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"Teddy Was a Lion for Civil Rights"

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Online, "Good News" Is Said to Gain Legitimacy

How Black Men Can Survive Their Trial by Television


President Obama and Sen. Ted Kennedy on the White House grounds in April. "For his family, he was a guardian. For America, he was the defender of a dream," Obama said on Wednesday. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)

Journalists Scurry to Put Kennedy in Perspective

The death overnight of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., had journalists scurrying on Wednesday to put the life of the last surviving Kennedy brother into historical perspective.

Online, NBC's was first out with a piece with people of color as its point of reference, "Teddy was a lion for civil rights," by frequent commentator Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University.

"Many of us once joked that Bill Clinton was the 'first black president' (which he wasn't)," it began. "We had it wrong. If such a title were to be given to any white man, that should have to be the late Senator Ted Kennedy. He was never president of the United States, but he was certainly one of the kings of his generation.

"As a member of the Senate since 1962, Senator Kennedy had a long career fighting for those forced to live in the underbelly of a capitalist society. Over the last 47 years, he has done it better than nearly any politician in American history.

"African-Americans were among the many beneficiaries of his passionate life's work, and for that, we will always be appreciative."

The story, time-stamped at 5:45 a.m., was readied in advance, Grio spokesman Dan Woolsey told Journal-isms.

Other news outlets had more general-interest pieces, or, in the case of most Web sites targeting people of color, initially none at all. An exception was AOL Black Voices, which began a reader discussion early Wednesday morning.

Cognizant of Kennedy's illness, some had their offerings ready.

Ted Kennedy (Credit: © Jason Miccolo Johnson)

Time magazine said it would publish a commemorative issue on Kennedy to hit newsstands on Friday. Kerri Chyka, a Time representative, acknowledged there would be no participation by African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans or Native Americans in the Kennedy remembrances.

Online, the Boston Globe put together a special package that included a timeline of Kennedy's life and a video in which reporter Peter Canellos discussed the legacies of Kennedy's older brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

The Globe literally stopped the presses at about 1:30 a.m. to change the paper's front page and several inside pages after the news broke at about 1:25 a.m., Joe Strupp reported for Editor & Publisher.

The paper's lead story, by Martin F. Nolan, began, "Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who carried aloft the torch of a Massachusetts dynasty and a liberal ideology to the citadel of Senate power, but whose personal and political failings may have prevented him from realizing the ultimate prize of the presidency, died at his home in Hyannis Port last night after a battle with brain cancer. He was 77."  

CBS News announced it would air an hourlong primetime special Wednesday, "Ted Kennedy, the Last Brother," anchored by Katie Couric, at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time.

Included will be Kennedy talking to the late CBS correspondent Ed Bradley about the amputation of Kennedy's 12-year-old son's leg due to cancer, CBS said. "A prideful Kennedy shows Bradley one of his favorite pictures, that of his son Teddy Jr. racing in a handicapped skier's race, with a note that says:

''A favor to Dad, who taught me that you can always be a winner.''

NBC will broadcast a special one-hour, live "Nightly News" anchored by Brian Williams in Hyannis Port, Mass., and ABC will broadcast a one-hour special called "Remembering Ted Kennedy" anchored by Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson at 10 p.m. ET, according to TV Newser.

National Public Radio announced two specials on Kennedy, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time and beginning at 7 p.m. Scholar Ronald Walters is among those on the 2 p.m. broadcast; senior news analyst Juan Williams is to be on the later one.

Meanwhile, other journalists reacted on their Facebook pages. Jose Antonio Vargas, a former Washington Post reporter now with the Huffington Post, recalled writing in the Post about the Kennedy Center honors four years ago. "i complimented his 'full-throated baritone' way deep in the story. a few days later, he sent a signed note, thanking the shout-out. i treasure it," Vargas wrote.

"I was honored to cover the signing of the Kennedy Serve America Act where President Obama and Sen Kennedy came into SE DC just four months ago," wrote Hamil Harris, a current Post reporter.

