Returning Sept. 26, barring breaking news

Social Media ‘Elbowed’ Police Version of Shooting

Trump Gets It Wrong: Lester Holt is a Republican

. . . Poll Favors Cooper Over Holt as Moderator

In Which Case Is the N-Word Appropriate?

Allister Sparks, Anti-Apartheid Editor, Dies at 83

Narisetti Named CEO of Gizmodo, Formerly Gawker

Pipeline Battle Is Also Over Who Tells the Story

Tech Companies Loom Large at ONA Conference

In Pittsburgh, More of Color Left Than Were Hired

Short Takes


North Carolina’s governor declared a state of emergency after a second night of protests over a fatal police shooting descended into chaos,“Alex Johnson and Gabe Gutierrez reported for NBC News. (NBC News video)

Social Media ‘Elbowed’ Police Version of Shooting

Did Keith Lamont Scott have a gun in his hand when officers confronted him in a University City apartment complex parking lot Tuesday afternoon?” the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer editorialized Wednesday.

“Or was it a book?

“Police say the former. Relatives and protesters say the latter.

“What we know is that, as Charlotte-Mecklenburg police resist disclosure of the body camera and dashboard camera footage, their narrative of a justified police shooting is getting elbowed aside by the social media livestreams and posts of angry relatives and protesters.

“To bring clarity, police should release the footage now. . . .”

[On Thursday, family members saw the video, but not public did not . “The grieving relatives of a man who was killed by the police here watched videos on Thursday of the fatal shooting, a wrenching experience that they said revealed no hint of aggression in him and left the family members convinced that the videos should be made public,” Alan Blinder, Niraj Chokshi and Richard Pérez-Peña reported for the New York Times. “But the city’s police chief, who had arranged for the private viewing, held fast to his decision not to release the recordings. . . .”

[On its editorial page Thursday, the Times agreed with the Observer. “The Police Department in Charlotte, N.C., has responded in exactly the wrong way to a police officer’s killing on Tuesday of another black man, Keith Scott. It has opted for stonewalling,” it wrote.]

The Observer editorial continued, “Protests erupted for a second consecutive night Wednesday, this time with alarming images of unrest in uptown. Protesters’ social media posts, viewed by people across Charlotte and around the country Tuesday, intensified the anger undergirding that night’s stomach-churning images of violence, looting and arson in the University City area.

“It’s the same protest-related violence that marred Ferguson, Baltimore, and other cities. As we all hopefully understand by now, America faces an urgent problem, one that cries out for solutions. . . .”

In news reports, journalists tried to balance competing narratives. A headline over an Observer report by Steve Harrison, referring to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, said, “CMPD said Keith Lamont Scott had a gun. Was that reason enough to order him to drop it?

Harrison noted, “In North Carolina, the open-carry of a handgun is legal. Concealed carry is also legal, so long as you have a permit.”

Violence drove the story to the top of the national evening newscasts on Wednesday.

During a second night of protests, “North Carolina’s governor declared a state of emergency after a second night of protests over a fatal police shooting descended into chaos,” Alex Johnson and Gabe Gutierrez reported Thursday morning for NBC News.

“One person was shot in what police said was protester-on-protester violence, and several people were injured. Police fired tear gas in an attempt to calm the situation. . . .”

Journalists were not  spared. Brian  Stelter  and the CNN Money team reported in their “Reliable  Sources” newsletter Wednesday, “CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera was assaulted while reporting live during the violent protests in Charlotte Wednesday night. And his colleague Boris Sanchez choked on what was apparently tear gas. Feeling the stinging effects in his eyes and mouth, Sanchez coughed but continued to report during “Anderson Cooper 360.” Lavandera’s team brought water to Sanchez’s team (producer Kevin Conlon and photojournalist Jerry Simonson). This video of Lavendera being knocked over is getting a lot of attention. He said the perpetrator later came over to apologize and to hug him…

“On Fox, Steve Harrigan said he was ‘seeing scenes’ that he hadn’t seen since his time in ‘the West Bank…’ WCCB, the CW station, tweets: ‘WCCB witnessed protesters try to throw still photographer into fire in Uptown…’

“WCNC anchor Mike Hanson: ‘One of our crews was attacked in Uptown. Reporter & Cameraman taken by ambulance to hospital…’ ”

Dashcam video shows unarmed man killed by Oklahoma police. (Credit: Tulsa Police Department)

Dashcam video shows the unarmed man killed by Tulsa police. (Credit: Tulsa Police Department)

Meanwhile, in Tulsa, Okla., protesters were outraged by the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher Friday by Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby. “Crutcher’s SUV was stalled in the street,” the Tulsa World said in an editorial Wednesday. “He was unarmed, but according to police statements was refusing to obey orders from police.” In a video, however, Crutcher can be seen with his hands raised above his head.

