Dana Canedy, a champion of newsroom diversity inside the New York Times, is leaving the company to write books and work on a movie based on her memoir, the Times announced Friday, prompting a meeting of about a dozen African American Times journalists concerned about the news organization's commitment to diversity.
Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Ellen Shultz, the company's recently hired executive vice president for talent and inclusion, separately told Journal-isms of the Times' continued commitment. However, Canedy's departure follows by two months that of Daniel Simpson, companywide senior manager for diversity and campus programs, which in turn followed the 2013 exit of Desiree Dancy, chief diversity officer and vice president, corporate human resources.
"Lack of sincerity on diversity was a key factor in me leaving," Simpson told Journal-isms by telephone Friday. Diversity was added to his responsibilities after Dancy left. He departed in August. "Dana handled the newsroom diversity issues," Simpson said by email. "Some of what I did was overseeing the diversity affinity networks, which included both sides [business and news]."
Journal-isms asked Baquet whether anyone in the newsroom would fill Canedy's role and noted that despite impressive hires from outside the Times, some journalists of color feared that progress would be stalled on removing a perceived glass ceiling for those who are already there.
"First off, I will miss Dana tremendously, though she will be writing of course," Baquet replied. "She has been an important adviser to me, and a friend.
"As I hope people can tell from the recent hiring, I care deeply about building a diverse newsroom. We can't cover the world unless we look like the world.
"We have some plans in the works for changing how we hire journalists. I'd prefer not to get into them now. But rest assured that diversity is important to me and to The Times. We won't slip."
Journal-isms asked Shultz how she planned to build on the gains made by Canedy and Simpson, whether there were specific plans, especially in relation to diversity, and how she planned to follow up on an April warning to employees by CEO Mark Thompson that "supervisors who fail to meet upper management’s requirements in recruiting and hiring minority candidates or who fail to seek out minority candidates for promotions face some stern consequences: They’ll be either encouraged to leave or be fired," in the words of the Washington Post's Erik Wemple, who broke the story.
Shultz replied, "As you may know, I'm relatively new here, but one of my most immediate priorities is to work to strengthen our existing programs around diversity and develop new ones. It's critical to our business. There is a lot of great work already underway and we're very lucky that Dana will continue to consult with us."
Canedy has worked at the Times since 1996 as reporter, assistant national editor and senior editor. In October 2006, her fiancé, Army First Sergeant Charles King, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. In 2008, she completed "A Journal for Jordan," her fiancé's 200-page journal for his seven-month-old son in case he did not make it home from the war in Iraq. (scroll down)
"She is working with Denzel Washington and his producing partner, Todd Black of Escape Artists Productions, on the movie adaptation of her bestselling memoir, 'A Journal for Jordan,'" Janet Elder, a deputy executive editor, wrote staff members.
"She also has two non-fiction books in the works and then plans to write a novel. One of the books is based on the popular Times photo essay 'Unpublished Black History,' which documented recent black history using unpublished NYT photos. This was a project conceived by Dana. She is also writing a book with the working title 'The New Civil Rights Movement.' "
Elder's memo called Canedy a "stalwart champion of newsroom personnel" and cited "a storied career of participating in some of our most ambitious journalism —- most notably our 1999 series on race which won a Pulitzer Prize — as well as shaping our journalism through the cultivation of great talent — Yamiche Alcindor, Frenchie Robles and Nikole Hannah-Jones, to name a few.
"In her most recent role in News Administration Dana has been a trusted confidante for countless people both in our newsroom and throughout the company. Dana’s kindness, courage, compassion and devotion to Times’ values have made her an invaluable partner to the newsroom leadership. As Dean said: 'Dana has been a wise and thoughtful advisor to me and the rest of the masthead on some of the most complex personnel issues facing our newsroom.'
"Dana has led our Student Journalism Institute, our summer internship program and been a leader in the company's College Scholarship Program. She has not only shaped our intermediate journalist recruits, but she has also shaped a generation of managers through the newsroom management training program.
"Dean and Mark have asked Dana to continue to work with The Times on a project basis as they develop and strengthen existing programs and build out new ones. Dana will be an ongoing consultant to Mark on company-wide diversity issues.
"As Mark noted, 'I'm very grateful that we will continue to be able to tap into Dana's considerable expertise in an area that is critical to our business, the recruitment and retention of diverse talent.' And lest Dana think we are letting her get away from the creation of our journalism, [National Editor] Marc Lacey has asked Dana to continue to add her voice to our national coverage of race, military families and other areas. . . ."
