Grio Writer Accuses Howard University Radio Station of Plagiarism

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Grio Columnist Makes Plagiarism Accusation; Howard U. Radio Station Apologizes

WHUR-FM Removes Disputed Posting

A controversy between the Grio, NBCUniversal's black-oriented website, and WHUR-FM, Howard University's commercial radio station, was brewing Monday, closely watched on social media.


On Tuesday, WHUR General Manager Jim Watkins issued an apology, telling the Grio writer that the station has "moved aggressively to address your concerns."

"Last week, I wrote about the Fire and Fainting Challenge that is all the rave with some of the teens of America now for my column at The Grio," wrote Luvvie Ajayi, a Grio contributor who describes herself as "a serial ranter and blogger." "I posted my week's writing recap here and this morning, someone commented telling me they searched for the fainting game on Google and ran across an article that sounded really close to mine.


"I click the link and end up on WHUR FM's website and I read it with fumes coming out my ears. I was at home like this:

"WHUR is Howard University’s radio station, and their 'writer' named Richard Montgomery had basically copied and pasted entire paragraphs from my piece, posted it with few of his and TADA!!! Insta-post.

"So I am here to write a very deserved sternly-worded letter (it’s been a while) to the staff at WHUR and to Richard Montgomery himself.


"Dear WHUR,

"You have failed successfully at your job and you have failed at journalism. Hell, you have failed at blogging and you have failed at everything you are supposed to do: provide original content. . . ."


WHUR removed its posting. On Tuesday, Howard University released this letter from Watkins:

"I am in receipt of your complaint regarding a recent posting on our website ( <> ).  Please know we take such matters very seriously and have moved aggressively to address your concerns. We pride ourselves on delivering the best possible product whether on the air, web, or via our social media sites.  In the posting you referenced, we failed to achieve those standards.  We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you.  We have taken the appropriate steps to ensure such violations do not occur in the future. . . . ."


Watkins gave Ajayi his direct office number.

The July 31 "Luvvie's Lane" post began:

"A teenage boy stands in the shower wearing shorts and douses himself in acetone (nail polish remover). He lights a match and throws it on himself. When he catches fire, he runs around the house in pain until he ends up back in the shower and his friends put the flame out.


"This is called the 'fire challenge,' and it is the new THING that teenagers are doing across the country.

"Then there's the two girls standing against a wall, and they wait as two boys hold their chests down. One of them passes out on the ground, and then she finally wakes up after 30 scary seconds as her friends laugh. That's the 'pass out challenge.'


"In the words of Cliff Huxtable, 'Theo, that is the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life. No wonder you always get Ds.' Everyone and everything has jumped the shark. Jesus be a fence, take the wheel and hold my mule because I cannot deal with it. . . ."

Website Spotlights "Qualified," Savvy Journalists of Color

" 'We can't find qualified minorities.' Each of us has heard this time and time again: when we ask our bosses whether they interviewed any women or people of color for that opening they just hired, when we challenge conference planners who set panel after panel of monochromatic talking heads," says the "About This Project" page of a newly revamped Journalism Diversity Project website.


Emma Carew Grovum, Sharon Chan, Robert Hernandez, Michelle Johnson, Doug Mitchell, Juana Summers and Benet Wilson are the journalists behind the site.

"In 2011, we pulled together a list of more than 130 digital journalists of color who were both qualified, awesome, and easily findable. Now, in 2014 we’re giving the project a new life and making it a more robust resource for job seekers, hiring managers and conference planners.


"Who makes the list? People of color, committing acts of journalism, and pushing the craft forward in the digital age. It's a broad umbrella, meant to cover storytellers who truly 'get' digital-first and multi-platform journalism, coders and developers, data journalists, UX folks and designers, content strategists, professors who are molding the next generation and more. . . .

. . . Consider Diversity When Deciding on Making Gifts

Meanwhile, veteran journalist Farai Chideya, now teaching at New York University, made another case for diversity, particularly in public broadcasting, with a Friday posting in Huffington Post headlined, "Media Money and Power in a Post-Post-Racial Age."


