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Journalists of Color Decline for 3rd Year

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

U.S. "Minority" Population at 36%; in Newsrooms, 12.79%

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U.S. "Minority" Population at 36%; in Newsrooms, 12.79%

The number of journalists of color in daily newspaper and online-only  newsrooms declined for the third consecutive year, the American Society of News Editors reported Thursday in disclosing the results of its annual diversity survey.

Minority journalists declined from 5,500 to 5,300, though overall, "American newspapers showed a very slim increase in newsroom employees last year, finally halting a three-year exodus of journalists," ASNE said.

The decline in journalists of color contrasts with the news industry's stated goal of parity with the number of people of color in the general population by 2025, and as demographic changes show the nation heading toward majority-minority status.

The percentage of minorities in newsrooms totaled 12.79 percent, a decline of .47 of a percentage point from a year ago. Asian Americans dropped from 3.27 percent in 2010 to 3.10 in 2011; African Americans from 4.88 percent in 2010 to 4.68 in 2011; Hispanics from 4.63 percent in 2010 to 4.54 in 2011; and Native Americans constant at .48 percent.

Black journalists have been particularly affected as newsrooms downsize or individuals seek a more secure line of work.

Last year, ASNE noted that "there were 929 fewer black journalists in the 2010 survey than were recorded in 2001, a drop of 31.5 percent. The number of Native American journalists dropped by 52, or 20.9 percent in the same period. Hispanic representation declined by 145, or 7 percent. The number of white journalists fell by 10,400, or 20.9 percent."

ASNE said it also surveyed the staffs at 61 online-only newspapers. Fifty percent returned their survey forms, compared with more than 59 percent response rate from 1,389 daily newspapers.

Once again, some well-known online organizations that had declined to participate previously were missing:, Yahoo, the Daily Beast, Politico, AOL and Huffington Post. However, MinnPost, which reported no journalists of color, ProPublica, which reported 20 percent, and the New York operation of did so. Patch reported 13.6 percent.

The entreaties to do better have become an annual feature of the reports.

"At a time when the U.S. Census shows that minorities are [36] percent of the U.S. population, newsrooms are going in the opposite direction. This is an accuracy and credibility issue for our newsrooms," Milton Coleman, ASNE president, said in Wednesday's ASNE news release.

"The slight decline in minority newsroom representation may be small, but is part of a disturbing trend that we need to reverse," Ronnie Agnew, co-chair of ASNE’s Diversity Committee, added in the release.

"The U.S. Census numbers clearly tell us that people of color populations are growing while our newsrooms aren't reflecting that growth. This should be a concern to all who see diversity as an accurate way of telling the story of a new America," Agnew said.

Karen Magnuson, co-chair of ASNE’s Diversity Committee said, "Accurately reflecting the diversity of our communities in our newsrooms and local reports is essential to our industry's success — now more than ever. As minority populations grow, we must grow with them, finding innovative ways to meet evolving needs for coverage and information delivery."

Doris Truong, national president of the Asian American Journalists Association, said in AAJA's statement, "In a nation that is quickly approaching a majority of minorities, diversity needs to be a priority for news leaders. Accurate coverage of our communities can best be achieved through representation of those communities within our newsrooms."

Kathy Y. Times, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said in an NABJ statement, "Study after study shows diversity has taken a hit and now it is just being completely abandoned by news organizations in some of the most diverse cities in this country."

Deirdre M. Childress, NABJ's vice president/print, said, "Our newsrooms are increasingly becoming employers that do not embrace the increasing diversity of our country and this failure is often reflected in dismal coverage of the black community and all communities of color. A staff that reflects the community is the community’s stake in democracy and a company’s stake in its future profits."

Two years ago, the census likewise showed the newspaper industry less and less likely to meet its goal of parity with the general population by 2025. In response to that survey, 25 to 30 industry leaders gathered at the Asian American Journalists Association summer convention and decided that the diversity discussion must be moved away from newsrooms to the broader issue of the "accuracy of the report" via whatever messenger the consumer receives it.

However, facilitator Keith Woods, now at NPR, said then that "three hours is not a lot of time" to redefine what diversity looks like and that it was too soon to tell where the conversation would lead.

The lack of follow-through after that effort was cited at a board meeting of Unity: Journalists of Color two weeks ago in discussing Unity's own effectiveness.

Correction: Headline originally put the "minority" population at 46 percent, rather than 36 percent. ASNE is correcting.

