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Heads Roll at Station That Failed to Air Video

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Seattle News Director Quits; Assignment Editor Fired

Columnists, Mourners, Pay Tribute to Lena Horne

Hispanics, Others in "Distinct Worlds" on Immigration

Detroit Web Editor Named Michigan Journalism Fellow

Watch How States Plan to Help Low-Performing Schools

Limited Success for Tucson Citizen Workers in New Lives

Media Debate How to Report Elena Kagan Rumors

Dean Replies to Remarks About "Triflin'" J-Students

Short Takes

Seattle News Director Quits, Assignment Editor Fired

The Seattle news director whose station turned down the video of a police beating resigned, and an assignment manager has been fired, Seattle news organizations reported on Thursday.

Steve Kraycik"I want to let you all know today is my last day here at Q13 FOX. As the leader of this newsroom, I feel that under the circumstances it's best for me to step aside. I don't want to allow the issues of the past week to be a distraction to the news staff," News Director Steve Kraycik wrote in his resignation letter, according to Linda Thomas of KIRO Radio.

Thomas said she was given the letter by General Manager Pam Pearson.

Senior assignment editor Cheri Mossburg was fired. Mossburg said she is consulting with a lawyer, Maureen O'Hagan reported in the Seattle Times.

As reported on Wednesday, Kraycik apologized for not airing footage that shows Seattle police officers stomping on a man's head and body. At one point, an officer can be heard saying: "You got me? I'm going to beat the [expletive] Mexican piss out of you, homey. You feel me?"

After KCPQ-TV, known as Q13, did not air the footage that freelance photographer Jud Morris offered the station, Morris posted a video of the beating on YouTube and sold the footage to competitor KIRO-TV for $100.

Morris said KCPQ-TV then fired him. KCPQ is challenging KIRO over rights to the footage.

"The NAACP on Tuesday said Q-13 'seems to have played a substantial role in delaying and actively suppressing the release of the video in this case,' and one civil rights leader accused the station of obstruction of justice," KIRO reported Thursday. It noted that the Fox affiliate waited nearly three weeks to air the video.

On the night of the beating, Dominic Holden of the blog the Slog reported on May 7, Morris "saw a bunch of cop cars take off and he filmed the incident.

"But when he tried to sell the footage to Q-13 the next day, he says, they refused to air it.

" 'I was told flat out . . . that this video will not go to air - we will not air it,' Morris says. 'They said it is not that egregious. Those were the exact words.' "

Morris told Journal-isms on Friday that those words were Mossburg's.

The freelancer told the Slog that he suspected the station wanted to protect its relationship with police. It airs "Washington's Most Wanted," a weekly show that details fugitives and highlights police work. The station has denied that pleasing the police was its motivation, maintaining that it was seeking more information.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists Wednesday night said, "13 has done a disservice to Latinos, to journalism and to its audience."

"The Seattle FBI office has started a routine investigation of the incident, and the findings are expected to be forwarded to the Civil Rights Section of the Department of Justice, Special Agent Fred Gutt said," according to Casey McNerthney of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the defunct newspaper that is now a Web-only operation.

Meanwhile, the family of the Latino man seen being stomped on and yelled at said they were "disappointed" with the officers' conduct.

Martin MonettiIn a statement on behalf of Martin Monetti, the firm Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender described the April 17 incident as "an unprovoked and illegal physical assault by two Seattle officers, one of whom used racist language."

The statement said the "media firestorm" surrounding the event has overwhelmed the family, and said no press conference with Monetti was planned, according to KIRO-TV.

"Meanwhile, Morris, the videographer, has come up with a side project: selling T-shirts that capitalize on the uproar," O'Hagan reported in the Seattle Times. "'Get your Seattle Police beating T-shirts,' he posted on Twitter.

"One has the Q13 logo and disparages the station.

"The other has a still shot from the video and references the officer's words."

Columnists, Mourners, Pay Tribute to Lena Horne

CBS News put together a photo gallery and compiled a video as websites covered the funeral in New York Friday of entertainer Lena Horne, who died Sunday at age 92.

In Horne's memory, PBS is re-airing its 1996 "American Masters" special "Lena Horne: In Her Own Voice" through May 23. PBS has also made the show available for viewing online.

