Relying on public relations photos for your cover shots can be messy, as Jet magazine is finding out.
Jet editor-in-chief Mitzi Miller on Friday issued a defense of the magazine's use of a 10-year-old photo of cover subject Fantasia.
"JET magazine is honored to have Fantasia grace the cover of its March issue," her statement began. "It is unfortunate that Fantasia is displeased with the cover selection, however JET stands by its decision," Miller wrote.
"As standard editorial practice, JET consulted with Fantasia's team, but reserves the right to select the image we deem as most appropriate for JET's brand and reflective of the cover story sentiment.
"JET continues to root for Fantasia's success and encourages her fans to pick up the new issue."
Clutch magazine wrote on Wednesday, "Fantasia has been the subject of harsh criticism in the public eye for everything from admitting her illiteracy to being involved with a married man who eventually betrayed her. When news hit that she had attempted suicide, many of us wondered if she'd ever be able to find peace. She also recently posted about gay marriage in a rant about being judged, that many took issue with.
"The American Idol winner recently sat down with Jet Magazine for an interview in which she muses about self-love and raising her children, and appears to be in a better place . . . ."
However, Clutch added, ". . . The singer erupted on Instagram, chastising the magazine for using an old photograph of her:
" 'This saddens Me!!! It is clear that this picture is 10 Years Old and JET Magazine puts it on the Cover!! After I send them the NEW LOOK AND DIRECTION. . SAD!!! I WANT A PUBLIC APOLOGY FROM JET. Now im not sure if the interview is correct. SEE!! America they and use me as they crash Dummy BUT NO MORE. IF I DONT STAND FOR SOMETHING ILL FALL FOR ANYTHING.' "
While its full-size Ebony sibling shoots its own covers and was the only major black magazine to post an increase in advertising pages during 2012, Jet has lagged. Its frequency has been reduced from weekly to every two weeks, and although it now has editors from the hip-hop generation and has been redesigned, it saw a 16.1 percent drop in advertising pages last year. Ebony's rose 22.9 percent.
Still, Jet's reputation was partly built on photographs, such as those in 1955 of the mutilated body of the lynched 14-year-old Emmett Till, and years of Jet centerfold beauties.
So why wouldn't Jet want to shoot its own cover subjects?
"Cost cutting is the name of the game or so it seems," Samir Husni of the University of Mississippi, known as "Mr. Magazine," told Journal-isms by email. "Fewer magazines are taking their own photos, so this is more of the norm of small magazines rather than the exception." He added, ". . . times have changed and competition is now tougher even for the African American magazines…"
Miller told her Facebook friends she was exasperated. "The fact that I wasted an hour of my workday writing a press release to address an issue created by a person who cannot even read it is just… #whyiwannaBahousewife."
"The Associated Press did the right thing on Thursday. After a week in which gay reporters, LGBT blogs, gay advocacy organizations, and even AP reporters expressed dismay at a misguided memo that seemed to say the words 'husband' and 'wife' didn’t apply to legally married gay couples, the news organization corrected itself with a beautifully simple addition to its Stylebook," Jennifer Vanasco wrote Friday for Columbia Journalism Review.
"From now on, the Stylebook will say, 'Regardless of sexual orientation, husband or wife is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage. Spouse or partner may be used if requested.' . . . "
While most news organizations follow Associated Press style, not all do. The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times did not respond to an inquiry from Journal-isms about their own style or said they were looking into the issue. Joe Knowles, associate managing editor/editing and presentation at the Chicago Tribune, said by email, "In this case, we would follow AP style."
Nathaniel Frank, Los Angeles Times: The power of the words 'husband' and 'wife'
National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association: AP releases new entry for husband, wife
Jennifer Vanasco, Columbia Journalism Review: Loaded language of gay marriage (Jan. 4)
The author of a book that made it to the Wall Street Journal's best-seller list and then quickly disappeared has described how best-seller lists can be manipulated by campaigns that he called "the unacknowledged pachyderm of the book business."
Such campaigns can especially hold back journalists of color who strive to make such lists.
