Unity Conflict Called "Heart-Breaking"
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
As the rift between the National Association of Black Journalists and its partners in Unity: Journalists of Color appeared to deepen, Juan Gonzalez, one of the Unity founders, said he found "possible and viable" both a resolution of the immediate financial dispute and a split-up of the coalition, with NABJ going one way and the other three associations another.
"If the current leaders choose #2, then I urge NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA to abandon holding separate conventions altogether after 2012," said Gonzalez, a former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, using acronyms for the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association.
"Instead, they should have UNITY 2.0 organize the annual gathering where the three groups could organize both separate and joint events, but still retain their individual identities, office and staffs to handle day to day programs."
If all four associations remain in the coalition, Gonzalez stood by his earlier call for joint conventions every two years instead of every four.
Gonzalez responded to an inquiry from Journal-isms to four of the men and women who agreed on the concept of a Unity convention in Baltimore in 1988: Will Sutton of NABJ, Lloyd LaCuesta of AAJA, Mark Trahant of NAJA and Gonzalez of NAHJ. They were asked whether they would be willing to mediate or arbitrate the current dispute if asked.
NABJ, the largest of the four associations, is asserting that Unity has grown beyond its original mission and shortchanged NABJ in the process. It has submitted several proposals to reorder the way the proceeds are divided, but it was outvoted at a meeting last weekend, with none of the other partners supporting NABJ.
The conversation dominated NABJ's e-mail list Tuesday and Wednesday, and it became clearer that the rift goes beyond funding proposals and Unity's mission.
"Since DAY ONE, it has always been NABJ vs the other alliance partners. From the creation of Unity, NABJ was expected to take the lead on everything. There was indeed jealousy due to our size, and for some NABJ members, arrogance about our size," Roland Martin, the NABJ secretary, wrote in answer to a question on the listserve. "Some of us strongly believe there are alliance partners who have decided that they are going to vote as a bloc and make the decisions as to what they want with Unity."
According to NABJ figures, NABJ represented 53.32 percent of the Unity convention attendance in 2008, with AAJA at 20.4 percent, NAHJ at 22.66 percent and the Native American Journalists Association at 3.61 percent.
Kathy Y. Times, the NABJ president, directed members to a statement she wrote on the NABJ website, which reads, in part, "The ideal that UNITY’s mission is far more important than any individual organization does not square with reality."
Joanna Hernandez, Unity president, said in the umbrella group's own e-mail to Unity members, "I know that situations sometimes get ugly before the smoke clears.
"As an alliance partner, NABJ has concerns. It's always the right time to bring concerns to the surface. This is the only way the UNITY board can begin to address them head on and iron out differences in a true collaboration with all UNITY partners sitting as equals at the table."
Of the four Unity founders queried, Sutton could not be reached. In 2008, he and Gonzalez proposed, among other ideas, "Hold UNITY conventions every two years; to provide more association members with the opportunity to attend UNITY conventions at a lower cost . . . "
Trahant, who is also board chair of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, told Journal-isms, "I agree with everything Juan writes. The amazing thing about UNITY after all these years is that it didn't fall apart. There were so many times that we came so close — one shout away — yet the miracle was that it kept going. Have we run out of that magic? I hope not. The new media landscape is our great opportunity."
On whether he would be willing to mediate, Trahant replied, "If that's what was required. I am not sure that would be useful, though. There are new, young, talented leaders in each of the organizations. It's important to draw on their ideas because the future will be so different from the traditions from an industry that no longer exists." Trahant was editorial page editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer before it went out of business exactly two years ago Thursday.
Similarly, Gonzalez said, "On the issue of mediation or arbitration, given my well-known views on how UNITY needs to evolve in the future, I would not be the type of 'impartial' person needed for any mediation effort."
LaCuestra, a reporter for KTVU-TV in the San Francisco Bay area, said, "I was contacted by some Unity folk about the disagreement and chose not to publicly express my thoughts. I am still doing that because as a reporter, I don't feel I have all the facts yet. I am just saddened that after all these years there is still a public perception that ALL of the associations are not working towards a common good. As for being a mediator arbitrator, I am always available to serve if I can."
Following is the response from Gonzalez, a columnist at the New York Daily News and co-host of Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!":
"The growing conflict within UNITY is heart-breaking.
"At a time when the journalism profession is going through such profound turmoil, our alliance groups are sending a terrible message by engaging in a public fight over how to share UNITY convention revenues.
"I see valid arguments on both sides of this dispute. It should be possible to bridge the differences through reasonable negotiations, good will, and give-and-take by all sides.
