Surrogates Hear Opposition to Sessions, Bannon

Who Will Change, Megyn Kelly or NBC?

“Yeah, I’m Lit. Who Cares?” Don Lemon Says

Drones Help Find Climate Change Refugees

Klan Leaders Say They Were Paid to Fabricate

Univision Losing Younger Viewers to Telemundo

Pa. Told to Provide Abu-Jamal With Costly Drugs

10 Good Ways to Improve Managing Newsrooms

Ebony Moves to New Era With Commemoratives

Short Takes

Jessica Suerth of Cronkite News, a publication of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, reported last November on a closed-door meeting of the Donald Trump transition team with leaders of about 20 advocacy organizations of color. Another was held on Wednesday.

Surrogates Hear Opposition to Sessions, Bannon

The National Association of Black Journalists and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, representing the black press, joined other African American organizations Wednesday in providing a “listening session” for the Donald Trump transition team.

The off-the-record session was led by Omarosa Manigault, the former contestant on “The Apprentice” newly named by the president-elect to work on public engagement in the White House, CNN and other sources reported.

In a news release, NABJ said it “stressed the importance of press access to the new administration and the need for black journalists to be a part of that coverage. NABJ also talked about the need for an accurate and complete portrayal of all of black America, not just stories involving crime, poverty and violence.”

Sarah Glover, NABJ president, said in the release, “Black journalists have covered the White House since President Franklin D. Roosevelt and it’s important that NABJ continues a dialogue with the next president and administration.” The NNPA was represented by Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., its president and CEO.

The discussion was apparently wide-ranging. Barbara R. Arnwine, longtime executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights who is now executive director at the Transformative Justice Coalition, told Journal-isms that the meeting went half an hour over its allotted time.

“Folks were more polite than expected,” Arnwine said by email. “Real mix of political views — some clear Black Pro-Trumpers and others taking strong stance on issues.

“I could discern that they are exploring some policy positions on school choice/vouchers. Seemed interested in stronger HBCU support,” a reference to historically black colleges and universities. “Seemed not well informed on criminal justice reforms already underway at DOJ,” the Department of Justice.

“Many speakers expressed open opposition to the [Sen. Jeff] Sessions [D-Ala.] nomination for Attorney General and the appointment of Steve Bannon as White House Senior Advisor.  Others expressed concerns about rise of Hate post-election and urged President-Elect Trump to publicly address this scourge.”
Omarosa Manigault

Omarosa Manigault

The letter of invitation, emailed on Dec. 29, told attendees, “This meeting will allow for an opportunity to briefly share your priority issues with the official Transition Team. To the extent that you would like to share brief policy papers on issues of importance to your organization, please do so either in advance of or immediately following the meeting,” according to a report Tuesday by Hazel Edney, founder of the Trice Edney Wire.

The invitation email was sent by David Bentkowski of the PTT Office of Nationwide Engagement (ONE).

The attendance by NABJ and NNPA contrasted with both organizations’ stances in 2013, when they joined other journalism groups in refusing to attend a meeting with then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to refine guidelines on dealing with journalists during leak investigations.

They tied their refusal to Holder’s stipulation that the meeting would be off the record, as did some mainstream journalism groups invited to other meetings with Holder on the issue. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Unity: Journalists for Diversity, however, did meet with Holder, and it was unclear what the boycotting groups gained by their absence.

NABJ leaders did not respond to a question about why they agreed to the off-the-record stipulation this time.

Edney told Journal-isms that she and Betsy Klein of CNN stood outside for “three hours in the cold” while the meeting proceeded, since members of the working press were not allowed inside. The session was held in the American Enterprise Institute building in Northwest Washington.

Klein reported, “Bishop Harry Jackson, a conservative activist and evangelical leader, called the meeting a ‘starting point’ for members of the community to discuss their priorities and state their agenda, praising the Trump transition’s ‘openness’ to listening.

