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Cable Stays Partisan in Recall Coverage

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June 6, 2012

teaserFox roots for Wisconsin governor — MSNBC for unions; Cleveland anchor Leon Bibb out of 6 p.m. chair; little outrage at prospect of Birmingham cutbacks; black churches demonstrate to keep pastors on cable; Roland Martin on CNN suspension, personal brands; "60 Minutes" has difficulty finding correspondents; Romney scuttled affirmative action policies in Mass.; whites wrote 90% of books reviewed in N.Y. Times; reunited after nearly 30 years (6/6/12)

Fox Roots for Wisconsin Governor; MSNBC for Unions

Cleveland Anchor Leon Bibb Out of 6 p.m. Chair

Little Outrage at Prospect of Birmingham Cutbacks

Black Churches Demonstrate to Keep Pastors on Cable

Roland Martin on CNN Suspension, Building One's Brand

"60 Minutes" Has Difficulty Finding Correspondents

Romney Scuttled Affirmative Action Policies in Mass.

Cleveland Anchor Leon Bibb Out of 6 p.m. Chair

"Leon Bibb, one of the most familiar faces in Cleveland television news, no longer sits in the 6 p.m. anchor chair for WEWS Channel 5," Chuck Yarborough reported in a front-page story in Thursday's print edition of the Plain Dealer.

"The 67-year-old Emmy-winning veteran newsman has been replaced by Chris Flanagan, who also co-anchors Channel 5's 11 p.m. newscast with Danita Harris. The shift went into effect Monday.

"Sam Rosenwasser, Channel 5's vice president and general manager, said Bibb has been reassigned to do two new programs, 'Leon Bibb's Ohio' and 'Leon Bibb's Perspective.' He will continue to anchor the station's noon newscast as well as its Sunday morning news program, 'Kaleidoscope,' Rosenwasser said.

" 'Leon is still a very vital part of what we have here,' Rosenwasser said. 'We want to put a spotlight on what he has.'

"Attempts to reach Bibb, who was raised in Cleveland and began his career as a Plain Dealer reporter, were unsuccessful.

". . . Competitors reacted to the reassignment with surprise.

" 'This is a guy who's had a distinguished career,' said Dan Salamone, news director at Channel 19. 'I don't understand what that decision is about. I have a lot of respect for Leon. He's done it the right way, and he exudes Cleveland. He's a fantastic anchor and I'm just shocked.' "

Little Outrage at Prospect of Birmingham Cutbacks

"I've heard the questions all day," John Archibald wrote Tuesday in the Birmingham (Ala.) News.

"Why are people protesting the new printing schedule at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, but not at the Birmingham News and other affected cities?" Print editions would be published only three days a week.

Allen Toussaint plays at a Save the Picayune rally on Monday. High profile New O". . . look at the nature of the cities.

"New Orleans has identity and pride. Birmingham has division and hostility.

"We can't get together to 'save' anything, because we can't agree that anything is worth saving."

Kyle Whitmire, editor of new media of Weld for Birmingham, listed other reasons, one harkening to the News' segregationist past.

". . . What’s clear to me is that the key to having a good newspaper and maintaining a good audience is knowing when to defy readers' expectations and when to live up to them. Historically, the News has done a poor job of doing either.

"The News spent decades building a bad reputation for itself. It defended segregation and was not willing to hold up a mirror to the city it covered. Slowly it moved to the right side of history, but when it did, it did so with reporting that was stripped of any voice or editorial latitude. In part, I think that was the News' way of defining itself against the Birmingham Post-Herald, which was a more writerly paper with stronger positions and a more distinct voice. That has changed too, but again, slowly. From the pages of the Post-Herald, Ted Bryant kicked ass years before the News would even let itself have a metro columnist.

"In many ways, the News is now paying for the sins of its fathers, and perhaps that isn't fair.

". . . Great cities need great newspapers. It might not matter today whether newspapers are digital or print, but no city has become great without them.

"New Orleans realizes that. It’s time for Birmingham to realize that, too."

Solomon Crenshaw Jr., a Birmingham native, 32-year veteran of the Birmingham News and president of the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists, disagreed with Whitmire.

Crenshaw told Journal-isms by telephone that New Orleans has a relationship with its readers "that was baptized by Katrina," which gives it "a unique circumstance." The newspaper not only covered the catastrophe, it went through the ordeal along with readers.

