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More Work for 4 Black Journalism Programs

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

On Diversity Goal, Auburn, NYU Found Lacking

When the accrediting committee for journalism programs met two weekends ago, all four of the programs before it from historically black schools received recommendations for only provisional accreditation.

If the recommendations hold – the full Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications meets May 5 and 6 – it does not mean any will lose accreditation, only that the schools have up to two years to come into compliance.

The four are Southern, Hampton, Winston-Salem State and Florida A&M universities, and they each failed on one or two of the nine standards.

All told, 19 schools came up for review. Both mainstream schools that received the provisional recommendation – Auburn and New York universities – failed the diversity standard.

That all four black colleges were on the provisional list raised some eyebrows at those schools. Some noted that other schools who failed the same number of standards were recommended for reaccreditation.

[Added March 21: Susanne Shaw, director of the council, told Journal-isms there was no one-to-one correlation between standards out of compliance and whether the accreditation was provisional. "It depends on the degree" of compliance "and whether the unit had a history of problems with the standard," she said, adding that it was not unusual for first-time applicants, such as Winston-Salem State, to be given provisional status on their first try.]

"I thought we had enough indicators that would have justified" full accreditation, James E. Hawkins, dean of the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, told Journal-isms.

"The one thing I know is we shouldn't have been provisional," Interim Chair Mahmoud Braima of Southern University said.

Hawkins said FAMU failed the "mission, governance and administration" standard, noting that its journalism director, Kimberly Godwin, left in October for a job as assistant news director at New York's WCBS-TV, leaving the post vacant. Hawkins said he was advertising for a replacement. Hawkins also said the council found "communications issues" between himself and the faculty, and that he was meeting with members to identify areas of improvement.

At Hampton University, as reported last month, the site team cited a lack of academic scholarship by its newly minted professors and the lack of a faculty voice in decision-making.

Winston Salem State, applying for accreditation for the first time, "should have no problem" in meeting the requirements, Brian Blount, who chairs the mass communications faculty, told Journal-isms today. The accrediting team wanted the school to include more courses specifically about "minorities," women or African Americans, and to tighten up its student assessment practices.

Southern University also had assessment issues, and "didn't have enough faculty," Braima told Journal-isms. He said the team felt the school needed one more faculty member, but said he had already advertised for two – one to teach public relations and print journalism; the other for television and radio production.

At the mainstream schools, Brooke Kroeger, journalism chair at NYU, said she issued a formal response to its failure on the diversity standard. "You can rest assured that NYU is committed to the diversity question in all possible facets," she told Journal-isms. "I have no doubt we will have this resolved very shortly." Without elaboration, she called the judgment "a misperception because of events."

At Auburn, in Alabama, John Carvalho who heads the journalism program, said two African American faculty members – Michael Mercer and D. Michael Cheers – had left and no others had replaced them. He said the site team said the school lacked having a diversity plan in place, and that the percentage of journalism students of color – 8 percent – should more closely match the percentage in the area – the "low 20s" – or at least that of the rest of the university, 11 percent.

"Over-all, the department has been operating over the past few years without a diversity plan," the site-visit team wrote. "The department has not been inactive, and indeed, there have been some creative endeavors. . . But there has been no broad strategy plan guiding these efforts, and sustainability is a serious issue." The school also fell short on two other standards.

Accrediting officials could not be reached for comment, as many schools are on spring break, including Howard University. Jannette Dates and Barbara Hines, both from Howard, headed two of the teams that granted provisional accreditation to the historically black schools.

In 2002, Susanne Shaw, director of the council, said nearly one in four college journalism programs seeking accreditation failed the diversity criterion, though none had been denied accreditation because of it.

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Black Radio Entrepreneurs Still Get Static

Some of the "36 most influential African Americans in radio," as chosen by the Radio Ink trade magazine, say the playing field is still uneven when it comes to radio ownership.

The publication made its selections in its March 13 issue and asked nominees to join a discussion about issues facing African Americans in that industry.

