• 3 Months After That Letter, the Other Shoe Drops
  • Netflix Spokesman Out After Using ‘N Word’
  • Forced Family Breakups Are Part of America, People of Color Say
  • How That Devastating Audio Clip Came to Be
  • Obama Separated Families, but Difference Is Scale
  • NAHJ President Says Role Is to Support Journalists
  • In 26 States, Whites’ Deaths Now Outnumber Births
  • Black-Press Group Won’t ‘Censor’ Raynard Jackson
  • Theo Caviness, Art Director, Dies at 42
  • Short Takes

Editor’s note: Column contains image of a dead infant.

Sharon Toomer at her first NABJ board meeting as executive director on Oct. 17. (Credit: Marlon Walker/Twitter)

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3 Months After That Letter, the Other Shoe Drops

Three months after she delivered a blistering five-page letter to leaders of the National Association of Black Journalists criticizing the “degree of bad business culture” she said the board of directors exemplified, Sharon Toomer resigned as NABJ’s executive director, the organization announced as the work week closed on Friday.

NABJ said last September that it had hired Toomer, “an accomplished media executive and nonprofit leader,” after an extensive national search that Toomer’s letter said cost NABJ $40,000.

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In an email blast to members blandly headlined “NABJ Staffing Update” and received at 4:32 p.m. Eastern time, NABJ said:

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) board of directors on Monday accepted the resignation of Executive Director Sharon Toomer. . . .

“By the NABJ convention, the board will provide an update regarding the recruitment of a new executive director to lead the NABJ into the future.

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“Last month, longtime NABJ member Drew Berry of Drew Berry & Associates LLC was hired to assist with convention planning and will also work on national office operations. Berry is a former television executive and has previously served as NABJ’s interim executive director. . . .”

In Toomer’s unprecedented letter, obtained on March 16 by Journal-isms, the executive director said that the “degree of bad business culture,” exemplified by board members’ meddling behavior, was great enough to warrant recruiting an outsider “to facilitate the necessary organizational turnaround.”

She noted a turnover in executive directors in which six people had held the job since 2009, counting those who served as consultants or held the role on an interim basis.

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What most concerned the organization’s founders and board members, however, was that Toomer sent her letter to two of the organization’s funders and declared that, “Regrettably, there is not even one board member who I would address to take this matter toward substantive fixing. . . .”

Vanessa Williams, a Washington Post reporter and NABJ president from 1997 to 1999, wrote to board members and other NABJ leaders on March 24, “[E]ven if one argues there’s no harm in sharing her concerns with NABJ board members and founders, sending the letter [to] two major funding partners crosses the line: If any one of us shared this kind of information with our employers’ advertisers, i.e., their sources of revenue, would we really expect to be allowed back into the building the next day? . . .”

The two funders were the Democracy Fund and the Ford Foundation, which are both NABJ members.

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Williams also wrote, “I don’t know the executive director; I’m just going by what’s in her letter. But if there really is ‘not even one board member’ that she believes is ‘self-aware enough’ or is courageous enough to stand up for what is in the best interests of the organization, then how does she move forward with this board? . . .”

Drew Berry

Asked by telephone whether she would have done anything differently, Toomer told Journal-isms on Friday, “I’m proud of my work at NABJ, and my contributions and my accomplishments.”

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Asked what those accomplishments were, she said, “We were successful at fund-raising,” and “bringing on talent that’s working out” well. Without citing fund-raising figures, Toomer said, “We were exceeding expectations. . . . It was a good run.”

As for what she would like to do next, Toomer said, “I would like to put to good use my expertise, experience, skill and grit to a meaningful, substantive mission given the extraordinary times we are living in.”

Meanwhile, Berry confirmed by telephone Saturday that he received a call about six weeks ago asking him to assist again with the annual convention, to be held Aug. 1 through 5 in Detroit, and said he has been doing so, working remotely from Tallahassee, Fla.

