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The Root Picks Journalism Vet Joel Dreyfuss

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Sunday, November 29, 2009
New Managing Editor Has Worked in Print, Online

Tiger Woods Can't Quiet Media Over Crash

1,000 Journalists, Activists March in Philippines

U.S. Journalist: "Political Violence Here Is a Norm"

Obama Addresses Nation on Afghanistan Tuesday Night

"I . . Am Going to Talk About How White the Web Is"

Giant Magazine to Fold as Print Publication

Freed Journalist's Plea: Don't Forget the Others

Transgender Writer's Death Put Some in a Quandary

Impostor Posing as Vibe Photographer Turns Self In

 

New Managing Editor Has Worked in Print, Online

Joel DreyfussJoel Dreyfuss, a journalist and editorial director with more than 30 years' experience in print, broadcast and online publications, Monday was named managing editor of theRoot.com, Publisher Donna Byrd announced. 

Dreyfuss, 64, succeeds Danyel Smith, 44, the former editor of Vibe magazine who held the title of executive editor of the Washington-based online publication but stepped down Oct. 22 after just six weeks on the job, citing difficulty with commuting from New York.

"Joel was most recently the editor-in-chief of Red Herring, Inc., where he oversaw all print and Web content," an announcement said. "Prior to that, Joel has held editorial positions at Fortune Magazine, PC Magazine, Black Enterprise magazine, and Urban Box Office, as well as served as USA Today's New York Bureau Chief, and an on-staff writer at The Washington Post, The AP, and The New York Post, and Bloomberg, LP. Demonstrative of his expertise across all mediums, he's also worked as a news producer for KPIX and was an on-air reporter for KQED."

Dreyfuss' background in the mainstream news media and in the financial media, together with his experience reporting on the consumer electronics industry can be expected to differentiate the Washington Post Co.-owned Web site from others and from its previous incarnations.

So can his Haitian background. Earlier this year, he pleaded with his colleagues in the National Association of Black Journalists, of which he is a co-founder, to pay attention to a little-known story in the Caribbean.

"The U.S. news media have been particularly uninterested in a dramatic story playing out in the French Caribbean," he wrote to the NABJ's e-mail list. "The populations of Guadeloupe and Martinique have been on a general strike for more than a month that has closed schools, crippled the economy and erased the tourism industry. The standoff has had racial overtones, sporadic violence and potentially, a huge impact on France's economic and political relationship with its overseas departments."

He expanded on the message on his own Web site.

"The challenge is to create a site that is a compelling read," Dreyfuss told Journal-isms, that gives "a different perspective on what's going on in the world. We have moved past the concept of segregated media," with black Web pages and white ones, he said. He said he is looking to create a news site "that brings a black perspective to the news. You write about Afghanistan, the White House, the climate issue . . ."

In 1997, Dreyfuss was set to edit a black-owned publication called Our World News that failed for lack of financing. But its mission was similar to that of the Root. He told the NABJ Journal then:

"I have worked 25 years in white organizations. This is a dream for a lot of us journalists. I always felt from the beginning that the only way we can have a publication that will reflect our voices is to have control of it. I feel I have spent all of these years building expertise and learning how to do it, so I can do it. I always felt there is a space in the market for a really first-rate, black weekly publication."

Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Root's editor-in-chief. Dreyfuss becomes its third day-to-day editorial leader. With the New York Times' Lynette Clemetson as its managing editor, the Root debuted in January 2008 as "a daily online magazine that provides thought-provoking commentary on today's news from a variety of black perspectives."

Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham, who founded the Root with Gates, told Journal-isms after Smith left, "I'm a huge fan of The Root - I have been since the day it started. It has talented writers and editors, a gifted publisher, and an admirable patron in Professor Gates. I'm proud to be associated with it."

Dreyfuss starts Dec. 7. He said he plans to live in Washington and to take advantage of the talents of journalists who are not working or not sufficiently happy in their jobs.

"The Root should be a place where they should fully express themselves and share their complex and rich view of the world," he said.

Comedian Wanda Sykes used the Tiger Woods car accident to poke fun at cable news channels on her Fox television show on Saturday night. Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard echoed her sentiment that truth is often a casualty in a 24-hour news cycle. (Video)

Tiger Woods Can't Quiet Media Coverage of Car Crash

"The news-gathering landscape has mutated so quickly and so absolutely, at once enhanced and contaminated by the immediacy of everything from texts to Twitter to TMZ, that America's most famous athlete this weekend went from suffering a serious injury in a car accident . . . to suffering a minor injury in a car accident . . . to being 'fine,' according to his agent . . . to reportedly being unfaithful to his wife . . . to maybe having his face scratched by his angry wife . . . to being rescued by his helpful wife from his crashed car with a golf club . . . to having his car smashed up by his betrayed wife and her golf club . . . to not being any kind of `fine' at all," the Miami Herald's Dan Le Batard wrote on Sunday.

"Not all of that can be true, obviously, but who cares?

