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NBC's Tim Russert Collapses, Dies

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Black Anchor Denies Using N-Word: Fired Michael Scott Goes Public: "I'm Being Trashed"

Tim Russert, shown at Washington's new Newseum, was considered the consummate professional. 'Tim is the one who lured me from full-time newspapering into full-time television,' said PBS' Gwen Ifill. (Virginia Sherwood / ?Ǭ© NBC Universal, Inc)</td>

"Meet the Press" Host Has Apparent Heart Attack

"Tim Russert, NBC journalist and host of 'Meet the Press' collapsed at the NBC offices Friday and died of an apparent heart attack," the Associated Press reported Friday afternoon. "Sources say Russert was tracking 'Meet the Press' at the time. He was 58.

"According to a fire official, fire and EMS teams dispatched to NBC Studios at 1:41 p.m.

"According to an eyewitness, medicals crews were there until about 2:15, when Russert was transported to Sibley Hospital.

"NBC's Tom Brokaw says Russert's wife and son, Luke, were in Italy at the time, celebrating Luke's graduation from college."

Russer's internist, Dr. Michael A. Newman, said on MSNBC that an autopsy had found that Russert had an enlarged heart and significant coronary artery disease.

Correspondent Andrea Mitchell said the death was a reminder to journalists, who in a political campaign can exist on little sleep and fast food, that "We need to take care of ourselves."

"Russert, who also served as senior vice president and Washington bureau chief of NBC News, had moderated 'Meet the Press' since 1991 ?¢‚Ǩ' longer than any other broadcast journalist ?¢‚Ǩ' and had been with NBC News since 1984," the Radio-Television News Directors Association noted in a statement.

"'Tim was one of the outstanding journalists of our time,' said RTNDA president Barbara Cochran, who worked with Russert during her tenure as executive producer on 'Meet the Press.' 'He had a passion for news and a passion for politics and combined them in a remarkable career. He reinvigorated the Sunday morning interview format and made these programs must-viewing across the nation. He was also a generous friend and mentor who gave willingly of himself in so many ways.'"

"Tim was a stalwart journalist," said Rafael Olmeda, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, in a statement. "His passion for political journalism was unmatched."

"There are few in this business who are as revered among his peers as Tim, he was truly a giant among broadcast journalists," said Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists. "When Tim spoke, Americans listened," said NABJ's vice president of broadcast, Kathy Times.

Gwen Ifill
Gwen Ifill of PBS' "Washington Week" and "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," told Journal-isms, "I can honestly say I loved that man. Tim is the one who lured me from full-time newspapering into full-time television. He promised me he would do everything to help me succeed, and he did. And when I got the opportunity to host my own program on PBS, Tim personally intervened to allow me to be released from my contract.

"He was the best political journalist I ever met, and he absolutely got it that he could not possibly know all the ways there were to know a story. That was rare in a world where African American voices are so often devalued. When I worked for Tim, mine never was."

Ifill added: "Late on Tuesday, June 3, just as he signed off from hours of live MSNBC coverage on the night Barack Obama clinched the nomination, Tim said this:

"'I was thinking: What would I like to do tomorrow? No more primaries to cover. (chuckling) One, I'd like to be in that meeting between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But absent that, I would LOVE to teach American history in an inner-city American school tomorrow morning. How GREAT would that be? Just to look in those faces and listen to those kids ?¢‚Ǩ' what they witnessed and saw tonight.'

"Speaks for itself."

Russert and his show were the kings of the Sunday-morning talk show world, and such black journalists as Ifill and Eugene Robinson would appear occasionally. Last week, correspondent Ron Allen was part of a panel discussing the presidential campaign.

Stephanie Jones, executive director of the National Urban League Policy Institute, gave the Sunday talk shows a critical examination in a report called "Sunday Morning Apartheid." The 2006 edition, covering two years, showed that on "Meet the Press," 74 percent of the broadcasts had no black guests and 85 percent had no interviews with black guests. The competing shows had similar results.

But Jones said that in the summer of 2005, when she and a colleague asked to meet with the program's staff, NBC responded instantly and Russert himself showed up. "He was very open and very interested in the study," Jones told Journal-isms. "He had read it. He said they wanted to do better and we had an open dialogue. He did not duck away from us. That's one of the things I thought about when I heard the news" about his death.

Diversity on "Meet the Press" has improved since the 2006 study, she said.

