Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Italian Vogue Publishes All-Black Issue

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Choice of Models Flips Pattern in Fashion Magazines

For the July issue of Italian Vogue, Steven Meisel has photographed only black models. "In a reverse of the general pattern of fashion magazines, all the faces are black, and all the feature topics are related to black women in the arts and entertainment. Mr. Meisel was given roughly 100 pages for his pictures. The issue will be on European newsstands next Thursday," Cathy Horyn wrote Thursday in the New York Times. A spokeswoman said it goes on sale in the United States on July 1.

"Under its editor, Franca Sozzani, Italian Vogue has gained a reputation for being more about art and ideas than commerce. Ms. Sozzani also doesn't mind controversy.


"She said that, as an Italian, she has been intrigued by the American presidential race" and Barack Obama, "which was one source of inspiration when she and Mr. Meisel began discussing, in February, the idea of an all-black issue. Also, she was aware of the lack of diversity on the runways in recent years and the debate it fueled last fall in New York, where Bethann Hardison, a former model who ran a successful agency, held two panel discussions on the topic."

The models he chose for the black issue include Iman, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Jourdan Dunn, Liya Kebede, Alek Wek, Pat Cleveland and Karen Alexander.

Over Sozzani's initial objections, Meisel also hired Toccara Jones, a full-figure model, who became known from "America's Next Top Model," Horyn wrote. "I wanted to say something about weight, and I'm never allowed to do that," he said. "I met Toccara and thought, she's beautiful. What's the deal with her? She's great and she's sexy."

Sozzani said in a q-and-a published on Horyn's blog on Wednesday, "We asked Robin Givhan [of The Washington Post] to write a piece. She did a good story. She said that what we were doing was great but — what will happen next month? Will everything go back to where it was before, with all-white models? I think she was right to ask that. I hope the issue will be something that can change things. Anyway, people will talk about it, for sure. Like or dislike, it will be a controversial issue. I think it's good to keep that tension and focus on this subject."

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Media Watch Group Faults Some of Russert's Questioning

"NBC's 'Meet the Press' anchor and Washington bureau chief Tim Russert died of a heart attack on June 13. The outpouring from media and political elites only underscored Russert's status as one of most important figures in mainstream journalism. But amidst all of the accolades, critical assessments about Russert's record were scarce," Fairness & Accuracy in Media, the progressive media watch group, said on Thursday.



". . . Russert's supposedly aggressively posture was at times put to rather dubious ends. When Barack Obama appeared on 'Meet the Press' (1/22/06), Russert grilled him about comments made by left-wing actor and entertainer Harry Belafonte: 'I refer you to some comments that Harry Belafonte made yesterday. He said that Homeland Security had become the new Gestapo. What do you think of that?'

"Russert followed up on the issue, despite the fact that the only apparent connection between the two men was the fact they were both black. When Russert moderated a debate between Obama and Hillary Clinton (2/26/08), he asked Obama about Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, despite the fact that the two had no discernable ties. Years earlier, Russert quizzed civil rights activist Al Sharpton about Farrakhan's views, telling him (8/25/00), 'A leader in black America has said that Saddam Hussein is no more terrible than the president of the United States.'

"And Russert's tenacious interviewing style would alternate with a much more deferential one — depending on who was being interviewed. Surprisingly, some of Russert's journalistic colleagues praised him for being tough on the Bush administration over the Iraq War. CBS Evening News correspondent Anthony Mason said (6/13/08), 'In 2003, as the United States prepared to go to war in Iraq, Russert pressed Vice President Dick Cheney about White House assumptions.'

"In reality, 'Meet the Press' was the venue for some of the White House's most audacious lies about the Iraq War — most of which went unchallenged by Russert. On the morning that the New York Times published a front-page article falsely touting the now-famous 'aluminum tubes' as components of an alleged Iraqi nuclear weapons program, Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on 'Meet the Press' (9/8/02), where Russert pursued open-ended questions that seemed to invite spin from the vice president on Iraqi nuclear weapons."

Meanwhile, Christopher R. Martin, an associate professor in journalism at the University of Northern Iowa, compared TV news coverage of Russert's death with that of the last big TV news figure to die, ABC's Peter Jennings, on Aug. 7, 2008.

"Jennings was a TV news anchor and reporter for more than 40 years, and was the chief anchor of World News Tonight for 22 years — one of the "Big Three" anchors through the 1980s and 1990s with Tom Brokaw at NBC and Dan Rather at CBS.

