Mark Whitaker Cites His Diversity Bona Fides
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Colleague Says Former Newsweek Editor Disappointed
Mark Whitaker was the first African American to edit Newsweek magazine, and now he is a senior vice president of NBC News and the first to become NBC News Washington bureau chief.
Under normal circumstances, he probably wouldn't mind being compared to other such "firsts" - President Obama and Nelson Mandela.
But not the way his former Newsweek colleague Sylvester Monroe equated them in a piece Monday on theRoot.com.
"In many ways, Mandela and Obama share a common affliction of nearly all black people who become the first to make it to the top of their chosen profession: Their ascension is generally greeted with great elation - and even greater expectations for improved conditions for people who share his or her race," Monroe wrote.
"It is as if the election or appointment of one person of color can change a history of racial discrimination and oppression overnight. Of course, it cannot, and the elation quickly turns to anger and frustration when it seems that the black person at the pinnacle of power fails to embrace his people in the way they feel he should. . . .
"Intellectually, I understand and appreciate the very real limits of what a Nelson Mandela or a Barack Obama can do by themselves to improve the lots of black people in their respective countries. But I can also understand the frustration and anger of dashed expectations. I've felt the same way in my own profession.
"As a correspondent for Newsweek and Time magazines for 27 years, I was overjoyed when Mark Whitaker, a personal friend and respected colleague, was named Newsweek's first African-American top editor. But that joy quickly died down as I watched my old friend twist and turn trying to keep white corporate bosses and readers happy - often at the expense of black reporters and readers who had high hopes for his editorship. Whitaker has since moved on to NBC News. Meanwhile, the magazine has yet to see more and better black content - or more black staff, for that matter."
Journal-isms asked Whitaker for his reaction.
"With all due respect and affection for my friend Vest Monroe, he must not have been reading the magazine very closely when I was the Editor. Let me just list a few of the cover stories I commissioned: 'The Good News About Black America' (June 7, 1999), 'The New Face of Race' (Sept 18. 2000), 'Do We Still Need Affirmative Action?' (Jan. 27, 2003), 'Black Women in America' (March 3, 2003), 'Latino Power' (May 30, 2005)," Whitaker replied by e-mail.
"On the personnel front, I named the first black ever to serve as Newsweek's Chief of Correspondents, Marcus Mabry, two Hispanic bureau chiefs, Joseph Contreras and Arian Campo-Flores, championed the work of superb Newsweek columnists and reporters like Ellis Cose and Allison Samuels, and encouraged Newsweek's chairman, Rick Smith, to name Fareed Zakaria Editor of our International Edition, and supported Fareed when he named as his deputy Nisid Hajari.
Whitaker was also asked for an update on how he has championed diversity at NBC, which last month was scolded by black members of Congress for insufficient diversity, including on "Meet the Press." NBC's parent company is seeking approval for a merger with Comcast.
When Whitaker was named Washington bureau chief in 2008, he told Michel Martin on National Public Radio's "Tell Me More" that "I certainly hope to be an advocate for smart stories and smart debate about issues involving race, and also to be a champion for hiring and promoting people from diverse backgrounds who really excel."
Whitaker told Journal-isms, "At NBC, I have promoted former Senior White House Producer Antoine Sanfuentes, who is of Hispanic origin, to be my Deputy Bureau Chief with day-to-day responsibility for managing the Washington bureau. I have pushed to get our Senior Congressional Producer, Ken Strickland, and White House producer Athena Jones, who are both black, on the air as analysts. And I have advocated for awarding MSNBC contributor contracts to Eugene Robinson and Jonathan Capehart from The Washington Post, Maria Teresa Kumar of Voto Latino, among others.
"As I told Michel Martin in our interview, I aspire to be the best possible Washington bureau chief for NBC News I can be, not just the best /black/ bureau chief, and I had the same view of my role at Newsweek. But I have been proud to promote the combination of diversity and excellence in both positions, and I think my record of success speaks for itself."
In addition to working at both Newsweek and Time, Monroe, 58, was deputy managing editor of the San Jose Mercury News, was a Sunday editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, worked briefly at National Public Radio and left Ebony magazine last year as senior editor.
Whitaker, 52, is like Obama in at least one respect. "You know, I'm mixed-race. My dad is black. My mother is white," he told Martin in 2008. "I grew up in both worlds. I think, as a journalist, that's been a plus in terms of my understanding and I think my feel for issues, both in the black community but also in the white world. But I think my success, such as it is, has been the result, you know, that I've gotten to where I've gotten the way most people do, which is just to sort of go to work and work hard."
