A photo illustration shows a part of a TV screen with the TV network NBC News logo taken in Washington, D.C., on May 28, 2014.
Mladen Antonov/Getty Images
A photo illustration shows a part of a TV screen with the TV network NBC News logo taken in Washington, D.C., on May 28, 2014.
Mladen Antonov/Getty Images

Revamp to Feature Breaking News Video, Tie to Social Media

NBC is selling the Grio, its African American-oriented website, to its original owners and will create its own "vertical" on NBCNews.com targeting African Americans, according to David A. Wilson, the Grio's co-creator and founder, and MSNBC spokeswoman Diana Rocco.


Neither would disclose the purchase price. Wilson said by telephone that he would expand the Grio into a video-centric, social media-oriented site while maintaining its ties with NBC News. "I think this is something you're going to be impressed by," Wilson said.

Launched in 2009, the Grio was one of the first sites that targeted African Americans and was sponsored by a major media corporation. It followed The Root, which the Washington Post Co. debuted in January 2008. Huffington Post purchased Black Voices and other AOL properties in 2011.


The Grio recorded 18,494,000 U.S. unique visitors in 2013, according to the comScore, Inc., research company, placing it behind WorldStarHipHop.com, BET Networks, HuffPost BlackVoices, MediaTakeOut.com, Bossip.com, and Madamenoire.com among black-oriented websites but ahead of The Root, NewsOne.com and Essence.com.

scarrIt is distinguished by its ties to NBC. Joy-Ann Reid, now an MSNBC anchor, was Grio managing editor.


Video was always one of its features. The website says, "TheGrio.com is the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets. . . ."

Wilson told Journal-isms that he plans to take that further. His goal is to cover the news via video and distribute it through social media and Grio platforms. "The idea is to get video to the users first," he said. The videos can be embedded into social media. "It's the type of video we're going to create" that will distinguish it, Wilson said, emphasizing "type." Many news items on social media are not covered by the mainstream media, and the Grio plans to provide that video coverage, Wilson said. He said that he is still lining up investors and that the site will reflect the new vision next year.


A "significant portion" of the Grio's nine employees, who are not all full-time, will remain, he said. They will relocate from NBC offices but remain in Manhattan. There will "definitely" be job openings for journalists and producers, he said.

"David and Dan wanted to take the site in a broader direction to focus on entertainment and viral video," Rocco said by email, referring to Dan Woolsey, the Grio's co-founder and director of operations.


"MSNBC and The Grio will continue to have an editorial partnership centered on breaking news, politics, and business. Later this summer, NBCNews.com will introduce a new vertical with reporting and analysis relevant to the African American community (the site currently features successful verticals for the Latino and Asian Pacific American communities)."

She added, "There will be more to come on the new vertical closer to the launch so please stay tuned."


The sale is expected to take place next week, Wilson said. News of the impending sale was first reported Thursday by TVNewser.

Blacks, Whites Divided on Significance of Ferguson

Blacks and whites have sharply different reactions to the police shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Mo., as well as to the protests and violence that followed, according to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center, the center reported on Monday.


"Blacks are about twice as likely as whites to say that the shooting of Michael Brown 'raises important issues about race that need to be discussed.' Brown 'raises important issues about race that need to be discussed.' Wide racial differences also are evident in opinions about of whether local police went too far in the aftermath of Brown's death, and in confidence in the investigations into the shooting.

"The new national survey, conducted August 14-17 among 1,000 adults, finds that the public overall is divided over whether Brown's shooting raises important issues about race or whether the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves: 44% think the case does raise important issues about race that require discussion, while 40% say the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.


"By about four-to-one (80% to 18%), blacks say the shooting in Ferguson raises important issues about race that merit discussion. By contrast, whites, by 47% to 37%, say the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.

"Fully 65% of African Americans say the police have gone too far in responding to the shooting. Whites are divided: 33% say the police have gone too far, 32% say the police response has been about right, while 35% offer no response.


"Whites also are nearly three times as likely as blacks to express at least a fair amount of confidence in the investigations into the shooting. About half of whites (52%) say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the investigations, compared with just 18 percent of blacks. Roughly three-quarters (76%) of blacks have little or no confidence, with 45% saying they have no confidence at all. . . ."

