Obama Visits His ‘Unhinged’ Hometown

Teens Skeptical President Can Change Gang Mindset

President Barack Obama returned to Chicago for a few hours Friday to address the high-profile gun violence that continues to plague his hometown and suggested the solution is not only more gun laws, but community intervention and economic opportunity in impoverished neighborhoods,” John Byrne and Dahleen Glanton reported Friday for the Chicago Tribune.

“The president didn’t delve into his specific call for an assault weapons ban and other gun control measures, instead choosing to illustrate Chicago’s plight by comparing it to the December elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were shot. . . .”

Obama was responding not only to local residents but also to commentators who urged a personal visit by the president. Last weekend, first lady Michelle Obama attended the Chicago funeral of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a baton twirler who participated last month in Obama’s inauguration. She was shot and killed on Jan. 29 not far from the Obamas’ Chicago residence after being caught in the crossfire between two rival gangs. Her parents attended Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

. . . Obama’s Chicago, our Chicago, is unhinged now, and rightly embarrassed,” Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page wrote on Wednesday. “The street slaughter won’t subside. . . .”

On Friday, Darlene Superville wrote for the Associated Press, “Obama sought support for proposals, unveiled this week in his State of the Union address, to increase the federal minimum wage and ensure every child can attend preschool. He also pitched plans to pair businesses with recession-battered communities to help them rebuild and provide job training. . . .”

Glanton prepared for the Obama visit by interviewing a dozen teenage African American boys at the Salvation Army’s Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, youths “most likely to be hit by the gunfire that occurs almost daily in neighborhoods like Roseland, Englewood and Lawndale.” They told Glanton that Obama can have little effect on gangs.

“. . . While all of the young men at the community center said they had respect for the first African-American president, they noted that it would be difficult for anyone to penetrate the culture of violence,” Glanton wrote.

” ‘People look up to Mr. Obama more than he knows, but the one thing they need is their guns,’ said Latwon Rufus, 18. ‘It’s about revenge, reputation and territory. That’s the city of Chicago.’ “

Black Journalists Pleased With White House Meeting

In Washington, White House aides met with six black journalists Thursday to preview the “Ladder of Opportunity” proposals President Obama planned to discuss in Chicago Friday, and the journalists left impressed.

“I’ve attended every White House round table for black journalists since President Obama took office and this was the most engaging, and candid session yet,” Michael H. Cottman of Black America Web told Journal-isms by email. “It signals, perhaps, a sea change in the way the White House plans to approach initiatives for black Americans during the next four years. The word ‘black’ is mentioned proudly and that didn’t go unnoticed in our session. Valerie Jarrett said the White House will do a better job communicating its policies to African Americans and I believe that effort started with our interview this week.”

Joining Cottman were George E. Curry, editor of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service; Jenée Desmond-Harris of the Root; freelancer Steven Gray; Leroy Jones Jr. of radio’s syndicated “The PoliticalJones Show”; and Joyce Jones of Black Entertainment Television and Black Enterprise magazine.

They were briefed by Jarrett, senior adviser to the president; Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Danielle Grey, assistant to the president and Cabinet secretary; and Racquel Russell, deputy assistant to the president for urban affairs and economic mobility.

“I found all of the administration officials to be candid and very receptive to our questions,” Desmond-Harris said. “Very helpful. Lots of insights,”  Gray said.

Curry said by email, “I agree with Michael that Valerie addressed the ‘Why doesn’t the president do more for Black folk?’ question head-on. While the president has not moved from his rising tide lifts all boats approach, the White House seems intent on doing a better job of explaining how its policies and programs directly benefit African Americans.”

Paul Farhi wrote in the Washington Post this week, “Obama has never consented to an interview with any member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization consisting of 210 African-American-owned newspapers, said Robert W. Bogle, the organization’s former president.”

“That criticism remains,” Curry told Journal-isms by email. “I reminded Valerie after the meeting that we still want an opportunity to interview the president and said she is aware of our request but made no promises.

Asked whether meeting with the White House aides counts, Curry replied, “African Americans did not vote for his aides — we voted for him. We deserve to hear answers directly from the president rather than from his intermediaries. If President Obama can speak exclusively to the Latino media, as he has done on more than one occasion, and boldly advocate on behalf of gays and lesbians — and no one is suggesting that he should not have taken those actions — he should be willing to speak directly to the nation’s Black newspapers.

