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Michele Norris Taking Break as NPR Co-Host

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Husband Takes Top Job With Obama Re-Election Campaign

Herman Cain Aims Racial Ire at Blacks, Not Whites

James Hawkins Retiring as Dean of FAMU J-School

Carole Remick Dies at 78, Inspired High School Journalists

Where Are the Environmental Journalists of Color?

Media Columnist Asks, Why Not Occupy the Newsroom?

Ethiopia Steps Up Terrorism Allegations Against Journalists

Short Takes

Michele Norris, co-host of NPR's "All Things Considered," with Quinn O'Toole, deputy senior supervising editor of NPR West. (Credit: NPR)

Husband Takes Top Job With Obama Re-Election Campaign

Michele Norris, co-host of NPR's "All Things Considered," is taking a leave from the hosting job until after the 2012 elections because her husband, Broderick Johnson, has "has just accepted a senior advisor position with the Obama Campaign," Norris told NPR staff members on Monday.

"I will be leaving the host chair at the end of this week, but I'm not going far," she wrote. "I will be wearing a different hat for a while, producing signature segments and features and working on new reporting projects. While I will of course recuse myself from all election coverage, there's still an awful lot of ground that I can till in this interim role."

Norris is one of three black female journalists hosting NPR News shows. The others are Audie Cornish of "Weekend Edition Sunday" and Michel Martin of "Tell Me More."

NPR media reporter David Folkenflik said in a tweet that Norris "recused in '04 when Johnson aided Kerry's congressional outreach; not in 2008 when he was unpaid adviser to Obama camp."

Johnson will “serve as a national surrogate for the campaign and our representative in meetings with key leaders, communities and organizations” for the 2012 campaign, according to an announcement from Obama for America, Keach Hagey reported for Politico.

" 'Broderick joins the campaign with the insight of many years of experience in public service and on campaigns, including the 2008 campaign,' Jim Messina, Obama for America’s campaign manager, said in a statement. Broderick will be an invaluable advisor to the campaign as well as our representative at key events around the country."

Norris began hosting "All Things Considered" on Dec. 9, 2002, and in 2009 was named "Journalist of the Year" by the National Association of Black Journalists. Before coming to NPR, Norris was a correspondent for ABC News, a position she held from 1993 to 2002, according to her bio.

This is the text of Norris' message:

"Hello everyone,

"I need to share some news and I wanted to make sure my NPR family heard this first. Last week, I told news management that my husband, Broderick Johnson, has just accepted a senior advisor position with the Obama Campaign. After careful consideration, we decided that Broderick's new role could make it difficult for me to continue hosting ATC. Given the nature of Broderick's position with the campaign and the impact that it will most certainly have on our family life, I will temporarily step away from my hosting duties until after the 2012 elections. I will be leaving the host chair at the end of this week, but I'm not going far. I will be wearing a different hat for a while, producing signature segments and features and working on new reporting projects. While I will of course recuse myself from all election coverage, there's still an awful lot of ground that I can till in this interim role.

"This has all happened very quickly, but working closely with NPR management, we’ve been able to make a plan that serves the show, honors the integrity of our news organization and is best for me professionally and personally.

"I will certainly miss hosting, but I will remain part of the ATC team and I look forward to contributing to our show and NPR in new and exciting ways.

"My very best,


Norris' announcement follows an ethics controversy at the network involving freelancer Lisa Simeone. Last week, NPR said it would no longer distribute "World of Opera" as a result of host Simeone's activities with an Occupy D.C. protest group, as David Zurawik reported in the Baltimore Sun.

"WDAV, the North Carolina classical music station that produces the show, said it will keep Simeone as host and try to distribute the show on its own. About 60 NPR member [stations] had been carrying the show. WDAV is licensed to Davidson College, a school of about 1,800 students, according to station spokeswoman Lisa Gray.

" 'Our view is it's a potential conflict of interest for any journalist or any individual who plays a public role on behalf of NPR to take an active part in a political movement or advocacy campaign,' NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm told The Associated Press. 'Doing so has the potential to compromise our reputation as an organization that strives to be impartial and unbiased.'

