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Tony Cox Gets Own Public Radio Show

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Congresswoman Adds Black Publisher to Witness List

Michael Dyson, African American Broadcasters Split

Tony Cox, who has worked with Tavis Smiley, Ed Gordon and Farai Chideya as they attempted to carve out an African American talk-show niche at National Public Radio, is being given his own public radio show, Cox told Journal-isms on Tuesday night. Tony Cox

The show will be part of the offerings of African American Public Radio Consortium, which in 2002 produced the Smiley show and in 2005 NPR's "News & Notes" program with first Gordon, then Chideya hosting. Cox worked on all three of those shows, and hosted the latter in its final days last year.

The consortium currently has "Tell Me More" with Michel Martin on NPR, and until now, "The Michael Eric Dyson Show," hosted by the Georgetown University professor and social critic, on 18 public radio stations.

"The Michael Eric Dyson show is no longer," Loretta Rucker, executive director of the consortium, told Journal-isms on Wednesday. "We had a good four months with Dr. Dyson but the arrangement eventually devolved over compensation."

Cox has been filling in for Dyson from NPR West studios in Culver City, Calif., as Dyson took "a break" from his Washington-based show, produced by WEAA-FM at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

While Dyson and the consortium have parted ways, the fate of Dyson's show remains unclear. Last week, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting said WEAA-FM had received $505,000 to continue production of the program, and the social critic was quoted in the news release as saying, "I am extremely gratified to receive the support and commitment of CPB in the effort to expand the reach and audience of The Michael Eric Dyson Show."

But Mel Marshall, program director of WVAS-FM at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Ala., a consortium member, said Wednesday, "We're going to run Tony Cox." The verdict was still out on Dyson, he said. "My station manager says no, especially after he walked out on the consortium."

On Monday, LaFontaine E. Oliver, general manager of WEAA, said of Dyson, "We do not have a set date yet for his return." 

While Dyson has been away, other stations in the consortium have been running the show with Cox hosting. WEAA has been airing music.

Regardless of who runs which of the shows, "the number of black voices in public radio is growing," Cox said. "It's very important that our point of view gets included in all the discussions of national and international issues."

The hourlong Cox show, to be called "Up Front With Tony Cox" and hosted from NPR West in Culver City, will be low-budget, with a very small staff that Cox said he hopes will grow as it gains traction. It will basically consist of two segments, with Cox interviewing guests in each. Kyle McKinnon, who has worked with several NPR shows, will produce, though it will not be an NPR show. It starts Oct. 1.

"It presents an opportunity to go into a little more depth with the guests," the 40-year broadcasting veteran said. "It's a show designed to appeal to as many people as I can get to tune into it," discussing the issues of the day, "but making sure a black perspective included in the discussion." He quickly added, "It's not only the black perspective we're talking about."

A Web site,, is being constructed. Cox can be reached at tcox (at)


Congresswoman Adds Black Publisher to Witness List

A black-press publisher was added Wednesday to the witness list for a Capitol Hill hearing on the future of the newspaper industry after the committee was notified that a similar hearing was criticized as slighting the interests of African Americans.

Denise Rolark Barnes Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., who chairs the Joint Economic Committee, added Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the weekly Washington Informer, to the witness list for Thursday's hearing.

'Minority-owned publications are among the hardest hit by recent trends and more must be done in order to ensure that these institutions continue their important public service," Maloney told Journal-isms. "The reporting done by minority-owned newspapers is a critical voice in communities across the nation that must be preserved.'

The hearing, "The Future of Newspapers: The Impact on the Economy and Democracy," is to "examine contraction in the newspaper industry, the economic impact of the changing media landscape, as well as the future of the industry at large."

Maloney and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., have introduced the 'Newspaper Revitalization Act of 2009,' legislation that would allow community and metropolitan papers to become nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations similar to public broadcasting.

The other witnesses are Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism; Dr. Paul Starr, professor of sociology and public affairs, Stuart Chair of Communications and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University; and John F. Sturm, president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, the newspaper publishers' trade group.

A similar hearing was held in May, chaired by John Kerry, D-Mass. "Of the five panelists, there were no black representatives and only one minority," Barbara Ciara, then-president of the National Association of Black Journalists, wrote of that hearing of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. "It is disgraceful that a discussion on Capitol Hill about the future of newspapers can happen without doing more to incorporate the perspectives of America's increasingly diverse population."

Similarly, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, wrote, "An examination of the future of journalism should also include a careful look at news outlets that serve primarily African American and other communities of color," adding that many of the outlets "are fighting for their very lives amid this faltering economy."

Asked about these comments, Maloney's office responded within three hours with an announcement adding Barnes' name to the witness list.

