In Fla., ‘Prejudice Wears a Black Robe’

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"Justice has never been blind when it comes to race in Florida," Josh Salman, Emily Le Coz and Elizabeth Johnson reported this week for the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune in a series, "Bias on the Bench."

"Blacks were first at the mercy of slave masters. Then came Jim Crow segregation and the Ku Klux Klan.


"Now, prejudice wears a black robe.

"Half a century after the civil rights movement, trial judges throughout Florida sentence blacks to harsher punishment than whites, a Herald-Tribune investigation found.


"They offer blacks fewer chances to avoid jail or scrub away felonies.

"They give blacks more time behind bars — sometimes double the sentences of whites accused of the same crimes under identical circumstances.


"Florida lawmakers have struggled for 30 years to create a more equitable system. . . "


"People think the face of crime is a black man," said LeRoy Pernell, a law professor and former dean at the Florida A&M University College of Law. (Credit: Dan Wagner/Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

They also wrote, "The Herald-Tribune spent a year reviewing tens of millions of records in two state databases — one compiled by the state’s court clerks that tracks criminal cases through every stage of the justice system and the other by the Florida Department of Corrections that notes points scored by felons at sentencing.


"Reporters examined more than 85,000 criminal appeals, read through boxes of court documents and crossed the state to interview more than 100 legal experts, advocates and criminal defendants.

"The newspaper also built a first-of-its-kind database of Florida’s criminal judges to compare sentencing patterns based on everything from a judge's age and previous work experience to race and political affiliation.


"No news organization, university or government agency has ever done such a comprehensive study of sentences handed down by individual judges on a statewide scale. . . ."

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Circuit Court Judge Sherwood Bauer is well respected, but a review of his sentencing patterns shows tjat he is much harder on black defendants. (Credit: Dan Wagner/Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

Blacks See Police Unfavorably, but Aren’t ‘Anti-Cop’

"While 68% of white Americans have a favorable view of the police, only 40% of African Americans and 59% of Hispanics have a favorable view," Emily Ekins reported Wednesday for the Cato Institute.


"Attitudes have changed little since the 1970s when 67% of whites and 43% of blacks reported favorable views of the police. Racial minorities do not have monolithic attitudes toward the police. This report finds that Hispanics’ perceptions of police occupy a 'middle ground' between black and white Americans’ views. . . ."

Elkins also wrote, "Although some groups have less positive views of the police, survey findings weaken the assertion that these groups are 'anti-cop.' For instance, few individuals have 'unfavorable' views of law enforcement. Instead, 40% of African Americans, 28% of Hispanics, and 18% of whites are conflicted and report having 'neutral' feelings toward the police. . . .


"Furthermore, it’s hard to argue that any group is 'anti-cop' since no group wishes to cut the number of police officers in their communities (9 in 10 oppose) and majorities are sympathetic toward the difficulty of police work. About 6 in 10 believe officers have 'very dangerous' jobs. However, these groups diverge widely on whether Americans show enough respect for officers these days — 64% of whites, 45% of Hispanics, and 34% of blacks say Americans don’t show enough. . . ."

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In January, Regina Boone's photo of a 2-year-old child from Flint, Mich., was chosen as the image for a Time magazine cover.

3 Journalists of Color Among Detroit Cutbacks

At least three journalists of color — Detroit Free Press photographers Regina H. Boone and Jessica Trevino and Free Press copy editor Sonya Vann — are leaving the city's daily newspapers as part of another round of budget cuts, according to reporting Friday by Bill Shea of Crain's Detroit Business.


Shea also listed longtime high school sports reporter Mick McCabe of the Free Press and News sports editor Phil Laciura.

"More cuts are coming," Shea wrote.

"Both newspapers are shedding staff to meet 2017 budget needs. In November, The News offered buyouts to its entire newsroom to meet an undisclosed number of reductions. Shortly after, the Free Press said it would seek 17 newsroom staffers to voluntarily leave (later reduced to 16). If neither paper had enough volunteers, they would resort to layoffs. . . ."

Regina H. Boone

Boone confirmed her departure for Journal-isms Friday and said she volunteered to leave. The daughter of the fabled black-press editor and publisher Raymond Boone, who died in 2014, Regina Boone said she was the Free Press' first black female photojournalist.


"I'm going to catch my breath and I plan on returning home to Richmond to decide what's next. I'm grateful for my career in detroit and all of the life long connections I've made," she messaged.

In January, her photo of a 2-year-old child from Flint was chosen as the image for Time magazine's cover.


"In Flint, where lead-poisoned water has sparked international outcry, the image of Sincere Smith, his skin covered by severe rashes his mother believes are the result of bathing in the contaminated water, has become a symbol of the city's suffering," the Free Press wrote then.

