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NABJ, Unity Remain at Odds

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Black Journalists' Funding Proposal Voted Down

AOL Denied Any Layoff Impact, but 2 Exit Black Voices

Internet Tops Newspapers as News Source for First Time

African Americans More Likely to Use Social Networking

Ann Curry Responds to Tweet, Finds American After Quake

Yemen Raids Foreign Journalists' Apartment, 4 Deported

Despite Quake, Libya Needs Journalists More Than Ever

Editing of NPR "Sting" Video Found to Be Deceptive

Even Journalists Learn From "Sugar Changed the World"

Short Takes

Black Journalists' Funding Proposal Voted Down

A split between the National Association of Black Journalists and the other journalist of color associations continued over the weekend as the board of Unity: Journalists of Color voted down an NABJ proposal for splitting Unity convention proceeds and adopted an alternative.

The Unity board also rejected an NABJ motion to re-examine Unity's mission. The motion follows complaints by NABJ that Unity has grown beyond its original concept as a coordinator of efforts by NABJ, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association.

NABJ is keeping open the option of holding its own convention separate from the Unity gathering scheduled for Las Vegas next year.

Kathy Y. Times

"The NABJ proposals were voted down with only NABJ's representatives voting in the affirmative. The alternative proposals, introduced by (NAHJ and AAJA) members, were approved with NABJ's representatives voting against," NABJ President Kathy Y. Times wrote to members on Saturday.

Times' message continued, "NABJ remains supportive of the UNITY concept, but we strongly believe that fundamental changes need to be implemented that focus on governance structure, accountability and the coalition group's mission. In the coming weeks, the NABJ board will decide the organization's level of participation in UNITY."

For its part, Unity issued an upbeat news release on Monday that overlooked any divisions and said, "The UNITY alliance partners of AAJA, NABJ, NAHJ and NAJA are excited to work together to be even more dynamic, and we look forward to a successful UNITY 2012 convention Aug. 1-4, 2012, in Las Vegas."

However, Onica Makwakwa, Unity's executive director, told Journal-isms by e-mail that among the objections to the NABJ proposal were that "It severely de-funded UNITY by nearly 60% which raised questions regarding the organization’s ability to remain sufficiently sustainable to conduct advocacy during non-convention years and to shoulder the early convention expenses that usually outpace the receipt of initial sponsorship funds." Also, "The model was not viewed as equitable due to the lack of an equally shared portion of the revenue since expenses are equally shared by all associations regardless of the number of attendees."

Finally, she said, some objected to the manner in which NABJ's proposed to protect NAJA, as the smallest partner organization, from being disproportionately harmed by a new formula. "There were also concerns raised regarding the allocation of a 5% subsidy to NAJA as singling out that particular association," Makwakwa said.

Rhonda LeValdo, NAJA president, told Journal-isms, "I think we send a strong message to the public by sharing the revenue as equals with all our alliance partners." 

According to NABJ figures, NABJ represented 53.32 percent of the Unity convention attendance in 2008, with AAJA at 20.4 percent, NAHJ at 22.66 percent and the Native American Journalists Association at 3.61 percent.

In addition to calling for a different split of the proceeds, NABJ presented a motion to reexamine Unity's mission. It urged "a re-examination of UNITY’s mission, re-examination of UNITY’s financial controls, re-examination of UNITY’s Board Structure and Board Reporting, written rules and regulations with regard to UNITY policies, true equitable split for UNITY Convention finances, written guidelines for UNITY fundraising."

It also wanted "NABJ assigned a leadership position (s) for 2012 Convention." No NABJ representative has served as president during a convention year, NABJ board members have said.

Unity's news release, headlined, "UNITY Board Adopts New Revenue Sharing Plan," said, "UNITY Journalists of Color, Inc., has established a new revenue-sharing plan for the 2012 convention and is committed to working on a new strategic plan to make our alliance stronger while also ensuring the sustainability of the organization's important mission.

Joanna Hernandez

" . . . 'The alliance partners have been working hard on a new financial arrangement that would be fair to all. They've considered various proposals and counterproposals. There's no doubt that this board has paid close attention and has given this serious deliberation,' UNITY President Joanna Hernandez said."

NABJ's letter said, "The UNITY board instead passed two motions — one to cap UNITY's share of convention revenues while maintaining the current revenue sharing formula, and the other to devise a new UNITY strategic plan.

". . . In the span of three months, NABJ presented several proposals to address a more equitable division of governance and convention proceeds. NABJ was fully committed to finding a compromise with the UNITY board. In the end, however, NABJ's representatives felt the proposals NABJ presented, which were rejected, were more favorable to the financial interests of the alliance partners than the alternative proposals, which were presented and accepted without a full financial review."

