Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

1) Cleveland Anchor Shown Nude During Sweeps

The last time anchor Sharon Reed made national news she was in Philadelphia, having an "Internet smackdown of colleague Alicia Taylor, which allegedly included writing, 'You ever had a street fight, bitch?'" as Philadelphia magazine put it in March 2003.

Reed left there for Cleveland, where she has now been shown nude during sweeps week.

"The former NBC-10 anchor aired a piece Monday about posing nude for artist Spencer Tunick, which WOIO News Director Steve Doerr says earned the highest ratings in station history," wrote Dan Gross in the Philadelphia Daily News.

"Thirty percent of Clevelanders watching TV during the broadcast were watching WOIO.

"'People in Cleveland really, really love Sharon Reed,' says Doerr, who worked as NBC-10's news director from 1993 to '98.

"Doerr says the amount of reaction is stunning and that viewer comments have been positive by a ratio of about 2-to-1.

"FTVLive.com, a TV news Web site, posted several nude Reed stills yesterday and reports registering more new members than on any other day in its history.

"Reed knew the pics would get around. 'I know the images will be around forever. I'm personally comfortable having it out there,' she told us Monday.

"Reed said posing nude was 'about art,' was 'hard to do,' and has changed her life."

She didn't convince everyone. On the National Association of Black Journalists listserve, one viewer said Reed looked apprehensive during the segment and was clearly exploited.

Exploited for ratings, of course. Wrote John Eggerton in Broadcasting & Cable: "The first-person account of Reed's participation was shot back in the summer, but the station was planning to wait until the early fall, when the artist was to release the photo with Reed in it (all women). That timetable got pushed back by artist Spencer Tunick, but the station didn't want to let the sweeps pass without running the story. 'If we are going to do a story that is potentially combustible,' said Doerr, 'we are going to put it on TV when it has to count.'"

2) Some Are Calling This One "Mandingo II"

Meanwhile, "ABC Sports was apologizing Tuesday over a filmed bit on Monday Night Football in which [Nicole] Sheridan, as her vampy Desperate Housewives character, removed a towel and showed off her assets to Philadelphia Eagles star Terrell Owens in the locker room," as Joel Ryan of the Eonline Web site writes.

"The segment, aired at the beginning of the broadcast seen at 9 p.m. on the East Coast, and even earlier in other time zones, closed with the ostensibly naked Sheridan leaping into Owens' arms, and the ostensibly distracted Owens vowing to sit out the game. ('Aw, hell, the team's going to have to win without me,' said a thespian-challenged Owens.)

"Unlike [Janet] Jackson, whose wardrobe malfunction prompted a Super Bowl-sized controversy, Sheridan didn't flash the camera -- only her bare back was shown on screen. But enough flesh was bared to leave ABC red-faced.

"'The placement of last night's Monday Night Football opening segment was inappropriate. We apologize,' ABC Sports said Tuesday.

On the NABJ list, sports journalist Cecil Harris asked, "Is the sight of a naked middle-aged white woman jumping into the arms of a virile young black man really supposed to ensure that men will watch 'Desperate Housewives' this Sunday at 9, 8 Central and Mountain time, on ABC instead of the ESPN Sunday night game?

"And does Owens so crave the spotlight that he would perpetuate the odious stereotype of the sex-crazed black male who can't get enough white meat, even before a big game when his teammates are depending on him?"

3) Stabbing at Vibe Magazine Award Show

"Santa Monica police named a young rap entertainer Tuesday as the suspect in a stabbing during a melee at the Vibe music awards," Wendy Thermos and Geoff Boucher report in the Los Angeles Times.

"David Darnell Brown, 23, was sought in the attack Monday night on Jimmy James Johnson, 26, of Los Angeles, who remained in stable condition Tuesday, police said.

"Brown is better known to rap fans as Young Buck, a member of the G Unit, a rap collective that has been among the hottest names in pop music. In August, he stepped from the G Unit ranks to release his own album.

"Police said chaos erupted at the hip-hop ceremony in a hangar at Santa Monica Airport after Johnson approached rap pioneer Dr. Dre at a front table, asked for an autograph and then punched him in the face."

Vibe magazine spokeswomen did not return calls from Journal-isms yesterday or today.

However, EURWeb.com, describing the scene, reported that, "To appease the journalists, UPN sent back [to the press tent] the president of 'Vibe,' Kenard Gibbs, to give a statement about the disruption.

'There was a disturbance within the venue,' he said. 'Nothing major, but it very quickly erupted into various people moving. We were able to contain the individual who was responsible for causing this disruption, we had him removed from the venue. We did go blank on the monitors until we got things under control.'

