A stunt by CNN anchor Don Lemon in which he held up the ultimate racial slur and asked viewers whether they found it offensive has drawn a rare rebuke from the president of the National Association of Black Journalists, which only two years ago saw Lemon co-host one of its awards programs.
"On CNN Monday night, anchor Don Lemon jumped into the national fray when he held up the flag and asked if it offended people," NABJ President Bob Butler wrote Wednesday in his "President's Corner" message on the NABJ site. "It clearly does — especially African Americans, whom it reminds of the notion of white supremacy and a time when it was OK to enslave, lynch and discriminate against African Americans. It is so offensive that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says it's time for it to be removed from the state capitol.
"But during the same segment, Lemon held up a sign with 'the N-word' on it and asked viewers if they were offended. This comes in wake of the news that President Obama, often criticized for soft-pedaling on racial matters, had used the word on comedian Marc Maron's podcast to make a point about how far we still have to go in this country as it pertains to race.
"The difference in Obama and Lemon’s use of the word is stark: The president was trying to make a valid point about the volatile nature of the country's race relations; Lemon could have asked the question without showing the word on television.
"To use the N-word, perhaps the most vile word in the American vocabulary, to take an impromptu and unscientific survey about its maliciousness was an inappropriate stunt that distracts from what the country ought to be talking about — how we relate to one another. Instead, we are focusing on one word that only begins to peel away hundreds of years of racial hate and inequality in this country.
"As members of the news media we all have an obligation to do better."
NABJ rarely rebukes its own members. Two years ago, Lemon co-hosted its "Salute to Excellence" awards with Cari Champion of ESPN. Engaging in happy talk during the evening, they mispronounced and garbled names (as Lemon warned that they might). At one point, Lemon declined to try to pronounce the name of Seniboye Tienabeso of ABC News, one of the winners. Lemon said Tienabeso's name was too difficult to pronounce.
"Lemon's gaffes this year offer a case study in how to choose words wisely — or not," David Uberti wrote in December for Columbia Journalism Review, placing him on its widely quoted list of "The worst journalism of 2014."
On Tuesday, Paul Farhi of the Washington Post began a piece about Lemon by asking, "Once again, Twitter is howling about Don Lemon. And that's a bad thing?"
Farhi recalled the comments of CNN President Jeff Zucker in GQ in April. "Let me put it this way. There's certainly a lot of interest in Don Lemon, and that's a good thing for Don and for CNN. You know, Don is a little bit of a lightning rod. Frankly, we needed a little bit of lightning. . . . "
Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Obama is right about the N-word and racism
Stephen Collinson and Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN: Why Obama's N-word was shocking
Hudson Hongo, Gawker: Has Don Lemon Lost His Goddamn Mind?
Greg Howard, Deadspin: Fire Don Lemon (Into The Sun)
Sarah Larson, New Yorker: "WTF" with Barack Obama
Nick Mangione, New York Observer: Fun With Don Lemon: The Internet Skewers CNN's Strange Segment
"The third season of the ancestry-research program Finding Your Roots, hosted by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., has been suspended by PBS after a determination that an episode of the program featuring actor Ben Affleck violated the network's standards," The Root reported on Wednesday.
"In a strongly worded statement, PBS announced that the network is 'postponing the scheduling of the third season of FINDING YOUR ROOTS pending the production team's implementation of staffing and other process changes that will significantly enhance the ability of PBS and WETA to oversee the editorial development of each episode on a timely basis, and to ensure that the problems that arose in episode #204 will be avoided in the future.'
"PBS also noted that a commitment to the fourth season of the program will be delayed until 'we are satisfied that the editorial standards of the series have been successfully raised to a level in which we can have confidence.'
"Episode No. 204 featured the genealogy search of Affleck, who, it was later revealed, had requested that the program be edited to remove a reference to his slaveholding ancestor. This request was discovered, PBS notes in its statement, only after a series of emails were uncovered between Gates (who is also chairman of The Root) and Sony Chairman William Lynton. In those emails, Gates sought advice from Lynton about how to handle Affleck's editing request.
"When the program ultimately aired in October, there was no mention of the Affleck slaveholding ancestor. PBS said that the revelation of these emails months later, after Sony was hacked by WikiLeaks, "marked the first time that either PBS or WNET learned of this [Affleck] request.' . . ."
