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Sharpton to Deploy MSNBC on "Battlefield"

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Activist Compares Show With Limbaugh's, Hannity's

Human Rights Watch Worries About Dark-Skinned Libyans

Oakland Tribune Nameplate to Vanish in Reorganization

Dissatisfaction With Comcast Over Diversity Promises

AP Reports NYPD Targeting of Ethnic Communities

CNN, C-SPAN Covering Events Prior to King Dedication

Johnson Publishing Hires Execs for Makeup, Digital

Short Takes

The Rev. Al Sharpton: "We're still at the Edmund Pettus Bridge." (Credit: NewsOne)

Activist Compares Show With Limbaugh's, Hannity's

The Rev. Al Sharpton, newly awarded the "permanent" 6 p.m. host slot on MSNBC, says he views his position as new turf on the civil rights "battlefield," engaging the right wing.

Sharpton told on Tuesday:

"When you look at the last 15 years, there was a rise of the Right Wing that manifested itself through George W. Bush and later the Tea Party. A lot of that was driven by talk show news. The battlefield now is in the studio of radio and talk television. You can't go to the Jordan River with a Red Sea strategy, and I applaud MSNBC for their strategy."

In a different version of the same thought, Sharpton told Jeff Johnson of

"We're still at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the battlefield now is in the studios of talk radio and talk television. . . . We're in the age of where Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and them have influence..."

That philosophy — going for talk television rather than traditional journalism for its evening lineup — seems to suit MSNBC just fine.

Jeremy M. Gaines, a spokesman for MSNBC, told Journal-isms that Sharpton's ratings are up 18 percent from those of Cenk Uygur, the host Sharpton replaced eight weeks ago. The activist is averaging 649,000 viewers.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin, in announcing Tuesday that Sharpton will be permanent host of "PoliticsNation," said:

I’ve known Rev. Sharpton for over a decade and have tremendous respect for him. He has always been one of our most thoughtful and entertaining guests. I’m thrilled that he’s now reached a point in his career where he’s able to devote himself to hosting a nightly show. ‘PoliticsNation’ is going to be an incredibly strong kick-off to our evening schedule.”

Sharpton fans say they're looking forward to having their man on the battlefield.

"Although some might be critical of the fact that he did not begin his career as a journalist or broadcaster, he possesses an unpretentious straight forward wit and is skilled in the art of destroying Right Wing talking points," Ned Sparks wrote Tuesday on the Daily Kos, citing a Sharpton matchup with guest Ron Christie, Republican strategist and former special assistant to Bush.

Dr. Boyce Watkins, another Sharpton admirer, nevertheless issued a cautionary note on the Huffington Post.

"I do worry about the deep relationship between Sharpton, MSNBC and the Obama Administration. This is not to say that any of these relationships are illegitimate. But one can't help but notice the 'Media Arms Race' taking place between the political right and left. On the right, we have Fox News and Rupert Murdoch's media empire conspiring to control the minds of millions of conservatives. On the left, we have MSNBC, who owns at least two black media outlets ( and There is also the interesting relationship between (owned by the Washington Post), which is run by long-time Obama supporter Henry Louis Gates.

"Corporate America is a capitalistic cannibal: It seeks to devour all things that might either promote or impede its pre-existing financial interest. One has to be concerned when black media outlets and public figures are too closely aligned with the interests that have long been a part of the oppression of African Americans. At the same time, having some access to those who control these entities may be good for the community. But when a field slave was invited into 'Massa's' house 200 years ago, you never knew if the slave was gaining power or if he was conceding power to the master."

Sara Sidner of CNN, surrounded by celebratory gunfire. (Video)

Human Rights Watch Worries About Dark-Skinned Libyans

"As the world watches Moammar Gaddafi’s regime seemingly fall to the hands of rebel forces, talks of a future Libya after 42 years of dictatorship are aplenty," Reniqua Allen wrote Wednesday for "While many are excited about the changes that lie ahead, others worry that the country’s black African migrants may see racism and discrimination flourish.

