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Obama Breakthrough a Bonanza for Media

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Next Up: A Book from Time, Special Sunday Sections

The Obama campaign  posted a collage of front pages from Wednesday, courtesy of the Newseum.

The historic victory Tuesday of Sen. Barack Obama is proving a bonanza not only for daily newspapers, but for newsmagazines and broadcasters and the black newspapers that publish weekly.

Some daily newspapers, having found unexpected good fortune as they reprinted commemorative election editions, are planning special keepsake sections for Sunday.

"Time and Newsweek, which both rushed election specials onto newsstands early, say the issues are already selling out in the major metropolitan markets," Keith J. Kelly reported Friday in the New York Post.

"By late yesterday, Time, which published more than 100,000 extra copies, had already gone back to press, while Newsweek, which also added 100,000 to its print run, was very close to doing the same."

People magazine was with the Obamas Tuesday night as they watched the election returns. (Credit: David Katz/Obama for America)Since Kelly's story ran, Time spokesman Daniel Kile told Journal-isms in an e-mail, "We've decided to go back for a 3rd printing. We continue to sell out widely. Oprah raved about the issue on her show today, and we are publishing a book on Obama, to be sold on newsstands, next week."

"Meanwhile, both sites were reporting astronomical Web traffic," Kelly's story said.

"Newsweek said it had chalked up over 8 million unique visitors on Wednesday, and Time said it generated 9.6 million page views."

As it has after previous elections, Newsweek produced an "in-depth look behind the scenes of the campaign," this one a seven-parter "consisting of exclusive behind-the-scenes reporting from the [John] McCain and Obama camps assembled by a special team of reporters who were granted year-long access on the condition that none of their findings appear until after Election Day."

People magazine, which went on sale Friday, features "an inside look at Barack Obama and his extended family as they watched election returns leading up to his announcement as the 44th President of the United States," as reported.

In broadcasting, the election drew a national television audience Tuesday night of approximately 71.5 million viewers across 14 broadcast, cable and Hispanic networks, Anthony Crupi reported for Mediaweek. 

"According to Nielsen Media Research data, between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST, nearly 42 percent of U.S. TV households tuned in to watch the returns, in what would mark a record rating for a presidential election."

CNN announced two weekend specials, "After Party: Where We Go From Here," and "Transition to Power."

"In the 24 hours since published its story calling the election
for Obama, the site sold nearly 5,000 T-shirts emblazoned with 'Obama
inspires historic victory,' Brian Morrissey reported for Adweek on Thursday. "Under the headline is 'I just saw it on' and the time and date 11:04 p.m., 11-4-08."

HBO said it had closed a seven-figure deal for U.S. rights to an untitled Obama documentary from producer Edward Norton.

"HBO, which has been pursuing rights for several months, plans to air the feature-length docu next year. The footage, culled from 2¬? years of filming, includes interviews with Obama, his senior campaign staff, family, friends and volunteers," Gregg Goldstein reported¬†for the Hollywood Reporter.

"This is the backstage document on this once-in-[a-]lifetime campaign for which America will be waiting," David Zurawik wrote in the Baltimore Sun.

In Washington, the Newseum is displaying front pages from Wednesday in front of its Pennsylvania Avenue building as well as online, and is showing video clips inside from television coverage of the election. The Wednesday front pages will join a display of historic front pages, spokeswoman Tina Tate told Journal-isms.

The museum about the news, part of the Freedom Forum, is working on a poster of 25 of the front pages that can be ordered online perhaps as early as next week, Tate said.

Among the daily newspapers planning special sections for Sunday are Obama's hometown Chicago Sun-Times and the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

"Coming Sunday: Walk through history this Sunday in a special 32-page souvenir section commemorating the election of Chicagoan Barack Obama, the nation's first African American president. We'll retrace the steps of President-elect Obama's incredible journey - from his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia to his victory speech in Grant Park - through photographs and the words of top Sun-Times writers and columnists," the Chicago newspaper proclaims on its Web site.

The Sun-Times site also features a video of Oprah Winfrey holding up the newspaper on her television show on Wednesday, praising it as the best front page she had seen. Reprints of the edition pushed the circulation of the tabloid, normally 250,000, to 500,000, the paper said. Like other papers, it is selling the front on its Web site for $10.

The black press was receiving its share of the bonanza. At least two black newspapers, the Philadelphia Tribune and the South Florida Times, published special editions on Wednesday, and many increased their press run.

"The response to our special election edition has been overwhelmingly positive," Tribune City Editor Johann Calhoun told Journal-isms.

"Since Wednesday morning our phone lines here at the Tribune have been ringing off the wire. We sold out within hours on Wednesday morning and were forced to do a reprint the same day of our special edition. News stands and vendors have been forced to take orders for our paper. Because demand was so high, we reprinted the special edition as an insert for Friday's paper - and still are forced to take orders for possibly another reprint.

"As a side note on our progress here in terms of making news more accessible on the World Wide Web, we launched podcasts on our site for the first time this week." In the video, "We had reporters out on the street getting voter expectations, comments waiting in long lines and reaction to Obama winning."

