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MSNBC Reported Ready to Hire Sharpton

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Activist Would Host at 6 p.m. on Cable Network

Joy-Ann Reid Succeeds David Wilson as Grio's M.E.

Critics Say Murdoch Owned Too Much

Jean-Jacques Taylor Leaving Dallas Paper for ESPN

Exit to ESPN Leaves One Black Newspaper Sports Editor

Sharpton, West Together Again at NABJ Convention

Chetry Leaving CNN for "Very Special Opportunity"

Essence Magazine Returning to Its Roots?

Hispanic Births Outpace Arrivals by Immigration

Short Takes

Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC, left, was among those honored by the Rev. Al Sharpton, second from left, and the National Action Network in April. In June, Griffin decided to try out Sharpton in the 6 p.m. slot. With them are Rachel Noerdlinger of Reverend Al Sharpton Media and former  Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., now an NBC News political analyst.

Activist Would Host at 6 p.m. on Cable Network

"After giving a nearly six-month tryout for the Internet talk show host Cenk Uygur, the cable news channel MSNBC is preparing to instead hand its 6 p.m. time slot to the Rev. Al Sharpton," Brian Stelter reported Thursday for the New York Times.

Such a move would respond to complaints from the NAACP that "Currently, there are no African American hosts or anchors on any national news show, cable or broadcast network, from the hours of 5PM-11PM."

But it is less likely to satisfy black journalists, who have continually criticized the networks for their failure to place journalists of color in these key prime-time slots.

When rumors surfaced this week that Sharpton was under consideration for the MSNBC job, one NABJ member told colleagues without challenge, "This would still be just another non-journalist media 'celebrity' receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent."

Another listed five African Americans who have had their own cable news shows, and noted that all but one have been nonjournalists: Alan Keyes, prime time, MSNBC; Carlos Watson, weekend, MSNBC; the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, weekend, CNN; Arthel Neville, Talkback Live/daytime, CNN; D.L. Hughley, weekend, CNN. Only Neville has a journalism background.

Moreover, as David Zurawik noted Thursday in the Baltimore Sun, "While the TV industry defines the hours of 8 to 11 p.m. weeknights as prime time, the NAACP appears to be expanding the definition. That matters, because Sharpton would be the first African-American prime-time cable host, according to the NAACP's definition."

MSNBC has not commented on the reports that Sharpton is under consideration, and that did not change on Thursday morning. "No comment from us on this," spokesman Jeremy Gaines told Journal-isms.

But Stelter reported that "Mr. Sharpton’s imminent hiring . . . was acknowledged by three people at the channel on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been signed."

Sharpton, a civil rights activist and radio host once viewed as outside the mainstream, has been guest hosting in the 6 p.m. time slot for the last three weeks.

His politics would fit with MSNBC's "progressive" political posture. Sharpton says on the website of the National Action Network, which he leads, "Rev. Al Sharpton uses 'Activism TV' to confront the Tea Party. As daily guest host on MSNBC from 6-7p.m. EST, Rev. Sharpton has shed light on GOP hypocrisy."

Stelter continued, "There had been uncertainty about the 6 p.m. slot ever since the channel’s marquee anchor, Keith Olbermann, departed in January, prompting Ed Schultz to be moved to 10 p.m. from 6," Stelter wrote. "Suddenly Mr. Uygur, who had been made a paid contributor to MSNBC months earlier, was handed 6 p.m., a big coup given that he had earlier campaigned to have his progressive Web show 'The Young Turks' picked up by MSNBC.

"He earned solid but not stand-out ratings; in late June the channel’s president, Phil Griffin, decided to try out Mr. Sharpton, and offered Mr. Uygur a new contract that included a weekend show, but not a higher-profile weekday show.

"Mr. Uygur, who by most accounts was well liked within MSNBC, said in an interview that he turned down the new contract because he felt Mr. Griffin had been the recipient of political pressure."

Joy-Ann Reid Succeeds David Wilson as Grio's M.E.

Joy-Ann Reid, a freelance columnist for the Miami Herald and editor of the political blog The Reid Report, has been named managing editor of NBC's African American oriented website theGrio.com, NBC announced on Thursday. She succeeds founder David Wilson, who will oversee business operations and growth strategy as executive editor.

