"The controversial 'Django Unchained' action figures have officially been DISCONTINUED … after several African American groups called for a boycott of the dolls … TMZ has learned," the TMZ website reported Friday.
Later in the day, the Weinstein Co., the film's producer, said in a statement, "We have tremendous respect for the audience and it was never our intent to offend anyone," Christy Lemire reported for the Associated Press. Toy maker NECA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
". . . The studio said Friday that such collectibles have been created for all of director Quentin Tarantino's films, including "'Inglourious Basterds,' and that they were meant for people 17 and older, the audience for the film," Lemire wrote.
The earlier TMZ dispatch said, "Sources connected to the toy production tell us … shortly after advocacy groups like Al Sharpton's National Action Network and Project Islamic Hope spoke out against the figurines … the Weinstein Company (which produced the film) reached out to the toy company and told them to put the kibosh on the toy line ASAP.
"We're told the toy company agreed, insisting they never intended to offend anyone … and halted production immediately.
"Sources tell us … the toymakers only released somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 dolls before shutting down production."
As reported in this space on Jan. 7, among journalists, the most common reaction to the news of the action figures was a version of "oh, no, they didn't!"
"Civil rights groups argued that the toys trivialized the horrors of slavery," the AP story said.
Nicole Sperling noted in the Los Angeles Times, " 'Django Unchained' has earned close to $130 million in the U.S. since it opened on Christmas Day. Despite the controversial subject matter, the film has become Tarantino's highest-grossing movie of his career."
Dexter Gabriel, Colorlines: Hollywood's Slavery Films Tell Us More About the Present Than the Past
Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Root: Did Dogs Really Eat Slaves, Like in 'Django'?
Adam Howard, the Grio: Why Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio were snubbed by the Oscars
Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: PBS trumps Hollywood examining slavery
Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: The language in 'Django' is harsh, just like the era it portrays
Jermaine Spradley, HuffPost BlackVoices: Django Unchained Controversy: A Look at the Conundrum Tarantino's Latest Created in Progressive Black America
Eisa Nefertari Ulen, EisaUlen.com: Broomhilda in Chains
Kirsten West-Savali, the Grio: 'Django Unchained': The fallacy of famous detractors' uninformed criticism
DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: 'Django' really about blaxploitation
Jazmyne Z. Young and Asani Shakur, Richmond (Calif.) Pulse: 'Django Unchained': The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
"Lance Armstrong may have lied to Oprah Winfrey during his so-called confession Thursday night about his doping during the Tour de France bicycle race, investigators told ABC News today," Neal Karlinsky and Anthony Castellano reported Friday for ABC News.
Preliminary figures from the Nielsen ratings company reported that 3.2 million people watched Winfrey interview Armstrong on a special edition of "Oprah's Next Chapter" on OWN, Alex Weprin reported Friday for TVNewser. The show drew an additional 1.2 million viewers in its re-air at 10:30 p.m.
Karlkinsky and Castellano reported, "Armstrong, 41, admitted for the first time that his decade-long dominance of cycling and seven wins in the Tour de France were owed, in part, to performance-enhancing drugs and oxygen-boosting blood transfusions. He told Winfrey that he was taking the opportunity to confess to everything he had done wrong, including angrily denying reports for years claiming that he had doped.
"Investigators familiar with Armstrong's case, however, said today that Armstrong didn't completely come clean. They say he blatantly lied about when he stopped doping, saying the last time he used the drugs and transfusions was the 2005 race.
" 'That's the only thing in this whole report that upset me,' Armstrong said during the interview. 'The accusation and alleged proof that they said I doped [in 2009] is not true. The last time I crossed the line, that line was 2005.'
" 'You did not do a blood transfusion in 2009?' Winfrey asked.
" 'No, 2009 and 2010 absolutely not,' Armstrong said.
"Investigators familiar with the case disagree. They said today that Armstrong's blood values at the 2009 race showed clear blood manipulation consistent with two transfusions. . . ."
This columnist called Thursday for members of the National Association of Black Journalists and their friends to come up with a new business model for financing "Journal-isms."
