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Tyler Perry Fans Force Apology

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

CBS Affiliate Sorry for Questions to Janet Jackson

Filmmaker Tyler Perry has demonstrated that the news media have underestimated how popular his films are among African Americans, and now he has taught a Sacramento television station not to underestimate the wrath of his fans.

Entertainment reporter Mark S. Allen of KOVR-TV's "Good Day Sacramento" apologized to viewers on Friday after receiving at least 13,000 complaints from fans of Perry and Janet Jackson, a star in Perry's latest film, "Why Did I Get Married?" over an Oct. 11 interview that the "Good Day Sacramento" hosts did with the two entertainers.

"I was a jerk, an absolute jerk," Allen said.

As the station, a CBS affiliate, reported, "Hosts Marianne McClary, Nick Toma and entertainment reporter Mark S. Allen stayed on topic, at least for the first half of the interview. Later on, eager for the chance to finally ask the questions that had burned in his mind for four years, Allen fired away.


"'Hey, Janet, anything happen to you at the Super Bowl?' asked Allen.

"Immediately, Jackson appeared to have problems with her earpiece while Perry quickly jumped in, trying to change the subject. But Allen wouldn't let up.

"'How often do you consider that you single-handedly rocked the broadcast world?' asked Allen.

"Jackson remained mum, sitting quietly, while Perry ran interference during the questioning. Allen repeatedly tried to get an answer from her on the notorious wardrobe malfunction, but none was forthcoming."

After the show, Perry fans sprung into action.

"I had to maintain my composure because we were live on the air. I didn't let her speak," Perry told his supporters in an Oct. 14 note posted on his Web site. "I kept jumping in because it was just so unfair to her. I have not seen Justin Timberlake attacked like that. I wasn't going to let them do that to her. Believe me when I tell you — Janet worked so hard on this film. She deserved more respect from this man than that! We both did."

Then, "In his latest letter to fans, Perry states: 'After you all saw that interview that Janet and I did; you started an email campaign that ended in this man going on air and giving an apology. He got so many emails that it crashed the computer system at the TV station. The other employees couldn't get emails from what I understand,'" the EURWeb site reported on Monday.

A station spokeswoman told Journal-isms that at least 13,000 people contacted the station and it was responding to each one. It was having difficulty trying to determine how many individuals had commented, since some sent e-mails to more than one person at the station. Allen told viewers he had received 19,000 e-mails.

"Why Did I Get Married" stunned Hollywood with a first-place showing in box office receipts its opening weekend, though Perry had done so before. In its second weekend, it came in second place, news agencies reported on Monday.

On Saturday, Angela Tuck, public editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, took the paper to task for not acknowledging the opening of Perry's film, even though Perry didn't allow critics to pre-screen it.

"Nine times out of 10, they've never been kind to me on any of my films," Perry told the newspaper, speaking of critics in a February article.

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Houston Paper Plans Layoffs; Trimming Staff by 5%

"A staff reduction in the five percent range, through layoffs and the elimination of open positions, is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, October 29 and 30, 2007," Jack Sweeney, publisher of the Houston Chronicle, wrote to employees on Monday.

"In this complex and competitive media environment, with consumer choices multiplying daily, our new strategic plan calls for more resources to be dedicated to new technology and product development. We need to operate differently, and at less cost, as we continue to build our lineup of products to capture more audience and ad revenue market share," his note said.

"That, coupled with a downturn in our financial performance over the past five years, plus an '08 budget projection with another drop in revenue, sets the stage for a reorganization, and, unfortunately, a position-elimination program."

Sweeney told Journal-isms that diversity would be one of the factors taken into account when the layoffs were made and that he wanted to give employees time to volunteer for buyouts or early-separation packages.

He said he had no target or ceiling for newsroom layoffs, saying, "I would think all departments would be involved." Sweeney said he was looking at losing 70 of the 1,400 full-time employees, and that "most will be job eliminations."

The publisher added that there would be consolidations of functions. "We're trying to do this the best way we can and keep people motivated," he said.

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Williams' Thomas Interview Goes to Time, Not NPR

A Juan Williams interview with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas appeared this month not on National Public Radio, where Williams is a senior correspondent, but in Time magazine.

"Juan did get approached by Justice Thomas but he passed on the offer" for NPR "because he knew there was a standing request" from NPR's "All Things Considered," NPR spokeswoman Andi Sporkin told Journal-isms on Monday.

Williams has a relationship with Thomas that predates Thomas' tenure on the court. In his new memoir, "My Grandfather's Son," Thomas said Williams provided "my closest relationship with a journalist. . . . I'd come to believe that he was a decent man looking for the truth."


