Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

"I'm Trying Not to Be Bitter"

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Photographer Among 5 of Color Laid Off at Dallas Paper

The Dallas Morning News gave pink slips to at least five journalists of color on Friday as the parent A.H. Belo Corp. announced a series of cost-cutting moves.

"After the most recent job cuts -- including a number of layoffs on Friday -- The News has a newsroom of fewer than 350 people, compared with more than 390 in July," Brendan M. Case reported for the newspaper on Friday.

Those laid off included Tina Pania, assistant international editor; Milton Hinnant, veteran photographer; Eric Garcia, an editor on the metro desk;  David Hinojosa, who covered high school sports, and food writer Joyce Saenz Harris, according to the journalists affected or their colleagues.

"I'm trying not to be bitter about it and take it in stride," Hinnant, 63, told Journal-isms. He had been at the newspaper for 24 years, arriving from the Charlotte Observer in his native North Carolina. On Friday, "one of the editors called me up and said, 'Meet with the director,'" referring to the photo director, Hinnant recalled. "I went down and confronted her and said, 'Am I being laid off?' and she said, 'Yeah.'" The human resources department gave him a package and a few days to study it.

Milton HinnantHinnant said his retirement benefits would not be affected. "I'm kicking around some ideas. It will still involve photography," he said. "For me, there's a certain amount of bitterness, there's disappointment," he acknowledged, but "you just want to go on and see what you can do next. I'm 63, I hadn't planned to work that many more years anyway."

He also echoed words by newspaper analyst John Morton in the News' own story, who said of newspapers' continual staff cutting, "You can't do that forever without harming the product, which I think is what is starting to happen in a lot of places."

[Garcia, 41, said Thursday he had been at the paper for 17 years, starting as a clerk. He arrived from the Dallas Times Herald in 1991, four days after that paper folded. He said he might like to go back to writing, and he would also enjoy working with young reporters.

["Yes, I was among the 22 newsroom people who were laid off last Friday at
the Dallas Morning News," Harris said Thursday.

["I had been there more than 25 years and was one of the two Hispanic
journalists left in the lifestyle/arts department. I was a food writer
for the past four years and previously had been a lifestyle writer, as
well as a fashion writer, assistant fashion editor and lifestyles copy
editor. I have also worked at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and at the
Boston Globe.

["Now, I plan to complete a half-finished novel before I do some
freelancing. My husband, Stephen Harris, is still at the News, where he has worked for
more than 30 years. He's a GA editor on the Metro desk. This has been a difficult time, but great support from colleagues and friends has made it more bearable."]

Pania said she had been at the paper eight years and nine months.

Editor Bob Mong did not respond to a request for comment.

"A.H. Belo's latest cost-cutting measures come on the heels of a 13 percent personnel reduction announced in July," Case's story said. "The company expects to achieve annual savings of nearly $30 million from the staff cuts, including $24 million from the voluntary departure of 412 employees and $5 million from the layoff of 90 people."

The cuts also affected the other Belo newspaper properties: the Providence (R.I.) Journal, the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif., and the Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle. [Updated Oct. 31]

More L.A. Times Names Surface; Diversity Questioned

"Daniel Hernandez is a former L.A. Times staff writer now working on a book in Mexico City. He's watching the continued outflow of talent from the paper and wonders, as others have this week, how a staff with fewer and fewer journalists who look like the city can possibly begin to grasp Los Angeles," Kevin Roderick wrote Wednesday on his L.A. Observed Web site.

His site and the O.C. Weekly's R. Scott Moxley named additional journalists of color laid off last week: Francisco Vara-Orta, Metro reporter and graduate of the paper's Metpro diversity program; H.G. (Gil) Reza, a bilingual Mexican-American reporter and Vietnam veteran who wrote for the Orange County edition; Swati Pandey, business writer who had just moved from the Opinion section in July; and Karen Tapia, staff photographer.

Roderick quoted from Hernandez's blog: "One of the most remarkable stories I read in the Los Angeles Times this year was a look at a small community of immigrants from Mexico's Costa Chica centered in Pasadena. The story, published in April, gave us a fascinating dose of nuance for a region long accustomed to overwrought tales of 'brown vs. black' violence and tension. Veteran metro reporter and editor John L. Mitchell wrote the piece. This week he was named among 75 editorial staffers at the LAT who were bought out or fired.

