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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Moderators Inept in Evaluating Harry Reid Remarks

Disparaging Bill Clinton Quote Doesn't Make Talk Shows

TV One Show Taped Too Early to Include Reid Flap

As if handed a softball question on NBC's "Meet the Press," GOP Chairman Michael Steele calls for Sen. Harry Reid to step down as Senate majority leader. (Video)

Moderators Inept in Evaluating Harry Reid Remarks

If ever one needed evidence of how uninformed the Sunday talk shows are on racial matters, the hyped-up controversy over private remarks about Barack Obama by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, released in a new book, provide Exhibit A.

Moderators and panelists were shocked, shocked that there is "colorism" in America and a perceived "Negro dialect." To explain Reid's assertion that there was, they turned not to social scientists, but to politicians with their own points to make. They tossed around the word "racist."

Coincidentally, there were no journalists of color in any of the discussions.

Journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann reported the Nevada Democrat's remarks in their new book, "Game Change," which is scheduled to be in bookstores Tuesday, CNN reported.

"The authors quote Reid as saying privately that Obama, as a black candidate, could be successful thanks, in part, to his 'light-skinned' appearance and speaking patterns 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.' 

"' He [Reid] was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama - a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," ' Halperin and Heilemann say.

" 'Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination,' they write."

When word of the book's contents got out, Reid apologized and called a raft of African American leaders - 35 phone calls, by one count, including one to Donna Brazile, a Democratic party leader who is also a panelist on CNN's "State of the Union." Obama accepted the apology and cited his long, productive history with Reid.

The New York Times decided the story was worthy of the front page. Politico devoted five stories to Reid's blunder on its Web site. And on the Sunday talk shows, the questions were not whether what Reid said was true, but how bad the damage was.

The biggest megaphone was handed to Michael Steele, the African American who chairs the Republican National Committee. He appeared on both NBC's "Meet the Press" and on "Fox News Sunday," calling for Reid to step down as Senate majority leader.

"Michael Steele: Back in 2002, Trent Lott was ousted as majority leader for racially insensitive remarks," David Gregory asked on "Meet the Press." "He, at that point, said if Strom Thurmond, who ran as a segregationist for president - had he been elected president, the country wouldn't have had some of the problems over all those years. Then-state Senator Obama said at that point that Lott ought to be ousted as majority leader. Do you see a difference between then and now?"

"Oh, yeah, there's a big double standard here," Steele said, as if handed a softball. "That's anachronistic language that hearkens back to the 1950s and '60s. And it confirms to me a mindset that is out of step with where America is today."

But as columnist Jack White points out, isn't this the same Steele whose "Honest Injun" quip last week called his own mindset into question? The Steele who said last year that he wanted to lure blacks into the Republican party by announcing, ''My plan is to say, 'Ya'll come!' '' adding, ''I got the fried chicken and potato salad!''

Steele was not asked those questions on "Meet the Press." On "Fox News Sunday," he was confronted with the "Honest Injun" remark and replied, "It's not intended to be a racial slur. I wasn't intending to say a racial slur at all. The reality of it is that's not the same as what we were talking about before." Nevertheless, Steele apologized for having said it. 

"As Jesse Jackson used to say, text without context is pretext," White told Journal-isms. "It's unprofessional for journalists to let Steele berate Reid for racial insensitivity without bringing up Steele's own frequent and even more egregious lapses." He planned to write more on the subject for theRoot using his "Buckwheat" character.

On CBS-TV's "Face the Nation," host Bob Schieffer said Reid's comment "does recall" the Trent Lott incident.

Never mind that while Reid was speaking favorably of Obama to become the nation's first African American president, Lott was praising the 1948 candidacy of a man who declared that, "all the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches."

Nor were viewers told what Lott actually said in 2004: "I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

Instead, chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford told Schieffer that because of Reid's gaffe, "the much bigger question is more broadly, what is this going to mean in the midterms, and for the Democrats specifically in the midterms. Because you know, this could very well make the base much less enthusiastic to come out to vote."

Schieffer seemed incredulous that Reid could use the term "light-skinned." A black Republican who called into C-Span's "Washington Journal" wasn't. She was no social scientist, but said she was quite certain that if Obama had been the color of his African father, he would never have been elected.

That was light years away from the approach taken by "State of the Union" host John King on CNN. He goaded former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder. "If in covering your campaign 20 years ago, which I did when you ran for governor, if I had leaned across the table like this and said, 'you know, Governor, because of your lighter skin, or a non-Negro dialect, you have a better chance,' what would your reaction have been?"

