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Obama Talk Draws Kudos, 30 Million Viewers

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tucson Address Compared With Other Historic Moments

Blacks, Latinos Favor Gun Control Over Right to Own Guns

Smiley: Media Give Palin More Attention Than She Deserves

Sporting News to Take Control of AOL FanHouse

On TV, Last Years of King's Life "Flushed Down a Memory Hole"

Cherokee Judge Grants Tribal Rights to Freedmen

Yes, Whites Are Members of Journalist-of-Color Associations

Diversity Concerns Voiced After Philly Reorganization

Short Takes

President Obama's speech was carried Wednesday night on seven networks: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, according to Broadcasting & Cable. C-SPAN also aired it. (Video

Tucson Address Compared With Other Historic Moments

"President Obama won nearly universal praise from leading political pundits and writers after Wednesday night's speech at the Arizona memorial for victims of the Tucson shooting, with several pointing out the contrast between it and Sarah Palin's video response to the shooting attack, which she released that morning on Facebook and which played repeatedly on cable news," Michael Calderone wrote Thursday for Yahoo News.

" 'The president hit all the right notes and had exactly the right tone,' said former 'Nightly News' anchor Tom Brokaw on MSNBC, shortly after the speech ended. 'This is always a test of a presidency. We've been witness to it in our lifetime and through the course of American history.'

"Brokaw ranked Obama's words with several moving presidential speeches that followed national tragedies, such those from Franklin Roosevelt (the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941), Ronald Reagan (the 1986 Challenger disaster), Bill Clinton (the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing) and George W. Bush (9/11). 'So, tonight,' Brokaw said, 'the president stepped into that role, and [offered] remarks that were tempered and memorable and comforting to those listening on television across the country but also in that hall.'

"There was some criticism of the speech. Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said that, at 30 minutes, the speech went too 'long and it did, in parts, lecture.' Others said the tone was off, with the event appearing at times more like a campaign rally than memorial. Still, the majority of political commentators on air, from Democratic supporters to a few of Obama's fiercest critics, praised the president's speech."

More than 30 million viewers tuned to watch Obama's remarks, according to the Nielsen Co., Andrea Morabito reported for Broadcasting & Cable.

"Obama's address was carried live from approximately 8:45-9:15 p.m. on seven networks: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC." C-SPAN also aired it.

"Coverage of the speech earned a 19.4 household rating/31 share. Compared to presidential speeches of 2010, that rating and viewership number topped Obama's address on Iraq on Aug. 31 which drew an audience of 29 million, and is just shy of the 32 million who tuned his Jun. 15 talk about the Gulf Coast oil spill. Both of those speeches were carried on 11 networks."


Blacks, Latinos Favor Gun Control Over Right to Own Guns

Blacks and Hispanics rank the right to control gun ownership over protection of the right to own guns (PDF), the Pew Research Center reported in a recap of public opinion on gun control. Non-Hispanic whites rank the right to own guns higher.

In September, Pew asked, "What do you think is more important — to protect the right of Americans to own guns, OR to control gun ownership?"

Among whites, 54 percent answered the right to own guns, compared with 42 percent who said "to control gun ownership." Among non-Hispanic blacks, 30 percent said the right to own guns, compared with more than double — 66 percent — for controlling gun ownership. Only 21 percent of Hispanics favored the right to own guns, compared with 75 percent who said controlling gun ownership.

"Opinion about gun control has been split since April 2009, but this marked a substantial change in attitudes from previous years," Pew said. "From 1993 through 2008, majorities of Americans consistently prioritized gun control over gun rights, with a particular uptick in support for gun control following the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 (a few months after that incident 62% said controlling gun ownership was more important than protecting gun rights). More recently, just a few days after the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, 60% said gun control was more important.

"There are substantial demographic differences of opinion on this issue, including by gender, race, party and geography."

Reuters reported, "On the Monday after the latest of the bloody rampages that are part of American life, gun sales in Arizona shot up by more than 60 percent and rose by an average of five percent across the entire country. The figures come from the FBI and speak volumes about a gun culture that has long baffled much of the world."

Smiley: Media Give Palin More Attention Than She Deserves

Sarah Palin took heat this week first for having posted a map with the cross hairs of a gun scope imposed over each of 20 Democrats' congressional districts, including that of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat who was shot over the weekend, and then for including an obscure anti-Semitic reference to "blood libel" in a nearly eight-minute video responding to the criticism that she shared blame for the shooting rampage.

On Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!, host Amy Goodman played an excerpt of Palin's video for broadcaster and activist Tavis Smiley, who was promoting his "America’s Next Chapter" panel discussion that took place later on Thursday, and was televised on C-Span.

"I think, quite frankly, Sarah Palin gets far too much media attention in the first place. I never waste time on my show discussing Sarah Palin — TV or radio," Smiley replied. "And I’m glad you played the clip; I’m not saying that to cast aspersion on you in this moment. In this moment, that is, Sarah Palin ought to be wrestled with. But she gets so much more attention than she absolutely deserves on our national media, for reasons I quite frankly don’t understand. I don’t take her seriously as a candidate, don’t take her pronouncements seriously. And this is really all about a branding effort for Sarah Palin, and she’s making a lot of money doing it. I ain’t mad at her for that. American enterprise is thriving in this country; she’s taking full advantage of it."

