Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Scared, Shaken in Chilean Earthquake

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ex-CNN V.P., Wife "Thought Our Number Was Up"

Cynthia Hudson to Head Hispanic Projects for CNN

Americans of Color Firm on Need for Health Reform

AAJA Chapter Gives $25,000 to Its National Organization

Black Pulitzer Winners See Media Lists as "Cliquish"

Editors Didn't Know Where Paterson Story Would Lead

L.A. Times Says Payday Predators Turn to Jobless

Tribal Ownership Means Can't Join Press Gallery

Short Takes

"Earthquake pictures posted by Twitter users in Chile record apartment buildings split in half, crumbling churches, and freeways ripped apart by the force of the earthquake," the Huffington Post reported. (Credit: Jaime Perez)

Ex-CNN V.P., Wife "Thought Our Number Was Up"

Christopher CrommettChristopher Crommett has been speaking, consulting and working on music projects since he stepped down in September as senior vice president of CNN en Espa?±ol, CNN's Spanish-language division. He was in Chile last week with his wife, Ana, to speak at the V Congreso Internacional de la Lengua Espa?±ola (Fifth International Congress of the Spanish Language) when the magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck early Saturday.

"As it turns out, our (my wife and I) room was on the 18th floor - the top floor - of our hotel in Santiago," Crommett told Journal-isms via e-mail from Chile. "We both happened to be awake when the shaking started but it still took us a moment to figure out what was going on.

"Then we got quite scared. We both thought our number was up. As the room shuddered and stirred, what I kept visualizing was the ceiling caving in on us, or the entire 18th floor slipping off the top of the building and crashing into the street far below. That's how violent the shaking and rattling was.

"And it was not just back and forth but also up and down. We jumped out of bed - saying prayers and asking ourselves, 'What do we do?' Lamps fell over, shelves emptied out, my wife's suitcase toppled over.

"I finally said, 'let's get out to the hallway.' Our concern was that the large glass windows in our room would break. We hurried out, the shaking continued and we braced ourselves against the hallway wall. Our sense of panic was not helped by the screaming and wailing we heard from a woman in one of the rooms.

"When the shaking finally stopped (it must have lasted close to 90 seconds), we went back into the room, threw on some more clothes, put on shoes and walked down the 18 floors to the lobby. The lobby was packed with nervous guests.

"Two huge glass walls in the lobby were shattered - there were shards strewn on the floor inside and on the sidewalk outside. Also, a section of the hotel's brick facade had come crashing down outside on the sidewalk. But all of this was 1% of what happened to so many others in Chile.

Since then, he said, "I've done some reporting for a TV station in Puerto Rico, provided some info to folks at CNN en Espa?±ol, and may do something for a publication or two." Needless to say, the language conference was canceled.

Cynthia Hudson to Head Hispanic Projects for CNN

"Award-winning Spanish-language television executive and journalist Cynthia Hudson has been named senior vice president and general manager of CNN en Espa?±ol and Hispanic strategy for CNN/U.S.," CNN announced on Monday. She succeeds Christopher Crommett, who left the network in September after 19 years.

Cynthia Hudson"In her new position, Hudson will oversee newsgathering, editorial content, programming, production, operations and personnel, of CNN en Espa?±ol, CNN en Espa?±ol RADIO and the recently launched, a joint venture Web site produced in conjunction with Grupo Editorial Expansi??n," the announcement said.

CNN spokesman Nigel Pritchard told Journal-isms it was too soon to elaborate on the "Hispanic strategy" aspect of Hudson's job for CNN/U.S., but the announcement quoted Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, saying of Hudson, "Her appointment underscores CNN's commitment to the Latin American marketplace, where CNN en Espa?±ol consistently ranks as the region‚Äôs leading pan-regional news network, and positions us to best serve the growing Hispanic market in the U.S."

The announcement continued: "Hudson comes from Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS), where she served as chief creative officer and executive vice president for SBS and managing director of Mega TV. Hudson was responsible for SBS’ expansion, directly overseeing flagship TV station Mega TV, as well as the companies’ internet site and other new media development."

President Obama presides over a bipartisan meeting on health care reform with members of Congress on Thursday. (Credit: Lawrence Jackson/White House)

Americans of Color Firm on Need for Health Reform

Americans of color have not backed away from congressional health-reform proposals as have many of their white counterparts, according to recent surveys.

The Kaiser Family Foundation's February Tracking Poll, taken Feb. 11 through 16, asked "Do you think you and your family would be (better off) or (worse off) if the President and Congress passed health care reform, or don’t you think it would make much difference?"

