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Ousted Chief Was Only Person of Color on Masthead

Gregory Was Especially Fond of Black Journalists

Where Is Outcry for Victims of Massive Mudslide?

Charlottesville Paper Blames Black Vice Mayor

SPJ Says Journalists Should Speak Out on Bias

Univision CEO Unequivocal on White Supremacists

‘Comically Late’ and ‘Breathtakingly Stupid’

White Men Aren’t Really ‘Out of Luck’

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Davan Maharaj, editor and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, announces the Pulitzer prize to reporters and editors in 2016. (Credit: UC Riverside)

Davan Maharaj, editor and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, announces the paper’s Pulitzer Prize awarded to Times reporters and editors in 2016.  The Times won in the breaking news category for reporting on the terrorist shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., and the investigation that followed. (Credit: University of California, Riverside)

Ousted Chief Was Only Person of Color on Masthead

In a dramatic shakeup at the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago-based parent company terminated Davan Maharaj, its editor and publisher, and a handful of other senior editors, the parent company, Tronc, announced on Monday. The company said it “plans to invest more resources in the news organization to move it more quickly into the digital age,” Meg James reported for the Times.

The L.A. Times calls itself “the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 1.4 million and 2.4 million on Sunday, more than 39 million unique latimes.com visitors monthly and a combined print and online local weekly audience of 4.3 million.”

Under Maharaj, a Trinidadian whose great grandparents came from northern India, the L.A. Times newsroom grew to include 33.6 percent people of color, according to the 2016 diversity census conducted by the American Society of News Editors. The breakdown was 66.4 percent white, 4.8 percent black, 11.3 percent Hispanic, 13.8 percent Asian and 3.6 percent other.

Los Angeles County is 48.5 percent Hispanic or Latino, according to 2016 Census estimates, 15.1 percent Asian alone, 9.1 percent black or African American and 1.5 percent American Indian and Alaska Native alone.

Maharaj was the only person of color on the Times masthead.

“The shake-up felt sudden, but it was a long time coming,” Brian Stelter reported for CNN Money. “Maharaj repeatedly clashed with Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn, chairman Michael Ferro and others at the parent company. . . .”

James reported, “Ross Levinsohn, 54, a veteran media executive who worked at Fox and served as s interim chief of Yahoo, was named publisher and chief executive of the 135-year-old news organization. The move was announced Monday by Justin C. Dearborn, chief executive of Tronc, the parent company of the Los Angeles Times and eight other daily newspapers.

Jim Kirk, 52, a veteran Chicago news executive, who was publisher and editor of the Chicago Sun-Times until last week, was named interim executive editor.

“The two men replace Davan Maharaj, who has served as both editor and publisher since March 2016.  Maharaj was terminated Monday morning, along with three senior editors: Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin, Deputy Managing Editor for Digital Megan Garvey and Assistant Managing Editor of Investigations Matt Doig.

“The new leaders take over a news organization with flagging morale after years of management changes on top of huge shifts in consumer behavior that have roiled the entire newspaper industry. While still producing award-winning journalism, the paper hasn’t been able to keep pace with better resourced rivals on the East Coast, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. . . .”

Dearborn told the Poynter Institute that the firings were necessary to give Levinsohn an opportunity to bring in leaders that support his vision for the Los Angeles Times, Benjamin Mullin reported for Poynter.

We don’t do it lightly, but he’s got to build a team with a digital-first mindset to maintain the integrity of the great journalism that we do here,” Dearborn said.

Mullin also wrote, “The leadership shakeup at the Los Angeles Times is accompanied by changes throughout Tronc, which owns newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. . . .”

In December, Maharaj became the subject of a 5,200-word piece in Los Angeles magazine that accused him of “feckless and sometimes mean-spirited editorial leadership.”

Hillary Manning, Times communications director, responded then with a statement from Maharaj:

“We are in very challenging times in the newspaper business. My job is to make sure we produce quality journalism for our readers. Yes, that means I have to make difficult decisions. Running a newspaper isn’t a popularity contest. We and I should be judged by the quality of our work, and by that standard the Los Angeles Times has done very well in the past five years. Our journalism speaks for itself, and it speaks loudly.”


(Credit: Reuters) (video) 

Gregory Was Especially Fond of Black Journalists

Dick Gregory, the comedian and activist, had the misfortune to die during the same news cycle as comic actor Jerry Lewis, and in much of the mainstream media — even in Gregory’s native St. Louis — the front-page notice went to Lewis. A few outlets, such as the Washington Post, New York Times and Miami Herald, gave both men their front-page due, with equal space for each.

There was no doubt, however, about which man was up close and personal with black journalists.

“Dick Gregory was especially fond of the Black Press and black-owned media outlets,” Cheryl Smith, a friend of Gregory and publisher of the Dallas-based I-Messenger News, told Journal-isms by email. “He would talk about how the Black Press was responsible for focusing on the lynchings of black men, shining the spotlight on the savage murder of Emmett Till, and giving momentum to the Million Man March.

