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Stephen A. Smith in Inquirer After 2-Year Feud

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Sunday, February 7, 2010
Columnist Agrees to Suppress Political Views, for Now

Siempre Mujer, People en Espa?±ol Gain Circulation

Black Ex-POW Says Media's Snubs Were Hurtful

Black Editors Found This Road to Love Too Rocky

Super Bowl Sets Records for News Sales, Viewership

Ramon Escobar Named VP of News at Telemundo

C-SPAN Knocked for Rejecting "Washington Watch"

Jimmy Booker, Columnist and Harlem Insider, Dies at 83

Short Takes

Columnist Agrees to Suppress Political Views, for Now

Stephen A. Smith's sports column appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday for the first time in more than two years after Smith agreed to the Inquirer's demand that he remove political opinions from his Web site and agree to stop espousing them on cable news shows.Stephen A. Smith

Smith's agreement to the Inquirer's ethics policy - which he contends has not been applied to other news employees - applies "until the dispute is resolved by an arbitrator," Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers Association of America Local 38010, told Journal-isms.

While the capitulation, however temporary, silences Smith's views on politics, it also removes the Inquirer's rationale for not running his column.

"I'm glad the employer has done the right thing and published SAS column," Ross said via e-mail. Smith "continues to scan the sports landscape, and will continue to produce top notch columns for the Philadelphia Inquirer, that no doubt will attract readers back, who have stopped reading due to SAS long absence."

Smith's Monday column, filed from New Orleans, was about the state of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, a team with a 19-31 record. "There's absolutely nothing that tells the city of Philadelphia that this team is remotely capable of challenging for anything," he wrote.

The reappearance of Smith's column is the latest development in a dispute that began in August 2007, when Smith was demoted from sports columnist to general assignment reporter. The new editor, William R. Marimow, thought Smith was making too much money - $225,000 a year.

Smith refused to show up in a demoted status, then he was fired. In September, Smith and the Newspaper Guild won an arbitrator's ruling that the Inquirer's actions had violated its collective bargaining agreement with the Guild. Smith was ordered reinstated with back pay.

The commentator, who had branched out into broadcasting, returned to the Inquirer in November, but the Inquirer refused to publish his work. "The employer complied with the award to reinstate Smith, but on his first day back, was told in order to publish his columns, Smith would have to pledge to agree to an Inquirer code of ethics, and wanted to prohibit Smith's outside work," Ross said at the time.

Smith broke stories that he took elsewhere when the Inquirer turned them down.

The Guild filed a grievance and in December, filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking an order that the Inquirer "publish and promote Stephen A. Smith's columns" and pay him $100,000 in back pay.

Meanwhile, Smith was visible as a commentator on cable television, opining on both sports and politics, and last month began a morning drive-time show on Fox Sports Radio.

Ross said he did not know yet how often Smith's column would run. Sports Editor Jim Cohen did not respond to requests for comment.

Siempre Mujer, People en Espa?±ol Gain Circulation

Circulation rose 11.8 percent.The Spanish-language Siempre Mujer (Always a Woman) and People en Espa?±ol, the Time Inc. monthly offshoot of People Weekly, appear to be the only magazines geared toward people of color to score circulation gains in the last six months of 2009, according to new figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

"The only good news: the rate of decline is getting less steep for newsstand sales," Stephanie Clifford wrote Monday in the New York Times.

"Overall circulation, including subscriptions, fell 2.23 percent, a sharper decline than in the last two six-month periods, where subscriptions fell 1.19 percent (January to June 2009 versus the same period a year earlier) and 0.86 percent (July to December 2008 versus the same period a year earlier)."

Other magazines targeting African Americans or Hispanics reported these average circulations for the six months ending Dec. 31:

Ebony, 1,169,870, down 9.7 percent; Essence, 1,071,916, down 2.7 percent; Jet, 795,055, down 11.7 percent; People en Espa?±ol, 571,084, up 3.4 percent; Black Enterprise, 527,355, down 0.7 percent; Latina, 508,002, down 3.5 percent; Siempre Mujer, 458,873, up 11.8 percent; XXL, 191,158, down 14 percent; Sister 2 Sister, 161,122, down 11.8 percent.

