N.Y. Times Vet Cites Challenge of Covering Trump

2 Dozen Claim Racial Discrimination at CNN, TBS

Claire Smith Wins Award for Top Baseball Writer

L.A. Times’ Maharaj Described as Mean-Spirited

Charlotte Observer Calls Carson ‘a Terrible Pick’

On Campaign Trail, All Many Saw Was Her Religion

Donations Pour Into Nonprofit Journalism

Hung Jury Again Tests Confidence in Justice System

Asian Americans Want More Leadership Training

Short Takes

Lydia Polgreen (Credit: Damon Winter/New York Times)

Lydia Polgreen (Credit: Damon Winter/New York Times)

N.Y. Times Vet Cites Challenge of Covering Trump

Lydia Polgreen, a New York Times associate masthead editor who grew up in West Africa and covered the continent as a foreign correspondent, has been named editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, Michael Calderone reported Tuesday for the Huffington Post.

Polgreen, 41, will succeed Arianna Huffington, the news site’s namesake co-founder who left the company in August to launch Thrive Global, a company and website focused on health and wellness,” Calderone wrote. She is editorial director of NYT Global and joins a tiny number of African Americans leading mainstream websites. Carlos Watson is co-founder and CEO of OZY.com.

“In an interview, Polgreen said it was difficult leaving the Times, where she spent nearly 15 years, but that the role at HuffPost was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,’ ” Calderone wrote.

“ ‘I feel like we’re living in a moment right now where media has to fundamentally rethink its position vis-a-vis power,’ she said. ‘I think that the election of Donald Trump and the basic difficulty that the media had in anticipating it tells us something really profound about the echo chamber in which we live, the ways in which journalism has failed to reach beyond its own inner limits.’ . . .”

Sydney Ember of the New York Times added, “As The Huffington Post’s top editor, Ms. Polgreen said her main challenge was to ‘get The Huffington Post back in touch with its fundamental roots in reporting.’ She also said she wanted to guide the publication in the language it would use to cover the Trump administration. . . .”

Calderone continued, “Polgreen described HuffPost as a ‘truly great global, progressive news platform,’ though not in a purely political sense. She said the site has the ‘potential and the possibility of really meeting this populist moment that we’re living in and meeting people where they actually are.’

“ ‘The DNA of The Huffington Post is fundamentally progressive, but I think that has a really capacious meaning and comes to include so many of the things that motivated not just the people who were rah rah Bernie or who voted for Hillary Clinton, but also many, many people in the United States who voted for Trump, who have fundamental concerns about the way the country is moving and the future,’ she said.

“Originally launched in 2005 as a progressive alternative to the Drudge Report, HuffPost has grown into a Pulitzer Prize-winning news and opinion site boasting 17 international editions, including its most recent launch in South Africa.

“Polgreen has extensive international experience, including serving as the Times’ West Africa bureau chief, South Asia bureau chief and Johannesburg bureau chief, where she covered major events such as the death of Nelson Mandela. She has also served as deputy international editor and helped oversee the launch of The New York Times en Español. In April, Polgreen became editorial director for NYT Global, part of a $50 million investment to grow the paper’s reach into multiple international markets.

“Polgreen described how growing up in West Africa, she remembered ‘watching history unfold and feeling profoundly unconnected.’ . . .”

Ember added in the Times: “Her departure comes as The Times is shifting to its next generation of leadership. In September, it elevated Joseph Kahn to the position of managing editor, positioning him as a leading candidate to succeed Dean Baquet, the executive editor. Ms. Polgreen was widely considered to be on a path to further advancement at The Times as it moved to a future built around digital and international initiatives.

“ ‘Lydia Polgreen is a highly creative journalist,’ Mr. Baquet said. ‘She will do great things, and I have to admit to a certain pride that The Huffington Post saw the value of hiring one of The Times’s great young stars.’ . . .”

