Gay Talese
Wikimedia Commons

Was It Racism, Sexism or Both?

Gay Talese is a giant in the world of narrative journalism. He is 84 and white. Nikole Hannah-Jones, who is African American, is an investigative reporter who was named the National Association of Black Journalists' Journalist of the Year for 2015. She is 39 and black.


When they met last weekend at Boston University's The Power of Narrative Conference, Talese asked her how she got her job at the New York Times Magazine and whether she was leaving to get her nails done.

It wasn't Talese's only cringeworthy moment at the event — he stumbled when asked which female journalists from his era inspired him when writing. But here's how the Hannah-Jones encounter went, according to Amy Littlefield, writing Tuesday for

"Immediately after his keynote, Talese walked over to attend a private luncheon for speakers. He met Nikole Hannah-Jones, who has won widespread acclaim for her coverage of racial segregation in schools and housing.


"Hannah-Jones delivered Friday’s keynote address, launching the conference. But when she was introduced to him as a New York Times Magazine staff writer, Talese was more curious about how she got her job.

“ 'He asked again if I was actually a staff writer. And I said yes,' Hannah-Jones told me by phone on Monday. He asked her how she got hired for that job. 'I said they called and offered me a job,' she recalled. 'He asked me who hired me, why was I hired?'

"Hannah-Jones said she was the only Black person in the room.

“ 'I felt defensive,' Hannah-Jones recalled. 'I feel like I’ve been explaining why I’m in a room where apparently people think I’m not supposed to be most of my life, so I know when someone is asking me that question.'


"The conversation moved on to other topics. But at the end of the luncheon, Talese asked Hannah-Jones something else.

“ 'I was talking with another woman journalist,' Hannah-Jones recalled. 'We were trying to figure out what session we were going to go to next, and that’s when he asked me if I was going to get my nails done.' "Now, Hannah-Jones, like Talese, is an immaculate dresser, and that extends to her turquoise, baby blue, and glitter nails. But when Talese asked if she, an investigative reporter at one of the nation’s leading publications, planned to skip out on the journalism conference at which they were both keynote speakers to head to the salon, Hannah-Jones did not even know what to say. “ 'Part of it was, I mean, I just come from a family where respect for your elders is very ingrained, but part of it is feeling like, honestly, as a Black woman, that it would be very hard for me to say something without coming off looking like all the stereotypes that women and Black women get,' Hannah-Jones told me on Monday. 'It was a hard moment for me to realize that even at this point in my career I could still be silenced.'

"The conference, like many journalism gatherings, was overwhelmingly white, another reminder of how far the field of journalism has to go to address racism and sexism, not only in our coverage, but within our own ranks. For women like . . . Hannah-Jones, Talese’s remarks cut in part because they felt familiar. Talese echoed decades of exclusion. That was what the men on stage didn’t hear, but we did. . . ."


Andrea Asuaje, BU News Service: Talese Stumbles Over Question on Female Journalists

Shirley Leung, Boston Globe: The backlash over writer Gay Talese’s comments at BU

Shirley Leung, Boston Globe: I heard from Gay Talese. Here’s what he really meant.


Sridhar Pappu, New York Times: Gay Talese Goes Through the Twitter Wringer

'Unique Blend of Sexualized Insults and Racial Slurs'

"A woman reporter was told she 'gained too much weight' and that sent the message that she 'is not able to discipline herself in a visual medium,' ” Sherri Williams wrote Monday for


"Another woman journalist was called a 'stupid blonde sorority chick' and a woman anchor was told to 'keep shoving food down that pie hole of yours… it shuts up that annoying donkey braying noise you make when you talk.'

"Last week some of those women and their men colleagues at WGN Chicago addressed negative emails and tweets they received from viewers. The video shows how women news anchors bear the brunt of nasty viewer commentary, and that criticism normally centers on the woman news anchor’s appearance.

"Women with years of reporting experience and journalism expertise often find their skills eclipsed by criticism about their appearance and negative perceptions about their intellect. But journalists who are women of color face criticism that is a unique blend of sexualized insults and racial slurs combined with violence, according to leading experts. . . ."


Filling Supporting Roles Might Hold Women Back

"You spend months pouring time and energy into a big project. Requirements change, plans become more ambitious and you take on extra responsibilities to keep everything on track," Katie Hawkins-Gaar wrote Tuesday for the Poynter Institute.

