‘Not Enough’ Investigative Reporters of Color

Wilkins Recalled as Father Confessor, Go-To Guy

. . . ‘Tried to Educate’ Washington Post Editor

3 More File Discrimination Complaints Against Fox

Trump News Overwhelming Famine Crisis

Richmond Paper to Neo-Confederates: Surrender

Sinclair Could Reach 7 of 10 Americans

Black, Latino Voter Turnout Declined in ’16

Morgan State U. Eyes Investigative Reporting

Surgery Successful for Van Susteren Protege

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Much of the recent investigative reporting on President Trump involves what took place at this White House meeting with Russian officials this month, which was closed to American journalists. (Credit: Russian Foreign Ministry)

Much of the recent investigative reporting on President Trump involves what took place May 10 at this White House meeting with Russian officials, which was closed to American journalists. (Credit: Russian Foreign Ministry)

‘Not Enough’ Investigative Reporters of Color

Much is being made of the rivalry between the New York Times and the Washington Post that resulted in a dizzying series of scoops in the two papers last week about President Donald Trump and his associates’ ties to Russia.

Such investigative revelations can have not only far-reaching consequences for the nation but also career-enhancing rewards for the journalists who break the stories.

In the case of the Times and Post, however, none of those journalists is African American or Hispanic.

The Post’s Dana Milbank named some of them on Friday.

I suspect they won’t be getting Presidential Medals of Freedom anytime soon, so let’s celebrate some of them here,” Milbank wrote.

“At The Post: Adam Entous, Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Sari Horwitz, Greg Jaffe and Julie Tate, along with columnist David Ignatius. At the New York Times: Michael Schmidt, Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman, Matt Apuzzo and Scott Shane. The two rivals, combined, have produced one breathtaking scoop after another. . . .”

Journal-isms asked news executives at the two news organizations why they thought black and brown journalists were not on Milbank’s list.

Monday's "Today" show on NBC featured black journalists Kristen Welker, Lester Holt and Craig Melvin in the Middle East. (Credit: NBC)

Monday’s “Today” show on NBC featured, from left, black journalists Kristen Welker, Lester Holt and Craig Melvin in the Middle East. (Credit: NBC)

Scott Wilson, national editor of the Post, said by email, “I don’t think looking [at] a small group of reporters is the best way to assess the diversity of a newsroom as big as ours or of a National staff as big as ours, which is well-represented on some of the biggest beats and assignments by African American and Latino reporters. That said, deepening our staff’s diversity is and will remain a priority of The Post.”

He said his National staff has about 100 reporters, editors and producers.

Dean Baquet, executive editor of the Times, attributed the low representation to an industry-wide problem.

“There are not enough investigative reporters who happen to be African American or Latino,” Baquet said by email.

“To be honest, there never were. I used to [go] to IRE conferences when I was an investigative reporter, and I was the only reporter of color,” he wrote, referring to Investigative Reporters & Editors. “That’s probably changed some, or at least I hope it has.”

Doug Haddix, executive director of IRE, told Journal-isms by email, “I think it’s changed and continues to improve. IRE has ongoing partnerships with organizations such as NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA and the Ida B. Wells Society for training and resources,” referring to the national associations of black, Hispanic and Asian American journalists and the recently formed society for journalists of color furthering investigative reporting.

“We provide diversity fellowships and scholarships to our conferences and data bootcamps. We actively work to ensure diversity on panels at our national conferences. And our keynote speaker at this year’s national IRE conference is Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times Magazine.

“So, yes, IRE has made progress over the years. We recognize that we still have a lot of work to do, and are eager to partner with anyone who can help us ensure that our organization reflects the broad diversity in our industry and society as a whole.”

Outside of the investigative pieces, other reporters of color, such as Abby Phillip of the Post, Rebecca R. Ruiz of the Times and Jeff Pegues of CBS News, have reported parts of the larger story. So have many columnists and commentators.

