- Jet Editor To Lead Both Publications
- Black Writer Loses Column Over NRA Ties
- Disrupter Chooses Activism Over Column
- Was That Trump in the Stands at Fenway Park?
- In Spanish, the News Priority Is Immigration
- Gannett Layoffs Hit Small Papers Hardest
- The Story of Two Who Ran From Police
- Short Takes
“Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing, will exit the Chicago company next month,” Lynne Marek reported Saturday for Crain’s Chicago Business.
“With her departure, Chairman Linda Johnson Rice will reclaim both titles of her namesake firm, the former parent of Ebony and Jet magazines.
“. . . ‘I have appreciated my time with the company and am proud of the work we have done here, guiding the sale of legendary assets and strengthening Fashion Fair with a new team,’ Rogers said in the statement. ‘Now is the perfect time to pursue other interests.’
“Rogers is chairman of Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism bureau, and holds board positions at Chicago institutions including the Museum of Science & Industry, World Business Chicago and the Economic Club of Chicago.
“ ‘We are well-positioned to continue my father’s legacy and move these businesses forward in the future. . . .I am delighted to resume the leadership of both companies,’ Johnson Rice said in the statement. . . .” She is the daughter of founders John H. and Eunice Johnson.
As Marek wrote on March 9, “Johnson Rice, whose father founded the magazine company, had been CEO of the Chicago-based magazine outlet until she tapped former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers to lead the magazines as CEO of Johnson Publishing in 2010. . . .”
After Ebony and Jet were sold last year, Rogers remained CEO of Johnson Publishing’s now-separate Fashion Fair cosmetics entity, which is still owned by Rice.
Ebony magazine Thursday laid off nearly all of its masthead — as many as a dozen key members of its editorial team, members of that team told Journal-isms — and named a new editor-in-chief.
Linda Johnson Rice, CEO of Ebony Media Operations, confirmed the changes, though not revealing the number of layoffs, in an email Friday morning as she was about to board a plane.
In addition, Michael Gibson, whose firm bought the publication from Johnson Publishing Co., told Robert Channick of the Chicago Tribune Friday that the company is cutting nearly a third of its staff and consolidating editorial operations with sister publication Jet in Los Angeles.
Rice wrote, “Ebony Media continues to assess all areas of the business with a overall effort to streamline our operations and workforce to meet the demands of an increasingly fragmented media and digital landscape.
“As media continues to evolve, the company remains focused on implementing a strategic growth plan and building an infrastructure that enables the company to be poised for long term success.
“With that being said, Tracey Ferguson has been named the Editor In Chief of both Ebony and Jet and will oversee their respective digital sites as well as print publications.”
Ferguson (pictured left) was founder and editor-in-chief of Jones magazine, which targets the lifestyles of black women, when she was named editor-in-chief of a revived Jet magazine in February.
Kyra Kyles issued a statement Friday confirming her departure as editor-in-chief and senior vice president of digital editorial.
“I have enjoyed an exhilarating ride, and I am grateful for the opportunities in which I leveraged my digital, print and broadcasting skills for the benefit of our audiences across platforms. Looking ahead to my next media moves, I will continue to embrace my personal ideals and, through my own company Myth Lab Entertainment, continue to create content that keeps media audiences informed and entertained.”
Madison J. Gray, managing editor, digital, editorial, confirmed that he was one of those laid off, called into a room and given the news Thursday in a 10-minute conversation.
“We did amazing things with very little resources,” Gray said by telephone. He said that the team raised web traffic significantly.
He also pointed to an Ebony interview with Nate Parker, creator of the film “Birth of a Nation.”
“Exclusive: Nate Parker on Campus Incident, Consent and Toxic Male Culture,” the Aug. 26 article was headlined. “In a one-on-one interview, the ‘Birth of a Nation’ star gets candid about rape culture and shares what he’d tell his 19-year-old self about consent.”
