Trump’s NFL Attacks Embolden Journalists

  • ‘Racism’ and ‘White Supremacy’ Stated More Easily
  • Media Executive Named NABJ Executive Director
  • Border Wall No Panacea, USA Today Network Finds
  • Puerto Rico Overshadowed by NFL, Health Care
  • Homicides Prompt Mental Health Crisis in Chicago
  • 7 Projects Get $2 Million to Boost Trust in Media
  • Va. Statue to Honor Firebrand Editor, Nat Turner
  • Concerns About Public Radio Diversity Initiative
  • Colleagues Pursue Dream of Blind Media Worker
  • Short Takes
Dallas Cowboys players and staff members, including owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett, all take a knee before the singing of the National Anthem before the start of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Monday (Andy Jacobsohn/Dallas Morning News)

‘Racism’ and ‘White Supremacy’ Stated More Easily

Donald Trump’s weekend attacks on NFL players who take a knee during the National Anthem has emboldened journalists to use the words “racism” and “white supremacy” to describe Trump, his policies and actions, and to cast the controversy in racial terms, despite the president’s insistence that race has nothing to do with it.


At least one African American sports journalist took a figurative knee himself in the press box in solidarity with players protesting police shootings of unarmed black people. But the desire to stand with the athletes transcended race, as white journalists decried Trump’s racial dog whistles as well.

“My reasoning for protesting was a solidarity move with the players, as well as my opposition to the alarming rhetoric from the president about NFL players,” Ray Richardson of KMOJ-FM in Minneapolis told Journal-isms by email. He was covering the Minnesota Vikings-Tampa Bay Bucs game Sunday.

Ray Richardson

“I stayed in my seat during the anthem. I’m not sure if anyone noticed. Nothing was said to me. I was taking notes during the anthem to jot down what the players were doing, so some folks might have thought I was working. I took down a few notes but I was ‘protesting.’


“I have no issues with our country’s flag and what it represents, although we all know the history of the issues African-Americans have faced in this country. My decision on Sunday was based purely on my objections to the president and his stance on the players’ right to free and peaceful expression. His concerns could have been presented so much differently. He could have been far less combative to avoid the turmoil this issue is causing the NFL and people around the country.”

Even the conservative-friendly Fox News Channel pressed Trump administration spokesmen on whether Trump was using a double standard. Interviewing Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace produced a 2013 tweet from Trump, “President should not be telling the Washington Redskins to change their name. Our country has far bigger problems. Focus on them, not nonsense.”


Chris Cillizza of CNN recounted some of the most repeated sound bites of the weekend:”On Friday night in Alabama, Trump condemned football players who either sit or protest in some other way during the national anthem — and chastised the NFL owners for not coming down harder on them,” Cillizza wrote Saturday.

“ ‘Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!’ Trump said to considerable applause from the overwhelmingly white crowd. ‘Total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for. Everything that we stand for.’


“Then, on Saturday morning, Trump tweeted this about Curry: ‘Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!’

“He followed it up with two more tweets — both focused, again, on the NFL. ‘If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!’


“On one level, this is classic Trump. He feels as though he is being disrespected — whether by NFL players not standing for the national anthem or by Curry saying if it was up to him, the Golden State Warriors would not visit the White House. (The Warriors, in a statement Saturday afternoon, said they would come to Washington and do events to promote diversity and inclusiveness rather than meet with Trump.)

“They hit him, so he hit back.”

Cillizza then connected the racial dots.

“But, there’s something far more pernicious here. Both the NFL and the NBA are sports in which the vast majority of the players are black and the vast majority of owners are white. In the NFL, there are 0 black owners of the 32 teams. In the NBA, Michael Jordan is the lone black owner of a team.


“Consider that in the context of what Trump said both Friday night and Saturday.

“In Alabama, Trump called the players who refuse to stand for the anthem ‘sons of bitches’ and insisted that any owner worth his or her salt should fire them immediately.


“That got a lot of attention — and rightly so. But it’s what Trump said next that’s really telling. ‘Total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said — adding for emphasis: ‘Everything that we stand for.’

“Notice the use of ‘our heritage’ and ‘we’ in those two sentences above.

“But wait, there’s more. In both his Curry tweet and his two NFL tweets, Trump expressed frustration that these lucky athletes felt the need to be ungrateful.


“Trump noted the ‘great honor’ of going to the White House and the ‘privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL.’ You should just be thankful for what you have and not be any trouble, Trump is telling these players.

