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Russ Mitchell Leaves CBS News for Cleveland

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Managing Editor Title Comes With Move to Local Station

ASNE Adds "Multiracial" Category to Diversity Survey

Al Jazeera English Wins First DuPont-Columbia Award

T.J. Holmes Sees Job as Pushing BET on News

Editor Resigns Over Use of N-Word to Describe Rihanna

N. Korean Leader Was "Great Teacher of Journalists"

Ethiopian Court Convicts Swedish Journalists of Terrorism

Columnist's Got a Brand New Bag

Short Takes

Managing Editor Title Comes With Move to Local Station

"Russ Mitchell, current anchor of the CBS Evening News weekend editions and The Early Show on Saturday, and national correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning, the CBS Evening News, and The Early Show will be joining the staff of WKYC as Managing Editor Evening News and lead anchor of the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts beginning January 16, 2012," the Cleveland NBC affiliate announced on Wednesday.

Russ Mitchell won plaudits   from colleagues and admirers after anchoring CBS News' coverage of the death of Osama Bin Laden.

"I've been looking to get back to local TV for a while," Mitchell, 51, told Journal-isms, "where I can be part of the editing process, and where I can live and work and my family could live.

"I talked to a number of stations around the country, and none was the right fit for us. This is the right fit personally and professionally."

As an anchor, Mitchell is CBS' most visible black journalist. He was mentioned as a replacement for Katie Couric as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News," but the job went this year to Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes."

The Pelley appointment prompted an open letter to network executives and editors in June from Kathy Times, then president of the National Association of Black Journalists.

". . . The Big 3 networks and cable news channels have undergone a series of rare changes behind the desk. While the replacements are all seasoned journalists, what is glaringly missing in the flurry of changes is the failure to elevate African Americans to any of these positions," she wrote.

". . . As America inches toward a world that is more black and brown, corporations are adjusting their cultures to embrace diversity because they know it makes good business sense. But too many network executives are ignoring this reality.

"Russ Mitchell of CBS News, Lester Holt of NBC News, and CNN's T.J. Holmes are weekend warriors who possess charisma, journalistic heft, and the handsome qualities to front a prime-time show. Mitchell's poise and professional bearing as he commandeered the historic announcement of Osama bin Laden's death surely put to rest any doubt about his prime-time readiness. Holt has been the go-to guy as a substitute for vacationing 'stars,' but his primary shift is the weekend."

Holmes is leaving CNN this month for Black Entertainment Television.

The story from Gannett-owned WKYC continued, " 'I've thoroughly enjoyed my years at CBS and the challenges and excitement of a network role,' stated Mr. Mitchell, 'but I've been offered a unique opportunity to help create the next generation of local news in a great place and have a key role in trying to make a difference in a wonderful community.'

" "Russ's breadth of experience and his passion for our industry and our local mission is unparalleled," remarked President and General Manager Brooke Spectorsky. "2012 will be a pivotal year for Northeast Ohio with everything from major economic projects to a Presidential election. Russ will help position Channel 3 News to take an even greater leadership role as the trusted source of news and information in our region.'

" 'I'm a Midwestern guy. I'm used to hard work, I get the weather, and I can't wait to settle my family in a community where local news can still make a difference,' said Mr. Mitchell. 'Channel 3 has the courage and conviction to do the kind of news that goes beyond reporting "what is" to foster a vision of "what could be." And I find that truly exciting.' "

ASNE Adds "Multiracial" Category to Diversity Survey

The American Society of News Editors is adding a multiracial category to its annual newsroom diversity survey, the society said on Wednesday.

The move follows adoption of such a category by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000. The category was included after lobbying by mixed-race groups but opposition from civil rights Lise Funderburgorganizations such as the NAACP and La Raza, which feared it would make it more difficult to enforce the Voting Rights Act and similar laws.

The society's diversity survey began in 1978 as part of ASNE's effort "to try to achieve the minority percentage in newsrooms equal to the minority proportion of the total population before the year 2000," as ASNE explains it. The goal was later pushed back to 2025.

While adding a multiracial category should not affect the overall percentage of people of color counted, it would decrease the number of people in individual racial groups.

"That's one of the problems with making any changes in the census: It causes a break in categorization that makes it more difficult to track year-to-year changes," Richard Karpel, ASNE executive director, told Journal-isms. "But the world changes, and the census needs to change as well to maintain relevance."

