Gay Journos Visible 'All Over the Airwaves'

"The remarkable shift in how the United States views gay rights and gay people could be easily understood just by following the way the media covered the Supreme Court's historic rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 on Wednesday," Jack Mirkinson reported Thursday for Huffington Post.

"Just as LGBT people have become ever more visible in American society, so too were they all over the airwaves throughout the day.

"If viewers turned to ABC in the morning, they could see Sam Champion, the openly gay - and married - 'Good Morning America' host, talk about how good the ruling felt, and be embraced by his fellow anchors.


"In the evening, they could find Diane Sawyer giving a hero's welcome to Edith Windsor, the 84-year-old who won the actual case at stake in the DOMA decision. Sawyer called her 'remarkable.'

"On MSNBC, they would find Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts discussing the political and personal implications of the Court's decision along with another openly gay guest, New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn.


" 'Three openly gay people discussing this on national television is itself a moment,' Maddow said.

"If they switched to CNN, they might have seen Don Lemon, who came out in 2011, gleefully bring his cameras into the iconic Stonewall bar in New York to get some regular peoples' reaction. 'If you haven't been to a gay bar, I'm about to take you to one,' Lemon said. . . ."


However, there were missteps. "The most common errors I saw in the first day of stories about the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decisions were these," Jennifer Vanasco wrote Thursday in Columbia Journalism Review.

"1. Outlets saying that the Defense of Marriage Act had been struck down.

"2. Outlets saying (or implying) that gay marriage was now legal in California . . . ."


In the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, Paul Taylor and Mark Hugo Lopez of the Pew Research Center noted it would not be as easy as some think to describe the group most affected by the same-sex marriage ruling.

"Are they gays? Are they gays and lesbians? Or are they LGBT, an acronym that's gone mainstream in the last few decades even though - as is often the case with group labels - it's not fully embraced by everyone it purports to identify . . .," they wrote.


Rachel Jeantel Personifies Race, Class, Culture Clash

"When Rachel Jeantel testified in her friend Trayvon Martin's murder trial yesterday she was called fat, ignorant, sassy, ugly and manly," journalist Sherri Williams wrote Thursday.


"Jeantel was called everything except what she is, a witness in one of the most significant criminal trials in recent history - a young woman who heard her friend fight for his life.

"Social media users called Jeantel a thug, an embarrassment to humanity and to black America. Some joked that she is worthy of a Saturday Night Live skit, a living stereotype, an example of America's failing education system." Williams compiled some of the tweets on Storify.


"Those tweets reveal some of the things that some Americans believe is wrong with this country, but more deeply, what's wrong with young black women," she continued. "Attacks on Jeantel's hair, body, speech, grammar and attitude all seemed to be proof for social media users that young black women are fools.

Jason Johnson, a political science and communication professor at Hiram College and frequent commentator on politics, elaborated on the HLN website: "Some people see a surly, unreliable witness who's been caught telling several whoppers over the last year. Others see your average working class teenage girl, trying her best to stay composed while re-telling the story of the death of her close friend under the most grueling of circumstances.


"Which one did you see? It probably has a lot to do with what demographic boxes you check to identify yourself. . . ."

Eric Deggans, media critic for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, wrote in the same vein:

"What so much of this really revealed was the gulf between middle-aged, middle class, mainstream codes of behavior and life among youth from poorer, non-white neighborhoods," Deggans wrote.


He added, "This is a question that's hovered over the Trayvon Martin shooting since the story burst onto the national stage more than a year ago.

"As each side on this murder trial tries to prove the other person had tendencies toward prejudice and violence which may have sparked the fight, how will jurors judge the difference between edgy culture and outright dysfunction?


Writing for the Nation Thursday, Mychal Denzel Smith introduced readers to the drama:

"Rachel Jeantel was the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin before George Zimmerman killed him on the night of February 26, 2012. On the third day of Zimmerman's murder trial, after opening statements that featured the words 'fucking punks' and [a] knock-knock joke, and testimony from a number of witnesses, Rachel took the stand.


