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"I'm Going to Take That Out" About Malcolm

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Author of Prior Book Says Gay Claim Poorly Sourced

Betty Wong Out as Reuters Global Managing Editor

Hispanics Outnumber Blacks in Most U.S. Metro Areas

AOL Plans to Hire Up to 800 for Patch Operations

U. of Colorado to Close J-School on June 30

New Ivory Coast Government Promises Media Freedom

Japan Fosters Timidity When Tough Questions Are Needed 

Ethnic Media Low Priority at Media Reform Conference

Satire on O.J., Media Won't Be in N.Y. Times Book Review

Recruiter Says Unity Set Example for Industry

Short Takes

Author of Prior Book Says Gay Claim Poorly Sourced

Malcolm X with his wife, Betty Shabazz, and their daughters Attallah, left, and Qubilah around 1962. ((c) Richard Saunder/Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)The allegation that has raised the most eyebrows in Manning Marable's biography of Malcolm X — that in his hustling days, the future black nationalist had homosexual encounters — was so poorly sourced that Karl Evanzz plans to remove it when the 20th anniversary of his own Malcolm book is published, the Malcolm scholar said on Friday.

"I got that information about Malcolm X from the same person that Marable is getting it from, which is a guy named Rodnell Collins, who is a putative relative of Malcolm X," said Evanzz, whose "The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X" was published in 1992. He said he started that book in 1981 but put it back in a drawer after the author Toni Morrison told him she could not persuade her publishing-house colleagues that there was sufficient interest in Malcolm.

"Now this is in 1981, keep in mind," Evanzz said in an interview with Jared Ball, associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University, on Washington's WPFW radio. "I'm thinking this guy is a true lover of Malcolm X because he was supposedly his nephew. It turns out he is not really related to Malcolm by blood. And if you look at some of these other books, he's cited as a source for some of the more salacious stuff about Malcolm X. I did not get a second source on this information. I accepted it because I thought that person was a true-blue Malcolm X supporter.

"If I had to do it over again, and in fact, when I do a 20th anniversary edition, I'm going to take that out."

Evanzz, a former Washington Post researcher who also wrote a biography of Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm's mentor in the Nation of Islam, wrote a blistering review of more than 2,000 words for theRoot.com that the website on African American issues Wednesday rejected. The website's editor-in-chief is Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., who praised the Marable book on its dust jacket.

Gates told the Washington Post's David Montgomery on Thursday that he had no role in commissioning the review or deciding its fate.Karl Evanzz

“I haven’t read the review. I wasn’t consulted in any of the decisions," Gates said. "I had no idea that it had been submitted or that it had been rejected."

"Evanzz said he turned in his review late last week," Montgomery wrote. "On Wednesday, the Root’s managing editor, Joel Dreyfuss, informed him that the piece would not be published. Evanzz said he was told he would receive a $100 kill fee.

" 'We turn down things all the time at the Root,' Dreyfuss said Thursday. 'I don’t feel it’s fair to get into the details of why we turn something down. It’s not a fair thing to do to [Evanzz] or to our process.' "

Montgomery wrote that "Most reviews have been far more positive than Evanzz’s. The book will hit No. 3 on The Washington Post’s bestseller list Sunday." It will rank No. 3 on the New York Times' hardcover nonfiction list for April 24, the Times reported Friday, "trailing admiring reviews and eulogies for Marable," who died April 1 at age 60, three days before the book's publication.

The Friday interview with Evanzz was followed by a recording of a visit to Ball's Morgan State classroom by Zak Kondo, who wrote one of the first books to identify William Bradley as the triggerman in Malcolm's 1965 assassination. Bradley, who lives in Newark, has never been charged with the crime.

While Evanzz took issue with other aspects of Marable's book, he said those involving sex had been used by both gay and racist websites for their own ends.

Viking Books, the publisher of Marable's "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention," has not commented on the criticism.

Betty Wong, center, at the 2006 convention of the South Asian Journalists Association. SAJA President Deepti Hajela of the Associated Press is at right; at left is Vice President Vikas Bajaj of the New York Times. (Credit: Preston Merchant/SAJA)

Betty Wong Out as Reuters Global Managing Editor

"New Reuters editor in chief Stephen Adler is expected to announce a reorganization of its editorial operations as soon as Monday, an overhaul that will include the departure of global managing editor Betty Wong, sources at the news operation confirmed Friday," the website Talking Biz News reported on Friday.

