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Unity President Abruptly Resigns

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Native American Group's Arviso Cites Frustration

NBA Player Comes Out in Sports Illustrated 

Knight Fellowship Program Tops Diversity Record: 8 of Color

White House Correspondents Also Raise Scholarship Money

An Upbeat View of U.S. Policy, on and off the Record

Coming Next, With Issues: Drone Journalists

Neuharth Tribute Planned at University of S. Dakota 

Short Takes

Yvonne Latty of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, then secretary

Native American Group's Arviso Cites Frustration

Tom Arviso Jr., president of Unity: Journalists for Diversity, resigned abruptly on Monday, Doris Truong, vice president of the coalition, confirmed Monday.

Unity issued a statement on Tuesday saying Arviso "resigned to focus on his work as publisher of the Navajo Times" and that Truong, of the Asian American Journalists Association, would be acting president "until a new president is elected in accordance with UNITY bylaws."

Arviso has been unavailable for comment. His resignation came in a letter expressing dissatisfaction with the progress Unity has made under his leadership. He had been president of the group only since Jan. 1.

"It has been an honor to serve as your board president for the last four months," Arviso wrote. "However, I feel that my leadership style has not been as effective or as productive as I would like, and that has frustrated me. I have put in a lot of personal time and serious effort into carrying out the duties of the board president but I have not seen or experienced any real positive results. Therefore, rather than continue to struggle with the future of UNITY, I will step aside and allow for new board leadership."

CEO and publisher of the Navajo Times in Window Rock, Ariz., and member of the Native American Journalists Association, Arviso was the sole candidate for president of the group when he was elected last fall by the coalition of Hispanic, Asian American, Native American and lesbian and gay journalists groups.

In his short tenure as Unity president, Arviso took the board beyond strictly journalistic concerns, following the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, for example, in denouncing Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, for using the term "wetback" in a radio interview. Unity also called on Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., to hold hearings on the proposed "Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2013."

The letter said, "There is no worse racial epithet used to refer to Native American people than the name of the Washington professional football team. It has heinous origins in the bloody history of commoditization of Native skin and other body parts as bounties and trophies, and these despicable practices trace directly to today's 'Native mascots' that glorifies a savage past."

Arviso defended the letter by comparing it with a previous Unity statement supporting two newspapers that decided not to use the name of the Washington Redskins NFL team.

"It's the same principle when it comes to advocating for our members and educating the media and public," he said.

Hugo Balta, NAHJ president and member of the Unity board, told Journal-isms, "Tom is an inclusive and respectful leader who valued the advice of board members."

Rhonda LeValdo, president of the Native American Journalists Association, said by email, "I know the duties of UNITY president have taken a lot of Tom's time from his job as CEO of the Navajo Times.  He has been trying to balance it, but with the search for the next Executive Director of UNITY and taking care of UNITY financial affairs with closing out the conference, I know it has been a lot. 

"I appreciate his time he has put into this organization, we all know that we wouldn't do this if we didn't love UNITY and our respective organizations.  It is a tough situation I know for him because he does love UNITY but he has to take care of his own business as well. I respect his decision and wish him nothing but continued success."

In emailed balloting as the year began, Arviso was one of three Unity board members who voted to retain "Unity: Journalists of Color" as the group's name. Twelve voted for "Unity: Journalists for Diversity," which prevailed. The name-change issue arose after withdrawal of the National Association of Black Journalists from the coalition and the subsequent addition of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

"I think it's really just a reflection of who we are as Unity," Arviso told Journal-isms at the time. "I still believe in why the organization was started. Its message was to advocate on behalf of all the minorities . . . in my heart and my mind, I still feel strongly about the name.

"There's still a lot of members of Unity who still like the name 'Unity: Journalists of Color.' "

Despite his preference, Arviso said, "I accept and will respect" the board's choice, "Unity: Journalists for Diversity."

At its twice-yearly face-to-face meeting this month, the board sat five new members, narrowed its search for a new executive director to seven candidates and in a discussion of its strategic plan, talked about a more active advocacy role, Arviso told Journal-isms then. He said Unity was not ready to discuss reuniting with NABJ. "Unity needs to take care of its own business" first, he said. [Updated April 30.]

NBA Player Comes Out in Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated cover story hit newsstands Monday.