"David’s transition to Executive Editor represents a huge milestone for the theGrio," NBC's announcement said. " 'Since founding the site in June 2009, David has built the organization and grown theGrio.com to be the leading place for news and information for the African-American community,' said Michael Chen, President of the Strategic Initiatives Group at NBC News. 'We look forward to David and Joy-Ann taking theGrio.com to new heights in the months to come.'

"Reporting to Wilson, Reid will oversee the editorial operations of theGrio. Her responsibilities include leading editorial coverage and strategy for the site, as well as managing all of theGrio's correspondents and contributors. Reid will also contribute on-air for MSNBC."

NBC News and Three Part Media LLC, of which Wilson is a founding member, launched the Grio in 2009 as "a video-centric news site devoted to stories and perspectives that appeal to the African American community."

Wilson, a television producer, had produced "Meeting David Wilson" in 2008 for NBC News, the story of how Wilson, who is black, met his namesake, a white Southerner. The white David Wilson was the descendant of the family that owned the black David Wilson's ancestors as slaves. The program aired on MSNBC.

Wilson said in the release, "With Joy-Ann leading the editorial strategy for the site, we are able to devote more time and resources to advancing the business strategy of our growing franchise."

The June figures from the comScore measurement company show theGrio with 1,231,000 unique visitors. For other black-oriented websites, the figures were 3,128,000 for MediaTakeOut.com; 3,036,000 for BET Networks; 2,215,000 for Black Voices, now part of Huffington Post; 2,121,000 for theRoot.com; 1,686,000 for Bossip.com; 1,194,000 for essence.com; 935,000 for HelloBeautiful.com; 771,000 for BlackPlanet.com; NewsOne with 756,000 and 652,000 for MadameNoire.com.

Reid is a former talk radio producer and host for Radio One, and was previously an online news editor for the NBC affiliate WTVJ in Miramar, Fla., the release said. "During the 2004 presidential campaign, Reid served as the Florida deputy communications director for the 527 'America Coming Together' initiative, and was a press aide in the final stretch of President Barack Obama's Florida campaign in 2008."

Critics Say Murdoch Owned Too Much

July 20, 2011

News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch is attacked Tuesday by a man understood to be comedian Jonnie Marbles, wielding a foam pie at a House of Commons committee hearing into Britain's phone hacking scandal. (Video) (Credit: Metro)

Scandal Encourages Opponents of Media Consolidation

"Progressive activists and public interest groups have long blasted Rupert Murdoch and his News Corporation for political biases. But in recent weeks they have seized on a new and more tangible reason to call for the revocation of his TV licenses and the breakup of his company: the British hacking scandal," Brian Stelter reported Tuesday in the New York Times.

"The scandal, they say, is an opportunity to raise awareness of — and, they hope, objection to — media consolidation at a time when the American government is reviewing the rules that govern how much companies like News Corporation, Comcast and the Walt Disney Company can own.

Bobby Rush" 'For those of us who’ve been warning about the dangers of too much media power concentrated in too few corporate hands, this scandal is a godsend,' said Jeff Cohen, the founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College.

"The scandal is also giving Democratic lawmakers an opportunity to call for more attention to the practices of such companies.

"Representative Bobby Rush, a Democrat of Illinois and a past critic of Mr. Murdoch, questioned in an interview whether the media mogul had been allowed to amass too much media power. 'We can’t forget the fundamental tenet of media ownership in the United States. It’s not a right, it’s a privilege. And it’s a privilege based on trust and responsibility,' he said."

Journalist of color organizations have opposed further media consolidation because it squeezes out opportunities for smaller potential owners of color, among other reasons.

As the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism noted in its 2009 report, "The State of the News Media," "Black ownership of television still has some considerable distance to go.

"Advertising Age reported in April that out of 1,379 commercial TV stations, only eight stations are owned by African Americans. . . .

"One study, by Free Press, a non-profit that promotes diversity in media ownership, found that African Americans comprised 13% of the U.S. population but only owned 1.3% of its TV stations in 2006. Furthermore, the study found that there had been no improvement in the level of minority ownership in television since 1998."