The Census Bureau said in March that, "Nine million people reported more than one race in the 2010 Census and made up about 3 percent of the total population. Ninety-two percent of people who reported multiple races provided exactly two races in 2010; white and black was the largest multiple-race combination. An additional 8 percent of the two or more races population reported three races and less than 1 percent reported four or more races."

Susan Saulny noted then in the New York Times, "Among American children, the multiracial population has increased almost 50 percent, to 4.2 million, since 2000, making it the fastest growing youth group in the country."

Initial reactions from journalists ranged from wait-and-see to enthusiastic approval.

"Journalists have a responsibility to report the complexity of the world around us," said Lise Funderburg, a biracial Philadelphia writer and author who examined racial identify in her 1994 book, "Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity." "Racial identify is nothing if not full of nuance."

Joanna Hernandez, president of Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc., said by email, "I think it’s great that ASNE has updated its annual Newsroom Employment Census to include an expansion of racial categories, because that will make it more reflective of the society we live in. UNITY strongly encourages participation in this annual survey. And we also urge ASNE to take a hard-line approach with those refusing to participate, which would include hundreds of newspapers as well as Internet entities such as Google, Yahoo, AOL and many more who operate online and have announced with great fanfare the growth of their newsgathering operations, yet make various excuses as to why they have dodged ASNE’s survey up to now."

Gregory H. Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said he would have to see "if there is a real impact" accompanying the change before commenting.

Julio Moran, executive director of CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California, said by email, "I think it is a good idea because it better reflects the changing demographics of our country.

"It still relies on self-identification, like Latinos, who can also identify as Black, white, Asian or Native American, since Latino is not a race.

"My experience is that multiracial people generally identify with one side or the other, so it will be interesting to see how many people prefer to identify as multiracial as opposed to a single race."

Karpel said he had not determined how multiracial people who are white and another race would be counted. But Funderburg said those who wanted to be considered white should simply ask to be placed in the "white" category. For many mixed-race people, she said, what is important is "that their personal identity be acknowledged."

ASNE previously announced that its next survey will be conducted by the Center for Advanced Social Research, an affiliate of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism.

On Wednesday, the society added that "it will be conducted entirely online. So no more pencil, paper, stamps or faxes."

Moreover, "we eliminated the distinction between print and online employees, and online-only employees, to reflect practices that have been adopted in the vast majority of our members’ newsrooms."

Al Jazeera English won a duPont-Columbia University Award Wednesday for "Fault Lines: Haiti: Six months on." (Video)

Al Jazeera English Wins First DuPont-Columbia Award

"Three regular recipients of broadcast journalism awards, CBS, NBC and HBO, and two relatively new recipients, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times, were among those named winners of the annual Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards on Wednesday," Brian Stelter reported for the New York Times.

"It is the first-ever duPont win for Al Jazeera English, an international news network that is trying to make inroads in the United States. The award recognized an Al Jazeera report about the sluggish pace of recovery and reconstruction in Haiti six months after a devastating earthquake.

"The duPonts are awards for excellence in broadcast and digital reporting from Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism, which also presents the Pulitzer Prizes for print and digital reporting. Separately, Columbia recognized Al Jazeera English earlier this year with its Columbia Journalism Award.

"The New York Times was awarded a duPont for two digital stories: 'A Year at War,' a multimedia series about a battalion of men and women in Afghanistan, and 'Surviving the Earthquake: Children,' a documentary about two children injured in the Haiti earthquake."

Among other awardees were Mew York's WNYC Radio for an investigative series about the New York Police Department's “stop and frisk” policy.

T.J. Holmes Sees Job as Pushing BET on News

T.J. Holmes, the weekend CNN anchor who is leaving for Black Entertainment Television, says he sees his new role as pushing BET — whose middle initial stands for "Entertainment" co-founder Bob Johnson often said — in delivering more news.

T.J. Holmes

From an interview with Thomas Umstead of Multichannel News:

"What prompted you to make the move from CNN to BET?

"TJH: In all the conversations I was having with the folks at BET, one thing they said really struck me: ‘Where can black people go when they get home from work and turn on the TV to see people who look like them, talk like them and discuss things that are important to them?’

"I opened my mouth to respond but nothing came out because there’s a void for the type of show that we get to an extent on morning radio with the Steve Harveys and Tom Joyners of the world where they’re discussing things and issues relevant to the black community. There’s no place to get that on TV anywhere at anytime. So for me the opportunity to speak to my community at this point in my career in this country’s history was too good to pass up.

