Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

"Katrina's Hidden Race War"

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Renee Ferguson Signs Off in Chicago After 30 Years

According to eyewitnesses, at least 11 people were shot by vigilantes in Algiers Point. In each case the targets were African American men, while the shooters all were white. Reporter A.C. Thompson discusses the story he wrote for the Nation.

"White Residents . . . Shooting with Impunity"

"In an 18-month investigation appearing this week on the cover of The Nation and supported by The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, reporter A.C. Thompson weaves together stories of both innocent victims and unrepentant vigilantes, painting a terrifying and never before told picture of a hidden race war in New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina," the magazine announced on Thursday. 

"Most of the incidents took place in Algiers Point, a neighborhood which stood between the inundated Lower Ninth Ward and a National Guard rescue point. As black residents from the Lower Ninth tried to flee New Orleans, white residents in Algiers Point took up arms and opened fire, shooting with impunity.

"Thompson, in 'Katrina's Hidden Race War' and a companion piece, 'Body of Evidence,' interviews witnesses on all sides of the gunfire, including shooters from Algiers Point, gunshot survivors, forensic pathologists, doctors, historians, private citizens, and law enforcement officials. Thompson reviewed over 800 autopsies and state death records, and reveals a city fractured across racial lines and evidence of brutal crimes:

  • "According to eye witnesses, at least 11 people were shot by vigilantes in Algiers Point. In each case the targets were African-American men, while the shooters all were white. It's unclear who all 11 victims were or how many may have died, because none of the shootings have ever been investigated.
  • "One shooting victim, Henry Glover (his shooter remains unknown), was found charred and burned in a scorched sedan. Glover's death is particularly suspicious, with eyewitnesses reporting that New Orleans police allowed Glover to bleed to death while savagely beating the man who tried to save him, then covered up and destroyed evidence. The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute had to sue for Glover's autopsy records.
  • "In a companion video, residents of Algiers Point admit to forming a 'mini-militia,' at one point saying that shooting blacks 'was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it.'
"In spite of overwhelming evidence supporting all of these allegations, the New Orleans Police Department and public officials have refused comment, beyond a curt two-sentence email, for over eight months. To date there is no evidence a single investigation was ever opened, and law enforcement at every level was completely uncooperative with the investigation.

As Thompson, an award winning journalist now on staff at ProPublica, wrote in the piece, 'As a reporter who has spent more than a decade covering crime, I was startled to meet so many people with so much detailed information about potentially serious offenses, none of whom have ever been interviewed by police.' 

"An accompanying Editorial in the January 5, 2009 issue of The Nation magazine calls for a full and complete investigation. . . . . Alerted by The Nation to the A.C. Thompson story, the advocacy group Color of Change launched a campaign moments after the story went to press echoing the calls for an investigation."

Mark Griffith of CBS News, Active in NABJ, Dead at 48

Mark Griffith (credit: Jason Miccolo Johnson)Mark Griffith, a longtime journalist for CBS News in New York who was active in the National Association of Black Journalists, was found dead in his Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment on Thursday, according to New York police. He was 48.

"It's hard to imagine a part of CBS News where he didn't work," one co-worker said. He was most recently on the national assignment desk and had worked at both CBS News and CBS Sports.

Lt. Nigel Bristow, a New York police detective, told Journal-isms he went to Griffith's home about 5:30 p.m. and found him dead on his bed, dressed in casual wear. Medication for a medical condition was nearby. He had been dead at least 24 hours and the case will be referred to the medical examiner. "There is no sign of criminality," Bristow said.

Bristow went to Griffith's apartment after police received a call on 911. Griffith did not show up for work on Thursday, the CBS co-worker said. "You could set a clock by him," he said, emphasizing how unusual his absence was. Griffith lived alone and family members, who are out of state, were being notified.

Gary Anthony Ramsay, president of the New York Association of Black Journalists, recalled that Griffith had been a regional director on the board of the National Association of Black Journalists in the mid-1990s and was responsible for Ramsay running for president of the New York association.

Griffith had a zest for living that was reflected in the social events he staged on behalf of the New York association.

"Mark worked at CBS News on and off for more than 20 years as well as freelancing for other news agencies. Mark's trademark Cheshire cat smile, wise cracks, parties but mostly his sage counsel about navigating through journalism as a person of color will be greatly missed. He was big brother to many of us as we got started," Ramsey and the New York association's vice president, Catherine McKenzie, said in a statement.

