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Inquirer Turns Down Stephen A. Smith Scoop

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Columnist Breaks Iverson Retirement Story Elsewhere

Give Thanks: In Philippines, They Mourn - Toll of Massacred Journalists Rises to 26

"In That Case, I'll Just Kill Your Entire Family"

Politico's Henderson Dishes on Obama's State Dinner

CNN Says Job With RNC Won't Disqualify Castellanos

Telemundo Reorganization Could Mean Job Losses

Dobbs Camp Floats Trial Balloons About Runs for Office

Baltimore Anchor Terry Owens Takes Buyout Offer

Why They Have Tabloids: His Dad's Charles Manson

Short Takes

Columnist Breaks Iverson Retirement Story Elsewhere

Stephen A. SmithStephen A. Smith broke news Wednesday - that 10-time All-Star Allen Iverson plans to retire from the National Basketball Association after a 14-year career - but the story did not appear in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which has been forced by an arbitrator to take Smith back.

Instead, the story appeared on Smith's Web site and was picked up by several news outlets, including the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse wire services. Moreover, Smith, who covered the All-Star guard during his heyday with the Philadelphia 76ers, wrote a column about Iverson's decision for and discussed it on a number of broadcast outlets. His story led sports newscasts.

"Inquirer Editors Bill Marimow and Mike Leary should be embarrassed at having forced Stephen A. Smith to break such big news on his own Web site rather than," the Inquirer Web site, Dan Gross, president of the Newspaper Guild of Philadelphia, told Journal-isms. Marimow is editor and Leary is managing editor.

"The Inquirer continues to refuse to publish any work by Stephen until he agrees to policies and regulations that management has not subjected other members to. On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful to work at the Philadelphia Daily News, where employees and their work are respected by our editors."

Not only did the Inquirer refuse Smith's story, but later published a version attributed to "staff and wire reports" that left out Smith's name, which was in the wire stories.

The AP pickup, datelined Philadelphia, quoted Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star LeBron James saying of Iverson, "His legacy would be huge. He's one of the best when you talk about guys 6-foot and under in the game of basketball. He played injured and he played hard every single night. I don't think it should end this way, but if it does, he's left a lot of great things behind."

Smith returned to his sports columnist job at the Inquirer on Nov. 12, some 27 months after the newspaper demoted him and subsequently resisted an arbitrator's ruling that the paper was in the wrong. An arbitrator found that Marimow thought Smith was being paid too much.

However, Smith's column has not yet reappeared. The Guild has filed a grievance alleging that the Inquirer is retaliating against Smith by erecting obstacles to his return to print.

On his first day back, Smith was told that 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, Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers Association of America Local 38010, told Journal-isms on Friday.

"Both violate our collective bargaining agreement, and no other employee has been forced or required to this pledge. The Guild has filed a grievance over this violation."

Marimow has consistently refused to comment on Smith's situation, saying he cannot discuss personnel matters.

On the "Ed Show" Wednesday night on MSNBC, host Ed Schultz asked Smith, "You got news tonight on Allen Iverson? What's happening there?"

Smith replied, "He's announced that he's going to retire. I don't totally believe him. I believe that he's feeling that way at this moment in time, wants to spend time with his wife and kids. Been feeling hurt by lack of teams opening their arms and their locker rooms to him. I think ultimately, he'll come out of his doldrums, and, if the right opportunity comes his way, he will change his mind and come out of retirement. But he issued a statement to me about an hour and a half ago that he plans on retiring."

Smith elaborated in his column. "Does Iverson still have enough gas left in his tank? Can he get it done like he used to? Would he really be an asset to a contending team, just a pulse away from a championship? Is Iverson's selfish, I'd-rather-retire-than-come-off-the-bench mentality simply not worth the headache for an executive trying to keep his job?

"Better yet, is Iverson finally capable of looking in the mirror to recognize the error of his ways?

"Assuming it's not too late for him."


