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Inquirer Given 15 Days to Rehire Smith

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Arbitrator Orders Philly Newspaper to End Its Delay

An arbitrator has given the Philadelphia Inquirer 15 days to rehire sports columnist Stephen A. Smith and said he is entitled to a six-figure sum in back pay, Journal-isms has learned.Stephen A. Smith

Arbitrator Richard R. Kasher told Journal-isms he issued an award on Tuesday. On Aug. 31, he found the Inquirer had acted in violation of the Newspaper Guild contract and gave the two sides 60 days to negotiate appropriate compensation for Smith, a 13-year employee who in August 2007 was removed as a sports columnist and then fired when he did not return to work as a general-assignment reporter.

However, Dan Gross, president of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, Local 10, told Journal-isms last week, ". . . Inquirer management has dragged its feet and so far has refused to bring Mr. Smith back to work."

And despite Kasher's ruling on Tuesday, Gross said Thursday that he is not changing his statement.

One of Smith's lawyers, Johnine Barnes of Baker & Hostetler, told Journal-isms on Thursday that Smith "is happy to be getting back to doing one of the things that he loves most, which is writing, but we're not going to comment on the award, which speaks for itself."

It could not be determined whether the arbitration ruling specifically requires the Inquirer to return Smith to his general sports column or whether the Inquirer would still attempt to place him in a job less to his liking. Although the opinionated and outspoken Smith elicits strong reactions, he has become well known through national broadcasts and developed a range of contacts for such a role.

In his original ruling, Kasher said testimony from Inquirer Editor William Marimow "persuaded him that Smith's . . . treatment was 'motivated, at least in part if not substantial part, because Mr. Marimow believed that Mr. Smith was being overpaid," according to an account of the ruling by Andy Zipser in the Guild Reporter, a national Newspaper Guild publication. Smith was the Inquirer's most highly paid staffer.

"Kasher gave the two sides 60 days in which to 'reach an appropriate remedy' or accept his final disposition in the matter," Zipser wrote. But those talks were producing no resolution.

Marimow has previously referred questions to Michael Lorenca, vice president for human resources, who has not been available.

Vivian SchillerNational Public Radio CEO Vivian Schiller, shown in a new official photo, says she wants the National Association of Black Journalists to make its members 'aware of every job opening at NPR today and in the future.' (Credit: NPR)

NPR Chief Executive Replies to NABJ: "We Are Examining Our Overall Diversity Status Critically"

National Public Radio's chief executive declared Thursday that "we are examining our overall diversity status critically" and produced NPR's own set of figures about the makeup of its staff.

Vivian Schiller, who became NPR's chairman and CEO 10 months ago, was responding to a letter this week from Kathy Times, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, and Bob Butler, NABJ's vice president/broadcast. They, in turn, were reacting in part to NPR's firing of Greg Peppers, one of two black men in National Public Radio's newsroom management.

NABJ's strongly worded letter questioned the network's commitment to diversity, saying, "It is NABJ’s belief that actions speak much louder than your words."

NABJ's figures showed, "Of the 68 members on your corporate team and behind-the-scenes staff, only eight are people of color. . . . The minority population of the United States is approximately 32 percent."

Schiller replied, "I am on the record with the media and our employees, stations, and board in acknowledging that NPR must take a leadership position in diversity, just as we do in high-quality journalism and digital innovation."

She added that, "We've broadened our focus towards making ALL NPR programs and web content relevant and interesting to diverse audiences. Our push to bring public radio content to mobile devices . . . is taking public radio to audiences of all ages, including younger audiences that tend to be more diverse."

And she said that "the definition of diversity includes not only race and ethnicity, but also socioeconomic background, political perspective, gender and sexual identity, age, geography, point of view and a multitude of other factors that may not be obvious or measured."

