Essence Shifts White Male Managing Editor

Illustration for article titled Essence Shifts White Male Managing Editor

Essence magazine and its white male managing editor — whom the leading magazine for black women has emphasized had a production, not an editorial role — are parting ways, a spokeswoman told Journal-isms Friday, after right-wing material on his Facebook page was brought to the editors' attention.


The hiring of Michael Bullerdick last July created an uproar, partly because the title of "managing editor" implied to many a major role for a white man in the editorial process of a magazine for black women.

In his LinkedIn profile, Bullerdick lists "Edit stories for tone and style" among his duties, even though editor-in-chief Constance C.R. White insisted when he was hired, "Michael is responsible for production and operational workflow. He has no involvement in editorial content."


The announcement of Bullerdick's departure for the book division of Time Warner, the conglomerate that owns Essence, came after Journal-isms shared screen shots of Bullerdick's Facebook page taken by a reader.

"Essence readers would be shocked to find that Bullerdick, who under the prodding of Time Inc became the first white male editor at the magazine last year, openly espouses extremist Right-wing views that run counter to what Essence has historically stood for," the Journal-isms reader wrote in an email.

In one screen shot, an April 10 posting is headlined, "No Voter Fraud, Mr. Attorney General?" touting a video by James O'Keefe, the conservative activist who worked with right-wing trickster Andrew Breitbart. The same day, Bullerdick shared a photo illustration of Al Sharpton headlined, "MSNBC Race Pimp." Bullerdick also recommends material from the conservative magazine Human Events and the right-wing website, from which Bullerdick posted "the Frequent Bomber Program," an article about 1960s radical Bill Ayers. Bullerdick wrote, "Obama's mentor and friend."

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama noted that he was a child when Ayers notoriously was a member of the Weathermen, protesting the Vietnam War. "The former Weatherman, William Ayers, now holds the position of distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago," Michael Dobbs wrote in 2008 in the Washington Post. . . . Both Obama and Ayers were members of the board of an anti-poverty group, the Woods Fund of Chicago . . . Whatever his past, Ayers is now a respected member of the Chicago intelligentsia, and still a member of the Woods Fund Board."


Through a spokeswoman, White initially gave Journal-isms this statement on Friday: "As editor-in-chief, I'm responsible for all editorial content for Essence. I hired Michael to manage the production schedule of Essence. As head of production, he does not attend editorial idea meetings, nor does he get involved in the editorial direction of the magazine."

Later, however, the spokeswoman said, "By mutual agreement, Michael has accepted a position in another division."


The episode is yet another in which employees' social media activities have created tension between employer and employee. To forestall such conflict, some news organizations have forbidden employees to express political views in social media.

Just last month, for example, ESPN said its journalists would be violating its social media policy by displaying pictures of themselves wearing hoods on Twitter in solidarity with the slain teenager Trayvon Martin. Then the network reversed itself.


Asked whether Essence has developed a social media policy, the spokeswoman said by email, "Employees must follow the Standards of Business Conduct, which is distributed to everyone at the company. Dan Okrent (who heads up Editorial Standards and Practices for Time Inc.) has been working for some time now with our top Editors to develop a social media policy. This will be released when the work is done." Okrent was the first New York Times public editor.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Bullderdick is a magazine industry veteran who was a corporate managing editor for American Media from August 2004 to January 2011.


He also lists himself as Consultant/Editorial Director for American Athlete magazine from August 2011 to the present. In that position, he oversees "print, digital and brand positioning for this innovative digital magazine and Website with social media extensions (late 2011 launch). Conceptualize stories, set tone, hire all talent, write, top edit and oversee all content across platforms."

No successor to Bullerdick was named. 

Sarah Fidelibus, Poynter Institute: Branded journalists battle newsroom regulations (March 2)


Live Shot Interrupted by Shoving, Shouting of N-word

"In the midst of a live TV report about a South Carolina crime crackdown, a 20-year-old man last night shoved a female reporter, grabbed her microphone, and screamed, 'I am that nigger!' into the camera," the Smoking Gun reported on Thursday.


"Shortly after bumrushing reporter Ashley Taylor, 23, during her report on the 11 PM news, Justin Moore, 20, was collared by Myrtle Beach cops. Taylor, a reporter with WMBF, an NBC affiliate, was not injured during the incident.

"According to a Myrtle Beach Police Department report, Taylor told cops that '4-5 black males' approached her crew as they prepared for a report. 'When she went live with her report one of the black males pushed her to the side almost to the ground and ripped the microphone from her hand.'


"After interrupting the broadcast, Moore ran off 'laughing and yelling,' reported police. He was later located by cops — who examined video of Taylor's report — and apprehended after he attempted to flee. Moore, a Charlotte, North Carolina resident, was also positively identified by Taylor.

