Lynette Clemetson

Lynette Clemetson

Lynette Clemetson’s Background: NPR, N.Y. Times, Newsweek, The Root

Lynette Clemetson’s Background: NPR, N.Y. Times, Newsweek, The Root

Lynette Clemetson, a veteran journalist and a news executive at NPR, has been named director of the Knight-Wallace Fellowships and Livingston Awards at the University of Michigan, the school announced Tuesday.

The appointment apparently makes Clemetson the first person of color to lead one of the big three journalism fellowship programs, which provide the means for journalists to take a break from the daily grind and explore a project of their choosing.

U.S. Knight-Wallace fellows receive $70,000, distributed as $8,750 monthly, from September through April. All tuition and course fees at the University of Michigan are paid for by the fellowship.

“The Knight Wallace Fellowship and the Livingston awards mean the world to me,” Clemetson told Journal-isms by email. “The Fellowship strengthened my enthusiasm for journalism and kept me in the game in a way that enabled my work at NPR. It was the perfect balm at the right time in my career.

“Some news organizations have stopped supporting these journalism fellowships. And in this changing media landscape, many journalists are concerned that if they take time out to apply for or accept a fellowship they may lose their jobs.

“I think this is especially true for journalists of color, who have been especially hard hit in past years of media downsizing. The Wallace House programs, with their international outlook and regional character, support diversity of all sorts. As director, I want to work to make media organizations see the value in supporting these programs. And I will be working hard to encourage journalists from a range of backgrounds to apply.

“That means diversity in terms of race and ethnicity and culture and also diversity in terms of journalistic discipline and approach. Journalists who write. Journalists who code. Journalists who tell stories with audio. Journalists who tell stories with data. Journalists who are experts at broadcast video. Journalists who are experimenting with short-form and social video. These programs are vital to the future of journalism. And I am beyond thrilled to have this chance to help shape that future.”

The Michigan announcement said, “Clemetson, senior director of strategy and content initiatives at NPR, begins her new position on July 1. She will succeed Charles R. Eisendrath, who will retire after three decades. He founded the Livingston Awards and led a $60 million endowment drive to permanently establish the fellowships. Last year, the programs were rebranded as Wallace House. . . .”

The Knight-Wallace Fellowship program, founded in 1973, “has enabled a total 677 mid-career journalists from 35 countries to step away from their deadline pressures and spend an academic year at U-M, enjoying the freedom to take any courses that interest them,” the announcement noted.

The Livingston Awards, “the largest all-media, general reporting prize in the U.S., are often called the ‘Pulitzer for the young.’ The program offers $10,000 prizes to journalists under the age of 35 for local, national and international reporting,” it added.

The Michigan fellowship program has lagged behind the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships program at Stanford, and sometimes the Nieman Fellowship program at Harvard, in adding to the diversity of its fellows.

Last May, the Knight program at Stanford announced that five journalists of color would be among its 12 U.S. fellows. Nieman chose two African Americans, a Mexican American and an Asian American among its 13 U.S. fellows, and Michigan had four journalists of color among its 12 slots for Americans.

Under James R. Bettinger, who is retiring, the Stanford program has been particularly vigorous in seeking diversity. The 2013 program year included seven people of color among 13 U.S. fellows, and three were African Americans. Seven of the 12 chosen for 2014-15 at Stanford were people of color. The program also included nontraditional communicators, such as bloggers.

Clemetson was chosen from among more than 50 applicants, with the choices narrowed down by a search committee and presented to university president Mark Schlissel said Martha Pollack, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, who made the final decision.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Clemetson “guides vision, strategy and execution for innovative projects that extend NPR’s reach to new audiences across broadcast, digital and events. She was previously senior supervising editor of NPR’s Morning Edition. She joined NPR in 2012 as Director of StateImpact, a reporting project between NPR and Member Stations examining the effect of state policy on American lives.

“Clemetson is a former Director of Content Strategy at Pew Center on the States and a former Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, She was founding managing editor of, a black-focused website dedicated to provocative commentary and analysis of politics and social issues. [She left The Root to accept a Michigan fellowship for 2009-10.]