” ‘You have an outsider and an outside team. They’re not going to do business as usual, they don’t even know how to spell business as usual. For that reason, I’m optimistic,’ Jackson said, calling the meeting’s atmosphere ‘very civil’ and ‘a very sophisticated meet-and-greet.’

Hilary O. Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau director and senior vice president for advocacy and policy, said the meeting ‘could be a great start.’ ‘What happens at this point is in the hands of the administration,’ Shelton added.

“Multiple attendees praised Manigault, calling her ‘very impressive’ and ‘a great leader,’ noting that she asked follow-up questions, particularly about data and resources. . . .”

Klein reported that 100 organizations were represented, while NABJ said about two dozen were present. Arnwine said about 30 groups were present who spoke but about 75 people were in the room.


Who Will Change, Megyn Kelly or NBC?

If one were in need of confirmation that you, too, can get away with Bill O’Reilly’s type of racism so long as you’re a pretty, blond white woman, look no further than the news that Megyn Kelly is leaving Fox News for NBC,” Michael Arceneaux wrote Wednesday for

“According to reports, Kelly will host her own daytime talk show and anchor a Sunday-night news show in addition to taking part in the network’s political programming and other major-event coverage. For Kelly, this move — which will solidify her status as a mainstream journalist, as opposed to the paid propagandist she’s long served as — is a dream finally coming to fruition. . . . .”


On NPR’s “Here and Now” Wednesday, co-host Robin Young played a sound bite of Kelly irate at a Slate article’s suggestion that Santa Claus could be black, insisting that “Santa is white” and adding for good measure that Jesus was white as well, “which historically and geographically he probably wasn’t,” Young said.

Mathew Ingram wrote Tuesday for Fortune that Kelly “has a reputation for promoting right-wing views on a variety of topics, including race. For example, she talked about an alleged plan by President Obama to force white neighborhoods to diversify, and also repeatedly criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, casting doubt on whether police shootings had anything to do with race. . . .”

NPR media critic David Folkenflik suggested to Young that the Kelly of Fox News wasn’t necessarily going to be the Kelly of NBC.

“I think she’s departed hoping to get away from ideology,” Folkenflik said. “I think she’s looking to be more in the model of Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Charlie Rose at CBS. Somebody who can go for the soft-focus interviews and human interest stories as well as being able to do the more serious news at times.”

Folkenflik also said, “she’s not seeing herself as a cable animal anymore and she wants to transcend that.”

In a front-page story in the New York Times, Jim Rutenberg took a slightly different tack. “For NBC, the addition of Ms. Kelly, 46, may help address a challenge confronting many major news organizations: connecting with a politically diverse audience,” Rutenberg wrote Tuesday. “In bringing Ms. Kelly to NBC, Andrew Lack, the chairman of the news division, is adding a journalist schooled in the preferences and worldviews of the conservative Americans who helped elect Mr. Trump, and whose anger so many news organizations failed to appreciate. . . .”

There were other doubters. “I can’t think of any cable host who moved full-time to broadcast and thrived,” Jack Shafer wrote Tuesday for Politico. “On the other hand, going the other direction — from broadcast to cable — has worked to the great benefit of both Bill O’Reilly and Jake Tapper. . . .”

Some raised the question of diversity. “When will NBC hire a Latina anchor?” Rebecca Aguilar, a former vice president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and a 28-year journalism veteran, asked on Facebook. “And please don’t say they have Natalie Morales. She was shipped over to Access Hollywood or some entertainment show last year.”

“Yeah, I’m Lit. Who Cares?” Don Lemon Says

If, inexplicably, you spent New Year’s Eve watching CNN, you were treated to a broadcast for the ages, care of Don Lemon,” Tom Shattuck wrote Monday for the Boston Herald.

“The ‘CNN Tonight’ host, reporting in from a bar in New Orleans, began hitting the sauce early and was thoroughly trashed by 9 p.m.

“ ‘People are saying that I’m lit. Yeah, I’m lit. Who cares?’ howled Lemon, between tequila shooters.

“Co-host Brooke Baldwin implored the staff to stop feeding him shots and at one point snipped at him, ‘The tequila is like, emitting from your pores.’

