NABJ "Happy" for Al Sharpton Opportunity
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Updated August 9
The Rev. Al Sharpton has been guest-hosting in MSNBC's 6 p.m. time slot. (Credit: MSNBC)
The Rev. Al Sharpton said Tuesday that if his show on MSNBC is made permanent, black journalists will be a part of it.
In a telephone call to Journal-isms, Sharpton said he understood that only a few had complained that journalists, not Sharpton, should have received a bid to host a show, but that the same people who distorted the issue into one of black journalists vs. Sharpton would have done the same had he appeared on a panel at the National Association of Black Journalists last week. Therefore, he decided to cancel.
"They were going to play it for confrontation," he said.
Sharpton devoted most of the call to a refutation of hints by Daily Beast writer Wayne Barrett, who wrote July 27, "Eight months after Al Sharpton signed a pivotal agreement that helped Comcast and NBC secure Federal Communications Commission approval for their $30 billion merger, MSNBC appears poised to reward him with a prime-time news show."
The next week, Barrett added, "Al Sharpton wasn’t just pleasing prospective employer MSNBC when he became the first major black leader to endorse the controversial Comcast/NBC merger. It turns out he was also enriching his current employer, Radio One, the largest black-owned radio company in the country, which has paid him more money than he’s made anywhere else in his life."
Sharpton answered several points in the articles, criticizing journalists for repeating the charges without investigating them. He asked, why would TV One support creation of potential rival stations, as Comcast committed to do when it signed memoranda of understanding with African American and other groups? And why would other civil rights groups settle for a television show for Sharpton in exchange?
"That is trivializing the commitment made to black people," Sharpton said. "Do they really think we're that stupid?" He also noted that Comcast was a major supporter of the NABJ convention in Philadelphia last week and that NABJ, like Sharpton, had given MSNBC President Phil Griffin an award. Yet "no one sees that as a conflict of interest."
Sharpton said he and Griffin, whom he said he has known for 15 years, were scheduled "to sit down and have a serious discussion" next week about the show. He said he has made it clear that "I'm still leading the National Action Network and civil rights work is what I do," regardless of whether he gets a show. As a 501(c)(4) corporation, his National Action Network does not make political endorsements, he said, answering critics who said his political activity might present a problem.
Asked whether black journalists would benefit from his show, the activist said he did not know what role they would play, but "whatever I do," black journalists participate. On Sharpton's radio show, veteran journalist George E. Curry appears on Friday, and Elinor Tatum, editor and publisher of the New York Amsterdam News, does a media segment on Thursdays.
"If Bernard Shaw," former CNN anchor, "was not threatened by Jesse Jackson having a show" on the same network years ago, Sharpton asked, why are some journalists complaining now? "We ought to be helping each other."
He recalled supporting NABJ in 2007 when then-NABJ President Bryan Monroe was helping to rally opposition to radio host Don Imus, who called the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."
"I am not replacing a journalist," Sharpton said, referring to Internet talk show host Cenk Uygur, who previously held the 6 p.m. slot, and he cited his experience as a radio talk-show host. "Why are they acting like I'm somebody new?"
He said he believed that some who hoped for his appearance on an NABJ political panel last week would have "been able to flip the conversation" to his MSNBC show. "They won," he said. "At the end of the day, they won." [Added Aug. 9]
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.
The new president of the National Association of Black Journalists says, "We are happy to see Al Sharpton get the opportunity to have a prime-time show on MSNBC."
Gregory Lee Jr. told Journal-isms, "NABJ is just concerned about all of the cable networks" and their representation of people of color and wants "journalists to have the opportunity to host the shows on any network on cable. . . . We'd like to see journalists of color behind the scenes, as executive producers, as bookers, decision makers," not just as hosts.
Sharpton canceled a Thursday appearance at the NABJ convention in Philadelphia because of comments by NABJ members questioning MSNBC's reported choice of the activist to host a 6 p.m., pre-prime time show on the network, according to NABJ.
"I'm not angry at Al Sharpton," Lee said. "I think what he read was the view of Jeff Winbush," a Columbus, Ohio, blogger quoted in Journal-isms, "who is one member" and does not represent the entire organization. "It's not our official stance."
Brentin Mock of theLoop21.com reported Monday that Sharpton called his website to explain the cancellation.
