Death Threat, Sext Scandal for Detroit Reporter

Detroit News
Detroit News

Reporter's Travails Don't Make Detroit News

The disclosure Wednesday that Leonard Fleming, Detroit News city hall reporter, was removed from his beat after allegations that he was having an affair with the ex-wife of state Treasurer Andy Dillon and threatened to kill her sent rival news organizations to court records for the order of personal protection granted the woman on Jan. 10.


The News, however, decided not to cover the story, and Fleming told Elisha Anderson of the competing Detroit Free Press by telephone, "I cannot comment on any of it." Fleming has been on vacation.

Asked about the absence of coverage, Managing Editor Donald W. Nauss told Journal-isms by email, "Nothing new."


Jeff Wattrick of Deadline Detroit wrote this on Wednesday:

"Carol Dillon, the ex-wife of Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon, received a personal protection order Jan. 10 against Detroit News reporter Leonard Fleming after Carol Dillon filed papers saying Fleming had threatened to kill her with a baseball bat.

"According to documents in Wayne County Circuit Court, Carol Dillon also said Fleming harassed her numerous times and once texted her a photo of his penis. She said the message was: 'I would be missing this if I discontinued being his friend.'

"Despite that allegation, the nature of their relationship is not spelled out in the papers. When asked whether Fleming is a boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, spouse, ex-spouse, friend or neighbor, Dillon checked 'friend.'


"Fleming has been a Detroit city hall reporter for the News for several years. Andy Dillon was constantly involved in city hall coverage in 2012 as he served as Gov. Rick Snyder's point person in crafting the consent decree with Detroit concerning the city's precarious finances. Fleming wrote numerous stories last year in which Dillon was a main player.

"According to Carol Dillon's PPO filing, she also claims Fleming repeatedly harassed her with phone calls and text messages.


"Wayne County Circuit Judge Lynne Pierce entered a personal protection order on January 10 without a hearing. The order forbids Fleming from contacting Carol Dillon in person, by phone or mail, or entering onto her property. . . . "

A court clerk told Journal-isms that such orders typically are in effect for a year but can also be imposed for a lifetime.


Referring to Fleming, Nauss said that in light of new information, "the News is exploring whether other actions would be appropriate," Anderson reported in the Free Press. Nauss has confirmed Fleming's reassignment but said he could not discuss personnel issues.

Leonard Fleming with Steve Hood, WADL-TV: "Detroit Wants 2 Know" (video, 2011)

FAMU Chooses Former Opinions Editor for Top Job

"FAMU's student newspaper, the Famuan, has a new editor," Michael Koretzky wrote Friday for his Society of Professional Journalists blog.


"Her name is Angie Meus. She replaces Karl Etters, the editor who had recently won the job but was forced to reapply for it because of a libel charge against the paper from 2011. Back then, Etters was a reporter but not an editor.

"He and other observers have wondered if FAMU's apply-for-your-own-job scheme, plus the weirdness he's faced this month (see previous posts), was simply because he worked at the paper back then.


"Perhaps administrators sought a clean sweep — a new editor for a new era.

"But apparently, that's not the case. Meus, now a senior, was actually in management at the time: She was the opinions editor.


" 'I have been writing for The Famuan since my freshman year,' she emailed me last night. 'I was the opinions editor my junior year.'

"I wanted to pose the same question to the Famuan's new adviser, Kanya Stewart. Her predecessor was fired without comment, and she was hired without FAMU posting the job or consulting students (as the j-school dean had previously promised).


"And since there's still been no official announcement, no one besides Stewart and her boss — and we don't actually know who she reports to — has seen her job description, her salary, or even her schedule. . . ."

Sara Gregory of the Student Press Law Center reported Thursday, "The newly hired editor of The Famuan at Florida A&M University said Thursday afternoon that she hopes to improve the relationship between students and the newspaper during her term, which will kick off officially next week when the paper begins printing after a two-week suspension by the school’s journalism dean. . . ."


Stewart told Journal-isms Friday afternoon that she was leaving for the day and might return the telephone call from home.

Obama, Clinton in Mutual Admiration on "60 Minutes"

"President Barack Obama says Hillary Rodham Clinton will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state the nation has ever seen," CBS News announced on Friday. "He tells this to Steve Kroft with Clinton sitting beside him in the Blue Room of the White House, in their first joint interview conducted today (25) for broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 27 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT.


"The interview is the only U.S. interview the president has ever given with anyone other than his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama."

