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NABJ Executive Director Resigns

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Karen Wynn Freeman Held the Job Three Years

Third Reporter Files Suit Against New York Post

Stephen A. Smith Won't Be "As Loud" on Radio Show

Fewer Than Half Blacks, List Use Internet Regularly

"Nimble Competitors" Online Helped Kill E&P

Tiger Woods Scandal Boosts Online Publications

New York City Offers Media Retraining Program

N.Y. Times Defends Gift List Targeting People of Color

Short Takes

Karen Wynn Freeman Held the Job Three Years

The executive director of the National Association of Black Journalists, Karen Wynn Freeman, left, with then-Unity President Karen Lincoln Michel and Barbara Ciara, then president of the National Association of Black Journalists, last year. (Credit: Unity: Journalists of Color.) Karen Wynn Freeman, has resigned, NABJ President Kathy Times said on Friday. Times added that the organization remains challenged financially but declined to say why or exactly when Wynn Freeman resigned.

Wynn Freeman did not respond to a request for comment.

"She continues to work with us to tie up some loose ends," Times said of Wynn Freeman. "She's pursuing other options. It's a personnel matter."

Drew Berry, a former television general manager and news director who is a past chairman of NABJ's Finance Committee, will step in as a consultant, Times said. NABJ will not have to pay the remainder of Wynn Freeman's contract, she said.

Times said she would speak with NABJ members via the Internet "as soon as possible," saying, "It's important for us to inform the membership of some specifics."

She characterized the organization's finances as "very similar to what we told" the membership "just a little over two months ago."

Then, Times said NABJ had run into higher expenses than projected at its summer convention and was reducing staff, imposing furloughs and asking members for one-time tax-deductible donations.

The organization had to pay penalties for unused hotel rooms for the Tampa, Fla., event.

"While we exceeded our sponsorship goals and attendance goals, we are not surprised that we did not meet our contracted room block at the convention," Times said then. "Understandably, many people either doubled up or tripled up in rooms, leaving many rooms empty. Nobody knew when the contract was signed in 2005 that we would be facing the greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression."

Times maintained again on Friday, "We really need our members to step up" and said the organization would announce the program for its summer convention in San Diego earlier than usual - at the end of January - to generate excitement.

Wynn Freeman came to NABJ in 2006 after a financial crisis. The organization discovered it had ended 2005 with a $200,000 deficit. The financial and management issues, undisclosed to the organization's membership, led to the surprise and sudden resignation of Tangie Newborn, at the time one of NABJ's longest-serving executive directors.

Wynn Freeman, a veteran association manager who had served as co-executive director of APICS - The Association for Operations Management - was chosen from among more than 45 applicants during a two-month national search, NABJ said at the time.

NABJ is the largest of the journalist-of-color associations and in September counted 2,820 members. Many more claim to be, even though their memberships have expired.

Third Reporter Files Suit Against New York Post

Ikimilusa Livingston"Last month, two separate former New York Post employees filed lawsuits against the paper alleging that it was a hotbed of racism and discrimination. Now, another Post reporter has joined one of the suits, with new allegations of racist idiocy," Hamilton Nolan reported Friday for Gawker.com.

"Ikimilusa Livingston — a black woman who is still a working General Assignment Post reporter (and has been for 13 years), who used to cover courts — has joined the suit filed last month by Austin Fenner, a veteran black Post reporter who was fired in November (after editor Sandra Guzman, who filed her own similar lawsuit). In his original suit, Fenner alleged 'pervasive discrimination and harassment' at the Post, based on race.

"The suit has now been updated to include Livingston's own complaints, which echo Fenner's. She says she was effectively banned from the newsroom (indeed, when we called her today the City Desk transferred us to her cell phone, apparently because she has no office phone).

"Livingston says in her complaint that she was paid less than white colleagues with less experience, and denied stories she wanted to write. Like the others, she says that after she complained about the infamous Dead Chimpanzee cartoon, the company put her on its shit list and gave her poor performance reviews. Perhaps her juiciest allegation: Steve Dunleavy, recently retired legendary drunk Post columnist, was a huge racist."

The complaint says:

"During Ms. Livingston's employment at the Post, Steve Dunleavy — a White columnist at the Post and a close friend of its owner, Rupert Murdoch — openly referred to a Black employee as a 'Nigger' in the workplace. . . . Mr. Dunleavy also repeatedly described Hispanics as 'Spics' in drafts of the news stories he submitted to the editors at the Post. Mr. Dunleavy, however, was never terminated or even disciplined for engaging in such ugly acts of racism at the Company. In fact, when Mr. Dunleavy left the Post in October 2008, he was given a farewell tribute dinner by executives and his colleagues at the Company, during which Mr. Murdoch, Col Allen, the Editor-in-Chief at the Post, and others lavished praise on and honored Mr. Dunleavy, despite his reportedly racist conduct in the workplace."

