Women of Color Want Links Between Movements

Smiley, Suspended by PBS, Announces New Projects

Imprisoned Sexual Abuse Victims Have No Voice

Bezos Gives $33 Million for ‘Dreamer’ Scholarships

Press Played Role in Rape Case Oprah Publicized

Daily News Owns Up to Late Columnist’s Smear

Harvard Crimson Latinos on ‘Micro-Aggressions’

Short Takes

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Credit: Miami Herald

Women of Color Want Links Between Movements

People of color and the #metoo movement have this as their common enemy: White men’s assertion of supremacy.

Women of color delivered that simple message at a day-long meeting on power imbalances in the newsroom. It featured some of the journalists who uncovered sexual abuse that has led to high-profile firings of such bold-face names as Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer and Mark Halperin. Also present were others who successfully pointed fingers, and female news executives. The assemblage was described as a collection of some of the top female minds in the news business.

Most of the 125 attendees were white women who discussed a range of issues associated with harassment, but the women of color among them kept returning to race as part of the core issue: a power imbalance that handicaps both women and people of color.

Sarah Glover: not just a straight, white female issue (Credit: Newseum)

Sarah Glover: not just a straight, white female issue (Credit: Newseum)

“It’s not just an issue of sexual harassment,” Sarah Glover, president of the National Association of Black Journalists and one of the facilitators, said at the beginning of “The Power Shift Summit,” which took place Tuesday at the Newseum in Washington.

“It’s really about power and power situations and newsroom environment and work environment, and power often leads to issues of discrimination at large, and so I think it’s very important that we look at this not just as a straight, white female issue,” said Glover, who was circling part of the room with a microphone, taking comments from the attendees.

“This is an issue that’s impacting LGBT communities, black communities, black, brown, Asian, and so we want to make sure that when we talk about a power shift that women of color and women beyond straight, white women are at the table.”

In fact, according to Farai Chideya, a journalist and educator who is now a program officer at the Ford Foundation, even some white men don’t fit the model of those entitled to assert supremacy. “In the intersectionality of race, class and gender, the more things that remove you from heteronormative, white male power, the less likely you are to be able to speak and to be heard,” Chideya said from the audience.

“We still have to acknowledge that even people who seemingly have power are not able to speak, be heard and continue their careers. . . . I made many tactical decisions throughout my career to hold my silence, which then results in very weird things like white men, from organizations where I used to work, coming to me for HR [human resources advice] because they can’t go to their own HR departments, because white men who are not high on the totem pole experience what I call the feminization of the self in the workplace, meaning that they lose power,” she continued.

“So it’s not just a gender issue, it is a power issue.”

Chideya wrote last month about bullying that took place at New York Public Radio, where she was a co-host with John Hockenberry on “The Takeaway.”

It’s not just a newsroom issue. The next day, at a program on race and sports at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the sociologist Harry Edwards made the same point: The #metoo movement needs to make clear that its goals are linked to “white supremacy and patriarchy.”

At the Newseum, Alfredo Carbajal, president of the American Society of News Editors, noted that fewer than 40 percent of managerial positions in print and online newsrooms are held by women, according to ASNE’s annual diversity survey. The “supervisor” figure for minorities in 2015 was 10 percent.

In local television, female news directors are 29.8 percent of the total,  and minorities 14.9 percent, according to the 2017 survey of the Radio Television Digital News Association.

Michelle Ye Hee Lee of the Asian American Journalists Association (Credit: Newseum)

Michelle Ye Hee Lee of the Asian American Journalists Association (Credit: Newseum)

It is not known how many in power positions are LGBT, noted Sharif Durhams, vice president of broadcast of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

Having such a category in the ASNE survey would send a signal that LGBT journalists are valued, Durhams said, though he acknowledged afterward that adding that category might be more problematic legally than counting people of color and women.

Still, Carbajal told Journal-isms that he was open to exploring the idea. “We need to represent all the different segments of society,” Carbajal said. “We need to have a conversation.”

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, a veteran of public broadcasting, told the group she had a different way of quantifying the power imbalance, which she said has a human cost and especially touches women of color.

