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What About When We Need Immigrants to Rebuild?

‘I Was Scared They Were Going to Kill Him’

An Eye-Opener on Just Who Trump Pardoned

The Athletic Admits Narrow Hiring Circle

Newseum CEO Out as Financial Review Begins

How About Statues of Lee’s, Guevara’s Victims?

The Day Dick Gregory ‘Shocked’ San Antonio

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What About When We Need Immigrants to Rebuild?

Tropical Storm Harvey unleashed the worst flooding in Houston history, dumping as much as 29 inches of rain in some areas over two days, sending bayous over their banks and leaving neighborhoods across the Houston area deep in floodwaters,” as Susan Carroll, John D. Harden, Keri Blakinger, Rebecca Elliott, St. John Barned-Smith, Dug Begley, Gabrielle Banks and Cindy George reported Monday for the Houston Chronicle.

“Thousands of people abandoned their inundated homes and apartments by boat, helicopter and by foot, carrying children, pets and plastic bags full of belongings. At least six people are believed to have died in the storm, according to the National Weather Service, and more than a dozen were treated for injuries.

“And the worst may be yet to come. . . .”

It was a news emergency, as flooding hit the offices of news operations in locations that bore the brunt of  the storm. As is the norm in such crises, all hands were on deck. Those with time to reflect took a longer view and linked the natural disaster to the nation’s stance toward undocumented immigrants and policies on climate change and development.

Houston has the third-largest population of undocumented immigrants in the country, according to the Pew Research Center,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorialized on Monday. “It is now ranked as the nation’s most diverse city. Latinos by far eclipse whites and blacks as the plurality population. In June, Houston city leaders voted to join a lawsuit that seeks to block a Texas law cracking down on ‘sanctuary cities’ that harbor undocumented immigrants.

“Go to any construction site in Houston, and the language being spoken will be Spanish first and English second. The kinds of labor Houstonians will most need over the next few months will be roofers and drywall removal and installation workers. Ask any construction contractor — thousands will be flocking soon to Houston — how the recovery effort works, and they’ll recite a complicated formula that hinges entirely on the narrow reimbursement margins allowed by insurance companies.

“To make it all work at prices that Houston homeowners can afford, cheap immigrant labor is a requirement. Even the conservative Texas Association of Business concedes as much, which is why its members are calling for comprehensive immigration reform, not a wall.

“Houston is where Trump’s Make America Great Again boasts slam up against hard economic reality. He can choose between an immigration crackdown or a more rapid recovery. But he can’t have both. . . .”

On public radio’s “Marketplace,” Neena Satija, a reporter for the Texas Tribune and Reveal, linked the crisis to unchecked development and climate change.

“. . .  Houston has always been a flood-prone city. It’s a low-lying city, it’s near the coast, much of it was swamp land. But what’s happened over the last hundred years, and I think scientists say has accelerated in the last 20 years, is rapid unchecked development, and scientists say that that development is making the flooding even worse. The second factor that you have is climate change. Climate change, scientists say, we know is potentially causing these rainstorms to be more frequent and more severe. So you add on the climate change and the unchecked development to a city that’s already prone to flooding, and you’ve got a big problem. . . .”

Intrepid journalists, meanwhile, lived up to their job descriptions.

This is what we do,” “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt told TVNewser Monday from Houston via phone, A.J. Katz reported for TVNewser.

Holt also said, “I started out in San Antonio with a caravan of 14 vehicles. After San Antonio, we made our way to Corpus Christi at the edge of the hurricane, and did our reporting the next day from Rockport, which is where the eye was. Then we moved to Houston, which had become a flood disaster. We then packed up several vehicles with our crews, producers and correspondents, and headed to Houston. We braved some pretty big storms on the way from Rockport here to Houston, and we were able to quickly set up shop. . . .”

At CBS, DeMarco Morgan, like Holt a black journalist, anchored the “CBS Evening News” from Houston on Saturday and led the newscast on Monday, reporting on rescue efforts.

Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute reported Monday on Len Cannon of KHOU-TV, another black journalist. “Hurricane Harvey may have forced the journalists at KHOU-TV to evacuate. But they didn’t stop covering the storm, Tompkins wrote.

“The Houston-based CBS affiliate was covering the floods when water began to seep into the studio. The station, which is across the street from the Buffalo Bayou river, took on water up to the anchor desk while Len Cannon was on the air.

“KHOU social media reporter Doug Delony posted video of Cannon on the air talking about the flood while water was rising around his shoes. . . .”

However, “the station dropped off the air for nearly seven hours after it moved two blocks away to the Federal Reserve building. With the help of sister Tegna station WFAA, KHOU was able to stay live on its website and social media pages while engineers scrambled to get a signal back on the air. . . .”

Bobby Amirshahi, a spokesman for Univision, told Journal-isms by email, “Despite being directly affected by the storm, our Univision Houston team has been reporting from the front lines across multiple platforms TV, radio simulcast, digital and social media since Friday morning, with only minimal interruptions.

“As one would expect, there has been tremendous collaboration across the company. For instance, photographers from WLTV in Miami and reporters from KUVN in Dallas have been working with the Channel 45 team in Houston to cover the storm and its aftermath. All of our other stations throughout Texas — Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, and McAllen — have been providing comprehensive, critical news and weather coverage related to Hurricane Harvey for several days.”

Asked whether the station building was affected, Amirshahi added, “There was minor flooding in the area. The streets around the station are passable on all sides. We have had no internal flooding or leaks.”

A Telemundo spokeswoman said by email, “Our Telemundo Houston employees are working hard and we have brought in staff to help with the workload.” She would not be more specific.

In a statement Monday, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade group for black-newspaper publishers, said, “we’ve learned that one our own NNPA member publishers, Sonny Messiah-Jiles, the publisher of the Houston Defender, along with her family, were rescued by boat, yesterday from their home.

“The NNPA has several other member publishers in the area and we are attempting to get an update on the status of fellow publishers Karen Carter Richards of the Houston Forward Times, and Francis Page of the Houston Style Magazine and their families. We are also asking that all of our member publishers — and everyone of us as Americans — remember and support those affected by the crisis in Texas in our concerned hearts and fervent prayers. . . .”

Vernon Loeb, managing editor of the Chronicle, spoke by telephone to CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday.

We have the entire editorial staff activated. Most people cannot get into the newsroom,” Loeb said. “We’ve got a skeleton crew in the newsroom. Most everybody else is editing from home or from wherever they are, directing their teams.

“I’ve got one editor in Taos, New Mexico, in a Starbucks directing her team. I told her, you can do as much from Taos as you can from Houston right now. . . .”

Loeb also said, “This has gone way beyond the two, one in 100-year floods we’ve had in last four years. As I say, this is nowhere near completed. It’s raining really hard. The skies are really dark.

“And, you know, they’re forecasting for four more days of rain. So, where this goes, I have no idea.”

"Reveal" host Al Letson said, "I just put my body down on top of his, in the hopes that they would not hit me." (Credit: Shane Bauer)

“Reveal” host Al Letson said, “I just put my body down on top of his, in the hopes that they would not hit me.” (Credit: Shane Bauer)

‘I Was Scared They Were Going to Kill Him’

While covering Sunday’s ‘Rally Against Hate’ in Berkeley, California, today, Reveal host Al Letson witnessed a man being attacked by a group of protesters,” the staff of Reveal, a radio show and podcast from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, reported.

“The man was balled up on the ground, fending off blows from several people. Letson, wearing a red T-shirt, jumped in front of the batterers, protecting the man from further injury.

“ ‘I was scared they were going to kill him,’ Letson said. ‘So the only thing I could think was I wanted to get on top of him to protect him.’