"After a half-hour delay, the show started up again, picking up with Snoop [Dogg] and Quincy [Jones] back at the podium -- AS IF NOTHING HAPPENED."

4) "La Cucaracha" Pulled Over Words "Queer Eye"

The Detroit Free Press pulled Lalo Alcaraz's "La Cucaracha" comic strip because it used the words "queer eye," a phrase that the Free Press audience "isn't hip enough to understand" is a reference to the cable show, "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," an editor tells Journal-isms.

Moreover, "we are taking a look at the long-term future of the strip. I'm not sure that's going to make it," said John Smyntek, special features and syndicate editor at the paper.

Alcaraz draws the strip for the Universal Press Syndicate, starting it two years ago after finding a limited audience for his editorial cartoons, as reported at the time.

"I wanted to create a realistic portrait of young Latinos where it is normal to be bicultural," Alcaraz said then, "how they interplay, how they all relate with each other in day-to-day life."

In Tuesday's strip, one character says, "President Bush says it's time for Americans to unite . . . "We must come together as a country" . . . "just keep me away from those queer eye, city livin' atheists."

"It's a word we don't usually use," Smyntek told Journal-isms, speaking of the word "queer." He later acknowledged that the show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" has been mentioned by name in dozens of Free Press stories, but he said its audience is small and that "our audience isn't hip enough to understand that" reference.

"Many comic strip artists are frustrated editorial cartoonists," Smyntek added. He said the paper does not run Aaron McGruder's "The Boondocks" but does carry Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury," though a recent panel was pulled that had Vice President Cheney using the letter "f" followed by three dashes.

About 100 daily and Sunday newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Houston Chronicle and Chicago Sun-Times, carry "La Cucaracha," syndicate spokeswoman Kathie Kerr told Journal-isms today. She said the syndicate knew of no other papers that had pulled that day's strip.

Precedent Feared in Arrest of Raleigh Reporter

Demorris Lee, the Raleigh News & Observer reporter arrested Sunday after a woman he was trying to interview charged him with making harassing phone calls, has been publicly backed by the National Association of Black Journalists and the N&O editorial page.

"This is a disturbing incident, first because the arrest warrant was obtained so easily, and second because it could set a precedent for getting a reporter off a story simply by having him or her arrested on harassment charges," the paper said in an editorial today.

"By all accounts, Demorris was just doing his job as a journalist," said NABJ President Herbert Lowe, a courts reporter at Newsday, in an NABJ statement. "For the magistrate and police to crack down on a journalist for doing basic, fair reporting is unheard of -- and simply unacceptable."

"NABJ calls on the presiding Superior Court judge in Wake County to immediately dismiss all charges against Lee and remove any stain from his record, Lowe said. . . . Furthermore, the president said, the national organization calls on the state attorney general's office to immediately initiate a full-scale, independent investigation into the actions of the Durham Police Department and Wake County magistrate's office."

Is Sally Hemings Smiling About Condi?

It was a reference filled with irony and recollection of the exploitation of black women when the country was founded.

The New York Times noted Condoleezza Rice's nomination as secretary of state by saying it "would make her the first black woman to take a job first held by Thomas Jefferson."

The third president was, of course, a slave owner whose descendants denied for decades the notion that he could have fathered black children via his slave mistress, Sally Hemings.

Others took the occasion of the nomination to discuss Rice's childhood and to recall her speeches to the National Association of Black Journalists.

"A hint at . . . her vision of the world may have been revealed in a 1991 speech to the National Association of Black Journalists, in which she lauded the elder Bush administration's domestic policies to say America, despite its shortcomings, was the best country to be 'a minority in,'" editorial page editor Robin Washington wrote for the paper in a Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune editorial today.

"Perhaps it was a simple misstatement from a bygone era, but if uttered by the nation's top diplomat, such faux pas can be costly," it continued, noting that the whites in South Africa and the Sunnis in Iraq weren't doing too badly when Rice spoke.

(The NABJ member who introduced Rice at the 1991 convention, Sheila Stainback was a guest Saturday at a surprise 50th birthday party for Rice, the New York Post's Page Six reported today.)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a piece by Drew Jubera and Gayle White from Birmingham, Ala., headlined, "Childhood pals full of pride over Rice."

But the definitive piece on Rice's growing up no doubt remains one by Dale Russakoff that ran Sept. 9, 2001, in the Washington Post Magazine. Russakoff is white and grew up in a Birmingham suburb at the same time.

The piece drew observations that Rice failed to understand the racial dynamics operating during her formative years.

