Writer Wants Attention to Ideology, Not Gender

Kent Johnson Dies, Atlanta Visuals Editor

Police Forced to Reinstate 450+ Fired Officers

Susan Leath Resigns as Gannett Publisher in Del.

LaSharah Bunting Joins Knight Foundation

Kimberley Martin Named Buffalo Sports Columnist

Trump Administration Challenges Value of Diversity

‘Detroit’ Movie Not Impressive at Box Office

Israel Seen as Threatening to Censor Al Jazeera

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Google has launched Howard West, a three-month engineering residency on its campus for Howard University computer science majors. The students are shown in at the Googleplex. (Credit: Google)

As part of a diversity initiative, Google has launched Howard West, a three-month engineering residency on its campus for Howard University computer science majors, male and female. The students are shown at the Googleplex. Engineer James Damore took issue with the company’s efforts at gender diversity. (Credit: Google)

Writer Wants Attention to Ideology, Not Gender

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web company’s diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley,” Mark Bergen and Ellen Huet reported Monday and Tuesday for Bloomberg News.

James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for ‘perpetuating gender stereotypes.’ He said he’s ‘currently exploring all possible legal remedies.’

“The imbroglio at Google is the latest in a long string of incidents concerning gender bias and diversity in the tech enclave. Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick lost his job in June amid scandals over sexual harassment, discrimination and an aggressive culture. Ellen Pao’s gender-discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2015 also brought the issue to light, and more women are speaking up to say they’ve been sidelined in the male-dominated industry, especially in engineering roles.

“Earlier on Monday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees that said portions of the memo ‘violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.’ But he didn’t say if the company was taking action against the employee. A Google representative, asked about the dismissal, referred to Pichai’s memo.

“Damore’s 10-page memorandum accused Google of silencing conservative political opinions and argued that biological differences play a role in the shortage of women in tech and leadership positions. It circulated widely inside the company and became public over the weekend, causing a furor that amplified the pressure on Google executives to take a more definitive stand.

“After the controversy swelled, Danielle Brown, Google’s new vice president for diversity, integrity and governance, sent a statement to staff condemning Damore’s views and reaffirmed the company’s stance on diversity. In internal discussion boards, multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with him, according to postings viewed by Bloomberg News. . . .”

Levi Sumagaysay wrote Sunday for the Bay Area News Group, “while it’s true that Google publicly champions the hiring of women and minorities to diversify its workforce, which like many others in the corporate world continues to be largely white and male, the tech giant was actually accused by the Department of Labor of routinely paying women less. The government is asking the company to provide detailed employee data, which Google is fighting. . . .”

Google reported in June that its global employee workforce was 69 percent men and 31 percent women. In the United States, its ethnic composition was 56 percent white, 35 percent Asian, 4 percent two or more races, 4 percent Hispanic and 2 percent black.

Kent Johnson Dies, Atlanta Visuals Editor

Kent Johnson, visuals editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, died Saturday while on assignment for the newspaper, a spokeswoman confirmed on Monday. He was 57.

Details were sketchy, but spokeswoman Drue Miller said the death was not necessarily connected to the assignment. “We’re still waiting for the coroner to do his work,” she said.

Sandra Brown, senior visuals editor, said Johnson was covering the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo in Conyers, Ga., 24 miles east of Atlanta. Mike Siebert, deputy coroner in Rockdale County, which contains Conyers, said through a spokeswoman Tuesday that he would have no comment pending the results of an autopsy.

The Journal-Constitution did not immediately publish an obituary or news report of the death.

“I’ve never been in such a quiet newsroom before,” Miller said of Monday’s workplace.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Johnson attended Walter Panas High School in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., from 1973 to 1977, and Oklahoma State University from 1977 to 1982.

He was photo editor at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., from 1993 to 1995 and photo editor at the Charlotte Observer from 1995 to 1998 before joining the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in August 1998.

Friends and colleagues took to social media. “I’m still coming to grips with devastating news of the death last night of former AJC colleague Kent Johnson,” Akili-Casundria Ramsess, executive director of the National Press Photographers Association, wrote Sunday on Facebook. “One of the sweetest souls you could ever meet. A great friend, a dedicated family man, and a passionate advocate for photojournalism and photographers as a photo editor.

“His humor and compassion were unfailing. When I first returned to Atlanta and was getting my freelance business off the ground, he was the first to re-open the door for an opportunity to work again. My heartfelt prayers to his beloved wife Leslie and children. One of the things I . . . admired most was his love and commitment to them. . . .”

J. Scott Trubey, an economic development reporter at the AJC, tweeted, “. . . Kent was a pro whose influence can’t be overstated.”

[Update: The family announced Tuesday that services would be held at Donald Trimble Mortuary, 1876 Second Ave., Decatur, GA 30032. Public viewing Friday, Aug. 11, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.; celebration of life service, Saturday, Aug. 12, 11 a.m. Burial, Melwood Cemetery, 5170 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Stone Mountain, Ga. 30083. Repast to follow at Bethel, next to Donald Trimble Mortuary.]

