News Industry Leaders Not Surprised by Poll

Natives Undeterred on Offensive Trademarks

In S. Dakota, Another Reason for Diverse Voices

Jackson State U. Downgrades J-School Amid Cuts

Lawyer: Prosecution Bungled Philando Castile Case

Cosby Conspiracy Theory Makes Mainstream

Univision News Is Urgently Meeting the Moment

Some Litigate London Mosque’s Past Behavior

3,000 Reported Killed, Babies Mutilated in Congo

Short Takes

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Seward Johnson’s “God Bless America” statue, 25 feet tall and 5,900 pounds, depicts Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” (Credit: iowastatefair.org)

Seward Johnson’s “God Bless America” statue, 25 feet tall and 5,900 pounds, depicts Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” (Credit: iowastatefair.org)

News Industry Leaders Not Surprised by Poll

Sixty percent of rural Americans polled say the news media respects people like them “only a little” or “not at all,” according to a new poll from the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation. Among those who answered this way and said they voted for president in 2016, 71 percent said they chose Donald Trump.

Comparable figures were 54 percent overall saying “only a little” or “not at all,” 52 percent of suburban residents responding that way and 51 percent of urbanites doing so.

The results, part of a survey of rural America that also showed that 54 percent of rural residents approve of the way Trump is going his job, did not surprise leaders of two news industry organizations.

Mizell Stewart III

Mizell Stewart III

Mizell Stewart III, vice president/news operations of the USA Today Network and president of the American Society of News Editors, said by email:

“As you know, I live in Ohio and work in and around Washington, so I literally spend time in both worlds. Because of that, the results of the study are not terribly surprising, particularly when people conflate ‘news media’ with national television networks, 24-hour news channels and major newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post.

“The bubble in and around the Beltway is real, and it takes true effort to look at the world beyond the Northeast Corridor and provide nuanced coverage of the attitudes of and the issues facing rural Americans.

“A more comprehensive survey result would compare attitudes of local news operations versus their national counterparts. I’d be hard pressed to suggest that the Mansfield News Journal or Chillicothe Gazette — both USA TODAY Network newsrooms — didn’t reflect the values of those communities.”

Mike Cavender

Mike Cavender

Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association and its foundation, also responded by email.

“This was a very interesting study…although not particularly surprising to me,” Cavender wrote.

“Donald Trump did (and still does) a very good job hammering away about the ‘fake news’ media…the dishonest press…the reporters who are all out to aid the Democrats while denigrating himself and the GOP! And he’s aggravated an already existing belief by a growing number of Americans that the media is not all that trustworthy to begin with. He’s succeeded in convincing them the problem has only gotten worse.

“Given that his base lies in rural America and, as the survey points out, more than 7 in 10 of those surveyed said they voted for Trump, it again is unfortunate (because it’s not true) but not surprising that those same voters feel disrespected by the media.

“In some respects, they are positing a ‘forgotten’ mentality. They may feel that the media doesn’t see them or their views and concerns as important because of where they live or who they are. However, I believe that’s an ill-placed concern.

“I do believe, though, that media outlets need to do a better job in representing rural Americans’ viewpoints by spending more time and resources in the areas of the country where they live.

“It is far too easy for editors, producers and news executives based in NYC and other major media centers to believe they are representing these divergent points of view from their urban bureaus rather than getting their staffs outside of the Beltway or the NYC corridor to do some actual on-the-ground reporting. We desperately need to improve in that arena….and Americans are making it clear we need to do so.

“Trump didn’t create the rural/urban divide…but he successfully exploited it and the media has been one of the primary targets of that exploitation.”

The Post-Kaiser Survey of Rural America, released Saturday, was conducted by telephone from April 13 to May 1 among a random representative sample of 1,070 adults age 18 and older living in rural counties, 303 adults in urban counties, and 307 in other counties that were considered suburban.

Of the rural respondents, 76 percent were white non-Hispanic; 8 percent black non-Hispanic; 6 percent white-Hispanic; 1 percent black-Hispanic; 2 percent Hispanic (no race given); less than 0.5 percent Asian American; and “other race,” 6 percent.

