President Barack Obama enters the White House briefing room. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

"The Obama administration's aggressive war on leaks and other efforts to control information are without precedent, according to 30 experienced Washington journalists interviewed for a new report released today by the Committee to Protect Journalists," the Committee reported on Thursday.

"The report found that despite President Barack Obama's promise to head the most open government in American history, White House policies have chilled the conversation between journalists and their sources.

"The report — 'The Obama Administration and the Press: Leak investigations and surveillance in post-9/11 America,' which is written by Leonard Downie Jr., former Washington Post executive editor and now the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication — found that the administration's prosecution of suspected leakers, combined with broad electronic surveillance programs, have left government officials deeply wary of talking to the press. . . ."

CPJ made a series of recommendations that accompany the report.

Shutdown Challenges WaPo's Federal-Employee Columnist

When you write a column about federal employees, a decision to shut down the federal government — even if only partially — lands squarely on your beat. For Joe Davidson, author of "The Federal Diary" column in the Washington Post, the shutdown has meant more work, more readers and a challenge not to repeat himself.


"The government has attacked itself. It's almost like the government has some flesh-eating disease," Davidson told Journal-isms by telephone.

That's the way Davidson framed the development in his column of Oct. 1, the day the consequences of congressional inaction began taking their toll:

"The U.S. government attacked itself early Tuesday, shuttering much of its operation and forcing hundreds of thousands of federal employees from their workplaces," the column began.


"Staff members had no choice but to surrender to the inaction of Congress, which could not agree on legislation to keep the government fully operational.

"Reports that Uncle Sam hung his head in shame could not be verified, but there certainly was reason for his elected leadership, particularly the right side of it, to be ashamed of their performance. . . ."


The column prompted a note from Donald E. Graham, chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Co. "saying it was the best piece in the paper that day," Davidson told Journal-isms by telephone. "It was the day after the sale of the Post was finalized, so his note was particularly meaningful to me."

Much of the coverage of the shutdown has been about partisan wrangling and gridlock. Some conservatives have argued that many Americans don't perceive that their daily lives have been affected, and so the shutdown proves that we need less government. Others have said the media have not devoted enough attention to the shutdown's effect on low-income people.


Davidson agrees that more can be reported about the effect of the shutdown on Head Start; the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program and others that particularly affect people of color. However, he challenges those who say the government doesn't matter as much as some think. "Then why is the House passing bills to restore various parts of it?" he asks.

In fact, Davidson wrote Monday, the stoppage is demonstrating just the opposite: "It shows people just what government does, even if you don't realize it on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes you don't appreciate something until you no longer have it," he told Journal-isms.


Davidson, a co-founder of the National Association of Black Journalists who is a veteran of the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Bulletin and other news organizations, began writing the Federal Diary column in 2008. The column has been a Post staple since Nov. 29, 1932.

Federal workers accounted in 2008 for about 27 percent of the jobs in Washington, but only 15 percent of federal employees are in the Washington area. Thus, there are opportunities nationwide and overseas to localize the story with fresh angles.


"You can do a number of stories about how federal employees are suffering during the shutdown, but it's important for us as journalists to take the story further and get more in depth," Davidson said.

On Tuesday, Davidson wrote a column on a development he described as counter-intuitive: Two Republican congressmen broke with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, "by saying they would vote for a 'clean CR,' a temporary government funding measure not muddied by partisan attempts to defund or delay Obamacare."


In the Oct. 1 column that Graham liked, Davidson went for another contradiction, comparing the level of activity in offices on the same floor:

"The quiet halls and empty cubicles in the Department of Housing and Urban Development provide stark evidence of the shutdown. Much of the building looked as if it had been hit by a strange force that vaporizes people while leaving their desks and the structure intact.


"The generally buzzing Dunkin' Donuts store on the building's third floor had customers, but it was unusually quiet. An adjacent snack shop was closed. The credit union down the hall, however, was busy as members got their money before the office closed. . . ."

They had no idea when they would be paid again.

