Ex-Knight-Ridder, Johnson Publishing Exec Moves to D.C.

Bryan Monroe, former news executive at the defunct Knight Ridder and at Johnson Publishing Co., has joined CNN as editor of CNNPolitics.com, CNN announced on Monday. Monroe told Journal-isms he considered it his "dream job" and had started on Monday.


"In this newly created role, Monroe will lead the editorial planning and content strategy for CNN's online and mobile political coverage from the network’s DC Bureau," an announcement said.

Monroe, 45, a past president of the National Association of Black Journalists, had been a visiting professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill.

Meredith Artley, vice president and managing editor of CNN.com, said in a news release, "Bryan is an outstanding addition to the talented CNNPolitics.com team, and also to CNN’s DC bureau, including Sam Feist, Edith Chapin and their teams. His experience and leadership will expand and deepen our political reporting across CNN.com, The Political Ticker and all of our mobile products.”


Monroe said CNN "reached out to me a few months ago. We started talking and [were] able to make it happen." He said he planned to make political coverage relevant "to people all over the country, as well as critical to those inside the Beltway."

In the release, he said, "I am thrilled to be joining CNN and the nation’s ‘best political team,’ particularly at a time when political coverage is at the front and center of the national conversation. Helping extend those conversations across the Web and mobile devices is an exciting challenge."

Monroe joined the Medill faculty in October 2009. He said that his professorship there ended with the last quarter but that he would keep a relationship with the school, which has a Washington operation.


Monroe was assistant vice president/News at Knight Ridder when the company went out of business in 2006. While at Knight Ridder, he was part of a team that won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for the Sun-Times of Biloxi, Miss., for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina. He joined Johnson Publishing Co. as editorial director of Ebony and Jet magazines, its first top editorial leader from the mainstream media.

He resigned in 2009 after nearly three years there. After leaving Johnson, Monroe was a contributor to CNN, commenting on the death of Michael Jackson, whom he interviewed for Ebony's December 2007 issue. Monroe was NABJ president from 2005 to 2007

NBC's Diversity Pledge Gives Cleaver a Key Sunday Spot

The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus was among the first to voice his opinion on the Tucson, Ariz., murder tragedy on the Sunday talk shows, most likely the result of a year-old pledge by NBC to include more diverse voices on "Meet the Press."


Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., was already scheduled to be on "Meet the Press" before a man opened fire outside an Arizona supermarket on Saturday, killing six people and wounding 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who remains in critical condition.

"All of us conduct those town hall meetings," Cleaver told host David Gregory, in words that conveyed that he was speaking for members of Congress of all races. "I've done one every month since I've been elected — since I was elected, called — we call it 'Coffee with the Congressman.' And we must, in a democracy, have access to our constituents. And I think what we are seeing, though, is . . .  the public is being riled up to the point where those kinds of events  and opportunities for people to express their opinions to us are becoming a little volatile. We have 435 members of Congress. If you rank them in terms of volatility, Gabby is probably in the last one-half of 1 percent. . . . And it just seems so ironic that she would become a victim."

"This ought to be a wake-up call to, not only the members of Congress, but the people in this country, that we're headed in the wrong direction. Congress meets a lot, but it rarely comes together. We are coming from, from two different points of view — which is a democracy and we ought to do that — but we, we come for the purpose of fighting. And, and it's, it's entertainment, I guess, for the nation, for some. But for some it, it gives them an excuse to exercise the bitterness that, that may be deep inside of them. And we've, we've got to watch what we say, and we're not doing it."


"Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is proving to be a voice of reason . . .," Justin Kendall wrote in the Pitch, an alternative Kansas City newspaper.

Complaints by the Congressional Black Caucus that its members have been ignored on the Sunday talk shows helped lead to TV One's "Washington Watch" with Roland Martin. NBC, seeking approval for its merger with Comcast, made a series of pledges last year to address diversity concerns.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik helped to ignite a national debate Saturday when he said that "vitriolic political rhetoric" heard on radio and television caused the gunman to go on his bloody killing spree.


"When the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates, and to try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it has impact on people especially who are unbalanced personalities," Dupnik said Saturday night.

In an interview with hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons that some said betrayed that he thought in terms of "sides," Fox News Chief Roger Ailes said, "I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that."

On Diversity, New Media Are More Stubborn Than the Old

"The Huffington Post is one of several online organizations that refuse to disclose how many people of color work there," this columnist writes for Poynter.org.


"But pictures tell the story.

"For at least the last two years, Arianna Huffington’s pioneering, buzz-creating website has posted photos of its staff holiday party, and a casual glance shows few people of color.

"That might explain the skepticism that greets declarations of commitments to diversity from HuffPost and others that won’t say exactly how diverse they are. They don’t seem to believe that the old Ronald Reagan line — 'Trust but verify' — applies to them.