One black journalist told Journal-isms privately that "people are devastated" that Canedy is leaving and that "she speaks for the people of color here."
The journalist cited unfinished business regarding institutional racism and pointed to recent departures of such black journalists as Simone Bridges Oliver, a growth strategy editor for lifestyle news who went to Allure magazine as digital director, and Marcus Mabry, editor at large who left the Times a year ago first for Twitter, and then for CNN, where he became director, mobile and off platform last month.
The institutional issues go beyond the newsroom. Simpson cited the lack of African Americans on the Times Co. board and, except for Baquet, in top management. "If diversity is talked about at the top and all the diversity sits at the bottom of the company, that's a huge disconnect," he said by telephone.
In April, Ernestine Grant, 62, and Marjorie Walker, 61, black women who work in the Times’ advertising department, filed a multimillion-dollar class action lawsuit alleging that Thompson introduced a culture of “deplorable discrimination” based on age, race and gender at the newspaper," Rupert Neate reported then for the Guardian.
Canedy told Journal-isms Friday by telephone, "I accomplished most of what I thought I could here" in trying to improve diversity and in embracing the Times' "diversity agenda. There are others in the company like the new head of talent acquisition who will now be tasked with overseeing this," referring to Shultz.
A longtime Democratic activist said that contrary to Donald Trump’s allegations at Wednesday's debate, he had no role in any secret plan to instigate violence at Trump rallies, WMAQ-TV's Phil Rogers reported.
Chicago Panel Urges Context, Not Stereotypes
Chicago took its hits in this week's presidential debate. It was called the nation's capital of gun violence, a place where Democrats supposedly incited violence at a Donald Trump rally and, along with other urban areas, a place where the inner city is "a disaster. You get shot walking to the store. They have no education. They have no jobs," in Trump's words.
Those characterizations have all been challenged, and a panel of Chicago media figures said Friday that their repetition in the national media perpetuates stereotypes and magnifies distrust of journalists.
The setting was a "regional media summit" in Chicago of Unity: Journalists for Diversity, a coalition of the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.
In "the way we write about violence, in the absence of other kinds of reporting, the rest of the world is eclipsed, bleached out of the picture," said Jamie Kalven of the Invisible Institute, author of a recent series on the Intercept, "Operation Smoke and Mirrors: In the Chicago Police Department, If the Bosses Say It Didn’t Happen, It Didn’t Happen."
"These are communities where people fall in love" and live everyday lives like other citizens, continued Kalven, who has also written about public housing.
Those residents also have opinions. Susy Schultz, president of public narrative.org, based at Columbia College Chicago, told the group, "Solutions should be part of what a journalist covers. We keep thinking, 'what's wrong with them?' People are teeming with solutions and ideas, but that part is not covered. It can deepen the divide."
Paul Street, an author, social critic and political commentator, said from the audience that television creates a problem by juxtaposing middle-class reporters of color with disadvantaged blacks who are reduced to stereotypes. It leaves some of his fellow whites with the impression that racism is over and that the unsuccessful have only themselves to blame, he said.
Schultz called for more "day-in-the-life" stories, such as those by Lolly Bowean, a general assignment reporter at the Chicago Tribune who is now on a Nieman fellowship.
Mark Jacob, the Tribune’s associate managing editor for metro news, told Jackie Spinner for the Columbia Journalism Review in June, “Lolly loves to explode other people’s stereotypes. “She loves to write stories that broaden people’s views of others. It makes her a delight to read.”
Kalven, who discussed his Intercept series on police Friday on "Democracy, Now!" said police should be accorded the same three-dimensional treatment. "What value do you put on someone who mines and builds relationships?" he asked.
On Chicago news and public affairs programs this week, journalists noted that it was unfair to link the proliferation of guns in Chicago with its gun laws, calling them a failure, without noting that many of those guns come from outside the city and state.
In addition, WMAQ-TV investigative reporter Phil Rogers attempted to fact-check Trump's claim about Democrats' role in violence at his rallies. Rogers told viewers Thursday, "A longtime Democratic activist said that contrary to Donald Trump’s allegations at Wednesday's debate, he had no role in any secret plan to instigate violence at Trump rallies. . . ."
In another session at the Unity "summit," attended by 80 people at Loyola University, Karyn J. Taylor, a former network television documentarian, told the group that mastering office politics "was more important than how good we were as journalists" and gave examples of strategies, successful and not, that journalists of color have used in their efforts to advance in broadcasting.
One can "change more minds from being on the inside," said Taylor, who advises lawyers on communicating for the Chicago-based The Strategic Image. "Rabble rousers eventually get kicked out. Talk to older people who have learned these things the hard way," she advised.
