• Broadcasters Release Guide to Covering Race
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution Begins Race Series
  • Ky. Paper Knocked for Story on Passenger’s Past
  • Why We’re Seeing More of the Word ‘Queer’
  • Native Journalists Say ‘American Indian’ Is OK
  • White House Reporters Pick Comedian Minhaj
  • Murdochs Await Findings of O’Reilly Inquiry
  • Investigation by Students From 18 Schools Awarded
  • Syria’s Citizen Journalists Find Neutrality Difficult
  • Journalists in Nigeria, Namibia Celebrate Pulitzers
  • Short Takes
The National Association of Broadcasters and the NAB Education Foundation unveiled their guide to covering race Wednesday at the Newseum. (Rochelle Metzger/Twitter)

Broadcasters Release Guide to Covering Race

Janice Lin, assistant news director at KRON-TV in San Francisco, advises staff members to visit parts of their viewership area that take them out of their comfort zones. In a new city, she always goes to a mall. “I like to see how I’m treated,” Lin said on a panel Wednesday at the Newseum in Washington.

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Sometimes “people talk loud at me,” assuming that as an Asian American, she is a foreigner. It lets Lin know the kind of community she’s in, she said.

David Brown, retired Dallas police chief, told the audience, assembled by the National Association of Broadcasters and the NAB Education Foundation, that more police departments are using social media to release their news without filtering by reporters.

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He and the Rev. Kenny Irby, a former journalist who is now community intervention director for the St. Petersburg, Fla., Police Department, urged more self-awareness by reporters. “If you’re too arrogant, you will move yourself away from relevancy,” Irby said.

They were part of the unveiling of a “Reporting on Race Toolkit” and a new Awareness In Reporting website that offers ideas and resources for better journalism.

“Diversity and inclusion is not always neatly packaged and achieving it — whether in terms of coverage or staffing — can be complex,” according to the introduction to the website. “Add to that the increased competition from a proliferation of media across multiple platforms and broadcasters face unprecedented challenges in covering the nation’s growing diversity and seemingly increasing racial tensions.

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“By developing greater skill in talking about race, journalists can become more comfortable aggressively covering contentious and sometimes divisive issues. The practices in this toolkit are intended to provide practical, usable options that are easily accessible and implementable. The intention is to help stations improve the breadth, depth and accuracy of coverage of communities of color and issues related to them. . . .”

The introduction also reminds readers, “Most Americans get their local news from television and radio broadcasts and local broadcasters can play a significant role in helping communities talk across racial differences. . . .”

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The initiative was developed with other journalism organizations, such as the Radio Television Digital News Association, Native Public Media and the National Association of Black Journalists. “Ironically, the release of the guide comes as the nation prepares to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission Report in February 2018,” NABJ said in a statement. “That in-depth report criticized mainstream media for its failure to understand the issues and concerns of African Americans, following a series of urban riots in the 1960s. . . .”

Journal-isms is collecting suggestions for how the news industry should commemorate the Kerner anniversary. Feel free to make them in the comments section.

The toolkit includes sections for “reporters, producers and writers”; “news management/leadership” and “photojournalists”; as well as “corporate recommendations.”

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Its breadth goes beyond most newsroom style guides or journalistic codes of ethics. The section for photojournalists, for example, advises, “Be aware of the . . . signal that your bright light sends. Waiting until the live shot to turn on a light will draw protesters and tell them exactly when to jump in front of the camera or do something that might be inappropriate. A dry-run live shot can help flush out anyone with such intentions.”

For corporate leaders, it urges, “To the extent possible, ensure that employees who make editorial decisions are reflective of the community. This is not necessarily a question of numbers, but of who has a voice and is heard by leadership.”

The two panel discussions, which were streamed and remain available on the new website, amplified some of the toolkit recommendations. Most stressed the twin issues of “trust and transparency,” that is, gaining the community’s trust and loyalty.

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Moderator Bruce Johnson of WUSA-TV, a veteran Washington reporter and anchor, expressed his frustration with some reporters. He said the first thing that many residents of low-income black neighborhoods tell journalists when a family member or neighbor is harmed is that the victim was not the stereotypical bad apple.

“We’re part of the problem,” Johnson said, making assumptions that criminal behavior is normal in “the ghetto.” And while covering communities of color is not the exclusive responsibility of journalists of color, viewers like to see people like themselves, and “there is nothing wrong with knowing that you are there to represent,” Johnson said.

Brown, who joined ABC News as a contributor on Jan. 1, said he had come to realize that information gathered by police in fact belongs to the citizens, and was thus encouraged to make more material public.