"BET has done several news specials recently, but do you foresee the network really pushing into the news genre now that you’re there?

"TJH: You said do I see BET pushing [into news]; I’m going to be pushing them. I think that’s a big part of why I’m on board. During the discussions we had beforehand, I wanted to get a good understanding of what BET was trying to do and what they hoped to do and what my role would be in it. Part of my role is to make those suggestions and say this is something we should be doing.

"BET already has a track record over the past few years for doing those types of specials — most recently the one with Michelle Obama ['Michelle Obama On A Mission: Impact Africa,'] the one just done with Herman Cain ['The Curious Case Of Citizen Cain'] and an interview with President Obama ['The President Answers Black America'] — and those types of events are absolutely relevant and the audience has responded. Now it’s time to take it to the next level of possibly giving that information to the audience more often on a day-in-and-day-out basis. There’s always something in the headlines that relevant to black America that may not be getting the focus from other news outlets, so that’s something we hope to provide."

Editor Resigns Over Use of N-Word to Describe Rihanna

"After issuing an apology for her magazine's use of the N-word in describing Rihanna, Jackie editor-in-chief Eva Hoeke has resigned her post," Kimberly Nordyke reported Wednesday for the Hollywood Reporter.

"Hoeke, who had been with the Dutch fashion magazine for eight years, oversaw the most recent issue, which included a brief item about Rihanna's style in which the singer was referred to as the 'ultimate n---abitch.'

". . . After learning of the use of the racial slur, Rihanna took to Twitter to blast Hoeke and the publication.

". . . On Tuesday, Jackie issued a press release saying that Hoeke had been 'taunted and threatened in various ways' after she issued her apology.

" 'Throughout the various social media, there has been an emotional response to this choice of words, as published in Jackie,' the press release read, as translated by Parlour magazine. 'As a first reaction to this, editor-in-chief Eva Hoeke said via Twitter that the choice of words was meant as a joke and offered an apology to anyone who felt offended. This reaction [caused] further consternation, as Hoeke herself also referred to the term elsewhere in the magazine.

"After two further apologies failed to placate readers, she consulted with publisher Yves Gijrath of GMG, and the duo came to the 'joint conclusion' [that] she should resign effective immediately."

N. Korean Leader Was "Great Teacher of Journalists"

"A North Korean reporter figured he could write about a pepper bush plantation from the comfort of his office. But leader Kim Jong Il, the story goes, insisted on driving with him to a rugged ravine and crossing a flooded river to personally count the bushes," Christopher Torchia wrote for the Associated Press.

Torchia's article was widely circulated Wednesday in light of the death of the "dear leader" on Sunday, but Editor & Publisher dated the piece to 2002.

Kim Jong UnIt continued, " 'Comrade journalist, you must see things on the spot before you write your articles. Otherwise you may talk big,' Kim told the ashamed reporter from the state news agency.

"At the moment the journalist blushed. Across his mind flashed the bygones when he used to write his articles in his office only after his conversation with the officials."

"Wise advice for any hack, even if the syntax and punctuation are imperfect. It's in 'The Great Teacher of Journalists,' a 170-page, red hardback published in 1983 in English and Spanish by the state-run Foreign Languages Publishing House in Pyongyang.

"The book is a tiny component in the personality cult that touts Kim as a military tactician, a scientific innovator, a moral guide, and a father figure to 22-million North Koreans who live in virtual isolation. . . ."

Meanwhile, the Asian American Journalists Association posted the names and Twitter addresses of eight members who are reporting on Kim Jong Il and other news from the Korean peninsula.

They include Chi-Chi Zhang, a CNN producer and AAJA board representative; Jean H. Lee, Korea bureau chief for the Associated Press; Steve Herman, Voice of America bureau chief/correspondent, based in Seoul; Hannah Bae in Seoul, vice president for AAJA Asia; the founding editor of Nanoomi.net, identified only as Cynthia; Elaine Ayo, a copy editor with YonhapNews; Tomoko A. Hosaka, in Japan for the Associated Press, and her husband, Martyn Williams, a 2012 Knight Fellow at Stanford who runs NorthKoreaTech.org. They were married last month.

Reporters Without Borders, the press freedom group, was not optimistic about life under Kim Jung Il's declared successor.

"After this press freedom predator’s death, our attention turns to his third son and declared successor, Kim Jong-un,” the group said. "It is very hard to predict what his policies on basic freedoms will be. Neither the years he spent in a school in Switzerland nor his very young age, which could mean he is easily influenced, offer any clues. We are very worried by the reports circulating about him, including reports of his severity towards those who smuggle foreign electronic media content into North Korea."