. . . Police Continue to Threaten Journalists

"Police in Ferguson, Missouri have once again clashed with reporters covering the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting," Chris O'Shea reported Monday for TVNewser. "One cop, who was being filmed by local radio journalist Mustafa Hussein, threatened to shoot Hussein if he didn’t stop.


"The cop can be heard yelling 'Get the [f—k] out of here! You get that light off or you’re getting shot with this!'

"MSNBC’s Chris Hayes was also threatened by an officer who said 'Get back! Or next time you’re gonna be the one maced.'


"Three other journalists — Sports Illustrated's Robert Klemko, The Telegraph's Rob Crilly and The Financial Times' Neil Munshi — tweeted that they had been briefly arrested and then released. . . ."

Meanwhile, a St. Louis television station angered police Saturday by showing the home of Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown." KSDK immediately felt using that video was a mistake and pulled the video of the home from future newscasts and from our web site. We have not used the video since then and do not intend to do so. We apologize to our audience, to the surrounding neighborhoods, to the greater St. Louis community and to the officer for our mistake," the station said.


Nancy Cambria, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Journalist says he was attacked at Ferguson scene

Kristen Hare, Poynter Institute: More journalists arrested, released in Ferguson


. . . Author Rebuked as He Uses Ferguson to Plug Book

For Jason L. Riley, the African American member of the Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial page, the crisis created by the killing of a black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., presents an opportunity to plug his new book, "Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed."


But Riley is being called on making the connection.

Here's how the conversation went on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday:

"ANDREA MITCHELL: Before we go, I want to ask you about Ferguson, because you've written a whole book, 'Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.' What we're seeing in Ferguson certainly shows the disengagement between the local police force and the community.


"JASON RILEY: You could say that. I don't want to litigate this in the press. But the officer used excessive force. I think he should be prosecuted. But at the same time, let's not pretend that our morgues and cemeteries are full of young black men because cops are shooting them.

"The reality is that it's because other black people are shooting them. And we need to talk about black criminality. Blacks are only 13% of the population. But they're 50% of homicide victims in this country. And 90% of those victims are killed by other black people. We have to talk about that.


"ANDREA MITCHELL: We certainly saw that, the blacks were the victims of the looting as well.

"JASON RILEY: At the same time, the same weekend that this went down in Ferguson, we've had 26 shootings in Chicago. But Al Sharpton didn't head to Chicago. He headed to Saint Louis, because he has an entirely different agenda.


"JANE HARMAN: "Well, he has—


"JASON RILEY: — whites —

"JANE HARMAN: "But that is —


"JANE HARMAN: Obviously he's talking to everyone.

"ANDREA MITCHELL: "Because he's actually there on a peace mission today.

"But before I go, I just want to say a word about Mo'ne Davis, because she is showing that throwing like a girl is a great thing to do . . . "


Riley's name came up again last week when Michael Meyers, president and executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, wrote on Wednesday to the producer of "The Kelly File" on Fox News Channel to complain about its treatment of the "civil rights" aspects of the Justice Department investigation into Brown's killing.

" . . . the second interview with Jason Riley on the segment was, to say the least, beside the point and quite irrelevant to the subject at hand," wrote Meyers, who is black. "The interview with Jason turned into another plug for his book — Stop Helping Us — a book that I consider uninformed and misinforming as to 'black culture'. In the context of a sober discussion about the causes and incidents of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, it was off putting and a crass switching of the topic from that of a victim of police fire to the trite topic and stereotypical treatment of black youths as thugs and louts, they who wear their pants too low.


"Indeed — Jason made that very point on your show as to how these 'black teens' ought to dress and behave — as if whites, and Asians and Hispanic youths do not also wear their pants in the same manner. It is a youth thing, not a 'black thing' — by the way, assuming that how some teens wear their pants is germane to a sober discussion of unrest over the killing of Michael Brown (by the still unnamed police officer of Ferguson, Missouri).

"It was not germane."

Meyers was not finished. "This is not the first time 'The Kelly File' and other shows on Fox News Channel — such as 'The O’Reilly Factor' — has explored and harped on supposed 'black-on-black' crime in a diversionary fashion. But, this was surely not the context for such a wild-eyed discussion of 'black crime.' Comparing a victim of a police shooting to garden-variety crimes in any community is just ignorant and illogical. I dare say that it is ludicrous."