“In the late 1990s he took me to Radio One Headquarters to introduce me to founder/owner Cathy Hughes, his longtime friend. He talked about her humble beginnings and how proud he was of her accomplishments in radio and television.

“He always talked about the power of the press while encouraging me to always seek and tell the truth.

“He encouraged and praised journalists telling them, ‘information is power.’

“I’ve known him to give over 10 interviews in one day because he valued those who wanted to inform their audiences.

“He attended several NABJ conventions with me over the years and he loved talking to journalists,” she said, referring to the National Association of Black Journalists, of which she is secretary. “Every year he would ask me where was the convention and if he could attend, he was there.

“He was full of information and most of it derived from the numerous newspapers and periodicals he reads daily. Over the years, he said, his weekly costs for publications rose to over $600.”

Dick Gregory, right, introduces honoree Joe Madison of Sirius XM at a Capital Press Club gala in Washington in 2014. (Credit: Capital Press Club)

Dick Gregory, right, introduces honoree Joe Madison of Sirius XM at a Capital Press Club gala in Washington in 2014. (Credit: Capital Press Club)

In his adopted hometown of Washington, D.C., radio host Kojo Nnamdi and Sirius XM host Joe Madison traded stories Monday on Nnamdi’s WAMU-FM show (audio) about their interactions around town with Gregory, who died of heart failure Saturday at 84.

In the Washington Post, Wil Haygood wrote about his first meeting with Gregory in 2000, when Haygood was a national reporter for the Boston Globe and saw Gregory in Washington.

He had given me an address, and told me to meet him there at 4:30 — ‘in the morning.’ I thought the comedian was joking. He was not. He also told me to bring a pair of sneakers. . . .

“Before the sun came up in Rock Creek Park, he had me laughing out loud. There were a good many stories about his peripatetic life. Funny stories about white people, black people, southern sheriffs and the CIA, whose agents he described as ‘spooks.’

“He talked about the scholarship he received to attend Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, from which he did not graduate. He talked about comedy clubs in New York City, other clubs in the Midwest, that kept food on the table. He couldn’t remember if he went to his father’s funeral; it was a strained relationship.

“We talked about the civil rights movement, and how he had gotten involved. He said it was because of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, the civil rights workers who were murdered in Mississippi in 1964. I told him I had gone to Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, where the three men — along with other civil rights volunteers — had trained before taking off for Mississippi.

“Heck yes, he confided, he was scared of that state. He’d get all spastic up in the face of the sheriffs. They thought something was wrong with him, mentally. ‘That night I was there, in Mississippi, talking to Sheriff [Lawrence] Rainey, putting my finger in his face, saying, “You know you did it. And we’re going to get you!” ‘ . . . .”

 Hundreds are reported dead with many more missing after mudslides and floods tore through several communities in Freetown, Sierra Leone. (Credit: UNICEF)


Hundreds are reported dead with many more missing after mudslides and floods tore through several communities in Freetown, Sierra Leone. (Credit: UNICEF)

Where Is Outcry for Victims of Massive Mudslide?

In the early hours of Monday (14 August), Sierra Leoneans woke up to devastating torrential rains that caused flooding and a massive mudslide, which mostly caused tremendous damage in Mortormeh, Kamayama and Kaningo communities in the outskirts of the capital Freetown,” Alimatu Dimonekene wrote Monday for International Business Times.

“Sierra Leone government’s initial reports indicated that over 300 bodies had been recovered, but search and rescue operations were still ongoing.

“Latest estimates suggest that at least 400 bodies have been recovered and brought to the central morgue in Freetown, but it is estimated that the number of victims may increase to the thousands.

“Many more have lost property and possessions due to the deadly flooding and government reports indicated that hundreds are currently homeless, with nowhere to go. The majority of these people are young vulnerable children, mothers and infants in need of urgent help.

“Furthermore, health workers have warned of an impending health crisis due to the fact that corpses have been left in the out and mass burial of bodies is still underway.

“Many agencies working on the ground are doing their utmost best to respond to the disaster, which has now been described as unprecedented tragedy.

“As the painstaking task of recovering the victims continues, I have been appalled by the lack of outcry or support from the international community. . . .”

Charlottesville Paper Blames Black Vice Mayor

Wes Bellamy

Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy of Charlottesville, Va.

“On August 10, the Charlottesville Daily Progress published an editorial in anticipation of a rally that attracted hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and racists — many of them armed — to the recently renamed Emancipation Park,” Brendan Fitzgerald wrote Aug. 15 for Columbia Journalism Review.

More than once, the editorial asks, ‘How did we get here?’

“By way of an answer, the Daily Progress editorial board assigned responsibility. The editorial’s headline urged a lone city councilor — Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy — to ‘speak up now to calm [a] raging fire.’ Bellamy, who is the only black person on the City Council and who was elected in 2015 with a greater number of votes than any other candidate, organized a press conference in Emancipation Park last year and called for the removal of the [Robert E.] Lee statue.

