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Journalists Follow Obama to Latin America

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Change of Scene an Opportunity for Spanish-Language Press

Black Reporter in Japan: Coverage With a British Accent

Japanese Newspapers Publish Despite Water, Fuel Outages

Gaddafi Son Says N.Y. Times Journalists Will Be Freed

NABJ Plans Electronic Meeting for Members on Unity

What if Team With the Best Academic Performance Won?

"Uncle Tom" Comment Prompts Debate on "Authenticity" 

Aid Groups Said to Influence Negative Portrayals of Africa

Short Takes

Getting ready for 2008 elections in Nicaragua (Credit: Donkeycart/Flickr)

Change of Scene an Opportunity for Spanish-Language Press

President Obama left Friday night for a five-day trip to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador that creates coverage opportunities for Spanish-language journalists. Traveling with his family, Obama plans to discuss job-creation opportunities, though no new trade agreements are expected.

In a report pegged to the trip, the public-radio show "Latino USA" on Friday described gaping income disparities [audio] in Central American countries and crime approaching narco-state status. In Guatemala, four severed heads were found around the capital, including one on the steps of Congress. In Honduras, despite efforts at democracy, the country is again in military hands.

But those negatives won't be Obama's emphasis, and in the piece, speakers said they did not want to reinforce stereotypes, either.

On Friday night, Miami's WSVN-TV touted, "7's own Lynn Martinez spoke with the President at the White House.

". . . According to The White House, the state of Florida produces billions of dollars in exports to Brazil each year," the station reported. "Last year alone, Florida received over $5 billion from Brazil. 'Part of what it does is send a message not only to the people of South Florida but the United States that our economic future is tied up with the future of Latin America,' Obama said."

Alejandro Manrique, the Associated Press' deputy Latin America editor/Spanish services, told Journal-isms, "We are providing exclusive Spanish-language coverage of the Obama trip using our correspondents in Brazil, Chile and Salvador. The coverage will include set-up pieces on each country; breaking news on the ground (we had a story last night on Chile signing a nuclear agreement with the US); and main bar stories throughout the trip. In addition, we are helping the AP Washington correspondents with background information relevant to the visit, which we are using in our stories. We will also offer a notebook of news items during the President's trip that will be of the interest in the region."

Pedro Rojas, executive editor at the Los Angeles paper La Opinión, said his paper would send Yurna Mekira, who covers the Central American community in Los Angeles, on the El Salvador portion of the trip for the ImpreMedia chain of newspapers, which has nine print publications and 11 online properties, including El Diario-La Prensa in New York. Only El Salvador was chosen, Rojas said, because fewer Latinos in the United States trace their roots to Brazil or Chile.

On Sunday, Univision said, the "Al Punto" program will air a special edition from Brasilia, Brazil, with Jorge Ramos, who is traveling with Obama. "He will analyze the visit with Senator Cristovam Buarque and Francisco Altschul."

". . . Coverage will feature analysis and news reports on all editions of our 'Noticiero Univision' newscasts including on 'Noticiero Univision,' 'Noticiero Univision Edicion Nocturna' and 'Noticiero Univision Fin de Semana.' Additionally we have continuous coverage, recaps and videos on www.UnivisionNoticias.com," a spokeswoman said.

CNN en Español anchor Juan Carlos López will be traveling with Obama, that network said. "The network's crew will travel to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador to offer live shots and periodic reports in throughout CNN en Español's programming."

"Though the United States and Brazil are the two largest democracies and economies in the Western Hemisphere, this trip is unlikely to produce any new trade initiatives," Becky Brittain wrote for cnn.com.

" 'I think you could probably describe this for President Obama as a discovery visit. It's a get-to-know-you trip,' said Stephen Johnson of the bipartisan research group Center for Strategic and International Studies.

". . . First lady Michelle Obama has her own schedule of events for the trip, including a cultural performance by young disadvantaged Brazilians, an education speech in Chile, and a visit with underprivileged El Salvadorans.

"Obama daughters Malia and Sasha are expected to travel with their parents as part of their spring break vacation."

