Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Job-Hunting Journalists Duped by Fake Newspaper

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Returning June 19

Accused Con Artist Said to Pay Staffers With Forged Checks

White Deaths Exceed Births for First Time in a Century

No Black Dads Pictured in Time Father's Day Feature

Protection Order Against Detroit Reporter Fleming Lifted

Senate Democrats Hold Rare Q-and-A With Black Journalists

TV One to Use Hands-On TV Production to Teach STEM

NAACP Fund's Ifill Calls Race vs. Class a False Choice

NFL Boss Defends Redskins Name as "Unifying Force"

Africans Uneasy Over Media Focus on Mandela

Short Takes

Police warn against anyone posting a resume or personal information onto the Gai

Accused Con Artist Said to Pay Staffers With Forged Checks

How desperate are some journalists to find newspaper work in this era of cutbacks and layoffs?

Nine or 10 journalists are reported to have fallen for a scam in which a 25-year-old accused con artist created a fake online newspaper. They joined his "staff."

Joshua Brian RandolphJoshua Brian Randolph was in the Hall County, Ga., Detention Center Friday night on "a lot of charges, over 30 to 35," a jailer told Journal-isms. Randolph was already known in that part of the world as the man who stole the identity of a teammate on the semi-pro Gainesville Heat basketball team, of which Randolph was the coach, according to John DAquino, writing in Georgia's South Hall Gazette.

Investigator Danny Sridej of the Oakwood, Ga., Police Department said Randolph, using the name Kevin Cobb, offered employment to legitimate reporters and then used their personal information to obtain credit from vendors, B.J. Williams, editor of AccessNorthGa.com, reported.

Randolph hired nine people for the newspaper, according to Shannon Casas, reporting for the Times of Gainesville. She wrote that investigator Sridej believed the employees worked for Randolph for no more than two or three weeks. "Sridej said some of them had been paid with cash and others had been given paychecks that bounced."

One journalist smelled something fishy and pulled away before signing on as executive editor. He wrote to Jim Romenesko's media blog Friday, telling his tale on condition that his name not be used.

Here's how the South Hall Gazette began its story about the scam on Monday:

"A former semi-pro basketball coach and 'online newspaper publisher' has been arrested and charged with eight counts of transaction card fraud and theft by deception.

"According to the Hall County Sheriff's Office, 25-year-old Joshua Brian Randolph set up an online newspaper start-up called the 'Gainesville Observer' as a front to steal personal information from the employees he 'hired'; 10 in all. This online newspaper had an office located at 720 Main Street in Gainesville.

"Randolph, who used the alias 'Kevin Cobb', stole the identity of a relative and opened four accounts under the relative's name; among them were a $1,300 dollar account with American Express and a $1,800 dollars account with Bank of America.

"Authorities accuse Randolph of paying the employees of the 'Gainesville Observer' with these forged checks while also allegedly writing fake employment/income verification letters. . . ."

Randolph pleaded guilty in 2007 to impersonating an officer, the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times reported in 2009. Last October, Randolph, then head coach of the Gainesville Heat of the American Basketball Association, was arrested and charged with theft, forgery and deposit account fraud, according to WGTJ-AM in Gainesville.

There is more. "Earlier this year, Randolph was charged with transaction card fraud and identity theft in connection with stealing personal information from customers at Greene Ford Co. on Browns Bridge Road, according to an incident report filed Feb. 25 by the sheriff's office," the Times reported. And "Randolph may face extradition to Kearny County, Kansas where he allegedly presented himself as 'Jazmine Stephens,' a contractor for an online hauling company," the South Hall Gazette said.

The journalist who wrote Romenesko said he answered an ad for an executive editor on JournalismJobs.com.

