What Happened to Our Debate Questions?

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Concerns of Journalists of Color Missing Again

The verdict is in on Thursday's vice presidential debate: Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his Republican challenger, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., both advanced their candidacies, and moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News "won" the debate, some commentators said, with her forceful but tactful questioning.


Nielsen, the television ratings company, estimated Friday that 51.4 million viewers watched at home on one of the 12 rated networks that showed the debate, Brian Stelter reported Friday for the New York Times. That's fewer than the Oct. 3 presidential debate or the vice presidential matchup in 2008 between Biden and Republican Sarah Palin, yet still sizable.

But what happened to the questions about topics of particular concern to people of color?


In the 90 minutes of discussion Thursday, it seemed once again that no concerns surfaced that had been forwarded from the journalist of color associations. They submitted questions to the Commission on Presidential Debates that were to be passed to Jim Lehrer of PBS, who moderated the Oct. 3 presidential debate, and to Raddatz.

"It is disappointing to see that the questions submitted by The National Association of Hispanic Journalists and its Unity partners have not been chosen by the moderators appointed by the Commission on Presidential Debates," Hugo Balta, NAHJ president, told Journal-isms Friday by email.

"While it was never promised by the CPD — I'm still hopeful. Mike McCurry, [co-chair] of the CPD only promised to present the questions to the moderators. It would be a missed opportunity by the moderators and telling of their sensibility if none of the questions would be used.

"Regardless of the outcome, NAHJ is committed to working with the CPD and media companies in ensuring that the list of experienced Latino candidates in 2016 is more robust than what it has been in 2012."


The National Association of Black Journalists' suggested topics were unemployment and the economy, particularly black joblessness; the Affordable Health Care Act; education; crime and law enforcement, specifically the stop-and-frisk laws; and the nation's changing demographics. The questions from the Hispanic and Asian American journalists associations emphasized immigration and jobs and those from the Native American journalists were specific to American Indians.

The next presidential debate is scheduled Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., moderated by Candy Crowley, chief political correspondent for CNN and anchor of CNN's "State of the Union." The debate's town hall format means that most if not all of the questions will come from audience members, not the moderator.


The final debate takes place Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., moderated by Bob Schieffer, chief Washington correspondent for CBS News and moderator of "Face the Nation." Its focus is foreign policy.

"I'm sure he's generated his own questions," Kylie Atwood, Schieffer's executive assistant, told Journal-isms by telephone on Friday, "directly from what he's created from the news cycles over the past few weeks. He's looked at everything that comes through" from the Commission on Presidential Debates.


It could not determined whether the moderators actually received the questions from the journalists of color associations, compiled after the groups complained that no moderators of color were chosen. There is no guarantee that the moderators would ask them anyway. "When you're there, and you're in the moment, you have to go with what's happening," Raddatz said in a post-debate interview Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America." The hot topics Thursday were tax plans, Medicare, the deficit and Afghanistan.

Keli Goff wrote Friday on theRoot.com, "To be clear, while there were two clear victors tonight — Raddatz and Biden — Ryan wasn't really the biggest loser. People of color and the poor were.


"Yes, the words 'poor' and 'poverty' were actually mentioned tonight — an improvement over the last debate. (Interestingly, they were mentioned by Paul Ryan while the vice president referred to, 'people like my parents' and similar phrases to denote the working class.) But, there was little substantive discussion of how to help those in poverty move up, or even survive, while the middle class received a number of mentions. Ryan gets credit for referencing the fact that 'fifteen percent of Americans are in poverty' but what do we do to help them? Neither candidate addressed that satisfactorily.

"It's an omission that is especially relevant to communities of color, where poverty has a greater impact and the income disparity with whites is persistent. . . .


"I previously speculated about the questions I thought a black debate moderator might ask, something about which I can only speculate because there will not be one this election season. While I applaud Martha Raddatz's performance for the most part, the vice presidential debate served as a powerful reminder that the diversity of moderators can affect the diversity of the policy topics discussed in a debate. For instance, in this debate there was a question specifically relating to women, when Raddatz asked about abortion, thus sparking a conversation about it and contraception.)"

