Washington Bureaus Under Scrutiny
Wednesday, August 4, 2004
Survey Documents Whiteness of Papers' D.C. Faces
"Less than 10.5 percent of the reporters, correspondents, columnists, editors and bureau chiefs in the Washington daily newspaper press corps are journalists of color -- 60 out of 574," according to a report from Unity today that named names and asked journalists of color in the bureaus what they thought.
"Few of the journalists of color in Washington newspaper bureaus believe the capital press corps does a good job in covering race-related issues. Only 13 percent say the coverage is good and none believe it is excellent or even very good," the report continued.
"Nearly one-third of the journalists responding to the questionnaire believe coverage of race-related issues in Washington has declined in just the past few years, and more than 70 percent believe journalists outside the Beltway do a better job."
Thirty-nine of the 60 journalists responded to a 75-question survey. Nearly four in five felt their race helps in their own coverage of race-related issues and said they were much more likely to seek out voices of color for stories that are not race-related than their white colleagues.
It notes that Ceasar Andrews of Gannett News Service, Vickie Walton-James of the Chicago Tribune and Alison Bethel of the Detroit News, all African Americans, were the only journalists of color heading Washington bureaus.
At a news conference presenting the report today, Unity President Ernest Sotomayor said he had already received a "commitment this morning from the executive editor of the Dallas Morning News that this is going to change very quickly" at his paper.
Belo, which owns the Morning News, was listed along with Scripps Howard, Hearst, Copley and McClatchy as one of the Washington Bureaus having few or no journalists of color covering Washington. The News sent Bob Mong, president and editor; Stuart Wilk, vice president and associate editor; and George Rodrigue, vice president and managing editor, to Unity.
John Walcott, Washington bureau chief of Knight Ridder, also spoke up from the audience. "We at Knight Ridder feel that we need to do better and we intend to do better in a number of ways," he said. "Youth is another way to look at our willingness to reach out of our incestuous world and make them part of the Washington world," he said. He mentioned the hiring of Hannah Allam, Knight Ridder's new Baghdad bureau chief and NABJ's Journalist of the Year, from the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Allam is under 30. "A lot would say she's not ready. Anybody who said that about Hannah missed a bet," Walcott said.
The report includes comments from the leaders of each of the journalist of color organizations on the findings.
The report includes these recommendations:
- "Put a premium on diversity. Washington bureaus need to establish a long-term goal and commitment to increasing minority representation on their staffs.
- "Be open to scrutiny. Media companies should publicly disclose their ethnic/racial makeup in all departments, including their Washington bureaus." Sotomayor said that the wire services and broadcast operations refused to disclose their numbers, but that "Unity is committed to continuing this project on the broadcast side and wire services as well."
- "Establish sound hiring standards and enforce them, and guarantee that there will be candidates of color for EVERY newsroom position, especially the highest-profile jobs like those in Washington and state capital bureaus.
- "Break the incestuous hiring cycle in Washington.
- "Fill the pipeline. Appoint more minorities to cover local and state politics back home.
- "Provide opportunity. One astonishing finding of this study was that only one-third of these top journalists plan to end their careers in journalism.
- "Develop mentoring programs.
- "Journalists of color need to actively seek counsel of editors about what they must do to pursue a job in Washington."
Read the report (PDF)
The face of Washington's press corps is much whiter than the face of the nation (Knight Ridder)
"Cultural stereotypes, non-participation in informal industry networks and low numbers in the job pool are some of the reasons why Asian Americans are under-represented in newspaper and television management positions, according to a study conducted by Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), and funded by the World Journal," AAJA announces.
"Although Asian Americans make up 4.2 percent of the country's population, only 1.3 percent of television news directors and only two percent of newspaper newsroom supervisors are Asian American.
"The Medill-AAJA study, 'Asian Americans in Newsroom Management: A Survey of TV and Newspaper Managers,' was conducted by Medill researchers Larry Stuelpnagel and Cynthia Linton and attempted to shed light on why Asian Americans are so under-represented in TV and newspaper management ranks, and to provide recommendations on how to correct the problem.
