The mayor of Pittsburgh called the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and "professed outrage" that the city's police chief had distributed to other reporters the questions Post-Gazette journalists were asking about police conduct in the slaying of a young woman and the suicide of the man police said confessed to shooting her, the newspaper said in an editorial Friday.
"Mayor Luke Ravenstahl professed outrage in a call to the Post-Gazette's executive editor at what his chief had done and promised that it will not happen again," the editorial said. "We take him at his word, given that the episode made his police officials look petty and vindictive."
The editorial said, ". . . it was outrageous and illegitimate for the bureau to circulate the Post-Gazette's questions and a summary of the facts its reporters had gathered, in a news release last Saturday to dozens of other journalists.
"The action reveals an obnoxious defensiveness by the bureau on taking legitimate questions from reporters about the murder of a young woman and the suicide of the man police said confessed to shooting her — a tragedy that perhaps might have been prevented by better police work.
"Ka'Sandra Wade, 33, was found shot to death in her Larimer home on New Year's Day. But nearly 24 hours earlier, she had called 911 and the call-taker heard a commotion before the line was disconnected. Two officers responded but went away after speaking only to a man who said nothing was amiss. He turned out to be the woman's boyfriend, Anthony L. Brown, 51, who fatally shot himself Jan. 2 during a standoff with a SWAT team after admitting to the murder.
"Questions naturally arose from these events. Post-Gazette reporters Liz Navratil and Jonathan D. Silver wrote their questions and emailed them to the bureau, as they have sometimes done before, for a response. Subsequently, Diane Richard, the public information officer, issued a press release that quoted Chief Nate Harper as saying that an investigation was in its early stages and the bureau would not provide a statement or answers to anyone. The release ordered by the chief also disseminated the questions of and the information obtained to that point by the Post-Gazette's reporters. . . . "
The editorial continued, "Post-Gazette Executive Editor David M. Shribman said that this was probably the most horrifying and unprofessional PR behavior he had seen in four decades in journalism," and added words of support from the Newspaper Guild and the Public Relations Society of America.
". . . Some members of the public in a media-hostile age may dismiss this as special pleading," the editorial said. "But once a government agency arrogantly decides to punish perceived enemies, reporters from any news organization become candidates for the same treatment — the Post-Gazette one day, WPXI the next, with the ultimate victim the public's right to know. To dismiss this as unimportant is to suggest that a young woman's life was unimportant; it is to suggest that the people of Pittsburgh don't deserve real answers about public safety, police performance and what their tax dollars are buying. . . .
In the Pittsburgh City Paper, Chris Potter wrote on Friday, "It's unclear whether police could have saved Wade, who may already have been dead by the time they arrived. But while city officials, and District Attorney Steve Zappala, are reviewing the incident, Wade's friends are already mobilizing to change how police respond to potential domestic-abuse situations.
" 'Ka'Sandra was moving so fast toward a leadership role here. She was going to be a change-maker,' says Maryellen Deckerd, the Western Regional Director of Action United, the community-justice group where Wade worked. 'One reason we want to hold this vigil is to change people.' "
Media spokesmen for the mayor's office and the police bureau did not respond to requests for comment.
Liz Navratil and Jonathan D. Silver, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Emotional farewell at shooting victim's service in Farrell
Jonathan D. Silver, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh official promises 'thorough' 911 inquiry
Jeff Horseman, Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.: PUBLIC INFORMATION: Reporters’ questions aired for all
"In the wake of Rob Parker's racially insensitive comments about Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III," ESPN President John Skipper "said he's creating a new checks-and-balances system to prevent this type of embarrassment from happening again on ESPN's First Take and other studio programs," Barry Jackson wrote Friday for the Miami Herald.
"And he wants the debate [between] Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless to be spirited but thoughtful, not outrageous.
"ESPN announced this week that it is not renewing Parker's contract — after initially suspending him 30 days for suggesting that Griffin is not authentically black.
" 'I like Rob [but] what he said was clearly inappropriate,' Skipper said. 'The fact nobody caught it and re-aired it showed a significant lack of judgment. I met personally with the producers and told them how disappointed I was and we were going to suspend some of them and I expect them to be more careful in the future.'
"The problem with First Take is that Bayless often seems hell-bent on making outrageous comments simply to see what reaction it will evoke.
" 'It's a debate show and we get a lot of criticism for it,' Skipper said. 'I personally don't have any problem with doing a debate. You just have to figure out where you walk the line [between] being provocative and stepping over it and saying something stupid. We've done that once or twice on this show. We're going to add more checks and balances.'
"How tough is it to find that line? 'Apparently, pretty tough.'
"But Skipper added the segment 'shouldn't be built on people saying outrageous things. It should be built on vigorous discussion and debate. We've got a very successful show, Pardon The Interruption, which is a debate show, but it works because of the judgment and the brains of Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon and [producer] Eric Rydholm.'