"Mitchell will no longer be bringing L.A. and world readers stories such as these at a time when we need smart community journalism the most. Neither will Francisco Vara-Orta, a young staffer just starting out his career. Or Lynelle George. Or Agustin Gurza. And these are just a few names from this recent round of cuts at the LAT, the third so far this year. Add to them Connie Kang, Lorenza Mu?±oz, Cheryl Brownstein-Santiago, Sergio Mu?±oz, Solomon Moore, Sam Enriquez, Caitlin Liu, Gayle Pollard-Terry, Frank Sotomayor, Camilo Smith, Barbara Serrano, Daniel Yi, Martha Flores, Evelyn Iritani, Mike Terry, Jocelyn Y. Stewart, Mai Tran, Joe Hutchinson, Janet Clayton, and many others, all journalists of color who have left around or since the departures of former editors John Carroll and Dean Baquet. . . . "

"In the end it's not so much the color of people's faces or their surnames that count, but their ability as journalists to connect dots for the daily news report across cultures, languages, borders, and disparate neighborhoods -- which, really, is what life in L.A. is all about. . . ."

Meanwhile, sports copy editor Paul Netter told Journal-isms he was one of those laid off by the Times in July. Netter was the only African American editor in the Sports section. "I'm reassessing newspapers," Netter said. He had been at the paper for 14¬? years, arriving from the Miami Herald. "I am available for everything," he said of job opportunities, not limiting himself to Los Angeles.

Gannett to Cut 10% of Workers as Its Profit Slips

"The Gannett Company, the nation's largest newspaper chain, will lay off about 10 percent of its work force by early December, company executives said on Tuesday, a few days after Gannett disclosed another sharp drop in revenue and earnings," Richard P?©rez-Pe?±a reported¬†Tuesday in the New York Times.

"The layoffs will not apply to the company's flagship paper, USA Today, but to the company's 84 other daily newspapers in the United States, and more than 800 small, nondaily local papers. The announcement does not include Gannett's hundreds of small papers in Britain.

"Gannett declined to say how many people would lose their jobs. The 10 percent figure translates to roughly 3,000 people, but Tara O'Connell, the corporate vice president in charge of communications, said the calculation was not as simple as laying off one-tenth of those people.

"'It's really a target amount of money each paper has to cut,' which the company will not discuss, and there are multiple ways of arriving at it, she said. Each paper has until mid-November to arrive at a plan, and until then, 'we don't know how it's going to play out,' she said.

"Even so, it appears to be the single largest example of the industry's recent wave of downsizing."

Flush with campaign cash, Barack Obama paid for a half-hour infomercial that aired Wednesday night on seven networks, at a cost of $100,000 a minute.

GOP Accuses L.A. Times of Suppressing Video

"Alleging media bias in favor of Democrats, Senator John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin seized Wednesday on The Los Angeles Times's refusal to release a five-year-old videotape of Barack Obama at a dinner honoring a Palestinian rights advocate," Richard P?©rez-Pe?±a reported¬†Wednesday for the New York Times.

"The video shows a gathering in Chicago for Rashid Khalidi, a teacher, writer and Obama friend who is critical of Israel. Mr. Obama spoke at the dinner, where other speakers likened Israel and Israelis to terrorists. The McCain campaign said the tape could show how Mr. Obama reacted to anti-Israel remarks.

"Mr. Khalidi, now a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, opposes Israel's occupation of territory it seized in the 1967 war and has defended Palestinian resistance to the occupation. He advised a Palestinian delegation at a 1991 peace conference and has written several books on the Middle East.

"The Los Angeles Times said it had been given the video on the condition that it not be shown to anyone else. In an article published in April, the paper disclosed the tape's existence and described the dinner. The article said that in a speech there, Mr. Obama spoke of frequent discussions with Mr. Khalidi and dinners at his home, and also called on the people of the Middle East to find common ground."

Race Fear vs. Money Anxiety Said to Be at Play

"What's more scary: a bleak economy or a black president? The two ideas converge in a small but influential group of voters who fear that if elected, Barack Obama would give blacks preferential treatment just when all of America needs help in financial hard times," Jesse Washington, the Associated Press' national writer on race and ethnicity, wrote on Tuesday.

"Some of Obama's success thus far against John McCain is due to his casting himself as a 'post-racial' candidate who would fight for the middle class and represent everyone equally. The Democratic nominee also says that affirmative action should be extended to low-income whites and exclude privileged minorities like his two daughters.

"But the collision between economic worries and fear of a black president most often occurs in middle- and lower-class swing voters, a coveted demographic in this tight election, polls show. The sentiment also hints at racial hurdles that would arise if Obama does become the nation's first black chief executive."