The Gawker story adds, "She also says in her complaint that her white editors shot down her story ideas and passed off her work to white reporters." Livingston's lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson, told Nolan that the Post is due to file its own response to Guzman's lawsuit this month, and to Fenner and Livingston's suit in January.

Stephen A. Smith Won't Be "As Loud" on Radio Show

Stephen A. Smith Sports commentator Stephen A. Smith said Friday that "I'm definitely going to try to be not as loud as people have said I am" on his new morning-drive show on Fox Sports Radio. "I'm going to be more mellow" because there will be women and children in the audience, he told Journal-isms.

The Philadelphia Inquirer columnist also said "I realize now it was a mistake for me to give up radio" in the first place, and that while "I was very, very happy at ESPN, I had a wish to do something more than just sports." ESPN had the right to veto any non-sports appearances, he said.

Smith and ESPN parted ways on May 1. He appeared on the morning show "First Take" on ESPN2, had written for ESPN: The Magazine and was part of news shows across ESPN platforms, a spokesman said then, primarily discussing the NBA. Previously, Smith had a show on ESPN radio and a television show, "Quite Frankly," which was canceled.

When he left the network, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said, "His contract was up and we decided to go in different directions."

Smith's new show on Fox Sports Radio starts Jan. 4 in the 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. slot, Eastern time, airing on 207 stations and on Sirius XM satellite radio, he said. "They just came to me and said, 'We want you,'" Smith said. "I said, 'Sure.' 

"It's a morning show. I've never done a morning show," Smith continued in a telephone interview. "I speak my mind," he said, but "I will try to get a lot of ladies involved" in the program, since they will be among his audience.

"You have a relationship with your audience" on radio that you do not have in print or on television "unless you're a Bill O'Reilly or Oprah," he said. A newspaper column is "not as personal." He said "my radio career was blossoming" when ESPN wanted him to concentrate on television. Still, he said, "I definitely want to have my own television show."

Smith added, "I'm a better man today than I was two years ago. When you've been through all the things you've been through, it's important to look in the mirror."

Much of that two years has been a battle with the Inquirer, which fired him and now refuses to publish his work after an arbitrator ordered the Inquirer to reinstate him with back pay, which Smith said he had not yet received.

"The employer complied with the award to reinstate Smith, but on his first day back, was told in order to publish his columns, Smith would have to pledge to agree to an Inquirer code of ethics, and wanted to prohibit Smith's outside work," Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers Association of America Local 38010, told Journal-isms last month. The Guild has filed a grievance.

Smith said the morning show would not interfere with any Inquirer duties, and intends to remain there.

"I am willing to go to the mat" with the newspaper, he said, "because I know I am right. This is about my career. I won the case. They have been paying me since Nov. 12. They are paying me to keep me out of the paper!"

Fewer Than Half Blacks, Latinos Use Internet Regularly

"Fewer than half of African Americans and Hispanics use the Internet regularly, although they believe that Internet access can provide critical information about jobs, health and families. A survey of 900 black and Hispanic adults shows that while the digital divide of the 1990s may have receded, significant differences in usage remain," as theRoot.com reported on Friday.

"The survey results by pollster Cornell Belcher were disclosed Thursday at the Broadband Symposium of the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) in Washington. Belcher, who won national attention for his work on behalf of then-candidate Barack Obama, questioned minority adults nationwide about their views of the Internet. One in five respondents rated Internet speed as more important than free access in expanding access to the Web, a finding that’s good news for David Sutphen, co-chairman of the IIA, which supports universal broadband access to the Web for underserved communities." The Root then posted a Q and A with Sutphen.

A news release added:

"'It is very telling that of those respondents who do not have Internet access, 43 percent cited either not knowing how to use the Internet or not seeing the need for the Internet as the reason why they are not online,' said IIA Co-Chairman David Sutphen. 'But interestingly, 44 percent of these same respondents said they would be more likely to subscribe to Internet services if they were provided free lessons on how to use the technology and 30 percent would be more likely to adopt if they had more information about how they could benefit from going online. It’s clear that digital literacy programs indeed are a crucial part of the formula for closing the digital divide.'"