"I heard him speak at an NAACP convention in 1980, and it was electrifying. He was a man of flaws, no doubt, but his family was an American tragedy, and I do believe his heart was in the fight. That's more than can be said of far too many politicians," Tananarive Due, a former reporter and Los Angeles-based novelist, offered.

Commentator Roland Martin told Facebook friends he was about to interview Democratic Party strategist Donna Brazile on radio's "Tom Joyner Morning Show."

April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, said, "The seas would part when he walked into the room or on the South Lawn for an event."

"My most vivid memory of Ted Kennedy is of being in the press gallery in Madison Square Garden when he made his 'the dream will never die' speech to the Democratic National Convention in 1980," wrote the Cincinnati Enquirer's Howard Wilkinson, who was then working at the Troy (Ohio) Daily News. "The whole building shook. Never heard another political speech like it, before or since. And I've heard a few."

Others posted a YouTube video of Kennedy singing "Ay Jalisco No Te Rajes" in Spanish during last year's presidential campaign.  

Not all the comments were about the journalists' professional lives. Bruce Johnson, veteran reporter at Washington's WUSA-TV, said, "Going to honor Senator Ted Kennedy by doing some public service work today. Anybody else want in? Find a cause. Do something!"

And others said the most fitting memorial would be passing health care reform.

New Vibe Owners Pick King Magazine's Hall as Editor

Jermaine Hall "The rapid resurrection of Vibe magazine continues: on Monday the new owners of the revived hip-hop and R&B magazine said that they had chosen Jermaine Hall as the editor in chief of Vibe and its Web site,," Dave Itzkoff wrote Tuesday for the New York Times.

"Mr. Hall has previously served as the editor in chief of King magazine, a monthly title geared towards African-American men which ceased publication earlier this year. He was also music editor at the rap music magazine The Source and the webmaster at Vibe."

"In a telephone interview, Brett Wright, the co-chief executive of the Vibe Lifestyle Network, described Mr. Hall as 'a very good writer and a well-connected journalist.' Mr. Wright said that going forward, would provide coverage of urban music and entertainment on a 'regular, daily, hourly, by-minute basis' while the print magazine would focus on investigative reporting and long form stories. Overall, Mr. Wright said he wanted the Vibe brand to continue to serve the 'hip-hop generation” while it expanded its music coverage to include more R&B, reggae, dancehall and pop, as well as other 'things it had gotten away from' in the arenas of entertainment, fashion and sports.

"The first issue of the new quarterly Vibe magazine is planned for a November release. The long-running publication shut down in June when its previous owners said they could not find new buyers or restructure the company’s debt."

King magazine was heavy on skin, but Hall defended the magazine by saying, "we hold ourselves to a higher journalistic standard."

Asians Denounce Magazine's "Asian-Girl Fantasy" Piece

"Call it the Woody Allen Effect. When the venerable director scandalously left Mia Farrow for her adopted daughter, South Korean-born Soon-Yi Previn — 35 years his junior — he may as well have sent out a press release: Asian-girl fantasy trumps that of Hollywood royalty!" Ying Chu wrote in Marie Claire magazine, reaping a backlash from readers who found the piece stereotypical.

"Not two years after they tied the knot, media baron Rupert Murdoch walked down the aisle with fresh-faced Wendi Deng — 17 days after finalizing his divorce from his second wife. Then, CBS head Leslie Moonves wed TV news anchor Julie Chen; Oscar winner Nicolas Cage married half-his-age third wife Alice Kim; billionaire George Soros coupled up with violinist Jennifer Chun; and producer Brian Grazer courted concert pianist Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen. Add the nuptials of investment magnate Bruce Wasserstein to fourth wife Angela Chao and the pending vows between venture capitalist Vivi Nevo and Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang, and we've got a curious cultural ripple.

