Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

More Diversity on Stage Than Off

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Reporters ask President-Elect Barack Obama to explain how Sen. Hillary Clinton, his Democratic primary rival, came to be considered for secretary of state.

6 Ask Obama Questions, None a Journalist of Color

President-elect Barack Obama unveiled his national security team at a Chicago news conference Monday, with the team on stage more diverse than the press corps covering it. 

As with his four previous news conferences as president-elect, Obama called on no journalists of color. Questions went to Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press, Caren Bohan of Reuters, Jake Tapper of ABC News, Peter Baker of the New York Times, John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune and Dean Reynolds of CBS News, according to identifications provided by FishBowl DC. Fox News also was left out.

By contrast, Obama introduced a team that included African Americans Eric Holder as attorney general and Susan Rice as cabinet-level ambassador to the United Nations, in addition to Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as secretary of homeland security, Robert Gates, reappointed as defense secretary, and Gen. James L. Jones, the former NATO commander, as national security adviser.

"Clearly, there's diversity at the very top," MSNBC's Chris Matthews said approvingly after the news conference. "Bill Clinton was accused of tokenism" when he made his appointments in 1992, but "nobody's looking at this group suggesting anyone got it by anything other than qualifications."

Correspondent Pete Williams, also on MSNBC, noted that despite the presence of an African American president and an African American attorney general, neither said anything about rejuvenating the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. "I guess it would be just a given," Williams said.

The lack of high-level appointments of Latinos or Asian Americans, a concern voiced by some in those communities, apparently went without comment. It was the appointment of Clinton, Obama's Democratic primary rival, that garnered most of the attention. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is Hispanic, is expected to be named secretary of commerce.

Twice during the news conference, CNN gave African Americans a priority within the State Department they might not have known they had. The onscreen bio for Rice, assistant secretary of state for African affairs from 1997 to 2001, identified her as "Fmr. Asst. Sec'y of State for African American Affairs."

Papers' Ad Revenue Drops $2 Billion in Third Quarter

"Newspaper ad revenue fell almost $2 billion in the third quarter for a record 18.1% decline, according to new statistics from the Newspaper Association of America," Nat Ives reported on Monday for "What's worse, newspapers' online ad revenue fell for the second quarter in a row.

"The historic drop resulted from a worsening economy that sharply exacerbated long-term challenges already confronting the newspaper industry, and it affected all kinds of newspaper ads. National ad sales fell 18.4%, classifieds sank 30.9%, and the biggest category, retail, slid 11.7%. Newspapers' online ad sales, where everyone is hoping some part of the future business model resides, accelerated their decline with a 3% drop. Online ad sales slipped 2.4% in the second quarter.

"This fall's financial collapse affected only some part of the latest results. However, the rest of the year is likely to look even worse.

"The performance in the third quarter was affected only partially by the worldwide financial panic that froze the credit markets in mid-September, throttling the already waning demand for hiring, auto sales and home purchases," said Alan Mutter, the newspaper veteran turned Silicon Alley entrepreneur, on his blog, the story continued. "The outlook for the final period of the year is worse," as classified ads "are likely to experience the full impact of the economic meltdown,'" Mutter said.

The news came as it was confirmed that, "The United States economy officially sank into a recession last December, which means that the downturn is already longer than the average for all recessions since World War II, according to the committee of economists responsible for dating the nation’s business cycles," as the New York Times reported.

Johnson Network Would Have "Public Interest Focus"

Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, says his proposed new network has "got to have a public interest focus" and that he might be "going out to Hollywood and talking to some of the top African American producers to see what they'd like to see on television that they can't get on."Robert L. Johnson became a billionaire when he sold BET.

As reported last week, Johnson has asked the Federal Communications Commission to approve plans for a new "urban" television network that would share the signal on 42 stations owned by Ion Media Networks, Inc. With digital television, the signal could be split between two networks.

Such an arrangement is already being challenged by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association as "unconstitutional and unnecessary."

