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Mira Lowe Resigns as Jet Editor

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

and Wednesday, December 15

In D.C., Robin Givhan to Exit Post for Newsweek/Daily Beast

Huffington Post Lets Readers Judge Its Diversity

Poll Finds a Downbeat Nation, Pessimistic on Rich-Poor Gap

Media Said to Miss Threat to Jail Bankers on Foreclosures

"Democracy, Now!" Breaks With Holbrooke Tributes

Activists Deliver 2 Million Petitions for "Open Internet"

5 Asian Groups Win Pledges From Comcast, Back Merger With NBC

Star Jones to Write Uptown Magazine Column

Juan Williams Signs Contract for Two-Book Deal

Short Takes

The Washington Post's Robin Givhan won the Pulizer Prize in 2007

In D.C., Robin Givhan Exits Post for Newsweek/Daily Beast

Mira Lowe announced her resignation Tuesday as editor-in-chief of Jet magazine, and Robin Givhan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion writer for the Washington Post, said she was leaving the Post for the new merged Newsweek and Daily Beast.

Mira LoweLowe, a former Newsday associate editor, was brought to Johnson Publishing Co. in 2007 as one of the first hires of then-editorial director Bryan Monroe. She was named Jet's first female editor-in-chief in April 2009.

"I just thought it was a great time to pursue some personal and professional goals," Lowe said Tuesday. Teaching might be one option. A year ago, Lowe's husband, Herbert Lowe, also a former Newsday journalist, joined the faculty of the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University as a professional in residence. But, she said, "We are open to all opportunities. We don't want to block our blessings."

Her last day is to be Jan. 3. Lowe is planning a farewell column for the Jan. 10 issue.

At the new Newsweek and Daily Beast, Givhan will be a special correspondent, style and culture, Daily Beast spokesman Andrew Kirk told Journal-isms.

Givhan said that technically her appointment will be with Newsweek. Audio-equipment magnate Sidney Harman, who bought the money-losing newsweekly for $1, completed negotiations in November to merge Newsweek with the two-year-old online startup. Magazine veteran Tina Brown, who edits the Daily Beast, will become Newsweek editor-in-chief.

["I obviously didn't make the decision to leave quickly or without a lot of soul-searching," Givhan told Women's Wear Daily, Amy Wicks reported on WWD.com on Wednesday. "I've been a sniffling, blubbering wreck for the last few days. The Post has been an unbelievable place to work. But I think it was time for me to have a new adventure, and Tina's vision of what Newsweek can be is incredibly enticing and, I think, spot-on."]

Just two months ago, Post editors announced the departure of media writer Howard Kurtz to the Daily Beast after 29 years. On Tuesday, they reported Givhan's planned departure as well as that of art critic Blake Gopnik, who is leaving "to try something new elsewhere."

[Michael Calderone of Yahoo News reported Thursday that Gopnik, too, is joining the Daily Beast/Newsweek.]

Gopnik covered an explosive controversy on his beat — the removal by the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery of a video called "A Fire in My Belly," which includes 11 seconds of footage of a small crucifix crawling with ants. Some Christians objected to the passage as sacrilegious and threatened the Smithsonian's funding. In the New York Times on Sunday, op-ed columnist Frank Rich noted that the work originated with David Wojnarowicz, a painter, author and filmmaker who died of AIDS, and called the removal an example of homophobia. On Dec. 1, the Post ran an essay by Gopnik headlined, "Museums shouldn't bow to censorship of any kind."

Tuesday's Post announcement said, in part, "Robin Givhan is leaving after 15 years at the paper.

The current Jet magazine"In that time, Robin has demonstrated herself as an extraordinary talent, stretching the definition of fashion beyond the discussion of trends or runway flights of fancy. Thanks to Robin's Pulitzer-awarded acuity, Washington Post readers have learned how to understand world leaders through the way they dress. A parka, a pair of stiletto boots, a pair of hiking shorts launched national debates on what political figures must have been thinking when they made such personal decisions, or whether they were thinking through their public image at all.