Give Thanks: In Philippines, They Mourn

Toll of Massacred Journalists Rises to 26

'GMA' refers to Philippine President Glorida Macapagal Arroyo; 'Ampatuans' to the family of Andal Ampatuan Jr., a member of Arroyo's ruling coalition and the leading suspect in the massacre that killed at least 57 people.As Americans prepared to acknowledge their blessings on Thanksgiving Day, Philippine President Glorida Macapagal Arroyo declared Thursday a national day of mourning in her country.

The number of journalists among those killed in a massacre Monday rose to 26, Reporters Without Borders, the international press freedom group, said on Wednesday.

The atrocities took place in southeastern Maguindanao province.

" 'This bloodbath is beyond human understanding,' a journalist from the nearby city of Koronadal told Reporters Without Borders, adding: 'I have lost 12 of my colleagues in this massacre.'

" 'The toll from this massacre keeps rising but the governor’s son, the leading suspect, still has not been questioned by the police,' Reporters Without Borders said. 'President Gloria Arroyo says those responsible will be arrested and tried but all the information coming from the field so far indicates the contrary.'

[On Thursday, Andal Ampatuan Jr., the politician accused of masterminding the massacre, surrendered to authorities — but insisted he was innocent, the Manila Times reported.]

The press-freedom organization attributed its count to "journalists who have gone to the massacre site." At least 57 civilians died.

"No suspects have been formally named in the killings, which provoked outrage beyond the Philippines, with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and media and human rights watchdogs calling on President . . . Arroyo to swiftly punish the attackers," Aaron Favila of the Associated Press reported.

The Committee to Protect Journalists confirmed that the election-related massacre "appears to be [the] single deadliest event for the press since 1992, when CPJ began keeping detailed records on journalist deaths."

In the United States, expressions of horror also came from the Newspaper Guild, the Radio-Television Digital News Association, the International Federation of Journalists, Human Rights Watch and other groups.

At the Committee to Protect Journalists' International Press Freedom Awards ceremony Tuesday night, CNN's Christiane Amanpour said, "CPJ is fighting to beat back the culture of impunity where murderers go unpunished, witnesses fear reprisal, and journalists are sent a clear message that certain topics are too dangerous to be discussed."

"She described the killings of numerous journalists in the Philippine province of Maguindanao on Monday," CPJ reported. "At her behest, several members of the audience contributed directly on Tuesday night to CPJ’s global assistance fund, a portion of which will be used to aid the families of the Philippine victims."

The slain journalists are believed to have been part of a convoy that was ambushed by more than 100 gunmen at a police checkpoint, as Britain's Guardian newspaper reported.

"The convoy was travelling to file candidacy papers for gubernatorial candidate and local mayor Esmael Mangudadatu. He was not on board the convoy.

"Police have found the bodies of 57 people buried in shallow graves close to the checkpoint.

"The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that police have named Andal Ampatuan Jr., a member of President Gloria Arroyo's ruling coalition, as the leading suspect in the massacre," the Guardian said.

Philippine journalist Aquiles Zonio described in the Inquirer how he and other journalists discussed with Assemblyman Khadafy Mangudadatu earlier in the day the security concerns and the scenarios that might arise.

"According to the Mangudadatus," followers of that politician, "a week before the massacre, there were massive movements of . . . Ampatuan’s armed followers . . . in the area.

"Believing in the power of the media, Mangudadatu, who felt helpless then, asked help from the media.

"He requested several journalists . . . to cover the scheduled filing of his certificate of candidacy at the Commission on Elections provincial office.

" 'Maybe, they will not harm us if journalists are watching them,' Mangudadatu said."

But, Reporters Without Borders reported, "The attackers reportedly raped, tortured and beheaded some of the victims. Most of the bodies have been found in mass graves."

Journalists around the Philippines staged their own rallies, wearing black shirts and black armbands.

"Bulacan journalists also sought from the provincial government guarantees that they would be safe during the coverage of the 2010 elections," the Inquirer said.

