No Michelle? Washington Post's Mother of Meltdowns
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Backlash on Pedophilia Piece Teaches Power of Words
Inquirer Assigns Last Black City Reporter to Obits
Target of Death Threats Accepts Press Freedom Award
Black Millennials More Likely to Give Media an "F"
Interactive One Entertainment Site Targets Latinos
Republicans Losing Court Fights Over Voter ID
Detroit's Ben Burns, Diversity Proponent, Dies at 72
"My favorite caller of the week was an erudite, sharp-witted woman who said she had been a Post subscriber since 1962," Ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton wrote Sunday to readers of the Washington Post print edition. "After going through her entire paper on Wednesday morning, she said, 'I couldn't believe there wasn't any mention of Michelle Obama's speech. I wasn't quite sure if I remembered it right. I had to check my memory: Didn't I watch her on television last night?'
"Her memory was fine. Coverage of Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention was indeed missing from 60 percent of Post printed copies that day — no speech story, no photo, no Style commentary on her dress, nothing.
"Also bad, and the source of more complaints, was the absence of a game story in Wednesday's paper on the Nationals' 11-5 victory Tuesday night over the Chicago Cubs. The Nats are finally, amazingly, near a playoff berth, and to not have this game covered, when it ended at around 10:30 p.m., sent people over the edge.
"Post reporters said they were buttonholed in front of their homes Wednesday morning by neighbors complaining about the missing game report and speech coverage.
"So what happened on Tuesday night? I'm trying very hard to resist this bag of clichés: It was the mother of all . . . the perfect storm of . . . computer meltdowns.
". . . It was a problem not with the software but with the communications system that links The Post's downtown headquarters with its data servers in Tysons Corner; in a sense, The Post's brain. This data center is what manages the software that allows The Post to publish on the Web and to print the paper.
"Editors and reporters downtown could do nothing on the main computer system, leaving them unable to either receive or work on stories.
"So at 11 p.m. a band of copy editors, designers and information-technology workers gathered up laptops loaded with late-breaking stories and photos and drove the 25 minutes to Tysons. Upon arrival, the only way they could communicate with The Post's brain was to plug their laptops directly into the servers.
". . . The missing stories appropriately were printed in Thursday's editions, with a front-page note and an apology. This computer failure was no one's fault. Heroic efforts were made to get the paper out despite it.
"What I'm worried about is how this incident added to the disgruntlement of subscribers. . . .
- Sheldon Alberts, the Hill: The Hill Poll: Voters see election as choice, not Obama referendum
- Sherman Alexie, 90days90reasons.com: REASON 30: Because the liberal Messiah doesn't exist.
- H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman, New York Times: Obama's English
- Gilbert Bailon, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Focus on immigration in conventions needs perspective
- Terrance H. Booth Sr., examiner.com: President Obama's Record on Indian Affairs for Alaska Native and Native [Americans]
- Donna Cassata, Associated Press: Fall's Must-See TV: Obama-Romney Debates
- Anna Clark, Columbia Journalism Review: Keeping facts at the forefront: The Detroit News walks readers through Romney's "new message" on the auto bailouts
- Michael Cohen, Observer, Britain: Two conventions, two Americas. Seldom has the divide been greater
- Derek Donovan, Kansas City Star: 'Moderate' and 'liberal' defy definition
- Peter S. Goodman, Huff Post BlackVoices: Who Gets To Decide The American Future?
- Glenn Kessler, Washington Post: Two conventions, in parallel narrative and philosophical universes
- Allison Keyes, NPR: Social Issues Hold Sway Over Ohio's Black Voters
- Larry Miller, Philadelphia Tribune: Both parties ignore inner-city murder rate
- Julie Moos, Poynter Institute: Why Karen Tumulty's name is misspelled on Washington Post front page (Sept. 5)
- New America Media: U.S. Ethnic Media on the DNC: Passion, Pick-Up Lines and Possibility
- Touré, Time: How To Read Political Racial Code
- Jesse Washington, Associated Press: Does racial bias fuel Obama foes? How to tell?
"Over the weekend Gawker published an article by Cord Jefferson exploring the psychological ins and outs of pedophilia," Eddie Scarry wrote Monday for FishbowlDC. "The story, headlined 'Born This Way: Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex with Children,' used language highly graphic in nature to describe real-life sexual experiences between adults and children. Naturally, reaction to the piece was strong, many arguing that the story offered too-sympathetic a look at pedophilia."
