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News to Use: The Browning of America

May 18, 2012

Census milestone eluded most front pages; L.A. Times to hire 5 with Ford Foundation grant; Donna Summer a part of Boston, and vice-versa; for journalism schools, a call for "radical reform"; new leader wants journalists back in press club; reporters' right to protect sources under attack; mixed response in covering anti-Romney ad; 1 in 14 black men from New Orleans is behind bars (5/18/12)

Census Milestone Eluded Most Front Pages

L.A. Times to Hire 5 With Ford Foundation Grant

Donna Summer a Part of Boston, and Vice-Versa

For Journalism Schools, a Call for "Radical Reform"

New Leader Wants Journalists Back in Press Club

Reporters' Right to Protect Sources Under Attack

Mixed Response in Covering Anti-Romney Ad

A nighttime view of the Los Angeles Times building, foreground. Editor Davan Maharaj said, &

L.A. Times to Hire 5 With Ford Foundation Grant

"The Los Angeles Times will use a $1-million grant from the Ford Foundation to expand its coverage of key beats, including immigration and ethnic communities in Southern California, the southwest U.S. border and the emerging economic powerhouse of Brazil," James Rainey reported for the Times.

"Times Editor Davan Maharaj announced the gift Thursday, calling it 'great news' that will bolster coverage of subjects vitally important to readers.

"A Ford Foundation spokesman said that, as media organizations face challenges funding reporting through advertising and traditional revenue streams, 'we and many other funders are experimenting with new approaches to preserve and advance high-quality journalism.'

"The Times plans to use the two-year grant to hire journalists who will focus on the Vietnamese, Korean and other immigrant communities, the California prison system, the border region and Brazil. Maharaj said that although The Times already covered those beats, the reporting was typically done by journalists who also had other responsibilities. The five new reporters will provide more robust coverage of those topics."

". . . Ford Foundation spokesman Joe Voeller said the nation's second-largest foundation would consider extending the grant beyond two years. The Foundation and Times editors said the money comes with no strings attached and the newspaper will have complete editorial control over the new reporters and their coverage."

Donna Summer performs on "American Idol" on May 21, 2008.

Donna Summer a Part of Boston, and Vice-Versa

The surprising death of pop star Donna Summer, who rode the 1970s disco wave to prominence, was worldwide news. But the hometown paper can provide a perspective that no one else can, and so it is with the editorial in the Boston Globe for Saturday, "Donna Summer’s powerful voice was the soul of Dorchester." Editorial Page Editor Peter Canellos told Journal-isms it was the result of a "combination of all of the ideas" in Friday's editorial meeting, attended by six staff members.

"Every dance track on the radio today, every wedding that ends with the anthem 'Last Dance,' owes a debt to Donna Summer, the Dorchester-born singer and songwriter who died this week at 63," the editorial began. "Summer's big, smooth, confident voice, honed through years of singing gospel as a child at Grant AME Church in the South End, helped catapult her to stardom. As a singer and a lyricist, Summer channeled emotion and empathy. To generations of young people in dance clubs, her songs represented power, sensuality, and freedom.

"Summer also represented Boston, though that wasn't always known to the larger world. To many people outside New England, the image of the Boston music scene is bound up with white artists such as Aerosmith, the Cars, or New Kids on the Block. Summer was as much a product of her hometown, if not more so: a symbol of the many urban children who grow up singing, and never stop. She visited her old church over the years and sang at the 2004 World Series. As recently as 2010, she raised money for Action for Boston Community Development, the antipoverty agency that provided her with services as a child. In 2008, Summer told the Globe that Boston 'is a part of me.' The opposite is just as true, and always will be."

For Journalism Schools, a Call for "Radical Reform"

In 2005, the Carnegie Foundation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation created a national initiative led by five of America's leading research universities. The goal was to advance the U.S. news business by helping to revitalize schools of journalism.

Eric Newton"This was before Facebook got big," Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president at Knight Foundation, explained in a May 11 speech before a conference of journalism educators. "Before Twitter, Instagram, Groupon or Pinterest. Before the iPhone or the iPad. Before the largest collapse in American newsroom history, with vanishing local journalism jobs totaling more than 15,000," Borderzine reported.

"Radical change requires radical reform," Newton said at the "Journalism Education in the Digital Age" conference at Middle Tennessee State University. "The digital age is turning journalism and communication upside down and inside out. It should be doing the same to journalism and communication education. You tell me: Is it? Has your program turned upside down and inside out?

"In my opinion it should, if you want to ride the four transformational trends demonstrated by Carnegie-Knight schools, and all top tier schools. To be relevant in the future, here’s what universities should do:

"1. Expand their role as community content providers. University hospitals save lives. University law clinics take cases to the Supreme Court. University news labs can reveal truths that help us right wrongs. Based on the teaching hospital model, they can provide the news people need to run their communities and their lives.

"2. Innovate. No longer must you be the caboose on the train of American media. You can be an engine of change. You can create both new uses of software and new software itself. Anyone can create the future of news and information. Anyone includes us.

"3. Teach open, collaborative methods. No longer must students be lone wolf reporters or cogs in a company wheel. In small, integrated teams of designers, entrepreneurs, programmers and journalists, students learned to rapidly prototype news projects and ideas.

"4. Connect to the whole university. This can mean team-teaching a science journalism class with actual scientists. Or creating centers with engineers or entrepreneurs. Or diving so deeply into topic expertise our colleagues at Harvard call it, as they did for Carnegie-Knight, 'knowledge journalism.' "

The initiative is formally called the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education.