Ember also wrote, “The Huffington Post was purchased by AOL in 2011 for $315 million. AOL sold itself to Verizon for $4.4 billion in 2015. . . .”

2 Dozen Claim Racial Discrimination at CNN, TBS

A new court filing alleges that Turner employees faced racial discrimination that held them back in their careers and led to at least one former assistant being fired,” Ronn Blitzer reported Wednesday for lawnewz.com.

Daniel Meachum

Daniel Meachum

“Roughly two dozen current and former employees of CNN and TBS (both owned by Turner) claim that there is a systematic problem with ‘discriminatory practices being implemented throughout all of Turner’s Networks [sic],’ according to a complaint filed Tuesday evening.

“The complaint cites statistics showing that black employees at Turner are promoted at a much lower rate than whites. The lawsuit alleges that this ‘can only be attributed to the fact that Turner, specifically CNN has implemented formal [emphasis in original] written and unwritten policies and practices regarding promotions[.]’ The attorney who filed the complaint, Daniel Meachum, told LawNewz.com that the statistics were gathered by Turner themselves as part of an internal study.

“Black employees also historically received lower scores on their evaluations, according to the complaint. ‘There is no objective factor other than race that can explain this disparity, since performance is not linked to job title or education,’ it alleges.

“One of the named plaintiffs, Ernie Colbert Jr., claims that in 19 years of working at TBS, he has only been promoted twice, and was paid less than his white coworkers. The other named plaintiff, Celeslie Henley, alleges that she suffered discrimination, and then lost her job after she complained. Henley claims that after she received discriminatory treatment from white managers, she complained to human resources, and was promptly terminated five days later. . . .”

On TVOne’s “News One Now” on Thursday, host Roland Martin, a former CNN contributor, said he had been asked to supply a deposition. Meachum told Martin he had received 45 calls from others asking whether they could join the class-action suit. He said he was surprised by “the number of people who had the same story” across departments and that  “there is a lot  of fear, a lot of pain, a lot of frustration in the workforce currently.”


On the “PBS NewsHour” on Wednesday, Judy Woodruff spoke with Claire Smith about the player who got her interested in baseball, her lifelong love of storytelling and her one bad day covering the sport. (video)

Claire Smith Wins Award for Top Baseball Writer

Claire Smith, the first African-American female newspaper reporter to cover Major League Baseball on a daily basis, has won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, the top honor for a baseball writer,” ESPN reported Tuesday, citing news services.

“The Spink Award goes to a writer for ‘meritorious contributions to baseball writing’ and is presented during Hall of Fame Weekend, July 28-31, 2017, in Cooperstown, New York. The announcement, based on balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, was made Tuesday during the winter meetings.

“Smith, who received 272 votes from 449 ballots, including three blanks, represented the New York chapter of the BBWAA. . . .”

L.A. Times’ Maharaj Described as Mean-Spirited

Davan Maharaj, named editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times five years ago and in March also made publisher, is the subject of a 5,200-word piece in Los Angeles magazine that accuses him of “feckless and sometimes mean-spirited editorial leadership.”

Davan Maharaj

Davan Maharaj

Ed Leibowitz wrote Wednesday, “In the past five years the paper has published works of journalism as hard-hitting as any out there. But something is amiss inside the historic Los Angeles Times building at 1st and Spring streets. And that something has as much to do with ego, insecurity, and warped priorities as it does with market forces and the changing media-consumption habits of Angelenos.

“. . . After five years of Maharaj at the helm, the newsroom has been overtaken by fear, and more editorial staffers have departed than Tribune’s executives have mandated. . . .”

Leibowitz also wrote, “For more than half a year Maharaj had been unavailable to talk. Hours before this article went to press,” Hillary Manning, Times communications director, “sent this statement from him via e-mail:

” ‘We are in very challenging times in the newspaper business. My job is to make sure we produce quality journalism for our readers. Yes, that means I have to make difficult decisions. Running a newspaper isn’t a popularity contest. We and I should be judged by the quality of our work, and by that standard the Los Angeles Times has done very well in the past five years. Our journalism speaks for itself, and it speaks loudly.’ ”

"It’s easy to see what Trump and Carson get out of the deal," the Charlotte Observer editorialized.