When the survey of 700 African American and 200 Hispanic voters asked, "how many locations do you currently use to gain access to the Internet, do you have access at work, at home, at school or some other place?" the results were: At home, blacks, 76 percent; Hispanics 80 percent; at work, blacks 31 percent, Hispanics 30 percent; someplace else, 24 percent for each group.

To "Which of the following reasons best describes why you do not have Internet access?" Twenty-two percent of blacks and 29 percent of Hispanics said, "Do not have a computer or Internet enabled device," and 29 percent of blacks and 38 percent of Hispanics answered, "No need for the Internet" in the two largest responses.

Asked to rate on a scale of 0 to 10 "activities that some have described as among the activities that are the most important to be able to do on the Internet," blacks ranked "Mainly work related activities, including job hunting & networking" 7.4; Hispanics 6.6; "Mainly education related activities, including online classes & research," blacks 7.5; Hispanics 7.1; "To download music," blacks and Hispanics, 4.7 each; "gaming activities, blacks 4.2; Hispanics, 3.5; "Social networking and to reach friends, like MySpace, Facebook etc.," blacks, 5.1, Hispanics, 4.9; "Staying in touch with family," blacks 7.3, Hispanics 7.6; "Keep up with news, current events, celebrity gossip, etc." blacks 6.3, Hispanics 6.0; "Accessing information sites like weather, traffic and directions, blacks 6.7, Hispanics 7.2; "accessing health information, health care and treatment," blacks 7.2, Hispanics 6.7.

"Nimble Competitors" Online Helped Kill E&P

October print edition "What mortally wounded Editor & Publisher was Romenesko," according to Kelvin Childs, a Washington-based writer and editor and one of the few journalists of color ever to work at the publication.

Childs worked for the newspaper trade magazine from 1997 to 1999 as Washington bureau chief. The bureau was shut down, along with the Los Angeles bureau and most of the Chicago bureau, when E&P was sold in 1999 to BPI, a subsidiary of the Dutch media company VNU.

On Thursday, "Nielsen Business Media, of which E&P was a part, announced it was selling eight brands in its Media and Entertainment Group, including E&P sister magazines Adweek, Brandweek, Mediaweek, Backstage, Billboard, Film Journal International and The Hollywood Reporter," as E&P reported. E&P and Kirkus, which covers books, were not included in the transaction. Kirkus and Editor & Publisher, the bible of the newspaper industry and a journalism institution that traces its origins to 1884, are ceasing publication.

"When I was at E&P," Childs told Journal-isms, "Romenesko was this brand new thing that collected media news from publications from all over, daily, and for free. Before Romenesko, E&P largely had that field to itself. But Romenesko became — and still is — a daily must-read, and eclipsed E&P as a print weekly.

"After I left, E&P switched from weekly to monthly and chose to focus less on the 'editor' and more on the 'publisher.' As it was, its reputation for being a great source of classified ads for media jobs meant that publishers had a love-hate relationship with it; it was a great recruiting tool, but I got the sense that more than a few newsroom managers thought they shouldn't be paying for subscriptions to a magazine that told its people where to find jobs elsewhere. And then that aspect — another thing E&P largely had to itself for a long time — started facing competition from the likes of JournalismJobs, MediaBistro, Craigslist, and others, and even general online job sites like SimplyHired and Indeed.

"Also, when I was there, the company was still in the Brown family hands. But the strategies the grandsons had for it just didn't pan out — they wanted to make it THE destination for media news — and they wound up selling it, which is when I got cut, along with Mike Stein, the Los Angeles writer, and most of the crew in Chicago save for Mark Fitzgerald.

"Now, E&P did pay attention to online news, what with the Webby awards, and beefed up its online site to be more timely. So I don't wish to imply that it missed the boat on everything, but it certainly was challenged by more nimble competitors."

Fitzgerald said an African American woman worked at the magazine for a little more than a year in the early '90s, Childs said he knew of no African Americans who worked there before or during his tenure. Fitzgerald did the lion's share of coverage of the black press and Latino issues, and wrote editorials supporting inclusion, such as one from 2005 asking, "Newsroom Diversity: Was It Just a 1990s Ideal?"

At the Inter American Press Association's annual General Assembly in Buenos Aires last month, Fitzgerald was elected to a full term on the board of directors.

"I have no plans," Fitzgerald told Journal-isms. "Like most everyone, I figured we'd either get sold or stay with Nielsen. The drop-dead option didn't occur to me until literally hours before the shuttering.

"My only plan at this point is to continue the Fitz & Jen blog with Senior Editor Jennifer Saba past Dec. 31 if necessary."

