Radio Host Convicted of Mortgage Fraud

A  lawyer for Warren Ballentine said the radio host was ignorant of the  bilking scheme and merely acted as the attorney at closing, making about    $8,000 while the real masterminds reaped millions.
A lawyer for Warren Ballentine said the radio host was ignorant of the bilking scheme and merely acted as the attorney at closing, making about $8,000 while the real masterminds reaped millions.

"People's Lawyer" Accused of Bilking Lenders of $10 Million

"A federal jury convicted former national radio host Warren Ballentine on Friday of participating in Chicago-area mortgage fraud schemes that bilked lenders out of nearly $10 million," Jason Meisner reported for the Chicago Tribune.

"The jury deliberated about an hour before finding Warren Ballentine guilty on all six counts of bank, mail and wire fraud and making false statements to lenders.

"As the verdict was read, Ballentine dropped his head slightly and whispered, 'Oh, my God.' U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly set sentencing for Jan. 21 for Ballentine, who remains free on bail. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, though his sentence under federal guidelines could be far less.


"At its peak, Ballentine's three-hour daily radio show featured a wide range of issues affecting the African-American community and was syndicated on Radio One in 37 media markets, including Chicago. He billed himself as 'the people's attorney.'

"Prosecutors alleged that Ballentine acted as the real estate lawyer at closings involving nearly 30 fraudulent loans. He knew that the buyers did not qualify to buy the properties in Chicago and the suburbs, authorities said. . . ."

Reach Media, which syndicates the "Tom Joyner Morning Show," canceled Ballentine's show on Jan. 31, 2013, after his indictment by a federal grand jury. Ballentine claimed 3 million listeners.

At the time, his lawyers, Harvard Law Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. and Lewis Myers, Jr., a well-known attorney in Chicago, said they expected Ballentine to be fully vindicated, George E. Curry reported then for the National Newspaper Publishers Association.


Robert "Rob" Redding Jr. reported in May 2013 that Ballentine returned to the air on WAGF-AM in Dothan, Ala.; WJBE-AM in Knoxville, Tenn.; WOWE-AM in Flint, Mich.; WJMG-AM in Hattiesburg, Miss.; and WPUL-AM in Daytona Beach, Fla., via the Empowerment Radio Network.

Terrorists Targeting Western Journalists, FBI Warns

"The FBI on Thursday warned news organizations that it had recently obtained 'credible information' indicating that members of an Islamic State-affiliated group have been 'tasked with kidnapping journalists' in the region and taking them to Syria," Ellen Nakashima reported for the Washington Post.


"The bureau noted that supporters of the terrorist group have called on members to retaliate against the United States and its allies for airstrikes in Iraq and Syria and have identified journalists as 'desirable targets.'

"The warning was released as a rare intelligence bulletin to news outlets so they could take security precautions.


"The Islamic State has beheaded two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and two British aid workers. The group is believed to be holding a number of other Western hostages. . . ."

Mark Joyella, TVNewser: Geraldo Rivera: The 'Real Threat' Comes From 'The Great White North'


Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: The Islamic State fight is turning into a 'dumb' war

Leaks on Michael Brown Autopsy Said to Favor Officer

"Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has told Justice Department lawyers that he is 'exasperated' with leaks emerging from the grand jury involved in investigating the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, according to a Justice official," Robert Samuels and Sari Horwitz reported Thursday in the Washington Post.


"Holder referred to the leaks as a 'selective flow of information,' and characterized them as 'inappropriate and troubling.'

"The leaked information all appeared to support the case of Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., officer who shot the unarmed Brown.


"Various parts of the leaked narrative have appeared in the New York Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Washington Post, drawing criticism from the nation's top law enforcement official as well as from those still protesting on Ferguson’s streets.

"Critics have said the information appeared to be an effort to prepare a volatile community for the possibility that Wilson might not be indicted. . . ."


Post-Dispatch Editor Gilbert Bailon told the Washington Post's Erik Wemple, "The grand jury didn't leak this information. This information came from other sources,” Wemple reported Friday.

Bailon argued "that the paper’s scoops are nothing more than 'public accountability' journalism. Nor has the Post-Dispatch, he continues, published any details from the grand jury proceedings — for instance, the testimony of Wilson himself. 'We've reported that Darren Wilson has testified. We don’t know what he told them,' says Bailon. 'It's an important distinction that's not being made right now.' . . ."


