Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Missed in Relief Efforts

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ethnic Media Note Hidden Undocumented Workers

"Ethnic media are on the front lines of the Southern California fires, covering the effects of the devastation on their communities and providing information for evacuees and those who wish to help," Elena Shore reported on Thursday for New America Media.

"Hispanic residents who needed to evacuate their homes in San Diego had trouble finding information in Spanish about what to do, reports the Spanish-language publication Enlace," a product of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"The relief efforts in the Southern California fires have been praised as effective," Amanda Martinez reported on Friday for the same news service, "but they've missed a population that has long been in the shadows: undocumented workers living along San Diego's hillsides and canyons. These men, who represent some of the most essential workers in one of the biggest local industries, have slipped through the cracks in the county's relief and evacuation efforts — so much so that Mexican government officials are filling in the gaps.

"Immigrant advocacy groups are uncertain how these workers are surviving. They say the fires have left the workers scattered and unaccounted for. Evacuation orders have closed off access to these communities, making it very difficult for support teams to assess the population's needs and nearly impossible to determine how many living quarters have been destroyed in the fires.

"The farm workers are hard to reach physically, living in the remote areas of the canyon, but they are also linguistically isolated. Many are members of Mexico's indigenous Mixtec and Zapotec communities and do not speak English or Spanish."

Spanish-speaking evacuees who did reach safety also told of communications problems, Shore reported:

"'I saw a huge cloud of black smoke coming toward my house but I didn't know what to do,' Noemi Orozco, a 38-year-old resident of Ramona, told Enlace. As the fires began to spread on Sunday, Orozco said, she turned on her television but none of the Spanish channels interrupted their programming to provide information.

"'I watched the English channels but it was hopeless because I can hardly understand it,' said another woman. 'At 7:00 p.m., the police came and one spoke Spanish, telling me to leave my apartment because of the approaching danger.'

"Vianei Salmeron scanned Spanish radio stations Sunday evening for news about the fire, and didn't find anything, Enlace reports.

"On Monday, Spanish television stations began interrupting their regular programming to give the community information about the fire."

The newsletter Inside Radio explained the lack of translations on Thursday:

"When San Diego's Emergency Alert System fired up Sunday night as the wildfires spread[,] the signal from primary station KOGO (600) was heard across all market stations. That included Spanish-language stations. Univision typically follows EAS with translations, but it was Sunday night and there was no bilingual staff on duty at the cluster. So nobody could translate the message to the market's Spanish-speaking listeners.

"Making matters worse, the rest of the Hispanic broadcasters are located across the border in Tijuana, where there's no requirement to air EAS. How big a problem could this be? According to Arbitron, 27% of the San Diego market is Hispanic with 54% identified as 'Spanish-dominant' Based on what happened during Hurricane Katrina, the FCC has a pending rulemaking that would potentially create an EAS for non-English listeners. It's such a priority that the Commission has put this proceeding on the fast track since it could literally be a matter of life or death."

Shore's report addressed Asian media as well.

"Chinese-language newspapers report that the fires in San Diego County have affected numerous Chinese families living in the area.

"According to Anh Do, editor of the Vietnamese newspaper Nguoi Viet, there aren't many Vietnamese residents who have been affected by the fire, compared with the large numbers of Vietnamese who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Nguoi Viet, however, has been publishing numerous stories on disaster preparedness, a subject that Do says the community is still relatively [uninformed] about.

"Filipino media are encouraging community organizations to contribute in any way they can to help those affected by the fire."

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"Something About the Experience" Gives One Focus

"Many of us here who report and comment on the news found ourselves part of the story as we joined nearly a million



people in rushing our families out of the path of one of the most terrifying firestorms in U.S. history," columnist Ruben Navarrette wrote on Friday in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"The process of evacuating comes in phases. First, there's an automated reverse 911 call from the police department — informing you that you might have to evacuate at some point ('just thought you should know'). Then a few hours later, another call advising that you leave ('just suggesting'). Finally, there's the mandatory order ('you will leave!') and a knock on the door by a police officer telling you that you've got 10 minutes to pack up your life, or however much of it fits in your car, and get going.

"But one thing remains difficult to comprehend: the fact that San Diego County is now witness to what is being called the largest evacuation of U.S. civilians since the Civil War.

"My wife and I and our two small children left our home Monday morning. We got the first call at about 7 a.m., and by the time the second one came in later that afternoon, we were gone.

