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Veteran Gil Noble: Don't "Decaffeinate" Your Experience

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Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Imus Show Continues Racist Barbs

Veteran Gil Noble: Don't "Decaffeinate" Your Experience

"A lot of reporters of color punk out, to be blunt about it. They know how to talk the talk, they know how to sound relevant, but at root, they're looking to advance their careers," veteran broadcaster Gil Noble of New York's WABC-TV tells

Host and producer of "Like It Is," Noble is responsible for the longest-running African American-produced television program in the nation, on the air since June 1968.

"If people who are the lions of the industry – in radio and television -- practice subjective journalism, then I think an African American reporter should not shrink from trying to provide an antidote. The whole purpose of black people getting into the business back in the '60s was not to bring objectivity into the business, but to balance an acknowledged subjective industry. The Kerner Commission Report said that there was a major perspective of events that wasn't getting proper airing and proper reporting, and therefore it was important to get reporters and producers and programs that show this other perspective."

He concludes, "I honestly do believe that the African American journalist can make a major contribution, but the spine has to be there. There has to be some courage, there has to be a willingness to look beyond the hood of their car, or the expanse of their lawn, and stick their necks out to tell the truth. There are very few places left on this planet, as we speak now, where it'll be safe for you to raise your family. What value is it if you've got a six-figure income and you don't have a safe place for your children? A journalist can play a major role in putting a perspective to the reader or viewer that may help change their behavior. That's what a journalist is supposed to do. And I think a black journalist has a peculiar experience that he or she has been through that ought to be infused in their work. But for God's sake, don't decaffeinate it."

Imus Show Continues Racist Barbs

Writer and media critic Philip Nobile, who has been tracking racist remarks on the Don Imus radio show for a few years, says that last Friday, Imus producer Bernard McGuirk called NBA star Allen Iverson's wife a "naked ho," and on Tuesday called Iverson's mother a "crack ho."

Nobile wrote Jim Romenesko's Media News that he tried without success to get MSNBC's Jerry Nachman to ask Imus, who is also MSNBC's early morning man, about recent anti-black and anti-gay comments on his show. "His interview with Imus was a fawner," Nobile wrote.

Imus has been confronted about the racist remarks on the show, most notably on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" on July 19, 1998, but Imus continues to secure a parade of journalists as guests. Here's how the "60 Minutes" segment went:

DON IMUS: Give me an example--give me one example of one racist incident.

MIKE WALLACE: You told Tom Addison, the producer, in your car, coming home, that Bernard McGuirk is there to do nigger jokes.

IMUS: Well, I've nev--I never use that word.


TOM ADDISON: I'm right here.

IMUS: Did I use that word?

ADDISON: I recall you using that word.

IMUS: Oh, OK. Well, then I used that word. But I mean--of course that was an off-the-record conversation. But...

WALLACE: The hell it was.

IMUS: But that's not true. There's never been a suggestion on my radio program that there is some inherent characteristic or ability of one race that makes them superior to another.

WALLACE: You are not--or I should say you're an equal opportunity bigot.

IMUS: Well, I mean, are black people or Hispanics or any of these other people--have they been inoculated and are they immune out of satire? I don't think so. I mean, I don't apologize for--for offending people, you know?

And I know it's not politically--not politically correct and I don't care.

UPN Touts Its Diversity

UPN, which has the most diverse shows on television, held a special session on diversity at this week's Television Critics Association 2002 Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif., reports Media Week. And it was UPN sibling CBS that took some heat from the attending critics.

The panel featured Flex Alexander, star of UPN sitcom "One on One," Mo'Nique, of UPN's sitcom "The Parkers," Linda Park of UPN's Sci-Fi drama "Enterprise," and Josie Thomas, senior vp of diversity for UPN and CBS.

Thomas said she was "particularly proud that CBS has four senior development executives who are ethnic minorities. A Latino runs drama programming. An Asian-American runs reality. An Asian-American woman was just promoted to senior vp of mini-series."

While none of the media critics in the audience raised any problematic questions with the UPN shows, one attendee wondered why the new CBS show, "CSI: Miami," which is set in that city, does not have a lead character who is Hispanic.

Haitian Journalist Missing After Death Threats

A journalist known for his investigations into gangland supporters of Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was reported missing Tuesday after receiving a series of threats on his life, a media group official told the Associated Press. Israel Jacky Cantave, 28, finished his evening newscast at 10 p.m. Monday, telephoned his wife to say he was on the way home and left the Radio Caraibes station with his cousin Frantz Ambroise, said Guyler Delva, president of the Haitian Association of Journalists. Both men have disappeared. Radio Caraibes reported Tuesday morning that Cantave's car was found near his home in suburban Delmas.

