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T.J. Holmes Leaving CNN for BET

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Network Building a Show Around Affable Anchor

Philly D.A. Won't Seek Death Penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Ofield Dukes, Go-to P.R. Man in Politics, Dies at 79

Michael Chen Out as NBC Reorganizes "Strategic Initiatives"

Income Inequality Increasing Across Developed World

Teens Disagree With Gingrich: They're Ready to Work

Bloomberg Rejects Bernanke Criticism of Report on Bailout

Major League Baseball Adopts Media Dress Code

Short Takes

Network Building a Show Around Affable Anchor

T.J. Holmes

T.J. Holmes, the affable CNN weekend anchor who told colleagues on Sunday he was leaving the network at the end of the year, is heading for Black Entertainment Television, according to a source familiar with Holmes' situation.

BET plans to build a show around Holmes, 34, the source said. Holmes was not available for comment.

BET made the announcement official later Wednesday.

"BET Networks has inked a multi-platform talent agreement with award-winning journalist and television personality T.J. Holmes, as announced Wednesday," it said. "The deal with Holmes includes a new show on BET as well as content on in which he can bring his many talents to some of what BET says it regards as 'the most important and interesting stories' for the BET audience.

" 'We are simply ecstatic to have T.J. Holmes coming to our fold. He’s been an outstanding news anchor and we look forward to working with him in a variety of new ways on BET,' said Stephen G. Hill, President of Music Programming and Specials at BET Networks. 'It’s now upon us to develop vehicles that capture his intelligence, curiosity about the world, warmth, humor and compassion. It’s a challenge that we are happy to have.' "

Spokeswoman LeToya Glenn Bacon told Journal-isms, "When we found out he was looking for new opportunities, BET approached him." 

Holmes joined CNN in October 2006 and anchors the weekend edition of "CNN Newsroom" on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

At the summer convention of the National Association of Black Journalists, he joked about the "weekend ghetto" to which African American television anchors seem to be consigned, and not just at CNN. Also anchoring weekends at the network are Don Lemon and Fredricka Whitfield.

CNN confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Holmes was leaving "to pursue other opportunities." With that, and a prior mention in Journal-isms that Holmes was leaving, the news went viral.

"TJ - I just read that you were leaving CNN. Your decision or theirs. I hope they do not replace you with a Barbie Doll cutout," wrote one fan on Facebook.

Another wrote on the Huffington Post, "I'm a huge TJ fan. I think he's­licious and very comfortabl­e in front of the camera. He's on to bigger and better things and I can't wait to see where he lands! Good Luck!!"

A third said, "WHAT A SEXY MUTHA!!!!! DAMN!"

Tenisha Bell, CNN executive producer, wrote, "TJ is a great journalist, co-worker, work husband and friend. I've been wiping the tears for months and now we only have 2 more weeks together. I fully supported his move knowing that my job will never be the same. Rarely do you ever get an anchor and executive producer that sees 'eye to eye' and that can lead a team on one accord. He is a true gentleman and hard worker. I'm sure all of us will support him in his new job."

Others posted messages disparaging CNN.

According to his CNN bio, "Holmes came to CNN from NBC11 in the San Francisco Bay Area. While with NBC, he traveled to Athens, Greece to cover the 2004 Olympics, the first Summer Games held since the September 11th terrorist attacks. He covered numerous other stories that garnered national attention, including the historic recall election of the California Governor in 2003 and the double murder trial of Scott Peterson.

"Before joining NBC11, Holmes served as a weekend anchor and reporter for KTHV-TV in Little Rock, Ark. He began his career at KSNF-TV in Joplin, Mo."

In 2010, BET announced that another news name, Ed Gordon, would have a show built around him. But the Sunday news roundtable hosted by Gordon caused hardly a stir and is no longer on BET's schedule. Gordon has failed to return to the status he enjoyed at the network after coming to national attention there two decades ago.

