Obama Courts Black Journalists, Bloggers
Monday, October 11, 2010
Present at the White House were 20 African Americans working on the Web, including representatives of theRoot.com, Black Entertainment Television, Essence, Jack & Jill Politics, City Limits, Concrete Loop, AOL Black Voices, Black America Web and even the gossipy MediaTakeOut. (Credit: White House.)
President Obama stopped by a "black online summit" at the White House Monday as part of an outreach to African American journalists and bloggers before the midterm elections, an effort that includes the Democratic National Committee spending what it calls an unprecedented $3 million to reach the most loyal part of Obama's base, African American voters.
"I thought the meeting was great in that it showed that President Obama and his administration are taking black new media and our growing influence seriously," David A. Wilson, managing editor of theGrio.com, told Journal-isms via e-mail.
"They outlined how the administration's policies have had a positive effect on the African-American community and they invited us to make suggestions on how they could work better with us and provide us with more access to the White House.
"I also thought the summit provided a great opportunity for all of us leading the charge in [the] black new media movement to get together in a way that I haven't seen since we started theGrio last year."
However, Leutisha Stills, who blogs at Jack & Jill Politics, cautioned, "The summit was a good one and very comprehensive, but we made it known that if we really have 'influence,' we are going to test drive it and see how many more invites we get from the White House."
The Columbus Day session lasted from 9:15 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett present along with specialists from various parts of the administration, including the first lady's office. Among the 20 African Americans working on the Web were representatives of theRoot.com, Black Entertainment Television, Essence, Jack & Jill Politics, City Limits, Concrete Loop, AOL Black Voices, Black America Web and even the gossipy MediaTakeOut.
Monday's session is to be followed Friday by a presidential meeting with 10 members of the Trotter Group of African American columnists. Moreover, six or seven African American bloggers were credentialed for Obama's rally in Philadelphia last Sunday, although invitations were extended to about 20.
"As Obama has steadily increased his outreach to African American voters over the past month, with interviews and campaign stops targeted at the black community — 'our community,' as the president likes to say — he has sent a clear signal that this election is about him and his record," Carol E. Lee and Abby Phillip wrote for Politico.
Derrick L. Plummer, regional press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, told Journal-isms via e-mail, "Between now and Nov. 2nd the Democratic Party and the President will continue to speak with and engage the African American community about why this election [is] so important and the clear choice we face."
Referring to Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Plummer said, "Chairman Kaine will continue to speak with AfAm media print, online national radio outlets/hosts."
Obama has appeared on six or seven radio shows that target African Americans, including those hosted by Warren Ballentine, Russ Parr, Doug Parks, Joe Madison and Tom Joyner.
"The DNC’s $3 million AfAm paid advertising investment in a midterm election is unprecedented. In addition to AfAm paid advertising, we’ll make a significant investment in Latino advertising and continue our contributions to coordinated campaigns in every key state — most of the work of which is devoted to base voters," Plummer said.
"In addition, the DNC this morning started running a radio ad nationally and regionally featuring civil rights icon Rev. Joseph Lowery in which he calls upon young people of all ages to vote because in '2008 we changed the guard…this year, we must guard the change.'
Audio of Lowery ad
"Since Labor Day the DNC has been running radio and/or print and online advertising — the earliest we have ever done so — and will continue to run ads through Election Day.
"Because of record fundraising the DNC, is looking into the possibility of television advertisements as well."
Kevin S. Lewis, director, African American media for the White House, told Journal-isms via e-mail, "The online summit provided a space for an in-depth, off-the-record dialogue with new media professionals on how the Obama Administration is approaching pressing issues like jobs, the economy, health care, education, and community investment, through the 'New Foundation' platform. The summit also served as a space to discuss how we can build on our efforts to further engage the online community."
It was Lewis' first official day on the job. Lewis, 27, was a press assistant in the White House press office and worked in that role during the presidential campaign. He succeeds Corey A. Ealons, who joined a Washington public relations firm last month.
"Everything that was said was either on background or totally off the record, so I can't reveal as much as I'd like," Cord Jefferson, a writer with theRoot.com, told Journal-isms, "but I think it was quite productive. In my estimation, any time the media sits down and talks with an administration — as long as neither side is guaranteeing anything to the other — is time well spent.
"I'll also say that just bringing together black web outlets to the White House, just sitting them down and saying, 'We respect your mission,' is a huge step. We met President Obama today. It's difficult to imagine a black web summit even taking place in the Bush White House, let alone a black web summit that would have seen President Bush stop by. It's not like we saw any major reforms take place in that room today, but we did see progress."
- Charles M. Blow, New York Times: What’s Dumb, Really?