According to Manila Standard Today, "The Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines expressed fear that such senseless violence would be one among a possible series in the run-up to the 2010 presidential elections. 'We therefore urge the national government to do everything within its powers to bring swift justice to the victims,' " the association said in a statement.

"It appealed to the journalism community to take the utmost precaution in dealing with work-related threats and coordinate with various media groups should they need help during delicate situations."

. . . "In That Case, I’ll Just Kill Your Entire Family"

Dan ShelleyThe massacre in the Philippines moved Dan Shelley, a director at large of the Radio-Television Digital News Association, to recall Wednesday a 2006 visit to that nation as chairman of RTDNA, a trip taken at the request of the U.S. State Department.

"During morning break, a radio reporter approached me and asked if we could speak in private. He seemed distraught," Shelley, director of digital media at New York's and WCBS-TV, wrote.

"It turns out that the reporter had been doing an investigative series on a corrupt politician in a small town on Mindanao in the days before a recent election. The politician called him and threatened to kill him if he didn’t stop.

“'I told him he could not silence my voice, that there was nothing he could threaten to do to me that would keep me from telling the truth to the voters.

" 'Fine,' the man told me. 'In that case, I’ll just kill your entire family.'"

"To save his family, the reporter not only ended his series of reports early, he took himself off the air completely until after the election. The corrupt politician was elected.

". . . Today, as I grieve over the senseless election-related murders on Mindanao, I find myself thinking about two things.

"First, a question: What good is truth-seeking if the Filipino government embraces a culture that allows these kinds of massacres to happen?

"Second, a prayer. Please, God, I hope the radio reporter I met in the ballroom at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City three and a half years ago was not among those killed.

"He wanted so badly to expose the political corruption he saw all around him."

   Politico provided live video coverage of the White House state dinner on its Web site. (Video)

Politico's Henderson Dishes on Obama's State Dinner

Nia-Malika Henderson"Perhaps the most 'unique' pool report ever was distributed by Politico's Nia-Malika Henderson last night from the White House State Dinner," Matt Dornic reported Wednesday for Fishbowl DC.

Sample: "Biggest Celebs: Steven Spielberg, Alfre Woodard and Blair Underwood (together but not an item). Also, fyi, some stars are shorter, more wrinkled, not as hot in person. Underwood. Hotter.

"Honorable mention for biggest star: Gayle King, sans bff Oprah Winfrey."

"Best shout out to colleague: Helene Cooper 'Tom Friedman you better stop!'"

Before Tuesday night's event, Fishbowl's Christine Delargy wrote, "Politico will have live video coverage of the State Dinner streaming on its website beginning at 11:10am today. Anchored by Mike Allen, Eamon Javers, Patrick Gavin and others Politicos, coverage will include First Lady Michelle Obama's dinner preview, guest arrivals, President Obama and Indian Prime Minister [Manmohan] Singh's toasts and some of the evening's entertainment (which we have learned Jennifer Hudson will headline)."

Journalists of color on the guest list included King, ABC's Robin Roberts, Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN, Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek and Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post, according to Fishbowl.

Meanwhile, networks made plans to broadcast Obama’s prime-time address on Afghanistan on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

And in another development, White House visitor logs sought since August by the Associated Press showed that top aides to Obama met early and often with lobbyists, Democratic political strategists and other interests with a stake in the administration's national health care overhaul, the AP's Sharon Theimer reported on Wednesday.

CNN Says Job With RNC Won't Disqualify Castellanos

Alex Castellanos"CNN responded Tuesday to criticism about one of its political commentators, Alex Castellanos, by saying it maintained the same policy for him that it has had for other paid political analysts," Bill Carter wrote Tuesday for the New York Times.

"Mr. Castellanos, who previously drew criticism from Democrats for owning a firm that produced advertisements for the Chamber of Commerce and health insurance companies, was named this week as an image consultant for the Republican National Committee."

