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NABJ Executive Director Resigns

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Interim Successor Led Medical Association, Alpha Phi Alpha

Black Media Outlets Petition for Share of Anti-Tobacco Ads

Essayists Took Notes at Star-Studded Baraka Funeral

Obama Concedes Some Don't Like Idea of a Black President

ImpreMedia Weekly in Orlando Lays Off Editorial Staff

Black Students Suspended Over Gestures in "Goofy" Photo

Aristide Supporters Charged in 2000 Killing of Journalist

Short Takes


Maurice Foster, executive director  and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Interim Successor Led Medical Association, Alpha Phi Alpha

Maurice Foster, executive director of the National Association of Black Journalists, has resigned after three years in the job, NABJ President Bob Butler announced on Monday, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Darryl MatthewsFoster, who had been under criticism by a group of NABJ members who made him a campaign issue, said "he's tired and so . . . he resigned," Butler told Journal-isms by telephone.

Foster, 54, told the board of directors of his decision on Friday during a board executive session, but the board delayed a public announcement until Monday by mutual agreement, Butler said.

Foster and board members were tight-lipped about what took place, but board members could be seen giving Foster a standing ovation during the closed executive session. Still, all acted as though nothing had changed. "It's probably less interesting than it looks," one board member told Journal-isms.

Foster could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday, but during the two-day board meeting he defended his record from a group of influential NABJ members, including former presidents, who had criticized handling of the association's finances. Butler took the unusual step of praising Foster and presenting him with an award during the annual Hall of Fame induction gala Thursday night at the Newseum. In return, Foster praised board members.

Butler said in his announcement, "The Board's executive committee will begin a search for a new executive director. In the meantime, Darryl R. Matthews, Sr. has accepted an appointment as NABJ's interim executive director. Darryl is an experienced association executive, who most recently served as executive director of the National Medical Association. . . ." Matthews was the 32nd general president of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, serving from 2005 to 2008. King is the Alphas' most famous member.

Foster, left, and Butler at the Hall of Fame gala. (Credit: Jason Miccolo Johnso

With 3,117 members, NABJ is the nation's largest association of journalists of color, and its convention outdraws those of such majority-white organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists.

Foster was hired in 2010 after his predecessor, Karen Wynn Freeman, resigned after a vote of no-confidence by the board, which was seeing the organization through a recession. NABJ had encountered higher expenses than projected at its summer convention and was reducing staff, imposing furloughs and asking members for one-time, tax-deductible donations. Freeman had arrived three years earlier in the wake of another financial crisis.

Under Foster, who had been deputy executive director of the National Bar Association for seven years, finances again proved to be the most important part of the job.

Butler said in the news release, "His guidance has been invaluable to the organization, helping NABJ regain financial stability, generate record-high annual convention revenues and expand programming for members.

"Maurice used his experience as an association leader to produce significant cost savings. He reduced expenses without compromising services or passing on higher fees to members. In 2013, for example, every program or event yielded a profit, while spending declined. NABJ ended the year with a surplus of $228,000, more than $200,000 above our projection."

The most recent NABJ election pitted Butler and other incumbents who supported Foster against outgoing President Gregory H. Lee Jr. and challengers who said the association was headed in the wrong direction with Foster as executive director.

Among those detractors was NABJ's Finance Committee, chaired by former NABJ President Condace Pressley, which said NABJ "is headed for possibly a $300,000 deficit in 2013 unless major steps are taken to eliminate the threat."

Those detractors set up a website, Butler, Foster and NABJ Treasurer Keith Reed said the Finance Committee and the website were putting out false information, and Butler replaced the committee members when he became president.

On Saturday, Drew Berry, who helped to create the website, told the board that it had done exactly what his group had recommended and "I applaud you for that." Berry, a former television general manager and news director who is a past chairman of NABJ's Finance Committee and former NABJ interim executive director, congratulated Foster.

Foster, however, said that the group had hurt NABJ fundraising efforts with sponsors and that the steps he took were not the result of the Finance Committee's recommendations. "It's impossible to turn that kind of pattern around in six months," he said, adding that the groundwork had already been laid for the turnaround.

