Facebook Chastened After Streaming a Killing

Obama Indicated He Understood the Hatin’

‘Not an Emmy Big Enough’ for Oprah in Docudrama

Stories of How Racial, Environmental Justice Cross

2013 Destruction in Calif. Presaged Standing Rock

Reality Check: Police Still Kill People of Color

‘Weeks and Months Without a . . . Latino Expert’

Undefeated Wins Praise From ESPN Public Editor

Almost 50 Years Ago, the News Industry Was Called Out on Race. How Should That Be Commemorated?

Short Takes



Facebook Chastened After Streaming a Killing

By now, Cleveland has had more than a little experience at being the center of a big national story. What has been dubbed the “Facebook murder” found Cleveland media competing online Monday with live updates, streamed news conferences and the debunking of “facts” spread on social media.

Moreover, a chastened Facebook re-examined what its technology had spawned. On Tuesday came a denouement from Erie, Pa.

Erie police have confirmed the suicide in Erie on Tuesday of Steve Stephens, the Cleveland resident suspected of fatally shooting a Cleveland man on Sunday and posting video of the slaying on Facebook,” Tim Hahn reported for the Erie Times-News and GoErie.com. “Stephens died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while driving a white Ford Fusion near Buffalo Road and Downing Avenue around 11:10 a.m., police said. . . . ”

As Benjamin Mullin wrote for the Poynter Institute, “Facebook user Steve Stephens uploaded a video of himself killing a man and boasting that he murdered several other people. Facebook removed and condemned the video, but not before it had spread widely and raised questions about the company’s ability to police its own social network for horrific content.” The boast of having killed several others was not substantiated.

Stephens, the subject of a manhunt, and the slain man, Robert Godwin, 74, are both African American, their photos widely published. However, that did not stop some on the Internet from complaining that race was omitted from CNN’s descriptions of the suspect, reviving questions about when citing race is appropriate.

The Associated Press stylebook, used in many newsrooms, says identification by race or ethnicity is pertinent “. . . For suspects sought by the police or missing person cases using police or other credible, detailed descriptions. Such descriptions apply for all races. The racial reference should be removed when the individual is apprehended or found.”

CNN spokespeople did not speak to the issue when asked to respond.

On Monday, Advance Ohio/cleveland.com, which serves cleveland.com and the Plain Dealer newspaper, devoted these resources to the story, according to Chris Quinn, president and editor of Advance Ohio/cleveland.com:

11 “content producers working it full-time,

“2 social media producers committed to it,

“2 editors working it full time,

“2 editors working it pretty much half time,

“and several folks managing where the content gets slotted on the website.”

Killing became a national story.

Killing became a national story.

Moreover, “If Stephens shows up somewhere outside our region, we’ve got a reporter and a videographer ready to get there as fast as possible,” Quinn said by email.

He added, “The biggest challenge was the news breaking on Easter. A lot of people had settled in for convivial dinners, and it took a bit to get organized on Sunday. By late evening, the team was in place.

“But, the Cleveland crew has some pretty good experience with crime stories of international renown. We’re pretty struck by how often it happens here. The gruesome killings by Anthony Sowell [reported in 2011]. The mind-blowing emergence of Ariel Castro’s captives after 10 years in his house [reported in 2013]. The police killing of Tamir Rice [in 2015]. This latest one ranks up there with those for being so damned unique.”

Competing news organizations also deployed shoe leather to keep pace with the flood of tips solicited by authorities.

News 5 went to about a dozen scenes from the east side of Cleveland to Solon to Chesterland,Courtney Danser and Tara Molina of WEWS-TV reported on Sunday and Monday. “We shot video of several white cars — like the one the suspect is reportedly driving — being checked out by police.”

Danser and Molina also told viewers, ” . . . if News 5 isn’t publishing new information, it doesn’t mean we’re not investigating it. It just means the information has not been deemed credible. . . .”

WEWS News Director Jeff Harris told Journal-isms by email, “Bottom line, we are throwing nearly all of our available resources at the story – including our entire investigative unit. The event is disturbing and important on so many levels it needs as much in-depth and contextual reporting as possible.”