". . . There’s good reason why most industry insiders would prefer that the wider book-buying public didn’t learn about these campaigns," Soren Kaplan, author of "Leapfrogging," wrote on the book's website.
"Put bluntly, they allow people with enough money, contacts, and know-how to buy their way onto bestseller lists. And they benefit all the key players of the book world. Publishers profit on them. Authors gain credibility from bestseller status, which can launch consulting or speaking careers and give a big boost to keynote presentation fees. And the marketing firms that run the campaigns don't do so bad either. . . ."
Kaplan named one such company, ResultSource, and added, "I learned that this niche marketing firm had apparently cracked the code on how the sales of books are calculated by companies like Nielsen that produce bestseller data — the very data that major trade publications, newspapers, and journals rely on to populate their bestseller lists, just like The Wall Street Journal. I learned that bestselling authors like Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos and author of Delivering Happiness, and Chip and Dan Heath, co-authors of Switch and professors at Stanford University and Duke University, and numerous other bestselling authors had employed its proven methodology.
"I too contracted with ResultSource. . . ."
Angela P. Dodson, a freelance writer, editor and consultant who works with authors and formerly edited Black Issues Book Review, said by email after reading Kaplan's piece, "I have never seen it explained in such detail, but it is the sort of thing that people kind of know about. It's one of the reasons black authors have such difficulty meeting the thresholds for best seller status, especially early on. They usually can't afford this kind of help, and many sources told us over the years that black book consumers tend to buy by word-of-mouth, thus the whole process is delayed.
"By the time black books begin to sell, they have often been remaindered and the publisher has pulled the plug on publicity. It takes time for one person to read it, tell their book club and have the members read it and tell someone else. Books that become 'bestsellers' months after publication don't make the lists usually."
Journalists-turned-authors expressed surprise.
Natalie Hopkinson, whose "Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City" was released last year, said by email, "I had no idea, and Go-Go Live is my second book!
"But I also was the sucker who took the SAT without paying for a prep course as apparently everyone else was doing. I hustled my books the old fashioned way: readings, events, social media, celebrity blurbs, reviews, etc. But think it's sad that this pay-to-play culture is compromising the integrity of newspapers' bestseller lists. The lists are influential because readers assume it is a fair system. This is just another practice that is putting publishing out of reach for writers who lack money and connections."
Leonard Pitts Jr., the syndicated Miami Herald columnist, released the novel "Freeman" last year. "I'd never heard of such a thing," he told Journal-isms by email. Pitts said he was leaving for dinner, "so I haven't time to absorb the whole thing, but I can tell you that my initial response is that it blows my mind."
Just as new media have demonstrated the same problems with racial diversity as the old, "Newer, online-only news sites have fallen into the same rut as legacy media [PDF]," according to a report Friday from the Women's Media Center. "Male bylines outnumbered female bylines at four of six sites reviewed."
Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center, said in a statement, "The report shows that while media is the most powerful economic and cultural force today, it still falls far too short in its representation of women. Who tells the story, what the story is about, and who is quoted in the story are core to the work of The Women's Media Center, and the numbers demonstrate that the glass ceiling extends across all media platforms. We can do better — we must do better. Women represent 51 percent of the U.S. population yet we're still not seeing equal participation. That means we are only using half our talent and usually hearing half of the story."
The report, by Diana Mitsu Klos, included these other findings:
"By a nearly 3 to 1 [ratio], male front-page bylines at top newspapers outnumbered female bylines in coverage of the 2012 presidential election. Men were also far more likely to be quoted than women in newspapers, television and public radio.
"On Sunday TV talk shows, women [made up] only 14 percent of those interviewed and 29 percent of roundtable guests.
"Talk radio and sports talk radio hosts are overwhelmingly male.
"As newspaper employment continues to tumble, so does the number of women in key jobs.
"The percentage of women who are television news directors edged up, reaching 30 percent for the first time. Overall employment of women in TV news remains flat.
"Obituaries about men far outnumber those of women in top national and regional newspapers.
