Al Roker
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Weatherman Challenged Downplaying of Anniversary

Weatherman Al Roker's "Wake Up With Al" show on the Weather Channel is being canceled. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, the cancellation followed a dispute between Roker and David Clark, president of The Weather Company's TV division, over a decision to downplay the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall.


The station decided to focus, instead, on the pending arrival of Tropical Storm Erika, according to a report Wednesday in the subscription-only television news site NewsBlues. The report was based on an email exchange made publicly internally.

In another development, Vivian Brown made an emotional exit from the Weather Channel on Tuesday, announcing her sudden departure from the network where she had worked for 30 years, Mark Joyella reported for TVNewser.

"It is with great disappointment that I have to announce that this is my last TV broadcast on the Weather Channel. I don't know exactly where I'm going next," she said. "I am saying goodbye, for now."


The decision to ax Roker's show "was a financial one according to multiple reports," Jason Samenow reported Wednesday for the Washington Post. "It is the Atlanta-based network's only show out of New York City, where production costs are very high."

Nevertheless, "In an email exchange last Thursday, Roker wrote: 'I don't understand why Steph [Abrams] and I aren't together on the actual anniversary day of Katrina's landfall [in New Orleans]. There is nothing happening Saturday in Florida,' " NewsBlues reported.

"Roker argued that meteorologists Reynolds Wolf and Mike Seidel were already in South Florida, awaiting the tropical storm (which suddenly dissipated Saturday morning over Cuba).


" 'I could not disagree more with this decision,' wrote Roker. 'We will have a phalanx of people talking about a storm Saturday that our graphic will show is not possibly making landfall till Monday…if then. Viewers aren't stupid. They can see when potential landfall is, assuming it holds together.'

" 'In the meantime, there are a lot of stories to tell about Katrina while pivoting to Erika. . . .

"Roker then threw a sharp elbow at Weather Channel management. 'The reason we are in the trouble we're in is an intransigence of management when it comes to a decision and an unwillingness to pivot.'


"Roker's jab hit a nerve and his email quickly ricocheted up the management tree. 'We are juggling a lot right now,' David Clark . . . replied. 'If you disagree with a decision you are welcome to speak up, you have more than earned the right to do so, but this is out of line and not how we do things here.'

"Roker responded, 'Really David. You want to try and spank me in front of people. You want to do this?' Unfortunately, Roker hit the 'Reply to All' button and his snippy response was widely shared within The Weather Channel family.

"He then apologized. 'Folks, I want to apologize if I embarrassed anyone. I didn't mean for this to be a public argument. I replied on an cc: that I didn't mean to. We all want the same thing, best possible product, and a real outcome for our viewers. Hey, the good news is, you all read your emails.'


" 'Thank you for that Al, respect,' Clark responded. 'We are all on edge right now. Don't mind open dissent when constructive and we want your best thinking on this storm. As you say, let's get focused on making the best product and move forward and thank you for being on the team.'

"A few days later, The Weather Channel canceled 'Wake Up With Al.' Probably just a coincidence."

Through spokesmen, Roker and Clark would neither confirm nor deny the exchange.

"We (including David Clark) are not going to comment or confirm since these are private email exchanges," David Blumenthal, corporate communications senior director from the Weather Company, told Journal-isms by email.


Heather Krug, a spokeswoman for Al Roker Entertainment, referred Journal-isms to a Tuesday statement:

"I'm proud of what our Wake Up With Al team brought to the Weather Channel and completely understand the decision to move all shows to Atlanta"

"I look forward to continuing to partner with the Channel on-air and through my production company on future traditional and digital projects."


Brian Stelter added for, "Roker, best known as the affable weatherman on NBC's 'Today' show, may continue to appear on The Weather Channel, but not as a daily host. Roker wears a number of other hats — he has a production company, he writes books and he's been experimenting with shows on new social networks like Meerkat.

"Roker has been doing double duty on The Weather Channel and NBC ever since the summer of 2009. 'Wake Up with Al' was an outgrowth of NBC's part-ownership of the channel, which took effect in 2008. . . ."

Jarvis DeBerry, | the Times-Picayune Criticize George W. Bush, not the students who welcomed him to New Orleans


Phillip Martin, WGBH-FM, Boston: Do feel-good slogans like 'Resilient New Orleans' and 'Boston Strong' mask income inequality?

Photos of Drowned Toddler Too Powerful Not to Show

The European migrant crisis produced an exception Wednesday to the rule that news organizations don't show dead bodies, as images of a drowned Syrian toddler's body on a Turkish beach went viral. The images were on the evening news programs and were headed for the front pages of some Thursday newspaper print editions.


