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Libya Releases 4 N.Y. Times Journalists

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

"They Thought They Were Seconds From Death"

Unity Concept Stemmed from "Threat to Our Independence"

In U.S., Japan Catastrophe Boosts Support for Drilling

Cheryl Jackson Among 4 Laid Off at Chicago Sun-Times

Amanda Barrett Named NYC News Editor at the AP

Indy Star's Tech Columnist Starts Metro Column

Obama Grants Interview to CNN en Español

Relevance of Race Raised in Reporting Girl's Gang Rape

Juan Williams Calls for Defunding NPR

Jalen Rose Says His Comments Were Taken Out of Context

At the Turkish Embassy in Libya, from left: Stephen Farrell; Tyler Hicks; Levent

"They Thought They Were Seconds From Death"

"The Libyan government released four detained New York Times journalists Monday, six days after they were captured while covering the conflict between government and rebel forces in the eastern city of Ajdabiya. They were released into the custody of Turkish diplomats," the Times reported Monday from Tripoli, Libya.

Anthony Shadid

"They were released into the custody of Turkish diplomats and crossed safely into Tunisia in the late afternoon, from where they provided a harrowing account of their captivity," Jeremy W. Peters added for Tuesday's editions.

"The journalists are Anthony Shadid, The Times’s Beirut bureau chief, who has won two Pulitzer Prizes for international reporting; two photographers, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, who have extensive experience in war zones; and a reporter and videographer, Stephen Farrell, who in 2009 was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and was rescued by British commandos," Monday's story continued.

"A clearer account of the four journalists’ capture and detention has come to light now that they have been released," Peters wrote for Tuesday.

"The four had been covering fighting near Ajdabiya last Tuesday when they decided that the battle had grown too dangerous for them to continue safely. Their driver, however, inadvertently drove into a checkpoint manned by forces loyal to Colonel [Gaddafi]. By the time they knew they were in trouble, it was too late.

" 'I was yelling to the driver, "Keep driving! Don’t stop! Don’t stop!" ' Mr. Hicks recalled in a telephone interview from the hotel where he and the three others were recuperating. 'I knew that the consequences of being stopped would be very bad.'

"The driver, Mohamed Shaglouf, is still missing. If he had tried to drive straight through, Mr. Hicks said, the vehicle certainly would have been fired on. In any event, the soldiers flung the doors to their gold four-door sedan wide open so quickly that they had little chance to get away.

"As they were being pulled from the car, rebels fired on the checkpoint, sending the four running for their lives.

" 'You could see the bullets hitting the dirt,' Mr. Shadid said.

"All four made it safely behind a small, one-room building, where they tried to take cover. But the soldiers had other plans. They told all four to empty their pockets and ordered them on the ground. And that is when they thought they were seconds from death.

" 'I heard in Arabic, "Shoot them," ' Mr. Shadid said. 'And we all thought it was over.' . . . "

Meanwhile, "three journalists, including two working for Agence France-Presse, have gone missing while covering the fighting in Libya, the news agency said on Sunday," Reuters reported.

Four journalists working for Al-Jazeera, including a Norwegian and a Briton, are being held in Tripoli after being arrested in Libya's west, the Qatar-based satellite channel said late Saturday," Agence France-Presse reported.

"Al-Jazeera said Lotfi al-Messaoudi, a Tunisian, Ahmed Vall Ould Addin, a Mauritanian, Ammar al-Hamdan, a Norwegian cameraman, and British national Kamel Atalua were arrested while 'carrying out their duties' in western Libya."

Translating the spelling of the names differently, Al-Jazeera said Monday, "The relatives of Ahmad Val Ould Eddin staged a protest along with journalists outside the Libyan embassy in his native Mauritania, while fellow correspondent Lotfi Al Maoudi’s family gathered in the Tunisian town of Kairouan."

In a note to the New York Times staff, Executive Editor Bill Keller said, "We're particularly indebted to the Government of Turkey, which intervened on our behalf to oversee the release of our journalists and bring them to Tunisia.  We were also assisted throughout the week by diplomats from the United States and United Kingdom."

