Muhammad Ali with Howard Cosell, the ABC sportscaster who initially made his reputation as a staunch defender of Ali when the heavyweight champion was stripped of his title in 1967 for refusing to be inducted into the Army during the Vietnam War
Celestine Chua/Flickr

The death of Muhammad Ali Friday night in Phoenix followed "a media frenzy of speculation about his latest health woes," as Mike James and Chris D'Amico reported earlier in the day for USA Today. But it gave media outlets time to prepare an outpouring of coverage that unfolded as the news spread in the Eastern time zone's midnight hour.

Jerry Brewer, sports columnist for the Washington Post, was among the first to file, posting at 12:44 a.m. EDT:

"Muhammad Ali, the legend of all sports legends, is gone. His quiet, excruciating, decades-long descent into Parkinson’s disease is over. If there is a championship ring in heaven, may he stand peacefully in the middle of it, arms raised, and speak with audacity and wit once more, this time about a life well lived.

Advertisement

“ 'I am the greatest,' Ali used to say repeatedly. 'I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.”

"In 74 incomparable years of life, Ali did more than talk his way into greatness. He was the very essence of great. There was an intrinsic majesty about the man that helped him transcend his brash beginnings and become the most respected, then beloved, sports figure in the world. The mere sight of Ali could induce tears, and while the wet stuff was tinged with sadness about his illness, it was hard to feel sorry for an icon who deserved so much admiration. . . ."

An Associated Press story by Tim Dahlberg, time-stamped at 1:25 EDT, began, "He was fast of fist and foot — lip, too — a heavyweight champion who promised to shock the world and did. He floated. He stung. Mostly he thrilled, even after the punches had taken their toll and his voice barely rose above a whisper.

Advertisement

"He was The Greatest.

"Muhammad Ali died Friday at age 74, according to a statement from the family. He was hospitalized in the Phoenix area with respiratory problems earlier this week, and his children had flown in from around the country.

" 'It's a sad day for life, man. I loved Muhammad Ali, he was my friend. Ali will never die,' Don King, who promoted some of Ali's biggest fights, told The Associated Press early Saturday. 'Like Martin Luther King his spirit will live on, he stood for the world.' . . . .

Advertisement

Major news outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated and national newspaper sites including the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today were ready with photo galleries spanning Ali's career. SI published each of its covers featuring Ali, going back to his days as Cassius Clay. The Courier-Journal in Ali's hometown of Louisville, Ky., also featured extended coverage.

Some put their best writers to work.

David Remnick, the New Yorker editor who authored the 1998 biography "King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero," posted on the New Yorker site at 1:45 a.m.:

"What a loss to suffer, even if for years you knew it was coming. Muhammad Ali, who died Friday, in Phoenix, at the age of seventy-four, was the most fantastical American figure of his era, a self-invented character of such physical wit, political defiance, global fame, and sheer originality that no novelist you might name would dare conceive him. . . ."

Advertisement

Richard Hoffer wrote for Sports Illustrated, "If Muhammad Ali was in his time the most famous person in the world, it was as much a tribute to his talent for provocation as to his boxing. He was a glorious athlete, of course, his white-tasseled feet a blur to match his whizzing fists. But his legacy as a global personality owes more to that glint in his eye, to his capacity for tomfoolery, to his playfulness. He was a born prankster, giddy in his eagerness to surprise, and the world won’t soon forget his insistence upon fun. . . ."

Matt Schudel and Bart Barnes of the Washington Post described Ali as "the charismatic three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world and Olympic gold medalist who transcended the world of sports to become a symbol of the antiwar movement of the 1960s and ultimately a global ambassador for cross-cultural understanding."

The obituary by Robert Lipsyte of the New York Times introduced Ali as "the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion who helped define his turbulent times as the most charismatic and controversial sports figure of the 20th century."

Advertisement

The new Undefeated website had a brief story attributed to ESPN.com news services that began, "Legendary heavyweight champion and social icon Muhammad Ali has died, a family spokesman said late Friday in a statement."

On social media, some insisted that Ali not be selectively remembered. "#MuhammadAli is the only person to have his star on a wall b/c he refused to let the prophet's name be stepped on," Farzana Malik ‏@farazanaamalik tweeted.

Advertisement

Luvvie Ajayi, who describes herself as "a serial ranter and blogger" and writes as "Awesomely Luvvie," tweeted, "When you remember him and eulogize him, remember how much he loved his Blackness. Don't whitewash his legacy. #MuhammadAli."

