Returning Aug. 29, barring breaking news

Journalist, 69, Was Reviving Emerge Magazine

Roland Martin’s Account of Curry’s Last Moments

Statement From Hillary Clinton

Journalist, 69, Was Reviving Emerge Magazine

George E. Curry

George E. Curry

George E. Curry, a veteran journalist who championed the black press and was reviving online his beloved Emerge magazine, died Saturday at 69, according to a message from his sister’s Facebook account.

“It is with deep regret to inform everyone that my brother, George passed away earlier today,” said the message, from the account of “Christie Love,” pen name for Sylvia “Chris” Polk.

“It was a shock to our family and we are dealing with the news, as best we can. R.I.P. brother George Curry.” Curry lived in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Hazel Trice Edney, publisher of the Trice Edney News Wire, reported Sunday that Curry “died suddenly of heart failure.

“Rumors of his death circulated heavily in journalistic circles on Saturday night until it was confirmed by Dr. Bernard Lafayette, MLK confidant and chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference shortly before midnight.

” ‘This is a tragic loss to the movement because George Curry was a journalist who paid special attention to civil rights because he lived it and loved it,’ Lafayette said through his spokesman Maynard Eaton, SCLC national communications director. . . .” Edney noted the popularity of his weekly columns in the black press.

Curry was twice editor-in-chief of the news service created by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, trade organization for the black press, but left in October after NNPA cut Curry’s salary in half in response to financial problems.

He then turned his attention to creating an online version of Emerge magazine, for which he was editor-in-chief from 1993 until its final issue in June 2000. A GoFundMe drive had raised $16,088 of its $100,000 goal. The site posted eight articles on Friday.

Emerge was best known for its cover stories on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, one showing the justice sporting an Aunt Jemima knot and the second depicting him as a lawn jockey for the far right. Curry wrote that the covers “were effective because in the minds of many Blacks disgusted with Thomas’ voting record, that’s exactly what he is. And we had the temerity to say it.” Emerge aimed to be the political-magazine counterpart to Ebony, Jet, Essence and Black Enterprise.

“Emerge covered the most important people, topics, and turning points of this remarkable period in penetrating articles by an all-star cast of writers, including Nelson George, Les Payne, Thulani Davis, Ralph Wiley, Jill Nelson, Tananarive Due, and Trey Ellis,” read a promotion on the cover of “The Best of Emerge Magazine,” a 2003 collection that Curry edited.

Another standout was “Kemba’s Nightmare,” a 1997 account by Reginald Stuart.

It “was about an extremely sheltered, straight-A high school student from Richmond who went to college and fell in love with a drug dealer,” Courtland Milloy wrote that year in the Washington Post. “Arrested and convicted of conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, Kemba [Smith] — a first-time offender who prosecutors admit never actually touched the stuff — went to prison in 1995 under federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws for 24 1/2 years without parole. She was 24 years old. . . .” President Bill Clinton pardoned Smith in 2000.

Credit: DeWayne Wickham

Credit: DeWayne Wickham

Although he had left NNPA, Curry continued to champion the black press.

Last month, he challenged a New York Times story on black media, saying ownership, not customer base, is the relevant issue.

The larger failure was not addressing the importance of Black-owned and operated media. . . . The issue is not race or ethnicity per se — it’s an issue of trust. African Americans trust the Black Press and distrust the White-owned corporate media. . . .”

In 2005, Curry had a place at the Millions More Movement rally on the National Mall, a 10-years-later sequel to the 1995 Million Man March, and he used his short time on stage to deliver a 673-word speech that denounced the white-owned press and pleaded for support to “make our Black media stronger.”

Two years earlier, Curry had been named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists for his work with the black press, and in accepting, delighted NABJ’s Dallas convention audience with impressions of Jesse Jackson and James Brown. He had long covered Jackson, especially during Jackson’s presidential campaigns of 1984.

Curry also co-founded the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists and  founded the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop, a training program for aspiring high school journalists that was replicated in other cities; was the first African American president of the American Society of Magazine Editors; and, through his George Curry Media, syndicated his columns. He was also active on the speakers’ circuit.

