For the last few days, the Internet has had its own version of the telephone game, in which a story is repeated from one person to the next and the version that reaches last person is completely different from the original.
In this case, the story was about Hampton University and hair.
"Hampton University Business School Bans Locks, Cornrows," read the headline Friday on blackamericaweb.com.
"Hampton U Dean Bans Cornrows and Dreadlocks: 'Martin Luther King Didn't Wear It,' " said Gawker.com
"Hampton University Business School dean stands by ban on dreadlocks, cornrows," was the headline on theGrio.com.
It was enough to generate volumes of comments on social media and even on talk radio, and it was featured prominently on websites. TheLoop21.com ran a reader poll: "HBCU Hampton University bans male business students from rocking braids and locs because they aren't 'businesslike.' Is the school right? The tally was "right on," 23; "dead wrong," 44.
You'd think this was a development that came down the pike this week. But all that passion was directed at a policy that had been in place since 2001. It's just that some writers and editors apparently didn't know that.
Some stories did note the date of the policy, though in some cases it was deep in the story. Many left the date out, just as some would in the telephone game.
One thing proved true in each iteration, though: While the subject might be old news, it still touches a nerve.
"As far as the business department banning dreads, I can only say that they are buying into white corporate America instead of embracing blackness," one Facebook posting read. "They are reflecting their Negro as opposed to Black mentality. For those of us who wear dreads for a deeper meaning than style, I will quote Bob Marley and say 'rasta don't work for no CIA,' so our type would not fit in or want to be in their business program anyway. They can kiss it where the sun doesn't shine. These NEGRO colleges are sooooo brainwashed."
Another wrote, "Hey students, pay attention!!! This is the point: Business School Dean Sid Credle believes the ban has been effective in helping his students land corporate jobs. . . . Do you want a job or not?"
"We got tons of calls about it. People with very divided views," said Kim Bondy, an executive producer at TV One who was guest hosting Friday on WBOK-AM in New Orleans. Asked how she learned of the story, Bondy forwarded a link to an article in Black Enterprise. Black Enterprise did not mention that the magazine has its own no-dreadlocks policy, written about in this space in 2006, nor did it mention that the Hampton policy was an old one. ". . . I couldn't find the [news] peg… But folks were tweeting about it yesterday," Bondy said by email.
Black Enterprise did, however, link to a Monday story by WVEC, the ABC-TV affiliate in Norfolk, Va., which serves Hampton. David Ham, who wrote the WVEC story, told Journal-isms he decided to revisit the issue after reading about it on a blog of the Daily Press in Newport News. "It's not a new policy," Ham reiterated.
In fact, in 2006, Susan L. Taylor, then editorial director of Essence magazine, said she had backed out of a speaking engagement at Hampton after learning that "braids, dreadlocks and other unusual hairstyles are not acceptable" for the five-year business administration students. Her sentiments later were seconded by then-Essence Editor Angela Burt-Murray, a Hampton alum.
Journal-isms forwarded one of the current pieces to Credle and asked whether he'd detected the resurgence in interest.
"Yeah, after maybe 7-8 years," Credle replied by email. "I guess there is no other news out there. The difference is that now I have more than 160 graduates who have come through the program ….and are doing extremely well."
BW Staff, ballerwives.com: Hampton University's Dean Sid Credle Stands By 'Ban' On Male Students Wearing Cornrows And Dreadlocks In Class! [Video]
EurPublisher, EURWeb.com: Aww, Hell to No! – Dreads, Cornrows Outlawed at Hampton U Business School (Video)
Julian Kimble, complex.com: Hampton University Dean Bans Cornrows and Dreads Because "Martin Luther King Didn't Wear It"
Mychal Denzel Smith, theRoot.com: On Hampton's Hair Rules
"The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds the percentage of minorities is up a full percent in television from a year ago — and even more in radio [PDF]," Bob Papper reported this week for the Radio Television Digital News Association. "The percentage of minority news directors also went up in both television and radio. And the percentage of minority news directors at non-Hispanic TV stations set a new high mark — for the second year in a row.
"Women overall in TV news stayed almost exactly the same, women TV news directors passed the 30% mark (30.2%) for the first time ever. Women in radio news and women radio news directors both went up noticeably.
"As far as minorities are concerned, the bigger picture remains unchanged. In the last 22 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 10.4%; but the minority workforce in TV news is up 3.7%, and the minority workforce in radio is up 0.9%.
"In TV, generally, the smaller the market, the lower the minority population: 16.3% in markets 151+ … up to 31.2% in the top 25 markets. Staff size is surprisingly constant, with the lowest percentage, 19.6% among staffs 21 - 30, not that far behind the highest percentage, 23.9%, among staffs 11 - 20. It's never been that similar before. Fox affiliates, at 28.2%, had a higher percentage of minorities than the others (as they have in the past), and NBC affiliates, at 17.4% continue to trail ABC and CBS stations — as they did last year. Other commercial stations, at 57.7%, were at the top, and noncommercial stations at 3.8%, brought down the overall percentage.
