Michelle Obama: The Camera Loves Her

First lady Michelle Obama
The White House/Getty Images

Unbroken String of Successful Magazine Images

"Michelle Obama has become a top magazine cover celebrity, arguably the top celebrity in terms of breadth and frequency of appearance," Robert Newman wrote last week for Folio:, which covers the magazine industry.


"I can't think of anyone else who makes such a stylish splash every time she appears on a cover, and who also appears on so many different types of covers. I'm sure Baby Boomers who still adore Jackie Kennedy will disagree, but for my money Obama is by far the all-time leading First Lady in terms of iconic magazine cover appearances."

Newman, most recently creative director of Reader's Digest, was analyzing the Obama portrait on the cover of the August issue of Essence.


He also wrote, "I was part of a team that photographed her for the cover of Reader's Digest back in 2011. I've talked with a number of art directors who have photographed her for covers, and their experience seems to be universal. You get the option of setting up in a handful of rooms in the White House, including the First Lady's office.

"There's no advance notice of what she is going to wear, and her personal team handles her styling and makeup. No one gets more than a half hour with her (and often less). In fact, during the Reader's Digest shoot I kept a stopwatch running on my phone that I kept flashing at her assistant every time they tried to wrap up the shoot before our promised half hour.


"Still, within those parameters she's a gracious, cooperative subject who definitely knows how to work the camera and create brilliant cover images. That's one of the big reasons she's had so many smart and diverse magazine cover shoots. Obama's list of magazine covers in the past five years includes Vogue (twice), People, Reader's Digest, Parade, Parents, Good Housekeeping, AARP, Condé Nast Traveler, More, Glamour, Ladies' Home Journal, Prevention, Ebony and Better Homes and Gardens. The list is nearly endless. She's even been illustrated on the cover of The New Yorker. And she rarely seems to repeat the same clothing designer, which is quite a feat! "

Newman also wrote, "Obama has mastered the art of creating iconic magazine cover images. There's not another person in politics who conveys such a sense of power, style, grace, beauty, intelligence and sex appeal, except of course, her husband Barack. While Barack Obama, as with other Presidents, has aged considerably with the job, Michelle looks even better and more energetic than she did in 2008. I would go so far as to say that I don't see any celebrities of any kind who have been able to create such a powerful set of cover images in such a short period of time.


"Obama has dozens of solo magazine covers to her credit, and that doesn't even include the ones she's been on with Barack, or teamed up with other people, including her mother and Jill Biden. Even more impressive is that this unbroken string of successful covers has come during a time of fierce and heated political opposition to the politics of the Obama Administration, and by extension, to Michelle Obama. This cover shows, once again, that no one commands a magazine cover like Michelle Obama."

Israelis Take Out Frustration on Foreign Correspondents

"As the death toll mounts and passions spike, the Foreign Press Association in Israel condemned on Wednesday what it called 'deliberate official and unofficial incitement against journalists' who are reporting on the fighting in Gaza," Robert Mackey reported Wednesday for the New York Times. "That includes 'forcible attempts to prevent journalists and TV crews from carrying out their news assignments,' the association said.


"The statement was released as some Israelis, apparently incensed by what they see as reporting on the Israeli offensive in Gaza that is overly sympathetic to Palestinians, have started to take their frustration out directly on foreign correspondents.

"One example cited by the press association was an assault Tuesday on a reporter for BBC Arabic, Firas Khatib, who was shoved during a live report from the city of Ashkelon, a frequent target of rockets fired from Gaza.


"The irate Israeli man who burst into the live shot called Mr. Khatib a 'son of a whore' during the assault. A BBC spokesman said in an email, 'Firas was unharmed and will continue reporting as normal.' . . ."

Israel, Hamas Jostle to Control Social Media Narrative

"Within minutes, videos from the front lines in Gaza have made it onto Facebook . . . and Twitter . . . streams shared around the world, with Israel and Hamas jostling to control the conflict's social narrative," Orr Hirschauge, Nicholas Casey and Lisa Fleisher wrote Wednesday for the Wall Street Journal.