NABJ Treasurer Gregory Lee Jr. has taken the lead on the NABJ financial proposals and is running for president of the organization. The two other candidates, current board members Deirdre Childress, vice president/print, and Charles Robinson, who represents the mid-Atlantic region, have strongly supported the NABJ position.

AOL Denied Any Layoff Impact, but 2 Exit Black Voices

Despite a statement from an AOL spokesman that AOL’s $315 million purchase of Huffington Post would have "no impact at all" on AOL Black Voices and AOL Latino, two employees of Black Voices had sent farewell e-mails to colleagues the day before.

The two are Alexis Garrett Stodghill, programming manager who supervised the Money division, and Timothy Cornwall, who ran, a portion of the site devoted to readers under 35.

"If you're receiving this email it's because as AOL and I part ways (!) I want to acknowledge the people who I've met here who have made this experience enjoyable . . ." Cornwell wrote Thursday, attaching this YouTube video.

"It's been really great," Stodghill wrote in a goodbye e-mailed the same day.

After CEO Tim Armstrong announced Thursday that AOL was cutting as many as 900 jobs, including as many as 200 editorial staffers in the United States, Journal-isms asked AOL spokesman Graham James on Friday, "Can you say how AOL Latino and Black Voices are affected by the cutbacks?"

James replied by e-mail, "Not affected at all. If anything we will be ramping up our multicultural offerings with the addition of The Huffington Post."

On Monday, told that at least two employees at Black Voices said they were leaving, James said, "Content is not affected. We are not breaking out any individual employees or teams that were impacted. . . . Sorry if there was any confusion but I was referring to the overall content and AOL's commitment to these categories. We have not been providing any details on specific employees that were impacted from any department."

At least two other black journalists, editors in the AOL Music division, were laid off, one of them confirmed for Journal-isms on Monday.

Meanwhile, AOL freelancers were wondering whether a letter they received from management meant they were being fired, Henry Blodget wrote Monday for

Credit: Project for Excellence in Journalism

Internet Tops Newspapers as News Source for First Time

"More people said they got their news from the Web than a physical newspaper last year — the first time in history this has happened, according to an annual report on the news media," Nathan Olivarez-Giles reported Monday for the Los Angeles Times.

"The Internet now trails only television among U.S. adults as a destination for news, and the trend line shows the gap closing, the study released Monday by the Pew Research Center said.

"The report predicted that 2010 might also be the year when online ad revenue surpassed print newspaper ad revenue for the first time. The final tally is expected this spring. One of the challenges facing newspapers is that the largest share of online ad revenue is going to non-news sources, particularly to aggregators, the Washington think tank said.

"Overall, nearly every sector of the U.S. news industry saw revenue growth in 2010, except for newspapers.

"After two dreadful years, most sectors of the industry saw revenue begin to recover, the study said. With some notable exceptions, cutbacks in newsrooms eased. And some experiments with new revenue models began to show signs of blossoming."

African Americans More Likely to Use Social Networking

"African Americans are more likely to have created their own web content — by blogging, microblogging and social networking — than whites or Hispanics," according to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism's State of the News Media 2011 report.

The section on African Americans, by Emily Guskin, Paul Moore and Amy Mitchell, says, "Almost a quarter (22%) of blacks created or worked on their own online journal or blog, compared to 14% for whites and 13% for Hispanics. African Americans also use social or professional online networking sites in greater proportions than whites. In May 2010, some 71% of African Americans said they used online networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, compared with 58% of whites."

Sections of the Pew report about Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans are due later in the year.

In another finding, "An overwhelming 86% of African Americans turn to TV for most of their news, compared to 64% of white respondents and 66% of Hispanics, according to a December 2010 Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey. But black-oriented TV news programs have been rare and few have long staying power," the report said.

Overall, "The African American media in 2010 mirrored the kinds of challenges and changes that mainstream news organizations also faced. Most African American media outlets either began or planned to upgrade their digital enterprises in an effort to reach new audiences. But beyond that, it was a mixed year for the sector," the report said.

Among other findings:

  • "Profit for BET overall climbed in 2010 to $259.4 million, an 8.8% increase from $238.5 million the year before.

  • ". . . TV One had its second consecutive profitable year in 2010: Making a profit estimated at $22.6 million, a 135% increase from $9.6 million in 2009.

  • "In African American radio in 2010, at least two programs went off the air and the largest black broadcaster emerged from financial problems.

  • ". . . Despite black radio’s relative popularity, most African Americans do not use it to receive news. Only 9% of African Americans used radio to get most of their news, according to a December 2010 Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey. Twice as many whites (18%) got most of their news from the radio and 12% of Hispanics did the same."

