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NBC, TV One in Joint Election Coverage

August 8, 2012

Craig Melvin will anchor all three evenings of NBC-TV One joint election coveragTies to Comcast unite the two networks; Sikh killings receive less coverage than Aurora's; Obama believes news media frustrate his ambitions; U.S. turns "blind eye" to imprisoned Ethiopian; should erroneous tweets about NAHJ be deleted?; "KKK" mark on Indian found to be not what it seems; Sal Mendoza named NBCUniversal diversity V.P.; Heart & Soul owes writers $150,000, union says; media question Gabby Douglas continually about race; Bay Area radio reporter George Harris dies at 61; Saundra Smokes, Syracuse columnist, dies at 57 (8/8/12)

Ties to Comcast Unite the Two Networks

Sikh Killings Receive Less Coverage Than Aurora's

Obama Believes News Media Frustrate His Ambitions

U.S. Turns "Blind Eye" to Imprisoned Ethiopian

Should Erroneous Tweets About NAHJ Be Deleted?

"KKK" Mark on Indian Found to Be Not What It Seems

Sal Mendoza Named NBCUniversal Diversity V.P.

Sikh Killings Receive Less Coverage Than Aurora's

"Two days after six people were killed at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the story has become just one item among many in the national news cycle  — a stark contrast to the flood of media coverage in the days following the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12," Dylan Byers wrote Tuesday for Politico.

"With the exception of CNN, which continues to broadcast much of its prime-time programming live from Wisconsin, the major networks have not sent their anchors to Wisconsin and have given significantly less coverage to the shooting. Moreover, the Sikh temple shooting has not launched the national mourning that followed the shooting in Aurora.

"To be sure, there are significant differences between the two events, beyond the number of victims. In Colorado, the suspect was still alive (adding the promise of a dramatic court appearance). In Wisconsin, the suspect was killed on the scene. The Colorado suspect had also rigged his apartment with explosives, shot up a place of public recreation, and provided the added flair of claiming to be 'The Joker.'

"But the relative dearth of coverage has not gone unnoticed. Riddi Shah, an editor at The Huffington Post, writes that 'if we don't ask why a small religious community in the Midwest was targeted by a 40-year-old white man, if we don't make this discussion as loud and robust as the one that followed the attack on Gabby Giffords or on those young people in Aurora, we're in danger of undermining what America stands for.' "

President Obama reads a morning newspaper aboard Marine One while en route to th

Obama Believes News Media Frustrate His Ambitions

" . . . While former President George W. Bush and his aides liked to say they ignored the Fourth Estate," President Obama "is an avid consumer of political news and commentary," Amy Chozick reported Tuesday for the New York Times. "But in his informal role as news media critic in chief, he developed a detailed critique of modern news coverage that he regularly expresses to those around him.

"The news media have played a crucial role in Mr. Obama's career, helping to make him a national star not long after he had been an anonymous state legislator. As president, however, he has come to believe the news media have had a role in frustrating his ambitions to change the terms of the country's political discussion. He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security, while Republicans oppose almost any tax increase to reduce the deficit.

"Privately and publicly, Mr. Obama has articulated what he sees as two overarching problems: coverage that focuses on political winners and losers rather than substance; and a 'false balance,' in which two opposing sides are given equal weight regardless of the facts."

U.S. Turns "Blind Eye" to Imprisoned Ethiopian

"For months, Eskinder Nega's supporters in Washington, New York and around the world have been pleading for his freedom," Pamela Constable wrote Sunday for the Washington Post. "In petitions, blogs and speeches, they have hailed the prominent Ethiopian journalist, detained last fall on terrorism charges, as a courageous champion of democratic rights in a country that is systematically snuffing them out.

"But the government of Ethiopia — a major recipient of American aid and an important U.S. military ally in a volatile region of Africa — chose to ignore the appeals. In late June, it convicted Nega, 44, of crimes against the state, which included 'attempting to incite violence and overthrow the constitutional order.' On July 13, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

". . . Although Nega found a few champions on Capitol Hill, notably Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), his high-profile case remains a source of tension and embarrassment to the Obama administration. The Meles government, despite its increasingly harsh treatment of domestic opponents, is a rare, reliable U.S. ally in a chaotic and impoverished region beset by ethnic strife and threatened by radical Islamic militancy."

Ilona Kelly, a representative of Amnesty International, said of the United States in the story, "Civil society is being decimated in Ethiopia, but the administration is turning a blind eye."

Should Erroneous Tweets About NAHJ Be Deleted?

On Tuesday, Sara Morrison of Columbia Journalism Review recapped "the biggest story of last week's UNITY convention" — the refusal of then-president Michele Salcedo of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists to allow a student journalist to live tweet during NAHJ's open board meeting.

