its ABC and NBC stations to raise aid for victims of the Haiti earthquake."

"Univision Communications is partnering with the American Red Cross¬†to help support relief fundraising, using its radio, TV, and online outlets to reach Hispanics who want to contribute," RadioInk reported. Telemundo launched "Juntos por Haiti," a multiplatform campaign to promote relief efforts, and SBS radio was holding a 12-hour radiothon, promoted by sister station Mega TV, Veronica Villafa?±e's Media Moves site reported.

CBS agreed to carry four boxes of Red Cross blood to Haiti, the Red Cross said. The network was asked to do so by a courier company that CBS sought to help it determine the best way to get CBS staff and equipment into Port au Prince.

At a taping of the all-star BET Honors show in Washington on Saturday, CEO Debra Lee said BET had planned to announce periodic $30,000 awards to a different organization that "dedicated itself to working toward a brighter future . . . for our people." With the Haiti tragedy, the first $30,000 grant will now go toward a group focused on "immediate emergency relief in Haiti," she said. Lee said BET had raised $13 million for Hurricane Katrina relief and that the BET networks were "committed to doing even more for Haiti."

King Complained, "Something Wrong With That Press!"

The civil rights movement used television images of Southern sheriffs siccing dogs on demonstrators to further its cause and found other ways to enlist the help of the news media, but on Monday, Martin Luther King Day, Jim Naureckas pointed out that King also called out the media as inconsistent.

"Sam Husseini . . . recalls a great media quote from one of Martin Luther King's most powerful sermons, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church (4/30/67)," Naureckas wrote on his Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting site:

"Been a lot of applauding over the last few years. They applauded our total movement; they've applauded me. America and most of its newspapers applauded me in Montgomery. And I stood before thousands of Negroes getting ready to riot when my home was bombed and said, 'We can't do it this way.'

"They applauded us in the sit-in movement — we nonviolently decided to sit in at lunch counters. They applauded us on the Freedom Rides when we accepted blows without retaliation. They praised us in Albany and Birmingham and Selma, Ala.

"Oh, the press was so noble in its applause, and so noble in its praise when I was saying, 'Be nonviolent toward Bull Connor'; when I was saying, 'Be nonviolent toward [Selma, Ala. segregationist sheriff] Jim Clark.'

"There's something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, 'Be nonviolent toward Jim Clark,' but will curse and damn you when you say, 'Be nonviolent toward little brown Vietnamese children.' There's something wrong with that press!' "

Jeanne Mariani-Belding Leaving Honolulu Paper

Jeanne Mariani-Belding"Jeanne Mariani-Belding will be leaving The Honolulu Advertiser later this month to pursue new career opportunities offered to her locally and on the Mainland," the Advertiser reported last week.

"Mariani-Belding has led The Advertiser's editorial pages since October 2004. She has held a number of national diversity and journalism offices, including as national president of AAJA, the Asian American Journalists Association."

Mariani-Belding told Journal-isms on Monday, "I feel fortunate in that I have a couple of wonderful opportunities to choose from. I have actually made a decision, and should be able to share more details later this week. I'm thrilled and excited to start something new! I feel so blessed to have worked with so many talented journalists in my career, and I hope as the industry navigates these challenges that diversity — and the commitment to diversity — will be as strong as ever."

The Advertiser noted that, "Mariani-Belding, born and raised in Hawaii, came to The Advertiser from the San Jose Mercury News, where she was deputy editor of the editorial and commentary pages. She has also worked previously at the Los Angeles Daily News, and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

"Her last day at The Advertiser is Jan. 22."


From left, Natalie Kleinberg, wife of Howard Kleinberg, the last editor of the Miami News; Ricardo Martinez Ortega, political cartoonist for El Mundo in Madrid; his wife, Hazel Hazlett Martinez, a court interpreter in Madrid, and Mel Frishman, who was news editor at the Miami News, and is now retired. Frishman started at the paper in 1959, when he was 17. (Photo credit: Wynne Frishman)

148 Veterans of Miami News Hold Their First Reunion

"A lot" of Latino journalists worked at the old Miami News, according to Mary Martin, who is not Latino but used to be a reporter at the Cox-owned afternoon paper. Why? "Because it is Miami," she said. The city attracts Cuban-Americans, especially young people who attended such schools as the University of Miami and wanted to stay in the area.

A few of those journalists showed up at a reunion of the News staff on Saturday: Luisa Yanez, now a reporter at the Herald; Manuel Mendoza, who had gone on to the Dallas Morning News and is now an independent filmmaker; Ana Veciana-Suarez, a Herald columnist who was married to the late Leo Suarez, the News sports editor, and Hazel and Ricardo Martinez, who arrived from Madrid.

It was the first reunion of the News staff — not 10 years, not 20, but 21 years after it folded. "Nothing about the paper was usual," Mel Frishman, who rose from composing room to news editor, among other jobs, told Journal-isms.