(Also online is a trailer of Horne hosting "Then I'll Be Free to Travel Home," a documentary "on the discovery and legacy of New York's Colonial African Burial Ground and the battle to preserve it," produced by Eric V. Tait, who has been active in the New York Association of Black Journalists.)

"Singer Dionne Warwick, actress Vanessa Williams and crime writer Walter Mosley were among the stars who attended the funeral at St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Ave.," Christina Boyle reported for the New York Daily News.

"Horne's granddaughter, actress Jenny Lumet, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and Rep. John Lewis gave heartfelt speeches, and Broadway star Audra McDonald sang 'Amazing Grace' over the casket."

" 'She was our leader,' said actress Diahann Carroll, an entertainment pioneer," Leonard Greene wrote in the New York Post. "At the church, family and friends, including actresses [Cicely] Tyson, Vanessa Williams and Leslie Uggams, opera singer Jessye Norman, pop star Dionne Warwick, and Broadway legend Chita Rivera, listened to speakers who had as much to say about Horne’s political activism as her storied music career." streamed the network's "town hall" forum on immigration live Friday night in both English and Spanish, and Radio Cadena Univision was to broadcast it simultaneously in Spanish. The commercial-free event took place in Phoenix and Miami. (Credit: Univision)

Hispanics, Others in "Distinct Worlds" on Immigration

"Univision, the dominant Spanish language network in the United States, is further inserting itself into the red-hot debate about immigration policy," Brian Stelter wrote Thursday for the New York Times.

"The network is holding a prime-time debate, 'Inmigraci??n: Un Debate Nacional,' about proposed immigration reforms on Friday. It is also releasing a poll on immigration conducted in conjunction with the Associated Press. For a sense of whether this is significant, just try to remember the last time the country’s English language networks turned over an hour of prime time for a public affairs debate that did not involve presidential candidates."

During Friday night's "town hall" meeting, "A group of college graduates stood up in the crowd and admitted they are in the country illegally. But in the same breath, they also said they are contributors to society," KSAZ-TV in Phoenix reported.

" 'We walked 1500 miles because we are Americans and we love this country and we wanted to tell the nation who we are,' said one woman [translated from Spanish]." The Associated Press also covered the event.

The AP's Alan Fram reported on the poll:

"Illegal immigrants are a boon, not a burden to the country, a resounding majority of Hispanics say, according to an Associated Press-Univision Poll that underscores sharp contrasts between the views of Hispanics and others. Most non-Hispanics say illegal immigrants are a drain on society," he wrote.

"In addition, most Hispanics condemn Arizona's strict new law targeting undocumented immigrants, while only 20 percent of non-Hispanics oppose it.

"The survey also found some remarkably similar views between Hispanics and non-Hispanics on the complex, emotional issue of immigration, which has gained prominence this election year. About two-thirds of both groups consider illegal immigration a serious problem, only a quarter of each think the Arizona law will ease the state's troubles and the largest portion of both populations think current limits on legal immigration should be left alone.

"Even so, much of the poll — which questioned 901 Hispanic adults and was compared to a separate survey of the general population — reads as if soundings were taken of two distinct worlds, an impression fortified by follow-up interviews."

Detroit Web Editor Named Michigan Journalism Fellow

James ThomasJames Thomas, a Web editor at the Detroit Free Press, is the sole journalist of color among next year's class of 12 American Knight-Wallace Fellows at the University of Michigan, program director Charles Eisendrath told Journal-isms on Friday.

Thomas plans to study "improving technical know-how in the newsroom."

"While on leave from regular duties, Knight-Wallace Fellows pursue customized sabbatical studies and attend twice-weekly seminars at Wallace House, a gift from newsman Mike Wallace and his wife Mary," a news release explains. "The program also includes training in narrative writing, multi-platform journalism and entrepreneurial enterprise." Each Knight-Wallace Fellow receives a stipend of $70,000 for the eight-month academic year.

The 2009-10 class includes two African Americans, Lynette Clemetson, who was founding managing editor of, and Christina Samuels, a staff writer at Education Week.

"This year we had 82 US applications, 10 African-American, 9 Latino and two Asian," Eisendrath said via e-mail. Last year, the program received 112 applications from U.S. journalists. Ten were from Latinos, 11 from African Americans and five from Asian Americans, said Birgit Rieck, assistant director.

