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New York Times Co. Starting "Black" Paper

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Action Mirrors Spinoffs That Target Hispanics

The New York Times Co. is starting a "black" newspaper in Gainesville, Fla., mirroring efforts by mainstream newspaper companies to target the Hispanic market by offering Latino products.

Signaling that such a move will not sit well with existing black newspapers, the chair of the organization representing the black press told Journal-isms today that such a product "will be seen as a black publication in whiteface."

The publisher of the oldest black newspaper in the area, Clara McLaughlin Criswell of the Florida Star, said "it made me angry" when she heard the news, and that she went to the parent paper to make her feelings known to its publisher and executive editor. "We'll get the readers and they'll get the ads, because they're a white company and they have a stronger base," she said.

The New York Times Co. paper is to be known as the Gainesville Guardian and is being coordinated by Charlotte Roy, a former managing editor of the Atlanta Daily World who has worked as a news or feature writer for the Detroit Free Press, the Capital Times in Madison, Wis., the old Wilmington Morning News in Delaware and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She also owned Roy Communications, an Atlanta-based marketing communications agency.

"I'm the luckiest person in the world," Roy told Journal-isms. "How often do you get a chance to start a new publication with the support of a major organization like the New York Times?"

The New York Times Regional Media Group publishes 15 newspapers in California and the South, including the Gainesville Sun in Florida, which claims a daily circulation of 47,100, with 52,500 on Sunday. Roy is working out of the Sun's offices.

As with Hispanic-owned publications whose owners resented the entry of white-owned companies into their territory, even when Latinos were made publishers or editors, black publishers do not seem likely to welcome a New York Times-owned paper into the fraternity.

Criswell said she went to see Gainesville Sun publisher James E. Doughton and executive editor Jim Osteen on May 10 and was not convinced that they understood the black community. "They're still going to go with it," she said of the project. To compete, "I've got to push harder."

"I understand this is a business decision," Sonny Messiah Jiles, who chairs the National Newspaper Publishers Association, told Journal-isms earlier today, going on to cite recent surveys showing a lack of progress in increasing the numbers of black journalists at mainstream newspapers.

"But at the same time, the general media needs to check itself. The first thing the community will ask is, 'what is your relationship to the community, based on those numbers?' I think that when they look in the mirror, the reflection they see is a negative reflection. They need to get their own house in order as they prepare to expand into new markets."

And while Black Entertainment Television has been sold to media giant Viacom, and Time Inc. recently bought Essence magazine, "it's a different animal when you get to news," said Jiles, speaking from her organization's annual convention, which started today in Chicago. News involves "intellectual capital." News consumers "have to feel that they can trust" what they read. "We know our markets better. We have a long history and a relationship. We're family," she said.

The New York Times Co. is not ready to announce its plans, Roy said. However, she is seeking a reporter, placing this notice with the National Association of Black Journalists:

"The Gainesville Guardian, the first New York Times-owned black newspaper, is hiring a general assignment reporter. Candidates with 2-3 years of news writing experience are encouraged to apply. The position pays between $27,000 - $30,000, the benefits are excellent and the chances to move up within the New York Times organization are great. Gainesville, home town of the University of Florida, is located between Jacksonville and Orlando, Fla. Please submit resumes to charlotte.roy@gvillesun.com."

Roy is one of the founders of the National Association of Black Journalists, about 20 of whom will be honored at the organization's 30th anniversary convention in Atlanta in August.

Ironically, the New York Times Co. prints the Florida Star, which is based in Jacksonville. Criswell she said she will keep that arrangement "unless I see a conflict or some other matter that would be detrimental to my publication."

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Black Publishers, T.D. Jakes Form Partnership

The organization of black publishers plans to announce that it has formed a relationship with megachurch Bishop T.D. Jakes, in which he will promote the black press as he speaks around the country and the black newspapers will run his column on "physical, emotional and mental healing" of the black community, the chair of the organization said today.

The evangelist runs The Potters House of Dallas, a nonprofit organization and a megachurch with more than 30,000 members.

In addition, said Sonny Messiah Jiles, who chairs the National Newspaper Publishers Association, NNPA plans to unveil an advertising campaign targeting both consumers and advertisers, developed by the Carol H. Williams advertising agency.