Hispanic, Asian Influxes Kept Cities Growing

April 6, 2011

ASNE Survey to Show Whether News Staffs Are in Sync

Marable Surrogates Urge Reopening of Malcolm X Case

Malcolm Scholar Calls Marable Book "Fraud and a Failure"

Glenn Beck to Lose Once-Popular Fox News Show

Libya Expels More Than 20 U.S., European News Outlets

Ifill Joins Biden, Others in David Broder Tributes

NAHJ Board Member Addresses Charges of Missed Meetings

USC Annenberg to Teach Maynard's "Fault Lines" Approach

Short Takes

ASNE Survey to Show Whether News Staffs Are in Sync

Indian Americans are avid newspaper readers."More than half of the United States’ 100 largest cities relied on Hispanics and Asians to grow and would have seen their populations decline without them over the past decade, a Washington Post analysis shows," Carol Morello and Dan Keating reported in the Post on Wednesday.

"According to recent census data, Hispanics accounted for the population growth of Philadelphia, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Omaha and Atlanta. Asians boosted the count in Anaheim, Calif.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Baton Rouge; and Jersey City. Without influx from the two groups, all of those cities would have shrunk.

"Non-Hispanic whites and blacks made a difference in only a handful of big cities that grew."

The Post story was published as the American Society of News Editors prepared to release its annual diversity survey, to be made public Thursday at the ASNE convention in San Diego.

"The Newsroom Employment Census is a tool ASNE uses to measure the success of its goal of having the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms nationwide equal to the percentage of minorities in the nation's population by 2025," according to ASNE.

The 2010 survey showed the percentage of minorities in newsrooms to be 13.26 percent, a decline of .15 of a percentage point from the year before. It also showed that American daily newspapers lost another 5,200 jobs that year, bringing the total loss of journalists since 2007 to 13,500.

ASNE attempted again to measure diversity among online news outlets, said Bobbi Bowman, who coordinates the survey. Last year, some of the biggest and most well-known websites did not participate, including AOL,,, Talking Points Memo, the Daily Beast, the Huffington Post and Yahoo.

The Post story said, "In many cases, what determined whether a city grew or contracted was the number of Hispanics and, to a lesser degree, Asians it attracted. Among the 100 biggest cities, 26 would have had population losses without an influx of Hispanics, and 11 would have shrunk without Asians.

"Cities that do not attract more new immigrant communities over the next decade will hemorrhage population, demographers predicted."

Last month, the Census Bureau reported that "while the non-Hispanic white alone population is still numerically and proportionally the largest major race and ethnic group in the United States, it is also growing at the slowest rate. Conversely, the Hispanic and Asian populations have grown considerably, in part because of relatively higher levels of immigration.

"More than half of the growth in the total U.S. population between 2000 and 2010 was because of the increase in the Hispanic population."

Some parts of the media are responding to the change the census is documenting. NBCUniversal executives announced Monday night that "they were forming another one of their specialty divisions, which in addition to Women at NBCU also include Green is Universal and Healthy at NBCU," Stuart Elliott reported in the New York Times.

"The new division is Hispanics at NBCU, which will be composed of broadcast, cable and digital properties that appeal to Hispanic consumers — whether in Spanish or English."

Separately, Meg James reported in Los Angeles Times, "Univision last week attracted more prime-time viewers than NBC, the second time in four weeks that the Spanish-language network edged out one of the Big Four."

Senior researcher Zaheer Ali tells CNN he hopes that prosecutors will reopen the case of Malcolm X's assassination. (Video)

Marable Surrogates Urge Reopening of Malcolm X Case

In television appearances Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the late Manning Marable's new "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention," surrogates for Marable called for reopening the investigation of the Malcolm X assassination.

They were speaking to a receptive audience: on Wednesday, the book ranked No. 7 on the best-seller list.

On the "CBS Evening News" on Tuesday, Jim Axelrod introduced his story by calling the assassination "the greatest unsolved mystery of the turbulent 1960s."

Axelrod told viewers that Marable said to the network that he wanted the Justice Department to open the case.

In the words of a New York Times story last Friday, "Based on his new material, Mr. Marable concluded that only one of the three men convicted of killing Malcolm X was involved in the assassination, and that the other two were at home that day. The real assassination squad, he writes, had four other members, with connections to the rival Nation of Islam’s Newark mosque — two of whom are still alive and have never been charged."

