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Johnson Publishing President Steps Down

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Desiree Rogers Ruled Out as Anne Sempowski Ward Successor

Journalists-of-Color Groups Consider Joint Conventions

Pius Njawe, Renowned African Journalist, Dies in Va. Car Crash

Haitian Americans Revisit Quake Scene, Six Months Later

LeBron-ESPN Show Called a Blueprint for Advertisers

. . . Greg Moore Hopes the Move Will Wake His Hometown

So, How Did Winning the World Cup Really Feel?

San Antonio Paper Replaces "Unauthorized Immigrant"

Columnist Kristof Concedes Highlighting White Foreigners

Luix Overbea, Reporter and NABJ Co-Founder, Dies at 87

Short Takes

Desiree Rogers Ruled Out as Sempowski Ward Successor

Anne Sempowski WardSix weeks after the arrival of former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers and two weeks after the naming of a new editor-in-chief for Ebony, Johnson Publishing Co. Monday announced the resignation of Anne Sempowski Ward, its president and chief operating officer.

Ward was on maternity leave.

Rogers, a longtime friend of Chairman and CEO Linda Johnson Rice and a fellow Chicagoan, started work June 1 as a consultant "assisting with various aspects of corporate strategy as it relates to our core brands, Ebony, Jet and Fashion Fair," spokeswoman Wendy Parks told Journal-isms.

Rogers' presence appeared to underscore Johnson Rice's June declaration that, "I have no plans to sell the company. None," and that she was excited about what her new editor might bring to the table.

Parks told Journal-isms Monday that Rogers' initial contract was for two months and that "She is not being considered for president and COO."

Ward was president and COO of Fashion Fair Cosmetics when she was named Johnson Publishing Co. COO in October 2008. "She will be responsible for developing the company's financial and operational strategies and implementing diversified initiatives to grow sales and brand equity across all JPC brands including Ebony magazine, Jet magazine and Fashion Fair Cosmetics," Rice said then.

Before joining Fashion Fair, Ward was assistant vice president of African-American marketing for the Coca-Cola Co. and spent more than a decade at Procter & Gamble, "where she led several brands and categories, including Pampers, Always, Tampax and hair care. She had a lead role in the launch of significant African-American marketing campaigns and created the 'Total You' beauty platform across P&G's largest beauty brands," a news release said at the time.

The June 2 announcement that Amy DuBois Barnett, deputy editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar magazine and former editor of Honey, would become editor-in-chief was viewed as a favorable step on the editorial side, especially since the slot had been vacant or filled on an interim basis for 14 months.

Ward's portfolio was principally the business and marketing side of the company.

For 2010, according to the Publishers Information Bureau, "Black Enterprise, Ebony, Essence and Jet were down a collective 18 percent in ad pages through the first quarter - about double the industry average," as Jason Fell reported June 17 for Folio. "Ad pages slipped 8.2 percent at Black Enterprise while Johnson Publishing's Ebony and Jet saw dramatic declines of 30.6 percent and 33.1 percent respectively (Johnson points out, however, that Ebony and Jet both published one fewer issue during the quarter compared to last year).

"Time Inc.'s Essence, meanwhile, reported the smallest decline: -0.3 percent."

Rice said in a statement Monday, "Anne has been a significant asset to our company and led key, corporate-wide initiatives for EBONY, JET and Fashion Fair. During Anne's tenure, we underwent significant restructuring and reorganization of the company. Her contributions have helped to position the company for the future."

For her part, Ward said in the release, "It has been a phenomenal privilege to be the first member from outside of the Johnson family to serve as president and COO of both the publishing and cosmetics divisions of Johnson Publishing Company.

"I am grateful for Linda Johnson Rice's confidence in entrusting me with such a significant responsibility. Working with so many dedicated people has been personally and professionally rewarding and I will miss them dearly. At the same time, I am excited about joining my husband, Kevin, in our business-consulting firm. With the birth of our son in May, this is the ideal time for me to chart a new course."

Rogers is one of Chicago's movers and shakers. She has a Harvard MBA and has been an Illinois Lottery director and president of Peoples Energy Corp., as well as president of social networking for Allstate Insurance Co.

