Politico Denies It Saw Comments as Racist
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Contreras Launches Attack Ad in NAHJ Race
Fired Writer Defends Using Unattributed P.R. Material
S. African Cartoon Depicts President as Male Body Part
When Women Sued Newsweek for Sex Bias, and Won
In 2010, John F. Harris, Politico editor-in-chief, second from left, said Politico was not as white and male as it looked on CNN's 'Reliable Sources.' Nevertheless, Harris said this week, 'At one point, early in our existence, I was quite unsatisfied with our progress' on diversity. (Video). (Credit: CNN)
Joseph Williams' television statements and his "controversial tweets" about Mitt Romney "were not an offense that should have led to [Williams] leaving Politico," according to Gregory H. Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Meanwhile, John F. Harris, Politico's editor-in-chief, denied that he viewed Williams' comments about Romney as racist, an accusation made by conservative commentators.
"I was more interested in whether the comments met our standards of what we consider fair," Harris told Tracie Powell, writing Friday for the Poynter Institute. "We have expectations for our reporters [who appear on television] that are the same as when they are writing under their bylines. We want them to reflect that it's our job to observe politics in a non-partisan way."
"Harris acknowledges that it is sometimes tough for journalists to do that these days, when there is a lot of pressure to pick sides, especially on cable news channels with their fundamental interest in ideological arguments, Powell wrote. "We ask, we insist, that our people don't partake in that," Harris said. "We’re there as neutral observers."
On June 21, Williams made a remark on MSNBC suggesting that Romney, the putative Republican presidential nominee, was comfortable only around white people. "The video was first flagged by conservative website Washington Free Beacon. Breitbart.com ran the video and also flagged a series of tweets Williams had written that made fun of the Republican candidate, particularly in regard to his wealth," Dylan Byers wrote at the time for Politico.
One of the flagged tweets — authored by someone else— read, "BREAKING: If people are able to vote, Obama will win." Williams retweeted it, adding, "GOP definition of 'voter fraud.' "
Referring to Politico, Lee told Powell, "If they are feeling the pressure from a group of people, it would be unfortunate that they couldn’t stand up to that."
As Powell noted, Williams' departure from Politico is part of a longer story that began back in 2009 when NABJ and others publicly chastised the publication for its lack of diversity.
Powell wrote, Lee "says that while the company has made some diverse hires, there is still a severe lack of African Americans and other persons of color in newsroom management. 'Politico has said diversity is a priority, but the numbers just don’t bear it out,' Lee told Poynter in a telephone interview, adding that he planned to reach out to both Williams and Politico. Lee said he is particularly interested in the kind of support system Politico has in place for journalists of color, especially those in management."
In the story, Harris said, "I see Politico as a place of opportunity because we are growing . . . We've got responsibilities and obligations broadly in the newsroom to be more diverse. At one point, early in our existence, I was quite unsatisfied with our progress in that. I would say now I am still not satisfied, but I am more encouraged by the efforts we’ve made."
Politico has not disclosed its diversity figures, citing company policy, even though Harris was a board member of the American Society of News Editors, which conducts an annual diversity census.
- Michael Calderone, Huffington Post: Inside The Cult: Politico At A Crossroads
- James Causey blog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Black journalist suspended for comment (June 27)
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has decided that Mario Guevara, the reporter who was denied political asylum and ordered to return to El Salvador with his family, is a candidate for "prosecutorial discretion," according to an ICE spokesman.
"Mario says the media coverage led to the [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] contacting his attorney to notify them that he was a candidate for prosecutorial discretion and would close his case, putting a halt to deportation proceedings," Veronica Villafañe reported Thursday for her Media Moves site.
"But that offer isn't enough. They didn't say anything about work authorization or legal status. I can't stay here undocumented, knowing how difficult life is if you don’t have papers. And I can't go back to El Salvador. It's dangerous not only for me, but for my children. I can't risk their lives," Guevara said, according to Villafañe.
"In 24 hours, almost 800 people have signed an online petition calling to stop the deportation of Mario Guevara and his family."
Kate Bumback of the Associated Press reported Thursday that Guevara's lawyer, Byron Kirkpatrick, said he still plans to go forward with an appeal of the immigration court judge's ruling on the asylum request.
"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency in charge of work authorization, said it cannot comment on individual cases because of the federal Privacy Act," Bumback reported
Guevara is a reporter for Mundo Hispánico, the Spanish-language weekly published by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
"His situation was aggravated by the fact his wife was arrested on Tuesday, July 3, for driving with an expired license," Villafañe reported.
". . . he claims that last year the [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] made a mistake and denied his wife a work authorization extension, even though his was approved. Mario's job permit expires December 12.
