• Loveis Wise Is in Rare Company
  • Seeing No Diversity, Philly Papers Drop Ad Agency
  • Harold Jackson Leaving Philadelphia for Houston
  • Report on Massive Puerto Rico Toll Overshadowed
  • Outrage Builds on Separation of Families
  • Spanish Again the Most Polarizing Language in U.S.
  • ‘We . . . Got the George Takei Assault Wrong’
  • ‘Asian American’ at 50: What Will Term Stand For?
  • Investigative Group Takes on West Africa
  • Short Takes
“This year’s Fiction Issue includes a theme: parenting, childhood, and the ties that bind both. The cover, ‘Nurture,’ builds upon that theme, and was drawn by the artist Loveis Wise, in her début for the magazine,” the New Yorker said.

New Grad Has Already Landed New Yorker Cover

Landing the cover illustration for the New Yorker magazine is a boon for any artist, at any age,” Peter Crimmins wrote Thursday for WHYY-FM in Philadelphia. “This week’s cover — the summer fiction double issue — is by a Philadelphia illustrator just three weeks after graduating from art school.

Lovies Wise
Photo: Emma Lee (WHYY-TV)

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Loveis Wise (pronounced Love Is Wise, her birth name after her great-grandmother) is so fresh a graduate of the University of the Arts that she can still use her student ID to get into the school’s buildings on Broad Street. She hasn’t yet gotten around to getting her UArts alumna card. She’s been busy. . . .”

“She’s indeed one of the very first black woman artists on the cover,” Françoise Mouly, art editor of the New Yorker, said of Wise by email. “Kara Walker was the first in 2007, for the anniversary of [Hurricane] Katrina.”

Staff image on the website of the 20nine agency. “20Nine has had an ethnically and racially diverse workforce since our inception 15 years ago, and we’ve been rewarded locally and nationally for our multicultural campaigns,” CEO Greg Ricciardi said.
Photo: Journal-isms

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Seeing No Diversity, Philly Papers Drop Ad Agency

The parent company of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and philly.com had pledged to seek more diversity, but those efforts appeared insincere when staffers looked at the web page of the agency the company hired to help it rebrand.

It showed what looked like a festival of white faces.

On Wednesday, the company dropped the agency.

“I have heard the concerns of the Diversity Committee and other employees about 20nine, the agency selected for our rebranding project,” Michael Zimbalist, chief strategy & innovation officer of the Philadelphia Media Network, wrote PMN employees.

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“I take these concerns very seriously. Successful execution of a rebranding project requires support and buy-in from the entire Company. I have advised 20nine of the concerns that have been raised, and we have agreed it is best to end their involvement with the project. We intend to complete the project using our internal team.

“We will continue to work diligently and sincerely to build a diverse, inclusive and respectful culture here at PMN. We have made some progress on diversity to date, but there is more work to be done. I’d like to thank the PMN employees who shared their thoughts and concerns with us. . . .”

In a conversation with Journal-isms, the 20nine company took offense at the way it had been portrayed. “There was an African American on our staff up to 3 weeks ago,” its president and CEO, Greg Ricciardi, said as part of an emailed response. Mark Naples, its point person in the PMN project, did public affairs work with the U.S. Citizens Commission on Civil Rights [PDF] in the 1990s.

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The Philadelphia Media Network has been consolidating the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com news operations and plans to emphasize the Inquirer in its marketing, Stan Wischnowski, senior vice president and executive editor, told Journal-isms by telephone last week.

The three newsrooms became one at the start of 2016, he said. Both managers and the rank-and-file had to reapply for their jobs. About 50 staffers left the newsroom in 2017, including about 35 through buyouts.

“We’re in the process of hiring about a dozen journalists on top of the 30-plus we’ve already hired since December,” Wischnowski said in a follow-up email Thursday.

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“A primary focus of hiring has been in the areas of investigations, audience and visuals. We’ve hired a more diverse pool of journalists with digital skills that are elevating our journalism.”

Wischnowski said the vacancies have given the network a chance to “reshape the newsroom” and that “we want to diversify the audience we serve” as well as “the news report that we provide that audience.”

Stan Wischnowski
Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer

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The Inquirer announced on Sunday that it had selected “six emerging journalists for its inaugural class of Lenfest Journalism Fellowships. The two-year fellowship program is funded by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and is aimed at diversifying both the newsroom and coverage provided to PMN readers.”

In addition, the Human Resources Department said it had openings for editor of the News Lab, “a small, multi-disciplinary team of journalists dedicated to experimentation in digital storytelling”; features service editor; mobile editor and ; and expects to post openings soon for deputy managing editor/visuals, director of visuals, video editor/producer and digital storytelling/news developer.