"But this dispute, in my opinion, reflects a much bigger problem. Despite the enormous transformation of our news media system over past few years, the individual UNITY alliance organizations simply have not adjusted their methods of operation, their tactics, and their strategies to the new reality.
"When you have no clear vision or plan for the future, it becomes all too easy to turn on each other and squabble over dwindling resources.
"At both UNITY 2004 and 2008, I urged those who attended the UNITY workshop to rethink how we do things. Last year, at the NAHJ convention in Denver, I warned my fellow members that unless our organizations came up with new strategies quickly, we would soon face rapid decline, even the possible bankruptcy of some the groups in a very short time.
"I have some definite ideas about mid-term and long-term solutions.
"To me, the most basic principle to hold on to is this: UNITY is only an instrument of the member organizations within the alliance, not an organization with a distinct institutional interest that is somehow different from or that supersedes its component parts. The 'sovereignty' of the four separate organizations must be preserved. UNITY has no life apart from its alliance members. But just as national sovereignty means something vastly different today in a global economy than it did back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, so too must our ideas of independence and interdependence in the alliance change.
"Second, it should be abundantly clear by now that the enormous expenditures of money entailed with four separate annual minority journalism conventions — a system that has remained unchanged for more than 30 years — will not be sustained and underwritten for very much longer by the media industry and media-related foundations, or even by our own members who must spend considerable sums of their own money and time to attend these conventions each year.
"Our alliance is at a crossroads. It has only two choices at this time:
"1) Solve the immediate financial dispute, then move quickly to tackle how to make both UNITY and the individual member groups stronger,
"2) Split, with NABJ going its own way and the other three organizations creating, in effect, UNITY 2.0.
"Each of these is possible and viable.
"If the current leaders choose #1, I urge that after 2012, UNITY take responsibility to organize joint conventions every two years instead of every four years. It simply does not make sense to siphon off 4 years of revenue to fund UNITY just to organize a convention that takes at best 18 months to prepare. Whatever new funding formula is developed should better reflect NABJ's predominant share of UNITY convention attendees. The individual groups could then hold their own conferences in odd-numbered years, or even hold conferences in the same city if they so choose (e.g. AAJA with NAJA, or NAHJ with AAJA in old-numbered years) and thus share hotel and meeting costs.
"If the current leaders choose #2, then I urge NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA to abandon holding separate conventions altogether after 2012. Instead, they should have UNITY 2.0 organize the annual gathering where the three groups could organize both separate and joint events, but still retain their individual identities, office and staffs to handle day to day programs.
"None of these organizational solutions, however, addresses the question of what should be the programmatic thrust of our organizations in an era where the last thing on a corporate executive's mind is diversifying his or her news staff (most executives, after all, are fixated on REDUCING their news staffs!)
"I have some definite ideas about how we change our programs as well, and am willing to share those with the current leaders of UNITY, if they so desire.
"But the directors of the four organizations are the ones who must make the big decisions now. I appeal to them to think long and hard about breaking up an alliance that took so many years and effort by so many dedicated people to construct.
"I wish them the best of luck in their deliberations."
CNN's Sandra Endo tells Ali Velshi that her family finally heard from her grandmother, who lives in Fukushima, Japan. (Video)
"With dozens of U.S. TV news journalists now on the ground in Japan, the bosses back home are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential for radiation poisoning due to the deteriorating conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant," Chris Ariens wrote Tuesday for TVNewser.
"ABC’s David Muir . . . was in the area of the plant yesterday and moved south after the explosion. During 'Nightline' he held up a radiation meter which was not detecting anything out of the ordinary. This morning, that changed[.] Diane Sawyer and her crew began heading back to Tokyo, explaining to George Stephanopoulos on 'GMA' that radiation levels had increased through the day. 'We came down this highway, the 7½ hour trip,' said Sawyer. 'We’re about midway through it now.' Correspondent Clarissa Ward has also moved out of the area. Her Japanese translator left the ABC News team yesterday, fearing radiation poisoning.
"Weather becomes an important factor in this story as correspondents and crews watch the wind while covering the story.
“ 'We are closely monitoring the situation, moment by moment,' David Verdi, VP of worldwide news gathering for NBC News tells TVNewser. 'We are constantly consulting with our experts and tracking the wind patterns.' In addition to Lester Holt . . . Ann Curry, Chris Jansing, Ian Williams and Lee Cowan are covering for NBC/MSNBC.
