Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Will Eric Holder Consult With Journalists of Color?

Send by email
Friday, May 24, 2013

Obama "Troubled" by Threats to Investigative Reporting

Smiley: Displeased Obama Aides Pressured My Sponsors

Marketing Chief Janet Rollé Is Latest to Leave CNN

A Year Later, Reading Habits Change in New Orleans

Tornado-Stricken Town Taking Media Invasion in Stride

Women's Looks Count More in Sports Journalism

Haynes Johnson Dies, Won Pulitzer for Rights Coverage

Magazine Beauty Editors Becoming More Diverse

A $24,000 Boost Toward Journalism Studies

Short Takes

President Obama said Thursday at National Defense University, "I’m troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable." (video)

Obama "Troubled" by Threats to Investigative Reporting

President Obama ordered a review on Thursday of the Justice Department's procedures for legal investigations involving reporters, acknowledging that he was 'troubled' that multiple inquiries into national security leaks could chill investigative reporting," as Mark Landler reported for the New York Times.

Later Thursday, the Justice Department announced that "As part of that review, the Attorney General will consult a diverse and representative group of media organizations. In the coming days, he looks forward to meaningful engagement with these media representatives as well as other experts inside and outside government. . . .," Michael Calderone reported for the Huffington Post.

It was unclear whether the "diverse and representative group of media organizations" would include the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists or Unity: Journalists for Diversity, all of which have issued statements of alarm about the Justice Department's acknowledgement that it had secretly obtained telephone records of Associated Press reporters and editors.

Adora Andy, press secretary for the Justice Department, did not respond to a request for comment.

In his wide-ranging speech on counterterrorism Thursday, Obama said, "I'm troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.

"Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law. And that's why I’ve called on Congress to pass a media shield law to guard against government overreach. And I've raised these issues with the Attorney General, who shares my concerns. . . ," referring to Eric H. Holder Jr.

Landler's story continued, "Mr. Obama instructed Mr. Holder to report back to him by July 12.

"Among the issues likely to be discussed is how broadly the government should be allowed to subpoena telephone, e-mail or other records belonging to journalists who have reported on classified information.

"Asking Mr. Holder to lead the review, however, puts the attorney general in the awkward position of scrutinizing investigations that his department has pursued.

"Mr. Obama's remarks came amid deepening concern among many news organizations that the government is breaking new ground in how it investigates leaks of national security secrets. In a case involving The Associated Press, the government seized records of 20 office and home phone lines for A.P. reporters and editors.

"In a case involving a Fox News correspondent, James Rosen, prosecutors obtained a search warrant for Mr. Rosen's phone and e-mail records, after describing him as a possible 'co-conspirator' for publishing information about a potential North Korean missile test.

"On Wednesday, NBC News reported that Mr. Holder had signed off on the search warrant. . . ."

Meanwhile, on Friday, the advocacy group Free Press and more than 60 civil liberties, digital rights, press freedom and public interest groups sent a letter to Holder demanding a full, transparent account of the Justice Department’s targeting of journalists and whistleblowers.

The groups included the Society of Professional Journalists, the Newspaper Guild-CWA, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, NABJ, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The letter was prepared and signed before Obama's Thursday speech. Asked whether its contents still stand, Free Press spokeswoman Jenn Ettinger replied by email, "Yes — everything in the letter still stands. We welcome what Obama said about how journalists must be able to do their jobs. But we'll need to results and changes at DOJ to demonstrate this is a real commitment and not just an attempt to shift the conversation.

"Our call is for a full and transparent accounting — that is all the more relevant now that Obama has asked the agency to review its own rules. In addition, Obama has asked Holder to meet with media groups and media executives to discuss the agency's guidelines, but our letter makes clear that concerns about this issue extend beyond just the press. Ideally, the DOJ would hold a transparent process with ample opportunities for feedback from the public and other stakeholders."

