Black Greeks Arguably Got Sorority Sisters Axed From VH1

Screenshot from Sorority Sisters promo
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VH1 Says "No Mas" on "Sorority Sisters"

Members of black Greek organizations who were offended by "Sorority Sisters," a VH1 reality show that they said degraded them, are nearing a victory.

"VH1 has finally said no mas to its detractors: the remaining three episodes of Atlanta-based 'Sorority Sisters' are being burned off three in a row this Friday night," Rodney Ho reported Wednesday for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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"How badly does VH1 want to put this show into the grave? The final episode will start at the odd time of 11:10 p.m. and end just past midnight. Plus, it’s not even being repeated later that night for West Coast consumption. And Friday tends to be a relatively low TV consumption night.

"This doesn't mean the show has been officially cancelled. VH1 rarely makes such announcements when a show is killed anyway, but no network with any intention of bringing a show back would make a move like this. It's not a stretch to say it's over for 'Sorority Sisters.' . . ."

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Kelley L. Carter wrote Wednesday for BuzzFeed, "Despite reports that Sorority Sisters had been canceled after weeks of backlash, VH1 told BuzzFeed News that no decision has been made about the future of the much maligned series just yet. The network will air the final three episodes on Friday, starting at 9:30 p.m. "Based on the feedback we saw on Twitter after Sorority Sisters: The Dialogue debuted last week, it was clear that the audience wanted to see the stories of the cast play out more fully," a rep for the network said in a statement. 'We felt it would be best to run the remaining episodes back to back, bringing the season full circle.' "

Lynn Elber added for the Associated Press, "The show drew protests even before airing, both when it was announced last summer and when a promotional video was released online. The video showcased typical reality show fireworks, with insults and tears among its cast of sorority members who graduated from Atlanta-area colleges.

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"The backlash included an online petition that drew more than 40,000 supporters demanding the project be abandoned. Lawrence Ross, one of the organizers, has said the show reduces the worthy legacy of African-American sororities to a 'perverse caricature.' . . ."

While shows of the "Real Housewives" variety have drawn significant audiences, a 2013 survey sponsored by Essence magazine found that many black women are offended by them.

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"In the study, more than 1,200 respondents told us that the images we encounter regularly on TV, in social media, in music videos and from other outlets are overwhelmingly negative and fall into categories that make us cringe — Gold Diggers, Modern Jezebels, Baby Mamas, Uneducated Sisters, Ratchet Women, Angry Black Women, Mean Black Girls, Unhealthy Black Women, and Black Barbies," Dawnie Walton reported then for Essence.

Ross, who is author of "The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities" and created a group devoted to boycotting "Sorority Sisters," told Journal-isms Wednesday, "Let readers know that we're not stopping with Sorority Sisters. We're also going to attack Love & Hip Hop, which promotes the same images," referring to another VH1 show.

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Ross told his Facebook and Twitter followers, "YOU all just made a $13 billion dollar company dump a television show. YOU…not me…YOU did that. Let me repeat, YOU did that! Now…who is the person who is going to tell me that you CAN'T do something else. Let me hear someone in chapter meeting say that we CAN'T possibly do something. No…YOU KNOW you can do ANYTHING. Take pride in that."

On TVOne's "NewsOne Now With Roland Martin," Martin noted that he had created the hashtag #NoMoreRatchetTV. In one tweet, Martin said, "Fighting negative images is just like Nehemiah trying to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. The wall protected those inside."

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Cho continued in the Journal-Constitution, " 'Sorority Sisters' has been attacked for denigrating the history of African-American sororities by tying these well-regarded Greek names to the silly stereotypical drama that is part and parcel of many of VH1's reality shows. The formula is now well worn: cattiness, jealousy, name-calling with the occasional fist thrown for good measure.

"Two members of Alpha Kappa Alpha were suspended last week for more than two years for participating on the show. . . ."

