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How Long Will Jason Collins Be a Story?

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Some Say Burst of Accolades Could Be Deceptive

Mignon Clyburn Named Interim FCC Chair
L.A. Times Formalizes Shift From "Illegal," "Undocumented"

Bloomberg Hits N.Y. Times Silence on Black Teen's Killing

Forbidden or Not, Beyoncé Fans Tweet Own Concert Photos

Writers Decry Sportswriter Sam Lacy's Omission From "42"
A Rule of Thumb for Writing Opinions About Politics

N.Y. Times Publishes Story in English, Spanish

Short Takes

NBA player Jason Collins tells George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" Tuesday that he has received "incredible" support since announcing that he is gay. (Video)

Some Say Burst of Accolades Could Be Deceptive

"The media world has utterly embraced Jason Collins for coming out as the first openly gay NBA player, practically giving him an ovation," according to Howard Kurtz, writing Monday for the Daily Beast. [Kurtz and the Daily Beast "parted company" on Thursday.]

But will the public follow? And how much longevity will the Jason Collins story have?

"People are sitting in the front office right now, trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing," William C. Rhoden of the New York Times said in a Times podcast. It would be a mistake to assume that the tolerance one finds in New York will be repeated around the country, Rhoden said. "Fans do care, trust me," Rhoden cautioned.

Collins is optimistic. "I think, I know, in my personal life, I'm ready, and I think the country is ready for supporting an openly gay basketball player," he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos Tuesday on "Good Morning America."

For now, the media are on the Collins story as big news. The first interview with Collins and his twin brother, Jarron, is set to air Sunday on "Oprah's Next Chapter" on OWN, Patrick Kevin Day reported Wednesday for the Los Angeles Times.

The Sports Illustrated website,, drew 3.713 million unique visitors Monday, Sam Laird reported for Mashable. "Its previous high came on Feb. 9, 2010, when the site drew 3.663 million unique visitors for both its Winter-Olympics coverage and launch of its annual swimsuit issue."

Advertising experts told the Boston Herald that Collins "could reap huge rewards as the first U.S. pro player of a major sport to announce he's gay," the Herald's Marie Szaniszlo reported Tuesday.

Collins has been asked to be a marshal in the June 8 Boston Pride parade.

Writing in the Orlando Sentinel Tuesday, sports columnist Mike Bianchi cautioned against making too much of the initial reaction, and pointed to the longevity of the Collins saga as the athlete makes his way around the NBA.

"Do not for a second believe that the uniform message of approval flooding in about Collins being the first openly gay active player in a major American team sport is the same sort of message being espoused in locker rooms around American sports," Bianchi wrote.

He continued, "Let's face it, sports locker rooms are the ultimate 'jock-o-cracy' where athletes are instructed to 'man-up' and gay slurs are part of the nomenclature.

"Why do you think it's taken so long for an active male athlete to acknowledge he's gay? And why do you think Collins, an aging free agent on the tail end of his career, waited until he was no longer on a roster?

"Here's all you need to know: Brittney Griner — the Baylor University star, No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft and perhaps the hottest name in women's sports — announced she was gay several days ago and it was barely a blip on the media radar. But Collins, an obscure NBA journeyman, comes out and overshadows even Tim Tebow being cut by the Jets. . . ."

The implication is that Chris Broussard, the senior writer for ESPN the Magazine, might have more support than many believe. Broussard said Monday on ESPN's "Outside The Lines" that homosexual acts, adultery and premarital sex were "walking in open rebellion to God."

Broussard's comments were characterized by ESPN management as a "distraction" and were widely condemned.

Broussard issued a clarification Monday that maintained his basic position, but added, "As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA." Broussard told Journal-isms Wednesday he would have no further comment.

Writer-producer Rod McCullom, writing on, argued that Broussard's feelings are not those of most African Americans, regardless of the impression left by the news media.

"Despite evidence to the contrary — such as numerous surveys or voting patterns — the 'perception' of pervasive homophobia in the Black community and especially within professional sports has morphed into a media narrative. A number of Black professional athletes have spoken out for gay rights over the years — such as Charles Barkley, Michael Strahan and Will Demps publicly supported gay marriage as early as seven years ago — but the stubborn narrative remains."

McCullom added, " 'The media incorrectly assumed that "the first" player would be White and probably from hockey or baseball,' author and activist Darnell L. Moore told" Moore and former NFL player Wade Davis have co-founded You Belong, a sports leadership initiative for LGBT youth. "The majority of the NBA and the NFL's players are Black, so, to me it came as no surprise," Moore said in the piece.

An additional issue for journalists will be separating Collins from what he represents.

"That's the challenge Collins — and the journalists covering him — now face; balancing the player as a symbol with the player as a person," Eric Deggans wrote for the National Sports Journalism Institute.

