Investigative Chicago Reader to Become Black-Owned

  • Head of Black-Press Group Heads Ownership Team
  • A Boon for Diversity Among Film Critics
  • Festivals Allot Press Passes for ‘Underrepresented’
  • Only Half of Republicans View Diversity as a Positive
  • Trump Aide Urges Suspending Acosta’s Credentials
  • Press Looks Inside U.S. ‘Shelter’ for Immigrant Boys
  • Back-Up Data Essential in Pitching Racial Stories
  • Sinclair Selling Williams 3 Stations at Deep Discount
  • High Court Decision on Voting Considered Harmful
  • South Asians Have ‘Always Belonged’ in the U.S.
  • Media View Players’ Protest Through Wrong Lens
  • Short Takes
The Reader’s June 7 edition

Head of Black-Press Group Heads Ownership Team

In an unusual marriage of the black press and the alternative press, the Chicago Sun-Times announced Friday that it is selling the Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly that covers the arts, culture and politics, to a group led by black-press leader Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the Chicago Crusader.

Dorothy R. Leavell
Photo: Victor Powell

Leavell is president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade group for black-newspaper publishers.


The Sun-Times will keep a 15 percent stake in the Reader, which it bought in 2012,” the Sun-Times reported in an early version of its story. “The sale price wasn’t disclosed.

“The Reader is a beloved Chicago institution with an important history of investigative journalism and cultural reporting. Our goal as new ownership is to preserve and strengthen this brand and to make the paper accessible to all Chicago communities,” Leavell said of the sale, the Reader reported.


Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath announced the sale Friday afternoon at the Rainbow PUSH Convention in Chicago. The Sun-Times has owned the Reader since 2012.

“ ‘I’m here to say that the future of the Reader is in African-American ownership,’ he said at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. ‘You’re about to have a major publication in Chicago that is African-American owned.’


“Leavell told the crowd: ‘I am so honored to have had an opportunity to stand here to say to you that not only am I the publisher of the Chicago Crusader and the Gary Crusader but now the Chicago Reader.’

“She vowed to continue the Reader’s tradition of investigative reporting and cultural coverage and to expand it throughout the city.


“The announcement got a standing ovation at the convention. . . .”

When Carlton Hargro was named editor of Atlanta’s Creative Loafing in 2017 he became likely the only African American top editor of what are known as alternative newsweeklies and websites and whose staffs are predominantly white, just as the black press staffs are predominantly black.


The two groups have different cultures. Some relate to the importance given the Internet versus weekly print editions. While Friday’s announcement appeared on the websites of the Sun-Times and the Reader, it was not on the Crusader’s, for example.

Jason Zaragoza, executive director of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, told Journal-isms when Hargo was named that he could think of only two other African Americans who had ever been top editors: W. Kim Heron, editor of Metro Times in Detroit from 2006 to 2012 and previously managing editor of the paper, and Adamma Ince, editor of Philadelphia Weekly from 2008 to 2012.


A Boon for Diversity Among Film Critics


Brie Larson, who won the Oscar for “best actress” in 2015 for “Room,” announced Wednesday, “I do not need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about A Wrinkle in Time. It wasn’t made for him….I want to know what my work means to the world, not a narrow view.” The film’s director, Ava DuVernay, tweeted in response, “@BrieLarson is a warrior. Much respect.” (video)

Festivals Allot Press Passes for ‘Underrepresented’

The Sundance and Toronto film festivals will both allocate 20 percent of press credentials to underrepresented journalists going forward, Brie Larson announced on Wednesday night at the Women in Film Los Angeles Crystal + Lucy Awards,” Antonia Blyth reported Wednesday for Deadline Hollywood.


“Collecting the Crystal Award for Excellence in Film, Larson said that Sundance would ensure ‘at least 20 percent of their top level press passes will go to underrepresented critics.’ She added that TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival] would do the same. . . . “

Eric Kohn wrote Thursday for IndieWire, “[T]he news caught many in the film community off guard, but it shouldn’t have. The announcement came just days after a report by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative revealed that women wrote only 22.2 percent of 19,559 reviews of the 100 top-grossing films posted to Rotten Tomatoes. . . .”