"In similar situations, some people opt to stay put and take their chances. But there is something about the experience of looking out your front door at a red-orange, smoke-filled sky and hearing reports that the flames are 10 miles away — and then looking at the faces of your children — that focuses the mind.

"As a journalist, your instinct is to grab a notebook and head for the fire, even if your editors would never give such an order. When the fire is bearing down on your family, things are different. Daddy instincts take over. You still grab your notebook and laptop — but you also pack baby formula, diapers and bottled water. You grab a few family photos. And you worry about one thing — getting your family the heck out of there."

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Vivian Aplin-Brownlee Dies at 61; Sensed Scandal



"Vivian Aplin-Brownlee, 61, a former Washington Post editor who had raised an early alarm about what became the paper's most notorious scandal, died Oct. 20 of complications from leukemia at her home in Washington," Patricia Sullivan reported Friday in the Post.

"Ms. Aplin-Brownlee, an experienced newswoman who edited The Post's District Weekly section, sent a tenacious and ambitious reporter, Janet Cooke, to check out a report about a new type of heroin on Washington's streets. Cooke returned with notes that eventually became 'Jimmy's World,' a tale of an 8-year-old heroin addict. The story won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1981, but it was all made up. The paper returned the award and fired Cooke, and the incident is considered a landmark case in journalism ethics.

"'She looked at the story on Page 1, turned to me and said, 'I don't believe a word of this,' said her husband of 32 years, Dennis Brownlee. She tried several times to alert higher-level editors that the story didn't sound right and that Cooke was not capable of doing the reporting she said she had done.

". . . Ms. Aplin-Brownlee was among the first group of black women to be hired and promoted in major newsrooms. She was the first black assignment editor on the national desk at The Post. Before that, she was the first black female reporter at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she later joined the editorial section, another first for an African American woman.

". . . Ms. Aplin-Brownlee later was a reporter for four years at The Post, writing 40 bylined stories, mostly about computers and education. She joined the national section, where she worked until retiring in 1985 to become a full-time mother and homemaker."

At the first national convention of the National Association of Black Journalists, in 1976, Aplin-Brownlee was elected an executive board member and Midwest regional director, the Cleveland Plain Dealer noted in its obituary.

In 1984, Aplin-Brownlee wrote in the Post's Sunday Outlook section:

"Nearly 16 years ago, I started as a reporter at The Plain Dealer, in Cleveland. As fate would have it, I walked into the paper in 1968 only months after an NAACP boycott. The Plain Dealer was one of the 10 largest papers in the country, but I was its first black woman writer.

"For the first few years, I covered the lily-white suburbs, a rigid routine for young women breaking into hard news back them. Then one day the managing editor wrote a memo asking me to list for him the concerns of the city's blacks.

"'How should I know,' I seethed back, incensed that I had not been assigned to the heart of the city and its news. How could he expect me to know, I fumed. That's not my job.

"Today I realized that as he saw it, it was my job. I was Every Black.

"Like most black journalists, I am the result and the reward of black hopes and dreams. But more specifically, I am the product of black boycotts which forced their issue. I didn't always understand this. Early on, I would have denied it. I would have angrily countered any suggestion that there might have been more to my hiring than ability. I might have said many things, all out of youthful egocentricity. No more."

Dennis Brownlee is vice president and managing director, urban group marketing at Premiere Radio Networks, and founder and CEO of the short-lived New Urban Entertainment TV cable network. In later years, Aplin-Brownlee "volunteered at Sidwell Friends School, where her daughter is a teacher and administrator," Sullivan wrote.

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Hillary Clinton Courts Black Voters In Essence




"Senator Hillary Clinton is taking the fight for black voters to the pages of Essence Magazine next month with an article that touches on her marriage, issues related to black men and the race for the White House," Krissah Williams reported Tuesday in the Washington Post.

"The article follows lengthy pieces on Sen. Barack Obama and his wife that in recent months have run in the magazine, which is read by eight million black women. Clinton and Obama have launched a heated contest for black women's votes, particularly in South Carolina where blacks represent half of all Democratic primary voters."

Meanwhile, the Asian American Journalists Association reported on Wednesday, "An article last week in the Los Angeles Times focused on campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton from Chinese Americans in New York City. The Times reported that low-income persons were pressured by associations to make political donations. Some in the Asian American Pacific Islander community claim the reporting is bad journalism, depicting Asian American donors as suspect and foreign, and targeting a specific ethnic group. The contrarian opinion is that increased scrutiny is merely part of the political process."

