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Media Share in Historic Thaw With Cuba

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

More Journalists No Longer Will Need U.S. License to Travel

N.Y. Times Departures Further Whiten Culture Section

What About the "Torture" in Our Own Prisons?

NABJ Leader Says His Cosby Quotes Were Sensationalized

Washington Post Ending "She the People" Blog

Gates' "The African Americans" Wins DuPont-Columbia Award

Fox News Audience Is 1 Percent Black

Services for Sports Writer Bryan Burwell Are SRO

Short Takes

More Journalists No Longer Will Need U.S. License to Travel

"More than 20 trips in nearly 20 years of covering Cuba paid off for ABC's Jim Avila this morning when he broke the news that American contractor Alan Gross would be released from a Cuban prison," Chris Ariens reported Wednesday for TVNewser.

"But it didn't stop there. Gross's freedom, in exchange for the release of the remaining so-called 'Cuban Five' was the key to re-starting diplomatic relations with the island nation just 90 miles from Key West.

" 'I was told early on that this was not just going to be a prisoner exchange,' Avila told TVNewser from Havana, where he'd just arrived.

" 'We had information that Gross would be released this week, for about a month,' Avila says. 'We held it back at the request of both the White House and the attorney representing Alan Gross for fear that it would cost him his life. That's why we were able to break it first.' . . ."

President Obama's historic announcement Wednesday also included news specifically for journalists.

When new regulations are issued and restrictions are eased further, more journalists will be allowed to travel to Cuba without applying for a license, according to a Treasury Department spokeswoman. However, Juan Jacomino, press officer for the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, told Journal-isms by email that "journalists will still need a journalist visa to go and do work in Cuba."

Peter Baker reported for the New York Times, "President Obama on Wednesday ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century as he vowed to 'cut loose the shackles of the past' and sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.

"The surprise announcement came at the end of 18 months of secret negotiations that produced a prisoner swap brokered with the help of Pope Francis and concluded by a telephone call between Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro. The historic deal broke an enduring stalemate between two countries divided by just 90 miles of water but oceans of mistrust and hostility dating from the days of Theodore Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill and the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cuban missile crisis. . . ."

Karen De Young added for the Washington Post, "In addition to Gross, whom the Obama administration said was freed on humanitarian grounds after five years, the United States exchanged the three Cubans for an unnamed U.S. intelligence asset said to have been held in Cuba for two decades.

"The inclusion in the deal of the U.S. spy, a Cuban national, appeared to have been the break that allowed it to go through. Cuba had long offered to release Gross in a swap for its imprisoned intelligence agents; the administration had long refused on the grounds that Gross, a subcontractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was not a spy and should be released without conditions.

"Gross left Cuba on Wednesday morning aboard a U.S. government aircraft, accompanied by his wife and several members of Congress who had long pushed for his release. . . ."

Spanish-language media were quick to embrace the story, but anchor Scott Pelley reported from Havana for the "CBS Evening News" and Obama gave an interview to anchor David Muir of ABC's "World News Tonight." Portions of the interview were to air additionally on Thursday's "Good Morning America."

A Univision spokesman maintained that his network had "the most comprehensive coverage of the new chapter in U.S.-Cuban relations."

"Univision's coverage started today at 8:30 a.m. ET in the news segments of Despierta América," Jose Zamora, vice president, strategic communications, news, told Journal-isms by email. "Univision broke into its programming coast to coast from 12 p.m. ET to 12:27 p.m. ET to air President Obama's statement on Cuba. Univision also aired President Raúl Castro’s remarks on the subject."

Zamora also said, "Univision 23 Miami aired Alan Gross' statement live and had breaking news with the reactions of the Hispanic community." He said that "Univision 23 Miami and Univision 41 New York, two of the local Univision media stations that provide news and information to two of the largest Cuban-American communities in the U.S., will air special editions of their newscasts in addition to their regular newscast," and that "Univision 23 Miami will air a special edition on U.S.-Cuban relations today from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., before [its] regular 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. newscast. Univision 41 New York will air its special edition from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., before its regular 6 p.m. newscast. . . ."

Camilo Pino, a spokesman for Telemundo, said, "We broke the news at 9 AM and have been offering updates since then, including reactions and analysis. We interrupt our programming to run the Presidential speech live and are planning to dedicate the newscast to the latest developments."

In South Florida, home of the largest number of Cuban Americans, the Miami Herald editorialized listing eight points, concluding that "All who yearn to see freedom in Cuba can only hope this gamble pays off."