She left the White House "under the cloud of the November 2009 Salahis gatecrasher fiasco at the White House state dinner for India's prime minister, and complaints that she kept too-high a profile," as reported when she joined Johnson Publishing.

Pius Njawe, Renowned African Journalist, Dies in Va. Crash

Pius N. Njawe, a celebrated African journalist said to have been arrested more than 100 times for his Cameroonian newspaper’s independent and sometimes critical reporting, was killed Monday in an automobile accident in Virginia, his newspaper, Le Messager, reported on Tuesday.

Pius NjaweNjawe, 53, was in the United Sates attending a conference at Howard University of the Cameroonian Diaspora for Change (CAMDIAC). He had a daughter in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

"A 1994 Lexus sedan was traveling south on I-664 when it was rear-ended by a flat-bed tractor-trailer," the Virginia State Police said Thursday in a news release from Chesapeake, Va. "The drivers of both vehicles were transported by ambulance to Norfolk General Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The front-seat passenger of the Lexus, Pius Noumeni Njawe, 53, of the African country of Cameroon, died at the scene. All three individuals were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash."

Kristin Davis reported Tuesday for the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk that the Lexus stalled in the left lane of the Interstate when it was hit.

"Njawe became West Africa’s youngest editor and publisher when he founded the newspaper at 22," according to a bio from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. "Njawe has been arrested over 30 times for his newspaper’s independent and sometimes critical reporting. He was sentenced to two years in prison in 1997 for reporting that President Paul Biya had experienced a minor heart attack during a soccer match.

"In 2000, Njawe was named one of the '50 World Press Freedom Heroes' of the last half century by the International Press Institute, and he won the World Newspaper Association’s Golden Pen of Freedom in 1993. In 1991, he received the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award and was the first winner of the Free Expression Award of the International Union of French-Speaking Journalists."

Another account said Njawe had been arrested 126 times and served prison time on three occasions.

The National Association of Black Journalists gave him its Percy Qoboza award for foreign journalists in 2004. In spring 2001, Njawe was a visiting lecturer in the University of North Texas’ Department of Journalism.

“The African media has lost a truly courageous individual whose bravery in the face of government intimidation served as an inspiration for other journalists in similar circumstances across the continent," Director David Dadge of the International Press Institute said. [Added July 13.]

Journalists-of-Color Groups Consider Joint Conventions

At the 2008 Unity convention in Chicago, co-founders Will Sutton, left, Mark Trahant, Juan Gonzalez and Lloyd LaCuesta recall the 1988 meeting creating  the Unity: Journalists of Color alliance. (Unity News photo By Marie DeJesus)The journalist-of-color associations, buffeted by declining convention attendance and membership as the media attempt to cope with recession and technological change, are considering holding joint conventions to cut down on costs.

"I have had some talks with the alliance partners and we are scheduling a conference call following the convention cycle to begin formal discussions," Barbara Ciara, president of Unity: Journalists of Color, told Journal-isms. "We are in the process of gathering contract information on future conventions and all will share that information with the idea of discussing sharing costs in the same city.

"The idea is to have two groups have separate conventions jointly in the same city, same hotel" bloc. This suggestion "is to have it happen in off UNITY years," she said in an e-mail.

"We lost money in our convention in Boston in 2009, and it led to a deficit for the year. Our registration is up 30 percent from where we were last year, and I don't believe we will lose any money," Sharon Chan, president of the Asian American Journalists Association, told Alejandra Matos, a Scripps Howard Foundation Wire intern who reported on the issue Sunday for the Kansas City infoZine. "All options are on the table for the 2013 convention."

"Conventions traditionally produce the highest revenue for groups like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists," Matos wrote.

"A decline in attendance at last year's convention held in San Juan, P.R., caused NAHJ to lose money.

" 'When you have less attendance and less sponsorships, that's what happens with the convention,' said NAHJ Executive Director Iv?°n Rom?°n. 'Then you don't have the profit you need.'"

Ronnie Washines, outgoing president of the Native American Journalists Association, the smallest of the groups, told Journal-isms he liked the idea of joint conventions because they provide opportunities for the various groups to learn about the others. "I look to learn something, and it's not necessarily based on race," he said. For example, he lives in a rural area of Washington state and am "kind of naive" even about tribal members in urban settings, he said.

