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NABJ Names Martin "Journalist of the Year"

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Updated March 28

Honor Comes After CNN Fails to Renew Pundit's Contract

CNN Names Cuomo, Bolduan, Pereira to New Morning Show

Story on Tax Abuse by the Undocumented Earns Peabody

Apple, Google, Facebook Still Stonewalling on Diversity

Gay Journalists Urge "Same-Sex" Term, Not "Gay Marriage"

In Hollywood, TV Writers See Disconnect on Diversity

Environmental Websites Looking for Freelancers

Expect to See More of Al Roker on NBC

Short Takes

Roland Martin said, "I hope this honor serves as a lesson to any young or vetera

Honor Comes After CNN Fails to Renew Pundit's Contract

The National Association of Black Journalists has named Roland Martin its Journalist of the Year for 2013, the organization announced Wednesday, lining up behind the journalist and commentator after CNN refused to renew Martin's contract.

In another development, Soledad O'Brien, another journalist of color whose role at CNN is being diminished, included Martin on her "Starting Point" show Wednesday morning despite a reported order to some CNN producers not to book him.

"Starting Point" ends soon, to be replaced by a show with a different host, presumably white. Under an arrangement with CNN, O'Brien, who is black and Latina, is forming a production company and plans to continue to supply documentaries to CNN on a nonexclusive basis. Those documentaries include her "Black in America" and "Latino in America" franchises, which she now owns.

The NABJ board voted Martin "Journalist of the Year" in a March 20 conference call, NABJ President Gregory H. Lee Jr. told Journal-isms, the day after Martin disclosed his contract was not being renewed. The disclosure fanned further concern about CNN's commitment to journalists of color under new President Jeff Zucker.

"Roland Martin has had an enviable career as a multimedia journalist, becoming a respected and trusted voice in print, on air and online," Lee said in the NABJ statement. "He is unapologetic about his quest to provide well-rounded coverage of the African-American community, and to provide unique insights to diverse audiences across the many platforms on which he is asked to contribute on a regular basis."

The release continued, "Those who nominated Martin noted his important coverage of voter suppression, perhaps the biggest story of the 2012 presidential election.

" 'No other African-American journalist and member of NABJ brought more news and analysis to black communities about the most important story of 2012 than Roland Martin,' said Vanessa Williams, former NABJ President and an editor at The Washington Post. 'As managing editor and host of Washington Watch on TV One, Roland consistently offered journalism that reflected the hopes and fears of many African American voters as they anxiously watched to see whether Barack Obama would win a second term as president of the United States.' "

Martin took a poke at CNN in his own statement, included in the release.

"I am enormously thankful and humbled that NABJ has bestowed this amazing honor on me for my work as a fearless voice in advocating the critical issues facing voters in the 2012 election, but especially as they relate to African Americans," he said. "I hope this honor serves as a lesson to any young or veteran journalist that Black media platforms are just as essential and important to us today as they have always been.

"Before CNN, TV One offered me a TV platform for my commentaries, as well my own show. After CNN, TV One and Tom Joyner are still there. It pleases me greatly to be at a place where our voices and images are the norm, and not the exception. I'm enormously thankful for the opportunity."

Martin, an NABJ stalwart and former board member, is honorary chairman of the upcoming NABJ convention.

In comments in cyberspace, many African Americans have reacted negatively to CNN's failure to renew Martin's contract, but not all have. Some have said "good riddance," citing what they considered his outsized personality. They joined others who have called Martin a homophobe over tweets last year that the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation denounced as anti-gay. CNN suspended Martin for a month, though Martin denied homophobic intent.

Indications were that those divisions would remain.

Robert Naylor Jr., a longtime diversity advocate within the Associated Press who was laid off in February last year as AP's director of career development/news, wrote the NABJ board, Martin's "insistence that the tweet was not intentionally anti-gay simply does not stand up. I cannot imagine the NABJ board not protesting another journalism organization bestowing such a high honor on someone who made a similarly racist comment. Your decision to overlook this gives the impression that NABJ does not genuinely care about the broader issue of diversity or, more specifically, [its] own LGBT members."

Others questioned Martin's accomplishments as a journalist, rather than as a pundit.

O'Brien announced on Twitter Wednesday morning that Martin would join her on her show, prompting a follower to ask whether the report about the order to producers not to book Martin was wrong. Martin replied, "not necessarily. @Soledad_OBrien wanted me here."

On the show, Martin was introduced as host of "Washington Watch With Roland Martin," his TV One Sunday show, and he discussed a variety of subjects, including North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple's signing Tuesday of a measure that would make abortion illegal in the state after six weeks. "Dalrymple is asking the legislature to set aside money for legal battles he is expecting," O'Brien noted.

CNN Names Cuomo, Bolduan, Pereira to New Morning Show

CNN announced Thursday that Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan will co-host the network’s new morning show, which will premiere this spring, replacing Soledad O'Brien's "Starting Point."

O'Brien told Journal-isms that her last day is Friday. A CNN spokeswoman said the show would continue as "Starting Point" with fill-in anchors until the new show launches.

