Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Secrecy on Reporters' Plight in N. Korea

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Thursday, June 4, 2009
Magazine Publishers Group Lays Off Diversity Director

Friends, family and supporters of U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee rally in Southern California, as Carollyn Nguyen of the Annenberg School of Journalism reports in this video.

Observers Banned from Trial of U.S. Journalists

North Korean officials have banned observers from the espionage trial of two U.S. journalists, officials said, United Press International reported. People in eight cities - including Sacramento, Calif., Birmingham, Ala., New York and Washington - rallied behind them Wednesday night and called for their release, as Gina Kim wrote in the Sacramento Bee.

["'I don't think North Korea is holding back the trial results, but is actually continuing the trial,' said an unnamed source described by South Korea's Yonhap news agency as being 'familiar' with the case," Agence France-Press reported Sunday.]

The State Department did not rule out the possibility of sending former vice president Al Gore to Pyongyang to negotiate the release of the two journalists, Agence France-Presse reported.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly was responding to questions about whether it would make sense to send Gore, who is chairman of the California station Current TV, which employs the two journalists.

Kelly also said American diplomats were informed by the Swedish ambassador to North Korea that no observers are allowed, CNN reported.

Sweden represents the United States in North Korea because the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

The reporters were detained while covering the plight of North Korean defectors living along the China-North Korea border.

"The case of TV reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee threatened to raise tensions with the U.S., which already have been running high since the North tested another nuclear device last week and fired a series of missiles," the Associated Press' William Foreman reported from Seoul, South Korea, on Friday.

"There were fears the women might become political pawns as the U.N. debates possible sanctions for Pyongyang in response to the test.

"No details of the trial have been publicly released since the North's official news agency filed a brief dispatch Thursday saying the proceedings would be held later that day."

"Here's what we can say with a fair degree of accuracy," Bob Dietz of the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote on Friday. "The women are being held in a government guest house outside of Pyongyang. In letters and phone calls to their families, and according to the Swedish government, they are comfortable and not being physically abused, although they are not free to leave and cannot see each other.

"As of this posting, the status of their trial on charges of illegally entering the DPRK and unspecified 'hostile acts' is entirely unclear. It remains uncertain what happened on March 17, when they were arrested near the Tumen River. The only American witness, Current TV producer Mitchell Koss who has since returned to the United States, is not speaking publicly. Neither are other Current TV staffers."

"Washington Week" Features All Journalists of Color

It what might be a first for a mainstream news talk show, PBS' "Washington Week With Gwen Ifill and National Journal" featured a host and panel of journalists in which each person was black, Hispanic or Asian American.

"It was serendipitous," Ifill, who is African American, told Journal-isms. With her were Helene Cooper of the New York Times, a black journalist originally from Liberia; Greg Ip of the Economist, who is Asian American; and Gebe Martinez of Politico, who is Hispanic. Martinez's appearance was one of the rare times a Latina journalist has discussed the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor on national television.

"I was proud of our little show tonight," Ifill said. "As you know, diversity requires laying the groundwork. And then you can tell folks who can't find 'qualified' voices that they are hiding in plain sight!" 

Ju-Don Roberts Leaves D.C.'s Post for Beliefnet Site

Ju-Don RobertsJu-Don Roberts, the managing editor of who was just named to a key role in the integration of the Washington Post newspaper and its Web site, is taking a job as executive editor and senior vice president of Beliefnet, which describes itself as "the leading multi-faith and inspiration" Web site.

"Roberts will oversee all the company’s content divisions — editorial, community, video and product, reporting to Editor-in-Chief, President and Co-Founder, Steven Waldman," Beliefnet said in a news release Friday.

"I've been a Beliefnet fan for years and have been very excited to see the recent growth and development of the site and community," Roberts said in the release. "Providing inspiration and resources to help people navigate their life journey is an important mission—I'm looking forward to joining Beliefnet's great editorial and executive team."

Raju Narisetti, Post co-managing editor, told the Post staff that Roberts has led the online coverage "on some of the biggest breaking news stories of the last decade: the Sept. 11 attacks, the D.C. sniper and the Virginia Tech shootings." She's also led "numerous award-winning projects, including Being a Black Man, which won more than a half-dozen awards, and Blue Wall of Silence, which former executive editor Doug Feaver described as the project that represented a watershed moment in the collaboration between the Web and print newsrooms. She also spearheaded the web coverage that helped the Post win the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news on the Virginia Tech shootings. Ju-Don's terrific journalism skills, great instincts, upbeat personality and get-it-done mindset have been vital to’s operations and will be missed as we integrate our newsrooms."