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"In an essay Dec. 18, my colleague Ernie Suggs wrote, 'This show is doing everything in its power to destroy the legacies that these sororities have been building for more than 100 years. And it offends me.' Former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson's daughter in law weighed in soon after, saying she was 'outraged by the exploitation of our sisterhood.' . . ."

Amanda Kondolojy, TVOne: TV One's 'News One Now' is #1 Cable News Show With Black Viewers in its Timeslot

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Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: TV's skewed vision of Latinos

NewsOne Now: Wildin' Out Wednesday: VH1’s 'Sorority Sisters' Season Being Burned Off

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NBC News Launches NBCBLK, New Black Site

NBCNews.com Thursday launched its new black-oriented website, NBCBLK, after selling TheGrio.com, its former site targeting African Americans, to its original owners.

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NBC also introduced the first installment of "Living Color" (video) , "an original, digital video series that explores how we talk about race in America today. In the premiere episode, NBC News sat down with fathers and sons from New York City for an honest discussion about racial profiling and fear of the police. The site pairs the discussion with a photo gallery of white fathers and their biracial sons, talking about the complexities of having "the talk."

The announcement said, "The launch of 'Living Color' marks the debut of NBCBLK, a new vertical on NBCNews.com that covers politics, culture and social issues and aims to inspire greater conversation around black identity and culture in America today." The "Living Color" installment is on the new site.

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Amber Payne, managing editor of NBCBLK, told Journal-isms, "I am looking for freelance contributors at this time, no full time hires at this time." She may be reached at amber.payne (at) nbc.com

She was a producer for "NBC Nightly News." A note to staffers when Payne left that program said, "She’s been with NBC News for a decade, having started as a weekend researcher in 2004 on NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. She's a versatile journalist — she writes, shoots, and produces breaking news and feature stories — and has most recently served as the coordinating producer for Harry Smith's NBC Nightly News series 'Mr. Smith Goes to…..'

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"She has covered stories throughout the US and UK, Ecuador and parts of West Africa and South Africa. She was a field producer for special reports, including the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy; the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa; the Joplin tornado in Missouri; the Royal Wedding in England; the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games; Hurricane Katrina Recovery and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

"She was raised on blue crabs in Maryland but calls New York City her home."

NBC announced in August that it was selling theGrio back to its original owners, David A. Wilson and Dan Woolsey, who is also director of operations. [Added Jan. 15]

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Fired After Challenging Radio Host's Racial Comments

"Traffic reporter Kelli Walker, whose contentious relationship with WLS AM 890 morning host Bruce Wolf exploded in an on-air confrontation about race eight weeks ago, has been forced out from the Cumulus Media news/talk station," Chicago media writer Robert Feder reported Tuesday on his blog.

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"No reason was cited for dismissing Walker, whose last day on the air was Monday. Her most recent contract with the station expired last October.

"Walker said Tuesday she believes she was terminated because she lashed out at Wolf on the air November 18, accusing him of 'racist connotations' and challenging him for citing a 'culture of victimhood' in the black community. A transcript was posted here later that day.

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" 'Honestly, I've never worked in a more hostile environment in my life,' Walker said in an interview. 'I knew going in that WLS was a conservative formatted station, but I understand differences of opinion and political talk. I can accept that. I may not agree with everything that's said, but I knew I had a job to do.'

"What Walker called the 'big brouhaha' wasn't her first fight with Wolf. 'Bruce and I had many on-air "differences," if you will,' she said, 'everything from slave jokes to fried chicken jokes, to saying black women were a protected class and that's the only reason Felicia Middlebrooks has her job over at CBS. These were all things he said on the air. When the conversation that erupted a few weeks back happened, it was merely a culmination of everything I had been dealing with.' When Walker complained to her bosses, she said: 'They told me you can't argue like that on the air anymore.'

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"Nevertheless, Walker said, her firing came as a shock. 'Right now it just looks like they got rid of the African American who was giving Bruce Wolf a hard time,' she said.

"Wolf declined to comment Tuesday. WLS executives did not respond to inquiries. . . ."

