NABJ Wants Larger Voice in Unity
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Members line up to see candidate Barack Obama at the 2008 Unity convention in Chicago. The conventions, scheduled for presidential election years since 2004, have striven to present the appearance of equality among the four partner organizations. (Credit: Jennifer Dronkers/Unity News)
The National Association of Black Journalists is seeking a larger voice within Unity: Journalists of Color, an organization that gives each of its four partner organizations the same number of votes, NABJ President Kathy Y. Times told members in a message Tuesday night.
"All four journalism organizations that make up this alliance have the same number of representatives and votes on the board of directors," Times wrote.
"As the largest partner, NABJ wants a voice that reflects its membership and convention attendance, which consistently accounts for more than half of the convention registrants. UNITY's president appointed a committee composed of alliance presidents to draft proposals, and an April 30th deadline was set for the board to review and approve a voting model."
The six-paragraph update did not directly mention the possibility of pulling out of the 2012 convention planned for Las Vegas.
However, it said, "NABJ first requested specific financial information about the 2008 UNITY convention immediately following the convention, and again this year. UNITY's president assured us these would be made available by Friday. This information is necessary to help NABJ's leadership make an informed decision about where we stand moving forward."
Over the weekend, the Unity board met face to face for the first time since NABJ raised the possibility of pulling out of the 2012 Unity convention, which brings together members of NABJ, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association. The Unity convention is the nation's largest assemblage of journalists, drawing 7,550 attendees by the final Sunday of its 2008 gathering. Predominantly white organizations such as the Society for Professional Journalists and the Radio-Television Digital News Association, by contrast, draw in the hundreds. SPJ and RTDNA plan a joint convention in September.
At a 1988 Baltimore meeting of the boards of the four organizations that eventually held the first Unity convention in 1994 in Atlanta, a special effort was made to present each group equally, extending even to the seating arrangements at the table.
Joanna Hernandez, Unity president, said this month in an e-mail to Unity members, "As an alliance partner, NABJ has concerns. It's always the right time to bring concerns to the surface. This is the only way the UNITY board can begin to address them head on and iron out differences in a true collaboration with all UNITY partners sitting as equals at the table."
However, NABJ has pointed out that 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, according to NABJ figures.
In its weekend meeting, the Unity board voted for a resolution asserting that "the alliance partners should have a fair, equitable representation at the table," and thus "the Governance Committee made up of the four alliance presidents will review and recommend a revised process to represent the alliance partners in decision making, with the UNITY board of directors to approve by April 30, 2011."
Michele Salcedo, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, voted against the resolution on behalf of herself and, by proxy, NAHJ member Cecilia Alvear, saying the resolution should include the words "as necessary" after "recommend a revised process." Times responded, "If you don't do it, why even bother?"
The message from Times to NABJ members said:
"Over the weekend, the UNITY: Journalists of Color Board of Directors met in Virginia and continued negotiations on several issues NABJ raised in recent months regarding finances, governance and accountability for the organization. With the assistance of a consultant, we were successful in reaching some objectives, but two of NABJ's main concerns are unresolved.
"The UNITY board passed three resolutions and moved up deadlines to address issues such as UNITY's mission, fundraising, and governance. The alliance partners also started reassessing UNITY's mission and began outlining fundraising goals that would not compete with its partners. The board confirmed NABJ member and board representative Leisa Richardson as the chairwoman of the UNITY 2012 convention.
"All four journalism organizations that make up this alliance have the same number of representatives and votes on the board of directors. As the largest partner, NABJ wants a voice that reflects its membership and convention attendance, which consistently accounts for more than half of the convention registrants. UNITY's president appointed a committee composed of alliance presidents to draft proposals, and an April 30th deadline was set for the board to review and approve a voting model.
"We remain concerned about UNITY's ability to deliver financial reports and records in a timely manner. For the first time this year, the UNITY board reviewed a preliminary 2011 budget and will adopt the budget next month. The convention revenue split adopted by the Unity board two weeks ago, over the objections of NABJ, remains the same and caps UNITY's convention revenue at $750,000. Unless the UNITY board is willing to adjust staffing when UNITY is not actively planning a convention, there is little room to adjust UNITY's overhead expenses.
