ABC News is finalizing a deal to hire Byron Pitts of CBS, a contributor to "60 Minutes" and chief national correspondent for the "CBS Evening News, " according to reliable news reports published Friday.
"Pitts will serve as both chief national correspondent and anchor at ABC News, and will appear across the network's programming. ABC News President Ben Sherwood is expected to announce the news next week," Dylan Byers of Politico, the first to break the news, reported. Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter later reported that she had been given the same information by "sources."
"Pitts is just the latest in a string of high-profile hires for the network," Byers wrote. "Sherwood announced the hire of New York Times reporters Jeff Zeleny and Susan Saulny earlier this week, as well as the appointment of Rick Klein to political director. Sources who spoke to POLITICO earlier this week said Sherwood is trying to beef up the network's political bench following a number of recent departures."
Both Pitts and Saulny are black journalists, providing a marked contrast with the new hires at CNN after Jeff Zucker recently assumed the top job. Zucker hired white journalists Jake Tapper, Chris Cuomo and Rachel Nichols while sidelining anchor Soledad O'Brien, who is black and Latina. Zucker's appointment also prompted the resignation of Mark Whitaker, an African American who was CNN executive vice president and managing editor. Zucker's personnel moves prompted protests from the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Pitts, 52, joined CBS News as a correspondent in May 1998. He was named a contributing correspondent on "60 Minutes" in 2009, becoming the first African American presence on the show since correspondent Ed Bradley died in 2006. "I wanted to be a part of '60 Minutes' since I was in high school," Pitts then told Richard Huff of the Daily News in New York. "For me, '60 Minutes' is to broadcast journalism what the Yankees are to baseball: It's the gold standard."
Pitts, ABC News and CBS News were not commenting on Friday.
Pitts' wife, Lyne Pitts, is also involved in a new venture. She is heading up the U.S. operation of Arise News, a 24-hour international TV news operation that launched last month.
Byers reported last week, "In recent weeks, ABC News president Ben Sherwood has been courting political reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other outlets in an effort to strengthen the network's D.C. bureau after a string of recent departures, sources familiar with the network’s plans tell POLITICO. . . .
"Sherwood's motivations are clear: He is eager to bolster ABC's commitment to political coverage, especially after the loss of political director Amy Walter, senior Washington producer Virginia Moseley and chief White House correspondent Jake Tapper — all three of whom left, for various reasons, within the past three months."
Armstrong Williams to Buy Two TV Stations
Armstrong Williams, the conservative commentator and entrepreneur, is buying two television stations newly acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., the parties announced Thursday. The transaction would instantly multiply the tiny number of commercial television stations owned by African Americans.
African American ownership dropped from 12 stations in 2009 to 10 stations in 2011, or less than 1 percent of the nation's 1,348 full-power television stations, the Federal Communications Commission said in November.
Williams plans to acquire WEYI-TV, an NBC affiliate in the Flint/Saginaw/Bay City/Midland, Mich., market, ranked no. 67, and WWMB-TV, a CW affiliate in market 103 in the Myrtle Beach/Florence, S.C., market, near Williams' hometown of Marion, S.C.
No purchase price was disclosed. The transaction is part of a larger deal in which Sinclair agreed to purchase the broadcast assets of 18 television stations owned by Barrington Broadcasting Group, LLC for $370 million and entered into agreements to operate or provide sales services to another six stations. The deal is subject to approval by the FCC and antitrust clearance. Williams said he was financing the purchase through J.P. Morgan Chase.
The stations Williams plans to buy are in markets where the Hunt Valley, Md.-based Sinclair would own too many stations under FCC rules.
David D. Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair, said in a statement, "We are pleased to advance the diversity efforts of the FCC and create a path for minority ownership in the broadcast space through Howard Stirk Holdings," Williams' firm. Smith told Journal-isms that Sinclair does not plan to sell any more of the newly acquired stations, since their acquisition would not violate the FCC rules.