"Veteran basketball player Jason Collins announced on Monday that he was gay, smashing through one of the final frontiers in U.S. sports with a frank personal statement and winning warm praise as a groundbreaker," Julian Linden reported Monday for Reuters. Collins made the announcement in a Sports Illustrated article.

While Collins' announcement generally won praise, Chris Broussard, a senior writer for ESPN the Magazine, speaking during a one-hour episode of ESPN's "Outside The Lines," grouped homosexual acts with adultery and premarital sex, saying he believed this was "walking in open rebellion to God," as Reuters reported.

Chris Stone, managing editor of Sports Illustrated, recounted how the article came to be published: "At 9 a.m. last Friday the writer Franz Lidz drove to the Los Angeles home of Jason Collins with a completed draft of a story on which the two had collaborated two days earlier," Stone wrote Monday. "When he arrived, Lidz was introduced to Collins' mother and father; his twin brother, Jarron; and a high school classmate. They, along with Jason, would have final approval. As the group gathered around the kitchen table, Lidz's daughter Daisy offered a suggestion: Why not have Jason read the story aloud? And so he began:

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay. ...

"Shortly after 8 on Easter morning, Lidz, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated from 1988 to 2007, phoned me at my home. Representatives of an active NBA player, whom they did not identify, had told Lidz that their client was considering sharing, publicly, that he was gay. While no male athlete in the U.S. playing a professional team sport had ever come out, this was not entirely surprising news. The previous week had reported that efforts were afoot to pave the path for closeted NFL players to go public. Former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo gave further voice to that possibility during the first week of April, when he said that as many as four players were in discussions about coming out as a group. On April 6, Lidz called again. The player had agreed to speak to SI on Wednesday, April 24, in Los Angeles, a week after the end of the NBA regular season.

"The player's identity remained unknown to Lidz until the agreed-upon date. He, and we, knew there was a very real, understandable possibility that the player could change his mind. Lidz and SI executive editor Jon Wertheim arrived in L.A. on the night of April 23. At noon the next day, they were directed to meet with Collins at his home. For four hours Collins shared his story with remarkable clarity, directness, emotion and humor . . . "

Then came publication — and reaction. John Kolbin added for Deadspin: "Well, after ESPN had a fairly terrible morning covering the Jason Collins story, it looked like the network was making progress this afternoon: Smart news hour Outside The Lines would expand to a full hour to discuss the NBA player's announcement. Fantastic.

Chris Broussard, writer for ESPN the Magazine, says he would not characterize a homosexual as a Christian. (video)

"Or maybe not. OTL booked Chris Broussard to have a discussion with openly gay correspondent LZ Granderson, and it rapidly devolved into a talk about whether or not gay sex is sinful. Huh? (Broussard's let his thoughts on this matter be known before). . . . "

On the other hand, "Social media reactions to Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay male professional athlete in American sports history suggest he will have no shortage of sponsorship opportunities from LGBT-friendly brands — which could be a list that grows because of his actions," Christopher Heine wrote for Adweek. "In just one Twitter example, NBA commissioner David Stern wasted little time this morning proudly supporting Collins on the social media site with a thread of tweets . . . "

An ESPN statement said, "We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today's news.  ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement."

Reuters' Linden reported, "President Barack Obama, a big fan of the NBA who regularly plays pickup basketball with his friends, called Collins to express his support, a White House official said.

" 'I can certainly tell you that here at the White House we view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country, and commend him for his courage, and support him in his — in this effort and hope that his fans and his team support him going forward,' said White House spokesman Jay Carney. . . . "

American journalists chosen for the Knight fellowship program at Stanford are "o

Knight Fellowship Program Tops Diversity Record: 8 of Color

The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships program at Stanford University has topped the diversity record it set last year, when seven of its 13 U.S. fellows were people of color.

Next year there will be eight of 12, the program announced on Monday.

"It's our most diversified group ever, drawn from newspapers, online publications, tech companies and even an academic institution. And it's ethnically diverse as well: eight of the 12 are people of color," James R. Bettinger, director of the program, said in an email to Journal-isms.

"This wide range of backgrounds and specialties reflects the variety and depth of expertise and commitment that journalism needs right now," he added in a news release.

The Knight-Wallace Fellows program at the University of Michigan and the Knight-Bagehot fellowship program in economics and business journalism also chose their next classes.

