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Paula Madison to Step Down at NBCU

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Diversity Advocate "Planned for My Retirement Since . . . 21"

Unity Agreed to Grant Each Partner Veto Power on Decisions

Susan L. Taylor, Once the Face of Essence, Appears in Ebony

Time Reporter Recounts Surviving Ivory Coast Violence

Libyan Woman Describes Gang-Rape Nightmare to NPR, AP

Libya's Lies to Journalists Don't Try to Be Convincing

Short Takes

Diversity Advocate "Planned for My Retirement Since . . . 21"

Paula Madison, executive vice president and chief diversity officer for NBCUniversal, is retiring on May 20 after more than 35 years in the news media, NBCUniversal announced on Monday.

Paula Madison

Madison, 58, a board member of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and longtime diversity champion, is one of few African Americans in the upper reaches of  media corporations.

Having steered NBCUniversal through diversity initiatives that helped to secure its purchase by Comcast, Madison told Journal-isms, she can now devote her time to the businesses and investments she has seeded over the years.

"I've planned for my retirement since I was 21 years old," she said.

An announcement about Madison's successor will be made "probably in a few weeks," Nate Kirtman, senior vice president for publicity at NBCUniversal, told Journal-isms.

Madison and her family are majority owners of the Los Angeles Sparks, the Women's National Basketball Association team, and of the Africa Channel. She is an investor in Broadway Federal Bank, the largest African American bank west of the Mississippi, and has created the Madison Media Fund, a division of Williams Group Holdings that will invest and advise multicultural media, she said.

Throughout her career, Madison said she looked for jobs offering deferred income and deferred bonuses, as well as perks and benefits that would be useful in retirement.

According to her NBCUniversal bio, that career began shortly after graduating from Vassar College in 1974.

"She worked as a newspaper reporter in New York and Dallas/Fort Worth," it reads. "After a few years at television stations in Texas and Oklahoma, Paula returned to her native New York City by joining NBC's owned and operated station WNBC in 1989 as Assistant News Director. Paula rose to  the station's Vice President and News Director in March 1996.

"Four years later, Paula was appointed President and General Manager of KNBC, NBC's owned and operated station in Los Angeles. She was the first African American woman to become general manager at a network-owned station in a top five market. In April 2002, when NBC purchased the Telemundo network, Paula was additionally named Regional General Manager of the Spanish language network's stations, KVEA and KWHY.

"In July 2006, she added another duty to her existing responsibilities — Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, NBC Universal. She was not a complete stranger to this role, however. While leading KNBC, Paula held the position of Vice President, Diversity, and then Senior Vice President, Diversity, for the NBC network from February 2000 to May 2002."

Madison was charged with helping to win over groups representing people of color who objected to the Comcast takeover of NBCU.

To do so, NBCU made a number of promises.

Among them:

  • Comcast Corp. will add four cable networks owned, or partly owned, by African Americans over the next eight years, as well as a new English-language channel aimed at Asian Americans.

  • An NBCU commitment to increase news and information choices for Hispanic viewers, including a plan to work with an independent producer on a weekly business news program.

  • Comcast will add a Hispanic to its corporate board within two years.

  • Comcast promised to add at least three independent cable networks with "substantial [minority] ownership interest" over the next three years; to establish four external advisory councils, one each for representatives of the African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander communities, and another for "other diverse communities," and to spend at least $7 million more on advertising in minority-owned media in 2011.

  • NBC promised that " 'Meet the Press' is committed to having a more diverse group of voices on the show whose opinions and expertise reflect, not just the news of the day, but the cultural, economical and political landscape of our country."  NBC has by and large kept this promise, made last year. Helene Cooper of the New York Times was on Sunday's show.

Madison timed her retirement date for May 20, the second day of two-day meeting in Philadelphia of the Comcast Advisory Council, which is to include representatives of African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Pacific Islanders, women, gays and lesbians, American Indians and people with disabilities. Memoranda of understanding signed with African Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Pacifics will result in "some really positive outcomes that are going to be seen very shortly," Madison said.