Tiger Woods Scandal Boosts Online Publications

"The Tiger Woods sex scandal has been a boon for online publications, even though it hasn't generated the same amount of Internet traffic as Michael Jackson's death or President Barack Obama's inauguration," Jordan Robertson reported Thursday for the Associated Press.

Woods announced on his Web site Friday night that, "After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person."

Whether that move cools media and public interest in the scandal remains to be seen. The AP's Robertson continued on Thursday, "Provocative remarks by Yahoo Inc. CEO Carol Bartz at an investor conference in New York this week illustrate how major Internet channels and niche publications are benefiting from the Woods controversy.

"Known for her off-color commentary, Bartz told financial analysts Tuesday that the Woods story is 'better than Michael Jackson dying' for helping Yahoo make money, because it is easier to sell ads against salacious content than morbid stories.

". . . Google Inc. and Yahoo, which combined process more than 80 percent of all Internet searches in the U.S., said they've seen a significant spike in traffic from people looking for information on the golf superstar and his alleged extramarital affairs. Yahoo says searches for Woods' name are up more than 3,900 percent over the last 30 days. Neither Google nor Yahoo would provide specifics about how many more people were searching." 

NBC planned to air an episode of "Dateline" Friday entitled "The Secret Life of Tiger Woods," featuring an interview with Las Vegas cocktail waitress Jamie Jungers, one of Woods’ alleged mistresses, according to medialifemagazine.com.

New York City Offers Media Retraining Program

Professionals leaving jobs in traditional media firms are being offered a free three-month educational program that reorients them to jobs in new media. 

"JumpStart New Media was initiated by New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), its courses, events and seminars developed by The Levin Institute (SUNY), and it’s all at no cost to you," an announcement says.

Referring to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it says, "One of Mayor Bloomberg’s initiatives to boost the New York City economy, JumpStart New Media delivers a program that helps participants develop new skills, explore project opportunities in New York’s entrepreneurial firms, and in many cases create new career paths and opportunities."

JumpStart New Media includes a five-day intensive boot camp, an eight- to 10-week "action-learning project in a new media firm," and a "two-day wrap-up session on completing a successful transition."

Details here.

N.Y. Times Defends Gift List Targeting People of Color

In gift guide: The Beauty of Color: The Ultimate Beauty Guide for Skin of Color' by ImanThe New York Times reacted to criticism of its one-page "gift guide" geared toward people of color by saying it will continue its efforts "to provide content that's relevant and appealing to many different segments of our audience — and to further engage and broaden The Times's readership."

A Web site that monitors the Times found fault with a page in the online guide that lists "gifts created for and by people of color this holiday season."

The Nytpicker site called the list, compiled by a black journalist, "racist."

Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty told Journal-isms on Friday:

"Our online gift guides are intended to offer holiday gift ideas for a wide variety of audiences and interests, with Times writers and editors making smart, informed choices that might appeal to those different audiences.

"The 'Of Color' guide, in the Style & Travel category, is in keeping with that philosophy, and with the efforts of a diverse Times staff to directly address minority readers with our content.

"Of course, we expect our readers to use the guides however they choose, and we hope they'll find interesting ideas in many different categories. But we'll continue our effort to provide content that's relevant and appealing to many different segments of our audience — and to further engage and broaden The Times's readership."

