"Meet the Press" Pledges More Diversity
Thursday, February 25, 2010
NBC, Comcast Scolded in Capitol Hill HearingA day after a scolding from black members of Congress about NBC's insufficient diversity, the network Friday declared that "from interviews with political newsmakers to our roundtable discussions, 'Meet the Press' is committed to having a more diverse group of voices on the show whose opinions and expertise reflect, not just the news of the day, but the cultural, economical and political landscape of our country."
This Sunday's guests are to include Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League who also testified at the congressional hearing, although no journalists of color.The others are Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform; Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the Republican whip; Katty Kay, Washington correspondent, BBC World News America and Ron Brownstein, political director of Atlantic Media and columnist, National Journal.
The response to Journal-isms from NBC spokeswoman Jenny Tartikoff came after NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker said Thursday that "Meet the Press" had not done a good enough job of presenting diverse voices over the past decade, but is working to change that, as John Eggerton reported for Broadcasting & Cable. "He also said that while the network has no African-American-targeted show currently on the air, it has increased its investment in casting and script diversity 'dramatically.'¬†
"Zucker's comments came during tough questioning from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) at Thursday's House Judiciary Committee hearing," Eggerton's story continued.
"Waters asked how NBC could not have a single African-American-targeted show currently on the air. Zucker said the network was looking for good shows, wherever they came from, but that 'we have not found that [African-American] show.' When pressed by Waters, he said that NBC is looking for that program, but would give no timeline."
Zucker's comments about "Meet the Press" touched upon an issue that has been a sore point with journalists and newsmakers of color.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, like Waters a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, told Zucker, "There is no diversity on the Sunday morning talk shows," Paul Harris reported for Variety.
After the National Urban League released a 2005 report, "Sunday Morning Apartheid," its author, Stephanie Jones, met with the show's late host, Tim Russert, and its executive producer, Betsy Fischer. "He was very open and very interested in the study," Jones told Journal-isms. "He had read it. He said they wanted to do better," she said of Russert.
After David Gregory succeeded Russert on Dec. 14, 2008, African Americans appeared on four of the first five shows. Lately, however, the number of blacks on the show as guests has fallen off.
Mark Whitaker, a black journalist, is senior vice president at NBC News and succeeded Russert as chief of the network's Washington bureau.
The occasion for the discussion of NBC's diversity was a hearing on the proposed $30 billion merger of cable giant Comcast and NBC Universal, in which Comcast would have a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal. NBC's current owner, General Electric Co., would hold the remaining 49 percent.
At one point, Waters asked Jean Prewitt, president of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, who was testifying against the deal, whether her group could help Zucker out so "they are not sitting here in 2010 with no black programs," Joe Flint reported for the Los Angeles Times.
Waters wasn't the only panelist with pointed questions on diversity.
She and Jackson Lee were "armed with lists of board members for both companies,"¬† Aruna Viswanatha reported for mainjustice.com, and Waters asked Comcast Corp. Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts why his corporation had only one woman and one black man on its board.
"When you are judged about your sincerity about diversity, it really starts at the top," Waters said.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., pointed out that Comcast had no Hispanics on its board, Eggerton wrote, and asked Roberts why that was the case.
"Roberts said he did not have a good answer, that increasing diversity on the board was a priority and that he hoped that he had a different answer the next time the question was asked," Harris wrote.
"Gutierrez said he had had a productive meeting with NBC execs, including Chief Diversity Officer Paula Madison, about the [portrayal] of women on NBC-owned Telemundo, which he said was misogynistic and would be unacceptable if it were found on the NBC mothership.
"Zucker said he was proud of Telemundo, but promised to discuss those concerns with his executive team. Roberts said he would check out the [programming] as well."
On Friday, Madison defended Zucker in a conversation with Journal-isms.
"Jeff in fact directed his team to increase diversity everywhere and that was said in 2007 when he became CEO (and asked me to become EVP and Chief Diversity Officer) and made diversity one of his five operating imperatives," she said via e-mail.
"That said, our entertainment programs (both cable and broadcast) are much more diverse. We still have work to do, no question, and we have a great number of TV projects in development for 2010-2011 season which are very diverse. Since we haven't yet picked up the overwhelming majority of them, it wouldn't have been wise to commit to a slate or timetable in a House committee hearing."
Adam Bender, reporting on the hearing in Communications Daily, added, "The National Urban League has taken no position on the deal, said President Marc Morial. But Comcast has historically shown it's committed to diversity in employment and programming, and has worked with the League on diversity efforts, he said. If any local broadcast licenses are spun off as a result of the merger, minority business 'should have a fair and equal opportunity to acquire these assets,' he said."
