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Miami Herald Reporter Held in Venezuela

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Detaining Journalists Has Become "Recurring Practice" 

Dolphins' Jonathan Martin to Tell Story to NFL Investigator

Obama Said to Throw Defenders in Media Under the Bus

In TV Ads, Only McAuliffe Sought Hispanic Vote in Va.

Orange County Register Says It Won't Use "Redskins"

Blackistone Decries "Star-Spangled Banner" at Games

This Much Whiteness Is "Not Healthy for the Field"

Africans, Asians, Latin Americans More Upbeat on Future

Short Takes 

Detaining Journalists Has Become "Recurring Practice" 

Jim Wyss"Jim Wyss, the Miami Herald's Andean bureau chief, was detained by Venezuelan authorities Thursday while reporting on the country's chronic shortages and looming municipal elections," Andrew Rosati reported Friday from Caracas, Venezuela, for the Herald. "Wyss remained in custody Friday afternoon.

"According to local sources, Wyss was initially detained by the National Guard then transferred to Venezuela's counter military intelligence, Dirección General de Inteligencia Militar (Dgim), in San Cristóbal, Táchira.

" 'We are very concerned,' said Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, the Herald's executive editor. 'There doesn't seem to be any basis for his detention and we’re trying to figure out what's going on. We are asking that Jim Wyss be released immediately.'

"Herald editors have spent much of Friday talking to various Venezuelan government officials to secure his release.

"Some journalists in San Cristóbal said they saw Wyss in custody on Friday.

" 'I was able to see him and he looked all right, but they [authorities] wouldn't let us close,' said Lorena Arraiz, a journalist at El Universal, who was investigating the incident.

" 'But he's been in there over 12 hours and he's still stuck in custody,' she said.

"Officials at Venezuela’s Ministry of Information (MinCi) declined to comment on why Wyss was detained.

"Press freedom groups denounced the detention and said holding journalists has become 'a recurring practice here.' . . . "

Agence France-Presse added, "The United States and Venezuela have been without mutual ambassadors since 2010, and Caracas kicked out the US charge d'affaires in October, leading Washington to reciprocate.

"Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who faces a key test of his fledgling presidency in December, is a firebrand anti-US populist in the mould of his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez."

On ESPN, Adam Schefter reacts to the report that Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland said Jonathan Martin should have punched Richie Incognito before Martin left the team. (video)

Dolphins' Jonathan Martin to Tell Story to NFL Investigator

"Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin will tell his story to the NFL's special investigator next week," Jim Axelrod reported Friday for CBS News.

"Martin quit the Dolphins amid allegations that he was harassed by a teammate, Richie Incognito. However, the abuse may have been worse than previously thought. . . ."

The Dolphins story was the most talked-about from the sports world in the past week, incorporating such hot-button subjects as sports, manhood, bullying and race. Incognito allegedly extorted money from and texted racist insults to Martin, a younger teammate, along with death threats. 

In one animated commentary, Jason Whitlock wrote Friday for ESPN, "Mass incarceration has turned segments of Black America so upside down that a tatted-up, N-word-tossing white goon is more respected and accepted than a soft-spoken, highly intelligent black Stanford graduate

"According to a story in the Miami Herald, black Dolphins players granted Richie Incognito 'honorary' status as a black man while feeling little connection to Jonathan Martin," Whitlock continued.

"Welcome to Incarceration Nation, where the mindset of the Miami Dolphins' locker room mirrors the mentality of a maximum-security prison yard and where a wide swath of America believes the nonviolent intellectual needs to adopt the tactics of the barbarian.

"I don't blame Jonathan Martin for walking away from the Dolphins and checking himself into a hospital seeking treatment for emotional distress. The cesspool of insanity that apparently is the Miami locker room would test the mental stability of any sane man. Martin, the offspring of Harvard grads, a 24-year-old trained at some of America's finest academic institutions, is a first-time offender callously thrown into an Attica prison cell with Incognito and Aaron Hernandez's BFF Mike Pouncey. Dolphins warden Jeff Ireland and deputy warden Joe Philbin put zero sophisticated thought into what they were doing when they drafted Martin in the second round in 2012. . . ."

