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Layoffs Sting More for Blacks, Latinos

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Study Confirms Whites Better Able to Recover From Losses

Big Papers Cautious in Following AP on Immigration

MSNBC Names New Black Host; "Buffoonery" Ensues

Velshi Leaving CNN After 12 Years for Unspecified Project

. . . Velshi Joining Al Jazeera America as First On-Air Hire

Armed Men Storm 3 Baghdad Newspaper Offices

Fake Somali Pirates Scam Time Magazine, Documentarians

Kent State Gives Russ Mitchell Its McGruder Diversity Award

Short Takes

Study Confirms Whites Better Able to Recover From Losses

The contraction of the news industry and the recent recession hit black and Latino journalists harder than whites, the American Society of News Editors has established, and a new study suggests that those journalists might have been less financially equipped to withstand the layoffs than their white counterparts.

The Pew Charitable Trusts' "Hard Choices: Navigating the Economic Shock of Unemployment" did not specifically examine journalists, but it did look at the effects of unemployment on African Americans and Latinos.

"The study finds that while families at every rung of the economic ladder experienced unemployment, their ability to withstand and recover from losses differed dramatically," it said.

"Low-income families and those of color had both the greatest risk of job loss and the least access to resources to buffer negative effects."

It continued, "For example, when comparing those households that experienced unemployment, the median wealth of white households was at least seven times that of black households in each year of the study," which covered 10 years.

"Moreover, families that experienced unemployment not only suffered lost income during their period not working, but also longer-term wealth losses, compromising their economic security and mobility."

ASNE reported last year that overall, total newsroom employment at daily newspapers and online outlets declined by 2.4 percent in 2011, while the loss in minority newsroom positions was 5.7 percent.

"The decline in minority newsroom employment . . . appears to be stabilizing," the organization reported. But it noted "a decline of approximately 800 minority newsroom positions in both 2008 and 2009," followed by a loss of 500 jobs over 2010 and 2011. ASNE counts participating newspaper and online outlets, but not broadcasters.

(Bob Papper of Hofstra University, who tracks local broadcast numbers for the Radio Television Digital News Association, told Journal-isms by email, "At this point, total TV news employment is slightly ahead of the last pre-recession number … and the percentage of minorities is virtually unchanged.  No progress … but no loss either.")

The National Association of Black Journalists said after last year's ASNE report, "Since 2002, African American journalists have lost [993 newsroom] jobs — more than any other group of minorities, including Hispanic, Asian and Native American."

No one seems to have tracked what happened to all those who were laid off, and African Americans have no doubt proved resilient in many ways. But the Pew report includes among its interviewees a laid-off African American news reporter named Bob Johnson, who eventually found another job yet was still financially challenged.

The Johnson family "did not have family wealth to draw on, felt squeezed and challenged by financial obligations, and had to make difficult choices," the report said. " 'When you have aging parents who you're helping,' Bob said, 'and you've got a daughter who's going through what she's going through [health and disability challenges] and another daughter in college, it just gets spread out so thin.' The Johnsons' loss of income affected not only their immediate family, but also the well-being of their aging parents, and these responsibilities affected the speed with which depleted resources could be rebuilt."

The researchers said, "Data from the interviews reinforced that the economic position of families at the onset of unemployment strongly influences whether and how they are able to maintain their well-being.

"Inherited assets are not evenly distributed among families. Research has shown that black and Hispanic families receive lower overall levels of support from private transfers than white families and are five times less likely to receive inheritances and large gifts."

The report concluded, "The findings in this report provide insight for policymakers seeking to help families build assets that can protect them in times of need and provide a foundation for future upward mobility. Mechanisms that encourage families to build savings and access low-cost loans in times of economic shock, as well as public safety-net programs that prevent downward mobility and also promote recovery and return to the labor market, are all needed."

Don Lemon, center, was skeptical of the Associated Press decision as he discussed it with a panel on "CNN Newsroom." (Video)

Big Papers Cautious in Following AP on Immigration

Large newspapers were in no rush to follow the Associated Press Wednesday in its declaration that the word "illegal" should describe an action, not a person, when discussing immigrants who are in the country illegally.

"We generally follow AP style, but in this case we're still discussing whether or not to go along," Joe Knowles, associate managing editor/editing and presentation at the Chicago Tribune, told Journal-isms by email, "... partly because it makes headline writing difficult if not impossible. One of our copy chiefs sent a note to Ask the Editor on what they recommend in headlines. 'Perpetrator of illegal immigration' isn't going to fit too well."

