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NABJ Asks Editor & Publisher to Discuss All-White Cover Story

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Tuesday, January 27, 2004

NABJ Asks E&P to Discuss All-White Cover Story

The president of the National Association of Black Journalists, Herbert Lowe, today asked the editor of Editor & Publisher magazine, Greg Mitchell, to discuss its current cover story on parent-child journalism pairs, one "that so obviously disregarded racial diversity."

As reported Monday, all 11 pairs in the story are white.

"The idea I don't think was to reflect necessarily the wide diversity of people in newsrooms," writer Joe Strupp, an E&P associate editor, told Journal-isms on Monday. "It was to look at children of journalists who go into journalism. We could have spent six or 10 months looking for people of color. I believe we did a pretty extensive search. There was no effort to exclude them."

Lowe wrote Mitchell that, "The search really didn¹t need to be that extensive, and certainly not take months, to find a black journalist whose child or parent works for a newspaper.

"All E&P had to do, for example, was call NABJ.

He added that, "When newspapers are caught doing such exclusionary journalism, we readily ask, who on staff helps guard against this? It's clear we now must ask the same question about E&P."

Mitchell did not return telephone calls today. But on Tuesday, Strupp replied to an NABJ member who questioned the story by writing, "I appreciate your letter and I am sorry you feel that way. We researched the piece carefully, but there are always people we could have added. I suggest you write a letter to the editor."

Text of Lowe's letter is at the end of today's posting.

Honolulu Paper Promotes White, Black, Asian

In a personnel announcement unusual in the diversity it reflects, the Honolulu Advertiser announced Sunday that it had promoted Mark Platte, Marsha McFadden and Sandra Oshiro to top newsroom jobs.

Platte, who is white, was named executive editor, the newsroom's No. 2 position. McFadden, who is African American, and Sandra Oshiro, a founding member of the Hawai'i chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association, were named assistant managing editors.

Promotion and Demotion at Dallas' WFAA-TV

Cliff Williams, a 21-year veteran of WFAA-TV, the Belo station in Dallas-Fort Worth, has been named managing editor of the station, while another African American, Assistant News Director Connie Howard, a six-year veteran there, has been demoted to nighttime executive producer.

"Suffice to say that I want to be assistant news director. I don't think I did anything that deserved a demotion," Howard told Journal-isms, "but this upper management of the company felt otherwise, and I respect that." As assistant news director, Howard supervised the weather team, the chief photographer and the producers. She previously worked in Birmingham, Ala., and Tampa, Fla.

Of Howard, "all I can say is that she's still a valuable member of my management team. She has many strengths that make her a valuable member of the team," David Duitch, vice president/news, told Journal-isms. He noted that of the three executive producers, responsible for different times of day, Howard will be overseeing the critical 10 p.m. newscast.

Williams, who started at the station as a tape editor and rose to chief photographer, a position he has held for the last five years, will oversee the assignment desk and camera crews, Duitch said.

Tim Giago Running for Daschle's Senate Seat

Tim Giago, founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association, has announced he is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democratic leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

"Giago, an Oglala Lakota and editor/publisher of the Lakota Journal newspaper in Rapid City and the Pueblo Journal in Albuquerque, N.M., said Friday that he will seek the Democratic nomination against Daschle," David Kranz wrote Jan. 10 in the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D.

"Last month, Lakota Media Inc., owner of both publications, was sold to the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe.

"'My basic reason for running is that for the past 50 years, the Indian vote on the Indian reservations has been taken for granted in this state,' said Giago, 69.

"Daschle, 56, welcomed Giago to the political arena and spoke positively about him.

"I have known Tim for more than 20 years and have respect for him as a community leader and a businessman," Daschle was quoted as saying. "I have applauded his efforts to encourage reconciliation in South Dakota."

However, the piece also quoted Herbert Hoover, professor of history at the University of South Dakota, as saying:

"Nothing surprises me in what Tim Giago does. I think he realizes he doesn't have a chance in the primary. He is just trying to make a statement. It is strange with all Daschle does for Native Americans. Giago can't win. A primary could give Daschle a chance to show what kind of clout he has."

Austin Editor Arnold Garcia in Ethical Flap

"An Austin American-Statesman editor has sustained heavy criticism after an open records request revealed he decided not to publish an editorial column in response to a top city official's request," reports Angela Grant in the Daily Texan, newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin.