"Despite the challenges, you meet deadlines, appease coworkers and the team keeps humming along, thanks to your efforts.


"The project is released and earns industry accolades. Your boss is quoted in coverage. Your hotshot colleague is invited to speak on a panel. Your contributions largely go unnoticed.

"If you’re a woman working in digital media, there’s a good chance this scenario feels familiar.

"It’s a situation that I’ve been through many times, in part because of my work style. I strive to meet organizational deadlines and promises, and I’m most comfortable in a team setting, preferably when I can focus my efforts on coaching and helping others to shine.


"As a manager at CNN, I spent the majority of my time running team meetings (where we collectively focused on how to improve), organizing one-on-one check-ins, coaching and editing colleagues and sharing team accomplishments whenever I could.

"It wasn’t until I came to Poynter and joined the faculty — less of a team and more of a group of smart people teaching and working on individual projects — that I realized how much I relied on that comfort zone. I could no longer hide behind a group and found myself struggling to put a spotlight on my own achievements.

"I’m not alone in feeling this way. Women often fill supporting roles, helping others to be their best. It’s part of what makes working with women so great. It’s also a quality that might hold us back. . . ."


Kerry Washington Gracious About Photoshopping

"It’s really impressive how profoundly unteachable the magazine industry remains when it comes to the ladies," Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote Wednesday for Salon.

"Sure, every now and then a woman of color makes it to the cover of Vogue, the makeup-free celebrity photo shoot is a regular stunt, and perfectly gorgeous models who are not size 0 can even make it into the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.


"Yet the confining limits of what constitutes conventional attractiveness on an editorial level are still so very, very narrow. Fortunately, there are women like Amy Schumer and Kerry Washington, women who know how to deploy a well-worded social message to call out BS wrapped up in the guise of flattery. . . ."

Williams also wrote, "On Tuesday, Kerry Washington posted her cover image on the new issue of AdWeek, a photo that depicts her looking regal, powerful — and not really like herself. In her post, Washington confessed that 'I’m proud of the article… I have to be honest… I was taken aback by the cover.

" 'Look, I’m no stranger to Photoshopping. It happens a lot. In a way, we have become a society of picture adjusters — who doesn’t love a filter?!? And I don’t always take these adjustments to task but I have had the opportunity to address the impact of my altered image in the past and I think it’s a valuable conversation.


" 'Yesterday, however, I just felt weary. It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look like when I look in the mirror. It’s an unfortunate feeling.' "

AdWeek provided Journal-isms with this statement from James Cooper, editorial director: "Kerry Washington is a class act. We are honored to have her grace our pages.

"To clarify, we made minimal adjustments, solely for the cover's design needs. We meant no disrespect, quite the opposite. We are glad she is enthusiastic about the piece and appreciate her honest comments."


Melissa Harris-Perry, Essence: EXCLUSIVE: Melissa Harris-Perry Interviews Anita Hill, 25 Years Later 

Clinton Still Winning Big With Black Voters

"Tuesday night was a huge victory for two campaigns that were once insurgents and are now viable alternatives," Jason Johnson wrote Wednesday for The Root. "Ted Cruz, mustering all the might of the evangelical Republican base and the desperate 'anti-Trump' voters, won the Republican primary in Wisconsin with 49 percent of the vote and, so far, 36 out of a possible 42 GOP delegates. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders won with 56 percent of the vote and got 47 out of the 96 pledged delegates available.


"Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are now re-evaluating strategies after their closest opponents put together a string of victories, but they needn’t fret for too long. The black vote makes a triumphant return after the Wisconsin primary, and it will likely make the difference for the two front-runners.

"One of the main knocks on Sanders has been that he does not perform well with minority voters, especially African Americans, in the Democratic primaries. And while there has been some pushback from Sanders supporters, the exit poll numbers aren’t on their side. Clinton tends to win states where the minority percentage of Democratic primary voters is high; more specifically, she tends to win African-American voters by large margins. "The whiter the primary voting population, the better Sanders has done, and Wisconsin was no different. The electorate on the Democratic side was 83 percent white and only 9 percent African American, and Clinton beat Sanders 71-29 percent with black voters. This is not to diminish Sanders’ victory Tuesday night, but looming around the corner is the next 'Super Tuesday,' April 26, which features states like Maryland and New York, where sizable populations of black voters will again be a determining factor in who wins.

"On the Republican side, the story is a bit trickier . . ."

