Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Lynching Vote on Trial

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Black Columnists Rip Senators Who Opted Out

The Senate's apology for its inaction on lynchings and the trial in Mississippi in the 1964 deaths of three civil rights workers provided red meat for African American columnists, with the senators who did not sign onto the apology receiving special excoriation.

Sam Fulwood III, writing in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, dubbed those conservative Republicans who did not initially sign on as "the Foolish Fourteen." Others bore in on senators in their own states. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Thad Cochran, R.-Miss., were singled out.

"What reasonable person thinks any of the senators who didn't sign the lynching apology bill actually endorses that morbid practice?" asked Terry M. Neal on

"The better question is, by declining to sign on to the resolution, did they practice symbolic politics, just as those who signed it also practiced symbolic politics?"

In the Baltimore Sun, Gregory Kane reminded readers of Walter White, the secretary of the NAACP who in 1929 wrote a book about lynching, "Rope and Faggot: A Biography of Judge Lynch."

"In the latter chapters of the book, White informed his readers that the U.S. government paid damages of more than $24,000 to the government of Italy after the 1891 lynching of 11 Italians in New Orleans," wrote Kane, who calls himself a black conservative. "After noting that 'mobs had lynched Italians, Chinese, Japanese, Bohemians, Mexicans and citizens of Great Britain and Switzerland' between 1887 and 1901, White wrote that our government had to fork over close to half a million bucks to China, Italy, Great Britain and Mexico as an indemnity. The Italian government got another $5,000 after an Italian citizen was lynched in 1903.

"So just where does today's Senate get off with this no compensation stuff?"

In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Eugene Kane noted that, "Milwaukee's own James Cameron, founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum, was recognized by the U.S. Senate this week as the nation's oldest living lynching 'victim.'" Some members of the National Association of Black Journalists visited the museum during the association's 2002 convention. The museum has fallen on hard times, Kane wrote.

Descendant of Ida B. Wells Criticizes Senators Who Didn't Sign Lynching Apology (News release)

Trotter Group members' commentary

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CNN Announces Maria Hinojosa's Exit

"Maria Hinojosa, our urban affairs correspondent, has chosen to leave CNN to pursue other ventures," an internal CNN e-mail announced to staff members on Thursday.

"From the time she joined the network in May 1997, Maria has provided numerous reports exploring such volatile issues as immigration, border protection and inner-city violence. We thank Maria for her memorable contributions and wish her the best in all of her endeavors."

Hinojosa sent this note to colleagues, according to Pareja Media Match: "CNN made me an offer, but I decided that I was ready for substantial change in my life . . . So stay tuned for more information about where I will be seeing you soon on the frontlines of reporting."

So signaled the departure of likely the most visible Hispanic journalist on CNN's U.S. network.

Hinojosa interviewed Los Angeles Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa at last week's convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in Fort Worth, Texas, according to Alex Avila, senior producer of the "Latino USA" public radio show, then left the country on vacation. "She was the ONLY journalist at the NAHJ to get a one-on-one interview with him, after he participated in the opening plenary of the conference," Avila told Journal-isms.

The interview airs on the next edition of "Latino USA," a show broadcast on 180 stations that Hinojosa has hosted for 12 years.

According to her bio, "Hinojosa has covered numerous stories and events for the network, including the Amadou Diallo case verdict and CNN's Sept. 11 coverage, which earned her two Emmy nominations. She also covers the Monterrey Jazz Festival each year for CNN. Recently, she was the first Latina woman to produce a documentary for CNN Presents, a program titled 'Immigrant Nation: Divided Country.'

Before joining CNN, she spent six years at National Public Radio as a New York City-based general assignment correspondent.

Avila said he was "looking for ways to build the show around her" now that Hinojosa is free of her CNN duties. A late-breaking CNN assignment sometimes would interfere with Hinojosa's work with "Latino USA," he said.

Hinojosa's literary agent, Susan Bergholz, told Journal-isms that she, too, was looking forward to more time with Hinojosa. "She has a lot of ideas," Bergholz said. "She's been working too hard. She has a lot of good books in her and I hope she finds the time to do everything she wants to do."

