"CNN is reformatting 'Parker Spitzer' as an ensemble program with Eliot Spitzer — and without Kathleen Parker, who has been his co-host for the last four months," Brian Stelter reported Friday for the New York Times.
The development leaves room for a person of color to co-host a prime-time program on cable, but CNN did not name anyone in its announcement.
Asked specifically whether people of color would be involved, a CNN spokeswoman said, "Like all of our programming, we will have on a range of people and perspectives."
In a memo to the CNN staff, Ken Jautz, CNN/U.S. executive VP, said, "We will be adopting an ensemble format with several newsmakers, guests and contributors joining Eliot Spitzer each night.
"The new program will be called, 'In the Arena,' beginning Monday. E.D. Hill and Will Cain will join the program as well others within and outside the CNN family.”
Stelter reported, "Almost since the day it started in October, 'Parker Spitzer' was mired by backstage clashes and disagreements. It never generated ratings traction. The New York Post reported as early as Jan. 10 that Ms. Hill and Mr. Cain were being considered as replacements for Ms. Parker."
The New York Post reported Sunday that the show has fewer than 540,000 viewers.
Last month, Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, told Journal-isms "it's inevitable" that people of color will be hosting prime-time news shows on cable television — but that MSNBC was happy with the evening team it installed after the departure of Keith Olbermann in the 8 p.m. Eastern slot.
CNN announced in September that Larry King's spot on CNN would be filled by another white male, Piers Morgan.
As reported in this space previously:
In June, two days after CNN hired the disgraced former New York governor to co-host "Parker Spitzer," the National Association of Black Journalists blasted the cable news networks for their failure to place African American hosts in such prime-time slots.
The CNN announcement prompted a story by Rachel Sklar in the online magazine the Daily Beast, "The Unbearable Whiteness of Cable."
"CNN just announced two new hosts for the 8 p.m. prime time hour recently vacated by Campbell Brown: Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker," Sklar began.
"Last week, MSNBC announced that the new host for its 10 p.m. prime time show would be network staple Lawrence O'Donnell. What do these three people have in common (and thankfully for O'Donnell and Parker, it's not being caught with your socks down with a prostitute)? Pretty obvious: They're white.
"They're white like Chris Matthews is white, like Bill O'Reilly is white and Keith Olbermann is white, like Wolf Blitzer is white and Megyn Kelly is white and John King is white and Ed Schultz, Greta Van Susteren, Jake Tapper, Joe Scarborough, Bob Schieffer, David Gregory, Chris Wallace, Rachel Maddow, and Dylan Ratigan are white, not unlike the lion's share of their guests."
Former anchor Rick Sanchez left CNN after his complaints about the lack of anchors of color on the cable shows were quickly overshadowed by remarks about Jews in the same interview.
Retired ABC News anchor Carole Simpson has also spoken up on the subject as she promotes her new autobiography, "NewsLady."
"I think we've gone backwards," she told Howard Kurtz Jan. 23 on CNN's "Reliable Sources," scolding him for overstating the number of influential television journalists of color.
"There is nobody saying, 'oh, my, we really need to get more African Americans on the air, we need to get more Hispanics on the air, we need to get more Asians on the air.' Yet, America continues to become more and more diverse. And yet it is white men —"
Kurtz replied, "So we have an African American president, and you feel like the news business — the television business, I should say — hasn't gotten the message?
Simpson said, "It's gotten worse. And that makes me very upset, because I worked very hard."
Libya Warns "Outlaw" Foreign Journalists
Yvonne Ndege of Al Jazeera reports from Nigeria on the effect of the downfall of Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi on the rest of Africa. (Video)
"Journalists who entered Libya illegally are considered 'outlaws' and will be arrested unless they surrender to the authorities, the country's deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday," Agence France-Presse reported.
" 'There are journalists who entered illegally and we consider them as if they are collaborating with Al-Qaeda and as outlaws and we are not responsible for their security,' said Khaled Khaim.
" 'They will be arrested unless they surrender to the authorities,' he added.
"Khaim said Libya — which has been rocked by bloody anti-regime protests for the past week — only allowed three media crews to enter the country, including correspondents for the US news network CNN.
" 'We have allowed crews from CNN, Al-Arabiya and BBC Arabic to enter Libya,' he said."
But the authority of the central government was slipping away and increasingly limited to the capital, Tripoli.
"As rebellion crept closer to the capital and defections of military officers multiplied, Col. [Moammar Gaddafi] called on thousands of mercenaries and irregular security forces on Wednesday to defend his bastion in Tripoli, in what residents said was a desperate and dangerous turn in the week-old uprising," the New York Times' Kareem Fahim and David D. Kirkpatrick reported Wednesday from Baida, Libya.
". . . The fall of other cities to rebels on Wednesday, including Misurata, 130 miles east of the capital, left Colonel [Gaddafi] more embattled — and his opponents emboldened."
