Technology Is Building a Future Without People of Color in Mind

  • Time to Recast World of Decision-Making Machines
  • Attention to Diversity: One Remedy for Lack of Trust
  • NRA Drops Race Card in Mass-Shooting Debate
  • Writer Felt Like ‘That Red-Lipped Lawn Jockey’
  • Polk Awards Flag Corruption, Immigrant Abuse
  • Kent State to Honor Bhatia, Shelton for Diversity
  • Roy Hobbs, Anchor Who Battled Demons, Dies at 64
  • NABJ to Take Facebook Scholarship Money After All
  • Journalists to Help Send 900 to ‘Black Panther’
  • Ancestor’s Choice: Leave Family or Return to Slavery
  • Kerner Commission Observances Ramp Up
  • Short Takes


Futurist Amy Webb tells the Knight Media Forum, “We’re talking about machines making decisions for us. . . . I think we all ought to stop and think this through.” (video)

Time to Recast World of Decision-Making Machines

First, the futurist Amy Webb told the audience of journalists, librarians and foundation managers that they could easily be duped by the ever-growing purveyors of artificial intelligence.


Images of their faces could be affixed to others’ bodies, their voices to impostors. Media people have acknowledged to pollsters that they are so focused on the present that they don’t pay close attention to what might be in store for them in five, 10 or 20 years.

Later in her talk Wednesday before the Knight Media Forum in Miami, Webb told people of color that they weren’t thought about when the creators of self-driving cars, GPS navigators, robotics and other such technologies were being developed.


My question is, what does all this mean for communities of color?(video) asked Sara Lomax-Reese, president and CEO of black talk-formatted WURD radio in Philadelphia. She was one of about 500 at the sold-out conference sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“It’s not good,” replied Webb.

“Any person of color who’s ever felt invisible, you’re totally invisible to the networks. Right?” said the author of the 2016 book “The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream: Forecast and Take Action on Tomorrow’s Trends, Today.”


“I could spend an entire day showing you examples of all kinds of places in which machine-learning algorithms don’t recognize darker faces, where if you . . . are a non-Native English speaker, it’s difficult for you to be understood.

“One of the primary data sets that was used to train a lot of the voice recognition systems came from Philadelphia from the 1990s; there was a series of I think 700 recoded phone calls. If you think of some of these systems as sort of layered, and each new set of experiments and tools builds on what came before, some of the foundations of some of our modern spoken interfaces come from Philadelphia, but it didn’t come from people — it came from like, white people in Philly. . . . “


Martin G. Reynolds, co-executive director of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, followed up. “All this work around having a greater pipeline so that there’s more diversity in news organizations so that the work that is done better reflects society. How does this come into play in this new world you’re speaking of?” he asked.

“So the answer that I’m going to give to you is the same answer that I’m going to give to you,” Webb said, looking at Lomax-Reese, “about diversification in technology. We all have to decide that it’s OK for things to be different going forward, and if part of how we got to now is the — . . .I’m not going to apologize for saying it — old white boys club . . . we’re talking about machines making decisions for us. I don’t know if I want such a small group of people making decisions for us all. . . . I think we all ought to stop and think this through.


“If we’ve all decided that we’re heading in a direction that we’re uncomfortable with, then there are some easy changes to make. Hire more, create a situation . . . where a person of color can become an executive. Anybody know off the top of their head how many female editors-in-chief of newspapers we currently have? No. Any idea of how many male . . . how many black . . . or Asian or Hispanic editors in chief? . . .

“We can turn on the diversity tap, we just have to decide that we want to do that, and create the mechanisms for people to actually move up the ladder. But that’s a decision we’ve got to get comfortable with. . . . We’ve got to get more comfortable being around people with different ideas. If we don’t get comfortable with that, we end up in these catastrophic places, and I don’t want to live in that world.”


Outside of the news business, some have recognized the danger that lack of diversity can cause in our brave new world of artificial intelligence.