“Most strikingly,” that report said, “women of color were completely absent as top critics from 45 of the 100 films analyzed, 19 or 52.8 percent of the female-driven films assessed, and 9 or 37.5 percent of the movies with underrepresented lead characters.”

Brie Larson
Photo: Dick Thomas Johnson

“This report reveals the absence of women of color working as reviewers — especially on movies built around female and underrepresented leads,” said Associate Professor of Communication Stacy L. Smith, who produced the report with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which she founded.

“We have seen the ramifications of an industry in which the content sold to audiences is created and reviewed by individuals who are primarily white men. Creating inclusive hiring practices at every stage of the filmmaking and review process is essential to meeting business imperatives and ensuring that we see diverse perspectives reflected in society.”


Andréa Grau, vice president of public relations for the Toronto film festival, told Kohn, “We’ve been working on the idea of diversifying our media for a while now. “Our city is really multicultural, so it’s important to have the people who cover the films be that way, too.”

Kohn continued, “Grau said the festival was unaware that Sundance had agreed to an identical initiative when TIFF gave approval for Larson to mention the plans in her speech. ‘I’m really happy to hear they’re doing the same thing,’ Grau said. ‘[This is] a really important time not be competitors, to join hands. It’s important for us to increase our media core, but it’s also important for press outlets to hire more underrepresented journalists and for marketing teams to hire them. We’re one part of a larger equation and happy to do our part to move the dial.’

Stacy L. Smith

“Sundance’s assistant director of media relations, Spencer Alcorn, told IndieWire by email that ‘this is a key part of a larger plan to ensure that the work we showcase will be discussed by a wide and inclusive range of voices and critical perspectives.’ . . .”


Blyth reported that Larson told the Los Angeles crowd Wednesday, “Am I saying that I hate white dudes? No I’m not,” to laughter from the audience. “But what I am saying is if you make a movie that is a love letter to a woman of color, there is an insanely low chance that a woman of color will have a chance to see your movie and review your movie.

“These policies at Sundance and TIFF will go some way to changing this. ‘We need to be conscious of our bias and do our part to make sure that everyone is in the room.”


Blyth continued, “ ‘It really sucks that reviews matter, but reviews matter,’ she said. ‘We are expanding to make films that reflect the people who buy movie tickets….I do not need a 40 year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about A Wrinkle in Time. It wasn’t made for him….I want to know what my work means to the world, not a narrow view.’ . . .”


Only Half of Republicans View Diversity as a Positive

A majority of Americans continue to say the United States is a better place to live as a result of its growing racial and ethnic diversity,” Hannah Fingerhut reported Thursday for the Pew Research Center.


“About six-in-ten U.S. adults (58%) say that having an increasing number of people of different races, ethnic groups and nationalities in the U.S. makes the country a better place to live; just 9% say it makes the country a worse place to live, while about three-in-ten (31%) say it doesn’t make much difference either way, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April and May. These attitudes are only modestly changed from last year.

“There remain wide differences in these views by party and ideology. Seven-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say growing diversity in the U.S. makes it a better place to live, including 78% of Democrats who describe themselves as liberal. A smaller majority of conservative and moderate Democrats (66%) say the same.


“By comparison, about half of Republicans and Republican leaners (47%) see a positive impact of growing diversity in the U.S.; 37% say it doesn’t make much difference, and another 14% say it makes the country a worse place to live.

“While positive views among Republicans vary little by ideology, negative views are somewhat more widespread among conservative Republicans than moderate and liberal Republicans. About one-in-six conservative Republicans (17%) say growing racial and ethnic diversity makes the country worse, while just 7% of moderate and liberal Republicans agree. . . .”


Trump Aide Urges Suspending Acosta’s Credentials

CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta hit back at President Trump’s 2020 campaign manager’s call for his press credentials to be revoked, saying the practice happens in ‘dictatorships … not democracies ‘, Jacqueline Thomsen reported Tuesday for the Hill.


“ ‘Dear Brad... dictatorships take away press credentials. Not democracies,’ Acosta tweeted at Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale on Tuesday.