“Here’s the thing: Even if we lived in a color-blind society, that would be a dangerous sentiment . . .”


Pete Vernon of Columbia Journalism Review pointed to what some journalists see as their linguistic dilemma.

‘Racially charged,’ ‘racially loaded,’ ‘racially divisive.’ When it comes to Donald Trump’s political approach in the context of his criticism of NFL players protesting during the National Anthem, journalists have no problem identifying the underlying issue, despite the president’s insistence to the contrary.


“What they’re having a harder time with is the use of the word ‘racist’ to describe those comments. . . .”

It was harder for some than for others.

Jenee Osterheldt

Consider Jeneé Osterheldt’s column Saturday for the Kansas City Star, headlined, “Trump’s NFL tirade shows the nation who he really is: A white supremacist.” Or Michael Gerson’s in the Washington Post, headlined, “America has a racial demagogue for a president.”

As Vernon pointed out in Columbia Journalism Review, some editors resist labels. He quoted Michael Oreskes, NPR’s senior vice president of news and editorial director, who said “that his organization focuses on describing comments and tweets without inserting reporters’ conclusions into the story.


“ ‘We treat “racist” as we would other conclusory labels. We use action words, instead, Oreskes writes in a statement to CJR. ‘As we have said many times, it’s not our job to tell people what to think. It’s our job to give them the information they need to make informed decisions.’ NPR has chosen not to refer to Trump’s falsehoods as ‘lies’ in the past. In January, Oreskes said, ‘I think the minute you start branding things with a word like “lie,” you push people away from you.’ . . .”

And yet, Vernon also writes, “Words matter, particularly when they are used to address the most divisive and politically fraught issue in America. But accurate reporting requires dealing honestly with the context of the situation. A president who launched his campaign with racist comments about Mexican immigrants, who built his political profile on the racist lie that Barack Obama was not born in America, and who saw ‘fine people on both sides’ in Charlottesville last month has provided the evidence necessary to move beyond circumlocution.


“Trump’s history of racism is long and well documented. . . .”

Richard Deitsch, Sports Illustrated: How Did the Different Networks Handle Trump’s Comments During NFL Sunday


Brendan Fitzgerald, Columbia Journalism Review: Lessons on covering race and racism after Charlottesville

Ahiza Garcia, CNN Money: ESPN takes on the politics of Trump

Stephen A. Nuño, NBC News Latino: Poll: Latinos’ Racism Concerns Grow, Expectations of Trump Drop


Media Executive Named NABJ Executive Director

Sharon Toomer

Sharon Toomer, described as “an accomplished media executive and nonprofit leader,” was named executive director of the National Association of Black Journalists on Monday, chosen from about 70 applicants after a national search.

According to a news release, “Prior to joining NABJ, Toomer served as senior vice president for public affairs and policy at Matlock Advertising & Public Relations, where she led the agency’s Reputation Group in its work with a diverse portfolio of clients representing the corporate, nonprofit, academic and business sectors. Toomer has also served as chief of staff and senior policy advisor for U.S. Representative (D.C.-Shadow) Franklin Garcia.


“Toomer has also worked as an editorial producer for CNNfn and CNN Headline News and founded the award-winning digital news platform Black and Brown News. . . .”

Among Toomer’s priorities will be implementing a strategic plan for 2017-2020 developed with a $100,000 Ford Foundation grant and released in April.


“The Strategic Plan 2017-2020 is a big deal,” Marlon A. Walker, vice president/print, said Tuesday by email. “When we began the process to find a permanent executive director, we went into it looking for someone who would take that as a directive and execute. Of course, diversifying our revenue streams and setting the organization up for long-term success is a large part of that. We’ve done a great job adding to our programming outside the annual convention, and we wanted someone with the versatility of thought and resources to enhance what the board has been working to do since 2015.

“Fundraising will be key to that success as well.

“Personally, I also wanted someone more concerned with the details. I’ve always felt that’s where we fell short in the national office, and potentially hurt us with our partners in the long run. Sharon appears to be willing to tackle all of that and more, looking at her resume and discussing her strategies in detail during the interview process.”


The last executive director was Darryl R. Matthews Sr., who was let go in October 2015 amid cost-cutting moves. He was followed by Drew Berry, an executive consultant credited with helping to orchestrate an almost $1.3 million surplus in 2016, rebounding from a deficit. Shirley Carswell, a lecturer at the Howard University Cathy Hughes School of Communications and formerly deputy managing editor at the Washington Post, has been interim executive director since this summer.

