CEO: New Investor Might Expand Events Business

Jim Vance, Inveterate Smoker, Died of Lung Cancer

Trump News Saps Attention From World Disasters

Somali Americans, Media in Fraught Relationship

Glen Nishimura Dies, Editor of USA Today Columns

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New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and rapper Dee-1 helped kick off the Essence Festival's Empowerment Experience on June 30. (Credit: Kiri Walton, NOLA.com)

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and rapper Dee-1 helped kick off the Essence Festival’s Empowerment Experience on June 30, (Credit: Kiri Walton, NOLA.com)

CEO: New Investor Might Expand Events Business

Twelve years after Time Inc, assumed control of Essence Communications Partners, ending Essence magazine’s status as a black-owned publication, Time is looking to sell its majority stake in Essence, (paywall) Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg reported Monday for the Wall Street Journal.

Rich Battista, Time Inc.’s chief executive, told Trachtenberg that he hopes to complete a transaction by the end of the year.

At the time of the 2005 deal with Time Inc., Edward Lewis, chairman and CEO of Essence Communications and publisher of the magazine, said, “It will give me great pride and comfort to know that Essence will be secure for generations to come and that its prospects for even greater success will be brighter than ever.”

Lewis maintained later that if he had to do it all over, he would sell to Time again because of the expanded opportunities and cross-pollination possible under ownership by a conglomerate.

But the move by Time is likely to revive talk, realistic or not, of restoring Essence to black ownership. In 2005, Earl G. Graves Sr., publisher of Black Enterprise, said that the Essence owners should have allowed black entrepreneurs to make an offer to purchase the company.

Essence has a dedicated Snapchat Discover channel.

Essence has a dedicated Snapchat Discover channel.

Essence’s conglomerate ownership has become an issue from time to time since its sale. In 2013, Constance C.R. White said that her departure as editor-in-chief was involuntary and the result of repeated clashes with Martha Nelson, the editor-in-chief of Time Inc. who White maintained had sought to limit the way black women were portrayed.

In 2012, Essence and its white male managing editor, Michael Bullerdick — whom management emphasized had a production, not an editorial role — parted ways after right-wing material on his Facebook page was brought to the editors’ attention.

The conglomerate at first contemplated selling all of Time Inc., but decided against that this spring, Trachtenberg reported.

“Time Inc., which is struggling with declining print advertising revenue like much of the publishing industry, ended discussions with potential buyers in late April,” Trachtenberg continued.

“The media company said at the time it intended to focus on its core brands, among them People, InStyle and Real Simple, and TIME. Time Inc. also said it would look to outright sell some of its noncore assets.

“Mr. Battista said he viewed Essence as core despite the decision to look for a majority investor.

“Mr. Battista cited Essence’s events business, its growing digital presence, and its long relationship with big marketers, as reasons for optimism.

“A new investor might have the resources to enable Essence to expand its growing events business at a time when many publications are seeking new revenue opportunities.

“On the digital front, Essence is the only African-American brand with a dedicated Snapchat Discover channel, said Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications, which includes the magazine and related properties.

“In early May, Essence partnered with Twitter to live-stream the weekly talk show ‘Essence Now,’ which made its debut this month.

“ ‘African-American women are deeply engaged with mobile and social media,’ said Ms. Ebanks. Essence.com attracted 3.7 million multiplatform unique visitors in June 2017, up from 2.2 million in June 2015, according to media measurement firm comScore Inc.

“The recent Essence Festival in New Orleans attracted more than 470,000 people compared with more than 450,000 in 2016. The second Essence Festival Durban will take place in South Africa later this year.

“In 2015, Joe Ripp, then CEO of Time Inc., said in an interview that the Essence Festival in New Orleans earned more money than the magazine made in a year. . . .”

