Editor’s note: The percentages below comparing increases or decreases from 2015 to 2016 actually compare only December 2015 with December 2016. The correct full-year-to-full-year percentage changes will appear in the next column.
Celebrity News, Award-Show Ties Pay Off
BET.com registered a 90 percent increase in average monthly unique visitors in 2016, according to the comScore, Inc., research company, making it the most visited website oriented toward African Americans. Its total was nearly twice that of its nearest competitor, Huffington Post Black Voices.
As in past years, ComScore provided unique-visitor totals Wednesday for a list of websites supplied by Journal-isms. BET.com is perennially at or near the top of the list, but the increase in 2016 was dramatic.
BET spokesmen previously attributed bet.com’s success to its tie-ins with the cable network. Such crowd pleasers as the BET award shows “offer original content and celebrity-filled moments that engage our audience on our various digital platforms which helps increase traffic to the website,” spokesman Luis Defrank said in response to 2012 figures.
That was true again this year.
In June, BET’s second highest month of the year for unique visitors, the “BET Awards” featured a stirring speech on violence against African Americans by “Grey’s Anatomy” actor Jesse Williams as he accepted the Humanitarian Award. It was described by Shaun King, columnist for the Daily News in New York, as “the most woke awards speech in the history of awards speeches.”
Meanwhile, the site continued its winning formula of attention to celebrity news. Wednesday’s home page featured “The New Edition Story Part 1,” “Meet Nick Grant: The South’s New Lyrical Genius,” “We Spoke to Chrisette Michele,” “Exclusive Peek at the New Edition Story,” “Cashier Moving Fast AF Is All of Us at 4:59 p.m. on Friday,” “[Keke] Palmer Talks Legal Action Against Trey Songz“ and “San Francisco Chronicle Gets Slammed for ‘Racist’ Oscars Story.”
In April, BET announced a redesign of its website. “Things will look different: a little cleaner, a little slicker, a little... hotter,” it said then. “It’s been a long time coming. We redesigned BET.com to look dope on whatever device you happen to be using. Not only that, it’ll be much easier to find and share the content you like.
“We didn’t stop there, though. We also redesigned our BET Now app, making it easier for you to watch your favorite shows whenever [wherever].”
BET.com’s 13,480,000 unique visitors total for 2016 was followed by 6,330,000 for Huffington Post Black Voices, 4,875,000 for The Root, 4,445,000 for Essence and 4,266,000 for Bossip.
Notable were drops for such tabloid-style sites as mediatakeout.com, which ranked No. 12; worldstarhiphop.com, which features “oh-no-they-didn’t” videos, ranking No. 6; and bossip.com, No. 5. Last year’s top choice, madamnoire.com, fell to No. 7. The Root’s figure dropped by 68 percent.
Danielle Belton, managing editor of The Root, said by email, “Last year was a year of transition for us, and now that we’ve moved to a new publishing platform with Kinja we are optimistic about our opportunities and are focused on The Root’s continued growth.”
Reality star Kim Kardashian West filed suit in October against mediatakeout.com and its founder, Fred Mwangaguhunga, alleging that she was libeled. Mwangaguhunga then acknowledged that the site’s reporting had gone too far.
Atlanta Black Star, a news site, ranked No. 9, and the Undefeated, ESPN’s rendering of the intersection of sports, race and culture, ranked No. 13, though it registered visitors starting only in May, when it launched.
“I am thrilled by the critical acclaim we’ve received since launching The Undefeated just eight months ago,” Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida told Journal-isms by email. “We will continue to work on building our audience this year.”
Neil Nelson, a co-founder of Atlanta Black Star, said in an email, “Our growth rate is linked to a shift in business strategy plus better social media positioning.
“Last January, we bought back equity from several business partners which reduced the number of owners/managers to three people. As a result, we were able to focus on a narrower vision of providing the best social and political analysis in the Black news space.
“Additionally, we launched a new social media video strategy to win mind share in the AA community. As you can see from our Facebook page, our likes have gone from 130K last year to almost 600K. Several of our videos have gone viral with multiple millions of views, shares and comments.
“Atlanta Black Star is where college educated members of AA community go to find out what’s happening in the United States, Africa and the Caribbean on a daily basis. No other AA owned new platform provide consistent news and information about Africa, the Caribbean and Afro-Latinos.”
This year’s list (not comprehensive):
1. bet.com, 13,480,000 average monthly unique visitors, up 90 percent from 2015.
2. Huffington Post Black Voices, 6,330,000, up 25 percent.
3. The Root, 4,875,000, down 68 percent.
4. essence.com, 4,445,000, up 27 percent.
5. bossip.com, 4,226,000, down 46 percent.
6. worldstarhiphop.com, 4,058,000, down 10 percent.