Gray also said, “The current political climate demands journalists like the ones we had on our team. It’s time to dig in our heels and do what we need to do, looking at documents, interviewing people. We have a guy who decided to gut health care. That requires journalism . . . African Americans victimized by police negligence and law enforcement negligence . . .”
Gray acknowledged that many African American-oriented websites had turned “more pop culture-y” and oriented toward opinion pieces. He said that “social media had a lot to do with that.” However, Gray said, “there is space now to bring the concept of original reporting to social media.”
The turnover among Ebony’s editorial staff is only the latest shakeup since last June, when Johnson Publishing Co. sold the historic publication, founded in 1942, to Clear View Group, an African American-owned private equity firm based in Austin, Texas.
At that time, Kierna Mayo stepped down as editor-in-chief of Ebony and Kyles, who headed up digital content for Ebony and Jet, added the role of editor-in-chief of Ebony.
Cheryl McKissack, who had been chief operating officer of Johnson Publishing since 2013, became CEO of the new publishing entity, Ebony Media Operations, under Clear View. Operations remained in Chicago.
Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing and daughter of founders John H. and Eunice Johnson, was chairman emeritus on the board of the new company.
But McKissack departed, Lynne Marek reported March 9 for Crain’s Chicago Business. Rice returned to day-to-day involvement as CEO of Ebony Media Operations.
“The former weekly Jet ceased print editions in 2014, but Johnson Rice said she is reviving the magazine with print editions four times this year and added a new editor-in-chief, Tracey Ferguson, who is focused on millennial readers,” Marek reported. “In addition to its website, the magazine has a presence on social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. . . .”
However, financial problems mounted. Things appeared to be looking up in January when Rice outlined some of her plans before students at Harvard Business School, who used Ebony as a case study in dilemmas facing black businesses.
Ebony was considering reviving its Jet sibling as a newsstand product for millennials, Rice told the students. It also planned to publish more special single-themed issues for newsstand consumption and is branching out to stage special events as it seeks ways to extend the brand.
Those plans appear to be on track, with newsstand-only special editions and the hiring of a Jet editor. But Ebony is now operating out of shared office space operated by the wework chain.
In addition, Channick reported for the Chicago Tribune, “While new issues of Ebony have continued to hit newsstands, subscribers haven’t received copies of the magazine since the November issue, Gibson said, a problem related to a change in printers.”
On April 19, a tweet from freelance journalist Cat Distasio made public Ebony’s delays in paying writers. “I am not the only one who is owed thousands by @ebonymag. I have spoken to at least a half a dozen writers who have not been paid for 2016 work.”
Writing for The Root on April 26, Jagger Blaec described the reaction from Clear View co-founder Willard Jackson.
“In a text message exchange, Jackson replied, ‘Love to chat. I hear you are one of those reporters that like to tear down black businesses.’ When asked if there were any plans to recoup the missing funds for all of the freelancers affected by these delayed payments, Jackson claimed to have no knowledge of unpaid compensation.
“ ‘Missing funds? Exploited? Of course they are all getting paid. We bought the business to turn around all this stuff,’ he messaged.
“But other freelancers confided that they have yet to receive payment for work that had been invoiced in 2016. . . .”
Jackson did not respond to a request for comment on Friday, but some writers, such as Eric Deggans, television critic for NPR, have said they have since been paid.
Separately, Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday that she has been told that Desiree Rogers, “who was once the White House social secretary during President Barack Obama’s first term, is this/close to exiting Johnson Publishing Co. after five plus years, returning the management reins to the Johnson family. . . .” (second item)
On Saturday, the National Association of Black Journalists said it was “disheartened by news that Ebony Magazine laid off nearly a dozen key staff members this week, including several long-time NABJ members.”
