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Libya Jams Al Jazeera Signals Across Region

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Barred From Entry, Journalists Flock to Egypt-Libya Border

Roy S. Johnson Out as Editor of Men's Fitness

Mourners Attack TV News Crew After Fatal Shooting 

Ruben Salazar Not Targeted in Killing, Report Finds

A Muslim "Qu'osby Show?" Cosby Says Concept Might Work

Houston Chronicle Finds Black Papers a Treasure

U.S. Funding "Best Hope" for Diverse Public Broadcasting

Short Takes

"A picture emerged of a nation in the throes of the bloodiest revolution to so far emerge from the populist upheavals sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa," the Washington Post said. (Credit: Al Jazeera).

Barred From Entry, Journalists Flock to Egypt-Libya Border

Al Jazeera satellite television channel, which won praise for linking citizen protesters in Tunisia and Egypt to the rest of the world, "yesterday accused Libya's intelligence services of jamming its broadcasts across the Middle East and North Africa," the English-language newspaper the National reported from Doha, Qatar.

The jamming was followed by an appearance by Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi, who made a brief television appearance shortly after midnight Tuesday, just long enough to say he hadn't fled the country and to denounce "those misleading dog stations," ABC News reported.

"I am here to show that I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela," he said. "Don't believe those misleading dog stations."

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera "said it was 'able to determine the source of the jamming of its broadcasts which began on February 2 and continued intermittently, but coincided with the channel's broadcasts on Libya'," the National said in a story dated Tuesday.

". . . In Beirut, the Lebanese telecommunications minister, Charbel Nahhas, said the jamming 'originated from Libyan territory' and that the interference was also affecting Lebanese channels. 'They [Libyans] see what these televisions carry about what is happening in their country and they jam the transmission points ... so Al Jazeera is affected and we are affected, too,' Mr Nahhas said."

Josh Halliday reported for Britain's Guardian newspaper, "Journalists from newspapers and broadcasters across the world, including ITV News and the New York Times, are descending on the Libyan border as anti-government protests intensify" against Gaddafi's regime.

"A blanket ban on foreign journalists entering Libya has meant that facts are increasingly hard to verify.

"The BBC is one of the only international news organisations with a correspondent in Libya's capital, Tripoli, where government and state television buildings came under attack on Monday.

"Many western news organisations — including the Associated Press, the Daily Telegraph, and the Guardian — have been restricted to reporting from neighbouring countries, usually Egypt.

"However, the world's media was today preparing for the 'floodgates to open' on Egypt's western border as the uprising threatens to engulf Gaddafi's 41-year rule in Libya.

"Ashraf Khali, a Cairo-based freelance correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and the Times, said on Twitter: 'International media in Cairo is heading en masse to the Egypt Libya border and just waiting for the floodgates to open.' "

For the New York Times, David D. Kirkpatrick and Mona El-Naggar reported from Cairo that Gaddafi's government "struck back at mounting protests against his 40-year rule, as security forces and militiamen backed by helicopters and warplanes besieged parts of the capital Monday, according to witnesses and news reports from Tripoli.

"By Monday night, witnesses said, the streets of the capital, Tripoli, were thick with special forces loyal to Colonel [Gaddafi] as well as mercenaries. They shot freely as planes dropped what witnesses described as 'small bombs' and helicopters fired on protesters.

In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, "governments fearful of an informed citizenry and a free press such as in Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, and Zimbabwe" were imposing total news blackouts on the uprising in Libya and other North African and Middle Eastern countries, Mohamed Keita wrote for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"Nowhere is the news blackout more extreme than in Eritrea, where the government has banned independent media since 2001. Typing 'Egypt' in the search field of the government news website Shabait returns about 50 results, the most recent and relevant of which is a December 3, 2010, item titled: 'Presidents Isaias and Mubarak conduct discussion in Cairo.' Eritrean sources told CPJ, however, that satellite dishes in the capital Asmara's rooftops allowed people to follow the unfolding events."

Roy S. Johnson Out as Editor of Men's Fitness

Roy S. JohnsonVeteran sports journalist Roy S. Johnson announced Monday that he is no longer the editor-in-chief of Men's Fitness, a magazine he oversaw for nearly four years.

Samantha Trenk, a spokeswoman for American Media Inc., told Journal-isms that the company, which has been undergoing financial challenges, decided to place Men's Fitness, Flex and Muscle & Fitness under a single editorial director, Seth Kelly of Muscle & Fitness, in a combined Men's Enthusiast Group.

American Media Inc., which also publishes the celebrity-driven Star and the National Enquirer, officially emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Dec. 22, the Daily Deal reported at the time. "The company has been in restructuring talks for two years and blamed cuts in discretionary spending for decreased single-copy circulation and ultimately a liquidity crunch that has made it difficult to pay its debts," Ben Fidler reported for the Daily Deal.