- Stanley Crouch, New York Daily News: Obama could lose a little of his cool: Seriously, why are Lil Wayne and Jay Z on President's iPod?
- Merlene Davis, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: Churches take the lead in voter education
- Jarvis DeBerry, New Orleans Times-Picayune: Voting your values? Do you know what they are?
- Joel Dreyfuss, theRoot.com: Obama Reaches Out to African-American Voters
- Bob Herbert, New York Times: The Campaign Disconnect
- Carol E. Lee and Abby Phillip, Politico: With black voters, Barack Obama gets personal
- Stephen Miller, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: Report finds little FOIA improvement under Obama
- Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Commission should clear up Wall Street meltdown
- Edward Schumacher-Matos, Miami Herald: 'Obamacare' wrong choice for headline
- Leutisha Stills ("The Christian Progressive Liberal"), Jack & Jill Politics: African-American Online Summit at the White House
- Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Obamacare does not violate the US Constitution
- Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Voters dislike "government," like what it does
- Devona Walker, TheLoop21: Has the Obama backlash fueled more workplace discrimination?
Ousted CNN anchor Rick Sanchez said Monday that in his now-notorious comments to a satellite radio station, "I argued inartfully that all of us are capable of being prejudiced whether we are Jewish, African American, Asian or Hispanic."
Some media reports called his original statement anti-Semitic or asserted that Sanchez claimed that Jews "control" or "run" the media. Asked in a Washington Post online chat whether the media's coverage of his comments was fair, Sanchez replied, "I can't control what people write or say. All I can do is make myself available to anyone who wants to talk to me and hear my message because I have absolutely nothing to hide."
He also said, "I am flattered by the number of calls that my representatives have received about my future employment. Then I will sit down with my representatives and comb through any of those possibilities."
In a Sept. 30 interview for a satellite radio show promoting a new book, Sanchez excoriated late-night comedian Jon Stewart for hailing from a middle-class background that Sanchez said made Stewart unable to "relate to a guy like me." Sanchez went on to answer a question about whether Stewart, as a Jew, shouldn't also be considered a member of an oppressed minority group.
His response was: "I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they — the people in this country who are Jewish — are an oppressed minority? Yeah.' "
- Keli Goff and Michael Medved with Howard Kurtz on CNN's "Reliable Sources": Sanchez Apologizes for Comments
Jacqueline Guzmán-García, the student board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists who was removed because she was not a full-time student, wrote her fellow students Thursday, "I was constantly accused of being dishonest, liar, disrespectful, ignorant and other derogatory words by board members, just because I decided to stand for myself."
The board of directors of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists voted 9-0 to immediately remove Guzmán-García after she had served for three months, association President Michele Salcedo wrote on Oct. 1.
Guzmán-García told her fellow students, "From the beginning of this situation only two board members treated me with respect and did not attack me like many of the others. Thank you to board members Patricio Espinoza and Rebecca Aguilar for trying to figure out a way to work things out and for being fair."
The NAHJ board acknowledged that it was responsible for allowing Guzmán-García on the ballot when she was attending California State University, Northridge part time, not full time as the bylaws require. She defeated two other candidates.
Salcedo's message to members said, "As a result of today’s action, for the first time since 2002, students will not have a voice on the national board. We are considering several options to mitigate this void, including establishing a student affairs committee."
Guzman wrote, "I guess at the end it does not matter how much of a good asset you are, how much you can contribute to the organization and no matter how much recognition you have for being an excellent student, just for being a part-time student you DO NOT have the opportunity to ever hold a seat in the board members according to the bylaws.
"I believe that is unfair because many times we do not choose to be part-timers, situations like budget cuts, education system, money issues, expensive tuition, job-conflicts with classes, personal problems, etc. prevent us from being full-time students.
"I do think amendments should be made, because we represent 40% of the total membership. I think we should start making our voices be heard and speak for what we believe is the right thing to do."
"Laura Ling, who was detained in North Korea with a colleague from Current TV last year, is restarting her television career at a channel much closer to home — E!, the entertainment channel," Brian Stelter wrote Monday for the New York Times.
"Laura Ling, who was held in North Korea, will cover teenage suicide and other topics. Ms. Ling has been hired to host 'E! Investigates,' a series of hourlong programs that will take on a harder edge. Her first two programs will explore the causes of teenage suicide and the lives of military wives.
"Ted Harbert, the chief executive of Comcast Entertainment Group, said E! was trying the 'serious side of pop culture.' "
"Since 2006, when Latina Lista officially blossomed from a blog into a site that offered a full buffet of original editorial content supplied, in part, by generous contributors, it has always been the goal of one day paying these writers and reporters for their work," Marisa Treviño wrote Friday on her Latina Lista site.
