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Columbine Haunts Aurora Reporting

July 23, 2012

Denver Post Editor Greg Moore says, "We will be covering this tragedy forever"; pundit admits opining on Paterno statue too soon; Ifill, Woodruff to be first all-female convention team; NAHJ veterans pose nine media questions to candidates; Proctor back in newspapers as editor of N.C. group; writers examine use of N-word, beauty standards; NABJ "meet-up" at Martin Luther King Memorial (7/23/12)

Denver Post Editor Greg Moore Says, "We Will Be Covering This Tragedy Forever"

Pundit Admits Opining on Paterno Statue Too Soon

All cable news channels carried NCAA President Mark Emmert's Monday announcement

Pundit Admits Opining on Paterno Statue Too Soon

File this under "it sounded good at the time" or "too-infrequent admissions by commentators that they aren't always right."

Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic magazine blogger, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times last week in which he argued that the statue of Joe Paterno, the disgraced Penn State football coach, should remain.

". . . in a democracy, memorial statues are not simply comments on their subjects, but comments on their makers," Coates wrote, citing this example: "In Columbia, S.C., there stands a statue of Ben Tillman, the populist South Carolina senator who helped found Clemson University and, in his spare time, defended lynching from his august national offices."

And so, Coates argued, referring to Jerry Sandusky, the coach exposed as a child predator, ". . . Removing the Paterno statue allows Happy Valley to forget its own compliance in a national crime, to expunge its own culpability in its ruthless pursuit of glory. The statue should remain, and beneath it there should be a full explanation of Sandusky's crimes, Paterno's role and some warning to all of us who would turn a pastime into a god and elect a mortal man as its avatar."

Not so fast, argued Jessica Luther Wednesday on shakesville.com: "This argument that the statue should stand does not take into account what it might mean to the victims of Sandusky that the grinning JoePa remains an image on campus in any capacity.

"One of the great frustrations of media coverage when it comes to the Sandusky trial has been the focus on how everyone else outside of the victims themselves will cope with what has happened. How will Penn State football move on? What will the Penn State community do to heal? Not that those aren't legitimate questions. Yet when they take precedence in any capacity over the most direct victims (some of them still children) of Sandusky's crimes, we are doing it wrong."

In a blog post on Sunday, Coates conceded the point.

"I continue to be concerned about public historiography, but that all feels really abstract when you're talking about a victim of child rape. To carry forth my original analogy, whatever my thoughts on Ben Tillman, it would take a cold heart to make academic points to the families of lynching victims from the confines of the writer's comfy offices.

"As for my part, I try to see as much as I can. But I miss things. More perspectives would have made for a better column."

As Reuters reported, the NCAA, the governing body of U.S. college sports, fined Penn State $60 million and voided its football victories for the past 14 seasons Monday in an unprecedented rebuke for the school's failure to stop Sandusky's sexual abuse of children.

Jason Pugh added in the Times of Shreveport, La., "When NCAA president Mark Emmert announced sanctions against Penn State, it helped legendary Grambling State football coach Eddie Robinson return to the top of the NCAA Division I all-time wins list."

Judy Woodruff, left, and Gwen Ifill discuss Bain Capital on PBS. (Video)

Ifill, Woodruff to Be First All-Female Convention Team

"Late last month, PBS announced that Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff would co-anchor the network's coverage of the 2012 conventions," Alyssa Rosenberg wrote Monday for slate.com. "That's not really surprising: Ifill and Woodruff are two of PBS's most distinguished anchors. But at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles, Calif. on Sunday, the network pointed out something interesting. Ifill and Woodruff will be the first all-female team in news broadcast history to spearhead a network's convention coverage.

" . . . We don't even notice how often it is that white men provide the default perspective on any given event — which is why there is something powerful about PBS's rather routine decision. Woodruff and Ifill will inevitably bring their own experiences to anchoring the conventions, whether as women journalists, or in Ifill's case, as a woman of color. Turns out there's no reason a presidential election should need the supposedly soothing gravitas of a man to help viewers interpret information and make decisions."

NAHJ Veterans Pose 9 Media Questions to Candidates

Last week, Juan Gonzalez, columnist for the Daily News in New York and president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists from 2002 to 2004, said he would "probably not" make an endorsement in the NAHJ president's race, telling Journal-isms, "I'll wait till the convention to get a clearer idea of what the policies and positions of the contending candidates are before I decide on my vote.

"And by 'policies' I mean something more substantive than whether to hold a convention next year, or who should be a voting member. I want to hear their vision for the future of NAHJ and for the journalism profession."

Since then, Gilbert Bailon, NAHJ president from 1994 to 1996, and Cecilia Alvear, president from 2000 to 2002, told Journal-isms they also were not ready to endorse. "I want to study the candidates and their proposals and visions very carefully," Alvear said. Bailon, now editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said, "I've been away from the board for a long while, and I don't know a number of the current players. I will be at Unity to get reconnected."