"Visibly shaken, Rachel recounted the details of her phone conversation with Trayvon the night he was killed. She says he told her that a 'creepy-ass cracker' was watching him. He attempted to lose him, but the man kept following, at which point Rachel suggested that Trayvon run. The phone was disconnected shortly after, and when the two were reconnected, Trayvon told Rachel, 'The nigga is behind me.' Rachel then heard a bump, the sounds of 'wet grass,' and what she thought to be Trayvon saying, 'Get off.'

"The court took a recess after the state was finished questioning Rachel, as she was too broken up to continue at that moment. When they returned, Don West, a lawyer on Zimmerman's defense team, resumed the questioning. Rachel's demeanor noticeably shifted. She became agitated, answering West's questions with quick 'yes'es and exasperated 'no's. The more tedious the questions, the more frustrated she became.


"She was looking at a man trying to get someone off for killing her friend. West was doing what a defense lawyer does, of course, by trying to catch Rachel in a lie, poke holes in her story and cast doubt on her credibility. And the way she responded reflected the fact she knew exactly what was going on and she was determined not to let him rattle her. She may have frustrated him just as much as he did her.

"Rachel's testimony is an emotional reminder of just what happened. A teenage boy was killed. His family and friends were left to mourn. For some of them, the pain is still fresh. The man responsible walked free for more than a month. There's a possibility he could be found not guilty. . . ."


Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: "They won't understand her"

Denise Clay blog: For The Children Of The Corn…

Jelani Cobb, New Yorker: Rachel Jeantel on Trial

Brittney Cooper, Salon: Dark-skinned and plus-sized: The real Rachel Jeantel story


Javier E. David, the Grio: Paula Deen controversy, Trayvon Martin testimony re-open messy n-word debate

Jarvis DeBerry, | the Times-Picayune: George Zimmerman's lawyer jokes, the Supreme Court giveth and taketh away


Gregory Kane, 'The Look': A Black Man's Theory on the Zimmerman Jurors

John McWhorter, Time: Rachel Jeantel Explained, Linguistically 

Vickie Newton, Soul of the South network trial coverage (Day 4) (video) 

Prison Culture (Mariame Kaba): Rachel Jeantel: Through A Glass Darkly.

Jason Silverstein, Slate: I Don't Feel Your Pain

Jermaine Spradley, Huffington Post: Rachel Jeantel Twitter Commentary: Olympian Lolo Jones Stirs Controversy With Criticism Of Teen


Angela Tuck blog: Really dude?

Paula Deen Story Should Really Be About the Workplace

"So I read the Paula Deen deposition - all 149 pages," columnist Fannie Flono wrote Thursday in the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.


"I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about. Surely, it had to be about more than her long ago use of the N-word.

"It was.

"Deen does not come off looking good in this deposition. But it's not because of her too cavalier admission that she once - maybe more than once - used a racial slur.


"That can be forgiven.

"No, the deposition offers a more plausible reason why companies are running from her like she's doused with toxic chemicals. Her big problem may not be the N-word; and not the R-word - racist - either, a characterization which she and her fans, blacks and whites, deny. The deposition homes in on the D-word and the H-word: Discrimination and harassment.


"Media attention has almost exclusively focused on Deen's potty-mouth and racially insensitive utterances, from the past and more recently. That's delicious fun for some to read about and use to skewer Deen. But she tearfully and rightly points out that we all have said things that were unseemly or that we should not have. Who among us should cast the first stone at her for being human in that regard?

"Yet the lawsuit for which she was being deposed last month was about present-day workplace activities for which Deen bears some responsibility. . . ."


Meanwhile, Andrew Kirell reported for Mediaite Friday that "Deen has lost sponsors and a Food Network career as a result of controversy over her past use of a racial epithet, but her cookbook empire has not suffered the same fate. In the wake of last week's hubbub, Deen's book sales and pre-sales have surged, sending her atop an best-seller list. . . . "

CNN plans a special on the N-word Monday hosted by Don Lemon, to air at 7 p.m., 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Eastern time.


Mary C. Curtis, the Grio: Is Paula Deen's n-word use a Southern thing?