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that the number of news operations owned by Murdoch's companies had made them too powerful.

"Giving his most detailed thoughts so far on the future of media regulation, Cameron said media ownership rules could be changed to avoid any organisation holding too much sway," the Guardian newspaper reported. "He said: 'We need competition policy properly enforced. We need a sensible look at the relevance of plurality and cross-media ownership.

" 'Above all we need to ensure that no one voice, not News Corporation, not the BBC, becomes too powerful.'"

Jean-Jacques Taylor Leaving Dallas Paper for ESPN

Jean-Jacques TaylorAfter 20 years at the Dallas Morning News, sports columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor is leaving to become a columnist for ESPNDallas.com, ESPN announced.

Unlike when Taylor replaced Kevin Blackistone in 2006, Taylor will not be succeeded by another journalist of color. Editor Bob Mong told Journal-isms that Rick Gosselin, "legendary NFL writer," will assume the position.

ESPN said that Taylor will start there on Aug. 1. "Taylor will cover everything from the Dallas Cowboys’ quest for a Super Bowl ring to Texas high school football. He will also contribute to ESPN Radio 103.3 FM, the flagship station of the Dallas Mavericks and Texas Rangers," the network said.

“We couldn’t be more excited about adding one of the premier sports columnists in the country,” Barry Vigoda, managing editor for ESPNDallas.com, said on espnmediazone3.com. "Jean-Jacques has had his finger on the pulse of the Dallas-Fort Worth sports scene for 20 years. We can’t wait to be able to share his wealth of knowledge, analysis and opinion with the sports fans of north Texas on ESPNDallas.com and ESPN Radio 103.3 FM."

Mong agreed that Taylor is a "gigantic talent."

Bob Yates, Morning News executive sports editor, praised the Dallas native in a note to the staff.

"A fair number of journalists begin their careers as interns and wind up as columnists. Few accomplish that feat at the same newspaper. Emerging journalists, much like the prophets of old, are not always appreciated in their hometown. Jacques Taylor was an exception.

"Not only did he start as an intern here, he was the longest-tenured intern in SportsDay history. Shortly after Jacques arrived from Ohio State, we realized we had a talent on our hands. We kept extending his internship while we waited for a permanent position to open. Just as Jacques was about to become intern emeritus, we gained an opening and were able to hire Jacques.

". . . Even as he advanced in his career, he never forgot where he came from. He always took our interns under his wing and encouraged young people wherever he met them. He was a regular speaker at high school journalism day. Another time, he was at a mall when a high school freshman approached him and asked for advice. Jacques encouraged the kid and stayed in touch with him. Years later, the kid became one of our college interns.

"Jacques always took pride in being a local guy. He grew up in Oak Cliff and attended Skyline High School. He had deep roots, which included the horticulture variety. When he was a kid, he convinced his mother that his alleged allergies prevented him from mowing the lawn. His mom hired young Michael Johnson to do the job. Odds are that the future Olympic champion did the job in world record time. . . ."

Exit to ESPN Leaves One Black Newspaper Sports Editor

Larry Graham

When Larry Graham Jr. was named sports editor of the 50,500-circulation Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer in January, he became the only African American sports editor at a mainstream daily. As recently as 2007, six African Americans had been in that club, but the Internet lured many away.

The figure inched back up to two in April, when Lisa Wilson, assistant sports editor at the Buffalo News, was promoted to executive sports editor.

Now Graham is leaving for ESPN.com, he told Journal-isms this week. "I recently accepted a General Editor position with ESPN.com," he wrote by email, ". . . My last day in Fayetteville, NC is Aug. 1." Graham said he would work at the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn.

Before arriving in Fayetteville, Graham was assistant sports editor at ThisWeek Community Newspapers in Columbus, Ohio, preps copy editor and page designer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, sports editor at the Lima (Ohio) News, assistant sports editor at the Oshkosh (Wis.) Northwestern, sports reporter at the Lee's Summit (Mo.) Journal and preps reporter at the Kansas City Star.

