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Whitaker Moves to Web, Corporate Role

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Monday, September 4, 2006

Editor Replaced After 8 Years Leading Newsweek

Mark Whitaker, editor of Newsweek magazine for the past eight years, is moving to a new role as vice president and editor-in-chief of new ventures of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, the digital division of the Washington Post Co., Newsweek announced today. Managing Editor Jon Meacham succeeds Whitaker as editor.

Whitaker, the first African American to edit a major newsmagazine, "will take charge of developing a range of new Washington Post Company Web sites. Whitaker will also hold the title of Corporate Editor of Newsweek, where he will continue a number of initiatives he has started with," the announcement said.

Richard M. Smith, Newsweek's chairman and editor-in-chief, also announced that "Assistant Managing Editor Daniel Klaidman has been named managing editor and will join Meacham and Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria in the magazine's editorial high command. All changes are effective Oct. 2," the statement said.

"During his eight-year term as Editor, Mark has worked with vision and creativity to keep the magazine a vital force in the nation's conversation and in the lives of our readers," Smith said in the release. "Thanks to his guidance and the efforts of his remarkable team, Newsweek has been ahead of the pack on stories ranging from the tragedy of September 11 and the war in Iraq to turbulent presidential elections and breakthroughs in health, technology and education. Every bit as important, he has always been a trusted partner, a wise colleague and a true friend."

"In Jon we are fortunate to have perhaps the best and brightest young editor in the business," Smith said. "He is a gifted writer on social, political and religious affairs, a remarkable editor and talented manager. His uncanny judgment, lively intelligence and steadfast commitment to quality in print and on the Web will lead Newsweek into a bright future."

Sarah Ellison wrote last week in the Wall Street Journal that, "Mr. Whitaker already has been stepping away from day-to-day responsibilities and focusing more on Internet matters.

"The changes at Newsweek come amid growing pressure at the nation's two biggest newsweeklies, both of which are especially vulnerable to 24-hour cable and Internet news. For years, Newsweek and Time Warner Inc.'s Time magazine have nurtured a fierce rivalry.

"The magazines have long been moving away from hard news toward 'back of the book' features about lifestyle, health and news -you-can-use, but Time changed the rules of engagement when new managing editor Richard Stengel announced that Time would begin publishing on Fridays instead of Mondays. He acknowledged that the print magazine increasingly is less a home for breaking news and more for analysis," her story said.

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N.Y. Times Losing Top-Ranking Journalist of Color

Charles Blow, who as deputy design director for news is the highest ranking journalist of color at the New York Times, is leaving the paper for National Geographic magazine, Blow told Journal-isms today. Blow said his exact title at the Washington-based publication has not been worked out, but he will be a senior editor for art, in charge of graphics, cartography and scientific illustrations.

Blow said National Geographic had sought him out.

As reported in March, an internal committee at the New York Times warned management in a confidential report that "The Times is a newspaper at risk. If it fails to diversify its work force and to make attendant changes in its corporate culture, the Times will inevitably lose stature."

Blow told Journal-isms in May, "The lack of people in the managerial ranks is the part that a lot of people worry about, in terms of retention and luring people to the paper." Blow is most often the only person of color in the daily page-one news meetings.

Blow, a graduate of Grambling State University, "first came to us in 1993 as a summer intern in the graphics group," Tom Bodkin, Times assistant managing editor and design director, told the Times staff in 2004, when Blow was named graphics editor. "We kept in touch with him and after a year at The Detroit News we invited him to return to join our graphics staff in 1994. It didn't take long for Charles to impress us with his talent, enthusiasm and maturity, and two years later we made him the manager of that group. In running that department for the past eight years, Charles has proven himself to be both a superb manager and a first-class journalist."

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Four More Confirm Applying for Dallas Buyout

Four additional veteran journalists of color -- features writers Jean Nash Johnson, Beatrice Terrazas and Karen Thomas, and reporter Linda Stewart Ball -- have confirmed they have applied for the buyout package offered by the Dallas Morning News.

Ball is a suburban general assignment reporter/community columnist who has been at the paper since 1992; Johnson is a lifestyles special writer/columnist with 23 years at the paper.

Terrazas is a 14-year Morning News veteran who had been a photojournalist for 12 years before switching to writing after a 1999 Nieman Fellowship. Thomas has been a feature writer at the paper for 13 years. Terrazas is Hispanic, the others are African American.

As reported Friday, some of the top-ranking and most prominent journalists of color at the Morning News -- including Dwayne Bray, the metro editor; Vernon Smith, deputy international editor; Lennox Samuels, Mexico City bureau chief and former deputy managing editor; and sports columnist Kevin Blackistone -- are seeking the buyout, with some already accepting new jobs elsewhere.