Ethiopian Court Convicts Swedish Journalists of Terrorism

"A court in Ethiopia convicted two Swedish journalists Wednesday of supporting terrorism after the pair illegally entered the country with an ethnic Somali rebel group," the Associated Press reported.

"The pair, who now face up to 15 years in prison at their sentencing next week, have said they were gathering news at the time of their arrest.

"However, Judge Shemsu Sirgaga said that was 'very unlikely,' accusing the Ogaden National Liberation Front of organizing the Swedes’ journey starting in London via Kenya and Somalia into Ethiopia. Outlawed groups in many countries frequently facilitate the travels of reporters in order to have their version of events told.

"Ethiopian troops captured Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye six months ago during a clash with rebels in Ethiopia’s restive Somali region in the country’s east, a no-go area for reporters. Ethiopia considers the rebel group a terrorist organization, and it is very difficult for journalists to gain access to the region. Rights groups say that is so abuses there are not exposed.

"The chairman of the Swedish Union of Journalists, Jonas Nordling, deplored the conviction, saying it is clearly aimed at deterring reporters from investigating alleged human rights abuses in the Ogaden region.

" 'This is a political verdict,' Nordling said. 'There is no evidence to support that this is a terror crime.' "

(Credit: Chuck Liddy/News & Observer)

Columnist's Got a Brand New Bag

Barry Saunders, local columnist for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., made good on a promise to dress as Santa Claus Wednesday in front of the N&O building if readers donated $25,000 to charity. Above, Natalia Kennedy peeks into Santa's bag of gifts. "Your donations far surpass our $25,000 goal," Burgetta Eplin Wheeler, a member of the editorial board, told readers on Wednesday. "The $57,777 raised was a gift to humanity — a restorative elixir to what these days can sometimes seem a soul-sucking wasteland of strife and pain. . . . At least 35 emails specifically mentioned the challenge prize: forcing columnist Barry Saunders to wear a Santa suit . . . " More photos.

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 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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Comments

NY Times Annual Blues Tale

New York Times' obligatory Black victimology police tale adds is adds nothing of value to this racist reality for Black folks of all ages it was revealing that the Times had no comments about NY 's mayor role in racist practices of his police department. In that context is was a yawn tale and forgettable.

Russ Mitchell's "See ya!"

As a "news wife" of 25 years, it's always been fascinating to me to see what the public is allowed to see and to have the inside info on what it really takes to survive in a newsroom, local or network.

Only a really smart journalist with a strong sense of self & extraordinary clarity is able to choose returning to local over hanging on at the network.

Congratulations to Russ for taking the leap for him and his family!

 

Wishing you the best

I worked with Russ in the early 80's at WFAA. He was one of Marty's Boys. I will always remember him as the fastest learner I ever saw. Every day, you could see he was better than the day before. Great person, fine journalist. America's loss will be Cleveland's gain.

Congratulations for making what I am sure was the right choice.

 

Russ Mitchell Leaves CBS News for Cleveland

I've always said, radio/tv/network executives can make it on a "C-" academic level. Russ Mitchell is one of the classiest and most experienced news anchors to come along in the business. Yet CBS News execs' glass ceiling remains. How rude!

One more thing...

For Russ' generation & all preceding ones, Black journalists had to be 100 times more qualified than their Anglo counterparts to even make it into newsrooms in the first place. This was true across all areas of life & folks of color of a certain age--i.e., the ones who remember Max, Ed, & Carole--know it. Of course, to say this has always been verboten, certainly if you had a job in the news industry, were a person of color, and planned to keep making a living in news. That's how news managers have continued to get away with this outrage for as long as they have. (The rare exceptions to Black being synonymous with excellence are Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain, & their ilk.) In the early 1980s, Marty Haag hired Scott Pelley & Russ Mitchell to work for him as reporters at Dallas' WFAA-TV. Marty continued to hire the best & guess what happened? WFAA was consistently #1, churning out news with its ethnic rainbow of excellence. In a piece called "Missing Marty Haag...Then & Now," I wrote about Haag's amazing reporting staff who represented all of America's talent. They were such a feeder pool for network, Newsweek or Time wrote about Haag & them. https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=501857072854 Flash forward to today: Unless they've hired him/her in the last 24 hours, I dare you to find a full-time Black reporter on the air on WFAA today.

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