Vanity Fair Wants Records of McCain Crash

"For the past two months, a major American magazine and an allied news service have been engaged in a legal battle with the United States Navy over records that they believe show that John McCain once was involved in an automobile accident that injured or, perhaps, killed another individual," Sam Stein reported on the Huffington Post Web site.

"Vanity Fair magazine and the National Security News Service claim to have knowledge 'developed from first-hand sources' of a car crash that involved then-Lt. McCain at the main gate of a Virginia naval base in 1964, according to legal filings. The incident has been largely, if not entirely, kept from the public. And in documents suing the Navy to release pertinent information, lawyers for the NS News Service allege that a cover-up may be at play."

To Business Editors: "Find a Minority Journalist"

Chris Roush at the University of North Carolina (credit: UNC)."Here's my request: Every business editor in the country should find a minority journalist –- whether it's in their newsroom or somewhere else -– and recruit them to cover business and the economy.

"Yes, you may have to do some training to get them up to speed, but in the long run, it'll be worth it," Chris Roush wrote Tuesday on businessjournalism.org, a Web site of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University.

"Diversity is important to business news coverage because the white men and women who dominate most business desks don't understand the issues and struggles that face many minority businesses. Because they don't understand, they often don't look for those stories.

"But diversity goes beyond that. With corporate America doing a better job of hiring and promoting minority executives, such as American Express CEO Ken Chenault, business news needs to be able to show we're making the same strides. Otherwise, we won't be taken seriously."

Roush, who administers the Web site "Talking Biz News," is Walter S. Hussman Sr. Distinguished Scholar in business journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Roush is also director of the Carolina Business News Initiative, which offers a certificate in business journalism for undergraduate students and training for professionals, and he is a lead trainer for the Reynolds Center.

His piece references the Oct. 22 Journal-isms column, "Will Economy Story Make Business Journalism Sexy?"  

Short Takes

  • Zachary Stauffer, a recent graduate from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, has produced a half-hour documentary on the life of slain Oakland, Calif., journalist Chauncey Bailey, the growth in influence of Your Black Muslim Bakery and its effects on the Bailey murder case, according to Reporters Without Borders, which interviewed¬†the filmmaker. Stauffer did his master's thesis on Bailey's killing. The film, "A Day Late in Oakland," was screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival in California on Oct. 11 and earned the North Gate Prize in Documentary Excellence.
  • ¬†Rocio GarzaRocio Garza, a former morning show personality at KBTV-TV in Beaumont, Texas, has filed suit against the station, claiming it is requiring her to pay $10,000 to resign, Kelly Holleran reported¬†in the Southeast Texas Record on Thursday. "Garza claims she became unhappy with the progress she was making at her job as an on-air performer in early 2008, but was told by the station's new general manager, Chris Pruitt, that she would be required to pay $10,000 if she decided to leave," the story said.
  • "City of Detroit lawyer Ellen Ha won't face professional misconduct charges for her handling of Free Press's public records requests that revealed the existence of a secret side agreement to last year's $8.4-million settlement of a police whistle-blower lawsuit and eventually brought down Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick," David Ashenfelter reported¬†Wednesday in the Free Press.
  • "D.L. Hughley Breaks News," the comedian's new CNN comedy show, might have been hammered by many as unfunny and engaging in offensive stereotypes, but it beat its cable competition in its time slot Saturday during the 10 p.m. ¬†Eastern time premiere and the 1 a.m. re-air, Media Bistro reported¬†
  • Reporters Without Borders said¬†Wednesday it was appalled by the abduction and mistreatment of reporter Pedro Mat??as Arrazola of the local Mexican daily Noticias de Oaxaca and the national weekly Proceso. He was beaten and psychologically tortured for about 12 hours on the night of Oct. 25 in the southern city of Oaxaca before being dumped outside the city, the organization said.
  • The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has condemned¬†the Oct. 23 removal of seven proofs from the Sudanese newspaper Ajras Al Hurriya by an intelligence officer responsible for proof censorship. "This action so outraged the newspaper that it suspended its circulation for the day as a protest against the blatant censorship," the network said. "The proofs addressed the issues of abducted Chinese citizens and the crisis in Darfur, and criticized the Sudanese president's statement excluding some Sudanese tribes from holding citizenship, amongst other controversial views."
  • "Editors and reporters from various media organisations yesterday protested against the recent three-month ban imposed on Mwanahalisi Newspaper by the Government," the Citizen in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, reported¬†on Tuesday. "For the first time in the history of Tanzania, local journalists expressed open outrage in the streets against the government accusing it of trying to stifle media freedom."

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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