ESPN quoted Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James: "The reason why he's the GOAT [Greatest of All Time] is not because of what he did in the ring, which was unbelievable. It's what he did outside of the ring, what he believed in, what he stood for — along with Jim Brown and Oscar Robertson, Lew Alcindor, obviously who became Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], Bill Russell, Jackie Robinson. Those guys stood for something. He's part of the reason why African-Americans today can do what we do in the sports world. We're free. They allow us to have access to anything we want. It's because of what they stood for, and Muhammad Ali was definitely the pioneer for that."

Earlier Friday, James and D'Amico had written for USA Today that "Boxing legend Muhammad Ali spent a second day in an area hospital Friday, fighting a respiratory problem that's worried his family and set off a media frenzy of speculation about his latest health woes."

Advertisement

Ali's condition led the "NBC Nightly News." "There are growing concerns right now about the health of an American legend," (video) anchor Lester Holt told viewers. Correspondent Cynthia McFadden reported, "Tonight, NBC News has learned that Muhammad Ali's family is gathering by his side. . . . "

James and D'Amico continued, "Ali, 74, considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time and whose gift of gab rivaled his jab, is in fair condition at the undisclosed hospital, said Bob Gunnell, an Ali spokesman. Ali, who has suffered from Parkinson's disease since the 1980s, is no stranger to hospital stays, but the Associated Press reports that people familiar with his condition say he may be battling more serious problems. He's been hospitalized since Thursday.

"Gunnell, in an interview with Gannett's (Louisville) Courier-Journal, downplayed the report and said each Ali hospitalization causes a 'media frenzy.' He said Ali's condition remained the same, but declined to provide further details. An update later Friday was possible, he said. . . ."

Advertisement

Chris Kenning wrote for the Courier-Journal, "The Associated Press cited two anonymous sources suggesting his condition was more serious than in previous hospital stays, and NBC reported his condition was 'grave.' . . .

"News of the hospitalization spread concern across Louisville and beyond, sparking well wishes from the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, who tweeted 'prayers & blessings to my idol.'

"At Ali's restored boyhood home-turned-museum on Grand Avenue in Louisville Friday, which opened for tours only a few days earlier, curator and creative director Evan Bochetto said, 'We had a lot of people coming by, and everybody is very concerned about Muhammad as news has been breaking.' . . . "

Advertisement

Coates Challenges French on Black Journalists' Role

"In his most recent piece for . . . The Atlantic, 'The Black Journalist and the Racial Mountain,' Ta-Nehisi Coates attempts to defend himself in a way that may feel familiar to those who do diversity and inclusion work," Ellen McGirt wrote Friday for Fortune.

Advertisement

"The piece is a response to a different piece published by another black journalist named Howard French for The Guardian. In 'The Enduring Whiteness of American Media,' French rails against big media for failing to produce diverse newsrooms and by damaging the careers of black journalists by pigeonholing them into stereotypical silos: sports, entertainment, and 'urban' stuff.

"French cites Coates as the premiere example of the latter transgression: 'For decades it has been clear that space is made in the firmament for a tiny number of black journalists at any given time, if mostly to write about race. These figures, however brilliant, find themselves transformed into unwilling emblems of inclusivity — the journalistic and literary equivalent of a black president, a figure whose ascendancy can be cited by white people as proof that we don’t have a race problem any more.'

"Coates’ response is long and measured, but he sets it up this way: 'French believes that it is imperative that black writers cross "the river," as he did, and escape the presumably provincial confines of covering race. In this, he echoes the white critics who so often say to those of us interested in black America, "Can’t you write about something other than racism?" without realizing that racism is the font of their very question, their very identity, their very world.'

Advertisement

"The two journalists have now framed a long-read debate that’s tough to watch, but necessary to consider. At the heart of the argument is an exploration of power and identity, and how humans operate within a broader social system. For those in corporate environments, it speaks to the very real risk that you will always be the only one who looks like you in the room. And research shows if you point it out, you may be punished for it. . . .

Trump Security Removes Reporter From Rally

"Two POLITICO reporters were hassled at Donald Trump events on Thursday, with one of them being removed from the grounds by security," Hadas Gold reported Friday for Politico.