“Valerie said the administration hasn’t communicated its message as well as it should and I agree. This would be an excellent opportunity to correct that mistake.”

Maine Paper Drops Request for Gun Permit Records

The Bangor Daily News has rescinded its request for records about concealed weapon permit holders in the state of Maine,” Anthony Ronzio, the paper’s director of news and new media, wrote Friday. “We have informed the agencies who received our request to disregard it. We’ve informed the agencies who have responded that their records will be destroyed.

“We are disappointed with the reaction to our request, which we felt was with the best intentions to help study issues affecting Maine through an analysis of publicly available data. We will continue our reporting, but will use other sources of information to do so.”

Ronzio added, “. . . The BDN never would have published personally identifying information of any permit holder in Maine, as a newspaper in New York had done,” but said there were “. . . concerns about the concealed weapons permits process. Some callers to the BDN spoke of long delays in the review of applications. . . .”

Meanwhile, the Virginia state Senate voted 32-8 Thursday to bar circuit court clerks from disclosing to the public the names of people who have concealed handgun permits, Andrew Cain and Jim Nolan reported for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The bill goes to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).

Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: Shocking blacks into action against violence

Tenisha Taylor Bell, CNN.com: Chicago’s violence took my dad, friends

Esther J. Cepeda, Washington Post Writers Group: When violence hits a nerve

Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune: The full truth about the Second Amendment

Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: The Social Trends Driving American Gangs and Gun Violence

Michael H. Cottman, Black America Web: Obama Promotes New Plan For Black Neighborhoods, Mentors Young Black Men

Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton with Michel Martin, “Tell Me More,” NPR: Pain Is ‘Indescribable’ For Gun Victim Pendleton’s Mother

Stanley Crouch, Daily News, New York: Ignorance kills, education heals: Poor schools are a scourge as grave as gun violence

George Curry, National Newspaper Publishers Association: African-American teens, gun violence and the specter of empty rhetoric (Feb. 13)

Fannie Flono, Charlotte (N.C.) Observer: Preschool benefits students and N.C.

Keith Harriston, Washington Post: President Obama and Jay-Z: strange bedfellows during gun ban debate

Michael P. Jeffries, the Atlantic: Obama’s Chicago Speech Can’t Address Gun Violence Unless It Takes on Race

Merrill Knox, TVSpy: Bonten Stations to Air Series on Gun Violence

Geraldo Rivera, Fox News Latino: Trayvon and Hadiya (Feb. 8)

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Obama, winning the argument

Michael Shepherd, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Bangor newspaper’s request for gun data causes uproar (Feb. 14)

Nolan Strong, allhiphop.com: Chicago Police Says Gang Involved In Hadiya Pendleton Murder Named After Lil Wayne Lyric

Commentators Struggle to Explain Admiration for Dorner

California authorities now say Christopher Jordan Dorner, the fugitive ex-cop, killed himself as the cabin in which he was barricaded caught fire after a shootout with officers. His saga left some commentators struggling Friday to explain why some considered the killer of four, including two police officers, a martyr.

For those concerned about open government, the case “underscores yet again why transparency in officer misconduct cases is needed,” the Los Angeles Times said in a headline above an editorial on Tuesday.

A group of panelists on CNN tried to make sense of the phenomenon this afternoon,” Tim Hains wrote Wednesday for Real Clear Politics.

” ‘This has been an important conversation that we’ve had about police brutality, about police corruption, about state violence,’ said Huffington Post Live host and Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill.

” ‘They were even talking about making him the first domestic drone target. This is serious business here. I don’t think it’s been a waste of time at all. And as far as Dorner himself goes, he’s been like a real life superhero to many people. Now don’t get me wrong. What he did was awful, killing innocent people was bad, but when you read his manifesto, when you read the message that he left, he wasn’t entirely crazy. He had a plan and a mission here. And many people aren’t rooting for him to kill innocent people. They are rooting for somebody who was wronged to get a kind of revenge against the system. It’s almost like watching Django Unchained in real life. It’s kind of exciting.’ “

Not to Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote Thursday on his blog for the Atlantic, “I don’t really know how anyone, with any sort of coherence, adopts Christopher Dorner as a symbol in the fight against police brutality, given how he brutalized those two human beings. “I cannot understand, except to say that sometimes our own anger, our pain, becomes so blinding that we fail to see the pain of others. This is the seed of inhumanity, and inhumanity is the seed of the very police brutality which we all deplore.”