Few who watched "Meet the Press" on April 15, 2007, will forget how Ifill challenged Russert, a frequent guest of radio host Don Imus, who was under fire and lost his show in the uproar after he called the Rutgers' women's basketball team "nappy headed hos."

"There's been radio silence from a lot of people who've done his program," Ifill said during Russert's half-hour roundtable with reporters. "Tim, we didn't hear that much from you."

"He took it," Jones said. "He did not have to do that. Some of those other shows would not put on anybody who would challenge them."

Here are thoughts about Russert from Journal-isms readers:

Columnist Deborah Mathis: "For all of us, the days are numbered. Still, we expect some people to always be there. Tim Russert was one of them. What a powerhouse of a journalist. And what was great about him was that he not only earned the acclaim, prestige and influence he enjoyed, but he worked like he had to keep earning it. That's a lesson for the ages"

Jeff Ballou of Al-Jazeera English: "Simply put, Tim was first-class, honest, gracious, and talked to anyone who would approach him regardless of their station in life.

"He was happily unimpressed, but respectful of high titles and the swanky Washington scene. At the risk of repeating what will be a familiar refrain, he cared far more about family than anything else. It was a privilege to observe and know him to a small degree as a colleague. My favorite memory of Tim was his rather lengthy talk with my mother at the annual White House Correspondents holiday party years ago. The talk was warm and I was frankly stunned at the level of detail he had tracked and critiqued my work as a then-White House beat producer for the now CONUS news service.

"I also marveled how he easily switched to things Pittsburgh and trying to genuinely get to know her ?¢‚Ǩ' as much as anyone can at these functions. She still talks about it to this day. It was finally a privilege to know him as a supportive network partner when NBC joined editorial forces with Al Jazeera. He believed in the partnership and the frontiers being created by it. I'm positively not alone for being a better reporter and person simply by watching how he worked and conducted himself."

Patrice Gaines, columnist, author and activist: "When someone is good at what they do, their goodness shines through their gender, through their race, through all the superficial human definitions we use. Tim Russert was just good."

Debbie Harrison, manager for public affairs and Web for the Advanced Medical Technology Association: "Tim Russert was a regular guy.

"I had the opportunity to meet him at an event at the National Press Club a few years ago. What I liked about him was the fact that he was a regular guy. He was very approachable. I had advance knowledge of this quality.

"When NBC news correspondent David Bloom died in 2003, I remember being very moved by a Scripture reading. I searched but could not find it. I sent an e-mail to his office, and his assistant sent me a personal response ?¢‚Ǩ' and the actual section of the text from which he read: the Book of Wisdom, 3:1-11. I still have the printout."

Keith Murphy of XM Satellite Radio: "Tim was the bar for journalists of all colors. His integrity shone through his fair yet aggressive questioning during the recent Democratic debates."

More at the end of this column.

In a statement, Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and anchor of the competing "Face the Nation," said, "Tim was the best of our profession. He asked the best questions and then he listened for the answer. We became very close friends over the years. He delighted in scooping me and I felt the same way when I scooped him. When you slipped one past ol?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ Russert, you felt as though you had hit a home run off the best pitcher in the league. I just loved Tim and I will miss him more than I can say, and my heart goes out to his son, Luke, and his wife, Maureen."

CNN announced that "Larry King Live" would devote its entire hour to Russert.

 

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Black Anchor Denies Using N-Word

 

Michael Scott, left, was interviewing a snake wrangler in 2002 for KAXS-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth when a gecko lizard jumped on him from a nearby table. He screamed and yelled an expletive in an incident immortalized on YouTube.

Fired Michael Scott Goes Public: "I'm Being Trashed"

A veteran television anchor let go after reportedly calling another black journalist the N-word is denying he did so, saying, "I'm being trashed" and, "My feeling is that the company just blew this up."

Michael Scott, who has worked in Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, Kansas City and Charlotte, N.C., was ousted last month from his latest job in Huntsville, Ala., after an exchange with an African American producer.

Scott, 54, has sent friends his own, radically different version of the May 22 incident, but he has not spoken publicly until this week. His comments were published in a column Friday by David Person, editorial writer and columnist at the Huntsville Times.

"On May 22, Michael Scott anchored WAAY Channel 31's 10 p.m. newscast. Less than a week later, he became the news," Person wrote.