"I personally would like to see a truly integrated media, with diversity threaded throughout big and small companies, legacy news organizations and startups," Chideya wrote. "Media entrepreneurs need to understand why integrated media is not 'feel-good' but essential in an America rapidly becoming majority-Latino and non-white. Race-based stories are often precursor indicators to larger societal shifts.

"For example, what if media had paid more attention to the predatory mortgage lending in communities of color, which was documented in groundbreaking work by Colorlines' Kai Wright? We may have spotted the larger crisis sooner and given regulators information that helped stop the destruction of American wealth. On the other hand, women and diverse journalists need to understand how business works. We need to train ourselves to seek and engage in the right partnerships, get investments, and use them wisely.


"If companies like Google can publish their diversity numbers, warts and all, then every public media entity should have readily available and updated figures on its editorial staffing demographics, hiring, and retention. We individuals who support public media should demand those figures as we consider our gift making. And foundations, most of all, should take responsibility for using their fiscal leverage to demand results. The problem of diversity is systemic to media, but in public media we seem to rhetorically set ourselves a higher bar, yet fail to make the investments necessary to achieve it."

LaToya Valmont, Essence Veteran, Named M.E. of Glamour

LaToya Valmont has been promoted to managing editor of Glamour, Chris O'Shea reported Thursday for FishbowlNY.


According to a July 18 news release from Glamour, a Conde Nast publication, "In her new role, Valmont will manage the monthly issues from lineup to closing, overseeing deadlines and layouts while supervising the production, copy, and research departments."

Cindi Leive, editor-in-chief, said in the release, 'LaToya is an exceptionally strong leader, and we're thrilled to promote her to managing editor. She's a great manager and a strong collaborator — both key qualities during this time of tremendous growth at Glamour."


The announcement continued, "LaToya joined Glamour in April 2013 as production director. She previously worked at Essence for ten years, most recently in the role of production manager. Formerly, she worked at People and O, The Oprah Magazine."

Ebola Outbreak Could Dominate Visit by African Leaders

"More than 40 African heads of state touched down in Washington, D.C., on Monday for the first-ever three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and White House gala, but concerns about the deadly Ebola virus loom over the event — potentially overshadowing the festivities," Erin C.J. Robertson wrote Monday for The Root.


"As the summit kicks off, a second American infected with Ebola is expected to be brought to the U.S. on Tuesday and admitted to Emory University Hospital's infectious-disease unit for treatment, Fox News reports.

"According to Fox News, two West African leaders — Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai — have apologetically pulled out of the event amid concerns over the outbreak of the lethal virus, which is concentrated in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It has already killed at least 729 people, the Los Angeles Times reports, and threatens to spread. . . ."


Carielle Doe, ABC News: Ebola Outbreak Feeds on Fear, Anger, Rumors

Internews: Enabling Journalists to Raise Awareness on Ebola (April 23)

Muck Rack: What journalists are saying about #Ebola

James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: Viruses like Ebola know no borders

Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corp.: As the Fight against EBOLA intensifies, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists has set up an Ebola Response Committee as part of its contribution in the EBOLA fight


Jessica Weiss, International Center for Journalists: Resources for reporting on the Ebola virus and outbreak

DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: Africa summit a dream come true for advocate

Washington Post Examines Black Gays' High HIV Rate

"The story of HIV in America is the story of HIV among black Americans, who are over eight times more likely than white Americans to test positive for the virus," Jeff Guo wrote Thursday for the Washington Post.


"In the next few days, we'll take a trip to Atlanta, the black gay mecca, to unravel the mystery of what is driving these high HIV rates in the black community.

"What has never been a mystery, though, is the magnitude of the problem:

"Black Americans make up a bigger share of people living with HIV than any other ethnic group. That gap will only continue to widen because black Americans also have the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses. Nearly half of all new cases of HIV are among black Americans. . . ."


