People receive medical kits from the International Red Cross to aid in the prevention of cholera Feb. 11, 2011, in a city tent in Delmas, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 
Thony Belizaire/Getty Images 

Red Cross Slammed in NPR-ProPublica Investigation

"When a devastating earthquake leveled Haiti in 2010, millions of people donated to the American Red Cross. The charity raised almost half a billion dollars. It was one of its most successful fundraising efforts ever," Laura Sullivan reported for NPR on Wednesday.

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"The American Red Cross vowed to help Haitians rebuild, but after five years the Red Cross' legacy in Haiti is not new roads, or schools, or hundreds of new homes. It's difficult to know where all the money went.

"NPR and ProPublica went in search of the nearly $500 million and found a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success, according to a review of hundreds of pages of the charity's internal documents and emails, as well as interviews with a dozen current and former officials.

"The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people, but the number of permanent homes the charity has built is six.

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"The Red Cross long has been known for providing emergency disaster relief — food, blankets and shelter to people in need. And after the earthquake, it did that work in Haiti, too. But the Red Cross has very little experience in the difficult work of rebuilding in a developing country.

"The organization, which in 2010 had a $100 million deficit, out-raised other charities by hundreds of millions of dollars — and kept raising money well after it had enough for its emergency relief. But where exactly did that money go?

"Ask a lot of Haitians — even the country's former prime minister — and they will tell you they don't have any idea. . . ."

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In a version of the story for ProPublica, Sullivan and Justin Elliott of ProPublica wrote, "The group has publicly celebrated its work. But in fact, the Red Cross has repeatedly failed on the ground in Haiti.

"Confidential memos, emails from worried top officers, and accounts of a dozen frustrated and disappointed insiders show the charity has broken promises, squandered donations, and made dubious claims of success. The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people. But the actual number of permanent homes the group has built in all of Haiti: six.

Elliott and Sullivan also wrote, "In statements, the Red Cross cited the challenges all groups have faced in post-quake Haiti, including the country’s dysfunctional land title system.

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"Like many humanitarian organizations responding in Haiti, the American Red Cross met complications in relation to government coordination delays, disputes over land ownership, delays at Haitian customs, challenges finding qualified staff who were in short supply and high demand, and the cholera outbreak, among other challenges," the charity said.

"The group said it responded quickly to internal concerns, including hiring an expert to train staff on cultural competency" after a memo from the then-director of the Haiti program, Judith St. Fort, complained that senior managers had made "very disturbing" remarks disparaging Haitian employees.

"While the group won't provide a breakdown of its projects, the Red Cross said it has done more than 100. The projects include repairing 4,000 homes, giving several thousand families temporary shelters, donating $44 million for food after the earthquake, and helping fund the construction of a hospital. . . ."

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Inmate to Be Freed After Stories on "Dirty Cop"

"A Brooklyn man who spent the past 27 years behind bars on a double-homicide conviction could be free by the end of the week," Denis Slattery reported Thursday for the Daily News in New York.

"The Brooklyn district attorney has decided not to retry or appeal the case of Shabaka Shakur, who was granted a new trial Tuesday due to disgraced ex-NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella's involvement in the case. . . ."

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The judge's ruling Tuesday followed a review of the detective's cases "after The New York Times reported on problems in his work," Stephanie Clifford reported for the Times.

"In a decision released on Tuesday, a judge ordered a new trial for Shabaka Shakur, a man serving two consecutive terms of 20 years to life for a 1988 double homicide in Brooklyn," Clifford reported.

"Mr. Shakur, now 50, had been among the first people to allege misconduct by a retired police detective, Louis Scarcella, who said he took a statement from Mr. Shakur implicating himself in the murders. Mr. Shakur has said in court filings over the years that he gave no such confession to Mr. Scarcella."

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Clifford also wrote, "In his decision, Justice Desmond A. Green of State Supreme Court said there was 'a reasonable probability that the alleged confession of defendant was indeed fabricated.' Mr. Scarcella's account of how he obtained Mr. Shakur's confession, given last year at a hearing challenging Mr. Shakur's convictions, 'is particularly troubling and causes serious doubts,' the judge wrote. . . ."