"Additionally, NABJ first requested specific financial information about the 2008 UNITY convention immediately following the convention, and again this year. UNITY's president assured us these would be made available by Friday. This information is necessary to help NABJ's leadership make an informed decision about where we stand moving forward.
"I remain committed achieving the best possible outcome for our members by the April NABJ board meeting, and I appreciate your patience and feedback during these ongoing negotiations."
The student newspaper at Benedict College, a historically black institution in Columbia, S.C., with 3,100 students, has appeared only once this semester because the school administration decided it must approve the newspaper before publication.
"They told us that we have no rights to freedom of the press because this is a private institution," Samantha Norman, the editor-in-chief and a graduating senior, told Journal-isms.
"I feel as though they are trying to make the student paper a press release publication instead of a newspaper. They also seem to be giving us a ultimatum and they may take the paper away if we chose not to agree with their demands."
The situation attracted the attention of the Student Press Law Center, a legal assistance agency for high school and college journalists, and the Black College Communication Association, an organization of faculty advisers at historically black colleges and universities.
"We are well aware that, as a private institution, Benedict College is not governed by First Amendment principles. But this is not, and should not be, a matter of law," Frank LoMonte, SPLC executive director, wrote David H. Swinton, the school's president, on March 8.
"No college’s question should never be, 'Can we legally get away with this,' but rather, 'Is this the right way to treat our students?' It clearly is not. Ms. Norman has been placed in fear of unspecified threats against her future if she does not accept this exceedingly heavy level of censorship. No student should have to attend college in fear of her own faculty and administration."
He also said, "As a show of our good faith, we have kept silent about this situation and will do so, briefly, to allow the College to completely correct its mistake internally. We have not contacted the news media, posted anything on our website, or otherwise done anything to call public attention to this matter. But as I hope you can recognize, we cannot stand by and allow the severe mistreatment of students to go unchallenged indefinitely."
However, LoMonte told Journal-isms this week, he has not heard anything from the college.
Valerie D. White, a journalism professor at Florida A&M University who chairs the Black College Communication Association, said Benedict canceled a planned conference call on the subject after receiving LoMonte's letter. The censorship issue has been a recurring one. Speaking of the campus newspaper, White said presidents at HBCUs "need to see it as a learning tool and take the good with the bad."
College officials have not responded to inquiries initiated by Journal-isms early in the month.
In a March 3 email, Norman said the stalemate arose after "I attended the HBCU media conference where I was interviewed by another student for a publication during the conference. I expressed my happiness in how Benedict College has came a long way since my freshman year because of lack of resources but now the department is starting to boom.
"The writer used terms such as 'financial turmoil' that the school faced which resulted in the faculty being unhappy with the article. Since returning to school professors and administration have expressed their disappointment in the article and resentment towards me. Even though everything in the article is technically true, I did express to them that I was misquoted. This was not our student paper but a collaborative paper that was made public to the attendees of the conference."
". . . I spoke with the department coordinator within [the] journalism section. He identified that the department would like to censor the paper only so that the paper could represent the best image of the school.
"He changed his previous statement about censoring the content by saying that they wanted only to be sure of such things like grammar, style, attribution and facts are correct. He stated that the school needs to establish a bond of trust with the department before we can be an independent student paper.
". . . the plan that they have for us is to send the paper to our adviser, next to the assistant adviser, then to the department coordinator, then to the assistant dean, next to the Dean, Finally to the business office. I expressed my concern on why the paper would have to go through so many people just to check for 'commas' as he said in an example.
"At this time administration is demanding a production schedule from myself and the staff that includes review time for administration. We are already at mid terms and have not been able to produce a paper this semester because of trying to deal with this issue."