Data for Black Lives is a group of activists, organizers, and mathematicians committed to the mission of using data science to create concrete and measurable change in the lives of Black people,” begins one group’s statement of principles.


“Since the advent of computing, big data and algorithms have penetrated virtually every aspect of our social and economic lives. These new data systems have tremendous potential to empower communities of color. Tools like statistical modeling, data visualization, and crowd-sourcing, in the right hands, are powerful instruments for fighting bias, building progressive movements, and promoting civic engagement.

“But history tells a different story, one in which data is too often wielded as an instrument of oppression, reinforcing inequality and perpetuating injustice. Redlining was a data-driven enterprise that resulted in the systematic exclusion of Black communities from key financial services. More recent trends like predictive policing, risk-based sentencing, and predatory lending are troubling variations on the same theme. Today, discrimination is a high-tech enterprise.


“Data for Black Lives seeks to mobilize scientists around racial justice issues. . . .”

Alberto Ibarguen, president and CEO of the Knight Foundation, tells the Knight Media Forum 2018, “I believe the drop in local news is directly related to the drop in trust. When we don’t have a neutral middle, the void is filled with opinion. Opinion, however well-intentioned, is not fact and it is not whole. One day’s news does not make a full story but a year’s worth of reliable, verified news can give you a community you can trust.”
Photo: Angel Valentin/Knight Foundation

Attention to Diversity: One Remedy for Lack of Trust

In the United States alone, foundations spent $140 million to support journalism in 2015, according to Media Impact Funders, a Philadelphia-based organization that tracks such things.


Globally, the figure was $153.5 million. The providers of those funds are increasingly worried that the institutions they are supporting aren’t trusted.

Could more attention to diversity help close that gap? Some at this week’s Knight Media Forum were saying yes.


Alberto Ibarguen, president of the Knight Foundation, said Tuesday in his opening remarks, “As local and regional news has weakened, trust has declined. Based on a Knight Foundation survey of 20,000 respondents:

“45% see a great deal of bias in media coverage today, compared to 25% in 1989

“66% say media doesn’t do a good job separating fact from opinion, compared to 58% who thought the media DID do a good job of that in 1984


“Less than half of Americans can name an objective news source

“And yet 84% see the media as key to our democracy

Paul Waters
Photo: George Dalton Tolbert IV

“I believe people are saying, ‘News and information are important, but we don’t think you are doing it well.’ This is a place where I believe foundations of all sizes can make a difference. . . .”

At one of the breakout sessions, “Community-Focused Journalism: Inspiration and How-to for Funders,” Paul Waters of the Democracy Fund and Molly de Agular of the News Integrity Initiative outlined the role foundations can play in shaping community conversations and how funders can influence news operations. No. 4 on Waters’ list was “Demand More Diversity.”


Martina Guzman, a Detroit-based freelancer, urged more support for freelancers who want to cover their communities in ways that newsroom staffers are not permitted. The $200 that a public radio network might pay for a long-form piece isn’t sufficient. “Journalists of color feel so isolated,” she said at another point.

Collaborations of all kinds — with other news organizations and with community groups — were encouraged. One of the most prominent was launched in the San Francisco Bay Area last summer. News organizations collectively tackled the housing crisis.


The Bay Area Media Collaborative will strive to stimulate more intensive and ongoing collaboration among news organizations, most of which are hamstrung by small news staffs and reporting budgets,” Jon Funabiki, executive director of Renaissance Journalism, wrote in August. “In that sense, BAMC will more closely resemble an earlier Renaissance Journalism initiative called the Detroit Journalism Cooperative (DJC), which brought together nine news outlets. As in our other initiatives, the DJC news partners produced award-winning stories about Detroit’s financial crisis, segregation, policing, the schools and other important issues. Through collaboration, the journalists had more impact because they discovered new stories and reached new audiences. . . .”