The Michigan program's 12 U.S. fellows include Marcia Pledger, columnist at the Plain Dealer of Cleveland and a former board member of the National Association of Black Journalists, who plans to study business etiquette; Cynthia Rodriguez, reporter at WNYC (New York Public Radio), who expects to study the connection between poverty and mental illness in the United States and abroad; Megha Satyanarayana, a Detroit Free Press reporter who plans to study genetically modified foods: the fact and fiction of what we eat, and is Asian American; and Scott Tong, a correspondent for Market Place Public Radio, who intends to examine comparative innovation eco-systems and innovation history in China. "Pleased to report an incoming American class that is one-third minorities," said Charles Eisendrath, the director.

The 10 Knight-Bagehot fellows, named by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism for the 2013-2014 academic year, include journalists from the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, the American Banker, the Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., the National Journal and other news organizations in the District of Columbia, China, Nepal and Ghana, Chris Roush reported Monday for Talking Biz News.

The fellows at Stanford "will explore proposals that touch on many aspects of journalism: improving accuracy in reporting on Islam, raising the profile of indigenous perspectives on the news, engaging citizens in local food coverage, helping the public better understand data visualization and getting news quickly to communities hit by disaster," a news release said. "They also will be developing tools to help journalists create high-quality animated editorial cartoons, blog live on mobile platforms, gain relevant coding and data skills, and better connect with millennials and the changing U.S. demographic."

The eight of color are:

  • Umbreen Bhatti, co-founder, islawmix, Oakland, Calif. Innovation proposal: A model for drawing on legal academic expertise to produce informed, relevant reporting.

  • Keli Dailey, staff writer, U-T San Diego, San Diego, Calif. Innovation proposal: A platform to amplify the food beat using user-generated content.

  • Tran Ha, editor, RedEye/MetroMix, Chicago Tribune Media Group, Chicago. Innovation proposal: A digital pilot and toolkit to connect news organizations and millennials, the next generation of media consumers.

  • Shazna Nessa, former deputy managing editor, editorial products and innovations, Associated Press, New York. Innovation proposal: Tools to help the public understand data visualizations and heighten visual literacy in news and media outlets.

  • Eric Ortiz, senior editor, new media, New England Sports Network, Cambridge, Mass. Innovation proposal: A free, live-blog platform optimized for smartphones and tablets.

  • Martin Quiroga, systems architect, Jana Inc., San Francisco. Innovation proposal: A content-ranking platform that delivers highly relevant, personalized news content based on an algorithmic notion of authority.

  • Camille Seaman, photographer, Emeryville, Calif. Innovation proposal: A website that applies indigenous perspectives and wisdom to current environmental stories and issues.

  • Danyel Smith, author and journalist, Brooklyn, N.Y. Innovation proposal: A teaching platform that provides tools for journalists as they serve America's new "normal" demographic.

At a Howard University panel discussion Thursday were Andre Showell, BET Network

White House Correspondents Also Raise Scholarship Money

While Saturday's White House Correspondents' Association dinner, known as the "Nerd Prom," provided an opportunity for President Obama and late-night host Conan O'Brien to toss political zingers at friends and enemies, it also raised scholarship money for would-be journalists of color.

"Ed Henry, White House Correspondents' Association president, and his Board have had a creative, year-long focus on increasing the amount of money the Dinner raises for scholarships," Mike Allen noted Friday in Politico. "Those efforts have produced about $150,000 MORE to be used for next year's scholarships, in addition to the usual Dinner proceeds of about $120,000 to $130,000. As part of the new push, all five networks – ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC — made contributions above — their ticket purchases. Tony Kornheiser and Discovery Communications also chipped in, among others."

With Black Entertainment Television, the association sponsored a "Diversity Town Hall" at Howard University Thursday. Moderated by Juan Williams of Fox News, other panelists were Andre Showell, BET Networks White House correspondent; Darlene Superville of the Associated Press; Jim Avila of ABC News; and Howard student Saraya Wintersmith, a White House Correspondents' Association scholarship recipient, as Joyce Jones reported for BET.

Henry said at Saturday's dinner that Bill O'Reilly of Fox News and O'Brien spent an hour with the students on Friday at the lunch for the scholarship winners, and that CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, Bloomberg TV, Fox News and the cast of Netflix's "House of Cards" were among those who responded to a request to provide internships.