"Human Rights Watch said it is 'concerned about attacks against dark-skinned Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans in Libya now because many people accuse them of having fought for Gaddafi as mercenaries, even though they are from there or have spent many years in Libya.' "

Meanwhile, "There was a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday when dozens of journalists were freed after five days being . . .  held captive by armed guards loyal to Col. [Moammar Gaddafi] in a Libya hotel," Lucas Shaw wrote for

"Staffers from the BBC, CNN, Fox News, Reuters and even a former U.S. congressman were unable to leave Tripoli's Rixos Hotel after fighting in the Libyan capital began to escalate late last week."

The Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, a former District of Columbia delegate to Congress who was in the hotel, told Raf Sanchez of the London Telegraph, "I came here over a week ago now and have been working on a long term effort to rally the genuine spiritual leaders of the world... to work out a peace agreement."

Lorna Ward of Britain's Sky News, another captive, wrote, "As 'guests', we were in turn hosted and suffocated, welcomed and intimidated, engaged and spied upon, embraced and punched, accommodated and imprisoned.

"The same people were warm, good-mannered and kind one day; contemptuous, rude and violent the next. The pendulum swung in seconds and with little or no warning."

CNN’s Sara Sidner, one of the rare African American women covering a war zone, was garnering her share of praise.

"While reporting live from Tripoli and the fall of the Gaddafi regime, CNN’s Sara Sidner was so close to the gunfire (celebratory or other) that she actually was grazed by a shell while reporting live on television," Colby Hall wrote for mediaite. "Sara Sidner's brave reporting from [Moammar] Gaddafi's compound in Libya is turning heads," Katherine Fung added for the Huffington Post.

"It was the most adrenaline possible pushing through your body,” Sidner told Lois Romano of the Daily Beast. "We didn’t need coffee or Coke or any of those things that we take to keep us going. Just feeling and seeing the excitement of the people and the celebratory blasts of massive gunfire — just keeps you going. I haven’t lost my energy yet."

Oakland Tribune Nameplate to Vanish in Reorganization

The nameplates of the Oakland (Calif.) Tribune and several of its sister newspapers will disappear under a reorganization announced Tuesday by the Bay Area News Group. As many as 40 to 50 newsroom layoffs are expected at the papers, and Tribune Editor Martin G. Reynolds told Journal-isms on Wednesday that his own role had not been determined.

The Martin G. Reynolds Oakland Tribune was owned from 1983 to 1992 by Robert C. and Nancy Maynard, who became the first African Americans to own a major metropolitan daily. But Reynolds noted that the Tribune's nameplate had been changed before. It was simply "the Tribune" in the 1980s and "East Bay Today" with "Oakland Tribune" on the side when it was owned by the Gannett Co. in the early 1980s.

As reported Tuesday, "California’s Bay Area residents are a couple months away from losing many of their local newspapers, as the Bay Area News Group — a division of MediaNews Group — consolidates eleven newspapers, including the Oakland Tribune, into just two: The Times and the East Bay Tribune. In addition, the San Mateo County Times will be consolidated into the Mercury News.

"As of November 2, the Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, San Joaquin Herald, and East County Times will be consolidated into The Times. The Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, Argus and West County Times will be consolidated into the East Bay Tribune. . . .

"In a press release first sent to employees this afternoon, the Bay Area News Group (BANG) referred to the consolidation as 'streamlining.' About 120 employees, out of 1500, will lose their jobs.

"BANG is also launching two new weekly newspapers, the Valley Journal (covering Alamo, Danville and San Ramon) and the Times-Herald (covering Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore and Sunol)."

Under the new arrangement, each newspaper will have a separate, stand-alone local news section, but the section will combine articles from all of the localities, rather than emphasizing news from any one of them.