“But D-Lem was feeling no pain and spent most of the evening blurting out drunken inanities while Baldwin played babysitter. Lemon blubbered about finding love in 2017, but his thoughts ran erratic as the booze flowed. At one point Don was so blotto that he let a man drive a needle through his ear and fit him with a fleur-de-lis earring to wear while stumbling through the bar. . . .”

In Bolivia, “The disappearance of Lake Poopó has not only destroyed the livelihoods of hundreds of fishing families, but also added to a new category of climate refugees,” James Estrin reported for the New York Times. (Credit: Josh Haner/New York Times)

Drones Help Find Climate Change Refugees

Josh Haner has photographed eight stories across five countries this year about the effects of climate change, often employing drones to get unique vantage points,” the New York Times reported in its “Lens” blog on Dec. 28, introducing a question-and-answer session.

“Mr. Haner is a staff photographer and a senior editor for photo technology at The New York Times. He talked with James Estrin about finding new ways to visualize climate change. The conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity. . . .”

Haner said, “We didn’t really know if climate refugees or migrants existed yet or if this was something that was still far afield. We reached out to reporters in our foreign bureaus all over the world and asked them to start to look into this topic and see if there were climate-based migrations or relocations happening right now.

“After a month or two of preliminary reporting, we decided that there were enough stories to justify a concerted effort to look at climate refugees all over the world. . . .”

Klan Leaders Say They Were Paid to Fabricate

The subjects of a TV documentary series about the Ku Klux Klan abruptly canceled last week by A&E allege to Variety that significant portions of what was filmed were fabricated by the producers,” Nate Thayer reported Saturday for Variety.

“Some KKK leaders divulged that they were paid hundreds of dollars in cash each day of filming to compel them on camera to distort the facts of their lives to fit the documentary’s predetermined narrative: tension between Klan members and relatives of theirs who wanted to get out of the Klan.

“The findings are based on an exclusive Variety investigation based on interviews with over two dozen individuals in and around the KKK who cooperated with the documentary in at least six U.S. states.

“Originally scheduled to air Jan. 10, ‘Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America’ was produced by Venice, Calif.-based production company This Is Just a Test.

“The KKK leaders who were interviewed by Variety detailed how they were wooed with promises the program would capture the truth about life in the organization; encouraged not to file taxes on cash payments for agreeing to participate in the filming; presented with pre-scripted fictional story scenarios; instructed what to say on camera; asked to misrepresent their actual identities, motivations and relationships with others, and re-enacted camera shoots repeatedly until the production team was satisfied. . . .”

Univision Losing Younger Viewers to Telemundo

Spanish-language television giant Univision Communications long has towered over its rivals, boosted by a steady stream of over-the-top Cinderella love stories, imported from Mexico, featuring downtrodden damsels and hunky ranch hands,” Meg James reported Monday for the Los Angeles Times.

No mas. Now Univision is the one in a swoon.

“The nation’s largest Spanish-language media company ended 2016 in unfamiliar territory, clawing to retain its audience and blunt the gains made by archrival Telemundo in the prime-time ratings race.

“New York-based Univision has lost more than 45% of its prime-time audience since 2013. And since July, Telemundo has been scoring more viewers in the sweet spot for advertisers — viewers aged 18 through 49. . . .”

Pa. Told to Provide Abu-Jamal With Costly Drugs

A federal judge ordered Pennsylvania’s corrections department to provide costly new antiviral drugs to an inmate infected with hepatitis C, and rebuked the state for restricting inmates’ access to the drugs,” Peter Loftus reported Wednesday for the Wall Street Journal.

“Hepatitis C is an epidemic in prisons, but state corrections departments have treated relatively few prisoners because the drugs are expensive, costing about $54,000 to $94,500 per patient.

“The new antivirals, sold by Gilead Sciences Inc., AbbVie Inc. and Merck & Co., began hitting the market in 2013 and have higher cure rates and less severe side effects than older treatments. Hepatitis C is transmitted by via infected blood, including through needle sharing. Chronic infection can cause serious liver damage if left untreated.