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He said the association projects just under 3,000 attendees for the event, a figure he considered “very good.” The career fair is sold out, Berry said, and so NABJ is adding a second room. Programming will be largely geared toward millennials, who are now the largest group of attendees.

Asked whether the concerns Toomer raised about the NABJ board’s “overall system of governance and culture” would be addressed, Berry said he believed so.

“They have a desire to operate a best-practices board,” he said. “There’s an appetite for a best-practices model.”

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Netflix Spokesman Out After Using ‘N Word’

Netflix is letting go of its top communications spokesman,” Bryn Elise Sandberg and Lesley Goldberg reported Friday for the Hollywood Reporter.

Jonathan Friedland, who’s served as the streaming giant’s chief communications officer for the past six years, is out at the company after ‘insensitive’ remarks he made to his team.

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Sources say that Friedland used the N-word in a meeting with other Netflix staffers, some of whom later reported the incident. Per insiders, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sent a company-wide email explaining Friedland’s firing around 12:45 p.m. PT on Friday . . . . [Readers are referred to the full memo.]

“Friedland, a former Disney executive, first joined Netflix in February 2011 as vp global corporate communications, and was promoted to the top comms role the following year. A replacement for Friedland has yet to be named.

“ ‘I’m leaving Netflix after seven years,’ said Friedland in a statement to The [Hollywood] Reporter. ‘Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the example we set and unfortunately I fell short of that standard when I was insensitive in speaking to my team about words that offend in comedy. I feel awful about the distress this lapse caused to people at a company I love and where I want everyone to feel included and appreciated. I feel honored to have built a brilliant and diverse global team and to have been part of this collective adventure in building the world’s leading entertainment service.’

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“In his post, Friedland oversaw media and content publicity for the streamer’s original series, films and specials in 190 countries around the world. In addition to previously serving as senior vp corporate communications at The Walt Disney Co., Friedland was also formerly a foreign correspondent and editor for The Wall Street Journal and Far Eastern Economic Review. . . .”

Forced Family Breakups Are Part of America, People of Color Say

The image of a 2-year-old Honduran asylum seeker crying as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas, on June 12 was made by award-winning photographer John Moore. It was shared over social media countless times and appeared on numerous covers of newspapers across the country, including the Daily News in New York.

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Amid the international uproar over the Trump administration’s now-modified policy of separating migrant children from their parents, Japanese Americans, Native Americans, African Americans and other nonwhites are saying that the breakup of Latino families at the border has shameful precedents.

‘“The act of ripping children away from their parents is nothing new for the United States. Separating children and their families to ‘kill the Indian to save the man’ by sending Native children to boarding schools, and doing it in the name of religion, is one generation removed from my family,’ wrote Peggy Flanagan on Twitter,” Mark Trahant reported Tuesday for Indian Country Today. “Flanagan, White Earth [Ojibwe], is a candidate for lt. governor in Minnesota. . . .”

I never thought we’d have to deal with camps again, as a Japanese American; it was always in the abstractTony Osumi says,” Karen Grigsby Bates reported for NPR’s “Code Switch.” “But this is a wake-up call. This is a time for people of good conscience to speak up.”

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Renée Graham wrote in the Boston Globe, “Anyone who believes the malicious separation of immigrant children from their parents is contrary to American values doesn’t understand what — and whom — America has always valued.

“It should now be abundantly clear that, in a nation that values whiteness above all else, it’s not those thousands of brown children being kept in cages.

“Instead of ‘E pluribus unum’ — ‘Out of many, one’ — George Santayana’s famous observation seems a more fitting motto for this hardheaded nation: ‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Always we behave as if these atrocities are alien to the lauded American character. In a country that has thrived on racial subjugation and white supremacy, what we’re witnessing is not a glitch. It’s a feature. . . .”

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The crescendo against President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy finally became overwhelming.