"As usual, stations in the West and South were the most diverse; stations in the Northeast and Midwest had minority percentages around half the South and West. The minority percentage at non-Hispanic stations rose to 19.7%. That was up from last year's 19.1%, 19.3% two years ago, and 19.6% the year before that.
"At non-Hispanic stations, the minority breakdown is:
"10.5% African American (up from 9.4%)
"5.7% Hispanic (unchanged from a year ago)
"3.0% Asian American (down from 3.5%)
"0.5% Native American (up from last year's 0.4%)
". . . As usual, in TV, men outnumber women for all groups except Asian Americans, where women outnumber men almost 2:1."
"My new piece in this month's Atlantic is up," Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote on his blog Thursday. "In analyzing the president of the United States, it tries (hopefully with some success) to cover a lot of ground — the roots of American citizenship, the Henry Louis Gates arrest, right wing reaction to a black president, Shirley Sherrod, the black mythology of a black president and a lot more."
Coates says in his 9,700-word piece that, "The irony of Barack Obama is this: he has become the most successful black politician in American history by avoiding the radioactive racial issues of yesteryear, by being 'clean' (as Joe Biden once labeled him) — and yet his indelible blackness irradiates everything he touches.
". . . I worked on this story for nine months," Coates says.
In an accompanying video, Coates talks with Atlantic magazine Editor Scott Stossel "about the anger behind this article." Stossel asks whether Coates, while working at the Atlantic, is "conscious of acting whiter," since he says Obama is skillful at "soothing white fears."
"I feel very close to the people here," Coates says. "Being a writer is different from being a banker or a lawyer. In many ways, if you're working for a magazine, you're kind of expected to be different.
"I worked for Time magazine for a while and there was a black organization of employees that was sprawling — because everybody in it was not a journalist. If you heard how people, say in the legal arm, talk, it was very, very different. I sounded like, 'my God, they really had a degree of anger, and it was not unjustified.'
"I mean, think about it, you walk around all day with this mask on, and you perceive these slights — some of them actual slights, and even the madness of having to distinguish an actual slight from a real slight. I mean white people are rude to each other, too. You never see that Obama is doing that psychological work. He seems really, really easy with it."
Coates concludes his blog item with a pitch to ". . . please subscribe to the Atlantic. I can think of maybe one other magazine that would have published something like this, at this rather sprawling length. If this sort of journalism is important to you, please lend us your support. . . ."
Cedric Muhammad, Forbes: The Black Unemployment Litmus Test: Obama Needs a Growth Message…or Hillary Clinton
"On the eve of the conventions, the portrayal in the news media of the character and records of the two presidential contenders in 2012 has been as negative as any campaign in recent times," Mark Jurkowitz wrote Thursday for the Pew Research Center;s Project for Excellence in Journalism, "and neither candidate has enjoyed an advantage over the other, according to a new study of mainstream media coverage of the race for president.
"More of what the public hears about candidates also now comes from the campaigns themselves and less from journalists acting as independent reporters or interpreters of who the candidates are.
"An examination of the dominant or master narratives in the press about the character and record of presidential contenders finds that 72% of this coverage has been negative for Barack Obama and 71% has been negative for Mitt Romney. The study, conducted by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, examined the personal portrayal of the candidate in 50 major news outlets over a 10-week period.
". . . On the eve of the nominating conventions, the discussion of President Obama in major mainstream news outlets is dominated by two narratives assessing his economic record — that his policies have failed to help the economy and that things would be much worse without his actions. Together these two narratives make up half of all the statements about Obama's record and character — and the negative side of the argument outweighs the positive in the coverage by more than two to one.
"The next biggest personal narrative about Obama in the mainstream news media is one that raises doubts about whether the president really believes in American capitalism and ideas of individualism.
"On the Republican side, the No. 1 personal narrative about Romney is that his experience in private equity suggests he is a "vulture" capitalist who doesn't care about workers, followed closely by the idea that he is an elitist out of touch with average Americans. The third-biggest personal narrative in the media about Romney is that he is a gaffe-prone, awkward campaigner. . . . "
"As the 2012 party conventions approach, the Democratic Party continues to maintain an advantage in party identification among voters, but its lead is much smaller than it was in 2008," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported Thursday.
"In more than 13,000 interviews conducted so far in 2012, 35% of registered voters identify with the Democratic Party, 28% with the Republican Party and 33% as independents. The share of Democrats has fallen three points since 2008, while the proportion of Republicans has remained steady.
