Yet Another Warrior Passes
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Chicago's Journalist-Activist Lu Palmer Was 82
In the latest in a string of passings of activist black journalists, Chicago's Lu Palmer, who once declared, "I shall never again work in any communications medium where any white person can make the decisions as to whether my copy will be published or how it will be published," died Sunday at age 82.
Palmer made the statement upon resigning from the Chicago Daily News on Jan. 15, 1973, the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., as Curtis Lawrence noted today in the Chicago Sun-Times.
"Mr. Palmer said his departure was due to several incidents where his copy was altered or his column was changed or killed," Lawrence wrote.
"In Mr. Palmer's letter of resignation, he wrote: 'My tenure at the Chicago Daily News, and my prior employment at the Chicago American, have convinced me that the white establishment press and the honest views of the black journalist are totally incompatible.
"'I am also convinced that the white establishment press is and will continue to be an arm of the system, and the concerns of black people have no priority in that system nor in any one of the satellite systems of which the institution of mass communications is one.'
"Following his resignation, the Chicago Newspaper Guild gave him an award for his service to the newspaper industry for his 'effective voice in the press and radio for the needs of the black community,'" the Sun-Times piece continued.
But it wasn't just the white press that gave Palmer trouble.
When he arrived in Chicago in 1950 from Fisk University in Tennessee, where he headed the communications department, he joined the Chicago Defender. "I was fired from the Defender three times," the Sun-Times quoted Palmer as saying. "Personally, I think I was a little too black for them."
Robert Starks, a professor in Northeastern Illinois University's Center for Inner City Studies, told the Sun-Times that Palmer "absolutely dominated the activist community from the late '60s to the '90s. He mentored many of us, including myself."
"Mr. Palmer founded an independent paper, the X-Press, but it lasted only 14 months, closing in 1974. . . .
"Mr. Palmer said the paper lasted 'a hell of a lot longer than a lot of people ever expected.'
"A strident black nationalist, he founded the Chicago Black United Communities in 1979 and the Black Independent Political Organization in 1981, according to a biography on the HistoryMakers Web site.
"Mr. Palmer's most significant legacy was his role in the 1983 election of [Harold] Washington as mayor."
And in 1985, the National Association of Black Journalists gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award.
"He was among the first reporters to question the motives behind a 1969 raid on a West Side two-flat in which Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton of Chicago and Mark Clark of Peoria were shot to death," recalled the Chicago Tribune in its obituary today.
"Mr. Palmer invented the slogan 'We shall see in '83,' a rallying cry for the election of Harold Washington, Chicago's first black mayor. He lent an ear to people with problems -- on WVON-AM 1450 or in the small office in Bronzeville."
"He also organized popular community forums on critical black social issues.
"And at the same time he was the voice of radio shows such as 'Lu's Notebook,' which featured pointed commentaries and was carried on several stations. He retired from his final show, 'On Target' in 2001."
On his retirement, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution of congratulations, saying "WHEREAS, Lu Palmer is a legend. His exemplary legacy is that of impeccable integrity in terms of his beliefs and his own life. His commitment has been to make vital information an acceptable landmark and an ongoing quest. These qualities have earned for him a special niche in our world."
"St. Margaret's Episcopal Church could not hold the more than 1,000 people who wished to celebrate the memory of his infectious grin. Many could not enter the standing-room-only funeral service," wrote Jason Roberson about the gathering Saturday for Derek Ali, the Dayton Daily News reporter slain after police say he pushed a woman out of the line of fire.
"In an online guest book devoted to Ali on the Dayton Daily News Web site, DaytonDailyNews.com, nearly 400 entries from friends across the nation expressed sorrow and encouragement for Ali's family," his Sunday story in the News continued.
On Friday, for the viewing, wrote Angelle Haney and Mara Lee, "They came in work uniforms, overalls and three-piece suits . . . more than a thousand strong, to say good-bye to an old friend . . .
"Cars filled with families and friends tied up traffic on Free Pike. They spilled out of the parking lot of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church into surrounding fields of grass.
The News' cartoonist, Mike Peters, drew a tribute to Ali's heroism.
"There was a time when I attended minority journalism conferences and sure enough, each time, Derek would be on a panel, leading discussion," Greg Simms night sports editor at the paper, wrote in his own column.
"And it was Derek who got the calls in the wee hours, when there was a problem that needed special attention. He received those calls because his network was so huge. He knew exactly who to call and what to say. And he would not hesitate, no matter the inconvenience."