"Skipper added that 'Stephen, Skip and [producer] Jamie Horowitz are bright guys. They ought to be able to figure it out. The show has worked. The ratings have gone up.' . . . "
Jemele Hill, ESPN.com: Robert Griffin III's identity (Dec. 27)
As the nation debates measures to stem gun violence, Christine Haughney of the New York Times reported Thursday that "Homicide Watch, the Washington, D.C., Web site that tracks murders, has found another crime-ridden city to cover.
"The Chicago Sun-Times is partnering with Homicide Watch's co-founders, Laura and Chris Amico, to launch a Chicago edition. The [Sun-Times] paid the Amicos for the technology to build the Web site. The paper plans to have its crime reporter, plus several general assignment reporters, cover murders and have interns track and follow up on these cases.
"The Web site (homicides.suntimes.com) is scheduled to be up and running later this month.
"Jim Kirk, The Chicago [Sun-Times'] editor in chief, said that the Web site's launch is especially well-timed.
“'In Chicago, the murder rate is what everybody is talking about,' said Mr. Kirk. 'This is one of many initiatives we want to experiment with, in trying to bring our readers more closely together. What Homicide Watch shows is that people do like to discuss and relate to issues in their backyard.'. . . "
Brooks Boliek and Steve Friess, Politico: Hollywood's take on White House gun summit
Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Martin Luther King Makes Everything Better
Peter Hermann, Washington Post: NBC's Gregory won't be charged for displaying ammunition clip on TV
Annette John-Hall, Philadelphia Inquirer: Here's my main target for 2013
Jerry Large, Seattle Times: Guns: What 3 doctors order
Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: NRA Unchained
Stephen A. Nuño, NBCLatino: No one talks about the armed guards already in Latino schools
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Treat Chicago's homicide surge as an epidemic
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Newspaper crosses the line to quash privacy
Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Conversation on gun violence excludes a key perspective — that of most likely victims
" 'After a nationwide search, I found the most qualified, natural leader for RTV6 News right here inside our station,' said Larry Blackerby, vice president and general manager of RTV6. 'In just the past few weeks, Terri has done an outstanding job leading our team of journalists in covering two of the biggest local stories of the past year — first with extensive and exclusive coverage of the arrests in the Richmond Hill explosion on the Southside and then with wall to wall reporting of the blizzard the day after Christmas. Terri's news judgment, passion and commitment to local coverage is outstanding.'
"Cope-Walton previously was assistant news director at RTV6 and has been interim news director since November 2012. She has served in many roles and worked with many departments since joining the RTV6 staff in 1998, including leading the station's community affairs efforts and as the lead producer for RTV6 Good Morning, Indiana. . . ."
"Maybe Obama needs to borrow Romney's 'binders full of women,' " Jennifer Vanasco wrote Friday for Columbia Journalism Review. "That's what Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg News suggested in her opinion piece wondering why Obama's new Cabinet is looking 'more like the Augusta National Golf Club than America.'
"The Washington Post first brought this story to our attention on Monday, with a piece by David Nakamura noting that President Obama had nominated men to three big Cabinet posts: State (after Susan Rice dropped out of the running), Defense, and CIA. 'The moves have disappointed some supporters who said they fear, with [Secretary of State] Clinton's departure, a paucity of females among Obama's top advisors, particularly in the traditionally male-dominated field of defense and security,' Nakamura wrote.
"But it was The New York Times that took the story and hit it out of the park on Tuesday. First, the paper published White House photographer Pete Souza's damning December photo of male senior advisors circling the President (and noted that if you look closely, you can see Valerie Jarrett's leg just visible in front of the desk. That mostly-hidden Jarrett somehow made the whole thing even worse.) That photo made the story, 'Obama's Remade Inner Circle Has an All-Male Look, So Far' hit on a visceral level.
"Second, the story itself was an outstanding example of enterprise reporting using data analysis. Annie Lowrey, an economic policy reporter, pointed out — as did Nakamura and Carlson — that there were in fact strong female possibilities for the Cabinet posts, including Michèle Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense, and Lael Brainard, Treasury undersecretary for international affairs. Obama just didn't choose them. . . . "
Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: The Presidential Boys Club.
Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem, CNN: Obama, put a woman in charge of FCC
Viviana Hurtado, Wise Latina Club: President Obama's Missing Latino Senior Administration
Zerlina Maxwell, the Grio: Are there too many white men in the White House?
Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Foes exaggerate Obama's 'war on women'
"Major League Baseball is embarrassed that, in a rare turn of events, no player was elected by baseball writers to the Hall of Fame," the San Jose Mercury News editorialized on Tuesday. "The snub of two of the biggest stars in the game's history — Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens — is a full-blown marketing nightmare highlighting the very worst aspects of the game.