Harry A. Jessell of TV Newsday interviewed Johnson and published an edited transcript Tuesday. Here is an excerpt:

Q: Did you come up with this idea or did Ion bring this to you?

A. Interestingly enough, this came about by my thinking about what's possible in television. I've had conversations with [former congressman] J.C. Watts about his news channel and what he was trying to do. I've also been looking at doing something in the Internet space and so I was thinking about that particular platform. And remember when the Sirius guys were told they had to create minority channels on satellite radio? So, I got to thinking about whether you could do the same thing with television spectrum. That's when I got introduced to [Ion CEO] Brandon Burgess and we began talking.

Q. So what do you envision in terms of programming?

A. I really don't know yet. I know it's got to have a public interest focus. It's got to serve the broad base of the urban population, which is sorely underserved. So, I'm thinking about a range of things — going out to Hollywood and talking to some of the top African-American producers to see what they'd like to see on television that they can't get on. Maybe I'd invite some of the top minority entertainers and producers to co-invest in developing the channel.

Let me ask you: How many hours could Tyler Perry produce? He's got his own studio; he's got his own brand. How much could Jamie [Foxx] or Damon Wayans do? They pitch pilots and the pilots get turned down. Could they go into Procter & Gamble and say, "Hey I've got distribution now. It's sort of like syndication. I've got 42 stations. It has this footprint, this distribution. How about I produce six shows that integrate Procter & Gamble products in it?"

Another possibility might be an all-news, all-talk TV channel. Another is the biggest issue facing this country, particularly African-Americans: health and wellness lifestyle. Ion has some experience in doing that. Another is personal finance — employment, job opportunities, business opportunities.

Another approach is to make the channel available to individual program bidders who would come in and say, "I've got an idea for a program I want to do." We cut a deal where they program the channel and take half the spots.

We're also developing a social networking site called Point of View. It would allow people to produce programs and air them on the Internet and comment back and forth. Maybe some of these programs would be attractive and purchased by the networks. So we create a place for pilots to sort of incubate.

Q. So the programming is pretty much up in the air.

A. That's right. We really want to be creative.

The one thing we do know is that we are not looking to compete with BET or TV One and what they do. First of all, they're doing a great job at what they do. They're serving a market and there's no sense trying to split that market. It's probably not big enough to splitanyway.

So our goal would be to come up with something innovative and new that has far more deeper meaning in the urban market. I keep coming back to health and career and jobs. [Added Dec. 2] 

Gregory Reportedly NBC's Choice for "Meet the Press"

"NBC News plans to name David Gregory as moderator of 'Meet the Press,' infusing one of television’s most prized franchises with a sharp edge leavened by a youthful style and versatility, according to network executives," Mike Allen reported Tuesday for Politico, following a report by Danny Shea Monday on the Huffington Post. 

Gwen Ifill of PBS has said that she had informal conversations about the job with NBC officials several weeks ago.

"Ifill's presence would 'help signal a new era at "Meet the Press,"' Matea Gold wrote last week in the Los Angeles Times. "Currently the moderator of 'Washington Week' on PBS, the anchor would be the first African American moderator of the NBC program, a timely milestone that would coincide with the inauguration of the country's first black president."

Other candidates were said to be NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell and NBC political director Chuck Todd.

Allen wrote, "Gregory, 38, celebrated his 30th birthday – complete with cake – aboard George W. Bush’s presidential campaign plane, the assignment that solidified his stature as a network rising star. Enjoying a gravitas boost from his prematurely salt-and-pepper mane and friendships with Tom Brokaw and other of the legendary figures of NBC News, the Los Angeles native quickly became one of the hottest personalities in network news.

"The plan to anoint Gregory is not final but will be as soon as today, the executives said. NBC spokespeople refused to comment, saying the network would make the announcement.

"The decision was made by Jeff Zucker, president and chief executive officer of NBC Universal, and Steve Capus, president of NBC News."