“Parscale had tweeted earlier Tuesday that Acosta should ‘immediately have his press credentials suspended’ for asking questions during a signing ceremony between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.


“The campaign manager was responding to a report in the conservative Daily Wire, which stated that Acosta shouted questions during the signing ceremony. . . .”

In Columbia Journalism Review on Thursday, Pete Vernon wrote, “After cozying up to a dictator who has terrorized his own people and threatened the United States with nuclear holocaust, Donald Trump had some thoughts about who he sees as America’s true enemies. ‘So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN,’ the president tweeted, claiming that the networks were downplaying his meeting with Kim Jong Un. ‘Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!’


“This line of attack isn’t new, and it’s easy to become desensitized to the slander after 17 months of Trump in office. But that doesn’t make the president’s rhetoric any less outrageous.

“Trump’s spurious claims cast the media as out to get him, an argument that provides an outlet for anger among his supporters and undermines real reporting that is critical of his actions.


“The specter of the Mueller investigation, and whatever conclusions it comes to concerning his circle’s misdeeds, is never far from the surface of these attacks.

“Trump’s tweets about the press aren’t policy and they’re not directly tied to any particular action, but they do matter. When the leader of the most powerful country in the world — one that has long been a champion of the free press — describes the media as the ‘enemy,’ it opens the door for autocrats and even democratically elected leaders in other countries to do the same.


“At home, these sort of tweets contribute to the erosion of trust in serious reporting and soften the ground for what is expected to be an all-out battle to rebut any damaging conclusions drawn by Mueller’s eventual report. . . .”


Casa Padre is an immigrant shelter for unaccompanied minors in Brownsville, Texas. Here’s what it looks like inside. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Press Looks Inside U.S. ‘Shelter’ for Immigrant Boys

For more than a year, the old Walmart along the Mexican border here has been a mystery to those driving by on the highway,” Michael E. Miller, Emma Brown and Aaron C. Davis reported Thursday from Brownsville, Texas, for the Washington Post. “In place of the supercenter’s trademark logo hangs a curious sign: ‘Casa Padre.’


“But behind the sliding doors is a bustling city unto itself, equipped with classrooms, recreation centers and medical examination rooms. Casa Padre now houses more than 1,400 immigrant boys in federal custody. While most are teenagers who entered the United States alone, dozens of others — often younger — were forcibly separated from their parents at the border by a new Trump administration ‘zero tolerance’ policy.

“On Wednesday evening, for the first time since that policy was announced — and amid increased national interest after a U.S. senator was turned away — federal authorities allowed a small group of reporters to tour the secretive shelter, the largest of its kind in the nation. . . .


“The policy of criminally prosecuting all who cross the border illegally is creating a new category of residents at these holding centers, young boys and girls who are grappling with the trauma of being unexpectedly separated from their mothers and fathers.” To accommodate them, said Juan Sanchez, chief executive of Southwest Key Programs, the nonprofit group that runs Casa Padre under a federal contract, “Southwest Key is retrofitting some facilities with smaller bathrooms, smaller sinks, smaller everything. . . .”

The reporters also wrote, “The organization now houses 5,129 immigrant children in three states — approaching half the approximately 11,400 currently in federal custody — in facilities that are being strained to capacity, according to Sanchez. . . .”


Rachel Dicker, Mediaite: WH Briefing Explodes as CNN’s Brian Karem and Sarah Sanders Battle Over Child Migrants: ‘Don’t You Have Any Empathy?!’

Editorial, Des Moines Register: It’s un-American to rip apart immigrant families. Why aren’t Grassley, Ernst speaking out?


Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times: ‘Prison-like’ migrant youth shelter is understaffed, unequipped for Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, insider says

Anna Flagg, New York Times: The Myth of the Criminal Immigrant (March 30)

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Mexican-Americans search for their ‘homelands’ and find themselves


Back-Up Data Essential in Pitching Racial Stories

By Nallah Brown

Pitching stories about race and inequality require special attention to back-up data to avoid having them dismissed by editors, panelists said Thursday at the opening diversity session at the annual Investigative Reporters & Editors conference in Orlando.


