Monday, August 27, 2012

At a 2010 forum, an animated Aaron Jackson, a community member, asks Buffalo News Editor Margaret Sullivan whether the newspaper explored the criminal backgrounds of suburban victims. (Video)

Buffalo’s Sullivan to Be N.Y. Times Public Editor

Margaret Sullivan, the next public editor of the New York Times, wrote a farewell column to readers of the Buffalo News over the weekend. She had been at the paper for 32 years, nearly 13 years as chief editor.

One of the events that stood out during her tenure, Sullivan said, took place two years ago.

Margaret SullivanMargaret Sullivan”The bloodiest crime in Buffalo’s recent history — a downtown shooting spree on Aug. 14, 2010, in which four died and four others were badly injured — was extraordinarily hard to cover,” Sullivan said. “In the first news cycle, police apprehended a suspect and we photographed him; on deadline, just as we were about to publish that the suspect had been named, authorities changed their minds.

“Later, our story about the police records of some of the victims set off protests in Buffalo’s African-American community. Activist Darnell Jackson burned newspapers outside The News’ building. I volunteered to meet with community members at True Bethel Baptist Church, and found an unhappy crowd of 700 awaiting me, ready to air their grievances for decades of perceived unfairness.

“Two years later, The News has taken many steps to reinforce ties to the black community. I appreciated what True Bethel’s pastor, the Rev. Darius Pridgen, said recently: ‘I was surprised and humbled to have the editor of The News not only respond to our concerns, but also show up and take the heat and make changes. … We’re not all the way there yet, but I think we’re much further in fairness of reporting than we have been for a long time.’ ”

The Rev. Darius PridgenThe Rev. Darius Pridgen

Did Sullivan really win Pridgen over? Yes, Pridgen told Journal-isms by telephone on Monday. Before that meeting, “I would read the Bible before I would read a Buffalo News, just to keep my sanity and salvation,” Pridgen said. It was Pridgen, who is also a member of the City Council, who organized the community meeting at his church.

“. . . She was both ‘shaken and changed,’ as she said, when she left the church.” Now there are “more positive articles about people of color, on purpose. If the News felt like they were stepping on hot stones, they would reach out: ‘Are we phrasing this right?’ I appreciated that.

“I hope the future editor does move forward” and not revert to old ways, Pridgen said.

The News’ turnabout affects more than one news organization, Pridgen added. “Other outlets felt comfortable in doing the same type of practices — hyped-up negative reporting of incidents when it happens in a black or Latino neighborhood. . . . Other media outlets take their cue from what the major newspaper in the town does. The other media outlets have had to take note.

“We still have a problem with radio in our area,” Pridgen continued. “The most popular stations are about African Americans in a negative tone. I don’t allow my grandkids to listen to it — it is so negative,” he said of the talk-radio stations.

Asked whether other communities could learn from his experience with the News, Pridgen said yes. “People should not complain without having an organized, direct effort to change things. This is about money,” and it is important to address the advertisers.

With a public demonstration, “you have the other outlets who will give you [the offending news organization] a black eye” just by reporting on the protest, Pridgen said. ” . . . Many in our community have no idea they have the right to complain.”

In her column, Sullivan also wrote about Buffalo’s first black mayor, Byron W. Brown, the incumbent, whose “police department stopped providing timely and complete information about arrests,” and about a 2006 series, “The High Cost of Being Poor,” by Rod Watson and Jonathan Epstein, that “revealed systemic unfairness.”

Harry Walker, photo director at McClatchy/Tribune, and Bryan Monroe, editor at CHarry Walker, photo director at McClatchy-Tribune, and Bryan Monroe, editor of, at the Republic National Convention in Tampa on Sunday.

Journalist Can See Why GOP Isn’t Very Diverse

. . . As a journalist, I’ve noticed how the modern-day vision of the party of Lincoln has failed to attract voters in an America that is increasingly nonwhite,” Mary C. Curtis, who is covering the Republican National Convention, wrote Sunday for

“. . . Go to a conservative event and there will always be at least one black person on the stage, visible in every photo op of the candidate or speaker, as there was at a recent Romney-Ryan event in Mooresville, N.C.,” Curtis added, referring to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., his vice presidential choice.