Wilder, who can be forgiven for believing that only his political skills and his message won him the office, replied, "I would have thought you were from another planet."

Away from TV land, columnists went to sources other than their journalistic colleagues or politicians. "Not only do we not live in a colorblind society, we live in an exquisitely color-sensitive one," editorial writer and columnist Ruth Marcus noted on the Washington Post Web site.

"A 2007 study that used magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain reactions to photos of light- and dark-skinned subjects found more activity within the amygdala, which reflects arousal to perceived threats, when dark-skinned faces were shown. 'Disconcertingly, to the extent that Afrocentric features increase the likelihood of making stereotypic inferences, this may result in severe consequences for those possessing high levels of Afrocentric features,' the authors wrote."

"Point two," added veteran Chicago journalist Monroe Anderson, writing Saturday on his blog, "There is such a thing as a Negro - I prefer black - dialect. I hear it when I talk to my family and friends back in Gary, Indiana. I hear it when I go to the West or South sides of Chicago. I hear it come out of my mouth when I'm speaking my native tongue rather than the educated one I learned to affect long ago to assure that I could succeed as a professional journalist.

"Our 44th president was raised by his white grandparents and mother. He grew up hearing white dialects not black ones. He enunciates like a Harvard-educated white man - until he wants to emulate those dialects he heard while working as a community organizer and worshiping at Trinity United Church of Christ."

On his own blog, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page raised another question after watching ABC-TV's "This Week":

Noting that George Will declared there was "not a scintilla of racism" in what Reid said, Page continued, "That left Liz Cheney alone on the panel to hold up the banner of racial denialism.

"She dismisses the very notion that complexion or dialect should even be discussed as Reid discussed it as a factor in election campaigns. 'This may be the way that liberal elites speak to each other in private,' says Dick and Lynne Cheney's daughter. 'It is not the way that people that I know speak to each other in private or public.'

"Gee, I'd love to know more about how the people that she knows do speak to each other about race. But I guess that's a topic for another show."

Disparaging Bill Clinton Quote Doesn't Make Talk Shows

"The forceful 2008 endorsement of Barack Obama by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy - and Kennedy's sudden break with the Clintons - was caused in part by a racist comment made by Bill Clinton to Kennedy over the telephone, according to a new campaign book," Carl M. Cannon wrote for Politics Daily.

If that excerpt was discussed on the Sunday talk shows, it eluded this viewer. 

"The book, 'Game Change,' by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, asserts on page 218 that after Obama won the Iowa caucuses, Clinton called Kennedy to press for an endorsement from the influential Massachusetts liberal. But the call backfired, according to the authors, and left Kennedy deeply offended.

"The day after Iowa, he phoned Kennedy and pressed for an endorsement, making the case for his wife. But Bill then went on, belittling Obama in a manner that deeply offended Kennedy. Recounting the conversation later to a friend, Teddy fumed that Clinton had said, A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee."

TV One Show Taped Too Early to Include Reid Flap

Roland Martin The African American-produced Sunday talk show created specifically because the mainstream network talkers were perceived to be ignoring black concerns had nothing on the flap over Sen. Harry Reid's comments.

"We tape Washington Watch on Fridays and the comments attributed to Sen. Reid in a new book did not become public until Saturday," Roland Martin, host of the show, told Journal-isms.

The show airs on the TV One cable network.

Census to Test "Negro" Removal

January 8, 2010; updated January 9

Inclusion of Out-of-Favor Term Prompts Criticism

In Shakeup, Robin Washington Named Editor in Duluth

Nicole Beharie Returns Prize; Black Critics Group Splits

NABJ to Consider Leaving Accreditation Council

ASNE Fixes Diversity Panel That Lacked Diversity

NAJA Leader Blasts Michael Steele's "Injun" Remark

Columnists Unanimous on Gilbert Arenas' Gunplay

"Much of Freelancing Has Become All Too Free"

Sam Cooke Documentary Debuts Monday on PBS

Short Takes


Students at St. Louis' Gateway Math and Science Elementary School work on a census lesson during the launch of the Census in Schools program, which plans to reach all 118,000 schools and 56 million students nationwide (Credit: U.S. Census Bureau.)

Inclusion of Out-of-Favor Term Prompts Criticism

The Census Bureau, criticized by some journalists, bloggers and others this week for including the term "Negro" among the choices for self-identification on the 2010 Census forms, announced Friday that, "A test embedded in the 2010 Census will measure the effect of removing the term 'Negro' on reports about a person’s racial identity.

