Returning July 5

Union to Writers: You’re Having a Ripple Effect

N.Y. Times Walkout Backs Copy Editors

Media Unite in Backlash Against Trump Tweet

‘Unprecedented Attack on Voting Rights’

In ONA, You Can Join as ‘Gender Fluid’

Australia ‘Just So White’ to U.S. Black Journalist

Indians Drop Fight Over NFL Team Trademark

Public Housing Called Enabler of Gang Violence

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Ebony's June issue (Credit: @TheBullhorn__/Twitter)

Ebony’s June issue (Credit: @TheBullhorn__/Twitter)

Union to Writers: You’re Having a Ripple Effect

Ebony magazine missed its self-imposed Friday deadline for paying the thousands of dollars it owes freelance writers, Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union, told Journal-isms.

“One woman was paid a small invoice ($150) that predates the current owners,” Goldbetter said by email. “Another, who was a real organizer and may have started #Ebonyowes, was paid right away ($1500), as soon as we contacted the company more than a month ago. Of all the 26 other freelancers we represent who are owed close to $60,000, all quiet.

“They were supposed to start a ‘rolling schedule’ based on the oldest invoices first. Everyone was to be paid in full by June 30.”

On May 7, Michael Gibson, chairman of the CVG Group LLC, which purchased Ebony from Johnson Publishing Co. last year, said by email, “We have the list of everyone and are working to get them paid asap. Our apologies that this had taken this long to resolve. We will pay everyone what is owed.”

Neither Gibson nor Renee Lewis, Ebony’s general counsel, responded to inquiries Friday.

On June 2, Lewis promised Goldbetter by telephone that the company would pay the writers it owes within 30 days, Goldbetter said at the time. NBCBLK released a statement it received from Ebony that said, “This organization is fully committed to paying its writers and freelancers in their entirety and should have this issue resolved within the next 30 days. . . .”

In an interview with Adeshina Emmanuel for Columbia Journalism Review published June 6, CVG Group co-founder Willard Jackson attributed the magazine’s deep problems to prior ownership.

‘It’s unfortunate that it’s gotten to this point with these freelancers,’ says Jackson,” Emmanuel wrote. “ ‘But these freelancers, these guys — and ladies — we work with them a lot and we’re going to continue to. They will absolutely be paid in short order here.’ . . .”

Emmanuel also wrote then, “On Monday, when CJR reached out again, Jackson responded via text message: ‘Prioritizing of the cash flow from the business to cover all the overhead and expenses is what we’ve had to address. That’s why payments have been delayed and that’s also what prompted the layoffs and downsizing.’ . . .”

In May, Ebony laid off nearly all of its masthead — as many as a dozen key members of its editorial team, and said it was consolidating editorial operations with sister publication Jet in Los Angeles.

Goldbetter wrote Thursday to his Ebony clients, “As we head into the weekend and past EMO’s [Ebony Media Operations’] deadline, I just want you to know that you are not only fighting for your own pay, and for each other’s pay, but you are shaking things up in the industry and shedding light on the plague of non-payment to freelancers.

“This was really reflected when the social media buzz that accompanied our press release reached 1.3 million people. And as you can see by this email chain, our numbers are growing by the day.

“Based on the very public stand you’ve taken, we have been contacted by freelancers who write for Uptown who want to fight for their money. And yesterday I heard from a freelancer who wrote this story about non-payment at Nautilus, a science magazine that isn’t paying [its] freelancers. He heard about Ebony and wanted NWU’s outlook on this for a follow-up story. And then there was a story about Latina Magazine, which hasn’t paid its staff writers in a month. For freelancers I’m sure [it’s] been much longer.

“You are all doing something that can have a ripple effect far beyond EMO and your own invoice, as important as that is. On behalf of our entire union, I am grateful for the chance to be working with all of you. We are building something that will live long past your cashing your overdue EMO checks!

“PS — I also heard about one EMO freelancer who is owed thousands of dollars and is facing eviction! They have received some short-term help and I hope they join us. . . .”

Zerline Hughes, who started the hashtag #EbonyStillOwes, confirmed that she was paid the last of two installments in April. “I did like writing for them, but that’s over now,” she said by telephone.

N.Y. Times Walkout Backs Copy Editors

As part of a 15-minute walkout dubbed a ‘collective coffee break’ by their union, dozens of Times employees facing layoffs and their colleagues marched around the historic paper’s building, chanting, ‘They say cutbacks, we say fight back!’ and ‘No editors, no piece!,’ ” Andy Campbell reported Thursday for HuffPost.

“Several Times employees told HuffPost that 109 copy editors were offered buyouts as part of a company plan to cut copy desk staff down to as few as 50 people. That revelation ― along with a bizarre interview process, labeled ‘death panels’ by employees, in which copy editors were reportedly forced to justify their continued employment ― led the desk to fire back at the company in an open letter to Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Managing Editor Joe Kahn on Wednesday:

“ ‘You turned your backs on us,’ the letter read.

