Sandra Bland’s Controversial Police Encounter and Death Led ABC, CBS, NBC Evening News Shows

Sandra Bland

Interaction in Police Stop, Past Suicide Attempt at Issue

The ABC, CBS and NBC evening news programs led with new reports Wednesday about the death in jail of Sandra Bland after police released a video of her interaction with a Texas state trooper that prompted criticism that the officer had acted improperly.


David Montgomery and Michael Wines wrote for the New York Times:

"A 28-year-old woman whose arrest this month during a traffic stop ended with her hanging death in a county jail cell told officials that she tried last year to kill herself, the Texas sheriff who oversees the jail said on Wednesday. But the jailers did not put her on suicide watch, and her family's lawyer said that they had no evidence that she had ever tried to commit suicide or had struggled with depression.


"The back-and-forth over the mental state of the woman, Sandra Bland, came a day after Texas authorities released a dashboard camera video showing how a stop for changing lanes without signaling escalated into a shouting match and struggle between Ms. Bland, who was African-American, and a white state trooper, Brian T. Encinia.

[In addition, a bystander recorded video that shows Bland complain that the trooper slammed her head into the groundTravis Gettys reported Monday for Raw Story.]


"Some legal experts who reviewed the video raised questions about whether Ms. Bland, who was moving to Hempstead from Chicago to take a job at a local college, should have ever been arrested.

" 'This whole thing could have been avoided,' said Christopher C. Cooper, a civil rights lawyer, former Washington, D.C., police officer and recognized expert in police conflict resolution. He said that the video showed that the trooper's decision to stop Ms. Bland for a minor infraction was legal but questionable, and that the officer's angry, forceful response to Ms. Bland's refusal to put out a cigarette seemed excessive.


"Ms. Bland’s journey from arrest to death in the cell where she was found hanging on July 13 has brought demands from friends, family members and supporters nationwide, fueled by social media, for answers to how she died, with many insisting that she was not suicidal. . . ."

The Times also published an interactive web feature Wednesday, "Assessing the Legality of Sandra Bland’s Arrest."

St. John Barned-Smith, Houston Chronicle: Officials: Sandra Bland spoke of previous suicide attempt 


Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Questions About the Sandra Bland Case

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Sandra and Kindra: Suicides or Something Sinister?


Danielle Bowler, Eyewitness News, South Africa: The Death of Sandra Bland and History's Echoes

Tammerlin Drummond, Oakland Tribune: Danger inherent for police in traffic stops 


David Edwards, Raw Story: CNN panel explodes after ex-cop says Sandra Bland died because she was 'arrogant from the beginning' 

Max Ehrenfreund, Washington Post: However Sandra Bland died, suicide in jails is a national tragedy 


H. A. Goodman, Huffington Post: If Sandra Bland Were a White Woman, Statistics Show She'd Be Alive Today 

Eli Hager, Marshall Project: What You May Have Missed in the Sandra Bland Video 

Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press: False expectations define the racism in Bland video 


Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times: What happened to Sandra Bland in cell 95? Debate continues with video release 

Demetria Irwin, Sandra Bland's death is a sobering reality check for her fellow millennial activists 


K.K. Rebecca Lai, Haeyoun Park and Larry Buchanan, New York Times: Assessing the Legality of Sandra Bland's Arrest 

Jim Mitchell, Dallas Morning News: Sandra Bland's death in custody doesn't add up 


Jamil Smith, New Republic: Sandra Bland Never Should Have Been Arrested 

Nick Wing, Huffington Post: Sandra Bland Should Never Have Been In Jail In The First Place 


John Yang, Amy Calvin and Erin McClam, NBC News: Sandra Bland Death: Officials Say Glitch, Not Editing, Caused Video Irregularities (video) 

John Yang, "Today," NBC News: Dash-cam video of Sandra Bland arrest being reviewed for edits

NAHJ Hires Nonprofit Veteran as Executive Director


"After an exhaustive search across the country, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) board of directors has selected Alberto Mendoza to be NAHJ’s new executive director," NAHJ President Mekahlo Medina announced on Thursday.

The announcement said, ". . . Mendoza most recently served as the Regional Vice President with Jumpstart: Children First where he led the operations in California, Texas and Washington which served over 3300 children. He also served as the President and CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air, a California policy and advocacy organization, where he was the first Latino leader to run a statewide environmental organization.


"In 2009, United States Senator Barbara Boxer honored Mendoza with the first ever U.S. Environmental Leadership Award. Alberto was also the founding Regional Executive Director for the Drug Policy Alliance-Southern California office and also led programs for Girl Scouts USA, Public Counsel and AIDS Project Los Angeles. . . ."

