Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Mark Whitaker Cites His Diversity Bona Fides

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Colleague Says Former Newsweek Editor Disappointed

C-SPAN to Broadcast "Black Agenda" Conference

ASNE Asks Web Sites to Join Diversity Census

Richmond's Glenn Proctor Reports to "VP of Audience"

White House Photogs Say Obama More Controlling Than Bush

. . . Columnists Weigh In on Tea Party Protesters

Census Boss Speculates That in '20, "Negro" Will Be Gone

Ifill Confirms She Talked With ABC About "This Week"

Short Takes

Colleague Says Former Newsweek Editor Disappointed

Mark Whitaker, left, with Tim Russert, the man he succeeded as NBC News Washington bureau chief, in 2007 at a 60th anniversary celebration of 'Meet the Press.'   Whitaker says he urged awarding an MSNBC contributor contract to Eugene Robinson, Washington Post columnist, at right. (Virginia Sherwood/NBC News) 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. . . .Sylvester Monroe

"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 — 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.

ASNE Asks Web Sites to Join Diversity Census

Bobbi BowmanThe 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
"Google
"Yahoo News
"Center for Investigative Reporting at Berkeley
"Salon Media
"The Daily Beast
"Slate
"Politico
"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.

Glenn ProctorProctor, 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 — 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.

In December, the Dallas Morning News announced that section editors there would start reporting to sales managers.

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’s abortion order signing, to the president’s 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’s staff can pick what the only public image will show, down to the president’s body language. In the photo documenting his diplomatically touchy meeting with the Dalai Lama, Obama offered no smile. When signing yesterday’s 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’s 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’t getting any traction, either with the White House or with news outlets that continue to disseminate the official photos.

“ We won the access under the Bush administration,' laments Sachs. 'And it has been taken away under the Obama administration.'”

. . . 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:



"First of all, let me apologize to you on behalf of all my colleagues,” 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, “I 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.”

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 “they couldn’t 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’s a foreign correspondent. She’s never covered Washington,' Simpson said. 'Christiane will do fine, I'm sure, but she ain’t the best, and I know the best.' "

Ifill said ABC’s announcement of hundreds of layoffs in its news division had made the network "a pretty massively unhappy place," the newspaper reported.

“I was prepared no matter what they offered to stay exactly where I am," Ifill said.

Short Takes

  • "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'."
  • Janelle Rodriguez"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.' "
  • Leon Carter 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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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 BugMeNot.com 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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Comments

Newsweek

Interesting post. Tho I left N/W almost 20 years ago, all I can say is that it would be delusional for anyone to claim Latinos thrived there. This transcended any one editor, but was part of a culture that was cliquish and inward-looking to the extreme. I won't say much about Whitaker - or can't, really - since he barely acknowledged my presence in the seven years I worked there. I can say this, one or two covers of the "Sleeping Brown Giant Awakens" variety makes not one bit of difference to the fact that the leadership of the magazine ultimately could not be bothered to truly examine Latino issues in any creative or significant manner. Nor could they be bothered to find Latino reporters or writers, encourage their advancement or retain them. But give them celebrity, bogus trends - or better yet - thumbsucking by some hack politico, celebrity or staff writer who is a supposed stylist or deep thinker despite all written evidence to the contrary, and they'll pat themselves on the back until they get RSI. One tiny example: in 1990, I pitched to the Education section an idea about the truly abysmal and alarming figures on Latino college graduation rates. I would have gotten a better response by standing outside of 444 Madison and talking to myself. A few months later, I saw a three-column Education story about Billy Joel and his song "We Didn't Start the Fire," and how it reflected Joel's interest in history (even though he was a high school dropout). Yeah, it was time to leave. My career took off, and I have been able to write about things that mattered. Best move I ever made.

Columnists Weigh in on the Tea Party

Earl Ofari Hutchinson's syndicated column, "Why the GOP won't stop playing the race card," put the joint Tea Party-GOP enterprise in perspective. "The shouts, taunts, spitting, catcalls, joker posters, N word slurs, Confederate and Texas Lone Star flag waving by tea baggers is and has been an indispensable political necessity for the GOP." Their use of the Hate/Race card was predicated on not having prepared a platform or alternatives to any proposal developed by the current administration as the health care bill has run the conservative gauntlet into law. While I feel Michael Steele is hard pressed to lead the RNC, his inability to represent those who denounce such back-street, gutteral tactics in the party tells a chilling story that the rest of America is learning. That is, these people will sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the nation. The GOP war is a war among its tribes, and right now being led not by their own leadership, but by a roving mob with an agenda to maintain a false sense of reality. Thus the emotional outburts among congressmen who "lose it" whenever they are in chambers on national TV with the President facing them. How Rude! Interestingly enough, these hate mongers don't live in low-income, traditional economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of the urban districts where even street-smarts can very often differentiate between right and wrong. The GOP would be wise to pull in their emotional distructive compatriots and start preparing for common-sense discussions on how to represent Americans. Their protests against the Democrats - by stonewalling legislation has created the one thing they didn't want. And that is, to be left behind as an alternative "voice of reason" to provide political balance. Now, that's dumb. Continue being led by the Linbuagh's, Becks, and Hannity's - you know, unelected mouths lacking political sense. Now, that's stupid. Oops, did I say that out loud?

mark whitaker at nbc and who he fires

When Mark Whitaker came in to the NBC Bureau in DC, one of the first things he had to do was lay people off. One of the on-air reporters he fired in December 2008 was the only black correspondent at the NBC News Washington Bureau at the time, Kevin Corke. Another was Jeannie Ohm, who is Asian. It's worth ask Whitaker about if the subject comes up. http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/nbc/layoffs_spread_to_nbcs_washingto...

The Whiteness of New Media & Old Media

With all due respect to Bryan Monroe's opinion, I'd like to challenge the conventional wisdom to instead view the Whiteness of the Web from a different perspective. Monroe said: "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." The reality is that Whites have recognized the value of investing in Internet innovations, online communities and online media. Those investments have come at a time when Blacks have opportunities to invest in online innovations as well. But what is our response to those opportunities? The Huffington Post and Politico are infants in the world of entrepreneurship. Highly successful infants. AOL is a teenager. There are more Internet innovation infants being born every quarter. When we look at the investment capital necessary to fund those infants, how much is coming from Black investors? In the online frontier, the overwhelming bulk of at-risk investment is coming from angel investors and venture capitalists who are White. When a small percentage of those bets succeed, they generate incredible amounts of revenue. They also create jobs. That's when the criticism regarding diversity typically enters the door. Prior to that, seldom do we consider that the entire universe of Internet investors in the U.S. is comprised of more than 95% Whites. Additionally, when we look at the universe of Internet entrepreneurs, who put everything at risk to bring ideas to fruition, seldom do we consider that they are overwhelmingly Whites. Sadly, when we look at the Fourth Estate and see an overwhelming amount of White ownership, we also see the lack of diversity within most of those enterprises. When we look at the Fifth Estate, undoubtedly, we see similar traits. But when we look closely at the Fifth Estate, we also see a slothful approach Blacks have taken in the race to own online media and its influence. Yet, the Fifth Estate is still in its infancy. So, are we going to direct our focus on challenging the winners to include us, or focus on producing more diversity in the winner's circle? My focus is on the latter. I'd be happy to work together with Bryan and others who want to see more Blacks in the owner's box.

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