“It’s easy to see what Trump and Carson get out of the deal,” the Charlotte Observer editorialized.

Charlotte Observer Calls Carson ‘a Terrible Pick’

At rally after campaign rally, Donald Trump voiced outrage while describing the hellish conditions of inner-city America,” the Charlotte Observer editorialized on Wednesday. “Again and again, he promised to fix those crime-riddled neighborhoods, and his adoring crowds cheered him on.

“Now we can see just how insincere he was. Ben Carson, an unquestionably brilliant neurosurgeon, is a terrible pick to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He knows little about housing policy. Supporters said he’d have special insight from having lived in public housing as a child, but even that flimsy rationale fell apart. Carson didn’t grow up in public housing.

“Also puzzling is the fact that earlier, as speculation swirled that Carson might be named health and human services secretary, the former presidential hopeful demurred, saying he’d be a ‘fish out of water’ running a large federal bureaucracy. He apparently changed his mind for HUD, despite its $47 billion budget and 8,300 employees.

“Odd as all of this appears, it’s easy to see what Trump and Carson get out of the deal.

“Trump gets a high-profile African American conservative to serve as a human anti-racism shield once he and Republicans in Congress tick off civil rights groups by cutting funding for HUD and other social programs to pay for new defense spending and corporate tax cuts. It’s also easy to envision Trump, who was sued by the Justice Department for housing discrimination, watering down HUD’s fight against housing bias.

“Carson, for his part, gets to dodge the messy task of dismantling Obamacare. Instead, he gains a federal bully pulpit to lecture the poor about one of his favorite subjects — the evils of what he considers over-dependence on government assistance. . . .”

On “Democracy, Now!” Wednesday, Jumaane Williams, a New York council member who chairs the city’s Housing and Buildings Committee, said the choice of Carson was “ill-advised, irresponsible and hovers on absurdity.”

The Presidential Transition Team Communications Office issued a release with praise for Carson from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Scott Olson, executive director, Community Home Lenders Association; William Brown, president, National Association of Realtors; David Stevens, president and CEO, Mortgage Bankers Association; Ed Brady, chairman, National Association of Home Builders; the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and National Apartment Association (NAA); Chris Estes, president and CEO, National Housing Conference; and former Rep. Rick Lazio, R-N.Y.

 NPR reporter Asma Khalid during a live broadcast. (Credit: Ariel Zambelich/NPR)

NPR reporter Asma Khalid during a live broadcast. She covered demographics and the 2016 campaign. (Credit: Ariel Zambelich/NPR)

On Campaign Trail, All Many Saw Was Her Religion

Sometime in early 2016 between a Trump rally in New Hampshire, where a burly man shouted something at me about being Muslim, and a series of particularly vitriolic tweets that included some combination of ‘raghead,’ ‘terrorist,’ ‘bitch’ and ‘jihadi,’ I went into my editor’s office and wept,” Asma Khalid reported Wednesday for NPR.

“I cried for the first (but not the last) time this campaign season.

“Through tears, I told her that if I had known my sheer existence — just the idea of being Muslim — would be a debatable issue in the 2016 election, I would never have signed up to do this job.

“To friends and family, I looked like a masochist. But I was too invested to quit.

“I was hired by NPR to cover the intersection of demographics and politics. My job required crisscrossing the country to talk to all kinds of voters. I attended rallies and town halls for nearly every candidate on both sides of the aisle, and I met people in their homes, churches and diners.

“I am also visibly, identifiably Muslim. I wear a headscarf. So I stand out. And during this campaign, that Muslim identity became the first (and sometimes only) thing people saw, for good or for bad. . . .”