Jason Alcorn, MediaShift: Knight Media Forum Focuses on Non-Profit News, Impact and Danger of Algorithms


Miranda Bogen, Artificial intelligence will force us to confront our values (Sept. 22, 2016)

Editorial, Hartford Courant: The State Of Journalism Today

Future Today Institute: 2018 Tech Trends For Journalism and Media

Logan Koepke, Pre-trial algorithms deserve a fresh look, study suggests (March 30, 2017)


Jeff Larson, Julia Angwin and Terry Parris Jr., ProPublica: How Machines Learn to Be Racist (Oct. 19, 2016)

Sandi Miller, MIT News: Calculating the cost of tech-fueled discrimination (Dec. 13, 2017)


Anna Orso, Can Philly’s new technology predict recidivism without being racist? (Sept. 25, 2017)

Robert A Stribley, Google Just Made It Harder to Spot Fake News

NRA Drops Race Card in Mass-Shooting Debate

The National Rifle Association’s national spokeswoman argued Thursday that ‘many in legacy media love mass shootings’ during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference,” Maegan Vazquez reported for CNN.


“ ‘Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it,’ Dana Loesch said Thursday. ‘Now I’m not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media in the back (of the room).’

“ ‘And notice I said “crying white mothers” because there are thousands of grieving black mothers in Chicago every weekend, and you don’t see town halls for them, do you?’ Loesch asked.


“ ‘Where’s the CNN town hall for Chicago? Where’s the CNN town hall for sanctuary cities?’ . . . “

Jarvis DeBerry, | Times-Picayune: The same day as the school shooting, police shot a good guy with a gun


Editorial, Philadelphia Inquirer: To stop mass shootings, first fix campaign finance and gerrymandering (Feb. 15)

Suzette Hackney, Indianapolis Star: Sen. Todd Young’s NRA ties make him an ineffective leader


Robert Mackey, the Intercept: Trump Blames Gun-Free Zones for School Shootings, Echoing Myth Spread by NRA

Alexandria Neason and Meg Dalton, Columbia Journalism Review: In Parkland, journalism students take on role of reporter and survivor


Andrés Oppenheimer, Miami Herald: Mass shooting coincides with a rise in racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism

Helen Ubiñas, Everyday gun violence must be part of gun control reckoning

“When I look at that cover it feels like I’m that red-lipped lawn jockey and Konkol is the powerful white man on my back,” Adeshina Emmanuel wrote for Columbia Journalism Review, referring to fired Chicago Reader Executive Editor Mark Konkol.
Illustration: Chicago Reader

Writer Felt Like ‘That Red-Lipped Lawn Jockey’

Mark Konkol’s tenure as executive editor of the Chicago Reader lasted just over two weeks,Evan Garcia wrote Thursday for in Chicago. “On Feb. 17, he was fired for overseeing the alternative weekly’s Feb. 15 issue featuring cover art that sparked controversy for its racially charged depiction of J.B. Pritzker talking on the phone while sitting atop a black lawn jockey statue as an FBI agent listens in.


“The cartoon is a reference to a 2008 telephone conversation between Pritzker and disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich about black politicians, which was wiretapped by the FBI.

“Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward), all of whom support Pritzker’s run for governor, quickly denounced the cartoon as racist in a joint statement.


“But it wasn’t just the cartoon commissioned by Konkol that sparked controversy — the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist stoked discord in the Reader’s newsroom. Edwin Eisendrath, CEO of Sun-Times Media, which owns the Reader, referred to ‘a tumultuous 10 days’ leading up to the issue’s publication.

“Even more illuminating was a Columbia Journalism Review article by black writer Adeshina Emmanuel, who recounted relentless and racially charged editorial decisions by Konkol that made him and others uncomfortable. Emmanuel wrote two stories in the paper’s Feb. 15 issue. . . .”


The Naples Daily News exposed the practice of Florida companies hiring undocumented workers in dangerous jobs to avoid compensating them. (Naples Daily News) (video)

Polk Awards Flag Corruption, Immigrant Abuse

Stories about corruption among Chicago police and abuse of the undocumented joined those about the plight of the Rohingya people fleeing Myanmar and modern-day slave auctions in Libya as winners of the 2018 George Polk Awards, Long Island University announced Tuesday.