On Monday, NBC responded to Politico regarding the Huffington Post report, saying," I don't know where they are getting this. We have nothing to announce." [Added Dec. 2]

What Newspapers Can Learn from Obama's Campaign

If those running the show at newspapers were wise, they might see deeper implications in Barack Obama's victory that relate to their long-term survival, Phyllis Kaniss, who teaches at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote for the American Journalism Review.

"Among the lessons they might consider:

"The suburbs are in play and realigning with cities. Barack Obama won in large part because many suburbanites turned away from the Republican Party and joined city dwellers to vote Democratic. For three decades, metropolitan newspapers have struggled in their efforts to capture affluent suburban residents living in small, fragmented political jurisdictions with waning interest in the central city. They have mostly been unsuccessful, whether experimenting with zoned editions that tried to compete with suburban papers or when turning their backs entirely on the dismal news of their struggling cities. But the campaign showed that there might be some real common threads uniting city and suburb. are likely to experience the full impact of the economic meltdown.'"

Her other lessons:

"New media can build personal relationships that boost engagement."

"Entertainment can be a lure, but not a substitute, for serious ideas."

"Revenue can be raised from the little guys as well as the big guys."

"Volunteers can further your mission."

Obama Urged Television Industry to Reflect America

"Long before he set out for the White House, Barack Obama sought to adjust the colors on America's TV sets," Greg Braxton reminded readers of the Los Angeles Times on Saturday.

"Four years ago, fresh off his star-making keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, Obama challenged the television industry to live up to its responsibility as the country's 'most powerful media' and accurately reflect the nation's population. 'TV ought to reflect the reality of America's diversity and should do so with pride and dignity, not with stereotypes," he told the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. But as Obama prepares to move into the White House in January, he and his family will be hard pressed to find blacks like themselves represented on any of the major networks — ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox.

"In fact, not only will they have great difficulty locating any black family in a leading role on the networks, they also will see it's nearly impossible to find a scripted comedy or drama that features a young person of color in a central role."

In the New York Times, Bill Carter put it this way on Saturday:

"It may say something about the state of American television that there is one more black president-elect of the United States than there are black actors with individual lead roles in a network television drama."

But Carter was optimistic:

"After years of ensemble dramas sprinkled with nonwhite supporting actors, the excitement surrounding the election of Barack Obama could help to open doors for more minorities in leading dramatic roles, executives from television production studios said," he wrote.

Internews program trained 1,000 journalists in Africa and Asia on how to prevent AIDS.On World AIDS Day, Reinvigorating the Fight

In a message for Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, Phill Wilson, CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, wrote, "We cannot relegate the AIDS fight to the government alone, not even with President Obama at the helm. So, here are several high-priority actions that Americans and our new government, together, should immediately take to reinvigorate our fight against HIV/AIDS:

"Support efforts to develop a National AIDS Strategy

"The U.S. government requires all foreign countries that receive assistance from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to have a national strategy to respond to HIV/AIDS. Shockingly, America has no national strategy for its own epidemic. No national targets are in place for reducing the number of new HIV infections or lowering the annual number of AIDS deaths. Multiple federal agencies own different pieces of the national AIDS response, yet in the absence of any national coordinating mechanism they stumble over each other, fight for turf, and leave critical priorities unaddressed."

Tim JacksonHe also urged communities, "Partner with the Obama administration to strengthen HIV prevention"; "Make knowledge of HIV status a universal community norm"; "Deliver treatments to those who need them" and "Build community capacity on AIDS."

Separately, the U.S. Agency for International Development noted that a U.S.-backed program has just completed training 1,000 journalists in Africa and Asia on how to prevent AIDS, saying the reporters and editors in turn have reached millions of people with their messages.

"The 1,000 journalists received five to seven days training by Internews, including visits to the home of a person with AIDS. The reporters learned to record background sounds and create a news magazine-style piece, which is new to Africa and other developing media. Some 70 percent of training focused on journalism techniques and 30 percent on medical knowledge."

Susan E. Rice, Obama's choice to be ambassador to the United Nations, is a former board member of Internews.

Asian Journalists Name Ellen Endo Executive Director 

Ellen EndoEllen Endo, a former manager in the television industry, has been appointed the new executive director of the Asian American Journalists Association, the association announced on Monday. 

