A Hint of GLAAD's Plan for Roland Martin?

Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Offending Hollywood Producer Joins Gay Group's Campaign

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation provided a hint of what it might have in store for Roland Martin Wednesday when it announced that Brett Ratner, the Hollywood producer who resigned as host of this year's Academy Awards show after he publicly used the word "fag," would direct a "groundbreaking video campaign" with GLAAD.


The organization announced Tuesday that Martin met for 90 minutes that day with Herndon Graddick, senior director of programs and communications at GLAAD, in Los Angeles. "The introduction is the beginning of an open and honest dialogue. Both parties came away with a better understanding of one another and look forward to continuing this dialogue," GLAAD said in a statement.

CNN suspended Martin a week ago over tweets Martin sent during the Super Bowl that GLAAD said were anti-gay. After retailer H&M's Super Bowl commercial featuring soccer player David Beckham, for example, Martin tweeted, "If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl" Martin, a contributing political analyst at CNN, denied his tweets were about homosexuals.

Although GLAAD at first urged that Martin be fired, it said later, "We look forward to a productive dialogue and to working together as well."

"Yesterday, Martin also spoke out against anti-LGBT violence," GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro said after CNN's suspension. "We look forward to hearing from CNN and Roland Martin to discuss how we can work together as allies and achieve our common goal of reducing such violence as well as the language that contributes to it. . . . Our goal is to ensure better coverage that works toward ending anti-LGBT violence."

Ratner pulled out of the Oscars show in November amid controversy over his use of the word "fag" during a Q&A following a screening of his new movie, "Tower Heist." The next day Eddie Murphy, who accepted the job of hosting the program at Ratner's request, withdrew, KTLA-TV in Los Angeles reported at the time.

GLAAD said Ratner met with its board of directors over the weekend in a meeting that included Brian Grazer, producer of the Academy Awards, as well as directors Adam Shankman and Bryan Singer, among others.


"Working together with GLAAD has been a very positive and enlightening experience for me, and I could not be more pleased to be developing this crucial campaign to help educate people that we all share the same humanity," Ratner was quoted as saying. "I am excited to get to work on this program and hope that minds and hearts are opened by what we create."

GLAAD said, "The upcoming video series will feature a diverse group of Hollywood celebrities, athletes, musicians and politicians 'coming out of the closet' as supporters of equality. Participants will share personal stories about why and how they support the LGBT community and call on Americans to do the same."


Graddick said in the release, "Straight allies are crucial to creating a culture in which LGBT people are respected and supported."

GLAAD enlisted comedian Tracy Morgan in its cause last year after Morgan is said to have claimed in a June Nashville appearance that being gay is a choice, that homosexuality is something that kids learn from the media and that gay youth victims of bullying are simply "whining," USA Today reported.


Four days later, USA Today said in a follow-up story, "Through GLAAD, Morgan and [his friend Russell] Simmons will meet with gay teens in New York who have been left homeless after their parents disowned them. The duo will also travel to Nashville, where Morgan will apologize to the audience he offended. . . . Morgan will also film a PSA [public service announcement] for GLAAD, voicing his support for the LGBT community."

Morgan also figured in the criticism of Martin. The commentator was denounced for defending the comedian. Martin wrote in his syndicated column, "Sorry, if I'm being honest here and not focusing on political correctness. I just believe that many of you would be shocked and amazed that you laughed hysterically at some of the most sexist, homophobic, racist stuff imaginable by comedians of all shapes, sizes, ethnic backgrounds, genders and sexual orientations."


While many commentators have criticized Martin's tweets, some went after GLAAD.

Jasmyne A. Cannick, a black lesbian activist, wrote, "Organizations like GLAAD and their lynch mob tactics towards BlacksIsaiah Washington, Isiah Thomas, Tracy Morgan, and now Roland Martin to name a few, continue to fuel the disconnect between Blacks and gays that usually ends up at the ballot box with Blacks voting against gay marriage and with Black gays stuck in the middle."  


* Don Armstrong, Amy Alexander Community Forum: What Do Roland Martin and Trent Lott Have in Common?

