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Sports Editors to Train, Mentor Mid-Career Journalists of Color, Women for Management

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Monday, June 27, 2011

New Leader of AP Sports Editors Seeks Candidates

New York's El Diario Backed Same-Sex Marriage Bill

BET Awards Draw 7.7 Million, Besting Last Year

Report From Libya Says War Fuels Racial Tensions

"We Hate LeBron! Let Me Read That Story on Him!"

Oh, No, They Didn't!

Oh, Yes, They Did!

Sharpton, West Keep the Discussion Civil

Short Takes

Members of the Associated Press Sports Editors heard new president Michael A. Anastasi say diversity "is the key to our survival." (Credit: Courtney Deckard/Arbutus Yearbook, Indiana University)

New Leader of AP Sports Editors Seeks Candidates

The nation's sports editors, recently told that they preside over what is likely the whitest, most male section of newspaper and website newsrooms, are planning a nine-month program intended to train mid-career women and journalists of color for sports department leadership positions.

Michael A. Anastasi, new president of Associated Press Sports Editors and managing editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, announced the program at the group's convention in Boston late last week and told Journal-isms on Monday, "I will be making this the major initiative of my term."

Michael A.  AnastasiAnastasi told his fellow sports editors, "Now, there are those in the industry who will say that diversity is not important, that it’s passe, that in the big picture it’s not what we should be worrying about any longer.

"To those I say this: horse shit.

"It is not only the right thing to do, it’s the vital thing to do. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the urgent thing to do. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s key to our survival. . . .

"As an organization, our diversity efforts have focused mostly on young people, just out of school. We can rightly celebrate great success with [the Sports Journalism Institute], with Hampton University, with our partnership with [American Women in Sports Media]. Many of us need to look no farther than our own newsrooms to see some of that success.

"However, how this new program differentiates itself is by focusing on the mid-career professional, rather than the student. We are targeting working journalists, the copy editors, the web editors, the reporters, who are in your newsroom today. We want them to be here, among us who lead, in the future.

"Working with Indiana University, with SJI, with our Sports Management Program and leveraging the many resources APSE already has and offers, we will put our Fellows through a nine-month, in-depth course of study that will stretch them, will educate them, will challenge them, and will prepare them to be leaders in our newsrooms.

"We cannot control the opportunities and indeed there are fewer. But we can help ensure there is never a shortage of well-qualified applicants. . . "

"I call on the Association for Women in Sports Media — our partners in Chicago in 2012 — NABJ, NAHJ, APME, ASNE and others to consider to support us financially and especially in finding and encouraging potential candidates," he said, referring to the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Associated Press Managing Editors and the American Society of News Editors.

An April report for APSE by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) reported that the percentage of sports editors at websites and newspapers who were women or people of color fell 2.3 percentage points — from 11.7 percent in 2008 to 9.42 percent in 2010.

"This report shows that in 2010, 97 percent of the sports editors, 85 percent of the assistant sports editors, 86 percent of our columnists, 86 percent of our reporters and 90 percent of our copy editors/designers were white. In the 2008 report, those numbers for the same positions were 94, 89, 88, 87, and 89 respectively."

When Lisa Wilson, assistant sports editor at the Buffalo News, was promoted to executive sports editor in April, it restored to two the number of African American top sports editors at the nation's newspapers. There had been six as recently as 2007.

Anastasi told Journal-isms by email:

"Details of the application process will be posted on the APSE website (and, I hope, NABJ's, AWSM's, et al) by the middle of July. Rough time frame is we'll have the Fellows selected around Sept. 15 with the first of the training beginning in October and continuing through next summer's conference. I had committed to at least two Fellows funded by APSE for this first year — with a ballpark cost of $1,000 per Fellow. I was hoping for as many as four (I'm thinking we want to keep it fairly small to ensure its initial success), and The Sporting News already has committed to sponsor a third. So now I'm already working on getting the fourth!

"Ultimately, I hope this this program will accommodate many more Fellows, but we need to make sure that it succeeds and that it is substantive experience the first year. Being a graduate of the Fellowship Program needs to really mean something to hiring editors. I will be making this the major initiative of my term so I will be heading it up jointly with the chair of our Diversity Committee, Jorge Rojas of the Miami Herald, and all of the members of that team. One of the key aspects of this in my mind is that there is a broad range of stakeholders — both internally within the organization and externally with other organizations and, hopefully and ultimately, news organizations themselves. I think that puts it on the best path toward success and longevity."

Unlike fellowship programs, the participants will continue at their day jobs. The outline of the program says, "APSE will work closely with supervising editors to ensure the fellows not only meet all work responsibilities, but will customize the program to focus on skills most important to the employer."