Guo's story was published Monday under the headline, "The black HIV epidemic: A public health mystery from Atlanta's gay community."

Smith Comments Exemplify Erosion of Thoughtful Discourse

"Stephen A. Smith will return to active duty this week at ESPN, which suspended him for being overzealous — and imprecise — while doing what he is paid to do: provoke and incite," William C. Rhoden wrote Sunday for the New York Times.


"Smith received what amounted to a 10-yard holding penalty last week because, while discussing the N.F.L.'s punishment of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, Smith suggested that women help prevent their brutalization by not provoking men to violence.

"In public and private conversations, Smith has said he wishes he had been clearer.


"Too late.

"One thing you quickly learn about writing for and appearing on television is that fitting nuanced points into three- to five-second sound bites is like trying to fire a pass through three defenders in airtight coverage.


"The masters can do it; the rest wind up getting picked off. Or fired.

"Smith's remarks are the latest example of how the line between being thought-provoking and merely provoking has become blurred and how thoughtful discourse has been compromised.


"At its best, commentary, inside and outside the world of sports, provides insight, makes sense out of confusion and finds balance in the midst of controversy.

"In the last 25 years, with the rise of sports journalists as news media stars, those who have traditionally been charged with providing perspective have often been the ones lobbing verbal hand grenades. . . ."


Rhoden went on to reference Andrew Young's comment about "smart-assed white boys," discussed in Friday's "Journal-isms."

Christine Brennan with Howard Kurtz, "Media Buzz," Fox News: ESPN too soft on Stephen A. Smith? (video) (transcript)


Tammerlin Drummond, Oakland Tribune: Domestic violence not just an NFL problem

David Ginsburg, Associated Press: Ravens' Rice: His Actions 'Totally Inexcusable' 


Don Lemon, Don Lemon Says Stephen A. Smith Could End Up Helping With Domestic Violence

Robert Lipsyte, ESPN: When embracement of debate goes wrong

Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Not afraid to write about violent black men; would rather write about worthy ones


Erik Wemple, Washington Post: ESPN's action on Stephen A. Smith: Useless

Redskins' Website on Team Name Gets 3 Pinocchios

The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" column has awarded three Pinocchios — "significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions" — to the Washington Redskins' new website defending the team name.


Glenn Kessler wrote Thursday, "The Washington Redskins have been paying for ads promoting a new Web site,, which supposedly sprung up organically from frustrated former players who wanted to defend the team's embattled name, which many find offensive. (Slate turned up evidence that the Web site is tied to image-makers Burson-Marsteller, which was later confirmed by the team.)

" 'We believe the Redskins name deserves to stay,' the Web site says on its 'facts' landing page. 'It epitomizes all the noble qualities we admire about Native Americans — the same intangibles we expect from Washington's gridiron heroes on game day. Honor. Loyalty. Unity. Respect. Courage. And more. On this page, you can read more about the storied history of the Redskins identity.'


"Anytime an organization sets up a 'facts' Web site, it calls out for fact checking. . . ."

Mike Dyce, Hillary Clinton amongst those who think the Redskins should change their name


Editorial, Washington Post: Redskins name gets even harder for Daniel Snyder to defend (July 28)

Hadas Gold, Politico: Washington Business Journal to ban 'Redskins'

Indian Country Today Media Network: Yo, Daniel Snyder! D.C. Dumped These Demeaning 'Redskin' Images in 1958


Mike Wise, Washington Post: Time to admit: The area’s NFL team belongs to Virginia

Hansi Lo Wang, NPR "Code Switch": At Washington's Training Camp, Fans Are Split On Name Change (July 26)


Short Takes

"Two Palestinian journalists were killed yesterday in an Israeli air raid on a crowded market in the Shijaiyah neighbourhood, east of Gaza City," Reporters Without Borders reported Thursday. "Rami Rayan, a photographer for the local news agency the Palestinian Network for Journalism and Media, was killed instantly as he was taking pictures of people buying essential supplies in the market during a brief humanitarian truce called by Israeli forces when it was hit in the strike. Sameh Al-Aryan, a presenter with Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV, was severely injured and died several hours later. . . ."


