Foster parent Rusty Page carries Lexi, 6, as family-services workers arrive to take the child.
David Crane/Los Angeles News Group

White Foster Parents Had Media’s Sympathy

Can you guess where the headline writers’ sympathies lie?

"Girl yanked from foster home for being 1/64th Indian" (USA Today from Newser)

"Girl, 6, removed from foster family of four years under law about her 1.5% Choctaw heritage (VIDEO)" (Daily News, New York)

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" 'Devastated' Foster Parents of Part Native American Girl Taken From Home Fighting to Get Her Back: 'We Will Go to the Ends of the Earth for Her' " (People)

" ‘Keep Lexi home': A foster family’s wrenching fight for a 6-year-old Choctaw girl" (Washington Post)

With Native Americans only 0.36 percent of newspaper journalists, according to the latest survey from the American Society of News Editors, it's doubtful that American Indians wrote those stories.

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On Friday, the Native American Journalists Association issued a statement saying it was "disheartened by some of the mainstream reporting on the recent adoption case involving a Choctaw Nation child and a non-Native adoptive couple in Los Angeles County.

"While NAJA understands that the court-ordered custody change attempted by the California Department of Children and Family Services was emotionally charged, it is our steadfast belief that journalistic standards of reporting must prevail," the association said.

What was objectionable about mainstream coverage of this story?

"Everything was wrong with the coverage," Suzette Brewer told Journal-isms by telephone from Stilwell, Okla. "The headlines, the fact checking, the duplicitous means" of getting information," and in a second case, statements "that have libel written all over" them.

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Brewer, who writes for the Indian Country Today Media Network, has reported extensively on the Indian Child Welfare Act and last year won the NAJA Richard LaCourse/Gannett Foundation Al Neuharth Investigative Journalism Award.

The Indian Child Welfare Act, designed to end decades of unnecessary removals of Indian children from their homes and communities, is under assault, she wrote.

Brewer reported Tuesday, "On Monday, March 21, pandemonium broke out in Santa Clarita, California, at the home of foster couple Summer and Russell Page as social workers from the Department of Children and Family Services arrived to pick up a 6-year-old girl who was being held by the couple in defiance of a court ordering her returned to relatives after a five-year custody battle.

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"At 2:45 p.m. PST, the sobbing girl was carried to a vehicle and whisked away as dozens of media outlets and protesters looked on, bringing an end to a stand-off over the child’s custody that had made headlines around the world.

"The girl, who goes by the name 'Lexi,' was ordered to be placed with relatives, including her biological sister, in Utah in compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Her identity was released to the media by the Pages over the weekend, including a Facebook page titled 'Save Lexi,' in which they sought public support in defiance of the court’s order, according to legal experts in California.

"On Sunday, the Pages, who authorities say were told repeatedly from the beginning that the child was 'never up for adoption,' were supposed to facilitate a peaceful transfer at 10 a.m., but efforts to retrieve the child were blocked by protesters who had surrounded the couple’s house to prevent her removal. Officials did not want the transfer to become a dangerous situation and left without the child, according to those familiar with the case.

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"Yesterday morning, however, officials from DCFS released a statement that the agency intended to carry out the court’s order and asked the media 'to respect the child’s privacy.' Behind the scenes, authorities were in contact with the foster parents to inform them to prepare Lexi for transfer or face criminal charges.

"The girl has been at the center of a custody battle between the couple, her biological father and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, for nearly five years. She is the second child that the Pages have attempted to adopt out of foster care, according to court documents. The first child was also returned to its extended family after a custody battle with the Pages.

"Indeed, according to both court documents and those familiar with the case, Lexi has had an ongoing relationship with her relatives in Utah for nearly her whole life. . . ."

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The difference between Brewer's story and most of the others, she told Journal-isms, is that Brewer did not portray the child as being "yanked" from the white family. That family knew all along that the arrangement was temporary, she reported. Moreover, "who cares?" whether the child is "only" 1/64th Indian; she's an enrolled member of the tribe, Brewer said. Laws in such cases always give preference to biological family members over foster families in deciding custody, regardless of race.

Brewer's stories, unlike many of the others, also noted that the foster couple previously tried to keep custody of a second Indian child in foster care.

Brewer praised reporting by Jessica Boyer of SCVTV, the Santa Clarita Valley's public television channel. Boyer "worked her ass off and it shows," Brewer said.

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In contrast, Brewer said, she has seen hearsay information about another child's biological father that could be libelous, and at least one website has published a child's photo, she said. "I'm a mother, and I would not put my kid through what they put this kid through," she said.