NABJ has an annual budget of approximately $2.5 million and a membership base of 3,500.


From “The Wall: Unknown stories. Unintended consequences.” (USA Today Network)

Border Wall No Panacea, USA Today Network Finds

“ ‘Build the Wall.’ Three words energized a campaign,” USA Today reported in introducing its project “The Wall: Unknown stories. Unintended consequences.”


“But could it be done? What would it cost? What would it accomplish? Our search for answers became this, a landmark new report, ‘The Wall.’

“The task was massive. . . .”

To bring you this report, we flew the entire border — drove it, too,” Nicole Carroll, editor and vice president/news of the Arizona Republic and, wrote Saturday.


“More than 30 reporters and photographers from the USA TODAY NETWORK interviewed migrants, farmers, families, tribal members — even a human smuggler. We joined Border Patrol agents on the ground, in a tunnel, at sea. We patrolled with vigilantes, walked the line with ranchers. We scoured government maps, fought for property records. . . .”

Among the findings: “Texas, which accounts for more than half the border, has almost no fencing, with hundreds of miles of open border at a stretch.


“A network investigation of public records found that walling the border in this wide-open area could require disrupting or seizing nearly 5,000 parcels of property.”

Other conclusions:

Border crossings are declining. Illegal traffic on the border is at its lowest point in four decades, according to Border Patrol apprehension data. It has been falling consistently since 2000, and in some areas is at a tenth of its peak levels. Still, the human smuggler told us a wall would not stop people from trying to cross the border — it would also let him charge even more money for helping them.


At the same time, the number of migrants found dead in the desert is on the rise. As border security tightens, migrants venture to more dangerous areas to cross.

Fencing may inhibit drug trafficking, but it won’t stop it. The San Diego area has some of the most secured and fenced border in the U.S., but it is also where agents find the most drug smuggling.


“In addition to providing data and analysis, we wanted you to meet people who would live with a border wall, to understand what it means to them.

Border ranchers want more security but note that a wall has to be guarded or it is simply a speed bump for illegal crossings.


Native Americans who live on lands that straddle the border say they will fight a border wall, as it could block members from services and disrupt sacred pilgrimages.

Family members of victims killed by border bandits or others without legal status support a wall, saying it might have stopped the crimes that claimed the lives of their relatives. . . .”


“NBC Nightly News” led Monday with anchor Lester Holt reporting from San Juan.

Puerto Rico Overshadowed by NFL, Health Care

Media coverage drives attention and resources, and millions of Americans are suffering without power, shelter, or basic supplies,” Pete Vernon reported Tuesday for Columbia Journalism Review.


“With Trump’s NFL comments and the healthcare debate receiving lots of attention, reports from Puerto Rico, as well as the hard-hit US Virgin Islands, haven’t broken through the noise. Media Matters reports that, collectively, the five major Sunday shows spent less than one minute of total air time on the story.

“Last night, that began to change, at least somewhat. NBC led with Lester Holt reporting from San Juan, but the Puerto Rico’s story didn’t appear until the third segment on both ABC’s World News Tonight and CBS’s Evening News. CBS had David Begnaud on the ground, while Eva Pilgrim reported from Puerto Rico for ABC. Holt and his crew made a daylong journey by military transport to get to Puerto Rico.. . . ‘There is devastation everywhere,’ Holt opened, saying the reporting is like ‘a curtain is slowly being lifted on this disaster, revealing more and more of the suffering and the dire straights on this island.’


“ ‘Trump, who had remained silent about the crisis, finally tweeted about the island last night, but included a bizarre reference to Puerto Rico’s ‘massive debt” that ‘must be dealt with.’. . .”

On Tuesday, Trump promised to visit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Oct. 3.


Joel Achenbach, Dan Lamothe and Alex Horton, Washington Post: Trump administration facing pressure to speed up recovery efforts in Puerto Rico

Editorial, Boston Globe: Don’t let Puerto Rico languish

Jacqueline Klimas, Politico: In Puerto Rico, another desperate plea for help

Patricia Mazzei, Miami Herald: What Hurricane Maria taught me about the people of Puerto Rico


Rubén Rosario, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.: Call all this ‘human strong’ in the wake of hurricanes

Samantha Schmidt and Joel Achenbach, Washington Post: Hot, isolated, and running out of supplies, parts of Puerto Rico near desperation


Alan Taylor, the Atlantic: Disconnected by Disaster—Photos From a Battered Puerto Rico

