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Diversity at Top of PBS News Operation

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November 7, 2014

Marie Nelson named VP of news, public affairs; In "Pointergate"; station sees mayor's gesture as gang sign; Hispanics remain Democratic, but Republicans make gains; Sharpton meets with Obama the day after Democratic losses; Michelle Tan named editor in chief of Seventeen; ESPN to air special on domestic violence; Central African Republic is world's forgotten crisis; exception taken to Jill Abramson remarks on women of color (11/7/14)

Marie Nelson Named VP of News, Public Affairs

In "Pointergate," Station Sees Mayor's Gesture as Gang Sign

Hispanics Remain Democratic, but Republicans Make Gains

Sharpton Meets With Obama the Day After Democratic Losses

Michelle Tan Named Editor in Chief of Seventeen

ESPN to Air Special on Domestic Violence

Central African Republic Is World's Forgotten Crisis

Exception Taken to Abramson Remarks on Women of Color

At last weekend's Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS), Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times, defended Times television critic Alessandra Stanley, who ignited a furor in September when she labeled television producer Shonda Rhimes an "angry black woman."

Asked about racial diversity, Abramson said she chose Dean Baquet, who is African American and now executive editor, as her managing editor. She also said retention was a problem, citing Lynette Clemetson, who left the Times in 2007 to become founding managing editor of The Root.

Those comments did not sit well with Tracie Powell, who asked Friday in a headline on her alldigitocracy.org, "Is Jill Abramson right about it being harder to retain women journalists of color than to recruit them?"

Powell wrote, "Abramson's comments at the JAWS Conference fail to paint a complete picture of what's happening in U.S. newsrooms when it comes to women of color. What she didn't say is that women of color are losing ground in the news media. It's not that we choose to leave, oftentimes we can't even get a foot in the door."

Powell went on to quote Dori J. Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. "And if we do, as Maynard said, we're often made to feel as if our voices aren't valued and our stories aren't stories. Abramson proved that, once again, at the JAWS conference when she defended Alessandra Stanley. . . ."

Powell also wrote, "For those who remain in newsrooms, race and gender help shape their perspectives. That's just fact, and it should be valued. And if corporate newsrooms don't allow us to bring these perspectives to the table, then there is very little incentive to stay. But these women have to be there in the first place in order for such a decision to be made; and there can't just be one of them. Even if a Lynette Clemetson leaves, the bench of women journalists of color at news organizations ought to be deep enough so that if one woman leaves, there are still several others left in the room. . . . "

Short Takes

  • Reginald W. Ragland, a former journalist and middle school language arts teacher and a lifetime member of the Journalism Education Association, said he has filed an internal, 85-point professional misconduct and discrimination grievance against a key planner of the national high school journalism convention that opened Thursday in the nation's capital. Ragland said he filed the grievance against Carol Lange, a retired Fairfax County, Va., yearbook teacher who is director of the District of Columbia chapter. She has "marginalized and insulted most D.C. media teachers," who are part of "the organization’s most ethnically-diverse jurisdiction of journalism and media teachers," Ragland wrote. Mark Newton, president of the association, said by telephone that he had not received the complaint and could not comment. Lange could not be reached.  

  • "The Committee to Protect Journalists wants President Obama to advocate for more press freedom when he visits Burma next week. He is traveling to Asia for the G20 Summit,"John Eggerton reported Friday for Broadcasting & Cable. "In a letter to the President dated Friday, CPJ executive director Joel Simon said Burma had backtracked after releasing jailed journalists in 2012 following the U.S. decision to suspend sanctions on the country. . . ."

  • "Media outlets are slashing diversity; we are fighting back," says Farai Chideya, a journalist and professor. She is crowdfunding "One with Farai," a podcast that has "included guests who were black, white, biracial, East Asian, South Asian, Native American; gay and straight; U.S. born, immigrant, and non-American. This is our world right now, and definitely our future. We deserve to see ourselves fully represented. We shouldn't have to settle for media that is dumbed-down and doesn't show our true, fantabulous, colors. . . ."

  • "Al Roker is going to attempt to break a Guinness World Record,"Catherine Taibi reported Thursday for the Huffington Post. Taibi also wrote, "The 'Today' show weatherman will try to break the record for longest uninterrupted live weather report broadcast. The current record stands at 24 hours. Roker wants to do it for 34 hours. . . . 'Rokerthon,' as NBC News is calling it, will begin Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 10:00 p.m. ET, and end Friday, Nov. 14, at 8:00 a.m. ET. . . ."

  • "An Associated Press photographer in Cuba, Franklin Reyes Marrero, has died in a car accident while returning from an assignment west of Havana," the Associated Press reported on Tuesday. "Reyes, 39, was driving from the port of Mariel on Monday after working on a story about the Cuban economy. He apparently hit a patch of gravel and lost control of his car, which crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with another vehicle, police and medical officials said. They said he died at the scene. The two occupants of the other car died later. . . ."

  • "Artie Lange, the comedian who for years played braying second fiddle to Howard Stern on The Howard Stern Show, has been banned from ESPN as a result of him tweeting racist and sexist jokes about the moderator of First Take, Cari Champion,"Madeleine Davies wrote Thursday for jezebel.com. "As mentioned in yesterday evening's Dirt Bag, Lange issued an non-apology after going on a long and despicable Twitter ramble detailing a sexual fantasy in which he was Thomas Jefferson and Champion, a black woman, was his slave."The National Association of Black Journalists was among those condemning Lange's remarks.

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