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NAHJ Faces $300,000 Budget Shortfall

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Thursday, July 23, 2009


Dallas reporter Rebecca Aguilar accepts the Broadcast Journalist of the Year Award at the 2007 awards gala of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Staging one this year would cost time that could be used for fund-raising, the association said. (Credit: NAHJ)

Banquet Canceled; Members Asked to Raise $200 Each

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is facing a $300,000 budget shortfall and has canceled its annual awards banquet, the association's president, O. Ricardo Pimentel, wrote members on Friday.

"Can you raise at least $200 for NAHJ? Can you do more? We can all certainly do this, together. For example, if every current member of NAHJ (1,400) raises $200, that adds up to $280,000. Imagine what we could do together if some people O. Ricardo Pimentel raised more," wrote Pimentel, who is editorial page editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. NAHJ named the campaign "Count Me I?±."

"Adding to NAHJ's troubles has been a 36% drop in membership and a huge drop in attendance at its annual convention, this year held in Puerto Rico. Barely 800 people attended, compared to almost 2,000 in the last convention (pre Unity last year)," Veronica Villafa?±e, a past NAHJ president, wrote on her Media Moves Web site. 

She hastened to add, "While it was not a financial success, those who made it to San Juan gave rave reviews on the multi-media training."

While the annual awards banquet is a fundraiser, Executive Director Ivan Roman told Journal-isms, "It's a matter of time. Do we spend a lot of time in the next few months putting together an event that could raise a more modest amount of money or focus all of our time doing a variety of fundraising that could probably render a better result? We're betting on the latter." 

Pimentel said in his letter: "We need to raise $300,000 before December 15th to continue: giving scholarships to Latino students, training more Latinos in multimedia journalism via regional conferences, bringing the Parity Project's advocacy for fairness in coverage to more cities, and boosting the sheer numbers of Latino journalists with new skills to stay in journalism and collectively have more impact on news media than ever before."

He listed the organization's recent accomplishments and noted that the organization is accepting donations online at for its "Count Me I?±" campaign.

Bay Area Papers Trim More of Their Staffs

Newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area are shrinking their staffs again, and the casualties have included the last remaining African American reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, Leslie Fulbright; the next-to-last Latino reporter at the Chronicle, Chris Heredia; and Donna Kato, style editor for fashion and beauty at the San Jose Mercury News.

Donna KatoFurther cuts are coming, Carl Hall of the San Jose Newspaper Guild told Journal-isms, as the Mercury News prepares to move some of its copy desk functions to papers in the Bay Area News Group-East Bay, which is under the same ownership.

Kevin Keane, executive editor of that group, which includes the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times, among other papers, said this month that 18 journalists in the East Bay would be laid off this summer as revenue continues to slide.

Fulbright's last byline appeared May 31 and she was said to be out of the country. Heredia left at the end of June.

Chronicle Editor Ward Bushee told Journal-isms, "As with almost all newsrooms, we've gone through a time of reductions. However, the two former staffers you mention represent a small fraction of the voluntary and involuntary reductions. Staff that has departed has come from all age groups and both from diverse and non-diverse backgrounds. But I would make one assumption: Because there was a substantial number of long-time staff members who took voluntary departure packages, our remaining staff probably has increased in its diversity representation."

But Michael Cabanatuan, a Chronicle reporter who is president of the California Media Workers Guild, told Journal-isms, "The most recent round of buyouts and layoffs devastated what little diversity we had on our staff.'

Michael Cabanatuan"The staff reductions leave only seven non-white reporters out of about 50. To be fair, some departments, particularly photo and graphics, are more diverse, but they are also smaller staffs.

"The layoffs and buyouts also affected our age (and experience) diversity as well. The majority of those who went out the door were older than 45. And some of our top female journalists were sent packing. Frankly, those of us remaining are stunned, and have yet to regroup and refocus our efforts at encouraging diversity in staffing and coverage."

Kato, who has been active in the Asian American Journalists Association, said, "I'm not sure what I want to do next . . . I'm taking the next couple of weeks to rest and think about what my Plan B might be. I have a few things in the works and want to take my time making a decision!"

"As for Bay Area News Group," Cabanatuan said, "I'm not as intimately familiar with the diversity of their staffs, but I know that their layoffs and buyouts also ate away at their diversity, which was also fairly weak to begin with.