Mark Trahant, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Idaho and board chairman of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, wrote Friday for the Indian Country Today Media Network, "On Twitter, @JustinLepscier posted: 'Thank you @PaulRyanVP for supporting our troops and taking time to talk with a Menominee in Afghanistan! #ProudMenominee.' However @Astronomommy wrote, 'Menominee County (which is also a reservation) always votes Democratic. #funfact.


"Others immediately asked how Ryan could talk about Menominee while cutting programs critical to Indian country.

"But while Native American issues were not a direct part of the debate there were many issues that popped up that are significant to Indian country.


"Biden said the next president could appoint as many as four or five judges to the Supreme Court. His context was the abortion issue and the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade. But I immediately thought of a federal court system that has no representation from Indian country at any level."

Only 77% of Registered Latinos Say They're Sure to Vote

"Latino registered voters prefer President Barack Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 69% to 21% and express growing satisfaction with the direction of the nation and the state of their personal finances but are somewhat less certain than non-Hispanics that they will vote in this election, according to a new nationwide survey of 1,765 Latinos," Mark Hugo Lopez and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera of the Pew Hispanic Center wrote on Thursday. "The survey was conducted from September 7 to October 4, 2012, by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.


". . . With the turnout rate of eligible Latinos voters historically lagging behind that of other groups, the new survey finds that 77% of Latino registered voters say they are 'absolutely certain' they will vote this year. By comparison, 89% of all registered voters say the same in a separate Pew Research Center survey . . . of the general public taken at the same time.

"Likewise, 61% of Latino registered voters say they have thought 'quite a lot' about the upcoming presidential election, compared with 70% of registered voters in the general public.


"At the same time, however, fully two-thirds (67%) of Latino adults say they believe the Latino vote will have a 'major impact' on determining who wins this year's election."

Zaheer Ali, Islamic Monthly: Obama: Win or Lose: The Case for Barack Obama

Chris Ariens, TVNewser: VP Debate Ratings: Fox News Tops Networks, Beats Combined Viewership of MSNBC, CNN


Associated Press: Fact-checking the vice presidential debate

David Bauder, Associated Press: Forceful Raddatz draws praise as moderator

Andrew Beaujon, Poynter Institute: Joe Biden's use of 'malarkey' renews attention to the word's origin


Michael Calderone, Huffington Post: Mitt Romney Makes Play For Newspaper Endorsements In Battleground States

Ryan Chittum, Columbia Journalism Review: A Web survey isn't a poll, CNBC

Michael Cottman, Blackamericaweb.com: ANALYSIS: Biden Brought His A-Game

Eric Deggans, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times: ABC's Martha Raddatz earns praise, a few snipes, for commanding debate performance


Ben Dimiero, Media Matters for America: Right-Wing Media Hype Unscientific Online Poll To Declare Ryan Debate Winner

Ben Dimiero & Simon Maloy, Media Matters for America: Jennifer Rubin Can't Believe Conservatives Want To "Make White People Fear Obama"


William Douglas and Anita Kumar, McClatchy Newspapers: In a blur of facts, VP debate strained the truth

Daniel Garza, Fox News Latino: VP Debate Delivered, But Bad Biden Manners Unbridled


Editorial, New York Times: A Debate With Clarity and Fervor

Editorial, San Francisco Chronicle: Night of vinegar and grins at debate

Editorial, Wall Street Journal: The Bully vs. the Wonk

Editorial, Washington Post: The Biden-Ryan show: Good TV but a dull debate

Paul Farhi, Washington Post: As debate moderators, will women get more respect? (Oct. 10)


Peter Hart, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Factchecking the Debate Moderator 

Rick Horowitz, YouTube: Romney Grabs a Lifeboat (Oct. 9)

The Huffington Post: How Newspapers Covered Joe Biden-Paul Ryan Debate

Jason Johnson, politic365.com: VP Debate: Three Big Thoughts on Biden Ryan

Gregory Kane, BlackAmericaWeb.com: A Message to Stacey Dash Haters

Merrill Knox, TVSpy: CNN's Candy Crowley Talks to WHNT About Moderating the Next Presidential Debate


Latina Lista blog: Latino voters have a common fault with President Obama

Latina Lista blog: For Latino voters, presidential debates won't decide the election


Suevon Lee, ProPublica: Big Bird Debate: How Much Does Federal Funding Matter to Public Broadcasting?