The John S. Knight Fellowship program at Stanford University announced this month that four journalists of color ‚Äî Evelyn Larrubia, Phuong Ly, Jigar Mehta and Edin?©ria Pinheiro Soares ‚Äî were among 12 U.S. journalists awarded fellowships in its program for 2010-11.

Watch How States Plan to Help Low-Performing Schools

Dakarai I. AaronsDakarai I. Aarons, a reporter for Education Week, becomes the only person of color on the board of the Education Writers of America at the conclusion of its meeting this week in San Francisco. He told Journal-isms, "for journalists who want to see more coverage of what is happening with minority kids, they should definitely pay attention to how states plan to tackle their bottom 5 percent of low-performing schools using school turnaround models from the Obama Administration. Poor and ethnic minority kids are overrepresented in such schools."

The Obama administration is awarding $3.4 billion in Race to the Top Fund grants to states that propose high-quality reform plans in the areas of standards and assessments, teacher and principal effectiveness, data systems and turning around low-performing schools.

Writing on the e-mail list of the National Association of Black Journalists, Aarons also said, "More than 35 governor's seats are up for grabs this election year, but just as important in your states is the person who becomes the chief education officer, usually called the education commissioner or state superintendent of public instruction.

"Tom Horne of Arizona was elected to his position in a partisan race and is one of the most well-known state superintendents in the country. Journalists should pay attention to state education policy offices, because that is where many of the decisions are made that have the greatest impact on what goes on in schools every day."

Horne successfully fought to end Tucson's ethnic studies programs, maintaining that they teach students to feel oppressed and resent whites. Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation Tuesday requiring that "any school district that offers classes designed primarily for students of particular ethnic groups, advocate ethnic solidarity or promote resentment of a race or a class of people would risk losing 10 percent of its state financing," as the New York Times reported.

Aaron continued, "the way the Obama Administration and Congress have crafted both funding formulas and competitive grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act puts a lot more power than ever before in the hands of governors and other state officials.

"We write about this at Education Week, but I'd love to see more coverage of this at the local and state level. K-12 education makes up a sizable portion of the budgets in most states — and in several it's the largest expenditure."

Referencing a report from the Brookings Institution, Lesli A. Maxwell reported in December for Education Week that, "Between January and September, education stories made up just 1.4 percent of all top national news. . . That number was even worse in the previous two years. Substantive stories about the main enterprise of K-12 schools — teaching and learning — were even more rare. And coverage of higher education, especially community colleges, was virtually nonexistent."

Limited Success for Tucson Journalists in New Lives

The 65 Tucson (Ariz.) Citizen employees laid off whenSteve Rivera"media giant Gannett shuttered the 138-year-old paper are among the 16,500-plus journalists laid off nationwide since January 2009," Ren?©e Schafer Horton wrote Thursday for the Tucson Weekly.

"A year later, a mere 21 of the ex-Citizen employees have made it to [the] Promised Land of paid fulltime work — only five in journalism."

As one example, Horton wrote, Steve Rivera covered University of Arizona men's basketball for the Citizen for 19 years. "He was unemployed for six months before becoming an assistant manager at Rillito Nursery and Garden Center, having been trained by the company in all things desert gardening.

"The hardest thing, Rivera said, was realizing that what gets you places in sports reporting — your good name and reputation — can be an albatross in a job hunt.

" 'Sometimes they'd recognize my name and write me off, saying I'd be bored in the job because of what I used to do,' he said. 'I'm asking the girl to the dance, and she's saying, "You're not going to dance with me that long." It was humbling trying to convince people to give me a chance, that I could do something other than reporting.' "

Media Debate How to Report Elena Kagan Rumors

"As speculation about Elena Kagan’s sexual orientation has circulated on the Internet in the wake of her nomination to the Supreme Court, leading newspapers have generally declined to address the rumors, and prominent commentators have tried to dissuade their colleagues in the chattering classes from asking the question," Greg Marx wrote Thursday in the Columbia Journalism Review.

"But a top editor and a reporter at Politico, which late Tuesday night published an article headlined 'Kagan’s Friends: She’s Not Gay,' said the decision to do so was not a hard call — because the topic was already the subject of intense public discussion, and because the sources wanted to address, on the record, a false rumor that one said had become a 'distraction' to the debate over Kagan’s nomination.