New Leader Wants Journalists Back in Press Club

The Capital Press Club, founded in 1944 in the nation's capital when the National Press Club did not accept black journalists as members, lately has been an organization of marketing, public relations and other Hazel Trice Edney"communications professionals." But Hazel Trice Edney, its new president, told Journal-isms this week, "The strongest aspect of my vision is to return the historical Capital Press Club to its original mission and purpose."

". . . the CPC was initially founded by journalists. As stated in the original history, there is still 'very important unfinished business of American democracy — civil rights and equal opportunity.' "

Edney was elected by the press club board April 19 and took office on May 1. She is president and CEO of Trice Edney Communications, editor-in-chief of Trice Edney News Wire, former editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service and Blackpressusa.com and former interim executive director of the NNPA Foundation.

"Although we will continue to include strong membership and networking opportunities for all disciplines in the media/communications field, we are currently working to draw professional journalists back to the organization in order to re-establish the balance," she told Journal-isms by email.

"We are also discussing a long-range vision of expanding nationally. I have already reached out to Dr. Barbara Reynolds, Denise Rolark Barnes and other journalists . . . who I hope will serve as advisors on some of these matters. I also intend to form a group of CPC journalists who will specialize in interviewing high-level government officials, etc., such as President Obama — breaking barriers that have either never moved or seem to have been reset by forces of habit or antiquated policies."

According to a news release, "The new leadership team also includes First Vice President Robyn Wilkes, Director of Communications, Greater Washington Urban League; Second Vice President Sherrie Edwards-[Lassiter], Senior Account Manager, Campbell and Company; Treasurer Joan Davion of The Davion Group; Immediate Past President Nyree Wright, Senior Vice President, MSLGROUP Americas; and [Derrick] Kenny, who is also Digital Media Manager, Montgomery County Office of Cable and Broadband Services." Kenny is press club president emeritus and owner of Bold American Marketing.

Reporters' Right to Protect Sources Under Attack

"The Obama administration Friday morning continued its headlong attack on the right of reporters to protect their confidential sources in leak investigations," Michael Calderone and Dan Froomkin reported for the Huffington Post.

"Before a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, a Department of Justice lawyer argued that New York Times reporter James Risen should be forced to testify in the trial of former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, who is charged with leaking classified information to Risen about a botched plot against the Iranian government.

"Rather than arguing the specifics of the case, DOJ appellate lawyer Robert A. Parker asserted that there is no reporter's privilege when a journalist receives an illegal leak of national security secrets."

Mixed Response in Covering Anti-Romney Ad

"One of the moments in the 2012 presidential race that we all know was coming arrived this week: the Obama campaign launched its first round of attacks on Mitt Romney [video] over his tenure at Bain Capital," Jay Jones reported Friday for Columbia Journalism Review.

"Unsurprisingly, there was a swing-state emphasis to the offensive. In addition to new TV commercials and a website targeting 'Romney economics,' the President's people organized news conferences in three battleground states — Iowa, Nevada, and Ohio — using labor leaders and prominent Democrats to attack the record of the presumptive Republican nominee. Their focus was Stage Stores, a chain of clothing stores that filed for bankruptcy and reportedly shed 6,000 jobs after Bain sold most of its interest in the company at a huge profit in the late 1990s.

"The Obama campaign's strategy also posed a challenge for reporters at local media outlets: Would they take the story served up on a silver platter, or get deeper into the complexities and provide the necessary balance? A look at some of the coverage shows a mixed response."

"If the inmate count dips, sheriffs bleed money. Their constituents lose jo

1 in 14 Black Men From New Orleans Is Behind Bars

"Louisiana is the world's prison capital," Cindy Chang wrote Sunday for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, beginning an eight-part series.

"The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran's, seven times China's and 10 times Germany's.

"The hidden engine behind the state's well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash. A majority of Louisiana inmates are housed in for-profit facilities, which must be supplied with a constant influx of human beings or a $182 million industry will go bankrupt.

"Several homegrown private prison companies command a slice of the market. But in a uniquely Louisiana twist, most prison entrepreneurs are rural sheriffs, who hold tremendous sway in remote parishes like Madison, Avoyelles, East Carroll and Concordia. A good portion of Louisiana law enforcement is financed with dollars legally skimmed off the top of prison operations. . . .

"Meanwhile, inmates subsist in bare-bones conditions with few programs to give them a better shot at becoming productive citizens. Each inmate is worth $24.39 a day in state money, and sheriffs trade them like horses, unloading a few extras on a colleague who has openings. A prison system that leased its convicts as plantation labor in the 1800s has come full circle and is again a nexus for profit.

"In the past two decades, Louisiana's prison population has doubled, costing taxpayers billions while New Orleans continues to lead the nation in homicides.

"One in 86 adult Louisianians is doing time, nearly double the national average. Among black men from New Orleans, one in 14 is behind bars; one in seven is either in prison, on parole or on probation. Crime rates in Louisiana are relatively high, but that does not begin to explain the state's No. 1 ranking, year after year, in the percentage of residents it locks up."

Short Takes

  • Mandalit del Barco"Congratulations, Mandalit del Barco, correspondent, national desk, NPR West. Our very important competition has determined yours to be the singular Best Name In Public Radio," blogger Mike Keliher wrote Thursday. "You must have a lot of Facebook friends or something because you turned in a handy whooping against your colleague Yuki Noguchi." Del Barco replied, ". . . Btw, Mandalit comes from one of the love songs in the musical work 'Carmina Burana' (13th century lyrics put to music in the 20th century by composer Carl Orff). My parents were culturally astute and really original and loved the dramatic sound. del Barco is Peruvian."

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