“Before moving into digital management and strategy, Clemetson spent several years as a reporter. She was a domestic correspondent for The New York Times, where she “covered political, social and cultural issues. Clemetson also worked as a national and international correspondent for Newsweek magazine. As a national correspondent she covered politics and social issues with a focus on demographics and ethnic identity. As a Newsweek correspondent in Hong Kong, she was a joint recipient of the Overseas Press Club Award for Newsweek’s award-winning coverage of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997. While based in Hong Kong, she covered political, social and cultural news throughout Southeast Asia.”

Clemetson said in the news release, “It is an honor to build on Charles Eisendrath’s strong legacy, the program’s international focus and its connection to the University of Michigan. I look forward to expanding Wallace House’s role in supporting media innovation and experimentation and being a prominent force for good in sustaining journalists of all sorts in their mission, passion and craft.”

Widows, Orphans Caught in Global Scandal

April 4, 2016
World Leaders Implicated by Massive Leak of Info

Police Withhold Names of Officers in Fatal Shootings

After Walter Scott Fallout, Police Stops Drop by Half

Scott Family Disappointed by Lack of Reform

More Inclined to Speak Up After Freddie Gray Death

Police Deny Allegations in Roadside Cavity Search

Japanese-American Paper Sends Out S.O.S.

Coleman Joining Cronkite School as Visiting Prof

Library of Congress to No Longer Use ‘Illegal Alien’

Trump Firm Sought Permits for Illegal Immigrants

Short Takes

Rock drilling in a deep- level South African gold mine. Suddenly, the checks to the widows and orphans of mine workers stopped. (Credit:

Rock drilling in a deep-level South African gold mine. Suddenly, the checks to the widows and orphans of mineworkers stopped. (Credit:

World Leaders Implicated by Massive Leak of Info

Nick Kgopa’s father died when Nick was 14. His father’s workmates at a gold mine in northern South Africa said Nick’s dad had been killed by chemical exposure,” the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reported Sunday.

“Nick and his mother and his younger brother, who is deaf, survived thanks to monthly checks from a fund for widows and orphans of mineworkers.

“One day the payments stopped.

“His family was one of many that lost out because of a $60 million investment fraud pulled off by South African businessmen. Prosecutors alleged that a group of individuals connected to an asset management company, Fidentia, had schemed to loot millions from investment funds — including the mineworkers’ death benefits pool that was supporting some 46,000 widows and orphans.”

Leaked documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm, “show that at least two of the men involved in the fraud used the Panama-based law firm to create offshore companies — and that Mossack Fonseca was willing to help one of the fraudsters protect his money even after authorities publicly linked him to the scandal. . . .”

The anecdote was part of a bombshell report Sunday from ICIJ, a global consortium of journalists.

“A new investigation published today by ICIJ, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organizations around the globe, reveals the offshore links of some of the planet’s most prominent people,” ICIJ reported on Sunday.

“In terms of size, the Panama Papers is likely the biggest leak of inside information in history — more than 11.5 million documents — and it is equally likely to be one of the most explosive in the nature of its revelations.

“The leak exposes the offshore holdings of 12 current and former world leaders and reveals how associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly shuffled as much as $2 billion through banks and shadow companies.

“The files contain new details about major scandals ranging from England’s most infamous gold heist, an unfolding political money laundering affair in Brazil and bribery allegations convulsing FIFA, the body that rules international soccer.

“They also provide details of the hidden financial dealings of 128 other politicians and public officials around the world and show how a global industry of law firms and big banks sells financial secrecy to fraudsters and drug traffickers as well as billionaires, celebrities and sports stars.

“The Panama Papers expose offshore companies controlled by the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the king of Saudi Arabia and the children of the president of Azerbaijan. They also include the names of at least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they’ve done business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations, including North Korea and Iran.

“The leaked data covers nearly 40 years, from the late 1970s through the end of 2015. It allows a never-before-seen view inside the offshore world — providing a day-to-day, decade-by-decade look at how dark money flows through the global financial system, breeding crime and stripping national treasuries of tax revenues.

“The leaked records — which were reviewed by a team of more than 370 journalists from nearly 80 countries — come from a little-known but powerful law firm based in Panama, Mossack Fonseca, that has branches in London, Beijing, Miami, Zurich and more than 35 other places around the globe.