Amnesty International USA: Amnesty International Releases New Ferguson Report Documenting Human Rights Abuses

Blythe Bernhard, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: How would marijuana have affected Michael Brown? It's difficult to measure, experts say


Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star: 'Don't Shoot Coalition' in wake of Michael Brown's death offers extensive recommendations on how policing should improve

Chris Ip, Columbia Journalism Review: What's next for Ferguson? (audio)

Jessica Lussenhop, Riverfront Times: Michael Brown Family: Media Leaks Show Pro-Darren Wilson Bias, Bungled Investigation


Sarah Sidner and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN: Ferguson on edge as doubts raised over Darren Wilson indictment

Lindsay Toler, Riverfront Times: Ferguson Protesters React to Leaked Darren Wilson Testimony, Michael Brown Autopsy


Ebola Victims Nameless, Voiceless, Says Nigerian American

"As an African woman, it's frustrating and disheartening to constantly feel as if mainstream media and even Black Americans are committed to painting Africa as the golden land where all of us are lumped together in one category, who aren't even deserving of designation of country origin," Nneka M. Okona, a Nigerian American writer, wrote Monday for Ebony.


"Never mind that Africa is a vast continent with 53 countries, people with different experiences and representations of culture, language, tradition and food. Nothing about Africa is as simplistic to portray it as a monolithic existence.

"It's also downright infuriating and insulting to continuously typecast the Africans who have been infected with Ebola as mere nameless, voiceless, to be pitied carriers of the disease, with no extension of the respect each and every human should receive. These are people, people who are living and breathing, not sick monsters who are to be feared, cast out and treated as insignificant and unimportant. Will we ever know their stories?


"Ebola is not an African issue. It's not a disease 'over there' which any of us can afford to be silent or ignorant about. It's a serious world health problem and a humanitarian crisis. It is something which can have a ripple effect if not handled properly, if the prejudice, racism and bias to the brown faces it is mostly affecting aren't discarded. . . ."

David Cohen, AllFacebook: ABC News Town Hall on Ebola Reaches 10M+ Facebook Users, Tallies 1.5M+ Video Views


CounterSpin: Harriet Washington on Ebola (audio)

Lee A. Daniels, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Blame a Black Man — the Ebola Version


Lisa de Moraes, Deadline Hollywood: Nancy Snyderman Out Of Quarantine — But Not Returning To NBC For Another Month

Sam Fulwood III, Center for American Progress: U.S. Ebola Hysteria Is the Wrong Response to the Epidemic


Don Lemon, Don Lemon Asks Why All The Outrage for Ebola Victims Here But Not In West Africa?

Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: No Matter What Happens Next, 'Blame the Black President'


Hollywood Reporter: Ebola Diagnosed in New York: Cable Networks Break In to Cover

NBC News: Ashoka Mukpo Talks About Less Fortunate Ebola Victims (video)

Adry Torres and Andrew O'Reilly, Fox News Latino: Officials ramp up Spanish-language Ebola outreach as first case of virus confirmed in NYC


Chris O'Shea, FishbowlNY: NY Post and Daily News Show Restraint with Ebola Covers

NBCUniversal Settles Unpaid Intern Suit for $6.4 Million

"NBCUniversal and a group of former interns have agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit contending the interns should have been paid for their work," Daniel Miller reported Friday for the Los Angeles Times.


"The $6.4-million settlement, subject to court approval, would be shared by thousands of interns, including some who worked at Saturday Night Live.

"The lawsuit is among several that have roiled the entertainment industry in New York and Los Angeles, where unpaid internships have long been a cost-saver for television networks, movie studios, production companies and music labels — and a foot in the door for Hollywood hopefuls. . . "


Writer Denies Americans Are in Information Cocoons

"In this polarized age, have citizens retreated into information cocoons of like-minded media sources?" Brendan Nyhan asked Friday on the New York Times' blog "TheUpshot."


"A new Pew Research Center report [PDF] found that the outlets people name as their main sources of information about news and politics are strongly correlated with their political views.

"Almost half of all respondents that Pew classified as consistent conservatives named Fox News as their primary news source, while consistent liberals were disproportionately likely to name National Public Radio (13 percent), MSNBC (12 percent) and The New York Times (10 percent). These results are in line with studies suggesting that people tend to select news and information that is consistent with their political preferences in controlled settings.


