Journalists of Color Sought to Cover Criminal-Justice System

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The new Internet startup on criminal justice issues to be edited by Bill Keller, former executive editor of the New York Times, will have a diverse staff because the subject matter demands it, Keller told Journal-isms in a message Monday. He spoke as journalism Internet startups are under fire for lack of diversity.

Keller was responding to an inquiry from Journal-isms. The Marshall Project, formed late last year by Neil Barsky, a journalist turned Wall Street money manager, was among four startups named by the National Association of Black Journalists in an open letter Friday in which NABJ said it "would like to meet with your organizations, both individually and perhaps at a summit, to discuss how we can help each other."


Keller messaged Monday, "Neil Barsky and I agreed from our first conversation that The Marshall Product would recruit a diverse staff. The criminal justice system, which will be the focus of our reporting, touches people of color disproportionately, as is distressingly evident from the population of our overstuffed prisons, the profiles of the victims, and the impact on families and communities.

"There is clear journalistic advantage in building a staff that understands, and can get, that story. It's early days (we're still raising money and just beginning the hunt for talent) but NABJ is right to serve notice early on, to us and other startups, that diversity is a valuable asset. We have begun our own outreach, but I invite NABJ — and your readers — to suggest candidates for The Marshall Project, particularly journalists who have proven investigative and writing skills. It's"


This columnist received the message while waiting in NPR's Washington headquarters to appear on "Tell Me More," the Michel Martin-hosted magazine program that was about to discuss the startup diversity issue with additional guests Laura Martinez, senior editor of CNET en Español, and Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism [audio].

Reading part of Keller's message, this columnist said of the editor, "He's one of the old school people, and he's much more forceful on this issue than the new people." The columnist said earlier in the conversation, "One thing that is a little troubling is that these are young people starting these startups without very much diversity. And we've been at this for quite a while. And for this to be 2014 and still having . . . this problem with the younger people is, as I said, is kind of troubling."


The other sites named by NABJ were Vox Media, First Look Media and FiveThirtyEight, which have all declared their commitment to diversity.

Keller is 65, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight is 36, Ezra Klein of Vox Media is 29 and Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder behind First Look Media, is 46.


Later in the conversation, Martin said, "Shani Hilton, who is African American, she's the deputy editor-in-chief at BuzzFeed, wrote a very kind of complete picture piece about this, and she said that part of the issue is that people of color are not networking with the right men who are tapped to run these companies because they're focused [on] working hard rather than rubbing elbows. . . ."

This columnist replied, "There's another piece of this and that is that you don't have to work hard so much to be integrated with the established, quote-unquote, white dudes. There's a strong strain of thought among particularly journalists of color that we should be starting our own and doing this data-driven journalism, this investigative journalism on our own African American sites. But the African American sites we have are basically committed to celebrity gossip, opinion and not really investigative reporting . . . ."


Meanwhile, Tracie Powell and Benet J. Wilson of the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force put forward eight steps for securing journalists of color for such startups, blogging under the headline, "Never Say 'We Can’t Find Talented Journalists of Color' Again."

Emily Bell, Columbia Journalism Review: Diversity — or lack thereof — in journalism startups, cont. (March 18)


Amanda Hess, Slate: The Online Journalism "Revolution" Will Produce More Powerful White Men

Mandy Jenkins, Zombie Journalism: If you’re serious about hiring a diverse staff, try actually posting your job 


Nishat Kurway, Making Money the Old-Fashioned Way

Natalia Mazotte, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas: New Brazilian platform will seek to expand the boundaries of in-depth news investigations online


Rainbow PUSH Coalition: Rev. Jackson and Rainbow Challenge PUSH for Digital Inclusion in Silicon Valley Technology Industry

Catherine Taibi, Huffington Post: The New FiveThirtyEight Website Relaunches On ESPN


Roger Yu, USA Today: Booming market for data-driven journalism

On Ukraine's Fringe Is Forgotten Figure — David Duke

David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader and onetime Louisiana state legislator, is in Ukraine, railing against the "Zionist press."


"Listen to the latest Dr. David Duke radio show, now on archive, in which he discusses the referendum in Crimea which has shown overwhelming support among the population for affiliation with Russia," Duke said Monday on his website.

