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Black Network Plans 5 Hours of News

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Soul of the South Releases Promotional Video

U.S. Prosecutors to Investigate "Leaks" to N.Y. Times

"A Disappearing Daily Ritual for Many"

Online Diversity Issues Mirror Those in Legacy Media

Op-Ed Print Editors Can Counter Poor Web Editing

N.Y. Daily News Confuses Cuban Flag for Puerto Rico's

Celtics-Heat Game 6 Gives ESPN a Ratings Spike

Now They're Heading for Internships

Short Takes

Roy Hobbs says of the Soul of the South network, "I'm thrilled that somebody looks at the needs of our community besides just entertainment." (Video)

Soul of the South Releases Promotional Video

A new African American-oriented television network has posted a video preview of its plans for an unprecedented five hours of daily news programming, which the network's primary creator, Edwin Avent, said he hopes to have on the air on Labor Day weekend.

Avent, former publisher of Heart & Soul magazine, told Journal-isms on Friday that as of this week, Soul of the South will be in 25 markets and that he hopes to reach 55 markets by year's end. The largest markets include Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta. The network will be broadcast-based, but will also be picked up by some cable networks.

The only journalist named in the video is Roy Hobbs, a veteran journalist and Tom Jacobsa former weekend television anchor in Birmingham, Ala., but the news director is said to be Tom Jacobs, a veteran broadcaster based in Cleveland. Matthew L. Mixon, a Los Angeles-based producer who has a background in sales, programming and production, is said to have a programming role.

The video promises a daily hourlong evening newscast, a two-hour morning news show,  "Morning Call," and "Capital Eye," a nightly half-hour program "from each of our Southern capitals," based at WHUT-TV at Howard University.

Hobbs' involvement with the network represents a personal milestone. He was busted on drug charges in April 2010. Although he was never convicted, his name was splashed across local news media. "I was trying to commit suicide," Hobbs told Journal-isms later. Hobbs entered a recovery program and hoped he would not be blacklisted in the television industry.

"I haven't worked in two years," Hobbs said by telephone Friday. "I was mopping floors for $8 an hour with no benefits, just so I could buy food and keep the lights on. But my faith is strong, and I know that if I keep doing the right thing, the universe has a way of balancing things out.

"If I was a white guy, I'd be working," he added, pointing to the case of veteran Chicago anchorman Mark Suppelsa. On May 4, Suppelsa surprised friends and colleagues with the announcement that he was entering an alcohol recovery program, and was to return Thursday to the 5 and 9 p.m. newscasts he anchors for WGN-TV, as Robert Feder reported Wednesday for his Time Out blog.

"The great thing is, finally we can look out for ourselves," Hobbs said of the new network. "There's so much I can do for communities across the country because I have been there," he said. "I can give back.

"I'm thrilled that somebody looks at the needs of our community besides just entertainment. The local news doesn't do it. The national news doesn't. The cable news doesn't. The numbers of black reporters has shrunk. . . . It's sad that we haven't had the opportunities that other groups have had," mentioning networks that broadcast news to immigrants.

"When we look at the news director that we have, Tom Jacobs, we will put on a product that we not only can be proud of, but will show ourselves in a way that will help educate us, provide information for us. He will do what hasn't been done before."

While others have announced new African American-oriented television networks, such as Bounce TV or "Earvin 'Magic' Johnson's ASPiRE, which was scheduled to launch this month, none has emphasized news.

U.S. Prosecutors to Investigate "Leaks" to N.Y. Times

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday night appointed two top prosecutors to lead a probe into recent leaks about classified national-security operations, Evan Perez reported Friday for the Wall Street Journal, as Dean Baquet, managing editor of the New York Times, defended his paper's national security coverage.

Dean Baquet"Ronald Machen, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Rod Rosenstein, U.S. attorney for Maryland, will head the probe, Mr. Holder said Friday," according to Perez's story.

Baquet said Thursday in an interview with Michael Calderone of the Huffington Post, "Both the rise and use of drones, and the increased use of cyberwarfare, are the kinds of issues that we have a public service mission to surface so they can be part of a national debate.

"That's our job," Baquet said. "That's our primary job, to report things that should be part of the national discussion."

Calderone's story continued, "The controversy stems from two front-page Times stories last week.

"On May 29, reporters Jo Becker and Scott Shane wrote a 6,000-word piece delving into [President] Obama's hands-on role in counterterrorism operations, which was based on conversations with three dozen advisers and included details such as the existence of a set of 'baseball cards' containing information about suspected terrorists.

"Three days later, the paper ran a piece by David Sanger about how Obama had stepped up cyberattacks on Iran, an excerpt from his new book, 'Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power.'

" 'I reject the notion that they were leaks,' Baquet said, arguing that 'leaks' come with 'the implication they were access journalism and someone in the White House called up and said, "Let me give you something that makes the president look good."

"[Baquet] said that Sanger's piece 'had been in the works for 18 months,' while the Shane/Becker piece was reported over several months."

Sanger echoed Baquet's position Friday on "The Diane Rehm Show" on Washington's WAMU-FM, which is transmitted to other NPR stations.

"Lawmakers of both parties held a news conference Thursday calling for legislation to restrict the flow of leaks," Perez reported.

