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Plot Thickens on Obama-Malcolm X Mix-Up

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Thursday, May 6, 2010
Washington Post Sees Hoax; Gawker Says It Doesn't

Roland Martin's Ascot Prompts Jon Stewart Routine

Village Voice Media to Bankroll Suit Against Arizona

Sports Columnists Join Debate Over Immigration Law

Jackson State Killings Still in Kent State's Shadow

Johnson Publishing Introduces "MyJet247" Website

NABJ to Honor Michelle Singletary for Community Work

41% of Births Are to Unmarried Women

Short Takes


Washington Post Sees Hoax; Gawker Says It Doesn't

Washington Post editors have concluded that a website mix-up of photos of President Obama and Malcolm X was most likely a hoax, but the editor of, where news of the mix-up first surfaced, insists otherwise.

Remy Stern"We really don't believe this was a hoax," Remy Stern told Journal-isms.

"We're fairly confident that either someone at the Washington Post made the error and that person or someone else quickly corrected it (but did not mention what happened to his/her superiors); or the person who sent us the image experienced some sort of browser glitch which resulted in photos and captions in the slideshow not loading properly."

As Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander related in his blog on Thursday, "The Post took a beating in the blogosphere last week for running an online photo of Malcolm X over a caption for President Obama. Predictably, it prompted a flurry of Can't-Tell-the-Leader-of-the-Free-World ridicule. But after an internal investigation, Post editors have concluded the case of mistaken identity was most likely a hoax.

" 'We are inclined to believe that it was not something that happened here,' Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said."

Marcus Brauchli" 'Our initial response was to think that we had made a mistake and that we had corrected it,' Brauchli told me. 'But our staff continued to review it because no one could recall being the one to correct it.'

"Unable to explain what had happened, Brauchli ordered a deeper inquiry. 'We've reviewed all of our technical records and done an audit of our code, and we can't find any evidence that it was changed, and then changed back, by us,' he said.

' 'I can't say 100 percent for sure' that it was a fabrication, he said. 'We have a lot of data that's cached in servers around the country. It's very remotely possible that something was cached badly and it appeared in that way [on the Web site]. But we think that's unlikely.'

"Other than being alerted by New York magazine, Brauchli said, the newsroom did not hear from any readers who actually saw the mismatched photo and caption on The Post's Web site. The ombudsman's office received a flurry of complaints from readers, but they were all reacting to mentions of the reported snafu on Web sites or blogs."

Asked for comment, Stern told Journal-isms early Friday:

"We really don't believe this was a hoax. After we read the Washington Post piece this morning, we contacted the person who originally sent us the screenshot in order to confirm his story, which he did.

"We also heard from a colleague of his who was present at the time and who saw the caption on his co-worker's computer screen.

"In addition, the tipster contacted us using his real name and from his company email account (where he holds a position of importance) and we find it highly unlikely he would have tried to pass off an image that he'd photoshopped under those circumstances."

Roland Martin's neckwear 'may be my favorite thing I've ever seen on CNN,' said Jon Stewart, right.

Roland Martin's Ascot Prompts Jon Stewart Routine

Jon Stewart had four minutes of fun Wednesday night riffing on Roland Martin's decision to appear on a CNN news show wearing an ascot. (Video)

"Now, the only explanation I can think of for the ascot [is] perhaps they interrupted Roland Martin while he was hosting his other show, 'Remy Martin Presents The Situation Grotto,' " Stewart joked on his "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central.

"Is this CNN's big plan to come back in the ratings? Just get a bunch of costumes and let the anchors play dress-up?

"This may be my favorite thing I've ever seen on CNN."

The following night, Martin responded, on CNN's "Campbell Brown" show with guest Mary Matalin, the Republican political consultant.

MARTIN: "Mary, Jon Stewart asked why, why wear an ascot on national television? Mary, I'll tell you. Because this country is going to a hell in a hand basket. We're lost. We succumbed to the insane desires of this new generation that is devoid of a common purpose of Americans.

"Mary, why an ascot? Because I want my America back. I want to reclaim the soul and the style that made us the greatest country on earth. We have abandoned the stylistic principles of the founding fathers and their wigs and top hats and ruffled tops, for the God awful look of flip-flops and T-shirts and baggy pants and sweats.

"Jackie O. took [it] up to new heights. Now we have the fashion sense of James Carville. Look, I want to help restore the values of America, Mary. I want us to be great again. I want an ascot for every God-fearing boy and man. It is time that we reclaim our history, Mary. It is time that we return to our roots as a leader in fashion. Join me in this fight and accept this call to arms and may we all rediscover what it means to be an American.

