Smith Cites Racism, Sexism in Hall of Fame Speech

‘Arpaio Is Guilty, but Hold the Cheers for Now’

Head-Spinning, Fact-Challenged Days With Trump

Diversity Concerns Accompany MSNBC Makeover

3 News Outlets Got Cold Feet on R. Kelly Story

Dallas Paper Urges Removal of 2 Rebel Statues

Term for ’60s Urban Uprisings Still Up for Debate

AAJA Honors Newsroom-Driven Diversity Project

Journalists Attacked During Vote in Venezuela

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Former Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Claire Smith holds up a painting of former player Don Baylor — painted by her father — as she gives her acceptance speech after receiving the J.G.Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Credit: Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Former Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Claire Smith holds up a painting of former player Don Baylor — painted by her father — as she gives her acceptance speech after receiving the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame Saturday. (Credit: Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Smith Cites Racism, Sexism in Hall of Fame Speech

Claire Smith was at the forefront of a velvet revolution in sports writing, a soft-spoken woman who did not knock down clubhouse doors so much as righteously persist and stand until they opened,” Filip Bondy wrote Saturday from Cooperstown, N.Y., for the New York Times.

“During a Hall of Fame presentation at Doubleday Field on Saturday, Smith was rewarded for that steady resolve when she received the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, given to her for meritorious contributions to baseball writing. She is the 68th recipient of the award from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, and the first female honoree — a formal acknowledgment that men do not own exclusive rights to the most powerful written words.

“ ‘I humbly stand on stage for those who were stung by racism or sexism or any other insidious bias and persevered,’ Smith said. ‘You are unbreakable. You make me proud.’

“Smith, 64, spent more than three decades as a newspaper reporter and columnist, including a significant stint as a national baseball writer and columnist for The New York Times from 1991 to 1998. During that period, she wrote about the near death and rebirth of the sport — from the destructive strike that wiped out the 1994 season to the dawning of a new Yankees dynasty at the end of the decade. She later moved home to work for the Philadelphia Inquirer and became a news editor for ESPN in 2007.

“It was before that, during her years with The Hartford Courant as a pioneering, full-time female baseball beat writer covering the Yankees, that Smith met the most resistance from players and officials. But not from that era’s tumultuous Yanks, she said with a laugh. ‘They hardly noticed me, she said, ‘because they were holding on for dear life.’

“Instead, her greatest challenge came from the San Diego Padres during their 1984 playoff series against the Chicago Cubs. She was ejected from the clubhouse, then rescued by an empathetic Padres player, Steve Garvey, who fed her quotes from his teammates.

“But Smith was no damsel in distress; she had an unbending professionalism about her that wore down even the most stubborn resistance.

“ ‘I had a game story to write,’ she said in 1984, after she had been pushed out the Padres’ door.

“Other pioneers in the sport — including Sandy Koufax, the Jewish Dodgers pitcher who refused to play on Yom Kippur during the World Series; Frank Robinson, the first black manager in the major leagues; and Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson — gave her a standing ovation Saturday. . . .”

Arizona Republic reporters Megan Cassidy and Richard Ruelas take viewers through the conviction of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and what it means for him. (Credit: Sean Logan/

‘Arpaio Is Guilty, but Hold the Cheers for Now’

Hold the cheers. Hold the celebration over the judge’s ruling that made former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio a convicted criminal,” the Arizona Republic editorialized on Monday.

“This isn’t over.

“Not for Arizona, which will watch Arpaio’s appeal.

“Not for America, which continues to see immigration used as a political tool, instead of being treated as a human problem of epic proportions.

“Arpaio has gone from the scourge of Latino neighborhoods to a has-been, but his methods and attitudes toward immigration enforcement have not faded.

“Instead, his attrition-through-enforcement zeal has been elevated to the national level.

“It’s one reason for a sense of sadness as we mark the day justice (sort of) caught up with Sheriff Joe.

“U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled that Arpaio is guilty of criminal contempt for failing to follow court orders to stop ‘crime suppression sweeps’ that racially profiled Latinos in the name of immigration enforcement.

“The ruling is unsurprising. Arpaio admitted to civil contempt. His defense against the criminal charges was that the violations were unintentional.

