Returning Dec. 28

A&E Learns KKK Members Were Compensated

O’Reilly Casts Himself as Spokesman for Whites

Sinclair Group, While Denying Deal, Favored Trump

K.C. Star Rebuilding Editorial Page After Wipeout

CNN’s V.P. for Diversity Leaves as Lawsuits Mount

Editor, Publisher Out at Chicago Defender

NABJ Chapter Leader Named AME at Star Tribune

Chan Named Seattle Times V.P. for Innovation

Obama Says Fox Put Barrier Between Him, Whites

Short Takes

The documentary series 'Generation KKK' is now 'Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America.' (Credit: A&E)

The documentary series “Generation KKK” became ‘Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America” before being scrapped. (Credit: A&E)

A&E Learns KKK Members Were Compensated

A&E said it would no longer move forward with ‘Escaping the KKK,’ a controversial documentary series that purported to examine the plight of people seeking to extricate themselves from the hate group known as the Ku Klux Klan, citing a recent discovery that producers involved with the show had made financial payments to some of the subjects involved with the program,” Brian Steinberg reported Saturday for Variety.

“The network said it had learned from producers Friday night that ‘cash payments — which we currently understand to be nominal — were made in the field to some participants in order to facilitate access,’ in a prepared statement released just hours before the start of Christmas Eve.

” ‘While we stand behind the intent of the series and the seriousness of the content, these payments are a direct violation of A&E’s policies and practices for a documentary. We had previously provided assurances to the public and to our core partners – including the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change – that no payment was made to hate group members, and we believed that to be the case at the time. We have now decided not to move forward with airing this project.’

“A spokesperson for the network was unable to say whether producers might try to find another media outlet to show the series.

“The cancellation marks what would seem to be the final step of a gradual backtracking from the effort by the network, which is part of A+E Television, a media company owned jointly by Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp. The program has generated adverse publicity since the network unveiled it, despite what executives had hoped would be become a powerful look at hate-groups in the United States.

“Just yesterday, the network changed the name of the eight-part documentary series, which had originally been titled, ‘Generation KKK.’ . . .”

Steinberg also wrote, “Cancellation of the series suggests American viewers have grown more sensitive to hate-group activity in the wake of the recent U.S. presidential election. The election of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th President has lent new energy to several groups that espouse racism and white nationalism.

“Other networks that have explored similar topics in the recent past have not met with similar reaction. In April, Time Warner’s CNN launched a documentary series, ‘United Shades of America,’ led by comedian and activist W. Kamau Bell. The first episode showed the host who is African American, meeting with KKK members in a rural setting. . . .” [Updated Dec. 24]

Bill O’Reilly says on “The O’Reilly Factor” Tuesday that attempts to abolish the Electoral College are aimed at disempowering whites.

O’Reilly Casts Himself as Spokesman for Whites

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly went on a white supremacism-laden rant Tuesday night, saying that the effort to abolish the Electoral College is an attempt by ‘the left’ to take away power from the ‘white establishment,‘ “ Emily C. Singer reported Wednesday for

“O’Reilly went on to denounce Democrats for being ‘reliant on the minority vote and female voters’ in their electoral coalition.

” ‘The left wants power taken away from the white establishment and they want a profound change in the way America is run,’ he said on his show, the O’Reilly Factor. ‘Taking voting power away from the white precincts is the quickest way to do that.’

“Throughout his rant, O’Reilly discounted the notion that ‘so-called white privilege’ even exists, and said the left’s focus on race and diversity is why ‘white men have largely abandoned the Democrats.’ . . .”

Erik Wemple added Wednesday in the Washington Post  that “the King of Cable News circled back to the issue as part of a ‘Talking Points Memo’ addressing calls to fold the electoral college. It’s a newsworthy topic, considering that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2 percent yet took a beating on the tally that matters.

” ‘The Electoral College, which is written into the Constitution, is more than just a vestige of the founding era; it is a living symbol of America’s original sin,’ editorialized the New York Times on Monday.

“ ‘When slavery was the law of the land, a direct popular vote would have disadvantaged the Southern states, with their large disenfranchised populations. Counting those men and women as three-fifths of a white person, as the Constitution originally did, gave the slave states more electoral votes.’ . . .”