“The altercation was caught on video by Mother Jones journalist Shane Bauer, who identified the aggressors as anti-fascist protesters, sometimes called antifa. He also said the man being beaten may have been a member of the alt-right. Neither of those observations could be confirmed. . . .”

Letson, who is African American, was asked by NPR’s Kelly McEvers whether he thought twice about protecting someone who might have been a white supremacist.

What came to me was that he was a human being, and I didn’t want to see anybody die,” Letson said. “And, you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about the events in Charlottesville, and I remember seeing the pictures of a young man being brutally beaten by these guys with poles, and when I saw that I thought, ‘why didn’t anybody step in?’

“And you know, in retrospect, it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t see my humanity, what matters to me is that I see his. What he thinks about me and all of that, like — my humanity is not dependent upon that. . . .”

An Eye-Opener on Just Who Trump Pardoned

A Phoenix weekly is taking the opportunity to remind people exactly who President Donald Trump just pardoned,Hilary Hanson and Sam Levine reported on Saturday for HuffPost.

“Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who called himself ‘America’s toughest sheriff,’ was convicted of criminal contempt in July after violating a 2011 court order in a racial profiling case. Arpaio and his office had been ordered not to detain people solely because they thought they might be in the country illegally. Trump pardoned Arpaio, 85, for the contempt charge on Friday.

“Arpaio’s tenure as sheriff from 1993 through 2016 has received strong criticism from civil rights advocates, largely stemming from his extreme stance on immigration and for overseeing what they say was cruel treatment of inmates.

“And few know those controversies better than the Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly that’s doggedly covered Arpaio for two decades.

“The night that Trump pardoned him, the Phoenix New Times unleashed an eye-opening Twitter thread reminding readers of some of the grimmest stories of Arpaio and his office. . . .

“The numerous tweets — which all link to previous Phoenix New Times stories — describe instances like Arpaio calling his state’s own jail a ‘concentration camp,’ jailers breaking the neck of a paraplegic man, the failure of the sheriff’s office to investigate hundreds of sex abuse cases and a botched SWAT raid in which deputies allegedly laughed as a puppy burned to death. . . .”

The Athletic Admits Narrow Hiring Circle

The CEO of the fast-growing subscription sports website the Athletic acknowledged Monday that “we’re having issues creating a diverse team” after it published a photo of the staff of the All-American, a premium national college football site whose staff appeared to be all white.

A. Sherrod Blakely, new chair of the Sports Task Force of the National Association of Black Journalists, asked CEO Alex Mather why C.L. Brown, formerly of ESPN, was brought in as a freelancer despite having significant experience covering colleges.

“I won’t spend any time denying that we’re having issues creating a diverse team,” Mather replied. “As CEO I take full responsibility for the makeup of the team.

“I think you are exactly right on how this happens — we are a startup moving extremely quickly and too often we rely on colleagues of our first few hires. It’s a terrible cycle and I am putting an end to the practice.

“A few actionable items:

“1) CL Brown has accepted a full-time job with us as of a few minutes ago. He will be an asset. Seth was a bit over budget and that is why I blocked additional full-time hires, but I allowed him to go over,” a reference to Seth Davis, brought in to run a college basketball site .

“2) We are going to get job postings up in the next 2 weeks for all of our open positions. I hope we can post them to the NABJ’s site.

“We plan on being active at next year’s NABJ conference in Detroit. We were a bit too late this year in New Orleans, but you have my word that we’ll have a booth at the job fair and sponsor something. . . .”

The Athletic was last in this column in July when it hired Tim Kawakami, an Asian American columnist for the San Jose Mercury News. as editor-in-chief of its Bay Area site. Kawakami in turn hired Marcus Thompson, an African American sports columnist for the Bay Area News Group, as a columnist.