"In her own family, she says," Russakoff wrote, "liberation came not through a movement but from generations of ancestors navigating oppression with individual will, wits and, eventually, wallets -- long before [Martin Luther] King or the federal government took up the cause. It is one of her frustrations, she says, that people routinely assume she was beaten down or deprived as a child until the civil rights movement arrived. 'My family is third-generation college-educated,' she says with proud defiance. 'I should've gotten to where I am.'"

"The national security adviser seems not to have noticed that until the passage of federal civil rights legislation, her family had virtually no success at all in voting for the political candidates of their choice, or in obtaining education, employment or housing outside limits narrowly defined by Alabama's white power structure," wrote letter writer Gilbert Johnson of Bethesda, Md.

NPR Finds Abuse of Immigrant Detainees

"NPR will present an in-depth, two-part special investigative report uncovering cases of abuse of immigrant detainees who have been held in US jails and prisons overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. The reports will air on Wednesday and Thursday, November 17 and 18 on NPR's All Things Considered," according to a news release from National Public Radio.

"Since Congress revamped immigration laws in the 1990's, hundreds of thousands of non-citizens who have ever committed a crime have been rounded up and detained in jail for months or years waiting for deportation. NPR's investigation reveals that some of these detainees have been held in brutal conditions: guards have allegedly beat them and deliberately terrorized them with dogs, even ordering the dogs to attack.

"NPR correspondent Daniel Zwerdling, who has spent the last five months investigating cases of abuse, looks at two jails in New Jersey where attacks have taken place."

The NPR Web site says audio for the program will be available at about 10 p.m. Eastern Time, 7 p.m. Pacific.

Media Accused of Downplaying Election Fraud

"With some media outlets moving swiftly to debunk the notion that the election had been stolen by the Republicans, the press itself has come under scrutiny, accused of everything from a conspiracy of silence to a collective passivity about pursuing voting irregularities," says media writer Mark Jurkowitz in the Boston Globe.

"'The mainstream media is not treating this as an important story overall,' said Steve Rendall, senior analyst at the liberal media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. 'The mainstream media has largely treated the story as some crazy Internet story.' At the same time, Rendall acknowledged: 'There has been excess in the way stuff has flown around the Internet and e-mail lists.'"

Gonzales Seen as Unresponsive on Press Access

"Reporters and editors shouldn't expect Alberto Gonzales -- named by President Bush [Nov. 10] as the nominee to succeed outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft -- to be very responsive to press demands for access, given comments he made to a group of editors just two years ago," Joe Strupp wrote in Editor & Publisher.

". . . Speaking then to the Associated Press Managing Editors conference in Baltimore, Gonzales, who held his current White House counsel post at the time, made it clear that the administration would not bend over backward to give journalists government information.

"'You have a right to know what is going on in government,' Gonzales said at the time. "But we also believe such rights are not absolute.'"

On Monday, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press released a detailed evaluation of Gonzales "on Press Freedoms and the Public's Right to Know."

Schwarzenegger Writes Column for Ethnic Media

"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a history of using alternatives to mainstream media to get his message out -- but he's now breaking new ground by writing a monthly column for exclusive distribution by ethnic news organizations," reports Aurelio Rojas today in California's Sacramento Bee.

"The column is translated into multiple languages by New California Media, an association of more than 700 ethnic news outlets."

Talker Suspended Over "Wetback" Back on Radio

"Mark Belling returned to his afternoon radio talk show Monday with a 'Buenos dias,' after a weeklong hiatus sparked by reaction to his use of an ethnic slur to refer to illegal Mexican immigrants," Georgia Pabst reports in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

"He did not immediately address the controversy that led to his suspension, but did tell a joke in which the punch line was Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter. He said the joke was aimed at testing how long a leash he will now have at his station, WISN-AM (1130). He also joked that he would welcome pickets at the station if they were waitresses from Hooters."

Reporters Join Jamaica Panel on Anti-Gay Lyrics

"Jamaican, Caribbean and international journalists along with representatives of businesses ranging from tourism to music" plan to discuss reggae lyrics said to incite violence against gays. The occasion is the first Caribbean Media Exchange one-day workshop, dubbed CMExPress, Friday in Kingston, Jamaica, according to a news release.

"A report released today in Jamaica by Human Rights Watch says widespread violence and discrimination against gay men and people living with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica is undermining government measures to combat the country's fast-growing epidemic.

A session titled 'Lyrical Threats to Brand Jamaica: Artiste and Activist" is to feature "veteran New York journalist Curtis Stephen of New York Newsday, and Rebecca Schleifer of Human Rights Watch. The session will be facilitated by local public relations expert Marcia Erskine, and Emmy-award winning journalist and PR executive, Gail Moaney of Ruder Finn in New York, representatives of the Jamaica Tourist Board. Former CNN News Anchor, Andria Hall, is also on the lineup for the discussion," the release says.

