"The Cleveland kidnapping case has all the elements of an unforgettable news story, including a bizarre crime, innocent victims, heroes and a happy, at least for the most part, ending," Michael Malone wrote Wednesday for Broadcasting & Cable.
"As such, it's nothing short of a circus on site in Cleveland, as the local TV reporters trade elbows with news crews from as far away as Australia, Japan and Argentina to follow the story of the three women, Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight, who were freed earlier in the week.
" 'It's a sea of reporters at the scene of both homes,' says Dan Salamone, news director at Raycom's WOIO. 'It presents a challenge for the police, and also for us as we continue to try and bring the story home for local viewers. It's a mad scene.'
"The next big get will be with the victims. One victim's relative attempted to speak to the media Wednesday, but gave up when she was not able to be heard. 'It's going to take some time,' says Brooke Spectorsky, president and general manager of Gannett's WKYC. 'They've been locked up for ten years, and it's a circus out there.' . . . "
Meanwhile, Charles Ramsey, who was lauded as a folk hero this week, remained in the spotlight — but not always in a good way.
Some debated whether viewers were laughing with him or at him, and the Smoking Gun reported, "The Cleveland man credited with helping free female captives from a house of horrors is a convicted felon whose rap sheet includes three separate domestic violence convictions that resulted in prison terms, court records show.
"Charles Ramsey, whose 911 call and subsequent TV interviews have made him a microcelebrity, was once a repeat spousal abuser whose marriage ended in divorce following a 2003 felony conviction for battering his wife. . . ."
Ramsey himself rejected the "hero" label. "I don't even want it," Ramsey told Russ Mitchell and Erin Kennedy of WKYC-TV in Cleveland in one of several media appearances. "They keep saying I'm a hero. Let me tell you something, I’m an American, and I'm a human being. I'm just like you. I work for a living. There was a woman in distress, so why turn your back on that? My father would have whupped the hell out of me if he found out that I had coward-ed out."
Cleveland police announced Wednesday that they had charged Ariel Castro with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape in connection with holding Berry, DeJesus and Knight captive for the last decade, the Plain Dealer reported, conveniently listing the day's developments on its website under the headline, "8 things we learned today about the Decade of Captivity for Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight."
"And we must continue to collaborate, educate and hold law enforcement officials accountable to better protect young people from sexual exploitation. That means re-evaluating, again, how Cleveland police handle missing-persons cases. They need to keep looking and working every lead until the missing are found. . . ."
Rebecca Aguilar, News Treadmill blog: Cleveland case sheds light on 800,000 children reported missing in the U.S.
Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: Kidnap hero's colorful interview leads to 2013 kind of tribute
Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: ""Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms."
Margaret Bernstein, Plain Dealer: Freed women give missing-persons activist Judy Martin a reason to be joyful
Michael H. Cottman, Black America Web: Charles Ramsey: American Hero or Racial Healer?
Mark Dawidziak, Plain Dealer: For missing-women story, national news outlets quickly shift focus to Cleveland
Kevin Eck, TVSpy: Kidnap Hero's Interview Gets Taiwan Animation Treatment
Pat Galbincea, Plain Dealer: Cleveland will investigate 9-1-1 call from Amanda Berry
Arturo R. García, Racialicious: Open Thread 2: The Rush To Memeify Charles Ramsey
Doug Gross, CNN: Why the Web loves Cleveland hero Charles Ramsey
Aisha Harris, Slate: The Troubling Viral Trend of the "Hilarious" Black Neighbor
Demetria Irwin, the Grio: Charles Ramsey is an American hero, not a 'hilarious' meme
David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times: McDonald's shamelessly exploits Cleveland rescue
Tara McKelvey, BBC News Magazine: Cleveland abductions: Do white victims get more attention? (May 9)
Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Cleveland must do a better job of protecting and finding its missing women
Sara Morrison, Columbia Journalism Review: The Plain Dealer columnist who knew Amanda Berry’s mother
Erin McClam and Jeff Black, NBC News: Who's who in the Cleveland kidnapping case?