Jefferson examined the argument that pedophiles are victims of a terrible "sexual orientation" and spoke with professionals about the theory.
"Imagine a world in which admitting your attraction to busty women or tall men led to alienation, jail time, or your murder," Jefferson wrote. "Older gay men can probably remember such an era, but nowadays most sexual appetites have been mainstreamed to the point of banality. Pedophiles, for obvious reasons, don't enjoy the same kind of tolerance, and thus it seems as if they may be locked forever in a sexual prison from the moment they're born."
The Los Angeles-based Jefferson has written for theRoot.com, bet.com and other sites, and was senior editor at Good magazine before layoffs there in June. "I'm now the West Coast Editor at Gawker and a contributing columnist for Gizmodo," Jefferson told Journal-isms by email on Monday. "I'm doing some freelancing here and there, but my full-time jobs take up the majority of my days."
Scarry's item continued, ". . . The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a response to Jefferson’s piece, charging Gawker with 'soft-pedaling child-rape.' Coates wrote that he 'can't really understand how one writes that a 20-year old man "began a sexual relationship" with a seven year old.' He argued that all references to 'a sexual relationship' between an adult and a child should have been regarded as 'rape.'
"FNC contributor Kirsten Powers called the story 'super troubling.'
"As noted by Twitchy, the story was passed around on Twitter like a hot potato and soon the sarcastic hashtag '#GawkersNextArticle' was created. 'The Klan: An Appreciation,' GOP media strategist Rick Wilson suggested. National Review's Greg Pollowitz recommended 'How to Read 50 Shades of Gray to your Kids.' "
Jefferson shared with Journal-isms the text of a message he sent to FishbowlDC:
"The only thing I'd like to say that I haven't already is that yesterday I sat down for a two-hour phone chat with a New York-based female editor whom I really respect. We talked about a lot, but specifically the power of language and why the words I chose for that piece were so hurtful to so many. It was an important conversation for me, and one I can't thank her enough for initiating. Besides that, several other friends and strangers have given me criticisms they have as survivors of rape and molestation, and it's going to be a while before I can process those enough to want to talk about them publicly. Nevertheless, all the lessons I've been given and sought out in the past few days have been valuable and transformational, and I'm sorry for the pain I caused.
"That all being said, though I'd certainly draft it differently, I would indeed write and publish the piece again. Since Friday, I've had several self-professed celibate pedophiles contact me to say that my piece made them feel less ashamed about themselves and more interested in getting the help they need. I'm happy for that. I'm just sorry that I hurt people in an effort to help others."
- Jennifer Gonnerman, New York magazine: The House Where They Live (2007)
- "Ken," popehat.com: Inclination, Action, and Justice: Gawker's Pedophilia Article and the Angry Reactions To It
- Razib Khan, Discover Magazine: Pedophiles: born that way?
Vernon Clark, the last African American reporter on the city staff of the Philadelphia Inquirer, has been reassigned to obituary duty, to start in two weeks.
"This is an assignment that I did not want and preferred not to do," Clark told Journal-isms by telephone on Monday. But, he said, "I will give it the best as I always do . . ."
Clark is a 26-year veteran of the Inquirer who covers neighborhoods and frequently writes about the black community. According to the most recent census figures, the city is 43.4 percent black, 41 percent white, 6.3 percent Asian and 12.3 percent Hispanic or Latino.
Gabriel Escobar, who returned to the Inquirer last week as deputy managing editor for news, told Journal-isms by email, "We were down to one full-time obit writer and that could not be sustained. Vernon has done this work before and is the logical choice.
"We have hopes of adding to our staff in the near term and diversity hiring remains a top priority."
- Adrienne LaFrance, Nieman Journalism Lab: Tuesday Q&A: Bill Marimow on his new old job, and the future of the Philadelphia Inquirer
- Joel Mathis, Philadelphia Magazine: The Inky Should Go Online Only and Other Radical Ideas to Save Philly Newspapers
Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández, who has become the target of death threats after detailing the complicity between organized crime and high-ranking authorities, accepted this year's Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), last week in Kiev, Ukraine.
