Media Cautious on Tulsa Killings
Monday, April 9, 2012
Story Confirms Fears of Welfare-Reform Opponents
Newspaper Movie Resonates After Trayvon, Tulsa Tragedies
Trayvon Story No. 1 on Twitter, No. 3 on Blogs
Reporter on Trayvon: It "Very Well Could Have Been Me"
National Review Fires Columnist Over Warnings to Whites
AP, Google, ONA Name $20,000 Scholarship Winners
AEJMC Honors Annenberg School, NABJ One of Its Students
"Maybe it's the Trayvon Martin case, or maybe it's just the system working as it should, but news organizations are moving cautiously on the story of this weekend's shootings in Tulsa, Okla., which may — may — have been racially motivated," Andrew Beaujon reported Monday for the Poynter Institute.
"A headline on TulsaWorld.com says, 'Two arrested in north Tulsa shootings that claimed three lives.' . . . The first line of Zack Stoycoff's story is: 'Tulsa police have arrested two white men who are accused of killing three black residents and injuring two others in a shooting spree that authorities deemed 'unprecedented." '
"A few paragraphs down, the story quotes an FBI agent who says, 'It is way too early to call this a hate crime.' Indeed, the suspects were charged today, but not with hate crimes.
"Cheryl Corley’s report for NPR is headlined ' "Premature" To Call Tulsa Shootings Hate Crimes.' A CNN email alert I saw didn’t mention race until the last line: 'Authorities are working to determine whether the violence was racially motivated.'
"One fact in this story is repelling a simple narrative: Jake England, one of the two accused shooters, is alternately described as white and Native American. A Los Angeles Times article quotes Susan Sevenstar, a family friend of England’s:
" 'If anybody is trying to say this is a racial situation, they've got things confused,' said Sevenstar, who described England as Cherokee Indian. 'He didn’t care what your color was. It wasn’t a racist thing.'
"And yet some posts on England’s Facebook page used racist language."
"Perhaps no law in the past generation has drawn more praise than the drive to 'end welfare as we know it,' which joined the late-'90s economic boom to send caseloads plunging, employment rates rising and officials of both parties hailing the virtues of tough love," Jason DeParle wrote from Phoenix Sunday in the lead story of the New York Times' print edition.
"But the distress of the last four years has added a cautionary postscript: much as overlooked critics of the restrictions once warned, a program that built its reputation when times were good offered little help when jobs disappeared. Despite the worst economy in decades, the cash welfare rolls have barely budged.
"Faced with flat federal financing and rising need, Arizona is one of 16 states that have cut their welfare caseloads further since the start of the recession — in its case, by half. Even as it turned away the needy, Arizona spent most of its federal welfare dollars on other programs, using permissive rules to plug state budget gaps.
"The poor people who were dropped from cash assistance here, mostly single mothers, talk with surprising openness about the desperate, and sometimes illegal, ways they make ends meet. They have sold food stamps, sold blood, skipped meals, shoplifted, doubled up with friends, scavenged trash bins for bottles and cans and returned to relationships with violent partners — all with children in tow."
DeParle's story would seem to vindicate pundits who warned that the Clinton-era welfare reforms would hurt poor people.
NewsBusters, a conservative media watch group affiliated with L. Brent Bozell III's Media Research Center, says one of those pundits was DeParle.
"In 1996 DeParle predicted poor mothers would 'turn to prostitution or the drug trade. Or cling to abusive boyfriends. Or have more abortions. Or abandon their children. Or camp out on the streets and beg.' None of which came to pass, until now (or so his new anecdotes suggest)."
- Corey Robin blog: Ending Dependency As We Know It: How Bill Clinton Decreased Freedom
- Claudio Sanchez, "All Things Considered," NPR: Now On The Menu For Hungry Kids: Supper At School
A film about newspaper journalists and the killing of a black teenage boy is having its "premiere tour" of the Midwest, South and East punctuated by the Florida killing of Trayvon Martin, a black teenage boy, and the shooting-spree deaths in Tulsa, Okla., of three African Americans, allegedly by white suspects.
The movie, "Deadline," was "inspired" by the real-life killing of Wallace Youmans, 18, in 1970 in the small town of Fairfax, S.C. "No charges were filed, and the case seemed headed for obscurity until 1972" [warning: clicking the link might spoil the movie]; when a white man confessed, yet "state officials unaccountably still failed to take action."Mark Ethridge III, working then at the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, reported the story, then turned it into "Grievances," a novel. Etheridge and Curt Hahn, a prep-school classmate turned filmmaker, adapted the novel into "Deadline." The location of the killing was changed to Alabama and the newspaper's home to Nashville, Tenn., Hahn's home base.