"With accolades flowing from President Obama, [Martina] Navratilova and many other celebrities, it will be easy to reduce Collins' life and career to this moment. But he is also a player who is about to become a free agent this summer; journalists will be challenged to recognize his groundbreaking status while also giving him the scrutiny as player any professional athlete demands. . . ." [Updated May 2]

Mignon Clyburn Named Interim FCC Chair

"The news of nomination of Tom Wheeler as FCC chair and the naming of Mignon Clyburn as interim chair was welcomed by the current commissioners on Wednesday," John Eggerton reported for Broadcasting & Cable.

Mignon Clyburn

With the appointment, Clyburn becomes the first woman and the first African American woman to head the FCC.

"Mignon is a strong, experienced, and thoughtful leader," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who announced that he will be leaving in mid-May now that a successor has been named. "She has distinguished herself through her work to modernize universal service and promote competition, and as a champion for closing America's digital divide. . . . " Clyburn has also been a supporter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Wheeler is an investor in telecommunications start-ups who a decade or more ago served as the chief lobbyist for two industry trade groups, Edward Wyatt wrote in the New York Times. Clyburn, daughter of Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., has been an FCC commissioner since 2009.

The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council praised the appointments.

"Last week, MMTC and 49 other organizations, including the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Alliance for Women in Media, wrote to the President to encourage him to nominate FCC Commissioners that would prioritize minority and women's issues," it said in a statement. Unity: Journalists for Diversity was among the 50 groups. "The letter cited the disproportionately low representation of women and minorities in media and telecom ownership, procurement, employment, and entrepreneurship." 

MMTC President David Honig said in the statement, "With Tom Wheeler as Chair and Mignon Clyburn as [interim chair,] both of whom bring many years of practical business experience in media and telecom and who are known for their integrity and fair-mindedness. They will ensure that diversity, equal opportunity and inclusion will be top priorities at the FCC."

L.A. Times Formalizes Shift From "Illegal," "Undocumented"

"The Los Angeles Times has announced new guidelines for covering immigration," Deirdre Edgar reported Wednesday for the Times.

"The goal is to 'provide relevance and context and to avoid labels.'

"That means stories will no longer refer to individuals as 'illegal immigrants' or 'undocumented immigrants,' but instead will describe a person's circumstances.

"A memo from The Times' Standards and Practices Committee announcing the change explains the move away from labels:

" ' "Illegal immigrants" is overly broad and does not accurately apply in every situation. The alternative suggested by the 1995 guidelines, "undocumented immigrants," similarly falls short of our goal of precision. It is also untrue in many cases, as with immigrants who possess passports or other documentation but lack valid visas.'

"Though this is a change in written guidelines, the philosophy is already in practice in The Times. . . . "

The Times noted, "The Associated Press, whose stylebook is followed by most newspapers and is the basis for much of L.A. Times style, announced April 2 that it would move away from labels and no longer use the term 'illegal immigrant.' "

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks to the leadership of the NYPD at Police

Bloomberg Hits N.Y. Times Silence on Black Teen's Killing

"During a speech today denouncing legislation that would create an inspector general for the NYPD and allow people to sue for racial profiling arising from stop-and-frisk stops, Mayor Bloomberg briefly veered into the realm of media criticism," Dan Amira reported Tuesday for New York magazine. "Though the Times accuses Bloomberg of racist policing tactics, the paper doesn't seem to care when black kids are murdered, Bloomberg alleged with evident disdain:

" 'Last week Bronx resident Alphonza Bryant was shot and killed while standing with friends near his home. He was 17. Like most murder victims in our city, he was a minority .... Alphonza was a person — he had a loving mother, family, friends. It does not appear that he was even the intended target of the shooters. He was just a victim of too many guns on our streets. But after his murder there was no outrage from the Center for Constitutional Rights or the NYCLU. There was not even a mention of his murder in our paper of record, the New York Times. 'All the news that's fit to print' did not include the murder of 17-year-old Alphonza Bryant. Do you think that if a white, 17-year-old prep student from Manhattan had been murdered, the Times would have ignored it? Me neither. I believe that the life of every 17-year-old and every child and every adult is precious. . . . ."

The Times responded:

"Mayor Bloomberg is trying to deflect criticism of the City’s stop-and-frisk practice by accusing The New York Times of bias. Among those critical of the practice is The New York Times editorial board, which is separate from the news side of the newspaper. The Times aggressively covers violence in the city's neighborhoods, and to select one murder as evidence to the contrary is disingenuous. His claim of racial bias is absurd."

Forbidden or Not, Beyoncé Fans Tweet Own Concert Photos

"Beyoncé's photo ban on her Mrs Carter Show tour has backfired as fans flooded Twitter with their own snaps," the Belfast Telegraph in Northern Ireland reported on Tuesday.

