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"Attack Ads," Character Questions in NAHJ Contest

May 23, 2012

teaserContreras unopposed as filing deadline nears; Contreras: "My record . . . speaks for itself"; Michael Days returns as editor of Philly's Daily News; 5 black sports journalists laid off at USA Today; NABJ lauds TV One series on missing blacks; Jacqueline Trescott leaving Washington Post; grant to L.A. Times raises question on foundations; HLN's "Evening Express" features two black co-hosts (5/23/12)

Contreras Unopposed as Filing Deadline Nears

5 Black Sports Journalists Laid Off at USA Today

Five black sports journalists were laid off at USA Today on Wednesday, staffers told Journal-isms.

They are: G.E. Branch, assignment editor; J. Michael Falgoust, NBA reporter; Gene Farris, web and video editor; Gary Graves, NFL reporter; and Dixie Vereen, design editor.

Branch was a USA Today founder, joining the operation in 1982. He worked there until 2004, returning full time in September. He started as a copy editor but worked the majority of his time there as an assignment editor. Farris started at USA Today in 2005, arriving from the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal as international edition sports editor. Graves has been an NFL writer at the paper since 1997 and covered motorsports since 2001. Falgoust has been an assignment editor since 2000 and an NBA writer since 2010.

Eric Fisher and John Ourand of Street &Smith's SportsBusiness Daily reported:

"USA Today Sports Media Group has enacted a significant restructuring of its editorial roster that has resulted in the departures of about a dozen veteran staffers of the media outlet, including sports business and media writer Michael McCarthy and 'Game On' blogger Tom Weir.

"Company officials declined to say how many staffers overall were affected in the move. But ultimately, the company's sports editorial staff is expected to post a net increase, particularly with the arrival later this year of its joint venture with MLBAM," the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball.

" 'This process was about redefining and reimagining Sports and the roles within it to create a center of excellence and build a great sports franchise,' said USA Today Sports Media Group President Tom Beusse. 'With this new structure, we are now well-positioned to operate in a 24-7 digital environment. This is a major step forward.' "

NABJ Lauds TV One Series on Missing Blacks

The TV One series "Find Our Missing," "an hour-long, docu-drama series that puts names and faces to people of color — young and old — who have disappeared without a trace," has won the Best Practices Award of the National Association of Black Journalists, the group announced on Wednesday.

"The Best Practices Award is given to a news organization for exemplary work in covering issues of great significance to the black community or the African Diaspora," the group said. " '[Find] Our Missing' fits the bill.

"This series counters the media's tendency to not focus on missing people of color. Local outlets in these cases usually make a good effort to publicize these stories, but the cases rarely rise to the level of national media attention. 'Find Our Missing' allows us do something about that," said NABJ President Gregory H. Lee Jr. in a news release. "TV One deserves this recognition for making sure these stories get told."

Jacqueline Trescott Leaving Washington Post

Jacqueline Trescott, a reporter in Washington for 42 years and for more than three decades at the Washington Post, is leaving the newspaper at the end of June, she told Journal-isms on Wednesday.

Trescott was an active member of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in the 1970s and 1980s. She served as director of the Summer Program for Minority Journalists in 1982 and 1984, and worked several summers as an instructor.

Trescott's departure — she took a buyout in 2006 but remained at the paper onJacqueline Trescott a contract basis — adds to the disproportionate number of journalists of color leaving the Post this year after accepting buyout offers.

"It has been a rewarding career going from typewriters to computers to blogs and tweets," Trescott said, "but no matter what the format or platform, the coverage of celebrities, writers, entertainers, exhibitions and a broad line-up of talented and interesting people behind the scenes in museums and arts agencies, has been unsurpassed fuel for a daily reporter."

For the last 20 years, Trescott has covered the arts news beat at the Post, which includes the Smithsonian museums, the Kennedy Center and the National Gallery of Art, as well as the federal cultural agencies and oversight committees on Capitol Hill. The coverage has ranged from breaking news to features to investigative reports. She, along with Post reporter James V. Grimaldi, was a finalist in the Freedom of Information Act Award category of the Investigative Reporters and Editors contest in 2009 for a series of stories on the Smithsonian Institution. Grimaldi recently took a buyout and moved to the Wall Street Journal.

Trescott said she plans to stay in the Washington area.

Grant to L.A. Times Raises Question on Foundations

"Expect to see and hear and read media types dissect this bit of news: the Ford Foundation has donated $1 million not to charity but to the for-profit Los Angeles Times," Joe Mathews wrote Monday for KNTV-TV, the NBC station in the San Francisco Bay area.

"The donation is designated to cover the costs of hiring reporters to cover Southern California communities, prisons, immigration, as well as to post a correspondent in Brazil.

". . . The collapse of the business model for media makes such foundation support incredibly important to sustaining quality coverage. But the trend also is a cause of concern.

"Even as someone who knows the work of these foundations and some of their staff, I have very little sense of how these organizations work, how they set their agendas, who their [decision makers] are, how they exercise power, how they interact and make deals with powerful officials and institutions.

"The public knows even less than I do. That's because California media don't cover foundations and their work routinely, [aggressively] and critically. . . . "

Davan Maharaj, editor of the Times, did not respond to a request for comment.

Clark Howard, left, Isha Sesay and Ryan Smith are principals on HLN's "Evening Express." (Video)

HLN's "Evening Express" Features Two Black Co-Hosts

"HLN is launching a new late afternoon/early evening program called 'Evening Express,' " Alex Weprin reported Wednesday for TVNewser. "As the name suggests, the format is based on the channel's successful morning program, 'Morning Express with Robin Meade.'

"The show will originate from Atlanta and will air from 5-7 PM, beginning Monday, June 4. Ryan Smith will host the show, joined by Clark Howard and [Isha] Sesay, who joins HLN from sister network CNN. Angie Massie will serve as EP," executive producer.

Two of the three on-air principals are black. Smith, a sports and entertainment lawyer with a degree from Columbia Law School, was a familiar HLN on-air presence in 2011 as a result of his reporting during the Casey Anthony and Conrad Murray trials. Sesay is an anchor for CNN International, hosting the daily news program "CNN NewsCenter" and weekly program "BackStory," and serving as the nightly "360 Bulletin" correspondent on "Anderson Cooper 360°".

Scot Safon, who heads HLN and is executive vice president of CNN Worldwide, was last in this column in September after he participated in a conference on diversity hosted by the American Society of News Editors. "The idea of diversity driving innovation is really, really important," Safon said.

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