Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Jack Kelley's Fakery Called Bigger Than Jayson Blair's

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Sunday, March 21, 2004

Kelley's Fakery Called Bigger Than Blair's

"In its global scope and decade-long duration, the plagiarism and fakery that USA Today attributes to [former reporter Jack] Kelley, 43, surpasses that of Jayson Blair, the former New York Times reporter who resigned last year in a scandal that led to the departure of the paper's two top editors," Howard Kurtz wrote Saturday in the Washington Post.

But so far the case isn't generating nearly the hand wringing. A cynic might say one reason is that writers who were quick to see a racial angle in the Blair case have been reluctant even to contemplate that possibility with Kelley.

Not that others weren't mulling over that angle privately. One writer to the e-mail list of the National Association of Black Journalists said:

"I wonder if Kelley was helped by a form of affirmative action for white guys, (similar to the help Dubya got gaining entrance to the two Ivy league schools and getting bailed out of bad business deals). The idea that if he looks like us we are going to keep overlooking his flaws. Also I think that with his reputation they probably let a lot more slide than if he had been some black rookie reporter like Jayson Blair. The finger needs to be pointed at his editors who let this go on for so long. Are heads going to roll at USA Today, like they did at the The Times? Also are news editors going to start saying 'I don't want to hire another white guy in case he turns out like Jack Kelley.' Somehow I doubt it," wrote Manny Otiko, a freelance journalist who has written in Oklahoma and now does public relations.

But there were these follow-ups in print:

  • "That report was a good first step, says Harvard media analyst Alex Jones, but USA TODAY now needs to address problems in its editorial culture that allowed Kelley to get away with his deceptions, then ''come clean'' with readers," Peter Johnson wrote in USA Today.
  • Jacques Steinberg wrote in The New York Times that, "Judging from surveys and interviews of editors around the country, in the last 10 months many newspapers have instituted safeguards against journalistic fraud. More than 350 editors told the American Society of Newspaper Editors, in answer to a survey question last summer, that they had undertaken some 'specific action' with their staffs or with their readers,'since The New York Times Jayson Blair scandal became public.'"
  • "Some former colleagues say privately that warning flags were raised about Kelley's performance years ago," wrote David Folkenflik in the Baltimore Sun.
  • "Dozens of Kelley's stories cited anonymous intelligence officials and other unidentified sources whose names could not be used in order to protect them from retaliation. This obviously proved too much a temptation for Kelley," wrote John Hanchette, a founding reporter at USA Today, in Editor & Publisher.

"As USA Today founder Al Neuharth, now retired in Florida, wrote presciently this past January only days after questions were raised about Kelley's copy, "Anonymous-source misuse or abuse put Jack Kelley in the hot seat and led to his forced resignation."

"It will now be interesting to see if Neuharth's Dictum prevails -- if the use of anonymous sources will be banned from USA Today. Personally, I doubt it."

Who Knows Jack? (American Journalism Review)

Boyd Blasts Blair Book's "Lie" About Boyd's Mother

Gerald Boyd has come out swinging at a "sickening error" that Jayson Blair made in his book, "Burning Down My Masters' House": The disgraced reporter says that Boyd's mother "died following a long struggle with drugs," when in fact she had sickle cell anemia.

"Almost every 'fact' in his book concerning me contains mistakes or misinterpretations. Most aren't worth repeating here. But the most sickening error shows how far from the truth this book strays," the former Times managing editor writes in his new column for Universal Press Syndicate.

"My aim is not to critique Blair's book. But if he can write a lie so flagrant and mean-spirited, it has to cast doubt on everything else he writes, whether about former colleagues at the Times, who are some of the most ethical, professional and decent journalists anywhere and who certainly don't deserve this, or about conversations he recounts verbatim from several years ago," Boyd wrote.

Last week in the New York Observer, Tom Scocca spotted the same passage, writing, "Mr. Boyd?s mother suffered from anemia, not drug addiction, according to remarks that the editor reportedly made about his life story in a 2000 speech.

