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Abu-Jamal Roars Back Into the Headlines

March 5, 2014

Senate nixes Obama pick, citing work for jailed journalist; political writer sought for "user's guide to the news"; Peter Goodman, who sought diversity at HuffPost, to exit; "critically important" for blacks to Cover Ukraine crisis; journalists say Egypt tortured them, denied medical care; blacks lead in viewing TV; Asians in Internet-connected devices; "Black Zapruder" film documents Malcolm X killing; black college opposes end of deals with TV stations; writing beyond "a bunch of immigrants dancing on stage" (3/5/14)

Senate Nixes Obama Pick, Citing Work for Jailed Journalist

Black College Opposes End of Deals With TV Stations

"FCC commissioner Ajit Pai continued his pushback on FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's expected vote later this month to make some joint sales agreements (JSAs) attributable under ownership rules,"John Eggerton reported Wednesday for Broadcasting & Cable.

"Pai in a public statement Wednesday showcased a meeting he had held last week with Pervis Parker, general manager of WLOO-TV Jackson, Miss., which is owned by historically African American Tougaloo College.

"It is one of a few — only three or four total — African American-owned TV stations in the country, Pai points out. But Pai said Pervis told him the only reason the station could broadcast in HD, air high school sports, or launch student-produced locally originated programming was because of a joint sales agreement with WDBD. . . ."

Meanwhile, the activist media group Free Press updated its census of African American-owned television stations.

Free Press previously said there were none remaining. However, the organization now says, "The owner of WJYS in the Chicago DMA did not identify as African American in the 2011 FCC ownership filing we based our reporting here on. However, in previous filings, the station's co-owners self-identified as African American. And in its most recent filing, posted on the FCC site after our report came out, the owners selected every race."

Joseph Stroud, founder and president of Jovon Broadcasting of Hammond, Ind., owner of WJYS, provided $1.57 million for former Sen. Roland Burris' 2002 bid for Illinois governor, Pro Publica reported.

The Free Press census also did not count stations owned by Armstrong Williams, who reported in November that he had won approval from the FCC to buy WEYI-TV, an NBC affiliate in the Flint/Saginaw/Bay City/Midland, Mich., market, and WWMB-TV, a CW affiliate in the Myrtle Beach/Florence, S.C., market, near Williams' hometown of Marion, S.C.

The stations were acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., and turned over to Williams under shared service agreements. Free Press and other opponents see shared service and joint sales agreements as big companies' end runs around ownership limits.

Williams also plans to acquire WMMP-TV in Charleston, S.C., from Sinclair.

Writing Beyond "A Bunch of Immigrants Dancing on Stage"

S. Mitra Kalita (Credit: CUNY Television)

Last month, the Association of Opinion Journalists put out a call for pieces "looking back to the era of racial blinders in media, or current blinders, relevant mostly to people who do professional writing, editing or audio-video producing of opinion for a public audience."

The collection was published last week, but one anecdote didn't make the package.

"In the spring of 2004, I wrote a story for the Washington Post on 'Bhangra Blowout,' a competition hosted by George Washington University where groups of Indian students from across the country tried to out-dance each other,"S. Mitra Kalita, ideas editor for qz.com, wrote. "I was struck by how authentic each tried to be, the money some troupes had spent for instruction in India, the choreography that called for real drummers onstage. This was so unlike the Jay Z-mixed bhangra that played on the radio.

"Let's roll back the tape a bit to my entry into journalism. It was the politically correct mid-1990s where diversity workshops taught (brainwashed) us to use our backgrounds as a lens to cover the world, especially the untold stories. Cover communities from the inside out. Make stories relevant to mainstream audiences, revelatory to the subjects. I'd spend the next decade applying those rules as a reporter covering business, immigration, education. For the most part, editors at the Washington Post encouraged that approach.

"And so I tried the same covering that dance contest. I reported the story on a Saturday night, on my own time. And then headed to the office on Sunday to file it. And waited for editing.

"At first, he sent a message. 'Mitra, can you come over here?' I head to his desk. It was a guy who I'd never worked with before.

"So I don't understand half this story. First, what is bhangra? Don't you think the lead should be more stepback?"

"Not really. I mean, I do define bhangra but I think we want to try to tell a story that is beyond just a bunch of immigrants dancing on stage, no?'

"And then came the line: 'When you write these stories,' he said, 'you've got to think about white guys like me. Eating our bagels, sipping our coffee in the morning. We're the audience.'

"'Got it.'

"I tweaked the lead — and vowed to spend my entire career proving him wrong. Sadly, newspaper circulation figures beat me to it."

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