"The study looked at 30 media markets -- 10 large, 10 mid-sized and 10 small. The researchers contacted 51 newspapers and 141 TV stations in those markets. Among the study's findings:
- "None of the newspapers responding to the survey had Asian Americans in the top three newsroom jobs, while two TV stations had Asians in one of the two top positions;
- "Newspaper editors and television news managers said the shortage of Asian Americans in management is due primarily to the few Asian Americans in the job pool and the few Asian Americans living in their market;
- "Other reasons cited for their scarcity were that Asians are not part of the informal 'network' and that other minorities have higher numbers and need representation.
- "Asian Americans at two California newspapers, which employed the majority of print managers found in the study, talked extensively about the cultural stereotype of the quiet, unassertive Asian and how that can be a detriment in the 'hard-charging' newspaper culture.
Read the report (PDF)
A report on workers in Spanish-language media to be released by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists will show that:
- 60 percent of the respondents are not under contracts.
- 75 percent of respondents work for non-Latino-owned media.
- 90 percent of respondents were born outside of the U.S.
- 30 percent of journalists working in Spanish media outlets are of Mexican descent.
- 90 percent of full-time employees were not in unions, according to Levi J. Long in a story in the online convention newspaper, @unity.
The results are based on an online survey of 100 questions ranging from salary ranges to health-care coverage, to which 400 responded. They are to be released at 1 p.m. Friday.
The Secret Service is defending asking an Arizona paper the race of a photographer of South Asian descent assigned to cover an appearance by Vice President Dick Cheney over the weekend, but others criticized the action. The paper, the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, refused the request.
"Racial information is routinely requested by the Secret Service for background checks of journalists coming in close proximity to the president, the vice president, and the Democratic presidential nominees, according to spokesmen for the service," the New York Sun reported.
"The newspaper was told that her race was necessary to distinguish her from anyone potentially bearing the same name or Social Security number -- a reason Ms. [Mamta] Popat called "lame," adding, "I've never met another Mamta Popat."
"She was eventually permitted to photograph Mr. Cheney at a Saturday afternoon rally, where she photographed the vice president from a distance of some 70 feet.
"However, a [white] photographer for the competing paper, the Tucson Citizen, told The New York Sun last night he had also been asked to disclose his race before the same event at Tucson's Pima County Fairgrounds.
"The president of the South Asian Journalists Association, S.Mitra Kalita, said she could not judge the incident without more information, but she predicted it would be discussed" at Unity -- which it was.
"'As journalists, we often write about these issues, but we don't necessarily expect it to happen to us,' said Ms. Kalita, a reporter at the Washington Post," the Sun story continued.
"A spokesman for the Secret Service, Thomas Mazur, said racial information is also gathered from journalists covering [Democratic presidential candidate John] Kerry and his running mate, Senator [ John] Edwards. A spokesman for the Kerry-Edwards campaign, Luis Vizcaino, was unable to confirm the campaign's practice yesterday.
The Asian American Journalists Association issued a statement saying, in part:
"'Mamta's race is not relevant, and to ask for it sends a message that certain races represent security risks and are not to be trusted. That is wrong,' said Abe Kwok, AAJA vice president for print.
"Kwok said he is also troubled at published reports that the inquiry of race was made of some journalists and not others. AAJA . . . calls for the practice to end immediately."
Journalist asked race before clearance (Newsday)
Secret Service defends question for Cheney visit (Arizona Daily Star)
"Approximately 30 percent of the people hired in Gannett newspaper newsrooms in the past 12 months have been people of color, the company said today as the UNITY 2004 convention got underway in Washington, DC.," Gannett said in a news release yesterday.
It also said that, "Nearly 33 percent of the journalists promoted to their first, or to a higher, management job are people of color at Gannett's community newspapers, according to the company."
Gannett has created a Unity Web site, http://www.gannett.com/unity/
Minority Journalists Join Voices at Unity Convention (Washington Post)
CBS Starts New Diversity Program
CBS News today announced a diversity initiative "designed to develop a pool of highly qualified producers and correspondents from which CBS affiliates and stations, as well as CBS News, will be able to draw talent."