" 'That's why her license had expired. We were waiting for our court hearing to resolve everything,' says Mario. 'When they arrested her, I decided to go public with our situation. . . ."
- Mariella Saavedra, America's Voice: Undocumented Journalist Mario Guevara Faces Deportation to El Salvador
Anzio Williams, who just left KCRA-TV in Sacramento, Calif., after five years as news director, is joining NBC-owned WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, the nation's fourth largest television market, as vice president of news, NBC announced on Friday.
"I'm so proud to be part of the hardest working news team in Philadelphia," Williams said in a news release. "This is a great news town, and I cannot wait be a part of this community."
"We're thrilled to welcome Anzio to our leadership team," said Eric Lerner, WCAU's president and general manager. "He has a distinguished record of accomplishments as a news manager and as a proven leader. He is a great addition to our team."
Williams was news director at WDSU in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit the area in 2005. Williams also served as assistant news director at WESH-TV in Orlando and WCNC-TV in Charlotte, N.C.
Williams succeeds Chris Blackman, who left the station June 15 after 26 years at NBC.
"Larry Graham will be joining us this fall as our executive sports editor. Larry is currently an NFL editor at ESPN.com," Jeff Light, editor of UT-San Diego, formerly the San Diego Union-Tribune, told staff members in a memo on Thursday.
"Larry has run columnists and bloggers at the nation's top sports dot.com, worked the desk at big metro, ground it out at weeklies and run the show at small dailies. He has seen the tumult of the changing media landscape up close. He has strong opinions about the resourcefulness and determination it takes to succeed. You will find Larry to be a creative person with a vision for our multi-media reality. He has the range, the vision and the work ethic that our business today demands."
"Mike and John and I have agreed to add a number of positions to sports help us build something special. Larry will be recruiting for as we gear up for the fall," he said, referring to Mike Hodges, president of the company, and John Lynch, CEO.
Graham joined ESPN a year ago after being sports editor of the 50,500-circulation Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer.
Light told Journal-isms by email, "Larry's reputation in sports journalism circles was the key. We think he's a great fit for what we are trying to do with this company."
Graham's appointment will return to two the number of African American sports editors at daily newspapers. The other is Lisa Wilson, executive sports editor at the Buffalo News.
Three weeks after the candidates for president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists pledged to forgo personal attacks, a video promoting Russell Contreras characterizes rival Hugo Balta as one who has "missed half of his meetings while on the board" and who represents gambling away the organization's future.
The video by Contreras, who is vice president for print and chief financial officer, was removed from its YouTube perch by early Saturday. However, it remained on his campaign's Facebook page and his Tumblr account, and was posted elsewhere on YouTube.
The video is set in Las Vegas, site of the upcoming Unity convention. "Don't Gamble Away NAHJ's Future — HalftimeInNAHJ" touts Contreras as the candidate who "brought NAHJ its first surplus" in years and "who had perfect attendance as financial officer."
Balta, by contrast, "missed half of his meetings while on the board . . . and left NAHJ more than $300,000 in the red."
While neither Contreras nor his campaign manager, Suzanne Gamboa, responded to an emailed request for comment Friday, Contrereas introduced the video on his Facebook page by saying: "Here's the latest video from HalftimeInNAHJ. The campaign is set to discuss our record and the record of our opponents so NAHJ members can make a clear choice on the next NAHJ board. Our campaign slate will refrain from personal attacks but will fairly contrast our records."
Balta, a former vice president for broadcast, said by email:
"I'm disappointed that Russell continues his personal attack campaigns against me. He knows well that I was unable to attend certain Board meetings because I had been laid off and was searching for a new opportunity. I discussed my dilemma with then NAHJ president Ricardo Pimentel, who was understanding and helped me stay active with my duties on the Board during a very difficult time for me and my family. For Russell to use that against me...I just hope he never has to go through what I and so many members have gone through. You don't kick someone when [they're] down, you lift them up on your shoulders, so they can reach higher than before."
[On Saturday, Balta released his own video responding to Contreras.]
Meanwhile, supporters of television reporter Sal Morales of the NAHJ's South Florida chapter said the NAHJ elections committee discouraged him from running for the general at-large seat, leaving only one candidate on the ballot, Elizabeth Alvarez, a member of Contreras' HalftimeInNAHJ slate.
"Our members are very concerned that appears to be unfair targeting of certain candidates with very little transparency," Frances Robles of the Miami Herald, a former NAHJ board member, told Journal-isms by email. "We hear a lot of noise about 'vetting' and reference-checking and want to know what that's all about. Is that something that takes place in every election?