The list, which is not online, is topped by Alfred Liggins, CEO and president of Radio One, Inc.; his mother, Catherine Hughes, founder and chairperson of Radio One; Pierre "Pepe" Sutton, chairman/CEO of IBBC Broadcast Holdings, Inc., formerly Inner City Broadcasting; Sydney L. Small, chairman and CEO of Access.1 Communications; and Ronald Davenport Sr., chairman of Sheridan Broadcasting.

According to the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, "consolidation and specifically the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 have dramatically decreased African American ownership in the past decade," Sherman Kizart, senior vice president and director of urban marketing for Interep, no. 24 on the list, said in the story.

"African Americans make up more than 12 percent of the U.S. population, but less than 5 percent of radio ownership. That is a huge disparity. Access to capital and to deal flow are the two significant reasons for the dwindling number of minority owners." Deal flow is defined as the rate at which investment offers are presented to funding institutions.

"Leadership opportunities within the general market environment for African Americans are as scarce as hen's teeth," said Jerry Lopes, president of program operations and affiliations for the American Urban Radio Network, who was no. 22 on the list.

But Skip Finley, corporate vice chairman, ICBC Broadcast Holdings, Inc., no. 6, said, "There are few individual ownership opportunities, regardless of race. When retail grows and prospers, radio will, too."

The broadcasters agreed that the growth of high-definition radio, which enables AM and FM stations to broadcast their programs digitally, will be a boon. "HD Radio will be so diverse, it appears to be leaving no Urban format on the idea floor," said Doc Wynter, senior vice president of programming for urban radio at Clear Channel, who was no. 31. ""HD Radio will spur diversity and permit broadcasters to take chances," said Liggins.

Concluded comedian Steve Harvey, now an on-air host, and no. 27 on the list: "We have an obligation to get back to what radio used to be. It got away from a place where spirituality was passed out and turned into so many songs in a row. That's not what we are. We care about what's happening in the world today, we care about what our kids are doing. That's the obligation of Urban radio, and people who don't do that are missing the boat on what we are."

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Chicago's WVON: Family and "Community Trust"

"In this big-money era of consolidated station ownership and homogenized program formats, smaller, independent stations like WVON -- with its tiny audience of mostly older listeners, weak broadcast signal and modest revenues – face oblivion," Don Terry wrote today in the Chicago Tribune.

"Yet the station perseveres, in large part because it fills a niche no general-market station would: providing a venue for its mostly African-American listeners to express their anger, hurt and pride and to share information about which politicians to believe in – a short list – or when to show up to protest a school closing or how to break off a little piece of the American Dream. WVON is more than a radio station; it's a family business that has become a community trust."

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Spanish-Language Paper Full of Fake Bylines

"A front-page story praising the service of Utah's first Latina Cabinet member in last week's Mundo Hispano, a Utah Spanish-language newspaper, carries the reporter's byline 'Elena Montalbo,'" Jennifer W. Sanchez wrote Friday in the Salt Lake Tribune.

"The problem? She doesn't exist.

"The newspaper's publisher and editor, Gladys Gonzalez, acknowledges the byline is a pseudonym and says other Mundo Hispano writers use fake names, too. Gonzalez and Mundo Hispano Managing Editor Patricia Quijano said the lead story – about the recent resignation of Utah Community and Cultural Affairs Director Yvette Diaz – was written by a freelance reporter who always uses a pseudonym."

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N.Y. Times Spotlights Problems of Black Men

"Black men in the United States face a far more dire situation than is portrayed by common employment and education statistics, a flurry of new scholarly studies warn, and it has worsened in recent years even as an economic boom and a welfare overhaul have brought gains to black women and other groups," Erik Eckholm wrote in a front-page story today in the New York Times.

"Focusing more closely than ever on the life patterns of young black men, the new studies, by experts at Columbia, Princeton, Harvard and other institutions, show that the huge pool of poorly educated black men are becoming ever more disconnected from the mainstream society, and to a far greater degree than comparable white or Hispanic men."

