St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor Reflects on Lessons From Ferguson Coverage

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Koran Addo lays on the ground as he receives aid after being hit in the face with pepper spray on Dec. 31. He was covering a protest outside the St. Louis Police headquarters.
David Carson/Post-Dispatch

"Many Leaped to Conclusions Often Abetted by Social Media"

Gilbert Bailon, editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was chosen for the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award last month by the National Press Foundation for leading the newspaper through the tumultuous events in Ferguson, Mo., last year and their aftermath.

In this previously unpublished essay made available to Journal-isms, Bailon reflects on lessons learned.

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The newspaper took heat from all sides, including, as Bailon notes, "searing criticism that ranged from racist to general media hatred to threats against staffers involved in the coverage. Hackers promised to act against individuals or the newspaper." It faced competition from social media, which often proved unreliable.

In the end, traditional journalism values, an embrace of safety training and the latest newsgathering tools guided the Post-Dispatch's coverage.

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By Gilbert Bailon

Since the Aug. 9 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a local weekend crime story has transformed into a national and international event. And it has raised much broader social issues.

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Coverage by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch over the last five months has reinforced concepts and practices that we had already embraced.

But the emotional volatility of this complex story and intense national attention reaffirmed our essential role to report comprehensively with real-time and in-depth coverage. That has been driven by our local expertise and vigor.

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Solid sourcing: We have hewed to fact-based reporting, documents and data-driven enterprise stories. Some solid sources were anonymous, but most were on-the-record or contained in official documents.

Critics from opposing views criticized as "leaks" our exclusive coverage of the official Brown autopsy report, video of Officer Darren Wilson leaving the police station shortly after the shooting and interviews with Wilson's legal team, for example.

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While Brown's lawyers and others ascribed negative motives to our coverage, the documents, videos and interviews proved to be accurate. Adhering to rigorous sourcing continues to be critical.

Love/hate of social media: Many days and nights of breaking events propelled our staff even more deeply into social media reporting, video, Twitter and Vine at protests, rallies and news conferences. The urgency has energized and ingrained in our staff how we will produce and disseminate coverage going forward.

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We have a small nucleus of editors devoted to online, but now the entire staff is immersed in immediate coverage and working across platforms.

Avoid the temptation to match tweets or opaquely sourced reports from other media or the public via social media. Get it right rather than just first.

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Fade the conspirators and trolls: The shooting and its aftermath inspired a number of outright hoaxes and false conspiracies that lived on even after they were debunked.

The Internet circulated a fake photo of Michael Brown supposedly holding a gun with a wad of cash in his mouth and erroneous reports that Officer Wilson suffered a broken orbital bone in his face. That photo was taken of another man from another state, but it generated a lot false buzz on social media.

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Heat from all sides: The shooting aftermath became a public crucible far more intense than from any other recent local story and for much longer.

Social media, phone calls, story comments and letters to the editor often were impassioned. Some included searing criticism that ranged from racist to general media hatred to threats against staffers involved in the coverage. Hackers promised to act against individuals or the newspaper.

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Readers viewing a common set of facts alleged that our motives were wildly different and biased from conflicting perspectives. For example, some accused us covering up news based on a given preconceived slant. Others accused us of taking a range of sides or sensationalizing the news to sell newspapers or race-baiting to incite violence.

Within just two calls or emails, we would be called either a tool of the police or protest sympathizers based on the same headline, story position or photo. For some readers, there is no middle ground.

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News judgment, language and nuance matter: Where stories were positioned in print or online, wording and type size of headlines and photo selection were held under a heat light and often fueled invective from various sides.

Words such as "rioting" and "looting" triggered visceral reactions in some readers. Some chastised us for not using loaded words such as "mob," "angry crowd" and "thugs." Some derided terms like "peaceful protesters" or "civil rights violations."

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Visual storytelling involving photography, video, design and graphics make a dramatic impact on readers. And how readers view that decision-making can be highly polarized.

