Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Political Writer Declares for Romney

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Most Journalistic Reaction: "Disapproving"

Study Finds Romney Quoted More Often Than Obama

Obama Grants Fewer Pardons Than Predecessors

MSNBC More Negative on Romney Than Fox Is on Obama

Hispanics Have Higher Percentage of Nonvoters

Some Fault Storm Coverage of Poor People of Color

Blacks "Telling the Stories That Need to Be Told"

2 Chicago Stations Pick Up "Smiley & West"

Short Takes

Robert Vickers, chief political writer for the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., left, and Assistant City Editor Ron Southwick talk presidential politics in March. (Video)(Credit: Patriot-News)

Most Journalistic Reaction: "Disapproving"

Robert Vickers, a black journalist and the political writer at the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., gave some readers at least two reasons to disagree with him Friday. He told them his choice for president, and said that person is Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate.

"Given that my role here is to explain politics to readers, it felt appropriate to divulge my choice and explain how I came to that choice," Vickers told Journal-isms by email.

"It was not a decision that I came to easily, and even now the traditionalist in me is still uneasy. But the walls between straight news and opinion were blown down long before I wrote my column. And rather than leave readers to guess about my preference and speculate on my motivation, I felt my transparency in explaining how I came to my decision would serve the readers."

Vickers, 44, joins what the Pew Research Center found were just 2 percent of African Americans who intend to vote for Romney. Earlier this week, the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader disclosed that Rufus M. Friday, its president and publisher, was another. The percentage of newspaper political writers who disclose publicly their polling-place choices — or are even allowed to — might be just as small.

"There's been two kinds of reaction: that to my voting choice and that to my decision to share it," Vickers said by email. "Most of the journalistic reaction has been disapproving, and I can understand that. Though reporters have flogged their opinions on television and radio for years, they're still uncomfortable doing it in the old gray lady."

Vickers said in his column, ". . . No party consideration, ideology, race or religion factor into my choice — I've never even been a member of the Democratic or Republican parties. It's a pragmatic decision made more about the incumbent than about the challenger. And it's predicated on the hardships the nation must address in 2013.

"It wasn't an easy decision. In his attempt to win the office, Romney has taken such a slew of conflicting positions that Barack Obama has dubbed the tactic 'Romnesia.'

"Americans should legitimately wonder whether Romney even knows what he believes in.

"But I can't vote for President Obama, who was a first-term senator when he was elected president, because he has proved to be out of his depth wading into Washington's shark-infested waters. . . ."

Vickers later participated in an online chat with readers. "A political writer penning an opinion piece is ... unusual," someone identified as "JJ" wrote. "Columnists are supposed to take sides and spout opinions; aren't you supposed to remain neutral? I don't think you would have done this three, five or 10 years ago. Why now?"

Patriot-News Managing Editor Michael Feeley provided one answer in an email exchange with Andrew Beaujon of the Poynter Institute,

Beaujon reported, " 'Robert's immediate editor supported his decision but told Robert he knew it would be a hard sell,' Feeley writes. 'Together, they discussed and worked on the column over several weeks. Robert himself went back and forth.' " Beaujon quoted Feeley's email: "Our initial response was no. Our opinion remained that way for some time. Eventually, we supported his decision.

" 'We demand transparency on how public officials do their job and spend taxpayer money. And I like the idea of reflecting that same kind of transparency and accountability in such an important national debate.

"Vickers is 'primarily a columnist,' Feeley writes, and the paper's management doesn't 'anticipate problems' from his disclosure in terms of how he'll be deployed in the future. 'If conflicts come up, we will weigh them case by case,' Feeley writes."

Vickers added for Journal-isms, "Most of the 'positive' reaction to my choice has come from conservatives and I don't think their rationale for supporting Romney matches mine. But I think they — like too many Americans of all political stripes — just want to hear voices that reflect their own positions.

"The negative reaction from many liberals has been harsh and it seems to come because I differ with their position.