The South Florida SunSentinel was also supportive of the president's action. "For a new approach to creating change in Cuba, let us take advantage of the opportunity that presented itself Wednesday," it editorialized.

Individual journalists with Cuban ties also weighed in. Mark Joyella of TVNewser quoted CNN correspondent Patrick Oppmann, who said, "I have lived in Cuba for the last three years as the only American TV correspondent based here."

Joyella also wrote, " 'Many Cubans have had little exposure to Americans,' Oppmann said. 'Most of what they read in the Cuban state press is negative and stuck in a Cold War time warp. Still Cubans have treated me, my wife and our two young children with incredible warmth. Today my Cuban friends reacted with joy at the idea of a normalized U.S.-Cuban relationship. Some cried tears. I can only hope – despite their years of struggle — a better future awaits them.”

DeWayne Wickham, who has taken delegations of journalists and journalism students to Cuba for years, had urged Gross' release as recently as Dec. 8, when he urged the U.S. government to undertake a pre-emptive strike to free him. In a column posted Wednesday night, Wickham wrote, "When historians write about this chapter of American history, there should be no doubt that this is Obama's victory, one that was culled from his determination to snuff out this last vestige of the Cold War. This impasse that he has all but dismantled is the last brick of the Berlin Wall. It's the final pole of the Bamboo Curtain; the armistice that never came after the Bay of Pigs debacle. . . ."

Rick Sanchez, a former CNN anchor who writes for Fox News Latino, told readers, "For 53 years, I have wondered if this day would ever come. And now that it has, I can't help thinking of my mom and dad. I’m grateful they have lived long enough to see it. . . ."

N.Y. Times Departures Further Whiten Culture Section

The New York Times is laying off two black female reporters and leaving its Culture section devoid of journeymen black journalists as it continues to implement plans to reduce its newsroom staff by 100 via buyouts and layoffs, staffers told Journal-isms on Wednesday.

Departing are Metro reporter Kia Gregory, who is being laid off after arriving at the paper in 2012 from Philadelphia; longtime reporter Felicia R. Lee, the only black reporter in the Culture section, also being laid off; and Fletcher Roberts, the pop music editor, who is taking a buyout. All are African Americans.

In addition, Maria Newman, a senior editor in the food section, who is Latina, is taking a buyout.

The departure of the journalists of color from the Culture section — along with three members of the section's support staff — comes three months after the Times was embarrassed by an uproar over an Arts & Leisure story by Alessandra Stanley that referred to TV producer Shonda Rhimes in connection with the stereotype of the "Angry Black Woman."

Executive Editor Dean Baquet "told me that he sees a problem with diversity in some areas of the newsroom, including among the 20 cultural critics, where there are only two persons of color — the chief book critic, Michiko Kakutani, and a TV critic, Mike Hale — and no black critics," public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote then.

Sullivan concluded, "There's an opportunity for meaningful change here. This contentious chapter may not seem like a welcome gift to anyone involved. But if The Times takes it seriously – looking hard at its diversity and its editing practices — it can be exactly that."

Culture Editor Danielle Mattoon did not respond to a request for comment. Stanley did not take the buyout, nor has she been laid off.

The Newspaper Guild of New York wrote in a memo Monday, "Despite having announced its target of reducing newsroom staff by 100 — and accepting the buyout applications of 57 Guild members and nearly 30 excluded employees — The Times told the Guild on Monday that it would lay off another 21 Guild-represented employees this week. Whatever the total (the number of excluded employees to be laid off is not known at this time), the company clearly will exceed its stated goal of 100 job cuts."

The memo also said, "Management's decision to exceed its announced goal of 100 newsroom job cuts comes after it turned down the buyout requests of three Guild- represented employees, hired numerous new employees over past six months and made no effort to retrain long-term employees . . .," according to Chris O'Shea, writing for FishbowlNY on Tuesday.

Lee, who has been at the Times since 1988, told Journal-isms by telephone, "I think I'd probably have a good book or two in me; I might try some teaching and just see what the possibilities are, and use the skills I've learned" at the Times. She praised her colleagues as "a good bunch of people. Fantastic. It's been my honor to work with such a superb group. They're losing a lot of talent."

Newman told Journal-isms by email, "I've been a reporter and editor since I was in college, so I'm looking forward to [doing] something different now with my writing, editing and management skills. The financial offer from the buyout was so terrific, that it's like the Times is giving me money to go off and reinvent myself. Change is good. I have also worked at seven different newspapers in my career, so I think it was time for a change."