Awards also went to reporting on sexual harassment, the ties between Trump campaign officials and Russians, and the destruction unleashed on Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria.

Among those honored:

Melissa Segura of BuzzFeed wins the Local Reporting Award for drawing attention to innocent men framed for murder by a Chicago police detective with stories that led to their release from prison.


Maria Perez of The Naples Daily News shared the Immigration Reporting Award for exposing the practice of Florida companies hiring undocumented workers in dangerous jobs to avoid compensating them when injured, in some cases by arranging their deportation. Antonia Farzan and Joseph Flaherty of Phoenix New Times also won the Immigration Reporting Award for revealing that Motel 6 motels in Phoenix, Arizona, provided nightly guest rosters to ICE agents investigating undocumented immigrants.

Nina Martin of ProPublica and Renee Montagne of NPR won the Medical Reporting Award for explaining the reasons and portraying the tragedies behind an alarming increase in maternal deaths in pregnancy and delivery in the United States.


Ben Taub of The New Yorker won the Magazine Reporting Award for showing the humanitarian devastation caused by the shrinkage of Lake Chad in Africa and underlining the connection of the ecological disaster to famine and armed uprising.

Adam Dean and Tomas Munita of The New York Times won the Photography Award for capturing the plight of the Rohingya people desperately fleeing burning villages in Myanmar and pouring into woefully ill-equipped refugee camps in Bangladesh.


Elle Reeve of VICE News won the National Television Reporting Award for her on-the-scene up-close coverage of the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, that probed the motivations and tactics of white nationalist leaders behind the rally that turned deadly in August.

Nima Elbagir and Raja Razek of CNN won the Foreign Television Reporting Award for uncovering a hidden modern-day slave auction of African refugees in Libya.


David Begnaud of CBS News won the Public Service Award for capturing the destructive power Hurricane Maria unleashed on Puerto Rico in September and documenting how limited aid from the federal and territorial governments delayed the island’s recovery. . . .”

Melissa Segura, BuzzFeed: For Murder By The Same Detective Will Likely Be Tossed Today (Feb. 14)


Kent State to Honor Bhatia, Shelton for Diversity

Peter Bhatia
Photo: Journal-isms

Peter Bhatia, editor of the Detroit Free Press, and Eugene “Gene” Shelton, associate professor in Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will be honored at the 14th annual Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Lecture and Award Program at the university on March 2, Conor Battles reported Wednesday for

The award, which honors diversity, is named after the first African American editor of the Kent Stater, the student newspaper, who went on to also hold that distinction at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and at the Detroit Free Press.


Coincidentally, the award comes as Carlton Winfrey, (pictured left) African American city editor at the Free Press, reports that he was let go by Bhatia this month in a reorganization.


Winfrey, 53, told Journal-isms he had been at the Free Press for 15 years. “I’ve never been laid off in my life,” he said by telephone. “I’ve had a job since I was 21.”

Winfrey’s dismissal leaves two other black men in management, Mark Rochester and James Hill, both at the managing editor level. Editorial Page Editor Stephen Henderson was fired in December for unspecified “inappropriate behavior,” and his deputy, Brian Dickerson, who is white, has replaced him.


Bhatia “said that the first step towards creating a more inclusive newsroom is to encourage more diverse students to pursue journalism education,” Battles reported.

Eugene Shelton
Photo: Journal-isms

“ ‘Over the years there’s been talk of a “pipeline problem” that limits students of color from studying journalism,’ Bhatia said. ‘I think that’s an excuse, not a reason, and frankly I’m tired of excuses. If we truly want a more diverse workplace, we need to make that happen.’ . . .”

Battles also wrote, “Shelton has worked with McGruder’s widow, Annette, to organize the award program since 2003. A Kent State journalism graduate himself, he believes talented journalists of color should have more opportunities to work in the press out of college.