On the Web site of the National Association of Black Journalists, NABJ President Herbert Lowe wrote that, "perhaps sadly atypical for a journalist, Ali was active and well known in his adopted city, so much so that a former colleague described him in her online tribute as 'Mr. Dayton.' In doing so, Ali proudly and rightly became what can be said of not enough journalists: a true link between our newsroom and our community. . . .
"Perhaps Ali?s greatest lesson is that more important than any story we might be responsible for as journalists is how much we act, away from the newsroom, as though we are responsible for our community."
Our tally of journalists of color in Iraq has risen from two to three with a tip that Helen Jung of the Oregonian in Portland, started reporting from there at the beginning of the month.
Jung is a business writer at the paper covering the apparel and footwear industries, Scott Nelson, a deputy business editor who is now the acting Iraq editor, told Journal-isms. Nike headquarters is in Beaverton, Ore.
Jung is with the Oregon National Guard, 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, which in turn is based both in Baghdad and north of Baghdad, at Camp Cooke, Nelson said. She is posting a blog of her activities.
Other journalists of color that Journal-isms and its readers have identified are the Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran, whose American parents were born in India, and black journalist Hannah Allam, Knight Ridder?s new Baghdad bureau chief.
Close to 950 people attended the Society of Professional Journalists convention in New York, "dwarfing the approximately 600 at the last two conferences in Tampa and Fort Worth, Tex.," in the words of Editor & Publisher's Joe Strupp.
The meeting saw a number of diversity initiatives, according to Sally Lehrman, diversity chair. "For the first time, we had 11 'fellows' from ethnic media outlets participating in the convention. This is to help lay the groundwork for a new award that will honor collaboration between the ethnic and the general media in covering the new America," she told Journal-isms.
"The most important [initiative] was the leadership grant and a new national award for ethnic media/general media collaborations. The SDX Board approved the leadership development side of the grant, but not the ethnic media side.
The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation approved $20,000 a year for five years to fund the Minority Writers Seminar of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, according to SDX board member Dori J. Maynard. The seminar aims "to give experienced minority journalists an opportunity to explore the nuts-and-bolts of the profession."
"Finally, we had a wonderful reception honoring the fellows and the participants in the Maynard institute's oral history project," Lehrman said, with Earl Caldwell, Joy Elliott and C. Gerald Fraser speaking.
Clarence Page, columnist for the Chicago Tribune, was to speak during the President's Banquet Saturday night, and Paula Madison, president and general manager of KNBC-TV Los Angeles, was to do so during the Mark of Excellence Awards luncheon the same day.
"Notwithstanding the red carpet and the general Oscars vibe, this wasn't about the glitz and glam of Hollywood," Teresa Wiltz wrote Saturday in the Washington Post, describing the Hispanic Heritage Awards at the Kennedy Center.
"It was about honoring Latinos for their achievement across a variety of disciplines: Gloria Rodriguez, president and CEO of Avance, for education; journalist and civil rights activist Juan D. Gonzalez, for leadership; soccer sportscaster Andres Cantor, for sports; novelist and Washington native Sandra Benitez, for literature; fashionista Narciso Rodriguez, for vision; and actor John Leguizamo, for arts."
"The event was excellent," Gonzalez told Journal-isms. "I was deeply honored to be selected, since this award comes from the leaders of most of the nation's top Latino organizations, and especially since it was for Leadership and not directly for my professional work as a journalist," said the New York Daily News columnist and immediate past president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
The show "(produced by Emilio Estefan, husband of Gloria)" was being taped for a later broadcast on NBC and its sister Spanish-language network, Telemundo, Wiltz wrote.
"In an effort to build on its minority and new-immigrant readership, the News is launching a weekly Spanish-language giveaway newspaper, Hora Hispana, this Thursday," reports Matthew Flamm in Crain's New York Business. "The new paper will be delivered to 200,000 homes, giving it the largest reach of any Spanish-language paper in New York.
"The combination punch of new initiatives marks a more aggressive strategy for the News, which has sometimes resembled a sleepy club fighter in its long-running bout with the nimbler Post," Flamm continues.
"'We have never rolled out such an array of products in such a concentrated period of time,' says Les Goodstein, chief operating officer of the Daily News. 'All of them are targeted at specific audiences, but the goal is to grow the sum of the parts.'"