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Feder reported Monday, "Cumulus Media announced Monday that [Big John] Howell will replace Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft from 5 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, starting January 19. News anchor John Dempsey, traffic reporter Kelli Walker and producer Pete Zimmerman are expected to continue in their roles. . . ."

Ann Curry Leaves NBC, but Network Seeds Her Startup

"NBC News has officially announced the departure of former 'Today' anchor Ann Curry, simultaneously announcing Curry's plans to start an independent 'media startup' with seed funding from NBCUniversal," Alex Weprin reported Tuesday for capitalnewyork.com.

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"The startup, a 'reporting and content venture,' will 'focus on incubating and producing content of national and global importance with a multi-platform distribution approach,' NBC's announcement reads.

"The new venture sounds like a blend of the traditional production company, which may produce shows or segments for other outlets, and some web content startups, which are mini-media companies in their own right. Re/code, for example, was founded by journalists Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, but also received seed funding from NBCUniversal, is a regular presence on the company's TV and digital properties, and has its New York offices in Rockefeller Center.

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"It isn't immediately clear whether Curry will actually appear on or report for NBC News programs in the future, although her deal allows her to do so. It also isn't clear how significant in scale her forthcoming media startup will be, just how much seed funding NBCUniversal provided to help start the company, or what it's called. . . ."

Lloyd Grove, Daily Beast: Inside Ann Curry's Bruising Breakup With NBC

Record Charlie Hebdo Sales, Questions About French Racism

"A defiant Charlie Hebdo went on sale Wednesday, in five languages and in more than 20 countries, splashing a cartoon purporting to be Mohammedon its front cover a week after jihadist gunmen stormed the satirical weekly's offices killing 12 people," Tony Todd reported for France24 television.

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"The newspaper normally prints 60,000 copies a week. This week's print run will be five million (up from three million announced on Tuesday), distributed over the next two weeks.

"It is a record for any French newspaper, with versions being printed in Spanish, Arabic, Italian, Turkish and English for the first time. . . ."

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While much of the conversation turned to whether other media should show the cover image, a substantial discussion concerned the plight of Muslims in France.

"Even as I defend the heroism of Charlie Hebdo, I would be remiss if I failed to condemn its racism — as well as its sexism, its anti-theism and attacks against other targets that were in much less privileged positions to defend themselves," Clarence Page wrote Friday for the Chicago Tribune.

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"Those are not contradictory sentiments. France is a country where Muslims, among others, are a poor, harassed and often maligned minority. Many have ironically been isolated from mainstream French social and economic life by a European version of multiculturalism that leaders in France, Germany and England admit has not worked.

"It pains me to see the Charlie Hebdo attacks now give more aid and comfort to France's growing nationalist movement, which routinely uses secularism and free speech to put lipstick on its xenophobia. . . ."

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George Kazolias wrote Wednesday for the Africa Report, "the problem is the three murderers were children of France: born, educated and imprisoned in La République. They are the extreme product of a broken experiment.

"Perhaps this is why the one thing that is blatantly absent from the 'boob-tube' were the Banlieues, those suburban ghettos where the cités are located, faceless housing projects built for low cost immigrant labor in the 1960s and 70s and where the great majority of France's Muslim population is parked.

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"The life of an Arab or Black youth is one of humiliation. They can be stopped several times a day to have their identification papers checked by police. Their horizon is blocked by the 15 storey concrete slab of housing across the way. . . ."

In 2005, after rioting in the Paris suburbs, Keith B. Richburg, a black American then foreign editor of the Washington Post, wrote, "France also needs to drop the taboo on the sensitive subjects of race, integration, discrimination, immigration and, yes, crime. Talk about any of those topics has been largely missing from the national discourse, except from the far right's perennial candidate, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

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"The violence in France is a tragedy. The French will now decide whether it will become an opportunity. The first step is recognizing that there is a problem, that the republican model of integration has not been as successful as once believed. The kind of discrimination the French readily decry abroad also exists at home — two societies, separate and unequal."