The World took hope from District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler’s track record. He “showed his independence and his wisdom in 2014, the last time we faced the case of a white officer shooting a black man. Despite a sheriff’s office recommendation against criminal action, Kunzweiler’s office charged and convicted reserve Deputy Robert Bates of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Eric Harris.”

Similarly, in 2012, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan and Mayor Dewey Bartlett “responded strongly and quickly to a string of hate crime shootings targeting black Tulsans — the so-called Good Friday shootings. The police arrested Alvin Lee Watts and Jacob Carl England, who were sentenced to life without parole.

The editorial added, “We have not forgotten that Tulsa also has some difficult history to deal with — the lawless 1921 race riot that left untold numbers of innocent black people dead. . . .”

The  Charlotte and Tulsa shootings were no longer local stories, and columnists elsewhere gave voice to national frustrations.

Shaun King wrote Tuesday in the Daily News in New York, “Terence Crutcher should be alive right now. His gruesome death and the abandonment of him by police as he fought for his final breaths has gripped our nation because everything about it was so damn inhumane and excessive. What this case isn’t, though, is rare. We’ve seen this before so many times that people are either growing numb, hopeless, desperate, angry or some variation of all four. . . .

James Ragland added Wednesday in the Dallas Morning News, “I don’t see how anyone can watch the video of that shooting in Tulsa and not feel outraged and ashamed: Terence Crutcher, an unarmed man obviously in distress, was gunned down by a police officer who apparently perceived him to be an imminent threat.

“If you’re that scared and psychologically fragile — with at least three other officers by your side and a police helicopter hovering above — you probably shouldn’t be wearing a badge or carrying a gun.

“It’s gotten so out of hand that both presidential candidates, who typically never want to offend the law enforcement crowd, are daring to speak out against deadly police force. . . .”

Lester Holt plays bass with his band, the 30 Rockers, at the "Dateline" 25th anniversary party Tuesday on a Manhattan rooftop. (Credit: Jemal Countess/NBC)

Lester Holt plays bass with his band, the 30 Rockers, at the “Dateline” 25th anniversary party Tuesday on a Manhattan rooftop. (Credit: Jemal Countess/NBC)

Trump Gets It Wrong: Lester Holt is a Republican

In Donald Trump’s opinion, if the moderator of a presidential debate belongs to the same political party as one of the candidates, it gives that party’s candidate an unfair advantage,” Eric Levitz reported Tuesday for New York magazine.

“ ‘By the way, Lester is a Democrat,’ Trump said of NBC’s Lester Holt, who will moderate the first presidential debate, in an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Monday. ‘It’s a phony system. They are all Democrats. It’s a very unfair system.’

“But, as Time noted on Tuesday, Holt has actually been registered as a Republican in New York State since 2003.

“The third debate’s moderator, Fox News’s Chris Wallace, is a registered Democrat. But Wallace explains his party affiliation as a product of pragmatism, not ideology — with local politics dominated by Democrats in D.C., to register as a Republican would prevent him from voting in decisive municipal primaries.

“As a resident of the Empire State, Lester Holt has no such excuse. And no other debate moderator appears to have a registered party affiliation. . . .”

Holt has not spoken of his party affiliation. “I tried to ask him about his voter registration and debate prep at Tuesday night’s ‘Dateline’ 25th anniversary party, and he politely declined to say anything,” Brian Stelter reported in his “Reliable Sources” newsletter for CNN Money. ” (Even off the record.)

“. . . Holt did get loud at the party though — with his bass — performing with his band on the Ink48 rooftop. His wife told me the band is a stress reliever for him. Maybe he’ll bring the bass to Hofstra ;-). . . .”

. . . Poll Favors Cooper Over Holt as Moderator

“A Morning Consult national tracking poll [PDF] of registered voters asked ‘Which debate moderator do you think will host the best debate overall?Mark Joyella reported Tuesday for TVNewser. Thirty-eight percent had no opinion, but of those who named a moderator, Cooper was first choice, with 28 percent. NBC’s Lester Holt and FNC’s Chris Wallace were tied with 15 percent each, and ABC’s Martha Raddatz was last, at 8 percent.

“Voters picked Cooper as the moderator who would ask the toughest questions (28 percent), followed by Wallace (18 percent), Holt (13 percent) and Raddatz (9 percent).

“And Cooper was first choice for the moderator who would show the least bias in either direction (22 percent), followed by Holt (17 percent), Wallace (15 percent) and Raddatz (9 percent). . . .”

In Which Case Is the N-Word Appropriate?

The controversial boxing promoter Don King used the N-word while introducing Donald Trump during an event Wednesday at a church,” as Jeremy Diamond reported for CNN, and found himself bleeped on the television network news. But the same word showed up unedited in the New York Times print edition on Sunday.