"Both sides have long used media — and in recent conflicts, social media — in increasingly sophisticated [ways] as part of a strategy to sway outside opinion. In the current conflict, Israel is using a ballooning staff of professional public-relations officers skilled in social media and a near-real-time war zone video center. The Israeli Defense Force's main Twitter account has more than 327,000 followers.

"Hamas has been honing its own message on Twitter, while increasingly bringing responsibility for the effort in-house, instead of relying on outside activist groups to get its message across. Both the military and political arms of the organization operate accounts. The Arabic account of the military arm has attracted more than 58,000 followers.


"The group has also learned some of the flexibility that goes along with social campaigns. In one well-publicized instance, an Israeli woman responded to a Hamas tweet in Hebrew, correcting its grammar. Hamas wrote back to explain how the mistake was made and thanked her. Hamas now posts reports of civilian casualties on Web pages, Twitter and Facebook pages in English, Arabic and Hebrew.

" 'It's not just about taking pictures of dead people,' said [Ihab al-Ghussein], a longtime Hamas member and now a spokesman in the Gaza government. 'We're now telling [the story of] this family, and how they were eating breakfast when they were killed.'


"The conflict has rivaled the World Cup for traffic on Twitter, according to statistics from Twtrland, an Israel-based startup . . ."

Michael Arceneaux, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Why African Americans Should Care About Pro-Israeli Media Bias


Kristian Davis Bailey, Ebony: "This Is Indeed a Massacre": Palestinians in Gaza Respond to Siege

Michael Calderone, Huffington Post: Al Jazeera Holds Israel Responsible For Shots Fired At Gaza Office


Jordan Chariton, TVNewser: MSNBC Responds to Rula Jebreal's Claims of Cancellations, Uncertain Contract Status

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Is the current fight between Israel and Palestinians our first Twitter war?


"Democracy Now!" Pacifica Radio: MSNBC's Sole Palestinian Voice Rula Jebreal Takes on Pro-Israeli Gov't Bias at Network & in US Media

Adrian Finighan, Al Jazeera: Gaza and Israel: War of the hashtags (audio)

Fox News Latino with Associated Press: Gaza Strip Attacks By Israel Draw Condemnation From Latin American Nations


Rick Horowitz, Huffington Post: Israel and Gaza: The Boys on the Beach. 

International Federation of Journalists: Attacks Against Media in Gaza Must End Now, says IFJ


Deepa Kumar, Salon: "The more the dead, the better": Israel’s crumbling media war

Neil Lewis, Columbia Journalism Review: From the archives: The Times and the Jews


Jack Mirkinson, Huffington Post: How Social Media Has Changed The Press Coverage Of Israel-Palestine

Joe Pompeo, Capital New York: Times defends its Gaza coverage

Jodi Rudoren, New York Times: In Gaza, Epithets Are Fired and Euphemisms Give Shelter


Anchor Swims Rio Grande to Make Immigration Point

"Television news anchor Jorge Ramos has a well-documented talent for cutting through the clutter — and for luring the spotlight to his handsome, silver-haired, voluble self," Lloyd Grove wrote Tuesday for the Daily Beast.


"So it's hardly surprising that on tonight's installment of America with Jorge Ramos — his 10 p.m. weeknight program on the eight-month-old Fusion cable channel, a joint venture of ABC News and Univision, where he also co-anchors the Spanish-language nightly news and hosts a Sunday public affairs program — he'll be shown swimming the muddy, sewage- and garbage-filled Rio Grande between the Texas city of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo on the Mexican side.

" 'This is a crisis that won't go away,' Ramos told The Daily Beast, explaining why he took the plunge to bring attention to the issue of immigration reform and the thousands of unaccompanied Central American children who've been making their away across the United States border with Mexico, often at night in the turbid river, where 33 people have drowned since October. 'Eventually we will find out who shot down the plane. Eventually — there's no doubt about it — there has to be a truce between the Palestinians and Israelis. But the immigration crisis will stay with us."


