NPR Loses Another Black Male Voice
Monday, January 16, 2012
Alex Kellogg's departure from NPR reaffirms the network's decades-old issues regarding diversity, often attributed to a corporate culture that outlasts management changes.
Alex P. Kellogg, one of NPR's two black male on-air journalists, has left the network after 14 months on the job, Kellogg told Journal-isms on Monday.
Kellogg, 34, told Journal-isms, "We're parting ways amicably."
Ironically, Kellogg's beat was "diversity-related issues and how these act as social, political and economic forces shaping our country."
Working from NPR's Washington headquarters, Kellogg started on Nov. 15, 2010, not long after NPR fired Juan Williams as an analyst under contract. Williams said on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" that Muslims dressed in Muslim garb on planes made him nervous. For much of Williams' NPR career, he was the only black male on-air voice, though NPR hired Kellogg and Corey Dade, another black print journalist, just before Williams was fired.
Dade, who also came from the Wall Street Journal, reports largely for the NPR website. Three African American women — Michele Norris, Audie Cornish and Michel Martin — host or co-host NPR news shows, though Norris is on leave from hosting "All Things Considered" during the presidential election season. Sonari Glinton, another African American male journalist, reports from Detroit.
After his firing, Williams made the lack of black male on-air voices part of his public brief against NPR. Before that departure, NPR lost Tavis Smiley and Ed Gordon as program hosts, each criticizing the network as they left.
According to Kellogg's bio, he "came to NPR in late 2010 from The Wall Street Journal. Based in Detroit, he covered Michigan and the auto industry for The Journal. He was part of a team of reporters who won a 2010 New York Press Club award for 'Detroit in Decline,' a 2009 series focusing on the collapse of the U.S. auto industry into the government's arms. His 2010 work as a general assignment reporter on the decline of the city of Detroit was praised by the Columbia Journalism Review and in 2011 he earned first place feature writing awards from the New York Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists."
NPR has yet to name a successor to Ellen Weiss, NPR's senior vice president for news who resigned a year ago in the wake of the Williams affair. Gary Knell, who started work as NPR's new president in December, told Journal-isms when he was named, "I made diversity a key part of my pitch to the NPR board to get the job" and that "this is a big part of my agenda."
In "The New Jim Crow," Michelle Alexander argues that the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary means of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. (Video)
"In June of 2010, I wrote in this space about a book, 'The New Jim Crow,' by Michelle Alexander, which I called a 'troubling and profoundly necessary' work," Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote Sunday in his syndicated Miami Herald column. "Alexander promulgated an explosive argument. Namely, that the so-called 'War on Drugs' amounts to a war on African-American men and, more to the point, to a racial caste system nearly as restrictive, oppressive and omnipresent as Jim Crow itself.
". . . As it happens and not exactly by coincidence, Alexander’s book is being reissued in paperback this week as we mark the birthday of the man who led America’s greatest mass movement for social justice. In his battle against the original Jim Crow, Martin Luther King, in a sense, did what Alexander seeks to do: pour sunlight on an onerous condition that exists just beyond the periphery of most Americans’ sight.
"I want to help her do that. So here’s the deal. I’ll give you a copy of the book — autographed by the author, no less — free of charge. You don’t even have to pay for shipping. All you have to do is tell me you want it and promise me you’ll read it.
"In fact, make that the subject line of the email you send to request your copy: 'I want it. I’ll read it.' Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include your contact information and mailing address. At month’s end, I’ll draw 50 names from a bucket and send out 50 books. If you work for the company that syndicates my column, or a newspaper that runs it, you can’t participate. The same goes if you’re my kin or my friend.
". . . let me make one thing clear. This giveaway is underwritten neither by my employer nor by Alexander’s publisher. Me, myself and I will pay for both books and shipping. I chose to do it that way in order to impress upon you how vital I personally feel it is that you read this book."
- Michelle Alexander with Dave Davies, "Fresh Air," NPR: Legal Scholar: Jim Crow Still Exists In America
Fred Gaskins, metro editor at the Tribune Co.-owned Daily Press in Newport News, Va., has been laid off, Gaskins told Journal-isms on Monday. Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune told employees it will offer an undisclosed number of voluntary buyouts in its newsroom.
"While newspaper companies broadly are struggling to transform their business models in the evolving digital age, Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other media properties, faces additional pressure as it seeks to emerge from a protracted bankruptcy," Robert Channick wrote Monday for the Tribune.