Elsewhere, journalists and tech writers focused on the risks of technology such as Facebook Live.

Livestream and crowdsourced content involves risk for everyone: platforms, publishers, consumers and advertisers,” media reporter Sara Fischer wrote Monday for Axios.

“There’s no real regulation around either, forcing everyone to make some tough decisions around how to weigh the risk of an imperfect technologies. . . .”

Justin Osofsky, Facebook vice president for global operations, said in a statement Monday, “As a result of this terrible series of events, we are reviewing our reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible.

“In this case, we did not receive a report about the first video, and we only received a report about the second video — containing the shooting — more than an hour and 45 minutes after it was posted. We received reports about the third video, containing the man’s live confession, only after it had ended.

“We disabled the suspect’s account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the murder video, and two hours after receiving a report of any kind. But we know we need to do better.

“In addition to improving our reporting flows, we are constantly exploring ways that new technologies can help us make sure Facebook is a safe environment. . . .”

On TV One’s “NewsOne Now” on Monday, Roland Martin, host and managing editor, focused on the significant human dimension in a conversation with Dr. Jeff Menzies, president of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists.

“It’s not so uncommon for people to live so close to the edge psychologically,” Menzies said. “Oftentimes they give us warning signs. They may be subtle to some, but those of us who know what we’re looking at, we see it bright as day. This guy, he probably reached out to several people and is seen as high strung or maybe having a certain level of anxiety, but nobody could predict what he did yesterday,” said Menzies.

“The human mind is very fragile. It’s so easy to influence it. When you have such a public platform as Facebook and all these other social media outlets, you have people who get on stage and they want to do their last hurrah. They want to go out with a bang.

“Without the proper assessment you can’t determine what was going on within this man. We have to try to promote mental health in the black community especially because it’s still a stigma. People still have a stigma to come in and say ‘Hey man, I’m stressed, I have problems, I’m thinking about hurting people, how can I get over this?’ ”


Obama Indicated He Understood the Hatin’

While he was still president, Barack Obama sat down with Ta-Nehisi Coates and discussed what it’s like to be a symbol of power and the recipient of people’s anger and excitement,” the Atlantic wrote on April 10.

Atlantic designer and animator Jackie Lay took Obama’s words from that interview to produce a fresh cartoon under the headline, “Barack Obama Is Okay With the Criticism.”

Meanwhile, Jennifer Smith reported Monday for Dailymail.com, “The former First Couple joined Bruce Springsteen Tom Hanks and their wives on music mogul David Geffen’s superyacht Rising Sun on Friday, making quite the splash as they arrived at the vessel off the island of Mo’orea in a spruced up speedboat. . . .”

Oprah Winfrey was also along for the trip to French Polynesia.

Brian Stelter added for his “Reliable Sources” newsletter, “Another vacationer that wasn’t mentioned in the news coverage: Gayle King. But she was visible in one of the paparazzi photos from the trip.

“When I inquired, a CBS News spokeswoman confirmed that King was in the photo… but declined to comment on the ethical quandaries that a vacation with a recent ex-president might present. Of course, it’s no secret that King travels in A-list circles… she sometimes talks about it on ‘CBS This Morning…’ ”

‘Not an Emmy Big Enough’ for Oprah in Docudrama

We have been here before,” David Zurawik wrote Saturday for the Baltimore Sun.

“In 2004, HBO made a docudrama about medicine, research, prejudice and race at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1940s and ’50s. That film, ‘Something the Lord Made,’ starring Alan Rickman and Mos Def, won three Emmy Awards including one for Best Television Movie.

” ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,’ starring Oprah Winfrey and debuting April 22 on HBO, is better than that. There is not an Emmy big enough to do justice to Winfrey’s performance as Deborah Lacks, the indomitable daughter of a Turners Station woman whose cancerous cells changed the face of medicine after they were harvested without her knowledge or consent at Johns Hopkins in 1951. . . .”

Stories of How Racial, Environmental Justice Cross

” ‘After traveling around the South conducting environmental tests and speaking with residents, Tennie White began to see a pattern: Many of the most polluted places she visited also were home to predominantly black and brown people,’ ” the Center for Investigative Reporting wrote in its Reveal newsletter Monday, introducing a podcast.

