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Voter Fraud "Infinitesimal"

August 13, 2012

Credit: Mother JonesNational J-school project reviewed 5,000 documents; Unity, NABJ conferences register equal number; NLGJA won't join in "black homophobia" charges; women but no people of color will moderate debates; blacks scarce on Sunday shows for Ryan discussion; CNN considers packaged shows for weekends; journalists could be the loudest fans of all; ex-FCC commissioners support affirmative action (8/13/12)

National J-School Project Reviewed 5,000 Documents

The Unity Journalists conference in Las Vegas registered members of the Asian Am

Unity, NABJ Conferences Register Equal Number

The first Unity conference without the National Association of Black Journalists registered 2,385 people, Onica M. Makwakwa, Unity's executive director, told Journal-isms on Monday. The figure contrasts with the 7,550 attendees at the 2008 Unity convention in Chicago on its final Sunday, though that figure includes sponsors and others who were not registered.

NABJ held its own convention in New Orleans in June, drawing 2,386 registrants, Executive Director Maurice Foster said then.

Although the numbers are about the same (they do not account for those, such as sponsors and guests, who might have attended but did not register), the mood at each was dramatically different. Though many praised the Unity programming, the absence of NABJ hung over the convention. At NABJ, by contrast, members were energized by having pulled off the event on relatively short notice, complete with newsmakers, seemingly without missing a beat.

The 2,385 figure for the fifth Unity convention, held Aug. 1-4 in Las Vegas, includes members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, which was invited to join by the then Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc., after NABJ pulled out last year. NABJ cited financial and governance issues.

New NLGJA President Michael R. Triplett said that his association did not yet have an exact count of its registrants, but "I assume it will be in the 205-210 range." That exceeds the goal of about 165, he said, but is fewer than the 350 who attended NLGJA's stand-alone conference in Philadelphia last year, Executive Director Michael Tune told Journal-isms then.

The largest Unity contingent apparently came from the Asian American Journalists Association. Executive Director Kathy Chow told the AAJA board, "Based on estimates we can pull from the Unity portal, we had 606 total attendees registered as affiliated with AAJA at Unity. Some may be speakers or exhibitors affiliated with AAJA rather than paid registrants, but it will take some time to get the specifics."

In Detroit last year, Antonio M. Salas, AAJA's membership and chapter development manager, said 658 people were in attendance as of the Friday of that convention, including 382 AAJA members and 456 full registrants.

NAHJ Interim Executive Director Anna Lopez Buck told Journal-isms by email, "The last number I have of paid registrations is what I reported to the board on July 30th at 525."

That is about the same as NAHJ had at its stand-alone convention last year in Orlando, which attracted 870 people, with 520 paid registrants, then-Executive Director Ivan Roman said at the time.

NAJA Executive Director Jeff Harjo, whose resignation was announced on Friday, said he did not have the figures for his group. Eighty-two people registered for last year's NAJA convention in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Attendees did not have to register as members of one of the journalist associations. "What I can tell you is that there were 24 guest, 193 speaker and 234 exhibit staff registrants," Makwakwa said by email. "I can't tell you the actual number of sponsor and other types of registrants, e.g., one-day passes, comps, etc., as these were not assigned a unique designation in our system and therefore would require a comprehensive review of registration data to tease out."

It remains to be seen how profitable Unity will be for each of the associations. Makwakwa said when the convention opened that the coalition fell $200,000 short of its sponsorship goals. It had sought $1.25 million, she said.

Regardless, Unity will not have to pay the host hotels any penalty for failure to book enough rooms, a circumstance that proved costly to the associations in 2009 and 2010, when the recession was at its height, news organizations were trimming staff and attendance was down.

"We did not have an attrition clause so we were never expecting any hotel related penalties for room block fulfillment," Makwakwa said by email.

NLGJA Won't Join in "Black Homophobia" Charges

In the opening session of the Unity Journalists convention, Mark Whitaker, executive vice president and managing editor of CNN Worldwide, moderating a panel, falsely stated that the National Association of Black Journalists had left Unity because of the presence of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, rather than the financial and governance issues NABJ cited.

NABJ had left Unity before Unity invited NLGJA to join, but none of the panelists corrected Whitaker.