Griffith's profile on the LinkedIn social network lists him as a self-employed media consultant who had been a freelance producer at CBS News from 1986 to 2008. Griffith was based in Washington in the early part of this decade when he was operations manager for the ill-fated New Urban Entertainment television network, whose investors included music maven Quincy Jones, cable executive Leo J. Hindery Jr., and African American radio giant Radio One Inc.

He attended Columbia University from 1978 to 1983.

"He lived hard, and he played hard," Barbara Ciara, NABJ president, said in a statement. "Best of all . . .  he lived."  

On Friday, the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" closed with Griffith's name,  birth date and date of death in the corner of the screen. [Updated Dec. 19.]

Renee Ferguson Signs Off in Chicago After 30 Years

Renee FergusonVeteran Chicago investigative reporter Renee Ferguson signed off from NBC-owned WMAQ-TV on Wednesday after more than 30 years of reporting. 

"Ferguson's work with the Unit 5 investigative team often leads to major change in the lives and working conditions of people in Chicago and nationwide. Her undercover investigation into allegations of sexual harassment at Ford Motor Company [led] the federal government to file a class action lawsuit which resulted in a multimillion-dollar settlement and changes in corporate policy to better protect women employees," according to her station bio.

"Her investigation into allegations that minority women were unfairly targeted as drug couriers and strip searched at O'Hare Airport by United States Customs lead to a GAO study, congressional hearings, a major change in Customs personal search policies nation-wide, and passage of a law requiring that Customs report the number and reasons for strip searches to Congress every year."

In 2006, Ferguson was elected to the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and last year she was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University, among her many honors.

She wrote a piece, "A Dilemma for Black Women in Broadcast Journalism," in which she said, "I had spent most of my Nieman year happily liberated from the tyranny of straight hair. At Harvard I felt that I was judged not by what was happening on the outside of my head but by what was occurring inside of it."

Meanwhile, ABC-owned WLS-TV announced that Andy Shaw, a mainstay of Chicago media for more than 30 years, would retire as political reporter at the end of January and will be succeeded by Charles Thomas, who joined WLS in 1991 after several years as a Midwest correspondent for ABC News.

Thomas broke the story Monday that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. had worked with federal prosecutors, informing on an alleged influence-peddling scheme by the administration of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. That alleged scheme preceded the current scandal involving Blagojevich.  [Added Dec. 19]


December 17, 2008

Shoe Incident: Serious, Funny or Both?

Ed Stein/Rocky Mountain News


Some Say Media Have Been Too Quick to Laugh It Off

The first question for media writer Howard Kurtz's online chat on the Washington Post Web site was from Ocala, Fla.:

"Can we expect American journalists to follow the lead of their Iraqi colleague and get tougher with the president?"

"I knew it!" Kurtz replied. "I was telling people yesterday, just wait, some folks will say this is how American reporters should have been treating the president.

"Perhaps you're being sarcastic. Television has had a grand time replaying the footage, and I suppose it's humorous, and Bush handled it well. But it still makes me uneasy. What if the shoes had been laced with something dangerous? I find it fairly amazing that this guy could get so close as to hurl something hard at the president."

Later in the chat, Kurtz was more forthright.

"I happen to have a master's degree in journalism, and in my studies, I have never encountered our professional duties being defined as including throwing shoes at public officials. Someone who does that is not, in my humble view, as 'reporter.'"

(c) 2008 Tim JacksonNaturally, others saw it differently. Sunday's incident was a made-for-cartooning moment, and the editorial-page artists didn't let it pass. A video game materialized in no time.

In the Mideast and in the United States, Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi was viewed by some as delivering a fitting close to the Bush presidency.

He called George Bush "a dog" as he threw one of two shoes at Bush during a news conference with Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

[Al-Zaidi asked the prime minister for a pardon, saying, "It is too late to now to regret the big and ugly act that I perpetrated,"according to the prime minister's spokesman, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.]

"Al-Zaidi's attack on Bush, who ordered the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, has been met with broad support across the Arab world," the television network al-Jazeera reported.

"Iraqis calling for al-Zaidi's release from custody held a second day of protests on Tuesday, with hundreds of students marching in Baghdad.

"The demonstrations came a day after thousands of people turned out in Baghdad's Sadr City in a show of support for al-Zaidi.