Merlene Davis, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: There are many issues more important than Paula Deen's words


Jerry Large, Seattle Times: A lot about race in the news; we've still got some work to do

Frederick Lowe, NorthStar News & Analysis: Paula Deen Hires Crisis Expert Who Inspired "Scandal"


John McWhorter, Time: Viewpoint: The Food Network Should Give Paula Deen Back Her Job

Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: The n-word shouldn't be used by anyone

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Tarred and feathered by a word


Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Joining Together in Justice

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: From the Stonewall Riots to the right to gay marriage


Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: The Fearsome Power of Family Equality

Michael Crawford, the Grio: Reflections on DOMA: A coming out story that ends with the dream of equality nearly fufilled


Joe Davidson, Washington Post: Gay federal employees praise DOMA decision

National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association: NLGJA Members Respond to the U.S. Supreme Court Rulings on DOMA and Prop 8


Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The work is not yet done

James Williams, the Grio: Gay rights or civil rights, the struggle is American

Voting Rights Challenges Likely Across the Nation

"The Supreme Court's decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the part determining which states and political subdivisions are subject to the preclearance provision of the law, is likely to spark voting rights challenges around the nation, according to a study by New York University," George E. Curry wrote Tuesday for the National Newspaper Publishers Association. 


"The 5-4 decision by the conservative majority effectively guts the strongest section of the Voting Rights Act until Congress passes new legislation to meet the objections raised in latest ruling, which grew out of a challenge filed by Shelby County, Ala.

"According to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, the ruling is likely to revive a flood of racially discriminatory practices that had been forbidden by the Department of Justice and federal courts. The Texas attorney general has already announced that the state will immediately implement two voting changes that had been challenged by the Justice Department, including one that requires a voter photo ID, in the wake of the court's latest ruling. . . .


The decision continued to prompt outrage and sorrow. While some commentators agreed with the court that the Voting Rights Act needs to be updated, others called the decision judicial activism, since Congress had used updated figures and held 20 months of hearings in reauthorizing the act in 2006.

Moreover, drafting laws to enforce the post-Civil War amendments on the right to vote is Congress' responsibility. Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, noted that in 2006, Congress amassed a 15,000-page record supporting its judgment that minority voters in certain places needed specific protections to be able to participate equally in the political process, Frederick H. Lowe Jr. reported for NorthStar News & Analysis.


Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post: The Supreme Court's post-racial fantasy

Editorial, Los Angeles Times: A setback for voting rights

Editorial, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Court's decision topples a key civil rights pillar


Rep. John Lewis, Washington Post: John Lewis and others react to the Supreme Court's Voting Rights Act ruling'

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Supreme Court can't stop demographics

Jack White, the Root: No Affirmative Action for Clarence Thomas?

Drops in Black Enrollment Follow Affirmative Action Curbs

"Whenever states have eliminated affirmative action in the past, a decline in Black college enrollment has followed that decision, a study by The Civil Rights Project at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) shows," George E. Curry wrote Tuesday for the National Newspaper Publishers Association.


"Rather than make a definitive ruling on a case involving the University of Texas, on Monday the United States Supreme Court sent the case back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals with instructions for the judges to determine whether the university met the strict scrutiny standard mandated by [a] previous Supreme Court ruling involving the University of California-Davis Medical School (Bakke) University of Michigan Law School (Grutter). . . ."

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Asian American Groups Dismayed by Supreme Court Decision to Gut the Voting Rights Act


John Blake, CNN: Three questions for Clarence Thomas

George E. Curry, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Affirmative Action Polls Show Deep Racial Gulf


Editorial, Los Angeles Times: The right move on affirmative action

Emil Guillermo blog, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Affirmative action alive and well - for now - as the Supreme Court throws Fisher back to the lower court


Maria Hinojosa with Myrna Perez, Latino USA, NPR: Decisions, Decisions at the Supreme Court (podcast)

Christie Thompson, ProPublica: Top Questions from our Q&A on the Affirmative Action Decision


The Root, Black America Web Seeking Editors

The Root and, two websites targeting African Americans, are seeking editors.