The Slants

The Slants, from left: Ken Shima, Simon “Young” Tam, Yuya Matsuda and Joe X. Jiang

Natives Undeterred on Offensive Trademarks

Asian-American band The Slants won a landmark Supreme Court ruling Monday knocking down the government’s ban on disparaging trademarks,” Steven Nelson reported for U.S. News & World Report.

“The 8-0 ruling likely clears the way for the [Washington] Redskins football team to retain trademarks contested under that ban. But Simon Tam, the band’s founder and namesake of Matal v. Tam, says the NFL team should change its name anyhow.

” ‘Just because something is permissible, it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing,’ Tam told U.S. News after his band’s victory. ‘I think it’s their social responsibility to do that.’ ”

Bryan T. Pollard

Bryan Pollard

Bryan Pollard, president of the Native American Journalists Association, told Journal-isms that the court decision does not change NAJA’s opposition to such mascots.

“Monday’s ruling, while a victory for free speech, does nothing to address the fact that the Washington NFL team continues to brand itself with a known vulgarity and documented, historical epithet demeaning to Native people,” Pollard said by email.

“It is and will continue to be NAJA’s stance that the use of the term ‘redskin’ by media professionals and organizations is a blatant ethical violation and contributes to a two-dimensional stereotype of the first peoples of this nation. We encourage our colleagues in media to abandon its use.”

Nelson’s report continued, “Justice Samuel Alito, striking down the disparaging trademark ban, wrote for the majority: ‘If affixing the commercial label permits the suppression of any speech that may lead to political or social ‘volatility,’ free speech would be endangered.’ . . .”

Antonia Gonzales, anchor and producer of National Native News, speaks with Matt Ehlman of the Numad Group in Rapid City, S.D. (Credit: Bart Pfankuch/Rapid City Journal)

Antonia Gonzales, anchor and producer of “National Native News,” speaks with Matt Ehlman of the Numad Group in Rapid City, S.D. (Credit: Bart Pfankuch/Rapid City Journal)

In S. Dakota, Another Reason for Diverse Voices

Smiles and laughter come easily for anchor and producer Antonia Gonzales of “National Native News,” “a member of the Navajo Nation who is a prominent member of the small but committed contingent of Native American journalists in the U.S. and Canada,” Bart Pfankuch wrote Friday for the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal.

“The National Native News program features a five-minute daily segment of radio stories told mainly by freelance journalists from across the world. It airs on 15 South Dakota Public Radio stations each weekday just prior to 3:45 p.m. Mountain Time. . . .”

Pfankuch also wrote that Gonzales “offered one example of how Native journalists, or those non-Native journalists who string for her network, saw a different side to a major news event.

“After the federal Environmental Protection Agency mistakenly released 3 million gallons of orange wastewater from the Gold King Mine into the Animas River in Colorado in August 2015, most of the mainstream media coverage focused on the ecological damage to the river and EPA’s culpability, Gonzales said.

“But Gonzales took a different angle, instead focusing on how the fouled water had hampered the ability of Navajo Nation residents to provide clean water for their families and corn crops.

“People had no alternative to using that water,” she said, noting that the suffering of those Native people was missed by most of the media. “I saw how much it hurt people because corn is so important to the Navajo culture.’ . . .”

WJTV-TV in Jackson, Miss., reports creation of the School of Journalism and Media Studies in 2015. (video)

Jackson State U. Downgrades J-School Amid Cuts

The School of Journalism and Media Studies at Jackson State University, established just two years ago, has been downgraded to a department by action of the state College Board, Jeff Amy reported Friday for the Associated Press.

“Jackson State University will cut its next budget by nearly 8 percent and borrow $6 million as it tries to cut expenses and rebuild financial reserves,” Amy wrote.

“The moves at Mississippi’s largest historically black university went forward Thursday as College Board trustees approved budgets for all eight public universities for the upcoming year. The system’s overall budget will fall by $30 million, or less than 1 percent, to $4.5 billion, largely because state appropriations have fallen. Universities started the current budget with $773 million in state aid, but after multiple cuts will start the 2018 budget on July 1 with $667 million.

“The board also eliminated nine Jackson State academic departments through mergers and downgraded the School of Journalism and Media Studies to a department. Supporters of some units, including the Department of Speech Communications, had questioned the plan. That department will be merged with the Department of English and Foreign Languages. . . .”