"Newsblues.com reported that Scott was fired for calling then-WAAY News Producer Jabaree Prewitt a 'nigger' that night. Other Web sites and columns picked up the story, sometimes using the more politically correct term 'n-word' or 'n-bomb.'

"Because Scott and Prewitt are black, the story seemed like a verbal black-on-black conflict.

"What we have is his side. At the moment, we have no other.

"'I'm being trashed,' he told me on Tuesday. 'The stuff on BET made it sound like I hate my own race,'" Person continued.

"Scott was talking about a blog on BET.com, which picked up the story and then published reader comments ?¢‚Ǩ' 59 of them as of Thursday ?¢‚Ǩ' some of which harshly criticized him.

"The truth, Scott said, is that he never called Prewitt that name. He said he called him a 'Negro' while trying to quell what he described as a profanity-laced tirade by Prewitt.

"Specifically, Scott said that his response to the tirade was 'Negro, please.'

"Prewitt was offended by the word 'Negro,' according to Scott. Still angry, Prewitt stormed out off the news set where the exchange took place.

"Puzzled, Scott said he turned to co-anchor Karen Adams and said: 'Does he think that I called him a nigger?'

"The management at WAAY may have thought that. Scott said he got a call the next morning from acting News Director Keith Lowhorne, telling him not to report to work until Tuesday for a meeting. He was being suspended with pay for making an inappropriate comment to a co-worker, Scott said he was told.

"At the Tuesday meeting, Scott said, he was fired.

"WAAY management has repeatedly declined to comment. It did so again this week. Prewitt, who has since taken a job elsewhere, has also declined to talk about what happened."

The subscription-only NewsBlues site cited only "tipsters" for its item about Scott, but another newsroom employee ?¢‚Ǩ' who did not witness the incident ?¢‚Ǩ' confirmed the substance of the account, based on what management told employees.

The NewsBlues site followed up with another item based on unnamed "insiders" on May 29, writing, "WAAY newsroom insiders say Scott had repeated problems during his 11 months on the job and was issued several written and verbal warnings by management for his outlandish behavior."

Such statements are nothing short of slander, according to Ray Depa, the station's former general manager. Depa brought Scott to the station after having worked with him at KETV in Omaha, Neb., in the 1980s. "I was stunned to read what I read and hear what I heard," Depa told Journal-isms.

"He's not the demon that he is being made out to be. He has not assaulted anybody. It's sad that somebody's reputation will be impacted irreparably by slander and sensational statements that are simply not true."

WAAY, a distant third in the Nielsen ratings, has seen its share of turmoil. In September 2006, the station was sold to Huntsville Broadcast Corp., its second sale in seven years. Depa was brought in and then fired in February. In April, the ABC affiliate fired its news director, Willie Walker, and general sales manager, Chris Kidd.

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Conservatives are taking on Michelle Obama, shown with schoolchildren last week in Kalispell, Mont. Fox apologized for calling her 'baby mama.'

Fox Sorry for Calling Michelle Obama "Baby Mama"

Fox News apologized for characterizing Michelle Obama as "Obama's baby mama" on Thursday, and on Friday, in the Los Angeles Times, media writer James Rainey wrote that he was compelled to give "most of the mainstream media a hearty pat on the back for refusing to spread the inflammatory and thoroughly unsubstantiated rumor that Michelle Obama once railed against 'whitey' from a pulpit."

The developments came as the Barack Obama campaign created a Web site, fightthesmears.com, specifically to address media-transmitted rumors about the presumptive Democratic nominee and his wife.

"They loved to hate Hillary Rodham Clinton. They loved to hate Teresa Heinz Kerry. And now, it appears, conservative voices are energetically taking on Michelle Obama," Robin Abcarian wrote Thursday in the Los Angeles Times.

"The graphic 'Outraged liberals: Stop picking on Obama's baby mama' was flashed during an interview with conservative columnist Michelle Malkin about whether Barack Obama's wife has been the target of unfair criticism," as David Bauder reported Friday for the Associated Press.

"'Obama's baby mama' was never said on the air. Malkin said during her interview that she had seen no gratuitous or cheap shots taken against Michelle Obama by Republican or conservative critics."

[Malkin said, "I don't know if the caption writer was making a lame attempt to be hip, clueless about the original etymology of the phrase, or both. But I do know that it was Michelle Obama herself who referred to Barack as her 'baby's daddy' and has used the phrase 'baby daddy' to describe Barack while on the stump this year."]