The occasion was the NABJ's Hall of Fame gala in Washington, where Richard Prince was presented with the Ida B. Wells Award, given to "an individual who has made outstanding efforts to make newsrooms and news coverage more accurately reflect the diversity of the communities they serve."
"As Coretta King's husband said, 'I have a dream.' Mine is to be the first to break even doing this kind of work for a nonprofit and to pass it on," Prince said. " 'Journal-isms' should be a financially solvent institution with others waiting in the wings to carry on its work.
"And so I challenge us today to come together and figure out a way to create that." The text of the acceptance speech is at the end of this column. The video of the introduction to the speech is here.
Unofficially, the gala attracted 342 attendees, said NABJ Secretary Lisa Cox, adding that NABJ is reconciling final figures. Tickets were $150, with early-bird tickets at $100.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame at the gala, held at the Newseum in Washington, were:
Simeon Booker, first black reporter at the Washington Post and longtime Washington bureau Chief, Jet magazine. (Video)
The late Alice Dunnigan, first black woman credentialed to cover the White House, State Department and Congress. (Video)
Sue Simmons, longtime anchorwoman at WNBC-TV, New York. (Video)
Cynthia Tucker, visiting professor at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, commentator and former Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Video)
Booker's memoir, "Shocking the Conscience," is being published by the University Press of Mississippi in April. A digital app in the program book provided downloadable copies. Booker is 94.
Actor Andre Holland told attendees he is playing Smith in the Warner Brothers movie "42," about Jackie Robinson, which will open in April. LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, who is about to become president of the Baseball Writers Association, accepted the award for Smith. Neal told Journal-isms he is the only African American major league baseball beat writer at a mainstream newspaper.
Dunnigan's 80-year-old son, Robert Dunnigan, and granddaughter Suzette Dunnigan Whythe accepted her award. Morrow recalled his mother's midnight runs to the post office in order to send Associated Negro Press dispatches.
Proceeds of the gala are to benefit NABJ scholarship and fellowship programs. The event was hosted by Byron Pitts, contributor to CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" and chief national correspondent for the "CBS Evening News," and Isha Sesay of CNN International and HLN.
Wayne Dawkins contributed to this report.
"The last inauguration was notable because of the nature of what was happening," Bill Cromwell wrote Friday for medialifemagazine.com.
"Barack Obama was sworn in as the first African-American president, and that resulted in historic ratings as well, with 37.8 million total viewers tuning in, according to Nielsen, the most since 41.8 million people watched Ronald Reagan's swearing in in 1980."
"Monday's inauguration, when Obama is sworn in for a second term, will have another historical aspect to it. It will be the first true internet inauguration.
"The event will be streamed across dozens of sites online, and has the potential to become one of the most-streamed events ever.
"And the networks have all added special new media elements to enhance their coverage. . . ."
Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report: Don't You Dare Conflate MLK and Obama
Wil Haygood, Washington Post: Inauguration will cement ties between Obama, Martin Luther King Jr.
Dave Jamieson and Arthur Delaney, HuffPost BlackVoices: Obama's Job One: Middle-Class Employment Problems Loom Over Second Term
Ned Martel, May-Ying Lam, Grace Koerber and Kat Downs, Washington Post: The Age of Obama
Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Attending inauguration is an honor, costly
Darryl E. Owens, Orlando Sentinel: Obama should be channeling Bill Cosby
Lonnae O'Neal Parker, Washington Post: Four years later, feminists split by Michelle Obama's 'work' as first lady
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: Obama in Strong Position at Start of Second Term
Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: Obama, MLK forever connected by divine providence
Walter Shapiro, Columbia Journalism Review: Can the media avoid inaugural over-hype?
In a YouTube video circulating on various websites, comedian Eliot Chang ticks off the "Things Asians Hate," described by the Angry Asian Man site as "a brief rundown of all the ridiculous things people say to Asians."
"My fellow Asians, you know you've heard it all before, all day every day," the site's author says. (Video)
Student journalists at Florida A&M University are picking up support from editors at other campus publications as they publish independently online while their student newspaper, the Famuan, is "delayed" by the administration until Jan. 30.