In May, NAHJ abruptly parted ways with Executive Director Anna Lopez Buck, who helped to steer the organization through a significant financial crisis as interim executive director in 2011 and was rewarded the next year with the job on a permanent basis.


Medina said then that he could not disclose the circumstances of Lopez Buck's departure, and that he would take leave from his reporting job at KNBC-TV in Southern California to fulfill the executive director's duties on an interim basis. [Added July 23]

Cosby Mounts Media Campaign to Save His Reputation

"Bill Cosby's legal team pressed forward on Wednesday with a vigorous public defense of the entertainer, arguing that while Mr. Cosby acknowledged embarrassing personal details in a legal deposition 10 years ago, he admitted to no crime, a fact they say has been lost in the recent wave of media coverage," Graham Bowley and Sydney Ember reported Wednesday for the New York Times.


Meanwhile, 'Simon & Schuster has pulled a number of celebrity endorsements for Mark Whitaker's Bill Cosby biography, which was published in September, from web pages for online retailers," Jessica Goodman reported Wednesday for Entertainment Weekly. "The biography, Cosby, didn’t mention the sexual abuse allegations that recently became publicized, and was widely criticized for not doing so.

"The Associated Press first broke the news, and Cary Goldstein, the Simon & Schuster vice [president] and executive director of publicity, confirmed to EW that it would pull the blurbs because of 'recent events.'


" 'Simon & Schuster and the author have decided to remove all of the celebrity endorsements we received prior to publication last fall,' Goldstein said in a statement. 'In addition, there is no plan for releasing a paperback edition, or for issuing a revised version of the book.'

"Praise from Billy Crystal, Mary Tyler Moore, and others will not appear on or other retailers. . . ."


The New York Times report continued, " 'There has been a good deal of confusion, and perhaps a better word would be misrepresentation, regarding the deposition testimony which has been filtering out in excerpt form,' a lawyer for Mr. Cosby, Monique Pressley, said in a phone interview. 'There is no criminal conduct here. Nothing within the deposition moves the ball forward for those people accusing Mr. Cosby of criminal activity.'

"Ms. Pressley, a lawyer in Washington who is newly representing Mr. Cosby, took to television shows like ABC's 'Good Morning America' and 'Shepard Smith Reporting' on Fox News Channel as part of a whirlwind series of interviews aimed at defending Mr. Cosby. . . ."


The report also said, "She said people needed to understand the context of Mr. Cosby's comments in his deposition, specifically that Quaaludes were a legal drug in the 1970s that many people used during consensual sexual encounters. . . ."

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: You can't erase Cosby, Confederacy

This image was lost some time after publication.

Coates: "I Don't Think Cornel West Knows Who I Am"

Ta-Nehisi Coates said Wednesday that the recent criticism of his new book byCornel West demonstrates that "I don't think Cornel West knows who I am."


The Atlantic magazine writer also said David Brooks, a New York Times op-ed columnist who also critiqued the book, simply has his facts wrong. Under the headline, "Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White," Brooks wrote, "There’s a Lincoln for every Jefferson Davis and a Harlem Children's Zone for every K.K.K. — and usually vastly more than one. Violence is embedded in America, but it is not close to the totality of America."

In a Facebook posting last week, West took issue with Coates' efforts to model his book, "Between the World and Me," after James Baldwin's "The Fire Next Time."


"In Defense of James Baldwin — Why Toni Morrison (a literary genius) is Wrong about Ta-Nehisi Coates," West, a professor emeritus at Princeton University, began. "Baldwin was a great writer of profound courage who spoke truth to power. Coates is a clever wordsmith with journalistic talent who avoids any critique of the Black president in power.' . . ."

On Pacifica Radio's "Democracy, Now!" Wednesday, co-host Juan Gonzalez said to Coates, "Your book has now become part of the ongoing debate between African-American intellectuals in this country. Your response to Cornel West?"


Coates replied, "Well, I was really, really sorry to see that . . . . I don't think Cornel West knows who I am. But — and I don't mean like I’m all that, and he doesn’t know who I am. I mean I literally don't — I think he saw this James Baldwin quote from Toni Morrison, and I think he then went and wrote, you know, a couple of Facebook posts. I wrote a book.