- Michael Calderone, Politico: Vargas hosting 'This Week' on Sunday
N.Y. Gov. Paterson Says He Won't Run for ElectionNew York Gov. David A. Paterson announced on Friday that he was suspending his election campaign and would not run in November.
The New York Times in the last few days has broken "disclosures that the governor himself had stepped in on behalf of David W. Johnson, 37, a close confidant who rose from being a young intern to being Mr. Paterson‚Äôs driver and scheduler and, later, to a wider role in Mr. Paterson‚Äôs operation," in the words of a Times story Friday on Paterson's decision. The newspaper said political observers considered the disclosures too damaging for Paterson to stand for election.
Paterson was the elected lieutenant governor when he became the state's first African American governor in the wake of Eliot Spitzer's resignation in a prostitution scandal.
In response to a question, Paterson said a drumbeat of speculation that the Times had uncovered salacious details about him and was preparing to report them proved to be "unsubstantiated rumors." He said he hoped the stand he took in denouncing the rumors would encourage public officials to stand fast in instances like his, when "we become cartoon characters to make fun of" and "we forget they are real people."
The Times recounted that, "Last fall Mr. Johnson‚Äôs longtime companion accused him of brutally assaulting her, telling the police in New York City that he had choked her and thrown her against a dresser. She also said that Mr. Johnson had kept her from calling for help.
"Twice, the woman was granted a temporary order of protection.
"Then, on Feb. 7, the day before a court hearing about a final protective order, Mr. Paterson spoke to her on the phone. She did not show up for the hearing the next day, and the judge dismissed the case.
"Domestic-violence experts and advocates said it was inappropriate for the governor, the most powerful state official and a close friend of Mr. Johnson‚Äôs, to have any contact with her."
- Dr. Boyce Watkins, theGrio.com: Paterson's downfall shouldn't eclipse his remarkable rise
Employees from most of the Honolulu Advertiser's departments crowded into the newsroom to hear Thursday's announcement. (Credit: Deborah Booker/Honolulu Advertiser)
Honolulu Star-Bulletin Buys Rival, the Advertiser"The parent company of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on Thursday announced it was purchasing longtime rival The Honolulu Advertiser, the largest newspaper in Hawaii," Jaymes Song reported Friday for the Associated Press.
"Oahu Publications Inc. said it will acquire the Advertiser, its Web site, non-daily publications and an interest in Hawaii.com from Gannett Co. The Advertiser, one of Gannett's larger newspapers with a daily circulation of 130,000, was founded in 1856 and purchased by Gannett in 1993.
". . . Under antitrust laws, the Star-Bulletin will be put up for sale. If no one buys the paper, it will be consolidated with the Advertiser, Star-Bulletin publisher Dennis Francis said.
"It hasn't been decided what the name of the combined paper would have. Francis said there would be some layoffs if the papers were combined. The company hasn't decided on how many would be laid off or where the layoffs would come from, he said.
" 'We cannot keep both staffs intact as they are, but we haven't determined what that number is yet,' " Francis said.
"Employees of both newspapers were notified in separate staff meetings. Both newsrooms were stunned the announcement.
" 'I think people were surprised and still waiting for the shock to wear off,' Advertiser Editor Mark Platte said.
"Advertiser reporter Suzanne Roig, president of the Hawaii Newspaper Guild, said it was 'a very sad day to be a journalist in Hawaii.'
"'There are many unknowns right now. We are still in shock,' Roig said in a story on the paper's Web site. 'I am sure that many Advertiser employees will be going home tonight and taking stock of their finances and looking at what their options are.' "
- Dan Nakaso, Honolulu Advertiser: News left workers shocked, confused
Sports Editor Leon Carter Leaving N.Y. News for ESPNLeon Carter, sports editor at the New York Daily News for the last 10 years, is leaving the paper "for a job at a new ESPN Web site," the Daily News reported Friday.
Carter's departure leaves Garry Howard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, this year's president of the Associated Press Sports Editors, as the only African American sports editor at a major U.S. newspaper, Carter said.
"Teri Thompson, who headed the paper's sports I-team, was promoted yesterday to managing editor for sports," the News announced Friday. The story called Thompson one of the nation's first female sportswriters.
Carter told Journal-isms on Friday, his last day, that ESPN would have to announce his new job, but that he would remain in New York. "It's been the best 16 years of my life. It's been great working for Martin Dunn," the News editor, who was "a big supporter of the Sports Department."