"It's a new company," she said she told Stephen B. Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal and executive vice president of Comcast Corp. "It's a really good time for you to bring in a new chief diversity officer."

Madison said her message to those starting out in the news business would be directed "to people who have an interest in or a passion for running things, for being in charge.

Paula Madison and Prince, Madison Square Garden, Feb. 6 "The first time I was told I should be a manager, I was 25 years old." Looking at the managers she worked for, she said "not only should I be doing that, but I'm going to [take] the best of what I'm seeing and internalize that and reject the worst."

Regardless of the economy, "there are always going to be executive positions. I would encourage as many of them as possible who are interested in being managers and executives that you line up your career to achieve that goal. They you decide who has a job and who doesn't, and what is a story and what is not a story."

Madison attributes much of her drive to her Jamaican immigrant parents, who set high standards for their children and taught them to pool their money. "We Jamaicans always have a lot of irons in the fire," she said. She said they knew of only the U.S. top universities growing up. Her eldest brother, Elrick Williams, went to Williams College and Harvard Business School. He was a commodities trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, is retired CEO of the algorhythmic trading company he founded and is CEO of the Africa Channel. The third sibling did not pursue higher education and is retired from construction and trucking.

Asked two years ago by what was the best thing about being Paula Madison, she said, "That's easy. The absolute best thing about being me is that I am a grandmother. . . . My husband and I are unbelievably happy."

As for what she'll be remembered for, Madison recalled a moment at New York's Madison Square Garden in February: Before thousands of fans, she got to do the bump with Prince.

Unity Agreed to Grant Each Partner Veto Power on Decisions

Robin WashingtonAt its meeting last month, the board of Unity: Journalists of Color responded to a key complaint of the National Association of Black Journalists by unofficially deciding to grant each partner veto power over Unity decisions, according to board members.

Neither that response nor others were enough to stave off a vote Sunday by the NABJ board of directors to pull out of Unity, and some board members continued to maintain that Unity had not made significant concessions.

It was not clear that most members of the NABJ board knew about the veto proposal.

Except for the NABJ president, NABJ board members are not part of the Unity deliberations, and the movement on the veto was made in a session where no onlookers were permitted.

With the recession forcing reexaminations of bottom lines, NABJ had submitted several proposals to reorder the way the Unity convention proceeds are divided, and in the end, cited finances as its chief reason for pulling out. It had been outvoted at a conference-call meeting March 12, with none of the other partners — the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association — supporting NABJ's financial proposals.

Under the idea favorably discussed at the Unity meeting, the substitute proposal could not have passed without NABJ's approval.

Robin Washington, an NABJ representative on the Unity board, referred allegorically to the Unity dispute in his March 13 column in the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune.

Without mentioning Unity by name, he suggested that coalition groups could demonstrate respect for all of constituent member organizations by requiring not only a majority vote, but also at least one vote in the affirmative by each coalition group.

Nearly two weeks later, he presented that idea to the Unity board, members confirmed privately. After discussion, a system was proposed in which the president of each organization could veto controversial issues. It became part of the governance changes the presidents of each organization were to work on.

A conference call between the Unity representatives from NABJ and the NABJ board took place during an executive session of an NABJ board meeting on March 30.

But NABJ's representatives on the Unity board viewed things differently from the NABJ board. Journal-isms was told that two wanted NABJ to stay through 2012, one would not give an opinion and one wanted to "explore every option." Other versions vary slightly, but all agree that no NABJ representative on the Unity board urged a pullout.

However, the NABJ board voted 12-1 to leave Unity. Kathy Y. Times, as president, had no vote.

Meanwhile, members of the constituent groups reacted to the NABJ decision.