Although public opinion seems to be overwhelmingly with the foster parents, Brewer said she has begun to receive comments from mainstream reporters saying, "We're getting a sense that this story is not adding up. . . ."

NAJA said in its statement, "In response to the arbitrary reporting by mainstream media on this national story, NAJA will also be releasing a reporting guide to aid reporters and editors when covering cases that fall under the Indian Child Welfare Act. . . . "

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Suzette Brewer, Indian Country Today Media Network: Broken: Choctaw Father in California Thwarted in Custody Battle With Foster Couple (July 24, 2014)

Lindsay Kimble, People: 4-Month-Old Part Native American Girl Abruptly Taken From Family Under Indian Child Welfare Act: 'We Were Grief-Stricken and in Shock"

Meghan Moravcik Walbert, romper.com: Why The "Save Lexi" Campaign Is Devastating For Me, A Foster Mom

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Editor, 15 Out at International Business Times

Peter Goodman, who as editor in chief of International Business Times published stories about journalism diversity issues for a general audience, is leaving the company as it executes a round of layoffs that includes four journalists of color.

"Three current IBT staffers said that editors at the site have been meeting with reporters this week to let them know that Goodman is leaving and the company will be undergoing significant layoffs," Peter Sterne reported Thursday for Politico.

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"At least fifteen editorial employees were laid off on Thursday. They include: enterprise editor John Simons, deputy tech editor Paul McDougall, social media editor James Sienkievic, Silicon Valley correspondent Salvador Rodriguez, tech reporters Luke Villapaz and Mike Brown, national security reporter Jeff Stone, national political reporter Andrew Perez, labor reporter Cole Stangler, defense reporter Chris Harress, religion reporter Ismat Sarah Mangla and breaking news reporters Adam Lidgett, Sarah Berger, Aaron Morrison and Jackie Salo.

"Many of those laid off learned of their status when they received calls to their desk phones summoning them to meetings. One employee, who was away from their desk, received a text message asking them to report to the boardroom. . . ."

Morrison, a black journalist, identified Rodriguez as Hispanic, and Mangla and Villapaz as Asian American.

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Goodman joined IBT from the Huffington Post, where as business editor he had developed a reputation for encouraging diversity.

At IBT, Morrison wrote such reports as "Media Diversity And The 2016 Election: How A Mostly White Press Corps Influences Campaign Coverage," "Journalists Grade Race-Based Media Coverage: Walter Scott, Michael Brown Discussed At Al Sharpton's Civil Rights Convention," and "Supreme Court Nominee 2016: Obama Missed A Diversity Opportunity, Black And Asian Leaders Say."

Goodman announced Thursday on Twitter that he is leaving, Chris Roush reported for his Talking Biz News. "Goodman wrote, 'It’s true. I’m leaving @IBTimes. Details on next adventure on better day. I’m proud of what we’ve built, the impact of our excellent team.' ”

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Media Must Tread Thin Line in Terrorist Attacks

"Two controversies around the Brussels attacks have shown yet again the thin line the media must tread between breaking the news quickly and not compromising police enquiries," Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday.

"Just two days before extremists struck the Belgium capital on Tuesday (March 22), the police had criticised 'the irresponsibility of a certain outlet' which had published information 'far too early' about the missing Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, 'causing us problems'.

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"Hours before Abdeslam was arrested on Friday after four months on the run, the French weekly news magazine L'Obs revealed that his fingerprints had been found in an apartment near Brussels.

"Police moving in to arrest Abdeslam found the outside broadcast van of a Flemish-language TV channel parked only metres from his hideout.

"Then on Wednesday, two Belgian news websites had to retract reports claiming that an as yet unidentified third suspect involved in the Brussels airport bombings had been arrested.

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"It prompted the BBC's veteran Europe correspondent Chris Morris to tweet: 'This morning's reporting an object lesson in why all should be careful about quoting anonymous sources secondhand.'

"To their credit, Belgian media had respected the news blackout demanded by police in Brussels as they carried out a series of raids days linked to the Paris attacks in November, in which 130 people were killed. . . ."

Separately, also referring to the Brussels attacks, Agence France-Presse reported on the assistance journalists are receiving from private citizens.

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"Journalists can’t be everywhere at once," Remi Banet and Gregoire Lemarchand reported from Paris Friday. "Sometimes they are ‘lucky’ and witness an event like this first-hand. But for several years now, what’s known as UGC (user-generated content) — the photos and videos that eyewitnesses put on social media — has been playing a key role in media reports, showing events as they unfold. . . ."

