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Sandra Long Dropped at Philly Newspapers

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Inquirer-Daily News V.P. Was Staffer for 27 Years

Photo Editor Hillery Smith Shay Laid Off at St. Paul Paper

Raleigh Paper Moving 25 Production Jobs to Charlotte

Bob Herbert to Write Columns From Think Tank

Discussing "The End of Anger" in a New Black Generation

L'Opinión Honored for Series on Mexicans in U.S. Prisons

Report Details Sexual Violence Against Journalists

Chicagoans Debate Naming Race of Crime Suspects

Short Takes

Inquirer-Daily News V.P. Was Staffer for 27 Years

Sandra D. Long, an employee of the Philadelphia Inquirer Sandra Longsince 1984 and vice president for editorial product development for Philadelphia Media Network, latest owner of the Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, was dropped from the staff on Wednesday.

Long said her goodbyes on Wednesday "to as many people as I could," she told Journal-isms. Mark Block, the company's vice president for external relations, said there would be further reductions as the company attempts to align its budget with revenues and the economic climate more frequently during the year.

Long's position was eliminated, he said. Further reductions could come on either the business or editorial sides, he said, and likely will not all come at once.

Coincidentally, Long is being dropped from the staff just weeks before the National Association of Black Journalists meets Aug. 3-7 in Philadelphia for its annual convention. Long, a founding member of NABJ, she said she considers her role as a founder a highlight of her career. She said she intends to be at the August gathering.

"I still look at Philadelphia as the founding chapter and I feel that the convention is coming to our house," Long said.

Long, 58, was promoted when Philadelphia Media Network took control of the newspapers and their website in October.

"For the last two years, Sandra has been vice president/newsroom operations, playing an integral role in consolidating the photo departments and support staffs of The Inquirer and the Daily News as well as sharing resources on the copy desks and in the graphics departments. She also helped coordinate special sections jointly produced by the papers," Acting Editor Stan Wischnowski said at the time.

"She will be part of a companywide team working to develop new products across multimedia platforms."

Those functions will now be split among other staffers, Block said. Asked what had changed since October, he said the company is merely correlating expenditures with revenue more often during the year, taking into account circulation, advertising and the economic conditions of the media industry.

"Things are not progressing at a rate in this economy that allows us to provide long-term extensions in the budget," he said. Asked why another job could not be found for Long, he said, "The goal is not to expand the company."

Long said she was not sure what she wanted to do next, whether it will be in the newspaper business or elsewhere in the media.

"I was able to pull people together to work and produce their best journalism," she said when asked of her achievements. And for the last couple of years, "the Daily News and the Inquirer newsrooms have always competed. My job has been to get them to collaborate and I was able to do so."

Long said she was also proud of the recent internship program for college students that she headed for the Pennsylvania Society of Newspaper Editors. The interns included three African Americans. "I worked their butts off for 2½ days," she said, and they produced 20 stories, 30 blog posts, 12 videos and at least 150 photos. Their work can be viewed at

When Long was named vice president of newsroom operations at the two papers in 2008, then-Publisher Mark J. Frisby said:

"Sandra is a proven newsroom leader who is enormously talented. She has been the main liaison between the newsroom and business departments for over 10 years and she has developed excellent working relationships with all divisions throughout Philadelphia Newspapers.

"Sandra joined Philadelphia Newspapers in January 1984 as a journalist and has held several management positions including deputy Pennsylvania Editor, deputy managing editor, assistant managing editor, and recently Managing Editor/Operations for The Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists and a member of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Minority Media Executives. Sandra has won multiple prestigious awards including the 2008 Woman of The Year Award given by the Philadelphia Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, 2007 Trailblazer Award from the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, and 2007 Courage Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Cancer [Society]."

Photo Editor Hillery Smith Shay Laid Off at St. Paul Paper

Hillery Smith Shay, senior editor, photography at the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, was laid off on Monday for "economic" reasons, Editor Mike Burbach told Journal-isms. Shay, seeing the trend in the newspaper business, was already pursuing a master's degree in business administration at nearby Bethel University.