"NABJ's withdrawal puts UNITY in an extremely difficult position," Veronica Villafañe, a former NAHJ president, wrote in her Media Moves column. "The minority journalist coalition, which is scheduled to meet in Las Vegas in 2012, would face its own financial crisis, given that all of its contracts — hotel, food and beverage — for the event are based on the combined attendance of members from the 4 groups. If they don't meet the stipulated numbers in the hotel contract, for example, UNITY would have to pick up the expense."

Doris Truong, national president of AAJA, told members she would be available to answer questions directly at 1 p.m. Eastern time in a Wednesday conference call.

[See April 13 follow-up item, ". . . 'You Can Take It to the Bank When It's Voted On.' "]

Susan L. Taylor, Once the Face of Essence, Appears in Ebony

Susan L. Taylor, left, and Amy DuBois Barnett Readers might be excused for double takes in reading the April issue of Ebony magazine. Susan L. Taylor, for years the face of Essence magazine, her column on spirituality a front-of-the-book staple, wrote the one-page "One Love: The Journey Home." It appeared in what some might view as Essence's competition.

"Susan is a longtime mentor of mine," Amy DuBois Barnett, Ebony's editor-in-chief, explained to Journal-isms. "The first national magazine I worked for was Essence. She was friends with my mother."

The 130-page April issue was the first under a redesign of the venerable Johnson Publishing Co. monthly, which though family oriented, has black women as its primary customers, as does Essence.

One of Ebony's new sections is "Elevate: Wellness and Spirituality," and no one was as equipped to write on the topic as was Taylor, Barnett said. In what seemed like an echo of Taylor's Essence days, the "One Love: The Journey Home" headline continued, "A devoted spirit finds the path to eternal internal peace."

Taylor ended her Essence career in 2007 after nearly 17 years, succeeded by younger women. She left as editorial director and went on to found the National CARES Mentoring Movement, of which she is CEO.

With its "cover-to-cover, page by page" redesign of Ebony, Johnson Publishing hopes to reverse circulation and advertising losses. The April issue features such non-staff contributors as Toure, Roland S. Martin, Taylor and filmmaker Reginald Hudlin, who co-authored "You Can't Handle the Truth," a graphic novel in serial form produced with Denys Cowan.

The May issue, on sale this week, boasts a 12-page package on multiracial relationships, Barnett said. Reminded that the New York Times recently devoted a Sunday front-page story to the topic, Barnett replied, "please," as if to say one could not compare the two. She also said Taylor might be back in future issues.

Barnett, hired last June, offered this advice for potential Ebony writers:

"Please be sure you've read the magazine. Nothing is more annoying" than demonstrating that you haven't.

In making a pitch, say "why the story is important, why it is important to Ebony readers, and why you are the writer who can bring the story home.

"People should absolutely pitch," she said, but "you're not going to have something in the book if you haven't had publishing experience." However, beginners might be used on the Ebony website, which Barnett also supervises.

BBC footage taken last week in the Ivory Coast. Major fighting tore apart the city of Abidjan before incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo was arrested on Monday. (Credit: BBC) (Video)

Time Reporter Recounts Surviving Ivory Coast Violence

"The French Embassy in Ivory Coast announced on Monday that Ivory Coast security forces had arrested incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo, after major fighting that had torn apart the city of Abidjan since March 31," Time magazine wrote over a story headlined, "Surviving Gbagbo: Escape from Ivory Coast."

"TIME reporter Monica Mark was caught up in the chaos. This is her report of a week of surviving the siege.

"I should really have known better. But I'd lived in Ivory Coast for two years, working as a journalist out of Abidjan, as has my boyfriend Tim Cocks, a reporter for Reuters, and we were comfortable and perhaps too complacent. We certainly knew there was trouble ahead but we thought the war would be over quickly. But now, after one of the longest weeks of my life, I should have realized the reckoning was going to be bloody. The signs were everywhere.