Frances Robles, who joined the Times in 2013 after 19 years at the Miami Herald, wrote the bulk of the stories about Scarcella. The judge's ruling in the Shakur case raises to six the number of murder convictions overturned that are linked to Scarcella and to Robles' reports. "Plus a seventh who I did not investigate but was helped by publicity," Robles added by email.  "An eighth got parole when he probably would not have otherwise.

Robles messaged Journal-isms that "one of the defendants who was cleared, who was my original source, told me once [for an unrelated story] that he had been telling reporters about Scarcella for 20 years. That always struck me as an important point about the need for diversity in the newsroom. Who do reporters listen to, who do we consider sources? What do we consider newsworthy?"

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Meanwhile, the Trice Edney News Wire, which serves the black press, distributed the first of a 25-part weekly op-ed series by members of the Civil Rights Coalition on Police Reform, led by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The essay, "How Many More Will We Mourn?" was written by Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP.

"The series is intended to provide insight on necessary reforms to change the culture of policing in America," the news wire said. [Updated June 4]

Andrew Beaujon, Washingtonian: Why Does Everyone Want Wesley Lowery to Shut Up?

Patrick Cooley, Northeast Ohio Media Group: Fight at Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo's residence led to his arrest, police say

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Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Rising Body Count In Baltimore Proves We Have To Face Our Own Problems

Mensah M. Dean, Philadelphia Daily News: Why does Philly have so few black police recruits?

Editorial, Baltimore Sun: Baltimore's deadly May [accessible via search engine.]

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Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: More training and police consolidation would improve racial profiling stats

Editorial, Washington Post: A better way to hold police officers accountable

Brad Hamilton, New York Post: Meet 7 people freed after DA reviews scandal-plagued cop's cases (April 26)

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Ricardo A. Hazell, the Shadow League: Corrupted and Complacent Law Enforcement: The Sword of White Supremacy?

Jazelle Hunt, National Newspaper Publishers Association: A Push to Address Black-on-Black Violence

Allen Johnson, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.: Not quite a love letter from Summerfield to Baltimore

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Ida Lieszkovszky, Northeast Ohio Media Group: Sheriff's department hands over investigation into Tamir Rice shooting to County Prosecutor

David A. Love, theGrio: Dirty ex-cop Louis Scarcella's framing of innocent black men is costing NYC millions (Jan. 14)

Matthew McKnight, the New Yorker: Darker Than Blue: Policing While Black in N.Y.C.

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Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Paying Cleveland to not riot would be worse than a riot

James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: A new era of police accountability is all for the public good

Frances Robles, New York Times: Judge to Hear Accusations Against Police by an Inmate (July 5, 2013)

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Albert Samaha, Village Voice: The Tragedy of Louis Scarcella (Aug. 5, 2014)

Kirsten West Savali, The Root: Throw Away the Script: How Media Bias Is Killing Black America

Nico Savidge, Wisconsin State Journal: Madison police exonerate officer in Tony Robinson shooting (June 4)

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Journalists Have Proved Fickle In Reporting on Obama

"Departing Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer saved the best for last: In an interview aired yesterday on a competing Sunday show, Howard Kurtz’s Media Buzz on Fox News Channel, he conceded that the awe-struck press had given Barack Obama an easy ride in his 2008 presidential campaign and perhaps beyond," Jack Shafer wrote Monday for Politico Magazine.

" 'I think the whole political world was struck by this fella who sort of came out of nowhere with this very unusual name and when he won out in Iowa, I think people sat up and took notice,' Schieffer said. 'Maybe we were not skeptical enough.'

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"Two other notable names reached Schieffer's assessment early in the 2008 campaign. In a February primary debate, Hillary Clinton complained the press was favoring Obama. Citing a recent Saturday Night Live skit, Clinton quipped, 'Maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow.' John McCain's campaign similarly called foul during the general election, alleging an Obama-press romance.

"Like any multi-headed beast, the press can fall in love, but its love is difficult to measure and tends toward the fickle. . . ."

