Scant Coverage for 3,300 Killed in Congo

Anger at System After Release of Dash-Cam Video

JAY-Z Keeps Copy Editors on Their Toes

Media Win; Judge Releases Names of Cosby Jurors

Pimentel Is Editorial Page Editor in San Antonio

Mexican Journalists Say Their Phones Spy on Them

‘A Queer Black Woman’ Saved Conservative’s Life

TV Chooses White Men to Discuss Health Care Bill

Nominate Diversity-Friendly J-Educator This Week

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Support Journal-isms

Congolese women and children arrive at a border point in Chissanda, Lunda Norte, Angola after fleeing militia attacks in Kasai Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Credit: © UNHCR/Pumla Rulashe) Congolese women and children arrive at a border point in Chissanda, Lunda Norte, Angola, after fleeing militia attacks in Kasai Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Credit: © UNHCR/Pumla Rulashe)

Scant Coverage for 3,300 Killed in Congo

If at least 3,383 people had been killed since October in North America or Europe, with babies maimed amid other atrocities, you can bet that readers and viewers would surely know about it.

The Roman Catholic Church reported Tuesday that such a tragedy is taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but few U.S. news outlets bothered to report it, though dispatches from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse were available.

As reported in this space, such carnage is comparable to the more than 3,600 people killed in Northern Ireland — but over 30 years.

The good news is a Los Angeles Times spokeswoman’s report that Robyn Dixon, who is based in Johannesburg, is filing a story about the tragedy, the result of fighting between Congolese security forces and a militia in the country’s central Kasai region.

The Washington Post relegated the story in its print editions Wednesday to a brief in its world news roundup, which Foreign Editor Douglas Jehl admits was a mistake.

“I agree that the killings underway in Congo have received too little attention and that we should have given the wire dispatch greater prominence,” Jehl told Journal-isms by email.

“Getting access to the region is difficult and dangerous, of course, and even The Post’s formidable, growing staff of nearly two dozen full-time foreign correspondents can’t cover all the many stories each day that merit coverage. We did write about the violence in Congo in a pair of WorldViews posts on March 26 and March 29, and we’ll be discussing what more we can and should do.”

Nick Cumming-Bruce of the New York Times reported the story Tuesday from the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, with Steve Wembi contributing reporting from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. It appeared Wednesday on page A4  but not mentioned in the Times’ daily emailed news  summary.

“We not only covered the latest UN report but had been covering this particular part of the Congo conflict for months,” Michael Slackman, international editor of the Times, said by email. “Yes it is important. Yes it matters.”

His news organization appeared to be an outlier, however.

In a world only recently hearing the insistent words “Black Lives Matter,” most of the media were seemingly indifferent, and they were not alone.

 Jean-Pierre Lacroix, U.N. undersecretary general for peacekeeping operations, visits Kananga Kasai Central, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Credit: MONUSCO/Bilaminou Alao)


Jean-Pierre Lacroix, U.N. undersecretary general for peacekeeping operations, visits Kananga in Kasai Central, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Credit: MONUSCO/Bilaminou Alao)

More than a million people displaced in less than a year, thousands killed and dumped in mass graves,” Conor Gaffey wrote Tuesday for Newsweek. “But no one seems to care about the displacement crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“ ‘A woefully inadequate number of aid agencies’ are on the ground and a ‘pitiful amount of money’ has been pledged to deal with the humanitarian impact of a deadly conflict in Congo’s Kasai region, according to Ulrika Blom, the Congo country director at the Norwegian Refugee Council. Of an emergency $65 million appeal announced by the U.N.’s humanitarian office in April, only 8 percent of funds — $5.2 million — have been provided, though a total of 53 percent has been pledged.

“In March, two U.N. experts, one American and one Swedish, were abducted and killed in Congo. The incident, which was perhaps the only reason the crisis received international attention, led Washington’s U.N. envoy Nikki Haley to call for an independent inquiry and greater scrutiny of the situation in one of central Africa’s most unstable regions. . . .”

The Catholic Church report came on Tuesday, World Refugee Day, “the day the world commemorates the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees,” according to the United Nations.

Nanjala Nyabola, a Nairobi-based writer and political analyst, wrote Wednesday for IRIN, “Much ink has been spilt trying to make sense of the migration flow across the Mediterranean, a stretch of sea that has become the frontline of capitalism’s most urgent question: What’s more valuable — a human life, or the fraying concept of the sanctity of state borders?

“Journalists and commentators have largely framed the boat crossings as a European crisis, and yet the vast majority of the migrants using the major route from Libya to Italy are Africans. They are also the majority of the nearly 2,000 people recorded to have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean so far this year. . . .”

Meanwhile, the U.N. Children’s Fund issued a fact sheet Wednesday on the Congo crisis, noting that “Children have been injured and killed in the violence and separated from their families, with reports of children being used and caught in the violence, detained in prison, raped and even executed.”

It also said that “nearly 400,000 children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition” but that “408 children enrolled in the militias and/ or detained in prison for being associated with the militias have been released with UNICEF assistance. . . .”