"Wong’s last day will be May 27. She is one of the highest ranking women in business journalism. Wong deferred comment to the Reuters PR staff.

". . . Wong is a graduate of New York University, where she majored in Journalism. She began her professional career at the Wall Street Journal in 1985. She joined the Reuters editorial staff in 1989. She become managing editor and head of editorial operations in 2004 after a stint as global equities editor."

In 2006, Wong was honored with the Reuters America Diversity Award for her efforts to encourage diversity among the 650 reporters and editors she supervised in North and South America. Dean Rotbart, host and executive producer of NewsTalk 870 KRLA's "Newsroom Confidential," a "weekly Southern California radio show that provides listeners an insider's guide to journalism and public relations," wrote then:

"Wong, 42, has been with Reuters for more than 16 years, the past two as managing editor. Among her many responsibilities is oversight of the $100 million annual news budget.

"In an effort to bring diversity to the Reuters newsroom, Wong has helped oversee a summer internship program and she and her staff regularly attend professional meetings and job fairs around the country in an effort to identify and recruit minority journalists.

" 'I don't believe in tokenism,' Wong tells 'Newsroom Confidential.' That said, she explains that she aims to create a newsroom environment where everyone feels welcome and thereby is attractive to 'the best people no matter what their background.' "

Hispanics Outnumber Blacks in Most U.S. Metro Areas

"Hispanics now outnumber African-Americans for the first time in most U.S. metropolitan areas, shifting the political and racial dynamics in cities once dominated by whites and blacks," Hope Yen reported Thursday for the Associated Press.

"Census figures released Thursday highlight the growing diversity of the nation's 366 metro areas, which were home to a record 83.7 percent share of the U.S. population. The numbers from the 2010 count are already having a big effect on redistricting in many states, where district boundary lines are being redrawn based on population size and racial makeup.

"Hispanics became the largest minority group in 191 metropolitan areas last year, their population lifted higher as blacks left many economically hard-hit cities in the North for the South and new Latino immigrants spread to different parts of the country. That's up from 159 metro areas when the previous Census was taken in 2000, when Hispanics were most commonly found in Southwest border states.

"The new metro areas include Chicago; Grand Rapids, Mich. and Atlantic City, N.J., whose states will lose U.S. House seats in the 2012 elections. Other places seeing rapid Hispanic gains compared to blacks were Lakeland, Fla.; Madison, Wis.; Oklahoma City and Omaha, Neb., due to the mid-decade housing boom that attracted many new immigrants seeking work in the construction and service industries."

Arianna Huffington, center, with Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, and Staci D. Kramer, editor and executive vice president, ContentNext/paidContent (Credit: paidcontent.org)

AOL Plans to Hire Up to 800 for Patch Operations

"AOL Inc. (AOL), seeking to revive sales growth after buying the Huffington Post, is hiring as many as 800 full-time employees at local-news operations across the country and reducing the use of freelancers, Brett Pulley reported Tuesday for Bloomberg News.

"Arianna Huffington, the Huffington Post co-founder who became the editor-in-chief of AOL’s media operations, said she intends to increase content at the company’s Patch websites covering about 800 local markets nationwide. AOL may hire as many as one full-time journalist per Patch site, though the final number hasn’t been decided.

“ 'Each site will now have its own team,' Huffington said in an interview. 'It’s always greater and better to have a team.' Until now, content for each Patch website has been produced by a single full-time local editor and freelancers.

"Huffington, who joined AOL as part of the $315 million Huffington Post deal completed last month, said the Patch sites will also incorporate bloggers and commentary. Those social elements helped her turn the Huffington Post news-aggregation model into a website that grew to attract 25 million unique visitors per month within six years after it began."

U. of Colorado to Close J-School on June 30

"The University of Colorado's journalism school will close June 30, making it the first — but perhaps not the last — college to be shut down in the university's history," Brittany Anas reported for the Daily Camera in Boulder.

"The CU regents voted 5-4 on Thursday to shut down the School of Journalism and Mass Communication on the Boulder campus, despite some board members arguing that problems in the school could be fixed without closing it.

"Campus leaders, as well as President Bruce Benson, supported the closure, proposing that the university instead implement a "Journalism Plus" program that calls for CU to drop journalism as a standalone bachelor's degree. Students will be able to pursue a double major in journalism and another subject, or they will be able to major in a subject with a certificate or minor in journalism."