"My general impression is that neither paper took diversity into account when deciding how to cut their staffs. The industry's commitment to have its newspaper staffs reflect the diversity of their communities seems to have been forgotten in the Bay Area as it has nationwide."

President Obama appeared in the White House briefing room Friday to try to tamp down the Henry Louis Gates controversy. (Video)

Media Provide "Teachable Moments" in Gates Case

Since President Obama "acknowledges that race is still an issue and there are sensitivities still about race, as this issue has proven," April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Friday, "is he thinking about possibly doing something along the lines of what Bill Clinton did, possibly having a conversation on race at some point?"

Gibbs replied, "I think in many ways the question, the answer, the events, I think we're having that conversation. I don't think it's a separate initiative, I don't think it's an announcement. I think the President would say that these are important issues that play out in our daily lives and will and should be discussed in our daily lives."

Since the news broke this week about the arrest of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his Cambridge, Mass., home after a report of a possible break-in, the news media have led — and been led into — several "teachable moments" about race and racial profiling, about neighborly etiquette and about the arguable differences between race issues and those of class.

It hasn't always been with everyone's approval. The network morning television shows were both criticized and defended for leading their shows on Thursday with Obama's news conference remark that "the Cambridge police acted stupidly," when the bulk of the news conference was about health care.

The resulting discussions exposed how little many journalists and news consumers know about racial profiling or that police can be lying in their police reports, about the rights of citizens in such situations, or even who Gates is.

Slate magazine published a helpful explainer, "Do Police Officers Have to Identify Themselves?" Black journalists related what mothers teach their sons about how to conduct themselves around police, and some described their own encounters with the men and women in blue.

A black psychologist explained on the new NBC Universal Web site,, "I have ridden in cars with my white friends who have been stopped by the police and have been amazed as to how they have been able to challenge them verbally and get away with it. I know if I, as a black man, were to say some of those same things, I would be tasered and arrested immediately."

"The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" invited the black police chief of mostly white Southfield, Mich., Joseph Thomas Jr., to put the issue in clearer focus: "If we don't look at this from a training standpoint and take a look at what those officers are being taught in the academy and their enrichment training and what they're taught to do, this incident will reoccur," he said.

On, James Hannaham gave the episode historical perspective:

"Last night I happened to be reading a book that put the whole incident into context, a volume that never fails to chill me: 'We Charge Genocide,' a petition brought before the U.N. in 1951 that makes a very convincing case for defining the treatment of African-Americans in the U.S. as a genocide. This remarkable book consists, in part, of a litany of shocking bias crimes committed against black citizens across the country — and only documented ones occurring between 1945 to 1950. A typical entry reads: 'February 13 — ISAAC WOODWARD, JR., discharged from the Army only a few hours, was on his way home when he had his eyes gouged out in Batesburg, South Carolina, by the town chief of police, Linwood Shull . . . [A]n all-white jury acquitted Shull after being out for 15 minutes.' And so on, for 50-odd hair-raising pages. Believe me, Toni Morrison couldn’t top it.

"So the Gates story makes me thankful that it’s not 1945 anymore, the year when, on Dec. 22, Cab Calloway was 'slugged by a city policeman' in Kansas City and needed 'eight stitches . . . in his head.'"

On Friday afternoon, after criticism from police groups, Obama attempted to ratchet down the controversy with an appearance in the White House briefing room.

"I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think, I unfortunately, I think, gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department or Sergeant Crowley specifically. And I could have calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sergeant Crowley,” a reference to James Crowley, the Cambridge officer who arrested Gates.

Obama said he might have Gates and Crowley at the White House for a beer.

. . . Gates Agrees to White House Beer With Cop

Henry Louis Gates Jr., who had demanded an apology from the Cambridge, Mass., officer who arrested him, said Friday night he would take President Obama's suggestion and meet with Sgt. James Crowley for a beer at the White House.

Gates, the Harvard scholar who is editor in chief of, issued this statement:

"It was very kind of the President to phone me today. Vernon Jordan is absolutely correct: my unfortunate experience will only have a larger meaning if we can all use this to diminish racial profiling and to enhance fairness and equity in the criminal justice system for poor people and for people of color.

"And to that end, I look forward to studying the history of racial profiling in a new documentary for PBS. I told the President that my principal regret was that all of the attention paid to his deeply supportive remarks during his press conference had distracted attention from his health care initiative. I am pleased that he, too, is eager to use my experience as a teaching moment, and if meeting Sgt. [James] Crowley for a beer with the President will further that end, then I would be happy to oblige.

