Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

The Questions That Haven't Been Asked

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Updated October 25

Debates Skipped Faith, Justice, Southern Hemisphere

"Debate Ends Abruptly as Obama Punches Romney in Face"

Romney Wants Cabinet Reflecting "Fabric of America"

Obama Hopes for End to GOP Obstruction if He Wins

Whites Write 93% of Front-Page Political Stories

NAHJ Wins RTNDA, SPJ Approval for Joint Meeting

Alfred Liggins Replaces Wonya Lucas as CEO of TV One

2 Stations Explain Why They Dropped "Smiley & West"

Short Takes

Monday's debate between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and Preside

Debates Skipped Faith, Justice, Southern Hemisphere

"Criminal justice reform may top the list of third-rail political issues to be strictly avoided on the campaign trail. And, perhaps as expected, it didn't rear its head at any of the presidential debates," Farai Chideya wrote Wednesday for Columbia Journalism Review.

"Politicians from both major parties tend to shy away from crime, unless it's to promise to throw criminals under the jail," Chideya continued. "This can always change, though, and it's worth noting that violent crime rose 18 percent last year, according to a new report from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, the first rise in two decades."

Justice issues weren't the only ones that journalists of color complained were missing from the debates. Africa, Latin America and religion were among the others.

". . . It was billed as a 'foreign policy' debate, which to me means a debate on global issues. Instead, it was a national security debate, with almost all of the focus on Arab nations and the Middle East: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Israel," Chideya wrote Tuesday on

The third and final debate between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney attracted 59.2 million viewers, according to the Nielsen ratings firm, Meg James reported Wednesday for the Los Angeles Times. Viewership was below the first two presidential debates this year, but up about 5 percent compared with the final debate four years ago, when then-Sen. Obama sparred with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz).

A complicating factor: "Monday's debate faced stiff competition from 'Monday Night Football' on ESPN and Fox's broadcast of a clinching Major League Baseball division series game, in which the San Francisco Giants throttled the St. Louis Cardinals to win a ticket to the World Series," James noted.

Bryan Llenas wrote for Fox News Latino, "The third and final Presidential Debate on foreign policy began with a reference to the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis

". . . A powerful open, but by debate's end[,] viewers were left with just a fleeting mention of Latin America, no substantive discussion of the entire western hemisphere, and not one mention of a brutal drug war affecting one of our largest trade partners — Mexico."

Llenas imaged what a fourth presidential debate on Latin American issues would be like.

Howard W. French, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, wrote in Columbia Journalism Review, "Four debates down, and the word 'Africa' has been uttered just once, in passing.

"What is most disturbing about an observation like this is how little it surprises. Not since the Kennedy Administration has the United States seen Africa — the continent of Africa, and not the odd country or momentary crisis — as the theater of any top-drawer foreign policy concerns," French wrote.

"And across Africa, a feeling of letdown at the Obama administration's lack of engagement with the continent is palpable. Because of his background, expectations were higher for the incumbent president in this regard than they have been for perhaps any of his predecessors.

". . . The questions for the Obama and Romney campaigns, then, are: How will your administration break with Washington's outdated Africa policies? How will the United States keep pace with China and other emerging economic powers, like India, Brazil and Turkey, which are all stepping up their engagements with Africa? What, specifically, can the US do to help develop markets in Africa, tap the huge, ongoing demographic shift there, and change the relationship between this country and the continent into one of much greater opportunity for all concerned?"

In the Washington Post, Barbara Reynolds, ordained minister and journalist, wrote Tuesday, "I find it strange that the media are not opening up a dialogue concerning Romney and his faith with the same dedication as they scrutinized John F. Kennedy on whether his first loyalty would be to the pope or the presidency, or Jimmy Carter, who as a Southern Baptist, was grilled about what it meant to be born again. Indeed, President Obama was asked repeatedly how his Christian beliefs related to liberation theology. Some Americans believe he is a Muslim."

Reynolds posed five questions, beginning with, "Before 1978, the church regarded dark skin as a sign of a spiritual curse that denied black men the right to be ordained as priests. The curse was lifted in 1978, and black men were ordained for the priesthood. Would you support efforts to lift the ban against women being ordained to the priesthood? Also, the church has aggressively fought against passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Would you support measures such as the ERA and other public policy for gender equality?"