Hazel Martinez was a librarian at the News, which folded on Dec. 31, 1988, and Ricardo Martinez was a graphic artist. Today, in Madrid, Ricardo is a well-known cartoonist for El Mundo, and Hazel works part time as a court interpreter.

Akua Olu Clark, a clerk in the sports department who now works for Citicorp in New Jersey, was the only African American present, the organizers told Journal-isms, although Dorothy Gaiter, who co-wrote the wine column in the Wall Street Journal until her retirement last month, and Carl Juste, the Miami Herald photographer now on assignment in Haiti, are also African American News veterans.

" 'We were always the underdog to the mighty Herald, and we played the role to perfection,' says Pedro Gomez, an ESPN bureau reporter, said in an advance story in the Herald by Richard Dymond of the Bradenton (Fla.) Herald.

" 'We consistently broke stories and, if you really look at the results, I would say The Herald was at its best when The News was around, because The Herald had to work hard and not get beat by the little stepchild that we were,'' Gomez adds."

Two of those who attended were in their 90s, Martin said, people "who don't get out a lot anymore. People talked a lot. They had to catch up on 20 years of news about one another." They watched the 1992 documentary, "The Last Days of the Miami News."

Mendoza has co-directed a documentary, "Stop the Presses: The American Newspaper in Peril," and naturally, the subject of newspapers' future was on many minds. "It was bittersweet," Martin said of the reunion. "I'm freelance now. Lots of people are in very tenuous situations or being forced out. There was this undercurrent. So many of us were laid off and worrying that our papers are going to fold. We worked real hard to do the best we could," and, she said, speaking of the craft she practiced, "it's almost hard to do this any more."

Obama Said to Be Out to Change Media Culture

In the New Yorker magazine this week, " Ken Auletta examines the Obama Administration’s fraught relationship with the media," the magazine says in a release. "The President’s chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau, tells Auletta that the President is on a mission 'not just to change politics in Washington but to change the culture of Washington, and the media is part of it.' Auletta draws on dozens of conversations with Administration officials and Washington reporters to illustrate how this mission has not been entirely successful, as both the President and the press struggle to deal with the new media landscape."

"Rahm Emanuel, the White House’s chief of staff, sees press coverage as 'a political strategy,' Baker says," referring to Peter Baker of the New York Times.  " ''He’s as relentless in working reporters as he is in working congressmen. He cajoles, lobbies, berates, and trades information because he understands it’s better to work with the media than to shut us out.' 

"'People approach their news consumption the way they approach their iPod: you download the songs you like and listen to them when you want to listen to them,' Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, tells Auletta. 'That [affects] our strategy in where the President goes and where he doesn’t.'”

Reid Flap Shows Some Subjects Still Taboo

 President Obama talks with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Oval Office on Oct. 7. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House) "This MLK day I wonder: Why hasn't electing a black president stopped conflicts over race?" Eric Deggans, media critic at the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, wrote Monday on his blog.

". . . The most recent example is the controversy Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found himself stuck in, after his comments about a 'light-skinned' Barack Obama having a good chance of election because he doesn't 'speak with a Negro dialect, unless he wants one' were revealed.

"In the end, after several days of debate over whether his words were racist — conducted by mostly white groups of pundits and journalists — Reid slid off the newspages when the crisis in Haiti and approaching elections took precedence.

"But it turns out, one of the core ideas from all the controversy —- why we are made so uncomfortable by the term 'negro dialect' — was barely considered.

"And I just happened to find two lovely ladies who ran afoul of this controversy 41 years ago, when they tried to distribute a handbook on black dialect they had written throughout the Hillsborough schools system."

"'I don't think it's racist; I think he told the truth,' said Doris Ross Reddick, 82, who co-wrote 'Let's Cross Over the Wall' with friend and fellow educator Altamese Simmons, also 82," Deggans wrote in his Sunday story.

" 'I don't think (white voters) would have elected somebody who was a deeply dialectical speaker president . . . And I can't believe, after 40 years, that we still can't talk about it.' "

Carlos Hernandez Gomez, Chicago Reporter, Dies at 36

Carlos Hernandez Gomez"Carlos Hernandez Gomez, 36, a political reporter for CLTV, died Sunday, Jan. 17, in Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago after more than a yearlong bout with cancer," the Chicago Tribune reported on Monday.

"Mr. Hernandez Gomez was easily recognized for his trademark fedora, thick black glasses, bow ties and machine-gun style of questioning public figures. He filled his reports with his vast knowledge of local political characters and the city's rich political history.

"A vibrant reporter, Mr. Hernandez Gomez covered major national and local stories, but mostly focused on local and state politics. He covered the administrations of former Govs. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, as well as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Cook County Presidents John and Todd Stroger.

"He also covered legal affairs and the courts for CLTV, especially when some of those same politicians or employees of their administrations found themselves charged with crimes.

". . . Survivors include his wife, WGN-TV reporter Randi Belisomo Hernandez."

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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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