Crenshaw said he had spoken to some Birmingham residents who are concerned about proposed cuts at the News, and that contrary to Whitmire's argument, voices at the News did speak out against ousted mayor Larry Langford, who was sentenced in 2010 to 15 years in federal prison. Langford was convicted on 60 counts of bribery, fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and filing false tax returns stemming from his time as president of the Jefferson County Commission.

The Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative, leads

Black Churches Demonstrate to Keep Pastors on Cable

About 35 demonstrators representing a coalition of 34,000 black churches marched in front of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington Wednesday, saying many viewers of faith-based television programs would lose access to them if the FCC lets expire a rule requiring cable systems to carry the shows.

"Unless it takes action, the FCC's so-called three-year-old 'viewability rule' is set to automatically expire on June 12," Doug Halonen explained Tuesday for theWrap.com.

"The rule ensures that all 58 million cable TV subscribers have access to local must-carry signals — not just the 46 million who subscribe to digital cable." The "must-carry" rule mandates that cable companies carry various local and public television stations within a cable provider's service area.

"Eliminating the viewability rule would severely undermine the viewership of independent, religious and foreign-language stations that rely on the regulation to reach all cable viewers, broadcasters say," Halonen wrote.

John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable reported late Wednesday that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is siding with the cable industry, not the broadcasters and churches.

"Cable operators will no longer be required to provide both analog and digital versions of must-carry TV station signals as of December 2012 if FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gets his way, with low-cost converter boxes considered a sufficient vehicle for allowing analog customers to continue to view TV station signals," Eggerton reported.

Halonen's story explained, "The FCC originally adopted the rule in 2007 so that the millions of cable TV subscribers with analog TV sets could continue getting must-carry TV station signals after the broadcast TV industry switched from analog to digital transmission.

". . . The FCC originally set a three-year limit on the rule, assuming that most cable systems would also have switched completely to digital by this time. But about 12.6 million of cable's customers are still equipped with analog sets and could lose access to must-carry signals if the rule is allowed to expire."

The renewal issue pit broadcasters against cable operators. The black church group also demonstrated in front of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which represents the cable industry.

In a news release, the Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative, said, "we strongly believe that it is the job of the FCC to assure that minority church-based broadcasters should receive the same consideration as large cable operators. We strongly urge the Federal Communications Commission to extend the rule because many of our 15.7 million members will be directly and adversely affected by the FCC not extending the viewability rule. We plan to fight for our right to have comprehensive access to all cable systems whether it is analog, digital or hybrid systems. We plan to let our congressional representative know our position. We will use the full force of the Black Church to be heard on this issue."

Halonen's story added that "Liberman Broadcasting, a Spanish-language broadcaster that owns five TV stations, including KRCA-TV in Los Angeles, said elimination of the rule could result in the loss of 300,000 homes for EstrellaTV, or 4.3 percent of the audience for the company’s new Spanish-language network."

Roland Martin on CNN Suspension, Personal Brands

Roland Martin, CNN commentator and host of TV One's "Washington Watch With Roland Martin," among his other endeavors, said his attitude toward his recent suspension from CNN is "It happened, you deal with it and you move on." He also discussed building a personal brand, the Sunday television talk shows and the role of the black press in an interview Wednesday with Marcus Vanderberg of MediaBistro.

"Looking back, what are your thoughts now on your month-long suspension from CNN for your Super Bowl tweet about David Beckham?" Vanderberg asked.

Roland Martin

"First of all, my thoughts were the same then — I was cracking on soccer and that's what I talked about," Martin responded. "It happened, you deal with it and you move on. My deal is, if you spend significant amounts of time freaking out and going nuts, you'll simply go crazy. My philosophy is very simple: You keep it moving."

Vanderberg also asked, "What's your secret to developing your brand?"

Martin replied, "Know exactly who you are. The second thing is you have to have no fear in being able to work it. Companies today will fire you, not renew your contracts and when it's gone, it's gone. So you're left with what, saying that I [used] to be with so-and-so and I [used] to work with so-and-so? I love this scene from the movie The Insider where Al Pacino says, 'Lowell Bergman, 60 Minutes, I wonder if my phone calls would get returned if I didn't have 60 Minutes after my name?'

"When you build your own brand, people will still return your phone calls regardless of the call letters or where you actually work, because they now know you and they trust you in what you have to say and what you're doing. That, to me, is the most important aspect when it comes to building your brand. If companies are able to have multiple revenue streams and have their hands in multiple pools of money, then why shouldn't the people who actually work for those brands be able to do the exact same thing?"

