Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Whiteness at the Top, Part II

Send by email
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

21 of 24 Network Executive Producers Are Caucasian

Vice presidents: Lyne Pitts, Paul S. Mason, Mark Whitaker The paucity of diversity at the top ranks of the 61 network-owned television stations, reported last week by the National Association of Black Journalists, extends to the headquarters of the network news divisions, NABJ reported in a companion study.

"The National Association of Black Journalists analyzed the races of those shaping the news at the country's oldest television networks: ABC News, CBS News and NBC News. NABJ members have reached the ranks of network vice presidents, but an NABJ study revealed one of the Big 3 doesn't have any vice presidents of color in news," the association said in a news release.

The references were to Mark Whitaker and Lyne Pitts at NBC News, and Paul S. Mason at ABC News. CBS was the missing network.

"The NABJ study showed little diversity among an elite group of managers (executive producers) who oversee news from sunrise until prime-time. Twenty-one out of 24 executive producers included in the study are white. That's nearly 88 percent. Two are Asian, and one is Hispanic. Not one is African American.

"For the first time, NABJ released eye-opening information in a Diversity Census of network news. Leadership in the past asked network executives to release their own statistics, but they would not, citing company policies," the release continued.

"We went in and got our own," said NABJ President Barbara Ciara.

"As an organization, this is not about just telling you where you went wrong, we're about telling you how to make it right. We can help you make it better. We have a wealth of talent," Ciara said in the release.

"Every news manager at the Big 3 is not included in this study. NABJ Vice president of Broadcast, Kathy Times, made an effort to include every manager of each network's morning and evening newscasts, weekend shows and magazine shows, such as NBC's 'Dateline,' ABC's 'Nightline' and CBS's '48 Hours,' " the release continued.

"This was a sensitive, yet critical report for NABJ to produce," said Times in the statement. "We have qualified members who should be considered for these coveted positions. We are already working with the networks to change trends that are not acceptable in this melting pot."

"NABJ's study included only managers responsible for editorial content and talent development in news. The author obtained the race, name, sex and title of 85 managers, from vice presidents to bureau chiefs. NABJ used a variety of sources to verify this information including current and former employees, company Web sites, news releases and people with knowledge of the networks' hierarchy," according to the NABJ statement.

Paper in Newport News Lays Off Last Black Reporters

In Newport News, Va., a city that is 41.3 percent black, the latest round of layoffs at the Tribune Co.-owned Daily Press has left the newspaper with no black reporters.

The casualties were David Squires, 50, a veteran of several news organizations who had been a Daily Press sports columnist and then an urban affairs reporter, and Jason Jordan, 27, a sportswriter.

David Squires Their layoffs were among several in the latest cutbacks at Tribune Co.-owned properties and elsewhere.

In Hartford, public editor Karen Hunter told readers of the Tribune-owned Hartford Courant on Saturday that she had been laid off and that the paper would not fill her position.

The Orlando Sentinel, also owned by Tribune, told readers on Tuesday that "Central Florida's largest news-gathering staff was reduced by about 20 percent this month, as the second of two rounds of layoffs in the Orlando Sentinel newsroom were announced to the staff on Monday by Editor Charlotte Hall."

The Tribune-owned South Florida Sun-Sentinel undertook a significant number of layoffs, including journalists of color.

C.B. Hanif, editorial columnist and ombudsman at the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, confirmed he had taken a buyout, and J. "Bart" Bartosek, editor of the paper, told Journal-isms that "The Post did accept all the applications of those who applied for the voluntary separation program. The program involves two parts, however, and we won’t know who will complete the process until we reach the next step in mid-August. The offer is voluntary, and our staffers still have time to make their own decision on whether they’ll complete the process."

Jillian McKoy, an editorial assistant at the Miami Herald, said at a National Association of Black Journalists session at last week's Unity convention that at least three other people of color in her calendar section were laid off.

The disappearance of black reporters at the Daily Press comes as Lee Abrams, innovation chief for the parent Tribune Co., urged on his blog, "*PAY ATTENTION TO MINORITY ISSUES . . . CREATE A HISPANIC AFFAIRS DESK. Create an AFRICAN AMERICAN AFFAIRS DESK. Whatever Minorities (though minority is pretty dated word if you look at census data). For example, It's goofy to have this big White institution reporting on Inner City Affairs. . . . We need African Americans (in this case) ON the scene . . . studying it . . . reporting it . . . understanding it!!! Maybe we are. . . but to an average reader it's "Staff Reporters". WE need to embrace the multicultural America better. The time is NOW."

