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Heart & Soul Writers Get Overdue Pay

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Updated April 9

National Writers Union Announces Settlement for 12

CNN Reintroduces Itself Free of Blacks, Hispanics

Last African American Publisher Resigns at Gannett

Roger Ebert Celebrated as "Soldier With a Pen"

South Africans See Mixed Legacy for Thatcher

The More Education, the Less Television-Watching

Essence Backs Obama on Gun Violence

Mark Walden, Memphis Meteorologist, Dies at 38

Paper "Unpublishes" Letter After Native Protests

Short Takes

National Writers Union Announces Settlement for 12

"The National Writers Union (NWU) and representatives of Heart [&] Soul magazine have signed an agreement that will see a dozen freelance writers and editors collect over $125,000 in unpaid fees. Heart [&] Soul has already made two required payments under this agreement," the union announced.

From left: Sheree Crute, Katti Gray, Julia Chance

In a statement dated April 2 but released Monday, union president Larry Goldbetter said, "This settlement goes far beyond a national magazine making the long overdue payment to our members for work they performed. It sends a signal to the growing number of freelance writers and the publishers that profit from our work, that — in this new economy of independent workers — we can effectively organize into unions. We can fight to protect our interests."

Heart & Soul has had a rough go of it since journalist George Curry and his partners in Brown Curry Detry Taylor & Associates, LLC of Silver Spring, Md., announced in January 2012 that they had bought the 18-year-old health and wellness publication from Edwin V. Avent, a Baltimore-based businessman who now heads a nascent cable network, Soul of the South.

The new Heart & Soul owners promised to compensate a group of angry writers who said they were owed more than $200,000 in back pay. But after failure to satisfy the writers and other setbacks, Curry said in November that he had resigned as executive vice president/content and editorial director.

The status of the publication could not be determined. Sandra Guzman, who was freelancing as editor, messaged Journal-isms Monday, "I am no longer with heart & soul. I resigned in 2012 for many of the reasons that you have written about. And while I love the mission of the magazine, unfortunately, I can't say it was a very positive experience." The website includes a story dated Friday, "The DIY Age for Black Filmmakers."

Patrick H. Detry, executive vice president, advertising, said Monday that he was in a meeting and could not immediately discuss the situation. Clarence I. Brown, president and CEO, did not respond to a request for comment.

Sheree Crute, one of the aggrieved writers, based in New York, told Journal-isms by email, "I hope the magazine's publishers continue to pay in a timely manner. More writers have come forward since the signing, so it's clear there's really a great deal of economic hardship coming out of this situation. As you know, freelancers are having a very tough time right now, so of course African American freelancers are suffering more than most. In times like these, it is really important for our publications to support us and treat us with the proper respect."

Julia Chance, who was senior editor, beauty and fashion, said by email, "I'm grateful to the National Writers Union for assisting my colleagues and me through this unpleasant ordeal. Not getting paid fully by H&S for the work we performed is unconscionable and we've all suffered varying levels of hardship as a result. One of my writers was dealing with the care of an ailing elderly parent while undergoing chemotherapy herself. She appealed to H&S owners letting them know this and asked for an ETA [estimated time of arrival] regarding payment but never received a response."

The status of Heart & Soul could not be determined."H&S, through all of its various owners, [has] always been the little train that could, providing much needed health information to the black community which suffers disproportionately from health afflictions. The irony of how it, under current ownership, mistreated a segment of the very demographic they claim to serve is not lost on me. It's unfortunate, and goes against the mission of the magazine."

Katti Gray, a New York-based freelancer who helped organize the Heart & Soul contractors, said in the union's statement,  "The aggrieved, unpaid women at Heart [&] Soul, backed by the union's organizing and legal help, have set an example for all freelance writers. I know, firsthand, of folks who aren't getting paid and who are saying absolutely nothing about it. We’ve got to demand that publishers pay for what we've delivered. There’s power in that."

The union statement continued, "The NWU first got involved with Heart [&] Soul in October 2011, after three union members rallied their colleagues to file a group grievance for articles that had been published but for which they had not been paid. The initial group grievance was settled relatively quickly. Then, a group of 12 more stepped forward. Heart [&] Soul is a health and wellness magazine whose target audience is women of color; all of the NWU members listed in both grievances are black women. The NWU worked diligently and cooperatively with Heart & Soul's new management team to reach a final settlement amount and pay schedule.

