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Swanston to Be Unity's Interim Executive Director

September 6, 2012

Walt SwanstonVeteran diversity professional returns to coalition (9/6/12); Boston Globe rates Romney as governor; Clinton speech scores with highest tweets per minute; are Americans better off than in '08? It's semantics; Courant scraps embarrassing Google Translate; former columnist "proud" to be with Castro twins; reporter says question to Jarrett got him the boot; writer gains access to Karl Rove fundraiser; MSNBC wins cable news race on DNC opening night; Ryan to fact-checking critics: "Read the speech"; pundits swoon over Michelle Obama speech; ESPN names new team for "Numbers" (9/5/12)

Veteran Diversity Professional Returns to Coalition

Boston Globe Rates Romney as Governor

September 5, 2012

"Not Quite" the Image Presidential Campaign Paints

Clinton Speech Scores With Highest Tweets Per Minute

Are Americans Better Off Than in '08? It's Semantics

Courant Scraps Embarrassing Google Translate

Former Columnist "Proud" to Be With Castro Twins

Reporter Says Question to Jarrett Got Him the Boot

Writer Gains Access to Karl Rove Fundraiser

MSNBC Wins Cable News Race on DNC Opening Night

Ryan to Fact-Checking Critics: "Read the Speech"

Pundits Swoon Over Michelle Obama Speech

ESPN Names New Team for "Numbers"

Short Takes

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick delivers an impassioned rebuke of Mitt Romney's

"Not Quite" the Image Presidential Campaign Paints

". . . Governor Deval Patrick, speaking Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, assailed his predecessor’s economic record, pointing to anemic job growth and deep budget cuts that affected education, transportation, and other programs that support the state’s economy," Megan Woolhouse and Michael Rezendes reported Wednesday for the Boston Globe. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign "responded that the former governor turned a wide budget deficit into a surplus, held the line on taxes, and left office with fewer unemployed in Massachusetts than today."

Who's right?

In another example of news organizations responding quickly to varying assertions of the truth, the Globe answered the question quickly online and in the morning paper:

"In many ways, Romney inherited a state economy in 2003 similar to the one President Barack Obama found entering the White House in 2009, one marked by a deep recession, huge job losses, and a widening budget deficit," Woolhouse and Rezendes continued.

"And like Obama, Romney struggled mightily, delivering at best a modest recovery dictated less by his political leadership than by sprawling global forces beyond his control.

"Like Obama, Romney could also point to an economy that was much improved from the worst of the recession. But, as with the US economy today, progress was slow, painstaking, and for many, disappointing.

"At the end of his term, Romney could claim a small net job gain and a lower unemployment rate, but the pace of job growth lagged the nation badly and only a huge outflow of Massachusetts workers to faster growing states kept the unemployment rate from climbing higher.

"It is not quite the image of a turnaround painted by Romney's presidential campaign.

". . . But Romney's handling of the Massachusetts' economy was more complicated than the unemployment rate or state's credit rating would indicate. His budgetary and economic decisions offer insight into his personal and political priorities. There were unexpected foes, victories, and lost opportunities. . . ."

Clinton Speech Scores With Highest Tweets Per Minute

Bill Clinton's electrifying speech Wednesday night nominating President Obama for reelection topped Twitter, seeing the night's highest spike in tweets per minute, Anita Li reported early Thursday for Mashable.

"At 22,087 TPM, the end of Clinton's 50-minute-long address Wednesday beat Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's peak last week in Tampa, but was lower than First Lady Michelle Obama's Tuesday night, according to Twitter's official blog," Li reported.

To mark the first time a former president has nominated an incumbent one, the Washington Post deployed David Maraniss, author of biographies of both men, to write a stage-setter that was published on Monday.