". . . Paradise almost immediately became hellish. Hours later Alexandra," a thin and haggard woman who sought refuge in the hotel, "found herself hiding in a dark cupboard as armed gunmen stormed our hotel looking for hostages. When the invasion took place, Tim and I and the other journalists abandoned a careful worked out emergency plan of proceeding to the roof to await the arrival of Licorne, a word meaning 'unicorn,' the name for the French army in Ivory Coast. Instead, we all collected into a room on the top floor. When shots rang out in the corridor, everybody dropped to the floor, crawling behind sofas or under desks. A colleague lifted the bed for his girlfriend to squeeze underneath. A mobile phone rang, piercing our attempt at stillness, the owner's fingers trembling too much to silence it. Someone crossed themselves three times. Eventually, a flurry of whispered phone calls resulted in the United Nations sending two helicopter gunships to circle overhead. The gunmen fled, taking the hotel manager and four other guests with them.

". . . . Mass panic threatened to engulf us all. The 25 foreign journalists in the building were at loggerheads with the fervently pro-Gbagbo hotel staff, and the mutual suspicion eventually boiled over into open hostility. After another scare, the acting manager, close to hysteria, yelled, 'They first time the gunmen came, they took money and rich businessmen. I have no more money or businessmen. Next time they come, I'll have only journalists to give them, and I will!' "

In March, Libyan government minders tried to prevent Iman al-Obeidi from speaking to foreign journalists. (Credit: Sky News)

Libyan Woman Describes Gang-Rape Nightmare to NPR, AP

"More than two weeks ago, Iman al-Obeidi burst into a Tripoli hotel and told assembled journalists there that she had been gang-raped by members of forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar [Gadaffi] after being stopped at a checkpoint in the capital," NPR reported Wednesday on "Morning Edition."

"NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro snuck out of her guarded hotel Monday with another reporter and went to visit Obeidi at her home. They were the first reporters to independently speak with her in person. Because journalists are unable to report freely in Tripoli, NPR cannot verify her claims. [The second journalist was a female reporter from the Associated Press.]

". . . Wrapped only in a tablecloth and bleeding, Obeidi says she tried to make her way out of the compound, but there was a huge wall and an electric gate. She grabbed a piece of metal and ran at the two African guards who were sleeping, screaming hysterically and demanding that the gate be opened.

" 'The guards were shocked to see a bleeding naked woman with wild hair holding a piece of metal,' she says. 'So they opened the gate for me and I just ran out.'

"And there, she was helped by people in the neighborhood.

" '[The neighbors] put me in a taxi, paid the fare, and I told the taxi driver to take me to the hotel [where the journalists are staying],' she says.

"She says she went there because she knew she would never get justice otherwise." [Added April 12]

Libya's Lies to Journalists Don't Try to Be Convincing

For the more than 100 international journalists cloistered in Tripoli, Libya, at the invitation of the Gadaffi government, "its management — or, rather, staging — of public relations provided a singular inside view of how this autocracy functions in a crisis," David D. Kirkpatrick wrote Sunday for the New York Times.

The Gadaffi government’s "most honest trait might be its lack of pretense to credibility or legitimacy. It lies, but it does not try to be convincing or even consistent," Kirkpatrick continued in his "Memo From Tripoli."

". . . While some Libyan officials have publicly promised foreign journalists the freedom to report, others have sought to manipulate them. One Libyan official privately warned a Times reporter last week not to trust information from people speaking over Internet connections from Misurata because some were in fact government agents trying to trap journalists. He even cited a specific casualty count recently attributed to a Misurata resident in the pages of this newspaper.

"Was that new resident of Misurata who recently made contact in fact a double agent? Maria Golovnina, a Reuters correspondent, received an e-mail purportedly from an exiled opposition figure asking for rebel contacts in Misurata. Could that person, too, be a spy? But both proved legitimate after further communications; the Libyan officials were apparently just playing mind games."

Short Takes

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Paula Madison and NBC

Mr. Prince,

I'm a longtime reader, first time commenter. Thanks for your fine work. I take issue with an inference in the above post.