Trymaine Lee, Huffington Post: States Deny Millions Of Ex-Felons Voting Rights

Julianne Malveaux, syndicated: A Listless Obama is Still Better than Romney

Jack Mirkinson and Katherine Fung, Huffington Post: Martha Raddatz Debate Moderating Draws Praise: 'Killing It,' 'Way Better' Than Lehrer


Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: The Debate 'Rope-a-Dope,' They Hope

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: Deep Divisions over Debt Reduction Proposals


New York Times: Vice-Presidential Debate Fact-Checks and Updates

Steve Rendall, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Debate Deceptions Are a Time-Tested GOP Strategy


Rem Rieder, American Journalism Review: Hitting It Out of the Park: Martha Raddatz's bravura performance as a debate moderator

Mychal Denzel Smith, theGrio.com: Black GOP opportunism: Why Stacey Dash's Romney endorsement struck a chord


Jay Smooth video: Ill Doctrine: What Is the Polite Way to Tell Mitt Romney's Family That We Think He's a Weirdo? (Sept. 28)

The Star, Nairobi, Kenya: Kenyan media to sponsor US-style presidential debate

Elon James White, theRoot.com: White Privilege, Joe Biden Style

The National Association of Black Journalists issued this news release Friday:

NABJ to Honor Columnist Richard Prince With the Ida B. Wells Award

Award will be presented at NABJ's Hall of Fame Gala,
Jan. 17 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON (October 12, 2012) — The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) announced today that Richard Prince, columnist for the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, will receive the prestigious Ida B. Wells Award. The annual honor is given to an individual who has made outstanding efforts to make newsrooms and news coverage more accurately reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.


Prince will be honored on January 17, 2013, at NABJ's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

He is being recognized for his efforts championing diversity in journalism. For 10 years online, he has authored the popular "Journal-isms" column, which covers issues of diversity within the news industry. Previous recipients include: Steve Capus of NBC News; Reggie Stuart of Knight Ridder; Paula Madison of NBC Universal; and Walterene Swanston of NPR.


"NABJ is proud to honor Richard with the Ida B. Wells Award. He is the epitome of someone who speaks truth to power. His columns remind news executives, news managers, reporters, and producers of the importance of being sensitive to issues of diversity and our responsibility to be inclusive in our coverage," said NABJ President Gregory Lee Jr. "Dick is a watchdog whose consistency and watchful eye we all rely upon in his reporting. You can be sure what is read in one of his columns will spark a conversation and more importantly lead to some sort of action."

The Ida B. Wells Award is named in honor of the distinguished journalist, fearless reporter and wife of one of America's earliest black publishers.


Prince recently told the story of "Journal-isms" origins to MediaBistro saying it, "began in the early 1990s as a print column for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) newspaper, which is now a magazine, called the NABJ Journal. I was co-editor of that, and we had a column that we created to sort of be a repository for all the stuff that couldn't be a complete story. We called it "Journal-isms" after the name of the publication."

His devotion to equity and justice was likely inspired in part by his own career in journalism. In 1972 Prince and six other African-American journalists, then working at The Washington Post, filed a grievance with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The group, which came to be known as the Metro Seven, alleged the paper failed to provide black journalists with equal opportunity to assignments and promotion.


Prince later served as assistant metro editor, assistant news editor, editorial writer and columnist, and finally as the editor of the opinions-and-editorials at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. He would later return to The Post as a part-time copy editor.

He also has distinguished himself in service to the industry as the former chair of NABJ's Media Monitoring Committee, and as Diversity Chair for the Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly the National Conference of Editorial Writers.


Prince will accept his honor, along with NABJ's 2013 Hall of Fame honorees: Betty Winston Bayé, longtime columnist, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.); Simeon Booker, the first black reporter, The Washington Post and Washington Bureau Chief, Jet Magazine; Alice Dunnigan, the first black woman credentialed to cover The White House, The State Department, and Congress (posthumous); Sue Simmons, longtime anchorwoman, WNBC-TV; Wendell Smith, legendary sportswriter, who helped desegregate baseball (posthumous); and Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer-Winning columnist, The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C. NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation and provides educational, career development and support to black journalists worldwide.