Hillery Smith Shay"Predicting the curve is one of my strengths. It's a really unfortunate time for the business," Shay, 38, said. "I don't hold it against anybody." In fact, Shay said, she had had to lay off two people in her department, one that once numbered 20.

Because she majored in fine arts as an undergraduate, a master's degree in business would give her a more practical foundation were she to work for a large corporation, she said.

Shay came to the Pioneer Press a little over six years ago from the Associated Press in Miami. From 2005 to 2007, she chaired the Visual Task Force of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Raleigh Paper Moving 25 Production Jobs to Charlotte

The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., is transferring newsroom production work to a new center at the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, moving "about 25 N&O positions" there, the Raleigh paper announced on Monday.

Millicent Fauntleroy"Beginning in August, the new center will perform copy editing and page design for The N&O and its community newspapers, as well as The Charlotte Observer and The Herald of Rock Hill, S.C., which also are owned by The McClatchy Co.," the paper reported.

In Raleigh, the move would affect two black women — a desk manager and a copy editor — and a black man who is classified as a copy editor/designer in the group, Linda Williams, senior editor at the paper, told Journal-isms.

Millicent Fauntleroy, assistant news editor and slot editor who is African American, said she would not move to Charlotte. "I plan to retire while accepting my severance payment, unless my interview with our human resources department on Thursday shows me that there is an error in my thinking," she told Journal-isms. Fauntleroy, 61, has been at The N&O nearly 25 years, and has been employed full time as a journalist for 41 years.

Black journalists Sheon Ladson, a features copy editor, and Brian Wasson, a copy editor/designer, are also affected.

Bob Herbert to Write Columns From Think Tank

Bob Herbert, the former New York Times columnist who wrote his farewell Bob Herbert column for that paper in March, is joining Demos, a New York-based "national policy center," as a distinguished senior fellow, the organization announced Tuesday night.

"At Demos, Mr. Herbert will continue his work on behalf of low- and middle-income Americans, providing expertise and writing on economic, social and policy issues," the organization said. "At Demos, Mr. Herbert will continue working on a new book, 'Wounded Colossus,' while writing for Demos' new blog, Among other activities, he will also contribute to The American Prospect — a publishing partner of Demos."

Joel Dreyfuss, managing editor of, left, leads a discussion of "The End of Anger" with, from left, its author, Ellis Cose; Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post; Cheryl Contee, a co-founder of Jack and Jill Politics; Erica L. Williams, a senior strategist at Citizen Engagement Lab; and Jamal Simmons, a communications strategist and television commentator. The talk took place Monday at the Washington Post. (Credit: Kea Taylor/Imagine Photography)

Discussing "The End of Anger" in a New Black Generation

Ellis Cose, the Newsweek columnist and veteran journalist, wrote in 1993's "The Rage of a Privileged Class" that middle-class blacks were angry. He revisits the subject in his new "The End of Anger: A New Generation's Take on Race and Rage" and said he found significant changes.

On Monday, Cose presented his findings at a forum sponsored by at the home of the Root's parent, the Washington Post Co. "Based on a survey of African Americans covering three generations, the youngest group is far more optimistic about its opportunities and more confident about overcoming racism than its elders," according to a summary distributed for discussion.

A panel responded. The Post's Eugene Robinson, author most recently of "Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America," said, "I absolutely agree with the premise about the generational difference that you see. Harvard MBAs and people going to fancy prep schools have a lot of reason to be optimistic." But Robinson said he worries about those he describes in "Disintegration" as "the Abandoned: No Way Out." The groups are so far apart that "It's difficult to lay out an agenda . . . for all African Americans of all ages and all economic classes," Robinson said.

Erica L. Williams, speaking for millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, said, "What it means to be an African American culturally has changed. You find young African Americans sharing cultural traits with people of other races, such as skate culture. . . . Not that there is less anger, but anger is not necessarily a defining characteristic," she said. But Williams was hesitant to label what she observed. "I wouldn't call it the end of anger, but the beginning of confusion. We don't know what we're seeing."

