Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Ebony Puts Its Fashion Fair on Hold

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Lack of Sponsors Interrupts 50-Year Tradition

In another indication of the economic troubles buffeting the Johnson Publishing Co., the publishers of Ebony and Jet magazines are canceling the traveling Ebony Fashion Fair this fall, "after more than 50 years of showcasing the highest caliber of fashion in the industry to mostly African American audiences," in the words of the Philadelphia Inquirer.Program for the Ebony Fashion Fair's spring 2009 season.

"For more than 50 years, Ebony Fashion Fair has been committed to the important efforts of community organizations and have worked together to raise an estimated $55 million in support of local charities," Linda Johnson Rice, chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

"In light of the overall economic challenges that are affecting many, including our potential corporate sponsors, we have arrived at a most difficult decision to cancel Ebony Fashion Fair's fall 2009 season.

"In the coming months, we will develop a new business model to ensure that the show is a mutually beneficial endeavor. Our primary goal is to build Ebony Fashion Fair and our other brands in ways that will continue delivering meaningful insight and inspiration to the African-American community."

"The traveling style show - one bus filled with 10 female models, two male models, assorted dressers and more than 200 outfits - showcases the couture of up to 80-something designers from around the world in a slick production of choreographed catwalk capers: The female models  'worked'' their colorful coats and fur-trimmed wraps like whirling dervishes while male models pumped their pectorals for an appreciative - and vocal - audience. It was all G-rated flirtatiousness," Rod Hagwood wrote in a story produced jointly for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald.

Ebony Fashion Fair and Fashion Fair cosmetics are separate arms of the company and the cosmetics line is not affected, a spokeswoman said.

The news comes as the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported last week that Ebony's circulation was down 10.3 percent and Jet's 6.2 percent for the first six months of the year.

In addition to helping local community groups and charities, the Ebony Fashion Fair boosted the circulation of Ebony and Jet. Those who bought a ticket received a subscription to one of the magazines.

"This is devastating to us,'' Ann Lee, publicity chairwoman for The Charmettes, a civic group that staged the show in Broward County, Fla., said in a story produced by the Sun-Sentinel. "This was our No. 1 fundraiser for scholarships, cancer research and other community activities. We've been doing this for 35 years. People from all around look forward to this event and dressing-up and having a good time with the whole family.''

"This was by far one of the largest fundraisers for us,'' said Charice Robinson, the president of the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter, in the Sun-Sentinel-Miami Herald story. "It will have a significant impact. We usually raise between $15,000 to $20,000 in a night.''

"The Philadelphia Cultural Committee Inc., the nonprofit organization that has hosted the program annually in Philadelphia or New Jersey for 50 years, is among 180 organizations that will not put on a show this fall," the Inquirer reported.

"The Philadelphia Cultural Committee uses part of its $15,000 to $20,000 in proceeds to give scholarships to college-bound high school students who are interested in the arts.

"Each year it gives $1,000 to five or six students who are pursuing higher education in New Jersey, Philadelphia, or Delaware. The remaining money goes to local charities.

"'If we do not have the Ebony Fashion Fair show, it's going to be a deterrent to giving scholarships,' said Gwendolyn A. Faison, president of the Philadelphia Cultural Committee.

"Faison said the committee is meeting to discuss alternative fund-raising.

"Over 4,000 shows have been performed to date in the United States, the Caribbean, and London, according to a representative from the publishing company."

Editor at Leaves With Note Dissing BET

A hip-hop editor publicly departed Tuesday as executive editor for music at with a letter that circulated via e-mail and on blogs. In it, Andreas Hale said that "everything that you thought was wrong with BET is true.

"As someone who has been critical of BET for many years, it surprised many that I would leave my post at HipHopDX last year to take a position at BET," Hale wrote. "But it was an opportunity I absolutely had to take. I could no longer be critical of this company without accepting the opportunity to change it when given. Although I was hired to bring about change, I was systematically shut down. I wasn't hired to make noise, I was hired to be silenced.