"I am using on home page and in print," Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, messaged Journal-isms Wednesday night after the Times initially decided not to show the image online. "It is a powerful illustration of the biggest story of the day."

Online, Baquet said, "we are linking to the picture of the body on the edge of the water."

On the "CBS Evening News" and "NBC Nightly News," anchors prefaced the images with cautionary remarks. "The picture we are about to show says more about the humanitarian crisis in Europe than words could ever describe," Scott Pelley told CBS viewers.


"It's rare that we have to warn you about what we're about to see," Lester Holt told the NBC audience. He called it a "searing image."

At 3:41 p.m. Wednesday, Cassandra Vinograd had written for the NBC News website, "NBC News has chosen not to display most of the images due to their graphic nature. The pictures show a child in a soaked red shirt, blue bottoms and tiny velcro-strap shoes lying face down in the sand. A Turkish policeman stands over him; in another image, the policeman cradles the body and carries the child away. . . ."

ABC News blurred the boy's face and warned viewers that the upcoming image would be harrowing.


The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post websites carried stories about the images, though a spokeswoman for the Times said there were no plans to publish the photos in the print edition. The Post published a four-column photo above the fold of a paramilitary police officer carrying the child's body. "The little victim of a growing crisis," the headline read.

According to the BBC, "An image of one of the victims — a young boy lying face down on the beach — has sparked an international outcry over the human cost of the crisis.

"The picture, released by a Turkish news agency, is trending worldwide on Twitter under the #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik ('humanity washed ashore') hashtag. . ."


Under the headline, "A dead baby becomes the most tragic symbol yet of the Mediterranean refugee crisis," Ishaan Tharoor wrote in the Post, "The images, some of which appear above, show a tiny toddler lying lifeless on the sand. In others, we see a police officer picking up the corpse of a baby. The most heart-breaking one is a close-up of a drowned infant, his body so still and doll-like that he could be sleeping. It's not pictured above, but you can see it here [scroll down] and elsewhere on social media, where it has become a tragic meme. . . ."

Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute wrote about the ethics of showing dead bodies in 2002 in discussing a photo of a 15-year-old robbery victim lying dead on the pavement in Hampton, Va.

"Running the photo raised these concerns," Steele wrote.

"Readers would be offended and perhaps very angry with the paper.

"The photo would be invasive and harmful to the family members of the teen-age boy who died."


One factor in such cases is whether family members are part of the audience, a distinction that makes it easier to use such photos when they are taken overseas. The Daily Press in Newport News, Va., concerned about "re-victimizing the family," sought family approval before running the photo of the 15-year-old.

In a 2012 case, discussing a deadly shooting at the Empire State Building, Jeff Sonderman wrote for Poynter:

"Here are questions to consider before publishing these images, drawn from Al Tompkins' suggestions for handling graphic photos of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.


"What is the real journalistic value of the photographs? What do they prove and why are they news? Do they dispel or affirm information the public had prior to seeing the images?

"What is the tone and degree of the usage? Television should, for example, avoid the repeated and extended use of these images and be thoughtful about how they are used in headlines, over the shoulder graphics and teases, especially in afternoon or primetime television programming.

"How will you warn the audience? How will you explain your decisions the public?"


Sheena Goodyear, CBC News: Migrant crisis: Should pictures of a drowned Syrian boy be shared on social media?

Kristen Hare, Poynter Institute: Why The New York Times is traveling with migrants and refugees through Europe

Terry Moran, ABC News "Nightline": How a Refugee Family Desperate to Get to Germany Was Smuggled from Syria to Greece


Helena Smith, the Guardian: Shocking images of drowned Syrian boy show tragic plight of refugees

Somini Sengupta, New York Times: Migrant or Refugee? There Is a Difference, With Legal Implications (Aug. 27)

Trump Lashes Out at Abdul-Jabbar After Critical Essay

"This morning, an essay of mine was published titled,'This is the Difference Between Donald Trump andBernie Sanders,' " Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post.


"Trump's response to my piece is the best, though inelegant, support for my claims.

"Here again, he attacks a journalist who disagrees with him, not by disputing the points made but by hurling schoolyard insults such as 'nobody likes you.' Look behind the nasty invective and you find an assault on the Constitution in the effort to silence the press through intimidation. The full text is below. . . ."