Meanwhile, BET announced Tuesday that it would air a news special, “The Curious Case of Citizen Cain” on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Herman Cain, who suspended his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination on Saturday, "talks in-depth for the first time to the black audience about what he calls 'scams perpetrated on blacks' by liberal black leaders, his fiery brand of black conservatism, and the sex scandals that drove him from the Republican Presidential race," the announcement said. Clips are posted on

Philly D.A. Won't Seek Death Penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal

"Saying he wanted to avoid another three decades of appeals — and a new public forum for Mumia Abu-Jamal — Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said today he will not seek a new death penalty hearing for the convicted killer of Officer Daniel Faulkner," Joseph A. Slobodzian reported Wednesday for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Flanked by Faulkner's widow, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, officials of the Fraternal Order of Police and a cadre of prosecutors past and present who were involved with the case, Williams said he believed his office could successfully impanel a new jury and get a new death sentence against Abu-Jamal.

"But the tortuous legal process ahead for a newly-imposed death sentence — and the likelihood that Abu-Jamal, 57, will die in prison before it could be carried out — made that route seem futile.

" 'Every reviewing court has found the trial fair and the guilty verdict sound," Williams said at a press conference. '. . . Our best remaining option is to let Mr. Abu-Jamal to die in prison.' "

A previous version of the story explained, ". . . At issue was the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal in October hear a petition by Williams' office seeking to reinstate the death penalty against Abu-Jamal.

"The ruling meant that, unless Williams decided to conduct a new sentencing hearing, Abu-Jamal would continue to serve a life sentence with no chance of parole.

"Williams decided against a new hearing."

Abu-Jamal was president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists at the time of his arrest 30 years ago.

His supporters are planning to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Abu-Jamal's imprisonment with a forum at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center on Friday with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, professor Cornel West, Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," and others.

Tutu said in a statement, "Now that it is clear that Mumia should never have been on death row in the first place, justice will not be served by relegating him to prison for the rest of his life — yet another form of death sentence. Based on even a minimal following of international human rights standards, Mumia must now be released. I therefore join the call, and ask others to follow, asking District Attorney Seth Williams to rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights, and justice: drop this case now, and allow Mumia Abu-Jamal to be immediately released, with full time served.”

Ofield Dukes, Go-to P.R. Man in Politics, Dies at 79

Ofield Dukes, a leading public relations counselor in the nation's capital, died Wednesday at Henry Ford Hospital in his hometown of Detroit. He was 79.

Ofield Dukes (Credit: Jason Miccolo Johnson)"Ofield was part of unique cadre of journalists who made the leap to public relations and never forgot his roots," Charles Robinson, a reporter for Maryland Public Television, said by email.

"Our paths crossed often while working in D.C. He delivered when few could. I'm reminded of how he often assisted struggling journalists in Washington. When newspapers, radio stations, and even television stations wouldn't pay for Black journalists to cover political conventions, he gave to those who asked for an opportunity on 'someone else's dime.' I know because many of them told me how he helped get them to political conventions."

Herbert Lowe, journalism professional in residence at Marquette University and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, recalled for Journal-isms by email, "I met Ofield soon after becoming communications director for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) in spring 2007. He had managed the production of the foundation's newsletter for many years and not only enabled a smooth transition in my taking it over, but supported me in my efforts to focus on the foundation's successes as well as giving voice to the caucus member's priorities.

"More importantly, he understood as well as anyone the triangular dynamics of the black caucus, the foundation and the media and, in particular, the black media. He enthusiastically introduced me to leaders of the [National Newspaper Publishers Association], sharing my desire to increase access among the black press to CBCF's education, health and other initiatives.

"Anyone could see that Ofield had earned the respect of members of Congress and black publishers alike and I admired how he conducted himself: always with dignity, always with sincerity and always with style. I imagined then, and still do now, him as an example and that others would say the same about me some 30 years from now. He will definitely be missed."

From the Public Relations Society of America:

"Dukes was born on Aug. 8, 1932, in Rutledge, Ala. He graduated with a degree in journalism from Wayne State University in Detroit in 1958. He went on to receive three National Newspaper Publishers Association awards for editorial, column and feature writing for the Michigan Chronicle in l964.