D'Vera Cohn, Pew Research Center: How to get census data during the government shutdown


Tony Dokoupil, NBC News: 'I won't ever understand it': Kin of fallen express grief, anger over death benefits

LZ Granderson, CNN: Stop demonizing people who need aid (Oct. 1)

Craig Harrington and Albert Kleine, Media Matters for America: REPORT: Nightly News Shutdown Coverage Shrugs Off Effects On The Poor


Julianne Malveaux, syndicated: U.S. Doesn't Care about Poor People (Sept. 25)

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Mend Obamacare, don't end it

Mark Trahant, Indian Country needs solution beyond shutdown

Jon Ward, HuffPost Black Voices: GOP Has Forgotten The Poor Once Again, Conservative Leader Says


Obama Fails to Call on TV Reporters at News Conference

"It was like the feeling when a crowd figures out that a pitcher hasn't given up a hit in 5 innings: during President Obama's press conference on Tuesday, everyone suddenly started noticing that he wasn't calling on any television reporters," Jack Mirkinson reported Tuesday for the Huffington Post.


"This was intriguing; someone from NBC or CBS or ABC or CNN or Fox News can reliably expect to be granted a question, but Obama kept calling on people from places like Roll Call, and the Financial Times, and Agence France-Presse. (He also called on HuffPost's Sam Stein.)

"People started noticing:

"It wasn't clear how the stiffed journalists were feeling, but, [toward] the end of the press conference, the normally silent throng started shouting questions at Obama.


" 'I'm just going through my list guys,' Obama said. 'Talk to Jay,' " a reference to his press secretary, Jay Carney.

Michael Calderone, Huffington Post: President Obama Holds Off-The-Record Meeting With Conservative Journalists


Josh Feldman, Mediaite: Brit Hume: Obama Deliberately Ignored Major Networks at Presser to Avoid Tough Questions

Erik Wemple blog, Washington Post: At Obama's press conference, where's the accountability?


N.Y. Times News-Page Policy: "Obamacare" in Quotes

"A Times reader, Tom Bird, of East Lansing, Mich., raised a timely issue, given all that's happening in Washington," Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, wrote on Tuesday. "He wrote that other news organizations, including The Associated Press, are putting the expression 'Obamacare' in quotation marks, 'signifying that it is not a neutral expression, but instead is political rhetoric that is being used in a partisan way.' And he added, 'When will The Times wake up?' "


Sullivan also wrote, "I asked Philip B. Corbett, the associate managing editor for standards, about the guidelines for the expression in the news pages. 'For the most part, we have not used "Obamacare" as our standard term in news stories outside of quotations,' he said. 'Aside from the question of whether it's politically charged, the term strikes me as informal — essentially a nickname — which is not our normal style for straight news articles. Most often we simply use a straightforward description, like "the health care law" or "the health care overhaul," or occasionally the formal name, the Affordable Care Act.'

"However, in the opinion pages of The Times, where different style guidelines often apply, many examples crop up of Obamacare without quotation marks or description. . . ."


The comments section under Sullivan's article indicated the range of views on the issue.

AP, NPR Curb Use of "Obamacare" Term (Oct. 2) 

"Redskins" Debate Said to Miss Diversity Among Indians

"The name of a certain pro football team in Washington, D.C., has inspired protests, hearings, editorials, lawsuits, letters from Congress, even a presidential nudge," Jesse Washington wrote Tuesday for the Associated Press. "Yet behind the headlines, it's unclear how many Native Americans think 'Redskins' is a racial slur.


"Perhaps this uncertainty shouldn't matter — because the word has an undeniably racist history, or because the team says it uses the word with respect, or because in a truly decent society, some would argue, what hurts a few should be avoided by all.

"But the thoughts and beliefs of native people are the basis of the debate over changing the team name. And looking across the breadth of Indian Country — with 2 million Indians enrolled in 566 federally recognized tribes, plus another 3.2 million who tell the Census they are Indian — it's difficult to tell how many are opposed to the name.


"The controversy has peaked in the last few days. President Barack Obama said Saturday he would consider getting rid of the name if he owned the team, and the NFL took the unprecedented step Monday of promising to meet with the Oneida Indian Nation, which is waging a national ad campaign against the league.

"What gets far less attention, though, is this:

"There are Native American schools that call their teams Redskins. The term is used affectionately by some natives, similar to the way the N-word is used by some African-Americans. In the only recent poll to ask native people about the subject, 90 percent of respondents did not consider the term offensive, although many question the cultural credentials of the respondents.


"All of which underscores the oft-overlooked diversity within Indian Country. . . ."

Ken Belson, New York Times: Redskins' Name Change Remains Activist's Unfinished Business


Michael Calderone, Huffington Post: Washington Post 'Redskins' Column Includes Racially Charged Language Online, But Not In Print

Rob Capriccioso, Indian Country Today Media Network: Redskins Name-Change Symposium: Where Were Snyder and Goodell?


