Sidmel Estes 
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Lack of Medical Insurance Complicated Treatment Options

Sidmel Estes, who became the first female president of the National Association of Black Journalists in 1991 while working as executive producer and co-creator of WAGA-TV's "Good Day Atlanta," died Monday night in an Atlanta hospital where she was being treated for a mystery illness, a friend, Ce Cole Dillon, reported Tuesday on the fund-raising page created to help with Estes' medical expenses. She was 60.

"Sadly, Sidmel made her transition last night. Services are pending. The family is thankful for all of the well wishes for Sidmel and for the contributions of support. Please pray for Sidmel's soul and for her sons," Dillon's message read. A younger brother, Christopher Estes, also made an announcement on Facebook.

On Sept. 23, when word of Estes' illness surfaced, she messaged Journal-isms, "I was stunned when my friends rallied to help me. And there are a lot of Sidmels out there. I didn't ask anyone to do this. I'm still confined to bed as we try to figure out the medical treatment for what's happening. But it is serious. I'm scared because I have never had this kind of thing happen. Please keep me in your prayers."

Estes' illness was complicated by her lack of health insurance.

Dillon's message said then, "Sidmel is facing a series of whammies. She has lost her health. She lives in a state that didn't accept the Medicaid expansion under the ACA [Affordable Care Act]. And she earned her living in a [declining] industry that has limited options for senior workers. Declining industry, declining health, and no health care is her triple whammy. Sidmel's triple whammy means that she needs help with living expenses and medicines.

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"She is too young to retire, and without a diagnosis she can't qualify for other kinds of government aid for now. . . ."

A fund-raising drive had raised $6,415 of its $36,000 goal by Monday night.

Estes lost more than 150 pounds after undergoing gastric bypass surgery. "I reached my peak at 360 pounds…. I had the surgery in 1999," she said in 2013. "I have kept the weight off and now weigh 190ish."

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After Estes left WAGA-TV, she started BreakThrough Inc., a consulting company, and became a media consultant and trainer in addition to keeping her shingle as an executive producer. As the turmoil in the news industry led to more layoffs and buyouts, she helped others reorient their thinking.

She leaves two sons, Joshua and Sidney. She had been married to B. Garnett Sumpter.

In 2000, with a second edition in 2005, NABJ produced "Committed to the Cause" [PDF], a booklet with biographies of all the NABJ presidents. The entry on Estes, then known as Sidmel Estes-Sumpter, was written by Ernie Suggs of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a former NABJ board member, and appears in the "Comments" section.

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Rodney Ho, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: TV briefs: Sidmel Estes passing, 'Gilmore Girls' on UP, quality TV improves empathy

National Association of Black Journalists: NABJ Mourns the Loss of Former President Sidmel Estes

Curry Quits Ailing Black Press Group

Competition from Digital Media Forces Staff Pay Cuts

October 5, 2015

Facing financial troubles, the trade association representing the nation's black community newspapers last week cut in half the salary of George E. Curry, editor-in-chief of its news service, and two of his staff members. Curry and Washington correspondent Jazelle Hunt then resigned. 

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The third news service staffer, correspondent Freddie Allen, could not immediately be reached for comment.

It was the second tour of duty for Curry, a veteran journalist and booster of the black press, which has organized as the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

Curry served as editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Emerge magazine from 1993 to 2000 and in 2003 was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

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He returned to the NNPA News Service, where he had been editor-in-chief from 2001 to 2007, in April 2012.

Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the Washington Informer who became NNPA chair in July, told Journal-isms by telephone that the NNPA board imposed the budget cuts after a decline in revenue and sponsorships prompted by competition from the digital world.

"The drain couldn't continue," Barnes said. "I'm worried that we're going to lose our voice. We have always been in the position of telling our stories and recording our history. . . .

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"We're making a difference in our communities, we have the longest history, we have a brand," but that hasn't been sufficient in the competition for eyeballs and advertising dollars in the digital space.

Last week, NNPA announced it was joining forces with the National Association of Hispanic Publishers "to educate marketers on the benefits and importance of the African American and Hispanic newspaper market

Barnes said she envisions advertisers being sold combined buys in the black and Hispanic press.