“I’ve now been 17 years in media, and mostly in mainstream media,” Lantigua-Williams said, “and I’ve found that there is a value ratio that is applied to women versus men. So the value ratio goes like this: How many women can we discard, abuse, bring in, rotate for the sake of keeping this one very valuable forward-facing man?

“And we have to do away with that value ratio, because what’s happening is that you’re discouraging a lot of really hard-working, really brilliant women, who come in knowing that here’s an untouchable, here’s a sacred cow, so I’ve got to work around that, even though sometimes he is the anchor that is keeping the ship sunk essentially. . . .”

The need to kowtow to the “very prominent male” is “blocking a whole line of women [who are] going through this routine, a revolving door, because we’ve anointed certain males in our industries,” she said.

Jill Geisler of Loyola University, who has facilitated many meetings on effective newsroom management, including the Newseum session, replied, “That speaks to the question of with all the diversity efforts, why they have not been successful, because there was another tug and pull sending them away, sending women and people of color away.”

Lara Setrakian is a member of Press Forward, a group of reporters who have endured sexual harassment and assault and are banding together to improve the workplace culture in newsrooms. She and others in her group attended. Setrakian spoke of “shadow effects” that white male privilege can have.

“At the time that I experienced all this, my closest confidante — and still one of my best friends — at ABC, who’s black, we experienced it in ways that I didn’t understand until now,” 12 years later, Setrakian said.

“She had to reckon with the fact that some major figures at ABC were applying certain criteria to certain people, dangling certain opportunities to certain women, based on their standards of beauty and all sorts of other things. And so one of the shadow effects for that best friend of mine was having to consider a sort of career-limiting fact of her existence at that organization. And it was heartbreaking for her and I think it’s haunted her for many years.”

One counter is to model progressive behavior, Lauren Williams, the new editor-in-chief of vox.com, and Carrie Budoff Brown, editor of Politico, said on a panel called “Changing the Systems.” Williams said she encourages both maternal and paternal leave, “showing that having a baby is not a liability.”

As they demonstrated in stating the obvious, having women in decision-making positions makes a difference. Anne Vasquez, chief digital officer for tronc, Inc., offered another example. She told a story about wanting to hire a talented woman, only to be told by two of the woman’s male former co-workers that they just didn’t have the right chemistry with her.

Vasquez hired the woman anyway, and she turned out to be fine. It was an example of how “blind spots,” or “fault lines” as the late Robert C. Maynard and his daughter, the late Dori J. Maynard, defined them, can impede diversity.

Madhulika Sikka, public editor at PBS, had an answer to why this matters.

“The focus on diversity is numbers, and numbers [are] obviously a part of it,” she said. “But it’s always, if you’re one of very few, or only one, you are lauded as one who counts in the diversity hire. But then what happens is you’re expected to conform to the culture that’s already there, as opposed to bringing what you bring to the table, and helping change that culture, and that’s where I think work needs to be done too.

“As someone who has been in a lot of rooms where I’m the only woman or the only woman of color, it’s even more of a hurdle, and no one around you is expected to do the work that you’re expected to do, and I think that’s something that we need to address in our organizations. What do we mean when we say we want to be inclusive? . . .”

Sikka also said, “Some of the work that needs to be done is for, let’s admit it, the men who are predominantly in power, to look at the world differently. . . . It matters because of coverage . . . That is why it matters. You know what? You may not like it, but guess what? There’s a whole audience out there you might be able to reach, if you opened your eyes to looking at the world in a multiplicity of ways.”

Smiley, Suspended by PBS, Announces New Projects

Tavis Smiley announced a bevy of new projects, including a new television series, less than a month after being ousted by PBS amid allegations of ‘sexual misconduct,’ ” Travis M. Andrews reported Tuesday for the Washington Post.

“In a Facebook video posted Monday afternoon, Smiley said his new weekly online series ‘The Upside With Tavis Smiley’ will ‘celebrate the spirit of resilience, the power to overcome that resides in each of us.’ He said the show would be distributed by the Word Network, which bills itself as the ‘largest African-American religious network in the world.’ The show is expected to debut in the spring.

