Abramson, Baquet Rise at New York Times

Dean Baquet (Getty)
Dean Baquet (Getty)

Executive Editor Bill Keller Stepping Down to Write

Jill Abramson and Dean Baquet — a white woman and a black man — will lead the newsroom of the New York Times, the newspaper announced on Thursday, reporting that Abramson, a former investigative reporter and Washington bureau chief, will become the paper’s executive editor, and Baquet, the Washington bureau chief, will become the new managing editor.


"Executive Editor Bill Keller is stepping down to become a full-time writer for the paper," Jeremy W. Peters wrote.

"As managing editor since 2003, Ms. Abramson has been one of Mr. Keller's two top deputies overseeing the entire newsroom. Her appointment was announced on Thursday by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the paper’s publisher and the chairman of The New York Times Company.


"Baquet was previously editor of the Los Angeles Times.

". . . In his new role, he said, he will work closely with the paper’s editors.

" 'The way I see the job is being chairman of the board for department heads, and working with them to shape the news,' Mr. Baquet said. 'I plan to spend a lot of time on the newsroom floor.'

"Mr. Baquet, who was often perceived as Ms. Abramson’s top rival for the executive editor’s job, said he had a collaborative relationship with the new editor, not a competitive one.

" 'Jill played a big role in bringing me back to the paper after I unceremoniously left the L.A. Times,' he said. 'I always thought the competitive thing was too overblown. It was too easy a story line. For the last four years, she’s been my boss. And she’s my friend. Of course we can work together.'


". . . The appointments are effective Sept. 6. John M. Geddes will continue in his role as managing editor for news operations."

". . . Ms. Abramson will be the first woman to be editor in the paper’s 160-year history. 'It’s meaningful to me,' she said of that distinction, adding, 'You stand on the shoulders of those who came before you, and I couldn’t be prouder to be standing on Bill’s shoulders.' "


The combination of Abramson and Baquet speaks to the changes that have taken place at the Times — and in the nation — since the 1970s, when restless women and black journalists at the Times complained about their lack of progress and sought legal redress.

In 1972, 50 women on the daily and Sunday news staffs delivered a five-page letter to management, "setting out in dramatic detail the sorry lot of female workers at a newspaper whose public image — whose image of itself was that of a liberal and benevolent institution," the late Times journalist Nan Robertson wrote in her 1992 book, "The Girls in the Balcony: Women, Men, and The New York Times."


The case eventually became a class-action suit on behalf of about 550 women, settled out of court in 1978 with a $350,000 cash settlement, which averaged just $454 for each of the women. The Times also agreed to implement an affirmative action program under court decree for four years.

The Times has since had its first woman editorial page editor in Gail Collins, who held the job from 2001 to 2007, and in Janet Robinson, its first female president and CEO of the New York Times Co.


The conservative Media Research Center was quick to note that Abramson co-authored a book on the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas sexual harassment charges, and Eleanor Smeal, publisher of Ms. magazine and president of the Feminist Majority, called Abramson "an accomplished feminist" and said her appointment "smashes a barrier to women's achievement in print and digital media."

As with the women employees, the Times was also hit with a discrimination suit by people of color, led by commerical employees but eventually joined by some in the newsroom. This, too, was settled out of court.


The late Gerald M. Boyd was named the paper's first black managing editor in 2001 but was forced to resign in 2003 along with top editor Howell Raines after the Jayson Blair plagiarism and fabrication scandal. At services for Boyd, colleagues said the pressure of being an African American in such a role helped to kill him. "Gerald's job was not only to publish a good newspaper but to carry the weight of his race and to represent his race every single moment he walked into the paper. That's a brutal weight to carry," his colleague Bernard Weinraub said.

"Jill and Dean together is a powerful team," Keller said in Thursday's Times story. "Jill’s been my partner in keeping The Times strong through years of tumult. At her right hand she will have someone who ran a great American newspaper, and ran it through tough times. That’s a valuable skill to have."


". . . Mr. Keller, who ran the newsroom during eight years of great journalistic distinction but also declining revenue and cutbacks throughout the industry, said that with a formidable combination in place to succeed him, he felt it was a good time to step aside."

No successor to Baquet as Washington bureau chief was named.