On a serious note, Obama paid tribute to newspapers in discussing the previous week's Boston Marathon shootings. "And we also saw journalists at their best — especially those who took the time to wade upstream through the torrent of digital rumors to chase down leads and verify facts and painstakingly put the pieces together to inform, and to educate, and to tell stories that demanded to be told," Obama said.

"If anyone wonders, for example, whether newspapers are a thing of the past, all you needed to do was to pick up or log on to papers like the Boston Globe. When their communities and the wider world needed them most, they were there making sense of events that might at first blush seem beyond our comprehension. And that's what great journalism is, and that’s what great journalists do. And that's why, for example, Pete Williams' new nickname around the NBC newsroom is 'Big Papi.'. . . "

Secretary of State John Kerry tells the Association of Opinion Journalists that

An Upbeat View of U.S. Policy, on and off the Record

Life expectancy in Afghanistan has increased from 42 years in 2002 to more than 62.

In 2002, only an estimated 900,000 boys but virtually no girls were in school. Now, approximately 8 million students are enrolled in school, and more than one-third are girls.

Nuggets like those were the currency of an upbeat all-day briefing at the State Department Monday for 18 journalists organized by the Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly the National Conference of Editorial Writers.

High-ranking diplomats discussed progress of U.S. policy in their fields of responsibility: the Middle East, Asia, Russia, the Western Hemisphere, Africa and Afghanistan. They spoke "on the record," "on background" or "on deep background," the last two categories considered needlessly restrictive by most of the journalists present.

Too much was said to condense into a few paragraphs (attendees plan to post reports at and tweeted at @aojtweets), but Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the importance of China as the key to keeping North Korea in check, noted that 10 of the fastest growing countries in the world are in Africa, called the United States the "indispensable country" around the world and said it was much more engaged in economic development and encouraging entrepreneurship, the keys to "hope." Kerry called it "economic diplomacy."

The diplomats talked up a new agreement between Kerry and Chinese leaders to work together on cybersecurity, noted that 100,000 Latin American students are studying in the United States and professed not to be concerned about Chinese inroads into Africa, saying there was room for all. More Latin American countries want to emulate Brazil's former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva than Venezuela's late Hugo Chavez, it was said.

One diplomat noted that Afghan citizens can now pay for electricity via mobile phones, another reason to employ the technology that private industry can provide in service of U.S. policy goals.

Asked to assess media coverage of their field of expertise, some of the diplomats surprisingly praised the press as not merely accurate but also providing them with valuable feedback on how their policies are playing back home. But they asked the group to lend support to press freedom efforts in Latin America, and some mentioned the need for more reporting that takes the long view.

Alex Thier of the U.S. Agency for International Development touted the societal progress in Afghanistan and said of the American news media's reporting, "That's the part we don't get enough of." Asserting the need to prevent backsliding, he added, "There's a danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water." Americans "don't get the full context and say, 'enough already,' " Thier said.

Coming Next, With Issues: Drone Journalists

"Unmanned aircraft could soon get their debut as the newest journalistic tool, raising new legal and ethical issues related to privacy and newsgathering," David Wolfgang wrote for the March/April edition of Quill. "But as journalists start to ask questions about how to legally and ethically fly drones, the Federal Aviation Administration is already behind schedule on instituting a new regulatory system for commercial drone use.

"Despite slow movement from the federal government, some non-profit journalism organizations and journalism students at a pair of universities have had the first crack at developing drones. That has meant professionalizing what some see as a whole new skill set or even a newsroom title: drone journalist. The types of drones, or unmanned aircraft systems, that are finding their ways into the journalist's toolkit are typically equipped with a camera and are flown at low heights in order to gain new perspectives on a news story.

"The use of drones in journalism was rather obscure until the rumor that gossip website TMZ was looking to get a drone and authorization to fly from the FAA in November 2012. The mere rumor that TMZ might be considering a drone was enough to raise ire, even though the FAA is not issuing commercial licenses. While drones have great potential to help journalists cover disasters such as floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, they also make it easier to keep tabs on celebrities and public figures. And if traditional news organizations like NPR member stations and newspapers get access to drones, it will ultimately mean gossip blogs and celebrity sites will also have access. And until the FAA releases new regulations as soon as 2015, it will be up to non-commercial journalists to establish professional standards. . . . "

Neuharth Tribute Planned at University of S. Dakota

"The life of media visionary and South Dakota native Al Neuharth will be celebrated with a public tribute on Friday morning, May 17, at the University of South Dakota, his alma mater," the university announced.

