Heart & Soul Magazine Skips a Beat

No April Issue Amid Drama Over Unpaid Writers

Heart Soul, a health-and-wellness magazine targeting women of color, has had a rough go since it was acquired in January by a group that includes veteran journalist George E. Curry.

One of its longtime writers says the staff has gone on strike to protest lack of payment. Clarence I. Brown, president and CEO of the acquiring group, acknowledged Wednesday that an issue was skipped but says that is partly because the magazine, still in transition, is making adjustments in its publication schedule. 

Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union, told Journal-isms that his group was “trying to work with the company” to get the writers paid.

One writer, Sheree Crute, whose field is health and science, said, “There are people who are individually owed five figures. This is a group of African Americans, primarily female. If a white publisher or owner did this, there would be outrage. This has been going on for months and months and months.”

Brown told Journal-isms that Heart Soul owed many of the writers — and some vendors — when his group purchased it in January from Edwin V. Avent. “We anticipated a certain amount of debt, and we started to see more stuff,” Brown said. “A few little bills will throw any [plans] out of whack.”

The company has paid some writers and arranged payment plans with others, he said.

Avent told Journal-isms in December, “. . . every writer, editor, designer and freelancer will be fully compensated when the deal is consummated.”

Brown said then, “. . . we value the important work done previously for the magazine and we are committed to making full restitution to all contributors who have not been paid in 2011. However, we are unable to take any actions until we officially assume ownership.”

When the new owners acquired the publication in January, they tried to broaden the focus of the health-and-wellness magazine targeting African Americans, naming former Latina magazine editor-in-chief Sandra Guzman its top editor in a bid to attract other ethnic groups.

The new team put out two issues, one that could be considered December-January, a second that might be February-March. There was none for April. “We’re retooling, trying to change the cycle of the magazine,” Brown said on Wednesday.

He also said he anticipated that the financial matters would be settled in 30 to 45 days. Everyone on the staff except one working in sales is a freelancer, Brown said — even the editors. Meanwhile, the publication is seeking partnerships with national African American organizations interested in health issues in effort to be “good citizens with the community.”

Heart Soul has survived multiple changes of ownership since it began in 1988. Brown was part of one phase, when he managed the Black Entertainment Television (BET) magazine group that included Heart Soul, Emerge, YSB and BET Weekend.

Crute said she had been with the publication from the beginning. “I’ve seen all the difficulties. There’s never been anything like this,” she said.

Go-Go’s Chuck Brown Dies Too Late for Black Weeklies

Chuck Brown, dubbed the godfather of go-go music, was arguably the musician most closely identified with District of Columbia natives since Duke Ellington. But his death on Wednesday at 75 won’t be in the city’s African American weekly newspapers this week. Their publication deadlines had already passed, a reminder of how print-press technology, and that serving the black press in particular, has been surpassed by its more modern competitors.

“A lot of black newspapers’ deadlines are Tuesday and Wednesday,” Jake Oliver, publisher of the Afro-American Newspapers, told Journal-isms, even though the papers are distributed on Thursday or Friday. The deadlines were fixed originally so publication would be timed for supermarket sales, which are advertised midweek.

Brown died early Wednesday afternoon in Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, where he had been hospitalized for pneumonia, hospital spokesman Gary Stephenson confirmed. The first news stories started appearing after 4 p.m.

But the Afro’s editions for D.C. and suburban Prince George’s County, Md., go to press at noon on Wednesday, and at 5 p.m. for Baltimore editions, Oliver said. For the tabloid Washington Informer, another black weekly, the deadline is “at least noon on Tuesday, for just about everything,” publisher Denise Rolark Barnes said. Perhaps the Brown news could have been included if it were made public before 10 a.m. Wednesday, she said.

Neither publication owns its own presses, which would allow for later-breaking news. The Afro bought presses in the mid-1930s but sold them in 1984, Oliver said. They were expensive to maintain and were getting old, he said.