Clinton said of her partnership with the president, "A few years ago it would have been seen as improbable because we had that very long, hard primary campaign. But, you know, I've gone around the world on behalf of the president and our country, and one of the things that I say to people, because I think it helps them understand, I say look, in politics and in democracy, sometimes you win elections and sometimes you lose elections. And I worked very hard but I lost. And then President Obama asked me to be secretary of state and I said yes. And why did he ask me and why did I say yes? Because we both love our country."


Associated Press: Fox News cutting ties with Sarah Palin

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Obama Reboot

George E. Curry, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Hands off Malia and Sasha Obama


Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post: Does Obama's presidency improve the lives of everyday African Americans?

Lee A. Daniels, National Newspaper Publishers Association: King's Greatest Legacy: Seeing Polarization as Progress


Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Barack Unchained: President Obama Starts a Second Term

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: Deficit Reduction Rises on Public's Agenda for Obama's Second Term


Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Women ready for combat … are men ready for change?

Slideshow: 1,100 attend the Root Inaugural Ball

Goldie Taylor, the Grio: For female troops it's no longer 'a man's world'

Mark Trahant blog: Austerity: Murray says she's eager to contrast the Senate budget with those from the House


Jennifer Vanasco, Columbia Journalism Review: Inaugural diversity

Lynne K. Varner, Seattle Times: Scenes from the Obama inauguration: paying homage, looking forward


 U. of Montana Seeks to Produce More Native Journalists

". . . If the vision holds true and today's American Indian journalism students join tomorrow's workforce and hit the streets of Montana's cities and towns, credit will go in part to Jason Begay," Martin Kidston wrote Sunday for the Missoulian in Missoula, Mont.


Begay, a Navajo, is one of four new tenure-track professors hired recently by the university, Kidston wrote separately. ". . . The new hires weren't brought on to teach Native American Studies, but rather chemistry, journalism, environmental studies and pharmacy."

Montana isn't the only school paying more attention to Native Americans and journalism. Kevin Kemper, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona School of Journalism, wrote on Facebook Friday that faculty members were considering a program for a Ph.D. in journalism, with some favoring a specialization in "indigenous journalism."


Mark Trahant, board chairman of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, replied, ". . . what would even be better would be a center for the study of Native journalism, including undergraduate and graduate programs. There is really no academic program in the US (a couple in Canada, however) that focus in any way on indigenous journalism. It seems to me with the changing media landscape this would be more useful now than ever."

In his piece about the journalism program at Montana, Kidston continued, " 'What I try to bring to UM is the perspective of tribal journalism,' said Begay, an assistant professor of journalism at UM. 'Indian country does exist. We’re not a bunch of tragic figures.'


"Begay was recruited to UM to study journalism by Dennis McAuliffe, the first Native American journalist-in-residence at UM. Begay graduated in 2002 before earning opportunities to intern with The New York Times and the Oregonian — two giants in the newspaper industry.

"Armed with his new skills, he took his pen and notepad back to Gallup, N.M., to write for the Navajo Times. He returned to UM six years later to teach.


" 'It changed my life,' Begay said. 'I thought it would be cool to come back and do what he (McAuliffe) did for me. They agreed that I might be able to do a good job here.' "

". . . But finding qualified Native American reporters in Montana remains a difficult task. Just one Native American student was in the School of Journalism's professional program when Begay began two years ago.


"Now, he says with a hint of pride, there are four American Indians in the School of Journalism's professional program and three more in the pre-professional program. It's the beginning of what Begay hopes is a continuing trend. . . ."

Books to Ring in the New Year: Meta G. Carstarphen and John P. Sanchez, "American Indians and the Mass Media"


Verizon Sells Wireless Spectrum to Black-Owned Firm

Verizon Wireless Friday announced the sale of wireless spectrum licenses in the Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., cellular market areas to a black-owned firm as part of a larger transaction in which AT&T bought Verizon spectrum for $1.9 billion, the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council said on Friday.


". . . Carriers like Verizon and AT&T are snapping up spectrum left and right in order to deal with the increased bandwidth demands of smartphone- and tablet-hungry consumers," Chloe Albanesius reported for PC Magazine. "Both carriers are also building out their 4G LTE networks, which boosts speeds but includes even more bandwidth strains, resulting in the need for more spectrum."

MMTC said, "Over the past nine months, MMTC, the National Urban League (NUL) and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) worked with Verizon Wireless to help it conduct a wide and intensive outreach to minority- and women-owned telecommunications companies and entrepreneurs. Working closely with the nationally recognized minority investment banking firm Loop Capital LLC, NUL, NCLR and MMTC raised awareness of the sale process, and advised some 45 firms on procedures and strategies for bidding on the spectrum.