A CNN spokeswoman told Journal-isms on Wednesday, "CNN has political strategists that provide unpaid advice to both sides of the aisle, and Alex will remain as a CNN contributor. CNN will continue to be vigilant in disclosing contributor affiliations and their profiles."

The progressive Web site Think Progress described Castellanos as, "a CNN contributor who fashions himself as the 'father of the modern attack ad.' Castellanos is no stranger to the RNC, having received four payments totaling $434,336 from them for media work since July. Castellanos has also been a key player in the effort to stop health care reform.

"Before the health care debate, Castellanos was best known as the creator of the racially-charged 'Hands' advertisement, which ran on behalf of former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC). In May 2008, Castellanos defended sexism during the 2008 campaign by saying that sometimes it’s 'accurate' to describe a woman as a 'bitch.'”

Telemundo Reorganization Could Mean Job Losses

Three years ago, the trade publication Broadcasting & Cable announced, "in one of its more radical moves, NBC is overhauling local news on its Telemundo stations. Within the next few months, it will roll out regionalized newscasts for outlets in all markets except New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami.

"Under the plan, a center in Dallas will provide national and international news in three live broadcasts tailored for 10 NBC-owned Telemundo stations in the various time zones. The newscasts will still maintain a local component, with reporters and meteorologists on-site contributing."

Apparently, that experiment did not work. Speaking of the regionalized Telemundo Production Centers, spokesman Alfredo Richard told Journal-isms this week that Telemundo was "reinvesting in the TPC markets to evolve our local newscasts to better serve our markets and better connect with our audience. Several jobs will be reassigned, relocated, but in essence it's a headcount neutral move."

But when asked if that meant no one would end up unemployed, Richard said he was not saying that.

Veronica Villafa?±e reported last week on her Media Moves site:

"TPC staffers were notified they would be out of a job in a little over 60 days during a meeting last Friday. All reporters and videographers will have to reapply for VJ positions for the local newscasts. They were told they will receive training as an option to reapply. Some of the positions were eliminated. The 'new' hires will be in place by January.

"February 1st is the target date for the launch of the local newscasts, according to what TPC employees were told. There will be no local news directors. Instead, Jos?© Flores, currently TPC news director, will stay on in that role, supervising all local newscasts from Dallas. Each market will have an executive producer."

Dobbs Camp Floats Trial Balloons About Runs for Office

"The Lou Dobbs-for-Senate rumor had barely crested when the Lou Dobbs-for-president rumor suddenly overtook it this week," David M. Halbfinger reported Tuesday for the New York Times.

"A spokesman for Mr. Dobbs said he was seriously considering a race in 2012 against Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey . . . as 'an intermediary step.'

"Mr. Dobbs, the former cable television anchor of the sonorous voice and tough-talking immigration politics, parted ways with CNN on Nov. 11, reportedly receiving an $8 million severance payment, and immediately stirred questions about his plans."

Separately, Peter Wallsten of the Wall Street Journal seized upon Dobbs' interview Friday with Telemundo to declare that Dobbs "is trying to wipe away his image as an enemy of Latino immigrants by positioning himself as a champion of that fast-growing ethnic bloc."

Baltimore Anchor Terry Owens Takes Buyout Offer

Terry Owens"After 17 years of covering city government and anchoring the news at WMAR-TV, Terry Owens is leaving the station, he said Thursday," David Zurawik reported Tuesday for the Baltimore Sun.

"Owens, who along with Mary Beth Marsden is the second high-visibility anchor to take a buyout offer in recent days, said his last day at Channel 2 will be Dec. 4.

" 'They've had the buyout offer on the table, and the date to accept is fast approaching,' Owens said Thursday. 'So after much soul searching, prayer and talking with my family, I have decided to look at other possibilities.'

"For the last two years, Owens has been the anchor of the 5:30 p.m. nightly newscast and a reporter for the 11 p.m. broadcast. For almost a decade before that, he specialized in covering City Hall and Baltimore City government." He is also a former president of Association of Black Media Workers of Baltimore.