"Most of the athletes that come out of the region (Mike Vick, Allen Iverson, Alonzo Mourning) are black, yet there are no black reporters and there's no urban affairs beat," one observer told Journal-isms.

The Daily Press circulation area includes historically black Hampton University, with Norfolk State University, also historically black, close by.

Editor Ernie Gates and Publisher Digby Solomon did not respond to requests for comment.

Squires told Journal-isms he was not surprised when he found out last week that he would be laid off. He said he anticipated becoming a subcontractor or freelancer for the paper, but would take a month off and work with his side business of renting condominiums on eBay. He might also return to teaching at Hampton University, Squires said.

Jordan, who covered high school and college sports, said he arrived at the paper in 2004 after an internship at ESPN: The Magazine. He said he would continue to freelance for ESPN and was not expecting the layoff. "I was young and I wasn't really breaking the bank," he said. But "I don't have any bad feelings about the Daily Press."

Hanif, of the Palm Beach Post, told Journal-isms he was "letting folks know I remain particularly interested in the migration of opinion and reader interaction online. I expect to continue writing and editing, maybe teach some classes and take some, pick up on projects delayed while I wore so many hats here."

He and editorial writer Elisa Cramer have said they are taking the buyout. Bartosek told Journal-isms that he would "make the right [decisions] to make sure we reflect our communities" if both black journalists leave the paper's opinion section.

Karen Hunter At the Courant, Hunter wrote, "I am not one for long goodbyes. So in short, this is my last column as The Courant's reader representative. Along with 23 others in the newsroom, I am being laid off; another 33 chose to take a buyout. My personal situation aside, July 31, my last day with the newspaper, will mark the end of an era. The Courant will no longer have a reader representative."

Hunter told Journal-isms, "I am looking for employment."

A member of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel staff told Journal-isms the layoffs there have been "a tortuous process" in which people were tapped on the shoulder and ushered out of the building. The paper has not told readers of the reduction, the staffer said.

Of those remaining, "a lot of people are relieved, but there's a lot of sadness because a lot of their friends are gone, whether they were voluntary or just tapped on the shoulder without even having a chance to say goodbye."

Newhouse News Bureau to Close, One of Most Diverse

The scheduled closing of the Newhouse News Service Washington bureau will mean the demise of "the most representative Washington chain bureau," according to the "Diversity in the Washington Press Corps, 2008" report released last week by Unity: Journalists of Color.

At Newhouse: Toren Beasley and Katherine Reynolds Lewis Three of the bureau's 10 members are journalists of color, the report said. They are Toren Beasley, a black journalist who is managing editor; Katherine Reynolds Lewis, the money and work reporter, who is Asian American, and Michele M. Melendez, who covers "generational issues" and is Hispanic.

"Newhouse News Service, a supplemental wire service founded in 1961, will close on Nov. 7, after the election," as the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

"The decision to close followed the direction of our clients, the editors of our papers," said Linda Fibich, editor and Washington bureau chief. "They felt they could not afford to pay for a central Washington bureau at a time when they were steering all available resources to local coverage back at home."

"But the NNS-owned Religion News Service will continue operating in much the same way under NNS parent Advance Publications, RNS Editor Kevin Eckstrom told E&P Tuesday," Dave Astor added in Editor & Publisher.

"NNS -- whose clients include non-Newhouse papers, too -- offers content such as stories, photos, and columns. It's also the Washington bureau of Advance, whose 26 daily newspapers include The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J; The Oregonian in Portland, Ore.; The Plain Dealer in Cleveland; the Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance; and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans."

Beasley, who turns 51 on Sunday, told Journal-isms he has been with the company for 23 years, having worked at Newhouse's Syracuse newspapers and joining the Washington bureau in 1990 as director of photography. "I haven't had an opportunity to look at all my options," he said on Tuesday.

Lewis, 35, who came to the bureau five years ago from Bloomberg News, told Journal-isms she did not want to leave journalism. "This has been my dream job. I write completely fresh and exciting stories about anything in business. I don't want just any job," she said. "I'm going to go out and look for my other dream job, and if I don't find it, I'll do it as a freelancer." She said she wants "to get to a place that's doing innovative and exciting stuff."

Lewis called the bureau closing "really sad. This bureau has been an amazing place to work. We have an amazing bureau chief who is supportive of journalists of color and good journalism. I don't know how there will be a coherent focus for the newspaper group without us" in Washington.