The editors-in-chief of Black Voices and AOL Latino under Huffington Post management have yet to be determined, AOL staffers were told Wednesday.
In a conference call to explain how various departments would function under the Huffington Post Media Group, which is now running the editorial section of AOL, Arianna Huffington and her deputies also said they planned to eliminate freelancers and instead hire full-time staffers and "contributors" who are not professional writers.
As part of AOL's acquisition of the Huffington Post for $315 million, Huffington became president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, which supervises AOL's editorial content.
The staffers will produce deeply reported, well-told stories, Peter Goodman, editor for business and technology news and a veteran of the New York Times and Washington Post, told the group.
The contributors would be people who wish to promote an idea or have a book coming out, the staffers were told. For them, it would be the equivalent of appearing on a talk show, Huffington said, an analogy she has used before in explaining why the Huffington Post did not pay bloggers.
The move would seem an end run around attempts to organize freelancers to boycott the Huffington Post; most wouldn't be used anyway.
"While Visual Arts Source editor Bill [Lazarow‘s] call for a boycott of Huffington Post at the beginning of March may have been initially dismissed by Arianna Huffington, it has become a whole lot tougher to ignore now," Matthew Fleischer wrote Wednesday for FishbowlLA. "Nearly a month later the boycott is still in effect, the 26,000 member Newspaper Guild has climbed aboard, and the strike is now generating international solidarity."
AOL named Tariq Muhammad, formerly director of interactive media for BlackEnterprise.com, director of AOL Black Voices in 2007 .
On March 22, Huffington announced that Rebecca Carroll would be Black Voices culture editor. 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," the announcement said.
Miguel Ferrer, general manager of AOL Latino, has been running the site day to day, Huffington said.
"Foreign journalists covering events in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, are facing increased government pressure," Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reported Wednesday for NPR. "State television regularly denounces Western media coverage of the conflict, and there are billboards around the city condemning news organizations by name. The situation for the media in the Libyan capital has become ever more sinister and weird.
". . . Guest speakers are brought in to harangue the media, and their comments are filmed and often put on state television.
"On Tuesday, a French 'fact-finding' delegation comprising several doddering leftists and a stand-up comedian were given the podium. Journalists were referred to variously as the Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels, or, by one Frenchwoman, as the stooges of our Western governments.
". . . Miles Amoore of the Sunday Times of London only eats uncooked food at mealtimes.
" 'I eat salad every day,' he says. 'It could be that I'm overly paranoid about this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the food here is being spiked with some kind of sedative.
" 'And there have actually been other journalists who have been taking samples of the food to take back with them to England to get them tested. It's not just me. I might be mad, but I'm not alone in my madness.'
"The journalists sitting at the table with him laugh, but it's a nervous kind of laughter."
- David Bauder, Associated Press: Journalists' calculations in wartime become issue
- Lauren Frayer, AOL News: Who Would Be Willing to Give Moammar [Gaddafi] Exile?
- Emil Guillermo blog: Obama's Crystal Clear Quagmire
- Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Public TV and Libya: Govt. Officials, Current and Former
- Joshua Keating, Foreign Policy: How the "king of Africa" fueled his own country's racism
- Joel Meares, Columbia Journalism Review: Obama Leaves the Pundits Wanting More
- Louisa Ada Seltzer, medialifemagazine.com: Obama speech draws 25.6 million
- Lynne Varner and Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times: Obama's Speech, Pro and Con
- Alex Weprin, TVNewser: Fox News Tops Cablers During President Obama’s Libya Speech
- Jack White, theRoot.com: Obama Takes a Moral Stand on Libya
- Armstrong Williams, syndicated: Clear as Mud in Libya
"A colleague of mine and I since 1991 have directed the largest study of children of immigrants in the United States over time, looking at 77 different nationalities, including all of the ones from Latin America," Ruben Rumbaut, a sociology professor at the University of California at Irvine, told Steve Inskeep Wednesday on NPR's "Morning Edition."
"And over time, we have asked them separate questions about their ethnic identity and also a question about race. We also independently interviewed their parents.