Smiley went on to say, "There’s so much blame to go around here, starting with our elected officials," and continuing with the media.

"But worse yet, the American people. I believe, Amy, that hate is spreading fastest in this country on the Internet. And there are no civility police. There are no fact checkers. You can say anything. You can put anything out there. You can do it anonymously; you can be cowardly about it."

Smiley's panel discussion was a model of multiculturalism that the Sunday talk shows could learn from — panelists included John S. Chen, chairman of Committee of 100; Maria Bartiromo, anchor of CNBC’s "Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo"; Cornel West, Princeton University professor and author; David Frum, speechwriter for former president George W. Bush; Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post; Dana Milbank, political columnist for the Washington Post; David Brody, CBN News White House correspondent; and Maria Teresa Kumar, executive director/co-founder, Voto Latino.

Sporting News to Take Control of AOL FanHouse

Garry D. Howard

"Sporting News’s reinvention as a Web property continued Thursday with a deal to license the AOL FanHouse name and take editorial control of its content. Financial terms were not disclosed," Richard Sandomir reported Friday for the New York Times.

"Jeff Price, the president and publisher of Sporting News, said that it was looking at broadening its national profile by retaining some of FanHouse’s columnists — a group that includes Kevin Blackistone, Lisa Olson and Terence Moore — but did not say how many reporters would be kept." Others on the roster are black journalists David Steele and Thomas George, giving AOL FanHouse one of the most diverse array of columnists in the online sports world.

" 'We’re focusing on those national voices that created a differentiation,' Price said.

"Tim Armstrong, the chairman and chief executive of AOL, estimated that two dozen of around 40 FanHouse employees would probably be laid off. AOL will continue to produce local sports coverage, which fits into Armstrong’s strategic shift from e-mail to content."

Garry D. Howard, who started last week as editor-in-chief of the Sporting News, told Journal-isms Friday, "Diversity is a major part of our strategy and will be taken into serious consideration when we absorb a number of AOL’s national columnists.

"With editorial control resting here in Charlotte with the Sporting News, we have a great opportunity to enhance our brand from a diversity standpoint, something I take very seriously.

"All in all, a great deal for Sporting News and AOL."

Howard had no comment when asked about the absorption of AOL writers who are not columnists.

A 28-foot statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is scheduled to be unveiled in Washington on Aug. 28, the 48th anniversary of the day King gave his "I have a dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial. (Credit:

On TV, King's Last Years "Flushed Down a Memory Hole"

"It's become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of Martin Luther King's birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about 'the slain civil rights leader,' " Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon wrote Friday for the progressive media-watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting.

"The remarkable thing about this annual review of King's life is that several years — his last years — are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.

"What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

"An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn't take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.

"Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they're not shown today on TV.


"It's because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King, Jr., stood for during his final years.

". . . after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without 'human rights' — including economic rights.

". . . By 1967, King had also become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic."

Cherokee Judge Grants Tribal Rights to Freedmen

Beneficiaries of ruling: Sam Ford, left, and Kenneth J. Cooper"A Cherokee Nation District Court judge granted tribal citizenship to about 2,800 non-Indian freedmen Friday," Gavin Off reported for the Tulsa (Okla.) World.

"Freedmen, who are typically African Americans and descendants of slaves, had been denied citizenship in a 2007 amendment to the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation.

"Judge John Cripps overturned that amendment and cited the tribe’s 1866 treaty with the United States, which stated freedmen had all the rights of native Cherokees."

Black journalists Sam Ford and Kenneth J. Cooper discussed their Cherokee roots at the 2007 convention of the National Association of Black Journalists and at the 2008 Unity conference, respectively, at panels moderated by this columnist.

"I think the heat was getting to be too much for them and they decided to overturn it themselves," Ford, a reporter for WJLA-TV in Washington, told Journal-isms on Friday, speaking of the Cherokees. Ford was born in Southeastern Kansas and put together a documentary, "Black Slaves, Red Masters" that aired on WJLA in 1991.

Ford said he had voted in the tribal election against Chad Smith, the Cherokees' principal chief who favored removing Ford and the other Freedmen descendants from the tribe. "At least I can feel half way decent about contributing to Cherokee cultural nonprofits now," Ford said via e-mail.

Cooper, a Boston-based freelance writer and former national editor at the Boston Globe, cautioned that "it ain't over, and not just because the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is considering an appeal. There is also a federal lawsuit filed by Cherokee freedmen descendants pending in Washington, DC. I believe that court will rule the same way. I am pleased that a Cherokee judge recognizes there is no ambiguity in the treaty of 1866, which says the freedmen and their descendants 'shall have all the rights of native Cherokees.' In legalese, 'shall' means 'must,' " he said by e-mail.

"I want the federal court to rule before I apply for Cherokee citizenship. My great grandmother is on the Dawes rolls as a Freedman, though she believed she also had Cherokee blood. My Freedmen ancestors have been jerked around the Cherokee Nation since 1870 — now you have citizenship, now you don't. I'm not going for that. I want a final determination to an issue that has been going back and forth for 140 years."