“Better-off white areas? They didn’t seem to be facing the same troubles.

“White, who owned an environmental testing lab in Jackson, Mississippi, brought her concerns to the Environmental Protection Agency. But rather than working with her to clean things up, the agency accused White of fabricating test results. She served 27 months in federal prison – a term that critics say was disproportionately harsh. She was released in 2015.

“White’s story is at the center of this week’s episode, which investigates how issues of racial justice and environmental justice intersect. And hers isn’t the only tale.

“The predominantly black city of Flint, Michigan, has taken steps to alleviate last year’s drinking water crisis, including offering up free bottled water to residents. But as Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith reports, educating the public about ongoing risks is a complex endeavor.

“And in Anniston, Alabama, residents say a toxic legacy from the chemical giant Monsanto is causing disease and premature death. An eventual $600 million settlement provided few answers — and little recourse.”

For centuries, the Northern Pomo people of California thrived in the lush wetland valley that was known as Bito’m-kai. (Credit: Rachel de Leon/Reveal)

2013 Destruction in Calif. Presaged Standing Rock

The Northern Pomo people of California thrived in the lush wetland valley known as Bito’m-kai for millennia, fishing salmon from percolating creeks, gathering natural medicines and managing natural resources to feed thousands,” Marc Dadigan wrote Friday for Reveal, newsletter of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

“By the time anthropology researcher Samuel Barrett arrived in the early 1900s, many of the Pomo village sites he assiduously recorded had been abandoned. Barrett noted that the village of Yami, on the south shore of the valley, once ‘supported a considerable Indian population.’

“More than a century later, state road building officials emailed chairmen of the Pomo tribes: Yami had been affected during nighttime construction of the Willits Bypass, a $300 million, 5.9-mile roadway that would cleave the valley. The village site had not been recorded by the California Department of Transportation’s archaeologists. Contractors had pierced it with 1,100 wick drains burrowing 60 feet underground and covered the area with tons of fill dirt.

“Although it received no national media coverage, the 2013 destruction of Yami presaged what happened at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Sept. 3 — one of the most infamous days of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. With cameras rolling, contractors started pushing dirt over burial sites within view of protesters. . . .”

Reality Check: Police Still Kill People of Color

We hardly ever hear about police shootings anymore, and it is good to see that law-enforcement officers have figured out how to stem the alarming epidemic of police killing people of color,” Michael Harriot wrote March 24 for The Root.Chico march and memorial

“Except they haven’t.

“According to the Washington Post’s database that tracks police shootings, 237 people have been shot and killed by police this year. That is 14 more people than had been shot and killed by police at this point last year. If you count all the people who died during encounters with police, including Tasers, physical force and other methods (as the website Killed by Police does), the total jumps to 278 for the year, five more than last year at this time.

“So why haven’t police killings been on the front pages of all the newspapers this year? The same reason the Soulja BoyBow Wow album didn’t go platinum. No one cares anymore. People have moved on. Black America has always been aware of and screamed about police brutality, but the larger popular culture only started caring about it when they happened upon the Eric Garner video on BuzzFeed or Reddit, or whatever the Caucasian equivalent of The Root may be. …

“.  . . In case you missed it, here are some police killings this year that are just as deplorable as the ones that made headlines last year, but no one is talking about:

Alteria Woods, 21, Gifford, Fla.: March 9 . . .

Desmond Phillips, 25, [Chico], Calif.: March 17 . . .

Rodney James Hess, 36, Alamo, Tenn.: March 16 . . .

Chad Roberson, 25, Chicago: Feb. 8 . . .

Jerome Keith Allen, 22, Jacksonville, Fla.: Feb. 6 . . .

Daundre Phillips, 24, Atlanta: Jan. 26 . . .

Armound Brown, 25, Kenner, La.: Jan. 23 . . .”

‘Weeks and Months Without a . . . Latino Expert’

Day Without a MexicanIn 2004, Sergio Arau’s film ‘A Day Without a Mexican’ hit movie screens nationwide. Its message, simply put: California would come to a paralyzing standstill if all of its Latino and Chicano population were to disappear overnight. It is time for a sequel: ‘A Year Without Latinos,’ ” Luis Martinez-Fernandez, an author and history professor at the University of Central Florida, wrote March 23 for the Orlando Sentinel.