At the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates responded Friday to a similar argument about crime advanced Thursday by Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post.

Joel Anderson, BuzzFeed: Is Race An Issue In Ferguson? Depends On Whom You Ask

Michael Bell, Politico: What I Did After Police Killed My Son

Thomas Bishop, Media Matters for America: Fox's Todd Starnes Accuses Obama Administration Of "Orchestrating The Michael Brown Tragedy"


Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Frustration in Ferguson

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Michael Brown and Black Men

Rembert Browne, Grantland: The Front Lines of Ferguson

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Stonewall Jackson blocks justice for Michael Brown


David Carr, New York Times: View of #Ferguson Thrust Michael Brown Shooting to National Attention

James Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Why people are angry over Ferguson police shooting


James Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Tape still does not justify the killing of Michael Brown

Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Reparations for Ferguson

Merlene Davis, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: Weapons aimed at Ferguson Mo., protesters reminded me of the 1960s


Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: MLK and LBJ discuss the 1965 Watts riots and the president's understanding of its causes

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Ferguson unrest prompts Lt. Gen. Russel Honore to repeat 'weapons down!'


Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Ferguson police response made possible by drug war

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Black people in Ferguson are fighting for their freedom:


Deutsche Welle: Ethnic minorities marginalized in German media

Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon right to appoint African-American to oversee security in Ferguson


Editorial, Kansas City Star: Lessons of Ferguson: Why a week of rage didn't have to happen

Editorial, Los Angeles Times: Ferguson's police force can learn from LAPD

Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: A 'generational event' demands a generational change from complacency


Juan Gonzalez, Daily News, New York: Rev. Al Sharpton on trail of justice in Missouri shooting

Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: USA Today Changes Its Mind About Ferguson Police


Ricardo A. Hazell, the Shadow League: Obama Speech on Ferguson Leaves Much to the Imagination:

Peniel E. Joseph, The Root: How Ferguson Has Exposed a Civil Rights Generational Divide


Jerry Large, Seattle Times: Shooting in Missouri shows the need for change

Trymaine Lee with Brooke Gladstone, "On the Media," WNYC-FM, New York: The View from "Fergustan"


Courtland Milloy, Washington Post: Sign of surrender won't deliver justice or change system

Amna Nawaz, NBC Asian America: Asian American Leaders Stand in Solidarity with Ferguson


Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Police stonewalling is another form of abuse

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Police misconduct becomes evident, even with the whole world watching


Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: This is not just about Michael Brown

James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: Fallout from fatal police shooting in Ferguson is far from over


Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Missouri police shooting shows how to respond wrong

Geraldo Rivera, Fox News Latino: Michael Brown And Trayvon Martin, Spinning Tragedy


Eddie Scarry, Mediaite: CNN’s Marc Lamont Hill: Obama's Ferguson Statement 'Ultimately Dangerous'

Ishmael Sistrunk, St. Louis American: Walking while black: Michael Brown, black men and white police officers 


Jeff Smith, New York Times: In Ferguson, Black Town, White Power

Daniel Strauss, Talking Points Memo: Ferguson Hires PR Firm That Appears To Be Staffed Only By White People


Lindsay Toler, Riverfront Times, St. Louis: The Ferguson Effect: Wehrenberg Theaters Pulls Documentary About Race in St. Louis County

Randall Yip, AsAmNews.com: Asian Americans Respond to Ferguson Controversy

"Black People Don't Work for Politico"

"Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery said 'black people don’t work for Politico,'" Tracie Powell wrote Monday for alldigitocracy.org. "He wasn't wrong.


"Between dodging rubber bullets, tear gas and arrests in Ferguson, Missouri, Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery also made time to take MSNBC's Joe Scarborough to task and later called out Politico for its lack of diversity.

"Politico's Dylan Byers — a media reporter who has spoken inarticulately about racial and ethnic newsroom diversity — and Kenneth P. Vogel — who covers the confluence of money, politics and influence – were quick to condemn the tweet . . .


"Rather than engage in a Twitter fight, Vogel and Byers should stop acting like there isn't a diversity problem inside their newsroom. In fact, it's worse than it was two years ago in that the number of black journalists working at Politico has dropped by half. . . ."