On Sunday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted Buddy Shadid, the father of Anthony Shadid, as saying the four were to be released soon and planned to drive to the Egyptian border and fly out of Egypt.

In a story credited to the Associated Press, the Times and to the Journal Sentinel, Buddy Shadid said Libya was "wanting to keep it quiet yesterday because of the delicate negotiations. Apparently the United Nations and Turkey and some other nations all put pressure on the Libyan government to release them."

"Buddy Shadid said he had spoken to his daughter-in-law, Nada Bakri, who said the four journalists were treated well and had plenty of food and water.

"Buddy Shadid said the ordeal had left family members emotionally drained."

Anthony Shadid is a 1990 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Meanwhile, Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" reported, "on Saturday morning, Muhammad Nabbous, a Libyan citizen journalist in Benghazi, was shot and killed. Nabbous established Libya AlHurra TV to broadcast online live feeds and commentary from the popular uprising that began last month. Described as the face of citizen journalism in Libya, Nabbous was killed while reporting on attacks by pro-Gaddafi forces."

Unity Concept Stemmed from "Threat to Our Independence"

David Lawrence Jr., left, and DeWayne WickhamThe conventional history of the Unity alliance, as outlined in "Building Unity" [PDF], a booklet prepared for the 2008 Unity convention, has this starting point:

"1986. UNITY’s unofficial beginnings starts with the meeting of Juan González, an active member of the NAHJ, and Will Sutton Jr., an active member of NABJ, as they started comparing notes about their experiences as journalists of color. From there they contacted AAJA President Mei-Mei Chan, to join in the project." The acronyms are for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association.

It goes on to note a second milestone: "1988. First joint meeting of boards of the NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA takes place in Baltimore, MD." The final acronym is the Native American Journalists Association.

But DeWayne Wickham, the USA Today columnist who was NABJ president in 1988, says the 1988 decision to hold the first joint convention of the four groups had a different genesis: It was an attempt to counteract an attempt by the newspaper industry to bring the groups together on its terms.

The Unity alliance is a hot topic in journalism circles because NABJ, the largest of the four associations, is asserting that Unity has grown beyond its original mission and shortchanged NABJ. NABJ has submitted several proposals to reorder the way the proceeds are divided, but it was outvoted at a meeting two weekends ago, with none of the other partners supporting NABJ.

NABJ is holding an electronic "town hall" meeting for members only from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. Scheduled to participate are NABJ President Kathy Times, Treasurer Gregory Lee and Executive Director Maurice Foster. NABJ members may register here.

Here is Wickham's account of how the first Unity convention held in 1994, originated. The convention preceded the formation of the Unity: Journalist of Color Inc. organization:

"I convened the joint board meeting of the four national minority journalism groups in Baltimore for a specific purpose. It didn't happen by chance, and wasn't as some seem to think, the offspring of the joint meeting of the local chapters of NABJ and NAHJ in Philadelphia two years earlier. To suggest that is to miss the really important historical significance of the Baltimore meeting.

"As NABJ president, I invited NAHJ, NAJA, AAJA to bring their boards to my hometown to discuss how we might address a serious threat to our independence. At the time, I believed it was a necessary response to the efforts of David Lawrence and other industry leaders to push us into a joint relationship of their design.

"The Baltimore meeting was the outgrowth of a meeting I had with Lawrence, the Detroit Free Press editor/publisher, who at the time headed a major industry group that was trying to address the issue of minority employment in the media. This one-on-one meeting took place in a small conference room in Gannett's old headquarters in Rosslyn, Va., shortly after I was elected NABJ president in 1987. It was a brief, and very tense conversation. He was upset with me because I'd refused to attend a meeting he was holding (and from which he had broken away to meet with me) with leaders of the other minority journalism groups at the American Press Institute.

"Carl Morris (the then NABJ executive director) told me the agenda of that meeting included a discussion of a proposal to jointly locate the national offices of the four groups at one site; and called for us to make a combined appeal for funding support from media organizations.

"I decided not to go.

"I didn't want others to be allowed to take the lead in defining what NABJ's relationship would be with NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA. So instead of attending David's meeting I invited those groups to meet with NABJ in Baltimore to define for ourselves what our relationship would be. That, in short, is what moved me to convene the joint board meeting in the spring of 1988. Out of that meeting came an agreement to co-locate our conventions at the same site every four years — and the decision to hold the first joint convention in Atlanta in 1994."