TheHistoryMakers has posted this biography:

“George Edward Curry was born on February 23, 1947, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; his mother worked as a domestic and his father was a mechanic. Curry’s father abandoned the family when Curry was just seven years old, leaving him to step into the role of the man of the house, assisting his mother in raising his three younger sisters. In 1965, Curry earned his high school diploma from Druid High School, where he was a member of the football team and sports editor of the school newspaper.

“In 1966, Curry moved to New York where he worked for The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) for a year. Curry earned his bachelor of arts degree in history from Knoxville College in 1970. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, Curry began his professional journalism career as a reporter for Sports Illustrated magazine in 1970; he was the second African American hired by the publication.

“After leaving Sports Illustrated in 1972, Curry headed west and worked as a beat reporter for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch until 1983. In 1977, he founded the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop, a training program for aspiring high school journalists; that same year, he wrote his first book Jake Gaither: America’s Most Famous Black Coach.

“From 1983 until 1989, Curry worked for the Chicago Tribune as a Washington Correspondent, covering political stories such as Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign. From 1989 until 1993, Curry worked as the New York bureau chief of the Tribune. From there, Curry served as editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine until it folded and printed its final edition in [2000]; under his leadership the magazine won more than forty national journalism awards.

“In 2003, Curry became editor-in-chief for the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, or NNPA, and BlackPressUSA.com; his weekly syndicated column appeared in more than two hundred African American newspapers. While at NNPA, Curry’s work has included covering the Supreme Court’s decision on the University of Michigan’s affirmative action case and America’s war with Iraq.

“In 2003, Curry was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists; he is also on NABJ’s list of Most Influential Black Journalists of the 20th Century.”

Last year, Curry wrote about the heart attack he sustained after covering and participating in the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Ala.

At the urging of ‘Uncle Mike’ Fauvelle of Setauket, N.Y., I am writing about my second close call with death, hoping that it, too, will prompt you to not only pay closer attention to your health, but be aware of the small signs of trouble and do something about it immediately if you sense something is awry,” he wrote.

Roland Martin’s Account of Curry’s Last Moments

Journalist Roland S. Martin supplied this account of George E. Curry’s last moments:

A church member of George’s sister hit me on Twitter saying his mom and sister wanted to talk to me.

I called his mom’s cell, and his sister, Sue Gandy, answered.

“I just needed to hear your voice,” and she started to cry.

“George talked about you so much. He just loved you as if you were a brother. So you’re a brother to us.”

I just started to cry as well.

Sue says that George’s body will be shipped to Tuscaloosa [Ala., his birthplace] ASAP.

Van Hughes Funeral Home will handle the arrangements.

Charles Steele, CEO of the SCLC, is coordinating all of this with the family.

The funeral date and time has not been set.

Sue said this is what Ann [Ragland, Curry’s longtime partner] told her:

She left home yesterday to get her and George some food.

George called and said, “Where are you?” Ann said she was pulling into the garage. He said, “My chest is hurting.”

She said: “Do you want me to call the ambulance?”

He said: “No. I want you to take me to the hospital.”

She drove him to a DC-area hospital [Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Md., according to the Associated Press] They wheeled him in, told her, “No worries. He’ll be fine.”

Ann went to go and park the car.

When she got in, he had gone into cardiac arrest. Sue says they worked on George for an hour, and he died.

Statement From Hillary Clinton

Today, following news of the death of George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of the National [Newspaper Publishers] Association, publisher of Emerge magazine, and a pioneering African-American journalist, Hillary Clinton released the following statement:

“I am saddened by the loss of an outstanding journalist and supportive friend. George E. Curry was a pioneering journalist, a tireless crusader for justice, and a true agent of change. With quality reporting, creativity, and skillful persuasion he influenced countless people, including me, to think beyond their narrow experience and expand their understanding. George may be gone, but he will not be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones.”