"Good," wrote the Mercury News, which as a Bay Area publication qualifies as one of Bonds' hometown newspapers. Bonds played from 1986 to 2007 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.
On the other hand, Jerome Solomon wrote Wednesday in the Houston Chronicle, ". . . Today's news that none of the eligible players, great players mind you, were deemed good enough by enough voters to have earned Hall of Fame induction tells me that I don't belong in that group. . . ."
On ESPN.com, Howard Bryant disclosed, "I didn't vote for any of the players on this ballot, not Bonds or Clemens, not Mike Piazza or Jeff Bagwell, because the damages to the game were real. . . ."
Peter Botte, Filip Bondy, Bill Madden, John Harper and Roger Rubin, Daily News, New York: Hall of Fame voters from New York Daily News share their votes — and reasons why they voted thay way
Tim Kawakami, Bay Area News Group: Bonds, Clemens, Biggio, etc., shut out of Hall
Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: Baseball Writers are Wrong for Hall Passes
Fred Mitchell, Chicago Tribune: Coming clean would only help Sosa (Jan. 4)
Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Houston Chronicle: It's a shame Biggio, Clemens didn't get in
"The situation involving Robert Griffin III and the most talked about knee injury since Nancy Kerrigan has been closely watched by everyone — especially the NFL Players Association," Mike Freeman wrote Wednesday for CBS Sports.
"What happened with Griffin could be another step toward forcing the NFL to put independent monitors on the sideline to watch for concussed players, something the NFLPA has wanted for a long time."
Meanwhile, sports columnists debated whom to blame for the Washington Redskins quarterback remaining in the game despite his knee injury in Sunday's playoff against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks won, 24-14.
Jason Whitlock wrote for Fox Sports, "More than the health of his knee, more than Mike Shanahan's alleged negligence, here's what concerned me about Robert Griffin's first playoff appearance:
Jason Reid wrote in the Washington Post, ". . . this much is certain: Whenever Griffin returns to the football field, he'll have to change his approach in order to stay on it."
Referring to the Redskins head coach, Reid added, "In his biggest moment of this season, Shanahan dropped the ball. Eventually, Griffin would have gotten over any hurt feelings. Even stars don't always get what they want."
Michael H. Cottman, Black America Web: The Blame Game: RG3's Injury
Steve Kelley, Seattle Times: Seahawks could tell Robert Griffin III wasn't right and took full advantage
John Smallwood, Philadelphia Daily News: Redskins lose game, RGIII
Deron Snyder, Washington Times: RG3, Junior Seau evidence of NFL's negligent culture
For critics, armchair and otherwise, Quentin Tarantino's film "Django Unchained" is the gift that keeps on giving. Along with "Lincoln," the more mainstream 2012 film about the slavery era, "Django" was nominated for an Academy Award this week as Best Picture.
Gene Demby wrote Wednesday for NPR, "These are both movies very much informed by our current moment, but in crucially different ways. For Django, this is mostly stylistic — think Jamie Foxx's sunglasses, Rick Ross rapping over action scenes, and Sam Jackson's thoroughly modern approach to profanity. But Django is deeply invested in portraying the unrelenting ugliness of slavery.
"Lincoln, on the other hand, feels like a reverential look at a crucial moment in our history through a contemporary prism that recognizes that the outcome is never in doubt; it's more 'accurate,' but less alive. It's also much more invested in a mythology that doesn't implicate anyone in that ugliness."
Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote the same day on his Atlantic blog, ". . . I'm not going to see Django. I'm not very interested in watching some black dude slaughter a bunch of white people, so much as I am interested in why that never actually happened, and what that says. I like art that begins in the disturbing truth of things and then proceeds to ask the questions which history can't.
"Among those truths, for me, is the relative lack of appetite for revenge among slaves and freedmen. The great slaughter which white supremacists were always claiming to be around the corner, was never actually in the minds of slaves and freedman. What they wanted most was peace. It's true they had to kill for it. But their general perspective was 'Leave me the fuck alone.' . . . "
Lawrence D. Bobo, The Root: Slavery on Film: Sanitized No More
Leonce Gaiter, HuffPost BlackVoices: It's Absurd to Associate Django Unchained With Black Culture
Doni Glover, bmorenews.com: Has Slave Doll Controversy Entered the New 'Door of No Return'?
Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report: A Real Life Django
Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: 'Django Unchained' was 'appallingly bloody' but 'I really, really enjoyed' the movie
Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Django — An action figure doll?
Thembisa Mshaka blog, The Cold Part About Django Unchained *Spoilers* (Jan. 1)
Gene Seymour, CNN: Why 'Django Unchained' stirs race debate
H. Lewis Smith, Thy Black Man: Django Unchained…We Have a Truth Problem.
"Hugh Grannum wasn't just a photographer," Cassandra Spratling wrote Friday for the Detroit Free Press. "He was an artist with a camera.