". . . The relationship between Clinton and Obama has evolved in stages," Maraniss wrote. "The earliest step toward reconciliation might be the most telling: when Obama, as president-elect, asked Hillary Clinton to serve as secretary of state. She needed persuading, and in this case Obama and Bill Clinton were co-conspirators, both pushing the idea that she should take the job. If there were political calculations involved on either side, the simple fact that Hillary Clinton joined the Obama administration changed the dynamics; that she proved to be indefatigable and adept as Madam Secretary at once heartened her husband and deepened the appreciation of the president.

"After two years during which they rarely spoke, the first public sign that Bill and Barack were teaming up on domestic policy issues came shortly after the 2010 midterm elections that proved disastrous for the Democrats, who lost control of the House and barely kept the Senate. Obama found himself making deals with House Republicans even before they took over, agreeing to some tax cuts in exchange for an extension of unemployment insurance.

"On the afternoon of Dec. 11, Clinton visited the Oval Office, where he and Obama spent a long session discussing the policy and politics of the situation and how to explain the president's position. It was, Obama said later, a 'terrific conversation' — so stimulating that he thought 'it might be useful' for Clinton to share his thoughts with the media and the public. Obama and Clinton seemed like tourists from Des Moines as they scrambled to find out how to open the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the White House and then round up enough reporters and cameras to make it worthwhile.

"When the scene was finally ready, Obama entered with Clinton at his side. With a smile, he called Clinton 'the other guy,' as in 'I thought I'd bring the other guy in.' The word 'guy' made it a term of affection and respect, marking a change from an earlier time when Obama would more often regard Clinton as simply 'the other' — an unpredictable and occasionally hostile alien force. . . . "

Are Americans Better Off Than in '08? It's Semantics

On Monday, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told a campaign rally audience in North Carolina that "the president can say a lot of things, but he can't tell you you are better off," the staff of NPR's "Fresh Air" said on Wednesday. "Later that day in Detroit, Vice President Joe Biden responded 'America is better off today than they left us.' "

David LeonhardtDavid Leonhardt, the New York Times Washington bureau chief who won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary last year for his columns on economics, was asked about those comments on "Fresh Air" Wednesday. He said that both Ryan and Biden are right: It's partly semantics.

"The country itself is better off," Leonhardt told host Terry Gross. The economy has stabilized since the recession in 2008, which was "a little bit worse than 1929. And yet, of course, we don't have anything that looks like the Great Depression. As bad as the economy is, we don't have unemployment at 20 percent."

But, Leonhardt said, when looking at measures such as household income and median wealth, "a typical American household is worse off than it was four years ago."

Financial crises inflict their damage "over many months and then there are long, slow, disappointing recoveries," he said.

"Ultimately, it is difficult to evaluate Ryan's and Biden's assertions, Leonhardt said, because the Republicans might have acted differently from the Democrats in the wake of the recession," the show summarized.

Courant Scraps Embarrassing Google Translate

The Hartford Courant late last week stopped using Google Translate to translate its pages into Spanish, and instead has developed Noticias, "a 100-percent Spanish language news site produced by our newsroom," Gary Weitman, spokesman for the parent Tribune Co., told Journal-isms on Wednesday.

The Courant had started using free software developed by Google to translate its stories into Spanish.

In July, former Courant columnist Bessy Reyna compiled some of the gaffes that resulted.

"It's hard to imagine that the Courant, the oldest continuously-published newspaper in the country, would think so little of its readers as to publish a poorly worded computer generated translation, without anyone verifying that the versions are grammatically correct," Reyna wrote. "Or does the paper think that Latinos are going to be ever so grateful to have to guess the meaning of the news in Spanish?"

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists added its voice last month, and offered to help the Courant better reach Spanish-speaking readers.

As Andrew Beaujon first reported Wednesday for the Poynter Institute, Weitman said, "The Courant has also hired a part-time local editor, Marysol Saldana-Knipper, who will assist in translating Courant-produced stories into Spanish. The Courant also recently launched Mi Comunidad, produced by Courant Photojournalist Patrick Raycraft, it's a multimedia news package highlighting stories from our growing Latino community. Patrick is fluent in Spanish and his stories will be appear regularly on Noticias."