Foster's contract expired on Nov. 15, but he remained in the job and was said since then to be "in talks" with the board.

Under the headline, "Good News Ahead?" Monday night wished Foster well, maintained that "the big picture shows profits have been dramatically down and overall expenses have escalated," and said, "We are hopeful the new interim ED, Darryl Matthews, Sr., has a laser focus on revenue and expenses to protect and expand valuable programming offerings for the membership."

Butler said Matthews would begin immediately and had attended the Hall of Fame gala.

Matthews expanded on his credentials in his LinkedIn profile:

"As a Partnership Specialist in the Atlanta region for the 2010 Decennial Census, I served as the Associate Road Tour producer for the awareness building campaign.

"I formerly served as the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the National Association of Black Accountants, Inc. (NABA) headquartered in Greenbelt, Maryland where we achieved [its] most profitable years, coupled with remarkable growth.

"Previously, I served as an Independent Consultant for the White House Presidential Advance Staff, coordinating various sites for functions attended by the President of the United States and his senior staff.

"Preceding that assignment, I was the Executive Director of the century old Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity founded for African Americans and blacks, where I helped engineer the passage of Fraternity-sponsored legislation to construct a Memorial on the Federal Mall in Washington, D.C., for Dr. Martin Luther King. The King Bill, signed by President Clinton in 1996, granted the Fraternity the right to erect the memorial.

"I served as Vice-Chairman of the board and as a member of the audit committee for the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Foundation Project, Inc. The memorial was completed and dedicated in the fall of 2011. . . ."

Black Media Outlets Petition for Share of Anti-Tobacco Ads

The National Newspaper Publishers Association and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters on Friday asked the U.S. District Court in Washington to order tobacco companies to include black-owned newspapers and broadcast properties as venues for their anti-smoking ads, Target Market News reported on Monday.

"A ruling in 2012 in the U.S. Justice Department's 15-year-old case against the nation's leading tobacco producers required the companies to run 'corrective statements' about the harmful effects of their products. On January 10 when the U.S. Department of Justice filed an agreement on the details of those statements, Target Market News disclosed that the list (originally filed in 2006) of where those ads would appear did not include any African-American media outlets. . . ."

John Eggerton reported Jan. 13 for Broadcasting & Cable, "Each of the four tobacco companies will have to buy ads on one of the Big Three networks (Fox was not included in the mandatory TV placements) five times per week between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., which means another 20 spots per week coming their way in prime time.

"No word on why neither Fox nor national cable networks were not included as options, though it could be that those were the networks that carried the original tobacco ads since Fox was not around and cable nets were not a force when the ads went off the air in 1971.

"No minority-targeted media are part of the TV buy either, which did not sit well with the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council. 'It's surprising that DOJ forgot to include minority owned media in this major advertising buy attendant to the tobacco litigation,' said MMTC President David Honig. 'DOJ should ask the judge to revise the order to correct this extraordinary omission.

"The omission did not sit well with the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters . . . "

Nello Ramsey of East Orange, N.J., holds a sign outside the funeral for Amiri Ba

Essayists Took Notes at Star-Studded Baraka Funeral

"Newark Symphony Hall in New Jersey turned into a space of mournful celebration on Saturday for Amiri Baraka, the poet, activist and playwright," Peniel E. Joseph, a scholar of the black power movement and history professor at Tufts University, wrote Saturday for The Root. "In many ways the event represented at once a moratorium and requiem for the Black Arts Movement.

"Actor Danny Glover and professors Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson headlined a star-studded lineup that included poets, politicians and civil rights leaders. Their presence simultaneously acknowledged both Baraka's individual humanity and served as a testament to a movement that culled beauty for the extraordinary pain wrought by racial slavery and oppression.

"This was, in many respects, a celebration, a brother's homecoming and a community-wide appreciation rolled into one."

Also present to record the event were Jelani Cobb, who was writing for the New Republic, and Janell Ross, a freelance writer who filed for the Atlantic.