"I should have known that something [was] up when I asked him for the offer letter with all the things that we agreed on, and he called it an 'officer' letter," the journalist wrote. "Also, letter wasn't on a [stationery], but on a regular plain Word doc, and it didn't mention any of the things that we talked about besides the salary (such as insurance, moving costs, etc.). . . . "

He continued, "I'm happy I dodged a bullet, but my heart goes out to the real journalists who were hired by Cobb. I asked a friend yesterday: 'What type of reporter can be scammed like this? 'But my friend and I then agreed: The economy and industry are so bad that people are desperate. And believe me I'm ashamed of myself for saying that about those reporters because I had a level of desperation too. . . ."

White Deaths Exceed Births for First Time in a Century

"Deaths exceeded births among non-Hispanic white Americans for the first time in at least a century, according to new census data, a benchmark that heralds profound demographic change," Sam Roberts reported Thursday for the New York Times.

"The disparity was tiny — only about 12,000 — and was more than made up by a gain of 188,000 as a result of immigration from abroad. But the decrease for the year ending July 1, 2012, coupled with the fact that a majority of births in the United States are now to Hispanic, black and Asian mothers, is further evidence that white Americans will become a minority nationwide within about three decades.

"Over all, the number of non-Hispanic white Americans is expected to begin declining by the end of this decade.

" 'These new census estimates are an early signal alerting us to the impending decline in the white population that will characterize most of the 21st century,' said William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution.

"The transition will mean that 'today's racial and ethnic minorities will no longer be dependent on older whites for their economic well-being,' Dr. Frey said. In fact, the situation may be reversed. 'It makes more vivid than ever the fact that we will be reliant on younger minorities and immigrants for our future demographic and economic growth,' he said. . . ."


To celebrate Father’s Day, Lean In teamed with Time to ask dads to write open letters to their daughters. (Credit: leanin.org)

No Black Dads Pictured in Time Father's Day Feature

"Dear Sheryl Sandberg,

"You advise women to lean in and speak up. I'm taking your advice," Dori J. Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, wrote Friday in an open letter to the author of the best-selling "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead."

"I can't tell you how disappointed I was in the Father's Day feature on which your Lean In Foundation collaborated with Time magazine. Not one African-American father appears on the Time website. I know it shouldn't have shocked me.

"Content audits, such as one by The Opportunity Agenda, tell us that even in the age of President Obama, the media continue to pigeonhole black men, consigning them to coverage about crime, sports and entertainment, out of proportion with their actual involvement. Equally important, the media rarely show black men in all of their humanity as doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and yes, fathers.

"Sadly, this feature is a stark example of the gap between coverage and reality, and not just because it ignores black fathers. There were also no Asian-American or Native American fathers in Time. I note that the magazine did a good job of presenting a cross section of white and Latino fathers.

"Unfortunately, the other dads of color— one black and the other Asian-American — are relegated to your foundation's website. . . ."

Time magazine received the 2012 Thumbs Down Award from the National Association of Black Journalists "for its lack of diversity within its reporting corps." Among the particulars, NABJ said "the magazine has eliminated blacks from major news coverage, including a special commemorative issue on the 10th anniversary of the [Sept. 11, 2001] terrorist attacks that depicted no African Americans. . . ."

Protection Order Against Detroit Reporter Fleming Lifted

Leonard FlemingDetroit News reporter Leonard Fleming, the subject of headlines in January when the ex-wife of state Treasurer Andy Dillon received a personal protection order against him, has been free of the order since March 21, the Wayne County, Mich., Circuit Court confirmed last week.

Carol Dillon asked the court to lift the order, and Judge Richard Halloran granted it then, according to the court clerk's office.

The personal protection order, granted without a hearing at which both sides could testify, made headlines because of its sensational allegations. Dillon filed papers saying Fleming had threatened to kill her with a baseball bat.

"According to documents in Wayne County Circuit Court, Carol Dillon also said Fleming harassed her numerous times and once texted her a photo of his penis. She said the message was: 'I would be missing this if I discontinued being his friend,' " Jeff Wattrick of Deadline Detroit wrote in January.

Fleming was transferred from his city hall beat and reportedly suspended for 10 days.