Vanity Fair Says "No" to Janet Jackson on Retraction

Vanity Fair has rejected a request from singer-actress Janet Jackson to retract an article about her late brother, Michael Jackson, scheduled for the November issue.


"Vanity Fair has no basis to reconsider what was written in the magazine's excerpt of Randall Sullivan's book, 'Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson,' Vanity Fair spokeswoman Beth Kseniak told Journal-isms by email on Friday.

"Vanity Fair felt the proverbial whip of Janet Jackson's lawyer, who sent the magazine a scathing letter demanding a retraction of an article that will run in the November 2012 issue," Rahim Ali wrote Wednesday for bet.com.


"The piece was an excerpt from Randall Sullivan's upcoming book, Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson. In the book, the author claims Janet, 46, delayed her brother Michael Jackson's funeral until she was reimbursed for her $40,000 deposit to secure his plot.

"Michael Jackson was buried on September 3, 2009 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, more than two months after his death.


"Blair G. Brown, Janet's attorney, sent Vanity Fair's Editor-in-Chief Graydon Carter a letter stating the story was 'false and defamatory.' . . ."

Natalie Finn reported Tuesday for E! that ". . . a slight correction is in the works.


" 'Vanity Fair stands by Randall Sullivan's assertion that Janet Jackson's demand to be reimbursed for her deposit on her brother's burial plot was one of the reasons Michael Jackson's funeral was delayed,' the publication said in a statement to E! News. 'Sullivan's sources told him that the amount of the deposit was $40,000, but records released last week indicate that the amount of the deposit was $49,000. Vanity Fair will make that correction on VF.com.' "

"Today" Suffers After Unpleasant Exit of Ann Curry

"Susan Wurtzel owns a 'Today' show T-shirt and a mug. When the stay-at-home mom and her family visited New York from their home in Germantown, Md., they joined the crowd of fans outside the NBC morning show's Rockefeller Center studio," David Bauder wrote Thursday for the Associated Press.


"Now, after more than 20 years as a regular 'Today' viewer, Wurtzel tunes to CBS most mornings.

"Multiply such defections and you have the chief reason for television's changing fortunes in morning news, where ABC's 'Good Morning America' has ended NBC's epic 17-year winning streak on 'Today.' ABC is growing — 'GMA' has 110,000 more viewers each day this year than last — but not as much as NBC is slipping (437,000 viewers a day since last year).


"Wurtzel, 57, left last spring because of 'Today' co-host Ann Curry.

" 'Ann's interview style was like chalk on a board to me,' she said. 'She leaned toward her interviewee and whispered her questions like someone had died. The more serious the interview, the quieter she got. When she replaced Meredith (Vieira), I tried to adjust and accept, but she just didn't work for me. Katie (Couric) and Meredith were relatable, empathetic and funny. Ann just seemed out of place.'


"Executives at NBC were quietly reaching the same conclusion and moved to replace Curry with Savannah Guthrie.

"Then came June 28, 2012, Curry's last day as co-host. She cried in bewilderment at her perceived failure at losing the job she had sought for years, as her uncomfortable co-workers and a nation looked on.


"Suddenly, a problem for NBC became a BIG problem. Even people who didn't particularly like Curry loathed the way she was dispatched. Except for two weeks during the Olympics, 'Today' hasn't sniffed first place in the ratings since. . . .

ImpreMedia to Add to Newspaper Staff, English Content

Francisco Seghezzo, COO of impreMedia, the nation's largest Spanish-language newspaper chain, told Veronica Villafañe of Media Moves Friday that the company had increased the circulation of Los Angeles-based La Opinión by 3,500 copies daily since it was acquired more than six months ago by Argentina's La Nación newspaper company.


Other impreMedia products include La Raza in Chicago, La Prensa in Orlando, Rumbo in Houston, El Mensajero in San Francisco, El Diario in New York and Vista magazine.