"CBS’s Harry Smith was in Northern Japan this morning for 'The Early Show,' but he and all other CBS staffers have left. 'We have moved our teams out of Sendai, Japan and we continue to reassess deployments, as the situation warrants,' says CBS News VP Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews."
Some networks personalized the tragedy with their own staffers' experiences.
Ariens reported for TVNewser on Tuesday, "CNN Newsource reporter Sandra Endo talked with anchor Ali Velshi today about how her family in northern Japan is coping in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. Endo’s father was born in Fukushima. Her grandmother, aunt and cousins lived through the quake, but many neighbors did not.
"Endo is a national correspondent for CNN Newsource — the affiliate news service of CNN — based in Washington, D.C."
On Tuesday's "CBS Evening News," reporter Ben Tracy told viewers, "There are a lot of reunions and one that hit very close to home for us is our colleague Lucy Craft who was actually reunited with her 17-year-old son in Tokyo just a couple of hours ago. He had actually been at boarding school in Sendai when the earthquake and the tsunami hit and she had -- it had been about two days before she could get in touch with him so obviously she was worried. But like any 17-year-old, he very nonchalantly sent her a text message saying 'mom, stop worrying, I'm fine.' "
- Mike Burns, Media Matters: Do Right-Wing Media Figures Think Obama Should Have Reversed Time To Stop Japan's Nuclear Crisis?
- Bill Carter, New York Times: Quake Coverage Draws Viewers to CNN
- Paul Farhi, Washington Post: Reporters in Japan face unusual danger: Exposure to nuclear radiation
- Andrew Gauthier, TVSpy: Covering Nuclear Threat in Japan, Veteran WABC Reporter Calls Conditions ‘Extremely Complicated’
- Andrew Gauthier, TVSpy: In Hawaii, KDKA Assistant ND Went from ‘On Vacation’ to ‘On Location’ as Tsunami Loomed
- Joel Meares, Columbia Journalism Review: Japan’s Quake and Political Fallout
- Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: Strong Public Interest in Japan Disaster
- Lennox Samuels, Newsweek/the Daily Beast: Lashing Out, Gas Lines and the Emperor's Speech (video)
- Lennox Samuels, Newsweek/the Daily Beast: Dread Spreads to Tokyo (video)
- John Vidal and Damian Carrington, the Guardian, Britain: Japan radiation leaks feared as experts point to possible cover-up
- Marian Wang, ProPublica: Our Reading List for Following Nuclear News From Japan
- Armstrong Williams, syndicated: American Benevolence in the Wake of Tragedy
- Roger Witherspoon blog, Energy Matters: America’s Quake-Proof Nukes
- Roger Witherspoon blog, Energy Matters: Japan’s Information Deficit
- Roger Witherspoon, newjerseynewsroom.com: Are U.S. nuclear power plants safe from earthquakes?
- Roger Witherspoon, newjerseynewsroom.com: Japan using Hail Mary to prevent nuclear disaster
"The New York Times said Wednesday that four of its journalists reporting on the conflict in Libya were missing," Jeremy W. Peters reported for the Times.
"Editors said they were last in contact with the journalists, who were reporting from the northern port city of Ajdabiya, on Tuesday morning New York time. And despite second-hand reports that they had been swept up by Libyan government forces, the paper said it could not confirm that information.
" 'We have talked with officials of the Libyan government in Tripoli, and they tell us they are attempting to ascertain the whereabouts of our journalists,' Mr. Keller said. 'We are grateful to the Libyan government for their assurance that if our journalists were captured they would be released promptly and unharmed.'
"The missing journalists are Anthony Shadid, the Beirut bureau chief and twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for foreign reporting; Stephen Farrell, a reporter and videographer who was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2009 and rescued by British commandos; and two photographers, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, who have worked extensively in the Middle East and Africa."
Meanwhile, Sam Jones reported for Britain's the Guardian, "Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, the Guardian correspondent who was detained by Libyan authorities a fortnight ago, has been released.
"Abdul-Ahad and Andrei Netto, a correspondent for the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S Paulo, were picked up in the coastal town of Sabratha on 2 March then moved to a prison on the outskirts of the capital, Tripoli.
"Netto was freed a week ago, but Libyan officials continued to hold the Guardian reporter despite protests from the newspaper and Amnesty International.
". . . Abdul-Ahad entered Libya from Tunisia and was last in touch with the paper on the day of his capture.
"The journalist, an Iraqi national, is a highly respected staff correspondent who has written for the Guardian since 2004. He has reported from Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan on the stories of ordinary people in times of conflict."