* Huffington Post: Roland Martin Meets With GLAAD Over Controversial Tweets  

* Frederick H. Lowe, North Star News & Analysis: Black Gay Men Differ On Roland Martin’s Punishment (Feb. 16)  


* John McWhorter, theRoot.com: The Real Problem With Roland Martin's Tweets  

* Peter Ogburn, FishbowlDC: What’s Roland Tweeting?   

* LaRita Shelby, EURWeb.com: Roland Martin Update: NAACP Speaks Out & Joyner’s Open Letter Drama


LatinoVoices' Miguel Ferrer Adds BlackVoices to His Duties

In another shakeup at HuffPost BlackVoices, Gene Demby, promoted to editor in October, is stepping down to become political editor and Miguel Ferrer, managing editor of HuffPost LatinoVoices, is also becoming managing editor of HuffPost BlackVoices, Huffington Post spokesman Mario Ruiz told Journal-isms on Wednesday.


"Gene was recently named politics editor, so he now has more time to focus on the area he’s most passionate about," Ruiz said by email. "And Miguel’s role is now wider – he’s Managing Editor of HuffPost Black Voices in addition to HuffPost Latino Voices. Miguel’s expanded position enables him to more effectively leverage the entire BV/LV platform, whether about content partnerships, marketing, or more."

BlackVoices has undergone significant turnover since coming under Huffington Post control last year. Christina Norman, executive editor of HuffPost Black Voices, was hired for the top-of-the-masthead job last summer after her ouster as CEO of Oprah Winfrey’s struggling
OWN cable channel.


Demby, founder of the website postbourgie.com, was hired as a news editor last June, then succeeded Rebecca Carroll as managing editor. In October, he was promoted to editor, and Carroll left the operation.

Before becoming managing editor of HuffPost LatinoVoices, Ferrer was director of programming for AOL Latino, where he was responsible for growing AOL Latino's audience and developing key media partnerships. Before AOL Latino, Ferrer was business development manager for People en Español.


HuffPost BlackVoices recorded 2,604,000 unique visitors in December, according to the comScore Inc. research company, making it second to bet.com among black-oriented sites.

"The Unethical Journalist" Comes to the Comics Page

Darrin Bell, a Los Angeles-based cartoonist who draws "Candorville," a strip syndicated to 80 newspapers by the Washington Post Writers Group, introduced the story line "THE unETHICAL JOURNALIST" this week. It's taken straight from today's journalism business.


"Lemont Brown (my main character) was, until a few weeks ago, the last remaining reporter at the Candorville Chronicle," Bell explained to Journal-isms by email. "The Chronicle had laid off all its other reporters and filled the paper with wire articles. The editor tried to send Lemont overseas to cover the uprising in Syria, but Lemont had just won custody of his two-year-old son so he declined to go. His boss gave him an ultimatum: it's your job or your son. So Lemont quit.

"Now, after fruitlessly searching for another job, he's decided to go back to what he knows: journalism. He's restarted his personal blog. The ethics of it all involve the way he secured his first big interview for his blog, with Bashar al-Assad," the Syrian autocrat. "He let Assad believe he still works for the Candorville Chronicle.


". . . In Lemont's mind, since he was the only real reporter at the Chronicle for years, he WAS the Chronicle and now has every right to use the cachet of that paper when it comes to getting an interview. And since he mumbles the word 'formerly' before saying 'of the Candorville Chronicle,' he'd like to think that verbal fine print is enough to preserve his honor.

"Eventually, he hopes, his blog will be successful enough that he can trade on the blog's name and won't have to do this."


Lin Headline Called Disgrace but Also Greatest Ever

"The astonishing rise of New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin has become the biggest story in sports, but some are celebrating in rather iffy ways," the Huffington Post reported on Wednesday.


"Lin's stunning, buzzer-beating, game-winning three-point shot in Toronto on Tuesday night sent the world into another frenzied round of 'Linsanity.' But the New York Post is drawing eyebrows for the headline on its back page sports cover: 'AMASIAN!' "

"The headline writers at the Post aren't the first to tread into murky racial waters when it comes to Lin, who has drawn almost as much attention for being Asian as he has for his sports skills. Columnist Jason Whitlock and boxer Floyd Mayweather have both made offensive, race-based comments about Lin (Whitlock later apologized).