The time became the present.
Speaking of events in the film, Hahn said, "I didn't want this to be thought of as something that no longer exists." He was speaking at a Washington screening Sunday that benefited the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "I didn't want people to say, 'Oh, that was back then.' "
In the movie, the journalists solve the crime, working on the story against the wishes of the publisher, who believes readers in Nashville's circulation area would not be interested.
"I hope what happens is that people understand why newspapers and journalists are important," said Ethridge, a third-generation journalist. David Dwyer, who played the obstructionist publisher, said he had worked with several news directors and drew from his experiences with them.
At test screenings, viewers said the film reminded them of "Mississippi Burning," "Ghosts of Mississippi," "A Time to Kill," "The Help," and foremost, "To Kill a Mockingbird."
The filmmakers' marketing strategy calls for news organizations to sponsor a screening in each location, to benefit local charities. In what Etheridge called the film's only negatie review, Steve Persall of the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times said his paper declined to sponsor a recent Tampa event. However, Shawn McIntosh, public editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote that she "so enjoyed" the event in Atlanta, sponsored by her paper and benefiting a student journalism program.
Even with the local sponsorship, however, the Washington booking is for one week only in suburban Oxon Hill, Md., a fate that has been replicated in other metro areas. Theaters are taking a wait-and-see attitude, Hahn said.
The tour began Feb. 15 in Nashville and concludes April 20 in Knoxville, Tenn. On Tuesday, it heads for Philadelphia and Ashland, Ky., followed by Oklahoma City; New York; Boston; Providence, R.I.; Hartford, Conn.; Norfolk, Va.; Richmond, Va.; and Greensboro, N.C. The film officially opens this weekend.
- Kirk Baird, Toledo Blade: 'Deadline' premieres in Toledo, a week ahead of national release (March 22)
- Jobspage.com: Newspapers in the movies (2009)
- Adam Parker, Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.: New film based on Allendale killing (March 11)
- Jill Vejnoska, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Film works 'to make a case for journalism'
"The often explosive issue of race became a common thread in social media last week as two very different kinds of stories generated passionate conversations," the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism reported.
"For the second straight week, the February 26 shooting death of African American teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman was a widely discussed topic. From March 26-30, it was the No. 1 topic on Twitter and No. 3 on blogs, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. In addition, a video connected to the case was the most-viewed news clip on YouTube last week.
"On Twitter last week, the largest storylines in the discussion were outrage that no arrest has been made in the case and sympathy for Martin and his family."
Meanwhile, NBC News President Steve Capus told Chris Francescani of Reuters that "several people" were disciplined over NBC's decision to air an edited call from Zimmerman to police in the moments before he shot Martin.
"The edit in question, which aired on the network's flagship 'Today' morning show last week, made it appear that Zimmerman told police that Martin was black without being prompted, when, in fact, the full tape reveals that the neighborhood watch captain only did so when responding to a question posed by a dispatcher," the story said.
"Capus confirmed a previous Reuters report that an internal network investigation had determined that a producer made the editing error, and that the network's editorial controls — including senior broadcast producer oversight, script editors and often legal and standards department reviews of sensitive material to be broadcast — simply missed the selective editing of the phone call.
"Two sources at the network told Reuters the Miami-based producer of the segment had been fired on Thursday."
In Florida, the special prosecutor assigned to the shooting investigation now says she will not take the case before a grand jury Tuesday, as had been scheduled, Jeff Weiner and Walter Pacheco reported for the Orlando Sentinel.
"Angela Corey, special prosecutor in the case and state attorney for Duval, Clay and Nassau counties, said Monday that her investigation will continue, but the grand jury will not hear the case."
On the comics pages, "Candorville" creator Darrin Bell concluded a week-long series in which his character Lemont "meets" Martin.
"What struck Darrin Bell first, powerfully and personally, were Trayvon’s eyes ," Michael Cavna wrote for the Washington Post's Comic Riffs column.
"In them he saw something intangible, the 'Candorville' creator tells Comic Riffs, 'that suggested to me that he was essentially a good kid, and that one day he’d grow into a good man.'
"Bell acknowledges that this perhaps was pure projection, but 'isn’t that what we’re supposed to do with kids?' says the L.A.-based cartoonist. 'We’re supposed to find something good in them — even if we have to create it and project it on them — and nurture that. The most tragic part of all this, I thought, was that nobody would ever be able to do that for him; and he would never become the person he could have become.' "
"Trymaine Lee is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer many people might not have heard of until recently. He’s one of three journalists — all black men — credited with pushing the story of the controversial shooting death of Trayvon Martin into the mainstream, Tracie Powell wrote Monday for the Poynter Institute.