Media Turn on Olympics’ ‘Ugly American’

August 19, 2016

Swim Champ Would ‘Blame It on the Brown People’

Feds to Phase Out Use of Private Prisons

“Code Switch” Leader to Head D.C. Newsroom

Media Focus on His Past Threatens Filmmaker’s Success

Spanish-Language Networks Getting Out the Vote

Stewart Says Wilmore Raised ‘Underserved Voices’

Short Takes


Dave Zirin of the Nation told “Democracy Now!” that “Ryan Lochte has done the impossible: He’s managed to unite people in Rio who are both against the Olympics and people who are for the Olympics. . . .”

Swim Champ Would ‘Blame It on the Brown People’

Swimmer Ryan Lochte was dubbed ‘The Ugly American’ on Friday as U.S. media turned on the once beloved Olympic champion, saying his made-up tale of being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro played into the worst stereotypes of Americans abroad,” Jill Serjeant reported Friday for Reuters.

But not all in the news media were willing to call out the racial and North-South implications of the episode. Dave Zirin, sports editor of the Nation, appearing on “Democracy Now!” with hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Friday, was one.

New York tabloids made Ryan Lochte their cover boy.

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Friday's New York Post made it clear that swimmer Ryan Lochte had become a villain.

New York tabloids made Ryan Lochte their cover boy.

But I got to tell you, having just returned from Rio, the anger about this is not going anywhere, because Ryan Lochte has done the impossible: He’s managed to unite people in Rio who are both against the Olympics and people who are for the Olympics, because it’s very paradoxical down there, because, on the one hand, you know, I spoke to teachers, I spoke to people who depend on Brazil’s ramshackle medical system, and people are, of course, furious about the fact that billions of dollars are being spent to put on these Games at a time when there is so much economic and social upheaval in the country, when the country is mired in its worst recession in decades,” Zirin said.

“But paradoxically, there is a lot of pride in the fact that people are kind of holding this together, that volunteers, that low-wage workers are somehow keeping this together and holding the kinds of Games that can have the kinds of events, Amy, that you described, that can create these kinds of moments.

“And to have Ryan Lochte and friends literally and figuratively urinate all over their efforts, and also be the kind of stereotype of the ugly American who believes there is no sin below the equator, who exploits people’s biggest stereotypes about Rio and crime, and attempts to leverage the fact that they’re wealthy and white and Olympians and could somehow just blame it on the brown people, get on a plane and go home, what it manages to do is touch every nerve in Brazilian society right now and create a kind of bizarre unity of Brazilians, who are saying, ‘Wait a minute, we deserve a lot better than this for the effort that we have put in to staging these Games under unendurable circumstances.’ . . .”

Serjeant wrote, “Lochte, 32, is accused by Brazilian authorities of fabricating a story that made headlines around the world of being robbed by gunmen posing as policemen. Surveillance footage and Brazilian investigations showed that Lochte, and three other U.S. swimmers, vandalized a gas station bathroom and urinated in public on their way home from a party last weekend. . . .”

She also wrote, “Lochte’s belated apology on Friday, in a statement posted on his Instagram page, won him few friends. ‘Your apology was poor. Try again. Shame on you,’ wrote Maria Charles on Friday on Twitter.”

On NPR’s “Code Switch,” Leah Donnella added, “Indeed, to many #LochteGate is but another ill-advised, yet ultimately harmless exploit undertaken by the erstwhile star of the reality TV series What Would Ryan Lochte Do? This is, after all, the same adult man who unsuccessfully tried to trademark the word ‘Jeah.’

But others are taking the opportunity to engage in an interesting thought experiment: How would this have played out if Lochte weren’t a white man?” Donnella quoted Britni Danielle, writing for Ebony, and Huffington Post editor Emma Gray.

Danielle wrote, “Can you imagine the level of racially charged outrage about over-paid ‘thugs,’ ‘gangsters,’ or worse, racial slurs that would fill up social media had Carmelo Anthony and his boys torn up the bathroom, then claimed to get robbed by fake police? I have no doubt President Obama would be asked to comment, Black Lives Matter would get blamed, and people would probably never let them live it down. . . .”