"Some readers took objection to the headline, with MSNBC host Chris Hayes calling it 'questionable' and others saying the Post was an 'absolute disgrace.' People also tweeted that they loved the headline, though, with one calling it the 'greatest headline ever.' "

The Huffington Post then asked readers to vote in a poll on the site.

The term "Amasian" did not originate with the New York Post or with Lin, according to the Urban Dictionary.


Citing definitions dating at least to 2005 and using all lower-case letters, the word is defined there as "a combination of amazing and asian, which originally meant amazing asian, but has now become broadened to mean anything that is particularly amazing, although it helps if there is an asian aspect. . . . the word was originally created by famous art critic eliza dropkin."  

* Jerry Barmash, FishbowlNY: MSG Network, Led by Jeremy Lin, Surges on All Platforms  


* Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: Breaking stereotypes. But are we still color aroused?  

* Will Bunch, philly.com: Headless Body On NY Post Headline Writer

* Emil Guillermo blog: I’m no “Lin-fidel,” just a realist on Jeremy Lin. Still, he’s just what we need as more people keep blurring the difference between Asian and Asian American


* Lisa Gutierrez, Kansas City Star: Jeremy Lin: 'Amasian.' Really? (Poll)

* Ling Woo Liu, CNN.com: Why Jeremy Lin's race matters

* Ky Phong Paul Tran, Nguoi Viet: Why Jeremy Lin Matters: Asian Male Image in the Media


* George Vecsey, New York Times: The Old Guard Welcomes the New Guard

* William Wong, SFGate.com: Linsanity 2: Redefining 'American'

Twitter Broke News About Houston? Evidence Is Shaky

"AllTwitter uses a graphic created by a Twitter employee to show how a regular Twitter user 'broke news of Whitney Houston’s death an HOUR before the press.' Judge for yourself whether the tweet broke much of anything," Steve Myers wrote Wednesday for the Poynter Institute.


He reproduced a Twitter posting that read:

"Brittany J pullard @BarBeeBritt

"Is Whitney Houston really dead?"

". . . Rather than showing that anything started with this tweet, I think it shows — along with the other two early tweets that said Houston had died — how hard it is for journalists to find early, reliable accounts of newsworthy events.


". . . Confirming someone’s death is a high-stakes, intense reporting challenge. The AP has demonstrated its experience in such situations, most recently with the death of Joe Paterno. So maybe the headlines should be 'AP confirms Whitney Houston’s death an HOUR of first clues on Twitter.' ”

Meanwhile, Chad Sinclair and Jacqueline Corba of CBS News reported Monday that "White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is using Whitney Houston's death Saturday as an opportunity to warn of the dangers of substance abuse. ". . . It is not yet known whether Houston's death was drug related, though the singer has acknowledged past struggles with substance abuse. Kerlikowske pointed specifically to Houston's use of prescription drugs."


Also, ABC News shot down a report from TMZ that Houston's ex-husband, Bobby Brown, was not being invited to Houston's funeral, to be held in Newark on Saturday.

"Whitney Houston's ex-husband Bobby Brown has been invited to her funeral, sources tell ABC News, refuting rumors that he had been barred from attending by Houston's mother Cissy and other members of the singer's family," the International Business Times reported.


* Bill Cromwell, medialifemagazine.com: Ratings soar over Whitney coverage

* Tonya Garcia, PRNewser: Media Says Mistakes Were Made in the Coverage of Whitney Houston’s Death


* dream hampton, ebony.com: Whitney Elizabeth Houston 1963-2012

* Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press: Whitney Houston fans to follow funeral on Internet (Feb. 16)


* Touré, Time: After Whitney Houston, Musicians Say: I’m Afraid

Debbye Turner Bell, Former Miss America, Out at CBS

Debbye Turner Bell, Miss America of 1990 who has been a correspondent for CBS News' "The Early Show," is leaving the network this week.