Mary C. CurtisMary C. Curtis

“What usually happens to me happened there, when a reporter, looking for a black Romney fan, started asking me questions. It’s always the same, whether it’s at the national Tea Party conference in Nashville or an NRA annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C. — a hopeful look of discovery followed by disappointment when I reveal I’m just a reporter, too.

“In Mooresville, I asked some in the crowd, as I often do, if they saw a problem that a presidential ticket asking to lead a diverse country draws disproportionately white crowds. Ralph Brittain, 67, of Huntersville, N.C., professed an interest in unity, and though he said he was not sure [President] Obama was a citizen, he said he was a big fan of Florida Rep. Allen West, an African American who has described himself as a ‘modern-day Harriet Tubman‘ trying to lead black voters off the Democratic party ‘plantation.’ He described West as ‘good on his feet’ and said, ‘I’d love to see him get a good cabinet position’ in a Romney administration.

Mary Mabry, 82, pointed out one other black person and told me how much she loved the black woman who raised her — evidence, she said, that neither she nor Republicans have harsh feelings toward minorities. Meanwhile, on the road leading up to the gathering, small, diverse clusters of pro-Obama protesters holding signs were mostly ignored, though Romney supporters yelling, ‘Get a job!’ added a layer of ugliness, considering the racial makeup of both groups. . . .”

Romney Could Reach Historic Low With Black Voters

Gov. Mitt Romney is currently positioned to garner an historic low rate of support among African-American voters,” according to a BET survey of 800 black voters in swing states released on Monday. “Only two percent of African-American voters in our poll currently support the Romney/Ryan ticket. The data indicate the traits that are pushing African-Americans away from the GOP, including the perception that too many Republican leaders seem ‘hostile to minorities.’

Cornell BelcherCornell Belcher”Even where significant percentages of black voters are philosophically in line with traditional Republican Party positions on issues such as same-sex marriage (40% favor/38% oppose), a decline in moral values as biggest obstacle to black advancement (46%), and abortion (51% pro-choice/44% pro-life), these views overwhelmingly do not translate into GOP votes,” the study, conducted by Cornell Belcher, who worked with the Barack Obama campaign in 2008, reported.

“Hope is still alive. President Obama’s base is frustrated but still optimistic and determined.” Belcher said in a news release. “The President still has a lot of work to do to achieve his historic 2008 performance, but Republicans are increasingly poorly positioned to compete for Black voters.”

In other findings:

  • “ENTHUSIASM VS. APATHY: Despite conventional wisdom, black voters are on track to vote in numbers equivalent to 2008. Only 4% say they are less interested in voting in the upcoming election than they were in 2008. 85% say they are following the election closely.
  • “HOPE AMIDST DESPAIR: African-American voters are surprisingly optimistic, despite an unemployment rate double that of whites, 69% are optimistic about the economy rebounding in the next 12 months. 77% say the US economy is stabilizing or improving.
  • ” ‘IT’S THE COST OF LIVING, STUPID:’ The top concern about the economy for black voters is not jobs (21%), but rather salary and wages not keeping pace with the cost of living (38%) and affordable health care (24%).
  • “A PRESIDENT FOR ALL AMERICANS: Though a number of prominent African-Americans have called on the President to more explicitly target programs to address black unemployment, the overwhelming majority of black voters accept that he must focus on repairing the national economy and in that way help black Americans (76% vs 14%).”

BET to Broadcast From GOP, Democratic Meetings

BET NEWS will offer three live-anchored programs from the Republican National Convention (#BETRNC) in Tampa and Democratic National Convention (#BETDNC) in Charlotte, delving into key issues of the presidential election,” the network announced on Monday.

“Each two-hour program will present the election story from the African-American perspective and underscore the high stakes of this historic race. Celebrated journalist Ed Gordon will anchor, with on-air contributor Nia-Malika Henderson (of theWashington Post in Tampa), BET News correspondent Lola Ogunnaike, BET consultant and pollster Cornell Belcher and T.J. HolmesT.J. Holmesspecial contributor T.J. Holmes (host of Don’t Sleep!). BET News will frame interviews for the black voter with pre-produced features, integrated with the live coverage of the keynote. Interviews at the RNC will include Jimmie Walker (star of ‘Good Times’) Rep. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll (R-Florida), U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), former Presidential candidate Herman Cain (R) and many more.

