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War Is Becoming Women's Work

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

CNN's Sara Sidner Out Front on Downfall of Gaddafi

Inner City Media, Radio Pioneer, Files Bankruptcy Petition

MadameNoire, NewsOne Gain; BlackVoices, BlackPlanet Lose

Long-Awaited King Memorial Opens to Press and Public

Washington Times Plays Race Card on Obama

Obama Takes Wilkerson Book on His Vineyard Vacation

Yvonne Latty Wins as Educator Who Fosters Diversity

Ashford Believed in Keeping "a Little Bit of Mystery"

With the whereabouts of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi unknown, Sara Sidner was on the air literally all weekend, a CNN spokeswoman said. (Video)

CNN's Sara Sidner Out Front on Downfall of Gaddafi

"Women led the way in the coverage of the rebel advance into the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Sunday night," Jack Mirkinson wrote Monday for the Huffington Post, and among them was CNN's Sara Sidner, one of the rare African American women to report from a war zone for a network.

"She's been on air literally all weekend," a CNN spokeswoman said. "And most mornings during the week. She has definitely been in the thick of it. I believe she was among the first to report that Gaddafi's forces were beginning to fight back from the hospital and the hotel where she and Matthew Chance were staying," the spokeswoman said, referring to another CNN correspondent.

The whereabouts of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi were unknown.

Another CNN spokeswoman exclaimed via email, "Sara is fantastic! " and noted that Sidner had been reporting in Libya this summer. She is based in India for CNN and contributed significantly this year to CNN's Freedom Project, reporting on modern-day slavery.

Before joining CNN, Sidner was a weekend anchor and reporter for KTVU-TV in Oakland, Calif.

Mirkinson's posting continued, "Opposition forces (aided by NATO and the US) swept into Tripoli and quickly captured much of the city. News networks, which had mostly taken their eye off the Libyan war, quickly turned their sights to the country and began round-the-clock coverage of what was described repeatedly as the last day of the Gaddafi regime. On Sky News, on Al Jazeera and on CNN, viewers saw women correspondents sweep in with them, often in helmets and flak jackets, and produce intense, riveting accounts of what was happening around them.

"On Al Jazeera, Zeina Khodr gave a report from Green Square, in the heart of Tripoli, that was replayed for hours. Surrounded by cheering and gunfire, she said that Tripoli was 'now in the hands of the opposition.' She was also pushed by rebel soldiers as she gave her report."

For NPR, correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro was in Tripoli and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Benghazi.

Meanwhile, "about three dozen foreign journalists based at the five-star Rixos hotel in Tripoli have been trapped by heavy fighting in the surrounding streets as rebels advance on the capital," Britain's Guardian newspaper reported.

" 'No one has left the hotel today,' said Missy Ryan, a correspondent for Reuters. 'We all want to go downtown to report on what's happening but it's not safe.' Snipers were positioned outside the hotel, she added.

". . . 'The mood [among the journalists] is fine,' said Ryan. 'But it was pretty stressful for a while yesterday when there was a lot of fighting around the hotel. Things are calmer today.'

"The media corps held a meeting to consider their options as fighting erupted in the capital. For months, many have feared they could be held by the regime as human shields if rebels reached the capital. The only exit route from Tripoli by land, the road to the Tunisian border, has been cut off by rebel fighters for more than a week."

Inner City Media, Radio Pioneer, Files Bankruptcy Petition

Earvin 'Magic' Johnson "Creditors of Inner City Media Corp., the holding company for the owner of New York City’s WLIB and WBLS radio stations, filed an involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition," Edvard Pettersson reported Friday for Bloomberg News.

"The creditors, including Yucaipa Cos. funds, listed $254 million in debt in a filing today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

"Inner City Media, through Inner City Broadcasting, owns urban-formatted radio stations in New York, California, South Carolina and Mississippi.

"Erica Garay, a lawyer listed as representing Inner City Media in a separate civil lawsuit filed last month in New York, didn’t immediately return a call for comment."

The roots of Inner City Broadcasting sprouted in New York in 1971, when the late New York power broker Percy Sutton and others bought WLIB-AM, making it the first black-owned station in the city. In 1974, they bought WBLS-FM, which soon became their main profit center with music that appealed to all races.

In 1981, WLIB would follow Washington's WOL to become the second station in the nation with a black news-talk format. The same year, Inner City bought the celebrated Apollo theater at a bankruptcy sale.

Inner City was viewed with pride by advocates of black media ownership, but when Sutton died in 2009, the New York Times noted that Inner City Broadcasting, which by then owned 17 commercial stations, "faces a possible financial collapse because of pressure by Goldman Sachs and GE Capital to repay nearly $230 million in debt," citing an interview with Pierre Sutton, Percy Sutton's son. "

Noting the paucity of media outlets owned by people of color, Inner City enlisted the Congressional Black Caucus in seeking government aid when stimulus money was distributed to combat the recession.

