Jordan Davis
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Jury Weighs 'Loud-Music' Killing: 'Florida Again, Seriously?!'

Media Await Verdict in Death of Teenager Jordan Davis

"In the national coverage of the first-degree murder case of Michael David Dunn, Jacksonville itself hasn't really been a focus of the story," Matt Soergel wrote this week for the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.


"Instead, attention has been squarely on larger targets—the state of Florida, its stand-your-ground law and the case's echoes of George Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford in 2012.

"Typical was a CNN headline last week: 'The Next Trayvon Martin Case? Another dead teenager in Florida, another controversial self-defense case.'

"Stories also have taken note that State Attorney [Angela] Corey, whose office is in Jacksonville, headed the prosecution in each case.

"Dunn, from Satellite Beach, is a 47-year-old accused of killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis during a dispute over loud hip-hop music in a convenience-store parking lot.


"His trial is among the high-profile criminal cases in Florida that have helped create, for some, an unsavory image of the state, as seen in the comments section of a story on the HLN network's web page:

" 'Florida again, seriously?! … Florida needs to be snapped off of the rest of the country and allowed to float out to sea, there's something wrong with the water over there!!'


"HLN, formerly known as Headline News, has been all over the trial, which is tailor-made for its emphasis on crime-related stories. . . ."

Derek Kinner wrote Wednesday for the Associated Press, "The jurors asked to go home three hours into their deliberations Wednesday night. Earlier, they had asked to see a convenience store security video that captured sounds of the gunshots, but said they wanted to watch the video on Thursday. . . ."


Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: 'In God We Trust — but We Have Put Our Faith in Our Guns' (Feb. 3)

JET: Jordan Davis (1995-2012) (Jan. 2, 2013) (news release)

Joshua DuBois, Daily Beast: From Emmett Till to Jordan Davis, a Foolish, Lethal Fear of Black Teens


Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Man had no right to confront teens blasting music

Mark O'Mara, Florida Times-Union: Waiting for the verdict

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Who's the real thug in the killing of Jordan Davis?


Goldie Taylor, the Grio: Michael Dunn testimony in Jordan Davis trial speaks volumes

Tonyaa Weathersbee, The Root: How Keeping Our Sons Safe Makes It OK for Whites to Be Racists


International Agencies Failing to Protect Journalists

"Umar Cheema, a Pakistani journalist, wrote often about the military. Then one night masked men hauled him from his car and during six hours of torture, sexual humiliation, and threats, they made it clear that the reporting should stop," Rob Mahoney wrote for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Cheema not only refused to stop writing, he went public with his ordeal. 'I wanted to send a message that I had not cowed down,' Cheema said of his response to the 2010 assault. 'I did nothing wrong, and that kept me strong.' The Committee to Protect Journalists awarded him its International Press Freedom Award in 2011.


"The assault spurred him on to do more reporting, and, in December 2012, he launched the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan. To mark the opening, he published a list of members of Parliament who paid no taxes and ignited a political firestorm. Despite his success in unearthing wrongdoing and corruption — some might even say because of it — Cheema has few powerful domestic allies or financial backers to develop his work.

"There are Umar Cheemas in most countries, ferreting out land titles, company accounts, and public records, in an effort to hold governments and businesses accountable and serve the public interest. But many are under-funded and exposed. They are harassed, threatened, or lose their jobs. An increasing number are imprisoned, and many are simply murdered.


"Their work and the broader role of journalists and media organizations as a voice for the poor and powerless, a provider of information and ideas, a forum for politics and culture, and an engine of change is acknowledged by economists and political scientists as vital to economic development and democracy.

"But multilateral institutions from the United Nations to the World Bank, along with individual Western donor nations and agencies, have a mixed record in providing the sustained support, protection, and investment that journalists in repressive or impoverished countries or regions require. . . ."


The Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday in a news release, "Digital surveillance, the unchecked murder of journalists, and indirect commercial and political pressures on the media are three of the primary threats to press freedom highlighted in the Committee to Protect Journalists annual assessment, Attacks on the Press, released today.

" 'The primary battlegrounds for press freedom used to be contained within the borders of authoritarian states. While those battles continue, new technologies have made it possible to realize the right to freedom of expression regardless of frontiers,' said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. 'Attacks on the Press describes the threats and explores strategies to safeguard the free flow information.'