“Those who listened to Arpaio’s rhetoric over the years find that hard to accept — as did the judge. . . .”

The editorial board also wrote, “And don’t forget, not all who were hurt were undocumented.

“Legal residents and citizens were affected.

“All of Arizona was sullied by the racial profiling that went on when Arpaio was sheriff. . . .”

(Credit: CNN via Jonathan Capehart)

(Credit: CNN via Jonathan Capehart)

Head-Spinning, Fact-Challenged Days With Trump

Anthony Scaramucci’s head-spinning, humiliating exit was not the day’s only huge DC story, Brian Stelter and the CNNMoney team wrote Monday for their “Reliable Sources” newsletter, referring to Scaramucci’s 10-day tenure as White House communications director.

“Far from it. One hour later, Trump’s press secretary claimed POTUS was just ‘joking’ when he seemingly encouraged police brutality the other day… then GOP senator Jeff Flake broke with President Trump in extraordinary fashion, penning a Politico column (adapted from his new book) titled ‘My Party Is in Denial About Donald Trump…’ and then the WashPost broke the news that the president personally ‘dictated’ Don Jr.’s misleading original statement about the Russian lawyer meeting. . . .”

On Saturday, Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press compiled a list of misstatements by Scaramucci and Trump over the previous week. “This past week wasn’t a high point for veracity in Washington,” Woodward began.

Diversity Concerns Accompany MSNBC Makeover

When MSNBC announced in late June that conservative commentator Bret Stephens would begin appearing on the network as an on-air contributor, progressives pounced,” Kelsey Sutton reported Friday for

Andrew Lack, the chairman of MSNBC and NBC News, “planned to remake the network around Brian Williams while improving MSNBC’s once-abysmal ratings, sources said. Lack set out to abandon most of the channel’s low-rated opinion-based programming and install in its place news-heavy programs that would make MSNBC more like the channel’s sister site, NBC News. (Stephens, like some of the other recent hires, contributes to both.)

“But the election of Donald Trump has complicated that evolution, raising the profile and popularity of MSNBC’s liberal hosts just as Lack sought to dial back the network’s liberal identity. . . .”

Raelyn Johnson

Raelyn Johnson

Sutton also wrote, “What has stung the most to some people hasn’t simply been the hires of ex-Fox talent or outspoken conservatives, but the fact that the hires have seemed to replace many of the network’s hosts of color. Since Lack’s return to MSNBC, according to HuffPost, at least nine contributors and show hosts of color have departed the channel. The loss of several familiar faces of color has been particularly stark against the backdrop of the new hires, many of whom are white.

“Concerns about diversity have been amplified in part by a series of contentious departures that have played out in the press. In February 2016, progressive weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry, who is black, refused to appear on her show, publicly alleging that the network was trying to usurp her 4-year-old program and dictate her editorial choices. She was fired, prompting discussion over whether MSNBC remained committed to the diverse opinions and guests that Harris-Perry’s show had prioritized.

“The conversation arose again when anchor Jose Diaz-Balart was regularly preempted for election coverage. (Diaz-Balart, who is Cuban-American, is no longer an MSNBC host, but he remains a host on NBCUniversal’s Telemundo and on NBC News.) And it reached a fever pitch in January following the abrupt departure of NBC News and MSNBC host Tamron Hall, who reportedly decided to leave the network after discovering she would lose her Today show hour to [Megyn] Kelly.

“No one Mic spoke to believed Lack intentionally targeted hosts of color, but four MSNBC insiders said they do not believe Lack actively prioritizes on-screen diversity. The loss of diverse hosts, then, is more of an unintended consequence of the long-term reinvention of the channel. . . .”

Meanwhile, “TVNewser has learned that Raelyn Johnson has been promoted to executive producer, MSNBC Weekends,” A.J. Katz reported Friday for TVNewser. “Johnson is presently a senior producer on the 3 p.m. MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi hour, and will transition into her new role over the next few weeks.

“Prior to joining MSNBC in November 2015, Johnson was as a senior producer with Al Jazeera America. She was one of the original team members to launch that network. . . .”