Reminded that some readers might ask what the Times is doing to increase the pipeline of investigative reporters, Baquet replied, “I should point out three Black editors — me, [national editor] Marc Lacey and [deputy international editor] Greg Winter are deeply involved in Trump Coverage.” He also named reporters Frances (Frenchy) Robles and Yamiche Alcindor; Erica Green, who covers Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; Helene Cooper, Pentagon correspondent; and Ron Nixon, who does investigative work in Washington.

Meanwhile, NBC deployed three on-air journalists of color to Trump’s nine-day visit to the Middle East: Lester Holt, who anchored “NBC Nightly News” from Jerusalem on Monday; “Today” national correspondent Craig Melvin, traveling with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in Jordan; and correspondent Kristen Welker.

Roger Wilkins, a proud graduate of the University of Michigan, is remembered Saturday at Sidwell Friends School in Washington. (Credit: Richard Prince)

Roger Wilkins, a proud alumnus of the University of Michigan, is remembered Saturday at Sidwell Friends School in Washington. (Credit: Richard Prince)

Wilkins Recalled as Father Confessor, Go-To Guy

To black journalists at the New York Times, Roger W. Wilkins, an editorial writer there in the 1970s, was “a father confessor and an adviser,” Charlayne Hunter-Gault, a former Times reporter, told about 350 people gathered to remember Wilkins Saturday in Washington.

To his colleagues in the “Free South Africa” anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, Wilkins was “a vital link between many, many communities,” one who “knew people who knew people,” according to Cicely Counts, a fellow activist in that cause.

Wilkins was familiar to the District of Columbia police tasked with arresting the demonstrators during those ’80s sit-ins. But Wilkins was also the man who could arrange a plane to shuttle Nelson Mandela to welcoming crowds in the United States after South Africa freed him in 1990, so he wouldn’t have to travel by bus.

Wilkins died on March 26 at 75 of complications from dementia. In the printed program for the memorial service, held at Sidwell Friends School, he was introduced as “a man of moral vision, statesman, journalist, writer, leader, professor, organizer, father, husband, and friend.”

Jack R. Censer, dean of the College of Humanities and Human Sciences at George Mason University, where Wilkins taught history for 20 years starting in 1987, said “the students adored him.”

His youngest daughter, Elizabeth Wilkins, recalled a dad who could be silly with her. They played a recurring game to see who could first tap the other and say “BONG!”

Wilkins’ appeal crossed racial divides, with the memorial service audience about 60 percent white. A few of the mourners, such as Eleanor Holmes Norton, the D.C. delegate to Congress, were among 380 people who that morning attended a service for Eddie N. Williams, longtime president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the African American think tank.

Remembering her days at the Times with Wilkins, Hunter-Gault spoke about sessions at Sardi’s, a watering hole near the Times building, where frustrated black Times journalists could talk with Wilkins over “snacks.”

Hunter-Gault received pushback in the early ’70s when she urged the Times to adapt to changing tastes and use “black” instead of “Negro.” Wilkins told her to “hang in there,” and eventually her position prevailed.

Lena Williams was struggling as a Times intern who was repeatedly passed over while white journalists in her position were being promoted. “She was thinking of going somewhere else,” Hunter-Gault said. “Roger said he didn’t suffer fools or indignities gladly, and urged her to do the same.” Williams remained and went on to become a sports reporter.

Wilkins knew he was valued highly by management, and so he signed on to a lawsuit in support of blacks who claimed discrimination. As expected, management took the suit more seriously, and a settlement was reached shortly before trial was to begin.

“Even today, some of those struggles continue,” Hunter-Gault said. “I’m so proud to find a younger generation of journalists delving into black history. Roger Wilkins is one of the giants on whose shoulders they stand.”

. . . ‘Tried to Educate’ Washington Post Editor

Before Roger Wilkins joined the New York Times, he was an editorial writer at the Washington Post, where his editorials during Watergate helped earn the Post the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for public service.

