"Sweetie Pie's" Reality Show Is Network's Most Highly Rated

"Executives at OWN think they may have found a way to salvage Oprah Winfrey's struggling network: by catering more to an African-American audience. That may help ratings, but it would mean a dramatic shift, and one that could put the channel at odds with Winfrey's own brand," D.M. Levine wrote Thursday for Adweek.

"According to OWN president Erik Logan and Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, the silver lining in an otherwise bleak performance record for the network since its launch last January is that it's performing particularly well among its African-American audience members — especially with a reality show called 'Welcome to Sweetie Pies' that premiered in October.

" 'Anytime you have a program that pops like 'Sweetie Pies' did, you start looking at what drove it,' Logan told Adweek. 'And we saw that the African-American audience really had a connection with that show. . . . We're going to look at ways to nurture and grow that.'

"Since 'Welcome to Sweetie Pies' premiered, OWN has enjoyed an average prime-time viewership of around 216,000 people. 'Sweetie Pies' has seen an average audience of around 418,000, making it the highest rated show on the network by far in that period."


The show's website offers this introduction: "When Robbie Montgomery, a 1960's backup singer and former 'Ikette' of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, suffered a collapsed lung and had to stop singing, she decided to pour her talents into another creative venture — a soul food restaurant called Sweetie Pie's. At her family-oriented eatery, which she runs with her son, Tim, both hilarity and drama are offered in equal measure."

Katherine Fung, Huffington Post: Oprah To Dr. Oz: 'Running A Network Is Challenging'


T.J. Holmes Foresees "Huge Role" in News Coverage at BET

In an interview with Akoto Ofori-Atta of theRoot.com, CNN weekend anchor T.J. Holmes said Thursday that BET "brought me on because of my news background and for my news chops" and that he hopes to play "a huge role" in presenting "news coverage about things that matter" to the black community.


BET announced on Wednesday that it has hired Holmes and was developing projects for him. The announcement did not come from BET's news division, and Holmes' role was still being decided, the network said. Stephen G. Hill, president of music programming and specials at BET Networks, said in the release, "It's now upon us to develop vehicles that capture his intelligence, curiosity about the world, warmth, humor and compassion. It's a challenge that we are happy to have."

Ofori-Atta asked Holmes, "What would you say to people who are wondering why you're leaving an established news channel for BET, which is not known most for its news programming?"


Holmes replied, "I would say wait until 2012. You have to start somewhere. BET certainly has a foundation in news programming and information programming. I think [beefing up its news programming] was a big part of BET wanting me to come on board, and a big part of me wanting to come on board. BET is saying, 'Here is what we're trying to do, and we're taking it so seriously that we went to go get this guy with this [news] background.'

"I could have stayed at CNN. I had the opportunity to do so. This wasn't about me looking for a job. I chose BET for a reason, for the opportunity that I did not have at CNN just because [they have] a different type of audience. I don't know when this opportunity would come along again, so I couldn't pass it up." 


Kunbi Tinuoye, theGrio.com: Can TJ Holmes beef up BET's news coverage?

Cosmo Aims "Cosmopolitan Latina" at Bilingual Women

"With the Census Bureau counting nearly 25 million Latin women in the United States, marketers and media companies have started getting excited about the potential to reach them," Tanzina Vega reported Thursday for the New York Times.


"Among the most recent initiatives is a new publication, Cosmopolitan Latina, that will start publishing in May and will be aimed at American-born Latin women who are bicultural and bilingual.

". . . Hearst, which owns Cosmopolitan, plans to start with one issue in the spring and one in the fall, and at first, it will publish 545,000 copies that will be made available in states like Texas, California, Florida and New York, which have large Latino populations.


"Latin women represent a 'core Cosmo brand,' accounting for one in every four subscribers," said Donna Kalajian Lagani, senior vice president, publishing director and chief revenue officer at Cosmopolitan. "The core subscriber base for the print edition of Cosmopolitan is 1.45 million in the United States."

News release: Cosmopolitan Magazine Announces Strategy to Reach Hispanic Market

Number of Imprisoned Journalists Highest Since Mid-1990s

"The number of journalists imprisoned worldwide shot up more than 20 percent to its highest level since the mid-1990s, an increase driven largely by widespread jailings across the Middle East and North Africa, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found," the committee said Thursday. "In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, CPJ identified 179 writers, editors, and photojournalists behind bars on December 1, an increase of 34 over its 2010 tally.


