Washington Post Focus on Black Women

Illustration for article titled Washington Post Focus on Black Women

In Poll, Career Success Trumps Having Children, Romance

"Black women are far more likely than white women to place importance on career success and are less inclined to focus on having children or being in a romantic relationship, according to a new, nationwide survey by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation," the Post announced on Sunday. "This is the first story in a series looking at black women's experiences and perspectives and can be read [here].

"The next story in the series will be published Tuesday, January 24 and captures . . . First Lady Michelle Obama's impact on black women and looks at how she has changed overall impressions of black women in America. In the coming weeks and months, The Post will also explore how black women assess their self-image and the impact of the economic recession on their finances.

"In addition, The Post will host a panel discussion in partnership with Howard University's Women as Change Agents titled 'Through the Looking Glass: Black Women in America.' The event will take place on Wednesday, February 29 at Howard University's Blackburn Center beginning at 6:30pm. The discussion will be led by Michelle Singletary, nationally syndicated Personal Finance Columnist for The Washington Post. To RSVP or to submit a question for the panel, please e-mail behindtheheadlines@washpost.com."


In 2006, the Post debuted a year-long Washington Post series on "Being a Black Man," which included the results of a survey of 2,864 people, including a sample of 1,328 black men. It was coordinated by Kevin Merida, now the Post's national editor, and repackaged as a book.

"We've been hoping to focus on black women ever since, and we had the opportunity this year to do the poll," polling director Jon Cohen said on the Post website. "Obviously, having Michelle Obama in the White House provides a related angle."

It remains to be seen whether the series on women, coordinated by Monica Norton, deputy local editor, with Merida line-editing the first two pieces, will be as ambitious. Still, Krissah Thompson, who wrote the first installment, told readers on Monday, "Our journalism is undergirded by a national poll by The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation that asks black women where they stand on a range of [issues.] It's one of the largest such surveys in decades — perhaps since the 1980s."

The first article touched on media images of black women as well as issues of career vs. romance.


"Religion is essential to most black women's lives; being in a romantic relationship is not, the poll shows. Nearly three-quarters of African American women say now is a good time to be a black woman in America, and yet a similar proportion worry about having enough money to pay their bills. Half of black women surveyed call racism a 'big problem' in the country; nearly half worry about being discriminated against. Eighty-five percent say they are satisfied with their own lives, but one-fifth say they are often treated with less respect than other people," the story said.

In the alternative Washington City Paper, Shani Hilton, who is black, offered a critique that included this comment:

"While black women and white women tend to align when it comes to domestic or 'women's' issues, black women and men are more similar on race and self-perception questions. Ignoring that is a glaring omission in an article that purports to tell the whole story. It would have been far more interesting to explore where and why black women line up with other surveyed groups, and then hone in on questions where they are truly unique."


Monday's installment received more than 800 comments, the Post's Bethonie Butler wrote, "some of which ask why The Post chose to focus on black women for this particular series."

"Actually, studies of the media show that women and minorities do not receive much in-depth coverage," Thompson said in one response.


* Charlene Muhammad, Final Call: Who Defines Black Women?

* Day Two: Krissah Thompson and Vanessa Williams, Washington Post: African American women see their own challenges mirrored in Michelle Obama's [Jan. 24]


Diversity Took a Step Backward Under AP's Tom Curley

Tom Curley, president and CEO of the Associated Press since 2003, will step down this year, the AP announced on Monday. The news cooperative touted his accomplishments, but according to some at the company, Curley presided over a retrenchment on diversity crowned by, but not limited to, the abandonment of the AP's 26-year-old internship program.


When AP announced in December 2010 that it was suspending the internship program, ostensibly to return in 2012, it added that AP would not be present at any of the journalist-of-color conventions in 2011. The AP has yet to announce a return of the program this year.

In 2006, after Curley was accused of accused of disinterest in diversity efforts, he asserted to Journal-isms, "I've given very specific directions to the management group" at the news cooperative to improve those efforts.


As best as could be determined then, the AP's entire management committee was white, and its senior headquarters news management team was said to include only one person of color, Robert Naylor, director of career development.

Some inside the AP said then that the organization's Diversity Council was on its last legs, but Curley maintained he had asked the group to be more effective.


Today, according to AP insiders, the 10 Management Committee members include two people of color — Daisy Veerasingham, senior vice president for international sales, based in London, and Fernando Ferre, vice president of AP images, based in New York.

The executive editor, the four managing editors and the heads of domestic and international broadcast are white, and the Diversity Council has been disbanded. Programs such as Diverse Voices/Diverse Visions, a mentoring program and diversity workshops have ended.


Diverse Voices was described as "an annual five-day multicultural journalism workshop pairing aspiring student journalists with mentors who are AP writers and editors."

