Columnist Co-Founded Two Black Journalist Groups

This photo of Claude Lewis at the Philadelphia office of the National Leader accompanied a Dec. 19, 1982, Associated Press story on the weeky's launch.

This photo of Claude Lewis at the Philadelphia office of the National Leader accompanied an Associated Press story on Dec. 19, 1982, about the weekly’s launch. (Credit: AP Newsfeatures)

Columnist Co-Founded Two Black Journalist Groups

Claude Lewis, 82, of Cherry Hill, a distinguished journalist who made history as the first person of color to write a regular newspaper column in Philadelphia and inspired generations of African Americans to follow him into the profession, died Thursday, March 16,” Bonnie L. Cook reported for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which displayed the obituary on the front page of its print edition Friday .

“After battling diabetes for years, Mr. Lewis died of complications from the disease at Virtua Voorhees Hospital, said his daughter, Beverley Wilson. The illness claimed his vision beginning a decade ago, she said. . . .”

Apart from his career at the old Philadelphia Bulletin and then the Inquirer, Lewis was a co-founder of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists in 1973 and the National Association of Black Journalists in 1975.

Moreover, Lewis articulated the aspirations of many journalists of color when in 1982 he became founding editor of the National Leader, the first black national newspaper about African Americans.

“I always felt I wanted to play some role in creating a black image in America, and telling the truth about it,” Lewis told the Associated Press at the time.

Joe Davidson, now a Washington Post columnist, was among those quoted in the Inquirer obituary. “After the Bulletin closed in 1982, Mr. Lewis, Davidson, and lawyer Ragan Henry joined forces to establish the National Leader, a weekly publication based in Philadelphia aimed at black readers,” Cook wrote. Davidson was managing editor.

“Though the publication lasted only a few years, Davidson recalled, ‘it was one of the most rewarding parts of my career.’ ”

Lewis echoed that. When Henry died in 2008, Lewis told Michel Martin on NPR’s “Tell Me More,” “It was probably the best job I ever had.”

Claude was an important force in journalism in the 1970s,” Davidson added in NABJ’s announcement of Lewis’ death. “He meant a lot to me personally and to a lot of black journalists professionally. He lured me away from The Inquirer to work as managing editor at The Leader. It was an opportunity to serve the black community with high quality journalism. . . .”

Cook continued, “In 1985, Mr. Lewis was hired by the Inquirer to serve on its editorial board and produce a column called ‘Looking at America.’ He chronicled this country ‘in all its flawed glory,’ Jane Eisner, then editorial page editor, wrote when he stepped down from the assignment in October 1997. He retired from the newspaper in 2009.

“ ‘Claude,’ she wrote, ‘never seemed to forget whom he was writing for, the ordinary American struggling with change, confronting senseless violence, racism, poverty, and a loss of respect for life.’ ”

The NABJ release noted that “Lewis covered the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, meeting and interviewing such icons as Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1968, Lewis left a meeting in Philadelphia to join the King family in Memphis immediately after receiving the news that King was shot.

” ‘Claude was a journalist miles ahead of his time, and he achieved recognition long before many recognized him,’ said NABJ Founder Paul Brock. . . .”

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

Hughes influenced Lewis’ decision to become a journalist, according to a 1991 interview Lewis gave to Wayne Dawkins for Dawkins’ “Black Journalists: The NABJ Story,” published in 1993.

“I was born in the Bronx and I grew up in Harlem,” Lewis said.

“Langston Hughes came to my school and invited us — eight to nine students — to write poetry.

“We mailed it to him.

“Hughes’ responses came by mail. He said mine was bad.

“I sent a second poem. He said it was worse. ‘One thing I like about you,’ Hughes told me, ‘you’re persistent and you could be a newspaperman.’ . . .  ”

Vanessa Williams, a national reporter with the Washington Post and a former NABJ president, said in the NABJ statement, “I remember Claude as a friendly and encouraging colleague when we worked together at the Philadelphia Inquirer. His door was always open and he didn’t hesitate to share his contacts, expertise and advice to young journalists.

“He and Acel [Moore] were like these twin towers of black journalism excellence in Philly. We should honor them by continuing their tradition of being fierce advocates for the truth, especially in this current political climate.”

