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NFL Murder-Suicide Coverage Praised, Panned

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Ham-Handed," "Credible," "a Fraud"

The Daily, Made for iPad, Recalled for Diversity

N.Y. Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer Face Cutbacks

Program Director Resigns at D.C.'s WPFW

Progressive Media Weigh Stance Toward Obama

Punch TV to Add 16 Low-Power Stations Next Week

Asian, Latino Groups Rank NBC Highest On Diversity

Why Haven't More Liberals Defended "Lincoln"?

Short Takes

Kansas City head coach Romeo Crennel talks Sunday after an emotional victory over Carol

"Ham-Handed," "Credible," "a Fraud"

News outlets were praised and criticized for their coverage of the murder-suicide involving Jovan Belcher, the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker who killed his girlfriend and then turned the gun on himself Saturday.

Not only did commentators evaluate coverage of the tragedy by CBS, ESPN and the NFL Network as a news event, but  they also faulted or praised the emphasis given by print and broadcast outlets to the slain girlfriend, to the issue of domestic violence and to gun control as been part of the story. NBC's Bob Costas and Fox Sports Network's Jason Whitlock were singled out for attention.

Richard Deitsch wrote Sunday for Sports Illustrated, ". . . CBS's The NFL Today show disgraced itself on Sunday.

"Viewers understand that networks have bills to pay and can tolerate mild product placement. But common sense and decency should always carry the day, and 24 hours after Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered Kasandra Perkins (the mother of their three-month old daughter, Zoe), The NFL Today opened its pregame show with a ham-handed live advertisement for Garmin that featured host James Brown hawking the product ('We would like to thank our friends from Garmin for helping navigate our open!') like a GPS-happy P.T. Barnum."

Deitsch continued, ". . . Yesterday, on ESPN's Sunday Countdown, host Chris Berman began the show on the appropriate somber note, with the producers showing a live shot inside Arrowhead Stadium. Berman then sent the audience to reporter Ed Werder, a longtime journalist who had traveled to Kansas City. Werder provided what Werder always does: credible reporting. Given the news in Kansas City, ESPN, to its credit, canceled its comic segment with Frank Caliendo and its frivolous 'Come On, Man' segments."

In the Times Union in Albany, N.Y., Pete Dougherty also praised ESPN but panned the NFL Network. "ESPN, still the place to turn for any major breaking sports story, followed journalist principles today before reporting the [identity] of the Kansas City Chiefs player who killed his girlfriend and then himself," he wrote Saturday.

"Meanwhile, the NFL Network proved itself to be a fraud when it comes to breaking news.

"ESPNews reported the story when it broke and continued to update viewers, but did not identify the player as linebacker Jovan Belcher — even though numerous Internet reports did — until police released the name."

Deitsch noted, ". . . Covering crime is not easy for a sports network, but it does reveal something about its journalistic DNA. As news broke Saturday morning from Kansas City, the NFL Network opted to continue airing its regular-scheduled programming (in this case, a repeat of Playbook AFC with Sterling Sharpe) while using the scroll at the bottom of the screen to update coverage.

"I kept popping back to the network, and the only hint of coverage I saw was someone from a makeshift studio giving a 60-second news brief. The Golf Channel's Damon Hack, who covered the NFL for years for the New York Times and Sports Illustrated, spoke for many viewers when he tweeted, 'What's up w NFL Network? S Sharpe is dancing? [Matt] Millen says he's going to show how P Manning 'kills people' w play action? Can't be live.'

". . . Here's spokesperson Alex Riethmiller. 'NFL Network became aware of the breaking news in Kansas City shortly before 8 a.m. PT (NFLN's studios are located in California) on Saturday. Immediately, a story went up on NFL.com, which was composed of information from NFL.com reporters Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer, as well as wire services. At 8 a.m. PT, NFL Network broke into regularly scheduled programming (a repeat of Playbook) to report the news. NFL Network continued to give live updates from the newsroom every 30 minutes, providing the latest news and developments.'"

CBS Sports spokeswoman Jennifer Sabatelle did not reply to a request from Journal-isms for comment, but Deitsch wrote, "Asked by USA Today Sports how CBS covered the Belcher story, CBS Sports executive vice-president/production Harold Bryant said, 'We covered it very well.' And so it goes."