As publisher of the Informer, Barnes follows in the path of activist parents. Her father, Calvin W. Rolark Sr., who died in 1994 at age 67. was founding publisher of the paper. Her mother, Wilhelmina J. Rolark, who died in 2006. was a member of the District of Columbia City Council. They started the Informer in 1964.

The hearing begins at 10 a.m. and is to be Webcast on the Web page of the Joint Economic Committee.

Reznet Founder Plans Return to Big-City Journalism

Denny McAuliffeDenny McAuliffe, who created and directs the Reznet News training program for young Native American journalists, said Wednesday he is leaving the University of Montana-based project to return to the Washington Post, where he worked for nearly 16 years.

"Never in a million years did i think this would happen," McAuliffe said via e-mail.

He wrote to colleagues, "it comes at a perfect time for us — we're now empty nesters and, with luck, we'll be back East in time for the births of our twin grandchildren in N.C.

"And though I've loved teaching, mentoring, editing and working with everyone involved with Reznet, the American Indian Journalism Institute and the University of Montana journalism school, it'll be great to get back in the newsroom and once again work for the great paper I love and have missed since leaving nearly 11 years ago."

The Post said it had offered McAuliffe the job of overnight news editor and was waiting for the t's to be crossed and i's to be dotted before the hiring becomes official.

McAuliffe, an Osage tribal member who is also on the editorial advisory board of its tribal paper, the Osage News, has been at the University of Montana since 1999.

For his work on reznet, McAuliffe, 59, won the University of Montana’s 2006-07 Nancy Borgmann Diversity Award and the 2005 Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship from the National Conference of Editorial Writers, presented annually to a journalism educator who has worked to increase diversity in the news business.

Peggy Kuhr, dean of the School of Journalism, said Montana planned to fill the Reznet position on an interim basis and conduct a national search. The winning candidate will have journalistic credibility, a proven fundraising record and be familiar with Native American issues in journalism. The salary will be competitive, she said. While the position is considered part of the faculty, sometimes McAuliffe taught and sometimes he did not, she said.

"This is the kind of thing that the president of the university on down has supported. It's the kind of opportunity to take the project to the next level," Kuhr said, citing the school's new Native American center, opening in the next year, as an added attraction.

Jerry Mitchell says he may take periodic breaks from the Clarion-Ledger to devote more time to his work on "cold cases" from the civil rights era. (Credit: MacArthur Foundation).

Reporter on Civil Rights Crimes Wins "Genius Grant"

Jerry Mitchell of the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger, who since 1989 has dedicated much of his reporting to the unsolved crimes of the civil rights era, on Tuesday was named one of 24 recipients of a MacArthur "genius grant."

Each is to receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

"Mitchell said he may take periodic breaks from The Clarion-Ledger to devote more time to the work, although he said he will publish the findings in the pages of the paper that has employed him since 1986. The award is paid in quarterly installments over five years, beginning in 2010," the paper reported.

"Mitchell, 50, has spent the past two decades reporting on unpunished violence during the civil rights movement in Mississippi and the South, beginning with the 1963 killing of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Mitchell's investigation ended in the 1994 conviction of Evers' assassin, Byron De La Beckwith.

"'It never would have happened without Jerry,' Evers' widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, said."

The recipients include another journalist, Lynsey Addario of Turkey.  Her "powerful images are visual testimony to the most pressing conflicts and humanitarian crises of the 21st century. . . . Her most recent project involves photographing survivors of gender-based violence in the Congo and is part of a traveling exhibition intended to increase awareness of the ongoing human rights abuses taking place there," the foundation said.


Herald's Robles Knows How to Quickly Repack Bags

Frances RoblesWhen we last reported on Frances Robles, Miami Herald foreign correspondent, she told Journal-isms she had been at the airport when she got a message on her BlackBerry from World Editor John Yearwood. She had just left the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she was program chair.

There had been a coup in Honduras and she needed to get there, Yearwood told her. It was June 28.

This week, ousted President Manuel Zelaya sneaked back into his country and turned up Monday at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa. For Robles, the situation nearly repeated itself.

She "had been home mere minutes from another overseas assignment when i asked her to repack her bags — this time for honduras," Yearwood told Journal-isms via e-mail. "(she was scheduled to leave the following day to cover latin america and caribbean leaders, including zelaya, as they addressed the [U.N.] general assembly in ny.) she couldn't get on an afternoon flight to tegucigalpa because they were all oversold. it turned out the flight was later canceled after honduran authorities closed the airports and sealed land borders. she booked the first flight the following morning, whch was also canceled. she then caught a flight to managua, nicaragua and drove for five hours to tegucigalpa. she arrived just before deadline and was able to co-byline a story with Jim Wyss in Miami, who was pulling together string as [Robles] drove in. she's amazing!"

In Thursday's Herald, Robles reported on a series of back-to-back interviews with Zelaya.