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- Natalie Y. Moore with Bakari Kitwana, NewsOne: Rap Sessions: [Gaddafii’s] Past Ties To Chicago Gangs, Farrakhan
"Buried in AOL’s five-page press release Monday about its adding Biz Stone as an adviser and hiring 11 new journalists, among other moves, was the news that Patch.com would expand in Newark, N.J., in partnership with the city’s mayor, Cory Booker," Lucia Moses wrote Wednesday for Mediaweek.
"Huh? AOL didn’t go into detail, but the idea of a news organization partnering with politicians it’s supposed to cover is bizarre, to say the least. But maybe not so strange, considering Huffington — the new head of AOL’s Huffington Post Media Group — is a longtime supporter and pal of Booker. (The two once were even reported to be an item, although they deny it.)
"Huffington told Adweek that the partnership merely entails Booker’s office giving Patch information about local services for the site to promote. 'Mayor Booker’s role is as a resource to us as we launch the Patch networks, not to have any editorial input,' she said. 'The partnership is to accelerate the launch by working with the mayor and his team in the community. They’re providing information. Every Patch digitizes information about government and school services so we can make them more available.'
"Similarly, Anne Torres, Booker’s acting communications director, e-mailed to say, 'The Mayor's Office is simply supportive of the endeavor to bring patch.com to Newark. The Mayor's Office is not providing any financial resources or staff to this endeavor.'
"Huffington is looking at extending Patch to other struggling communities; a New Orleans site is already in the works. 'We’re talking to Mary Matalin,' she said, referring to the Republican political strategist, who recently moved to the Big Easy with husband James Carville.
"Huffington insisted that Patch would still be able to publish critical coverage of Newark’s mayor. That, of course, would require Patch going out on a limb, given her longstanding ties with Booker. 'Cory and I have just been really good friends for 10 years. I’ve written about him and I’m a big admirer of him,' she gushed. 'He’s a game-changer.' "
- James Rainey, Los Angeles Times: Patch.com's Newark plan smells of conflict
Student reporters from the Cronkite School interview Haitians who are living in the Dominican Republic, which revoked "birthright citizenship" last year. (Credit: Arizona State University)
"Seventeen students from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University are spending their spring break in the Dominican Republic reporting on immigration issues," the university announced on Tuesday.
"Students will be in the country for 10 days, reporting and shooting photos and video for an in-depth, Web-based project and a television package. They are led by Rick Rodriguez, the school’s Carnegie Professor of Journalism, and Jason Manning, director of Student Media."
Rodriguez is a former executive editor at the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee who joined Cronkite School in 2008 as the school’s first Carnegie Professor specializing in Latino and transnational news coverage.
"The project is part of a depth reporting class taught by Rodriguez. Students spent the first part of the semester preparing for the trip by researching the issue of stateless people in the Dominican Republic, a subject Rodriguez called 'timely and important,' in part because of a debate in the United States over the citizenship status of children born to undocumented immigrants.
"The Dominican Republic revoked birthright citizenship last year. Previously, individuals born in the country were automatically considered citizens. The new law prevents individuals born to people residing in the country illegally from obtaining identification documents, limiting access to important services, such as education, health care and housing.
"Some lawmakers in Arizona have proposed similar legislation to address illegal immigration into the United States.
"Cronkite students are based in Santo Domingo and are traveling around the country interviewing government officials, legal residents and immigrants from neighboring Haiti, who flood into the Dominican in search of jobs, education and health care."
Few expected such a revelation from theBlaze.com, the website sponsored by Glenn Beck that found that the "gotcha" video that led to the departure of two NPR executives had been deceptively edited, as Alicia Shepard, the NPR ombudsman, reported Wednesday.
"The tone — which I have tried hard to not adopt — from so many in the media and out is one of surprise that Glenn Beck's website would take on someone such as James O'Keefe," Shepard wrote.
Scott Baker, who is editor in chief of the six-month-old website, told Shepard, "I've had a long-standing interest in media ethics. I took it as a class in college and I wasn't even a journalism or communications major!" Pam Key, his partner who examined the video, "was primarily a professional illustrator...mainly of children's books as I understand it."
"Take a look at their terrific analysis of the videos distributed by James O'Keefe III," Shepard advised. "A compliment to O'Keefe for posting the two-hours, but as The Blaze.com discovered even the 'full' version shows signs of editing."
