Returning April 18, barring breaking news

Little Hope for House of Ethel Payne’s Childhood

Globe Creates Buzz With Fake Trump Front Page

‘Unqualified’ Wasn’t in Headline About Sanders

ASNE: Estimating Journalists Now Impractical

Al Jazeera America to Sign Off With 3-Hour Finale

How Tobacco Firms Infiltrated Black Communities

‘Urban Griots’ Speak Up on Profiling

‘WikiLeaks-ization of Mainstream Journalism’

Freelancer Documents ‘Forgotten Drama’ in Darfur

Corrice Collins Dies, Hired After Integration Fight

Short Takes

Ethel Payne with her brother Lemuel in front of the family’s South Side home in Chicago, circa 1915. (Courtesy HarperCollins)

Ethel Payne with her brother Lemuel in front of the family’s South Side home in Chicago, circa 1915. (Courtesy HarperCollins)

Little Hope for House of Ethel Payne’s Childhood

The roof is coming apart,” Erick Johnson wrote Monday for the Chicago Crusader. “The creaky wooden porch is aging with growing cracks. And the navy blue paint that once adorned the steps is peeling away. Nearly 100 years ago, this white, two-story house in Chicago’s West Englewood neighborhood on the city’s south side became the home of Ethel L. Payne.

“As a Black journalist, Payne broke racial barriers as a White House correspondent at a time when few Black newspapers had a bureau in the nation’s capital. During her illustrious career with the Chicago Defender, Payne grilled five U.S. presidents and met Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. By the time she died in 1991 at 79, Payne had traveled the world, won numerous awards and earned the title, ‘The First Lady of the Black Press.’

“Not many people know that Payne was raised in Chicago’s West Englewood neighborhood, located on the city’s south side, an [area] where many famous Blacks who made their mark in American history grew up. The house Payne lived in is a forgotten relic of her past. For 123 years, it has stood in the 6200 block of Throop Street.

The U.S. Postal Service issued an Ethel Payne stamp in 2002 in a series on four female journalists.

The U.S. Postal Service issued an Ethel Payne stamp in 2002 in a series on four female journalists.

“Time and neglect have beset Payne’s childhood home as crime and shootings continue to force residents to leave the neighborhood. It’s where Blacks who were fortunate enough to afford a home in the area worked hard to live the American dream after fleeing racism in the South. But what was once a symbol of pride, Payne’s childhood home is now a piece of history that’s crumbling. It’s decaying frame represents the struggle to preserve the legacy of America’s Black trailblazers. . . .”

Johnson also wrote, “Over the years, Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events [has] placed crimson-colored markers in front of homes where prominent Blacks have stayed. There’s one on Vincennes Avenue where Nat King Cole once lived. There are also ones marking the homes of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, Aviator Bessie Coleman, Journalist Ida B. Wells and Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black mayor. But there is no marker in front of Payne’s childhood home.

“Tourists or history buffs are unlikely to visit the area. Among Chicago’s neighborhoods, Englewood continues to have one of the highest rates of violent crimes. On March 31, a man was shot and stabbed in the area. On the same day, two men were shot in Englewood. On March 30, a [20-year-old] man was shot in the stomach.

“Chicago’s famous Bronzeville [neighborhood] traditionally has drawn the most attention from Chicago’s most prominent Black historians. Because of scarce resources to preserve relics located outside the ‘Black Belt,’ there is little hope to preserve Payne’s childhood home in Englewood as an important relic to her legacy. It’s a concern that historians agree needs to be addressed. . . .”

Last year, James McGrath Morris, a biographer of the iconic newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, wrote “Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press” (Amistad/Harper).

“The granddaughter of slaves and the daughter of a Pullman porter, the South Side Chicago native at midlife had inspiringly traded in a monotonous career as a library clerk for one as a journalist at the Chicago Defender, the country’s premier black newspaper,” McGrath wrote in his prologue.