The 20nine company, based in the Philadelphia suburb of Conshohocken, Pa., began working with PMN about two months ago. The news company announced it would introduce 20nine at staff meetings on May 24.

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A look at the 20nine website caused alarm, however. Everyone seemed to be white.

“We are very concerned, and have expressed our concern to PMN Management,” Bill Ross, executive director of the News Guild of Greater Philadelphia, told Journal-isms Tuesday by email. “Just as ABC has no tolerance with Roseanne, PMN should do the same.” He was messaging the same day that ABC dropped the “Roseanne” show after a racist tweet by star Roseanne Barr.

“Staff had questions as to how this company could possibly succeed in helping us attract a more diverse audience,” one staff member said privately.

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The 20nine issue dominated a packed, already scheduled Guild membership meeting on Thursday.

Separately, CEO Ricciardi defended his company.

“20Nine has had an ethnically and racially diverse workforce since our inception 15 years ago, and we’ve been rewarded locally and nationally for our multicultural campaigns,” Ricciardi told Journal-isms in an email Thursday.

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“We were thrilled at the opportunity to rebrand our local newspaper, and we won their business.

“Individuals within the Inquirer have since misinterpreted images on our site that have been there for nearly five years and had not offended any of the hundreds of thousands of previous visitors to our site nor have they offended anyone of our racially diverse staff.

“Nobody at the Inquirer has told us who is offended, or why they are offended. But, they have defined us a racist organization, which we find offensive.”

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Asked the racial breakdown of his staff, Ricciardi messaged, “We are [a] small company, currently 18 employees with a gender ratio split down the middle with current advisors that all together comprise, LBGT, Hispanic & Caucasian. There was an African American on our staff up to 3 weeks ago.”

“20nine was nominated for iMedia’s 2014 Best Agency for Multicultural Marketing.”

Ricciardi provided a copy of the “team” page presented to PMN when the agency was hired. It showed an African American woman among 18 staffers.

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[Update: The Guild responded to this statement Friday in a series of tweets showing offensive images from the 20nine website.]

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson and COO Rosalind Brewer visited the Philadelphia newsroom Tuesday as the chain closed its stores for unconscious bias training.
Photo: David Swanson (Philadelphia Inquirer)

In its region, the Philadelphia Metropolitan Statistical Area “has a greater black population (22.0 percent) than the nation (13.2 percent) and a smaller white population (69.5 percent) than the nation (77.4 percent),” the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported to Congress in 2016.

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In its annual report for the American Society of News Editors diversity survey, the Inquirer last year listed its newsroom as 82.1 percent white, 11.2 percent black, 2.8 percent Hispanic and 4 percent Asian [PDF].

Gabriel Escobar, born in Colombia, last year was named editor and vice president of Philadelphia Media Network. Michael Days, a black journalist, was formerly editor of the Philadelphia Daily News but became editor for reader engagement for the combined newsrooms in the same reorganization.

Harold Jackson, another black journalist, is editor of the Inquirer editorial pages, but is leaving for the Houston Chronicle (see next item).

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Outside of the Philadelphia Media Network and the agency it chose to help it rebrand, race relations have again been front and center in the city. It was in downtown Philadelphia where two black men were arrested April 15 after an employee called police to say the men were trespassing.

As Starbucks closed all 8,000 of its company-owned U.S. stores Tuesday to train employees to combat unconscious bias, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, with COO Rosalind Brewer, stopped by the PMN newsroom, as columnist Jenice Armstrong reported.

The advertising industry, like the news industry, has declared a commitment to diversity. The American Association of Advertising Agencies, known as the 4As, asserts as part of its mission, “With its best-in-class learning and career development programs, the 4A’s and its foundation fuel a robust diversity pipeline of talent for its members and the marketing and media industry, fostering the next generation of leaders.”

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Harold Jackson Leaving Philadelphia for Houston

Harold Jackson

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Harold Jackson, editorial page editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer since 2007 and one of the few African Americans in that role at a daily newspaper, is leaving to become an editorial writer at the Houston Chronicle, the Texas newspaper told readers on May 26.

“Including a brief stint in the mid-80s, I have worked for the Inquirer more than 21 years,” Jackson said by email. “So, I will miss the Inky, Philly, and South Jersey. But I believe I can make a more significant contribution to journalism in the digital era at the Houston Chronicle, and I want to thank my new editor, Nancy Barnes, and publisher, John McKeon, for the opportunity. God has opened a new door for me.”