The previous bureau chief, Deborah Howell, left in 2005 to become ombudsman at the Washington Post. She told Journal-isms then, "This bureau was almost all white males when I got here. Including Religion News Service, it's half women now, with two black editors, a black graphic artist, a black reporter, two Hispanic reporters, one Asian reporter."

David Starr, Newhouse Newspapers' senior editor, told E&P that he hoped the 11 reporters who write for specific Newhouse newspapers can join the staffs of those papers.

Edie Huggins, Beloved Philly broadcaster, Dies at 72

'There are good folks, people who inspire us and then there was Edie Huggins,' Greg Morrison of CNN told his colleagues in the National Association of Black Journalists. <br>(Credit: WCAU-TV)"Edie Huggins, a trailblazing reporter who became one of Philadelphia's most beloved broadcasters, died this morning after a lengthy illness," Sam Wood and Michael Klein wrote Tuesday for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Ms. Huggins, 72, was the first African-American woman to report on television in Philadelphia. She began her career as a broadcaster in 1966 as a features reporter on The Big News Team with John Facenda on WCAU-TV.

"Her 42-year career at the station, now known as NBC10, included stints as anchor and presenter of numerous investigative series, said station spokeswoman Eva Blackwell."

"Herb Clarke, retired Channel 10 weatherman who worked with Edie for years, said that the manager of the station at the time picked her out of a catalog of New York models," John F. Morrison wrote Wednesday in the Philadelphia Daily News.

"She had never done live TV," Clark said. "But she blended in very well. We had a formidable news team, led by the legendary John Facenda, but Edie met the challenge in grand style.

"She became a skilled writer and reporter. She would search out good stories on her own."

"When I got to the station in '91, Edie was one of the first people to reach out to me,' said weeknight co-anchor Renee Chenault-Fattah in the Inquirer story. "Being an African American woman she felt the responsibility to take me under her wing. She took me to her church, introduced me to her family. I felt like I always had a friend in Edie.'

Tributes also flowed on the e-mail list of the National Association of Black Journalists.

"There are good folks, people who inspire us and then there was Edie Huggins," Greg Morrison of CNN wrote. "She was a genuinely class act who never forgot people. Years after I had left Philadelphia she would walk up to me at an NABJ convention and pick up our conversation like we had only talked the day before.

"I was proud to introduce her to younger journalists as a friend, a great journalist and a role model for young women to emulate."

A memorial service is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bright Hope Baptist Church, 12th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue in Philadelphia, the Daily News said.

Kevin Chappell of Ebony magazine, right, asked Sen. Barack Obama, 'What message would you have for black journalists who continue to find it difficult to get a chance to cover presidential politics on this level?' (Credit: Valerie Goodloe/Ebony)

Obama Answer Left Out Blacks in Mainstream Media

Sen. Barack Obama told the only black reporter covering his trip to Europe and the Middle East that he makes himself accessible to black radio, television and newspapers, but he missed a chance to comment on the absence of black journalists from the mainstream media on the trip.

In an exchange published on the Web site, reporter Kevin Chappell asked the presumptive Democratic nominee, "As the only Black journalist here covering your overseas trip, I feel a responsibility to ask you about the lack of representation. What message would you have for Black journalists who continue to find it difficult to get a chance to cover presidential politics on this level?"

Obama replied, "Some of it is just a resource issue. That's not something that I can completely do something about. It's expensive to take one of these trips, and a lot of African-American owned newspapers just don't have the budgets to do this. And we can't get into the business of subsidizing, because that would raise issues of conflict of interest. But our team has gone out of its way to make me accessible to Black publications, radio and television. Throughout the primary, I was on Black radio all the time, talking to Black newspapers all the time. I know that people always want more, but I have to try to satisfy a lot of constituencies with the little bit of time that I have."

Hazel Trice Edney, editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the organization of black newspapers, told Journal-isms, "of course I would love to have gone to cover or to send someone, but the travel budget would have been far too expensive than we can afford right now."

Shirley Carswell, assistant managing editor for planning and administration at the Washington Post, said airfare for covering the trip was about $10,000.

In a 2005 appearance before the National Association of Black Journalists, former president Bill Clinton said in response to a question, "You get different and better questions if the people asking the questions represent America and the world. Every one of us filters the world through the prism of our own experience. The press corps should look like the country they are reporting to."

Where's Critical Coverage of Unity Initiative?

At the Unity: Journalists of Color convention in Chicago last week, Unity President Karen Lincoln Michel unveiled an initiative called "Ten by 2010." "The idea is to get ten major media companies to commit to training and promoting a person of color to a senior management position by mid-year 2010," as Jane Kim wrote on Monday for the Columbia Journalism Review.