Trump “caved to enormous political pressure on Wednesday and signed an executive order meant to end the separation of families at the border by detaining parents and children together for an indefinite period,Michael D. Shear, Abby Goodnough and Maggie Haberman wrote for the New York Times.

They also wrote, “But ending the practice of separating families still faces legal and practical obstacles. A federal judge could refuse to give the Trump administration the authority it wants to hold families in custody for more than 20 days, which is the current limit because of a 1997 court order.

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“And the president’s order does nothing to address the plight of the more than 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents under the president’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy. . . .”

Time’s latest

Still, the genie was out of the bottle for those who saw historical parallels.

[I]t’s not the first time the U.S. government has split up families, detained children or allowed others to do so, Russell Contreras wrote Wednesday for the Associated Press from Albuquerque, N.M.

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Contreras categorized the reasons:

“SLAVERY . . .

“NATIVE AMERICAN BOARDING SCHOOLS . . .

“POVERTY . . .

“IMMIGRATION . . .

“JAPANESE INTERNMENT CAMPS . . .”

Even the immigration statute that underpinned the Trump administration’s actions had racist origins, according to Ian MacDougall, writing Tuesday for ProPublica.

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Amid a bipartisan backlash, President Trump has tried repeatedly to shift blame to Democrats for his own administration’s ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy, which has resulted in more than 2,300 migrant children being taken from their families along the U.S.–Mexico border,” MacDougall wrote. “ ‘The Democrats have to change their law — that’s their law,’ Trump told reporters on Friday.

“The president didn’t specify which law he was talking about. But the statute at the center of his administration’s policy is the work of Republicans — with origins dating back all the way to World War I — albeit with substantial Democratic support along the way. Known originally as the ‘Undesirable Aliens Act,’ the statute would not exist without support from, respectively, a eugenicist and a white supremacist. . . .”

While people of color share a common history that includes forced separation of parents from children, Frederick H. Lowe, who publishes the Chicago-based BlackmanStreetToday, reminded readers that solidarity among those groups cannot be taken for granted.

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I have been called nigger several times by Mexicans who also gave me the I- will- kill- you-look,” Lowe wrote. “Even in benign situations, Mexicans let blacks know they hate them. In one of the waiting rooms at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Mexicans refused to sit next to blacks.

“I was a young reporter at the Chicago Tribune when I was assigned to cover a job demonstration at the city’s old post office. Hispanic men said blacks had tails like animals, something I expected to hear from members of the Klu Klux Klan, not a group of people blacks were supposed to form an alliance with. The audience cheered, and the Hispanic women laughed. One man said blacks had no dignity. I was a young man when that happened and it has stuck with me until now. . . . “

How That Devastating Audio Clip Came to Be

(ProPublica/YouTube)

The desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children, separated from their parents one day last week by immigration authorities at the border, makes for excruciating listening,” Ginger Thompson wrote Monday for ProPublica. “Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream ‘Mami’ and ‘Papá’ over and over again, as if those are the only words they know. . . .”

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Ginger Thompson

The audio reported on by Thompson can be credited with helping to move the outrage over the family separations past the breaking point. In just one example, a reporter turned on the audio recording as Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. secretary of homeland security, defended the administration’s policies at a White House briefing.

Thompson, who joined ProPublica in 2014 after 15 years at the New York Times, explained in her Monday story how she came to obtain the recording.

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“It was recorded last week inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility. The person who made the recording asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. That person gave the audio to Jennifer Harbury, a well-known civil rights attorney who has lived and worked for four decades in the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas border with Mexico.”Harbury provided it to ProPublica. She said the person who recorded it was a client who ‘heard the children’s weeping and crying, and was devastated by it’,” Thompson wrote.

“The person estimated that the children on the recording are between 4 and 10 years old. It appeared that they had been at the detention center for less than 24 hours, so their distress at having been separated from their parents was still raw. Consulate officials tried to comfort them with snacks and toys. But the children were inconsolable. . . .”