Donner’s online manifesto charged the LAPD with mistreating him and sanctioning racism, the L.A. Times recalled.

“. . . Police disciplinary boards, where the most serious charges of misconduct are considered, were open to the public for years, and that helped the Los Angeles Police Department on its long trip back from ignominy to esteem,” the Times editorial said. “Their closure in recent years, as well as the department’s refusal to release the names of officers involved in shootings, threatens to undermine that slowly recovering public confidence.

” . . . L.A. has been reminded in the starkest terms that the price of closure is not just inconvenience for journalists; it’s the threat that the public won’t trust the institutions protected by such secrecy.”

Karen Grigsby Bates with Michel Martin, “Tell Me More,” NPR: Why Do People Sympathize With Christopher Dorner?

Jasmyne A. Cannick, EURWeb: Retired LAPD Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey: The Stress on Officers isn’t the Public, it’s the Department

EURWeb: Civil Rights Leader Releases African-American LAPD Sergeant’s Letter on Racial Retaliation in LAPD

Josh Feldman, Mediaite: O’Reilly Tears Into Marc Lamont Hill Over Chris Dorner Remarks: You Gave ‘Credibility To A Killer’

David Cay Johnston, Salon: LAPD’s indefensible Dorner pursuit

Demetria L. Lucas, Clutch magazine: Do You Trust Reporters During Breaking News?

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: No way to twist Dorner’s story positively

Geraldo Rivera, Fox News Latino: Sympathy for the Devil? Don’t Buy into Dorner’s Campaign of Spite and Deceit

Joel Rubin and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times: In wake of Dorner shootout, questions over use of ‘the burner’

Swimsuit Issue Criticized for Use of Exotic Human “Props”

The icy, hot Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has prompted some controversy,” Ann Oldenburg reported Thursday for USA Today.

“No, no one’s complaining about Kate Upton‘s curves (that we know of, anyway).

Jezebel.com stirred up chatter this week by pointing out that the issue features models posing with ‘natives.’ Writer Dodai Stewart goes on to say that ‘using people of color as background or extras is a popular fashion trope, whether it’s Nylon magazine, the Free People catalogue, British Vogue or J.Crew. But although it’s prevalent, it’s very distasteful.’ She adds: ‘People are not props.’ “

SI swimsuit issue editor MJ Day replied, “. . . We pick these locations very specifically. That is because we can show people the world. How much of the population can access areas of the world we can access? We feel beauty exists on all levels as well. The beauty is in the people and the places. We want to immerse you as a viewer in these situations.” Of the controversy, she dismissed it, saying, “There’s nothing to it.”

Angry Asian Man: You know what this Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition needs? Some exotic human props.

Gay Journalists Challenge AP Style on “Couples”

The National Lesbian Gay Journalists Association is challenging a style memo from the Associated Press on same-sex marriage partners.

. . . What is troubling is the final sentence in the memo: ‘Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages,’ ” Jen Christensen, NLGJA president, said in a letter Thursday to David Minthorn, editor of The Associated Press Stylebook.

“Such guidance may be appropriate for referring to people in civil unions, for which there are no established terms and the language is still evolving, but it suggests a double standard for same-sex individuals in legally recognized marriages. One has to assume that AP would never suggest that the default term should be ‘couples’ or ‘partners’ when describing people in opposite-sex marriages. We strongly encourage you to revise the style advisory to make it clear that writers should use the same terms for married individuals, whether they are in a same-sex or opposite-sex marriage. . . . “

Meanwhile, Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing Co., which produces Ebony and Jet magazines, endorsed same-sex marriage in an op-ed piece Thursday in the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago’s WMAQ-TV reported, “The Illinois Senate advanced a bill legalizing same-sex marriage Thursday, voting 34-21-2 in favor of the measure. . . . Gov. Pat Quinn has already said he will sign the bill once it passes. The House still needs to pass the bill. . . .”

