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"No Ethnic . . . Barriers"

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Sunday, May 8, 2005

Diversity Advocate to Edit European W.S. Journal

Raju Narisetti, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe and an advocate of the kind of diversity that he said "has to go well beyond the typical measures," Sunday was named editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe and European editor of the "global" Journal, effective Aug. 1.

"Raju will take charge of our editing operations in Brussels and our bureaus there and in London, Paris and southern Europe, Germany, Moscow, and the Middle East and Africa. His mission will be to produce the best possible European edition every day and the best coverage possible of Europe for our readers everywhere," read a note to the staff from managing editor Paul Steiger. The Indian-born Narisetti is based in Brussels, Belgium.

The Journal announced at the same time that it planned to shift its Asian and European editions from broadsheet to tabloid format, as it moves to curb losses and attract new readers.

Narisetti told Journal-isms that, "my elevation to the Editor role means the editor of WSJE is Asian-American, the deputy managing editor is African-American, the art director is Hispanic. So [the] top three heads of departments on the news desk are non-white–all new staffers at the paper since early 2003, when I started."

According to a bio by the South Asian Journalists Association, Narisetti met his African American wife, Kim Narisetti, while at the Dayton Daily News in Ohio. She is a freelancer who has been an editor at Advertising Age, The Source, TheStreet.com and the Journal.

Narisetti's promotion comes as a racial discrimination lawsuit by Carolyn Phillips, who as assistant managing editor was the highest ranking person of color in the newsroom, approaches its first anniversary. "The process, as you know, is slow as molasses. We're going through document requests and just started depositions," Phillips told Journal-isms today.

One stateside Journal reporter told Journal-isms that, "there is virtually no pipeline to foreign or management for the few reporters of color who are here, though Raju could help change that," noting that since the first of the year, the paper has lost three "relatively young" black reporters – Kortney Stringer in Dallas, medical reporter Christopher Windham and Nicole Harris in Atlanta. Stringer starts May 23 at the Detroit Free Press.

"Clearly, my elevation to Editor from Managing Editor doesn't automatically increase the number of senior news management staff at the Journal who have diverse backgrounds and ethnic origins," Narisetti said by e-mail from Brussels.

"What it hopefully does is signal—to the outside world—that at all three editions of the Journal, there continue to be no ethnic or country-of-origin barriers to getting to the top-most rungs of news management. Like all papers we strive to do better on diversity—and it is really a never-ending task—but I am by no means an exception.

"Minorities hold high—and key—positions throughout the Journal, including Reg Chua, the editor of the Wall Street Journal Asia, Connie Mitchell Ford, our economics editor, Nikhil Deogun, a deputy bureau chief in Washington. And our ranks are full of very capable women editors and managers, starting with our Publisher Karen House, the Journal's Deputy Managing Editor Joanne Lipman, our global copy chief, Christine Glancey and one of the most important editors, in regard to diversity, Cathy Panagoulias, the assistant managing editor in charge of all news hiring."

As for his own staff at Wall Street Journal Europe, Narisetti called it "very diverse—it has to be, to successfully serve a pan-European readership. And the diversity has to go well beyond the typical measures of diversity—we have plenty of that, by the way—used in say, American newspapers. The editors on my team are from the U.K., Croatia, Texas, North Carolina, Mexico, Turkey, Spain and Belgium, to list a few, and speak several European languages, adding both geographic and linguistic diversity.

"I remain very interested in increasing diversity in both editing and reporting ranks," he continued. "and again I tend to measure it on a more complicated scale, including ethnic, sexual, linguistic and geographical diversity."

The Journal announcement said that, "Raju has been the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe since 2003. He joined the paper as a reporter in Pittsburgh in 1994, having previously served as a summer reporter intern in 1991. There he covered manufacturing and consumer products companies, before moving to New York to cover such technology companies as IBM and Xerox. He moved to the national news desk in 1999, quickly becoming a news editor in charge of media, retail, advertising and consumer-product coverage. In 2000 he added the responsibility for technology news coverage. In 2002 he was named deputy national editor, and in his current job he played a major role in designing the Global News Desk, adding in 2003 the title of global news editor/Europe to that of managing editor of the WSJE."