In May, Richard Morgan of the Deal magazine reported that Goldman Sachs "has agreed to sell the delinquent debt it holds" in Inner City to Magic Johnson Enterprises, of which basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson is chairman and CEO.

The deal led to speculation that Inner City would be effectively acquired by Johnson's company, but Johnson's involvement remains unclear. Yucaipa Co., one of the creditors, is a business partner of Johnson.

Officials at Magic Johnson Enterprises did not respond to a telephone inquiry on Monday.

MadameNoire, NewsOne Up; BlackVoices, BlackPlanet Down

The black women's lifestyle website MadameNoire.com; NewsOne.com, part of the Radio One/Interactive One family; and NBC's theGrio.com are among the year's fastest-growing African American-oriented websites, according to July-to-July figures provided to Journal-isms by the comScore, Inc., research company.

The same figures showed significant losses in unique visitors for BlackVoices.com, revamped this month as part of Huffington Post, and BlackPlanet.com, another Radio One/Interactive One property.

Madame Noire, which features such headlines as "My husband cheated: Reactions you shouldn't have after uncovering infidelity," recorded a 685 percent increase, from 92,000 unique visitors in July 2010 to 7,252,000 in July 2011. NewsOne went up 114 percent, from 316,000 to 678,000; and theGrio.com was up 52 percent, from 383,000 to 580,000.

The fastest growing sites are not the largest in the field, however.

That distinction goes to such sites as the tabloid-style MediaTakeOut.com, up 40 percent, from 2,388,000 to 3,355,000; BET Networks, down 7 percent, from 2,551,000 to 2,360,000; Bossip.com, down 6 percent, from 1,769,000 to 1,667,000; theRoot.com, down 8 percent, from 1,541,000 to 1,411,000; BlackVoices, down 46 percent, from 2,562,000 to 1,375,000; and Essence.com, up 9 percent, from 1,009,000 to 1,097,000.

Figures for BlackPlanet.com were down 45 percent, from 1,645,000 to 905,000.

Fred Mwangaguhunga, creator of MediaTakeOut.com, offered this explanation for the growth in visitors to his site: "We've grown our audience organically, by continuing to put out the biggest news stories in urban entertainment."

(Credit: Richard Prince)

Long-Awaited King Memorial Opens to Press and Public

An international contingent of media representatives knotted around the principals responsible for the new Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Monday on the National Mall in Washington during a press session preceding the memorial's opening to the public.

The 30-foot sculpture, featuring a 450-foot wall with more than a dozen quotations from King, is to be officially dedicated on Aug. 28, the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington. The Tidal Basin location has King looking toward the memorial to Thomas Jefferson, famously a slaveholder, and one of King's anti-Vietnam War quotations is just blocks away from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation has raised $112 million of the $120 million needed to complete the tribute.

Washington Times Plays Race Card on Obama

"The White House issued an executive order on Thursday titled 'Establishing a Coordinated Government-wide Initiative to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce," the Washington Times wrote in an editorial on Monday.

It was headlined, "Obama: Whites need not apply."

"The purpose of the order is 'to promote the federal workplace as a model of equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion,' " it continued. In other words, it would be better for the government if public-spirited white workers sought employment elsewhere. Lost amid all the politically correct box-checking is the principle that the most qualified person should be hired for a job.

"President Obama’s new order instructs federal agencies to design new strategies for hiring, promoting and keeping workers of 'diverse' backgrounds. The diversity the government is seeking is not diversity of ideas, outlooks or work experiences. In contemporary political parlance, 'diversity' refers primarily to the color of one’s skin and not the content of one’s character. . . ."

Obama Takes Wilkerson Book on His Vineyard Vacation

Isabel Wilkerson's "The Warmth of Other Suns," which chronicles theIsabel Wilkerson early 20th-century migration of African Americans from the South, is the only nonfiction work President Obama took with him on his nine-day vacation on Martha's Vineyard, New York magazine reported on Sunday.

The others were "The Bayou Trilogy," a single volume of three mystery novels by Daniel Woodrell; "Rodin's Debutante," a novel by Ward Just; "Cutting for Stone," about two boys born in Ethiopia, by Abraham Verghese; and "To the End of the Land," about an Israeli mother, by David Grossman.

Many considered Wilkerson, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for her feature writing at the New York Times, a sure bet for another Pulitzer for "The Warmth of Other Suns." However, jurors considered the book in the history category rather than as nonfiction, and the history winner was "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery,” by Eric Foner.

Yvonne Latty Wins as Educator Who Fosters Diversity

"Yvonne Latty, director of the Reporting New York and Reporting the Nation programs at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, is the recipient of the 2011 Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship," the National Conference of Editorial Writers announced on Monday.

"The award, given in recognition of an educator’s outstanding efforts to encourage students of color in the field of journalism, will be officially presented at the National Conference of Editorial Writers (NCEW) annual convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, which will be held September 15-18, 2011.