The sports site thebiglead.com wrote, "ESPNNewYork.com: We hear that sports editor Leon Carter has left the New York Daily News to take the top job at the impending ESPNNewyork.com. Now here's where it gets interesting ‚Äî apparently Carter will be overseeing the New York branch and the Philadelphia and Washington DC versions, and his title will be something along the lines of 'VP of East Coast Operations.'"
Carolyn Braff, managing editor of the Web site Sports Video Group, wrote in July, "In three short months, ESPN has received enough positive feedback from its hyper-local ESPNChicago.com initiative to launch three more city-specific sports sites. ESPNDallas.com will roll out this fall, followed by ESPNNewYork.com and ESPN LosAngeles.com in the first half of 2010."
Last summer, Carter and ESPN editor Sandy Rosenbush received the annual Legacy Award from the National Association of Black Journalists for their work with the Sports Journalism Institute, an intensive nine-week training and internship program held every summer since 1993, as the News reported."Leon and Sandy sacrificed their personal time, vacation time and they put the careers of others ahead of their own because they saw a need," NABJ President Barbara Ciara said at the time. "No one asked them to do this, but they put their money where their mouths are to protect the integrity of newsrooms and bring up a new generation of sports journalists."
Blacks Not Feeling Olympics, Latinos Savor Choices"A number of shows fell to series lows against the Olympics last week, including 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Desperate Housewives' and 'American Idol.' But Spanish-language programs have done pretty well against the Games," Toni Fitzgerald reported Wednesday for medialifemagazine.com.
Still, Hispanic viewers collectively placed all seven nights of the Winter Olympics among their top 10 shows for the week ending Feb. 21, according to the Nielsen Co.
But only one of those nights ‚Äî Wednesday's ‚Äî ranked in the top 25 choices made by African Americans, according to Nielsen's People Meters.
For all viewers, these were the top five English-language shows: 1. NBC‚Äôs "Winter Olympics Wednesday." 2. NBC‚Äôs "Winter Olympics Saturday."¬† 3. NBC‚Äôs "Winter Olympics Monday." 4. NBC‚Äôs "Winter Olympics Thursday" and, 5. Fox‚Äôs "American Idol ‚Äì Tuesday,‚Äù medialifemagazine.com reported.
Among African Americans, according to figures provided by Nielsen to Journal-isms,¬† the top 10 were "American Idol" for Tuesday (Fox); 2. "American Idol" for Wednesday (Fox); 3. "NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS); 4. "The Good Wife" (CBS); 5. "CSI: Miami" (CBS); 6. "Grey's Anatomy" for Thursday (ABC); 7. "NCIS (CBS); 8. "Undercover Boss" (CBS); 9. "Cold Case" (CBS); and 10. "60 Minutes" (CBS).
The only mention of the Winter Olympics was the 18th ranking for the week that it earned on Wednesday.
Among Hispanics, the top 10 were "American Idol" for Tuesday on Fox; 2. Winter Olympics on Wednesday; 3. "American Idol" for Wednesday on Fox; followed by the Winter Olympics on Thursday, Monday, Saturday, Tuesday, Friday and Sunday; and 10. "Desperate Housewives."
In addition, "Univision had two big nights last week in which it placed second and third among all broadcasters in adults 18-34, while Telemundo aired the second-most-watched show in network history in the 8 p.m. hour," Fitzgerald wrote.
"Quite simply, Univision and Telemundo scheduled smartly, taking chances on event programming opposite the Olympics that would have drawn good numbers no matter when they aired."
- Michel Martin, "Tell Me More," National Public Radio: Shani Davis Talks Olympic Victory, Blackness
- Pew Center for the People and the Press: Winter Olympics Tops Public's News Interests
Ga. Editor Ben Holden Named to Academic PostBen Holden, vice president and executive editor of the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer, has been named director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for the Courts and Media, a part of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada that examines the tension between courts and the media, the school announced on Friday.
Holden, a lawyer as well as a journalist, said he was recruited by a former Knight Ridder colleague, Jerry Ceppos, dean of the school, who acted on a suggestion from Bryan Monroe, who worked as assistant to Ceppos when Ceppos was vice president for news at Knight Ridder. The Ledger-Enquirer was sold to McClatchy after Knight Ridder went out of business in 2006.
"It would be a mistake for any of my friends and colleagues to read this as giving up on newspapers," Holden, 46, told Journal-isms. "It has not been a fun 2009, compared to 1981, when I was a summer intern at the Post-Dispatch in St. Louis and the world was my oyster, but there are some signs, at least within McClatchy, that things have stabilized. We are holding our own and making strides.