"Truth is one of the many things that gets trampled today when boring facts can't keep up with the media's need to feed instantly and the public's appetite to be fed faster than that. Something else that gets lost in all of the subsequent noise is Tiger Woods' silence. We haven't heard from him yet, which doesn't seem to matter one microscopic fraction of one ounce at all."

Woods issued his own statement later Sunday. "The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false," he said.

But that hasn't quieted the speculation.

Al-Jazeera English reports Thursday on the massacre in the southern Philippines that claimed 57 civilians, including at least 30 journalists. (Video)

1,000 Journalists, Activists March in Philippines

"Some 1,000 journalists and activists marched Monday in the capital to protest the massacre in the southern Philippines of 57 civilians, including at least 30 journalists and their staff in the world's deadliest attack on the media," Teresa Cerojano of the Associated Press reported from Manila.

"Clad mostly in black shirts and carrying a black mock coffin as well as placards calling for a stop to media killings, they demanded the arrest of all suspects in the Nov. 23 massacre in southern Maguindanao province.

"The massacre victims were in a convoy to cover a local politician's filing of his intention to run for governor in the predominantly Muslim province when dozens of gunmen abducted and then butchered them on a nearby hill and buried them in mass graves. The candidate's wife and sisters were among the dead.

"The carnage drew worldwide condemnation, including from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It has also highlighted the violent factionalism that plagues the volatile region — and the deadly risks journalists take in covering it."

U.S. Journalist: "Political Violence Here Is a Norm"

Alex Tizon One American journalist closely watching the Maguindanao situation is Alex Tizon, a Knight International Journalism fellow working with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism on a project designed to help media track government efforts to alleviate poverty in the country’s five poorest provinces, including Maguindanao.

"As national correspondent of The Los Angeles Times, he has reported on the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. And as staff writer for The Seattle Times from 1986 to 2003, received the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in investigative journalism for a series on corruption in the federal Indian Housing Program," the center said.

Tizon began a piece on the massacres Monday this way:

"The body count of the Maguindanao massacre has gone up each of the past five days. The count is now at 57, with authorities continuing to sift through the blood-soaked dirt just outside the town of Shariff Aguak. Thirty of the victims were journalists and at least 22 were women. The women were raped and their genitals shot at close range.

"Expect the numbers to change in the coming days. What will likely not change is the identity of the accused mastermind of the killings — a smug, round-faced blip of a man named Andal Ampatuan Jr., a local mayor and the son of a powerful political patriarch who is allied with no less than the President of the Philippines.

"The suspect reportedly ordered the massacre to prevent a rival politician from challenging him in the upcoming gubernatorial election. According to at least 20 eyewitnesses who have testified to the Department of Justice, it was Ampatuan’s plan to ambush the caravan of six cars, kill all the occupants and then bury the victims and their vehicles in large pre-dug pits. Burying the victims, he thought, would erase the evidence. . . .

"For those not familiar with contemporary life in the Philippines, it must be pointed out that political violence here is a norm, and that people like Andal Ampatuan Jr. are no aberration. There are many more like him scattered like vermin droppings throughout the country. The system creates Ampatuans.

"The reason Monday’s incident became international news is because of the high number of victims killed all at once and because so many were journalists and women. Had the killings been spread out over weeks and months, very few outside of the province would have heard of it."

Obama Addresses Nation on Afghanistan Tuesday Night

"Both Fox and ABC announced Monday (Nov. 30) that they will carry President Obama's primetime address at West Point on Tuesday night, December 1. The other major broadcast networks, NBC and CBS, had announced their plans to cover the address last week," David Tanklefsky and Marisa Guthrie reported Monday for Broadcasting & Cable.

"Fox did not carry the president's July 22 press conference or his Sept. 9 primetime address to Congress.

"The president's 8 p.m. EST news conference will push a new episode of 'So You Think You Can Dance' to after the address in the Eastern/Central time zones. It will air at its normal time on the West Coast."

"FOX evaluates all White House airtime requests on a case-by-case basis," a Fox Broadcast network spokeswoman told Journal-isms. She emphasized that the Fox Broadcast Network operates independently from the Fox News Channel, target of criticism from the Obama administration, although both are owned by News Corp.

"I . . . Am Going to Talk About How White the Web Is"

Bryan Monroe"This week, the Federal Trade Commission will be convening a high-level hearing in D.C. looking at 'How Will Journalism Survive The Internet Age,' " Bryan Monroe, former editorial director of Ebony and Jet magazine and 2005-2007 president of the National Association of Black Journalists, wrote Monday for the Huffington Post.

"Media giants like Rupert Murdoch and Arianna Huffington will likely slug it out on pay walls, copyrights and the prospect of Microsoft buying its way into the search world.

"I, on the other hand, am going to talk about how white the Web is, and the threat that reality represents to journalism for our increasingly diverse nation.

"Look no further than the 17 staff members of AOL's new Sphere.com. Or the single African-American reporter at Politico. Or the lack of diversity in Chicago's new co-op journalism venture. We are starting off on the wrong foot.

