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TV Veteran Lyne Pitts Joins The Root

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Producer, Executive Named Site's Interim Managing Editor

Producer, Executive Named Site's Interim Managing Editor

Lyne Pitts, a television news veteran who most recently headed up the U.S. news operation for an international TV news startup, started work Thursday as interim managing editor of The Root, the African American-oriented site owned by the Washington Post Co., publisher Donna Byrd told Journal-isms.

Lyne Pitts

Pitts, who will remain based in New York, was named one of five vice presidents of NBC News in 2007 and spent 23 years at CBS News, where she was a producer. She left NBC News in 2009 and is married to ABC News chief national correspondent Byron Pitts. "She has a strong reputation as a journalist" and valuable experience in producing news, Byrd said.

Byrd noted that television is migrating to the Internet.

By one estimate, 40 percent of subscribers to cable, DSL and fiber-to-home services are accessing at least some video programming through video services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and iTunes, as well as through applications for mobile devices through the Internet. For those under age 35, the figure jumps to 70 percent.

Pitts' appointment also means that The Root "will continue to focus on the news and continue to do what's important for our community," Byrd said.

Sheryl Huggins Salomon stepped down as managing editor of The Root in June after three years. The editorial content was subsequently managed by Lauren Williams, who soon left for Mother Jones, and then by a team that included Christopher Jenkins, a Post editor who heads TheRootDC section at the Post.

The Washington Post Co. is selling the Post newspaper to Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, and Jenkins will no longer work for The Root effective Oct. 1, Byrd said. The Post Co. retains its Internet properties, including Slate and The Root.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Root's editor-in-chief, co-founded the site in 2008 with Donald E. Graham, chairman of the Post Co. Gates is also the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, as well as director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Gates brought to the Root his fascination with genealogy and DNA analysis, which he has used to produce television specials tracing the backgrounds of highly accomplished African Americans. Another Gates documentary series, "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross," begins on PBS on Oct. 22, airing in six parts.

Byrd said there was no timetable for appointing a permanent managing editor for The Root. While the site received "a number of applications" for the managing editor's job, they are no longer being considered, she said.

However, the site is looking for a news analyst/opinion writer, a multimedia staffer and an intern, she said. "Journal-isms" appears on The Root through an arrangement with the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

Along with other African American journalists, Pitts had been working from New York with Arise News, a 24-hour international TV news operation that launched in February, headed by Nigerian media mogul Nduka Obaigbena, chairman and founder of the Nigerian newspaper THISDAY. It lists news centers in London, New York, Johannesburg and Lagos, Nigeria.

Obaigbena also publishes ARISE, described on its website as "Africa's first and foremost international style magazine." However, Pitts said she left in July after having established two broadcasts. "My time there had just run its course," she told Journal-isms.

Despite reports of financial turmoil, Pitts said other staffers remain. Among those working for the site at its launch were New York broadcaster Gary Anthony Ramsay; Johannesburg-based Jeff Koinange, formerly CNN's star Africa reporter; Debbye Turner Bell, a former CBS correspondent; and Washington-based James Blue, former producer with ABC News' "Nightline" and NBC's "Today" show, who is director of current affairs and special projects, according to the Arise website.

No Blacks in the Boardroom

September 11, 2013

News Corp, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Discovery on the List

NAHJ Plans to Sit Out Election for Unity President

Unity Joins Critics of Riptide Project's Lack of Diversity

Majority in Instant Poll Favor Obama's Approach on Syria


Mayor's Race, Obama Compete With 9/11 Anniversary in N.Y.

Ken Moritsugu Named AP Bureau Chief for Japan

Don Lemon Joins Joyner Show as Commentator

Short Takes

Since the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD) began a census of Fortune 100 board

News Corp, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Discovery on the List

"In our research to create the [Black Enterprise] Registry of Corporate Directors, our listing of black board members from the 250 largest companies on the S&P 500, we discovered that 75 companies — 30% — currently do not have any blacks on their boards including quite a few household names," Black Enterprise magazine reports in the "Featured Gallery" on its website.

Some are companies employing journalists: News Corp, chaired by Rupert Murdoch; Berkshire Hathaway Inc., whose CEO is business magnate Warren Buffett; Discovery Communications, creator of the Discovery Channel that is in partnership with Oprah Winfrey for her Oprah Winfrey Network; Amazon.com, headed by Jeff Bezos, who is about to purchase the Washington Post; and Yahoo, whose Yahoo News has been called the most-visited news site on the web.