Newseum CEO Out as Financial Review Begins

Jeffrey Herbst, president and chief executive of the Newseum, stepped down suddenly on Monday as the museum’s board announced a full-blown review of its long-troubled finances,” Margaret Sullivan reported Monday for the Washington Post.

“The review could result in the sale of the landmark building on Pennsylvania Avenue, according to a statement from the Freedom Forum, the creator and primary benefactor of the Newseum.

“The Newseum will remain open while the financial review takes place, the statement said. One of Washington’s most popular museums, the Newseum is devoted to free expression and the First Amendment.

“The museum moved from Arlington to downtown Washington in 2008. Over the past 20 years, the statement said, the Freedom Forum has provided more than $500 million to build and fund the Newseum. . . .”

How About Statues of Lee’s, Guevara’s Victims?

I was in Argentina when the debate over efforts to tear down statues of Confederate hero Robert E. Lee exploded in the United States, and it sounded very much like the ongoing petition in that South American country to destroy monuments to guerrilla leader Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara,” Andrés Oppenheimer wrote Wednesday for the Miami Herald.

“In both cases, there is a much better solution.

“Why not let the statues of these historical figures stand, and build monuments to their victims right next to them?

“Why not build, right next to each Robert E. Lee statue, a monument to the victims of slavery in the United States? Or, next to Argentine-born Cuban rebel ‘Che’ Guevara, a monument to the people who were executed by him in Cuba? . . .”

In 1968, Dick Gregory, as presidential candidate, went to jail in Thurston County, Wash., in solidarity with Nisqually Indian treaty fishermen. (Credit: Hank Adams)

In 1968, Dick Gregory, as presidential candidate, went to jail in Thurston County, Wash., in solidarity with Nisqually Indian treaty fishermen. (Credit: Hank Adams)

The Day Dick Gregory ‘Shocked’ San Antonio

Comedian and activist Dick Gregory died last week, just months before the 50th anniversary of a speech he gave at St. Mary’s University that rocked the city,” Rick Casey wrote Friday for the Express-News in San Antonio.

Casey, who hosts a local public television program, also wrote, “By the time he came to speak at St. Mary’s in 1968, Gregory was known as both a provocative comedian and a social activist, a friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and the more radical Stokely Carmichael. His reputation was such that, according to an article in the St. Mary’s student newspaper, his appearance was originally scheduled for March but was moved up to January. Why? ‘Because some university officials felt his appearance close to the opening of HemisFair could be detrimental to the community.’

“Gregory began his lecture with a long series of jokes, many of them self-deprecating. But he also knew how to land a verbal punch, a punch richly wrapped in some uncomfortable truths.

“The coverage in the next day’s San Antonio News left off the wrapping. It said Gregory referred ‘to the American flag as “nothing but a damn rag,” ‘ and called the U.S. history book a ‘dirty old trampy history book.’

“Here’s some of the wrapping. Referring to a new flag-burning law, Gregory said: ‘What is an American flag? It ain’t nothing but a damn rag regardless of how patriotic you are, like all flags all over the world ain’t nothing but rags. … The day we can respect one another because we human — that’s the day a rag gonna be sacred, man.’

“And, he said, the U.S. history book starts out beautiful. ‘Now here’s a cat, that was over in London, in Great Britain, who wanted to get away from the shackles that was bonding him. He wanted to find a free place where he could plant his crop, where he could worship his own God. Ain’t that groovy?’

“But the second page is different, said Gregory. ‘The same cat that struck out to find his free land, to pray to his God, stole me on the way over. … Not only did he seize us on the way over, dig this, you think it’s not filthy: He came over here and discovered a country that was already occupied! How you do that?! That’s like me and my ole lady walk outta here tonight, and you and your ole lady sitting outside in your brand new car, and my ole lady say, “I sure would like that car so we can pray in it.” I say, ‘OK, let’s discover it.’”

“The newspaper article provoked a storm. Angry letters to the editor played for two weeks. The university was flooded with outraged phone calls. . . . ”

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