Mirta Ojito, a former New York Times reporter and assistant professor at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, has been named director, news standards at Telemundo, the NBC-owned Spanish-language network announced Monday. Ojito reports to David McCormick, senior vice president, standards, NBCUniversal News Group. "Her responsibilities will include: reviewing scripts and reports for accuracy and fairness, supporting news management on review processes and ethics training, and providing guidance to Telemundo journalists about news standards. She will also be responsible for training new hires and ensuring that all Telemundo employees are continually educated on NBC News standards and practices, including the use of social media. . . ."

Shawn Madden, 45, former sports anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, collapsed and died at his gym in Shrewsbury, Pa., on Friday, WJZ reported. Madden’s family had a history of heart disease, the station said.


Sabrina Rodriguez, an anchor at KTXL-TV in Sacramento, Calif., has been arrested on charges of grand theft, burglary and conspiracy, Tom DuHain reported Monday for KCRA-TV. Rodriguez turned herself in Thursday after a warrant was issued for her arrest. "The arrest warrant charges that Rodriguez aided an accomplice in the theft of 10 wallets from a Coach outlet store in Folsom," the story said.

"Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and 51 other lawmakers, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are pressing the FCC to ensure that upcoming mergers include 'enforceable commitments' to boost media ownership, programming, advertising and other opportunities for women and minorities," Ted Johnson reported Saturday for Variety. "The letter cited the proposed mergers of Time Warner Cable and Comcast, and of AT&T and DirecTV, as well as 'the imminent announcement' of Sprint's merger with T-Mobile. The FCC's merger reviews examine whether the transactions are in the public interest. . . ." Johnson wrote separately, "Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) and 52 other House lawmakers are asking Comcast to make a commitment to carry Latino-focused channels as the cable giant seeks to acquire Time Warner Cable. . . ."


"Tired of seeing their neighborhood portrayed in news reports as a desolate and violent place, fifth-graders in Chicago's South Shore area wrote what their teacher calls a 'counternarrative.' Their op-ed for the Chicago Tribune includes this line: 'This isn't Chi-raq. This is home. This is us,' . . . "  Bill Chappell wrote Saturday for NPR.

The Marshall Project, the new site specializing on reporting on the criminal justice system, published its first story Monday, "The Prosecutor and the Snitch: Did Texas execute an innocent man?" about Cameron Todd Willingham, a white man convicted of murdering his three young daughters. Keller, former executive editor of the New York Times, told Journal-isms in March that site founder "Neil Barsky and I agreed from our first conversation that The Marshall Product would recruit a diverse staff. The criminal justice system, which will be the focus of our reporting, touches people of color disproportionately, as is distressingly evident from the population of our overstuffed prisons, the profiles of the victims, and the impact on families and communities."


"George W. Collins, a pioneering Baltimore journalist who chronicled the civil rights movement and other significant events in Maryland history, died last week at age 88," Carrie Wells reported Sunday for the Baltimore Sun. "Collins began his career as a reporter and then editor-in-chief for Baltimore's Afro-American in the 1950s, and joined the staff of WMAR-TV in 1968, later becoming an anchor and an associate editor. He also hosted a biweekly public-affairs show Thursday evenings on WEAA-FM, Morgan State University's public radio station. . . ."

"soulhead," a new website, describes itself as a "music lifestyle community targeting passionate music fans from around the World who are looking for unique and relevant content that enhance their lifestyle. We offer free mp3 downloads and reviews of albums, concerts and movies. Our focus is on urban music including new and classic soul, funk, jazz, and progressive electronica and all related music genres. The soulhead® brand was conceived by Ron Worthy, new media visionary, product developer and disc jockey, and is wholly owned by Buzzworthy Media Ventures, LLC of Brooklyn, New York." Contributors include Michael A. Gonzales and Ericka Blount Danois.


