Black Journalists Group Backs Reporter Over Furious BET

  • Givhan Was Part of Event With Michelle Obama
  • Byron Allen Acquires the Weather Channel
  • One Cop in Fatal Sacramento Shooting Is Black
  • Some Led Readers Astray During Austin Bombings
  • Where Are the Black Photographers?
  • Detroit Anchor Out After Harassment Charges
  • Don Imus Retiring After 50 Years in Radio
  • Fourth Mexican Journalist Killed This Year

Robin Givhan Was Part of Event With Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama wore the Gucci map-print dress that was such a hit when she wore it on “Ellen” in 2016, Robin Givhan wrote, (Credit: Twitter)

In the public dispute between journalist Robin Givhan and a furious Black Entertainment Television, the National Association of Black Journalists Saturday sided with Givhan.

Talk about going Postal,” Oli Coleman wrote Thursday for the New York Post’s Page Six.


“The BET Network booted a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from its conference for publishing a Q&A with Michelle Obama, sparking a social media storm.

“The network had invited the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan to its syntactically questionable ‘Leading Women Defined’ conference in Bal Harbour, Fla., but then demanded she leave after she published her article, claiming that Obama’s talk had been conducted in a ‘sacred space.’


“Givhan — the Washington Post’s fashion critic, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2006 — posted a piece Wednesday quoting Obama discussing her campaign experiences in 2008: ‘I couldn’t count on my husband’s campaign to protect me; I had to protect myself.’ . . .”


The complete passage was:

“During the wide-ranging conversation, Mrs. Obama, wearing the Gucci map-print dress that was such a hit when she wore it on ‘Ellen’ in 2016, looked back on her 2008 campaign learning curve and how she came to realize that her enthusiasm and passion could easily be turned into angry, scolding sound bites,” Givhan wrote. “ ‘I couldn’t count on my husband’s campaign to protect me; I had to protect myself,’ she said. ‘They were using me like I was a candidate and supporting me like I was a spouse.’

Robin Givhan

“ ‘I had to learn how to deliver a message,’ she added, noting that often meant not being so passionate and speaking with an ever-present smile. And here the audience murmured understandingly, because they all knew what it means to be called angry when really you’re just emphatic. . . .”


At issue was a question of journalistic ethics.

BET issued this statement and a spokesman told Journal-isms it would not elaborate:

“Leading Women Defined convenes the nation’s most prominent African American women during Women’s History Month to help set a national agenda and actionable solutions around issues impacting the black community.


“Robin Givhan was invited as a guest (not working press) to moderate a fashion panel at the annual Leading Women Defined Summit. Givhan’s travel and lodging accommodations were paid for by BET Networks. She was made aware that it was an intimate conversation in a sacred space of sisterhood and fellowship. It’s unfortunate that she chose to disregard it, especially in our 9 year history of hosting journalists, as our guests, we’ve never experienced this breach of trust.”

However, Givhan insisted to Twitter critics, “I was a journalist listening to an on-the-record conversation between newsmakers. And I did my job. I cannot speak for other journalists in the room.” And she pointed out, if the session was private, why did BET post a video of it?


BET then took down the video.

The Washington Post stood by its reporter.

Asked whether the Post had any comment on BET’s complaint, spokeswoman Shani George replied, “Not beyond what Robin has shared on Twitter.”


I was there as a Post journalist who was asked to moderate a panel. If I wasn’t a Post journalist I would not have been asked.

— Robin Givhan (@RobinGivhan) March 22, 2018

The NABJ board of directors, meeting in Detroit, Givhan’s hometown, said in a statement Saturday, “BET officials have admitted publicly that at no time was the conference ever off-the-record.


As the world’s largest journalism organization of people of color, it is vital that NABJ stands up for the rights of journalists to do their job without being attacked. Robin Givhan did not break any journalistic code of ethics in her decision to write about Michelle Obama at the BET conference.