Diverse Visions did the same for aspiring student photojournalists.

Paul Colford, director of AP media relations, did not respond Monday to a request for Curley to discuss these issues. The news release touted Curley's efforts in other areas.


"Curley, who turns 64 this year, charted AP's move into the digital space, from overseeing creation of a digital database of all AP content to assuring its availability on every platform in every format," it said. "All the while, he insisted on maintaining the values of accuracy and trust that have been a hallmark of AP since its founding in 1846. It is these news values, he said, that distinguish AP from other agencies and assure its future.

"Curley was equally tireless in advocating for open government, deepening AP's longstanding legal and legislative efforts to make the news cooperative one of the nation's most aggressive advocates for freedom of information. A speech he delivered in 2004 is credited with re-igniting the media mission to fight the government secrecy that many experts say increased after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. 'The powerful have to be watched, and we are the watchers,' Curley said, in calling on the news industry to do more to protect freedom of information."


The release also noted that "With the opening of the Pyongyang office, AP is the first news organization to operate a text and photo bureau with full-time staff in North Korea."

It said the AP Board of Directors had launched a search for a successor.

News Corp., Colombian Broadcaster Plan Spanish Channel

"News Corp.'s Fox International Channels and RCN Television Group, a Colombian broadcaster, are teaming up to launch a Latino broadcast network in the United States," Joe Flint reported Monday for the Los Angeles Times.


"The new channel, dubbed MundoFox, will launch in the fall of this year. The Spanish-language channel will look to compete against Univision and the Telemundo network, both of which have big head starts. News Corp. and RCN made the announcement Monday at the National Assn. of Television Program Executives conference in Miami.

"For News Corp., the push represents the growing importance of the Latino demographic in the United States. The media giant already owns Fox Deportes, a cable sports channel that caters to Spanish-speaking viewers."


"Red Tails" Debuts in No. 2 Spot at Box Office

" 'Red Tails,' the George Lucas film that tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, enjoyed a robust debut weekend, claiming the #2 spot by bringing in more than $19 million at the box office, according to the Hollywood Reporter and other industry reports," Jennifer Brett reported Monday for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


"The strong showing follows a push in numerous markets, including Atlanta, where Tuskegee Airmen attended an advance screening to reminisce and urge support for the film. President and Mrs. Obama hosted a group of Tuskegee Airmen at a private screening in the White House theater.

"In metro Atlanta, a crowd of supporters including many proud veterans attended an advance screening at the AMC Southlake 24 in Morrow.


" 'This is an awesome film. Please tell at least four people,' chapter president Zellie Orr urged the packed theater just before the movie began. During the pre-screening reception, Orr, a researcher and historian, said she became active with the chapter in 2004. She contacted the Lucas film folks more than two years ago to secure Thursday night's premiere in Atlanta.' "

Orr is vice president of historical research and development at the Southern Roots & Silver Wings Coalition, Inc.


* Jarvis DeBerry, Times-Picayune, New Orleans: Tuskegee Airmen show heroism came in all colors

* Jozen Cummings, theRoot.com: 'Red Tails': Guilt-Trip Cinema

* Patrick Goldstein, Los Angeles Times: Hollywood on black culture: Should it be looking forward not back?


* Barry Saunders, News and Observer, Raleigh: 'Tails' needs our help

Of 200+ Reporters at Debate, He Counted 3 Who Were Black

"Inside the North Charleston Coliseum, an [enthusiastic] crowd of white Republicans cheer and jeer a dwindling lineup of white guys at CNN's Thursday night debate, while inside the press room, a crowd of white journalists stare at a huge projection screen on which the debate is being broadcast," Chris Haire wrote Friday for the Charleston City Paper in South Carolina.


"No one is bothered by the fact that the debate is taking place elsewhere in the building, perhaps only yards away. Out of the 200-plus journos, I count three black reporters, and they are all curiously sitting toward the back of the room. If this is what the Fourth Estate looks like in this country — nearly 50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — then the republic is doomed."

Haire told Journal-isms by email Monday, "that number may not be entirely accurate for the duration of the event, but on the occasions I counted — twice before the start of the debate — it was two and then three. That said, I did a quick scan of the room throughout the debate and did not see an increase."


Obama: Press Corps Is Miffed That I Don't Go to Parties

In a conversation with Fareed Zakaria of Time magazine published last week, President Obama said the press corps describes him as cold and aloof because he does not party with them.


In a discussion about House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Obama said, "You know, the truth is, actually, when it comes to Congress, the issue is not personal relationships. My suspicion is that this whole critique has to do with the fact that I don't go to a lot of Washington parties. And as a consequence, the Washington press corps maybe just doesn't feel like I'm in the mix enough with them, and they figure, well, if I'm not spending time with them, I must be cold and aloof.