“Public and private health insurers also have restricted use of the drugs — sparking lawsuits by patients seeking access. In May, a federal judge ordered Washington state’s Medicaid program to pay for treatments for all infected patients, not just the sickest. National medical societies say most infected patients should receive the drugs.

“Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections has a policy of providing the drugs only to inmates with signs of advanced disease such as cirrhosis, according to court documents.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, a well-known prisoner serving a life sentence after being convicted of murdering a Philadelphia police officer in 1981, filed a lawsuit against corrections officials last year, alleging that their failure to treat his hepatitis C violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments of prisoners.

“State prison officials had determined his disease wasn’t severe enough to warrant treatment, according to the lawsuit. Mr. Abu-Jamal was originally sentenced to death, but a federal court overturned that sentence after a high-profile appellate campaign that drew support from capital-punishment opponents, including celebrities. His murder conviction has been upheld. . . .”

Jill Geisler of Loyola University Chicago, at left, organized the American Society of News Editors' Emerging Leaders Institute in Philadelphia last Semptember. (Credit: ASNE)

Jill Geisler of Loyola University Chicago, second row, left, organized the American Society of News Editors’ Emerging Leaders Institute in Philadelphia last September. (Credit: ASNE)

10 Good Ways to Improve Managing Newsrooms

The new year demands extraordinary newsroom management skills and strategies as an unorthodox, media-bashing president takes office,” Jill Geisler wrote Monday for Columbia Journalism Review. “The Trump administration will challenge norms of engagement with both the public and the press, and may execute on its promise to revise existing laws and policies, making high-quality journalism more important than ever.

“Here’s a call to action for newsroom managers, laid out in 10 resolutions:

“1. Rally the troops . . .

“2. Unleash your design minds in the fake-news fight . . .

“3. Taxonomize Trumpian tweets . . .

“4. Grow more policy wonks . . .

“5. Focus on systems over symbols . . .

“6. Establish a ‘whistleblower’ strategy. . .

“7. Distinguish boldness from bias. . . .

“8. Show your math. . . .

“9. Show your heart . . .

“10. Give feedback as never before . . .”

Geisler coaches managers worldwide and holds the Bill Plante Chair in Leadership and Media Integrity at Loyola University Chicago.

Ed Gordon reported on Ebony’s transition in December on his new show for Bounce TV.

Ebony Moves to New Era With Commemoratives

Ebony magazine, transitioning from Johnson Publishing Co. to new owners now known as Ebony Media Operations LLC, plans six special commemorative newsstand-only editions and eight standard issues this year, Cheryl Mayberry McKissack, CEO of the new company, told Journal-isms on Wednesday.

Special commemorative

Special commemorative

The first commemorative issue features President Obama. It arrived on newsstands Dec. 20 and “has been selling very well,” McKissack said by email. She said there has been no announcement of the topics for the other special editions.

Johnson Publishing announced in June that it had sold Ebony magazine and its now digital-only sister publication Jet to Clear View Group, an African American-owned private equity firm based in Austin, Texas. Ebony claims a circulation of 1,250,000.

“The transition of ownership under Clear View has been rolling out throughout the second half of 2016,” McKissack said. “The company is separate from JPC and has changed its name to Ebony Media Operations LLC.”

A news release described the Obama commemorative edition this way:

To mark the political ascent and enduring legacy of President Barack H. Obama, Ebony has published a special commemorative edition, ‘Hail to the Chief: Saluting Eight Years of Excellence.’ This stylish, thought-provoking issue (83 pages; $10.99) is a unique collection of exclusive photographs, archival Ebony articles and hard-hitting analyses from leading African-American writers including award-winning poet, author and civil rights activist, Nikki Giovanni; MSNBC award-winning journalist Joy-Ann Reid; culturally astute critic Eric Deggans; pop culture pundit Touré; and New York Times best-selling author Baratunde Thurston. . . .”

Short Takes


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