7. madamenoire.com, 3,937,000, down 66 percent
8. hellobeautiful.com, 3,005,000, down 37 percent.
9. atlantablackstar.com, 2,759,000, up 259 percent.
10.thegrio.com, 2,190,000, down 23 percent.
11. newsone.com, 1,418,000, down 31 percent.
12. mediatakeout.com, 1,299,000, down 54 percent.
13. theundefeated.com, 1,298,000 (launched in May)
14. blackamericaweb.com, 927,000, up 57 percent.
15. ebony.com, 701,000, up 42 percent.
16. clutchmagonline.com, 443,000, down 40 percent (April figures unavailable)
17. blackenterprise.com, 410,000, up 270 percent.
18. theybf.com, 360,000, up 423 percent.
19. eurweb.com, 357,999, down 34 percent.
20. blackplanet.com, 250,000, down 13 percent.
Jon Caramanica, New York Times: Lee O’Denat, Whose Hip-Hop Website Caught Many Eyes, Dies at 43
Ron Wade, ‘Beloved,’ ‘Smart’ Editor, Dies at 62
Ronald W. Wade, a veteran and well-liked journalist who was news editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, died Wednesday at St. Louis University Hospital, his daughter, Tasha, told Journal-isms.
He was 62 and had been diagnosed only two days earlier with pancreatic cancer, Tasha Wade said.
“Very rough here,” Post-Dispatch Editor Gilbert Bailon told Journal-isms by email. “Ron was beloved by all. One of the smartest and most modest journalists I have ever worked with.”
As news editor, Wade oversaw “all newsgathering and print production at night,” Bailon added. “He also oversaw the website and story comments at night.”
Bailon also said, “Ron was out a few days but returned to work the Thursday before the inauguration. Our staff had to take him home that Thursday night and he never came back to work.”
Marlon A. Walker, education reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and myajc.com, worked with Wade at the Post-Dispatch.
“Ronald Wade wasn’t even supposed to interview me,” Walker, also vice president-print for the National Association of Black Journalists, wrote on Facebook.
“But he became No. 13 on a LOOOOONG list of names as I interviewed at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2010, pulling me aside to a small room where we barely fit. People of color were sparse, he said, but editors offered a listening ear for concerns.
“When I left in 2013, he remained a sounding board, offering advice as my career path evolved to include the role of ‘advocate,’ promising he’d be there to answer whenever I doubted myself, or my decisions.
“I’m going to miss that laugh. I’m going to miss those messenger chats. I’m going to miss the encouragement, the arguments AND those restaurant suggestions!
“I almost canceled my trip to St. Louis last month,” when the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists held its 40th anniversary celebration. “And we know I rarely plan anything. I remember calling Lisa Eisenhauer on my way to her house for lunch. I couldn’t find Ron Wade’s number. Was he awake this early in the day? She’d already invited him.
“He chuckled as I leaned down and wrapped him in a bear hug before we all separated.”
“Rest well, Ron. You’ve earned it.”
Wade joined the Post-Dispatch in 2006 as Metro coordinator. “Ron, senior news editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this important role,” editors said in a memo then. “As he does now in Philadelphia, Ron will help oversee the nightly production of the daily metro sections, which are at the core of our new zoning strategy launched less than six months ago.
“Ron has worked at the Inquirer since 1995, including stints as deputy news editor and deputy sports editor.
“Before moving to Philadelphia, Ron spent 11 years as assistant managing editor/news at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He also has worked on the copy or news desks of the Washington Post, Buffalo Courier-Express, Newsday, Louisville Times and Chicago Tribune.
“As if that wasn’t well-rounded enough, Ron has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, with a specialty in East Asian studies, and a longtime affinity for his hometown football franchise — Da Bears. [As well as the Chicago Cubs, who tweeted condolences on Wednesday.]
“At the Inquirer, Ron’s references described him as a model for creative collaboration and leadership as well as a stalwart of journalistic integrity and quality control. We look forward to Ron helping us to continue to make improvements to our zoning strategy, news coverage and design.”
Tasha said plans for services, which will be in Chicago, are incomplete. Bailon said the Post-Dispatch would publish an obituary when those plans are complete. Wade leaves his wife, Molly, and six other children — Lisa, Sharon, Shawn, Aaron, Jaden and Deiontae.
Campaign Reporters Urge Attention to Role of Race
The news media are rushing to report on the attitudes of the white working class after the November election, but two black journalists who covered the Donald Trump presidential campaign said Tuesday that race is important to understanding Trump’s win.
“When you talk about Trump, you can’t not talk about race,” Yamiche Alcindor, a reporter who specializes in race at the New York Times, said at the Journalists Roundtable in Washington. Candace Smith, a reporter for ABC News, said, “I remember this young girl being called a nigger lover and being pepper-sprayed in the face.” She said she thought television undercovered the role of race in the campaign.