Clive Myrie of the BBC interviews expatriates from Wales at a Japanese refugee camp. (Video)

Black Reporter in Japan: Coverage With British Accent

Black reporters have not been prominent in coverage of the Japan earthquake and tsunami tragedy, though if you tune in to the BBC, you might see Clive Myrie toiling amid the muck. Born in Greater Manchester, he delivers his reports with a British accent.

Myrie filed reports this week from a refugee center in Yamagata, "where people are struggling to find life's essentials, even while searching for loved ones."

His stories have appeared on "BBC World News America," which airs at 7 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times on BBC America, as well as on BBC World News, the BBC's global news channel and online at the U.S. edition of BBC.com/news, where there is a live stream of the BBC's coverage of the disaster in Japan, a BBC spokesman told Journal-isms.

According to his bio, Myrie is the BBC's Europe correspondent, based in Brussels. He was previously based in Paris, Washington, Asia and Los Angeles.

"Born in Bolton, Greater Manchester, Clive was educated at Hayward Grammar School and graduated with an Honours degree in Law from the University of Sussex in 1985," it says.

Like its American cousins, the BBC has struggled with diversity issues.

"The BBC was memorably described as 'hideously white' by Greg Dyke, the former director-general, and has a target of recruiting at least 12.5 per cent of its 23,000 staff from ethnic minorities," the London Telegraph reported in June. "Its own figures show that by January 2009 it had almost reached the goal, with 12 per cent of employees at the publicly-funded broadcaster non-white."

Among African American journalists, Lennox Samuels is filing reports for the Daily Beast/Newsweek.

Japanese Newspapers Publish Despite Water, Fuel Outages

"The devastating earthquake and tsunami, which hit Japan on 11 March 2011, caused major difficulties for several newspapers along the eastern coast of the Tohoku region, which includes the prefectures of Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Yamagata, Miyagi and Fukushima," the International Press Institute reported on Friday.

"Newspaper companies have suffered water and fuel outages and are currently utilizing back-up electric-power generators or have reduced the number of pages to keep publishing. The newspapers Daily Tohoku in Aomori Prefecture, Iwate Nippo in Iwate Prefecture, Yamagata Shimbun in Yamagata Prefecture, Kahoku Shimpo in Miyagi Prefecture and Ibaraki-Shimbun in Ibaragi Prefecture are assisted with page makeup and printing by newspaper companies in neighbouring prefectures with whom they have set up mutual anti-disaster agreements. Four newsprint manufacturing plants in the Tohoku region have stopped operations altogether."

Gaddafi Son Says N.Y. Times Journalists Will Be Freed

"Four New York Times journalists missing in Libya since Tuesday were captured by forces loyal to Col. [Moammar Gaddafi] and will be released, the Libyan leader’s son Seif al-Islam [Gaddafi] told Christiane Amanpour in an ABC News interview early Friday," David Kirkpatrick wrote Friday for the New York Times.

"Like many other Western journalists, the four had entered the rebel-controlled eastern region of Libya over the Egyptian border, without visas, to cover the insurrection against Colonel [Gaddafi].

" 'They entered the country illegally and when the army, when they liberated the city of Ajdabiya from the terrorists and they found her, they arrest her because you know, foreigners in this place,' Mr. [Gaddafi] said, according to the transcript of the interview, which took place shortly after the United Nations Security Council approved military action against Libyan government forces. 'But then they were happy because they found out she is American, not European. And thanks to that, she will be free tomorrow.'

"Mr. [Gaddafi] was apparently referring to Lynsey Addario, a photographer, but Libyan government officials told the State Department on Thursday evening that all four would be released.

"The Libyan government allowed the journalists to call their families on Thursday evening.

"The journalists are Anthony Shadid, The Times’s Beirut bureau chief and a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent; two photographers, Tyler Hicks and Ms. Addario, who have extensive experience in war zones; and a reporter and videographer, Stephen Farrell, who in 2009 was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and rescued by British commandos.