". . . For the underlying DNA of journalism — accuracy, inclusion, clarity, storytelling, fairness and truth — to live on it must now find a new host. To succeed, we must make sure diverse voices — all voices — are represented in digital and on the Web.

"So far, though, online journalism ventures haven't figured out that to not just survive, but thrive, they must reflect a changing nation."

Monroe, now a visiting professor at Northwestern University, will be among a wide array of witnesses [PDF] Tuesday and Wednesday that include Karen Dunlap, president, the Poynter Institute; Joaquin Alvarado, senior vice president for diversity and innovation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Eric Newton, vice president, journalism program, Knight Foundation; Aneesh Chopra, assistant to the president, chief technology officer and associate director for the Office of Science & Technology of the Executive Office of the President; Benjamin Todd Jealous, CEO & president, NAACP; and Kathy Times, president, National Association of Black Journalists, among others. 

The FTC plans to make the hearings available via Webcast.

Giant Magazine to Fold as Print Publication

Economy cited for end of print edition."Radio One is suspending the print edition of Giant magazine, the bimonthly publication the broadcaster acquired in 2007. The magazine will be succeeded by the new GiantLife.com website, run by Radio One's Interactive One division. The final print edition of Giant, with Alicia Keys on the cover, will be on newsstands December 15," RadioInk reported.

" 'Over the past three years, the print version of Giant magazine has grown in advertiser support and fostered a loyal following among readers both online and off," Interactive One President Tom Newman said.

" 'The economic downturn has had a tremendous impact on print media, and we had to make the decision to suspend printing the publication. Additionally, we recognize the increase in demand for real-time information and see this as an opportunity to leverage our existing robust online platform to better serve Giant consumers and advertisers through our interactive medium.'

"GiantLife.com launches with an exclusive video series, Cover Stories, hosted by Interactive One Chief Content Officer Smokey D. Fontaine.

"No word on whether any jobs will be lost with the magazine's move to online-only."

Freed Journalist's Plea: Don't Forget the Others

After 118 days in an Iranian prison, a cover story in Newsweek and interviews with CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" and other programs, Newsweek journalist and documentary filmmaker Maziar Bahari said on Sunday that he wants to use his release to highlight the plight of other journalists arrested in Iran for doing their jobs.

"There are at least 40 journalists in Iranian jails right now who are not fortunate enough, not privileged enough like me to have an international reputation and international colleagues to lobby on their behalf," he told Jacki Lyden of National Public Radio.

"But I use all my resources and all my connections to help them and just raise their case, because I think that we shouldn't let governments like the Iranian government and the Revolutionary Guards get away with it."

The Revolutionary Guards, Bahari told Charlie Rose on Rose's PBS show Friday, "have started to gain more control of the government. We cannot say that they are running it, 100 percent. But they are gaining all the strategic positions, including the foreign policy, including their nuclear program."

Transgender Writer's Death Put Some in a Quandary

"On Saturday, Nov. 28, Los Angeles Times sportswriter Mike Penner was found dead in his Los Angeles home, the victim of an apparent suicide," Amanda Hess wrote Monday for the Washington City Paper.

"Penner had been covering the sports beat for the LA Times since 1983. But the writer’s public profile skyrocketed in April of 2007, when he came out as transgender, began living publicly as a woman, and changed his byline to Christine Daniels. The world lost Christine Daniels before it lost Penner: In 2008, Daniels quietly detransitioned back to Mike.

"Penner’s impermanent gender transition left obituary writers with an identity problem. Whose obituary to write: Mike Penner’s or Christine Daniels’?"

". . . The obituaries penned in the days following Penner’s death revealed a fault line among his public mourners. Some writers favored Penner’s sex assigned at birth — and his final public identity — by employing masculine pronouns in their obituaries. Others favored Daniels’ brief public persona as an out trans woman, and referred to the deceased as 'she' and 'her.' Gawker, puzzlingly, chose to straddle the gender divide by reporting the death of Mike Penner but referring to him as 'her.'

"The sports world overwhelmingly chose to remember Mike Penner as male."

Impostor Posing as Vibe Photographer Turns Self In

"A 22-year-old man who posed as a magazine photographer and was being investigated for alleged sexual assaults turned himself in to police this afternoon," Andrew Blankstein and Baxter Holmes reported Monday for the Los Angeles Times.

"Keith Nichols, a security guard who has lived in Compton, Hawthorne and South Los Angeles, was booked at the Los Angeles Police Department's Central Division on suspicion of sexual battery in the sexual assaults of at least four young women, police said.

"The crimes began early last month and took place within a one-mile radius of the subway station at 7th and Figueroa streets, said LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon.

"Nichols told his victims that they could become models for Vibe, Vernon said. But before they could get hired, Nichols said he had to measure them for 'custom-fitted underwear,' according to police . . ."

Two women referred their roommates to Nichols, police said.

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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 BugMeNot.com 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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