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He urged media outlets to offer training to law enforcement personnel on the type of information needed for stories. “We just don’t know, and because of it, we’re keeping things close to the vest,” Brown said.

“The least that’s going to happen is you’re going to get a closer relationship.”

While race was the focus of this “Awareness” project, religion will be the topic of the next one, said Marcellus Alexander, NAB executive vice president for television and president of the NAB Education Foundation.

Asian Square on Buford Highway in Doraville, DeKalb County, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Begins Race Series

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution announced a new “RE: Race” project on Tuesday with a video featuring some of the 12 journalists who participated and an inaugural story headlined, “70 percent of DeKalb residents are minorities.”

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“DeKalb’s white population has declined every year as a percentage of the total since 1990 and is expected to continue this annual decline through 2050, according to the data projections,” the story said. “Likewise the black population. It peaked at 55 percent of the total in 2007 and is expected to decline gradually through 2050 as Hispanics and Asians both increase.

“The AJC compiled this information as part of its new RE: Race coverage. Coming on Thursday, you’ll be able to interact with a graphic that tracks actual or projected racial breakdowns of DeKalb and every other Georgia county from 1990 through 2050. . . .”

Ky. Paper Knocked for Story on Passenger’s Past

Dr. David Dao was dragged off a United flight Sunday. (screenshot)

It didn’t take long for the latest incident on United Airlines to become a white-hot center of debate among journalists,” Indira Lakshmanan, Al Tompkins and Kelly McBride reported Tuesday for the Poynter Institute.

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“The Louisville Courier-Journal on Tuesday began taking flak for revealing what it called the ‘troubled past’ of David Dao, the doctor who was dragged off a United flight Sunday after refusing to deplane to make room for company employees.

“Among other things, the Courier-Journal’s story revealed that Dao was convicted of a series of drug-related offenses that stemmed from an agreement to provide a patient with drugs in exchange for sexual favors.

“Shortly after the Courier-Journal went with the story, journalists began criticizing the decision to publish it . . .”

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David Uberti added Tuesday for Columbia Journalism Review, “The piece delving into victims’ backstories is a familiar one, and the Courier-Journal’s conjured memories of some of the genre’s famously cringeworthy examples. The most controversial case came on the front page of The New York Times, where a sensationalist story marred by racial undertones described Michael Brown, an 18 year old killed by police, as ‘no angel.’

“More recently, New York tabloids zeroed in on the criminal history of a homeless New York man murdered in an apparently racist attack. Such victim-blaming or -shaming pops up in sexual assault reporting as well.

“The by-now boilerplate criticism of the genre goes like this: Just because a person falls victim to violence or trauma that piques public interest, journalists do not have license to unearth unrelated bad things that person did previously. The stories surely get attention — hate-reads are clicks, too — but it’s hard to see what journalistic value is added for audiences in the vast majority of cases. In a time of hand-wringing over trust of media, assignment editors would be wise to think twice. . . .”

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Brian Dickerson, Detroit Free Press: United passenger gets second helping of humiliation

Farai Chideya tells Unity’s Diversity Caucus how she self-identifies. (Unity: Journalists for Diversity)

Why We’re Seeing More of the Word ‘Queer’

When it was Farai Chideya’s turn to speak last Friday at the 4th Annual Unity Diversity Caucus in Washington, the self-described author, professor, storyteller, data- and analogue- multimedia journalist announced that she also uses “queer” as a self-description.

The declaration by Chideya, a spring fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, follows a quiet change by the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, which is now calling itself “NLGJA – The Association of LGBTQ Journalists.”

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Efforts to obtain an official explanation from NLGJA for the addition of the “Q” word, which some might consider redundant, have been unsuccessful. However, some conference attendees were willing to elaborate.

“Well, my self-definition definitely falls under B — bisexual — but I use ‘queer’ because I am attracted to women, go on dates with women, but have never had a relationship with a woman and find myself more compelled to date men,” Chideya explained later by email. “However, many of the men I date are also bisexual or queer. I have many philosophical and practical problems with heterosexual constructs of masculinity.

“I think Queer is a good one for people who often seek bonds with others who don’t identify as heterosexual even in the construct of a cis-gendered heterosexual relationship. But I have always thought of myself as a B/Q... there are other definitions. It’s an interesting topic. I know many women who end up in heterosexual marriages but are fundamentally bisexual label themselves as Q, to honor their larger concept of self but also to say ‘fundamentally I am not an active bisexual.’

