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Rival Jeers Series on Child Homelessness

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Monday, December 16, 2013

N.Y. Times Five-Parter Wins Raves, but Not From N.Y. Post

Mandela Told a Critical Cartoonist, "But That Is Your Job"

"Santa Is Not White, Because Santa Is Not Real"

"Code Switch" Project Gains as NPR Receives $17 Million

HLN Turns to Trio to Help Reverse Its Fortunes

Chung, Rivera See Truths in "Anchorman" Movie

Journalists Warned Against Overreacting to Obama Woes

Short Takes

In a photo from the New York Times series on child homelessness, Nijai, the lega

N.Y. Times Five-Parter Wins Raves, but Not From N.Y. Post

"Invisible Child," a five-part series about child homelessness published last week in the New York Times, is winning kudos as an example of the role that newspapers have traditionally played in calling attention to appalling social conditions — except from the rival New York Post, which put a "bah, humbug" on the series in an editorial headlined, "The New York Times' 'homeless' hooey."

Nicole Hemmer wrote Dec. 10 in U.S. News & World Report, a day after the series debuted, "She shares a crowded, mouse-infested room with her parents and seven siblings, who sleep doubled up on torn mattresses

"That room in the decrepit Auburn Family Residence, a shelter for homeless New Yorkers, is where we first meet Dasani, the subject of Andrea Elliott's masterful profile published Monday in The New York Times. In 'Invisible Child,' Elliott follows the energetic 11 year old as she navigates hunger and homelessness, an ordeal Dasani shares with more than 22,000 other children in New York City.

"Elliott is not the only one concerned with the economically vulnerable: both the Pope and the president grabbed headlines in recent days with their remarks on income inequality. Yet if history is any guide, Elliott and Dasani will have a far greater impact on the politics of poverty than either one of them."

Hemmer also wrote that the series "comes at a critical time in America's economic recovery. Poverty programs have already absorbed the double blow of austerity and sequestration. In recent months Republican lawmakers have moved to slash food stamps, which over the past fifty years have eased hunger for millions of low-income Americans. And with the Dow rocketing above 16,000 and the unemployment rate dipping to 7 percent, the economically vulnerable risk slipping off the public's radar.

"Which is why journalists are so vital to the politics of poverty: The poor are almost always hidden from view. . . . "

In the Chicago Reader, Steve Bogira wrote Friday, " 'Invisible Child' is the remarkable five-part series (almost 29,000 words) that ran in the New York Times this week, about a family living in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. A Times reporter and photographer shadowed the family — eight kids and two parents — for 15 months. It's a heartbreaking story, and a damning indictment of our nation's vast, shameful inequality."

In Columbia Journalism Review on Monday, Dean Starkman agreed.

"One of the great newspaper series of any kind that I can recall, it draws on a time-honored genre that traces its lineage to the late 19th century and Jacob Riis, and no doubt before, and is right in line with Alex Kotlowitz's work in The Wall Street Journal in the 1980s that provided the basis for There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America (1991), set in Chicago's housing projects," Starkman wrote. "It also made me think of J. Anthony Lukas's Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade In the Lives of Three American Families, mostly because of the incredible wealth detail that only comes from spending massive, massive amounts of time with a subject. . . ."

To the New York Post, these kudos were so much "hooey."

"For this family, shelter, rental assistance and food stamps alone have added up to nearly half a million dollars since 2000," its Dec. 9 editorial noted. It concluded, "If the city is at fault here, it might well be for having been too generous — providing so much that neither the father nor mother seems much inclined to provide for their kids. That would be a story worth reading."

Beth Cunningham, a staff attorney for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, contended in the Chicago Reader piece that most homeless children aren't in shelters, but live "doubled-up" with relatives or family friends.

And in the Columbia Journalism Review, Starkman said of the series, "It's this mountain of detail — not to mention the enumerated structural issues and policy choices that contribute to this family's wanderings — that overwhelms crude, paint-by-the-numbers arguments from the peanut gallery about personal responsibility, such as those made by the New York Post’s editorial board. Sorry, but it's complicated. . . ."

Mandela Told a Critical Cartoonist, "But That Is Your Job"

Nelson Mandela reads the Aug. 3, 1994, edition of the Cape Argus at his presiden

"Watching the hundreds of hours of coverage about Madiba's life on TV this week, I came across a documentary — Madiba and the Cartoonists — and a fascinating story told by [photographer Karina] Turok’s husband Jonathan Shapiro, better known as Zapiro," Jermaine Craig, editor of South Africa's Cape Argus newspaper, wrote on Monday. "I called Zapiro up this weekend and asked him to relate the story again.

" 'I was sitting at my desk, busy drawing, on what was just an ordinary day in early 1998. The phone rang and my wife said it was the president's office on the line. When I took the phone a woman told me to "please hold for President Mandela." Then I heard that distinctive voice: "Hello, this is President Mandela. I am very upset with you."

" 'I was worried that he must have been annoyed with some of my recent drawings. "I read that your cartoons will no longer be appearing in The Argus and when I am at Parliament I won't be able to see them every day – and I really love seeing them every day," he said.