Yvonne Latty" . . . Yvonne Latty’s work with New York University and its Urban Journalism Workshop embodies the essence of this award. Through Ms. Latty’s efforts, students of all ethnicities have been exposed to as much diversity as possible.

"Under her guidance, the Urban Journalism Workshop has continued to expose high school students of color to college-level journalism courses during difficult economic times. In addition to working with the students, Ms. Latty also organizes volunteer instructors and fundraises for the program to ensure its success. The Urban Journalism Workshop encourages participating students to consider a career in journalism. During the 10-day program, students learn to report and write stories, create audio and video pieces on those stories, and create photographic slide shows. At the end of the program, students have created a multi-media website, The Spectrum.

"In addition to her work with New York high school students of color, Ms. Latty has also highlighted minority issues with her college journalism students. In October 2010, she traveled with a group of students to the [Arizona/Mexico] border, where they explored immigration issues. In 2009, she traveled with a group to Navajo Nation, where they investigated housing issues and uranium contamination of the land. This fall, she and her students will study urban issues in Detroit. The Border Project and the award-winning The Forgotten Navajo are documented by the students on PavementPieces.com, a project of the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

"Ms. Latty is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. A former reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, she is the author of "We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans" and "In Conflict: Iraq War Veterans Speak Out on Duty, Loss, and the Fight to Stay Alive."

Nick Ashford, shown performing with his wife, Valerie Simpson, remembered an interview when "I wanted to get up and walk away." (Credit: Erin Baiano)

Ashford Believed in Keeping "a Little Bit of Mystery"

Nick Ashford, the male half of the singer-songwriter team Ashford & Simpson who died Monday at age 70, was an easygoing interview subject.

After all, his wife, Valerie Simpson, said, cooperating with reporters is part of being in show business.

"Lena Horne once told us, 'When you don't want to do your part of the job, stay home; so if you don't want to give them what they need to do their job‚ cause this is part of your job, it's show business‚ then you stay home. If you don't want to be pleasant about it, and get that part of the job done, then there's no reason to be there,' and we kind of understand that," she told Journal-isms.

Ashford and Simpson were in this column in 2009 as they promoted their song "Solid (as Barack)," a version of their hit song "Solid" altered to become a tribute to the new president.

In the interview, they recalled the one question that most irritated them over their career of more than 40 years.

"We did an interview in California, I won't mention the guy's name," Ashford said, "and we're sitting down and he asks:

" 'How do you maintain your blackness?'

"I said, 'wha'? I wanted to get up and walk away. 'What do you mean, how do I maintain' — I am black, I mean, blackness is not something you maintain. It's just something you are."

The couple remembered the person as being of mixed heritage.

"I knew we were through with him," Simpson said.

Ashford continued, "I said, 'you can't tell by my music I'm black and my music is from my soul?' You know what I mean? It was those kind of interviews that really, with out-of-the-way questions like that that really have no answer, that kind of irritate you. And also, Val and I like to be somewhat private and don't divulge our personal, personal problems to interviewers. Sometimes you don't have to go that far. I think you should have a little bit of mystery about you.

Simpson added, "I think a lot of the entertainers today, they give up way too much. And they don't have to. Then when you think they've gone too far you can't push 'em back, because you've already opened up that door."

Ashford: "And also, too much exposure cannot be good for your image."

"Mr. Ashford had throat cancer and was undergoing treatment, but the cause of his death was not immediately known," Ben Sisario reported in the New York Times.

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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 BugMeNot.com 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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Comments

Women and War

To learn more about women and war join colleagues at the Journalism & Women Symposium Conference in Asheville, N.C. next month. In light of the Lara Logan story the JAWS Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) is taking a closer look at the risks and benefits of women covering war and the military, including not only women reporting but also women serving in the military and setting policy. This focused discussion will feature Cami McCormick of CBS News, who was wounded in Afghanistan, Nancy Youssef, chief Pentagon correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers and former Baghdad bureau chief, and Anu Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women's Action Network.Joining the discussion will be JAWS members and who have covered everything from Vietnam to Bosnia.  It's one of many great sessions on the JAWS program.

All the details on JAWS CAMP are on the JAWS website www.jaws.org  and registration can be found at http://www.jaws.org/2011/08/17/jaws-fall-camp-sept-23-%E2%80%93-25-2011-register-now-3/

Dates for CAMP are Sept. 23 - 25. 

"Warmth of Other Suns" Pulitzer category

Was placing Wilkerson's book in the history category a backdoor way to disqualify it? Say it ain't so. It's a great read because it is not written like most history books; it's narrative nonfiction. Some of the issues that peeved watchers of the fictionalized "The Help" were covered with deft touches in Wilkerson's epic. I already imagine the screenplay for the movie. I hope "Warm of Other Suns" receives all the accolades it richly deserves.

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