Shonda Rhimes
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Racial "Blind Spots" Acknowledged at N.Y. Times

The culture editor of the New York Times said Monday of the criticism over the Times story that called television series creator Shonda Rhimes an "angry black woman": Public Editor Responds on "Angry Black Woman" Story


"This is a signal to me that we have to constantly remind ourselves as editors of our blind spots, what we don't know, and of how readers may react."

Danielle Mattoon's comment came in a blog posting by Margaret Sullivan, the Times' public editor, who wrote that "The readers and commentators are correct to protest this story. Intended to be in praise of Ms. Rhimes, it delivered that message in a condescending way that was – at best – astonishingly tone-deaf and out of touch."

Sullivan also wrote, "The Times has significant diversity among its high-ranking editors and prominent writers, but it’s troubling that with 20 critics, not one is black and only two are persons of color." Her blog carried comments from Mattoon and the author of the piece, television critic Alessandra Stanley, but none from Dean Baquet, the Times' first African American executive editor. Sullivan began the day by saying she intended to talk with Baquet, but concluded at day's end, " I still plan to talk to Mr. Baquet about the article, its editing, and about diversity in the newsroom, particularly among culture critics. . . . "


Baquet has been publicly silent since the controversy broke on Friday after Stanley's story, which appeared in the Sunday print edition, went online Thursday. In the absence of comments from Baquet, USA Today took Mattoon's comments as the organization's official response, declaring in its headline, "'New York Times' apologizes for 'tone-deaf' Shonda Rhimes article."

Sullivan wrote of the story, "Written by the longtime TV critic Alessandra Stanley, its first paragraph – with a reference to Ms. Rhimes as an 'Angry Black Woman' – struck many readers as completely off-base. Many called it offensive. Some went further, saying it was racist.

"Another reference to the actress Viola Davis as 'less classically beautiful' than lighter-skinned African American actresses immediately inspired a mocking hashtag. (Ms. Stanley’s article was pegged to a show, starring Ms. Davis, that will debut this week on ABC, 'How to Get Away with Murder.')


On, Shamika Sanders wrote, "Viola seemingly replied to the controversial article via Twitter, writing, 'You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise!!!' . . ."

Stanley replied to Sullivan, "Viola Davis said it about herself in the NYT magazine, more bluntly. I commended Ms. Rhimes for casting an actress who doesn't conform to television's narrow standards of beauty; I have said the same thing about Helen Mirren in 'Prime Suspect.'

"I didn't think Times readers would take the opening sentence literally because I so often write arch, provocative ledes that are then undercut or mitigated by the paragraphs that follow. . . ."


Meanwhile, the Times debuted First Draft, a new site and newsletter dedicated to analyzing politics, elections and policies. None of the participants listed by Chris O'Shea of FishbowlNY appeared to be of color.

Hannah Giorgis, the Guardian, Britain: The myth of the Angry Black Woman is a scandal of white supremacy

Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC: What if white men, not black women, were caricatured as 'angry'?


Linda Holmes, NPR: The Only One: A Talk With Shonda Rhimes 

Sridhar Pappu, Women's Wear Daily: M: Editor in Charge — Dean Baquet Takes Charge of The New York Times Newsroom

Desiree Rogers with Gayle King and Charlie Rose, "CBS This Morning," New York Times review of Shonda Rhimes prompts outrage over racial stereotypes (video) [Sept. 23]


Michael E. Ross, Short Sharp Shock blog: Alessandra Stanley and how to get away with stereotyping

E. Alex Jung, New York magazine: Many Famous People Were Unhappy With That New York Times Piece on Shonda Rhimes

Erik Wemple, Washington Post: Alessandra Stanley’s contempt for New York Times readers


Reporter Drops F-Word on Air, Quits to Push Pot Business

"A television reporter quit her job on live TV with a big four-letter flourish after revealing she owns a medical marijuana business and intends to press for legalization of recreational pot in Alaska," Mark Thiessen reported Monday for the Associated Press.

"After reporting on the Alaska Cannabis Club on Sunday night's broadcast, KTVA's Charlo Greene identified herself as the business's owner.


" 'Everything you've heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all my energy toward fighting for freedom and for fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska,' she said during the late Sunday evening newscast. 'And as for this job, well not that I have a choice, but f—- it, I quit.'

"She then walked off camera. . . ."