"Friends and folks from the black community have sounded disappointed, but seem oblivious to my rationale. Again, I take this as their reaction to me supposedly going off farm and expressing an opinion they don't share.

"My decision was largely down to my disbelief that President Obama was up to the job of overcoming an obstinate Congress. For whatever reason few people have paid attention to and addressed that rationale."

Vickers said he is both the political writer and a columnist and that his column should not be considered an endorsement. "I say that my opinion was not intended to affect anyone's decision," he told Journal-isms.

Vickers arrived at the Patriot-News in 2011 after having been a reporter at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He taught public relations, media, sport management and globalization courses at Syracuse University and is a former board member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

(Credit: 4th Estate)

Study Finds Romney Quoted More Often Than Obama

"Mitt Romney has been quoted by the media about 50 percent more often than Barack Obama this election, a new analysis shows," Elizabeth Flock reported Tuesday for U.S. News & World Report.

"The data from the 4th Estate Project, which creates visualizations of data relating to the media, shows that Romney was quoted more often than Obama in print, TV and radio, from June 2012 to present. The project used a sample of TV broadcast shows, including CNN, MSNBC and Fox, as well as major print papers, including the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, and radio data from NPR.

"Nearly 62 percent of quotes from the two presidential candidates in these media outlets during that time period came from Romney, while less than 40 percent came from Obama. The data [do] not reveal how many of those quotes were used in negative stories versus positive ones. . . ."

Obama Grants Fewer Pardons Than  Predecessors

"A former brothel manager who helped the FBI bust a national prostitution ring. A retired sheriff who inadvertently helped a money launderer buy land. A young woman who mailed ecstasy tablets for a drug-dealing boyfriend, then worked with investigators to bring him down," Dafna Linzer began Friday for ProPublica.

"All of them and hundreds more were denied pardons by President Obama, who has granted clemency at a lower rate than any modern president, a ProPublica review of pardons data shows.

". . . Obama last granted pardons in November 2011, weeks before ProPublica and the [Washington] Post published a series of stories that found that between 2001 and 2008, white applicants were nearly four times as likely to be pardoned as minorities. African American applicants fared the worst, almost never receiving the pardons office's recommendation. The Justice Department has commissioned an independent study to examine ProPublica's findings. . . ."

MSNBC More Negative on Romney Than Fox Is on Obama

"From the conventions to the eve of the final presidential debate, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have both received more negative than positive coverage from the news media, though overall Obama has had an edge, according to a new study," the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism reported on Friday.

". . . The study also reveals the degree to which the two cable channels that have built themselves around ideological programming, MSNBC and Fox, stand out from other mainstream media outlets. And MSNBC stands out the most. On that channel, 71% of the segments studied about Romney were negative in nature, compared with just 3% that were positive — a ratio of roughly 23-to-1. On Fox, 46% of the segments about Obama were negative, compared with 6% that were positive — a ratio of about 8-to-1 negative. These made them unusual among channels or outlets that identified themselves as news organizations.

"The study also found a difference between the three network evening newscasts and the morning shows. Obama also fared better in the evening, Romney in the morning. . . . "

Hispanics Have Higher Percentage of Nonvoters

"In the final days before Tuesday's election, most of the focus will be on those likely to cast votes," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported Thursday. "But a sizable minority of adults choose not to vote or are unable to vote. By their absence, they also will affect the outcome. Nonvoters are numerous; in 2008, they constituted about 43% of the voting age population.

"Nonvoters favor Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a wide margin (59% to 24%). While most nonvoters (64%) have a favorable view of Obama, just half as many (32%) view Romney favorably.

". . . Nonvoters also are much more likely than voters to be Hispanic: 21% of nonvoters are Hispanic, which is three times the percentage of Hispanics among likely voters (7%). About six-in-ten (59%) nonvoters are white non-Hispanics. By contrast, white non-Hispanics make up about three quarters (74%) of likely voters. . . . "

The station was out of gas, but Harlem residents lined up to wait until there was. Michael J. Feeney of the Daily News in New York messaged Journal-isms Friday,

Some Fault Storm Coverage of Poor People of Color

Kevin Powell, a New York writer and activist, sent this S.O.S. on Friday. "Greetings to all of you. APOLOGIES for the joint email, but deeply involved in Hurricane relief efforts on the ground, and just need to get this out in one shot.

