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Judge Tells Journalist What Not to Write

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ruling Conflicts With First Amendment, Lawyer Says

Ken Moritsugu Wins AAJA Election From Bangkok

Dorothy Bland Leaving FAMU for Texas Deanship


Obama Said to Use New Tricks to Shape Coverage

Robin Roberts Returns to "Good Morning America"

New York Officials Lose Bid for "Central Park Five" Outtakes


New Editor of T Magazine Regrets Lack of Diversity

Kevin Merida's Focus Wasn't Initially on History

Short Takes

Ruling Conflicts With First Amendment, Lawyer Says

A federal judge in Miami ordered a Haitian-American journalist never again to write about the professional, personal or political lives of Haiti's prime minister or a South Florida businessman, ruling that the journalist had defamed them.

Federal District Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled that the New York-based Haiti Observa

"The ruling seems pretty outrageous on its face," Gregg Leslie, legal defense director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told Journal-isms by telephone on Wednesday. According to Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary, ". . . Prior restraints are considered a violation of the First Amendment and are rarely permitted except in cases in which the publication is obscene, defamatory, or represents a clear and present danger  — a theory articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Near v. Minnesota (1931)."

Leo Joseph, journalist for the New York-based Haiti Observateur, told Journal-isms by telephone that he was not even in Florida when the Feb. 6 ruling was issued. "I did not have thousands of dollars to defend myself," Joseph said. "I had no desire to make a fool of myself." He added, "They never served me properly. I'm going to appeal this. . . . I did not have a lawyer." Of those who sued him, Joseph said, "I did not think they had the guts to do it."

Leslie said the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro sounded as though she invited the lawyers for the plaintiffs to draw up a proposed order, which she accepted. "It seems like the judge signed it without thinking it through," Leslie said.

Joseph agreed. He told Journal-isms, ". . . They were trying to silence me, because I have more stuff coming."

The Florida law firm Perlman, Bajandas, Yevoli & Albright, P.L., distributed a news release on Tuesday, apparently on behalf of the Haitian plaintiffs. The Associated Press transmitted a story the same day.

The news release began, "A US Federal Judge ruled on February 6, 2013 against the Haiti Observateur, a New York based Website noting that it had published false and defamatory statements against Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and Patrice Baker, his former business partner and prominent South Florida businessman. The ruling also notes that the Website and its reporter acted with malice.

"In August 2012 Leo Joseph, a reporter for the Haiti Observateur, wrote two articles making allegations against Baker and Lamothe in relation to the sale of a bankrupted telephone company in Haiti.

"Noting the false and malicious nature of the accusations, Baker and Lamothe immediately sued Joseph and the Haiti Observateur in a US District Court, Southern District of Florida. Federal Judge Ursula Ungaro provided a sweeping ruling that sided entirely with the plaintiffs. Judge Ungaro notes in her ruling that the Haiti Observateur's publications are 'replete with statements that are outrageous, scandalous and reminiscent of a tabloid publication. . . . ' "

Joseph told Journal-isms, ". . . After this, I am going to sue them back." But first, he said, he is looking for a lawyer.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, founded in 1970, provides free legal advice, resources, support and advocacy to protect the First Amendment and Freedom of Information rights of journalists working in areas where U.S. law applies, regardless of the medium in which their work appears, according to its website.

It was founded after New York Times reporter Earl Caldwell, later a founder of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, was ordered to reveal to a federal grand jury his sources in the Black Panther organization, threatening his independence as a newsgatherer.

Joseph said the Haiti Observateur has a circulation of 40,000 for its print edition and reaches "no less than 25,000 every week" on the Internet.

Ken Moritsugu Wins AAJA Election From Bangkok

Ken MoritsuguKen Moritsugu, Bangkok-based Asia enterprise editor for the Associated Press, won a special election for vice president for print of the Asian American Journalists Association, the group announced on Tuesday. Moritsugu defeated Neal Justin, TV and media critic for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, 133 to 114.

Asked how he would fulfill his duties from Asia, Moritsugu told Journal-isms by email, "We have three board meetings a year so I'll be flying to the US for them."