Writing for the Times-Picayune, Jarvis De Berry blogged:

"Two thoughts occurred to me:

"1) A man who feels compelled to respond to every slight is a man whose hands you want far away from the button.


"2) Trump's arms are way too short to box with Kareem."

Paul Farhi, Washington Post: The media’s love-hate relationship with Donald Trump

Errol Louis, Daily News, New York: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton & angry outsiders: Wrestling with movements is one of the toughest jobs in American politics


Mekahlo Medina, National Association of Hispanic Journalists: NAHJ Urges News Media to Stop Using Dehumanizing Terms When Covering Immigration During Presidential Debate

"Morning Joe," MSNBC: Most Trump supporters think Obama a Muslim: poll (video)

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Christie would deliver us overnight to lunacy


N’Kosi Oates, Ebony: 'Anchor Baby' Is the New 'Crack Baby'

Roque Planas, HuffPost LatinoVoices: 8 Terms That Are Way Better Than The Slur 'Anchor Baby'

Jessica Torres, Media Matters for America: Measuring The "Trump Effect" On The GOP Brand For Latino Voters


Marcela Valdes, New York Times: Jorge Ramos Is Not Walter Cronkite

Station Uploads Video of Fatal Police Shooting of Citizen

"Texas television station KSAT is coming under withering criticism from a sheriff's office for uploading an amateur video of a police-involved shooting," Brian Stelter reported Tuesday for


" 'Broadcasting a man's death for $100 has sparked threats to our deputies' lives,' the Bexar County Sheriff's Office said in a tweet that urged people to call the TV station and complain.

"At the same time, some viewers are thanking the San Antonio station for its action and wondering why the video wasn't published sooner.

"The video shows Gilbert Flores being shot and killed by police officers who responded to a domestic disturbance call coming from his home last Friday.


"According to the authorities, Flores resisted arrest and nonlethal techniques were used before guns were drawn.

"KSAT, a CNN affiliate, said it received the video from a witness, Michael Thomas, who recorded it from a distance. The station's managers initially decided not to show the moment of the shooting.

"But that changed on Monday after the sheriff's office and the district attorney's office said they were aware of the video and confirmed Flores's identity. . . ."


Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic: There Is No Ferguson Effect

Frank Eltman, Associated Press: Citizens taking video of police see themselves facing arrest

Alex Griswold, Mediaite: #BlackLivesMatter Leader: 'Pigs in a Blanket' Chant Was Just 'Playful'


Mike Hashimoto, Dallas Morning News: Body cams will help police and citizens, but recognize the rough spots

Jesse J. Holland, Associated Press: Black Lives Matter movement faces new challenges as its national prominence grows

David Ibanez and Chris Henao,, San Antonio: KSAT.COM EXCLUSIVE: Unedited video of fatal deputy-involved shooting


Jeanne Jakle, San Antonio Express-News: KSAT-TV explains its handling of shooting video

Chenjerai Kumanyika, NPR "Code Switch": A White Teen Was Killed By A Cop And No One Took To The Streets. Is That A Problem?

Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: A gathering in Euclid joins the conversation on community policing issues


Vann R. Newkirk II, I’m a black activist. Here's what people get wrong about Black Lives Matter.

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Safeguard yourself by recording police

James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: Can we say 'all lives matter' and mean it?

Daniel Rivero, Fusion: Lawyers are finding rewarding work in police brutality cases, and also money


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Anchor Tells Viewers Why She Says It the Spanish Way

When Hispanic journalists working in English-language television meet, the question of Spanish accents sometimes comes up.


"Don't roll your Rs too much," even if that's the way the word is pronounced in Spanish, one member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists said she was told when the issue was raised two years ago at an NAHJ convention.

In a newscast Monday at KLNX-TV in Phoenix, anchor Vanessa Ruiz drew viewers into the pronunciation conversation.

"During Monday's newscast of 12 News at 10 p.m., I took an opportunity to say:

"Thank you, Phoenix," Ruiz wrote on the KLNX-TV website.

"Thank you for welcoming me so warmly into your community and extending many words of support and encouragement. I truly appreciate it all and it's what has helped make Arizona truly feel like home in such a short time since my arrival.


"I seized the moment to address some viewer inquiries wondering why I pronounce certain words in Spanish in just that — Spanish.

"I was raised speaking both languages and for me, certain words just sound better when said in their natural way. It really is that simple.

"Nothing more, nothing less.

"Let me be clear: My intention has never been to be disrespectful or dismissive, quite the contrary. I actually feel I am paying respect to the way some of Arizona's first, original settlers intended for some things to be said.