Although Tavis Smiley is now known as a critic of President Obama, Smiley's website features a photo of the talk-show host, right, interviewing the then-senator on Oct. 18, 2007. (video)

Smiley: Displeased Obama Aides Pressured My Sponsors

Tavis Smiley, marking his 10th year on PBS, "contends that members of the Obama administration, whom he didn't identify, have pressured sponsors to drop their support of his projects, including his anti-poverty initiatives," Lynn Elber reported Friday for the Associated Press.

Elber also reported, "Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the PBS show's underwriter since the start, has 'consistently stood by our side,' said a Smiley spokeswoman. But others have dropped out or donated money to his projects on the condition of privacy because they've heard from a displeased White House, according to Smiley."

Leshelle V. Sargent, a spokeswoman for Smiley, offered no evidence of such pressure nor named any underwriters who had heard from the White House. She told Journal-isms by email, "After 10 years and 2,000 shows on PBS, Mr. Smiley appreciates all of his underwriters. We are uninterested in subjecting former, present or future supporters to further scrutiny."

Smiley, 48, "has drawn the ire of conservatives and, because of his insistent criticism of President Barack Obama's policies, that of some liberals and African-Americans," Elber wrote. She quoted Smiley saying, "This administration does not like to be criticized. And the irony of it is, there's nothing I have tried to hold the president accountable on that my white progressive colleagues have not. They're labeled courageous critics, but if I say it, I'm an 'Obama critic.' There's race at play in the very question."

Elber began her piece, "Tavis Smiley has stood out in 20 years in broadcasting, and he has no intention of changing his style or substance.

"He's the rare black host with national TV and radio platforms, one who sees his job as challenging Americans to examine their assumptions on such thorny issues as poverty, education, and racial and gender equality.

"In other words, he doesn’t squander his opportunities on PBS' daily talk show 'Tavis Smiley,' which marks its 10th year this month, or on public radio's 'The Tavis Smiley Show' and 'Smiley & West,' the latter a forum for commentary he shares with scholar and activist Cornel West.

"His quarterly 'Tavis Smiley Reports' specials for PBS, in-depth looks at topics such as the relationship between the juvenile justice system and the teenage dropout rate, fit the same bold pattern.

"Smiley, marking two decades in broadcasting this year, considers himself engaged in a calling as much as a career: 'This is the kind of work I think needs to be done. I’m trying to entertain and empower people.' . . ."

Marketing Chief Janet Rollé Is Latest to Leave CNN

Janet Rollé, CNN Worldwide's executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the last two years, is the latest African American to leave the network under its new leadership, Chris Ariens reported Friday for TVNewser.

Janet Rollé

"In a note to staff, obtained by TVNewser, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker writes, 'In a busy time of new show launches and ongoing campaigns underscoring the strength of CNN and all its platforms, Janet led her team to successfully spread the word in creative, engaging ways. I want to thank her for that, and all that she has done in her tenure here.' Rick Lewchuk who is SVP of creative services will lead the department in the interim. Structural changes to CNN’s marketing department may be in store."

In January, Mark Whitaker, the former Newsweek editor who as executive vice president and managing editor of CNN Worldwide became the highest-ranking African American at CNN, resigned to give Zucker "his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff."

CNN contributor Roland Martin's contract was not renewed, and Soledad O'Brien's morning "Starting Point" show was eliminated. O'Brien formed a production company and is to continue to supply documentaries to CNN — and others — on a nonexclusive basis.

A CNN spokeswoman noted that of Zucker's nine hires, five are of color, though they are of less prominence. They are Stephanie Elam, who rejoins the network as a correspondent based in Los Angeles, and correspondents Alina Machado, Zain Asher and George Howell, as well as news anchor Michaela Pereira of the new morning program "New Day."

Rollé previously worked at BET, MTV Networks and HBO. Last year, the National Association of Black Journalists gave her its Pat Tobin Media Professional Award [video], recognizing a public relations, advertising or marketing professional "who has had a distinctive impact in the media realm, resulting in positive media coverage of the black community."