Wilkins was also supportive of the Metro Seven, young black Metro desk reporters (including this columnist) who filed a discrimination complaint against the Post in 1972 before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Nick Kotz

Nick Kotz

Nick Kotz, a National desk reporter at the time, recalled Wilkins’ involvement in an email to Journal-isms on Monday.

“Roger Wilkins, who was on the editorial staff, and I on the national staff in the early 1970s, talked often about what was going on in your fight and how various of us might try to help.

“One subject was the silence of the National staff and of the editorial staff.

“So at some point, I asked reporters on the national staff to have an informal dinner meeting after work at a nearby restaurant to talk about the issue and the need for us to take a stand. About 8 to 10 of us met.

“But before we did anything more than talk, [Executive Editor Benjamin C.] Bradlee heard about the dinner, and let me and others know of his displeasure that we were meddling in something that was none of our business.

“Almost immediately, however, Bradlee did appoint a group of reporters and editors headed by Bill Greider, to advise him about discrimination in the newsroom. I don’t know what came out of that group.

“Roger, a ‘social friend’ of Bradlee, constantly tried ‘to educate him.’ Beyond question, it was the lawsuit and your tenacity that finally got some results.

[Greider adds to the story in an email:

[“Bradlee in the early 70s finally realizes the issue of racial inequality (even for white women!!) was not going away and so he appoints a newsroom committee peopled with six or eight well-known bleeding hearts, myself included.  I had long hair and a swarthy look, some colleagues thought I was an Indian.
[“I wish I could remember all the names but I think I was the nominal chair.  We met under the auspices of an asst managing editor (whose name was actually Robert E. Lee [Baker] but he was a serious good guy who encouraged us to do serious stuff but adroitly). We met every few months and began with obvious easy stuff.  Get some facts. We persuaded the editors to produce a survey of the newsroom which naturally shocked and embarrassed management (briefly).
William Greider

William Greider

[“Then [Baker] either retired or got a different assignment. He was replaced with a stiff-necked old-school company hack and she just sat on us.  After a few months of futility, I proposed that we expose the charade by resigning en masse.  Everyone on the committee agreed.  It was a yawn in the newsroom.

[“It might have ended there except for Peggy Cafritz who was then a TV reporter at WTOP (then owned by the Wash Post).  She decided to do a piece on this pro-integration liberal newspaper and was interviewing editors and reporters [for a an hour-long docuentary on professional personnel, Cafritz says.]  When she got to me — wonder of wonders — I just told her the truth. About the failed committee and our meek little rebellion.  She did a good straight piece. on integration at the Wash Post and, who knows, maybe our  pitiful little committee had some impact once it was defunct. . . .]

Kotz continued, “Roger was a powerful voice for justice and decency in so many ways. We met at the Gridiron dinner in 1970 and became lifetime friends. After that dinner, we drank and talked through the night, both of us incredulous and angry at a piano duet performed by President Nixon and Vice President Agnew and the reaction of the all-white (except for Roger and [District of Columbia] Mayor [Walter E.] Washington) crowd of journalists and leaders from politics and business.

“Nixon and Agnew played ‘Dixie’ — a symbol of their racist ‘southern strategy’ that probably was instrumental in their winning the 1968 election, and the audience roared with laughter. Roger and I, and hopefully others, were not amused.

“Not long after the dinner, Roger wrote an op-ed for the Post with the headline “A Black at the Gridiron Dinner.”

“His passion and eloquence in that piece led to his newspaper career first at the Post and then at the NYT.”

3 More File Discrimination Complaints Against Fox

Three current and former Fox News employees have filed legal complaints alleging discrimination at the conservative news channel,” Kelsey Sutton reported Monday for mic.com. [PDF]

“The new suits, which were filed Monday against Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox, come amid a slew of other complaints alleging a company culture that tolerated gender discrimination, sexual harassment and race discrimination. . . . ”

Sutton also wrote, “The law firm that brought forth Monday’s complaints is also representing a black IT employee whose complaints against liberal Fox News co-anchor Bob Beckel led to Beckel’s termination on Friday.