“ ‘And so it begins,’ said Marlon A. Walker, NABJ’s vice president of print. ‘Fear that Ebony would lose its place on coffee tables around the country began when the Johnson family sold the business. Over the last two years, talented journalists such as (now former) editor Kyra Kyles and (now former) managing editor Kathy Chaney produced keepsake issues after the death of Prince and the demise of Bill Cosby’s legacy. As a print journalist, I hope the owners understand how important it is to keep Ebony as a mainstay in black households, telling stories that reflect our community.’ . . .”
Andy Lewis, Hollywood Reporter: WME Signs Jet, Ebony Magazines
Black Writer Loses Column Over NRA Ties
“Conservative writer and radio host Stacy Washington has lost her column at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch because of a conflict of interest surrounding her involvement with the National Rifle Association,” Jessica Chasmar reported Wednesday for the Washington Times.
“Editorial page editor Tod Robberson issued a statement Tuesday evening saying Ms. Washington’s ‘active promotional activities and professional association’ with the NRA represented an ‘unacceptable conflict of interest,’ which resulted in her suspension last week.
“The paper said Ms. Washington chose to terminate her contract, and her column would not be returning. . . .”
Danny Wicentowski added in St. Louis’ Riverfront Times, “However, Washington says she has never been paid by the NRA. And beyond that, her ties to the organization shouldn’t have surprised Robberson. Her credits for co-hosting shows on NRA News are highlighted her own website — and, even closer to home, the Post-Dispatch’s own Joe Holleman had reported on Washington’s contribution to an NRA documentary in August 2016, just a few months before she joined the paper on a freelance basis. . . .
“On Sunday, she tweeted the news of her suspension using a conservative meme initially created as a reference to attempts to ban AR-15 rifles. . . .”
Tod Robberson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Editor’s note: Stacy Washington’s column will no longer appear.
Disrupter Chooses Activism Over Column
Desmond Cole, a black Toronto journalist who was in this column several times in 2015 after writing a piece headlined, “The Skin I’m In: I’ve been interrogated by police more than 50 times — all because I’m black,” will no longer freelance for the Toronto Star, he wrote on Facebook Thursday, because the Star objected to his activism.
“This week I met with Andrew [Phillips], the Toronto Star’s editorial page editor, who has essentially served as my boss at the newspaper. Phillips called me in regarding my political disruption of the April 20 meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board.
“Phillips said this action had violated the Star’s rules on journalism and activism. He didn’t discipline me or cite any consequence for my actions — Phillips said he just wanted me to know what the Star’s rules are.
“I have no formal employment with the Star. I’ve never signed any contract or agreement, and no one ever directed me to any of the policies Phillips cited. However, I knew my police protest was activism, and I could have guessed the Star wouldn’t appreciate it.
“At no time during this week’s meeting did Phillips try to tell me how I must conduct myself in the future. He did say he hopes I will continue my bi-monthly column. I appreciate the offer but I’m not going to accept it. If I must choose between a newspaper column and the actions I must take to liberate myself and my community, I choose activism in the service of Black liberation.
“There’s so much I feel and could say about this decision, but for now I will limit my commentary to my experience as a freelancer with the Star. For the last year I have been contributing to the Star once every two weeks. I started as a weekly columnist in September of 2015 but my space was cut in half after eight months with almost no explanation (at the time Phillips cited budget struggles and told me ‘times are tough’).
“I doubt any freelance columnist in the recent (or even not so recent) history of the Star has consistently generated more interest and readership, and consequently more revenue, than I have. . . .”
Kathy English, Toronto Star: Journalists shouldn’t become the news: Public Editor
John Miller, rabble.ca: Can a journalist be an activist? Let’s hope so (April 22)
Mike Sholars, HuffPost Canada: Desmond Cole Will Be Fine; The Canadian Media? Not So Much
Was That Trump in the Stands at Fenway Park?
Dan Wasserman, editorial cartoonist at the Boston Globe, saw a connection between the racial slurs tossed at Baltimore Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones on Monday at Boston’s Fenway Park and President Trump’s taunting of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as “Pocahontas,” a jab at her Native American ancestry.