Weitman added for Journal-isms by email, "In addition to locally produced content, Noticias will also feature Spanish written national and international stories that will primarily come from news feeds provided by Tribune papers in Florida and Chicago. Our new video partner, NDN, also offers a Spanish language video service we're using as well."

Weitman said, "This was a local decision made in Hartford."

In an email message written in lower case, NAHJ President Hugo Balta told Journal-isms, "i am encouraged by the changes the hartford courant has implemented. it's a positive step in the right direction in not only producing content that meets the journalistic standards of the newspaper, but also reflects the needs of the latino community. i look forward to further positive progress."

[Reyna messaged on Thursday, "I think they finally did the right thing. I am sure they would not have gotten the message without Poynter's and NAHJ's involvement in supporting my blog. I am very happy they will provide this service to the Latino community in the professional manner it should have had from the beginning. . (and, by the way, Courant never contacted me about the change, even though I had spoken with the person in charge of the Espanol web.)"]

Joaquin Castro, right, introduces his twin brother, Julian, Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention (Video)

Former Columnist "Proud" to Be With Castro Twins

Last October, Cary Clack left his hometown paper, the San Antonio Express-News, where he had been a columnist for 17 years, to become communications director and senior adviser for Texas State Rep. Joaquin Castro's congressional campaign.

This week, Clack is at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where Joaquin and his twin brother, Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, created buzz Tuesday as Julian became the first Latino  to deliver a DNC keynote.

Cary Clack

"Things are going great," Clack told Journal-isms Wednesday by email. "When I left the paper, it was a gamble because Joaquin was in a tough primary fight and if he'd lost I would have been without a job.

"Now, he's the prohibitive favorite (and has been since December) and Julian delivering the keynote and Joaquin introducing him was something that was thought about a year ago. It was surreal to be on the floor last night and see both of them on stage and on the big screen. I've never regretted leaving the Express-News. I owe so much to them — they made my career — but I've never regretted leaving. I'm touched immensely that three days don't go by without someone saying or writing how much they miss me. I wasn't expected to be missed this long but it was time.

"But I must say that this is the first big event I've been to which I wasn't covering and, instinctively, I find myself framing columns and stories in my head. But I'm proud to be associated with one of the big stories this week: the stepping onto the national stage of Julian and Joaquin Castro. They are as good and real as they appear."

Reporter Says Question to Jarrett Got Him the Boot

An independent journalist wrote Wednesday that authorities threw him out of the media section at the Democratic National Convention after he asked presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, who had just concluded a television interview, about the Obama administration's use of drone strikes. Jarrett told him to schedule an interview.

Michael TraceyMichael Tracey, who writes for salon.com and the American Conservative, told Journal-isms by telephone, "My assumption was that her staff and the event staff were working in concert" when he was thrown out.

However, Clo Ewing, director of constituency press, who was present during the incident, told Journal-isms by telephone that calling the authorities "was not something I asked to happen." Nor did Jarrett, Ewing said, adding that she was still trying to determine what had taken place.

Tracey posted his account on theamericanconservative.com. Salon spokesman Liam O'Donoghue told Journal-isms by email, "I've been informed that Mike Tracey is not attending the DNC as a representative or correspondent for Salon."

Tracey's piece began, "Top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett's staff called the cops to kick me out of a media area last night when I questioned her about drone strikes.

"As I sat up in the rafters listening to some Democratic National Convention speech — I don't even particularly remember which one — Jarrett suddenly appeared to my right. She was being interviewed on camera by some television hack; I don't even particularly know whom. So I rose from my seat and observed. There was an unnerving coldness about Jarrett's demeanor — naturally, she laughed and smiled for the camera, bantering obligingly. But callousness underlain this guise of mainstream jocular propriety. I could see it in her eyes. . . ."

Jack Mirkinson of the Huffington Post cited the Tracey incident Wednesday under the headline, "Journalists Confronted By Police, Undercover Agents While Covering The DNC."