“In a matter of a few years, she had risen to become the nation’s preeminent black female reporter of the civil rights era, and during the movement’s seminal events in the 1950s it had been her words that had fed a national black readership hungry for stories that could not be found in the white media. . . .”

[Morris wrote this comment Tuesday in reaction to this item:  ” ‘Chicago Home of ‘The First Lady of the Black Press’ Is Falling Apart’ by Erik Johnson is great piece. Thank you for linking it.

[“When I first saw the house in conjunction with my research on writing a book about Payne I was astonished to learn that there wasn’t even a small plaque on the building or on the sidewalk. I thought of the many houses that I knew that had some sort of plaque but not this one.

[“The neglect of honoring this spot–not to mention preserving it – -is symbolic of a larger issue in my mind. As white historian who lives in archives I made my first use of African American archives to do this book and I was struck by the financial difficulties most of them face. So like Payne’s house, America seems unwilling to help preserve iconic places and documents when it relates to black history and all so eager to do so for other parts of its history.”]

Meanwhile, a campaign has been underway to help save the Red Bank, N.J., house of T. Thomas Fortune, a black journalist and activist who lived from 1856 to 1928 and edited the New York Age, the most widely read black newspaper of its day. Supporters want to use the Victorian house as a community cultural and educational center to teach children about the state’s diversity. They have raised $1,660 toward their $140,000 goal.

From Sunday's Ideas section at the Boston Globe.

From Sunday’s Ideas section of the Boston Globe.

Globe Creates Buzz With Fake Trump Front Page

On Sunday, as part of an editorial package in its Ideas/Opinion section, The Boston Globe took a glimpse into the future,” Luke O’Neil reported Monday for the Daily Beast. “On its mock front page, the Globe postulated what the paper might look like one year from now — in a world wherein Donald Trump had captured the presidency.

“The results, you will be in no way surprised to hear, don’t look promising: mass deportations, trade wars, and worst of all, Kid Rock as Japanese ambassador. The effort, which they teased online over the weekend as ‘the front page we hope we never have to print,’ was highly unconventional, particularly for a broadsheet not exactly renowned for its trolling bona fides (outside of the sports section anyway). It looked like the type of world-building set dressing you might see in the background of a dystopian science fiction film.

“Naturally, the issue has garnered a lot more attention than the typical Sunday editorial from the paper. This is in part owed to the inescapable Trump boost baked into all media today, but the cover also picked up steam for its departure from traditional Serious Journalism Standards.

“Indeed, more than a few have criticized the Globe (where I, full disclosure, have contributed many times over the years) for lowering themselves with such a stunt — more The Onion than journalism. But considering that a recent memo from editor Brian McGrory called for ‘a no-sacred-cows analysis’ and ‘reinvention initiative’ as the company, like much of the print media, faces ‘irreversible revenue declines,’ perhaps this is a step in the right direction. . . .”

Many media reports left the impression that the page was the front of the Globe’s Sunday edition, rather than the front page of Section K, the Ideas section.

Among those leaving that impression was Trump. “Mr. Trump, at a campaign rally in Rochester, N.Y., had some choice words in response,” Louise Radnofsky and Siobhan Hughes reported Sunday for the Wall Street Journal.

“ ‘How about that stupid Boston Globe? Did you see that story? The whole front page — they made up a story — they pretended that Trump was the president,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘The whole front page is a make-believe story, which is really no different from the whole paper.’  . . .”

‘Unqualified’ Wasn’t in Headline About Sanders

“ ‘She [Hillary Clinton] has been saying lately that she thinks that I am, quote unquote, not qualified to be president.’ “

— Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), at a rally at Temple University, Philadelphia, April 6

Many readers have asked about these remarks by Bernie Sanders, which led him to list the ways that he thought the former secretary of state was ‘not qualified’ to become president,” Glenn Kessler reported in his “Fact Checker” column Thursday in the Washington Post. “Did Clinton really say Sanders was unqualified? . . .

“The Washington Post article had this headline: ‘Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president.’