"We have all always thought the worst, but to actually see it in action is another thing in its entirety," he continued. "The unprofessionalism, the tom foolery, the favors, the misappropriation of resources, the bad ideas that reinforce negative stereotypes, the emasculation of men, the meetings that break down in full fledged cursing battles, the unpaid overtime, the tears from employees scared for their underpaid and overworked positions and ultimately the unwillingness to change are all harsh realities that I've witnessed firsthand," Hale wrote.

"Alas, I have been removed from my position after infiltrating the system and the timing was perfect. I wasn't let go because the site's numbers were down. Not because I didn't work hard. Simply because of a personality clash with an individual whose proverbial ass I didn't kiss enough. Again, not about the work you do but about the relationships you keep and the sides you take."

A short bio written in 2007 for the Hip Hop Journalism Association, of which Hales is a board member, describes him as "the Editor-In-Chief of as well as Assistant Editor of His journalistic experience covers everything from sports, fashion, music and movie reviews as well as interviewing artists, actors and politicians for various publications. As a community activist, Andreas also holds the post of Local Chairman of the Las Vegas Local Organizing Committee of the National Hip Hop Political Convention."

Jeanine Liburd, a spokeswoman for BET, said, "We don't comment on employee matters."  

Danyel Smith of Vibe Named the Root's Executive Editor

Danyel Smith starts Wednesday. (Credit: Carl Posey)Danyel Smith, editor in chief at Vibe magazine until it folded June 1, has been named executive editor of, the online collaboration between the Washington Post Co. and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Root announced on Tuesday.

Smith brings "strong editorial skills, Web knowledge, managerial skills and creativity," publisher Donna Byrd told Journal-isms. The New York-based Smith will be spending most of her time in Washington, she said.

Smith, 44, succeeds Lynette Clemetson, the founding managing editor who left to accept a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan. "With an editorial staff of 6, the role of managing editor is critical to moving the magazine forward," spokesman Jennifer Lee said in announcing Clemetson's departure in May. The title was upgraded to executive editor for Smith.

The Root, Smith told Richard P?©rez-Pe?±a of the New York Times, "just seems like the perfect place for me.'

Deputy editor Terence Samuel has been leading the editorial team while the search proceeded. Smith became available once Vibe folded, but the online publication attracted a "tremendous" number of candidates for the job, Byrd said, "not only African Americans, but a number of people who had experiences elsewhere, a testament to the brand and the quality" of the content.

The selection team was primarily Byrd, Gates and Jacob Weisberg, editor in chief of the Slate Group, Byrd said.

Smith, a former music editor and editor in chief at Vibe, returned to the top spot at Vibe in 2006 when the private equity firm the Wicks Group bought the publication. She succeeded Mimi Vald?©s Ryan, now editor in chief of Latina magazine, and she is married to Elliott Wilson, former editor of the hip-hop magazine XXL.

Six weeks after the announcement that Vibe had folded, a group led by another private equity firm, InterMedia Partners, and its luxury magazine publisher, Uptown Media, said had reached an agreement to acquire Vibe and its Web site. They named Jermaine Hall, 34, as the new editor in chief. He had edited the defunct King magazine, which called itself "the illest men's magazine ever."

The Root was conceived by Post Co. Chairman Donald Graham and Gates, who is Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard and director there of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. It became a sister publication to the online magazine Slate, only with topics of specifically African American interest. It gets 1.4 million unique visitors per month, Byrd said.

Asked whether theRoot would increase its notoriously low pay for writers, Byrd said, "We'll see."

Watson, MSNBC's Sole Black Anchor, Loses Show

Carlos Watson, MSNBC's only African American anchor, has lost his "Live With Carlos Watson" show, the network confirmed on Tuesday. He had started the show only in June.Carlos Watson

"I can confirm that he's no longer anchoring, but will remain with us as a contributor," MSNBC spokesman Jeremy M. Gaines told Journal-isms.

Rachel Sklar, on her Mediaite site, wrote, "Watson was never announced as permanent anchor nor was given much of a push — but he did have a website with a well-covered launch, and was permitted to use feature ideas from that on his show (i.e. his 'C-Note' segment)."

Among the cable news networks, CNN draws the largest percentage of African Americans from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with 29 percent, followed by MSNBC, with 24 percent, and Fox, with 2 percent, according to figures supplied by MSNBC.