Credit: Bill Mitchell

Credit: Bill Mitchell

Sinclair Group, While Denying Deal, Favored Trump

Over four days in early August, Donald Trump gave interviews to four TV stations in Ohio, Florida and Maine, and to the Washington bureau of a national TV chain,” Paul Farhi reported Thursday for the Washington Post.

“The interviews were a coup for the stations, which eagerly promoted their ‘one-on-one’ encounters with the GOP nominee. They were also an effective way for Trump to target voting blocs in key states, particularly since he had begun limiting his national media exposure largely to friendly interviewers on Fox News.

“The most striking thing about the interviews, however, may be that one company was behind all of them: Sinclair Broadcast Group. The Maryland-based company is the nation’s largest owner of TV stations, with 173 in 81 cities nationwide, including those that interviewed Trump in August. The Washington bureau was Sinclair’s, too; it provided its interview with Trump to Sinclair’s many stations for their newscasts.

“Sinclair, which has drawn criticism for favoring conservative candidates before, says it had no special arrangement with Trump’s campaign and that it didn’t favor him at the expense of his main rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton. It also said it offered equal time to Clinton and solicited interviews with her throughout the campaign, but her managers responded less enthusiastically than Trump.

“A Sinclair spokeswoman says the company reached out to the Clinton camp roughly 30 times over the course of the campaign but never secured a sit-down with the candidate.

“Those statements appear to be at odds with comments made last week by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a key adviser. In a speech to business executives in New York, Kushner said Trump’s campaign struck a deal with Sinclair to provide access and coverage, according to an account of the address by Politico. Kushner reportedly said that Sinclair’s stations, particularly in swing states such as Ohio and Florida, reached a far greater audience in their local area than a national network like CNN could. ‘It’s math,’ he said. . . .”

Farhi also wrote, “A review of Sinclair’s reporting and internal documents shows a strong tilt toward Trump. Sinclair gave a disproportionate amount of neutral or favorable coverage to Trump during the campaign while often casting Clinton in an unfavorable light. . . . ”

K.C. Star Rebuilding Editorial Page After Wipeout

After nearly 40 years as a reporter, editor, columnist and editorial board member at the Kansas City Star, Lewis W. Diuguid left the newspaper in October. Toriano Porter of the Star reported last week that Diuguid has been selected as a Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Lewis W. Diuguid

Lewis W. Diuguid

What the story did not say was that the departure of Diuguid and fellow long-term editorial writer Yael T. Abouhalkah left the editorial board devoid of diversity and nearly devoid of bodies.

“Lewis and I left on Oct. 7,” Abouhalkah messaged Journal-isms on Friday. “That essentially dissolved The Star’s editorial writing crew. The publisher, who doesn’t write editorials, was the sole editorial board member until the new editorial page editor arrived this month.”

Dan Margolies reported on Sept. 26 for KCUR-FM, “Abouhalkah was among at least three Kansas City Star newsroom employees to lose their jobs today. . . . Abouhalkah’s departure currently leaves The Star with just one editorial page employee, Lewis Diuguid.” Diuguid left soon after that story. His visiting fellowship, to begin in February, follows his selection by the Nieman class of 2017 as recipient of the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.

Abouhalkah, born to a Lebanese father and an American mother, spent 37 years at the Star and now writes a local opinion blog, “Yael on the Trail.” At the Star, he “was among its most prolific and best-known writers,” Margolies wrote.

The good news for Star readers is that the new editorial page editor, Colleen McCain Nelson, says she is

Yael Abouhalkah

Yael Abouhalkah

rebuilding the editorial page staff and that “Diversity is an important consideration in this process.” Nelson she has an opening for at least one editorial writer.

“I’ve just arrived in Kansas City in the last couple weeks, and I’m now working on building out the opinion-page staff,” Nelson emailed Journal-isms on Friday. “I’ll be making staffing announcements during the next few weeks. We’ve posted jobs, and I’m making both internal and external hires. I’m thrilled that some great journalists will be joining the editorial board. Please stay tuned.”

Nelson covered the just-concluded presidential race as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and was part of a three-person team that won a Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing in 2010 for the Dallas Morning News.

She added, “I’m still working my way through the hiring process, so I may need to delay providing some additional details until final decisions are made. But we’re going to have a robust and well staffed editorial board that will include some writers from within The Star and others who are external hires. Diversity is an important consideration in this process, and I also am aiming to assemble a team that includes a wide range of viewpoints.

