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Parker Out at CNN's "Parker Spitzer"

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Friday, February 25, 2011

In New Arrangement, No Commitment to Co-Host of Color

Journalists Report From Libya Despite State Dept. Warning

. . .  Recruitment of Mercenaries Said to Rekindle Racism

AOL's Content Chief Quits to Make Way for Huffington

Joseph Dyer, Pioneer in L.A. Television News, Dies at 76

Wisconsin Columnist Puts His Union Cards on the Table

Time Warner Intern Program Said to Benefit Lawmakers

Black Student Journalist at Yale Asks Where Others Are

Fox News Hires Five "Junior Reporters"

Short Takes

In New Arrangement, No Commitment to a Co-Host of Color

"CNN is reformatting 'Parker Spitzer' as an ensemble program with Eliot Spitzer — and without Kathleen Parker, who has been his co-host for the last four months," Brian Stelter reported Friday for the New York Times.

Kathleen Parker and Eliot Spitzer will end their on-air   partnership. (Credit:  Lorenzo Bevilaqua/CNN)

The development leaves room for a person of color to co-host a prime-time program on cable, but CNN did not name any person of color in its announcement.

Asked specifically whether people of color would be involved, a CNN spokeswoman said, "Like all of our programming, we will have on a range of people and perspectives."

In a memo to the CNN staff, Ken Jautz, CNN/U.S. executive VP, said, "We will be adopting an ensemble format with several newsmakers, guests and contributors joining Eliot Spitzer each night.

"The new program will be called, 'In the Arena,' beginning Monday. E.D. Hill and Will Cain will join the program as well others within and outside the CNN family.”

Stelter reported, "Almost since the day it started in October, 'Parker Spitzer' was mired by backstage clashes and disagreements. It never generated ratings traction. The New York Post reported as early as Jan. 10 that Ms. Hill and Mr. Cain were being considered as replacements for Ms. Parker."

The New York Post reported Sunday that the show has fewer than 540,000 viewers.

Last month, Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, told Journal-isms "it's inevitable" that people of color will be hosting prime-time news shows on cable television — but that MSNBC was happy with the evening team it installed after the departure of Keith Olbermann in the 8 p.m. Eastern slot.

CNN announced in September that Larry King's spot on CNN would be filled by another white male, Piers Morgan.

As reported in this space previously:

In June, two days after CNN hired the disgraced former New York governor to co-host "Parker Spitzer," the National Association of Black Journalists blasted the cable news networks for their failure to place African American hosts in such prime-time slots.

The CNN announcement prompted a story by Rachel Sklar in the online magazine the Daily Beast, "The Unbearable Whiteness of Cable."

"CNN just announced two new hosts for the 8 p.m. prime time hour recently vacated by Campbell Brown: Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker," Sklar began.

"Last week, MSNBC announced that the new host for its 10 p.m. prime time show would be network staple Lawrence O'Donnell. What do these three people have in common (and thankfully for O'Donnell and Parker, it's not being caught with your socks down with a prostitute)? Pretty obvious: They're white.

"They're white like Chris Matthews is white, like Bill O'Reilly is white and Keith Olbermann is white, like Wolf Blitzer is white and Megyn Kelly is white and John King is white and Ed Schultz, Greta Van Susteren, Jake Tapper, Joe Scarborough, Bob Schieffer, David Gregory, Chris Wallace, Rachel Maddow, and Dylan Ratigan are white, not unlike the lion's share of their guests."

Former anchor Rick Sanchez left CNN after his complaints about the lack of anchors of color on the cable shows were quickly overshadowed by remarks about Jews in the same interview.

Retired ABC News anchor Carole Simpson has also spoken up on the subject as she promotes her new autobiography, "NewsLady."

"I think we've gone backwards," she told Howard Kurtz Jan. 23 on CNN's "Reliable Sources," scolding him for overstating the number of influential television journalists of color.

"There is nobody saying, 'oh, my, we really need to get more African Americans on the air, we need to get more Hispanics on the air, we need to get more Asians on the air.' Yet, America continues to become more and more diverse. And yet it is white men —"

Kurtz replied, "So we have an African American president, and you feel like the news business — the television business, I should say — hasn't gotten the message?"

Simpson said, "It's gotten worse. And that makes me very upset, because I worked very hard."

