Move Over, Lois Lane! Hit Comic Features Black, Bisexual Tabloid Reporter

  • First in Series ‘Sold Out on Day One’
  • Trump Vents With Reporters Before SOTU
  • Smiley Begins Five-City Tour on Harassment
  • New Mexico Keeps Prisoners Past Release Date
  • Other Cities Eye Cleveland Decision on Wahoo
  • Simeon Booker Has Company as Newspaper Pioneer
  • Mogul Says Arise Network Has Beaten Despair
  • Jacquie Jones Dies at 52, Led Black Programmers
  • High Court Orders Kenya to Restore Stations It Shut
  • China Beats, Harasses Foreign Journalists
  • Short Takes
Saladin Ahmed via Twitter screenshot

First in Series ‘Sold Out on Day One’

A comic book set in 1972 Detroit and featuring “a female tabloid journalist of color dealing with racism, sexism and the supernatural,” in the words of Philadelphia columnist Helen Ubiñas, quickly sold out Wednesday, its Arab American creator tweeted.


Ubiñas, writing Tuesday in the Philadelphia Daily News, told readers that she couldn’t wait to find a copy. “Move over, Lois Lane, Abbott’s on the beat,” the headline on her column screamed.


“The lead character, Elena Abbott, is a black, bisexual badass investigative reporter writing the stories that sometimes make her white bosses and colleagues squirm,” Ubiñas wrote. “She (righteously, of course) argues with her editor and unapologetically fights for respect and representation for herself and the community of color she writes for.

“ ‘We all read that article you wrote about what the police did to that boy,’ the black owner of a local diner tells her. ‘We were real proud you got them to print the truth in the white man’s paper.’


“Published by Boom! Studios, the debut comic introduces us to Abbott just as she’s angered the police department with a story she’s done and just as she begins to investigate a chain of grisly crimes ignored by the cops and perpetrated by ‘a dark magical force’ that 10 years before murdered her husband.

Saladin Ahmed

“It’s gritty and real and socially and culturally relevant. It rings true, even here in Philly.


“ ‘You’re lucky you still have a job, dammit, people weren’t happy with that article about the cops and the boy,’ her editor — who actually has her back — roars after he stands up for her with the higher-ups.

“She answers: ‘If the truth agitates people, Fred, does that mean we shouldn’t publish the truth?’


“Like I said, badass.

“Her story is probably a lot more relevant in 2018 than it should be, especially when it comes to issues of race and representation. . . .”


The strip, by writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Sami Kivelä, was announced in October. Rich Johnson wrote then for, “Born in Detroit, Ahmed had been wanting to write a story set in his hometown, especially during a pivotal moment in its history.

“ ‘A cast of hippie wizards, black revolutionaries, and cranky newsmen also appear in Abbott, but the real co-star of the book is the city of Detroit,’ says Ahmed. ‘Set in 1972 — the year Nixon was re-elected and Motown Records left for Los Angeles — Abbott takes place against a backdrop of white flight and black renaissance in Detroit.’ . . .”


Lee DeVito updated the story for Detroit Metro Times on Jan. 24, publication day:

Ahmed, an Arab-American who grew up in Dearborn, admits he is writing about this world from a bit of a distance. He was born in 1975 — too young to have a real firsthand knowledge of the era. ‘But I was raised in a very political family, in very close proximity both culturally and physically to Detroit proper,’ Ahmed says. He says his father (Ismael Ahmed, founder of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services as well as the Concert of Colors), had friends who were Black Panthers. ‘I saw a lot of that kind of activism around me, growing up,’ he says.


“Ahmed says he conceived of and pitched the story during the past year, while Detroit was re-examining the 50th anniversary of the 1967 rebellion, though he says it wasn’t necessarily inspired by the milestone. . . .”

DeVito added, “Abbott is slated for at least a five-issue run, with new issues coming out each month. . . . ‘There’s the possibility that it could return for later “seasons,” as it were,’ Ahmed says. ‘But there’s a lot of other plates in the air right now.’ . . . . ”

ProPublica attempted to answer the question posed in the graphic. It reported, “President Trump has made many claims promising that individual companies such as Amazon, Alibaba and Boeing will hire large – and specific – numbers of American workers, a total of 2.4 million in all. We found that only about 206,000 of those jobs have been created so far.”