Sharpton, West Together Again at NABJ Convention

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Cornel West, the high-profile Princeton University professor, plan to revisit their widely publicized disagreement over President Obama's commitment to African American concerns, this time at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, which takes place in Philadelphia in two weeks.

Sharpton and West are to be part of the W.E.B. DuBois lecture plenary, 'Black Out or Black In?" appearing with Michael Steele, former Republican national chairman, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

The session is scheduled Thursday, Aug. 4, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

"President Barack Obama is facing a tough re-election campaign in 2012. He enjoys huge support for African Americans, yet critics – even some of his ardent supporters – say he has not done enough to help those who look like him. Hear what our panelists have to say about elections 2012," reads the convention announcement from NABJ.

West and Sharpton clashed on an April 10 MSNBC special, "A Stronger America: The Black Agenda," hosted by Ed Schultz. They had a less contentious discussion on June 24 at the National Newspaper Publishers Association convention in Chicago, moderated by veteran journalist George E. Curry.

Among public figures, West carries one of the most misspelled first names. He was named after the actor Cornel Wilde, not the university.

NABJ announced previously that Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, would appear Thursday morning in an opening plenary moderated by Lester Holt, anchor of the weekend edition of "NBC Nightly News" and co-anchor of the weekend "Today."

Kiran Chetry, right, co-anchors CNN “American Morning” with Ali Velshi.

Chetry Leaving CNN for "Very Special Opportunity"

"July 29th will be Kiran Chetry‘s last day at CNN, with the anchor leaving to take a 'very special opportunity' elsewhere, according to someone familiar with her decision," Alex Weprin wrote last week for TVNewser.

"For 'American Morning,' the Chetry move is the latest shakeup for the show, which has had a tumultuous year talent-wise. John Roberts left the program last year, and since then the show has had a revolving door of anchors. TVNewser hears that a formal decision on the future of CNN mornings could come in the next few months. The decision would solidify the morning hours with a permanent replacement, but there is also a chance that more talent could depart the network as a result."

Chetry was born in Kathmandu, Nepal, according to her bio.

Essence Magazine Returning to Its Roots?

Esperanza SpaldingIn February, this column noted that the March issue of Essence magazine, delivered during Black History Month, might as well have be renamed "Wigs and Weaves." "The overwhelming number of images show black women wearing hair that isn't naturally theirs or doesn't seem to be," we said. Subsequent issues weren't much different.

It's only fair to note, then, that the August issue, just out, represents a return to acknowledging the diversity among black women. Constance C.R. White's second issue as editor-in-chief shows women of varying skin tones and hair styles. White herself wears her hair in a natural style. A three-page feature called "Fro-tastic!" declares, "Don't Call It a Comeback. The Afro Is Here to Stay." It features Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding.

In February, Essence spokeswoman Dana Baxter replied to Journal-isms' observation by saying, "Making such a broad generalization based on just one issue of the magazine obscures the brand and its inclusiveness over the past 40 years. At the core of Essence’s mission is highlighting Black women’s inner and outer beauty, as well as celebrating her in all of her diversity, which we do every month in ESSENCE and everyday on essence.com."

Alas, we can't show you what any of the August pages look like. "Unfortunately we don’t allow internal images to be posted online," a spokeswoman said.

Hispanic Births Outpace Arrivals by Immigration

"Births have surpassed immigration as the main driver of the dynamic growth in the U.S. Hispanic population. This new trend is especially evident among the largest of all Hispanic groups — Mexican-Americans, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center," the Hispanic Center said last week.

"In the decade from 2000 to 2010, the Mexican-American population grew by 7.2 million as a result of births and 4.2 million as a result of new immigrant arrivals. This is a change from the previous two decades when the number of new immigrants either matched or exceeded the number of births.

"The current surge in births among Mexican-Americans is largely attributable to the immigration wave that has brought more than 10 million immigrants to the United States from Mexico since 1970. Between 2006 and 2010 alone, more than half (53%) of all Mexican-American births were to Mexican immigrant parents. As a group, these immigrants are more likely than U.S.-born Americans to be in their prime child-bearing years. They also have much higher fertility."

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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