"She has not only explained the iconic status of Michelle Obama's inaugural gown, Madeleine Albright's patriotic pins, freshman Rep. Frederica Wilson's Stetsons, she made Washington understand something fundamental about how every public appearance is a self-expression. No one is more in command of her own powers of self-expression than Robin, as her reasoned, elegant columns have proven each Sunday and we will miss her."

Kirk, the Daily Beast spokesman, denied that Givhan would be the first black journalist at the Daily Beast, but he would not say who the others were. "As you know from earlier correspondence on this topic," he said by e-mail, "we do not divulge information regarding our employees externally. If you spend some time on our site, I am sure you will get a sense for the diverse backgrounds of our staff."

In April and again in August, the American Society of News Editors said it had asked online news operations to participate in its annual diversity survey. Each time, the Daily Beast did not respond, and this column noted that the operation was not particularly known for its diversity.

Givhan won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 "for her witty, closely observed essays that transform fashion criticism into cultural criticism." She was based in New York but returned to Washington to cover Michelle Obama and the first family after President Obama took office.

The departure of Lowe signals still another change at Johnson Publishing Co. since Chairman Linda Johnson Rice, daughter of the late company founder John H. Johnson, decided this year that she would not sell the company. Among those changes has been naming Desiree Rogers, the Chicago businesswoman and former White House social secretary, as Johnson Publishing's CEO.

Both Ebony and Jet magazines have continued to lose circulation despite makeovers, and Rogers told Folio: magazine this month that she intended to reverse that.

An ABC Rapid Report showed that Jet had total paid circulation of 750,978 for the six months ending in June, though its rate base — the circulation promised advertisers — was 900,000.

Lowe said Tuesday night that Rogers was putting into place steps in circulation and marketing to reverse the slides and cited her own achievements on the editorial side at "repositioning the brand," installing new voices and presiding over a new website, myjet247.com.

Given its weeklong lead time and push for sales, the newsweekly has stressed celebrity covers over breaking news.

Among her achievements, Lowe said, was directing coverage of actress/comedian Mo'Nique’s Oscar-winning weekend in March, in which Jet was granted special access to Mo'Nique and her home and chronicled her experiences leading to the Academy Awards ceremony. Mo'Nique won as best supporting actress for her role in "Precious."

Lowe also produced a Jet tribute to "King of Pop" Michael Jackson after his 2009 death. The issue became the highest-selling Jet ever, selling more than 200,000 copies.

Rodrigo A. Sierra, chief marketing officer and senior vice president at Johnson Publishing, said the company was looking to fill the editor's job for what will be Jet's 60th year.

It will seek "a strong leader who has a really good idea of where they think that magazine can go for the future," who will keep it linked to the community and will preside over "a very strong digital site."

Sierra said Rogers would turn her attention to Jet after having looked more closely at other parts of the company. One challenge will be how to keep the role of a weekly magazine relevant when breaking news can be found more immediately on the Web, he said.

It was a challenge that Newsweek was unable to meet.

The Huffington Post did not participate in the American Society of News Editors' diversity survey.

Huffington Post Lets Readers Judge Its Diversity

"The staff of the Huffington Post came together on Monday night for our annual holiday party at Manhattan's Bar 89," the Huffington Post website reported Tuesday, wishing everyone happy holidays.

Asked to name the one or two staffers in the photo who appeared to be African American, Mario Ruiz, spokesman for the operation, replied by e-mail, "sorry, cant identify folks for you."

In April, the American Society of News Editors completed its second attempt at measuring diversity at online news organizations, but the Huffington Post did not participate.

Meanwhile, site founder Arianna Huffington told Brett Pulley of Bloomberg News that the news site, which began in 2005, "will post its first annual profit this year and aims to keep sales rising as it turns readers into pundits," Pulley reported on Tuesday.