". . . We plan to add personnel to our newsrooms," Seghezzo added. "We're going to add 3 to 5 people in each paper and in our digital content department.


". . . Down the line, we plan to launch some products that will accompany the paper, like special [collectible] sections that could be bilingual. But they would be written in English and Spanish — they wouldn’t be translations. The same goes for online. The websites would be in both languages — and not simple translations, because that doesn't work."

Despite Danger, Somalis Pursue Journalism Passion

"With three months remaining in the year, the Committee to Protect Journalists has already declared 2012 as the deadliest year ever for Somali journalists," Roopa Gogineni reported from Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday for the Voice of America. "Despite the danger, young Somali refugees flock to a journalism school in Eastleigh, an eastern suburb of Nairobi.


"On the eighth floor of the Binali hotel in Nairobi, journalists gather to honor six of their colleagues killed in Mogadishu in just eight days in late September.

"Mohamed Osman, chairman of the Somali Exiled Journalists Association, organized the event.


". . . Despite the risks, journalism is still a popular profession among young Somalis.

"Two years ago Osman opened the Al-Imra Institute of Languages and Journalism to train young Somali refugees.


"Abdiladiif, 22, is one of Osman's 30 students. Born in Mogadishu, he arrived in Nairobi one year ago as a refugee. Everyday he now attends Kiswahili, English and journalism classes.

" 'Journalism is my passion and I have always dreamt about it so I will not stop,' he said. 'I believe that whether I am in Somalia or in a safer place, still death will meet me. So I will still move on. It is unfortunate that heinous acts of violence are leveled against journalists. But still I want continue with my studies, the future holds a lot for me.' . . ."


Roopa Gogineni, Al Jazeera: Threats fail to deter young Somali reporters (Oct. 13)

Short Takes

"Dear Readers," John de Rosier, editorial cartoonist at the Times Union in Albany, N.Y., wrote Friday. "For nearly thirteen years, it has been my privilege to comment on the news as the editorial cartoonist for the Times Union. Due to layoff, my tenure here has come to an end. Thank you all for reading, for your comments pro and con, for keeping me on my toes, and for reminding me daily that my opinion is not the only one worth hearing. Farewell."


"ABC's Robin Roberts has come home from the hospital three weeks after undergoing a bone marrow transplant," the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

Jack Welch, former General Electric Co. chief executive officer, "has quit writing for Fortune and Reuters after the news outlets piled on him for suggesting that the Obama administration cooked the monthly jobs report for political gain," Lucia Moses reported Tuesday for adweek.com.


". . . I really must take umbrage at the idea that a well edited, error free Black newspaper is some sort of anomaly, or some dinosaur to be studied only in some museum after it's long dead," veteran journalist Askia Muhammad wrote Wednesday in an "Open Letter to the National Association of Black Journalists." " . . . for a group of Black journalists such as NABJ to routinely harbor the self-hating notion that the Black newspaper industry is inferior goes back to the days of the founding of this organization, and this kind of snobbery is why there are not more NABJ members from among the legions of writers in The Black Press."

"For 438 days, two Swedish freelance journalists were locked up in Ethiopian prisons for illegally entering the country and committing acts of terrorism," Ryan Kohls, who interviewed them, wrote Friday for the Poynter Institute. Asked whether the experience changed their perceptions of journalism, Martin Schibbye said, "I dragged my wife through hell for 14 months, but as a journalist I now have tools I didn't have before. I now understand people I have interviewed because I have experienced similar situations. I now know what it's like to live in a country and be afraid to think and write; you start to cripple intellectually."


"Univision Communications on Monday plans to introduce its new bilingual online network UVideos, which will provide on demand programming and a social TV experience on a variety of devices," Jon Lafayette wrote Thursday for Broadcasting & Cable. "The site switches from Spanish to English, depending on the [user's] preference."

In India, "The government of the western state of Maharashtra today withdrew the sedition charges it had brought against the well-known cartoonist Aseem Trivedi. Reporters Without Borders welcomes the decision, which it had been demanding since the start of the case," Reporters Without Borders said on Friday.


Follow Richard Prince on Twitter.

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

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

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