"Last month, a federal judge pushed back hearings on plans to end the three-year proceedings until at least May, meaning the company won't likely emerge from bankruptcy until third quarter, at the earliest."
Gaskins told Journal-isms by email, "I was laid off in a restructuring. . . . I've got valuable skills as a journalist, communicator and manager — whether it's print or online — and I hope to continue using those skills here in Hampton Roads. At least that's the early plan. I've been at the Daily Press for seven years, and was at USA TODAY for almost 20 years."
In his Tribune Co. bio, Gaskins says, "I’ve been Metro Editor at the Daily Press in Newport News, Va. for more than two years. Before that, I was assistant metro editor for almost three years.
"Before coming to Newport News I spent almost 20 years at USA TODAY serving as copy editor, page designer, newsmakers editor, crime and justice editor, transportation editor and — for want of a better description — coordinating national editor in the main newsroom."
According to a Friday report from media blogger Jim Romenesko, Daily Press Publisher Digby Solomon issued this statement:
"Our business model continues to adapt — including rapid growth in our digital audiences and revenue — and as a result The Daily Press Media Group is continuously re-evaluating the skill sets we need among our employee base. Last week we eliminated the jobs of 30 employees who have been loyal contributors and who will be missed, but were in positions that we no longer require. We currently have 15 job openings for various areas in the company, including our newsroom and our advertising sales group."
President Obama, Michelle Obama and their daughter Malia (not shown) painted during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day community service project at the Browne Education Campus in Washington. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)
"At the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Crenshaw in Los Angeles, the Michael Brown family is settling into folding camp chairs early for a good view of the annual MLK parade. This is the man that changed their lives forever 'by setting the path,' as Mr. Brown puts it, rattling off King’s accomplishments from boycotts to marches to speeches," Daniel B. Wood wrote Monday for the Christian Science Monitor.
"Does his 14-year-old son, Marcus know as much about King?
" 'No.' says his mother, Akisha, bluntly. 'Parents and schools have dropped the ball in teaching the life and achievement of Dr. King. 'Prodded for a comment while bundling up with his one-year-old sister, Akilah, Marcus blurts out shyly: 'I know he said, "I have a dream." '
"All along the parade route, interviews show the same thing. The older generation is infused and excited about honoring the man they say made it possible for blacks and whites to attend the same schools and restaurants by standing up and demanding civil rights. Teens and younger children know King was important as a religious and political figure, but become tongue-tied when asked for details.
"This disturbs Jasmyne Cannick, an African American community activist, political commentator, and nationally syndicated columnist who lives within walking distance of the parade route.
" 'I’m troubled because I know how much King sacrificed to get the country to tackle the civil rights issue, and my generation is complacent and forgetful of this because they’ve had it all handed to them,' she says. Asked to grade America on how well it’s done in passing on the knowledge and passion of King, she fires off, bluntly: 'D-minus or F.' "
" 'They don’t know what organization he founded, they don’t know key lines of his speeches, they don’t know when he was killed,' she says. 'I’m embarrassed and disappointed by this.' "
Meanwhile, journalists and other columnists complained in social media that King was being sanitized as they shared King's more radical and antiwar views.
Some were giving King credit for the entire civil rights movement, failing to acknowledge that other civil rights leaders and millions of ordinary citizens — even journalists — participated. In an opinion piece published by at least two websites, Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, began, "It’s been 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. transformed the United States by bringing the promise of the Constitution and the civil liberties it secures to millions of Americans."