Panelists Emmanuel Martinez of Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and Nicole Dungca and Meghan Irons of the Boston Globe opened a track of nine workshops focusing on diversity. They include “Covering immigrant communities,” “Investigating bias: From courts to the classroom” and “Finding stories in hidden communities.”

Bill Whitaker, correspondent for CBS-TV’s “60 MInutes,” is scheduled to be a keynote speaker on Saturday. More than 1,700 people are in attendance, according to IRE. The conference ends Sunday.


On the Thursday panel, “Investigating Inequality,” Dungca said, “When these disparities that affect entire racial groups exist, that is a story, and you need to back it up with data. When you can quantify the extent of racist acts, it brings true power and proof to the story.”

Martinez added, “I feel like you have to do a lot of reporting beforehand, and construct that argument” before the story pitch. Dungca said it was important to already have an advocate in the newsroom to support your pitch.


Investigative stories on inequality confirm many people of color’s reality of racism, they said. Such stories shed light on the systems that perpetuate the racism and have the ability to effect change in communities and in the political system.

Nallah Brown is a rising senior studying broadcast journalism at Florida A&M University and a recipient of a 2018 IRE Ida B. Wells Fellowship.


Sinclair Selling Williams 3 Stations at Deep Discount

Armstrong Williams

Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams, the longtime confidant of Trump Cabinet member Ben Carson, is set to get what he called ‘a good deal’ — three local television stations from Sinclair Broadcasting Group for just a fraction of the market price,” Jason Schwartz reported Wednesday for Politico.

“Williams is acquiring the three stations — in Seattle, Salt Lake City and Oklahoma City — for $4.95 million. That’s some $45 million to $55 million less than what Justin Nielson, a senior research analyst who tracks the broadcast sector for the data and research firm Kagan, said he would have expected.


“And while Sinclair is shedding stations in hopes of improving its chances of obtaining approval for its mega-purchase of Tribune Media, the company’s recent moves to offer favorable deals to friendly buyers is raising further questions about how much control Sinclair is truly planning to cede, and whether the company is trying to skirt federal rules.

“ ‘I know I got a good deal,’ said Williams, who is a longtime friend of Sinclair Executive Chairman David Smith. ‘That’s what happens when you’ve had a partnership and a relationship for 25 years. Sometimes you get a break; sometimes you get prices that nobody else can get. That’s the way business works.’


“He added, ‘I’m a tremendous negotiator. I’m like Donald Trump; I know how to negotiate.’ . . .”

In 2013, Smith told Journal-isms that he and Williams had long worked together and that Sinclair was looking to expand its relationship with him. “I’ve always admired his ability to stick his neck out there and call people . . . for what they’re doing. We’re big believers in advocacy journalism, and he fits that mode. He was the first one I called” when an ownership possibility arose, Smith said.


Some have questioned the independence of stations Williams has purchased from Sinclair, as the larger company continues to provide some services in a “sidecar” arrangement, but Williams says he produces original programming.

High Court Decision on Voting Considered Harmful

A Supreme Court decision Monday that upheld an Ohio law that allowed the state to remove from the voting rolls citizens who had not voted nor responded to a postal notice is being denounced by opinion writers as harmful to people of color.


Cleveland’s Plain Dealer editorialized on Wednesday, “In 1993, a federal law — precipitated by states’ ‘discriminatory and unfair registration laws and procedures’ — forbade Ohio and other states from purging registered voters simply because they failed to vote.

“But a separate section of that law — aimed at keeping voter rolls accurate — outlined how states could use a voter’s failure to vote in two federal elections (generally four years) as the last part of a test kicked off, first, by information from the U.S. Postal Service that a registered voter appeared to have moved, and then by a subsequent failure by the voter to respond to a forwardable mailed notice allowing the voter to verify or correct address information.


“In 2002, Congress, in the Help America Vote Act, failed rather badly in trying to clarify that last section by saying ‘nothing in this paragraph may be construed to prohibit a State’ from booting voters using the 1993 process, including its failure-to-vote test.

“Ohio has misinterpreted this in a pernicious and damaging way in recent years to wrongly knock tens and maybe hundreds of thousands of people off the voting rolls. Ohio did this by substituting a two-year failure-to-vote test for the postal service notice to precipitate the next two-step process for removal from the rolls.


