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July 27, 2012

Blacks, Latinos want more diversity progress; 2 black journalists among Post-Dispatch layoffs; Essence fires its white fashion director; most say they know enough about Obama, Romney; 2 foreign journalists rescued from extremists in Syria; nonprofit news site to launch in New Orleans; U.S. journalism students in London for Olympics; Robin Roberts to take medical leave for transplant (7/27/12)

Blacks, Latinos Want More Diversity Progress

2 Black Journalists Among Post-Dispatch Layoffs

Essence Fires Its White Fashion Director

Most Say They Know Enough About Obama, Romney

2 Foreign Journalists Rescued from Extremists in Syria

Nonprofit News Site to Launch in New Orleans

U.S. Journalism Students in London for Olympics

Johnny Andrews, a photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is on the layoff

2 Black Journalists Among Post-Dispatch Layoffs

Editor Gilbert Bailón, left, and reporter Marlon A. WalkerTwo black journalists were among 23 employees laid off Friday at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but the Newspaper Guild said Editor Gilbert Bailón could have saved their jobs by designating them "exempt."

The two are reporter Marlon A. Walker, 31, who had just started a new beat, and photographer Johnny Andrews, 38, a Post-Dispatch staffer for 4½ years. Thirteen people in the newsroom were laid off: four editors, three reporters, three copy editors, a photographer, a web editor and the editorial cartoonist were laid off, according to a Storify post.

"We are a Guild shop so they could be 'saved' if someone with more seniority steps up to leave in the next two weeks," Bailón told Journal-isms by email.

Shannon Duffy, business representative of the United Media Guild, said that the layoffs were imposed according to seniority but that the Post-Dispatch has the option of designating certain employees exempt from layoffs. "They don't have to give us a reason," Duffy said by telephone.

Under an agreement with the Guild, the paper can exempt 20 people in the newsroom: 12 reporters, three copy editors, three photographers and two artists, he said.

One exemption was applied to a recently hired reporter covering the state capital, a beat that was deemed difficult to fill, Duffy said.

Bailón, a former president of the American Society of News Editors as well as the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, moved from editorial page editor to editor in May. He did not respond to an email question about why he did not protect the two black journalists.

Lee Enterprises, owner of the Post-Dispatch, "has eliminated 234 people at the Post-Dispatch since 2008, and 235 at the Suburban Journals in that same span of time," Paul Friswold wrote Friday for the alternative Riverfront Times. "That's 469 people who lost their jobs, or roughly one person per $2,452 of bonus cash given to Lee Enterprises' CEO Mary Junck this year alone."

With the layoffs, Duffy said, "the newsroom just kept getting whiter and whiter." The 2012 ASNE diversity survey shows the Post-Dispatch with 14 percent journalists of color, including 3.5 percent Asian American journalists, 7.6 percent black journalists and 2.9 percent Hispanics.

In January, fellow photographer Corey Woodruff dedicated a blog posting to Andrews and his work.

"Ladies and gents, I present to you an endangered species: a staff newspaper photographer," Woodruff wrote. "The ridiculously talented Mr. Andrews shoots for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and he's not a freelancer. He is part of the dying breed of staff shooters; breathing rarefied air alongside other survivors of the rampant downsizing plaguing the industry."

The Riverfront Times said Andrews was "known best in the St. Louis music community for his invaluable LISTEN video series ." The Post-Dispatch series showcases a range of musical talent in the St. Louis area.

Andrews' departure would leave one black photographer at the paper, Duffy said.

Walker came to the Post-Dispatch in 2010 after having worked at the Telegraph in Macon, Ga., at the Associated Press and at the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. This month, he began covering neighboring Illinois for the St. Louis paper.

Essence Fires Its White Fashion Director

Ellianna Placas, the white fashion director of Essence magazine whose hiring in 2010 sparked controversy over its appropriateness at a black women's magazine, has been let go, Essence spokeswoman Sheila Harris confirmed on Thursday.

"Sources told us her departure had less to do with race and more to do with her butting heads with editor-in-chief Constance White," the New York Post's Page Six reported late Wednesday. " 'They had different visions for fashion coverage,' said one. An Essence spokesperson confirmed to Page Six that Placas has left the company. Placas wasn't available for comment last night, and a search for her replacement is ongoing."

In April, Essence and Michael Bullerdick, its white male managing editor — whom the leading magazine for black women has emphasized had a production, not an editorial role — parted ways after right-wing material on his Facebook page was brought to the editors' attention. His hiring in July 2011 created similar controversy.