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“I think the questions of desire and behavior are very complicated. Obviously.

“I find it a useful word but I understand why it adds to alphabet soup.”

Sharif Durhams

Sharif Durhams, a homepage editor at the Washington Post who is treasurer of NLGJA and a Unity board member, also offered an explanation.

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“When some people identify as queer, they’re not trying to tell you anything about who they date or their gender identity,” messaged Durhams, who is joining CNN in Atlanta as senior editor on CNN Digital’s News & Alerting team.

“They’re telling you they don’t fit neatly into the gender norms of the majority culture — for instance, a straight person whose parents are gay or lesbian.

“We also have a lot of evidence — there are stories every day — that show gender and sexual orientation aren’t as simple as the labels we use.

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“In any case, we’re relying on self identification in many cases when we’re talking about LGBTQ people. We’re not counting up the number of men and women they’ve dated. So we generally respect how people self identify.”

Joe Grimm, a former recruiter who teaches diversity issues in his journalism classes at Michigan State University, said he is preparing a guide for journalists on LGBT people — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — that indicates that gender identity is so complicated that sometimes more than a “Q” should be added to the acronym.

Or maybe not. NLGJA’s “Stylebook Supplement on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Terminology” says this about “queer”:

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Originally a pejorative term for gay, now being reclaimed by some gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as a self-affirming umbrella term. Some straight people who identify with LGBT culture, such as children of queer parents, call themselves ‘culturally queer.’ Queer is still offensive as an epithet; best used only in quotations or for formal names of organizations or events.”

Native Journalists Say ‘American Indian’ Is OK

The Native American Journalists Association released a “Reporter’s Indigenous Terminology Guide” this week that, among its five entries, answers whether “American Indian” is interchangeable with “Native American” and when the term “Native” should be used.

To the first question, the guide says, “Either term is generally acceptable and can be used interchangeably, although individuals may have a preference. Native American gained traction in the 1960s for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

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“Over time, Native American has been expanded to include all Native people of the continental United States and some in Alaska. Native American and American Indian can be used interchangeably, however, the term is used only to describe groups of Native Americans — two or more individuals of different tribal affiliation. Journalists should always identify people by their preferred tribal affiliation when reporting on individuals or individual tribes.”

To the second, it says, “The term ‘Native’ can be used as an adjective to describe styles; For instance, Native fashion, Native music, or Native art. Journalists should exercise caution when using the word, though, as it is primarily used as slang.”

Other entries are “indigenous or aboriginal,” “Indian country” and “tribal affiliation.”

White House Reporters Pick Comedian Minhaj

Hasan Minhaj

A comedian has agreed to speak at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner,” Michael M. Grynbaum reported Tuesday for the New York Times. “Finally.

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Hasan Minhaj, a senior correspondent at ‘The Daily Show,’ will be the featured performer at the dinner on April 29, the association said on Tuesday. He will join the ranks of Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien and other stars who have skewered Washington at the annual gathering.

“But Mr. Minhaj, an Indian-American and Muslim who regularly roasts President Trump in his day job, will ascend the dais at a dinner that is shaping up to be far more tense than in previous years.

“Mr. Trump is skipping the festivities, the first president to do so since the 1970s, and his staff will boycott them, too. Vanity Fair and Bloomberg canceled their famed, celebrity-laden after-parties. And the event is playing out against the backdrop of a historically strained period of relations between the administration and the news media. . . .”

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Grynbaum also wrote, “ ‘I was not looking for somebody who is going to roast the president in absentia; that’s not fair and that’s not the message we want to get across,’ Jeff Mason, the president of the correspondents’ association, said Tuesday morning on MSNBC.

“ ‘I was looking for somebody who is funny and who is entertaining, because I want the dinner to be entertaining, but who can also speak to the message that the whole dinner is going to speak to: the importance of the free press,’ Mr. Mason added.

“Mr. Minhaj, 31, joined ‘The Daily Show’ in 2014 and has become popular among viewers with his cheerfully acerbic takes on current events. A first-generation immigrant, Mr. Minhaj wrote and performed ‘Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King,’ an Off Broadway show in 2015 recalling his youth in California and his struggles with ethnic identity.

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“Some of his ‘Daily Show’ commentary about the president has been scathing, and personal. The day after the election, Mr. Minhaj described his anxieties about Mr. Trump’s policies toward Muslims, saying that his mother had asked if she would be allowed back into the United States after a foreign trip to visit relatives. . . .”

Erik Wemple, Washington Post: The Daily Spicer: He wants a ‘healthy’ media. His boss? Not so much.

