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AP Intern Found Dead in Mexico

July 2, 2012

Armando Montaño was to work at Unity convention; Clarence Page violated policy on speeches, Tribune says; unhappiness with media surfaces in Mexican election; media fail to detail U.S. voter disenfranchisement; Afro opts for transparency, will correct author's ID; Lemon says Cooper's coming out reflects well on CNN; black team controlled Internet domain name registry (7/2/12)

Armando Montaño Was to Work at Unity Convention

Clarence Page Broke Rule on Speeches, Tribune Says

Unhappiness With Media Surfaces in Mexican Election

Media Fail to Detail U.S. Voter Disenfranchisement

Afro Opts for Transparency, Will Correct Author's ID

Lemon Says Cooper's Coming Out Reflects Well on CNN

Black Team Controlled Internet Domain Name Registry

Clarence Page Broke Rule on Speeches, Tribune Says

"The Chicago Tribune is reviewing an unauthorized paid speaking engagement by its Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page at an event supporting an Iranian group designated as a terrorist organization," Robert Channick reported Monday night for the Chicago Tribune.Clarence Page

"Page, a member of the Tribune editorial board, received $20,000 and was given travel expenses for the June 23 event in Paris, which was sponsored by a group called the Organizing Committee for Convention for Democracy in Iran. It turned out to be a large rally in support of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, a controversial organization that has been engaged in a high-profile campaign to be removed from the U.S. government's list of terrorist groups.

"Page, who joined paid speakers such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, said he had misgivings soon after arriving at the event, when he realized the scope was more than just a discussion about human rights and fairness toward Iranian exiles, as he previously thought. He went through with his three-minute speech anyway.

" 'I figured it must be a reputable gathering,' Page said. 'It wasn't until I got over there that I began to question whether this was more of a partisan affair than I had thought before.'

"The story was first reported by nonprofit ProPublica on Monday. Page told the reporter he was planning to give the money back because of his misgivings about the nature of the event. The Washington-based Page then called the Tribune's editorial page editor, Bruce Dold, to fill him in.

"Beyond the ramifications of a controversial political association, accepting the engagement was a breach of the Tribune's code of editorial principles. Although some paid speaking engagements are allowed, all editorial employees need approval before accepting them, Dold said. Page said he took the engagement on his own.

" 'It was a violation of policy,' Dold said. 'A speaking fee must be approved in advance by a manager, and he did not seek approval on this, and you can't accept a speaking fee from any organization with a special interest group or a publicity interest. If approval had been sought, it would have been denied.' "


Enrique Peña Nieto and his wife, Televisa actress Angélica Rivera 'Gaviota' (Cre

Unhappiness With Media Surfaces in Mexican Election

"A declared womanizer who gained female votes for his looks, Enrique Peña Nieto[,] and his current wife, Televisa actress Angélica Rivera 'Gaviota', would become the best looking presidential couple in the history of Mexico. That is the only sure thing of the next presidential term," politic365.com reported on Monday.

"The victory of presidential candidate Peña Nieto has been received with pessimism among public opinion and social media users in the country."

On Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" John Ackerman, editor of the Mexican Law Review and a columnist for Proceso magazine and La Jornada newspaper, added:

"Today, Monday, the day after the elections, they have planned a march through downtown Mexico City calling for more democracy and calling for these demands for democratizing the media.

"This is particularly important today, because Peña Nieto is the candidate of the corporate media. And as we talked about last week, corporate media in Mexico is over the top. Two companies control over 95 percent of the audience, of the channels — one company, almost 80 percent, Televisa. And they are the ones who really fabricated Enrique Peña Nieto's image and have — are the principal group responsible for his victory, if that turns out to be the case.