“I have made some decisions but am still considering candidates for at least one position, so please feel free to send any suggestions my way. I am eager to circulate our job posting far and wide. It’s a great opportunity!”

CNN’s V.P. for Diversity Leaves as Lawsuits Mount

Geraldine Moriba

Geraldine Moriba

Geraldine Moriba, the CNN Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, is leaving the company,” Rodney Ho reported Dec. 15 for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“This move has happened a week after former and current employees filed a class-action lawsuit against CNN, Turner Broadcasting and parent company Time Warner for racial discrimination.

“There are other individual racial discrimination lawsuits against CNN as well.

“An executive producer for program development, the New York-based Moriba was hired in 2013 by CNN president Jeff Zucker to preside over CNN’s 13-year-old Diversity Council. She was an executive producer at the company for seven years and produced CNN’s ‘In America’ documentaries hosted by Soledad O’Brien.

“ ‘In 2016 under Geraldine’s watch,’ Zucker wrote in a memo this morning, ‘CNN attained its highest diverse audience levels ever and ranks number one across cable news with Black, Hispanic and Asian viewers.’

“Zucker said Moriba will be launching Moriba Media, ‘taking her passion for great journalism on the road. Among her first projects will be a scripted film, a podcast and, of course, more documentaries.’ . . . ”

Moriba said in the CNN statement, “The last seven years at CNN  I’ve had the honor of leading the charge of addressing issues of accountability and inclusion, while producing content that matters. My success at CNN now fuels my desire to keep innovating and contributing to our storytelling economy, this time independently. I couldn’t be more excited!”

A CNN spokeswoman told Journal-isms on Friday that the network would name a successor to Moriba.

Cheryl Mainor waves during a Chicago tradition, August's Bud Billiken Day parade. (Credit: Twitter)

Cheryl Mainor waves during a Chicago tradition, August’s Bud Billiken Day parade. (Credit: Twitter)

Editor, Publisher Out at Chicago Defender

Leadership of the 111-year-old Chicago Defender newspaper operation is in flux after the exit of the weekly’s publisher and executive editor,” Lynne Marek reported Thursday for Crain’s Chicago Business.

Hiram Eric Jackson, majority owner of the African-American paper’s parent, Real Times Media of Detroit, confirmed that Publisher Cheryl Mainor and Executive Editor Kai EL’ Zabar resigned and said that a former Defender sales director, Frances Jackson (no relation), has been named interim publisher. No new editor has been named, he said. Mainor and EL’ Zabar had led the paper since 2014.

Kai El Zabar

Kai EL’ Zabar

“Jackson and Mainor said in separate interviews that they had different views on the direction they wanted to take the Defender operation, which also sponsors events and includes a website and social media presence.

“The paper’s history reaches back to its role fueling and being fueled by the Great Migration of Southern blacks to Northern cities starting in World War I. Mainor said the owner was more focused on building up business events and less interested in satisfying her efforts to sustain the paper’s editorial content. ‘We definitely shook out along those lines,’ she said.

“Still, Jackson said he remains committed to all aspects of the Defender operation, including its weekly newspaper, and to the Chicago market as a ‘premier’ part of his business that he expects to grow. The operation in Chicago currently has about 10 people and he expects eventually to have 15, despite two additional job cuts last week beyond the leaders. . . .”

EL’ Zabar was named top editor in 2014.

The next year, Meribah Knight reported in the New York Times about El’ Zabar’s efforts to reinvigorate the paper.
Mainor was the first woman in the publisher’s role. “Since Ms. Mainor took the helm, she says she has returned the paper to profitability and generated fresh revenue streams with new print and digital products,” Knight wrote.

NABJ Chapter Leader Named AME at Star Tribune

Maria Reeve

Maria Reeve

At the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis, the new assistant managing editor for news, the newsroom’s largest department, is also president of Twin Cities Black Journalists, local affiliate of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Maria Reeve, promoted at the Star Tribune last month, sees her NABJ role as an advantage. “I would hope if any members have a problem with the Star Tribune, we could have a reasonable discussion over the issue,” she messaged Journal-isms on Friday.

“Having been in the market for nearly 25 years, I think I have built a rapport with a number of people, veterans and those new to our newsroom.” She said she would remain president of the Twin Cities chapter “at least until it becomes unmanageable or the end of the year,” 2017. Reeves also said, “I feel like we have a great team in place.”