"The crisis within Mexico with regard to freedom of expression has been devastating," Hernández said in her acceptance speech. "The media are afraid and preserve their economic interests with the government, and barely fight back when their journalists are killed, are threatened or disappear. There is inaction in part due to a lack of solidarity in the union and among the dynamic media egotists that well you know, but also because the government has criminalised murdered journalists in general, as well as anyone who tries to defend them. Family members have no way out; they collect pieces of tortured and dismembered journalists who have been dumped in rubbish sacks. They must be quiet and keep their heads down when the infamous government, with no evidence whatsoever, claims that the journalist was involved in trafficking."
". . . I will fight until my last breath, even if it is a small example, so that as journalists we are not brought to our knees before the drug state. I don't know how many days, weeks, months or years I have left. I know that I am on the blacklist of very powerful men who will go unpunished with their pockets full of money from drug bribes and a guilty conscience for their unmentionable acts. I know that they are awaiting their moment to carry out their threats at little political cost. I know that I have nothing but the truth, my voice and my work as a journalist to defend myself with.
". . . It's true, as Mexicans we are responsible for our own disgrace, but I hope that the international community will not continue to be indolent before the empire of the Mexican drug state, which will not be resolved by the end of the administration of Felipe Calderón," Hernández continued. "I hope they will protect their borders and economies against this expanding power and give neither shelter nor protection to those responsible, be they ex-presidents, presidents, businessmen or drug-traffickers."
The Tripoli Post reported from Libya, "Ms Hernández is a Mexican journalist who has worked for several important national dailies, and was driven to become an investigative journalist after the kidnapping and murder of her father in Mexico City in 2000.
- Anabel Hernández: Golden Pen of Freedom Acceptance Speech
". . . When it comes to assigning a failing grade for the news media's coverage of their Millennial cohort, African Americans were 'at least six times more likely than whites, Asian Americans, and Hispanics to give the news media an F grade,' " Paula Poindexter, an associate professor at the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, told Journal-isms by email on Monday.
Poindexter was discussing her new book, "Millennials, News, and Social Media: Is News Engagement a Thing of the Past?"
"I went on to say in the book that the 'reasons for the F grade included lack of interest by their generation, the news media's failure to include them in the news, and the news media's emphasis on negative stories about them,' " Poindexter continued.
A news release on the research published Monday on Jim Romenesko's media blog "includes only five of the findings from the national survey which are published in my book," Poindexter said. Another is that "Whites (40%), African Americans (29%), and Asian Americans (29%) are significantly more likely than Hispanics (less than 10%) to agree that news is biased."
The findings cited in the release:
- "Most millennials give the news media average to failing grades when it comes to reporting on their generation.
- "Millennials describe news as garbage, lies, one-sided, propaganda, repetitive and boring.
- "When they consume news, millennials are more likely than their baby boomer parents to access news with smartphones and apps and share news through social media, texting and email.
- "Most millennials do not depend on news to help with their daily lives.
- "The majority of millennials do not feel being informed is important."
Poindexter has worked on the editorial and business sides of the news media, is formerly a manager and executive at the Los Angeles Times and worked as a reporter and producer at KPRC-TV, the NBC affiliate TV station in Houston, according to her bio.
"The national survey is of adults 18 and older. 1,000 were surveyed and 18% were Millennials," Poindexter said. "Most of the survey compares Millennials with Baby Boomers who represent the largest part of the sample. Millennials include those 13 to 17 but they were not interviewed for the survey. African Americans represented approximately 10% of the sample overall."
"Digital media leader Interactive One expands its Latino market influence with the launch of Zona de Sabor, an entertainment news website targeting young, urban Latino Americans," Interactive One announced on Monday. ZonadeSabor.com is a complement to MiGente.com, Interactive One's social media site targeting the same demographic, and serves up the hottest music, television, film and fashion news for acculturated Latinos.
"We've built a reputation for launching new websites and growing established ones through our work with brands like HelloBeautiful.com, TheUrbanDaily.com, American Airlines' BlackAtlas.com and NBC News' TheGrio.com," Tom Newman, president of Interactive One, said in the release. "Zona de Sabor extends our reach in the growing Latino community allowing us to provide our advertisers with more avenues to connect with minority audiences."
"Republicans are losing most of the court fights with Democrats over whether GOP-backed state voter regulations will illegally suppress turnout among the poor and minorities in the Nov. 6 presidential contest," Tom Schoenberg reported Saturday for Bloomberg News.
"As the general election begins in earnest following the conclusion of the Democratic national convention, legal battles continue in a half dozen swing-states where court challenges await decisions by state and federal judges."