Namely: "NBC promised that " 'Meet the Press' is committed to having a more diverse group of voices on the show whose opinions and expertise reflect, not just the news of the day, but the cultural, economical and political landscape of our country."  NBC has by and large kept this promise, made last year. Helene Cooper of the New York Times was on Sunday's show.

Helene Cooper is a regular on "Meet the Press" because she is the "New York Times" White House correspondent, and she knows the beat and the players better that most. I'm sure her appearance on that program is not soley meant to fill some quota. I'm sure that's not what you are suggesting, but I thought it fitting to point out. Thank you.

"Meet the Press"

"Helene Cooper is a regular on 'Meet the Press' because she is the 'New York Times' White House correspondent, and she knows the beat and the players better that most. I'm sure her appearance on that program is not soley meant to fill some quota. I'm sure that's not what you are suggesting, but I thought it fitting to point out."

Thanks for this comment. No offense taken. Are you suggesting that all the journalists of color who know their beats and players better than most have a shot on "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation," "This Week," etc.?

Paula Madison

Paula, are you sure you aren't going on tour with Prince? seems too coincidental--I see you on the stage with his royal badness and now this....

But seriously, as the first president of the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Communicators, our dear Paula left an indelible mark in this area and on countless future, aspiring, and working journalists. She's been a source of inspiration and support. Her leadership kept news execs on their toes and over the years she has continued to keep watch and help the "Dallas Mafia" remain strong, focused and vigilant.

As DFW/ABJ prepares to celebrate 30 years of existence, we will be paying tribute to folks like Paula, who made the Dallas-Fort Worth market their home, some for just a season and others for a lifetime. We, along with NABJ and NBC, remain the beneficiary of Paula's dynamic and visionary leadership. We owe her so much!

Paula has had one heck of a career/life and I am excited to see what the next chapter looks like because I know she will continue to be bold, fearless, loving sincere, candid and the epitome of excellence--then we'll put on a little James Brown, and......

Cheryl Smith

Paula Madison

Paula was/is dedicated to professional excellence, and an indefatigable warrior for diversity. Can't really find the words to express what a vacuum her departure will cause, not just at Comcast/NBCU, but to the industry. I sincerely hope she continues to share her wisdom and dedication, no matter what path she takes. Lets also hope Comcast comes up with a fitting and worthy successor who will not only help the Company keep all those promises they made, but use that as a "starting floor," not a "capped ceiling."


I applaud the great achievements of one of the very few black women, Paula Madison, to reach the upper chambers of the old boy network within NBC/Universal now called Comcast/NBC/Universal. But I will state here emphatically and factually that, from the perspective of a Black Male Broadcaster/Journalist/TV/Radio Host with extensive background across the country -- SHE NEVER ASSISTED ME when I personally inquired or contacted her for positions within NBC. She shooed me away or told me to call HR. It's as if she was repelled by someone black, who looked up to her, and asked for assistance in career advancement. Well, I pray to God that I am blessed with abundance and an opportunity to own and operate a media/production company for I know exactly how I'll run the agenda.

BELOW: My Essay:

“BLACK MEN WHO DISAPPEARED IN FRONT OF US”   A species that knows the societal endangered list all too well faces yet another peril.   By Walter Richards Multiple Award Winning Anchor/Correspondent/TV Personality