Greene, meanwhile, chalked up more than 24,000 "likes" on her Facebook page as Monday ended, and she has started a crowdfunding campaign. "The video of her quitting has gone viral, amassing nearly 2.5 million views in less than a day of being on YouTube," Mona Zhang reported for Social Times.


"Her Indiegogo campaign has reached 66 percent ($3,292) of its total goal ($5,000) in less than a day of being launched, despite the cheap look of the video. In the campaign description, Greene says the money will be used for 'travel costs and informational materials.' . . ."

Some journalists applauded Greene's boldness. But others said she had disgraced the profession.

Salt Lake Tribune sports writer Tony Jones, son of veteran journalist Jackie Jones, wrote on Facebook, "Growing up as the son of an african-american female journalist, I quietly saw the struggles my mother had to go through in the industry. To make a long story short, my mom made her way up the ladder through talent, grace, professionalism and strength that has made me proud to say that I'm her son.


"All of which is to say, while funny on the face of it, I feel like this woman just figuratively spit in my mom's face with her shenanigans in this video. There are some awfully good people who paved the road before you came along, ms. lady. I sincerely hope you haven't in turn made the road that much more difficult for those who come after you."

Lynne Adrine, a veteran broadcast journalist, said by email, "Ms. Greene appears to be ethically-challenged. She should have disclosed her involvement — and financial interest — in her Cannabis Club before she did any reporting. I'm not sure whether cannabis possession is illegal under all circumstances in Alaska. If medical marijuana is legal, she could have recused herself from any reporting on the ballot initiative due to the clear conflict of interest. Instead, she's trying to make this about liberty, as opposed to her own lack of ethics." Adrine is director of the D.C. Program for Broadcast and Digital Journalism for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Adrine added, "Finally — if she wanted to use the platform she chose to exit in support of her advocacy of changed marijuana laws, she didn't have to do the whole series of reports before revealing her bias. It's not about whether her position has merit — it's about her complete rejection of journalistic ethics. Her parents must be so proud."


Laurel Andrews, Alaska Dispatch News: KTVA reporter quits on-air, reveals herself as owner of Alaska Cannabis Club

Charlo Greene website

Charlo Greene: Why I quit (video)

Jeff Winbush blog: Charlo Greene's Stunt: This Is Why They Call It "Dope"

Overlooked: TMZ's Elevator Video Was "Smoothed Out"

TMZ's graphic video of Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino is not what it seems, J.K. Trotter reported Wednesday for


"The raw video of Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée unconscious is almost unwatchably glitchy," Trotter wrote. "The site decided to delete and interpolate hundreds of individual frames to make Rice and Palmer's actions more coherent — to make the punch appear as it actually happened.

" 'This video is a cleaned up version of the raw surveillance elevator video — the raw is jerky … so we smoothed it out,' TMZ explained in their original post of the video. This is far from 'vérité video.' It’s also the version that aired 37 times on television.

"The contrast between the two versions is striking. . . ."

Trotter also wrote, "It's not as if TMZ was attempting, via strategic editing, to exaggerate or fabricate Rice's violence. Even in the glitched-out footage, you can still gather that he knocks out his fiancée. But the original footage requires repeated viewings, and much closer scrutiny, to make sense of what's going on. It's far less jarring, and more open to interpretation, than its smoothed-out variation.


"This might seem pedantic. After all, the edited footage is almost certainly closer to what the human eye would have perceived. But it's difficult to envision a mainstream outlet 'cleaning up' the original material to amplify its visual impact. Instances of photographic manipulation, ranging from subtle to extreme, have ignited dozens of high-profile media controversies. . . ."

Barry Blitt, the New Yorker: Cover Story: Barry Blitt's "Illegal Procedure" 

Chad Finn, Boston Globe: Ray Lewis is not a good TV analyst

Jonathan Mahler, New York Times: In Coverage of N.F.L. Scandals, Female Voices Puncture the Din


Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Alabama judge accused of abusing wife should get same attention as NFL players

Monica Moorehead, The media has made Ray Rice the poster person for domestic violence

Marissa Payne, Washington Post: Ravens refute ESPN report that alleges team officials knew more about Ray Rice situation than they let on


William Drummond Wins Diversity Award for J-Educators

"William J. Drummond, a journalism professor at the University of California at Berkeley, is the recipient of the 2014 Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship," the Association of Opinion Journalists announced on Monday.