Shafer also wrote, "In late 2011, as Obama's reelection campaign began, the press corps had ended its fling: Every Republican candidate was getting more positive news coverage than Obama (running unopposed in his party), and only one, Newt Gingrich, was receiving more negative coverage. The Pew [Research Center]-measured trend continued into April 2012. By the end of the 2012 campaign, candidates Obama and Mitt Romney had comparable positive and negative coverage numbers, says Pew.

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"We shouldn't make too much of the negative numbers. They don't and can't capture a precise measure of the press corps' mood or prove bias. As the Pew people point out, if a dozen Republican presidential candidates are throwing mud at single Democratic presidential candidate, the Democrat's negative score will necessarily soar as journalists report the attacks out. For another thing, the press isn't a monolith and rarely runs in a single pack. More often, it's composed of warring packs, each with a separate sense of news.

"The Obama numbers do, however, suggest that campaign reporters tend to give more positive coverage to presidential candidates with that new-car smell (Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, et al.) than it does to candidates with an excess of miles on them (Hillary Clinton, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee). The high-mileage candidates, having been in the arena longer and having generated bigger paper trails, almost always make better subjects for negative stories. And as a rule, journalists prefer a negative story over a positive one any day.

"The media's 'Obama swoon' — if that's what you want to call it—may have been a once-in-a-century media event. A story like his had never been told before by the campaign press, his face was fresh, there were almost no skeletons in his closet, and the reading public was as mesmerized by him as the press. But once he became president, the specialness washed off and the spell was broken.

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"By September 2013, POLITICO's Dylan Byers was already diagnosing the end of the Obama press swoon with a round-up of negative coverage of the president.

"I told you journalists were fickle."

Greg Jaffe, Washington Post: Obama's new patriotism: How Obama has used his presidency to redefine 'American exceptionalism' 

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Niall Stanage, the Hill: Republicans seek to win over black voters once Obama’s gone

Huffington Post Future Uncertain After AOL Sale to Verizon

Verizon executives have said that the primary reason for their $4.4 billion takeover of AOL last month was AOL's advertising technology, so it is not completely clear what they might want with the AOL-owned Huffington Post and how a relationship between them might work, Ravi Somaiya reported Tuesday for the New York Times.

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"It also is unclear whether the famously independent [editor and founder Arianna] Huffington will be comfortable operating within Verizon. Her contract expired this year, and she has yet to sign a new one, which raises the prospect of a Huffington Post without a Huffington.

"In a memo she sent to the site’s leadership last week, she outlined ambitious plans. The Huffington Post will try to grow globally and expand its video operation, she said, and add to its network of unpaid bloggers, replace wire service articles with original reporting and increase comedy and lifestyle offerings.

"It might even make acquisitions of its own, according to a copy of the memo obtained by The New York Times. But Ms. Huffington has told friends, according to a person with knowledge of the conversations, that she is not yet sure that those plans can be executed under Verizon.

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"The quandary has left the site in a kind of limbo as each side prepares for the close of the deal, expected next month. AOL and Verizon executives, including the Verizon chief executive, Lowell C. McAdam, were meeting this week to discuss a range of issues, the future of The Huffington Post among them. . . ."

Among the sections of the Huffington Post site are HuffPost BlackVoices and HuffPost LatinoVoices. HuffPost BlackVoices drew 2,255,000 unique visitors for 2014, according to the comScore, Inc., research company.

Story of Mystery Photo Was Hiding in Plain Sight

"The solution to the 'mystery' in a newly found Gordon Parks photograph was hiding in plain sight," Stephen A. Berrey, author of "The Jim Crow Routine: Everyday performances of race, civil rights, and segregation in Mississippi," wrote Tuesday for the Daily News in New York.

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"The photograph is from 1956. A black woman and a white woman are sitting — with a seat between them — in a segregated area of the Atlanta airport. The white woman is wearing a black dress and an elegant black hat. Her makeup has been carefully applied and a turquoise necklace frames her neck. The black woman has on no jewelry and appears to have on no makeup. She is wearing a maid's uniform and holding a white baby in her arms.