Endo replaces Rene Astudillo, who has led AAJA since 1999 and had said he wanted to step down.

"Endo spent 24 years in TV industry senior management positions, serving as executive vice president of Republic Pictures Productions, senior vice president of MGM/UA Television, vice president of Embassy Communications, and program executive with the ABC network," a news release said. "She was instrumental in developing numerous television series, mini-series, and movies, among them the Emmy-winning 'Separate but Equal,' which dramatized the desegregation of schools by Brown vs. the Board of Education, and Golden Globe winner, 'One Against the Wind,' a historic drama set in World War II."

Endo also served as managing editor of the Los Angeles-based Rafu Shimpo, which calls itself the nation's leading bilingual Japanese American daily newspaper, and as chief operating officer of the nonprofit Go For Broke National Education Center, which offers programs about the history of Japanese American soldiers of World War II, the Japanese American incarceration, and the civil liberties issues raised by those events.

Indian Journalists Criticized from Many Directions

"Indian media was itself a major news item as the Mumbai terror attacks came to a conclusion over the weekend," Patrick Frater wrote Sunday for Variety.

"The country's broadcasters were summoned Friday by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to deal with charges that the live saturation coverage had helped the terrorists. At the same time, however, traditional media were criticized as too slow and inaccurate by legions of 'citizen journalists' using Internet services such as Twitter and photo site Flickr.

"The deputy commissioner of police argued that the terrorists, who were holed up in two major hotels and became involved in floor-by-floor firefights with police, were gaining tactical information from TV. Using powers under Section 19 of the country's Cable Television Networks Act, he ordered a blackout of TV news channels.

"Cable and satellite channels went off air for nearly half an hour before the order was rescinded.'

Indian journalists were also critiqued on the Web site of the South Asian Journalists Association. 

"Thanks to all the incredibly young, obviously inexperienced reporters who took on the task of talking nonstop for interminable hours, rushing from one vantage point to another. And don't forget being shoved, pushed and jostled by milling police, journalists, crowds and ducking every time there was an explosion. Forget the cadences, [intonation,] grammar, this was raw,  reportage coming to you from the terrifying landscape of grenades, guns and panic," Prem Kishore wrote.

But Saqlain Imam said, "The worst part of this whole drama . . . is the jingoistic Indian media and their anchorpersons. These media celebrities believe that they are the voice of people, while the fact is that they are merely goofs! In order to advance their commercial interests they are using the Indian nationalism as a commodity and trying to sell it as much as possible."

Weta Ray Clark Dies at 44, Was Editor at Raleigh Paper

"Weta Ray Clark, whose nearly five years as an editor at The News & Observer were distinguished by her creativity and her efforts to engage readers, died Saturday morning after a lengthy battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma," David Ranii reported on Sunday for the Raleigh, N.C., newspaper.

Weta Ray Clark"Clark, who was 44, joined The N&O as home and garden editor in October 2003 and last year took the additional role of features day editor. In September, she chose to leave the paper by taking a voluntary buyout offered to employees as part of a cost-cutting effort.

"'Weta was talented, creative and passionate about her work,' said John Drescher, executive editor. 'She really took ownership of the Home and Garden section, and she poured her heart into it.'

Clark's previous newspaper jobs included acting weekend editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer; senior copy editor and national/foreign wire editor at the Houston Chronicle and copy editor at New York Newsday. She was the mother of seven and had two grandchildren.

