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Honored by N.Y. Black Journalists, Editor Urges Outreach

Dean Baquet, the first African American top editor of the New York Times, told black journalists Tuesday that his biggest concern, "besides the diversity of our staff, is the diversity of our audience."

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He said, "I'm worried that the American press is on its way to becoming an expensive, hard-to-read medium that doesn't draw kids who have less money and maybe less education, and it's important for us to fight against that."

Baquet's words to the New York Association of Black Journalists, where he accepted its Trailblazer Award, came a day before the Times announced that that the newsroom will lose 100 jobs and hoped to achieve that by voluntary buyouts, but would resort to layoffs if necessary.

"The masthead and I will be looking for every possible way to do this without harming our stunning report," Baquet wrote to staffers. "I will use this as an opportunity to seriously reconsider some of what we do — from the number of sections we produce to the amount we spend on freelance content."

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In an interview last week with Margaret Sullivan, the Times public editor, Baquet "said that in an era when, for economic reasons, The Times is trying to reduce rather than increase staff (it's common knowledge that newsroom buyouts are expected soon), diversity efforts become more difficult.

" 'It's a lot harder to work on it' under those circumstances, he said," Sullivan wrote. " 'But I'm not going to use that as an excuse. I have an obligation to diversify the staff and I will figure out a way.' "

Baquet's short acceptance speech Tuesday made a brief but sly reference to the firestorm around a recent Times piece by television critic Alessandra Stanley that referred to Shonda Rhimes, the highly successful television producer, as an "angry black woman."

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Sullivan criticized Stanley's article as "at best – astonishingly tone-deaf and out of touch," and Culture Editor Danielle Mattoon said, "This is a signal to me that we have to constantly remind ourselves as editors of our blind spots, what we don't know, and of how readers may react." But Baquet has been criticized for a tepid response that said only that Stanley did not make her point well.

As Times Washington bureau chief who had just left the editorship of the Los Angeles Times in a dispute over staff cuts, Baquet received Journalist of the Year honors from the National Association of Black Journalists in 2007 and accepted it with a short speech that all but avoided race.

On Tuesday night, however, he told the New York journalists, "Of all the awards I've gotten over the years, this one means more to me, because it's an important reminder that having a journalist of color in important positions truly matters."

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He continued, "A staff that is not diverse cannot hope to cover the world. A staff that is not diverse will not see why Ferguson is a story that's so resonant in so many different ways and won't stick with it to the end.

"A staff that is not diverse might not cover the television business as clearly as maybe we should."

Baquet paused and smiled, saying, "I left that open," an obvious reference to the Stanley affair.

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"A staff that is not diverse will not see the story of economic upheaval in as different and clear a way as it should," he continued.

"But I want to take just one minute at the end to argue that the diversity of our audience is the most important issue that we face.

"My biggest concern besides the diversity of our staff is the diversity of our audience. I'm worried that the American press is on its way to becoming an expensive, hard to read medium that doesn't draw kids who have less money and maybe less education, and it's important for us to fight against that.

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"It's important for us to make sure that we find stories that appeal to those kids, and if you're like me when I was a kid, I really needed stories like that to appeal to me in a house where my mother had a third-grade education and my father didn't go to high school.

"It's important for us to gain the diversity of readership by pushing stories like the Ebola story and it's important for us not to get caught up in the stories about a luxuriant America, and it's important that we find stories that tell people that not all of America is as luxuriant . . . "

In perhaps one sign of the belt-tightening, the Times did not buy a table at the dinner.

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In announcing the newsroom cuts, "Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the newspaper's publisher, and Mark Thompson, its chief executive, said that in addition to the job cuts, NYT Opinion, a new mobile app dedicated to opinion content, was shutting down because it was not attracting enough subscribers," Ravi Somaiya reported for the Times.

Somaiya also wrote, "The Times has made cuts to its newsroom staff several times over the last six years. The paper eliminated 100 newsroom jobs in 2008, another 100 in 2009, and 30 more senior newsroom jobs at the beginning of last year.