"NBC devoted the entire 28:30 minutes of its 'Nightly News' program on Russert's death, even with Brian Williams anchoring via satellite from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. In 2005 on ABC 'World News Tonight,' most of the program covered Jennings' death, but anchor Charles Gibson also saved five minutes for stories on a postponed Space Shuttle landing, an Iraqi sandstorm, energy policy, and gasoline prices.

". . . I think the New York Times' Media Equation columnist David Carr got it right when he observed that the mourning seemed not only for Russert, but an attempt to celebrate and shore up the increasingly irrelevant establishment political journalism."

Also, NBC News president Steve Capus told Gail Shister of the TV Newser Web site that the network will hire "numerous people" to replace Russert in his various roles.

And on the New York Times "City Room" blog on Thursday, David Gonzalez provided another contrast. "The unsolved murder of another journalist, Bradley Will, nearly two years ago never received such saturation coverage," Gonzalez wrote.

"A recently planted apple tree in a South Bronx park is perhaps the only memorial in the city to Mr. Will, a video journalist based in New York, who was shot dead in Mexico in October, 2006, while covering anti-government protests. His killers, who may have been captured on his tape, have not yet been brought to justice."

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Black Producer Insists Michael Scott Used N-Word

The saga of veteran television anchor Michael Scott, let go in Huntsville, Ala., after reportedly calling another black journalist the N-word, is becoming a he-said, he-said. Last week, Scott told David Person of the Huntsville (Ala.) Times, "I'm being trashed" and, "My feeling is that the company just blew this up."


Michael Scott

On Friday, Person wrote that the other journalist, former WAAY news producer Jabaree Prewitt, disputed Scott's version of events.

"Prewitt, now working at a television station in Shreveport, La., repeatedly declined to be interviewed about the incident. But Tuesday, while I was interviewing Scott on WEUP-AM, Prewitt decided to call in after someone told him that about the interview. His version of events differs significantly from Scott's," Pearson wrote.

"He denied that he was on a cursing tirade in the studio just before the 10 p.m. newscast on May 22 as Scott has alleged.

"'Michael and I were fine all that day,' Prewitt said. 'That night, Michael went a little bit too far.'

"Too far, he said, was calling him and his mother Negroes. Prewitt said he objected.

"'We were not brought up like that,' he said he told Scott. 'We don't say those words.'

"According to Prewitt, that's when things got worse.

"'That's when he says "Well maybe I should have called you the other word," and he said it plain as day,' Prewitt said.

"The other word, of course, was 'nigger,' which Scott again denied calling Prewitt. 'That's when I jumped up and said, "You know what? I'm done,"' Prewitt said.

"This saga of he said/he said certainly won't be sorted out in this column or on the many Web sites that have been following this story."
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Presidential Candidates Forum at Unity Is No Sure Thing


John McCain

Unity: Journalists of Color and its member associations are touting a forum with Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain at the Unity convention in July, but it's by no means certain that it will take place.

McCain "will attend the 99th annual NAACP Convention in Cincinnati, as well as the Urban League Conference in Florida, however he has not decided on whether he will attend this year's UNITY conference in Chicago," Darrell Jordan, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, told Journal-isms on Friday.

Unity issued a news release on June 4 saying, "UNITY: Journalists of Color and CNN will broadcast live in prime time a historic discussion with the presumptive presidential nominees at the UNITY '08 Convention in Chicago on July 24.

"The forum, which had been slated for a late-afternoon time slot, will be moved to 8-10 p.m. ET (7-9 p.m. CT) on Thursday, July 24, and is expected to reach more than 2 million viewers around the country and worldwide."

Web sites of the national associations of black, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American journalists are all promoting the forum.

Executive Director Onica Makwakwa told Journal-isms at the time that neither Obama, D-Ill., nor McCain, R-Ariz., had accepted Unity's invitation to attend. But she said there had been conversations and "we are hopeful."

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Obama Campaign Finding Turbulence With the Press

"One of the challenges that we are confronting very directly is dealing with the rumors and the e-mails, the inaccurate information about Senator Obama and Michelle Obama," Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to Sen. Barack Obama, told the New York Times, "and we're going to deal with that very aggressively through a number of mediums."

"While the strategy has won compliments from political professionals of both parties, who say Mr. Obama's campaign is exhibiting a high level of discipline," Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny wrote in the Times on Thursday, "it has also created some early turbulence for a candidate who has run on promises of openness and cultivated a grass-roots following and a cottage industry of homemade campaign videos, memorabilia and street murals."

In the July 7 issue of the Nation, meanwhile, Eric Alterman and George Zornick write of Republican John McCain, "no candidate since John F. Kennedy, and perhaps none since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, has enjoyed such cozy relations with the press.

