All Articles Tagged "journalism"
(Rolling Out) — Despite the fact that minorities’ population percentages continue to improve in America, diversity in the mainstream newsrooms nonetheless continues on its uninterrupted downward spiral. And with the popularity and convenience of the internet, newsrooms and magazine editorial departments have shrunken to unprecedented lows. That means even less opportunities for minorities and, more specifically, African American journalists and aspiring media personalities. Here at the National Association of Black Journalism Conference inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center, we approached a multiplicity of media entities and journalists to gauge their perspective of this most volatile and ever-changing industry and how it has impacted their businesses and careers.
Over the past few days, former MSNBC host and current online host of the “The Young Turks”, Cenk Uygur, has made his rounds on both television and the net discussing how he was summarily dismissed from his prime time slot at MSNBC. According to Uygur, his style of not treating members of Congress with enough deference and being too brash when criticizing The White House landed him in the hot seat.
On Sunday’s episode of “Reliable Sources”, host Howard Kurtz unwittingly added validity to Uygur’s depiction and account of the events withKurtz’ insistence that Uygur answer whether or not anybody at MSNBC asked Uygur to“moderate” his“political positions”.
Uygur has consistently paraphrased the head of MSNBC as saying, “we’d love to be outsiders, outsiders are cool, but we’re the establishment and you have to act like it.” Uygur never said he had a smoking gun since there never is a smoking gun or an explicit quote in situations where this type of pressure is applied. It’s always a wink and a nod, an order disguised as a suggestion or creative criticism.
So it pays to examine why Kurtz would ask a question that had already been answered when he could’ve just as well taken the opportunity to engage in a bit of real investigative journalism. He could’ve delved deeper into several questions that were central to the story; like who MSNBC’s chief was referring to when he said that people in Washington D.C. thought Uygur’s style was too rough? What was their proximity to power? And more specifically, what segments or aspects of Uygur’s reporting did they take issue with and why?
But instead of broadening the story and thoroughly chronicling the bad acts of all the influencers in this drama, including those who happily use media pundits as their proxy , Kurtz made this story solely about Uygur. It’s much easier to cast innuendo on one man than to cast aspersions on an entire system. Kurtz proved that.
Broadly speaking, the bigger issue at play here, though, is whether America still has an independent media. Narrowly speaking, the question is whether MSNBC will replace Uygur with a strong voice who is willing to take the Obama administration to task in much the same way that Uygur did. If MSNBC is being straightforward when it strongly asserts that it didn’t remove Uygur from the six o’clock slot for substance, but instead for style, then we should expect to see a Uygur-esque replacement in the coming days right? Far from it.
Slated to take Uygur’s spot in the six o’clock slot is media personality Al Sharpton, a man who in a recent 60 Minutes interview admitted to being an appendage of the White House and has vowed, owing tonothing more than race pride, not to criticize President Obama. Unlike Uygur who struggled against his constraints at MSNBC, Sharpton will happily operate within them as long as his paycheck affords him the opportunity to hobnob with Wall Street tycoons at the swanky,exclusive, and members only, Havana Room.
You see, although Al Sharpton refers to himself as an activist, few activists have as much unfettered access to money and power as Sharpton does. And even fewer activists use their network to squash political dissent rather than to amplify it.
In addition to thwarting any acts of real activism and netting himself access to New York’s most exclusive watering holes, Sharpton is now filling a slot that could’ve and should’ve been filled by – dare I say it –a black journalist.
And as evidenced by the 60 Minutes interview with the “Rev”, this is all much ado about rebranding himself and realigning his image with that of the Obama brand.
Believe it or not, this story is bigger than maligning President Obama (another criticism of Uygur) or defending President Obama (the new vocation of Sharpton). This is about whether or not anyone has the right to criticize this President, or any President, beyond a predetermined boundary. Or whether anyone would desire to.
If Cenk Uygur was admonished for his tone as well as substance, by extension, this means that those who currently warm the seats at MSNBC, from Dylan Ratigan at four o’clock to Rachel Maddow at nine, are currently operating within the same acceptable range of discourse set by their corporate bosses (Maddow less so because her ratings are higher and her quirky style is charmingly disarming.) And now MSNBC is doubling down on its bet by adding a man who has already vowed to advocate on behalf of the Obama administration? A toxic brew if ever there was one.