Poll Finds a Downbeat Nation, Pessimistic on Rich-Poor Gap

"Consistent with the mood of the nation all year, 2010 is closing on a down note. Fully 72% are dissatisfied with national conditions, 89% rate national economic conditions as only fair or poor, and majorities or pluralities think the country is losing ground on nine of 12 major issues," the Pew Research Center reported on Wednesday.

"The public is especially bearish about the federal budget deficit, the cost of living, the financial condition of Social Security and the availability of good-paying jobs. At least six-in-ten say the country is losing ground in each of these areas.

"Smaller majorities say the nation is losing ground on the gap between rich and poor (58%), the ability to compete economically with other countries (55%) and the financial condition of Medicare (51%).

"The latest national poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 1-5 among 1,500 adults, finds only two issues where relatively small minorities say the United States is losing ground — international terrorism (25% losing ground) and environmental pollution (23%). Even in these areas, however, most Americans do not see progress being achieved; rather, pluralities say things are staying about the same as they have been.

"Yet Americans’ views about how the nation is doing on several major issues have improved since December 2008, a time when Americans expressed an even more negative view of the economy than they do today."

 

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller speaks Tuesday with community leaders and homeowners battling to hang on to their properties during a meeting on the nation's mortgage industry problems at First Christian Church in Des Moines. (Credit: Christopher Gannon/Des Moines Register)

Media Said to Miss Threat to Jail Bankers on Foreclosures

"Iowa’s attorney general said yesterday that he will bring criminal charges over the foreclosure scandal. But most of the press doesn’t have the news," Ryan Chittum reported Wednesday for the Columbia Journalism Review.

"Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism picks up on this story, as does The Huffington Post and HousingWire.

"But the only mainstream media coverage it got was in the Des Moines Register and Reuters.

"This is a story the rest of the press might want to report. The ante just got upped bit on this scandal.

"This isn’t necessarily just another politician blowing smoke. BusinessWeek put the longtime AG, Tom Miller, on its cover a couple of years ago with the headline 'They Warned Us About the Mortgage Crisis.' He and other state attorneys general tried to crack down on predatory lending but were preempted by the Bush administration. And he’s heading up the joint investigation by all fifty states into the scandal. It’s worth following what he has to say.

"Especially when it’s 'we will put people in jail.'

"That’s also notable, since as we discussed last week, no major executive has gone to jail for the financial crisis and its fallout. It’s unclear, of course, if Iowa will be able to prosecute executives or just the low-level employees who implemented the fraud."

At a hearing on the causes of the foreclosure crisis Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., Detroit lawyer Vanessa Fluker said she would like to address "this media perception has been that for some reason we have all these massive foreclosures because you have this multitude of people who bit off more than they could chew; who went into homes that just were exorbitant and beyond their reach.

"This is not true," Fluker said. "The majority of people in subprime mortgages are the working poor — minorities and senior citizens — and that is what constitutes and makes up the majority of my practice. Unfortunately, the scenario is such that these subprime mortgages were marketed and pushed disparately on the working poor, minorities and senior citizens.

"For instance, to give a real-life first-hand perspective, my client, Ms. Harp [phonetic spelling], works every day as a legal assistant; mother dying of cancer; been fighting for two years to get a modification with Bank of America. Who, by the way, just got $7 billion additionally in January of this year to do that.

"No go. They're proceeding to eviction on that matter right now. The only reason eviction hasn't occurred is because there may be some impropriety with the affidavits and documentation.

"My client is a senior citizen who was diagnosed with dementia in 2000, who was put in a pay-option ARM mortgage in 2007, who we're still fighting. Of course, this is family now, seeing as we've been fighting so long. He died a week and a half ago.

"My client who has a farm in Michigan who was put in a subprime residential mortgage, interest-only, but now it covers his house and his whole farm. And they're foreclosing and trying to take the whole farm.

"Or most — even more egregious, my client who is on active duty in Iraq, serving his country, comes back. He's in foreclosure. They're like, 'Oh, well, too bad. We can't work with you. We can't modify your loan.'