Obama Separated Families, but Difference Is Scale

Immigration protests in Washington in June 2014 (Credit: Michigan United)

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President Barack Obama separated parents from their children at the border,” Franco Ordoñez and Anita Kumar wrote Thursday for the McClatchy Washington Bureau.

“Obama prosecuted mothers for coming to the United States illegally. He fast tracked deportations. And yes, he housed unaccompanied children in tent cities.

“For much of the country — and President Donald Trump — the prevailing belief is that Obama was the president who went easier on immigrants.

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“Neither Obama nor Democrats created Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, which calls for every illegal border crosser to be prosecuted and leads to their children being detained in separate facilities before being shipped to a shelter and eventually a sponsor family.

“But Obama’s policy helped create the road map of enforcement that Trump has been following — and building on. . . .”

Ordoñez and Kumar also wrote, “Obama took other controversial steps as well, including fighting to block efforts to require unaccompanied children to have legal representation and barring detained mothers with their children from being released on bond.

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“The administration also deported a teenage mother and her son back to Honduras soon after she attempted suicide at Texas family detention center.

“Her lawyer, Bryan Johnson, finds [it] difficult making comparisons saying they were both tough on enforcement. But he worries comparing what Trump did to Obama makes the crisis today look less significant.

“’Obama was bad. . . . I think the main difference is scale here with Trump.’

“While Obama downplayed his enforcement, Trump has embraced and made it a signature issue of his presidency.

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Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, an advocacy organization, said the difference between Trump and previous presidents is in his language.

“ ‘No previous administration has referred to immigration as an infestation,’ he said, referring to a tweet by Trump on Tuesday. ‘No president has ever spoken of immigrants and refugees in the awful way that President Trump has.’ . . .”

[Philip Rucker, Washington Post White House bureau chief, went further Wednesday, writing, “Echoing the words and images of the white nationalist movement to dehumanize immigrants and inflame racial tensions has become a defining feature of Donald Trump’s presidency and of the Republican Party’s brand. . . .”]

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Meanwhile, “Several former Obama administration officials took to social media and news outlets last month to explain a gallery of years-old photos that showed immigrant children sleeping in shoddy conditions at a government-run holding facility in Arizona,”Michelle Mark reported Thursday for businessinsider.com.

Mark also wrote, “A number of prominent liberals — and even a former Obama administration official — shared the photos, mistakenly believing they depicted the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrant children who were forcibly separated from their parents. . . .”

NAHJ President Says Role Is to Support Journalists

Some members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists have taken to social media to criticize its leadership for its “silence” on the controversy over the separation of families, but the group’s president says its role is to support the journalists who are covering the issue.

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Brandon Benavides

“The national board is focused on newsrooms being fair and accurate while reporting on this humanitarian crisis at the border,” NAHJ President Brandon Benavides said in a statement provided Wednesday to Journal-isms.

“Part of that is working to ensure we have as many voices at the table as possible and keeping this coverage front and center. This is when journalism matters most and we are here supporting our journalists who give a real voice to our communities.”

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Anita Bennett, writing Wednesday for Urban Hollywood, reported the restlessness among some NAHJ members.

Despite the public outcry, a check of NAHJ’s website Wednesday showed no mention of the family detentions,” Bennett wrote. “The group’s verified Twitter feed included tweets of news stories about the issue, but there was no official statement.

“Meanwhile on Facebook, former Chicago Tribune reporter, Ray Quintanilla wrote on the NAHJ page: ‘This is likely my final year in NAHJ because the group has lost its advocacy voice. What a shame.’

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“As of Wednesday afternoon, his comment had generated more than 250 reactions.

“ ‘I hear you. I hope the next leadership can lead better,’ wrote NBC Los Angeles reporter-anchor and former NAHJ president, Mekahlo Medina.

