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Speculation on Soledad's Fate

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New CNN President Plans to Replace Morning Show

Famuan Reappears With J-Director's Blast at Critics

Univision Viewers' Immigration Concern: Deportation

Black-Press Chief Says Obama Campaign Retaliated

Network Story Count Favored Romney Over Obama

Cartoonist Denies "Mallard Fillmore" Racism

Interviewing Prisoners of War Can Add to Their Abuse

War Pushes Mali Far Down on Press-Freedom List

Short Takes

Soledad O'Brien anchored "Starting Point" as it debuted at 7 a.m. on Jan. 2, 201

New CNN President Plans to Replace Morning Show

"The announcement that CNN is totally revamping its morning show and scrapping Soledad O'Brien's 'Starting Point' has sent shivers through her staff," Betsy Rothstein wrote Wednesday for FishbowlDC.

"Insiders tell us Executive VP Ken Jautz and VP Bart Feder addressed the staff after the show went off the air today. Suffice it to say, the era of Jeff Zucker is underway.

"In a nutshell, the execs said they have no answers for the staff and were unable to address most of their questions. Members of the staff were assured their jobs were safe, but one veteran of the changing show carousel at CNN says they would be naive to believe that.

" 'Every single one of these people should be preparing their resumes and trying to get out of that building as fast as possible,' a network insider told FishbowlDC, explaining that staffers are worried for their jobs. The prevailing feeling is that O'Brien, who previously worked with Zucker at NBC, will end up in another role.

"For the month of January, 'Starting Point' drew an average of 264,000 viewers. MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' drew 468,000 and FNC's 'Fox & Friends' drew 1.07 million. 'Morning Express' on HLN drew 218,000. The broadcast shows (CBS, ABC, NBC) drew millions more than any of the aforementioned programs. In other words, 'Starting Point' is behind everyone except its sister network HLN, and HLN is getting close.

". . . Many staffers were stunned when Feder constantly complained that the viewership of 'Early Start' and 'Starting Point' was 'too ethnic,' based on the high concentration of minority viewers. This common complaint worked itself up through the company, to CNN's Diversity Committee, and to other staffers, who were mortified that a CNN executive was squabbling over attracting minority viewers.

"For all of the talk that 'Starting Point' has been a failure, CNN execs have few to blame. Phil Kent, CEO of Turner, CNN's parent company, is said to have hated the show and O'Brien in particular. Sources say he routinely ripped the show in the past six months."

Still, "A CNN spokeswoman said in an e-mail Tuesday, 'Soledad is very important to the network, and we're discussing various options with her,' " Brian Stelter reported for the New York Times.

Dylan Byers and Mackenzie Weinger added Tuesday night, "Jeff Zucker promised to change CNN. He's doing so, and fast.

"In the past 24 hours, CNN has poached yet another big name from ABC News, dropped one top executive and seen the departure of three well-known contributors, and announced the launch of a new morning program that, according to network sources, will have ripple effects on the prime-time programming."

". . . On Tuesday, CNN hired Chris Cuomo, the co-anchor of ABC’s '20/20,' to co-host a new morning show. Meanwhile, POLITICO confirmed that political power couple James Carville and Mary Matalin, who have been with the network since the early '90s, will be leaving the network. Conservative commentator and Red State blogger Erick Erickson is also out the door, reportedly en route to Fox News. Most significantly, executive vice president and managing editor Mark Whitaker announced he was stepping down to give Zucker 'his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff.' "

Zucker is not giving interviews, a CNN spokeswoman told Journal-isms, and what is being written is largely speculation, she said. But that speculation does not seem to include people of color.

In Zucker's introductory conference call in November with the nation's media reporters, none of the questions concerned diversity.

Journal-isms posed this question to Zucker afterward through CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson:

"How long does he think it will be before there is a weekday, prime-time anchor of color: African American, Hispanic, Asian American or Native American?"

The answer: "I hope you understand that it would be premature to engage on any programming or talent decisions at this time. I'm sure you gathered that from the call today."

Famuan Reappears With J-Director's Blast at Critics

The Famuan, the student newspaper at Florida A&M University, reappeared as scheduled Wednesday after the school administration ordered a "delay" in publication in mid-January while students received additional training.

Valerie D. White

The edition included a "Letter to the FAMU Community" by Valerie D. White, director of the Division of Journalism, that took to task media coverage of the publication's suspension and criticized the student editor who lost his post during the hiatus and discussed it with reporters. Faculty adviser Andrew Skerritt was "reassigned," not "fired," White said.