Short Takes

  • "The willingness of people to walk over another human being to get at the right price tag raises the question of how they got that way in the first place," David Carr wrote¬†on Sunday in the New York Times, commenting on the death by trampling Friday of a temporary worker, Jdimypai Damour, at a Wal-Mart store in Long Island, N.Y. "But in the search for the usual suspects and parceling of blame, the news media should include themselves. Just a few days ago, the same newspaper writers and television anchors who are now wearily shaking their heads at the collective bankruptcy of our mass consumer culture were cheering all of it on."
  • Chuck Leonard, perhaps the most recognizable face on local television in Columbus, Ga., has been suspended by WTVM-TV and won't return to the air until Jan. 7, according¬†to Richard Hyatt, a retired¬†reporter and columnist at the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Leonard joked on a morning radio show that President-elect Obama is not the first African American to serve in the White House because there have been African American servants in the White House, Hyatt wrote on his blog.
  • A week of aAdam Clayton Powell wide-ranging activities recalling the history of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the legendary Harlem congressman who would have turned 100 years old on Saturday, concluded that day at New York's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. An online remembrance¬†by Sadiq Green noted that "Powell fought to have Black journalists admitted to the Senate and House press galleries." Powell's son, Adam Clayton Powell III, told Journal-isms that that "was a major (and eventually successful) fight. It grew at least in part out of his experience as a newspaper editor in NYC in the 40's. In addition, there was the reality that the only people who were reporting his (and Dawson's) activity in Congress were the Afro, the Amsterdam, the Defender and the rest of the black press," references to Rep. William L. Dawson, D-Ill., the Afro-American newspapers, the New York Amsterdam News and the Chicago Defender.
  • Oprah Winfrey, music producer Sean Combs and author Terry McMillan will be among those honoring Susan L. Taylor, former editor in chief of Essence magazine, at a ceremony in New York on Tuesday, UPI reported. The event benefits Taylor's National CARES Mentoring Movement, which is dedicated to pairing vulnerable African American children with a caring mentor.¬†
  • "Across the country, longtime local TV anchors are a dying breed." Brian Stelter wrote Sunday in the New York Times. "Facing an economic slump and a severe advertising downturn, many stations have cut costs drastically in the last year, and veteran anchors, with their expensive contracts, seem to be shouldering a disproportionate share of the cutbacks. When station managers are forced to make cuts, hefty anchor salaries are a tempting target."
  • About 30 Hispanic activists gathered in front of Fresno's ABC-TV station last week to seek changes after remarks about Hispanics by the station's former general manager, Bob Hall, Brad Branan reported¬†for the Fresno Bee. The activists said they want the station to start a weekly public affairs program about Hispanics and initiate scholarships and internships for Hispanics.
  • Howard W. French, former New York Times China and West Africa correspondent, is hosting a one-hour Webcast on Tuesday at 1 p.m. Eastern time in his new role as a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Anyone can listen live at this link or by dialing 646-915-9583. One can also listen to a recording later. "He will discuss his career, his courses and much more," an announcement says.
  • The Phoenix Media/Communications Group, which publishes alternative weekly The Boston Phoenix and the free glossy Stuff@Night, has bought the Spanish-language newspaper El Planeta, the company said Monday, the Boston Business Journal reported. The Spanish weekly newspaper has a circulation of 50,000.
  • Security forces in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia arrested five men in the kidnapping of two European journalists who are being held in the hills east of Bosasso, the local governor said on Sunday, the Shabelle Media Network in Mogadishu reported on Monday. "Gunmen seized the British reporter and Spanish photographer on Wednesday in the latest attack on foreigners working in the lawless Horn of Africa nation."

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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Obama Calls on Two Journalists of Color

Why is that headline news? Serious question. I need the article to then explain why it's important that Obama called on two journalists of color. You've told me nothing about these two journos except that they have more melanin than others in the WH press corps, and yet based on that, I'm supposed to feel victorious? You can't be serious. I agree that we need a diverse press corps. But implying that Obama should call on these reporters because of their color, is a cheap strategy, unworthy of the goal. I'd prefer a serious discussion of how the WH press corps has managed to remain, literally, the white press corps. And I'm pretty sure that the reasons have nothing to do with the POTUS, whomever s/he may be. Unless you want Obama to issue a decree stating that henceforth he'll reserve at least 2 questions for journos of color? (Please do not answer that with a yes) Otherwise, I love the aggregation of news on here. Keep it up. Also, can you redesign the page so that comments flow after the target article and not at the end after all the day's articles? Thx.

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