Mark Naymik, Plain Dealer: Charles Ramsey breaks stereotypes by helping Amanda Berry escape but will the Internet notice? (video)
Michael O'Malley, Plain Dealer: Castro family among first Hispanics to settle in Cleveland, coming from Puerto Rico just after World War II
Cliff Pinckard, Plain Dealer: Discovery of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight a worldwide phenomenon (video)
Connor Simpson, the Atlantic: Charles Ramsey Is an Internet Hero for All the Wrong Reasons
Debbi Snook, Plain Dealer: Charles Ramsey is hero for rescuing Amanda Berry, chef employer says
Alex Weprin, TVNewser: Anderson Cooper Chats With Cleveland Hero Charles Ramsey
The Daily News in New York Wednesday laid off columnist Tim Smith, the last African American in its sports department, and Albor Ruiz, a columnist who often wrote about Hispanic issues. Joe Pompeo, reporter for capitalnewyork.com, wrote, "Several sources put the total number of pink slips at around 15."
The news of Joanna Molloy's termination was particularly shocking," Pompeo wrote. "She's arguably the most famous writer still at the paper, having helmed its gossip pages for 15 years with her husband, George Rush, who took a buyout in 2010. . . ."
Smith, 53, known primarily as a boxing writer, told Journal-isms by telephone that he'd covered a range of sports events over 30 years and that "I would like to do anything that comes my way. I'm open to any and everything."
Smith said he was told that he was selected for the layoff because the News had identified categories of employees who would be eliminated and one of the three sports columnists' positions was on the list. There are 33 writers in the News sports department, he said.
Smith wrote about boxing while at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after Evander Holyfield, later a five-time heavyweight champion, left the Olympics in 1984. Smith also wrote about boxing for the Cincinnati Enquirer and the New York Times, where he was also an NFL writer. In Cincinnati, he covered the Bengals NFL team, and at the Times, the New York Jets.
Smith won the Nat Fleischer Memorial Award from the Boxing Writers' Association of New York for excellence in boxing journalism in 2005.
Ruiz, 71, has been a columnist since July 1993, according to his LinkedIn profile. In 2003, he was inducted into the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Hall of Fame. "Next? I am not really sure, but I have no plans to disappear from the face of the Earth," Ruiz messaged Journal-isms. "I'll be around."
Ruiz, a Cuban-American, came to the United States in 1961. When he returned from a trip to Cuba in 2006, Ruiz told Journal-isms he had a Cuban passport, "as all Cubans do." Cuban immigration authorities held him for two hours at the airport in Havana, but they allowed him to enter "because I have family in Cuba. I would not be granted a permit to work as a journalist," he said. Nevertheless, Ruiz said he went to work anyway and interviewed a dissident.
Ruiz's most recent columns carry such headlines as "New York City’s public libraries need their patrons to stand up against mayoral budget cuts," "The Gang of Eight's proposed immigration reform bill must be inclusive and not punitive," "Childcare workers' union leaders blast Bloomberg administration's EarlyLearn NYC program," "Once again, May Day is a time for workers to stand up and speak out in defense of their rights," and "The city’s hunger crisis stands to worsen as funding cuts to the food stamp program loom".
"Just as President Barack Obama announced Tuesday he would not make any concessions to North Korea, former NBA player Dennis Rodman called on Kim Jong Un to 'do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose,' " Thanh Tan, a Seattle Times multimedia editorial writer and columnist, wrote on her blog Tuesday.
"The man has a conscience. Good for him. Let's hope the retired NBA player's appeal makes a difference for Kenneth Bae," a Washington state tour operator who was arrested in North Korea in November.
"My Twitter exchange with Rodman started last Friday," Tan continued, 'when I posted this Tweet with a link to our blog:
"Hey @DennisRodman, plz use your #basketballdiplomacy skills. Ask your pal #KimJongUn to release #KennethBae. BLOG: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/opinionnw/2013/05/03/dennis-rodman-kim-jong-un-kenneth-bae-north-korean-prison/#.UYP1Pe1kjzo.twitter …"
"On Tuesday, he responded.
" 'I'm calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him "Kim," to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose.'
"Then added this.
" 'In direct response to your article headline, "Ok." Read your story @uscthanhtan, and I decided to help. http://ow.ly/kNvp3'
"I don’t know what to say, except — thank you, Dennis Rodman. Turns out you have a heart big enough to match the size of that ego.
"Foreign Policy just picked up the news.
" 'Rodman is the only American to have met and spent time lately with North Korea’s young leader.'
"Now we wait to see if and how Kim Jong Un responds."
Writing of Bae, the Associated Press explained, "The North's Supreme Court sentenced him last week for unspecified 'hostile acts' against the state. In a Foreign Ministry statement on Sunday, North Korea said the 44-year-old Washington state man entered the country with a disguised identity. . . ."