Donations Pour Into Nonprofit Journalism

It did not take long after election night for the donations to start pouring in to America’s nonprofit journalism organizations,” Nicholas Fandos reported Wednesday for the New York Times.

“Almost a month later, the money keeps coming, in $10 and $20 and sometimes hundreds of dollars or more from small donors all over the country. . . .”

“Journal-isms” “Stay Woke” fund drive, which officially began on last week’s “Giving Tuesday,” continues to be “trending,” with $7,385 raised from 80 people as of Wednesday. The overall goal is $50,000. [List of supporters]

“At the Center for Public Integrity in Washington and its international investigative arm, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, individual donations are up about 70 percent compared to the same period last year,” Fandos continued.

“The donor pool for the Marshall Project, a two-year-old outfit that examines the American criminal justice system, is up 20 percent since the election.

“And at ProPublica, the investigative news organization that pledges to hold the powerful accountable, the postelection haul, $750,000, has easily eclipsed the total raised from small-dollar donors in all of 2015, about $500,000.

“The list goes on. From local public radio affiliates to established watchdog groups to start-ups that focus on a single issue, nonprofit, nonpartisan media is having a moment.

“Just what is motivating these donors — whether it is a partisan response to the election of Donald J. Trump or a broader concern over the viability of a troubled industry — is a matter of speculation, executives say. But one thing seems increasingly clear: Independent accountability journalism is gaining new support among many Americans mulling the election’s outcome and the country’s political divide. . . .”

The Charleston Chronicle, an African American newspaper, reports Wednesday on the mistrial.

The Chronicle, an African American newspaper in Charleston, S.C., reports Wednesday on the mistrial.

Hung Jury Again Tests Confidence in Justice System

Liberals have of late devoted a great number of pages to describing, analyzing, and lamenting the declining faith in American institutions, and its role in the election of Donald Trump,” Jelani Cobb wrote Wednesday for the New Yorker. “But, as the hung jury in the murder trial of Michael Slager — the police officer who, in April, 2015, shot an unarmed fifty-year-old black man, Walter Scott — makes clear, the resounding faith in particular institutions can be just as corrosive to democracy.

“Earlier this year, a Gallup poll found that only nine per cent of Americans had a lot of confidence in Congress, and that only twenty per cent had any faith in the integrity of newspapers. But fifty-six per cent of the public felt that the police were trustworthy.

“This is the reason that Slager’s defense could essentially argue that the jury should trust his account of the shooting — in which Scott attacked him and posed an imminent threat — over the footage captured by a bystander’s cell-phone camera, which shows Slager unloading rounds into a fleeing man, and convince at least one juror.

“It’s the reason that Officer Timothy Loehmann was not charged in the death of Tamir Rice, Officer Dante Servin was acquitted for shooting into a crowd in Chicago and killing Rekia Boyd, and Officer Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. It’s the reason that, as this year closes, we can anticipate reading some version of this story in the one to come. . . .”

(Credit: Pew Research Center)

Asian Americans Want More Leadership Training

The Seventh Annual Asian Pacific American Corporate Survey from the Asia Society [reveals that] many AAPI employees lack executive leadership opportunities and development,” Louis Chan reported Wednesday for AsAmNews, referring to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“The survey polled some 3,000 Asian American and Pacific Islander employees from 24 Fortune 500 companies.

“Among the key findings, 30 percent of the employees surveyed say their company fails to provide extensive leadership development programs and skill building opportunities.

“37 percent of the companies do not report representation of Asian and or Asian Pacific American representation at the senior executive level.

“45 percent of APA employees surveyed are not participating in mentorship and 35 percent are not receiving any sort of coaching.

“On the positive side, 84% of the employees surveyed say their company does involve their internal APA employee affinity groups in business and growth strategy. . . .”

In 2010, Asians were 4.8 percent of the U.S. population and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders, 0.2 percent. The Pew Research Center has projected that by 2065, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will make up 14 percent of the U.S. population, surpassing African Americans, who will be at 13 percent.

Short Takes

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