At the Root, Lauren Williams, acting managing editor, is leaving for Mother Jones' Washington bureau as a story editor, Mother Jones announced on Thursday. Her departure comes only weeks after Sheryl Salomon stepped down after three years as managing editor, effective June 1, elevating Williams to the acting managing editor position.

Publisher Donna Byrd told Journal-isms, "We will start a search for a new managing editor in a few weeks. In the meantime, everyone on staff is helping to manage the workload."


Mother Jones said in a news release, "Previously, Williams was the deputy editor for The Root (part of the Washington Post's Slate Group), where she managed teams of freelancers and staffers and helped spearhead the site's user experience, search engine optimization, and social-media strategy. Prior to this role, Williams was an editor at AOL's . . ." Managing Editor Clint Hendler told Journal-isms by telephone that Williams would be developing stories and "managing copy flow out of the D.C. office.", part of Reach Media, closely identified with radio host Tom Joyner, is seeking a managing editor to work in Dallas with Cherie White, director and editor. It is a new position.


The managing editor will "curate content, develop an intern program, extend content on the web originating from our radio shows," spokesman Marty Raab told Journal-isms by email. Those interested may contact jobs (at)

April rankings by the comScore, Inc. research company showed 2,062,000 unique visitors for the Root and 279,000 for


Kenneth Noble, Former N.Y. Times Writer, Seriously Ill

Kenneth Noble, a former West Africa correspondent and Los Angeles bureau chief for the New York Times, has been diagnosed with terminal heart problems and is being treated in Gainesville, Fla., he told Journal-isms by telephone on Thursday.


Noble, 59, said, "The doctors have decided there is not much they can do for me." He has had quadruple heart bypass surgery and been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, he said. A New York Times employee for 19 years, Noble taught journalism USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism for eight years after leaving the Times in 2001.

"I have no idea what caused this," Noble said. "Up until 10 years ago, I was a pretty elite cyclist, a former lifeguard," and he maintained a vegetarian diet. "I did everything they advise you to do, and it still went bad.


He added, "I really appreciate the encouragement I've gotten in recent months," he said. "It's really kept me going." Noble can be reached at kubakloth (at)

Charles Pugh, Broadcaster-Turned-Pol, Stripped of Salary

"Should he decide to come back to city hall, there would be little left for Charles Pugh to do," Matt Helms and Joe Guillen reported Thursday for the Detroit Free Press.


"Emergency manager Kevyn Orr today stripped all powers from the Detroit City Council president as well as his $76,911 base pay. Orr spokesman Bill Nowling said that Pugh may still bear the title of council president and can show up at meetings and even vote on issues at the table. Orr cannot remove him from office, but under Orr's interpretation of the state's emergency manager law, Nowling said, Pugh's vote may no longer count. Orr's order ending Pugh's pay takes effect July 7.

"Another day came and went with no word to city officials from the City Council president, whose mysterious disappearance from the public eye came just before allegations surfaced about a potentially inappropriate relationship with a teenage high school student Pugh had been mentoring. Pugh's chief of staff said the lack of response from Pugh worries her."


The story continued, "Pugh had a lucrative career in local television news and radio before running for city council. He was one of five new city council members who had come into office in 2010 vowing to change the course of a city government that had been rocked by scandals.

"He rode a wave of popularity that began with his time as a news broadcaster at WJBK-TV (Channel 2) and as a radio host in a campaign in which he became the first openly gay City Council president in the city's history, garnering national headlines. . . ."


D.C. Anchor Shakes Nerves, Throws Out First Pitch

"Beloved WRC newscaster Jim Vance threw out the first pitch at Nats Park on Wednesday as part of the stadium's Black Heritage Night," Sarah Kogod reported for the Washington Post, referring to the Washington Nationals. "Despite being admittedly nervous, Vance threw a respectable pitch to Tyler Clippard, who had coached him on his delivery. . . . " Vance has been at the NBC-owned station since 1969 and has anchored since 1972. In 2007, he was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.


Short Takes

"The anti-Latino sentiment that has emerged in some quarters of American politics is self-defeating," Carlos Lozada, editor of the Outlook section of the Washington Post, wrote last Sunday for the Post. "It fosters unity among the otherwise disparate peoples it targets. It strengthens, even creates, the very identity it seeks to dislodge."