The Washington Post and the area’s television stations jumped on the news of Brown’s death with Internet photo galleries and other embellishments. By 5:15, the Post was announcing, “Great memories of Chuck Brown being shared with hashtags #Godfatherofgogo and #RIPChuckBrown.” [In Thursday's print edition, the Brown story was prominently displayed on the front page above the fold, and took up the entire Style section front.]

WJLA-TV, the ABC affiliate, quoted Mayor Vincent Gray. “Go-go is D.C.’s very own unique contribution to the world of pop music, and Chuck Brown was regarded as Go-go’s creator and, arguably, its most legendary artist,” he said. “Today is a very sad day for music lovers the world over, but especially in the District of Columbia. Without Chuck Brown, the world — and our city — will be a different place. What a loss.”

Barnes said the Informer had posted a story on its website, planned a Thursday morning email blast and had notified viewers of its Facebook page. Next week’s edition would catch up with tributes and commemorations. Oliver echoed Barnes. “We’re jumping on it for the eblast,” he said.

Marc Fisher and J. Freedom du Lac, Washington Post: Brown’s beat booms from speakers across city the night ‘D.C. lost its president’

Matthew Stabley, WRC-TV: Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown Has Died

Clinton Yates, Washington Post: Chuck Brown, D.C. go-go legend dies 75

NPR Chief Says No Plans to Cancel “Tell Me More”

“We have no plans to cancel ‘Tell Me More,’ ” Gary Knell, president and CEO of NPR, told Journal-isms on Thursday, referring to the multiculturally oriented show hosted by Michel Martin that just commemorated its fifth anniversary.

He urged all to wish Martin a happy birthday, which the journalist and show host celebrated Thursday.

Knell was reacting to a Washington Post story whose online version featured a large photo of Martin and the headline, “NPR sees sharp downturn in advertising revenue, leading to talk of cuts.”

“. . . Halfway through its fiscal year — and six months into Gary Knell’s tenure as chief executive — Washington-based NPR has seen a sharp downturn in corporate ‘underwriting,’ or advertising revenue. The falloff has led to projections of an annual operating deficit and internal discussions about staff and program cuts,” read the story by Paul Farhi.

The story noted that a 2008 financial crisis prompted NPR to drop two daily programs to save money, including ” ‘News and Notes,’ a show designed to attract more African American listeners.”

“This time, there have been internal discussions about dropping ‘Tell Me More,’ a daily program also aimed at African Americans and other minorities, according to people who are privy to the matter. They said nothing has been decided.”

Despite statements to the contrary, Knell said, the Post “printed a rumor anyway.”

Farhi told Journal-isms by telephone, “What I reported was there have been discussions about canceling it. It appears unlikely that they will. The subject specifically did not come up in our conversation because he made such a blanket statement about not cutting at all.” [May 17]

N.Y. Times Finds Police Missteps in Trayvon Case

“The killing of Trayvon Martin here two and a half months ago has been cast as the latest test of race relations and equal justice in America. But it was also a test of a small city police department that does not even have a homicide unit and typically handles three or four murder cases a year,Serge F. Kovaleski wrote from Sanford, Fla., Wednesday for the New York Times.

“An examination of the Sanford Police Department’s handling of the case shows a series of missteps — including sloppy work — and circumstances beyond its control that impeded the investigation and may make it harder to pursue a case that is already difficult enough.

