Others Call New Policy Counterproductive

An Appeal for Calm After Minnesota Verdict

Administration Cutting Back on Rights Enforcement

Mayor Landrieu Says He Might Have Black Blood

How False Tweets Blew a Story Out of Control

Cliff Harrington Named Editor in Rock Hill, S.C.

How to Fix Journalism’s Broken Hiring Process

Nominate Diversity-Friendly J-Educator This Week

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Support Journal-isms

(Credit: Miami Herald)

Others Call New Policy Counterproductive

President Donald Trump’s new Cuba policy is a nod to hard-line exiles in South Florida that only hurts Americans and Cubans while diminishing Washington’s ability to foster democratic and economic reforms on the island,” the Tampa Bay Times editorialized on Friday.

“The American public, businesses and state and local governments should work around the president’s hurdles and continue to promote openness and relationships that benefit the people of both countries. . . .”

The Miami Herald, however, headlined its editorial “Trump right to make Cuba pay for its intransigence.

Writing the night before Trump delivered his speech Friday in Miami’s Little Havana, the Herald’s editorial board concluded, “As reported by El Nuevo Herald’s Nora Gámez Torres this week, ‘Cuban dissidents of various political stripes agree that the United States must make changes to apply pressure to the Raúl Castro regime.’

“They are the ones on the front lines, being censored, imprisoned, harassed, beaten. It’s only right that their words resound the loudest in formulating our country’s revised policy.”

Herald columnist Andrés Oppenheimer, writing Wednesday, disagreed. “I’m afraid that Trump’s plan to partially reverse the current U.S. policy will make things worse,” Oppenheimer, who specializes in Latin America, wrote.

He added, “Unfortunately, neither [President] Obama’s December 2014 opening to Cuba nor Trump’s 2017 partial reversal of that policy were motivated by a desire to bring about democracy in Cuba. In both cases, the decisions were motivated by domestic politics.

“In Obama’s case, he was approaching the end of his two terms in office without any major foreign policy victory. Despite his many domestic achievements, he had failed to bring peace to the Middle East and couldn’t stop the Russian invasion of Crimea nor the civil war in Syria. He needed a quick and easy foreign policy victory.

“Polls showed that most Americans — even many Miami exiles — agreed that the U.S. embargo on Cuba was outdated. It was a win-win for the former president: Like Richard Nixon opened China, Obama opened Cuba.

“Trump’s case is no different. Almost everything he has done proves that he doesn’t give a damn about democracy in Cuba or anywhere else. . . .”

While the Trump policy changes were front-page news in many big-city newspapers, the story appeared to be missing from Friday’s “CBS Evening News.”

Assata Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard (Credit: nj.com) (video)

The South Florida SunSentinel, writing Wednesday, was in the Oppenheimer camp. “Disengagement has gotten us nowhere,” it editorialized. “Obama’s policies were the first smart steps we’ve taken in our relationship with the island in at least a generation. It would be a tragedy to reverse them.”

Trump’s new policy was actually not as much a departure from the Obama administration as portrayed. “Despite his grandiose description, the policy represents a middle ground between hard-liners in Congress, including Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Mario Díaz-Balart, both Florida Republicans who have called for a complete reversal of Mr. Obama’s Cuba policy, and business leaders, human rights groups and many of Mr. Trump’s own advisers who wanted to preserve it,” Julie Hirschfeld Davis reported Friday for the New York Times.

In his speech, Trump said, “Release the political prisoners. Stop jailing innocent people. Open yourselves to political and economic freedoms. Return the fugitives from American justice. . . .”

It was unclear whether journalists were included among the political prisoners, but Trump explicitly cited Assata Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, among the fugitives.

Chesimard, a former member of the Black Liberation Army, had been serving a life sentence in prison for the 1973 murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster when she escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to the communist island nation,” Glenn Blain explained Friday in the Daily News of New York.

In some circles, Shakur/Chesimard, godmother and aunt of the late rap icon Tupac Shakur, is a hero. “Trump Talks Cuba, but All I Heard Was ‘Assata Shakur’ and All I Saw Was a ‘Blacks for Trump’ Sign,” read a headline over a story by Stephen A. Crockett Jr. of TheRoot.com.