Sarah Glover, current NABJ president, said in the release, “Claude lives on in all of us. I thank him for instilling in me, and my peers, a deep level of tenacity and commitment to the cause.”

According  to Cook’s obituary, “The body will be cremated. A public memorial service will follow, possibly in April.”

Iowa Papers Want ‘Racist’ Congressman Out

March 15, 2017
‘Exorcise the Nationalist Bent Before It’s Too Late’

Reporters Fume at Exclusion by State Department

Threats to Press a Reminder of Slain Crusader

Trump Hero Andrew Jackson a Villain to Indians

Jones to Head Specials for NBC News, MSNBC

ESPN’s Next Layoffs Will Hit On-Camera Talent

Women’s History Month Includes Knight, Holiday

G.D. Regguinti Dies, Organized Native Journalists

Short Takes depicted Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, surrounded by burning Confederate battle flags. King has been photographed with Confederate flags among others on his desk. (Credit: depicted Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, surrounded by burning Confederate battle flags. King has been photographed with Confederate symbols that were part of a flag display on his desk.

‘Exorcise the Nationalist Bent Before It’s Too Late’

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, must go, two of his home-state newspapers say.

King tweeted over the weekend, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” and predicted Monday that blacks and Hispanics “will be fighting each other” before overtaking whites in the U.S. population.

Image of an Iowa T-shirt, posted on Twitter.

Image of an Iowa T-shirt, posted on Twitter.

King’s “rampant racism is an opportunity for Iowa Republicans and the party at large. Exorcise the nationalist bent before it’s too late,” the Quad-City Times editorial board wrote on Wednesday.

“The House should make an example of King, and Iowa GOP should be actively seeking a candidate to oust him in next year’s primary. . . .”

The Des Moines Register wrote on Monday, “If King’s world view truly doesn’t match that of the Republican Party, then party leaders at both the state and national level need to stand together in supporting an opposing candidate in the 2018 Republican primary. Given King’s longstanding record as one of the least effective members of Congress, the GOP should have no difficulty finding a more thoughtful and qualified individual to represent the people of Iowa’s 4th District.

“The only question is whether these party leaders have the courage of their alleged convictions.”

The Register is the state’s largest newspaper; the Gazette in Cedar Rapids, the second-largest, has not weighed in on King because his district is outside its  circulation area, Jennifer Hemmingsen, opinion editor at the Gazette, told Journal-isms. However, a Gazette news story reported Monday, “The tweet brought widespread condemnation from politicians in Iowa and Washington,” and conservative columnist Adam Sullivan wrote Thursday, “King’s latest controversy will not likely hinder his political career — not anytime soon, and not in Iowa’s 4th District, at least. But if his brand of conservatism is allowed to take hold across the party, our days are numbered.”

As Eve Peyser reported Monday for, King, “one of the most right-wing members of the House of Representatives, launched a viral tweet over the weekend when he endorsed far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders — who once said ‘I hate Islam’ and compared the Qur’an to Mein Kampf. King’s endorsement of Wilders came in the form of a retweet of a pro-Wilders cartoon, to which King added, well:

Wilders’ party was beaten soundly by that of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday.

French President Francois Hollande called it a “clear victory against extremism.”

On Tuesday, Chris Massie reported for CNN, King “was on the radio responding to a question about Univision anchor Jorge Ramos’ comment to Tucker Carlson on Fox News that whites would become a majority-minority demographic in America by 2044, a point Ramos used to make the argument that it is a multiracial country.

” ‘Jorge Ramos’ stock in trade is identifying and trying to drive wedges between race,’ King told Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson on 1040 WHO. ‘Race and ethnicity, I should say to be more correct. When you start accentuating the differences, then you start ending up with people that are at each other’s throats. And he’s adding up Hispanics and blacks into what he predicts will be in greater number than whites in America. I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens.’ . . . ”

Register columnist Rekha Basu wrote Wednesday, “King was rewarded with recognition from the Ku Klux Klan’s former leader David Duke, who tweeted, ‘God bless Steve King!‘ and ‘Just in case you were thinking about moving — sanity reigns supreme in Iowa’s 4th congressional district.’ On Monday, King kept the ball rolling, saying on CNN he wants ‘an America that’s just so homogeneous that we look a lot the same.’