"Joan Walsh, a columnist from Salon.com, criticized the graphic on Thursday as a slur.

"'Do you try to explain that "baby mama" is slang for the unmarried mother of a man's child, and not his wife, or even a girlfriend?' Walsh wrote. 'Are they racist, or just clueless? Isn't there racism even in their cluelessness, if somebody didn't know what "baby mama" means, but used it anyway? Even at Fox, won't somebody have to apologize?'"

Bill Shine, Fox senior vice president of programming, said in a statement, "A producer on the program exercised poor judgment in using this chyron during the segment," politico.com reported on Thursday.

The "whitey" rumor "mostly stayed out of the news, although Politico blogger Ben Smith sought a middle ground, writing about Obama's response, while Smith alluded only to 'a derogatory term for white people,'" Rainey reported in the Los Angeles Times.

"'If the mainstream media ignores a rumor, the rumor is the first hit on Google,' Smith said Thursday in an e-mail. 'If it's addressed or debunked, the debunking is usually the first thing.'

"NBC Political Director Chuck Todd called Obama's rumor-thwarting website a 'sea change' in campaign history. 'I think we are going to come to the point where we owe it to the viewers to tell them what is not true,' Todd said. 'It used to be we just used to have to tell them what was true.'"

Separately, Obama issued a statement Friday on the death of NBC News' Tim Russert:

"I've known Tim Russert since I first spoke at the convention in 2004. He's somebody who, over time, I came to consider not only a journalist but a friend. There wasn't a better interviewer in TV, not a more thoughtful analyst of our politics, and he was also one of the finest men I knew. Somebody who cared about America, cared about the issues, cared about family. I am grief-stricken with the loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. And I hope that, even though Tim is irreplaceable, that the standard that he set in his professional life and his family life are standards that we all carry with us in our own lives."

Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain said, "Tim Russert was at the top of his profession. He was a man of honesty and integrity. He was hard but he was always fair."

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Campaigns, Media Debate Sexism in Coverage

"Angered by what they consider sexist news coverage of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, many women and erstwhile Clinton supporters are proposing boycotts of the cable networks, putting up videos on a 'Media Hall of Shame,' starting a national conversation about sexism and pushing Mrs. Clinton's rival, Senator Barack Obama, to address the matter," Katharine Q. Seelye and Julie Bosman wrote Friday in the New York Times.

 

"But many in the news media ?¢‚Ǩ' with a few exceptions, including Katie Couric, the anchor of the "CBS Evening News" ?¢‚Ǩ' see little need for reconsidering their coverage or changing their approach going forward. Rather, they say, as the Clinton campaign fell behind, it exploited a few glaring examples of sexist coverage to whip up a backlash and to try to create momentum for Mrs. Clinton.

"The perception that sexism tainted coverage of the Clinton campaign ?¢‚Ǩ' a view expressed on Internet postings and in conversations among women ?¢‚Ǩ' appears to be gaining ground more in political circles than in the mainstream news media."

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Mariani-Belding, AAJA President, Named in Bias Suit

The national president of the Asian American Journalists Association is being accused of discriminating against a Filipino-American colleague at their workplace, the Gannett Co.-owned Honolulu Advertiser.

Jeanne Mariani-Belding

"Pati Poblete, in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday against Gannett Publishing LLC, alleges that Advertiser Editorial and Opinion Page Editor Jeanne Mariani-Belding discriminated against her soon after she was hired as deputy editorial page editor on Sept. 12, 2006, until she resigned Nov. 6," the rival Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported on Thursday.

Mark Platte, the Advertiser's editor, told Journal-isms, "The allegations contained in Ms. Poblete's lawsuit could not be more inaccurate. Jeanne Mariani-Belding has a long and distinguished record of promoting diversity in many newsrooms and anyone who knows Jeanne knows how much she helped journalists of color throughout her career."

"In the suit, Poblete said she left the San Francisco Chronicle to join the Advertiser and was immediately forced by Mariani-Belding to keep progress logs on a co-worker of Filipino ancestry, Emil Guillermo, in an apparent effort to force him out," according to the Star-Bulletin story.

"Guillermo, who, according to the suit, was regularly humiliated by Mariani-Belding in editorial board meetings, accepted a buyout in April 2007. Guillermo said yesterday he wanted to review the allegations before deciding whether to comment on the matter." He is not a part to the suit, Guillermo told Journal-isms.