However, Williams was at odds with NPR last month after the White House offered him an interview with President Bush. NPR turned it down and Williams did the interview for Fox News, where he is a commentator. Williams told the Washington Post he was "stunned" by NPR's decision, which NPR said was based on the principle that it, and not the White House, should choose the interviewer.

Ellen Weiss, vice president of NPR News, later wrote a note to staffers explaining that "Juan and I have spoken at length about this situation and he offered me the following to share: '. . . I respect NPR's management. They have the right to refuse any interview opportunity. . . .'"

Sporkin told Journal-isms, "Juan has a deal with Time Magazine to contribute essays, interviews and other pieces, and the print interview with Justice Thomas was part of that arrangement. Separately, the formal NPR request to the publisher for a Justice Thomas broadcast interview was with 'All Things Considered' and host Michele Norris; that's where and how we frequently air author interviews. (NPR refers to this submission of requests as the 'dibs' process: a show puts dibs on a specific interview or guest). Juan did get approached by Justice Thomas but he passed on the offer because he knew there was a standing request from ATC."

Thomas has not granted the "All Things Considered" interview request.

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Candidates Split on Appearing on New Imus Show

"Only two major presidential hopefuls said yesterday they would go on the air with radio cowboy Don Imus if he returns to the airwaves in December," Michael McAuliff and Adam Lisberg reported Monday in the New York Daily News.

"Despite Imus' history of on-air racial blunders, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said they would return to Imus' show, saying the talker deserves a second chance.


"In a Daily News Op-Ed yesterday, former Democratic presidential hopeful Bob Kerrey praised Imus' skills as an interviewer. Kerrey said he would welcome the chance to rejoin Imus — and cautioned Democrats that they spurned the show at their peril.

"Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) 'does not intend to go on the show and hopes that Imus has learned from the hurt and pain he caused,' spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), said 'she hasn't done it before. I can't imagine her ever doing it in the future.'

"The campaign of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani didn't comment, but Giuliani said before Imus was fired that he would not boycott the shock jock."

In an essay that longstanding Imus monitor Philip Nobile submitted to Journal-isms, Nobile recalled an anti-bigotry pledge administered to Imus in 2000 by Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page, which Imus later broke. "Imus needs to renew his anti-bigotry pledge, if he has any hope for recovery," Nobile said. His essay appears at the end of today's column.

Many South Asians Conflicted About Jindal's Win

Nearly all the news stories about Bobby Jindal's victory Saturday in the Louisiana governor's race mentioned that the 36-year-old Republican was the son of immigrant parents, the first Indian-American to win a governorship or that he will be the first nonwhite governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction.

"Have I popped champagne? Yes, I have," Anna John wrote in a blog posting linked to from the South Asian Journalists Association Web site. "No, I don't believe in teaching Intelligent Design, I certainly am not an advocate of getting rid of a woman's right to choose and I still support hate crime legislation.

"I can guzzle bubbly despite all that, because there's something else stirring within me — recognition that someone who looks like me did something so significant, combined with an uncomplicated thrill over the fact that Bobby made history.

"There are so many valid reactions to Jindal . . . many of us . . are conflicted about Louisiana's new Governor. The good news is, there are no wrong reactions."

Sree Sreenivasan, a SAJA founder, assembled a collection of stories about the milestone under the headline, "JINDAL: The Day After and The Day After The Day After."

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Role of Race Debated in Coverage of White Shooter

Journalists are examining the role that race played in the coverage of the mass shooting at a majority-black Cleveland high school in which the shooter, Asa Coon, was white, a fact not immediately publicized.


"The fact that Coon was white, I believe, has subtly affected the tone of local media coverage," columnist Phillip Morris wrote Thursday in the Plain Dealer. "I work with incredibly talented colleagues who have left few stones unturned in most of their coverage of the violence that has settled over Greater Cleveland this year.

"But I believe the coverage of Coon, to date, at this paper and on TV has been a little more nuanced and probing in its search for a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances that led to his rampage— much more so than the other recent carnage we have endured. I can't prove it. But I sense it.

"The profile that has emerged of Coon has been more of that of a 'victim' than a would-be mass murderer.

"It's subtle, but the reportage has been a bit softer, the commentary far less judgmental. The word 'thug' has been kept out of the lexicon of the story. The invariable community screams for the whereabouts of his absentee father have been strangely silent."

Plain Dealer reader representative Ted Diadiun examined many of the racial aspects of the case on Sunday and concluded, "Phillip was right to remind us all that our words and tone don't hit everyone the same way."