A larger than expected crowd turned out for the third community meeting in response to the acquittal of St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile, but many of the participants said they felt they were wasting their time. (Credit: S.M. Chavey/Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

A larger than expected crowd turned out Monday for a third community meeting in response to the acquittal of St. Anthony, Minn., Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile, but many said they felt they were wasting their time. (Credit: S.M. Chavey/Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.)

Lawyer: Prosecution Bungled Philando Castile Case

The acquittal of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez on Friday by a jury in St. Paul was hardly surprising,” Marshall H. Tanick, a constitutional law attorney, wrote Friday in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

“The not-guilty verdicts returned by the jurors at the Ramsey County Courthouse clearing the officer of criminal charges of manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm in the killing last July of vehicle driver Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights [were] expected by a few sage observers.

“They recognized from the outset and during the course of this proceeding the factors favoring acquittal:

  • “The defense portrayal of marijuana use by Castile and his passenger, along with the presence of the drug in the car.
  • “Possible bias by jurors against Castile as an African-American man.
  • “The inability of the prosecution to present a supporting expert witness from here in Minnesota regarding proper police practices, resorting instead to importing a mediocre retired deputy police chief from a midsize city in California, while the defense submitted a more convincing expert with law enforcement experience in two communities in the Twin Cities.
  • “The formidable team of defense attorneys, led by the estimable Earl Gray, compared with the bungling of the prosecution.
  • “The credible self-defense claim asserted by Yanez.
  • “The disinclination of jurors to convict a cop of a felonious homicide charge while carrying out law enforcement duties, especially one with a good record, among other reasons.

“But, above all, it was the charges leveled against Yanez that made foreseeing his acquittal a no-brainer. He should not have been tried on a homicide charge, which is very difficult to establish, particularly because of the absence of any unambiguous documentary or video evidence of clear-cut wrongdoing by the officer. . . .”

Vernon Odom of WPVI-TV in Philadelphia was one of several black journalists covering the Bill Cosby trial. Vincent Thompson, who reported on the trial for “NewsOne Now” on TVOne and for WVON-AM in Chicago, lists others as Ron Allen of NBC News, Stacy Brown of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, Denise Clay of the Philadelphia Sunday Sun, Linsey Davis of ABC News and Jericka Duncan of CBS News.

Cosby Conspiracy Theory Makes Mainstream

In 1993, representatives from some of the country’s then-biggest investment banks were taking meetings with Bill Cosby, according to word around the Hollywood industry’s bicoastal streets,Janell Ross reported Saturday for the Washington Post.

“Reports that the entertainer was angling to buy NBC, whose ratings had fallen among the nation’s largest networks, had found a place in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and almost all of the Hollywood trade publications.

“Cosby, the stories seemed to imply, was an entertainment heavyweight but business-naive, and his brand of wholesome, big smiles and hugs was unlikely to restore NBC to the network leader post it owned much of the time ‘The Cosby Show’ was on the air.

“For a slice of America, that decades-old story — along with a sprinkle of conspiracy and a heaping cup of suspicion — explains why Cosby faced sexual assault charges in a trial that ended Saturday with a hung jury.

“As the theory goes, the 79-year-old comedian made the establishment uncomfortable with his success when he tried to transform from entertainer to network owner, attempting to move out of the social and economic space that black Americans are supposed to inhabit. According to the theory, the powers that be — ‘the man’ or, more specifically, the white establishment — is in the midst of a long-game act of revenge. . . .”

As reported in this space in 2014 (scroll down to “A D.C. Anchor Says Another One Saved Her Job”), Dick Gregory, who with Cosby was an up-and-coming stand-up comedian in the 1960s, has also linked Cosby’s troubles to the efforts to buy NBC.

Univision News Is Urgently Meeting the Moment

Earlier this year, a rumor rippled through the large Hispanic community in northeast Miami, delivered through the WhatsApp text-messaging service: Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were hauling undocumented immigrants off to detention centers in buses,” Jim Rutenberg reported from Doral, Fla., Sunday for the New York Times.