"The results will be used to inform design changes for future surveys and the 2020 Census. In the 2000 Census, more than 50,000 persons chose to write down explicitly that they identified themselves as 'Negro,' " the announcement continued.

Some bloggers and journalists this week criticized the inclusion of "Negro" among the racial choices on the census form as offensive or confusing, while some headline writers simply had fun with it. "Negro" fell victim to the push for self-definition during the black-power movement of the late 1960s. It recalls the days when "urban renewal" was nicknamed "Negro removal," though the term lives on in the names of such organizations as the National Council of Negro Women and the United Negro College Fund.

"Are You a Negro?" asked a New York magazine headline on Wednesday.

"So the census lists 'Negro' but not Octaroon? Haters," tweeted Baratunde Thurston, Web editor for the satirical publication the Onion.

The discussion also exposed a bit of ignorance.

"Census public information officer Robert Crockett tells us that the word 'Negro' has been on Census forms since at least 1950," Mark Memmott wrote on his National Public Radio blog, "The Two-Way."

"I can’t believe the bureau is still using the offensive term Negro. And what is the difference between black and African-American?" blogged James E. Causey, editorial writer and columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Associated Press stylebook provides one answer to the latter. Under "African-American," it says, "The terms are not necessarily interchangeable. People from Caribbean nations, for example, generally refer to themselves as Caribbean-American. Follow a person's preference." Not to mention that there are blacks in and from Africa, Europe and other non-American continents.

In providing an additional explanation for its decision, the Census Bureau used an argument advanced by those who earlier demanded that the news media use "black," and later "African American": that people should be called what they want to be called.

"The Census Bureau included the term 'Negro' because testing prior to Census 2000 indicated that numbers of respondents self-identified with this term. Census 2000 data showed that 56,175 respondents wrote in the term 'Negro' in response to the question on race, even though the term was included in the category label for a checkbox. This does not include the unknown numbers of respondents who may have checked the box 'Black, African Am., or Negro' because of the presence of the 'Negro' identifier.

"Research in the 2000s did not include studies of the effect of dropping 'Negro' from the list 'Black, African Am., or Negro' on responses. Such research is important to avoid unanticipated consequences of changing question wording on the outcome of a census. As stated above, this research will be conducted as part of the 2010 decennial census."

In Shakeup, Robin Washington Named Editor in Duluth

In a shakeup at the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, Robin Washington, a veteran journalist and former board member of the National Association of Black Journalists and Unity: Journalists of Color, on Friday was named the company's editor. As news director, Robin Washington was second in command of the newsroom but also concentrated on the Duluth paper's non-print endeavors, particularly its daily Webcast, DNTV

Washington was news director, second in command of the news operation, and before that, editorial page editor.

The appointment comes as a change of pace at a time when more journalists of color have been losing their jobs than being promoted to top ones, although Washington's promotion resulted from a layoff of the executive editor.

"News Tribune Publisher Ken Browall released the following statement," the paper reported on its Web site:

"'Effective today the company has restructured management within the Editorial and Circulation Departments, resulting in the elimination of two management positions at the News Tribune. Executive Editor Rob Karwath and Circulation Manager Tim McLoughlin have been laid off.

"Both of these individuals have made significant contributions to the News Tribune during their careers. These were difficult business decisions. I will miss Rob and Tim both personally and professionally.' "

"Robin Washington, who served as the News Tribune's news director, will be the company's editor, Browall said in the statement."

"Robin Washington grew up in Chicago in a family of black and Jewish civil rights activists," he begins his online biography. "Participating in sit-ins and protests when he was three years old, today he recalls those events fondly as 'family outings.'

"He received the 1996 Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association as creator and executive producer of 'You Don’t Have to Ride Jim Crow!,' a national public television documentary telling the story of the first interracial Freedom Ride in 1947.

". . . He was previously a columnist for the Boston Herald, authoring the newspaper’s popular 'Roads Scholar' and 'Square Deal' features, and spent two years covering the Catholic Church clergy sexual abuse scandal. . . . He also worked on the Boston Herald sports staff.

"He was publisher and founder of an engineering journal, editor of a 500,000 circulation women’s magazine, publisher of a rural Minnesota weekly and managing editor of the Bay State Banner, New England’s largest black weekly."

Washington, 53, a former president of the Boston Association of Black Journalists, has also been NABJ's parliamentarian, a board member of Unity, and a commentator on National Public Radio. The son of a black father and a white, Jewish mother, Washington helped organize the Alliance of Black Jews in 1995. That organization has just reformed via Facebook, he told Journal-isms on Friday.