"It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago when I was invited to participate in a special gathering of other like-minded New Media entrepreneurs that I learned of one way to help pay contributors what they deserve for all their hard work.
"It's a site called Spot.us and the idea is that this site helps fundraise money to pay a writer for a story. The process involves pitching a story, getting it approved, setting up a fundraising goal and then spreading the word to try to raise the necessary money to meet that goal.
"At the same time, I learned about Spot.us, I was approached by a Philadelphia-based freelance multimedia reporter named Gustavo Martinez. For the past two years, he had been following the case of four teenagers accused in the unprovoked attack and murder of an undocumented immigrant named Luis Eduardo Ramírez Zavala in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania in July of 2008.
"Gustavo wanted to cover the hate crime trial of the two teens who had been acquitted of third-degree murder in a previous trial but whom witnesses had testified had killed Ramirez Zavala.
"To cover the trial, Gustavo would have to temporarily relocate to Scranton where the federal trial would take place. His coverage of the trial not only included writing daily posts in both English and Spanish about the day's proceedings, but also creating bilingual podcasts, as well as, twittering about it.
"He wanted to know if Latina Lista would collaborate with him. As one of the first cases in the country of an unwarranted attack on a defenseless undocumented immigrant, I was more than willing to collaborate with Gustavo. Yet if ever there was a time to explore ways of how to pay a reporter for their work, it was now.
"So, we pitched the story to Spot.us and it was accepted.
"Waiting for justice for the murder of an undocumented immigrant has, as of this writing, raised $90.00. Our goal is $750.00."
- Joe McDonald, Hazleton (Pa.) Standard Speaker: Jury in Shenandoah hate crime case hears racist music
- Cord Jefferson, theRoot.com: Why I'll Continue to Say 'Illegal Immigrant'
- Gustavo Martínez Contreras, Latina Lista: Shenandoah Hate Crime Trial Day 4: Metal, tattoos and a cover-up
"After a dozen-plus years as a news anchor at WGNO-Channel 26, Liz Reyes faced the future in August 2009 minus a job," Dave Walker wrote Saturday in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
" 'The bottom line is, I didn't stop,' Reyes said. '"And I think sometimes when you're faced with adversity in life, it's easy just to give up. It's how you react to adversity that determines where you go next.'
"Reyes reacted by stocking a personal website with video stories — profiles of local chefs, musicians and newsmakers, all still archived at www.LizReyes.com — that she reported both before and after her WGNO departure. She also remained active in some of the charitable causes she'd adopted as a TV-news anchor. . . .
"Reyes also worked as a media-relations staffer on John Georges' unsuccessful campaign for New Orleans mayor, an experience she said will prove helpful in her newsgathering tasks going forward. . . .
" 'At one point or another, anyone should volunteer to go behind the scenes and see how a campaign works. At the end of the day, we're all affected by who's elected.
" 'The media ... tells it in a way almost as if you're watching a race at the track.
" 'There are so many layers that don't get covered.' "
NBC News correspondent Ron Allen, just back from Sierra Leone, writes that in African countries he is "constantly reminded of the fact that, even though I'm black, I stick out like a sore thumb.
"While in Sierra Leone for example, often when driving through the streets, we would hear people yell out the local term for 'white people,' even though our entire team was black. Clearly, the way we looked represented something to them, that went much deeper than skin color.
"On the other hand, there have been times when blackness helped me blend in. In Somalia, where I spent months and months during the U.S. led invasion in the 1990's, many were convinced I was a Somali because of my features and skin tone," Allen wrote for theGrio.com
"There also was the time in Rwanda, when I was mistaken for being a local member of the Tutsi tribe. Very unfortunate, because Tutsis, you'll remember, were the target of the country's genocide. Fortunately, I happened to be in an armored United Nations vehicle. The soldiers slammed the door shut at the checkpoint, and drove off under a hail of rocks, insults and a few bullets.
"Overall, over the years, I've felt very deeply for many of the people I've met, enduring poverty and deprivation so much more extreme than in America. I always will remember a famine victim in Sudan, a man who had become a skin and bones skeleton of a person. He was an English teacher, who was able to tell us very clearly how he and his fellow villagers had arrived in this circumstance, victims of the country's epic civil war, making their way to a U.N. food center desperate for something to eat. I've been deeply moved by so many people we've met caught up in war, not the soldiers, the residents. I think a lot of people don't realize the fact that, war rarely happens on distant battlefields. It usually happens in neighborhoods, villages, right where families live, and innocents often die.
"Do I feel more deeply, because I'm African-American and so many of the victims are black like me? Perhaps. But I've met, and told stories about people in desperate circumstances all around the world that also were deeply moving. The wars in Bosnia and across the Balkans were especially horrible for civilians. I certainly do wish we, the media, paid more attention to Africa, and the developing world in general."