She gave this diversity profile of the network — publicly releasing NPR's staff composition for the first time, according to ombudsman Alicia Shepard — and adding that she was disappointed in some of the figures:
  • "NPR has 506 management, editorial, production, and on-air positions. Of these, 22.5% ‚Äî or 114 positions ‚Äî are filled by staff that self-identify as people of color.
  • "Nearly 24% of our management pool of 199 is staffed by people of color; however our upper management group is not very diverse (11.8%).
  • "Over 22% of our 58 news and programming managers are people of color, and 14% of the total news/programming managers are African American. Of our total news/programming staff of 313, nearly 24% are people of color, and 13% are African American. Yet our on-air staff, which includes hosts, reporters, and correspondents, is not on par with the rest of news and programming (16.9%).
  • "People of color comprise 27.3% of NPR's total staff of 754.
"Am I satisfied with these numbers? No, I'd like to see them rise in the coming years, and I am working to make that happen," Schiller wrote.

The CEO said she would take up NABJ on its offer to be a resource, and said, "you can help us by making your membership aware of every job opening at NPR today and in the future . . . I and all of us at NPR continue to support and applaud NABJ's efforts to extend diversity throughout media."

In her column posted late Thursday, ombudsman Shepard evaluated Schiller's response. "Out of 32 million people listening to public radio — not just NPR — on 800 stations, 12 percent are African Americans and 10 percent are Hispanics, according to Arbitron for spring 2009," Shepard wrote.

"For NPR's flagship programs — Morning Edition and All Things Considered — the listenership is lower. Five percent of African Americans and 4 percent of Hispanics listen to those shows, according to NPR-provided data. (That compares with 18 percent African Americans and 25 percent Hispanics listening to all radio.)

"NPR needs to do better in diversifying its staff, especially in management. Another concern not addressed by NABJ or Schiller is that the only on-air African American male is Juan Williams, who is not a staff employee. . . .

"The lack of diversity within NPR's management was apparent to me when I first joined NPR in October 2007. Since then, there have been diversity meetings, committees, surveys, and they all conclude the same thing: NPR must focus on diversifying its staff, especially if NPR wants to better reflect the population and continue to expand its audience.

"Schiller recently put together yet another new committee to explore how to better diversify the staff. She joined NPR only 10 months ago, and I hope she has more success."

Roy DeCarava, Art Photographer and Journalist, Dies

Roy DeCarava (Credit: Sherry Turner DeCarava)"Roy DeCarava, an art photographer whose pictures of everyday life in Harlem helped clarify the African American experience for a wider audience, has died. He was 89," Mary Rourke wrote Thursday for the Los Angeles Times.

"He died Tuesday in New York City, his daughter Wendy DeCarava said. The cause was not given.

"DeCarava (pronounced Dee-cuh-RAH-vah) photographed Harlem during the 1940s, '50s and '60s with an insider's view of the subway stations, restaurants, apartments and especially the people who lived in the predominantly African American neighborhood.

"He also was well known for his candid shots of jazz musicians — many of them taken in smoky clubs using only available light. Shadow and darkness became hallmarks of DeCarava's style.

"DeCarava told National Public Radio in a 1996 interview that when he started taking pictures 'there were no black images of dignity, no images of beautiful black people. There was this big hole. I tried to fill it.'

"He did not ignore the problems of the black community, but usually addressed them in subtle ways. One of his best known photographs shows a young woman in a long white gown and a corsage who stands in rubble outside a tenement house. She is in sunlight, facing shadows. The image raises obvious questions about her future.

"Gordon Parks, seven years older than DeCarava, broke the color line in photojournalism in the 1940s, shooting for Life, Look and other national magazines. James VanDerZee became known beyond the black community for his portraits of middle-class African Americans that offer glimpses into Harlem in the 1920s and '30s. But DeCarava's interest in photography as art led him in another direction.

"The images he took in 1952 "became a book, 'The Sweet Flypaper of Life' (1955), with text by Langston Hughes, the foremost black poet of his time."

". . . Art photography remained his passion, but DeCarava supported himself as a freelance photojournalist.

"Starting in the late 1950s, he shot for Look, Newsweek, Life and as a contract photographer for Sports Illustrated from 1968 to 1975. He photographed artists, musicians and sports stars.

"His experience as a photojournalist left a bitter taste, he later said. It led him to serve as chairman of the American Society of Magazine Photographers' Committee to End Discrimination Against Black Photographers from 1963 to 1966."