"While NWU and Heart & Soul's new management team worked on a settlement for the group of 12, NWU won a $360,000 judgment in a New York federal court for 30 freelance writers, translators, editors and graphic artists who had worked for Inkwell Publishing, a textbook 'development house.' NWU also won more than $25,000 for a dozen freelancers at Natural Solutions magazine, based [near] Minnesota's Twin Cities. All together, our Grievance and Contract Division has won more than $1.5 million for NWU members, a critical victory as the pace of writers not being properly paid seems to be picking up. . . ."

None of the personalities in the reintroduction is African American, Hispanic or Native American.

CNN Reintroduces Itself Free of Blacks, Hispanics

"CNN has rolled out a new campaign centered on the tagline 'Allow us to reintroduce ourselves,' Newscast Studio, which describes itself as "the number one resource for television news creative professionals," reported Monday.

"The campaign, which is running in several high profile spots, including takeover ads on popular media news site Mediaite, features a icy blue background with bold CNN red typography and focuses on the network’s talent both old and new." The ad also ran in the New York Times.

None of the personalities in the reintroduction is African American, Hispanic or Native American. Sanjay Gupta and Fareed Zakaria are of South Asian background.

"Anderson Cooper occupies the first slot on the grid of [talent] photos, followed by Chris Cuomo, Jake Tapper and Kate Bolduan, all recent hires or, in the case of Bolduan, newly named host.

"Other names include, Wolf Blitzer, Anthony Bourdain (another recent hire) Sanjay Gupta, Erin Burnett, Piers Morgan, Fareed Zakaria, Rachel Nichols and Christiane Amanpour," Newscast Studio reported.

[Gregory Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said Tuesday, "On Monday, I voiced my displeasure with CNN about the ad two minutes afterseeing the image. Certainly, this is not what was discussed in our meeting with CNN a few weeks ago. Without going into specifics, the ad goes directly opposite of the tone that was set in our meeting. We will stay on top of CNN on this matter. Stay tuned."

[Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said in a message Tuesday that NAHJ "is disturbed by the image CNN is delivering to prospective audiences. The advertisement is certainly not reflective and inclusive of the rich diversity in this country. I have reached out to the CNN senior leadership about the lack of Latinos and other minorities in the picture they're portraying."

Last African American Publisher Resigns at Gannett

Samuel Martin

Samuel Martin, the last remaining African American publisher at the Gannett Co., Inc., the nation's largest newspaper group, resigned Monday as president and publisher of the Advertiser Media Group, which publishes the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, the newspaper announced.

"I'm going to step back and sort of assess what I want to do with the rest of my life," Martin, 53, told Journal-isms by telephone. "It's a tough industry to be in right now. I still believe in newspapers . . . but we still have a lot to do, resetting this model."

Martin's resignation was announced on the Advertiser's website in a story containing a brief comment from Leslie Hurst, publisher of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., and vice president of Gannett's South Group. "I will make frequent trips and be onsite until we name a new president," Hurst told Advertiser staffers in a meeting Monday, the story said.

"I know Sam meant a lot to many of you, as he does to me, and he will be missed," she said, the newspaper reported.

Other losses of high-ranking African Americans in recent years have also come in the Gannett South Group: Don Hudson, managing editor of the Clarion-Ledger, and Rod Richardson, who held the same title at the Times in Shreveport, La., both laid off in 2010; Ronnie Agnew, executive editor of the Clarion-Ledger for nine years, who left in 2011; and this year, Martin and Wanda Lloyd, who retired this year as executive editor of the Advertiser.

Gannett also is losing Arthur Harper, believed to be the sole person of color on its board of directors, effective in May. However, USA Today, the Gannett flagship property, named Derek J. Murphy its executive vice president and general manager in February.

Gannett publishers have been under pressure to keep profits up. Jim Hopkins, writing about the annual shareholder's proxy report last month for his Gannett Blog, told readers, "The report covers a year when the company's finances grew more stable, and its share price jumped. Annual revenue last year rose 2.2% to $5.4 billion, the first annual increase since 2006." Total compensation for CEO Gracia Martore jumped to $8.5 million from $4.7 million in 2011.