“ ‘There are too many journalists who walk out of universities with a degree and aren’t working in the industry,’ Shelton said. ‘They should be welcomed. They should be able to get hired.’ ”

Winfrey said he had supervised the Free Press’ apprenticeship program, which enrolled such journalists as Jemele Hill and Kelley Carter, both now of ESPN, and Steve Eder, who covers President Trump for the New York Times. He said he hoped the program would continue.


Bhatia messaged Saturday, “Yes, the apprentice program will continue. Plus we are expanding our summer intern program, with a strong focus on diversity.”

Roy Hobbs, Anchor Who Battled Demons, Dies at 64

Roy Hobbs, a retired television reporter and anchor who cited his own experiences in advocating for greater media attention to mental health, was found dead in his West Palm Beach, Fla., apartment, his daughter, Taylor Hobbs, wrote on Facebook Feb. 18. He turned 64 on Jan. 30.


The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office said on Feb. 20 that the case was pending and that a determination of the cause of death awaited the results of toxicology tests.

“For the longest time my dad had been very sick,” Taylor Hobbs wrote Feb. 18 from Bangkok, Thailand. “Literally and figuratively his heart was sad and tired. He had been through SO much, yet he was still here fighting. He was truly strong, yet ready to go. He was a great man who would do anything for the people he cared about. His purpose was to help others, sometimes due to his depression he wouldn’t think that he was fulfilling that purpose.


When I see the love and respect that people have for him, I know otherwise. . . .”

NABJ to Take Facebook Scholarship Money After All

After members questioned its rejection of scholarship money from Facebook, the National Association of Black Journalists has reversed itself and is accepting a $250,000 scholarship grant from the social media company, NABJ announced on Tuesday.


“NABJ joins our fellow journalism organizations, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native American Journalists Association, Asian American Journalists Association, and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, as participants in Facebook’s forward-thinking initiative to collectively distribute more than one million dollars of vital scholarship resources to our respective [constituencies],” NABJ said in its announcement.

Sharon Toomer, NABJ’s executive director, had said on Jan. 26, “. . . Staff resources involved in administering the five-year scholarship program, which would not be equitably covered or offset by Facebook, did not make good business sense. . . .”


NABJ’s Tuesday announcement said, “To be eligible to receive the scholarship, applicants must be enrolled juniors, seniors, or graduate students at an accredited university in the United States, and pursuing a degree in digital media, journalism or communications. The NABJ and Facebook scholarship program will consist of $10,000 awards and digital equipment grants.

“The Facebook Journalism Project Scholarship program will begin in the 2018-19 school year.”


In Brazil, “They came this Monday to participate in a rolezinho pretoi, roughly translated to ‘black stroll,’ and watch the film ‘Black Panther’ in Rio de Janeiro’s most exclusive shopping center, a place where black Brazilians are commonly employed, but are rarely seen as customers,” Juliana Gonçalves wrote for the Intercept.


Journalists to Help Send 900 to ‘Black Panther’

It began with a tweet,” columnist Rochelle Riley reported Sunday for the Detroit Free Press, updating Tuesday .


“Detroit native and ESPN star Jemele Hill, who now reports for ‘The Undefeated,’ implored her 982,000 followers to make sure Detroit kids see ‘Black Panther.’


“I said, ‘Done.’

“So did Big Sean and Eminem who all joined the Free Press, the Detroit Lions and the Ford Fund in planning the trip for Feb. 28.


“But we’re not taking 200 kids. We’re taking 900.

“We plan to fill the entire Emagine Royal Oak Theater with an array of children, including more than 200 who haven’t missed a day of school this year. . . .”


Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: You’ll be derelict as a parent if your kid doesn’t see ‘Black Panther’

Black Women of Brazil: Fists up!! Members of Afro-Brazilian intellectual debate group fill mall movie theater to watch Black Panther; pride, cheers and emotion symbolize the whole night


Sean Burch, the Wrap: Fake ‘Black Panther’ Attack Stories Get Trolls Suspended From Twitter

DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post: He loved ‘Black Panther’ comics as a kid. Then Marvel asked him to write a novel for the movie.