Journal-isms wrote last year, "A handful of Malcolm X scholars say the 45-year-old mystery of who really pulled the trigger and killed the iconic black leader has been solved, and are wondering why the news media aren't giving it more attention.

"Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a historian who writes for the Woodson Review and other publications of the respected Association for the Study of African American Life and History, identified the trigger man on his blog . . . as William Bradley, about 72 years old, and known today as Mustafa Shabazz" of Newark.

Unlike newspapers that reported on the book over the weekend, none of the television networks — CBS, CNN and MSNBC — named the alleged triggerman. Ali Velshi of CNN's "American Morning" said he was "not going to give away the book." Still, Velshi told viewers that New York police actions were wanting. "By any standard, the investigation was shoddy," he said.

Senior researcher Zaheer Ali, who worked with Marable at Columbia University as a graduate student, told Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC that Marable had hoped the book would "start an important conversation that would lead to opening the investigation."

The book's editor, Wendy Wolf, said in the same interview that she hoped readers would "focus on his life and not just his death," because Marable uncovered details that might put Malcolm in a more complex light.

The allegation about Shabazz had been raised in 1992 in what has been called the definitive account of Malcolm's assassination, "Conspiracys: Unravelling the Assassination of Malcolm X" by Zak A. Kondo, who now teaches at Baltimore City Community College. "Conspiracys" implicated government agencies and the Nation of Islam in the killing.

Kondo told Journal-isms on Tuesday that he and others had discussed with Marable the idea of bringing Bradley to justice. Identifying Bradley publicly is "a good first step; the real challenge is how do we accord him justice for what he did to Malcolm?" he said. As a model, Kondo said, he and others had looked at the example of Byron De La Beckwith, who was convicted in 1994 in the killing of civil rights leader Medgar Evers three decades earlier.

"We have to get a D.A. who will be open to it, and b, we have to get some new evidence," Kondo said.

Asked whether the case might be reopened, Tracy Golden, a spokeswoman for the New York County District Attorney's Office, told Journal-isms, "We do not comment on whether something is under investigation."

Malcolm Scholar Calls Marable Book "Fraud and a Failure"

Karl Evanzz"Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention" is about to be panned by Karl Evanzz, author of "The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad" (1999) and "The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X" (1992).

"I have known since 1981 that William Bradley was the shotgun assassin," Evanzz, a former Washington Post researcher, told Journal-isms by email. "Zak Kondo established that beyond any question in his 1993 book." Abdur-Rahman Muhammad's contribution was linking Bradley "to the Audubon through film footage captured minutes after the assassination. Thanks to the eagle eyes of Omar Shabazz of New York, we now have proof that Hagan, Bradley and Butler were the three shooters," he said, referring to Norman 3X Butler, who was convicted in the killing but maintained his innocence, and Thomas Hagan, formerly Talmadge X Hayer, who was paroled last year.

"The testimony of Sharon 6X Poole, who sat on the front row inside the Audubon, along with footage showing a man resembling Butler outside the Ballroom moments after the assassination, prove beyond any doubt that Butler was properly convicted.

"I communicated with Marable last year to get a copy of the eyewitness statement of Sharon 6X Poole after Omar Shabazz sent me a copy of documentary footage wherein Poole, 18, said that she recognized one of the men who killed Malcolm X. She said that she recognized 'the one in the brown suit' from Mosque Number 7, which she had quit recently to follow Malcolm X. She was quite positive. The footage in question was filmed within minutes after the assassination.

"Marable did not provide me with a copy, saying it had been misplaced. He did say, however, that she identified Butler as the man in the brown suit who fired at Malcolm X. His book also reports this.

"The footage Omar Shabazz analyzed shows a man fitting Butler's description outside the Audubon Ballroom just as Malcolm X is being taken across the street to the hospital. He is wearing the same type of hat and coat that Butler wore to the police station after his arrest as a suspect on February 26, 1965. The tell-tale sign is that the man wears his hat at the same unusual angle (about a 45 degree angle) as Butler. Most men would never consider wearing a hat in [that] fashion.

"Omar Shabazz shared the footage and still frames with Marable, but Marable chose to ignore it. To me, that is a colossal failure of scholarship. Worse, Marable's book claims that there is 'evidence' that Butler is innocent. This is an exaggeration and Marable should have known better. He had time to edit the book on this matter because the footnotes reveal that changes to the book were made as late as November 24.