News management reportedly said the offer to apply had been accepted by at least 85 employees, its goal.

Johnson told Journal-isms she and a partner planned to start a company to help students in late middle school or early high school "who feel like they need to take writing to another level. I've been mentoring teens at the paper for the last four or five years," she said, and writing is a major part of college-entrance exams. Part of her recognition of the need for such a service came from reporting education-related features for the past few years, she said.

"I don't know what will be the future of the features section," Johnson continued, noting that others in the features section also planned to leave. "My hope is that Metro will want to tell stories that reflect the life and interests of the people in the Dallas community."

Terrazas said she planned to freelance and work with her husband, John Doty, in his small production company. She said she was also on the board of trustees for the Writer's Garrett, a literary center. "We have a couple of programs that send teachers into schools to help at-risk students to express themselves through writing," she said. She said she plans to study there herself.

"It's a tough time to be leaving, because I've really enjoyed this beat," Terrazas said, speaking of food writing. "But I just can't stay here anymore. I'm going to miss my colleagues. We have five or six great writers. We used to meet quite a bit to workshop each other's stories.

"I've had some great opportunities here at the paper -- covering Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba, traveling to Mexico, Brazil, China for stories when I was still shooting. And in my food writing this year, I've had great editors who have sent me to Mexico, New Mexico, New York, in the name of food. I've had a blast this year!"

Thomas said she had begun teaching two media courses at Texas Christian University and at the University of North Texas, and for the moment, would concentrate on them.

"The future of my particular department is unknown," she said of the features section. "The future of daily journalism is rapidly changing, and it's time to think about how best to use my skills."

She added that with the buyouts, "the diversity is blown away out of that building."

Ball said, "Iâ??ll probably freelance for magazines, possibly venture into the more lucrative world of PR and earn a masterâ??s degree in English, emerging media or education. Weâ??ll see.

"I consider this buyout a blessing in a sense â?? itâ??s giving me the gift of time," she continued via e-mail.

"The DMN is embracing multi-media and new technology as the company moves more if its resources online. So kids coming out of j-school today better be able to do more than just write well, dig deep to get to the truth or take amazing photographs. They should also be able to operate a video camera, edit that video, produce a news blog and update breaking news online every few minutes. If they double majored in computer science â?? all the better, or so says management.

"While I find that extremely exciting, itâ??s time for me to be moving on.

"My son began kindergarten this fall. So Iâ??m looking forward to playing 'Soccer Mom,' being able to pick him up from school, spending more time with my family, and volunteering at our church and in the community â?? at least for a few months.

"In previous years, my requests to work part-time were denied. I wanted to be able to better balance the home and work life juggling act many parents face. But soon that wonâ??t be an issue."

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Greg Morrison Leaving Black Family Channel

Greg Morrison, a veteran broadcaster who started a news department for what is now the Black Family Channel, is leaving the Atlanta-based cable network after four years, he told Journal-isms.

Morrison, 56, came to the then-Major Broadcasting Cable Network, bankrolled by lawyer Willie Gary and others, in 2002. He had worked for NBC News, CNN and BET, among other operations, and had long been active in the National Association of Black Journalists, working with broadcast students.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote in 2003: "'I've been given a blank sheet of paper to start something new,' said Morrison. As he spoke, he washed Aleve down with Dunkin' Donuts coffee. The stress, and the foam pillows at the StudioPlus extended-stay hotel, were getting to him."

Now, Morrison said today, "I'm just tired. It is time to move on and take my life back, and relax a bit and figure out what I want to be when I grow up." News "can be all-consuming," he said. He has a grandchild on the way and wants to spend time "being a granddad."

Morrison produced a newscast for 20 months with "no staff reporters or editors, no producers," using freelancers and calling upon "our NABJ friends." On his watch, the station produced documentaries on the 2004 elections, the 1955 Emmett Till murder case, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the phenomenon of the late entertainer Ray Charles.

Michele Clark-Jenkins, vice president for programming, said, "we don't do a regular news broadcast, so we have not at this point made a decision" on replacing Morrison. "But we have been moving in the direction of citizen journalists." In production is a program with the working title of "You Are TV," she said. The network will use more independently produced black documentaries and will make more use of Ray Metoyer, the executive producer for news who is president of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists.

Black Family Channel claims viewership in more than 16 million households and calls itself the only African American-owned cable channel featuring family entertainment.

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Couric's CBS Debut Features No Journalists of Color

"The CBS Evening News With Katie Couric" made its historic debut tonight, with a cast of correspondents and commentators that included no journalists of color.