He said in a statement, ". . . As a longtime member who has led chapters in both the U.S. and Asia, I also hope to build bridges between our membership at home and overseas."

AAJA announced, ". . . Moritsugu has served on the boards of three AAJA chapters and is a former president of AAJA-New York. He is currently president of AAJA's Asia Chapter, and during his tenure the chapter has grown from 30 to 130 members and launched an annual conference with the University of Hong Kong." He is also the son of Henry Moritsugu, assistant news editor at Newsday.

"AAJA held a special election to fill the post of Vice President for Print after Tom Lee resigned from the position for personal reasons in January. Moritsugu will serve out the remainder of the term" until December, the announcement continued.

About 1,000 AAJA members were eligible to cast ballots in the election, which was held electronically from Feb. 11 to 18.

Dorothy Bland Leaving FAMU for Texas Deanship

"After two interim deans and more than a year of searching, the University of North Texas named Dorothy M. Bland dean of the university's school of journalism on Tuesday," Rachel Mehlhaff reported for the Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle.

Dorothy M. Bland

Bland headed the Division of Journalism at Florida A&M University from 2007 until last fall, when she stepped down from the director's position to pursue a Ph.D. A new dean, Ann Wead Kimbrough, assumed control of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication in August.

A former publisher of the Fort Collins (Colo.) Coloradoan, Bland was one of only a handful of black female daily newspaper publishers during her career with the Gannett Co., Inc., which ended in 2005. She is a 1982 graduate of the Maynard Institute's Editing Program for Minority Journalists.

Warren Burggren, provost and vice president for academic affairs, told the Denton newspaper that Bland was the university's choice because of her experience in publishing and higher education.

"She has deep experience in both those areas," Burggren said.

FAMU saw its share of controversy in January when Kimbrough ordered the Famuan, the student newspaper, "delayed" until Jan. 30 while she implemented training for staff members.

Press-freedom groups such as the Society of Professional Journalists and the Student Press Law Center objected. Overall, the university had accreditation issues and was weathering negative publicity generated by the well-publicized hazing death of drum major Robert Champion in November 2011.


Vic Carter, news anchor for WJZ-TV in Baltimore, told viewers Wednesday after interviewing President Obama, "If those cuts go through, more than 12,000 people could lose their jobs in the state of Maryland alone. Education could lose about $55 million in funding for next year." (Video)

Obama Said to Use New Tricks to Shape Coverage

"President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House," Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen wrote Monday for Politico.

"Not for the reason that conservatives suspect: namely, that a liberal press willingly and eagerly allows itself to get manipulated. Instead, the mastery mostly flows from a White House that has taken old tricks for shaping coverage (staged leaks, friendly interviews) and put them on steroids using new ones (social media, content creation, precision targeting). And it's an equal opportunity strategy: Media across the ideological spectrum are left scrambling for access.

"The results are transformational. With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House — fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press — has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly. And future presidents from both parties will undoubtedly copy and expand on this approach. . . . "

Meanwhile, "Continuing to hunt for a political advantage in the fight over the looming sequester," Obama was scheduled Wednesday "to conduct interviews with eight local television stations in an attempt to intensify pressure on congressional Republicans," Justin Sink reported for the Hill.

The anchors included Vic Carter, news anchor for WJZ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Baltimore.


Robin Roberts on her first day back at "Good Morning America" Wednesday, 174 days after she underwent a bone marrow transplant. She is with host George Stephanopoulos. (Video)

Robin Roberts Returns to "Good Morning America"

" 'Now,' Robin Roberts said to the staff of her top-rated morning show, 'Good Morning America,' right after it wrapped on Wednesday, 'we can resume regular programming,' " Brian Stelter reported Wednesday for the New York Times.

"Ms. Roberts had just made a television comeback unlike any other, as a host of the program for the first time since she was forced to leave it in August to fight a life-threatening illness. The return, promoted two weeks ahead of time by ABC, was celebrated by fans, tens of thousands of whom sent well-wishes on social networking sites. Many of them watch the program specifically for Ms. Roberts, who is, according to industry research, the most-liked host on any American morning news program by a wide margin. . . ."