"Moore . . .  was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. . . ."


WMBF added, "Moore was placed under arrest and charged with third degree assault and battery. He was released from jail Thursday afternoon on a bond of just under $1,400.

"Taylor returned to work Thursday afternoon and reports that she is fine and appreciative of WMBF viewers who have reached out in concern.


"Capt. David Knipes with the Myrtle Beach Police Department mentioned the unusual nature of this case. Knipes stated, 'It's very odd. In the 25 years I've worked here I don't remember an incident like this happening.' "

Comments about the story on the WMBF website, unsurprisingly, were filled with racial references.


Native Paper Tired of TV Newscast "Perp Walk" Shots

"Native Sun News has come to the conclusion that there is no 'educating' the local media. The media in Rapid City is so set in its ways that if it was pointed out to them that some of the things they report on are borderline racist, they just wouldn't know it or believe it," the South Dakota newspaper said on its website.


"Case in point: Although NSN has written about it extensively, the local television stations still, nearly every night of the week, point their cameras at long lines of Native Americans wearing prison garb and shackled hand and foot in order to point out one person. In the interim, many Native Americans in the parade are clearly identifiable. Most have not been tried before a judge as yet, and many of them are innocent of the crimes for which they may have been charged.

". . . While watching the news on KOTA-TV the other night, some of the employees at NSN were appalled to see this blatant abuse of the media's power when several Native Americans were paraded in front of the camera and the employees of NSN recognized some of their friends whose main violation involved traffic citations.


". . . For the umpteenth time, NSN graciously asks the news directors at the local television stations to cease and desist this practice. Stop and consider the harm you are doing to Native Americans."

Mark Walter, operations manager of KNBN, the NBC affiliate, told Journal-isms that the issue lies with the authorities. "The only opportunity that TV stations have to shoot video is when they march these people from one building to another," Walter said. "A lot of times we don't know who we're shooting. We're out there for 15 seconds. I assume the public understands these are people who are heading" to court. "I don't know how else to do it," he said.


Jim Rowenhorst, commander of the Pennington County Jail, was in meetings and could not be reached for comment Friday about the county's rules on media access.

James Mallory, Senior M.E. at Atlanta Paper, Retiring at 56

James Mallory, a senior editor and veteran journalist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, announced his retirement Thursday after a 30-year career in journalism, upbeat about the future of the profession but believing that "the 'golden era' of diversity in journalism is over."


Monica R. Richardson, a black journalist who is team leader over beat reporters, was promoted to become one of three managing editors, responsible for digital and beats. The others are Bert Roughton, managing editor and senior editorial director responsible for watchdog, investigative and major enterprise coverage, and Mark Waligore, managing editor responsible for the Sunday and daily print products.

Monica R. Richardson"Mallory, 56, is senior managing editor at the newspaper and second in command," Ken Foskett wrote for the Journal-Constitution.


"A long-time business reporter and business editor, Mallory helped guide the AJC through the turmoil that roiled the newspaper industry as advertising revenues shrank and the paper cut staff to pare expenses.

"Kevin Riley, the AJC's editor, credited Mallory with helping rebuild the AJC into a stronger newspaper and boosting its credibility among readers.


". . . Mallory, a Detroit native, joined the AJC in 1988 and held a number of key roles and ascended management ranks. He was the assistant business editor, news personnel manager, night assistant managing editor, AME/Business and deputy managing editor/Metro & Business. He was named a managing editor in 2002, the first African American to hold the position at the AJC. He became senior managing editor/vice president in 2007.

Journal-isms conducted a brief Q-and-A with Mallory by email:

Q: Why retire at 56?

A: It is a good time in life to make a change. Professionally, I've reached a point where I wanted to try something different, something outside the day-to-day world of journalism. Personally, my youngest graduates from college in May so that is an added milestone.


Q. Have you a plan for another life?

A. I’m going to take a month or so to do some deep thinking about a few ideas I have been noodling in my head.


Q: There have been lots of big changes in journalism in your lifetime some of it is about survival in a new economy. Have they been changes for the better?

A. On the positive side, I believe digital has forced us to think about the type of news we deliver to our readers and how we delivered that news. I also think the economy forced us to be smarter about what we were doing because we were operating with fewer people.


We've lost a lot of talented journalists as our industry struggled through the changes caused by the digital revolution and the Great Recession, so that is a negative. I also think the "golden era" of diversity in journalism is over for a variety of reasons. That's unfortunate because the communities and this country need news outlets with reporters and editors of colors who can help explain the complexities of our changing world.

Q. Your kid wants to go into journalism "just like daddy." What would you tell her?


A. I’m upbeat about the future of journalism because the new digital mobile devices are expanding the platforms from which journalists can present the news. I would tell him or her to nail down the basics skills that all good journalists need, and to also be flexible, innovative and entrepreneurial.