“. . . In interviews over several weeks, law enforcement authorities, witnesses and local elected officials identified problems with the initial investigation:

“On the night of the shooting, door-to-door canvassing was not exhaustive enough, said a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation. If officers had been more thorough, they might have determined that Mr. Martin, 17, was a guest — as opposed to an intruder — at a gated community called the Retreat at Twin Lakes. That would have been an important part of the subjective analysis that night by officers sizing up Mr. Zimmerman’s story,” Kovaleski wrote a reference to neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who was charged with second-degree murder. “Investigators found no witnesses who saw the fight start. Others saw parts of a struggle they could not clearly observe or hear. One witness, though, provided information to the police that corroborated Mr. Zimmerman’s account of the struggle, according to a law enforcement official. . . . “

Carswell to Head Washington Post Diversity Efforts

Shirley Carswell, deputy managing editor at the Washington Post, will head the newspaper’s recruiting, hiring, diversity and training efforts, the editors announced on Tuesday in the wake of a buyout offer that is disproportionately claiming journalists of color.

“This role has never mattered more,” Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli and managing editors Liz Spayd and John Temple said in a staff memo. “We face a new and constantly shifting array of competitors, making it crucial that our people be top-tier by any measure. Every hire counts. The quality of our people determines the quality of our journalism. And that is essential to our success.

“Shirley will chair a group including the three of us, as well as Peter Perl, that will approve all newsroom hires.” Perl is assistant managing editor for personnel. “She will work closely with department heads to ensure they are seeing, considering and selecting the best candidates for every job. We want a newsroom that reflects the diversity of our society and can excel in serving all of our audiences — local and national, print and digital. Shirley will liaise with the human-resources department and will sign off on all Newsroom hiring and salary decisions.

“In addition, Shirley will take on responsibility for training and development. In that capacity, she will continue her work with Peter, who remains in charge of ethics and standards and who has done an outstanding job laying the groundwork for newsroom training programs that Shirley will now guide. Shirley will also retain authority over Newsroom real estate, deciding who should sit where. She also will remain in charge of Newsroom IT and operations.

“As a result of this change in Shirley’s mission, her duties as the newsroom’s budget manager with shift to Newsroom Budget Director Raquel Edora. Those of you who have worked with Raquel know how very good she is at keeping our costs down in ways that don’t impair our journalistic ambitions or our ability to adapt rapidly to change. She will work closely with Newsroom department heads and already has a strong partnership with the company’s finance department, which is a crucial partner for us in this area. Raquel will report to John Temple.”

Carswell, 51, grew up in Pittsburgh, earned her undergraduate journalism degree at Howard University, and worked in Richmond and Detroit before joining the Post in 1988 as a copy editor. She has also been treasurer of the Washington Association of Black Journalists.

Media Choose False “Balance” Over Calling Out GOP

Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann are well-known in the Beltway. They work at big-time think tanks (Brookings and American Enterprise Institute), appear on television chat shows, and write books and op-eds that powerful people pay attention to,” Peter Hart wrote Tuesday for Fairness Accuracy In Reporting.

“Lately, though, it seems they’ve become dangerous men.

“Mann and Ornstein recently wrote an [Outlook section essay] in the Washington Post (4/27/12) based on their new book. In it, they argued that whining about increased polarization or partisanship in politics obscures a central truth: This problem is not seen in equal measure on both sides. The headline summed it up: ‘Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.’

“They wrote:

” ‘The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.’

“And the piece pointed a finger at the media’s false balance:

” ‘We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.’

“Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?

“The article became quite an internet sensation — with something like 200,000 recommendations on Facebook. But as Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent (5/14/12) points out, one class of people seem uniquely uninterested in the argument: Sunday talkshow bookers. It turns out neither man has been invited on to the Sunday shows even once to discuss this thesis. “

Ted Diadiun, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: ‘Balance’ fetish is best avoided in news coverage

Most Blacks Say Opinion Unchanged on Obama

Roughly half of Americans (52%) say Barack Obama‘s expression of support for gay marriage did not affect their opinion of the president,” the Pew Research Center for the People the Press reported Monday. “A quarter (25%) say they feel less favorably toward Obama because of this while 19% feel more favorably.

“. . . The opinions of whites largely reflect the population as a whole: 49% say Obama’s expression of support for gay marriage did not alter their opinion of the president. Among those who say it did, somewhat more say it made their view of him less favorable than more (29% vs. 20%). Most African Americans, on the other hand, say the announcement did not alter their opinion of Obama. About two-thirds (68%) say this, while about as many say it made them view Obama more favorably (16%) as less favorably (13%).”

