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Mimi Valdés Exits as Editor of Latina

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Upscale Approach Didn't Boost Circulation, Ad Pages

Full-Front-Page Editorial Castigates Arizona Politicians

Two Asian Americans, 2 Latinas Win Knight Fellowships

On Day of Bomb Scare, N.Y. Stations Called It a Night

NAACP Explains Agreement With Wells Fargo

120 in Detroit at "Town Hall Meeting" about "Dateline"

Heroes, Villains Named on World Press Freedom Day

Short Takes

Letter from David Cay Johnston on ASNE Survey

While still Latina's editorial director last week, Mimi Valdés posted a photo of the "edit wall" of Latina's upcoming June/July issue on Twitter. Previously, she had been editor of Vibe.¬†

Upscale Approach Didn't Boost Circulation, Ad Pages

After two years in the top editorial job at the nation's largest English-language magazine targeting Hispanics, Mimi Valdés is out in a shakeup at Latina.

Mimi  ValdésThe former editor of Vibe magazine "had tried to take the Hispanic-aimed magazine more upscale, featuring more fashion, beauty and luxury products in the pages," Lucia Moses wrote in Mediaweek.

"Latina publisher Lauren Michaels and Galina Espinoza (who was a senior editor at People) were named co-presidents. Michaels will continue to serve as publisher, and Espinoza will take over Valdés' role as editorial director," Moses reported on Friday.

"As a Latina reader, I remember how she made the controversial move to place Jessica 'Don't Call Me Latina' Alba on the magazine's cover," Alex Alvarez wrote Monday for the Fishbowl NY media blog.

However, in a tough climate for magazines, both Latina's circulation and advertising pages had declined.

Valdés could not be reached for comment, but her Facebook page notes that in January she became co-founder of K!dult, a teen-targeted website from Pharrell Williams, the hip-hop recording artist, producer, musician and fashion designer. The official announcement, dated Friday, said she was leaving "to pursue new opportunities."

Espinoza was deputy editor of Latina from 2003 to 2005 before leaving to become senior editor of People "and oversaw special issues, introduced new sections and took a role in the magazine's digital presence. In addition, she served as a spokesperson, appearing frequently on programs including the 'Today' show, 'Larry King Live' and 'Access Hollywood,'" the announcement said.

When she was hired as Latina editor-in-chief in 2007, Valdés became "part of a new team charged with turning around Latina parent Latina Media Ventures, which is owned by private equity firm Solera Capital LLC. Last spring, Solera hired former Viacom Digital Media Group exec Peter Glusker as CEO and Hearst Magazines vet Cindy Lewis as president," Moses wrote at the time.

Lewis departed late last year. She had wanted to "to help Latina grow its share of spending by cosmetics companies and give it entrés to high-end fashion advertisers," Moses reported.

Valdés presided over a launch of the Latina website and a redesign of the magazine.

The first issue under the redesign featured a piece on Alba, which Valdés wrote herself.

"I think we're the most excited about the Jessica Alba article, and I think it's because we were able to raise all of these issues about identity and what that means to be a Latina," she told Michel Martin in February 2008 on National Public Radio's "Tell Me More."

"You know, everyone has these sort of — a lot of times, people want to have a checklist of what that exactly means, and for someone like Jessica Alba, who is an A-list star, to really sort of speak so candidly about all of her issues growing up with a Mexican father, with a white mom and what that meant, and just all those things and all those struggles, I think, is just so much the story of most of our readers. And to have an A-list star talk about this I just think was really great just to sort of — just to start the discussion and continue it, because on our Web site especially, we've been getting so many — so many people just going onto those message boards and really happy that she spoke about it and she finally sort of cleared up all the rumors about what she thinks about her heritage."

As a former Vibe editor, Valdés loved hip-hop. "I'm Cuban and Puerto Rican, and I grew up in New York City," she said in an interview with Glamour magazine. "I've had crushes on every type of guy, but I've mostly dated African American or Latino men. That has a lot to do with hip-hop, because I had to be with someone who loved it as much as I did, and most of the men who did were Latino or African American. I'm married now to a black man," she said.

Circulation figures reported to the Audit Bureau of Circulations for the last six months of 2009 showed Latina trailing the Spanish-language People en Español, whose circulation of 571,084 represented an increase of 3.4 percent. Latina's 508,002 was a decrease of 3.5 percent. A third publication, the Spanish-language Siempre Mujer, showed the greatest gain among Hispanic magazines, up 11.8 percent to 458,873.