Martin was senior vice president and chief advertising officer for the Boston Globe when he was named chief executive of the Advertiser in 2010. "I've lived in eight cities and six states," he told Journal-isms. "I've been doing this for 30 years."

Martin worked for Gannett as senior vice president of marketing at the Cincinnati Enquirer from 1999 to 2002, and was advertising director at the News Journal in Wilmington, Del., from 1993 to 1999.

He said his daughters are grown, so he is not wedded to staying in Montgomery, although, Martin said, "There is a charm I found in this community and some wonderful people."

Meanwhile, Digital First Media CEO John Paton said his company had sold Journal Register Co. newspapers as it reinvents itself for the digital age. Reporter Adrienne LaFrance of Digital First Media asked Paton for his philosophy "on how a media company can navigate the space between having a clear vision and executing strategy but also staying iterative and respond to the changes of the industry as they happen."

Paton replied, "By putting the digital people in charge. I mean, with Jim Brady, for example, in charge of all content, I don't have anybody with a legacy background there. . . . "

Roger Ebert's wife, Chaz Hammelsmith Ebert, center, walks down the stairs outsid

Roger Ebert Celebrated as "Soldier With a Pen"

"Roger Ebert was celebrated Monday as a film critic, newspaperman, social-justice soldier, husband, father, grandfather and champion of artists and imagination, but the great cross-section of mourners at his Holy Name Cathedral funeral spoke to a quality that perhaps reigned above all others:

"Roger Ebert — someone who loved and united people," Mark Caro reported for the Chicago Tribune.

Among those present were Steve James, whose 1994 documentary "Hoop Dreams" was championed by Ebert and fellow critic Gene Siskel. James "stood discreetly to the side, overseeing the continued filming of his documentary based on Ebert's 2011 memoir 'Life Itself.' "

Caro also wrote, "Jonathan Jackson read a statement from his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who characterized Ebert as a powerful cultural figure who sought 'to explain America to itself …. He shared with us how important imagination is.' 

"The younger Jackson, national spokesman for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, also hailed Ebert for championing African-American-themed films such as Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing.'

" 'He respected what we had to say about ourselves,' Jonathan Jackson said, noting: 'I look at Roger as a soldier with a pen.' . . . "

South Africans See Mixed Legacy for Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela in 1990."The death of Margaret Thatcher provoked both sombre tributes and undisguised glee in South Africa, a country where she found herself on the wrong side of history," David Smith reported Monday for Britain's Guardian newspaper.

Thatcher, Britain's only female prime minister, died of a stroke at age 87 on Monday.

"Thatcher joined Ronald Reagan in a policy of 'constructive engagement' to seek reform from a government that they saw as a bulwark against Soviet-backed communism in Africa. Refusing to back sanctions, Thatcher infamously dismissed the African National Congress (ANC) as 'a typical terrorist organisation'," Smith reported.

"Her stance became one of the political flashpoints of the 1980s and is now regarded as one of her greatest misjudgments. She was denounced by Britain's anti-apartheid movement, which took to the streets to demand South Africa's isolation. The MP Peter Hain recalled seeing Conservative students wearing 'Hang Nelson Mandela' badges on campus.

"But the end of the cold war made the bulwark argument obsolete and, like FW de Klerk, Thatcher had to bow to the inevitable. She welcomed Nelson Mandela to Downing Street a few months after his release from prison. In 2006, David Cameron met Mandela and admitted the Conservatives had been wrong. . . ."

However, Andrew Harding, Africa correspondent for the BBC, reported that Ahmed Kathrada, one of Mandela's closest friends, credited Thatcher with helping to save Mandela's life in 1963 and 1964, when Mandela was a defendant accused of trying to overthrow the apartheid government.

"We were expecting a death sentence. We were well aware that there was all sorts of pressure from South Africa and abroad — pressure from people not necessarily agreeing with" the ANC's policies," Kathrada said.

The More Education, the Less Television-Watching

"A Nielsen report found that the amount of time viewers spend watching TV correlates with their educational attainment and income," the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies reports.

