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O.C. Register Lays Off Latina Columnist

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yvette Cabrera Bore "Indignities" as Demographics Changed

Obama Talks Sports in 25-Minute Podcast

Michigan's GOP Primary Battle Was "Troubling to Watch"

Whitney Houston Crack Spurs Meeting With L.A. Station

Mormons Baptized Slain Daniel Pearl, Who Was Jewish

N.Y. Tabloids Knock AP Over NYPD-Muslim Revelations

Four Ways Social Media Have Deteriorated Journalism

Journalists Need Remedial Lessons in Racist Epithets

Short Takes

Yvette Cabrera at a Yvette at a mixer sponsored by CCNMA

Yvette Cabrera Bore "Indignities" as Demographics Changed

Ten years after California's Orange County Register named Yvette Cabrera a news columnist after the newsroom's Latino Task Force complained that the paper's white, conservative columnist wasn't the "cross-section of columnist's voices" the Register needed, Cabrera has been laid off.

Cabrera, 40, one of few Latina columnists in mainstream, English-language newspapers, was one of a reported five newsroom people given notice Wednesday. She is also president of CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California, a group of about 200 statewide, according to Executive Director Julio Moran.

Register spokesman Eric Morgan did not respond to requests for comment. The cutback is said to include a black journalist, Morgan Sales, described as a community editor with copy editing and layout duties. Four unfilled positions are said to have been eliminated.

Cabrera asked her CCNMA vice president, former Register reporter Minerva Canto, to respond to Journal-isms.

Canto said she sent this message to her CCNMA colleagues:

"I'm beyond outraged that the Register would lay off Yvette Cabrera. I have had the pleasure of working alongside Yvette and know how hard-working and dedicated she is to the profession and to the work she's done at the Register for more than 12 years. As a columnist, she was visible proof of the strides the Register had made to covering accurately the diverse community of Orange County. All those of us who have worked at the Register also know Yvette as one of a few behind-the-scenes journalists aggressively pushing for newsroom reform, in addition to constantly mentoring younger/newer staffers.

"Yvette and I were on a task force at the Register several years ago that helped create her position, as part of a directive aimed at remedying what we saw as glaring omissions in the Register's coverage. We saw it as major victory when the Register approved all our requests. By laying off Yvette today, the Register is sending an unequivocal message that they no longer care about accurately covering Orange County's diverse community, particularly Latinos."

According to the 2010 Census, Orange County is 33.65 percent Latino. The Latino Task Force proposal, made in 2002, did not ask for a Hispanic voice. "We wanted a Latino columnist but we felt that any other voice would be a huge improvement and so we decided we would be likely to be more successful in getting the Register to hire another columnist if we didn't specify," Canto told Journal-isms.

On the Web site of the alternative OC Weekly, editor Gustavo Arellano wrote that Moran told him of Cabrea's layoff. "We'll see who the other reporters are, but none sting more — and none show how fundamentally fucked-up the Reg is, and what a dark future they face — than the axing of Cabrera," Arellano wrote.

" . . . because she was a Latina, Cabrera quickly became the most-loathed reporter in the history of the Register, her name becoming code among the Reg's troglodytic readers for a story that dared show Latinos as human beings — in other words, the most disgusting abomination since the election of Barack Obama. A simple story she might do about Latinos — say, a student going to college, or mothers organizing to get healthy — unleashed waves of nastiness better suited for the message boards of Stormfront," the white nationalist Internet forum, "and that was just the stuff that was out in public. Who knows what private insults she suffered — yet all along, Cabrera suffered these indignities with class, never lashing out at critics, always keeping that same radiant smile."

Cabrera wrote a Latino-themed column in the features section before being tapped for the general-interest news column.

According to her bio, "Prior to the Orange County Register, Yvette worked at the Los Angeles Daily News as a metro reporter covering immigration, Latino issues and the communities of the Northeast San Fernando Valley. She also worked as a news reporter at The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., and at the Los Angeles Times as a reporter in the Minority Editorial Training Program."

". . . The National Association of Hispanic Journalists honored her series 'The Women of Juárez' [written with Canto, photographs by Rose Palmisano] with its 2005 Guillermo Martinez-Marquez Award for Latin American reporting. The series also won a 2004 Dart honorable mention for Excellence in Reporting on Victims of Violence."

Obama Talks Sports in 25-Minute Podcast

President Obama talked sports for a 25-minute podcast with ESPN.com's Bill Simmons, editor-in-chief of the Grantland Web site and author of "The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy."

Simmons wrote that in a White House interview, the two "covered a bunch of sports-related topics, including how the President manages to make time to follow sports; his feelings on Linsanity and the Bulls' title chances; whether he considered getting involved with the NBA lockout; the wisdom of a college football playoff system; his feelings on concussions and the NFL; what it's like to throw out the first pitch before baseball games; his favorite White House visits from championship teams; coaching his daughter's basketball team; the pearls of wisdom he recently dispensed to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin; and his answers to two 'greatest ever' questions (one basketball, one television)."