“Unfortunately, in a narrow 5-4 ruling Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court has chosen to ignore that little bit of legerdemain to decide the Ohio method is lawful.

“The majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy (swing vote in the gay-marriage ruling), Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, didn’t even address the 1993 law’s clearly stated aim to end discriminatory state voter registration procedures that ‘disproportionately harm voter participation ..., including racial minorities.’


“Shockingly, Alito’s opinion even denigrated fellow Justice Sonia Sotomayor for raising that argument in a brief separate dissent, which cited numerous amicus briefs in the case that illustrated how Ohio’s purges and their methods have, as she wrote, ‘disproportionately affected minority, low-income, disabled, and veteran voters.’ . . .”


South Asians Have ‘Always Belonged’ in the U.S.

Tanzila Ahmed

Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed, an activist, storyteller and politico based in Los Angeles, has her roots in Bangladesh, but writes in a piece for that South Asians don’t fit into the American conception of “Asian American” and that their history in the United States isn’t well-known, even to Asian Americans. So Ahmed set out to find that history, and educates her readers in the process.

I learn later, much later, South Asians did indeed come to America early,” Ahmed wrote on June 5. “I had always been told that South [Asians] were new immigrants, coming after 1965’s Immigration and Nationality Act, imported for our brains as doctors and engineers. It’s not until I’m an adult, and searching through archives that I find a 17th century ‘wanted’ newspaper ad in Richmond County looking for a runaway ‘East India Indian’ man. I know that slaves came from Africa, but I didn’t know that slaves came from South Asia, too.


“The image states it was looking for Thomas Greenwich, a ‘well made fellow, about 5 feet 4 inches high, wears his own hair, which is long and black, has a thin visage, a very sly look and a remarkable set of fine white teeth.’ I learn later, much later, that many East India Indians came over as indentured servants to the American colonies, ‘blending’ into the free African American population when they won petition of their freedom . . . I find myself viscerally reacting to American History slave narrative after finding this out — I am sad that this is forgotten as a part of our Asian American history. I wonder about all the anti-blackness and how much that would change if they all only knew. I wonder how this feeds divisiveness into the model minority myth. . . .”

Ahmed continues the history, and concludes, “Every step of the way I keep finding more and more like-minded people, more and more South Asian American activists, so that when people try to dismiss me by calling me an anomaly, I have receipts to show that this is actually our American activism legacy. We exist. We have always existed.


“I am an Asian American, I am a South Asian American, I am a South Asian American Activist. We are not the perpetual other, and we’ve always belonged.”

Media View Players’ Protest Through Wrong Lens

Howard Bryant

The news media are viewing the social justice protests by black athletes through their own filters and not those of the players, frustrating the athletes, according to Howard Bryant, senior writer for and ESPN The Magazine, who is promoting his new “The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism.”

Bryant said on NPR’s “Fresh Air” on Wednesday, “The way that you view sports — and it has been this way for years — is white owners, white coaches, white season-ticket owners, white media, black player. That is the filter. This is how sports is run. There is one owner in professional sports who is African-American.


“And it’s Michael Jordan with the Charlotte Hornets. And he’s the only black owner, and that’s a sport with an 80 percent black workforce. The NFL is a 70 percent black workforce. And yet these players are being muscled into not having political opinions.

“When you look at media, media has focused not on the filter of the black athlete in terms of their protest but through their own filter, which is through police and through the flag.


“So the player isn’t even able — the player spends so much time being frustrated that this is not what their protest is about. They can’t even explain themselves in a way. And that’s because the predominantly white media does not want to relinquish control of this narrative. If they actually listened — if it actually listened to the player, we’d be having a very different conversation about these protests. And so to say that there’s progress is to suggest that some of these — or any of these components are changing. And actually, they’re not. . . .”

Host Dave Davies asked later in the discussion, “So what would that conversation be if they listened?”


Bryant replied, “I think if the media and the public actually listened, the conversation would be very different. It would be a conversation — instead of talking about the flag, you’d be talking to Tamir Rice’s mother. You would be talking to Eric Garner’s family. You would be talking to Philando Castile’s family and talking about their experience and why their experience with police is as confrontational as it’s been. . . .” All are victims of police-involved shootings.