In his own statement, Williams said, "Today's announcement fulfills a life-long dream to own and operate broadcast facilities and give back to an industry that I love. I have been privileged to work with the Sinclair Broadcast Group for years and I am truly thankful for the opportunity it has provided. Many in the industry talk about diversity and expanding opportunity, but here the Sinclair Broadcast Group is putting words into action. The name 'Howard Stirk' is taken from my mother's maiden name, Howard, and my [father's middlename], Stirk. Knowing the humble, [hardscrabble] beginnings of my family in rural South Carolina, I felt honoring my parents in this small way was the right thing to do."
The Sinclair announcement noted, "In addition to his well-known work as a political commentator, Mr. Williams has spent nearly twenty years developing and producing high quality television programming, including primetime specials with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former Vice President Dick Cheney and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. From 2001 to 2003, Mr. Williams served as Chief Operating Officer of the Renaissance Cable TV Network with responsibility for all programming, advertising and content development."
Despite his Republican credentials, Williams told Journal-isms by telephone, "I've evolved. I don't care about political party. I care about what works for the people."
Smith told Journal-isms that he and Williams had long worked together and that Sinclair was looking to expand its relationship with him. "I've always admired his ability to stick his neck out there and call people . . . for what they're doing," he told Journal-isms by telephone. "We're big believers in advocacy journalism, and he fits that mode. He was the first one I called" when the ownership possibility arose.
Williams said that he would manage the stations himself and that the purchase would give him the opportunity to do more television production. He said that he would not want to tamper with the NBC programming but that "local television should be about the local area."
Richard Horgan, FishbowlLA: Three and a Half Decades Later, Stevie Wonder’s Radio Station Still Rocking
Lack of Media Diversity a Worldwide Problem
Diversity in newsrooms is an issue worldwide, according to heads of state, government representatives and experts meeting this week in Vienna.
At the fifth United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) Global Forum, "Leaders from the conflict-plagued Middle East were among the strongest voices calling for media to recognise its responsibility in reporting on diverse cultures fairly and accurately," Pavol Stracansky reported Friday for the Inter Press Service.
"Emir of Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, said: 'Understanding others and respecting their cultures and beliefs and the renunciation of extremism, hatred and racism are the most effective ways to plug the pretexts used by those who try to exploit these manifestations to encourage violence and terrorism. There is a growing responsibility of media in portraying the right image of 'the other' while avoiding prejudices and stereotyping others, and looking at the facts to judge accordingly.'
Stracansky continued, "Media experts at the summit in Vienna made several suggestions to improve media diversity:
"Mainstream media needs to be shown what that they can benefit from diversity.
"Media literacy is vital to promoting diversity.
"Laziness is a key reason for journalists not being inclusive in their reporting.
"Indigenous peoples need to be included in mainstream media and not just have their own specific media representing them.
"More women should hold top positions in media.
"Diversity of newsroom staff can help naturally encourage diversity of reporting.
"It is imperative that marginalized communities are represented in the media in a natural way, not just when mainstream papers need to know something about specific ethnic customs or traditions."
Steven M. Ellis added for the International Press Institute, "However, unaddressed was the question of whether moves ostensibly intended to increase diversity are ultimately a positive step when they have the practical effect of limiting media freedom.
"Such a conflict currently exists in Argentina, where the government, which has feuded with media outlet Grupo Clarín over the outlet's critical stance in recent years, threatened last December to implement legal provisions allowing it to seize all but 24 of the outlet's cable television licenses and all but 10 of its open frequency radio or television licenses.
"The government has justified this action as a necessary step to limit concentration of media ownership and ensure greater diversity. Critics, however, believe the move is retaliation for Grupo Clarín's criticism of government policies and violates the outlet's fundamental ownership rights."
Bloomberg Businessweek executives did not return telephone calls or emails this week when Journal-isms inquired about its cover, but when Politico, Slate, the Atlantic and other publications blasted the cover's racial overtones on Thursday, editor Josh Tyrangiel broke his silence.