Cheryl Contee, a partner at Fission Strategy and co-founder of the website Jack and Jill Politics, had two themes: technology and "the prison-industrial complex." Contee said that when mobile devices are accounted for, there is no digital divide between black and white. She also said, "We cannot sit idly by while so many of our black men" are in prison. She quoted Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow," who said there were more black men in prison today than were slaves in 1850.

Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist, said, "I think we can make the argument that there is the possibility for black people to do whatever they want as individuals, but when you make a mistake, there is the possibility that you can fall faster" than a white person would. He also urged African Americans, "Make some friends with Latinos," noting demographic changes. "African Americans have much more infrastructure than the Latino community does." But, he said, "that's not going to last."

L'Opinión Honored for Series on Mexicans in U.S. Prisons

"If the Karpoor Chandra Kulish International Awards are any indication, the business of print journalism kudos moves at a slower pace in India than it does in the U.S.," Richard Horgan wrote Wednesday for FishbowlLA.

"Seven 2009 merit prizes were announced this week by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, and included a series from that year published in La Opinión. 'Prisoners of Ignorance and Tradition,' a three-part, three-month investigation by reporter Claudia Núñiez, was all about a disenfranchised segment of the American prison system:

"More than 20,000 indigenous Mexicans, most of whom do not speak Spanish or English," but instead their own dialects, "are serving out sentences in U.S. prisons and are lost in a system that they do not know or understand.

"It’s a great series, translated into English by Marvelia Alpízar."

Report Details Sexual Violence Against Journalists

"The Committee to Protect Journalists has released a report about what it calls 'the silencing crime': sexual assault against journalists," the Huffington Post reported on Wednesday.

"The issue of sexual assault was relatively dormant until the assault on CBS reporter Lara Logan in Egypt in February. The attack, and Logan's decision to discuss it openly, prompted an outpouring of commentary about the dangers that correspondents face around the world.

"In the report, author Lauren Wolfe talked to over four dozen journalists.

". . . Speaking to CNN, Wolfe said media organizations need to give journalists space 'to report these issues,' and treat the possibility of sexual assault as seriously as they would other dangers when they send reporters into the field.

" 'Press freedom means being able to report freely in any kind of environment,' she said."

Chicagoans Debate Naming Race of Crime Suspects

The subject of racial identification of crime suspects is being debated again in Chicago after "A dozen or so teenage males went on the prowl near North Michigan Avenue in Chicago's toniest shopping district.

"They attacked five people, ages 20 to 68. Their loot included a backpack, a wallet, a bike, an iPad, a BlackBerry and an iPod Touch. The cops quickly arrested five alleged assailants, at least three of them from the South Side, and vowed to find the rest," Mary Schmich wrote Wednesday in the Chicago Tribune.

The Associated Press stylebook has said identification by race is pertinent "when it provides the reader with a substantial insight into conflicting emotions known or likely to be involved in a demonstration or similar event."

"I'm ambivalent about the omission of the attackers' race in the news accounts, but I think I would have decided to leave it out too," Schmich wrote.

". . . Race alone doesn't predict or explain behavior. Just because this mob was young and black hardly means that all young, black people in groups are a violent mob. Knowing the race of these attackers is no form of protection.

"And yet race is an aspect of what happened Saturday night.

"It's a piece of the story simply because we notice."

". . . As my friend pointed out, recalling the words of the African-American writer Toni Morrison, 'Once we know the race, what else do we know?'

"The answer? Not as much as any single word — black, white, other — may make us think we do."

Short Takes

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Injustice in Philly

I cannot tell you how sad and how angry it makes me that Sandra Long has been "dropped" by the Philly newspapers. I know we don't have the full story yet, but do you mean to tell me that after 27 years of loyal service, she gets so summarily dumped that she barely has time to dash around the newsroom to say goodbye "to as many people as I could?" What kind of way is that to treat someone who has played so many valuable roles at such a venerable institution? Where's the appreciation? Where's the applause? Where's the damn cake?