"Mariani-Belding's racial attacks turned to Poblete after she protested how her boss had treated Guillermo, according to the suit," the story continued.

"Mariani-Belding allegedly asked Poblete, 'Are you just trying to protect him because he's Filipino?'

"The suit says that in another instance, Mariani-Belding, while looking at a photograph of roasted dogs in a Vietnamese market, told Poblete and her Filipino fiance, 'Oh, you guys would know about eating dogs.'"

Platte disputed comments alleged by Poblete that Mariani-Belding admitted to the Advertiser's human resources director that she had discriminated against Poblete.

"That's a lie and our human resources director, Miki Sugikawa, will verify that Jeanne never said those things," Platte said in a statement. "We look forward to fighting these outrageous allegations in court."

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Music Writer Quits, Accused of Using Ghostwriter

"Well-known San Antonio Express-News music writer and columnist Ramiro Burr, facing allegations that he hired a ghost writer to produce more than 100 stories and columns since 2001, tendered his resignation Tuesday afternoon as the newspaper's investigation into this and other violations of the newspaper's ethics policy by Burr was drawing to a conclusion," Public Editor Bob Richter reported Wednesday for the Express-News.
Ramiro Burr

"Burr, 52, covered the local and international music scene for the past 25 years. He worked for the San Antonio Light from 1983 until the Light folded in 1993 and has been with the Express-News since. He is also a local correspondent for Billboard magazine and in 1999 wrote a book, the 'Billboard Guide to Tejano and regional Mexican music.'"

". . . In a brief statement, he was somewhat contrite, but stuck to the claim that he was governed by a different set of rules than other Express-News journalists" because he was syndicated.

On his blog, Burr wrote, "I will continue to write and blog about music. I think the community, especially the Latino community, is still underserved when it comes to news and information. I have always emphasized the need for all media to be well-balanced and fully represent their communities, including the Latino community. By being inclusive, we are all enriched."

The Web site Regret the Error, which chronicles newspaper corrections, said, "This ranks as one of the stranger recent examples of journalistic malfeasance."

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Sharon Rosenhause Retiring From Sun-Sentinel

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Managing Editor Sharon Rosenhause is retiring ?¢‚Ǩ' and the newspaper isn't filling the position," Bob Norman wrote Tuesday on his blog for Broward-Palm Beach (Fla.) New Times.

"This is the memo posted in-house today by Executive Editor Earl Maucker:

Sharon Rosenhause

"It is with considerable sadness that I am announcing today that Sharon Rosenhause has decided to retire effective July 31. Since the day she arrived in March 2001, Sharon has made our newspaper better. Her commitment to the highest journalistic standards has been unwavering. Her contributions ?¢‚Ǩ' ranging from the creation of our I-Team, Race and Demographics Team and Consumer Team have raised the Sun-Sentinel to new levels. Her dedication to diversity ?¢‚Ǩ' known and respected nationwide ?¢‚Ǩ' is reflected in our newsroom which is now one of the more diverse in the country, thanks to her efforts. Her leadership will be deeply missed.

"Due to the current economic challenges facing us, I am eliminating the position of managing editor."

Rosenhause is a board member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and a past chair of its Diversity Committee. In 2006, she won a Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership, given by the Associated Press Managing Editors and ASNE in partnership with the Freedom Forum.

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Raul Alarcon Sr., Hispanic Radio Pioneer, Dies at 82

"Raul Alarcon Sr. , founder of the Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc. and a pioneer in an industry once closed to minorities, died Wednesday in Miami. Mr. Alarcon was 82," Tal Abbady wrote Friday in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Ra?ɬ?l Alarc?ɬ?n Sr.
"Associates close to the family said Mr. Alarcon had been in declining health for several years.

"After working as a disc jockey, Mr. Alarcon bought his first radio station, WSKQ-AM in New York, in 1983. He met resistance from industry officials who dismissed Hispanics as a viable audience. WSKQ was the start of a radio, television and online venture that made the Spanish Broadcasting System the largest publicly traded Hispanic-controlled media company in the country. It is the second-largest Hispanic-owned media company after the privately owned Univision.

"'He had the vision of creating a radio company owned by Hispanics for Hispanics. That vision helped motivate a lot of other Hispanics in the industry. He made us all realize, 'Hey, there are opportunities out there. You can compete, build a great company and be respected.' He gave us all hope,' said Eugenio 'Gene' Bryan, founder of the Miami-based trade journal HispanicAd.com.