Bruce Johnson, anchor at WUSA-TV, recalls the times he spent with his friend Jim Vance of WRC-TV. (Credit: Facebook)

Jim Vance, Inveterate Smoker, Died of Lung Cancer

A close friend and competitor of Jim Vance, the longtime Washington anchor who died Saturday at 75, disclosed Monday that Vance died after “a brutal battle” with stage 4 lung cancer. Amid tributes from colleagues and viewers who demonstrated the strong connection that a local anchor can develop with a city, Bruce Johnson of WUSA-TV devoted his own show to the effects of smoking and how viewers can stop. He said Vance was unable to do so.

Vance anchored at NBC-owned-and-operated WRC-TV, which had not specified the type of cancer that Vance battled.

Jim Vance's image on the wall mural outside Ben's Chile Bowl.

Jim Vance’s image on the wall mural outside of Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Among its coverage, however, was a segment Monday featuring colleagues at the station recalling how Vance looked out for their best interests (video).

“I was struggling with whether I wanted to continue in this business,” said Perkins Broussard, an editor who worked with Vance for 19 years.

“But he said to me,’ you know, there’s not many of us in this business,’ meaning African American men. He said, ‘there’s not that many of you,’ meaning me as an African American editor, that has the skill and the craft that I have, that I’ve developed over the years, and he said” — Broussard paused to compose himself — “he said he was proud of my progress, that he’s watched me from afar for many, many years and he remembered me as this young, black kid that just came into the newsroom, you know, just fit in and did what I had to do to get this far, and he said to me, ‘you’ve come way too far to turn back.’ ”

Ede Jerman, the station’s operation manager who worked with Vance for 20 years, told reporter Patrick Collins, “I was going through a very dark period in my life. I was getting a divorce and I was having one of those emotional moments, and Jim pulled me into his office and said to me, ‘Sister, get it together. Sit down, cry it out, get it together.

” ‘We all have ups and downs, but you’re a champion. I expect you to be a champion and continue to be so,’ and that was something that helped me put things in perspective.”

Tributes flowed over the weekend from Washingtonians with and without titles, who often said, “he loved this city, and the city loved him back.”

It’s a sentiment other local anchors strive for. In downtown Washington, the National Association of Broadcasters flew its NAB flag at half staff in Vance’s honor, Chris Ariens reported for TVSpy.

Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association, said by email, “I don’t know of anything definitive recently that’s been written about the importance of local anchors….except that news research, generally, shows they are among the most trusted components of TV News in terms of trustworthiness and believability….and are a major reason why local TV news is among the most trusted news sources of them all in the United States.

“Jim Vance is certainly a classic example of that on so many levels…and his tenure at WRC-TV is a major reason why that station for so long has been at the top of the ratings in DC.”

At first in a video posted on Facebook, and then on his “Off Script” show, Johnson discussed how he and Vance tried hypnosis to stop smoking. It worked for Johnson, but not for Vance.

Vance’s co-anchor Doreen Gentzler, said her on-air partner had “an issue” with his lungs 10 years ago and that they frequently discussed his smoking. On the deadliness of the habit, “he would like to get that message out,” she told Johnson.

Johnson also showed viewers an interview he conducted with Wayne Curry, the first black county executive of neighboring Prince George’s County, Md., a smoker who died of lung cancer at 63 in 2014. Curry, then near the end of his life, also pleaded with viewers not to smoke.

Funeral arrangements were not complete, the station said.

 

Trump News Saps Attention From World Disasters

When Americans elected Donald Trump in November, they created a dramatic shortage in a valuable global commodity: attention,” Ryan Mac, Steven Perlberg, Alberto Nardelli, Jim Waterson, Borzou Daragahi, Tarini Parti and John Hudson reported Monday for BuzzFeed.

“The sheer attention Trump absorbs — on Twitter, on television, in culture, and in the anxious dreams of American citizens and the country’s allies and enemies — draws away the lifeblood of everything from the launch of new apps to new social movements. Attention is the currency not just of American attention-seekers from Kim Kardashian to Amazon, but also of the other great geniuses of attention-seeking over the last decade: terror groups like ISIS, and opponents of the postwar social order like Julian Assange. . . .”