"The NABJ members have the right to criticize and do whatever they want to do," Sharpton said. "However, [the MSNBC controversy] would have been a distraction for what I was invited to come speak about. I was invited to come speak about politics and the upcoming presidential election. If they had invited me to talk about whether advocates and activist organizations should host talk shows, I would have considered coming to discuss those kinds of things. But to put me on a political panel and then for it to go into something else about MSNBC, that wouldn’t have been good."
Mock asked Sharpton, "I understand criticism only came from a few black journalists, but you pulled out of the entire NABJ convention panel. Do you feel your relationship with black journalists in general is strained?"
The activist replied, "For the journalists who do work with me — and remember, I do a talk show every day — those journalists who work with me think this is outrageous. Given the history, what exactly is new about this? Second, you’d think someone would even pick up a phone to ask me is he doing this show, and if so, what is the format? People are making conclusions based off their assumptions. I’ve been guilty of this too in the past, so I understand it, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that people are rushing to judgment. I always have supported black journalists. I called CNN when Eliot Spitzer was fired and told them they need to put someone black in to replace him. CNN actually does journalism in the evening. MSNBC does not have journalists hosting shows in the evening. FOX does not do journalism in the evening.
". . . If I was MSNBC’s president and I wanted a host for a show with an opinionated format then I would talk to someone who hosts a radio talk show, not someone who writes for a newspaper."
Brian Stelter reported July 20 for the New York Times that, "After giving a nearly six-month tryout [to] the Internet talk show host Cenk Uygur, the cable news channel MSNBC is preparing to instead hand its 6 p.m. time slot" to Sharpton.
This column reported that "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.' "
The comment, from Winbush, reverberated around the Internet, and some headlines portrayed it as the view of "black journalists." Sharpton reacted in an interview with Lynette Holloway published the next day on theRoot.com. "We can't get into a crabs-in-the-barrel mentality," Sharpton said.
Meanwhile, Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, one of the few African American media critics at a mainstream newspaper, said on CNN's "Reliable Sources" media show on Sunday and on his own blog that hiring Sharpton instead of a journalist causes its own set of problems.
"Bottom line with Sharpton, great as it is to see a person of color within spitting distance of cable news primetime, hiring a personality with a history of activism presents lots of problems you might not have in considering a journalist or news personality for a similar job," Deggans wrote. "As other journalists have pointed out, Sharpton's group the National Action Network has received thousands of dollars from Comcast/NBC at a time when he was one of the first African American leaders to support the cable giant's taking a controlling interest in NBC Universal."
While Deggans said he did not believe there was a quid pro quo — and Sharpton and MSNBC both deny that there was — Deggans added, ". . . Think Keith Olbermann and Joe Scarborough caused problems with their political contributions? Wait until NBC News standards and practices tries to tell Sharpton how he can conduct his business outside of appearing on the newschannel."
- Wayne Bennett, "the Field Negro" blog: Where are your white friends Mr. President?
- Kim Jarvis, ESPN: ESPN’s presence at NABJ
- Annette John-Hall, Philadelphia Inquirer: Alarming Lack of Diversity in Newsrooms
- Jackie Jones, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Sharpton, Joyner to Lead Washington D.C. March
- Sophia A. Nelson, theGrio.com: Why I confronted Cornel West: Words matter
- Richard Prince, Bob Butler, Latoya Peterson, Mark Whitaker on "Tell Me More," NPR: Prioritizing (Or Not) Diversity In Newsrooms (audio)
- Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Feeling the Brotherly Love
Unity: Journalists of Color Inc. is encouraged by the National Association of Black Journalists' decision to "seek reunification with Unity: Journalists of Color as soon as is feasible," Joanna Hernandez, Unity president, told Journal-isms on Monday.
The NABJ membership voted Friday to direct its leaders to open talks within 30 days that would lead to reunification, with the stipulation that conditions "involving the financial and governance structure of Unity . . . do not conflict with the best interests of NABJ."
"We are encouraged to hear about it," Hernandez said. "UNITY has always said the door is open. We look forward to talking."
Gregory Lee Jr., the new president of NABJ, said he had already talked with Hernandez and with Doris Truong, national president of the Asian American Journalists Association, and looked forward to speaking with others in the Unity coalition, whose remaining members are the national associations of Hispanic and Native American journalists.
Lee said he voted for the NABJ motion and added, "I've never stopped talking" with Unity partners. "We still have a lot of common interests and goals that are beneficial to all of our organizations," he said.