"We are, Mary, the United States of ascots."

MATALIN: "God bless — I was with you until you brought up flip-flops. And you thought you were going to get a rise out of me on Carville."

MARTIN: "Oh, no, I should have known."

MATALIN: "We know Carville still wears — you know I wear flip-flops to work every day . . . I feel your pain, Jon Stewart, but we love you. We love Colbert more."

MARTIN: "As we say —"

MATALIN: "But get out of your suit and pick up an ascot."

MARTIN: "As we say, Mary —"

MATALIN: "You're right, Roland, I'm jealous."

MARTIN: "Don't hate, congratulate, and Jon Stewart might let you celebrate."

Village Voice Media to Bankroll Suit Against Arizona

Village Voice Media, the nation's largest group of alternative weeklies, is underwriting the cost of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona's forthcoming litigation against the new immigration law, as well as two other immigration lawsuits, the company has announced.

"Senate Bill 1070 mandates that a police officer who has 'reasonable suspicion' that someone is a Mexican must detain that person. The cop must ask: Are your papers in order?" the company explained last week.

"Arizona has chosen to insist that all law enforcement in the state adopt the police-state tactics of infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio," continued the statement from Michael Lacey, executive editor, and Jim Larkin, chairman and chief executive officer.

"Beyond the issue of immigration, Village Voice Media's journalists in Phoenix have been targets of the sheriff. Writers, editors, and our publisher have been stonewalled and harassed. The pursuit of public records has led to the filing of criminal charges against a reporter.

"The entire editorial staff was the target of a criminal grand jury, and the identities of our online readers were the subject of a subpoena. That particular fight led to the arrests and jailing of New Times founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.

"The lawsuit from those arrests is in the appellate court.

"For the past couple of years, Village Voice Media's newspapers have helped finance the ACLU's efforts to protect the rights of immigrants. Much work beyond the lawsuit remains on the immigration front.

"We would like to extend an invitation to you, our readers, to join in this struggle against the cracker policies of Arizona politicians and certain elements within law enforcement typified by Sheriff Arpaio."

Village Voice newspapers include New York's Village Voice; LA Weekly; OC Weekly in Orange County, Calif.; Seattle Weekly; Minneapolis City Pages; the Nashville Scene; New Times Broward/Palm Beach in Florida; Dallas Observer; Denver Westword; Houston Press; Kansas City Pitch; Miami New Times; Phoenix New Times; SF Weekly; Seattle Weekly and St. Louis Riverfront Times.

Sports Columnists Join Debate Over Immigration Law

With the Phoenix Suns' unanimous decision to play in the NBA playoffs Wednesday in jerseys with "Los Suns" emblazoned across them, and calls for sports teams to boycott Arizona, sports columnists joined the national debate over immigration reform.

"Sometimes, financial penalties are the only way to effect change," declared Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News.

"But what about the interest of American citizens residing in Arizona?" asked Stephen A. Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It's the job of our politicians to resolve these matters. That is why they were elected, after all."

Columns by sportswriters and others:


Jackson State student Carl Griffin, center, describes the scene of the campus shooting in May 1970 to Sen. Walter Mondale, D-Minn., left, and Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., from the shattered window of Alexander Hall, a women's dormitory. Bullet holes are still obvious in the facade. (Credit: Jackson Clarion-Ledger)

Jackson State Killings Still in Kent State's Shadow

News stories this week commemorated the 40th anniversary of the tragedy at Kent State University in Ohio, where four students were killed on May 4, 1970, after Ohio National Guard troops fired at some 600 anti-war demonstrators.

May 14 marks the 40th anniversary of a similar tragedy at historically black Jackson State College in Jackson, Miss., where two students died. But now as then, the event is receiving much less attention.

On National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" Monday, NPR's Rebecca Roberts said the difference in news media coverage "has become one of the things talked about when people mention the Jackson State incident." She asked Gene Young, a student at Jackson State in 1970 who is now a civil rights activist and taught at Jackson State, why that is.

"On the surface, Kent State was four white students in Ohio. Jackson State and Orangeburg were black colleges in the South," Young replied, referring to a third episode — one at South Carolina State at Orangeburg on Feb. 8, 1968, that left three students dead.

"Two black students on a black college campus in Mississippi that had the history of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. It was just another day of business as usual, racist law enforcement officials victimizing black people in Mississippi."