Photos, headlines, captions and copy blocks were intensely scrutinized. Those elements often defined how readers reacted to the overall coverage.

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One large Sunday page-one headline read: "Who Counts How Many People the Police Kill? NOBODY" above a well-researched story that showed how federal authorities lack a verified count of police shootings nationwide. That headline elicited retorts that the Post-Dispatch was anti-police, despite the veracity of the reporting and subsequent political efforts to establish such a system.

Continuum of coverage: Readers from opposing perspectives would make conclusions about overall coverage and a perceived bias based on one story, photo, headline or story play on one day. Memories often were faulty or selective.

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I told many readers to follow the Post-Dispatch every day and throughout the day online to absorb the full breadth of our coverage. Unfortunately, many leaped to conclusions often abetted by social media rather than view the continuum of our coverage across the months.

Embrace an editorial voice and independence: Our Opinion pages took bold stances that sought to work through the inflamed passions and anger from many angles. They have provided an informed perspective that has promulgated many potential solutions and processes to help the community mend with dialogue and action.

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Training is essential: Our newsroom training on using social media in the field, recording video with smart phones using Videolicious or Vine as well as photographers sending images directly from their cameras were keys to our online immediacy. Those skills now are ingrained across all departments and staffers.

We also conducted safety training and purchased safety equipment such as gas masks, bullet-proof vests and hard helmets for the journalists in the field. For the first time, some staffers were thrust into dangerous, unpredictable situations with heavy police presence, arrests and looting.

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Our journalists endured tear gas and police pepper spray. Others were physically assaulted and had their smart phones stolen or damaged.

We could not underscore enough that their safety was paramount or that pursuit of journalism is not worth risking their personal safety.

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Raise community voices: The Post-Dispatch serves as an important public sounding board through social media, letters to the editor, story comments and guest commentary.

The Opinion pages greatly expanded the spectrum of voices for Ferguson-related issues. Many were fresh, new local voices such as youth leaders or Ferguson residents.

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What is old is new: Tentacles of Ferguson reached every corner of the newsroom, from protests at musical concerts and sporting events to the economic impact on business and local governments.

As the national media and satellite trucks descended upon an old suburb of 21,000 people, the nation and world became acquainted with familiar local problems that the Post-Dispatch has covered for years such dysfunctional small municipalities with questionable police tactics, municipal courts that fund their operations with speed traps and excessive fines, as well as concentrated poverty, poor schools and a lack of minority political representation.

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While familiar, the pressure cooker of Ferguson elevated those issues onto a much larger stage. Our role is to provide needed context and to continue to mine those important local stories after the national media has moved onto the next big story.

Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Who Should Apologize in Police Conflict?

Errol Louis, Daily News, New York: How Bill de Blasio, Pat Lynch, the NYPD and New Yorkers at large can end the cop-citizen standoff

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Tina Nguyen, Mediaite: KY Newspaper Fires Editors After They Write Police 'Desire to Shoot Minorities'

Ruben Rosario, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.: Cops and public need to find common ground

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Ben Sheroan, News-Enterprise, Hardin County, Ky.: Apology: Error should not have happened

In Paris Killings, a Few Challenge Dominant Narrative

Condemnation of Wednesday's attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12, has been vociferous and shared worldwide, but a few commentators have challenged the dominant narrative that the killings were an attack on Western values of freedom of expression and fueled by Islamic extremists.

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"Charlie Hebdo has endured a tense history with irritable Muslims since it first published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in 2006," Azad Essa, a journalist at Al Jazeera, wrote Friday for the South African publication the Daily Vox, where he is an executive editor. "This week's attack then, replete with the requisite chants of 'God is great' and talk of avenging the Prophet's honour, was easy to understand.

"Naturally, the carefully orchestrated attack immediately became yet another example of an irreconcilable, vengeful Muslim, upset on behalf of the unseen and willing to kill for it.

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"Before long, it was depicted as an unparalleled war on the freedom of expression.

"But it is worth looking back at the facts.