O, the Oprah Magazine, which is geared toward the general market, posted a 4.8 percent increase, to 2,479,722.

Siempre Mujer, published every two months by the Meredith Corp., home of Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, Parents and other magazines, launched in September 2005. It calls itself "the first-ever lifestyle and shelter publication for Spanish-language dominant Hispanic women living in the United States." It declined 6.2 percent in newsstand sales but picked up 12.7 percent in subscriptions.

[Ruth Gaviria, vice president of Meredith Hispanic Ventures, said via e-mail on Tuesday:

["We increased our rate base to 450,000 in January 2009. We've been targeting Spanish-language dominant Hispanic women and have seen steady growth in our paid subscription acquisition and renewal programs. During the past year we have also seen growing interest from marketers who view Siempre Mujer as a desirable partner in reaching Latina women. These marketing relationships have allowed Siempre Mujer to target the right reader and grow the balance of our circulation."]

People en Espa?±ol, which launched in 1998, was the result of suggestions from Latino employees of Time Inc., Norman Pearlstein, then Time Inc. editor-in-chief, told Journal-isms in 2005. The publication circulated on a test basis in 1997, a result of the March 31, 1995, killing of the Tejano singer Selena in Corpus Christi, Texas, by the former head of her fan club.

Most Time Inc. employees did not know who Selena was, much less the extent of her following, Pearstein said, but Latino employees suggested she be put on the cover of the Southwest and Texas editions of People. The issue "sold spectacularly," Pearlstine said. But more important, he added, was the role of Latino employees in expanding Time Inc.'s horizons.

[Valerie Merlin, the magazine's vice president for consumer marketing, said via e-mail on Feb. 11, "People En Espa?±ol's circulation gain was spurred on by the growth in individually net paid subscriptions and a healthy recovery in newsstand sales vs. 1st half 2009. People En Espa?±ol‚Äôs strong newsstand performance resulted in securing and maintaining our position as the #1 Hispanic magazine at newsstand selling 10% more copies than TV Y Novelas and nearly double more copies than Cosmo, the #3 Hispanic magazine at newsstand."]

Lucia Moses has reported in Mediaweek that five rival publishing companies ‚Äî Cond?© Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Time Inc. and Wenner Media ‚Äî are collaborating on a new marketing campaign intended to promote the magazine medium as vital.

Black Ex-POW Says Media's Snubs Were Hurtful

"Shoshana Johnson survived gunshot wounds to both legs and 22 days as a Shoshana Johnson prisoner of war in Iraq. Life wasn't so easy when she came home, either," Kimberly Hefling wrote last week for the Associated Press,

"In a new book . . . the 37-year-old single mother describes mental health problems related to her captivity and tells how it felt to play second fiddle in the media to fellow POW Jessica Lynch, who was captured in the same ambush.

" 'It was kind of hurtful,' the former Army cook said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. 'If I'd been a petite, cutesy thing, it would've been different.'

"Johnson, the nation's first female black prisoner of war, said she felt she was portrayed differently because of her race, either by media outlets that chose not to cover her experience or those who portrayed her as greedy when she challenged the disability rating she was given for her post-traumatic stress disorder.

"While the story of Lynch, then 19, remains firmly in the nation's collective memory from the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, far less attention has been paid to Johnson, then 30, and four male soldiers from the 507th Maintenance Co. from Fort Bliss, Texas, who also survived captivity.

". . . Johnson's book, 'I'm Still Standing,' is being released in time for Black History Month. Johnson said she hopes that by telling her story, she can set the record straight and bring attention to mental health issues affecting veterans."

[Greg Morrison,  who directed news for the defunct Black Family Channel, told Journal-isms on Wednesday, "we made repeated attempts to talk with her. That continued until the day I left in September 2006.  Despite repeated requests neither Johnson or a family member responded. We may not have been mainstream but we stood ready to hear her side."]  [Updated Feb. 10]

Black Editors Found This Road to Love Too Rocky

The Washington Post's "On Love" feature, which tells readers how newlyweds found each other, became grist for three black editors and the paper's ombudsman when it featured Chris Whitney, 6-foot guard for the NBA's Washington Wizards, and his bride, schoolteacher Charlotta Glass.

