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Station Turned Down Video of Police Beating

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Uproar After Photographer Shows Material on YouTube

Essayist Debra Dickerson Says She Is "Homeless"

Laid-Off Baltimore Sun Workers Share Stories

White House Defends Court Nominee on Diversity

Lena Horne Services to be Held Friday in New York

S.D. Anchor Resigns After Role at Tea Party Rally

NABJ to Honor FAMU's Hawkins, African Women

NBC, Criticized by Hispanics, Announces Promotions

Short Takes

Police victim, stomped on his head and body, is questioned by photographer. (Video)

Uproar After Photographer Shows Material on YouTube

A Seattle television station has apologized for not airing footage that shows Seattle police officers stomping on a man's head and body. At one point, an officer can be heard saying: "You got me? I'm going to beat the [expletive] Mexican piss out of you, homey. You feel me?"

After KCPQ-TV, known as Q13, did not air the footage he offered the station, freelance photographer Jud Morris posted a video of the beating on YouTube and sold the footage to competitor KIRO-TV for $100.

Morris said KCPQ-TV then fired him. Now KCPQ is fighting with KIRO over rights to the footage.

The YouTube video prompted an uproar when it was posted last month. In the aftermath, the officer heard uttering the expletives issued a tearful apology [video] on Friday.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn called the video disturbing, the City Council has requested a briefing on the results of the police department's internal review, Latino groups planned to meet with city officials and the NAACP asked that Detective Shandy Cobane be charged with malicious harassment, a hate crime, according to news reports.

As for KCPQ, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists said Wednesday night, "Q13 has done a disservice to Latinos, to journalism and to its audience."

The victim, who was mistaken for the perpetrator of a robbery, has not been seen since his appearance in the video.

At least one competitor asked whether Q13 had engaged in a coverup.

"Though Morris said the station did not discuss in detail why staff wouldn't run the footage, he believes it was influenced by 'Washington's Most Wanted,' a weekly show that details fugitives and highlights police work," Casey McNerthey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, now a Web-only operation, reported on Friday. "He called the show 'their moneymaker.' "

KIRO TV News Director Todd Mokhtari, who held that position at Q13 for five years and bought the video from Morris, said, "That story of brutality and racist comments from a Seattle police officer needed to air," according to Linda Thomas of KIRO Radio. "I don't know how you could hold the story and not do it for three weeks. That's unfathomable to me."

On Monday, Q13 issued its explanation:

"We felt it was important to learn as much as possible about the circumstances surrounding the incident captured on the video before we aired it. Not doing so would have been reckless and done a disservice to the community and to the police department.

"We were working to uncover important facts that we believed would add context to the story and better inform our viewers about what they were going to see on the video. For example, we made immediate requests for an incident report and any arrest information. However, no arrest was made and the man detained by police did not come forward or file a complaint. We also filed public records requests for the entire investigative report.

"In hindsight, we took too long to do so and should have reported the story sooner. We take responsibility for that mistake and we apologize."

NAHJ said on Wednesday, "Q13's statement in response to those who criticize its decision is weak, unfounded and demonstrates the station's failure to uphold its most basic responsibility as a newsgathering organization: to report the news. This poor choice also showcases the need for more news organizations like Q13 to have diversity of news staffers in decision-making positions that reflect the changing demographics of the audience, especially Latinos."

Essayist Debra Dickerson Says She Is "Homeless"

Debra J. Dickerson Debra J. Dickerson, the freelance essayist and author who gained prominence in 2007 by helping to ignite the debate over whether Barack Obama was "black enough," is telling readers of her blog that she is now "homeless."

"I can't know why any random street person is destitute but I know why I am: my divorce," Dickerson wrote. "Five and a half years of litigation later (we were only married for five) I've lost everything. My career. My health. My home. My possessions. Our beloved cat and my very sense of self. Now, most likely, my kids since I can't provide a home for them. But the only reason I can't is because family court never ends, not as long as one of the parties doesn't want it to. When we separated, all we had were two kids and debt. Yet the battle rages on and it has defeated me. I stopped counting the attorneys' fees at the $100,000 mark and I rarely bother to open my mail since it's all from collection agencies. I'm 51. I'll spend the rest of my life repaying my unbelievably generous, foolish friends."