In a New York Times video on the challenges faced by journalists in Libya, reported by Brian Stelter, a government spokesman claims journalists have exaggerated the number of dead. (Video)

Journalists Report From Libya Despite State Dept. Warning

"The warning from the U.S. State Department today was unusually stark. Libyan diplomats had told their American counterparts that journalists found to be inside the country illegally would be considered al Qaeda conspirators," Kirit Radia reported Friday for ABC News.

" 'Be advised, entering Libya to report on the events unfolding there is additionally hazardous with the government labeling unauthorized media as terrorist collaborators and claiming they will be arrested if caught,' the American warning said.

"Even before violence erupted last week, with government forces cracking down hard on protestors seeking its ouster, Libya was one of the most dangerous and restrictive places in the world for journalists to work. Under the totalitarian rule of leader Moammar [Gaddafi], strict controls were maintained over state media and visas for journalists seeking to do objective work were nearly impossible to come by.

"But with [Gaddafi's] control of many parts of the country shrinking, reporters pounced on the opportunity to enter the country where, only days before, broadcasters had to rely on phone calls from witnesses on the ground and videos of the protests that were posted online.

"Journalists trying to enter Libya from its eastern border with Egypt found themselves waved through by makeshift guards aligned with . . . the opposition who replaced officials that had abandoned their posts as the uprising swept that part of the country.

"CNN's Ben Wedeman, one of the first western journalists to enter Libya through Egypt, described being welcomed with cheers and showers of candy from locals. He described the feeling as being one of the first American jeeps to enter Paris after its liberation during World War Two.

"ABC News' Alex Marquardt also entered eastern Libya through Egypt yesterday, as did NBC News' Richard Engel. Several newspaper reporters, unburdened by conspicuous television equipment, have been able to report from other parts of the country, including some even from the capital Tripoli."

The Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday it documented "additional attacks in Iraq, Yemen, and Libya as journalists tried to cover anti-government protests.

"Iraqi authorities cracked down on media: Security forces stormed a satellite TV office, detained dozens of journalists, and confiscated equipment, according to local journalists and news reports. In Yemen, at least four journalists were detained today, according to local journalists, and Al-Jazeera reported that its crew was prevented from covering demonstrations in Sana'a. Libyan border patrols confiscated cameras and SIM cards of journalists entering Libya from Tunisia, according to news reports."

. . . Recruitment of Mercenaries Said to Rekindle Racism

In a series presenting views from African journalists on the Libyan situation, filmmaker and columnist Farai Sevenzo wrote for the BBC Friday that Col. Moammar Gaddafi's recruitment of African mercenaries has "only served to rekindle a deep-rooted racism between Arabs and black Africans."

"As things fall apart, the colonel is defiantly holding on with many reports suggesting that Africans, black Africans, are the crutches on which his depleted army is now hobbling," Sevenzo wrote.

"Thousands of foreigners are trying to flee the chaos in Libya. In the past week, the phrase 'African mercenaries' has been repeated by Libyan citizens and rolling news, eyewitnesses to the violence in Tripoli have spat the word 'African' with venomous hatred.

"Part of the Libyan story now is the scramble to escape of Turks, Germans, Indians, Englishmen, Italians, Malaysians and a host of other nationalities that include black men commonly known as Africans.

"In the violence of the last fortnight, the colonel's African connections have only served to rekindle a deep-rooted racism between Arabs and black Africans.

"As mercenaries, reputedly from Chad and Mali fight for him, a million African refugees and thousands of African migrant workers stand the risk of being murdered for their tenuous link to him."

AOL's Content Chief Quits to Make Way for Huffington

David Eun"AOL content chief David Eun, the former Googler tasked with transforming AOL into a premier content destination on the web, is leaving the company, he told staffers Thursday," Sam Gustin reported Thursday for wired.com.

"Eun’s departure comes as Arianna Huffington is preparing to take the reins of AOL’s sprawling content operation, following the company’s $315 million acquisition of her website, The Huffington Post. Concomitant with Eun’s departure, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong announced a number of other organizational changes in the company, in anticipation of the merger’s consummation.

"With Huffington about to assume control of all of AOL’s content properties, Eun, a hard-working and likable executive, found himself as the odd man out."

". . . .The Huffington Post Media Group will house all content and 'local experiences' under Huffington, whose new title will be President & Editor-in-Chief."

Meanwhile, the Newspaper Guild announced Thursday it is leading a letter-writing campaign "to urge Huffington to show her commitment to journalism and to demonstrate her support of fair wages for her writers.