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More than 70 media organizations published hundreds of stories on the homeless crisis in San Francisco.

Homelessness Worse After Papers Tried to Help

"Back in June, at the instigation of Chronicle Editor Audrey Cooper, more than 70 media organizations put out hundreds of stories on the homeless crisis in San Francisco," Tim Redmond wrote Tuesday for “ 'We intend to explore possible solutions, their costs and viability,' the letter announcing the project stated.


"I signed on. We were part of the Homeless Project, I always thought it was a good idea; the more we can talk about the crisis, the more we might be able to get the city to do something about it.

"But I was also nervous from the start: The way the news media in this city cover homelessness is often disturbing. People who don’t have a place to live are routinely dismissed as drunks and drug addicts, criminals and losers who just don’t want to get a job.


"So now we are back, doing this again. Dec. 7th is Part Two. And I think it’s fair to look back at the past six months and ask: Has this done any good?

"Let’s see: In November, San Francisco elected a person who is among the harshest critics of homeless people to the state Senate. The voters approved a nasty, stupid anti-homeless law that even the Chronicle opposed. Then they rejected a sales tax to fund homeless programs after the mayor abandoned it – so the existing plans for homeless services have to be cut back.


"A conservative majority that supports market-rate housing as a solution to the problem won control of the Board of Supervisors.

"So: After all of this news media attention, which has won a bunch of awards, the situation is by any objective analysis even worse than it was in June.


"What happened? What did we all do wrong?

"Let me offer some suggestions. . . ."

African Reporters Know Thin-Skinned Presidents

"Last week, Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron voiced great apprehension about press freedom in the US under a Donald Trump presidency," Mohamed Keita wrote Wednesday for Quartz.


“ 'Many journalists wonder with considerable weariness what it is going to be like for us during the next four [years],' Baron said in a stirring speech. 'Will we be incessantly harassed and vilified? Will the new administration seize on opportunities to try intimidating us? Will we face obstruction at every turn?'

"As America enters the era of a thin-skinned president known for lashing out at press coverage that does not meet his approval, it might be helpful for US news media to draw from the experiences of journalists operating in hostile environments. Many of such environments are in Africa, particularly those countries with long-serving presidents who have been in power for decades. . . ."


Keita quoted Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama, a former Knight Fellow at Stanford University and wrote, "For Izama, pressure can bring focus. 'Not all fear is bad. The sense of urgency of fear, its psychological pressure has the effect of clarifying why journalism matters,' he said, adding: 'Because if it were not so important it would not attract the threats it does.'


"In fact, conviction is really important. 'What drives you is the need to tell the story,' said Zimbabwean journalist Zenzele Ndebele. 'There are times when you just don’t care what will happen to you when you have written the story as long the story is worth to be told.'

"[Angolan investigative journalist Rafael de Morais] Marques put it best: 'this is a fight and one shall not have the pretense of neutrality,' he said. 'In the end it is a fight for one to live quietly in your own country without having to turn a blind eye.”


Separately, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press announced Friday it had been "awarded a two-year grant totaling $450,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in support of RCFP’s work defending journalists’ legal rights in the face of increased threats to press freedom. The funding will go directly toward offering journalists and media organizations free legal resources to protect their First Amendment rights. . . ."

AT&T, Comcast Could Be In; Amazon, Google Out

"Elections have consequences," Adonis Hoffman, chairman of Business in the Public Interest and a former senior legal adviser to an FCC commissioner, wrote Wednesday for the Hill. "And nowhere are the consequences more monumental than in the telecom, media and technology (TMT) sector, where the erstwhile status quo stands to be upended soon.


"Predictably, every big decision of the last decade affecting broadcasting, cable, internet, telecom and wireless companies will be reviewed and revised by the new administration. . . . "

Hoffman, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, also wrote, "Hazarding an early guess on the 'Trump doctrine,' we should expect a more benign, pro-business approach to communications regulation as it affects TMT.


"That would be in stark contrast to the Obama policy, which emphasized 'competition, competition, competition' and penalized consolidation and convergence.

"The Trump worldview is not anathema to growth through acquisition by big corporations, whether broadcast, cable or telco. It is not so much a retreat from consumer protection as an advancement of corporate priorities in a jobs-first economy.


"We also should expect the Trump team to be less smitten with the tech sector's agenda or shiny objects. In this scenario, things look good for the likes of AT&T and Comcast, for example, and not so rosy for the likes of Amazon and Google, which held sway with Obama and were avidly anti-Trump. . . ."