". . . Enter the doll-faced Asian sylph on the arm of a silver-haired Western suit. (Hello, mail-order bride!) The excruciating colonial stereotypes — Asian women as submissive, domestic, hypersexual — are obviously nothing new. But decades after The World of Suzie Wong hit drive-ins and more than 20 years since David Bowie's 'China Girl' topped the music charts, why are we still indulging them?"

Sing Tao Daily, a Hong Kong-based publication with seven overseas operations, reported last week that "Asian-American journalists described such comments as offensive and stereotypical. Jeff Yang, a magazine founder, defended Asian women, saying women like Rupert Murdoch’s wife, Wendi Deng, Bruce Wasserstein’s wife, Angela Chao, and actress Ziyi Zhang, who were mentioned in the commentary, all have successful careers and should not be depicted with the stereotypical Asian women image. Taiwan Times reporter, Catherine Chu, also said she found the commentary problematic because it portrays Asian females as weak and materialistic social climbers."

From left, Craig Melvin, Tony McNary, Duarte Geraldino, Andre Showell and Demarco Morgan. They tell black men starting out in television, "You want people to respect, not fear you. The fear comes naturally because, well, we are who we are."

How Black Men Can Survive Their Trial by Television

"A talent drought is sweeping the nation as newsrooms nationwide face a shortage of black male journalists. This panel provides a makeover for the young black journalist to both survive and thrive.

"Very often hostile work environments, financial struggles, and social temptations drive young black journalists out of newsrooms and into professions where they feel they'll get greater respect and bigger paychecks. But often, if they can stick it out through that early trial period, a promising career is within reach."

With that program introduction, five journalists tried to guide younger black men in survival techniques at a panel at the National Association of Black Journalists convention this month in Tampa, Fla., "Man Makeover: Saving the Black Male Journalist During Uncertain Times."

"Most/all of the panelists made it to top ten markets before their 30th birthdays and are still trying to figure things out for themselves," the moderator, Andre Showell of BET News, told Journal-isms via e-mail. "But we noticed some of the guys just a few years younger than us making common mistakes that take them out of the game from the start. We are writing a book on the subject matter set to be published by early next year. Copies will be in hand next NABJ" convention.

With Showell were Duarte Geraldino of KRIV-TV in Houston; Tony McNary of WGCL-TV in Atlanta; Craig Melvin of WRC-TV in Washington; and Demarco Morgan of WNBC-TV, New York.

They compiled these tips on a handout:

  • 1. QUANTIFY, QUANTIFY, QUANTIFY: Develop a record-keeping system (spreadsheet, calendar, whatever works best for you). Spot trends in your performance by keeping track of the following on a daily basis:

  • 1. Where does my story appear in the newscast?

    2. Was it hard news, feature, breaking, "only on . . .?"

    3. Did I pitch the story I covered?

    4. How many stories did I pitch?

    5. Was someone assigned a story I pitched?

    (After two months of gathering data, you'll get a solid impression of where you stand in the newsroom. This information will help you during promotion discussions.)

  • 2. SPREAD GOOD GOSSIP: Talk about co-workers always gets back to them. However, if you don't gossip, people will think you are strange because you‚Äôre not interested in what is going on with your co-workers. So why not spread good news? If someone contributes to one of your projects, praise him or her and in a subtle way highlight the person's contribution to your joint success. Tell people about it. When the rumor gets back to its subject, he or she will be pleased and your co-workers will associate you with good news and success.

  • 3. KNOW THAT MAKING IT TAKES TALENT AND TIME: Dues must be paid. It's easy to get impatient when you're just starting out and there's a frequent disconnect between where you are professionally and where you think you should be. Patience isn't merely a virtue. When you're starting out in our business, it's absolutely essential. There are countless stories of "big-time" anchors and reporters who started out pulling cable, copying scripts or logging tape. They weren't always necessarily blessed with boatloads of talent, but they all had a healthy amount of patience and perseverance.