" 'Our cover illustration last week got strong reactions, which we regret,' Josh Tyrangiel, the magazine's editor, wrote in a statement sent to POLITICO," Dylan Byers, Politico's media reporter, wrote. " 'Our intention was not to incite or offend. If we had to do it over again we'd do it differently.' "
Slate's Matthew Yglesias called that "a pretty categorical non-apology. . . . Note that Tyrangiel doesn't say they regret publishing the actual content of the cover, but the 'strong reactions' that it incited. How hard is it to take responsibility for the cover, say sorry, and leave it at that?"
The cover shows people of color surrounded by cash in a house, with the cover line, "The Great American Housing Rebound," keyed to a story about Phoenix in which no people of color are mentioned.
Ryan Chittum wrote in Columbia Journalism Review, "The cover stands out for its cast of black and Hispanic caricatures with exaggerated features reminiscent of early 20th century race cartoons. Also, because there are only people of color in it, grabbing greedily for cash. It's hard to imagine how this one made it through the editorial process.
"Compounding the first-glance problem with the image is the fact that race has been a key backdrop to the subprime crisis.
"The narrative of the crash on the right has been the blame-minority-borrowers line, sometimes via dog whistle, often via bullhorn.
"It's a narrative that has, not coincidentally, dovetailed with 'Obamaphone' baloney, the ACORN pseudo-scandal, and Southern politicians calling the first black president 'food-stamp president,' and is meant to take the focus off the ultimate culprits: mortgage lenders with no scruples and the Wall Street banks who financed them. . . ."
The artist was Andres Guzman, a Lima, Peru, native currently residing in Minneapolis. CJR's Sara Morrison reported, "He wrote on his blog that he 'was asked to make an excited family with large quantities of money.' He added: 'Drawing dollars was a drag. ' "
Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post added, "Rachel Nagler, Head of Communications for the magazine, passes along a note from Andres Guzman, the illustrator: 'The assignment was an illustration about housing. I simply drew the family like that because those are the kind of families I know. I am Latino and grew up around plenty of mixed families.'
Morrison and Linkins made the point that, in Morrison's words, "All that said, it's surprising that no one at Businessweek took a minute to consider that the cover could be viewed as racist."
That, too, was the message from the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists:
"The image that was published by Bloomberg BusinessWeek is just a microcosm of a bigger problem in the magazine industry — the lack of diversity," NABJ President Gregory Lee Jr. said in a statement. "The last presidential election demonstrated that our nation’s demographics are changing rapidly and it is essential that media companies should make the appropriate changes to welcome diversity in their newsrooms, specifically in managerial positions.”
Errin Haines, NABJ vice president-print, said in the same statement, "Being controversial is one thing, but this cover is clearly offensive and demeaning.
"What is the message this cover seeks to convey to readers? And who thought this was a good idea? That such an image would be published by a magazine of the stature and exposure of Bloomberg BusinessWeek suggests that there was no one with the cultural sensitivity or awareness in the room to step in before this cover made it to press.
"While that fact is problematic, this incident presents an opportunity to prevent such oversights in the future, and NABJ stands ready to help the magazine bring more diversity to its masthead."
"In an interview, Hugo Balta, the president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said the cover 'continues to speak to the insensitivity of how minorities, and in this case Latinos, are being portrayed in media,' " Tanzina Vega wrote for the New York Times.
" 'I think it oversimplifies an issue that obviously has tremendous financial impact to the country, and it also puts a face to a community that is too often vulnerable to those types of attacks,' Mr. Balta said. 'If we go with the old saying that a picture is worth a [thousand] words, the message in this picture is that it's the minority’s fault.' "
Emily Badger blog, the Atlantic: Bloomberg Businessweek's Racist Cover Also Gets the Housing Crisis Backwards
Hugo Balta, National Association of Hispanic Journalists: Bloomberg Businessweek Cover: Blame the- Latinos for Your Problems? (March 1)
Wayne Bennett, Field Negro: The last day of Black History Month.
Adrian Carrasquillo, NBCLatino: Bloomberg Businessweek cover blasted as offensive for depictions of Hispanics, blacks
Matthew Iglesias, Slate: The Context for Businessweek's Housing Cover
Channing Kennedy, ColorLines: Bloomberg Businessweek’s New Name-That-Racial-Stereotype Cover
Miami, Fresno, Lakeland Lead in Sports Journalists of Color
After previewing its major findings earlier in the week, Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, released its annual report Friday evaluating diversity in sports journalism at more than 150 newspapers and websites.