"Iran was the world's worst jailer, with 42 journalists behind bars, as authorities kept up a campaign of anti-press intimidation that began after the country's disputed presidential election more than two years ago. Eritrea, China, Burma, Vietnam, Syria, and Turkey also ranked among the world's worst."

Steve Kroft Interviews Obama Again for "60 Minutes"

President Obama believes the U.S. unemployment rate could drop to 8 percent before the 2012 elections next fall, he told Steve Kroft in an interview conducted Friday at the White House, CBS said.


Obama will appear on "60 Minutes" in an interview with Kroft to be broadcast Sunday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time, CBS said.

Kroft interviewed the president Tuesday in Kansas after he delivered an economic speech in the small town of Osawatomie, and again Friday the White House.


Kroft asked the president, "Did you overpromise? Did you underestimate how difficult this was going to be?"

Obama replied, "I didn't overpromise. And I didn't — underestimate how tough this was going to be. I always believed that this was a long-term project…And —you know, for individual Americans, who are struggling right now, they have every reason to be impatient. Reversing structural problems in our economy that have been building up for two decades, that was going to take time. It was going to take more than a year. It was going to take more than two years. It was going to take more than one term. Probably takes more than one president."


According to Peter Ogburn of FishbowlDC, "This is Obama's 12th interview with Kroft, including the times he sat down with him as candidate Obama. We confirmed with Mark Knoller via twitter that this was Obama's sixth interview with Kroft since being elected President."

Knoller, a CBS News radio reporter who covers the White House, maintains a database of statistics about the president's daily life.


Cain Says "Doors Are Open" to Radio and TV

"With the news that former GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain is no longer in the race, the door is open for the next logical step in the political machine: TV news analyst," Alex Weprin reported Friday for TVNewser. "Cain appeared on Sean Hannity's Fox News program last night, and acknowledged that a TV or radio gig could very well be in his future:

" 'I have no doubt that there is a TV, radio future if you wanted one,' Hannity told Cain.


" 'Well obviously the doors to radio or TV, those doors are open,' Cain replied. 'What I am doing over the next several days is considering all of these options.' ” 

Geraldo Rivera, Fox News Latino: Newt Gingrich on Poverty — Bold but Dopey  

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Republicans' reality TV politics

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: For Gingrich, Age May Just Be a Number 


Barry Sussman, Nieman Watchdog: Why not make a Fox question standard in all news polls?   

Jack White, theRoot.com: Why Newt Gingrich Is Beyond Satire  

Gary Younge, the Nation: What's Race Got to Do With Herman Cain?

Reporter Grills Team CEO Using Fake Transcript

In Orlando, "When WFTV general assignment reporter Daralene Jones arrived at a news conference held by the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, she presumably thought she was armed with some damaging information: a transcript of a late night phone conversation between the team's CEO, who had been drinking at the time, and star player Dwight Howard," Andrew Gauthier wrote Thursday for TVSpy.


"The only problem was that the transcript was actually a complete fabrication, concocted by a writer at Deadspin.

"When it came time for reporters to ask questions at the news conference, which was called to announce the resignation of the team's CEO Bob Vander Weide, Jones pressed him on allegations that he had recently drunk dialed Howard."


Blacks More Sympathetic Than Whites on Immigration

"Nearly half of the public (48%) thinks an illegal immigrant who went to high school in their state and is accepted to a public college should be eligible for the in-state tuition rate, while 46% disagree," according to a report [PDF] released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.


"About three-quarters of Hispanics (77%) say illegal immigrants should be eligible for in-state tuition, compared with 66% of non-Hispanic blacks and just 40% of non-Hispanic whites.

". . . Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, fully 82% of Hispanics think an illegal immigrant should be eligible for in-state tuition. Smaller majorities of non-Hispanic blacks (65%) and whites (51%) agree."


Overall, "The public continues to support tough measures to crack down on illegal immigration, but also a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally. A plurality (43%) says the priority should be better border security and enforcement, as well as creating a way for illegal immigrants to become citizens if they meet certain requirements.

"Fewer say the priority should only be better security and stronger enforcement of immigration laws (29%), or only creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. (24%). These opinions have not changed substantially over the past year."


Short Takes

 **"In a major shift in digital strategy, CEO Gracia Martore told Wall Street stock analysts today that Gannett plans to extend a paywall across more newspapers early next year, giving readers only limited free access to content," Jim Hopkins wrote Wednesday on his independent Gannett Blog. "She didn't provide key details, such as pricing or revenue projections, and didn't directly say whether the plan would be companywide."


