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Sleeping in Cars While Covering Chile Quake

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Getting to the Story Presents Its Own Obstacles

Globe Sports Department Becomes One of Most Diverse

Century-Old Japanese-American Paper Bleeding Red Ink

Italian Vogue Creates 3 Sites Featuring Blacks

2nd Olympics Week Even Less Popular With Blacks

NBC and Comcast Woo African Americans, Hispanics

Hispanic Magazines Could Benefit More From Recovery

Sportswriter Sees Black History in the Mirror

Short Takes

Soldiers apprehend two suspected looters who were inside a wrecked pharmacy near the city center in Concepcion, Chile. The city suffered heavy damage in Saturday's magnitude 8.8 earthquake. (Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez/Los Angeles Times)

Getting to the Story Presents Its Own Obstacles

It's unanimous: "If you can't get there," wrote the Los Angeles Times' Patrick J. McDonnell, "what difference does it make how good the story is, or was?"

Michael Robinson Chavez, left; Patrick McDonnell McDonnell described for readers Tuesday how he and photographer Michael Robinson Chavez tried to reach the Chile earthquake zone from Los Angeles, their success heavily dependent on "the traditional tools of charm, cajoling and even flashing some greenbacks," which this time did not seem to work.

Logistical problems did not stop at the scene of Saturday's 8.0 magnitude quake, as CNN's Sara Sidner recounted on that network's Web site.

"Our entire CNN crew for example photographers, correspondents, producers all of us jammed into cars to sleep overnight," she wrote on Tuesday from Concepcion, Chile.

"We were not alone. An entire street was filled with cars doubling as beds, although a couple of local crews had tents.

"The only other option was to sleep on the hard concrete outside the collapsed apartment complex where we were all set up waiting for word on any possible survivors.

"We worked so late into the night in and around the city of Concepcion that because of the curfew we couldn't leave our area.

"Even if we could leave, the apartment where our CNN crews were planning to stay looked unstable and no one dared sleep in hotels that were several stories high after what we'd seen and felt so far.

"Instead we opted to wait out the aftershocks in the cars. Through the night they came; some light, others jerked the car from side to side making it feel like someone was giving us a hard shove in [a] rocking chair.

"On day four there is still no electricity or running water for residents and as visitors the same goes for us."

John Yearwood, world editor of the Miami Herald, third from right, meets in Haiti with Haitian and American journalists on behalf of the National Association of Black Journalists. (Courtesy John Yearwood)John Yearwood, world editor of the Miami Herald, was on his way to Haiti when he heard news of the latest quake. "I was directing coverage in Haiti and in Chile as I flew from here to there, and then (while) driving around Haiti," he told Journal-isms.

Reporter Frances Robles stayed in Miami, working with four or five stringers, all trying to get to Chile from elsewhere in South America. Some filed stories along the way, Yearwood said, as they drove through small villages also rocked by the quake.

Yearwood was in Haiti to set up space for rotating Herald reporters. Yearwood is also co-chair of the World Affairs Task Force of the National Association of Black Journalists, and in that capacity he also met with Haitian journalists.

Elsewhere, the L.A. Times team was getting anxious, as McDonnell described it. "Desperate, we jumped on a flight to Tacna, Peru, on the border with Chile. From there we could cross the border into Chile in a taxi, and see if there was a plane going south from Arica, the Chilean border city. It didn't seem very promising. We'd heard that no one was flying in Chile. Most likely, we'd end up having to take a 30-hour road trip through the Atacama desert, drier than the Sahara, they say, before even arriving in Santiago - still hundreds of miles of bad roads away from the earthquake zone.

" . . . The border crossing was painless enough, and we found a genial taxi man, Andres, who knew how to cut corners. But the relentlessly harsh light and the gloomy milieu brought back memories of the Jordan-Iraq border crossing, a sinister place I had negotiated many times. This didn't seem promising. The airport at Arica, on the Chilean side, looked like it had been left over from the dawn of aviation, preserved somehow in the dry heat. Missing were any sign of aircraft, or people.

"We trudged into the terminal, sure that this was an exercise in futility. All the LAN [Airlines] counters were closed. But we noticed a few folks huddled at a side counter of Sky Airline, a regional carrier. We ambled up to the counter. A woman, apparently a passenger, passed by carrying a boarding pass for . . . Santiago!