Murdochs Await Findings of O’Reilly Inquiry

Bill O’Reilly left Fox News this week for a long-planned vacation to Italy and the Vatican, with his fate in the hands of a Murdoch family calculating the risks and rewards of keeping him on or forcing him out of the network,” Emily Steel and Michael S. Schmidt reported Wednesday for the New York Times.

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“Facing a boycott by advertisers, unrest inside the company, protests outside Fox News headquarters and public calls for human rights investigations into company culture, Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, are reckoning with the fallout of a sexual harassment scandal that has once again engulfed Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox.

“The Murdochs are awaiting the results of an investigation into Mr. O’Reilly’s conduct before making a decision about whether he will stay or go, two people briefed on the plan said Wednesday. The law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison has been enlisted by 21st Century Fox to investigate, and although the probe started with a review of accusations made by Wendy Walsh, a former guest on Mr. O’Reilly’s show, the law firm is expected to expand its purview if other issues arise, the people said. . . .”

Chris Ariens, TVNewser: As Advertisers Flee, O’Reilly Sees Double Digit Ratings Growth

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Renée Graham, Boston Globe: Bill O’Reilly will remain ‘the king of cable news’

Anita Hill, Washington Post: Fox News, Bill O’Reilly and how to stop companies that tolerate harassment (April 6)

Judges from Investigative Reporters and Editors said, “students matched or outpaced professional publications to show erosions in voter rights and scant evidence of voter fraud in states that had changed their voting requirements since 2012.” (Carnegie-Knight News21)

Investigation by Students From 18 Schools Awarded

“Voting Wars,” a nationwide investigation of changes in voting laws by students from 18 universities, won the Investigative Reporters and Editors award in the student reporting — large category, IRE announced on April 4.

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The investigation was a 2016 project of the Carnegie-Knight News21 program, a national multimedia, investigative reporting effort produced by “the nation’s top journalism students and graduates. Each year, students selected into the program report in-depth on a topic of national importance,” the project said last year.

It added, “. . . 31 journalism students from 18 universities traveled to 31 states, conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed thousands of pages of state statutes and other records, and built databases and data visualizations documenting the issues surrounding voter rights and participation. . . .”

The IRE judges said that “the students matched or outpaced professional publications to show erosions in voter rights and scant evidence of voter fraud in states that had changed their voting requirements since 2012. They went beyond national politics to find that 5.6 million people now live in communities that have eliminated their school boards, leaving parents without a say in their children’s education . . .”

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In another category, “Settling for Misconduct” by Jonah Newman and Matt Kiefer of the Chicago Reporter won the award for “innovation in investigative journalism — small.”

Judges said, “As the shooting of black men continued to make headlines, various cities were doling out settlements to families. So The Chicago Reporter decided to examine how much the city was paying to settle its police misconduct lawsuits and built its own database. [PDF] The findings were staggering: Chicago paid out $210 million during a four-year period (and $53 million on outside attorneys), nearly $50 million over its annual budget for lawsuits, and forcing officials to borrow millions to pay the settlements. This project had it all: an interactive database, maps, and video. Well done and timely.”

List of winners and finalists [PDF]

As Syria became a no-go zone for foreign correspondents due to its danger, international media relied on citizen journalists and stories from activists. (Zouhir Al Shimale/Al Jazeera)

Syria’s Citizen Journalists Find Neutrality Difficult

Six years ago, by the time the revolution had begun, the majority of Syrian media was managed by the regime,” Zouhir Al Shimale reported Wednesday for Al Jazeera.

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“They were in absolute control of the ‘news’ that they wanted people to know. At the same time, the regime tried to shut down all sources of information that showed actual numbers of arrests, real footage and other information coming out of the conflict.

“As Syria became a no-go zone to foreign correspondents due to its danger, international media relied on citizen journalists and stories from activists to show the world what was happening. . . .”

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Al Shimale also wrote, “Where, then, does citizen journalism end and activism begin?

“Being a citizen journalist in Syria, affected by the conflict and passionate in trying to help others, blurs the line between citizen journalism and activism, which is not a bad thing.

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“Journalists are taught to not show preference to one side over another and to keep their personal views to themselves.

“However, for Syrian citizen journalists, some of whom spent their final teenage years and early adulthood living a horrible war, not expressing a point of view while reporting is simply challenging. . . .”

Journalists in Nigeria, Namibia Celebrate Pulitzers

It was celebration galore at the offices of PREMIUM TIMES in Nigeria and the United States on Monday after the Pulitzer Prizes, the most prestigious awards in US journalism, honoured the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its partners, including PREMIUM TIMES, for an investigative series on the Panama Papers,” Oladeinde Olawoyin reported Tuesday for Premium Times.

