Insider; Editorialist at N.Y. Times, Washington Post

. . . I Said, ‘They Don’t Know What to Make of You’

Escobar Rises, Days Moves in Philly Shakeup

Journalists Assaulted by Pro-Trump Supporters

L.A. Times Ventures ‘On Edge in Trump’s America’

Could Obama Sue Trump for Defamation?

NAHJ, Gay Journalists Publish Spanish Stylebook

Racial Words That Make Some Cringe

Police Judged Guilty Found to Escape Punishment

Fla. Sheriff Spied on Protesters’ Social Media

Alex Tizon, Contemplative Journalist, Dies at 57

Short Takes

Roger Wilkins, first row, second from left, with other members of the 1981 Pulitizer Prize Board. front row, left to right: John Cowles Jr., Wilkins, Michael I. Sovern, Joseph Pulitzer Jr. (III), William Raspberry, Lee Hills; back row, left to right: Richard T. Baker, Euegene Patterson, Richard H. Leonard, Charlotte Saikowski, Osborn Elliott, John Hughes, Howard H. Hays, Warren H. Phillips, Hanna H. Gray, Clayton Kirkpatrick, Thomas Winship. (Credit: Pulitzer Board)

Roger W. Wilkins, first row, second from left, with other members of the 1981 Pulitzer Prize Board. front row, left to right: John Cowles Jr., Wilkins, Michael I. Sovern, Joseph Pulitzer Jr. (III), William Raspberry, Lee Hills; back row, left to right: Richard T. Baker, Euegene Patterson, Richard H. Leonard, Charlotte Saikowski, Osborn Elliott, John Hughes, Howard H. Hays, Warren H. Phillips, Hanna H. Gray, Clayton Kirkpatrick, Thomas Winship
. (Credit: Pulitzer Prize Board)

Insider; Editorialist at N.Y. Times, Washington Post

Roger W. Wilkins, a ranking Justice Department official during the 1960s who later composed Pulitzer Prize-winning editorials about the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post and wrote unsparingly about the conflicts and burdens he experienced as a black man in positions of influence, died March 26 at a nursing home in Kensington, Md.,” Adam Bernstein wrote Monday for the Washington Post. “He was 85.

“The cause was complications from dementia, said a daughter, Elizabeth Wilkins.

“In a career that traversed law, journalism and education, Mr. Wilkins made matters of race and poverty central to his work as an assistant attorney general in the Johnson administration and later as one of the first black editorial board members at The Post and the New York Times.

“By kinship or friendship, he was linked to many black leaders of the civil rights era. Roy Wilkins, who led the NAACP from 1955 to 1977, was an uncle. In law school, Roger Wilkins was an intern for Thurgood Marshall, then director-counsel of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund and later a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

“From a young age, he once wrote, he was compelled to spend his life ‘blasting through doors that white people didn’t want to open.’ . . .”

Wilkins was also a valued fan of “Journal-isms,” which reported on his efforts to reinvigorate the Crisis, the NAACP magazine, among other activities.

In 2012, on the death of New York Times Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger at age 86, Wilkins wrote for Journal-isms:

“Arthur Ochs Sulzberger was a real gentleman with a powerful determination to preserve and improve the enormous gem that he inherited. You could call him ‘Punch’ — a childhood family nickname, I believe, but when you brought him a tough issue, he could become a very steely gentleman who was determined to preserve and enhance that enormous family gem he had inherited.

“I recall that when he first hired a black member for the Editorial Board (me), he invited me to his office and spent almost an hour with me alone and then brought in some of his favorite Times journalists to let them know that he intended for this move to be successful. It was gentlemanly and it was clear…..he expected this to work and the people he had brought in to meet me were to make sure that this would work out.

“As time wore on I realized I had a very smart boss who was clear in his mind about what good journalism was and the quality he expected in his paper every morning. He understood life in America. And as I worked I realized that he had made sure that everybody needed to know that this step in integrating this part of his family inheritance was going to work. He was a good man — fair and determined that the great institution that had been handed would grow and maintain the high values of that institution.

“Punch was a very good man devoted to his work and to the people who he had brought in to help him achieve that goal.

“In all, he was one SWELL boss and a very good guy.”

