President Barack Obama delivers a prime-time address from the Cross Hall of the White House Sept. 10, 2014, in Washington, D.C.
Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

In Prime Time, Obama Declares Campaign Against Sunni Militants

Outrage at the beheading of two American journalists buttressed public support for the kind of U.S. action against terrorism outlined Wednesday night by President Obama, according to commentators analyzing the president's speech.

Advertisement

"The public has decided that people who cut off the heads of journalists are really bad," onetime House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an Obama critic and former candidate in the Republican presidential primaries, said on CNN. Others agreed.

As Mark Landler reported for the New York Times, "President Obama on Wednesday authorized a major expansion of the military campaign against rampaging Sunni militants in the Middle East, including American airstrikes in Syria and the deployment of 475 more military advisers to Iraq. But he sought to dispel fears that the United States was embarking on a repeat of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"In a speech to the nation from the State Floor of the White House, Mr. Obama said the United States was recruiting a global coalition to 'degrade and ultimately destroy' the militants, known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He warned that “eradicating a cancer” like ISIS was a long-term challenge that would put some American troops at risk.

Advertisement

" 'We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,' Mr. Obama declared in a 14-minute address. 'That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq, he added, using an alternative name for ISIS. "This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.' ISIL is an alternative name for ISIS. . . . "

On MSNBC, the Rev. Al Sharpton, a host on the network and an Obama ally, praised the president for drawing a distinction between Islam and ISIS. "That's the message he'll have to spread," Sharpton said.

Chris Ariens noted for TVNewser, "In his address, which comes on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the president mentioned by name, two journalists killed by ISIS in recent weeks.

Advertisement

" 'They execute captured prisoners, they kill children, enslave, rape and force women into marriage… and in acts of barbarism they took the lives of two American journalists, Steven Sotloff and James Foley.' . . . "

Ariens reported earlier, "All three evening newscasts will produce new West Coast broadcasts following Pres. Obama's address on ISIS tonight. For his part Scott Pelley, who is in Iraq, talks with a man who was escaped from a mass grave after being targeted by the terror group. . . ."

As the news networks were analyzing the president's speech, Black Entertainment Television was showing a Tyler Perry comedy and TV One its popular "Unsung" series on musical stars of the '60s and '70s.

Advertisement

Lucy McCalmont reported Tuesday for Politico, "More Americans are aware of the news of the recent beheading of journalist James Foley than any other major news event in the last five years, according to a new poll.

"Ninety-four percent of Americans said they heard about Foley's death at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Tuesday shows.

"The reach of Foley's death surpasses the 79 percent who said they heard about Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons in 2013, the 78 percent who said they heard of the Supreme Court's 2012 Obamacare decision, the 77 percent aware of the debt-ceiling battle, and the 68 percent who said they were aware of Oklahoma's botched execution in 2013.. . .

Advertisement

"However, while a majority of 61 percent favor military action against ISIL, an all-time low of only 32 percent approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy. . . ."

Public revulsion at the killing of journalists does not necessarily mean that the Fourth Estate is particularly well regarded. The Harris Poll asked about the prestige that average Americans associate with a variety of professions, Dave Seyler reported for Radio + Television Business Report on Wednesday.

"The professions covered that are part of the media were in the middle of the pack: Actors had a 55% prestige factor, followed by entertainers at 53% and journalists at 45%.

Advertisement

"Members of Congress were at 52%, and farmers were on par with journalists at 45%. . . ."

Pew Research Center: Growing Concern about Rise of Islamic Extremism at Home and Abroad

Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: Americans have long history of serving people in foreign countries

Advertisement

DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: Obama wise to take deliberate steps on ISIS (Sept. 8)

Owners Folding Vibe's Print Edition to Publish Online Only

"Spin Media Group eliminated 19 positions on Tuesday, C.E.O. Stephen Blackwell told Capital in a phone interview," Peter Sterne reported Thursday for capitalnewyork.com.

Advertisement

"Blackwell told Capital that Tuesday's 'reduction in force' affected about 14 percent of the company's 127 staff members — mostly in the video, photo, and sales departments.

"Some of the layoffs, he added, were due to the decision to end the print edition of Vibe, which the company acquired last year.