“Boston is rightly convulsed with the latest evidence of persistent racism in the city,” Wasserman told Journal-isms by email.
“But the bigger, more startling reality is that there is a unabashed racist sitting in the White House. The ‘Pocahontas’ taunting of Warren is only the latest example of his toxicity, and it gives permission to small-minded bigots, like those at Fenway, to [follow] his example and spew their hatred.”
Daniel Arkin, NBC News: Trump Again Derides Elizabeth Warren as ‘Pocahontas’ (April 28)
Mark Charles, Indian Country Media Network: A Native perspective on Donald Trump’s first 100 days
Russell Contreras, Associated Press: In age of Trump, many feel there isn’t much to celebrate on Cinco de Mayo
Renée Graham, Boston Globe: Stop pretending Boston is something it’s not
Indian Country Media Network: NCAI Condemns President Trump’s Derogatory Use of Pocahontas
Jesse Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times: President Donald Trump succeeds in trashing civil rights
Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe: Adam Jones and the burden of proof
In Spanish, the News Priority Is Immigration
“On Saturday, April 29, President Trump celebrated his first 100 days at a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, itemizing self-proclaimed triumphs and mocking the fancy-dress crowd of Hollywood and media celebrities who were at that moment partying in Washington,” John Carlos Frey wrote Wednesday for the Marshall Project.
“Meanwhile, at the White House [Correspondents’] Association’s annual gala in the Washington Hilton and a separate black-tie gathering organized by the comic Samantha Bee, speakers mocked the president back. The deliberate juxtaposition and dueling vitriol highlighted what many, left and right, regard as two Americas.
“But anyone who follows the news of America on Spanish-language media knows there are more than two Americas. For broadcasters like Univision and Telemundo, the giants in this parallel version of America, the main story of that April Saturday was obvious.
“It was the president’s confident assertion that ‘We will build the wall, folks, don’t even worry about it.’ After lingering over Trump’s remarks, the two broadcasters segued into reports on an impending protest march against the new administration’s immigration policies, to which Univision added a report headlined ‘The 44 times Trump has criminalized undocumented immigrants and refugees since taking office.’ . . .”
Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Why so many people don’t hear or won’t accept what Hillary Clinton actually says
Editorial, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Trump’s strange shunning of Obama
Boston Globe: 100 days in, what came true?
Shelley Hepworth, Columbia Journalism Review: As US media gave Trump a honeymoon, international journalists took aim
Evan Osnos, New Yorker: How Trump Could Get Fired
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, come out of your safe space
Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Cops as immigration agents? A bad — and likely expensive — idea (April 28)
Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald: Trump once told Haitians he’d be their ‘greatest champion.’ Now he wants to deport them
Jonathan Swan, Axios: How Trump thinks like a journalist
Julio Ricardo Varela, Washington Post: The Trump administration has already botched its new programs on immigrant crime
Gannett Layoffs Hit Small Papers Hardest
“As long as there have been big corporate newspaper chains answering to the stock market rather than independent, family ownership, newsrooms have braced for ‘layoff season’ — coming right before the start of a new fiscal year, or immediately following,” Matt DeRienzo reported Thursday for medium.com.
“A far more brutal round of layoffs comes after a local, family-owned newspaper is acquired by one of these companies. And that’s happened at increasing frequency over the past few years as Gannett and Gatehouse have gone on buying sprees.
“But also in the past few years, we’ve seen ‘layoff season’ become year-round.
“Gannett eliminated newsroom jobs across the country on Wednesday, at as many as 37 local newspapers, according to one employee. Already-lean small town newsrooms were hit the hardest — papers such as the Times-Herald in Port Huron, Michigan, the Reporter-News in Abilene, Texas, the Daily Record in York, Pennsylvania, and the Sun-News in Las Cruces, New Mexico. . . .”
“The Sun-News laid off three journalists and the newspaper’s top editor resigned Wednesday, Heath Haussamen reported for nmpolitics.net.