Young described what happened: "John Roy Lynch Street in Jackson, Miss., was a major thoroughfare. And motorists would drive through the campus making racist [epithets], making secular innuendos against some of the black female students on that campus.

"And things just came to a head when law enforcement officials marched onto the campus in front of Alexander Hall women's dormitory. And shortly after midnight, a bottle broke on the pavement and law enforcement officials fired over 200 rounds of bullets into a women's dormitory from the bottom floor to the top floor. And the miracle of that particular night, although it was tragic, that only two students were killed that night — James Earl Green, a high school student at Jim Hill who was on his way home from a part-time job and Philip Lafayette Gibbs, a junior, a pre-law major from Ripley, Miss., who was standing in front of the dormitory when the police opened fire without warning."

On April 29, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that Jackson State — now Jackson State University — planned a 40th anniversary observance that day, on a campus "where the bullet holes in Alexander Hall still fill a number of lives."

But the Clarion-Ledger does not plan anything more for the anniversary. "Between an oil spill and tornadoes on back-to-back weekends, we've had little time for anything else," Managing Editor Don Hudson told Journal-isms.


Johnson Publishing CEO Linda Johnson Rice called MyJet247 'a new digital platform fulfilling a consumer need for ‘snackable’ and credible content from a trusted source.'

Johnson Publishing Introduces "MyJet247" Website

"Jet, the weekly African American-focused magazine, has rolled out a new Web project, MyJet247. The new site features specific verticals like news-focused Jet Buzz, Jet Beauty and Jet Style; several high-profile contributors; and a video section," Mike Taylor reported Friday for MediaBistro.

"The new site is part of a broader effort by Jet parent Johnson Publishing, which also runs Ebony, to reposition its brands as more than just magazines. Melvin P. Young, Johnson's acting chief marketing officer, says the company is looking to solidify Jet as a purveyor of quick takes on entertainment and news. Ebony, meanwhile, will focus more on driving a longer-term conversation among its readers.

"MyJet247 has been hiring freelance writers to cover its multiple areas of coverage. So far Jet has rounded up celebrity bloggers Monica Barnett, Kelley Carter and Celena Gill, as well as entertainment reporter Miki Turner."

Spokeswoman Wendy E. Parks listed these principals: "From an editorial perspective, Mira Lowe, editor-in-chief of JET, in conjunction with Linda Johnson Rice, chairman and CEO and Anne Sempowski Ward, president and COO, will oversee the site; From a branding perspective, Melvin P. Young, acting chief marketing officer, in conjunction with Linda Johnson Rice, chairman and CEO and Anne Sempowski Ward, president and COO, will oversee the site." She said the effort was separate from

NABJ to Honor Michelle Singletary for Community Work

Michelle Singletary, syndicated "Color of Money" personal finance columnist for the Washington Post, has won the National Association of Black Journalists' Community Service Award, NABJ announced on Thursday.

"The award is for my work in creating and directing 'Prosperity Partners Ministry,' a program where men and women who handle their money well mentor others who are having financial challenges," Singletary told readers. "Last year, we took the ministry to prison. I created the program and then teamed up with several organizations to take it to inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women and the Central Maryland Correctional Facility, which houses male inmates.

"I've always felt that part of my mission was not just to write about personal finance but to get involved one-on-one with helping people better themselves financially."

41% of Births Are to Unmarried Women

A record four in 10 births, 41 percent, were to unmarried women in 2008, including most births to women in their early 20s, according to a report Thursday from Gretchen Livingston and D’Vera Cohn of the Pew Research Center. "In 1990, 28% of births were to unmarried women. The unmarried-mother share of births has increased most sharply for whites and Hispanics, although the highest share is for black women," they said.

The Pew report, timed for Mother's Day, is based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau. It also presents results of a nationwide Pew survey that asked a range of questions about parenthood, the center said.

Among other findings, "Mothers of newborns are older now than their counterparts were two decades ago. In 1990, teens had a higher share of all births (13%) than did women ages 35 and older (9%). In 2008, the reverse was true — 10% of births were to teens, compared with 14% to women ages 35 and older. Each race and ethnic group had a higher share of mothers of newborns in 2008 who are ages 35 and older, and a lower share who are teens, than in 1990."

Also, "White women made up 53% of mothers of newborns in 2008, down from 65% in 1990. The share of births to Hispanic women has grown dramatically, to one-in-four."

And, "When asked why they decided to have their first (or only) child, the overwhelming majority of parents (87%) answer, 'The joy of having children.' But nearly half (47%) also say, 'There wasn't a reason; it just happened.'"

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 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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