" 'If we're not going to be putting together print pages anymore and designing print, we really don't need those design platforms. We really don't need the capacity to negotiate with printers,' he added. . . ."

Advertisement

Vibe, founded in 1992 by Quincy Jones and Time Warner, is the best-known and most mainstream of the magazines aimed at the hip-hop generation. It folded in 2009 but was brought back by a group led by the private equity firm InterMedia Partners and its luxury magazine publisher, Uptown Media. However, Spin Media bought the publication and related websites last year, and Vibe was published quarterly.

"SpinMedia, until recently known as Buzz Media, owns or represents more than 40 sites, like Celebuzz, Idolator and JustJared, that cater to young pop-culture fans and compete with a range of sites like Gawker, TMZ, Pitchfork and BuzzFeed," Ben Sisario reported in 2013 for the New York Times. 

Vibe is not listed in the latest circulation figures for the Alliance for Audited Media, but Sisario reported last year that Vibe had an average print circulation of 301,000 for the first six months of 2012, and that SpinMedia said that each month Vibe's sites have 1.4 million visitors and serve 1.6 million video streams.

Advertisement

Johnson Publishing Co. issued the last print edition of Jet magazine in June, converting it to a digital magazine app. [Sept. 11]

No Bleeps: Offended Tyson Curses Interviewer on Live Show

Mike Tyson unleashed a string of profanity rarely heard on American television Wednesday when the former heavyweight champion was asked a question about his rape conviction during a live Toronto television interview.

Advertisement

"A day after Mr. Tyson had a high-profile meeting with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, CP24 news anchor Nathan Downer asked him: 'Some of your critics would say, "There’s a race for mayor. We know you're a convicted rapist. This could hurt his campaign." How would you respond to that?,' "Jake Edmiston and Rachel Surman reported for the National Post.

" 'You’re the only one I’ve heard say that,' Mr. Tyson said. 'I don't have no comment to that, because it's negative. You’re being negative.'

" 'You come off like a nice guy,' Tyson said to Mr. Downer, 'but that was really a piece of s–t, that comment. F–k you. . . ."

Advertisement

Asked whether Tyson's remarks could have been bleeped, Patricia Garcia, a spokeswoman for Bell Media, the station's parent company, said by email, "The interview you are inquiring about was live. We have no further comment on this matter."

Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association and its foundation, explained further in a separate email.

"In the United States, it is not customary production practice to conduct live interviews or air live news coverage using a tape delay. The only exception might be if the producer/management knew in advance they were about to air something that had a high likelihood of volatile content. However, I can't think of a news-oriented program that used a tape delay (on TV) in recent times. I assume the same practices hold forth in Canada, as evidenced by this interview.

Advertisement

"This is an issue currently before the FCC, where groups like ours, along with networks and station groups, are arguing for an exemption from indecency regulations in the case of live news coverage."

Boxing writer George Willis, author of "The Bite Fight: Tyson, Holyfield and the Night that Changed Boxing Forever," sided with Tyson. He messaged Journal-isms, "Certainly the rapist question was way off topic and uncalled for. Mike isn't one to play along. Never has been." He added, "Good TV."

BuzzFeed Hires Three Black Journalists

BuzzFeed, fast becoming a diversity leader among new-media outlets, has hired three black journalists: entertainment writer Kelley L. Carter, foreign news editor Hayes Brown and political writer Darren Sands, Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith said on Wednesday.

Advertisement

"The timing of these hires is a happy coincidence, and we're totally thrilled to have each of them at BuzzFeed News — Kelley, a star entertainment reporter whose work has often touched on race and identity; Hayes, who will be helping build out our very ambitious international reporting operation; and Darren, a proven, talented political reporter headed into an exciting cycle," Smith told Journal-isms by email.

"I hesitate to comment on them as a trio — I don't think anybody would ask me for comment if we'd hired three white people for those jobs! — but diversity is something we care deeply about in hiring in order to serve our wildly diverse audience."

Brown, who will be foreign news editor and reporter, comes to the site from ThinkProgress, where he most recently served as editor of its World vertical. Before joining ThinkProgress, he was a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security, Chris Ariens reported for TVNewser. Brown starts Oct. 6.

Advertisement

Sands told his social media followers, "I'll be covering Democratic politics, Obama's legacy building, which will include the politics of the formulation of his presidential library, and the road to 2016."