White denounced a "flawed saga of untruths" that "has played out on the national stage." Her essay, written in space she said she purchased, was not included in the Famuan's online edition.

"I am amused that so many outsiders think they are equipped to question our decision based solely on one source," White wrote, apparently referring to ousted editor Karl Etters, who told his story to the news media in stories in which the administration declined to comment. "These same outsiders should know that we cannot speak due to the lawsuit, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and privacy concerning personnel matters."

The publication delay was indirectly related to accreditation issues and to drum major Robert Champion's well-publicized hazing death in November 2011. "Investigations revealed many band members were not enrolled in the music course as required. Since then all student organizations on campus have come under more strict requirements," Jennifer Portman reported earlier in the Tallahassee Democrat. The Famuan was one of those organizations.

Moreover, a Dec. 2, 2011, article in the Famuan incorrectly stated that senior Keon Hollis was one of four drum majors suspended in connection with Champion's death. Hollis filed a lawsuit against the newspaper, university and its board of trustees. Etters was not editor at the time the article was published, but new Dean Ann Wead Kimbrough decided that the staff needed more training.

White's article did not answer the chief question raised by such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists and the Student Press Law Center, which have been critical of the decision to "delay" its next issue: why the Famuan could not have continued publication while the students received the training the school said they needed.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of student education records. While White's essay did not clarify its relationship to the Famuan delay, Portman's story said, "The publication postponement comes amid an ongoing review of the journalism school's student media outlets and associated student organizations, which revealed more than 20 of the roughly 100 various group members failed to meet grade-point and enrollment requirements last fall."

Maria Elena Salinas talks to President Obama after his Las Vegas announcement on

Univision Viewers' Immigration Concern: Deportation

The most commonly asked question from Univision viewers who were told that the network planned to interview President Obama was, "Under your plan what would happen to those who already have deportation letters. Also, would parents of U.S.-born children who have been deported be able to come back under your plan?," co-anchor Maria Elena Salinas told Obama Wednesday.

Obama replied, "Well, what I'm going to do is allow the Senate to work on these details. I don't want to, you know, fill in all the blanks. Because otherwise I would have gone ahead and put a bill forward. And then sometimes that creates a dynamic in Congress where if I'm for it, then maybe some people have to be against it.

"I think these are all legitimate questions. I think that over the next several weeks, these next several months, what we'll see is many of these issues will be debated. But the basic principle would be, from my perspective, that somebody who has lived here has been overall a good neighbor … has been somebody who's been law abiding other than the fact that they came here illegally. That have put roots down here. That they should have the capacity to earn citizenship. And we'll have to make a whole range of decisions about individual cases. And we'll have to create a structure to make sure that that works.

"And as I said, we've got to make sure that we streamline the process for legal immigration because so much of the illegal immigration process has resulted because it's so difficult for many people to reunify with their families, and so forth."

Obama also said "he hopes immigration reform can be passed into law by June, but in the meantime he has no plans to halt or slow deportations, despite pleas from advocates," Elise Foley reported for the Huffington Post.

"Obama gave interviews to two Spanish-language outlets, Univision and Telemundo, on Wednesday, the day after he delivered a major speech on immigration reform. He argued that much of the legislative work on the issue is already done, given years of work by a number of members of Congress and his own administration. Now, the struggle is about convincing lawmakers to sign on, he told Telemundo's José Díaz-Balart. . . . "

Black-Press Chief Says Obama Campaign Retaliated

"The Obama campaign got mad and dropped advertising in black newspapers due to [a] letter about its lack of spending in black newspapers, the National Newspaper Publishers Association Chairman Cloves Campbell [Jr.] said," Robert "Rob" Redding reported Wednesday in his Redding News Review.

"The Obama campaign had been asked to spend as much as $20 million with black newspapers, Campbell told this reporter's Redding News Review radio program. The administration only ended up spending about $1 million of its $999 million in advertising budget with black newspapers — compared to President Clinton's estimated $3 million when he was running.

"Campbell said when he wrote a letter called 'Show me the money' the Obama campaign pulling all the money from black newspapers that were not in swing states. . . . "

" 'They told me that I should apologize for writing the article,' he told Redding News Review."

Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee and the campaign official Campbell said he contacted, did not respond to a request from Journal-isms for comment. Campbell argued that the black press was owed the advertising money because of the black community's support of Obama.

Network Story Count Favored Romney Over Obama

"Despite all the critics who complained the news coverage of Campaign 2012 favored President Obama, the new Tyndall Report tells a different story," Mike Cavender wrote last week for the Radio Television Digital News Association.