"The faux red carpet had been laid out for the famous and the wannabe-famous. Politicians and journalists arrived at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, bedazzled in the hopes of basking in a few fleeting moments of fame, even if only by osmosis from proximity to celebrities," Seema Jilani wrote Tuesday for the Huffington Post. She is a physician who specializes in pediatrics and a freelance radio journalist.
"New to the Washington scene, I was to experience the spectacle with my husband, a journalist, and enjoy an evening out. Or at least an hour out. You see, as a spouse I was not allowed into the actual dinner. Those of us who are not participating in the hideous schmooze-fest that is this evening are relegated to attending the cocktail hour only, if that. Our guest was the extraordinarily brilliant Oscar-nominated director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin. Mr. Zeitlin's unassuming demeanor was a refreshing taste of humility in a sea of pretentious politicians reeking of narcissism.
"As I left the hotel and my husband went to the ballroom for the dinner, I realized he still had my keys. I approached the escalators that led down to the ballroom and asked the externally contracted security representatives if I could go down. They abruptly responded, 'You can't go down without a ticket.' I explained my situation and that I just wanted my keys from my husband in the foyer and that I wouldn't need to enter in the ballroom. They refused to let me through. For the next half hour, they watched as I frantically called my husband but was unable to reach him.
"Then something remarkable happened. I watched as they let countless other women through — all Caucasian — without even asking to see their tickets . . . "
Jilan concluded, "I've come to expect this repulsive racism in many aspects of my life, but when I find it entrenched in these smaller encounters is when salt is sprinkled deep into the wounds. In these crystallizing moments it is clear that while I might see myself as just another all-American gal who has great affection for this country, others see me as something less than human, more now than ever before. . . ."
Steven Thomma, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Kristin Adderson, director of marketing management at the Washington Hilton, where the event took place.
"The public's views of whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence have changed little in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings," the Pew Research Center reported Tuesday.
But the center's survey found sizable demographic and religious differences in attitudes toward Islam and violence. "And the partisan gap is as large as ever: 62% of Republicans say that Islam encourages violence more than other religions, compared with 39% of independents and just 29% of Democrats.
"The survey also finds that Muslim Americans are seen as facing more discrimination than some other groups in society, including gays and lesbians, Hispanic Americans, African Americans and women."
The report continued:
"There also are substantial differences between the youngest and oldest age groups in perceptions of discrimination against gays and lesbians: 51% of those younger than 30 think there is a lot of discrimination against gays and lesbians, compared with 28% of those 65 and older.
"Notably, blacks, whites and Hispanics are all about equally likely to say there is a great deal of discrimination against Muslim Americans (47% of blacks and Hispanics and 45% of whites). When it comes to perceptions of discrimination against blacks and Hispanics, however, the differences are much greater. Nearly half of blacks (46%) say there is a lot of discrimination against African Americans, compared with a quarter of Hispanics (25%) and 16% of whites.
"About four-in-ten blacks (43%) and Hispanics (38%) say there is a lot of discrimination against Hispanic Americans, compared with 20% of whites.
"Notably, blacks are about as likely to say there is a lot of discrimination against Muslim Americans (47%) and Hispanic Americans (43%) as against African Americans (46%). Far more whites see a lot of discrimination against Muslim Americans than either Hispanic Americans (20%) or African Americans (16%)."
Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: Obama should close Gitmo — now
Ana Veciana-Suarez, Miami Herald: Mom of accused bombers should stop making excuses
"Iranian authorities are holding at least 40 journalists in prison as the June presidential election approaches, the second-highest total in the world and a figure that reflects the government's continuing determination to silence independent coverage of public affairs, a new analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists has found," the committee reported Wednesday.
"CPJ's census of journalists imprisoned on April 15 also highlights the severe deterioration of freedom of expression in Iran over time. In December 2004, during the last full year of President Mohammad Khatami's tenure, CPJ documented just one journalist in prison during its annual worldwide prison census. By December 2009, after a contested presidential election returned Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to office, the number had grown to 23 in CPJ's annual census. CPJ surveys since that time have consistently shown 35 to 50 journalists in prison in Iran at any given time. . . ."
Committee to Protect Journalists: Video: Iran's journalists in chains
Eva Fortes, Committee to Protect Journalists: Slideshow: Iranian journalists in chains
"Good move, governor. And you didn't even let on," Bryan Monroe, the editor of CNNPolitics.com, wrote Wednesday for the CNNPolitics website. Monroe lost more than 170 pounds after having gastric bypass surgery in 2006.
"When we chatted briefly at the White House Correspondents Dinner a few weekends ago, you looked very upbeat and energetic. I had no idea that you had undergone Lap-Band stomach surgery to lose weight," Monroe continued.