"Mr. Boyd declined to comment on Mr. Blair?s version of his biography," Scocca wrote.

"My plan is to respond to the book in my own time and in my own way," Boyd was quoted as saying.

Scocca, interviewing Blair, asked, "So what about the addiction story?"

"'That?s not true,' Mr. Blair conceded. It was a mistake, he said, which Mr. Boyd himself had brought to the publisher?s attention before the book came out, but that accidentally went uncorrected. Future editions of the book will correct the passage, Mr. Blair said.

"(Michael Viner at New Millennium Press, Mr. Blair?s publisher, couldn?t be reached for comment by press time.)"

By Saturday, covering a speech Boyd gave in Roanoke, Va., to the Virginia Press Association, the Associated Press was reporting:

"Boyd said that initially he did not want to comment on Blair's book because he 'did not want to be a part of anything that would help him sell one book.' But Boyd said he felt he must respond to a passage that incorrectly described his mother's death as a result of a battle with drug abuse."

"Progressive Talk" at Black, Latino Expense?

The new "progressive" Air America talk-radio network, scheduled to debut March 31, was the subject of a number of newspaper pieces over the weekend, including a cover story on its star talker, Al Franken, in the New York Times Magazine.

But veteran public broadcaster Adam Clayton Powell III notes that not only is the new network pre-empting existing programming at its African American-owned home base, Inner City Broadcasting's WLIB in New York, as noted March 12, but the network plans to replace the Latino programming on stations in Chicago and Los Angeles.

"For a long time the Democrats couldn?t find any radio stations to broadcast their liberal lineup. So now they have a new strategy: pay stations serving black and Latino listeners to dump all of their community programming to carry the new liberal network," Powell said in a commentary on Washington's WHUT-TV.

Pierre Sutton, CEO of Inner City Broadcasting, told Journal-isms on March 12 that he hadn't finalized alternative plans for Caribbean programming in New York. He did not return telephone calls today.

A transcript of Powell's commentary is at the end of today's column.

It's Official: Medrano at Supreme Court for ABC

Manny Medrano, who has just left KNBC Los Angeles, is joining ABC News as a correspondent in the Washington, D.C. bureau assigned to cover the Supreme Court and provide legal analysis, ABC announced Friday.

?Manny has a wealth of experience in all aspects of the law ? from prosecuting important federal cases to handling complex civil litigation to covering big trials as a journalist to teaching in law school. We?re delighted that he will now bring all of that expertise to the very important job of covering the United States Supreme Court for ABC News,? ABC News president David Westin said in a news release.

As reported March 10, Medrano's new job makes him likely the highest profile Latino in network television news.

Sylvester Monroe Lands at Atlanta Paper

Sylvester Monroe, longtime Time magazine correspondent who took a buyout in 2001 from California's San Jose Mercury News, where he was assistant managing editor national/foreign and business, is returning to daily journalism.

"On April 5th, I begin a new job as Sunday Editor for the National/Foreign Desk of the Atlanta Journal Constitution," he tells Journal-isms.

Susan Stevenson, deputy managing editor at the AJC, said that "all those years on newsmagazines will have given him a good sense of story, and how to bring story into news in a way that's memorable and readable. And he's a good writer," a trait the paper hopes he will bring to his editing, Stevenson told Journal-isms.

Monroe's goodbye party at the Mercury News came three days before Sept. 11, 2001, after which he went back and edited copy for a week. He then flew off to Brazil for most of 2002 to work on a book, then began a stint with The Tavis Smiley show on National Public Radio as acting supervising senior editor. That job lasted from Aug. 18 to Oct. 17 of last year.

Chris Hernandez Leaving WBBM, Plans to Travel

Chris Hernandez, a general assignment reporter at WBBM-TV, the CBS-owned station in Chicago, is leaving the station April 2, Robert Feder reports in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Hernandez told Journal-isms that he plans to spend the next four or five months traveling in Mexico and Central America and that he wants to improve his Spanish. "I just want to travel up and down volcanoes and hike through the rain forest," he said. "I worked my way through school and didn't get a chance to spend summers in Europe," he said. When he returns, Hernandez said, he hopes to find a job in a smaller market and "get on the anchor track."

