Some Wednesday newspapers had a photo of Dorothy Height on the front page, or more likely, relegated her death to an inside page. But in the Washington Post, the image of civil rights leader dominated the paper.

A photo of the longtime president of the National Council of Negro Women, who died in Washington on Tuesday at age 98, was spread three columns across the front page, above the fold, with Height's obituary below it.


"Dorothy Height was a figure of singular distinction, and one with historical roots in the city," Liz Spayd, a Post managing editor, told Journal-isms via e-mail. "if readers care anything about the civil rights movement, they would surely want a well-crafted obituary that walked them through her life.

"Plus, we had two terrific photos - one that captured her in more recent years, and one from the history books.

"I thought it made for a great, inviting page."

Meanwhile, David A. Wilson, founder and managing editor of, the African American-oriented site owned by NBC, pointed out that his site began planning its coverage of Height "as soon as we received the unfortunate news of Dr. Height's hospitalization a couple of weeks back. We gave her the same priority that we gave Sen. Ted Kennedy," he told Journal-isms.


"Immediately after we learned of her passing we posted three pieces dedicated to Dr. Height. Later in the day we put together a slideshow that included notable moments from her life.

". . . We work extremely hard at theGrio to offer the most indepth coverage on issues that matter most to our community. While no one site or blog can possibly put such [a] great life in perfect perspective, we feel we did our very best in paying homage to a woman who helped change America."

Kitty Kelly's " 'Oprah: A Biography' is, even for the gossip journalism genre, a bad read that has catapulted the muckraking author back into the spotlight," DeWayne Wickham wrote Tuesday in his USA Today column.


"That's due more to the prurient interests of those who buy this book than to Kelley's 'reportorial sights,' which are touted on the book's jacket.

Photog Sparks Ethical Debate by Exhuming Child

"Was it right for a photographer to have a child exhumed to take a picture?" asks Wednesday's headline on the media blog by Roy Greenslade of Britain's Guardian newspaper, questioning the ethical limits for journalists in exposing chilling atrocities.


"Benjamin Chesterton, a BBC Radio 4 documentaries producer, who runs the UK-based journalism/production company duckrabbit, has raised a series of questions about a disturbing set of pictures by the award-winning photographer Marco Vernaschi.

"Vernaschi's work, funded and promoted by the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting, is about child sacrifice in Uganda, which is an entirely reasonable subject to tackle. But Chesterton writes:

" 'Nothing… in my journalistic career could prepare me for the disturbing truth as to how a number of the photos were taken.


"By his own account a grieving mother was persuaded by Vernaschi to exhume her child's body so that he could take photographs of her mutilated daughter, after which payment was made to the family and the picture published by the Pulitzer Centre.

"A second picture showed a naked child with his penis cut off and a catheter protruding from the scar.

"Chesterton believes that by requesting parents to dig up their murdered child, then taking pictures of the corpse and making a payment Vernaschi broke 'any reasonable understanding of ethical behaviour by a journalist.'


"Another photographer, André Liohn, also registered a complaint with the Pulitzer Centre.

"Vernaschi replied with a lengthy explanation on how and why he came to take the picture of the dead child in a detailed response.

"He says the money was given to the bereaved mother 'to hire a lawyer' after the community chief asked him for a 'contribution.' He does not address the matter of the second picture."


Chesterton also declares, "If a three year old American or British girl had been abducted, raped and her vagina mutilated it is inconceivable that the Pulitzer Center would support a photographer to take full frontal nude pictures of that girl. Why then is this an acceptable act if the child is Ugandan?"

The practices Vernaschi sought to expose are chilling, if true:

"Children are beheaded when new buildings are under construction - because misinformed individuals believer that their heads, once buried beneath the foundation, will bring success to business. People looking for money, sexual performance or love visit healers who don't hesitate to kidnap children from their families or from the streets to acquire body parts, thus enabling them to charge their clients more. Witchdoctors perform cheap tricks for clients who are easily cheated, blackmailed or threatened - and who are often turned into killers."


Wickham Sees "Exaggeration," "Error" in Oprah Book

"My critique of Kelley's work is not done at arm's length. Oprah and I were once close friends. We first met in 1976 when as a young reporter I covered the Caucus of Black Democrats in Charlotte. Oprah, then a student at Tennessee State University and a reporter at WTVF-TV in Nashville, had a thirst for hard news and had finagled her way into the event.

"Later that year, when Oprah moved to my hometown of Baltimore to co-anchor that city's top-rated newscast, our platonic friendship blossomed. We spent much time together and often talked about the things that brought joy and pain into our lives. I was backstage in Morgan State University's Murphy Auditorium with Oprah before her 'one-woman' show that Kelley mentions in the book. I also headed the local journalism group Kelley says Oprah joined.


"That's why I know the two chapters Kelley devotes to Oprah's time in Baltimore are more the product of exaggeration, insinuation and error than a search for truth."

Journalists of Color Scarce Among RFK Winners

Stories on human trafficking, Latin America's youngest migrants, Alzheimer's disease, infant mortality, Navy abuses against gay sailors, Mexico's grisly drug war, enduring poverty in Appalachia, and repression in Iran won Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights announced on Tuesday.