Michael LeVere, the circulation director, said the four-day-a-week paper had published three reprints of the special edition, for a total of 7,000 extra copies.

The New York Amsterdam News ran a second press run of 42,000 on Thursday following an initial one of 38,000, according to Elinor Tatum, publisher and editor in chief.

"We hit the stands at 6 they were calling for more papers at 7," Eric Wesson, a reporter for the Kansas City Call, said. The paper, which usually prints 18,000 copies, went up by 1,000.

In Chicago, "We had an original run of 30,000 and then had to print another 7,500," said Lou Ransom, editor of the Chicago Defender. "Everything has sold out. Not another one to be had, and still had people coming downtown and trying to buy a paper. They were getting five and 10 at a time."

Even neighborhood papers celebrated. The headline of the Brooklyn Paper, a free publication in Brooklyn, N.Y., read "BARAK-LYN!"

The Los Angeles Sentinel quoted its CEO, Danny Bakewell Jr., on the president-to-be: "He makes me proud to be an American for the first time in my life."

Barack Obama answered questions Friday after meeting with his economic advisers.

Few of Color Cover President-Elect's News Conference

Barack Obama held his first news conference as the next president on Friday after meeting in Chicago with his economic advisers, but fewer than a dozen journalists of color were in evidence among 400 to 500 in the room, one of them told Journal-isms. None was called upon to ask a question.

Obama campaign spokesman Corey Ealons said the journalists were determined by the news organizations that applied to be there. Despite the paltry diversity displayed in the reporters' ranks, however, there were signs that an Obama presidency would provide journalists of color with more opportunities.

NBC's "Meet the Press" announced that one of the panelists on Sunday's roundtable would be Mary Mitchell, an African American Chicago Sun-Times columnist who has been covering Obama throughout the campaign.  ABC's "This Week" said its panel would include Cynthia Tucker, editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Politico reported earlier that Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post and Helene Cooper of the New York Times would be added by their news organizations to the White House press corps. Politico Editor John F. Harris told Journal-isms last week that Nia-Malika Henderson would be part of its White House team. However, Washington Times Editor John Solomon Thursday night announced a White House team that includes Stephen Dinan as bureau chief, Christina Bellantoni and Jon Ward, and ABC News this week announced Jake Tapper would be senior White House correspondent. None is a journalist of color.

Obama has reached out to black media outlets — though not necessarily to African Americans in the mainstream media. At last year's convention of the National Association of Black Journalists, he said of the black press, "My attitude is that if you were covering me when nobody wanted to cover me, then they should cover me when everybody wants to cover me. That attitude will continue when I'm in the White House."

MediaBistro's FishBowl DC published "a rough list of names" of those at Obama's Chicago news conference:

Peter Nicholas, Los Angeles Times; Peter Slevin, Washington Post; Kristin Jensen, Bloomberg; Beth Fouhy, Associated Press Margaret Talev, McClatchy newspapers.

Michael Finnegan, L.A. Times; Nedra Pickler, Associated Press; Jeff Zeleny, New York Times; Karen Bohan, Reuters; Lee Cowan, NBC.

John McCormick, Chicago Tribune; Candy Crowley, CNN; Suzanne Malveaux, CNN; Jitendra Joshi, Agence France-Presse; Christina Bellantoni, Washington Times; Dan Balz, Washington Post.

"All the embeds": Jay Newton Small, Time; Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico; Jonathan Weisman, Wall Street Journal; Shalaigh Murray, Washington Post; Geoff Earle, New York Post.

Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun Times; Jake Tapper, ABC; Kathy Kiely, USA Today; Abdon Pallasch, Chicago Sun-Times; Ken Bazinet, New York Daily News.

Not on the list were Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson, Bryan Monroe, editorial director of Ebony and Jet magazines, and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, among the black journalists who were present.  Off-air NBC News reporter Athena Jones also filed from the news conference.

Wright Resurfaces, Says Media Used Him as Distraction

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who has kept a low profile since Sen. Barack Obama left the Chicago church where Wright was longtime pastor, resurfaced after the election at a Connecticut conference at which Wright declared once again that a sound bite from one of his sermons had been used "as a weapon of mass destruction" against Obama's campaign, Rinker Buck reported Friday in the Hartford Courant.

"Wright's talk, replete with detailed references to theology books and quotes from Scripture, was rife with the kind of quotes that, quoted alone, could generate controversy," Buck wrote. "But understood in the larger context of Wright's talk, the statements did not seem controversial and frequently elicited laughter from Wright's mostly white audience of several hundred.

"Wright avoided direct references to Obama in his prepared talk but brought him up in response to several questions from the audience.

"'My biggest fear is that we will take what's just happened in this country and think a whole lot has changed,' Wright said.

"'If you take a Tiger Woods, a Michael Jordan or a Barack Obama, their success should not lull us into thinking society has changed.'"

Newhouse Washington Bureau Closes After 47 Years

Toren Beasley and Katherine Reynolds LewisThe Newhouse News Service Washington bureau, called "the most representative Washington chain bureau," in a report by Unity: Journalists of Color this year, closed on Friday, another victim of the economic climate in the newspaper industry.