His bio says Hernandez is active in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists; he led a workshop on "The It Factor" at last summer's convention in New York.

Teens' Families Sue Ex-Cincy TV Reporter

"The families of four teens who claim they were sexually abused by former WCPO I-Team reporter Stephen Hill filed suit Friday against him, seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages," the Cincinnati Post reports.

"The suit was filed in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court on behalf of the teens by the grandmother of three of them and the mother of the fourth by attorney Robert Newman, who has offices downtown.

"The teens, according to the suit, are 19, 17, 15 and 14, according to the suit. Prosecutors said three of them are brothers, and the fourth is their cousin. "The suit, which asks for a jury trial, claims that Hill 'engaged in acts of sexual depravity and committed numerous assaults upon' them from March 2001 until Jan. 15. The teens 'have suffered and will continue to suffer severe emotional distress' as a result of Hill's actions, the suit says," the story continues.

DuCille, Irby Mentioned as N.Y. Times Photo Director

Washington Post Photo Editor Michel duCille and Kenny Irby of the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., are said to be on the short list of candidates for the job of New York Times director of photography, according to Jay DeFoore in Photo District News.

Acting director of photography David Frank, Sally Stapleton, former executive photo editor at the Associated Press, and Pulitzer winner David Hume Kennerly, currently a contributing editor at Newsweek, are also said to be in the running.

"Although he was spotted visiting the Times building in the last couple of weeks, Washington Post Photo Editor Michel duCille is an unlikely candidate. The two-time Pulitzer winner and current Pulitzer judge did not return calls requesting comment, but duCille's boss, Joe Elbert, dismissed the rumors outright," DeFoore writes.

"Kenny Irby is the visual journalism group leader at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. Irby is a writer, teacher and consultant whose areas of expertise include photojournalism, leadership, ethics and newsroom diversity. Before joining Poynter, Irby worked as a photographer and deputy director of photography at Newsday of Melville, N.Y., and as a photographer and assistant photo editor at The Oakland (Calif.) Press. "Irby says he's had 'conversations' with top editors about the job, which he characterized more as a consultation than an interview. 'It never hurts to talk, he says."

Ifill, Syler Among Gracie Allen Award Winners

Gwen Ifill of PBS' "Washington Week in Review" and Renee Syler of CBS-TV's "The Early Show" are among national winners of the Gracie Allen Award, sponsored by American Women in Radio and Television.

The award "recognizes exemplary programming created for women, by women and about women in all facets of electronic media," AWRT says. The prizes are to be presented at a gala at the New York Hilton on June 22, with local market award winners announced the previous day.

Syler won "individual achievement for best anchor" for a breast cancer awareness series, and Ifill for "individual achievement for best program host -- news." Radio Free Asia Mandarin Service was honored for "best news feature - hard news (radio) for "Special 23rd Birthday Party for Ms. Liu Di, Detained Beijing Cyber Writer."

Among awards in the local market, public access or student category, Univision KDTV in San Francisco won for "Best news story - single entry" for "Busco Trabajo/Cooperativa," and Univision in Phoenix won for "best news story - series" for "El Silencio De las Campesinas."

Where Copy Editors Say, "Wish I'd Written That"

"Look out/ Barbie:/ G.I. George/ is a doll" and "Looking for work? You/ and 9.4-million others" were among the top headlines that garnered winners honors for Jim Webster of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times in a contest held by the American Copy Editors Society, which concluded its annual convention in Houston.

Webster, who won for papers of 100,000 or more circulation, also wrote: "That better not be the water bill"(on a standalone photo of a woman reaching into her mailbox as flood waters slosh around the wheels of her bicycle), and "McDonald?s takes quarter pounding/Stock prices for the fast food chain drop with an expectation of its first-ever quarterly loss."