Carter, who is to help oversee coverage on a variety of entertainment issues, was named entertainment editor for Ebony in February. Carter chairs the Arts & Entertainment Task Force of the National Association of Black Journalists and worked at the Detroit Free Press, Chicago Tribune and USA Today. 

BuzzFeed responded to a call for new-media start-ups to attend last month's NABJ convention after the start-ups collectively were criticized in March for a lack of diversity.

Advertisement

Smith said he met Sands at the NABJ convention, and he had earlier read a story Sands wrote about Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y.

Miguel Ferrer, a multicultural and digital media consultant formerly at Huffington Post, Fusion and AOL, recently called BuzzFeed notable. He told a dinner group of Washington journalists that the site has hired "a pretty diverse newsroom where the Latino reporters, for example, are considered for [the] same stories as anyone else PLUS are asked to leverage their unique knowledge, resources, sources, insight to help break stories that 'general market' reporters would miss. This helps bring Latino or African American stories to the fore, to the main page, where they compete on equal footing with stories produced by other reporters."

BuzzFeed was one of four media organizations that received media awards last month from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Advertisement

The site also has fun with ethnicity, producing videos such as "If Asians Said The Stuff White People Say," "If Latinos Said the Stuff White People Say" and last week, "9 Best Things About Being Filipino-American."

AP Says NFL Exec Received Rice Video Months Ago

"A law enforcement official says he sent a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee to an NFL executive three months ago, while league officers have insisted they didn't see the violent images until this week," Rob Maaddi reported Wednesday for the Associated Press.

Advertisement

"The person played The Associated Press a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresses thanks and says: 'You're right. It's terrible.'

"The law enforcement official, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, says he had no further communication with any NFL employee and can't confirm anyone watched the video. The person said they were unauthorized to release the video but shared it unsolicited, because they wanted the NFL to have it before deciding on Rice's punishment.

"The NFL has repeatedly said it asked for but could not obtain the video of Rice hitting Janay Palmer — who is now his wife — at an Atlantic City casino in February.

Advertisement

"The league says it has no record of the video, and no one in the league office had seen it until TMZ released it. When asked about the voicemail Wednesday, NFL officials repeated their assertion that no league official had seen the video before Monday. . . ."

Short Takes

"The veteran of journalism in Los Angeles, José Luis Sierra, died at age 56 apparently from internal bleeding in Pasadena at Huntington Memorial Hospital as contactomagazine.com [reported], the Spanish-language La Opinión, reported on Wednesday. "Sierra began his journalism career in the eighties as a reporter for the daily La Opinión, in Los Angeles, where for 20 years he wrote on immigration issues, education, police brutality and other issues important to the Latino community. . . ."

Advertisement

In 1975, the Federal Communications Commission "enacted rules barring cable from airing a game that has been blacked out on the local television station because it was not sold out – strengthening the NFL's blackout policy," Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, wrote Tuesday. "Today, the rules make no sense at all. . . ." The Rev. Jesse Jackson has disagreed, pointing to the employment full stadiums provide, often in urban areas where unemployment is high," John Eggerton reported last month for Broadcasting & Cable.

Michel Martin of NPR recalled Tuesday a friendly call of advice from CBS News correspondent Bruce Morton, who died Friday. "I didn't even realize he knew my name," Martin wrote Monday. "It remains the case that the leadership roles in this country — in politics, business and sports, certainly in the executive ranks — are still filled overwhelmingly by white males. Meanwhile, the work force, the school-aged population, are increasingly nonwhite. That is all the more reason why it is important for everyone's success that leaders look beyond the man — or woman — in the mirror when they look for people to groom for the future. . . ."

"The latest vogue in journalism is to leave cushy jobs at established news organizations — or else establish an autonomous power center within one," Sarah Ellison asserted Wednesday in Vanity Fair, listing "news disrupters" who have done so. None appears to be of color. The Washington Post's Erik Wemple noted the Poynter Institute's notation of the lack of diversity on the list. "This is the bummer about hammering others for diversity: Very few media organizations can do it without having to run a hypocrisy disclosure," Wemple wrote Wednesday.