"Debate Ends Abruptly as Obama Punches Romney in Face"

"BOCA RATON (The Borowitz Report) — The third and final Presidential debate ended in dramatic fashion tonight as President Obama punched Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the face, knocking him unconscious before a national television audience. . . ."

So began a satire by Andy Borowitz Monday in the New Yorker.

Romney Wants Cabinet Reflecting "Fabric of America"

Derek T. Dingle, senior vice president/editor-in-chief of Black Enterprise magazine, landed an interview with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney "although polls show that his support from African Americans is almost nil," Dingle wrote.

He asked Romney, "Diversity is a large part of business. Looking at your 25 years of business experience, including Bain Capital, how did you apply diversity to recruiting executives?"

Derek Dingle asked Mitt Romney how he applied diversity to recruiting exe

Romney replied, "In hiring, we try to hire the best person we could possibly get without regard to the gender, race, or the sexual orientation of the person involved. I can tell you that when I became governor [of Massachusetts] I noted that government by and large drew from the same pool of applicants. I wanted to get more diversity in my senior administration members. So, I tasked our team with reaching out to other sources of résumés and to bring in people of a broader background. So, in my cabinet I had a number of minority members."

Dingle asked, "So how would your presidential cabinet look?"

Romney said, "I would hope to have the most capable people that I could find across the country. I would expect a number of them would have business backgrounds. I would hope a number would also have experience in the public sector. I recognize that you're looking to see if there would be representation of various ethnic groups and genders. The answer is yes. I would love to have a cabinet that reflected the fabric of America."

Obama Hopes for End to GOP Obstruction if He Wins

In separate post-debate radio interviews, President Obama said he was counting on congressional Republicans to end their obstructionism if he wins re-election, named health-care reform as his longest-lasting legacy and addressed the issue of Latin America, an area of the world not discussed in Monday's debate on foreign policy.

On his syndicated morning show, Tom Joyner asked Obama Tuesday, "How can you get the economy straight without the cooperation of the Republicans? Or will this time will it be another four more years of them just saying 'no, no, no' to everything you try to do?"

Obama replied, "You know it will be interesting to see how they respond. Obviously our first job is to win. And if we win, when we win, I think what you'll see is that initially there may be some resistance, but you know, they've been obsessed over the last four years with defeating me. After the election I will have won my last race. And hopefully they'll recognize that the kind of obstruction that they've engaged in is not good for them politically and it's certainly not good for the country. . . ."

Fernando EspuelasOn Univision Radio's "The Fernando Espuelas Show" on Wednesday, Espuelas asked, "If reelected, and now looking forward, what do you hope will be your greatest accomplishment as president?"

Obama said, "Well I think the most consequential thing that I have done as president has been to make sure that our economy didn't slip into a Great Depression. But I think the long-lasting legacy is going to be health care because we are the only industrialized nation on Earth that did not have basic coverage for millions of people. And that disproportionately included Latinos who work every day very hard but because they may be in low-wage jobs are not getting benefits on the job. And to make sure that our families are healthy, that they are not going to go bankrupt when they get sick, that they are not putting off preventive checkups and care that could prevent diseases, that is going to make a huge impact on people's lives over the long term."

Espuelas asked Obama to comment on the assertion by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney that the president had made the United States "weaker across the globe."

"Well, if you take a look at what we have done, not only in ending the war in Iraq, refocusing on al Qaeda, we are now transitioning out of Afghanistan," Obama replied. "But look at the regional alliances that we have built, areas that had been neglected for so many years. You take an example of Latin America, where during the Bush years the U.S. image in Latin America and the Caribbean was terrible. We immediately embarked on work starting with the first Summit of the Americas that I attended to create partnerships around education, around energy, small business exchanges that allow more products to be sold throughout the region. We made sure that we signed and completed trade deals with Colombia and Panama.