"This is just a sampling of what I deal with every day, and it is voluminous."

Ambassador Richard Holbrooke in Afghanistan in January. (Credit: U.S. Embassy/State Department)

"Democracy, Now!" Breaks With Holbrooke Tributes

"While tributes have been pouring in for Richard Holbrooke," the veteran U.S. diplomat who died Monday at age 69, "little attention has been paid to his role in implementing and backing U.S. policies that killed thousands of civilians," host Amy Goodman said Wednesday on Pacifica Radio's "Democracy, Now!"

"As assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration, Holbrooke oversaw weapons shipments to the Indonesian military as it killed a third of East Timor's population. In 1980, he played a key role in the Carter administration's support for a South Korean military crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising in the city of Kwangju that killed hundreds of people. Details of Holbrooke's role in East Timor and Korea have been entirely ignored by the corporate media since his death — hardly covered before, as well. Richard Holbrooke was also a prominent Democratic backer of the Bush administration's decision to attack Iraq in 2003," she asserted.

Goodman then played a tape of investigative journalist Allan Nairn confronting Holbrooke in 1997 at Brown University about East Timor.

"If you want to accuse me of genocide, you're welcome to do so," Holbrooke replied. "And if — as far as extending the war crimes tribunal to Timor, or for that matter, Cambodia, where it's incomprehensibly not of a mandate, I'm all for it. In fact, I have recently written a letter to the Holocaust Commission at the museum recommending that they take this issue on, precisely because it's incomprehensible to me why various people who are equally as murderous as Radovan Karadžic and Ratko Mladic have never been investigated.

"But I tell you here, for the benefit of everyone else, that the Timor issue is not as simple as described just now. It just isn't. This is not what happened, and I don't think anyone who knows Jimmy Carter or what he stands for would agree that this was a deliberate policy of giving low-flying airplanes or helicopters to the Indonesians so that they could go out and kill people in the hills."

Holbrooke was well-liked by reporters, and he was married to television journalist Kati Marton, the daughter of Endre Marton, an Associated Press White House correspondent. She was previously the wife of the late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings.

Last year, Holbrooke gave the keynote address at the International Center for Journalists' 25th Anniversary Awards Dinner in Washington.

On the e-mail list of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, Jonathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express-News wrote Wednesday, "Those of us who attended State Department briefings in 2009 and 2010 got to spend a total of approximately two hours with Richard Holbrooke. He was not shy about letting us know that he was able to utilize the media to his advantage. He had been in and around Washington long enough to prove it. Beyond the posturing, he also was without doubt a patron of journalism. This was evident in his extended, off-the-record sessions with us about Afghanistan and Pakistan. The nation lost a diplomat. Journalism lost a friend."

At the 2009 session, Holbrooke volunteered to this columnist that he remembered Robert C. Maynard when Maynard was an editorial writer at the Washington Post.

Activists Deliver 2 Million Petitions for "Open Internet"

"In a two-day marathon, SavetheInternet.com Coalition allies and activists delivered 2 million petitions for real Net Neutrality to the Federal Communications Commission before the close of the public comment period on new FCC rules," the activist group Free Press reported on Tuesday. "The petitions, collected from across the country, urged the FCC to stand up for real Net Neutrality and safeguard the open Internet. The agency is scheduled to vote on its proposed Net Neutrality rules at its Dec. 21 open meeting.

". . . The petitions were delivered by local volunteers and representatives of the many groups that helped collect them, including Free Press, New America Foundation, Media Access Project, Public Knowledge, Future of Music Coalition, the Media and Democracy Coalition, [CREDO] Action, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, MoveOn.org, ColorofChange.org, Common Cause, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Prometheus Radio Project, the Harry Potter Alliance and the Open Source Democracy Foundation."