Mary C. Curtis, The Root: ‘Calm’ May Not Fit Country’s Mood, but It’s Obama’s Only Choice

Emil Guillermo, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Thinking about the Brussels strikes and my new fear — Demagoguephobia

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Daily Beast Says Rubio Allies Behind Cruz Sex Story

"If you enjoy daydreaming about Ted Cruz’s sex life, then today is your lucky day," Asawin Suebsaeng and Betsy Woodruff reported Friday for the Daily Beast.

"The National Enquirer alleged on March 23 that the senator has had five extramarital affairs. And the descriptions it provided of the women — along with barely-pixelated headshots of them — left little to D.C. insiders’ imaginations as to [whom] the Enquirer had accused of being Cruz paramours.

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“ 'A HOOKER, A TEACHER & COWORKERS: 5 romps that will destroy Ted Cruz!' the Enquirer piece boldly claims, in an article that includes a wild 'sex-in-closet' allegation.

'Cruz fired back on Friday, charging that the piece was baseless and that the Enquirer was taking its marching orders straight from 'Donald Trump and his henchmen.'

"The truth behind the rumor-mongering, however, is a little more complex. A half-dozen GOP operatives and media figures tell The Daily Beast that Cruz’s opponents have been pushing charges of adultery for at least six months now — and that allies of former GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio were involved in spreading the smears. . . ."

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Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Dangerous World, Serious Leaders

James Clingman, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Do Black Organizations Really Have Our Backs?

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Pastor says Trump embodies what evangelicals love, not what they believe

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Gene Demby, NPR "Code Switch": On Who Gets To Be A 'Real American,' And Who Deserves A Helping Hand

Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Cruz’s ‘patrols’: The candidate goes to extremes on Muslims

Gillian Flaccus and Jeff Karoub, Associated Press: American Muslims defy Sen. Ted Cruz's call for surveillance

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theGrio.com: Ben Carson gets roasted over Trump support during ‘View’ appearance

Tom Hayden, Boston Globe: Lessons learned from the protests of 1968

Gromer Jeffers Jr., Dallas Morning News: Sweeping change hasn’t swept out Texas incumbents in Congress

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Jim Mitchell, Dallas Morning News: The way to defeat terrorism is not to turn every Muslim in America into a suspect

Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Republicans on Deathbed, Suffering Self-Inflicted Wounds

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Yet another case of media malpractice

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Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Donald Trump’s shocking ignorance, laid bare

Sarah Smith, ProPublica: Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law Requires an Education Campaign, Which the State Hasn’t Funded

Bankole Thompson, Detroit News: Jewish leaders fear Trump presidency (March 17)

Police Arrest Reporter Looking Into Mayor's Salary

In White Castle, La., "Police detained WBRZ reporter Chris Nakamoto while Nakamoto was pursuing a story on town government operations Wednesday," Trey Schmaltz reported Wednesday for WBRZ-TV.

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"Nakamoto was put in handcuffs, escorted to the police department and written a misdemeanor summons. The summons was written for an alleged violation of statute 14:63, remaining after being forbidden.

"A WBRZ video photographer recorded the entire situation. . . ."

Schmaltz also wrote, "Nakamoto, the Chief Investigator of the WBRZ Investigative Unit, was in White Castle looking into questions about the mayor's salary. This week, WBRZ submitted a public records request related to how much the mayor makes. A public records request is a formal inquiry anyone can make to get access to public government documents. An elected official's salary is public information. Nakamoto was at city hall checking on the records request. . . ."

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Bethania Palma Markus, Raw Story: WATCH: Louisiana town arrests reporter for trying to get public records on mayor’s salary increase

ESPN's Le Batard Not Feeling U.S. Opening to Cuba

"So much happy coverage on the television this week," sports columnist Dan Le Batard wrote Monday for ESPN. "Historic visit! America and baseball celebrating themselves.

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"President Barack Obama, Derek Jeter and ESPN head toward communism like it is another cruise port, so many symbols of Americana descending on a rotting island stuck in the 1950s, and it doesn't feel quite right back in Miami, like watching a funeral morph into a party. The history of my own people feels like it is being either ignored or trampled, and I'm not quite sure which of those feels worse. . . ."

Le Batard also wrote, "Understand something, please: My parents are exiles, not immigrants. There is an enormous difference. They didn't come to this country looking for money. They left money behind and came here to risk poverty. They did so because they were exiled from a land they didn't want to leave and still miss, a land they will not visit until this regime is ousted or they see real change that can be trusted.

"My grandmother put my mother on a plane believing they might see each other again in three months. It took 12 years. Grandma put her on a plane because she couldn't stomach the idea of both of her children being in jail at once — her son for his politics, her daughter for trying to go to church to honor the dead. Days after she fled, three militia members with machine guns broke into the house at 3 a.m. looking for my mother. Grandma is dead.