". . . Like Lee, the other two writers credited for bringing the story into the national spotlight are also African American and male: Charles M. Blow of The New York Times and Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic. Of the three, Lee is the only news reporter, Blow and Coates are columnists.
"Lee's first story about Martin was published March 8, more than a full week after the shooting. [Pieces in the less-visible Clutch magazine and Black Youth Project ran the same day but gained less attention.]
" 'As a young black man this story can't help but settle in a certain place inside of you,' Lee said. 'Here was a 17-year-old kid who, at the least, was stereotyped or racially profiled from the beginning. I think we've all, regardless as to your experience as a young black man in America, have experienced, thought about or seen coverage of this kind of thing happening. This very well could have been me. This could have been my brother. This could have been any of us.
" 'I think sometimes it takes people to care about an issue, a subject, a source in order to bring it to light. As journalists, that's our task. To bring issues and stories to light and to spread it to the masses, spread it to readers,' Lee added. 'I don't know what would have happened if I didn't hear about this story, if Charles Blow or Ta-Nehisi Coates had not heard about this story. But I can't help but believe that our being black men played some role in our motivation to get out there.' "
"I guess, simply put, we parted ways after the Times opted not to promote me from intermediate reporter status," Lee told Journal-isms then.
- Deborah Acosta, Miami Herald: What Trayvon Martin’s tweets say about him
- Chris Ariens, TVNewser: No Consensus From CNN on Whether George Zimmerman Used a Racial Slur
- Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Huffington Post: A Conversation With Trayvon Martin's Mother
- Gary Buiso, New York Post: 'Witness' supports self-defense story
- Farai Chideya, theRoot.com: A 'Hu-Manifesto' for a Post-Trayvon World
- Karen DeWitt, Baltimore Post-Examiner: Trayvon Martin's case brings back past
- Mansfield Frazier, the Daily Beast: After Trayvon, Conservatives Discover Black-On-Black Violence
- Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor: Race in America: Trayvon Martin, Tulsa killings raise contentious questions
- Greg Marx, Columbia Journalism Review: A Belated Hat-Tip to the Herald's Trayvon Tick-Tock
- Bill Maxwell, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times: Race is so familiar, we ignore its harm
- Glenn Minnis, blackamericaweb.com: 44 Days and Counting
- Tara Pringle Jefferson, Loop21.com: I'm Losing Hope on Justice for Trayvon
- Lee Sustar, Socialist Worker: The many other Trayvons
- Krissah Thompson and Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post: Martin killing resonates in Conn. town still trying to heal racial fissures
"The Associated Press and Google today announced the first recipients of a new national scholarship program targeted at college students whose innovative projects exemplify the new journalist in the digital media age," the groups announced on Friday.
"The Online News Association, the world’s largest membership organization of digital journalists, administers the program.
"The AP-Google Journalism and Technology Scholarship provides $20,000 scholarships for the 2012-13 academic year to six promising undergraduate or graduate students pursuing or planning to pursue degrees at the intersection of journalism, computer science and new media. A key goal is to promote geographic, gender and ethnic diversity, with an emphasis on rural and urban areas."
Among the six are Reginald James, 30, an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, studying political science and African American studies, and Katie Zhu, 20, an undergraduate at Northwestern University studying computer science and journalism.
"The conservative magazine National Review has fired John Derbyshire , a prominent columnist who provoked outrage Friday with a column published in the webzine Taki's Magazine, which warned white people to avoid 'large concentrations of blacks,' among other nuggets of racially tinged advice," Benjamin Hart and Jack Mirkinson wrote for the Huffington Post.
"Derbyshire has a history of controversy when it comes to race — he even proclaimed himself a racist, though a 'tolerant' one, in a 2003 interview — but he had managed to avoid any real firestorms. His latest piece, though, proved to be a step too far. Written in response to articles about the 'talk' black parents were having with their children about the dangers of racism in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, Derbyshire wrote about some of the offensive advice he had allegedly given his own children."
- John Derbyshire, Taki's Magazine: The Talk: Nonblack Version
Eric Burse, a student at the University of Southern California's (USC) Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, is the National Association of Black Journalists' 2012 Student Journalist of the Year, NABJ announced on Monday.
"Burse is studying broadcast and digital journalism and political science. He decided to attend the USC in 2009 because he knew in Los Angeles he could receive a well-rounded education in one of the most global markets in the world."
In addition, the Annenberg school announced, "The School of Journalism’s commitment to diversity — in hiring, enrolling, programming and community outreach — has been honored with the national Equity & Diversity Award" from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
" 'It is powerful indeed to be recognized for something so important to us at Annenberg and so essential to our craft and to our nation," Geneva Overholser, director of the school, said in a news release.