"'When I was trying to sell my photographs, I would take them to art directors and they were literally shaking when they saw my work,' DeCarava said in an interview with 'CBS Sunday Morning' in 1996. His work and self-confidence stirred fear, disbelief, even anger. 'They were not used to seeing black artists walk through the door with a portfolio of photographs.'"

Dominic Carter, right, with Bob Schieffer on CBS-TV's "Face the Nation" in January. (Video)

N.Y. Anchor Yanked After Wife-Beating Accusation

"TV newsman Dominic Carter was yanked off the air Thursday after he was accused of beating his wife while calling her a 'dumb, stupid, project bitch,'" Jill Colvin, Katie Nelson and Corky Siemaszko reported in the New York Daily News.

"NY1's high-profile political anchor was placed on an 'indefinite leave of absence' just days before the hard-fought mayoral election he had been covering.

"'Dominic will not be appearing on New York One,' said NY1's general manager, Steve Paulus.

"Paulus dropped the hammer on Carter the same day his wife, Marilyn, told a Rockland County judge she lied when she claimed her husband attacked her last October.

"With his job on the line and his reputation in tatters, Carter pleaded with Justice Arnold Etelson to issue a ruling in his favor.

"'In the court of public opinion, if I leave here without an opinion, my career is over,' he said.

"Etelson was not moved by Carter's words and asked the lawyers to submit legal briefs by Nov. 19.

"Carter, 45, left the court with his wife by his side.

"'I am sticking by him with this,' said Marilyn Carter, 52.

"The ugly accusations come at an especially bad time for Carter, whose 'Inside City Hall' program is a must-watch for pols and political junkies and who moderated the Oct. 13 mayoral debate."

Freelancers, Bloggers Covered in New Shield Bill

"A new version of a federal shield law has been released by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) that apparently breaks the logjam and could pave the way for a vote on the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee," John Eggerton reported Friday for Broadcasting & Cable.

"The bill provides journalists a limited protection from having to give up their sources to the feds.

"Among the changes to the Free Flow of Information Act are preserving a public interest balancing test in most cases, though with a carveout for 'leaks with the potential for prospective harms.' It also removes a requirement that those covered by the shield be salaried employees or independent contractors for a particular media organization. That should mean the bill will cover freelancers and bloggers.'"

Fox News Channel Viewed as Most Ideological

"The Fox News Channel is viewed by Americans in more ideological terms than other television news networks. And while the public is evenly divided in its view of hosts of cable news programs having strong Credit: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press political opinions, more Fox News viewers see this as a good thing than as a bad thing," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported on Thursday.

"Nearly half of Americans (47%) say they think of Fox News as 'mostly conservative,' 14% say it is 'mostly liberal,' and 24% say it is 'neither in particular.' Opinion about the ideological orientation of other TV news outlets is more mixed: while many view CNN and the three broadcast networks as mostly liberal, about the same percentages say they are neither in particular. However, somewhat more say MSNBC is mostly liberal than say it is neither in particular, by 36% to 27%.

" . . . Fully 60% of Republicans say the press is not critical enough" of President Obama, "while nearly as many Democrats see coverage of Obama as too critical (41%) as fair (44%). Among political independents, about as many say the coverage has been fair (38%) as not critical enough (35%)."

Pakistan Advances Legislation to Restrict Media

"On a day when Western media focused on the ramifications of the official visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Islamabad, I got a heads-up email message from Mazhar Abbas in Islamabad this morning," Bob Dietz, Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, wrote.

"He is worried about proposed legislation that passed Thursday through the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Information — which is headed by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party. The committee has recommended that a new law be passed that would set restrictions on media, including a ban on live coverage of events the government doesn't want to see on the air."

AP Colleagues Honor Mike McQueen in New Orleans

Mike McQueenAbout 100 people attended funeral services on a rainy Friday evening at St. Anna's Episcopal Church, just outside New Orleans' French Quarter, to pay tribute to Mike McQueen, the Associated Press bureau chief in New Orleans who died Sunday at 52 from complications of cancer and congestive heart failure.