Lapchick told the Associated Press Sports Editors, which requested the report, "For 2012, the grade for racial hiring practices for APSE newspapers and websites remained at a C+, the same grade issued in the 2010 Study. . . . The grade issued for gender hiring practices remained constant as well, recording the third consecutive F for gender hiring practices."
The full report provided details not disclosed in Lapchick's column Monday.
For example, "In circulation size 'A' papers, the Miami Herald (FL) had the highest percentage for people of color at 38.1 percent. For the second year in a row, The Fresno Bee (CA) had the highest percentage of people of color at 'B' newspapers with 45.5 percent. The Lakeland Ledger (FL) had the highest percentage for people of color for size 'C' newspapers at 33.3 percent. In size 'D' newspapers, both the Triangle Tribune (NC) and Ste. Genevieve Herald (MO) had 100 percent people of color. It should be noted that each only reported one employee. For papers with five or more employees, the Midland [Reporter-Telegram] (TX) had the highest percentage with 50 percent people of color in the size 'D' category."
When people of color and women are tallied, the results were:
"Of all the 'A' circulation size papers, the Miami Herald (FL) totaled the highest percentage of diversity within its sports staff for the second straight year with 76.2 percent people of color and/or women. The New Orleans [Times]-Picayune leads the 'B' circulation size papers with 63.6 percent of their staff being women and/or people of color. The Register-Guard (OR) led the circulation size 'C' papers with 90 percent of its sports staff being women or people of color. Finally, in the circulation size 'D' papers with more than five employees, there was a tie at 66.7 percent women and people of color between the Iowa City Press-Citizen (IA) and the Midland Reporter-Telegram (TX)."
Maria Burns Ortiz, one of the few Latina sports columnists and leader of the Sports Task Force of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, told Journal-isms Friday that her social media column for espn.com is going on hiatus.
Ortiz's column notwithstanding, the study from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport asserted Friday, "For the fourth straight survey of the APSE newspapers and websites, there were no Latina columnists."
"I've actually been a freelancer (since 2006) — so I'm guessing I'm simply not considered as part of the company's demographics," Ortiz said. "Additionally, I was notified on Thursday that due to ESPN budgetary issues, my column is actually going on indefinite hiatus so yesterday was my last column," she messaged.
Ortiz, a former regional director of NAHJ, also contributes regular sports columns to Fox News Latino. She covered men's college soccer for ESPN starting in 2006, then was a Page 2 contributor before beginning the social media column in 2011.
Of the low numbers of Latinas, "I think it speaks to the dearth of Latinas in sports journalism, which I've written about in the past," Ortiz said. "What I find more troubling is that looking ahead to the future I don't see anything that leads me to believe any significant change is on the horizon," she wrote. "The study notes no Latinas as sports columnists and an all-time low in Latina sports reporters. The other numbers don't bode much better. Through my work with NAHJ, this is something I've tried to tackle, but it is definitely an uphill battle."
The NAHJ Sports Task Force plans a session at NAHJ's Region 2 conference in New York next week.
A Year After Tirade, Limbaugh Still Bad for Business
"It's been one year since Rush Limbaugh's invective-filled tirade against then-Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke. With hundreds of advertisers and millions of dollars lost, the business of right-wing radio is suffering, but Rush Limbaugh continues to act as if it were business as usual, which is why Limbaugh is still bad for business," Angelo Carusone wrote Friday for Media Matters for America.
"On February 29, 2012, Rush Limbaugh initiated a three-day smear campaign against Sandra Fluke, launching 46 personal attacks against her. This moment and Limbaugh's subsequent refusal to apologize for, or even acknowledge, all but two of those attacks put the spotlight on the right-wing talk business model that Limbaugh helped construct.