"But the Iraqi government on Monday called al-Zaidi's outburst against Bush a 'barbaric and ignominious act.'"

Bush ducked and tried to laugh about it, saying, "It didn't bother me, and if you want the facts it was a size 10 shoe he threw at me."

But as the Chicago Tribune explained, "Throwing a shoe at someone or slapping someone with the sole of a shoe is the ultimate show of contempt-essentially indicating that a person is lower than dirt."

The Arab network quoted al-Zaidi's brother, Durgham al-Zaidi, saying the television reporter was beaten by security guards. "We know that [Muntazer] has been tortured and his hand was broken. I asked them to go and check on him in the Green Zone [in Baghdad]," he said.

New York Daily News had fun with a pun.Mark Seibel, managing editor for online in the McClatchy Washington Bureau, takes the same position as Kurtz. "Most journalists saw it as a not-very-serious incident," he told Journal-isms. "Had that shoe hit him," he said, speaking of Bush, "had it struck him in the eye or the nose, it would be a very different kind of story."

Seibel moved a piece Tuesday by Greg Gordon and Adam Ashton that began, "Although the Secret Service put everyone who attended President George W. Bush's Baghdad news conference through several layers of security Sunday, the agency appeared to be caught off guard when an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at the president."

It added that "The National Media Center, an arm of the Iraqi government that deals with the news media, condemned Zaidi's behavior as barbaric and harmful to 'Iraqi journalists and journalism in general,' demanding an apology from his employer.

"The Iraqi Union of Journalists took a middle road, saying it was 'astonished by this behavior' but urging Zaidi's release 'for humanitarian reasons.'"

McClatchy's own Iraqi correspondents were divided.

"Some of the guys were happy and they were talking about the bravery of the journalist who threw his shoes at the American president," Laith wrote on a blog maintained by McClatchy's Iraqi correspondents. "When I tried to explain my opinion, I was trying to tell the guys that I don't agree with the way the journalist behaved, but I was attacked by them.

"I just wanted to say that the best action to the destruction made by Bush policy is not throw a shoe or to shout because this is an emotional reaction. The right reaction is to be loyal to Iraq and to build it, not to spend the time in tours in Europe and some neighboring countries that export death to Iraq."

Under Iraqi law, al-Zaidi risks up to seven years in jail for "offending the head of a foreign state," Agence France Presse reported. He made a court appearance on Wednesday.

Dellums Urges Expansion of Bailey Investigation

Chauncey Bailey Oakland, Calif., Mayor Ron Dellums called for an expansion of the state investigation into the Police Department's handling of journalist Chauncey Bailey's slaying to include a newly reported delay in the raid of Your Black Muslim Bakery, an operation Bailey was investigating, Thomas Peele and Bob Butler reported for the Chauncey Bailey Project.

"Dellums' comments came in reaction to reports Tuesday by The Chauncey Bailey Project that the raid was delayed 48 hours to accommodate the vacation schedules of two SWAT commanders.

"Police postponed the raid from the planned date of Aug. 1, 2007, to Aug. 3, 2007, because two senior SWAT commanders were on a backpacking trip, the Bailey Project, a consortium of Bay Area journalists, reported.

"If not for the delay, Bailey might be alive. A masked gunman killed him Aug. 2, 2007 — between the date the raid was first scheduled and the date when it was carried out."

Detroit Newspapers to Home-Deliver Only 3 Days

"This might go down as the week that they took paper out of the newspaper business," James Rainey wrote Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times.

"Detroit's two daily newspapers announced Tuesday that they plan to reduce home delivery to just three days a week. And the trade organization for newspaper editors scheduled an April vote on whether to drop 'paper' from its name."

"The idea in both cases is to fully embrace the shift of many readers and advertisers to the Internet, where many news executives believe the business must stake its future, and to finally begin to break away from a 400-year-old delivery system.

"Bosses at the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News said they will save millions of dollars they would have spent to print and deliver their newspapers, which have been steadily losing circulation.

"Better to alter the delivery system, they argued, than to further cut the news staffs."

African Americans will have a disproportionate role in the experiment in reduced home delivery. Twenty-five percent of the Free Press weekly circulation of 1,738,000 is black or African American, as is 30 percent of the News' circulation of 914,400, according to Scarborough Research figures. Both percentages are above the national average.