Trump Vents With Reporters Before SOTU

Hours before his first formal State of the Union address, President Donald Trump gathered top news anchors at the White House and vented his spleen,” Michael Calderone reported Tuesday for Politico.


“The president took a needling tone with Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ telling the group that Todd’s the nicest guy in the world until he gets on the show and then becomes ‘a monster.’

“He had a more pointed exchange with NBC News anchor Lester Holt regarding a May 2017 interview in which the president said he considered the ‘Russia thing’ when deciding to fire former FBI director James Comey. The president accused Holt of editing the interview to remove Trump comments the president claimed were almost ‘Shakespearean,’ according to attendees. Holt responded that the entire interview ran online. . . .”


Calderone also wrote, “There were roughly two dozen people at this year’s lunch, including journalists George Stephanopoulos and David Muir (ABC News), Norah O’Donnell (CBS), Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum (Fox News), Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer (CNN), Roland Martin (TV One), José Díaz-Balart (Telemundo), Steve Scully (C-SPAN), Judy Woodruff and Yamiche Alcindor (PBS). Both Sanders and communications director Hope Hicks were among the administration attendees, with Vice President Mike Pence and chief of staff John Kelly stopping by. . . .

“Some journalists veered into other topics, with Martin pressing Trump on housing segregation and voter suppression. . . .”


Martin told Journal-isms he could not say whether he was satisfied with the answers because the session was off the record.

While many commentators praised the speech’s bipartisan tone, those of color more often said Trump demonized immigrants and improperly took credit for the falling black unemployment rate, which nevertheless still exceeds that of whites.


Monica Anderson and Gustavo Lopez, Pew Research Center: Key facts about black immigrants in the U.S. (Jan. 24)

Isaac Arnsdorf and Lena Groeger, ProPublica: What Happened to All the Jobs Trump Promised?


Lauren Victoria Burke, SOTU Commentary: Trump’s first State of the Union is all talk and no action

Ebony: Trump’s First State of the Union Address: Still Bigoted, Just Better Articulated


Editorial, Chicago Sun-Times: If only Trump’s nice words meant anything at all for Chicago

Editorial, Daily News, New York: Slamming the golden door: President Trump’s framework for reform is bad for America


Editorial, Denver Post: Trump’s victory lap on economy deserved, but his policies fall short

Editorial, Miami Herald: State of the Union: Making America truly great must start at the top


Robert George, Daily News, New York: Joe Kennedy III and the Democrats’ muddled diversity message

Demetria Irwin, Black-checking Trump’s African American mentions

Shaun King, the Intercept: The Bigot Who Threatened CNN Got Out of Jail in Time for Dinner (Jan. 23)


Paul Krugman, New York Times: Worse Than Willie Horton

Latino Rebels: What States Benefit the Most From Immigrants? A New Economic Report Confirms It’s All Divided by Blue and Red


P.R. Lockhart, Trump says he deserves credit for the lowest black unemployment rate in decades. He doesn’t.

Ed Mazza, HuffPost: Van Jones Tears Apart Trump’s Speech: ‘Sweet-Tasting Candy With Poison In It’


Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Trump’s speech proves he doesn’t understand immigration

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The parable of the Evangelical leaders and their grand bargain


Sophia Nelson, SOTU Commentary: An ordinary speech from a bold and brazen President

Dina Radtke, Media Matters for America: Univision hosts denounce Trump’s characterization of immigrants as criminals at his first State of the Union address


Christopher Rugaber and Calvin Woodward, Associated Press: Fact check: Trump’s State of the Union speech doesn’t skimp on exaggerations

Nick Visser and Willa Frej, HuffPost Latino Voices: What To Know About MS-13, The Gang Trump Is Using To Push His Immigration Plan


Smiley Begins Five-City Tour on Harassment

It’s been close to two months since PBS host Tavis Smiley was suspended and his namesake nightly talk show yanked off the air following allegations of sexual misconduct with several subordinates,” Greg Braxton wrote Monday for the Los Angeles Times.