"On Wednesday, Simeone was fired as host from the public-radio documentary show 'Soundprint.' The reason given by the Laurel [Md.]-based production company, according to Simeone, is that she had violated NPR's Ethics Code. Simeone told the Sun that she does not believe she has, because she is not functioning as an NPR journalist."

Herman Cain arrived at Godfather's Pizza in 1986 and left as CEO in 1996.

Herman Cain Aims Racial Ire at Blacks, Not Whites

"Herman Cain scanned his overwhelmingly white tea party audience, jammed into a hall at a rural fairgrounds, and offered his assessment," Sandhya Somashekhar wrote Friday for the Washington Post from Waverly, Tenn.

" 'I see 3,000 patriots here tonight,' he boomed, the crowd leaping to its feet. 'I don’t see any racists!' " Somashekhar continued in a piece that examined Cain's posture toward racial issues.

"Cain relishes the opportunity to provoke as a black conservative. The Republican presidential hopeful often volunteers in his speeches that he is not angry at the country that enslaved his great-grandparents. He proclaims that he 'left the Democrat plantation a long time ago.' He quips that he is not the GOP’s 'flavor of the week' but a tried-and-true flavor, 'black walnut.'

"Four years after Barack Obama campaigned for president, steering clear of provocative statements about race, Cain has floated to the top of presidential polls doing just the opposite. He jokes about race with irreverence. And he aims his ire not at whites but at blacks he believes have become irrationally attached to the Democratic Party."

James Hawkins Retiring as Dean of FAMU J-School

James Hawkins is retiring as dean of School of Journalism & Graphic Communication at Florida A&M University, and a search committee meets Wednesday to begin selecting a successor, Valencia Matthews, an assistant dean who is heading the committee, told Journal-isms on Monday.

James Hawkins"The members of the committee are primarily faculty members. Two SJGC students will be appointed to the Committee," Matthews, director of FAMU's Essential Theatre and an assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said in an email.

Hawkins, 62, named in 2004 to succeed founding dean Robert Ruggles, is only the second dean at the school, one of the leading journalism schools at a historically black college. Ruggles started the journalism program in 1974 and became dean of the new school in 1982.

"We have more than 700 students in the school; almost 600 in journalism and the rest are in graphic communication," he told Journal-isms.

The student newspaper, the Famuan, reported on Oct. 9:

"Hawkins has been with Florida A&M for 34 years and spent eight of them as dean of SJGC.

". . . he does know the type of person the SJGC will need in order to excel.

" 'They have to be a person of energy, a person of vision,' Hawkins said.

"Once retired, Hawkins plans on keeping himself busy working on a screenplay and traveling around the world to play 12 golf courses he has been yearning to tee off on.

"SJGC Knight Chair in Journalism Joe Ritchie is one of the individuals appointed as a member of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication Search Committee.

"Ritchie has been a professor in SJGC for 19 years and has an idea of what qualifications candidates need to fulfill the job description of dean of SJGC.

" 'SJGC is in need of someone who will not only oversee the school, but implement programs and staff that are going to take charge in the growth and prosperity of the school,' said Ritchie.

" 'Due to the many budget cuts, the loss of the IT professional, as well as TV 20 staff and accreditation issues, SJGC has seen hard times.

" 'We need someone [who] is going to come in and do more than just tread water. We need someone [who] will help us move forward. ' "

Gathering at the 20th anniversary celebration of the New England High School Journalism Collaborative, held at Regis College in Weston, Mass., in June 2007, were current and past program participants, their high school teachers and the professionals who served as writing and technical coaches. (Courtesy Carole Remick)

Carole Remick Dies at 78, Inspired High School Journalists

Carole Remick, who once described herself as "an old white lady who believes in sparking young people to exceed themselves," died Oct. 18 at age 78 at the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers, Mass., after battling cancer.