“That employee has not yet taken legal action. . .”

In one allegation of racial discrimination, the Wigdor LLP law firm said in a news release, “Naima Farrow worked for Fox News as an Accounts Payable Coordinator from July 2014 to November 2015.

“Despite her impeccable performance, Ms. Farrow was terminated less than 72 hours after disclosing her pregnancy to her supervisor, Fox News Special Projects Manager Kim Jacobson. Ms. Farrow, who is Black, was also subjected to a racially hostile work environment at the hands of Fox News’s former Controller, Judith Slater, who also discriminated against 15 of our other clients.

“Among other discriminatory conduct, Ms. Slater often opened conversations with Ms. Farrow by stating, ‘hey girlfriend’ in a mocking and stereotypical impersonation of a Black woman.

“Earlier today, Ms. Farrow filed suit in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York. . . . ”

Trump News Overwhelming Famine Crisis

The former South Carolina governor who now heads the U.N.’s World Food Program says the media’s focus on President Donald Trump is taking away attention from the risk of famine in Africa and the Middle East,” Jamey Keaten reported May 15 for the Associated Press.

“ ‘This is not fake news, this is reality,’ said WFP Director-General David Beasley.

“Beasley, a Republican whose March appointment was supported by the Trump administration, spoke to reporters Monday after his organization and the U.N. refugee agency updated an appeal for $1.4 billion to help refugees fleeing South Sudan.

“Beasley cited a need to ‘rise above all the confusion,’ particularly in ‘high-donor states’ like the U.S.

“ ‘I mean literally if you turn on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN — it’s nothing but Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump!’ he said, referring to U.S. TV networks. ‘And very little information about the famines in Syria, northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen.’ . . .”

“The U.N. says roughly 20 million people in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen are facing possible famine. Refugee agency UNHCR says South Sudan has become the source of ‘the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis,’ with some 1.8 million people — including 1 million children — seeking safety in six neighboring countries. Nearly 900,000 are in Uganda alone. . . .”

Stuart Circle on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., honors Gen. J.E.B. Stuart.

Stuart Circle on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., honors Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart. (Credit: City of Richmond)

Richmond Paper to Neo-Confederates: Surrender

Charlottesville may be home to the University of Virginia but protesters there recently flunked the test,” the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch editorialized Thursday.

“A white-power gathering that assembled to support statues of Confederate heroes burned torches to illuminate the night. Dumb move. At least they did not wear hoods and white robes. The imagery was still deplorable.

“It also undermined the argument that homages to the Confederacy are intended solely to honor Southern heritage rather than racial hate. . . .”

Richmond was the capital of the Old Confederacy and hosts huge statues of Confederate figures — tourist attractions — on its Monument Avenue.

Nevertheless, the editorial concluded, “By now, little doubt remains that the ongoing effort to reclaim Confederate totems and rehabilitate them as symbols of valor and nobility is just another lost cause.”

Separately, citing the white supremacists who demonstrated in Charlottesville, Brent Staples wrote Monday in the New York Times, “Nazism and the tradition of American white supremacy that is memorialized in monuments throughout the South are the fruit of the same poisonous tree. In this light, the Confederate flag can legitimately be seen as an alternate version of the Nazi emblem. . . .”

Sinclair Could Reach 7 of 10 Americans

When French voters resoundingly elected a centrist president rather than a right-leaning antiglobalist this month, one reason may have been the nation’s news media,” Margaret Sullivan reported Sunday for the Washington Post.

“As a French newspaper editor commented: ‘We don’t have a Fox News in France.’

“The United States certainly does have one. Pretty soon, it may have the equivalent of two.

“Sinclair Broadcast Group has struck a deal with Tribune Media to buy dozens of local TV stations.