Just in case you haven’t guessed yet, let me tell you how this whole thing plays out: Gatekeepers like Al Sharpton, soon to hold MSNBC’s coveted prime time spot, will be rewarded handsomely for their acquiescence
Along the way, folks like Sharpton will recruit new non-thinkers – think Warren Ballentine – to take over slots like the one at MSNBC when he’s gone. It’s a win-win for Sharpton and his protégés. And it benefits the power structure that liberals and African Americans have been battling against since before Jim Crow.
It’s a perfect plan for the powers that be as long as we’re all too aloof to see the staggering differences between advocates like Cenk Uygur and pawns like Al Sharpton. The man who made his mark by marching down the streets of New York in loud colored jump suits has transitioned stylistically. His jump suits have been replaced with tailored suits. But substantively, he’s still the same; he still goes where the cameras are. The problem with this approach is that most African-Americans are battling unemployment, poor health care, and reduced income in the shadows. President Obama even refuses to address our issues independent of the rest of the country, so we’re relegated to the margins. Who will help us here?
Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill Staffer turned political blogger. She currently publishes two blogs, Spatterblog.com and BreakingBrown.com.
(AP) – The hotel maid at the center of the now-teetering sex assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn filed a libel lawsuit Tuesday against the New York Post after the tabloid reported she was a prostitute. The woman’s lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, filed the claim in Bronx state Supreme Court after the Post, relying on anonymous sources, referred to the 32-year-old as a “prostitute” and a “hooker.” The paper also reported that she “traded sex for money” and turned tricks at a Brooklyn hotel while she was being housed by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. All of those statements are false, according to the lawsuit, and have subjected the woman to humiliation and ridicule.
(Wall Street Journal) — A rift has opened between South Africa’s ruling political party and the nation’s newspapers, stoking a debate over the durability of democratic freedoms in the continent’s largest economy. South African journalists are alarmed by recent government proposals they say reflect a growing bid to crack down on the press, including a bill that could jail journalists for disclosing what officials deem state secrets. Media members, as well as civil-rights, business and labor groups, have voiced concerns, with some citing a broader increase in hostility among some ruling-party members and police against those who portray officials in an unflattering light. The government says it is trying to curb sensationalistic coverage that in its eyes conveys an impression of a state under siege. “When the government has an outbreak of acne, the media call it leprosy,” South Africa’s government spokesman Jimmy Manyi said in an interview. “They blow everything out of proportion.” Tensions over the media are part of a searching national debate over the political course of a key African democracy, which held its first multiracial elections in 1994 and enshrines media freedom in its Nelson Mandela-era constitution.
(Washington City Paper) — When Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, filed a defamation lawsuit against the Washington City Paper in February, readers rushed to show their support — and the newspaper gave them an outlet. The City Paper set up a fund for reader donations meant to offset the litigation fees, collecting 600 donations totaling $28,000 in the first three weeks. But since the initial influx, the fund has received only 190 donations totaling just over $3,000. With donations slowing to a trickle even as the lawsuit drags on, the paper is left with a fund that matters more for what it has come to represent: tangible evidence of reader loyalty at a time when many newspapers are fighting steep readership declines.
(New York Times) — Before the subjects of headlining news stories agree to a television interview these days, some have one question: how much money can I make? ABC and NBC, embroiled in a fight for viewers in the mornings, are increasingly in the news for their willingness to pay thousands of dollars to gain exclusive access to news subjects. The practice was especially visible last week when ABC News ran an exclusive interview with Meagan Broussard, one of the women who was sent lewd photos by Anthony Weiner, after the network paid her about $15,000 for photos. ABC said its extensive reporting, including the interview, led to Mr. Weiner’s admissions about his online behavior. Also last week, ABC announced that Diane Sawyer had secured the first-ever interview with Jaycee Lee Dugard, the young woman held captive for 18 years in California. ABC declared that it had not paid any fee for the interview, but last year, according to a longtime ABC News executive aware of the deal, the network paid a six-figure sum for rights to home movies of Ms. Dugard.
(New York Times) — An explosion of online news sources in recent years has not produced a corresponding increase in reporting, particularly quality local reporting, a federal study of the media has found. Coverage of state governments and municipalities has receded at such an alarming pace that it has left government with more power than ever to set the agenda and have assertions unchallenged, concluded the study, which is to be released on Thursday. “In many communities, we now face a shortage of local, professional, accountability reporting,” said the study, which was ordered by the Federal Communications Commission and written by Steven Waldman, a former journalist for Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report.