"As I watched artists, activists, public intellectuals, and dignitaries from around the world converge on Newark this weekend for the funeral of poet and playwright Amiri Baraka, I was reminded just how much Baraka's other life, that of an urban activist and advocate for the not-at-all-powerful, still offers instruction and inspiration to young, frustrated urban activists engaged in their own Sisyphean fights," Ross wrote.

Cobb told Journal-isms by email, "I wrote a piece for TNR about the funeral in the context of Newark's racial history, the transition to black mayorships that Baraka was essential to and the current political moment in the city. Basically Newark's past and present through the lens of the funeral." Cobb, who writes frequently for the New Yorker, is associate professor of history and director of the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Connecticut.

Joseph added in his piece, "A jazz band provided a soundtrack to the early part of the service, a fitting accompaniment for the author of the indispensable history Blues People. Both Newark Police and the Fruit of Islam were on hand for security, a tribute to Baraka's uncanny knack for garnering the attention of governments and grassroots representatives.

"It was a ceremony befitting familial royalty. Baraka's life and death, in many instances, illustrated novel points of convergence from a racially divided America. Both blacks and whites agreed that Baraka was an important artist, but they remained divided over his ultimate significance and legacy. Whereas whites were often mystified by his various ideological transformations, the black community embraced him as their own irascible genius, a fearless avatar of a new and bold reimagining of blackness that sought to do nothing less than shake off slavery's residual psychic scars. Still, despite the roiling controversy that surrounded his life, 'the world came out to pay their respects' to Baraka, observed former Newark Mayor Sharpe James. . . ."

President Obama checks in on first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and M

Obama Concedes Some Don't Like Idea of a Black President

"President Obama sat for lengthy interviews with New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick, who has written a nearly 17,000-word profile of the president as he begins his sixth year in office," Zachary Goldfarb wrote Sunday for the Washington Post. "Remnick interviewed Obama for hours in the Oval Office and on Air Force One late last year and earlier this month. The story is a great long-read, and you should get a cup of your favorite hot beverage and sit down with it for an hour. . . ."

On MSNBC's "The Cycle" on Monday, on-air analyst Perry Bacon Jr. said of the Obama interview, "He very frankly acknowledged, for the first time ever, I think, that some opposition to him is driven by race. He basically said that, 'Some people don't like me because I'm black, which he usually tries to avoid.

"I think that does tell you he doesn't view — he is not going to unify the country the way he talked about in 2004. I think he knows that now."

Remnick wrote this passage:

"Obama's election was one of the great markers in the black freedom struggle. In the electoral realm, ironically, the country may be more racially divided than it has been in a generation. Obama lost among white voters in 2012 by a margin greater than any victor in American history. The popular opposition to the Administration comes largely from older whites who feel threatened, underemployed, overlooked, and disdained in a globalized economy and in an increasingly diverse country.

"Obama's drop in the polls in 2013 was especially grave among white voters. 'There's no doubt that there's some folks who just really dislike me because they don't like the idea of a black President,' Obama said. 'Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.' The latter group has been less in evidence of late.

" 'There is a historic connection between some of the arguments that we have politically and the history of race in our country, and sometimes it's hard to disentangle those issues,' he went on. 'You can be somebody who, for very legitimate reasons, worries about the power of the federal government — that it's distant, that it's bureaucratic, that it's not accountable — and as a consequence you think that more power should reside in the hands of state governments. But what's also true, obviously, is that philosophy is wrapped up in the history of states' rights in the context of the civil-rights movement and the Civil War and [slavery defender John C.] Calhoun. There's a pretty long history there.

"And so I think it's important for progressives not to dismiss out of hand arguments against my Presidency or the Democratic Party or Bill Clinton or anybody just because there's some overlap between those criticisms and the criticisms that traditionally were directed against those who were trying to bring about greater equality for African-Americans. The flip side is I think it's important for conservatives to recognize and answer some of the problems that are posed by that history, so that they understand if I am concerned about leaving it up to states to expand Medicaid that it may not simply be because I am this power-hungry guy in Washington who wants to crush states' rights but, rather, because we are one country and I think it is going to be important for the entire country to make sure that poor folks in Mississippi and not just Massachusetts are healthy. . . ."