Both Ron Schiller, NPR's former chief fundraiser, and Vivian Schiller, the former CEO who is no relation, resigned March 10 after the surreptitiously recorded video was made public. On the video produced by the conservative provocateur, Ron Schiller said that members of the tea party movement are xenophobic and racist and that NPR would prefer to do without subsidies provided by the federal government.
- Eric Deggans blog, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: NPR fallout: James O'Keefe's manipulation recasts journalism as a bad reality TV show
- Editors, Columbia Journalism Review: Does NPR Have a Liberal Bias?
- Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review: Another Take on NPR’s "Liberal Bias" — Its reporting on Social Security is anything but
- Marisol Bello, a national reporter for USA Today, Mary C. Curtis, Charlotte, N.C.-based freelance journalist; Oskar Garcia, who has covered gambling, casinos and tourism for the Associated Press in Las Vegas, Robert Johnson, an associate producer of multimedia at CNN.com; Madison Park, a writer/producer at CNN.com in Atlanta; Sona Patel, associate producer for social media for seattletimes.com; Troy Smith, a features reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., and Wilson Fernando Vega Rivera, a subeditor at El Tiempo, the main national daily newspaper in Colombia, are among 24 journalists chosen to launch of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism’s first social media fellowship for journalists in the country. "Beyond their seven days on campus at The Ohio State University, this year’s fellows will also continue to learn through the program’s coaching and webinars designed to help them make a social media project of their choosing a success," an announcement said on Thursday.
- "Univision and Telemundo have been preaching it. Now the challenge is to profit from it," David Goetzl wrote Tuesday for mediapost.com. "The two networks — and other Spanish-language media — have said results from the 2010 Census will validate a surge in the Hispanic population and bring more ad dollars their way. And in some cases, Census results are even outpacing estimates."
- "Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and filmmaker Brian Lanker, a newspaper and Life magazine, National Geographic, and Sports Illustrated photographer whose book 'I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America' was one of the most successful photography books ever, has died at his home" in Eugene, Ore., "after battling pancreatic cancer for less than two weeks," Donald R. Winslow reported Monday for the National Press Photographers Association. "He was 63."
- "The Associated Press has appointed Trenton Daniel, a former reporter for The Miami Herald, as its correspondent in Haiti, and has named Peter Orsi, an editor on its Latin America regional news desk, to its bureau in Havana," the wire service announced on Monday. "The news cooperative also announced it is expanding its Spanish translation staff in New York and Mexico City to serve the growing market for news in Spanish throughout the Americas."
- Michael Powell, Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2001 to 2005, during the George W. Bush administration, was appointed president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Radio Ink reported on Monday. He succeeds Kyle McSlarrow, who was recently named president of Comcast/NBC Universal in Washington. Powell is a senior adviser with Providence Equity Partners and honorary co-chair of Broadband for America.
- Coley Harvey, a sportswriter at the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, has been hired by the Orlando Sentinel to cover Florida State University, Tim Stephens, the Sentinel's Florida sports topic manager, told Journal-isms on Wednesday. Harvey starts March 30.
- A Univision study has revealed "three key grooming essentials for Latinos — they celebrate 'vanidad' over 'machismo;' personal care rituals go beyond the basics; and they say 'speak my language, speak my culture,' " according to hispanicad.com. " 'The findings of Univision’s study prove that as marketers we have to shed the misperception of Hispanic men as 'machos' and start to look at them as 'vanidosos' who take extra care of their appearance,' said Ruth Gaviria, SVP of Corporate Marketing, Univision Communications. 'Latinos derive a significant amount of self-esteem from smelling, looking and feeling their best and now routinely engage in more refined personal care, such as nail care, lotions and neat trimming, with more frequency than non-Hispanics. This makes Latinos part of an extremely strong and vibrant growth opportunity for male personal care brands.' ”
- In Honduras, "La Voz de Zacate Grande, a community radio station based on the southern island of Zacate Grande, has again been the target of persecution for siding with local peasant groups in their land disputes with biofuel manufacturer Miguel Facussé Barjum," Reporters Without Borders reported. "In the latest aggression, Franklin Meléndez, the president of the board that oversees the station, was shot in the leg on 13 March by two critics of its editorial policies."
- "Angola's ruling MPLA government must allow the press to freely cover public events, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today after a number of recent incidents in which authorities barred journalists from covering public events related to the country's opposition party," the committee said on Wednesday.
- In the Ivory Coast, "Newspapers were on sale again today as a result of a decision by the country’s sole print media distributor, Edipresse (a subsidiary of the French company Presstalis), to resume operations. It had suspended distribution after being raided by soldiers three days ago," Reporters Without Borders reported on Monday.
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