"NABJ is examining every option on the table in order to best position this association moving forward," Gregory Lee Jr., treasurer of the National Association of Black Journalists, told members. "As you know NABJ's convention provides 60 to 65 percent of the association's annual budget."

Lee told Journal-isms that NABJ had 972 paid registrations as of July 7, which means nearly 1,100 attendees. Last year's gathering in Tampa, Fla., drew just over 1,400 paid registrants and 1,900 attendees, Lee said.


Marlie Hall reports from tents in earthquake-damaged Haiti for (video)

Haitian Americans Revisit Quake Scene, Six Months Later

"In the last few days, aid organizations and other institutions have released impressive reports about their progress in Haiti since the fateful January 12th earthquake destroyed the country's most important city," Garry Pierre-Pierre, editor of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Haitian Times, wrote Monday for

"On the other side of the spectrum, critics of the Haitian government have been equally adept at exposing the snail's pace of progress from the deeply unpopular Haitian president Rene Preval. Opposition parties, which prior to the earthquake were irrelevant, found a raison d'etre and have been actively leading weekly protests demanding that Preval step down.

"But anyone who thought that six months later, things would be running smoothly in Haiti either failed to grasp the depth of the destruction heaped on by the earthquake or didn't understand how weak almost every institution in the country was before the earthquake."

Meanwhile, Joel Dreyfuss, managing editor of, wrote of his visit home, "I am lost in Port-au-Prince. This is the city where I was born, where I lived as a child, where I came back to live in my 20s, and where I have returned to visit a couple of dozen times since I started living abroad. But I am bewildered, suddenly not knowing where I am because nothing is recognizable. With the six-month anniversary of the earthquake looming, I had finally worked up the courage to visit Haiti. The journalist in me said that I had to see it for myself. But being lost is the last experience I expected. . . .

"There are memories at every intersection, experiences that took place in houses and churches and schools and backyards: dancing during carnival, spirited arguments over Barbancourt rum and lime, and fearful silences under dictatorship. . . .

"Keeping things as they are is no longer an option. The question is whether enough Haitians will rise out of their self-interest; tap the vast stream of Haitians who have experienced success in America, Canada and Europe; and make use of the good will and commitment that the global community has shown to build something even better than my memories."

LeBron-ESPN Show Called a Blueprint for Advertisers

"By now you've heard the offense against basketball star LeBron James' one-hour TV special to announce his team choice — that it was narcissistic, sullied his brand and blurred the journalistic line for ESPN," Rich Thomaselli wrote Monday for "But what you haven't heard is the defense of the man who helped put the show together: uber-agent Ari Emanuel, who says 'The Decision' forwarded the paradigm for advertiser-funded programming.

"In an exclusive interview with Advertising Age, Mr. Emanuel, co-CEO of the William Morris Endeavor agency, helped fill in some of the gaps on the backstory of how the program came together, and addressed the naysayers. 'Everybody can say what they want ‚Äî it was the wrong decision, there was too much hoopla, whatever ‚Äî but for me it was about doing the event, getting the advertisers to participate and doing it for charity,' Mr. Emanuel said. 'This was a major success for advertisers, and we're getting closer to pushing the needle on advertiser-content programming.'"                    

. . . Greg Moore Hopes the Move Will Wake His Hometown

Gregory L. Moore"As a native of Cleveland, I am disappointed that King James traded in his crown to become a third Musketeer in Miami," Gregory L. Moore, editor of the Denver Post, wrote for his newspaper on Sunday. "But I understand.

"It's all Cleveland's fault.

"It's Cleveland's fault that it did not take advantage of his seven years there to build a championship team.

"It's Cleveland's fault that it didn't build a more dynamic city, especially along a lakefront occupied by a private airport for the rich that could have had great restaurants and residential development.

"It's Cleveland's fault that he was the one celebrity in one of the poorest cities in America.

"What is a rich black athlete to do?

"Where is it written that by accident of the draft, a talented young man is destined to live out his days in the only place he has known? What youngster doesn't dream of using his talent to see the world, to live in different places?

"We all do. And he had the talent to make it happen. . . .