"I'm not running from something, I'm going to something."
The Reynolds Center was inspired by the conflicts between the media and the courts in the O.J. Simpson criminal trial of 1995, Holden said. Today it examines such issues as the place of social media and cameras in courtrooms.
"To date," Holden said in a statement, ''no clear voice has emerged on the American policy landscape to articulate the proper balance between our constitutional guarantees to open courts on the one hand and fair criminal trials on the other. This center can become that voice."
Holden, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has been executive editor of the Ledger-Enquirer for 5¬? years. Earlier, he was deputy managing editor of the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., and senior editor for business and sports at the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal, both Gannett newspapers. Prior to Gannett, Holden was assistant to the president of the McClatchy Co., a bio said.
- Michael Owen, Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer: Ledger-Enquirer editor Ben Holden leaving for national courts, media position
College, Paper Partner to Report on Liberty City"News accounts about the Liberty City community, one of South Florida‚Äôs largest historically black communities, have long zeroed in on its most negative aspects, spotlighting it as a notoriously dangerous section in the shadows of the glitz of Miami Beach," Juliana Accioly wrote Friday for the South Florida Times, the African American-oriented weekly.
"But the colorful murals of black heroes on Liberty City‚Äôs buildings stand for the spirit of what is, in fact, a thriving community.
"To improve the scope of media coverage of the area, the South Florida Times has partnered with Florida International University‚Äôs School of Journalism in a project called Liberty City Link.
". . . Led by Neil Reisner, a veteran journalist and FIU professor, student reporters are working on stories that shed light on basic facts and what highlights the area‚Äôs development.
" 'Liberty City is no different than any other neighborhoods in that its residents are doing the best they can to get by,' said Reisner, a nationally known journalism trainer who has 30 years of experience at newspapers, including stints at The Miami Herald and the Daily Business Review, as well as other newspapers. "We want to give Liberty City a new voice."
"To extend its reach in the community, the South Florida Times will dedicate at least one new page of its print version to the content, and the link will have a special section on the newspaper‚Äôs website. The project will be unveiled in the March 12 edition of the newspaper and its website, SFLTimes.com, as well as FIU‚Äôs website.
"Reisner‚Äôs group of 17 student reporters, of whom only one is African-American, said they are thrilled about the real-world experience."
Middle Class Narrowing Overall Digital Divide"Middle and upper class African Americans and Hispanics are rapidly adopting broadband and are greatly narrowing the overall digital divide [PDF], according to a new study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a research and policy institution that focuses on minority concerns and issues," the Joint Center announced on Thursday.
"The study found that 94 percent of African Americans and 98 percent of Hispanics who have college degrees are now online, and that college-educated minority Americans who make over $50,000 are adopting broadband at the fastest rate of any group in the country.
"Across all education and income brackets, the report says that 69 percent of African Americans and 58 percent of Hispanics now regularly use the Internet, compared with 79 percent of whites, and that the rate of broadband adoption in African American homes has risen to 59 percent from the 46 percent reported by the Pew Research Center‚Äôs Internet and American Life Project just last year."
Dick Bogle, Oregon's First Black TV Journalist, Dies
Dick Bogle, left, Oregon‚Äôs first black TV journalist, died Thursday at 79. (Vancouver Columbian)
- "Veteran Chicago newsman Derrick Blakley is being treated for bone marrow cancer, but hopes to be back on the job at WBBM-Channel 2 while he awaits a stem cell transplant," Chicago television writer Robert Feder reported Thursday on his blog. "Blakley, 56, had surgery earlier this month to repair damage in his right leg bone and currently is undergoing rehabilitation. He previously had been seen around the CBS-owned station using a cane, which he explained was to guard against falls that could break the bone."
- Gerald M. Boyd's posthumous memoir of his career at the New York Times is excerpted in the first print edition of Editor & Publisher under its new owner, Duncan McIntosh. In addition to the excerpt from Boyd, who was the Times' first and only African American managing editor, the February issue, now being mailed to subscribers, features a question and answer with John Paton, founder of the Spanish-language newspaper and multimedia company ImpreMedia. He is the new CEO of Journal Register Co. "In the excerpt, Boyd recounts the 'dark underside' of race relations and tangled politics in the newspaper's newsroom and executive suites," an announcement says.