"In his 37-plus-year career at the Free Press, he became known for photographs that captured the heart and soul of Detroit and its people.
"In the process, his warm, engaging manner made him a beloved mentor to reporters and photographers who he worked with and a trusted friend and confidant of the private and public figures he photographed.
"Hugh Parker Grannum, 72, died today at Harper Hospital in Detroit of leukemia and complications from a kidney transplant in 2010.
" 'He had a remarkable eye behind the camera,' said former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, who said he had admired Grannum's work long before becoming mayor in 1993. 'He captured people at their best. And he had a way of establishing rapport quickly and easily with people that made you respect the work that he had to do. It was because of Hugh that I started looking under photographs in the paper to see who had taken the picture.'
"Even the late Mayor Coleman Young — no fan of the news media — maintained an open-door policy with Grannum. . . ."
In an all-too-familiar scenario, the site JournalismDegree.org, which describes itself as "an information resource for current and prospective journalism students, as well as professionals," is asking for help in publicizing its "100 Best Sites for Journalists in 2012." None of the 100 addresses diversity issues or people of color.
Christopher Nelson, a freelance multimedia journalist who is communications chair for the National Association of Black Journalists, has been named an assignment editor at NBC News in New York, NABJ announced. NBC spokeswoman Meghan Pianta told Journal-isms Friday by email, "He will be an assignment editor on the overnight shift, with responsibilities that include screening and researching stories for all platforms, and acting as a liaison with the Rights & Clearances, Standards and Legal departments. He'll be responsible for alerting news executives and managers to news that breaks overnight, and will assist in orchestrating coverage, coordinating with regional chiefs and bureau desks if needed, and communicating editorial and logistical information to NBC News entities as stories are breaking and developing."
Cheryl Mayberry McKissack has been named chief operating officer of Johnson Publishing Co., the company announced on Thursday. "In her role, Ms. Mayberry McKissack will be responsible for media sales, marketing, production, operations, and research; she will also assume the role of President of the company’s digital business unit which houses properties including the EBONY Collection, EBONY.com and JET.com. She joins JPC after serving as a digital strategy consultant for the company for the past 18 months" and is the founder, president and CEO of Nia Enterprises, LLC, a Chicago-based online research, marketing, and digital consulting firm she has operated for the past 12 years.
"When then-National Newspaper Publishers Association Chairman Danny Bakewell, Sr. asked me to emcee the Black Press Week luncheon at the National Press Club in 2011, I had no idea that I would be witnessing history," George E. Curry wrote this week for the NNPA News Service. "At the urging of Wilmington [N.C.] Journal Publisher Mary Alice Thatch, the NNPA decided to launch a national campaign to win pardons for the Wilmington 10, a group of activists who were falsely convicted and sentenced to a combined total of 282 years." The Wilmington 10 were pardoned this month. It was "the Black Press at its best," Curry wrote.
"Stephanie Mehta has been promoted from executive editor, technology and Washington coverage, to deputy managing editor of Fortune," Chris O'Shea reported Thursday for FishbowlNY. "Mehta has been with Fortune since 2000, when she joined the magazine as a senior writer. She was bumped up to assistant managing editor in 2008, then executive editor in 2010."
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz-Balart plan to appear at a mixer and membership -recruiting drive in Washington sponsored by the D.C. chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists on Sunday, Jan. 20, the day before President Obama's inauguration. The chapter announced the guests on Thursday, and by Friday reported that based on RSVPs, attendance had reached capacity.
Bobby Caina Calvan, a Boston Globe congressional writer who has filled in as a White House pool reporter, is Betsy Rothstein's latest interviewee for FishbowlDC. Asked whether he has ever had a near-death experience, Calvan related, "Happened during a rafting excursion on the Pano River, near the Ecuadorean town of Tena. Our raft slammed into a boulder and capsized. . . . " Calva is active in the media watch efforts of the Asian American Journalists Association.
"Where are Britain's black journalists?" asks the headline over a piece Thursday in Britain's Guardian newspaper by Anne Alexander, who describes herself as of "African-Caribbean origin." Alexander writes that black reporters were so rare that a politician showing around a new staff member introduced white reporters by their media affiliations but assumed that Alexander was their personal assistant and introduced her that way.
On Thursday, American journalist Paul Salopek "departed a small Ethiopian village and took the first steps of a planned 21,000-mile (34,000-kilometer) walk that will cross some 30 borders, where he will encounter dozens of languages and scores of ethnic groups," Jason Straziuso reported Thursday for the Associated Press. "The 50-year-old's quest is to retrace man's first migration from Africa across the world in a go-slow journey that will force him to immerse himself in a variety of cultures so he can tell a global mosaic of people stories. . . ." The trip is sponsored by National Geographic, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.