The story "told how the former Washington Wizards guard distanced himself from Charlotta Glass after she became pregnant by him in 2002," ombudsman Andrew Alexander explained on Sunday. "For years after his son was born, Whitney had no contact with mother or child. But in 2008, retired from the NBA, he rekindled his romance with Glass and they married this past New Year's Day. The son, now 7, was his best man.

"For some readers, it was an inspiring story about a couple who made mistakes, matured and found true love. But for many others, it was about out-of-wedlock children, unprotected sex and racial stereotyping (Whitney and Glass are African American).

"Critics focused on two sentences that described the period when the couple lived separate lives after their son's birth: 'Whitney went on to have three more sons with other women. Glass adopted a teenage boy whose parents passed away and had another son of her own.'

"Online comments from readers blasted the couple and The Post. Some were so harsh that Post monitors removed them from the Web site.

". . . In The Post's newsroom, three African American editors raised concerns with superiors after the story appeared.

"Local editor Monica Norton told me she wondered about how couples were selected for 'On Love' and said the story was 'lacking in context and explanation.'

"Vanessa Williams, an editor on the Universal Desk, questioned whether the story fit the 'On Love' format.

" 'There were just too many complications, too many troubling questions,' she said. 'Kids out of wedlock, unprotected sex, abandonment. The story was jarring in that space' and might have been better as a feature of greater length elsewhere in the paper.

"Style section deputy editor Sydney Trent was concerned that it 'seemed not in the right context.' She noted that 'On Love' features often deal with struggles in relationships, 'but they are ultimately heartwarming. I did not get a heartwarming feel from this story because he had . . . sons by different women and she had two kids with different fathers. What they do is their business, but it is a social problem.' "

Alexander ruled that the story "could have benefited from an exploration of the couple's past choices and how they feel about them now. Out-of-wedlock births, single-parent households and the risks of unprotected sex are huge, hot-button societal issues. Even brief comments from Whitney and Glass would have served as acknowledgement, addressed reader curiosity and perhaps mitigated the harsh criticism."

Super Bowl Sets Records for News Sales, Viewership

Presses kept running"Monday’s Times-Picayune has already set the record for the best-selling newspaper in our 173-year history, and thanks to your love of the Saints we’re keeping the presses rolling," the New Orleans daily announced at 5:16 p.m. Monday on its Web site.

"The newspaper, featuring a 5-inch-tall 'Amen!' headline to celebrate the Saints’ Super Bowl victory, has already sold more than half-a-million copies, more than triple a normal Monday."

Meanwhile, "CBS' coverage of Super Bowl XLIV was watched by an estimated 106.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched program in television history," Marissa Guthrie added in Broadcasting & Cable. "The game, which gave the beleaguered New Orleans Saints its first Super Bowl appearance and win — eclipsed the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H for most-watched of all time.

"Immediately following the Super Bowl, CBS premiered reality show 'Undercover Boss,' which tallied 38.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched reality series premiere ever and the biggest new series debut on TV since 1987.

"The Super Bowl, which was broadcast live from Miami on CBS, averaged a 46.4 household rating/68 share, according to overnight ratings supplied by Nielsen."

Ramon Escobar Named VP of News at Telemundo

Ramon Escobar"Former Telemundo entertainment executive Ramon Escobar has been named executive VP of Telemundo Network News.

"He'll oversee all of the Spanish-language broadcaster's network news operations and will develop strategic plans for all news properties.

"Escobar will also oversee the network's domestic and international news bureaus and will develop on-air talent and communications," Michael Malone reported for Broadcasting & Cable.

"He joins Telemundo from Sucherman Consulting Group, one of the leading media consulting firms in the country, where he was Vice President of consulting for the last two years," a news release from NBC, which owns Telemundo, said.

"He worked with several major media clients in programming, news and digital media strategy. His clients included ABC News, Discovery, Animal Planet, TLC, AOL, BBC America and Rainbow Communications. Before joining Sucherman in 2007, Escobar was Senior Executive Vice President of Entertainment for Telemundo, where he led the network's programming and production strategy. He oversaw the development, production and launch of more than 35 primetime shows and specials."