"'I've repeatedly told people not to put anything in e-mail that they'd be embarrassed to read on the front page of the newspaper,' wrote Editorial Page Editor Arnold Garcia Jr. in a Nov. 15 article.

"But Garcia agreed in a September e-mail exchange with Mayor Will Wynn not to publish news of a local company's plans to expand its headquarters over the Edwards Aquifer."

"I think the editor lost sight of the most important obligation, which is to his readers," said Gary Hill, chair of SPJ's Ethics Committee," a reference to the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Austin American-Statesman added in its own story:

"American-Statesman Editor Richard Oppel said Garcia's agreement was within the legitimate bounds of an off-the-record arrangement with a source, and Garcia has no jurisdiction or influence over news coverage.

"'There is no coverup of the Temple-Inland deal,' Oppel said. 'Reporters separately pursue information. And if they get it, we publish it. In this case, Arnold got the story before the reporters. It's too bad we couldn't use the material.'

"Oppel said the newspaper's policy prohibits staff from sharing drafts of editorials or news articles with public officials or others outside the newspaper. He declined to comment on whether Garcia's promise to share a draft of the editorial with Wynn resulted in any action."

Wil Haygood Book Honored by Black Librarians

Washington Post writer Wil Haygood's biography of Sammy Davis Jr., "In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr.," has won the 2004 Literary Award for nonfiction from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

?Freedom In The Family,? by former Miami Herald reporter Tananarive Due and her mother, Patricia Stephens Due, was an "honor book" winner in the category. The book is an ancestral history of their roles in the civil rights era.

As described by the library group, "Haygood chronicles the career of Sammy Davis, Jr. from a four-year old vaudeville performer through his career as one of the country's leading entertainers. Haygood reveals the persona that surrounds Sammy's icon status. Based on extensive research and more than two hundred and fifty interviews, the author intertwines racial challenges with Davis' experience of being trapped between two worlds -- one black and one white -- that parallels the conflicts of race relations in America."

In fact, Haygood's book is most likely the best book by a black journalist published in 2003, both for its reporting and writing, and its adoption of a black point of view, which aroused the ire of some white reviewers.

Writing in the New York Times, Gary Giddins wrote:

"Haygood, a writer at The Washington Post and the author of a biography of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., argues repeatedly that Davis wanted to be white; he quotes a Davis employee who says, 'He thought he was white.' He apparently did think that he could live his life as though he had the same rights as anyone else, which meant that he could emulate white entertainers as well as black ones, and pursue women of any color. Prince Spencer of the Four Step Brothers tells Haygood that he saw 'Sammy "Uncle Tomming" with white people, and I resented it. The Step Brothers, well, we knew our place was not to be in white people's company." Which is the more courageous attitude, knowing one's place or refusing placement?"

On the other hand, Keith Garebian wrote in the Toronto Globe and Mail:

"Several things give this book its power and depth: One is certainly the fact that Haygood, a staff writer for The Washington Post, is an award-winning black writer who can write from an interior understanding of black history; another is Haygood's forceful style (only occasionally marred by overheated rhetorical devices), which unveils documentary information while retaining a broad sense of the celebratory and the elegiac; and a third is the author's sense of the sweeping cultural chronicle, accompanied by his knowledge of black entertainment."

The awards carry a $500 prize and "recognize outstanding works by African American authors depicting the cultural, historical, or socio-political aspects of the African Diaspora."

Ex-Phoenix Anchor Joins Mayor's Staff

Former news anchor Gerardo Higginson has become senior assistant to the mayor of Phoenix, starting Jan. 5 as the new administration of Mayor Phil Gordon took office. Phoenix mayoral administrations are nonpartisan, a spokeswoman told Journal-isms.

As Daisy Pareja reported in Pareja Media Match, Higginson's primary responsibilities will be working with Spanish and minority media relations and as liaison to the growing immigrant community. Gerardo is a former spokesman for the city of Phoenix, news anchor for NBC/Telemundo 48 of Phoenix, online journalist for and a columnist for La Voz newspaper in Phoenix.

N.Y. Times Reporter to Cover Conservatives

"The conservative movement, which at various points has felt slighted, ignored, abused, dismissed and otherwise thoroughly adrift in coverage by New York?s 'media elites,' has finally found a place in The New York Times. Sort of," writes Sridhar Pappu in the New York Observer.