Jackson said he will be near family in Houston. In a reorganization at the Philadelphia newspapers last year, Jackson and Sandra Shea, editorial page editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, both applied for the new position of managing editor, opinion, supervising both papers. The job went to Shea.

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Stan Wischnowski, senior vice president and executive editor, told Journal-isms that he is accepting applications to succeed Jackson.

In Houston, Jackson “will be joining our board in the next month in a role still to be determined,” the Chronicle said in its story, which also announced that columnist Lisa Falkenberg would lead its editorial page.

“Harold won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 1991 and was a finalist again in 1994. He has held just about every job in American newsrooms, starting as a reporter for the Birmingham Post-Herald in 1975. Jackson has also received the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists Trailblazer Award, the Journalist of the Year award from the National Association of Black Journalists, and other journalism awards from the Associated Press, UPI, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, and the Alabama Press Association.”

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Jackson has also worked for United Press International, the Birmingham (Ala.) News and Baltimore Sun. The 1991 Pulitzer was awarded to Jackson, Ron Casey and Joey Kennedy of the News “For their editorial campaign analyzing inequities in Alabama’s tax system and proposing needed reforms.”

At the Inquirer last year, Jackson helped revive the Acel Moore High School Journalism Workshop, a community outreach program.

He survived changes of ownership and multiple staff contractions. Jackson remarked in 2014 that he had a staff of 12 when he became editorial page editor in 2007, and it had been cut to five.

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As editorial page editor and occasional columnist, Jackson drew on his life experience. Then-publisher Brian Tierney said at Jackson’s 2007 appointment, “He also brings a wider point of view growing up in Alabama during the height of the civil rights movement and remembering vividly how his family reacted to the bombing of the Sixteenth [Street] Baptist Church in Birmingham.”

Harold Jackson, Philadelphia Inquirer: The memories of a black child in Birmingham (2013)

Report on Massive Puerto Rico Toll Overshadowed

Screenshot: ABC News

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For those who argue that the media has misplaced priorities when it comes to coverage choices, this week has provided a case study to support their position,” Pete Vernon wrote Thursday for Columbia Journalism Review.

“While media outlets from cable news to digital publishers obsessed over the cancellation of ABC’s Roseanne, a report on the staggering death toll in Puerto Rico has, in comparison, been met with relative silence.

“Researchers from Harvard University estimate that at least 4,645 deaths can be linked to Hurricane Maria and its immediate aftermath, more than 70 times the official count of 64. The Washington Post’s Arelis R. Hernández and Laurie McGinley write that ‘the island’s slow recovery has been marked by a persistent lack of water, a faltering power grid and a lack of essential services — all imperiling the lives of many residents, especially the infirm and those in remote areas hardest hit in September.

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“The Harvard study has a wide margin of error, but even at the low end of its range, the death count from Maria would place the disaster on par with the devastation wrought by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. The news received coverage from numerous outlets, but it was swamped by the firestorm surrounding the cancellation of a sitcom.

“ ‘I’ve gotten three times as many breaking news emails today about ‘Roseanne’ getting cancelled than I have about the death toll in Puerto Rico being 70 times higher than we thought,’ Wisconsin Public Radio host Brady Carlson tweeted Tuesday. The watchdog group Media Matters for America calculated that cable news networks covered Roseanne Barr’s tweet and her show’s cancellation 16 times as much as the deaths of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico. . . .”

At the federal courthouse in Pecos, Texas. The government is breaking up families, often sending children hundreds of miles from their parents.
Photo: The Intercept

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Outrage Builds on Separation of Families

In late April, magistrates’ courts in Brownsville [Texas] suddenly turned into ‘zero tolerance’ factories for criminalizing migrants, many of whom have no prior criminal record,” Debbie Nathan reported Tuesday for the Intercept.

“Many are from murderously violent countries in Central America and have fled to the U.S. seeking asylum, and they often arrive with children in tow. It used to be rare to charge migrants seeking asylum with crimes. If they did so, they were put into detention with their children while they pursued their claims. Or they were released with supervision — along with their children. The best interests of the children were considered paramount, and those interests [included] keeping families together.

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“But now, in federal courts . . . not only are parents . . . finding themselves charged with the crime of ‘illegal entry,’ but the government is breaking up families, sending children to detention centers, often hundreds of miles from their mothers and fathers, or to distant foster homes. . . .”

Melissa del Bosque, Texas Observer: The Surge: How Texas’ decade-long border security operation has turned South Texas into one of the most heavily policed and surveilled places in the nation.