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Curry said his issue was the treatment of himself and his staff. "This whole episode has been mishandled at every level," he told Journal-isms by email.

Curry described a meeting with Benjamin F. Chavis  Jr., an activist and civil rights figure with a mixed past who in June 2014 became interim president and CEO of NNPA, and later its permanent president.

"Ben Chavis and I met last Wednesday at which time he informed me that the NNPA board had voted to cut the salaries of me and my two correspondents by 50 percent, effective the pay period commencing Oct. 2," Curry wrote.

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"At my request, he put that in writing later that night and I promptly resigned, effective at the close of business Friday. Although I didn't appreciate receiving only a 2-day notice, I had planned to work through the weekend without pay and post stories for publishers to download on Monday.

"However, on Friday I discovered my pay was 50 percent of my regular monthly direct deposit. When I questioned Ben Chavis about this, he said his bookkeeper and treasurer had told him that as independent contractors, we got paid a month in advance, which is an absolute lie. Failing to get all of the money due me, I ceased all NNPA-related work at the close of business Friday.

"I will go to court, if necessary, to get the remainder of my money. It's sad that this whole episode has been mishandled at every level. I enjoyed both tours at NNPA, but not the way my staff and I were treated this time around. I hope this doesn't tarnish the image of the overwhelming majority of honorable publishers who understand and recognize the value of a national news operation."

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Curry also wrote, "I plan to launch a GoFundMe drive Monday night or Tuesday to gauge if there is sufficient interest in bringing back Emerge magazine online. I am meeting with a web designer later this week and will begin hiring some sales people shortly.

"If the fundraising is successful, I will assemble an editorial team. If all goes well, we could be up and running in 6-8 weeks. I have not had much time to work out the details, but I am thinking about calling it EmergeNewsOnline. That may not be the final name, but what I am leading toward at this point."

Chavis told Journal-isms by telephone that Curry was a journalistic icon and emphasized that Curry resigned voluntarily and was not the only staff member to take a pay cut.

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"We're expanding. we are innovating," Chavis said. "NNPA has to keep up with the times." 

NNPA, founded 75 years ago, claims a membership of more than 200 African American-owned community newspapers.

Black Journalist Scores With Reports From Afghanistan

The headline on the main story in Sunday's Washington Post print edition was "Afghan hospital hit; U.S. blamed," written by Tim Craig, who might be the only African American journalist in Afghanistan.

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"I do not know any other African-American journalists here, but there are few other journalists of color," Craig told Journal-isms by email.

"To clarify, I am actually the Washington Post Pakistan Bureau Chief, based in Islamabad. So that is my chief responsibility. As part of that job, however, I have also been coming to Afghanistan on and off for past 2¬Ĺ years. I am usually here about four or five [times] a year, for three to four week rotations.

"Currently, there are not many journalists of color here. I think the only news outlets that still maintain permanent Kabul bureaus staffed with foreign journalists are: Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian and AFP. There may be one or two others. There are also a few foreigners who still live here as regular free-lance journalists. . . ."

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Washington Post Foreign Editor Douglas Jehl gives Craig, 39, a ringing endorsement. "Tim Craig has been The Post's bureau chief in Pakistan since the summer of 2013, and his coverage in recent days ‚ÄĒ delivered nearly around the clock ‚ÄĒ has demonstrated his command over an Afghanistan/Pakistan war zone that has surged back into public attention," Jehl told Journal-isms by email.

"From a temporary assignment in Afghanistan, Tim has delivered stirring and authoritative reporting on the news from the northern city of Kunduz, where a Taliban victory has raised deep questions about the ability of Afghan forces to repel a militant assault. Tim's reports throughout the weekend on an apparent American airstrike that killed 22 people in Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz exposed how U.S. and Afghan efforts to counter the Taliban assault were putting more civilians in the crossfire.

"Tim's story Sunday about the hospital, written from Kabul, attracted a huge audience on The Post's digital platforms, evidence that foreign news exercises a huge lure to The Post's 50 million monthly readers across the country and many millions more around the world.