"I know it may surprise some of you and maybe even rub some people the wrong way. I get it and know I am always open to engage in thoughtful dialogue about it.

"I don't intend to come to Phoenix and do things 'my way,' however my goal is to stay authentic to who I am while, hopefully, making our newscasts more open and inclusive to everyone, no matter where they come from."

Stephanie McNeal, BuzzFeed: This News Anchor Just Shut Down The Haters Who Criticized Her For Her Accent


Who Says Vester Flanagan Was Mentally Ill?

"Who knew that 'crazy people' were such a problem!" Robert David Jaffee wrote Wednesday for the Huffington Post.

"The late neurologist Oliver Sacks, who passed away on Sunday, enriched all of our lives by showing in exquisite prose that people with severe neurological and psychiatric disorders not only have deficits; many of us have beautiful gifts.


"With his extraordinary compassion and insight, Sacks understood that his patients were individuals and that each had his or her own idiosyncratic trajectory. Some of his patients were able to transmute what seemed like a curse into a blessing.

"And yet if you listen to the recent televised discussions on mass shootings, you would think that those of us with serious mental-health diagnoses are responsible for most of the tragic shootings that occur in this country.

"I have been listening and not listening for days to the talking heads in the wake of the murders of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, two young and promising broadcasters, based in Roanoke, Virginia. As we all know, they were gunned down by Vester Flanagan, a disgruntled former colleague at WDBJ. . . ."


Jaffee also wrote, "Vester Flanagan was many things, but he was not mentally ill.

"Flanagan was a poor journalist, who was reprimanded for his shoddy performance as a broadcaster. He was a former model, who liked to preen. He blamed his problems at work and elsewhere on the jealousies of others and on the fact that he was black and gay, rather than look deeply inside himself at his own contribution to his problems.

"But more than anything else, Flanagan had a rage problem. He meticulously planned his 'social media murder.' And after he had committed it, he showed zero remorse. He went so far as to urge people to go to Facebook so that they could see the murders he had just carried out.


"Flanagan obviously craved attention; he wanted to be a celebrity, to gain his Warhol-esque 15 minutes of fame.

"As I have written for years now, a person who plans violent crimes for which he shows no remorse is not mentally ill; he is an evil person.

"And, yes, evil exists. . . ."

Zenitha Prince, Afro-American Newspapers: U.S. Department of Health Sees Glimmers of Hope in Mental Health Status of Blacks


Brian Stelter, CNNMoney: After murders, colleagues and rivals rush to side of Virginia's WDBJ

Mark Washburn, Charlotte (N.C.) Observer: Virginia killer had applied at WBTV

Harris Faulkner Sues Toy Company Over Use of Name

"The six-time News Emmy winner is not happy at all about the 'demeaning and insulting' Hasbro toy hamster that has both her name and, she claims, her look," Dominic Patten wrote Tuesday for Deadline Hollywood.


"In fact, Fox News Channel’s Harris Faulkner is taking the world's third-biggest toy manufacturer to court for $5 million  . . .  under trademark law for false endorsement and unfair competition as well as violation of her right of publicity. In addition to the financial damages, the Outnumbered co-anchor wants a full accounting of how much Hasbro has made off the toy and the company stopped from making and selling any more of that Harris Faulkner.

"Let’s be honest — Harris Faulkner is not the most common name around and the journalist has been in the public eye for many years before Hasbro introduced the toy as part of its Little Pet Shop line back in 2014. In fact, Faulkner's lawyers say she put Hasbro on notice about the matter in January this year but nothing happened. . . ."

AM Broadcasters Want Action on Access to FM Dial

"As we approach yet another Radio Show (Atlanta 9/30-10/1), despite what appears to be universal agreement that it needs to be fixed, broadcasters are still waiting for the FCC to follow through with its plan to revitalize the AM radio dial," RadioInk reported Tuesday.


"There's been a lot of chatter about it from the FCC. There's been a lot of fancy speeches about it from the FCC. And there's been a lot of promises made by the FCC that AM radio will be fixed so it can compete in the modern media world. And AM broadcasters wait….and wait…and wait. . . ."

Much of the discussion has turned to FM translators, which enable AM stations to broadcast on the FM dial.

RadioInk added, "So why are minority broadcasters ticked at the current Chairman? The CEOs of 50 minority-owned AM radio licensees, (140 stations in all), have written a letter to FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler voicing their displeasure with his decision not to open an FM translator window for AM broadcasters.