Short Takes


New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet (eft) and Yamiche Alcindor, shown in clip, then at the Times, were among those discussing the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in the Showtime series “The Fourth Estate.” See fifth item. 

Sylvester Monroe
Photo: George Tolbert IV
  • Veteran journalist Sylvester Monroe will receive the honorary title of senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, Anna Blue wrote Monday for the center. Monroe left his position as assistant foreign editor at the Washington Post in December to take a senior newsroom position at the Los Angeles Times, only to face turmoil as the ownership and newsroom management changed. Monroe was laid off in April after the newspaper shut down the content division, where he worked.
  • The Associated Press is moving its East Regional desk, responsible for 10 Northeastern states, from Philadelphia to AP’s headquarters in New York, Executive Editor Sally Buzbee told employees on Tuesday. Of the eight non-management editors in Philadelphia, four are people of color: Sharyn Flanagan, Dino Hazell, Rod Hicks and Janet McMillan. It is not certain whether the editors will want to move to New York.
  • Median wages in 2017 were about $49,000 for newspaper editors and about $34,000 for newspaper reporters,” Sara Guaglione wrote Thursday for MediaPost, reporting on a Pew Research Center analysis of industry data. In addition, “Total estimated advertising revenue for the newspaper industry in 2017 was $16.5 billion, a 10% decrease from 2016,” “Monthly unique visitors (across all devices) to the top 50 U.S. daily newspapers remained flat at 11.5 million monthly unique visitors, per circulation data from comScore,” and “Alt-weekly newspapers have had a tough time keeping up with the changes in the industry.”
  • Rob Rogers said he felt editorial management was trying to turn him into a cartoonist he doesn’t want to be before he was fired today after 25 years with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,” Colin Deppen reported Thursday for Pittsburgh’s the Incline. The paper’s editorial director, Keith Burris, “began overseeing the Post-Gazette’s editorial pages in March after the paper’s owner, Block Communications, combined them with the editorial pages of its other newspaper, The Blade of Toledo, Ohio,” Joyce Gannon reported Thursday for the Post-Gazette. “. . . He acknowledged that he is ‘more conservative’ than past editorial page editors and that even prior to Mr. Trump’s election in 2016, the owners of the newspaper had been trying ‘to right the ship’ to reflect less liberal views. . . .” The paper had spiked six of Rogers’ cartoons.
  • The fourth and final episode of the Showtime documentary series “The Fourth Estate,” the well-received fly-on-the-wall look at how the New York Times has covered the Trump presidency, airs this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Episode Three covered the Charlottesville, Va., white supremacist rally. Washington reporter Yamiche Alcindor, who has since moved on to become a PBS White House correspondent, says in the episode, “To me, journalism is all about civil rights. When someone asks me,’why did you become a journalist?’ I talk about Emmett Till, and the fact that this 14-year-old boy was killed, and when Jet magazine put his picture in the paper, that changed an entire civil rights movement. Donald Trump thinks that there are some nice neo-Nazis out there. That to me is really, really scary. The president has real issues with race and as one of the only African American reporters at the New York Times, I feel an extra need to . . . explain to people what’s happening.” The full four-episode series is available across Showtime platforms, including On Demand and streaming.
  • Latina Media’s woes keep growing,” Keith J. Kelly reported Tuesday for the New York Post. “It has apparently lost its last remaining co-president, Asten Morgan, and is facing a lawsuit from its top sales rep over unpaid wages, while its website has been dark for over two months. Surprisingly, Solera Capital, the venture firm that owns Latina, has begun issuing checks to unpaid freelancers in recent weeks after facing pressure from the National Writers Union. . . .”
Hugo Balta
  • Hugo Balta, senior director of multicultural initiatives at ESPN, will take on a temporary assignment nurturing relationships between ESPN, ABC News and journalism organizations that champion diversity and inclusion in newsrooms, ABC spokeswoman Julie Townsend confirmed Thursday. “He’s filling in for someone on well-deserved maternity leave,” she told Journal-isms by email. From New York, “I will be working with the team on a few projects including the network’s participation with the national conferences of NAHJ, NABJ, AAJA,” Balta messaged Journal-isms, referring to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists and Asian American Journalists Association. “I’m also working with ABC News Fellowship program, vetting candidates for 2018-19 program.”