"I was with CBS for 11 years, as a Staff Correspondent, 'resident veterinarian,' and fill-in anchor," she told Journal-isms by email. "It was a great and exciting run. I want to stay in NYC, if possible. Would love to anchor or host. I am weighing options and yet open to new opportunities. Hope to have news soon."

"The Early Show" was succeeded on Jan. 2 by "CBS This Morning." According to Turner's bio, "Prior to joining CBS News, she served as co-host of 'Show Me St. Louis,' a locally produced magazine program highlighting interesting people and places in St. Louis (1995-2001). Turner was nominated for an Emmy Award for her work on the program.


"She hosted a PBS series about pets and veterinary medicine, 'The Gentle Doctor' (1995-98). Although Turner is not currently practicing veterinary medicine, she dedicates much of her time to promoting responsible pet ownership through public service announcements, news features and workshops.

"Since being crowned Miss America 1990, Bell has addressed more than 500,000 students at 500 schools, youth organizations and college campuses as a motivational speaker on topics of self-esteem, perseverance and the importance of education."


XXL Suspends Staffers Who Posted Rapper's Video

The editor of the hip-hop magazine XXL said Wednesday that the magazine had suspended staffers responsible for producing and posting a video criticized as promoting the rape of young girls.


Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten and rapper Too $hort apologized late Monday for the video by Too $hort, posted on the magazine's Web site without Satten's knowledge, she said.

"The rapper, who has been known to release sexually explicit songs throughout his career, offered the advice to teenaged boys," Roman Wolfe and Mike Winslow reported for AllHipHop.com.


" 'When you get to late middle school, early high school and you start feeling a certain way about the girls. I’m gonna tell you a couple tricks,' Too Short says in the video. 'A lot of the boys are going to be running around trying to get kisses from the girls. We’re going way past that. I’m taking you to the hole.'

"Then, in graphic detail, the rapper offers some steps that young boys should follow to win a girl’s heart. . . ."


Satten said in a statement Monday, ". . . I do not see all content before it goes live. When I saw this video, I was truly offended and thought it crossed the line. I had it taken down immediately. I am disappointed that an employee decided to post it and I am putting internal procedures in place to make sure content like this does not go on the site."

Continuing to face criticism, she said on Wednesday, ". . . The staffers responsible for producing and posting this video have since been suspended."


Too $hort, 45, said in his Monday statement, ". . .When I got on camera I was in Too $hort mode and had a lapse of [judgment]. I would never advise a child or young man to do these things, it’s not how I get down."

Offended viewers started a Twitter petition demanding Satten's resignation and listed XXL's advertisers.


* Raquel Cepeda, cnn.com: Stop encouraging sexual assault of our young Black and Latina girls

* Byron Hurt, Facebook: Are you man enough to challenge Too Short?

* Demetria Irwin, theGrio.com: Too Short, XXL apologies are too little, too late


* Akiba Solomon, ebony.com: Too $hort and the Anatomy of a Weak Apology

Short Takes

* "Two years after the New York Times public editor recommended his reassignment, Ethan Bronner is being replaced as Jerusalem bureau chief," Dylan Byers reported Tuesday for Politico. "Today, the Times announced that Education editor Jodi Rudoren has been named Jerusalem bureau chief. Bronner will become the legal affairs reporter at the National desk. . . . Bronner's 22-year-old son was a member of the Israeli Defense Forces, a conflict of interest first raised by the website Electronic Intifada." Bronner told Politico in an email, ". . . I have not been reassigned. I asked to return."


* The Committee to Protect Journalists sent President Obama, preparing to meet with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping Tuesday, a letter "asking that he raise the issue of jailed journalists, restrictions on access for foreign and domestic reporters to areas of ethnic and civil unrest, and the heavy-handed approach of the Central Propaganda Department in trying to control the country's increasingly dynamic mainstream media." Reporters Without Borders said it was "making various web platforms available to Internet users who want to ask questions about freedom of information and media freedom."