The letter states, 'Any other approach will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for AM stations, including many of our own, to obtain the translators they urgently need to remain competitive and provide our communities with the service they deserve. If the Commission truly aims to advance minority broadcast ownership, and to fulfill its goal of revitalizing AM radio, it should promptly open an FM translator filing window that is limited to AM licensees. . . ."

Olympics Not Factored in for NABJ-NAHJ Convention

Next year's joint convention of the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists will overlap with the Summer Olympic Games, but that was not factored into the choice of convention dates, NABJ Executive Director Darryl R. Matthews Sr. said Wednesday.


The joint convention is to be held Aug. 3-7, 2016, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington. The 2016 Summer Olympic Games are scheduled from Aug. 5 to Aug. 21 in Rio de Janeiro, diverting some news organizations' attention and resources from the journalists convention.

"Reached out to the meeting planner who helped us facilitate the RFP [request for proposal] and site visits, he reminded me that we were only told to stay away from sweeps week," Matthews said by email. "The date of the Olympics was never a factor in consideration of the planning process by [either] group."

Bob Butler and Hugo Balta were presidents of NABJ and NAHJ, respectively, when the convention documents were signed. "I wasn't part of that discussion," Balta messaged.


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Short Takes

"NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt is on a roll, winning its fifth week in row in all measurements and growing the audience double digits compared to the same week last year," Chris Ariens reported Tuesday for TVNewser.


"Two weeks after the Obama administration granted Royal Dutch Shell permission to resume drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean for the first time since 2012[,] President Obama threw a bit of a bone to Native people and changed the name of 'Mount McKinley' back to the Athabascan name 'Denali,' " Gyasi Ross wrote Wednesday for Indian Country Today Media Network. "Really, the name change wasn't a big deal. In all honesty, it was merely a 'correction.' To me, this was just one of the tiniest of micro-corrections that Alaskans of all colors wanted — and as far as I am concerned, this was NOT a 'Native issue' at all. . . ."

"After news broke that Sen. Barbara Mikulski would vote to support the Iran Deal, all but securing passage of a key Obama foreign policy initiative, PBS Newshour anchor Gwen Ifill re-tweeted a White House-backed account supporting the deal, adding her own comment. 'Take that Bibi,' Ifill wrote on the Tweet," Chris Ariens reported Wednesday for TVNewser. "The line seems to mock Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is vehemently against the deal. Critics immediately took the tweet (which she called an inadvertent poke) to mean that Ifill herself supports the deal, which she tried to explain away . . ." PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler wrote of Ifill, "She explained, in an email to me and in a tweet to many others, that she was 'RT'ing a @TheIranDeal tweet,' and added that she 'should have been clearer that it was their argument, not mine.' . 
. ."

"During last year's Visa pour l'Image festival here, dramatic images by North Vietnamese photographers of the war with the United States were exhibited with great fanfare," James Estrin reported from Perpignan, France, Wednesday for the New York Times "Lens" blog. Estrin also wrote, "A subsequent investigation by the New York Times Lens blog . . . confirmed that two images . . . were digitally altered in a way inconsistent with New York Times standards. . . ."


"James White, a longtime public radio newscaster, died Aug. 13 of pancreatic cancer, according to Dolores Wynn, his sister. He was 60," Tyler Falk reported for "White spent most of his broadcasting career at WAMU in Washington, D.C., where he filled various host and producer roles over 24 years. . . . Recently, White worked as a part-time host and producer at WYPR in Baltimore, where he hosted local All Things Considered airings. He also hosted pledge drives for Maryland Public Television. . . ."

"With the expansion of broadcast networks, the rise of heavily trafficked niche outlets, and ever-popular local coverage, sports journalism is one of the few beats that can be called a media growth industry," Anna Clark reported Tuesday for Columbia Journalism Review. "That’s why universities are recalibrating to train students for the field." In its survey of sports journalism programs, however, Clark's piece did not mention the Journalism and Sports program at historically black Morehouse College or the yawning racial imbalance between players and sports journalists that the Morehouse program is designed to address. Nor were sports journalists of color depicted.

Master Tesfatsion, who covers the Minnesota Vikings for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, has been hired by the Washington Post to join the three-person team covering the Washington NFL team, Post editors said in a staff memo Wednesday.


The Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday it "welcomes today's court decision in Thailand to acquit two journalists of criminal defamation and cybercrime charges. Phuketwan journalists Alan Morison, an Australian national, and Chutima Sidasathian, a Thai citizen, had each faced up to seven years in prison. . . ."