José Calderon, Daily News, New York: The terrible truth about Trump’s latest assault on immigrants

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Daniel Duane, California Sunday magazine: City of Exiles: Every month, thousands of deportees from the United States and hundreds of asylum-seekers from around the world arrive in Tijuana. Many never leave.

Amy Harmon, New York Times: Did the Trump Administration Separate Immigrant Children From Parents and Lose Them?

Chris Hayes, “All In,” MSNBC: Must watch: Chris Hayes on ‘despicable’ new Trump policy (video)

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Nicholas Kristof, New York Times: Trump Immigration Policy Veers From Abhorrent to Evil

Natalie Martinez, Media Matters for America: As Trump separates migrant families and 1,500 kids are missing, three Sunday shows ignored immigration entirely

Jay Michaelson, Daily Beast: Trump’s ‘Forced Separation’ of Migrant Families Is Both Illegal and Immoral

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Nick Miroff, Washington Post: Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ at the border is causing child shelters to fill up fast

Ali Noorani, Daily Beast: This Is Why Trump’s Forced Separation Policy Doesn’t Work

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Trump’s immigration policy: Up the cruelty, dodge the blame

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Albor Ruiz, Al Día, Philadelphia: In Trump’s world, the real ‘animals’ are not the immigrants

Amy Davidson Sorkin, New Yorker: The Case of the Missing Immigrant Children

Alice Speri, the Intercept: DETAINED, THEN VIOLATED 1,224 Complaints Reveal a Staggering Pattern of Sexual Abuse in Immigration Detention. Half of Those Accused Worked for ICE. (April 11)

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Spanish Again the Most Polarizing Language in U.S.

Natalia Meneses was shopping at a Walmart in Georgia this year when her 3-year-old daughter began a conversation that triggered an ugly experience,” Brittny Mejia reported Monday for the Los Angeles Times.

“The little girl did not blurt out a profanity or otherwise say anything inappropriate. She simply pointed out flower hair clips to her mother: ‘Mira, Mami!’

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“Overhearing the conversation that ensued in Spanish between mother and child, a woman snapped at Meneses, an American citizen who was born in Colombia.

“ ‘You need to teach this kid to speak English, because this is America and kids need to learn English,’ she said. ‘If not, you need to get out of this country.’

“An angry Meneses responded that both she and her daughter were American and spoke English.

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“Spanish, the first European tongue to take root in North America, has established itself as perhaps the most relentlessly polarizing language in the United States. Two decades ago it sparked an emotional debate in California about banning bilingual education, a topic that divided even Latino families. During heavy immigration into California and other border states, Spanish was the language of choice in whole [neighborhoods].

“Now, the presidency of Donald Trump has reignited the linguistic divide. Trump has railed against illegal immigration, attacked the character of those who cross the border and once said ‘this is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.’

“At the same time, Spanish is making inroads in American pop culture. . . .”

Mejia also wrote, “It’s hard to know whether there has been an uptick in confrontations over the speaking of Spanish. Such incidents have been reported for decades, and the share of Latinos who can speak Spanish has declined over the past decade, with 73% of Latinos speaking Spanish at home in 2015, down from 78% in 2006, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. Many Latinos grew up in households where only English is spoken.

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“Since the presidential election, dozens of Latinos have reported verbal assaults for speaking Spanish through Documenting Hate, a project that tracks bias incidents and hate crimes around he country. . . .”

‘We . . . Got the George Takei Assault Wrong’

George Takei
Photo: CNN

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Last November in the Hollywood Reporter, Ryan Parker reported, “A former model and actor is accusing Star Trek icon George Takei of sexual assault in 1981. The accuser, Scott R. Brunton, who was 23 at the time of the alleged incident, claims that Takei took advantage of him when he was most vulnerable. . . .”

But last week, on May 24, Shane Snow was reporting a different story in the New York Observer.

Social media and press had convicted Takei, but in the absence of more accusers, questions hung in the air: What exactly happened that night? And who was Takei, really?

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“So I resolved to find out more about what happened 36 years ago between two men late at night in an apartment, when no one else was around.

“What I discovered after months of investigation — and after speaking at length with Brunton, people close to Takei, medical toxicologists and legal experts in sex offenses — suggests that this story needs to be recast significantly.

“Brunton, a sympathetic and well-intentioned man, would go on to walk back key details and let slip that, in his effort to be listened to, he’d fabricated some things. This and other evidence would indicate a hard-to-swallow conclusion: We — both public and press — got the George Takei assault story wrong. . . .”

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Tony Maglio, the Wrap: CNN Blasts Back at Morgan Freeman’s ‘Disappointing’ Demand for Story Retraction

Paula Rogo, Essence: An Alleged Victim of Morgan Freeman Says CNN Misrepresented Her Comments

Barry Saunders, the Saunders Report: “Oh God. You too, God?”