Reached at the Albany, N.Y., hotel where she and her two children are staying until, she said, they are put out, Dickerson told Journal-isms, "I don't really have a plan" and that the ultimate culprit is a family court system that needs reform. "This is going on all over the country. If there is one parent who isn't done with the other parent. . . . everybody can agree that 5¬? years is too long. In our case it's about custody, but in other cases it is money problems" or other issues.

A law school graduate, Dickerson said she revealed her circumstances on her blog because, "I can't believe this is happening."

She wrote, "I'm also writing this to see if I can regain the indescribable satisfaction that my craft used to bring me. The poor are often written about but rarely do they, we, get to speak for themselves. I'll be using this blog to do just that. I won't be chronicling my legal battle but rather how I go about holding my family together through this nightmare. Most of all, I'll be writing about becoming Debra again. I've been whittled down to either 'the 'petitioner,' 'the respondent' or Mom. Never Debra. I want her back again.

"I wrote my way out of a difficult life once. I'll do it again."

According to court records in Albany, Dickerson sued Scott B. Knox for divorce and a settlement was reached on Feb. 14, 2006. The three-year-old Albany charter school that she helped found confirmed that her two children attend, and that she remained on its board until about a month ago.

Mother Jones magazine described Dickerson as a "professional iconoclast" and a former Air Force intelligence officer.

Random House said she "was educated at the University of Maryland, St. Mary’s University, and Harvard Law School. She has been both a senior editor and a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report, and her work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the New Republic, Slate, the Village Voice, and Essence. She is the author of 'The End of Blackness' and 'An American Story.' " She also taught journalism at the State University of New York at Albany.

Dickerson argued in 2004's "The End of Blackness" that "the old definitions of black and white, on a cultural level, aren't the same as they were 40, 30, or even 20 years ago, and blacks have to reexamine how to frame the current issues facing a society that still has major racial fault lines even as it undergoes significant demographic changes," in the words of reviewer Emru Townsend.

In a January 2007 Salon piece, Dickerson wrote that Obama wasn't "black."

"Black, in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves. Voluntary immigrants of African descent (even those descended from West Indian slaves) are just that, voluntary immigrants of African descent with markedly different outlooks on the role of race in their lives and in politics. At a minimum, it can't be assumed that a Nigerian cabdriver and a third-generation Harlemite have more in common than the fact a cop won't bother to make the distinction. They're both 'black' as a matter of skin color and DNA, but only the Harlemite, for better or worse, is politically and culturally black, as we use the term."

Dickerson may be reached at debra (at)

Laid-Off Baltimore Sun Workers Share Stories

Jiho KimTyeesha Dixon, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, is now pursuing a legal career. "Although I have made a giant leap, expanding my toolbox with the legal career I never imagined I’d be pursuing, the fire that journalism sparked inside of me will never die," she writes. "I know that asking one extra question can make a world of difference. I keep a pen in my hair at all times, just in case something unexpected comes up.

"I still refer to the first sentences of all my writings as ‘ledes.’"

As an announcement Wednesday explains, Dixon's comments are part of a larger project.

"In the spring of 2009, more than 60 Baltimore Sun writers and staff were laid off in massive cuts that left them without a voice for creative expression. Now, their voices and stories can be heard again. 'Telling Our Stories: The Days of the Baltimore Sun' website launched today and shares their stories and bittersweet memories," the website organizers said.

" 'Telling Our Stories' is the culmination of a fellowship program funded by the Writers Guild of America, East Foundation and implemented with the collaboration of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. The Foundation's mission is to perpetuate the art and craft of storytelling.

"The fellowship program gives the laid-off Sun employees an opportunity to process their difficult experiences through creative work, asking them simply 'to tell a story arising out of their personal experiences during their time at The Baltimore Sun.'

"Some recall the pain of being fired; others recollect the challenges, joys, and spirit of newspaper work. Participating fellows include reporters, editors, critics, copy editors, photographers, designers, advertising salespeople and market researchers. In addition to the essays, poems, photos and videos featured on the site, former Sun employees also designed the website and edited the submissions."

