Three Months in, CBS Sends Reporter to N. Dakota

Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, ‘Culinary Griot,’ Dies

29% of Whites, 72% of Blacks OK With Kaepernick

Soledad O’Brien Says Trump Has ‘Normalized’ White Supremacy

Ex-St. Louis Anchor Quiet About Race in Campaign

AP Debunks Racial Claims by Maine Governor

White House to Counter ‘Model Minority’ Myth

Anchor, White Dad of Black Child, Discloses Bias

‘Most Desirable Nose’ Story Gets Side-Eye

Short Takes

“Democracy Now!” reports from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

Three Months in, CBS Sends Reporter to N. Dakota

After all but ignoring for months a Native American demonstration that led Saturday to dogs being sicced on the demonstrators, one of the big three U.S. broadcast networks is sending a reporter to the scene in North Dakota, CBS News spokesman Richard Huff told Journal-isms on Wednesday.

The broadcast news networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — have aired exactly one report on the Dakota Access Pipeline protests since the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe began an encampment against the project in April, according to a search of the Nexis news database,” Jim Naureckas wrote Wednesday for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. “That report, read by Anne-Marie Green, aired on the CBS Morning News at 4 a.m. on September 5. . . .”

President Obama, halfway around the world in Laos Wednesday, was asked his reaction to the protests. (video) Many American viewers must have wondered what on Mother Earth they were talking about.

Naureckas called the demonstrations “the largest mobilization of indigenous activists against environmental degradation.” If completed, the 1,172-mile pipeline would carry 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day from fields of North Dakota to Illinois.

The protests have not gone unreported. The Santa Fe New Mexican editorialized Tuesday:

Despite the drama playing out on the ground and the important issues in this fight, the protests seem to be happening without the same level of media circus that has accompanied other such mass gatherings. There has not been the kind of saturated news coverage, for example, that centered around armed militia members holed up in an Oregon wildlife refuge.” Others made a connection with the images of dogs snarling at black demonstrators in Birmingham, Ala., in the 1960s.

“Still, there are places to go to find out more,” the New Mexican continued. “The New York Times has written about the protests and put together compelling video. Democracy Now, National Public Radio, and Indian Country Today are other sources, as is the BBC. Interested people can follow along on Twitter at #noDAPL hashtag. . . .”

CBS spokesman Huff did not say which reporter was detailed, only that, “We have a correspondent traveling there now. Plan to report from North Dakota tomorrow.”

NBC and ABC made no similar pledges, though the CBC and the BBC, national broadcasters in Canada and Britain, respectively; Al Jazeera and noncommercial sources such as the “Democracy Now!” radio and television show, have been on the ground.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse, the New York Times and the Washington Post, in addition to local media, also sent journalists. Ricardo Caté, Santo Domingo Pueblo, who draws “Without Reservations” for the Santa Fe New Mexican, has been documenting the resistance in photos, film and cartoon commentaries, his paper noted.

A Malaysian student asks President Obama in Laos Wednesday about the pipeline dispute.

Were the U.S. networks present, they might have cast the issue as Will Bunch did Tuesday in the Philadelphia Daily News — though Bunch wasn’t even at the scene.

It was the kind of brutal scene that should have died out in the 1960s around the same time as the hula hoop and the twist — security guards siccing vicious attack dogs on protesters trying to prevent an environmentally risky oil pipeline across sacred Native American lands in America’s central prairie,” Bunch wrote.

“Members of North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, joined by hundreds of supporters on the rugged, remote plains, surely knew they weren’t out for a picnic when they attempted to obstruct work on the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which they say will destroy burial rock piles, called cairns, and other sites of spiritual significance.

“Last week, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues called on the United States and the pipeline’s main backer, a firm called Energy Transfer Partners, to respect the objections of the Standing Rock Sioux to the project, calling for a ‘fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process to resolve this serious issue and to avoid escalation into violence and further human rights abuses.’

“Instead, with local law enforcement nowhere in sight, escalating violence and human rights abuses are exactly what was unleashed on the mostly Native American protesters this Saturday. . . .”