Separately, a Mike McQueen Scholarship Fund has been created by the Society of Professional Journalists, the South Florida Times reported. McQueen was a longtime SPJ member, serving on its South Florida chapter board of directors from 1997 to 1998,

A South Florida memorial service for McQueen is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Wolfe University Center Ballroom at Florida International University, 3000 N.E. 151st St., North Miami, FL 33181, the weekly newspaper said. Bradley Bennett, the paper's executive editor, is to lead the service. McQueen was a former chair of the journalism and broadcasting sequence of Florida International's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

At the New Orleans service, Hank Ackerman, retired former AP Louisiana/Mississippi bureau chief, took the pulpit to reflect on his co-worker and friend, Brian Schwaner, the AP's Louisiana news editor, reported for Journal-isms.

McQueen, he said, "had multiple manifestations of the spirit of common good in him, and he shared them with us." Recounting McQueen's career, from its beginning as a journalist for the Tallahassee Democrat in 1977, through Pulitzer Prize-winning work for several newspapers, Ackerman called him "a gifted editor and writer, with a passion for mending a broken phrase."

Ackerman shared a letter to staff from Kathleen Carroll, Associated Press executive editor.

"It is hard to say we were lucky to know Mike McQueen on the day that we mourn his too-early passing. But we were lucky," she wrote.

"He led the nomadic life that so many journalists do, but Mike seemed to forge special relationships in every newsroom he called home. Colleagues who remember his dedication and his kindness. Younger journalists who learned both from his example and his individual counsel. Even competitors who knew that he competed fiercely but fairly.

"Mike came to the AP when Louisiana and Mississippi had been badly wounded by storms. You were giving your all to the story but the story sometimes seemed to have no end. The members we serve were hurting, too.

"Other people would have blanched at such an assignment; would have found the challenges too hard.

"Not Mike. He embraced them with gusto.

"I remember being in the newsroom when Mike came in, grinning that big grin, and the room just relaxed. It hadn't been tense, mind you. Mike just created that atmosphere that made everybody exhale and smile.

"Mike had that capacity even on his darkest days, and there were too many of those in recent years. The terrible loss of his son," former Army Ranger Michael McQueen II, killed in the suburban Washington apartment he shared with a fellow Ranger, "and then the decline of his own health . . . well, it's just unfair and that's the truth.

"I know that you all helped lift him up from time to time in that way that fine AP men and women do. I hope that the affection and respect we all feel for Mike will be of some small comfort to Glenda and Otto," his wife and son, "in the days ahead. And that your own memories of a good man . . . a GOOD MAN . . . will keep Mike alive in the hearts AP staffers for many years to come. "

In Washington, other McQueen friends gathered to toast the AP's only African American bureau chief at the restaurant extension of the famed Ben's Chili Bowl. Veteran journalist Vernon Smith, formerly of the Dallas Morning News, organized the group.

Those who wish to donate to the Mike McQueen Scholarship Fund set up by SPJ may send a check to chapter administrator Tim Dodson at Tim Dodson Strategic Communications, 780 NE 69th Street, Suite 807, Miami, FL 33138-5745, the South Florida Times said.

"Checks should be made out to the Society of Professional Journalists and 'Mike McQueen Scholarship Fund' should be included below on the subject line. For more information, call Tim Dodson at 305-756-0735."