 Shane Bauer's account of his four-month stint as a guard in a private prison appeared in the June issue of Mother Jones.

Shane Bauer’s account of his four-month stint as a guard in a private prison appeared in the July/August issue of Mother Jones.

Feds to Phase Out Use of Private Prisons

The Obama administration said on Thursday that it would begin to phase out the use of private for-profit prisons to house federal inmates,” Charlie Savage reported Thursday for the New York Times. “The Bureau of Prisons had resorted to such prisons to ease overcrowding as the incarceration rate soared, but the number of federal inmates has been dropping since 2013.

“In announcing the policy shift, the Justice Department cited that decline, as well as a critical recent report by the department’s independent inspector general about safety and security problems in private prisons. . . .”

Journalism also played a part.

This June, we published a big story — Shane Bauer’s account of his four-month stint as a guard in a private prison,” Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery wrote Wednesday for Mother Jones. “That’s ‘big,’ as in XXL: 35,000 words long, or 5 to 10 times the length of a typical feature, plus charts, graphs, and companion pieces, not to mention six videos and a radio documentary.

“It was also big in impact. More than a million people read it, defying everything we’re told about the attention span of online audiences; tens of thousands shared it on social media. The Washington Post, CNN, and NPR’s Weekend Edition picked it up. Montel Williams went on a Twitter tear that ended with him nominating Shane for a Pulitzer Prize (though that’s not quite how it works).

“People got in touch to tell us about their loved ones’ time in prison or their own experience working as guards. Lawmakers and regulators reached out. (UPDATE: And on August 18, the Justice Department announced that it will no longer contract with private prisons, which currently hold thousands of federal inmates — a massive policy shift.) . . .”

Bauerlein and Jeffery continued, “Shane’s prison project took more than 18 months. That included four months in the prison and more than a year of additional reporting, fact-checking, video production, and legal review, including work by more than a dozen other people on the MoJo staff. And that was the only way we could have gotten that story. . . .

“And we had to take considerable financial risk. Conservatively, counting just the biggest chunks of staff time that went into it, the prison story cost roughly $350,000. The banner ads that appeared on the article brought in $5,000, give or take. Had we been really in your face with ads, we could have doubled or tripled that figure —but it would have been a pain for you, and still only a drop in the bucket for us.

MoJo did have support from three foundations for our criminal justice reporting. That’s amazing —but foundation grants only go so far. They are typically limited in time (a few years, tops) and scope (focusing on a particular issue or initiative). And they are finite: All of our foundation support put together accounts for roughly 15 percent of MoJo’s annual revenue. . . .”

The magazine appealed to readers for continued financial support.

“Code Switch” Leader to Head D.C. Newsroom

Alicia Montgomery, a longtime NPR editor and producer for the network’s “Code Switch” initiative, which reports on race relations, has been named editorial director at Washington’s WAMU-FM, an NPR affiliate that tops D.C.’s commercial stations in the ratings.

Alicia Montgomery

Alicia Montgomery

“Alicia, a fifth-generation Washingtonian, comes to us from partner and neighbor NPR,” the station announced Thursday. “She will lead WAMU’s regional news strategy, as the station deepens its local focus, increases its emphasis on digital platforms, and significantly expands the newsroom over the next five years.

“Alicia impressed the search committee because of her experience leading high quality news teams. Some of her accomplishments include:

  • “Supervising Senior Producer of Code Switch, NPR’s cross-platform reporting initiative focused on race, ethnicity, and culture. Montgomery led the development of the team’s successful podcast, connecting with 185,000 unique downloaders each week.
  • “Production leader for Tell Me More with Michel Martin, where she edited Michel Martin’s Murrow Award-winning essay series, Can I Just Tell You and orchestrated the Michel Martin: Going There event series.
  • “Reporter for Salon.com, covering the 2000 presidential race and its aftermath. There, Alicia created Trail Mix, one of the first daily political blogs. . . .”