Johnson Rice wrote, “. . . My family has always made Chicago our home, and I care deeply about the values our company has espoused for decades. Fairness and equality means that what you are never limits who you can be. . . .”

Michael Paul Williams, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch: Anti-gay bigotry is bad for business.

Pew Study Confirms Blacks Lead in Twitter Use

The popularity of Twitter and Instagram among blacks in American is surging, while white women under 50 continue to pin away on Pinterest, according to a demographic survey released Thursday,” Roger Yu reported Thursday for USA Today.

The survey, by the Pew Research Center’s Internet American Life Project, also confirmed what parents of college students already know — 83% [of] Internet users ages 18 to 29 use social media.

“. . . Asian Americans weren’t included in the Pew study because there were not enough respondents to draw statistically reliable conclusions.

“Among the Pew findings:

“Twitter, Instagram are popular among blacks. Among black Internet users, 26% use Twitter, far outpacing whites (14%) and Hispanics (19%). In August 2011, 18% of black Internet users were using Twitter. . . .”

A Plan to Boost Minority Ownership of TV Stations

It’s a growing trend in the television business: holders of separate TV licenses agree to share news or other departments. When the decision to share is made, it can lead to the elimination of the entire staff of one of the stations, as happened in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011.

These arrangements are called “shared services agreements” and “joint sales agreements.”

They coexist with a more stubborn trend: Reporting on broadcast ownership, the Federal Communications Commission reported in November that while station ownership by whites increased, the minority numbers were declining. Blacks went from owning 1 percent of all commercial TV stations in 2009 to just 0.7 percent in 2011. Asian ownership slipped from 0.8 percent in 2009 to 0.5 percent in 2011. Latino ownership increased slightly from 2.5 percent to 2.9 percent.

As the CommLawBlog points out in defining “shared services agreements” and “joint sales agreements,” “To some, they’re a godsend, sustaining stations that would otherwise be dead-and-gone. To others, they’re an anti-diversity scourge, a disingenuous device reflecting all that is wrong with Big Media Consolidation. . . .”

On Friday, Harry A. Jessell, a longtime observer of the television business and publisher of TVNewsCheck, endorsed “an idea floating around Washington” intended to make both diversity advocates and television station owners happy.

“Broadcasters eager to double up in markets often bring in third parties and help them buy stations in the markets with the intention of operating them under JSAs and SSAs. The help usually comes in the form of loans or loan guarantees.

“The idea is that the FCC would say that JSAs and SSAs are allowable only if the third parties are minorities and women. This would act as a powerful incentive for broadcasters to seek out such partners rather than the assortment of mostly white men we have today. . . . “

FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who has been pushing for greater minority ownership and is the first African American woman on the FCC), “. . . has a real opportunity here to increase ownership by segments of our society that were not just disadvantaged, but essentially shut out from getting a broadcast license in the days when they were available for the asking,” Jessell wrote.

Peter B Collins, Truthout: An Insider’s View of the Progressive Talk Radio Devolution

Short Takes

Facebook Inc., operator of the world’s largest social-networking service, is seeking a global head of diversity, as the quickly expanding company’s recruits people from different backgrounds to foster creativity,” Brian Womack reported Wednesday for Bloomberg Businessweek.

. . . The extraordinary pace and scale of globalization have led visionary multinationals to evolve dramatically, to broadly redefine diversity and raise it to a higher global level than ever before,” Edward Iwata wrote Wednesday for the Seattle Times. “. . . The cross-border diversity practices of multinationals such as ATT, American Express, IBM, Intel, Cisco Systems, Procter Gamble — plus Washington-based Microsoft, Starbucks, Weyerhaeuser, Amazon.com and others — are changing the corporate world in modern and emerging countries alike. Intel executive Rosalind Hudnell calls it ‘the new calculus of diversity.’ . . . ”