The featured correspondents were Lara Logan, chief foreign correspondent; Jim Axelrod, chief White House correspondent; and Anthony Mason, business correspondent. Couric interviewed New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, and a new segment was introduced, "Free Speech," described as "a real attempt to reflect what Americans are thinking and feeling, as people from all parts of the country representing all perspectives and points of view will be able to speak their minds — uninterrupted."

Tonight's segment featured Morgan Spurlock, author of "Supersize Me."

What caught the interest of the first reviewers, however, was a celebrity tease.

"To ensure viewers stayed tuned in for the half hour, she . . . teased them with the Vanity Fair magazine cover photo of actor Tom Cruise's baby Suri but didn't show it until near the end of the newscast," wrote Michelle Nichols of Reuters.

[Added Sept. 6: "Couric's much-anticipated debut as anchor of The CBS Evening News vaulted the network to first-place in the network news race, according to preliminary ratings from Nielsen Media Research," Allison Romano reported Wednesday in Broadcasting & Cable.]

In advance of the debut, Rochelle Riley wrote Sunday in the Detroit Free Press:

"This is a big deal.

"When Couric takes the seat on an expensive new set, she will hold on her shoulders the hopes of thousands and the history of millions. It's not just about the news; it's about the realization that women cannot be limited in America."

Susan Reimer wrote Sunday in the Baltimore Sun:

"When it comes to women, it is still about looks, age and clothes. The Wall Street Journal picked over Couric's wardrobe as if it were hanging in a second-hand shop. And women's magazine writers keep making the point that Vieira looks great without makeup and doesn't care a fig about what she wears," a reference to Meredith Vieira, who took Couric's place on NBC's "Today."

On the lack of journalists of color on Couric's CBS debut, spokeswoman Sandra M. Genelius asked, "do you judge a program by one broadcast?"

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Radio One's Pullout Prompts Calls for Ownership

"What's done is done. But there is a large community in this city clamoring for ownership and a larger voice that it can call its own," Adrian Walker wrote Monday in his Boston Globe column.

"Sarah Ann Shaw compares the late WILD-FM to a drum, in the African sense of a drum as a means for members of a community to communicate with one another. . . .

``WILD has been the drum of Boston for 50 years," the retired broadcaster said yesterday. ``It's not as if only black people listened to WILD."

"The FM half of the longstanding community institution was sold — dumped, really — without warning a couple of weeks ago. Many people now worry that its AM sibling could suffer the same fate. It's believed to be for sale, though its owners, Washington-based Radio One, have not said so.

"Then again, they never said the FM was for sale either, not until they were announcing that it would imminently be carrying the signal of rock station WAAF."

Walker noted that, "The sale of the station has sparked a flurry of under-the-radar activity. Some activists are organizing a letter-writing drive to the Federal Communications Commission, while others are hoping that if the AM station is for sale, a local group will be in position to buy it."

Joyce Ferriabough, an African American media and political strategist in the city, told Journal-isms:

"Most black folks slept this one because they never thought the owner of Radio One who is black would do something like this to the black community. Folks generally felt that, as a black owner, there would be more integrity involved in terms of understanding the importance of the African American culture and communication involved here. I guess it's easy to say, well, business is business, but Cathy Hughes and the Radio One empire [were] built with the support of the African American largesse so you would have thought that there would be more understanding and some commitment, not to mention sensitivity to that community, to at least keep Black radio in the family, so to speak."

Gregory Lee, president of the Boston Association of Black Journalists, told Journal-isms, "The black community in Boston has taken this transaction hard. Here in Boston when we lose something that has been viable for the black community the impact is felt harder because of the few outlets we have in the Hub."

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Nagin Faces Tough Media Crowd in New York

"New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin certainly attracted the notice of the press in the nation's media capital during his short stay in New York," Gordon Russell wrote Sunday in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"It's hard to say, though, how many of the people he was really after — big investors in the country's financial hub — paid much attention to what New Orleans officials billed as the first stop on an as-yet uncharted 'economic development tour.'

". . . Many of the reporters who turned up Friday asked questions about various aspects of the city's recovery, and Nagin and others spent nearly an hour in front of cameras and tape recorders talking up the city's rebound. However, few if any of his talking points appeared in the coverage that appeared in Saturday's newspapers.

"The four major daily newspapers that cover New York, for instance, focused almost exclusively on Nagin's explanation of his remark on a recent '60 Minutes' broadcast that the World Trade Center site was still a 'hole in the ground.'

"The New York Times went a step further with the theme than other outlets, asking several people touring the site of the fallen towers Friday to react to Nagin's latest apology-of-sorts. None of the visitors quoted in the article was impressed."

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Smiley Has "Multi-Platform-Media Bull by the Horns"

It is tempting to believe that activist broadcaster Tavis Smiley's "media-honed cudgel — however narrowly focused thus far on blacks — may someday succeed where other, more traditional attempts to grow black political involvement have failed," Amy Alexander wrote for the Sept. 18 issue of the magazine the Nation.