Roberts said he plans to remain at the newspaper until mid-February.

Gregory could not be reached. She came to the Times in 2012 after four years at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she was a general assignment on the Metro desk, particularly covering the city's neighborhoods. At the Times, her first assignment was to cover Harlem.

As reported on Dec. 10, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Ozier Muhammad, veteran photojournalist Chester Higgins Jr. and Ruby Washington, also an African American photographer, are among others taking buyouts.

Andrew Beaujon reported Dec. 8 that Nadia Taha, a senior staff editor at the Times' blog The Upshot, is taking the buyout. Taha is Palestinian-American and Muslim, a rarity in the Times newsroom.

"She plans to join PETA’s Investigative, Legal and Corporate division in Los Angeles, she tells Poynter in an email. She’ll do media outreach for the group's 'serious corporate and undercover work,' she writes, including 'the psychological abuse of monkeys in NIH-funded experiments and the doping of racehorses by one of the country's top trainers.' Taha says she's 'looking forward to trying to uncover the aspects of these issues that matter to newsrooms and their audiences. In that sense it’s not all that different from my work in news presentation at The Times.' "

What About the "Torture" in Our Own Prisons?

Amid a discussion Sunday on the Senate report on the CIA's interrogation techniques, released last week, commentator George Will told his "Fox News Sunday" colleagues, "Let me say one more thing. I hope the argument we are having about torture is going to seep over into domestic life because there's a widespread practice in American prisons nowadays of prolonged solitary confinement, which has deranging effects on people and is I think indistinguishable from torture."

It's not the first time Will has called attention to solitary confinement as torture. The data available suggests that the harsh conditions solitary confinement imposes are, in many states, "probably disproportionately affecting prisoners of color," Margo Schlanger, a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School, wrote in November 2013.

Nor is Will's the only voice. Wilbert Rideau, the award-winning prison journalist who spent 44 years in Louisiana prisons before being freed in 2005, wrote in a 2013 New York Times op-ed:

"I know something about solitary confinement, because I've been there. I spent a total of 12 years in various solitary confinement cells. And I can tell you that isolating a human being for years in a barren cell the size of a small bathroom is the cruelest thing you can do to a person.

Wilbert Rideau

"Deprived of all human contact, you lose your feeling of connectedness to the world. You lose your ability to make small talk, even with the guard who shoves your meal through the slot in the door. You live entirely in your head, for there is nothing else. You talk to yourself, answer yourself. You become paranoid, depressed, sleepless. To ward off madness, you must give your mind something to do. In 1970, I counted the 358 rivets that held my steel cell together, over and over. Every time the walls seemed to be closing in on me, I counted them again, to give my mind something to fasten on to. . . ."

Last month, the United Nations Committee Against Torture declared that states need "to make numerous changes to bring . . . security policies and domestic law enforcement practices fully into line with an international treaty banning torture and cruel treatment," Nick Cumming-Bruce reported for the New York Times.

"Conditions in maximum security jails and the facilities' 'particularly severe' solitary confinement policies were another area of concern for the panel. It cited deaths from extreme heat in poorly ventilated prison facilities in six states. It also pointed to solitary confinement regimes that kept prisoners in their cells 22 or 23 hours a day, in some cases for 30 years or more," Cumming-Bruce reported.

NABJ Leader Says His Cosby Quotes Were Sensationalized

"The National Association of Black Journalists is responding to Bill Cosby's call for the black media to remain neutral as an avalanche of rape accusations mount against the comedian," Jordan Chariton reported Tuesday for TheWrap.

" 'Black media, in fact all media should remain neutral,' Bob Butler, President of the National Association of Black Journalists told TheWrap Tuesday. 'As journalists, that's what we do, we go in with an open mind and we look to report the story, and I think that's what's being done.'

"In Butler's opinion, Cosby shouldn't even be referencing black media.

" 'I don't see this as a racial issue. This is an issue of journalists who are reporting on allegations and asking for comments. That's what we're trained to do. We look at both sides of the story. One side of the story are people making allegations, and it’s our responsibility to try and find out what his response is.'

"Cosby recently broke his silence, saying: 'I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind.' . . ."