Chris Chase, USA Today: The Redskins are going to change their name, so deal with it

Gene Demby, "Code Switch" blog, NPR: An Uphill Battle To Push An NFL Team To Change Its Name


Howard Fendrich, Associated Press: Asked whether 'Redskins' should go, Goodell says NFL must make sure it does 'what's right'

Emil Guillermo, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education: Obama, Asian Americans Bring Controversy over Washington Football Team to its Peak


Indian Country Today Media Network: NCAI Salutes Obama & Says 'Drop the 'R' Word!'

Roxanne Jones, CNN: Obama is right about 'Redskins'

Ling Woo Liu, The Washington Redskins Should Follow the Pekin Chinks and Fighting Coons and Change Their Name (Sept. 29)


Amy Stretten, Fusion: Appropriating Native American Imagery Honors No One but the Prejudice (Sept. 18)

David Weinberg, "Marketplace," American Public Media: The cost of retiring a Native American mascot


Clinton Yates, Washington Post: An inclusive solution for D.C.'s NFL team name

Rene Sanchez Named Top Editor at Star Tribune

"Rene Sanchez, a veteran journalist who has served as second in command of the Star Tribune newsroom for nearly six years, was named the newspaper's new top editor Tuesday," Pam Louwagie reported Wednesday for the Minneapolis newspaper.


"Sanchez, 48, said he is honored and grateful for the opportunity to lead the newsroom of the nation's 12th-largest daily newspaper. Beginning Friday, he will take over the job of editor and senior vice president from Nancy Barnes, who was named editor in 2007 and is departing to become editor and executive vice president of news at the Houston Chronicle.

"At an afternoon meeting to announce the selection, Star Tribune Publisher Mike Klingensmith called Sanchez 'a great journalist' and said choosing him was 'an endorsement of the course that we've been on here in recent years.' "


Louwagie also wrote, "Sanchez, a New Orleans native, earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Loyola University in New Orleans. He was a reporter for the Washington Post for 17 years prior to coming to the Star Tribune as a writer in 2004. Less than a year later, he was named Sunday editor. He later took on the roles of deputy managing editor and managing editor, where he oversaw metro, business and sports departments, as well as investigative and special projects. . . ."

At the Post, Sanchez was Los Angeles bureau chief for six years. He is of mixed ethnicity, having told Journal-isms, "I'm a mix of Spanish, French, German and Irish. I grew up in New Orleans, and you can track my family's lineage there all the way back to the early 1800s. The first Sanchez in my family line came from Spain, and the [Sanchezes] afterward started marrying in the New Orleans melting pot of many different ethnicities … "


Gannett Names Susan Leath Publisher in Wilmington, Del.

"Susan D. Leath has been named president and publisher of The News Journal Media Group, the Gannett Co. announced this morning," the News Journal in Wilmington, Del., reported Tuesday.


"The media group includes The News Journal newspaper and

"Leath comes to The News Journal after serving as president and publisher of The Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., since 2009.


"Before that, she was the top advertising and marketing executive at the paper from 2005. . . . "

The appointment represents a change of course for the nation's largest newspaper company, which has been losing African American top editors and publishers.


When Samuel Martin resigned in April as president and publisher of the Advertiser Media Group, which publishes the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, he became the last remaining African American publisher at Gannett.

Author Invited, Disinvited in Cuba-Sensitive Miami

"The author of a book arguing for the innocence of five convicted Cuban spies found himself disinvited from an appearance on Miami's WLRN-FM last month, only to be reinvited after the station's g.m. caught wind of the cancellation," Mike Janssen reported Tuesday for, which reports on public broadcasting.


"Stephen Kimber, a journalism professor at the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was slated to appear on WLRN's Topical Currents Sept. 17 to discuss his new book, What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five.

"The book examines the 2001 Miami trial of the Cuban Five, who were convicted for conspiracy to spy on the U.S. and for failure to register as agents of a foreign government. One of the spies was also convicted for conspiracy to commit murder for his involvement in a 1996 incident in which Cuban jets shot down planes flying between Florida and Cuba, piloted by exiles. . . ."


Janssen wrote that WLRN General Manager John LaBonia apologized in a memo for host Joseph Cooper's decision to cancel Kimber's interview and announced that the author would appear on the Sept. 20 edition of "Florida Roundup."