Chauncey Alcorn and Leonard Greene, Daily News, New York: Bronx residents blast Ted Cruz over his ‘New York values’ insult and stance on immigration


Charles M. Blow, New York Times: The (Un)Democratic Party

Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America: The Staggering Numbers Behind The Media's Trump Obsession

James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: And the winner is!

Jonathan Chait, New York: The Pragmatic Tradition of African-American Voters

Editorial, Dallas Morning News: How Donald Trump unwittingly exposed the hypocrisy of the abortion debate


Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press: GOP loses bid to say some Americans shouldn't count

Jacqueline Keeler, Indian Country Today Media Network: Sanders Hires Native American Staffer: Nicole Willis

Julianne Malveaux, National Newspaper Publishers Association: What If Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager [Were] Black


Carlos Maza, Media Matters for America: How News Networks Should Cover Someone Like Donald Trump (March 28)

Jim Mitchell, Dallas Morning News: Donald Trump is treating Mexico like he’s the landlord

Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: John Kasich brings his campaign to a town still in need of a miracle


Bernie Sanders, Daily News Editorial Board, New York: TRANSCRIPT: Bernie Sanders meets with the Daily News Editorial Board, April 1, 2016

Erik Wemple, Washington Post: New York Daily News editorial board rocks Sanders campaign with fundamentals

Drummond's Column Ends as Oakland Trib Shrinks

"This will be my last column," Tammerlin Drummond wrote Friday for the Oakland Tribune.


Half a dozen Bay Area newspapers are being folded into two daily publications meant to serve the East Bay and South Bay, the Bay Area News Group announced last month.

"The Times will continue to cover news in Oakland, and a new weekly paper will carry the Oakland Tribune name," Drummond continued.

"It saddens me that Monday will be the last publication date of the 142-year-old daily, which is steeped in history. When I was a cub reporter, the Tribune was owned by Bob Maynard. Maynard was the first African-American publisher of a major daily newspaper. He and his wife, Nancy (both of whom have since died), turned the Tribune into a model for newsroom diversity.


"The Tribune always operated on a shoestring and the goodwill of its devoted employees. Despite its financial challenges, it was a gutsy, scrappy newspaper that reflected its community. In 1990, the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for photography for coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake. . . ."

Drummond also wrote, "As the Tribune masthead disappears from the daily paper, I feel almost as though I'm coming to grips with releasing a terminally ill loved one after a long period of suffering. This column, which I suppose has caused suffering for some of you, is also drawing to a close. . . ."

She concluded, "I will move to a new assignment covering East Bay culture. If you have any topics you'd like to suggest, please don't hesitate to shoot me an email.


"I'll also be exploring how the newspaper can use audio to tell stories about life in the East Bay in exciting new ways.

"It's a new chapter for all of us here at the newspaper, but the book's not over."

Variety's Justin Chang Joins L.A. Times Film Critics

In January, “Creed” director Ryan Coogler addressed the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s annual awards dinner after accepting the New Generation Award, Kristopher Tapley reported then for Variety. Coogler recalled attending the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, his first trip overseas. "With a short film in tow, he found himself spending a lot of time at the Variety press tent.


'There was this guy that was going crazy, typing on his laptop, then he’d run off. Then he’d come back, type away, run off,' Coogler recalled. 'He typed like a madman, and I recognized that. It was passion, trying to get the words out. He looked Asian, and I found out it was Justin Chang.'

"He came home after the fest and looked back at 'that crazy typing dude’s' reviews, particularly of a film he now counts as his favorite, 'A Prophet.' As he read the reviews he thought to himself, '"This is artistry, how he’s putting these words together." I had a newfound respect for what you guys do, and I want to tell you how important it is. It connects the world to what we do.'

"He encouraged the room, 'in this world of Rotten Tomatoes and clickbait,' to continue that work, and issued a challenge in return. 'Reach back into the community and find the next Justin Chang,' he said. 'Find the diversity. Find the voices that are in those places you might not think to look, because it will be amazing to see the next generation. . ."


On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times announced that Chang would join the paper as a film critic.

"Justin is one of the rising stars of film criticism — respected by colleagues, competitors and filmmakers alike," John Corrigan, assistant managing editor, wrote to the staff. "He was awarded the inaugural Roger Ebert Award for diversity in film journalism in 2014, and has also been recognized by the Los Angeles Press Club for his reviews and commentary.