" 'No group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack. The ISIL group reportedly applauded the attack, as we expect them to, but hasn't taken responsibility for it. Neither has Al Qaeda, also known to hog the limelight, made any claim for the crime.

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"Two men murdered 12 people in an attack on the magazine's office; why then has it been labelled a terror attack and not a heinous, brutal murder by two idiots?

"Is it because some Muslims have burnt flags, marched to embassies and descended to the streets en masse each time there has been a cartoon or movie or satire that has offended them? Possibly. But how does this incident naturally transform from an act of two individuals into massive war against European values and, more specifically, freedom of expression?

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"Moreover, how did it escalate into a larger discourse of 'us' versus 'them'; how did an entire religion get placed onto the stand for a public whipping, when it is ultimately just these two men who must be arrested and punished if found guilty? . . ."

Essa added this update later Friday: "A source at Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsular (AQAP), operating in Yemen, told The Intercept late on Friday that the suspects were working under an AQAP's directive to conduct the operation."

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On "The Diane Rehm Show" (audio) on Thursday, originating at Washington's WAMU-FM and carried by NPR, C. Christine Fair, who teaches at Georgetown University and is a senior fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, noted that Denmark prescribes a punishment for offending a religion, Germany banned a production ridiculing the Catholic doctrine of immaculate conception and criminalizes denying the Holocaust, and Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Poland have blasphemy statutes.

On the other hand, France prohibits wearing the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face. The prohibition was criticized as targeting Muslims.

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Writing for the Huffington Post, Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, said, "the media has refused to even consider what it would mean to a French Muslim, living among Muslims who are economically marginalized and portrayed as nothing but terrorists, their religious garb banned in public, their religion demeaned, to encounter a humor magazine that ridiculed the one thing that gives them some sense of community and higher purpose, namely Mohammed and the religion he founded. . . ." He listed other examples that also dispute the narrative.

Essa maintained, "To suggest that this is about irreconcilable values, an attack against the freedom of speech and expression is a farce. It is also a corpulent, untruthful summation of European values, which are liberal only when it benefits those in power."

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On Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" on Friday, Gilbert Achcar, professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, said, "this appalling killing in Paris comes, you know, after — I mean, beneath, I mean, on the list, the Islamophobic mass killing by the Norwegian, [Anders] Breivik . . . and the massacre perpetrated by also ultra-Zionist killer Baruch Goldstein in Hebron in 1994, which made something like 29 or more people killed.

"Again, these are, I mean, appalling acts of what I described some years ago as a clash of barbarisms, because that’s what we are getting — the barbarism of the strong, of course, being the primary responsible in this awful dynamics. And it leads — it leads, you know, to a counterbarbarism on the side of those who see themselves as the downtrodden, the oppressed. . . ."

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On the same program, renowned cartoonist Art Spiegelman, who has drawn for the New Yorker, among other outlets, mentioned the outpouring of cartoons in response to the killings.

"The quality of the cartoons wasn’t so bad, what I was seeing," he said, "although a lot of them moved toward the polite very quickly. In other words, the symbol for it was a picture of a pencil or a pen, and it [was] up against a Kalashnikov. OK, it's fine, but pencils are a lot safer to draw than caricatures of chauvinistic Frenchmen or caricatures of the banlieue population. And so, the immediate place to move there was euphemism rather than the assault that was built into Charlie Hebdo's DNA. . . . "

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Meanwhile, media outlets wrestled with whether to show Charlie Hebdo's offending cartoons, which have been described as equal-opportunity offenders that push provocation to the limits.