Janssen added, "Cuba 'remains a highly sensitive matter in Miami, especially within the Cuban-American community,' LaBonia wrote. 'But we also realize that the local conversation about Cuba has evolved and become more broadminded over the past decade — and that it can accommodate opinions today that might have been too uncomfortable to engage a generation ago.' . . ."


Average African Does Not Agree That "Africa Is Rising"

"African leaders, foreign investors and formal indicators of economic growth may say that 'Africa is rising' — but most ordinary Africans don't agree," John Allen reported Oct. 1 for


"A pioneering new survey of public opinion in 34 countries across the continent suggests that the relatively high average growth in gross domestic product (GDP) reported in recent years is not reflected in the experiences of most citizens.

"An average of one in five Africans still often goes without food, clean water or medical care. Only one in three think economic conditions in their country are good. Fifty-three percent say they are 'fairly bad' or 'very bad'.


"The survey suggests that either the benefits of growth are being disproportionately channelled to a wealthy elite or that official statistics are overstating average growth rates (or possibly a combination of both).

"The survey was directed by Afrobarometer, a research project coordinated by independent institutions in Ghana, Benin, Kenya and South Africa, with partners in 31 other countries. . . ."


Book Says Coverage of Famine Did More Harm Than Good

"It is almost 30 years since a single TV news report alerted the world to a massive humanitarian emergency unfolding in Ethiopia," Katie Nguyen reported Friday for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


" 'Dawn, and as the sun breaks through the piercing chill of night on the plain outside Korem, it lights up a biblical famine, now, in the 20th century. This place, say workers here, is the closest thing to hell on earth,' " the piece began.

"Accompanied by shots of thousands of starving people arriving at feeding stations in northern Ethiopia, the report by the BBC's Michael Buerk triggered an outpouring of donations and one of the biggest humanitarian efforts the world had ever seen. . . ."


Nguyen also wrote, "In the minds of many, the reporting of the famine and the subsequent humanitarian effort were a huge success. Yet, a new book by former BBC journalist-turned-academic Suzanne Franks shows the opposite to be true."

"Reporting Disasters: Famine, Aid, Politics and the Media" "takes a comprehensive look at the iconic news event. Mining BBC and government archives, it concludes that media coverage of the crisis was misleading and inaccurate, and that the aid effort ultimately did more harm than good. . . ."


The story concludes, "Little has changed in the media reporting of famines in the years since the Ethiopian crisis, Franks said. Citing Somalia's famine in 2011, she said there were a few but not many journalists willing to tell the 'horrible and complicated story' of why people were starving in the Horn of Africa country which was, at the time, mainly controlled by al Shabab militants."

Paul Stoller, Huffington Post: Media Myopia and the Image of Africa (Aug. 8)

"One of the Most Racially Charged Fashion Seasons Around"

"The Style & Soul section produces four fashion issues a year, spring, bridal, fall, and holiday," Elizabeth Wellington, fashion columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote Wednesday.


"For September's issue, I used a pretty, brown, girl-next-door type to show the season's wearable fashions.

"The comments started the morning the section was published and trickled in over the next few days. They went something like this: Nice section, but why did you have to use only a black model? It made me not want to buy the clothes.



"Apparently, seeing a brown-skinned woman in a faux leather, cobalt blue peplum jacket turned some readers off. One reader even accused us of reverse discrimination.


"It was a first to hear that kind of contempt — whether the model we've hired was white or black or Latino or Asian. . . .

"But it seems rancor is going around, as this has been one of the most racially charged fashion seasons we've seen in a while. And the talk has gone beyond the usual grousing about the lack of color on the national and international runways. . . ."


Short Takes

A panel of civil rights veterans agreed Wednesday that "this is the time for the resetting of the agenda" to emphasize economic issues, in the words of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. Gates led a panel at the National Press Club in Washington promoting his upcoming six-part PBS series, "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross," to be broadcast Oct. 22-Nov. 26. Members of Congress were among the full house of 350 who heard Gates, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault and movement veteran Julian Bond. Gates said efforts to stress economic justice during the movement's peak years met with greater resistance from those in power.


"Cable executives say mixed results from recent industry diversity employment reports should energize the industry's efforts to improve its hiring and promotion of women and people of color," R. Thomas Umstead reported Tuesday for Multichannel News. While the number of people of color in the cable workforce increased by 5 percent, the groups' representation in upper management levels dropped since a report two years ago, according to Gail Greenfield of global HR consulting firm Mercer, which helped facilitate the surveys, he added.