Gail Brooks takes in the day's news while Wilbert

"A Disappearing Daily Ritual for Many"

"With The Times-Picayune set to reduce its print schedule to three days a week, The Lens took a look at readers' rituals on Monday and Tuesday, two of the days that the paper will drop sometime in the fall," Bevil Knapp wrote in the Lens, which describes itself as "the New Orleans area's first nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest newsroom, dedicated to unique in-depth reporting projects, as well as exclusive daily stories."

"Photographer Bevil Knapp set out across the metro area this week and provides this photo essay of scenes that will soon be a thing of the past early in the week." The photo essay was titled, "A look at a disappearing daily ritual for many."

Online Diversity Issues Mirror Those in Legacy Media

How does the online world stack up against traditional media in racial and gender diversity?

"One yearlong look at the home pages of popular sites Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, Slate and Salon (Nieman Reports, Fall/11) described a dispiritingly familiar world in which African-Americans are usually celebrities or athletes, Latinos appear primarily in sporadic immigration stories, and Native Americans and Asian-Americans go missing," Janine Jackson reported for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting.

". . . without explicit recognition of how sponsors and owners narrow the range of acceptable content (in ways and for reasons that can, in fact, be racist), and without honest reckoning with the differing definitions we all carry about what news matters, covering 'stories of importance' to underrepresented communities will remain an 'on paper' priority."

Jackson questioned special sites dedicated to people of color. "Even done well, the 'special section' model invites questions. Are they places for those generally marginalized to speak authentically, without filter? Or do they unnaturally barricade perspectives, like the Women's Pages of old, with their implication that the rest of the paper, the 'real' news, concerns only men? . . .

"The answer might be that spaces created by and for people of color, or women, or any community can be a vital part of a healthy, varied media landscape, but are not a substitute for forums where these perspectives intersect and interact, as they do in life. . . . most people don't want to talk only to themselves, or to never be challenged. They do want to participate in arenas where they, and the issues they care about, are respected, not devalued or erased."

Op-Ed Print Editors Can Counter Poor Web Editing

". . . The Internet is filled with poorly edited opinion pieces by writers who are burning to express themselves and are not going away," this columnist wrote Friday for the Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly the National Conference of Editorial Writers.

"When the Columbia Journalism Review recently asked about demographic diversity on op-ed pages for a late May article, I thought not only about op-ed pages, but about young writers on the Internet. The two need each other.

". . . It's sometimes said that news organizations had more of an opportunity to diversify when the economy was stronger and newspapers weren't competing with more modern technologies. These days, 'doing more with less' seems to be the rule.

"AOJ can do the next best thing, however: It can give the gift of editing.

". . . We might not be able to hire, but there are other ways to make our products more inclusive. Let's think about what we can do with freelancers.

"And let's give the gift of editing!"

N.Y. Daily News Confuses Cuban Flag for Puerto Rico's

"Employees of The Daily News apparently could use a brush-up on world flags," Christine Haughney reported Thursday for the New York Times.

"In Thursday's paper, the newspaper, which is a sponsor of this 'That is one big oops'weekend's Puerto Rican Day Parade, published an ad promoting the parade that shows the New York Giants football player Victor Cruz smiling and standing underneath the Cuban flag.

" 'Talk about an oops. That is one big oops,' wrote the Web site Latino Rebels. 'We just called the newspaper and they told us that they will be printing a correction tomorrow, but that no statement has been issued.'

"A spokesman for The Daily News issued an apology by Thursday afternoon.

" 'As the presenting media sponsor, the Daily News apologizes to the Puerto Rican, Cuban and other Latino communities as well as parade sponsors who were offended by our honest mistake,' the spokesman said. 'It will be rectified in tomorrow’s paper.' "

The outcomes during the Eastern Conference finals have stumped at least one commentator, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, right. (Video)

Celtics-Heat Game 6 Gives ESPN a Ratings Spike

"The nail-biting Eastern Conference Finals battle between Boston and Miami has earned ESPN an 8.2 overnight rating for Game 6," Sports Media Watch reported Friday.

"That's a 49 percent increase from the Magic-Celtics Game six in 2010."

The series stumped at least one commentator. ESPN Boston reported, "After flip-flopping between writing the Celtics off (before the conference finals) and then conversely [calling] the series 'over' for Miami prior to Game 6, ESPN NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith has officially thrown his hands in the air when asked for his prediction for Saturday night's Game 7.

" 'I'm taking the fifth,' Smith says in the SportsCenter video above. 'I've been wrong this entire series. I have nothing to say, I plead the fifth. I don't know what they're going to do, I just know I'll be there.' "

Graduates of the Sports Journalism Institute go to member newspapers of the Ass

Now They're Heading for Internships

The Sports Journalism Institute graduated its 20th class Friday in Columbia, Mo. A group of seven men and four women (seven African Americans, two Asian Americans and two Latinos) were in residence at the University of Missouri School of Journalism from June 1 to 9, after which students move on to internships around the country. They are placed at Associated Press Sports Editors member newspapers,, and the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, 12 students, including 11 of color, were to graduate Saturday from the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute's 11-day Multimedia Scholars Program. Schools represented in the program at the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University are Bennett, Grambling, Hampton, Howard, Louisiana Tech, Michigan State, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, Northern Alabama, Northwest Missouri State and Xavier (La.). Eleven of the 12 are to intern for eight weeks at six newspapers owned by Schurz Communications Inc.

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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