  • ". . . One paper suffered a sharp drop in circulation in 2010. The Amsterdam News, one of the largest businesses owned and operated by blacks in New York, suffered a drop in circulation of nearly one half from 2009 to 2010. For the six months ending September 30, 2010, the New York Amsterdam News had an average circulation of 9,750, a 44% decline from 17,477 for the same period in 2009.

    "That number may be somewhat misleading. Publisher and editor-in-chief [Elinor] Tatum attributed the decrease to two 'extremely significant events in the African American community' in 2009, the inauguration of Barack Obama and the death of Michael Jackson, that gave circulation figures an artificial rise.

  • ". . . The digital divide between whites and other ethnic groups is narrowing. A number of different indicators show African Americans and Hispanics turning to the internet in higher percentages than in years past.

  • "An estimated 71% of African Americans use the internet, according to a Pew Internet & American Life survey conducted in May 2010. This still trails whites (80%) and Hispanics (82%), but closes the gap more.  . . .  data show young African Americans’ time spent on the internet has almost caught up to time watching television."

The report broke out other segments of the news media, and news reports reflected that:

"Today" show anchor Ann Curry, reporting from Japan, received a Tweet from Megan Walsh over the weekend asking for news of her sister. "Today" showed joyful faces testifying to Curry's success. (Video)

Ann Curry Responds to Tweet, Finds American After Quake

"The world watched in horror as the scene was replayed over and over: a 30-foot wall of water ripping through Japanese villages such as Minamisanriku, leaving 10,000 of its 17,000 residents missing. But few felt the terror more deeply and personally than the family of 25-year-old Canon Purdy, who arrived in Japan the day the earth turned upside down," Seamus McGraw, a contributor, wrote Monday.

" 'My sister ... is missing,' Purdy’s sister, Megan Walsh, wrote in a desperate Twitter message to TODAY’s Ann Curry, who arrived in Japan Saturday to cover the disastrous effects of the earthquake and resulting tsunami. 'Please help with any news of evacuees.'

" 'I will do my best,' Curry tweeted back.

"Formerly a teacher of English in Japan, where she was highly popular with her students, Purdy had left the country, but returned just before the quake to see her former students graduate. Like thousands of others, including two fellow American teachers who were with Purdy, she was quickly sent fleeing by the nightmare of the March 11 quake and the tsunami that followed.

"On Monday, moved by Purdy’s family’s plea and armed with a photograph of the teacher, Curry made her way to the middle school in what was left of Minamisanriku, which had been turned into a makeshift evacuation center.

"The good news came a few moments later: 'She’s OK,' and 'somewhere outside,' other survivors told Curry. Taken to another refugee center, Curry found Purdy, along with the two other American teachers. All three were safe and sound. . . ."

Yemen Raids Foreign Journalists' Apartment, 4 Deported

"Yemeni security forces have raided an apartment shared by four Western journalists and deported them apparently over their coverage of growing anti-government protests in the country," Al Jazeera reported Monday, crediting its own reporting and agencies.

"The expulsions on Monday came amid further demonstrations in the impoverished Gulf state.

"Oliver Holmes, one of the journalists, said that one of the agents told him they were being kicked out because of their coverage of the protests.

" 'The situation in Yemen has got quite dire in the past three days,' said Holmes, a British citizen, speaking by telephone from the airport in Qatar.

" 'We have all been reporting on the use of violence by the police.'

"The other journalists who were deported are Haley Sweetland Edwards and Joshua Maricich, both US nationals, and Portia Walker, a British citizen.

"Reporters Without Borders condemned the move, noting that two other journalists — Patrick Symmes, a US citizen, and Marco Di Lauro, an Italian photographer — were deported on Saturday."

Reporters Without Borders said Holmes strings for the Wall Street Journal and Time, and Walker strings for the Washington Post. Edwards writes for the Los Angeles Times and AOL News and Maricich writes for various media, including the Yemen Times, it said.

Despite Quake, Libya Needs Journalists More Than Ever

"Dictators have the darnedest luck. The Russian government would have likely gotten in a fair bit of trouble for invading neighboring Georgia in 2008 if everyone, including President George W. Bush, wasn’t too busy slappin’ booties at the Beijing Olympics," Frances Martel wrote Saturday for Mediaite.

"In 2009, the deaths of protesters in Iran over the legitimacy of their elections was silenced by the passing of Michael Jackson.

"And now, it seems, Libya’s elderly Caligula [Moammar] Gaddafi seems to have lucked out as well, with a devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake shifting the epicenter of all media coverage to the other side of the world: Tokyo, Japan.

"What Americans went to sleep believing to be the most tragic news story of the season became a mere footnote in the history books for 2011 by the time they woke up, and along with their interest in Gaddafi’s human rights abuses went the lives up an innumerable number of Japanese residents and even a small number of Americans unfortunate enough to be swept in the aftershocks on America’s West Coast.