"On issue after issue, and from every side of the journalistic political spectrum, a campaign of deception and distortion has helped to ensure that McCain's extreme positions and politically inspired flip-flops remain far from the consciousness of the average voter."

The New York Times reporters wrote of the Obama campaign, "In spirited discussions with reporters barred from Monday's meeting with African-American civic leaders, aides said that no cameras were allowed because the participants wanted the meeting to be private, even though it was announced on the daily hotel roster of events. Later, other aides said the lighting was not properly set up for television quality.

"When Mr. Obama met with religious leaders last week, his campaign kept out photographers and reporters and refused to share a full list of participants.

". . . Tensions between Mr. Obama's campaign and the news media broke into full view when aides announced two weeks ago that he was flying to Chicago but then sent his plane — and traveling press corps — there while he stayed in Washington to meet with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"The bureau chiefs of the major television news networks and The Associated Press wrote Mr. Obama's top aides a stern letter on June 6, saying, 'There are many ways in a campaign to control your message and conduct private meetings that do not involve deceiving the press corps.' The letter continued, 'Going forward, we know from experience that covering a presidential campaign requires that some representatives of the press corps be with, or near, the senator at all times as part of the 'security package,' just as the White House press corps is with the president."

"Mr. Obama's campaign has not indicated that it is ready to go quite so far.

"'The press corps wouldn't be doing its job it if weren't demanding more access than we're willing to give,' Ms. Dunn said. 'We wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't occasionally irritate the press.'"

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McClatchy's Detainees Series a "Stunning Bit of Reporting"

"The headlines in the current McClatchy Newspapers series on men detained at Guantanamo and in Afghanistan tell quite a story: Sunday: 'We got the wrong guys.' Monday: 'I guess you can call it torture.' Tuesday: 'A school for Jihad.' The stories bear out the headlines and then some," Barry Sussman and Dan Froomkin wrote Monday on the Nieman Watchdog Web site.

"It's a stunning bit of reporting, eight months in the works, done by the McClatchy Washington bureau. These editors and reporters, of course, are the successors to the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau — the lone mainstream-media organization credited for its skeptical, forthright, consistent questioning and reporting in the run-up to the Iraq war."

Sussman and Froomkin interview David Westphal, the McClatchy Washington editor.

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John McWhorter a Naysayer on Celebrating Juneteenth

Writing on, John McWhorter, senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, told readers on Thursday, "I have never quite gotten the hang of Juneteenth," which celebrates the day in 1865 that Texas slaves learned they were liberated.

"I suppose I should," McWhorter continued. "What could be wrong, after all, with celebrating slaves in America being freed? Technically, Juneteenth arose to mark the day slaves in Texas were freed, but over the years it has been embraced nationwide as a celebration of emancipation.

"But at the end of the day, I just can't wrap my head around celebrating the fact that someone else freed my ancestors. It puts too much focus on a time when we were so starkly in the down position. Juneteenth seems to be about what someone else did."

Most who posted comments said McWhorter missed the point, and other columnists celebrated the day.

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Short Takes

  • Yaroslav Trofimov of the Wall Street Journal won the South Asian Journalists Association's Daniel Pearl Award for outstanding story about South Asia, or South Asians in North America, for "Untouchable: Brutal Attack in India Shows How Caste System Lives On." Trofimov's award was in the print category. In broadcast, Sujata Berry of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. won for "Who Speaks For Islam?" The awards are to be presented at the SAJA convention at Columbia University on Saturday.
  • "Exceeding expectations, more than 400 volunteers have signed up to enroll uninsured children in the state's All Kids insurance program this Saturday," Monifa Thomas wrote Thursday in the Chicago Sun-Times. The newspaper "has teamed with Resurrection Health Care to get at least 1,000 kids signed up for the program in one day, as part of the 1,000 Healthy Kids & Families campaign."
  • Joe Sanchez, an editor at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, "died suddenly Wednesday morning," WCAU reported on Wednesday. Sanchez was 60, had worked as an editor at the station since 2000 and had been a reporter at Philadelphia's WPVI-TV and KYW-TV.