"Despite those cuts, the newsroom staff has grown to about 1,330, approaching its largest size ever, according to the company, up from about 1,250 at the end of last year. Some of that growth is a result of adding jobs for digital efforts, like web producers and video journalists. . . . The buyouts and layoffs are likely to create anxiety in a newsroom that has had already had an unsettling year. . . ."

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Baquet's staff memo said, "If you are represented by the Guild, the terms of the buyout offer have been established by negotiations and agreement with the Guild. Generally, you will receive three weeks of salary for every year worked at The Times, with the potential payout capped at two times your annual salary. In addition, The Times is offering a cash payout of 35 percent of the total severance amount to staff members who have been at the company for 20 years or more. . . ."

Baquet's full memo is in the Comments section.

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Catherine Taibi, Huffington Post: ABC News Doctor Says Ebola Crisis Is 'Most Devastating Outbreak' He's Ever Covered

Public TV Boards Dominated by Corporate Interests

"The corporate and financial sectors have an overwhelming presence on the governing boards of major public television stations, a new FAIR study finds," Aldo Guerrero reported Wednesday for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting.

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"The study looked at the occupations of the current trustees of WNET (New York City/Newark), WGBH (Boston), WETA (Washington, DC), WTTW (Chicago) and KCET (Los Angeles).

"Out of these boards' 182 total members, 152 — or 84 percent — have corporate backgrounds, including 138 who are executives at elite businesses. Another 14 members appear to be on the board because of their families' corporate-derived wealth, often with a primary affiliation as an officer of a family charitable foundation. . . ."

Guerrero also wrote, "Over the years, FAIR has found public TV displaying bias and favoritism towards corporations (Press Release, 10/19/10; Action Alert, 4/23/12).

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"Some individuals within public TV acknowledge the problem of such influence. In a leaked farewell address, former PBS producer Sam Topperoff (Gawker, 5/24/10) was scathing about the state of New York public television, including WNET:

" 'I see our general programming for the wider public as elitist and offensive in the extreme…. But, of course, when stations run on very rich people's and corporate money, how could it be otherwise? And when the corporation is directed by those very clever and very ambitious fellows whose careers will float them to good places no matter what, what else could we reasonably expect?' . . ."

Feds Urged to Investigate Treatment of Ferguson Journalists

Forty-five news organizations have written the Justice Department seeking a probe into possible civil rights violations in the treatment of journalists by law enforcement officers and agencies in Ferguson, Mo., but the department has not responded to the week-old letter, Bruce D. Brown, executive director of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told Journal-isms on Wednesday.

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The Sept. 22 letter, signed by organizations ranging from the Radio-Television Digital News Association to the Associated Press, the McClatchy Corp., the Newspaper Guild-CWA and the New Yorker magazine, said, "An important element of protecting civil rights is allowing uninhibited news coverage of the sometimes scalding controversies that follow race, gender, and other issues relating to political equality around the nation. . . [PDF]"

It also said, "As to the Civil Rights Division's inquiries, we urge investigators to make the unlawful arrest and mistreatment of journalists a part of its formal probe.

"Because of the connection between the exercise of political freedoms and the freedom of the press, the Department's mandate to examine the civil rights record of local police in Ferguson, which naturally will be the focus of the investigation, will nonetheless be illuminated by looking at the breakdown in newsgathering protections that occurred last month.

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"This media coalition, First Look Media, and the National Press Photographers Association wrote four separate and as yet unanswered letters in August to local and state officials insisting that Ferguson-area law enforcement agencies honor First Amendment guarantees.

"The letters followed several incidents of harassment and unnecessary arrests. Two journalists were detained while doing nothing more than charging their phones in a local McDonald's, several were arrested, and other journalists in Ferguson were intimidated, harassed, and threatened while covering matters of public concern.