"The award, given by the Association of Opinion Journalists (AOJ) Foundation, recognizes an educator's outstanding efforts to encourage and mentor college students of color in the field of journalism.


"The Bingham Fellowship will be officially announced at the AOJ annual symposium in Mobile, Ala., Sept. 21-23, 2014. Recipients receive a $1,000 award to help them continue their work with students of color."

Fernando Gallo, a former teaching assistant to Drummond, wrote in nominating Drummond, "The Graduate School of Journalism prides itself on its diversity. This presented a class that was often challenging, but Bill never wavered, and pushed his students to be professional and dedicated.

"Given the opportunity to choose a local community for his students to cover, Bill chose Richmond, Calif., one of the most dynamic, distinct and under-served communities in the country. The 'hyper-local' news website Richmond Confidential was created under his watch, and still continues to bring the news to Richmond today.


"In recent years, Bill has used his personal time to advise the inmates of San Quentin as they worked on the prison newspaper: The San Quentin News. Like a modern day Johnny Cash, but armed with a notepad instead of a black guitar, Bill willingly brought some diversion to the imprisoned; and put together a pretty darn good newspaper, too. The San Quentin News is the only inmate-produced newspaper in the country, and boasts a circulation of more than 11,000, as well as a website. And under Bill's guidance, the newspaper was honored by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for 'accomplishing extraordinary journalism under extraordinary circumstances.' "

Drummond's career includes stints at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he covered the civil rights movement, and at the Los Angeles Times, where he was a local reporter, then bureau chief in New Delhi and Jerusalem and later a Washington correspondent. He was also founding editor of NPR's "Morning Edition."

Will Lee Named Editor of People Magazine Website

"People on Monday announced a crucial hire who will help determine the magazine's digital future," Christine Haughney reported for the New York Times.


"Will Lee, vice president for digital content and programming for The Hollywood Reporter's website, will take over on Oct. 20. According to a statement released by the magazine, Mr. Lee will 'provide strategy and vision' for the website and lead its digital team.

"Monday's announcement marks a return for Mr. Lee to Time Inc. He started out working as an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly in 1998 and since then has written for Sports Illustrated.

"Since leaving Time Inc., he worked at the website TMZ as its New York bureau chief and helped start its television series. At the Penske Media Corporation, Mr. Lee worked on brands like Deadline, Hollywood Life, TV Line and Boy Genius Report. . . ."


XXL Magazine to Be Sold, End Print Edition

"Townsquare Media is buying XXL, the 17-year old urban hip-hop magazine from Harris Publications, and will immediately stop producing a regular print edition, The Post has learned," Keith J. Kelly reported Monday for the New York Post.

"The October-November issue of the six-times-a-year title, now at the printer, will be the final edition, sources said. After that, XXL will be digital-only. Two additional digital properties also are being acquired: Antenna Magazine, a young men's title and one-time print edition that launched as a digital men’s pop culture site in July; and, a suspended entity that will have a digital relaunch.


"Terms of the deal could not be learned.

" 'We incubated something digitally, but the Townsquare people can take it to the next level with their digital expertise,' said Ben Harris, president of Harris Publications, which started XXL in 1997 to rival Vibe.

"Unlike in most brand acquisitions during which staff members are laid off, Bill Wilson, the chief content officer of Townsquare, said 11 XXL editorial and digital ad sales team employees will be offered jobs. . . . "


Wilson is former president of AOL Media.

Reporters Banned From Ferguson "Town Hall" Meetings

"The news release was emailed to dozens of local and national media representatives," Stephen Deere reported Friday for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


"The city of Ferguson was promoting a five-week series of 'town hall' meetings beginning Monday to update residents 'on changes the council wants the community to consider'’ and to address concerns about the city.

"But by Friday, a little-known unit of the U.S. Department of Justice had gotten involved, and those meetings, originally billed by Mayor James Knowles III as a dialogue with the community 'so they know exactly where we stand on things with full transparency,' would be closed to the media and nearly anyone else who wasn't a resident.

"In the days after Michael Brown's fatal shooting Aug. 9 by a city police officer, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dispatched the Justice Department's Community Relations Service to the city to help keep the peace and resolve racial tension.