Police Forced to Reinstate 450+ Fired Officers

Since 2006, the nation’s largest police departments have fired at least 1,881 officers for misconduct that betrayed the public’s trust, from cheating on overtime to unjustified shootings,” Kimbriell Kelly, Wesley Lowery and Steven Rich reported Thursday for the Washington Post. “But The Washington Post has found that departments have been forced to reinstate more than 450 officers after appeals required by union contracts.

“Most of the officers regained their jobs when police chiefs were overruled by arbitrators, typically lawyers hired to review the process. In many cases, the underlying misconduct was undisputed, but arbitrators often concluded that the firings were unjustified because departments had been too harsh, missed deadlines, lacked sufficient evidence or failed to interview witnesses.

“A San Antonio police officer caught on a dash cam challenging a handcuffed man to fight him for the chance to be released was reinstated in February.

“In the District [of Columbia], an officer convicted of sexually abusing a young woman in his patrol car was ordered returned to the force in 2015. And in Boston, an officer was returned to work in 2012 despite being accused of lying, drunkenness and driving a suspected gunman from the scene of a nightclub killing. . . .”

Sharing her personal journey, Susan Leath told a 2015 audience, “I can remember the old ad slogan ‘You’ve come a long way, baby.’ But we need to go further.” (Credit: Delaware Business Times)

Sharing her personal journey, Susan Leath told a 2015 audience, “I can remember the old ad slogan ‘You’ve come a long way, baby.’ But we need to go further.” (Credit: Delaware Business Times)

Susan Leath Resigns as Gannett Publisher in Del.

Susan Leath, the only female African American publisher of a general-circulation daily in the United States, has resigned “to pursue other opportunities,” the News Journal in Wilmington, Del., a Gannett Co. property, reported July 20.

Leath was regional president and publisher of the News Journal, the Daily Times in Salisbury, Md., and 10 weeklies along the Delaware coast and the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia.

“Leath came to The News Journal in 2014 from the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she served as publisher,” the News Journal reported. “A graduate of the University of Alabama, she began her career at the New York Times Regional Group in the circulation department in Ocala, Florida.

Tom Donovan, regional president of Gannett’s Northeast group and president of the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, will lead the largest media organization on the Delmarva Peninsula on an interim basis. . . .”

In November 2015, Leath, a one-time foster child, shared her personal story with the New Castle Chamber of Commerce in Delaware.

Kathy Canavan reported for the Delaware Business Times that Leath “told the crowd of 850 that her family circumstances presented many challenges, but she decided at an early age to fight through them and embrace the opportunities that life presented.

“ ‘We all have our drivers — what makes us get out of bed in the morning. For some it is necessity, some money, some status, you name it. For me, growing up in foster care, it was about breaking the cycle and making a positive impact,’ Leath said.

“After graduating from high school, she packed up everything she owned, got on a Greyhound bus and left Mobile, Ala., headed for a relative’s home in California. She attended a community college there, then earned a four-year degree in advertising at the University of Alabama. ‘I made sure I never took for granted the value of my education and that my degree was not an automatic guarantee to success, just the starting point.’

“The New York Times hired Leath for a management-training program in Florida, where she met her husband Randall. One woman let out a loud ‘ooooh’ and others smiled when Leath asked her husband to stand up and said, ‘He is my biggest champion, and I simply would not be me without him.’ . . .”

LaSharah Bunting Joins Knight Foundation

LaSharah Bunting

LaSharah Bunting

LaSharah S. Bunting, who took a buyout last month at the New York Times, where she was senior editor for digital training and recruitment, has joined the Knight Foundation, a major funder of journalism programs as well as a supporter of those in the arts and technology. Bunting is the new director of journalism programs.

Bunting announced the news on Facebook as “incredible news,” declaring, “I’m excited to use my passion for journalism and digital transformation to support and advance the industry.”

According to the journalism section of the foundation’s website:

We fund for impact in these areas:

“First Amendment: We champion a broad interpretation of the First Amendment in the digital age. We fund research, training and litigation in support of the people’s right of expression, public access to information and journalists’ right to practice their craft.

“Journalistic Excellence: We support the transformation of news organizations and institutions committed to meeting the demands of the digital age. We support innovative approaches to the use of technology to advance the practice of journalism and inform community.”

Kimberley Martin Named Buffalo Sports Columnist

Kimberley A. Martin

Kimberley Martin

Newsday sports reporter Kimberley Martin will join The Buffalo News as a sports columnist later this month, Editor Mike Connelly announced Wednesday,” the News reported. Martin will be one of the few African American female sports columnists at a daily newspaper, if not the only one.

“Martin has been Newsday’s lead Jets writer for the past five seasons and was a backup Jets writer for two and half years before that. Prior to covering the NFL, Martin covered high school sports for Newsday and got her start at the Bergen County Record.”