"Pew [Research Center] data discloses that sixty-four percent of African Americans, 63% of Hispanic Americans, and 57% of white Americans access the Internet through wireless devices. Wireless is the first technology for which people of color are the lead adopters."

The sale of 700 M Hz B block licenses, defined by MMTC president David Honig as "A bloc of very high quality spectrum that uses frequencies well suited for commercial wireless," went to Grain Management, LLC of Sarasota, Fla., in a transaction valued at $189 million.


In 2011, Black Enterprise named Grain Management one of the "20 Most Successful Black Companies to Watch in 2011." David J. Grain is founder and managing partner.

Joseph Torres, New America Media: FCC Chairman's Legacy: Ignoring Diversity

Audrey Edwards Writing "Tell-All" With Essence Founder Ed Lewis

Audrey Edwards, a former editor and executive editor of Essence magazine who has been associated with the magazine for 20 years, is collaborating with Edward T. Lewis, former chairman and CEO of Essence Communications and publisher of Essence magazine, on Lewis' memoir, Edwards told Journal-isms this week.


"I can now report that Simon & Schuster is the publisher," Edwards said by email, "Camille Cosby will be doing the foreword, and it's shaping up to be a tell-all that will talk about Ed's life and the creation of Essence, as well as what it's like to run a black-owned business. . . .  As a line in the introduction says, 'The story of Essence is the story of American business, black style.'

"The book's title is 'The Last Man Standing at Essence Magazine.' I'm having big fun with it . . . . Ed is a dream to work with." Lewis is 72.


Essence was founded in 1970 and is the largest American magazine targeting black women. In 2005, Time Inc., which owned 49 percent of Essence Communications, signed a non-binding agreement to acquire the rest of the company. With a circulation of 1,080,633 for the six months ending in June 2012, Essence is second only to Ebony among magazines about African Americans. Ebony's circulation was 1,255,542.

Covering Mali Called a Losing Cat-and-Mouse Game

"The French army is often called la Grande Muette, or 'the Great Silent,' " Jean-Paul Marthoz reported Friday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "The war in Mali confirms the French military's well-deserved reputation of being secretive about front-line actions. 'Locking the information is more in the culture of the French army than of the U.S. army,' says Maurice Botbol, director of La Lettre du Continent. In the first two weeks of military operations against Islamist militant groups in Mali, the French army has released only a blurry video of an air attack at an undisclosed location.


"International journalists who have flown to Mali are kept far from the front lines. No journalist has been embedded with the Special Forces that have carried out the first assaults. Most reporters who receive the authorization to accompany the troops are limited to coverage of marginal stories, such as military preparations on the Bamako airport or the 'progress of the troops to the North,' very far from the battlefields.

"The roads to the North are blocked by a succession of checkpoints manned by the Malian army. 'They are very nervous,' says Gérard Grizbec, a reporter with the public service TV channel France 2. 'They have received stern orders from the French forces: "Don't let yourself being overtaken by journalists." They usually ask us where we're going, check our passport, and request an accreditation of the Malian Communications Ministry.'


"And then they often turn the media away.

" 'All the reporters that travel to the North come back frustrated and furious to Bamako,' complains Jean-Paul Mari, special envoy for the newsweekly Le Nouvel Observateur. 'This is a war without images and without facts.' On January 22, the French channel i>Télé devoted a whole report to the difficulty of reporting. 'We try to outwit the Malian army,' says its editor-in- chief, Lucas Menget. 'It is like a cat-and-mouse game.' And up to now, it is a losing game for the press. . . .' "


Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Republicans are asking the wrong questions

Scott Sayare, New York Times: 2 Outlets Find Prized Sources in Algeria Siege: The Fighters


Short Takes

Thomas Lee, vice president for print of the Asian American Journalists Association and business reporter at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, "regrets he will not be able to complete his term and is resigning for personal reasons," AAJA announced on Friday. "AAJA is holding a special election to fill the remainder of his term, which ends Dec. 31, 2013." Meanwhile, Sue Green, broadcast director of the Cronkite News Service at Arizona State University, resigned from the board of Unity: Journalists for Diversity, where she represented the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, citing health reasons.