"The company is made up of 21 radio stations in the country's largest Hispanic markets, as well as the nationally distributed Mega TV and online entertainment site LaMusica.com."

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"Through These Stories . . . I Found My Humanity"

The Washington Post bid farewell on Thursday to more than 100 employees who took voluntary early retirement, a measure that will cost the Washington Post Co. millions of dollars in severance costs. Lynne Duke, an assignment editor in the Post's Style section who has been a national and foreign correspondent, wrote this note to colleagues that hints at the journalistic toll:

Lynne Duke was Johannesburg bureau chief in 1995-1999.
"I have always felt that journalism is a calling, that we should come to it out of a deep desire to stir social thought, make change, help someone in need, hold the powerful accountable. And yes, we also try to entertain, and when we do it well we also offer some enlightenment.

"So a few nights ago, as I laid awake flashing back to all my stories, I wondered if I measured up to my own standards, if I'd done the kind of journalism I admire.

"I thought of Sheila Holt-Orsted and her quest to find some justice for her family, which consumed contaminated water for several years. That water, they believe, is the reason so many of them have had cancer. So Sheila fought the state of Tennessee through her first bout with cancer, and now she is continuing her battle for justice even though her cancer, now stage four, has returned.

"I thought of U.S. Army reserve 1st Lt. Jullian Goodrum, an Iraq war veteran, who was nearly court-martialed for going AWOL when he checked into a private psychiatric ward after being turned away from an Army clinic in the throes of a meltdown caused by his post-traumatic stress disorder.

"And John Vigiano, the retired New York City firefighter who waited at Ground Zero day after day, month after month, with his brothers in uniform forming a cocoon of friendship around him, until the remains of his two dead sons, his only children, were found.

"And then I remembered Jean Demescene Baragondoza, a Rwandan postal worker and refugee hiding with his family in the bush beside a dangerous road in a Congo-Zaire war zone. I was traveling through the region when suddenly this man emerged from the tall grass. He dusted off his dirty blue blazer and we chatted a bit, with the constant report of automatic weapons fire cracking in the middle distance.

"He told me there were many bodies in the nearby hills and that he and his family laid down and dragged themselves through the bush to escape.

"He asked me to carry a message to the outside world. It was simple ?¢‚Ǩ' "Tell people that we need help" ?¢‚Ǩ' and yet it spoke profoundly to this man's belief that I, a journalist, was capable of bringing help. He wanted food, shelter and safety, when all I could offer was a righteous piece of reporting on our front page about world leaders trying to decide if the refugees adrift in Congo were significant enough to warrant help.

"I have always been humbled by this kind of trust ?¢‚Ǩ' Mr. Demescene's trust. Telling of people's struggles ?¢‚Ǩ' and living up to their faith ?¢‚Ǩ' has shaped my journalistic life, for I have tried to practice a journalism that offered comfort, rescue, even a bit of advocacy.

"Through these stories, I found my voice. More important, I found my humanity.

"I will forever be grateful to The Washington Post for the privilege of being this kind a journalist at this great, great newspaper."