In a statement, Gates said, in part, "I sincerely regret not discussing my editing rationale with our partners at PBS and WNET and I apologize for putting PBS and its member stations in the position of having to defend the integrity of their programming. . . ."
Gates said in April, "Ben [Affleck's] ancestor's story just wasn't as interesting as the other stories about slave-owners that we did use, such as those about the families of Ken Burns and Anderson Cooper. . . ."
"On Monday morning, 16 reporters at the Charleston-based Post and Courier newspaper began an ambitious assignment: Get all 170 state lawmakers to say whether they believe the Confederate flag should be removed from South Carolina's statehouse grounds," Michael Calderone reported Tuesday for the Huffington Post.
"The long-simmering flag debate gained traction after nine people were killed Wednesday night in a racially motivated shooting inside the city's Emanuel A.M.E. Church. Still, many South Carolina lawmakers — not to mention Republican presidential hopefuls — appeared hesitant in the days that followed to voice a strong opinion on the flag debate, presumably out of concern that their stand could have political consequences.
"The reporters' calls and emails, along with a real-time interactive tally of where each politician stood, likely added pressure to finally weigh in.
"While the Post and Courier's editorial board argued on Tuesday's front page for the flag's removal, executive editor Mitch Pugh told The Huffington Post the newsroom wasn't advocating a position by launching the effort to get each of South Carolina's legislators on the record. The motivation, he said, stemmed from the belief that 'lawmakers have an obligation to tell their constituents how they intend to vote or how they feel about this issue.' . . ."
"This blighted boy with red hate in his eyes but otherwise colorless curdled milk skin — this boy is a failure," Sally Jenkins wrote Saturday for the Washington Post. "It takes more than a weak stick like him to start a race war."
Jenkins is a sports columnist for the Post and co-author with John Stauffer of "The State of Jones," about Unionists in Mississippi during the Civil War.
"Personally, I pray that the lives of nine Charleston, S.C., martyrs serve this purpose: Instead of hammering and whispering on racism, we finally reach a tone of agreement based in simple self-truth," Jenkins continued.
"Surely we all can shake on the idea that the murder of preachers, teachers and librarians in the name of color demands that we examine how such an old, infectious poison got into the veins of a newborn American boy. And that requires admitting that we have been teaching fiction instead of American history. We have romanticized the roots of hate with crinoline and celluloid.
"If you went to Germany and saw a war memorial with a Nazi flag flying over it, what would you think of those people? You might think they were unrepentant. You might think they were in a lingering state of denial about their national atrocities.
"The Confederate battle flag is an American swastika, the relic of traitors and totalitarians, symbol of a brutal regime, not a republic. The Confederacy was treason in defense of a still deeper crime against humanity: slavery. If weaklings find racial hatred to be a romantic expression of American strength and purity, make no mistake that it begins by unwinding a red thread from that flag.
"Yet the governor of South Carolina found it easier to call for the execution of this milkweed boy than it was for her to finally call for the lowering of that banner. Why? . . ."
Zeba Blay, HuffPost LatinoVoices: Taking Down The Confederate Flag Won't 'Solve' Racism
Yesha Callahan, The Root: Larry Wilmore: President Obama Is 1st President to Say the N-Word Without Expecting Someone to Serve Him
Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic: What This Cruel War Was Over
Jelani Cobb, New Yorker: Equality and the Confederate Flag
Joe Davidson, Washington Post: The Confederate flag isn't just offensive. It's treasonous
Charles J. Dean, al.com: Alabama Gov. Bentley removes Confederate flags from Capitol grounds
Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: As Confederate flag loses support, Mayor Landrieu keys in on Confederate monuments
Editorial, Daily News, New York: Symbol of shame: Confederate flag must disappear from South Carolina statehouse grounds
Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle: The Confederate flag needs to go
Editorial, Washington Post: The Confederate battle flag is not worthy of respect
Juan Gonzalez, Daily News, New York: Confederate flag is finally seen by many people as symbol of white supremacy and racism
Kristen Hare, Poynter Institute: 13 newspapers that led with news of the call to take down the Confederate flag
Gromer Jeffers Jr., Dallas Morning News: Jeffers: Nation’s conversation on race needs to flow
Allen Johnson, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.: Charles' Aycock legacy is as hurtful as that flag
Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: South Carolina moves to shed itself of symbol of 'hurt, pain and humiliation'
Antonio Olivo, Washington Post: Why and how the Confederate battle flag was created 154 years ago
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Prisoners of a long-lost cause
Michael Pope, WAMU-FM, Washington: Former Home State Of Confederate Capital Confronts Awkward History
Ishmael Reed, CounterPunch: An Open Letter to the Pope on the Confederate Flag
Campbell Robertson, Monica Davey and Julie Bosman, New York Times: Calls to Drop Confederate Emblems Spread Nationwide
Josh Shaffer, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Drop the flag, but keep Confederate monuments
"In the 14 years since Al Qaeda carried out attacks on New York and the Pentagon, extremists have regularly executed smaller lethal assaults ins the United States, explaining their motives in online manifestoes or social media rants," Scott Shane reported Wednesday for the New York Times.