"And in addition to that, we have also been working on our infrastructure that allows us to increase trade throughout the region. For example, Florida obviously is a gateway for a lot of shipping into Latin America. We are expanding the Jacksonville port so that it is going to be equipped to deal with increased cargo. Those are the kinds of things that we just weren't doing, and it's part of the reason why our reputation is better around the world than it was when I came into office."


Whites Write 93% of Front-Page Political Stories

The 4th Estate, a nonpartisan project to aggregate data around the 2012 elections, released Thursday an infographic, "Bleached: Lack of Diversity on the Front Page," "that shows that over 93% of front page print articles covering the 2012 Presidential Election were written by white reporters.

"The percentage of articles written by Asian Americans is 3.3%, by African Americans is 2.9%, and by Hispanics is 0.7%," the election-year monitoring organization said.

" 'I was shocked when I saw these numbers,' says Michael Howe, 4th Estate's co-founder. 'Our data shows there is a large disparity between the representation of minority reporters writing the most influential stories in our society and the 2010 Census data numbers.'

"Earlier this year, the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) released a survey of the 2012 minority representation at various print organizations. 'The delta between our infographic and the ASNE survey is a fascinating study,' says Jonas Eno-Van Fleet, 4th Estate's Director of Operations.

" 'Some of the data matches very closely, such as the percentage of New York Times reporters who are Hispanic (4%), while some of the data is quite different, such as the numbers for the San Francisco Chronicle. We found no minority reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle writing front page election stories, while the overall minority representation of their staff is over 20% according to the ASNE survey.'

"The most striking under-representation of minorities in the 4th Estate data is that of Hispanic journalists. . . . While the ASNE study reports that 27% of the Miami Herald staff is Hispanic, the 4th Estate data found none of the Miami Herald front page election articles were written by Hispanic journalists. . . . There are a few bright spots such the percentage of front page articles written by African American reporters at Dallas Morning News."

Alfred Liggins Replaces Wonya Lucas as CEO of TV One

After less than 15 months in the job, Wonya Lucas is out as president and CEO of TV One, and will be replaced by her boss, Alfred C. Liggins III, CEO and president of Radio One, the network announced on Tuesday.

Alfred C. Liggins III is to succeed Wonya Lucas.Liggins "will add oversight of all daily network operations for TV One to his portfolio as CEO of TV One effective November 1," a release said. "As a result, current President and CEO Wonya Lucas will step down at the end of the month. 'Wonya has created a strong foundation for TV One's future success with the launch of two new hit series, R&B Divas and The Rickey Smiley Show,' Mr. Liggins commented. 'I and the Radio One family thank her for her leadership and guidance and wish her well in her next endeavor.'

"Ms. Lucas remarked, 'It has been my pleasure to have had the opportunity to be a part of TV One and work with Alfred Liggins, Cathy Hughes, and the TV One staff. I am extremely proud of what has been accomplished during my time with the network and am confident that the senior team under Alfred's leadership will continue to thrive and succeed.' "

Asked whether Liggins would remain in the job permanently, TV One spokeswoman Monica Neal said by email, "Mr. Liggins is not offering comment at present but I will certainly add you to the press request list when he is giving interviews and can address your queries at that time."

Andrea Williams of Madame Noire asked Lucas in January, "What major challenges and opportunities do you foresee for yourself and the future of TVOne?"

She replied, in part, ". . . in the end, if we had this conversation a year from now, you'll see what I mean by really being relevant in the black community and being informing while still being entertaining. At the end of the day people watch television to be entertained and to be informed, and that’s our goal."

2 Stations Explain Why They Dropped "Smiley & West"

Two of the four public radio stations that recently dropped Tavis Smiley and Cornel West's "Smiley & West" say they are still running "The Tavis Smiley Show" and dropped the "Smiley & West" portion for programming or ratings reasons. Smiley, meanwhile, returned to the subject of whether he should be considered a journalist.

Smiley issued a blistering open letter to WBEZ-FM in Chicago last week, calling its reasons for dropping "Smiley & West" "demeaning, derogatory and dead wrong."