"Two journalists were shot with rubber bullets, while others had guns pointed directly at them over race relations and civil rights, it is as imperative as ever that the media be allowed to cover these newsworthy events without fear of unwarranted detention or harassment. . . ."

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The Justice Department's press office did not respond to a request seeking comment on Wednesday.

George E. Curry, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Eric Holder's Legacy: No Coward on Race

Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report: Eric Holder's Damnable Legacy: Impunity for the Rich and the Death of Due Process

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Jack Gillum, Associated Press: Ferguson demands high fees to turn over city files

Janine Jackson, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Michael Brown Had a Father: But will Ferguson shift media ideas on 'fixing' black men?

Bill McClellan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: McClellan: A Ferguson story that didn't make headlines

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Charles Pulliam-Moore, NPR "Code Switch": Families Want Federal Investigations Into Black Men's Deaths

3 FCC Commissioners Say "Redskins" Term Is Offensive

"Will the word 'Redskins' wind up being banished to the indecent list that nobody on TV or radio can say?" RadioInk asked on Tuesday.

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"At a press conference Tuesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he finds the word 'Redskins' offensive and urged the NFL team to change its name. 'There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used for a time that are inappropriate today. I think the name that is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those.' And now you can add Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to the list of commissioners that have gone public in stating the name should go.

"During the FCC's vote to kill the sports blackout rules, Clyburn signaled she finds the word offensive. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has also been on the record about what she thinks about the word. George Washington [University] Law Professor John Banzhaf has filed a petition with the FCC claiming the name 'Redskins' violates federal rules barring any indecent content on broadcast television. He's also challenged the license of one of Daniel Snyder's radio stations. Snyder is the owner of the NFL football team."

The FCC voted Tuesday to scrap a 40-year-old rule banning cable and satellite providers from televising football games blacked out on local stations because of low attendance, as Gautham Nagesh reported Wednesday for the Wall Street Journal.

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"The FCC's five commissioners voted unanimously to retire the sports blackout rule, which covers all sports leagues but in recent years has applied exclusively to National Football League games, in part because the games are still available on broadcast TV."

Nagesh also wrote, "FCC members argued that the NFL is now so successful that it no longer needs the help of regulators to protect its gate revenue. They also noted that television contracts have become the leading source of revenue for the NFL, far surpassing ticket sales.

"The league and its allies, including labor unions and civil-rights groups, had argued that retiring the sports blackout rule, which was passed in 1975, would accelerate the migration of football games from free to pay television. . . ."

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In August, the Rev. Jesse  L. Jackson "pointed to the employment full stadiums provide, often in urban areas where unemployment is high," John Eggerton wrote then for Broadcasting & Cable. "He said Rainbow PUSH — Jackson is the founder — has experience in monitoring how large sports franchises can boost jobs and economic development. . . ."

Tim Giago, indianz.com: All Indians Ask Is For America to Honor Our Treaties

Chelsey Luger, Huffington Post: The Word 'Redskins' and Natives: We've Earned the Right to Use It How We Want

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Radio Ink: Banzhaf Encouraged by FCC Statements

Gyasi Ross, HuffPost BlackVoices: An Open Letter to Black America: Why You Should Want the Redskins Name Changed, Too

Richard Walker, earthfirstjournal.org: Seattle Poised to Replace Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples' Day (Sept. 24)

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Readers Weigh In on "Top 10 House Negroes in America"

Wayne Bennett, a lawyer who works with families in the Philadelphia court system and blogs as "the Field Negro," struck a chord with readers Sunday when he named "my top ten list of house Negroes in America for 2014."

On Wednesday, his blog had a higher than average 55 responses. Bennett messaged Journal-isms, "I had a few e-mails as well. Most of them agreeing with the selections.

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"But as you can see from the comments section on the blog, a few people had some choices of their own.

"Some folks were upset because I included Rev. Jackson.

"But hey…."