"During the following weeks, headlines tracked in near real-time the names of advertisers exiting Limbaugh's show as pundits and natterers speculated about Limbaugh's future. As so often happens, the buzz faded and the news cycle rolled on. But the consequences didn't fade, they intensified. This is due in large part to scores of independent organizers, like the Flush Rush and the #StopRush community. . . ."
What Will Journalists of Color Regret in 2050?
"Yes, we in the media can have blind spots — often huge ones — when it comes to social change," multimedia journalist Farai Chideya wrote Friday for the cover story of Columbia Journalism Review. "To help identify them, we set out to have a national conversation about what we’re missing these days, and how media must adapt to cover an America that constantly reinvents itself.
"Race, class, immigration, and social mobility were the issues we used to frame our discussion, conducted in January. Using the online conversation tool Branch, we virtually convened 18 members of the media and asked them to weigh in."
Chideya received a variety of responses when she asked, "If we were to write the mea culpa of race coverage for 2050, what would it be? What are we missing now? And how do we deal with what we missed before?"
Raju Narisetti, newly named senior vice president and deputy head of strategy for the New News Corporation, said, "In hindsight, we might be apologizing for treating race through a white/nonwhite prism, long after America became much more multicultural, and race reporting ought to have become as much about covering 'white' issues, and not just in relation to nonwhite 'minorities.' "
Eric Deggans, media critic for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, said, "I write a lot about how race and prejudice play out in media. But I was still shocked during an interview with Shirley Sherrod — yes, that 'Breitbarted' Shirley Sherrod [who was bullied into resigning from a government job after racial comments she made were taken out of context] — when she told me a high school near her home in Georgia still has segregated proms. Far as the nation has come on racial issues, especially in big cities, there is a still a lot of prejudice and ignorance out there. I have a feeling future news outlets will be apologizing for allowing the level of racial animus toward nonwhite people which still appears on Fox News Channel, the Drudge Report, The Daily Caller, and many areas of conservative media."
June Cross, assistant professor at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, said, "We will have missed the nuances of race and ethnicity. When I get together with my Latino friends, they talk about how different their individual cultures are: Mexican, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Colombian, and Guatemalan [cultures] not only have different holidays and use the same word to connote different things; they also speak Spanish in different accents. The cities that receive immigrants are creating a melting pot of Latin America that I haven't seen reported at all in mainstream press. Ditto for the immigrant flow from Africa and the West Indies. Further, in the press's binary paradigm, undocumented immigrants are rarely Russian, Eastern European, Canadian, Irish — even though their ranks also fill immigration detention centers."
As February Closes, Two Seek to Clarify Blackness
Among the pieces closing out Black History Month 2013 was an essay by Tonyaa Weathersbee decrying that "more black people seem to be using their money or their fame to look whiter, rather than use it to make people appreciate their blackness," and another by Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., knocking down the oft-repeated line that there are more black men behind bars than in college.
"Today there are approximately 600,000 more black men in college than in jail, and the best research evidence suggests that the line was never true to begin with," Toldson wrote Thursday for The Root.
"In this two-part entry in Show Me the Numbers, the Journal of Negro Education's monthly series for The Root, I examine the dubious origins, widespread use and harmful effects of what is arguably the most frequently quoted statistic about black men in the United States."
Weathersbee, writing Tuesday for Black America Web, argued, "Sometimes, I think we ought to dedicate Black History Month to reviewing the part about black pride.
"I say this because these days, it seems that a lot of us either missed that chapter or just decided to skip it altogether. . . ."
Calling out such celebrities as Lil' Kim, Nicki Minaj, Sammy Sosa, Trina McGee of the television series "Boy Meets World" and Jamaican rapper Vybz Kartel, Weathersbee wrote, "Tanned white people have never been banned from using bathrooms and water fountains, while black people have been denied access strictly for being black."
"Do news blackouts help journalists held captive?" asks a headline over a piece Tuesday by Frank Smyth of the Committee to Protect Journalists. "The matter is hardly an academic one for journalists and others either known to be in captivity or still missing today," Smyth wrote. "Freelance journalist James Foley, a contributor to Global Post, was kidnapped in northwest Syria late last year; his family waited six weeks before deciding to make the case public. He remains missing. Austin Tice, a freelance journalist for McClatchy newspapers and The Washington Post, was seized in Damascus in August, and what appears to be a staged video of him in captivity leads observers to suggest that Syrian government forces may be holding him. His parents recently traveled to Beirut to try and appeal to whoever may be holding him.. . ."