Among the others participating are sports reporter Patrick Gutierrez; Fe Fung Hung, graphic artist; Chiaki Kawajiri, photojournalist; graphic artist Jiho Kim and pop music critic Rashod D. Ollison. 

Gutierrez recalls the excitement of being a new reporter. "On several occasions I worked six and seven days a week, eager to continue building my portfolio and improving as a writer," he wrote. "Over time, as editors departed and the overtime budget shrunk, my opportunities to write decreased, but I never lost my hunger. I scratched and clawed my way to nearly 100 bylines before I was let go. I left with no regrets. I had improved as a journalist by leaps and bounds, and I departed as a confident writer who knew he had what it takes to do this job for a living and do it well."

White House Defends Court Nominee on Diversity

Ryan Chittum, referencing the Wall Street Journal's coverage of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review, 'You don’t have to be a cynic to think that the
Journal chose the two-decade-old picture to imply Kagan is a lesbian.'The White House has pushed back against the notion that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has not been racially sensitive, "releasing a set of talking points on the subject to civil rights lawyers and reporters, according to, which first reported the concerns," Krissah Thompson and Hamil R. Harris reported Wednesday in the Washington Post.

As reported on Monday, a group of law professors had found an attentive audience with an assertion that Kagan, who is solicitor general, paid little attention to diversity while dean of Harvard Law School. Among those echoing the professors' questions were Pamela D. Reed, whose piece was posted on various blogs, including Diverse: Issues in Higher Education; Roland S. Martin of Creators Syndicate and; syndicated columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson and Sherrilyn A. Ifill, writing on

The talking points emphasize "that Kagan did not have the final say in hiring at Harvard, where such decisions are made by committee. The memo also argues that Kagan made other appointments and promotions that enhanced diversity, including moving two minority professors to tenured positions. Three of the 12 clinical professors hired were minorities," the Post story said.

"Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree, who worked with Kagan while she was dean, went further, saying the raw hiring numbers at the law school provide a skewed picture of her full commitment to diversity. 'She reached quite broad and deep in trying to ensure that diverse candidates were in the pool,' he said. 'There has never been a doubt in my mind about her commitment to diversity.' "

Separately, in the Columbia Journalism Review, former Wall Street Journal writer Ryan Chittum, writing about changes in the Journal under Rupert Murdoch's ownership, noted "a bit of a stir the paper created yesterday with its large front-page photo of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan playing softball. You don’t have to be a cynic to think that the Journal chose the two-decade-old picture to imply Kagan is a lesbian.

"My wife, hardly a media critic, mentioned it to me unprompted yesterday as she looked at the front page. She was stunned that a paper would do something so obvious and ham-fisted.

"Journal editors profess shock that anyone is drawing inferences from the picture."

Lena Horne Services to be Held Friday in New York

Lena Horne's funeral is to be held at a Roman Catholic church in New York, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

"Celebrities, relatives and friends will gather Friday morning at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan to remember Horne. The singer and actress died Sunday at age 92."

Veteran journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault was among those who shared memories of Horne on Wednesday, writing on

"I was 20 years old and still negotiating the space the law had made possible for me as the first black woman student at the University of Georgia. And while it might have been a lonely journey otherwise, I had so much support beyond its walls and that included the women in the sorority I had joined at Wayne State University in Detroit, where I was studying while waiting for the courts to decide whether Georgia had lied when it denied my application on the pretext that there was no room in the dormitory.

"When I was finally admitted in the winter of 1961, my Delta Sigma Theta sorors in Detroit cried as I left on an uncertain and possibly dangerous journey. But after a tumultuous welcome by white students that included a riot outside my dormitory, things settled down for the most part, except for the absence of women like those who had taken me in when I joined them in their sisterhood. They wrote and called, and on one occasion, Jeanne Noble, the brilliant and stunning national president of Delta took advantage of a speaking engagement I had in New York and organized an evening, she said, with some friends, one of whom was a soror.

"I didn't know where we were headed until after Jeanne knocked on the door and I first laid eyes on the woman of the house. I was shocked. Not only because I recognized her face, that wide, wonderful smile immediately, but also, here I was, up close to Lena Horne.