“. . . The journalists laid off at the Sun-News were community editor Frances Silva, news reporter Steve Ramirez and print planner Ruben Villegas.
“Lucas Peerman, the newspaper’s news director, was named interim editor after Managing Editor Sylvia Ulloa resigned. She had served in the position since November 2013. . . .”
Fresno Bee: Fresno Bee announces newsroom changes
David Uberti, Columbia Journalism Review: Gannett newspapers are hiding an important local story
The Story of Two Who Ran From Police
“For years, ‘unprovoked flight’ from police was considered a sign of guilt”(podcast), according to the Weekly Reveal newsletter this week from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
“Following a 2000 Supreme Court decision, officers had the right to chase – and stop – a suspect if he or she ran. But last year, a court in Massachusetts ruled that fleeing wasn’t inherently an admission of wrongdoing; after all, someone ‘might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled,’ the court observed.
“For this week’s episode, we teamed up with WYPR to investigate why running from police has become a fraught – and sometimes deadly – practice for some Baltimore residents. The episode tells the story of two people whose split-second decisions yielded enormous consequences later on. . . .”
Editorial, the Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.: Our Views on Alton Sterling decision: Time for consensus, not conflict
Editorial, the Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.: Our Views: After Alton Sterling decision, important work to heal community must continue
Editorial, Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee: Charges warranted in jail death case
Keith Humphreys, Washington Post: A common talking point about African Americans’ views on crime has been debunked
Shaun King, Daily News, New York: Cop who killed Jordan Edwards should be arrested, especially after police changed their story about shooting [Officer arrested]
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Florida’s apology to four black men after 70 years falls far short of being justice
Rubén Rosario, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.: Warning shots are cool on TV, but do they work for cops in real life? (April 27)
Janell Ross and Wesley Lowery, Washington Post: Turning away from street protests, Black Lives Matter tries a new tactic in the age of Trump
“As of 3 p.m. ET today, more than 6,500 people donated $800,000 to Save the Children following a report on ABC last night,” Chris Ariens reported Wednesday for TVNewser. “The donations started coming in following David Muir’s story on World News Tonight in which he reported on the famine in four African nations, including Somaliland, where he traveled to over the weekend. . . .”
Barbara Raab, program officer for the Creativity and Free Expression team at the Ford Foundation, where she helped fund journalism organizations, including “Journal-isms,” “has accepted a new position as the Senior Adviser to the Dean at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism,” her colleague Elizabeth Alexander wrote to “Ford partners and friends” on Friday. Among other things, “she will be helping to structure the News Integrity Initiative, a new $14 million project to increase trust in and reimagine journalism,” Alexander continued. . . .”
“Maryland prosecutors said they will drop rape and sex offense charges against two immigrant teens accused of attacking a 14-year-old classmate in a high school bathroom stall,” Dan Morse and Ann E. Marimow reported Friday for the Washington Post. “. . . Defense lawyers had said for weeks that the sex acts were consensual. . . .” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had vigorously held up the case to justify President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration. Who will be the first to contrast the absence of strong reaction to Spicer’s prejudgment of guilt with the backlash given former president Barack Obama in 2009 when he described Cambridge, Mass., police as “acting stupidly” for arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. for breaking into his own house?
Sarah Glover, social media editor for NBC-owned television stations, has been certified to run for a second term as president of the National Association of Black Journalists, John Yearwood, chair of NABJ’s 2017-2019 Elections Committee, told members on Wednesday. Glover is running unopposed and is the first NABJ president permitted to run for reelection, the result of a change in the NABJ constitution.
“Baltimore leaders created the nation’s first housing court seventy years ago in response to the slum conditions spreading in the city,” the Baltimore Sun wrote, introducing its “Dismissed: Baltimore’s rent court” series. “ . . . a yearlong investigation by The Baltimore Sun found that the system routinely works against tenants, while in many cases failing to hold landlords accountable for not meeting minimum housing standards.”
Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, distinguished professor of Africana Studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta, is returning to his alma mater to focus on how media can help solve challenges faced by cities, Temple University announced Friday. “Hill will join the faculty of the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication, as the first Steve Charles Chair in Media, Cities and Solutions. . . . “
“A couple of weeks ago, Jim Vance’s doctors told him he has cancer and needs treatment,” (video) WRC-TV, the NBC station in Washington, told viewers on Thursday, referring to the anchor who started at the station in 1969 and is 75. “On News4 at 6 Thursday, Vance said he insists on continuing to work with his partner, Doreen [Gentzler], when he can, spend time with his kids and his grandkids, and celebrate life with the people he loves.”
Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams’ Howard Stirk Holdings plans to broadcast live on Washington’s News Channel 8 a “Your Voice Your Future: What Works in America” town hall at Howard University Monday from 7 to 8 p.m. A recorded show is to follow from 8 to 9 p.m., and be syndicated on the group’s stations across the country. “We want to discuss who we are as Americans; what unites us; what do we want in terms of opportunities; and why students are so angry,” an announcement said.
“Longtime morning anchor Sukanya Krishnan announced on-air this morning that ‘my time at PIX is coming to an end,’ “ Stephanie Tsoflias Siegel reported Wednesday for TV Spy. Krishnan has been the face of Tribune-owned WPIX in New York for 17 years.
Sujata Gupta, a freelance journalist based in Vermont; Jane Qiu, a globe-trotting freelance science journalist based in Beijing; and Kolawole Talabi, a freelance science writer based in Nigeria; are among “10 elite science journalists from four countries have been selected as fellows for the 2017-18 academic year,” the Knight Science Journalism Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced.
“Time Inc.’s . . . Essence brand, the number one media brand aimed at Black women, announced today it is partnering with Twitter to livestream ‘Essence Now,’ a weekly talk show covering all things entertainment, fashion, news and love and relationships,” the company said on Thursday. “The latest collaboration for Time Inc. and Twitter, ‘Essence Now’ will be the first live show on Twitter targeting Black women. . . .”
Ju-Don Marshall, who most recently was chief operations officer of LifePosts, Inc. in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she helped lead the conception, development and launch of LifePosts.com, a collaborative storytelling platform focused on personal milestones, has been named chief content officer of WFAE-FM in Charlotte, N.C., the station announced on Tuesday.
“THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS LAST WEEK unveiled ‘My Aryan Princess,’ a seven-part ‘seat-of-the-pants crime drama’ about a troubled FBI informant who brought down a vicious gang of white supremacists while living among them,” Tasneem Raja reported Wednesday for Columbia Journalism Review. “Carol Blevins helped put at least 13 members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, some of whom she considered friends and even lovers, behind bars. Throughout it all, Blevins nursed a heroin addiction, wowed investigators with her memory for details and aptitude for spy work, and more than once narrowly escaped the fatal consequences of exposure as a snitch. . . .”
Andrea Bray, who spent nearly 20 years working in radio broadcast news with media companies such as WRC and WTOP in Washington and WDJY-FM in Atlanta, died Wednesday, reported WPFW-FM in Washington, where Bray was known as the “queen of old-school rhythm and blues.” The Pittsburgh native hosted the popular “Andrea Bray Show” until May 2016. Bray’s age and cause of death were not announced, but a March 2012 article said she was then 69, and a daughter wrote on Facebook last year that Bray had been “diagnosed with a horrible disease.” Bray ran a hat shop in Silver Spring, Md., where a spokeswoman said a memorial service would be held in about 30 days.
“South Sudan detained an NPR journalist for nearly four days before releasing him Monday, a spokeswoman for the organization said,” the Associated Press reported. “Eyder Peralta has returned to his base in Kenya but his South Sudanese assistant is still being held by authorities, Isabel Lara told The Associated Press in an email. . . .”
Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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Journal-isms is originally published on journal-isms.com. Reprinted on The Root by permission.