"In Thursday's print edition, the Washington Post op-ed page is publishing the controversial cartoon of Charlie Hebdo magazine spoofing the prophet Muhammad — the very piece of satire that prompted the 2011 fire-bombing of the publication’s Paris offices," Erik Wemple reported for the Post. "(See a PDF of the full page here.) The cartoon depicted Muhammad saying, '100 lashes of the whip if you don't die laughing. . . .' "

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The New York Times decided against showing the cartoons. Executive Editor Dean Baquet initially decided to publish them, public editor Margaret Sullivan reported. "Ultimately, he decided against it, he said, because he had to consider foremost the sensibilities of Times readers, especially its Muslim readers," Sullivan wrote. "To many of them, he said, depictions of the prophet Muhammad are sacrilegious; those that are meant to mock even more so. 'We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire. Most of these are gratuitous insult.' . . ."

There was a Facebook exchange Friday between Baquet and Marc Cooper, an USC Annenberg journalism associate professor, in which Baquet spoke bluntly.

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Meanwhile, "France's terrorist trauma ended on Friday, at least for the moment, as it had begun: with bursts of gunfire and blood," Andrew Higgins and Dan Bilefsky reported for the Times.

"With nearly simultaneous raids north and east of Paris, heavily armed police units finally halted an Islamist militant rampage that had started Wednesday with a massacre at a satirical newspaper, continued Thursday with a roadside killing and, in a final spree of violence on Friday, left shoppers at a kosher supermarket captive to a gunman who had lined the premises with explosives.

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"The militants suspected of orchestrating France's worst spasm of terrorism since the 1954-62 Algerian War — two brothers of Algerian descent and an associate of African origins — were killed. Also dead were four of the people held hostage at Hyper Cacher, the kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.

"Altogether, 20 people, including the three militants, died in three days of bloodshed that President François Hollande, in a solemn address to the nation Friday evening, described as the work of 'madmen, fanatics' who had created 'a tragedy for the nation that we were obliged to confront.' . . ."

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allAfrica.com: Africa Reacts to Killings of French Cartoonists

Tim Baysinger, Broadcasting & Cable: Twin Hostage Crisis in France Dominates U.S. News Coverage

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Angeline Benoit, Bloomberg: Algerian Offers to Buy Charlie Hebdo to Defend Freedom

Fran Blandy, Agence France-Presse: 'I saw horror' says survivor of Paris magazine massacre

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Roy Peter Clark, Poynter Institute: Satire's conflicting kinship with journalism

Eric Deggans, NPR: Why I Asked Tina Fey About 'Charlie Hebdo' At The TV Critics Press Tour

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Jessica Durando, USA Today: Don Lemon asks Muslim human rights lawyer, 'Do you support ISIS?'

Editorial, the Guardian, Britain: The Guardian view on Charlie Hebdo: show solidarity, but in your own voice

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Paul Farhi, Washington Post: Charlie Hebdo killings highlight the increasing targeting of journalists

Emsie Ferreira, South African Press Association: South Africa: Condemn Paris Media Massacre - Zapiro

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Emil Guillermo, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Asian Americans are Charlie Hebdo

Sousan Hammad, Al Jazeera: The Islam I know: The horrors in Paris are both familiar and alien

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David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times: A Reporter Treads Carefully When Writing About Religion and Violence

Andrew Kirell, Mediaite: Eugene Robinson to MSNBC: If Paris Happened in U.S., We’d Expect More Carnage Because of Guns

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Andrew Kirell, Mediaite: Lawrence O’Donnell and Alan Dershowitz Explode over Whether 'France Reaped What They Sowed'

Olivia Kittel, Media Matters for America: Right-Wing Media's History Of Exploiting Tragedy

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Rabbi Michael Lerner, Huffington Post: Mourning the Parisian Journalists Yet Noticing the Hypocrisy

Jean-Paul Marthoz, Committee to Protect Journalists: Charlie Hebdo attack unites France on free expression, but will solidarity hold?