"He shows how the Zionist press which has an agenda to weaken Russia because of its brake on the Zionist Global Agenda, is completely hypocritical in suggesting that the vote is illegal while at the same time endorsing a violent revolution in Ukraine.


"However, Dr. Duke points out that Ukrainians do have legitimate grievances and the fundamental right to serve their own heritage and interests as well, and that the biggest enemy to both Russians and Ukrainians are the Zio globalists who want to destroy the independence of every nation, and the heritage of all European peoples! . . ."

None of the American reporters covering the Ukraine-Russia conflict appears to be of color, though both countries have histories of racism.


However, Eugene Robinson, an African American columnist at the Washington Post, wrote last week about neo-Nazi political activity in Ukraine. "Oleksandr Sych, one of three vice prime ministers, is a member of the controversial All-Ukrainian Union 'Svoboda' party, whose leader charged that Ukraine was being controlled by a 'Muscovite-Jewish mafia' before last month's revolution. Members of Svoboda also run the agriculture and environment ministries. Last year, the World Jewish Congress called on the European Union to consider banning what it considered neo-Nazi parties, including Svoboda. . . ."

Robinson added, "It's not fair to say that the new government is dominated by the far right. But the front-and-center presence of these unsavory characters should be enough to warn policymakers in Washington that Ukraine’s new leaders will have to be pressed to respect the rights of all citizens, including supporters of the ousted regime. . . ."


Duke earned a Ph.D. in history in Ukraine in 2005, according to his website.

The conflict involving Ukraine, Crimea and Russia continues to command the world's attention. "Western powers slapped sanctions on more than two dozen Russian officials and their allies in Ukraine's Crimea region on Monday, while Ukrainian officials vowed they would never accept the territory's annexation by Russia," Matt Smith and Marie-Louise Gumuchian reported for CNN.


Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: As Though Iraq Never Happened: The short memory of Condoleezza Rice (March 11)

International Federation of Journalists: Ukrainian and Russian Unions Agree United Actions to Support Journalists


Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: American Hypocrisy Seems Boundless

Condoleezza Rice, Washington Post: Will America heed the wake-up call of Ukraine? (March 7)


Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: Relations with Russia becoming more like days of old — frigid

Obama Administration Censoring Files More Than Ever

"The Obama administration has a way to go to fulfill its promises from Day 1 to become the most transparent administration in history," Ted Bridis and Jack Gillum reported Monday for the Associated Press.


"More often than ever, the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

"Most agencies also took longer to answer records requests. . . ."

Sunday began "Sunshine Week," "a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know," according to the organizers.


L.A. Earthquake Leaves Anchors All Shook Up

"News teams in the Los Angeles area were shaken up Monday morning when an earthquake (magnitude 4.4) rolled through from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach," Catherine Taibi reported Monday for the Huffington Post, crediting the Poynter Institute.


"But no one had a better reaction than KTLA anchor Chris Schauble.

On Monday night, a Twitter follower posted this photo composite:

The accompanying message was, "@ChrisKTLA congrats you're a meme now."

Defiant Pacifica Leader Won't Allow "Coup" to Proceed

"Pacifica Executive Director Summer Reese reported to work today at the radio network's headquarters in Berkeley, Calif., ignoring her dismissal Thursday by Pacifica’s board of directors," Mike Janssen reported Monday for


"Board members went into executive session during a meeting last week and voted to dismiss Reese effective Friday. Reese was appointed permanent executive director of the network last November after holding the job on an interim basis.

"Margy Wilkinson, who was elected chair of Pacifica's board in February, declined to discuss why the board voted to dismiss Reese. 'The board took an action that it thought was both necessary and appropriate,' she said by phone Monday. She would not disclose how many members voted for dismissal.


"Wilkinson spoke from Pacifica's offices, where she had arrived this morning to discuss recent happenings with staff 'and was prevented from doing so by Summer Reese,' she said. Wilkinson said that she asked Reese to leave and the executive director declined. The board chair remained at the office.

"In an email to Current, Reese wrote, 'We are not allowing the coup to proceed. Everything is fine. I am in my office. Staff are working. There are about a dozen supporters and four opposition in the building.' . . ."


Reese presided over financial and management crises at Pacifica stations WPFW-FM in Washington and WBAI-FM in New York.

