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Magic Johnson, Ebony Talks Off

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Unable to Reach a Definitive Agreement"

Tony Cox Show Hurting; Dyson Plans Return

Woods Has Long Love-Hate Relationship With Press

Handful of Journalists of Color at Vancouver Olympics

Miami Herald Is Right to Tilt Pro-Gay, Ombudsman Says

N.Y. Times, NYU Plan Web Site For East Village

Short Takes

"Unable to Reach a Definitive Agreement"

Earvin "Magic" Johnson confirmed Monday that an affiliate of his Magic Johnson Enterprises and Johnson Publishing Co. "were in advanced discussions to do business together," but said that "unfortunately we were unable to reach a definitive agreement."

Citing a statement from Eric Holoman, president of  the former athlete's Los Angeles-based company, Brett Pulley of Bloomberg News reported Feb. 13 that, "Retired NBA star Earvin Magic Johnson is in talks to purchase Johnson Publishing Co., owner of Ebony and Jet, magazines that have documented African-American life for more than half a century."

In a carefully worded response, Johnson Publishing Co. issued a statement then saying that Linda Johnson Rice, chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing, "has never talked to Magic Johnson with respect to his interest in buying' the company.

Magic Johnson's complete Monday statement, released over PR Newswire, said:

"I would like to salute Linda Johnson Rice and the Johnson family for pioneering the iconic brand of the Johnson Publishing Company, which we have all come to love and respect. Ebony and Jet have been permanent fixtures on coffee tables in African-American homes for many years. Recently, an affiliate of Magic Johnson Enterprises and Johnson Publishing Company were in advanced discussions to do business together, but unfortunately we were unable to reach a definitive agreement. We will continue to look for opportunities to invest in African-American media."

Wendy E. Parks, Johnson Publishing Co. spokeswoman, issued this statement to Journal-isms:

"Our team of advisers have continued to explore a wide range of options to leverage our iconic Ebony and Jet brands and sustain our leadership position in the marketplace as the No. 1 African-American-owned publishing company in the world. As a privately held company, we are unable to discuss specifics of our discussions with potential partners."

Holoman and the Magic Johnson Enterprises spokeswoman, Tammy Warren, have steadfastly refused to respond to inquiries since the Bloomberg story broke.

Tony Cox Show Hurting; Dyson Plans Return

"Not Dead Yet, but . . . We're in Trouble"

Veteran journalist Tony Cox says the African American-oriented daily talk show he hosts on about 15 public radio stations is in financial trouble and might not last much longer. But social critic Michael Eric Dyson, whom Cox replaced on many of those stations, is set to return with his own show in March.

"We're victims of the economy," Cox told Journal-isms. "Public radio is sTony Cox, left, succeeded Michael Eric Dysonuffering across the board, and black public radio is even worse.

"We knew it was a gamble and a risk even from the beginning. We were anticipating that the quality of the show would generate that support, and it hasn't happened.

"We're not dead yet, but there is no point in looking at it any other way: We're in trouble."

"UpFront With Tony Cox" began Oct. 1 as an offering of the African American Public Radio Consortium, which in 2002 created National Public Radio's "The Tavis Smiley Show" and in 2005 the "News & Notes" program first with Ed Gordon, then Farai Chideya hosting. Cox worked on all three of those shows, and hosted the latter in its final days. The consortium continues to produce "Tell Me More" with Michel Martin on NPR, which is carried by 77 stations.

The consortium's members are primarily stations at historically black colleges and universities. They launched "The Michael Eric Dyson Show" in April — with Oprah Winfrey by telephone as his first guest — but that program lasted only four months when the Georgetown University professor took a break and never returned. Cox filled in amid the bad feelings some harbored toward Dyson's departure.

"The Michael Eric Dyson show is no longer," Loretta Rucker, executive director of the consortium, told Journal-isms in September. "We had a good four months with Dr. Dyson but the arrangement eventually devolved over compensation."

But Dyson's producer, LaFontaine F. Oliver, general manager of WEAA-FM, the Morgan University station in Baltimore, meanwhile secured a $505,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to continue production of the program.

Bruce Theriault, senior vice president for radio at the CPB, told stations last week that the new Dyson show would be ready by the end of March.