C-SPAN Knocked for Rejecting "Washington Watch"

Deborah Mathis, the syndicated columnist who has appeared on TV One's "Washington Watch" Sunday talk show, noticed that Sarah Palin, "the Dona Quixote of American politics, has coined a new disparaging term for the U.S. media. At the weekend’s Tea Party Movement convention in Nashville, she referred to the major newspaper, news magazines, news radio, television and cable networks as the 'lamestream' media.' "

In her weekly column for BlackAmericaWeb.com, Mathis also noted television's Deborah Mathis"incorrigible" diversity record on the Sunday-morning talk shows, adding that "Recently, C-SPAN, which prides itself on shooting straight down the middle, explained that it would not be adding Roland Martin’s 'Washington Watch' program to its Sunday radio rebroadcasts, telling the Maynard Institute's Richard Prince that it rebroadcasts the five major networks’ Sunday talk shows 'because they regularly generate national news coverage and influence the policy debate in Washington.'

"In the few months since his show premiered on TV One, Martin has booked key congressional leaders, the chairman of the Republican National Committee and the vice president of the United States. Martin also had a one-on-one with the president himself.

"Of course, it’s hard to generate national news coverage and influence the policy debate if no one will give you the courtesy of attention.

"Samestream media is more like it."

Jimmy Booker, Columnist and Harlem Insider, Dies at 83

Jimmy Booker, a Harlem-based reporter and columnist who became executive editor of the New York Amsterdam News, the black weekly, died Friday in New York after a heart attack. He was 83.

James Booker Booker's columns, variously called "Uptown Lowdown" and "Around Town," appeared in the black press and "were informative, edgy and insightful whether it was an unfolding story in the Harlem community, City Hall, or Washington, DC," according to a family spokeswoman.

When Malcolm X met with Fidel Castro in Harlem in 1960, Booker was one of three journalists Malcolm invited to witness the occasion. Booker's wife, Jean Booker, became a longtime friend of Malcolm's wife, Betty Shabazz.

Those friendships did not mean that Booker's pieces always pleased them, however. In the 1992 book "Malcolm as They Knew Him," author David Gallen describes events leading up to Malcolm's split with the Nation of Islam in March 1964.

"About two weeks before the official announcement in the New York Times of Malcolm's break with Elijah Muhammad, the Amsterdam News printed an article by James Booker that suggested tensions inside the NOI might be widening the rift between the suspended minister of Mosque No. 7 and the leader of the black Muslims.

"The article did not please Malcolm or the NOI. Booker recounts that 'Malcolm had told me or implied there was friction between him and Elijah Muhammad, and I had heard from others close to him about the nature of the problems, and no one had told me this was off the record.

"After I wrote an item which hinted at these problems, this friction, Malcolm caught a lot of flak from within the [black Muslim] movement and he came up to the office to deny that he had said it, and he came up with about five of his guys. And while he was going into the editor's office, which was on the same floor as mine, five of his guys just stood around me. They shook up the office, they were like storm troopers. Malcolm just stormed past me. Everybody on the staff knew what it was about.

"I was a little nervous, but I knew that what I had written I had gotten directly. And for Malcolm to now deny it because of internal problems, that was not my concern. My editor did not make me retract it, and in fact, as conditions developed, two weeks later he had his official split with the movement. The next time he saw me he just gave me this wry smile."

According to a family obituary, Booker traveled the country during his 16 years with the Amsterdam News, interacting with such notables as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the Harlem congressman; and Whitney Young, director of the National Urban League.

"In 1966, he took his family to Washington, DC, as he was hired as a consultant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, and in 1968 he returned to Harlem, and opened up his own public relations business on 527 Madison Ave., James E. Booker Associates.

"Mr. Booker was a much sought after political consultant and mentor, and worked with such politicos as the late Percy E. Sutton, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, Mayor David N. Dinkins, Hon. Basil Paterson, Hon. C. Virginia Fields, Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright, and countless others. He also did PR work for the former pastor of Bethel AME Church in Harlem and retired Bishop Richard Allen Hildebrand.

"Bro. Booker retired in the 1990’s, but continued to do part-time consulting, and maintained a weekly column until 2006, the year that his wife of nearly 50 years preceded him in death. He also continued to supply a wealth of knowledge to anyone who asked and was willing to listen."

Services for James E. Booker are scheduled for Tuesday at First Bethel AME Church, 52 W. 132nd St. in Manhattan, with viewing between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. and the funeral service at 7 p.m.