"Two journalists, one producer and one reporter, will be selected each year for the program. CBS News will hire the journalists to work for two years at participating CBS affiliates. The journalists will be placed in strong newsrooms with a commitment to mentoring and enthusiasm for the project. Each participating affiliate will be involved in approving the candidate for its own newsroom. At the end of two years, the goal is for the journalists to join CBS News," a news release says. The program is to start in January.
Applicants should have a minimum two years professional experience. Interested individuals may contact Linda Mason, vice president, public affairs, CBS News (212) 975-6318, or email@example.com, or go to www.cbsnews.com and click on "Internships" for details, the notice says.
"The media organizations fighting a do-not-publish order from the judge in the Kobe Bryant sexual-assault case dropped their U.S. Supreme Court challenge on Tuesday after the disputed transcripts were released by the court," Steve Lipsher and Felisa Cardona report in the Denver Post.
"First Amendment experts acknowledge that while the transcripts now have been made public, the greater battle over prior restraints remains.
"We got the relief we were seeking, which is that these transcripts not be subject to a prior restraint," said Steve Zansberg, an attorney for the seven media outlets, including The Denver Post.
"'I think it is a victory for the press,' said Lucy Dalglish, executive director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va. "My understanding was that Judge [Terry] Ruckriegle recognized that he had to release this stuff because . . . [Supreme Court Justice Stephen] Breyer pretty much said this (the prior restraint) was very suspect."
"Sisterspace and Books, the black-owned bookstore that tried to create an oasis of African American culture in the fast-gentrifying U Street corridor, was evicted yesterday after years of legal battles over property maintenance and skyrocketing rent," as Debbi Wilgoren reports today in the Washington Post.
"Dozens of supporters rushed to the storefront at 1515 U St. NW after receiving emergency cell phone calls from proprietors Faye Williams and Cassandra Burton," her story said.
As we reported in June, black bookstores in other cities, such as Dallas and Philadelphia, have faced similar trouble. SisterSpace was the last remaining black-owned bookstore in the District of Columbia.
Williams was at Unity today, fulfilling a prior commitment to staff a booth offering books by journalists of color, she said. Overnight, she told Journal-isms, she received four offers for space to relocate, one in nearby Arlington, Va., and the other three in the District of Columbia.
Television station owner Granite Broadcasting -- one of two African American- owned, publicly traded media companies, Radio One being the other -- will be delisted from the Nasdaq SmallCap Market as of Thursday morning, the company said late Tuesday, according to David B. Wilkerson of CBS.MarketWatch.com.
"To qualify for continued listing on the Nasdaq Small Cap Market, a company's stock value must be at least $35 million, or it must have $500,000 in net income in either the latest fiscal year or two of the last three years. Granite received word that it had not complied with either requirement, and had to meet with Nasdaq officials," Wilkerson wrote.
"In a May interview, Granite Chief Executive Don Cornwell told Media Report about the recovery plan the company planned to present to the Nasdaq panel. 'I think people have viewed us as being ready to close the doors, and that's not what my (management team) is saying at all,' he said," the story continued.
"In April, Granite agreed to sell WPTA, its Fort Wayne, Ind., ABC affiliate, to privately held Malara Broadcasting for $45.9 million, and to buy WISE-TV, Fort Wayne's NBC station, from New Vision Television for $44.2 million. The transactions are expected to close in the third quarter.
"We're going to double our operating income, just from those two transactions alone. And we're very focused on trying to replicate that in other markets as time passes," Cornwell said.
"Granite carries a significant amount of debt, and its attempts to sell its two most valuable properties -- its WB affiliates in San Francisco and Detroit -- have been stymied by the Federal Communications Commission's inability to get media ownership rules relaxed, which effectively froze potential buyers in place."
"At a time when English-language newspapers in major U.S. cities suffer from declining readership and falling advertising revenue, the Bay Area is home to a newspaper war," Vanessa Hua writes in the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Six Chinese dailies are battling for readers: the Sing Tao Daily, World Journal, China Times, International Daily News, China Press and Ming Pao. Epoch Times, a free newspaper founded in 2000, is distributed Monday through Friday.