“ ‘We are thrilled to have Tavis share his insightful programming with our vast audience,’ Kevin Adell, the network’s chief executive, said in a statement.

“Smiley is also planning a five-city town-hall-style tour called ‘The Conversation: Women, Men and the Workplace’ in which he says he will discuss ‘how to create safe and healthy work environments.’

“ ‘The polling is all over the place regarding what women and men think about where the lines are, and what constitutes acceptable office protocol,’ Smiley said, adding, ‘we need to have a national dialogue about these issues so women and men know how to engage each other in the workplace.’

“PBS suspended distribution of the 53-year-old host’s program Dec. 13, citing ‘multiple, credible allegations’ against Smiley. PBS said in a statement it had ‘engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley.’ . . .”

prison rape

Imprisoned Sexual Abuse Victims Have No Voice

When Tarana Burke started the Me Too movement, she hoped it would elevate the voices of survivors of sexual abuse — especially the voices of women of color,” Josephine Yurcaba reported Monday for Rewire.

“Although Burke’s Me Too has molded into a viral movement and hashtag, made famous mostly by celebrities and those who have access to platforms like Twitter, the survivors whose abusers are actually facing consequences are still mostly white women with resources and power. Some women with privilege are attempting to be better allies to those often erased from these conversations, by putting money behind their words, but some members of marginalized groups, like people in prison who’ve experienced abuse while incarcerated, have no voice.

“The public seems to care less about the stories of incarcerated survivors than others, as Victoria Law has reported, and does not work as hard to end their abuse or the normalization of abuse in prisons. The result is a culture of sexual violence so extreme that speaking out could put prison abuse survivors in serious danger. The mainstream Me Too movement as cultural effort falls short for them. . . .”

Bezos Gives $33 Million for ‘Dreamer’ Scholarships

Jeff Bezos

Jeffrey P. Bezos

Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, announced Friday that he is donating $33 million to a scholarship fund for young ‘dreamers,’ immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children,” Ed O’Keefe and Nick Anderson reported for the Washington Post.

“The donation from the world’s wealthiest person comes amid fresh pressure from business leaders as talks on Capitol Hill over how to resolve the legal status of dreamers are foundering. The White House and some GOP lawmakers rejected a tentative deal from a bipartisan Senate group on Thursday — the same day President Trump made incendiary remarks about people from developing countries.

“Bezos, who is the richest person in the world, and his wife, MacKenzie, will be donating the sum to TheDream.US, a scholarship program that has awarded more than 1,700 immigrants more than $19 million in financial assistance since it launched in 2014.

“The money will help fund 1,000 college scholarships and is the largest donation yet to a fund established by Donald E. Graham, the former publisher of The Post who sold the company to Bezos in 2013.

“Graham launched TheDream.US with Henry R. Muñoz III, the finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee, and Carlos Gutierrez, who served as commerce secretary under President George W. Bush.

“In a statement announcing the donation, Bezos cited the story of his adoptive father, who left Cuba as part of Operation Pedro Pan. ‘He landed in this country alone and unable to speak English,’ Bezos said in a statement. ‘With a lot of grit and determination — and the help of some remarkable organizations in Delaware — my dad became an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him in so many ways. MacKenzie and I are honored to be able to help today’s Dreamers by funding these scholarships.’ . . .”


“Democracy, Now!” discusses “The Rape of Recy Taylor” (Credit: Democracy, Now!) (video)

Press Played Role in Rape Case Oprah Publicized

In her breathtaking Golden Globes speech Sunday night, Oprah Winfrey told the audience that ‘speaking your truth is the most powerful tool you have,’ ” Danielle McGuire wrote Tuesday for the Washington Post. “But for far too long, marginalized women have spoken their truths and been ignored or silenced.

“Oprah mentioned Recy Taylor, a woman whose story I researched for years and wrote about in my 2010 book. Taylor’s story — a black woman who fought for justice against a group of white men who kidnapped and raped her in the Jim Crow South — is harrowing, but not unique.