Ad dollars for People en Español slid by 22.6 percent and Latina's by 30 percent, the Publishers Information Bureau reported in January.

"There's been some recovery this year, however; through May, pages are up 17 percent to 211," Moses wrote.

Edward Lewis, the cofounder of Essence magazine who chairs the board of Latina Media Ventures, said of his new editorial director:

"Galina is a first-class talent with a passion for Latina's business and mission. . . . She is the embodiment of the community we serve. . . .  The advertising market is improving and the potential of the U.S. Hispanic market is moving from potential to clear reality."

Full-Front-Page Editorial Castigates Arizona Politicians

First of two front pages for the Sunday paper."Arizona's largest newspaper criticized U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl and a host of other elected officials in a rare front-page editorial Sunday, saying the politicians have failed to find solutions to illegal immigration," as the Associated Press reported on Sunday.

"The state has become the target of calls for boycotts since adopting a law that requires local and state law enforcement officers to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally," the story continued.

The Arizona Republic actually published two front pages, with the editorial taking up the first front page, followed by a traditional front page.

"The federal government is abdicating its duty on the border. Arizona politicians are pandering to public fear," the newspaper said. "The result is a state law that intimidates Latinos while doing nothing to curb illegal immigration."

"Doug MacEachern, an editorial writer for the Republic, said the newspaper has put editorials on the front page over the years but this was the first time one filled the front page," the AP said.

"The editorial appeared one day after thousands marched against the law in Phoenix and Tucson, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, among other cities."

Separately, the Pew Hispanic Center collected its research on Hispanics and Arizona's new immigration law on one website for the reader's convenience.

Heading for Stanford: Jigar Mehta, left, and Phuong Ly

Two Asian Americans, 2 Latinas Win Knight Fellowships

Four journalists of color ‚Äî Evelyn Larrubia, Phuong Ly, Jigar Mehta and Edin?©ria Pinheiro Soares ‚Äî are among 12 U.S. journalists awarded John S. Knight Fellowships¬†to study at Stanford University during the 2010-11 academic year, the program announced on Monday.

Larrubia and Pinheiro Soares are Latina, while Ly and Mehta are Asian American.

The program also chose eight international journalists.

"U.S. applications were down while International were up, giving us a total of more than 300," James Bettinger, the program director, told Journal-isms. "Hard to say why the U.S. numbers were down," he said, although the number is perhaps the third highest ever. "(By contrast, the number of U.S. applicants was 88).

"At the same time, applications from U.S. journalists of color were up (41 to 45) and the percentage went from just under 25 percent of the total to nearly 34 percent. The number of Latina/o and Asian American applicants increased, while the number of African American applicants decreased. We are looking into ways to reverse that decline."

[This year there were nine African American applicants out of 133 total, or 6.7 percent, Bettinger said; last year there were 14 African American applicants out of 166, or 8.5 percent.]

Larrubia, associate editor of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, plans to "study the growing number of non-profit journalism ventures and evaluate the sustainability of new funding models for investigative journalism."

Ly, a freelance writer in Chicago and former Washington Post reporter, "will study social media and social networks in immigrant communities to develop ways to help journalists connect with these groups."

Mehta, a video journalist at the New York Times, "will develop tools to improve collaboration between visual journalists and editors."

Pinheiro Soares, editions coordinator at the Wall Street Journal Americas, in New York, "plans to create an online platform where Latinos can affect news coverage through participatory journalism."

The program chose its first journalist from Cuba, Karelia V?°zquez, who "plans to create a 'cyber-ecosystem' that connects debating forums, through social networks, about Cuba in transition."

The fellowship program offers mid-career journalists a break lasting an academic year to pursue their interests. The next class will be the second whose selection was guided by the program's new focus on journalism innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership, the program said.

On Day of Bomb Scare, N.Y. Stations Called It a Night

"Yes, news happens on weekends," Mark Joyella, wrote on his LocalNewser blog. "And sadly, the economics of news today mean weekends are a cost-cutting mess. All this was played out vividly in New York Saturday night, as a suspicious vehicle found in Times Square at 6:30 evolved slowly into a national story by 11 p.m., and on into the early morning hours — up to a 3 a.m. news conference with the mayor and police commissioner.

"It’s the kind of disturbing, significant story that in a traditional sense of local news means you blow out your taped late night programming, hold over your late news crews and bring in a few more bodies. You hit a big story with the intent to win.