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"The difficulties of operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan make Tim's assignment one of the most challenging on the foreign staff, and he has performed it with distinction. He was well-prepared: as his online biography states, he has covered conflicts not only in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but also within the District of Columbia government."

Craig wrote in his LinkedIn profile, "Prior to joining the Washington Post foreign staff, I worked as D.C. City Hall politics and government reporter. In 2011, I also did a stint in Baghdad. From 2006 to 2009, I was the Washington Post Virginia State House and political reporter based in Richmond, Va. I began my journalism career at the Baltimore Sun in Baltimore Maryland."

He told Journal-isms, "I am biracial, but I have always identified as black. . . . I have not thought much about how race affects my work, or the work environment, either here in Kabul or in Islamabad. But to be honest, I don't think it really makes much of a difference one way or another. In both countries, for the most part, most people seem fairly oblivious to racial matters as it relates to foreigners.

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"Frankly, among ordinary Pakistanis, my race has really only come up a few times in the context of American movies. Currently, the Fast & Furious movie series starring Vin Diesel is wildly popular in Pakistan. When my head is shaved, people have come up to me and tell me I resemble him and that, at times, sparks a broader discussion about race in the United States."

Ben Norton, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Media Are Blamed as US Bombing of Afghan Hospital Is Covered Up

Bina Shah, New York Times: Journalism in Pakistan: Fear and Favor

"News One Now" Loses 36% of Viewers in Shift to 7 a.m.

TV One's "News One Now" with Roland S. Martin, the only live daily news show targeting African Americans, lost 36 percent of its audience when it moved from 9 a.m. to 7 a.m. ET three weeks ago, according to Nielsen research figures provided to Journal-isms.

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The program drew an average of 141,000 viewers in from Sept. 7-11, its last week at 9 a.m., but only 90,000 in its first week in the new time slot. Because there is no West Coast feed, viewers in the Pacific time zone see the show at 4 a.m. unless they record it. Martin has repeatedly advised them to do so.

The time shift was implemented to compete with "Good Morning America," "Today," "CBS This Morning" and other such shows, for African American viewers.

"After almost two years on the air as the only live daily news program targeting the African American viewer, we are confident News One Now is ready to take on the traditional morning news crowd," Martin said in a news release announcing the switch.

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"In this uber-competitive news landscape, it is imperative we make available to the broadest audience possible the in-depth relevance our unique perspective provides. We know viewers have a multitude of options at 7 a.m. for their first news of the day, and we believe the diversity of our focus and continual coverage of issues of import to the African America community will resonate significantly."

A TV One spokeswoman noted that the percentage of those in the key 35-49 demographic group remained stable. "News One Now's ratings for its sweet spot demo of P35-49 continue to consistently deliver for TV One since the daily news program's time change two weeks ago," she said. Nielsen puts that number at about 28 percent of the show's viewers.

In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, TV One is presenting a two-hour block of programming on Friday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET. The march, called "Justice or Else," takes place the next day. Martin interviewed Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on Sept. 10, when "News One Now" dedicated the entire show to an in-studio interview. Farrakhan conceived the original march.

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Editorial, Washington Informer: Marching for Justice or Else Makes Essential for Blacks

NAHJ Delays Vote on Full Rights for Nonjournalists

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists said Monday that it had postponed its membership vote on extending full voting privileges to non-media, academic, public relations and student members. Voting was to begin Oct. 12.

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"The reason this is happening is because our reincorporation paperwork, a step that was voted on previously by the membership, was not filed properly by our national office a year ago. Our attorneys have advised us to get the process completed first before we ask you to revise the current bylaws," President Mekahlo Medina said in a message to members.

"The reincorporation process is expected to take between six and eight months. At that point, the board will again bring the bylaws revision measure to members. . . ."

ESPN Buys Out Remainder of Whitlock's Contract

"ESPN and sports commentator Jason Whitlock have parted ways," Richard Deitsch reported Sunday for Sports Illustrated.

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"Again.