Others are big-name tech companies that have been notoriously secretive about their diversity figures: Apple, Google, Intel. And there is eBay, which competes with newspapers for the revenue they draw from classified ads.

In March, the independent Gannett blog reported the departure of Arthur Harper, the sole African American on the board of the Gannett Co., the nation's largest newspaper company.

"The browning of America hasn't extended into the boardrooms of some of America's largest publicly traded corporations — a number that benefit from black consumers to gain market share," Black Enterprise said. It added, "As we developed the following list, our editors reached out to the executive offices or investor relations departments of every company with a series of e-mails and phone calls to gain explanations for the absence of black representation as well as the lack of recruitment effort. We found that 58 of these companies, however, failed to provide us with any response."

David C. Drummond

The lack of diversity at the top extends beyond the paucity of African Americans.

In August, the Alliance for Board Diversity, representing black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific American groups, reported that "women and minorities have made no real gains in the boardrooms of corporate America. The ABD is a collaboration of four leadership organizations: Catalyst, The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), and Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP)."

A news release said, "According to the report, Missing Pieces: Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards, 2012 Alliance for Board Diversity Census, in the Fortune 100, women and minorities remain vastly underrepresented at the decision-making tables of corporate boardrooms, with white/Caucasian men comprising nearly 70 percent of the 1,214 seats. The trend is similar in the Fortune 500, with white/Caucasian men accounting for 73.3 percent of the total 5,488 board seats. Overall, there have been only very small gains in boardroom representation since the first ABD census of Fortune 100 board directors in 2004.

"Women and minorities also continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles in boardrooms. Among the five major categories assessed — Board chair, lead director, audit committee chair, nomination/governance committee chair, and compensation committee chair — women and minority men experienced small increases in leadership positions on boards. Minority women were the only group that did not make any gains in leadership positions.

" 'We continue to find the research troubling because the ABD believes in the business proposition that when diversity leads, business succeeds. We know that in order to sustain long-term success, companies must continually create new ideas and solutions,' stated ELC President and CEO Ronald C. Parker. 'This innovation is driven by diversity of thinking at every level of the organization, especially within senior leadership teams and in the boardroom. Women and minorities are an important part of that equation.' . . . "

Despite the absence of African Americans on their boards, some of the media companies cited show other evidence of diversity. At Google, for example, David C. Drummond, an African American, is senior vice president, corporate development and chief legal officer.

News Corp, whose properties include Dow Jones, the New York Post and HarperCollins Publishers, was a "presenting sponsor" of last month's Asian American Journalists Association convention in New York. (Fox News and the Fox broadcast network, as well as the 20th Century Fox movie studio, were spun off from News Corp this year and trade under the name 21st Century Fox.)

With no trace of irony, the company said in a full-page ad in a program booklet, "At News Corp, we appreciate the importance of creating an environment in which all of our employees can feel valued, included and empowered to bring great ideas to the table."

How diverse is the board of directors at your organization? Comment publicly or privately.

NAHJ Plans to Sit Out Election for Unity President

Hugo Balta of NAHJ and Doris Truong, acting Unity presidentThe National Association of Hispanic Journalists "will not be participating in the election" for president of Unity: Journalists for Diversity this month, NAHJ President Hugo Balta told Journal-isms on Wednesday, because the election by the Unity board will take place before NAHJ decides its future relationship with the coalition.

"We have communicated to Unity that the NAHJ reps will not participate in any meeting of Unity until the NAHJ board definitely decides" NAHJ's role in the coalition, Balta said.

Michele Salcedo, the immediate past NAHJ president, said in a Facebook discussion that she disagrees. "The bottom line: you can't effect change unless you are part of the discussion in good faith. And, despite assurances to the contrary, NAHJ has, in its coordinated absence from the board, de facto pulled out without so much as consulting the board or the membership," she said.

NAHJ has four votes on the board, as do the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the other coalition partners.

At its national convention last month in Anaheim, Calif., Balta indicted the structure of Unity, saying it was unfair for the larger Unity groups to have the same number of votes as the smaller ones. Balta said his efforts to change the structure have gotten nowhere.