While many journalists of color and immigrant advocates applauded the AP, others, ranging from conservative politicians and commentators to the CNN anchor Don Lemon, ridiculed the decision or at least were strongly skeptical. "File this in the overflowing cabinet labeled: No Wonder the Mainstream Media Is Dying," right-wing commentator Michelle Malkin wrote.

"I disagree with the Associated Press," Ruben Navarrette Jr., the contrarian syndicated columnist, wrote on Facebook. "But I'll give this decision the consideration it deserves. Which is, not much." Navarrette referred his followers to a November column in which he listed 10 reasons he thought "illegal immigrant" was accurate.

The AP's new stylebook entry for "illegal immigration" reads, "Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission.

"Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented."

The note from Kathleen Carroll, the AP's senior vice president and executive editor, said, "Specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where. Crossed the border? Overstayed a visa? What nationality?"

The AP Stylebook is used by most newspapers in the United States, and an overwhelming number of them publish stories from the wire service.

Still, some large newspapers have their own stylebooks.

After the AP announcement, Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, told readers of her blog, "The Times, for the past couple of months, has also been considering changes to its stylebook entry on this term and will probably announce them to staff members this week." But, Sullivan added, "From what I can gather, The Times's changes will not be nearly as sweeping as The A.P.'s."

Martin Baron, executive editor of the Washington Post, which also has a stylebook of its own, told a reporter, "We have not addressed this subject since the changes at AP and the New York Times, which occurred within the last few days," according to a Post spokeswoman.

At the Los Angeles Times, "The Times' Standards and Practices Committee has been studying this issue for several months and has not yet reached a decision on whether to recommend a style along the lines of what AP has announced," spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan told Journal-isms.

However, the Los Angeles paper had already nixed "illegal" or "illegal aliens," though it approved of "illegal immigrants."

Its "illegal immigrants" entry reads, "Use this term in referring to citizens of foreign countries who have come to the country with no passport, visa or other document to show that they are entitled to visit, work or live in the United States.

"Do not use illegal aliens or illegals except in direct quotes.

"The nouns alien and illegal should not appear in headlines. The term undocumented immigrant is acceptable as a synonym for illegal immigrant under certain conditions, such as when a form of the word illegal already appears in a sentence. Example: Although their parents are not legally eligible for welfare, the children of undocumented immigrants qualify for benefits. Take care in assigning people the status of illegal immigrants. Those arrested by border police are held or deported by the INS if they are suspected of being illegal immigrants. It is wrong to accuse someone of illegal activity if it is untrue. We cannot know without asking, for example, whether particular dayworkers are illegal immigrants or immigrants at all."

MSNBC Names New Black Host; "Buffoonery" Ensues

Karen Finney's program is to air on MSNBC weekends from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

"Hey, Reince Priebus: Here's some more top-notch minority outreach from your partners at the right-wing Media Research Center," Joan Walsh wrote Tuesday for Salon, referring to the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

"MSNBC just announced that Karen Finney, a network political analyst and former communications director of the Democratic National Committee, will host a new weekend show. MRC director of media analysis Tim Graham immediately Tweeted:

" 'MSNBC touting Karen Finney as another African-American host. Would the average viewer be able to guess that? Or is Boehner a shade more tan?'

" ' — Tim Graham (@TimJGraham) April 2, 2013' 

"Finney is African-American, although MSNBC didn’t particularly 'tout' that in its press release; it mentioned that she was the first African-American communications director of the DNC and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. I’m not sure what would cause Graham to even muse about her racial bona fides, let alone share his idiocy publicly. When mocked on Twitter, he just dug his hole deeper . . ."

Walsh continued, "Graham’s buffoonery reminded me of when former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown mocked and questioned Sen. Elizabeth Warren's American Indian background, and when Tucker Carlson accused Barack Obama of exaggerating his 'black' accent when speaking to black ministers. . . ."

Ali Velshi spoke in August at a South Asian Journalists Association gala in Wash

Velshi Leaving CNN After 12 Years for Unspecified Project

"CNN's chief business correspondent Ali Velshi is leaving the channel, TVNewser has learned," Alex Weprin reported Wednesday for TVNewser.

"CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker noted the change in a meeting with CNN staff today. Velshi's last day will be Friday. Zucker said that CNN and Velshi were parting as friends, and that the channel was sorry to see him go.

" 'It's been an amazing almost 12 years at CNN. Love it more today than I ever have, and CNN is going to be great under Jeff,' Velshi says. 'I basically grew up here, so it's sad to leave, but I’ve got a great opportunity to stretch some new muscles and grow something, and it appeals to my entrepreneurial side.' "

Weprin wrote, "It isn’t clear where Velshi is going just yet, but Zucker said that Velshi is leaving to work on a new project that 'he couldn’t pass up' according to an insider."

. . . Velshi Joining Al Jazeera America as First On-Air Hire

Al Jazeera America made this announcement on Thursday:

"Al Jazeera America, the new US-based news channel set to launch later this year, today announced that Ali Velshi, CNN's former chief business correspondent and anchor of 'Your Money' and CNN International's 'World Business Today,' has joined Al Jazeera America to develop and host a daily primetime business program.

"Based in New York, the as yet-to-be named 30-minute magazine-style program will initially launch in a weekly format but is expected to move to a five-days-a-week schedule by year's end. The program will cover a variety of topics including employment, personal finance, healthcare and education and will feature a mix of field reports, studio guests and interactive discussions designed to highlight how economic developments in the U.S. and around the globe affect the daily lives of Americans. The program will draw upon the extensive global resources of the Al Jazeera Media Network and will employ specialists and other correspondents who will lend their expertise. . . . "

Velshi is Al Jazeera America's first on-air hire, Joe Flint reported Thursday for the Los Angeles Times.

The Qatar-based network announced in January that it had bought the struggling liberal channel Current TV from Al Gore for $500 million, and would use it to expand into American coverage. It received 5,000 applications for open positions within 24 hours of posting openings for the majority of its new positions, BuzzFeed reported at the time.

Thursday's release quoted Velshi: "I'm thrilled to be joining Al Jazeera America, an organization that puts quality, fact-based journalism first. It's a tremendous opportunity and I look forward to taking advantage of the extraordinary U.S. news-gathering capabilities the channel is building and working with such a diverse and talented group of colleagues to tell compelling stories that matter to Americans."

He told Brian Stelter of the New York Times, "I think the product will trump any preconceived notions that people may have going into it. They're very determined for this brand to make an impact and for this brand to be a meaningful provider of news.”

Flint added, "Al Jazeera America has not set a launch date but has said it plans to be up and running before the end of 2013." He continued, "Al Jazeera America is opening bureaus all around the country and has plans to compete on the domestic news front with CNN, MSNBC and Fox News." [Added April 4]

Correspondent Hannah Allam is surrounded by staff members from the Baghdad burea

Armed Men Storm 3 Baghdad Newspaper Offices

"Men armed with pistols, knives and steel pipes stormed into three Baghdad newspaper offices, beating employees and smashing computers after publication of an article about a Shi'ite Muslim cleric, police and editors said on Tuesday," Ahmed Rasheed reported for Reuters.

"Monday's attacks illustrated the stubborn influence of hardline Islamist militias in Iraq, where Sunni and Shi'ite insurgents often imposed their own fundamentalist vision on the streets during the height of sectarian war a few years ago."

The story continued, "Iraq's media landscape has loosened dramatically since the days of dictator Saddam Hussein, when state-controlled media churned out endless propaganda. Now Iraqis have a choice of 200 print outlets, 60 radio stations and 30 TV channels in Arabic and also in the Turkman, Syriac and Kurdish languages.

"But while press freedom has improved, many media outlets remain dominated by religious or political party patrons who use them for their own ends. The government has also occasionally threatened to close media outlets it regards as offensive.

"The Iraqi media are still frequently targeted for their work. Five Iraqi journalists were killed in 2012, according to the International Federation of Journalists. . . ."

Meanwhile, Jackie Spinner, a former Washington Post journalist and its Baghdad bureau chief, interviewed correspondents who had covered Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003. Spinner, an assistant professor of journalism at Columbia College in Chicago and a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Oman in 2010-11, wrote for the February/March issue of the American Journalism Review.

"Hannah Allam, who was Baghdad bureau chief for Knight Ridder (now McClatchy) from the end of 2003 through 2005, continued to cover the story after she left, returning from Cairo after becoming bureau chief there," Spinner wrote. "She spent much of 2010 in Iraq while pregnant with her son.