For health reasons, "The publisher and managing editor of the Liberian-based newspaper and online magazine FrontPage Africa has been granted a 30-day temporary release from prison by the Attorney General," James Butty reported Wednesday for the Voice of America. "Rodney Sieh was jailed on August 21st after he failed to pay a US $1.6 million libel judgment to former Agriculture Minister J. Chris Toe. . . ." Sieh pleaded his case Aug. 30 in an op-ed in the New York Times.


Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, Ebony magazine senior editor, is joining the Chicago Sun-Times at the end of the month to write about arts and culture, Linda Bergstrom, Sun-Times associate editor, told Journal-isms.

In Washington, "Local television news personality J.C. Hayward has asked a D.C. Superior Court judge to remove her from the list of defendants in a case involving allegations of a multimillion-dollar self-dealing scheme at a District [of Columbia] charter school," Emma Brown reported Wednesday for the Washington Post. Hayward has been placed on administrative leave at WUSA-TV pending further investigation.


"A series exposing the routine failure on the part of police to protect the developmentally disabled at California care institutions is the inaugural winner of the Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability," the National Center on Disability and Journalism announced Tuesday. "California Watch, part of The Center for Investigative Reporting, is the recipient of the international award, the first devoted exclusively to disability coverage. The award includes a $5,000 prize and is administered by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. . . . " 

The Republican National Committee Tuesday announced two new hires as part of its ongoing effort to attract African American voters to the party, Joyce Jones reported for Orlando Watson, a former campaign staffer for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is the RNC's communications director for black media, and "Veteran Republican operative Tara Wall, who handled African-American media for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, has signed on to the GOP Black voter outreach effort as a senior adviser for Black media. . . ."


Under the headline, "Should we stop believing Malcolm Gladwell?" Paul Raeburn wrote Tuesday for Knight Science Journalism at MIT, "I have long been an admirer of Gladwell's; I wish I could put stories together the way he does. But I'm now afraid to read him. My work, my intellectual life, and even my social and emotional experiences with my family are based on knowing what's really going on — not Gladwell's made-up ideas of how things should be. I don't want to base my reading, or my life, on Gladwell's currency: things that might or might not be true, but which make possible masterful storytelling."

At Washington's WJLA-TV, "Jummy Olabanji will become half of a new morning anchor team for Good Morning Washington," Bill Lord, vice president and general manager, told staff members. Olabanji and Autria Godfrey "have done an outstanding job when paired together over the past several months and we plan to capture that chemistry on a permanent basis. . . ."


"Shadow League Digital announced today the launch of 'Shadow League Radio,' its new digital radio platform to air on," the company announced on Wednesday. "Shadow League Radio's programming will infuse an urban perspective into discussion topics across sports news, social media, original content and sociocultural happenings. Content generation for the shows will be based on listener's on-air, social and emailed contributions. . . ."

"The Diary of Malcolm X," printed contents of his private diary from the year 1964, the year immediately preceding his assassination, has been edited and annotated by author and journalist Herb Boyd in collaboration with the third eldest daughter of Malcolm and Betty Shabazz, according to Third World Press, the publisher. Third World Press is seeking contributions online to facilitate the book's release in November.


"Five years after ending a successful three-year run as host of his own daily radio show in Chicago, Reach Media announced Monday that beginning Monday, October 14, 2013, award-winning journalist, author and television personality Roland Martin will debut his new nationally syndicated radio show 'News One Now with Roland Martin,' airing Monday through Friday from 10 am to 1 pm (EST)."

Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, a vice president at Nielsen, which recently surveyed African Americans' buying habits and influence, was asked the significance of blacks' spending more than twice the time at personal hosted websites than any other group. Pearson-McNeil told Diego Vasquez of, "It's important for marketers and advertisers to understand that this consumer segment is not monolithic. By understanding, for example, that blacks like to blog, or post, or own their own web sites points to how influential African-Americans are with other cultures and that they appreciate having a voice on matters and issues that are of importance to them. Blacks like being able to control the story that is being told about them. So often it's not told in a positive light by others."


A Twitter conversation on "Covering Race in the Media," with Rinku Sen, publisher of and president and executive director of Applied Research Center, is scheduled Oct. 17, at noon EST. Questions and comments may be sent in using the hashtags #ttgpchat, the hashtag for the series, and #mnbizchats.

Al Jazeera plans a dedicated online channel that "aims to engage a passionate online generation in new forms of storytelling," the network said Wednesday.


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

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