Content is a lucrative business and not just for the big shots like CNN, eHow or TMZ. In the infinite landscape of online information, there is an abundance of content to choose from, even when you’re considering African American news.
The major players in the Black news genre include The Root, The Grio, and AOL Black Voices, but what these three have in common is not simply their focus on the Black perspective but the fact that they are all backed by robust networks. The Root has the Washington Post behind it; the Grio has the power of MSNBC behind it; and Black Voices has media giant AOL pushing its content.
“Mainstream media primarily powers their black stepchild publications by being a major traffic referral source,” said Darrell L. Williams, founder and publisher of TheLoop21.com. “That serves to inflate their traffic numbers. But how does that serve the black audiences that these publications are targeting?”
TheLoop21.com is one of the few independent African-American news entities in the game. The site is funded by Williams, an economist by trade, and is operated by a staff of editors and freelance writers who contribute to sections including business, politics and media.
Williams contends that its independence actually shapes its responsibility to its core audience. “Being independent is actually an advantage because [we] can address issues that matter to black audiences in ways that are authentic and candid, a luxury that is unavailable to publications that are dependent on mainstream media,” he said.
The battle between quality and quantity is one that will never die in the news business. As many lament the death of quality journalism at the hands of a race to garner more clicks, it is unquestionable which side is dominating online. And that’s the business side. Many in the media game know that it’s not about content being king, it’s more so about the tricks and trade of marketing your stories to the largest audience possible especially when dealing with non-celebrity oriented news. Page views and unique visitors, among other things, are the metrics that determine the profitability of a company.
So is it possible in this day and age to launch a news site when the market is as competitive as ever? Although anyone can start a blog, not everyone can start a site.
The FreshXpress, the site that filters the Black news of the day through the humourous, enlightening and savvy commentary of its bloggers, has managed to do so with very little overhead and investment. Co-founders Sean Walton Jr and Arlen E. Herrell got the idea for The FreshXpress the day after Barack Obama was inaugurated as President. Neither had journalism experience nor journalistic ambitions. What they did have was a passion to communicate the spirit of Black America as evoked by the new Commander-in-Chief.
“We want to be the go-to website for a commissary of issues that are at the heart of black America,” said Walton. “We want to be a website for people who want to understand what’s going on in the the minds of young black Americans.”
(The New Civil Rights Movement) — This past week The New York Times’ announcement of the promotion of Jill Abramson as its first woman executive editor in the 160-year history of the “paper of record” was celebrated not only by women at the Times, but was given noteworthy mentions, as well as substantial editorial space from around the journalistic world by The Los Angeles Times, New York Magazineand the eminent Poynter Institute, which asked in a leading post what Abramson’s appointment could mean to women in the newspaper business at large.
(Columbia Journalism Review) — It started as a trickle. Sylvester Monroe resigned in 2006 as Sunday national editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and, two months later, joined the staff of Ebonymagazine. In 2008 the renowned byline of Jack E. White, the first black columnist at Time magazine, began to regularly appear on The Root, where Lynette Clemetson, formerly ofThe New York Times and Newsweek, was managing editor. By March of this year when Constance C. R. White, once an influential New York Times fashion writer, was named editor in chief of Essence, the trickle had swelled into a river of prominent African-American journalists streaming to black-oriented media. The names of veterans like Lynette Holloway and E. R. Shipp, formerly of The New York Times; Teresa Wiltz, Natalie Hopkinson, and Michael Cottman, all of The Washington Post; Joel Dreyfuss, formerly of Fortune and PC Magazine, and Amy DuBois Barnett ofHarper’s Bazaar and Teen People, are turning up in places like Ebony, Jet, and Essence; at BlackAmericaWeb.com, a division of Reach Media, Inc.; and at The Root, the online site spearheaded by Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr. and published by The Washington Post Company. Some of these moves were prompted by layoffs and buyouts; others by disillusionment with mainstream journalism or a desire to delve more deeply into African-American issues. Whatever the reasons, with increasing frequency, African-American journalists are reversing the once common trajectory from the black press to the mainstream. New ventures like HuffPost Global Black, a vertical for Arianna Huffington’s widely read website that will be launched in partnership with Sheila Johnson, cofounder of Black Entertainment Television, are likely to quicken the pace.