“The firm is one of the world’s top creators of shell companies, corporate structures that can be used to hide ownership of assets. The law firm’s leaked internal files contain information on 214,000 offshore companies connected to people in 200 countries and territories.

“The data include emails, financial spreadsheets, passports and corporate records revealing the secret owners of bank accounts and companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions, from Nevada to Hong Kong to the British Virgin Islands. . . .”

Police Withhold Names of Officers in Fatal Shootings

Nationwide, 210 people were fatally shot last year by police officers who have not been publicly identified by their departments,” John Sullivan, Derek Hawkins, Kate McCormick, Ashley Balcerzak and Wesley Lowery reported for Sunday’s print edition of the Washington Post.

“In 2015, police in the United States shot and killed 990 people, according to a Washington Post database of fatal police shootings. The vast majority of those killed by police were armed with guns or had attacked or threatened officers or civilians.

“The Post is continuing to track fatal shootings in 2016, recording more than 250 through March. The Post is also filing open-records requests seeking additional information about each shooting, including information about the officers involved, data that is not tracked by any federal agency.

“For 2015, reporters obtained the names of officers responsible for 780 of the 990 shootings. In about 600 shootings, officers’ names were disclosed by police departments in news reports. In a handful of cases, names came to light through lawsuits or leaks to the news media. Where the names remained unknown, The Post contacted the departments and requested the officers’ identities.

“In 145 fatal shootings, the departments declined to release the names to The Post, citing pending investigations, state or federal records laws, agreements with police unions or department policies. In another 65 fatal shootings, the departments did not respond to multiple requests for information.

“Since a grand jury in Missouri declined to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, the public has demanded more accountability and transparency from police. Knowing an officer’s name, for example, may reveal whether that officer has been involved in prior shootings or has been sued over the use of force.

“Last year, after reviewing fatal shootings by Philadelphia police, the Justice Department urged departments to release information on critical incidents, including shootings, within 72 hours. . . .”

Walter Scott's parents, Judy and Walter Sr,. said last year that if it had not been for cellphone footage of their son's shooting, if it had not been for the cellphone footage, his death would have been swept under the rug, 'like so many others'.

Walter Scott’s parents, Judy and Walter Sr., said last year that if it had not been for cellphone footage of their son’s shooting, his death would have been swept under the rug “like so many others.”

After Walter Scott Fallout, Police Stops Drop by Half

The year before Walter Scott saw blue lights behind him, police in North Charleston stopped nearly 200 people a day for traffic violations,” Andrew Knapp reported Saturday for the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.

“A year later, about 100 motorists are pulled over on an average day.

“Call it ‘the Walter Scott effect.’

“Since Scott was stopped on April 4, 2015, millions have seen the video. It shows a white policeman shooting as the 50-year-old black man ran away. It led to the officer’s arrest on a murder charge.

“As the months passed, the police made fewer stops. All told, more than 26,000 people were pulled over in the nine months after the shooting, compared with 54,000 in the same period the year before — a [51.8] percent drop.

“A Post and Courier analysis revealed this significant shift recently at a police agency beleaguered by allegations of excessive force, traffic stop quotas that buoy statistics and tactics that burden minority communities. It’s likely, North Charleston officials said, that the impact of Scott’s death on patrol officers played a role.

“But their explanation of the drop — shown in two years of data obtained through S.C. Freedom of Information Act requests — has confounded critics who have long sought lasting changes to a practice they thought unfairly targeted impoverished black residents. And if crime continues creeping back up, some activists expect the relentless stops to come back. . . .”

Scott Family Disappointed by Lack of Reform

Walter Scott’s family called for peace after the world watched grainy cellphone footage of a white North Charleston police officer firing eight shots at the 50-year-old black man’s back,” Melissa Boughton reported Saturday for the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.

“They embraced city officials and commended them for quickly condemning officer Michael Slager’s actions as he was charged with murder.

“They asked for patience from a community working to improve the Police Department.

“But a year later, their patience has worn thin.

“The conversation about police reform has not translated into the changes Scott’s family hoped to see, despite a department that says it’s concentrating on strengthening ties and trust with the community.