"Journalists from across the world have been entering Libya through its eastern border with Egypt over the past day, as [Gaddafi] loses his grip on that part of the country," Josh Halliday reported Wednesday for Britain's Guardian newspaper.
". . . Reporters from US broadcasters CNN and NPR also crossed Libya's border with Egypt late on Tuesday. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, an NPR reporter, described Libyans in the east as 'very excited to see western journalists.'
". . . However, the Libyan capital, Tripoli, remains inaccessible for foreign journalists as government militiamen clamp down on dissenters.
"Jon Williams, the BBC's world news editor, told the Guardian: 'Around Tripoli it is still as menacing and arguably more so now than it has ever been.'
"Williams said it was becoming increasingly difficult to describe Libya as one country. 'The eastern province is really like it's not Libya,' he told the Guardian, likening the situation to Iraq's self-ruled northern region under Saddam Hussein."
Chris Ariens added this information Wednesday for TVNewser:
"NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel reported on 'Nightly News' last night and again this morning on 'Today' from the port city of Tobruk, about 75 miles west of the Egyptian border — one of the Eastern areas that has abandoned the rule" of Gaddafi.
"ABC News has correspondents on either side of the Libyan border, Alexander Marquardt in Egypt and Jeffrey Kofman in Tunisia. Says ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider, 'Like everyone, we’re assessing the security situation on a minute-by-minute basis, looking to see if there are places within Libya from which we can report, keeping in mind that the safety of our correspondents and crews is our highest priority.'
"It is for security reasons that CBS News is not revealing the names of two correspondents now in-country. CBS News foreign editor Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews tells TVNewser the two correspondents entered from Egypt. . . . A third CBS News correspondent is traveling from Bahrain to Tunisia at this hour.
"CNN’s Ben Wedeman has been in Libya since Monday, also arriving from the Egyptian side.
"FNC’s David Lee Miller entered Libya today, and did his first [live shot] from the country this morning."
Meanwhile, "Attacks on Internet connectivity in the region have continued," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported in a roundup from the region.
"In Libya, Net connections with the wider world were suspended entirely for periods of several hours over the weekend. Levels of incoming and outgoing Internet traffic as recorded by monitors outside the country are unusually low, suggesting that the Net may be being artificially restricted or specific regions cut off from outside access. Yemen traffic also dropped earlier in the month, which Internet security experts Arbor Networks have suggested may be due to the installation of increased filtering.
"In Baghdad today, armed military forces stormed the office of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), a local press freedom group, at 2 a.m. Bashar Mandalawy, a project manager at JFO, told CPJ: 'They broke the doors, vandalized the office, broke furniture, and confiscated computers, cameras, and JFO's archives,' including personal information for all the group's employees.
"Qassim al-Moussawi, a military spokesman in Baghdad, told The Associated Press that the raid was carried out by the Iraqi army, which allegedly had information about a 'company operating without a license.'
"Today in Egypt, a mob loyal to former President Hosni Mubarak and guards for the Middle East News Agency (MENA), a government news service, attacked a group of journalists who were protesting outside the agency's building, according to local journalists.
"Mahmoud al-Arabi, a journalist for Al-Shorouk newspaper, told CPJ that around 25 journalists joined a dozen MENA journalists who were protesting against the agency's pro-Mubarak editorial line. The journalists demanded that MENA's head, Abdallah al-Hasan, step down. An unidentified journalist working for opposition newspaper Al-Ahrar was injured and hospitalized. The military dispersed the mob.
"In Syria, security forces arrested popular blogger Ahmad Hadayfa — who writes under the name Ahmad Abu al-Khair — on Sunday in the coastal city of Banyas, according to local human rights groups."
Hannah Allam of McClatchy Newspapers, one of the few Western journalists of color covering the Mideast uprisings, wrote Tuesday about "a bizarre and harrowing drive from the Egyptian border to the coastal city of Tobruk for two Western journalists and their Egyptian translator.
"The hour-long journey just after nightfall offered a firsthand glimpse into the forces on both sides competing for Libya's future: longtime opposition activists, powerful tribes, military commanders, disenchanted youths and regime loyalists," she related.
"At the border, all official security had melted away; the youths were now keepers of the frontier, armed with assault rifles and handguns. Flashing victory signs and pointing to anti-government graffiti scribbled on the walls, the men were eager to share tales of the repression they suffered under the regime of Libyan leader [Moammar Gaddafi], who closed off the north African nation from the outside world for much of the past 40 years.
". . . Only moments later, however, a communications mix-up, due to the lack of phone or internet service, left the American journalists in the back of a car belonging to pro-[Gaddafi] youths with a rifle in the front seat. The men had mingled with the protesters at the border and promised to shepherd the journalists to safety, even though they soon made clear their disdain for the revolt and their suspicions about foreign satellite television broadcasts."
