New York Times Gets 1,400 Ideas for ‘Overlooked’ Obits

  • Newspaper Admits Shortchanging Women of Color
  • Chilling Consequences for Covering Women’s Rights
  • 4 Sessions to Train Newsroom Leaders of Color
  • Boston Globe Finds Latinos Feel Invisible in Mass.
  • Lester Holt Didn’t ‘Want to Be Defined by My Color’
  • Smith Joins Hill in Leaving ‘SportsCenter’
  • Experts Advise on Covering White Nationalists
  • Revived ‘Indian Country’ to Hire; Create Fellowships
  • Sinclair Tells Anchors to Join Trump-Like Campaign
  • Short Takes
Charlotte Brontë, left, Henrietta Lacks, Ada Lovelace and Ida B. Wells are some of the prominent women belatedly getting obituaries in the New York Times. (Credit: CBS News)

Newspaper Admits Shortchanging Women of Color

An announcement by the New York Times Thursday that it will highlight accomplished women, especially those of color, who never received Times obituaries had prompted 1,400 submission ideas from readers by Friday, Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhodes Ha told Journal-isms.


“We’ve seen a really positive reaction on social media. It’s still the most popular on Facebook and most emailed,” she messaged.

As Caroline Linton reported Thursday for CBS News, “Ida B. Wells, who was born a slave in 1862 and went on to become the most famous black woman of her time as a journalist and civil rights activist, never had an obituary in The New York Times. Neither did accomplished authors Sylvia Plath or Charlotte Brontë, or photographer Diane Arbus. They are among the women highlighted in a new series called ‘Overlooked’ that will publish obituaries for women who were not singled out for the honor at the time.

Wax figure of Qiu Jin, known as China’s “Joan of Arc.” (Credit:

“The first set of obituaries were rolled out March 8 — International Women’s Day. New York Times national reporter Caitlin Dickerson, who wrote Wells’ obituary, told CBSN’s Elaine Quijano the paper is ‘acknowledging now that the New York Times was, quite honestly, part of the problem.’


“ ‘The New York Times is the paper of record — it always, to a certain extent, reflected the culture of the moment,’ Dickerson said. ‘When we talk about Ida B. Wells, for example, born in the 1860s, we’re talking about a moment when we, as a general culture, didn’t pay attention to African Americans — especially African American women.’

“Dickerson said ‘everybody in the building’ was eager to be involved. ‘I think this is going to be a rolling project,’ Dickerson said.


“The interest, Dickerson noted, reflects how important the issues of gender and inequality are even in a time of fast-breaking news. As Quijano pointed out, even in the last two years, only 20 percent of obituaries are written about women. . . .”

Michael McCann, Sports Illustrated: Breaking Down Adrienne Lawrence’s Lawsuit Against ESPN and the Company’s Possible Defenses


D. Kevin McNeir, Washington Informer: My Superwomen — Unsung ‘Sheroes’ Whose Accomplishments Rival Michelle Obama’s

New York Times Co.: The New York Times debuts ad series for International Women’s Day as part of “Truth Has a Voice” Campaign


Amisha Padnani, Times Insider, New York Times: How an Obits Project on Overlooked Women Was Born

Amisha (Amy) Padnani with Amy Goodman, “Democracy Now!”: Obits & Omits: Meet Some of the Women Overlooked by The New York Times Obituaries Section, Until Now (audio, video and transcript)


Amisha Padnani and Jessica Bennett, New York Times: Overlooked

Mary Annette Pember, Sherman Alexie and the Longest Running #MeToo Movement in History (Updated) (March 2)


ProPublica: ProPublica, NPR ‘Lost Mothers’ Series Wins Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting

Robert Snell, Detroit News: Maddox removed from on-air duty amid harassment claim


Joan C. Williams and Marina Multhaup, Harvard Business Review: For Women and Minorities to Get Ahead, Managers Must Assign Work Fairly

Chilling Consequences for Covering Women’s Rights

To mark International Women’s Day (March 8), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is publishing a report entitled ‘Women’s rights: Forbidden subject’ which sheds light on the difficulties that journalists — both men and women — can encounter when they cover women’s rights,” the press freedom group said on March 1, updated Monday.


“Covering women’s rights does not come without risks for reporters. RSF has established that from 2012 to 2017, the rights of at least 90 journalists in around 20 countries were seriously violated because they dared to cover or talk about women’s rights or gender issues.