"Respectfully asking you all to pay particular attention to the plight of working-class people in New York City, especially poor people and poor people of color, in areas like Far Rockaway, Staten Island, and the Lower Eastside. My office has been bombarded with complaints of neglect, suffering, etc. and this is just not right. I am willing to funnel information to you all as needed, and hoping you all will provide the media coverage that is not otherwise happening.

"Because I did Hurricane Katrina relief work for over a year in the Gulf Coast, I have seen this before. Asking you to do the right thing by all New Yorkers, and not just the ones who live in certain areas or with certain incomes. And if your particular media outlet cannot do it, or refuses to do so, asking you to encourage your colleagues who can. . . ."

Asked whether his note meant that the news media have not been covering poor people of color, Powell said by email, "The coverage has been AWFUL and barely exists."

A few hours later, April R. Silver, who describes herself as social entrepreneur, activist and writer/editor, posted an essay on Facebook [sign-in required], writing, ". . . This morning, I spoke to my cousin, a proud life-long resident of Far Rockaway. 'April, FEMA, the National Guards, the police, the media...they are all here. We see them. We see them driving right pass us...headed straight to Breezy Point, a gated, wealthy white community out here.' Her family, my other cousins, aunts, and uncles (and their neighbors) do not have heat, water, or power. In some cases, they have been told by officials in their buildings that utilities will not be restored for another four to six weeks, if they've been told anything at all. And what's more insulting to them is how, suddenly, Breezy Point has become all that matters in The Rockaways. The residents know better. The media does not. . . ."

Saturday's New York Times caught up some with the complaints. It featured, above the fold, "In New York's Public Housing, Fear Creeps in With the Dark" by Cara Buckley and Michael Wilson.

Blacks "Telling the Stories That Need to Be Told"

Journalists of color might not be in the forefront of the coverage of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, but Michael J. Feeney, a reporter at the Daily News in New York and president of the New York Association of Black Journalists, assured Journal-isms Friday, ". . . We're definitely out there and telling the stories that need to be told."

Feeney wrote in a message:

"I'm extremely proud of the coverage and the contributions made by so many black journalists in the aftermath of Sandy. It's hard to name everyone, but we're definitely out there and telling the stories that need to be told.

Simone Weichselbaum"But some have really stood out. NYABJ member Dan Bowens of FOX 5 was down on the Jersey Shore reporting before and after Sandy hit. He's been doing a phenomenal job. I know at the NY Post reporters Ikimulisa Livingston and Christina Carrega (who doesn't have power in her own home) have been contributing. My colleagues at the NY Daily News have also been getting in on the action: Jennifer Cunningham and Simone Weichselbaum. Simone had a good story about people diving in dumpsters to collect food that had been thrown away by a supermarket. I know Jennifer has been all over the city, including Bellevue Hospital where people had to be evacuated.

"NBC's Mara Schiavocampo and Ron Allen have also gotten a piece of the coverage. WNBC's Pat Battle has been reporting from New Jersey. WABC's Anthony Johnson, Kemberly Richardson. Deon Hampton of Newsday has been out on Long Island, one of the hardest hit areas (he also lost power in his home). Josh Barker of the NY Amsterdam News has been covering the aftermath in Rockaway, Queens. NY1 News also had a stable of black reporters out in the field: Dean Meminger, Ruschell Boone (I can't name them all . . . ) [Readers have since added Al Roker, co-anchor and weather and feature anchor on NBC's "Today" show and Ron Claiborne, ABC News correspondent.]

Robert Moore

"Cheryl Wills of NY1 News has been anchoring a lot their coverage; she had to stay in a hotel during Sandy and the power went out. NY1 News lost power during the storm and were briefly off air. But they have done an excellent job. The NY Daily News also lost power during the storm and there was three feet of water in the lobby. Our e-mail system and office phones remain down and the staff has been spread out all over the place — and they still managed to put out the paper.