Saturday's New York Daily News trumpeted passage of the same-sex marriage bill, signed almost instantly by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Saturday's New York Post did not.

New York's El Diario Backed Same-Sex Marriage Bill

New York's largest Spanish-language daily, El Diario, was firmly behind Friday's passage of same-sex marriage legislation, making New York the largest state to do so.

The New York Amsterdam News, the city's largest African American weekly, did not editorialize about the legislation, "at least that I remember," Publisher Elinor Tatum told Journal-isms. But she said she was "For it. Glad it finally happened" and might write something this week.

On Saturday, the day after passage, Keach Hagey wrote for Politico, "For a paper with 'New York' in its name, you might think this would be big news, whatever its stance on the issue.

"But this morning, the New York Post stood alone among New York papers in choosing not to blast the vote across its front page – preferring only a small strip across the bottom. Some at the Post say they are shocked and appalled at the decision."

Chris O'Shea wrote for FishbowlNY, "The Post decided that the most cover worthy news of the day was a cop saving a woman from committing suicide. That is a great story, but it’s hardly on the scale of same-sex marriage being legalized. FishbowlNY understands that the Post isn’t exactly the place to go searching for news, but neither is the Daily News, and it went big with its cover. So why did the Post decide not to give a lot of ink to the gay marriage story? Think of how great that cover would’ve been." O'Shea said the Post did not respond to inquiries.

El Diario editorialized on Saturday:

". . . The new law — which was supported by all but one of our Latino state elected officials — allows gay couples to have the same civil rights as their heterosexual counterparts.

"In recent years, the movement for marriage equality in New York State has built momentum: Proposals for legalization of same-sex marriages landed stubbornly in the legislature; municipalities ventured to marry gay couples against the law; couples who were discriminated against (some of them involving Hispanics) took their demands to court; and governmental institutions changed policies to accommodate gay couples married in other states and Canada.

"It was preposterous to witness our growing homosexual community go to other jurisdictions to marry, while denying them of their legal rights here at home.

"Yesterday’s decision recognizes that gay marriage is not a matter of belief or ideology, but an issue of human and civil rights. . . ."

BET Awards Draw 7.7 Million, Besting Last Year

"Sunday's BET Awards 11 telecast drew 7.7 million viewers, the network announced Monday, R. Thomas Umstead reported for Multichannel News.

"The awards show, which was dominated by R&B singer Chris Brown — who won four awards including video of the year — bested the 7.3 million viewers garnered by last year's telecast, according to Nielsen.

"Also performing on the show were singers Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, and Mary J. Blige, as well as rap acts Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. . . ."

Report From Libya Says War Fuels Racial Tensions

A report from Libya by Sam Dagher last week in the Wall Street Journal highlights racial tensions between Misrata, "the rebel-held city grappling with the physical and emotional scars of Col. Moammar [Gaddafi's] siege since March," and "Tawergha, a small town 25 miles to the south inhabited mostly by black Libyans, a legacy of its 19th-century origins as a transit town in the slave trade."

The story has inspired such Internet headlines as "Ethnic Cleansing of Black Libyans" over an editorial in New York's Black Star News, and a piece by former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., "Has NATO Unleashed a Race War in Libya? Please call Congress to stop this madness!"

Dagher wrote, "The feud between Misrata and Tawergha offers a stark example of the challenges Libya will face in reconciling communities that found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict when Col. [Gaddafi] leaves power.

"Misrata, Libya's third-largest city and its commercial hub, has been viewed with suspicion by Col. [Gaddafi], who sought to promote minority groups like the Tawerghans and some Bedouin tribes in the area to counterbalance the might of the tightly knit white merchant families here.

"Before the siege, nearly four-fifths of residents of Misrata's Ghoushi neighborhood were Tawergha natives. Now they are gone or in hiding, fearing revenge attacks by Misratans, amid reports of bounties for their capture.

"The rebel leadership in the eastern city of Benghazi says it is working on a post-[Gaddafi] reconciliation plan. But details are fuzzy and rebel leaders often resort to platitudes when dismissing suggestions of discord, saying simply that 'Libya is one tribe.'

". . . Some of the hatred of Tawergha has racist overtones that were mostly latent before the current conflict. On the road between Misrata and Tawergha, rebel slogans like 'the brigade for purging slaves, black skin' have supplanted pro-[Gaddafi] scrawl.

"The racial tensions have been fueled by the regime's alleged use of African mercenaries to violently suppress demonstrators at the start of the Libyan uprising in February, and the sense that the south of the country, which is predominantly black, mainly backs Col. [Gaddafi]."