"Women [made up] just 9 percent of the directors of the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2012.
"Women [made up] 39 percent of documentary directors whose work appeared at major festivals in 2011-12.
"Across all behind-the-camera positions, females were most likely to be producers. However, as the prestige of the producing post increased, the percentage of female participation decreased."
President Obama met Thursday with two groups that have complained that they deserve more of his attention: White House reporters and African American leaders.
"President Barack Obama held an off-the-record meeting with top White House reporters on Thursday afternoon, POLITICO has learned," Dylan Byers reported Friday for Politico.
"The meeting, with reporters from major print and television outlets, comes days after the White House Correspondents Association complained publicly about their lack of access to the president during a golf outing in Palm Beach, Fla., and one day after Obama met with local television reporters.
". . . WHCA president and Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the meeting. . . ."
The White House identified participants in the meeting with African Americans as Melanie Campbell, president, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Ralph Everett, president and CEO, Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies; Wade Henderson, president, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Ben Jealous, president, NAACP; Avis Jones-DeWeever, executive director, National Council of Negro Women; Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, executive director and CEO, National Black Justice Coalition; Al Sharpton, founder and president of National Action Network; the Rev. Derrick Harkins, pastor, 19th Street Baptist Church in Washington; and Judith Browne Dianis, co-director, Advancement Project.
Everett said in a statement, "The meeting was a positive, constructive exchange of views. The President fully understands the concerns of the African American community and has set forth a sensible plan to continue America's economic recovery. We look forward to working with him to strengthen the economy for the middle class and continue to build more ladders of opportunity for those trying to get there."
Charles M. Blow, New York Times: A Game of Chicken
Eric Boehlert, Media Matters: The Bush Years And What A "Lapdog" Press Really Looked Like
Joe Davidson, Washington Post: Feds vent about budget cuts on new message board
Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Barack Obama's emphasis on fatherhood shouldn't be taken as woman-blaming
David Cay Johnston, Columbia Journalism Review: People aren't too worried about the sequester. Is the media to blame?
Julianne Malveaux, syndicated: State of the Union on Point
John McWhorter, Daily News, New York: The curse of 'college for all'
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: On use of drones, Obama overreaches
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: No winners in this game
Tom Rosenstiel, Poynter Institute: The dangerous delusions of the White House press corps and the president
"President Obama's push to overhaul immigration laws this year hasn't produced a bill yet, but it already has restored his standing among Hispanics," Susan Page reported Thursday for USA Today.
"In the heady days when he took office in 2009, Obama's approval among Latinos was 78%, according to the Pew Research Center. It had sunk to 48% by the last quarter of 2011, when it became clear he wouldn't deliver on his campaign promise for an immigration bill that would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
"In a new USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll, the president's approval rating among Hispanics has rebounded to 73%. The survey of 1,504 adults was taken Feb. 13-18. (Data on approval was combined with other surveys on a quarterly basis to increase the sample size of Hispanics.). . ."
Meanwhile, Sasha Chavkin wrote Wednesday in Columbia Journalism Review that ". . . little scrutiny has been directed at a multi-billion dollar industry with a lot riding on the future of immigration policy: the private companies that operate federal prisons and detention facilities.
"For-profit prison management has become a booming business in recent years. Much of that growth is driven by the government's ramped-up immigration enforcement, which have boosted demand for privately-run prison facilities to detain suspected illegal immigrants until deportation hearings, and to incarcerate immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. . . ."
Esther J. Cepeda, Washington Post Writers Group: Voices for the voiceless in immigration debate
Sam Fulwood III, Center for American Progress: Overlooked Story of Black Immigrants in the United States Deserves Attention
Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: The guest-worker poison pill
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Rubio vs. an invisible Obama
Albor Ruiz, Daily News, New York: The only 'real' immigration reform must affect all of the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants (Feb. 17)
By race, the highest national poverty rates are for American Indians and Alaska Natives (27.0 percent), and for blacks or African Americans (25.8 percent) [PDF], according to a U.S. Census Bureau report issued this week.