“The rules of journalism are clear: any decision to make an event off-the-record must be stated clearly upfront, and not after-the-fact. If an individual or entity desires to have a conversation that is off-the-record, that has to be made public. It can’t be assumed or hinted. BET’s statement of the event being ‘an intimate conversation in a sacred space of sisterhood and fellowship’ does not hold water in any newsroom. If the off-the-record declaration is not made, that means everything is on-the-record and available to be reported. . . .”


Danielle Belton, editor-in-chief of The Root, attended the conference and wrote her own piece about the controversy. She reported that Givhan said via email that she had received approval from her editors before attending.

That’s even though, as BET said, the network paid for Givhan’s travel and lodging, not the Post, which in the past has insisted, “We pay our own way. We pay our own way. We accept no gifts from news sources. We accept no free trips.”


Belton wrote, “I can’t say I would have done exactly what Givhan did, as obviously I did not, but I also can’t condemn a fellow journalist for reporting on something newsworthy if it was not explicitly stated that it was off-the-record.

“And while I fully understand the hurt and disappointment that was a blemish on an otherwise amazing personal and professional experience for many of us who were attendees, I also understand why Givhan wrote what she did. The lesson for us black journalists is that it’s a complicated row we hoe.


“Whether you’re black first or a journalist first, there’s no way to make everyone happy.”


Byron Allen Acquires the Weather Channel

Comedian and producer Byron Allen acquired the Weather Channel TV network as he looks to expand his film and TV production company into a major media business,” Christopher Palmeri reported Thursday for Bloomberg News.

Byron Allen

“Allen’s Entertainment Studios Inc. bought the network from Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Comcast Corp., according to a statement Thursday. The price was approximately $300 million, according to a person familiar with the terms who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified. That’s a fraction of what the larger company sold for a decade ago.


“The deal includes the famous cable TV network, but not online assets such as the website and related mobile apps, which were acquired by International Business Machines Corp. in January 2016. In an interview on a day in which rain and snow blanketed much of the U.S., Allen said he was attracted to the reach and familiarity of the brand.

“ ‘Snowstorms, rain, mudslides, our lives and our families’ safety depend on this info,’ Allen said. ‘When a big storm happens, it’s the Super Bowl of weather. As many as 30 million people watch.’ . . .”


Mike Snyder added Friday for USA Today, “Entertainment Studios currently owns eight 24-hour high-definition cable TV networks, with nearly 160 million subscribers, including Pets.TV, Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV and Cars.TV.

“Beyond TV, Allen has been expanding Entertainment Studios’ reach in movies, too. The studio recently released the film Hostiles, starring Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike, and next month Chappaquiddick arrives in theaters. . . .”


One Cop in Fatal Sacramento Shooting Is Black


(Credit: Sacramento Bee)

The names of the two officers who shot Stephon Clark in Sacramento on Sunday were released Friday by a prominent civil rights attorney in Oakland,” Anita Chabria and Benjy Egel wrote Friday for the Sacramento Bee.


“A representative from the law office of John Burris in Oakland said that the two officers who fired 10 shots each at Clark were Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet.

“The Sacramento Police Department declined to confirm the names. Department spokeswoman Officer Linda Matthew said the officers involved in the shooting have received ‘numerous’ threats.


“ ‘Based on the threats we do know about, it would be careless of us at this point to release the names,’ Matthew said.

“Mercadal had been identified to The Sacramento Bee by a separate source on Thursday. He was identified then as an African American man who had attended Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove and was known as a patrol officer in the Meadowview neighborhood where Clark was shot. . . .”


Chabria and Egel also wrote, “On Thursday, Stevante Clark, Stephon Clark’s older brother, said the family had retained the services of Ben Crump, a Florida-based attorney who also represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, young African American men shot in racially charged incidents that became national stories in recent years.

“Crump on Friday confirmed in a press release he was taking the case.