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Ex-Staffer Defends Shuttered Fox News Latino

Bryan Llenas

As it promised, if cryptically, Fox News dispersed the content of Fox News Latino Thursday throughout The company continued its refusal to elaborate on its reasons, but Bryan Llenas took to Facebook Wednesday to praise the product he had worked for.

". . . In short, when asked: was Fox News a failure? The answer is unequivocally NO," Llenas wrote. "For six years, we amplified Latino opinions, voices, and issues on one of the major media platforms in the country. Countless stories that would have never seen the light of day were published and shared to an enormous audience.


"I always said in a perfect world we wouldn't need a Fox News Latino — because newsrooms around the nation would recognize that the Latino community is the mainstream community. Today — I am proud that virtually all of my former colleagues will continue to work at Fox News in one capacity or another and I know they will bring the perspective and core of Fox News Latino's mission wherever they go. I am thankful to Francisco Cortes for starting Fox News Latino. I am proud of all that were part of Fox News Latino and the current team. Love you all."

Veronica Villafañe noted Thursday for her Media Moves site, "Not all of FNL’s content migrated to the website. Some stories land on a 404 error page.


"FNL also had a section with Spanish-language content. That has also disappeared.

"Interestingly enough, if the objective is for the FNL content to be “available across a wider range of the website,” Fox did a good job at hiding it from its homepage.


"On the masthead of the homepage, the Fox News Latino section is nowhere to be found. But if you go to Fox News Latino’s URL, it redirects you a section of the site that does have Fox News Latino on the masthead."

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New Owner Plans First D.C. Area Latino E-Daily

The new owner of El Tiempo Latino, a 50,000-circulation Spanish-language weekly bought in 2004 by the Washington Post to compete for the Washington area's Spanish-language readers, says he plans to emphasize the digital side of the operation.


"We will launch mobile applications, and the first DC Area latino e-daily," Javier J. Marin, publisher of El Planeta Media, a multimedia Spanish-language news and entertainment outlet, told Portada on Tuesday.

The Post would not discuss its reasons for selling the newspaper, but Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder who bought the Post for $250 million in 2013, has emphasized making the Post into a global brand. El Tiempo Latino was acquired when several newspapers were adding Spanish-language product as they took note of the growing Hispanic populations in their circulation areas.


Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti Kelly pointed to a statement Monday by Frederick J. Ryan Jr., publisher and CEO of the Post, that "we have taken care to find a buyer who would be committed to the publication and its employees, and could devote the time and resources that would enable it to grow.”

Marin, whose El Planeta Media includes the largest-circulating Spanish-language newspaper in Massachusetts, told Journal-isms by telephone that he would create an editorial board of five community leaders and had named Rafael Ulloa, executive editor of the Boston publication, as editor of the D.C. product. For the time being, its offices will remain in the Post building.


In Boston, Marin said, El Planeta is read not only by Spanish speakers, but also distributed in schools to English-speaking students who are learning Spanish as a second language.

U.S.-Bound Journalists Face Prolonged Border Stops

"French-American photojournalist Kim Badawi did not go home to Texas for Thanksgiving this year," Alexandra Ellerbeck reported Friday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "He didn't want to risk a repeat of November last year, when he says U.S. border security detained him at Miami airport and interrogated him in minute detail about his private life, political views, and journalistic sources.


"Badawi, who had traveled to Miami from Rio in Brazil, where he is based, said he watched as border agents pored over his private photos and WhatsApp messages, and asked detailed questions about his travel. He said he objected when an agent read WhatsApp messages sent to him by a source, a Syrian refugee living in Brazil. Badawi, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and Le Monde, says he told the officers they should call his editors, but that his request was ignored. . . ."

Ellerbeck also wrote, "Journalists traveling to the U.S. can face prolonged stops as well as searches that can risk the confidentiality of their sources. The ACOS Alliance, a coalition of news organizations, journalists, and press freedom groups that includes CPJ, are aware of at least seven instances in which journalists say U.S. border and customs agents stopped them for a prolonged period and asked to search their electronic devices.


"CPJ's Emergencies Response Team released an advisory today with information for journalists planning to cross the border, including what to expect and how to secure their electronic devices. . . ."

Short Takes

Melissa Harris-Perry "is leveraging her roles as founding director of Wake Forest University’s Anna Julia Cooper Center and editor-at-large of to lead a mentorship program for five female Wake Forest undergraduate students focused on creating content on issues that affect women and girls of color," Samantha Cooney reported Thursday for Time. "Harris-Perry said that she was interested in launching the program to foster future talent to make a dent in the media industry’s well-documented diversity problem. . . ."