"Michaela Pereira will join CNN from KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles, as the program's news anchor. News executive Jim Murphy will oversee the program as senior executive producer, and Matt Frucci will serve as executive producer. The show will be broadcast from CNN's New York City studios," an announcement said.

It has long been reported that Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, was eager to secure Cuomo, the former news anchor at ABC's "Good Morning America," for a morning show slot. He joined CNN in January.

The Canadian-born Pereira is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the Black Journalists Association of Southern California, and Alliance for Women in Media, according to her KTLA bio. She is also active with the NAACP. Cuomo and Bolduan are white; O'Brien is black and Latino.

The release continued, " 'I've been looking forward to this announcement since I first joined CNN,' said President of CNN Worldwide Jeff Zucker. 'Chris, Kate and Michaela are a dynamic team that will give our viewers in America a new way to start their day. We were floored with excitement when we saw Chris and Kate together on screen, and by adding Michaela to the mix we feel we have something very special. We believe there is an opening to do news in the morning with a fresh, new voice.' . . . "

WTHR-TV reporter Bob Segall interviews an undocumented worker who says his address was used to file tax returns from four other undocumented immigrants who did not live there. They received $29,000 in IRS refunds. (Video)

Story on Tax Abuse by the Undocumented Earns Peabody

A six-month investigation by WTHR-TV in Indianapolis that documented IRS mismanagement resulting in billions of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds, many going to immigrants in the country illegally, was among the recipients Wednesday of a Peabody award, the oldest in broadcasting.

"The national response to WTHR's 'Tax Loophole' investigation has been huge," the station said. "Millions of people have watched the videos that show how undocumented workers are tapping into an IRS loophole — a loophole that allows illegal immigrants to claim billions of dollars in tax credits."

The station also said, "The investigation was viewed online more than 14 million times and triggered IRS reforms designed to save U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.

"In announcing 39 Peabody recipients Wednesday morning at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Peabody judges wrote 'WTHR's stunning investigation exposed not only how illegal immigrants were bilking billions in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service but also how the IRS had known of the scamming and failed to stop it,' " the station reported.

Other winners included CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" for "Joy in the Congo," which celebrated the emergence of a homegrown symphony orchestra in that war-ravaged African republic; "D.L. Hughley: The Endangered List," "a mock documentary on Comedy Central in which the comedian campaigned to get black men the 'same EPA protections' as the Kaman cave cricket and the Texas kangaroo rat; the Smithsonian Channel's "MLK: The Assassination Tapes," "in which rare archival footage was fused into a gripping reconstruction of the events surrounding the Civil Rights leader's 1968 murder."

Also, "The Loving Story," "a poignant film shown on HBO about a couple infamously arrested in 1958 for daring to marry across racial lines"; "Summer Pasture," "an 'Independent Lens' film that chronicled a nomadic Tibetan family's natural and political hardships"; and "Why Poverty?," "a collection of eight distinctively different films from Steps International" on PBS "that explored aspects of that human condition historically and here and now"; "What Happened at Dos Erres," a "This American Life" spellbinder "about a Guatemalan immigrant who learns that the man he believed to be his father actually led the massacre of his village"; "Rapido y Furioso (Fast & Furious)," "Univision’s Mexican perspective on the infamous ATF gun-tracking debacle"; and "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," on HBO, "a sterling magazine series that springboards from athletics," among others.

Apple, Google, Facebook Still Stonewalling on Diversity

"A CNN Money report finds that Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL) and other tech titans continue to stonewall questions on the diversity of their workforce, five years after the Mercury News kicked off a quest to find out the racial makeup of the workforce at the country's most important technology companies," Jeremy C. Owens reported last week for the San Jose Mercury News.

"CNN Money, which began its own investigation in 2011, reported Monday that its attempts to obtain the data — which companies with more than 100 employees must provide to the federal government annually — from 20 prominent tech firms in the U.S. have hit the same roadblocks. Of the 20, only Intel (INTC), Dell and Ingram Micro voluntarily released the data.

"Ten companies were able to block the release of the data from the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not federal contractors: Facebook, LinkedIn, Netflix (NFLX), Twitter, Yelp, Zynga, Amazon, Groupon, Hulu and LivingSocial.

"Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), IBM and Microsoft successfully appealed to the Labor Department to keep their information private, claiming that public release of the data would cause 'competitive harm.' Cisco (CSCO) and eBay (EBAY) data was released through the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, filing, providing the news organization with information from five of the 20 companies it originally contacted.

"The Mercury News attempted to obtain the same data from the 15 largest tech companies in Silicon Valley in 2008, and nine companies — including Cisco, Intel and eBay — turned it over. After six companies refused the request, an 18-month legal battle ensued that forced the release of the data from HP, but not the other five companies: Apple, Google, Yahoo (YHOO), Oracle (ORCL) and Applied Materials. . . ."

Supporters wave American and gay rights flags outside the Supreme Court during t

Gay Journalists Urge "Same-Sex" Term, Not "Gay Marriage"

Just before two days of Supreme Court arguments on same-sex marriage issues began on Tuesday, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association issued suggestions on covering the topic.

