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Mark Russell Ousted in Orlando Cost-Cutting

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Returning August 12

Sentinel Editor to Be Replaced by Corporate Manager

Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff to Co-Anchor PBS "NewsHour

To Jeff Bezos: "Good on Diversity" Won't Be Good Enough

ESPN Co-Hosts in Skirmish at NABJ Convention Party

Univision Gets $500,000 Grant for Investigative Journalism

Ebony Devotes Issue to Trayvon Martin, Features 4 Covers

Latinos Disproportionately Among Suspended Players

Johnny Depp Blames Critics for Failure of "Lone Ranger"

Soul of the South Network Debuts Daily Newscast

C-SPAN Looks at Role of Black Soldiers in Civil War

Short Takes

Mark Russell addresses the Orlando Sentinel newsroom in his first act as editor in 2010.   (Credit: Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel)

Sentinel Editor to Be Replaced by Corporate Manager

Mark Russell, whose nearly three years as editor of the Orlando Sentinel were marked by coverage of the Trayvon Martin case and the hazing death of a marching band member at Florida A&M University, was ousted Wednesday in a reorganization that eliminated his job.

Avido Khahaifa

Russell was replaced by Avido Khahaifa [PDF], a corporate manager who is also African American and for whom the editor's job will be an additional role. Both men were at the National Association of Black Journalists convention last week in nearby Kissimmee, Fla.

Staffers said Khahaifa, once a journalist but most recently a manager over the business and editorial sides, is a cost-cutter who believes that the newsroom is too large.

"Khahaifa has been with the Sentinel since 2005, most recently as a senior vice president and director of content," according to a Sentinel story by Jason Garcia. "In his new post, Khahaifa will retain the director-of-content title and will oversee the day-to-day operation of the Sentinel's newsroom."

Russell was not present Wednesday when Howard Greenberg, publisher of the Tribune Co.-owned Sentinel, made the newsroom announcement. In a memo, Greenberg said Khahaifa "will add editor responsibilities to his role, and will now oversee the day-to-day Orlando newsroom management, in addition to leading regional editorial strategy."

Khahaifa also has a management role with the Sentinel's sister paper, the South Florida SunSentinel.

"With this change, Mark's direct reports will report to Avido. In South Florida Sun Sentinel Editor Howard Saltz, who previously reported to Avido, will now report to me," Greenberg's memo continued.

In March, the Sentinel staff won the Freedom Forum/American Society of News Editors Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity in the aftermath of the Martin case, in which the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a neighborhood watchman eventually became a national story.

"Their multi-platform series not only tackles the history of race relations, but also delves into the complexity of ethnicity and race in order to shatter stereotypical myths," the announcement said. "The reporters and editors accomplished this under tough conditions — a tragic shooting that went viral internationally."

The Sentinel was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist this year in the local news category.

Staffers David Breen, Stephen Hudak, Jeff Kunerth and Denise-Marie Ordway were honored "for their aggressive coverage of hazing rituals by the Florida A&M University marching band that killed a drum major and led to the resignation of the band leader and the university president."

Russell says in his LinkedIn profile, "I'm the Editor of the Orlando Sentinel, having worked 29 years in the news business, first as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio, covering a range of business and political topics. I also worked as an editor at The Plain Dealer and the Boston Globe. At The Plain Dealer, I was Business Editor for four years, and then the Assistant Managing Editor/Region for five years. I joined the Sentinel in October 2004 as managing editor and became Editor in October 2010. I have served four years as a Pulitzer prize juror, including the last two years."

Greenberg concluded his staff memo, "Mark's last day is this Friday. On behalf of everyone at the Orlando Sentinel, I thank Mark for his dedicated service and leadership in the newsroom over the last nine years. He has been instrumental in moving us to a more digital focus while maintaining our tradition of strong journalism."

The "NewsHour" on-air team, from left: Judy Woodruff, Margaret Warner, Jeff Brow

Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff to Co-Anchor PBS "NewsHour"

"The PBS 'NewsHour,' which was co-anchored for decades by the two men who created it, will soon be co-anchored by two women," Brian Stelter reported Tuesday for the New York Times.

"PBS announced on Tuesday that Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff would take over the nightly newscast in September, putting an end to the rotating anchor format that has been in effect for several years. Ms. Ifill and Ms. Woodruff will also share the managing-editor responsibilities for the program.

"The appointments are another milestone for women on television and in journalism, seven years after Katie Couric became the first female solo anchor of a network nightly newscast. PBS noted in a news release that 'this will mark the first time a network broadcast has had a female co-anchor team.' "

Stelter continued: "Ms. Ifill, who is black, said that she and Ms. Woodruff were mindful of the broader significance of their appointment. 'When I was a little girl watching programs like this — because that's the kind of nerdy family we were — I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. No women. No people of color,' she said.

" 'I'm very keen about the fact that a little girl now, watching the news, when they see me and Judy sitting side by side, it will occur to them that that's perfectly normal — that it won't seem like any big breakthrough at all,' she added. . . ."