"And so, Peña Nieto, once he becomes president, if that happens, will most likely want to pay back these television companies by giving them even more power once he arrives. And at that moment, it will be absolutely crucial for these students and for Mexican society, in general, to be very vigilant, very participative, to assure that this does not happen and that in fact we actually go in a more progressive, democratic direction in terms of media, because that's one of the crucial reforms that we need today in Mexico to open up public dialogue and assure more broad-based popular participation in politics."

According to Antonio Jiménez, writing Thursday for Nieman Journalism Lab, ". . . when traditional media is untrusted, it opens up space for new competition — new outlets, new voices, new approaches. And that's what’s happened in Mexico, where a generation of digital-native news organizations has changed how at least some Mexicans have learned about the election.

" 'Digital outlets' main contribution was that they've dared to do a different kind of coverage: more in-depth and investigative reporting, and they are faster and more flexible to update the news,' Gabriela Warkentin, a communications scholar at Universidad Iberoamericana, told me.

"This new digital generation has nowhere near the reach of a network like Televisa, she said. (Less than one-third of Mexico’s 111 million people have Internet access.) But their impact comes from doing stories others won't. 'They have provided much more information and analysis [than traditional media] that could help voters on their decision-making process — and that's not a minor thing,' she said."

Media Fail to Detail U.S. Voter Disenfranchisement

"As the nation’s first African-American president seeks re-election, new barriers are being proposed or implemented that could disenfranchise voters of color. Are mainstream media doing enough reporting on these efforts and identifying ones designed to reduce the impact on voters of color?" Nadra Kareem Nittle wrote Thursday for the Maynard Institute.

"Specifically, social justice activists say, the media haven’t demonstrated how people of color are disproportionately affected by tactics that include voter identification laws, a purge of registered voters in Florida and measures that make it more difficult for community groups to register voters.

"These are reminiscent of historical deterrents such as literacy tests, poll taxes and confusing registration procedures that minorities have encountered while trying to vote."

Afro Opts for Transparency, Will Correct Author's ID

In the mainstream media, this might be considered a cardinal sin: A public relations person is asked to write a story about his organization. The paper runs it as its lead story, and the public relations person is identified as a "special," without mentioning where he works.

It happened in the Washington Afro-American, with a story from Haiti this Washington Afro-American's June 30-July 6 editionweek by Ron Harris, a veteran journalist who now does public relations for Howard University.

"Howard Medical Students, Faculty Provide Services in Haiti," was the print-edition headline. "Special to the AFRO" ran under Harris' name.

It was one of the first products under the Afro's new editor, Avis Thomas-Lester, who joined the publication after 22 years at the Washington Post, where she took a buyout at the end of May.

Thomas-Lester messaged Sunday that she was too busy and would not be able to discuss the issues of conflict of interest and disclosure until Friday or next Monday, July 9. But Jake Oliver, publisher of the Afro, said Monday of the disclosure issue that the Afro would "make that correction in the future. Good journalism requires that.

"At the Afro, we do have a legacy that we need to uphold that reflects high standards and transparency," Oliver told Journal-isms by telephone. The story should have included a note in italics that Harris, a former interim editor of the Afro, works for Howard, Oliver said.

As a part of the black press, the Afro is not a member of the mainstream media. According to Todd Steven Burroughs, a lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies at Morgan State University, a former reporter at the New Jersey Afro-American and an expert on black-press history, the black press operates under different rules.

"The first thing we have to remember about the black press is that the black press is an advocacy press. As an advocacy press, it's historically chosen when it wants to follow journalistic protocol," Burroughs said by telephone.

"Throughout the history of the black press, particularly as mainstream journalism began to insist on the standard of objectivity, there has always been a very cozy relationship between the black press and established black institutions. These alliances can be seen formally vis-à-vis the many columnists in many black newspapers who are leaders of organizations, but also very informally in that other black leaders and black notables could feed the black press information that they would print verbatim."

Burroughs noted that he once worked for the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization of black community newspaper publishers. "One of the things I learned with NNPA is that many of these editors are just looking to fill the newshole," Burroughs said, "so it was always a very common thing to see press releases in black newspapers verbatim if the subject was of concern to black people or black people were involved."