"It's been 89 days since Manuel Zelaya was booted from power. He's sleeping on chairs, and he claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and 'Israeli mercenaries' are torturing him with high-frequency radiation," she wrote.

Peter Hart of Fairness & Accuracy in Media, the progressive media watch group, sounded a discordant note, however. He was critical overall of news coverage, writing on Tuesday, "press accounts still manage to mangle the story behind his ouster, relying on those who supported the coup to explain what happened."

Security guard Joe Palmer, left, narrator for the Detroit Free Press multimedia project on Christ Child House, with Kathleen Galligan, lead photographer, and Brian Kaufman, lead videographer and producer. (Credit: Detroit Free Press)

Security Guard Helps Detroit Free Press Win Emmy

A security guard at the Detroit Free Press helped the newspaper win its fourth Emmy Award in New York on Monday night.

Joe Palmer, 45, has been a security guard at the newspaper for 13 years, but he is also a 2005 graduate of the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts in Southfield, Mich., and with that distinction inscribed on his business card, let his avocation be known to colleagues.

So when the Free Press was creating a multimedia project for its series on Detroit Christ Child House, "an intimate look at daily routines, tender moments and the rawest pain of some of the state's legal orphans," Palmer's name came up when the newspaper it decided it needed a narrator.

"I knew he had this really nice deep voice; he was thoroughly eager to do it," Kathy Kieliszewski, deputy director of photography and video, told Journal-isms. His voice was "gritty and tough but melodic and good. It had this really nice balance that spoke to what the project was about," she said.

"The boys at Christ Child House on Detroit's west side are a sliver of Michigan's foster care system and its more than 6,000 legal orphans. As they wait to be reunified with families or adopted, they share tears and tantrums, giggles and hugs, uncertain futures and some surprisingly happy endings," begins the story on the Free Press Web site.

"Emotionally, physically and often sexually abused, the boys at Christ Child carry with them the kinds of scars that require round-the-clock support, immeasurable patience and daily medication," Tuesday's story said.

Palmer worked on the project after his 8 a.m.-to-4 p.m. shift.

Palmer, Kieliszewski and Nancy Andrews, Free Press managing editor/digital media, all said they were happy that some of the children — at least six — found homes as a result of the series. The newspaper also used musicians in its video, including one who had himself been a ward of the state.

On Monday, six people from the Free Press, two officially representing the company, accepted the award in New York. Palmer was among them. On Wednesday, back in Detroit, the Free Press newsroom celebrated with champagne.

After the Christ Child House project, Palmer narrated a Free Press video on the abandoned Michigan Central Train Station, and among other work, voiced an "audio obituary" for a friend that was played at the funeral.

Not all stories lend themselves to narrators, Kieliszewski said. Some have more authenticity when the reporters themselves speak; most are better without any narration.

But this one worked, and Palmer said he plans to spend the required $300 to get his own individual Emmy statuette. One was given to the Free Press collectively.

"I'm probably more optimistic in my life now than I've ever been, in terms of my professional life," Palmer said.

Smiley Addressed Wells Fargo "Many Months Ago"

Tavis Smiley, the broadcast personality and activist, issued this statement on Tuesday in the wake of stories about his decision to cut off ties with Wells Fargo Bank:

"Recently there has been a flurry of false reports about my relationship with Wells Fargo Bank and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. amidst charges that the company unfairly steered African American customers into costly sub-prime mortgages.

"I addressed this issue many months ago with a statement posted on my website during the first quarter of this year when these allegations against Wells Fargo first surfaced.

"My statement thoroughly explained that I was no longer conducting any business with the Wells Fargo Company. That initial statement has remained accessible on my website homepage since it was first posted, shortly after the State of the Black Union symposium, February 2009.

"Those who are now suggesting and reporting that I cut my company’s ties to Wells Fargo just days ago are wrong. I have informed those persons who have reported this false information on the Internet of their error and have requested that they make the necessary corrections.

"Compelled by my personal experience years ago as a victim of redlining and predatory banking practices in South Central Los Angeles, I remain committed to spreading a message of self-determination through financial literacy to African Americans and to all who will listen."