Mike Freeman, writing Wednesday for the Bleacher Report, offered a perspective from the locker room: "If it is true that Ritchie Incognito left a racist voicemail for Jonathan Martin, why would black Dolphins players support Incognito?

"The reason is because of the racial openness of the locker room. Whether you think the N-word should be used or not, it is. In NFL locker rooms, rap music containing the word are blasted on radios. Black players call each other that word in front of white teammates." Freeman quoted veteran Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely, who is white. "I've had more honest race conversations in an NFL locker room than anywhere else," Feely said. "The best part about being in the NFL is getting to know people of other races." 

Freeman continued, " 'That word should never be used, as far as I'm concerned,' said Feely. 'But when black players use it, it becomes desensitized.'

"Then, because it's been desensitized, white players start to use it. Soon, white players are calling black players the N-word, and black players are calling white players the N-word. Or using other racial slurs for whites. We saw this in Detroit where tight end Tony Scheffler, who is white, would say to Louis Delmas, who is black: 'How's my n----?' And Delmas would say to Scheffler, 'Hey, cracker.' . . . "

Writing on Friday for the Shadow League, J.R. Gamble offered the episode as proof that the N-word has been mainstreamed.

"Slavery ended almost two hundred years ago," Gamble wrote. "We unfathomably have a black president at the helm. So why do brothers still have to hear a white dude calling him the N-word?

"As the Incognito situation is revealing, the use of the N-word—once totally unacceptable in any context — has become so layered, multi-purposed and confusing that people don't even throw the same hissy fits about the use anymore. . . ."

Yet Jason Reid wrote in the Washington Post, "It seems the Dolphins could benefit from a refresher on how hard civil rights leaders of the 1950s and ’60s worked to make it socially unacceptable to say the racial slur Incognito is alleged to have used at least twice. . . ."

Credit: David Horsey/Los Angeles Times

Obama Said to Throw Defenders in Media Under the Bus

"Many were hurled under President Barack Obama's bus on Thursday night when he told NBC News reporter Chuck Todd that he was 'sorry' those who were losing their health insurance coverage were shocked by this eventuality because of repeated 'assurances' he made to the contrary," Noah Rothman asserted Friday for Mediaite. "The president's supporters in the media were first among those to take a dive under the wheels of the president's forward-moving signature policy achievement.

" 'Congressional Republicans have stoked consumer fears and confusion with charges that the health care reform law is causing insurers to cancel existing policies and will force many people to pay substantially higher premiums next year for coverage they don't want,' the New York Times editorial board declared on November 2. That, they say, violates President Obama’s pledge that if you like the insurance you have, you can keep it.'

" 'Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that,' the Times editors continued, unconcerned with the damage they were doing to their institution’s credibility.

"The editorial board then launched into a thorough defense, not of the president's promise, but of the correctness of the Affordable Care Act's desired and intended effect of forcing insurance companies to terminate low-cost catastrophic coverage plans. . . ."

In Todd's interview with the president, he quoted a column from Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune, headlined, "The truth? Obama told a whopper."

"You've been getting some tough criticism on this quote," Todd said, according to the transcript.

"Clarence Page, your hometown newspaper, The Chicago Tribune, this is not— not . . . White House. He's been pretty supportive of what you said. He characterized this as a political lie. He called it a sort of— 'the sort of rosy promise politicians sometimes make with such passion and confidence that they actually may have convinced even themselves that it is true.' Did politics play a role and you felt as if as the Republicans were throwing stuff at the law that you're trying to pass it. You're trying to do this, that you shorthanded this?

Obama replied, "No, I— I think we, in good faith, have been trying to take on a health care system that has been broken for a very long time. And what we've been trying to do is to change it in the least disruptive way possible. I mean, keep in mind that there were folks on the left who would have preferred a single payer plan. That would have been a lot more disruptive. There were folks on the right who said, 'Let's just get rid of — you know, employer deductions for health care. And give people — a tax credit and they can go buy their own health care in their own market. That would have been more disruptive.