"Instead, New York’s local television stations called it a night. And that says a lot about the evolution of local news. As I watched the story with increasing frustration as a journalist—CNN sticking with a taped episode of Larry King featuring, of all the jarring guests given the night, a Bill Clinton impersonator—I found none of New York’s local stations bothering to stick with the story."

NAACP Explains Agreement With Wells Fargo

"Recently the NAACP came under fire by bloggers for having Wells Fargo as a leading sponsor for its annual convention this July. Dr. Boyce Watkins wrote an op-ed for theGrio questioning why the NAACP would partner with Wells Fargo — a company accused of predatory lending practices — so recently after the civil rights organization dropped its lawsuit with the bank," editors at explained on Friday.

In the response that followed, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous wrote that, "The NAACP agreed to end our lawsuit against Wells Fargo because we successfully negotiated an agreement that improves their practices and increases their transparency in ways that go far beyond what we could win in court."

120 in Detroit at "Town Hall Meeting" about "Dateline"

"NBC Dateline officials got more than an earful this afternoon from Detroit residents still riled up over the controversial news segment 'America Now: City of Heartbreak and Hope' during a town hall meeting at Cobo Center as part of the Freedom IX weekend," Oralandar Brand-Williams wrote Saturday for the Detroit News.

"An estimated 120 people attended the town hall meeting to express their frustration with a broadcast they called an 'unbalanced' and 'negative' representation of the city and its residents.

"'Dateline' managing editor Aretha Marshall, a Detroit native, said the intent of the piece was to show Detroit 'as a city trying to fight back.'

". . . 'I came here primarily to listen,' Marshall said. "I didn't come here to defend. We stand by our report."

"The town hall meeting was hosted by the Detroit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. It was moderated by broadcast journalists Lloyd Jackson of WJR-AM (760) and Vickie Thomas of WWJ-AM (950). Thomas is the president of the Detroit chapter of the NABJ, and Jackson is the vice president for broadcast for the chapter."


"Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi," which premiered last year on HBO, told the story of Ajmal Naqshband, a young Afghan journalist, translator and coordinator working for American journalist Christian Parenti. He was kidnapped and beheaded. (Video)

Heroes, Villains Named on World Press Freedom Day

"Judging by what’s transpired in recent weeks, press freedom in Egypt is in a deplorable state. To hear that Egyptian police abused and illegally detained peaceful protestors who took to the streets on April 6 is par for the course," Mohamed Abdel Dayem wrote for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "To read that police and plainclothes thugs also beat and detained journalists, confiscating and destroying video footage and notes, is revolting but, unfortunately, quite predictable. But to learn that elements of the state security apparatus may also have posed as journalists to monitor civil society and opposition activists marks a new low for the Egyptian state."

To commemorate World Press Freedom Day, Reporters Without Borders placed 40 names on this year’s list of Predators of Press Freedom — "40 politicians, government officials, religious leaders, militias and criminal organisations that cannot stand the press, treat it as an enemy and directly attack journalists. They are powerful, dangerous, violent and above the law."

For the Committee to Protect Journalists, Danielle Shapiro wrote about the "fixers, the translators, the drivers, the local reporters and aspiring journalists who make the work of their foreign peers possible. They are brave and determined individuals who assume great risk for helping journalists tell stories that those in power would rather stifle. They are too rarely recognized for their efforts.

"Of all the journalists who have died around the world because of their work, 90 percent are locals, according to CPJ research. It is common that their murderers are never found, prosecuted or convicted. . . . "

Shapiro related that she just returned from a three-week reporting trip to the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. "Impunity and disregard for the rule of law is rife in Congo, a vast nation with a shoddy record of protecting members of its media, especially in the east. Six journalists have been murdered since 2005, according to Reporters Without Borders, three of them in Bukavu (one each in 2007, 2008 and 2009). Fixers are not immune. According to a 2004 CPJ report, Acquitt?© Kisembe, a fixer for Agence France-Presse, disappeared while on assignment in 2003. He is presumed dead."