Braxton also wrote, “on Monday night, the veteran host and author kicked off a five-city tour of town halls titled ‘The Conversation: Women, Men and the Workplace,’ in which he and a panel of experts and scholars address the #MeToo movement and what he termed the confusing and conflicting dynamics in the workplace between male and female employees.

“Despite Smiley’s place on the constantly growing list of celebrities and public figures who have been sidelined due to charges of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, he said that he is not using the gatherings as his public relations vehicle.


“ ‘Let me say up front, this conversation is not about me, this is about “we,” ‘ Smiley said to an audience of around 200 people at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles, stressing that he would not talk about his situation during the 90-minute forum. . . .”

Renée Graham, Boston Globe: Hillary Clinton isn’t the only woman who has failed victims of abuse


Fahima Haque, New York Times: I’m Torn Over Claims Against Aziz Ansari (Jan. 20)

Joyce King, Dallas Morning News: My sons know about my rape because they need to know what black women face


Alexandria Neason, Meg Dalton and Karen K. Ho, Columbia Journalism Review: Sexual harassment in the newsroom: An oral history

Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Tavis Smiley takes on #MeToo movement

Blue Telusma, Tavis Smiley’s town hall on sexual misconduct got us confused AF


CJ Project

New Mexico Keeps Prisoners Past Release Date

Joleen Valencia resisted the temptation to count her days to freedom, knowing that tracking the time only worsened the anxiety of serving a two-year drug-trafficking sentence inside a New Mexico prison,” Mary Hudetz wrote for the CJ Project, an initiative to broaden the news coverage of criminal justice issues affecting New Mexico’s diverse communities, created by the Asian American Journalists Association. The story appeared Monday in the Philadelphia Tribune and other outlets.


“After her sentence started in the spring of 2015, she wanted nothing more than to return to her family’s home amid mesas on a reservation north of Albuquerque and stay clean after recovering from a heroin addiction. Especially after her mother died and granddaughter had been born.

“But rather than agonize, she kept busy, working daily dishwashing shifts to earn 10 cents an hour and eventually enough ‘good time’ for a new parole date: July 13, 2016.


“ ‘They would tell you, don’t count your days, because it’s going to make it hard,’ said Valencia, 50. But she couldn’t resist as her parole date neared, making it all the more frustrating when the day came and went.

“For three more months, Valencia remained incarcerated, one of more than 1,000 inmates identified in New Mexico Corrections Department documents as serving what’s known as ‘in-house parole.’


“An expensive and long-running problem, it routinely has resulted in corrections officials holding inmates for all or part of their parole terms — often because they are unable to find or afford suitable housing outside prison. Sometimes, missing paperwork or administrative backlogs also can rob them of the freedom they’ve earned. . . .

“The problem of in-house parole isn’t unique to New Mexico. . . .”

Other Cities Eye Cleveland Decision on Wahoo

The Kansas City Chiefs logo is shaped like an arrowhead.

Kansas City Chiefs fans, take note,” the Kansas City Star editorialized on Tuesday.

“The beaver-tooth grin, shifty cartoon eyes and bright red skin of the offensive character known as Chief Wahoo will no long appear on the uniforms of the Cleveland Indians, beginning next year.


“No Native American ever looked like Chief Wahoo. And this was a decision long overdue. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred deserves credit for pressuring Cleveland’s ownership to take action.

“The demise of Chief Wahoo should serve as fair warning to the Kansas City Chiefs and the team’s fans that belittling Native people under the guise of sports is not acceptable. . . .”


Kansas City was just one city to feel the reverberations of the Cleveland decision.

Editorial, Chicago Tribune: The smart way to dispatch Chief Illiniwek

Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Chief Wahoo was never a legitimate civil or social rights issue


Shree Paradkar, Toronto Star: Chief Wahoo will be leaving the Cleveland Indians. The Washington Redskins must follow suit now

Simeon Booker Has Company as Newspaper Pioneer

Carl Rowan

Carl W. Rowan, who went on to become a nationally syndicated columnist, director of the U.S. Information Agency and a 19-year veteran of television’s “Agronsky and Company,” later called “Inside Washington,” was already working at the Minneapolis Tribune when Simeon Booker joined the Washington Post in 1951.