"Reports from the convention, however, have held back on any assessment of how feasible that initiative is. (We get, instead, an ample number of quotes from Unity president Karen Lincoln Michel)," Kim wrote.

"Where is the assessment? The New York Times Co. and Gannett have reportedly both signed on already, giving the initiative some feet; even so, it seems important to address whether or not this might be an empty gesture. As is often the case with issues of race and representation, reporters seem to be glossing over practical questions of feasibility in favor of an easy report of 'Industry Agrees: Diversity Still Important.'

"Coverage could address any number of things: whether a fast track training program actually works; whether participating companies' commitments might falter, given the overarching economic situation; or whether affirmative action, in either newsroom or management situations, is effective."

At Unity, CIA Returns to Recruiting Journalists

"Reporting from the UNITY Journalists of Color Convention, Aura Blogando observed a number of her colleagues hovering around the CIA job booth:" Mike Riggs wrote Monday for the Reason magazine Web site.

"Craig P (not his real name, I would guess) works the Central intelligence Agency booth at UNITY. As I cruised the halls the first day looking for old and new faces earlier this week, I was a bit puzzled to find that the CIA had a recruitment booth. At a journalism conference.

"According to Richard Prince at Journal-Isms, the National Association of Black Journalists has a policy banning the FBI and the CIA from its job fairs that dates back to 1989. Wayne Dawkins wrote about the ethos behind the policy in 'Black Journalists: The NABJ Story':

"Modern-day black journalists feared being labeled or used as spies by the white-majority government, or worse yet, becoming the spy and police agencies of government. NABJ asked the two black women CIA representatives to leave. The intelligence money was returned."

"In 1996, several international news organizations published a joint letter to Congress asking it to abandon legislation that would allow the CIA to use journalists in clandestine missions: Any policy that allows intelligence agents to impersonate journalists, use journalists as agents, or otherwise use journalism as a 'cover' is unacceptable on its face. In particular, it endangers the safety of all journalists in war, civil war, terrorist and other situations."

NABJ President Barbara Ciara told Journal-isms that the convention jobs fair was Unity's not NABJ's, but that "people are looking for work" and she would not want to stand in the way of an NABJ member and a job opportunity.

According to Walterene Swanston, then NABJ's executive director, "Prior to the 94 convention, NABJ's attorney told me that we could not ban the CIA from recruiting at the Job Fair, primarily because we had no rules on who could/could not recruit."

Conference of bloggers was 'an amazing gathering of a Black brain trust,' its organizer says."Blogging While Brown" Draws 70 to Atlanta

The first "Blogging While Brown" conference, held in Atlanta last weekend, "went exceedingly well," according to organizer Gina McCauley.

"Better than any family reunion," she told Journal-isms via e-mail.

"Not only was it a gathering of bloggers, but some of the most ambitious, talented, socially conscious young (and old) people on the planet. You can watch a mini-video of the conference by going to my site, What About Our Daughters. People seemed happy and the surveys coming back are positive. Regarding numbers, Officially we had about 70 attendees, speakers and sponsors. Unofficially, because the Black Arts festival and a Black doctors convention were in the building of either side of us, we had some 'play cousins' say they were going to 'peek in' and ended up staying all day.

"Blogging While Brown was an amazing gathering of a Black brain trust. Lawyers, doctors, engineers, venture capitalists, teachers, former, rabble rousers, community organizers, labor movement leaders and journalists. Blogging, unlike journalism, is interdisciplinary."

Nearly Half of "Black in America" Viewers Were Black

"CNN's audience includes a greater proportion of African American viewers than other cable news networks. So maybe it's not surprising that the network's documentary series, 'Black in America,' set a ratings record this month," Brian Stelter wrote Wednesday for the New York Times.

"The two-part, four-hour series, which premiered last Wednesday and Thursday and was repeated over the weekend, reached more 25- to 54-year-old viewers than any other cable news documentary so far this year, CNN said Tuesday, citing Nielsen Media Research data. On Wednesday and Thursday, the program posted an average of 1.1 million viewers in that demographic and 2.3 million total viewers.

"Nearly half of the viewers were African American. Including the weekend repeats and adding each viewer who watched for at least six minutes, "Black in America" reached a cumulative audience of 13 million. Almost half of those viewers, 5.9 million or 46 percent, were black. White viewers accounted for 6.2 million.

"In June, according to cumulative data provided by CNN, 19 percent of that network's prime time 25- to 54-year-old viewers were African American. Ten percent of MSNBC's viewers were African American and 8 percent of Fox News Channel's viewers were."