"After hiring Whitlock in August 2013 to be the founding editor for a still-yet-to-launch website (The Undefeated) on the intersection of race and sports ‚ÄĒ a talent acquisition that was also part of a spending spree to counter the launch of Fox Sports 1 ‚ÄĒ ESPN has bought out the remainder of Whitlock‚Äôs contract. This ends the second go-around for ESPN and Whitlock, who worked from ESPN from 2002 to 2006 as an ESPN.com writer and frequently opinionist on its studio shows. The buyout was quietly negotiated a couple of weeks ago.

"When contacted by SI.com on Sunday afternoon, an ESPN spokesperson forwarded the following from the company, 'We have mutually agreed to part ways, which was Jason's preference following the shift from his role as Editor-in-Chief. Jason is a talented print and television commentator, and we wish him success in his next chapter.' . . ."

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This image was lost some time after publication.

ESPN's Smith Ratchets Up War of Words With Durant

"Things are officially not cool between Stephen A. Smith and Kevin Durant ," Erick Fernandez reported Monday for the Huffington Post.

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"On the heels of last week's war of words between the ESPN personality and the Oklahoma City Thunder star, Smith went on a WWE-style screed against the All-Star on Monday's episode of 'First Take.'

" 'You don't want to make an enemy out of me,' Smith said, referencing Durant. 'And I'm looking right into the camera and [I'll] say it again. You do not want to make an enemy out of me. I'm not having it, I've done nothing wrong and I'm not going to tolerate it.'

"The battle between the two first started last week after the ESPN commentator said he was hearing reports of possible destinations for Durant, who is set to become a free-agent in 2016. Durant responded to Smith by essentially saying that he had absolutely no idea what Smith was talking about. He even accused Smith of lying. . . ."

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AAJA Gets $230,000 to Revamp Leadership Program

"To develop leaders in digital journalism and improve diversity in newsrooms, the Asian American Journalists Association will redesign its signature Executive Leadership Program with $230,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation," Paul Cheung, national president of AAJA, announced on Monday.

"Knight funding will allow the Asian American Journalists Association to begin a two-year restructuring of the program using human-centered design, an approach that incorporates feedback from users when developing new ideas, so participants' needs are built into the innovation process. For the first time, the Asian American Journalists Association will open the program to journalists outside of its membership to create an inclusive environment for journalists of all backgrounds."

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Cheung also wrote, "Previously, the Executive Leadership Program’s core curriculum was focused on cultural barriers for Asian Americans and navigating the executive leadership ladder within a traditional media company. Though these skills are still valuable, there are new challenges within the industry that require stronger leadership skills in change management, innovation, cross-cultural communication and business development.

"The redesigned program will be divided into two components:

"A two-day leadership conference for media and journalism professionals who are involved in shaping newsroom strategies or are looking to be effective leaders.

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"An immersion program for a smaller group focused on entrepreneurial and business skills, in addition to strategies to advance their careers. . . ."

J. Whyatt Mondesire, Philly Leader and Journalist, Dies at 65

"Former Philadelphia NAACP leader J. Whyatt 'Jerry' Mondesire, a charismatic activist and a fixture in the city's political circles,died Sunday night at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, according to a family statement," Jonathan Takiff and Chris Palmer reported for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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" 'The family wants to thank everyone for their love and support,' the statement read. The family did not cite a cause of death, but relayed that he was surrounded by relatives and close friends.

"A family friend told The Inquirer on Saturday night that Mondesire, 65, was having dialysis at Chestnut Hill Hospital on Friday when he suffered a brain aneurysm. Mondesire was then transferred to Jefferson, where he was placed on a ventilator, the family friend said.

"Mondesire, a former reporter and editor with The Inquirer and publisher of the Philadelphia Sun, was named chief of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP in 1991. In 2014, Mondesire and three local board members were suspended by the national office over a feud stemming from allegations of misuse of chapter funds.

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"Nation of Islam minister Rodney Muhammad was subsequently elected as the new president of the Philadelphia NAACP in December 2014.

"Before Mondesire led that organization, he worked in the 1980's as an aide to U.S. Rep William H. Gray 3d, earning a reputation as one of the most powerful political operatives in the city. . . ."