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"Our pain is not particularly unique in these parts. The city of Miami has so many stories such as this. You'll find one in every barrio and bodega. So you'll forgive us if we aren't much in the mood to play ball with a dictator who still has the blood of our people on his hands, no matter how much ESPN and Obama and Jeter dress it up. . . ."

Bobby Lewis and Cristiano Lima, Media Matters for America: Right-Wing Media Lose It After Obama Dances The Tango

Andrés Oppenheimer, Miami Herald: Obama’s tango with Latin America

N.Y. Resists Reforms on Surprise Evictions

"Amid outrage over a law that empowers the NYPD to remove people from their homes without giving them the opportunity to go before a judge, the de Blasio administration is resisting legislative reforms," Sarah Ryley reported Friday for ProPublica and the New York Daily News.

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"City Hall argues that safeguards are already in place to protect the rights of defendants, and that any changes can be handled internally.

"But two lawyers who have worked the front lines, both representing the NYPD in these types of cases, told the Daily News that the department routinely skirts the law and does nothing to make sure innocent people aren’t kicked to the curb.

"The law — known as nuisance abatement — uses civil suits to uproot illegal activities conducted in both homes and businesses. Unlike in most cities, the NYPD can initiate these cases by requesting a secret order from a judge closing the premises before the occupants have been notified or given a chance to defend themselves.

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"But the NYPD, the lawyers said, brings the cases to court without so much as checking if anyone still lives at the home they are seeking to close, or if its targets have been exonerated of the criminal charges on which the nuisance abatement actions are based. . . ."

Governments Shut Social Media During Elections

"On February 18, residents in Uganda woke up, checked their phones and noticed something strange: a distinct lack of alerts," Lizabeth Paulat reported Wednesday for care2com. "Although many didn’t immediately think much of it, for the journalists covering the presidential elections that day, the realization soon dawned that social media had been shut down. This blackout on various social media platforms including Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even LinkedIn continued for days.

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"Flash forward to this week when another presidential election was taking place. This time thousands of miles across the continent in the Republic of Congo. Residents there woke up to an eerily similar situation with SMS, social media and various internet platforms blocked.

"In both cases the governments cited 'security concerns' to justify the shutdown. . . ." Paulat also wrote, "Social media blackouts are becoming an increasingly common, albeit ineffective, way for governments to control the narrative during the electoral process. However, in their quest for control, these governments are only outing themselves as strangers in our modern world.

"For instance, although a valiant attempt was made by Uganda Communications Commission to keep users off social media, VPNs — which reroute users locations and overcome local blockages — became a household term within hours of the shutdown. . . ."

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Committee to Protect Journalists: AFP and Le Monde reporters beaten, have passports taken during Republic of Congo elections

Reporters Without Borders: RSF decries phone and Internet blackout during Congo election

Short Takes

The Investigative Fund, a project of the Nation Institute, on Thursday announced launch of the Ida B. Wells Fellowship, "whose goal is to promote diversity in journalism by helping to create a pipeline of investigative reporters of color. The one-year fellowship will provide four reporters with the opportunity to complete their first substantial pieces of investigative reporting. A call for applications, due April 18, 2016, is available here. Winners will be announced in May. . . ."

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"Backlash against a plan to remove prominent Confederate monuments in New Orleans has been tinged by death threats, intimidation and even what may have been the torching of a contractor's Lamborghini," Cain Burdeau reportedFriday for the Associated Press. The Times-Picayune has supported taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee.

In the April issue of Harper’s magazine, contributor Dan Baum wrote about a conversation he once had with John Ehrlichman, President Richard M. Nixon’s counsel and assistant for domestic affairs, in which Ehrlichman said the war on drugs was essentially a malevolent conspiracy against black liberation movements and youth counterculture. Scott H. Greenfield was skeptical Wednesday on the blog Simple Justice. "Like many others who lived through Nixon, I want this quote to be true and accurate. It explains so much, and confirms my worst bias against Richard Nixon. And yet, it seems inconceivable that Baum, having this Ehrlichman admission that a half century of criminal law disaster was built on an outright lie, political manipulation and racism, wouldn’t have mentioned this before. . . ."

Should white men use the term "bro'"? Critic-at-large Wesley Morris wrote March 15 for the New York Times Magazine, "Now ‘bro’ has been ripped from its life as a teasing term of endearment and description of camaraderie and plunked into the sociopolitical swamps of entitlement and privilege. . . ."