The previous Dyson show was a low-budget affair in which Dyson indulged his passions, sometimes devoting the entire hour to a single guest. The show ran on 18 stations.

"WEAA, an AAPRC member that played a key role in recruiting Dyson to public radio, is now planning a different show for Dyson, one that involves more recorded segments than the earlier live format," Karen Everhart wrote in October for Current, which covers public broadcasting. "The new production arrangement also opens the door for broader carriage of a Dyson show on mainstream public radio outlets, Theriault said."

The broader financial base and the grant from CPB could make the difference in its success, stations that have carried one or both of the men told Journal-isms.

"Tony Cox is a great journalist," Ron Jones, program director of WDET-FM at Wayne State University in Detroit, Dyson's hometown, told Journal-isms. But he said he did not think "UpFront" was even made available to his station, which is not a member of the African American consortium. "We're very interested in the show," Jones said of Dyson's new offering. "I've been a fan of Michael Eric Dyson and met with him with a group of black public radio broadcasters last fall to talk about the show."

Charles Hudson, program manager at KTSU at Texas Southern University in Houston, said, "We'll probably run both" shows, not having heard of "UpFront's" financial problems. "My main thing is diversity of perspective," he said, saying, "We want as many different viewpoints as we can get."

Still, in some quarters, bad feelings over the previous Dyson experience remain. "No we do not plan to run that show," Aaron Cohen, program director at WCLK-FM, at Clark Atlanta University, told Journal-isms via e-mail. "We had that show early on and they had some problems. We are finished. . . . We love Tony Cox!!!"

Mike Luckovich/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Woods Has Long Love-Hate Relationship With Press

"Last Friday morning’s news conference wasn’t the revelation some critics have suggested" — just another chapter in Tiger Woods’s love-hate relationship with the press," David Carr wrote Sunday for the New York Times.

"Even as he offered up an abject, if very rehearsed, public apology, it became apparent that, on the course and off, Tiger Rules still prevailed.

"In his speech, Mr. Woods spoke directly about how entitlement led him to make horrible decisions. But part of the reason that he lived his life so recklessly was that he froze out any reporter or media organization that went off message. Setting aside his off-course interests, most beat writers didn’t bother to spill a lot of ink talking about his tendency to slam a club on occasion, blow past autograph-seekers and curse out the gods and the galleries when a shot fell short of perfection.

"His footprint in the game was so large that Mr. Woods was able to dictate the terms of coverage. Probably the last time Tiger Woods let it all hang out was in 1997 in a piece by Charles P. Pierce in GQ. Mr. Woods came off as profane, funny and a bit of a player. He hated the profile, and after that, it was nothing but wonky golf talk from the microphone and baleful stares at anybody who wanted more than that.

“ 'He stopped being impressed by coverage at a very young age, and after that, he became very cold-eyed and wondered, "What’s in it for me?" ' Mr. Diaz said. 'He would love to play golf and never have to answer a question.' (Golf Digest has a long-term contract with Mr. Woods for a monthly column that is currently suspended.) "Rob Tannenbaum wrote a piece about Mr. Woods for TV Guide in 2001. The magazine had agreed not to make race a subject of the interview, but Mr. Woods brought it up independently. Even that was not allowed. “ 'His handler walked over and the interview ended immediately,' Mr. Tannenbaum said. 'Tiger just got up and left the room, and no amount of explaining that I had not breached the agreement was going to get Tiger to come back and sit down.' (Mr. Tannenbaum wrote up what he had, including Mr. Woods’s father, Earl Woods, saying he hoped his son didn’t marry anytime soon: 'Let’s face it, a wife can sometimes be a deterrent to a good game of golf.')"

Lewis Johnson, right, of NBC Sports is one of a small number of journalists of color covering the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. (Video)

Handful of Journalists of Color at Vancouver Olympics

A handful of journalists of color are among the hundreds of U.S. media people covering the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. There are fewer American newspaper reporters than at any recent Olympics, and a greater share of digital journalists.

When credentialing took place in November, Tripp Mickle wrote for Sports Business Journal:

"Suffering from the one-two punch of declining ad dollars and an evolving media landscape, newspapers plan to send fewer reporters to the Vancouver Olympics than to any recent Winter Games.