* "When I talked to MSNBC president Phil Griffin about his channel's recent habit of hiring anchors of color who are not journalists for high profile jobs, he took issue with a central notion: That journalism credentials are necessary for top anchor jobs at his cable newschannel," Eric Deggans wrote Tuesday for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times. ". . . it seems the further cable newschannels shrug off the mantle of journalism, the more they come to resemble political campaigns, focused on victory for a particular ideology in a way which may test viewers' trust."


* The South Asian Journalists Association raised $20,437.45 in its SAJA Editors Challenge, SAJA President Anusha Shrivastava told Journal-isms on Wednesday. Donors came forward with $10,437.45 to match the $10,000 contributed by editors.

* In Tucson, "Former KVOA anchor Martha Vazquez, who resigned from her position Monday, is suspected of stealing a jacket and earrings from Dillard’s at the Tucson Mall over the weekend," Veronica M. Cruz and Carmen Duarte reported Tuesday for the Arizona Daily Star. "A store loss prevention officer saw Vazquez try on a hooded jacket worth $338, check herself in the mirror, and then conceal the jacket, said Sgt. Matt Ronstadt, a Tucson police spokesman."


* "The Cal Poly Journalism Department has established an endowment in honor of former professor George Ramos, who died in July 2011," the school announced Tuesday. "The George Ramos Cal Poly Journalism Endowment will support student scholarships and various program developments. The department also hopes to appoint an endowed chair to support the education of future journalists."

* Journal Communications, Inc. announced last week that its board has named Andre J. Fernandez president in addition to his role as chief financial officer. "Andre Fernandez joined Journal Communications in October 2008 from NBC Universal, where he was Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer for Telemundo Communications Group, Inc since 2004." Fernandez is Puerto Rican.


* Conservative pundit Ann Coulter "delivered a speech where she compared President Obama to Flavor Flav," Jonathan Hailey wrote Monday for Urban Daily. "Ann Coulter mused, 'Voters with forty years of politically correct education are ecstatic to have the first Black president. They just love the idea even if we did get Flavor Flav instead of Thomas Sowell.' "

* "Although Greg Hernandez . . . has logged many years as a reporter for the Daily News and LA Times, it was actually his personal blog Greg in Hollywood that led to his latest full-time gig," Richard Horgan wrote Tuesday for FishbowlLA. "Since early December, he has been working out of his home office in Silver Lake as the LA correspondent for London-based website gaystarnews.com."


* "Manuel Martínez has been named president and general manager of WTVJ, the NBC O&O in Miami, NBC announced today. His appointment is effective immediately," Merrill Knox wrote Tuesday for TVSpy. "Martínez joins WTVJ from WSCV, the Telemundo station in Miami, where he has been president and general manager since 2007."

* Veteran editor Janice Min, now running the Hollywood Reporter, was asked her tips for moving up the masthead. "I remember when I would interview people, even for an editorial assistant job, and you would ask them, 'What do you want to do?,' Min told Aria Hughes of mediabistro.com Wednesday. "And when they say 'I want to be an editor-in-chief one day,' it's such a turn off. Immediately in your mind you're like, 'Ok this is someone who feels entitled who is not going to want to work very hard.' People who are so obvious at wanting the glory usually don't want to put in the work for it. Can you be the intern who is so useful the thought of you leaving the office at the end of the summer would be devastating? Are you the person who volunteers to stay late and finish the project when no one else will take it on? A lot of it is making yourself indispensable to somebody or the organization. Honestly, it has nothing to do with titles or where you are."


* "Stefan Holt, the 24-year-old son of NBC News anchor Lester Holt, is stepping up to weekday morning news anchor at NBC 5 Chicago after just eight months at the station," Robert Feder reported Monday for TimeOut Chicago. "Starting Monday, he’ll anchor NBC 5 News Today from 4:30 to 7am, succeeding Rob Elgas, who shifts to co-anchoring at 4:30pm weekdays with Marion Brooks."

* "As the centerpiece of its Black History Month celebration, TV One presents the basic cable premiere Friday, Feb. 17–Sunday, Feb. 19 of the highly acclaimed, award-winning three-part documentary series The Black List, in which a remarkable group of 50 black American notables share candid stories and revealing insights into the struggles, triumphs and joys of the black experience in America," the network announced. "The three-part series will each night from 8-9 PM and repeat at 11 PM (all times ET)."