"This was not the Lena Horne I had seen in the little, segregated movie theater of my childhood in Covington, Ga., wearing sequined gowns and furs and looking oh-so-glamorous as she sang 'Stormy Weather.' This was a tiny figure dressed in black pedal pushers (yes, it was the early 1960s) and a pink cotton shirt. But that smile? It added the furs and sequins and made her as tall and stunning as I remembered her on the silver screen. This was possibly my first time ever being at a loss for words. And I was ever more flabbergasted when she greeted us with 'Hey, y'all.' It turned out that Lena was an honorary Delta. . . ."

S.D. Anchor Resigns After Role at Tea Party Rally

"Shad Olson, who was suspended three weeks ago from his KOTA TV news anchor job, resigned Tuesday to pursue hosting a radio talk show and to work as a paid political consultant," Kevin Woster reported Wednesday for the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal.

"Olson was suspended after he appeared as a featured speaker at a local tea party rally, a move that was labeled 'an ethical lapse' by his supervisors at KOTA. Olson never called it that, however. He said Tuesday that it was time to move on.

“'I’ve handed in my resignation,' he said. 'In the wake of everything that happened, I just kind of felt it was time to do something else. I’m done as of today.'”

"Olson, who remained on the KOTA payroll and continued to work off the air during his suspension, said he will now become more active with the local tea party affiliate, Citizens for Liberty. Olson also has begun work as a paid consultant for state Sen. Gordon Howie, R-Rapid City, a gubernatorial candidate endorsed by Citizens for Liberty."

NABJ to Honor FAMU's Hawkins, African Women

James Hawkins, dean of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication at Florida A&M University has been named Educator of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. Two African women journalists who were abducted and attacked by a women’s group that sought to prevent them from reporting on female genital mutilation will also be honored, NABJ announced.

"As a former student of Dr. Hawkins, I can attest to his remarkable and unwavering commitment to making sure journalism students succeed and excel in a competitive profession," NABJ President Kathy Times said in a statement. "He has made it a priority to send FAMU students to NABJ conventions and conferences for more than 20 years. I'm proud to call him a mentor and a dear friend to NABJ."

Manjama Balama-Samba of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service and United Nations Radio, Henrietta Kpaka, also of SLBS, and Isha Jalloh and Jenneh Brima, both of Eastern Radio, will receive the organization’s 2010 Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist Award at its opening reception during the association’s annual convention in San Diego, the group said.

Balama-Samba was reportedly stripped naked in the bush and later paraded on the streets before being set free. "What happened to those journalists should not happen to anyone," said John Yearwood, co-chairman of NABJ’s World Affairs Task Force, in the announcement. "Through this award, NABJ sends a clear message to the Bondo Society," the group that attacked them, "and others that this type of treatment of journalists is unacceptable and must stop."

NBC, Criticized by Hispanics, Announces Promotions

Lourdes DiazNBC, whose parent company has met with resistance from some Hispanic groups as it seeks approval for a merger with Comcast, has named Lourdes Diaz, Mike Nunes and Joey Chavez to key program posts in NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, NBC announced on Tuesday.

Diaz joins the company as vice president, drama programming, responsible for overseeing current drama series and development. Nunes, who was an NBC Universal entertainment associate, was promoted to manager, comedy programming, helping to oversee current comedy series and development.

Chavez, who also was an NBC Universal entertainment associate, was promoted to manager, drama programming, "responsible for assisting in overseeing various current drama series and development."

Diaz most recently founded Agua Entertainment Group, specializing in film, television, and new media projects. She has served in senior positions at such companies as ICM and Orion Pictures and has developed, packaged and/or produced more than 20 feature films and television programs in her career, including both domestic and foreign co-productions, NBC said.

In a fourth promotion, Rebecca McGill was elevated to director, drama programming.