       Art Norman, Warren Saunders and Byron Harlan in Chicago. Dwight Lauderdale in Miami. John Johnson and Gil Noble in New York City. Larry Carroll, Jim Giggans, Furnell Chatman, Steve Rambo and Warren Wilson in Los Angeles. Jerome Gray in Houston. Julius Harris and Donn Johnson in St. Louis. Choose most any American city on a map and throw a dart at it. In that city there's most likely some well known Black man in the local media who's now not only out of sight -- but mind as well -- WAY OUT OF THE MINDS OF THOSE WHO DO THE HIRING. Who would've thought in the age of time when The United States of America broke the color barrier at The White House, you'll need virtually a team of "explorers' to find a Brother' seated behind the desk, on a local newscast? I ask the question WHAT IS THIS?? The strange and unexplained DISAPPEARANCE OF BLACK MEN -- WHERE DID THEY ALL GO?? See for yourself! Oh yes, you'll still find some of us sitting there where we've been boxed in for decades in the television news industry -- doing the sports or weather, barely. But in the leading man category, African American men have always been limited in presence over the past several decades -- but in 2011(is it really 2011?)  they are all but "extinct." Again -- you'll still see black male talent - relegated to some recorded public affairs program overnight on the weekends -- those kinds of shows you'd flip on the tv after a "red-eye" evening out on the town, as you're passing out on the sofa. Network news programs are involved in this current "trend' as well. Yes, I know, reliable ole Al Roker handles weather and other feature matters on NBC's juggernaut TODAY show and "iron pants" Lester Holt sits in for Matt Lauer during the weekday while helming the Weekend Edition (Weekends?)  TODAY -- but look at all the other network morning shows? Check out CBS Early Show and Good Morning America and, er, FOX and Friends. Don't forget about the venerable CNN's American Morning or Headline News. AND THE BLACK MEN THEY DO HAVE AT CNN ARE SO WATERED DOWN AND "NEWS LITE" THEY BARELY MAKE A WIMPER!  Bernard Shaw where are you and what really led to your CNN departure?   WHAT IS THIS?? MSNBC are you there?? It seems to me that the "NB" in MSNBC stands for NO BLACKS! And when they do put one of us there, well, it's for less than a minute -- at the blink of an eye -- we're gone, with NO DAMN explanation! WHAT IS THIS?? What happened to diversity in the media? In Television and Movies? Oh, I know -- we DO see black men on tv: EITHER IN HANDCUFFS or a MUG SHOT in a 20 second voice-over in' in the newscast. Wait! We also see them running a football down the field in dramatic fashion or on ESPN dunking the ball, smacking a homerun even! BOOYAH!! Okay -- flip over to BET -- WE'RE all there -- bopping in some hip-hop video, with shades on all the time -- salivating over some bootylicious babe. COLOR IN MEDIA! Here we are again, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of MLK Day in America, still talking about this. Well, many are not talking so much as they may be THINKING about it, especially if it's THE "BLACK" ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. The AOL gossip website POPEATER even brought up the subject when correspondent Rob Shuter suggested that Entertainment Tonight Lead correspondent Kevin Fraizer should be in the hunt to take over for Regis Philbin when Philbin retires. Fraizer told Shuter that "America may not be ready for a black Regis. "I don't think a black man's getting that gig." "But didn't America just elect its first African-American president", Shuter asked. "Exactlyreplied Fraizer, "and they might have drawn the line at one!" The same article noted Fraizer's point: There aren't very many persons of color being mentioned to replace Regis on 'Live.' (Anderson Cooper, Neil Patrick Harris and Lisa Rinna have been named.)
"'Live with Regis and Kelly' has always been a very white show. It's fill-in anchors couldn't get any whiter than Anderson Cooper and Neil Patrick Harris," laughed one TV executive. "We still have a long way to go when it comes to seeing people of color on TV and magazine covers." I wonder why that unnamed TV executive laughed about it? WHAT IS THIS? The New York Times, as it tends to examine every so often, even focused on the NO diversity among the list of Oscar nominees. The article, published February 11th called "Hollywood's Whiteout":2010 A Year with Few Blacks in Movies. Writers MANOHLA DARGIS and A. O. SCOTT........ note: What happened? Is 2010 an exception to a general rule of growing diversity? Or has Hollywood, a supposed bastion of liberalism so eager in 2008 to help Mr. Obama make it to the White House, slid back into its old, timid ways? Can it be that the president’s status as the most visible and powerful African-American man in the world has inaugurated a new era of racial confusion — or perhaps a crisis in representation? Mr. Obama’s complex, seemingly contradictory identity as both a man (black, white, mixed) and a politician (right, left, center) have inspired puzzlement among his supporters who want him to be one thing and detractors who fear that he might be something else. Film Director Spike Lee, who helmed the racially explosive "Do The Right Thing" and Malcolm X, among others cutting edge movies, notes in the same article: "We've got a black President and we're going back."       