” ‘We abhor your decision to wipe out the copy desk. But as we continue this difficult transition, we ask that you sharply increase the available positions for the 109 copy editors, as well as an unknown number of other staff members, who have effectively lost their jobs as a result of your actions.’

“The buyout window closes on July 20, after which layoffs are expected. Employees who decide not to take a buyout will have an opportunity to apply for other jobs within the company, staffers confirmed with HuffPost. Those applying for other jobs will be interviewed, but it isn’t clear how many jobs are available to them. . . .”

Friday's cover at the Daily News in New York.

Friday’s cover of the Daily News in New York

Media Unite in Backlash Against Trump Tweet

President Trump’s extraordinary attack on the television host Mika Brzezinski on Thursday capped a week of mounting acrimony between the White House and the press,” Michael M. Grynbaum reported Thursday for the New York Times.

“But at a moment when the news media is increasingly fractured, the personal and crude nature of Mr. Trump’s Twitter remarks about Ms. Brzezinski, the co-host of MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe,’ proved to be an equal-opportunity stunner, sparking a backlash that spanned the news industry’s usual divides.

“Shortly before 9 a.m., Mr. Trump taunted Ms. Brzezinski and her co-host and fiancé, Joe Scarborough, as ‘low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe’ and described a meeting with Ms. Brzezinski in which, the president claimed, ‘she was bleeding badly from a face-lift.’

“The coarseness of his remark — which echoed previous instances in which the president attacked prominent women, including the anchor Megyn Kelly and the Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, about their physical appearance — drew rebukes even within the bulwarks of the Trump-friendly news media. . . .”

In a follow-up Friday, Grynbaum reported, “Mr. Scarborough told his viewers that the White House had urged him to seek Mr. Trump’s forgiveness for critical coverage, lest The [National] Enquirer, which is controlled by a Trump ally, run a story detailing his involvement with Ms. Brzezinski . . . .

“Mr. Trump fired back on Twitter that it was Mr. Scarborough who asked him to quash the story. ‘I said no!’ the president wrote.

“The bizarre back-and-forth, which has drawn blanket coverage on cable news, left Washington veterans stupefied. . . .”


‘Unprecedented Attack on Voting Rights’

Four things happened yesterday that pose a grave danger to voting rights,” Ari Berman wrote Friday for the Nation.

“1. The House Appropriations Committee voted to defund the Election Assistance Commission, the only federal agency that helps states make sure their voting machines aren’t hacked. . . .

“2. The Department of Justice sent a letter to all 50 states informing them that ‘we are reviewing voter registration list maintenance procedures in each state covered by the NVRA [National Voter Registration Act]’ and asking how they plan to remove voters from the rolls. While this might sound banal, it’s a clear instruction to states from the federal government to start purging the voting rolls. . . .

“3. The White House commission on election integrity, led by vice chair Kris Kobach, also sent a letter to 50 states asking them to provide sweeping voter data . . .

“4. The Trump administration named Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation as a member of the commission, who’s done more than anyone other than Kobach to spread the myth of voter fraud and enact suppressive policies. . . .

“All four of these actions would be disturbing on their own, but taken together they represent an unprecedented attack on voting rights by the Trump administration and Republican Congress. The actions by Kobach, in particular, appear to mark the beginning of a nationwide voter-suppression campaign, based on spreading lies about voter fraud to justify enacting policies that purge the voter rolls, and make registration and voting more difficult. . . .”

Officials from California to Mississippi called the commission’s sweeping request for the personal and public data “an overreach and more than 20 states declared they would not comply,” Michael Wines reported Friday for the New York Times.

The Pew Research Center reported Wednesday that 59 percent of respondents believe “that everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote.” At 79 percent, blacks agreed with the statement more than Hispanics, at 64 percent, and whites, 54 percent.

In ONA, You Can Join as ‘Gender Fluid’

Applicants for membership in the Online News Association have an additional choice in the boxes that ask them to list their gender. In addition to “male,” “female” and “prefer not to answer,” there is “gender other than male or female.”

Irving Washington

Irving Washington

“Yes, it’s new for the membership form but it started with our conference registration last year,” Irving Washington, executive director of the 2,665-member organization, said Thursday by email. “We wanted to be more inclusive in our gender options. We looked at recommendations from NLGJA [“NLGJA – The Association of LGBTQ Journalists”], and observed Facebook offers 50+ options now.

“We felt a fill-in-the-blank would allow people to add any identity they prefer. Based on feedback, we also changed it to a non-required question so nobody would feel they had to make a particular statement if they prefer not to share that information.”

In Britain, The Telegraph’s Rhiannon Williams reported in 2014, “UK Facebook users can now choose from one of 71 gender options, including asexual, polygender and two-spirit person, following the feature’s successful integration in the US. . . .”

New York Times correspondent John Eligon was in Australia filming a documentary in collaboration with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s "Foreign Correspondent" television news magazine. (Credit: Gregory Nelson/Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

New York Times correspondent John Eligon was in Australia filming a documentary in collaboration with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Foreign Correspondent” television news magazine. (Credit: Gregory Nelson/Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Australia ‘Just So White’ to U.S. Black Journalist

Creating change can be difficult for indigenous people, who make up only 3 percent of the population,” John Eligon reported Thursday from Australia for the New York Times. “That seems to make it harder for them to establish a broad resistance movement. The country is just so white. Virtually every news reporter I saw on television was white, as were all of the politicians I saw stumping during elections in the state of Western Australia.