“And some now seem intent on casting the blame for Scott’s death on his personal failings rather than Slager’s actions on April 4, 2015, they said.

“ ‘It’s becoming trying now,’ said Anthony Scott, Walter Scott’s brother. ‘But we believe that we will have justice at the end of the day and that’s what we want. We won’t stop until that’s what we get.’

“He sat beside his mother and father on a brown leather sofa in the dimly lit sitting room of their West Ashley home, a cozy space filled with family photographs and knickknacks.

“The three spoke to The Post and Courier in measured tones, their voices rarely rising until the subject turned to court proceedings and an emerging defense strategy they believe is focused on ‘assassinating’ Walter Scott’s character in painting Slager as the victim. . . .”

(Activist DeRay Mckesson tells Journalists Roundtable, " If the conditions don't change, I don't think people will stay involved." (Credit: Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks)

Activist DeRay Mckesson tells the Journalists Roundtable, “If the conditions don’t change, I don’t think people will stay involved.” (Credit: Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks)

More Inclined to Speak Up After Freddie Gray Death

DeRay Mckesson and the movement with which he is identified, Black Lives Matter, rose to prominence in protests after the fatal 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, in Ferguson, Mo., and the death in Baltimore a year ago this month of Freddie Gray, another unarmed black man who was stopped, arrested and fatally injured while in police custody.

Mckesson, now one of 13 Democrats running for mayor of Baltimore, told a Sunday brunch gathering of the Journalists Roundtable in Washington that since the uproar surrounding Gray’s death, “more people think they have a right to be in the conversation.” And if the Justice Department takes the legal steps against Baltimore that it did with Ferguson, “that could be a game changer.”

Mckesson is undertaking a balancing act: remaining an activist while seeking elective office, and simultaneously being a national and a local figure. Mckesson said that Valerie Jarrett, special assistant to President Obama, and Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., asked him to talk up voter registration. But Mckesson said of his constituents’ grievances, “Voting is not going to stop any of this. What will sustain the excitement is seeing results. If the conditions don’t change, I don’t think people will stay involved.”

So much has been written about Mckesson, 30, that a Google search for his name produces about 477,000 results.

Mckesson told the roundtable that he’s seen so many mistakes in reporting about him that his estimation of journalists’ credibility has been lowered several notches. The culprits, according to Mckesson, range from the New Yorker to the Seattle Weekly, which he said has published six retractions.

However, the New Yorker and the Seattle Weekly are not ready to cede to Mckesson his version of events.

The New Yorker’s mistake, according to Mckesson, came in a lengthy piece March 14 by Jelani Cobb, “The Matter of Black Lives,” which said Mckesson, who participated in the Teach for America program, was an employee there. Mckesson said he complained to New Yorker Editor David Remnick and now has a list of journalists with whom he won’t talk. “Some people from the New Yorker are on that list,” he said.

Cobb told Journal-isms by email on Monday, however, that he has “No comment other than the fact that fact check combed through that piece with him exhaustively before it went to print and he didn’t raise the objection then.”

At the Seattle Weekly, Editor-in-Chief Michael Baumgartner said Monday by email, “In the three years I have been EIC, we have never published a retraction to any articles about McKesson. We did publish one correction, which is the link that you reference.

“I do not believe we have written about McKesson beyond that single story and a search of our archive appears to confirm that.” Baumgartner added, “It was a regrettable reporting error to be sure, and one that the editors should have caught. I just mentioned it to my news editor and judging by his body language, I think I might have just ruined his day. We don’t take these things lightly.”

Police Deny Allegations in Roadside Cavity Search

The police department in Aiken, S.C., is denying allegations in a lawsuit charging that “Multiple white police officers performed an illegal and humiliating cavity search on a black man on the side of the road in South Carolina during an unwarranted traffic stop,” in the words Friday of the Daily News in New York.

That day, the Washington Post posted an edited dashcam video of the traffic stop, which occurred place on Oct. 2, 2014.

Maayan Schechter reported Friday for the Aiken Standard, “In a statement released to the Aiken Standard on Friday, Capt. David Turno with Public Safety said in an email on behalf of the department: ‘The City of Aiken denies the Plaintiffs’ allegations and is vigorously defending this lawsuit. We will have no further comment about the facts of this case during the pendency of this litigation.’