Reynolds said BANG would try to reduce the number of layoffs by moving employees into more company-owned buildings. Expectations are that 40 to 50 of 250 editorial employees would be laid off, but that number could be smaller, he said. As for his own job, "that is something that is going to be determined as the management structure is defined. I've been assured that I'll have a role, but I'm not sure what that role will be, and I'll look forward to having that role determined and getting to work," Reynolds said.

He added, "I don't think people should get caught up in the name change. I'm still pleased there still is a Tribune."

Dissatisfaction With Comcast Over Diversity Promises

Little more than six months after Federal Communication Commission's approval of the Comcast takeover of NBCUniversal, and three months after Paula Madison retired as NBCUniversal's diversity chief, "some of NBCUniversal's units have come under fire as advocates claim that the company is not honoring promises that helped pave the way for the merger's approval," Greg Braxton wrote Tuesday for the Los Angeles Times.

"KNBC Channel 4, NBCUniversal's Los Angeles station, has been targeted by two Latino journalist groups who say the newsroom is discriminating against Latino anchors. And NBC's upcoming fall schedule shows a marked reversal from last season, when the merger was still pending and the network developed 'Undercovers' as well as other shows with minorities in major roles, such as 'Outlaw,' 'The Event' and 'Outsourced.' Those series were all casualties of low ratings, and the new pilots show few people of color in leading roles.

"Executives at NBCUniversal are scrambling to address the concerns. Craig Robinson, KNBC's president and general manager, who was hired as NBCUniversal chief of diversity a few weeks ago, said he had long been aggressive in hiring minorities, particularly Latinos, in the newsroom. And NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt recently maintained the network was 'embedded in diversity' as it moves into the new season.

"Still, critics say they are waiting to be convinced. Leaders of the National Assn. of Hispanic Journalists and CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California are both adopting a wait-and-see posture toward KNBC. The groups, in two separate letters leaked to the website L.A. Observed, expressed unhappiness over the removal of anchor Ana Garcia from the 6 p.m. news, and the absence of Latino anchors from prime newscasts."

Julio Moran, executive director of CCNMA, told Journal-isms that his main concern, expressed in telephone calls to Robinson, was the absence of prime-time Latino anchors at KNBC. "Craig asked for six months" to address the complaint, Moran said.

AP Reports NYPD Targeting of Ethnic Communities

"In New Brunswick, N.J., a building superintendent opened the door to apartment No. 1076 one balmy Tuesday and discovered an alarming scene: terrorist literature strewn about the table and computer and surveillance equipment set up in the next room," Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman reported Wednesday for the Associated Press.

"The panicked superintendent dialed 911, sending police and the FBI rushing to the building near Rutgers University on the afternoon of June 2, 2009. What they found in that first-floor apartment, however, was not a terrorist hideout but a command center set up by a secret team of New York Police Department intelligence officers.

"From that apartment, about an hour outside the department's jurisdiction, the NYPD had been staging undercover operations and conducting surveillance throughout New Jersey. Neither the FBI nor the local police had any idea.

"Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NYPD has become one of the country's most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies. A months-long investigation by The Associated Press has revealed that the NYPD operates far outside its borders and targets ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government. And it does so with unprecedented help from the CIA in a partnership that has blurred the bright line between foreign and domestic spying.

"Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which contributes hundreds of millions of dollars each year, is told exactly what's going on."

CBS correspondent Byron Pitts, left, talked with photographer Bob Adelman about rare photographs of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (Video)

CNN, C-SPAN Covering Events Prior to King Dedication

[Aug. 25 update: Because of the threat of Hurricane Irene, organizers announced Thursday night that Sunday's "official Dedication ceremony will be moved to a date yet determined in September or October."]

C-SPAN and CNN Wednesday announced coverage plans for the activities preceding the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on Sunday. "CNN’s chief political correspondent and anchor Candy Crowley, anchor T.J. Holmes and anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien will anchor live coverage . . . Also reporting from the memorial will be D.C.-based correspondent Athena Jones," CNN said.

"Beginning at 6a.m. (ET), Holmes will anchor 'CNN Newsroom' from Washington, D.C. From 9a.m. to 1p.m. (ET), Crowley anchors a special edition of 'State of the Union.' CNN’s coverage of the dedication ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. (ET).