"We're frustrated, and we've got to act," Balta told his members. He said that two years after the National Association of Black Journalists left the coalition over the same reasons of finances, governance, transparency and mission that have made NAHJ unhappy, "there hasn't been a definitive change."

Doris Truong, acting president of Unity, told Journal-isms that the board planned to vote this month. She said on Facebook Wednesday, "The concerns raised by NAHJ (and NABJ) are shared by everyone on the UNITY board. We have been attempting since June to reach a consensus on how to move forward. Now that convention season is over, I hope we'll be able to focus on the issues at hand.

"As was posted Aug. 29, UNITY is working to elect a president. That is the first order of business before we can productively continue other discussions because we need a full Executive Committee in place before undertaking any changes in the governance structure. . . ."

Mary Hudetz, president of the Native American Journalists Association, heads the Unity nominating committee. "I formally opened up the call for nominations for UNITY president on Monday, with the goal of finishing the process by the last week of September," Hudetz said by email. Truong did not respond when asked whether she planned to seek the Unity presidency. There are no declared candidates, Hudetz said.

Balta said of Unity, "They want to do business as usual" and that "delaying it (the election) a couple of weeks" would not be detrimental. He said that the NAHJ board would review information he had requested from Unity and that members then would discuss NAHJ's participation in the coalition in a town hall meeting.

He said NAHJ has continued talks with NABJ about a joint convention in 2016, the same year Unity is scheduled to meet.

More than 60 thought leaders were interviewed by the researchers. (Credit: niemanlab.org)

Unity Joins Critics of Riptide Project's Lack of Diversity

"UNITY: Journalists for Diversity has a theory on why the news industry has been caught in a riptide: Journalism has failed to adapt to and serve the tectonic shift in the U.S. — a demographic shift from baby boomers to millennials, and from white to brown," the coalition said in a statement Wednesday, joining critics of the Riptide journalism project whose findings were released on Monday.

"We're excited that Harvard Kennedy School's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy launched the Riptide project to document the downturn in journalism in the last 30 years. This is a ripe area of research and a vibrant democracy depends on a foundation of public-service journalism.

"We're disappointed and frustrated that out of more than 60 thought leaders interviewed by the researchers, only two were people of color and five were women. The vast majority of people interviewed were over the age of 40.

" 'Diversity means representing a multitude of life experiences, so it's disheartening to see that something called a "project on media and lack of diversity" draws mostly from homogenous sources,' said Doris Truong, acting UNITY president. 'As UNITY pointed out last year, journalism has a history built from a rich cast.'

"The Shorenstein Center has expressed interest in doing another round of interviews. While we believe diversity is more than an appendix to the last 30 years, here are journalism and technology leaders we recommend for interviews: Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo; Mi-Ai Parrish, publisher of The Kansas City Star; Dori Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism [Education]; Ben Huh, founder of Cheezburger Network; and Greg Moore, editor of the Denver Post. We would be happy to provide more. . . . "

Reached by email on Monday, the study’s authors, John Huey, Martin Nisenholtz and Paul Sagan, said, "We started by identifying the institutions that we believed were central to the Riptide story — the change of news through the rise of digital technology, beginning around 1980. Then we sought to interview many of the key people at those institutions. At that time, they were, regrettably, overwhelmingly white and male," Andrew Beaujon reported for the Poynter Institute.

"Riptide was always intended to be an organic project that would be expanded over time with other voices exploring more and more parts of this story. That's why we created it as a website. We welcome suggestions for voices or topics that could now be added to Riptide. People should feel encouraged to send them to us via shorenstein_center@hks.harvard.edu."

Majority in Instant Poll Favor Obama's Approach on Syria

"A majority of Americans who watched President Barack Obama's prime time address to the nation on Tuesday said they favor the approach to Syria that the president spelled out in his speech, according to an instant poll," Paul Steinhauser reported Tuesday night for CNN.

"But an exclusive CNN/ORC International survey of speech-watchers conducted immediately after the conclusion of Obama's address also indicates that those who tuned into the address were split on whether the president made the case for military action against Syria.

"Sixty percent of those questioned said it was not in the national interests of the U.S. to be involved in the bloody two year old Syrian civil war, and more than half said the speech did not change their confidence in the president's leadership on military and international issues. . . ."