Kim Pearson, a professor at the College of New Jersey, told colleagues in the National Association of Black Journalists today that the story "highlights the importance of preserving such programs as the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation, which provides longitudinal data on some of the social indicators that tell us what is really going [on] with poor people, in particular. It was very telling that at several points in the story, the author pointed out that we don't have a true picture of, say black unemployment, because some people just aren't counted anymore. Eliminating SIPP will compound that problem," she said.

She added, "We need to do more reporting on some of the innovative methods that are being employed to address the challenge of educating all of our children. There is some data to support culturally responsive teaching as one way of addressing these problems, and more work is being done in this area every day."

In a development closer to home for black professionals, researchers at Duke University and their colleagues identified a trait they dubbed "John Henryism" among African Americans who are preoccupied with success but lack adequate resources, leading to health problems.

"Psychologists have formally recognized John Henryism as a style of strong coping behaviors used by many African Americans to deal with psychosocial and environmental stressors such as career issues, health problems and even racism," according to an account of a presentation at the American Psychosomatic Society's annual meeting in Denver.

"The classic traits of JH are seen among those African Americans who are extremely preoccupied with success, particularly in new environments with which they have little experience. Most commonly, people with JH are extremely goal-oriented but often lack the resources they need for success, such as financial or emotional support, the researchers said.

"People with high levels of JH and inadequate resources have a much higher prevalence of health disorders, the researchers added, because they drive themselves toward reaching specific goals at the expense of their health, often without realizing they are doing so."

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Colbert King Reveals Details in Rosenbaum Case

"From the start, questions have swirled around the emergency treatment received by New York Times reporter David E. Rosenbaum after he was mugged in Washington, D.C. on the night of Jan. 6. Taken to the hospital, he later died from being hit on the head by his assailants (who were later arrested)," Editor & Publisher wrote Saturday.

"E&P has covered the developments, but the one reporter who has stayed on the case is Colbert King, the Pulitzer Prize-wining columnist for The Washington Post. He has written a series of columns in the past month, probing the delay in reaching Rosenbaum on the street that night, then the failure to diagnose him with serious injuries. An official investigation is now underway.

"Today, King returned to the subject with his most damning new information yet.

"Relying on new documents, King reveals that the hospital and workers who took Rosenbaum to the hospital that night were quickly taken out of service when questions emerged about what had transpired. In fact, 'very poor judgment' was cited that night."

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Paper's Artists Give Cop a Klan-Style Hood

"One of the biggest issues incoming San Antonio police chief William McManus will have to face is the number of recent officer-involved shootings here in San Antonio," Amanda Taylor reported Friday on San Antonio's KENS-TV.

"Now a controversial picture in response to those shootings has San Antonio police fuming.

"On the cover of the San Antonio Observer is an image of a San Antonio police officer wearing a computer-generated Ku Klux Klan-style hood.

"The image of the officer is paired with images of hate – the hood and a handgun.

"The San Antonio Observer is a paper that describes itself as a voice of the minority community. The Observer says the cover picture is there to prove a point.

"'The cover typifies the relationship between the minority and police department, historically, since the civil rights movement,' Observer spokeswoman Ida Brown said.

"But police feel otherwise."

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Angela Bofill Fund-Raiser Nets $22,000

A March 11 benefit concert to raise money for singer Angela Bofill, who suffered a stroke and is paralyzed on her left side, raised more than $22,000, her former manager, Rich Engel, told Journal-isms today. But the hospital bills for Bofill, who lacks health insurance, will run to "a couple of hundred thousand dollars," he said.

Bofill's stroke took place in January, less than three months after she entertained members of the National Association of Black Journalists at its annual "Salute to Excellence Awards" dinner in Washington. But "she sees herself improving, and gets inspiration from that," Engel said.

Engel said an album recorded in 2004, "Angela Bofill in Manila," was being released to raise additional money, and that he was planning another benefit in Detroit. Some 1,100 attended the performance at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, N.J., with tickets ranging from $20 to $90. Engle said more information would be posted at www.liveatnite.com and later at www.angelabofill.com.

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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