* "Beloved Austin TV news guy Fred Cantu has left his job in the hardware department at Home Depot on Brodie Lane," John Kelso wrote Feb. 9 in the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman. "The reason? No, he didn’t cut a link of chain the wrong length, or anything like that. He’s been given a steadier offer at KEYE-TV. Cantu had thought his contract with KEYE would end in November. But the station kept him on, doing the early morning news. And now KEYE has given him more time, he said."

* "Kitchen Kemistry" debuted on the Internet on Valentine's Day. "Hosts Natasha Lowery and Justice Banks create incredible meals then they play matchmaker and invite people who don't know each other to create a part of the meal and dine together. Will the couple hit it off? How did the meal turn out? Is there Kitchen Kemistry?" an announcement says. Executive producer is New York broadcast journalist Vanessa Tyler. "Webisodes" are viewable on YouTube and at http://www.kitchenkem.com/


* "Police in the Dominican Republic last Friday used a SWAT team to raid the home and offices of a prominent journalist as part of an investigation into an alleged spying scandal targeting high-ranking public officials," Scott Griffen wrote Wednesday for the International Press Institute. "The journalist in question, Guillermo Gómez, producer of the television program Aeromundo and owner of the digital newspaper El Siglo 21, called the raids 'a crude attack on freedom of expression in the Dominican Republic,' according to national media reports."

* "February is the hottest month in Juba, the capital of South Sudan," the world's newest nation, "and Mading Ngor, a reporter and presenter for the Catholic-owned Bakhita FM, trudged his way through the heat to cover parliament proceedings last week — only to be thrown unceremoniously out of the assembly," Tom Rhodes reported Tuesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. . . . "The ensuing furor included apologies, a protest, an opinion column, a committee investigation, parliamentary debate, the banning of Ngor from the assembly, and finally, a parliamentary call to revive deliberations over three media bills originally drafted five years ago."


What Journalists Can Learn From Whitney Houston's Death

Roy Hobbs, a veteran journalist, was a weekend television anchor in Birmingham, Ala., when he was busted on drug charges in April 2010, his name splashed across local news media. "I was trying to commit suicide," Hobbs told Journal-isms later.


Entertainer Whitney Houston was found underwater and apparently unconscious in the bathtub of a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel where she was pronounced dead Saturday night, police said.

Authorities said they could not speculate on what might have caused or contributed to her death, Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein reported Monday in the Los Angeles Times, but several prescription drugs were found in Houston's hotel room.


Los Angeles County coroner's officials said it is too soon to say whether the medications played any role in the singer's death. "Authorities have said that they are trying to determine whether she drowned and that determining a cause of death could take weeks," the reporters wrote.

In reading, watching and listening to the reports about Houston, Hobbs, 58, saw parallels between his story and hers. Since his 2010 arrest, he has been in recovery, his case has been dismissed, he is newly engaged and he is "looking for a second chance."


Hobbs explains in this essay for Journal-isms.

By Roy Hobbs

The death of Whitney Houston is the cause of great pain for me. I can identify completely with her story because in many respects it mirrors mine. It is a story of professional success wrapped by disappointments in her personal life. It involves trying to live up to a perception.


I am not a superstar or a onetime sweetheart of the world. What Whitney and I had in common is that we were both addicts. As we look at her story, we might look at ourselves and do what my father tried to teach me: Walk a mile in the other man's shoes.

As journalists, we need to use this terrible loss to bring the issue of depression and addiction out of the darkness. By shining a light, we have the chance to defeat it. Those of us in recovery need to tell our stories and educate people about addiction.


We know all too well about pressures. Deadline pressures, often several times a day. Many times when the long day is done, we throw down a few. Imagine the pressure superstars like Whitney face.

I have no way of knowing all that was going on in Whitney's life, but based on news articles, I see parallels. I am in a very public position, a television news anchor/reporter, who, I am told, is very good at my job. I went through a terrible divorce, as did she with Bobby Brown. I lost my job and my income. She was allegedly broke and had lost her instrument for making a living, her voice.