Advertisement

"Ben Schreckinger, who has been covering Trump for POLITICO since shortly after his campaign's launch last summer, was asked to leave after he was spotted typing on his laptop outside of the press pen at Trump's rally in San Jose, California. Schreckinger was at the event on a general admission ticket. He has been routinely denied press credentials at previous Trump events; he was once escorted off of Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida despite having been granted credentials.

[Schreckinger wrote his own story about the incident, headlined, "Trump security removes POLITICO reporter from rally."]

"Carla Marinucci, who runs POLITICO's California Playbook, was approached by a Trump staffer at the same rally who told her, 'I've been told you are here to disrupt this rally.' After California Republican Party Chair Harmeet Dhillon vouched for her, the staffer said Marinucci could stay as long as she did not 'talk to people or interview them in the general area where we sit.'

Advertisement

"Marinucci, who was denied media credentials for a Trump event for the fourth time in the state and was at the rally on a general admission ticket, ignored the order and filed her story as usual.

"POLITICO Editor Susan Glasser said in a statement that such acts violate the basic rights of a free press. . . ."

Dylan Byers, CNNMoney: Vox suspends editor for encouraging riots at Donald Trump rallies

Advertisement

2 States Mysteriously Dropped Trump Probes

"Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, has made headlines lately for his investigation of Trump University, the for-profit real estate course over which presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is now facing several lawsuits," Cristian Farias reported Friday for the Huffington Post.

"On Thursday, Schneiderman piled on, describing the now-defunct Trump U. as an instance of 'straight-up fraud,' even as Trump himself basked in the publicity and touted his plans to reopen the business if he wins the White House.

Advertisement

"Recent reports from Florida and Texas add a new dimension to Trump U.’s troubles: At least two attorneys general, in Texas and Florida, knew about and planned similar investigations into the program’s dealings but then mysteriously dropped the probes.

"The more extensive report comes from the Houston Chronicle, which describes how in 2010, the office of then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) had decided to prosecute Trump University for false advertising.

"One lawyer who worked closely in the investigation called the probe into Trump U. 'an extremely strong case,' and records show that everything was set for a lawsuit unless the business agreed to a $5.4 million settlement with the state.

Advertisement

"But then… nothing happened. The office dropped the case. And curiously, Trump donated $35,000 to Abbott’s bid for the governorship in 2013, as reported by The Associated Press. (Coincidentally or not, that’s how much the 'elite' Trump U. seminar package cost.)

"A spokesman for Abbott, now the governor of Texas, told the Chronicle that there was no relationship between the probe and the later campaign cash, and that Abbott acted in Texans’ best interest by pushing Trump U. out of the state. David Morales, a former deputy to Abbott when Abbott was attorney general, told the Chronicle on Friday that Abbott was not involved in his own office’s decision not to sue Trump U.

"Abbott endorsed Trump for president last month.

"The other report, from the Orlando Sentinel, may be more egregious because it suggests the Florida attorney general, Pam Bondi, agreed in 2013 to give up her own probe of Trump Institute — a local affiliate of Trump U. — after the businessman made a $25,000 donation to her re-election bid. . . ."

Advertisement

Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: "White rage."

Eric Bradner and Dan Merica, CNN: Clinton blasts Trump University, calls GOP rival a 'fraud'

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Trump is going nowhere with Latino voters. Here’s the proof.

Advertisement

Diane Clehane, Fishbowl NY: Media Mogul Nely Galan on Being Self-Made, Empowering Latinas and Donald Trump

Raoul Lowery Contreras, Fox News Latino: Opinion: Trump, Sanders and Clinton treat Mexican-Americans the same, at their own peril

Editorial, Boston Globe: Libertarians Johnson and Weld offer a credible alternative to Trump

Advertisement

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: Troubling Trump: Personal attack strategy is getting old

Alfredo Estrada, NBC News Latino: Opinion: GOP Latinos Wait, And Wait, And Wait for a Trump 'Pivot'

Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News Latino: As Dems' Primary Saga Plays Out, California Latino Voter Registration Surges

Advertisement

Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News Latino: How Close Will Puerto Ricans Get Hillary Clinton to Nomination?

Emil Guillermo, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Asian Americans back Bernie Sanders in new Field Poll in California, but don't jump to conclusions — yet

Janine Jackson, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: The People Are the Story — and Corporate Media Are Missing It

Advertisement

Adam Johnson, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Media Trumpwash Clinton’s Reckless Foreign Record

Shaun King, Daily News, New York: White kids in ichigan say they want to bring back slavery

Latino USA: From CBSN: Why Some Latinos Are Supporting Donald Trump (VIDEO)

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: What if Sanders wins California?