"He relocated to Washington, D.C., later in 1964 to join the Johnson-Humphrey administration as deputy director of information for the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, which President Lyndon B. Johnson chaired.

"In 1966, the White House appointed him to the staff of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, serving through 1968. Dukes started his own PR firm in 1969 with an office at the National Press Building. Motown Records was his first client.

"Dukes helped organize the first Congressional Black Caucus dinner and served on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change.

"He has also been a communications consultant for every Democratic presidential campaign since 1972. In 1993, he founded the Black Public Relations Society of Washington.

"At Howard University, where he taught as an adjunct professor for 17 years, he was instrumental in formulating the PR curriculum. Dukes also served as an adjunct professor" in the School of Communication at American University for eight years.

" 'Ofield was a pioneer, a visionary leader who gave unselfishly to the public relations profession in an effort to increase greater understanding, ethics, and inclusion of people from all walks of life, nationalities, races and genders,' said Dr. Rochelle Ford, APR, associate dean, School of Communications, Howard University. 'His contributions to the practice, education and politics are numerous and he has touched many as a mentor and a friend, including me.' "

The Detroit chapter of the Public Relations Society of America was planning its first Diversity Summit in February, "named after local PR legend Ofield Dukes and co-sponsored with Wayne State University and General Motors," president Jennifer Flowers said last month.

Michael Chen Out as NBC Reorganizes "Strategic Initiatives"

Michael Chen, believed to be NBC News’ highest ranking Asian American, is being reorganized out of a job as the network integrates his Strategic Initiatives Group into other parts of the news division, NBC News President Steve Capus told employees.

Michael ChenWhen Chen was named president of the Strategic Initiatives Group in January, NBC said, "In his new position, Chen will be responsible for identifying growth opportunities and will oversee several key news division properties including Education Nation, the NBC Learn Businesses, and many of the NBC News digital investments."

The new announcement from Capus said, "In an effort to streamline and grow our new business initiatives, NBC News will be integrating the Strategic Initiatives Group into existing teams spread across the news division. The group's staff and key initiatives — including Education Nation, NBC Learn, e-books and digital projects — will each be aligned to related operations that are currently overseen by other NBC News leadership. Michael Chen will help transition the group into this next phase, while wrapping up his assignment with NBC News. The transition will take effect in mid-January.

"I'd like to thank Michael for supporting the development of these initiatives, laying the foundation for new opportunities and helping elevate Education Nation with the on-the-road tour and a spectacular 2011 summit. He is truly dedicated to the important missions of NBC News and has worked tirelessly to establish the building blocks for a stronger news division. He always carries himself with professionalism and good cheer.

"More information about this transition will be available soon. We are committed to making this process as smooth as possible. Thanks for all of your hard work and continued support. Please join me in wishing Michael well in his future endeavors."

While Comcast's request to absorb NBCUniversal was pending, Comcast and NBCU pledged to increase director-level representation of minorities.

Income Inequality Increasing Across Developed World

"Income inequality is increasing across much of the developed world, a trend that will continue unless governments move aggressively to arrest it, according to a report released Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development," Michael A. Fletcher reported Monday for the Washington Post.

"The widening gap between rich and poor is being driven in part by a growing disparity in wages, as skilled workers command a disproportionate share of the bounty made possible by technological progress, the report said."

CNN contributor Will Cain, left, participates in a discussion of Newt Gingrich's comments on the work habits of the poor. (Video)

Teens Disagree With Gingrich: They're Ready to Work

David Montgomery and Lonnae O’Neal Parker began their Washington Post story Tuesday with this quote from Newt Gingrich, Republican presidential candidate and former speaker of the House:

"Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working, and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of 'I do this and you give me cash,' unless it’s illegal."