"Each year, Andrew Tyndall releases his analysis of how the Big Three networks covered the news of the year. Tyndall and his team catalogue every network newscast and [dissect] the coverage into such categories as story content, datelines and correspondents featured.

"On the list of the 20 most-covered stories of the year, Campaign 2012 took the #1 spot — at least as far as Mitt Romney's campaign was concerned. A total of 479 stories were reported about the Romney campaign — divided among ABC, CBS and NBC. Each broadcast about 160 Romney stories.

"But when it came to the Obama re-election effort, that story ranked 12th on the top 20 list, with a total of only 157 stories. . . .

Cartoonist Denies "Mallard Fillmore" Racism

Bruce Tinsley, the cartoonist behind the right-wing strip "Mallard Fillmore," denies that his reference to "the rodent community" on the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday had anything to do with King.

Bruce Tinsley

Barry Saunders, columnist for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., wrote Monday of Tinsley's strip, ". . . The vitriol has increased since Obama's re-election, and it boiled over last week in the strip the day after the nation re-inaugurated him and celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. In that strip, Tinsley compared people who celebrate King's life and legacy to rodents. . . ."

Tinsley replied Wednesday through a spokeswoman for King Features Syndicate. "If this 'journalist' were really interested in the facts, he'd do a little reporting, and find that Mallard often references Squirrel Appreciation Day, January 21," Tinsley's emailed message began. "It just happened to fall on MLK day this year. My daughter's birthday is January 21, and she pointed out to me, years ago, that it's also Squirrel Appreciation Day.

"It's become something of a leitmotif in Mallard for him to get angry emails from 'Squirrel Advocacy Groups' every year, attributing evil motives to his ongoing indifference to their holiday. I do this to parody the actual emails I get from every group imaginable, angry that I've overlooked their particular pet holiday.

" 'Racism' has become the ubiquitous charge of everybody who can't win an argument. (I understand that Mayor Bloomberg's proposed big-soft-drink ban is now being attacked as racist). I challenge anyone to find any instance of actual racism in Mallard, ever."

A Syrian pilot shot down and taken prisoner is interviewed by Al-Jazeera on Oct.

Interviewing Prisoners of War Can Add to Their Abuse

"A small number of journalists reporting from Syria have recently interviewed prisoners of war under highly coercive circumstances. In doing so, they have ignored the protections that are due to prisoners under international humanitarian law, or IHL," Dan Saxon, a former senior prosecutor at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, wrote Tuesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"These interviews raise important questions regarding the responsibilities of journalists in armed conflict. To what extent should journalists be expected to understand the principles and obligations of IHL? To what extent should reporters, editors, and publishers apply these principles to their work? Finally (and most complex), how should journalists balance the tensions between the public interest in the free dissemination of information and the protections accorded prisoners of war and other detainees in an armed conflict?' . . ."

Saxon argues that the international media in Syria have not always properly balanced the tensions between the right to impart and receive information and the protections to be accorded prisoners of war, "resulting in exploitation and abuse of prisoners of war.

" . . . such broadcasts by major media outlets may encourage media-savvy belligerents holding prisoners to mount more propaganda exercises using exploited detainees. . . . "

War Pushes Mali Far Down on Press-Freedom List

"Mali has plummeted in Reporters Without Borders' annual press freedom index," the press-freedom organization reported Wednesday. "An African front-runner for years, Mali is now languishing in the bottom half of the table. The usual suspects bookended the index.

"Conflict-ridden Mali used to be an African high-flyer in Reporters Without Borders' annual World Press Freedom Index.

"As the country's civil war intensified in 2012, however, press freedom nosedived — with the global watchdog relegating the west-African country from 25th position in 2011 down to 99th position. . . ."

For its annual listing, "Reporters Without Borders factors in issues including access to information, reprisals, violence against journalists, variety of media, legislations pertaining to journalism, internet access and censorship when compiling its annual barometer."

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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CNN & Diversity

The CNN's new management must be compelled to augment its programming with Black themes and talent in front of the camera and behind the camera. Revealing as well is now racists seek to indict those who reject racist media coverage as being racists. The Millard Fillmore cartoon was not only racist but offensive and the excuses offered up are just that excuses.

Keep up


I like reading your work. The inside look at this CNN shakeup --- morning audience is too ethnic --- is classic.  I don't think anybody else reports the minority perspective of the media merry-go-round so consistently and so well. For what it's worth, I appreciate your insights. Lawrence Editor's note: Thanks, Lawrence!


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