Dillon could not be reached for comment. Fleming, who is now a general assignment reporter covering transportation issues, did not want to speak on the record.

However, friends told reporter Steve Neavling in January that "the accusations are outrageous and insulting because Carol Dillon is the one who became irate and demanding when the reporter wouldn’t leave his girlfriend. . . ."

The starting topics for the Senate Democrats' African American Media Roundtable

Senate Democrats in Rare Q-and-A With Black Journalists

"The sole Democratic African-American senator cast doubt on the need for a 'black agenda' from the president and on its chances of passage in Congress during a Democratic forum with largely African-American reporters Wednesday," Suzanne Gamboa reported for the Associated Press.

"Massachusetts Sen. William 'Mo' Cowan said the issues that black Americans are concerned about are the same as those causing white Americans concern, although to different degrees. . . ."

Attending the on-the-record African American Media Roundtable, sponsored by the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, were Sens. Mark Begich, Alaska; Robert P. Casey Jr., Pennsylvania; Chris Coons, Delaware; Cowan; Mark Pryor, Arkansas; Mary Landrieu, Louisiana; Tom Harkin, Iowa; Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota; Debbie Stabenow, Michigan; Ben Cardin, Maryland; and Mark R. Warner of Virginia.

Eighteen reporters were present: April D. Ryan, American Urban Radio Network; Joe Madison, SiriusXM; Keli Goff, freelancer; Michael H. Cottman of blackamericaweb.com; Hazel Trice Edney, TriceEdneyWire.com; William Douglas, McClatchy Washington Bureau; Kristal High, Politic365.com; Denise Rolark Barnes, Washington Informer; Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post; Deborah Berry, Gannett News Service; Leroy Jones Jr., "Ask Talk & Listen With Political Jones" and PoliticalJones.com; Joyce Jones, BET; Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post; Gamboa; Lauren Victoria Burke of the Crew of 42; Len Burnett of Uptown magazine; Avis Thomas- Lester of the Afro American Newspapers; and L. Joy Williams of "This Week in Blackness," according to Tyrone Gayle, a spokesman for the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.

TV One to Use Hands-On TV Production to Teach STEM

"TV One will offer a educational initiative to engage middle school students in the television production field, said network officials," R. Thomas Umstead reported Friday for Multichannel News.

"The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program will provide educational support for sixth, seventh and eighth graders in the four respective subjects through hands-on television production activities beginning in September of this year. The curriculum, which will utilize original network programming, will be available at www.tvone.tv and at Cable in the Classroom's website, www.ciconline.org.

"The program will feature such lessons as Anatomy of a Television Production, Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production, which will present students with authentic tasks that television industry professionals face, said network officials. The curriculum will also include instructional and informative interviews with production executives from TV One and those who work on its scripted original comedy series Belle's. . . ."

NAACP Fund's Ifill Calls Race vs. Class a False Choice

"The decision is in. All consideration of race in college admissions is over.

Sherrilyn A. Ifill"No, the Supreme Court has not yet announced its decision in the landmark case of Fisher v. University of Texas; that ruling is expected any day now. But an alarming number of scholars, pundits and columnists — many of them liberal — have declared that economic class, not race, should be the appropriate focus of university affirmative-action efforts," wrote Sherrilyn A. Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc. and cousin of PBS journalist Gwen Ifill.

"How can we explain this decision to throw in the towel on race-based affirmative action? Are we witnessing a surrender in advance of sure defeat? Or just an early weariness with a debate that, a decade ago, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor predicted would last another 25 years?," Ifill wrote in the New York Times on Thursday.

"Perhaps it is the presence of a black president that has encouraged so many to believe that race is simply no longer a significant factor in American life. It is true that we have come a long way since the days of Jim Crow segregation. But the plain fact is that race still matters.