“And what Fox News is for cable, Sinclair could become for broadcast: programming with a soupcon — or more — of conservative spin.

“Already, Sinclair is the largest owner of local TV stations in the nation. If the $3.9 billion deal gets regulatory approval, Sinclair would have 7 of every 10 Americans in its potential audience.

” ‘That’s too much power to repose in one entity,’ Michael Copps, who served on the FCC from 2001 to 2012, told me. Sinclair would have 215 stations, including ones in big markets such as Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago, instead of the 173 it has now. . . .”

Black, Latino Voter Turnout Declined in ’16

Racial minorities, especially black Americans, played a pivotal role in Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential wins,” William H. Frey reported Thursday for the Brookings Institution.

“Now, newly released Census Bureau data confirm what many have anticipated: that both minority and black voter turnout took a decided downturn in last November’s elections — helping to compound the impact of the lower than 2012 vote margins that Democrat Hillary Clinton received in her loss to Donald Trump.

“Minority and black turnout was not only lower in the national statistics but also in key swing states. . . .”

Frey also wrote, “Hispanics and Asians shifted in different directions, though the turnout for both stayed below 50 percent. While many expected a strong Hispanic turnout surge in a Trump-Clinton match-up, Hispanics registered a modest 0.4 percent decline. Of the major minority groups, only Asians increased their voter turnout. . . .”

Morgan State U. Eyes Investigative Reporting

Morgan State University is in talks with USA Today about developing an investigative journalism program at the school, DeWayne Wickham, dean of the School of Global Journalism & Communication, told Tyler Falk of current.org on Thursday.

Such a program would be one of the first, if not the first, at a historically black college or university. “We’re still in the early stages of this effort,” Wickham told Journal-isms on Monday.

The USA Today Network, which includes newspapers owned by Gannett Co., Inc., has already partnered with Morgan State “to create a journalism course co-taught by a staff editor and university professor,” Carlett Spike reported in February for Columbia Journalism Review.

Brent W. Jones

Brent Jones

“Students will contribute to the Policing the USA project. By working more closely with students interested in the field, the hope is twofold, USA Today Standards and Ethics editor Brent Jones tells CJR. It helps students develop skills and it exposes them to USA Today’s massive network of newspapers — which offers internship and job opportunities. . . .”

Jones, who is also director of Standards & Ethics for Gannett, told Journal-isms Monday by email, “We want to be intentional about how we tackle the challenges of accuracy, which includes the importance of diversity and inclusion. One of the students from the database class partnership will actually be interning in our newsroom this summer.

“Separately, the USA TODAY Network will be among media partners as part of Morgan State University’s ‘Anatomy of a Story’ project. . . . In short, the project came out of a brainstorm Morgan facilitated at the National Press Club earlier this year to address the importance of news media literacy and trust in existing credible journalism. News orgs will share as a part of a video documentary the work behind coverage. We’ll discuss one of our investigative pieces. Details are in the works.”

Sampson and Greta Van Susterin after successful surgery at the Mayo Clinic. (Credit: Samaritan's Purse)

Sampson and Greta Van Susteren after successful surgery at the Mayo Clinic. (Credit: Samaritan’s Purse)

Surgery Successful for Van Susteren Protege

After receiving life-changing surgery in the United States — thanks to Mayo Clinic and Greta Van Susteren — a 16-year-old named Sampson has returned home to Liberia aboard our DC-8 and was received with much praise and thanksgiving,” the relief agency Samaritan’s Purse reported on Saturday.

Sampson before the surgery.

Sampson before the surgery.

Van Susteren, who has worked at all three U.S. cable news networks, raised $155,953 via GoFundMe in November to help Sampson, who was born with a deformity that covered one eye and partly covered another.

She became interested in Sampson after reading a tweet. “He was abandoned by his mother as an infant and his father died from Ebola,” Rodney D. Sieh reported Monday for frontpageafricaonline.com.

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