Lisa Sylvester, the cut-in news anchor and correspondent for "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," left CNN in May, a spokeswoman confirmed Friday. Previously, Sylvester was Washington-based correspondent for "Lou Dobbs Tonight." Sylvester joined CNN in 2004 from ABC, where she had worked since 2000.

"KLAS reporter Sharie Harvin is facing disciplinary action at the Las Vegas CBS affiliate after failing to disclose her ties to a church featured in one of her reports," Merrill Knox reported Thursday for TVSpy. "KLAS news director Ron Comings told TVSpy that Harvin was assigned a reaction story to yesterday's Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage. After contacting more than 10 religious leaders for the story, Harvin told Comings that she was unable to find one willing to participate in the report except her own pastor at the Nehemiah Ministries Christian Church." However, she is listed on the website as Nehemiah Ministries' director of public relations.

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In St. Louis, "After 20 years together, KSDK-Channel 5 and longtime education reporter Sharon Stevens are parting ways next month," Joe Holleman reported Wednesday for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Stevens joined KSDK in 1993 after spending 10 years at KTVI-Channel 2. . . ." Stevens told Journal-isms by email, "I don't know yet what I'll be doing but I'm excited about the next chapter in my life!" She is a past vice president/broadcast of the National Association of Black Journalists.


"Yesterday the Senate approved the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744) 68-32, pushing the bill to the House of Representatives," begins the introduction on the Latino Rebels website. "You saw a lot of politicians talk about the bill, but did you ever read the bill? These two videos (one in English and one in Spanish) provide a comprehensive overview of the bill." The site displays the videos.

Kennan Oliphant, an executive producer with Raycom Media in Myrtle Beach, S.C., has been promoted to assistant news director at WLBT/WDBD, a duopoly in Jackson, Miss., News Director Wilson Stribling confirmed Friday. The stations are owned by Raycom.


The Inland Fellowship Program pairs younger minority staffers at member newspapers with industry veterans in a three-year program that includes mentoring, attendance and participation in Inland Press Association conferences and association committees. The association, which has 1,200 member papers, is accepting applications for a new class of fellows. Newspapers nominating fellows should email Kathy Koerlin at kkoerlin (at) The application deadline is Aug. 23. For more information, see

David Gonzalez's "Side Street" blog, which "reports from corners of the city in words and pictures" for the City Room section of the New York Times website, will now appear every other Monday in the print edition, "alternating with Clyde Haberman's always filling Breaking Bread," Metro Editor Wendell Jamieson announced to the Times staff. The latest "Side Street" column is about a new statue of Roberto Clemente, the legendary baseball player who becomes "what many believe is the first Puerto Rican honored by a statue in a park in New York City."


In conjunction with President Obama's trip to Africa, NPR's "Tell Me More" [podcast] with Michel Martin devoted its entire show Friday to the continent, discussing such subjects as "Love Lost Between Africa And President Obama?" "Can Africa Manage Its Own Growth?" and "Blog From The Bedroom Brings Pillow Talk to Africans."

"Unfolding My World: Reports from WNYC's Radio Rookies," first-person accounts by teenagers on such topics as "slut-shaming" on the Internet, police stop-and-frisk practices, living with sickle cell anemia and trying to beat the odds of graduating while black and male, was among the winners of the Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism, which recognize exemplary reporting on children and families in the United States, the Journalism Center for Children and Families announced.


Wesley Lowery, reporter for the Boston Globe and student representative on the board of the National Association of Black Journalists, appeared on NBC's "Today" show Friday to discuss former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, who is accused of planning and carrying out the cold-blooded execution of Odin Lloyd, an acquaintance. Lowery has been covering the story and has made other media appearances in conjunction with it.

"Reporters from ABC News and Reuters booked seats on a Moscow to Havana flight Thursday thinking that NSA leaker Edward Snowden might be on board, Chris Ariens reported Friday for TVNewser. "Once again, he wasn't. The New York Times reports 'two dozen reporters and photographers were pressed against the terminal window as the plane backed away. . . .' "


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