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Christopher Massie, Columbia Journalism Review: The missing Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Charlie Hebdo massacre reminds America of the high cost of freedom

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Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Grief would pale for U.S. media attack

Erin Polgreen, Talking Points Memo: Hey, Media: Instead Of Lionizing Charlie Hebdo, Support The Artists You're Exploiting
Reporters Without Borders: RWB appeals to media outlets to publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons

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Reporters Without Borders: "Blasphemy" concerns must not limit freedom of information

Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Charlie Hebdo victims were martyrs, but no saints

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Lene Bech Sillesen, Columbia Journalism Review: Why a Danish newspaper won't publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Jen Sorensen and Andy Dubbin, Fusion: 12 great cartoon responses to the Charlie Hebdo killings

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Matt Wilstein, Mediaite: Anderson Cooper Corrects Cuomo's Description of French Terrorist as 'African-American'

News Outlets Called Out for Ignoring NAACP Bombing

The NAACP chapter in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is located on South El Paso Street in a one-story building with faded redwood siding, where it shares space with Mr. G's Hair Design Studio," Matthew Pratt Guterl reported Thursday for the New Republic.

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"The surrounding streets are lined with modest, largely single-story homes. The men and women who work here — not just in the NAACP building, but also in the neighborhood — have been very busy lately, organizing local vigils and sending out e-mail blasts in response to the events in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York.

"Late Tuesday morning, an improvised bomb exploded outside the building. No one was hurt or injured, though three people were working inside in Mr. G's salon and two staffers were in the NAACP office. The explosion scarred the outside of the building, and knocked a few things off some shelves inside. The FBI has indicated that the bombing could well be motivated by hate, but that other motives are possible, too. Amy Saunders, a spokesperson for the Denver office of the FBI, told The Los Angeles Times that it wasn't yet clear 'if the motive was a hate crime, domestic terrorism, a personal act of violence against a specific individual,' or something else entirely.

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"The FBI is looking for a balding white man in his 40s who may be driving an old, dirty pickup truck. News organizations initially refused to identify the man's race as 'white,' though, despite having that fact in hand — a refusal that extends one of the [principal] benefits of white privilege to someone suspected of domestic terrorism. The New York Times, cribbing an Associated Press story but eliding the question of race, indicated that authorities were searching for 'a man.'

"At least they covered the story, though. Many news outlets simply ignored it all together. And then, in what has become a ritual, outlets were called out on Twitter and Facebook for ignoring the bombing. 'PLEASE,' actress Rashida Jones tweeted, 'everybody, mainly national news outlets, CARE MORE ABOUT THIS.' If not for this grassroots #NAACPBombing campaign, we might not even be talking about this today. . . ."

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Bloomberg: With the NAACP Bombing, the Media-Coverage Gap Went Viral

Kimberly Cooper, HuffPost BlackVoices: Media Coverage Lags as FBI Searches for Suspect in NAACP Office Bombing

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Ronan Farrow and Trymaine Lee, MSNBC: #NAACPbombing Goes Viral (video)

Shardae Jobson, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Should The Media Be Ashamed For How We Covered The #NAACPBombing?

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Eric Krupke, PBS NewsHour: Twitter users concerned NAACP bombing deserved more media coverage

Jesse Paul, Denver Post: Colorado Springs NAACP bombing: Sketch released of person of interest

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13 Mexican Police Held in Journalist's Disappearance

"Mexican authorities held 13 police officers for investigation Thursday in the disappearance of kidnapped journalist Moises Sanchez and awaited the results of DNA tests on a body found in the area to determine if it is him," the Associated Press reported.

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"Those detained represent about a third of the police force of Medellin de Bravo in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz. All 38 of the municipality's officers were brought in to give statements earlier this week.

"Prosecutor Luis Angel Bravo said late Wednesday that the 13 can be held for up to 30 days while the investigation is carried out.

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"Also Thursday, state officials confirmed that the Mexican attorney general's special unit to investigate crimes against journalists had begun its own investigation as requested by Sanchez's family and the country's human rights commission. . . ."

Gumbel: Too Much Sports Coverage Is "Terribly Sycophantic"

"Bryant Gumbel took aim at sports journalism in general during a panel for HBO's 'Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel' at the Television Critics Association on Thursday, slamming much of sports coverage as 'terribly sycophantic,' " Tim Kenneally reported for TheWrap.