" 'I was lucky in that my editors always fought to keep the Iraq story in our papers, so I've always had a great deal of support,' says Allam, now McClatchy's foreign affairs correspondent based in Washington. 'But, yes, after the U.S. military withdrawal and even during the winding-down period, it became much harder to get people excited about Iraq stories. There were only so many ways to write about suicide bombings, government collapses, the rise of the Sadrists, the marginalization of the Sunnis, the Iranian influence, the huge and cloistered U.S. Embassy, the oil industry picking up, disputed mixed-sect provinces/neighborhoods, etc., etc. All those tropes had been explored in depth, and it became very difficult to find something new and fresh to cover in the country.' . . . "

Allam was the National Association of Black Journalists' "Journalist of the Year" in 2004 when she worked for the now-defunct Knight Ridder chain.

Fake Somali Pirates Scam Time Magazine, Documentarians

"The story begins in the slums of Eastleigh, a sprawling suburb of Nairobi in Kenya and home to a huge Somali community," Jamal Osman reported for Britain’s Channel 4 News in a story reprinted Wednesday for the Daily Beast. "There, I met Adan. He and his friends are running an industry that had been fooling some of the best journalists from around the world. Their business? Pretending to be pirates. 

" 'We pretend because we have the talent,' Adan told me. 'With ships being regularly seized and crews kidnapped, Somali pirates have been much in demand by the news media. 'They [journalists] go to the boss and say, "We need pirates," ' Adan said. 'The boss comes to us and says, "The white men need pirates." So he says, "Assume to be a pirate." '

"The scam is coordinated by a 'fixer' who offers journalists the opportunity to interview 'real live pirates' — for a fee. Touting his local knowledge, he promises to reach parts of the community a Western journalist never could. There then follows an elaborate scheme to convince journalists of the plan's legitimacy. The 'fixer' drives the Westerners around — sometimes for days — in search of the elusive pirates, telling them it is too dangerous yet to approach the men.

"The scheme culminates in sit-down interviews with the so-called pirates — interviews that have made it into the venerable pages of international newsmagazines and broadcast in documentaries, one of which was reportedly shown in some 18 countries across the world. . . ."

The duped magazines include Time, which still has a 2010 interview with one of the impostors on its website.

Kent State Gives Russ Mitchell Its McGruder Diversity Award

Russ Mitchell and Betty Lin-Fisher

Russ Mitchell, the former CBS News anchor now at WKYC-TV in Cleveland, received the Robert G. McGruder Award from Kent State University on Tuesday, "given to today’s media leaders who exemplify the commitment" of McGruder, the former Detroit Free Press editor and diversity advocate who died in 2002.

"This was the 10th anniversary of the program," Eugene Shelton, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, told Journal-isms Wednesday by email. Shelton coordinates the event.

"It was a milestone event. Annette McGruder," McGruder's wife, "surprised us with a generous donation to the McGruder Scholarship Fund. We surprised her with an award of appreciation for her 10 years of dedicated support. If Bob McGruder's name is on the program, Annette McGruder is there. His legacy lives on because of her. In this 10th year it was time to extend the award to a broadcast journalist.

"Russ Mitchell left CBS network news to accept a position as managing editor and evening anchor at WKYC (NBC) here in Cleveland. Like McGruder, Mitchell accomplished many firsts in his broadcasting career. He represents broadcast journalism at its finest. The color of his skin has nothing to do with his talent. Who better represents McGruder's message than Russ Mitchell, who is now a member of our own community.

"Betty Lin-Fisher is the first Asian American journalist to be recognized with the McGruder Diversity in Media Distinguished Leadership Award. She is a business reporter and columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal. Too often when we think of diversity we think black and white. Again, in this milestone year it was important to expand and recognize that Bob McGruder's message was not limited to African Americans."

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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Dr. Michael Fauntroy Hates on Roland Martin

I'm not a Roland Martin groupie, but he did what he was hired to do at CNN. He was a "spundit." He acted as a foil to right-winger Will What's-his-name. Fauntroy is entitled to his likes and dislikes, but why now? Schadenfreude? Jealousy? Entertainment for his handlers at the conservative (Koch-backed) George Mason University?

Fauntroy is playing into that Black versus Black showdown that grabs the attention of those who want to paint an ugly picture of all African-Americans. Sadly, the professor looks like the latest token in the tokenism game. 

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