Kenneth Walker (Credit: George Tolbert IV)

Veteran journalist Kenneth Walker, formerly of the Washington Star, ABC News and NPR, most recently living and reporting in South Africa, is seeking a kidney donation. "I have tried to live my life, including my career in journalism, by working against injustice and inequality," he wrote to friends and colleagues on Friday. "I don’t believe God is finished with me yet. . . ." He messaged Journal-isms, "5 years ago I was misdiagnosed with a condition requiring intravenous injection of something called immunoglobulins. that crashed my kidneys and sent me to ICU dialysis for 2 weeks.. My kidneys gradually recovered until this year when they gave out." Walker's full message is in the Comments section.


In North Dakota, "Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said the tribe was working Thursday to help people leave the Oceti Sakowin camp, where thousands have been staying to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline," Lauren Donovan reported Friday for the Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune. She also wrote, "Archambault put out the call Monday, but blizzard-like conditions into Wednesday have made it difficult for people to go anywhere. . . ."

"Journalist members of the National Press Club elected Jeff Ballou as their 110th president on Friday, Dec. 9," the club announced on Friday. "Ballou, a news editor at Al Jazeera Media Network and the Club's current vice-president will be the first African-American male to be president in the Club's 108-year history. Ballou will take office on Jan. 13, 2017 and will be inaugurated at the 'Club of Champions' inaugural gala on Jan. 14, 2017. . . ."

Nancy Youssef

"[BuzzFeed] News is adding Anthony Cormier to its Investigative Unit and Nancy Youssef to its World team, the company was set to announce on Friday," Peter Sterne reported Friday for Politico. " . . . [BuzzFeed’s] World team — which includes 18 reporters and editors stationed across the U.S. and in five foreign bureaus — is staffing up to cover national security issues. The team is hiring Nancy Youssef, who was most recently The Daily Beast’s senior national security correspondent, to cover the Pentagon. . . ."


In Milwaukee, "WISN-TV (Channel 12) has named Ben Hart news director," Chris Foran reported Thursday for the Journal Sentinel. "Hart is replacing Chris Gegg, who WISN said announced he was leaving the station earlier this month. Hart, the news director at WAPT-TV in Jackson, Miss., will start his new job in early January, WISN said. . . ."

"Howard University and Morgan State University are partnering to help high school students bring the power of multimedia journalism to bear on persistent health disparity issues in underserved communities in Washington and Baltimore," Howard announced on Friday. "The project is funded by a $300,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan. The Urban Health Media Project is the brainchild of Reed V. Tuckson, M.D., a member of the Board of Trustees at Howard University, and Jayne O’Donnell, the healthcare policy reporter at USA Today who will serve as program director. The principal investigator on the grant is fellow health journalist Yanick Rice Lamb, chair of the Department of Media, Journalism and Film in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications at Howard. Her counterpart at Morgan State is Jacqueline Jones, chair of the Department of Multimedia Journalism in the School of Global Journalism. . . . "


In Atlanta, "CBS46 TV (WGCL) announced on Thursday, Dec. 8 that veteran news anchor Amanda Davis will be joining the station as morning anchor for the CBS46 Morning News (weekdays 4:30 to 7am)," Yvette Caslin reported Thursday for Caslin also wrote, "She initially made the decision to join the CBS team in June 2015, and was pulled over for a DUI the weekend before she began her new position. She then decided to enter rehab. This past May, she addressed her battle with alcoholism for the first time in an on-air special, where she admitted: 'I’m Amanda Davis. I’m an alcoholic.' . . ."

The future of the black press is the subject of "The Janus Adams Show" airing Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on WJFF 90.5 FM in Jeffersonville, N.Y., and livestreamed at Participating are James E. Causey, columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Elliott Francis, anchor at Westwood One; Vickie Newton, television news anchor and publisher of, an online news magazine; Pamela Newkirk, professor of journalism at New York University and author of "Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media"; Richard Prince of Journal-isms; Amanda Porter, a senior communications major at the University of Wisconsin and Matt Mixon, co-producer of “The Janus Adams Show” and veteran media executive. To be archived on Soundcloud.


"Inspired by her recent participation in the Standing Rock #NoDAPL grass-roots movement, journalist Wendy Carrillo is jumping into politics," Veronica Villafañe reported Friday for her Media Moves site. "This week, via a lengthy post on Medium, she announced she is running for Congress to occupy the open 34th Congressional District seat that is being vacated by Los Angeles politician Xavier Becerra, who has been tapped to become the next State Attorney General of California. . . . After getting her Masters Degree in Specialized Journalism from USC, Carrillo worked as a political reporter and correspondent for various news outlets and organizations. . . ."

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