"The fact is, I've got a 13-year-old and 10-year-old daughter, and so, no, Michelle and I don't do the social scene, because as busy as we are, we have a limited amount of time, and we want to be good parents at a time that's vitally important for our kids."


New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd challenged Obama's reasoning in her column Sunday. "Reagan didn't socialize with the press. He spent his evenings with Nancy, watching TV with dinner trays. But he knew that to transcend, you can't condescend," she wrote. 

* John Blake, CNN: Return of the 'Welfare Queen'

* Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Newt's Southern Strategy

* Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic: Compensation

* Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Joe Klein Notices Newt Stole His Kid Janitor Idea


* JTA: Atlanta Jewish Times publisher resigns over Obama assassination column

* Bryan Llenas, Fox News Latino: After Gingrich Win, Florida and Latino Voters Take Center Stage


* Griselda Nevárez, Hispanic Link: Mitt Romney Has Fences to Mend to Gain Hispanic Votes

* Patrick B. Pexton, Washington Post: Scrutinize President Obama's record

* Bernestine Singley, beforeBarack.com: Dear Maureen DowdŠ[or Throwing Down on "Showtime at the Apollo"]


* Gregory Stanford blog: Newt gives new life to Southern strategy

Applications Open for Opinion Writing Seminar

"Experienced minority journalists have until March 1 to apply for the 17th annual Minority Writers Seminar April 12-15 at the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee," the Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly the National Conference of Editorial Writers, announced on Monday.


"Participants receive intense training for writing opinion in a 'boot camp' environment with veteran opinion writers comprising the faculty, said Tommy Denton, director of the seminar sponsored by the National Conference of Editorial Writers Foundation in partnership with the Diversity Institute.

"Enrollment is limited to 12, and minority journalists who have been writing opinion less than two years may also apply. NCEW Foundation pays for lodging and food at the Seminar and reimburses up to $200 each for transportation to and from Nashville."


Those interested may apply at www.minoritywritersseminar.org/.

Short Takes

* "Sean Combs, the entertainment impresario known as Diddy, is planning to launch a music-themed cable network, according to three sources with knowledge of his plans," Michael Malone reported Monday for Broadcasting & Cable. "The channel is called Revolt and is aiming to launch at the end of the year — 12/12/12, to be specific. . . . Comcast will provide distribution as part of its commitment to the FCC to help launch minority owned networks."


* Raju Narisetti, the Washington Post managing editor who is leaving to rejoin the Wall Street Journal, told the Poynter Institute's Mallary Jean Tenore that, "Like many traditional media companies, the Post is also finally recognizing that its future will play out at the intersection of Post journalism and technology, in creating great 'experiences' for readers so they are engaged and loyal. And the Post's journey of not treating technology as a mere service function but as a strategic partner to content, something I have flagged and pushed for quite a while, has just begun and in retrospect I wish I had pushed even harder on the front."  In a Jan. 11 meeting with the D.C. chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Narisetti said the Post will likely eliminate about 100 positions in the next two years. He said a tweet quoting him saying that 46 percent of the Post's readership is nonwhite is incorrect, he was referring to data about the Washington area population.

* "Among them, the five men seated around the table have spent 67 years behind bars at San Quentin State Prison," Scott Johnson of the Oakland Tribune wrote on Friday. "Their crimes range from bank robbery to home invasion to making threats, and many things in between. Their ages, ethnic backgrounds, educations and perspectives all differ. But as journalists at the San Quentin News, a newspaper designed and written by prisoners and read by inmates and staff alike, they share a passion for news, learning and writing."


* "Steven Tyler's National Anthem prior to the Ravens-Patriots AFC Championship game has been universally panned," Jason McIntyre wrote Monday for the Big Lead blog. "(We put the screeching video in the roundup this morning, but we'll place it below again for those who missed it.) Perhaps one of Tyler's most vocal critics was Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock, who tweeted, 'Steven Tyler far more obscene than Janet Jackson's titty.' Overnight, word must have gotten back to Tyler — or he saw it on TMZ — because his publicist is on a rampage trying to get Whitlock to apologize. Whitlock told me no apology is coming."

* "Geraldo Rivera's impending arrival on the Los Angeles airwaves has been rumored for quite some time, but never officially confirmed," Matthew Fleischer wrote Friday for FishbowlLA. "Well, now it's official. Starting January 30th, Geraldo will host an original, non-syndicated LA show on KABC [790's] 10-noon slot." Rivera will remain in New York.


* "René Marsh has joined CNN Newsource as a national correspondent, CNN vice president of news operations, administration and affiliate services Paul Crum announced this morning," TVNewser reported. "Marsh joins the affiliate service from WSVN, the Sunbeam-owned Fox affiliate in Miami, where she was a general assignment reporter." 

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

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