"Outside, beyond our view, an old Boeing workhorse was getting ready to take wing south to the Chilean capital. Yes, the woman at the counter said, there might be room for two more. Remarkably, completely unexpectedly, it all turned out to be true. Ten minutes later - a stop for a soft drink or a cigarette - and we would have missed this unscheduled flight, our deliverance, the freedom bird, as my colleague christened it. We boarded a near-full flight that was making final preparations to take off. It was like stepping into some alternate reality zone. Once aloft, we watched the narrow ribbon of an endless road south that we had fortuitously avoided. We were in Santiago in three hours.

"It was time to start covering the devastation of the earthquake and a tsunami that followed, wreaking havoc.

"More logistical challenges lay ahead."

Globe Sports Department Becomes One of Most Diverse

Gregory Lee, left, and Joseph SullivanThe Boston Globe hired Shalise Manza Young of the Providence (R.I.) Journal on Wednesday as its new beat reporter covering the NFL's New England Patriots.

"So today I am very proud of being in one [of] the most diverse sports departments in the nation," Gregory Lee Jr., the Globe's senior assistant sports editor, told colleagues in the Sports Task Force of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Young was hired to partner with another black woman, Monique Walker, on the beat. Online columnist Chris Gasper, another black journalist, also reports heavily on the Patriots.

"I will give my boss, Joe Sullivan, props for having the commitment to diversity on our staff," Lee said. But Sullivan, assistant manager for sports, turned it around: "I will give him credit for that," he told Journal-isms, speaking of Lee. "We're a team." Diversity, he said "is one of our goals as a group." By that, he meant the New York Times Newspaper Group as well as the Globe sports department, he said.

"You need a cross section of people to produce the best section you can," Sullivan added. Not just diversity of race, but of gender, skills and expertise.

Lee wrote to his colleagues, "Since I have been here in Nov. 2004 we have hired:

"Jerome Solomon (now at Houston Chronicle), Monique Walker, Fluto Shinzawa (Asian), Marc Spears (now at Yahoo), Julian Benbow (who started as summer intern, who was recently promoted to Celtics beat reporter), Gary Washburn. Chris Gasper was given the opportunity to grow from high schools reporter to now online columnist. We also hired as an intern SJI alum Baxter Holmes (A native american who was recently given a promotion at the LA Times from . . . its Metpro program) and this summer we will have Nate Taylor (SJI alum) to intern with us this summer," referring to the Sports Journalism Institute, a nine-week training and internship program.

"Already on staff we have an Hispanic male and two sisters on the desk," he added, referring to reporter Mike Vega and copy editors Cheryl Charles and Bonnie Foust. "Who else has that?" Sullivan told Journal-isms, speaking of the two black women.

The diversity in the Globe sports department contrasts sharply with most others. A 2008 report on the diversity at newspaper sports departments and sports Web sites showed that "94 percent of the sports editors, 89 percent of the assistant sports editors, 88 percent of our columnists, 87 percent of our reporters and 89 percent of our copy editors/designers are white, and those same positions are 94, 90, 94, 91 and 84 percent male."

The survey was performed for the Associated Press Sports Editors by Richard Lapchick and his Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

Century-Old Japanese-American Paper Bleeding Red Ink

"Even as Japanese Americans have become one of the nation's most educated and affluent ethnic groups, their sole remaining daily newspaper is in crisis," Teresa Watanabe reported Monday for the Los Angeles Times.

Circulation of the Rafu Shimpo, which has covered Japanese Americans for more than a century, "is down to 11,000, half its peak in the late 1980s. The paper is hemorrhaging red ink with more than $500,000 in debt and a monthly deficit of $7,000," according to Mickey Komai, the family's third Rafu publisher.

"Komai said the paper is in its greatest peril since World War II shut it down for four years starting in 1942.

"'If we don't improve, either someone else will have to take it over or we'll have to close,' said Komai, 57. 'You can't keep running a money-losing operation.'

"As word of the paper's mounting problems circulate, the community has launched its first-ever campaign to sound the alarm and drum up support. Nearly 100 people recently flocked to Gardena for a 'Save the Rafu' town hall meeting to brainstorm ways to improve content, stabilize finances and attract younger readers."