"Following his graduation from USC in 2004, Justin worked in various capacities at Variety. He was promoted to senior film critic in 2010 and chief film critic in 2013. He is a frequent guest critic on KPCC’s 'FilmWeek' and NPR’s 'Fresh Air Weekend,' and the author of 'FilmCraft: Editing,' a 2011 book of interviews with some of the world’s top film editors. He serves as chair of the National Society of Film Critics and secretary of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.


"He lives with his wife, Lameese, in Pasadena, and his non-movie-related interests include detective fiction, long-distance running and Korean food.

"Justin starts April 25 and will report to film editor Marc Bernardin. Justin has long wanted to work at The Times alongside Ken Turan (one of Justin’s biggest fans), and here is what he has to say about the opportunity.

" 'Whether they’re casual moviegoers or hardcore cinephiles, readers look to the Times’ film reviews for more than a mere recommendation. They look for an understanding of the art, business and politics of filmmaking; a wide-ranging love for the medium informed by a deep knowledge of film history; a healthy skepticism toward gimmickry and formula; and a genuine passion for those treasurable cinematic experiences that move, stimulate and break new ground.' . . . "


Jeff Sneider, Film Critic Justin Chang Leaves Variety to Join LA Times

'Panama Papers' Scandal Prompts Demonstrations

"The Panama Papers investigation has prompted a swift global response in the 24 hours since more than 100 media organizations began publishing and broadcasting stories, including official investigations opened around the world, mass protests in the streets of Iceland’s capital and an immediate censorship drive in China," Ryan Chittum and Hamish Boland-Rudder reported Tuesday for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.


"Thousands of Icelanders took to the streets of Reykjavik on Monday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson following the disclosure by ICIJ, Reykjavik Media, and Suddeutsche Zeitung that he and two members of his cabinet had owned or controlled secret offshore shell companies.

"On Tuesday, Iceland’s president refused a request from Prime Minister Gunnlaugsson to dissolve parliament and call snap elections, according to the Guardian.

"After initially refusing to step aside, Gunnlaugsson tendered his resignation on Tuesday afternoon. . . ."


[Dan Bilefsky reported Wednesday for the New York Times, "It remains unclear whether Mr. Gunnlaugsson, who remains leader of his party, will succeed in his effort to avoid a formal resignation in the face of significant public anger in the tiny island nation of 323,000.]

"Gunnlaugsson violated parliamentary ethics rules when he failed to disclose his 50 percent ownership of Wintris Inc. in 2009. The company held millions of dollars worth of bonds in the three major Icelandic banks, which collapsed in 2008. The prime minister said the company was actually his wife’s all along and that his 50 percent ownership was caused by an error by the couple’s bank.

"The crowd gathered in the square across from Parliament House, tossing eggs, bananas, and Icelandic yogurt at the building.


"Elsewhere, prosecutors and officials across the world have announced investigations into the Panama Papers revelations:

"The United States Department of Justice said it was reviewing Panama Papers reports for evidence of wrongdoing, and a U.S. Treasury spokeswoman said the department was aware of the reporting. . . ."

Asked about the black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian and Asian American journalists who worked on the project, Gerard Ryle, ICIJ director, pointed to a list of the participating reporters and messaged, "We worked with reporters from every nationality and ethnicity. Perhaps not native American … but all the others. A large number of ICIJ are Latin American. The reporters on the project come from just about everywhere."


Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times: 'My God. We've done this': Meet the reporters who probed the Panama Papers

Short Takes

Jelani Cobb, staff writer at the New Yorker and an associate professor of history and director of the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut, is joining the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism as a full-time faculty member, the New York school tweeted Wednesday. Jacqueline Devine quoted Haddiyyah Ali, political science and Africana studies major, in the Daily Campus, the University of Connecticut student newspaper. " 'He brings activism and academia to a point where he is able to have a career out of it,' Ali said. . . . Ali took a course specifically dedicated to the events in Ferguson, Missouri with Cobb. . . ."


The leaders of six journalism associations Tuesday urged "all news organizations to conduct their own inquiries about pay and ensure that hard working journalists are being paid fairly and equitably, regardless of color or gender. But let’s not stop there; let’s also continue to address the lack of inclusion in our industry’s ranks. In addition to equal pay, we should also look into providing equal opportunity for promotions. We need more journalists of color in positions of leadership. . . " The statement was signed by the presidents of the national associations of Asian American, Native American, black, Hispanic and lesbian and gay journalists and Unity: Journalists for Diversity.