“The CNN report included this sentence: ‘The campaign’s deputy communications director, Christina Reynolds, argued that Sanders is unqualified.’ The sentence appeared before a description of a campaign missive that Reynolds had written, drawing attention to a problematic interview that Sanders had with the editorial board of the Daily News. . . .”

Kessler also wrote, “Headline writing is an imperfect art. The editor often has to summarize the meaning of a complex and nuanced article in just a few words. Many Washington-based reporters have experienced the frustration of having an accurate article denied by an agency spokesman because of a headline that went a little far off the mark.

“In this case, however, the Post headline did not quote Clinton as saying Sanders was unqualified, and neither did the article. Instead, it drew attention to an interview on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ in which Clinton sidestepped questions about whether Sanders was qualified. . . .”

ASNE: Estimating Journalists Now Impractical

Noting that Peter Drucker, the late management guru, famously said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Pam Fine, president of the American Society of News Editors, urged news executives on Tuesday to complete its annual newsroom diversity survey, launched more than 30 years ago.

Fine announced these changes:

“First, we will no longer estimate the number of journalists working in newsrooms. Previously, ASNE survey results included a projection for the number of journalists working in newsrooms based on what for years were relatively standard employment levels. But today, the structure of modern newsrooms makes it impractical and error-prone to try to estimate the number of working journalists.

“As we saw with more than 70 layoffs from the Orange County Register newsroom recently, employment numbers can change radically in a short time. So the ASNE results will be based only on the newsrooms that reply to the survey. As a result, we’ll no longer refer to the research as a ‘census.’

“A second major change is that we will no longer ask news organizations to classify employees by job category. Editors have told us this change is needed because roles and titles are continually transforming. We will, however, continue to ask separate questions about newsroom leaders so we can track diversity among the top decision-makers.

“Additionally, for the first time, we’ll also be asking about recruitment and retention strategies employed in newsrooms, with a goal of creating best practices information to share with our colleagues. . . . ” [Added April 12]

Al Jazeera America to Sign Off With 3-Hour Finale

Al-Jazeera America, the U.S. news network backed by the ruling family of Qatar, will sign off for good after a three-hour farewell broadcast on Tuesday,” Laura Wagner reported Monday for NPR.

“Though the media outlet struggled to gain traction in the U.S., NPR’s media correspondent David Folkenflik reports that it held the promise of a noncommercial approach to television news. David says that ‘after an earlier channel called Al-Jazeera English failed to make a dent in the U.S., Al-Jazeera America was built on the acquisition of a liberal cable network called Current.’ He adds:

” ‘The deal intended to ensure major distribution, but some cable providers resisted, saying that was a bait and switch. Al-Jazeera executives also promised the channel would not distribute its shows online, which meant that much of its content never became available digitally. Internal strife proved common and Al-Jazeera America never caught on — drawing audiences in the tens of thousands. Ultimately, the channel’s Qatari patrons pulled the plug.’

“Al-Jazeera America was launched in the summer of 2013, but — as we reported in January when the network announced it would be shutting down — management problems and paltry ratings soon spelled its demise. . . .”

Randall Pinkston, who worked for Al Jazeera America as a correspondent, messaged Journal-isms on Sunday, “Tuesday is the final day, ending with a three-hour finale anchored by Tony Harris, John Seigenthaler, Del Walters, Richelle Carey, Stephanie Sy, Joie Chen and a host of others. The special begins at 9pm EDT, Tuesday 12 April 2016.”

How Tobacco Firms Infiltrated Black Communities

Lincoln Mondy’s asthma is probably the only reason why he’s never smoked a cigarette,” Taryn Finley reported Monday for HuffPost BlackVoices.

” ‘Doctors warned his parents about the dangerous effects their smoking habit could have on their son, but it was almost impossible to stop because in Farmersville, Texas, ‘tobacco is everything,’ according to Mondy. At the age of 14, Mondy took matters into his own hands when he made a PowerPoint presentation for his mom, whom he lived with, which warned her about tobacco’s adverse effects. With the support of Mondy and other family members, his mother eventually quit smoking by the time he was 15. But getting his father to quit was a different beast to tackle.