Philando Castile's bloody car insurance card is seen in the pocket of Jeronimo Yanez after the fatal shooting of Castile. Castile was shot in Falcon Heights, Minn., during a traffic stop on July 6, 2016. (Courtesy Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension)

Philando Castile’s bloody car insurance card is seen in the pocket of police officer Jeronimo Yanez after the fatal shooting of Castile. Castile was shot in Falcon Heights, Minn., during a traffic stop on July 6, 2016. (Courtesy, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension)

Anger at System After Release of Dash-Cam Video

The dash-cam video at the center of the manslaughter trial that recently ended with a not guilty verdict against the former St. Anthony police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile was released to the public Tuesday,” Sarah Horner, Tad Vezner and Mara H. Gottfried reported Thursday for the Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn.

“It shows Jeronimo Yanez drawing his gun seconds after pulling Philando Castile over for a broken taillight in Falcon Heights last summer and rapidly firing seven bullets into the 32-year-old black man’s car while his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter helplessly watched. . . . ”

They also wrote, “Many community members for months had demanded the dash-cam video, which was withheld as Yanez’s case moved through the courts.

“With its release Tuesday, members of the public who didn’t attend Yanez’s trial could finally hear the tone in Castile’s voice that Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said stuck with him when he deliberated over whether to press charges in the case. . . .”

To some commenting on the video, Castile’s polite acquiescence to Yanez’s requests illustrated the unfairness of the criminal justice system.

“Our legal system is not constructed for the charging and conviction of police officers who kill people — no matter the circumstances,” Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery had tweeted Friday.

Thom Amundsen, a teacher, wrote Tuesday in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, “If that had been me, a white guy, with a gun pointed at my body by a peace officer, I am willing to bet that I could have said everything Philando expressed in the final minutes of his life and that I could have reached with my right arm and found my ID without the officer feeling compelled to discharge seven bullets into my body.

“This officer didn’t simply fire a couple of rounds; he fired seven times at point-blank range. And there in that moment, while his girlfriend recorded the whole incident, Philando Castile died. . . .”

JAY-Z Keeps Copy Editors on Their Toes

Grammarians rejoice! JAY-Z has officially resurrected the hyphen in his name,” Jenna Amatulli reported Monday for HuffPost Black Voices.

“In 2013, the rapper Jay-Z (aka Shawn Corey Carter aka HOV), in a decision touted as a ‘massively disrespectful move against hyphens,’ dropped the hyphen in his professional name. So, for the last four years, Carter was known as Jay Z.

“Now, it’s JAY-Z with the hyphen AND capitalization, a Roc Nation representative confirmed to Pitchfork. And people have a lot to say about the switch-up. . . .”

Media Win; Judge Releases Names of Cosby Jurors

The judge who presided over Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial ordered on Wednesday that the jurors’ names be released to the news media, but he sharply limited what jurors are allowed to discuss about the protracted deliberations that ended on Saturday in a hung jury and a mistrial,” Sydney Ember and Richard Pérez-Peña reported Wednesday for the New York Times.

They also wrote, “When the judge did not make the names of the jurors public at the end of the trial, several news organizations, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Associated Press, The Washington Post and The New York Times, filed a motion requesting access to the names, citing their First Amendment right.

“Both the prosecution and the defense requested that the judge deny the motion, saying that the release of names could affect a second trial. . . .”

Ember and Pérez-Peña also wrote, “Judge Steven T. O’Neill ruled that he had little choice, under a 2007 State Supreme Court ruling, but to make the jurors’ names public, yet his reluctance was evident throughout his written order. He released the names after each juror had been contacted and given instructions on what not to say.

“. . . Jurors contacted by the New York Times were unwilling to speak about their deliberations. But ABC News reported that it had spoken to one juror, who it said had asked for anonymity, and that the juror said the panel was leaning toward convicting Mr. Cosby on two of the three counts, but two jurors refused to go along with that verdict. . . .”

Pimentel Is Editorial Page Editor in San Antonio

O. Ricardo Pimentel

O. Ricardo Pimentel (Credit: Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

O. Ricardo Pimentel, a member of the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board, which vets political candidates and stakes out positions on public policy, has been promoted to Editorial Page editor,” John Tedesco reported Tuesday for the Express-News.

“I’ve been tasked with coming up with a plan to do all this in a way that conforms and keeps pace with the new ways people consume news media — all without forsaking our obligation to be public watchdogs, and an active voice and participant in the community discussion,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel came to San Antonio in 2011 from Milwaukee, where he was editorial page editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He was president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists from 2008 to 2010.

“Born in San Bernardino, California, Pimentel’s first brush with journalism came while serving in the Navy in the mid-1970s, when he worked at public affairs offices in Hawaii, Guam and Antarctica,” the Express-News story continued. “[…] he’s worked at nearly a dozen news organizations as a reporter, columnist and editorial page editor.”

Mexican Journalists Say Their Phones Spy on Them

Several prominent journalists and activists in Mexico are accusing the government of spying on them by hacking into their phones,” Fox News reported Tuesday, crediting a contribution from the Associated Press.