“The ‘deportation force’ President Trump promised during the campaign had finally arrived, it seemed.

“Panicked callers turned to the source of information they rely upon above all others: Univision, the Spanish-language television network, which is aggressively tracking whether Mr. Trump makes good on his campaign vow to conduct the largest mass expulsion of modern times.

“Journalists at Univision’s headquarters here started hitting the streets, calling contacts and analyzing a photograph of a supposed ICE bus in action.

“No sweep was underway, they learned; the photo was from 2014.

“Univision pumped out Facebook and Twitter posts debunking the rumor, posted a more detailed article on its website and produced a television package for its stations across the country. It repeated the exercise all over again when the same rumor emerged a few days later in Los Angeles.

“Just another day covering President Trump’s America at Univision News.

“By now you’ve probably heard that this is a golden age for journalism — how The New York Times and The Washington Post are warring for scoops in ways reminiscent of the Watergate era; how an information-hungry public is sending subscriptions and television news ratings soaring, reinvigorating journalists and reaffirming their mission (‘Democracy Dies in Darkness’ and all that).

“But the story isn’t complete if it doesn’t include Univision News, one of the most striking examples I’ve seen all year of a news organization that is meeting the moment. . . .”

Some Litigate London Mosque’s Past Behavior

CNN, the New York Times, Daily Mail and News.com.au all decided to use last night’s horrific attack on London’s Finsbury Park Mosque welfare center as a chance to litigate the mosque’s past behavior,” Adam Johnson reported Monday for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting.

“A 48-year-old white man rammed his van into a crowd of people outside an Islamic welfare center associated with the Finsbury Park Mosque, killing one and injuring up to ten. Immediately, the ‘context’ trolls at major corporate media decided to jump in and began digging up dirt on the victims’ place of worship.

“The most egregious example stateside, CNN (6/19/17) dedicated almost 30 percent of its article on the attack to dumping on the Finsbury Mosque, bringing in their resident ‘terror expert’ Peter Bergen to paint a portrait of an Al Qaeda breeding ground:

“CNN national terror analyst Peter Bergen said the Finsbury Park neighborhood has a large Muslim population and the nearby mosque had a notorious reputation as a place where Islamist militants used to gather. . . .”

3,000 Reported Killed, Babies Mutilated in Congo

In a development that has largely escaped the world’s attention, the Catholic church said on Tuesday that “Congolese security forces and a militia fighting them have killed at least 3,383 people in the central Kasai region” in the Congo since October, Aaron Ross reported for Reuters.

The figure is only slightly less than the more than 3,600 people killed over 30 years in Northern Ireland.

Ross called the church announcement “the most detailed report to date on the violence.”

“Church officials, citing their own sources in the remote territory bordering Angola, said the army had destroyed 10 villages as it sought to stamp out an insurrection. They also accused the Kamuina Nsapu militia of killing hundreds of people, destroying four villages and attacking church property in a campaign to drive out central government troops. . . .”

Agence France-Presse reported that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, told the U.N. Human Rights Council that in areas attacked by the Bana Mura militia, “my team saw children as young as two whose limbs had been chopped off,” adding that “many babies had machete wounds and severe burns.

“One two-month-old baby seen by my team had been hit by two bullets four hours after birth. The mother was also wounded, (and) at least two pregnant women were sliced open and their foetuses mutilated,” he said.

“In one case, a ‘well-known’ local leader reportedly provided machetes, hunting rifles and fuel to Bana Mura militia members for their attack on the village of Cinq on April 24, in which dozens of men, women and children were reportedly shot, hacked or burned to death, Zeid said. . . .”