" 'Good Morning America' co-anchor Robin Roberts took a major step towards her return to daytime television Thursday morning, taking what the network called 'a behind-the-scenes test run' — that turned out to be a smashing success," Don Kaplan and Ethan Sacks reported Thursday for the Daily News in New York. "The 52-year-old daytime fixture hasn't been on live television since August, when she went on medical leave to undergo a bone marrow transplant last fall stemming from a rare blood disorder."

After five years of writing the "Diversity Diva" column in the Kansas City Star, Michelle T. Johnson Tuesday listed "the five biggest changes I've noticed overall about diversity, particularly as it affects the workplace." The first is that "People have become increasingly more polarized in their opinions. . . . people don't seem to have lighter, more moderate ways to express an opinion or characterize someone else's opinion position. They express them in colorful, challenging language. . . . "


Friends of Kathy Pellegrino, the reporter, editor, lawyer, mentor and diversity advocate at the South Florida SunSentinel who died at 57 on Oct. 30, are creating a scholarship in her honor at the University of Florida. Checks may be sent to P.O. Box 6474, Delray Beach, FL 33482 and made payable to the University of Florida Foundation. In the memo line write "College of Journalism and Communication," said Sheila Solomon, a former fellow recruiter who is among those friends. "Donations were at more than $3,300 as of Wednesday and, I believe, the goal is a minimum of $30,000," Solomon told Journal-isms by email.

When it comes to diversity, ". . . Newspapers sports departments are worse than NFL coaching staffs," Joe Grimm wrote Monday for "Only three of the 32 NFL cities have black [head] coaches and only three of those cities have newspapers with black sports editors."


"eBay has officially banned the 'Django Unchained' slave toys from being sold on the Internet shopping," Brittney M. Walker reported Friday for "After the Weinstein Company announced the release of the figurines, immediately outspoken activists and black consumers expressed outrage, charging the creators of trivializing enslavement. Thus the company halted production, but still put the toys out on the market. . . . " Meanwhile, a pro-gun group has launched a campaign aimed at African Americans,  "What Would Django Do?" according to Paul Bond in the Hollywood Reporter. More on action figures from BET.

"If you ever plan on wearing a Klan robe around Orange County, (either attempting to intimidate minorities or as part of an ill-conceived Halloween costume), the first thing you need to know is that the public response to the sight of your ludicrous cone-head will be immediate," Brandon Ferguson wrote last week for the OC Weekly. "As model/guinea pig for Gustavo Arellano's latest cover story on the Ku Klux Klan's shameful history in the land of citrus . . . during our two-day shoot, the stares cast at my robed persona spanned disbelief and revulsion." 


"Sandra Appiah is on a mission. The 23-year-old wants to rebrand Africa and alter skewed perceptions of the continent," Kunbi Tinuoye reported Thursday for the Grio. "The New York-based Ghana native says when she moved to the States as a teenager she was shocked by the racist name-calling, not only from whites, but teasing and bullying from black and Latino kids in the Bronx. . . . After two years of strategic planning, Appiah and her business partner, Isaac Boateng, 28, launched Face2Face Africa (F2FA) in March 2011, an online magazine with the mission of 'restoring Africa's image within the global community.' ”

Cox Media Group has funded the development of a "conservative Huffington Post" to be named Rare, Thomas Wheatley reported Thursday for Creative Loafing.


"NBC-owned KNBC Los Angeles (DMA 2) announced today that Hetty Chang will join the station as a multimedia reporter covering the Los Angeles South Bay," TVNewsCheck reported on Thursday. ". . . Chang was the first digital media fellow recipient through a pilot program between KNBC and the Asian American Journalists Association in 2011. Under the fellowship, she worked with the station's digital media team. . . ." 

"On the second anniversary of Egypt's January 25 revolution, Hosni Mubarak's footprints are still present in many areas of the public sphere — and media are no exception," Sherif Mansour wrote Thursday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "President Mohamed Morsi needs to cease using Mubarak-era tactics of silencing his critics with criminal charges such as defamation. . . ."


"Where does accurate reporting on a presidential candidate end and 'indirect' promotion of the candidate begin? That's the question facing Ecuadorean media outlets as they try to navigate an ambiguous legal landscape ahead of the country's Feb. 17th presidential vote," Scott Griffen wrote Thursday for the International Press Institute. "The confusion began last February, when current leader as well as election front-runner Rafael Correa exercised his line-item veto power to modify a bill reforming the country's electoral law (known as the 'Democracy Code') by introducing new restrictions on media campaign coverage. . . . "

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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education ( Reprinted on The Root by permission.

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