  • 4. CULTIVATE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS: Work hard to form a network of professional friendships that can be used to review your work, offer constructive criticism, and bounce ideas off of. This is also the same group you'll call to vent and complain. Often we wonder, "How in the world did that guy land that job?" There's a good chance he had a relationship with a decision-maker. Sometimes your tape might get you an interview, but there are a lot of good tapes that never get seen. The adage still rings true: It's not always what you know . . .

  • 5. CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES WISELY: Don‚Äôt be the angry black man. You want people to respect, not fear you. The fear comes naturally because, well, we are who we are. If you decide to battle on the job, remember that this is a business, so try not to take it personally. Control your emotions, your voice, and most importantly your actions.

  • 6. STAND OUT AS THE GO-TO GUY: Not the shy guy, not the guy who gets all the features, not the guy no one wants to work with and not the guy who comes to the editorial meetings with ideas from the newspaper. As a black man, you will stand out anyway. Make sure it‚Äôs in a positive way.

  • 7. KNOW HOW TO HANDLE BOTH PRAISE AND CRITICISM: Too much praise and criticism can be dangerous because both, in excess, may distort how we assess our work. Some bosses will love us, others will hate us, but in the end if you allow someone's subjective opinion to steer you off course, it will drive you crazy. Stay focused by adopting a MEASURED response to both applause and put-downs.

  • 8. AVOID ACCUSATIONS OF RACISM WHEN POSSIBLE: If you believe you're the victim of racism on the job, first try to discuss the matter without bringing race into it. Sometimes people shut down when the "R" word is mentioned, so you may get better results by framing the discussion around what is "reasonable" or "fair" rather than race. Racism should be confronted, but unless it can be proved, use discretion.

  • 9. KNOW WHEN TO STAY AND WHEN TO LEAVE: We're often challenged in our newsrooms, especially in the very beginning of our careers, when we are trying to prove ourselves and define who we are as journalists. The first thing that comes to mind is, "I can't wait to get the hell out of here!" "My producer is crazy!" "My executive producer isn't fair." "My news director doesn't understand." Sometimes leaving too soon is the worst decision and leaving at the right time can make your career. Focus on growth and refuse to make permanent decisions for what very well may be a temporary situation. Sometimes you'll max out and your manager wants to keep you in a box. Move! Even though it may seem uncomfortable, your biggest blessing may be a market away.

  • 10. TRUST NO ONE: This tip may seem impossible because there are moments when we have no other choice but to lean on one another for facts and career guidance. However, being naive and thinking everyone has your back can be your biggest downfall. Just because they look like you doesn‚Äôt mean they are for you. Be mindful even about what your boss tells you. Try to think like a manager and you'll never go wrong. Also, watch the shoulders you cry on at work and the relationships you form. Remember that dating co-workers can lead to a world of trouble. At the end of the day, the only one you can really trust is YOURSELF.


Online, "Good News" Is Said to Gain Legitimacy

"The bad news is that the mainstream media too many times still lag behind the times when it comes to fully diverse reporting of the spectrum of news — good and bad — about African Americans," Jackie Jones a career and life coach who writes for, wrote Tuesday for, Web site of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

"The real story is that the Internet is changing that. In fact, cyber-news is increasingly informing traditional media coverage, and providing more lenses through which to view our world," she continued.

"One example is in the coverage of young black people doing positive things, being led by black adults who are doing positive things, and the fact that this is increasingly recognized as 'legitimate' news.

". . . The blogosphere is where black achievement can be touted and become the engine that drives mainstream media to take notice and young African Americans hold the key to it in the palm of their collective hand," wrote Jones, who has worked as a reporter and editor at several mainstream newspapers.

"Fewer and fewer people use desktop computers at home and so much information can be uploaded to cell phones, that young folk are less likely to lug laptops around. Mobile devices make phone calls, take photos, send and receive e-mails, call up travel directions and can send a short message to dozens, if not hundreds, of people at once.