Asked whether he was quoted accurately in the piece, headlined, "Bill Cosby Ripped by National Association of Black Journalists: Not a Racial Issue," Butler responded that some headlines, such as that one, distorted and sensationalized what he said. "The quotes are accurate. The headlines and the way they [write] into the quotes are not," he told Journal-isms by email. "I said I agreed with him that (all) reporters should be neutral.

"I never 'ripped' Cosby and never 'opined' on whether he was right or wrong. I was asked several times why I think Cosby said what he did and I responded that I can't speak for Cosby."

Cosby's lawyers said Monday that freelance journalist Stacy M. Brown, whose story about his telephone conversation with Cosby appeared over the weekend in the New York Post and Washington Informer, did not tell him he was recording the brief conversation or planned to report on it. 

Washington Post Ending "She the People" Blog

The Washington Post is ending its "She the People" blog, an attempt to address the paucity of female voices offering  opinion on its pages, Cameron Barr, the Post's national editor confirmed Wednesday.

Barr did not give a reason for ending the blog except to say, "We’re always evaluating our blogs. We've added many, and we've eliminated some in the past."

"She the People" wasn't just any blog, however. In 2008, the late Deborah Howell, then ombudsman of the Post, bluntly told readers: "The Post's op-ed page is too male and too white. And there aren't a lot of youthful opinions, either."

Howell took a count in May of that year: "The 2008 numbers as of Wednesday: 654 op-ed pieces — 575 by men, 79 by women and about 80 by minorities."

Nicholas Kristof, op-ed columnist at the New York Times, picked up on Howell's theme in his blog: "This lack of diversity is, frankly, a broader problem with American punditry in general, from newspaper columnists to television talking heads to writers of letters to the editor. American journalism is becoming much more representative of the country, in terms of race and gender, but opinion pages still tend to be preserves of white men."

A breakthrough occurred in January 2012 when the Post announced "She The People" as a new website section. Melinda Henneberger, founder and editor-in-chief of AOL's Politics Daily, was its founding editor. She had spent 10 years at the New York Times as a Washington correspondent and Rome bureau chief. It was not a product of the op-ed pages that Howell called out, but it provided women with an outlet for opinion pieces all the same.

"According to comScore, only 42% of U.S. readers of political news sites are female, compared to 51% of all online adults, suggesting women have been under-represented by political sites and in political reporting," Raju Narisetti, then a Post managing editor, announced at the site's founding. "The Washington Post believes 'She the People' will give a distinct platform to unique female voices who have interesting perspectives to share."

Barr said in his statement, "Since its founding three years ago, She the People has provided an enlightening and engaging platform for writing on the intersection of women and politics, helping to raise the profile of women's issues during the last presidential campaign. The blog benefited greatly from the work of contributors across the country and inside our newsroom who added their distinctive voices to discussions of politics and other issues. We’re very appreciative of their fine work.

"We're always evaluating our blogs. We've added many, and we've eliminated some in the past.

"We're now redirecting the resources we've used to support She the People toward other projects, including efforts to cover race and gender in American politics and other arenas. We're gratified that many of the issues and perspectives that the blog brought forward are now a bigger part of the national debate."

Asked about current "She the People" editor Vanessa Williams, a deputy national editor, and the freelance writers who contributed, Barr said by email, "I can't respond to questions about individuals."

For a decade, Harriet Tubman returned to the South approximately 13 times and he

Gates' "The African Americans" Wins DuPont-Columbia Award

Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism Wednesday announced 14 winners of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, including an award for WNET-TV's six-part historical series, "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates"(video).

The series, which ran on PBS, "eloquently and artfully tells the epic story of African Americans, from the slave trade in Africa to the 16th presidency of the United States five centuries later. The jury awarded a duPont for work that is 'visually and narratively innovative and breaks the mold of the historical PBS documentary,' " the announcement said.

The university also announced, "Investigative journalism will win seven awards spread across network television, radio, online and at the local level, most often in overlapping platforms. Four awards will go to local television news investigations, including reporting by KPNX 12 News, Phoenix; WFTS-TV, Tampa; WLTX-TV, Columbia [S.C.]; and WTSP 10 News, Tampa Bay.

"Public broadcasting is also well represented, including FRONTLINE from WGBH for two awards; . . . two duPonts for NPR; and locally, a silver baton for Minnesota Public Radio's reporting on sexual abuse in the Twin Cities' Catholic Church.