"The U.S. Olympic Committee, which issued 481 credentials to publications and Web sites for the event, has had 135 credentials returned this year. More than 90 percent of the credentials were returned by newspapers and traditional publications like Newsweek, which returned five of six credentials; The Dallas Morning News, which returned four of six; and the McClatchy's Washington bureau, which returned seven credentials and kept four.

"Digital media is taking up a larger chunk of credentials for the Vancouver Games than any previous Olympics. Yahoo!, which had one credential for the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, will have 21 this year; AOL, which had one in 2006, will have five; and, which had no credentials last time, will have seven."

Among the journalists of color at the Games are Howard Bryant of ESPN; Shannon Shelton of the Detroit Free Press; Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News; Kevin Blackistone of AOL Fanhouse; Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times; Sal Ruibal of USA Today; Roxanna Scott, assignment editor at USA Today; Jerry A. Williams, USA Today information technology director; Deborah Barrington, USA Today senior assignment editor; Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle; Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times; Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated, Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News and Lewis Johnson of NBC Sports.

"I viewed the Olympic assignment as an opportunity to really grow as a writer and reporter because the Winter Games have forced me to stretch myself," Taylor told Journal-isms by e-mail from Vancouver. "Outside of hockey, I don't follow any of the other Olympic sports, so it's been a challenge to familiarize myself with them. That's the challenge and that's the fun.

"I haven't seen many journalists of color here, which doesn't really surprise me. Relatively speaking, there aren't that many columnists of color and there aren't that many reporters of color who cover the Olympics. Typically, those are the folks who cover the Olympics. Hopefully, that's something that will change quickly over time."

Miami Herald Is Right to Tilt Pro-Gay, Ombudsman Says

Since June, the Miami Herald "ran seven op-ed columns supporting various gay rights, versus two that opposed. News columnist Daniel Shoer Roth, who is openly gay, wrote three more in the news pages that were sympathetic to gay causes," the paper's ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos, wrote on Sunday.

"The pro views, for the most part, supported gay adoption of children, gay service in the military and gay marriage. The anti ones, both by Cal Thomas, rejected having gays in the military, gay marriage and the ordination of gay Episcopal bishops.

"Add to this two editorials in which The Herald editorial board endorsed allowing gay adoption and ending the military's don't ask/don't tell policy and the balance on the pages clearly favored expanding gay rights. Is this wrong? I don't think so."

"Two- or three-to-one may be the right balance of op-ed columns representing community views in favor and against an expansion of gay rights. . . . If morality is important in guiding the newspaper — and I think it is — then this means that the newspaper is morally obliged to be more concerned about its impact on gays in our community than on those whose life choice is to restrict them."

N.Y. Times, NYU Plan Web Site For East Village

" announced today a collaboration with New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute to create a new Local community news and information Web site covering the East Village in New York City," the Times announced on Monday. Richard G. Jones, left, Yvonne Latty and Jason Samuels

"The Local East Village site will be developed by N.Y.U.'s journalism faculty and students and is scheduled to launch later this fall. Richard G. Jones, an award-winning veteran journalist and former New York Times reporter, will serve as the editor of the site. Mr. Jones will work with students, faculty and the East Village community to cover the news of everyday life in the neighborhood.

"Together with N.Y.U. professors Yvonne Latty and Darragh Worland, Mr. Jones will also manage 'The Hyperlocal Newsroom,' a course that will allow students to engage in a variety of ways, including reporting and writing for the site. Summer courses will also be available for students of other journalism institutions.

"N.Y.U. will coordinate with Mary Ann Giordano, a New York Times deputy Metropolitan editor, on the editorial content for The Local East Village. The site will live on The Times is advising on the development of the site by the Carter Institute's 'Studio 20 concentration,' which is taught by Journalism Institute faculty members Jay Rosen and Jason Samuels."