On NBC, meanwhile, the Associated Press reported, ". . . Bob Costas used his halftime segment on 'Sunday Night Football' to advocate for gun control . . . causing an immediate debate on social media. . . .

". . . In a segment about 90 seconds long, Costas paraphrased and quoted extensively from a piece by Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock."

"The online reaction to Costas' segment was swift, with many people criticizing the broadcaster for expressing his personal views on a program meant for entertainment."

Whitlock had written Saturday, "Football is our God. Its exaggerated value in our society has never been more evident than Saturday morning in my adopted hometown. There's just no way this game should be played."

Jemele Hill of ESPN advocated a different approach. "Rather than hanging Jovan Belcher's jersey inside his locker as an awkward tribute and having a moment of silence for domestic violence victims before Sunday's game, the Kansas City Chiefs should have handed out this fact sheet from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to every player and all the fans who attended the game," Hill wrote on Monday.

The Daily, Made for iPad, Recalled for Diversity

The closing of the Daily, the standalone daily iPad newspaper from News Corp., publisher of the New York Post and owner of Fox News, marks the end of an experiment in a daily "newspaper" made expressly for tablets.

The restructuring, announced on Monday, also demonstrates that digital journalists can lose their jobs just as those in the print media, and shows that staff diversity can exist even online and at a News Corp. product.

From left: Myles N. Miller, Derek Rose, Peter Ha

"The newspaper had a high profile launch in February 2011, but had apparently struggled to pay its way — recent reports suggested the losses were looking like $30 million a year, and rumors that Rupert Murdoch would kill the publication have been around since at least early summer," Adam Taylor and Julia La Roche reported for businessinsider.com.

". . . the brand will live on in other channels. Technology and other assets from The Daily, including some staff, will be folded into The Post."

Derek Rose, a copy editor at the Daily who was among those laid off over the summer, messaged Journal-isms, "though not without some frustrations associated with starting a new venture, it was really a good place to work, with a diverse workforce. I worked with some really talented journalists, of all different ethnicities. I know however much this might have been rumored, the reality of it is still a blow — but I'm confident they'll land on their feet."

Rose is now writing a daily public health newsletter for a nonprofit and working part-time as a producer at SkyeAol.com. He recalled these other journalists of color working at the Daily:

Quindell Willis, a photo editor; Nadia Wynter and Carlton Christopher on the copy desk; Mara Gay, staff writer; Hasani Gittens, a news editor; reporter Myles N. Miller; Daniel-Johnson Kim, designer, and Peter Ha, tech editor. Rose, Christopher and Kim were let go over the summer; Ha said he left in April but was not let go. He said he had a short stint with TechCrunch and is now the news editor at Gizmodo.

Ha wrote a piece for Gizmodo on Monday, "What It Was Like Launching the Doomed iPad Magazine The Daily."

It began, "I was the 19th employee hired by The Daily. My first day as the tech editor was on November 1, 2010, and the plan was to launch the next month. Needless to say, I was scared shitless."

Ha told Journal-isms by email, "While I was only one of two section leads at The Daily of color [Dan Woo led the video team], I remember it being a fairly diverse and eclectic staff. As a person of color, I usually pay attention but it never crossed my mind in the 18 or so months that I was there. The design and video teams were the most vibrant. . . . As far as the business side is concerned, it was predominantly white."

Miller, 19, a freelance political reporter who covered the White House and Congress before being laid off in July, messaged, "There was much diversity at The Daily, across all teams at the paper. Very proud of all they've accomplished."

News Corp. declined to discuss the staff diversity. "Unfortunately, I am not able to provide you with information about our employees," spokesman Nathaniel Brown said.

N.Y. Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer Face Cutbacks

"Aiming to cut costs in an increasingly troubled advertising environment, The New York Times announced on Monday morning that it would offer buyout packages," Christine Haughney reported Monday for the Times. "While the primary goal of the buyout program is to trim managers and other nonunion employees from its books, the company is offering employees represented by the Newspaper Guild the chance to volunteer for buyout packages as well.

"In a letter to the staff, Jill Abramson, executive editor of The Times, said she was seeking 30 managers who are not union members to accept buyout packages. She stressed that the paper had been reducing as many newsroom expenses as possible, like leases on foreign and national bureaus. But the hiring The Times has done in recent years to help make it more competitive online has restored the newsroom to the same size it was in 2003 — about 1,150 people."