Short Takes

  • "It‚Äôs official: contributor Roland Martin is staging a dress code coup over at CNN. Martin was on Rick‚Äôs List today to discuss‚Ķ who knows, really, because Rick Sanchez was wearing an ascot, too, and called for making the ascot tie 'official CNN anchor attire' ‚Äî seriously," Frances Martel reported Wednesday for mediaite.
  • "Aasif Mandvi, a self-described 'liberal Muslim' and the 'senior Islamic correspondent' for Comedy Central‚Äôs 'The Daily Show,' said on air after the 'South Park' threats that it would upset him to see the Prophet Muhammad depicted in a cartoon. But, he added: 'Here‚Äôs what‚Äôs more upsetting. Someone, in the name of a faith that I believe in, threatening another person for doing it,' ‚Äù Jo Piazza reported Friday for "But after the failed Times Square terror attack, 'The Daily Show" 'asked Mandvi not to comment further on the matter, according to his spokesman."
  • In Boston, "WCVB favorite Jim Boyd had a career most local TV journalists can only dream of ‚Äî but there was always that one nagging thought in the back of his mind," Jessica Heslam wrote Monday in the Boston Herald. "He wanted a college degree. Now, at age 68, Boyd has gone back to school. A junior majoring in sociology at Tufts University, the former anchor can be found at the front of the classroom, studying in the library or in his favorite coffee shop and toting his backpack across campus."
  • Oneita Jackson, who writes the O Street blog for and a column that appears in the Detroit Free Press' Sunday "News & Views" section, "tagged" a bench on the new Bagley Street bridge, Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor, recalled for readers on Wednesday. "She apologized online Saturday and in the paper Sunday." But "her blog will be inactive until May 31. Her column will reappear June 6."
  • Marc Lacey Marc Lacey will open the New York Times' first new national bureau in decades, in Phoenix, National Editor Rick Berke told Times staffers on Tuesday. "From Mexico City over the last four years, Marc has ranged around the Caribbean, Cuba and Central America and mastered the immigration issues that are so urgent north of the border. For five years before that as the East Africa correspondent, and, before that, as a White House and State Department correspondent, Marc built a track record of memorable journalism with his acute story sense, hustle and graceful writing. He is also a wonderful colleague, as many reporters learned when he recently coordinated on-the-ground earthquake coverage in Haiti."
  • Belva Davis, veteran of Bay Area broadcasting, was the subject of a front-page feature by Carolyn Jones in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday. "Davis, 77, has been bringing that sense of order and reassurance into Bay Area living rooms for more than 40 years. As an anchorwoman, reporter and now host of KQED's 'This Week in Northern California,' she has guided viewers through riots, earthquakes, fires, assassinations, elections and general tumult with her trademark warm smile and unflappable demeanor."
  • John Cardenas, news director at WBNS-TV Channel 10 in Columbus, Ohio, has been named general manager of WTHR-TV Channel 13 in Indianapolis, assuming his new duties June 1, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported. "Both WTHR and WBNS are owned by the Columbus-based Dispatch Broadcast Group. He takes over for Jim Tellus, who died suddenly in early March."
  • "After 20 years with KMSP-TV, Fox 9," in the Twin Cities, "anchor Robyne Robinson is leaving the station to focus on her ROX Minneapolis jewelry line," Amy Carlson Gustafson reported for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "The first African-American to anchor a local prime-time newscast, Robinson is also part of the longest-serving nightly anchor news team in the Twin Cities with her co-anchor of 14 years, Jeff Passolt. Her last day with Fox 9 is May 26." David Brauer, writing in MinnPost, said of the exit, "Everything about this one ‚Äî including the timing, which stepped a bit on WCCO‚Äôs ShelbyFest ‚Äî seems off."
  • "Twenty-six students and young journalists from diverse backgrounds have been named Chips Quinn Scholars for summer 2010 by the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute and participating news organizations. Despite recent floods in the region, the Chips Quinn Scholar orientation and training will take place May 17-25 at the Freedom Forum's John Seigenthaler Center in Nashville, Tenn.," the Freedom Forum announced on Tuesday.
  • "The Africa Channel will launch in high-definition on Aug. 1, according to network officials," R. Thomas Umstead reported Wednesday for Multichannel News. "The HD version of the network will be available in select markets where The Africa Channel is carried, although the network would not reveal specific system launches."
  • President Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai took questions at the White House from foreign press and only two American reporters: CBS Radio's Mark Knoller and CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, Kevin Allocca reported for MediaBistro.
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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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