". . . The beauty of the news is that it keeps happening, every day, and you can't just 'suspend' it until you feel comfortable again," Kristina Bui wrote Monday in the Arizona Daily Wildcat at the University of Arizona.
The Daily O'Collegian at Oklahoma State University editorialized on Thursday that the decision by Dean Ann Wead Kimbrough of FAMU's School of Journalism & Graphic Communication (SJGC) "to regulate the publication of the newspaper is not teaching the right lesson. Instead of getting real-world experience about how to respond to such a situation, the staff will start its semester in constant fear of retribution by FAMU's journalism school administrators."
The support is also coming from professionals. The students' independent site, Ink and Fangs, published this message Monday from Sonny Albarado, president of the Society of Professional Journalists:
"Congrats to Famuan staff for keeping the light of press freedom glowing. Best wishes."
Student editor Karl Etters told the Tallahassee Democrat that the support "makes me feel we aren't in this alone and that we are doing something that matters."
In December, senior Keon Hollis filed a lawsuit against the newspaper, the university and its board of trustees over a Dec. 2, 2011, Famuan article that incorrectly said Hollis was one of four drum majors suspended in connection with the November 2011 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.
The publication delay is also indirectly related to accreditation issues. "Investigations revealed many band members were not enrolled in the music course as required. Since then all student organizations on campus have come under more strict requirements," Jennifer Portman reported Jan. 9 in the Tallahassee Democrat.
In an interview with Dan Reimold of College Media Matters, which is sponsored by the Associated Collegiate Press, Etters said alumni have been the student journalists' greatest support.
"I think people do notice the newsstands are empty," Etters said. "I've seen some stuff on social media from people outside the journalism school who have noticed and support us. . . . I have had some support [privately] from journalism professors but they're probably in a position where they want to keep their jobs.
"Alumni have probably been our greatest support. . . . The fact is not a whole lot of [journalism students] have come forward to say 'I want to help you guys. I want to write for you guys' within the school. I hoped [Ink and Fangs] would have made more of a difference in our school. I think people are supportive but to be supportive in this aspect you have to contribute, if you consider yourself a journalist.”
Asked for comment on Friday, Kimbrough said Dr. Valerie White, an assistant professor who chairs the Black College Communication Association, would respond.
But in a message Monday, Kimbrough also cited alumni support. "I am thrilled about the strong support of the student journalists from Famuan alums and Famu alums," she said then. "The alums are interested in helping students via mentoring relationships and many alums are placing ads in the Jan. 30 paper. The Famuan is in financial distress … one of the critical matters being addressed by the SJGC and university administration to ensure student success in their journalism education endeavors."
Kimbrough noted Saturday that the school named Kanya Simon Stewart, a 2004 graduate and journalism/magazine production major, as adviser to the Famuan for the spring 2013 semester. Since 2006, Stewart has been the owner/operator, publicist and content writer for Proclaim Creative & Marketing Group. She succeeds Andrew J. Skerritt, a veteran journalist who teaches journalism at FAMU, who was removed as adviser.
Editorial, Oklahoma Daily, University of Oklahoma: Student newspapers play vital role in protecting students
Michael Koretzky, Society of Professional Journalists: Punished for a crime they didn't commit
Peter McKay, The FAMU Hazing Blog: Famuan stories welcome here (Jan. 10)
Michael R. Triplett, the president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association who died at age 48 on Thursday, wrote on his last birthday about the tongue cancer that eventually took his life.
"This year, my 48th birthday will also mark the first anniversary of my tongue cancer diagnosis," Triplett wrote on April 20. "Oh, and did I mention the anniversary of my boyfriend confirming he was taking a job out of the country for a year? Good times.
"In the past year, I've had: three surgeries, 42 days of traditional radiation treatment, five rounds of chemotherapy, and five days of advanced radiation treatment. My medical bills have surpassed the $600,000 mark — thank God for my employer's great insurance plan." Triplett was assistant managing editor at Bloomberg-BNA.
"I've lost over 50 pounds and all my facial hair, had almost half of my tongue removed, undergone two high-tech robotic procedures, used up over 70 percent of my accumulated sick leave, and had my 76-year old mother living with me for about 12 weeks to assist in my care.