"The story, by reporter Ben Smith, quotes two of Kagan’s old friends (one of whom, bizarrely enough, is Eliot Spitzer) asserting that she is straight, and notes that the lead interview — with Sarah Walzer, a law school classmate of Kagan’s who now runs a non-profit organization in New York City — occurred 'after Kagan’s supporters decided they should tactfully put an end to the rumor, which White House officials had already tried to squelch in background interviews with reporters.' "

Dean Replies to Remarks About "Triflin'" J-Students

At Howard University: Jannette Dates and Jack WhiteJack White, the veteran journalist who wrote last week that he had flunked half the students in his Howard University "Writing for the Media" course at Howard University, "did not understand what we asked him to do," according to Jannette Dates, dean of Howard's John H. Johnson School of Communications.

However, White said he stands behind his comments.

White, contributor to and veteran of Time magazine, wrote on his blog, "So, here are the final results: two As, based mostly on the potential the students demonstrated rather than actual performance; two Bs; four Cs; and eight Fs. Half the class.

"The students who flunked were, to use a word the old folks favored, truly triflin'."

Dates told Journal-isms via e-mail this week, "I believe Jack White did not understand what we asked him to do as an adjunct faculty member in the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University. The course that he taught is an entry level course for those who may want to major in journalism. It is designed to allow students to find out if they are suited for the field. Of course, these are not the top students and most of them are not even yet majors; they are exploring. We encourage that."

In his own e-mail, White said:

"My comments were not meant to be anything more than a personal statement about my recent experience teaching one class at Howard. No one should take them for any more than that. I wasn't talking about the entire school of communications, just the class I taught. I am sure that other instructors have had different, less frustrating, experiences.

"Half the students in my Writing for the Media class busted their tails to get the required work done. They attended budget meetings of the Hilltop on Sunday nights, got assignments, did the reporting and turned in their work by deadline, in addition to completing the rest of the required classwork.

"They passed the class. Two got As, two got Bs and four got Cs. They were great kids and I enjoyed teaching them.

"Of the half who failed, one stopped coming to class after four weeks and did not withdraw. Her explanation was that she did not enjoy being told how to write — which after all was the purpose of the class. One skipped the first three weeks of class and attended irregularly thereafter. Some turned in work that verged on or constituted plagiarism despite careful repeated instruction about the need for proper attribution. Those who flunked missed many classes, did not turn in multiple assignments on time or at all, and fared poorly on weekly (not especially difficult) news quizzes. All of them failed to publish the required four stories in student publications such as The Hilltop — despite being reminded frequently not to wait until the last minute to get the work done.

"For some, this was the second or even third time they have taken the course and flunked. I feel safe in describing many of these students as triflin'.

"Having taught journalism classes at other universities, I am well aware that these problems are not confined to Howard or HBCUs. And having dealt with some outstanding Howard students, I know and am gratified to know that Howard continues to produce many first rate journalism graduates. There were some terrific kids in my class. Nevertheless, my comments accurately reflect what occurred in the class I taught this semester and I stand behind them. I took no pleasure in flunking these students. In fact, it broke my heart."


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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Debra J. Dickerson

It is unfortunate that Ms. Dickerson and her family are homeless. For a very smart woman, she has many more options to pull her life in order beyond whining in her blog. As a start, she should reach out to local social services agencies with trained professionals to provide assistance for her family. Create newer professional avenues for herself to offer legal assistance to the less fortunate or teach journalism classes to middle/high school students.

Debra J. Dickerson

I, too, am saddened to hear of Ms. Dickerson’s plight – but I, also, agree with Ms. DeVore’s encouraging remarks. You have a great many options, Ms. Dickerson. I’m sure that once you really begin thinking about them, many more will become apparent than possibly ever before. But there is one other source you can call on for help, Ms. Dickerson, and this one really shouldn’t be optional: God. Because … “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” -- Philippians 4:19, NKJV “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” -- Romans 8:28, NKJV And ... “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -- Philippians 4:13, NKJV He is, by far, your best option, Ms. Dickerson. But you must believe. If not for yourself, then definitely for your children. In fact: “Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe.” Best wishes, my Sister. Keep the faith – and stay the course. Be well. Todd Beamon Freelance Editor and Writer Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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