Advertisement

Dean Obeidallah, Daily Beast: How Trump Smeared Native Americans Back in 1993

Jeanne Sahadi, CNNMoney: Trump University controversy … in 2 minutes

Theodore Schleifer, CNN: Trump defends criticism of judge with Mexican heritage

Zachariah Sippy, Star Tribune, Minneapolis: For Hillary Clinton's bold choice for VP, how about Keith Ellison?

Advertisement

Paul Waldman, Washington Post: The media have reached a turning point in covering Donald Trump. He may not survive it.

Allie Yee, Institute for Southern Studies: Latinos could be a swing vote in Southern battleground states

'Astounding' Page Views on Gorilla Story

"Our numbers are astounding," said Peter Bhatia, editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Kristen Hare reported Wednesday for the Poynter Institute.

Advertisement

Hare was reporting on the coverage of a small boy who got away from his mother and fell into the habitat of Harambe the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo Saturday. Officials decided to shoot Harambe to death before he could kill or seriously harm the child.

Stories on the Enquirer website, Cincinnati.com, about the incident have received a combined 2 million page views, Bhatia said, "and on a Tuesday afternoon, Cincinnati.com had about 1,000 more visitors than normal.

"Along with stories on the continuing investigation, other work includes an obituary on Harambe by reporter Shauna Steigerwald, a look at what will become of Harambe's remains and a profile of Harambe's caretaker," Hare reported.

Advertisement

The first story, by breaking-news reporter Cameron Knight, written with producer Mallorie Sullivan, has had 898,033 pageviews and 765,756 unique visitors on mobile, Katie Vogel, the Enquirer's engagement editor, said. "The Facebook reach has gotten up to 8.5 million and post engagement is at more than 1 million. Week over week, that's an 835 percent increase for reach and a 520 percent increase in post engagement.

"There's also a short, shareable graphic video looking at what actually happened. And they've covered the story on Snapchat and Facebook Live.

" 'For us, this has really been our first major news event since we’ve been utilizing Facebook Live, and the engagement and curiosity that we are seeing from our community of readers, it really speaks to the power of Facebook Live in terms of reaching a larger audience exactly where they’re at,' Vogel said.

Advertisement

"That first press conference Knight attended has been viewed more than one million times. . . ."

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: The irony of us falling out over Harambe, the gorilla

Editorial, Miami Herald: Harambe or the kid? Zoo made right call

Editorial, Philadelphia Inquirer: Harambe reconsidered

Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The death of a gorilla: Harambe should have been tranquilized, not slain

Advertisement

Dahleen Glanton, Chicago Tribune: What's clear in Cincinnati Zoo case: Harambe had to die

Adam Howard, MSNBC: Will those who weep for Harambe also decry deaths in Chicago?

Jack Murtha, Columbia Journalism Review: What makes a source qualified to speak on Harambe? Not much.

Advertisement

Ruben Rosario, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.: I rant: Gorilla vs. boy; St. Paul cop vs. teen playing for the camera

Stewart Named V.P. at USA Today Network

Mizell Stewart III, incoming president of the American Society of News Editors, has been named USA Today Network's vice president of news operations, a new position, Joanne Lipman, Gannett Co. Inc. chief content officer, announced on Thursday.

Advertisement

The appointment is effective June 13.

"In his new role, Mizell will oversee NETWORK operations, administration, and relationships across Gannett departments. He will be a key member of my team as we work together to elevate the NETWORK’s journalism and continue to build the nation’s largest digital-first news organization," Lipman wrote to staffers.

"Mizell previously was Managing Director and Chief Content Officer of Journal Media Group, where he directed content strategy for a team of 700 journalists at 14 publications, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Commercial Appeal of Memphis. . . ."

Advertisement

Gannett acquired Journal Media Group (the former Scripps papers and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) in April.

Stewart, vice president of ASNE, assumes the president's role in September. He said he would work out of Gannett headquarters in McLean, Va., but keep his home base in Butler County, Ohio.

A Film on First U.S. Military Unit of Color

"Not only did Rhode Island strike the 'first blow for freedom' of the American Revolution with the burning of the Gaspee, but it was host to the nation’s first ever military unit of color," Kelcy Dolan reported Thursday for the Warwick (R.I.) Beacon.