The Tulsa World explained in July: "The freedmens' descendants had obtained tribal membership before Cherokees voted in 2007 to restrict Cherokee citizenship by excluding people whose ancestors were not listed on the Dawes Rolls as having a percentage of American Indian blood.

"The Dawes Rolls, which the U.S. government created in 1893 to allot land to members of the Five Civilized Tribes, contained several categories, including citizenship by blood and freedmen. A Cherokee court ruled in 2006 that descendants on the freedmen roll were eligible for tribal citizenship, but only the 'by blood' rolls were recognized after the election."

Yes, Whites Are Members of Journalist-of-Color Associations

Doris Truong and Joe Grimm"Last week, just as we were closing a Poynter chat with Doris Truong, new president of the Asian American Journalists Association, a participant asked this:," Joe Grimm wrote Wednesday in his "Ask the Recruiter" column for the Poynter Institute

" 'Great info here but can non-minority journalists participate in all those associations? It’s silly but I can’t help feeling a little left out bc there’s no "European mutt of questionable descent" org.'

"This is a great question that deserves its own column, if only because a lot of people are unsure about the way to ask the question in a politically correct way. This way is fine.

"The answer, in one word, is 'yes.' All of these associations have members that do not belong to the racial or ethnic groups in the title.

"This is how Truong responded, after the chat was over (you can read an archived version of it):

" 'I hope I speak for all journalism organizations when I say that anyone who believes in the group’s mission is welcome to join. How much you get out of your membership in large part depends on you. It’s important be to be an engaged member — looking for opportunities to tap into what the groups offer.

" 'The ethnic journalism groups share and promote a cultural kinship, but we aim to be inclusive. And when it comes down to it, each group shares the same goal: better journalism. Better journalism can be achieved only with diversity of ideas and experience as well as diversity of color. Also, many of the non-ethnic journalism groups are working to change the complexion of their membership.

" 'You’re very welcome to join AAJA, and I would be happy to talk with you further about what our organization offers that would be best suited to where you are in your career.' "

Grimm continued, "Recruiting has led me to join many organizations — including all the big minority organizations — although I am not a minority. I have made friends in all of them and have been active, although I have decided on my own to refrain from voting. Some of the most welcoming organizations have been the ones where, to look at me, you would say I don’t fit in. . . ."

Diversity Concerns Voiced After Philly Reorganization

A day after the new owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News named Michael Days as managing editor of the Inquirer and Sandy Clark as deputy managing editor of features and operations, the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists wrote the owners that they had "assembled a stellar team under the leadership of editor Stan Wischnowski" but that the association "is also concerned about the overall lack of diversity at the papers."

"Days’ departure leaves the Daily News without a person of color among its management staff," Sarah J. Glover, president of the association, wrote Greg Osberg, chief executive officer and publisher of the Philadelphia Media Network.

"It is our hope that the Philadelphia Media Network will embrace diversity as a core value, and ensure its workforce reflects the community that it serves," Glover wrote, requesting a meeting with Osberg to discuss how they could work together.

Larry Platt, the former editor of the glossy Philadelphia Magazine, was named to succeed Days as editor of the Daily News.

"Some observers wonder about the future of the Daily News," Peter Crimmins wrote for Newsworks, a publication of public station WHYY. "Journalist Bobbi Booker, who writes for the Philadelphia Tribune, fears the incoming editor may not uphold the Daily News' diversity.

" 'Philadelphia Magazine for a long time has been considered elitist,' said Booker, who has criticized the magazine for its dearth of African-American writers. 'It takes a stance [that] looks down on folks who do not have the same values. Hearing this change at the Daily News, which was known for a long time as the People's Paper, it brings some concerns."

Meanwhile, noted that Philadelphia magazine fired Platt for giving a framed photo of his testicle to a female employee after he had a testicle removed. Gawker published "two photos, presumably the ones that would later be framed and given as a gift to a female employee, prompting Platt's much-discussed firing. Apparently the photos depict the excised testicle before and after a surgeon sliced it open to document the cyst therein," Maureen O'Connor wrote.

". . . Upon hiring Platt, Philadelphia Daily News publisher Gregory J. Osberg explained, 'Larry and I discussed the gift incident that occurred at Philadelphia Magazine, which has previously been reported on quite extensively by the local media. I can assure you, and Larry has assured me, that actions of that kind will not occur at the Daily News.' Platt did not respond to our request for comment."

Short Takes

  • "Vibe has launched a new iPhone app called Vibe Guides. The tool provides users with editorial reviews of places like salons, restaurants, nightlife, and of course, music," Chris O'Shea reported Thursday for FishbowlNY. "Much like the Yelp app, users can search for spots or use the phone’s GPS to locate places close to them. There are also Vibe Picks, which are top choices from the magazine’s editors. So far Vibe Guides has 60 cities covered, but there’s surely more to come. The app also ties in the magazine by displaying the recent covers each time it’s launched, and allows users to check in places via Foursquare."

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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 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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