Q. Could you expand on why you believe "the 'golden era' of diversity in journalism is over"? . . . Do you think it's foolish to believe there will be any further advances? Particularly toward the goal of parity by 2025?


A. In the '80s and '90s, the "golden era," many newspapers had a mission to diversify their staffs in part because of the ASNE parity goal. Papers and staffs were bigger, so there were more jobs available. The economy forced newspapers, and other media outlets, to learn how to work more efficiently, i.e., smaller staffs. With fewer job openings, I'm not sure where applicant diversity ranks when the final hiring decision is made. We also have fewer people of color in the positions to make those decisions, which I know is essential to having a diverse workplace.

Business Journalists Responding to Diversity Challenge

"A conversation sparked on the heels of this year's Society of Business Editors and Writers annual conference about the visible void of diversity in business journalism. And now, just two weeks after the topic took center stage, the chatter has turned to action," Kelly Carr wrote last week for the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University.


Christopher Nelson, a freelance journalist and graduate student at Georgetown University Law Center, wrote a blog that explored the lack of journalists of color covering business. Soon after, Will Sutton, a journalism professor at Grambling State University, jumped in. Sutton penned a column for the Reynolds Center detailing the minority gap in financial journalism. His conclusion: caring alone is not enough. With vigor, he proposed a plan.

"Sutton’s 11-point challenge offered solutions for ensuring journalists of color have fruitful opportunities and support to enter business journalism. He called on the industry to offer feedback and to pledge action on his points, which included funding high school programs and offering scholarships to encourage minority journalists to explore financial stories.


"It wasn't long before his challenge buzzed on the internet. Then, people took notice and started making promises.

"One was newly elect SABEW President Jill Jorden Spitz. She accepted the challenge and will attempt to bring business journalism training to five high schools. She also said the organization will strive to award five minority students scholarships to the 2013 SABEW Annual Conference in Washington D.C."


". . . 'Now we need business journalism associations, news organizations and even business leaders to step up and join the conversation,' said Sutton in an e-mail. 'They need to say what's on their minds so others of us will know what they're thinking about, how they see the challenges and what they propose we do. They don't have to wait to join the conversation when they have something to offer. We can help them once they're talking with us all.' "

Sutton is a Reynolds Visiting Professor of Business Journalism at Grambling.

Marc Watts, Taking Job With NFL Network, Has a Boss Again

Marc Watts, who left his CNN correspondent's job in 1997 and became a self-employed Chicago-based agent, business manager and media trainer, is about to have a boss again.


Watts told Journal-isms Friday that he has accepted a job with the NFL (TV) Network, based in Los Angeles, in the newly created position of director of media talent.

Watts moved to Los Angeles in February 2011 after he and his wife, former Chicago anchor Diann Burns, sold their 13-room Lincoln Park mansion for $4.525 million, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.


Before the move, Watts also dissolved Signature Media Group, his speakers bureau and talent agency whose clients included Burns and CNN contributor Roland S. Martin. With Watts as her agent, Burns was once thought to be the highest-paid personality on Chicago television. She was dropped by WBBM-TV in 2008 after failing to boost the CBS-owned station's ratings or justify her record-breaking $2 million-a-year salary, according to Chicago media reports.

Watts said he and Burns "are not really together anymore." Their son, Ryan, is a high school freshman in Orange County, Calif. He said the split was amicable.


In his new position, Watts will conduct media training for athletes, something he had been doing increasingly since he moved to Los Angeles. "I decided to go in a different direction," he said.

Prosecutor Investigating Former Editor Turned Professor

"The county prosecutor's office has taken over an inquiry related to Mercer County Community College professor Jamal Eric Watson, officials said," Alex Zdan wrote Wednesday for the Times of Trenton N.J.


"Watson was the subject of inquiries by the college administration and West Windsor police starting in mid-March. The results were passed along to the prosecutor early this week."

Watson is a former executive editor of the New York Amsterdam News who in 2006 pleaded guilty to a felony charge of third-degree grand larceny after being accused of cashing checks made out to summer interns.


An assistant professor of English, Watson told Journal-isms a week ago that he no longer considered himself a journalist, though he continues to freelance. He also said the college was not investigating him. "There's no story here," he said. On April 5, the College Voice, the Mercer County Community College newspaper, published a story by Noelle Gilman, Laura Pollack and Kellie Rendina. It was headlined, "Jersey professor Jamal Eric Watson under investigation by college and police."

The Times story said, "Neither the college nor law enforcement officials will say exactly what allegations have been levied against Watson.


"College president Patricia Donohue said the college received an anonymous communication with several allegations against Watson in March. When asked if they were related to Watson's credentials, and a dispute over whether he has received a doctoral degree, she said that was 'possible.'