"We tried to find — a proven model. We've seen it work in Massachusetts. That would be as — as undisruptive as possible. And in good faith, tried to write the law in such a way that people could keep their care. Although we really believe that ultimately, they're going to be better off when they're buying health care through the marketplaces. They can — access tax credits. And they're benefiting from more choice and competition. But obviously, we didn't do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law. And, you know, that's something that I regret. That's something that we're going to do everything we can to get fixed. In the meantime — . . ."

"We Cannot Trust Ken Cuccinelli," the television advertisement says.

In TV Ads, Only McAuliffe Sought Hispanic Vote in Va.

"Tuesday's Virginia gubernatorial election was ground zero for partisan strategists hoping to gain enough momentum to carry their party through the 2014 midterms and beyond," Peter Olsen-Phillips reported Wednesday for the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group.

"Outside groups spent furiously, as a win in the truly 'purple' Commonwealth would serve as a springboard for future electoral victories. Two of the biggest storylines in the Virginia race (aside from the much-publicized scandals) were the role of women and Hispanic voters. Ads from Planned Parenthood and Democrat Terry McAuliffe's campaign blasted Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli (currently the state's attorney general) for his stances on abortion, contraceptives and divorce. Interestingly, less money appeared to be devoted to wooing Hispanics, at least when it comes to TV ads.

"Ad files collected by Sunlight from the largest Spanish language TV station in the Washington area — the state's largest media market, and the one with the highest percentage of Hispanic viewers — suggest there was little competition for the state's burgeoning Latino vote. As of the week before the election, there were only three ad buys for the gubernatorial race in WFDC's 2013 political ad file (compared to scores for other area stations). All were in support of McAuliffe. . . ."

Orange County Register Says It Won't Use "Redskins"

"Like several other media outlets, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Sports Illustrated's 'MMQB' website, the Orange County Register has decided to discontinue using the nickname 'Redskins' in reference to Washington's NFL team," Michael Lev reported Thursday for the Register.

"Said Register sports editor Todd Harmonson: 'We examined the issue and understand that, to many, Washington's nickname is deeply offensive. It is the Register's policy to avoid using such slurs, so we will not use this one, except in stories about  the controversy surrounding its use.' "

Meanwhile, in the Twin Cities, "Washington's professional football team showed up at the Metrodome on Monday night, greeted by a torrent of protest over its nickname, the Redskins, that included a march by 700 demonstrators and demands to scrap the name by Gov. Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges," Randy Furst reported Friday for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Furst wrote that "political  opposition to the nickname has swelled in Minnesota."

Kevin Blackistone says there is too much military symbolism in sports.

Blackistone Decries "Star-Spangled Banner" at Games

"Appearing on ESPN this week, journalism Professor Kevin Blackistone railed against the military influence on professional sporting events, decrying 'The Star-Spangled Banner' as a 'war anthem' that should be abandoned along with other military-style icons of pre-game ritual," Andrew Kirell reported Friday for Mediaite.

"Blackistone made the comments during an Around the Horn segment on Northwestern University's controversial new uniform prominently featuring the American flag. Along with this new uniform, the guest said, people should reject 'the rest of the military symbolism embraced in sports: whether it's the singing of a war anthem to open every game, whether it's going to get a hot dog and being able to sign up for the Army at the same time, whether it's the NFL's embrace of the mythology of the Pat Tillman story.'

"He added that the national anthem has been sung before every game since the 1917 World Series, but 'it's time for people to back away.' . . ."Blackistone made the same argument in a February 2011 column for AOL Sports.

Blackistone told Journal-isms by email, "Much of the reaction was the same then as it is today. My email box is inundated with racial epithets and other name calling, calls to leave the country and demands are made of my employers to cut me loose.