"This is the South Bronx," by Maguelina Diaz, Keith Tingman and Amon Fraziek at New York's WNYC Radio won in the domestic radio category, but there was little indication that what has been called "the largest single program honoring outstanding reporting on the problems of the disadvantaged" is awarding many journalists of color. One explanation has been that those journalists for the most part are missing from investigative teams.

Why Not a Native American for Supreme Court?

"The National Native American Bar Association is urging President Barack Obama to appoint a Native American to the U.S. Supreme Court," reported last week.


"There's never been a Native person on the high court in history. And there are currently no Native Americans in active status in the federal judiciary.

"There are dozens of Native attorneys qualified for the Supreme Court such as John EchoHawk (whom many consider the Thurgood Marshall of Indian Country), Kevin Gover (Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, former Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs and law professor), Larry EchoHawk (Current Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, former state attorney general and law professor), and Arlinda Locklear (the first Native woman to argue before the Supreme Court),' Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, the president-elect of NNABA," the bar association, "and Heather Dawn Thompson, the immediate past president, wrote in a letter to Obama."

As Peter Baker reported in the New York Times, "Obama met with Senate leaders from both parties on Wednesday and called nine other senators from the Judiciary Committee, but offered no public hints about which way he was leaning."



Politico's "Exciting Staff Moves" Include a Black Hire

Politico founders John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei Wednesday announced "lots of exciting staff moves," including the hiring of a black reporter who works on the Harvard Crimson, Abby D. Phillip.

Phillip was described as an "up-and-comer" who was an intern at Politico last summer.


The Washington Post announced two weeks ago that Nia-Malika Henderson, the only African American reporter at Politico, is leaving for the Post, and Politico recruiter Beth Frerking, assistant managing editor/partnerships, attended a National Association of Black Journalists' open house last week at its new headquarters at the University of Maryland.

Deirdre Childress, vice president/print of NABJ, said of Phillip on the NABJ's e-mail list on Thursday, "She is talented, and it is great she will return as a staffer, but she needs to be joined by other black journalists in the reporting ranks. We are working diligently to that end and appreciate Beth coming to the Open House and listening to all of our concerns."

Sonya Ross a Washington news editor at the Associated Press, replied, "The statement Politico's brass just made with these hires is that they want their employees of color to be young, inexperienced and cheap."
Ross and Charles Robinson are co-chairing an NABJ task force on political journalism that is in development.


A'Lelia Bundles, a former network television producer, agreed with Ross. "It's the same old story I have been hearing since the mid-1970s when I was one of those young, inexperienced people hired to be groomed for a management position," she wrote. "While some of us did manage to move into some of those decision-making positions, lots more decided to leave, got pushed out, failed to get properly mentored, sometimes didn't measure up, etc., and the cycle starts all over again.

"I can't count the number of times I sat in meetings with senior management and heard the call - always with the best intentions - for hiring bright young minority employees who could be groomed in the culture of the organization.

"So my questions are: What happens along the way to thwart retention so that most of those smart young hires fail to become senior-level decision makers? What plans does Politico have to groom Abby Phillip?"


In a New York Times Magazine piece about Politico reporter Mike Allen, posted Wednesday and scheduled for Sunday's print editions, Harris "said Politico is trying to 'mature from start-up mode' in a number of areas, including diversity," Mark Leibovich wrote.

However, Leibovich described a challenge for someone who is not "one of the boys":

"The site's reporters are mostly young, eager to impress and driven hard. Predawn why-don't-we-have-this? e-mail messages from editors are common. Working for Politico is 'like tackle football,' VandeHei reminds people, which might explain why most of Politico's best-known bylines are male."


Also among the changes announced in the Politico editors' memo, circulated on websites on Wednesday: "Scott Wong, a high-impact reporter at The Arizona Republic, will be moving east to join our congressional team. A 2000 graduate of UCLA, Scott worked his way up through smaller papers in California until he landed at the Republic, where he's been breaking news on the state and local government beats."

The memo also said that "Seung Min Kim has taken a prominent role in expanding our opinion-ideas coverage on the Arena page, MJ Lee will be helping Marty Kady guide our soon-to-be-unveiled Web page for congressional insiders." [Updated April 22.]

Editor Defends Having Player Cover His Own Team

unusual in Gannett's New Jersey newspapers," Richard Pérez-Peña reported Sunday for the New York Times. "A new byline started appearing this month on articles about the New Jersey Devils hockey team, with a note under each piece stating that the author, Eric Marin, is employed by the Devils, not Gannett.


"The arrangement between Gannett and the Devils bridges the gap, and while it may be a promotional coup for the team, it puts the papers in the odd position of publishing news coverage supplied by the entity being covered. . . .