“Several months of research has yielded the following chilling breakdown of these cases: 11 of these journalists were murdered, 12 were imprisoned, at least 25 were physically attacked, and at least 40 others were or are still being threatened on social networks.


“In India, Gauri Lankesh, the editor of the secular and feminist weekly Gauri Lankesh Patrike, paid with her life for articles that criticized the woman’s place in the caste system. She was gunned down on September 5, 2017. In Iran, many feminist journalists have been subjected to judicial harassment and imprisonment in connection with their writing.

“They include Mansoureh Shojaee, who now lives in exile, and Narges Mohammadi, who is still detained. However, it is not just women journalists who are persecuted by the enemies of women’s rights. In Somalia, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim was arrested and sentenced to a year in prison on a fake news charge after he interviewed a rape victim. . . .”


Jacquelyn Iyamah, Committee to Protect Journalists: On International Women’s Day, CPJ looks at threats women journalists face

To have authenticity in the #newsroom, you need power.Black/POC journalists are often not empowered to change the newsroom. It’s abt

numbers, but it’s also abt having POC in leadership positions. — Marie Nelson, VP of News & Public Affairs @PBS #RepresentMEdia @FordFoundation— Aysha Jamali (@Aysha_Jamali) March 6, 2018


A panel at Detroit’s Charles Wright Museum on Monday included Bill Plante, formerly of CBS News, left; Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker, Marie Nelson of PBS and Richard Prince of “Journal-isms.” The event was sponsored by the Ford Foundation.

4 Sessions to Train Newsroom Leaders of Color

If any theme most resonated in the ongoing discussion of the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission’s report on the civil disorders of the 1960s, it is that action on greater diversity in newsrooms must come from the top.


The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission, shook the news media in 1968 with its declaration that “the journalistic profession has been shockingly backward in seeking out, hiring, training, and promoting Negroes.” It also said, “The world that television and newspapers offer to their black audiences is almost totally white in both appearances and attitude.”

The American Society of News Editors this week unveiled its schedule for its four “Emerging Leaders Institutes, which will take place in various locations throughout the year, with the goal of training up-and-coming news leaders with diverse backgrounds, and helping them develop core leadership and strategic skills.


“Mid-level managers from newsrooms of all platforms are welcome to apply to the specific institute of their choice to be considered.

“Dates and locations are:

“June 8-9 at Loyola University Chicago

“July 17-18 prior to the NAHJ [National Association of Hispanic Journalists] International Training Conference and Career Fair in Miami


“July 31-Aug. 1 prior to the NABJ [National Association of Black Journalists] Annual Convention and Career Fair in Detroit

“Sept. 9-10 prior to the ASNE-APME [Associated Press Media Editors] conference in Austin, Texas


“This is the seventh consecutive year ASNE has committed to train the next generation of news leaders. The program will be led by ASNE President Alfredo Carbajal, managing editor of Al Día at The Dallas Morning News, and ASNE Leadership Committee Co-Chairs Manny Garcia, east region executive editor of the USA TODAY Network; Jill Geisler, Loyola’s Bill Plante Chair in Leadership and Media Integrity; and Ron Smith, managing editor of news at USA TODAY. Other faculty members include Julie Moos, shared news director at McClatchy, and Mizell Stewart III, vice president of news operations for Gannett and the USA TODAY Network. . . .”

Cristiana Bedei, International Center for Journalists: 7 resources to make your stories more inclusive


Colleen Fitzpatrick, Newseum Institute: Kerner Report at 50: Francisco Vara-Orta (Summer 2006) weighs in on media diversity

Ford Foundation: Media roundup: 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report

Michael Lipsky, American Prospect: Why the Kerner Commission Didn’t Move the Needle on Racial Justice


Joe Nocera, Bloomberg View: Discriminating Against White Men Isn’t Google’s Big Diversity Problem

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: When it comes to honoring Martin Luther King, maybe Trump should skip it


Jason L. Riley, Wall Street Journal: 50 Years of Blaming Everything on Racism (paywall)

Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times: East L.A., 1968: ‘Walkout!’ The day high school students helped ignite the Chicano power movement (March 1)


E.R. Shipp, Baltimore Sun: Reflection and renewal 50 years after Kerner report, King assassination

Jackie Spinner, Columbia Journalism Review: Fifty years after Chicago ‘riot,’ new photos emerge — and develop a story


Miranda Spivack, Paul Delaney, Richard Prince and Ava Greenwell: Kerner Commission Panel — DePauw University (News Package) (video)

Boston Globe Finds Latinos Feel Invisible in Mass.