Among Obama's comments: "I am very proud of the fact I do not cheat when I’m playing golf" and that he knew about the New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin "before you did, or everybody else did, because Arne Duncan, my Secretary of Education, was captain of the Harvard team." [Podcast]  [Transcript] [March 1]

Michigan's GOP Primary Battle Was "Troubling to Watch"

"This is far from over," Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, wrote Wednesday after former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney edged former senator Rick Santorum, R-Pa., in Michigan's Republican presidential primary.

Romney, ". . . a guy with a lengthy record of competent, even heroic, management in the public and private sectors, is still struggling to get decisive separation from a pack of much weaker candidates. He'll hobble into the Super Tuesday contests with wins here in Michigan and in Arizona, but without the kind of momentum that suggests he's close to putting the others out of reach.

"It has been bizarre, and troubling, to watch.Stephen Henderson

". . . It is troubling because that dynamic in the GOP race, playing out over and over again, is whittling the party's base to the narrowest of interests and minds, alienating broad swaths of both independent voters and a significant portion of more mainstream or moderate card-carrying Republicans.

". . . A clearly exasperated Romney said Tuesday that he wouldn't light his hair on fire to appeal to hard-right conservatives, but he clearly did just about everything else to secure the win.

"And judging from the challenge still before him, he may not want to toss the matches just yet."

Final Michigan results showed Santorum and Romney evenly split Michigan's 30 delegates, even though Romney got more overall votes, CNN reported on Wednesday.

Michigan has the nation's greatest number of Arab Americans. On Friday, the Arab American News, based in Dearborn, endorsed Ron Paul, who came in third.

The paper "sees Dr. Paul's refreshing, forthright foreign policy philosophy as one of his greatest strengths at a time when the specter of a potentially catastrophic war looms over festering, misunderstood and misreported conflicts in the Middle East," it said in an editorial. "His positions are perhaps the best hope for even a remotely balanced policy in the troubled region that we've seen in decades.

"Paul has also been the only major Republican candidate to resist the type of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant demonization, fear-mongering and pandering to ultra-conservative voters in his party that has become pervasive in the post-9/11 climate, despite continued studies showing that terror threats posed by such groups have been greatly exaggerated coming to light along with polls reaffirming the groups’ affinity for American ideals and patriotism."

In Arizona, where Romney scored a 20-point win and captured all 29 delegates, exit polls showed that Romney and Santorum "each captured about one-third of the Hispanic vote, with Gingrich and Paul splitting the rest," Jeri Clausing and Paul Davenport of the Associated Press reported, referring to former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

"Gingrich has been considered the favorite for Hispanics on the issue of immigration, as he was the only candidate to support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country.

"But fewer than one in 10 voters were Hispanic, and political watchers said many voters here have grown weary of the rhetoric that has dominated state politics and early debates in the race."

Jasmyne Cannick discusses

Whitney Houston Crack Spurs Meeting With L.A. Station

In Los Angeles, "a coalition of Blacks in radio broadcasting, media and business met Monday with KFI 640 AM’s station management and show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of the 'John and Ken Show' to discuss their calling of music icon Whitney Houston a 'crack ho' three days following the legendary singer’s death," the eurweb.com site reported.

Meanwhile, referring to the shock jocks, Greg Braxton reported in the Los Angeles Times Wednesday, "the episode may have cost them their nightly gig at KTLA-TV Channel 5." The two returned to the radio station after a seven-day suspension, but were "the team was missing Wednesday from its usual nightly simulcast spot during KTLA's 6 p.m. newscast, and sources say they have been absent from the newscast all week."

EURWeb.com said of Monday's session, "Among those who met with the station’s General Manager Greg Ashlock and program director Robin Bertolucci were: Kevin Ross, host of the syndicated television program 'America’s Court with Judge Ross,' and former KABC and KFI host; Lee Bailey, 30-year radio broadcasting pioneer, founder and CEO of the Electronic Urban Report (EURweb); Dominique DiPrima, talk radio veteran and host of the Front Page on KJLH 102.3 FM; Isidra [Person- Lynn], former talk radio host, producer and public affairs director; L. C. 'Chris' Strudwick-Turner, Vice President of Marketing & Communications for the Los Angeles Urban League; . . . and journalist and communications strategist Jasmyne Cannick.

" 'Systemic change has to happen,' said Strudwick-Turner of the Los Angeles Urban League. 'They have to come back to us with a solid plan to improve this situation.' "

"Cannick added, 'KFI has 14 shows, and 13 of them are hosted by white males. There are no blacks in their newsroom. This fosters an environment where negative comments can happen. And they are not living up to [parent company] Clear Channel’s statement of a commitment to diversity.' ”

The story said KFI management promised to get back to the group within 72 hours with a plan to address these concerns:

  • "1. The hiring of more Blacks as on air talent — Full time, weekends, fill-in hosts

  • "2. Similar to cable outlets, the station should feature paid KFI contributing commentators who can discuss issues with the on-air from different perspectives

  • "3. Clear Channel must employ more blacks behind the scenes such as producers, engineers, sales representatives, professionals in marketing and promotions, as well as college interns of color. This is not limited to KFI.