**In California, "Journalist Mona Shadia, who was born in Egypt, has been assigned to write a weekly column about living as a Muslim-American in Orange County for the three Times Community News papers: the Daily and Coastline Pilots and the Huntington Beach Independent," Kevin Roderick reported for LAObserved.

**"The Student Press Law Center and the leading media-law firm Holland & Knight LLP are offering student journalists free legal assistance around-the-clock if they are jailed while covering 'Occupy' demonstrations," the center announced on Thursday.


**Services for Ofield Dukes, the veteran public relations counselor who died Wednesday, will be held in Detroit and in Washington, the Steering Committee for the Funeral and Memorial Service for Ofield Dukes announced on Friday. The funeral service is scheduled Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, 2080 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit 48208, with viewing Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Northwest Chapel of James H. Cole Funeral Home, 16100 Schaefer Highway, Detroit 48235. A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Jan. 11 at Shiloh Baptist Church, 1500 Ninth St. NW. in Washington. 

 **Adrian Florido, neighborhood reporter for the Voice of San Diego website and a Mexican-American, was one of three journalists laid off at the site, Florido, 25, told Journal-isms on Friday. Florido arrived at the news outlet 2½ years ago after attending the University of Chicago. He said he had planned to visit Mexico, but now is "looking forward to spending more time" there. "CEO Scott Lewis and Editor Andrew Donohue write in a blog post that they lowered their budget from $1.2 million this year to $1 million next year, which forced them to lay off four people," Steve Myers wrote for the Poynter Institute.


**"I recently added D.C.'s two FM hip-hop radio stations — WPGC and WKYS — to the list of items banned in my house. I've long been tired of having to explain the latest raunchy R&B and hip-hop lyrics to my kids, and when I heard the radio ad for The Stadium (yeah, that strip club) for the umpteenth time, I realized that black radio is beyond redemption," Natalie Hopkinson wrote Thursday for the Washington Post's theRootDC.

**"Nely Galan's résumé is certainly impressive," HuffPost LatinoVoices wrote. "The former president of the Telemundo network, the second largest Hispanic TV network in the U.S., has had a distinguished career in television media, in Spanish and English, in the U.S. and Latin America. In this excerpt from a recent episode of LaFusion, the Latina super producer and media mogul talks about her work, family, and how being fired by Donald Trump on the hit show 'Celebrity Apprentice' catapulted her career to the next level. She says she has both, 'The Donald' and Gene Simmons, to thank."


**"Rolling Stone magazine made its South African debut with hard-living jazz legend Hugh Masekela on the cover," Bambina Wise Olivares wrote Tuesday for the Women's Wear Daily site. "Weighing in at just over a pound, the magazine hit the newsstands a day after a controversial secrecy act was passed by Parliament. According to the magazine's letter from the editor, its intention is 'to engage local audiences with stories that resonate in their own experiences and lives.' "

**CNN's Cari Hernandez becomes executive producer of special projects and investigations at WFOR-TV in Miami, Liz Roldan, WFOR news director, announced to the staff on Thursday. "Cari will be heading home to Miami & back to CBS4 where she worked as a producer from 1999-2003," Roldan wrote. "Cari comes to us from CNN where she has been an Executive Producer since 2008. While at CNN she produced two half-hour specials, and most recently helped launch AM Wake-Up Call."


**"Krishna Bharat, a Distinguished Research Scientist at Google and founder of Google News, has joined the board of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University," the fellowship program announced.

**A day after Philadelphia prosecutors announced Mumia Abu-Jamal would no longer be held on death row, writer dream hampton reported on observations by Abu-Jamal that arrived from him a week before the announcement. "I'm frankly quite impressed with Occupy Wall Street, for it did in three months more than the movement of the '60s did in seven years," Abu-Jamal said. "The growth and sheer span of their work can only be termed impressive. Over 100 cities? Damn. I think it's too white, and too college-centric, but at least they're doing something. For that, if nothing else, they are to be lauded. As for Afros and Latinos and Afro Latinos, I think it's our job to enter those movements, and give '‘em input., issues and support."


**In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the group Journaliste En Danger reported Thursday, "Radio Lisanga Télévision (RLTV), the Kinshasa-based main opposition television station, which has been the subject of numerous attacks by authorities during the recent electoral campaign, has once again been silenced by authorities. . . .  According to JED sources, RLTV's station in Mbuji-Mayi was besieged by a heavily-armed police unit on 5 December and remained occupied as of 8 December. Everyone in the building at the time was evacuated while police forces assumed control of the premises, barring entry to all journalists."

Follow Richard Prince on Twitter.

Facebook users: "Like" "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" on Facebook.

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