Bennett's list included Jason Riley, editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal; CNN anchor Don Lemon; comedian Sheryl Underwood; actress Stacey Dash; Allen West, former Republican congressman from Florida; rap artist 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson); the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson; Robin Clearmountain, former director of multicultural affairs for the Florissant, Mo., Police Department and supporter of Ferguson, Mo., Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown; "all the Negroes who participate in those lame cooning reality shows. (I see you Tamar [Braxton])," and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

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Bennett added, "Honorable mention goes to Tavis Smiley, Stephen A Smith, Herman Cain, and Ray Nagin," referring to the broadcast personality, ESPN pundit, former Republican primary presidential candidate and imprisoned former mayor of New Orleans, respectively.

Boston Herald Artist Apologizes for Obama Cartoon

"The Boston Herald artist who has the Internet in an uproar over his racially-charged cartoon featuring President Barack Obama and a reference to the stereotype that African Americans love watermelon apologized for offending readers, and said he didn't even consider the negative implications in the drawing," Steve Annear reported Wednesday for Boston magazine.

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" 'It was completely naïve or innocent of any racial suggestion. I wasn't thinking along those lines at all,' said Jerry Holbert, who has been drawing political cartoons for the newspaper since 1986.

"Holbert made the apology during an interview on Boston Herald radio with Joe Battenfeld and Hillary Chabot on Wednesday morning, just hours after snapshots and links to the cartoon went viral. . . ."

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele, The Root: What Obama Should Do for His Last 2 Years in Office

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Josh Feldman, Mediaite: Fox's Kurtz to O’Reilly: Press Turning on Obama Because It's 'In Thing to Do'

Dan Kennedy "Media Nation" blog: It's time for the Herald to close the circle (Oct. 2)

Roque Planas, HuffPost LatinoVoices: Latino Support For Obama Takes A Dive: Gallup

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Sharpton Offers "Preacher Status" to Donors

"Festivities are kicking off for Rev. Al Sharpton's 60th birthday at the Four Seasons restaurant Wednesday night," Stephanie Smith wrote Monday for the New York Post.

"But his 'Party for a Cause' is also helping raise money for his National Action Network.

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"We're told $1,500 gets you in as a 'medallion' committee member, $2,500 buys 'tracksuit' status, and $25,000 'preacher status.'

"Those who've made preacher include BET chief executive Debra Lee, [financier] Ron Perelman and Essence Communications CEO Michelle Ebanks.

"MSNBC's Phil Griffin, Aretha Franklin, Spike Lee, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Charles Rangel are also expected. . . ."

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Sharpton hosts the daily "PoliticsNation" for MSNBC.

Meanwhile, RiShawn Biddle, writing for his Dropout Nation site on the American Federation of Teachers' latest filing with the U.S. Department of Labor, reported, "The AFT has been stepping up its funding of black and other minority outfits. It gave $80,000 to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the power group within congressional and Democratic Party politics, and $35,000 to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

"The National Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs, the lobbying arm for Latino state legislators, and the NALEO Educational Fund each picked up $5,000 from the union; while the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Council of Negro Women, and the National Council on Educating Black Children each got $5,000. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which has long ago decided to ride in the pockets of the AFT, received $25,000 from the AFT; so did Al Sharpton's National Action Network, likely this time for supporting efforts by the union's Big Apple local to oppose efforts to end tenure (as well as to get the union to back its efforts on police brutality). . . ."

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The National Association of Black Journalists received $15,000.

Biddle is a former editorial writer for the Indianapolis Star, where he wrote about education and urban affairs.

Jeter Website to Enable Athletes to Bypass Reporters

"Despite years of politely fending off reporters' questions or offering responses that veered toward the bland, Derek Jeter is joining the news media," David Walstein reported Wednesday for the New York Times. "On Wednesday, just three days after playing his final baseball game, Jeter announced that he would publish The Players' Tribune, a website that gives athletes a forum to express their thoughts and feelings.