"She represents the very essence of this award; the behind the scenes force helping to create on-air successes," NABJ President Gregory H. Lee Jr. said at the time. "Rolle is one of our industry's brightest stars. . . . "

Last year: Gail Brooks takes in the day's news while Wilbert 'Mr. Chill' Wilson

A Year Later, Reading Habits Change in New Orleans

"A year ago today, news leaked that The Times-Picayune would cease daily publication, cut staff and focus on its website,, Eve Troeh reported for the Lens in New Orleans. "The paper and ink edition now hits doorsteps and newsstands just three days a week: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

"History and tradition play an outsized role in New Orleans. So perhaps it is no surprise that The Times-Picayune’s move has led to a modern-day version of a relic of media history: the newspaper war.

"The Advocate, which launched its daily New Orleans edition when the Picayune stopped its own, is now beefing up under a new local owner, John Georges. The Times-Picayune now plans a tabloid paper, TPStreet, for three days that it had abandoned.

"Last year, photographer Bevil Knapp captured images of the daily newspaper ritual around New Orleans. This week I joined her to see how, nine months into this new era of news, people and communities are adapting. . . ."

Tornado-Stricken Town Taking Media Invasion in Stride

"Angie Tennyson and her teenage daughter Taylor were sitting in folding chairs in front of the ruins of Tennyson's sister-in-law's home on the corner of Seventh Street West and Telephone Road. Little remained of the home after Monday's tornado tore through the Oklahoma City suburb, but the Tennysons were occupying prime media real estate," Jay Newton-Small reported for Time magazine from Moore, Okla.

"The [Tennysons'] block — a few dozen homes, most of them devastated, halfway between city hall and the press center set up in front of Dick's Sporting Goods — lent itself to media attention. And a destroyed hospital and bowling alley across the street from the family offered a dramatic backdrop for the television cameras — all the more so after police restricted access to the Plaza Towers Elementary School across town, where seven children died after the building was torn down by the cyclone.

"So for hours the family sat patiently as reporter after reporter approached them, asked for their story, then moved on.

" 'I’m sorry,' said one Good Morning America producer to the family, 'do you mind our cameras pointed right at you?'

" 'Not at all,' replied Angie Tennyson.

"At least 200 journalists swarmed the two-square-block area, accompanied by two dozen satellite trucks. Japanese radio competed with British tabloids, German television and American networks. The families attempting to recover anything from their ruined homes found themselves hosting television satellite trucks in their driveways and replying to reporters' questions as they dug through the remnants of their damaged homes. And yet, like the Tennysons, most were remarkably gracious about fielding questions while salvaging their lives. . . ."

Women's Looks Count More in Sports Journalism

"Being attractive can cause almost as many problems for female sports journalists as being unattractive," Isobel Markham wrote Friday for the Daily Beast. Her story was headlined, "Sports Journalism's Beauty Curse."

"The undeniably beautiful" Sarah Spain, a columnist for espnW and a sportscaster on ESPN 1000 radio in Chicago, "had barely been reporting two weeks from the Blackhawks locker room in Chicago when a male veteran reporter on the same beat insinuated that she must have been sleeping with one of the players. Another mentioned to the PR department that he found her breasts 'a distraction.'

"The fight that female sports reporters have endured first to get into the locker rooms and then, once in, to be treated with dignity and respect was explored to great critical acclaim by the Tribeca Film Festival hit Let Them Wear Towels. Part of ESPN's Nine for IX series celebrating Title IX's 40-year anniversary, which will be airing on the network over the summer, the film highlights how far sports journalism has come since SI reporter Melissa Ludtke's fight for locker room access during the 1977 World Series. It also shows how far we still have to go. . . ."

Markham also says, "sports journalism lags significantly behind other areas of the media in terms of female reporters garnering gravitas. . . . "

Haynes Johnson Dies, Won Pulitzer for Rights Coverage

Haynes Johnson"SELMA, Ala. — A new sign stands near the spot in Selma's Negro section where Martin Luther King led the marchers into the street and down the long road to Montgomery last spring. It reads: 'FORWARD EVER — BACKWARD NEVER.' "

So began "Selma Revisited: 4 Months After Their 'Finest Hour' Rights Forces Are in Disarray," a July 26, 1965, article by Haynes Johnson in the Washington Evening Star that helped win Johnson a Puliitzer Prize.