The stunt did not meet with unanimous acclaim. "Rebeldes" wrote Wednesday for the Latino Rebels site under the headline, "We Watched Jorge Ramos Swim Across Río Grande & We Still Don't Get Why He Did It." The critique said, "The whole segment felt wrong and unnecessary. It belittled the harrowing experiences migrants —especially young migrants from Central America— face every day. . . ."

Mike Allison, Central American Politics: A closer look at what's driving Central American unaccompanied minors northward


Emily Arrowood, Media Matters for America: Fox & Friends Seems Concerned That Emergency Services Respond To 911 Calls From Non-Citizens

Associated Press: Illegal Immigration Numbers Are Still Low Despite Crisis At The Border


John Burnett, NPR: Amid Wave Of Child Immigrants, Reports Of Abuse By Border Patrol [July 24]

Lee A. Daniels, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Haven't I Seen These People Before?


Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star: Unbound, a Kansas City, Kan., anti-poverty organization, may hold the key to the U.S. border crisis

Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: The National Guard is needed for borders both near and far


Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Rick Perry's contradiction

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Rick Perry's border campaign — for president?

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Sad state of our politics on full display

Jorge Ramos commentary, Fusion: 'No Government Should be in the Business of Deporting Children'


Rick Sanchez, Fox News Channel: Our Real Border Problem Is Not On The Border

Luis Serrano, Huffington Post: An Open Letter to Jose Antonio Vargas

Race and Policing, Urban Violence Endure as Issues

"The past few days have brought a whole lot of important (and pretty sobering) news around race and policing," Gene Demby wrote Wednesday for NPR's "Code Switch" blog.


"Here are some of the biggest stories that have landed on our radar.

"Three-quarters of all stops by Newark police deemed unconstitutional.

"The tensions between residents and the police in Newark, N.J., are long-running. Like a bunch of other big cities in New Jersey, Newark has laid off a big chunk of its police force in recent years, and violent crimes, like carjackings, have been climbing. Some police say they are overworked. But many civilians have complained that they are regularly subjected to police harassment and mistreatment. . . .


"A video of a fatal encounter goes viral and inflames old tensions

"A seven-minute video that captured the death of Eric Garner, a New York City man who died after a confrontation with the police, was wildly shared over the Internet over the past week, and reignited old debates about race and police brutality in the city.


"The cellphone video, which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, shows Garner arguing with police officers. One of the officers who attempted to subdue Garner appeared to put him in a chokehold, before several other officers wrestled Garner to the ground. Garner can be heard yelling, ''I can't breathe!' over and over, before he eventually falls silent. (You can see the video of the encounter here. Fair warning: It is very disturbing.) . . .

"Study finds federal 'fake' anti-drug ratings focus on minorities . . ."

Meanwhile, media outlets began to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the racial rioting of 1964, set off in many cases by clashes with the police. Riot locations included New York; Philadelphia; Rochester, N.Y.; Elizabeth, Paterson and Jersey City, N.J.; the Chicago suburb of Dixmoor, Ill.; and Philadelphia.


James Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The chokehold by police should be outlawed

Jean McGianni Celestin, The Root: 'I'm Terrified of Dying Like Eric Garner' 

Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Was Eric Garner's Death An Accident…Or a Murder?


James Goodman, Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, N.Y.: 1964 riots revisited: 3 days that shook Rochester

Emil Guillermo, Huffington Post: After the News, the Solo Show: A Local San Francisco Murder Inspires an Artistic Response


Damon Hart, Huffington Post: Eric Garner Could Have Been Me

Eugene Kane, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Claude Motley's story of coming home to a city he doesn't recognize


Don Lemon, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Don Lemon Says It's Time To Have A Come To Jesus With The NYPD Over Choking Death

Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: It might be time for the mayor to call in the State Police or National Guard


Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Let's treat gun safety as a public health issue

Harry Siegel, Daily News, New York: Eric Garner: Citizen or skell?