"Three pieces in this year's Attacks, including a foreword to the print edition by Jacob Weisberg, analyze the damaging effects to press freedom caused by the U.S. mass surveillance programs. Governments' capacity to store transactional data and the content of communications undermines journalists' ability to protect sources. The scope of the NSA's digital spying raises doubts about the U.S. commitment to freedom of expression and strengthens the hand of China and other restrictive nations in their calls for more government control over the Internet. . . ."

Also on Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders released its 2014 Press Freedom Index. It reported "major declines in media freedom in such varied countries as the United States, Central African Republic and Guatemala and, on the other hand, marked improvements in Ecuador, Bolivia and South Africa. . . ."


The United States fell 13 places on the index and the United Kingdom three. "In the United States (46th, -13), the hunt for leaks and whistleblowers serves as a warning to those thinking of satisfying a public interest need for information about the imperial prerogatives assumed by the world's leading power. The United Kingdom (33rd, -3) has followed in the US wake, distinguishing itself by its harassment of The Guardian," the report said.

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information: Sudan: Journalists Still Prosecuted Due to a News Story About Al Gazira Governor's Health State


Max Fisher, Washington Post: Is U.S. press freedom really ‘plummeting’? Not if you look at the data.

Geoffrey King, Committee to Protect Journalists: The NSA Puts Journalists Under a Cloud of Suspicion


Lauren Kirchner, Columbia Journalism Review: Digital security covering the Olympics: How reporters covering the Games are — or aren’t — protecting their stuff

Austin Ramzy, New York Times: Free Press Groups Warn of China’s Influence on Hong Kong and Taiwan Media


Joel Simon, Committee to Protect Journalists: How the United States' Spying Strengthens China's Hand

Craig Timberg, Washington Post: Foreign regimes use spyware against journalists, even in U.S.


Shabelle Media Network, Mogadishu: Africa: Wars and Terrorist Threats Weaken Media Africa

Writers Say Race Complexities Can Affect Sense of Self

"It's an odd feeling, as an adult, to look at a photo of your parents and feel perplexed by it," Noah Cho wrote last week for NPR's "Code Switch" blog. "As a young child, I believed that most sets of parents looked like mine—a Korean man, a white woman — and it never registered to me that other parents looked different, or that their love could be something culturally undesirable.


"But as I have moved through 32 years of looking at myself in the mirror, a time in which the vast majority of interracial couples I have known have looked nothing like my parents, I have come to see their love as something rare. Most men in interracial couples I have encountered do not look like my dad. They do not have his skin tone, or his combination of dark hair and dark eyes. My mom often tells me stories about when she began dating my father in suburban New Jersey in the 1970s, and I could only infer from her stories that her predominantly white community felt confused and unsure why a white woman would find an Asian man attractive.

"I learned, slowly, painfully, over the course of my life that most people shared the opinion of my mother's community. I know this, because I look like my father. . . ."


Cho, a Bay Area junior high school teacher who writes about film for Hyphen magazine, appeared Wednesday on NPR's "Tell Me More."

Cho's was not the only recent piece on the complexities of race. Rebecca Carroll, managing editor of and a former editor of HuffPost BlackVoices, posted Friday on under the headline, "Dear White Friends Who Are Upset By The Way I Write About Race."


"As most people who know me already know, I was raised in a white family and grew up in an almost entirely white environment throughout my teen years. Subsequently, and because I place a high premium on friendship and loyalty, that means I have a disproportionate amount of white friends from my youth.

"It also means that sometimes these white friends from my youth lay claim to feelings of alienation at my admittedly somewhat intransigent efforts at forging racial awareness and encouraging a more inclusive, far-reaching cultural dialogue. . . ."


The two pieces were published as others contemplated Black History Month.

James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Can we talk about race? (Feb. 4)

Felix Contreras, NPR "Code Switch": Ringing In Black History Month With Latin Music


Mary-Alice Daniel, Salon: The history white people need to learn

Gene Demby, NPR "Code Switch": George Washington Carver, The Black History Monthiest Of Them All


John W. Fountain, Chicago Sun-Times: How society offends black women

Michaela Pereira, Essence: Share: Getting to the Root of It

Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Who will step up to inspire the Wright museum's salvation?


Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: Black History Month should be embraced, not begrudged

Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: School's racially themed meal dumb, but there are bigger things to worry about


Goldie Taylor, the Grio: I hate Black History Month (Feb. 2)

ReBecca Theodore-Vachon, Hello Beautiful:  'YELLOW': New Web Series Explores The Challenges Of Light Skinned Black Men (Feb. 1) (video)


Shankar Vedantam, NPR: Study: Stereotypes Drive Perceptions Of Race

DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: Do you know when slavery began and ended?

Michael Paul Williams, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch: A lesson about history and hope


Erikka Yancy, Alternative Black History: Negroes With Guns

Art Fennell Exit, Chris Peña Return Mark Media Moves

"By now many of you have no doubt heard that after more than a thousand shows on the air, 'Art Fennell Report' has been cancelled!" Fennell, a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, wrote Wednesday to Facebook followers. "For those of you who are familiar with the show and for the hundreds of guests who have been featured on it, you know that my report was a candid and interactive look at not only stories in the news, but the stories behind the story. . . ." Manuel McDonnell Smith of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists covered the story.


These other personnel moves were announced this week:

"Chris Peña joins msnbc as Senior Executive Producer, Weekends!" Yvette Miley, MSNBC executive editor and senior vice president, announced in a memo to staffers on Tuesday. "He most recently was the Executive Editor of Chris led all aspects of the business, from P&L [profit and loss] to operations, staffing & hiring, editorial direction and oversight of sales and marketing. . . ."


Michael Luo, most recently an investigative reporter at the New York Times, has been promoted to deputy metro editor, Chris O'Shea reported Monday for FishbowlNY. Luo has been at the Times since 2003.

Polo Sandoval will join CNN Newsource as a national correspondent based in Washington, CNN announced on Tuesday. Sandoval was the chief of the Hidalgo County Border Bureau for KRGV-ABC in Texas. The announcement also said, "CNN Newsource, [comprising] more than 800 affiliates including TV stations and local/regional cable news channels throughout North America, is the most widely distributed syndicated news service. . . ."


Correspondent Alina Machado will be based in Miami for CNN, the network announced Tuesday. "Since joining CNN last year, the Miami native has covered the chemical leak that tainted the water supply in parts of West Virginia; George Zimmerman's trial and his brushes with the law since; and the investigation of the Mississippi ricin letters case, which were sent to officials including President Obama. . . . "

Devjyot Ghoshal, Anand Katakam, Iva Dixit, Indrani Basu, Rishi Iyengar and Aparna Alluri, Columbia Journalism students of Indian heritage, have created to focus on their homeland's next national general election, Richard Horgan reported Wednesday for FishbowlNY.


"Roberto Lacayo has been hired at NY1 Noticias as its new Executive Editor. He starts the new job on March 3," Veronica Villafañe reported Wednesday for her Media Moves site.

"Darren Haynes will join ESPN beginning Monday, Feb. 24, as a studio anchor, appearing on various shows across several ESPN platforms," ESPN announced Wednesday. "Prior to joining ESPN, Haynes was sports anchor/reporter for Al Jazeera-America in New York (September-November 2013) . . ."


Lemon Not Surprised by Jackson-Fishburne Confusion

"CNN's Don Lemon said he wasn't surprised that LA entertainment reporter Sam Rubin confused Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne during a live interview,' reported Wednesday.


" 'I'm probably going to get in trouble here—people do look alike!' he said. 'There are features that African Americans have that are similar, there are features that white people have that are similar, there are features that Hispanic people have that are similar.'

"He described to CNN's Erin Burnett how he himself has been mistaken for former CNN anchor [T.J.] Holmes several times. . . ."


Matt Wilstein, Mediaite: Don Lemon Proves People Are 'Really Sensitive' About Race with One Epic CNN Shout-Fest

5 Things Not to Say About Michael Sam Coming Out Story

After Missouri defensive end Michael Sam's announcement Sunday that made him the first openly gay participant in the NFL draft, Tony Jovenitti, a hockey writer and member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, listed "five things that you should never say when you’re talking about this story."


They are:

1. " 'This shouldn’t be news.' . . .

2. " 'I don’t care if he's gay, but why does he have to announce it?' . . .

3. " 'I don’t care about what he does in the bedroom.' . . .

4. " 'But won't that make his teammates uncomfortable?' . . .

5. " 'What if he checks out teammates in the showers?' . . ."