Not as many are on the Internet, but the difference now is slight. A study of African Americans by the Yankelovich consumer market research firm for Radio One Inc., released in June, found, "The digital divide has faded. 68 percent of those surveyed are online (compared to 71 percent of all Americans), and two-thirds of them shop online."

Rainey noted in the L.A. Times, "More than 300 people had commented on the proposed shift on the Free Press website by Tuesday evening and many said they thought they could support a change if it would help the papers survive."

Some Pundits Not Buying Obama's Protests on Scandal

Time made its choice public Wednesday.Barack Obama might be Time magazine's newly named Person of the Year, but his honeymoon with the news media is fading among some who say he should be more forthcoming in the Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich scandal.

"This week the media is no doubt annoying Obama with daily questions about Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich allegedly trying to sell Obama's Senate seat and the role of certain members of Obama's team," CNN's Campbell Brown said in a posted commentary Wednesday night, repeating sentiments she had expressed on the air.

Brown went on to quote Obama cutting off a question from the Chicago Tribune's John McCormick, saying U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald had asked him not to disrupt the Blagojevich case by disclosing certain details.

"Mr. President-elect, this is the second time I have observed you doing this. Cutting off a reporter because the question didn't suit you," Brown admonished.

"Mr. President-elect, this sort of approach reminds a lot of us of the current administration now packing up to go, and it frankly doesn't fly in a democracy."

On MSNBC, Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker said, "It's a question that is not going away and he can't, as he did in the press conference, just tell a reporter that they shouldn't even be asking the question."

Commentator Jonathan Alter said the news conference needed the presence of a Sam Donaldson, the semi-retired ABC correspondent who "when he wasn't getting an answer, would shout" the question.

NBC's Mark Whitaker: Questions won't go away.Dana Milbank, writing in Wednesday's Washington Post, said of Obama, "Hiding behind Patrick Fitzgerald's skirt? Warning a reporter not to 'waste' a question and asking for an alternative question? All four techniques were popularized by Bush."

Whitaker and MSNBC correspondent Bob Franken continued their criticism on Wednesday after Obama deferred Blagojevich questions, leaving it to the Washington Post's Michael Fletcher to say that Obama "probably would like to get the information out soon" because it was a only a distraction for him. Obama promised it "next week."

At Media Matters for America, Eric Boehlert fired back at Milbank: "According to Milbank, Obama is acting just like Bush. But Milbank used language that nobody at the Post ever dreamt of using while Bush was in office."

New Question: Is the President-Elect Biracial Enough?

After a campaign that began with skeptics asking whether Barack Obama was "black enough," his presidency is unfolding with others asking whether he is biracial enough.

"A perplexing new chapter is unfolding in Barack Obama's racial saga: Many people insist that 'the first black president' is actually not black," Jesse Washington wrote for the Associated Press.

"Debate over whether to call this son of a white Kansan and a black Kenyan biracial, African-American, mixed-race, half-and-half, multiracial — or, in Obama's own words, a 'mutt' — has reached a crescendo since Obama's election shattered assumptions about race.

"Obama has said, 'I identify as African-American — that's how I'm treated and that's how I'm viewed. I'm proud of it.' In other words, the world gave Obama no choice but to be black, and he was happy to oblige.

"But the world has changed since the young Obama found his place in it."

Ethnic Media Place Premium on Affecting Community

A survey of ethnic media confirms that, "The respondents consider their media's impact on the community as their most important measure of success." That "explains why a large majority of the respondents have stayed with their current news organizations for many years and intend to remain with ethnic media despite sometimes discouraging working conditions," according to the San Francisco-based Center for the Integration and Improvement of Journalism, which conducted the study.

"Initiated in 2007, the survey polled 300 ethnic media practitioners. The data were augmented by feedback from focus groups, [and] a reconvening of project partners at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications' (AEJMC) August 2008 convention in Chicago, as well as by follow-up interviews with various respondents and focus group participants," the study said.

"The most important goals of the ethnic media are to give voice their communities, to strengthen cultural pride and provide cultural cohesion. This mission explains, to a large extent, why ethnic media are often perceived as activist by outside observers. . . .

"There are indeed many challenges that the majority of ethnic media face, from the small to- modest staff sizes loaded with multiple tasks, to the constant struggle for financial viability and sustainability, which often leads to breaches in the firewall that theoretically separates editorial and business affairs.

"The respondents in this survey express a hunger for professional development and enrichment, which they hope academic journalism institutions would help fill. And although they express deep concern over impediments to ethnic media's further development, they are confident about the future, aware that growing ethnic communities will need mass communications that help in securing a place in American society."