Hinojosa is author of "Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son," and a book that grew from an award-winning story about gang members, "Crews: Gang Members Talk with Maria Hinojosa," her bio said.

The vacationing Hinojosa could not be reached for comment.

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NAHJ Lesson: "Straight Men Can Learn From Gays"

After attending a mixer for gay and lesbian journalists at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention last week, Cindy Rodriguez of the Denver Post wrote that, "There's a lot straight men can learn from gay men.

"It's not just 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' lessons on fashion and cooking. Many gay men can connect with women on a deeper emotional level than most straight men," Rodriguez said in a column called "A Place Between Mars, Venus."

"They're not concerned with appearing resilient or independent. They tend to be more open than most straight men, even if it means revealing vulnerabilities. That makes them more human to us."

Others wrote about NAHJ's "Network Brownout" report on the lack of Latinos on network news programs, and about immigration.

The South Asian Journalists Association convention, which also took place last week, inspired a column from Esther Wu of the Dallas Morning News, who is also national president of the Asian American Journalists Association. Wu wrote about Vanita Gupta, a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund who helped acquit 46 wrongly accused African Americans in Tulia, Texas.

A movie might be made about the case. Gupta "said that she hoped a woman of color would play [her] role and that the movie would convey a message that race is much more than a black and white issue," Wu wrote.

"I actually feel that our issues are all connected – Asian-American issues are deeply connected and tied to African-American issues in that way. And the work that LDF has done and continues to do . . . actually touches not only all communities of color, but all of American society," Gupta was quoted as saying.

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3 Sports Editors Say They Were Ill-Treated

An incident in the lobby lounge at the Associated Press Sports Editors convention at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Orlando, Fla., "left three Sports Journalism Institute instructors questioning the integrity of the establishment. One, in an e-mail to E&P today, called it an 'appalling' incident," Lesley Messer reported Thursday in Editor & Publisher.

In an encounter first reported in the student-written APSE Bulletin, "Late Monday night, 30 minutes after Greg Lee, Graham Watson and Anthony Witrado were told that it was the bar's last call, Witrado, 23, noticed the staff still serving a group of six or seven middle-aged white men.

". . . The instructors, who are a black male, a black female and a Hispanic male, said their waitress told them that the later group was being served at the discretion of the bar manager. After Lee made his request for equal treatment, the waitress, who was white, did not come back to their table. Instead, a black waitress took their check, he said.

"'I don't know if she was consciously being the way she was perceived,' said Watson, 25, a reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said, in the newspaper. 'At the same time, because it was perceived that way, I do believe she owes us an apology or someone owes the three of us an apology, because it was out of the realm of what should be normal treatment.'"

"Hotel general manager John McGavin spoke later to the involved employees and concluded that the incident was simply a miscommunication between his staff and guests."

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Sheila Johnson Agrees Her BET Money Is Tainted

Sheila C. Johnson, who reaped a fortune when the network she co-founded, Black Entertainment Television, was sold to Viacom, was on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" Thursday on Washington's WAMU-FM discussing uplifting things she is doing with her money when a caller asked about her "self-congratulatory tone."

"It seems to me that a lot of the children you're trying to help are beat down and held down by the misogyny and murder promoted in the music that you made famous," the caller, "Brian in Arlington," said.

Surprisingly, Johnson, now divorced from the other BET co-founder, CEO Robert L. Johnson, did not challenge the statement. '"You know, you're abolutely right; I couldn't agree with you more," she replied. "But unfortunately, you didn't see the fight within the company. I fought the whole time." Johnson said her pet show, "Teen Summit," which she said dealt with such issues as pregnancy prevention, peer pressure, sexually transmitted diseases and drugs, "was my way of fighting back," and that she raised $1.9 million from the Kaiser Foundation to keep it going when BET was about to cancel it. "That was my way of fighting back, and it's probably why I'm still not at BET, but I did go up against a lot of heads," she said.