The News Tribune is a former Knight Ridder property now owned by Forum Communications Co., based in Fargo, N.D.

Nicole Beharie Returns Prize; Black Critics Group Splits

"Nicole Beharie, the gifted actress from 'American Violet,' has decided to return her award from the African American Film Critics" Association, Roger Friedman reported Friday for the Hollywood Reporter's Showtime 411 blog.

Nicole Beharie won the African American Film Critics Association award for 'Best Actress' in 'American Violet.' In reaction to the controversy over the award, "Three founding members of the AAFCA — Shawn Edwards of FOX-TV, Wilson Morales of Blackvoices and Mike Sargent WBAI-FM/ — have seceded and formed a new group, the Black Film Critics Circle," Melena Ryzik reported late Friday for the New York Times.

Friedman wrote of Beharie, "She’s sent me this email via her publicist: 'I’ve been informed that there was a disagreement over the AAFCA Best Actress Award. Because of the discrepancy, I am returning the award. Gabourey Sidibe is an extraordinary actress in a film that I absolutely loved. I wish her all the best.'

"You may recall that on December 22, 2009 I wrote about the controversy within the AAFCA. Members of the group were furious because Gabourey Sidibe, of 'Precious,' actually finished first on the majority of the ballots. For reasons that are unclear, the group’s chief, Gil Robertson, instead announced Beharie as the winner."

As reported on Dec. 28, Robertson denied allegations that Sidibe was denied the group's "Best Actress" award, attributing the charges to disgruntled former members.

Robertson told Journal-isms on Saturday that he had not received notification that Beharie had returned the award, wished the new group well, and said:

"AAFCA stands behind its collective decision to honor Ms. Beharie with their highest acting honors for her performance in 'American Violet.' AAFCA regrets that the actions and accusations of four of its former members [have] tainted the joy of this recognition.

"Mr. Tennenbaum, Ms. Beharie’s manager, threatened to release a statement 'giving back' the award if the organization didn’t show him the ballots. AAFCA balloting has been secret since 2003, and will continue to be so.

"We had hoped that Ms. Beharie [would keep] her 2009 AAFCA Award for Best Actress with full confidence that it was given by a majority of the org’s membership for her riveting performance."

Morales told the Times, "There was nothing gray, there was no close vote." Asked why Robertson might have changed the vote, Morales said: "We never got an explanation, we don’t know."

The Times story added, "The new group, which includes five other former AAFCA members from around the country, will officially make its debut on Feb. 1 for Black History Month, and will name its 10 best films each year, in addition to other prizes." [Added Jan. 9]

NABJ to Consider Leaving Accreditation Council

The National Association of Black Journalists is considering pulling out of the major accrediting council for college journalism, a decision that would leave none of the journalist of color organizations on the body.

Jackie JonesThe Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and NABJ sat on the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication as one way to ensure that diversity remains a priority in college journalism programs, both in staffing and curriculum.

The groups fought to be included, but finances have become an issue.

"We are taking a second look at any expense that is not an essential service," Kathy Times, president of NABJ, told Journal-isms on Friday. "The board will be approving the NABJ budget this month and will decide if it wants to continue paying $4,000 for the ACEJMC membership."

When AAJA withdrew in 2006, the dues were $5,000. AAJA cited the cost, and the then-accreditation council president, Saundra Keyes, flew to the association's annual meeting in Hawaii to urge it to stay. NAHJ left in 2007 "in protest over their failure to vigorously apply the standards that would have been required for significant diversity gains in the 10 years of our membership." The same year, NLGJA decided to leave, but reversed itself.

Jackie Jones, NABJ's longtime representative on the council, opposes withdrawal.

"I know that the Accrediting Council dues are a big nut for any organization, especially a nonprofit service organization like NABJ. That said, I believe it is important that NABJ is at the table," she said. "We are the only minority industry association still there and besides bragging rights, I honestly believe we've been a valuable presence.

"ACEJMC is committed to diversity and I don't expect that to change, but NABJ's mission is not only to see that black professionals are in the industry and are valued and sought out as major contributors, but also to see that black students are recruited, retained, trained and graduated into the industry and that the message of diversity is clearly represented throughout programs of journalism and mass comm, from students and faculty to curriculum and — whether directly or by influence — in student media."