The policy, reversed Saturday by the incoming NAHJ board, was in place to prevent "misinformation" from being spread, Salcedo said.

"She may have a point," Morrison wrote. The first two tweets by recent University of Houston graduate Nadia Khan, who was covering the meeting, "accused NAHJ and its Twitter handle, @NAHJ, of kicking her out of the meeting and refusing to allow anything but official minutes to be reported. These were followed by nine tweets that accused @NAHJSouthFl, or the South Florida chapter of NAHJ, of ousting her:

"Khan . . . was following UNITY News's policy to issue a correction but not delete erroneous tweets, she told CJR. UNITY News Deputy Editor David Plazas agreed, adding that he was 'very proud of the student for having acted very professionally despite the mistake.' Though NAHJ South Florida 'had every right to be upset,' Plazas said, 'We made a mistake and we certainly corrected it.' "

Frances Robles of the Miami Herald and NAHJ South Florida "said in an email that she disagrees with UNITY News's policy. Leaving erroneous tweets up where they can still be re-tweeted 'is preposterous and only fuels misinformation … Chapter president Pia Malbran and I argued this point with the UNITY News editors to no avail.' Robles added: 'I understand that people get hot and bothered when you delete tweets. But the few times that I tried not deleting a mistake, I watched how the mistake kept on living a new life through retweets.' "

"Robles did agree with UNITY News on other issues:

" 'I do not however believe that it makes any sense to spend three days training people on social media, and then issue a policy saying that these new tools can be used everywhere except in our own board meetings. That's nothing short of ridiculous and sends a terrible message. The rich irony of the student who was told not to tweet the board meeting turning around and tweeting nine mistakes that were damaging to the South Florida chapter is not lost on us. But we stand behind the student's right to live-tweet the board meeting.'"

Meanwhile, NAHJ announced that voting will continue in the contest for NAHJ secretary, which ended in a tie between Chris Ramirez and Sergio Quintana. The polls close on Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

"KKK" Mark on Indian Found to Be Not What It Seems

The South Dakota Attorney General's Office says it found no evidence that staff of a Rapid City hospital mistreated a Lakota man who alleged that the letters "KKK" were carved into his stomach after heart surgery last year, KSFY-TV in Sioux Falls, S.D., reported on Monday.

Vernon TraversieMeanwhile, the Native American Journalists Association asked NBC to apologize for host Matt Lauer using the term "Indian giver" on the "Today" show, saying the term was offensive.

Parts of Indian Country had described the case of Vernon Traversie as a hate crime that deserved more attention from the mainstream media. However, the Attorney General's office said its investigations found that the marks were the result of a skin reaction to the medical grade tape used to secure tubes that remain in place after surgery.

On Wednesday, NAJA urged that "mainstream media be mindful of wading into the controversy.

". . . A May story from the Associated Press stated, 'Like those spotting the Madonna in a water stain, Traversie's advocates are staunch believers,' and while the language has not been used in recent AP stories, it appears to have had a lasting effect. . . ."

In voicing its concern over "language used by several mainstream media outlets recently that evoked stereotypes and falsehoods about Native Americans and their history," NAJA also cited the case of Jason Vincent, a now-former Fox 21 news director in Duluth, Minn. On his Facebook page, Vincent compared a Native American man who had crossed into his yard to 'an animal.' "

"Also [disconcerting] to NAJA was Matt Lauer jokingly calling Meredith Viera an 'Indian giver' during NBC's TODAY show coverage of the London Olympics. The term invokes a stereotype and inaccuracy about our history that is offensive to Native people. It should not be used on a national news program, even in passing reference. NAJA asks that NBC and Lauer apologize for the comment."

Sal Mendoza Named NBCUniversal Diversity V.P.

"NBCUniversal announced that Sal Mendoza has been named Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion, reporting toSal MendozaCraig Robinson, Executive Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer," NBCUniversal announced on July 31.

"In this new position, Mendoza will be responsible for the development of long-term strategies in the areas of workforce, community investment and management of the NBCUniversal employee resource groups, with a focus on enhancing the company’s diverse and inclusive environment.

"Mendoza comes to NBCUniversal from Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, where he most recently served as VP, Global Diversity and Inclusion."

Heart & Soul Owes Writers $150,000, Union Says

In May, Clarence I. Brown, president and CEO of the group that acquired Heart & Soul magazine and along with it outstanding debts to its writers, said he he anticipated that the financial matters would be settled in 30 to 45 days.

That hasn't happened, according to Hannington Dia, writing Wednesday for NewsOne.

Referring to the National Writers Union, Dia wrote, "While the efforts of Katti Gray, Pamela Johnson, and Sheree Crute eventually resulted in their compensation, along with a few others this May, the magazine not only paid many up to a year late, but it still owes around $150,000 to at least a dozen more freelancers as of press time, with $100,000 of the monies being owed to editors alone, according to the NWU.