"For the next year, David Kirkpatrick -- formerly the man charged with covering the book publishing industry -- will cover conservatives. Not the Republican Party or the Bush administration. No, it?s real conservatives.

"In an announcement earlier this month Times national editor Jim Roberts said that Mr. Kirkpatrick 'will examine conservative forces in religion, politics, law, business and the media -- a job that will take him across the country and make him a frequent presence in Washington.

"'His coverage will cut across the political campaigns this season,' Mr. Roberts continued, 'but we expect that much of what he does will transcend the race itself and delve into the issues and personalities that drive?and sometimes divide?conservatives.'"

Bay Area Station Fined Over Indecent Exposure . . .

"The Federal Communications Commission fined the owners of Bay Area television station KRON $27,500 Tuesday for broadcasting a live news segment in which a performer from a stage show flashed his genitals," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

"The penalty is the maximum allowed for a single infraction and was only the second fine in the FCC's history for a television broadcast, according to one commissioner.

"The agency has come under increased pressure to crack down on profanity on the airwaves. A congressional hearing on obscenity is scheduled for today, prompted in part by the FCC's decision not to fine NBC after Bono, the lead singer of rock group U2, uttered the word f -- during the broadcast of the Golden Globes Awards show last year.

and FCC Asks $755,000 Fine Against Clear Channel

"The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $755,000 fine against San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications Inc. for allegedly violating indecency rules and public inspection file rules," writes James Aldridge in the San Antonio Business Journal.

"FCC Commissioners voted Tuesday to fine four Clear Channel radio stations in Florida for airing indecent material 26 times over several days. At issue is the stations' airing of a program called 'Bubba the Love Sponge.'

"While commissioners did not publicly specify what they found indecent, they did say that the stations aired material that was graphic and sexually explicit that were designed to 'titillate and shock listeners.'

Welcome to Those Who Linked from Nieman Site

Welcome to those who got here via the new link to this column on the Web site of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism Education. As mentioned in another context, both founder Bob Maynard his his daughter, Maynard Institute President Dori J. Maynard, were Nieman fellows. Links to this column can also be found on the Web sites of the Asian American Journalists Association, Newspaper Association of America, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Poynter Institute and Unity: Journalists of Color. Thanks to those who worked to get them there.

NABJ President's Letter to E&P Editor

Jan. 28, 2004

Greg Mitchell, Editor Editor & Publisher 770 Broadway New York, New York 10003

Dear Sir:

NABJ is disappointed that Editor & Publisher debuted its new monthly edition with a lengthy cover story that so obviously disregarded racial diversity. The article, "It¹s a Family Affair," spotlights nearly a dozen parent/child newspaper pairs, all of whom are white. There is no excuse for this poor reporting especially for a publication with your reputation, your outreach and your familiarity with the industry.

"We could have spent six or 10 months looking for people of color," the writer, E&P Associate Editor Joe Strupp, told Richard Prince¹s Journal-isms. "I believe we did a pretty extensive search. There was no effort to exclude them."

The search really didn¹t need to be that extensive, and certainly not take months, to find a black journalist whose child or parent works for a newspaper.

All E&P had to do, for example, was call NABJ. We could have told about Rob King, deputy managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, whose father, Colbert King, deputy editorial page editor at The Washington Post, last year won a Pulitzer Prize.

There are others, including former NABJ President Merv Aubespin and his daughter, Eleska Aubespin, a former reporter at the Dallas Morning News who now works at Florida Today; Joe Oglesby, editorial page editor at The Miami Herald, and his daughter, Joy Oglesby, a copy editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and M. David Goodwin, editor of the Middletown Journal in Ohio and a fourth-generation journalist.

NABJ and black journalists everywhere can be great resources for E&P and other publications for any and all stories and not just when its time to write yet again about diversity, or to be more exact, the lack of it in our newsrooms.

Remarkably, the article early on notes its lack of gender diversity, as though someone on staff noticed, but does not at all address race. Apparently, no one noticed. When newspapers are caught doing such exclusionary journalism, we readily ask, who on staff helps guard against this? It's clear we now must ask the same question about E&P.

I very much hope to discuss these and other matters with you soon.


Herbert Lowe

NABJ President

The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information.

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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