"Neuharth, founder of USA TODAY, Freedom Forum and the Newseum, died April 19 in his Cocoa Beach, Fla., home from complications of a fall. He was 89.

"The memorial celebration will begin at 10 a.m., May 17, in Slagle Hall's Aalfs Auditorium, 414 E. Clark St., Vermillion, S.D. Doors will open at 9 a.m. A reception and luncheon, also open to the public, will follow at the Al Neuharth Media Center, located nearby on the USD campus at 555 Dakota St., Vermillion.

"The family is planning a private burial in Neuharth's hometown, Eureka, S.D., sometime later this spring."

Scott Williams, vice president of sales and marketing at the Newseum, told Journal-isms that the Freedom Forum would announce details of the celebrations of Neuharth's life on Monday.

Short Takes

  • "Magic Johnson's cabler Aspire has greenlit 'Exhale,' a talkshow in the vein of 'The View' to be hosted by five African-American women in the entertainment space," AJ Marechal reported Friday for Variety. "Weekly yakker aims to bring candid conversation to topics including family, relationships, career, money and faith. Co-hosts are journo Angela Burt-Murray, thesp and comedian Erin Jackson, helmer Issa Rae, author and TV anchor Rene Syler and actress Malinda Williams. . . . "

  • The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the Iraqi government's decision on Sunday to suspend the licenses of 10 mostly pro-Sunni satellite channels, including Al Jazeera, accused of sectarian incitement. "The Iraqi Commission of Media and Communications (CMC) in a statement accused the broadcasters of using a 'sectarian tone' to incite against security forces and to promote 'banned terrorist organizations.' . . ."

  • "Fusion, the ABC/Univision joint venture won't be getting its start at the end of the summer, after all," Veronica Villafañe reported Monday for her Media Moves site. "In a recent interview, Univision CEO César Conde had affirmed the new network would be up and running by the end of the summer. Now, sources say that Fusion won't be launched until December. . . ."

  • Derrick Ashong has been hired as an anchor for Fusion. He'll be based in Miami and starts May 1," Veronica Villafañe reported Monday for her Media Moves site. She added, "Originally from Ghana, the Harvard-educated Derrick is also the leader of the Afropolitan band Soulfège. He was also the winner of the Billboard Songwriting Contest for Best Hip Hop Song in 2008."

  • The Diamondback, student newspaper at the University of Maryland, published part one Monday of a three-part feature on the rise and fall Jayson Blair, the New York Times fabricator and former Diamondback editor. "Check back Wednesday for the story of Blair’s resignation from the Times and Friday for the lessons learned at this university a decade later," an editor's note said.

  • Associate Professor of Communications Michelle Ferrier of Elon University argued "The case for government investment in journalism" in an op-ed circulated among North Carolina newspapers.

  • "It was weird. It was awkward," Richard L. Eldredge wrote Friday for Atlanta magazine. "Then again, when you're up against a fresh episode of 'Scandal' on ABC at 10 p.m., you're likely to do anything to inch up ratings. After 24 hours of promos and social media missives about 'Amanda's Special Message' to viewers, the longtime Fox 5 news anchor Amanda Davis returned to the airwaves Thursday night. To retire. On camera. Davis has been off the air since last fall after a DUI arrest in Midtown." He continued, "While many viewers anticipated an apology from Davis or perhaps an announcement about a return to the anchor desk, she did not directly refer to her DUI arrest. . . ."

  • "Francisco Castro, City Editor of Hoy newspaper in Los Angeles, has joined La Opinión as edition editor," Veronica Villafañe reported Monday for her Media Moves site. "His first day on the job was last Thursday, April 25 — just one day after leaving Hoy. . . ."

  • In Arkansas, "El Dorado Police have arrested and charged a south Arkansas man with kidnapping and commercial burglary [in the attack on] KTVE reporter Brea Douglas Sunday night," KTVE News reported on Friday. "The attacked happened as Douglas was leaving the El Dorado newsroom. The suspect, identified as 26-year-old Demetrian McElroy, forced Douglas back into the Main Street newsroom, held her down and showed a knife. . . ."

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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