"Cuban parents, 93 percent of them, thought that they were white, but only 41 percent of their own children thought they were white; 69 percent of Nicaraguans, Salvadoran and Guatemalan parents thought they were white, but only 19 percent of their own children thought they were white."
The two were discussing how to classify and measure Hispanics in the census, since Hispanics are an ethnicity not a race.
- Julianne Malveaux, Trice-Edney News Wire: Demographic Shifts and Black Political Power
"KDWB radio in the Twin Cities is apologizing for a song that aired last week by one of its morning show employees. The morning show sidekick — Steve-O — sang these lyrics to the tune of 'Tears in Heaven,' " Bob Collins reported Wednesday for Minnesota Public Radio. (audio here)
"No room for a couch
" 'Cause we sleep on the floor
"One big group of Vangs
"Hmong family of twenty-four
"Kids work in St. Paul
"Hang out at the mall
" 'Cause I know they dwell so well
"Thirty Hmongs in a house
"Hmongs get pregnant early
"First baby at 16
"Seven kids by 23
"Over the hill by 30
"Like sardines they live
"Packed in a two-room house with the kids
"But you know they age quite well
"They be Hmongs.
"On the audio, popular radio personality Dave Ryan laughs and then appears to anticipate the backlash, adding, 'I am not laughing at your song.'
"Rob Morris, the station's program director posted a message on the station's Facebook page. He did not declare the bit wrong, but apologized to those who think it was."
The Minnesota chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association said that while it "acknowledges the role of parody, we’ve heard from members of the community who found these remarks offensive and in poor taste. We know KDWB has a large Hmong listenership.
"We urge the station to take heed when promoting material that stereotypes and marginalizes a large segment of its fan base. It appears that the station recognizes the legitimacy of these concerns. We commend KDWB for addressing the situation. . . "
"In the final stretch of the 2008 campaign, a Fox News executive repeatedly questioned on the air whether Barack Obama believed in socialism," Howard Kurtz reported Tuesday for the Daily Beast.
"Now it turns out he didn’t really believe what he was saying.
"Bill Sammon, now the network’s vice president and Washington managing editor, acknowledged the following year that he was just engaging in 'mischievous speculation' in raising the charge. In fact, Sammon said he 'privately' believed that the socialism allegation was 'rather far-fetched.'
"These remarks, unearthed by the liberal advocacy group Media Matters, raise the question of whether Sammon, who oversees Washington news coverage for Fox News, was deliberately trying to sabotage the Democratic presidential candidate. He has come under fire before for memos he sent to the network’s staff that have seemed less than fair and balanced."
- Eric Deggans blog, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: Herman Cain, Donald Trump and birther talk: The new face of prejudice in media and politics
"In a follow-up story, The New York Times has offered new context while also repeating some of the same mistakes it made in its previous coverage of an 11-year-old Texas girl who was allegedly raped by 19 young men," Mallary Jean Tenore wrote Tuesday for the Poynter Institute.
"The story published Tuesday features an exclusive interview with the girl’s father and provides details of the six attacks authorities say occurred over several months."
". . . While the initial story was criticized for not identifying the race of the suspects, the follow-up makes the same questionable call.
"Tuesday’s story says that the victim is 'a sixth-grader whose parents are immigrants from Mexico.' However, the story doesn’t mention the race of the 19 black suspects, and it doesn’t show photos of them as many other news organizations have. It seems odd, then, that the victim’s race would be included."
- John Asbury, Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.: Police: Older girl lured child to gang rape
- Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: Two 11-year-old girls recently gang raped: Who's to blame?
“Stars of Ethiopia: Photographs by Chester Higgins Jr.,” a series of portraits of individuals from the African nation, will be on display, for 24-hour public viewing, from March 1 through May 8 at New York University’s Windows at Kimmel Center (the corner of LaGuardia Place and West Third Street) in Manhattan. The exhibition includes 13 images taken from 2007 to 2010. Higgins has been a staff photographer for the New York Times since 1975. For more information, call 212-998-2130.