"The Pew study has been widely interpreted to mean that people are living in partisan and ideological echo chambers — a fear that has been frequently expressed as new communication technologies have expanded the media choices of consumers. One of the most famous examples is Cass Sunstein's, a 2001 book that warned of a future in which people could filter out unwelcome viewpoints from the information they consume, potentially creating a more extreme and misinformed citizenry.

"But have the predictions of widespread media echo chambers really come true? It's hard to tell using questions like Pew's, which ask people to self-report where they get their news. People can be biased in what outlets they choose to name or forgetful of the media they did consume in different settings and contexts. In particular, liberals or conservatives may be prone to exaggerating their exposure to ideologically consistent news outlets.


"Naming Fox or MSNBC in response to a question like the one Pew used may thus be more of a marker of tribal affiliation than a direct measure of news consumption. . . ."

Chicago Defender Names First Female Top Editor

"The Chicago Defender has announced the appointment of noted journalist and editor, Kai El' Zabar, to the position of Executive Editor of the weekly newspaper," Target Market News reported on Thursday.


"She [becomes] the first woman in the paper's long and storied history to hold the top editorial position.

"Cheryl Mainor, who became the Chicago Defender's first woman publisher in June, said, 'This is an exciting time as we move towards our 110th anniversary. With Kai in position providing editorial direction for our print product and guiding the evolution of our digital platform, we are poised to maximize our capabilities and continue as a leader in the development of cutting-edge content relevant to the African American community.'


"El’ Zabar, while a native of [Cincinnati], Ohio, is no stranger to the city or the Chicago Defender, having previously worked at the newspaper as staff writer in the late seventies. Prior to this appointment, El’ Zabar has been editor, managing editor and contributor for numerous local publications. Under her editorial leadership at N’DIGO Magapaper from 1993 to 1997, that paper grew from a monthly, to a biweekly, and then to a weekly schedule. She's also held positions at Minorities in Business, LifeLines, The Journal of African American Health and . . ."

Short Takes

"Katrice Hardy has been named The Virginian-Pilot's new managing editor," Lauren King reported Thursday for the Norfolk, Va., newspaper. "She replaces Maria Carrillo, who left in August to become the senior editor for Sunday and enterprise at The Houston Chronicle in Texas. . . . Hardy was named the digital senior editor earlier this year. About two years ago, she joined the Editor's Leadership Team as the tablet enterprise editor. . . ." King also wrote, "She came to the newspaper almost 19 years ago as an intern with what was then the Landmark Minority Internship program. . . ."


A statement by Bob Butler, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, that the complaints of a fired black CNN producer sound familiar exacerbated tensions between CNN and NABJ, Tracie Powell wrote Saturday for her site. Stanley Wilson, the former field producer, is suing CNN for $5 million. In a piece headlined, "The Real Reasons CNN and NABJ Are Angry," Powell wrote, "What Butler's statement did is provide evidence that helps the plaintiff establish what legal professionals call 'pattern and practice.' (In addition to my other titles, I am also a law school graduate). . . . No wonder CNN is mad. With friends like these, during a legal battle, who needs enemies? . . ." [Added Oct. 25]

José Zamora, vice president of strategic communications for Univision Network News, was elected to the board of the Online News Association and two other journalists of color were reelected, the organization announced on Tuesday.  Among the six reelected were Robert Hernandez, assistant professor of professional practice, University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; and Benét Wilson, co-editor-in-chief, The bids of Bonnie Newman Davis, an associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at North Carolina A&T State University, and Luis Gomez, business editor, Investigative News Network, were unsuccessful. ONA said 281 voters cast 1,620 votes. Hernandez garnered 163; Zamora, 125; Wilson, 117; Davis, 70; and Gomez, 44. P. Kim Bui, former senior producer, breaking news, Digital First Media, will continue on the board, and Richard Koci Hernandez, assistant professor New Media, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, will leave at the end of the year.


CBS-TV has posted Mike Wallace's 1995 "60 Minutes" profile of Benjamin C. Bradlee, the former Washington Post executive editor who died Tuesday at 93. C-SPAN is televising its 1991 interview with Bradlee on Saturday at 9 p.m. Eastern time and at 1:20 a.m on Sunday. Services, which are open to the public, are scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Washington National Cathedral.