At the memorial service for Booker on Monday, former Washington Post publisher Donald Graham cited scholars in saying that at the time of Booker’s hire, no other African Americans were working as journalists at major newspapers.


However, retired Cleveland journalist Dick Peery pointed out Wednesday in the Journal-isms Comments section that Rowan was at the Minneapolis Tribune. The University of Tennessee’s Tennessee Authors Project lists Rowan’s time at the Tribune as from 1948 to 1950 as a copywriter and from 1950 to to 1961 as a staff writer.

“I would not learn for many years that the Minneapolis papers had a great man as owner, John Cowles, Sr., and that he had laid the law down to [Editor Gideon] Seymour and other editors,” Rowan wrote in his 1991 memoir, “Breaking Barriers.” “He told them that he did not believe that in all of America they could not find a single black man or woman capable of being a reporter on his newspapers. . . .”

Ted Poston

Rowan traveled the South and wrote “How Far From Slavery?” a series on what it was like to be black during the 1950s, reports later gathered in a 1952 book, “Songs of Freedom.”


Meanwhile, in New York, Ted Poston “finally broke the color barrier in journalism by integrating the New York Post” in 1935, according to the dust jacket of the 1998 biography, “Ted Poston: Pioneer American Journalist” by Kathleen A. Hauke.

The newspaper nominated Poston for a Pulitzer Prize in 1949 for his “courageous coverage” of a frame-up of young black men on rape charges in Groveland, Fla. [PDF]. Poston, who died in 1974, worked at the New York Post for 35 years.


However, C. Gerald Fraser of the New York Times wrote in Poston’s obituary, “Before Mr. Poston joined The Post, two black men had worked as reporters in New York City: Lester Walton at The World and Earl Brown at The Herald‐Tribune. . . .”

Editorial, Washington Informer: Remembering Simeon Booker, ‘The Man from Jet’

Kevin Merida, the Undefeated: Simeon Booker’s life and legacy cannot be overstated; ‘Every black journalist working today should pause for a moment and thank Simeon Booker’


Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: I’m Glad I Got to Know Simeon Booker

Sean Barron, Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio: Simeon Booker, a ‘frequently unsung national hero’


Mogul Says Arise Network Has Beaten Despair

The Nigeria-based Arise News, which launched in 2013 with the aim of rivaling giants in the global market, partly by hiring African American journalists, fell victim to financial problems and by 2015 was described as “in critical condition(scroll down).Most of the better-known black journalists who joined the operation — Lyne Pitts, Gary Anthony Ramsay, James Blue, Jeff Koinange — left after enduring periods of bounced checks and missed paydays. The network had aimed to broadcast from London, New York, Johannesburg and Lagos.


Nduka Obaigbena, the media mogul behind the channel, announced Wednesday that “Today, five years later [from launch date], the entrepreneuring spirit has won over some harrowing and challenging moments; hope has won over despair; truth is triumphant over lies; though we’ve had some tears along the way — not of our making, it has also been lots of fun and laughter and your one and only global news channel, that is truly Black and African, is standing taller today than ever before.”

Obaigbena said in an email to Journal-isms, “The crises started with the crash of oil prices in 2014 and the severe restriction of FX [foreign exchange] remittances out of Nigeria. Once the FX restrictions eased, we settled with our staff and have now returned with 3 of our 4 ARISE USA shows: ARISE AMERICA, ARISE 360 and ARISE EXCHANGE — with much the same core team. The 4th show, ARISE NEWS NOW is now produced in Africa.”


Jacquie Jones Dies at 52, Led Black Programmers

Jacquie Jones (Jason Miccolo Johnson)

Longtime public media leader and filmmaker Jacquie Jones died Sunday in Washington, D.C., from cancer,” April Simpson reported Tuesday for “She was 52.

“Jones had been living in Durban, South Africa, and traveled to Washington, D.C., over the holidays when she became ill, according to friend and colleague Mable Haddock.


“From 2005–14 Jones was executive director of Black Public Media, then called the National Black Programming Consortium. She received two Peabody Awards for her documentary and television work and was the second editor of Black Film Review. . . .”