“Even when I arrived on the Torres Strait Islands, the unique place in Australia where almost everyone is black, I was taken aback to see that many of the restaurants, shops and hotels were run by white people. . . .”

Eligon, an African American originally from Trinidad, was reporting for the Times’ “Race/Related” newsletter. He explained in a story that appeared Monday in the Times that “as part of The New York Times’s expansion into Australia, I traveled through the country’s indigenous communities to look at how they are confronting these challenges and the painful legacy of colonization.

“Working with filmmakers from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s ‘Foreign Correspondent’ on a 60-minute documentary, which will air on Tuesday in Australia and online, I heard stories from dozens of indigenous Australians who shared the details of their lives with a mix of outrage, resignation and courage. . . .”

Indians Drop Fight Over NFL Team Trademark

The fight began nearly 25 years ago, an epic legal tussle over a single word: Redskins,” Ian Shapira and Ann E. Marimow reported Thursday for the Washington Post.

“But on Thursday, after protests outside NFL stadiums, vows by sports journalists never to use the word and even former president Barack Obama urging team owner Daniel Snyder to change the name, the battle petered out.

“On Thursday, the five Native Americans fighting the NFL team over its trademark registrations called it quits in federal appeals court. So did the Justice Department, which on Wednesday declared the team the winner.

“The Native Americans and the Justice Department didn’t have much of a choice. On June 19, in a separate case involving an Asian rock band, the Supreme Court declared that a key section of federal law banning trademarks that ‘may disparage’ people was a violation of the First Amendment. It was this section of the 1946 Lanham Act that the Native Americans relied upon to argue that the Redskins should be stripped of its trademark registrations.

“But once the Supreme Court ruled that the disparagement clause was not constitutional, the Justice Department and the Native Americans, led by Amanda Blackhorse, a Navajo from Arizona, had little legal standing to move forward. . . .”

On Christmas Eve 2015, Trayquain Holmes was found dead on North 29th Street in Richmond, Va. Holmes was thought to be a member of the 2X gang in Mosby Court. (Credit: Shaban Athuman/Richmond Times-Dispatch)

On Christmas Eve 2015, Trayquain Holmes was found dead on North 29th Street in Richmond, Va. Holmes was thought to be a member of the 2X gang in Mosby Court. (Credit: Shaban Athuman/Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Public Housing Called Enabler of Gang Violence

There have long been neighborhood gangs in Richmond,” Ned Oliver wrote Sunday for the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch for a “special report” headlined, “Why do teens keep getting murdered in Richmond? Inside the gang violence in the city’s public housing communities.”

“Multiple police officers described arresting the sons of men they’d locked up a generation ago. But between impossibly easy access to guns, a greater willingness to fire them, and social media outlets like Facebook ramping up disagreements, the situation has gotten observably worse in the past two to three years. . . .”

Oliver also wrote, “To prepare this report, the Richmond Times-Dispatch interviewed more than 30 people living and working in close proximity to the groups, including community advocates, police officials and residents of Mosby and the surrounding public housing communities.

“They attribute the proliferation of the groups and their battles to an overwhelming sense of despair and hopelessness that permeates the neighborhoods — a culture they say has grown so toxic over successive generations that even the most dedicated parents describe a constant, uphill struggle to put their kids on a safe path up and out.

” ‘If you isolate a community for three generations and remove community services, this is what it [looks like],’ said Art Burton, who has spearheaded a variety of nonprofit and community groups that put him in close contact with teens in Mosby. . . .”

Oliver concluded, ” ‘Here’s the truth: The schools are making the situation worse. Armstrong High School — our kids are coming out worse than when they go in,’ said [Craig] Dodson, who runs the cycling program. ‘Whose fault is that? No one’s. It’s just a fact of life. You’ve got concentrated poverty, concentrated trauma in public housing — then you concentrate it even more by sending roughly 950 kids from all these different neighborhoods into the same building for seven hours a day. Then you wonder why it isn’t working? It makes my brain hurt — how ridiculous that notion is.’

“There is widespread agreement that the only real solution is to redevelop public housing into mixed income communities in an effort to deconcentrate poverty — a model that’s been adopted around the country. . . .”

Separately, photographer Regina H. Boone wrote Wednesday for Columbia Journalism Review that she is returning to the Richmond Free Press, the African American newspaper her parents started 25 years ago, when she completes her Knight-Wallace fellowship at the University of Michigan.

The Richmond Free Press focuses primarily on the city’s black community, which includes many people who are not covered — and sometimes seem unnoticed — by the daily newspaper. . . . When I first returned to the Richmond Free Press, I felt consumed by questions: How might we keep the paper relevant, and financially sound? Those questions evade easy answers, but they’ll power my research, and they sustain my conviction that no community deserves to be left behind.”

Short Takes

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