Before she arrived at the Star Tribune in 2011, Reeve, 49, spent 18 years as an editor and reporter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

For the past three years, she has served as the paper’s deputy metro editor and made her mark in helping to create strong local news coverage and as a mentor for young metro reporters,” the Star Tribune said in its Nov. 19 announcement. She previously led the Star Tribune’s St. Paul and east metro coverage and served as a features editor. . . .”

Reeve succeeds Eric Wieffering, who was promoted to deputy managing editor for enterprise and investigations.

Chan Named Seattle Times V.P. for Innovation

Sharon Pian Chan

Sharon Pian Chan

Sharon Pian Chan has been named vice president of innovation, product and development for The Seattle Times, effective January 2017,” the Times announced on Wednesday. “She first joined The Seattle Times as an intern and spent many years as a reporter covering global institutions rooted in Seattle such as Microsoft and T-Mobile.

“The position is new to The Times and unique in the industry. It brings, under one umbrella, The Seattle Times’ innovation in developing non-traditional funding for impact journalism with the newspaper’s evolving capacity to create new products and services for digital, engagement and print platforms.

“Chan currently fills both the positions of director of journalism initiatives and deputy managing editor for audience development.

“In her new role, Chan will continue to lead content funding and development as well as maintain funder relationships. A new director of development for public service journalism, reporting to Chan, will be hired soon.

“She will also lead the Times’ product team in building innovative products to distribute Seattle Times content, engage readers and acquire subscribers. Additionally, Chan will take on the responsibility of managing Business Intelligence, a group using data insights to drive business success. . . .”

Chan was national president of the Asian American Journalists Association in 2009-10. (video)

In his January/February 2017 cover story in the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores President Obama’s journey to the White House. The magazine produced this short animation, using recordings from Coates’ conversations with Obama to illustrate the president’s doubts and convictions along the way.

Obama Says Fox Put Barrier Between Him, Whites

In the first transcript of four interviews President Obama gave to Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic for a 17,000-word piece in the magazine’s January/February issue, the president said the “concentrated vilification of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the whole conservative-media ecosystem,” combined with the decline of local newspapers, made it more difficult for the white electorate to see him unfiltered.

“. . . I think I should point out in terms of both my confidence that I could win in ’08 but also the fact that I was lucky and maybe a little bit naive: In 2008 I was never subjected to the kind of concentrated vilification of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the whole conservative-media ecosystem, and so as a consequence, even for my first two years as a senator I was polling at 70 percent,” Obama told Coates.

“And it was because people basically saw me unfiltered. I was at a town-hall meeting, or I was talking to people directly, or they had met me, or I would speak at a university or go to a VFW hall. But they weren’t seeing some image of me as trying to take away their stuff and give it to black people, and coddle criminals, and all the stereotypes of not just African American politicians but liberal politicians.

“You started to see that kind of prism being established towards the end of the 2008 race, particularly once Sarah Palin was the nominee. And obviously almost immediately after I was elected, it was deployed in full force. And it had an impact in terms of how a large portion of white voters would see me.

“And what that speaks to — and this is something I still strongly believe — is that the suspicion between races, the way it can manifest itself in politics, in part comes out of people’s daily interactions and the fact that we’re segregated by communities, and by schools, and our churches, and people’s memories passed down through generations. But some of it is constructed on a constant basis; it’s being created all the time.

“And I think what I did not fully appreciate when I first came into this office was the degree to which that reality would be the only thing that a large chunk of the electorate, particularly the white electorate, would see.

“You know, Bill Clinton told me an interesting story. He went back to Arkansas with a former aide of his when he was governor and when he was running, who ended up running for Congress and was about to retire from Congress. This was one of the last blue dogs.

“And as they were traveling around, this former member of Congress said to Bill, ‘You know, I don’t think you could win Arkansas today.’ And he said, ‘Well, why not?’ He says, ‘You know, when we used to run, you and I would drive around to these small towns and communities out there, and you’d meet with the publisher and editor of the little small-town paper, and you’d have a conversation with them. And they were fairly knowledgeable about some of the issues, and they had their quirks and blind spots, but basically you as a Democrat could talk about civil rights and the need to invest in communities and they understood that.

” ‘Except now those papers are all gone and if you go into any bar, you go into any barbershop, the only thing that’s on is Fox News.’ And it has shaped an entire generation of voters and tapped into their deepest anxieties …”

Short Takes

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