Most Say They Know Enough About Obama, Romney

"With more than three months to go before Election Day, most voters already feel that there's little left to learn about the presidential candidates," the Pew Center for the People & the Press reported on Tuesday.

"When it comes to Barack Obama, 90% say they already pretty much know what they need to know about him; just 8% say they need to learn more. A substantial majority (69%) also says they already mostly know what they need to know about Mitt Romney. Only about a quarter (28%) say they need to learn more to get a clear impression of Romney. Combining these two questions, fully two-thirds of voters say they already know as much as they need to about both presidential candidates.

"When it comes to specific details of Romney's background and experience, 41% of voters say they would like to learn more about Romney's record as governor, 36% would like to learn more about his tax returns, while 35% want to know more about his record as chief executive of Bain Capital. Far fewer want to hear more about Romney's wealth (21%), his family and upbringing (19%) or his religious beliefs (16%)."

Members of the Free Syrian Army at a safehouse on northern Lebanon's border with

2 Foreign Journalists Rescued from Extremists in Syria

"Two foreign journalists captured by Islamic extremists in Syria and held for a week were rescued by Syrian opposition fighters, one of them said on Friday," Rod Nordland reported Friday for the New York Times.

"A Dutch freelance photographer, Jeroen Oerlemans, contacted by telephone in Turkey, described a harrowing ordeal during which he and his captured colleague, a British photographer, John Cantlie, were held at a camp in Syria by a group of several dozen foreign jihadists, who kept them hooded and blindfolded and repeatedly threatened to kill them.

"Mr. Oerlemans said their captors apparently included no Syrian fighters, but instead jihadists from Bangladesh, Britain, Chechnya and Pakistan. The photographers were seized on July 19 shortly after they entered Syria at Bab al-Hawa, a border crossing with Turkey that has been reported under control of a jihadi group."

Nonprofit News Site to Launch in New Orleans

"The New Orleans media market is about to get more crowded," Michaelle Bond wrote Friday for American Journalism Review.

"Two months after the city's daily paper, the Times-Picayune, announced it would cut print publication to three days a week and focus on its digital product, it appears that residents will soon have a couple of new avenues to get their news.

"Today, the University of New Orleans and its NPR affiliate, WWNO-FM, announced that they will launch NewOrleansReporter.org as a nonprofit news site by the end of the year. Other news organizations will be welcome to use the site's online, mobile and radio content for free.

". . . The launch of NewOrleansReporter.org is not a direct response to the changes at the Times-Picayune, says Adam Norris, director of public relations at the University of New Orleans. It's a response to a thirst in the community for more high quality journalism – a thirst that has been evident to WWNO for years, he says.

". . . Earlier this week, the Advocate, the daily paper in Baton Rouge, announced that it will print a New Orleans edition, starting when the Times-Picayune stops daily printing in early October. 'This has to have significant news in it,' Richard Manship, president and CEO of Advocate owner Capital City Press, told his paper. 'This is not just an attempt to sell more papers. We will be trying to cover the news in New Orleans.' "

Lisa Blanco, left, and Maritsa Granillo receive their press credentials at the L

U.S. Journalism Students in London for Olympics

"July 27 marks the opening ceremonies, and official launch, of the 2012 Olympic games in London, which runs until August 12," Marisa Treviño wrote Thursday for her Latina Lista site.

"On hand to witness the festivities, soak up the international cultures, and watch the athletes in action are two young Latinas from Phoenix, Arizona for whom this trip of a lifetime is much more than just pleasure — it's school work.

"Maritsa Granillo and Lisa Blanco graduated in May from Arizona State University's (ASU) broadcast journalism track in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Their accomplishments qualified them to be part of the university's first-ever student journalists delegation covering the three-week international sporting event.

" 'We're always looking for great real-life experiences to not only help our students but help them produce great journalism content for Arizona and the region,' Dean Christopher Callahan, founding dean of the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication department, said about the reason for sending students to the Olympics.

"It was also an increase interest in sports journalism by his students and having Greg Boeck, a former sports writer for USA Today, who covered nine Olympics, on his faculty that Dean Callahan said made the decision easy that it was a worthwhile pursuit by the university on behalf of its students. . . ."

Robin Roberts to Take Medical Leave for Transplant

" 'Good Morning America' anchor Robin Roberts is planning to take a medical leave around the end of August for her bone marrow transplant," the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

"But during her absence from the ABC morning show, she'll be getting a little help from her friends, she said Thursday.

"Roberts listed Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric among her 'wonderful, wonderful friends at ABC News' who will be subbing for her. . . .

"Roberts announced last month that she has MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease once known as prelukemia."

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