"Today that sign is more an expression of hope than a statement of fact," the story continued. "While stoutly maintaining their faith in themselves and the civil rights movement, Negroes here are shocked and divided.

"The spirit and singleness of purpose they showed when Selma became a byword around the world have been shattered by bickering and scandal. While the victory they scored last spring remains untarnished, the drive to build on it by improving their lot in life has slowed. . . ."

And yet, Johnson wrote, "As a result of what the Selma Negroes and their white friends did last spring, the Deep South will never be the same. The demonstrations and the march lifted the spirits of Negroes everywhere.

"In part the present dispirited mood in Selma may reflect an inevitable letdown from an emotional peak — what happens when the cheering stops. . . ."

Johnson, then 34, won the 1966 national reporting prize "for his distinguished coverage of the civil rights conflict centered about Selma, Ala., and particularly his reporting of its aftermath," the Pulitzer board said.

Johnson "later sought to pierce the mysteries of the politics and gamesmanship" of the nation's capital. He died Friday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., at 81, Matt Schudel reported for the Washington Post. Johnson suffered a heart attack.

"Along with David S. Broder and other reporters, Mr. Johnson brought a fresh depth and sophistication to The Post and to political coverage in particular," Schudel wrote. "He became known for his shoe-leather reporting as he roamed the nation to gauge the thoughts, fears and hopes of the public. . . .

"After retiring from The Post in 1994, Mr. Johnson had an endowed Knight Foundation chair in journalism at the University of Maryland, where he was a popular professor. . . ."

Magazine Beauty Editors Becoming More Diverse

Elaine Welteroth

Elaine Welteroth, Teen Vogue's first African American beauty director, was asked Wednesday by Kerry Folan of, "Do you see a trend towards more diversity on the editorial side of beauty content creation?"

Welteroth replied, "In general, our world is getting more multicultural by the minute. It's a step in the right direction when the workplace reflects that. I think that beauty is an important space to see a range of perspectives, because it's a particularly personal topic. We write about products you wear on your skin and in your hair, which come in a wide range of shades and textures. A sense of trust is established when your reader feels like there is someone on the masthead who understands them and can speak up for them on these topics."

Welteroth, named to the post in October, was formerly a senior beauty editor at Glamour. "Recent masthead shake-ups have unearthed a new generation of young, ethnically diverse beauty editors," Folan reported, "and they're bringing a fresh perspective on beauty to traditional media. As young women of color come into power in the industry, there's an opportunity for assumptions about race, beauty, and products to be challenged in an unprecedented way. . . ."

Aspiring broadcast journalist Sierra Searcy with her check. Thirteen Detroit public high schools participated in the Detroit   Free Press’ high school journalism program. (Credit: Jarrad Henderson/Detroit Free Press)

A $24,000 Boost Toward Journalism Studies

Sierra Searcy, a senior at Detroit's Cass Technical High School, was the big winner Wednesday night at the annual Ford Free Press Journalism Achievement Awards Banquet, Ann Zaniewski reported for the Free Press. She won a $24,000 scholarship check. "It was just a beautiful moment. I really needed the money," she said. Searcy plans to study at Michigan State University and become a broadcast journalist. (Credit: Jarrad Henderson/Detroit Free Press)

Short Takes

Follow Richard Prince on Twitter @princeeditor

Facebook users: "Like" "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" on Facebook.

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.



Tavis Smiley

Tavis Smiley is blaming his lack of relevance on POTUS. Really? Maybe his unending tirade against Mr. Obama has prompted underwriters and donors to flee. How many times can Smiley cry wolf without proof? His former supporters told him to give it a rest. But, Smiley refuses to lay blame(poverty, the economy, etc)at the feet of the real culprits, the oligarchs.

Post new comment

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