3 News Outlets Got Cold Feet on R. Kelly Story

R. Kelly

R. Kelly

Call it the Gawker Effect,” Margaret Sullivan wrote Sunday in the Washington Post.

“After Jim DeRogatis, the veteran Chicago rock critic, reported for months on a stunning story about R&B singer R. Kelly and the young women said to be under his psychological and sexual control, it came time to get it published.

“Three separate media organizations were interested but got cold feet at the last minute, DeRogatis said. Each one, after investing months of work, backed away from the story that used named sources and documents to describe how women near Atlanta and Chicago were held as if in a cult, according to what parents and others had told police.

(DeRogatis declined to name the news organizations because of his appreciation of the editors he worked with; they weren’t the ones who pulled the plug. They include a regional print publication, a world-famous multimedia behemoth and a radio-based digital outlet.)

“ ‘Gawker came up in a lot of those conversations,’ DeRogatis said, referring to the snarky and risk-taking website that was put out of business last summer after a lawsuit brought by Terry Bollea, also known as Hulk Hogan. The invasion-of-privacy suit was bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel, a confidant of President Trump.

“ ‘Nobody wanted to take that risk.’

“DeRogatis has pursued the R. Kelly story doggedly, first writing about it well over a decade ago and taking the Fifth Amendment in a subsequent trial rather than reveal his sources. (The longtime rock critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, DeRogatis also had a brief stint with Rolling Stone magazine; he was famously fired after he complained publicly that publisher Jann Wenner had killed his pan of a Hootie and the Blowfish album.)

“ ‘This is a tawdry, sickening tale,’ he told me. In an interview with Vox, he described the ‘rape culture’ he believes is the underlying story.

“Ultimately, DeRogatis turned to a fourth outlet, BuzzFeed, which published the jaw-dropping story this month under the headline ‘Inside the Pied Piper of R&B’s “Cult.” ‘

“ ‘When we pursue a story, our primary concern is whether it’s accurate and newsworthy — not whether the subject is too rich or powerful, be it Russian oligarchs, R. Kelly or the Trump White House,’ said BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal.

“But it’s not just a question of having what DeRogatis calls ‘major cojones.’ BuzzFeed’s lawyers managed to make the story bulletproof, or apparently so, since there has been no challenge to its facts, not even a request for a minor correction. (Kelly has publicly insisted that there’s no truth that he runs a cult or anything like it.)

“There’s a lot of uncertainty and fear out there, post-Gawker, said Nabiha Syed, BuzzFeed’s assistant general counsel, who vetted the story before publication. . . .”

 The Robert E. Lee statue in Robert E Lee Park. in the Turtle Creek area of Dallas. (Credit: Tom Fox/Dallas Morning News)

The Robert E. Lee statue in Robert E. Lee Park, in the Turtle Creek area of Dallas. (Credit: Tom Fox/Dallas Morning News)

Dallas Paper Urges Removal of 2 Rebel Statues

We’re pleased Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has called for the Communities Foundation of Texas to tackle the long-thorny issue of the Confederate memorials in this city,” the Dallas Morning News editorialized on Wednesday.

“What to do about these divisive and painful reminders of this country’s racist past seems exactly what the W.W. Kellogg Foundation had in mind when it awarded the foundation a $1.75 million grant in its campaign to provide more racial equity and healing.

“This city needs that today more than ever.

“Rawlings isn’t dictating an outcome, he wants citizens to decide. But he knows too well that Dallas and this country are still living in the shadows of slavery and the enduring legacy of Jim Crow segregation. It’s this dark and brutal past that these statues have come to symbolize.

“Dallas has four major monuments to the confederacy. We believe it’s time for two of the towering tributes in our public spaces to be removed: The massive statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E.Lee in an Oak Lawn park that bears his name and the Confederate War Memorial in front of Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

“They are stand-alone symbols that pay specific tribute to the side of the Civil War that fought to keep human beings in bondage. Continuing to pay homage to that cause is unnecessarily divisive and out of touch. . . . .”

The editorial board also wrote, “Dallas’ other two big confederate monuments are at Fair Park. One is a statue on the promenade and the other is a Confederate Medallion in the Great Hall devoted to Texas history. We feel differently about them — and believe they should stay — because they’re part of a larger historical presentation that places Texas and its role in the confederacy in a broader context. . . .”