Short Takes

'Loon Lunch': Derrick Z. Jackson, July 2006 / Nikon D70, 1/500, f/6.3, 80-400 zoom lens, ISO 400

  • Derrick Z. Jackson, an op-ed columnist for the Boston Globe, became "Photographer of the Week" on RAW, a Globe Web site for amateur photographers. One of his contributions was "Loon Lunch," shot in 2006 at Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in New Hampshire.' "Derrick's office at the Globe is adorned with his images: Egrets, cranes, herons, bald eagles, canyons, mountains, deserts, famous people," the accompanying text¬†said.
  • Foreign Policy magazine has compiled¬†"The Top 10 Stories You Missed in 2008." Heading the list: "the Afghanistan surge has, to a certain extent, already begun." Second: after almost a decade, U.S.-assisted efforts to reduce cocaine production in Colombia "haven't just failed; they've been downright counterproductive." Third: "The conflict in Darfur still may not be getting the attention it deserves, but another crisis in Sudan threatens to become the country's newest humanitarian catastrophe. The storm brewing in Nuba country looks much like the ongoing tempest in Darfur."
  • Writing of David Gregory's first Sunday as the host of NBC's long-running "Meet the Press," succeeding the late Tim Russert, Joe Garofoli wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle that day, "some wonder if anything will really change. Not only does Gregory's promotion in the aftermath of Russert's death ensure that all the shows will continue to be hosted by white men, roughly 80 percent of the newsmakers and pundits who have appeared on the shows over the past eight years also have been white men, according to an ongoing study by the liberal think tank Media Matters for America."
  • "Brenda Teele, one of three co-hosts for WFAA8's Good Morning Texas, will be leaving the show at the end of this year, the station confirms," Ed Bark wrote¬†on his blog about Dallas television news on Friday. Teele joined WFAA-TV in February 2006 and has been in the Dallas-Fort Worth market since 1995, he said.¬†
  • "Donna DavisWhen WMC-TV Channel 5 anchor Donna Davis, a staple of the Memphis media, was laid off Tuesday, she was grateful that her bosses let her say goodbye to her co-workers," Wendi C. Thomas wrote¬†Sunday in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "But she never got a chance on air to say goodbye to the tens of thousands of viewers who were fond of the Birch-Davis team that delivered the news since 2000," Thomas wrote, referring to co-anchor Joe Birch.
  • Jeffrey Dvorkin, former ombudsman at National Public Radio, wrote¬†a tribute to Doug Mitchell, the founder of NPR's Next Generation Radio project who was told¬†last week he was being laid off. Separately, freelance columnist Jasmine Cannick wrote¬†that NPR's cancellation of the African American-oriented "News & Notes" "is just another sign that it's not safe out there for Black journalists . . anywhere."
  • CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts reported¬†Monday on McCullom Lake Village in Illinois, where 14 residents out of 1,000 people have developed brain cancer. The village is a mile from chemical giant Rohm and Haas. A dozen scientists also developed brain cancer while working at a Rohm and Haas facility in Springhouse, Penn., the story said, and died.
  • "About a month ago, I wrote that the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was an A1-worthy story that American newspapers ‚Äî even a leader in international reporting like The New York Times ‚Äî were giving an A6-quality treatment. Apparently the Times agreed with me. A front-pager¬†on Dec. 11 recounted the horrifying details of a rebel raid on a town called Kiwanja in Eastern Congo," Armin Rosen wrote Wednesday for the Columbia Journalism Review. Also on Wednesday, actor-director Ben Affleck and Rolling Stone singer Mick Jagger released a short film, dubbed "Gimme Shelter," to help raise $23 million for U.N. efforts to pay for clean water and emergency aid kits for 250,000 people driven from their homes by renewed fighting in the eastern part of the country, the United Nations News Service reported.
  • Accredited freelance photojournalist Shadrack Manyere disappeared in Zimbabwe on Saturday and may be in police custody, journalists in Harare, the capital, have told the Committee to Protect Journalists, the organization reported¬†on Wednesday.