Hansi Lo Wang, NPR "Code Switch": New York's 'Night Of Birmingham Horror' Sparked A Summer Of Riots


Kenneth B. Noble, Former N.Y. Times Reporter, Dies at 60

"Kenneth B. Noble, a New York Times reporter who covered business and finance in Washington and civil war in Africa, and who headed the newspaper’s Los Angeles bureau during the O. J. Simpson trial, died on Thursday in Gainesville, Fla.," Paul Vitello reported Wednesday for the New York Times. "He was 60.


"The cause was congestive heart failure, his wife, Dr. Lorna McFarland, said. Noble told Journal-isms a year ago that he had been diagnosed with terminal heart problems.

"Mr. Noble graduated from Yale in 1975 and from the University of Southern California Law School in 1979, but he had no journalism experience when he was selected by The Times in 1980 to be trained in its minority internship program.


"After two years in the New York headquarters, Mr. Noble was sent to Washington, where he covered financial and economic news and soon developed a specialty in articles on finance and law. He wrote about commodities fraud, insider trading and the savings and loan crisis, and about the government regulators who caught — or had overlooked — the wrongdoing.

"Mr. Noble, who had attended a segregated grade school in Gainesville, Fla., told family and friends that the most deeply affecting assignment of his career was the Africa beat. As head of the West Africa bureau of The Times from 1989 to 1994, he covered the two dozen countries along the continent's west coast, including Ghana, the country from which he believed his ancestors were probably taken by slave traders in the 18th or 19th century. . . ."


"After leaving The Times in 1997, Mr. Noble taught journalism at the University of Southern California and at the University of California, Berkeley. About four years ago, he returned to Gainesville from Los Angeles, where he had lived for many years. . . ."

Richard Carnell, a childhood friend, told Journal-isms by telephone that there likely would not be a memorial service until Noble's son Eric, who is leaving for South Africa, returns in a year. However, condolences may be sent to Noble's wife, Dr. Lorna McFarland, at her office, 2840 Long Beach Blvd., Suite 315, Long Beach, CA 90806.


Twitter Joins in Disclosing Low Numbers of Blacks, Latinos

"Twitter on Wednesday joined a growing number of technology companies in upping transparency and issuing a diversity report on employees," Nick Statt reported Wednesday for CNET. "The outlook: predominantly white males, as to be expected in an industry grappling with deeply rooted gender and ethnicity imbalances.


"Twitter is 70 percent male overall, yet 90 percent of 'tech' jobs are filled by males. The male-female split for non-tech jobs is 50-50. Twitter leadership is 79 percent male.

"By tech jobs, Twitter is referring mostly to engineering, while non-tech jobs refer to marketing and public relations, human resources, sales, and other roles not requiring traditional computer science skills or programming chops.


"As for ethnicity breakdown, Twitter is mostly white and Asian, at 59 percent and 29 percent respectively. That ratio is mirrored across tech, non-tech, and leadership roles almost uniformly. Hispanic and Latino employees make up only three percent of Twitter's workforce and for black employees, only two percent."

On Thursday, ColorOfChange.org, which calls itself the nation’s largest online civil rights group, joined with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to demand that Twitter publicly disclose its demographic data and hold a forum to discuss Silicon Valley's diversity problem.


Janet Van Huysse, Twitter's vice president of diversity and inclusion, wrote Wednesday, "We are keenly aware that Twitter is part of an industry that is marked by dramatic imbalances in diversity — and we are no exception. By becoming more transparent with our employee data, open in dialogue throughout the company and rigorous in our recruiting, hiring and promotion practices, we are making diversity an important business issue for ourselves.' . . ."

Meanwhile, Andrew Zaleski wrote Tuesday for Fortune about Code2040, a program in which forging connections between college undergrads and Silicon Valley tech firms is central to its mission.


Zaleski cited one key reason: "To even be considered for its summer fellowship program, a student must be black or Hispanic, two demographics vastly underrepresented in the high-tech industry. . . ."