Carole RemickThis columnist learned of Remick's work in 2007, when students, journalists and colleagues nominated her for the Barry Bingham Sr. fellowship, the National Conference of Editorial Writers' award to educators who have advanced journalism diversity, primarily at the college level.

"She's the founder of what was once the Dow Jones High School Journalism workshop, more recently the New England High School Journalism Collaborative, and has really single-handedly kept it going for years. That has often included writing checks for as much as $5,000 out of her own account while the Globe and Herald kick in a few hundred bucks or so," Robin Washington, editor of the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune who spent time at the Boston Herald and the weekly Bay State Banner, wrote then.

"All the current and former Boston folk have been involved over the years, particularly Michelle Johnson, Zack Dowdy, Jason Johnson, Derrick [Z. Jackson], me and my entire family and you name them, but most impressive are the alumni, which includes *working journalists* (one here in Minnesota at the Strib) of color who all got inspired to enter the business from one week in their lives after their junior or senior year of high school."

"Her college credentials are impeccable, but the work I want to recognize is of her high school programs, one of which, in addition to the workshop, was to create a city-wide high school newspaper for Boston public schools that didn't have one," Washington said of Remick, who began the workshop while an English professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

The tributes flowed. "I have never witnessed an educator with so much passion for his or her work. Mrs. Remick has enriched the lives of literally HUNDREDS of high school and college students, forever leaving her mark on journalism by preaching the value of diversity and innovation," said Aaron Pickering, a former student and resident adviser.

Jackson, a Boston Globe columnist, wrote, "High school youth aspiring to be journalists could have no more tenacious an advocate than Carole Remick. She is a one-of-a-kind dynamo who made you remember that you stood on the shoulders of others and had to give back, through mentoring the next generation."

When the Dow Jones program came under fire, Remick wrote to this columnist about lessons learned outside journalism. "Listen to what former program alumni have had to say in this program, and all of us will understand an important lesson in the meaning of 'diversity,' she advised.

"Roystone Martinez spoke with this year's group. He said that he appears to be African-American because of his color. However, he learned that his family came from Honduras of African ancestry. He identifies himself as Latino! He graduated from West Roxbury High, which is predominantly minority and went on to BC [Boston College], which is predominantly white. Had he not been in our program, he says he would not have had the confidence to continue in that environment."

A memorial funeral Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. Nov. 5 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 85 Atlantic Ave., Marblehead, Mass.

Remick did not win the Bingham fellowship that year; judges decided it should be reserved for work with college students.

Washington still wishes it were otherwise. He told Journal-isms by email on Monday, "Although I had wished this recognition not to have been posthumous, her legacy, living on in her gifted journalistic progeny, is no less inspiring than when she was with us. I hope we do honor her with the Bingham Award so that others can see the immense difference one dedicated person can make."

Where Are the Environmental Journalists of Color?

"Where are the environmental journalists of color?" headlined a blog post Friday by Emilia Askari, writing from the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference in Miami.

"Some of us were at a network lunch table today devoted to discussion of how SEJ can help increase the diversity of voices reporting the news and serving as news sources.

"The discussion, led by Ayana Meade, co-chair of SEJ's diversity task force, included four current SEJ board members, two former board members, one Latino scientist, three journalists who had been laid off, one member who joined last week, two members who were at SEJ's first conference 21 years ago, several African American journalists, several European American journalists, one Canadian and French journalist, one Middle Eastern American journalist, several freelancers and two news entrepreneurs.

"It was a diverse group. But it wasn't really big enough to fully address the issues. We need your help."

Some ideas advanced:

  • "Steve Curwood of Living on Earth suggested that SEJ should try hosting a future conference at a historically black college or university — or possibly at such an institution that partners with other nearby colleges and universities. . . . 

  • "Emilio Bruna, a plant ecologist and speaker from the University of Florida, suggested that we might want to pull together a directory of experts of color who could be quoted on environmental issues . . . 