"We've made some progress locally, with minorities comprising 37 percent of our newsroom professionals," Libby Averyt, editor of Texas' Corpus Christi Caller-Times, wrote in her Sunday column, explaining the Scripps paper's participation in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Parity Project.
"Twenty-nine percent of our newsroom staff is Hispanic. That's higher than the national average among newspapers, but we're not satisfied with that accomplishment.
"Newspapers, in general, tend to have higher readership with older, white males. Our readership surveys show us that we now reach almost 50 percent of the Hispanic market daily. Corpus Christi is more than 53 percent Hispanic and those numbers will continue to grow.
"Traditionally, newsrooms have employed mostly Anglo employees and in the past, have done a poor job of really understanding the people who live here."
"A third big newspaper player is plunging into the competition for Chicagoland's Hispanic market," Mark Fitzgerald reports in Editor & Publisher.
"On Sept. 26 the Daily Herald will relaunch its weekly newspaper Reflejos with a new design by famed newspaper makeover artist Mario Garcia, with editorial that will emphasize Spanish over English -- and with a distribution nearly doubled to 100,000.
"'We are launching a huge Latino initiative,' said Douglas K. Ray, president and CEO of family-owned Paddock Publications, owner of the Arlington Hts., Ill.-based daily and the bilingual Reflejos."
"Flame-throwing syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, whose latest book supports the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, was all set to appear at American University tomorrow as the year's kickoff speaker for the College Republicans. But her topic proved too hot for them to handle," Richard Leiby reported Sunday in his "Reliable Source" gossip column in the Washington Post.
"Abruptly canceling her speech last week, Mike Inganamort, president of the campus Republicans, told Malkin in an e-mail: 'Our first priority for the next two months is ensuring President Bush be re-elected. Staff members for the Bush campaign have frowned on us for having an event centered on the internment of Japanese Americans.' He also cited possible protests over 'an issue we frankly cannot defend at our heart of hearts.'
Malkin recently got ink for attacking the concept of the Unity convention yet again and for a confrontation with MSNBC's Chris Matthews.
On a Web site called "The Blogging of the President: 2004," Matt Stoller leads a reader to believe that Malkin is perhaps following the Ann Coulter let's-be-outrageous model, writing, "whether she believes her own stuff at this point is irrelevant, because her career and livelihood is entirely tied up in the right-wing superstructure of financial and media support."
The Gannett Co. is spotlighting a project by three reporters from the Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers who were assigned "to cover the Hmong refugees living at the Buddhist temple Wat Tham Krabok in central Thailand in late June," as reporter Hlee Vang recapped.
"Two weeks isn't much in the span of a lifetime.
"But for the three of us -- Wausau Daily Herald reporter Keith Uhlig, Appleton Post-Crescent photojournalist Sharon Cekada and me, a reporter with the Oshkosh Northwestern -- they were two weeks of our lives that none of us will ever forget.
"About 15,000 refugees are bound for the United States under a U.S. government plan to resettle the people. The Thai government announced in 2003 that it intended to close down the last refugee camp for displaced Hmong from Laos.
"Around 3,500 of the Hmong will become new neighbors of our readers in Wisconsin. Many refugees have already moved to the state since our team's return from Thailand in early July.
"During our two weeks in Thailand, we spent the day living among the refugees.
"We ate what they ate. We guzzled down half a dozen bottles of water a day to endure the heat and ducked our noses inside our sleeves when the wind picked up or a vehicle rolled by sending up a dust storm."
"The last remaining foreign correspondent in Eritrea left the country yesterday after the government ordered his expulsion, he told the Committee to Protect Journalists in an interview today," the committee reported Friday.
"Jonah Fisher, who worked in Eritrea for 18 months as correspondent for the BBC and Reuters, said authorities gave no reason for his expulsion but that he had faced a "pattern of increasing difficulties."
"Fisher told CPJ he was summoned September 2 to the Information Ministry, where an official said his press accreditation was being revoked and that he should prepare to leave. Four days later, after the authorities received faxed protests from the BBC and Reuters, Fisher received a call from the same official who told him he must leave Eritrea within three days.
"Eritrea has no private press since a crackdown three years ago when it banned independent media and jailed a number of journalists. Seventeen local journalists are now imprisoned in Eritrea, and many have been held incommunicado since September 2001. In 2004, for the third year running, CPJ named the tiny Horn of Africa nation one of the world's 10 worst places to be a journalist."
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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