The convention, now taking place in Chicago, usually draws 500 to 700 people, Jiles said, but she said she had no count on how many were present so far.

A third project to be announced is a home-ownership initiative involving Home Depot, NNPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that will see 1.7 million inserts distributed in 40 newspapers. It is designed to increase home ownership among African Americans.

Only one candidate is running for chairman of the organization, she said. He is John B. Smith of the Atlanta Inquirer, currently the first vice chair.

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"Nightline" Not Trying Only White Men, ABC Says

Although "a number of ABC News stalwarts," including Bob Woodruff, "George Stephanopoulos, Terry Moran, Chris Bury, John Donvan and Jake Tapper have surfaced as part of a rotating anchor cast" for a revamped "Nightline," as J. Max Robins wrote Monday in Broadcasting & Cable, white men will not be the only ones chosen to try out "new ideas" for the show, an ABC News spokesman told Journal-isms today.

Referring to "Nightline" correspondent Michel Martin, a black journalist, spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said, "there is no 'list'. We are using our deep bench of talented men and women to try new ideas for Nightline. [Michel] is one of those people as are many others."

As ABC prepares for host Ted Koppel's year-end departure, Robins wrote that "The network shot some pilots, toying with a top-to-bottom reinvention of the show that included changing its name, focus and base of operations, from Washington to New York.

"But now the idea is to let Nightline keep its name and evolve over the next six months into what it will look like in the post-Koppel era."

"Last Friday's edition, for example, at press time was scheduled to have Bob Woodruff anchor a show with different stories built around a Father's Day theme. Other Nightline newscasts throughout the summer are likely to trade the show's traditional single-topic format for a multi-topic structure. Nightline won't abandon its news and public- affairs roots, but look for the show to retain the live format that helped make its reputation, as well as sprinkle in more human-interest and pop-culture fare."

Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer Tuesday, television critic Gail Shister named many of the same white male candidates, including Dan Harris in New York, saying, "No women in the mix yet. Look for Nightline's Michel Martin to be added."

As reported in February, "Nightline" runs third in the overall ratings behind "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on NBC and "Late Night with David Letterman" on CBS. But it rates first with African Americans, according to September-to-December Nielsen ratings, including in the key 25-54 demographic.

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Jackson Paper Reminds Readers of Own Past

As it reported the historic verdict finding reputed Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen guilty of manslaughter in the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers, Mississippi's Jackson Clarion-Ledger reminded readers today that, "In an era of darkness, The Clarion-Ledger and Jackson Daily News provided no light.

"During the 1950s and 1960s, the sister newspapers regularly killed news stories and printed racial propaganda at the request of the state's now-defunct segregationist spy agency, the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission," reporter Jerry Mitchell's story read.

". . . The newspapers played a role in keeping the public in the dark regarding the events leading up to the June 21, 1964, disappearances of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman."

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Washington Post Reports Its 1894 Lynching Stance

"The Senate is not the only powerful institution in Washington that owes an apology for the lynchings that took place in this country," reader Karen O'Keefe wrote in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, published Thursday.

"The article about the Senate apology included an excerpt from an 1894 Post article about a lynching.

"The excerpt described the lynched man -- who, it claimed, committed assault -- as 'brutal.' It did not use any similar adjective to refer to the people who barbarically murdered him. Instead, the subhead called them 'peaceable citizens.' The article also referred to the lynching as 'a short trial and a speedy punishment.'"

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ESPN Airing Documentary on Ralph Wiley

ESPN is airing "Classic Wiley," an hour-long documentary on the life of the noted writer and commentator, Ralph Wiley, on Saturday, June 25, at 11 a.m. Eastern time on ESPN Classic. It debuted on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Wiley died a year ago at age 52.

ESPN described the program this way:

"Narrated by actor Courtney Vance, the program will track Wiley's life from his birth in the Jim Crow atmosphere of Memphis, Tenn., to his pioneering work as a writer and columnist for the Oakland Tribune, Sports Illustrated, as a controversial author and social critic, and as an on-air commentator for ESPN and a groundbreaking columnist for ESPN.com's Page 2. The program explores his untimely death at the age of 52 and features a series of eulogies by family, friends, and colleagues, including filmmaker Spike Lee, former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson and PTI co-host Mike Wilbon."