Michael R. Triplett

The false scenario was repeated in print and on blogs under such headlines as "Claims of black homophobia split UNITY minority journalist convention," by Tim Curran of The SiriusXM OutQ News Blog.

Some publications played down concerns that Unity was straying from its race-based origins to focus on the accusations of homophobia.

Leaders of NLGJA told Journal-isms Monday that they do not share the assumptions made by some reporters and NLGJA members, assertions that angered some members of NABJ.

"I remain pro-reunification. UNITY isn't UNITY without NABJ," new NLGJA President Michael R. Triplett said by email. "I share many of the concerns NABJ raised regarding transparency and oversight and the hope is that a change in staff and leadership will provide an opportunity to examine those concerns." Unity will choose a new executive director to succeed Onica M. Makwakwa, who announced during the Unity convention that she is leaving to take a job in her native South Africa. In the fall, Unity elects new officers.

"It's unfortunate that this has turned into a discussion of alleged homophobia because it is a distraction given there is no evidence that it may have played a role in NABJ cutting off reunification talks," Triplett said.

Earlier, outgoing NLGJA president David Steinberg wrote in a Facebook posting, ". . . I spoke with NABJ President Greg Lee during the convention and we agree on a lot of the issues that were at the heart of NABJ pulling out.

"I think it's really important to realize that in the past year or so of discussions, neither NLGJA nor anyone in the leadership of NLGJA ever said that NABJ was homophobic or that NABJ blocked NLGJA from joining UNITY. Those comments came from other folks."

NABJ has noted that since each member association of Unity has only four votes of the 16, it would not be possible for one association to block an action or impose its will.

Women but No People of Color Will Moderate Debates

"The moderating duties for the four presidential and vice presidential debates this year will be evenly split between male and female journalists for the first time . . .," Brian Stelter reported Monday for the New York Times.

However, as Eric Deggans noted for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, ". . . in an election which will include the first black president attempting to win another term, there will be no non-white moderators handling either a vice presidential or presidential debate for the first time since 1996."

Jim Lehrer of PBS, Bob Schieffer of CBS, Candy Crowley of CNN and Martha Raddatz of ABC will be the moderators, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday morning. The first debate is scheduled for Oct. 3 in Denver.

Deggans added, "It's sad to note that there are so few journalists of color in key anchor positions, that there are few other names with the experience, profile, gravitas and record of impartial journalism needed.

"NBC's Lester Holt? Ifill's colleague Ray Suarez on the NewsHour? CNN's Don Lemon, Christiane Amanpour or Soledad O'Brien? (NPR's Michele Norris, another great pick, is sidelined from political coverage because her husband is working on [President] Obama's campaign.)

"At a time when the biggest non-white voice in news media may be opinionators such as Al Sharpton and Geraldo Rivera, a set of debates where the candidates are more ethnically diverse than the moderators may say an awful lot about the failing struggle to diversify the journalism business."

Alyssa Rosenberg of thinkprogress.org wrote that she agreed with Deggans:

" . . . part of this is a pipeline problem — Anderson Cooper's diversion into daytime television also doesn't help the cause of getting a gay moderator either. But I also think that part of this is about preserving the right of white guys to interrogate other white guys. President Obama's presence on the stage is meant to represent African-American interests, never mind the interests of other minority groups.

"Women get their crack at him and the other men who will take the podium. If, in four years, we're back to a bunch of white guys, I imagine moderators of color will get a chance again. But as long as we have as few presidential debates as we have, there remain few opportunities to question the candidates, and scant time to get in all the questions, from all the quarters of America, that they should be prepared to answer."

Blacks Scarce on Sunday Shows For Ryan Discussion

With Juan Williams away from "Fox News Sunday" and NBC's "Meet the Press," CBS' "Face the Nation" and ABC's "This Week" devoid of on-air African Americans, CNN's Dan Lothian apparently became the only black presence on the major Sunday morning talk shows. The major topic on all of them was Mitt Romney's selection Saturday of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate.

In his maiden speech as Romney's choice, Ryan slipped in a veiled shot at affirmative action efforts: "We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes." But that was not to be a Sunday discussion topic.

Dan LothianLothian, a White House correspondent, appeared on "State of the Union with Candy Crowley." ". . . I think they realized that there was nothing — there was nothing that he could really do to move the needle when it comes to minorities," Lothian said of Romney.