“The exclusive interviews with the First Lady and the President will air during LIVE coverage on September 4th and September 6th, respectively. LIVE interviews with political & entertainment personalities, will air along with integrated BET Vote 2012 elements. Interviews from the DNC include California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Charlotte’s Mayor Anthony Foxx, Broderick Johnson (Senior Advisor to the Obama campaign), Alfre Woodard (actor) and more.”

” . . . BET News’ special contributor, and host of Don’t Sleep!, T. J. HolmesDanielle BeltonDanielle Belton will kick-off a 16 city promotional campaign for the series with a branded tour bus making stops at the RNC in Tampa on August 29 and DNC in Charlotte on September 5. At select locations, brand ambassadors and voter registrants will be on hand to encourage voter registration and answer any questions about the voting process. The bus will travel to 14 additional markets making stops including Nashville, Indianapolis, New York and Washington D.C.”

Danielle Belton, creator of the Black Snob blog, announced on the blog Monday that she is moving from Washington to New York to work on the Holmes show. “For those of you playing at home, I worked on the pilot last winter and many, many moons ago used to pretend to stalk T.J. for poops n’ grins on the Internet, Belton said. “Life is incredibly funny in how a guy I started writing about during this blog’s beginnings in 2008 is the same guy I wound up working for in my first scripted TV writing gig.”

65% of Latinos Support Obama in ImpreMedia Poll

The first of 11 national tracking polls of Latino voters finds that 65% of Latino voters saying they would vote for President Obama while only 26% support Mitt Romney, impreMedia, publisher of such Spanish-language news outlets as La Opinión in Los Angeles and El Diario in New York, announced on Monday.

ImpreMedia is conducting the poll with Latino Decisions, a political opinion research firm.

Matt Barreto Matt Barreto “. . . Romney struggles with low favorability with only 27% of Latinos saying they have a positive view of him versus 74% for Obama,” impreMedia said.

“The polls further [suggest] that the Republican Party itself faces an uphill battle in wooing over Latinos with only 14% of all registered voters saying the Party is doing a good job in reaching Hispanics compared to 59% who believe the Democratic Party is doing a good job.

“Latinos continue to believe Jobs and the Economy (53%) and Immigration/Dream Act (51%) are the most important issues in this election. But when asked about the central topic of taxes, 66% of all respondents believe the Republican candidate should disclose his tax returns for additional years and 77% of Latino Democrats stating that he should.

“According to Latino Decisions founder Matt Barreto the results indicate that Romney faces a considerable challenge in winning over Latino voters. ‘In particular there are three huge challenges facing Romney: First, a large majority of Latinos continue to think Republican policies are to blame for the current state of the economy; Second, a majority of Latinos support the Obama health care bill which Romney would repeal; and Third, Romney’s previous comments on immigration have created a huge barrier in his ability to connect with Latinos’, stated Barreto.”

Little Change Likely for Ethiopia’s Journalists

Ethiopia’s new rulers waited just one day after the death of dictator Meles Zenawi was announced to confirm that little change is likely for the country’s beleaguered independent journalists,” Mohammed Ademo wrote Saturday for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“They sent that message by arresting Temesgen Desalegn, editor of the now-defunct Feteh newspaper, one of the last critical media voices in the country. Earlier, when Zenawi was alive but apparently ailing in secrecy in Belgium, the government gagged Desalegn’s newspaper for daring to report on the prime minister’s two-month absence from the limelight. Desalegn’s arrest Thursday was not reported by the state-run media, devoted to broadcasting a week-long campaign to lionize the fallen leader.