In addition, "a quartet of network neutrality proponents led by MoveOn.org said they would rather the FCC do nothing than adopt the chairman's current compromise proposal to expand and codify network neutrality guidelines," John Eggerton reported for Broadcasting & Cable. The other groups are ColorOfChange.org. CREDO Action and Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

5 Asian Groups Win Pledges From Comcast, Back Merger

Five Asian American organizations — the Asian American Justice Center, Organization of Chinese Americans, Japanese American Citizens League, East West Players and Media Action Network for Asian Americans — "have come out in support of Comcast's proposed deal to control NBC Universal after Comcast agreed to expand Asian American programming in a 16-page memorandum of understanding," Katy Bachman reported Wednesday for Mediaweek.

". . . These groups — concerned that Comcast had terminated one of the few Asian American channels — have been working with Comcast since the deal with NBCU was announced.

"Comcast's commitment to expand Asian American programming includes increased distribution of an existing channel or launching a new channel, as well as the launch of Cinema Asian America — a new On Demand offering. Comcast has also agreed to invest 'substantial funds' to develop new talent pipelines for Asian American-themed content.

"In the area of corporate governance, the cable giant said it will 'make its best efforts' to fill a future board of directors opening with an Asian American candidate.

"All of Comcast's efforts will be monitored by a new nine-member Asian American Advisory Council, four of whom will be named from the organizations that signed the memorandum of understanding between Comcast and the five Asian American Groups."

The Asian American Journalists Association has taken no position on the $30 billion deal, but the National Association of Hispanic Journalists has opposed it as unwanted media consolidation.

Star Jones to Write Uptown Magazine Column

Star JonesTelevision personality Star Jones has joined Uptown magazine as editor-at-large, the magazine announced on Wednesday.

"Jones’ first UPTOWN editorial contribution to the publication will be in the first ever Weddings and Travel special issue available on newsstands January 20. She will make her on-line debut in late December. Among her Editor-at-Large duties, Jones will act as a contributor with a regular column as well as writing political, entertainment and celebrity feature stories," an announcement said.

Spokeswoman Jackie Saril told Journal-isms that although Jones' first column will be about weddings, it would not directly address her lavish and widely publicized 2004 wedding to investment banker Al Reynolds, attended by nearly 500 people. They divorced four years later.

Uptown, published eight times a year, describes itself as "the only luxury lifestyle publication for affluent African Americans."

Juan Williams Signs Contract for Two-Book Deal

"Since his contract as a senior news analyst at NPR was terminated in October, Juan Williams has found no shortage of platforms from which he can express himself," Dave Itzkoff wrote Tuesday in the New York Times. "In addition to the new contract he signed with the Fox News Channel, amid a dispute over remarks he made on 'The O’Reilly Factor,' he has now entered into a two-book deal with the Crown Publishers imprint of the Crown Publishing Group at Random House, the imprint said on Tuesday.

"Crown said in a statement that the first book from Mr. Williams, planned for a summer publication and not yet titled, will 'focus on free speech and the growing difficulty in America of speaking out on sensitive topics.' In the book Mr. Williams 'will argue that the American public benefits from a vigorous and full-throated debate on hot button issues of political and cultural import' and 'chronicle his own first-hand experience of the consequences of crossing the line in public expression,' the statement said. . . .

"Crown said the second book from Mr. Williams, which does not yet have a publication date, will 'examine the changing face of America since the time of the Founding Fathers, as seen through the eyes of some of the noteworthy individuals who have helped to expand on and transform our ideas of what it means to be an American.' "

[In the Washington Post on Thursday, Paul Farhi reported that "after an initial flurry of mostly angry e-mails and calls in the wake of the Oct. 20 firing of Williams, the controversy waned quickly and has all but disappeared, station managers say.

["More important, perhaps, is that few contributors revoked financial pledges made to the stations during fundraising drives held the week of Williams's firing."]

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 BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Comments

Black Folks: MIA @ Huffington Post

According to the media experts the internet is where the news will be delivered to America.  The reality that sites like the Huffington Post lack significant people of color (read Black Folks) as conduits of news and related information is not good news for Black America.....

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