INTERESTING!! The consenus now is that the fact that THERE is a BLACK PRESIDENT, the racial debate and all the "uncomfortable" talk that goes along with that debate is now HISTORY. The dangerous thing here is that THE MAN in the BIG HOUSE just might have sparked the fires in those voices who seeth with contempt that a BLACK MAN's in charge, or at least holds the title of COMMANDER IN CHIEF. RESENTMENT? Consider this: The fiery haterism and division spewed by this TEA PARTY movement and some of the questionable gook that flows out of the mouth of the woman who ran for Vice President in 2008, Sarah Palin.     That New York Times article can go a lot further than HOLLYWOOD. As a media company, The NYT too, got lighter and "whiter" in this "economic downturn" that resulted in massive cutbacks within newsrooms in both print and broadcast. During the past few years of layoffs, contract non-renewals and firings Station and Network Executives will all say the same thing: "due to the economy....", That statement became the catch-phrase of the day. It also is a way to "de-blacken" the landscape. News Directors, General Managers and Editors blame the economy. But months down the road, they'd replace people, and pay newer, maybe higher salaries and you'd be challenged to find any of the newer staff who are people of color. If you really go back and look at a lot of these "retirements" of prominent Black Male media personalities in local markets, you'll find several cases where these guys were backed into a corner, with some calculated way to make them leave. I can not only imagine how these conversations go, I certainly know HOW these executives can word these things. Or---they can just plain throw a guy out the door!! WHAT IS THIS?? Some of us are not adequately compensated and just shut off -- again this largely depends on the integrity, quality and professionalism of the band of executives in charge. Some Black Men in local TV have had the "freedom" to do it their way --- but this is a teeny, weensy group -- pros like the former award-winning Anchor-Reporter who graced the airwaves of Oakland's KTVU for more 40 years, Dennis Richmond. He retired in the spring of 2009. He's one of the longest tenured On-Air titans of any era. BUT RARELY DO BLACK MEN GET THE CHANCE TO LEAVE ON THEIR OWN TERMS -- IT'S MOST ALWAYS A FIERCE, BRUTAL FIRING, LAYOFF(SAME THING)OR THEY JUST PLAIN DIE -- reeling from the stress and strain of all the years FIGHTING AND FUSSING with the BOSS over ADVANCEMENT and EQUITY in position and pay. There is ever, if at all, a cushy, negotiated separation package granted like the KEITH OLBERMANNS of the world a multi-million dollar a year deal, all the while publicly chewing out your bosses. it's a fact now that in 2011, the industry has fiercely backpedaled from all the hard progress and strides that were made over the past 60 years. What would the late Mal Goode have to say about this? As the first black reporter for ABC Network News, he could do a damn, darn compelling documentary about this issue. For that matter, what would Edward R. Morrow, the man who shaped the original development and style of the perennial stable of Old School, Fedora wearing CBS News Correspondents, comment about? What would the late Walter Cronkite, old uncle Walter of CBS News, the iconic Anchor who personally told me in 1985..."you should be in television young man..., say about all this? I think back to all those days growing up idolizing guys like Cronkite and the Black Anchors and News Personalities like Ed Bradley on CBS and later of 60 minutes. Black Men like Max Robinson, the Chicago leg of the ABC trio of World News Tonight Anchors, with Peter Jennings in London and from Washington, Frank Reynolds. As you may know, Robinson died in 1988. Bradley passed away in November 2006. Harold Dow, another inspiration from this group, the longtime CBS News Correspondent, died suddenly in late 2010. As I see it, The Bradleys, Robinsons and Dows blazed the trail for guys like me and the gentlemen mentioned at this top of this column. The thing is though, The Bradleys, Robinsons and the Dows weren't allowed to bring anyone else along with them to the mountain top unlike NBC Emeritus Anchor Tom Browkaw, who handpicked his successor, Brian Williams. Now who does the little black boy watching the local news have to look up to? Well, he scarcely looks, if at all because there's hardly anyone like him to inspire. As for me, I used to be that source of inspiration for those little black boys who aspired to be something they never thought of. But now, as a very familiar face abruptly slashed from the local media landscape of Los Angeles Television,by way of a sudden layoff, I've joined the ranks of "BLACK MEN WHO DISAPPEARED IN FRONT OF US. Again the question: WHAT IS THIS??   Walter Richards is currently workng on his book "Confessions of a Laid Off Newsman" 