“ ‘The shooting death of Stephon Clark is an all-too-common tragedy,’ Crump said in a statement. ‘It is yet another troubling example of a young, unarmed black man being shot by police under highly questionable circumstances. From what we have seen so far, Sacramento law enforcement’s actions — both before and after the shooting — have raised more questions than provided answers. All of us who are committed to social justice are demanding full transparency and answers as to how these tragic events unfolded.’ ”


Marcos Bretón, Sacramento Bee: You probably won’t be satisfied with how this Sacramento police shooting plays out

Editorial, Sacramento Bee: With shooting of Stephon Clark, faith in Sacramento police is on the line again


Alexei Koseff, Sacramento Bee: Police shootings raise plenty of outcry. Why California lawmakers don’t act.

Some Led Readers Astray During Austin Bombings


(Credit: Austin American-Statesman)

Mark Conditt, suspect in the series of bombings that rocked Texas’ Capital city over the last few weeks, is dead,” Gus Bova reported Thursday for the Texas Observer. “The 23-year-old’s alleged campaign included at least six explosions that killed two and wounded five. His death — self-inflicted by explosive device as a SWAT team closed in Wednesday morning — affords Austin a return to normalcy, even while his motives remain murky.


“But over the last few weeks, Austinites experienced another nerve-wracking phenomenon: an absence of information that made sense of it all. While law enforcement scrambled to find the killer, and local journalists pulled long hours to report each development, others leapfrogged prudence to fill the narrative vacuum. The latter group included the state’s attorney general, social media celebrities and some national media outlets. As details about the bomber continue to emerge, it’s worth examining who kept us grounded in facts during the explosive saga, and who led us astray. . . . “

Bova also wrote, “On Sunday evening, two young white men were injured after triggering a tripwire explosive in southwest Austin. The New York-based activist and Intercept columnist Shaun King, who has nearly a million followers on Twitter, soon tweeted: ‘Some of my homies in Austin are saying they think the bomb there tonight is a copycat bomb. Hard to say.’


“A couple hours later, Austin’s Interim Police Chief Brian Manley announced the explosion was likely the work of the same bomber. King’s misleading tweet was liked by more than 2,000 people, and he did not issue a correction.

“Beyond that speculation, King promoted the idea that media wasn’t paying attention to the explosions story, perhaps because the initial victims were black and Hispanic. ‘Since the mainstream media doesn’t seem to care, I’ve tracked down information on the first package bomb victim in Austin,’ he said in a March 14 tweet, which contained information published by the Austin American-Statesman and other outlets the previous day.


“The false notion that media was ignoring the bombings took off on social media, even leading the Statesman to publish a piece defending itself and other outlets.

“Whether the bombings were racially motivated remains an open question. . . . “

Editorial, Austin American-Statesman: Impact on community clear: Austin bombings were acts of terror


Deepti Hajela, Associated Press: Sympathy for white Austin bomber stirs debate about race

Alberta Phillips, Austin American-Statesman: Austin sees bombings, police response through separate eyes


Joshunda Sanders, New York Times: What It’s Like to Be Black in Austin

Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post: Austin bomber: ‘Challenged young man’ or ‘terrorist’?


Dustin Seibert, Dear white media, call the Austin bomber a sadistic terrorist instead of whitesplaining his childhood pain

Eric Tang, New York Times: The Bomber Is Dead, but Fear of Racist Attacks Lives On


Where Are the Black Photographers?


When you take over a storied magazine, your first cover is important: it’s a public statement of who you are, what you stand for, what you hope to achieve,” editor Felix Salmon wrote Friday for his Felix website.

“Two recent examples stand out. First, Edward Enninful taking over British Vogue, featuring Adwoa Aboah and a notably diverse set of names . . .”


Displaying a second cover, Salmon continued, “Now, Radhika Jones has made her mark at Vanity Fair, with a profile of Lena Waithe written by another queer African-American, Jaqueline Woodson.