“These kinds of remarks put Iowa’s Republican leaders in the uncomfortable position of having to publicly distance themselves, but not do it so strongly as to jeopardize their standing with King’s voters. So Gov. Terry Branstad and Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann saved the real condemnation for Duke, voicing more tepid disagreement with King. . . .” [Updated March 16]

Reporters Fume at Exclusion by State Department

The Trump administration’s efforts to rewrite the rules for media coverage reached a furious peak on Wednesday as veteran State Department reporters expressed outrage over Secretary Rex Tillerson’s decision to take only a reporter from a conservative website on his first trip to Asia,” Hadas Gold reported Wednesday for Politico.

Erin McPike

Erin McPike

“ ‘The State Department is the beacon of press freedom around the world. The message now to China in particular when he gets to Beijing is that press freedom doesn’t matter,’ MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who is following Tillerson’s trip and broadcasting from Tokyo, said in a recent appearance on air. ‘Up until now, secretaries of state have made it a key demand that our press corps gets into meetings … that there be access for the media … A key component of foreign policy is being undercut by this.’

“Tillerson’s move caught most of the media off guard, in part because he has more to gain than lose by courting the diplomatic press corps, which has enjoyed generally good relations with all secretaries of state going back to the Reagan administration. Indeed, of all the branches of the Washington press corps, the State Department’s is widely considered the most staid and serious, the type who actually care about policy versus palace intrigue.

“But those same reporters are now furious, frustrated and, in some cases, disgusted by what’s been deemed a violation of tradition and a public trust, with Tillerson’s decision to bring only Erin McPike of Independent Journal Review, a conservative news outlet which made its name with lighthearted videos featuring politicians and viral stories.

“McPike has been with IJR for only a few weeks and doesn’t even cover the State Department: She’s its White House reporter and is often in the briefings. McPike won’t be acting as a pool reporter for the rest of the diplomatic press corps, meaning she won’t be sharing information about the trip with other reporters, which is what would normally happen if there were limited space for reporters and only a few were chosen. . . .”

Threats to Press a Reminder of Slain Crusader

Manuel de Dios Unanue

Manuel de Dios Unanue

Incredibly, especially for those of us who called him our friend, 25 years have passed since the murder of fearless journalist Manuel de Dios Unanue, at a Spanish restaurant in New York City,” Albor Ruiz wrote Tuesday for Al Día in Philadelphia.

“The courage to expose Colombian drug capos and their poisonous presence in his city, cost him his life.

” ‘No one can tell me what I can’t write,’ the tall, thin, intense Unanue would answer those who would warn him about the risk to his life. He was well aware it was a dangerous business. But the Cuban-born journalist was not willing to compromise.

“As I wrote in the Daily News 12 years ago, ‘The warnings of danger became reality. On a tragic evening 13 years ago, a hooded and slightly retarded 16-year-old gunman known as Mono, calmly walked up to Unanue at the Mesón Asturias restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens, and pumped two bullets into his head. The murderer had been paid $4,500 by Colombian drug capos, who had been on the receiving end of tough Unanue scrutiny. The crusading journalist fell dead in a pool of blood, leaving behind a companion and a 2-year-old daughter.’

” ‘It seems to me he laid down his life for all society,’ John Cardinal O’Connor told the 1,500 people who attended an emotional memorial service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral a few days later.

“Unanue, the former editor of El Diario-La Prensa, the oldest Spanish-language daily paper in the country, was 48 when he was killed on March 11, 1992. It was the heyday of the Colombian drug cartels, and their pernicious influence extended to New York, especially Queens, where he lived and died. Unanue’s death was a grim reminder — and a reality check — of how fragile freedom of the press is, even in the U.S. . . .”

President Trump paid tribute to Andrew Jackson’s legacy at The Hermitage in Nashville on Wednesday. (Credit: the Tennessean.) (video)

Trump Hero Andrew Jackson a Villain to Indians

President Trump compared his presidency to that of Andrew Jackson while marking the birthday of the nation’s seventh president on Wednesday,” Mallory Shelbourne reported Wednesday for the Hill.

“Speaking outside of The Hermitage, Jackson’s estate in Nashville, Tenn., Trump referred to Jackson as the people’s president, echoing the populist comparisons made by pundits about himself and Jackson. . . .”