In November, Smith wrote on the ABC News website about her experiences on the Trump campaign trail. “Conversations with over 100 Trump supporters, all white, revealed a darker truth: that they may like me as a person, but were concerned more holistically [with] what black and brown people were doing to this country and worried about a changing nation that no longer looked like them,” she wrote.
Smith told the roundtable group, “We talked about the disenfranchisement that poor white voters were feeling, the disaffection of coal miners.” Yet, the two journalists said, black and brown voters who were also hurting economically voted neither for Trump nor, in the Democratic primary, for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Alcindor urged that working class people of color be covered along with white working class people.
Alcindor said it remained to be reported how much the association of the Affordable Care Act with President Obama is responsible for opposition to the law, despite the popularity of some of its provisions. “I’m Haitian. I’m never surprised how racist people can be,” Alcindor added. “I don’t have to ask them to tell me how racist they are. They’ll tell me to my face. . . .”
Smith recalled, “A guy asked me to take a picture of him with a Confederate flag.”
Alcindor said that Dean Baquet, Times executive editor, “says the answer to more questions is always more journalism.” Journalists’ task is “asking hard questions. It’s pushing back against the simple answers,” she said.
Janice Temple, Journalists Roundtable (Periscope video)
Trump Given Twice as Much Airtime as Clinton
“To contradict the hype: Campaign 2016 was not a blockbuster,” Andrew Tyndall reported Wednesday for his Tyndall Report. “The Presidential race received the standard amount of coverage for a non-incumbent contest: slightly less than in 2008, slightly more than in 2000 and in 1988. Nothing unusual.
“What was unusual was the coverage of Donald Trump — with more than twice as much airtime as Hillary Clinton — both unprecedented free publicity and unprecedented scrutiny. With ABC’s Tom Llamas in the lead, this election was presented as a contest of personalities rather than of public policy issues.
“This was truly a lame-duck year for the Obama Administration, with the least coverage of US foreign policy in the 29-year history of this database, the least on the economy, and the third-least on federal domestic policy. The DC bureaus at ABC and NBC have never received less airtime.
“The major global datelines of the year were in the Middle East: Aleppo was reconquered by Syrian government forces; and Iraqi government forces massed to try to reconquer Mosul. CBS treated both as major stories, unlike ABC, which barely mentioned either. Domestically, the ghastly massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was the most newsworthy crime.
“NBC, as is its habit, shilled for its sports division during the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Brazil, mosquitoes spread a virus that caused birth defects and CBS in-house physician Jon LaPook led coverage. . . .”
Tyndall’s list of the top 20 most-used reporters on ABC, CBS and NBC, not counting anchors, included Llamas, covering the campaign for ABC News, topping the list at 482 minutes, and these other journalists of color: Miguel Almaguer of NBC, 330 minutes; Cecilia Vega, ABC, 320 minutes; Gabe Gutierrez, NBC, 249 minutes; Gio Benitez, ABC, 150 minutes; and Jeff Pegues, CBS, 148 minutes.
Univision Creates Free Online Tool for Immigrants
“Univision News, the award-winning news division of Univision Communications Inc. (UCI), the leading media company serving Hispanic America, today is launching an interactive digital tool designed to help U.S. immigrants find local nonprofit organizations that offer immigration-related advice and/or legal services free of charge or at a low cost,” the company announced on Thursday.
President Trump signed executive orders Wednesday that “begin the crackdown on illegal immigration that Trump promised his supporters,” Brian Bennett reported Thursday for the Los Angeles Times. “In addition to the wall, he would greatly expand deportations and detention of migrants and block federal money for so-called sanctuary cities. . . .”
The Univision announcement continued, “By inputting a zip code or any U.S. address in the search tool, users will be provided with a list of nonprofit groups in their area that are prepared to assist them in matters related to immigration – from explaining their rights and options to offering legal counsel or representation.
“The Legal Assistance Search Tool for Immigrants is available in the immigration section of UnivisionNoticias.com beginning today. It will also be accessible via links in all articles published on the topic of immigration in Univision News platforms. As the result of an alliance between Univision News and immi, the search tool uses data provided by immi.org, a new platform available in English and Spanish that helps immigrants understand their immigration options, learn about their rights, and connect with trusted nonprofit organizations. Immi was created by the Immigration Advocates Network and Pro Bono Net. . . .”