"From this birthday forward, my gifts better be pretty damn spectacular.
"My cancer is part of a growing 'epidemic' of oral cancer unrelated to smoking and drinking. Instead, there is an increase — primarily in middle-aged, white men — of tongue and other mouth cancers connected to the human papillomavirus (HPV). . . . "
Triplett, who said he lived just outside Washington, died in Alabama while visiting his family, according to queerty.com.
NLGJA said in its Thursday announcement of his death that its board would meet in the coming days to elect an interim president. The board had a previously scheduled meeting set for Saturday, David Steinberg, immediate past president, told Journal-isms.
"Reporters Without Borders calls on the Malian and French authorities to allow journalists to freely cover the military operations under way in Mali since 11 January," the press freedom organization said on Thursday. "Both foreign and local journalists have been kept more than 100 km from the fighting ever since the start of the military intervention.
" 'In war time, it is up to journalists and their news organizations, not the military, to determine the risk they are prepared to take in order to gather information,' Reporters Without Borders said. . . ."
David Amanor, "The Fifth Floor," BBC World Service: Reporting Mali (second story)
"A suburban New York newspaper that outraged gun owners by posting the names and addresses of residents with handgun permits removed the information from its website Friday," Jim Fitzgerald reported for the Associated Press. "The Journal News took down the data just three days after the state enacted a gun control law that included privacy provisions for permit holders."
Eugene Kane, former metro columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is joining OnMilwaukee.com, Milwaukee's daily magazine, the digital publication announced on Friday. Kane plans to continue writing for the Journal Sentinel's Sunday edition. The columnist told Journal-isms by email he would be writing "As often as possible . . . a column, regular blog updates, features."
"Lolis Eric Elie — filmmaker, author, former Times-Picayune columnist and staff writer, story editor and official HBO blogger for 'Treme' during its first three seasons — has landed a spot on the writing staff of the AMC transcontinental-railroad drama 'Hell on Wheels,' for which he'll also serve as executive story editor," Dave Walker reported Friday for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.
Jeff Ballou, a producer in Washington at Al Jazeera English, began a term Friday on the board of governors of the National Press Club.
The indictment Friday of former New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin on charges that he lined his pockets with bribe money, payoffs and gratuities ". . . punctuates the reversal of political and personal fortune for Nagin, who had what New Orleans Magazine editor Errol Laborde called 'rock star status' soon after his election in 2002," Michael Kunzelman wrote for the Associated Press. "Nagin, a former cable television executive, took office with an image as a largely apolitical businessman ready to root out corruption. 'The media bought into that 100 percent. They used the term "crackdown on corruption",' Laborde said Friday."
"The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has acquired 50 16" x 20" black & white photographs from the book Soul Sanctuary: Images of the African American Worship Experience by award winning photographer Jason Miccolo Johnson," Johnson announced.
BuzzFeed, which calls itself "the leading social news organization, intensely focused on delivering high-quality original reporting, insight, and viral content across a rapidly expanding array of subject areas" and is based in New York, has hired Shani Hilton, morning editor at nbcwashington.com and formerly of Washington City Paper, as senior editor to write and edit culture coverage, and Saeed Jones to be LGBT editor, Ben Smith, editor-in-chief, told Journal-isms. Both are black journalists.
"Chicago finance executive Mellody Hobson, recently engaged to Star Wars creator George Lucas, has been named a CBS News finance and economy analyst," Chris Ariens reported Thursday for TVNewser.
"New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is going into the magazine business" [second item], Keith J. Kelly reported Friday for the New York Post. "The forward's apparently taken a 10-percent stake in HauteTime.com, an off-shoot of the luxury publisher Haute Living, which is already putting out local editions of its luxury magazines in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco."