"And when I wrote that CNN piece about you on February 8 saying you needed to take your doctor's advice seriously and do whatever you could to drop some pounds, I had no idea you probably had made the decision already and were heading into surgery in eight days. . . ."
As reported in this space in February, Monroe and other formerly overweight media figures urged Christie to lose weight for his own health.
Sidmel Estes, like Monroe a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, and Joe Madison, talk-show host on SiriusXM radio, offered similar advice.
Christie told NBC News’ Brian Williams in an interview to air Friday on "Rock Center with Brian Williams," "Last fall, I was turning 50 and it really was a moment of reflection for me. And so I really just felt like for Mary Pat and for the kids that I needed to take a more significant step to try to get my weight under control so that I could have a really active next half of my life. . . ."
Dr. Timothy Moore, Tri-State Defender, Memphis: Too many too comfortable being overweight and oversized
Vadim Lavrusik, journalism program manager at Facebook, has offered "12 Best Practices for Media Companies Using Facebook Pages." He begins, "Learn how to get started as a journalist on Facebook, how you can use the platform to share news with your community and the tools that can help you in your reporting."
"Hispanics are a marketer's dream: digitally savvy, young and socially connected," Roberto Ruiz reported Monday for Adweek. "Indeed, it's no secret that Hispanics are tech-forward. Digitally, Hispanics far over-index non-Hispanics. For example, smartphones are indispensable to their lifestyles, with the vast majority (72 percent) [owning] at least one device, according to a recent Nielsen Mobile Media Marketplace study. Web video? Hispanics watch 62 percent more digital video than non-Hispanics, according to Nielsen’s Cross-Platform Report. . . ."
"The Associated Press announced an update to its social media guidelines, with a focus in part on potentially dangerous or sensitive stories, like the recent terrorist attack in Boston," David Taintor reported Tuesday for Adweek. Eric Carvin, AP social media editor, told Adweek that the guidelines actually predate the attack.
In an age of declining prime-time audiences and equally shaky ad rates, the two shows Shonda Rhimes created and runs for ABC, "Scandal" and "Grey’s Anatomy," are among the most valuable properties on the small screen today, Meghan Casserly wrote Wednesday for Forbes. "Together they pull in more than $13 million in advertising for ABC each week — just shy of $300 million a season, or about 5% of the network’s total revenue. That's not counting tens of millions more for Grey’s syndication or licensing in other countries, which Disney shares with Rhimes' production company, ShondaLand (FORBES estimates she earned $12 million this year). . . . "
"Olivia Pope has finally made it! Scandal star Kerry Washington has finally landed her first fashion cover for Elle’s June 2013 issue . . . , Valis Vicenty wrote Tuesday for glam.com.
"If you'e been reading the news lately, you know that TJ Holmes no longer has a show on BET," according to the Your Black World website. "We don’t know the primary reasons for this departure, but outsiders could easily see that this was the honeymoon that was never meant to be. BET has an audience that isn't a very good fit for men like TJ, so both BET and TJ were probably hoping to create a relationship that could never really happen. So, in the spirit of good clean fun, the Your Black World team came up with a list of reasons that BET and TJ Holmes didn't have a chance to work out in the first place. . . ."
The New York Times is launching weekly 10- to 15-minute, web-only documentaries with nonprofit Retro Report on the paper's baby boomer blog, Laura Hazard Owen reported Monday for paidcontent.org. Quoting Times reporter Michael Winerip, Owens wrote, "In a coming Retro Report on crack babies — infants born to addicted mothers — we learn that warnings in the 1980s about these children being damaged for life were not supported by the research of the time or by more recent studies. . . . Another video examines the story of Tawana Brawley and her chief supporter, Al Sharpton, who put forth a story of racial violence that turned out to be false and hurt many innocent people. . . ."
"Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes gave an endorsement of Jeff Zucker, who was hired in November to lead CNN," Eriq Gardner reported Tuesday for the Hollywood Reporter. Bart Feder, CNN senior VP of current programming, is leaving the network, Alex Weprin reported Tuesday for TVNewser.
A memorial service for Preston A. Davis, a pioneering television executive who served as president of broadcast operations and engineering for ABC, is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 15 at the New York Society of Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th St., Manhattan. Davis died April 15 at age 63. RSVPs are requested.