"Asked to name the one or two staffers in last month’s photo who appeared to be African American, Mario Ruiz, spokesman for the operation, replied by e-mail, “sorry, cant identify folks for you.”

"It's 2011, and online is where they’re hiring. Will the new year be just like the old one? . . ." [Added Jan. 11]

 How About the First "Biracial" Press Secretary?

Bill Burton, the deputy White House press secretary, is on some journalists' lists as a possible successor to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who leaves the White House next month to "hit the lucrative speaking circuit and become a paid consultant to the Obama reelection campaign," in the words of the Washington Post.


Some have said Burton would be the first black or African American press secretary.

Asked how he refers to himself, Burton had a different answer, and said he doesn't often get the question. He told Journal-isms by e-mail, "I'm biracial because I'm african american and polish american." He added, "But I basically only have to refer to myself as one of those things in response to emails from you!"

Early in the Obama administration, Journal-isms also asked Burton about his ethnicity.



Miami Herald Co-Produces Documentary on Haiti Quake

The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald are marking the one-year commemoration of the devastating earthquake in Haiti with "Nou Bouke," a documentary produced by the newspapers in collaboration with independent filmmaker Joe Cardona and WPBT2, the Miami affiliate for PBS. The hour-long documentary, narrated by award-winning Haitian author Edwidge Danticat, is the first of its kind for a major U.S. newspaper, the Herald said.

"Nou Bouke: Haiti’s Past, Present and Future" is airing nationally on PBS stations in most markets. The showings were to begin on Sunday, with most premiering between Tuesday and Thursday.


In less than a minute on Jan. 12, 2010, as many as 300,000 people were dead, buried beneath a pile of rubble in what the Herald called the Western Hemisphere’s most devastating natural disaster.

The saga told in the documentary is unfinished, as is the story of the earthquake. The film, making extensive use of subtitles, begins with sad images of damaged and dead bodies. One participant notes that more died in the quake than in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It continues with a short history of the country, including its victimization by a series of dictators and the double standard applied by the United States to would-be immigrants from Haiti and Cuba, and the American policy's life-and-death consequences.

Almost on its own, a tear falls as Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald Haitian bureau chief, tells her part of the story.


"Nou Bouke" is a Creole term for "We’re Tired."

Meanwhile, the networks made plans for their own anniversary coverage. Molly Stark Dean of TVNewser compiled a roundup.


Cell Phones Could Create New "Digital Divide"

"When the personal computer revolution began decades ago, Latinos and blacks were much less likely to use one of the marvelous new machines," Jesse Washington wrote Monday for the Associated Press. "Then, when the Internet began to change life as we know it, these groups had less access to the Web and slower online connections — placing them on the wrong side of the 'digital divide.'

"Today, as mobile technology puts computers in our pockets, Latinos and blacks are more likely than the general population to access the Web by cellular phones, and they use their phones more often to do more things.


"But now some see a new 'digital divide' emerging — with Latinos and blacks being challenged by more, not less, access to technology. It's tough to fill out a job application on a cellphone, for example. Researchers have noticed signs of segregation online that perpetuate divisions in the physical world. And blacks and Latinos may be using their increased Web access more for entertainment than empowerment.

". . . Facebook and Internet access are what most of Miguel Amador's customers want when they enter his two stores in Latino neighborhoods in Camden, N.J. Five years ago, the majority of his revenue came from music CDs. Now his mobile device sales are up 50% from a year ago. His top seller is the MyTouch 4G phone, which costs $499.

". . . He recognizes that mobile phones are more limited than computers: 'Phones are more for entertainment right now. I don't want to use the word uneducated, but I don't think (customers) are 100% educated on what the Internet can do in your life. They just see you can have fun on it.'


"'For the Latino community,' he says, 'people without Internet are missing about 65% of the opportunities in life.'"

Indian Country Today Expands to "Media Network"

"Ray Halbritter, Nation Representative and CEO of the Oneida Nation, announces the evolution of Indian Country Today Media Network, the first ever all-inclusive media network for Native Americans," according to a news release issued Thursday. The headline says the network begins Jan. 14.


"The fully developed Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN) is the premier portal for Indian Country and the go-to destination for all things indigenous. The various platforms upon launch will include www.Indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com and a weekly magazine, This Week From Indian Country Today. There are also plans in development to launch syndicated and online radio shows.

"Indian Country Today Media Network has evolved from Indian Country Today, a regional newspaper that has served the community for three decades. Indian Country Today was purchased by Four Directions Media, an Oneida Nation Enterprise business in 1998. Under Halbritter, the newspaper developed into an award winning, nationally recognized publication.