According to an accreditation self-study in spring 2010, the school had 576 white students, 40 Hispanics, 28 Asian Americans, four American Indians or Alaska Natives and 11 blacks or African Americans, with a reported 32 "unknown."

Ernest J. Wilson III

Meanwhile, Jon Friedman devoted his Marketwatch.com media column Friday to the entrepreneurship focus that Dean Ernest Wilson is bringing to the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California.

"Considering how many magazines and newspapers have gone belly-up lately, it’s worth the effort to retrain Annenberg students for the 21st century," Friedman wrote. " 'We’re not just training our students for jobs that won’t exist in five years,' Wilson said. 'We need people who can connect the dots.

" 'Five years from now, if we do this right,' Wilson said, 'we can establish a new set of competencies for the digital age. Our graduates can go to work for Cisco or the government of China or the World Bank or a school in South Central LA. All of them would understand that communications is at the center. The biggest export in the U.S. economy is content.' "

New Ivory Coast Government Promises Media Freedom

"A top official of Cote d’Ivoire’s new government has assured Reporters Without Borders that it will respect media freedom, after the organisation called for an end to the disruption and abuses of the country’s media during the past several months of conflict, for laws decriminalising media offences to be retained and for opposition journalists to be allowed to work freely," Reporters Without Borders reported on Thursday.

"Two representatives of the organisation met Ivorian ambassador to France Ally Coulibaly yesterday with the family of disappeared journalist Guy-André Kieffer.

" 'We won’t make the same mistakes as the previous government,' Coulibaly told them. 'We know what is expected of us. President [Alassane] Ouattara wants to ensure all journalists can work freely.'

"Reporters Without Borders said the conflict had very seriously damaged media freedom, with the authorities seizing control of regulatory bodies and using state media for propaganda and with journalists unable to work because of lawlessness, threats and censorship. Both sides had disrupted the reporting of news."

Japan Fosters Timidity When Tough Questions Are Needed

"The Japanese government upped the danger rating for the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station to its highest level, 7, on Tuesday, a month after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the country," Madeline Earp wrote for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "It was not yet clear whether the administration or the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant, withheld the extent of the risk. But the local media's habitual allegiance to officials who arrange press conferences and companies that buy advertising makes it hard to tell, and freelancers who are eager to probe deeper say their questions have been suppressed.

"When CPJ launched its 2009 edition of 'Attacks on the Press' in Tokyo last year, we reported on the conservative structure of the Japanese news media. Under that system, professional journalists are admitted into press conferences only through membership in associations called Kisha Clubs. Freelancers need not apply.

"The system can foster docility among reporters willing to forgo asking critical questions in exchange for continued access, local journalists told us. Some in Japan are asking whether these conventional reporters have been passively reprinting government and power company risk assessments unconfirmed — even when those assessments conflicted with one another or with independent findings, international news reports say."

Other than himself and two other journalists who work for Polish and Indian publications, Mohsin Zaheer, editor of Sada-e Pakistan, said he was not aware of other ethnic news outlets at the National Conference for Media Reform. (Credit: New America Media)

Ethnic Media Low Priority at Media Reform Conference

"Mohsin Zaheer, editor of Sada-e Pakistan, has been at every National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR) since its inception in 2003. He said he has also seen the lack of attention the conference has given to ethnic media," Anthony Advincula wrote Friday for New America Media.

"Zaheer, at last weekend’s NCMR held in Boston, said that by just looking at the conference’s concurrent sessions, ethnic media apparently did not have an equal priority as traditional independent media counterparts have.

"The three-day event, he noted, failed to include or even mention ethnic media in almost all the discussions, except at a roundtable, 'Information Exchange for Ethnic Media and Media Advocates,' that he and fellow ethnic media journalists and advocates conducted on Friday night."

A panel of local journalists addressed the state of Boston media, according to the Bay State Banner.

Marcela Garcia, editor of El Planeta, raised the issue of minority audiences, Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil reported. " 'The face of Massachusetts and Boston is changing. What Charlie is saying about the pie being a zero-sum game — it really isn’t,' Garcia said," referring to Charles Kravetz, general manager of WBUR. " 'If you look at your audience, you have to go beyond what your regular listeners have been. Just look at the Census numbers.' Recent immigrants are making the state’s population grow, she said, but Boston’s media does not cover the stories of these people."