C-SPAN to Broadcast "Black Agenda" Conference
Tavis Smiley's "We Count!" conference held Saturday at Chicago State University to discuss a "black agenda," will be broadcast on C-SPAN2 on Monday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time, Smiley announced on Thursday.
"President Obama was the target of slings and arrows Saturday from some of the nation's most quoted African-American leaders ‚Äî but, they said repeatedly, it was all done 'in love," Maureen O'Donnell wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times.
The event "at times resembled a church rally with people standing and shouting 'Amen,'" Dahleen Glanton wrote in the Chicago Tribune.
Participants included the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Michael Fauntroy, assistant professor at George Mason University; Princeton professor Cornel West; Smiley; Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennett College for Women; Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam; University of Maryland professor Ron Walters; Angela Glover Blackwell, founder of PolicyLink; "Brainwashed" author Tom Burrell; Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson and Dorothy Tillman, former Chicago alderman.
C-SPAN television was airing health care proceedings in the House and Senate that day, a C-SPAN spokeswoman said, so the forum was streamed live on C-SPAN.org.
- Gregory Kane, Washington Examiner: Here's a real 'Black Agenda'
- Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Smiley brings 'black agenda'
- Marc Morial, National Newspaper Publishers Association: The State of Black America 2010: Responding to the Jobs Crisis
- Ruben Navarrette, San Diego Union-Tribune: Grading Obama on the curve
- Ron Walters, National Newspaper Publishers Association: The Black Agenda
- Laura S. Washington, In These Times: What Has Barack Obama Done for Black America?
ASNE Asks Web Sites to Join Diversity Census
The American Society of News Editors has sent its diversity-census forms to news Web sites such as Politico, Salon, the Daily Beast and the Huffington Post,¬† which operate in an universe in which diversity is not often a priority.
"Last year ASNE expanded its membership to include editors of online only newspapers," Bobbi Bowman, who conducts the survey for ASNE, told Journal-isms on Friday.
"Therefore as part of our 32-year-old annual survey that counts the numbers of full-time journalists working at daily newspapers, we've asked the online newspapers to join the survey. Participation in the survey is totally voluntary.
"Annually, 65 percent of newspaper editors have participated including the largest newspapers in this country including The New York Times, The LATimes, USA TODAY, The Washington Post. Etc.
"We have sent census forms to:
"The Huffington Post
"Center for Investigative Reporting at Berkeley
"The Daily Beast
"The Big Money
"Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism"
In a Huffington Post piece called "Why New Media Looks A Whole Lot Like Old Media," Bryan Monroe, 2005-2007 president of the National Association of Black Journalists, wrote in December about a then-upcoming Federal Trade Commission hearing called, "How Will Journalism Survive The Internet Age."
"Media giants like Rupert Murdoch and Arianna Huffington will likely slug it out on pay walls, copyrights and the prospect of Microsoft buying its way into the search world," Monroe wrote.
"I, on the other hand, am going to talk about how white the Web is, and the threat that reality represents to journalism for our increasingly diverse nation.
"Look no further than the 17 staff members of AOL's new Sphere.com. Or the single African-American reporter at Politico. Or the lack of diversity in Chicago's new co-op journalism venture. We are starting off on the wrong foot."
Richmond's Glenn Proctor Reports to "VP of Audience"
The Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch has installed a "vice president of audience and content development" over Executive Editor Glenn Proctor in a reorganization "aimed at building audience and increasing revenue in the next five years," in the newspaper's words.
Proctor, a onetime Marine, arrived at the paper in 2005 as the first African American editor of the dominant newspaper in the former Confederate capital. It was not a self-effacing arrival.
Lori Robertson wrote in the December 2006-January 2007 issue of the American Journalism Review: "Proctor is a self-professed hard-ass, a man who makes no apologies for his tough-guy style and compares himself to the famed and infamous basketball coach Bobby Knight ‚Äî he's about winning, not making anyone happy. And he was not about to conform to the genteel ways of Richmond when he marched into the Times-Dispatch newsroom and staked his claim. 'This is my newsroom,' he told staffers."
The March 2 editions of the Times-Dispatch said that Proctor will now "report to Frazier Millner, who becomes the group's vice president of audience and content development after serving as The Times-Dispatch's director of strategic marketing and product innovation. She will lead all multimedia audience growth strategies, content development for new and existing platforms and all customer marketing and community engagement activities."