"Maybe this will be a wake-up call. Not even James, arguably the greatest talent in the NBA, could convince other stars to join him in Cleveland. At the height of his powers, he had to know it would be this way for years to come.

"Now the city needs to rebuild its psyche and its image. It needs to get serious about developing the lakefront. It needs to build up its entertainment quotient with clubs and restaurants. It needs to attract the middle class and the rich back downtown and create a safe, vibrant environment. And it needs to project the image of a winner by investing in its franchises to attract stars who win. Stars beget other stars, winning begets winning.

"Cleveland will rebound from the desertion of its native son. And it's not really a desertion. He just grew up and was able to realize a dream.

"Be grateful you had him for seven years. It was only luck that it was that way at all."

So, How Did Winning the World Cup Really Feel?

Spanish sports reporter Sara Carbonero started out interviewing her boyfriend, Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas, after Spain defeated the Netherlands, 1-0, Sunday to win the World Cup for the first time. Casillas ran out of ways to express his happiness, and Carbonero ran out of questions. (video)

San Antonio Paper Replaces "Unauthorized Immigrant"

"The Express-News no longer refers to people who enter this country illegally, or who overstay legal visas, as 'undocumented,' " public editor Bob Richter explained July 4 to readers of the San Antonio Express-News. "The newspaper's Ethics and Practices Committee two years ago adopted the term 'unauthorized immigrants' to describe people who don't have the proper paperwork to live here.

"That said, Express-News Editor Robert Rivard asked our ethics committee to revisit this terminology issue — to provide clarity for our people who write and edit stories on immigration reform, illegal immigration and related topics. Our panel, after much discussion, decided to replace the 'Unauthorized immigrant' entry in our Ethics and Practices Policy with:

"Illegal immigration: The movement of people into the United States who do not have proper documentation.

"As with other violations of the law, all suggestions that individuals have broken immigration laws must be attributed. The correct way to describe a person's immigration status, when such information is relevant, is to say a person is in the country illegally — citing the source of your information. For example: 'Police said the man is in the United States illegally,' or, 'Border Patrol agents said they detained 40 men who were in the country illegally.'

"Do not use 'illegal' as a noun.

"This incorporates some objections to the previously suggested language, yet it is broad enough to allow reporters and editors flexibility in the wording we use in covering what is a decidedly emotional issue. The change is effective immediately."

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, who focuses much of his attention on Third World problems, answers questions Friday via YouTube. (video)

Columnist Kristof Concedes Highlighting White Foreigners

"In an unusually frank discussion of his approach, NYT columnist Nicholas D. Kristof has acknowledged that a key component of his narrative strategy is to emphasize the role of white foreigner as the savior of poor black Africans in need of help," the website nytpicker, dedicated to news and critiques about the New York Times, alleged on Sunday.

"'Very often I do go to developing countries where local people are doing extraordinary work,' Kristof conceded Friday in a video posted on his blog, 'and instead I tend to focus on some foreigner, often some American, who’s doing something there.' "

Nytpicker is guilty of exaggeration. What Kristof said was simply that to get the attention of Americans, it's better to have Americans in the story.

"Kristof — a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning op-ed columnist who focuses much of his attention on Third World problems including rape, prostitution, hunger and lack of education — has been praised by presidents and world leaders for his compassionate and determined effort to help the destitute," the item continued.

Then came the spin: "But to some of his readers, Kristof has demonstrated, at times, a condescending superiority over those he wants to help — portraying himself, and other Americans working on these issues, as seemingly necessary to the process of bringing about change.

"Those feelings bubbled over into public discussion late Friday afternoon, as Kristof answered questions from readers via YouTube."

Luix Overbea, Reporter and NABJ Co-Founder, Dies at 87

Luix OverbeaLuix V. Overbea, one of the 44 founding members of the National Association of Black Journalists and a longtime veteran reporter for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, died Saturday in Boston due to kidney failure, NABJ reported. Overbea was 87.

"Although his career was primarily spent working in mainstream media, usually as the first and only black in the newsroom, he challenged NABJ to never forget the black press. From politics to sports, from civil rights to entertainment, Overbea's diverse career focused on shedding light on untold stories. Overbea also worked for the Associated Negro Press; his work graced the pages of black newspapers across the country. Overbea received NABJ's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993," an NABJ announcement said.