“ ‘Look, it’s clear to me that NAHJ has reverted back to this idea of a journalists club instead of an organization with a mission these last two years. It’s lost some of its bite, fight and vision,’ Medina said in a second comment.

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“Freelance Dallas reporter and TV commentator, Rebecca Aguilar stated: ‘Sad that not one NAHJ board member, NOT ONE got on here to engage. Very sad that the president Brandon Benavides kept silent. When you are leader of an organization and people vote you in, they trust you will say something even if it is “no comment.” ‘

“However, Houston Chronicle narrative writer Mónica Rhor countered: ‘As a journalism organization, NAHJ should not be taking sides in a political issue or news event. That would end up damaging the credibility of Latino journalists in the field.’ . . .”

In 26 States, Whites’ Deaths Now Outnumber Births

Deaths now outnumber births among white people in more than half the states in the country, demographers have found, signaling what could be a faster-than-expected transition to a future in which whites are no longer a majority of the American population,” Sabrina Tavernise reported Wednesday for the New York Times.

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“The Census Bureau has projected that whites could drop below 50 percent of the population around 2045, a relatively slow-moving change that has been years in the making. But a new report this week found that whites are dying faster than they are being born now in 26 states, up from 17 just two years earlier, and demographers say that shift might come even sooner.

“ ‘It’s happening a lot faster than we thought,’ said Rogelio Sáenz, a demographer at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a co-author of the report. It examines the period from 1999 to 2016 using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the federal agency that tracks births and deaths. He said he was so surprised at the finding that at first he thought it was a mistake. . . .”

Mike Allen, Axios: 1 big thing: The biggest blunder of the Trump presidency

Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times: It’s time to deport la migra from California

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Thi Bui, the Nib: Refugee to Detainee: How the U.S. is Deporting Those Seeking a Safe HavenSince the 1994 Crime Bill signed into law by Bill Clinton, refugees have been deported in droves. And Southeast Asians are being targeted. (June 13)

Jelani Cobb, New Yorker: Juneteenth and the Detention of Children in Texas

Mary C. Curtis, Roll Call: Trump May Have American Carnage, but Biden Has American Corny

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Editorial, Boston Globe: Stephen Miller is the architect of family separation at the border. He must go.

Paul Farhi, Washington Post: Propaganda or news: Should media publish government’s child-detention photos?

R. Andrew Free, Latino Rebels: A Critical Thread About Why Separation of Families in Border Is Not Just a Trump Admin Issue

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Luis Gomez, San Diego Union-Tribune: What Laura Ingraham got wrong about detention centers in calling them ‘summer camps’

Shaun King, the Intercept: Separating Migrant Families Is Barbaric. It’s Also What the U.S. Has Been Doing to People of Color for Hundreds of Years.

Anita Kumar and Franco Ordoñez, McClatchy Washington Bureau: Trump’s immigration order replaces one crisis with another

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Alexis C. Madrigal, the Atlantic: The Making of an Online Moral Crisis

Debbie Nathan, the Intercept: An Abused Woman Came to the U.S. Seeking Asylum. The Government Took her 5-Year-Old Son. This Is How She Got Him Back.

Aaron Payment, indianz.com: Innocent children victimized again by our government

Troy Patterson, New Yorker: At the Border, TV Networks Find Eloquence in Starkness, Speechlessness, and Disbelief

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Julia Preston, Marshall Project: What You Should Know About Family Separations

Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds and Rev. Dr. Keith Magee, TriceEdneyWire.com: Hate Thy Neighbor Colors Sessions’ Immigration Practices

Albor Ruiz, Al Dia, Philadelphia: Trump’s Cruel Child Snatchers

Stephanie Tsoflias Siegel, TVSpy: NY1 Reporter Gets Exclusive Video of Children Being Escorted Into Foster Facility

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Matt Smith and Aura Bogado, Reveal, Center for Investigative Reporting: Immigrant children forcibly injected with drugs, lawsuit claims