This photo by Steven Meisel is from Vogue Italia of July 2008. Both Vogue Black and Vogue Curvy feature articles from previous issues of Italian Vogue as well as original content.

Italian Vogue Creates 3 Sites Featuring Blacks

"Vogue Italia recently launched a trio of Web sites — two of which seem to have a goal of filling in some of the widest gaps in the fashion industry: the lack of images and articles depicting African-Americans and women with fuller figures," Chandra Johnson-Greene wrote Tuesday for Folio magazine.

"Vogue Black, Vogue Curvy and Vogue Talents, which casts a spotlight on up-and-coming fashion designers, went live last week with little or no promotion, at least stateside. Fashion and beauty bloggers, however, have had a lot to say.

"Both Vogue Black and Vogue Curvy feature a mix of articles from previous issues of Italian Vogue as well as original content segmented into channels such as 'Seen in Vogue,' 'Spotlight On,' and 'Look of the Day' (or in Vogue Curvy’s case 'Daily Suggestions.') The sites also feature blog posts and videos.

"The magazine’s creative team, at least for now, has chosen to focus more on style than substance. The interviews with Tyra Banks and Grace Jones on Vogue Black, for example, were somewhat buried by large high fashion shots of the two former models, but that seems to be the running theme on Italian Vogue’s Web site anyway."

2nd Olympics Week Even Less Popular With Blacks

Vonetta Flowers The second week of the Winter Olympics proved even less popular among African Americans than the first, when only one night of the seven ranked in the top 25 television choices made by African Americans, according to the Nielsen Co.'s People Meters.

For the week ending Sunday, only Tuesday's primetime coverage ranked among black viewers' top 25 choices — and came in at No. 25, according to Nielsen figures made available to Journal-isms. During the first week, the one night that attracted blacks was ranked No. 18.

By contrast, among Hispanic viewers, prime time Olympics coverage for the second week made up six of the top 10 English-language broadcast programs.

Seattle Times sports columnist Jerry Brewer, who covered the Vancouver games, made note of the antipathy among African Americans in his Sunday column and explained why he felt differently:

"Eight years ago, I realized why the Olympics captivate me," Brewer wrote. "It happened on a bobsled course in Park City, Utah, when Vonetta Flowers, a former track-and-field athlete from Alabama, won a gold medal in an event she barely knew existed as a child.

"Flowers claimed victory in the two-woman bobsled with driver Jill Bakken and became the first African American to win gold in the Cold Weather Games. She almost caused a flash-food warning with her tears.

"'I never thought I'd be here,' she said that day.

"It was the enduring memory of the first Olympics that I covered. It reassured me that the Winter Games could be for people like me. This wasn't about overcoming deprivation or racism. It was bigger than that. It was about a woman redefining herself, finding herself, and as a result, African Americans finally joined this multicultural, international event.

"Olympic firsts inspire me. They're like adding babies to a family. In these Vancouver Games, we watched the first Winter Olympian from Ghana and the first from Peru. We watched the first black ice-skating pair. We watched the first Korean win a figure-skating gold medal, the first U.S. team to win a nordic combined gold and, as narrowly defined as it sounds, the first Canadian to win gold on home soil.

"It's so profound to see someone we can relate to on this stage.

"Which is why seeing Flowers eight years ago uplifted me. And why, random jokes aside, it's wonderful that of the three of us you find here on any given day, I'm one of those. . . ," he said, speaking in jest of the number of black people one was likely to find.

Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal president and CEO, left; David Wilson, founder and managing editor of; Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, and Steve Capus, president of NBC News, at a breakfast Tuesday after Morial's "Today" appearance. (Credit: NBC)

NBC and Comcast Woo African Americans, Hispanics

"Hispanic civil rights and advocacy groups met in Philadelphia yesterday with top executives at Comcast Corp. and NBC Universal Inc. to discuss Hispanic media issues related to the proposed $30 billion merger of the cable company and the entertainment giant," Bob Fernandez reported Tuesday for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"The meeting was part of the full-court press by Comcast and NBC to court favor with special-interest groups that might oppose the merger in Congress and at the Federal Communications Commission.

"Sources in the Hispanic advocacy community said that among the groups represented were the National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility.