"It matters with frightening frequency in the encounters of young black men with the police. It matters in our ability to get access to affordable housing, and in the wealth accumulated (or not) by our families. Whether the name on our résumé is Lakeisha or Leslie matters when we try to get a job interview. And it matters often, though not always, in our views about the continuing significance of race in American life. . . . "

Among those arguing recently for class-based affirmative action was columnist Bill Keller, former New York Times executive editor.

NFL Boss Defends Redskins Name as "Unifying Force"

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell defended the Washington Redskins name in a June 5 letter to 10 members of Congress who urged team owner Daniel M. Snyder and Goodell to change the name last month.

Cindy Boren reported Wednesday in the Washington Post, "He outlined the history of the Redskins' nickname, writing, 'Neither in intent nor use was the name ever meant to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group.' Goodell also cited Native Americans and polls in support of the nickname.

" 'The Washington Redskins name has thus from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context,' he writes. 'For the team's millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America’s most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.' . . . "

Meanwhile, Matt Berman wrote Wednesday for National Journal, "Finally, the 'Redskins' nickname and mascot have been ditched. But no, it wasn't by Washington's NFL team that features phenom-QB Robert Griffin III. It was by Idaho's Teton High School, which stars kids who probably aren't as great as RGIII but probably have functioning knees.

"The superintendent at Teton High School in Driggs, Idaho, made the decision as a means of getting students to 'see people beyond the color of their skin' and 'get to know who people are without using nicknames or assumptions based on outward appearances.' The district's superintendent, Monte Woolstenhulme, dropped the name without the approval of the school board, acknowledging that he'd receive some backlash but saying, 'We're moving forward with this change.' . . . "

Africans Uneasy Over Media Focus on Mandela

"As Nelson Mandela remains in a Pretoria hospital, journalists from around the world have set up camp outside. Some residents offer help, others say the media's behavior is unethical," Thuso Khumalo reported Wednesday for Germany's Deutsche Welle.

"When the news of Nelson Mandela's hospitalisation broke during the early hours of Saturday, June 8, foreign and local journalists immediately sprang into action.

"Media teams were dispatched to take up position outside Mandela's home in Johannesburg, his rural home in Qunu, and at the entrance to the hospital in Pretoria where he is being treated for a recurring lung infection.

"The group outside the hospital consists of several dozen people. They monitor the hospital entrance day and night, taking turns to ensure no movement is missed.

"Dozens more outside broadcasting vehicles are lined up along the street, providing frequent updates about Mandela's health and information about the visitors going in.

"Day and night, the journalists' recorders and cameras are in hand, ready to record interviews, film and take photographs.

"No car arriving or leaving is spared by the cameramen and women's lens. They all hope to capture a shot of Mandela leaving the hospital or of the high profile people visiting him. . . ."

Short Takes

  • "When the New York Post wrote about former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien’s cool new job as a correspondent on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, they made a not-so-tiny mistake: They illustrated it with a photo of CNN anchor Zoraida Sambolin, currently the channel's highest-profile Latina anchor," Eric Deggans wrote for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times. "The mixup was particularly problematic for the New York Post for its recent history; it is now the subject of lawsuit by two young men featured in a cover photo during the search for suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing back in April. . . ."

  • "Tampa Bay Times TV/media critic Eric Deggans on Thursday was selected by the National Association of Black Journalists Arts & Entertainment Task Force as the recipient of its 2013 Legacy Award," the Times reported Thursday.

  • "For this week's 'News or Noise?' we look at media coverage on labor provisions in the Senate immigration reform bill [podcast]," reads an announcement for NPR's "Latino USA." "Why so much media buzz around visas for high tech workers in comparison to the coverage on the farmworker deal? María Hinojosa speaks with Ted Hesson, immigration editor at Fusion."

  • An unscientific online poll of current former Times-Picayune workers asked about the New Orleans paper's transition to digital-first, in which it cut back on the frequency of the print edition, found that "Almost no one thought the changes had been handled well," Rebecca Theim wrote Friday for Columbia Journalism Review. "Among current employees, 85 percent disagreed with the statement that the company had done a good job handling the changes and among former employees, disagreement was virtually unanimous. . . ."