More winning headlines

Under the Radar: New Cigarette Targeting Blacks

The alternative paper the New York Press reports a development that seems to have gone under the radar:

"In 1990, R,J. Reynolds was poised to test market a new cigarette brand they called Uptown, and they made no bones about aiming it specifically toward blacks. After years of market research, they learned that three-quarters of black smokers prefer menthol brands, so Uptown was menthol. They also learned that many black smokers prefer to open their packs from the bottom, so they packed the cigarettes upside down. They were set to advertise heavily in black neighborhoods and black publications.

"When it came to light that the black community was being targeted by big tobacco, there was such an uproar that Reynolds was forced to shelve the idea.

"Fourteen years later, in an effort to compete with Newports, Brown and Williamson is doing much the same thing with their own well-established Kool brand.

"Last week, collectible Kool Mixx boxes hit the stores. Ostensibly a promotion tied in with their annual Kool Mixx National DJ Competition, the "special edition" packages come in four different styles. One of the full-cover illustrations features a rapper dripping with gold jewelry; two feature DJs working turntables; the fourth, hiphop dancers.

"The message is clear ?- collect ?em all, black kids, and trade ?em with your little black friends!

"We?ve never been shocked when a big tobacco company does something wicked. When we smoke, we smoke by choice; we know what?s involved. We?re also well aware that Kools are already popular among black smokers?just not as popular as Newports. Even so, this sort of bare-assed pandering is just a little too over the top."

Adam Powell Commentary on Air America Network

Tonight: African American and Hispanic voices ousted from radio, and it?s for your own good.

You may have heard a lot about a new radio network featuring liberal Democrats attacking President Bush all day and all night, seven days a week. This is America, and Americans believe in free speech.

But this speech has a price: For a long time the Democrats couldn?t find any radio stations to broadcast their liberal lineup. So now they have a new strategy: pay stations serving black and Latino listeners to dump all of their community programming to carry the new liberal network.

No word yet about a station here in D.C., but in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, the Democrats are competing with more conservative talk radio by buying all of the air time on black and Hispanic radio stations, all day and all night. In New York, it?s W-L-I-B, long the only black voice in New York radio and still one of the most important. They?ve even leased space in W-L-I-B?s studios on 125th Street, right down the block from Bill Clinton?s office.

When I was growing up, the call letters W-L-I-B stood for LIBeration. Now W-L-I-B will stand for LIBeral. There is a difference.

You can still go to the W-L-I-B dot com Web site and see its community outreach programs and African American history projects. But you?d better go quickly: Starting March 31, that will all end:

W-L-I-B will start carrying the new programs featuring the midday host from Minnesota Public Radio; the speech writer for former Minnesota Senator, later Vice President, Walter Mondale; and comedian Al Franken, who grew up in Minnesota. It?s not quite ?Prairie Home Companion? comes to Harlem, but you get the idea.

This is all perfectly legal, and community stations are often less profitable than mainstream media. So this may mean more money for inner city broadcasters.

But while they?re at it, the Democrats could go around the corner from W-L-I-B and lease the front page of the Amsterdam News, to print Al Franken?s comedy routines. Then they could buy the Afro American and other black-owned newspapers and print John Kerry campaign leaflets on page one. That?s essentially what they are doing, but on radio: buying their way onto the air waves by pushing aside minority radio programs.

Consider the outcry if black radio stations dumped community programming to carry conservatives praising President Bush all day and all night. And leading the protests would be: liberal Democrats, saying the new conservative network was part of consolidation, eliminating local voices. And they?d be right.

All of this comes the same week that Reverend Al Sharpton endorsed John Kerry. Sharpton now sees his future not in the White House but in a broadcast studio: He has even hired a Hollywood talent agency to arrange for a new talk show, starring Al Sharpton.

There?s good news and bad news for Reverend Sharpton: The good news is that a whole new talk radio network is moving into his neighborhood. The reverend could walk to work. If he hasn?t already been contacted by the new liberal network, they?re missing a cue.

Which brings up the bad news: Yes, he?s a Democrat, but Reverend Sharpton may be the wrong demographic.

For EE Perspectives, I?m AP.

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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