Meanwhile, Patrick Winn wrote for Global Post, “According to a slew of established American media outlets — including USA Today, L.A. Weekly and Daily Kos — boxing megastar and Philippine congressman Manny Pacquiao believes gay people should be executed.

“How do they know?

“Because that’s what Pacquiao said in this interview, titled ‘Pacquiao Rejects Obama’s [new twist] on the Scriptures,’ which is cited as appearing in the National Conservative Examiner. The L.A. Weekly has squeezed the most from this interview with giddy reports on Pacquiao’s subsequent ban from an L.A. mall and a post titled ‘Ten Gays Who Could Beat The Crap Out Of Manny Pacquiao.’

“But there are several reasons why journalists should reconsider echoing that this Nike-endorsed athlete wants all gays dead.

Here’s the best one: the ‘National Conservative Examiner’ doesn’t exist. . . .”

Alternative Newsweek covers on Obama and same-sex marriage 

Associated Press: Manny Pacquiao pans anti-gay claims

Danielle Belton, the Black Snob: Everyone’s New Favorite Story: Black People, the President and Gay Marriage

Jeri Clausing, HuffPost LatinoVoices: Barack Obama On Gay Marriage: Shift On Marriage Energizes Immigration Activists And Hispanic Voters 

Maurice Garland, Loop21.com: Obama Scolds Media for Being Scandalous, Negative in Barnard Speech

Pew Research Center for the People the Press: Obama Support for Gay Marriage Public’s Top Story

Peter Richards, Inter Press Service: Obama’s Gay Marriage Endorsement Makes Waves in the Caribbean

Alex Weprin, TVNewser: 4.7 Million Watch President Obama on ‘The View’

Edward Wyckoff Williams, theGrio.com: Newsweek’s ‘first gay president’ Obama cover: Daring or desperate?

Jeff Winbush, Loop21.com: The President Who Came Out of the Closet

Vogue Italia Produces All-Africa Issue

Africa is in the news — but not just for the sad and familiar reasons of conflict and suffering. The continent is entering the fashion arena, with the quality of its handwork, artistic creativity and its potential for economic growth bringing Africa literally in vogue,” Suzy Menkes wrote Monday for the New York Times.

“The key word for an overall résumé of changes in attitude and perception is ‘rebranding.’

” ‘They are not my own words — they come from Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan — but I do believe in the ‘rebranding’ of Africa,” said Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of Vogue Italia, which has devoted this month’s men’s wear issue to the continent.

“The May Uomo Vogue is an all-Africa magazine with images of beauty and grace far removed from violence and poverty. And the magazine’s cover features an unlikely figure: Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations.

“Inside the magazine, an interview with Mr. Ban contains an impassioned plea to move Africa away from bad news toward positive thinking.

” ‘Africa does not need charity — Africa needs investment and partnership,’ said Mr. Ban. ‘Joining forces with civil society and private sector, including non-traditional players, like the fashion industry, has become indispensable. Sustainable development is my top priority.’

“Ms. Sozzani did an ‘all black’ issue for women’s Vogue in 2008, and she has subsequently promoted multiculture with a focus on black creativity and beauty on the magazine’s Web site, Vogue.it.”