"On Friday, Devin James, a spokesman for Ferguson, said that the Community Relations Service was insisting that reporters be kept out of the city's 'town hall'’ meetings planned for each of three wards because having media present could alter the conversations. . . ."

Khalil Abdullah, New America Media: Will Ferguson Be a Tipping Point for Black Youth Voter Turnout?

Evan McMurry, St. Louis Police Can Now Take Ferguson-Based Class on 'Winning the Media' 


Takedown of NFL Team Name in the Fourth Quarter

"NFL fans watching Sunday's Philadelphia Eagles-Washington Redskins were treated to a rare sight during a fourth-quarter commercial break," the New England Sports Network reported.

"FOX aired a one-minute ad for the 18th season of 'South Park' that was less a promo for the Comedy Central show and more a thorough takedown of the Redskins’ nickname and the controversy surrounding it."


Matt Kramer, HuffPost LatinoVoices: It's Time to Rethink Native Mascots

Robert McCartney, Washington Post: If Dan Snyder is so sure Indians support team name, then he should visit local ones (Sept. 13)

Robert O'Donnell, Washington Post: Stop congratulating yourself for opposing the Redskins' name. You're not helping the real problem.


Travis Waldron, Columbia Journalism Review: Why news organizations are abandoning the Redskins

59 Black Media Figures Reaching Back to Classrooms Friday

"What does service mean in the African American community?" The HistoryMakers organization asked Monday in a news release. "To newspaper veteran George Curry, service means making news accessible to minority communities. To renowned radio personality Frank Ski, service means expanding the reach of urban media, and increasing opportunities for disadvantaged youth.


"To newspaper publisher and editor Amelia Ashley Ward, or television executive Douglas V. Holloway, service means changing the face of media leadership. Service means building a legacy of elite journalism to broadcast journalist Leon Bibb, and redefining television news media to news anchor Barbara Ciara.

"On September 26, 2014, these leaders will join over fifty African American MediaMakers across the nation for a day of service during the 5th Annual Back to School With The HistoryMakers program, as they return to classrooms to encourage students to COMMIT to excellence and finishing their education."

The full list of participating media figures is in the "Comments" section.

The release also said, "Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is chairing the nationwide effort with the goal of having more than 400 black leaders go 'back to school' in 61 cities and 30 states. The program puts HistoryMakers in direct contact with over 25,000 students across the nation, to inspire them with their life's stories and to encourage youth to strive for The theme of the day is 'COMMIT.' The HistoryMakers will personally recount their own school experiences, reflect upon the struggles they encountered on their paths to success and, most importantly, encourage students.  'It makes a difference to hear a message of positive choices from successful, caring adults whom the students can relate to,' says a teacher from the program. . . ."


This columnist will be among the participants.

The HistoryMakers' digital archive

The HistoryMakers Education page

Tanzina Vega, New York Times: Library of Congress to Display Interviews With Blacks, Noted and Unsung (June 23)


Short Takes

"Diversity may be the face of America, but behind the cameras there's still little room for women or racial minorities, at least when it comes to directing primetime television episodes," Jonathan Handel reported Sept. 17 for the Hollywood Reporter. "That's the takeaway from a Directors Guild of America study announced Wednesday, which found that 69 percent of 2013-14 episodes were directed by white males, a figure that’s been virtually unchanged over the last four seasons. . . ."

Hugo Balta, a coordinating producer at ESPN and immediate past president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, is one of 32 recipients of an NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award [PDF], the NFL, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Verizon announced on Sunday. The awards recognize the contributions of Hispanic leaders in each NFL market. Balta is to represent the New York Jets. Recipients are to select an organization of their choice that serves the local Hispanic community to receive a $2,000 donation. "I'm going to invest the prize towards NAHJ scholarships," Balta told fellow members of NAHJ. 


"Prolific writer and playwright J. California Cooper has died at the age of 82, a family friend has confirmed to," the website reported Monday. Cooper passed away peacefully in Seattle, Washington on September 20, with daughter Paris Williams by her side. The [Berkeley]-native was best known for her short stories and plays including Strangers, which earned a 1978 Black Playwright Award. Cooper authored six short story collections including A Piece of Mine, Homemade Love (winner of the 1989 American Book Award) Some Soul to Keep, The Matter is Life, Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime, and Wild Stars Seeking Midnight Suns. Her short story Funny Valentine was turned into a 1999 TV movie. . . . ."