Allam is the daughter of a mother from Oklahoma and a father who is Sudanese Egyptian. She was raised in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Oklahoma. She speaks French and Arabic as well as English.
Allam spent nearly two years as Baghdad bureau chief, then was Cairo bureau chief, first for Knight Ridder and later for McClatchy. She was the National Association of Black Journalists' Journalist of the Year in 2004.
*Hamid Ahmed, Associated Press: Iraqi forces raid journalists' office overnight
*AL Jazeera: Live blog — Libya, Feb. 24
*Hannah Allam, McClatchy Newspapers: [Gaddafi] no match for eastern Libyans' resistance streak
*Michael Calderone, Yahoo: Journalists start arriving in Libya
*Committee to Protect Journalists: Reporter missing in Libya; attacks continue in Yemen, Iraq
*Robert Fisk, London Independent: Tripoli: a city in the shadow of death
*GroundUp blog: 37 Versions and Growing. How to Correctly Spell "Gaddafi" or "Khadafy" or "Qadaffi"? *Peter Key, Philadelphia Business Journal: As world watches Middle East, Al Jazeera lobbies to get on Comcast
*Talking Biz News: Bloomberg to launch Islamic product
*Ishaan Tharoor, Time: Why the U.S. Needs Al Jazeera
*VBS: Reporter gains entry into Libya, ends up detained
*Marian Wang, ProPublica.org: As U.S. Rebuilt Ties With Libya, Human Rights Concerns Took a Back Seat
"Carol Moseley Braun’s stunning defeat signals the end of the black political empowerment movement in Chicago," columnist Mary Mitchell wrote Wednesday in the Chicago Sun-Times, referring to Tuesday's mayoral election in that city.
"Rahm Emanuel won big in predominantly black wards across the city, just as Mayor Daley did when a black candidate dared run against him. In fact, Braun, with 9 percent of the vote, fared worse against Emanuel than any black challenger did against Daley:
"R. Eugene Pincham (25.1 percent) in 1991; Roland Burris (36.3 percent) in 1995; Bobby Rush (28.1 percent) in 1999; Paul Jakes (14 percent) in 2003, and Dorothy Brown (20.1 percent) in 2007.
"But the strategy of bloc voting based on race changed dramatically when Barack Obama was elected president. Although Obama was loathe to talk about race, black people understood the significance of electing the first black man to the highest political office in the country.
"Obama didn’t have to say anything. He just had to be. And from that point on, race became a bad word in elections.
"Although Braun accepted the consensus candidate mantle bestowed upon her by a coalition of black business and civic leaders, clergy and activists, the role never fit.
". . . . Black politicians, business leaders and activists who claim to have influence in this city were either standing with Braun and quietly supporting Emanuel, or voter apathy in black wards was just too much for Braun to overcome."
The Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, joined by Rainbow PUSH, NAACP, and others are telling the Federal Communications Commission that the status of civil rights issues at the commission is even worse now than last year, when most of the same groups wrote the agency to complain about the state of minority ownership," John Eggerton wrote Wednesday for Multichannel News.
"They want a meeting with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to air their grievances.
"A commission spokesman strongly disagreed with the letter's characterization of the FCC on the issue.
"In a letter dated Feb. 22, the groups said that no progress had been made on minority entrepreneurship and equal employment issues. They pointed to a number of things, including the FCC's 2011 budget, which they said cuts funding to diversity offices, funds new diversity studies at only half the level needed, and limits that research to broadcasting, rather than including telecom — particularly telecom auctions — where those groups have been pushing for help in bidding against large incumbents."
Among others signing the letter were the Black College Communication Association, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Native American Journalists Association and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.
"Six months after it began as a bold new experiment in local newsgathering, TBD.com's fate remains, as its initials imply, to be determined," Paul Farhi wrote for Thursday's editions of the Washington Post.
"After a staff-slashing announcement and wholesale reorganization Wednesday, the Arlington County-based operation will become a small, stand-alone Web site focused on local entertainment and lifestyle features — in other words, all of the things it wasn't supposed to be when it launched with great fanfare and the attention of the media world last summer.
"The brainchild of Allbritton Communications chief executive Robert Allbritton, TBD was supposed to do for Washington area news what Allbritton's Politico newspaper and Web site had done for political coverage. That is, it would be faster, smarter and more creative than existing digital offerings, using the Web, broadcast TV and cable news. . . "
While white men and women dominated the website's leadership‚ including General Manager Jim Brady, the former executive editor of washingtonpost.com who later resigned from TBD, and Editor Erik Wemple, formerly editor of Washington City Paper‚ Steve Buttry, director of community engagement, told Journal-isms in August that there was diversity:
"Our TBD leadership includes a Latina (TV news director) as well as an Asian-American (senior director, product management, the first person Jim Brady hired for TBD, long before it had a name) and an African American (assistant news director)," he said by e-mail. "I haven't run the numbers, but I suspect that the TBD racial/ethnic diversity is closer to (though still not matching) the diversity of the community than most metro news organizations." The news director is Malissa Reyes; the senior director, product management is Bageshri Ghate and the assistant news director is Yolanda Massey. Buttry described himself as a longtime friend of the Maynard Institute who led sessions at the Maynard Media Academy at Harvard last year. He added that Reyes' father is Filipino.