"Marable argues that overwhelming evidence proves Butler is innocent. On the morning of the assassination, he states, 'he'd [Butler] visited a doctor to obtain treatment for leg injuries . . .(p. 448)'  Had he bothered to actually read the trial transcript, Marable would have known that the doctor testified that he did not see Butler until days after the assassination. That was the main problem with both Butler's and Johnson's alibis: that they could not have done it because they were nursing leg injuries. No jury is going to believe something that ridiculous.

"This instance is one of many problems with Marable's book.

"Marable's failure to explore this information after I brought it to his attention last year is one of many reasons I regard this book as a fraud and a failure.

"I also requested a copy of Linward X Cathcart's statement to the police regarding what he witnessed. He sat next to or near Sharon 6X Poole that day. When Marable replied, I noticed that he consistently misspelled Linward as Linwood. I received a reply from his assistant, who blamed herself for the mistake. She said that Marable dictated his replies to her. She assured me that the book contained the correct spelling.

"If you check the Index, you will see that the first name is misspelled there and in every full reference in the book. There is no excuse for this, especially from a writer who dismisses 'all the books' written about Malcolm X in the 1990s (p. 490). That is beyond chutzpah."

[Evanzz referenced Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and Malcolm's second daughter, Qubilah Shabazz, in an additional message Thursday, "Marable credits Farrakhan for suggesting that Qubilah Shabazz was entrapped in the so-called 'plot to kill Farrakhan' three years after my own book about the 'plot to kill Malcolm X' was released (p. 472). So Marable takes credit for information in my books and gives credit to Farrakhan for something he did not do until someone else made the case for it."]

Evanzz said he is working on a review of the book for

"The full review highlights other fatal flaws," he continued.

"The late author's Amen Corner — David Garrow, Cornel West, Michael Dyson among them — are doing the public and themselves no favor by calling Marable's book his magnum opus. To use street vernacular, it ain't his magnum nothin'."

Glenn Beck to Lose Once-Popular Fox News Show

Glenn Beck"Completing a swift rise and fall from TV stardom, controversial host Glenn Beck will lose his once-popular Fox News show later this year, the network announced Wednesday," Scott Collins and Melissa Maerz wrote for the Los Angeles Times.

"Beck's 5 p.m. program, which earned scorn from liberals for its attacks on President Obama as well as its devotion to sometimes-obscure right-wing thinkers, was a top cable draw in 2009 and a signpost for the populist 'tea party' movement in last year's midterm elections, which dealt a ballot-box rebuke to the White House.

"But ratings plummeted and advertisers bailed as Beck — a cherubic, salt-and-pepper-haired longtime radio host who has compared himself to a rodeo clown — increasingly pursued a hard-to-follow agenda that many found too conspiracy-minded. He also chafed his bosses at Fox News, who faulted him for spending too much time on his far-flung business operations and not enough on honing his TV presentation.

"Both sides cobbled together a diplomatically worded statement Wednesday that noted Beck would 'transition off' his daily program but stressed that the host and Fox News had reached a new deal for future, as-yet-unspecified projects. Joel Cheatwood, a senior Fox News executive, was hired away to help run Beck's company, Mercury Radio Arts."

Although Beck is not leaving the Fox News Channel completely, James Rucker, executive director of, issued this statement:

“ColorOfChange strongly applauds Glenn Beck’s departure from the Fox News Channel. Over 285,000 ColorOfChange members have participated in our campaign against him since it began in July 2009. Because of them, Beck’s show lost over 300 advertisers — companies that were unwilling to attach their products and brands to his vitriolic and divisive commentary. Fox News Channel clearly understands that Beck’s increasingly erratic behavior is a liability to their ratings and their bottom line, and we are glad to see them take this action.”

Libya Expels More Than 20 U.S., European News Outlets

"More than 20 journalists from news outlets including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and NBC News are being told by authorities that they have to leave Libya, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Tripoli," Mark Memmott wrote Wednesday for the NPR website.

"And Moammar [Gaddafi's] regime has decided to stop issuing new visas for correspondents who wish to come cover the conflict there, Lourdes adds.

"Some of the journalists being told to leave by tomorrow had visas that were expired and they had been waiting for renewals. Others have valid visas but are being expelled anyway.

"One additional note from Lourdes: Things are subject to change —some reporters have been told in the recent past that they were being expelled, only to later be allowed to stay."

Memmott said these news organizations are involved:

Britain's Channel 4, CNN, Fox News, the Independent, Italian TV, Britain's ITV, France's Le Figaro, Los Angeles Times, London Times, NBC News, the New York Times, Italy's RAI, RTL of the Netherlands, the Sunday Times of London.