  • "Ayana Meade reported that SEJ's task force has an open [listserve] for SEJ members and anyone else who might be interested in discussing issues of diversity and environmental journalism. . . .

  • "Curwood offered several excellent suggestions about where to get funding to bring professional and student journalists of color to SEJ conferences . . . 

  • "Noting that indigenous people are often involved in environmental stories yet are rarely represented in significant numbers at SEJ conferences, we wondered if it might be possible to seek grants to change that situation. 

  • "We also wondered if it would be possible to ask SEJ members to list the other journalism groups to which they belong. That way we could ask SEJ members who might be going to the conventions of the four largest journalists-of-color organizations to spread around some SEJ membership forms and SEJournals.

  • "Those four organizations are the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association. Next August, three of them (all except NABJ) are meeting jointly in August. We wondered if SEJ could have a presence at this convention, called Unity, which happens just once every four years."

Roger Witherspoon, a veteran black journalist, was voted onto the board of directors.

Media Columnist Asks, Why Not Occupy the Newsroom?

"Almost two weeks ago, USA Today put its finger on why the Occupy Wall Street protests continued to gain traction," David Carr wrote Monday for the New York Times.

" 'The bonus system has gone beyond a means of rewarding talent and is now Wall Street’s primary business,' the newspaper editorial stated, adding: 'Institutions take huge gambles because the short-term returns are a rationale for their rich payouts. But even when the consequences of their risky behavior come back to haunt them, they still pay huge bonuses.'

"Well thought and well put, but for one thing: If you were looking for bonus excess despite miserable operations, the best recent example I can think of is Gannett, which owns USA Today.

"The week before the editorial ran, Craig A. Dubow resigned as Gannett’s chief executive. His short six-year tenure was, by most accounts, a disaster. Gannett’s stock price declined to about $10 a share from a high of $75 the day after he took over; the number of employees at Gannett plummeted to 32,000 from about 52,000, resulting in a remarkable diminution in journalistic boots on the ground at the 82 newspapers the company owns.

"Never a standout in journalism performance, the company strip-mined its newspapers in search of earnings, leaving many communities with far less original, serious reporting.

"Given that legacy, it was about time Mr. Dubow was shown the door, right? Not in the current world we live in. Not only did Mr. Dubow retire under his own power because of health reasons, he got a mash note from Marjorie Magner, a member of Gannett’s board, who said without irony that 'Craig championed our consumers and their ever-changing needs for news and information.'

"But the board gave him far more than undeserved plaudits. Mr. Dubow walked out the door with just under $37.1 million in retirement, health and disability benefits. That comes on top of a combined $16 million in salary and bonuses in the last two years. . . ."

Swedish journalists took turns chaining themselves in front of Kronoberg Prison in Stockholm to raise awareness of the imprisonment of three colleagues held in the Horn of Africa. Shown are freelance journalists Casper Hedberg and Jacob Zocherman. (Credit: Journalisternas Solidariska Fängelseaktion/Committee to Protect Journalists)

Ethiopia Steps Up Terrorism Allegations Against Journalists

"Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi last week accused journalists in the country of being 'messengers' with 'terrorist' groups, while a state newspaper accused the chief editor of an independent publication of having terrorist ties and called on security forces to 'take action' against him. The Committee to Protect Journalists today said it condemns this campaign of intimidation against the private press," the committee said on Monday.

"In comments Thursday to Ethiopia's ruling party-controlled Parliament, Zenawi said many journalists in Ethiopia are working with 'terrorist' groups as 'messengers.' He claimed the government has evidence linking imprisoned journalists to terrorist acts and is aware of other journalists working in Ethiopia with terrorist ties, local journalists told CPJ.

"Since June, government authorities have arrested six independent journalists on alleged terrorism charges including Awramba Times Deputy Editor Woubshet Taye, Feteh columnist Reyot Alemu, freelance journalists Eskinder Nega and Sileshi Hagos and two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye. Referring to Ethiopia's private press as 'vagabonds,' Zenawi accused the private press of not understanding their profession, according to local reports."

Short Takes

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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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