"CNN will broadcast 'Freedom’s Foot Soldiers: A Conversation with T.J. Holmes' Saturday, August 27 at 7:30 p.m. (ET). Holmes exclusively interviews Dr. King’s friends together in the basement of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to reflect on the life of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement then and now. In the very revealing, sometimes emotional interview with Juanita Abernathy, Xernona Clayton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA), Rev. Joseph Lowery and former U.N. Ambassador Dr. Andrew Young, these 'living legends' spoke of Dr. King’s desire to quit the movement and concentrate on writing and preaching, and the message the monument sends.

"On Sunday, August 28 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. (ET), CNN will air the documentary 'MLK: Words That Changed A Nation,' reported by O’Brien. For this documentary, O’Brien interviewed Dr. King’s closest confidants, including Dr. Young, Rep. Lewis, and activist Dorothy Cotton, for their behind-the-scenes insights into many of the historic events of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

". . . Leading up to this historic memorial dedication, CNN will broadcast coverage through the day, entitled 'Building the Dream' beginning Thursday, August 25, with interviews from the witnesses of the assassination of Dr. King; a conversation with the survivors of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing (an attack that killed four girls in Birmingham, Alabama); a sneak peek of the collection being compiled for The National Museum of African American History and Culture; a look at the women behind the Civil Rights Movement; and the personal side of Dr. King from the eyes of his driver and personal assistant Tom Houck."

C-SPAN plans to air the dedication ceremony live at 11 a.m. Eastern time, re-airing at 9 p.m. on C-SPAN and C-SPAN Radio.

At noon Thursday, the network plans to air the Honoring Past, Present Future Pioneers Civil Rights Pioneers Luncheon "in recognition of those who dared to stand with Dr. King, those who dare to stand for the dream today, and those who dare future generations to continue to stand for social justice and equality."

On Friday at noon, C-SPAN plans to telecast the Women Who Dare to Dream Luncheon Honoring Women Civil Rights Leaders, "honoring the women of the Civil Rights Movement whose legacy of strength and dignity continues to inspire hope and special tribute to Coretta Scott King."

On the "CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley" on Wednesday, correspondent Byron Pitts looked at never-before-seen photos of King and talked with Bob Adelman, the photographer who captured some of the most iconic photos of the man he called 'Doc,' CBS News said. Adelman, the only photographer on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, when King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, spent nearly 10 years capturing images of King and graphic scenes of Southern segregation.

Johnson Publishing Hires Execs for Makeup, Digital

"Johnson Publishing Co. LLC brought on two new executives this week as CEO Desiree Rogers keeps up her remake of the Chicago-based publishing and cosmetics company," Lynne Marek reported Tuesday for Crain's Chicago Business.

"Johnson, which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines and also sells cosmetics under its Fashion Fair label, said today that it has hired celebrity makeup artist Sam Fine as creative makeup director to help create products, give in-store appearances and launch his own Sam Fine product line for the company next year. Mr. Fine has worked for celebrities including Jennifer Hudson and Tyra Banks, but he got corporate experience at companies such as Revlon Inc.

"On Monday, Johnson said it hired [Kierna] Mayo as editorial director for Ebony's digital operations. She will work with Ebony Editor-in-Chief Amy DuBois to shape the content of and develop the brand across other platforms."

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 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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Rev Al's New Gig

I have much respect for the Reverend in terms of his activism, and we are BEYOND past due for representation in prime time.......but I think NBC (aka Never Be Color again - RIP 1980s) should have searched a little harder before deciding to go this route. At least they are making a better effort than Caucasian News Network (CNN), Flaunt Our Xenophobia (FOX), Color Belongs Someplace else (CBS), or Anything But Color (ABC).  Has anyone taken a look at some of the previews for fall programming?  Talk about returning to the Bad Old Days......if you are a Person of Color -- watch out.

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