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Journal-isms that while there is no mandatory retirement age for senior news executives, there is a "longstanding tradition" that they retire at the end of their 65th year. Keller is 62, Baquet is 54 and Abramson is 57.


*Joshua Benton, Nieman Journalism Lab: Meet the new boss: Jill Abramson’s NYT ascent and its potential impact on the digital side of the Times

*Michael Calderone,  Huffington Post: Jill Abramson, Just-Named New York Times Editor, Ready To 'Seize The Future'


*Jon Friedman, Marketwatch: New York Times’s new editor faces 3 key issues

*Jill Geisler, Poynter Institute: What Jill Abramson’s appointment as NY Times executive editor could mean for women in journalism


*Keach Hagey, Politico: New York Times shakes up its masthead

*Tom McGeveran, capitalnewyork.com: When Jill Abramson was the only grown-up in the Times building


*Chris O'Shea, FishbowlNY: With Jill Abramson at The Helm, Expect a Digital Focus

*Scott Raab, Esquire: Exclusive Q&A: Bill Keller on Leaving the Times, Fox & More


*Mallary Jean Tenore, Poynter Institute: Collins on Abramson’s appointment: 'Maybe we’ve reached the ultimate goal of the women’s movement'

Scott-Heron Service Streamed Online

Poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron leaves some family members who were not involved in planning Thursday's memorial service at New York's Riverside Church.


Other Family Members Planning Later Tribute

A memorial service for spoken word musician Gil Scott-Heron took place at New York's Riverside Church on Thursday morning, but apparently it will be only the first such service.


The tribute was planned by a Scott-Heron daughter, Gia Scott-Heron, and his former wife, Brenda Sykes, church spokeswoman Allison Davis told Journal-isms.

It was not open to the public and the news media, Davis said. The streaming will be available at http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?id=201E45AF20 after the service for those who missed the live broadcast. Davis is a former broadcast journalist and a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.


Scott-Heron, 62, died on Friday of undisclosed causes. He leaves other family members who were not involved in planning the Thursday service and cannot be at Riverside Church, according to Lurma Rackley, an Atlanta-based writer and former journalist and mother of Scott-Heron's son, Rumal Rackley.

Lurma Rackley said some of those family members are planning a service late this month or early in July, with "representatives of the music industry, the political world and parts of his life that need to be represented in a tribute of this sort." We are "trying to reach out to a range of people," she said.


Those participating are expected to include Dennis Heron, Scott-Heron's brother; Larry MacDonald, who played percussion with Scott-Heron; Jamie Byng, Scott-Heron's British publisher; and others.

Besides Rumal Rackley, Scott-Heron "also has three daughters from other relationships: Raqyiyah Kelly Heron, 34, who lives in New York; Gia Scott-Heron, 31, of Los Angeles; and Chegianna Newton, 13, who lives in London and goes by the name Che, after the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara," columnist Courtland Milloy wrote in Wednesday's Washington Post.


*Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer: Remembering Gil Scott-Heron

*Glen Ford, blackagendareport.com: Gil [Scott-Heron]: Winters and Revolutions in America


*Patrice Gaines, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Gil Scott-Heron Remembered as Tortured Genius

*Patrice Gaines, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Services Set for Gil Scott-Heron, Tributes Pour In


*Mark Jenkins, Washington Post: In concert: Gil Scott-Heron tribute at Bohemian Caverns

*Linda Jones blog: My Gil Scott-Heron memorial moment

*Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: No turning back Gil Scott-Heron’s sad life

*David Squires, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.: Farewell to a smooth messenger

*Greg Tate, Village Voice: Gil Scott-Heron, R.I.P.

Outrage Over Torture-Killing of Pakistani Journalist

"Hundreds of mourners turned out Wednesday for the burial of a Pakistan journalist who was tortured and said he was threatened by the country’s intelligence services, as his colleagues demanded protection," Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported.


"Saleem Shahzad, a 40-year-old father of three, vanished after leaving home in Islamabad to appear on a television talk show, two days after writing an article about links between rogue elements of the navy and al Qaeda.

"His grief-stricken relatives have demanded a full investigation but have not apportioned blame for his killing, which came five years after he was briefly kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan and accused of being a spy.