- "Nearly 100 million (99.9 million) viewers watched all-or-part of CBS Sports’ and Turner Sports’ coverage of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship between March 15-March 17, according to a Nielsen [cumulative] study," Marcus Vanderberg reported Tuesday for Sportsnewser. "The 99.9 million viewers was an 11 percent increase over 89.6 million for CBS Sports’ coverage in 2010 and higher than any of the all-or-art viewership in the past 10 years during the first two weeks of the NCAA Tournament."
- The Final Four of the NCAA men's basketball tournament has been decided, and two teams stand out academically — one in a bad way," Olga Pierce wrote Tuesday for ProPublica. ". . . Last week we predicted Butler University would win the tournament, on the basis of our academic performance bracket. The team has a perfect 1000 academic progress rate, which is a measure of the team's performance in keeping athletes in good academic standing and on track for graduation, calculated by the NCAA. . . . The University of Connecticut men's basketball team, on the other hand, has an academic progress rate of just 930. . . . The other two Final Four teams, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Kentucky, have middling APRs of 975 and 954. The tournament average overall is 957."
- An average of 2.7 million viewers tuned into to Monday night’s Univision airing of "Noticias Univision Presenta: Es El Momento — El Presidente, Los Hispanos y la Educación" ("The Moment is Now: The President, Hispanics and Education") at 7 p.m. according to Nielsen’s Fast Affiliate Ratings, according to Univision. "At the town hall, President Obama addressed questions from parents and students regarding the Dream Act, the importance of parental engagement, bullying, testing, educational funding and Hispanic teacher recruitment." The transcript is available here.
- "Clearly, one reason why the problems with federal agencies, tribal governance and the like have persisted is that most reservations lack 'watchdogs' — specifically, independent newspapers or other media outlets that cover tribal issues," the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald editorialized Wednesday. "There are other press-related problems, including a scarcity of American Indian journalists and the reluctance of tribal and federal agencies to fully open their books. But once an independent and aggressive tribal press starts reporting those stories, the problems will be on their way to being solved."
- "NPR will suspend its search for a senior vice president for news until the public broadcaster finds a permanent CEO, according to an email obtained by The Hill," Gautham Nagesh wrote Monday for the Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper. "NPR interim chief executive Joyce Slocum informed staff Monday she has decided to stop the search for Ellen Weiss's replacement after consulting with members of the search advisory committee. Weiss was forced to resign in January over her role in the firing of news analyst Juan Williams."
- "Changes are afoot at ABC’s 'Good Morning America,' as Juju Chang will soon leave the program to join 'Nightline' as a correspondent and fill-in anchor, while ESPN 'SportsCenter' anchor Josh Elliott joins the morning show as its newsreader," Alex Weprin wrote Tuesday for TVNewser. "The changes are the first major moves since James Goldston took over as senior EP of 'GMA' in February."
- "Until further notice, Free Speech TV is pre-empting its regular programming for 10½ hours each day to air Al Jazeera English’s live news feeds," Free Speech TV announced on Wednesday. "Al Jazeera English’s live news feeds are now available on Free Speech TV on DIRECTV channel 348, DISH Network channel 9415, and on www.freespeech.org during the following broadcast windows: 3:30 pm – 7:00 pm, 10pm - midnight, and 3am - 8am ET."
- H. Lewis Smith, who as founder and president of the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc. crusades against use of the N-word, has rebuked David Bradley, associate professor of fiction at the University of Oregon, and CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent Byron Pitts. Bradley told Pitts he loves the N-word and supports the word being used 219 times in Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn." "Bradley then sought out to prove his love for the word by calling Pitts a 'nigger' during the segment," Rob Redding reported on his Redding News Review. The two "allowed themselves to be bullied by an institutionalized systemic. This system is designed to adversely manipulate and shape the minds and collective perceptions of America's Black population by subjecting them to seeing only the fraudulent worst in themselves," Smith wrote.
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