In the article, Proctor was no longer referred to as "vice president, executive editor," though he was still listed that way on the paper's Web site. He "takes on the additional duties as the group's news director to improve the reporting and coverage in non-daily publications and on TimesDispatch.com," the piece said.
"Millner's two other direct reports are Digital Director Mair Downing and the new director of audience engagement and marketing who will guide audience strategy and community involvement. That position is yet to be filled."
The Richmond Free Press, a black weekly that has not disguised its antipathy toward the Times-Dispatch, editorialized in its March 11-13 edition, under the headline, "Proctor stripped," that Proctor "has been stripped of his executive editor title," and as evidence, reproduced the Times-Dispatch's mastheads, old and new.
"The Richmond Times-Dispatch will undoubtedly blame Mr. Proctor for the daily's status as a sinking ship. That would be terribly unfair," the editorial said. "The Richmond Times-Dispatch never was a real newspaper. The Millner promotion is the latest evidence. Further, no one can rationally be expected to make something out of nothing."
Proctor, a board member of the Maynard Institute, did not respond to e-mails seeking comment. Millner did not respond to a message left in her office.
Independent photographers were barred from President Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)
Photographers Say Obama More Controlling Than Bush
"The Obama administration has barred independent photographers from a wide variety of events both potentially controversial and anodyne, ranging from yesterday‚Äôs abortion order signing, to the president‚Äôs meeting with the Dalai Lama, to his retaking of the flubbed oath of office, to bill signing ceremonies honoring female pilots in World War Two and promoting foreign travel to the United States," Clint Hendler wrote Thursday for the Columbia Journalism Review.
"The opportunity to exercise this control means that the president‚Äôs staff can pick what the only public image will show, down to the president‚Äôs body language. In the photo documenting his diplomatically touchy meeting with the Dalai Lama, Obama offered no smile. When signing yesterday‚Äôs executive order, Obama looked dutiful, but not overjoyed.
"Susan Walsh, an AP photographer who was president" of the White House News Photographers Association "during their successful effort to curtail the handouts under Bush, worries that the Obama administration‚Äôs regular dissemination of handout photos from events that could easily be opened to pool or other photographers is permanently eroding independent photographic access at the White House."
Ron Sachs, who heads the advocacy committee of the association, "is frustrated that the WHNPA's continued complaints aren‚Äôt getting any traction, either with the White House or with news outlets that continue to disseminate the official photos.
‚Äú We won the access under the Bush administration,' laments Sachs. 'And it has been taken away under the Obama administration.'‚Äù
. . . Columnists Weigh In on Tea Party Protesters
Meanwhile, columnists had plenty to say about Tea Party protesters who shouted slurs at members of Congress as they prepared to vote on President Obama's historic health care overhaul Saturday, as well as Monday's historic signing of the bill:
- Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Whose Country Is It?
- Cary Clack, San Antonio Express-News: 45 years after march, Lewis still endures epithet's sting
- Melissa Harris-Lacewell, theGrio.com: Are conservatives inciting racial violence with heated rhetoric?
- Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Noam Chomsky on Healthcare and the Media
- Bob Herbert, New York Times: An Absence of Class
- Rick Horowitz, Huffington Post: Murder by Metaphor
- Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: Why the GOP won't stop playing the race card
- Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe: The gap in women‚Äôs power in politics
- Allen Johnson blog, Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record: Unhealthy health care rhetoric
- Jerry Large, Seattle Times: Health care is a social justice issue
- Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III, theGrio.com: Health reform hysteria proves America isn't 'post-racial'
- Dwight Lewis, Nashville Tennessean: 200,000 reasons to like health-care bill
- Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review: At Last, the Press Discovers the Consumer Story
- Courtland Milloy, Washington Post: Congressmen show grace, restraint in the face of disrespect
- Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Racism simmers below surface on health care
- Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Change? You can believe it: Obama delivers
- Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: How to keep hate alive
- Les Payne blog: Landmark Health Care Reform ‚Äî Yes, He Can!
- Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Tea partiers proved that I was right
- Elmer Smith, Philadelphia Daily News: Flash mobs, tea party mobs: Hey, no one's responsible
- Wendi C. Thomas, Memphis Commercial Appeal: Gloaters, spitters take up positions on health care reform
"First of all, let me apologize to you on behalf of all my colleagues,‚Äù Census Director Robert Groves said on C-SPAN. 'My speculation is that in 2020 that word will disappear.' Video¬†
Census Boss Predicts That in '20, "Negro" Will Be Gone
Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said on C-SPAN's viewer call-in program "Washington Journal" on Friday that "My speculation is that in 2020" the word "Negro" "will disappear. Our language about race and ethnicity is in constant flux."