"About two in three eligible blacks (66.2 percent) voted in the 2012 presidential election, higher than the 64.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites who did so, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today," the bureau reported Wednesday. "This marks the first time that blacks have voted at a higher rate than whites since the Census Bureau started publishing statistics on voting by the eligible citizen population in 1996. . . ."
Until Tyler Brinegar witnessed "an undocumented 68-year-old Latina spontaneously grab a microphone at an immigration rights rally in Washington DC and share how she crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, Brinegar was a promotions producer for a television news station," the Latina Lista blog reported last week. "Yet, hearing that woman speak moved Brinegar to do something that most of his family and friends thought was bien loco — he quit his job and decided to follow members of The Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project (SSIP) — the organization that had brought the 68-year-old to Washington — as they fight for passage of immigration reform." Brinegar has created a Kickstarter campaign to help finish the film.
Skillcrush, an online tech education company that targets women in media professions, "is part of a crop of new media businesses — app developers, software companies, web and mobile publications — that are beginning to sprout out of journalism and communications schools around the country," Rachele Kanigel reported Tuesday for PBS MediaShift. "Over the past three years, J-schools have launched media entrepreneurship tracks, graduate programs and certificate programs aimed at cultivating a new generation of media entrepreneurs. I've profiled projects from three schools: CUNY, Syracuse and the University of Texas-Austin. . . ."
Morgan State University's board of regents voted Tuesday to officially launch its School of Global Journalism and Communications on July 1, with journalist DeWayne Wickham, USA Today columnist, as founding dean. Kweisi Mfume, former president of the NAACP and former Maryland congressman, was elected regents chairman, the Afro-American Newspapers reported.
"ABC News anchor and chief national correspondent Byron Pitts was honored today by the Stuttering Foundation at its May 7th gala in New York to celebrate National Stuttering Awareness Week," the foundation announced Tuesday. "Bullying, illiteracy and stuttering were the prologue to Byron’s journey to become one of America’s most trusted television journalists, and a great advocate for the stuttering community," said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation. Pitts' wife, Lyne Pitts, who was also honored, accepted on Byron Pitts' behalf, as the correspondent was covering Cleveland developments.
Adam Serwer is joining MSNBC.com as a national reporter focusing on civil rights, social justice and equality, Richard Wolffe, vice president and executive editor of MSNBC.com, wrote to colleagues on Monday. "Serwer is an award-winning journalist whose passionate reporting rose to national prominence at Mother Jones. He was previously a staff writer for The American Prospect and is one of the only reporters of his generation to be included in The Root 100." The website plans to relaunch this year, Alex Weprin reported for TVNewser.
"More than 90 million Indians are active users of Facebook and Twitter and a large number of them are women. Cyber stalking and bullying of women are common," Divya Arya of BBC Hindi wrote Tuesday. Sagarika Ghose, a well-known face of Indian television news, is threatened regularly with gang rape and stripping on Twitter, Arya reported.
"Yamiche Alcindor is off to a fast start," Sandra Muller wrote in a profile Tuesday for American Journalism Review. "At 26, the USA Today breaking news reporter has already been involved in coverage of such major stories as the Boston Marathon bombing and the shootings at Sandy Hill Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that she's been named Emerging Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. . . ."
"Fox News devoted significantly more airtime to the Heritage Foundation's claims that providing legal status to undocumented immigrants will have negative fiscal impact, but mostly ignored pro-immigration rallies during the same period," Media Matters for America reported Tuesday over a story by Salvatore Colleluori. Commentary by Sam Fulwood III.
"Beginning in 1996, Radio Diaries gave tape recorders to teenagers around the country to create audio diaries about their lives," the creators of "Radio Diaries" recall on their website. "NPR’s All Things Considered aired intimate portraits of five of these teens: Amanda, Juan, Frankie, Josh and Melissa. They're now in their 30s. Over this past year, the same group has been recording new stories about where life has led them for our series, Teenage Diaries Revisited. All this week on NPR we are chronicling how much happens in a life over 16 years." The subjects vary in ethnicity and sexual orientation.
"Journalists in Uganda are increasingly becoming their own enemy," Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, a member of the Ugandan Parliament, argued Tuesday in the Observer in Kampala. "We have ceded to the state the freedom and territory our mentors so jealously fought for and guarded. . . ."
In Côte d’Ivoire, "Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that newspaper publisher Ousmane Sy Savané was finally released on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, after being held for just over 13 months on a charge of endangering state security," the press freedom organization said Tuesday. "However, his release is only provisional, and Reporters Without Borders joins the National Union of Côte d’Ivoire Journalists (UNJCI) in calling for his definitive release. . . ."
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.