. . . I Said, ‘They Don’t Know What to Make of You’

By Kenneth Walker

I was quite surprised at the speed with which Roger Wilkins and I became friends. He moved in black civil rights high society for most of his adult life. As a journalist, I covered much of that work: So Roger and I became acquainted.

Roger came late to white journalism, but instantly shot as close to the top of it as any black man had before him.

Kenneth Walker (Credit: George Dalton Tolbert IV)

Kenneth Walker (Credit: George Dalton Tolbert IV)

Apart from Pulitzer Prize-winning writing, Roger served a role in journalism similar to that he had in government – leveraging his access to power on behalf of black and poor people.

In the ’60’s, Roger served as an assistant attorney general in Lyndon Johnson’s administration, at a tumultuous time in race relations in America. He shuttled from coast to coast as the government struggled to keep track of an African American rebellion that often threatened to get out of control.

At about the same time, America’s newsrooms were experiencing similar tensions. The urban rebellions led many white newspapers to hire African Americans when white reporters either would not or could not venture into combustible cities.

Those in this first generation of black reporters often found themselves in newspapers with decades or even centuries of segregated histories and racist managements. By the time Roger Wilkins got to the Washington Post, black reporters there were past the boiling point in their relations with white management. They filed a discrimination complaint in 1972 against the Post. Wilkins supported them.

By the time he arrived at the Washington Star in 1981 as an associate editor and columnist, black reporters there were in a similar state of unrest. Wilkins arrived at the paper as the highest ranking African American in the Star’s 128-year history.

Shortly after arriving at the Star, Roger confided that he found an atmosphere at the Star similar to that he experienced at the Post and later at the New York Times, where he served on the editorial board and as a columnist.

“A lot of the white folks around here seem a bit nervous around me,” Roger said to me one day. “I’m not sure what to make of it.”

“It’s pretty simple,” I responded. “They’ve never seen no blue chip niggers around here. They don’t know what to make of you.” Roger understood that what I meant was that the white journalists at the Star had never seen a black editor in a position senior to themselves.

I benefited directly from Wilkins’ lifelong habit of leveraging his access to power for what he believed to be a good cause.

At about this time, the apartheid government of South Africa was experiencing its own uprising by its majority black population. Much of the American media ignored South Africa. I was determined to cover the story.

I lobbied Editor Murray Gart to allow me to go on a reporting trip to South Africa. After months of talks, Gart finally told me: “Okay, you can go. But you have to pay for the trip yourself.”

For me, this was victory, although I’m sure Gart thought his offer was a way to kill the idea.

When I told Roger of this, he arranged a grant from the Ford Foundation to finance the trip.

Months later, after my return, the series was scheduled to be published after Time magazine announced the paper would be closed. The day the series began, Roger and I met for a celebratory lunch at a restaurant on Connecticut Avenue NW.

Afterward, Roger intended to catch a taxi back to the Star. “You have to cross the street, Roger,” I told him, adding, “taxis don’t pick up black guys headed away from downtown. If you cross the street, it appears that you’re headed more deeply into the commercial area. So you have a better chance of catching a cab.”

Ignoring my advice, Roger threw his hand in the air, and almost immediately, a taxi pulled to the curb for him. He pulled the door open, and turned to me before getting in the cab.

“Blue chip,” he said with a wink and a smile, before jumping in the car and riding away.

That’s how I’ll always remember him.

Kenneth Walker, formerly of the Washington Star, ABC News and NPR, has just returned from living and working as a journalist in South Africa.

Gabriel Escobar, right, accepts congratulations from Philadelphia Inquirer editor William K. Marimow after Stan Wischnowski, executive editor and senior vice president of the Philadelphia Media Network, center, announced that Escobar is being promoted to the new position of PMN editor and vice president. Michael Days, in background, becomes PMN editor for reader engagement. (Credit: Clem Murray/philly.com)

Gabriel Escobar, right, accepts congratulations from Philadelphia Inquirer Editor William K. Marimow after Stan Wischnowski, Philadelphia Media Network executive editor and senior vice president, center, announced that Escobar is being promoted to the new position of PMN editor and vice president. Michael Days, in background, becomes PMN editor for reader engagement. (Credit: Clem Murray/philly.com)

Escobar Rises, Days Moves in Philly Shakeup:

Colombia-Born Journalist Becomes Editor and V.P.