Ben Sisario wrote Friday in the New York Times, "Ms. Reese's dismissal is the latest in a series of changes in recent years that have destabilized Pacifica and its five stations. In August, WBAI, which operates a powerful signal at 99.5 FM but is millions of dollars in debt, laid off 19 of its 29 employees, including the entire news staff. The station, which is supported almost entirely by listener donations, has since been through two program directors and struggled publicly with its fund-raising. . . ."


Tiffany Wu To Lead Reuters America Desk

"Reuters Americas desk editor and deputy regional editor Ciro Scotti is moving on to a position as-yet to be announced," Richard Horgan wrote Monday for FishbowlNY. "Replacing him is a veteran reporter who has been with the wire service since 1998.


"From today's memo by Reuters Americas editor Dayan Candappa:

"Tiffany Wu has done many of the key jobs at Reuters — reporter, bureau chief, top news editor and regional specialist editor who had responsibility for the companies desking team — giving her a rounded view of the editing desk's pivotal role.


"Tiffany moved to New York eight years ago as our tech, media and telecoms editor, and was promoted to run Company News in the Americas in 2010. She joined the Top News Team in September 2012 and has helped guide our coverage of a wide range of front page stories, from cyber attacks and the fallout from the Edward Snowden leaks to big corporate shake-ups and the Quebec train derailment disaster.

"Wu, whose Asian postings included Taipei bureau chief from 2003 to 2006, will remain based in New York. . . ."


Reporting on Asian Americans Better Explains Racism

In a 2012 study, the five major Sunday talk shows mentioned Asian Americans 10 times in 129 episodes aired over 26 weeks, anti-racism activist Scot Nakagawa wrote Friday for


But many of those mentions were of Asian Americans as a "model minority," "a false and damaging stereotype."

Nakagawa continued, "It’s also worthwhile noting that Asians are, like some other immigrants, being deported from the U.S. We also face anti-Asian defamation, are being misrepresented in research that is nonetheless regularly cited by the whole spectrum of media outlets, face police brutality and hate crimes, and suffer gaps in the provision of vital public services because of language and cultural barriers.


"Asian women are disproportionately affected by human trafficking. Many Asian immigrants are refugees of wars, often wars sponsored by the U.S. Other Asian immigrants come here as refugees of the U.S. dominated global economy. Their stories contradict the dominant narrative concerning America as a global leader on human rights and a beacon of freedom and economic development around the world.

"And here in the U.S., Asian American ethnic groups such as the Hmong, Vietnamese, and Laotians suffer among the lowest rates of per capita income of any groups by race or ethnicity. Chinatowns in the U.S. may appear to be nothing more than quaint tourist attractions to most Americans, but they are, in fact, ghettos, where living conditions are shockingly low and concentrations of poverty are as high as they are just about anywhere in America.


"Yet, even the poorest Asian Americans in the most overcrowded Asian ghettos are more likely to experience upward social mobility than poor African Americans. That reality speaks to an aspect of anti-black racism in America about which we are mostly silent, in part because we are so silent or misinformed about Asian Americans. I suggest these stories are important, and not just for the sake of coloring up the news. These stories are important because ignoring them excludes a critical feature of the peculiar dynamics of race and racism in the U.S., and [lets] us off the hook concerning our failure to address the legacy of historical racism in America.

"It's about time Asian American stories get told, and not just to benefit Asian Americans. Until they are told, our understanding of the experiences of every other racial group in America is incomplete, and much of the story of the persistent problem of racism, both attitudinal, institutional, and structural is being excluded from public discourse to the detriment of all of us. . . . "


Short Takes

"1971," a documentary based on a break-in at FBI offices that year in Media, Pa., is premiering April 18 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, Betty Medsger, promoting "The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI," her book about the break-ins, said Sunday at Washington's Politics & Prose bookstore. Medsger told Journal-isms in January, "The racial files that emerged initially and later are, to me, the most important aspect of what we discovered about Hoover's secret FBI. As long as he was alive, black people never had a chance to have their case for basic rights taken seriously." "1971" is directed and written by Johanna Hamilton and co-written by Gabriel Rhodes.


"Nearly 15 years ago, a small group of journalists helped bring down a Philippine president," Benjamin Pimentel wrote Monday for "The non-profit group Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) broke the story of how President Joseph Estrada had allegedly acquired fancy mansions for his family and his mistresses." In January, Sheila Coronel, executive director of the center, was named academic dean of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, considered one of the best journalism schools in the United States.