Groves spoke after a woman called in to say, ‚ÄúI am black. I did not appreciate the black, the African American, and Negro. . . . I do not like that . . . It really hurt my feelings . . . that to me is racist.‚Äù
The Census Bureau has explained that it included the term "Negro" as an option on the 2010 census forms because testing prior to the 2000 census indicated that some respondents identified with it. The bureau said 56,175 people wrote in the term in response to the question on race, even though it was already included in the category label for a check box.
Groves said to the caller, "Let me apologize to you on behalf of all of my colleagues," adding that "in retrospect, we should have done some of that . . . research this decade."
Meanwhile, Roberto Ramirez, chief of the ethnicity and ancestry branch at the bureau, said that Arab Americans who wish to be counted as a separate race were out of luck, Suzanne Manneh reported for New America Media.
Ifill Confirms She Talked With ABC About "This Week"
Gwen Ifill of PBS confirmed that she talked with ABC officials about hosting the Sunday "This Week" public affairs program, but said ‚Äúthey couldn‚Äôt figure out what they wanted to do with it," according to Neal J. Riley, reporting Friday on Ifill's appearance at Boston University in the student newspaper, the Daily Free Press.
At the same event, former ABC News anchor Carole Simpson, now Emerson College journalism department leader-in-residence, "slammed her former employer for choosing foreign reporter Christiane Amanpour over Ifill to replace George Stephanopoulos as host." Simpson introduced Ifill at the university.
"'This is no disrespect to Christiane, but she‚Äôs a foreign correspondent. She‚Äôs never covered Washington,' Simpson said. 'Christiane will do fine, I'm sure, but she ain‚Äôt the best, and I know the best.' "
Ifill said ABC‚Äôs announcement of hundreds of layoffs in its news division had made the network "a pretty massively unhappy place," the newspaper reported.
‚ÄúI was prepared no matter what they offered to stay exactly where I am," Ifill said.
- Jehmu Greene, Women's Media Center: Washington Post TV Critic Showcases His Own Bias
- Tom Shales, Washington Post: ABC's choice of Amanpour for 'This Week' has critics inside the network and beyond
- "A record 77 journalists were killed last year, making 2009 one of the most dangerous years for media workers, according to a report published Thursday by UNESCO, the United Nations‚Äô cultural agency," A. D. McKenzie of the Inter-Press Service reported from Paris on Thursday.
- The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association drew 200 to 300 people Thursday night and raised "in the neighborhood of $100,000" at its annual "Headlines & Headliners" fundraiser, NLGJA President David A. Steinberg told Journal-isms. "We also presented two $5,000 student scholarships: Mary Susman won the fifth annual Leroy Aarons Scholarship, named after NLGJA founder Roy Aarons. Carl Stephen Gaines received the inaugural Kay Longcope Scholarship, which was created by Longcope's estate for an LGBT person of color who is interested in pursuing a journalism career." Gaines is a student at the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York, studying business journalism. Television personalities Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb hosted the event, held in New York.
- The Associated Press laid off three news employees Thursday and four who work with technology, spokesman Paul D. Colford told Journal-isms on Friday. Colleagues said the technology employees included AP's only black technology manager, Anthony Dilligard of Atlanta, and the only black technician in New York, Dwayne McGeese.
- The Dow Jones Newspaper Fund has changed its name to Dow Jones News Fund, the organization announced on Tuesday, giving this new Web address. "We have expanded our programs well beyond the traditional newspaper industry, so we felt it was time to change our name to 'News' from 'Newspaper' while still retaining our familiar DJNF acronym and logo," said Rich Holden, the Fund's executive director, in an announcement.
- National Public Radio has changed its style in describing abortion politics, ombudsman Alicia Shepard wrote Wednesday. "Do not use 'pro-life' and 'pro-choice' in copy except when used in the name of a group," a memo from Managing Editor David Sweeney said. "On the air, we should use 'abortion rights supporter(s)/advocate(s)' and 'abortion rights opponent(s)' or derivations thereof (for example: 'advocates of abortion rights'). It is acceptable to use the phrase 'anti-abortion,' but do not use the term 'pro-abortion rights'."
- "Continuing CNN's recent trend of announcing moves via tweet, CNN/US President Jon Klein announces today that 'Campbell Brown' EP Janelle Rodriguez becomes CNN's new Director of Programming in Atlanta. Kathy O'Hearn takes her spot in New York," Kevin Allocca reported Thursday for MediaBistro.