  • "4. KFI specifically needs to collaborate with online news and entertainment sites owned by African Americans and broaden the listening audience through community outreach events and public affairs"

On FishbowlLA, Marcus Vanderberg wrote, "Call me cynical, but I’m not holding my breath that any of these changes will be implemented at KFI. I think it’s going to take more than a John and Ken suspension to get the point across to Clear Channel management."

Mormons Baptized Slain Daniel Pearl, Who Was Jewish

Daniel Pearl"Members of the Mormon Church last year posthumously baptized Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was captured and killed by terrorists in Pakistan shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to records uncovered by a researcher in Utah," Michael Levenson reported Wednesday for the Boston Globe.

"Helen Radkey, an excommunicated Mormon who combs through the church’s archives, said that records indicate Pearl, who was Jewish, was baptized by proxy on June 1, 2011 at a Mormon temple in Twin Falls, Idaho.

"Mormons baptize deceased Jews and members of other religions as part of a rite intended to give them access to salvation.

"But the practice has stirred outrage among some Jewish leaders. In 1995, the church, after meeting with Jewish leaders, agreed to stop baptizing Holocaust victims. Current church policy encourages church members to baptize their ancestors, but does not explicitly forbid the baptism of deceased Jews and people of other faiths.

"A former reporter at the Berkshire Eagle, Pearl was 38 when he was abducted while reporting in Karachi, four months after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Pearl’s parents, Judea and Ruth, said it was 'disturbing news' to learn that Mormons had baptized their son, in a rite that they understand was meant to offer him salvation."

N.Y. Tabloids Knock AP Over NYPD-Muslim Revelations

"Bob McManus, editorial page editor of the New York Post, blasted the Associated Press on Tuesday, suggesting that the news organization cares more about winning a Pulitzer Prize than the threat of terrorism," Michael Calderone reported for the Huffington Post.

" 'It will win its prizes, or not,' McManus wrote. 'But to the extent its activities undermine a great city's will to protect itself from proven enemies, it may someday have much for which to answer.'

"McManus' attack was just the latest journalistic broadside against the news organization in response to its ongoing investigation of the NYPD's widescale surveillance of Muslims in New York City, several neighboring states and on over a dozen college campuses across the northeast.

". . . The AP's latest revelations have triggered different responses on either side of the Hudson, with political leaders and their local newspapers taking opposite corners in New Jersey and New York. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Robert Menendez and Newark Mayor Cory Booker have expressed concerns with the surveillance program, while the state's editorial boards have condemned it. In New York, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have offered unwavering support to the NYPD, just as the city's two most boisterous tabloids — similarly quick to defend last year's NYPD crackdown on journalists — continue to offer a full-throated defense of Commissioner Ray Kelly and his department.

"The Post and the Daily News, which slammed the AP during the start of the series last August, have defended the NYPD, while simultaneously taking shots at the news organization and those raising important questions about civil rights being trampled through a secret spying program."

Four Ways Social Media Have Deteriorated Journalism

"Overall, social media has revitalized traditional journalism," veteran journalist Ronnie Ramos, now managing director of digital communications for the NCAA, wrote Wednesday for the National Sports Journalism Center.

But Ramos, who has been an editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ronnie Ramosthe Times in Shreveport,  La., and the News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., nevertheless maintained that "traditional journalism has let social media hurt its franchise.

"Here are four areas where social media has been a problem for journalism," he continued:

  • "Lowered the standards. It used to be that newspapers, large and small, shared a common set of standards for what journalists would and wouldn’t do. . . . .

  • "Anyone is a journalist. . . . Many traditional journalism outlets have contributed to the bankruptcy of the term journalist by altering their hiring standards and practices. People who have no fact-gathering experience are now blogging for major outlets. And other outlets have acknowledged, quoted and otherwise legitimized reports from websites, blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages they would have never relied on before the advent of social media. . . .

  • "The tarnished credibility of traditional journalists. . .

  • "Blurring the line between opinion and fact. The biggest myth in traditional journalism is that there is separation between fact and opinion. Reporters write fact and columnists write opinions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Ramos promised a follow-up next week with more on "how social media has blurred the line between opinion and fact."

Journalists Need Remedial Lessons in Racist Epithets

"In the midst of the media hullabaloo over ESPN’s 'Chink in the armor' headline about Jeremy Lin, I had a conversation with a journalism professor at the University of Colorado, where I work as staff adviser to the CU Independent, the student-run news website for the Boulder campus," Gil AsakawaGil Asakawa wrote Wednesday on his "Nikkei View" blog.

"What the media need, we decided, is remedial lessons in racist imagery and epithets.

". . . In today’s snip-and-share media world, context gets lost, and so can the historical meaning of words even if they started out as hate language. Just because someone doesn’t know the origins of a phrase like 'Me so horny, me love you long time,' or any of the words I heard growing up, or they think it’s OK because they didn’t mean it as a racist slur, doesn’t make it acceptable.

"I have one rule for slurs: IF someone somewhere finds something offensive, then it’s offensive and I’ll go out of my way to avoid it. It’s not a matter of being overly sensitive or too P.C. — it’s a matter of being respectful."

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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