In the Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader, columnist Merlene Davis took to task Fox News host John Gibson.

"On Oct. 10, when news accounts reported a shooting at a Cleveland alternative school, Gibson, a Fox News radio and TV host, quickly worked out a program condemning hip-hop music," she wrote.

". . . The man went from blaming a black student who listens to hip-hop for the shootings to blaming a white kid who listens to hip-hop, to saying once the student committed suicide it was obvious he was white.

"How many racist, insensitive things can be said in such a short time?

In a note to Journal-isms, Debra Adams Simmons, the Plain Dealer's new managing editor, addressed the issue of why no photo of Coon was published immediately.

"We published Asa Coon's photo as soon as we had it, which unfortunately was the second day of this tragic story," she said. "We scoured every possible source — yearbooks, social networking web sites, people who knew him, child welfare agencies — trying to find his picture.

"More than a dozen reporters worked on this story and they were all charged with acquiring his photo. There were reporters who worked exclusively on getting a photo. We learned in our reporting that Asa Coon did not like to be photographed. This made our job even more difficult. Ultimately, someone who knew Asa Coon provided the newspaper with pictures. We also published photos of Asa Coon's brother and mother, both central figures in Asa's life."

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Columnists Debate Meaning of Upsurge in Nooses

"Law enforcement authorities, including the Justice Department, are expressing concern over a recent spate of noose sightings in the aftermath of events in Jena, the small Louisiana town that has been engulfed by racial strife and was the scene of a recent civil rights demonstration," Darryl Fears wrote Saturday in the Washington Post.

"Nooses have been looped over a tree at the University of Maryland, knotted to the end of stage-rigging ropes at a suburban Memphis theater, slung on the doorknob of a black professor's office at Columbia University in New York, hung in a locker room at a Long Island police station, stuffed in the duffel bag of a black Coast Guard cadet aboard a historic ship, and draped around the necks of black dolls in the Pittsburgh suburbs. The hangman's rope has become so prolific, some say, it could replace the Nazi swastika and the Ku Klux Klan's fiery cross as the nation's reigning symbol of hate."

CNN plans a special one-hour investigation on Tuesday at 8pm ET/7pm CT, "The Noose: Lynch Mobs in America," a CNN spokeswoman said. "Anchor Kyra Phillips looks at the harsh reality of what nooses have meant through out America's history, and the climate of fear that this chilling symbol still creates today in the wake of the Jena 6 story."

The development and its implications are also being debated by columnists of color:

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Short Takes

  • "The lack of candor surrounding the resignation of Rick Rodriguez is disturbing to those of us who believe in the power of the truth," the Newspaper Guild unit at the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee said on Monday, commenting on Thursday's departure of the Bee's executive editor. "Did he leave standing up for us and for journalistic principles? Or does the truth lie elsewhere?" Editor & Publisher wrote, "E&P has made about a dozen calls trying to learn more, to no avail."
  • "A brass band in top hats and derbies led the procession from the