Meanwhile, in the Ivory Coast, Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday, "An all-out battle for news and information has been fought in parallel to the military clashes.

"After being used for propaganda purposes, the prized national radio and TV stations were finally the target of airstrikes. As normal reporting became too dangerous, rumours and hard-to-verify reports began to circulate. Journalists were the targets of threats and became more scared by the day."

Clockwise from right: Gwen Ifill takes her turn on  NBC's "Meet the Press" as moderator Tim Russert, the Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein, David Broder and the Wall Street Journal's John Harwood listen during a 2005 program. (Credit: Alex Wong/Associated Press)

Ifill Joins Biden, Others in David Broder Tributes

David Broder "loved few of his colleagues more than he loved Gwen Ifill," Matt Broder, a son of the dean of Washington political writers, said at his father's memorial service on Tuesday. "The friendship they developed deepened over the years. He always looked forward to his appearances on 'Washington Week in Review.'

"There is no more fitting representative for journalism's next generation."

And with that, Ifill joined such boldface names as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.; Donald Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Co.; three other Broder sons and Post colleague Dan Balz in paying tribute to Broder before an audience of 500 at the National Press Club, and others via a webcast or watching on C-Span.

"When David traveled with 'Washington Week' to Iowa State University in 2000 for a road show, he'd already been a rock star for some time," Ifill said. "When I returned to Iowa State for a visit last week, strangers there offered me condolences, and I realized that any place politics is discussed, he still is a rock star.

"David sat around the table hundreds of times at 'Meet the Press' or on 'Washington Week' or on countless other television roundtables. He had his opinions, but he was seldom a pundit, always a reporter, and consistently the voice of good-humored reason.

"That shouldn't be unique, but it was."

Other journalists of color attending the service included Betty Anne Williams of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Joe Davidson and Kevin Merida of the Washington Post, Vickie Walton-James of NPR, Athelia Knight of Georgetown University and former Post columnist William Raspberry.

The service was to be streamed live on and is available around the clock in the C-Span video library.

NAHJ Board Member Addresses Charges of Missed Meetings

Patricio Espinoza, the San Antonio-based online at-large officer for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists who resigned last week after having been critical of board leadership, says whispers and rumors that he has failed to attend board meetings are based on incomplete information.

Espinoza said he was recruited to the board in 2008 by then-President O. Ricardo Pimentel as NAHJ's Spanish language officer and attended every meeting until he lost his job.

He replied by email, "Excuses to silence, bully the voice, and change the message of those of us who speak up," when Journal-isms asked about the charges. He said he attended meetings in 2008 and 2009, and in 2010-11 missed three meetings: In August, he was in Central America on assignment training Latino journalists and remained in touch, proposing, as online officer, virtual meetings.

In October, he was unable to attend after accepting a full-time job. Last Saturday, he resigned before the meeting. "I had planned to go to New York, made hotel and travel arrangements, however it became clear that no change, nor a plan was in place to move NAHJ forward." He also said at least one board member continued to harass him in internal emails for speaking out. As it turned out, an austerity budget and other measures were proposed and adopted.

NAHJ President Michele Salcedo, in announcing Espinoza's resignation Monday, said that Fernando Diaz, managing editor of Hoy (Chicago) and an NAHJ regional director, would fill the remainder of Espinoza’s unexpired term.

USC Annenberg to Teach Maynard's "Fault Lines" Approach

"As part of USC Annenberg’s diversity initiative, the School of Journalism began educating new students this academic year with a 'Fault Lines' approach that teaches them to better recognize race, class, gender/sexual orientation, generation and geography when reporting," Jackson DeMos wrote Tuesday for the USC Annenberg News.

"The Fault Lines concept, developed by the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, helps reporters understand and cover a diverse spectrum of people. The curriculum committee this last fall began using the concept as a required component in all core reporting and writing classes.

" 'I love that USC Annenberg is giving students the tools they need to cover diversity before they get to the newsroom,' said Dori Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute. 'We’re very excited about this. Teaching students to cover communities that don’t look like their own is essential to journalism.'

". . . USC Annenberg and the Maynard Institute have a long-standing relationship. Adjunct journalism professor Frank Sotomayor, a co-founder of the Maynard, introduced Fault Lines last fall to undergraduate and graduate students in beginning news writing classes.

Sotomayor credited Geneva Overholser, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, as "the key person in making this happen."

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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