A television standout was an essay by musician Wynton Marsalis on the new "CBS This Morning." Marsalis discussed his own feelings about King growing up — he considered King an Uncle Tom, preferring Malcolm X — and how they had changed. (Video)
- Benjamin Ola. Akande, USA Today: On economy, MLK would have demanded better
- Jared A. Ball, voxunion.com: Liberating Dr. King! The L’s Coming Mixtape: Real King, Real Politics, Real Beats w Sese
- Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: The republican candidates and the three letters you will never hear them say. (MLK)
- Commercial Appeal, Memphis: Dr. Martin Luther King and the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike
- Desiree Cooper blog: MLK Day: A tribute to all who made my world possible
- Jesse Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times: The New South is legacy of Martin Luther King
- Eugene Kane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: King remains as relevant today as he was 50 years ago
- John Kelly, Washington Post: On King Day, reminders that problems of racism persist
- Courtland Milloy, Washington Post: Affordable-housing zones’ rules are an affront to King’s dream
- Ronda Racha Penrice, theGrio.com: Martin Luther King Day: 25 people who paved the way for MLK
- Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Martin Luther King and the dream that came true
- Gil Scott-Heron: How Gil Scott-Heron and Stevie Wonder set up Martin Luther King Day (book excerpt)
- Wendi C. Thomas, Commercial Appeal, Memphis: Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy eclipses statue
- Robin Washington, Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune: Honor King — and yourself — with empowerment, not victimhood
Mitt Romney and family (Credit: http://www.orsonprattbrown.com/)
"Mitt Romney may not have officially clinched the Republican nomination, but his victory has never really been in doubt. Nor has his viability in November: the most fanatical Tea Partiers are not about to withhold their votes and risk allowing President Obama to be re-elected," Lee Siegel, author of “Harvard Is Burning,” wrote in the New York Times Sunday Review.
"Pundits have already begun the endless debate over whether Mr. Romney’s wealth and religion are hindrances or assets. But there has yet to be any discussion over the one quality that has subtly fueled his candidacy thus far and could well put him over the top in the fall: his race. The simple, impolitely stated fact is that Mitt Romney is the whitest white man to run for president in recent memory.
"Of course, I’m not talking about a strict count of melanin density. I’m referring to the countless subtle and not-so-subtle ways he telegraphs to a certain type of voter that he is the cultural alternative to America’s first black president. It is a whiteness grounded in a retro vision of the country, one of white picket fences and stay-at-home moms and fathers unashamed of working hard for corporate America."
Separately, "Fox News correspondent Juan Williams drew sustained boos during Monday night's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, following a question to Newt Gingrich about his characterization of the nation's poor," Joy-Ann Reid reported for theGrio.com. "Williams was targeting comments the former House speaker has repeatedly made, saying poor children lack role models for work, and calling President Barack Obama a 'food stamp president.' "
Meanwhile, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman suspended his campaign just a day after The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., endorsed him in South Carolina's Republican presidential primary.
Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that Cindi Scoppe, associate editor of The State, was sanguine about the decision when Guardian reporter Matt Williams reached her by telephone.
Scoppe said "Huntsman's decision has left the newspaper feeling like a spurned lover," the Guardian wrote.
"Scoppe, who penned the endorsement piece on the former Utah governor that was published a day before he dropped out, said: 'It is rather like having gone through a courtship for some period of time and finally making love with a man, for him to suddenly turn around and say, "you know what, I think I'm gay".'
"She said Mitt [Romney] enjoyed South Carolina's largest newspaper's 'implied endorsement' now that Huntsman had dropped out. 'We intended to make clear that Romney was our second choice. But whether we write a formal endorsement or not — we haven't figured it out yet.'
"The editorial piece in praise of Huntsman remained on The State's website Monday, prompting a slew of comments from readers poking fun of the newspaper."
- Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Bitter Politics of Envy?
- Frederick Cosby, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Gingrich Faces Skeptics at Black S.C. Church
- Meryl Gordon, Columbia Journalism Review: Gender Imbalance on the Campaign Trail
- Emil Guillermo blog: From New Hampshire to South Carolina, his bane is Bain: Romney the Sado-Capitalist is truly out of touch
- Elizabeth Llorente, Fox News Latino: Report of Romney Campaigning with Immigration Hawk Draws Fire
- Pablo Manriquez, HuffPost LatinoVoices: It Would Behoove Barack Obama To Immediately Stop Pissing Off Latinos
- Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Not your average candidate
- Ruben Navarrette Jr., syndicated: Danger in the GOP's class divide
- Albor Ruiz, Daily News, New York: Mitt Romney flees from his Mexican roots with tough anti-immigrant stance
- Jack White, theRoot.com: Let's Face It: It's Romney vs. Obama
T.J. Holmes, the former CNN weekend anchor, gave his fans a glimpse of Black Entertainment Television's plans for him during a taping Saturday night of the "BET Honors" show at Washington's Warner Theatre.
In the midst of an all-star lineup that included first lady Michelle Obama, Holmes pitched the importance of voting, telling viewers that in some college towns a driver's license or college student ID were not accepted as valid enough for access to the ballot box.