WBEZ, known also as Chicago Public Media, ran the program at noon Sunday. It "explained the decision by citing audience erosion (noting a decline in weekly listenership from 37,900 to 13,200) and expressing concerns about the program's fairness and balance," Robert Feder reported last week for Time Out Chicago. " 'The show had developed much more of an 'advocacy' identity, which is inconsistent with our approach on WBEZ,' a spokesman said."

Tracey Powell wrote Wednesday for the Poynter Institute, " 'The Tavis Smiley Show' (with just Smiley) airs on 85 stations nationwide, while 'Smiley & West' airs on 72 stations. 'Smiley & West' is being marketed as the second hour of 'The Tavis Smiley Show' so that stations can test it out, a PRI spokeswoman told Poynter by phone."

Sam Fleming, managing director of news and programming at WBUR-FM in Boston, told Journal-isms his station ran "Smiley & West" for a week or two but replaced it with "Snap Judgment," an NPR show that calls itself "storytelling with a beat." "We thought it would appeal to young listeners," Fleming said by telephone. "I like Tavis, but I like having a variety of voices."

With "Smiley & West," WBUR was running a two-hour block of Smiley on Saturday nights, Fleming said.

Robert Peterson, director of radio programming and operations at KWMU-FM, St. Louis Public Radio, said of "Smiley & West," "The audience to us was not as strong or devoted as it was for the second hour," which was just Smiley. "It continued to show decline." "Smiley & West" was replaced by "Snap Judgment," which fit better in a Sunday night lineup that included the storytelling "This American Life," Peterson told Journal-isms by telephone.

Candice Breedlove, program director of KMOJ-FM in Minneapolis, an African American-oriented public station, did not respond to an inquiry about why that station dropped "Smiley & West."

In his interview with Powell, Smiley returned to the subject of whether he should be considered a journalist.

"I am not Brian Williams, Bob Schieffer, Scott Pelley, or Diane Sawyer. I am not trying to be a journalist," said Smiley.

"If people want to use the word journalist with me in the title, they have to call me an advocacy journalist in the tradition of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Monroe Trotter. What I try to do is raise issues that unsettle people, unhouse people, that challenge folks to re-examine their assumptions, expand their inventory of ideas and give them a new way of seeing the world, a new prism from which to look."

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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Whites writing 93 percent of front page news

Once again, Native American journalists are a no-mention. When minority journalist points are made, Native American journalists should be at least mentioned - even if it is a zero percentage - which it sadly is. When can UNITY alliance journalists begin to grasp that? 

Native American Journalists

We apologize for any slight our graphic might have caused by not mentioning Native American journalists.  When we were constructing the graphic, we wondered whether we should recognize the zero %. 

There were two factors that went into our decision — both of which will probably provide little solace, but regardless, I will put them forth honestly.  First off, from a graphical point of view, it throws off the design to recognize non-existence of an element — which in turn provides a small dissonance in the viewer.  This is often an unconscious response, but it is very real to the designer who is striving to create an inviting harmony within their design.

Second, the data is already very bleak from a diversity standpoint, and I think part of our team felt like it would be "piling on" the media to make this point within the graphical representation of the data.. The 4th Estate Project is already viewed in some circles as a media watchdog. We view our mission differently (See: We believe we would have furthered the impression that we are out to get the media by including this zero element in the graphic.

That said, I think an elegant solution for us would be to add some text connected to the graphic that mentions the complete absence of Native American journalists from the data. This is truly an unfortunate state of affairs, and it should be recognized as such.

Excuses from 4th Estate Project

Minorities in America are have a long history of being an afterthought or part of a token obligatory exercise . Native Americans experience with this cultural reality probably encounter this offensive behavior more than the rest of the diverse groups in our nation.

Those of us who are activists of color also have a responsibility to not mirror this contempt as well.

Black Journalists: Tokens even in Post Racial Era

When do Black Journalists ever matter in MSM outlets when 93% of front page articles are written by Whites ? In this reality what value do Black journalists provide for the MSM other than obilgatory visuals about equality?

Where is the demonstrative reactions to being employed as a token by MSM outlets?

I remain troubled by the impotency of Black journalists working in MSM venues. Truth be told such passive presence harms my standard of living as a Black American.

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