Richburg, who spent more than 20 years overseas for the Post, messaged Journal-isms Wednesday, "yes, that commentary (I think it was for Outlook) does seem prescient now. But very predictable, as anyone who spent time in the Paris slums knew. So to me it's not only a matter of cracking down on jihadist returnees, but also making sure they don't feel so rejected/disenfranchised that they want to pick up and go in the first place — but that's a conversation the French are still uncomfortable with."

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Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic: I Might Be Charlie

Joe Concha, Mediaite: Defiant Post-Attack Charlie Hebdo Edition Sells Millions While CNN, MSNBC Refuse to Show

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Jackson Connor, Huffington Post: Jeremy Scahill Blasts CNN's 'Terrorism Expert Industrial Complex' Live On CNN

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: You can hate terrorism and dislike Charlie Hebdo

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Jessica Durando, USA Today: Don Lemon asks Muslim human rights lawyer, 'Do you support ISIS?' (Jan. 8)

Max Fisher, vox.com: What everyone gets wrong about Charlie Hebdo and racism

Brian Flood, TVNewser: So, Charlie Hebdo Put Mohammed On the Cover Again, but Will Networks Show It?

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Rosie Gray, BuzzFeed: Al Jazeera Runs Interview With French Far-Right Leader After Accusations Of Censorship

Arsalan Iftikhar, Islamic Monthly: Dear Don Lemon: Thanks for Making Me Famous

International Press Institute: Turkish printing press raided over Mohammed cartoon fears

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Allen Johnson, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.: Well, hush my mouth. Baquet's A-bomb blows up on the Internet

George Kazolias, Africa Report: Charlie and Paris's suburbs

Andrew Kirell, Mediaite: Charlie Hebdo Writer Holds Up Muhammed Cover on Sky News; Network Cuts Away and Apologizes

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Errol Louis, Daily News, New York: Given the vexing realities of Muslim immigrants in European countries, expect more horrific incidents like the Charlie Hebdo massacre

Theresa Mallinson, Daily Vox, Johannesburg, South Africa: Africa: Good Muslim, Bad Muslim — the Media Framing of Ahmet Merabet and Lassana Bathily

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Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: France needs a better 'melting pot'

Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Is furor over skipped trip really pro-France or just anti-Obama?

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Margaret Sullivan, New York Times: With New Charlie Hebdo Cover, News Value Should Have Prevailed 

Linn Washington Jr., North Star News: Blacks In France: An Ocean Away — A Sea of Similarities (November  2012)

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Erik Wemple, Washington Post: WaPo reporter's tweet suggests al-Qaeda group is monitoring Charlie Hebdo decisions

In 2012, Boko Haram Killed 9 in Nigerian Newspaper Offices

A Nigerian reader of "Journal-isms" sent word Wednesday that in 2012, offices of ThisDay newspapers in three Nigerian cities were blown up by a suicide bomber from Boko Haram, but received little attention globally. Two other newspapers were also hit, for a total of nine fatalities.

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As with the Paris assaults last week, the killings were denounced in Nigeria as an assault on freedom of expression. The bombings and the aftermath were reported in Journal-isms.

On Thursday, Amnesty International released satellite images that "provide indisputable and shocking evidence of the scale of last week’s attack on the towns of Baga and Doron Baga by Boko Haram militants.

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"Before and after images of two neighbouring towns, Baga (160 kilometres from Maiduguri) and Doron Baga (also known as Doro Gowon, 2.5 km from Baga), taken on 2 and 7 January show the devastating effect of the attacks which left over 3,700 structures damaged or completely destroyed," the group said. "Other nearby towns and villages were also attacked over this period.

“These detailed images show devastation of catastrophic proportions in two towns, one of which was almost wiped off the map in the space of four days,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.

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The report also said, "A man in his fifties told Amnesty International what happened in Baga during the attack: 'They killed so many people. I saw maybe around 100 killed at that time in Baga. I ran to the bush. As we were running, they were shooting and killing.' He hid in the bush and was later discovered by Boko Haram fighters, who detained him in Doron Baga for four days.