"The irony here is that I really am not crazy about the idea of unemployed board members. But I think that's for me as a voter to decide, not an elections committee."
She added later, "I spoke to Sal and asked him whether it was OK to pass on his telephone number. He's really concerned that this debate about his candidacy will become a cause celebre by people with agendas against the organization, and that's the last thing he wants.
"He said it was OK to tell you that he was thrilled to see the heart-warming responses to my posts on Facebook but would like to work it out within the group."
Rebecca Aguilar, a freelancer who is NAHJ general at-large officer, supported Morales in a Facebook posting. "As you all know, I'm a current NAHJ board member, and also running for VP of Online. I am also a proud freelance reporter. I was also questioned by the election committee. They wanted to see if I was really getting paid," she wrote.
"I don't think it's fair that Sal Morales is not being allowed to run for office. Does the elections committee have a crystal ball and know that he has no freelance opportunities in the future. He could get a freelance gig tomorrow and then what? Life of the freelancer is hard to predict, but knowing Sal he's going to start getting freelance work soon.
"If Sal is willing to dip into his savings to pay for his food and hotel expenses to board meetings; then he should be allowed to run. He's been a loyal NAHJ member for years. I will say that NAHJ does not have the money to pay expenses for board members to go to board meetings.
". . . we allowed two board members to stay on when they should have been told to leave. We cannot have one set of rules for board members and another for members."
Elaine Aradillas, election committee chair, did not respond to an inquiry from Journal-isms.
[Aradillas posted this note on Facebook on Sunday: "I am out of town on assignment with spotty access to internet, so I'm just now catching up with all of this. Let me start off by saying that I am proud of the work done by the committee. As a committee, we spoke to candidates, their employers and references. We followed the bylaws and the election guide. I am sorry if people feel they were pressured, warned, discouraged, etc. I believe our group has been fair and professional. As for Sal, I spoke with him and he withdrew his nomination. I told him I would keep our conversation private, which I have done."] [Updated July 9.]
"A former columnist claims in court that the Kansas City Star defamed him after firing him for using what he says almost all reporters use — press releases," Joe Harris reported Thursday for Courthouse News Service.
"Steve Penn worked for the Star from 1980 to July 2011. His last position was writing a thrice-weekly general interest column about upcoming high school and college sports events, for which Penn says he occasionally used press releases.
" 'The widespread practice in journalism is to treat such press releases as having been voluntarily released by their authors into the flow of news with the intention that the release will be reprinted or published, and preferably with no or minimal editing,' Penn says in his complaint in Jackson County Court.
" 'As such, attribution of such news releases is typically not expected by the author, nor offered by journalists who receive them.'
"Penn claims that it was 'the widespread practice at the Star ... to use these press releases without attribution'."
In May, tensions were inflamed in South Africa after the ruling African National Congress objected to a satirical art exhibition that included a painting showing President Jacob Zuma as Lenin with his genitals exposed. The ANC forced a newspaper to remove the image from its website, and the painting was defaced in the gallery.
Tension is rising again. On Friday, the government demanded that the Mail & Guardian remove from its website a cartoon published Friday that features an erect penis with a showerhead and legs with an accompanying limerick about Zuma.
The limerick read: "Though sex is his publicised sport Zuma took the dick-painting to court suing Brett's free expression, confirmed the impression he's as big a dick as we thought," Agence France-Presse reported Friday.
Zuma has been married six times, currently has four wives and 21 children, and acknowledged in 2010 that he fathered a child that year with a woman who was not among his wives, the Associated Press has reported.
"A court found him not guilty of raping an HIV-positive woman in 2006," AFP added. "He said he took a shower shortly after unprotected sex with the woman."
M&G Editor-in-Chief Nic Dawes said, "We have no plans to remove the cartoon" from the site, according to the South African Press Association.
The ANC, which Zuma heads, the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) issued statements condemning the cartoon by Jonathan Shapiro, also known as Zapiro.
The ANCWL said: "The Zapiro cartoons rely on their shock value to make an impact, but calling the president of this great nation a 'dick' is unacceptable and the WL would like to know who the 'we' he is referring to in the cartoon actually is, as the majority of the population who voted for the president clearly did not think this of Zuma."
"Forty years ago in July, Ms. debuted as a stand-alone magazine," Cyndi Stivers wrote for the July/August cover story of Columbia Journalism review. "Thanks to the efforts of Gloria Steinem, Suzanne Levine (a former editor of this magazine), and their colleagues, a woman is now, by default, addressed without reference to her marital status. It is hard to overemphasize how important (and to be blunt, how unlikely to succeed) this campaign seemed at the time. And Ms. is still on the stands, having staved off a few near-death experiences.