". . . Over the past four years, the shift in party identification has occurred almost entirely among white voters. The Republican Party now has a 12-point advantage over Democrats among non-Hispanic white voters: 52% identify with or lean toward the Republican Party while 40% identify with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic. In 2008, the balance of party identification among whites was almost evenly divided (46% Republican vs. 44% Democrat). The Democratic Party's advantage among blacks and Hispanics, by comparison, has remained largely unchanged.
"The Republican Party's current lead among white voters is not unprecedented — their advantage is on par with the GOP's lead among whites from 2002-2004 and from 1994-1995. And all of the GOP gain among whites over the past four years is in leaning among independents. In other words, whites are no more likely to call themselves Republicans today than in 2008 (34% in both years), but they are more likely to lean Republican (17% today, up from 12% in 2008)."
"As a media critic, what fascinates me most about the controversy swirling around Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin, is that the journalist whose interview produced the incendiary remark about rape and abortion didn't notice that Akin had said anything so bombastic," Eric Deggans wrote Thursday for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times.
". . . He had told a St. Louis TV reporter asking if he opposed abortion for pregnancies resulting from rape, 'from what I understand from doctors…If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.'
"Charles Jaco, a reporter for St. Louis Fox affiliate KTVI, asked that question, and admitted he 'screwed up' by not following up with the candidate on the controversy and inaccuracy of that remark (media outlets have since noted the chance of pregnancy from rape is the same as the chance of pregnancy from unprotected, consensual sex).
". . . At the risk of over-analyzing what may have been a simple mistake, this, to me, seems one of the dangers of covering politics without heeding the way in which increasingly extreme views are being retooled for mainstream acceptance."
Jamilah Lemieux, ebony.com: Rape, Abuse and the Problem of 'Legitimacy'
Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Abortion could be touchy issue for GOP
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Akin's 'legitimate' political pain
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: The Complicated Politics of Abortion
Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Rep. Steve King adds to GOP's Todd Akin problem
Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Todd Akin is showing all the wrong attitudes
Jennifer Vanasco, Columbia Journalism Review: Akin was wrong: And journalists should've said so from the get-go, rather than simply reporting his comment
"One good way to understand how 42-year-old Paul Ryan vaulted over a generation of politicians into the top tier of national Republican politics is to dive into some numbers," Jonathan Martin, Mike Allen and Katie Glueck wrote Thursday in Politico.
"One hundred ninety times. That's how often the Wisconsin lawmaker's name appeared in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal between Election Day 2008 — when a Republican rout at the polls left the conservative intelligentsia urgently looking for a new star — and the day this month when Mitt Romney tapped Ryan his running mate.
"Another revealing number: Ryan and his plans for overhauling the federal budget drew at least 72 mentions in the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, according to a POLITICO count. There were at least as many references in the equally influential National Review.
"These billings, in turn, helped Ryan drive an even bigger number: 1,050 is how many times Ryan and the Ryan budget were talked up on Fox News. . . ."
"On July 26, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a decision affirming the return of Veronica, an adopted 2-year-old Cherokee child, to her biological father, Dusten Brown," Marcia Zug reported Thursday for slate.com.
"The court's decision was devastating for her adoptive parents, Melanie and Matt Capobianco, who had been raising the child since her birth after her biological mother willingly gave her up for adoption. 'I'll always remember her crying when we had to — we had to walk out of that office and leave her there,' said Melanie Capobianco referring to Veronica's reunification with Brown. 'We're kind of reeling from it, and reliving having to hand her over in our minds constantly is painful,' the couple added.
"Since Veronica's reunification with Brown in January, the Capobiancos have been fighting ceaselessly for her return. Veronica's case has garnered national attention and unprecedented support. For months, pictures of the smiling toddler with her adoptive parents have been splashed across South Carolina papers and featured on CNN and in the Weekly Standard. Moreover, these news stories about 'Baby Veronica' almost uniformly support the Capobiancos, with articles and commentary expressing outrage at the fact that although South Carolina law supports terminating Brown's parental rights due to his lack of involvement and financial support before and after Veronica's birth, this state law is superseded by an 'obscure law' or 'federal loophole' known as the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
"ICWA is a federal statute that regulates the custody and placement of American Indian children. Brown is an enrolled member of the Cherokee tribe, and Veronica is also eligible for membership. As a result, ICWA applies to Veronica's adoption, supersedes state law, and mandates her reunification with Brown. Many Native American law scholars and advocates believe that ICWA is the most important American Indian law ever enacted, but its application in this case has caused fury. . . ."
"My colleagues and I were saddened to learn of the death of Mika Yamamoto, a Japan Press video and [photojournalist] who was killed while covering clashes in Aleppo, Syria, on Monday," Madeline Earp wrote Tuesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists.