“Both of these choices represent a refreshing, forward-looking break from orthodoxy. But there’s one area where they have no new ideas whatsoever, and that’s in the choice of cover photographer. Aboah was photographed by the 63-year-old white American superstar Steven Meisel; Waithe by the 68-year-old white American superstar Annie Leibovitz. Both have had more glossy magazine covers than any supermodel, and neither is remotely interesting, relevant, or forward-looking.


“What’s more, Leibovitz in particular has delivered a washed-out cover which evinces no particular skill at the fine art of photographing black skin. Compare the Waithe portrait to, say, the portrait of Lupita Nyong’o which was commissioned by the NYT from the millennial duo of Kendrick Brinson and David Walter Banks.


“I genuinely don’t understand what’s going on here. A young(ish) editor comes in with an explicit mandate to shake things up, and then ends up going to one of the handful of photographers that the previous generation relied on, and probably the generation before that too. . . . ”

Detroit Anchor Out After Harassment Charges

Malcom Maddox

Detroit television anchor Malcom Maddox, accused of sexual harassment, “is no longer employed by WXYZ,” news director Rhonda LaVelle told Journal-isms on Friday. He left Monday, she said.

The departure comes two weeks after past WXYZ reporter Tara Edwards filed a $100-million sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court in Detroit,Allan Lengel reported Tuesday for Deadline Detroit. “Hours later, E.W. Scripps Co., Inc., the parent company of WXYZ, said that ‘to avoid any further distraction . . . Malcom Maddox will be off the air for the time being.’ “


In December, WXYZ-TV put Maddox on administrative leave after the station was accused at a news conference of brushing aside allegations of sexual harassment made against Maddox, Allie Gross reported then for the Detroit Free Press.

Then, on March 6, Tresa Baldas reported for the Free Press that Edwards was suing WXYZ, “alleging that Channel 7 morning news anchor Malcom Maddox sexually harassed her for years with raunchy behavior that included frequently asking her to engage in ‘deviant and perverse’ sex acts, tricking her into looking at sex videos and asking if he ‘could urinate’ on her. . . .”


Don Imus Retiring After 50 Years in Radio

Don Imus and Anthony Mason in talk to air Sunday. (Credit: CBS)

Don Imus, who’s retiring after 50 years in radio — including nearly 18 years simulcast on cable TV — will talk about the highlights, and lowlights, for CBS Sunday Morning,” Chris Ariens reported Thursday for TVNewser.

After protests by the National Association of Black Journalists and others, the “shock jock” was fired by CBS Radio and MSNBC in spring 2007 for referring to members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.” Imus apologized and eventually rebuilt his network of radio affiliates for a weekday show also telecast on the Fox Business Channel.


“It did change my feeling about making fun of some people who didn’t deserve to be made fun of and didn’t have a mechanism to defend themselves,” Imus said.

Imus’ final broadcast is March 29.

Fourth Mexican Journalist Killed This Year

Leobardo Vazquez Atzin

A local journalist has been killed in the state of Veracruz in eastern Mexico, according to reports in local media,” Al Jazeera reported on Thursday.

Leobardo Vazquez Atzin, 42, was shot dead on Wednesday night inside his home in the state known for drug violence, reports said, adding that the alleged suspects left the scene on a motorcycle. . . .


“The murdered journalist operated a Spanish language news website, Enlace Informativo Regional, covering local events around the municipality of Guiterrez Zamora, according to Perez.

“Mexican newspaper, SinEmbargo, reported that Vasquez had been threatened before his murder — having already requested help and protection.


“Vazquez is the fourth journalist murdered this year. In January Jose Gerardo Martinez, was shot in a borough of Mexico City in January and Carlos Dominguez was stabbed to death 21 times in Tamaulipas state. Pamika Montegro was shot dead at a beach-side resort in Acapulco in February.

“Mexico was the most dangerous place to be a journalist in 2017, ahead of Iraq and Syria, with 14 deaths, according to the International Press Institute. . . .”


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