- Asian Week: Voter ID Laws an Extra Challenge to Asian Americans
- Lois Beckett and Suevon Lee, ProPublica: How Powerful Interests Are Drawing You Out of a Vote: Five Ways Courts Say Texas Discriminated Against Black and Latino Voters
- Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth: Right to vote worth dying for
Benjamin Burns discusses the purchase of the Detroit News by the Gannett Co. (Video)
"Before the word 'diversity' became a buzzword in newsrooms, Ben Burns was deeply committed to the concept," George Hunter reported Friday for the Detroit News.
" 'He was someone who felt strongly that, in a city like Detroit in particular, every voice needed to be heard,' said former Detroit News Managing Editor Sue Burzynski Bullard.
"Mr. Burns, former executive editor and chief administrative editor of The Detroit News and head of the journalism department at Wayne State University, died Friday after a long battle with a rare blood disorder. He was 72.
" 'Ben was a towering figure at The Detroit News, a consummate editor who held words and people in equal high regard,' said Jonathan Wolman, editor and publisher of The News. 'He carried his values and a wry humor to Wayne State, where he taught and mentored journalism students who will spread the Burns legacy for many years to come.'
"Mr. Burns was instrumental in developing the Rosa Parks Foundation and the Journalism Institute for Minorities at Wayne State. . . ."
- Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Teacher, newsman stood tall in Detroit
- "It's responsive, it's overflowing with data and it's beautiful," Lauren Rabaino wrote Friday for the 10,000 Words site. "The most recent project from The Chicago Tribune news apps team, Crime in Chicago, is a glowing example of the power of data in telling stories — and helping readers find their own stories in context of the big picture. The standalone app lets [one] easily learn about 'crime on your block, in your community, along your commute, and more.' "
- "When NPR Books invited audience members to nominate and vote for their favorite Young Adult novels, more than 75,000 responded," ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos wrote Monday for NPR. "The extraordinary outpouring speaks of the passion connecting the books section and its followers. But in that response also lie the seeds of a defect, for lack of a better term, in the poll. The resulting 'Your Favorites: 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels' included only two books whose protagonists are people of color, which critics called unjust."
- In what is an extraordinary case, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy G. Edmunds, who is overseeing the corruption trial of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, issued an extraordinary court order before jury selection, Allan Lengel wrote Friday for deadlineDetroit.com. "It's one I had not seen before in federal court. The order goes like this: 'The media is not permitted to blog about jury selection or otherwise provide any detail that may enable a prospective juror to be identified.' "
- "After the Wall Street Journal fired Liane Membis '12 in July for fabricating sources," the Yale Daily News "opened an investigation into her work as a staff reporter for the paper between 2009 and 2010," Max de La Bruyère, editor-in-chief of the News, wrote on Sunday. "After fact-checking her articles and contacting as many of the sources with whom she talked as possible, we have found no evidence of any fabrication. We have, however, found three instances in which Membis may have altered direct quotations from her sources."
- Nearly a year after former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier's death, momentum is building in Philadelphia to designate his former gym a historic site, Ray Rivera wrote Sept. 4 in the New York Times. "The city is also working with his estate to erect a statue honoring him. The efforts are a rethinking of Mr. Frazier's legacy in his adopted city, which never so much as named a street after him during his lifetime. The question for many who knew and admired Mr. Frazier: What took so long?" Several sports journalists have urged that a statue be built.
- "As the chief architect of the plan to turn New Orleans into the biggest city in America without a daily newspaper, Ricky Mathews spent the summer having to 'take the licks,' as he put it in his Mississippi twang, of a ferocious community blowback," Keach Hagey wrote Sunday for the Wall Street Journal. "But that blowback, he believes, is largely based on the widespread misconception that the Times-Picayune is doing fine financially. In fact, he says, the decision to slash the New Orleans Times-Picayune's print publication to three days a week from seven was driven by falling print ad revenue that threatened to put the paper into the red. Print ad sales fell 23% in 2009, 10% in 2010, 7% in 2011 and 10% so far in 2012."
- "Former WFAA8 reporter Cynthia Vega, who left the Dallas-based ABC affiliate late last month, has already booked an arriving flight at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport," Ed Bark wrote Monday on his Uncle Barky's Bytes television news blog. "She began on Monday, Sept. 10th as the airport's manager of media relations after spending 12 years at WFAA8, mostly on the early morning shift."