Scott Pelley, anchor of the "CBS Evening News," reported Monday from Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, where 400,000 Somalis have taken refuge. They are fleeing famine in their country that has reached historic proportions, putting 3.7 million people at risk of starvation. (Video)
"The Telemundo Station Group today announced that it will increase local news and public affairs programming at the stations by more than 25% in an expansion initiative to be completed by January 2012," TVNewsCheck reported on Monday.
"The initiative will involve the launch of morning news programs in Los Angeles and Houston; local weekend news programs in New York, Dallas, and Puerto Rico; weekday news programs in Denver; and local public affairs programs in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix and Puerto Rico.
"These programs, all of which will be launched by the end of January 2012, will contribute more than 1,000 hours of additional news and public affairs offerings at the stations.
"In addition to the programming expansion, the Telemundo Station Group is making a multi-million dollar investment in upgrading local technical infrastructure at its top Hispanic market stations to give them local high-definition news production capability."
- John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: Free Press Calls Telemundo Local News Expansion a 'Step Forward'
- Erica Swallow, mashable.com: Comcast Rolls Out $10 Internet Access for Low-Income Families
Four days after Huffington Post unveiled its version of BlackVoices.com, Managing Editor Rebecca Carroll has been demoted to features editor and replaced by Gene Demby, who was hired as a news editor in June and founded the website postbourgie.com, a Huffington Post spokeswoman told Journal-isms.
"Rebecca is now features editor at HuffPost BlackVoices and will write and develop in-depth editorial features and ongoing series about race in America, will oversee the narrative voice for the site, and will also lend her editorial expertise to features writers across Huffington Post," spokeswoman Rhoades Alderson, director of communications for AOL, which owns Huffington Post Media, said on Monday.
"Gene Demby will take over managing editor duties at HuffPost BlackVoices."
Carroll was named managing editor of BlackVoices in late June, after being chosen culture editor in March. She "has held editor positions at Uptown and Paper magazines, as well as at Contentville.com and Africana.com, where she was the founding editor," spokesman Mario Ruiz said at the time. Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s africana.com shut down in December 2004, and AOL merged it with Black Voices (which was then two words). Carroll is also a former producer for the Charlie Rose show on PBS.
Arianna Huffington, CEO of the Huffington Post Media Group, introduced the revamped site the same day she addressed the National Association of Black Journalists in Philadelphia.
"One of the biggest voids in our cultural landscape has been created by the traditional media's ongoing neglect of the issues most important to black America, and the dearth of black perspectives and voices," she wrote in a first-day column.
"Enter HuffPost BlackVoices, which will focus on current events and cultural trends from a black perspective, covering a broad range of topics — from presidential politics to pop culture, from money and beauty to sports, music, fashion, books, and parenting. Featuring dynamic storytelling, comprehensive curation, investigative reporting, and real-time opinion, BlackVoices will spotlight the best and brightest black thinkers, writers, and cultural game changers with the goal of making issues important to the black community part of the national conversation, because these are issues that matter to everyone.
"The tone will be authentic, candid, and inclusive. We'll ask the hard questions but we'll also have fun."
A sheriff's deputy aims his gun outside the Silver Dollar Bar, where newsman Ruben Salazar died after being struck in the head by a tear-gas canister on Aug. 29, 1970. (Credit: Raul Ruiz via Los Angeles Times)
"Ruben Salazar had been lying on the floor of the Silver Dollar Bar for nearly three hours when a pair of homicide detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department finally arrived to examine his body," columnist Hector Tobar wrote Friday in the Los Angeles Times.
"It was Aug. 29, 1970. Night had fallen. The bar was dark and still stank of tear gas, so Dets. Donald Cannon and Conrad Alvarez donned masks and used 'battle lamp' flashlights. Among the many facts in their report — the position of Salazar's body, the location of the tear-gas canister that killed him — they noted the button pinned to his jacket:
" 'Chicano Moratorium. 8,000 Dead. Ya Basta! [Enough Already!]' Ruben Salazar had written several columns in support of Chicano activists opposed to the Vietnam War. Even in death, he was proclaiming his solidarity with their cause.
"I found that small detail this week amid the hundreds of pages of documents from the Sheriff's Department investigation of the killing. They were released earlier this year, after decades of pressure from Eastside activists.