On Saturday, Gonzalez and other journalists with a history in the association — three of them members of NAHJ's Hall of Fame — sent all NAHJ candidates a list of nine questions seeking their views on such issues as media consolidation, the state of Spanish-language media, NAHJ's advocacy role, whether broadcasters should be required to place their political files online and the concept of Network Neutrality, or "open Internet."

The group included Jessica Durkin, founder, InOtherNews.us and former NAHJ board member; Felix Gutierrez, professor at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, associate professor of journalism, University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism, and Joseph Torres, senior external affairs director for Free Press and former deputy director of NAHJ.

"We are concerned the association is not well positioned to advocate for issues and policies that deal with the many challenging structural issues confronting journalists of color," they said. "If we do not help shape the changing structure, we fear that journalists of color will remain marginalized in whatever media platform we work."

Hugo Balta and Russell Contreras, presidential candidates; Josie Tizcareno Pereira, candidate for at-large, Spanish language officer; and Federico Subervi, candidate for at-large, academic officer, have responded.

Separately, Contreras, vice president/print and chief financial officer, posted his own "NAHJ Plan for Growth 2014" on the site of his slate, "HalftimeInNAHJ."

Among his items was a proposal for Unity Journalists, the alliance that now includes NAHJ, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Asssociation. The National Association of Black Journalists withdrew last year. Contreras wrote:

"The NAHJ board will decide the future of NAHJ's role in UNITY. As NAHJ president, I will call for a summit of the UNITY alliance partners and NABJ President Greg Lee to iron out a new agreement that puts the concerns of the alliance partners first, not UNITY. NAHJ will ask all UNITY board members who are no longer journalists to resign immediately. NAHJ will look toward partnering with NABJ, NAJA and AAJA on future conventions, and possible reorganizing under a new alliance with updated bylaws and goals."

While the statement does not mention NLGJA, Contreras told Journal-isms by email, "The call for a summit with UNITY alliance partners includes NLGJA. They are an alliance partner. I've also approached NLGJA and talked to some board members about partnering with us in the future. We have a good working relationship with them." [Updated July 24]

Proctor Back in Newspapers as Editor of N.C. Group

"Glenn Proctor, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and award-winning news media manager, has been appointed executive editor of Lake Norman Publications . . ." a group of weekly and monthly papers in the region about 25 miles north of Charlotte, N.C., the Huntersville (N.C.) Herald reported Friday.

Glenn Proctor

"In his new role, Proctor will oversee the day-to-day news and digital information operations of the company's newspapers — the Herald Weekly, Mooresville Weekly and Denver Weekly and the monthly Mountain Island Monitor.

" 'I like to win,' Proctor told the staff Wednesday, July 18, during the announcement of his hiring. 'Whether that's with better writing, better layout (design of pages), better photography or better attitudes, I like to win.'

"Craig Moon, owner and CEO of Lake Norman Publications, said, 'Glenn is just the type of person our newspapers need at this point in our company's development — an award-winning, uncompromising journalist who excels at mentoring and leadership."

Moon retired in 2009 as president and publisher of USA Today. Proctor retired last year as vice president for news and executive editor of the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch.

Proctor wrote on Facebook, "As David Ng put it: This is like the scene from Godfather III when Al Pacino as Michael Corleone says, 'I keep trying to get out and they keep sucking me back in.' "

Writers Examine Use of N-Word, Beauty Standards

Emma Sapong, a reporter for the Buffalo News, wrote Friday about the use of the "N" word by African Americans, accompanying it with a sidebar headlined, "Why I had to write this story." The daughter of a Liberian mother, Sapong said she was not fully prepared for its casual use by African American adults when she was growing up.

Emma SapongNor was she "Some 20 years later, as an adult journalist, well-versed in American life and its fixation with race." She "met the n-word's other personality" when it was hurled at her by young white men as she walked down a Buffalo street.

Meanwhile, Jessica C. Andrews, writing Thursday for the online Clutch magazine, examined the implications of comments on Facebook and Twitter about the facial features of Blue Ivy Carter, infant daughter of entertainers Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and what the remarks say about beauty standards in 2012.

"The criticism of full lips, 'nappy' hair, and wide noses in our communities is weighted," Andrews wrote. "Some people would have you believe attractiveness is subjective, but the truth is our collective view of facial features is tangled in the web of racism. In our social imagination, European features set the standard for what's beautiful, rendering broad noses and big lips ugly."

(Credit: Jason Miccolo Johnson/NABJ)

NABJ "Meet-Up" at Martin Luther King Memorial

About 40 members of the National Association of Black Journalists, the Association of Black Media Workers (Baltimore), Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and Washington Association of Black Journalists gathered in a slight drizzle Saturday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington to take a photo and celebrate King's legacy. The "meet-up" was followed by a picnic in the Maryland suburbs.

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