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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jabari Asim of "Book World" to Edit the Crisis

Jabari Asim, deputy editor of the Washington Post's Book World section, has been named editor of the NAACP's venerable magazine the Crisis, publisher Roger Wilkins told Journal-isms on Monday.



Asim is author of the recently published book "The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why" and has written children's books as well as a collection of essays, "Not Guilty: 12 Black Men Speak Out on Law Justice and Life."

His low-key style stands in marked contrast to that of George E. Curry, the high-profile editor of the late Emerge magazine and former editor of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, which services the black press. Curry turned down an offer to edit the magazine in June after weeks of negotiations.

"The board is very happy," said Wilkins, who chairs the Crisis editorial board, calling Asim "an intelligent young man who has a passion for magazines and a passion for the concerns of black people and the work that the NAACP is doing and has done."

When Asim was promoted to deputy editor of the Post book section in 2005, Book World editor Marie Arana said, "Jabari has been an editor here for almost nine years now. He came to us from the arts pages of the St. Louis Post Dispatch and has built a reputation on this staff as an intrepid editor with a fearsome, green pen. He is more than passing wise about many subjects, ranging from poetry to literature to hard-nosed books on race and cultural issues. He is a thoughtful, always interesting writer, with a number of very good books to his credit."

Asim also wrote occasional columns for the Washington Post Web site.

Asim, who turns 45 on Aug. 11, said his goal is to make the Crisis the leading journal of African American ideas and culture. DuBois is one of my personal heroes," he said.

The St. Louis native said he had always wanted to work at a magazine, but when he had applied for jobs in that medium, he found that "the magazine industry is whiter than a snowstorm in Vermont" and wasn't interested in hiring him.

In "The N Word," published in March, "Asim collects a wide array of facts and significant moments from American history, politics, science, entertainment and literature to marshal his impassioned argument that this word means black folks no good, and never has. Most Americans would agree with that, though few realize the extent to which whites went to keep the social order in place," Erin Aubry Kaplan wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

The Crisis was founded in 1910 by activist-scholar W.E.B. DuBois and is distributed free to NAACP members. Published every two months, it claims a circulation of 250,000.

Victoria L. Valentine announced in December she was stepping down as Crisis editor after six years. Phil W. Petrie has been interim editor. There were as many as 30 candidates to succeed Valentine.

Working at the NAACP is not without its challenges. On June 7, the organization announced it was cutting about 40 percent of the staff positions at its Baltimore headquarters and planned to temporarily close its seven regional offices to cover three years of budget shortfalls, as Kelly Brewington reported in the Baltimore Sun. Asim told Journal-isms he was used to working extensively with freelancers.

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond told Journal-isms in June that the Crisis would continue the "noble tradition" started by DuBois. "We want the magazine to prosper and continue to be the kind of fighting magazine that it is. It's an advocacy magazine, and that's what we want it to be," he said.

The hiring of Asim away from the Post continues a recent trend of black-owned publications selecting editors who have worked in the mainstream press. Bryan Monroe, editorial director of Ebony and Jet magazines, who came from the defunct Knight Ridder Co., is another example. Asim starts Aug. 20.

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Revamped Sun-Times Drops Monroe Anderson



The Chicago Sun-Times, after installing a new editorial page editor who proclaimed, "We are returning to our liberal, working-class roots" and will seek improved diversity, has dropped Monroe Anderson, a mainstream African American columnist and longtime Chicago resident.

"We'll be adding seats to our editorial board so that board members — the paper's brain trust — reflect the ethnic and social diversity of our city," Cheryl L. Reed told readers on July 9. She had been books editor and before that an investigative reporter.

She continued, "You'll be hearing from a more diverse population — people who will agitate you and make you think. Some you might agree with. Eventually we'll be listing the names of our board members, indicating who has penned which editorials. That way you'll know who the characters are behind the curtain. No Wizards of Oz here.

"We'll also be saying goodbye to some columnists and adding new ones. We plan to employ columnists who write about real issues that affect our lives in Chicago."