Advertisement

"In an era when slavery was law, Rhode Island for a time offered African Americans and Native Americans their freedom in exchange for military service. Just as the Gaspee Affair isn’t widely known in American history, this chapter has been overlooked in many historical texts.

"Now, TTS Pictures is hoping to take the story of the First Rhode Island Continental Regiment, known as the Black Regiment, to the big screen.

"TTS Pictures is a team of history, film and promotional specialists hoping to popularize Rhode Island’s Revolutionary history and major military contributions. Their first film will be 'The Regiment,' focusing on the true story of America’s first unit of color and their five years of military service during the Revolutionary War.

Advertisement

"The producers for TTS pictures are director Stephen 'Stix' Josey, Tatia Lopez and Dr. Thomas James Mannock. . . .

"Lopez is working on the business side of TTS as well as marketing and promotions. She co-founded the Southern New England Association of Black Journalists and continues to be a chair on the board. . . ."

Short Takes

"It’s a much leaner era at La Opinión, which has undergone aggressive downsizing over the past five years," Veronica Villafañe reported Thursday for her Media Moves site. "This week, additional cuts in the editorial staff of Los Angeles’ Spanish-language daily saw the exit of two of its longtime journalists. Henrik Rehbinder, who had been at La Opinión for 30 years, most recently as its editorial page editor, is no longer a full-time employee of the paper or its parent company impreMedia. Henrik will remain connected to La Opinión, but as a freelancer, contributing articles and opinion pieces. Josep Parera, the paper’s entertainment editor, also exited the company. . . ."

Advertisement

In Chicago, "The city’s embattled police oversight agency on Friday released video and audio recordings from dozens of police shootings, Taser uses and cases of unnecessary force by Chicago Police officers," Andy Grimm reported for the Chicago Sun-Times. "At a news conference Friday, Independent Police Review Authority Director Sharon Fairley announced an 'historic' release of files involving 101 open investigations. The agency launched a searchable, online database of files in pending investigations at 11 a.m., including more than 300 audio and video files related to the cases," Grimm wrote in an early version of his story.

"Several journalists were attacked and some had equipment stolen while covering protests in Caracas Thursday, according to news outlets and a local freedom of expression group," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Friday. "Some of the journalists who were attacked said that the Venezuelan National Guard did not intervene to prevent the attacks and in one case, forced a journalist to delete footage, according to reports. . . ."

"In a testament to live TV, ABC affiliate WXYZ Detroit Thursday captured a family’s unexpected reunion with an 11-year-old girl who disappeared Wednesday night," Diana Marszalek reported Thursday for Broadcasting & Cable.

Advertisement

"Peter Thiel, a brilliant entrepreneur in the overlapping worlds of information and technology, hasn’t simply admitted to financing a litigation campaign intended to destroy a widely read news site — Gawker — he’s bragged about it," lawyer Stuart Karle wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post. Karle also wrote, "Thiel’s tactics in fact resemble nothing so much as the legal maneuvers white racists used to threaten the Northern press with ruin if it continued to cover the violent official response to efforts to desegregate the South in the 1950s and ’60s. . . ."

"The Eastern Conference playoffs between the Cleveland Cavs and Toronto Raptors was a rare display of black coaching prowess as African-American coaches Tyronn Lue and Dwane Casey stalked the sideline as leaders of their championship hopeful franchises," J.R. Gamble wrote Thursday for the Shadow League. ". . . .However, when you take a closer look at the types of jobs African-Americans are getting, you will see a lingering disparity in opportunity at the highest positions of leadership within the league and on the team level. . . ."

"Snapchat just passed Twitter in monthly usage," Bryan Clark wrote Friday for thenextweb.com. However, Clark also wrote, " Snapchat is in a category all its own, and it’s really unfair to the decade-old Twitter to compare it with an upstart app that holds the attention — however fleeting — of the millennials it once engaged. . . ."

Advertisement

"The Media Deserts Project, directed by Dr. Michelle Ferrier, associate dean for innovation, research/creative activity and graduate studies at the Scripps College of Communication, has received a $25,000 grant from the News Measures Project at Rutgers University, to deepen mapping of the media ecosystem," Ohio University reported on May 26.

"Two criminal defamation suits filed against journalists by the president of Chile and a Peruvian governor could have a chilling effect on the press in both South American countries," the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday.

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.

Advertisement

Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince at journal-isms-owner@yahoogroups.com.

To be notified of new columns, contact journal-isms-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and tell us who you are.