" 'The college is in the process of looking into the allegations to determine what the facts are,' she said last week.


"Watson remains on the faculty and is teaching classes."

Short Takes

". . . To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet," Rex W. Huppke of the Chicago Tribune wrote Thursday in an essay touted by some as the best op-ed they'd read recently. "Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from injuries suffered last week when Florida Republican Rep. Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives are communists."


"President Barack Obama's team is looking to hire more African-Americans, a search that has stirred a debate among black Democrats about Obama's record on diversity and its implications for his reelection," Jonathan Allen and Joseph Williams wrote Wednesday for Politico. ". . . An Obama campaign photograph of the Chicago headquarters last week had black Democrats buzzing about diversity — or lack of it. The picture, saturated with white faces, was reposted on the news site Buzzfeed and made the rounds of other well-trafficked sites, including The Drudge Report."

In Afghanistan, "President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that a speeded-up departure of Western troops from his country is the only way to prevent a recurrence of 'painful experiences'  such as the sight of American soldiers posing with the body parts of dead insurgents," Laura King reported Thursday for the Los Angeles Times. "In a statement issued by the presidential palace 24 hours after the Los Angeles Times published photos showing U.S. troops manipulating the remains of suicide bombers and mugging for the camera, Karzai called the behavior depicted 'inhumane and provocative.' "  


Sharon Pian Chan has been named the new associate opinions editor/digital for The Seattle Times, effective May 29," the newspaper announced on Thursday. "She also becomes a member of the newspaper’s editorial board, which determines the board’s policy positions. . . . Most recently, Chan was a senior producer for The Seattle Times home page and mobile platforms. She spent 12 years as a Times reporter, most recently covering Microsoft for the business section. She has also covered Seattle City Hall, King County and the University of Washington. Chan is currently serving as vice president for UNITY Journalists, a nonprofit alliance that advocates diversity in the news, and has served as national president of the Asian American Journalists Association."

The Washington Post sent emails Friday to journalists who put in for a buyout, letting them know whether the offer was accepted, Peter Perl, assistant managing editor for personnel, told Journal-isms. The buyout offer expired on Monday, and employees have seven days to change their minds. "We're waiting to hear if any will be refused," said Nikita Stewart, a Post reporter who is a vice chair of the Post unit of the Newspaper Guild.


Jesse Linares, a journalist who helped launch the Spanish-language newspaper Hoy Los Angeles, died Saturday at Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center," Francisco Castro wrote Friday for Hoy Los Angeles. "He was 49 and had cancer." Baldwin Park Patch said Tuesday, "Linares studied journalism and political science at Cal State Northridge, and worked at La Opinión as a reporter and editor before leaving to join Hoy as an editor since the start of that publication eight years ago, Latino California reported."

In a story following up on January's suspension of the Mexican American Studies program in public schools in Tucson, Ariz., Roque Planas of Fox News Latino wrote that Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne "cited Salomón Baldenegro's columns for the Tucson Citizen as an example of the Mexican American Studies mindset. 'I found his writings very troublesome. I thought they were very racially oriented and designed to create negative feelings about the United States,' Horne said." Baldenegro is a political historian and activist.


"At least two more advertisers have pulled their business from Village Voice Media, citing concerns over the company's classified website,, which has come under fire for allegedly providing a forum in which underage girls can be sold into prostitution," Joe Pompeo wrote Friday for Capital New York. "The Tribeca Performing Arts Center, which is run under the auspices of CUNY's Borough of Manhattan Community College, will no longer advertise with the company's namesake paper, The Village Voice, after this week. And Trans High Corporation, the parent company of High Times magazine, announced in a press release on Tuesday that it would 'discontinue any advertising or promotional relationship with Village Voice Media due to their continued financial stake in' "

In Roanoke, Va., WDBJ-TV, the CBS affiliate, announced the additions of Bryce Williams, who has worked as a reporter at several stations throughout the South, and Orlando Salinas, who covered domestic and international stories for more than 12 years as a national news correspondent for Fox News based in Miami, Andrew Gauthier reported for TVSpy.  


Tom Arviso Jr., publisher of the Navajo Times in Window Rock, Ariz., is scheduled to receive the Phil Alvidrez Award for Excellence in Journalism Saturday at the annual Arizona Freedom of Information Awards, sponsored by the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

"In 2010, following midsummer negotiations between the Catholic Church and the government of President Raúl Castro, Cuban authorities began releasing imprisoned journalists, sending them into forced exile with their families," María Salazar-Ferro reported Tuesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "In April 2011, the last of more than 20 journalists arrived in Spain. They had been granted liberty and respite, and were promised support from Spanish authorities while they settled into the new country. But almost two years after the first crop of journalists arrived in Spain, the four who remain in the country are living under extremely difficult conditions, struggling even to feed themselves."


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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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