" 'I was shocked and told him I was amazed and honoured he had contacted me, and what made it so much more special was that in the last three-and-a-half years my cartoons had become more and more critical of the government.

" 'But that is your job,' he told me. That always stood out for me, that as much as Madiba respected cartoonists and satire, even when our criticism was directed at government, he valued and supported our role in society.'

"This week has rushed by in a wave of emotion, grief, joy and pain, evoking strong memories of the life of a man the likes of which we have never seen before — and will probably never see again. For years now we have expected — and dreaded — that call, that text message, that announcement. . . ."

Craig also wrote, "As much as you prepare yourself emotionally for the news and think you will be ready to absorb it when it finally comes, I wasn't prepared to hear [President Jacob] Zuma utter the words that Madiba had 'departed'.

"I stood numb, in shock, in tears, but there was no time to mourn. . . ."

On "Saturday Night Live," Kenan Thompson appeared in costume to declare that San

"Santa Is Not White, Because Santa Is Not Real"

"Hours after The Washington Post Style section published a fawning profile declaring blondiful Megyn Kelly to be 'Fox News's brightest, fastest-rising star,' she stepped in a politically incorrect mess by declaring Santa Claus and Jesus to be white," Mike James wrote Thursday on his NewsBlues site.

" 'For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white,' said Kelly. 'Santa is what he is.... I wanted to get that straight.'

"Kids watch Fox?

" 'Santa is not white, because Santa is not real,' argued Ben Dreyfuss in Mother Jones. 'Santa is fake. Santa exists in Coca Cola commercials and the hearts and minds of misled children. Santa is often depicted as white because That's The Way It's Always Been. But Santa is not white, again, because Santa is not real.'

"Santa isn't real? But we just saw him in front of Walmart.

" 'Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change,' Kelly said. 'You know, I mean, Jesus was a white man, too.' . . ."

"Jesus is white? . . ."

Meanwhile, "On this week's Saturday Night Live, Santa Claus appeared on Weekend Update to settle the argument that Fox News’ Megyn Kelly started this week when she declared that Santa Claus is white," Tommy Christopher reported Sunday for Mediaite. "One day after Kelly herself addressed the controversy, Kenan Thompson's Santa jumped into the fray to settle everything, and assured viewers that he is 'black as hell,' explained how the impression that he is white actually helps get Christmas night deliveries done faster, and said 'White guys taking credit for what a black guy did? I’m more used to it than I am okay with it.' . . .”

Slate blogger Aisha Harris, whose article prompted the original Kelly remark, appeared on CNN’s "Reliable Sources" Sunday. "Host Brian Stelter played Kelly's response from Friday evening, in which the Fox News host mocked critics for blowing an offhand comment out of proportion," Evan McMurry reported Sunday for Mediaite.

" 'I felt that they were playing the victim there,' Harris said. . . . "

"Code Switch" Project Gains as NPR Receives $17 Million

Matt Thompson

NPR's "Code Switch" race relations project has received a $750,000 one-year Ford Foundation grant and its director, Matt Thompson, an editorial product manager, is being promoted, NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher Bross told Journal-isms on Monday.

NPR announced "a significant expansion of NPR's ability to deliver in-depth coverage of news and culture and reimagine the public radio experience for digital listening."

Four leading foundations and three individual philanthropists are supporting the expansion, the NPR announcement said. "The grants, totaling $17 million, will both deepen and extend NPR's coverage of key issues — education, global health and development, and race, ethnicity and culture — and fund NPR and six Member Stations – KPCC, KQED, MPR, WBUR, WHYY and WNYC – in the creation of a seamless local-national listening platform, helping deliver the work of NPR and stations to tens of millions of Americans everywhere they want it, in words, images and sound."

The announcement also said, "Over the past few years, the growth in NPR's audience on digital platforms has climbed, significantly extending the organization’s weekly on-air reach of tens of millions of listeners. As more people seek NPR's journalism in more places, NPR is adapting both its platforms and its newsgathering models to take advantage of that shift. Building on the success of efforts like Code Switch, the news unit covering race, ethnicity and culture, and Planet Money, reporting on the global economy, NPR is developing multidisciplinary teams to produce distinctive, in-depth coverage of key beats. These teams bring together reporters, editors, bloggers and visual journalists to tell stories audiences can hear, read and see. Code Switch, which launched in April 2013 with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has successfully boosted NPR's reach to new audiences in its first six months. Support from the Ford Foundation will enable NPR to continue building on the work of Code Switch itself. . . ."

Thompson, who will become director of verticals, "will help guide all three deepened coverage areas," Bross said. She said the new funding will not mean additional Code Switch staff.

At the Unity '12 convention in Las Vegas, Gary E. Knell, then president and CEO of NPR, announced a $1.5 million, two-year grant from CPB "to launch a major journalism initiative to deepen coverage of race, ethnicity and culture." He said he was "delivering on our promise for NPR to look and sound like America."