Referring to historically black colleges and universities, she said, "The accreditation process opens a window through which NABJ can see how to assist HBCU programs seeking accreditation, if necessary, and to assist majority programs that are struggling to meet the diversity standard. It's a great way to partner with the academic community and while I understand NABJ's financial picture, I think it is important that we remain on the Council."

Other journalists and educators of color are still on the panel, however, including a representative of the Black College Communication Association. Peter Bhatia of the Oregonian in Portland, who of South Asian descent, is president of the council and Jannette Dates, dean of the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University, who is African American, is vice president.

From left: David Boardman, Thom Fladung, Susan Goldberg and Bernard Lunzer


ASNE Fixes Diversity Panel That Lacked Diversity

"Diversity and downsizing: Can the two coexist?" asked the promotion for a Jan. 26 panel to be conducted by the American Society of News Editors.

Pictured were three panelists — David Boardman, Thom Fladung, Bernard Lunzer — and its moderator, Susan Goldberg.

A member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists wrote Journal-isms asking, "Is it me or I am missing something. What’s wrong with this picture?"

All the panelists were white, as they are in many such panels assembled throughout the industry. But this time, when called to the sponsor's attention, the response was different.

"You're right," responded Richard Karpel, ASNE's executive director. "We made a mistake by not including a person of color. We're going to rectify that. Debra Adams Simmons, managing editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and former editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, will join the panel. We will also seek a representative from AAJA," the Asian American Journalists Association. "Thanks for bringing it to our attention." Adams Simmons is African American.

NAJA Leader Blasts Michael Steele's "Injun" Remark

Ronnie Washines"The head of the Native American Journalists Association is calling on Michael Steele to apologize for his 'scurrilous tongue' in the wake of a derogatory statement the RNC Chairman made about Native Americans," as Sam Stein wrote Friday for the Huffington Post.

"Ronnie Washines, who heads the association, accused Steele of resorting to 'uneducated archaic racist remarks' when he used the phrase 'Honest Injun' on Sean Hannity's radio show to underscore his support for the RNC's document of principles.

“I am thoroughly outraged that the leader of the National Republican Party would use such repulsive language on national television," Washines said.

"Those of us in journalism have tirelessly worked to ensure that political leaders, newsrooms and the public be respectful to all cultures when speaking [publicly]. Michael Steele’s scurrilous tongue does no service to his group and only undermines the positive work of those who sincerely seek to respect one another in all of our working relationships. I urge Michael Steele to carefully word a sincere apology to the Native American community, which could help stop such uneducated archaic racist remarks from being made in the future. We here at NAJA are available to assist him and his organization with obtaining an accurate understanding of Native America.”

Stein noted, "Washines's rebuke comes days after similar push back was offered by Rep. Dale Kildee, (D-Mich), who co-chairs the Congressional Native American Caucus."

Columnists Unanimous on Gilbert Arenas' Gunplay

"It's difficult to imagine any more laughter coming from Gilbert Arenas on this matter of having guns in the locker room," the hometown columnist, Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post, wrote Thursday about the Washington Wizards' star player.

"It's safe to assume there will be no more pulling a fake trigger for the cameras, no more Twittering, no more seeing this gun episode as another prank. Even Arenas knows the laughter stops when NBA Commissioner David Stern says you are suspended indefinitely. Wednesday, funny turned into career threatening."

J. Freedom du Lac, a Post colleague, reported Friday, "In Washington, the story of Gilbert Arenas and his guns is yet another in a long line of sports embarrassments for a town that has a tough time finding winners. But in the rest of the country, the news that the Washington Wizards' star guard displayed his guns in the team locker room — and the utter lack of seriousness with which Arenas and his teammates handled the incident in the ensuing days — is being perceived as a morality play about thuggish behavior in the NBA, race and the age-old debate over athletes' responsibility to young fans."

"Much of Freelancing Has Become All Too Free"

"Today's reality is that much of freelancing has become all too free," media writer James Rainey wrote Wednesday for the Los Angeles Times.

"Seasoned professionals have seen their income drop by 50% or more as publishers fill the Web's seemingly limitless news hole, drawing on the ever-expanding rank of under-employed writers.

"The crumbling pay scales have not only hollowed out household budgets but accompanied a pervasive shift in journalism toward shorter stories, frothier subjects and an increasing emphasis on fast, rather than thorough.

" 'There are a lot of stories that are being missed, not just at legacy newspapers and TV stations but in the freelance world,' said Nick Martin, 27, laid off a year ago by the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz., and now a freelancer. 'A lot of publications used to be able to pay freelancers to do really solid investigations. There's just not much of that going on anymore.'