Why They Have Tabloids: His Dad's Charles Manson

Matthew RobertsThe British tabloid The Sun ran this story on Monday:

"LIKE many adopted children, Matthew Roberts set about finding his biological parents with a mix of nerves and excitement.

"In particular, he hoped that discovering his father's identity would help him to work out what made him the man he had become.

"But nothing could have prepared him for being told his dad was... serial killer CHARLES MANSON."

Short Takes

  • "The Washington Post, in a significant retrenchment, is closing its remaining domestic bureaus around the country," Howard Kurtz reported Tuesday in the Post. "The six correspondents who work in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago will be offered reassignments in Washington, while three news assistants will be let go." Among the correspondents are Keith B. Richburg and Tomoeh Murakami Tse in New York. Richburg told Michael Calderone of Politico: "Needless to say, it's a complete surprise ‚Äî a shock, really ‚Äî since we just made a big move in June from Columbus Circle to new office space downtown. I'm sure I'll be fine for the future, but I worry about my colleagues, particularly the bureau news assistants."
  • "Anna Davlantes made her debut Monday night as a contributing anchor and reporter on the 'Fox Chicago News at 9 p.m' on WFLD-Channel 32. And viewers could be forgiven if they came away from the hourlong newscast thinking Davlantes, who Fox is now touting as 'one of the most talked-about personalities' in the Chicago market, was the show's new star," Lewis Lazare wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times. In the Chicago Tribune, however, Phil Rosenthal said Davlantes was a bit rusty. Davlantes left WMAQ-TV on July 30 and until Nov. 1, was prohibited from negotiating with anyone else.
  • "The International Federation of Journalists has condemned the attempted assassination of a leading Iraqi television journalist and accused the Iraqi Government of ‚Äòscandalous negligence' over its failure to challenge impunity in the killing of journalists in Iraqi media," the federation said on Tuesday. "According to local reports Imad al Ibadi, director of Al Diyar TV, was yesterday shot three times in the head, the neck and the chest. He is in a stable but critical condition in hospital."
  • "An Australian freelance journalist kidnapped in Somalia in August last year feared he would be handed over to hardline rebels when he was bundled into a car on Wednesday night," David Clarke of Reuters reported Wednesday from Nairobi, Kenya. "Instead, photojournalist Nigel Brennan and Canadian freelance reporter Amanda Lindhout were driven to a hotel in Mogadishu and released ‚Äî ending their 15 month ordeal."
  • "America TeVe, a Spanish-language channel in Miami, has merged with CV Network and is now in charge of operations, distribution and selling advertising for the latter's stations," the Associated Press reported on Tuesday. "Under the deal, America TeVe will be taking over CV Network's three stations, which are WFUN in Miami, WPXO in New York and WJPX in Puerto Rico. The merger allows America TeVe to expand to Puerto Rico and New York."
  • Shelitha Hurd, who produces the 11 p.m. newscast at WBAL-TV in Baltimore, has been hired as morning executive producer at WXII-TV in Winston-Salem, N.C., news director Barry Klaus confirmed on Tuesday.
  • "Last night, after weeks of competition, Teach for America executive Kevin Huffman beat out social media consultant Zeba Khan to become 'America‚Äôs Next Great Pundit' for The Washington Post," Rebekah Spicuglia wrote Tuesday for the Women's Media Center. "In a contest designed for unheard voices to take the national stage alongside so many white men, why choose another white man?"
  • Tania Chatila, who has covered "real crime, real politics and real people" for the San Gabriel Valley (Calif.) Tribune, told readers farewell Sunday on the paper's "Leftovers from City Hall" blog, "I'm moving on from journalism to that other side of information sharing ‚Äî internal communications at USC's health sciences department." Chatila's mother is Peruvian.
  • "This week, Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday nominally devoted to counting one‚Äôs blessings," the editors of the Columbia Journalism Review asked on Tuesday. "So we wonder: Journalistically speaking, what are you still thankful for?"

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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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