Jarvis DeBerry, | Times-Picayune: ‘Black Panther’ is the talk of black America and some parts of Africa

Editorial, Dallas Morning News: Don’t dismiss ‘Black Panther’ as just another superhero movie


Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times: ‘Black Panther’ is a powerful force at the box office everywhere — including Africa

Juliana Gonçalves, the Intercept: “Black Panther” Is Inspiring Black Brazilians to Occupy Elite, White Shopping Malls


Nefertiti Jaquez, WSB-TV Atlanta: Among the cast of ‘Black Panther’ is a 91-year-old Atlanta actress

Chris McGonigal, HuffPost Black Voices: These Photos Of Black Kids Watching ‘Black Panther’ Highlight Why This Film Was Needed


James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: ‘Black Panther’ is a soaring hit, but my first black heroes didn’t wear capes

Bobbi Bowman searches through records at the Campbell County, Va., Courthouse in Rustburg on Feb. 7.
Photo: Jay Westcott/News & Advance

Ancestor’s Choice: Leave Family or Return to Slavery

In 1859, the Commonwealth of Virginia finally forced my great-great-grandfather, William Williamson, to make an almost unfathomable choice — whether he would leave Virginia and keep his freedom or return to slavery so he could remain near his wife and children,Bobbi Bowman wrote Sunday for the Lynchburg (Va.) News & Advance, republished Tuesday in the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch.


Bowman also wrote, “Between 1850 and 1859, Grandpa battled a Virginia law and the vicious choice it imposed on him: Leave Virginia and remain a free man or give up his freedom to stay with his wife and eight children, who were slaves.

“The story of this fearsome choice illustrates how enslaved black people used Virginia law to fight for their freedom and their families. And, it is a story of family love, kindness, friendship and even trust between blacks and whites living under the brutality of slavery. . . .”


Bowman has worked at the Washington Post, the Gannett Co. and the American Society of News Editors, among other organizations. “It’s a lot like reporting a story,” she told Journal-isms of her research. “I used all the skills they taught us at the Post about how to find information in a courthouse.”

The Times-Dispatch editor’s note said of Bowman, “Her enslaved ancestors have been in Campbell County since at least the 1790’s. Her grandfather’s family worked in slavery a few miles outside of Rustburg; her grandmother’s family was in the Hat Creek community near Brookneal.


“She found a heartbreaking court case involving her great-great grandfather William ‘Billy’ Williamson in a summary information on African Americans in Campbell County compiled by the Library of Virginia in Richmond.

“Reading the case, in the Library of Virginia, she realized the terrible choice her grandfather would face. She cried.


“She is now a graduate student in history at George Mason University.”

Maureen Costello, Southern Poverty Law Center: Teaching Hard History: Schools are not adequately teaching the history of American slavery, educators are not sufficiently prepared to teach it, textbooks do not have enough material about it, and — as a result — students lack a basic knowledge of the important role it played in shaping the United States and the impact it continues to have on race relations in America. (Jan. 31)


Josh Shaffer, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Slave cemetery fights for life. ‘I’m haunted by who the descendants are of these folks.’

University of California, Berkeley

Kerner Commission Observances Ramp Up

As Thursday’s 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report approaches, commemorations are planned by the Newseum in Washington, the University of California at Berkeley, the Ford Foundation in Detroit and institutions at points nearby and in between. Some have already staged their programs.


Journal-isms, the Journal-isms Roundtable and the Chips Quinn Scholars program of the Newseum Institute are co-sponsors of the Newseum event, which is to be streamed Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon.