HLN Turns to Trio to Help Reverse Its Fortunes

From left: Kari Kim, Keith Brown, Adrienne Lopez

HLN, formerly Headline News, announced Monday the hiring of a multicultural team of programming executives: Keith Brown, a former senior vice president of news and public affairs at BET Networks, as senior vice president, programming; Kari Kim, a digital and television industry veteran, as vice president, program development; and Adrienne Lopez, who created the Nickelodeon Writers Fellowship program, which cultivates writers of color for children’s television, as director, special projects.

Brown and Lopez are African American; Kim is Asian American.

"Marrying the talented trio of Keith, Kari and Adrienne to the dynamic HLN team creates a powerful force that will no doubt catapult the network's brand evolution and invigorate programming," Albie Hecht, HLN executive vice president and general manager, said in a news release.

"In his new role Brown, who reports to Hecht, will be responsible for overseeing all current daytime and primetime series, editorial, newsgathering and programming which encompasses scheduling, media planning, acquisitions and on-air talent." Lopez is to report to Brown and Kim to Hecht.

Jeanine Poggi reported for AdAge, "The hires are the latest move by Mr. Hecht, who has shaken up both prime-time and daytime, canceling 'Raising America,' 'Now in America' and 'Evening Express.' The shows were replaced by re-airings of 'Showbiz Tonight' and 'News Now.'

"CNN's sibling network recently debuted a health and wellness programming block . . .  but initial ratings put HLN at a new low.

"According to a person familiar with the situation, HLN employees met last week to help brainstorm on the direction of the network. . . ."

Chung, Rivera See Truths in "Anchorman" Movie

Connie Chung

"In 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,' opening Wednesday, the arrogant journalist is recruited to join a 24-hour cable news network during the early 1980s," Reed Tucker reported Saturday for the New York Post. "The plot centers around how he and his team — suave reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), clueless weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and sports yahoo Champ Kind (David Koechner) — battle a rival anchor (James Marsden) and try to earn big ratings."

Connie Chung and Geraldo Rivera were among anchors of the period asked by the Post for their perspectives.

Geraldo Rivera

Chung said, "Every part of [Ron Burgundy] depicts the quintessential anchorman. Every single one [I worked with], with the exception of one, [was] just like Ron Burgundy. They were egotistical, they loved to hear the sound of their own voices. They hogged air time when it came time to ad lib. Sexism was rampant. You want examples? Do you have a year? For example, [the typical male anchor] had to say 'Good evening' and 'Good night.' He had to start the program and every single time out of a commercial. [Women] were not allowed. It's almost as if she could not speak until spoken to. Oftentimes, that was legislated in [the man's] contract. . . ."

Rivera said, "I thought in the first movie that they modeled the [Paul Rudd] character [Brian Fantana] after me. He's a ladies man with long hair, mustache, bell bottoms, platform shoes. What the film captures wonderfully is these burlesque aspects of the we're-all-in-this-together, local-news-team-as-family, where the anchormen are the surrogate parents and there’s one of each kind of character in the team.

"At [WABC in 1970], I was the Puerto Rican — and there was the Jewish one, the fat one, the tall one, the skinny one and the black one, and we'd do commercials. They're classics now. In one, I bring [anchors] Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel and [weatherman] Tex Antoine and [sportscaster] Frank Gifford to a Puerto Rican wedding. 'Eh, hombres, here’s my family.' At least in the promotional aspect, it was a bridge too far. . . ."

In a one-on-one interview at the White House, Steve Harvey talked to President Obama about

Journalists Warned Against Overreacting to Obama Woes

"Journalists rightly seek to tell compelling stories, which can bring abstract or dry topics to life, but the need to create a compelling narrative can be dangerous in politics," Brendan Nyhan wrote Thursday for Columbia Journalism Review. 

"As we've seen in recent weeks, the focus on storytelling over analytical precision pulls the media toward overstated claims, false binary choices, and simplified narratives, especially when it comes to the presidency.

"The most recent example is the current cycle of media overreaction to Barack Obama's difficulties. First, troubles with the rollout of led to wild speculation that the law was doomed. When it became clear the Affordable Care Act won't be repealed any time soon, pundits shifted to the argument that while the law itself might be salvaged, it was already 'game over' for Obama’s presidency — and that, after a series of negative stories, 'chances are he never recovers Americans' trust'. (The New Republic's Alec MacGillis has already tackled the flaws in these arguments.)

"To support these hyper-pessimistic assessments, journalists point to the historical record, which suggests that second-term presidents struggle to regain their previous levels of popularity, and to the current resemblance between Obama's current approval ratings and those of George W. Bush at this point in his term . . .

"The pattern of presidential difficulties during second terms is real, but journalists tempted to declare Obama's presidency dead should recall the history of premature media postmortems. . . ."

Short Takes

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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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Cross-Postings From The Root


We don't seem to get it; we are doing this to ourselves with every dollar we spend on his music, and the music of others who degrade Black women.


With all the supposed so-called "evidence", does one think the prosecutor would give R. Kelly a pass for all these "rapes"? I think not. The fact is that these were accusations from people who looked at Kellz as a dollar sign. If there was SO MUCH LEGIT EVIDENCE, it is preposterous to think that charges would not have been filed out of the dozens and dozens of these accusations. So-called "reporting" from a nobody loser reporter trying to gain his fame off the back of R. Kelly.


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