Gabriel Escobar — a deft craftsman of the written word, a force for newsroom innovation, and an inexhaustible leader during big, breaking stories — has been named editor and vice president of Philadelphia Media Network, a promotion that puts him in charge of the entire news report for the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com,” Jeff Gammage reported for philly.com.

Gammage also wrote, “As part of the transition, Inquirer editor William K. Marimow and Daily News editor Michael Days will take on new roles.

“Marimow becomes PMN editor-at-large, a role which includes serving as a lead writing and editing coach for the Investigations, power and policy, and regional coverage teams of reporters. He will be part of the team of executives planning to roll out a metered online subscription model later this year. . . .

Michael Days

Michael Days

“Days, 63, will become PMN editor for reader engagement, ensuring that the news organization connects with the Philadelphia metropolitan community.

“He will collaborate with the team assigned to build PMN’s audience, and with the leaders of 10 new coverage teams. The aim is to align the news organization with new readers across the eight-county circulation area.”

Stan Wischnowski, PMN’s top newsroom executive, to whom Escobar will report, “announced the changes Monday morning, as staffers gathered in the newsroom,” Gammage’s report continued. “He said the moves were designed to reset and recalibrate the newsroom to do great things, even at a time when many traditional news organizations struggle financially, beset by drops in newspaper circulation and advertising revenue and a glut of free news online. . . .”

Escobar, 60, born in Bogota, Colombia, and fluent in Spanish, will become one of the highest ranking Latinos in U.S. mainstream journalism. He moved with his family to New York when he was 7. Escobar worked at the Dispatch in Union City, N.J., the Hartford Courant and the Philadelphia Daily News before joining the Washington Post in 1990. There, he covered local news and the national immigration beat and was the paper’s South America bureau chief.

Escobar left the Post in 2006 and worked at the Pew Hispanic Center as associate director before becoming metropolitan editor of the Inquirer from August 2007 to July 2011.

Escobar then joined the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News as an editorial writer. It was a joint appointment with Southern Methodist University, where he became part of the Division of Journalism in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. He was to “teach, provide leadership in an area of news coverage to be determined by the division and assist in the development and ongoing publishing of an online Spanish-language news site that will be part of SMU’s student media operations,” according to an announcement at the time.

In 2012, Escobar returned to Philadelphia as deputy managing editor for news of the Philadelphia Media Network, then became managing editor for news and managing editor for news and digital when the Daily News, Inquirer and philly.com newsrooms merged a year ago.

Days, a Philadelphia native, ran the Daily News from 2005 until early 2011 and returned to the editor’s post in 2012.

The Daily News’ Will Bunch wrote at the time, “Daily News staffers burst into spontaneous applause when publisher Bob Hall announced that Days — who in the interim had been managing editor of the Inquirer — would be returning to the tabloid.

“Days assured the newsroom that his goal was the re-energize the spunky urban paper that has won three Pulitzer Prizes, including one for investigative reporting when Days ran the paper in 2010.”

As of September 2016, Days was one of 12 African American top editors at daily newspapers, according to a tally compiled for the National Association of Black Journalists by Don Hudson, executive editor of the Decatur (Ala.) Daily.

Violence erupts at a Make America Great Again rally in Huntington Beach when a protester opposed to President Trump allegedly doused the organizer of the event with pepper spray and was immediately pummelled by a group of Trump supporters. (Credit: Cindy Carcamo/Los Angeles Times)

Violence erupted at a “Make America Great Again” rally in Huntington Beach, Calif., when a protester opposed to President Trump allegedly doused the organizer of the event with pepper spray and was immediately pummeled by Trump supporters. (Credit: Cindy Carcamo/Los Angeles Times)

Journalists Assaulted by Pro-Trump Supporters

An OC Weekly reporter and two photographers said Sunday that they were physically assaulted by pro-Trump demonstrators at a Make America Great Again rally in Huntington Beach and are seeking the public’s help in identifying at least one of the people responsible,” the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday.