"Those who fled describe seeing many more corpses in the bush. 'I don’t know how many but there were bodies everywhere we looked,' one woman told Amnesty International.

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"Another witness described how Boko Haram were shooting indiscriminately killing even small children and a woman who was in labour. '[H]alf of the baby boy is out and she died like this,' he said. . . ."

Meanwhile, commentators examined the disparity between coverage of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy and that in Nigeria, where Amnesty International reported last week that as many as 2,000 people were killed by Boko Haram. [Updated Jan. 15]

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Jessica Dickerson, Huffington Post: #IamNigeria Urges Global Concern For Boko Haram Massacre

Mark Hay, good.is: Why Journalists Don't Seem to Care About the Tragic Massacre in Nigeria

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Don Lemon, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Where Are The "We are Nigeria" Signs and Rallies Like In Paris?

Verashni Pillay, Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg, South Africa: France versus Nigeria: Why African lives matter less

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Kirsten West Savali, The Root: Thousands of Black Lives Mattered in Nigeria, but the World Didn’t Pay Attention

"Things White Latinos Are Sick of Hearing"

Persistence, Resources Secured Telling Tamir Rice Video

"The story just gets worse," Anna Clark reported Monday for Columbia Journalism Review. "Video released more than a month ago showed a white cop in Cleveland shooting Tamir Rice, an African American 12-year-old playing with a pellet gun, within seconds of approaching him.

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"Last week, extended video obtained by the Northeast Ohio Media Group showed what happened afterward: Two police officers stood by without offering aid to the wounded boy — he didn't die until nine hours later in the hospital — and also tackled and handcuffed Rice's 14-year-old sister when she tried to reach her brother's side.

"It's a serious development in an ongoing story, and it confirms the version of events described by Rice's mother at a Dec. 8 press conference. It’s also an unfortunate addendum to the U.S. Justice Department's two-year investigation into the Cleveland Police Department, which faulted city cops for reckless behavior that escalated the danger of potentially nonviolent encounters.

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"We came down pretty hard last month on NEOMG, the digital sibling of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, for flaws in its coverage of the Rice story. We should also give credit where it's due: NEOMG was persistent in seeking the footage and committed resources to the effort. The extended video likely came to light more quickly than it would have otherwise.

"Here is how they got it. . . ."

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Tamir Rice and the Value of Life

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: The Complexity of Deadly Force

Juan Gonzalez, Daily News, New York: Patrolmen's Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch in for a fight to keep his job, and may deserve to lose

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Tom Isler, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:  Grand jury secrecy comes at a cost

Sister2Sister to End Print Edition

Sister2Sister, a women's magazine that focuses on black Hollywood, will end its print edition so it can focus on its website, publisher Jamie Foster Brown told readers on Monday.

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"MY DEAR SISTER2SISTER READERS after 26 years of 'Giving It To YOU Straight, No chaser' we have made the tough decision to cease printing our beloved and very informative Sister2Sister magazine due to the harsh economy and plan to focus on our website and other digital opportunities," Brown wrote on the publication's website. "Sister 2 Sister is a dream that became a reality…truly my life’s work and my joy. . . ."

A publicist for the magazine said in October that the publication was restructuring but had not filed for bankruptcy.

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Short Takes

"In 2004, a 17-year-old British-Pakistani woman named Shafilea Ahmed was suffocated and murdered by her parents, in front of her siblings, after she refused an arranged marriage," Tim Nudd wrote Wednesday for Adweek. "Her death is referenced clearly and heartbreakingly on limited-edition covers of the February issue of Cosmopolitan magazine in the U.K. to raise awareness about so-called honor killings — in which a person is murdered by a family member for bringing what the killer believes is shame upon the family." The cover features a plastic wraparound encasing an image of a woman appearing to be suffocated.

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"The Justice Department is revising guidelines that spell out when federal prosecutors can seek information from and records of reporters in a move intended to expand high-level review before subpoenas and warrants are issued, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday," Ryan J. Reilly reported Wednesday for the Huffington Post.