". . . In a post on Tuesday night, Kevin Gosztola, a journalist for the Firedoglake blog, wrote about the police intimidation that he and fellow journalist Steve Horn had encountered during one of several protests that have been carried out by undocumented immigrants over the course of the convention," Mirkinson wrote.

Writer Gains Access to Karl Rove Fundraiser

"On the final morning of the Republican National Convention, Karl Rove took the stage at the Tampa Club to provide an exclusive breakfast briefing to about 70 of the Republican Party's highest-earning and most powerful donors," Sheelah Kolhatkar wrote Friday for Bloomberg Businessweek. She was the only reporter in the room.

What emerged from focus group data, Rove told the donors, "is an 'acute Sheelah Kolhatkarunderstanding of the nature of those undecided, persuadable' voters. 'If you say he's a socialist, they'll go to defend him. If you call him a "far out left-winger," they’ll say, "no, no, he's not." ' The proper strategy, Rove declared, was criticizing Obama without really criticizing him — by reminding voters of what the president said that he was going to do and comparing it to what he's actually done. 'If you keep it focused on the facts and adopt a respectful tone, then they're gonna agree with you.'

" . . . Rove spoke almost exclusively about defeating Barack Obama and retaking control of the White House. There was sparse praise for Mitt Romney — either as a candidate or as a future leader and policy maker."

Michael Calderone wrote for the Huffington Post, "Kolhatkar's piece about the Rove breakfast — published the following day by a business magazine rather than any of the myriad non-stop news sites and broadcast outlets — stood out amid reams of convention reporting, punditry, and Clint Eastwood-related tweets. It was an out-and-out scoop, an important window into Rove's role as the Republican Party's Daddy Warbucks, and the only piece Kolhatkar wrote before flying back to New York the next day. "

" 'I think it's an important reminder of what's really driving this entire election," Kolhatkar said. 'It gave us a real look at how these guys talk and how they see this whole thing, which is almost a big game they're very determined to win.' "

MSNBC Wins Cable News Race on DNC Opening Night

'MSNBC president Phil Griffin is a happy man," Michael Calderone wrote Tuesday for the Huffington Post.

"On Wednesday afternoon, Griffin learned that MSNBC was the top-rated cable network for the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, a first in its 16-year history and a validation of the network's progressive shift in recent years. . . . "

Ryan to Fact-Checking Critics: "Read the Speech"

"Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan aggressively defended himself Tuesday against allegations that his GOP convention speech last week stretched the truth, saying that opponents and fact-checkers accusing him of false or misleading statements should 'read the speech,' " Jerry Markon and Felicia Sonmez wrote Wednesday in the Washington Post.

"Democrats are seizing on Ryan's remarks, seeking to link them to his earlier errors about his personal marathon time and whether his congressional office sought economic stimulus dollars. On the campaign trail this week, Ryan also misstated the number of bankruptcies filed during President Obama's tenure. . . ."

Pundits Swoon Over Michelle Obama Speech

"Members of the media immediately praised First Lady Michelle Obama's 2012 Democratic National Convention speech on Tuesday night," Rebecca Shapiro wrote Wednesday for Huffington Post. "Obama, who stunned in a custom Tracy Reese dress, took the stage just after 10:30 p.m. EST.

"Across the cable news networks, pundits swooned over Obama's delivery. There seemed to be some mixed reviews over the strength of the speech itself, but the media seemed to agree that Obama nailed the performance."

Jalen Rose, left, Michael Smith and Hugh Douglas.

ESPN Names New Team for "Numbers"

"Numbers Never Lie will get a new look on Monday, September 10, when ESPN commentators Jalen Rose and Hugh Douglas join host Michael Smith in fulltime roles," ESPN reported on Wednesday. "The show, which launched in September 2011, offers lively debate and roundtable discussion with quantifiable answers. Numbers Never Lie has one host, two athletes, three opinions, but the analytics will end the debate."

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