Short Takes

  • The Radio-Television News Directors Association is changing its name to the Radio Television Digital News Association, effective Oct. 13, the association said. "For some not familiar with RTNDA, the name 'Radio Television News Directors Association' implies that we might not have services, information or importance to anyone who wasn't a news director. As you all know, that's not the case. RTNDA is for all electronic journalists," board members wrote.
  • October's 'O' Magazine"O: The Oprah Magazine has announced several new hires, filling out the editorial department under new editor-in-chief Susan Casey," as Amanda Ernst reported last week for FishBowl NY, but it was unclear to whether any of its editors are of color. A spokeswoman for the parent Hearst Corp. did not respond to inquiries. "Among the new hires are former Marie Claire executive editor Lucy Kaylin, who has been named deputy editor; Patrick Mitchell, who is taking the role of design director; former Publishers Weekly editor-in-chief Sara Nelson, who has been named books director; former Prevention senior editor Tyler Graham, who will be health and environment editor and Jennifer Rainey Marquez, formerly of Women's Health, who will take on the role of senior editor."¬†
  • "Landing an appearance by the president seems to be a game-changer at least for one show in late-night television. On Monday night, President Obama lifted David Letterman to his most-watched 'Late Show' in four years, with a total of 7.218 million viewers," Bill Carter reported for the New York Times.
  • "The company that produces 'The Tom Joyner Morning Show' on Monday filed suit in Dallas against Clear Channel Broadcasting over the nationally syndicated radio program's cancellation by Chicago's WVAZ-FM 102.7 this spring," Phil Rosenthal reported on Monday for the Chicago Tribune. "The suit, filed by Reach Media in Texas' Dallas County District Court, alleges breach of contract by Clear Channel and claims Reach is out more than $800,000 in affiliation fees and net advertising revenue lost from May until the end of this year."
  • In addition to the typical public service announcements and advertisements, the Census Bureau is helping to compose a remarkable story line featuring the Perla Beltr?°n character on popular Spanish-language soap opera ‚ÄúM?°s Sabe el Diablo,‚Äù ‚ÄúThe Devil Knows Best,‚Äù Brian Stelter wrote Tuesday for the New York Times. "It may be the first plotline on a soap opera blessed by the United States government. 'It‚Äôs the perfect vehicle for product placement,' said Patricia Gaitan, a communications consultant for the bureau, as she watched the taping . . . She swiftly gave the technique a new name: 'people placement.'‚Äù
  • "The Federal Communication Commission's Diversity Committee has recommended that the agency renew its . . . studies examining market entry barriers to women and minorities, and to make sure that the peer-reviewed studies have sufficient funding so that the result could meet the standards of a reviewing court," John Eggerton wrote Wednesday for Multichannel News.
  • "October brought no relief for consumer magazines, with monthlies posting a 20.1% drop in ad pages compared to the same month last year, contributing to a total decline of 22% in the first 10 months of 2009, according to new figures from the Media Industry Newsletter," Erik Sass reported Tuesday for Media Post. Ebony was down 40.1 percent to 485 ad pages. O, the Oprah Magazine, was down 30.5 percent to 1,039 pages.
  • "The Committee to Protect Journalists will honor courageous journalists from Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Azerbaijan with its 2009 International Press Freedom Awards at a ceremony in November," the group announced on Wednesday. "Mustafa Haji Abdinur of Somalia, Naziha R?©jiba of Tunisia, Eynulla Fatullayev of Azerbaijan, and J.S. Tissainayagam of Sri Lanka and have faced imprisonment, threats of violence, and censorship to stand up for press freedom in their countries." In addition, "Anthony Lewis, noted author, journalist, and scholar, will receive CPJ‚Äôs Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in recognition of his continued efforts to ensure a free press around the world."
  • "Add another feather in the veritable bird's nest that is Gingrich Inc.," Michael Scherer wrote Tuesday for Time. "The former Speaker of the House, and all-around conservative idea-smith, has launched a news website for Hispanic Americans, the rapidly growing segment of swing voters. It's called The Americano, and it is the bilingual brainchild of Sylvia Garcia, a longtime employee of Gingrich Communications, the former speaker's consulting business. 'The idea came during the election,' Garcia says. 'There really isn't any media that is covering conservative values for Hispanics. Everything you see is very one-sided.'"
  • Charlayne Hunter-GaultVeteran journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the first African American to enter the University of Georgia and a graduate of what was then the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism, is one of four new members of the Peabody Awards Board, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication announced Tuesday.
  • Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer known for her narrative works, has been named the 2009 Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer at the University of Nevada, Reno's Reynolds School of Journalism, the school announced. The designation is essentially for a speaking event, and Wilkerson, who began teaching this semester at Boston University, plans to discuss her craft in a free lecture at Nevada on Oct. 7.
  • "Reporters Without Borders is outraged that the Iranian judicial authorities are continuing to hold journalists employed by foreign news media including, Maziar Bahari, the correspondent of the US news magazine Newsweek, arrested exactly three months ago, and Fariba Pajooh, a stringer for Radio France Internationale and other media, who today begins her second month in detention," the press freedom organization said on Tuesday. "Bahari has dual Canadian and Iranian citizenship."

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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Tony Cox

Congratulations to Tony for his show on [public radio.] He is a pro, a great interviewer and so deserving of what I regard as a well-earned reward for steady, hard work.

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