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" 'You know, there's so little of it practiced unfortunately, it seems to me,' Gumbel replied when asked about how sports journalism has changed over the years. 'So much of what passes for sports coverage, in my opinion, is terribly sycophantic. We tend to not ask the same difficult questions of people in sports that we do of politicians or business people or even people in the entertainment industry.'

"As a result, Gumbel opined, 'We have some abuses that go unreported and unaddressed.'

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" 'The state of modern journalism wasn’t the only topic on which Gumbel expressed strong opinions during the get-together with reporters. The 'Real Sports' host also went on, at length, about the lack of financial compensation for NCAA athletes, which he called 'shameful' and 'embarrassing.'

" 'There is no other arena that you can name in which people are asked to do so much and get so little,' Gumbel reflected. 'We're coming off a weekend where we had the two highest-rated cable shows of the year with the NCAA playoff games … the schools made a ton of money. The networks made a ton of money. The sponsors made a ton of money. Oh, by the way, the kids? They get nothing.' . . ."

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. . . Mueller Report Says NFL Had Not Seen Elevator Video

"A report released today by former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III finds 'no evidence' that anyone at the NFL 'received or viewed' footage from the inside of the elevator in which former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulted then-fiancee Janay Palmer at an Atlantic City hotel in February 2014 after a Valentine's night out," Erik Wemple reported Thursday for the Washington Post. "Those findings issue something of a challenge to the Associated Press (AP), which issued a story in September with this headline: 'Source says Rice video sent to NFL.'

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"Per that piece, by reporter Rob Maaddi, an unnamed law enforcement official says that he sent the video to the NFL and received a confirmation of sorts: 'The person played The Associated Press a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresses thanks and says: "You're right. It's terrible." '

"The scoop was massive in light of the timeline of the Rice story. On February 19, TMZ released video of Rice dragging Palmer from the elevator into the lobby of the hotel — known as the 'outside-the-elevator' video. Months later, the NFL suspended Rice for two regular season games and imposed a fine of about $58,000, according to the report. The NFL sustained a great deal of criticism for the lenient punishment. And even more after TMZ released the in-elevator video, which showed in a graphic manner the blow that landed Palmer on the floor of the elevator. . . ."

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Short Takes

Intel's diversity goal "to reach full representation at all levels of our company's workforce by 2020," might not be as bold as it first appeared, Jena McGregor reported Thursday for the Washington Post. "The company's press release said, 'full representation means Intel's U.S. workforce will be more representative of the talent available in America.' When asked to further explain that, the company provided the Post with this translation: Intel's goal is to reflect the number of women and minorities who have the skills to take on jobs at Intel. Now, that's quite a different goal. . . ."

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The Sports Journalism Institute, which says it has added "roughly 275 women and minorities to the staffs of the nation's sports media" in its 23 years, has selected three women and eight men for its class of 2015. They are to attend a boot camp May 29-June 5 at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, then move on to internships. They are to be placed at newspaper members of the Associated Press Sports Editors, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and MLB.com.

"The group of Native Americans fighting the Washington Redskins over the team’s trademark protections in a federal lawsuit got an important boost Friday after the Justice Department declared it would intervene and defend a key aspect of the twisted legal case," Ian Shapira reported Friday for the Washington Post. "Dana J. Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced that the Justice Department would defend the constitutionality of a key provision of the Lanham Act, which bars trademarks that may disparage or bring people into 'contempt or disrepute.' . . ."

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"Viola Davis won a People's Choice Award last night for favorite actress in a new TV series for her role on How to Get Away With Murder," Margaret Lyons reported Thursday for vulture.com. "In her acceptance speech, Davis thanked fans of the show and talked about how proud she is to be an actress; plus, she got in a pretty sweet, subtle dig at that infamous New York Times article from September. 'Thank you, Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, and Peter Nowalk for thinking of a leading lady who looks like my classic beauty,' Davis said, responding to Alessandra Stanley's assertion that she's 'less classically beautiful' than Kerry Washington or Halle Berry. . . ."