"The moment was all the more poignant because of the similarities with two other Japanese journalist fatalities: Kenji Nagai of APF News in Burma in 2007 and Hiro Muramoto of Reuters in Thailand in 2010. As with Yamamoto, Nagai and Muramoto were photojournalists covering conflict between anti-government elements and government troops in foreign countries.
"And as in the Yamamoto case, shocking video footage of the Nagai's death by gunfire spread online even before the details could be confirmed through official channels."
Barbara Trionfi of the International Press Institute wrote Friday, "According to the information available to IPI, at least 37 journalists and citizen reporters have been killed in Syria this year. The head of the Media Freedoms Committee of the Syrian Journalists Association (SJA) told IPI that it estimated that 'dozens' of journalists and citizen reporters were currently missing or in detention in Syria."
Andrew Beaujon, Poynter Institute: Missing reporter: 'Coming here to Syria is the greatest thing I've ever done'
Ernesto Londoño, Washington Post: Concern mounts over U.S. journalist in Syria; Austin Tice's whereabouts unknown
Gunes Yildiz, International Press Institute: Two more media workers killed in Syria today
A year ago, Jimmy Moore, a veteran news photographer for Media General's WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, S.C., was paralyzed from the neck down after crashing his station news cruiser into an I-85 concrete barrier to avoid a spare tire that had fallen off a pickup truck. Today, Moore and his wife, Jamie Moore, a former WSPA producer, are living in an Atlanta apartment. "The fact that Jimmy hasn't had any major complications in the past year is huge," Jamie Moore wrote on the Caring Bridge site. ". . . Jimmy's head wound continues to heal. Looks like it's coming along. We still go to counseling, which is amazing. It helps us with so much of the changes. We're getting out and about. We're traveling."
"A public policy watchdog group has asked the Federal Communications Commission to strip News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting of licenses it has to operate television stations," Joe Flint wrote Wednesday for the Los Angeles Times. "Citing the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed News Corp.-owned newspapers in Britain, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a petition to deny Fox's applications to renew licenses for three of its TV stations — WTTG-TV and WDCA-TV in Washington, D.C., and WUTB-TV Baltimore."
"Add another pair of prominent former WFAA8 anchors to The Texas Daily's roster of part-time pundits," Ed Bark wrote Thursday on his Dallas-based Uncle Barky's Bytes blog. "The list is officially at 14 now with the additions of Debbie Denmon and Iola Johnson to Dallas-based KTXD-TV's latter day D-FW museum of broadcasting. As previously posted, the Me-TV affiliate will be launching the one-hour Texas Daily on Oct. 1st in an 8 a.m. weekday slot. It's aimed directly at baby boomers . . . "
"It continues to be a very turbulent summer for arrivals and departures at D-FW television stations," Ed Bark wrote Thursday on his Uncle Barky's Bytes blog. "The latest to call it a day is veteran WFAA8 reporter Cynthia Vega, who joined the ABC affiliate in spring 2000. She is best known for her live street reporting on WFAA8's early morning Daybreak program."
"NAHJ member Alexis Fernandez is leaving her position as anchor/reporter at KTVA-TV in Anchorage, Alaska to become a reporter at KGUN-TV in Tucson, Arizona," according to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. "She has been a reporter at her station in Anchorage since 2009."
"At least John McCaa isn't going anywhere anytime soon," Ed Bark wrote Wednesday on his Dallas-based Uncle Barky's Bytes blog. "This week's news of NBC5 meteorologist David Finfrock leaving the station's 10 p.m. newscasts while slowly marching toward a planned 2018 retirement came shortly after WFAA8 anchor Gloria Campos became a part-timer by giving up her regular 6 p.m. berth. But McCaa confirmed Wednesday that he's staying the course at WFAA8. 'I have come to an agreement to continue what I am currently doing full-time — 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news,' he said in an email reply."
"CNN will kick off its coverage of the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention with two new, 90-minute documentaries on Mitt Romney and Barack Obama," CNN announced Wednesday. ". . . Melissa Dunst Lipman and Courtney Yager produced Romney Revealed and Jason Samuels produced Obama Revealed, for the CNN Productions unit which is headed by director, Bud Bultman."
"A funny thing happened on the way to our Wednesday August 22 'So What Do You Do?' interview with 'Journal-isms' media columnist Richard Prince," Richard Horgan wrote Friday for FishbowlLA. "Columbia Journalism Review staff writer Michael Meyer published a Tuesday blog item highlighting some of the other media critics besides Jim Romenesko worth reading. And forgot to include Prince. We know this because Prince touched on the CJR oversight in the mid-week edition of his Maynard Institute column. . . ."
Facebook users: "Like" "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" on Facebook.
Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.