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Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, a former arts and culture writer at the Chicago Sun-Times and senior editor at Ebony magazine, has joined Newcity, a Chicago-based media company, as interim senior editor, the company announcedon Friday.

"The diversity debate over FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's set-top box 'unlocking' proposal continued to heat up with the latest volley coming from supporters of the proposal," John Eggerton reported Thursday for Broadcasting & Cable. "In a letter to the FCC commissioners Thursday, a group of diverse programmers asked the commission to reject calls to delay the proceeding to study its impact on program diversity. Signing on to the letter were Broderick Byers, CEO, iSwop Networks; Stephen Davis, CEO, New England Broadband; Eric Easter, Chair, National Black Programming Consortium; Clifford Franklin, CEO, GFNTV, and Robert Townsend, principal of The Townsend Group. . . ."

"Fusion and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos has been named to Fortune’s 2016 World’s Greatest Leaders list," A.J. Katz reported Thursday for TVNewser. "Ramos anchors newscasts on two networks, in two languages, for two audiences — America with Jorge Ramos on the millennial-centered Fusion in English, and Univision’s evening news Noticiero Univision and Al Punto, the top-rated Spanish-language Sunday public affairs show. . . ."

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"The British journalism industry is 94% white, 86% university-educated and 55% male, according to a damning survey of 700 news professionals conducted by City University London," Oscar Williams reported Thursday for the Guardian. He also wrote, "Researchers reported that just 0.4% of British journalists are Muslim and only 0.2% are black. Nearly 5% of the UK population is Muslim and 3% is black. . . ." Separately, Michelle Stanistreet added that "Media organisations should be compelled to collect and publish employment data . . ." U.S. figures.

"For disclosing in careful detail and through fresh, original storytelling how district leaders in Florida’s Pinellas County transformed five elementary schools into some of the worst in the state through resegregation and intentional neglect, the 'Failure Factories' series by the Tampa Bay Times has won the 2015 Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism," the Nieman Foundation reported on Friday. The $20,000 prize is to be presented to the Times on May 4.

"Esquire is the latest network to jump on the O.J. Simpson bandwagon," Bryn Elise Sandberg reported Thursday for the Hollywood Reporter. "The NBCUniversal-owned cable channel will revisit the high-profile murder case with The Real O.J. Simpson Trial, a 12-hour special set to air on Sunday, April 3, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.ET/PT. The broadcast marathon will recap the events of the 1995 murder trial, from the opening arguments to the final verdict, using archival footage. . . ."

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"The first ever Native American TV Writers Lab will take place in Los Angeles, California," indianz.com reported on Wednesday. "The new program is being spearheaded by the LA Skins Fest in partnership with NBCUniversal, CBS Entertainment Diversity and HBO. The group wants to help Native Americans develop writing careers at major television networks. . . ."

"Esquire’s longtime fashion editor Wendell Brown is leaving Hearst Magazines, WWD has learned," Alexandra Steigrad reported Wednesday for Women's Wear Daily. "Brown, who spent 11 years at Esquire, most recently in the role of senior fashion editor, is heading to The Daily Beast. . . . Brown was the second-most senior fashion editor at Esquire after fashion director Nick Sullivan. A spokesman from Esquire confirmed Brown’s departure, adding that the editor’s last day at Hearst is next week. . . ."

Charles W. Wolfertz III, president and general manager of WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, apologized Thursday for the actions of anchor and reporter Wendy Bell, who posted comments on Facebook this week about an ambush shooting that left five people dead. Bell apologized earlier, saying her words "could be viewed as racist." The Pittsburgh Black Media Federation saidThursday, "The irresponsible statements demonstrate a persistent problem with how African-Americans are negatively stereotyped by too many journalists and news organizations." "The victims, killed in a poor suburb following a cookout, included a pregnant woman and her unborn child," the Associated Press reported. Authorities have not made arrests in the March 9 killings in Wilkinsburg.

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In conjunction with the announcement that Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, would deliver the keynote address at Columbia College's Class Day on May 17, the Columbia Daily Spectator published "10 things you didn't know about Dean Baquet."

Reporters Without Borders said Thursday that it "urges the Vietnamese authorities to quash the jail sentences passed yesterday on two citizen-journalists and reiterates its call for the repeal of article 258 of the criminal code — the article used to convict them — which penalizes 'abusing democratic freedoms." The Hanoi local court took just a few hours to convict Nguyen Huu Vinh, the founder of the well-known Anh Ba Sam news website, and his assistant, Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy. Finding that their articles 'distort the lines and policies of the party and law of the state, and vilify individuals,' the judge sentenced Vinh to five years in prison and Thuy to three years. . . ."

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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