"I should point out that the coverage at the NY Daily News is being led by Robert Moore, the first black managing editor of news at the paper. Man, there have been so many black journalists doing a great job. I haven't had a chance to view and read everything — but that's just what comes to mind. . . . "

Feeney later added Newsday reporters Aisha Al-Muslim, Keith Herbert, Olivia Winslow, Lauren Harrison and Zachary Dowdy, the Huffington Post's Trymaine Lee and the New York Post's Leonard Greene, who shared a byline on the tragic story of two small Staten Island boys who died when the storm swept them from their mother's arms.

Among the journalists of color at the New York Times, culture writer Felicia R. Lee wrote "Downtown Theaters Are Still Dark" on Thursday; Raymond Hernandez wrote that day's big story, "Bloomberg Backs Obama, Citing Fallout From Storm, and Ray Rivera, who covers Connecticut, shared a byline with Peter Applebome on "In Connecticut, a Sense That the Storm's Impact Could Have Been Worse." Photos by Chang W. Lee were among those featured on the Lens blog's "Glimmers of Light in a Darkened City."

Latinas on the network morning shows — Elizabeth Vargas of ABC's "Good Morning America" and Natalie Morales of NBC's "Today" — also reported from the storm scene.

2 Chicago Stations Pick Up "Smiley & West"

"Tavis Smiley is returning to Chicago radio in a big way," Robert Feder wrote Tuesday for Time Out Chicago.

"Not one but two local stations are picking up the weekly radio show he hosts with Cornel West for Public Radio International. Smiley & West will air at 3pm Sundays on Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT-AM (820), starting this weekend. It also will air at 11am Saturdays on Midway Broadcasting urban news/talk WVON-AM (1690), starting November 10.

"Until late last month, the show had been on Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5). It was dropped after station bosses cited concerns about fairness and balance. Smiley later blasted the decision as 'demeaning, derogatory and dead wrong.' In a related move, WCPT also is adding Smiley's other PRI program, The Tavis Smiley Show, at 2pm Sundays. Leading up to the premiere, WCPT will air a Smiley & West Uncensored marathon from 10pm Saturday to 7am Sunday."

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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Writer Declares 4 Romney

My vote cancels his.

Cross-postings from the Root

Joe Bennett Only 23 negative to 1 positive? MSNBC should own the "Fair and Balanced" slogan.

Cachae A. Thomas While many Americans feel a bit disillusioned over Obama's performance, nobody really understands just how "Bad" our economy was when he took office. As far as I'm concerned, he saved this country from certain financial ruin, and even though it costs $$ to fix it, the damage left by Bush Jr. didn't just "disappear" overnight.

Republicans have desecrated this country almost beyond repair - Every Republican has outspent every Democrat on Special-Interest pet-projects while running America into the ground. The "Change" that we all believed in is why Obama became president in the first place!

You have NO idea how much pressure and micro-managing he must do while Not mentioning Race, Not Mentioning Bush's mess, and Not mentioning how badly Congress won't cooperate with his leadership — all while playing within the boundaries of Washington politics — Yes, race has everything to do with why this country can't move "forward"

In the last 3 years, they haven't voted on one a single measure to improve this nation's economic standing...We clearly have a revenue problem because so many people are unemployed, and even those rules have changed... There are petitions to bring back Customer Service Reps and other IT jobs back to America - but they are slow to move on them.

And while it may take another 10 years to fully recover to the year 2000 economic prosperity - for anyone who's still undecided, think about the election this way - to Vote for Romney truly is a Vote Against Obama...

This article helped me make an "'Unbiased" decision — Which One: Obama or Romney — the lesser of two evils!

I'd rather stick with the person I know will move this country forward, than someone who can't make up their minds about "which" direction to take!

My Book: Random Thought — How Race and Economy Matter — will soon be available by Ditigal Download. Ed Meyr and Angelica14 like this.