" 'We’re all, families and friends, overjoyed to know they are safe,' said Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times. 'We are eager to have them free and back home.' "

NABJ Plans Electronic Meeting for Members on Unity

Will SuttonThe National Association of Black Journalists scheduled a Tuesday "town meeting" for NABJ members to raise questions about the dispute with its partners in Unity: Journalists of Color.

Meanwhile, Will Sutton, a co-founder who was among those representing NABJ in the Unity partnership with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association, joined other co-founders in responding to a question from Journal-isms on whether he would be willing to mediate or arbitrate the dispute over Unity's finances and governance.

Referring to Juan Gonzalez of NAHJ, Sutton said, "As Juan and I said at UNITY 2008, we need to stop the insanity of separate, annual conventions."

NABJ, the largest of the four associations, is asserting that Unity has grown beyond its original mission and shortchanged NABJ in the process. It has submitted several proposals to reorder the way the proceeds are divided, but it was outvoted at a meeting last weekend, with none of the other partners supporting NABJ.

The "town hall" meeting takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. Scheduled to participate are NABJ President Kathy Times, Treasurer Gregory Lee and Executive Director Maurice Foster. NABJ members may register here.

Responses from Gonzalez, Lloyd LaCuesta of AAJA and Mark Trahant of NAJA were published in Wednesday's column.

In his e-mail response Thursday, Sutton said:

"Clearly, I have great love for NABJ, my 'native' organization, and UNITY, the result of a brainchild I shared with Juan. I have no desire to see . . . NABJ nor UNITY falter and fail.

"I have no desire to see AAJA, NAHJ or NAJA falter and fail.

"As has always been the case, as a coalition, we are stronger with numbers, and even stronger with our commonalities. We've always had differences, and we always will.

"That will never change.

"Never.

"Our strength is in each other.

"There aren't two sides with the recent goings on.

"There are four, and not five.

"UNITY can't be successful as its own, separate organization, or even [as] an umbrella organization. We have to keep revisiting this matter because there are new members to each association, members new to the UNITY concept and philosophies and, most of all, new UNITY leaders.

"That's as it should be.

"Money is at the heart of all kinds of debates, differences and disputes.

"Those who get beyond those difficulties usually look at what brought them together in the first place, recall the good times, focus on what does work and can work and proceed to find solutions and longer-term, practical terms. Those who do not cause breakups.

"As Juan and I said at UNITY 2008, we need to stop the insanity of separate, annual conventions. Maybe our specific idea of having a UNITY convention every two years wasn't the best, most practical suggestion. But show me any one association that thinks that it can survive with an annual solo convention each and every year now and for the next 10 years and I submit that it isn't being realistic.

"We can combine our efforts and resources with each other, like-minded journalism associations. Or we can combine with groups that are like us culturally and ethnically but not professionally. If I must choose, I choose to combine efforts with journalism organizations with like minds, objectives and philosophies.

"I am supportive of NABJ, and UNITY. I'm supportive of AAJA, NAHJ and NAJA. As always, I'm here to encourage, help and support. I have not tried to run NABJ or UNITY, and I won't. If asked, I will do what I can, within reason."

Butler forward Matt Howard hit a layup with less than a second remaining to lift Butler to a 60-58 victory over Old Dominion in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship on Thursday. The win advanced the Bulldogs to the third round of the tournament on Saturday. (Credit: Butler University)

What if Team With the Best Academic Performance Won?

"As March Madness kicks into high gear, we will at times see the best of college athletics: good sportsman[or woman!]ship, team work, laser-like focus," Olga Pierce wrote Thursday for ProPublica. "But there is also a seedier underside where schools recruit players who are not academically prepared, let them play while turning a blind eye to their scholastic progress, and may eventually turn them loose with no diploma or prospects to show for their hard work.

"Academic reform efforts by the NCAA have identified men's basketball as being most prone to such abuses and poor academic performance, with shockingly low graduation rates for many teams and enormous racial disparities even among members of the same team, as Education Secretary Arnie Duncan, a former basketball player himself, pointed out in a Washington Post op-ed this morning.

" 'Colleges and universities need to stop trotting out tired excuses for basketball teams with poor academic records and indefensible disparities in the graduation rates of white and black players,' Duncan wrote."