Short Takes

  • "The Chinese authorities confirmed today that the 20,000 foreign journalists covering the Olympic Games will not have unrestricted access to the Internet during their stay. [Kevan] Gosper, the head of the IOC's press commission, admitted today," Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday. Gosper apologized for misleading foreign journalists after it emerged that the Olympic movement cut a deal with the Chinese government to censor the Internet during the Games, Peter Simpson of the South China Morning Post reported.
  • Myriam Ayala "One of Univision's most senior reporters says she's getting the shaft for the anchor desk and mucho dinero because she has too much pigment," according to the Web site "Myriam Ayala alleges in a Federal lawsuit that the network has assigned 'lighter complexioned' and more 'conventionally attractive' talent to plum assignments and anchor time slots. Ayala also complains that she got moved to the graveyard shift and had her vacay cut even though she's been at the network for 25 years. We called Univision for comment but, so far, nada." Nor did Univision respond to Journal-isms.
  • Hugo Balta, vice president of news and news director at WNJU-TV Telemundo 47, the NBC Universal owned and operated station serving the New York metropolitan area, defeated incumbent Manuel De La Rosa, a general assignment reporter for KIII-TV in Corpus Christi, Texas, for vice president-broadcast of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The vote, which concluded at the Unity: Journalists of Color convention in Chicago on Friday, was 133 to 90. Other positions were uncontested.
  • Candace Heckman, breaking news editor for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and, defeated Ferdinand De Vega in voting for national treasurer of the Asian American Journalists Association. Heckman is a 2007 graduate of the Maynard Institute Media Academy. The vote tally was not available on Wednesday. Those newly elected take office in January.
  • Sharon Chan of the Seattle Times, incoming president of the Asian American Journalists Association, has written to well-wishers, "Yes, it's true. Danny O'Neil and I are asking all our wedding guests to give to AAJA's national endowment. We don't want a waffle iron. We don't want a toaster. What we want is a future in journalism." Both Chan and O'Neil are AAJA members.
  • A dispute over the Cherokee Freedmen, blacks who are being disowned by the Cherokee Indians, is continuing online after it flared at the Unity: Journalists of Color convention. Journalist Kenneth J. Cooper, a Cherokee Freedman, challenged panelist and current principal chief of the Cherokee Nation Chad Smith at a panel, "Who Is an Indian?" Comments continue on the Web site of the convention newspaper, and in the African-Native American Genealogy Forum of the Web site.
  • The National Association of Black Journalists recognized 10 journalists imprisoned in the northeast African country of Eritrea with its Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist Award. "These print journalists, some presumed dead, were arrested after calling for a democratic government," the organization said. "We join with the Society to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders in calling for their release. It is our hope that the award will bring wider attention to the issue of journalistic freedom around the world."
  • "Bearing a remarkable resemblance to his pioneer dad, Larry Whiteside, the late baseball writer for the Boston Globe, Tony Whiteside proudly accepted the J.G. Taylor Spink Award on behalf of his father at yesterday's Hall of Fame ceremony," Nick Cafardo reported from Cooperstown, N.Y., Saturday in the Boston Globe. "The Spink Award is presented annually for meritorious contributions to baseball writing."
  • Jason SamuelsJason M. Samuels, one of the only black men in the senior producer ranks of ABC News, has written to colleagues that, "In September, I will join the staff of ESPN's recently launched, hour-long primetime newsmagazine E:60 as a senior producer. In addition, I have accepted a tenure-track position as a professor at New York University's Department of Journalism." His last day at ABC News is Thursday.
  • "In the past four weeks, the 'black issue' of Italian Vogue has caused such a phenomenal demand at news-stands in Britain and the United States that Cond?© Nast, the publisher, has rushed to reprint and distribute 40,000 more copies," Sarah Mower reported Sunday in Britain's Guardian newspaper. In a commentary, Njide Ugboma, editor of Let Them Eat Cake magazine, said, "There remains plenty to worry about -- if worrying is what you want to do. Even this issue of Italian Vogue contains more than 100 pages of 'white' advertising. There's also the danger that this is just a collectors' edition, a one-off, a novelty."
  • A Democratic primary in Brooklyn, N.Y., "is turning into a race between the hip-hop generation and the gospel generation. Kevin Powell, a former star on MTV's 'Real World,' is trying to unseat 13-term congressman Ed Towns," Robert Smith reported Saturday on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

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.

Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince.

To be notified of new columns, contact and tell us who you are.

About Richard Prince

View previous columns.



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.