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Suspended Dallas Reporter Picks Up More Support



Rebecca Aguilar

Rebecca Aguilar, the Dallas reporter suspended indefinitely after protests over an interview she conducted, has picked up fresh support from veteran Dallas television critic Ed Bark and from the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Communicators, the local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

"She shouldn't have been suspended in the first place, let alone be the only Fox4 staffer left out in the cold," the former Dallas Morning News television critic wrote Thursday on his blog, a day after he published an interview with her. "Those who see her as an arch villain should be wary of what might await them down the road. Aguilar isn't the overall problem," Bark said. "She and other solid, well-seasoned Fox4 reporters such as Jeff Crilley and Shaun Rabb instead are the ones keeping the faith.

"I've watched the video of her now infamous Oct. 15th story over and over again," Bark continued. James Walton, 70, who shot dead two would-be burglars who entered his salvage business, "is both cantankerous and amicable. He seems to be a man who'd like to explain himself at least a little, and Aguilar clearly isn't about to dissuade him. Yes, she presses him, most pointedly when asking in an even tone, 'Are you a trigger happy kind of person? Is that what you wanted to do, shoot to kill?'

"But she also quickly sympathizes with him: 'So basically you were scared for your life?'

"'What do you think?' Walton asks in turn.

"I agree with many of Aguilar's detractors that 'trigger happy' wasn't the way to go. But Walton himself didn't seem offended. And your typical TV provocateur might have gone this route: 'You're a trigger happy kind of person, aren't you? You wanted to shoot to kill, didn't you?'"

In a separate statement, the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Communicators wrote to station executives, "We were . . . disturbed to see how your actions were spawned by a strong comment from a blogger. You consistently have bloggers, emailers or callers disagree with the manner in which you cover stories, why did this one spark such a reaction? You are well aware that you have another reporter, a white female, who has earned a notorious reputation for 'in-your-face' reporting, yet, to our knowledge, has never been dealt with in the same manner as Aguilar. From our view, this smacks of a double standard.

". . . Assuming that the controversial set of questions should be accurately deemed as unprofessional, with Ms. Aguilar's solid standing with your station and in her community, we feel that a private discussion or a mild reprimand inside the supervisor's office would have sufficed to resolve the issue. To perform an open suspension and humiliate Ms. Aguilar with security escorting her out of the studios seems totally uncalled for."

Va. Paper Fires Sports Reporter, Charging Plagiarism


Blair J. Parker

Blair J. Parker, a young sports reporter at the Staunton (Va.) News Leader, was fired on Tuesday in light of "significant evidence" that she "fabricated at least four stories and plagiarized from other stories on the Internet," editor David Fritz wrote to readers on Friday.

"Parker, who had worked for The News Leader since September 2006, was suspended Thursday and was terminated on Tuesday, Oct. 23, for breaching journalistic ethics by violating The News Leader's Principles of Ethical Conduct. We retracted the first suspect story in Friday's edition (Oct. 19) and another on Saturday (Oct. 20)," Fritz said.

A short bio since removed from the paper's Web site says, "Blair J. Parker is the newest addition to The News Leader's sports department. She is a native of sunny South Florida, but attended college at the University of Michigan. In her blog she will discuss topics dealing with local sports."

Fritz wrote that Parker admitted the fabrications on Tuesday.

Neither Fritz nor Sports Editor Hubert Grim III returned telephone calls from Journal-isms. The paper, serving Virginia's Central Shenandoah Valley, has a circulation of 17,671 during the week and 20,242 on Sundays.

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400 Black Executives Raise $5.4 Million for Dinner

Four hundred African Americans who work at Fortune 500 companies quietly raised $5.4 million from their annual dinner this week with hardly any attention from the news media. More than 2,000 people were in attendance. Every table was said to be filled.

The money, minus expenses, is to go to help the men and women mentor each other, to increase their ranks in corporate America, and to underwrite scholarships.

The 400 are members of the Executive Leadership Council, and the group raised even more money last year, Andrew Frazier, the group's chief operating officer, told Journal-isms. By way of comparison, the money raised by the summer convention of the National Association of Black Journalists, where more than 3,000 attended, was in the thousands, with $95,000 as the "worst-case scenario," the NABJ board was told this month.