"A media request for broader court transparency and increased access to legal documents in the trials of the six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray will be considered in a downtown courtroom at 9:30 a.m. on May 10, according to an order issued Tuesday by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams," Kevin Rector reported Wednesday for the Baltimore Sun.

On Monday, the 48th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Jarvis DeBerry of | the Times-Picayune reminded readers, "According to a 1999 Gallup poll King ranked only behind Mother Teresa when Americans were asked to name 'one of the people I admire most from the century.' But in the years before his death, he had fallen off the list of Americans that Americans most admired. In 1964, he was fourth on the list. In 1965, he had dropped down to sixth, just ahead of Richard Nixon. But in 1966 and 1967, the last full years of his life, he wasn't on the list at all. In that 1967 Gallup poll, George Wallace —"Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" — was eighth on the list of most-admired Americans. . . ."


" 'Would anybody remember or care about Kitty Genovese if she had been black?' That’s the very good question her just-deceased murderer, Winston Moseley, posed to me more than once in the scores of letters he wrote me," Catherine Pelonero wrote Wednesday for the Daily News in New York. "I first wrote to Moseley in 2009, care of Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate Dannemora, where he was serving his life sentence for the notorious 1964 killing of Catherine (Kitty) Genovese. . . . It’s certainly an oversimplification to say that Genovese’s death is remembered and studied because she was white. The lore mostly rose up around the reports that an entire neighborhood stood by while a terrible thing happened. Still, it’s worth a thought experiment: Would a black Kitty Genovese ever have become a symbol of anything? . . ."

"Tech reporter Sal Rodríguez is among more than dozen employees who lost their jobs in a round of layoffs at the International Business Times," Veronica Villafañe reported Wednesday for her Media Moves site. "While the company wouldn’t address who lost their jobs at Latin Times, on the website’s staff page several names disappeared from the staff list after the cuts, including Michael J. Duarte, Sports Editor; Cedar Attanasio, immigration/hard news reporter, Danny Choy, Tech Editor; and Lilia Cisneros, Español.

Joanna Kao has joined the Financial Times as a data visualization journalist. She previously worked for Al Jazeera America as a multimedia reporter and interactive developer, Chris O'Shea reported Tuesday for FishbowlNY.


Since the Los Angeles-based Japanese-American newspaper Rafu Shimpo issued an appeal for funds on March 25, "Individuals and organizations have asked how they can help support,' Publisher Michael Komai messaged Journal-isms on Tuesday. "Many people have come out in support of the newspaper and its importance to the community. Some individuals have gone on information campaigns, sending our announcement to their friends and contacts. Through 6pm today, over 300 people have signed up for our eNewspaper subscription. That leaves only 9,700 more."

In an update on Lester Holt, anchor of "NBC Nightly News," Marisa Guthrie wrote Tuesday for the Hollywood Reporter, "When I ask Holt whether he ever has experienced racial prejudice in his career, he’s quick to say no, then stops himself. 'I’m only pausing because I’m trying to think of a moment …' he trails off before continuing. 'There was a situation where there was a potential job opportunity, but the thinking was maybe they didn’t want to put two black people together because the co-anchor already in place was black. I didn’t take that really as a racist thing.' I point out that few would question the appropriateness of two white anchors. He agrees then adds, 'But they might say we don’t want to put two men there. I also don’t look for offense,' he continues. 'My radar is not up. I was raised with a lot of pride in who I am. " Holt also discusses his relationship with Brian Williams, whom he succeeded as "Nightly" anchor.

In Venezuela, "The director of Complejo Editorial Alfredo Maneiro (CEAM for its initials in Spanish), the Venezuelan state enterprise in charge of selling newsprint to print media outlets in the country, was sued for what the complainants said is the discriminatory allocation of newsprint paper that caused newspaper El Carabobeño newspaper to end its print edition, according to information from the NGO Espacio Público," Yenibel Ruiz reported Tuesday for the Knight Center for Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.


"Twitter is ‘coming of age’ in Africa with the platform being widely used for political debate," Portland Communications, a London-based communications agency, reported Wednesday. "Analysis by Portland found that almost 1 in 10 of the most popular African hashtags in 2015 related to political issues and politicians, compared to 2 per cent of hashtags in the US and UK. The top political hashtag in Africa was focused on the highest profile election on the continent last year — #NigeriaDecides. . . ."

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.