Martinez-Fernandez also wrote, “Plenty of shows cast white, African-American, Indian (as from India — Native Americans are actually more invisible than we are), Asian, even extraterrestrials as doctors, lawyers and successful business people, but one is hard-pressed to find Latinos playing such roles.

“The invisibility and stereotypical characterization of Latinos/Hispanics runs the entire gamut of TV programming, even advertising. Gone are the days when home-improvement channels had a Bob Vila. Has anyone noticed that in such programs, Latinos/Hispanics appear as manual laborers; workers taking orders from white bosses; or background filler.

“What about the fact that in all of its years on the air (since 1997) Barbara Walters’ The View has never had a regular Hispanic host? — thank you, Wikipedia. The same holds true for its younger rival show The Talk. Is it acceptable that talk shows purporting to provide a wide range of women’s perspectives function without the Latina view? [Rosie Perez was co-host in 2014.]

“TV news shows such as Anderson Cooper 360° — which I enjoy watching — and Hardball With Chris Matthews — I wrote him about this a year ago — go on for weeks and months without the presence of a single Latino expert, pundit or commentator. Why do we accept that individuals who are neither Latino nor knowledgeable about our culture express views and opinions on our political behavior, cultural preferences and values? . . .”

 President Obama and ESPN "SportsCenter" anchor Stan Verrett, who hosted and moderated the town hall in Greensboro, N.C. "ESPN’s The Undefeated, a website devoted to sports, race, culture and historically black colleges and universities, has picked A&T specifically because of its size — it’s the largest HBCU in the country — and prestige," John Newsome reported for the News & Record in Greensboro.

President Obama and ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Stan Verrett, who hosted and moderated a town hall in Greensboro, N.C. , on Oct. 11. “ESPN’s The Undefeated, a website devoted to sports, race, culture and historically black colleges and universities, has picked A&T specifically because of its size — it’s the largest HBCU in the country — and prestige,” John Newsome reported for the News & Record in Greensboro.

Undefeated Wins Praise From ESPN Public Editor

“ ‘Hey, ESPN: Stick to sports, ‘ ” Jim Brady, ESPN public editor, wrote on Wednesday.

“I’ve read thousands of social media posts and reader emails about ESPN over the past 15 months. If there’s one phrase that tends to surface most frequently, it’s that chestnut suggesting the network’s only proper place is in the athletics lane. . . .”

Brady went on to discuss the Undefeated, the site that launched last year covering the intersection of sports, race and culture.

“Whether or not you’re on board with the heavy focus on culture and politics, The Undefeated’s body of work is impressive. Freed from the pressures of daily coverage — it has the ESPN.com engine to cover the day’s sports news — the site has produced many excellent longform pieces, such as Andrew Maraniss’ profile of former Alabama men’s basketball coach C.M. Newton, Jill Hudson’s dissection of Cam Newton’s fashion style, Kelley Carter’s chronicling of ballerina Misty Copeland’s trip to Cuba and Jesse Washington’s fascinating exploration of the 1916 lynching of his namesake.

“The site also has experimented with new story forms, like this foray into video poetry by Newbery Medal-winning poet Kwame Alexander. Former NFL player Domonique Foxworth and The Undefeated’s Clinton Yates also host an entertaining weekly video series called ‘Locker Room Lawyer.’

“In July, the site scored a journalistic and philosophical coup when it published an exclusive statement from Michael Jordan, in which the basketball legend decried the shootings of African-Americans by police, and violence directed at police officers. In many ways, Jordan’s statement served as a sign of how much the scenery has changed at the intersection of sports and culture, as Jordan was once criticized by many for his desire to avoid that junction.

“That said, The Undefeated has had some bumps. The site caught some well-deserved flak for a Jameis Winston piece that was too dismissive of serious sexual assault allegations leveled against the then-Florida State quarterback. And a column by ‘Pardon the Interruption’ host Michael Wilbon that suggested advanced analytics and blacks don’t mix led to some backlash, even from colleagues inside ESPN.