R. Thomas Umstead, Multichannel News: Hollywood Speaks Out On Migrant Children Crisis

Omar Villafranca, CBS News: Treacherous journey to U.S. a last resort for some fleeing violence in El Salvador

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Julia Waldow and Emily Kohlman, CNN: This is why there are so few pictures of migrant children

Calvin Woodward and Elliot Spagat, Associated Press: AP FACT CHECK: GOP now blames court for family separation

Black-Press Group Won’t ‘Censor’ Raynard Jackson

The National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade association of publishers of black newspapers, does not take responsibility for errors made by columnist Raynard Jackson, whose work it distributes, the NNPA chairman told Journal-isms on Wednesday.

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Dorothy R. Leavell (Credit: Victor Powell)

“We don’t censor anyone” whose work is distributed with “their byline on it,” Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Chicago Crusader and Gary (Ind.) Crusader, said. She said she does not run the column in the Crusader, but that within NNPA, “that is a decision to be made by the publisher.” However, she said she would look into the matter.

As reported in this space this week, Jackson, a Republican operative and regular columnist with the NNPA News Service, flayed the White House Correspondents’ Association and the National Association of Black Journalists in his latest column, using arguments that were inaccurate or betrayed a misunderstanding of how the groups operate.

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Jackson asserted, for example, that in the correspondents’ association, black journalists have had “little to no significant involvement in the organization or its leadership,” when in fact Bob Ellison, who is African American, has been president of the organization and two other black journalists have been board members. Another column claimed that Martin Luther King Jr. did not advocate “special treatment” for black people, when King had answered in the affirmative when asked whether he favored “a multibillion-dollar program of preferential treatment for the Negro.” News organizations often edit opinion columns for accuracy, as they do news stories, or they simply may choose not to publish them.

Leavell is leading an African American group of investors who are buying the Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly that covers the arts, culture and politics, the Sun-Times, the Reader’s current owner, announced on Friday. She said by telephone Wednesday that while she still could not disclose the names of the investors, they are business people who approached her about leading the effort.

Leavell said she visited the Reader Wednesday morning and spoke with staff members, adding that she did not know what changes in personnel would take place. “Some may not want to stay,” she said. “We want people who have a passion for that newspaper.” The Reader will have multicultural appeal, she said.

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Theo Caviness, Art Director, Dies at 42

Theo Caviness

Graphic artist Theo Caviness, who was art director at the Daily News before moving to ESPN, died Friday after suffering a massive heart attack,” Leonard Greene reported Monday for the Daily News in New York. “He was 42.

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“Caviness, whose family had a history of heart problems, died on his way from his Bristol, Conn., job to his home in the Bronx, said his wife, Bunmi.

“Caviness worked at the New York Post before moving over to The News in 2012, where he led the newspaper’s design team for three years.” The Post also published an obituary of Caviness Monday, but did not mention the Daily News.

“ ‘Theo made his career in two of the most intense tabloid newsrooms, where tempers and personalities clash often,’ said News Editor-in-Chief Jim Rich. ‘With that said, I’ve never heard anyone from either of those newsrooms have a bad thing to say about him. He was impossible not to like and respect. I’m devastated by his death and my heart aches for his family. . . .”

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Caviness was one of several newsroom staffers whom the News laid off in September 2015.

I’m not sure what is next. I need a few days to process and plan,” he told Journal-isms at the time. Caviness landed at the Wall Street Journal as a graphic designer in December 2015 and joined ESPN as associate manager in October 2016 and then senior digital designer in May 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile.

A GoFundMe page in Caviness’ memory had surpassed $50,000 in a $25,000 goal on Thursday. Over three days, more than 400 people had contributed.