Among the website's 12 reporters are arts reporter Sarah Godfrey and sports reporter Mike Jones, who are African American, and Elahe Izadi, who is Iranian-American.
"I'm not certain what my next step will be," Izadi told Journal-isms. "I'd like to find another reporting job. I would also love to be able to incorporate my other passion, comedy, into my work and experiment with new methods of story-telling. Who knows — I may also may revive my now-defunct race and pop culture blog.
"It should be noted, however, that I haven't yet decided on whether I may go for one of the offered WJLA positions."
The site also promised diversity through a network of more than 130 local blogs and websites.
- *Rick Edmonds, Poynter Institute: Six business lessons from TBD’s early demise
Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media, Juan Gonzalez, columnist for the New York Daily News, and A.C. Thompson, a reporter for ProPublica, were among the winners of the George Polk Awards for "special achievement in journalism, with a premium placed on investigative and enterprise reporting," Long Island University, which bestows the honors, announced on Tuesday.
The Polk award for television reporting went to ProPublica, PBS’ "Frontline" and the Times-Picayune of New Orleans "for a monumental collaborative effort that took an in-depth and unwavering look at the controversial and often brutal actions taken by the New Orleans Police Department in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 'Law & Disorder' investigates charges that police officers shot at least 10 people — killing a minimum of four — in the week after the 2005 catastrophe."
Gonzalez won in the commentary category "for exposing massive fraud by consultants hired to eliminate chicanery in the city payroll system," Bill Hutchinson reported in the Daily News.
"Gonzalez's reporting uncovered a taxpayer boondoggle of more than $720 million in the CityTime contract.
"His hard-hitting columns led to the federal indictments of four consultants and their relatives, and the resignation of the director of the city's office of payroll administration."
Gonzalez, a former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and a co-host of Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" also won the Polk award in 1998.
Close has guided the efforts of New America Media, formerly known as Pacific News Service, an alternative news source that supports thousands of ethnic media outlets, for 37 years.
"This award is a great validation by a prestigious mainstream media organization of ethnic media’s vital role. We are very grateful," Close said.
New America Media reported: "Perhaps her proudest moment in journalism came in 2007, when she organized the Chauncey Bailey Project, a team of reporters whose investigative work led Oakland police to arrest those responsible for killing Bailey, the editor of the African American newspaper, The Oakland Post. Bailey had also won a Polk Award."
The idea for the Bailey project originated in the comments section of this column in a message from Boston writer and editor Kenneth J. Cooper. A coalition of journalism organizations was soon formed to implement it.
The Polk Awards program, which takes place April 7 in New York, will include a special presentation to Wilbert Rideau, a former death row inmate who earned the 1979 George Polk Award for Special Interest Reporting while working as the editor of his Louisiana prison’s magazine, LIU said.
Rideau has been called the nation's most famous prison journalist, and wrote "In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance" last year about his prison experience.
"The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls has won the 2010 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers with 'Growing Up Indian,' an eight-part series that examines the daunting challenges faced by children on South Dakota’s Native American reservations," the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University announced on Wednesday.
"Two finalists were also selected for the award: The Washington Post for 'Paths to Jihad,' a five-part series on the pivotal choices made by young Muslims on four continents; and The Sacramento Bee for 'Who Killed Amariana?' a three-part series that investigates the circumstances behind the death of a 4-year-old foster child in a mysterious arson fire.
“ 'Growing Up Indian' tells the stories of three young women and a 3-year-old girl. The project was designed to raise public consciousness about what it is like to be a child on a reservation and show how that experience is both different and significantly more difficult than for many other children living in America today.
"The series was produced by reporter Steve Young, photographer and multimedia producer Devin Wagner, managing editor Patrick Lalley, metro editor and project designer Jim Helland and multimedia manager Jim Cheesman.
"Taylor Award judge Annmarie Timmins commented, 'This series was a tightly focused collection of reporting, photographs and first-person essays. The paper gave voice to an underserved population in a most fair way. A lesser reporting effort might have blamed government policies or the Indian lifestyle for the problems of infant mortality and high school dropout rates. This series didn’t shy from either argument but chose instead to highlight the problems in human ways and begin a discussion of what might be done to remedy them. A newspaper doesn’t have a more important job.' "