"’AAJA's governing board voted to approve Neal Justin as AAJA's representative to the UNITY Board, replacing Doris Truong," Paul Cheung, president of the Asian American Journalists Association, announced on Friday. In addition, "Janet Cho, AAJA's UNITY Board Representative since 2011, has resigned from the board." Justin, media critic for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, previously served two years on the board of the coalition now known as Unity: Journalists for Diversity. [Cho told Journal-isms by email Saturday, "Dec. 31 was the end of my second, two-year term on the Unity board. The bylaws say board members can serve for up to three consecutive terms, but Paul recently changed the bylaws to say incoming alliance presidents could appoint their own Unity reps. Rather than wait for him to force me off, I left on my own."] [Updated Jan. 10]

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"Dr. Ben Carson's publisher will be revising future editions of his book 'America the Beautiful' in response to allegations that the conservative activist failed to properly credit source material," the Associated Press reported Thursday. " 'I attempted to appropriately cite and acknowledge all sources in "America the Beautiful," but inadvertently missed some,' Carson said in a statement issued Thursday through his literary agent, Sealy Yates. 'I apologize, and I am working with my editors to rectify the situation.' . . ."

"It was no hyperbole when the blog post announcing Terrell Brown's hiring last spring called him WLS-Channel 7’s 'anchor of the future,' " Robert Feder reported Thursday on his Chicago media blog. "Just nine months after signing on at the ABC-owned station as a reporter, the 27-year-old newcomer is about to become anchor of Chicago's top-rated morning newscast. Starting Monday, he'll join co-anchor Judy Hsu, meteorologist Tracy Butler and traffic reporter Roz Varon on ABC 7 Eyewitness News This Morning from 4:30 to 7 a.m. weekdays. . . ."

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"The Philadelphia City Paper and one of its senior staff writers have joined in a federal lawsuit against Philadelphia's district attorney and the state's attorney general over a controversial new law that greatly limits the free speech rights of criminal offenders," Trymaine Lee reported Thursday for MSNBC. Lee also wrote, "The Revictimization Relief Act was passed by a large majority in the state legislature and hinged almost entirely on silencing one man in particular: Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1981 in the shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. . . ."

"Four people were laid off and two others took voluntary buyouts at New York's El Diario La Prensa, following a December company memo indicating the need 'to continue restructuring to reduce expenses and create sustainable businesses,' ” Veronica Villafañe reported Wednesday for her Media Moves site.

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In a profile of Shani Hilton, who runs the day-to-day operations of BuzzFeed News, "Hilton reiterated that [BuzzFeed] is doing just 'OK' on diversity hiring," Jeremy Barr reported Thursday for capitalnewyork.com, adding that BuzzFeed Editor Ben Smith published a demographic breakdown in early October showing that BuzzFeed's U.S. staff is nearly 75 percent white. "This is the time where you either get your ratios right or you really completely screw yourself," Hilton said of BuzzFeed's recent growth spurt.

As part of its "Newsroom to Classroom" series, PBS MediaShift published a piece Tuesday by Robert Hernandez, associate professor of professional practice at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and a "journalist of the Web, not just on the Web." Hernandez wrote, "When I look back at my career in the newsroom, there is one lesson that is burned into everything that I do: Don't wait. Go rogue. But go rogue respectfully. This has been woven into all my work and is clearly part of my classroom philosophy. . . ."

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"The Chinese government has imprisoned the three brothers of a Washington-based reporter for Radio Free Asia, apparently intensifying its suppression of free speech and coverage of the troubled province of Xinjiang," Simon Denyer reported Thursday for the Washington Post. "Ethnic Uighur journalist Shohret Hoshur left China in 1994, after he ran into trouble with the authorities for his reporting. He has since become a U.S. citizen and a mainstay of Radio Free Asia's coverage of Xinjiang, offering one of the only independent sources of information about events in the province. . . ."


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