"At 8 o'clock Tuesday morning roughly 50 Burundian journalists silently marched around the courthouses in the capital, Bujumbura, and the offices of the justice minister, protesting the imprisonment of their colleague, Hassan Ruvakuki," Tom Rhodes reported Wednesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. ". . . A week earlier, on Tuesday, January 8, an appeals court in Burundi had sentenced Ruvakuki, a reporter for Bonesha FM and the French government-backed Radio France Internationale, to three years imprisonment for 'working with a criminal group.' "
When South African journalists arrived at Groenpunt Maximum Security Correctional Centre, site of a violent demonstration by prisoners a week earlier, "they observed a commotion with warders donning bullet-proof vests and taking up shields," the South African National Editors' Forum said Friday. "They took pictures when they saw a group of warders," or wardens, "assaulting a prisoner dressed in an orange garb. They said they saw him being brutally beaten as he was pushed from warder to warder. After the prisoner was taken away, according to a reporter, 'they came for us', subjecting the journalists to an 'hour-long traumatic experience'."
"A Televisa sportscaster and his American pilot died when their small plane crashed in Cozumel, an Island in Mexico's Caribbean region, while performing stunts, emergency management officials said," according to the EFE news service. Jorge "Chori" Lopez Vives, who worked for Televisa Deportes, and pilot Fred Cabanas " … were working on a show about extreme sports that was to be broadcast in the next few days, officials said."
As a journalist and newspaper publisher in Memphis, Tenn., and New York, Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931), namesake of the award for diversity activism in the news media sponsored by the National Association of Black Journalists and the Medill School at Northwestern University, led an anti-lynching crusade in the 1890s and went on to found and become integral in groups striving for African American justice.
Following is the text of Richard Prince's remarks accepting the Wells Award on Thursday:
By Richard Prince
Thank you. NABJ and "Journal-isms" were made for each other. Not only did "Journal-isms" begin in the NABJ Journal 20 years ago, but NABJ has reinforced much of the philosophy that guides it. I'm thinking particularly of our breakthrough 1984 convention in Atlanta, when our organization was only nine years old.
Jesse Jackson, fresh off his run for the presidency, told us, ". . . there's another power not on the table: the fight for appraisal power."
Andy Young added: ". . . We are constantly being threatened by the fact that other people are defining our situation for us."
"Journal-isms" attempts to articulate the ideas and aspirations of journalists of color, and to empower them with information.
I thank Dori Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, for the idea that resulted in an online version of "Journal-isms" 10 years ago. Now it's available alongside all the other news about the media that is produced daily by white journalists. It's also published on the Root.
But there is a crucial difference. The others are largely backed by the financial power of institutions that recognize the media's importance. We have found ourselves subject to the same forces that have affected the cause of diversity itself: Indifference, lack of attention, marginalization and economic demands that divert focus elsewhere.
After 10 years, we are still dependent on benefactors for whom diversity may or may not be the flavor of the month.
So just as within NABJ we talk about the need to build our own institutions and "doing for self," so must we with "Journal-isms."
As Coretta King's husband said, "I have a dream." Mine is to be the first to break even doing this kind of work for a nonprofit and to pass it on. "Journal-isms" should be a financially solvent institution with others waiting in the wings to carry on its work.
And so I challenge us today to come together and figure out a way to create that. I must thank Clark Bell of the McCormick Foundation for his support. And I must give a special shout-out to Calvin Sims, a former New York Times journalist now with the Ford Foundation, for taking extra steps in his current role to be sure that "Journal-isms" has financial underpinnings. He's not the only one, but as a black journalist himself, and an NABJ member, he recognizes the importance of this kind of work and is in a position to support it.
I am so honored to be associated tonight with Ida B. Wells.
I asked Wells biographer Paula Giddings about Wells' relevance to black journalists today.
In part, Giddings said, "She lived and worked in an era like this one: an era that called for reform, that was wrought with division and economic uncertainty. Interestingly, the black elite had unprecedented educational, political and economic opportunities . . . and so there was pressure to abandon protest and to believe that education and hard work alone would inevitably result in racial progress."
But " . . . Wells understood that unprecedented achievement and targeted racial violence and exploitation could happen simultaneously and developed strategies accordingly."
NABJ, and friends of NABJ, let's work on our strategies. And let's include "Journal-isms" in the mix.
Thank you very much.
Facebook users: "Like" "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" on Facebook.
Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.