"Before joining the Post in 1992, Roberts worked at the Washington Times," Beliefnet said. "She returned to the Post in 1995 after a brief stint at the Charlotte Observer. Roberts is on the board of the Online News Association and the digital task force of the National Association of Black Journalists. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and earned her BA from Howard University."

On April 28, Post editors named Roberts deputy of the Universal News Desk, "which will become the editing nerve center of the new integrated newsroom."

Beliefnet says it has more than 12 million newsletter subscribers and averages between 2.5 and 3 million unique visitors per month. It is a subsidiary of Fox Digital Media and Fox Entertainment Group.

Magazine Publishers Group Lays Off Diversity Director

Shaunice HawkinsThe Magazine Publishers of America, the organization representing what has been called the whitest segment of the journalism business, has laid off its director of diversity, Shaunice Hawkins told colleagues on Thursday.

"The end of an era has come . . . I am no longer with Magazine Publishers of America (MPA)," Hawkins wrote. She was hired in 2004 as director of diversity development, and was promoted in 2007 to vice president.

"The development of diversity initiatives in the publishing industry has been recognized as a key priority by the Boards of both MPA and American Society of Magazine Editors," a news release announcing Hawkins' hiring said in 2004.

Spokesmen for the association were not available on Friday. [On Monday, Howard Polskin, senior vice president/communications/platforms & events, said the diversity duties would be absorbed by Elvira Perez, vice president/education services. She will become vice president of member and education services, he said.]


In her role as diversity director, Hawkins promoted a National Job Shadow Day, provided speakers for journalism diversity conferences and boot camps, and awarded scholarships to students and professionals interested in magazines, among other activities. The association maintains a diversity page on its Web site.

The magazine industry, unlike its newspaper counterparts, conducts no diversity census of employees. But in 2006, the New York Observer undertook a survey of leading New York magazines with the help of magazine staff members who agreed to review their mastheads and provide diversity breakdowns.

"The results, magazine by magazine, looked like the far end of assorted paint-color chips: ivory, bone, mist," Lizzy Ratner wrote in the piece, headlined, "Vanilla Ceiling: Magazines Still Shades Of White."

Last month, the American Society of News Editors announced that Bobbi Bowman, who has directed diversity programs for that organization for the past 10 years, is stepping down effective June 30.


CNN's John King said of the president: "God bless him, God bless the one before him, and God bless the next 200 to come. I'm not going to ask them for an endorsement or a product endorsement. I think that's way over the line."  (Video)   

Two Journalists of Color With Obama Overseas . . .

At least two journalists of color — CNN correspondent Dan Lothian and NBC producer Athena Jones — accompanied President Obama on his trip to the Mideast and Europe, fewer than on April's closer-in trip to Mexico and the Caribbean.

Alfredo Richard, spokesman for the NBC-owned Spanish-language Telemundo network, said in April that anchor Pedro Sevcec flew to Mexico to cover the Obama trip and did his "Noticiero Telemundo" from NBC's Mexico City bureau.

This time, he said, "We are getting NBC and agency (AP/Reuters) material for our air."

Jones filed a whimsical piece from Giza, Egypt, reporting that "after delivering a major speech aimed at Muslims around the world, President Obama spotted another notable sight: a hieroglyphic that showed the face of a man with big ears.

"Obama entered the tomb and saw it right away."

. . . Critics Debate Obama's Bit About Conan O'Brien

Meanwhile, back in the States, critics debated whether it was appropriate for President Obama to plug Conan O'Brien's new hosting gig on NBC's "Tonight Show" as Brian Williams interviewed him for NBC's "Inside the Obama White House" special.

"CNN's John King went on Steve Malzberg's radio show today. Malzberg, often a guest on cable news, asked King whether he would have done what NBC's Brian Williams did the other day — use interview time for a late night comedy bit," Chris Ariens of TV Newser wrote.

"Malzberg: You're sitting down with the President. You have unlimited access, or, or great access to him like Brian Williams had the other day. Do you then ask him to do a promo for an upcoming CNN show the way they did for the Conan O'Brien show? Is that appropriate? King: The answer on that would be no. No. Never. No."

Newsday's Verne Gay said he found the skit harmless, but noted, "there was also a plug by BriWilli for 'Saturday Night Live.' And top White House correspondent Chuck Todd just coincidentally happens by, while cameras are rolling, to grill a White House press official."

Some Hispanics, Women Knock Sotomayor Cartoon

"Some Hispanics and advocates for women are criticizing an editorial cartoon that depicts Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as a strung-up pinata that President Barack Obama is inviting Republicans to whack," Richard Green reported for the Associated Press.

"The cartoon by Chip Bok of Creators Syndicate ran in The Oklahoman on Tuesday. It shows Obama wearing a sombrero and saying 'Now, who wants to be first?' to a group of elephants in suits holding sticks. The underline says, 'Fiesta Time At The Confirmation Hearing.'