Among non-Hispanic whites, 24 percent said they would be better off, 39 percent said worse off and 28 said it wouldn't make much difference.

But among nonwhites, 57 percent said they would be better off, just 12 percent said worse off and 24 percent said it would not make much difference.

The telephone survey of 1,201 adults ages 18 and older — including 309 nonwhites — did not further break down the nonwhite category.

However, it is consistent with other polls. A Jan. 14 survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press asked, "As of right now, do you generally favor or generally oppose the health care bills being discussed in Congress?" [PDF] 

Among whites, 31 percent favored, 56 percent opposed; 14 percent said they did not know or refused to answer.

Among nonwhites, 58 percent favored, 29 percent opposed and 13 percent said they did not know or refused to answer. For blacks specifically, the favorability numbers were higher: 63 percent, with 25 percent opposed and 12 percent who said they did not know or refused to answer.

Health care is particularly critical for Hispanics who are in the country illegally. In September, the Pew Hispanic Center found that "Six-in-ten Hispanic adults living in the United States who are not citizens or legal permanent residents lack health insurance. The share of uninsured among this group (60%) is much higher than the share of uninsured among Latino adults who are legal permanent residents or citizens (28%), or among the adult population of the United States (17%)."

Judy Lin, left, and Pamela Wu of the Sacramento chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association challenge other AAJA chapters to donate to the national organization. (Video.)

AAJA Chapter Gives $25,000 to National Organization

The Sacramento, Calif., chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association is donating $25,000 to its national organization to help it out of its financial crisis, AAJA announced on Monday.

"As part of this gift, AAJA Sacramento is challenging every chapter to make a donation to the national organization. It can be $1,000, $10,000 or better yet, match our gift!" wrote Judy Lin and Pamela Wu, co-presidents of AAJA Sacramento.

"The Sacramento chapter board last month unanimously approved the gift, designating $10,000 for operating costs, $7,500 for scholarships and $7,500 for professional development. We told Executive Director Kathy Chow that we want to help national close the deficit fast. And we wanted to do it without losing sight of AAJA's vital missions: foster young journalists and promote mid-career Asian Americans in the newsroom."

Sharon Chan, the national AAJA president, wrote members in November that the association expected to face a $177,000 deficit at the end of the year.

"Our traditional media supporters are struggling to stay in business and, in some cases, have shut down. Some of you have lost your jobs because of cuts sweeping the industry, making it difficult to attend the national convention — which historically made up half of our cash flow — or even to renew your membership," she wrote.

Late last year, AAJA's Minnesota Chapter donated $7,500 from its chapter savings.

It might surprise many that AAJA chapters have that much money in their treasuries.

Steve Jefferson, president of the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists, who chairs the Council of Presidents, comprising all the chapters in the National Association of Black Journalists, said NABJ chapters keep the amount of money in their treasuries closely guarded, lest they be called upon to share some of it.

At the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, "Our chapters have only been in existence fairly recently and don't have as established a financial set up yet. So the chapters have not given NAHJ any funds," Executive Director Ivan Roman told Journal-isms.

"Our policy is that half of the national dues that members pay goes into the local chapter's coffers if people say they want to be a member of that chapter. . . .That policy continues and we have not changed it despite our financial difficulties prevalent for all in 2009."


From left, Colbert I. King, Leonard Pitts Jr., Cynthia Tucker and Eugene Robinson.

Black Pulitzer Winners See Media Lists as "Cliquish"

As reported here last week, a spokesman for the Daily Beast Web site had no response to an inquiry from Journal-isms about the absence of black journalists from its list of "The Left's Top 25 Journalists" and a similar one for the right. But when Journal-isms asked the opinion of black journalists who had won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary — but were missing yet again from another "best" list from a mainstream media outlet — the Pulitzer winners were not so shy.

They said the lists reflected poorly on the list makers; in this case, the Web site founded by the celebrated Tina Brown, editor of Vanity Fair magazine from 1984 to 1992 and of the New Yorker from 1992 to 1998.

"I'd call it myopic, to say the least," said Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, the 2009 Pulitzer winner for commentary. "But to the extent that this represents a real perception, one has to wonder whether the nation — which after all elected a black president — isn't far ahead of the media executives who make assignments that create influence."

Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who won in 2007, said, "These lists, which magazines and websites love to put together, are invariably eccentric, reflecting the views of a small, cliquish group. The writer says he 'distilled' interviews with 'academics, politicians, journalists, and denizens of corporate America.' That's probably true. And most of the people he talked to were probably white. It's the ever-present 'everybody I know thinks so-and-so' syndrome."

Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald, who won in 2004, told Journal-isms, "I have to say I'm not shedding any tears about missing the list, which strikes me as arbitrary and kind of silly. The fact that the list is (from what I've heard, I still haven't opened the links) lily white only reiterates the obvious: people of color (journalists or otherwise) are often not seen by whites."

Colbert I. King of the Washington Post, the 2003 winner, said "the lists are meaningless, at least to me. Pardon my ignorance, but, I'm not that familiar with The Daily Beast (I know the name) or the author (never heard of him.) As for the absence of black journalists on lists . . . what else is new?"

[Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune, winner in 1989, said on Tuesday, "Suffice it to say that I agree with my colleagues. There's nothing new about our having to work twice as hard to get half as much recognition. As you may recall John H. Johnson telling the NABJ years ago, 'Make yourself indispensable.'  I'm still working on it."]

The Daily Beast spokesman, Andrew Kirk, did correct an impression that there were no Hispanics on the lists, pointing out Matthew Yglesias on the "left" list. The compilation, credited to staffer Tunku Varadarajan, was also criticized in readers' comments for its broad interpretation of the word "journalist" and for ascribing ideology to those listed. Comedian Jon Stewart topped the "left" list.

Editors Didn't Know Where Paterson Story Would Lead

When it ran its highly anticipated stories on New York Gov. David Paterson last week, the New York Times did not know the damaging information that eventually led to Paterson's decision at week's end not to run for election, public editor Clark Hoyt told readers on Friday.

The New York Daily News is among those that have called on Gov. David Paterson to step down.As Hoyt recalled,  the first was "a front-page article revealing that David Johnson, a top aide to Paterson, described as the governor’s closest confidant, was accused of violently assaulting a woman last Halloween — ripping off most of her clothes, choking her, smashing her against a mirrored dresser and preventing her from calling for help.

"When the woman sought a protective order, she told the judge she felt harassed by the State Police, who had contacted her even though they had no jurisdiction in the matter. Paterson himself had talked to the woman by phone, and the next day she failed to show up in court, causing her case to be dismissed."

Hoyt disclosed that, "Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news, told me that this story emerged only after The Times had published two other articles about Paterson last week. 'It wasn’t like we knew this and were holding it for some third bombshell,' she said. That’s the way reporting often works: new leads develop after stories are published.

"The first article described Johnson’s rapid rise from ambitious intern to powerful insider. It said he had a troubled background that included arrests as a teenager for drug violations and at least three 'altercations with women.' The horrifying Halloween incident was mentioned briefly. The police were called, the paper said, but, 'It is unclear if the altercation was verbal or physical or both, but the case is listed as closed.' The woman, whom The Times did not identify, would not give the paper details about it, and Paterson called it essentially a bad breakup. 'It just sounded like breakups you hear about all the time,' he said, words he surely regrets today.

"The second article was about Paterson’s governing style. He was portrayed as largely disengaged from policy deliberations and remote from seasoned aides, relying increasingly on Johnson and another adviser lacking extensive experience in state government."

Paterson, supported by some readers, issued as statement after the first story was published saying the Times had published information sealed by the state and that the conclusions about domestic violence "are not supported by the facts."

But those protestations became moot once Paterson's call to the complaining woman, and the intervention of the state police, became known.

L.A. Times Says Payday Predators Turn to Jobless

"The payday loan industry has found a new and lucrative source of business: the unemployed," Robert Faturechi reported Monday in the Los Angeles Times.

"Payday lenders, which typically provide workers with cash advances on their paychecks, are offering the same service to those covered by unemployment insurance.

"No job? No problem. A typical unemployed Californian receiving $300 a week in benefits can walk into one of hundreds of storefront operations statewide and walk out with $255 well before that government check arrives — for a $45 fee. Annualized, that's an interest rate of 459%.

"Critics of the practice, which has grown as the jobless rate has increased, say these pricey loans are sending the unemployed into a cycle of debt from which it will be tough to emerge.

"Many payday clients pay off their loans and immediately take out another, or borrow from a second lender to pay off the first, and sink ever deeper into debt. Typical customers take out such loans about 10 times a year, by some estimates."

Tribal Ownership Means Can't Join Press Gallery

"Because the paper I work for is owned by a company that’s owned by a tribe," Rob Capriccioso wrote Monday for Indian Country Today, Capriccioso has been unable to gain membership in the U.S. Senate Periodical Press Gallery.

Rob Zakowski, superintendent of the House Periodical Gallery, confirmed that government-owned publications are not permitted membership in the gallery, and that tribes are considered governments.