” ‘We are excited that Kimberley is joining a great News sports staff,’ Connelly said. ‘She knows sports, she knows football and I can’t wait for Buffalo fans to get to know her.’ . . .”

In 2011, Martin was named “Emerging Journalist of the Year” by the National Association of Black Journalists. Hank Winnicki, Newsday’s assistant managing editor of sports, said then, “She’s a terrific writer and reporter and has handled every challenge thrown her way. This honor is well-deserved.”

Martin’s first day with the News is Aug. 21.

Trump Administration Challenges Value of Diversity

Stephen Miller

Stephen Miller

Stephen Miller stood in front of a gaggle of reporters this week and declared that ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ was an embarrassing footnote in American history,” Dara Lind wrote Friday for vox.com.

“He was talking about the White House’s push on the RAISE Act, a bill that would cut legal immigration to the US in half over the next decade (mostly by slashing family-based immigration and ending the country’s ‘diversity visa’ lottery). This was part of an effort by the White House, as John Cornyn said, to reopen a national conversation about legal immigration — specifically, to introduce the possibility that it might in fact be bad in current quantities.

“The White House also recently held a press conference to talk about how Central American immigrants are feeding into the gang MS-13: that they rape and murder people instead of assimilating, that they are criminals who have taken over America’s streets.

“These aren’t just messages being sent from the White House, a ‘Too Much Immigration Is Bad’ week along the lines of ‘Infrastructure Week’ and ‘American Heroes Week.’ They’re messages sent throughout the Trump administration — and sometimes, the tiniest changes are the most revealing ones.

“A couple of weeks ago, the Trump administration quietly changed the name of a grant given by US Citizenship and Immigration Services to local organizations from ‘Citizenship and Integration’ to ‘Citizenship and Assimilation.’

“The small tweak was a shot across the bow. It’s a declaration of who should be considered fully American: not just putting down roots in a community, becoming integrated into its economy and civic life, but assimilating — sloughing off something of one’s ancestral culture to take on something American instead.

“The Trump administration is reopening a conversation much bigger than ‘how many immigrants should the US admit.’ It’s reintroducing the idea that diversity itself might not be a good thing for America. In Trump’s America, diversity has rendered swaths of the country unrecognizable and even hostile to longtime Americans — largely the white voters who make up Trump’s base. Not only do they want to take their country back, but they are anxious never to ‘lose’ it again. . . .”

A scene from “Detroit.’’ (Credit: Francois Duhamel/Annapurna Pictures) ’’

A scene from “Detroit.’’ (Credit: Francois Duhamel/Annapurna Pictures)

‘Detroit’ Movie Not Impressive at Box Office

‘Detroit’ is making a good impression on most critics and moviegoers who’ve seen it,” Julie Hinds wrote Monday for the Detroit Free Press.

“But its weekend box-office numbers weren’t impressive.

“The dramatization of Detroit’s 1967 Algiers Motel killings by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow made more than $7 million in its first weekend of wide release at more than 3,000 theaters — much less than analysts had predicted. . . .”

Hinds also wrote, “Detroit continues to show a lot of interest in ‘Detroit.’ It’s the third best box-office market for the movie, behind only New York and Los Angeles.

” ‘We’re incredibly proud of this film, and wanted to make sure that audiences around the country could see it. It was an honor to world premiere in Detroit where the film, filmmakers and cast were so generously embraced. The box office is absolutely huge here (and across Michigan) — among the best in the country,’ said Erik Lomis, president of distribution for Annapurna Pictures, in a statement to the Free Press. ‘We have terrific reviews and strong exits. We hope the film has legs, and that the conversation continues.’

“So why did the film, directed by Oscar-winner Bigelow, (and featuring a talented ensemble cast led by John Boyega of ‘Star Wars’ fame) underperform? There could be several reasons, some because of timing and painful content, others as complex and intensely felt as the movie itself. . . .”

Israel Seen as Threatening to Censor Al Jazeera

The Committee to Protect Journalists says Israel should not try to censor Qatari-based broadcaster Al Jazeera (the network’s U.S. operation discontinued broadcasts late last year),” John Eggerton reported Monday for Broadcasting & Cable.

“CPJ was responding to a report on Al Jazeera that there was an effort to close its offices in Jerusalem and revoke its journalists’ credentials.

“The report cited a statement by Israeli Communications minister Ayoub Kara, a press conference Al Jazeera says it was barred from attending.

” ‘We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work,’ Kara said, according to Al Jazeera, who also said the channel is being used by groups to ‘incite’ violence, a charge that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has leveled and which Al Jazeera denies.

“CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said censoring Al Jazeera could put Israel ‘in the camp of some of the region’s worst enemies of press freedom’ . . .”

In one of her first assignments since returning to Chicago from a tour in Beijing, CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz embedded with several Chicago gang members. (Second item)

In one of her first assignments since returning to Chicago from a tour in Beijing, CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz embedded with several Chicago gang members. (Second item)

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