"Stephanie Robinson, president of the Jamestown Project, a Yale-affiliated nonprofit aimed at furthering democratic principles, told the San Francisco Chronicle that she intends to lead a movement to get New Haven city officials to adopt The Covenant's civic-improvement goals," a reference to the Smiley-edited best-selling prescription for black America.

"At the same time, for those of us who came of age after the civil rights movement, Smiley's showmanship can be a bit off-putting: It may be heretical to point out (and I do so at the risk of teeing off any number of Smiley loyalists) that the rhetorical hot air one is required to endure on the way to reaching Smiley's good-deeds message can be exhausting."

In the end, Alexander gave Smiley "props for taking the onrushing, multi-platform-media bull by the horns and wrestling it into the service of blacks and other underrepresented Americans. And yes, it is satisfying to point out that even without getting onto the cover of Time, Smiley, with his adept cross-breeding and ownership of so many media outlets, puts even right-wing PT Barnums like Ann Coulter to shame."

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Short Takes

  • "During the late 1960s, the Black Panther Party's revolutionary newspaper could be found in Oakland, in other inner cities and on college campuses across the country," Kamika Dunlap reported Saturday in the Oroville (Calif.) Mercury-Register. "Starting today, those distinctive pages that helped to spread the party's message about the struggle for civil rights in the African-American community will be on display at a free exhibit" at the the Oakland Main Library.
  • " Senior Editors Bruce Dixon, Margaret Kimberley ('Freedom Rider') and I have left BC to launch a new, bigger and better e-magazine, (BAR), which is scheduled to make a big splash online in the last week of September," Glen Ford notified supporters of the Black Commentator Web site. "Our reasons for leaving BC involve irreconcilable differences with the siteâ??s other co-founder over the publicationâ??s operations and business model, especially the introduction of subscriptions and the blocking of non-subscribersâ?? access to past issues. We believe this business model has diminished BCâ??s usefulness and its ability to effectively reach the audience we all seek to influence and serve. We also think the model is financially unsustainable." Ford and co-founder Peter Gamble "have been friends and collaborators on various media projects for nearly 30 years," the site says.
  • "One day Harold Reynolds was on the TV set, the next he's airbrushed out," Les Payne wrote Sunday in Newsday. "ESPN snatched the popular sports analyst off its Major League Baseball show weeks ago, and fell silent. There have been accusations and, of course, rumors" of alleged sexual harassment. "What about a fair hearing? Reynolds has never faced the accuser ESPN allowed to end his job, though let's hope not his career. Fairness in the U.S. job market is bigger than sports."
  • "Say goodbye to CBS 3 weekend anchor Calvin Hughes, who soon will be leaving the station," Dan Gross wrote Tuesday in the Philadelphia Daily News. "We're told he's off for a gig in Atlanta at WSB-TV, an ABC station."
  • "Kent Harrell is leaving as news director of KZTV-TV in Corpus Christi, Texas, "after more than three years here. Kent tells me he'll announce his new position next week. KZTV is a CBS affiliate and is owned by Eagle Creek Broadcasting," Rick Givers wrote on his Web site for news directors.
  • Zhao Yan, 44, a Chinese researcher for the New York Times, sentenced to three years in prison for fraud, decided Monday to appeal his conviction, one of his lawyers said, Jim Yardley reported Tuesday in the Times.
  • "Hispanic magazines have lagged behind general-market titles in developing websites that do more than promote the print edition, but the two largest, Latina and People en Espanol, are catching up fast," Laurel Wentz wrote Monday in Advertising Age. "The websites of 'Latina' and 'People en Espanol' are proving to be very attractive to Hispanic consumers."
  • Tangie Newborn, the former executive director of the National Association of Black Journalists who left abruptly in March amid financial and management issues, "serves as an executive coach for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and The Center for Association Leadership, is an appointed member of the Center's Diversity Committee, and is co-author of Membership Operations, a core competency management series within ASAE," according to sponsors of the 2nd Annual Black Press All Star Awards, who announced that Newborn will appear at a Sept. 17 "Girls Empowerment Brunch" in Washington.

Scottish media published lies about claims of kidnapping and forced marriage because "few Scottish media outlets have 'anyone from Asia in their newsrooms so they didn't have someone who could get in among the Asian community and find out the truth. They fell back on whatever prejudices they have,' " Osama Saeed, Scottish spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain, said in a story by Neil Mackay in the Sunday Herald of Glasgow. The disappearance of a child of a Pakistani father and a white mother who converted to Islam was reported as a sensational tale of international kidnapping.

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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