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Hampton's Brown Lashes Out at NABJ, Local Paper

"Unfortunately, unfounded allegations, rumors and gossip being widely circulated by a trio of leaders of the National Association of Black Journalists were dignified in both the headline ("Environment at HU journalism school under fire") and in the April 30 article by reporter Jessica Hanthorn in the Daily Press in a journalistic antithesis of the truth," Tony Brown, Hampton University journalism school dean, said in an op-ed piece published today in the Daily Press of Newport News, Va.

"Aside from being bad leadership, this is also an example of bad journalism — but very effective disinformation.

". . . Bryan Monroe, a NABJ vice president and trio member, boasted in an outbreak of felony cockiness that 'everyone will see a much warmer climate for student journalism in the fall' at HU because of NABJ's oversight. This warning, of course, is insulting and arrogant . . . the third member of the trio, Kafi Rouse, a regional NABJ leader in Hampton, has an attitude toward all things Hampton that can best be described as intense."

Brown was referring to an April 13 meeting between NABJ leaders and Hampton University officials and faculty in the university president's office over reports from journalism students that they felt intimidated by administrators.

Participants said university President William R. Harvey and Brown asked for evidence of the intimidation and the NABJ leaders – President Herbert Lowe and Monroe – said they would not do so in such an open meeting, at which 16 people were present.

Brown wrote in his essay, a longer version of which has been circulating by e-mail the last few days, that, "If one assumes the most base inference being promoted by the NABJ trio – that Hampton's central administration would tolerate, even encourage, the journalism program to systematically intimidate the students, for any reason, then I must assume that that person has never visited Hampton University and is unfamiliar with the Hampton code and its president and does not know that HU employees are required to behave in accordance with strict university policies."

In response, Monroe told Journal-isms that, "We continue to be concerned about the overall atmosphere at Hampton but we are pleased that Tony Brown is now engaged in the issue and is aware of the issues at his university. Between our conversations with him and anything else he's heard from students and parents, whether or not he accepts what he hears, he has to be knowledgeable that there's an issue. We continue to feel that it's important, as the largest organization representing journalists of color," to be concerned about anything "that could endanger our student journalists. The stakes are too high," he said.

A 2000 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education noted a 1990 policy change at Hampton requiring, in the story's words, "that all campus demonstrations be approved in advance by the administration, and threatening to take away financial aid from students who participated in unauthorized demonstrations. That policy remains in effect, says Deandra Williams, Hampton's student-government president. But students have other opportunities to speak out, she says, and they often voice their concerns to the student leaders, who have monthly meetings with Mr. Harvey," the 2000 article said.

"Hampton never has had a faculty senate, and the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors dissolved shortly after Mr. Harvey's arrival. He didn't ban it, but professors say they felt it was futile."

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4 Black Reporters Leave St. Petersburg Times

The St. Petersburg Times, which has seen its share of racial frustration but which now has an African American managing editor, has lost four black reporters in two weeks.

Managing Editor Stephen Buckley, named in January, called it "an unfortunate confluence of events, rather than a sign of an exodus."

But reporter Megan Scott said that, "Oftentimes, papers focus too much on recruiting and not enough on retention. They don't appear to care too much about why minority reporters are leaving, just as long as they can find replacements. What about taking care of the reporters they have, helping them grow, giving them challenging assignments and better opportunities?"

She had contacted a candidate for president of the National Association of Black Journalists, Michael Woolfolk. She also said the paper had already called two of her friends to recruit them.

The four reporters — Roger Mills, Melia Bowie, Jade Jackson Lloyd and Meyla Hooker — left for varying reasons. "I hesitate to group these different cases, given the very different issues affecting each departure," Buckley told Journal-isms. "Are we concerned? Absolutely. We're losing some smart, talented people. Are we panicked? Absolutely not. We know that the path to a diverse newsroom is laden with ups and downs, and the bottom line is that we're in this for the long haul."

Hooker had joined the paper just in December, after being part of a large layoff at the Dallas Morning News. "The St. Pete Times has a long tradition of producing some of the best writers around. I'm thankful for their trust in me, especially after what happened with the DMN. That can ruin a young journalist, but I don't plan on letting that happen," she said then.

Scott estimated the paper now had about a dozen black reporters. In the latest census by the American Society of Newspaper editors, the paper reported 16.5 percent journalists of color.