Oliver agreed with Burroughs' observation, but still said that identifying Harris would "complete the picture" for readers. Asked whether Harris' authorship of the story presented a conflict of interest, Oliver said that without Harris, the Afro might not have any story.

Harris is a good journalist, and the story was important, Oliver said. "This does provide an invaluable service," the publisher said of the efforts of the Howard medical students and faculty. "Seeing the work they're doing and showing young black medical students" what their colleagues are doing could be inspirational.

". . . On the first day of the week-long mission," Harris wrote, the 30 "volunteer medical personnel were met by hundreds of people who had begun to line up hours before the doctors and students were set to arrive . . . Many people had been suffering from their maladies for more than a year."

Lemon Says Cooper's Coming Out Reflects Well on CNN

". . . Though Anderson Cooper's sexuality had been an open secret forever, his emergence from the closet today – via an email to The Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan, made public with Cooper's permission – is still big news," Gail Shister wrote Monday for TVNewser.

Shister said that Cooper's CNN colleague, weekend anchor Don Lemon, "labels today’s Out: Anderson Cooper, left, and Don Lemonannouncement as 'awesome. I just tweeted him congratulations. We should all be supportive. He's a human being. He wants to be happy and live his life.'

"Lemon came out last year prior to publication of his memoir, 'Transparent.' He and his partner, CNN producer Ben Tinker, have been together five years.

"Cooper's acknowledgment 'says a lot about CNN as a company. Not only are we grounded in the reality of the world, we are also part of the future.'

"Lemon predicts that Cooper will not get any backlash for coming out. 'For someone as accomplished as he is, his actions speak for themselves.' "

Albert White, left, and Emitt McHenry, co-founders of Network Solutions, the Internet d

Black Team Controlled Internet Domain Name Registry

". . . Years before Google, before tablets, heck, before the Internet was a popular term, and even before the first domain name was offered to the general public, a predominantly African-American team actually once controlled the Internet; or at least your domain access to it," Lauren deLisa Coleman wrote Thursday for theGrio.com.

"Few may know it today, but Al White was a vital part of that team and still thinks longingly about those heady days when sink or swim business decisions were made by the minute and when untold amounts of money were within grasp's reach — if they just could have held out long enough."

White, Emitt McHenry and other partners started Network Solutions in 1979.

". . . after 16 years of both good and bad times, they sold it to an outfit called Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) for $4.8 million in 1997.

". . . SAIC would then turn around and later sell Network Solutions in 2000 to VeriSign for $21 billion dollars and make history in one of the biggest tech deals to be completed in the United States at that time. Network Solutions remains one of the most important companies in the Internet industry.

". . . '[P]art of the problem,' explains White, 'is that we have very little reference to our history of contributions to building America. We don't know our history, particularly within tech. We don't know that we come from a long line of inventors and entrepreneurs so there is little psychological support for today's black entrepreneur. But we do, we have and we can still create amazing things… even in this economy!' White cites contributions within Bell Labs, broadband and more where blacks have played a vital yet clandestine role in the rise of technology.

". . . 'If there is any advice I could give black entrepreneurs today,' explains White, 'it would be that you must stick with what you are doing, if you feel it is right. Don't allow other people to tell you that you don't have anything important like we did. That is really the key. That’s why we suffered. Listening to other people… who didn’t know.' "

Short Takes

  • "Let me get this straight," Jerry Mitchell, investigative reporter at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., wrote Monday in an open letter to Liane Membis, who last week was fired as a Wall Street Journal intern over fabrications. "A Journal editor gave you an assignment that the least talented of interns should be able to handle — writing a story about a bridge's reopening — and you couldn't handle it? . . . If you had actually taken the time to talk to real people in the neighborhood, you would have gotten far better quotes than the ones you decided to concoct."

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