“ ‘My black family all smoked menthol,’ Mondy, who is biracial, told The Huffington Post about a pattern he noticed on his paternal family’s side. ‘Like why do they smoke menthol but my white side dips and smokes cigarettes that aren’t menthol?’

“Menthol is a flavoring additive that makes it easier to inhale smoke which makes it more addictive than non-menthol cigarettes, according to the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. More than 70 percent of black smokers prefer menthol, as shown in the infographics (above and below) by the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. After learning that black people are more likely to die from smoking-related diseases than whites, Mondy realized his father’s affinity for menthol wasn’t a coincidence.

“The now 22-year-old senior at George Washington University, started to research the campaigns big tobacco companies used to target black communities for his film project, ‘Black Lives/Black Lungs.’ The film was published in March in conjunction with Truth Initiative, and he found some very disturbing facts. . . .”

Finley also wrote, “These tobacco companies would buy a disproportionate amount of ad space in black publications like Ebony, Jet and Essence in comparison to mainstream magazines like Life, Vanity Fair and Elle. In 1962, Ebony carried twice as many cigarette ad pages as Life. These ads showed black men and women with cool and even empowering demeanors as they held a cigarette. . . .”

‘Urban Griots’ Speak Up on Profiling

This short video was created by S. Renee Mitchell’s Urban Griots journalism class at Roosevelt High School” in Portland, Ore., Mitchell posted last week on Facebook. “After five of our students were traumatized after being racially profiled at the downtown Nordstrom Rack, the students decided to use this experience as a project-based way to tell stories of other teens’ experiences.”

‘WikiLeaks-ization of Mainstream Journalism’

Four years passed between The New York Times’s first article based on the Pentagon Papers and the end of the Vietnam War,” media columnist Jim Rutenberg wrote Sunday for the New York Times.

“Two years passed between The Washington Post’s first story establishing Richard M. Nixon’s link to the Watergate burglary and Nixon’s resignation from the presidency.

“Last week, Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson of Iceland couldn’t make it 48 hours before having to step aside after the disclosure of the shady bank dealings contained in the Panama Papers, some of which involve him.

“O.K., I know: It’s just Iceland, remote and adorably tiny. Who knew it had a government position higher than forstodumadur Fiskistofa (director of Fisheries)?

“Kidding, Iceland, kidding! I understand how you’re at the center of something bigger than both your country and mine, and I promise that you won’t be mad at me by the time you’re done reading this.

“Because while we Americans were transfixed by the latest plot turns in our presidential campaign, you and the rest of the world were living through the biggest corporate data leak in history. It had reverberations not only in Iceland, but in China, Britain, Russia, Argentina and some 50 other countries.

“But the leak signaled something else that was a big deal but went unheralded: The official WikiLeaks-ization of mainstream journalism; the next step in the tentative merger between the Fourth Estate, with its relatively restrained conventional journalists, and the Fifth Estate, with the push-the-limits ethos of its blogger, hacker and journo-activist cohort, in the era of gargantuan data breaches. . . .”

Displaced civilians hiding in the caves in the western part of the Jebel Marra massif in February (Credit: Radio Dabanga)

Displaced civilians hiding in the caves in the western part of the Jebel Marra massif in February (Credit: Radio Dabanga)

Freelancer Documents ‘Forgotten Drama’ in Darfur

Freelance journalist Klaas van Dijken has won the prestigious De Tegel (The Tile) 2015 award in the News Reporting category for a report on Darfur published in the Dutch newspaper Trouw last year,” Radio Dabanga in Amsterdam reported Wednesday.

“One of the most important journalistic awards in the Netherlands — a country that prides itself on its free press — De Tegel is awarded to journalists who excel in several categories. Van Dijken received the award at a ceremony in the Royal Theatre in The Hague on 31 March.