Mohamed Fahmy, the Al Jazeera English Egypt bureau chief who is one of three journalists imprisoned in Egypt since Dec. 29, argued his innocence in an essay for Al Jazeera published Saturday, challenging a judge's assumption of their guilt. "We are innocent and the world may be understandably too busy with the wars in Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine to realise that the degrading 57-page judgment report explaining reasons for the verdict completely ignores the 12 hearings and seven months we have spent in prison. I am hopeful that a breakthrough may happen sooner rather than later but I am conversing with many lawyers and still assessing options," Fahmy wrote.

"Since meeting her new extended family in China," Paula Madison and her brothers "have gone into business with cousins shipping Napa wines and Maine lobsters to China," Al Tompkins wrote Thursday for the Poynter Institute. Tompkins recapped the story told in Madison's film, shown last weekend at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, in which Madison, a former NBCUniversal executive and journalist, traces her roots. "In 2015, Harper Collins will release a book on the whole odyssey. The documentary 'Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China' is making the film festival rounds and will eventually end up on television and The Africa Channel . . . She said she wants to open people's eyes to help them want to know more about their family's past and continue family legacies. . . ."


"Monica Kaufman Pearson, the award-winning journalist and former WSB-TV news anchor in Atlanta, will be among the 1,380 students eligible to walk at the University of Georgia's summer Commencement ceremony Aug. 1," the University of Georgia announced on Thursday. "Pearson retired from WSB-TV in 2012 after decades in front of the camera and enrolled in a master's program in UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Like many nontraditional students who go back to school later in life, Pearson was seeking a change in direction. . . ."

In an interview with Miles Marshall Lewis for Ebony, entrepreneur Keith Clinkscales, CEO of Revolt TV, said Monday that the Internet did not kill magazines, "but it mortally wounded it. It was substantial. I think it's not so much the delivery of content, it's the delivery of advertisement. But I think that print will adjust its business model so it's not as advertising-dependent. They'll put more value on getting subscription values. They might not have as high subscription bases as they did before, but they'll get paid better on the bases they have." He also said, "I come from Vibe, I come from a journalistic tradition. So if you're going to write for Revolt, you got to attain a certain standard, you got to have a certain amount of knowledge, and you have to have a certain amount of hustle. The guy who runs our news, the vice president of news, Rahman Dukes, he comes out of MTV. He ran MTV News for a while. . . ."


Press freedom organizations are calling "for the release of the internationally-known Bahraini photographer Ahmed Humaidan, who is to receive the National Press Club's John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award 'in absentia' in Washington, DC this evening," Reporters Without Borders reported on Wednesday. "He has been held since December 29, 2012 in Bahrain. Humaidan was sentenced on March 26, 2014 to ten years in prison for supposedly participating in an attack on a police station in Sitra on April 8, 2012. A court is due to rule on his appeal on August 25. . . ."

"He's won multiple Emmys for his work as an NFL studio host for both CBS and Fox, but this week, James Brown has called an audible, filling in for Scott Pelley on 'CBS Evening News,' " Jordan Chariton reported Thursday for TVNewser. " 'It's been exciting, it keeps my juices flowing,' Brown told TVNewser in an interview this afternoon. 'I forgot how all-encompassing it is because news happens continuously.' . . ."


"The Honorable Julián Castro, newly installed as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will return to his hometown of San Antonio this week as part of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' conference August 7-9, where NAHJ will celebrate its founding three decades ago," NAHJ announced. "Secretary Castro will be speaking at the NAHJ's Hall of Fame Gala on Saturday, August 9. . . ."

Reporting on a development in Mexico, Reporters Without Borders said Thursday it was "appalled to learn that Nolberto Herrera Rodríguez, a cameraman and reporter with Canal 9 TV news, was found murdered in his home in Guadalupe, in the north-central state of Zacatecas, on 29 July. He had been stabbed more than 20 times. He is the fourth journalist to be murdered this year in Mexico in a possible or proven connection with their work. . . ."


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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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