In a statement, the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists said Mondesire was a founding member. "He was an advocate for the community that he loved as publisher of the Philadelphia Sunday Sun and as a community affairs host on WDAS-FM radio. He extended his reach even farther as a long-serving president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, fighting to ensure that issues affecting Blacks in the city were both acknowledged.

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" 'Jerry used the power of the pen and the bullhorn to advocate for those in Philadelphia without a voice,' says Cherri Gregg, president of PABJ. 'He fought not only for Philadelphia's Black community but for all people of color and wanted nothing more than for all people in this city to be treated justly.' . . ."

Additional tributes came from Sarah Glover, president of the National Association of Black Journalists and a former two-term PABJ president; Acel Moore, one of the founders of PABJ and NABJ; NABJ treasurer Greg Morrison, another founder of PABJ; and others.

David Chang and Stephen Beck, WCAU-TV: Philly Civil Rights Leader Jerry Mondesire Dies

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Pamela Yip, Personal Finance Columnist, Dies at 59

"Pamela Yip, a longtime personal finance columnist for the Dallas Morning News, died Sunday morning after fighting cancer for three years," Chris Roush reported Sunday for Talking Biz News. "She was 59.

"Yip had recently taken a buyout offer from the Morning News and left the paper in September. She had been a board member of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers since 2007 and had co-chaired its annual national conference in Dallas in 2011.

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" 'Pam was a beloved longtime board member of SABEW, where she made lasting friendships and helped promote the highest standards of business journalism,' said Joanna Ossinger, the president of SABEW and an editor at Bloomberg News. 'She was always ready to offer a kind word or volunteer for a project. I'm recognizing her with the President's Award at our Fall conference on Oct. 9.'

"Yip covered personal finance and senior/aging issues for The Morning News. Yip was a fellow at SABEW's Health Care Symposium in New York in January and in 2012 was a fellow at the National Press Foundation in Washington, D.C., where she studied retirement issues. . . ."

"She has been the personal finance columnist for the Morning News since 1999. Before that, she spent 10 years as a business reporter for the Houston Chronicle. . . . ."

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Joe Simnacher, Dallas Morning News: News' personal finance columnist Pamela Yip dies at 59

Short Takes

"Former Detroit City Council President [Charles] Pugh subjected his 14-year-old personal assistant to unwanted sexual advances and regularly played pornographic movies while the teen cleaned his house, according to a federal court filing," Robert Snell reported Monday for the Detroit News. Snell also wrote that the former assistant, Nathaniel Hill, "could testify later this month about behind-the-scenes life with Pugh, a television broadcaster and politician who resigned in disgrace and fled Detroit after sexual allegations aired two years ago. . . ."

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"Police say they have arrested a man who broke into the offices of The News & Observer and First Presbyterian Church in downtown Raleigh over the weekend," the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported on Monday. "Police have charged Ethan Michael Mangum, 23, of Fort Bragg with two counts of breaking and entering, two counts of injury to personal property and one count each of injury to real property and injury to a building, fence or wall. They say Mangum broke into the newspaper and church offices early Sunday morning. At about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, newspaper staff found two offices badly damaged and a trail of blood through the newsroom. Someone had smashed windows, overturned furniture, and threw files out the third-story window into the newspaper' front lawn. . . ."

More than 200 men dressed in business attire greeted students at five public high schools in Newark, N.J., to encourage students to do well academically and to let them know they are not alone, Barry Carter wrote Monday for the Star-Ledger in Newark. "The idea came to the mayor over the summer after he met with ESPN sports analyst Chris Broussard . . . Broussard is president and founder of KING ‚ÄĒ Knowledge Inspiration Nurture Through God. He and Al Hardy, vice president of the New Jersey chapter of KING, worked with the mayor to initiate the program in Newark. . . ."

"There are plenty of angles covered in the October issue of Vice magazine," Richard Horgan wrote Monday for FishbowlNY. "Led by the interview Vice CEO Shane Smith conducted with President Obama during the POTUS' visit to the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla. this summer, a conversation carried over from HBO Sept. 27. There's also a feature for which Vice partnered with the Nation Institute's Investigative Fund. Titled 'A Death Sentence in Mississippi,' Spencer Woodman's feature profiles a Death Row inmate who appears innocent of the 2001 murder crime for which he was convicted . . ."