Meanwhile, television producer David Simon, who is white, insisted that he rightfully used the word (in the version ending in “a”) to get in a jab at Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

In King’s case, he argued that African Americans cannot achieve success by emulating white people, as they will remain “Negroes.”

Don King unloads the N-word (Credit: CNN)

Don King unloads the N-word (Credit: CNN)

“If you’re poor, you are a poor Negro — I would use the n-word — but if you’re rich, you are a rich Negro. If you are intelligent, intellectual, you are intellectual Negro. If you are a dancing and sliding and gliding n***** — I mean Negro — you are a dancing and sliding and gliding Negro,” King said, laughing along with the crowd after the slip-up. ‘You’re going to be a Negro ’til you die,’ ” CNN reported, lower-casing “Negro.”

In the Times magazine, cultural critic Wesley Morris, a black journalist, wrote an essay headlined, “Colin Kaepernick and the Question of Who Gets to Be Called a ‘Patriot.’ ”

“Kaepernick was called a nigger on social media and actually had to explain that, despite dating a Muslim woman, he has not converted to Islam,” Morris wrote. “He was also invited, by the likes of Donald Trump, to consider leaving the country. . . .”

Asked for the Times policy on use of the word, Phil Corbett, standards editor at the Times, told Journal-isms by email, “We try to keep the bar pretty high — racial slurs and other ugly or offensive language should not routinely be used in our stories, inside or outside quotations. But we make exceptions case by case when we think the use of the slur is central to the story in question. In this case, the writer and editor made a strong argument for including it, and I agreed.”

Corbett said he would be glad to hear Journal-isms’ view.

What do you, the reader, think? (Respond here)

Meanwhile, Brian Josephs reported Tuesday for Spin, “Last night, Simon learned that Fox troll Sean Hannity will join Republican candidate Donald Trump in a town hall meeting held in a Cleveland black church. Joking about this is like dynamiting the proverbial fish-filled barrel, owing to their well-documented willful ignorance of African-American issues, but it only took one tweet for Simon to turn himself into the butt of the joke:

“Of course, he got blasted on Twitter, because of a very simple yet often violated concept: Don’t jokingly use racial slurs if you’re a white guy. But Simon, stubborn man that he is, decided to die on this hill. Rather than owning up to the awkward quip, he started to tweet through it, defending himself by claiming he was satirizing Hannity’s efforts to connect with black people. . . .”

Allister Sparks, Anti-Apartheid Editor, Dies at 83

Allister Sparks, a prominent South African journalist who challenged apartheid and exposed a covert propaganda campaign by his government, leading to the president’s downfall, died on Monday in Johannesburg,” Sam Roberts wrote Tuesday for the New York Times. “He was 83.

Allister Sparks

Allister Sparks

“The cause was heart failure after an infection, his son Michael said.

“Mr. Sparks was the crusading editor of The Rand Daily Mail, the major voice of liberal opposition to the white Pretoria government and a champion of majority rule, when he revealed that the apartheid opponent Steve Biko had been beaten to death by the police in 1977.

“His paper later exposed a secret offensive by the authorities against the mainstream news media in which a slush fund was used to establish a government-friendly newspaper, The Citizen, to counter The Rand Daily Mail and to buy stakes in other publications. That revelation led to the resignation of President John Vorster in 1979.

“In 1981, with The Rand Daily Mail ailing financially, the owners fired Mr. Sparks as part of an effort, he said, to ‘lower the paper’s voice and to shift the emphasis more toward white readers and less toward black readers.’ The newspaper went out of business in 1985.

“Mr. Sparks went on to become what he described as a war correspondent in South Africa for The Washington Post and The Observer in Britain, covering the violence that erupted between the government and the United Democratic Front, the leading anti-apartheid group. . . .”

Narisetti Named CEO of Gizmodo, Formerly Gawker

Univision Communications has tapped media and journalism veteran Raju Narisetti as CEO of the newly named Gizmodo Media Group, encompassing the six brands it acquired from Gawker Media for $135 million in a bankruptcy proceeding,” Todd Spangler reported Wednesday for Variety.

Raju Narisetti

Raju Narisetti

“Narisetti is currently senior VP of strategy at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, where he has overseen acquisitions and digital-growth strategy since 2013. He’s set to officially join Univision in late October.

“As CEO of Gizmodo Media Group, Narisetti will be responsible for managing all business and editorial operations Gizmodo, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, car-culture-focused Jalopnik and gaming destination Kotaku.

“Narisetti will be based in New York, reporting to Isaac Lee, Univision’s chief news, digital and entertainment officer of UCI, and Felipe Holguin, president and COO of Fusion Media Group (under which the Gizmodo Media Group operates).

Narisetti, one of the top ranking American journalists of South Asian background, has also been editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe, European editor of the “global” Journal, and managing editor of Mint, a national business paper published in India in partnership with the Journal.

The battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline has drawn thousands of Native Americans and activists to North Dakota to camp and demonstrate. (Credit: Michelle Zacarias/People's World)

The battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline has drawn thousands of Native Americans and activists to North Dakota to camp and demonstrate. (Credit: Michelle Zacarias/People’s World)

Pipeline Battle Is Also Over Who Tells the Story

It always amazes how different people can look at the same set of facts, an event, or even a conversation and walk away with completely different impressions,” Mark Trahant wrote Monday for indianz.com.

“Then in four decades of reporting I have never seen a story with as wide a gulf over what is occurring at Standing Rock.

“The government of North Dakota sees this extraordinary event as a minor glitch in their rush toward more profits from North Dakota oil. And so many of the characterizations are written as if none of the top government officials — you know the governor, members of Congress, the state’s power structure — have ever been to the site that they know so much about. But that’s me being generous: They have not been there and they are clear about their intentions to never go.

“That’s why this is a fight about story. And who gets to tell it? . . .”

The prairie battle that has drawn thousands of Native Americans and activists to camp and demonstrate was discussed at the 2016 Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans this week, Blake Skylar reported Tuesday for People’s World. The Native American Journalists Association is a participant in the conference.

Journalists discussed the double-edged sword currently pointed at Native American communities: on one hand, they must contend with the ravaging of their reservations and culture; on the other, mainstream media either ignores or misrepresents their struggles,” Skylar wrote. “Journalists and indigenous activists gathered at this event, organized by the Society of Professional Journalists, to solve both problems. . . .”

Tech Companies Loom Large at ONA Conference

While the war between the presidential candidates and the press rages on, more than 1,000 journalists gathered last week at the 2016 Online News Association conference in Denver for a conversation on the future of journalism,” Nausicaa Renner reported Monday for Columbia Journalism Review.

“Here are five takeaways from the conference:

“Facebook was dominant . . .

“Publishers are desperate to connect. . . .

“Tech companies are lining up to help journalists find that audience. . .

“The buzzword is monetization. . . .

“Trump is still the 10,000-pound gorilla in the room. . . .”

Also at the conference, ONA announced Sept. 15 it will join with the Google News Lab and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help newsrooms experiment with and advance the field of immersive storytelling. “The project, called Journalism 360, will use grants, workshops, webinars and online resources to support a network of journalists using 360 video, augmented and virtual reality for storytelling. . . .”

In addition, five major foundations announced nearly $1 million to support the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, a micro-grant contest that encourages universities to create teams to experiment with new ways of providing news and information. ONA runs the program, Jeremiah Patterson reported for ONA on Sept. 15.

In Pittsburgh, More of Color Left Than Were Hired

The Pittsburgh Black Media Federation on Wednesday unveiled the results of a survey examining “issues related to diversity and inclusion within Pittsburgh-area newsrooms” [PDF] and accompanied the presentation with a panel discussion featuring Washington Post reporters Wesley Lowery and Keith Alexander (video).

“For this study, the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation sent out surveys to 24 local newsrooms within the Pittsburgh region, as defined by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance,” its report said.

“We received completed surveys from 10 newsrooms, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh City Paper, and Beaver County Times.

“None of the major broadcast or radio stations we asked to participate — WPXI, WTAE, WESA, WQED, KQV or KDKA  – completed a survey. None accepted our invitation to participate. The survey asked questions related to three areas — newsroom diversity, diversity recruitment, and ethics and diversity.

  • “People of color make up about 13% of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area. On average, they make up only 9% of workers among the newsrooms surveyed.
  • “People of color make up about 20% of the population in Allegheny County, and 35% of Pittsburgh’s population. On average, they make up about 10% of workers among the newsrooms surveyed in Allegheny County.
  • “Asians and Latinos each make up only 1% of workers within the newsrooms surveyed.
  • “Only one newsroom, The Pittsburgh City Paper, has any reporters of color assigned to cover issues related to criminal justice, education or urban neighborhoods. The Tribune-Review has a single reporter of color assigned to cover government issues.
  • “More people of color left the newsrooms surveyed than were hired over the past two years.
  • “No newsroom surveyed had a specific plan in place for the recruitment of newsroom workers of color.
  • “No newsroom requires diversity training of its employees.
  • “No newsroom had a meeting to discuss issues of diversity with regard to coverage and newsroom climate in the past two years.
  • “No newsroom had a formal editor or community group designed to review coverage of communities of color. . . .”

The study’s lead author was Dr. Letrell Crittenden, assistant professor of communication at Robert Morris University and parliamentarian and Diversity Committee co-chair for the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation.

Short Takes

Facebook users: “Like” “Richard Prince’s Journal-isms” on Facebook.

Follow Richard Prince on Twitter @princeeditor

Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince at journal-isms-owner@yahoogroups.com

To be notified of new columns, contact journal-isms-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and tell us who you are.