Sharif Durhams, treasurer of NLGJA, recommended Jovenitti's piece in a short essay on the NLGJA website.


Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: The NFL Will Never Be 'Ready' for an Openly Gay Player

DJ Dunson, the Shadow League: Will Michael Sam Be An NFL Outlier Or Open The Floodgates?


Arturo R. García, Racialicious: Open Thread: The Presentation of Michael Sam

Dale Hansen, WFAA-TV, Dallas: Hansen Unplugged: Celebrating our differences

Josmar Trujillo, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Michael Sam and the NFL's LGBT Makeover


Cyd Zeigler, "The Eagle has Landed"

Health Care Reporters 'Have Forgotten' Who's Uninsured

"When it comes to summarizing the key findings of the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, this Washington Post headline neatly does the job: 'Americans don't know what's in Obamacare, do know they don't like it.' Trudy Lieberman wrote Wednesday for Columbia Journalism Review.


Lieberman also quoted Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, who said, "Media coverage has been vulnerable to death by anecdote from the start."

"I've written plenty about that, including identifying six questions reporters should ask before using an Obamacare anecdote," Lieberman continued.


"Obamacare, Altman said, 'is in large part a program for low income people who are not conversant with the principles of insurance.' When you consider that this group — the uninsured — likely knows little about the interplay of deductibles, coinsurance, copays, and premiums, the Kaiser numbers make some sense. 'The social mission of the law is the uninsured,' Altman said. 'We have forgotten who the uninsured are.' Reporters included.

"Consider how few good stories there have been on Medicaid, particularly stories focused on the poorest Americans left out of the expansion. . . ."


Compensating for 'Parachute Journalism' on Other Cultures

Journalists who parachute into foreign countries to cover global health and human rights issues are susceptible to a "culture gap" they might not realize, Jill Filipovic wrote Wednesday for Columbia Journalism Review.


That culture gap "is the new normal. With global health and human rights coverage increasingly funded by foundations that organize reporting trips, Western journalists who don't understand the nuances of a place are parachuting in for a week, charged with covering some of the most complex and distressing aspects of human existence," Filipovic wrote.

"These trips are invaluable resources, and global health reporting would simply not have the reach it does without them. But this setup also has many potential pitfalls that can prevent well-meaning reporters from accurately conveying the subtleties of their sources' experience, and it's our professional obligation to address them. Admitting our own fallibilities can be terrifying, but remaining alert and self-aware can help mitigate the problem.


Filipovic also wrote, " 'One mistake I kept seeing people make is starting interviews with the answers they're hoping for,' says Sarika Bansal, a freelance reporter focused on global health, and who has been on five international reporting trips in the past two years. 'For example, starting with, "Do you breastfeed your child exclusively?" People know what the right answer is. There’s a real danger with the people you're interviewing answering the way they know the journalist wants them to, instead of feeling like they're being really honestly engaged with.'

"On organized reporting trips, arranged sources often see you not just as a journalist asking questions, but as an extension of the organization funding valuable services and programs. There's often a desire to give the 'right' answer in order to show that the program is working, and that more funding is needed. Directing a question toward a particular answer — 'Do you breastfeed your child exclusively?' versus 'How do you feed your child?' — unintentionally guides your source into offering what they think you want to hear.


"Think not only about the sources you speak to, but how those sources got to you, and who you're not talking to, especially when you're speaking with sources pre-selected by the foundations and nonprofits underwriting the trip. . . ."

Short Takes

Emmis Communications Corp. announced Tuesday it had "reached an agreement with YMF Media to purchase urban adult contemporary WBLS 107.5 FM, the No. 2 radio station in New York, and its sister station, WLIB 1190 AM, NY's first African-American targeted station offering an urban gospel format, for $131 million in cash." Emmis already owns WQHT, HOT 97 in New York. WBLS was acquired in 2012 by YMF Partners after its parent company Inner City Broadcasting Corp., a storied black-owned radio company, went into bankruptcy.


"CBS News Cultural Correspondent and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis will host the premiere of 48 HOURS PRESENTS: 'The Whole Gritty City,' a poignant, feature-length documentary about the power of music and how it can transform — and even save — young lives," to be broadcast Saturday (9 p.m. ET/PT) on CBS, the network announces. "The raw, un-narrated film goes behind the scenes with three dedicated New Orleans marching band directors. Their goal is to prepare students to march in Mardi Gras parades, but the real lesson they teach is survival in a city with one of the highest murder rates in the country. . . ."