Chris Ariens, TVNewser: With Women’s Marches, MSNBC Has Most-Watched Saturday Since Iraq War
Radley Balko, Washington Post: Trump, cops and crime
Jonah Engel Bromwich, New York Times: Felony Charges for Journalists Arrested at Inauguration Protests Raise Fears for Press Freedom
Rob Capriccioso, Indian Country Today Media Network: Republican Native Americans Jockey for Trump Administration Posts
Committee to Protect Journalists: Journalists charged with rioting in Washington
Ana Marie Cox, New York Times Magazine: Joy Reid Has Never Heard a Good Argument for Trump
Joe Davidson, Washington Post: Gingrich joins Trump’s war on media ‘mortal enemies’
Ken Doctor, Nieman Lab: Newsonomics: Trump may be the news industry’s greatest opportunity to build a sustainable model
Editorial, Los Angeles Times: Border security is important, but Trump’s wall plan is as hare-brained as they come
Daniel González, the Republic | azcentral.com: President Donald Trump’s plan to ramp up deportations brings both worry, relief to Arizonans
Matt Gertz, Media Matters for America: Corporation For Public Broadcasting: Reported Trump Privatization Plan Would Be “Devastating” To Public Media
Jennifer Gonnerman, New Yorker: Last day at the Civil Rights Division
Richard Gonzales, NPR: NPR And The Word ‘Liar’: Intent Is Key
Roy Greenslade, the Guardian: Is the rise of Donald Trump really President Obama’s fault?
Kristen Hare, Poynter Institute: Journalists around the country are joining a Slack channel devoted to FOIA and Trump
Adonis Hoffman, the Hill: Tillerson running State Dept. like Exxon Mobil is good for America
Ronnell Andersen Jones and Sonja R. West, New York Times: Don’t Expect the First Amendment to Protect the Media
Randall L. Kennedy, Boston Globe: A grudging admiration for Trump’s speech
Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times: The death of facts has been greatly exaggerated
Benjamin Mullin, Poynter Institute: Time editor on MLK bust: We regret the error
Barrett Holmes Pitner, Daily Beast: In Trump’s America, Jeff Sessions Is a ‘Civil Rights Champion’ and Truth Is Dying
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: New sheriff has a badge, but doesn’t have a clue
James Poniewozik, New York Times: For Trump, Everything Is a Rating
Reporters Without Borders: For Trump, media is public enemy number one
Mallory Shelbourne, the Hill: Trump order calls for weekly list of crimes done by undocumented workers
Joe Strupp, Media Matters for America: Voter Fraud Experts: Trump’s “Bizarre” Claim Of Illegal Votes Could Lead To Severe Voter Restrictions
A.C. Thompson, ProPublica: Teens Report Onslaught of Bullying During Divisive Election
Betsy Woodruff, Daily Beast: Private Prisons Cheer Trump’s Crackdown
Ozy Raises More Millions; Will Grow Its Staff
“Silicon Valley startup Ozy Media — a next-generation news startup hoping to follow in the footsteps of BuzzFeed and Vice Media — has banked a $10 million in third-round funding,” Todd Spangler reported Tuesday for Variety.
“The investment, led by venture-capital firm GSV Capital, brings Ozy to $35 million raised to date. (Ozy declined to disclose its current valuation.) Previous investors include German media conglomerate Axel Springer, Emerson Collective, and several Silicon Valley angel investors including Laurene Powell Jobs, Ron Conway, David Drummond, Larry Sonsini and Dan Rosensweig.
“Ozy said it will use the funding to continue to hire editorial staff that ‘discover and report on important, cutting-edge stories being told nowhere else,’ and to grow its video team and production capabilities. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company claims to reach over 25 million monthly unique users online (across multiple distribution platforms) and 2 million newsletter subscribers.
“According to comScore, Ozy’s website drew 6.4 million unique visitors in the U.S. in December 2016 — down 41% from the year prior — although total audience grew to about 20 million for Ozy Media (across Ozy.com and affiliated sites) by the end of last year.
“The startup was founded in 2013 by Carlos Watson, a former TV host and journalist who appeared on MSNBC, CNN and other networks, and Samir Rao, who previously worked as an associate at Goldman Sachs. Ozy currently has about 50 employees. . . .”
K.C. Reporter ‘Constantly’ Sent to Urban Core
“An African-American Kansas City television reporter alleges in a lawsuit that she has been discriminated against because of her race,” Tony Rizzo reported Tuesday for the Kansas City Star.
“Lisa Benson Cooper, who goes by Lisa Benson, filed suit against KSHB, Channel 41, last month in Jackson County Circuit Court.
“On Monday, attorneys for the station moved the case to federal court in Kansas City.
“In her suit, Benson alleges that her race is ‘constantly used’ in deciding where, or what topics, she would be reporting. The suit alleges that she was ‘consistently’ being sent to the urban core for all her stories.
“Once, she said she was sent alone to the home of a KKK member. . . .”
“This is not niche work, this is not diversity work, this is getting down and pulling the oars of journalism itself. This ship will crash if we are not involved, and Richard Prince does yeoman’s work in keeping us informed.”
— Peter Alan Harper, retired Associated Press national business writer; co-founder, co-director of high school journalism workshops in New York, Kansas City and Memphis