  • church to Beale Street as mourners began the final trip with photographer Ernest Withers to Elmwood Cemetery," Michael Lollar wrote Sunday in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The service "stretched to almost four hours at Pentecostal Temple Institutional Church of God In Christ. Speaker after speaker exceeded the two-minute limit as they paid tribute to one of the nation's best-known photographers. His camera was placed in the bronze coffin with him."
  • "Presidential candidate and Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama wants Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin to take a series of intermediary steps before making the leap to rewrite media-ownership rules, saying that not to do so would be irresponsible," John Eggerton wrote Monday in Broadcasting & Cable.
  • "An unexpected announcement from former ABC News anchorwoman Carole Simpson came during a question-and-answer segment" with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader reported on Wednesday. "Simpson, who left broadcasting to teach at Emerson College in Boston, stood up among the crowd and said she was no longer bound by the tenets of professional journalism to remain objective in telling all sides of a story. She was at the meeting with some of her students. 'It's very freeing now that I'm not a journalist and I can speak my mind,' she said to the former first lady. Simpson said she had dreamed that there would be woman president in her lifetime" and endorsed Clinton.
  • "Chanting phrases such as 'BET does not reflect me!' a group of protesters from local Baptist churches demonstrated outside of the home of Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman this Saturday afternoon, demanding an end to demeaning depictions of African Americans in the media," Kate Lovely reported Monday in the Columbia Spectator, student newspaper at Columbia University in New York. "A protest in front of BET President Debra Lee's home in Washington D.C. went on simultaneously."
  • After a gathering of the Online News Association in Toronto that was "not overwhelmingly diverse by any stretch of the imagination," Ju-Don Roberts, the managing editor of who chaired the convention, said the association's president would reach out to other journalism organizations. Among the presenters were Eric Easter of, Hiram Enriquez, programming director of Yahoo! Hispanic Americas, and Katharine Fong of the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News. Journalists of color should be interested in the organization because, "When you come to ONA, you're really looking at the people at the cutting edge of the industry," Roberts told Journal-isms. Next year's conference is scheduled for Washington. Some 600 attended last week.
  • "Ex-president of Mexico Vicente Fox thought he was going to have a low-key interview when he arrived at the studios of Telemundo 52 in Los Angeles, but he got more than he bargained for when the reporter asked him some uncomfortable questions about a current scandal regarding properties owned by his wife, Marta Sahagun," the Web site reported on Wednesday. "In town to promote his English-language autobiography, Fox sat down with reporter Rubén Luengas and it didn't take long for sparks to fly and for the ex-president to eventually explode. . . if you're interested in cutting to the chase, Fox calls Luengas a battery of names, among them 'liar' and 'vulgar.'"
  • "Looking back at the furor over his words in 2004," Bill Cosby, promoting his new "Come on, People: On the Path From Victims to Victors," co-written by Harvard psychiatrist Alvin F. Poussaint, "still bears a grudge against the media — particularly The Washington Post — which gave prominence to a few out-of-context quotes from his remarks," Eugene Kane, columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote on Sunday. "Those words made headlines fueled by the idea of one of the nation's most famous African-Americans speaking out so strongly about issues in the black community that many others wanted to avoid."


Lisa Godley

  • In an on-air shake-up, WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Va., has declined to renew the contracts of veteran newscasters Priscilla Monti and Lisa Godley, while adding three new faces, Sara Morris from El Paso, Texas, Marie Coronel, a general assignment reporter from Hagerstown, Md., and Laila Muhammad, a general assignment reporter from Greenville, N.C., Roberta T. Vowell reported Saturday in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.
  • Before she decided to make no comment, Rebecca Aguilar, the reporter suspended from KDFW-TV in Dallas last week after viewers thought she was callous toward her interview subject, wrote to a complaining viewer, "I'm sorry you took my story the wrong way" and defended her actions. Rafael Olmeda, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, which had named Aguilar Broadcast Journalist of the Year, told Tom Maurstad, media critic of the Dallas Morning News, "You can disagree with the professionalism of her interview tactics, but the punishment is all out of proportion to her offense, and that it's directed at only one person is patently unfair."
  • Under the headline, "Channel 11's Hate O'Clock News," the New York Post's Phil Mushnick Sunday blasted reporter Vanessa Tyler's story on an Orthodox Jewish man beaten into critical condition by a man using a baseball bat. After noting that the suspect is a black male and the incident is being investigated as a hate crime, Tyler said, "Some people say that people get along here. Other people say [that] the Jewish community is clique-ish and un-neighborly." Wrote Mushnick: "Good grief. Does that mean that there was some justification for a member of that Jewish community to be beaten nearly to death with a baseball bat?"
  • "The Cleveland Indians' shot at the World Series is reopening old wounds for many American Indians and human rights activists, who say the team's nickname and logo perpetuate stereotypes. But a team spokesman said Friday people need to understand the history behind the nickname and the logo is an 'individual perception issue,'" Daniel J. Chacon wrote Saturday in the Rocky Mountain News. The Boston Red Sox dashed the Indians' hopes for the World Series by beating Cleveland 11-2 on Sunday night.
  • "Over 10 weeks after the murder of Chauncey Bailey, the newspaper he worked for is struggling to maintain its place as the premier African-American newspaper in the Bay Area. In his first on-the-record interview since the murder, Oakland Post publisher Paul Cobb and his lawyer Walter Riley talk about the day Bailey was killed and their determination to keep the paper afloat," Kevin Weston wrote Oct. 11 for the Chauncey Bailey Project.
  • "The International Federation of Journalists has condemned the assassination on Friday of a leading radio journalist in Somalia where a wave of brutal and targeted attacks has claimed eight media victims this year. On the same day a number of incidents across the country suggested independent media face a new wave of intimidation," the Shabelle Media Network in Somalia said on Monday.
  • "The Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday banned 22 private television channels and 16 radio stations as they had fallen foul of national media laws, the information minister said," according to Agence France-Presse. "The ban in particular affects a television channel and radio network owned by Jean-Pierre Bemba, an exiled former vice president and rebel leader and an arch-foe of President Laurent Kabila."

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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