Writing about rapper Lil Wayne‘s widely condemned description of sex as “beating it up like Emmett Till,” columnist Jarvis DeBerry of NOLA.com and the Times-Picayune in New Orleans “. . . wondered if I’d think differently of it if had been spoken by an artist I like.” He cited “So Fresh, So Clean,” a 2000 release by Outkast, which included the lines, “You’re so Anne Frank. / Let’s hit the attic to hide out for ’bout two weeks. . . ”

For over a decade, the Arab television broadcaster Al-Jazeera was widely respected for providing an independent voice from the Middle East. Recently, however, several top journalists have left, saying the station has developed a clear political agenda,” Alexander Kühn, Christoph Reuter and Gregor Peter Schmitz wrote for Germany’s Spiegel. “. . . Since the Arab Spring, though, many former dissidents have risen to power across the region — and these fledgling leaders often show little respect for democratic principles. Al-Jazeera, however, has shamelessly fawned upon the new rulers. . . .”

The Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that redacted state police records of racial profiling complaints can be made public under the state’s Public Information Act (PIA),” Kathleen Kirby wrote Feb. 3 for the Radio Television Digital News Association. “The case is significant because it dismisses the notion that certain categories of records exempt from disclosure cannot be redacted and released. . . .” RTDNA joined other news organizations in filing a friend-of-the-court brief.

Herman Cain, the former Republican presidential candidate, is Fox News’ newest contributor, the network announced on Friday, the Huffington Post reported. “Cain will contribute analysis and commentary on Fox News, as well as Fox Business Network. . . .”

As K-State celebrates its 150th year, many in the community are taking a closer look at its past,” Melvin Fatimehin and Jakki Thompson wrote Friday for the Collegian at Kansas State University. “One piece of K-State’s long history is the Uhuru, a newspaper originally created by the Black Student Union for African-American students at K-State, which has made its return to the K-State campus with a modern twist. . . . ”

. . . A new study from the University of Missouri School of Journalism shows that American newspapers, and specifically newspapers geared toward an African-American audience, frame stories on obesity in a negative way,” Nathan Hurst wrote for the university. Researcher Hyunmin Lee reported, “Our study shows that the majority of obesity news stories are written in a negative tone, mainly attributing individual responsibilities to overcome obesity, which means many African Americans in need of weight loss could be discouraged by what they are reading in newspapers, instead of being inspired by positive success stories about overcoming obesity or other health problems. . . .”

Eva Coleman, media technology teacher at the Career and Technical Education Center in the Frisco, Texas, Independent School District, has been selected as Teacher of the Year by the Student Television Network, the network said this week. Long active in the National Association of Black Journalists, Coleman is vice president of the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Journalists and volunteers with the NABJ High School Journalism Workshop.

In Newport News, Va., “Alveta Ewell, who has anchored newscasts at WAVY-TV for almost a quarter-century, announced her retirement on Wednesday night, the Daily Press reported Thursday. ” Ewell, whose 30-year career in Hampton Roads also includes time on the radio and at WVEC-TV, will do her last newscast on Feb. 26. . . . ”

. . . On Monday, February 11, 2013, Ebony Magazine published a freelance environmental science piece by Dr. Marshall Shepard: Are African-Americans More Vulnerable to Climate Change? AND the digital editors seem very interested in more science-related pitches,” DNLee blogged Thursday for Scientific American. “Until we get more professional science writers to pitch to media outlets like Ebony, scientists who communicate will have to fill the gap. So, please, please, please submit your pitches, everyone and anyone. . . . ”

Reporting on the annual “State of Indian Nations” report by Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians, writer Mark Trahant noted Thursday, “. . . Indian Country has something that the rest of the country is missing: Young people . . . . Except. This advantage is coming at the same time as this massive wave called austerity is hitting. . . . I still think this is a moment of real possibility. A serious moment of possibility. But that success will come from tribes finding every dollar [they] can and investing it in young people. This is the future, not the Congress, especially a Congress with factions bent on intergenerational destruction.”

At Marquette University, “While preparing for graduation, Marissa Evans, senior in the College of Communication and president of the Marquette chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, is hoping to fill an underrepresented part of media discussion,” Emily Wright reported Thursday for the Marquette Tribune. “Last month, Evans launched InHue, an online magazine that focuses on health issues for women of color.

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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.

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