Short Takes

  • The McCormick Foundation of Chicago has awarded a $35,000 grant to Indiana University's National Sports Journalism Center to launch a free Sports Media Diversity Institute this summer to select high school students from Indianapolis and Chicago, the foundation announced on Monday. Tim Franklin, former Indianapolis Star and Baltimore Sun editor who directs the National Sports Journalism Center, said the goal is to introduce Indianapolis and Chicago youth to a real-world experience in sports media, and show them the potential of a career in sports beyond the playing field.
  • "The feeling everyone feels is that it's a totally rudderless ship," Julia Duin, the Washington Times' longtime religion reporter said in a Washington Post story Saturday by Ian Shapira. "Nobody knows who's running it. Is it the board of directors? We don't know. There was a three-foot-long black snake in the main conference room the other day. We have snakes in the newsroom ‚Äî the real live variety, at least. One of the security people gallantly removed it." The paper is being put up for sale.
  • Fox News Channel is "big force. You have to be aware of what they're saying," MSNBC boss Phil Griffin told Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune. "That's our goal. . . . I don't think we have quite the passionate support that Fox does. Some shows do, but as a network we don't. Our prime time is getting there. But that's what we want to get."
  • Monroe AndersonPublishers rejected Chicago blogger Monroe Anderson's too-long novel about the first wave of African American journalists to go into mainstream media in Chicago in the early 1970s, but "beginning tomorrow, I'm going publish my book 140 characters at a time on Twitter," Anderson wrote on Saturday. "My tweets will show up on my other social media outlet, Facebook. Once 500-900 words have passed through Twitter and Facebook, they'll appear on MonroeAnderson3.0, a contemporary expression of the name on my birth certificate Monroe Anderson III, the new blog I've created exclusively for Sweetspeare's Sirens. Nearly finally, the novel post will appear in longer-form on my Facebook page until somewhere, someday it materializes as a hardcopy book."
  • Fox Washington correspondent Wendell Goler showed up in Jay Leno's routine Saturday night at the White House Correspondents Dinner, used to demonstrate how differently Fox covers the news than other networks. How did Goler feel about being the example? "He'd used the skit before in his interim show, before he went back to late night," he told Journal-isms. "My kids loved it."
  • "On April 10, hundreds of young people, mostly teens and mostly black, gathered on the Country Club Plaza, and trouble ensued," Derek Donovan, public editor at the Kansas City Star, told readers on Sunday. "At first, I heard from many readers upset that The Star‚Äôs initial reports didn‚Äôt portray it as black-on-white aggression. And I‚Äôm also sorry to say that among these voices, I heard several using racist language ‚Äî including the first time in my years as readers‚Äô representative that anyone has ever directly used the word 'nigger' in a pejorative sense. Later that week, Star reporter Lee Hill Kavanaugh interviewed white, black and Hispanic teens," but the Star rightfully did not say that, "The victim himself was black." Donovan concluded that, "accusations of bigotry are a cheap tactic sometimes employed simply to shut down debate. . . .¬† Journalists should be on guard not to play into stereotypes, but they should tell the full story when racial conflict is a legitimate part of the news."

Letter from David Cay Johnston on ASNE Survey

Back on April 11 ASNE reported that only 7 of 28 online newspapers responded to its diversity survey, compared to 65 percent of print papers it polled, news I learned from Richard Prince's blog. This prompted a letter from me to Romenesko criticizing the online organizations that ASNE said failed to respond.

Since then, leaders of two organizations that ASNE says ignored the survey — Jacob Weisberg of Slate and Brant Houston of the Investigative News Network — have posted letters at Romenesko saying their organizations did not receive the survey.

ASNE has yet to explain what happened or, more importantly, whether it intends to redo the survey so that it is a useful tool to understand who works in digital newsrooms. It is hard to imagine any ASNE editor tolerating a reporter who claimed to have sought information from 28 sources, but who actually contacted only 7.

At its website, ASNE asserts that "increasing diversity in U.S. newspaper newsrooms has been a primary ASNE mission since 1978."

In the hope that this commitment to diversity remains, here some questions for Milton Coleman, the new ASNE president, the rest of the ASNE board and Rich Karpel, the ASNE executive director:

What happened? Did ASNE falsely report that the 21 news organizations did not respond? Or does ASNE stand by its report? And if these 21 organizations were not surveyed then is ASNE going to correct the record, ask them to respond and then recalculate the data so that the industry has a valid dataset on diversity?

Brant Houston, in a call to me last night, said he wants the opportunity to answer the survey questions. Does ASNE have the same commitment?

And here is a question for readers of Richard's blog: Do you care? If so then what are you going to do to encourage ASNE to make a reliable survey so that we know how pale or vibrant newsrooms, and especially the online newsrooms of the future, are?

David Cay Johnston
Rochester, N.Y.
Recipient of the George Polk Award,
an IRE Medal and the Pulitzer Prize
May 4, 2010

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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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