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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Mark Griffith (Jason Miccolo Johnson; Jackie Jones)

It is so ironic that Mark was the first person to call and inform me of Gordon Parks' death in March of 2006. In fact, he had helped me orchestrate that historic day in November 2002 when 90 of the nation's top African American photographers came together in New York for Gordon's 90th birthday tribute. In the March 27, 2006 issue of JET magazine announcing Parks' death, Mark is in the photo standing in the background between Gordon and myself wearing shades and a tan trench coat. He was a great friend with a great spirit. He could be counted on. He will be greatly missed by all of us who shared his passion and zest for life. We would always end our phone calls with a deep-bass pronouncement of ..."PEACE!" Peace my brother, peace. -- Jason Miccolo Johnson This is just devastating news. Mark was a wonderful spirit -- lots of fun, a great sense of humor and hard working. He was one of those brothers who worked diligently behind the scenes at NABJ conventions to make sure things ran smoothly and he was always ready with a smile and a joke when you're were at the end of your rope. His death and Weta Clark's have just knocked me for a loop. -- Jackie Jones

Mark Griffith

I am shocked and saddened to hear the news of Mark's sudden passing. He gave me my very first job in television at the aforementioned "ill-fated" NUE network, which, short-lived as it was, was the best springboard I could have had for what has turned out to be an eight-year (and counting) career in television journalism. Fresh out of college, with no real TV experience, I had the opportunity to jump in feet first and do the kind of work (like covering the 2000 presidential election) that I wouldn't have done anywhere else, only because Mark gave me a shot. He had a confidence in my abilities, and saw a talent and competence in me that I couldn't even see in myself at the time. Mark's infectious and buoyant spirit, and his dedication to promoting and encouraging journalists of color will be sorely missed by me, and all those who knew him.

Mark Griffith

As I sit here tonight, I can't believe I'm writing about the death of an old NABJ friend Mark Griffith. I have known him for at least 15 years and he was one of the faces I looked for every year at the convention. Mark was the picture of "LIFE", a person who always had a smile and a hug for friends. You were never a stranger, even before you actually met him. He loved being around his people, our people, all people. That's what made him a great journalist because he was a people person and he cared. As good as he was professionally, he never wore his credentials on his sleeve; he was proud of what he did, but his job was not who he was. He knew how to work hard and have fun; and that both were important! Like so many of his NABJ friends, I will miss him forever! But I am comforted by his warm smile and the knowledge that he is in a better place. Thank you Mark for being a good example and for passing our way and leaving us with so many great memories.

Re: Mark Griffith

Mark possessed an indelible spirit that touched all who came into his space... if he was not affectionately (and with that effervescent smile) inviting himself into yours. He's a brother and a soldier who will be missed. Prayers, thoughts and blessings to his family and friends. James T. Campbell

Mark Griffith

I'm still stunned. Mark dead. Can't be. Not so. That's my NABJ Brother. We became family when I ran for NABJ secretary against the feared and revered Vanessa Williams. He loved my church fans, which I used in that heated campaign. Mark became my brother and Vanessa my sister (especially when she was photographed using my fan). We were NABJ Board members together. We hung at every convention. Mark and I talk about twice a month. We have a lifelong Old School Music Championship contest. It's nothing for me to call Mark, who is ALWAYS working, and leave my latest challenge on his voice mail. Listen as Cheryl Lynn belts out "To be Real" as she transforms into Evelyn "Champagne" King's "I'm in Love" as the beat blurs into Brick's "Ain't Gonna Hurt Nobody" Then comes my screaming close: "Dude, you don't know nothin' bout this -- NOTHIN' !!!" Mark would call back days later (after he woke up from working 2 weeks straight) rockin' Roger and Zapp's "Do Wah Ditty" as he stacked Brick's "You Don't Want to Sit Down, You Want to Get Down" on top of Parliament's "Flashlight"!! The night I won the Pulitzer Prize, my family flew into New York City from all over the country and as we were getting out of the limos at the hotel that night, I walk right into . . . . MARK GRIFFITH! He screamed, and I screamed. Then I told him what I was celebrating -- he screamed and I screamed again. Imagine destiny designing such a crossroads on one of the most special days of my life. We always laughed, remembering that night. How about those countless, never-ending New York NABJ convention parties? When all the parties were over, Meta and Mark were still making it happen -- even if the party was temporarily interrupted by security. Well, a couple of weeks ago, I lectured Mark about "working too much" and how he needed to get to the NABJ convention earlier this time. We talked about hanging out in Tampa and on the beaches of St. Pete/Clearwater. Now, when I see his smiling face at the upcoming NABJ convention, it'll be on the screen, "In Memoriam." That hurts already. "Well Mark, my Brotha . . . I guess you won our lifelong Old School Music championship. But it wasn't supposed to end like this! Luv you, Bro!"