Jackie Strause, Hollywood Reporter: Morgan Freeman’s Lawyer Demands CNN Retract Sexual Harassment Story

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‘Asian American’ at 50: What Will Term Stand For?

Every year since 1978, May has been commemorated as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month — the official, federally designated period for the nation’s 20 million residents of Asian descent,” Jeff Yang wrote May 26 for CNN. President Jimmy Carter first proclaimed it as such.

“However, this year’s celebration is unique. That’s because May 2018 quietly marks our golden anniversary: the 50th birthday of ‘Asian-American.’

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“And as far as we Asian-Americans have come over this past half-century, it’s time to figure out who we are.

“Of course, the history of Asians in America goes back further than 50 years — hundreds of years in fact. The arrival of Asian immigrants to what would eventually be called America can be traced back to 1587. That’s when a group of ‘Luzon Indians’ from the Philippines, sailing on a Spanish galleon, disembarked in Morro Bay, California. . . .”

Formed in 1968

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Yang also wrote, “Early immigrant Asian groups considered themselves as different from one another as they were from the white majority around them, with discrete languages, customs and cultural traditions, and in some cases, histories of prejudice or mutual hostility.

“During World War II, when Japanese-Americans were showered with hostility and eventually, unconstitutionally incarcerated by the US government, some Chinese even wore buttons stating, ‘I am Chinese,’ to avoid being accidentally targeted by the hysteria.

“That sense of separateness was defiantly challenged 50 years ago this month, by a group of young activists whose gathering in a cramped Bay Area apartment ended up transforming the course of a community.

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“Back then Yuji Ichioka, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and Emma Gee scoured a published roster of fellow students who had protested against the conflict in Vietnam and contacted every individual with an Asian-sounding last name, inviting them to become charter members of a new organization: the Asian American Political Alliance.

“It would be the first public use of the coinage ‘Asian American’ — inspired by the term ‘Afro-American’ adopted by black activists of the era — as an umbrella term for Americans with roots or origins in the continent of Asia. As the name of the group implied, it was an explicitly political statement, stating in essence: We are united by our status as Americans, yes, but we are also claiming a new identity, nominally rooted in geographic origins, but more accurately anchored in our common desire for empowerment, for a united voice of protest, for social change. . . .”

Yang concluded, “Age 50 is when one must truly put away the idle excuses of youth, and stare the reality of one’s past achievements, present resources and future responsibilities in the face.

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“It’s time for Asian-Americans to come out of beta, and define who we are and where we stand. Will it be with those who are building a better world, or those who are focused on personal enrichment? With those who fight for the needs of the underrepresented, or those who indulge the whims of the entitled? With those who speak truth to power, or those who excuse the lies of the powerful? . . .”

“African American” Plus 20 (June 25, 2004)

Investigative Group Takes on West Africa

I’m Will Fitzgibbon, ICIJ’s Africa partnership coordinator, and I’m excited to tell you that we are publishing West Africa Leaks today,” Fitzgibbon wrote May 22 for International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

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“West Africa Leaks explores the impact of offshore secrecy in the 15 countries that make up Africa’s westernmost region, where reporters work in English, French and Portuguese and dozens of local languages.

“Why focus on this collection of nations? For one, its 367 million people are some of the most disadvantaged in the world, and its position as the tax-avoidance center of Africa means those people are being hit harder still. Experts tell me Africa loses more money to offshore secrecy than it receives in development aid.

“The ICIJ team and I . . . have spent the past six months working in secret with journalists from 11 West African countries, several of which we’ve never worked in before. . . .

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“To give you an idea of the conditions some of these journalists work in, one reporter who asked not to be named for his safety is in exile, another doesn’t get paid for his investigative journalism and several get by with broken computer screens. (Can you imagine trying to decipher . . . Swiss banking records with only half a laptop screen to use?) Some have received threatening phone calls during their reporting or come under pressure from corporate executives who appear in the Panama Papers to stop digging — or else have their newspapers’ advertising contracts cancelled. . . .”

allAfrica.com: What Being African Means to allAfrica (May 25)

Will Fitzgibbon, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists: ‘We Are the Enemies of Our Leaders’: Meet the Journalists Behind West Africa Leaks

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Will Fitzgibbon, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists: How Officials, Businesses and Traffickers Hide Billions from Cash-Starved Governments Offshore

Short Takes

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Olivia Hooker at 103

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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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Journal-isms is originally published on journal-isms.com. Reprinted on The Root by permission.