N.Y. Times' Kristof Is Interactive on Darfur Story

In what the Nieman Watchdog site calls "a stunning interactive presentation," Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist who has been in the forefront in writing about the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, brings home to viewers the plight of Darfur genocide survivors.

Check it out at: http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/opinion/20041020_DARFUR_FEATURE/

MTV Launching Music Channel in Africa

"Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks will next year launch its first local channel in Africa, the final global outpost for the music video and kids' broadcaster and its 100th channel worldwide," Jeffrey Goldfarb reports from London for Reuters.

"MTV Base in Africa will reach only about 1.3 million homes in 48 countries, primarily in South Africa and Nigeria, when it begins broadcasting in February, but follows MTV's pattern of setting up local infrastructure before expanding."

"Hate Media" Inciting Ivory Coast Violence

"It would be easy to think that the last few days of anti-white violence, and explosive protests throughout the streets of Abidjan, have been the product of chaos," reports the BBC, referring to news from the Ivory Coast.

"Yet there is strong evidence to suggest that the supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo, who reacted so strongly to the French destruction of the Ivorian air force near the beginning of this latest crisis, have been receiving firm orders on how to behave.

"National television and radio has been broadcasting fervent, not to say feverish, messages calling on people to take to the streets.

"On occasions, the messages have strayed from the motivational to the incendiary.

"United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan demanded what he called 'hate media' be stopped immediately."

Meanwhile, Reporters sans Frontiï¿œres posted a news release Friday announcing that a journalist had been killed in the violence.

Antoine Massᅵ, a local correspondent for Le Courrier d'Abidjan, a privately owned daily that supports Gbagbo, was fatally shot as he covered a demonstration aimed at blocking the eastward advance of French troops, the organization said.

Media Consolidation Critic Reappointed to FCC

"The White House is asking the U.S. Senate to reappoint Rapid City native Jonathan Adelstein to the Federal Communications Commission," Dirk Lammers reports for the Associated Press in South Dakota.

"Some thought Adelstein's chances for a full FCC term went down with Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle's loss to John Thune in the Nov. 2 election."

Adelstein, 42, a Democrat and a former Daschle staffer, stood with Commissioner Michael Copps in voting against relaxing media ownership rules.

In another appointment, Ernest J. Wilson III, associate professor in the departments of government and politics, and African American studies, at the University of Maryland-College Park, was named to the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds more than 1,000 locally operated public radio and public television stations.

Mexican Paper Sues Belo Corp. for Libel

"A Juarez, Mexico, daily newspaper -- with big ambitions to publish across the border in El Paso, Texas, starting early next year -- is suing Belo Corporation for libel and business disparagement, claiming a story about the paper this summer in The Dallas Morning News was a direct attack on its credibility among Americans," Mark Fitzgerald reports in Editor & Publisher.

". . . The lawsuit complains the article by Alfredo Corchado and Laurence Iliff attacks the editorial credibility and independence of El Diario by describing its news coverage as 'portraying a phony, chamber-of-commerce-type image of Juarez, all to ensure lucrative newspaper advertising from the state and local governments, reminiscent of recent times when media was heavily influenced by government.'"

'Honeymooners' Gets Black Cast for Film Version

Jackie Gleason's classic 1950s sitcom "The Honeymooners" is being made into a film with an black cast, David Carr reports today in the New York Times.

Cedric the Entertainer plays Gleason's Ralph Kramden and Mike Epps, "one of the princes of black comedy," plays Art Carney's Ed Norton character.

And that's perfectly appropriate, Carr writes.

"At a time when the best rapper in the world may be a white guy and the best golfer in the world may be a black guy, it should not be surprising that the roles of two men who think their middle-class aspirations are just one caper away from fulfillment are black.

"Black life, which has been rendered by the movies in cartoonish ways -- no more or less than thugs and sports stars -- is, in the main, a working-class struggle. So while the original 'Honeymooners' opened a window for many 1950's Americans on the 'real' New York -- a tough palooka of a city with a heart of gold where people struggled not to get over, but to get by -- Paramount's new version catches up to the ways that the city has changed, while at the same time, underscoring the fact that the struggle is held in common by all sorts of people.

". . . The film also promises to become a milestone in a process that is slowly prying some of the strongest black film talents out of a cinematic urban ghetto and bringing them into the mainstream."

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 BugMeNot.com 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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