". . . Of the School's 41 fulltime faculty, 32 percent are now members of underrepresented groups or women. Meanwhile, last fall's incoming class of graduate students was the most diverse ever. And graduate curriculum revisions this year infused classwork more than ever before with assignments that focus on diversity and celebrate difference. . . . In addition, the Annenberg Diversity Initiative, 'Celebrating Difference,' produced several recommendations designed to educate students in how to cover race and class, understand the nuance and data of such stories and avoid stereotypes in coverage."
- A wake for Gil Noble, legendary host of "Like It Is" on WABC-TV in New York, is to be held from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday in Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church, where funeral services are to begin on Friday at 10 a.m. Noble died on April 5 at age 80, having suffered a stroke last year. David A. Wilson, founder of theGrio.com and a former intern at WABC, wrote Friday that there would be no Grio without Noble's inspiration. "Before my internship with Gil I had aspired to be a journalist, but he motivated me to be a black journalist. He taught me that pursuit of stories related to our struggles and triumphs were no less virtuous or important." Alfred Edmond of Black Enterprise magazine also delivered a tribute.
- Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, asked Thursday at the University of Kentucky whether he read the New York Times every day, replied, "Oh, God, no!," Jennifer Hewlett reported for the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader.
- Writing Sunday for Fox News Latino, Alexis Garcia called the term "white Hispanic" repetitive. "Forget that it's redundant. Forget that it doesn't make sense. Forget that it violates the New York Times own style guide. It just sounds good," she wrote. The U.S. Census, however, says, "People who identify their origin as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race." Gabriel Escobar might have been on to something when he wrote last month in the Dallas Morning News, "if you're a black Hispanic, you may as well be invisible. Were it not for Major League Baseball, with its huge share of black Latin players, how many people would know that black Hispanics even existed?" Garcia is a political producer and correspondent for PJTV.com.
- "The guarantee of landline telephone service at almost any address, a legal right many Americans may not even know they have, is quietly being legislated away in our U.S. state capitals," David Cay Johnston wrote March 28 for Reuters. "AT&T and Verizon, the dominant telephone companies, want to end their 99-year-old universal service obligation known as 'provider of last resort.' They say universal landline service is a costly and unfair anachronism that is no longer justified because of a competitive market for voice services." [Video]
- Syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr., writing about the declining number of journalists of color in newsrooms, recalled his own layoff in 2010. "Nearly two years later, I've never been busier, happier or more productive," he wrote. "Time that I used to spend on meetings and office politics I now dedicate to more writing. I've learned to be more creative and entrepreneurial in shaping and marketing my brand, and I'm doing more work on radio and television. I haven't reinvented myself, but I have redefined my opportunities. Along the way, I've learned the great truth that anyone who is laid off — whether it's in journalism, or any other field — should find comforting: Just because one employer doesn't want you does not mean another isn't ready to snap you up."
- Jim Asendio, who resigned in February as news director of the District of Columbia NPR affiliate WAMU-FM over an ethics issue, was asked by Scott Leadingham of the Quill ". . . The vast majority [of] the public radio audience is white, even in a majority-minority city like Washington, D.C. How, if at all, did you try to change that – to reach a broader, more diverse audience?" Asendio replied, "I had a two-pronged approach: To diversify the newsroom and then also by expanding what we covered. It’s always been my approach that whether public or commercial, the audience wants good news. It’s always been thought that public radio does long-form, audio rich pieces and commercial does breaking news. Well, commercial should do long-form, and public radio should do breaking news, traffic and weather."
- "Betty Nguyen who’s been with CBS News for the last two years, is leaving the network," Chris Ariens reported Friday for TVNewser." 'Preparing to anchor my last show on CBS News,' Nguyen [tweeted] this morning, just before anchoring the early morning 'CBS Morning News.' "
- "Norihiko Shirouzu, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal in Beijing, is leaving the paper," TalkingBizNews reported on Friday. "In an e-mail to colleagues, Shirouzu writes, 'Today is my last day at the WSJ. It’s been a great, 18-year ride, and I’ve got quite a few folks to thanks for: the people who took a big chance and hired me and helped guide me along the way as I moved from Tokyo to Detroit to Beijing. . . .' "
- " 'El Salvador is committed to guaranteeing the safety of El Faro and its staff so they can continue their investigative work,' David Rivas, spokesman for President Mauricio Funes Cartagena, told CPJ in a recent phone conversation," Carlos Lauría reported Friday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "The government's pledge came after groundbreaking reporting by the digital newspaper about secret negotiations in which local gangs, known as Maras, said they would limit murders in exchange for official concessions, like having imprisoned gang members transferred to lower-security prisons."
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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