Photographer's Forceful Images Prompt Internet Rage

"Brenda Ann Kenneally is a documentary photographer who works in depressed urban environments, often photographing their residents repeatedly over a period of many years," Anna Altman wrote Monday in the New York Times. " 'Upstate Girls,' her most recent project, began in 2003 when Ms. Kenneally met a teenager named Kayla in Troy, N.Y. Kayla was fourteen and pregnant and asked Ms. Kenneally if she wanted to photograph her child's delivery.


"Ms. Kenneally said yes. She then spent the next ten years taking pictures of Kayla, her children, her lovers, and the loose network of family that connected them. . . ."

Altman also wrote, "Last week, Slate's Jordan G. Teicher featured nine of the photographs from 'Upstate Girls' in a post initially titled 'Life Below the Poverty Line, Troy, N.Y.' In one, a child holds out a bottle to be filled with coffee; in another, an overweight boy lies shirtless on a bare mattress, the bedside table beside him stacked with Doritos, an empty soda bottle, and a pile of white bread.


"Several photos show Kayla and other teenage parents holding small children — a father and his infant son are pictured in a cramped and messy bedroom, and a mother cradles the newborn she'll soon give up for adoption. Kids amuse themselves with video games and knives and pretend to smoke the cigarettes their parents crave.

"Ms. Kenneally's forceful images drew a lot of attention. More than eighteen thousand people shared the Slate article on Facebook and hundreds commented on Slate's Facebook page. Another 387 commented on the original post. Tweets criticized the subjects and the photographer. . . ."


Smith, Bayless in Shoutfest Over Gay Player

"Sports talk shows have the capacity to be just as inane as cable news," Tina Nguyen wrote Tuesday for Mediaite, "and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith just hit a new one: he and Skip Bayless fell into a heated debate about Tony Dungy's comments about gay NFL draftee Michael Sam.


"Smith argued that Sam's sexuality was a problem, one which could impact the success of the St. Louis Rams, while Michael Vick, whose return to the NFL after being convicted for dogfighting cause massive controversy, was just a 'nuisance.'

" 'Whether it's a religious perspective, or taking his quote verbatim, [Dungy] happens to be right!' Smith said. 'Somebody going to jail for a dogfighting scandal, serving his time in a prison, and then being in an NFL locker room, is not necessarily something that will cause a distraction in the eyes of players, compared to somebody that is gay in a locker room. We don't like to say that, but it's just the truth.' . . ." [video]


Tony Dungy, NBC Sports: Tony Dungy's statement regarding his Michael Sam comments

Jason Whitlock, ESPN: Dungy wrong about Michael Sam

Curtis M. Wong, Huffington Post: Michael Sam Had Second Guesses About Coming Out As Gay, While Boyfriend Vito Cammisano Provided Support


Short Takes

"Comcast executive VP David Cohen got a chance to showcase some of his company's diverse content at a premiere screening of Comcast's Universal Pictures biopic, Get On Up, about the life of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown," John Eggerton wrote Wednesday for Broadcasting & Cable. "At the screening at the Newseum in Washington Tuesday night (July 22), Cohen spoke to the audience about the company's diverse hiring and casting practices — which drew applause from the crowd — and its addition of four new, diverse cable channels including Revolt and Aspire. While expounding on Comcast's diversity efforts, Cohen also said he knew 'how much farther we have to go' to achieve its diversity goals. He also said that the company's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable would allow it to do more. . . ."


"CNN’s 'Crossfire' is partnering with The Root, an online news source for African American influencers," Chris Ariens reported Wednesday for TVNewser. "The podcast, which premieres today, is moderated by The Root's Jenée Desmond-Harris and features 'Crossfire' hosts Newt Gingrich and Van Jones."