"The decision to close followed the direction of our clients, the editors of our papers," Linda Fibich, editor and Washington bureau chief, said in July. "They felt they could not afford to pay for a central Washington bureau at a time when they were steering all available resources to local coverage back at home."

Three of the bureau's 10 members were journalists of color. Toren Beasley, a black journalist who was managing editor, told Journal-isms he was joining his wife, Monica Seaberry, in Seaberry Design Communications, a Washington-based graphic arts design business they started in February.

Katherine Reynolds Lewis, the money and work reporter, who is Asian American, told Journal-isms:

"It’s a sad day because it’s the end of the most exciting, fulfilling time in my professional career. It’s been an honor to work with such a talented, dedicated group of journalists and especially to work for our bureau chief Linda Fibich, who is a gifted editor and tireless advocate for her staff and for journalists of color.

"It’s also an exciting day because it’s the beginning of a new chapter in my journalism life. I’m building on 14 years of business journalism experience to launch a freelance writing career, focusing on work, personal finance and parenting. I’m looking forward to developing relationships with editors in a variety of media and to honing my reporting, writing and editing skills." She said she will be writing at

The third journalist of color was Michele M. Melendez, who covers "generational issues" and is Hispanic.

Newhouse News Service, a supplemental wire service, was founded in 1961. Some others in the bureau will now work directly for various Newhouse papers, Beasley said. Its 26 daily newspapers include the Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J; the Oregonian in Portland, Ore.; the Plain Dealer in Cleveland; the Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance and the Times-Picayune in New Orleans.

1 Million Iraqi Deaths Called Top "Censored" Story

"Over one million Iraqis have met violent deaths as a result of the 2003 invasion, according to a study conducted by the prestigious British polling group, Opinion Research Business. . . . These numbers suggest that the invasion and occupation of Iraq rivals the mass killings of the last century — the human toll exceeds the 800,000 to 900,000 believed killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is approaching the number (1.7 million) who died in Cambodia's infamous 'Killing Fields' during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s."

Thus begins the 2009 list of the "top 25 censored stories" issued annually by Sonoma State University.

The second top story: "Leaders of Canada, the US, and Mexico have been meeting to secretly expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with 'deep integration' of a more militarized tri-national Homeland Security force."

Third: "More than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collect and provide information on fellow Americans. In return, members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public, and at times before elected officials."


Warrant Issued for Mos Def After Photog's Complaint

Mos Def"Dante Terrell Smith, the rapper-turned-actor better known as Mos Def, is wanted in Las Vegas on a robbery and malicious destruction of private property charge," Lawrence Mower reported Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"A Las Vegas Justice Court judge has issued a warrant for his arrest on allegations that he smashed a photographer's camera and took it during an August scuffle at a fashion convention.

"According to the arrest warrant, Smith told a credentialed photographer he couldn't take photos, then ripped the camera from the photographer's neck, smashed it to the ground and ran off with it.

"The photographer, Volker Corell, was shooting for the 'California Apparel News' during the Men's Apparel and Garment Industry Convention (MAGIC) at the Las Vegas Convention Center Aug. 26, according to the arrest report."

Where Have News Media Been on Congo Horrors?

"Last summer, the national news media announced the deaths of four gorillas killed in a national park in eastern Congo. A United Nations delegation was quickly dispatched to investigate," Kambale Musavuli wrote Friday for the San Francisco Bay View.

"As a Congolese living in the United States and hungry for news from back home, I was thankful for the coverage. But since my grandparents still live in east Congo, I would have also liked to have heard about some other recent breaking news items: women being raped, children being enslaved, men being killed and many more horrors.

"I would like to hear about the nearly 6 million lives lost, half of them children under age 5, that every month 45,000 people continue to die in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and that the scale of devastation seen in Darfur happens in the Congo every five and a half months.

"I was granted asylum in 1998. Every day since then, I have appreciated the privilege of living in a peaceful community and pursuing a college degree at North Carolina A&T State University. But I will never forget that my people are not free, or the responsibility that comes with the privilege of living in the most powerful country in the world.

"Oct. 19-25 was 'Break the Silence' Congo Week, a global initiative led by students to raise awareness and provide support to the people of Congo. There were participants in more than 30 countries and on 125 college campuses, including key student leaders at North Carolina A&T, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Greensboro, the University of Maryland, Howard University, Bowie State University, Bryn Mawr College and Cornell University."

Short Takes

  • "Hearst Magazines, which recently pulled the plug on Cosmogirl and has been laying off staff at a number of titles, is shutting down O at Home, the shelter-focused spinoff of O, The Oprah Magazine," Jeff Bercovici reported¬†Friday for
  • "A Louisiana judge did not have authority to close the juvenile court proceedings involving a defendant in the racially charged 'Jena Six' case, a state appeal court has decided," the Associated Press reported. "The decision, released Thursday from the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles, was a partial victory for news media outlets that challenged the closure of the courtroom in the case of Mychal Bell. But the decision does not say whether the media can have access to records in the Bell case, which ended with a guilty plea."

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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