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Short Takes

In this Sept. 14, 2017, file photo, Rohingya Muslim man Naseer Ud Din holds his infant son Abdul Masood, who drowned when the boat they were traveling in capsized just before reaching the shore. His wife, Hanida Begum, cries upon reaching the Bay of Bengal shore in Bangladesh. Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million, has sent more than 850,000 of the country’s 1.3 million Rohingya fleeing. This is one of the winning photos in the Associated Press Media Editors contest. See item, third below Ana DuVernay. (Credit: AP Photo/Dar Yasin, file)
  • Michelle Alexander will join the New York Times opinion pages as a columnist in September, the Times announced Thursday. “James Bennet, New York Times editorial page editor, said, ‘Michelle is the author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” the book that changed the way many of us think about criminal justice and about the persistence and adaptation of forms of racial control in the United States. She is a powerful writer, a fierce advocate for a more just world and a deep believer in open-minded, searching debate over how to achieve it.’ . . .”

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Michelle Alexander

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Issac J. Bailey

Traditional journalistic structures were used against our democracy, and we were the tools by which those efforts were rendered most effective,” Issac J. Bailey wrote Monday for Nieman Reports, discussing the Justice Department Inspector General’s June 14 report about the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Bailey also wrote, “How to handle such an event if it reoccurs? Put it on A20 under a small headline instead of A1 above the fold and in the segment after the weather on TV news, unless the law enforcement official making the announcement proves the newly discovered evidence is important as he suggests. . . .”.

  • Back in the day, you watched to learn the news,” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith told Vinson Cunningham for the June 25 issue of the New Yorker. “Now you can get the news in five minutes. Between your smartphones and everything else — you’ve always got the news. So you’re interested in watching different perspectives, hearing what people have to say, what their opinions are, and why. And sort of gauging whether or not they’re right or wrong. People think they know. They’re not interested in learning. They’re interested in hearing whether or not your perspective is aligned with theirs. If so, why, and if not, why not? That used to be just sports. Now it’s everywhere.” Cunningham continued, “ The job,’ he said, looking thrilled to have it, ‘is to be enough of a personality that they want to know what you think.’ . . .”
  • Descriptions of abuse suggest sexual torture is rampant in UAE-controlled prisons in Yemen,” Maggie Michael reported Wednesday for the Associated Press, referring to the United Arab Emirates. “Details of the US ally’s secret prisons and use of torture were exposed by an AP investigation in June last year. AP has since identified at least five jails where security forces allegedly use sexual torture against prisoners. . . .”
  • Univision Holdings Inc. has been offering buyouts to employees at Gizmodo Media Group, according to a person familiar with the matter, marking the latest case of a digital-media upstart tightening its belt,” Gerry Smith reported Wednesday for Bloomberg. “The former Gawker Media websites, which include the sports outlet Deadspin and the woman-focused site Jezebel, began offering employees buyout packages last week, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The idea is to reduce Gizmodo’s budget for editorial employees by 15 percent, the person said. . . .”
  • Only about a third of people have personally known a journalist,” Kevin Loker of the American Press Institute wrote Monday for medium.com, reporting on recent API surveys. “Fewer have ever contacted a journalist with story ideas or feedback (21 percent) and  —  despite how it might seem to journalists who spend a lot of time there  —  fewer still have conversed with a journalist on social media (17 percent). . . . Yet when Americans do interact with journalists or are involved in the news, most think it went pretty well. . . .”
  • Vasillios Pistolis, a United States Marine Corps lance corporal whom ProPublica and Frontline identified as a neo-Nazi and assailant during last August’s bloody white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., has been convicted at a court martial on charges of disobeying orders and making false statements,” A.C. Thompson of ProPublica and Ali Winston of PBS’ “Frontline” reported Wednesday for ProPublica. “Pistolis, 19, will be imprisoned for a month, docked pay and reduced in rank to private first class, and then likely forced from the Corps, according to a USMC spokesman. . . .”
  • Richard Valeriani, an NBC News correspondent who was once clubbed by an ax-wielding assailant at a civil rights demonstration, earned the ire of the Johnson and Nixon White Houses for his television reporting and later worked on the other side of the camera, advising corporate executives and celebrities as a media consultant, died June 18 at his home in Manhattan. He was 85,” Harrison Smith reported Tuesday for the Washington Post.