Frank Tristan, an intern at the paper, and photographers Julie Leopo and Brian Feinzimer were attacked before one of several counter-demonstrators pepper sprayed an organizer of Saturday’s event. After Jennifer Sterling was pepper-sprayed, several fights broke out. . . .”

L.A. Times Ventures ‘On Edge in Trump’s America’

For generations, Boyle Heights has been a kind of Ellis Island for immigrants entering America from many countries, legally or not,” Los Angeles Times Editor-in-Chief Davan Maharaj told readers on Monday.

“Eventually, most were from Mexico. Since the presidential election, the talk in this L.A. neighborhood is tinged with anxiety. Our series ‘On Edge in Trump’s America’ takes a look at the worries of those in Boyle Heights. And in Orange County, we check in on the small but growing number of Latinas who are converting to Islam and facing a whole new set of challenges — including the reaction of fellow Latinos who mistake them for Arabs.”

Brian Stelter of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” wrote in his emailed newsletter Sunday that Maharaj told him that the “On Edge” series was formalized a week ago: “By many estimates, some 2.3 million residents in California are undocumented,” Maharaj said. “They are our friends, neighbors and co-workers. They represent every continent. Since the election, the overwhelming sentiment they feel is fear, fear that their parents will be rounded up and deported, fear about that dreaded knock on the door.” So the series is a ‘multi-media effort’ to tell those stories…”

Could Obama Sue Trump for Defamation?

Did President Trump defame President Obama?,” Michael Smerconish asked Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Not that the latter would ever sue his successor, but thinking about the merits of such a libel suit provides a useful framework for evaluating the propriety of Trump’s tweets. . . .”

Smerconish also wrote, “In our legal hypothetical, Obama has a high bar. As a public figure, he’d have to establish actual malice — a showing that Trump had knowledge of falsity or acted with reckless disregard for the truth. Proving that Trump knew his assertions were false when he tweeted that morning from Mar-a-Lago would be extremely difficult to establish without some direct evidence, but not so when it comes to showing reckless disregard for the truth.

“Trump could simply have called his intelligence chiefs to see if he was correct before touching the keypad on his phone that morning, as confirmed by my exchange last week on CNN with Gen. Michael Hayden. . . .”

NAHJ, Gay Journalists Publish Spanish Stylebook

The National LGBTQ Task Force, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) have launched a Spanish-language stylebook for journalists reporting on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people,” the groups announced on Monday.

The announcement also said, “The collaborative publication is a result of ongoing efforts to educate journalists on LGBTQ cultural competence, which includes workshops at the annual NLGJA National Convention, NAHJ’s Excellence in Journalism Conference, and the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference. . . .”

(Credit: Amélie Lamont/New York Times)

(Credit: Amélie Lamont/New York Times)

Racial Words That Make Some Cringe

This week we’re taking aim at a few of the words and phrases that we find bothersome when it comes to race,” the editors of the New York Times’ “Race/Related” newsletter wrote on Sunday.

“Some of the terms we chose also have entries in The Times’s Manual of Style and Usage. We’ve included the manual’s recommendations when appropriate.

“Tell us if you agree or disagree with our choices, or send us your own picks at racerelated (at) nytimes.com. We’ll include a selection of the responses in the next edition of the newsletter. . . .”

Nominated were “diversity hire,” “ethnic,” “illegal immigrant,” “person of color,” “exotic,” “urban,” “fitting in” and the prefixes “non-” and “half.”

Two off-duty cops face firing a decade after off-duty beating captured on video. (Credit: Chicago Tribune)

Two off-duty police officers face firing a decade after an off-duty beating was captured on video. (Credit: Chicago Tribune)

Police Judged Guilty Found to Escape Punishment

In a stunning breakdown of the city’s police disciplinary system, Chicago officers found at fault for misconduct have escaped punishment for years because authorities lost track of their cases, a Tribune investigation has found,” Jodi S. Cohen and Jennifer Smith Richards reported Friday for the Chicago Tribune.

“That means an officer who beat his officer wife and threatened to steal her gun kept working, unpunished, eight years after the incident. Another officer who used his police powers to harass his estranged wife remained on patrol, as has a detective who went on a loud, expletive-laden rant about his dress shoes after a solemn honor guard ceremony.