"This photograph, taken by African American Gordon Parks for a Life magazine project, was recently uncovered in Parks's materials. Since then, it has enthralled viewers across the country. The New York Times highlighted it in two stories, including one in which photographer James Estrin asks readers to solve the 'mystery' in what he calls the 'unusual, intimate' photo by identifying the women in it. . . ."

Berrey, who teaches American culture and history at the University of Michigan, went on to outline the protocols of Jim Crow, which put whites and blacks in close proximity but maintained a relationship in which whites were dominant.

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"Throughout the segregation era in the South, interracial intimacy — woven into law, custom and myth — did important work for Jim Crow. With regular displays of interracial intimacy, white Southerners could more easily overlook the oppression of a system marked by disfranchisement, discrimination, lynching, and assault. They could convince themselves that the real world was one where black people happily waited on white people, and where black maids lovingly embraced white infants.

"Gordon Parks's 1956 photograph captures this intimacy. His image depicts a relationship between the races that is neither dramatic nor violent. Indeed, it's the ordinariness of this moment that contains its power. Quietly, these two women and the baby — sitting together — remind us of the mundaneness and the sometimes near-invisibility of racism and white privilege in everyday life."

App Would Reveal How Many Women Lead Product's Parent 

A company that plans to create a multimedia research tool and web app to let consumers know the gender makeup of a product's corporate leadership is among the first group of grantees in the inaugural funding round of the Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists, the fund announced on Monday.

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"Nine trailblazing women journalists were selected from a stellar pool of 650 applicants representing media projects based in over 100 countries," it said.

"The World Can be Led Better," announces the Led Better site, the work of one of the winning teams. "That's our thesis, anyway. And we want you to be a part of it.

"About a year ago, Founder Iris Kuo was reading an article in The Washington Post and came across the following quote from Sally Krawcheck, former CEO of Sanford Bernstein: 'I've had numerous groups of women say to me they would stop buying from a company if they understood what their gender makeup was. That information's not available. With technology, people are going to become much smarter consumers, and so there will be pressure coming from different places.' . . ."

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The Buffett Fund explained, "Kuo reports for Argus Media, an international energy wire based in Houston, Texas, and was recently selected as one of 10 2015-2016 Knight-Bagehot fellows at Columbia University. Previously, she led green energy investment coverage for the tech news outlet VentureBeat and reported for The Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong." Kuo's team was awarded $9,500.

Among other grantees, Lily Casura was awarded $19,500 to complete a multimedia project examining homeless female veterans in the United States, Priyanka Dubey won a $1,800 grant to help her complete a book on the crisis of rape in India; Rahima Gambo was granted $8,400 to pursue a multimedia web project about students in Northeastern Nigeria, who have been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency; and Alice Su won a $3,000 grant to complete Hostile Environments & Emergency First-Aid Training.

Cubans Learn U.S.-Style Journalism, Risk Wrath

"About 30 Cubans sit in a conference room for several hours each week and learn the ABCs of journalism: how to craft a news story, write a headline and check sources," Ben Fox reported Wednesday from Havana for the Associated Press.

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"To their government, however, they are taking part in criminal activity.

"It's not just that they are studying journalism in a country where the mass media is controlled by the state, but how and where they are doing it: inside the U.S. Interests Section, the heavily guarded outpost of a government that has spent decades trying to undermine Cuba's communist government.

"Cubans take the courses in independent journalism, led by U.S. professors via video link, knowing full well that they risk harassment or even arrest.

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" 'These courses are a very good opportunity for us, for those who don't have any resources, who don't have work, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that,' said Eleyn Ponjuan, a 19-year-old attending the once-a-week sessions.

"The journalism program, which is taught for free along with more popular but less controversial classes in English and information technology, has come under renewed criticism in Cuba amid talks to restore full diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana for the first time in more than 50 years. . . ."

Vernon Jordan Urges Black Journalists to "Stay on the Case"

"Trouble is a-comin' like it used to did," Vernon Jordan said Sunday of the current racial climate, repurposing a statement from a 90-year-old black man in the early days of the civil rights movement. Jordan was speaking at a breakfast in Washington with 24 journalists of color known as the Journalists Roundtable.