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On Crotch-Grabbing, Is Paper Out of Touch?

In its coverage of the NBA playoffs, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday that, "With 5.8 seconds left in Sunday night's Game 5, San Antonio's Robert Horry hit a three-pointer that proved to be the game-winner.

"This photo was taken moments after Horry's shot. His right hand is signaling that his shot went in. His left hand appears to be signaling something entirely different.

"What do you think?" the paper asked, encouraging readers to send e-mails. "Did Horry just have an itch? Was it a message to the Pistons? Or was it a show of disrespect to the Palace crowd?"

Reporter Terry Foster at the rival Detroit News wrote on his blog that such statements prove the Free Press editors need to get out of the office.

"The fact the paper asks this question is further proof it is out of touch with athletes and especially its younger demographic. Let me help the paper. This is Horry's way of celebrating his game-winning three-point shot. He is telling the world 'I am the man,'" Foster wrote.

"It is a macho hip hop way of celebrating his accomplishments. Now is it classy? No. But this is done so many times on the playgrounds of America it is not funny. This is really no big deal except for editors who rarely make it out of the building. They think it is a big deal because they don't even know what their kids do when they are out in the playgrounds or even the malls."

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Cartel Said to Be Behind Journalist's Killing

"A top Mexican prosecutor told a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists today that the Arellano Félix drug cartel was behind the slaying of a well-known Tijuana journalist nearly one year ago, and federal authorities have rounded up more than 100 people as part of a broad crackdown against the gang," CPJ said Tuesday.

"The CPJ delegation met with José Luis Vasconcelos, a prosecutor in the organized crime division of the federal Attorney General's Office, to discuss the government's investigations into the recent murders of several Mexican journalists. Today's discussion focused on the slaying of Francisco Ortiz Franco, co-editor of the Tijuana-based weekly Zeta, who was gunned down on June 22, 2004."

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Page Designer Jeanine Davis Dies at 28

Jeanine Davis, who joined the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in November as a sports page designer, died Tuesday after having been diagnosed with cancer. She was 28, reported her AJC colleague, Ernie Suggs.

A graduate of the University of Missouri school of journalism, she previously worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as a sports and features page designer and at the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat as a copy editor and page designer.

"Jeanine's last wish was for a journalism scholarship for students who graduate from Morgan Park High School" in Chicago. "Jeanine's best friend, Kenya Hicks, is working on sponsorship for this scholarship, which will be officially announced in August, to coincide with Jeanine's 10-year class reunion," another friend, Adrienne Samuels of the St. Petersburg Times, told colleagues in the National Association of Black Journalists.

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Short Takes

  • "Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale will address the 17th annual national convention of the Asian American Journalists Association, to be held Aug. 17-20 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. Mondale, who also served as Ambassador to Japan, will speak at the luncheon on Aug. 18," the Asian American Journalists Association announced Monday.
  • Catherine Hughes, chair of the Radio One network, the largest African American-owned radio chain, interviews Will Smith on the Radio One television spinoff, TV One, June 30 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time, repeating July 1 and July 2. Hughes is also part of a test video broadcast (.wmv file) on the Chicago Defender Web site, speaking before the Rainbow PUSH organization in Chicago. She was thankful that TV One had "the most successful launch in the history of cable."
  • "Industry organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists, the [Asian American Journalists Association] and the American Society of Newspaper Editors are pushing harder than ever for more newsroom diversity," the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., wrote in an editorial Monday. "But success depends mostly on how seriously news executives embrace the groups' mission."
  • Tavis Smiley, public television and radio host, is one of six "news junkies" from the broadcasting world asked by Frazier Moore of the Associated Press how they would revamp the "CBS Evening News."
  • A documentary celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Defender, once the largest-circulation African American daily newspaper in the country, was due to air at 9 tonight on Chicago's WTTW-TV. "'Paper Trail: 100 Years of the Chicago Defender,' narrated by actor Harry Lennix, was executive produced by Paul Buckner and produced by Barbara Allen," according to Chicago news reports.
  • The Redding News Review Web site has announced a partnership with Black UK Online, based in Suffolk, England.

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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 BugMeNot.com 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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