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"According to a news release, athletes will be able to share first-person accounts, videos, podcasts, photographs and polls on the site. Jeter said he would be closely involved. . . ."

Christopher Massie, Columbia Journalism Review: In all the goodbyes, media didn’t catch why Jeter will be missed

Short Takes

"A 25-minute ambulance wait for a medical emergency at Detroit city hall Thursday is drawing criticism," WJBK-TV reported on Friday. "Detroit News reporter Darren Nichols was suffering stroke-like symptoms in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center's press room of the basement. Free Press reporter Matt Helms spotted him and knew something was wrong, calling 911 at about 10:10 a.m. and called again with his last attempt at 10:30, he said. The ambulance showed up shortly after. . . ." Nichols is a past president of the Detroit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

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"PBS and CBS dominated the 35th annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards on Tuesday night at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City, with PBS winning 11 awards and CBS taking 10," Steve Pond reported Wednesday for the Wrap. Among the winners were, "Outstanding Historical Program – Long Form: "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.", PBS; "Outstanding Newscast or News Magazine in Spanish": CNN en Espanol, "Panorama Mundial"; "Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in Spanish": Telemundo, "Pope Francis"; "Outstanding Investigative Journalism in Spanish": Univision, "Aqui y Ahora: El Chapo: El Eterno Fugitivo" and Discovery en Espanol: "Trata de Mujeres: De Tenacingo a Neuva York."

Mekahlo Medina, technology and social media reporter for KNBC-TV in Southern California and president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, has been named one of 41 Latino LGBTQ role models by Honor 41, which describes itself as "a national Latina/o LGBTQ online, 501 c3 non-profit organization that promotes positive images of our community, creates awareness about our issues and builds an online family/community." (video)

"A man serving life in prison for the killing of a Philadelphia police officer in 1981 has been selected as a commencement speaker at his Vermont alma mater," the Associated Press reported Wednesday. "Goddard College, a liberal arts college in Plainfield with 600 students, says on its website that Mumia Abu-Jamal's recorded remarks will be played Sunday at a commencement, along with a video about him. Bob Kenny, the school's interim president, is quoted on the website as saying the graduates' selection of Abu-Jamal reflects 'their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that.' . . ."  Maureen Faulkner, widow of slain police officer Daniel Faulkner, told CNN, "It's a disgrace that you have to even hear his voice . . ."

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In Chicago, Felicia Middlebrooks celebrated her 30th anniversary Wednesday as morning co-anchor for CBS Radio's WBBM-AM. She told Robert Channick of the Chicago Tribune that the hardest part of doing morning drive radio for 30 years, was "just waking up . . . That's the challenge — to get going. Because once you're there, I get this rush every morning. I come in there ready to roll. There's a sense of obligation and purpose, and you know there are people waiting on you to help them start their morning."

"As social networks go, Instagram has never had a particularly serious reputation," Kevin Roose reported Tuesday for New York magazine. He also wrote, "And yet, this week's pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have shown that Instagram may be shifting out of its avocado-toast phase. The app has reportedly been blocked in mainland China, putting it in the company of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and Sina Weibo as social networks that the Chinese government views as serious threats to its stability. . . ."

"Standing outside Madison Square Garden on Sunday, ahead of a rally for India's new prime minister, Narendra Modi, the Indian television anchor Rajdeep Sardesai reminded viewers back home that the New York arena had been the site for many famous events, including 'Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier,' Robert Mackey reported Tuesday for the New York Times. "Within minutes, after a crowd of Modi supporters had turned on him — apparently because of his failure to share their enthusiasm for Mr. Modi — Mr. Sardesai found himself in a strange clash of his own, exchanging pushes, insults and misdirected slaps with a man who had harassed him during his live report. . . ."