"The difference this time is I've been elevated to a bull's eye by and the #tcot movement that has taken to Twitter to equate my comments with an attack on the country, veterans, Wounded Warriors, God, etc. Part of the campaign has reached this crescendo on Twitter:

" 'Truth Rules @PCtypesCanSukit 12h

" '@KMSSTV Someone should get a rope & string Kevin Blackistone up to a tall tree. If he doesn't like the National Anthem then move to Africa.'

"This all because I've come to believe through study and observation that the now routine use of so much military symbolism in sport, especially that which is commercial and promotional, desensitizes us to war and elevates sport to a gravity that is untrue. I actually spend a few days in my JOUR458G class discussing nationalism and militarism in sports with readings by Michael Butterworth (Ritual in the 'Church of Baseball': Suppressing the Discourse of Democracy After 9/11), Samantha King (Offensive Lines: Sport-State Synergy in an Era of Perpetual War) and Kyle Kusz (From NASCAR Nation to Pat Tillman. Notes on Sport and the Politics of White Cultural Nationalism in Post-9/11 America).

"Then there is the small matter of the uniforms at my alma mater, Northwestern, which spurred this debate, being in violation of the US flag code which seeks to protect the dignity of the flag and those who uphold it around the world. I suspect I should've pointed that out to the legions of vile critics. . . ."

Blackistone's LinkedIn profile describes him as a panelist on "Around the Horn," occupant of the Shirley Povich Chair in Sports Journalism at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, and an occasional contributor to Politico, NPR and PBS. He was a sports columnist for the Dallas Morning News from September 1990 to September 2006 and AOL Sports from October 2007 to March 2011.

This Much Whiteness Is "Not Healthy for the Field"

Apoorva Mandavilli

Apoorva Mandavilli is internship coordinator at the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Department at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University.

Last weekend, she went to Gainesville, Fla., for a joint meeting of the National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

Did she stand out?

"If you're a young, white science journalist with good taste in eyeglass frames and dirty-blond hair, congratulations! You could have walked into any conversation in any room at the conference and felt instantly at home," Mandavilli wrote Friday for "I was born and raised in India, and look the part, so I wasn't engaged in any mirroring. I had one brief conversation at the conference with a male journalist of Indian descent, and a longer one with an Asian-American one. I spotted a couple of East Asian women, and heard rumors of an African-American woman.

"Did I mention there were nearly 500 journalists at the conference?

"Perhaps to you all this seems normal. But I live in New York, where all colors, races and classes mingle constantly, and where this degree of — I'm just going to say it, 'whiteness' — is just not normal. More to the point, it’s not healthy for the field.

"To stay relevant, science journalism needs fresh ideas — and the homogeneous group I saw at the conference is inherently limited in the ideas it can offer. Newsrooms everywhere are grappling with this problem, and we can learn from them what's working and what's not. But first, we have to acknowledge that this is a problem.

"Without diversity in newsrooms, what you get is a small group of (mostly privileged) people writing for another small group of (mostly privileged) people. Entire stories are missed, and those that do get written have the same, tired perspectives, missing nuances of color, race, class, gender and ethnicity. . . ."

Africans, Asians, Latin Americans More Upbeat on Future

"Even though many in Africa continue to face serious financial adversity, their economic outlook is more positive than many others around the world, and they are hopeful about their children's future," the Pew Research Center reported on Friday. "Overall, Africans, along with Asians and Latin Americans, tend to express more positive views about economic conditions than do Europeans and Middle Easterners. Similarly, optimism for the next generation is higher in Africa, Asia, and Latin America."

The report, part of a 39-nation survey by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project, also found that "by many measures the economic outlook is far more grim in other parts of the world. In particular, most Middle Eastern and European publics surveyed offer overwhelmingly gloomy assessments of their economic situations — less than 5% describe economic conditions as good in Spain, Italy, and Greece – and in both regions there is relatively little optimism about the next generation's economic prospects. In contrast, Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans tend to believe today's children will be better off financially than their parents. . . ."

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 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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