"But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center. . . ."
Gene Demby, NPR "Code Switch": Dylann Roof And The Stubborn Myth Of The Colorblind Millennial
Chenjerai Kumanyika, NPR "Code Switch": Dispatch From Charleston: The Cost Of White Comfort
Courtland Milloy, Washington Post: What lessons will be learned from Charleston?
Susannah Nesmith, Columbia Journalism Review: How Charleston's paper captured the response to a horrific church shooting on its front page
Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Killer's bid to trigger race war rejected
Ron Wimberly, Whit Taylor, Keith Knight, Chris Kindred, Richie Pope, Shannon Wright and Darryl Ayo, medium.com: "If James Baldwin didn't change fucking America, what's a comic essay going to do?"
"The Washington Post and Univision News will sponsor a Republican presidential candidates forum ahead of crucial primaries in March 2016 as part of a broader collaboration that will include groundbreaking polling, joint reporting projects and unprecedented coverage of Hispanic voters and the issues that matter most to this key demographic," the Post announced Wednesday.
"The Republican forum will take place after the four early states have completed their contests and during the run-up to what could be a series of decisive events in major states. The March calendar includes primaries in Texas, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan, among others. The state of the race will determine the date and location of the Post-Univision forum and invitations to the leading candidates will be extended at that time.
" 'Hispanics are the fastest-growing electorate in America today and will be crucial in deciding the next U.S. president,' said Washington Post Managing Editor Kevin Merida. 'We are thrilled to partner with Univision. Our goal is to produce together the most authoritative, innovative coverage of Hispanic voters ever seen during a presidential campaign cycle. We will delve into their lives, how they relate to the candidates and how the candidates relate to them.'
" 'This important alliance with The Washington Post brings together two media giants with tremendous audience reach, leveraging Univision News' undisputed leadership among the Spanish-speaking population and The Post's unmatched political reporting and expertise,' said Isaac Lee, President of News and Digital, UCI, and CEO of Fusion. . . ."
Alex Griswold, Mediaite: The Media's Despicable, Racist Attack on Bobby Jindal
Michael Malone, Broadcasting & Cable: Univision Founder Villanueva Made His Mark
Erik Pedersen, Deadline: Danny Villanueva Dies: Univision Co-Founder & Spanish-Language TV Pioneer
"The New York Times' TV coverage has made significant advances since the paper hired former Vulture editorial director Gilbert Cruz to be its TV editor in February," Sam Adams wrote Wednesday for Criticwire, "but there was still major one obstacle in the Grey Lady's way: chief television critic Alessandra Stanley, who tended to treat covering the idiot box as if it was beneath her while simultaneously loading up her reviews with errors of both fact and judgment: ParsingShonda Rhimes' shows as the product of an 'angry black woman' was one notorious example, but hardly the only one.
"BuzzFeed's Anne Helen Petersen focused on Stanley in an article titled 'Here's Why the New York Times' Television Criticism Is So Bad,' and the Columbia Journalism Review reported in 2009 on her 'long history of error.' "
"Well, today there is joy in TV Land, as well as in the hearts of those who've long been hoping the Times' TV coverage would rise to the level of its movie and pop music counterparts. Stanley's reign of error is no more, as she has been reassigned to a new beat covering, in [executive] editor Dean Baquet's words, 'the richest of the rich.' . . ."
PressRun, New York Times Co.: Alessandra Stanley Moves to New Beat, Covering Inequality in America
"The killings in Charleston, South Carolina, heartbreakingly elicit another focus on race," Merrill Perlman wrote Tuesday for Columbia Journalism Review.