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"'And he did all this between 21 and 26,' said Lynn Gumpert, still incredulous," William Meyers wrote Sept. 23 for the Wall Street Journal. "The director of New York University's Grey Art Gallery motioned to the exhibition of 120 photographs by Ernest Cole that surrounded us. A black South African in the era of apartheid, Cole (1940-1990) early on determined to document the brutal reality of his country's racial policies. His precocity and energy are evident in the show and, since it was illegal to photograph much of what he shot, so are his courage and cunning. Exile was the reward for his success. . . ." The exhibit runs through Dec. 6, Richard Horgan wrote for FishbowlNY.

"Playboy Enterprises and Arbol Publishing are partnering for a new shade of the venerable men’s magazine," Richard Horgan reported Tuesday for FishbowlNY. "Playboy Latino will launch in December as a bi-monthly. From today's announcement: 'Playboy Latino will be published predominantly in Spanish and will feature a mix of original content, as well as pictorials and articles from the Playboy archives that will be repackaged for a Latino audience. . . ." Initially, the publication will be subscription-only, with no newsstand sales.

In the Oct. 7 episode of " Finding Your Roots: Season 2," "Our American Storytellers" on PBS, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. is joined by American director and documentarian Ken Burns, CNN anchor and journalist Anderson Cooper, and actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith," the show's publicists said Wednesday. The 10-episode second season airs Tuesdays, Sept. 23-Nov. 25. Season preview.

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The Postal Service has unveiled two designs for the postal stamp honoring the late NBA great Wilt Chamberlain. Each is more than 2 inches tall, and was designed by artist Antonio Alcala, who has previously designed stamps to honor Janis Joplin and Lydia Mendoza, Nick Schwartz reported for USA Today. Donald Hunt, a longtime writer with the Philadelphia Tribune, had been urging such a stamp since 2008.

"In the first of a four-part 'Undercover in Vietnam' series on press freedom in Vietnam, CPJ Southeast Asia Representative Shawn Crispin explores the risks bloggers take so they can cover news events and protests," according to an editor's note Thursday from the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Under near-constant surveillance and with the threat of arbitrary detention hanging over them, the desire for an independent press drives Vietnam's bloggers to continue to write. . . ."

"Asian Americans are so rarely mentioned on the Sunday television talk shows that it's possible to break down each mention separately in a 27 page report," Randall Yip reported Wednesday on his AsAmNews site. "A report by Change Lab found Asian Americans received just 13 mentions in a six month period from Jan 1 to June 30, 2014. . . ."

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"With the launch of the federal government's AAPI data tool (Data.gov/AAPI), we are at a defining moment in the growing visibility of our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities," Karthick Ramakrishnan wrote for AsAmNews. "What is this resource? It a place that centralizes access to data that the federal government puts out, with a searchable database that draws information from 27 federal agencies and counting. . . ."

"Journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, civil rights movement organizer and educator Robert Moses and baseball icon Frank Robinson are 2014 Freedom Award winners, the National Civil Rights Museum announced Tuesday," the Commercial Appeal in Memphis reported.

"Four journalists from Burma, Iran, Russia, and South Africa will be honored with the Committee to Protect Journalists' 2014 International Press Freedom Awards, an annual recognition of courageous reporting," the press freedom organization announced on Tuesday. They are Burmese journalist Aung Zaw, founder and editor-in-chief of the Irrawaddy, which was branded an "enemy of the state"; Siamak Ghaderi, an Iranian freelance journalist who spent four years in prison; Mikhail Zygar, editor-in-chief of the Russian independent TV channel Dozhd; and Ferial Haffajee, editor-in-chief of City Press in South Africa. 

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"Honduran opposition broadcaster Julio Ernesto Alvarado is again subject to a 16-month ban on working as a journalist," Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday. "After originally taking effect in February as part of a sentence for a criminal defamation, the ban was suspended in April but an appeal court reimposed it on 24 September. It stems from a case by Belinda Flores, the former economics faculty dean at the Autonomous University of Honduras, who accused Alvarado, a programme host with Radio and TV Globo, of defaming her because he reported the charges that the supreme court had brought against her. . . ."