"Another writer, based in Los Angeles, said she has been troubled by the lighter fare that many websites prefer to drive up traffic. A new take on any youth obsessions ('Put "Twilight" in the headline, get paid') has much more chance of winning editorial approval than more complex or substantive material.

"The rank of stories unwritten — like most errors of omission — is hard to conceive. Even those inside journalism can only guess at what stories they might have paid for, if they had more money."

With 'You Send Me' in 1957, Sam Cooke became the first African American to reach No. 1 on both the R&B and pop charts. (Video)

Sam Cooke Documentary Debuts Monday on PBS

After Sam Cooke was shot to death at age 32 in 1964, his record company told listeners that "Sam Cooke lives on in his songs." Every time "A Change Is Gonna Come," "You Send Me" or "Chain Gang" airs, it proves the company right.

On Monday, PBS' "American Masters" series debuts "Sam Cooke: Crossing Over," an hour documentary on a gospel-turned-pop singer who, the documentary says, was the first black crossover singer, the first African American to have his own record label, the first black man to go to RCA Records with a $1 million contract, and a man who, in 1963, had stopped straightening his hair and refused to appear at segregated concerts.

Made over 10 years, the film features Danny Glover, Muhammad Ali, Herb Alpert, James Brown, Dick Clark, Smokey Robinson, Jerry Wexler, Billy Preston and others, some of whom died before the film could be completed. Check local listings for airtimes.