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Ron Claiborne

Short Takes

  • ABC News has made its assignments for general election coverage: "David Wright and Ron Claiborne will cover the McCain Campaign with off-air Bret Hovell. Jake Tapper and John Berman will report on Obama with off-air Sunlen Miller. Kate Snow will continue to cover Hillary Clinton with Eloise Harper, and Jan Crawford Greenburg will report on the as yet to be named vice presidential candidates," ABC News President David L. Westin told staffers on Thursday.
  • In a lengthy Esquire magazine profile about Newark Mayor Cory Booker, journalist Scott Raab describes Newark as a city "racked by decades of ruin, a town known only for murder, blight and feckless negritude." To Booker's complaints that the piece portrays Newark as a city in despair, Raab told Katie Wang and Jeffery C. Mays in the Newark Star-Ledger, "I think it's very self-serving for Cory Booker. It's the pot calling the kettle African American for him to talk about the battle he is fighting, to go to Trenton in the wake of the Aug. 4 murders, to say, 'We need more money, we should stand together, we need this and we need that.'This harping on the downslide of Newark ?¢‚Ǩ' he does this as part of his job," according to the newspaper's article, published on Wednesday.
  • "Spanish-language radio broadcasters Spanish Broadcasting System, Entravision Communications Corporation, Univision Communications and Border Media Partners have formed an industry-focused committee to voice concerns about Arbitron's proposed rollout of the Portable People Meter (PPM) and the potentially harmful impact it could have on the Hispanic marketplace. The newly created group has been named the Spanish Radio Association ('SRA')," the groups announced on Thursday.
  • "Geeta Anand, the New York-based senior special writer for the Wall Street Journal's investigative group, is moving her job to Mumbai for a few years," the South Asian Journalists Association said on Thursday. "She's going to be joining the Journal's India team, where she will continue to do investigative work on health, science and the environment (among other stories). She will report to the paper's India bureau chief, Paul Beckett, and joins Peter Wonacott and Eric Bellman as correspondents based in the country (in addition to stringers and others)."
  • Former Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., is trying to raise $20 million to build studios in Washington for his proposed national black television network as well as a "coast-to-coast high definition news gathering infrastructure," the Associated Press said on Friday. "Watts, who hopes to get one running by the summer 2009, tells The Associated Press that the voice of blacks is often missing from political debates, including the one over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright."
  • The National Association of Broadcasters filed replies Wednesday with the Federal Communications Commission concerning a proposed rulemaking that would dictate how broadcasters serve their local communities, the trade organization for broadcast companies announced on Thursday. ""As NAB stated in its initial comments, and as thousands of commenters, both broadcasters and third parties, have now shown, radio and television broadcasters are closely connected with their local communities and provide a wealth of community-responsive programming," NAB said in its filings.
  • "The Spanish-language daily Al Dia will ramp up distribution of its free editions on Wednesdays and Saturdays to 120,000 from 40,000 in select coverage areas beginning in late July," Della de Lafuente reported Wednesday in Marketing y Medios. "The move to up free distribution of the Spanish daily via home delivery is in response to the explosive and ongoing growth of the Hispanic population in north Texas and to the demand by marketers to reach Latino newspaper readers in Spanish, per a press statement."
  • Journalist and syndicated TV host Ed Gordon has launched a nationwide initiative called "Daddy's Promise: A Lifetime of Love" that celebrates the relationship and bond between African American fathers and daughters, Kenya M Yarbrough reported Friday for EURWeb.com. "The campaign, which encourages and salutes fathers of daughters, kicks off this weekend ?¢‚Ǩ' Fathers Day. The initiative will start with the launch of the website http://www.daddyspromise.com and a national movement to create dialog, plus a book from Gordon to follow."
  • "Oprah Winfrey remains No. 1 on the Celebrity 100, a power ranking based on both earnings and fame. Despite weakening television ratings and magazine circulation, Winfrey earned $275 million before taxes in the past 12 months, and she remains one of the most famous faces in the world," Forbes magazine said in listing "the world's most powerful celebrities."
  • Keith Rushing has left the North County Times in San Diego to become a writer-editor for Advancement Project, a Washington-based organization that combines policy advocacy, litigation, grassroots organizing and communications to achieve greater racial justice, Rushing told Journal-isms.

Feedback: You Could Tell Tim Russert Enjoyed It

This is a sad day for journalism. Tim Russert was the best. He was intelligent, witty, polite and a tough questioner. And he was a man of faith. He did his job with a sense of humor and you could tell he really enjoyed what he was doing. He wasn't pompous, which is quite unusual for Washington, where big egos abound. I will miss his show because he controlled the debate and rarely, if ever, allowed it to devolve into a shouting match, as some other talk shows do, preventing you from really hearing the points being made. He was one of a kind and I will miss watching him on "Meet the Press."

Marlene L. Johnson
President, Grapevine Communications
Washington
June 13, 2008

FEEDBACK: Feel free to send an e-mail about this column.

Feedback: Russert Was Clear About Who He Was

Tim Russert had an instinct for news that was second only to his instinct for kindness. He never took the route of the gratuitous insult or cheap shot. He valued originality and avoided stereotypes. He was very clear about who he was and who his Irish Catholic people were, and valued people who were secure in their own identity. Most important, he respected and honored all others as part of the human family.

Suzan Shown Harjo
Native American writer
President, The Morning Star Institute
Washington
June 13, 2008

FEEDBACK: Feel free to send an e-mail about this column.