The bureau's American Community Survey, covering 2007 to 2011, found that 42.7 million people, or 14.3 percent of the U.S. population, had income below the poverty level.
Among its findings:
"Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders had a national poverty rate of 17.6 percent.
"For the Asian population, poverty rates were higher for Vietnamese (14.7 percent) and Koreans (15.0 percent), and lower for Filipinos (5.8 percent). Poverty rates for Vietnamese and Koreans were not statistically different from one another.
"Nine states had poverty rates of about 30 percent or more for American Indians and Alaska Natives (Arizona, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah).
"For Asians, nine states had poverty rates of about 10 percent or less (Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Virginia, and South Carolina).
"The 2007–2011 national poverty rate for Whites was 11.6 percent, and most states (43) as well as the District of Columbia had poverty rates lower than 14.0 percent for this group."
Wesley Morris, who won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism last year as a film critic for the Boston Globe, wrote Friday of the Academy Award nominees up for honors Sunday night, ". . . This is the best collection of movies since the field expanded four years ago."
The nominees are "Amour," "Argo," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Les Misérables," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Zero Dark Thirty."
Morris, who now writes for the Grantland web site, continued, "The gamut they run is wide, but their quality is high, too.
"The two best of the nine are Django Unchained and Amour. One is a historical epic that was made by someone who doesn't care for the retrospective neatness of history, but it's shocking how Quentin Tarantino mastered schlock that doesn't tip into abject tastelessness. It's easy to assume that Amour is here because so much of the voting membership is older than 60. But this is the most unflinching movie ever made about accepting the return on several decades of marital investment. . . . "
Amy Alexander community forum: Two Reasons Why Denzel Washington Won't Win Best Actor Oscar….and Thoughts on Why He Should
Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: I finally saw Django Unchained (Jan. 26)
Zaron Burnett III, Word Machine blog: THE "N-WORD," ULTRA-VIOLENCE & FAKE HISTORY: In Defense of Tarantino (Jan. 19)
Nelson George, New York Times: Still Too Good, Too Bad or Invisible (Feb. 15)
Emil Guillermo blog, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Asian Americans have a rooting interest in the Oscar race: Anupam Kher, Dr. Patel in Silver Linings Playbook
Morris W. O'Kelly, Huffington Post: We Owe Spike Lee a Huge Apology (Jan. 22)
Zachary M. Seward and David Yanofsky of the Quartz website wrote Friday that they had obtained the names of 44 of the journalists who sit on the Pulitzer Prize nominating juries, which began deliberating Friday. They include Kevin Merida, managing editor, Washington Post; George Rodrigue, vice president and managing editor, Dallas Morning News; Paul Cheung, global interactive editor, Associated Press and national president, Asian American Journalists Association; Raju Narisetti, deputy managing editor, Wall Street Journal/head of WSJ Digital Network; Peter Bhatia, editor, the Oregonian; Mark E. Russell, editor, Orlando Sentinel; Randy Lovely, senior vice president/news and audience development, Republic Media, Arizona Republic.
Danielle C. Belton, freelance journalist and TV writer, founder of the blog blacksnob.com and editor-at-large of Clutch Magazine Online, has bipolar disorder. So does former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., who pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one felony fraud count in connection with his improper use of $750,000 in campaign money. But, Belton wrote for the Root, ". . . Bipolar and success. Bipolar and failure. They aren't mutually exclusive. One doesn't cause the other; one is simply present no matter what environment surrounds it. . . ."
Jack Marsh, president of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute, confirmed that the Crazy Horse Journalism Workshop, which trains Native American high school journalism students, "won't take place this spring due to fundraising issues," in the words of Kelly Thurman, writing Thursday for the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D. "The American Indian Journalism Institute, an academic and internship program to recruit and retain Native American journalists, also has been suspended this summer," Thurman wrote. "Marsh, who is to retire in 2014, said he no longer is heading the Freedom Forum's diversity efforts as he transitions into a new role with the organization. . . ."