“Shynnah Monge-Cueto took out thousands of dollars in loans to go to college; her guidance counselors didn’t tell her she could have applied for a full-tuition scholarship to Northeastern University,” the Boston Globe reported. (Credit: Keith Bedford/Boston Globe)

They have driven the state’s population growth for decades, helping form the backbone of a booming economy,” Katie Johnston reported Friday for the Boston Globe.

“But Latinos in Massachusetts, a rich mix of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Brazilians, and more, fare worse than Latinos in any other state by several measures.


“The median income for Latino households statewide is just $39,742 a year, while white households bring in $82,029 — the largest gap in the country, Census data show. Only a quarter of Latino heads of household own their own homes in the state, compared to 69 percent of whites — the largest divide nationwide.

“Black households in Massachusetts, by comparison, have a median income of $46,381, and 34 percent own homes.


“Language barriers and immigration status play a major role in the inequity — here and across the country — making it difficult for Latinos to progress beyond low-wage jobs or speak up about unfair treatment.

“But there are added challenges in Massachusetts: a high cost of living and a majority of jobs that require college education, along with long waiting lists for English classes and a 15-year-old law — effectively overturned a few months ago — that eliminated bilingual education from most public schools. There are also relatively few Latino leaders and nonprofits, leading to low levels of civic engagement.


“Puerto Ricans, the largest group of Latinos in the state, struggle more than most, with fewer of them working or in school than among other Latino sub-populations.

“Then there’s Boston’s history of discrimination against black people, which dominates discussions about race.


“ ‘There’s that feeling of, you’re African-American or you’re white, but there’s no in-between,’ said a Boston Police Department officer of Puerto Rican heritage who asked not to be identified. ‘We’re almost like the folks that nobody pays attention to.’

“As a number of Latinos put it: They feel invisible here. . . .”

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable: FCC to Help Fund Network Rebuilds in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands


Lester Holt Didn’t ‘Want to Be Defined by My Color’

NBC News anchor Lester Holt at celebration of the “NBC Nightly News” 70th anniversary (Credit: NBC)

Asked about being the first African American solo anchor of a weekday network nightly newscast, Lester Holt said he was honored and inspired by the impact of his career beyond the anchor desk, Chandelis R. Duster reported Feb. 28 for NBCBLK.

‘Kids can now look around and see someone who looks like them on TV,’ he said at New York’s Paley Center for Media as “NBC Nightly News” celebrated 70 years.


“Saying he himself was inspired by journalists like Bernard Shaw, Bryant Gumbel, and others, Holt reflected on the impact of African-Americans in media. He also spoke of challenges he faced as a journalist of color.

“ ‘There were periods of my career where there was just pressure to define myself as a black journalist and I pushed back at that because I knew I wanted to succeed and not be defined by my color,’ Holt said. ‘I think if any of us are going to succeed, it’s going to be on a broad scale.’ . . .”


Nevertheless, a major career break for Holt came as a result of pressure from African Americans pushing for diversity. He “lives by the words a mentor once said to him early in his career: Prepare yourself to walk through doors of opportunity that will swing open when you least expect them to,” Stephen Battaglio wrote in 2015 for the Los Angeles Times.

It first happened to Holt in 1986, when he landed a major local TV anchor job. He got the gig after CBS’ Chicago station WBBM demoted longtime anchor Harry Porterfield, removing an African American from the lineup of a station that had little diversity on its weekday newscasts. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH led a 10-month boycott against WBBM, and Holt was moved from WCBS in New York to take over one of the nightly newscasts in Chicago.


“ ‘I got that call and I was 27 years old,’ Holt said. ‘There was a tremendous amount of pressure. I didn’t realize how much pressure it was going to be. ‘ . . .”

Variety: Lester Holt Looks Back — and Forward — as ‘NBC Nightly News’ Celebrates 70 Years


Smith Joins Hill in Leaving ‘SportsCenter’

Jemele Hill and co-host Michael Smith (Credit: ESPN)

Sports Illustrated has learned that Michael Smith’s last day as an ESPN SportsCenter host will be Friday,” Richard Deitsch reported Thursday for Sports Illustrated.

“Smith leaving the 6 p.m. SC6 edition of SportsCenter follows his former SportsCenter co-anchor Jemele Hill’s decision to depart the franchise to join the staff of The Undefeated, the ESPN microsite that fuses sports, race and culture, as well as other additional assignments.


“Both Hill and Smith have multiple years left on their ESPN contracts so look for Smith to craft a new role at ESPN over the next couple of months.