In many ways, failure to pay more attention to this Native American story should be no surprise. In mainstream newspapers and online newsrooms, the American Society of News Editors reported in 2015, only four-tenths of 1 percent of journalists are Native American. The same percentage holds in local television newsrooms, according to the Radio Television Digital News Association. In the United States as a whole, just 1.7 percent identified as American Indian and Alaska Native in 2010, either alone or in combination with one or more other races, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.

Just three months ago, many media outlets repeated language calling the tragic killing of 49 people in Orlando “the deadliest mass shooting in American history,” as if the 19th century massacres of hundreds and even thousands of Natives at a time did not count.

In 2002 and 2003, Cristina L. Azocar, a member of the Upper Mattaponi tribe who now chairs the Journalism Department at San Francisco State University, conducted the Native American Journalists Association’s first “Reading Red” reports examining mainstream news coverage of American Indians. Both reports documented the poor job often done by large mainstream media outlets at covering Native topics.

Azocar told Journal-isms on Wednesday that was still the case. About the pipeline protest, she said, “Almost all of the news I’ve had about it was through social media and points to Native news sites until today. After Lawrence O’Donnell covered it, it seemed to gain some steam.” O’Donnell delivered a commentary Aug. 25 on his “The Last Word” on MSNBC.

Jason Begay, current president of NAJA and director of Native American Journalism Projects at the University of Montana, returned from North Dakota Wednesday, making the 13-hour drive from Missoula with three students. “Everyone they talked to heard about the [event] through social media,” Begay said by telephone.

He pointed to other reasons why national mainstream media coverage might be skimpy. To reach  the encampment, one must hike up a hill where there are no cell phone signals. And like many who protest — the Natives prefer to consider themselves “protectors” of the Earth rather than protesters — they are distrustful of the media. “They were deliberately being peaceful,” Begay said. But when confrontations with the dogs took place Saturday, “headlines focused on the words ‘violence,’ ” though that was not characteristic of the demonstrations.

Steve Wallick, editor of the Bismarck Tribune 40 miles from the reservation, told Journal-isms that he considered the standoff nationally significant if only because of the “unanimous show of unity by the tribes” from across the country. “It’s a very interesting story,” he said by telephone.

The Army Corps of Engineers approved the oil pipeline in July, allowing it to run under the Missouri River close to the reservation.”The focus is on the water, but it goes deeper than that,” Wallick said. It “speaks to controversies about oil, fracking and coal.”

Writing Friday on his Trahant Reports blog, Native journalist Mark Trahant put the controversy in the context of climate change and the presidential campaign, citing Democrat Hillary Clinton’s statements on American exceptionalism.

As she put it: ‘Because, when America fails to lead, we leave a vacuum that either causes chaos or other countries or networks rush in to fill the void. So no matter how hard it gets, no matter how great the challenge, America must lead. The question is how we lead. What kind of ideas, strategies, and tactics we bring to our leadership. American leadership means standing with our allies because our network of allies is part of what makes us exceptional.’

“And those should be the same themes when it comes to the global reaction to climate change.

“Last year Clinton praised the Paris Climate Change Agreement. ‘The Paris agreement is testament to America’s ability to lead the world in building a clean energy future where no one is left out or left behind,’ she said … ‘we will only succeed if we redouble our efforts going forward to drive innovation, increase investment, and reap the benefits of the good-paying jobs that will come from transitioning to a clean energy economy.

“The next decade of action is critical — because if we do not press forward with driving clean energy growth and cutting carbon pollution across the economy, we will not be able to avoid catastrophic consequences.’

“So let’s be absolutely clear here: The tribal community of Standing Rock and the people downstream on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation are those who would be left out and left behind unless the Dakota Access Pipeline is stopped. . . .”

Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, hosting the public television show “Soul!” on New York's WNET-TVin 1971. (Credit: Chester Higgins Jr./New York Times

Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, hosting the public television show “Soul!” on New York’s WNET-TV in 1971. (Credit: Chester Higgins Jr./New York Times)

Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, ‘Culinary Griot,’ Dies

Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, who in a life of varied artistic careers, most notably as a commentator on NPR, was best known for extolling the virtues of the Gullah food and culture of her native South Carolina, died on Saturday in the Bronx,” Anita Gates reported Tuesday for the New York Times. “She was 79.