Meanwhile, Haughney reported Sunday, "While workers at many newspapers owned by Advance Publications have tried to brace themselves for what seems to be the inevitable — layoffs and the end of a daily print product — reporters and editors at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland are fighting back in an unusual way: they are taking their case directly to the public.

"The staff there has started a campaign to rally community support and to try to prevent cuts like the ones Advance has made in other cities. Using money provided by Local 1 of the Newspaper Guild and a grant from the Communications Workers of America, organizers have produced a television commercial, created a Facebook page that has attracted nearly 4,000 'likes' and started a petition that has nearly 6,000 signatures so far. They have also enlisted some celebrities, like the 'Hot in Cleveland' star Valerie Bertinelli, to support their cause."

Program Director Resigns at D.C.'s WPFW

Bobby Hill, the interim program director at Washington's WPFW-FM, the Pacifica-owned community radio station, tendered his resignation Monday after removing program hosts to fulfill the general manager's order for a station reformatting.

Bobby Hill

"After 30 years of varied service to WPFW, I sincerely regret that, in my second and current term as Interim Program Director, I have been involved in implementing a grid change that has caused such discomfort to many programmers and listeners," Hill wrote in a letter posted on a website created by dissatisfied WPFW staffers.

". . . The new grid was finalized late last week, resulting in notifications of impacts being shared with programmers with very little lead time," Hill continued.

"This was far different from the then new grid that I implemented as Program Director in the spring of 2008, which had a 5-month collaborative development process, and provided a one month lead time for impacted programmers and listener notification. When I had concerns that caused me to tender my resignation from my current interim position late in this new grid development process, I reconsidered and rescinded such tender, and instead worked hard and earnestly to implement the new grid as best I could. I have offered to meet with our General Manager John Hughes to revisit our new grid.

"None of this sits well with me. Should the aforementioned meeting/grid revisit occur, I would return in this position, if it were the greater will of John and the staff/programmers. . . ."

As reported last week, WPFW has decided to eliminate much of its music programming in favor of syndicated talk, including the Tavis Smiley radio show and Smiley's "Smiley and West," with activist Cornel West; and NPR's "The Takeaway," produced and hosted by John Hockenberry, and Michel Martin's "Tell Me More," which already airs on public radio's WAMU-FM.  More than a dozen people have been let go in this effort to boost listenership.

The changes were to take effect Monday, but an archived speech by the late novelist James Baldwin aired instead of "Smiley & West," the rights for which the station would have to purchase.

Hughes has said the changes were required because the politically progressive station is in financial trouble, its ratings have declined and its demographics skew too old.

At a two-hour meeting attended by about 60 people Saturday night, one of two held that day, WPFW staffers and supporters said they were demanding restoration of the previous program grid and the removal of Hughes by the national Pacifica office.

The meeting concluded with intentions to seek a court injunction against the proposed changes, on the grounds that they violated the station's and Pacifica's mission. The imported programming is underwritten by corporations, at least one of which makes weapons, they said, while the community-funded Pacifica network was founded by a conscientious objector, considers itself pacifist and does not accept underwriting.

Esther Iverem, a WPFW host who is a former Washington Post Style reporter, told Journal-isms by email, "after a monday meeting, organizers are still exploring options."

President Obama participates in a Twitter live question-and-answer session in th

Progressive Media Weigh Stance Toward Obama

"For the better part of four years, progressive media has had President Barack Obama's back," Dylan Byers wrote Sunday for Politico.

"Now that he's won re-election, it is faced with a choice: Should the left continue always to play the loyal attack dog against the GOP, blaming the opposition at all hours of the news cycle for intransigence? Or, should it redirect some of that energy on the president, holding him to his promises and encouraging him to be a more outspoken champion of liberal causes?

"Already, there are rumblings of change.

"In the days and weeks following Obama's victory, progressive voices, primarily in print media, have made efforts to push the president on key parts of the unfinished liberal agenda — including climate change, drone strikes, troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, civil liberties and gun control. . . ."