Paul Farhi, Washington Post: Is it okay for James O’Keefe’s ‘investigative reporting’ to rely on deception?
Unity Chicago Student Newsroom 2016: Rethinking Journalism in the Midwest
Detroit Sports Columnist Drew Sharp Dies at 56
"Drew Sharp became a journalist when he was 6 years old," Carlos Monarrez reported Friday for the Detroit Free Press. "That’s when he lay in the intensive-care unit at Children’s Hospital in Detroit while recovering from open-heart surgery. He watched Walter Cronkite on the CBS 'Evening News' and fell in love with journalism.
"Sharp’s father, Calvin, bought him a typewriter and made him a microphone out of a cardboard spool from a roll of paper towels and watched his son recuperate by writing stories for his evening report at the dinner table.
" 'Love is like a perfectly fluid golf swing. You don’t find it so much as it finds you, and you have to be ready to take advantage,' Sharp wrote in the introduction to his 2003 Detroit Free Press book, 'Razor Sharp.'
"Cronkite and that cardboard spool microphone launched a journalism career that lasted more than 30 years for Sharp, whose acerbic wit and relentlessly tough criticism as a Free Press columnist since 1999 turned him into one of the most recognizable fixtures in the Detroit sports media landscape.
"Sharp, who began his career at the Free Press in 1983 and never worked for another newspaper, died Friday morning at his home in Bloomfield Hills. He was 56. An autopsy performed by the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s office determined that Sharp died of hypertensive cardiovascular disease. He was pronounced dead at 7:07 a.m. . . ."
Detroit Free Press: Friends, colleagues react to sudden passing of Drew Sharp
Court Quashes Subpoena for N.Y. Times' Robles
"An appeals court in Manhattan ruled on Thursday that a reporter for The New York Times could not be subpoenaed to testify at a coming trial about her jailhouse interview with a man accused in the decades-old murder of a 4-year-old known as Baby Hope," Alan Feuer reported for the Times.
"In a two-page decision, the appeals court found that notes by the reporter, Frances Robles, from her interview with the man were not 'critical or necessary' to his prosecution by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The court based its ruling on what it called 'the consistent tradition in this state of providing the broadest possible protection to "the sensitive role of gathering and disseminating news of public events." '
"The decision was the latest twist in a case that has touched on issues of journalistic privilege and coerced confessions and has baffled the police for more than 20 years.
“ 'We are grateful to the court for recognizing how important this issue is not just to The Times and to Ms. Robles, but to journalists everywhere,' David McCraw, vice president and assistant general counsel of The New York Times Company, said. 'It’s important that our reporters be allowed to give voice to people who are incarcerated, and this subpoena threatened to silence those voices.' . . .”
Asian Americans, Fox News Meet Privately Tuesday
A Fox News executive and an executive producer of "The O'Reilly Factor" will meet with the Asian American Journalists Association and community leaders to discuss concerns over the Oct. 3 segment of “Watters’ World,” which Asian American groups and others have called "rude, offensive, mocking, derogatory and damaging," AAJA said Friday.
"Representatives from the community include Asian American Journalists Association, New York State Assembly, Asian Americans Advance Justice, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Organization of Chinese Americans, Asian Business Leadership Forum and Reappropriate.
"This private meeting will take place at New York City’s Museum of Chinese in America next Tuesday Oct 25."
Photo Director Allert Joins Dallas Morning News
Marcia Allert, director of photographer at the Daily Beast, began this week as director of photography at the Dallas Morning News.
In a note to the staff last month, Dallas Morning News Editor Mike Wilson said Allert had spent her entire career in New York and was "known as an outstanding visual journalist with a keen eye for images and a deep understanding of how to use them to their greatest effect online. With her long experience and collaborative style, she has what it takes to work well across the newsroom and elicit the best work from our talented visual journalism staff.
"One of her references put it this way: 'She's the kind of manager who can paint the sky, but she makes sure the ladder works.' . . ."
Wilson said by email Friday, "She just finished her first week and I'm so impressed." He also said, "We have been without a director of photography for my entire 20-month tenure . . . Irwin Thompson has been interim DOP and now becomes Marcia's deputy."
AP Promotes Flodin to News Editor for 3 States
"Kim Johnson Flodin, a veteran photo-news journalist and editor at The Associated Press, has been named news editor for Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma," the Associated Press announced Wednesday.
"This promotion reflects AP's move toward a cross-platform management structure and plays to Kim's strengths of sound news judgment and organizational skills," said Maud Beelman, editor for the three-state region. . . ."