“In motivation of the award, the judging panel described the piece — one of 365 submitted — published in Trouw on 11 April 2015 as ‘A far-reaching and evocatively written report by a journalist who went the extra mile to allow us to see a forgotten drama.’

“Van Dijken was one of the first journalists to travel to Darfur in at least five years. The region has been plagued by civil war since 2003. Additionally, the national government in Khartoum have made the area strictly off-limits to foreigners; even relief organisations, let alone journalists. His report was illustrated with photographs by Adriane Ohanesian who travelled to Darfur with him.

“The exclusive report documents the plight of the thousands of internally displaced people in Darfur, and exposes the harsh conditions suffered by those who have taken refuge from daily government attacks and aerial bombardments in the caves and valleys of Darfur’s mountainous Jebel Marra massif. . . .”

The report also said, “Asked why he thinks the international community does so little to stop this tragedy, Van Dijken says that in spite of investigations by the likes of Human Rights Watch, and indictments against Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC), there is no political will in the world to really change things in Darfur and put pressure on the Sudanese government to stop the attacks on their own civilians.

” ‘After we published our report last year, Human Rights Watch investigated what happened in Golo, and the ICC reopened the investigation into Al Bashir, but there is political self-interest from some countries so they have no will to stop what is happening in Sudan.

” ‘I am a journalist, not an aid worker,’ Van Dijken says, ‘so all I can do is share the story with the rest of the world, and I will continue to do this in the Dutch and international media. I am especially grateful to the people in Jebel Marra who were brave enough and willing to share their stories with me so that I can do that.’ . . .”

Corrice Collins Dies, Hired After Integration Fight

Corrice Collins, the first African American news trainee and the first African American anchor at WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., died Saturday at age 72. “Family says Collins died after a long battle with cancer,” the station reported on Monday.

Corrice Collins

Corrice Collins

WLBT was the subject of a landmark federal court decision that ordered the Federal Communications Commission to rescind its license because of racially discriminatory broadcasting, veteran journalist Randall Pinkston, a Collins colleague, recalled in an email Monday.

“The case cite is United Church of Christ v Federal Communications Commission. The architect of the legal challenge was the Reverend Everett Parker. The entire story is told in Kay Mills’ CHANGING CHANNELS,” Pinkston wrote.

“In an effort to keep its license, WLBT TV launched an on-the-job training program for African-Americans. Corrice was one of the first hires. Others included Tom Alexander, Archie Evans (RIP), Otis Loper (RIP), Larry Clark, Mary Ann Loper Lindsay, Larry Keeler and me. Corrice was my ‘big brother’, our rock.”

Pinkston also wrote of Collins, “He began work there in 1969 and was taught every facet of news coverage by News Director David Mieher (RIP) and his staff, including, photography, film processing, editing, writing, producing, reporting and anchoring.

“He was the first African-American news anchor at WLBT-TV, writing, producing and anchoring a 15-minute Saturday night newscast. He was hard-working, funny, brilliant.

“Corrice finished high school when he was 16 and completed 3 years of undergraduate work at Jackson State College as a chemistry major. He dropped out to get married and take care of his family.

“Once he began working at WLBT, he decided to complete his degree, moving to Missouri to attend the University of Missouri. You will see references to him going to Missouri in the 1980’s. That’s not accurate. He left Jackson in the early 70’s, around 1973.

“Before he left, he covered some of the biggest stories of that period, including Hurricane Camille in 1969, the 1970 law enforcement shooting at Jackson State College that left 2 people dead and [12 wounded] and the 1972 gubernatorial campaign of Charles Evers (Medgar’s brother).

“After graduating from the University of Missouri, Corrice briefly left journalism but returned some years later, working for WBBM TV in Chicago. He then moved back to Jackson as a news manager and then on to other pursuits. He is survived by his wife, 4 children and grandchildren. . . .”

Short Takes

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