"The Halo singer put strict restrictions on any unapproved photographers sending out photos from the show, but didn't count on her fans tweeting their images of the gig.

"She has her own photographer on the tour with her and sends out three to five carefully chosen photos after each show — however, the plan went out the window after her first night at London's O2.

"Fans of the 31-year-old star took to Twitter to share their snaps, creating an amateur's eye full round up of the concert. . . . "

As reported Friday, Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel of the National Press Photographers Association, is urging the news media to refuse to run the official publicity photos that the entertainer is posting in lieu of allowing photographers at the events.

In the 1940s, Sam Lacy's columns and news reports helped lead Brooklyn Dodgers o

Writers Decry Sportswriter Sam Lacy's Omission From "42"

"Ask Jake Oliver about Jackie Robinson and the talk turns quickly to Sam Lacy," DeWayne Wickham wrote for Tuesday's editions of USA Today. "History, prodded most recently by the movie 42, remembers Robinson as the black man who broke Major League Baseball's color line in 1947.

"Lacy, a sportswriter and editor at the Afro-American newspaper chain for six decades, played a big role in knocking down that racial barrier. But there's no mention of this black newspaperman in the movie that's billed as 'The True Story of An American Legend.'

"This oversight upsets Oliver, the Afro publisher and great-grandson of John H. Murphy Sr., a former slave who founded the Baltimore-based newspaper chain in 1892. 'I want history to tell the story of Sam's battle to get Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball. I want history to tell the story of Sam's closeness to Jackie,' Oliver told me.

"Oliver wants the movie to get it right. What the movie doesn't tell us — but should have — is that in 1945, Lacy persuaded the baseball owners to create a committee to consider integrating the sport, which was then the national pastime. The white men who controlled Major League Baseball did just that. They named Brooklyn Dodgers' owner Branch Rickey, Yankees' executive Larry MacPhail, Philadelphia magistrate Joseph Rainey and Lacy to the four-member panel. . . ."

Lacy's was not the only omission, Howard Bryant wrote last week for

"Branch Rickey was given credit for integration of the game as his idea solely, when as early as 1943, the integration forces in government and the press (notably Lester Rodney of the Communist Party newspaper Daily Worker, Wendell Smith and Sam Lacy) had pressured baseball and other industries, such as the military, to integrate," Bryant wrote.

A Rule of Thumb for Writing Opinions About Politics

In a blog posting for the Atlantic Wednesday, "How to Be a Political-Opinion Journalist," Ta-Nehisi Coates passes along "pretty good rules" from Jonathan Chait:

"Don't debate straw men. If you're arguing against an idea, you need to accurately describe the people who hold them. If at all possible, link to them and quote their argument. This is a discipline that forces opinion writers to prove that they're debating an idea somebody actually holds. And quoting the subject forces them to show that somebody influential holds it — if the best example of the opposing view is a random blog comment, then you're exposing the fact that you're arguing against an idea nobody of any stature shares. This ought to be an easy and universal guideline, but in reality, it's mostly flouted."

Coates adds, "You'd be shocked how many professional writers don't do this. Much like a boxer who wants to fight the best in the world, you want to take on the best of your opposition, and their most credible arguments. . . . "

N.Y. Times Publishes Story in English, Spanish

The New York Times published an investigative project in both English and Spanish," Veronica Villafañe reported Tuesday for her Media Moves site.

" 'A Drug War Informer in No Man's Land,' about a former Mexican police chief turned DEA informant abandoned by the U.S. government after he provided information that linked Mexico’s military to drug cartels, ran in yesterday's print and online editions.

" 'Un Informante de la Guerra Contra el Narcotráfico en Tierra de Nadie,' only ran online.

" 'Ginger Thompson's stories on Latin America often are translated and run on the front pages of papers there. So we thought, why not provide a Spanish-language version of her story and drive readers to our own site instead. We are interested to see how much traffic the Spanish version gets.' . . ."

Media Moves quoted Investigations Editor Christine Kay saying the bilingual story was a first for the Times, and this item originally reflected that. However, Stephanie Yeramanager of corporate communications for the New York Times Co, messaged the following on Thursday:  

"The New York Times has published stories in Spanish on for some time, either in conjunction with special projects or because it has simply made sense editorially. Stories are published in the Spanish language via The New York Times News Service & Syndicate or translated into Spanish, and translators are credited at the end of our articles.  This practice is not experimental, and it's something we've also done in Portuguese and Chinese.   

"Here are some examples of other stories that have been published in Spanish on   

"Another story by Ginger Thompson, also with Randal Archibold and Eric Schmitt (our translators are named at the bottom of the article), on U.S. involvement in hindering the rise of Mexican General Moisés García Ochoa, from Feb. 2013:

"A July 2012 story on marijuana trafficking in Uruguay by Damien Cave

"A 2011 series on immigration by Damien Cave: ." [Updated May 2]

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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