The PBS news release continued, "It was also announced that Hari Sreenivasan will serve as Senior Correspondent for the PBS NEWSHOUR with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, reporting several times a week from WNET's Tisch Studios in New York, along with his duties anchoring PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND Saturdays and Sundays beginning September 7.

"In addition, three PBS NEWSHOUR correspondents have been given specific areas of content responsibility and will be contributing on a daily basis to both the broadcast and online operation. Jeffrey Brown was named Chief Correspondent for Arts, Culture, and Society. Ray Suarez was named Chief National Correspondent. And Margaret Warner was named Chief Foreign Correspondent. . . ."

To Jeff Bezos: "Good on Diversity" Won't Be Good Enough

"Dear Mr. Bezos:

Farai Chideya

"Congratulations on buying the Washington Post," Farai Chideya, multimedia journalist and distinguished writer in residence at New York University, wrote Tuesday. "And no, I'm not saying that while waving you off into the sunset. I hope you succeed. It will be a tall task to 'invent' and 'experiment' while also living by your statement that 'The values of The Post do not need changing.' — all words from your letter to the employees of the Washington Post.

"In 2010, the Post's Ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, wrote a piece titled 'Newsroom diversity: Falling short could be fatal.' He stated, 'All told, journalists of color comprise about 24 percent of the newsroom, comfortably above the ASNE [American Society of News Editors] census average of roughly 13 percent in recent years. But here's the problem: Minorities are 43 percent of The Post's circulation area, and a large part of the region is edging toward 'majority minority’ status. For The Post, being 'good on diversity' isn't enough.'

"I agree with Alexander. . . . "

Chideya's letter was addressed to Jeff Bezos, who agreed to buy the Washington Post newspaper for $250 million, it was announced on Monday. Bezos is founder of Amazon.com, but this is an individual, not a company purchase.

Amazon's record on diversity is a mystery; it refuses to release its diversity figures.

A Seattle Times series last year shows the company's secretiveness on diversity is not its only aspect that bears a closer look.

"In a four-part series beginning today, The Seattle Times gives readers a glimpse inside the company," the Times wrote last year.

It added, "as Amazon prepares to turn 18 this summer, its practices are drawing increasing scrutiny, from civic leaders in its hometown to lawmakers around the country, from business partners to labor activists.

"In a four-part series, The Seattle Times gives readers a glimpse behind the Amazon smile.

"We found that the company is a virtual no-show in the civic life of Seattle, contributing to nonprofits and charities a tiny fraction of what other big corporations give. In the political world, the company's hardball efforts to fend off collecting sales taxes — a key advantage over brick-and-mortar stores — has ignited a backlash in several states. In the publishing world, smaller companies have begun to publicly criticize Amazon's bullying tactics. And in some of its warehouses around the country, Amazon is drawing fire for harsh conditions endured by workers. . . ."

ESPN co-hosts Hugh Douglas, left, and Michael Smith. Most party-goers had no idea there was an altercation.

ESPN Co-Hosts in Skirmish at NABJ Convention Party

"Always looking for new programming ideas, ESPN has come up with another — battling co-hosts," Bob Raissman reported Wednesday for the Daily News in New York.

"Hugh Douglas, a first-round pick of the Jets in 1995, apparently had too much to drink last Friday night when he accosted his 'Numbers Never Lie' co-host Michael Smith and vowed to beat him to a pulp during a party thrown by the National Association of Black Journalists at the House of Blues in Orlando, Fla.

'"The Big Lead website reported Douglas called Smith an 'Uncle Tom' and a 'House n-----.' Douglas, a 6-2, 280-pounder who spent 10 seasons in the NFL, was apparently trying to get on stage to join the DJ. He became incensed when Smith was hesitant to assist him. That's when Douglas threatened to punch Smith out. Smith attempted to walk away, but Douglas grabbed him by the wrist before [partygoers] intervened to break things up. An ESPN spokesman said network suits were aware of the altercation and 'were looking into the situation.' Still, it remains to be seen if Douglas and Smith will be able to work together. . . ."

In an NABJ Facebook discussion, one member said, "I was at this party and I can tell you most people had no clue this happened."

Univision Gets $500,000 Grant for Investigative Journalism

"Univision News, the award-winning news division of Univision Communications, Inc., the leading media company serving Hispanic America, announced that it has received a grant from the Ford Foundation to support its quality investigative journalism," the network announced Wednesday.

"Univision News was the recipient of a one-year, $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation's Freedom of Expression Unit to strengthen and expand its Documentary and Investigative units. The funds will allow the News division to devote more time and resources to the production of original in-depth reporting focused on important issues that significantly affect the Hispanic community, including immigration, civic and political participation, building economic security, access to higher education, and health, among others. . . ."

Ebony is featuring four separate covers for its Trayvon Martin issue.

Ebony Devotes Issue to Trayvon Martin; Features 4 Covers

"In response to the watershed moment experienced by the Black community after the 'not-guilty' verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, EBONY magazine has devoted the September 2013 issue to Trayvon Martin and explores the 'Stand Your Ground' laws," Ebony announced on Tuesday.