"According to a Pew Institute and American Life Project study, African Americans are the most avid users of wireless Internet and their use of the mobile Web is growing faster than any other group."

. . . 7 Groups the Media Pretend "Don’t Exist"

"The vast majority of coverage of Black people sticks to easily digestible narrative themes: Overcoming adversity, committing violent crime, engaging in secret elitism, complaining of real or imagined victimization by The Man, allowing the family unit to disintegrate, and so on — these are the types of Black people stories we’ve come to know and love," writer Ashton Lattimore contended Tuesday on the new NewsOne for Black America Web site.

"And when some subset of people doesn’t fit into one of these pre-set narratives? Well, they get the Loch Ness monster treatment: Some kooky blog or other disreputable source might rant and rave about their existence and importance, but you won’t find CNN or the New York Times taking much notice. But we true believers, we know they’re out there. And so I present without further ado, 7 Groups Of People The Media [Pretend] Don’t Exist."

He listed them as: The black middle class; gay black people; missing persons who aren’t white and female; non-Christian black people; educated, married black women; Africans who are not poor, starving, and living in small villages, and black police officers.

Station Says Its News Crew Attacked with Hoe

"Two underage teenage girls were arrested for dancing semi-nude in a Coca Beach strip club on Friday night. The attorney for the club, 'Playmates,' said both girls presented fake ids, indicating that they were over 18, the legal age to be an exotic dancer in the State of Florida," WOFL-TV in Orlando reported.

"Police said the girls were wearing 'tiny bikini-type outfits' and that they had been working at the club for months.

"When a FOX 35 crew arrived at a Cocoa home to seek out relatives of one of the underage dancers, an older woman answered the door shouting expletives.

"The woman then chased the crew off the property with a garden hoe, striking at a cameraman from another television station.

"Not long after the confrontation with that woman, another woman contacted FOX 35 reporter Holly Bristow, claiming that she was a sister of one of the dancers. She said the publicity surrounding her sister’s arrest resulted in her to be 'kicked out of school.'"

Short Takes

  • The Arts & Entertainment network "is moving forward with a Jackson family reality series," James Hibberd wrote Tuesday for the Hollywood Reporter. "The network confirms it will produce a new series with the Jackson brothers in the wake of Michael Jackson's death. The series' working title is 'Jackson Family Dynasty.' A&E's original one-hour documentary ‚Äî shot before the singer died ‚Äî will serve as the show's first episode."
  • "Military commanders in Afghanistan are not rejecting requests from reporters who want to accompany U.S. troops in Afghanistan because their prior coverage of the military has been negative, the Pentagon said Monday," Richard Lardner reported for the Associated Press. "The denial came after the newspaper Stars and Stripes reported that The Rendon Group, a Washington-based public relations firm with a controversial past, is screening work by journalists seeking 'embed' assignments and giving them positive, neutral or negative ratings as part of a background profile.
  • The first installment of "The Cost of Incarceration," an eight-part occasional series by Patrice Gaines, former Washington Post reporter, author and co-founder of the Brown Angel Center, a program in Charlotte, N.C., that helps formerly incarcerated women become financially independent, is being made available to subscribers to the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service. Gaines received a Soros Justice Media Fellowship from the Open Society Institute to research and write articles on the impact of mass incarceration on the black community.
  • In Honduras, "Masked assailants on Monday stormed a radio station and a television outlet critical of the country's interim government, forcing the broadcasters off the air in the latest attack on the Honduran media," the Committee to Protect Journalists said. The group "called on Honduran authorities to ensure that all journalists can work safely in an increasingly polarized and violent environment."
  • Julia Yarbough,an anchor at WTVJ-TV in Miami, has resigned on her Julia Yarboughown terms, with no other immediate opportunity in sight, Renee Michelle Harris wrote for the South Florida Times. "My first and foremost priority is to just not think for a chunk of time, to let my mind wander and my body rest," the Emmy Award-winning journalist said. "I‚Äôve been in the business for almost 22 years, working a breakneck pace that whole time. And simply put, I just need to take a break for myself. I've decided that now is a good time."
  • "Don Imus will part ways with RFD-TV. The news, while not unexpected, clears the way for the radio star to proceed with a deal to have his Citadel radio show simulcast on Fox Business Network," Marisa Guthrie reported Wednesday for Broadcasting and Cable. "Imus' final show on RFD will be Aug. 28. He has been on the network since December 2007, shortly after returning to the airwaves in the wake of incendiary comments he made about the Rutgers women's basketball team."
  • "Two Ethiopian journalists were thrown in prison on Monday after a judge convicted them under an obsolete press law in connection with coverage of sensitive topics dating back several years, according to local journalists and news reports," the Committee to Protect Journalists said. "Ibrahim Mohamed Ali, editor of the weekly, Muslim-oriented newspaper Salafiyya, and Asrat Wedajo, former editor of Seife Nebelbal, a now-defunct weekly that was banned amid the 2005 government crackdown on the press, have begun serving one-year sentences at Kality Prison, outside the capital, Addis Ababa. Wedajo did not have a lawyer, but Ali's lawyer, Temam Ababulgu, told CPJ he would appeal the verdict."