Ijeoma Ndekwu, Bella Naija: L’Uomo Vogue releases May 2012 “Rebranding Africa” issue featuring UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon South African vocalist Lira

Andile Ndlovu, Times Live, South Africa: Lira helps the Italians fancy Africa

Franca Sozzani, L’Uomo Vogue: Blog del Direttore

Short Takes

“After years of speculation, estimates and projections, the Census Bureau has made it official: White births are no longer a majority in the United States,Sabrina Tavernise reported Thursday for the New York Times. “Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 49.6 percent of all births in the 12-month period that ended last July, according to Census Bureau data made public on Thursday, while minorities — including Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race — reached 50.4 percent, representing a majority for the first time in the country’s history.” [May 17]

Sports reporter R.L. Stockard, who integrated newspapers in Baton Rouge, La., and New Orleans, was sports editor at two black-owned newspapers and covered budding stars such as Walter Payton and Jerry Rice, will be among those honored with Sports Pioneer Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the NABJ Sports Task Force announced on Tuesday. Stockard “achieved all of that while doubling as a Southern University geography professor, where he taught baseball great Lou Brock.” Also honored will be “sports broadcasting groundbreaker Ro Brown, for more than 20 years a sports anchor and reporter for New Orleans’ local NBC affiliate. He’s well-known for his incredible memory of New Orleans sports and his network of contacts in the local sports scene.”

Now, I’m moving to the South, though I’ve been told a few times by Georgians and Mississippians that Richmond is not the South — seat of the Confederacy or not,” Denver Post columnist Tina Griego told readers on Tuesday. “My husband has accepted a job at Virginia Commonwealth University. It starts in the fall. The Post was offering severance packages, the timing was right. We venture forth.” Media General Inc. Thursday announced that it is selling the Times-Dispatch and 62 other newspapers to Berkshire Hathaway Inc., chaired by Warren Buffett, for $142 million. [May 17]

Rolando Nichols is news anchor at KWHY Channel 22 in Los Angeles and Spanish-language play-by-play man for Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels on ESPN Deportes. He will host a national newscast on MundoFox, the U.S. Spanish-language broadcast network launching this summer, Fox International Channels (FIC) and the RCN Television Group (RCN) announced, Richard Horgan reported Wednesday for FishbowlLA. “Nichols will continue to handle local nightly 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts at KWHY, where he holds the title of vice-president of news and production.”

ABC ‘Good Morning America’ anchor Robin Roberts is returning to the ESPN family to host a new eight-part interview series, the sports channel announced at its upfront presentation this morning,” Alex Weprin reported Tuesday for TVNewser. “Roberts will host ‘In the Game with Robin Roberts Presented by Lexus,’ which will feature the anchor interviewing prominent female athletes. The first guest will be pro softball player Jennie Finch.”

Slim, host of streaming talk radio show The Slim Show, interviewed National Association of Black [Journalists] (NABJ) president, Gregory H. Lee regarding the position his organization took against Phil [Mushnick] and the NY Post. Phil [Mushnick] used [a hyphenated term for] ‘nigga’ in one of his columns.”

In Fresno-Visalia, Calif., “A KMPH news crew went to cover an incident in which an eight-month-old baby fell out of a parked car on Monday, and they wound up coming face-to-face with the baby’s father,” Andrew Gauthier reported Wednesday for TVNewser. “The resulting confrontation made for ‘a story you’ll only see on KMPH.’ The baby was flown to an area hospital just hours before KMPH anchor-reporter Nicole Garcia and photographer Matt Romero arrived at the scene . . . “

Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson announced today that Paul Butler has been named general manager of ASPiRE, the new African-American network set to launch in June,” the network said Tuesday. “Butler will oversee all operations for the programmer and report to Johnson, who is chairman of ASPiRE and the network’s Board of Directors. He will be based at ASPiRE’s headquarters in Atlanta.”

In Dallas-Fort Worth, “Veteran anchor Gloria Campos is officially on board with a new contract and a transition that will take her off WFAA8′s 6 p.m. newscasts in September,” television writer Ed Bark reported Monday on his blog. “But she’ll continue co-anchoring the Dallas-based station’s 10 p.m. newscasts with John McCaa.”