Pablo Venes, Daily Beast: The Streets Are ‘Not Safe’: Puerto Rico Begs U.S. for Help

In Chicago, Rickey Turner presses his hand in paint that his family used to cover the blood of his brother, Tony Haywood, on July 18, in the parking lot where Haywood was shot and killed the night before. The Chicago Tribune’s Brian Cassella has been writing a series called “Second Take,” meant to show what happens the day after gun violence hits another piece of Chicago. Sometimes, he said, “people get to know their neighbors a little better.” (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

Homicides Prompt Mental Health Crisis in Chicago

“Holmes, 24, told his editors he wanted to put a human face on the violence. He called community groups that support survivors of violence and families who have lost loved ones. He wanted to hear about the experience of Chicagoans when they are confronted with so much violence and death.


“That reporting ‘kind of led me down a totally different path,’ Holmes tells CJR. ‘The focus of the story ended up shifting from just “putting a human face on the results of violence in Chicago” to a much more personal story of how these specific incidents end up having real tolls on the mental health of folks all across the city.’

“In late August, PBS Newshour published the resulting story, ‘Chicago’s gun violence crisis is also a mental health crisis.’ Holmes’ story depicts how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and other forms of mental illness impact predominantly black Chicago communities — like Englewood, North Lawndale, and other communities on the South and West Sides — that also suffer from high rates of gun violence and a lack of mental health resources. . . . “


Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune: Second Take

7 Projects Get $2 Million to Boost Trust in Media

“The multimillion-dollar initiative will be led by the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy, a diverse panel of 24 men and women from across the nation including Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen and Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padrón.


“ . . . On Monday, the foundation announced it will spend more than $2 million to fund seven projects focused on fact-checking, accuracy and trust. As part of the initiative, the foundation already allocated $1 million to about 20 different groups for early-stage experiments that could improve the accuracy of news. The effort will also include researching new ideas.

“ ‘We want to figure how to get back to the place where those institutions are trusted and there is good reason to trust them,’ said Jennifer Preston, vice president of journalism for the foundation. . . .”

John Mitchell Jr., publisher of Virginia’s Richmond Planet. (Valentine Richmond History Center)

Va. Statue to Honor Firebrand Editor, Nat Turner

It played out like a John Ford Western — the hero packing a pair of pistols and walking the streets of the dusty town in search of justice and the man who’d threatened his life,” Donna M. Lucey wrote in 2010 for the National Endowment for the Humanities.


“But instead of John Wayne in the lead role, the protagonist in this real-life case was a courageous, twenty-two-year-old, African-American firebrand named John Mitchell Jr. As editor and publisher of the African-American weekly newspaper the Richmond Planet, Mitchell was not content to sit in his office — actually, his boardinghouse attic quarters, which doubled as his newsroom at that time — in the face of injustice.

“A lynching had taken place at a crossroads in Charlotte County in rural Southside Virginia in May 1886, an event brushed aside in the white press, but taken up in a blistering editorial by Mitchell in the Planet. In response, the journalist received a threatening — and anonymous — letter from Southside with a skull and crossbones on the envelope and the following message: ‘If you poke that infernal head of yours in this county long enough for us to do it we will hang you higher than he was hung.’

Most controversial choice

“Mitchell printed the letter in his newspaper and added his own response, which he based on a quote from Shakespeare: ‘There are no terrors, Cassius, in your threats, for I am armed so strong in honesty that they pass me by like the idle winds, which I respect not.’ He traveled to the scene of the barbaric crime — walking five miles in plain sight to get there — then strolled around the neighborhood and visited the jail from which the black man had been kidnapped. All the while wearing a pair of Smith & Wesson revolvers. ‘The cowardly letter writer was nowhere in evidence,’ Mitchell later reported.


“The young crusader fought against the lynching of both African Americans and whites (though blacks far outnumbered whites as victims of that crime), and he protested against unjust sentences that were being meted out to black prisoners. Mitchell quickly made a name for himself with his daring deeds and became known as the ‘Fighting Negro Editor’ who would gladly ‘walk into the jaws of death to serve his race.’ It was his job, he said, ‘to howl, yes howl loudly, until the American people hear our cries.’ . . . ”

A Virginia state commission planning an anti-slavery monument in downtown Richmond “voted Wednesday to include Nat Turner, the leader of a bloody 1831 slave uprising in Southampton County, among a group of 10 African-American figures who will be honored on the statue’s base,” Graham Moomaw reported Wednesday for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Mitchell is among five post-emancipation honorees.