Short Takes

  • The Huffington Post's latest section, "'HuffPost College,' launched today," Mike Taylor wrote Monday for Fishbowl NY. "The section features content from more than 60 college newspapers in addition to cross-posts from other sections of the Web site. Jose Antonio Vargas will be heading up the section. That work will be added on to Vargas' existing duties as HuffPost's technology and innovations editor. Leah Finnegan, former editor of University of Texas' Daily Texan, will be¬† assisting him." Vargas made an effort to be sure the site presented a diverse representation of students.
  • Twelve performances of "Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers," a play co-authored by Leroy Aarons, a co-founder of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, are to be presented this spring at the New York Theatre Workshop, 79 E. 4th St., Manhattan,¬† in partnership with New York Theatre Workshop, LA Theatre Works and Affinity Company Theater. A March 11 performance and panel discussion is to benefit the Center for Public Integrity in Washington. Aarons, Oakland Tribune editor and founder of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, died in 2004 at age 70.
  • An exhibit of images of President Obama by Derrick Z. Jackson, Exhibit runs until March 20. (Photo by Derrick Jackson) Boston Globe columnist, is on display at the Museum of African American History, 46 Joy St., Beacon Hill, Boston. Jackson will be present at a reception Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., and again on March 18 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Those interested should RSVP with the Museum's Scott McDuffie at smcduffie (at)
  • Longtime news director Andrea Parquet-Taylor has been named assistant news director for Belo‚Äôs KHOU-TV in Houston, Rick Gevers reported on his Web site.¬† Parquet-Tayllor most recently was news director for WXYZ-TV in Detroit, a job she left in September. She‚Äôs also been a news director in Baltimore and Raleigh, N.C., he wrote.
  • "Less than 2 years after moving to Los Angeles, Esteban Creste, VP of News for KVEA-52 and KWHY-22 has parted ways with Telemundo, Veronica Villafa?±e reported Friday on her Media Moves site. "Wednesday was his last day. His departure marks the end of a 17-year run with the network."
  • "The fate of East West has been decided‚Äîfor the second time," Jason Fell wrote Feb. 15 for Folio. "On the magazine‚Äôs blog Monday, founder Anita Malik announced that after a hard deliberation she has decided to stop publishing East West. Its Web site will continue to be updated through the end of this week. 'East West, my first love ‚Ķ just doesn‚Äôt work anymore, not like this,' wrote Malik."
  • Marissa Rodriguez, most recently editor of Hispanic Magazine, has been named editor of Vista Magazine, "the nation‚Äôs most read, dual language general interest magazine among Hispanics with a circulation of over 900,000," effective March 1, the magazine announced last week. She "will oversee all editorial matters related to Vista including editorial direction and management of its staff and contributors."
  • Not many news organizations can routinely put together a program featuring black staff members who have recently authored books, but the Washington Post plans such a Black History Month presentation on Thursday. Joel Dreyfuss, managing editor of, moderates a presentation with staffers DeNeen L. Brown Michael Fletcher, Lisa Frazier, Kevin Merida, Lonnae O'Neal Parker, Robert E. Pierre and Michelle Singletary.
  • "As minorities we tend to raise our children to find 'good jobs,' not to pursue something they are passionate about," according to Derek Walker, an African American who loves the creativity of the advertising business. He wrote Thursday in Advertising Age, "Recently, I was part a group of men and boys from several congregations discussing manhood. The speaker asked this group of 200-plus men, 'How many of you have a dream?' Several raised their hands. Then he asked, 'How many of you are living your dream?' Less than 10 of us raised our hands. I looked to my side and my two sons had their hands up. The father in me was proud, but the black man in me was crying ‚Äî so many of us either don't have a dream or aren't living our dream."
  • A multicultural group of seven Rutgers University journalism students have started a Web site,, that "focuses on the news and information priorities of 16 to 25 year olds globally. Our goal is to prove that good journalism can actually make money and support independent, non-major corporate journalism," the effort's marketing manager, Krystle Rich, told Journal-isms.
  • Richard Prince discusses Friday's Journal-isms column with Keith Murphy on XM Satellite Radio's "The Urban Journal." Go to "pt. 4" to listen online.
  • The Minority Writers Seminar, a program of the National Conference of Editorial Writers to increase the pool of skilled opinion writers of color, is accepting applications for its next class until March 8. The sessions take place April 29 to May 2 at the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Lodging and food at the seminar are covered; participants are reimbursed up to $200 for transportation to and from Nashville. Enrollment is limited to 15. More information at:
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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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