The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey, released in June by Bob Papper of Hofstra for the Radio Television Digital News Association, reported,”Non-commercial stations were more likely to have minority news directors than commercial stations.”

“Overall, 6.6% of commercial stations had minority news directors, while 10.6% of non-commercial stations had news directors of color,” Papper emailed Journal-isms on Friday.

Montgomery starts Oct. 3. NPR spokeswoman Isabel Lara told Journal-isms by email Friday, “There will be a search for a new code switch lead, in the meantime Keith Woods will step in.” Woods is NPR vice president for diversity in news and operations.

Nate Parker

Nate Parker

Media Focus on His Past Threatens Filmmaker’s Success

Nate Parker’s ‘The Birth of a Nation’ was supposed to be one of the most important movies of this year and next — if not of the decade,” Lisa France reported Thursday for CNN Money.

“At Sundance, the screening was greeted with tears, an extended standing ovation and wins for the audience and jury prizes.

“Fox Searchlight snapped up the distribution rights for a record $17.5 million. There was going to be a companion curriculum, so that the movie could be taught in schools. And you could already count the statues — Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Oscars — that the film was bound to win.

“But that was before the national media took notice of a disturbing part of Parker’s past: as a college student in 1999, he and his Penn State roommate, Jean Celestin, were charged with rape. Parker was acquitted; Celestin, who co-wrote ‘Birth of a Nation,’ was convicted. (His conviction was later overturned on appeal.)

“It was before sites began sharing links to court documents laying out a harrowing tale of what the accuser said happened, including what she called ‘an organized campaign’ to harass her.

“And it was before the revelation that their alleged victim had taken her own life in 2012, when she was just 30 years old. Her family has said she struggled after the event, and Variety reported that her death certificate said she suffered form “major depressive disorder with psychotic features, PTSD due to physical and sexual abuse, polysubstance abuse….”

“Now, the fate of the movie — the attention and distribution it was supposed to get, the accolades it was going to earn — is up in the air. . . .”

Spanish-Language Networks Getting Out the Vote

We’ve heard it said over and over again: The Hispanic vote could swing this election,” Media Life reported Friday.

“The Spanish-language broadcast networks are too politically savvy to tell their audiences who they should be voting for. But they’re trying to make sure those viewers get to the polls.

“This year all the big broadcasters, from Univision to Estrella, have get-out-the-vote efforts underway, encouraging their viewers to register, educate themselves on the issues, and make it to the polls on election day.

“This isn’t new. For the past few campaign cycles, the networks have been engaging in similar civic activism.

“What’s interesting is you don’t see the same thing with the English-language networks, for a variety of reasons. Two decades after MTV urged young people to ‘rock the vote,’ voter drives are now largely confined to Spanish-language networks. . . .”


Jon Stewart surprises Larry Wilmore Thursday on his last “Nightly Show.”

Stewart Says Wilmore Raised ‘Underserved Voices’

When the final ‘Nightly Show’ aired on Thursday, Jon Stewart showed up to bid farewell to host Larry Wilmore,Ed Mazza reported Friday for the Huffington Post.

“ ‘Your last show?’ Stewart said. ‘Oh my God! What did you, piss off Peter Thiel?’

“Stewart was referring to the Silicon Valley billionaire who bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s $135 million privacy lawsuit that caused Gawker.com to shut down.

“The ex-‘Daily Show’ host then gave some sage advice to his former correspondent: ‘Do not confuse cancellation with failure.’

“ ‘What you, my friend, were tasked to do, you have done and done beautifully,’ Stewart said. ‘You gave voice to underserved voices in the media arena and you did it ― it was a show that was raw and poignant and funny and smart and all those things.’

“After paying tribute to Wilmore, Stewart tapped his chest and said, ‘You did it, my…’ but Wilmore tried to stop him from finishing that sentence.

“ ‘…my mishpocheh,’ Stewart concluded, using a Yiddish term for family and not the word Wilmore was fearing.

“The joke was a reference to Wilmore dropping the n-word on President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last spring. . . .”

Short Takes

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