Advertisement

In Liberia, "The national newspapers have been repeatedly obstructed since the start of the Ebola outbreak," Reporters Without Borders wrote on Monday. "The investigative daily FrontPage Africa was ordered to turn off its generator. The police questioned the editors of Women Voices. A curfew has prevented reporters from going out at night. And the National Chronicle has been closed for the past three weeks. . . ."

Only a handful of universities address student demand for bilingual journalism education, according to Raymond Ruiz, founder of El Gato Media Network. "Florida International University offers a master's program with three Spanish-language specializations that focus on multimedia for a Latino audience. For undergraduates, California State University Northridge offers a minor in Spanish-language journalism. The vast majority of Latino students across the country lack such an opportunity to hone their bilingual journalism skills and utilize their cultural knowledge on campus," Ruiz wrote for the Venture, a multi-university collegiate newspaper for Latinos. 

Matt Drudge tweeted Tuesday for the Drudge Report, "Former LA Mayor: Why I turned myself in to DHS…"  Antonio Villaraigosa is the former mayor of Los Angeles, Erik Wemple noted for the Washington Post. Jose Antonio Vargas, the journalist and immigration activist who turned himself into the Department of Homeland Security, tweeted back, "fyi, I am not Antonio Villaraigosa. We're not all alike."

Advertisement

Lisa Matthews, longtime planning editor for the Associated Press in Washington, is becoming vice president of the Hager Sharp firm, which describes itself as "developing and delivering communications that improve health, safety, and education for all," the firm announced on Tuesday.

Tayyibah Taylor, founder of Azizah magazine, an Atlanta-based publication for Muslim women, has died after a battle with cancer, the magazine reported. "What has impressed me most with working with Tayyibah is her dedication to highlighting the good efforts of all Muslims," author Umm Zakiyyah wrote for the magazine.

In Cuba, "Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, an independent journalist based in Cienfuegos, 250 km southeast of Havana, said the police of pressured him to leave Cuba when they arrested him on 6 September because of his reporting for the opposition newspaper El Cubano Libre, de Hoy," Reporters Without Borders reported. Arevalo, who spent six years as a political prisoner, was quoted saying, "I don’t want to leave Cuba, I don't want to. . . . I would rather go to prison than leave the country. I want to die in Cuba." 

Advertisement

"To borrow a football term, CBS Sports NFL studio host James Brown‘s first big break was a bit of a hail mary," Jordan Chariton wrote Tuesday for mediabistro. "At a 1970s audition to announce for the then-NBA Washington Bullets, Brown took it upon himself to land a big interview. 'They were impressed that I brought the team star over on his day off and conducted a pretty decent interview,' Brown told us. . . ."

"The Telemundo Station Group on Thursday announced a series of statewide political debates that will be co-hosted and aired across various Telemundo-owned stations in the United States," TVNewsCheck reported on Sept 4. "Telemundo-owned stations in Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami and McAllen, Texas, will co-host, broadcast and provide on-line streaming of gubernatorial debates for statewide races taking place in California, Florida and Texas. . . ."

"Comcast Corp., of Philadelphia, which has faced criticism over its potential market power with Hispanic TV audiences, has agreed to distribute Univision Communications Inc.'s 24-hour cable-TV sports network to almost 12 million Comcast TV homes, the companies said Tuesday," Bob Fernandez reported Wednesday for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Advertisement

The Association for Women in Communications announced its 2014 Clarion Award winners. They included Luis Fabregas of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in the "newspaper investigative series" category; Cherokee Nation Businesses for "new website with an annual budget of $10,000 or less"; Mary C. Curtis of the Washington Post's "She the People," online regular column; Zhang Jun, photographer, press photography — entertainment and lifestyle; Phillip Martin, WGBH Radio and Television, Boston, radio feature story and women’s issues radio program; Callie Crossley, WGBH, radio documentary, one time; Lisa Guerrero, "Inside Edition," television feature story/segment — comprehensive or ongoing — national; Vicky Nguyen, David Paredes and Felipe Escamilla, KNTV, Reno, Nev., television investigative feature or series – local or regional; Gwen Ifill, "Washington Week with Gwen Ifill," WETA-TV Washington, television public affairs program – national; and Valerie Linson, "Basic Black," WGBH-TV Boston, television talk show — local or regional.