The announcement continued, "The September issue will also have four separate covers, each conveying the message, 'We Are Trayvon.' The three separate newsstand issues will feature Spike Lee with his son, Jackson, Boris Kodjoe with his son, Nicolas, and Dwyane Wade with his sons Zaire and Zion, all wearing hoodies. The subscribers' issue will feature an exclusive photo of Trayvon's parents and his brother, Jahvaris Fulton, on the cover.

" 'As a mother of a young Black boy, the tragedy of Travyon Martin affected me deeply,' said EBONY's Editor-in-Chief Amy Barnett. 'We simply cannot allow the conversations on this issue to come to a standstill. As the leading source for an authoritative perspective on the African-American community, at EBONY we are committed to serving as a hub for Black America to explore solutions, and to giving readers the information and tools they need to help ensure a bright future for all of our children.'. . ."

Latinos Disproportionately Among Suspended Players

"Eight of the 13 players suspended Monday by Major League Baseball were born in the Dominican Republic," Victor Contreras reported Tuesday in the Sacramento Bee.

"Three came from Venezuela and one from Nicaragua.

"Alex Rodriguez, the player caught in the spotlight in one of major-league baseball's darkest days, was born in New York City to Dominican parents. He moved to the Dominican Republic at 4, then to Miami.

"The list of suspended players looked more like a lineup card for a World Baseball Classic game.

"Unfortunately, Latinos being suspended for PED use is nothing new.

"Since baseball started suspending major leaguers in 2005 for using performance-enhancing drugs, 38 of the 49 offenders were born in Latin American countries.

"The figures among Latino offenders are even more staggering in the minor leagues.

"But before stereotyping Latino players as cheaters, look beyond the box score. . . ."

Hanay Geiogamah, a Kiowa tribe member who used to used to head UCLA's American I

Johnny Depp Blames Critics for Failure of "Lone Ranger"

"Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have spoken out for the first time since mega-budget Western 'The Lone Ranger' crumbled at the global box office, blaming U.S. critics for one of the biggest Hollywood trainwrecks of the year," Stuart Oldham reported Monday for Variety.

" 'I think the reviews were written seven to eight months before we released the film,' Depp proclaims in a new interview.

"Disney's costly feature, which could lose as much as $150 million, never stood a chance of succeeding because of overtly negative press, according to the Oscar-nominated actor.

" 'I think the reviews were written when they heard Gore (Verbinski) and Jerry (Bruckheimer) and me were going to do "The Lone Ranger", ' Depp said. 'They had expectations that it must be a blockbuster. I didn't have any expectations of that. I never do.' . . ."

Soul of the South Network Debuts Daily Newscast

"On Monday, August 5, 2013, Soul of the South Evening News became the first regularly scheduled daily news broadcast  aired by an African-American owned network. The pioneering newscast airs nightly at 7PM with an encore broadcast each night at 10PM CST," the network said Wednesday in a news release.

"The half hour news program, which will expand to an hour in early September, is the first of a 4-hour news show lineup planned by Soul of the South Television Network over the next three months. National News Director Tom Jacobs, a broadcast news veteran, leads the team that also includes Soul of the South Evening News Anchor, Roy Hobbs and former KMOV/St. Louis anchor, Vickie Newton.

" 'I was brought in to create the first African American national nightly news broadcast in the history of television,' said Jacobs. 'I have waited my entire career for this opportunity, and we have assembled a team of television journalist worthy of our mission and our viewer’s trust.' . . . "

C-SPAN Looks at Role of Black Soldiers in Civil War

C-SPAN's American History TV will broadcast in prime time on C-SPAN3 starting at 8 p.m. ET each evening during the week of Aug. 12-16, when it discusses the Civil War. Monday is devoted to the role of African American soldier.

"At 8pm . . . a discussion from the New-York Historical Society on the role abolitionist Frederick Douglass played in the recruitment of black soldiers, and their eventual acceptance into the Union Army by President Lincoln and his generals," C-SPAN said in an announcement.

"At 9pm . . . scholars discuss how U.S. Colored Troops are remembered at various battle sites. The panel also takes a critical look at the characterization of black troops in the 1989 film 'Glory,' which focuses on the 54th Massachusetts — one of the first all-black units to fight for the Union. This event was part of a conference at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

"At 10:30pm . . . from a conference hosted by the Catoctin Center for Regional Studies in Maryland, historian James McPherson examines the reasons for recruiting black soldiers for the war effort, and discusses the Northern shift from fighting to preserve the Union to fighting to end slavery. He's followed by Columbia University history professor Barbara Fields, who looks at racism and slavery during the Civil War era and the motives behind emancipation."

Also, on Wednesday at 11 p.m., "two history professors talk about the Civil War in the West — from the Mississippi River to Arizona — including the roles played by Hispanics, and Confederate attempts at westward expansion."

Short Takes

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Comments

Russell Jettisoned from Orlando Sentinel

Is Tribune Co. still having deliberations with Koch Brothers for a sale? This might sweeten the pot.

Concerned.

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