  • "Richelle Carey is no longer working for HLN, a spokesperson confirms with TVNewser," Chris Ariens reported Thursday for TVNewser. "Carey was an anchor and correspondent for Prime News and had been with HLN for 7 years, joining from KMOV-TV in St. Louis. . . ."

  • "Nicole Marie Richardson is leaving Inc. magazine. Richardson had been with the magazine since 2008, most recently serving as executive editor, special projects for Inc.com.," Chris O'Shea reported Friday for FishbowlNY. "In an email announcing her departure, Richardson said she was leaving because she was 'ready to pursue other opportunities.' . . . "

  • "Journalist/activist/filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas casually mentioned his newest documentary, Documented, to me when we gathered to petition the New York Times to completely stop using the terms 'illegal' and 'illegal immigrants,' " Andrea Plaid wrote Friday for Racialicious. "But I thought he was in the throes of shooting or at the beginning of post-production. In other words, the movie was a long way off from being in the theater. Well, documentary-fan me is so happy to announce that the movie will make its world premiere next Friday, June 21, at Washington, DC's American Film Institute's documentary festival! . . ."

  • "A FRAGILE TRUST [trailer] is the first and only documentary to tell the shocking story of Jayson Blair, the most infamous serial plagiarist of our time, and how he unleashed the massive scandal that rocked the New York Times and the entire world of journalism," the filmmakers declared. "We are pleased to announce that after 7 years in the making, A FRAGILE TRUST will have its world premiere this coming Saturday at Sheffield Doc/Fest," in Sheffield, England. [Blair told Journal-isms by email Saturday, "I fully cooperated and think Samantha Grant is an amazing documentarian. I am sure she told the story in an excellent way. But, as I have told Sam, I probably won't watch it for years because of the painful honesty of the piece. I am proud of her doing this over 10 years. She put a look of work into [it]. We probably spent hundreds of hours communicating about it and several dozen hours filming. I didn't see CQ/CX either for similar reasons," referring to last year's off-Broadway play.]

  • "Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth has announced the appointment of Michelle Ferrier, Ph.D., associate professor at Elon University in Elon, N.C., to Associate Dean for Innovation, Research/Creative Activity and Graduate Studies. She will also hold an associate professor position in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. The appointment begins in July," the college announced Tuesday.

  • Mark Mitchell, a collector of African American memorabilia with a substantial stock of historic newspapers, is the subject of a profile by Lonnae O'Neal Parker in Sunday's Washington Post Magazine.

  • WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh has announced the hiring of Bofta Yimam as an investigative reporter, Kevin Eck reported Friday for TVSpy. "Yimam comes to WTAE from Memphis [FOX-owned] station WHBQ where she was a general assignment reporter."

  • "Two former interns filed a lawsuit against Condé Nast on Thursday, saying the company failed to pay them minimum wage at their summer jobs at W Magazine and The New Yorker, and asked that it be approved as a class-action suit," Christine Haughney reported Thursday for the New York Times.

  • Among the findings from the "Unite Rochester" project of the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., "59 percent vs. 34 percent favored programs to help black people and other minorities make up for past discrimination. Support was highest among city and minority respondents but was still favored by 53 percent of white respondents. . . .," Dick Moss reported Thursday. He wrote, "Since last fall, Democrat and Chronicle editors and reporters have conducted hundreds of interviews, convened numerous panels of readers, and participated in a number of community discussions — both in person and online — about racial attitudes in Rochester. . . ."

  • Philip Eil of the Phoenix alternative newspaper in Providence, R.I., compiled opinions from local reporters and community members about the widely circulated video of Melisa Lawrence, the mother of a 16-year-old girl who was shot at a graduation party.  Lawrence curses at a reporter, "throws a rock at the cameraman, goes into the house to retrieve a baseball bat, then apparently sics her pit bulls on the news crew, sending the reporter screaming, running away, and dropping her microphone. . . ."

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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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