“Taylor, who died last month, publicly identified her perpetrators and testified against them in the 1940s, long before the #MeToo movement was spawned. The men had threatened to kill her if she spoke about the attack, a credible threat in Jim Crow Alabama.

“But Taylor had a support network led by Rosa Parks, a seasoned activist who had cut her political teeth working to defend the ‘Scottsboro Boys’ from false allegations of rape in 1933.

“Parks carried Taylor’s story to Montgomery, where she and the city’s most militant activists organized the ‘Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor.’ They launched a national protest movement that the Chicago Defender called the ‘strongest campaign for equal justice in a decade.’ . . .”

In “At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance — a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power,” McGuire describes how the press was part of the story.

“By the end of October, Taylor’s story had traveled all the way to Pennsylvania, where the widely read and respected black newspaper the Pittsburgh Courier ran it on October 28, 1944. Strategically placed beneath a banner headline that declared ‘Treatment of Negro Called Greatest Evil in America,’ the succinct front-page article, ‘Alabama Whites Attack Woman; Not Punished,’ highlighted sexual violence as one of those evils. . . . ”

“The Courier article made the rape of Recy Taylor a national example of Southern injustice. It immediately sparked nationwide interest. Eugene Gordon, a prominent black Communist and writer for the New York Daily Worker, followed up on the Courier’s lead by traveling to Alabama to interview Taylor. . . .

“Pointing to the most recent example, Gordon argued that ‘every southern newspaper played up the rape of the unnamed wife of a white soldier in Florida’ but failed to report the crime against Recy Taylor. Worse, he fumed, Southern editors stood silent as the alleged black rapists of a white woman ‘were burned to death in Florida’s electric chair ‘ while Taylor’s assailants weren’t even questioned. . . .”

However, “Enough black troops were upset by the gang rape of Recy Taylor that Charles S. Seely, the editorial director of the Army News, felt compelled to urge [Ala.] Governor [Chauncey] Sparks to act. . . . Just before Christmas, Eugene Gordon from the Daily Worker teamed up with E.G. Jackson, Montgomery activist and editor of the popular black newspaper the Alabama Tribune, to confront Sparks. . . . Governor Sparks reluctantly agreed to launch an investigation. . . .”

Despite evidence of the suspects’ guilt, however, two grand juries refused to issue indictments. “The Birmingham News expressed concern, but not for justice or for Recy Taylor. Instead, editors worried that the outcome would only aid ‘those disposed to think ill of Alabama because of the Scottsboro case’. . . .”

 The victim was right. The sketch matched. So did the DNA. (Credit: NYPD/NYC Dept. of Corrections)


The victim was right. The sketch matched. So did the DNA. (Credit: NYPD/NYC Dept. of Corrections)

Daily News Owns Up to Late Columnist’s Smear

Great kudos to cops who, 24 years after a rape in Prospect Park, used DNA evidence to find the already-locked-up serial sex predator who committed the crime,” the Daily News in New York editorialized on Thursday. “Their persistence and precision, exemplary in this national #MeToo moment, should give heart to others who thought their pursuit of justice to have dead-ended.

“Great shame on the unnamed police sources who back then, just after the woman known as Jane Doe came forward, smeared her as a fabulist, even when evidence emerged to corroborate her account.

“Those police sources spoke to, and through, late Daily News columnist Mike McAlary. In these news pages in April and May 1994, even as the police found semen on the woman’s jogging shorts, even as the city and the rest of this newspaper established that a crime had occurred, he stuck to the story that the actress and activist had cried wolf. . . .”

The editorial concluded, “We know this to be true, and must say it without any doubt: Jane Doe was raped in Prospect Park on April 26, 1994. Some members of a police department sworn to protect the people of the city considered it their job to discredit her story and destroy her credibility, and one of our columnists amplified those attacks, causing her further pain.

“Pray law enforcement officials and journalists alike learn from the wrenching lesson and never repeat the sin.”