  • “Facing at least three lawsuits demanding more data on the death toll” from Hurricane Maria, “Puerto Rico’s government released new information on Tuesday that added detail to the growing consensus that hundreds or even thousands of people died as an indirect result of the storm,” Danica Coto reported for the Associated Press. “According to the new data, there were 1,427 more deaths from September to December 2017 than the average for the same time period over the previous four years. . . . But the statistics don’t indicate whether the storm and its aftermath contributed to the additional deaths. . . .”
  • “The Toolkit for Journalists of Color is a deck of cards developed by two John S. Knight Journalism Fellows, Dr. Seema Yasmin and Michael Grant,” Yasmin wrote June 5 for, republished Tuesday by the Poynter Institute. “We’ve made the Toolkit with your help, because you shared your experiences of racism, sexism and xenophobia in the newsroom. . . . From quickfire, in-the-moment responses for everyday racist microaggressions, to deliberative exercises that help you build community and recruit allies in the newsroom, the Toolkit for Journalists of Color is designed to help us survive in predominantly white newsrooms. . . .”
  • Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley wrote a tribute Thursday to the late Robert McGruder, the Free Press top editor who hired her and who is receiving the Legacy Award from the National Association of Black Journalists on Aug. 4. “We need a society that embraces various cultures with relish rather than disdain,” Riley wrote. “We need a society that doesn’t try to push people to adapt to a historical narrative but reflects the varied narratives that make up the story of America. When we do that and respect the diversity that exists, then we honor people like Bob, keep his legacy. He was the messenger and the message. And so am I.”
  • Gene Policinski, president of the Freedom Forum Institute and its First Amendment Center, received the Distinguished Service Award from the D.C. Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at a dinner at the National Press Club on Tuesday. In addition, longtime Associated Press editor Sonya Ross, WRC-TV reporter Tom Sherwood and former NPR correspondent Robert Siegel were inducted into the chapter’s Hall of Fame. “The criterion for membership in the Hall of Fame: strong journalism over at least 25 years in Washington,Bill McCloskey reported for the press club.
  • Wynona Redmond, president and founder of Wyn-Win Communications in Chicago, has been named winner of the 2018 Patricia L. Tobin Media Professional Award, the National Association of Black Journalists announced Tuesday. The award “honors a public relations, advertising, marketing professional, or media owner who serves as an industry trailblazer in affecting the positive representation of African Americans in the media and directing change in the media industry at large.”
  • The Baltimore Sun Wednesday endorsed Benjamin Jealous, former president of the NAACP and onetime leader of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, for the Democratic nomination for governor of Maryland.
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday it “will honor journalists from Sudan, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Vietnam with its 2018 International Press Freedom Awards. The journalists have faced legal action, physical attacks, threats, and arrests in retaliation for their work. CPJ is also honoring Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, founder and chief executive officer of the news website Rappler, with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. . . .”
  • Reporters Without Borders Thursday joined its partner organization, Journalist in Danger, “in calling for the reopening of four opposition radio and TV stations in Katanga province, in the southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, that have been closed for years. They should have reopened in January 2017 under the so-called ‘New Year’s Eve Accord’ between the government and opposition in December 2016 for holding a presidential election now scheduled for 23 December 2018. . . .
  • Reporters Without Borders said Thursday it was “appalled by leading Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari’s murder on 14 June in Srinagar, in northern India’s troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir, and urges the authorities to do everything possible to find his killers. The editor of the well-known daily Rising Kashmir and one the region’s most renowned journalists, Shujaat Bukhari was shot several times by unidentified gunmen as he was about to get into his car outside his office. The two police bodyguards escorting him were also hit by the shots and one died of his injuries. . . .” CNN’s Mukhtar Ahmad and Swati Gupta added, “Bukhari’s killing sparked an outpouring of grief from prominent politicians and journalists alike — in India, Pakistan and in his home of Kashmir, the Muslim majority region divided between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. . . .”

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