Punch TV to Add 16 Low-Power Stations Next Week

"Bounce TV, the thriving African- American-targeted multicast network, was supposed to get stiff competition in what looked like the fastest growing niche in the programming world. But while would-be competitors Kin TV and Soul of the South have missed multiple launch dates, casting their very existence into question, another digi-net in the urban space quietly reached a year on the air," Michael Malone reported Monday for Broadcasting & Cable. The text of the article is available only to subscribers.

"Punch TV, broadcasting to African-Americans, English-speaking Hispanics and anyone else 18-45 who identifies with the urban concept, adds 16 partner stations on Dec. 12, giving it a total of 35 — and reaching 55 million U.S. households, according to Joseph Collins, Punch TV founder and CEO.

"The affiliates are low-power stations. But Collins, who got his start in broadcasting as a teenage intern at WVTV Milwaukee, says Punch offers something fresh, with a programming mix that's 70% original.

" 'The [others] are doing black nostalgia television,' he says. 'I am focused on something different.'

"Soul of the South had initially pegged the first quarter of 2012 for its debut, while Kin TV shot for August. Kin appeared to suffer a setback upon the announcement last month that Lee Gaither, its former CEO, had joined Africa Channel as executive vice president and general manager. Gaither would not comment, and Kin TV execs could not be reached. One person with knowledge of Soul of the South's plans said the network was targeting a Martin Luther King Day launch, and set the odds at 50-50 that it would happen. . . . "

Asian, Latino Groups Rank NBC Highest On Diversity

"Fox received an 'F' from the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition and the National Latino Media Council today in the groups' annual network report cards," Dominic Patten reported Thursday for Deadline Hollywood. "But it's not because the network that airs The Mindy Project doesn't have enough Asian Pacific Americans or Latinos on their shows and in their company — it's because Fox missed its deadlines to report its numbers.

"The APAMC says that on November 1 it gave Fox a deadline of November 15 to get back to them with the ethnic mix of their programming on both sides of the camera. . . . At the same time, the group, which gave Fox a C- overall last year, praised the network as being the only one that met its 2011 challenge to cast an Asian Pacific American in a lead role on a TV series: Debuting this season, Mindy Project stars and was created by Mindy Kaling whose heritage is Indian. The National Latino Media Council also criticized Fox today for not meeting its November 8 deadline.

". . . In response, Fox said today that they wanted to provide 'more accurate data' but were unable to do so within the APAMC's and NLMC's timelines. . . . "

The Asian group's report said, "Overall, NBC, with a B- (down one notch from last year's B), again ranked highest overall [PDF] in this year's APAMC report card, which marks the 11th anniversary of judging the inclusion of APAs in eight categories: actors, unscripted (reality) show participants, writers/producers, directors, development, procurement, executives, and network initiatives. . . ."

The Hispanic group's report said, "NBC's diversity strength comes from their behind the camera talent [PDF], and although they lack in the key area of in front of camera actors, they have pulled forward as leader of the diversity network pack. NBC gets an overall 'A-' for the 2011-12 season and they deserved it. Comcast's 2011 acquisition of NBC-Universal seems to have accelerated the progress NBC has made in its diversity programming efforts and we commend Comcast for it."

The Hispanic group gave ABC a "B" and CBS a "B+." The Asian group gave CBS and ABC a "C+."

Why Haven't More Liberals Defended "Lincoln"?

"Lincoln is the first major biopic in more than 70 years of the man many consider our greatest president," Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote Monday in his blog for the Atlantic. "The result has been a fascinating back and forth among scholars and writers about what the film does and doesn't do, who it portrays and who it doesn't.

"Last week I spent some time (off-line) with New York Times film critic A.O. Scott debating the film's meaning and impact. We've decided to bring that discussion online and add in some other voices, including historian Kate Masur, who has examined how Lincoln deals with the role of African-American activism at the end of the Civil War.

"We pick up the conversation with the following note addressed to Scott and Masur, taking up our conversation from last week. The major theme under debate is simple: Why haven't more liberals defended Lincoln? . . ."

Short Takes

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Comments

Applause seeking media whores

I resent both Costas and Whitlock for engaging in politics on the souls of those who died in this tragic event. Costas of course used the cover if a Black pundit to play his game. Whitlock has no cover to hide behind his raw pandering.

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