"Jean Warner, chair of the Oklahoma Women's Coalition, said there was nothing funny about the image. . . .

"Rossana Rosado, publisher and chief executive officer of El Diario La Prensa in New York, also said the cartoon was offensive."

Bok, who took a buyout from the Akron (Ohio) Beacon-Journal in August and now draws for the syndicate, told Journal-isms, "I'm not going to disagree with anybody who wants to say it's stupid," and agreed with those who said a Puerto Rican is not a Mexican.

But he said the point of the cartoon was that "Obama has the Republicans over a barrel. Everybody in American has pinata parties whether they're Hispanic or not." Also, he said, "She was happy to use her Latina-ness to promote her candidacy as a judge," so why not use it in his cartoon?

Jessica Burtch, managing editor of the syndicate, told Journal-isms she thought the cartoon "very clever depiction of a very clever move on his part" — Obama's — "in putting the Republicans in an impossible situation."

Emil Wilbekin to Lead Multimedia Project

Emil WilbekinEmil Wilbekin, a founding editor of Vibe magazine, has been named managing editor of, responsible for the development of original, daily content and programming, Essence announced on Friday.

"As one of the first projects to emerge from the partnership between The Warner Bros. Television Group’s Telepictures Productions and Time Inc.’s Essence Communications Inc., the revamped is the largest and fastest growing African-American magazine website," Essence said.

Wilbekin had been editor in chief of Giant, where he oversaw editorial for the magazine and for and was a consultant on behalf of Microsoft for popular digital ventures, such as the official LeBron James Web site and blog, as well as MSN sites covering style and travel.

Nick Charles, who had been vice president of content for BET Interactive and before that editor in chief of AOL Black Voices, was hired as managing editor of the Essence Web site project in September, but left after two months. Essence said then that magazine editor Angela Burt-Murray was doing the job herself.

Daniel Mu?±oz, San Diego Publisher, Dies at 81

Daniel Lopez Mu?±oz Daniel Lopez Mu?±oz, a Chicano professor and activist who founded the weekly bilingual newspaper La Prensa San Diego, died at 81 on Sunday, his son, Daniel H. Mu?±oz Jr., reported¬†Friday in the San Diego newspaper. The cause of death was not reported.

"As a political science major and Chicano studies professor, Dan believed that political action and involvement was what was required to bring about change to the Chicano community. As a student of history he understood that with each passing year the Chicano community was growing and if political awareness could be created, the community could become a major political force," the son wrote.

". . . To counter news and information that he saw as being 'filtered and manipulated' by the power structure, he started publishing at his own expense a small newsletter entitled Tezozomoc Speaks, or 'Tezzy' as it became known. . . .

"After publishing Tezozomoc Speaks for a year Dan then made the decision in 1976 to found and begin publishing a weekly newspaper (again with his own finances), La Prensa San Diego. The stated objective for La Prensa San Diego according to Dan Mu?±oz was . . . 'to view the news and events through a Hispanic/Chicano perspective,' or as he always stated; 'through our brown eyes.'

"Dan Mu?±oz believed in the Mexican-American community and his editorials reflected this. La Prensa San Diego did not make a lot of money compared to some of the other publications. At the same time, it was never about the money for Dan, it was about providing a voice for the community. This is what sustained the paper and him throughout. It was the knowledge that thousands of readers each week appreciated the paper and looked forward to the paper. Every week they knew that La Prensa would be out and that it represented their best interest. It spoke to them and it spoke about them. These things they did not get anywhere else."

Jerry Rutledge, Georgia Sportswriter, Dies at 52

Jerry Rutledge"Jerry Rutledge, the high school sports writer for the Ledger-Enquirer, died Thursday evening after being rushed to a Columbus hospital with blood clots in his lungs. He was 52," Dimon Kendrick-Holmes reported in the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer.

"In the early 1980s, Rutledge was hired by the Anniston Star, where he became one of the first black sportswriters in Alabama.

"Hired by the Ledger-Enquirer in the mid-1990s, Rutledge worked a variety of jobs in Columbus, including military publication editor, assistant sports editor, assistant metro editor and East Alabama reporter. He covered many leaders and wrote many notable stories, perhaps none as well-praised as a five-part series on the Tuskegee Airmen, for which he interviewed surviving members of the famed World War II flight group.

"Ben Holden, vice president and executive editor of the Ledger-Enquirer, said members of the newsroom will miss Rutledge 'more than you will know.'

"'Jerry was an outstanding journalist who did everything we asked of him and kept a smile on his face all the while,' Holden said."