". . . So with multiple freelancers airing grievances for contracts, many of which remain unresolved, what happens next? Larry Goldbetter, president of the NWU, says legal action is imminent, 'We had a couple of agreements with Heart and Soul,' said Goldbetter from the NWU's headquarters. 'We've offered other ways to resolve this thing, but they haven't come across with any money in quite some time. So if we don't reach a significant agreement soon, then we're going to court. You can't have a situation where writers produce, people make money off it, it gets published, and they don't get paid. That's just completely unacceptable — besides being illegal.' "

At 16, Gabrielle Douglas became the first African American to win an individual

Media Question Gabby Douglas Continually About Race

"Gabby Douglas needs to avoid letting others set her narrative for her," read the headline over a column from Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post. "Douglas is black, her coach is Chinese. She's living with a white family in Iowa, and her captain on the USA gymnastics team is Jewish and danced to a gold medal in the floor exercise to Hava Nagila.

"Douglas genuinely doesn't see color — it's not her first thought. Yet she was drilled incessantly with questions about being a woman of color in gymnastics. How can she get more African American children to pay attention to gymnastics, she was asked? 'I can't control that,' she said tonelessly.

"Perhaps her most baffled moment came when she was asked what she saw when she walked into a gymnastics class for the first time. She replied evenly that she saw a lot of talented athletes. That answer wasn't good enough. Did she ever think because she was African American and didn't see many other black gymnasts that she couldn't succeed at it?"

Bay Area Radio Reporter George Harris Dies at 61

"George Harris, a KCBS radio reporter, who covered the South Bay and several other beats, including anchoring as well, passed away Monday night due to kidney failure. He was only 61," Rich Lieberman wrote Tuesday for the Rich Lieberman Report, referring to the San Francisco Bay area.

George Harris"Harris began his stint at KCBS in 1987. Highlights of his career included coverage of the Mt. St. Helens explosion, the Loma Prieta Earthquake, the East Bay Hills Fire and the riots in South Central Los Angeles."

Longtime colleague Bob Butler wrote on Facebook, "I was the morning editor for several years when George was the morning reporter. George and I would sometimes get together for 'lunch' after getting off at 11am. Sometimes lunch would last until nearly dinner time. But no matter how late he stayed out George would always show up at 5am, ready to go. He was unflappable on the air and was known as the best breaking news reporter in the Bay Area. When George was on the story, you didn't have to worry."

The website of America's Blood Centers described how blood donations saved Harris' life in 2002 after he was struck by a van.

Saundra Smokes, Syracuse Columnist, Dies at 57

"Saundra Smokes, the award-winning columnist and editorial writer whose articles often spurred debate across Central New York, died this morning at Crouse Hospital," Paul Riede wrote Wednesday for the Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y.

Saundra Smokes

"Smokes, 57, who had battled diabetes for several years, collapsed in her Eastwood home Monday and was rushed to the hospital. The cause of death was cardiac arrest.

Smokes wrote Journal-isms in 2009, "I worked at the newspaper for 18 years, then left for eight years before returning in 2003. I write editorials (my second stint on the editorial board; was first woman and person of color to sit on the board). I've also been a columnist, feature writer and copy editor. (I was supposed to return to full-time column writing in 2003, but liked the anonymous nature of editorials). I wrote a syndicated column for United Feature Syndicate for seven years and contributed columns to USA Today."

Riede's obituary continued, "Her death came as a shock to friends and relatives, said Gina Ogden, a former colleague at The Post-Standard and close friend.

" 'Sandi as a person touched a lot of lives, as a Christian touched a lot of lives and as a journalist touched a lot of lives,' Ogden said. 'She loved to laugh. She was witty, she was fun, she was smart.'

"Smokes started her career at the Herald-Journal in 1977 and held a variety of reporting and editing positions in the newsroom. She left the newspaper twice to pursue other endeavors, including a nationally syndicated column. She was back as an editorial writer for The Post-Standard in 2009 when Smokes accepted a buyout offer so she could spend more time with her two nieces and her nephew, for whom she had accepted guardianship."

Debra Adams Simmons, editor of the Plain Dealer of Cleveland, told Journal-isms, "Sandi was the first journalist of color I worked with at my first newspaper, the Syracuse Herald-Journal, where I began working one week after graduating from Syracuse University in 1986.

"This is devastating news," Adams Simmons said. "Sandi brought a sense of place to the journalism she produced in Syracuse that was unmatched. She understood the culture and rhythm of the city, she identified with the people and she appreciated the nuances that distinguish Syracuse from other places. Hers was a passionate and courageous voice — especially for those most often unheard."

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