Short Takes

  • “Journal-isms” is seeking a copy editor to succeed Bill Elsen, who is moving on at the end of June. Competitive rates. Those interested should contact Richard Prince at princeeditor (at) yahoo.com.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts “announced 1,195 grants totaling $82.06 million in its second round of fiscal year 2017 awards, with several awarded to public broadcasting initiatives,” Dru Sefton reported Wednesday for current.org. Among the recipients are the National Black Programming Consortium in New York; Radio Bilingue in Fresno, Calif.; the Center for Asian American Media in San Francisco; and WYPR Radio, Baltimore. WYPR plans to document residents’ stories “through audio interviews and photography of one neighborhood block at a time. The project will expand to as many as six cities across the U.S. in partnership with local radio stations. . . .”
  • The Asian American Journalists Association Monday announced candidates for senior vice president, vice president of journalism programs and vice president of communications/secretary. All are running unopposed. They are, respectively, incumbent Michelle Ye Hee Lee, a reporter at the Washington Post who writes for its Fact Checker feature; incumbent Ramy Inocencio, New York-based anchor and correspondent for Bloomberg Television, Radio and Podcast; and Nicole Dungca, investigative reporter at the Boston Globe.
  • ESPN announced a series of major shakeups atop its Content Creation, Digital, and other departments today,” Jason Dachman reported Friday for Sports Video Group. “Connor Schell has been named ESPN’s EVP, Content, overseeing all of ESPN’s content creation across ESPN’s television, digital and print platforms. On the digital side, 20-year-ESPN-veteran John Kosner, EVP, Digital and Print Media, will be leaving the company, while Ryan Spoon, SVP, Product & Digital Media, will now report to Aaron LaBerge, EVP and CTO — fully integrating product and technology development under LaBerge. In addition, Burke Magnus, EVP, Programming and Scheduling, will assume direct oversight of ESPN’s relationship with BAMTech. . . .”
  • Chuck Stokes, editorial and public affairs director and talk show host at WXYZ-TV in Detroit, and his father, the late U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes, D-Ohio, were among the Detroit father-son teams spotlighted by Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley on Sunday.
  • Roxane Gay has finally written the book that she ‘wanted to write the least,‘ ” Terri Gross told listeners to her “Fresh Air” program Monday on NPR. “The author of Bad Feminist and Difficult Women says the moment she realized that she would ‘never want to write about fatness’ was the same moment she knew this was the book she needed to write. The result is Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Hunger, she writes, is not about wanting to shed 30 or 40 pounds: ‘This is a book about living in the world when you are three or four hundred pounds overweight,’ she explains. . . .”
  • Carolyn Brown, an assistant professor at American University’s School of Communication, “is contesting her tenure denial on the grounds that the provost unfairly assessed her application and is punishing her for activism on race and gender issues,” Brianna Crummy reported Friday for the student newspaper the Eagle.
  • Bill O’Reilly, who was fired from Fox News Channel in April, will test a half hour news program this summer,” Michael Malone reported Monday for Broadcasting & Cable. “During a Q&A session on his ‘The Spin Stops Here’ tour on Long Island, O’Reilly was asked if he’ll launch a network. ‘I am starting my own operation. We are going to do that,” he said, according to Newsday. . . .”
  • Megyn Kelly’s much talked about interview with Alex Jones got plenty of attention for Kelly and NBC, both good and bad, but not many viewers,” Frank Pallotta reported Monday for CNN Money. “Kelly’s sit down with Jones, a controversial, conspiracy theorist radio host and founder of the website Infowars, brought in an average of 3.5 million viewers Sunday night. That’s the fewest viewers that Kelly’s weekly news magazine telecast, ‘Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly,’ has drawn since its debut three weeks ago. . . .”
  • A note to my Black and brown friends in media: for the love of God, stop interviewing Richard Spencer,” Touré wrote Saturday for the Daily Beast. “He’s a professional racist and white supremacist Nazi-sympathizer who leads the alt-right. Why are we interviewing him? Because he’s the most famous openly racist person in America? Because he’s also calm, polite, relatively articulate, and willing to show up for almost any interview? I think that if you have principles behind your presence in media — if you’re in media for a purpose beyond getting a check — then you should not interview Richard Spencer. . . .”
  • The Not-So-Bitter Rivalry of Dean Baquet and Marty Baron: They’re pals who once vied for the same jobs. Now, as editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post, they’re locked in a daily battle for Trump scoops,” reads a headline over a story by Joe Pompeo Monday in Politico Magazine. “The competition between The Washington Post and The New York Times is — 20 percent of me hates it, because they beat us sometimes, but 80 percent of me thinks, this is amazing . . .” Baquet is quoted as saying.
(Credit: Dallas Mornng News)

(Credit: Dallas Morning News)

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