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“The Panama Papers investigation, a series of global investigations into offshore entities, spanning over a year by the ICIJ, German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zeitung, and 100 other media organisations across the world, was awarded The Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.

“The Panama Papers investigation exposed offshore companies linked to more than 140 politicians in more than 50 countries — including 14 current or former world leaders. . . .”

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Journalists also celebrated in Namibia. “The Namibian’s investigative unit produced five investigative pieces as part of the Panama Papers’ global reporting,” the Namibian reported on Wednesday.

“The Namibian’s first Panama Papers story explained how a shell company linked to a bribery scandal in Brazil paid US$1 million to another firm wholly owned by a Trinidadian politician as part of a bid to win a US$340 million tender to expand the Walvis Bay port in Namibia.

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“This appears to be a money laundering scheme to shift money from one company to another, while pretending to bid for the Namibian port contract.

“Another story was about Letitia Diergaardt, a receptionist in Namibia, who is linked to nine offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands. Diergaardt is what could be called a ‘zombie director’ of shell companies. . . .”

Richard Horgan, adweek.com: A Tonic for the Print Newspaper Industry: Front-Page Pulitzer Celebration Photos

Short Takes

A black Muslim photographer just filed a lawsuit against CBS4 Miami, his employer of 26 years, alleging religious, racial and age discrimination,” Jose Lambiet reported Monday for his Gossip Extra, republished on the Miami Herald website. “In an only-in-Miami twist, plaintiff Wilfred Ardley, aka Muhamad Hassan, says he was demoted for calling CBS4 reporter Jim DeFede ‘fat’ and making him look big on camera. . . .”

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From 2010 through 2015, there were 981 cases reported to police in Texas as potential hate crimes,” Ryan Katz reported Monday for ProPublica. “ProPublica examined the records kept by the Texas Judicial Branch and confirmed just five hate crime convictions. In the course of reviewing dozens of other individual case files for potential convictions, we found another three. How many additional cases were missed by the state agency is unclear. . . .”

The Journalism and Women Symposium Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) Betsy Wade Legacy Fund Fellowship supports a working newswoman chosen for the commitment to diversity represented in her work and interests, and whose work reflects the value of journalism in safeguarding a democratic society,” JAWS announced on Friday. “We encourage applicants from communities traditionally underrepresented in the media. This includes women of color, members of the LGBT community and people with disabilities. . . . Stay tuned for more information on how to apply during the fellowship application acceptance period April 15 to May 15. . . .”

Members of the House of Representatives have introduced legislation aimed at expanding opportunities for diverse ownership in the telecom sector, and reining in predatory prison phone rates”[PDF], the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council announced Wednesday. The group, “founded in 1986 to advance opportunities for multicultural participation in media and telecom, commends Reps. G.K. Butterfield and Bobby Rush, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, for recognizing these key communications issues. . . .”

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Radio One Detroit has agreed to sell its WCHB AM 1200 NewsTalk station to Birmingham, Ala.-based Crawford Broadcasting Co. for an undisclosed amount, the radio cluster announced Wednesday,” Tyler Clifford reported for Crain’s Detroit Business. Clifford also wrote, “When the deal closes, ‘The Mildred Gaddis Show,’ which currently airs 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on WCHB AM and 99.9 FM, will move to urban gospel station WPZR 102.7 in the same time slot, the release said. The move will give Gaddis, who is celebrating a 40-year career in radio, access to a stronger FM frequency and larger audience. . . .”

Venezuelan authorities should ensure that journalists can cover protests safely,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday. “Several reporters have been detained, injured, or had equipment seized while covering ongoing protests over a Supreme Court ruling to strip the opposition-led National Assembly of its lawmaking powers, according to news reports and local press freedom organizations. Access to at least three independent news websites that broadcast footage of the protests is blocked in Venezuela, according to reports. . . .”

We’ll be spending the next few days with the Rohingya, a group the United Nations has called the most persecuted people in the world,” Rachel Martin said Wednesday on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” introducing a report by Michael Sullivan. “A Muslim minority in mainly Buddhist Myanmar, also known as Burma, the Rohingya have lived there for generations. Myanmar’s government still treats them as less than equal. They have been fleeing for a better life elsewhere for years. Late last year, though, things took a turn for the worse. . . .”

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Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Journal-isms is originally published on journal-isms.com. Reprinted on The Root by permission.