After the death of Washington anchor Jim Vance of NBC-owned WRC-TV on July 22 at 75, rival station WUSA-TV, a CBS affiliate, reported on other black journalists who entered television as reporters and anchors after the urban uprisings of the 1960s. Leslie Foster filed this report on Friday. (video)

Term for ’60s Urban Uprisings Still Up for Debate

While many of the facts about the week of July 23, 1967, in Detroit “have long been documented by historians,” Maria Paz Guierrez wrote Friday for NPR’s “Code Switch,” “one big question remains: What should the chaos of that summer be called?”

” ‘Everybody who saw this, everybody who heard these stories has a different take on exactly what happened,’ says Joel Stone, senior curator at the Detroit Historical Society.

“Drawing all these different perspectives together, we realized everybody had a different term for it, too.’

“Last month, the museum opened an exhibit titled ‘Detroit ’67: Perspectives,’ part of a massive community engagement project that’s gathered over 400 oral histories of people who were there or have been living in the city since 1967.

“Part of the exhibit explores the tension around what to call the July ’67 events. Before they walk in, visitors are asked: ‘What do you call it?’ Responses range from riot to revolution.

” ‘If you use the word “riot,” you’re really putting the onus for whatever bad happened on the people who were looting, the people who were lighting the fires, the people doing the vandalism …’ Stone explains. ‘Whereas, if you turn to the word “rebellion,” there’s a sense that the people who are doing that stuff are pushing back against some force. In this case it was a government force, a police force and that they had a good reason for pushing back against that.’ . . .”

Gutierrez also wrote, “While Joel Stone says that most visitors start the exhibit calling it a riot, once they learn more about what led up to those events, they end up calling it an ‘uprising’ or ‘rebellion.’ . . .”

AAJA Honors Newsroom-Driven Diversity Project

The Seattle Times newsroom won the Asian American Journalists Association’s Leadership in Diversity Award Saturday for “Under Our Skin,” an interactive video project on race that sprung from conversations among newsroom women and people of color.

The award was presented at the Asian American Journalists Association conference in Philadelphia.

“We represent a grassroots movement at the Seattle Times,” web developer Audrey Carlsen said in accepting the award. “Anyone can be a leader when it comes to this sort of thing. You don’t have to have editor in your title, but you do have to have allies.”

The project is described as “exploring 12 often-contentious words about race, from ‘microaggression’ to ‘white privilege.’ The team spent hours building trust with some interviewees who didn’t think The Seattle Times — or the media in general — accurately portrays their lives.

“Since June 2016, ‘Under Our Skin’ has become one of the most-visited places on the Seattle Times website, and continues to spark conversations in local and national organizations — including the University of Washington football team, the Seattle office of the FBI and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Two members of the ‘Under Our Skin’ team also started leading regular newsroom meetings examining diversity in the Seattle Times coverage. This project has changed the way The Seattle Times newsroom thinks about and presents sensitive stories. One example: The day after The Seattle Times ran a front-page photo of Bill Clinton when Hillary Clinton had been nominated to be president, the newsroom ran a front-page apology. To their knowledge, The Seattle Times was the only newspaper to do so. . . .”

It promises, “even more initiatives are currently in the works. . . . ”

Among other awards, Julia B. Chan and Scott Pham of Reveal, a publication of the Center for Investigative Reporting, won the Al Neuharth Award for Innovation in Investigative Journalism, a $5,000 cash prize from the Gannett Foundation open to AAJA members. They were honored for “Portraits of A Trump Supporter.”

Journalists Attacked During Vote in Venezuela

Venezuelan officials should stop harassing journalists and censoring media outlets amid unrest and violent protests in the country,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

“Journalists covering yesterday’s vote to elect representatives for a constituent assembly to reform the Venezuelan constitution were arbitrarily detained, attacked, and threatened.

“At least four journalists were detained, protesters attacked two photographers and stole their equipment, and a soldier threatened journalists, according to local press freedom groups and news reports. Authorities also impeded journalists’ ability to cover voting and the president called for a television station to be investigated over its coverage of the vote and unrest, according to news reports. . . .”

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