Eric Deggans, president of the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists and a columnist and editorial writer at the paper, said his organization had not commented on the departures. "Speaking just for myself, I do not think the departures signify an ongoing problem for journalists of color at the St. Petersburg Times," he continued. "I do think, however, that the same pressures which make the industry difficult for all journalists — a lack of training, long periods of dues paying to reach significant jobs, low pay, lack of a voice in the newsroom—disproportionately affect journalists of color in general. And because our numbers are small to start with, the loss of every journalist of color has a larger resonance, regardless of the reason.

"So I hope these departures spark renewed recruiting, retention and training efforts. We at the chapter are expanding our efforts to serve as a career resource for members and will continue reaching out to black journalists throughout the area."

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Reporter Butler to Head Diversity for Viacom TV

Bob Butler, reporter at KCBS radio in San Francisco and president of the Bay Area Black Journalists Association, has been named director of diversity for the Viacom Television Stations Group and Infinity Radio.

"My new responsibilities include helping train the next generation of radio and television journalists of color and RECRUITING PEOPLE OF COLOR FOR MANAGEMENT POSITIONS IN NEWS, SALES AND ENGINEERING. In effect, I've become a 'suit,'" he said in an e-mail to fellow members of the National Association of Black Journalists.

According to Viacom's Web site, the television stations group "consists of 39 television stations, reaching 15 of the top 20 television markets in the United States. The division includes 20 owned-and-operated CBS stations, 18 UPN-affiliated stations and one independent station. The CBS Television Stations Division includes duopolies in eight major markets, including Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Francisco."

Infinity Broadcasting Corp. says it owns approximately 180 radio stations in 22 states in the nation's largest markets.

"I have worked for KCBS Radio for the past 24 years. I began mentoring young students when I joined the National Association of Black Journalists in 2000. I believe in this mission so much I've spent my own money and vacation basically representing CBS at these conventions for the past five years," he told colleagues.

"The industry lacks diversity. We in the journalism organizations of color know it, the industry knows it," he wrote to Journal-isms.

Butler is Radio Task Force co-chair for NABJ and is on the national board of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

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NAHJ, Chicano Group Plead to Keep J-Program

"The National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the California Chicano News Media Association are alarmed that the Ventura County Community College District is considering eliminating the journalism programs at Oxnard and Ventura Community Colleges despite the serious impact this decision would have for Latino students, the Latino community and for all residents in Ventura County and the state of California," the groups said in a statement today.

The Ventura County Star reported last month that newspapers and journalism programs at Oxnard and Ventura colleges would be eliminated, and that the decision comes "as the district faces what some fear could be an $8 million budget shortfall over the next 15 months.

"The district axed the programs at the colleges because of low enrollment, said Chancellor James Meznek."

The Star reported today that students were preparing the final edition of the Ventura College Press.

The two journalism groups wrote Meznek that, "Increasing the number of Latino students pursing careers in journalism should be a major public policy initiative for all colleges in California, a state that has the largest Latino population in the country. . . . We understand that the Ventura County Community College District has to make budget cuts. But we believe this is not the time to reduce your commitment to journalism and to Latino journalism students."

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AP Documents Racial Disparity on Death Penalty

"Ohio's death penalty has been inconsistently applied since it was enacted in 1981, according to an analysis by the Associated Press," began a Sunday story by Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Frank Bass and Liz Sidoti.

"Race, the extensive use of plea bargains and even where a crime was committed all play a role in who is sentenced to death.

"In its research, the AP analyzed 1,936 indictments reported to the Ohio Supreme Court from October 1981 through 2002.

"Among the findings:

  • "Offenders facing a death penalty charge for killing a white person were twice as likely to go to death row than had they killed a black. Death sentences were handed down for 18 percent of killers who had murdered whites, compared with 8.5 percent of cases in which victims were black.

 

  • "Nearly half of the 1,936 capital punishment cases ended with a plea bargain. That includes 131 cases in which the crime involved two or more victims. Twenty-five people had killed at least three.

 

  • "In Cuyahoga County, a Democratic stronghold, just 8 percent of offenders charged with a capital crime received a death sentence. In conservative Hamilton County, 43 percent of capital offenders ended up on death row."