Short Takes

  • A federal judge has dismissed a civil-rights lawsuit filed by Oakland Tribune photographer Ray Chavez, who accused officers of illegally barring him from taking pictures at a freeway crash scene and handcuffing him when he persisted, Henry K. Lee reported Thursday for the San Francisco Chronicle. "In a ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco dismissed the suit, saying the media have no First Amendment right to be at an accident or crime scene if the general public is excluded."¬†
  • Lydia Polgreen Lydia Polgreen of the New York Times won a $10,000 Livingston Award for Young Journalists in the international reporting category for her three-part series, ‚ÄúThe Spoils.‚Äù "Polgreen focused on tin and uranium to explain an ironic tragedy in which exploitation of Africa‚Äôs natural resources wealth often [brings] violence and poverty," the judges said. Polgreen, 34, now reports from New Delhi.
  • George Jackson, the head of the quasi-public group that voted Tuesday to raze the remains of Detroit's Tiger Stadium, is defending the action, which has drawn criticism from no less a figure than Keith Olbermann, who named him one of the "World's Worst" during Olbermann's "Countdown" on MSNBC on Tuesday, the Detroit News reported¬†on Thursday. "I notice that you criticize public figures regularly for hypocrisy and for playing fast and loose with the facts. Your segment about me was guilty of both," Jackson wrote Olbermann.
  • "Of 11 detainees at the Port Isabel Detention Center interviewed by Amnesty International this week, none had attorneys and 10 were green-card holders who had spent most of their lives in the United States," Lynn Brezosky reported¬†Thursday for the San Antonio Express-News. "Amnesty International requested the tour after immigrant rights groups began documenting reported abuses that led several detainees to join a 'rolling' hunger strike." On her Latina Lista blog,¬† Marisa Trevio called the hunger strike "suppressed news."
  • Maria "Tess" Martinez, 25, of Tucson, Ariz., was killed in a single-vehicle wreck in New Mexico this week, officials said, L. Anne Newell of the Arizona Daily Star reported¬†on Thursday. "Martinez was a journalism major at the University of Arizona and worked at the Star last semester. She also had reported for the Tucson Weekly, the Tucson Citizen, the Green Valley News & Sun and other area publications. She'd planned to return to the Star in the fall for a news internship while she completed her bachelor's degree. She'd spent time in Chicago last summer as part of the Academy for Alternative Journalism program, said e-mails from Charles Whitaker, director of the academy, part of the Medill School of Journalism."
  • "The NBA is the sport that made Stephen A. Smith famous," Nate Taylor wrote Friday for the Associated Press Sports Editors' APSE Bulletin, "But during the NBA postseason this year, Smith was nowhere to be seen or heard. Instead of offering opinions on such topics as whether Kobe Bryant is better than LeBron James on the multiple ESPN platforms, Smith was relegated to the role of a spokesperson for the fairly new VitaminWater campaign of 'The Great Debate.'¬† Like many journalists these days, he is looking for a job."
  • Mark Trahant, editorial page editor of the now-defunct print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, says if he had it to do over again, he would "experiment like crazy. . . . 'cause if you're going to go down, at least go down and make it interesting." He told a German journalist in this You Tube video that one value of news organizations is that they tell readers how events fit into the bigger picture. "That's what print did so well for so long," he said. "To me, it's a matter of who's drafting kind of the master narrative for society. Now, nobody is. It's kind of just coming at you from all directions. At some point, there's got to be a way to sort that out into a story." Trahant is also board chairman of the Maynard Institute.
  • "Jamila Hunter has been named head of programming for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network," the network announced¬†on Thursday. "She will report to Christina Norman, chief executive officer of OWN. "A seasoned programming executive who has launched numerous series for NBC, 20th Century Fox Television and Bravo, Hunter is one of the industry's most successful nonfiction development executives. Hunter will oversee all aspects of programming development for the network. She begins her new role on June 10."
  • Glenn Reedus, a former editor of the Chicago Defender, launched an online newspaper for Chicago's South Suburbs on June 1, the South Suburban News. "The region has 700,000 people. We will train citizen journalists to do much of the reporting, and rely on newspaper and radio friendships developed over the last 35 years to supply feature content," Reedus told Journal-isms.
  • Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr., vice president of print and new media at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and deputy editor of POZ magazine, is a co-editor of NLGJA's new official blog, Re:ACT.
  • Tributes to actor David Carradine, found dead Thursday in Thailand at age 72, leave one blogger cold. "Atlasien," who describes herself as "a multiracial adoptive mother in an interracial marriage raising a transracially adopted multiracial son," writes that the white Carradine's role on the 1970s television series "Kung Fu" angered her. "Every time we watched it, we were reminded that it was possible for white people to take the best of what they wanted from Asian culture. Asian culture was mysterious and cool, but real Asian people were unwanted and superfluous. They could easily be replaced by the right kind of white man."

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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