Panelists are Lynne Adrine, director of the Washington Program for Broadcast and Digital Journalism for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University; Thomas J. Hrach, author of 2016's “The Riot Report and the News: How the Kerner Commission Changed Media Coverage of Black America”; and Francisco Vara-Orta, writer for Education Week and a vice president of the Education Writers Association. It is to be moderated by Gene Policinski, president of the Newseum Institute, and this columnist. Free registration here.


Officially the report of the presidentially appointed National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, the examination of the causes of the 1967 urban uprisings said in its chapter on the media that “fewer than 5 percent of the people employed by the news business in the United States today are Negroes” and that “the journalistic profession has been shockingly backward in seeking out, hiring, training and promoting Negroes.” It made recommendations for redress.

Yet today, America’s newsrooms still don’t reflect the country’s diversity; and communities are not covered equitably,” the Ford Foundation said in announcing its March 5 commemoration in Detroit. “Amid great challenges to the press, democracy, and the very idea of truth, how can we reinvigorate efforts to integrate newsrooms and advance indispensable journalism?”


To be staged at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Ford program includes speakers “Farai Chideya, Jelani Cobb, Jon Funabiki, Martina Guzmán, Jenny Lee, Ed Lewis, Marie Nelson, Bill Plante, Richard Prince, Kevin Ryan and Jerome Vaughn, Darren Walker and performances from Kisma Jordan, Jessica Care Moore and Sphinx.” Free registration here.

Also in Detroit, Wayne State University has begun a semester-long commemoration. “Our theme for the semester will explore competing ideas about ‘development’ and visions for Detroit’s future in the context of the 50th anniversary of the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders . . . Each week will feature different Detroit-based speakers and guests who will explore the given topic and engage the students through a combination of formal remarks, presentations and public discussion. . . .”


At UC Berkeley, a “Race & Inequality in America: The Kerner Commission at 50" conference, to be held Tuesday through Thursday, “aims to serve as a landmark, comprehensive investigation of race in American society.

“Findings from the conference will be compiled into reports and multimedia materials to be made publicly available following the conference, in order to serve as a landmark retrospective as well as a roadmap for a policy agenda that can grapple with the challenges of racial inequality in American society.”


At DePauw University in Indiana, Miranda S. Spivack, Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism, has planned a session at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6, with Paul Delaney, a former editor and reporter for the New York Times; this columnist and Ava Thompson Greenwell of Northwestern University, whose scholarly work is focused on the media and diversity.

The Kerner report was scheduled for discussion Saturday in Chicago at an afternoon program on “Being Black in Broadcast Media/Entertainment” with broadcasters Derrick Blackley, Art Norman, Tasha E. Ransom and Christian Farr at the Levy Center. It is organized by Greenwell.


Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs plans a session April 5, “Race and the US Newsroom — 50 years after the Kerner report,” with panelists Jill Nelson, author of “Volunteer Slavery”; Aaron Edwards, special projects editor at the Outline; Taryn Finley, editor of HuffPost Black Voices, and this columnist. Moderator is Alison Bethel McKenzie, veteran journalist, media trainer and consultant.

The American Society of News Editors conducted a Kerner discussion at its annual conference in October. American University did so on Feb. 15, with the session organized by Dr. Sherri Williams, assistant professor in race, media and communication.


University of Illinois at Chicago: The Kerner Report: 50 Years Later

Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Last surviving member of famed Kerner Commission coming to town


Short Takes

Cliff Russell
Photo: Detroit Free Press

The irony of Cliff Russell’s passing of a heart attack at the age of 61 wasn’t lost on those of us who loved and admired him,” Carol Cain wrote Friday for the Detroit Free Press. “Cliff Russell was all heart.” She also wrote of the Detroit radio host, “When Bob McGruder, the late iconic Detroit Free Press executive editor[,] was looking to add a columnist to talk about Detroit and the community, he turned to Cliff. His columns were direct, and he didn’t sugarcoat such issues as race relations or the woes of a city he loved. Known for being tough but fair, Cliff commanded the respect of those he would write and talk about. . . .” Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at St. Stephen AME Church, 6000 John E. Hunter St., Detroit.


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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.


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