"Those with a 4-year college degree watch an average of 1 hour and 14 minutes of primetime television, compared to 2 hours and 8 minutes per day for those with just a high school diploma. Income levels also correlate in similar ways with daytime TV viewership. However, primetime TV viewing did not differ substantially between those making $100,000 or more per year (1 hour and 52 minutes per day) and those making $30,000 or less (1 hour and 58 minutes per day).

"People of color, particularly Blacks and Hispanics, are disproportionately more likely to have lower levels of educational attainment and income compared to their White and Asian American counterparts. Many studies have shown minorities continue to be underrepresented in traditional media as compared to their share of the overall population. The Nielsen data suggest the under-representation of people of color in the media may also be disproportionate in relation to the amount of TV they watch [PDF], as compared to Caucasians."

Essence Backs Obama on Gun Violence

"ESSENCE, the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women, announces GUNS DOWN, its provocative three-part series aimed at making our communities safer," the magazine said in a news release. "The first installment of the series, Loss & Hope, kicks off in the May issue (on newsstands now.) It features the families of two Black children cut down by guns: Ana Márquez-Greene, a 6 year-old killed in a hail of bullets during the Newtown, CT, tragedy; and Hadiya Zaymara Pendleton, a 15-year-old casualty of gang violence who was gunned down in her Chicago neighborhood a little more than a week after she had performed at the presidential inauguration. . . .

"This series also kicks off ESSENCE's campaign to galvanize millions of African-American women across the nation — from readers to influencers and celebrities — to join in the fight against gun violence. The May issue features, 'Dear Mr. President,' a pre-written letter to President Barack Obama that readers can cut out and mail directly to the White House expressing support of the President's initiatives to curb gun violence — including restrictions on assault weapons, strengthening mental health care for young people, funding research on the causes and prevention of gun violence and more. ESSENCE also asks readers to spread awareness via social media by sending a Tweet with a picture of their signed letters with the hashtag [#EssenceGunsDown] to show their support. . . ."

Ebony and Slate are among other publications examining gun violence.

Mark Walden, Memphis Meteorologist, Dies at 38

Mark Walden

"Mark Walden, chief meteorologist for ABC 24 News in Memphis, died at his home over the weekend," Samantha Bryson reported Sunday for the Commercial Appeal.

"Mr. Walden, 38, died of apparent natural causes, according to the station, which did not provide further details."

A spokeswoman for the Regional Forensic Center in Memphis told Journal-isms that an autopsy was performed but that additional testing was required.

Bryson wrote, "Mr. Walden worked as a meteorologist for WEHT in Evansville, Ind., before joining ABC 24 in 1999. He graduated from Florida State University in 1997 with a B.S. in meteorology.

"Wayne Hart, chief meteorologist for WEHT and Mr. Walden’s former supervisor, said he was thrilled to hire him right out of college as a weekend meteorologist.

" 'A lot of people on TV have a heavy ego,' Hart said. 'They’re in it for their egos and to make a lot of money. He was just the opposite.'

"As founder of The Giving Experiment," his online charity, "Mr. Walden made sure that roughly 20 percent of his profits from his various entrepreneurial endeavors went to a different charity every month. The most recent beneficiaries include March of Dimes, Juvenile Intervention and Faith-Based Follow-Up, and Memphis Union Mission. . . ."

Paper "Unpublishes" Letter After Native Protests

"Indigenous people opened their newspapers last week in Western Canada to read, in a letter from a reader, that their race 'never had a written language,' 'made almost no inventions' and 'have a history that is notable only for underachievement,' " Sydney Smith reported Friday for iMediaEthics.

"The Nanaimo Daily News faced heavy reader criticism, a protest and 118 complaints to the press council over a rant published as a letter to the editor about indigenous people. The Daily News is based in the city of Nainamo on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

"The newspaper ended up unpublishing the letter from its website and apologizing after Nanaimo's mayor, readers, and First Nations leaders protested, calling for a prominent apology and firings, according to CBC. . . ."

Short Takes

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Heart and Soul

I'm glad to see that finally "Heart & Soul" will come to an agreement.

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