"People can read my book — I hope they do — and they can read his Facebook posts, and they can decide whether — you know, which has more merit. People can read Cornel West's claim that I avoid any critique of the president, or they can go —and they can go to The Atlantic and see what I've actually written about the president, and then they can decide which is true. I have great, great admiration for Cornel West. I think he's made a weighty contribution to black literature and to black letters. I hope he continues to do that."


Coates went on to discuss a meeting at the White House at which he challenged President Obama, saying, "He has no right to lecture black people on morality."

Host Amy Goodman asked Coates about Brooks' op-ed piece.

"Well, I would just challenge that on the facts," Coates replied. "There was not an Abraham Lincoln for every Jefferson Davis. As the great historian Ed Baptist responded: Wrong, every president up to Abraham Lincoln was Jefferson Davis. It simply is — that's not — I mean, that's just like factual. You know, Abraham Lincoln is singular. . . ."


After criticism of his first Facebook post, West wrote a second one clarifying his views on Coates' book.

James Forman Jr., the Atlantic: Between the World and Me: 10,000 Years From Tomorrow


Woody Lewis blog: Blues for Mr. David 

David Palumbo-Liu, Salon: The cult of white liberal race-deniers: David Brooks, Sandra Bland and race denying at its worst


Editors Honor Dori Maynard With Diversity Award

"Dori J. Maynard, a nationally respected journalism educator and thought leader on diversity issues, will be honored posthumously as recipient of the 15th annual Robert G. McGruderAward for Diversity Leadership, awarded by the Associated Press Media Editors in partnership with the American Society of News Editors," APME announced on Wednesday.


"Maynard, 56, served as president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. She died of lung cancer Feb. 24.

" 'Dori Maynard changed lives in newsrooms and communities across the country,' said Alan D. Miller, APME president.


" 'Thousands of journalists learned to think differently, to be more inclusive, and to make sure that we represent the diversity of our communities in our news coverage and our newsrooms,' he said. 'Her words will long ring in our ears, and our readers can be grateful for that. She was the epitome of diversity leadership and left us too soon. We are privileged to honor her and her legacy with the 2015 McGruder Award.'

"Maynard will be remembered and honored during the annual awards luncheon of the ASNE-APME conference Oct. 16-18 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. . . ."


John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: ASNE diversity award named in memory of Dori J. Maynard (May 5)

Lack of Newsroom Diversity Attributed to Hiring Mindset

Alex T. Williams, a Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania, argues in Columbia Journalism Review that the reason newsrooms don't have more journalists of color isn't that they are not being trained, but that they aren't being hired.


"Using unpublished data from Grady College's 2013 Graduate Survey, I analyzed how many minority bachelor's degree recipients from 82 colleges earned full-time jobs within 6 to 12 months after graduating with a journalism or communications degree," Williams wrote Wednesday.

"Here, I found an alarming trend. In 2013, graduating minorities that specialized in print were 17 percent less likely to find a full-time job than non-minorities; minorities specializing in broadcasting were 17 percent less likely to find a full-time job; and minorities specializing in public relations were 25 percent less likely to find a full-time job. In contrast, minorities specializing in advertising were only 2 percent less likely to find a full-time job than their white counterparts.


"Overall, only 49 percent of minority graduates that specialized in print or broadcasting found a full-time job, compared to 66 percent of white graduates. These staggering job placement figures help explain the low number of minority journalists. . . ."

Williams wrote that three factors likely explain the hiring discrepancy.

"First, Nieman Reports has noted that minority students are less likely to serve on campus newspapers because they are more likely to attend colleges without the resources to support a newspaper or to feel ostracized by a mostly white newsroom.


"Second, minority students are less likely to complete unpaid internships. . . .

"Lastly, minority students often aren’t in the hiring networks that editors rely on to find job candidates. . . ."


Williams concluded, "Rather than approaching hiring with a one-size-fits-all mentality, newsrooms should try to interview a variety of candidates. If a job candidate is a solid, curious writer with drive and a good work ethic, they deserve consideration. By making this small adjustment, more minority candidates will get their foot in the door — literally — which could help address the decades-long criticism that newsrooms need more diversity."

AP Placing 1 Million Minutes of Historic Footage Online

"The Associated Press is uploading more than 550,000 video clips to YouTube — covering news events dating back to 1895 — which the news org said will be the largest collection of archival news content on the Google-owned platform to date, Todd Spangler reported Wednesday for Variety.


"AP, together with newsreel archive provider British Movietone, will deliver more than 1 million minutes of digitized film footage to YouTube. The goal: to provide high-profile, searchable repositories that let documentary filmmakers, historians and others find news footage, and to promote licensing deals for rights to use the video. . . ."

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