After the council's dinner Wednesday at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, the executives underwent a day of training and development for mid-level managers, Frazier said.

Honored were Susan Taylor, "whose leadership transformed Essence Magazine from a fledgling black women's magazine into a chic, global publishing brand," and Robert J. Brown, "celebrated entrepreneur and policy advisor to President Richard Nixon," and "founder, chairman and CEO of B&C Associates, Inc., a management consulting, marketing research and public relations firm in High Point, NC," according to a news release last week announcing the event.

Taylor stressed the importance of mentoring and focusing on those who need it most in the community and inner cities, Frazier said. Target Corp. was the lead dinner sponsor. Next year's event is scheduled for New York.

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Short Takes

  • Genarlow Wilson, who spent two years in prison for having consensual oral sex at a New Year's Eve party, was freed on Friday by the Georgia Supreme Court. Wilson was 17 at the time of the incident; his partner was 15. The court said Wilson's crime "does not rise to the level of adults who prey on children" and overturned the sentence, as ABC News reported. The case had attracted significant media attention. "For journalists, it's one of those rare cases in our profession" where "we help to right a wrong," Aniika Young, a CNN producer, told Journal-isms in June after Wilson's appeal was granted. Young had been working the story for months. "It's a huge onion and we peeled it back layer by layer," she said then.
  • "Promising 'busloads' of supporters and demonstrators from across the nation to protest the absence of hate crime charges in the alleged month-long rape and torture of a young Black woman, attorney Malik Shabazz of the Washington D.C.-based Black Lawyers for Justice says a national march and rally is planned for Charleston, W. Va. for Saturday, Nov 3," Cash Michaels reported for the Wilmington (N.C.) Journal. "The Black Press is keeping the story alive, as are Black talk radio hosts like Imhotep Gary Byrd in New York, who discusses the latest developments weekly on his programs. Clearly part of the strategy in holding a massive demonstration in Charleston is to get Megan Williams' story back into the major media, and national headlines."
  • Sports commentator


Stephen A. Smith

  • Stephen A. Smith, who left the Philadelphia Inquirer and is under contract to ESPN, told that "I may be writing for them (ESPN the Magazine) in the future."
  • Last week, we named four journalists of color involved in Rupert Murdoch's new Fox Business Network, including Brian Jones, senior vice president of operations. But you'd be hard-pressed to think any worked there, judging from a full-page ad the network placed in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal. "First in Business . . . Soon!" it proclaimed, followed by adulatory blurbs. At the bottom of the page were 18 faces representing the network — whose skin tones appeared to range from A to A.
  • Washingtonian magazine's list of "Washington's most influential people in culture and media" includes Marie Arana, editor of the Washington Post's Book World; Kojo Nnamdi, talk-show host on the public radio station WAMU-FM; WRC-TV anchor Jim Vance and WPGC-FM disc jockey Donnie Simpson. This list contrasts with the magazine's 2005 roster of the "50 Best and Most Influential Journalists" in the capital, in which only two were people of color — both columnists.
  • Anna Alejo, reporter and education specialist for KCNC-TV in Denver, a CBS affiliate, is leaving Nov. 2 to become director of corporate communications for Western Union, "supervising communication strategy and community outreach not only in the United States, but around the world," Tim Wieland reported from the station on Wednesday.
  • In Egypt, "The government has stepped up its campaign against the independent and opposition press, with criminal courts delivering prison sentences to 11 prominent journalists within the last two months," Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani reported Friday for Inter-Press Service. "While state prosecutors accuse the writers of 'publishing false news,' spokesmen for the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate have described the latest crackdown as a 'war' on press freedom."
  • "When TV cameraman Arif Khan [was] added to the list of over 140 people who died in the bombings that targeted the welcome procession for former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, on Oct. 18, it highlighted the many risks that journalists in Pakistan now face," Beena Sarwar wrote Friday for Inter-Press Service. The Oct. 29 issue of Newsweek labels Pakistan "The most dangerous nation in the world."
  • In Niger, "Reporters Without Borders called today for the immediate release of Daouda Yacouba of the privately-owned fortnightly Aïr Info, who was arrested yesterday at his home in the western town of Ingall and was taken to the provincial capital of Agadez. There he was placed in a cell with the newspaper's editor, Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, who was arrested on 9 October. A third Niger journalist, Moussa Kaka, has been held in Niamey since 20 September," the organization said on Friday.

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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