"Wading into a states' rights dispute over Internet access, President Barack Obama on Wednesday called for the repeal of laws that prevent local communities from creating their own broadband networks," Jim Kuhnhenn reported Wednesday for the Associated Press. "Obama, for the second time in three months, cast himself as an antagonist to large cable and telephone companies that provide the bulk of the nation's Internet service. . . ."

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"Last year, reporters at the South Florida Sun Sentinel set out to prove a dirty little secret: Cuban criminals are exploiting the extraordinarily broad immigration privileges that apply to their nation to run elaborate fraud schemes in the US and then escape back to the island," Susannah Nesmith wrote Tuesday for Columbia Journalism Review. "After cracking a pair of key databases, reporters at the paper were finally able to show the rumors were true — even more true, in fact, than they had anticipated. 'Cuba has become a bedroom community for criminals who exploit America’s good will,' the Sun Sentinel wrote in an impressive three-part investigation rolled out last week. . . ."

Gilbert Bailon, editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was added to a National Press Club panel discussion on "Coverage of Race in America" after Russell Contreras, president of Unity: Journalists for Diversity, complained that no Latinos, Asian Americans or Native Americans were panelists. Mekahlo Medina, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, announced the change Wednesday to NAHJ members. The Jan. 26 event is sponsored by the National Press Club and the Capitol Press Club in Washington.

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"New York City, you are now filing with 50 Cent. And you gotta love it," Jackson Connor wrote Wednesday for the Huffington Post. "Strolling the offices of The Daily News Wednesday, rapper 50 Cent took command of the paper's 'Confidenti@' gossip column, barking orders at staffers and making tough editorial decisions, like what bikini shots to run. . . ."

In Britain, "Channel 4 senior executives and staff risk losing out on bonus payments if the broadcaster misses newly announced diversity targets, including a pledge that 20% of all staff be black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) by 2020," John Plunkett reported Monday for Britain's Guardian newspaper. "The broadcaster announced its '360-degrees diversity charter' on Monday, which includes targets for employing people with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff. The launch follows similar initiatives at the BBC, ITV and Sky. . . . "

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"Science is increasingly important in Indian country as tribal communities face escalating environmental stresses and climatic changes," Terri Hansen reported Dec. 30 for minoritypostdoc.org, in an article republished Wednesday by the Indian Country Today Media Network. "The need for Native journalists to report related, rapidly evolving science and technology has never been greater, and, although not specific to Native Americans was one of many issues addressed by the 'Supporting Diversity in Science Writing' panel at the Science Writers 2014 conference (SciWri14). . . ."

"The Telemundo Station Group today announced that its consumer investigative units — Telemundo Responde (Telemundo Responds) — have recovered more than $1 million for consumers across seven markets only nine months after launching," the NBC-owned Spanish-language network announced Wednesday. "Consumers who were owed compensation for participating in medical research projects, fell victim to identity theft, got scammed by tax preparers and were owed cell phone rebates are some examples of how the Telemundo Responde teams are fighting for their local communities. . . ."

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Michele Norris, NPR host and special correspondent who also leads "The Race Card Project," has been selected as a Spring 2015 Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, the program announced. In addition, Alex S. Jones, director of the program, announced he would step down July 1 after 15 years. Jones was last in this column in a 2012 item noting the lack of diversity in the program.

Al Jazeera English is planning an open editorial meeting via Google+ Hangout Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern time with community members from across Latin America to discuss ideas for future episodes of "The Stream." Using the hashtag #CharlaEditorial, the purpose is to discuss underreported stories in Latin America.

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"A Tunisian blogger has been imprisoned after the Tunis military court sentenced him to a three-year term for 'defaming the army' and 'insulting military high command' through Facebook posts, Human Rights Watch reported on Jan. 6. "Authorities arrested Yassine Ayari upon his arrival at Tunis-Carthage airport from France on December 24, 2014. . . ."

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