"The 2014 NLGJA Journalist of the Year is Chris Geidner, senior legal and political reporter for BuzzFeed," the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association announced Wednesday. " 'Geidner wrote pieces that soared above policy and law, bringing us Edie and Thea, and how their story wove into a decades-long civil rights struggle,' wrote one judge. 'He added context from a dual profile of Evan Wolfson and Andrew Sullivan.' " In addition, "This year's Sarah Pettit LGBT Journalist of the Year Award goes to Lila Shapiro, reporter for the Huffington Post. This is the second year in a row Shapiro has won this award." Three others are to be inducted into the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame: "Tracy Baim, Windy City Media publisher, editor, author, historian and filmmaker; Lisa Keen, often considered the dean of America's gay political reporting; Donna Cartwright, veteran copy editor at The New York Times and longtime transgender, LGBT and labor activist."


The National Association of Hispanic Journalists announced Monday that it will honor four companies at its convention Aug. 7-10 in San Antonio: "CNN: A cable news company that has increased the visibility and accurate representation of Latinos in cable news;" "PBS: A broadcast company that has increased the visibility and accurate representation of Latinos in its national programs," "Fox News Latino: A digital news company that has increased the visibility and accurate representation of Latinos in its digital platform," and "BuzzFeed: An online news company that has increased the visibility and accurate representation of Latinos in its online platform. . . ."

"I view journalists as the honesty police," Raecine Williams, a journalism student from Jamaica attending the University of Maryland, wrote Monday for the American Journalism Review. "It's our job to tell people's truths and reveal any lies the powers that be may tell. Lately, I've been wondering if I'm the liar. . . . I thought about the long hard road to getting a job in broadcasting. And right then and there, I switched my accent to an American one. . . ."


"GQ went full Kanye for its latest issue," Chris O'Shea wrote Monday for FishbowlNY. "The 37-year-old artist graces the glossy's cover and was interviewed for an accompanying feature. In the piece, West is typical West — meaning he says a lot of things that don't make sense, makes a few comments that are truly insightful, and continues to take himself way too seriously. . . ."

In Afghanistan, "A Kabul court announced Wednesday that the Afghan police officer charged with killing Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran AP correspondent Kathy Gannon has been convicted and sentenced to death," the Associated Press reported. "It was the first court hearing in the case and, under Afghan law, the verdict and sentence are subject to several stages of review.. . ."


Kurtis Lee, laid off at the Denver Post, where he covered state and national politics, will join the Los Angeles Times' RealTime News Desk as a reporter early next month, Megan Garvey, deputy managing editor, told staff members in a memo last week. Lee is to focus on politics. Michael Roberts of Westword asked Denver Post editor Greg Moore Wednesday about the departure of Lee, food editor Kris Browning-Blas and travel and fitness editor Kyle Wagner.

"An Oklahoma City television station has apologized to a popular music artist and said it made a mistake when it booted the hip hop artist off its Monday 'Oklahoma Live!' morning show after producers found out he was a rapper," Heide Brandes reported Tuesday for Reuters. "Oklahoma City-based performer Jabee Williams, who is black, said on Tuesday the move by TV station KSBI may have been racially motivated. . . ."


After a year scrutinizing the intern economy, Blair Hickman wrote Wednesday that ProPublica had learned that: "exhaustive data on interns doesn't exist," "businesses aren't the only force behind the unpaid intern explosion," "most unpaid interns do not have workers' rights," "internships improve employment prospects," "interns can learn more on the job than in the classroom," "universities play a critical role in the intern economy," and "unpaid interns can collect back pay without ruining their career prospects."

Mervin Aubespin, a former reporter and associate editor of the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., recalled his friendship with Nadine Gordimer Wednesday in an opinion piece for the Courier-Journal. Gordimer, South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature, died at 90 on July 13.


"Investigative journalist Mark Bassant of Trinidad and Tobago has returned to his country despite the continued existence of a threat against his life, he told the International Press Institute (IPI) this week in an exclusive interview," the press-freedom organization reported Wednesday. Bassant is a senior reporter for the Caribbean Communications Network, Channel 6 (CCN TV6).

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

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