Short Takes

  • "The Knight Center for Specialized Journalism will cease operations at the end of this month, it was announced today by Dean Kevin Klose of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland," the university said Friday. Klose said, "The rapid changes in news media technology and economics require new thinking. This move will enable us to focus fully on designing new approaches to the challenges of 21st-century journalism." The release continued, "Founded 22 years ago and sustained throughout its existence by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Knight Center has provided seminars and specialized educational fellowships to more than 2,700 journalists from more than 500 news organizations."
  • "Nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts testified today that his blood ran cold when he realized he was being targeted by a neo-Nazi leader," Laurence Hammack reported Friday for the Roanoke (Va.) Times. " 'I feel like I have been violated,' Pitts told a jury in federal court." William A. White, the leader of a Roanoke-based white supremacy group, "is accused of using his computer and telephone to threaten people whose actions offended his racist beliefs."
  • Carmen Dominicci"Former Univision personality Carmen Dominicci has landed a job in Telemundo. She will be part of the network news team starting Dec. 14 and will contribute to Noticiero Telemundo and 'Al Rojo Vivo," Veronica Villafa?±e reported on her Media Moves site. "Carmen was fired a year ago from Univision, after she publicly revealed she was allegedly physically abused by her then husband and fellow co-worker Fernando del Rinc??n. He was fired shortly after."
  • Phonte (Phonte Coleman), a member of the Grammy-nominated hip hop group Little Brother, started a Twitter trending topic. with the hashtag #washingtonpostcorrections, "inviting people to come up with amusing imagined corrections related to famous hip-hop songs and artists," Craig Silverman reported Friday for Columbia Journalism Review. Silverman then lists some of the "corrections" inspired by the Washington Post's mistake, in which a copy editor changed the title of Public Enemy's "911" to "9/11."
  • Nia Ngina Meeks, a freelancer covering President Obama's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, wrote that she caught up with Michael Fletcher, a White House correspondent for the Washington Post, while in the city, as well as Gloria Browne-Marshall. "A law professor, author, and playwright by day, she's freelancing work for a few black papers in New York and WBAI-FM" in New York. "Other than us, can't say there is large representation of the black press here," Meeks wrote Thursday on her blog.
  • With a 12-month wall calendar, Ebony is showcasing President Obama‚Äôs early months in the White House. Features are a typical day in the Oval Office, the first couple‚Äôs "fist bump" and Obama‚Äôs Nov. 4, 2008, victory celebration, Johnson Publishing Co. announced on Tuesday. The calendar sells for $14.99.
  • "Former first lady Barbara Bush showed a movie recently for some 200 friends, family and colleagues in Houston," Newsweek reported for its Dec. 14 issue. "And the movie she picked was 'Precious'. Mrs. Bush, who has spent many years promoting literacy, says 'Precious' offers an example of how learning to read can change a person's life." Bush also discussed the movie¬†with Michel Martin on National Public Radio's "Tell Me More."
  • "Mexican journalists have formed an advocacy group in response to attacks on reporters," the Associated Press reported. "The group is called the Reporters' National Front in Defense of Freedom of Expression and was announced Thursday by journalists from several Mexico City and Puebla newspapers and two magazines. It says it will create a system for journalists to report attacks and will work to defend reporters and offer them legal [advice]. It also plans publicity campaigns to promote appreciation for the work journalists do."
  • Nicole Collins, an assistant metropolitan editor at the New York Times Nicole Collinswho is taking a buyout, told Journal-isms on Friday that "I don't have anything lined up, but I'm looking to get into non-profit work; it's been a growing ambition for some time now, and, well, now seemed like the time to make the leap. (I'll also keep doing my music; many colleagues thought that was my main reason for leaving!)" Collins, 29, started at the Times as a copy editor in 2003 after having been a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern while in college.
  • On Sunday at 4 p.m., TV One plans to premiere "The Joy of Christmas 2," a two-hour event hosted by its "Washington Watch" host Roland Martin and featuring performances by the Christian vocal jazz group Take 6 and Grammy-winning gospel star Smokie Norful. Taped at Chicago‚Äôs Apostolic Church of God, the annual Christmas concert also honors retired Gen. Colin Powell, A.C. Green, Dr. Benjamin Carson and renowned journalist Lerone Bennett, the network said.
  • "In a year and a half at NPR and on the National Desk, Vickie Walton-James has taken on ever greater responsibilities, to the point where she currently oversees our coverage of the eastern half of the United States," Steve Drummond, senior national editor, told NPR employees on Thursday. "So I‚Äôm delighted to announce Vickie‚Äôs promotion to Deputy Senior Supervising Editor. In her new and expanded role Vickie will work with Uri Berliner, Phil Bruce and me to manage the desk and coordinate our coverage across shows, platforms, and time zones." Walton-James formerly worked in the Tribune Co. Washington office.
  • "The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has approved a new $6 million, three-year grant for the high-impact Knight International Journalism Fellowships program run by the International Center for Journalists," the ICFJ announced on Thursday. "In the coming year, Knight Fellows will launch: New investigative units at leading news organizations in the Middle East. A Web site that will map citizen reports on corruption so that Panamanian journalists can expose abuses. A new online association in India dedicated to improving transparency, making government data easily available to journalists for the first time."
  • "Tavis Smiley and PBS will expand their relationship in 2010 with the January premiere of THE TAVIS SMILEY REPORT, a series of four hour-long primetime specials that will air throughout 2010," Smiley and PBS announced. "Smiley will leave his studio chair in Los Angeles and go on the road to examine some of the country‚Äôs defining moments through those who have helped to shape history ‚Äî from going behind the scenes with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the streets of New Orleans with director Jonathan Demme to mark Hurricane Katrina‚Äôs 5th anniversary."
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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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