CROWLEY: "Well, Rubio," referring to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a Cuban-American.

"Well, Rubio he could have done that," Lothian conceded.

CROWLEY: "Well, at some level Jindal probably would have been able to do that as well," referring to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American.

"Exactly. Exactly," Lothian said. "But you know, there had been a lot of complaining among the Tea Party, the right of the party, about Mitt Romney's conservative credentials. So he has been able to essentially put that I think to bed by picking — making this choice."

CNN Considers Packaged Shows for Weekends

"CNN says it is not getting into the reality television business, though it is considering adding weekend programs that are similar to a documentary-style travel show hosted by Anthony Bourdain that it will begin showing next year," Bill Carter reported Monday for the New York Times.

CNN was responding to a report in the New York Post on Monday that it was entering into discussions about adding reality shows to its lineup.

". . . Other news networks do offer packaged nonfiction programs on the weekends. MSNBC has long relied on 'Lockup,' a prison documentary series. And Fox News has presented the military history series 'War Stories With Oliver North.'

"CNN is clearly seeking new directions for its programs. Its ratings have recently hit 20-year lows and Jim Walton announced in July that he was stepping down as president, saying, 'CNN needs new thinking.' . . ."

Journalists celebrate after watching Colombia's Mariana Pajon's win a gold medal

Journalists Could Be the Loudest Fans of All

"Minutes after British track-and-field darling Jessica Ennis sped over the finish line for a heptathlon gold in front of 80,000 spectators at the Olympic stadium Saturday, BBC sportscaster Steve Cram took stock of the jubilation — in the broadcast booth," Charles Forelle and David Enrich wrote from London Aug. 7 for the Wall Street Journal, days before the weekend's closing ceremonies.

" 'We all stood on our feet and applauded,' Mr. Cram reported. 'To a man, everybody in the broadcasting positions that we're in — and there's some hardened hacks in here as well…all stood up.'

"The excited BBC response seemed almost measured compared with the scene Thursday when three men in 'Mongolia National Team' jackets sat in the media bleachers at the Olympic judo venue. They weren't from the Mongolia National Team. They were from TV5, a Mongolian broadcaster.

"When Mongolian judoka Lkhamdegd Purevjargal won in the women's round of 32, the journalists danced in the aisles of the bleachers, hoisting up their country's red, blue and gold flag.

"There is an edict among old-school sportswriters: No cheering in the press box. It can be pretty strict. Last year, a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated's website lost his contract after clapping in the media center when a feel-good rookie won the Daytona 500.

"Things are a little different over here. Many of the 21,000 members of the Olympic media could be part of a traveling fan brigade, living the thrills and disappointments of their national squads.

"American networks, which rarely engage in open rooting, are leaving little doubt about their allegiances during these Olympic Games."

Ex-FCC Commissioners Support Affirmative Action

"The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) announced today that it, along with a bi-partisan group composed of six former Federal Communications Commissioners and one former FCC General Counsel, filed an amici curiae brief with the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the University of Texas (UT) supporting UT's admissions program designed to create diversity in higher education (Fisher v. University of Texas)," the MMTC announced on Monday.

"Former FCC Commissioners Andrew C. Barrett, Tyrone Brown, Michael J. Copps, Reed E. Hundt, Nicholas Johnson, and Gloria Tristani, along with former FCC General Counsel Christopher Wright, partnered with MMTC on the brief, in their individual capacities. Detailing their collective experience in promoting media diversity, the amici brief argues that '[d]iversity in higher education allows not only for a robust exchange of ideas on campus; it is an essential predicate for ensuring a robust exchange of ideas in communication through mass media.'

"The amici brief urges the Court to uphold UT's admissions program, which was previously upheld in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief also asks the Court to affirm UT's reliance on the Court's precedent in Grutter v. Bollinger, which led to UT's crafting of a 'holistic' admissions assessment program in which race was merely a 'factor of a factor of a factor' representing a modest component of UT's admissions profile, and from which applicants of any race may benefit."

In February, Adam Liptak of the New York Times wrote, "Both supporters and opponents of affirmative action said they saw the announcement" that the Supreme Court would take the case" — and the change in the court's makeup since 2003 — as a signal that the court's five more conservative members might be prepared to do away with racial preferences in higher education."

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