Feedback: Russert Knew Only One Way to Compete

I met Tim Russert in 1983 when he was working as an aide to New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. Cuomo, an ex-minor league baseball player, had a softball team he had packed with state troopers and jock types like Russert. Anyway, during the course of a game pitting Cuomo's team against a bunch of typically unatheletic statehouse correspondents, Russert hit a double, then came barreling home so hard on the next deep fly ball that he crashed into the catcher and broke his arm. The catcher, I should mention, was a girl.

Tim only knew one way to compete ?¢‚Ǩ' flat out.

Jack White
Richmond, Va.
June 13, 2008

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Feedback: Russert's Book Choice Spoke Volumes

Among Tim Russert's legacies is the dedication to diversify Sunday morning and make sure there was a range of voices and perspectives in the discussion. It continued when the camera was shut off and the lights were turned down. He kept asking questions. He wanted to know as much as possible about your ideas, your perspective, your reporting. On some shows you are dismissed when the credits roll. Not at Tim's table.

And he had an incredible ear and amazing instincts for covering this historic election.

I will share something that many people will find surprising. Every year, I fill a bookcase with children's books that were cherished by famous people. They sign the books and write a little something about why the book was their all-time favorite or how it influenced their lives.

Last year, Tim provided a signed copy of the book that most influenced him as a young man, and guess what it was? "Black Like Me" by John Howard Griffin, the story of a white man's experience traveling through the segregated south as a black man.

No kidding.

That says much about who he was as a man and a journalist.

Michele Norris
"All Things Considered"
National Public Radio
Washington
June 14, 2008

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More Comments on Tim Russert

Ron Allen, NBC corespondent, to FishbowlDC: "First and foremost my wife Adaora and I want to express our deepest heartfelt sympathy to Tim's family. It's especially tragic and unbelievable when anyone so young is taken from us without warning and so much too soon. Tim seemed to be in stride and in the prime of his life . . . at a time in our national life that was calling out for him. I last saw him in Washington about a week ago . . . to experience the honor of appearing on his program. . . . and as always he was so engaged, excited, and present while kicking around everything politics. Over the years, Tim was always supportive and thoughtful . . . the kind of guy you could always have a down-to-earth conversation with . . . no nonsense . . . just being real. He showed us all how to be prepared and to know what we're talking about, how to be tough and always fair. He showed us all how the best at what we do spend their lives seeking the truth."

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post and MSNBC, to Editor & Publisher: "When you were going to be a guest on 'Meet the Press,' the first thing that happened was an intern handed you a three-quarter-inch thick pile of newspaper clippings. Just in case you missed it. He certainly had the soul of a newspaper guy, following the rigors of what it took."

FEEDBACK: Feel free to send an e-mail about this column.

Feedback: Take Cue, Get Checked for Colon Cancer

It really saddened me to hear about Pat Tobin's passing, both for the loss of a remarkable human being and PR professional par excellence, but especially because the cause was colon cancer.

As a lung cancer survivor, and a prostate cancer survivor [an ailment suffered also by my twin brother Ron, who goes around Los Angeles with the group Real Men Cooks and urges African American males to get checked for prevention], I've learned that the key to survival of any cancer is early detection.

For colon cancer, the answer is a colonoscopy examination, a procedure that takes about 40 minutes with little or no pain. Most times you are conscious, in a state they call "twilight," and you lay there and watch the scope go through your colon. You are in, you're out, and you are good to go for several years before repeating the procedure. I had my latest colonoscopy a month ago, and I'm just fine.

In Pat's name, please check with your doctor, and have yourself checked. Colon cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers, but also one of the most easily detectable and treatable.

Rudolph Brewington
Washington
June 12, 2008

FEEDBACK: Feel free to send an e-mail about this column.

Feedback: Tobin Gave Pride to "Public Relations"

Pat Tobin epitomized professionalism, pride and optimism. I can't remember ever seeing her without a smile on her face in the 22 years since we first met. She made the words "public relations" something to proud of. NABJ has lost a great colleague and supporter, who I will miss greatly.

Robin Washington
Editorial Page Editor
Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune
July 13, 2008

FEEDBACK: Feel free to send an e-mail about this column.



Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (Full disclosure: Richard Prince works part time at the Washington Post.) It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites.

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince.

To be notified of new columns, contact journal-isms-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and tell us who you are.

Special thanks to The McCormick Foundation for its generous support of the Journal-isms column.

 

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