"After all, I first proposed that Sgt. Crowley and I meet as early as last Monday. If my experience leads to the lessening of the occurrence of racial profiling, then I would find that enormously gratifying. Because, in the end, this is not about me at all; it is about the creation of a society in which 'equal justice before law' is a lived reality."

CNN's Jon Klein Declares Obama Birth Story "Dead"

Roland Martin, left, and Rep. Ted Poe, D-Texas"TVNewser has learned CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein sent an email to a handful of 'Lou Dobbs Tonight' staffers last night regarding the coverage of the so-called birthers and the validity of Pres. Obama's birth in the U.S.," Chris Ariens reported for MediaBistro's TV Newser site

"In part, Klein writes, 'It seems this story is dead — because anyone who still is not convinced doesn't really have a legitimate beef.' Klein asked CNN researchers to dig into the question of why Obama couldn't produce the original birth certificate. The researchers contacted the Hawaii Health Dept. and confirmed that paper documents were discarded in 2001 when the department went paperless. That reportedly includes Pres. Obama's original birth certificate.

"Last night on Dobbs' show, CNN analyst Roland Martin and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), one of nine co-sponsors of a bill that would certify Presidential candidates' U.S. births going forward, debated the issue. A very fired-up Martin who thinks the whole issue is 'hilarious' got a bit of a scolding from Dobbs: 'Roland, I would like you to remember, if you would, and I'm trying to be as nice as I can be, but you are yelling and getting awfully excited about something that doesn't require this.' By the way, Dobbs has said over and over and over again that he believes Obama was born in the U.S.

"MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who has also been covering this story extensively, has been showing his viewers a 'Certificate of Live Birth' validated by the state of Hawaii. But that's not enough for some people who still believe without an original birth certificate, that Pres. Obama was not born in the United States, a qualification to be president."

U.S., N. Korea Negotiate Over Detained Journalists

"The U.S. and North Korea have started delicate negotiations over two American journalists who were detained and sentenced to hard labor in North Korea, an influential source in Washington said Sunday. The next three or four weeks will be crucial in deciding whether the two women can walk free," South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported on Monday.

"The U.S. House of Representatives intended last week to adopt a resolution urging the North to release reporters Euna Lee and Laura Ling, and the Senate intended to follow suit, but their plans have been postponed at the State Department's request, the source said. The State Department made the request to Congress because it fears that a resolution could anger the North at a time when the two countries have entered sensitive negotiations, the source added.

"Earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on July 10 asked the North to grant the two an amnesty and allow them to return home to their families."

Vibe Subscriber Sues Over Lack of Refund

"When Vibe went belly-up, the publishers of the urban beat magazine didn't lift a finger to refund subscribers who were left high and dry by its sudden demise, according to a federal class-action lawsuit filed in New York," David K. Li reported Thursday in the New York Post.Vibe's June issue, its last.

"The civil complaint, on behalf of Enterprise, Ala., resident Kenneth Rogers, claims he purchased a year-long subscription to Vibe three months before the magazine's collapse on June 30. Rogers claims Vibe hasn't done a thing to refund his money. His lawsuit invites any of the mag's 800,000 subscribers to join.

"A one-year subscription cost between $9.95 and $14.95, and readers had to pay up front, according to the suit.

"The magazine was founded by legendary music producer Quincy Jones in 1993 before he sold his interests in 2006 to The Wicks Cos., which announced the shutdown late last month.

"A rep for Wicks did not immediately return messages seeking the company's comment."