Simpson also wrote, Corporation for Public Broadcasting “President Pat Harrison credits Jones with presenting a nuanced portrait of high-school dropouts in NBPC’s 2013 documentary 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School. Filmed in Washington, D.C., and produced for PBS, the documentary was part of CPB’s American Graduate initiative. It showed the full and complex lives of young people who were working, homeless or taking care of young siblings while trying to study, Harrison said.


“The film won a Peabody Award, and Jones applied the same formula in 2015 to 180 Days: Hartsville, co-produced by Black Public Media and South Carolina ETV. . . .”

Jones told Journal-isms by email in 2015, “NBPC, obviously, has always been very committed to ensuring that [there] is Black authorship of stories that reflect our community. All of us on the 180 Days team went to public school at different times. And we come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, including poverty.


“We undertook 180 Days (the first one) in part because of films like Waiting for Superman and the Lottery that propose simple solutions to problems that couldn’t be more complex for our community.”

Funeral services are planned for Saturday, Feb. 3, at National United Methodist Church, 3401 Nebraska Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. Visitation is 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., with a service from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A foundation is being created in her memory. Donations can be made at


High Court Orders Kenya to Restore Stations It Shut

The High Court in Kenya “has ordered the government to immediately restore all TV transmissions for three private stations which were shut down on Tuesday pending the hearing of a suit filed by activist Okiya Omtatah,” Sam Kiplagat reported Thursday for the Daily Nation in Kenya.


“Justice Chacha Mwita also issued temporary orders barring the government from interfering with all television transmissions until the case is heard on February 14.

“Other than seeking to restore transmission for NTV, KTN News and Citizen TV, Mr Omtatah wants the court to compel the government to compensate the media houses for the shutdown which started on January 30.


Mr Omtatah moved to court seeking an order that the switch off of the TV stations is illegal and against the Constitution. . . .”

Kiplagat also wrote, “Meanwhile, NTV’s Linus Kaikai, Larry Madowo and Ken Mijungu have moved to court seeking to bar their imminent arrest and prosecution by State.


“On Wednesday evening, police officers surrounded Nation Centre, the headquarters of the Nation Media Group, as they sought to arrest the three.

“NMG Editor-in-Chief Tom Mshindi termed the government’s move to shut down three private TV stations as “a sad moment for media freedom in Kenya.”


The Committee to Protect Journalists summarized Thursday, “The order came after President Uhuru Kenyatta and other senior government officials summoned media managers and editors on January 26 and threatened to shut their stations down and revoke their licenses if they broadcast live an event in which Kenya’s opposition leader, Raila Odinga, took an oath as the ‘people’s president’ in protest of the disputed elections last year, according to a statement from the Kenya Editors Guild.”Kenya’s attorney general said that the swearing in ceremony could be ‘treasonous’ and may lead to criminal charges against Odinga, according to reports. . . .”

China Beats, Harasses Foreign Journalists

Working conditions for foreign correspondents in China deteriorated last year, with journalists reporting being beaten, detained and harassed, according to a survey published on Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday.


“Almost half of more than 100 correspondents were subjected to some form of interference in 2017 while attempting to gather information, according to the report by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China. Twenty-three per cent said they were physically obstructed from accessing a location and 8 per cent said they were manhandled or beaten. . . .”

Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Jan. 18 it was concerned about the disappearance of the wife of a critical American-Chinese journalist and called on police in China to disclose whether they have her in custody. “Chen Xiaoping told CPJ that his wife, Li Huaiping, disappeared on September 18 after he carried out a series of interviews with a high-profile government critic. . . .”


Iris Hsu, Committee to Protect Journalists: In China, medical neglect can amount to a death sentence for jailed journalists (Dec. 13)

Short Takes

Benét Wilson
  • Hip-hop artist Nas teamed up with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington to stage a symphonic rendition of his album ‘Illmatic,’ airing Friday. See sixth item below.
  • Board members of the Online News Association, meeting Friday in Washington, elected Mandy Jenkins president; Benét Wilson vice president; David Smydra, treasurer and P. Kim Bui, secretary.
P. Kim Bui
Chiqui Esteban

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Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.


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