“That left it to exiled media to report the news through social networks. . . . ”

Short Takes

  • On newsstands across Spain, Michelle Obama can be seen gracing the August 2012 cover of Magazine Fuera de Serie, a lifestyle supplement to the newspaper Expansión,” Althea Legal-Miller wrote Monday for Clutch magazine. “She is seated on a chair draped in the American flag, partially nude in slave attire, complete with one of Aunt Jemima’s chicer headscarves. . . . The magazine cover for the feature article ‘Michelle Tataranieta De Esclava, Dueña De América’ (Michelle Granddaughter of a Slave, Lady of America) is the brainchild of white French/English fine artist Karine Percheron-Daniels. . . . Percheron-Daniels’ portrait, First Lady, was not commissioned for the Spanish magazine cover, but is part of a larger series of ‘famous nudes’ that includes Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II, Abraham Lincoln, and President Barack Obama.”
  • The Associated Press Sports Editors is accepting applications for Fellows for its 2012-13 Diversity Fellowship Program. The program “is an in-depth, nine-month course of study for working, mid-career professionals who are interested in pursuing a path as a manager (typically a sports editor or assistant sports editor) in sports journalism. This training program, which prepares Fellows to be candidates for such positions, is underwritten by APSE and its partners, and there is no cost to the Fellows.” The application deadline is Sept. 19.
  • John-Carlos Estrada, who plans to attend Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in the fall, is the third annual recipient of the Kay Longcope Scholarship Award, worth $3,000 and bestowed by the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. The award provides tuition assistance to a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender student of color who plans a career in journalism. Estrada graduated from George Washington University in 2009 with a degree in International Affairs focused on Latin America.
  • Yvonne Latty, who teaches journalism at New York University, has been named a National Association of Hispanic Journalists representative on the Unity Journalists board, NAHJ President Hugo Balta announced on Sunday. Latty who is Dominican and African American, succeeds Cecilia Alvear, who is stepping down.
  • The St. Louis American, part of the black press, won one of the Missouri Bar’s Excellence in Legal Journalism Awards for 2012 for its coverage of an unfolding scandal within the North St. Louis County municipality of Dellwood involving the city’s police department. Editor Chris King told Journal-isms by email: “Like journalists, lawyers earn a living with facts and narratives, and while it may not be in the best interests of any lawyer on any case to admit the truth, most lawyers have a strong sense of what is true in the world around us. I appreciate a journalism award from a bar association exactly as much as I appreciate an award from a press association. I consider this a meaningful, expert and objective judgment on our journalism.”
  • Jawan Strader has been named Weekend Evening anchor and reporter at NBC6 South Florida,” Chris Ariens reported Monday for TVSpy. “Strader joins the station from crosstown rival, CBS-owned WFOR where he spent the last 10 years, most recently anchoring mornings.”
  • Lawyer Rachel Wolkenstein filed a challenge Thursday to the Aug. 13 imposition of a sentence of life without parole for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the onetime president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists who has been imprisoned for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
  • The FishbowlDC “Summer Superlatives” contest included a “Most Likely to Wind Up in Jail” category. Peter Ogburn reported Thursday that “The choices were Politico’s Joe Williams, PR Exec. David Bass, BuzzFeed’s John Stanton, The Daily Caller’s David Martosko, The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro, Reason’s Mike Riggs and freelancer Moe Tkacik. The overwhelming winner was Joe Williams,” who left the publication in June over statements and tweets he made about Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate.
  • “New Delhi police officials have released hundreds of pages of documents from their investigation into the Feb. 13 bombing of an Israeli Embassy car,” Gareth Porter reported for Inter-Press Service. “The documents aimed to show that a well-known Indian Muslim journalist,” Syed [Mohammed] Ahmad Kazmi, “aided an Iranian conspiracy to plan and carry out the bombing. But a review by IPS of the evidence filed in the case suggests that the Indian journalist accused in the case has been framed by the police, at least in part to implicate the Iranians in the terror plot.”
  • The president of Ecuador has dismissed the allegations against Julian Assange by claiming that a man who shares a bed with a woman cannot be accused of rape,” Nazia Parveen reported Sunday for Britain’s Mail newspaper. “Rafael Correa said the accusations would not be considered crimes in ’90 to 95 per cent of the planet’ and questioned the behaviour and motives of the alleged victims. The WikiLeaks founder was granted asylum by Ecuador 11 days ago after fleeing to its embassy in West London.”