The others are “John Mercer Langston, a Louisa County native who was the country’s first African-American elected official; the Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, a Petersburg civil rights activist who served as chief of staff to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Lucy F. Simms, a former slave who went on to become a pioneering black educator in the Shenandoah Valley; [and ] Rosa Dixon Bowser, an advocate for black women, children and teachers who founded the Richmond Woman’s League. . . .”

“The work on the new statue being done by the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission has thus far avoided controversy, but the decision to include Turner — seen as a freedom fighter by many and a mass murderer by others — is likely to bring a new level of attention to the planning process for the monument meant to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of slavery, . . .” Moomaw reported.


Murray Dubin and Daniel R. Biddle, Philadelphia Inquirer: The dream of a monument to Philly civil rights hero Octavius Catto is finally fulfilled

Vladimir Duthiers, CBS News: Octavius Valentine Catto honored in Philadelphia

Editorial, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.: It’s time to do right by ‘Greensboro One’


Adeshina Emmanuel, Chicago magazine: How the South Side Came to House a Not-So-Controversial Confederate Memorial

Solomon Jones, Philadelphia Daily News: Unlike Rizzo statue, Afro-pick sculpture is empowering (Sept. 12)


Nicole Stockdale, Dallas Morning News: Confederate controversy: The anatomy of an editorial board evolution

Michael Paul Williams, Richmond Times-Dispatch: Is Richmond ready to commemorate Nat Turner?


Concerns About Public Radio Diversity Initiative

‘Overlooked No More’ reads a flyer advertising a new cross-station collaboration recruiting reporters to cover stories about race, ethnicity and culture,” April Simpson reported Monday for “ ‘Help change public radio.’


“With goals to bring more people of color into local newsrooms and produce reporting that fills coverage gaps and reaches new audiences, four NPR affiliates are recruiting reporters for a two-year project facilitated by NPR and backed with a $450,000 CPB grant.

“Participants in the collaborative recognize the significance of its goal to address longstanding problems with newsroom diversity at public radio stations. But many diverge on key decisions about its structure and leadership.


“WNPR in Hartford, Conn., Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, KCUR in Kansas City, Mo., and St. Louis Public Radio will each host a reporter as part of the collaboration. Each reporter will produce local coverage and contribute to the larger project supervised by an as-yet unnamed editor at St. Louis Public Radio, lead station on the collaborative. . . .”

Simpson also wrote, “Current interviewed a dozen people for this story . . . . Some participants expressed concern that reporters recruited for this collaborative will join majority-white newsrooms to cover race, ethnicity and culture. These are topics they say white newsrooms often cover poorly; the expectation that reporters of color can shoulder all the responsibility of reversing that is unrealistic.


“They favor integrating coverage of race and culture into every reporter’s beat, an approach that helps create buy-in across a newsroom. Since the jobs are short-term positions, the initiative doesn’t address problems with retention of diverse reporters in public radio, they say, when these newsrooms could hire more people of color into staff positions.

“Additionally, several current and former staffers of St. Louis Public Radio question whether the station is fit to take the lead on this collaboration. They point to its internal difficulties with training reporters of color who were new to public radio and its newsroom. . . .”


Colleagues Pursue Dream of Blind Media Worker

Reggie Anglen, a long-time advocate for people with visual impairments and other disabilities, never gave up on his dream to create a local resource center for the blind,” Rita Price reported Friday for the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch.

Reggie Anglen (Joshua A. Bickel, Columbus Dispatch)

“Friends and colleagues who will be gathering Saturday for his funeral service hope the plan will yet be realized. Anglen, 65, died Sept. 1.


“ ‘The goal lives on,’ said Denis Liggins, board president of LightHouse at Teachable Moments, the organization Anglen founded to help improve the lives of central Ohio adults with vision loss. ‘I think we’ve got a pretty committed group here.’ “

Price also wrote, “The oldest of 11 children, Anglen was born in Cleveland and moved to Columbus to attend the Ohio State School for the Blind. The area Lion’s Club chose Anglen, an Ohio State University graduate, as its man of the year in 1974, and he was a past president of the Columbus Association of Black Journalists. . . .”


Short Takes

Arnulfo T. Garcia, center foreground, editor-in-chief of the San Quentin News, with his staff inside the newspaper offices in San Quentin State Prison in 2015. (Credit: Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) See third item.
NBC News’ digital editors, from left, Traci Lee, Sandra Lilley, Amber Payne and Brooke Sopelsa (Matt Nighswander/NBC News)

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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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