In contrast, Lynn Cordova reported Tuesday for Indian Country Media Network that Native Americans “consider the late president a villain directly responsible for the death of thousands of Cherokee during the forced march remembered as the Trail of Tears. Jackson’s Indian Removal Act of 1830 aggressively pushed Native Americans off their ancestral lands, which Jackson stole and purchased for plantation use. His documented hostility and hatred of Native Americans earned Jackson the names ‘Indian Killer’ and ‘Sharp Knife.’ . . .”

Cordova also wrote, “Andrew Jackson isn’t the only former president with a noted disdain for Native Americans. George Washington, the former general of the Continental Army and first President of the United States, believed the most efficient way to kill Native Americans was to ‘ruin their crops,’ and Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, said ‘(Native Americans have) justified (their own) extermination.’ . . .”

Jones to Head Specials for NBC News, MSNBC

Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones, who joined MSNBC in 2013 from WIS-TV, where she was news director, has been upped to SVP of specials for the combined NBC News and MSNBC,” Chris Ariens reported Wednesday for TVNewser.

“ ‘She’s been a critical part of MSNBC’s dayside success — the best growth story in cable news,’ [NBC News president Noah] Oppenheim writes in a note to staff, obtained by TVNewser. ‘She brings deep knowledge of cable, breaking news coverage and events programming to her new role.’

“Jones’s promotion means longtime head of specials, Mark Lukasiewicz, is departing NBC News after 16 years. He’ll stay on for the transition, then move on to NBCUniversal’s Talent Lab. Before NBC News, Lukasiewicz spent 11 years at ABC News. . . .”


Michael Smith and Jemele Hill launched their own specially branded 6 p.m.

Michael Smith and Jemele Hill launched their own specially branded 6 p.m. “SportsCenter” on ESPN last year. They are viewed as rising stars.  (Credit: ESPN)

ESPN’s Next Layoffs Will Hit On-Camera Talent

ESPN’s last big round of layoffs took place in 2015 and stayed, for the most part, behind the camera,” Daniel Holloway reported Wednesday for Variety. “Its next round won’t be so deferential to talent.

“The Disney-owned cable channel is set to reduce personnel in the coming months, with the bulk of cuts coming from the on-air ranks. The move is indicative of the growing pressure ESPN feels as the cable ecosystem evolves, and of how the network plans to adapt in response.

“According to Nielsen research, ESPN had 87.4 million subscribers in March, down from more than 100 million six years ago. Subscriber erosion has presented a challenge for all cable channels in the era of skinny bundles — low-cost network packages delivered via broadband, such as DirecTV Now — but ESPN, with its outsize presence in the cable landscape and the Walt Disney Co. portfolio, has been scrutinized more closely than most brands. . . .”

Holloway also wrote, “ESPN has shifted its talent priorities in the last two years. Gone are old, high-priced hands such as Chris Berman, Keith Olbermann, and Bill Simmons. Among the channel’s rising stars are Scott Van Pelt, who began hosting a special late-night version of ‘SportsCenter’ in 2015; Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, who launched their own specially branded 6 p.m. ‘SportsCenter’ last year; and ‘Mike and Mike’ co-host Mike Greenberg, [whom] the network is eyeing for a possible solo morning show.

“All four represent a type of personality that ESPN will value in the coming reorganization — they appeal to young or traditionally underserved audiences and are able to move seamlessly between television and digital.

“Reprioritizing talent is part of a larger ESPN effort to pivot toward digital — and mitigate losses. . . .”

Sharon Farmer in front of Air Force One (Credit: William J. Clinton Presidential Library)

Photographer Sharon Farmer in front of Air Force One (Credit: William J. Clinton Presidential Library)

Women’s History Month Includes Knight, Holiday

  • Monica Lozano

    Monica Lozano

    The Association of Latino Professionals for America listed “The 50 Most Powerful Latinas of 2017” in Fortune magazine on Wednesday. Included are Cynthia Hudson, senior vice president and general manager of CNN en Español and Hispanic strategy for CNN/U.S.; Claudia Puig, senior vice president and general manager of local media, Univision Communications Inc.; and Monica Lozano, former CEO of La Opinión and ImpreMedia.