“The death was announced by NPR. Ms. Smart-Grosvenor (pronounced GROVE-nor) had an aneurysm in 2009, which effectively ended her broadcasting career. She died in the Hebrew Home at Riverdale.

“Ms. Smart-Grosvenor, who liked to call herself a ‘culinary griot,’ was heard on NPR for three decades, starting in 1980. She treated listeners to hundreds of reports, primarily on food, culture and travel but on social issues as well. Her first major credential as a culinary anthropologist was her book ‘Vibration Cooking or, The Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl’ (1970), often described as an autobiographical cookbook. . . .”

29% of Whites, 72% of Blacks OK With Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick might have the hottest-selling jersey in the NFL, but he sure doesn’t have the support of white America,” Maxwell Strachan reported for the Huffington Post on Tuesday.

“Only 29 percent of white Americans approve of the San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s recent decision to sit during the national anthem in protest of the mistreatment of people of color in the U.S., while 69 percent disapprove, according to a new YouGov poll.

“Among black Americans, the sentiment is essentially flipped. Seventy-two percent of black American approve of Kaepernick’s protest, while only 19 percent disapprove. . . .”

Soledad O'Brien on CNN Sunday.

Soledad O’Brien on CNN Sunday.

Soledad O’Brien Says Trump Has ‘Normalized’ White Supremacy

Former CNN host Soledad O’Brien blasted the cable news business over the weekend for profiting off the hate speech that has fueled Donald Trump’s political rise,” David Edwards reported Sunday for Raw Story.

“According to O’Brien, the media had gone through ‘contortions to make things seem equal all the time’ when comparing Trump to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“ ‘If you look at Hillary Clinton’s speech where she basically pointed out that what Donald Trump has done — actually quite well — has normalized white supremacy,’ O’Brien explained to CNN host Brian Stelter on Sunday. ‘I think she made a very good argument, almost like a lawyer. Here is ways in which he has actually worked to normalize conversations that many people find hateful.’

“ ‘I’ve seen on-air, white supremacists being interviewed because they are Trump delegates,’ she noted. ‘And they do a five minute segment, the first minute or so talking about what they believe as white supremacists. So you have normalized that.’

“ ‘And then Donald Trump will say, “Hillary Clinton, she’s a bigot.” And it’s covered, the journalist part comes in, “They trade barbs. He said she’s a bigot and she points out that he might be appealing to racists.” It only becomes “he said, she said.”

“When in actuality, the fact that Donald Trump said she’s a bigot without the long laundry list of evidence, which if you looked at Hillary Clinton’s speech, she actually did have a lot of really good factual evidence that we would all agree that are things that have happened and do exist. They are treated as if they are equal.’

“O’Brien insisted ‘that’s where journalists are failing: the contortions to try to make it seem fair.’ . . .”

Ex-St. Louis Anchor Quiet About Race in Campaign

Nearly two centuries after Missouri gained statehood as part of a compromise over slave ownership, no black candidate has ever won a statewide election there — a barrier Robin Smith is trying to overcome but seldom discusses publicly,” Summer Ballentine reported Saturday for the Associated Press.

Robin Smith

Robin Smith

Smith was a reporter and anchor at KMOV-TV in St. Louis and a 40-year broadcast veteran before her retirement last year.

“According to an analysis by The Associated Press, Missouri is one of 10 states since Reconstruction where only white candidates have won contests for president, senator, governor and other nonjudicial offices elected statewide.

“The others are Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wyoming and Mississippi, which had the nation’s first two black senators in the 1870s when those seats were chosen by legislators rather than popularly elected.

“Just making it to the general election puts Smith, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, in rare political company. The only previous minority candidate to have won a major party’s nomination for statewide office in Missouri was Alan Wheat — a black former Democratic congressman from Kansas City who lost the 1994 Senate race to former Republican Gov. John Ashcroft. Ashcroft’s son, Jay Ashcroft, now is running against Smith. . . .”