Mark Griffith

My first NABJ convention was Atlanta, Unity 1994. I travelled from my home in Canada alone not knowing anyone there, not one person, not one friend, not even knowing what to expect. I returned home to Canada with many friends, energized and a desire to be at that convention every year since. Meeting Mark at NABJ was a very special part of that "big black NABJ annual hug" I get at NABJ conventions. Mark was one person who made sure that "hug" was a tight squeeze of true caring, giving and what good hearts are made of when it came to being your friend. The Canadian was no longer a convention "stranger" thanks to him. I was "at home" when I became a part of NABJ and a lot of that was because of Mark. Yes.... and squeezing in the door of the New York party as Mark and Meta were hosting it to the "nines" became tradition. It truly was the "ain't no party like a Black folks party". he made sure of that. It was the friendships I formed like Mark's that went well beyond the day the convention was over and the goodbyes at the Gospel Brunch that made my life special after that first NABJ convention. Strong bonds that developed .... and that meant the importance of "staying in touch" and "reaching out to one another". Mark cemented that with me, and I with him, how blessed I was that he did. Along the way, over the years my trips to NY to visit my Aunt or do some shopping (before and after I moved to the USA) saw him coming out to Queens to pick me up to go for a meal and share that "oh so wonderful" smile and laugh he had and that endless energy & zest he had in life. It was better than any bargain I had gotten that day. The perfect ending to a day in NY....sharing time with a great friend like Mark. I called him once when he was laid off to see how he was and to give him some encouragement and support. He was so happy to know that I cared. I think sometimes he was so busy "giving" he forgot he could also "receive". Mark was a testament to "Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action." 1 John 3:18 I wrote on the NABJ listserve when first hearing the news about Mark how sad my heart was. I have been reading everything all of you have written on here & on the NABJ listserve about him and I always knew he was special for who he was and what he gave of himself to others and reading all your postings brings it all to the forefront. Many of you know I had a very serious car accident last November 2007... a week before Thanksgiving. When he heard about it, Mark called to check on me. I have a habit of keeping a lot of "received emails" from people that are special. As I looked through my emails today I found this email from Mark. He sent it to me on Thanksgiving Day 2007... a week after he called to see how I was from the accident. I want to share it with all of you because the words are few.... but their meaning is paramount. He was always there for you and always let you know that. I will miss him dearly. How lucky the angels are to be able to enjoy that smile. Gwen Tolbart WTTG Fox5 DC From: [] Sent: Thursday, November 22, 2007 6:03 PM To: gwtolbart Subject: Hey happy thanksgiving...... all that's important is that you are okay..... you are one of my favorite people in the world......... call me if you need a listening ear! xoxoxoxoxoxo mark

Mark Griffith

In this season of light one bright candle has gone out. Those of us who were fortunate enough to count Mark as a colleague and friend will miss his warm glow, his fun loving ways, and his serious commitment to his work. Marquita Pool-Eckert

Mark Griffith

Oh, my goodness. I am so sorry. I am shocked and saddened. I always loved his smile and sense of humor. A "what's going on" call from Mark was always a highlight. You could hear the laughter in his voice. Judy Womack

Thank You for Everything, Mark!

As a young t.v. news producer in the late 80's and early 90's ... I had the opportunity to encounter a highly dynamic and talented Mark Griffith at the N.Y., and then, Kansas City NABJ Conventions. I would later move to Los Angeles as first Senior Producer then as Executive Producer at KCBS where I frequently called on the services of Mark at CBS Newspath to help move the best material that would make our 11pm newscasts the most competitive that they could be. He probably represented CBS networks better than they may have ever imagined. In later years, I became News Director for the Cleveland CBS/UPN duopoly and I received a call from what I perceived as a "withering" Mark... desperately in need of a job. I put him in touch with a colleague who gave him a job in North Carolina. Funny how life is... the N.D. would later move to N.Y.C. and reunite with Mark, who was there for the N.D. at his point of transition. But my one shining image of Mark was on a moon-lit Kansas City hotel balcony... the two of us -- significantly younger -- pondering the meaning of life, joy, happiness and our places on the planet The brother was a deep and intellectual gentleman and a joy to have experienced in this lifetime.

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