"Jane Harrington-Smith, a former news reporter, talk-show host, weekend anchor and assignment editor for WXII-TV in the 1970s, died Feb. 15 of heart failure at her home in Fishers, Ind. She was 62," the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal reported Tuesday. "Harrington-Smith, a native of Winston-Salem, worked for six years at WXII before she accepted a job at WTHR-TV in Indianapolis in July 1980. She was the first black female reporter at WXII, according to her obituary. . . ." At WTHR, she was the lead reporter on the Mike Tyson rape trial in 1992 and was part of the station's investigative team, that station reported Monday. Harrington-Smith ". . . was the only reporter I know of that ever got an interview with Desiree Washington," the accuser, colleague Bob Weinzierl said.
Public information officers today "are more likely trying to manage the media, end interviews if they get difficult, control who you can speak to, and berate you or even call your boss to complain if you try and go around them . . . ," Vincent Duffy, chairman of the Radio Television Digital News Association, wrote on Wednesday.
"Tonia Moore is not a millionaire," Andrew Beaujon wrote Friday for the Poynter Institute. "The National Journal copy editor incorrectly answered a question about the origin of Universal Studios' name on an episode of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' broadcast Friday, ending a run that began with a show broadcast the day before. . . . "
Brittany Tom, writing Thursday for the Grio, interviewed three great-great-grandchildren of anti-lynching crusading journalist Ida B. Wells. Michelle Duster said, ". . . I think Ida B. Wells should be remembered as an African-American woman who battled both racism and sexism at a time when it was extremely dangerous to speak out… She used her gift of writing, speaking and organizing to help shed light on injustice. She was extremely brave and held steadfast to her convictions despite being criticized, ostracized and marginalized by her contemporaries. . . ."
Simeon Booker, who as Washington bureau chief for Jet and Ebony magazines directed coverage of the 1963 March on Washington by a team of reporters and photographers from across the country, told the Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project, ". . . What folks today might not realize is that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. neither planned nor organized the march, although when it was over, it was clear that he would own it for all time. . . ."
"Media freedom campaigners say police in Zimbabwe are breaking the law by seizing and banning small radio receivers that can tune in to stations not linked to the state broadcasting monopoly controlled by President Robert Mugabe's party," the Associated Press reported Friday.
"The insurgents who have fled from invading French troops in Mali have been taking with them some of their most important possessions — slaves," Clare Morgana Gillis wrote last week for USA Today.
"Liberal blogs are all aflutter about a Fox News contributor named Lisa Daftari burping out a chunk of crazy on Megyn Kelly's America Live Wednesday afternoon, with the main point being that a Fox News contributor said something crazy," Tommy Christopher wrote Thursday for Mediaite. "What hasn't been discussed, perhaps because they take it for granted, is that Daftari's crazy and factually inaccurate statement about 'sleeper cells' in Detroit went completely unchallenged by 'hard news' anchor Megyn Kelly, who was more interested in Fairly and Balancedly talking about how Al Jazeera is 'about to infiltrate America.' "
In Bangladesh, "Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the murder of an outspoken anti-Islamist blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was hacked to death in the capital, Dhaka, on 15 February," the press freedom organization said Tuesday.
"Reporters Without Borders condemns the renewed crackdown on Iranian journalists, in which a wave of arrests in Tehran on and around the 'Black Sunday' of 27 January has been followed by interrogations and arrests of journalists in several provincial cities," the press freedom group said Wednesday. "At least 15 journalists and netizens . . . were summoned and interrogated for several hours by intelligence ministry officials in the southwestern city of Ilam on 17 February. . . ."
In Nigeria, "Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns Al-Mizan editor Musa Muhammad Awwal's illegal detention since his arrest without a warrant by heavily-armed security operatives five days ago. Neither his family nor his colleagues know why he was arrested or where he is being held . . ." the group said Tuesday. On Thursday, Ismail Mudashir of the Daily Trust in Nigeria wrote, ". . . Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper, Mallam Ibrahim Musa, in a statement said all efforts to reach the editor have proved abortive . . . . "
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.