"Egypt's President has said he plans to pardon jailed Australian journalist Peter Greste and his colleagues after their appeal early next year, according to an Arabic news report," David Wroe reported Friday for Australia's Sydney Morning Herald. "The report by the Dubai-based news channel Al Arabiya says President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told Arab journalists he would pardon the Al Jazeera reporters, who were sentenced to seven years' jail in June. . . ."


"The Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog, recently came out with the findings of a study it completed on midterm coverage during ABC, CBS, and NBC’s evening news programs," Nick Massella reported Wednesday for FishbowlDC. "MRC counted the full and partial campaign reports from September 1 – October 20, 2014 across networks and compared those numbers to the same date range in 2006. While during the 2006 Midterm Elections, ABC's 'World News Tonight' aired a combined 36 full and partial campaign stories. During the time observed this year, that number was zero. CBS’s 'Evening News' and NBC's 'Nightly News' aired 58 and 65 reports, respectively, in 2006, whereas in 2014, those numbers dip to 14 and 11, respectively. . . ."  

"American paychecks shrank last year, just-released data show, further eroding the public's purchasing power, which is so vital to economic growth," David Cay Johnston reported Thursday for Al Jazeera America. He also wrote, "Which group of lucky duckies didn't see their pay fall? Workers making more than $50 million, who saw their average pay rise by $12.8 million, to $111.7 million. . . ."


"The publicity billed it as a critical discussion of the impact of the Star-Ledger decamping from Newark," Andaiye Taylor reported Wednesday for NJ News Commons, a project of the Montclair State University School of Communication and Media. "But in the end, last night's 'Requiem for a Newspaper' panel discussion at Rutgers Newark, where the audience was largely comprised of Star-Ledger alums, was part Ledger family reunion, part trip down memory lane, and part highlight reel of the paper's achievements and shortcomings through the years — with a little business analysis sprinkled in. . . . "

David Gonzalez, Bronx-born New York Times reporter and photojournalist, was asked by Samy Nemir Olivares of Hunter College's Center for Puerto Rican Studies, what he thought his impact has been on Latino communities. "I have been able to show my colleagues the kind of stories that are out there," Gonzalez replied. "I think I also tried to make the point that my parents gave me the gift of Spanish. I know that there are people out there when they are hiring reporters they think that Spanish is a happy coincidence, like your hair color or whatever, that you just are happy to have been born with it. Well no, it is a skill, just like you go crazy about some reporter who went to Harvard to learn Russian. Well, guess what? We have a knowledge of a language and culture we were born and raised with, and that is a hell of a reporting tool, isn't it? El hecho que yo puedo tirarme a un lugar a hablar un español, español del boricua… we have the skills as Latino reporters, a real job skill, and I am hoping that people realize that the fact that some of the best stories I have done were reported entirely in Spanish. . . ."


"Just two days after the massive layoffs at Univision Puerto Rico, anchor/reporters Nuria Sebazco and Zugey Lamela are on the air again — on competitor Telemundo," Veronica Villafañe reported Wednesday for her Media Moves site. "Both only had a weekend break, before starting to report for Telenoticias Puerto Rico on Monday. . . ." Meanwhile, "The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is offering job placement assistance to more than 100 colleagues displaced by the abrupt closing of Univision’s Puerto Rico bureau this past weekend," Tracie Powell reported Thursday for

In its first telecast on Sept. 28, Lisa Ling's "This Is Life" documentary series on CNN reached 235,000 viewers in the key 25-54 demographic and 598,000 total viewers, handily winning both groups, Lisa de Moraes reported Wednesday for Deadline Hollywood.


The Marshall Project will officially launch next month, the not-for-profit investigative news site announced Thursday, Peter Sterne reported for The project, named for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, is an Internet startup on criminal justice issues edited by Bill Keller, former executive editor of the New York Times.

"Rwanda has suspended BBC broadcasts in the Kinyarwanda language . . . because of a film questioning official accounts of the 1994 genocide," the BBC reported on Friday. "The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (Rura) said it had received complaints from the public of incitement, hatred, revisionism and genocide denial. At least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in the genocide. The BBC has denied that any part of the programme constitutes a 'denial of the genocide against the Tutsi'. . . ."


Reporters Without Borders said Friday it was "dismayed to learn that Peruvian journalist Gerson Fabián Cuba's wife, Gloria Limas Calle, was shot dead on 17 October when she tried to protect him from two gunmen inside the radio station in Pichanaki, in the central department of Junín, where he hosts a programme. . . ."

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