"Mexican authorities say gunmen have attacked a newspaper in the northern city of Torreon for the third consecutive day, killing a bystander and wounding two federal police officers guarding the building," the Associated Press reported Wednesday. "Coahuila state prosecutors say the attack on the offices of El Siglo de Torreon happened Wednesday afternoon. Just hours earlier, the newspaper published a story detailing an attack on Tuesday in which gunmen wielding automatic rifles fired at least 30 shots at the building’s main door from a car."
"From humble beginnings on the Cheyenne River Reservation to New York City Radio Host, Tiokasin Ghosthorse is making a mark on mainstream society," Christina Rose wrote for Native Sun News. "Growing up with oral traditions, he has taken the tradition on the road and used it to bring awareness of the crises facing Mother Earth and all people. His program 'First Voices Indigenous Radio' is heard on 43 frequencies in the United States and people in Europe and Australia tune in to his website weekly to hear the voices of Indigenous people from around the country and the world."
"Following his fiery, contentious segment with Democratic congressman Keith Ellison, Sean Hannity decided 'to take a closer look at the man who called me immoral and a liar,' " Meenal Vamburkar reported Friday for Mediaite. "Asserting hypocrisy, Hannity hit Ellison’s 'radical connections,' linking him with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan."
"Ron Oliveira, a fixture on Austin TV for three decades, will sign off from KEYE's 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts on Friday," Gary Dinges wrote Wednesday for the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman. "After eight years at the station, the anchor says managers told him his contract wouldn't be extended. 'I was informed that the corporate office in Baltimore decided not to renew my contract,' he said. 'No reason was given. It took me by total surprise. I’m heartbroken because I love what I do.' "
"After a 42-year television career, anchor Ysabel Duron has announced she's retiring from KRON-4 in San Francisco," Veronica Villafañe reported Friday for her Media Moves site. "She has been with the station almost 23 years. A weekend anchor of 'KRON 4 Weekend Morning News,' Ysabel joined the station as a general assignment reporter in 1990. She was named morning weekend anchor in 1992."
"Many of our crime stories involving robberies include a description of the suspects when provided by police. White, black, Asian, it doesn't matter," Mike Johnston, managing editor of Canada's durhamregion.com, which publishes content from several newspapers, wrote Wednesday. "If that description helps with an arrest, we are glad to help. But lately, when the suspect was black, it brought out the most vile, repulsive and offensive comments we have ever had on our website. In fact, it has now got to the point that we are turning off commenting on crime stories when they appear on our website."
The family of Maya Jackson Randall, a reporter at the Dow Jones Newswires/Wall Street Journal Washington bureau who died at 33 this week after a long fight with leukemia, has created a memorial fund to start a public charity in her honor. The total passed the $6,500 mark on Saturday morning. The goal is $10,000. [Updated March 2.]
"Angry Kenyans have taken issue with a news item broadcast by CNN, claiming that Kenyans were arming themselves and preparing for war, ahead of Monday's historic poll," Wambui Ndonga reported Friday for Capital FM in Nairobi. "The Kenyans who vented their anger on social networks like Facebook and Twitter accused the international media house of bias over its article titled 'Kenyans armed and ready to vote'."
"The Taliban has dissociated itself; the Pakistan Army has extended its condolences; and government functionaries, politicians, and civil-society representatives have offered condolences as 'unidentified' armed men took the life of another journalist in Pakistan's perilous tribal areas on February 27," Daud Khattak reported Thursday for Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty. "Malik Mumtaz, who was reporting from Miranshah, North Waziristan, for Pakistan's 'The News International' and Geo television, was gunned down while on his way home from a funeral in a nearby village. He thus became the 11th tribal journalist killed in armed attacks or bomb blasts since February 7, 2005."
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.