“A criminal complaint filed with the Attorney General’s Office on Monday by nine people follows a report by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto which claimed that Mexican journalists, lawyers and activists were targeted by spyware.

“Among the targets were journalists Carmen Aristegui and Carlos Loret de Mola, who were investigating alleged government corruption and purported human right abuses by security forces. . . .”

The story also said, “Titled ‘Reckless Exploit,’ the report said the people targeted received [messages] with links, that when clicked on, opened up their devices to being exploited and spied upon. It used spyware produced by Israel’s NSO Group that is sold exclusively to government, the internet watch group said.

“NSO’s Pegasus spyware allows hackers access to phone calls, messages, cameras and personal data. The company says it sells the product only to governments for the purposes of fighting crime and terrorism. . . .”

‘A Queer Black Woman’ Saved Conservative’s Life

Several GOP members of Congress who were targeted last week in a horrific act of gun violence at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia agree that if not for the Capitol Police, who stopped the gunman (who later died from gunshot wounds), many among them and their aides might be dead,” Michelangelo Signorile, writer and gay activist, wrote Tuesday for HuffPost Black Voices.

“Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La), the House Majority Whip, was critically wounded and, thankfully, his condition has been upgraded from critical to serious, as he continues to recover.

“This was an outrageous attack by an angry, disturbed man whose motives appear to be political ― and political violence is always unacceptable. And it was yet another in a long list of mass shootings in a nation in which it’s too easy to get weapons that can inflict massive damage.

“ ‘Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre,’ Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told MSNBC, regarding the heroism of the Capitol Police.

“Special Agent Crystal Griner took a bullet in the ankle, and her partner, Special Agent David Bailey, also was shot. Both are expected to fully recover.

“After we learned more about the officers, including the fact that Griner is an African-American woman who is married to a woman, actress Martha Plimpton was among many who took note, with comment.

“The voting record Plimpton pointed to is one that is brutally hostile toward LGBTQ people, African-Americans, women and civil rights in general. . . .”

(Credit: Media Matters for America)

TV Chooses White Men to Discuss Health Care Bill

As Senate Republicans face mounting criticism for including almost exclusively white men in their working group on the upcoming health care bill, media aren’t doing much better when discussing the legislation,” Julie Alderman reported Wednesday for Media Matters for America.

“Like the GOP, media are relying on mainly white people, particularly men, for their analysis and reporting on the health care bill, even though the bill would reportedly have serious consequences for women and minorities.

“Shortly after the House of Representatives passed its version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Senate Republicans put together a working group to draft their own version of the legislation. The working group was roundly criticized for its lack of diversity. . . .”

Alderman also wrote, “Unfortunately, if people are hoping to hear a diverse group of people discussing the health care bill, media are of little help. A Media Matters analysis found that the people hosted on television to discuss the bill were disproportionately white men. Key findings include:

“Male guest appearances outnumbered female guest appearances 2-to-1 on prime-time cable news, broadcast morning and nightly news shows, and Sunday morning political shows during discussions of the Republican health care bill.

“Over 87 percent of appearances on prime-time cable news, broadcast morning and nightly news shows, and Sunday morning political shows during discussions of the Republican health care bill were made by white guests. . . .”

Credit: focusonpeople.com

Credit: focusonpeople.com

Nominate Diversity-Friendly J-Educator This Week

Beginning in 1990, the Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly the National Conference of Editorial Writers, annually granted a Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship — actually an award — “in recognition of an educator’s outstanding efforts to encourage minority students in the field of journalism.”

AOJ merged last year into the American Society of News Editors, which is continuing the Bingham award tradition.

Since 2000, the recipient has been awarded an honorarium of $1,000 to be used to “further work in progress or begin a new project.”

Past winners include James Hawkins, Florida A&M University (1990); Larry Kaggwa, Howard University (1992); Ben Holman, University of Maryland (1996); Linda Jones, Roosevelt University, Chicago (1998); Ramon Chavez, University of Colorado, Boulder (1999); Erna Smith, San Francisco State (2000); Joseph Selden, Penn State University (2001); Cheryl Smith, Paul Quinn College (2002); Rose Richard, Marquette University (2003).

Also, Leara D. Rhodes, University of Georgia (2004); Denny McAuliffe, University of Montana (2005); Pearl Stewart, Black College Wire (2006); Valerie White, Florida A&M University (2007); Phillip Dixon, Howard University (2008); Bruce DePyssler, North Carolina Central University (2009); Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia University (2010); Yvonne Latty, New York University (2011); Michelle Johnson, Boston University (2012); Vanessa Shelton, University of Iowa (2013); William Drummond, University of California at Berkeley (2014); Julian Rodriguez of the University of Texas at Arlington (2015) (video); and David G. Armstrong, Georgia State University (2016) (video).

Nominations may be emailed to Richard Prince, ASNE Opinion Journalism committee, richardprince (at) hotmail.com. The deadline is this coming Friday, June 23. Please use that address only for ASNE matters.

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