The New Yorker issue appeared as the nation was celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

In Cleveland, anchor Leon Bibb of WEWS-TV told viewers, "I am a child of the Civil Rights Movement. Were it not for that movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, I would not be in a position I hold as a journalist in a major-market network-affiliated television news operation. Without a doubt. . . ."

ImpreMedia Weekly in Orlando Lays Off Editorial Staff

"The weekly La Prensa Orlando has laid off its entire editorial staff," WVEN-TV, a Univision station in Daytona Beach, Fla., reported on Wednesday, according to an English translation of a story on its website.

"Journalist Maria Padilla, who until now served as editor in chief of the publication, confirmed the news via telephone. 'Is a shame, they had all done a good job and won awards,' she said. She added that the parent company, ImpreMedia, has plans and strategies that are being launched. . . . Sources indicate that the press will continue to recruit the services of freelance journalists for future publications.

"The other two journalists who were laid off today are Migdalia Fernandez and Natalia Nevarez."

Jacquelynn Carrera, marketing and public relations manager for ImpreMedia, told Journal-isms by email Friday, "At this time we are not avail for comments / interviews regarding the topic."

ImpreMedia owns La Opinión and El Diario La Prensa, based in Los Angeles and New York, respectively. They are the biggest Spanish-language dailies in the United States.

Black Students Suspended Over Gestures in "Goofy" Photo

(Credit: Jim Romenesko)

"A Wisconsin school district said this week that it followed proper procedure when it suspended two African-American basketball players because they had made hand gestures that 'looked like' gang signs," David Edwards reported Thursday for

"On Jan. 1, the Sheboygan Falls News ran what they hoped would be a feel-good story about Jordan, Jamal and Juwaun Jackson moving to the district and playing basketball for Sheboygan Falls High School. The paper took several photos for the article, but decided to publish the 'goofy' photo of the boys joking around in Falcons' basketball uniforms.

"But the school suspended two of the brothers after [a] story ran in the sports section of the paper because parents suspected that the boys were making gang-related hand signs in the photo. The school even had the police department investigate. . . ."

Edwards also wrote, "In a Facebook post on Thursday, Sheboygan Falls News Editor Jeff Pederson explained that the story had 'veered wildly off the intended path.' "

Pederson told Jim Romenesko Monday for his media blog, "What has happened with what I still believe is a perfectly fine photo that fit well with the story is disgusting and will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am struggling to understand this entire situation, but I do know that I can't allow the people we photograph to be put up to this very serious level of scrutiny ever again. . . ."

The ACLU of Wisconsin said in a statement on Thursday that it would also be investigating the case.

Aristide Supporters Charged in 2000 Killing of Journalist

Jean Dominique (Credit:

"Nine people have been charged in the 2000 killing of one of Haiti's most renowned journalists, marking a major step forward in a high-profile case that has dragged on for years," Trenton Daniel reported Saturday from Port-au-Prince for the Associated Press.

"A judge’s report, read aloud in the Court of Appeal, alleged that former senator Mirlande Liberus Pavert was the intellectual author of the slaying of radio journalist Jean Dominique. Liberus Pavert was a member of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Family Lavalas party while she served as senator in the early 2000s.

"Also charged was Annette Auguste, a well-known folk singer otherwise known as So Anne. She was a Lavalas activist at that time.

"Gabriel Harold Severe, a former deputy mayor of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince; Franco Camille, a onetime powerful Lavalas activist; and Dimsley Milien, the alleged hit man, were also charged.

"None of them could be reached for comment. No arrests have been made.

"The appellate court must now either accept or reject the judge's report, which was submitted on Friday.

" 'I think it's a positive step to the extent that we've been working on this for almost 14 years,' Dominique's widow, Michele Montas, said by telephone from her home in New York. She declined to comment further because she hadn't seen the judge's findings.

"Dominique, an agronomist-turned-radio commentator, and his security guard were gunned down on April 3, 2000, in the courtyard of the journalist's radio station, Radio Haiti Inter. . . . "

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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