Angelica14 I agree. Republicans have trashed the American people and the country, too. They seem to think that we have unlimited resources that they can exploit.

BlackTruth I support his right to endorse who he wants and I too, don't believe Obama want the fight with the up coming Congress. I think win the first time was all he wanted and the heavy lifting of the job was not in him.

ministerbruce As I do as well, it's is his right, even to be wrong, as is your right to believe President Obama, has is in him for the heavy lift of leadership, you're wrong again, but be that as it may. President Obama has shown in many different situations, to up to the task, of leadership, from Foreign Policy to Domestic Policy, what he cannot do is be by-partisan for the opposition, he cannot be cooperative, or compromising for you, if you chose to not be cooperative, or compromising and that is what is faced by our Congress and private business. I say, vote in a Democratic Party Majority and get it done and lets see if the Presidents Policies, are good for the Nation and the economy and for Jobs. We've not see this except for the short year and half plus of a paper thin majority and even that was with out by-partisanship and cooperation, or little to no compromise. Heavy lift was not ever a point for me, he did that when he had cooperation, even with moderate Democrats, sand bagging compromise and cooperation, he lifted our nation from a possible Depression, give him credit, that's history.

Pea Scott "But I can't vote for President Obama, who was a first-term senator when he was elected president, because he has proved to be out of his depth wading into Washington's shark-infested waters. . . ."

I have NO problem with Vickers choice, however HIS reason as well as those of Rufus M. Friday trouble me.

Vickers said President Obama appear to be "out of his depth". Yet do you want a politician sooo smooth in playing the "political game" they forget their BOSS is "we the people"?

I can see Willard knows exactly how to play the game. But I find NO comfort in a man, who KNOWS what he needs to say to each and every audience. But has NO ONE position he stands on with EVERY audience except his religion, Mormonism.

Willard's Etch-A-Sketch persona leaves me feeling he's a fake. There is NO nuance in his explanation for his "change of positions". And when you can "change positions" within seconds, WHO the hell are you and WHAT do you stand for in the first place!

As for Rufus, to lay blame at President Obama's feet entirely for the mess in Washington is ignoring the "other" branch of government. Had he found ANY REAL effort from Republicans to do SOMETHING FOR the country and NOT something for THEIR party base. I could respect that.

The Republican party has shown the entire country that defeating President Obama is their FIRST and ONLY job. Their REAL JOB, the one "we the people" elected them to do comes secondary.

They both, Vickers and Rufus, have presented lame reasons for NOT voting for President and NO REASON to vote for Willard.

But Black folks are not a tribe, we ARE individuals. I just wish these two individuals had reasonable, rational reasons, which I could respect.

Black Diaspora As usual, Pea Scott, an excellent response. Robert Vickers rationale for voting for Romney is lean at best and emaciated, leaving me to believe that he endorsed the perennial liar and waffler, Willard Romney, for reasons other than that those he expressed — perhaps to impress someone or someones who are in a position to advance his career.

His was an act of self-immolation, as his endorsement in this election, given Republicans' autocratic attempt to steal this election for Romney with voter suppression shenanigans — ranging from demanding strict voter IDs to the reduction of early voting, and voter roll purging--should sicken and repulse every voter notwithstanding their political persuasion, and not become the impetus for rewarding that behavior with a win for the Team RomRy.

For the same reason, I respect Colin Powell's decision, but not Condi Rice's, as both are aware of how this president was subjected to incessant Niggerization by the Right from the beginning, and how the country was made to suffer needlessly so that Republicans might once again steer the ship of state.

Frankly, the Right's anti-democratic and anti-electoral zeal — and the support that Republicans have received from many of their fellow Americans, millions of whom are willing to overlook their autocratic behavior — is making me rethink just how much support I'm willing to provide this nation in coming years, regardless of how this presidential election shakes out.

roxlaw Afraid of what will happen to Black folks under romney, the black 'pragmatists' jump ship in hopes that they'll be dealt the few crumbs that will be parceled out to those that sold their souls for a few dollars.

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