In an e-mail exchange on Monday, Reed answered "yes" when asked whether people of color already had been added to the editorial board, and "no" to "Have any people of color been subtracted from the board or from your stable of columnists?"

Asked for details, she replied only that, "we're looking for journalists from Chicago."

Anderson, a veteran journalist who has been in Chicago since 1972 and is originally from nearby Gary, Ind., had written his Sunday column as a freelancer for 17 months. He said he had never spoken to Reed, but added that he had been in management and knows that "the new person has a right to collect the team they want. It's unfortunate that I'm not on the team."

Meanwhile, "I'm writing the weekly column for the new, improved Ebony/Jet website, searching for an agent for my novel about the first wave of black journalists to enter MSM [mainstream media] in the early 1970s in Chicago and working on a nonfiction book about black men as an endangered species," Anderson said.

Anderson has been editor of the Chicago incarnation of Savoy magazine, director of station services and community affairs at WBBM-TV, press secretary to Mayor Eugene Sawyer, a Chicago correspondent for Newsweek, a writer for the Chicago Tribune and Ebony, and in Washington, a writer at the old National Observer.

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NFL Network Kills Deion Sanders Column on Vick

"I'm sure you came to this space today looking for Deion Sanders' column," Ed Reed, editor of the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press wrote on Sunday.

"And he wrote one for you.

"But we can't publish it.

"Due to contractual obligations, his full-time employer — the NFL Network —has the exclusive right to Deion's image and opinions. They invoked that right this week.

"The national backlash Deion received for his perceived defense of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and dismissal of dogfighting started on Thursday after ESPN Radio dissected his column. It just happened to be the same day Vick was in a Richmond, Va., court pleading not guilty to federal dogfighting charges.

"Understandably, the NFL did not like that one of the faces of its network was being portrayed as a Vick apologist. Deion sent a column responding to the criticism to The News-Press and the NFL Network on Friday morning."

Thomas George, former sportswriter at the Denver Post and New York Times, gave Reed the news in his role as NFL Network managing editor, Reed wrote.

In lieu of publishing Sanders' column, on Saturday Reed quoted from comments Sanders made to him in an interview.

"I do not condone it, and I never insinuated I condoned it," Sanders said of the dogfighting. "I said it is wrong.

"That was never stated, never at all. How could I when I have three (German) shepherds. I take family pictures with them. They're part of the family."

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Creating"Big Deal" Over Bonds a Matter of Timing




The San Francisco Chronicle plans to "make a big deal" if hometown hero Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants ties or surpasses Hank Aaron's home run record, but "the plan is to hope that he doesn't wait until the 10th inning to hit one," Deputy Sports Editor Mark Smoyer told Journal-isms on Monday.

With night games, it becomes impossible to change the paper after a certain time, Smoyer said. For that reason, it is unlikely that the paper would put out a special section until the next day, he said. This week's games start at 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Smoyer said.

At, the Chronicle's Web operation, News Director Vlae Kershner said, "We'll definitely put up whatever we can" if Bonds ties or breaks the record, but said he did not want to disclose any more for competitive reasons.

Janie McCauley reported Monday for the Associated Press, "Bonds hit his 754th home run Friday night against Florida, then went 1-for-7 with five walks the rest of the weekend. That left him trying to match Aaron's mark on the road, and it won't be friendly.

"The hostile Dodger crowd likely will try to make Bonds uncomfortable in left field and at the plate this week. The Giants then head farther south to San Diego for the weekend."

The Web site of the San Jose Mercury News has already set up a special Bonds page. The Web site of the Bay Area-based Alameda Newspaper Group, like that of the Chronicle, has a page devoted to the Giants.

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. . . and Then Came Another Sports Scandal

As if the dogfighting indictment against Michael Vick and the controversy over steroid use by Barry Bonds weren't enough, last week came the accusation that NBA referee Tim Donaghy placed bets on NBA games and provided information to others betting on games.

That prompted more commentary from sports columnists.

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Cynthia McKinney Sues Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) has sued The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its parent company, Cox Enterprises, claiming the newspaper libeled her in editorials and news articles," Rhonda Cook reported Saturday for the Journal-Constitution.