Capriccioso argued, "What the situation really boils down to is a U.S. government bias against tribes. . . . It’s the same U.S. government, too, that has previously approved congressional credentials for many foreign news services, including China’s Xinhua News Agency."

Short Takes

  • Veteran sportswriter Chuck Johnson, a Detroit native who took a buyout from USA Today in December 2007, has been named a program supervisor in the Detroit Public Schools for media and new media, the school system announced on Monday. He and Kisha Verdusco, a former assistant city editor of the Detroit News, also newly hired, are to "immediately work to expand the schools‚Äô and the district‚Äôs use of communications vehicles such as Twitter, Facebook, live-streamed video and others." Johnson's job is "to promote the city‚Äôs Public School League athletics" and "improve participation in sports and at sporting events." He was a boxing writer at USA Today and continues to write a boxing column for
  • "Multiple readers were confused by a headline in the Feb. 19 'Today‚Äôs Top 5' on the World Watch page," Derek Donovan, public editor at the Kansas City Star, wrote on Sunday. "The headline 'Armed soldiers storm Nigerian palace' referred to renegade forces kidnapping the president of Niger." Trouble is, Donovan conceded, "Nigerian" refers to the country of Nigeria, the most populous in Africa. People from Niger, a smaller, separate nation to Nigeria's north, are Nigeriens. However, Donovan said, "This isn‚Äôt something that rises to the level of a separate correction, but it‚Äôs worth noting."
  • The televised memorial service for Michael Jackson actually won the NAACP Image Award Friday as "Outstanding Variety ‚Äî (Series or Special)." The nomination of the show had raised eyebrows. "Even though entertainers did perform, it was still a memorial service/funeral to honor this young man," Billie J. Green, a former president of the NAACP's Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch, wrote in January to NAACP President Ben Jealous.
  • Darryl Enriquez, a former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter, lost his race for mayor of Waukesha, Wis., Eugene Kane wrote Feb.22 in his Journal Sentinel blog. "Contrary to some opinions, he found his background as a journalist wasn't much of an issue to most voters. 'Out of all the campaigning, only one person told me they wouldn't vote for me because I was a "liberal journalist," ' said Enriquez, who actually ran as a conservative on most issues. As a former reporter, Enriquez said the thing that stood out for him was the amount of commitment needed to get people to support you with their vote. 'You have to believe what you say; if you don't, it really becomes apparent.' "
  • A survey of practices at magazine Web sites¬†found that "59 percent of those surveyed said that either there was no copy editing whatsoever online (11 percent), or that copy editing is less rigorous than in the print edition," Victor Navasky, writing with Evan Lerner, reported for the March/April issue of the Columbia Journalism Review. And "40 percent said that when Web editors, as opposed to print editors, are in charge of content decisions, fact-checking is less rigorous (17 percent said there was no fact-checking online when Web editors made the content decisions)."
  • ‚ÄúI‚Äôm delighted to announce that one of the leading journalists from the Financial Times in the US, Joanna Chung, is joining us as Bureau Chief of the Law Group" at the Wall Street Journal, Managing Editor Robert Thomson wrote to staffers on Monday, according to Talking Biz News. "Jo is a true renaissance journalist, bringing varied experiences and much expertise to the Journal. At the FT, she led coverage of US financial regulation and enforcement, including the SEC, US attorneys, the FDIC and major developments in securities law."
  • The National Association of Black Journalists' Conference on Health Disparities begins Thursday in Washington, with Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. secretary of health and human services, as its opening speaker. "Saturday‚Äôs series of panels may be the most important content offered to journalists attending the conference, an announcement says. ". . . in a time when news outlets are shrinking, how can journalists continue generating income for health stories, and to find funding to cover long form reporting on health?"
  • "Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that of the total admissions to treatment services for crack use, blacks outpaced whites in 1996, but whites outpaced blacks in 2005 for those under 30 years old," Charles M. Blow wrote Saturday in the New York Times. "Then came Tyler Perry with his inexplicable fascination with this clich?©, and his almost single-handed revival of it," Blow added, speaking of the film producer's black crack addict characters. "Let it go, Mr. Perry. These never-ending portrayals perpetuate the modern mythology that little has changed when much has."
  • The so-called Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, came to Yemen for al-Qaeda terrorist training, and when that fact became known, "Suddenly scores of international journalists were parachuting in," Oliver Holmes wrote Monday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. They were treated better than local Yemeni journalists. "If I want to get an interview with the prime minister, I can‚Äôt get it unless I have some sort of relationship,‚Äù Muhammed Kibsi, editor of the Yemen Observer, said. ‚ÄúWhen the foreign journalists came they were able to get interviews in a matter of days."

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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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