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Editors Debate Method Used to Snare Mayor

Spokane Mayor Jim West announced today he is taking a leave from office "to give himself a few weeks to gather his thoughts and prepare a defense against 'false accusations leveled against me,'" Spokane's Spokesman-Review reported on its Web site.

Meanwhile, journalists debated the methods the newspaper used after it announced last week that it "uncovered evidence that West has led a secret life for more than 25 years," in the words of the paper's editor, Steven A. Smith. "Beyond the serious allegations of sexual abuse, West had been using his position in the Legislature to block gay-rights legislation. And he has been trolling the Internet for young lovers while serving as mayor of Spokane, offering gifts and favors," Smith wrote to readers.

As part of a three-year investigation, the paper set up a fictional character in a gay chat room to see whether the mayor would approach him.

"In The Oregonian newsroom, most, but not all, journalists reacted like Tom Detzel, who oversees investigative projects: 'It's a pity they had to undercut the credibility of an otherwise fair and relevant report by setting up a phony identity and luring West into a trap. This is not anything I could ever imagine condoning here. You can't lie to get to the truth, then expect someone to respect or believe your version of the truth,'" the Oregonian's ombudsman, Michael Arrieta-Walden, wrote Sunday.

"Peter Bhatia, The Oregonian's executive editor (and who began his newspaper career at The Spokesman-Review in the mid-'70s), agreed with Detzel in principle, but suggested more time is needed to absorb all that happened in Spokane last week."

At the News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., Executive Editor David Zeeck was stronger:

"The stories were pertinent and explosive. But they were undercut by using [a] computer expert as date bait, by taking political sides on whether the mayor's politics were hypocritical and by using [an] offer of an internship as the 'smoking gun' when we don't know if it's a cap pistol or a .44 magnum," he said.

"A little more restraint – and a little more reporting – would have made the stories more pointed and more powerful," wrote Zeeck, who is secretary of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, on the ladder to become president.

Smith defended the paper on the Romenesko Web pages at the Poynter Institute, saying, "the online world may cause us to adopt news gathering techniques which we strived to avoid in the real world. The cyber world creates an environment of anonymity that is hard to penetrate.

"At least that was our thinking. We knew from the start that the decision would elicit controversy. We knew it would kill any chance our series would garner awards – but then in our newsroom we decided three years ago that our journalism would be based . . . around a set of powerful values, none of which address hardware on the walls."

The National Association of Lesbian and Gay Journalists is watching from the sidelines. "I probably wouldn't have anything additional to add beyond what's already been said in various stories I've seen, so I think I'll bow out of this particular discussion," president Eric Hegedus told Journal-isms. "The case itself, however, is fascinating."

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Robin Roberts Becomes "GMA" Co-Anchor

"ABC elevated Robin Roberts to anchor status with Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer on 'Good Morning America,' a recognition of her increased role on the news program," David Bauder reported today for the Associated Press.

"Roberts, 44, moved into a chair beside her colleagues on Monday's 'GMA.' The ABC News broadcast has been moving up in the ratings this season against its archrival 'Today' show on NBC, the long-dominant network news program in the mornings.

"The former college basketball star and ESPN personality has read the news headlines on "Good Morning America" since 2002 and has gradually assumed a more prominent role, doing reporting and conducting interviews. One of the few immediate differences viewers will see is simply where she's sitting."

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Chorus Grows for Spotlighting Victims of Color

In the wake of the "runaway bride" case, a growing number of commentators are speaking out on the news media's focus on such white, middle-class "victims" to the exclusion of others.

"A year ago yesterday, May 7, Stacy-Ann Sappleton took a taxi to Queens, N.Y., from LaGuardia, bound for the home of her future in-laws. She had flown in from Detroit to complete a few tasks for her planned September wedding," Cynthia Tucker wrote yesterday in her column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"She never made it. Her fiancé, Damion Blair, his parents and Sappleton's mother spent a frantic weekend searching before they learned of her tragic demise.

"Never heard of her? Neither has most of America."

". . . As American news consumers, we are discriminating about the sort of victims worthy of our concern. Pretty, middle-class, young, white – yes; old, ugly, poor, black, brown – apparently not."

The media's infatuation with missing white women (Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate)

Missing white female alert (Douglas MacKinnon, Chicago Tribune)

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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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