In an afternoon "TwitLonger" Twitter message, Johnson wrote, "For the second time in my career, the harsh realities of our challenging economy have touched me, and my family — as they have so many others in our industry.

". . . Now, I'm excited about tomorrow. I am excited about reviving my consulting enterprise, RSJ Media Solutions, to help companies grow and thrive in this unique environment by providing creative and effective editorial content for all media platforms, guidance on new product development (particularly digital) and advice on leveraging social media to enhance brands and boost the bottom line.

"While I've endured hurdles and setbacks (who hasn't?!), I remain excited about the media industry and its prospects for engaging, informing and entertaining consumers, reaching them whenever and wherever they want to be reached.

"I also remain passionate about helping people live fit healthy lifestyles and will be creating new products and events to inform — and hopefully inspire — more of us to exercise, eat smarter and live their best. At a time when obesity remains one of our nation's biggest threats (the biggest killer among African Americans), there are few greater rewards than providing someone with the tools and the motivation to change their lives."

Johnson left Sports Illustrated as assistant managing editor in 2005, and edited the old Savoy magazine before first consulting for and then joining American Media.

His wife, former television executive Barbara Y. Johnson, is recovering from a stroke and Johnson periodically updates friends on her progress. In the most recent entry on the CaringBridge website, from October, he described the day she returned to driving.

Mourners plead with a KTXL/Fox40 news crew to leave after Sunday's fatal shooting outside a Sacramento-area pancake house. (Credit: KXTV) (Video)

Mourners Attack TV News Crew After Fatal Shooting

"Angry mourners attacked two members of a television news crew Sunday at a curbside memorial for the victim of a fatal shooting in Natomas," Calif., Hudson Sangree wrote Monday for the Sacramento Bee.

Both the homicide and the attack occurred outside an International House of Pancakes restaurant.

"At about 2:40 a.m., Sacramento police officers responded to a shooting at the all-night restaurant. Homicide detectives believe two groups got into an argument inside. The fight escalated outdoors and ended in gunfire, police spokeswoman Laura Peck said.

"Responding officers found one man lying dead on the pavement, she said.

By afternoon, "A crowd of mourners gathered.

"Journalists arrived to record the impromptu event.

"About 3:45 p.m., a Sacramento Bee photographer was threatened and chased by members of an angry mob who mistakenly believed she was recording it on her cell phone. She ran to her car, where people surrounded her, screaming and pounding on her windows. She escaped unharmed but shaken.

"Soon afterward, Fox40 reporter John Lobertini and photojournalist Rebecca Little — unaware of prior events — approached the memorial and a handful of mourners gathered there. Within moments, a dozen people ran from an adjacent parking lot and charged the journalists, screaming obscenities.

"One woman grabbed Little's hair and pulled her to the ground. Another kicked her in the face. At least one man punched Lobertini as he attempted to protect Little.

"Other mourners tried to stop the attack, but later insisted it was the journalists' fault for intruding on a private event.

"Afterward, Little and Lobertini looked stunned, their faces marked with red abrasions and swelling. Little said she was merely trying to do her job by covering the gathering on a public sidewalk. She said she had meant no disrespect to the mourners.

" 'My motive was to shoot the memorial, not to get in their faces,' she said.

"Police soon arrived, but by then the assailants had fled. The incident was recorded by multiple news crews, the attackers caught on videotape. Officers viewed the tapes, interviewed the victims and said they would refer the case to detectives."

In the comments section on the Fox40 website, "MrUniteUs" denied there were racial overtones. "You [saw] some Blacks exchange words with the reporters. others were [silent]. You [saw a] couple try and strike the reporter, you saw other Blacks holding them back and shielding the reporter and camera woman. Same color different attitudes. You saw a fiery Hispanic protecting the camera woman but demanding that the reporter leave."

The report on KTXL, known as Fox40, closed with a question for viewers: "Why do you think so many people attack journalists?"

Ruben Salazar Not Targeted in Killing, Report Finds

Ruben Salazar's image was included in an 'American Journalists' stamp series in 2008.

"Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies committed a series of tactical blunders that led to the 1970 slaying of journalist Ruben Salazar, but there is no evidence they intentionally targeted the newsman or had him under surveillance, according to a draft report by a civilian watchdog agency," Robert J. Lopez wrote Sunday for the Los Angeles Times.

"The report by the Office of Independent Review, scheduled to be released at a news conference Tuesday, is the first outside examination of thousands of pages of Sheriff's Department records in a killing that has been clouded by suspicion, controversy and criticism for 40 years. A draft copy of the document was obtained by The Times.

"Salazar's killing became a seminal moment in the Mexican American civil rights movement. And in death, Salazar became an iconic figure, with parks, schools and even a U.S. Postal Service stamp bearing his name."

On Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," Aasif Mandvi Friday presented "The Qu'osby Show," a sitcom about a NASCAR-loving family that eats pork and dances to Toby Keith. (Video)

A Muslim "Qu'osby Show?" Cosby Says Concept Might Work

The "Daily Show" comedian Aasif Mandvi took Katie Couric's offhand observation that stereotypes could be fought by a modern-day Cosby Show for Muslims, and decided to create "The Qu'osby Show," as Eric Deggans noted on his media blog for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.

On, Jenée Desmond-Harris wrote Monday that Cosby himself likes the idea.

"In response to The Root's response that the idea was oversimplified, that perhaps finding a cure for hatred toward Muslims was a little outside his area of expertise and that The Daily Show's spoof of the limitations of the idea was hilariously on point, Cosby picked up the phone and called us from backstage at a comedy show where he was about to perform," Desmond-Harris wrote.

". . . The bottom line: No, the show wouldn't be a perfect solution. But yes, it would be a good idea. Like The Cosby Show, it would have to start off by tiptoeing around people's prejudices by keeping things comfortable and familiar. No caricatures, no George Lopez-style, in-your-face, everything-is-about-our-differences jokes. . . .

"By leveraging the universal appeal of family, he says, the program would force people who have unfounded bitterness toward Islam to stop and ask themselves, 'Have I been a hater?' "

When the talk turned to President Obama, Cosby used the opportunity to strike back at Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, who wrote a book criticizing Cosby, and at broadcaster-activist Tavis Smiley, an Obama critic. "You have to accept in these United States, there's a whole lot of foolishness, and it depends on how the president plays or acts, and it depends on how long the president will try to be quote-unquote fair with some of the hooligans — Tavis Smiley being one of them," Cosby said.

Houston Chronicle Finds Black Papers a Treasure

"It's just a neighborhood coffee shop in Houston's Third Ward, but it harbors a sight many city dwellers never see. Inside, an array of newspapers — tabloids and broadsheets, scrappy or sedate, all bursting with color and most free — tumble off their racks in a riotous bid for the reader's eye," Allan Turner wrote Monday for the Houston Chronicle.

"For a news junkie, especially one accustomed to the one-city, one-paper reality of the mainstream press, it's like stumbling into a treasure cave glistening with jewels," Turner continued.

"Meet Houston's black press. With names like The Defender, The Sun and The Forward Times, these weeklies are both journalistic throwbacks — papers whose content directly reflects their owners' views — and cutting-edge, hyper-local publications targeting the concerns of the city's roughly half-million African-Americans.

". . . 'The papers that are doing fairly well,' said Howard University journalism professor Clint Wilson, 'are the ones that have adjusted and adapted best to the new environment. They've started online sites, and, even though they come out weekly, they can do updates online and so forth.'

"Many newspapers that exclusively rely on print, he said, have suffered. Nationally, a number have failed to maximize the potential of print by publishing compelling photos. A recent national study, he said, shows only 30 percent of African-Americans rely on newspapers for news, and that audience is aging.

"Some black newspapers, notably the Los Angeles Wave, have moved to increase readership by expanding coverage to burgeoning ethnic populations in their cities. Noting the growth of robust Asian and Hispanic newspapers, The Wave, Wilson said, has added Hispanic reporters to its staff."

"Eyes on the Prize," originally helped to production by public funding, is scheduled for rebroadcast in April.

U.S. Funding "Best Hope" for Diverse Public Broadcasting

Eric Easter, whose resume includes service as a board member of the National Black Programming Consortium, makes a compelling case for why people of color should be concerned about congressional threats to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

"The truth is that quietly (too quietly), public media could be black America's most promising frontier for distribution of serious, noncommercial content — the kind we say we want but never seem to get," Easter wrote Friday on

"For example, the National Black Programming Consortium (and its partner organizations serving the Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander and Asian communities) has provided critical funding for important and innovative documentary producers such as the groups behind Eyes on the Prize and Africans in America. Those organizations have also taken the lead in bringing digital literacy and training to underserved communities.

"These are the programs you know, but in fact, PBS is sitting on a treasure trove of content — program archives, full-length and mini documentaries, digital projects and series pilots — by and about the minority community, and much more is in the works. However, because of limited programming space, rights issues or lack of sponsorship, much of it has never seen the light of day.

". . . outside of government funding, public media's bread is buttered in large part by corporate sponsorships, foundation grants and 'donors just like you.' Except that the bulk of its private donors — and especially its major donors — are not like you at all.

"They are wealthy, white and rapidly aging. That's why, even as cable networks reach wide audiences doing more-entertaining versions of shows that PBS was known for in the 1970s, PBS continues to order up British period dramas targeted to people who will put the local public TV station in their wills.

"Absent a miraculous and large-scale infusion of minority donors, this dynamic is unlikely to change. Until then, government funding remains the only serious leverage we have in making sure PBS, NPR and CPB put a wider definition of 'public' in public media."

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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