Short Takes

  • "Comcast is teaming with The Golf Channel to tee Uneven Fairways, a documentary on the challenges of African-American golfers trying to break the color barrier in professional golf," John Eggerton reported in Broadcasting & Cable. "In addition to airing the documentary, Comcast will host screenings of the show and discussions in Atlanta, Baltimore and Boston in conjunction with schools and youth groups. The doc is also being screened Thursday night (July 23) at the NCTA headquarters in Washington," referring to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
  • Mignon Clyburn"The full Senate has approved the nominations of Mignon Clyburn and Meredith Attwell Baker to the two remaining seats on the FCC, according to a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. That means the commission could be at full strength ‚Äî five commissioners ‚Äî by next week," John Eggerton reported Friday for Broadcasting & Cable. "Clyburn is a South Carolina utility regulator and daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC). Clyburn said she would be consumer- and public-interest focused. She gave a shout out for high-speed and affordable broadband, said she opposed the fairness doctrine 'in any way shape or form,' supported Internet openness, and was wary of media consolidation."
  • For a couple of hours on Friday, Chris Bahn of the Web site and monthly magazine was the only reporter to have posted the news that novelist E. Lynn Harris had died in Beverly Hills, Calif. "I wasn't trying to break a story," Bahn told Journal-isms as he drove back to Little Rock from Birmingham, Ala., for the Southeast Conference Media Day. "It was more of a tribute to him. He was a guy that my wife and I know," and his purpose for the posting was to explain "what he meant to us." Harris, who was 54, and Bahn's wife, Toni, met at the University of Arkansas. Bahn said he learned the news from a family friend.
  • "ESPN spokesman Mac Nwulu has provided us with a statement . . . regarding their decision not to mention the civil sexual assault suit against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which to our knowledge has been ignored by every national ESPN platform, with the exception of a player page onto which a blurb from the ESPN/ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh leaked earlier today, as pointed out by Deadspin," Mike Florio reported Tuesday on the NBC Sports Web site. "'At this point, we are not reporting the allegations against Ben Roethlisberger because no criminal complaint has been filed,' Nwulu said. 'As far as we know, this is a civil lawsuit that Roethlisberger has yet to address publicly.' Actually, Roethlisberger has addressed the lawsuit publicly. . . ."
  • "Veteran CBS11 reporter Bud Gillett, via a sharply worded lawsuit filed Tuesday in Dallas County District Court, has charged the station with retaliation and reverse discrimination based on his age, sex, race and national origin," Dallas television writer Ed Bark reported Thursday on his blog. "Gillett, who is 60, joined CBS11 in September 2001 after a long career as a street reporter at Dallas-based KDFW-TV (Channel 4). As of this writing, he remains employed at CBS11 (KTVT)."
  • A piece by columnist Jason Whitlock declaring that tennis champ Serena Williams needed "a little less butt" "was raw sexism. It wasn't cute. It wasn't smartly crafted. It had a specious premise, and overall, for an ostensibly talented writer, it was a wholly unwarranted abuse of the power of his pen," Betty Winston Bay?© wrote Thursday in the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal.
  • Stigmatized worldwide: albinosAir dates have been set for "Albinos and Their Place in the Sun," the next topic on Philip Martin's "Color Initiative" series on Public Radio International's "The World." "In Panama, among Panamanian Indians, those known as albinos are revered. But in Tanzania and Burundi they are hunted down like animals. Albinos, whose skin colors are essentially the same regardless of race, face both discrimination and 'positive exceptionalism' in their respective societies," an introduction to the show begins. It airs Monday and Tuesday.
  • "Reporters Without Borders calls on the international community to press the Honduran de facto government to stop controlling news coverage and stop discriminating against media that are critical of the 28 June coup. The outside world has had less and less access to news about the situation inside Honduras since the expulsion of 11 journalists employed by the Venezuelan state-run TV stations Telesur and Venezolana de Televisi??n," Reporters Without Borders, the press-freedom organization, said on Thursday.
  • In Cuba, "Independent journalist Ileana P?©rez N?°poles was held by the political police in Las Tunas, eastern Cuba on 11 July at a march in tribute to victims of reprisals in an operation by the coast guard," according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Agents of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) took independent journalist David ?Åguila Montero to the internal security department on 15 July. During questioning they seized his USB memory stick and copies of the US daily [El] Nuevo Herald and The Dissident Review."
  • Investigative reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas of Ghana, praised by President Obama during the president's trip to the West African nation, defended his undercover tactics in an interview Thursday with National Public Radio's Michel Martin, host of "Tell Me More." He dated a hotel employee to get information about a sex trafficking ring, for example. "Well, it's a mixed feeling." he said of the ethics. "But again, you look at the repercussions. We're talking about saving lives here."

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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NAHJ Faces $300,000 Budget Shortfall

Other than lay off news from the Midwest chapter leader, and the occasional fundriasing email, I didn't see the value of membership and I didn't feel very connected to the organization. So I let my membership lapse. I've made more connections via Linkedin and Twitter with other Latino Journalists on my own without paying the membership fee. Other people I know sort of felt the same way.

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