- "The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) today announced funding for what [it's] calling its 'major journalism initiative' that aims to increase original local reporting in seven regions around the country," Betsy Rothstein reported Thursday for MediaBistro. "CPB is funding the creation of seven Local Journalism Centers combining CPB and participating stations' resources for a 'new approach to news gathering'. As explained in a release, Centers will form teams of multimedia journalists, who will focus on issues of relevance to each region; their reports will be presented regionally and nationally 'through digital platforms, community engagement programs and radio and TV broadcasts.' "
- ESPN announced Thursday the launch of ESPNNewYork.com, "the latest edition of ESPN‚Äôs network of local sites and newest destination for New York sports news and information. The site features exclusive, original content from local contributors, locally relevant content created from ESPN‚Äôs multiple platforms and branded programming." As expected, "The site launches under the day-to-day editorial leadership of new executive editor Leon Carter, a news veteran with over 24 years of experience with the NY sports media world, most recently as sports editor for the New York Daily News and previously with Newsday."
- WBBH-TV reporter Travell Eiland, a reporter for WBBH-TV in Fort Myers, Fla., was arrested Saturday as he was videotaping in the food court of the Charlotte County mall. Mall security asked Eiland to stop filming and leave; Eiland refused. The Charlotte County sheriff was called and asked Eiland twice to leave the mall; Eiland still refused. He was escorted out of the mall by the deputy and arrested for trespassing, the Florida News Center reported.
- Reporters Without Borders is opposing a bill passed by the House of Representatives in which "satellite providers that knowingly and willingly contract with entities identified as 'global terrorist' would themselves be designated as 'global terrorists.' The bill would also consider implementing punitive measures against satellite providers that transmit al-Aqsa TV, al-Manar TV, al-Rafidayn TV, or any other terrorist owned and operated station," Reporters Without Borders said. "The text is too vague to be considered seriously by the U.S Senate," the group said on Monday.
- The Media Access Project "has tapped former Federal Communications Commissioner commissioner Tyrone Brown as president, succeeding Andrew Schwartzman, who has been atop the nonprofit law firm for the past three decades. Schwartzman will continue with MAP as senior vice president and policy director," Multichannel News reported on Wednesday.
- "Oprah Winfrey has settled a defamation lawsuit filed by a headmistress she had accused of performing poorly at her South African girls school, where some students claimed they were abused, lawyers said Tuesday," the Associated Press reported from Philadelphia.
- ABC News West Coast correspondents Brian Rooney, Lisa Fletcher and Laura Marquez have all been told that their services will no longer be needed by the network, the Enterprise Report reported on Tuesday.
- "Senate Republicans on Tuesday grilled President Obama‚Äôs nominee to be the Army‚Äôs general counsel, Solomon B. Watson IV, over the publication of two articles in The New York Times disclosing classified information when Mr. Watson was the newspaper‚Äôs chief legal officer," Charlie Savage reported Tuesday for the New York Times. "At a confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, a series of Republicans portrayed the articles as jeopardizing national security and questioned whether Mr. Watson could be trusted to protect classified secrets."
- Ebonyjet.com this week ran a three-part series in partnership with CAF?â, a Chicago-based magazine, "on the pulse of a growing and increasingly powerful new generation of Latino professionals, to share stories of cross-cultural change. Caf?©‚Äôs recent 'Blacktino' series is recognition of a maturing of black identity within the Latino community."
- The Cleveland Plain Dealer unmasked the identity of an anonymous commenter who posted personal attacks on newspaper employees on the paper's Web site, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said. "Privacy advocates maintain the paper violated the public‚Äôs trust on Friday by identifying the cleveland.com poster 'lawmiss' as having the same e-mail address as Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold," Shawn Moynihan wrote Friday in Editor & Publisher. "Her 23-year-old daughter, Sydney Saffold, later came forward to accept responsibility for posting 'quite a few, more than five' of more than 80 lawmiss comments."
- "Remember a few months ago when MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer mistakenly introduced Jesse Jackson as Al Sharpton, and they were going to have a lunch to talk it over? Well, TVNewser has learned that lunch ‚Äî actually it was breakfast ‚Äî happened this week," Chris Ariens wrote Friday for the TVNewser site.
- Richard Prince discussed this week's Journal-isms columns with Keith Murphy Friday on XM-Sirius Satellite Radio. To listen, go to Segments 1 and 2.
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