Boston freelance journalist Kenneth J. Cooper wrote to his NABJ colleagues on Monday:

"In his understated, mild-mannered way, Luix was always willing to extend a helping hand to other journalists. I met him at the NAACP convention, in Denver, in 1981. It was my first out-of-town assignment. Other than writing the reaction story about new President Ronald Reagan, the Boston Globe had not really given me much instruction about what to do there. Luix, picking up on my green-ness, pulled me aside and schooled me how to cover the convention — any convention really — how to pick out the sessions that look most interesting, to float from session to session until find one where news is happening, to take soundings from the delegates.

"I already knew who Luix was because he and I, decades apart, had worked for the St. Louis American, a black weekly. I would also note Luix's intellectual breadth. In the early 1980s, I went to his house in Boston once to hear a talk by Bobbi Sykes, the first Australian aborigine to receive a PhD. Luix was a superb journalist with an expansive sense of his role and his world."

Short Takes

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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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Jesse's a Witness

It was timely and correct for Jesse Jackson  to condemn the petty and offensive remarks by Dan Gilbert after LeBron James decided he did not want to work for Gilbert into perpetuity.
I hope people will continue to insert where appropriate American slavery references when the situations call for such dialogue. I reject the defensive posturing which suggests we should only talk about slavery during Black history month or when an iconic Black historical leader is recognized for an event or birthday. Our nation should learn from our two domestic holocausts.
The lessons of history, however deplorable and sensitive it is, should never been censored or suffer the prohibition of awkwardness and political correctness.

Journalists of Color Group Consider Joint Conventions

I've been saying this for years that the journalism organizations need to combine forces. In order for all of us to achieve our goals, we need to work together. In fact, we just need to keep with the Unity format for the next several years until the industry gets out of its slump. It saddens me that there aren't enough print students at the universities and the industry is facing other issues. All of this is because we are not working together to solve these issues. I got into this business because of those who trailblaze the path before me and there's a lot of people who have now lost their mojo. Let's work together people to get our mojo back!!

Merissa S. Green

2000 graduate of Florida A&M University

reporter for The Ledger

Luix Overbea, Reporter and NABJ Co-Founder, Dies at 87

Luix was a great mentor when I was a cub reporter at The Boston Globe and he was a sage veteran at The Christian Science Monitor. My favorite story about him is how he was assigned all things black as a lone black reporter at The Winston Salem Journal in the early '60s and wound up covering the Winston Salem State Univ. basketball team with a flashy guard named Earl Monroe. Luix nicknamed the young man "The Pearl," which Earl Monroe verified to me a couple years ago when the Wizards honored his number in D.C.

Luix Overbea (Gwen Ifill)

I too, like Ken, have a story about how Luix Overbea saved my career. I tell it often to aspiring journalists.

The year was 1977, and I was working at my very first grown up journalism job for the Boston Herald American. After doing duty as a newsroom gopher and a food writer, I finally got a chance to cover hard news. The bosses sent me to a meeting of the Boston School Committee.

In retrospect, I realize I was woefully underprepared. I barely knew how to get to the school committee offices. More important, I did not come equipped with the back story of the relationships on a school board still fighting among themselves over the fallout from forced school busing. These were the days of legendary anti-busing icons like Louise Day Hicks and Elvira “Pixie” Palladino.

I showed up with a notebook determined to write everything down. The committee members quickly lapsed into bureaucratese, leaving me and my limited knowledge in the dust. After quite a bit of this, the meeting was suddenly gaveled to a close and everyone abruptly left the room, including observers and reporters – who all seemed to be in something of a rush.

Sitting there dumbfounded, I could tell that something had just happened. I just had no idea what.

Then Luix Overbea, the Christian Science Monitor reporter walked over to me and paused. I imagine now there was pity in his eyes. .”They just fired the superintendent,” he said. “You might want to go file a story.”

My journalism career – so promising up until that moment -- passed before my eyes. I scooted back to the office and cobbled something together after belatedly doing my research and interviews. The next day it led the newspaper.

For this, I will always be thankful to Luix Overbea. And I will always stand ready to rescue the next clueless little black girl I see who is missing the story.

Gwen Ifill



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