President Obama in Osawatomie, Kan., with  Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes." in December for Obama's 12th interview with Kroft. (Credit: CBS News)

"60 Minutes" Has Difficulty Finding Correspondents

Veteran "60 Minutes" journalist Steve Kroft, who, by his count, has interviewed Barack Obama a dozen times, discussed those interviews at the annual awards dinner of the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists Monday, and also said it was difficult to find qualified applicants for "60 Minutes."

"The challenge for the show ahead is going to be finding replacements," Kroft said, according to Azi Paybarah, writing Tuesday for capitalnewyork.com.

". . . Noting the death of '60 Minutes' mainstays like Andy Rooney and Mike Wallace, Kroft said, 'We have to refill the talent pool and that's not that easy right now. We've been looking for someone to hire really as a full-time correspondent for a number of years and have had difficulty finding somebody that has all of the skills that we need in '60 Minutes' that wants to come work on the show, and kind of give up their life and to travel around the world."

"That's because 'so many people think they can make more money right now, you know, anchoring a talk show in the afternoon for one of the cable news networks and not having to leave,' he said. 'And so it's hard to find somebody who's got foreign experience, Washington experience, economic experience, who is pretty well-rounded, that is smart, that can do interviews.' "

Romney Scuttled Affirmative Action Policies in Mass.

"Mitt Romney scuttled the Massachusetts government's long-standing affirmative action policies with a few strokes of his pen on a sleepy holiday six months after he became governor," Andrew Miga reported for the Associated Press.

"No news conference or news release trumpeted Romney's executive order on Bunker Hill Day, June 17, 2003, in the deserted Statehouse. But when civil rights leaders, black lawmakers and other minority groups learned of Romney's move two months later, it sparked a public furor.

"Romney drew criticism for cutting the enforcement teeth out of the law and rolling back more than two decades of affirmative action advances.

"Civil rights leaders said his order stripped minorities, women, disabled people and veterans of equal access protections for state government jobs and replaced them with broad guidelines. They complained Romney hadn't consulted them before making the changes, snubbing the very kind of inclusion he professed to support.

". . . It wasn't until Deval Patrick, a Democrat who was the state's first black governor, took office in 2007 that the old policies formally were reinstated."

Meanwhile, "The Romney campaign announced Wednesday that its Latino outreach team, called 'Juntos Con Romney,' will be led by three Hispanic Republicans, all of whom said they will remain focused on a message about the economy," Elise Foley reported for the Huffington Post.

The three chairmen — Hector Barreto, former administrator of the Small Business Administration; Carlos Gutierrez, former secretary of commerce; and Jose Fuentes, former attorney general of Puerto Rico — join 14 others on Romney's National Advisory Board.

Whites Wrote 90% of Books Reviewed in N.Y. Times

Roxane Gay, an author and assistant professor of English at Eastern Illinois University, "tasked my amazing, incredibly thorough graduate assistant, Philip Gallagher, with looking at every book review published in the New York Times in 2011, identifying the race and gender of the reviewed titles' authors," Gay wrote Wednesday for therumpus.net. "The project took fourteen weeks, with Philip going at it for about sixteen hours each week because the only way to find out the race of each writer was to research them. . . .

"We looked at 742 books reviewed, across all genres. Of those 742, 655 were written by Caucasian authors (1 transgender writer, 437 men, and 217 women). Thirty-one were written by Africans or African Americans (21 men, 10 women), 9 were written by Hispanic authors (8 men, 1 woman), 33 by Asian, Asian-American or South Asian writers (19 men, 14 women), 8 by Middle Eastern writers (5 men, 3 women) and 6 were books written by writers whose racial background we were simply unable to identify.

"The numbers are depressing but I cannot say I am shocked. The numbers reflect the overall trend in publishing where the majority of books published are written by white writers."

". . . Nearly 90% of the books reviewed by The New York Times are written by white writers. That is not even remotely reflective of the racial makeup of this country, where 72% of the population, according to the 2010 census, is white. We know that far more than 81 books were published by writers of color in 2011. You don’t really need other datasets to see this rather glaring imbalance."

(Credit: ProPublica)

Reunited After Nearly 30 Years

"Last week, ProPublica, This American Life and Fundación MEPI produced in-depth stories about a father and son who'd been separated for nearly 30 years after a massacre at their Guatemalan jungle village," ProPublica reported on Friday. "Tranquilino Castañeda, now 70, believed his youngest son Alfredo — now called Oscar — was dead. On Monday, they reunited — and Castañeda met his grandchildren for the first time. (Story) (Video)

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