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"After a 33-year career at the Washington Post, where he won a Pulitzer Prize, followed by these last 17 years as a professor of journalism at the University of Illinois, the 71-year-old still has the same answer when his youngest daughter asks when he's going to retire," Tracy Crane reported Sunday for the News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill., writing about Leon Dash. "And Destiny asks often. 'I'll retire when they carry me out of Gregory Hall,' he tells her. . . ."

As much as Black Lives Matter's "opponents and supporters (who insist that 'this ain't yo mama’s civil rights movement') differentiate it from the 1960s effort, these two historical moments have a lot in common. Both have been opposed by more than half of Americans, both have needed violent confrontations to attract national media attention, and both have been criticized for their combative tactics," Simone Sebastian wrote Thursday for the Washington Post's Sunday print edition.

"America After Charleston may have charted new territory for PBS," Jill Goldsmith reported Monday for Current.org. "The televised town hall about race that aired Sept. 21 boasted a social media and digital campaign that was one of PBS's most dynamic, incorporating video clips and GIFs on social media and creating features exclusively for social media use, such as question graphics, Instagram posts with audio and short-form video shot outside the taping. The push on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram started weeks before the show and is still going. . . ." The town hall was moderated by PBS host Gwen Ifill.

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"The union representing striking camera operators at NBC-owned WCAU in Philadelphia says the station may have caused a 'serious breach of security' during the recent visit of Pope Francis, and Local 98 president Brian Burrows has asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to investigate," Mark Joyella reported Monday for TV Spy. "Philadelphia Magazine reports the union has 'significant reason' to believe fill-in photographers hired by the station were using credentials assigned to striking workers. . . ."

"CBS News SVP Sonya McNair is leaving the network, TVNewser has learned," Alissa Krinsky reported Monday for TVNewser. "McNair is the third member of the CBS News PR team to depart in recent weeks. In an internal memo obtained by TVNewser, CBS Corp. chief communications officer Gil Schwartz writes, 'Given the portfolio of duties Sonya has shouldered these past four years, we appreciate her feelings in this matter and want to support her in her decision.' . . ." 

"Sunday, NBC weatherman Al Roker apologized for tweeting a smiling selfie of himself and some colleagues amidst the destruction in South Carolina," Blue Telusma reported Monday for theGrio.com. "Using a collapsed highway and a car that had careened off the road as his backdrop, Roker tweeted an image of himself and two NBC co-workers with the caption 'My crew and I getting ready to report on East Coast flooding from S. Carolina on @NBCNightlyNews with Kate Snow.' . . .‚ÄĚ

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"In January, Tasneem Raja took over as digital editor of the [NPR] Code Switch team," Justin Ellis wrote in introducing a Q-and-A with Raja for NiemanLab, republished Monday on Current.org.  "What's changed from the day Code Switch was launched, Raja said, is that mainstream news outlets have been forced to explore race in America beyond the tragic moments like the shooting ofTamir Rice in Cleveland, or presidential candidates' thoughts on immigration. 'So now our interesting challenge is to figure out what can bring, how do we keep moving forward on having these conversation in a smart way,' Raja told me recently. 'Cause now, the good news is simply having them isn’t novel. I see words like "white privilege" and "inclusion," and "microaggression." . . .' " 

"Journalist Liu Hu says that once he was detained by police the pressure for him to confess was unrelenting," Didi Tang reported Thursday for the Associated Press. "They told him that, unless he confessed, he would stay behind bars longer and his wife would abandon him." Tang also wrote, "In an interview with The Associated Press, Liu recounted how the police ‚ÄĒ in cooperation with the Chinese state's propaganda machine ‚ÄĒ try to draw out confessions and then air them on state television to shame suspects and sway public perceptions ahead of their trials. Although a clear violation of Chinese law, the tactics have become popular since 2013 under the sanction of authorities eager to shape public opinion. Police coerce the confessions, which are filmed and made to appear voluntary, and then are aired on China's main state broadcaster CCTV. . . ."