Her philanthropy "is the only way I can continue the fight," she said. Among Johnson's positions are president and managing partner of the Washington Mystics women's NBA team, where she said she refused to allow dancing girls to be part of half-time events, and board member of the Parsons School of Design in New York, where she tries to influence "the way young people are dressing."

She also said she has urged classes in "smart television watching. It's not just BET, it's the culture. In order to get the Nielsen ratings, you have to see the t-and-a and sex all the time. It's just something that I can't understand." But Johnson said of her philanthropy, "I set the bar. If it's going to degrade women, if it's going to engage in negative behavior, I will have not a part of it."

Johnson plans to marry again, to William T. Newman, chief judge of the Arlington County (Va.) Circuit Court, according to Virginia Business magazine.

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Some Doubt Report of Min's $1.2 Million Contract

"So it's happily ever after for Janice Min and Us Weekly? It would certainly appear that way," Jeff Bercovici wrote today in Women's Wear Daily. "Speaking to WWD Thursday, Wenner Media vice chairman Kent Brownridge confirmed a report in the New York Post that Min has agreed to a new contract. (He declined to discuss the details of the deal, which the Post said was a two-year package worth $1.2 million per year, plus bonuses.) Brownridge added that Min accepted the terms last week.

"But some well-placed observers, noting that Min herself has studiously avoided confirming anything, wonder whether the whole thing might be a stratagem aimed at pressuring her into signing at once rather than haggling over the fine print. 'It's a ploy,' claimed a source with extensive knowledge of Wenner's inner workings."

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Florida Seminoles Want Name Used by College Team

The Native American Journalists Association might be on record against the use of "Native American and other culturally offensive nicknames, logos and mascots related to professional, college, high school and amateur sports teams," but leaders of the Seminole Tribe of Florida have reaffirmed their support of Florida State University's using the tribe's name.

Max Osceola, a member of the tribal council, said the group is not offended by FSU sports teams being called the Seminoles, by the Indian face on team emblems or by the war chant and other game rituals.

"We think it's a reflection of the spirit of the Seminoles," said Osceola, a member of the tribal council, according to Bill Cotterell, political editor of the Tallahassee Democrat. Osceola's "famous ancestor is depicted at the start of football games by a war-painted student on horseback planting a flaming spear on the field," Cotterell's story said.

"'As for fans doing the "tomahawk chop," Osceola said: 'To me, it's the universal signal for "first down,"'" Cotterell wrote last Saturday.

In a story in USA Today Thursday, David Narcomey, a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma General Council, termed the Florida tribe's stance "unfortunate."

"As far as the complexity of the mascot issue and the harm it brings, they don't seem to have an understanding that should be there," he said in the story by Steve Wieberg. "Their understanding is just that of the average non-Indian person."

The Tallahassee Democrat editorialized Thursday that, "if any of the self-actualized critics believe in self-determination for others, it's inconsistent to argue that the Seminole Tribe of Florida doesn't get to have the last word on how FSU uses - and if FSU uses - Seminole images."

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Mich. Man Tours Country Taping Black Achievement

"For Tru Bass, it was the brain tumor that changed everything," Beth E. Fand wrote Wednesday in the Trenton (N.J.) Times.

"He discovered he had it 10 years ago, and after two surgeries and a grand mal seizure, he decided it was time to do something new with his life.

". . . He always had believed the media wasn't giving a fair shake to black people, including himself, and he decided to dedicate himself to improving their image.

"It was the beginning of an effort that led to the Minute Tour, a 90-city trek across the United States during which Bass is interviewing hundreds of black citizens about their achievements and their thoughts on the state of race relations in America. He's videotaping the interviews, turning them into 60-second and one-hour pieces and selling them to public and commercial TV and radio stations, and also to schools."

He and a producer arrived in the tour's 37th city on June 8, Fand wrote.

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Man Accused of Cyberstalking Raleigh Anchors

When news anchor Pam Saulsby at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C., received off-color, threatening e-mail messages, she notified the State Bureau of Investigation, Mandy Locke wrote today in the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer.