“All of the officers were found to have committed misconduct years ago and were ordered suspended. That, in itself, is a rare outcome of Chicago’s notoriously lax police oversight investigations. But the Tribune — which has been untangling these old cases for several months — found that even after punishments were recommended, years passed and none was served because the Police Department and the city agency that investigates officer misconduct lost cases in their startlingly disjointed system. . . .”

The Sheriff’s Office has since cancelled its contract with Geofeedia, which scanned platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But the agency stopped short of saying it has halted its practice of spying on civilian social media accounts. (Credit: Florida Times-Union)

The Sheriff’s Office has since cancelled its contract with Geofeedia, which scanned such platforms as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But the agency stopped short of saying it has halted its practice of spying on civilian social media accounts. (Credit: Florida Times-Union)

Fla. Sheriff Spied on Protesters’ Social Media

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office used social media surveillance software to track protests against former state attorney Angela Corey, unrest over the fatal police shooting of Vernell Bing Jr. and Black Lives Matter demonstrations until at least late 2016,” Ben Conarck reported Friday for the Florida Times-Union.

“The Sheriff’s Office has since cancelled its contract with Geofeedia, which scanned platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But the agency stopped short of saying it has halted its practice of spying on civilian social media accounts.

“The agency first disclosed its surveillance in 2015, citing police shootings that had garnered national attention. Analysts monitored public dissent with remarkable specificity — down to street corners that were hot spots for protesters.

“There are legitimate uses for social media surveillance tools by law enforcement, according to some experts, and the programs are capable of yielding material that can play a key role in criminal investigations and offer evidence in case protests turn violent.

“But documents obtained by the Times-Union revealed that the Sheriff’s Office also used the software to set up email alerts about First Amendment-protected activity by residents not accused of any crimes. That raises concerns for free speech and privacy advocates over the scope of the Sheriff’s Office’s surveillance network and the potential for abuse of those technologies.

“ ‘It’s like they designed their alerts to give civil libertarians a heart attack,’ said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel at the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security program, after reviewing the public records obtained by the Times-Union. . . .”

Alex Tizon, Contemplative Journalist, Dies at 57

Alex Tizon, a journalist and professor who won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting while at The Seattle Times and spent decades exposing untold stories of marginalized communities, has died at age 57,Mike Rosenberg reported Saturday and updated Monday for the Times.

Alex Tizon (Credit: PBS)

Alex Tizon (Credit: PBS)

“Mr. Tizon died unexpectedly Thursday, of natural causes, at his home in Eugene, Oregon, according to his family and the University of Oregon, where he was working as an assistant professor of journalism.

“Mr. Tizon was one of three Seattle Times reporters to win the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, for stories that exposed widespread corruption and inequalities in the federally sponsored housing program for Native Americans.

“The series, which documented how billions of dollars in taxpayer funds were helping wealthy people across the country live in mansions while tribes were housed in decrepit shacks, inspired reforms to the program.

“Friends, colleagues and family members said Mr. Tizon was known as a deep listener who preferred to dive headfirst into complicated, long-form stories that are becoming rarer in today’s fast-paced media cycle. An introvert who spent hours alone brooding over deep issues like the meaning of his life, he would often take on seemingly simple stories and come back with complicated tales about humanity. . . .”

Rosenberg also wrote, “He spent 17 years at The Seattle Times before becoming the Seattle bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times from 2003 to 2008. He also contributed to publications like Newsweek and programs such as ’60 Minutes.’

“He then spent two years in Manila, where he helped track efforts by the government to eliminate poverty in poor communities, and taught workshops in far-flung locales like Romania. And he wrote a memoir, ‘Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self,’ about the challenges of being an Asian-American man in the United States. . . .”

This column wrote of “Big Little Man” in 2014, “Tizon’s story can resonate with other journalists of color as he turns his ‘otherness’ to an advantage (scroll down). ‘My own lifelong sense of feeling invisible, and living with others like my father who experienced the same, somehow became useful. I developed the sensory apparatus to apprehend fellow invisibles.’ . . .”

Short Takes

Monique Greenwood

Monique Greenwood

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