David Lawrence Jr. retired in 1999 as publisher of the Miami Herald to work in the area of early childhood development and readiness. He is president of the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, based in South Florida, and is university scholar for early childhood development and readiness at the University of Florida. He was a leading industry figure as an editor and publisher at Knight Ridder newspapers, and in the 1980s, chaired the Task Force on Minorities in the Newspaper Business.

He told Journal-isms on Sunday that he recalled chairing that group for two terms, but added, "I simply do not recall what you are being told. Could have happened, but just do not remember."

Others still credit the 1986 sessions as Unity's beginning. "My recollection is that the seeds of Unity started at the Philadelphia meeting," Evelyn Hernandez, NAHJ president from 1988 to 1990, told Journal-isms.

[Sutton said by e-mail on Tuesday, "There is indeed a connection. Juan and I worked to convene the two national boards of NAHJ and NABJ in Philadelphia, and that led to the joint board meeting in Baltimore. I worked with Wickham as the NABJ president to coordinate that joint board meeting in Baltimore. I was there in Philadelphia, and I was there in Baltimore. While it is true that the idea of a joint national convention was discussed in Baltimore, the origins of what is now UNITY: Journalists of Color started in Philadelphia in 1986."]

Sidmel Estes, who was present at the 1988 meeting, later became NABJ president and helped to produce the first Unity convention in her town of Atlanta. She said to Journal-isms of the 1986 and 1988 meetings, "I think some seeds of Unity were planted with Will and Juan. But it didn't really take shape until the joint board meeting in Baltimore. I think they were both essential to the creation of Unity."

However, she added, "I have always maintained that I distinctly remember that when we created Unity, it was supposed to be only a coordinating unit, not a fifth organization. And we were going to try one convention and see how it went and then consider a follow up convention. And that's it. Unity was never supposed to live forever."

In a message issued on March 2, the Unity organization said, "It is not productive to disavow what UNITY has become. That denies the natural growth and development of organizations, as well as people. Since the inception of UNITY, the way we do business as an industry has changed dramatically and so has the need for a viable organization that is a voice for all journalists of color and all communities of color."

[Sutton said, "Correct that UNITY was never to be a fifth organization, but a coalition. Why people keep calling it a fifth wheel or anything like that, I don't know. It never was meant to be, it isn't and it shouldn't be." More in the "comments" section.]

Southern California is home to the largest concentration of Japanese Americans and a hub for Japanese businesses with international ambitions, according to Southern California Public Radio. "This week, the eyes of Japanese Americans and expatriates have been fixed across the Pacific. Tony Tuskui is one of tens of thousands trying to seek comfort any way he can." (Video) (Credit: 89.3 KPCC)

In U.S., Japan Catastrophe Boosts Support for Drilling

"Not surprisingly, public support for the increased use of nuclear power has declined amid the ongoing nuclear emergency in Japan," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported on Monday.

"Currently, 39% say they favor promoting the increased use of nuclear power while 52% are opposed. Last October, 47% favored promoting the increased use of nuclear power and the same percentage (47%) was opposed.

"Opinion about expanding the use of nuclear power has fluctuated in recent years. However, the current measure matches a previous low in support for increased nuclear power recorded in September 2005 (39% favor, 53% oppose)."

". . . Currently, 57% say they favor allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters while 37% are opposed. Last June amid the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there was more opposition (52%) than support (44%) for allowing more offshore drilling."

Cheryl Jackson Among 4 Laid Off at Chicago Sun-Times

Cheryl V. Jackson, a general assignment reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times, was among at least four full-time staffers whose positions were cut in another round of layoffs, according to a news report from a former Sun-Times columnist.

Jackson, who has been a business reporter and film critic at the paper, is a member of NABJ-Chicago, the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Others laid off included columnist Lewis Lazare, an 11-year veteran of the Sun-Times; features reporter Misha Davenport, who doubled as co-chair of the Sun-Times bargaining unit of the Chicago Newspaper Guild; and Steve Tucker, assistant sports editor and prep sports writer, according to veteran columnist Bob Feder, writing Friday on his blog.