Those are the seeds of depression. I know. That changes your brain chemistry if suffered for a prolonged period. Most times you don't even know you suffer from it. I didn't. It is truly a silent killer and it nearly killed me. Most family members and friends don't know you're suffering from depression, let alone what to do about it.

Was that the case for Whitney?

Like her, I am an addict. It was hard to accept that at first. It was not what  my parents, my children, my friends or I thought I would become.


Addiction is a disease. I didn't know that when I was in active addiction. I thought it was my lack of will or morals.

I fought for years with that mistaken belief. It took me to the bowels of society, and as a respected member of my community, I fought hard to hide it. But the disease took over and despite my every effort, I could not stop.


Addiction is a progressive disease. It might start out as fun, but the ends are always the same — jails, institutions or death.

I went through all three, except when I tried to kill myself, death would not take me. I thought death would free me from my pain, my shame, my hurt.


Today, I know I would only have passed all of that to my children and friends. They would have suffered all that I would have left behind.

Whitney and I could have shared that bleak outlook. But there is another significant difference between us. She never got into recovery. By the grace of God, I did. Otherwise, I too would be gone.


Something greater than me had other plans. I was fortunate enough to go into treatment. It was there that I learned that I suffered from major depression. I was put on medication and it made a difference.

I learned that addicts don't have what "Earth" people have in their brains. "Earth" people have a green "go" button and a red "stop" button. Addicts have only a green "go" button. Once we start, we can't stop.


Based on what I have learned about Whitney, she might not have had a red "stop" button. Recognizing that is the first step to recovery, I cannot do what “Earth” people do. I needed to join a self-help group to be around people like me and hear their experience, gaining strength and hope.

News reports say Whitney went to rehab twice, yet during Grammy week celebrations, she was drinking.


I don't know where Whitney was spiritually, but I had to seek out a  connection with a power greater than myself. Some choose to call that a connection with God. I needed that because active addiction left me spiritually empty. Those were just the first steps because I will be an addict for the rest of my life. The difference now is I am a recovering addict. Has it been easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.

It hurt me deeply when I learned that Whitney Houston passed away. What hurts me most of all was that she was not in recovery, because I know she was experiencing deep pain. I pray that she has found her peace outside of her imperfect human body. I pray that she is surrounded with love.


I hope we as journalists write stories that give people hope that they can recover their lives. Show us people who are doing just that.

Who knows how many can be saved?

Roy Hobbs can be reached at hobbscom (at) gmail.com.

* Sil Lai Abrams, Ebony.com: Addiction: the Stranger in the Family

* Chris Ariens, TVNewser: ‘World News’ to Run Extended Portions of 2002 Whitney Houston Interview


* James Crugnale, mediaite.com: Tony Bennett Calls For Legalization Of Drugs Following Whitney Houston’s Death

* Davey D, hiphopandpolitics.com: If We Wanna Honor Whitney, How About We End Addictions?


* Natalie Finn, Baker Machado and Claudia Rosenbaum, eonline: How Much Was Whitney Houston Worth When She Died?

* Toni Fitzgerald, medialifemagazine.com: Huge tune-in to honor Whitney Houston

* Josh Halliday, the Guardian, U.K.: Whitney Houston album price hike sparks controversy


* Hollywood Reporter: Oprah Winfrey to Air Whitney Houston Special on OWN

* "koolking83," Chicago Now blog: We learn from Whitney Houston's drug addiction, not her voice


* Brent Lang, the Wrap.com: Whitney Houston's Death: Why the Media Sidestepped the Lurid Details

* Mike McClanahan, cbs42.com, Birmingham, Ala.: News anchor recounts battle with addiction


* Mark Anthony Neal with Amy Goodman, "Democracy Now!" Pacifica Radio: Whitney Houston Remembered for Unprecedented Crossover Success

* Gene Seymour, CNN: Whitney Houston, special from the start

* Alex Weprin, TVNewser: Whitney Houston Death Drives Viewers to Cable News, CNN In Particular


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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.