"SBI agents said four anchors and a meteorologist at the station received inflammatory messages, sent from a public computer terminal at a Benson library.

"On Wednesday, the SBI arrested and charged Fern Georges, 33, with cyberstalking and ethnic intimidation, both misdemeanors.

?'The e-mails were sexual in nature, raunchy, particularly to my female colleagues,' said anchor Gerald Owens. 'To me, they were physically threatening.'

The messages directed to Owens and Saulsby, both African Americans, were racially charged. Georges likewise is African American.

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Short Takes

  • "Bishop T.D. Jakes, one of America's most influential religious leaders, will be a featured speaker at the National Association of Black Journalists' 30th Anniversary Convention and Career Fair in Atlanta, NABJ President Herbert Lowe announced," the association said yesterday.
  • Sylvester Brown of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday became the latest African American columnist to arrange for Bill Cosby to visit his city. "The 'Nightline' crew filmed our introduction as we shook hands," Brown wrote in his column. "I was hoping to interview Cosby before the show, but he flipped the script by asking questions about me instead. He was intrigued with my 'lower-economic' upbringing, schooling and career."
  • "One of Channel 4's more prominent faces, anchor/reporter Vivian King, is leaving the NBC station next month to become director of public affairs for Roundy's Inc., the Milwaukee-based grocery chain," Tim Cuprisin reported Thursday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In April, King became president of the Wisconsin Black Media Association, and in 2002 she was local co-chair of the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Milwaukee. She told Journal-isms that she agonized over the decision to take the job after 18 years in journalism, but that she decided to "take a chance" that perhaps she could "widen my sphere of influence."
  • "Boston Globe deputy foreign editor Richard Chacón will become the Globe?s new ombudsman effective June 27 when he returns to the newspaper after a nine-month Nieman Fellowship in Journalism at Harvard University," the paper announced yesterday. Commenting in the Boston Phoenix, Dan Kennedy wrote, "Structurally, though, this appointment is problematic, because Chacón is part of the Globe family, and - from what I hear - wants to stay after his ombudsman stint is over." Chacon, 40, is a native of El Paso, Texas.
  • Blogger Alan Mutter, CEO of a new-media company in Silicon Valley, wrote today that he is rooting for the black-owned Florida Star to prevail against the New York Times Co.'s planned black-oriented Gainesville Guardian. "If independent ethnic publications are silenced or, alternatively, rolled into mega-corporations where they face future homogenization, we all lose, for the public discourse will be less vibrant and less rich than it ought to be," he said.
  • An Internet-circulated account of actor Denzel Washington instantly funding construction of a new unit at the Brooks Army Medical Center in Texas is partially true, the actor's representative, Veronica Pinto of the Rogers and Cowan agency, told Journal-isms yesterday. But it's not a likely case of the news media covering up the story for political reasons, as some are charging. Pinto said she had not even heard of the development, which she said she learned took place "a few months ago." A response by the Fulton House on the Pinellas County Republican Party Web site is accurate, she said. The Dallas Morning News placed the visit in December.
  • Investigative journalist Nancy Roc, "a respected opinion-maker and foe of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide left Haiti for Miami amid threats to her safety," Jacqueline Charles reported Thursday in the Miami Herald.
  • "The Radio-Television News Directors Association has told the Federal Communications Commission that the use of prepackaged news stories or unidentified audio and video from government agencies or corporate entities is not the widespread practice recent reports suggest and that, almost universally, local station policies prohibit the use of complete prepackaged news stories from non-editorial sources," RTNDA reported today. It said its statement was based on approximately 100 responses to an informal survey of its members.
  • Representatives from 55 countries wrapped up a two-day conference on bigotry in Cordoba, Spain, after being warned of an ''alarming increase'' in anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and other hate crimes, and a ''disturbing lack of response'' to crimes motivated by sexual orientation, gender, and disability," according to William Fisher, writing for the Inter-Press Service.

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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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