"Shahzad’s body was found Tuesday, about 150 kilometres southeast of Islamabad. Police said it bore marks of torture.

Shahzad was Pakistan bureau chief of Asia Times Online, a Hong Kong-based news website, columnist Zoha Waseem wrote for the Express Tribune in Pakistan. He disappeared from Islamabad on May 29, "just days after publishing an article for the Asia Times which implicated that officials in the Pakistani Navy had links with al Qaeda (The second part of Saleem Shahzad’s report, ‘Recruitment and training of militants’, is yet to be published on Asia Times Online).


"For those not familiar with Shahzad, he was an investigative reporter who wrote extensively on issues pertaining to global security, especially Pakistani armed forces and religious movements in the Muslim world."

The Dawn report continued, "Around 300 people, mostly relatives and journalists, attended the funeral prayers and Shahzad was buried in a local cemetery in his home town of Karachi.


". . . The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists announced two days of mourning and a spokesman said members would organise protests nationwide on Friday."

ABC News added, "Though militants are often suspected in the deaths of journalists in Pakistan, after Shahzad's death both a colleague of his and a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Pakistan came forward to say Shahzad had said in past months he felt threatened by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.


"A spokesperson for the ISI told The Associated Press any alleged link between the ISI and Shahzad's death was 'absurd' and Shahzad's brother-in-law said 'never was there any threat,' according to a report by National Public Radio. Pakistan's Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, visited Shahzad's home to offer his condolences and told reporters it was possible the journalist was killed over a personal matter."

The Voice of America said, "Pakistan was the deadliest country for journalists in 2010, with at least eight killed in the line of duty, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Six died in suicide attacks, the group said in a report late last year.


"CPJ's Asia program coordinator, Bob Dietz said he showed Pakistani President [Asif] Ali Zardari a long list of killed journalists just a month ago. But little was done in response."

". . . U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also strongly condemned Shahzad's killing and welcomed Pakistan's probe. She said the journalist's reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues exposed the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan's stability."


*Karin Brulliard, Washington Post: Pakistan’s spy agencies are suspected of ties to reporter’s death

*Committee to Protect Journalists: Getting Away With Murder: CPJ’s 2011 Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and killers go free *Reporters Without Borders: Asia Times reporter found dead in car 48 hours after going missing


Another Reporter Tortured, This One in Bahrain

"When Nazeeha Saeed, the Bahrain correspondent of France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya, was summoned to a police station in the city of Rifa’a for questioning at midday on 22 May, she expected to be back home two hours later and had no inkling of the nightmare awaiting her," Reporters Without Borders reported on Monday.


"On arriving at the police station, she took a seat and waited calmly. Other women, mainly nurses, were also waiting, sitting on the floor.

"An hour later, she was called. She entered an office where there was a male officer. In a quiet but unsettling voice, he told her to answer the questions that would be put to her. He then left her with a female officer, who [accused] her of 'lying' in her reports and told her to admit her links with the Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar and the Iranian Arabic-language TV station Al-Alam. 'You must confess,' the woman kept repeating, going on to accuse her of participating in the pro-democracy demonstrations that have taking place in Bahrain since March. . . ."


The piece goes on to detail Saeed's torture and humiliation and says, "She is currently in France receiving medical care and is due to return to Bahrain tomorrow."

Reporters Without Borders concluded, "This young woman’s case gives a glimpse of the treatment of journalists by security forces in Bahrain. The list of detained reporters, photographers and cyber-dissidents keeps on getting longer amid complete indifference on the part of the international community." *Mona Alami, Inter-Press Service: Media War Blurs Picture in Syria


Christopher Farley to Edit Wall Street Journal Blogs

Christopher Farley, who has edited the Speakeasy section of the Wall Street Journal website, has been promoted to editorial director for the Wall Street Journal blogs, Managing Editor Robert Thomson announced to the staff on Tuesday.


"Over the past 18 months, Chris has built Speakeasy into one of the most popular destinations on WSJ.com, thanks to clever posts, puckish essays and ceaseless creativity," Thomson wrote in a memo.