Alycia Lane

  • "Alycia Lane sued KYW-TV yesterday, claiming that the station exploited her, tore her down, and defamed her on her way out the door," Michael Klein reported Friday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Seeking unspecified damages, the former anchor alleges in a complaint filed in Common Pleas Court that management 'turned a blind eye' toward leaks of personal information after she repeatedly voiced concerns about 'security breaches' in her private e-mail. She also alleges that management engaged in 'deep-seated gender-discriminatory animus' toward her and other female employees."
  • Mario Diaz, 35-year-old former morning anchor at WTSP-TV in Tampa, resigned from the station Tuesday to take a job with Republican John McCain's presidential campaign, Walt Belcher reported on Thursday in the Tampa Tribune. National Public Radio publicists Leah Yoon and Laura Perloff are joining the McCain campaign in the Midwest.
  • Anchor-reporter Raoul Martinez is leaving WESH-TV in Orlando after 6 ½ years, Hal Boedeker of the Orlando Sentinel reported on Thursday. His last day is Sunday; Martinez is returning to California, Boedeker said.
  • "Maybe we should regard the Internet not as an extra thing we do, but as the core thing we do," columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote Wednesday in the Miami Herald. "Maybe we should maximize the fact that we know our cities as no one else does. Maybe we should make our websites not simply online recreations of our papers, but entities in their own right, destination portals for those who want news and views from and about a given city, but also for those who want to find a good doctor in that city, or apply for a job in that city or reach the leaders of that city or research the history of that city. Maybe the goal should be to make ourselves the one indispensable guide to that city. And then maybe we should hire away the bright people who figured out how to make Yahoo and Google profitable and ask them to make our sites profitable, too. Maybe — heretical idea ahead — it's as simple as requiring online readers to pay for the product, just as our other readers do."


Trevor Delaney

  • Trevor Delaney, editorial director for personal finance at Black Enterprise magazine, has joined the Associated Press as personal finance editor, newly named AP business editor Hal Ritter announced on Friday.
  • Les Payne of Newsday; Tonyaa Weathersbee, Florida Times-Union; Jerry Bembry, ESPN: The Magazine; Chandra Thomas of Atlanta magazine; Nikole Hannah-Jones of the Portland Oregonian; Shannon Shelton of the Detroit Free Press and DeWayne Wickham of USA Today and Gannett News Service have been in Cuba all week on a reporting trip for black journalists sponsored by Wickham's Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies at North Carolina A&T State University. They return on Sunday. Wickham told Journal-isms that since 2000, he has raised money to bring more than 60 black journalists to the island.
  • Sherry Williams and Alan Hemberger will be replaced by Steve Simon and Mia Gradney as anchors of KHCW's (Channel 39) 9 p.m. newscast, and news director Joe Nolan has resigned, effective June 27, three days before the station expands its nightly newscast from 30 minutes to an hour, David Barron reported Tuesday for the Houston Chronicle. Williams, a Houston native, "is no longer employed by the Tribune Co.-owned station, general manager Roger Bare said."
  • Frank Washington, the automotive journalist who underwent facial reconstruction after a Jan. 29 mugging near his Detroit home, "is getting back in the groove. He went to Portland, Maine this week for a Chrysler event and was hugged by all," his colleague, Greg Morrison, told colleagues Thursday in the National Association of Black Journalists.


Ron Allen

  • Fishbowl DC asked NBC correspondent Ron Allen Tuesday what single person played the biggest role or had the biggest influence on his journalism career. "My late father Lindsay Allen," he replied. "He was so excited when CBS News offered me a part-time desk assistant job working midnight to 8 a.m. weekends only on the network assignment desk. Back then, I was a very proud recent college graduate never really interested in journalism, and less than thrilled with the hours and pay. But my dad saw the future better than I could. He encouraged me to take the job. There was also a former CBS VP named Peter Herford who helped me get a slot in a reporter training program. And Ed Bradley. As soon as I got to CBS, I went to his office and asked, 'How did you do it?'"
  • In South Africa, "the Pretoria High Court ruled yesterday that South Africans of Chinese descent should be defined as black for the purposes of the employment equity and broad-based black economic empowerment legislation," Ernest Mabuza reported Thursday for Business Day in Johannesburg. The complexity of race will be the subject of a panel discussion, "What Is Race?" on July 25 at the Unity convention in Chicago. Panelists will be Sam Ford, reporter at WJLA-TV in Washington, a Cherokee Freedman; Yolanda Moses, anthropology professor at the University of California, Riverside, adviser for the Race Project; Karen Narasaki, president, Asian American Justice Center, Washington; and Lori S. Robinson, editor, This columnist is the moderator.
  • "Beijing has declared time out on Time Out. The English-language edition of the monthly magazine that gives foreign residents and visitors the latest lowdown on the coolest bars, the hippest shops and the hottest shows in the Chinese capital has disappeared," Jane Macartney reported from Beijing June 11 for the Times of London. "Tom Pattinson, the editor of the magazine, hinted that the timing — just two months before Beijing plays host to the Summer Games — was not coincidence."