The arguments concluded Wednesday with the court appearing ready to strike down a central part of a federal law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as Adam Liptak and Peter Baker reported for the New York Times. A majority of the justices expressed reservations about the Defense of Marriage Act, the Times wrote.

NLGJA said, "Journalists should consider diversity of opinion when bringing these stories to readers, viewers and listeners. Look beyond preconceived 'pro' and 'con' sides. Not all LGBT community members are in favor of marriage for same-sex couples; not all members of communities of faith are opposed.

"Reporters should note the differences between marriage law and the legal designation of civil unions. Civil unions are presumed to extend many marriage benefits and protections; however, they do not include the federal protections and benefits available to married couples.

"As NLGJA has previously noted, the oft-used term 'gay marriage' is both inaccurate and misleading. 'Gay marriage' implies the creation of a new set of legal standards and guidelines as opposed to what is being sought by most advocates — the extension of currently existing benefits and responsibilities to include same-sex couples. More appropriate terminology in discussing such legislation would be 'marriage rights for same-sex couples.' Or, in those instances where a briefer description is necessary, 'same-sex marriage' as 'same-sex' is a more accurate and inclusive description than 'gay.' "

In Hollywood, TV Writers See Disconnect on Diversity

"In its latest analysis of the state of diversity in writing for TV, the Writers Guild of America, West finds that while there have been some recent job gains for minority and women writers, the employment playing field in Hollywood is far from level," the guild said Tuesday.

"The 2013 TV Staffing Brief analyzes employment patterns for 1,722 writers working on 190 broadcast and cable TV shows during the 2011-2012 season, highlighting three specific groups who have traditionally been underemployed in the TV industry: women, minority, and older writers.

" 'It all begins with the writing,' said Dr. Darnell Hunt, author of the report and director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and professor of sociology. 'From concept to characters, from plot to narrative, writers play a fundamental role in the fashioning of stories a society circulates about itself. But in the Hollywood entertainment industry, unfortunately, there has all too often existed a disconnect between the writers hired to tell the stories and an America that's increasingly diverse with each passing day.'

The guild added:

"Minority writers nearly doubled their share of staffing positions since the millennium, but remain severely underrepresented. Between [the] 1999-00 and 2011-12 seasons, minority writers' share of TV employment increased from 7.5% to 15.6%. Despite this increase, minorities as a combined group remain underrepresented by a factor of more than 2 to 1 in television staff employment in the 2011-12 season.

"Women and minorities continue to be underrepresented among the ranks of Executive Producers in television. In the 2011-12 season, women were underrepresented by a factor of more than 2 to 1 among the writers who run television shows; minorities were underrepresented by a factor of nearly 5 to 1.

"10% of shows of TV shows in the 2011-12 season had no female writers on staff; nearly a third had no minority writers on staff.

"In the 2010-2011 television season, only 9% of pilots had at least one minority writer attached, while just 24% of pilots had at least one woman writer attached. . . . "

Expect to See More of Al Roker on NBC

Al Roker

"Another bit from the New York cover story on how NBC intends to bring 'Today' back to its former morning glory," Chris Ariens wrote Monday for TVNewser. "Joe Hagan writes:

"Last fall, Today producers used a research firm called Sterling to help analyze how viewers felt about the show. The producers flew to Florida to hang out in viewers’ living rooms, identifying themselves as researchers. A woman named Adrianna, for instance, thought the interviews went on too long, but she liked the weatherman. 'People told us, "I love that Al Roker," ' says ['Today' executive Alex] Wallace. 'So they're getting more Al Roker. It's not an anti-Matt [Lauer] thing at all.'

"Roker is already a fixture on the first three hours, he does another morning show, 'Wake up with Al,' on Weather Channel and he has his own production company that churns out shows for multiple networks. Still, you should expect to see more Al Roker. . . . "

Environmental Websites Looking for Freelancers

The Washington Post's Darryl Fears wrote Sunday of the nation's large environmental organizations, "the level of diversity, both in leadership and staff, of groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Sierra Club and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is more like that of the Republican Party they so often criticize for its positions on the environment than that of the multiethnic Democratic Party they have thrown their support behind. . . ."

Peter Dykstra, publisher of Environmental Health News and its sister site, the Daily Climate, says the same is true of the environmental press.

"Science and environmental journalism is not a very diverse place," Dykstra told Journal-isms by telephone Wednesday. The former CNN executive producer for science, environment, weather and technology coverage encourages 'capable freelancers' to contact his staff after studying the sites to see what they publish. Staff members work from home.

Also open are entry-level jobs aggregating the 200 stories the sites collect daily, he said. Dykstra notes proudly that Environmental Health News won honorable mention in the Oakes Awards competition, conducted by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism for "Pollution, Poverty, People of Color," a 10-part series.

Interested writers should contact Douglas Fischer, editor of the Daily Climate, Marla Cone, editor-in-chief of Environmental Health News, or Pauli Hayes, managing editor, for the entry-level jobs. Contact information is on this page.

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 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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