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Ava DuVernay created the scripted drama Queen Sugar, which debuted on OWN in 2016. She also directs many of its episodes. (Credit: Patti Perret/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./OWN)
  • Despite the lion’s share of OWN’s programming being promoted to a black audience, I never got the feeling that the network necessarily believes itself to be a black one,” Jason Parham wrote Tuesday for Wired. “Unlike, say, BET, blackness is simply the prism, and only occasionally the conversation starter for OWN. In a network promo recently released during Queen Sugar’s season three debut, various clips from its series flicker across the screen. Winfrey’s voice narrates the one-minute spot. ‘When I was growing up, there were no images that looked like me on TV,’ she says. ‘To have people that not just look like you, but whose stories are like your stories, it says you see me. It is validating, as well as it is fortifying.’ The message is inescapable: Black stories are human stories. . . .”
  • The Virgin Islands Daily News of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, won an award for small newsrooms of up to 25 people in the annual Associated Press Media Editors competition, whose winners were announced May 14. It will be honored for “amazing, brave journalism by a newsroom working through back-to-back Category 5 storms that literally destroyed the island. In the midst of it all, the Virgin Islands Daily News produced compelling stories, incredible photography and strongly designed work.” Hurricane coverage featured prominently among the winners.
  • In a portion of the APME contest for AP staff members, whose winners were announced Thursday, coverage of the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine won the 2018 Best Digital Storytelling award. Renata Brito and Silvia Izquierdo won for best use of video for “Killed in Crossfire: Rio de Janeiro’s Young Victims of Violence;” Bernat Armangue, Dar Yasin and A.M. Ahad won for news story photography for “Rohingya: A Crisis.”
  • During a Ted talk Tuesday in Portland Ore., former “Today” show co-host Ann Curry said her father could always spot when bias entered a TV news report, the subscription-only NewsBlues website reported Wednesday. “Stop telling me what to think. Just give me the facts,” Curry’s father shouted at the television. “Curry’s solution for the journalists of today: ‘Ruthlessly edit out any word or phrase or tone in your work that could get in the way of people making up their own minds.’ . . .”
  • “For World Refugee Day, exiled Ethiopian photojournalist Aziza Mohamed spoke with CPJ Journalist Assistance Program Coordinator Nicole Schilit about her experience of being a refugee and eventually being resettled in the U.S.,” Schilit wrote Wednesday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. Mohamed is living in Pittsburgh.
  • Colombian reporter Julieth Gonzalez Theran was standing in a city square in Saransk, Russia, late last week reporting on the World Cup for Deutsche Welle, a German news station,” Ryan Young reported Tuesday for Yahoo Sports. “However, right as she went live on television for her report, a man came running up into the shot. The man grabbed Gonzalez Theran and her breast, kissed her on the cheek, and quickly took off. Gonzalez Theran, though, didn’t let the attack faze her one bit. She impressively continued right on with her report as if nothing had happened — even while the man was groping her. . . .”
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists Thursday called for the release of journalist Jones Abiri, “who has been held by Nigeria’s Department of State Security (DSS) for nearly two years,” and “for DSS to be held accountable for its attacks against journalists in Nigeria. In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, press freedom advocates said, “We were disappointed that, after repeated requests during CPJ’s visit to Nigeria in April 2018, we were not permitted to visit Abiri in detention. In a meeting with CPJ on April 24, 2018, Garba Shehu, your presidential spokesperson, confirmed that Abiri remained in DSS custody and said he would be charged in court on allegations of being a militant. Yet after almost two years behind bars, Abiri has not seen a courtroom, nor has his family been given any information about his health and well-being. . . .”

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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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