"Freelance writers, solitary and independent creatures by nature, are banding together in solidarity as part of a national movement to demand the Huffington Post to end its exploitive business practices and provide just compensation for its labor," an announcement said.

Mario Ruiz, Huffington spokesman, responded Sunday to Guild President Bernie Lunzer's campaign to urge the Huffington Post to share the $315 million with its writers.

"We couldn’t agree more with your goal of ensuring journalists are paid for their work. It’s why HuffPost has 143 editors, writers, and reporters on our edit team. But we feel there’s a critical distinction between our editors and reporters and the people who contribute to our group blog," Ruiz wrote.

"While we pay our editors and reporters, we don’t pay for the opinion pieces submitted by our thousands of bloggers."

Joseph Dyer, Pioneer in L.A. Television News, Dies at 76

"Joseph Dyer, a retired KCBS-TV executive who was one of the first African American reporters hired by a major network television station in Los Angeles and later helped it set a standard for community involvement, died of heart failure Thursday at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, said his daughter Monica. He was 76," Elaine Woo wrote for Saturday's Los Angeles Times.

"The son of Louisiana sharecroppers, Dyer was hired by KNXT-TV (which later became KCBS) as a writer and news producer in 1965, a few months before the Watts riots erupted. He was one of the few African American reporters to cover the unrest.

". . . In 1968, he was promoted to director of community affairs, a position he used to promote ethnic and racial diversity within the station and strengthen dialogue with outside groups that often were critical of its policies and coverage.

" 'Joe Dyer was responsible for the morale of most, if not every, black employee at KCBS,' said Tony Cox, who was an early morning anchor and reporter at the station in the early 1980s. "Television news can be very cutthroat. Joe was a person who educated a lot of us about the mechanisms and machinations of the television news industry and the corporate news world.' "

Wisconsin Columnist Puts His Union Cards on the Table

Eugene Kane"My father belonged to a construction workers' union. My mother was a member of a union for seamstresses," local columnist Eugene Kane wrote last week in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"I'm a founding member of the Milwaukee Newspaper Guild that represents employees in the newsroom. I didn't have to join the union; I choose to do so. So I guess you could say I'm a union kind of guy.

". . . This week, thousands of state workers and their supporters gathered in Madison to voice their opposition to Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to take away most collective bargaining rights for members of public labor unions.

"The plan was described as a cost-saving move to help ease the state's budget crisis but was also viewed by some as an attack on long-standing workers' rights in Wisconsin.

"As a result, state workers and union officials have basically declared war on Walker. It's likely to be a bumpy ride.

". . . Of course, unions aren't perfect. My father belonged to a labor union in Philadelphia that excluded African-Americans for decades before finally relenting after a series of civil rights protests. As a result of that advocacy, my father was able to purchase a house, raise a family and help put his children through college on his construction worker's salary.

"That's typical of the relationship between many African-Americans and labor unions that may have discriminated earlier in history but eventually opened membership to minorities and women. As a result, much of the nation's black middle-class economy has been sustained by good union jobs in both the public and private sector. Hopefully, that can continue."

Credit: Brooklyn Paper

Time Warner Intern Program Said to Benefit Lawmakers

"The online application for Time Warner's much-hyped minority internship looks a little different than programs run by companies like Disney and Google," Nitasha Tiku wrote for the Daily Intel section of New York magazine, citing a piece in the Brooklyn Paper of Brooklyn, N.Y.

"In addition to all the standard questions about academic achievements and volunteer work, Time Warner asks applicants to 'provide a letter of recommendation from a member of the NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.'

"The unusual requirement has led some to believe that the internship is more concerned with helping Albany lawmakers than minority students. A mentor at Brooklyn Tech High School told the Brooklyn Paper that the program teaches 'a hard lesson in cronyism,' he said. 'It’s a back-door effort for Time Warner to reward legislators. I guarantee you that minority kids are not hanging out with caucus members.' Just before the internship program was launched, Time Warner aggressively lobbied state lawmakers about ditching a $2 billion contract with the state, which the state ended up canceling in 2009. . . ."

The Brooklyn Paper story, by Natalie O’Neill, said, "Time Warner honchos in charge of the program did not return several calls seeking comment, but company spokeswoman Suzanne Giuliani said that the demand for a recommendation letter was 'a way of helping to spread the word.'

"It hasn’t worked."