"So how about the media industry itself? . . .
". . . A bit more than 40 years ago, several dozen young women at Newsweek sued for sex discrimination, paving the way for similar suits at The New York Times and Reader's Digest. One of those who sued Newsweek, Lynn Povich, went on to become the magazine's first female senior editor (and later, editor in chief of Working Woman and a senior exec at MSNBC.com). Her memoir about the suit, The Good Girls Revolt, will be published in September by Public Affairs.
"Povich has been in and around journalism since birth: Her father, Shirley Povich, was a renowned sportswriter at The Washington Post; her brother and sister-in-law are TV anchors Maury Povich and Connie Chung; and her husband is Steve Shepard, the longtime editor of Business Week who has since founded a new J-School for the City University of New York (and has a memoir of his own coming out). CJR editor in chief Cyndi Stivers spoke to Povich in June about what it was really like to sue her boss — and win."
- "Come September when changes at The Times-Picayune take effect, not only will New Orleans become the largest city without a daily newspaper, its residents will likely become some of the most disconnected in the country," Tracie Powell wrote Thursday for the Poynter Institute. ". . . private business executives and public officials seem to be in denial. They aren't planning for a diminished newspaper presence and are holding out hope that a hero will swoop in and buy The Times-Picayune, even though the paper isn't for sale. They also continue to support policies that favor the telecom industry rather than working to make broadband more affordable."
- "Yalie Liane Membis got a lot of attention for making up people and quotes during her very brief Wall Street Journal internship, but it turns out she fabricated during her college writing career too, which eventually stung The Huffington Post. Though you might not have noticed," Alexander Abad-Santos wrote Thursday for the Atlantic. His account included an editor's note: "This piece was removed from the Huffington Post following an independent investigation by Huffington Post editors. Sources in the original piece denied having made statements attributed to them by the author; other attributed statements in the piece could not be independently confirmed."
- "ABC News correspondent Muhammad Lila and his producer Matt McGarry found themselves caught in the crossfire between the Taliban and a team of U.S. and Afghan military troops," Alex Weprin reported Thursday for TVNewser. "Lila and McGarry were embedded with the U.S. and Afghan troops when they came under fire."
- "One of Harlem's last surviving bookstores, known for bringing black authors into the building as well as onto its shelves, is closing its doors," Michael J. Feeney wrote Monday for the Daily News in New York. "Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe, which had a 10-year run on Frederick Douglass Blvd. near W. 125th St., will close at the end of the month, the store announced in an e-mail blast that went out to customers on Sunday."
- NPR News programming seemed more diversity-oriented this week: It aired a series by Jacki Lyden on the Highwaymen, Florida's African American landscape artists; a piece by Baz Dreisinger on Calabash, a three-day international literary festival in Jamaica "that celebrates language with a distinctly Caribbean twist"; another by John Burnett on aboriginal musicians in Australia "who 'band' together to expose oppression"; a Sylvia Poggioli story on racism in Italy; and the network began the NPR Cities Project, "an extensive series of reports and digital components exploring the built environment in what's becoming known as 'the urban century.' "
- There is little likelihood that television and radio will be able to pick up the slack after cutbacks at newspapers in Alabama, Willie Chriesman, veteran broadcast executive, wrote June 15 for the247newsroom.com. But ". . . One way is using social media as a more effective way to drive users to your on-air product and give them more of a reason to stick around once they are here. Leave the quick-hit stories of traffic accidents and less-than-sensational stories of street crime to your Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to drive viewers to a newscast that's more substantial (and drive your online traffic)."
- Writing about the Fourth of July, Gary Younge, a black Briton who covers the United States for Britain's Guardian newspaper, wrote, ". . . while African Americans may be far less prone to patriotism than most other Americans, and whatever skepticism may exist, they are far more patriotic than any other black minority I have ever seen and, I would argue, far more patriotic than white Britons. Just as Martin Luther King's dream was 'deeply rooted in the American dream,' so the African-American challenge to the national polity has long been for it to live up to its promise, rather than to live down its past."
- The storm that battered the mid-Atlantic last Friday took Washington "community radio" station WPFW, a Pacifica Radio station, off the air until July 4, available only on the Internet. Host David Whettstone told listeners on Thursday that the station was using a 2,000-watt backup transmitter while its 50,000-watt transmitter was down. General Manager John Hughes said on the air Friday that thanks to assistance from City Council members, the mayor's office and American University, where the transmitter is located, the station returned to full power Thursday evening. The entire experience "speaks to the station's fragile condition," including financially. Staff members are at half-pay, and the station is negotiating for a mandated move to new quarters.
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