"Innovative interactive digital entries from NPR and The Seattle Times will each receive an award. CNN’s 'WEED: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports,' will also be awarded a duPont. Two feature-length documentaries will be honored with a duPont Award, including the first win for the Internet streaming service Netflix. . . ."

Fox News Audience Is 1 Percent Black

"Nielsen's annual look at the racial breakdown of cable news viewers has arrived and once again there are some seriously sharp difference between the big three networks when it comes to the diversity of their viewers," Matt Wilstein reported Monday for Mediaite.

"During the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m., MSNBC's audience is 24% black, CNN's audience is 16% black and Fox News' audience is just 1% black. By comparison MSNBC's primetime audience is 67% white while CNN’s is 73% white and Fox News’ is 92% white.

"According to the 2010 census, 72% of Americans identify as 'white alone' while 13% say they are 'black or African-American.' That means that both CNN and MSNBC are overrepresented when it comes to black viewers, while Fox News is vastly underrepresented.

"Using November 2014 as an example, Fox News averaged 2.082M total viewers in primetime, compared to 653K for CNN and 605K for CNN. That means that Fox had an average of about 20,820 African-Americans watching on a nightly basis. For CNN, that number was approximately 104,480 and for MSNBC it was 145,200. So even with an audience that more than doubles its competitors, Fox had far fewer black viewers than the other two networks. . . ."

Services for Sports Writer Bryan Burwell Are SRO

"I'm sure that Bryan Burwell would have been pleased at the way the Sports Task Force showed its love for him and support for his family during his wake and memorial service Wednesday and yesterday in St. Louis," Ron Thomas, director of Morehouse College's Journalism and Sports Program, wrote his colleagues in the National Association of Black Journalists on Friday.

Burwell, a longtime sports columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, died at 59 on Dec. 4 after a short battle with cancer.

"I was the STF's official representative," Thomas continued, "and spoke for about 10 minutes at the memorial service about Bryan being a pioneer in our business in so many ways — as a black reporter and then columnist, as one of the first print reporters to cross over to TV, and as a multimedia journalist who mastered the podcast.

"I was so proud of the way black sports journalists showed out for Burwell. From all over the country, here's who I know came to the wake or funeral: J.A. Adande, David Aldridge, James Brown, Mike Claiborne (a St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster), Larry Fitzgerald, Ray Richardson, Bill Rhoden, Stephen A. Smith, Larry Starks, Michael Wilbon and Steve Wyche. In addition, NFL PR directors Tony Wyllie (Washington) and Ted Crews (Kansas City) attended. I apologize if I missed anyone. In addition, many St. Louis sports journalists who are not black, along with Rams coach Jeff Fisher (on a game day), paid their respects.

"There was a long line of Bryan's friends at the wake for several hours Wednesday, and Thursday the chapel, which holds 120 people, was packed, plus about four rows of people standing in the back. Yes, Burwell drew an SRO crowd, and his family truly appreciated it.

"About a dozen people shared their memories of Burwell, some poignant, many hilarious. I want to share with you my closing remark because of all of the comments that were made, I think this is the one Burwell would have been most proud of. It comes from a J.A. Adande posting to our list serve, and it's worth repeating:

" 'Just because Bryan has written his last words doesn't mean his voice has been silenced. If you write fearlessly, if you care about the way you craft your sentences, if you can elicit anger, laughs and tears from your readers, if you command the trust and respect of your column's subjects, you'll be writing like Burwell. That's a lofty goal, one worth aspiring to.' "

Short Takes

  • "The Committee to Protect Journalists identified 220 journalists in jail around the world in 2014, an increase of nine from 2013," Shazdeh Omari reported Wednesday for the press-freedom group. "The tally marks the second-highest number of journalists in jail since CPJ began taking an annual census of imprisoned journalists in 1990, and highlights a resurgence of authoritarian governments in countries such as China, Ethiopia, Burma, and Egypt. . . ."

  • "The massive Sony hack has left editors with a decision sure to be studied in media ethics classes for years to come: Should journalists report on materials stolen from a corporation by hackers? " Michael Calderone wrote Wednesday for the Huffington Post. "The New York Times, for one, has covered revelations from the hacked Sony emails, but only after they've first been made public by other news organizations. Executive editor Dean Baquet said Monday it 'would be a disservice to our readers to pretend' that already-surfaced documents 'weren't revealing and public.' . . ."