Two months after Pacifica Radio officials ousted the interim general manager of its Washington outlet, WPFW-FM, the station is conducting an extended pledge drive and warning listeners that, as one host said Saturday, the station is in a "very dire situation."
"We're in dire straits and it could make the difference between being on and off the air," another host, Nancy Alonzo, host of the "Latin Flavor," said on the air Sunday.
With a 17-day pledge drive, the station is seeking to raise $350,000, Robert West, the business manager and interim general manager, told Journal-isms on Monday. "Listener support dropped significantly" over the last year, he said, but "rent, electricity, things like that keep going up. We haven't been able to pay certain vendors," and WPFW has been "reducing man-hours at the station." The staff numbers 12.
Station Manager Grigsby Hubbard and Program Director Bob Daughtry were given the axe Aug. 12 during the D.C. visit of Pacifica Foundation Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt.
West, whom Engelhardt had named interim general manager, reinstated Daughtry, a former general manager at Pacifica's WBAI in New York.
West said candidates for general manager had been vetted and interviewed. All are external candidates, he said.
A woman who identified herself as a 90-year-old from Naples, Fla., called C-Span's "Washington Journal" and asked for the "colored man." She wanted to know why "colored people" complain so much and are not more grateful. C-Span host Robb Harleston played it straight. (Video)
- "One in five journalists still do not have 'essential' multimedia skills and news organisations need to do more to motivate staff, the researchers behind a Poynter Institute News University study said today," Rachel McAthy reported Sunday for journalism.co.uk. "Discussing the results of the survey at the World Editors Forum, Howard Finberg, director of the Interactive Learning & News University, said while journalists assessed that their own proficiency had significantly increased, more than one in five still do not feel they have the 'essential' skills to go forward." The conference took place in Hamburg, Germany.
- At the Society of Professional Journalists convention just concluded in Las Vegas, the Native American Journalists Association and SPJ agreed to work together. SPJ plans to conduct either a half-day workshop, a plenary session or both at the NAJA conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., next July 13-17, Jeff Harjo, NAJA executive director, told Journal-isms on Monday.
- Sports commentator Stephen A. Smith says he wishes the best for William A. Marimow, the Philadelphia Inquirer editor who was demoted to reporter last week under the paper's new owners. Marimow kept Smith out of the paper for two years after demoting him from sports columnist to general assignment reporter. Smith, backed by the Newspaper Guild and eventually an arbitrator, refused to accept the demotion. Smith's $225,000 a year was too much money, Marimow said. Smith left the paper in June. "In this day and time, it's never good to hear any kind of bad news about anyone. That includes Bill Marimow," Smith told Journal-isms by e-mail on Tuesday. "Regardless of what differences we may have had, it's clear that whatever he elected to do was what he honestly felt was in the best interest of the Philadelphia Inquirer. At the end of the day, we parted ways on amicable terms. I'm incredibly grateful for my 16 years at the paper. I'm grateful we parted on good terms, as well, which has brought me much-needed peace. I wish nothing but the best for Marimow and his family. Just as important, I wish nothing but the best for the Philadelphia Inquirer. My gratitude to the paper will never wane." [Oct. 12]
- The Washington Post's decision not to run a "Non Sequitur" comic that mentioned the prophet Muhammad "can be seen as timid," ombudsman Andrew Alexander wrote on Sunday. Creator Wiley Miller drew a bucolic scene imitating the best-selling children's book "Where's Waldo?" but with the caption, "Where's Muhammad?" "Miller's cartoon is clearly a satirical reference to the global furor that ensued in 2006 after a Danish newspaper invited cartoonists to draw the prophet Muhammad as they see him. After the cartoons were published, Muslims in many countries demonstrated against what they viewed as the lampooning of Islam's holiest figure," Alexander explained.
- Bolivia has approved a law against racism that says "news media can be fined or have their licence suspended if they 'endorse or publish racist or discriminatory ideas,' " Reporters Without Borders said on Monday. "Reporters Without Borders had recommended amending the article so that it would apply only to media 'that explicitly defend racism or discrimination.' " The Associated Press reported last week that, "Most major Bolivian newspapers are protesting a government-backed racism bill with front pages that are blank except for the words: 'There is no democracy without freedom of expression.' "
- Erik Wemple, editor of the hyperlocal website TBD, told Journal-isms in July, "Faced with a choice between hiring copy editors or reporters . . . we went with the latter. We'll leave it to you and others to judge how smart an idea that was." TBD has run this correction to a Friday posting from Amanda Hess: "This blog post originally stated that one in three black men who have sex with me is HIV positive. In fact, the statistic applies to black men who have sex with men."
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. 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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