Meanwhile, CNN correspondent Sanjay Gupta said on Tuesday that he believes there is a critical component missing from much of the media's coverage of the conflict, Katherine Fung reported for the Huffington Post.

"Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, has been reporting on the conditions facing Syrian refugees. . . . He has been visiting refugee camps along the Syria-Lebanon border, and reported from a camp in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley on Monday.

"Speaking from Beirut on Tuesday, he told The Huffington Post that those refugees deserved more coverage.

" 'We don't hear enough about who the people are who are really being affected,' Gupta said when asked to assess news coverage about Syria. 'We hear the numbers — 100,000 dead, 1,400 people were gassed — and we hear those as big headlines, but when you meet some of these people, I think that really brings it home.'

"The camps, he added, were 'among the worst that [he has] seen' in terms of quality and sustainability in costs and supplies,' " adding that the refugees' experiences are more complex than what people at home may see in the media.

Mayor's Race, Obama Compete With 9/11 Anniversary in N.Y.

Daily News front page refers to Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio's

"New York's newspapers mostly left the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks off their front pages on Wednesday," Jack Mirkinson reported for the Huffington Post.

"Besides a picture on the front of the Wall Street Journal, and a teaser on the bottom of the New York Daily News, the papers focused on two stories: Bill de Blasio's victory in the city's Democratic primary and President Obama's speech about the ongoing situation in Syria. . . "

In conjunction with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pew Research Center reported, "More than two years after the death of Osama bin Laden, concern about Islamic extremism remains widespread among Muslims from South Asia to the Middle East to sub-Saharan Africa.

"Across 11 Muslim publics surveyed by the Pew Research Center, a median of 67% say they are somewhat or very concerned about Islamic extremism. In five countries — Pakistan, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey and Indonesia — Muslim worries about extremism have increased in the past year. . . ."

Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" and the Associated Press reminded listeners and readers that Sept. 11 was also the anniversary of the 1973 coup led by army Gen. Augusto Pinochet against Salvador Allende, Chile's first Marxist president.

Daily News front page refers to Democratic mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio's

Ken Moritsugu Named AP Bureau Chief for Japan

Ken Moritsugu, Asia-Pacific enterprise editor for the Associated Press and national vice president/print of the Asian American Journalists Association was named the AP's bureau chief for Japan, the news cooperative announced Tuesday.

"As Tokyo bureau chief, Moritsugu will oversee text coverage and operations in Japan and work closely with colleagues in photos and video to coordinate AP's report across all media platforms. He succeeds Malcolm Foster, who has transferred to AP's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Bangkok as an editor.

"Since joining the AP as enterprise editor based in Bangkok in 2007, Moritsugu has overseen major projects and in-depth, investigative and data journalism throughout the Asia-Pacific region. . . ."

He is also the son of Henry Moritsugu, assistant news editor at Newsday.

Don Lemon Joins Joyner Show as Commentator

Don Lemon

Who are America's black leaders? Not the activists, or entrepreneurs, community mobilizers or preachers. According to Don Lemon, the new black leaders are the Waka Flockas, Rihannas and Beyoncés of the world, HuffPost BlackVoices reported on Tuesday.

The CNN reporter and anchor "debuted his new segment on the Tom Joyner Morning Show Tuesday, talking about a topic he's grown comfortable discussing as of late: the issues within the black community. He insisted that the burden of leadership in the community has shifted. . . ."

Lemon's segment is to air Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:16 a.m. Eastern time. He said on Tuesday, "I want you to ask yourself the last time you heard a young person walking around singing a church hymn. [Audio]

"Because just yesterday, just yesterday, I'm walking on St. Nicholas Avenue, two separate young men were singing a French Montana rap song: "N- Ain't worried about nothing." You know that song?" N- Ain't worried about nothing," right? They actually say the word. They're walking with their headphones on, their screaming on St. Nicholas Avenue.

"So that's why in my work as a journalist, I constantly challenge and urge the rap, hip-hop and music powerbrokers to step on to the stage of positive influence and into the fulfillment of Dr. [Martin Luther] King's dream, because whether they realize it or not they are the new breed, they are the new black leaders. They are the influences of our time. And I don't mean that I challenge them in a negative way. I mean that in the best possible way, that their names can too be one day be worthy of boulevards, and avenues, and streets. . . ."

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 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.

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