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, America's foremost think tank for black political and economic research, is "restructuring," Spencer Overton, the center's interim president/CEO, told Journal-isms. As reported in June by Hazel Trice Edney for her Trice Edney NewsWire, the Washington-based center "is struggling with financial problems so serious that its political arm has been gutted and its interim president is working for free." Overton told Journal-isms by email on Monday, "We are doing business, and we're in the process of moving to another address." 

"The anonymous media watchdogs who have spent the past month accusing Fareed Zakaria of serial plagiarism have been given a higher platform from which to air their concerns: Esquire," Dylan Byers reported Monday for Politico. "In a new post, News editor Ben Collins writes that 'CNN would rather employ, give airtime to, and defend a plagiarist whose resumé they find easy to personally explain and understand than someone who is doing actual journalism, but who might take more work to reach out to or understand.' He then hands the pen over to the watchdogs — known as 'Crushing Bort' and 'Blippo Blappo' — who target CNN for failing to adequately address Zakaria's plagiarism . . . ."


"KDFW/Channel 4 reports that weekend sports anchor and reporter Max Morgan has died of congestive heart failure at age 59," Robert Philpot reported Monday for the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas. " 'The man who greeted viewers with "Hello Dallas-Fort Worth … let's talk sports" has died,' Fox-4’s report begins. 'Max Morgan started every one of his KDFW sportscasts with that saying, along with a smile and a magnificent baritone voice.' Morgan, who had been with the station since 1993, had been in a Dallas hospital since last Wednesday, according to station reports. . . ."

"The Los Angeles Register, which launched in April as part of Aaron Kushner's bold bet on print newspapers, will cease publication, effective immediately," Andrew Khouri reported Monday for the Los Angeles Times. "Orange County Register co-owner Aaron Kushner announced the decision Monday night in a memo sent to employees. . . . The memo hints at layoffs, but provided no specific details. . . ."

"Fusion today announced that it is partnering with the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism to offer recent graduates several working fellowships specializing in digital storytelling, investigative reporting and documentary production," the school announced Monday. "As part of the ongoing career-track fellowship program, three recent graduates will be hired annually to work for Fusion, a news, pop culture and satire network aimed at a young, diverse American audience. Fusion iis a joint venture of Univision Communications Inc., and the Disney/ABC television network. . . ."


"We happen to have one of the best African-American journalists writing today, Ta-Nehisi Coates, but also we have three people of color in the entire organization," Scott Stossel, editor of the Atlantic magazine, told Nieman Reports on Sept. 11. "There's a whole host of reasons why that is, and we have for some years done aggressive outreach to try to rectify that. But it matters not just in terms of equal opportunity and justice, but in terms of the perspective that you bring to different stories. . . ."

"In a little over a decade, historical and contemporary black newspapers have been digitized at a rapid rate. Yet a critical body of scholarship of these newspapers' impact continues to lag behind the technological developments, which have made these newspapers available to scholars and students," according to the National Endowment for the Humanities. To address this issue, the Center for Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the Black Press Research Collective are planning a two-day workshop Oct. 10-11, funded by a NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up stage I grant. 

"Arise Entertainment 360, the popular daily entertainment and culture series, will now be syndicated on BET CENTRIC beginning September 29," the participating parties announced on Monday. "Hosted by veteran journalist and television personality Lola Ogunnaike (formerly of the New York Times and CNN) and Shannon [LaNier](Black Enterprise), Arise 360 covers the top news stories in entertainment, arts, culture and sports." In April, Essence magazine reported such a deal was in the works.


"Amie Hudspeth has been named news director at the Victoria Television Group in Victoria, Tex., Kevin Eck reported Monday for TVSpy. Eck also wrote, "Hudspeth was assistant news director at WNCT in Greenville, N.C. She has also worked at WOAI in San Antonio, Tex. and KEYE in Austin, Tex."

In the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, "WVEC sports reporter and weekend anchor Brian Smith is recovering from a heart attack and will be off the air for the next few weeks," Tom Robinson reported Saturday for the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.

In Santo Domingo, "At least three journalists were injured while covering clashes between police and protesters of Haitian origin in the Dominican capital on 20 September," Reporters Without Borders reported Monday. "The street fighting erupted in the neighbourhood known as 27 de Febrero when a policeman fatally shot a man of Haitian origin identified as Yanisel Yan. . . ."


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