Black Student Journalist at Yale Asks Where Others Are

Martine Powers"There aren’t many black student journalists at Yale. We’re talking single digits," Martine Powers, former associate managing editor for the Yale Daily News, wrote in a guest column in that paper in Friday.

"During my four years at the News, students of color on the editorial board have been few and far between. It’s the same for the Herald," another student publication. "I’ve never seen another black person in any of the journalism or writing seminars that I’ve taken. Since the Yale Journalism Initiative was launched in 2006, the number of black graduates of the program can be counted on one hand.

"None of this is surprising, considering the lack of black reporters — as well as Latino, Asian and American Indian reporters — in newsrooms around the country. In 2009, only 13.26 percent of reporters and editors at newspapers around the country were racial minorities of any kind, according to the American Society of News Editors.

"I’d like to think that everyone at Yale, and everyone in America’s journalism industry, recognizes this lack of newsroom diversity as a problem. But I’m not sure they do, mostly because no one ever talks about it. In English 467, 'Journalism,' newsroom diversity is not a topic for discussion. It’s rarely discussed at the News, unless we’re glancing bemusedly at the wall of photos of overwhelmingly white men from the last 132 years of editorial boards. And for all of the dozens of talks on 'the future of journalism' sponsored by the Poynter Fellowship, I have never seen an advertisement for a talk about the ways in which diversity will play into that future. . . "

Fox News Hires Five "Junior Reporters"

"Visalia native Michelle Macaluso is one of five new Fox News Junior Reporters from around the country. She'll report on the central San Joaquin Valley for the cable news channel and its various websites," Rick Bentley reported Wednesday for the Fresno (Calif.) Bee.

" 'The idea behind the program is to give the reporter enough cutting-edge gear that is portable enough and easy enough for them to be a one-person band,' says Sharri Berg, senior vice president of news operations and services at Fox.

"Along with Fresno, the reporters will be based in Las Vegas; Columbia, S.C.; Jackson, Miss.; and El Paso, Texas. Macaluso will work out of her home and at local Fox affiliate KMPH (Channel 26.1).

"The program puts reporters in areas where there's no permanent Fox cable staff. These reporters will put together feature stories while waiting for assignments to handle major news stories. It's also a way for young reporters to get practical experience before they move to local, network or cable news programs."

". . . The training program is for two years. At that point, the junior staffers could either be moved to one of the Fox news divisions or at least have a strong collection of stories to use as a résumé."

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

CNN finds no existence or proof of races other than white

CNN and most other news orgs would rather produce shows that feature mediocre white talent than great talent of any minority. Somebody should tell news producers and editors that the world is looking less and less lily white. When you put on people of color, people of color will watch and participate in the process. But maybe that's what the news organizations want to avoid.

Sunny James

www.thesunnyjamesshow.net

No Commitment to a Co-Host of Color

I've been saying for the last 35 years, major TV news outlets - like top NY ad agencies - are incestuous operations, relying solely on family, close friends/relatives to fill high visibility slots among & between each other's shops. The top... networks are the culprits & the only thing that makes 'em jump are money-toting sponsors/clients. Otherwise, they're a bag of scared, little constipated wimps without courage. Check the pedigree and you’ll find that many have inherited their positions at decision making levels or have come up through an inbreeding relationship network (which requires a few pages to explain), thus making them limp on exercising rudimentary judgment, narrow on such things as casting perspective (on-air lead talent) and not moving on promises of change for years on end. Delayed decisions on diversity hires to lead primetime news and news-related programs has more to do with anticipation of a loss of viewer ratings and with that, a loss in value of the programs commercial spot sales. If you haven’t noticed lately, look at the anchors of the morning news shows and tell me if they don’t look like they’ve come out of a cookie-cutter mold. Today, with more outlets providing more shows, who’s kidding who? Black professionals in the biz come with conviction which scares 'em to no end. Trust me, these network wimps all know where black/Hispanic talent is and could invite them in at the drop of a hat. But it takes courage and decision-makers outside the ranks to make this happen. The late Roone Arledge, who was originally the sports guru, took over news operations in 1978 and wasted no time in creating a trio anchor system that included Max Robinson who won accolades and ratings for ABC. Getting Ed Bradley, a journalist of unquestionable talent was the CBS move to etch in an anchor with more “street creds than you could shake a stick at.” Same thing in music when hip-hop arrived & threw giant record companies to their knees. Fear of the unknown.

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