Short Takes

  • New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell is creating buzz with "Offensive Play: How different are dogfighting and football?" in the Oct. 19 issue. The blurb reads, "An offensive lineman can‚Äôt do his job without 'using his head,' one veteran says, but neuropathologists examining the brains of ex-N.F.L. players have found trauma-related degeneration." Gladwell writes, "Much of the attention in the football world, in the past few years, has been on concussions ‚Äî on diagnosing, managing, and preventing them ‚Äî and on figuring out how many concussions a player can have before he should call it quits. But a football player‚Äôs real issue isn‚Äôt simply with repetitive concussive trauma. It is, as the concussion specialist Robert Cantu argues, with repetitive subconcussive trauma. It‚Äôs not just the handful of big hits that matter. It‚Äôs lots of little hits, too."
  • "The Baltimore Sun filed a lawsuit against the city police Wednesday, alleging that the agency 'routinely ignores' requests for public information and demands high fees for records when pressed to provide them," the Sun reported on Thursday. "The Sun's complaint alleges that the Baltimore Police Department ignored seven applications by reporters to see records, from a file on a closed homicide case to a list of lawsuits filed against the police."
  • "A gunshot struck the home of CNN anchor Lou Dobbs this month, and police in New Jersey are trying to determine whether the bullet was fired intentionally or was a stray," Joe Sterling reported Thursday for CNN.
  • "Araceli de Le??n, who was named President and General Manager of Telemundo stations KTAZ-39 and KHRR-40 in Phoenix and Tucson in May of 2008, has been handed the reins of 2 more stations," Veronica Villafa?±e wrote Friday on her Media Moves site. "Promoted to Regional Vice President and General Manager, she will now also oversee sales, news, programming, marketing and operations of KBLR-40 in Las Vegas and KDEN-25 in Denver."
  • Jose MoralesWNJU, the NBC-owned Telemundo Spanish-language station in the New York market, "has named Jose Morales to the newly created position of vice president of content. Morales will oversee the day-to-day operations of the content center, both broadcast and digital, streamlining all content created locally regardless of who produces it," TVNewsCheck reported on Friday. The network this month eliminated 40 full-time positions, including that of Hugo Balta, the news director of WNJU-TV, and said it would create the vice president of content position there.
  • "Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a lawyer who leaked racy text messages to the Detroit Free Press and kicked off a scandal that brought down Kilpatrick's administration and sent him to jail," the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. "The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, cites recent testimony by attorney Mike Stefani before a disciplinary board that he leaked the messages to the newspaper." Separately, Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley writes that there are "two Kwame Kilpatricks."
  • The blog Latina Lista relaunched Wednesday as an online niche news destination, according to a news release. "Founded by syndicated journalist Marisa Trevino, Latina Lista's editorial mission is to elevate the voices of Latinas/os by featuring stories about or of interest to Hispanic readers, not found in mainstream media."
  • Sekou SmithSekou Smith, NBA Atlanta Hawks beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is joining as a columnist. He will make contributions to NBA-TV, most likely on "The Beat," a weekly show with NBA reporters hosted by Marc Fein and David Aldridge, an spokeswoman said.
  • A'Lelia Bundles, great-great-granddaughter and biographer of black hair-care pioneer Madam C.J. Walker, wrote of Chris Rock's documentary, "It‚Äôs clear 'Good Hair' will not change the way most black women feel about their hair. But in my dreams I wish Mr. Rock‚Äôs movie would create a discussion so revolutionary and so game-changing that thousands of black women across America would learn to love their hair, care for their hair and be so confident of their beauty they wouldn‚Äôt crave weaves and 'creamy crack.'‚Äù¬† Bundles was a journalist at NBC and ABC. In the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal, columnist Betty Winston Bay?©, citing her own experiences, expresses similar sentiments.
  • Jerry Mitchell, the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger reporter and "genius grant" winner whose investigations have helped solve civil-rights era crimes, "says he has had offers to move on to larger newspapers ‚Äî The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution among them ‚Äî but turned them down because he wants assurance he could stay on his beat: 'I want to be here at least until the story is done,'" Joe Strupp reported in Editor & Publisher. "These days, neither his recent awards nor threats will stop Mitchell. He says he has a book in the works about digging up such stories, and he's working with several other journalists on The Civil Rights Cold Case Project with the Center for Investigative Reporting."
  • "As Morocco prepares to host a regional conference on freedom and democracy, the government of King Mohamed VI is censoring newspapers and jailing journalists," the Committee to Protect Journalists said. It urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who visits the country next week, to pressure the government to end the crackdown.

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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Roy DeCarava

I discovered Roy DeCarava in the mid 1990s when I came across a copy of "Sweet Flypaper of Life" in a second-hand bookstore in Austin, Texas. It's one of my favorites and remains on my coffee table to this day, so many years later. Condolences to his family.

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