St. Pete Times' Bill Maxwell Accused of Defamation

A law professor who won custody of his daughter has filed a defamation lawsuit against Times Publishing Co., which publishes the St. Petersburg Times, and one of the newspaper's columnists, Bill Maxwell, the newspaper reports.

Gary Minda, 55, accuses the newspaper and the columnist of "publishing written statements that falsely and maliciously accused" Minda of physical and mental abuse and of obtaining custody through his legal connections.

Times attorney George Rahdert said the newspaper, which published a correction, clarification and letter written by Minda after the August 2001 column was published, will fight the lawsuit.

"The column was largely an expression of opinion, which is protected by the First Amendment," Rahdert said. "In a democratic society, there is no such thing as a wrong opinion."

On Aug. 15, 2001, Maxwell's column, headlined "The deck was stacked against unwed Mexican mother in custody battle," appeared in the newspaper and its Web site. The column was removed from the newspaper's Web site Monday.

Where Are New Yorker's Women Writers?

"There have even been issues of The New Yorker this year where the magazine's table of contents featured no women at all, or where the only contribution by a woman was a single poem. There hasn't been much fiction by women, but when there is, it's usually by a big star," writes Dennis Loy Johnson on

"And by far, the preponderance of contributions written by women so far this year have come from staffers filing reviews in the back section, as opposed to being featured in a star turn in the features section." He provides an issue-by-issue breakdown for 2002.

TV Hospital Shows Evenhanded, but Avoid Hot Topics

TV hospital shows are generally evenhanded in their treatment of pressing health policy and health public policy issues such as patient's rights and managed care, but the shows fail to feature many of the most hotly debated national health policy issues such as prescription drug coverage for the elderly or coverage of the uninsured, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The examination of four dramas across the Big Three and cable's Lifetime, found that NBC's "ER," Lifetime's "Strong Medicine," and the since-canceled "Gideon's Crossing" on ABC and "City of Angels" on CBS were either evenhanded (48%) in their treatment of the issues, or split evenly in their leaning for or against the status quo (26% each way), Broadcasting & Cable reports.

Malpractice had bragging rights as the most frequently dealt-with issue.

But according to the study, the shows "ignored a raft of major public debates about the uninsured, Medicare and Medicaid."

Sun-Times Defended Over R. Kelly Tape

Philip Meyer, who holds the Knight Chair in Journalism at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, defends the Chicago Sun-Times for turning over to police a videotape that purportedly shows singer R. Kelly having sex with an underage girl.

In USA Today, Meyer writes: "Where did this notion come from that journalists should maintain a haughty indifference to all they survey? The idea is not as old and entrenched as some in the current generation of practitioners think. One way a good investigative reporter gets information from sources, for example, is to give them some information in return. This mutual exploitation of sources and journalists is as old as movable type.

"An independent press is necessary, but the concept of independence does not have to be blown up to full-scale adversarial mode. Objectivity in the gathering and analysis of news is necessary, but such objectivity does not mean being uncaring.

"It should be acceptable for journalists to care and to do their duty as citizens."

Hispanic Lawmakers Question Satellite Firms' Merger

Three Hispanic lawmakers are questioning whether the proposed merger of EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. will "adversely impact" the market for Spanish-language programming, reports Broadcasting & Cable.

"Hispanic consumers and under-served areas would be placed at the discretion of the monopoly in terms of pricing and service decisions," wrote Reps. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., in a July 16 letter to the heads of the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department.

The lawmakers did not directly oppose the merger of the satellite-service providers but called on FCC Chairman Michael Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft to conduct a "thorough investigation" of the merger to ensure it will not be contrary to the public interest.

Howard University Doubles Local Prime-Time Programming

Howard University Television announced its first major schedule changes under new general manager Adam Clayton Powell III, doubling local prime-time programming, adding a live prime-time newscast from the BBC and a nightly financial management program.

WHUT-TV in Washington, D.C., will broadcast a new local prime-time weekly series on Friday nights starting Sept. 13, @Howard, a weekly hour-long series focusing on lectures and forums with prominent visitors to Howard. On Sundays at 8 p.m., WHUT-TV will premiere a weekly showcase of documentaries on African American history and on race relations. In prime time seven nights a week, starting Aug. 4, WHUT-TV debuts BBC News live by satellite from London at 10 p.m., in addition to continuing the BBC News broadcast nightly at 7. WHUT-TV will broadcast "Moneywise," a PBS financial management program directed to the needs of moderate-income viewers, Monday through Friday at 7:30 p.m., starting Aug. 5.

"These changes reflect who we are and the communities we serve," Powell said, noting that Howard's is the nation's first black-owned PBS station. Powell arrived in April, after serving as vice president, technology and programs at the Freedom Forum.

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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