Powell also wrote that when she and Editor-in-Chief John Harris talked in 2012, "six black journalists worked in his newsroom. Now, that number is down to three in a staff of nearly 200. They include: copy editor Robin Turner as well as Darius Dixon and LaRonda Peterson, who both work for Politico Pro, the organization's premium policy news service. This means there are no black reporters working for the country's paywall-free premier news service covering Beltway policy and politics. . . ."


Harris did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, but later promised a response. Beth Frerking, an assistant managing editor who handled recruiting and was a liaison to journalist of color groups, left last year to become editor in chief of the National Law Journal and Legal Times.

When Journal-isms asked Harris in November who would assume Frerking's role, he replied by email, "We have not yet figured out how we are going to divvy up Beth's responsibilities, including her role in recruiting generally and diversity recruiting specifically, other than that we will have someone owning this important responsibility."


The National Association of Hispanic Journalists also expressed concern about Politico's lack of diversity, according to Julio Ricardo Varela, writing Monday for his Latino Rebels site.

New NAHJ President Mekahlo Medina told Latino Rebels by email that "NAHJ is launching a 'leadership council' initiative that aims to connect news operation leaders with Latino journalists to fill management roles. It's those roles that are pivotal in diversifying a newsroom."


Medina invited Politico to join the initiative and cited a Harris statement that "There's a particular type of journalist who seems to thrive at our publication…."

"Journalists of color knows that is code for 'you are not one of us,' " Medina said.


Asian American Journalists Form Sports Task Force

About 25 members of the Asian American Journalists Association formed a Sports Task Force at last week's AAJA convention in Washington. The group also has a Facebook page and Twitter feed.


Carolyn Hong, coordinating producer of ESPN's Enterprise Unit explained by email:

"At the past few conventions, there has been no sports programming — no panels that addressed topics that would interest sports journalists. A group of us started discussing how we could change this. Last year, ESPN's Director of Diversity and Inclusion (Jackson Davis) — along with some AAJA members (Carolyn Hong, Victoria Lim and Howard Chen) — met with AAJA president Paul Cheung and executive director Kathy Chow to discuss how we could meet the growing interest in sports journalism within our organization.


"After a few discussions, a group of AAJA sports journalists decided to launch the sports task force." Referring to the National Association of Black Journalists, Hong continued, "I was fortunate enough to connect with members of NABJ's sports task force, which is a well-established group, and gain their support for our efforts.

"Our mission statement:

"Our mission is to provide a network/forum/voice for Asian-American sports journalists, to develop future sports journalists across multiple platforms through mentorship and scholarship opportunities and to support AAJA by sharing our extensive sports and journalism expertise.


"The task force meeting was held on Friday morning, and the keynote speaker was SportsCenter host Kevin Negandhi. It was a well-attended session, with veteran and up-and-coming sports journalists from across the country and across platforms (TV, print, digital) expressing happiness that there was finally an outlet for them . . ."

In Saturday developments at the AAJA convention:

Jose Antonio Vargas, journalist and immigration rights advocate, and actor Maulik Pancholy, who played Jonathan on NBC-TV’s "30 Rock," talked about "revealing the very personal secrets in their lives" at the association's Gala Scholarship and Awards Banquet, Randall Yip reported for his AsAmNews.com site. Each discussed coming out as gay and linked his Asian American identity to his work.


Paul Cheung, reelected as AAJA president, told the group in his acceptance speech, "Asians have been living in America, working in America, building America for more than 150 years. And yet, we are still treated like foreigners. Too often, our stories are reduced to stereotypes." Cheung continued, "We have the power to change these inequities. You change it by bearing witness as journalists. Report the story of Asian America. You can change it by rising in your newsroom. . . ."

Short Takes

Journalist Ed Gordon is joining radio's syndicated "Steve Harvey Morning Show" starting Tuesday, appearing for six to eight minutes every Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 a.m. Eastern. "From interviews with hot newsmakers to the headlines of the day, Gordon will bring it all to millions of Steve Harvey Morning Show listeners," an announcement says. "He will also focus on important stories that aren't always getting attention elsewhere, bringing listeners what they need to know."


Maria Carrillo, managing editor of the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., is becoming senior editor for Sunday and enterprise at the Houston Chronicle, Virginian-Pilot editor Denis Finley told staff members on Monday. "During her tenure, we have twice been named a Pulitzer finalist, most recently in 2012," Finley wrote. "But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The list of Maria's accomplishments is long and varied. Everything from the [Virginia Press Association] sweepstakes awards to the Ernie Pyle Award to the National Headliner Award to the summer series that started with Yellow Fever in 2005 has Maria's fingerprints on it. . . ."