An Appeal for Calm After Minnesota Verdict

The public has a verdict in the highly publicized death of Philando Castile, but widespread unease over the state of police-community relations continues,” the Star Tribune in Minneapolis editorialized on Friday.

“On Friday, after about 27 hours of deliberations, jurors found St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez not guilty in the fatal shooting of Castile during a traffic stop last July 6. . . .”

[Miguel Otárola reported Saturday for the Star Tribune, “The Minnesota State Patrol arrested 18 people in St. Paul early Saturday after protesters shut down Interstate 94, furious at the not-guilty verdict for a St. Anthony police officer in Philando Castile’s death.

[“Among the arrested were two working journalists — Susan Du from City Pages and David Clarey from the Minnesota Daily, who were charged with unlawful assembly and being a public nuisance. They were released from the Ramsey County jail about 9:45 a.m. Saturday. . . .]

The editorial continued, “The legal resolution is the result of full and public vetting of facts during a trial in Ramsey County District Court. The judicial system did its job. And yet post-verdict emotions are running high because St. Paul, Minneapolis and cities across the country are still struggling with issues of race and policing.

“Those concerns — and the outcome in the Yanez case — are no excuse for violence. Our hope is for calm as Minnesotans react to the verdict and try to come to grips with the complicated underlying issues that are leading to too many violent confrontations between police officers and black men. . . .”

The editorial also said, ” . . . In recent years, similar fatal shootings have sparked outrage over police use of lethal force, caused demonstrations nationwide and given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. Castile’s death was one of the highest-profile cases, however, because his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook. Millions saw that video in the hours and days after Castile’s death, making the trial a national story and putting Ramsey County Attorney John Choi in the spotlight. . . .”

(Credit: Dan Wasserman/Boston Globe) The Boston Globe's Dan Wasserman told Journal-isms by email, "[Jeff] Sessions is the Attorney General of the US, yet has a very malleable concept of the law, not only as it applies to himself, but historically as it applies to African Americans. His verbal contortions in front of the [Senate intelligence] committee reminded me of his past hostility to legal rights and voting rights for non-white citizens."

The Boston Globe’s Dan Wasserman, creator of this cartoon, told Journal-isms by email, “[Jeff] Sessions is the Attorney General of the US, yet has a very malleable concept of the law, not only as it applies to himself, but historically as it applies to African Americans. His verbal contortions in front of the committee [the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] reminded me of his past hostility to legal rights and voting rights for non-white citizens.”

Administration Cutting Back on Rights Enforcement

For decades, the Department of Justice has used court-enforced agreements to protect civil rights, successfully desegregating school systems, reforming police departments, ensuring access for the disabled and defending the religious,” Jessica Huseman and Annie Waldman reported Thursday for ProPublica.

“Now, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ appears to be turning away from this storied tool, called consent decrees. Top officials in the DOJ civil rights division have issued verbal instructions through the ranks to seek settlements without consent decrees — which would result in no continuing court oversight.

“The move is just one part of a move by the Trump administration to limit federal civil rights enforcement. Other departments have scaled back the power of their internal divisions that monitor such abuses. In a previously unreported development, the Education Department last week reversed an Obama-era reform that broadened the agency’s approach to protecting rights of students. The Labor Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have also announced sweeping cuts to their enforcement. . . .”

Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans at the Center for American Progress on Friday. (Credit: Twitter)

Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans at the Center for American Progress on Friday. (Credit: Twitter)

Mayor Landrieu Says He Might Have Black Blood

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, whose speech last month explaining his successful effort to remove Confederate monuments in his city went viral, said Friday that it is possible, given the history of race relations in the South, that he could have some African American blood, as some critics have alleged.

If that turned out to be true, Landrieu told a reporter for the Washington Afro-American newspaper who raised the issue with him in Washington Friday, it would be “an honor.” He said he was open to a DNA test. The mayor added that it was sad that some attributed his stance against the monuments to having black blood.

Landrieu spoke before the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, urging more interracial cooperation. He said New Orleans removed the four monuments because they were erected under the false premise that the Confederacy should be glorified.