Pierce’s article noted: "We've decided to create the first annual ProPublica NCAA Tournament Bracket, where the teams with best academic performance win. We created it via the New York Times' handy bracket feature. Relying on academic scores results in a somewhat unlikely projected champion: Butler University. (We're not the only ones who have had this idea: Inside Higher Ed has done their own academic performance-driven bracket. . . . And we should emphasize, they've been doing it for years.)"

"Uncle Tom" Comment Prompts Debate on "Authenticity"

"Jalen Rose grew up poor in Detroit, the son of single mom Jalen Roseand an NBA player he never met. He helped transform basketball culture as a member of Michigan's iconic Fab Five team, then earned more than $100 million as a pro baller," Jesse Washington, the Associated Press' race relations reporter, wrote on Friday.

"Grant Hill came up wealthy in the D.C. suburbs, the child of an NFL running back married to a corporate consultant. He helped establish Duke University as a paragon of success and virtue in college basketball, then overcame terrible injuries to enjoy a long NBA career.

"So which one is the 'authentic' black man?

"The question may seem irrelevant. But when Rose said that he considered black Duke players like Hill 'Uncle Toms' when he was a teenager, he exposed a sensitive and longstanding issue for many African-Americans: If blacks succeed in a white man's world, and do not conform to certain assumptions of how blacks should act, are they less black?

"Rose's comment — aired Tuesday in an ESPN documentary Rose produced on the five black Michigan freshmen who rode their wave of talent, hip-hop style and trash talk to the 1992 championship game — inspired to a response from Hill on The New York Times website. Hill's riposte spent several days atop the Times' most-emailed list, and more than 96,000 people shared it on Facebook, stoking a free-wheeling debate on the Web and in print over which basketball star had the better point."

Aid Groups Said to Influence Negative Portrayals of Africa

"And now for some good news out of Africa," Karen Rothmyer wrote for the March/April issue of the Columbia Journalism Review.

"Poverty rates throughout the continent have been falling steadily and much faster than previously thought, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. The death rate of children under five years of age is dropping, with 'clear evidence of accelerating rates of decline,' according to The Lancet. Perhaps most encouragingly, Africa is 'among the world’s most rapidly growing economic regions,' according to the McKinsey Quarterly.

"Yet US journalism continues to portray a continent of unending horrors. Last June, for example, Time magazine published graphic pictures of a naked woman from Sierra Leone dying in childbirth. Not long after, CNN did a story about two young Kenyan boys whose family is so poor they are forced to work delivering goats to a slaughterhouse for less than a penny per goat. Reinforcing the sense of economic misery, between May and September 2010 the ten most-read US newspapers and magazines carried 245 articles mentioning poverty in Africa, but only five mentioning gross domestic product growth.

"Reporters’ attraction to certain kinds of Africa stories has a lot to do with the frames of reference they arrive with.

". . . But the main reason for the continued dominance of such negative stereotypes, I have come to believe, may well be the influence of Western-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international aid groups like United Nations agencies. These organizations understandably tend to focus not on what has been accomplished but on convincing people how much remains to be done. As a practical matter, they also need to attract funding. Together, these pressures create incentives to present as gloomy a picture of Africa as possible in order to keep attention and money flowing, and to enlist journalists in disseminating that picture."

Short Takes

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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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Comments

  Of late in the terrain

  Of late in the terrain of social commentary and punditry there has been a resurgence of the topic of internal racial themes within Black America. One of the themes has been the discussion of class and Black personalities like the Uncle Tom aka the modern day Black Apologist.

Any candid discourse and examination of race within the Black community must be viewed from the platform of minority and majority themes. Black Americans are a distinct cultural minority collective in a white nation that suffered through one of America's domestic holocausts.

The saga of the Black Uncle Tom shares a shelf life with White racism in our nation it is a pathological scar, obstacle and part of the cultural dna that still wounds and inflicts to many even in the post racial era of America. The narrative of an Uncle Tom does not exist in America without slavery and the pathology of white racism I am offended when Black journalists and pundits avoid this truth..

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