"The lawsuit also charged that bomb threats were telephoned to her office from the newspaper's office in Cobb County last year.

"The lawsuit filed in Fulton County State Court focuses most of the complaints against editorial page editor Cynthia Tucker and a series of her columns, some of which were part of the submission that won Tucker the Pulitzer Prize earlier this year.

"McKinney cited several instances in which Tucker allegedly libeled her, including a column about the congresswoman's physical encounter with a Capitol Hill police officer in a Washington office building. 'Instead of admitting the fact that the officer used force against the congresswoman, Tucker states only that the officers "stopped her," in an effort to falsely portray Cynthia McKinney as the wrongdoer,' the lawsuit said. McKinney apologized for the March 2006 incident from the House floor."

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Stories "More Raw" in Editing for Generations X, Y

"Delivering the news via digital media is the wave of the future for the newspaper industry, but it is a wave that so far few minority journalists have caught," according to Kenneth J. Cooper, writing in the spring issue of the Maynard Institute's Maynard Journal.



Similar observations could be made about the broadcast industry. In a q-and-a in the USC Annenberg's Online Journalism Review posted on Friday, Sandeep Junnarkar talks to Jason Samuels of ABC News Digital about adapting television to the Web. "We do stories that maybe appeal more to Generation X and Generation Y than stories that are directly trying to appeal to Baby Boomers and [their] parents," Samuels said. "As a person in charge of it, it's my job to kind of select stories that I think appeal to a younger generation."

Samuels was asked how the webcast he produces for differs from the ABC television evening newscast.

"As an example," Samuels said, "correspondents usually go out to cover stories; they write a script, edit it and put it together for the broadcast. But I tell them to just shoot a video blog. So in today's show, Miguel Marquez in Los Angeles was assigned to do a story for the broadcast about the new line of Bible-themed action figures that are going to be sold in Wal-Mart. So when you watch the broadcast tonight it's going to be a traditional, well-crafted 1:30 to 2-minute piece. What we asked him to do is that when you are at Wal-Mart and you are reporting your piece for the broadcast, just stand there, hold up these action figures and just tell us about them. Don't script anything perfectly just give us your own impression and your sense of what is the story. Miguel filed a video blog piece that is about a minute long for our webcast. It's a little less formal, it's a little more raw and I would argue in some ways it is a little more real.

"It is less polished but I think younger people are willing to accept that and almost prefer that instead of showing what's packaged so perfectly."

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Ombudsman Offers Appreciation of Copy Editors

"I've always marveled that copy editors are expected to write a captivating headline and a compelling caption, catch any spelling and grammatical errors, and check the geography of Dubai in the 20 minutes between receiving a story from an assignment editor and sending it to the typesetter," Karen Hunter, reader representative at the Hartford (Conn.) Courant, wrote on Sunday. "But hey, that's the challenge of the job.

"I won't try to offer that technology has added production duties to the workload of copy editors while their numbers have shrunk. That excuse is decades old. Readers don't care anyway; they pay for the correct crossword puzzles as well as elegant headlines.

"I would like copy editors to know, though, that their work is just as important to readers as is the work of reporters. It's about credibility all the way down the line."

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"Diverse Pool" of J-Dean Candidates Sought at Reno

The University of Nevada, Reno, site of the editing program of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, is seeking "a strong and diverse pool of highly qualified and energetic individuals" as candidates to succeed Cole Campbell as head of the journalism school, William E. Sparkman, dean of the College of Education and head of the search committee, said on Monday.

Campbell, 53, died in January after his vehicle overturned on an icy road in Reno. He was a former editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., before becoming head of the journalism school at Reno in 2004. When Campbell died, Warren Lerude, former editor and publisher of the Reno Gazette-Journal and a professor at Reno, described him as "the type of journalist, as an editor and educator, who embraced the future."

Those interested in the position should send a cover letter and a curriculum vitae/resume to Alissa Mortensen at or University of Nevada/MS 005, Reno NV 89957. To apply online, visit, keyword "dean."

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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