AP Debunks Racial Claims by Maine Governor

No law enforcement statistics even come close to backing up Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s

assertion blacks and Hispanics account for ’90-plus percent’ of heroin trafficking arrests in his state,” David Sharp reported Monday for the Associated Press.

“LePage, who previously told the Portland NAACP chapter to ‘kiss my butt’ and blamed out-of-state drug dealers for impregnating ‘young white’ girls, sparked another racial uproar when he said Aug. 24 that data he’d collected indicate out-of-state blacks and Hispanics accounted for ’90-plus percent’ of heroin trafficking arrests in Maine.

“FBI data contradict LePage’s assertion, and a criminologist called the governor’s data ‘laughable.’

“Meanwhile, members of the black community in Maine, the whitest state, fear LePage’s comments strengthen racial stereotypes and tacitly approve of racial profiling. . . .”

White House to Counter ‘Model Minority’ Myth

The White House is asking for the public’s help to better understand Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a diverse community that grapples with the perception that they are all economically successful and highly educated,” Alejandra Molina reported Friday for the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif.

“It’s part of a nationwide challenge, in partnership with UC Riverside, encouraging everyone from students and activists to policy analysts and artists to create and submit content that can help shed light on the different challenges and experiences Asian Americans of all backgrounds, such as Cambodian or Korean, encounter in America.

“Because Asians are estimated to make up 38 percent of the immigrant population by 2065, according to the Pew Research Center, organizations have been working to combat what’s known as the Asian ‘model minority’ myth – the perception that Asian Americans are a successful monolithic group.

“Experts say this belief is dangerous because many Asian Americans, such as Pacific Islander subgroups for example, are living in poverty and the myth prevents them from getting much-needed aid.

“Through data broken out by national origin, organizations have learned that in California the suicide rate for Korean Americans is the highest of all racial groups, and that Vietnamese and Burmese communities are limited English proficient, said Karin Wang of the Los Angeles-based group Asian Americans Advancing Justice. . . .”

Anchor, White Dad of Black Child, Discloses Bias

Frank Somerville and daughter.

Frank Somerville and daughter.

Frank Somerville, an anchor for San Francisco’s Fox affiliate KTVU, confessed in a post on Monday that he had an embarrassing but necessary experience to share with his fans,” Laura Donovan reported Aug. 30 for “He wrote that even though he has a biracial family, he recently had a racial bias against a black man whom he saw walking in the direction of a white woman at a bus stop at night. Somerville wrote that he instinctively told himself to keep an eye on the man in case he planned to bother the woman in some way.

“What Somerville saw next, however, forced him to confront his unfair racial bias against the man:

” ‘As [he] was walking I noticed a little boy running to catch up with him. The little boy then grabbed his dad’s hand. All of a sudden my whole view of the guy changed. I realized he was a dad just walking down the street with his son. . . .”

‘Most Desirable Nose’ Story Gets Side-Eye

WTTG anchors Maureen Umeh and Wisdom Martin couldn’t hide their feelings when the Washington, D.C. Fox-owned station did a Daily Mail story about the most desirable nose,” Kevin Eck reported Friday for TVSpy.

“What the study didn’t say was that the most perfect way to call bullshit was with [side-eye], smirks and head shakes, which Martin and Umeh demonstrated. The story went viral.

“ ‘But here’s the thing,’ wrote [BuzzFeed]. ‘That study only showed the participants noses from “normal-appearing white women aged 18 to 25 years.” . . . ‘ ”

Short Takes

  • Linda Yu

    Linda Yu

    Linda Yu is retiring from Chicago ABC-owned station WLS after 37 years in the market,” Kevin Eck reported Tuesday for TV Spy. “Yu has co-anchored the station’s 4 p.m. newscast since she started there in 1984. She came to Chicago in 1979 to work at WMAQ. Her last day is Wednesday, November 23. “Linda Yu is a trailblazer who opened doors for others as the first Asian American to anchor and report news in Chicago,” said Jennifer Graves, vp and news director. . . . . Judy Hsu, who has worked at WLS since 2001, will replace Yu alongside Rob Elgas. . . .”


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