“In an answer to the plaintiffs’ allegations, the defendants admit only that they were working within the course and scope of their employment at all relevant times during any interactions with the plaintiffs.

“Both parties have asked for a jury trial. . . .”

The staff of The Rafu Shimpo working on the holiday edition, circa 1920. Raising his hat is publisher H.T. Komai.

The staff of the Rafu Shimpo working on a holiday edition, circa 1920. Raising his hat is publisher H.T. Komai.

Japanese-American Paper Sends out S.O.S.

To you, our loyal readers, we cannot thank you enough for your support throughout the years,” Michael Komai, publisher of the Rafu Shimpo, based in Los Angeles, wrote to readers on March 25.

“For more than a century, The Rafu Shimpo has reported on news and events that have shaped the Japanese American community.

“Today we are at a crisis point. For the last three years, The Rafu has been losing money at an alarming rate: $750,000 over three years, with a projected deficit of $350,000 this year. The losses have been covered by the Komai family trust, but that remedy is unsustainable in the long run.

“If the situation does not improve this year, The Rafu will be forced to close in December of this year.

“This would mean the end of a tradition that started in 1903, and would mark the extinction of Japanese American daily vernaculars in the United States.

“The staff and management of The Rafu are passionate about their work. We feel that the Japanese American community is stronger with an independent news publication.

Every story is written with the belief that we make the community stronger by keeping it connected and informed.

“Starting today, we are kicking off an eNewspaper subscription drive with the goal of signing up 10,000 subscribers, roughly equivalent to raising $500,000 in new revenue. We recognize that to reach younger readers, The Rafu must move more aggressively towards digital online media. . . .”

Yoko Otsuki, Komai’s executive assistant, told Journal-isms by telephone that there had been progress “little by little” since the March 25 appeal.

Coleman Joining Cronkite School as Visiting Prof

Milton Coleman

Milton Coleman

Milton Coleman, a former senior editor at The Washington Post, is joining the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as the Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics at Arizona State University,” the school announced Monday.

“Coleman, who currently serves as ombudsman for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, will teach journalism ethics and diversity this fall at the Cronkite School.

“The veteran journalist retired from the Post in 2012 as senior editor, overseeing policies on corrections, standards and ethics.

“ ‘For four decades, Milton Coleman has been a leading figure in championing ethics and diversity in journalism,’ said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. ‘We are thrilled to welcome him to our school and look forward to the important lessons he will impart to our outstanding students.’ . . .”

Library of Congress to No Longer Use ‘Illegal Alien’

The Library of Congress, saying a once common phrase had become offensive, announced it will no longer use ‘illegal aliens’ as a bibliographical term,” Steve Padilla and Selene Rivera reported Sunday for the Los Angeles Times.

“The library will now use ‘noncitizens’ and ‘unauthorized immigration’ when referring to individuals and the larger phenomenon of people residing in the country illegally. The library called the words more precise as well as less offensive.

“The change was prompted by a group of students from Dartmouth College, who urged the Library of Congress to scrap the term. The group — known as CoFIRED, for the Dartmouth Coalition for Immigration Reform, Equality and Dreamers — was assisted by the American Library Assn. . . .”

Trump Firm Sought Permits for Illegal Immigrants

Donald Trump’s luxury golf development in New York’s upscale Westchester County tried to obtain permanent work certifications for a trio of South American immigrants who came into the country illegally, records show,” Will Evans reported Wednesday for Reveal, a publication of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

“At the time, Trump Briarcliff Manor Development LLC already was employing the Ecuadorean workers as stonemasons. Despite the Trump campaign’s hard-line stance against immigrants in the U.S. illegally, his development company acknowledged in its government applications for the certifications that the three had an immigration status of ‘EWI,’ or ‘entry without inspection.’

“ ‘It means that you snuck across,’ said Kevin Miner, co-chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Labor Department liaison committee. ‘You hid in the trunk of a car or climbed a fence or swam a river.’

“The company claimed in its applications that no qualified U.S. citizens wanted the positions in 2010, though unemployment in the construction industry was at historic highs. . . .”

Short Takes



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