The Miami Heat Big Three: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh huddled up at the Miami Heat's Welcome Party on July 9, 2010. (Credit: Victor Baldizon/lebronjames.com)

"We Hate LeBron! Let Me Read That Story on Him!"

Discussing his city's continuing fascination with LeBron James, Ted Diadiun, public editor of Cleveland's Plain Dealer, asked readers on Sunday, ". . . When does righteous indignation cross the line into unhealthy obsession?

"When do we lose our status as the aggrieved party, deserving of sympathy and support from sports fans across the country, and become a pitiful bunch of losers who can't stop moaning about being deserted, 11 months after James took his skills to South Beach?

"I fear that we — from the governor (who issued a proclamation making the Mavericks honorary Ohioans) on down — blew past that particular Rubicon weeks ago.

". . . Despite the critics who believe that we have spent too much newsprint and Web space on the issue of LeBron James, one immutable fact stands: Nearly every LeBron James story that appears on cleveland.com vaults to the top of the list of the day's most-viewed stories.

"Through Friday, figures for the month of June show that seven of the 12 stories with the most page views had James as their central element. And these are not just the sports stories; they include everything we've published.

"No. 1 by far, with 102,000 page views, was the report on James' retort to his critics that when we all wake up tomorrow, he'll still be LeBron James and we'll still be a bunch of mopes.

"No. 3 was the story about the Mavericks winning the NBA championship. No. 5 was a story about the Cavs' Daniel Gibson firing back at James. Sixth was Terry Pluto's column about James' coming summer of discontent. The other James item in the top 10 was a video, a story about James' critics on Twitter and another Pluto column."

Oh, No, They Didn't!

Oh, Yes, They Did!

  • Ibtihaj MuhammadThe Wall Street Journal featured a woman in a hijab under the upbeat headline, "Fencer With Headscarf Is a Cut Above the Rest." "When Ibtihaj Muhammad fastens her headscarf, or hijab, around her chin, one of its purposes is to deflect unwanted attention," began Friday's story by Aimee Berg. "But when she wears a hijab in a sporting arena, it often has the opposite effect.

  • "The New Jersey native is currently ranked 11th in the world in women's sabre, a discipline of fencing. Only one American ranks higher: Mariel Zagunis, the two-time Olympic and world champion."

  • "Danny Hakim’s report on a new agreement between New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state’s largest public-employee union contains what must have been a gratifying passage to write:

    "In addition to the wage and benefits concessions, the union also agreed to an overhaul of the disciplinary procedures for state employees accused of abuse or neglect of the developmentally disabled," Greg Marx wrote Thursday for Columbia Journalism Review.

    "The state and the union will develop a series of punishments for employees who commit disciplinary offenses in an effort to end the seemingly random punishments handed out by arbitrators to employees in the past. And there will also be an overhaul of the current arbitration panel and higher pay in an effort to recruit better arbitrators.

    "The Cuomo administration had pressed for the changes after a series of articles in The New York Times examining the treatment of the disabled in group homes and state-run institutions. Among the newspaper’s findings: The state has retained workers who committed physical or sexual abuse, rehired many workers it had fired, shunned whistle-blowers and rarely reported allegations of abuse to law enforcement officials.

    "Though today’s story doesn’t say so, the reporter who produced the articles in that series is none other than Hakim."

Sharpton, West Keep the Discussion Civil

"A knockdown, drag-out fight it wasn’t," Deborah Douglas wrote Monday from Chicago for blackamericaweb.com.

"As President Barack Obama’s go-to guy, the Rev. Al Sharpton went through great pains at the National Newspaper Publishers Association convention Friday to tamp down expectations of a bloodthirsty debate with Professor Cornel West that he, among others, publicized.

"Not entirely a White House insider, Sharpton is now a black man with access, the duo agreed before about 200 audience members assembled for the annual meeting of the black press at the posh Drake Hotel. As such, Sharpton wasn’t going to be the one getting Americans clucking over how he baited West into calling the president names, like 'another black mascot' for the rich and powerful, as West did on national TV in May.

" 'We’ve got to fight on all these levels,' said Sharpton, whose audience included notables such as Maulana Karenga, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Michael Eric Dyson, Harvard University’s Charles Ogletree and moderator George Curry, 'which is why we don’t need to waste time fighting each other.'

"With room to agree to disagree, West proceeded to criticize the federal government’s approach to the 'social misery' that has [led] to blacks’ disproportionate suffering from everything from foreclosures and unemployment to imprisonment. . . ."

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 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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