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It's important for black journalists to "stay on the case," Jordan said, referring to the plight of African Americans. Jordan is a lawyer, presidential confidant and former civil rights leader whose yearly compensation is in the millions of dollars. He told the group, "Most black people aren't having this kind of breakfast, and don't have the kind of jobs that we are blessed to have." Jordan added, "Somebody laid a hand on me, and that's what we have to do with these young people."

When it was pointed out that leaders of the civil rights era such as Roy Wilkins of the NAACP and Whitney Young Jr. of the National Urban League are unknown to most Americans today, Jordan, 79, added his own anecdotes about people who should have been familiar with the late historian John Hope Franklin, but weren't.

Part of the problem with some in recent generations is that "they somehow believe they got there all by themselves," Jordan said. In addition, preachers "preach from Isaiah, but they don't say anything about what's in the newspapers."

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Stephanie Rochon, Va. Breast Cancer Advocate, Dies at 50

"Longtime WTVR CBS 6 anchor Stephanie Rochon passed away Wednesday after a battle with cancer," Mike BergazziBill Fitzgerald and the Web staff of the Richmond, Va., television station reported Wednesday. "Stephanie was an honored journalist whose broad intellect, natural curiosity and captivating personality opened hearts across Central Virginia."

They also wrote, "Her compassion was evident when she covered the topic she was most passionate about — the fight against breast cancer.

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"Stephanie, whose mother survived breast cancer, used her Buddy Check 6 reports to shine a spotlight on the courageous women and men on the front lines of this battle — the patients, doctors, nurses, family members and their friends. . . ."

Referring to those Buddy Check 6 reports, Michael Paul Williams added in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "The monthly segment spotlighted women on the front lines of the breast cancer battle. Ms. Rochon worked especially hard to reach people in Richmond's underprivileged communities, since black women are more likely to die from the disease than those of other racial and ethnic groups." Williams was quoting Sheryl Barnhouse, WTVR news director.

The station report continued, "In Stephanie’s final Buddy Check 6 report, which was broadcast in August 2014, she told the story of a woman who said her faith was tested when she was diagnosed with cancer. Cancer would soon become Stephanie's cross to bear, the disease took her life just after her 50th birthday. . . ."

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Williams wrote, " Her colleagues were reeling Wednesday at the news of her death. . . ."

Short Takes

"New research by Cynthia Frisby, an associate professor of strategic communication in the University of Missouri School of Journalism, has revealed racial stereotyping in the way media portray athletes," the university reported Tuesday. "Frisby found that media stories on African-American athletes focus primarily on criminal actions while stories about white athletes are overwhelmingly positive. For her study, Frisby examined 155 news articles about male athletes from online and print news sources to determine the theme of each story. . . ."

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"ESPN’s LZ Granderson has joined ABC News as contributor," Lisa de Moraes reported Tuesday for Deadline Hollywood. She quoted a memo from ABC News President James Goldston: "LZ has a unique voice with deep knowledge across a broad spectrum of subjects. From his insightful coverage of Ferguson and the re-election of President Obama to his popular TED Talk, 'Myth of the Gay Agenda,' LZ’s opinion on social issues is sharp, sophisticated and thought provoking. . . ."

"Madhulika Sikka, the executive editor at NPR News, is leaving the organization for Mic, a news site aimed at the so-called millennial generation, the companies announced on Tuesday," Sydney Ember reported Tuesday for the New York Times. "Ms. Sikka will oversee Mic’s newsroom operations in the new post of executive editor. . . ." Sikka, of Indian-British-American background, "is by far the most prominent hire for Mic since its founding in 2011 as PolicyMic, and her move reflects a flood of established journalists heading to digital-only news sites. . . ."

"Eileen Truax, NAHJ Los Angeles member, has been appointed to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Board of Directors to fill the vacant At-Large Spanish officer position," NAHJ President Mekahlo Medina notified members Wednesday. "Truax is an awarded journalist with over 18 years experience in Mexico and the United States. She has served as Mexican Congress correspondent and has covered Mexican Politics, US-Mexico Relations and Immigration issues. . . ."