"In our case, not about race as a social construct, but race as it appears in print: Specifically, when to use capital letters or not for people who are identified with the label 'black' or 'white.'
"A website originally registered to the man accused in the Charleston killings, Dylann Roof, capitalizes 'White,' but not 'black,' as do many other white supremacist sites. Publications aimed at blacks often capitalize 'Black,' but not 'white,' and there are strong feelings that 'Black] should be capitalized. . . . "
"Most journalism-related style guides, like those of the Associated Press and New York Times, call for putting both 'white' and 'black' in all lowercase letters. Others, like The Chicago Manual of Style, allow capitalization if an author or publication prefers to do so. Dictionaries also allow both capitalization and lowercase versions. In other words, it's fielder's choice whether to capitalize 'black' and 'white' or not. . . ."
Perlman also wrote, "So why does it matter? Capital letters jump off a page, and signal an importance greater than that of the uncapitalized words. One reason partisans capitalize 'White' or 'Black' is to denote its Importance in messages, even subliminally, magnified by lowercasing the 'other.' . . ."
The discussion is not new. A century ago, Lester A. Walton, managing editor of the New York Age, argued to the Associated Press that "Negro" should be capitalized.
"Some of our race papers refer to us as 'Afro-Americans,' refusing to employ the term 'Negro' because of the disinclination of the white press to capitalize the 'n' in Negro [PDF]," Walton wrote to the AP on April 21, 1913.
"In the daily press you frequently read an article which is written something like this: 'Every race was represented at the conference held in Carnegie Lyceum Tuesday evening. The Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, and negro were much in evidence.' What a rank injustice to the Negro to use the lower case 'n' in this instance! . . . ."
Most of Walton's letter discussed who could be considered "Negro" and who "black." "Black Americans are becoming scarcer each year, and within one hundred years it will be difficult to find a real black Negro in this country," Walton wrote.
"Under cover of darkness, female janitors face rape and assault," reads a headline from the Center for Investigative Reporting over a story by Bernice Yeung. The report is part of "Rape on the Night Shift," a collaboration between the Center's Reveal, PBS "Frontline," the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, Univision and public broadcasting's KQED in San Francisco. The program debuted Saturday on Univision.
Rashod Ollison, entertainment writer at the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, won two first-place Excellence-in-Features awards from the Society for Features Journalism; the Pilot's Hyunsoo Leo Kim was part of a team that won first place for video storytelling; and the staff of the Washington Post won for digital innovation for its package "The N-Word." List of winners.
The Denver Post, edited by Greg Moore, was among the winners in the 2015 National Edward R. Murrow Awards, the Radio Television Digital News Association announced Wednesday. The Post won the Overall Excellence Award in the large online news organization division as well as awards for news series and sports reporting.
Entries are open for the annual Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability. The deadline is July 31 at 11:59 p.m. The first-place winner is awarded $5,000 and receives an invitation to speak at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Entries must be published or aired between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015.
"On her personal website, Shaun Robinson captions herself as follows: TV Host – Producer – Author – Motown Gal,"Richard Horgan wrote Wednesday for FishbowlNY. "Today, she announced a step that will move the Producer tag to the front. After 16 years with Access Hollywood as a correspondent and weekend host, Robinson is shifting to a development deal with NBC Universal, via her banner RobinHood Productions Inc. . . ."
"BBC diversity adviser Lady Grey-Thompson has said the BBC may have to spend £100m [$157 million U.S.] on better reflecting the make-up of its audience and called for executives who fail to embrace change to be fired," John Plunkett reported Tuesday for Britain's Guardian newspaper. "The former Paralympian is a member of BBC director general Tony Hall's diversity action group, aimed at improving the corporation's disabled and black and Asian minority ethnic (BAME) representation. Following a campaign led by Lenny Henry, another member of the BBC's action group, the corporation announced new diversity measures last year . . ."
"Workers of ThisDay newspaper, owned by Nduka Obaigbena, on Thursday shut down the headquarters of the newspaper in Apapa, Lagos State," Nigeria's naija247news.com reported. "Their grievance is their unpaid salaries and allowances. While some put the outstanding salary at eight months, others said they are being owed nine months salary. . . ." Obaigbena is chairman and editor-in-chief of Arise News, a television operation that hired several African American journalists. He is owner and publisher of a fashion and culture magazine also named ARISE, and is publisher of several other titles, including ThisDay.