"Soledad O'Brien's production company is teaming up with Google as she prepares for her first speaking tour, the former CNN host told the Huffington Post Wednesday," Catherine Taibi reported for the Huffington Post. "Google will expand O'Brien's Starfish Media Group using Google+'s Hangouts, Google Apps for Business and by creating a YouTube channel to allow the company to reach a broader audience. The search giant will also sponsor the 'Soledad O’Brien Presents Black in America' speaking tour beginning February 17th, where she will travel to college campuses and art centers in five cities to engage a larger audience in conversations about social change. . . ."


"William F. Greer, a former University of Arizona journalism professor and Associated Press editor, died Saturday in San Diego," Veronica M. Cruz reported Monday for the Arizona Daily Star. "Greer was 68." Cruz also wrote, "Greer joined the School of Journalism in 1980 and, along with teaching photojournalism, he was adviser for the student-run The Tombstone Epitaph and focused on the school's diversity efforts. He recruited, advised and mentored students from diverse backgrounds and was head of the school’s annual Journalism Diversity Workshop for Arizona High School Students for many years. He retired in 2008. . . ."

"It's not every day that a late-night talk show host's joke becomes a matter of international relations — or the subject of a lawsuit," Sergio Bichao reported Monday for the Courier News and Home News Tribune in Somerville, N.J. "But an Edison resident is taking ABC host Jimmy Kimmel and the network's parent company, Disney, to court over a skit in which a 6-year-old boy suggested killing everyone in China as a solution to the U.S. debt problem. . . ."


"Over the next year, Fox News Latino's goal is to increase video production," Merrill Knox reported Wednesday for TVNewser. "A new Nielsen report finds Hispanics are 'ahead of the digital curve,' noting they adopt smartphones at a higher rate than any other group and watch more hours of online videos on their phones than the average American. . . ."

"There's a good old-fashioned muckraker's war going on in Richmond, Calif., and Chevron's 'community-driven' news site Richmond Standard is the latest fighter to step into the ring," Sukey Lewis and Asha Dumonthier reported Wednesday for New American Media. "This sprawling city east of San Francisco is home to Chevron's oil refinery, which has made it a battleground between the company's business interests and environmental activists who are calling for checks on air quality and safety. Now, as part of the company's latest effort to rehabilitate its image in the city, Chevron is launching its own community news site. . . ."


"Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Brad Smith's interests are not relegated solely to the football field," Aneya Fernando reported Monday for FishbowlNY. "It turns out Smith is actually a burgeoning player in the world of fashion. After completing a Fashion Week internship at Men’s Health, reporting to fashion director Brian Boye, Smith was inspired to help emerging designers. The result was his Design for Brad Smith competition, held in partnership with the magazine. The winner, Kassie Haji, was announced on Friday at Windsor Custom at The Ainsworth in New York. . . ."

April Simpson, a South Florida-based freelance journalist who went to Central Africa on a fellowship from the International Women's Media Foundation, reported back Friday under the headline "Central Africa's Ecotourism Set To Rebound Though Lingering Conflicts, Proposed Oil Drilling Endanger Gorillas." The story was datelined Rumangabo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and appeared in International Business Times.


"Police in Brazil have arrested the main suspect in the death of Brazilian television cameraman Santiago Andrade," the BBC reported Wednesday. "Mr Andrade was fatally injured when a flare exploded next to his head during clashes between police and protesters in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday. Doctors declared Mr Andrade brain dead on Monday and his employer has since said that he died shortly afterwards. The suspect is accused of throwing the flare which hit Mr Andrade. He is the second man to be arrested in the case. . . ."

"A Mexican official says authorities have found the body of a reporter who was kidnapped last week from his home in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz," Rodrigo Soberanes Santin reported Tuesday for the Associated Press. "The official says Gregorio Jimenez's corpse was found Tuesday with two other bodies in the town of Las Choapas. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he isn't allowed to discuss an investigation that's in progress. Jimenez's wife told police at least five masked gunmen broke into their home in the city of Coatzacoalcos last Wednesday, dragged him out and drove him away in an SUV. Jimenez worked for the newspapers Notisur and El Liberal and had recently published a story about a wave of kidnappings. . . ."


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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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