In Philadelphia, "The family of the late radio legend and civic leader E. Steven Collins has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Chestnut Hill Hospital, saying staff there failed to immediately diagnose and treat the heart attack that killed him last fall," Dana DiFilippo reported Monday for the Philadelphia Daily News. The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists said after Collins' Sept. 9 death, "In addition to personal mentoring of students, E. Steven was key in connecting young generations of journalists, and those new to the area with the region’s key political, business, and community professionals. . . ."


"Jorge Ramos is co-hosting 'The View' this morning, promoting 'America with Jorge Ramos,' the new newscast-turned-newsmagazine on Fusion," Chris Ariens reported Monday for TVNewser. "Ramos told the ladies how he stays fit: 'I do yoga, tennis and I play football (soccer) every Saturday morning,' he said. . . ."

In Venezuela, "In the latest development affecting what the opposition calls a full-scale government assault on freedom of expression, a newspaper critical of the government said it was the target of a criminal defamation suit filed by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello," Ezequiel Abiu Lopez and Jorge Rueda reported March 6 for the Associated Press." Editor Teodoro Petkoff wrote in the paper, TalCual, that the Caracas judge overseeing the case had ordered him and three other executives as well as columnist Carlos Genatios not to leave the country without permission. Cabello accused the newspaper of printing something he claimed never to have said: That if people don't like crime they should leave the country. A conviction would carry a prison sentence of two to four years."


"The past year's religious violence and revenge killings in the Central African Republic are not only causing a humanitarian crisis; they're also causing a media crisis," Joanna Plucinska reported Friday for Columbia Journalism Review. "Christian and Muslim fighters have threatened journalists and looted local newspapers and radio stations, curtailing access to reliable information throughout the country for the past year. Crippled by theft or frightened into silence by one or another of the warring factions, dozens of media outlets have closed. Among the few still functioning are a handful of radio stations, of which only one broadcasts on a daily basis, thanks to international support. . . ."

"The recent kidnapping of two journalists in Lebanon is the latest and most troubling evidence that the press is in increasing danger as the Syrian civil war spills over into Lebanese politics," Jason Stern reported Monday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "According to news reports, Danish journalist Jeppe Nybroe and Lebanese-Palestinian journalist Rami Aysha were freed March 6 after almost a month in captivity. They were abducted in the border town of Arsal, located on a key smuggling route for Syrian rebel forces, as they were preparing a report on journalist kidnappings inside Syria. . . .'


"Six months in, there is more to say about Al Jazeera America than that its ratings stink," David Zurawik wrote Sunday for the Baltimore Sun. "But that's about the only thing I see written about the Qatar-owned cable channel these days." Zurawik points to the documentary "On the Frontlines with the Taliban," premiering at 9 p.m. Friday on Al Jazeera America. A second part, "This Is Taliban Country," is scheduled for 9 p.m. March 28. "The documentary defines reporting from the ground-up, versus top-down. Instead of talking to PR-prepped generals and government officials back in their safe offices, this film gets down in the dust of the battlefield and captures the foot soldiers in all their fervor, bluster, frustration, finger-pointing, hope and fear as they launch an attack and then see it go mostly wrong. . . ."

"MUMIA: Long Distance Revolutionary" [trailer], a documentary about Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Philadelphia journalist convicted of killing a policeman,will have its broadcast premiere Tuesday on Starz at 6:15 p.m. ET/PT.


Joe Madison of SiriusXM ranks No. 9 on the "Heavy Hundred," Talkers Magazine's list of the "Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America."

The Wall Street Journal has listed an opening for a business reporter in Africa, describing the position as "the most entrepreneurial of beats," Bill C. Smith, a senior account executive at Dukas Public Relations in New York, wrote Saturday for Talking Biz News. His essay was headlined, "Covering business in Africa: A good or bad story?"


Referring to Sierra Leone, Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday that it "takes note of the Freetown high court's decision on 10 March to caution and discharge Independent Observer managing editor Jonathan Leigh and editor Bai Bai Sesay after pressuring them into pleading guilty to a single count of conspiracy to defame the president. 'Sierra Leone’s justice system took more than ten hearings to drop this case,' said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. 'The judge's decision to discharge the journalists ends a six-month-long ordeal but their being forced to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge is no mark of honour for the country's institutions.' . . . "

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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education ( Reprinted on The Root by permission.

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