"As editorial director for the blogs, Chris, who will continue to edit Speakeasy, will work with our bloggers to maximize the quality and impact of their efforts. He will serve as their representative in discussions with our technology and business colleagues, and bring new blogs blinking into the world.


"Chris's appointment comes amid ongoing efforts to improve our platform and to expand our use of blogging and liveblogging. Readership of WSJ blogs continues to expand rapidly, with traffic up well over 50% from last year.

"Prior to editing Speakeasy, Chris was an editor for the Marketplace section and Weekend. Along with members of the video team, he helped launch the WSJ Cafe, an acoustic music series that has featured performances by Adele, Jakob Dylan, Sarah McLachlan, John Legend and others. Chris is the author of two novels and a number of non-fiction books (including 'Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley' and the bestseller 'Aaliyah: More Than a Woman'). He was also the co-author and co-editor of the 'The Blues', the companion volume to the Martin Scorsese documentary series. A former senior editor and pop music critic for Time magazine, Chris is a graduate of Harvard."


"Pool" Photographer Will Shoot White House Speeches

"The White House and news photographers have agreed to a new plan for shooting presidential speeches," the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.


"The agreement, hammered out quietly last week between the White House’s press office and the White House Correspondents’ Association, ends the long-standing but little-known practice of presidents posing for news photos after making important announcements. The images were then passed off in newspapers and on Web sites as photos taken during the speech rather than the re-creations they actually were.

". . . news photographers will now be permitted to designate a single representative to act as a 'pool' for the entire press corps."


GOP's Herman Cain Deserves Coverage as a Good Story

"Herman Cain’s probably not a serious candidate. That doesn’t mean the press shouldn’t cover him.


"If you headed out early for the Memorial Day weekend, you probably missed an interesting bit of blogosphere back-and-forth about how seriously to take Herman Cain’s run for the White House — and, more broadly, about how the press should cover presidential campaigns," Greg Marx wrote Tuesday for Columbia Journalism Review.

"Cain, for people who haven’t heard of him — which means most people — is an African-American pizza chain CEO-turned-conservative talk show host who has mounted a seemingly quixotic but, to date, surprisingly successful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. A Gallup poll released Thursday had him attracting 8 percent of the vote in the GOP field. A CNN survey out the next day gave him 10 percent, and Talking Points Memo reports that a PPP survey of Ohio Republicans puts his support there even higher, at 12 percent.


". . . So why does Cain’s campaign merit press coverage? For one thing, even on weighty issues — and issues don’t get much weightier than presidential elections — journalists should be alert to good stories, whether or not they are likely to 'matter' in a conventional sense. And, as Jason Horowitz has just shown with a profile in The Washington Post, Herman Cain is a good story. The son of a [chauffeur], he became the first college graduate in his family and went on to a very successful business career. He is, with some justification, entertainingly self-confident. (From Horowitz: 'Being an overachiever, Cain said, "is an understatement." ') He refers to himself in the third person, and goes by THEHermancain on Twitter.

"More substantively, a campaign like Cain’s, even if not a real threat to win, can provide a window to important issues."


*Michael Arceneaux, theGrio.com: Is Herman Cain playing 'plantation politics'?

*Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Santorum gets as little respect as support


*Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Citizen Cain: He's able but unelectable

*Pew Research Center: Top Reaction to GOP Field — "Unimpressed"

*Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The GOP’s self-destruction derby

*Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?


*Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Voting Rights Act: I was wrong about racial gerrymandering

*Tonyaa Weathersbee, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Herman Cain Suits Conservatives to a Tea Party


*Jack White, theRoot.com: Forecasting a Nasty 2012 Campaign

*David Zurawick, Baltimore Sun: Steele says he won't be MSNBC's 'punching bag'

In Farewell, NPR Ombudsman Urges More On-Air Diversity

In her farewell column as NPR's ombudsman Wednesday, Alicia Shepard included this among her "laundry list of areas I perceive NPR could improve on:

". . . Work harder to get more voices of women and people of color (including academics and other experts) on the air. They ARE out there; you have to work harder to find them. Margaret Low Smith, now the acting vice president for news, said last September in Current (the public broadcasting newsletter), that 'public radio needs to sound more like a party where everyone is included.' I agree.