Harvard Crimson Latinos on ‘Micro-Aggressions’

“Many editors from underrepresented backgrounds have a complicated relationship with The Crimson,” Ruben Reyes, a junior at Harvard University and a former editorial chair of the Harvard Crimson’s Editorial Board, wrote Tuesday for the Poynter Institute.

Ruben Reyes

Ruben Reyes

“The organization and its institutional weight empowers us to do important work that polishes our skill sets. Simultaneously, we experience undue stress because of who we are, where we come from, and the way the world views us.

“When you throw class into the mix, the sense of discomfort increases. Journalists of color may be passed up because their parents couldn’t afford a New York Times subscription. Newspapers are not a cultural staple of all households, but editors coming from these homes may be passed up for opportunities when a learning curve is interpreted as a lack of dedication or ability.

“These are the problems that plague The Crimson, and their stakes span further than simply improving experiences of students of color like myself. . . .”

In December, Reyes and Zoe D. Ortiz wrote about how “two Latinx students on substantial financial aid, and other students of color who came before us have struggled in our own newsroom because of racial micro-aggressions, push-back on pitches and an environment that siphons writers of color out of the organization.”

Editorial Chair Juan V. Esteller and Crimson President Derek K. Choi responded with an editors’ note: “The Crimson is not, and has never been, a perfect institution. In the last few years, we have taken a number of steps to become a more welcoming organization for editors of color, but we recognize there is more work to do. We are publishing this piece in the interests of continuing an internal dialogue about how to address important questions of diversity and inclusion.”

Short Takes

Sylvester Monroe (Credit: George Tolbert IV)

Sylvester Monroe (Credit: George Tolbert IV)

  • Sylvester Monroe, who in December left the Washington Post, where he was assistant foreign editor, will become an assistant managing editor at the Los Angeles Times, Ken Doctor reported Thursday for Nieman Lab. Editor in chief Lewis D’Vorkin, asked to comment on Monroe and other personnel changes, told Doctor, “It’s not something I can talk about until the union vote is resolved.” The results of the News Guild’s organizing vote of the Times newsroom are due Jan. 19. Also at the Times, Ivan Penn, prize-winning energy reporter, announced on Facebook that he is joining the New York Times as alternative energy reporter but will remain in Southern California.
  • Noticias Telemundo announced today that Mexican journalist Felicidad Aveleyra will anchor ‘Noticias Telemundo Mediodía,’ a new national newscast debuting on Monday, January 22 at 12:30 P.M. / 11:30 A.M. CT,” the network announced on Thursday. “Felicidad Aveleyra joined Telemundo in December 2015 as co-anchor of ‘Noticias Telemundo Fin de Semana,’ helping to establish it as a leading weekend newscast in Spanish-language TV. Julio Vaqueiro will remain as anchor of the weekend newscast. . . .”

    Felicidad Aveleyra

    Felicidad Aveleyra

  • In Pakistan, “Islamabad Police on Wednesday began investigating an ‘attempt by 10-12 armed men’ to abduct journalist Taha Siddiqui,” Shakeel Qarar reported Wednesday for dawn.com. “Siddiqui was ‘beaten [and] threatened with death’, said journalist Asad Hashim in a tweet. . . . Siddiqui was piled into a car by the armed men but managed to escape by jumping out of the moving vehicle. ‘He only escaped by running through oncoming traffic,’ Hashim said in another tweet. . . .” Qarar also wrote, “Incidents of enforced disappearances have been reported with alarming frequency in Pakistan.” International journalists organizations condemned the attempted abduction and demanded an investigation.
  • Myanmar prosecutors sought charges on Wednesday against two Reuters reporters under the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, the reporters’ lawyer said,” Antoni Slodkowski and Simon Lewis reported for Reuters. “Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were detained on Dec. 12 after they had been invited to meet police officers over dinner. Family members have said the two told them they were arrested almost immediately after being handed some documents by the officers they had gone to meet. The two had worked on Reuters coverage of a crisis in the western state of Rakhine, where — according to U.N. estimates — about 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from a fierce military crackdown on militants. . . .”

 

 

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