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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Ted Kennedy

The Liberal Lion roars no more By Herb Boyd Special to the AmNews Sen. Edward Kennedy, last of the brothers who etched an indelible mark on American politics and among the longest serving senators in U.S. history, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. He was 77. Last week, Kennedy, suffering from brain cancer and with a premonition of his death, urged Massachusetts lawmakers to change state law and let Gov. Deval Patrick appoint a temporary replacement upon his death. Even as he lay mortally stricken, he was trying to ensure that the state’s representation would not be interrupted by a special election. This concern for the welfare of his constituents both near and afar was typical of Kennedy. He was often in the forefront of legislation and bills beneficial to African Americans, including his uncompromising stance on civil rights issues. Many Black Americans will recall his resolve to uphold the Voting Rights Act in 1968 as well as the Fair Housing Law. He made a similar stand on these issues when President Reagan was intent of weakening these rights. Even so, the senator realized that much more had to be done to ensure the permanence of civil rights laws in the nation. It remained, as he said on many occasions, “unfinished business of America.” Freedom fighters in South Africa also appreciated Kennedy for his leadership to impose economic sanctions on South Africa and its draconian apartheid system. Yes, the liberal lion roars no more but while he was here among us we heard his voice for the poor and the dispossessed. That roar will be sorely missed.

Good stuff

I read this piece. It was nice. The best thing about it is that it wasn't just informational, it dug into how he relates to people of color. There is a lack of strong black media, and this site does it better than anyone else.

Teddy Was A Lion for Civil Rights

From using the Joseph Kennedy Foundation recreational facilities built to serve poor kids growing up as a child in Harlem, to having Senator Ted Kennedy present me a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award [I still have the picture hanging on my wall] and later joining the Kennedy clan at Robert's Hickory Hill home in McLean, VA, to promoting Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Special Olympics over the years, to escorting young John F. Kennedy Jr. aboard his father's namesake aircraft carrier, I have had the immense pleasure of seeing the remarkable Kennedy family up close and personal for many years. I've watched them through tragedy and triumph, and I can say we'll never see anything like them again in our life. They had immense wealth, but instead of being self-centered like many of the privilieged, they all, especially Teddy, chose to serve those less fortunate and fight for civil and equal rights in our society. As VP Biden put it elogquently today "It wasn't about him, it was always about you." We knew this was coming, but this is a very sad day indeed. My profound condolences to the Kennedy family.

Survival Tips for Black Men

Richard, This has to be one of the best pieces that you have ever run. I mentor many young brothers and I'm going to make this recommended reading for them all.

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