Gladys and Bubba Knight (Credit:

Gladys and Bubba Knight (Credit:

  • The African American Public Radio Consortium, which brought to NPR “The Tavis Smiley Show” and “Tell Me More,” is offering stations a musical, career-long, three-decade look at Gladys Knight and the Pips, narrated by Bubba Knight, a member of the group and Gladys’ older brother. Journal-isms readers may listen to the two-hour show free of charge by downloading the MP3s here. The production was conceived by KCEP-FM in Las Vegas in partnership with the consortium, Loretta Rucker, consortium executive director, told Journal-isms by email. It has aired in Atlanta; Alcorn, Miss.; Greensboro, N.C. ; Prairie View, Texas; Las Vegas; Jerome, Ariz.; Shreveport, La.; and Gualala, Calif. “Both the producer and the AAPRC are interested in sharing this with any station that requests it,” Rucker said. She may be reached at lerucker (at)
  • Hilary Parkinson of the National Archives introduced readers Monday to Sharon Farmer, who during the Clinton administration became the first woman and the first African American
    "Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill"

    “Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill”

    to be named chief White House photographer. “For Farmer, one of her most memorable assignments took place thousands of miles from the White House,” Parkinson wrote. “ ‘In 1998, I accompanied the President and Mrs. Clinton to Ghana. There was a huge rally in the stadium in Accra. There must have been over 250,000 people cheering the President and First Lady. They were given the kente cloth of the Africans and, wearing them, proudly stood next to President and Mrs. Rawlings of Ghana. What a moment in time!’ . . .”

  • In April 1957, the freelance photographer Jerry Dantzic, working for jazz singer Billie Holiday’s record company, Decca, “drew the assignment of finding a new chapter in her story during an Easter Week engagement at the Sugar Hill club in Newark,” John Leland wrote Tuesday for the “Lens” blog of the New York Times. He also wrote, “Most of Mr. Dantzic’s images were never published until his son Grayson compiled them in ‘Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill,’ which adds a quiet new dimension to the story we thought we knew about Holiday. . . .”

G.D. Regguinti Dies, Organized Native Journalists

Gordon David Regguinti

Gordon David Regguinti

Gordon David Regguinti passed on to the spirit world on February 2, 2017,” Mark Anthony Rolo wrote Tuesday for the Circle News, a Native American publication based in St. Paul, Minn. “He was 62.

“Regguinti was a pioneer in the movement to establish Native American journalism as a legitimate institution, giving critically needed voice to Native peoples from all circles of life. . . .”

Rolo also wrote, “Karen Lincoln Michel (Ho-Chunk), who served as NAJA’s president, said Regguinti was instrumental in shaping the vision for the organization,” referring to the Native American Journalists Association.

“When I think of the people who have given a part of their lives to make NAJA what it is today, Gordon is among that circle of amazing individuals,” Lincoln Michel said. “He poured a lot of his energy into growing the organization from a fledgling nonprofit to a journalism association with a national reputation. He kept the focus on Native journalists and how NAJA could better serve them in the important role they play in their communities.”

“Regguinti’s work with NAJA included securing major foundation grants to underwrite training workshops for emerging Native journalists. He used his position to lobby mainstream news organizations to open their doors and hire more Native people. And he was aggressive in educating Indian Country about the importance of a free tribal press.

“But just as important as strengthening Native American journalism, Regguinti shared a growing vision among all journalists of color — the power of a collective voice on behalf of those who represent their communities. Regguinti was on the ground floor in helping to create UNITY: Journalists of Color, an umbrella organization of minority journalism organizations who, together sought to bring leverage on the mainstream news media to hire more journalists of color and to demand improved coverage of their communities. . . .”

Short Takes

Adriana Diaz

Adriana Diaz


(Credit: Kea Dupree Photography)

“From the time I was hired as the first African American female reporter at The Washington Post 55 years ago, I have been fanatical about diversity in mainstream media because I know it produces fairer, more democratic news for all Americans. At a time when a powerful and inclusive media is more important than ever, the relevance of “Journal-isms” grows daily.”

Dorothy Gilliam, veteran journalist, 19-year Washington Post columnist; former president, National Association of Black Journalists; co-founder, Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

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