Feedback: Jemele Hill Didn't Insult an Ethnic Group

Free speech, gang. Jemele Hill was making a point, not inciting a riot. Ms. Hill was not insulting a particular ethnic group, rather she was commiserating with us Yankee, Celtic haters. I was a Knick fan and a Brooklyn Dodger fan in the '50s. I still remember listening to my transistor radio while crossing Hawthorne Avenue in Newark, N.J., and hearing, "ground ball to Reese, over to Hodges — and the Dodgers win their first World Series!" By the way, Cousy always palmed the ball before passing to Sharman — and they never called it on him.

Steve Shlafer
Mill Creek, Wash.
June 19, 2008

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Feedback: Russert and the Irish Catholic Connection

I watched "Meet the Press" quite often and never understood how come more African Americans weren't on the show. I also couldn't understand how Mike Barnicle, who had trouble with imaginary things in his column, and Doris Kearns Goodwin, who had been accused of plagiarism in one of her many books, were still appearing on television, on his show. Blacks who have had similar problems can't get jobs anywhere.

Sunday a.m. is one of the whitest days on TV. As I listened to the memorial service, it became quite obvious.

Both of those people are Irish Catholics, and as explained by Maria Shriver when she spoke, "Tim said to me when I first arrived at NBC, we are both Irish Catholics and there are few of us around and I am here to help (protect) you." It also turns out that Chris Matthews is Irish Catholic, and so is Brian Williams, to name a few. I wonder whether any African American could do this for his/her people?

Barbara Robinson
Las Vegas
June 20, 2008

Robinson is a retired Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist.
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Feedback: The Tim Russerts of Our Industry Were Wrong

I have long been mystified by how much journalists are enamored with journalists. I am further befuddled by the ease with which political leaders and journalists hobnob and switch roles (i.e. politicians working in media and vice versa). If nothing else, it says to the public the information they hear is at best filtered through untrustworthy eyes and ears that appear to work in each other's best interests rather than the public's.

Case in point is your article issuing forth what could be construed as a scathing criticism of the top guy in the mainstream news by the most trusted source of media scrutiny. What is missing, in my opinion, is the fact that the media requires a watchdog organization when it is supposed to be itself a watchdog industry maintaining careful and close watch over the shenanigans of government.

Yet, when all is said and done — when millions of people in other nations have been impacted by decisions made at the top level of our government and a journalist dies who apparently ignored numerous warning signs — few of us in this industry openly and publicly question whether we're really doing the job for which we are commissioned by the Constitution.

The evidence shows we are not. Or, at best, we do it very poorly. The result of such shoddy work is those journalists and non-journalists who work desperately to be heard and get real facts and real questions on the table of national discussion are ignored, lambasted, marginalized and reputed to be kooks. In the end, we find out they were right, the Tim Russerts of the industry were dead wrong, and yet nothing changes. We replace the Russerts with Courics and Jenningses and continue the manipulation of media to the masses.

Meanwhile, the data flowing forth from Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, new organizations like the one for media reform, Free Press and venerable journalists like Bill Moyers still remain hidden behind a wall of elitism, ignorance and government worship. Black media, which isn't tied to corporate and political mandates or influence, is equally at fault, given its narrow focus and failure to recognize that blacks are part of a larger society where decisions made not only impact the nation, but blacks in particular — and many negative metrics in this society tend to be far more severe in black America.

FAIR can legitimately criticize Russert's lack of integrity as a journalist, but what does that say about the rest of us? Russert wasn't the only one looking the other way, refusing to publish or broadcast serious questions, doubts and evidence that countered the government's main propaganda. We know today, from Scott McClellan's revelation and the Senate Intelligence Committee's findings, that the Bush administration was orchestrating a message. We know today that Pentagon "experts" were plants. We know the media was manipulated.

But we also know that many journalists were not fooled. Many news organizations were looking in the right direction, asking the right questions and putting both their reputation and careers on the line for the truth. And today, the one this industry worships without shame is Russert. Meanwhile, the industry continues to turn a deaf ear to journalists and authors who try to magnify whispers of evidence and truth that continue to be ignored even today.

I like your columns. You stick to short succinct information and offer us links to delve further. But until enough pressure is placed upon the upper echelon of this industry by reputable journalists, the Russert era will continue and the mainstream media will maintain its position as the curtain behind which political propaganda can be prepared and proliferated.

Mike Green
Ashland Daily Tidings
Ashland, Ore.
June 21, 2008

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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