“As this column wrote in October when it predicted Hill’s tenure as the co-host of the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter would end, Smith leaving SportsCenter is not a surprise. The SportsCenter that Hill and Smith envisioned, what made their chemistry honest and unique on the ESPN2 show His and Hers and their podcasts together, had slowly been chopped away by a desire from management to change that show to that of a traditional SportsCenter. . . .”


Ivie E. Ani, OkayPlayer: Michael Smith Opens Up About How He And Jemele Hill Were Treated By ESPN

Experts Advise on Covering White Nationalists

“For months before the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville [in August], news outlets had been profiling the emboldened racist extremists who had celebrated the election of Donald Trump,” Lois Beckett and Jesse Brenneman reported Monday for the Guardian. “The coverage had often sparked backlash, with readers across the political spectrum arguing that fringe racists were being given too much of a platform, and that media coverage was blowing their influence out of proportion.


“Charlottesville made clear that far-right groups were a serious, violent threat. But it did not put an end to the debates over media coverage of these groups — and the fierce criticism when news organizations produced coverage that readers saw as too ‘normalizing’.

“Guardian US and WNYC’s On the Media have collaborated on a radio episode looking at these debates over the coverage of America’s emboldened racist extremists. How should news organizations cover neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups? What does it take to cover them accurately — without simply giving them a platform for their ideas?


“The episode brings together historians of American racism with seven reporters who have covered the far right over the past year. Together, they weigh in on the common mistakes journalists and editors make — and the false assumptions about racism at the root of many of these errors. . . .”

Participants include: Elle Reeve, correspondent for VICE News; Anna Merlan, reporter for Gizmodo Media’s special projects desk; Vegas Tenold, journalist and author of “Everything You Love Will Burn”; Al Letson, host of Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting; Felix Harcourt, professor of history at Austin College and author of “Ku Klux Kulture”; Gary Younge, editor-at-large for the Guardian; Josh Harkinson , former senior writer at Mother Jones; and Ibram X. Kendi, professor of history and international relations at American University and author of “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.”


David Beard, Poynter Institute: New SPJ director: ‘A huge priority is to stem the attacks on journalists’ (March 2)

“On the Media”: WNYC-FM, New York: Face the Racist Nation (March 2)

Student Press Law Center: Covering Walk-outs and Protests

Revived ‘Indian Country’ to Hire; Create Fellowships

Freelance journalist Jenni Monet explains to Hopi High School media students the importance of Native journalists. (Credit: Kelly Johnson via Navajo-Hopi Observer)

Indian Country Today is back in business and we are ready to serve,” Mark Trahant, editor of the revived publication, wrote Tuesday for

“Our goal is to hire a team in Washington, create (and fund) reporting fellowships around the country, and build capacity for freelance contributors.


“We want to be partners, not competitors, with tribal newspapers, public media, and web publishers.

“I have been teaching journalism for the past seven years and I am always telling students that this is a time of great opportunity. The digital world means that we can reach our audiences instantly. We can communicate ideas. We can explain a complicated process. We can expose wrongdoing. Or write a story about pop culture that makes us smile.


“We can invent a new kind of news organization, one that trades on the currency of imagination.”

Stan Bindell, Navajo-Hopi Observer: Importance of Native journalists in the media emphasized to Hopi students


Tim Giago, Indian newspapers and Indian journalists are alive and well

Sinclair Tells Anchors to Join Trump-Like Campaign

“ ‘This is so manipulative.’

That’s an anchor at a local TV station owned by Sinclair, describing the company’s latest mandate, a promotional campaign that sounds like pro-Trump propaganda,” Brian Stelter reported Wednesday for CNN Money.


“Internal documents call the new initiative an ‘anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message.’

“But the staffers who shared the documents with CNN say the promos are inappropriate — yet another corporate infringement on local journalism.


“ ‘At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it,’ a local anchor said. The person insisted on anonymity because they believed they would be fired for speaking out.

“Other local anchors also said the promos were a source of dismay in their newsrooms.


“As scripted, the promos decry ‘fake stories’ from national news outlets — echoing President Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about ‘fake news.’

“The promos are supposed to start airing on local stations later this month. . . .”


Short Takes

Hugo Balta
Joie Chen (Credit: TVNewser)

Support Journal-isms Go Fund Me page.

Join the list of supporters.

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.


Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince at

Follow Richard Prince on Twitter.

Like “Richard Prince’s Journal-isms” on Facebook.

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

Share This Story

Get our newsletter