". . . An advisory board of leading and prominent members of the Nations — including tribal leaders, educators, entrepreneurs and government officials — will help guide the policy of Indian Country Today Media Network, as will Op Ed Editor Ray Cook and Washington D.C. Bureau Chief Rob Capriccioso. Those who have already accepted places on the board include Dr. Jose Barreiro, Mark Trahant, Duane Champagne, and expert in Native American affairs, Carole Goldberg. Further announcements in all areas will be forthcoming."


Huck Finn's N-Word: Views From Middle School

The debate over a proposal to replace the N-word in some editions of Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" has drawn righteous outrage from journalists and other writers, but it seems largely to be left to the online comments sections to discuss the issue from the perspective of middle and high school students.

That discussion was provided by readers of Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog for theAtlantic.com, while Jamelle Bouie was filling in last week. Some examples:

"Huck Finn is not appropriate for middle school. I taught mid school and the children have very little humanity at that age. Maturity, none. One of my daughter's fellow students told her, 'My grandparents owned your grandparents.' Typical shit. They're savages at that age. And, don't anyone jump on and tell me how their child is an angel. Bullshit.


"HF is better taught in high school when children have rejoined the human race." ("Kerry")

"Well and especially because Huckleberry Finn is typically read at such a young age, comparatively. It's hard to have a 7th grade class read a book with the word 'penis' in it 200 times either. I'd argue that the N word (sorry, I'm white and suburban and can't say it without cringing…which I'm guessing is true of many teachers too, which might make reading along in class hard) means something different to many students now than when Mark Twain used it originally. If they're like I was, they don't have the experience of people who use it constantly in casual conversation…aside from rappers. To them, it's not a word of casual racism, it's a word of shock value and taboo. I'd argue that keeping the original text could actually impede kid's understanding.

"Obviously, we wouldn't want to burn every copy of the original version in existence, but I can see how at a middle school level it could be enough a distraction that the options are to not read it at all, or make a substitution." ("WatchingTheRain")


"I remember reading an article written by an African American on her experience being the only black person in her class when the book was read, and how some took glee in saying the word outright."

"I was that kid. Yep, the only one. Back in the day, Huck Finn was a requirement for 11th grade Am lit classes. I was fairly new to the school, a high school in a conservative part of the county/southern part of the state, quite different from the very blue region where I was raised. There was considerable grumbling from other black students on campus, and I have to say, i was hesitant going in, tensing up quite a bit at the thought that I was going to have to hear this word. But, it turned out not to be the big deal I thought. My teacher was Jewish, and he loved me (he'd read all my essays aloud to the class), and had very recently gone ape-shit on a student for making a tasteless joke about Jews (the student didn't know he was Jewish). Anyway, he guided us through the material with an iron hand. I lived through that and HOD, as a senior, which I loved, because both spoke the truth about the era.

"I don't know…maybe, it's me, but I prefer honest straight forward authenticity to bullshit pc-ism, any day." ("A_D_W")


SPJ Committee Recommends Retiring Helen Thomas Award

"The Executive Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists voted Saturday to recommend that the organization retire the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement. The recommendation, which will be sent to the full board of directors within the next 10 days for a vote, states that the award will be retired with Thomas’ name attached," SPJ announced.


"The recommendation by the executive committee is to retire the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement, meaning no lifetime achievement award will be given. The recommendation is not to rename it or to remove Thomas’ name.

"The retirement will not take effect unless the board votes to accept the recommendation.

"The executive committee said the following in making its recommendation: 'While we support Helen Thomas’ right to speak her opinion, we condemn her statements in December as offensive and inappropriate.' "


The Detroit News quoted Thomas as saying then, 'Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists. No question.'

Last week, the Falls Church (Va.) News-Press announced it had signed the former White House correspondent, now 90, to resume her weekly political affairs column. News-Press owner Nicholas F. Benton wrote that, as one who has known Thomas since 1991, "She is progressive, and following my more than eight hours of direct, one-on-one talks with her since the events of last June, I remain firmly convinced that she is neither bigoted, nor racist, nor anti-Semitic."

Yvette Walker Teaching, Doesn't Quit Her Night Job

Yvette Walker, night news director at the Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, started teaching on Monday as the Edith Kinney Gaylord Endowed Chair of Journalism Ethics in the Department of Mass Communication at the University of Central Oklahoma.


Walker was most recently director of presentation and custom publishing for the Oklahoman. She has worked at the Kansas City Star, the Austin American-Statesman, the Detroit News, the Dallas Times Herald and the Post-Tribune in Gary, Ind., and is a former editor of the National Association of Black Journalists' NABJ Journal.

Asked how she would perform both jobs, she said by e-mail, "I will work hard! :) I find teaching rewarding and enjoyable, however, I'm not ready to leave journalism. I believe both my roles help my students understand the practicalities of what I'm teaching, and my company gains by having me train talented young people we may hire one day."

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