"Ruben Salazar was a columnist for The Times and also news director at KMEX, L.A.'s pioneering Spanish-language television station. He was the city's leading Latino media voice, and he had been critical of police abuse. His death on a day of protest for Chicano rights has always seemed suspicious to the people who knew him.
"This week, I finally got around to seeing the sheriff's files myself.
"Just about everything I saw smacks of an accident — a tragic and unlikely series of events set in motion by a bystander who thought he saw armed men enter the bar.
". . . Many of the documents reek of the paranoia of the day, common to so many American institutions in the Nixon era, when law enforcement saw it as their duty to harass dissenting groups. You can understand why a lot of people suspected Salazar was assassinated."
"The Los Angeles Times stylebook adopted 'Latino' over 'Hispanic' in 1995, or even earlier. A recent update seeks to clarify the usage and the reason behind it," Kevin Roderick wrote Sunday for LAObserved.
"Latino is the umbrella term for people in the United States of Latin American descent. It refers to Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and others from the Spanish-speaking lands or cultures of Latin America. A Latino woman is a Latina. It is preferable to say that an individual is Mexican American, of Salvadoran descent and so forth, instead of using the umbrella term.
"Keep in mind that Latino is an ethnic group, not a race category. Latinos may be of any race: white, black, Native American, Asian, mestizo, etc. Some speak Spanish; some don't. Some are U.S. born; others are immigrants.
"Note: 'Hispanic' is acceptable in quotes or in proper names. The U.S. Census Bureau uses terms such as 'Hispanic or Latino' and 'non-Hispanic or Latino' in its survey questions on ethnicity and race. Stories and graphics based on census information are allowed to use that language when it is essential to explain methodology, but we should otherwise use Latino to describe the people in question.
"Assistant Managing Editor Henry Fuhrmann summarized the rule in a note to copy editors: 'So, to be clear: Latino should be used in nearly all contexts; the exceptions, as described in the revised entry, must truly be exceptional.'"
"A Native American NBC studio technician was tormented about his ethnicity by cruel colleagues, who strung up an Indian doll on a noose and called it his "long-lost daughter,' he claims in a lawsuit," Jamie Schram and Lachlan Cartwright reported Friday in the New York Post.
Faruq 'Peter' Wells — who worked on the 'Today' show, 'Dr. Oz' and 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' — endured the abuse after returning from a vacation and eventually quit his job when NBC's Human Resources Department told him to ignore the problem, the court papers charge.
"The worst indignity came when one co-worker pelted him with the doll and barked, 'Here's your long-lost daughter!' the papers say.
". . . An NBCUniversal [spokesman] said in a statement:
"We take all allegations of harassment and discrimination seriously. At the time of the 2009 incident, the company conducted a thorough and independent investigation and disciplined employees who had behaved inappropriately. The EEOC reviewed Wells’ complaint and NBCUniversal’s response and declined to take any further action. We believe that NBCUniversal took appropriate actions in 2009 and that the lawsuit is without merit."
The New York Post's URL — "angry_nbc_tech_quits_siouxs" — includes a play on words that some might find offensive.
Gil Noble, longtime producer and host of the African American public affairs program "Like It Is" on New York's WABC-TV, was stabilized after the stroke he suffered late last month, Richard Huff reported Thursday in the New York Daily News.
"I just visited with his family at the hospital, and the good news is he has stabilized and all his vital signs are good," Dave Davis, general manager of WABC, said in an email message to the station's staff obtained by the Daily News.
"For those of us who know Gil, we know the best medicine is his fighting spirit, and all the support from his family and friends," Davis said. Noble is 79.
[Jerry Barmash reported Tuesday for FishbowlNY: "Davis says Noble remains in stable condition and is conscious, but breathing through a tube. Therefore, Davis says it’s premature to know if the longtime anchor suffered any speaking impairment.
["Davis says 'for the time being' WABC will air 'Best of' episodes of Noble’s Like It Is, which he’s hosted since 1968.
["In the short term, Davis says, Noble’s family will likely move him to a facility that is 'more trained' in dealing with the therapeutic phase of his convalescence."]
Natalie Thigpen, vice president for marketing and public relations at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, N.J., where Noble is a patient, told Journal-isms Tuesday that family members had requested that Noble's condition not be disclosed.
- Milton Allimadi, Black Star News: Tribute To A Legend
- Herb Boyd, New York Amsterdam News: Gil Noble in critical condition
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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