Jackson could not be reached, but staffers confirmed Monday that she no longer works at the paper. Among her recent stories was a report on a forum during the Chicago mayoral campaign in which Carol Moseley Braun called an opponent a former crack addict. Braun lost the election to Rahm Emanuel.

She wrote last year of Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married Too," "There's something oddly comforting about the familiarity of a Perry flick, even with his frequent stereotypes of black women as either emotionally distant and career-focused or meek and abused or loud and emasculating. . . . The movie could have been shortened by about 15 minutes."

Amanda Barrett Named NYC News Editor at the AP

"Amanda Barrett, an editor with wide Amanda Barrettexperience leading and coordinating coverage across formats while working at The Associated Press and newspapers, has been named New York City news editor," the AP announced on Monday.

"Barrett has served as acting East Editor since February," helping to lead AP's regional desk in Philadelphia, editing content from 10 states. She "joined the AP in 2007 as the content coordinator for Multimedia, which combined with Graphics in January 2008. She helped manage a team of artists, interactive designers, researchers and coordinators," the story said.

"Before coming to AP, Barrett served as the editor of, the website for amNewYork, Newsday's free daily paper in New York City. Barrett was previously editor of"

Indy Star's Tech Columnist Starts Metro Column

Erika D. Smith, a reporter and tech columnist for the Indianapolis Star since 2005, debuted Sunday as the Star's new metro columnist.

Erika D. SmithIn her opening column, "How can we make Indy the best it can be?" Smith noted, "There are deep divisions here — among whites, blacks and Hispanics; among the rich, middle class and poor; between native Hoosiers and transplants from other states; between young and old; between immigrants and those who were born in America; and between straight and gay people.

"We have serious problems in our neighborhoods. Crumbling infrastructure, crime and poverty, all of which make a disastrous environment in trying to create good schools.

"And no matter how diverse we've become in numbers, we're still a very segregated city that can be, at times, close-minded and judgmental."

". . . As a columnist, my goal will be to pose questions, not impose answers. I will tell the story of our community through the stories of the people who live here."

Obama Grants Interview to CNN en Español

President Obama talks with CNN en Español’s Juan Carlos Lopez from El Salvador during his Latin America trip "in his only interview with a pan regional Spanish language network during this tour," the network announced Monday. The interview airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

"In his second sit-down with Lopez since becoming President, Obama will talk about his visits to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador just days after the start of joint military strikes against Libya. They will discuss his purpose of forging new alliances across the Americas; immigration reform; and the controversy surrounding State Rep. Virgil Peck following the Kansas lawmaker's comments about illegal immigrants; among many other important topics."

Mallary Jean Tenore asks, "Why wasn’t race mentioned in the initial reports, and at what point did it become relevant?" (Credit: CNN)

Relevance of Race Raised in Reporting Girl's Gang Rape

"When initial reports about a gang rape in Cleveland, Texas, became public earlier this month, there was hardly any mention of the victim’s or suspects’ race — mainly because reporters covering the story didn’t think it was relevant. Throughout the last two weeks, however, race has become an increasingly important part of the coverage," Mallary Jean Tenore wrote Monday for the Poynter Institute.

"Most news organizations have now reported that the 11-year-old victim is Hispanic, many of the 18 suspects charged are black, and racial tensions are stirring as a result of the rape.

"The inclusion of race has, in some ways, raised more questions than it’s answered. Why wasn’t race mentioned in the initial reports, and at what point did it become relevant? Is there a history of racial tension between blacks and Hispanics in Cleveland, or does the tension have more to do with people believing the suspects were wrongly targeted because they’re black? Was race a motive in the crime?

". . . To figure out whether race is relevant," the Poynter Institute's Kelly McBride "suggested that journalists ask themselves some tough questions:

  • "What’s the relevance of race? How do I know that?

  • "Am I making that assertion myself, or do I have authoritative sources to make that assertion?

  • "If race is relevant simply because 'the community' or 'commenters' were talking about it, is it a few people, or is the conversation widespread?