- In Istanbul, Turkey, "The first hearing of Turkey's biggest trial against members of the press has started, involving 44 journalists," Constanze Letsch wrote Monday for Britain's Guardian newspaper. "Thirty-six of those have been in pre-trial detention since December, facing terrorism charges and accused of backing the illegal pan-Kurdish umbrella group, the KCK."
- The International Press Institute Monday "condemned the arrest in India of a political cartoonist for sedition following a private complaint over cartoons he produced for an anti-corruption campaign," the IPI said. "IPI sources said that Indian political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was remanded to judicial custody in Mumbai today, and is scheduled be held until at least Sep. 24 on charges of sedition; using electronic equipment and the Internet for sending offensive messages; and insulting India's Constitution, national emblem and parliament."
- "The Committee to Protect Journalists is relieved to learn the Ethiopian government has pardoned Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye today," CPJ said on Monday. "We welcome the government's decision and look forward to the prompt release of Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. "However, journalists should never be jailed for legitimate newsgathering. Authorities ought to show tolerance for independent reporting and release the remaining six journalists imprisoned."
- "Northwestern University's Medill School, a national leader in journalism education for decades, is with the assistance of generous McCormick Foundation grants expanding that leadership role with a specialty, or a sequence of courses, in national security journalism education," the school announces on its website. "The school is providing journalists-in-training and working journalists with the knowledge and skills necessary to report accurately, completely and with context on events and issues related to defense, security and civil liberties. . . ."
- Michael Lewellen, who headed corporate communications for Black Entertainment Television from 1999 to 2007, has been named senior vice president of communications and public engagement for the Portland Trail Blazers, the NBA team announced on Monday. ". . . Lewellen returns to Portland from Orlando, Fla., where he most recently served as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Heart of Florida United Way. Lewellen also held the roles of Board of Directors Chairman for the Central Florida Urban League from 2008-11 and Vice President of NBC Universal/Universal Orlando Resort from 2007-09. He also launched his own media strategies and issues management firm while in Orlando in 2009."
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.
Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince.
To be notified of new columns, contact email@example.com and tell us who you are.
Special thanks to The McCormick Foundation for its generous support of the Journal-isms column.
- Hands Up! Read This!
- New Cosby Bio Looks Like a Best-Seller
- "Love, Peace and Soul!" And More
- Journo-diversity advocate turns attention to Ezra Klein project
(Erik Wemple, Washington Post, March 5, 2014)
- "Love, Peace and Soul!" And More
- Book Notes: Soothing the Senses, Shocking the Conscience
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2013
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2012
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2011
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2010
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2009
- Diversity's Greatest Hits, 2008
- Books to Ring In the New Year
- In-Your-Face Holiday Reads
- Fishbowl Interview With the Fresh Prince of D.C. (Oct. 26, 2012)
- NABJ to Honor Columnist Richard Prince With Ida B. Wells Award (Oct. 11, 2012)
- So What Do You Do, Richard Prince, Columnist for the Maynard Institute? (Richard Horgan, FishbowlLA Aug. 22, 2012)
- Who Am I? What's Race Got to Do With It?: Journalists Explore Identity
- Catching Up With Books for the Fall
- Richard Prince Helps Journalists Set High Bar (Jackie Jones, BlackAmericaWeb.com, 2011)
- 10 Ways to Turn Pages This Summer
- 7 for Serious Spring Reading
- 7 Candidates for the Journalist's Library
- 9 That Add Heft to the Bookshelf
- Five Minutes With Richard Prince (Newspaper Association of America, 2005)
- 'Journal-isms' That Engage and Inform Diverse Audiences (Q&A with Mallary Jean Tenore, Poynter Institute, 2008)
Work We <3 | FDP
Instead of spending all our time calling out journalism that doesn't work, we want to find work we like. We'd like to encourage our readers to submit links to content that is moving or challenging and that goes beyond the standard narrative either at the level of form or content. In other words, we want to see journalism that works.
We're particularly interested in work at the nexus of the following categories:
- Please include a comment explaining why the content you're sharing works.
- Comments can be as short or long as desired.
Find us on Facebook
Richard Prince Journal-isms Archive
Dori Maynard tweets on Diversity, Media & More
@JamilSmith The distorted #media depiction of African American men & boys has real life consequences, again. #mediadiversity #Tremaine