"But the invitation list is still pretty much limited to highly educated white folks with money. Why would Hispanics or African Americans (each only about 8 percent of the audience) listen to NPR if they don't hear themselves represented on the air? It frustrates me to hear endless white males quoted in stories and not more women in positions of authority."

Short Takes

*Janice Min, "who took over US Weekly from Bonnie Fuller in 2003, brought a strong sense of packaging along with a deft high-low touch, and she doubled its circulation by the time she left in 2009," David Carr wrote Monday in the New York Times. "Then, improbably, she moved to Los Angeles 10 months ago to remake The Hollywood Reporter, a down-on-its-luck daily trade magazine that was losing a horse-and-buggy race with Variety. The competition seemed a little beside the point at a time when Web personalities like Nikki Finke were terrorizing and fascinating the industry." But, Carr writes, Min's vision "seems to be working."

*"On June 6, the 2012 Presidential election dispute begins and CNN en Español will broadcast a special coverage called Voto Latino 2012 (Hispanic Vote 2012), led by anchor Juan Carlos López and the political team of Directo USA from Washington," CNN en Español announced on Tuesday. "This coverage will take viewers through the process of what is anticipated will be the most expensive Presidential election in history with more than 20 million voters, and in which the Hispanic community will play a key role in the outcome."


*CNN anchor Don Lemon said black women have been supportive since he came out as gay last month in connection with his memoir, "Transparent." He told Jozen Cummings of Black Voices on Tuesday, "You know what's funny? Women are like, 'I don't care if you're gay, I still want to marry you. I can still fantasize, because I wasn't in a relationship with you before, so I'm going to keep my fantasy going.' You should read my feed on Twitter or Facebook. I think women get it. People appreciate honesty and that's what I'm walking in."

*In New York, "Veteran reporter Mario Diaz has joined WPIX," Jerry Barmash reported for FishbowlNY. "Diaz, who has roots in the New York area, brings more than 20 years of broadcast journalism to the PIX 11 News at Ten. . . . In 1999, he was the focus of a New York Times feature surrounding his successful penetration of the highly competitive sports broadcasting industry. Diaz continues his relationship with HBO, and has worked as a blow-by-blow announcer and host for ESPN."


*Returning from Cuba, USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham concluded Tuesday that "when it comes to Cuba, the State Department remains stuck in the past."

*James C. Duff, chief administrative officer of the U. S. court system, Tuesday was named president and chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, "which operates the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue and is one of the nation’s leading foundations dedicated to the First Amendment and media issues." Duff, 57, was managing partner of the Washington office of the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. "While at the Baker firm Duff served as counsel and secretary to the Freedom Forum and its related entities, the Newseum, First Amendment Center and Diversity Institute," the Freedom Forum said. 


*"Oprah ended the 25-year run of her talk show last week, and her magazine has taken full advantage," Lucia Moses wrote Tuesday for AdWeek. "The June issue of O, the Oprah Magazine is a tribute to the show, including a look back at its high points and a walk down memory lane with Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King. . . . The magazine is hoping that it will actually see a lift in subscriptions from the show’s end, as a place fans can get their Oprah fix."

*"A drug gang leader confessed on Sunday to killing Mexican reporter Noel López Olguín, a columnist for a small newspaper in the state of Veracruz who went missing in March, according to local press reports," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Tuesday. "Gustavo Salas, the Mexican federal attorney general's special prosecutor for crimes against freedom of expression, told CPJ on Tuesday that his office is taking up the case."


*Moammar Gaddafi "has pledged to co-operate with South African authorities in finding photo journalist Anton Hammerl's body, the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Tuesday," according to BuaNews in Tshwane, South Africa. "Hammerl was killed in the Libyan Desert on April 5, near the town of Brega, reportedly by pro-[Gaddafi] soldiers firing on him and fellow journalists."

*In Nigeria, "Media practitioners in Edo State have been commended for their genuine commitment to the overall development of the society through quality reportage," Francis Onoiribholo reported for the Daily Independent in Lagos. Welcoming the executive council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, the state's monarch said he "appreciated media practitioners for their commitment to the democratic practice in Nigeria and urged them to be more pro-active in their reportage, particularly through useful information dissemination that will aid relevant security agencies in the fight against violent crimes in the society."


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