- Joy Sutton, the health reporter for WDBJ-TV, is leaving the station to become a spokeswoman for HCA Southwest Virginia Sarah Bruyn Jones wrote Thursday for the Roanoke (Va.) Times. "Sutton began her career 11 years ago at CBS affiliate WDBJ as an intern. She will begin her new role as the marketing and communications manager for the health care system, which includes Lewis-Gale Medical Center, March 29. Her last day on the television news station will be March 13."
- "Rod Carter is leaving Birmingham's NBC-13 (WVTM-TV) for the second time and returning to Tampa to be the morning anchor at the NBC affiliate where he worked before. Carter's last day on the air here will be Friday, March 5." Bob Carlton reported Friday for the Birmingham (Ala.) News.
- "Dick Bogle, Oregon‚Äôs first black TV journalist, former Portland City Commissioner and Clark County resident, died Thursday morning of congestive heart failure," Marissa Harshman reported Thursday in the Vancouver (Wash.) Columbian. "In 1968, Bogle launched a 15-year career as a reporter and news anchor at KATU News. He then went on to become Portland‚Äôs second black city commissioner, serving from 1985 to 1993. He also worked as a policeman for the Portland Police Bureau prior to his career in TV news."
- Rashod D. Ollison, pop music writer at the Baltimore Sun who was among 61 newsroom employees laid off there last April, has landed at the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., as an entertainment writer. "I'll still maintain my music column in the relaunched Jet magazine. (The debut column comes out March 8)," Ollison told Journal-isms on Friday.
- The USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the National Endowment for the Arts are accepting applications for the sixth annual Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater, which takes place May 17-27. The institute is an 11-day intensive workshop in theater and musical theater for critics, reporters, editors, and broadcast and online producers from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The application deadline is March 11 [PDF], the school said.
Comment on "'Meet the Press' Pledges More Diversity"
This lack of diversity on regular shows is uniquely ironic to African-American reporters of this so-called "Obama age." African-Americans are no longer attending the White House briefing with any regularity. The cutbacks in corporate media spending have hurt all news outlets, but as usual, black-owned organizations suffer more with less funding.
The bookers at major network news are not interested in providing a platform for black White House correspondents. For example, Cynthia Gordy covers the White House for Essence magazine. She stands out at the briefing with her braided hair, but there is a marked indifference by the networks to investigate her opinions on the Obama White House, economy and healthcare. These television news analyst appearances are largely dominated by the likes of Mother Jones magazine White House correspondent David Corn, the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet, NBC's Chuck Todd and the Washington Post's Anne Kornblut. Absent¬† Eugene Robinson ¬†and Jonathan Capehart of the , you would be hard-pressed to see other African-American journalists. April Ryan of American Urban Radio is the only recent face of color from the to make network appearances. ¬†I have not seen Washington Post White House correspondent Michael Fletcher on network television since Obama became president.
The standard stereotypical ideas of blacks in sports simply overrides the concept that people like Gordy or even Ebony's White House correspondent Kevin Chappell could be more intellectual than Corn's eccentric world. ¬†Worse, the networks sometimes pick black commentators who do not share the perspective of mainstream African-American viewers.
Nia-Malika Henderson of POLITICO.COM was recently on CNN to discuss race and she questioned the need for . It was frightening to watch an African-American reporter posing such a question/comment on live national television. MSNBC recently dug up disgraced columnist Armstrong Williams to discuss the Tiger Woods scandal. It was a dual mistake. First, Williams had been effectively removed from television when he was paid $241,000 from the Bush Administration for promoting No Child Left Behind. Secondly, Armstrong‚Äôs recent appearance was a way for MSNBC to highlight unethical behavior in black journalism. Putting Chappell or Gordy on the same program would simply refute that. The subliminal message is "don‚Äôt believe black commentators cause we know what they do."
I knew Jeff Zucker in 1995-1996 while working at WHDH 7 NEWS, an NBC Boston affiliate. Every weekday morning, I would call Jeff with our anchors' names for the taped cut-in for the TODAY Morning Show. ¬†Zucker was the executive producer of the show. In 2008, I tried and failed to reach him as president of NBC, weeks before I started covering the White House for Atlanta-based PoliticsinColor.com. For years of hard work at three different NBC stations as an African-American journalist, I only saw doors of promotion closing.
Zucker‚Äôs behavior was consistent with the NBC diversity challenges I witnessed.¬†It should not have surprised me, despite our months of conversations during the morning shows. If Jeff could not return my calls, e-mails or respond to my letter in the mail, then his pledge of diversity on Meet the Press is empty, in my opinion. So hearing this NBC statement on diversity brought back old memories, and I only remember mine. ¬†
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