Short Takes

  • John Paton, 52, chairman, chief executive and president of impreMedia LLC, the top news and information company serving Hispanics that he co-founded in 2003, was named chief executive officer Thursday of the Journal Register Company, owner of The Oakland (Mich.) Press and other properties, the Oakland Press reported. "In 2009, Editor & Publisher magazine recognized Paton for transforming what was a legacy news media organization into a modern multi-platform company by naming him 'Publisher of the Year.' He was also named a 'Media All-Star' by AdWeek magazine's Marketing y Medios."
  • Foon Rhee, the Boston Globe‚Äôs deputy national political editor, was due to leave the paper Friday for the Sacramento (Calif.), Bee, where he is to be associate editor, serving on the editorial board and writing editorials, media writer Dan Kennedy reported on his Web site. Kennedy quoted a memo from Washington bureau chief Chris Rowland, who said, "There is no positive way to spin this, so I won‚Äôt try: it is wretched news for the Washington Bureau, and he will be deeply missed." Rhee, a native of South Korea, worked at the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer and the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. "At The Globe, most recently he covered national politics, the White House and Congress," the Sacramento Business Journal said.
  • WCBS-TV reporter Pablo Guzman last week recalled the time the late Percy Sutton and R. Peter Straus, then the head of WMCA Radio, put up the bail after Guzman and Felipe Luciano were arrested in 1970. Guzman and Luciano were then members of the Young Lords, an activist Puerto Rican community group. Sutton, New York power broker and co-founder of Inner-City Broadcasting, died Dec. 26 at age 89.
  • Sewell Chan, New York Times metro reporter and bureau chief of the City Room blog, is heading for the Times' Washington bureau. He's being replaced by Andy Newman. Metro editors Joe Sexton and Wendell Jamieson called Chan a "genius, a reporter who took a mighty dare with a new genre, inhabited it, and remade it. City Room, sometimes called a blog, was and is, of course, way more than that. And Sewell, its creator and conscience and beating heart from Day 1, was no less than all of that." Chan told Journal-isms he would be part of the economic policy team.
  • Shiho FukadaShiho Fukada, a freelance photojournalist who has been working in China since 2008, when an earthquake struck Sichuan Province, won an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellowship to study "Japan‚Äôs Disposable Workers." "The Times nominated her poignant photographs for a Pulitzer Prize in breaking news," Miki Meek reported Monday in the New York Times.
  • Sportswriter A.J. Perez, one of 26 laid off in the newsroom at USA Today in December, has landed at AOL Fanhouse. "I'm a national reporter, a new general assignment position created by Fanhouse. I'll be covering everything from 'roids to hockey," Perez told Journal-isms on Friday.
  • A memorial service for Deborah Howell, the former Washington Post ombudsman and Minnesota editor who died Jan. 1 in a New Zealand accident, is scheduled for Jan. 23 at 11 a.m. at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown St Paul, Minn., the church confirmed. A funeral takes place Jan. 15 in Washington. The Native American Journalists Association joined the tributes, saying Thursday, "she helped provide funding to aspiring Native Journalists through the Newhouse Foundation Scholarship Program. Howell assisted NAJA with more than $350,000 dollars in scholarships that were awarded to Native American journalism students throughout the country."
  • Last week, "the staff of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger invited a group of African American journalists who work for African American-owned publications to his campaign headquarters ‚Äî but he didn't show up," Lisa Donovan reported Thursday in the Chicago Sun-Times. Glenn Reedus, "one of the veteran journalists in attendance said they listened as campaigners talked about how the mainstream media hadn't given Stroger a fair shake." "Do I talk to other groups, outside of black journalists and not invite you?" Stroger said later, according to Donovan. "Yes. Do I talk to the Pakistani Times? Yes. Do I talk to Hoy without you? Yes. I talk to all kinds of different groups without you."
  • "If it hadn't been for vaqueros, John Wayne wouldn't have had a place to hang his famous hat," the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman editorial page, led by Arnold Garcia, wrote on Thursday. "Texas' first cowboys and the imagery they evoke to this day owe their existence to Mexican vaqueros who showed Anglos how to rope and ride and injected words into the Southwest's version of English." The editorial applauded a unanimous vote by the State Preservation Board "to acknowledge the state's Hispanic roots with a 33-foot-long bronze monument to be placed on the South lawn of the Capitol. The Tejano monument features a vaquero and longhorns. It also depicts a family and a Spanish explorer."
  • "One year after the inauguration of the first African-American President, MSNBC will present 'Obama‚Äôs America: 2010 and Beyond,' Jan. 18, 10 p.m.-12 a.m. ET, an extended discussion surrounding race and post-racial identity in America. Moderated by 'Hardball‚Äôs' Chris Matthews and featuring radio host Tom Joyner, live from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, this two-hour special event on Martin Luther King Day will explore some of the most pressing and provocative issues connected to race and race relations in the U.S.," NBC announced on Thursday.
  • "Mervin R. Aubespin has been named the 2010 recipient of Louisville's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award," Sheldon S. Shafer reported Thursday in the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal. Aubespin, 72, is a former editor and reporter for the Courier-Journal and a past president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Mayor Jerry Abramson is to present the award, which is given by the city, on Jan. 17.
  • Ali Velshi"Seeking to bolster its daytime lineup, CNN is making another anchor switch for the new year," Matea Gold reported Friday in the Los Angeles Times."The network is giving chief business correspondent Ali Velshi his own daily show from 10 a.m. to noon, a time slot currently anchored by Kyra Phillips, who will take over the 6 to 8 a.m. slot. Heidi Collins, who had been anchoring 'CNN Newsroom' during that time, is leaving the network after nearly eight years." Velshi, born in Kenya and raised in Toronto, has been active in the South Asian Journalists Association.
  • "Maurice Hope-Thompson, familiar to a generation of listeners for his public affairs program on KTSU, was found dead at his home Monday. He was 68," Jeannie Kever reported Wednesday for the Houston Chronicle. "He had multiple myeloma but had been doing well, said his daughter, Maria Birdsong. Hope-Thompson, a native of Jamaica, worked as a newspaper reporter in upstate New York before earning a law degree from Boston College in 1980. But friends say he found his true calling in Houston, where he taught at Texas Southern University and hosted a long-running program at the school's radio station."
  • Erin Aubry Kaplan, a Los Angeles writer who was born and raised in South Central, argued Thursday in the Los Angeles Times against what she calls the latest "ghettotainment": L.A. Gang Tours. "At the very least, the tour's marketing sends mixed messages and raises the question of whether it's even possible at this point to distinguish between showcasing the 'hood for altruistic reasons and showcasing it for titillation," she wrote. Founder Alfred Lomas "says the tour is not geared to outsiders. Why, then, run a tour at all, especially one that charges $65 a ticket?"
  • "Audrey Smaltz, Ebony Fashion Fair‚Äôs legendary commentator, reminisces about hitting the road with the doyenne of black fashion" reads's blurb Wednesday for a tribute to Eunice W. Johnson, the founder of the Ebony Fashion Fair who died Sunday at age 93.

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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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race convo in the media

your column on the race convo is like you were listening to my monologue. i agree totally! --rob

Botching Discussion on Race

The reason that society is incapable of addressing the racial issue is because we view it from a perspective which is not conducive to real analysis. We talk all around the fundamental, underlying reasons for racism, and make it an emotional issue. How does one expect to cure the cancer without focusing on the cancerous cells and the biological reasons for cancer? Focusing on the symptoms is an ineffective mechanism to employ. Racism serves a far more complex pragmatic function than we are generally willing to acknowledge.