He wondered aloud about the "coincidence" of new voter ID laws just as President Obama is seeking re-election. Holmes directed his audience to BET's website on voting rights said that after reading it, "vote like your life depended on it."
The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has ruled that South Carolina's voter identification law is discriminatory because it would make voting harder for members of minority groups, who lack sufficient forms of government-approved ID more often than whites do.
BET announced Dec. 7 that it had secured "a multi-platform talent agreement" with Holmes but has not specified his duties. Holmes told theRoot.com he hopes to play "a huge role" in presenting "news coverage about things that matter" to the black community.
Others appearing on the "BET Honors," to be broadcast Monday, Feb. 13, are Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Patti LaBelle, Spike Lee, Maya Angelou, Cicely Tyson, Anthony Henderson, Terence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., members of the Tuskegee Airmen, India.Arie, Common, Jennifer Hudson, John Singleton, L.A. Reid, Kelly Rowland and Nick Cannon.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Tuskegee Airmen before a movie screening of “Red Tails” in the Family Theater of the White House on Friday. The cast and crew were present. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)
The Tuskegee Airmen are receiving another round of honors as the movie "Red Tails" debuts Jan. 20, and some in the news media are doing their part to promote it. The National Association of Black Journalists previewed portions of it at its summer convention.
Tom Joyner, the top syndicated morning radio host, flew to Tuskegee, Ala., Monday to make a speech that saluted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the airmen, and then joined several leaders hosting a screening and panel discussion of "Red Tails." Joyner’s father, Hercules, was part of the Tuskegee Airmen program, and his mother worked in the airmen’s office.
On Friday, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted some of the airmen at a screening of "Red Tails" in the White House.
On Saturday, retired Army general Colin L. Powell was in the "BET Honors" audience as surviving airmen Charles E. McGee and Roscoe Brown were presented a BET "service award."
". . . little screen time has been devoted to the Tuskegee Airmen, the pioneering World War II African-American aviators who fought a two-front battle against the Germans overseas and against racism at home," Julie Hinds wrote in the Detroit Free Press.
- Jennifer H. Cunningham, Daily News, New York: Tuskegee Airman Col. Charles McGee says World War II film "Red Tails" is spot on
- Jenée Desmond-Harris, theRoot.com: George Lucas: Hollywood Rejected Black Cast
- Eugene Kane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Even George Lucas has trouble making a film with lots of black folks in it
- Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: Seeing 'Red' Over Hollywood's Treatment of Blacks
- Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Tuskegee Airmen deserve a better home
- Two Native American academics are trying to learn why the media haven't paid much attention to the "devastation" of Native Americans by type 2 diabetes, Terri Hansen wrote Sunday for Indian Country Today. Dr. Teresa Trumbly Lamsam, Osage, is a University of Kansas visiting associate professor in journalism and social scientist. Her research partner is Rhonda LeValdo, Acoma Pueblo, Haskell Indian Nations University journalism instructor and president of the Native American Journalists Association. As LeValdo "began working with Lamsam, she found herself personally caught up with her research. She kept her diabetic uncle abreast of their findings during their pilot study; the former cross-country and track runner in turn took to reading a book on diabetes and started logging his exercise routine."
- "Subrata De, a senior producer on 'NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,' has been named EP of MSNBC’s 'Andrea Mitchell Reports,' " Chris Ariens reported Sunday for TVNewser. "De . . . has been with NBC News since 1998 and for the last several years as been Williams’ lead producer, traveling with him across the country and around the world."
- Kevin Powell, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based activist, writer and public speaker, is joining theGuardian.com, website of Britain's Guardian newspaper, as a blogger. Powell’s blog, "Made in America," debuted Monday with "Martin Luther King Jr's universal message."
- BET's Centric network ran a crawler Monday falsely announcing the death of former South African prime minister Nelson Mandela. The hoax had been spreading on social media and denounced by the African National Congress. BET officials could not be reached for comment.
- "Protesters in Nigeria are not only angry at their government's New Year's Day decision to eliminate a fuel subsidy — they are also upset about news media coverage of the citizens' movement, dubbed 'Occupy Nigeria,' and have taken their protests to local media outlets," Mohamed Keita wrote Friday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "According to news reports, on Thursday, protesters descended on the studios of at least two prominent broadcasters, the state-run national public broadcaster Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and the private Africa Independent Television (AIT), to demand more balanced coverage."
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