"Sharp-eyed readers might have noticed something truly " 'As long as it served our readers and we told them where that content was coming from, the readers were fine with it,' said Hollis Towns, executive editor of The Asbury Park Press, the largest of the state's six Gannett papers. 'I think journalists get hung up on certain lines of what's ethical more than the readers.' "

"Journalism Shop" Expands to Job Seekers Nationwide

"The Journalism Shop, which has been helping former Los Angeles Times journalists find freelance work since the summer of 2009, is broadening its focus and extending an invitation to journalists around the nation to submit applications. We hope to add to our network highly experienced journalists who would like the benefit of a brand-name organization to help find freelance projects," the project, begun last summer by former Times reporter Scott Martelle and tech specialist Brett Levy, announced on Wednesday.


"The expansion of The Journalism Shop will coincide with the birth of Ebyline, a marketplace for reporters and publishers. Ebyline, which is expected to launch by summer, allows reporters to make pitches to publishers and negotiate prices via a simple web interface. The service also will allow editors to offer projects directly to freelance reporters. The Journalism Shop expects to be a member of the service once it is up and running.

". . . It's important to be aware that The Journalism Shop is not offering a job, nor does it provide any guarantee of work. It is a place to hang your shingle (members get individual 'landing' pages), to be a part of a network of freelancers to be considered for 'over the transom' assignments, and notch on your journalism resume."

"Mac" Secrest Dies; S.C. Editor Backed Integration

"A.M. 'Mac' Secrest, who as editor of a small-town S.C. newspaper crusaded against Southern resistance to desegregation in the 1950s, has died. He was 86," the Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald reported on Wednesday.


"Secrest, a Monroe, N.C., native who worked as a reporter for The Charlotte News in the early 1950s, also served as a federal mediator throughout the Deep South during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and taught at UNC Chapel Hill.

"He died Saturday at N.C. Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill after complications from surgery for throat cancer, his son, David, said.

"Secrest was the owner and publisher of The Cheraw Chronicle, a weekly in northeastern South Carolina. He criticized segregationists who followed a strategy of massive resistance after the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision on school integration in Brown v. Board of Education.


"Secrest refused to be silenced, despite threats of violence, attacks on his home and signs placed in his yard.

"Author and journalist Hank Klibanoff, who co-wrote 'The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle and the Awakening of a Nation,' praised Secrest as 'a rarity whose courageous editorial voice in the 1950s and 1960s revealed there were cracks in the bulwark of the segregationist South where rational and progressive thinking could survive.'

"After selling the Chronicle, Secrest taught journalism at Chapel Hill for five years. He moved to N.C. Central University in Durham in 1976 to help establish its communications department and worked there for nine years until retiring."


Short Takes

  • National Public Radio has joined the news organizations that say they did not receive the American Society of News Editors' diversity survey. "As far as we know, NPR was not asked to participate. We don't have record of having even received the survey from ASNE," spokeswoman Anna Christopher told Journal-isms on Monday. As reported Friday, four online news operations said they did not remember receiving such a request from ASNE, although the society had said that it sent the requests to 28 online outlets and that only seven had responded.

David Ng, the No. 3 editor at the New York Daily News who stepped down in November for "new challenges," started work as a consultant at Newsday on Monday, a spokeswoman confirmed. Ng "will be joining us for the next few months as Sunday Editor to help us better integrate the work of all desks into the planning and execution of our Sunday report in print and online," editors Debby Krenek and Debbie Henley said in a note to staffers at the Long Island newspaper on Friday.


  • Philadelphia Daily News reporter Wendy Ruderman, who with her reporting partner Barbara Laker won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting this month, told Journal-isms by e-mail Wednesday that "the series would NOT have happened without Michael Days, who backed and supported the story 100 percent and showed a lot of guts and grit, in the face of strong criticism from the Fraternal Order of Police and its police membership." Days is executive editor. As a result of the "Tainted Justice" series, "More than 50 convicted drug dealers are now fighting for new trials, alleging that officers fabricated evidence against them," the newspaper has said. Ruderman added that, "having Michael Days as the face of the Daily News helps build trust in the community . . . because he's accessible and unpretentious and so clearly cares about the community."
  • "Deadly, unpunished violence against the press has soared in the Philippines and Somalia, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found in its newly updated Impunity Index, a list of countries where journalists are killed regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes. Impunity in journalist murders also rose significantly in Russia and Mexico," the committee said. "But Brazil and Colombia, historically two of the world's deadliest nations for the press, each made marked improvement in curbing deadly violence against journalists and bringing killers to justice."
  • In Honduras, "Georgino Orellana is the seventh Honduran journalist to be murdered in the past six weeks," Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday. "A programme producer and presenter for Televisión de Honduras, Orellana was slain by a single shot to the head fired by an unidentified person who was waiting outside when he left the station's studios in San Pedro Sula last night."
  • "Liberman Broadcasting Inc. (LBI) has an agreement with Camino Real Communications to air its Hispanic multicast network Estrella TV on KRET Palm Springs, Channel 45.2," Michael Malone reported Tuesday for Broadcasting & Cable. "According to Liberman, the deal expands Estrella TV's reach to 75% of U.S. Hispanic TV households, and increases Estrella TV's affiliate count to 21."


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