They also wrote, “BuzzFeed News reporters and editors on six continents have examined how attention-hungry subjects are responding to this new shortage of their favorite commodity. We found that Trump’s dominance is not fully global. While he has captivated North America and Europe to varying degrees, a few places have entirely resisted the narrative: such as Brazil, captivated by its own crisis, and India, focused on its own battles.

“But in the US — and the many parts of the world whose politics have long existed at least in part in relation to Washington — savvy attention merchants are responding dynamically to a disrupted market.

“Some are shouting louder. American politicians curse more now. Global aid groups say they are relying on increasingly unorthodox stunts such as the ‘Famine Food Truck’ the aid group Oxfam has been driving around Washington, DC, in an attempt to call attention to what it describes as the worst humanitarian disaster since the end of World War II: a food crisis spanning South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen causing extreme hunger for 30 million people.

“ ‘A crisis of this magnitude would usually warrant significant media attention, and we’ve tried a number of tactics with only sporadic results,’ said Laura Rusu, media manager at Oxfam America.

“Others are streaming in Trump’s wake — most literally, the media figures and companies who are gaining a following by racing to reply to Trump’s tweets. . . .”

Somali Americans, Media in Fraught Relationship

When the Minneapolis police officer involved in the shooting of Justine Damond was identified last week as Mohamed Noor, Suud Olat’s iPhone lit up with calls and texts from journalists around the country,” Ibrahim Hirsi reported Monday for MinnPost.

“Most of them came from news organizations that were already familiar with the 25-year-old Somali-American, who has made a name for himself as an advocate for refugee communities during the three years he’s lived in Minnesota.

“This time, though, the journalists didn’t want him to talk about refugee issues; they wanted information about Noor, a Somali-American who shot Damond after she called 911 to report a suspected sexual assault.

“Olat talked to reporters from several local and national media organizations — including the Star Tribune, Minnesota Public Radio, The Associated Press, Voice of America and CBS News — about the one-time brief interaction he had with the officer some months ago in Minneapolis.

“Later, when his comments appeared in the news, Olat’s iPhone started to blow up again. This time, though, the calls didn’t come from journalists; they came from people he knew from the Somali-American community, almost all of them saying he should stop speaking to the media about the shooting.

“ ‘The community has a natural tendency to avoid the media, thinking that it will tell nothing good about us,’ Olat said. ‘So a lot of community members called me names. They said, “You are being used. You are looking for your 15 minutes fame.” ‘

“Throughout most of the 25 years Somali-Americans have lived in Minnesota, they’ve had a complicated relationship with mainstream media — an experience that’s become especially fraught in the last decade, after several Somali-Americans from Twin Cities metro area joined extremist groups in Somalia and the Middle East. . . .”

Glen Nishimura Dies, Editor of USA Today Columns

Glen S. Nishimura

Glen S. Nishimura

Glen S. Nishimura, who spent many years as editor of opinion columns at USA Today and was a member of the paper’s editorial board until his retirement two years ago, died July 22 at his home in McLean, Va.,” the Washington Post reported Monday. “He was 68.

“The cause was lymphoma and myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of cancer affecting bone marrow and blood, said his wife, Susan Schmidt, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reporter.

“Mr. Nishimura spent much of his early career as a news editor at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, where he became adept at page design and layout. He also worked briefly at the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe as an editor before joining USA Today shortly after its founding in 1982 as an assistant editor on the Washington desk. He later moved on to the editorial staff as a writer and then op-ed editor, where he conceived and commissioned opinion pieces from experts and advocates in many fields.

“Glen Susumu Nishimura, a third-generation Japanese American, was born in Los Angeles on Dec. 14, 1948. He was a 1971 graduate of California State University at Los Angeles.

“At his death, he had drafted part of a book about the internment of his family in relocation camps during World War II. He consulted older generations of relatives as well as letters written between his parents throughout the war and their internment. . . .”

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