New York Officials Lose Bid for "Central Park Five" Outtakes

"Ken Burns and his production company, Florentine Films, overcame efforts by New York City officials to forcibly seek the release of outtakes and footage from his recent film about five men wrongly convicted in the attack and rape of a Central Park jogger," Jack Komperda wrote Wednesday for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

A courtroom rendering from the ‘Central Park jogger’ trial appears in Ken Burns’

"Federal magistrate judge Ronald Ellis granted on Tuesday the request by the famed documentary filmmaker's team to quash the city's subpoena seeking the unpublished material from the film 'The Central Park Five,' concluding that the documentarians had demonstrated the requisite independence to be considered journalists under the reporter's privilege.

"Judge Ellis also found that New York City officials were not able to overcome the privilege by showing that the information they sought involved a significant issue in this case that was unavailable by other means.

"The film, which was released last November, depicts the experiences of five men convicted of the April 1989 attack on Trisha Meili. The men served full sentences before finally being exonerated after another person confessed to the attack. They have since filed a $250 million civil rights lawsuit against the city. . . ."

New Editor of T Magazine Regrets Lack of Diversity

"The new T magazine made an impressive start on Sunday," public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote Wednesday for the New York Times. "Thick with ads, its editorial content — including a fascinating cover story on the 79-year-old socialite Lee Radziwill — was strong.

Readers found the lack of people of color disturbing.

" 'T: The Times Style Magazine' has been redesigned with a well-respected new editor, Deborah Needleman, who came to The Times recently from The Wall Street Journal.

"There was much to admire. But many readers found one aspect of the magazine disturbing — its lack of people of color. . . ."

". . . I asked Ms. Needleman to respond. She noted that the response to the magazine has been extremely positive but said she agrees with this complaint. And she intends to remedy it in future issues. She wrote:

" 'It was something I noticed and regretted as we were putting the issue together. We are a global magazine and so would like the content, subjects and geography of stories to reflect that. In coming issues, we cover the people and places of Seoul, São Paulo, Kenya, Bollywood actors, Nigeria, etc. A majority of fashion models are still unfortunately mostly white, but it is our aim to celebrate quality and beauty in all its diverse forms. We can and will aim to do better, but our goal is first and foremost to deliver the best stories we find, and it is my belief that quality and good journalism appeal to all of us regardless of our specific ethnic origins.' . . . "

Kevin Merida tells fellow journalists it's a great time to join the profession a

Kevin Merida's Focus Wasn't Initially on History

Kevin Merida, newly promoted to managing editor at the Washington Post, and his wife, author and former Post columnist Donna Britt, were among 31 current and former journalists of color Tuesday at a Journalists Roundtable dinner in Washington. Many were Post alumni.

Merida, the first African American to become a Post managing editor, said the historic significance of his promotion took a while to sink in. As national editor, Merida said he was still focused on those duties and on family considerations when new Executive Editor Martin Baron extended the offer. Eventually, Merida said he realized that not only would he become managing editor of his hometown paper but also the breaker of a glass ceiling. When the announcement was made on Feb. 4, the flood of congratulations from colleagues, friends and acquaintances present and past confirmed the promotion's significance.

Merida said he advises young people that it is a great time to become a journalist, citing the steady creation of new positions at the Post in the digital space. He also said his lifelong familiarity with the Washington area would be part of what he brings to the managing editor's job.

In November, HuffPost BlackVoices named Merida and Britt one of eight "BV Power Couples," although, as Britt said at the time, they are "a couple that's neither glamorous, rich nor famous." This particular night, however, was Merida's.

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 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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Comments

T Magazine: Timeout for Inclusion

It hurts my head reading the excuses made by the editor of the new NYT publication 'T'. The depth of excuse making for lack of inclusion in the publication of this magazine is almost pathological . How can any publication which purports to be global not have any people of color in the production of the magazine! It reminds me of the MLB before Jackie Robinson having the audacity to label itself as world's best without competing with Black players.

T Magazine ...Super White!

Just wait ...if you can 20 ....30 years from now there will be an issue that lacks white people....time will change the media landscape!

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