CNN appearance - last word

Hey Richard, I just saw your appearance on CNN during the Harry Reid comment segment. I'm glad you had the last word which was a very important one: "We need people in the media who understand all this." However, at the start of this new year I wonder how many journalists of color will lose their jobs as so many did last year. As the country becomes more brown and black every day and as we approach one of the most important stories of the decade and beyond, the 2010 Census, how many people of color will be in newsrooms to illustrate the ways trends and demographics affect people of color? Our numbers are surely declining along with our needed voice and perspective in newsrooms. I'm glad you made that point on CNN today. Sherri Williams Writer/Reporter

CNN appearance - last word

Hey Richard, I just saw your appearance on CNN during the Harry Reid comment segment. I'm glad you had the last word which was a very important one: "We need people in the media who understand all this." However, at the start of this new year I wonder how many journalists of color will lose their jobs as so many did last year. As the country becomes more brown and black every day and as we approach one of the most important stories of the decade and beyond, the 2010 Census, how many people of color will be in newsrooms to illustrate the ways trends and demographics affect people of color? Our numbers are surely declining along with our needed voice and perspective in newsrooms. I'm glad you made that point on CNN today. Sherri Williams Writer/Reporter

A Modest Expiation for Senator Reid

Senator Reid’s ‘Game Changer’ remarks on Barack Obama were more a commentary on White America and the Illinois Senator’s 2008 electability (outside of Texas and Arizona, at least) than they were any intentional deprecation of Black Americans. If Reid’s Republican colleagues believe greater expiation is required of Nevada’s senior Senator, they should force the Senate Majority Leader to call up the Cornyn-Kyl Black Americans Reparations and Historic Recovery Act for a vote and Senate passage on Juneteenth this year – even if it must be presented in the form of a Leadership Substitute Bill or Amendment. Hank Adams Olympia, WA 360-923-9118

Thank you for your column.

Thank you for your column. "We need people in the media who understand all this." Is Sen. Reid wrong? After all, with the exception of Dan Lothian, just look at the majority of CNN's "diverse" talent... (And I'm not talking about "contributors." I'm talking about "anchors" like O'Brien, Lemon, Holmes, Malveaux, Whitfield, etc.)

Lack of diversity among talking heads.

Every time an issue involving race pops up, the media runs to the same people. (Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or some other politician) The views on Race in america are too diverse to be represented by the same people all the time. How can progress be made if you don't allow other views to get out.

Sounds like another corporate media cover up on Greg Peppers

There is always two sides of a story and when in Rome do the obvious "smear a good mans name". These tactics of saying that a person is fired but in reality he quit the job. "reasons hummm let me see maybe because he is too black for the audience" or maybe he was a capable person of handling a job and taking on adversity while corporate leaders fight an outdated cause. Remember spike lee "fight the powers that be". Well maybe that is what an courageous Gary Peppers did and because you have a highly qualified executive whom out grown this NPR Management...they didn't want to look" Racist". Just a thought....

What Race Do Adopted Persons With Sealed Birth Certificates Put?

Recently, I found the 2010 Census form hanging on my door. As I began filling it out, I came across a dilemma. The U.S. government wants to know if my children are adopted or not and it wants to know what our races are. Being adopted myself, I had to put “Other” and “Don’t Know Adopted” for my race and “Other” and “Don’t Know” for my kids’ races. Can you imagine not knowing your ethnicity, your race? Now imagine walking into a vital records office and asking the clerk for your original birth certificate only to be told “No, you can’t have it, it’s sealed.” How about being presented with a “family history form” to fill out at every single doctor’s office visit and having to put “N/A Adopted” where life saving information should be? Imagine being asked what your nationality is and having to respond with “I don’t know”. It is time that the archaic practice of sealing and altering birth certificates of adopted persons stops. Adoption is a 5 billion dollar, unregulated industry that profits from the sale and redistribution of children. It turns children into chattel who are re-labeled and sold as “blank slates”. Genealogy, a modern-day fascination, cannot be enjoyed by adopted persons with sealed identities. Family trees are exclusive to the non-adopted persons in our society. If adoption is truly to return to what is best for a child, then the rights of children to their biological identities should NEVER be violated. Every single judge that finalizes an adoption and orders a child’s birth certificate to be sealed should be ashamed of him/herself. I challenge all readers: Ask the adopted persons that you know if their original birth certificates are sealed.

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