"Until recently, there were five Chinese dailies. Then Ming Pao launched a local edition at the end of April with a print run of 25,000."
"The National Press Club has named William Raspberry, nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group, as the recipient of its 2004 Fourth Estate Award," the Press Club announces.
"The award, which is the NPC's top honor, goes annually to an individual who has achieved distinction for a lifetime of contributions to American journalism. Raspberry is the thirty-second honoree to join a list that includes Walter Cronkite, David Broder, Helen Thomas, Theodore White, Robert Novak and, in 2003, NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.
"Raspberry's commentary now appears in more than 200 newspapers through the Washington Post Writers Group. He consistently addresses the latest ideas and proposals for answers to social dilemmas."
"Hoy, a Spanish-language daily newspaper serving Chicago's 1.6 million Hispanics, today announced that Antonio Rosas- Landa has been named opinion editor of its Chicago edition," a news release announced Monday.
"Since 1999 Rosas-Landa has contributed political analysis and editorials to several newspapers, including Hoy, as a freelance writer and journalist."
"Several members of Congress sent a letter Tuesday to Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, to express their opposition to what they say is the network's 'unfair and unbalanced' bias towards the Republican Party," UPI reports.
"The group, composed of 38 Democrats and Independents from the U.S. House of Representatives, has requested that Murdoch meet with them to discuss their concerns.
"The letter's co-signers include Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., a member of the House Democratic Leadership, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., ranking member on the Joint Economic Committee."
"The most powerful mogul in Spanish TV distrusts the media, rarely gives interviews, and doesn't even speak Spanish," writes Ronald Grover in Business Week, in a story that also credits Brian Grow in Atlanta and Geri Smith in Mexico City.
"He's a jet-hopping, 73-year-old former boxing promoter who pals around with George Bush (41 and 43) and lives in the sprawling Bel Air (Calif.) mansion featured in the 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. He loves throwing lavish parties -- once he even flew in Henry Mancini and Andy Williams to perform at his son's 1981 wedding. Still, to most people in Hollywood, where as a talent agent he once championed the careers of Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando, Jerry Perenchio is an enigma," Grover writes from Los Angeles.
"In an era of publicity-courting media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch and Sumner M. Redstone, the self-possessed Andrew Jerrold Perenchio quietly runs what may be one of the more valuable pieces of media real estate in the business. Univision Communications Inc. (UVN ), with two broadcast networks, a cable channel, a radio network, and three music labels, is the biggest player in the fast-growing Hispanic market, which today includes one in every seven Americans. Perenchio made an early bet on what seemed like a niche market by buying five TV stations and a struggling Hispanic network. Today that niche has exploded into a demographic phenomenon: Univision draws more young viewers in prime time than MTV and more men than ESPN, according to Nielsen. And in Hispanic-rich markets such as Los Angeles, Miami, and Phoenix, it often beats English-language rivals to snare the younger viewers advertisers crave."
"Milana Walter, who teaches a course in Media and Values at Columbia College and has been a consultant for the Chicago Minority Business Development Council, is joining WMAQ-Channel 5 as director of station relations," Robert Feder reports in the Chicago Sun-Times.
"Starting Aug. 16, she succeeds Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, who left the NBC-owned station to become vice president of communications and community relations in Chicago for Nielsen Media Research.
"Walter, a Chicago native and graduate of Tennessee State University and Southern University Law Center, previously was a marketing consultant at NBC-owned WTVJ-TV in Miami."
"Village Voice veteran Richard Goldstein has been let go from the alternative weekly just weeks after several other high-profile staffers were also shown the door, Jill Gardiner reports in the New York Sun.
"Mr. Goldstein, an executive editor at the paper and a longtime gay rights advocate, has been at The Voice since 1966 and has survived several ownership regimes.
" 'I was fired,' Mr. Goldstein said yesterday when reached by phone in the Voice office. 'On the advice of my attorney I can't say anything more right now, but yes, today is my last day.'"
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