I have known Sandra my entire career. I was a sports clerk at the Wilmington News-Journal in the summer of 1977, the year Ethel Waters died. (For you whippersnappers: Waters was a notable black actress who was featured in such films as "Stormy Weather" and "Cabin In The Sky." Look it up.) I will never forget the fuss that Sandra, a reporter then, raised when the paper buried Waters' obit on the back of the B section. She marched back and forth across that newsroom, paper in hand, challenging the powers that be. She became a role model to me right then and there because she demonstrated the "why" of having black journalists in the room. If you're not there to battle for story placement and story choice and voice and other decision points, then you're just another person in the room. Fast forward a couple of decades, when Ella Fitzgerald died and I was on the copy desk at The Tennessean. I argued successfully for her obit to go on the front page, thanks to the lesson I learned from Sandra.

When I got this job -- director of newsroom operations -- the first person I called was Sandra. I still have the notes around here somewhere on the key tips she gave me. I've dug them out more than a time or two when I've needed to find the strength to plow through.

Sandra, my heart goes out to you sistah-girl. I know this is not the way you'd planned on ending your career, at least not in the newspaper business. But you've got skills! Take a page out of Paula Madison's book and exercise those management bones. Another organization will realize how much you bring to the table, or, as Roland is always saying, you could use this opportunity to flex your entrepreneurial muscle. In any case, give yourself a little breathing room and then move forward ... you're going to be fine.

Posted with love and prayer,

Denise Bridges
Director of Newsroom Operations
The Virginian-Pilot

It's very sad-- but most of

It's very sad-- but most of us on the broadcasting side would kill to have worked for the same company for 27 years. It's a sign of the times! I'm not saying she didn't deserve to keep her job-- but things are changing-- and there's no such thing as employer loyalty. It's been that way for a long time. I celebrate her longevity!!

Ray Metoyer

From Denise Bridges

I hear ya, Ray. From my perspective, it's not about keeping the job, and it's certainly not about recognizing the need for change, it's about, as the Bible says, doing things "decent and in order." Companies certainly have the right to let people go, but why do folks have to be shoved out the door? Couldn't they have least given her a little newsroom speech or something? I agree with Barry Cooper: the way they handled it was totally disrespectful.

The demonization of Black Youth is in Full Bloom

Of late there has been a deliberate narrative of portraying our Black male youth as criminals. Many digital and print media outlets have joined the mob (excuse the pun) in creating this sweeping label of Black youths as ominous thugs whose very presence denotes the specter of fear and violence.

At some point the Black Community must reject these depictions of our sons. Unless we begin to defuse these themes, the velocity of 'negrophbia'  narratives will contaminate the entire Black Collective from suburbia to office suites.

Sandra Long


Sandra Long’s untimely dismissal as VP for Editorial Product Development for News at the Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News shows what can happen when an organization lacks diversity of thought. I don’t challenge for a moment her company’s right to eliminate her position. Business is business. But there is also something to be said for treating people with respect and dignity, and after 27 years of exemplary duty, Sandra Long deserved that much.

I don’t know Sandra personally, but I do know that she is a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists, and in less than 60 days Philadelphia will host NABJ’s annual convention.

I can only imagine the great pride Sandra felt when Philly was awarded the convention, and now to be unceremoniously shoved out the door just weeks before the event is a slap in the face.

A loyal employee who is a vice president and 27-year veteran in the organization deserves better. This is where diversity of thought comes into play. It obviously never occurred to Sandra’s bosses – who I assume are not African-American – that this isn’t the best time to dismiss her. I am sure they never thought for a second about NABJ, Sandra’s role as a founding member, and what her stature as a senior journalist and VP means to the hundreds of young black journalists who look up to her and will attend the convention.

Her company, the Philadelphia Media Network, should have allowed Sandra to exit on her own terms. As a VP, she should have been told about the elimination of her job but that she could stay on until after the convention. Usually, that’s how it is done in the executive suite. But apparently, not at Philadelphia Media Network -- at least not for an executive woman of color.

Barry Cooper

Orlando, Fla.


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