"The Indianapolis Star will reduce newsroom staff and management by 15 percent over the next few weeks, according to the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild," newsandtech.com reported on Friday. "The cuts include five photographers and the entire copydesk." Bobby King, president of the guild, told Journal-isms by telephone that no journalists of color work on the copy desk but that the photo department included African American photographers Danese Kenon and Bob Scheer.


"The day after intense social media reaction to a headline touting the following, 'Latinos Move Up, From Picking Crops to Running the Farm,' the digital editors at The New York Times revised the headline" to "More Latinos on Farms Move From Fields to Office," the Latino Rebels site reported.

Ebony Reed, interim director, business development for local markets and assistant bureau chief for New England at the Associated Press, has been promoted to director, business development, local markets. "In the new role, I will work across various sales groups — chiefs of bureau, broadcast division — to lead sales strategy and foster relationships that build AP's brand, market and revenue. I'll lead a culture of identifying opportunities as well." Asked whether the new job is a departure from journalism, Reed said by email, "I'm proud and excited to use my journalism and business skills at AP. This is a direction I pursued and is in line with my career goals."


"ABC News reporter Elizabeth Vargas has returned to a recovery center to be treated for alcohol dependency, she and the network said Sunday," Lynn Elber reported for the Associated Press. "The '20/20' co-anchor said in an emailed statement that she checked into a treatment facility this weekend while on vacation. " 'As so many other recovering alcoholics know, overcoming the disease can be a long and incredibly difficult process,' Vargas said. 'I feel I have let myself, my co-workers and most importantly my family down and for that I am ashamed and sorry.' . . . "

Univision Communications' "new head of local media says the firing of two TV station GMs is 'about transition, how we do our business and how to serve our audience, not people,' " Diana Marszalek reported Monday for TVNewsCheck. " 'We had to ask some people to go home that have been great employees and done tremendous work for us,' says President of Local Media Kevin Cuddihy. 'I think our leaders understand the changing landscape out there.' The layoffs, which cost WGBO Chicago’s Larry Sands and WLTV Miami's Mike Rodriguez their jobs, are part of a larger corporate restructuring that positions Univision's local media properties as one multi-platform entity, Cuddihy says. . . . "


"One of the first African-American reporters at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News in the 1960s, W. Leon Pope was an early organizer of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and mentored many young minority reporters," Michelle Brunetti Post reported Saturday for the Press of Atlantic City, N.J. "Pope, of Williamstown in Monroe Township, Gloucester County, was also a Press of Atlantic City reporter for 26 years, retiring in 2000. He died Aug. 9 at age 71. Known for an irrepressible sense of humor, Pope tended to laughter rather than anger, even when anger made sense. Former editor Eileen Bennett, of Maurice River Township, said Pope was walking by the copy desk one day in the late 1990s and picked up a ringing phone. His voice was friendly, and he ended the conversation saying, 'I’ll take care of that for you,' He'd been talking to a member of the Ku Klux Klan, he told her. . . ." Pope was a familiar figure at conventions of the National Association of Black Journalists.

"NBC-owned WMAQ Chicago (DMA 3) has named Stefan Holt and Marion Brooks anchors and Byron Miranda meteorologist of the new one-hour NBC 5 News at 11 a.m., beginning Monday, Sept. 8," TVNewsCheck reported on Friday. Holt is the son of NBC News anchor Lester Holt.


In Colombia, "Radio station director Luis Carlos Cervantes was gunned down yesterday in Tarazá, a town in the northwestern department of Antioquia, two weeks after the authorities withdrew the police protection he had been getting since 2012," Reporters Without Borders reported Wednesday." In the United States, Mekahlo Medina, new president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalsts, wrote members early Tuesday that "NAHJ stands with Reporters Without Borders in calling for the Colombian authorities to conduct an investigation into Cervantes' murder so that it does not join the list of unresolved crimes against journalists" and that "The dangers of reporting in Latin America will be front and center during our Regional conference in Mexico City set for October 18th. . . ." [Added Aug. 19]

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

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