  • "We have hired Tasneem Raja to be our Senior Digital Editor, and she is a catch!" Lynette Clemetson, NPR director of editorial initiatives, and Carline Watson, executive producer of NPR's Culture and Identity Unit, wrote to staffers on Thursday. "Tasneem comes to us from Mother Jones, where, as a senior editor with a focus on data-driven journalism, she currently leads an award-winning team of digital reporters and producers who push the boundaries of storytelling on the web. . . . Called 'one of the smartest people on Twitter' by Fast Company, Tasneem is a leading voice in the conversation on gender, race, and tech culture. . . ." [Added Dec. 18]

  • Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, a group of Native parents and their allies from across the United States and Canada, announced Monday it has launched "a grassroots effort to get Redface out of stadiums after surviving backlash in July for successfully getting Redface banned in AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA. Native groups point to the 2005 the American Psychological Association findings and Center for Disease Control statistics as evidence of the negativity surrounding Redface, a hallmark of Native mascotry. . . ."

  • Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post and MSNBC and Harris Faulkner of Fox News Channel were among Mediaite's list of the "Top 9 Rising Stars of Cable News," the website announced on Monday.

  • "The University of Missouri at Columbia's School of Journalism was once again far and away the No. 1 choice as the top J-school in the country in the annual NewsPro-RTDNA Top Journalism Schools poll of news professionals," Tom Gilbert wrote Tuesday for NewsPro/TVWeek. "Missouri handily claimed the top spot in the 2014 survey, trailed by second-place University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and third-place Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. . . ."

  • "BET Networks vet Stephen Hill has been promoted to the Viacom cabler’s top programming post," Cynthia Littleton reported Tuesday for Variety. "Hill fills the void left earlier this year when Loretha Jones exited after a six-year run as head of programming. Hill has been with BET for more than 15 years and most recently served as prez of music programming and specials. He's supervised the growth of the cabler's live events and specials such as the BET Awards and 'Black Girls Rock.' . . ." 

  • "A majority of Americans now say that race relations in the United States are bad, according to the latest NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll, which showed the most pessimistic assessment of racial issues in almost two decades," Carrie Dann reported Wednesday for NBC News. "In the wake of protests over the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police, just four in ten Americans told pollsters that they believe race relations in the United States are 'good,' while 57 percent disagreed. And nearly a quarter — 23 percent — classified the current state of the country's racial issues as 'very bad.' . . ."

  • "President and Michelle Obama personally identify with everyday experiences of racial bias in America that have underpinned recent protests across the country, they told People magazine in an interview to be released Friday," Devin Dwyer reported Wednesday for ABC News. " 'Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs,' Michelle Obama told the magazine. "On one occasion, she said, her husband 'was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee.' President Obama said he's even been mistakenly treated as a valet. . . ."  Account challenged.

  • NPR's "On the Media" this week features "A special hour from Liberia, where Ebola figures into every issue, in ways both painful and profound. Brooke [Gladstone] and OTM producer Meara Sharma shadow reporters at FrontPage Africa, the country's finest paper, to see how Liberia's story is reported by Liberians themselves. . . ."

  • In Indianapolis, "WISH weekend evening anchor and reporter Daniel Miller . . . is departing the station, sources said, for a job with the Fox affiliate in Boston," Anthony Schoettle reported for Indianapolis Business Journal. His departure and that of reporter Jessica Hayes "came on the heels of WISH laying off a handful of off-camera employees earlier this month in what appears to be part of a restructuring effort prompted in August when CBS officials decided to change their local affiliation from WISH to WTTV. . . ."

  • In St. Louis County, former KSDK anchor and reporter Cordell Whitlock will serve as director of communications for St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenge, Steve Giegerich reported for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Mike James added on his subscription-only NewsBlues site, "Whitlock is the godson of former CBS correspondent Ed Bradley. Turns out, Whitlock got his start in broadcasting as an intern with Bill Cosby's production company, Cosby (CSC) Corporation. Cosby later supported Whitlock's decision to move into local news as a reporter at WRDW-12-CBS in Augusta . . ."

  • "Reynaldo Paz Mayes, a Honduran television station owner and news presenter, was shot dead on Monday (15 December) while exercising in an outdoor sporting complex," Roy Greenslade reported for Britain's Guardian newspaper. "Paz, 48, was the owner and founder of a small local television station, RPM TV Canal 28, in the city of Comayagua in central Honduras, where he hosted a daily news programme. During his broadcasts, he gave vocal support to the opposition political party LIBRE and criticised the 2009 coup that ousted the former president, Manuel Zelaya. . . ."

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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