When Watson was named a dayside anchor on March 31, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said, "Carlos has been a fresh and distinctive voice on the network and I'm thrilled to welcome him to MSNBC."

According to his MSNBC bio, "Watson's television career is built on a broad and impressive background. In 2003, Watson was recruited into television, first as host of CNBC's 'The Edge with Carlos Watson' and later as one of CNN's main political analysts. Best known for his coverage of the 2004 presidential election, Watson also wrote's main political column. In 2006, Watson founded his own production company to develop Conversations with Carlos Watson, a Hearst-backed series of celebrity interview specials. The show earned an Emmy, a Gracie and two Telly Awards.

"A Harvard honors graduate, Watson got his start in politics serving as campaign manager and chief of staff for Florida Representative Daryl Jones and managing Bill Clinton's 1992 Election Day effort in Miami-Dade County."

It also mentions that Watson is "a former People's Hottest Bachelor."

On Joyner Show, Roxanne Shant?© Insists She Has Ph.D.

While lawyer Ben Sheffner wrote last week on that her story was bogus, and the New York Daily News ran a correction to its original article, former rapper Roxanne Shant?© insisted Tuesday on radio's syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show" that the music industry had lived up to a clause in her contract and paid for her to receive a doctorate.

In a 10-minute interview with reporter Jacque Reid and Joyner, Shant?© said "a lot of record companies don't like the message" she gives that young people should educate themselves about the record business before going in.

She said she had received the doctorate from Cornell University under an assumed name "because of a domestic violence situation."

The interview did not address a multitude of questions posed by Sheffner's piece and the Daily News correction.

Sheffner, for example, had written about the alias. "In a subsequent e-mail, Shant?© wrote, 'I also attended College under an alias, because of a Domestic Violence situation' and speculated that she 'made a mistake on an application and put my old name so maybe that's the reason for the computer error?' But she was unable to substantiate such claims," he wrote.


Van Jones explains the significance of the Green Movement for blacks on PBS' "the Tavis Smiley Show" last year. "Van Jones brought down Van Jones," Fox News' Glenn Beck said.

Beck Gives Credit for Van Jones Exit to Public

Fox News host Glenn Beck, who led a crusade that ultimately led to the resignation of Van Jones, the White House adviser for green jobs, told viewers that "I'm not the one to congratulate. I can go on and on about this stuff, but if you don't care and it doesn't connect with the American people, what I say doesn't matter.

"What Van Jones doesn't understand is that I didn't bring down Van Jones; you didn't bring down Van Jones; Van Jones brought down Van Jones," he added.

Meanwhile, Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik raised questions about the propriety of the White House hiring Jones, who co-founded and then left the activist group Color of Change, which launched an advertiser boycott of Beck's show after Beck said on the show that President Obama was a racist with a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."

"Those of us who write about media should ask some hard questions about how much the White House knew about the boycott activities of the group founded by Jones — and whether there are other such organizing efforts targeting other media outlets that are critical of the president," Zurawik wrote.

But on Pacifica's "Democracy Now!" Color of Change co-founder James Rucker said, "I didn’t talk to Van until after we had actually launched the campaign. And, you know, we had no coordination throughout it."

He added, "Van is simply the first, and if the administration is not able to stand up and fight, when you have someone who’s using a news platform to lie about your personnel, to undermine the agenda that you have, it’s going to be a problem for the administration, it’s going to be a problem for the American people."

Unity Picks Las Vegas for 2012 Convention

"UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. selected Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas as the host for its 2012 convention," the alliance of journalists of color organizations announced on Tuesday. The convention is scheduled for Aug. 1-4 of that year.

UNITY President Rafael Olmeda said the release that the Unity board of directors heard presentations from Los Angeles and Houston before selecting Las Vegas. The City of Angels was chosen as the backup city. “We are pleased that MGM Mirage, the parent company of Mandalay Bay, is considered one of the leaders in diversity in a manner that is well aligned with our mission and goals,” he said.

More than 7,500 attended the most recent Unity convention last year in Chicago.


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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