Caleb Solomon, managing editor of the Boston Globe, firmly disagreed. "We do it pretty darn well," he said, citing the Globe’s full-time immigration reporter and its "Your Town" sites.

Callie Crossley, who hosts a show on WGBH, said the Globe’s immigration reporter is "great, but half the time I’ve discussed those stories before she gets them, and that’s because these people [in the ethnic press] are talking about them first."

Satire on O.J., Media Won't Be in N.Y. Times Book Review

Ishmael ReedPoet, novelist and playwright Ishmael Reed has a new novel about the media and the O.J. Simpson trial, but you won't see "Juice!" reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, according to Sam Tanenhaus, the section's editor.

"I've spoken with Sam and you are correct that we are not planning a review of this book," Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Journal-isms by email on Friday. "As Sam points out — our space is severely limited and even books by major writers like Mr. Reed — who has reviewed for us since Sam has been at TBR — are sometimes passed over."

The character of Paul Blessings, a prominent cartoonist, narrates "Juice!," according to a review by Paul Devlin in the San Francisco Chronicle. " 'Juice!' is about Blessings' (and the media's) obsessions with the trials of O.J. Simpson. Blessings' preoccupation with what he sees as Simpson's innocence (and the media's spin toward guilt) begins to cost him his health and his family," Devlin wrote.

"An uneven satire, 'Juice!' functions more compellingly as an informal collection of provocative essays on race and media elliptically orbiting Simpson's trials than it does as a novel. One of Reed's achievements here is historical: He's taken careful notes on which talking head said what and when, revealing the extent to which Simpson has been overused as an out-of-context signifier."

Reed told Journal-isms, "The irony is that [Tanenhaus] called me a 'great' writer on NPR, the broadcast is still up and that I was his idea of diversity."

In January, Randy Shaw of BeyondChron.org, "San Francisco's alternative online daily," found the Times Book Review's diversity wanting.

"The latest example of the sad decline of the New York Times Book Review under editor Sam Tanenhaus is its January 2, 2010 edition on 'Why Criticism Matters' that excludes African-American and Latino critics," Shaw wrote. "Citing the importance of the critic as cultural arbiter, the Times asked six critics to address the subject — none of whom were black or Latino. Further, the back page of the section cites seven cultural critics who inspired the issue’s theme: all seven are white men."

Murphy did not respond to a question about the number of journalists of color working in the section.

[Senior editor Dana Canedy said on Monday via email: "We do have diverse members of the Book Review staff: Ihsan Taylor (African American) is one of our copy editors and also writes our Paperback Row column. Our newest copy editor, Valencia Prashad, is Guyanese (South America). Both these editors work very closely on reviews of all descriptions. Jen McDonald, one of our preview editors (assigning editors, handling nonfiction and fiction) is part Filipino and part Chinese."]

Recruiter Says Unity Set Example for Industry

"UNITY has made a difference for all journalists," Joe Grimm, who recruited journalists for the Detroit Free Press, wrote Wednesday for the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute. "I was a member of all four of the constituent UNITY groups. I attended every UNITY convention.

Joe Grimm". . . Journalism — all of journalism — saw that when 8,000 of us assemble in one place, the president of the United States will come out to answer questions. Given the nature of newsroom hiring, UNITY was never a collection of newsroom managers, but the rank and file," wrote Grimm, a visiting editor in residence at the Michigan State University School of Journalism.

"Journalism — all of journalism — saw what it was like to put a hydra-headed management team in charge of a huge, converged student newsroom. It wasn’t always pretty and, yes, there is crying in journalism. But UNITY’s experiment helped push us all along the path toward where we are today.

"Journalism — all of journalism — is struggling to thrive in a changed world. A merger of four associations, each with its own traditions and styles, provided an example of partnering. Combining these groups under one umbrella set an example for collaboration."

While the National Association of Black Journalists voted to pull out of the coalition, citing financial reasons, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association plan to continue with the organization and its 2012 convention in Las Vegas.

On Friday, NABJ posted "background information for more details on how the NABJ Board of Directors reached this decision," adding, "We will continue to update this page with the latest information as it becomes available."

The association scheduled a members-only teleconference for Monday from 7:30 to 9 p.m. EST.

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 BugMeNot.com 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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