Answering a question afterward about the influence of the news media, Landrieu said the media were “very positive” in amplifying the issue, but he pushed back at media criticism that the cost of removing the statues exceeded expectations. The mayor said he had not expected that out-of-towners would become invested in keeping the monuments and cause the city to spend more on security.

Returning to his theme of more civility and efforts at conciliation, the mayor noted the “if it bleeds, it leads” philosophy of some media outlets. “Finding common ground ought to be something that’s newsworthy,” he said.

Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob, right, and fiancee Nicole Curran, left, wave to fans during the NBA championship parade in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday. (Credit: Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob and fiancee Nicole Curran wave to fans during the NBA championship parade in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday. (Credit: Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

How False Tweets Blew a Story Out of Control

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Golden State Warriors this season, it’s that they’re extremely good at basketball. If there’s a second thing, it might be that they don’t like Donald Trump,” Tony Biasotti wrote Friday for Columbia Journalism Review.

“Head coach Steve Kerr thinks Trump is ‘a bully’ and ‘a blowhard’ who ‘couldn’t be more ill-suited to be president.’ Star point guard Stephen Curry called the president an ass, only somewhat coyly. Reserves David West and Andre Iguodala aren’t fans, either.

“So the story that circulated Tuesday morning, just hours after the Warriors clinched the NBA title with a Game 5 victory in Oakland, seemed plausible enough: The team had apparently decided, by unanimous vote, to skip the customary champion’s trip to the White House. The story gained steam on Twitter, and by the time Warrior fans on the West Coast were shrugging off their championship hangovers, the story had appeared on the websites of NBC Sports, the Kansas City Star, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and other mainstream news outlets.

“You’ll notice, if you click those links, that they’ve all been updated since they were first posted. That’s because the story, as originally reported, was certainly unsubstantiated and probably untrue. The Warriors issued a statement saying the team had not been invited and would make a decision if and when an invitation came.

“The original story was, in the words of a Vocativ headline, ‘viral B.S.’

“Whether the NBA champions decided by team vote to not visit the White House is, in the grand scheme of things, a small story. But it’s illustrative of how a story goes from tweet, to news item, to news item aggregated by dozens of sites, to news item walked back by most of those outlets, to rumor classified as ‘false’ by Snopes. . . .”

Cliff Harrington Named Editor in Rock Hill, S.C.

Cliff Harrington

Cliff Harrington

Cliff Harrington has been named The Herald’s new editor,” Catherine Muccigrosso reported Wednesday for the Herald in Rock Hill, S.C.

“Harrington, interim editor in Rock Hill since November, has spearheaded community news since 1987, when he joined The Charlotte Observer, a sister newspaper of The Herald. Both newspapers are owned by McClatchy, a leading media company in 29 U.S. markets.” Rock Hill is about 20 miles south of downtown Charlotte.

“ ‘Cliff’s deep experience leading community journalism efforts makes him an excellent fit to lead coverage in York, Lancaster and Chester counties, where The Herald and Fort Mill Times have histories of strong local news coverage and watchdog journalism,’ said Sherry Chisenhall, executive editor of The Charlotte Observer. ‘He has done outstanding work leading The Herald’s newsroom and helping the news team continue its transition to a digital newsroom.’ ”

The Herald’s previous executive editor, Mark J. Rochester, joined the Detroit Free Press as senior news director/investigations last month.

How to Fix Journalism’s Broken Hiring Process

To newsroom HR departments and hiring managers,” Rachel Schallom began, writing June 8 for source.opennews.org.

“You come in many shapes and forms: editors, journalists, HR generalists, recruiters. But no matter who you are, we need to talk. Journalism’s hiring process is broken, and we need you to fix it.

“Who am I? I am the tried-and-true story of a journalist laid off as part of mass restructuring. I applied and interviewed with newsrooms every day for six months and two days before receiving an offer. I talked to many of you, maybe even exactly you. And in the past, I’ve been you. I know hiring is tough. But even looking through rose-colored glasses of understanding and patience, I saw all the ways we must do better.

“Let’s start with job postings. First, you should have them. . . . . ”

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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View previous columns (after Feb. 13, 2016).
View previous columns (before Feb. 13, 2016).