"Corporate executives present were Comcast chief executive officer Brian Roberts, NBCU president Jeff Zucker, Comcast executive vice president David Cohen, Comcast vice president Susan Gonzales, and NBCU chief diversity officer Paula Madison."

The next day, Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, was on NBC's "Today" show to kick off the Urban League's centennial celebration and its "I Am Empowered" campaign, which sets goals in education, employment, housing and health care to be reached by 2025.

After the broadcast, NBC News and, an African American-oriented Web site owned by NBC, hosted a breakfast for Morial and Urban League members.

At a Capitol Hill hearing on the merger last week, black and Hispanic members of Congress scolded NBC and Comcast about insufficient diversity on their boards and on NBC programs, including "Meet the Press." Morial became a guest on the program on Sunday.

Hispanic Magazines Could Benefit More From Recovery

When ad spending begins to recover, Hispanic magazines "will fare better than their general-market counterparts," according to Carlos Pelay, founder of Media Economics Group, a research company that tracks advertising in Hispanic media,

One reason, Pelay told Diego Vasquez of Media Life Magazine on Wednesday, is that "this is a census year, which will bring additional attention to the size, growth, dispersion and hence opportunity in the Hispanic market.

"While I do not think the Hispanic print market is immune to long-term systemic declines in readership, a buffering force will be the absence of over-saturation in the Hispanic market, whereas the general market is arguably over-saturated with titles," he added.

"There are segments like men and health, for instance, which are very much underserved and where opportunities may still exist when the advertising environment becomes more supportive."

Advertising revenue for 2009 was down even more for Hispanic publications than for those targeting the general market, minus 34 percent contrasted with minus 17.8 percent, Vasquez said.

One reason "was the closure of Selecciones," the Readers Digest product and "one of the largest titles in terms of ad revenue, and another was the somewhat higher reliance on the automotive category in the Hispanic segment.

"However, the main reason for the more severe revenue swings among Hispanic titles is that ad revenue in Hispanic magazines is concentrated in the largest titles, and much more so than ad pages, since the largest titles ‚Äî Latina, People en Espa?±ol, and Siempre Mujer, for example ‚Äî command much higher page rates.

". . . the largest magazines ‚Äî like Latina, People en Espa?±ol, Siempre Mujer, and Ser Padres ‚Äî have suffered double-digit declines . . . Virtually every title was in the red in 2009."

Sportswriter Sees Black History in the Mirror

Terence MooreAs Black History Month wound down, sportswriter Terence Moore reminded readers that contemporary black journalists are also part of black history, and used himself and his family as an example.

"In many ways, when it comes to the combination of February and sports journalism, I am Black History Month in the flesh. It starts with Samuel and Annie Moore, my parents, who are exactly the same," Moore wrote for AOL Fanhouse.

". . . In Milwaukee, where I spent my junior and senior years of high school, I was the first African-American to play on the football and baseball teams -- both city powers at the time -- and I was the first to join the school newspaper. I eventually became the editor, which also was a first for an African-American, of course.

". . . Miami (Ohio) University has the oldest college newspaper in the country, and on my first day on campus, I became its first African-American writer. During my junior year, I became the sports editor, which made me the newspaper's first African-American editor of any kind.

"A week after I graduated from Miami University in May of 1978, I was hired at the Cincinnati Enquirer as its first African-American sportswriter and as only its second full-time African-American reporter overall, and the Enquirer was founded in 1840. The summer before that, I was the paper's first African-American intern ever.

"After I left the Enquirer in January 1980, I became the first African-American sportswriter for the San Francisco Examiner, the paper of William Randolph Hearst, Mark Twain and Jack London. At the Examiner, I also became the first African-American to cover an NFL team on a regular basis for a major newspaper when I was given the Oakland Raiders beat. I also became the third African-American ever to write a sports column on a regular basis for a major newspaper when the Examiner promoted me in the summer 1983."

The point, Moore wrote, is that "I never thought along my wonderful journey that I couldn't do these things, or that I shouldn't do these things. For inspiration, all I had to do was look to my parents, and then to my brothers, and then to our pasts — where we consciously and subconsciously spent more time than not living the words from a 1960s song by the Impressions, one of our favorite groups as a family.

"Keep on Pushing."

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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