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"The key to increase black journalists is to expose black children to organizations like the National Association for Black Journalists, or introduce black journalists to fellowship programs, like the METPro program, which recruits black journalists to work at such top-tier papers as the Los Angeles Times or Chicago Tribune, with the hope that the experience will allow them to enter into higher-paying journalism jobs," Jamar Thrasher, of Harrisburg, Pa., a PennLive/Patriot-News opinion columnist, wrote Tuesday. "This exposure will allow black students to know that there is an opportunity for them to make a decent and happy living as a journalist. Black students also need to be encouraged to cultivate their passions. . . ." Thrasher was motivated to write on the subject after hearing April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, speak at an NAACP dinner last week.

Dorothy R. Leavell "is still at the helm of the The Chicago Crusader Newspaper, a community newspaper that has managed to stay relevant for 75 years," Mary Mitchell wrote Monday for the Chicago Sun-Times. Mitchell also wrote, "Leavell served two stints as president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a black newspaper trade organization. Leavell also served as chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation from 2006 to 2011. She’s especially proud that during her term as president of NNPA, the group led a delegation to Nigeria to investigate the Nigerian political crisis. While her decision to intercede in Nigeria sparked controversy, it also raised the organization's international profile. . . ."

"José Morales has resigned as VP of News for WNJU Telemundo 47 in New York," Veronica Villafañe reported Tuesday for her Media Moves site. "His last official day at the station is Friday, June 5. . . ."

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"After more than four years as a reporter and fill-in news anchor at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 in Chicago, Robert Feder reported Wednesday on his Chicago media blog, "Tisha Lewis is leaving to join the Fox station in Washington, D.C. . . ."

"Benét J. Wilson, a former editor at Aviation Week and a board member for the Online News Association, will become editor-in-chief of AllDigitocracy," site founder Tracie Powell announced on Tuesday. "She’ll assume the [reins] later this month, Powell said. . . . " Powell was awarded a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University for the 2015-16 academic year.

Art McFarland, who retired from his decades-long newscaster position at WABC-TV last year, is playing scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois in the late Amiri Baraka's play "Most Dangerous Man in America (W. E. B. Du Bois)," produced and directed by Woodie King Jr. at New York's New Federal Theatre. McFarland is on the New Federal board and trained as an actor before becoming a journalist, Eric Grode wrote May 13 for the New York Times.

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"Fort Worth-based NBC5 is losing one reporter, gaining another," Ed Bark wrote Monday for his Dallas/Fort Worth media blog. "Ray Villeda, who joined the station in October 2011, is moving on up to WNBC-TV in New York City. He grew up in the Big Apple. 'It's official!' Villeda tweeted. 'Couldn’t be more grateful for the amazing people and incredible stories I've been able to tell.' . . ."  The station gains Meredith Yeomans, who started on May 18 after working at KTEN-TV in Denison, Texas, since December 2012. 

Joseph Michael "Mike" Wilson, known to sports reporters through his roles in sports information at universities and in marketing and public relations for the U.S. Olympic Committee, died at 51 on Monday as the result of a crash on Route 50 in Hebron, Md., according to Maryland State Police, Vanessa Junkin reported Wednesday for DelmarvaNow.

Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday that it is "relieved by Mayan journalist and activist Pedro Canché's release after nearly nine months in prison [in Mexico] and hails the judicial decision that freed him. A court in Cancún, in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo, ordered his release on the night of 28 May after ruling that his continuing detention violated his rights in the absence of evidence against him. . . ."

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"Zimbabwe has reacted angrily to Nigerian journalists who ambushed President Robert Mugabe during last week's inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria's president," the Nigerian newspaper ThisDay reported on Wednesday. "Journalists identified as reporters from Sahara Reporters . . . . demanded to know from the 91-year-old leader, who has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, when he would step down and [hand over] power to a democratically elected successor after more than three decades in power. However, Harare has hit back, with outspoken Minister of Information, Prof. Jonathan Moyo, likening the journalists in question to 'brothers and sisters of Boko Haram.' . . ."