"Anderson Cooper, bags packed for Libya, tweeted yesterday he was on board a plane to Japan. He was hardly the only one to take a journalistic detour. Christiane Amanpour, Greg Palkot, and Ann Curry, among many others, are heading to the island nation for live coverage. And while it’s easy to spot the millions of losers in this disaster of epic (literally) proportions, if the international media let their ADD get the best of them, there stands at least one obvious winner: [Moammar] Gaddafi.

Editing of NPR "Sting" Video Found to Be Deceptive

James O'Keefe"Footage posted online last week by conservative activist James O'Keefe III captured NPR's chief fundraising official, Ron Schiller, disparaging conservatives and the Tea Party and saying NPR would be better off without federal funding," David Folkenflik reported Monday for NPR.

"Fueled in part by the attention given the video by the conservative Daily Caller website, an 11½-minute version of O'Keefe's hidden camera video ricocheted around the blogosphere Tuesday.

"It mortified NPR, which swiftly repudiated Schiller's remarks and in short order triggered his ouster along with that of his boss, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, who is no relation to Ron Schiller.

"A closer review of those tapes, however, shows that many of Ron Schiller's most provocative remarks were presented in a misleading way."

". . . The Blaze — a conservative news aggregation site set up by Fox News host Glenn Beck — first took a look late last week and found that O'Keefe had edited much of the shorter video in deceiving ways.

". . .  In recent days, several influential journalists have written that they regret giving O'Keefe's NPR videos wider circulation without scrutinizing them for themselves, given his past record and some of the objections that the Blaze first raised. They include Ben Smith of Politico, James Poniewozik of Time magazine and Dave Weigel of Slate.

" 'The speed at which the media operates when a video comes out is a problem,' Weigel said Sunday. 'I mean, the rush to be the first to report on a video — and, let's be brutally honest, the rush is to get traffic and to get people booked on [cable TV] shows to talk about it — and that nature leads you to not do the rigor and fact-checking that you would do in other situations.' "

Marc Aronson, a historian who writes for young people, shows eighth-graders in Brooklyn, N.Y., a sculpture that Arabs made from sugar. He also discussed the brutality of the slave trade that resulted from the quest for sugar. (video)

Even Journalists Learn From "Sugar Changed the World"

Sugar will never be viewed the same again for those who watch a C-Span program (video) that repeated over the weekend. It's a presentation to eighth-graders in Brooklyn, N.Y., by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos, husband-and-wife authors of a recent book for young people, "Sugar Changed the World."

Anyone with roots in the Caribbean — or knows people who have them — will learn the role these ancestors played in producing the driving force in the world economy for generations. The processing of sugar drove the enslavement of Africans, particularly in the West Indies, led to the creation of Haiti, the sale of Louisiana to the United States and had repercussions in South Africa, India, Hawaii and even Ireland, where the phrase "to Barbados someone" meant to convert a person into an indentured servant who would cut cane in Barbados.

"Sugar transformed how we ate, sugar transformed who we were," Aronson told the students. "Sugar drove the world economy."

Ninety-six percent of the Africans brought to the Americas as slaves went to the sugar lands. Only 4 percent went to the United States. In the sugar lands, the work was so brutal that more people died doing it than produced children, hence the need for constant replenishment of
sugar workers.

For journalists, the saga is a reminder that even in history, following the money is always sound advice.

Aronson told Journal-isms via e-mail, "the message I'd say is — US history has always been part of world history — we've been globalized since 1492, follow any lead from our story and soon you will see how it connects to people and events on every continent."

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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NPR sting video reflects problem in journalism

Even in the nascent days of blogging, I cringed when I heard professional journalists mourn the presumed death of quality journalism due to the widespread acceptance of blogging and social media tools that gave greater voice to the citizenry.

My point then, and it remains my point today, is that journalists paved the way for the the fast-paced acceptance of blogging and news aggregators online.

Look no further than the NPR sting video produced by the infamous James O'Keefe. Now, journalists are lamenting the fact they rushed to press with a deceptively edited piece.

Take another look at the whiplash that has taken place since the earthquake in Japan. Libya, Egypt and any other earth-shaking events have all been lost in the laser-like focus on Japan. I guess we'll all have to get news of the ongoing events anywhere else in the world from bloggers, Tweeters and Facebook posts.

I know media cannot be everywhere at once. And I know they have to make decisions, which can have unintended impact and even neglect. 

And so it was with open arms that I welcomed the advent of new media tools, which empowered the citizenry to provide information, leads and much-needed assistance to a media that had grown a bit too narcissistic.

Now, thanks to a Tweeter and a fully alert journalist (Ann Curry), we today have a media story that makes us smile in the midst of tragedy. And it serves as a good example of how the public benefits when traditional media and social media work together. 

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