Short Takes

  • "CNN's Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta are returning to Haiti after a week back in the United States. The decision was made over the weekend. Cooper will again report for 'AC360' from Port-au-Prince this week, something he did for roughly two and a half weeks following the devastating earthquake," Kevin Allocca reported Monday for MediaBistro.
  • "Former New York 1 political anchor Dominic Carter has been released from jail early ‚Äî as a new report revealed he was first arrested for beating and choking his wife 13 years ago," Christina Boyle wrote Friday for the New York Daily News. "The TV newsman, who was tossed into the clink in Rockland County on Jan. 14, walked free Tuesday on good behavior. It was 11 days before the official end of his 30-day sentence in a domestic violence case."
  • Teri Okita, laid off from her correspondent's job in the Los Angeles office of CBS Newspath is not yet sure what she's going to do next, Erika Engle reported Sunday in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. "The local girl and former KGMB-TV reporter/anchor" said her contract was to end in April, and she had already talked with the network about leaving after her 10th anniversary, but "it came as a surprise that it happened now."
  • Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times, rejected public editor Clark Hoyt's recommendation to remove Ethan Bronner from the Jerusalem Bureau because his son is serving in the Israeli military. "It‚Äôs not just that we value the expertise and integrity of a journalist who has covered this most difficult of stories extraordinarily well for more than a quarter century," Keller said in Hoyt's Sunday column. "It‚Äôs not just that we are reluctant to capitulate to the more savage partisans who make that assignment so difficult ‚Äî and who make the fairmindedness of a correspondent like Ethan so precious and courageous. . . ."
  • The Atlanta Voice newspaper apologized to readers for running the piece "Fulton County Commission rolls the ‚Äòdice‚Äô on the budget" in its Jan. 29-Feb. 4 issue under the byline Maynard Eaton. "The article was submitted to The Atlanta Voice as the original work of Mr. Eaton. We have since found out via Mr. Eaton‚Äôs admission that this was indeed not the case."
  • "Andrea Wong has finalized a deal to exit as president and CEO of Lifetimes Networks," Marisa Guthrie reported Friday for Broadcasting & Cable. "Wong's exit from the cable service has been widely expected in the wake of the network's acquisition by A&E Television Networks."
  • A free Webinar on "The Erosion of Press Freedom in North America" is scheduled Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, sponsored by the Donald J. Reynolds Institute at the University of Missouri. Panelists are to be Toni Locy, Donald W. Reynolds professor of legal reporting at Washington & Lee University; Philip Gailey, retired editor of editorials, St. Petersburg¬† (Fla.) Times; Stuart Loory, Lee Hills chair in free-press studies at the Missouri School of Journalism; Milton Coleman, senior editor, the Washington Post; and Charles Davis, executive director, National Freedom of Information Coalition. See Web site for details.
  • "Freedom to information is enshrined as a fundamental human right by the United Nations, and upheld by the African Charter on Human and People's Rights," Mohamed Keita wrote last week for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "However, to this date, only five countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Uganda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Angola) have passed freedom of information legislation, according to Mukelani Dimba, the deputy chief executive officer of the South Africa-based Open Democracy Advice Centre and an expert on the topic."
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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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Comments

they are trying to keep

they are trying to keep stephen a. on a ideological plantation. this is why you are never really free until you own the content/network. big difference between being an anchor on cnn or any of these networks and being Oprah.

The Washington Post's "On Love" feature

Willing to bet the Writer/Editor of that Chris/Charlotta "love" feature was not African-American. It's the same syndrome that will "hype" a movie like "Precious" while ignoring equally fine Actors/performances in "The Great Debaters." (Who wants to see/praise upward-lifting African-Americans who excel socially and academically)? Obviously not the mainstream media. Whatever negative pathology that may pertain to African-Americans, continually gets exalted and glorified by white, mainstream media, no matter what the platform: newspapers, movies, publishing, etc., et al. If memory serves me correctly, "Man Child In The Promised Land" (Claude Brown) was raved-over by the same media back then (1960s) while Barry Beckham's far-superior exploration of familial love, class, race, survival-coming-of-age in his amazing first novel "My Main Mother" hardly drew a peep. "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

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