The reporters continued:

"When Nickaro Young, Khalid Bullock and Rian Hayes heard what the GOP presidential candidate was saying about young people like them and their peers in the Congress Heights neighborhood of the District, they bristled, briefly. Then they went back to their responsibilities.

"Which for Young, 16, includes walking to the IHOP on Alabama Avenue SE, where he is a host on weekends. Bullock, 17, helps out at his father’s store, Shar Retailers on Martin Luther King Boulevard SE, and last month he co-founded a nonprofit to help young people put their talent to work in the community.

"Hayes, 17, is studying hard to become a lawyer, after a successful internship this past summer at the downtown law firm of Alston & Bird."

Bloomberg Rejects Bernanke Criticism of Report on Bailout

"Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said in a letter to four senior lawmakers today that recent news articles about the central bank’s emergency lending programs contained 'egregious errors,' " Bloomberg News said Tuesday.

"While Bernanke’s letter and an accompanying four-page staff memo posted on the Fed’s website didn’t mention any news organizations by name, Bloomberg News has published a series of articles this year examining the bailout. The latest, 'Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress,' appeared Nov. 28.

" 'Bloomberg stands by its reporting,' said Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News. . . . "

Major League Baseball Adopts Media Dress Code

"Major League Baseball became the first elite-level North American pro sports league to impose a dress code in the press box, issuing guidelines in writing this week during owners' meetings," Agence France-Presse reported Wednesday from Dallas.

 "Among clothing items on the banned list are flip-flop sandals, short skirts, tank-top shirts, visible underwear or anything bearing a team logo.

"NBA, NFL and NHL officials have not issued such guidelines on attire for journalists covering games.

"The move comes in the wake of last year's incident involving Mexican television reporter Ines [Sainz] receiving unwanted attention because of her attire at the training camp of American football's New York Jets."

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site 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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Major League Baseball Adopts Media Dress Code

About a week ago, I posted on my Facebook account that MLB needs its own version of "Jayne Kennedy". The dress code is 1 thing. But, which is the bigger issue?

Civil War Reenactments Black Folks Not Interested

Without question Ta-Nehesi Coates 's is a brilliant writer and talent yet he suffers from the tragic shortcoming of always making apologies on why Black folks don't react and model themselves after white folks.

The reason for Black folks rejection of the conflict is clearly an intentional collective cultural posture. Our detachment from an interest of the Civil War does not require a long winded esoteric and scholarly narrative. It is a simple mindset the majority of Black Americans are not interested in drive by visits, reenactments, monuments of a war by whites regarding how they waged a war over our humanity and personhood.

Black folks don't need to marvel and give praise and create monuments to the insanity of white depravity . The horror. legacy and our continued existence on America's soil encompasses our perspectives.

Instead of people like Coates and others lecturing to us about our posture towards the Civil War perhaps he should acknowledge and respect the fact that we have already taken a position for centuries.

Ofield Dukes

I was deeply saddened to hear about Ofield Dukes death. He was my teacher and PR mentor.  

Taking his PR class at Howard University in 1976 was the basis of my career as a radio news/talk producer. The skills he taught me in problem solving, crisis management, and program development were utilized when Cathy Hughes hired me that year to book guests for the morning show at WHUR (and, of course, I gave Mr. Dukes' clients carte blanche). I continued to take his PR courses.

 Ofield Dukes inspired me to utilize my PR skills to promote my talk shows. By the time I left news/talk radio, I had developed both a press list and PR savvy to easily transition into a PR career. My first major PR position was Assistant PR Director of the NAACP under Benjamin Hooks.

 Whenever we would talk, I would always thank Mr. Dukes for teaching me the skills to pay my bills. 

He was a suave diplomat who made a mark in the field of PR. He will be tremendously missed.

 FERN GILLESPIE, NYC Metro Area Freelance Writer/Communications Consultant

Major League Baseball Adopts Media Dress Code

 What about a code of behavior for the athletes, the staff, the front office managers? Has there ever been a case of a journalist attacking a player because he was wearing a skimpy towel in the locker room? Treat the cause, not the symptom!

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