Walter Richards

Walter Richards is a nationally known, award-winning television journalist and reporter.  He is probably best known for his 14 year tenure as a news anchor with KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.  He has been the recipient of an Emmy Award for “Best Regularly Scheduled Newscast Over 35 Minutes.” He also received RTNDA’S Golden Microphone Award for “Best Live Coverage of a News Story.”  Prior to that he worked at KTVI-TV in St. Louis, Missouri as a General Assignment Reporter covering the day’s top stories incorporating live remotes; he was also the morning and weekend substitute anchor.  In addition, he has held several national posts as a journalist and reporter.

He was the Recipient of 2 Emmy Awards for “Spot News Coverage” of the “Allendale Tornado” and “Forest Park Shooting” stories and he received 2 National Black Journalist Awards for “Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.”  He is a staunch supporter of initiatives in the black community and an advocate for African American men.

In addition to news work, he appeared on cable television and in feature films.  Mr. Richards is a graduate of the New York Institute of Technology.  He is a community-minded man whose lives by the philosophy “You get back what you put out; choose your ingredients with thought and wisdom."  

Walter Richards Reel:  



Paula Madison/Walter Richards

I don't know Walter Richards, but I do know Paula Madison.  She does not need my voice to respond to Mr. Richards claim of "SHE NEVER ASSISTED ME", but I felt compelled to do so.

I've never worked for Ms. Madison, or any television station she managed. But in 1983, when I was attending my first NABJ convention in New Orleans, there were two Dallas-Ft.Worth based women who guided and supported me as a young African American male, trying to navigate his way into the news business: Ruth Allen Ollison and Paula Walker (now Madison).  It was Paula who "answered" my call, welcomed me to Dallas, and "personally" took me to radio stations, inquiring about job opportunities.  I've never forgotten her influence and assistance.  And when I see her every year at our annual NABJ conference, I never let her forget it.  By 1984, I was a working broadcast journalist.  Over the years, Paula critiqued, praised, challenged and commended my work.  She owes me nothing, but I thank her for everything connected to my career.  She taught me to value my voice in my newsroom.  And for this African American male reporter, albeit, a member of a smaller fraternity today,  I'm still here.  And I believe the entryway was cleared by that tough-talking, no-nonsense, James Brown-loving Jamaican named Paula.


Well, Mr. Pickett you DON'T

Well, Mr. Pickett you DON'T know me and I've never heard of you. But you certainly now KNOW where I'm coming from. Straight Up with no chaser, Brotha! It's way past time that WE stop waiting for others to pave OUR way. Let's take the damn wheel and steer OUR own DIRECTION. And if we have to get out and PUSH the bus uphill -- I'm READY! Are YOU down with it?? 

Congrats Richard Prince! on making top 30 VIBB

Well deserved....I hope my contributions assisted in some small manner......Your body of work on the internet is groundbreaking a role model template  and a foundational place to go when the media and Black folks intersect..... 

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