ESPN’s faith in sports documentaries is so deep that on Tuesday it will announce a second go-round for its ’30 for 30′ series, which made its debut in the fall of 2009,” Richard Sandomir reported Monday for the New York Times. “The first 30 films — produced by independent filmmakers as diverse as Albert Maysles, Barry Levinson and Ice Cube — were meant to celebrate ESPN’s 30th anniversary over a 15-month period. But the network, which began in 1979 and is now owned by Disney, grew so enamored of documentaries that it kept making them under the ESPN Films banner before agreeing to introduce a new ’30 for 30.’ “

John Derbyshire, the conservative writer fired from the National Review after writing a post on Taki’s Mag suggesting that whites keep their distance from blacks, has written a new essay defending white supremacy,” Gene Demby wrote Tuesday for the Huffington Post. “In a post called Who Are We? — The ‘Dissident Right’? on VDare, a site that is opposed to immigration and multiculturalism — and which is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — the English-American writer muses on how those who share his ideology should refer to themselves. The term ‘white supremacy,’ he says, has gotten a bad rap.”

Jose Antonio Vargas has been chosen by San Francisco State University as the 2012 Alumnus of the Year,” the school announced. “The Journalism department has selected Amy L. Alexander as Outstanding Journalism Alumna of 2012.”

A television anchor is coming forward with an emotional story of an attack in downtown Atlanta, hoping that she can find the man who came to her rescue more than two decades ago,” WSB-TV in Atlanta reported Monday. “Diana Lewis, an anchor at WXYZ-TV in Detroit, was interviewing for a job at CNN in October 1986 when she took a wrong turn. Lewis said she was confronted by a man . . who began to chase her.” Glenda Lewis, an anchor in Detroit who is Diana Lewis’ daughter, did a story for WXYZ about her mother’s search.

“In the days since the world celebrated World Press Freedom Day the Sudanese press has witnessed great setbacks,” Abdelgadir Mohammed Abdelgadir reported Wednesday for the International Press Institute. “On May 3, the entire print run of Al Midan newspaper was confiscated by Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Services (NISS) and it happened again on May 6, May 8, May 10, May 13 and May 15. Al Jarida newspaper was confiscated on May 1, May 2, May 6, May 11, May 12 and May 14.”

Ángel Alfredo Villatoro Rivera, a well-known Honduran radio journalist kidnapped on his way to work last week, was found dead in a housing development outside Tegucigalpa, news reports said, bringing the number of journalists killed in the violence-ridden Central American country this year to four, Scott Griffen reported Wednesday for the International Press Institute.

Journalists in Mali are accusing the military authorities of illegally tapping their telephones as a means of silencing critical opinion in the country,” the Media Foundation for West Africa in Accra, Ghana, said on Wednesday. “The accusation followed the arrest and subsequent detention of Birama Fall, managing editor of Le Prétoire, a privately-owned Bamako-based bi-weekly newspaper on May 12, 2012. The authorities had illegally listened to Fall’s phone conversation with a former government minister over civilian deaths during the recent counter coup attempt.”

In Mexico, “The body of Mexican reporter René Orta Salgado was found over the weekend by police in the trunk of his car in the central state of Morelos, prosecutors said,” the EFE news service reported on Monday. Michel Martin, host of NPR’s “Tell Me More,” spoke Monday with Jose de Cordoba of the Wall Street Journal and Carlos Lauria of the Committee to Protect Journalists about how drug violence is increasingly affecting journalists.

“Crying onstage in front of a crowd is not my thing, but a few days ago, as I stood next to Serkalem Fasil, I couldn’t hold back my tears,” Charlayne Hunter-Gault wrote Tuesday for theRoot.com. “It was a bittersweet moment because Fasil had just received the prestigious PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award on behalf of her husband, Eskinder Nega. He faces life in prison on charges of terrorism and incitement to violent revolt after writing an article discussing the implications of the Arab Spring uprising for democracy in Ethiopia. And Nega is not alone in being on the receiving end of an ongoing government crackdown on independent journalists in Ethiopia, many of whom are also being silenced by arrests and imprisonment.”

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

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