“Through the end of the last year, though, the biggest lingering question appeared to be whether enough people were reading the site. According to comScore, The Undefeated reached 834,000 unique visitors in December 2016, hardly a sterling number considering the strong promotion the site gets from ESPN’s home page and across other platforms. Before December, unique visitors had declined in four of the previous five months, after a 2016 high of 2,866,000 visitors in July.

“But just as the calendar flipped, so did the numbers. In January, The Undefeated surged to 3,650,000 unique visitors, and followed it up with 3,318,000 in February. ESPN says the 2017 surge is due to a fix made to comScore’s tracking of The Undefeated that took effect in January.

“Among those satisfied with The Undefeated is one very important client — [ESPN President John] Skipper, who, when asked about the site’s progress, said he is ‘very happy. We have seen remarkable growth in the first 10 months.’ . . .”

The Kerner Commission report was issued March 1, 1968,

The Kerner Commission report was issued on March 1, 1968.

Almost 50 Years Ago, the News Industry Was Called Out on Race. How Should That Be Commemorated?

It will be 50 years next March since the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission, shook the news media with its declaration that “the journalistic profession has been shockingly backward in seeking out, hiring, training, and promoting Negroes.”

The Kerner report also said, “News organizations must employ enough Negroes in positions of significant responsibility to establish an effective link to Negro actions and ideas and to meet legitimate employment expectations.”

The report led to training programs for journalists of color and increased hiring. In 1978, the American Society of News Editors set a goal of achieving parity in newsrooms with the percentage of people of color in the general population by 2000. Twenty years later, the goal was changed to 2025. The 2000 goal was not met, but “diversity” is now part of industry language and outreach efforts continue. Ethnic diversity now also includes Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans.

How should the news industry commemorate this 50-year milestone?

Richard Prince, author of “Journal-isms” and a member of ASNE’s Diversity Committee, is submitting ideas to the organization and would like to include those from readers.

Please send to journal-isms-owner (at) yahoogroups.com by this Friday, April 21. Or you can simply use the Comments section, below.

Chapter 15 of the Kerner Commission report, “The News Media and the Disorders,” is here.

A brief summary of Chapter 15 is here [PDF]. (Go to Chapter 15)

Short Takes

Veteran journalist Joy-Ann Reid of MSNBC and political commentator Angela Rye are among 12 women featured on Essence magazine's "100 Woke Women" May anniversary issue.

Veteran journalist Joy-Ann Reid of MSNBC, top row, third from  left,  and political commentator Angela Rye, top, right, are among 12 women featured on Essence magazine’s “100 Woke Women” May anniversary issue.


(Courtesy Alison Bethel McKenzie)

“Richard Prince sent me away. I don’t remember his exact words, but it was at one of his regular D.C. dinners that he pulled me aside, handed me the phone and said, ‘Talk. They need an editor in The Bahamas and I mentioned your name. Talk.’

“The decision to get on that phone and the later decision to take the managing director position at a newspaper in the Caribbean changed the trajectory of my life — and my career (or maybe it fulfilled by destiny). Ten years later, I am still outside of the country promoting the craft the best I know how — editing, training, coaching, mentoring, fighting for press freedom.

“Richard Prince has ALWAYS been in my corner, as a friend and as an adviser. No matter how far away I am, he is there — encouraging, cheering, clapping, looking for the next scoop. As for his column, it is a must-read for anyone who wants to know anything about what is happening in the media with minorities and globally with press freedom.

“Journal-isms reaches me around the world. It inspires me, sometimes makes me angry and often leaves me just shaking my head. But it always informs. Thank you, Prince, for your dedication, your insatiable curiosity and, most importantly, your friendship and support.”

Alison Bethel McKenzie, veteran journalist, visiting professor of print and investigative journalism at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media in Bangalore, India; vice president, Media Institute of the Caribbean.

Support Journal-isms

Facebook users: “Like” “Richard Prince’s Journal-isms” on Facebook.

Follow Richard Prince on Twitter @princeeditor

Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince at journal-isms-owner@yahoogroups.com

To be notified of new columns, contact journal-isms-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and tell us who you are.