“He was not the first councilor to consider such an action; councilor Kristin Szakos mentioned the idea in 2013, before Bellamy publicly announced his candidacy. But Szakos is never named in the editorial. . . .”

Fitzgerald also writes, “Just days before hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and racists walked across the grounds of the University of Virginia carrying lit torches — and before a Hitler-fixated man was charged with murder and malicious wounding after he drove a car into a group of protesters — Charlottesville’s daily newspaper argued that Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy had ‘dropped a match on a gas field.’ . . .”

Fitzgerald calls the editorial an “inept assignation of blame.” He also wrote, “Decades ago — though not before the dedication of the Lee statue—the Progress published two separate newspapers — “one with white society news and one with black society news.” With last week’s editorial, the Progress risks bifurcating its audience again. . . .”

SPJ Says Journalists Should Speak Out on Bias

Objectivity is correctly cited as an elemental trait of good journalists, which is exhibited in their ability to separate fact from fiction regardless of their personal biases,” Andrew M. Seaman, chair of the Society of Professional Journalists‘ ethics committee, wrote Aug. 15.

“Some people unfortunately confuse that trait with the concept of equivalence that suggests all points of view are inherently equal. Objectivity and equivalence are not the same.

“People and journalists in the United States are asking a lot of questions in the wake of the deadly protests, riots and attacks that occurred over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Those questions grow more complex as the White House continues to issue conflicting statements.

“For journalists covering Charlottesville, its effect on their communities or similar events, the question may be: How can I objectively cover people who spew racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and other outdated and repugnant beliefs?

“The answer is that we objectively know that discrimination based on sex, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and other inherited traits is wrong. Journalists should feel free to say so and forcefully challenge people who believe otherwise. . . .”

Univision CEO Unequivocal on White Supremacists

Univision CEO Randy Falco is speaking out in the wake of Charlottesville violence and the President’s suggestion that both sides had good people and shared the blame,” John Eggerton reported Friday for Broadcasting & Cable.

“Falco said that as the CEO of a company serving the ‘rising diverse American mainstream,’ he was speaking out against, among other things, ‘the abject failure to clearly and forcefully denounce the actions of white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and others who espouse racist and hateful views.’

“He did not say whose abject failure it was, but he did not have to. His meaning was clear: Corporate America needs to fill a moral clarity void in Washington . . . ”

‘Comically Late’ and ‘Breathtakingly Stupid’

On Wednesday night, The New York Times’s business section published a story about the growing number of bubble tea businesses and their struggle to expand in the United States,” Karen K. Ho reported Friday for Columbia Journalism Review. “But, as many have noted, the paper of record thoroughly botched its execution of the feature, including two tone-deaf headlines and an unattributed quote from Reddit.

“On Thursday, the title of the story was changed from ‘The Blobs in Your Tea? They’re Supposed to Be There’ to ‘Bubble Tea, Long a Niche Favorite, Goes Mainstream in the U.S.’ and then finally ‘Bubble Tea Purveyors Continue to Grow Along With Drink’s Popularity.’ The article also used awkward phrases such as ‘exotic menus,’ ‘concoction,’ ‘curious amalgam,’ and the deeply unpleasant ‘globby balls.’

“ ‘It talked about Asia as “the Far East” and boba “washing ashore,” ‘ says Los Angeles Times writer Frank Shyong, who also called the piece ‘comically late’ and ‘breathtakingly stupid.’ ‘This is the language of an old black and white movie. It just promoted this vision of the mainstream that simply didn’t include Asian people.’ . . .”

White Men Aren’t Really ‘Out of Luck’

The Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) and the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University is accepting applicants for a new journalism scholarship, but if you are a white male, you’re out of luck,” Tom Ciccotta wrote Aug. 9 for Breitbart News. “The grant is only available to female and ethnic minority candidates.”

Similar stories appeared in the Daily Caller and on other right-wing websites.

Asked for comment, the Fund replied Friday by email:

“The grant/fellowship opportunities that The Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University are offering seek to increase diversity in the field of investigative journalism with an emphasis on women and journalists of color.

“Many studies over the years have tracked the progress of women and minorities in journalism, with the organizations conducting them acknowledging hat more needs to be done to broaden opportunities for women and people of color.

“The four fellowships currently being promoted are one step in that direction.

“In addition to the joint project to promote diversity conducted by FIJ and the Schuster Institute, both organizations have ongoing grant and fellowship programs that receive applications and award grants and fellowships throughout the year. All journalists, regardless of their socioeconomic background, have ample opportunities to apply, and receive dozens of grants and fellowships through these programs.

“Here are two studies that have tracked women and people of color in the journalism profession:
http://www.womensmediacenter.com/reports/the-status-of-women-in-u.s.-media-2017
http://asne.org/content.asp?contentid=123 ”

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