  • "If I’m going to introduce race as an element in a rape story, how can I make sure the views of the primary stakeholders are accurate and accurately represented?"

There were also discussions of race, some touching on coverage issues:

Juan Williams Calls for Defunding NPR

"Even after they fired me, called me a bigot and publicly advised me to only share my thoughts with a psychiatrist, I did not call for defunding NPR. I am a journalist, and NPR is an important platform for journalism," Fox News commentator Juan Williams wrote Monday for the Capitol Hill newspaper the Hill.

"But last week my line of defense for NPR ran into harsh political realities. Rep. Steve Israel (D- N.Y.) chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a fundraising letter with the following argument for maintaining public funding of NPR:

" 'They [Republicans] know NPR plays a vital role in providing quality news programming — from rural radio stations to in-depth coverage of foreign affairs. If the Republicans had their way, we’d only be left with the likes of Glenn Beck, Limbaugh and Sarah Palin to dominate the airwaves.'

"With that statement, Congressman Israel made the case better than any Republican critic that NPR is radio by and for liberal Democrats. . . ."

The crossfire between Grant Hill, left, and Jalen Rose reflects the uncomfortable discussion involving race, columnist George Diaz said. (Credit: Orlando Sentinel)

Jalen Rose Says His Comments Were Taken Out of Context

"ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose formally responded to Grant Hill on The Wall Street Journal‘s Daily Fix blog, dragging out a conversation that’s been going on for way too long now about Uncle Toms," Marcus Vanderberg wrote Sunday for Sportsnewser.

" 'Addressing the elephant in the room, comments from the documentary [ESPN's "Fab Five"] regarding Duke University were completely taken out of context. I respect the success of Duke’s program and stated this was my opinion as a teenager growing up in the inner city of Detroit. I also acknowledged that Grant Hill had something I wanted growing up — a successful family. It’s a bit disappointing some people insinuated I think black people from successful families are Uncle Toms.

"What made the documentary must-see TV is the fact we showed brutal honesty and addressed every topic head on and without reservation. At the end of the day, some people will have their own opinions about the Fab Five and who we are as people. I am proud of what we achieved together from 1991-1993 and even more proud of the men we have become and how we all work in the community. . . ."

Vanderberg ended with a plea to the athletes to "Let it go, guys," but whether the columnists can give up such material is another matter:

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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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Debate on Authenticity

So which one is the authentic black man? The one with the black skin. Measuring degrees of "blackness" is a practice we didn't create.

The PC Time for Coloreds & Negro Speak

Apparently according to many Black journalists the only time Black folks should have discourse about topics like Uncle Tom and related Blackness issues is during Black History Month and on MLK Day..


Relevance of Race

I think race is relevant to the story about Cleveland, TX because most Texans already knew the allegations were "non-white".

If it's printed in the New York Times, I think the paper's readership may have had an idea.  I certainly did.  So, why not just put it out there?  Or, not give it space.

I wonder, if Pew ran a survey on piece perception, what the results would be.

Further thoughts from Will Sutton on Unity

Further thoughts from Will Sutton on Unity

By the way, I was never interested in seeing a UNITY coalition for any glory. It never was about me. It was always about the putting aside our differences, focusing on our commonalities and finding ways to work together so we could be more powerful as a coalition of journalists of color. Call me a UNITY founder. Call me a UNITY father. Call me a UNITY granddaddy. Call me a UNITY stepchild. I really don't care about individual credit and glory. The issue for me was, and is, that there is far more we can do together than we can do separately, just not at the expense of dissolving any of our coalition associations or having a merger. Any time anyone has ever suggested a merger, I've been clear: I'm opposed. I'd rather see UNITY dissolve or take another form than to see a merger of our four wonderful associations.

UNITY wasn't modeled after the United Nations, a coalition of 51 nations across the world. But it sure has some similarities in that that coalition was never meant to be its own separate nation. The UN preamble and charter is clear about what it is and what it isn't. It is clear that the coalition members will not always agree. There's room for disagreement, and it's expected. The UN is "committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights." I see no reason why UNITY: Journalists of Color cannot exist and thrive with room for disagreement, a fcous on common goals, friendly relations and promoting accurate, balanced and fair coverage of people of color.

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