Film Critic Wesley Morris Departs Boston Globe
Friday, January 4, 2013
Wesley Morris, the African American film critic for the Boston Globe who won a Pulitzer Prize last year, is leaving for Grantland, the ESPN-affiliated sports/pop culture website that specializes in longform journalism, his Globe editor told staffers Thursday night.
"I just didn't have a reason to say no [to Grantland] any longer," Morris told Journal-isms by telephone on Friday. Morris had already been writing for Grantland, and this presented an opportunity to write about film for the site full-time, he said. Moreover, "I can do my job from anywhere. That's very appealing."
Globe Editor Martin Baron started this week as executive editor at the Washington Post and was replaced by Brian McGrory. "Things are changing," Morris said of the Globe. "This seemed like a pretty good interval to try to think of things I wanted to do."
A memo from Douglas S. Most, the Globe's deputy managing editor/features, began, "There are so many reasons why it's difficult to write the words: Wesley Morris is leaving us.
". . . For a moment, forget about the writing. The superb, brilliant writing. Wesley's presence in our world has been about so much more than just his wonderful film criticism and insightful takes on pop culture," continued the memo, published on the Jim Romenesko website.
"Wesley is a true friend to so many of us. We love him for his infectious sense of humor, his generous heart, and of course his marvelously snappy sense of fashion, as he bounds in from the Red Line wearing one of his many stylish caps. . . .
"Wesley is leaving us after 10 years to write for Grantland, where he has had a column on style in the sports world and will write on film and other cultural subjects."
Morris' move was announced on Facebook and Twitter last Friday afternoon by Bill Simmons, founder of Grantland, Stephen Silver reported that Friday for the Technology Tell website. The Grantland name honors legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice.
Morris "had written occasionally for Grantland since its launch last year, writing a column about athletes' wardrobes called The Sportstorialist. The 37-year-old Philadelphia native and Yale graduate joined the Globe in 2002," Silver reported.
"Grantland splits its coverage about evenly between sports and popular culture, but has not ever employed a full-time film critic. A rival site, the Gawker Media-owned Deadspin, runs a regular movie review column by Tim Grierson and Will Leitch."
Last year, Grantland snagged Jonathan Abrams, another well-regarded black journalist, then in the sports department of the New York Times.
Simmons launched the site in June 2011 with Malcolm Gladwell, the New Yorker magazine writer and author and one of the most commercially successful black journalists, as a consulting editor.
Morris said he planned to remain on the East Coast, but not necessarily in Boston. His departure from the Globe depletes the number of film critics of color at daily newspapers. Remaining are Lisa Kennedy of the Denver Post and Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald. Craig D. Lindsey was laid off at the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., two years ago but continues to write about film, as in this review of Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained."
When he won his Pulitzer last year, Morris said it was important to have "everybody in on the conversation."
"I will say this," he told Michel Martin on NPR's "Tell Me More." "You know, Margo Jefferson and Robin Givhan and I are three African American people who've won this prize and I think that we have won it for doing work that is beyond the purview of race, but is not unaware of it and is willing to take it into consideration.
"I think that what it actually says to me — it's something that I've been thinking a lot about with this Trayvon Martin situation — which is that it's really important to have everybody in on the conversation. It's really important to have everybody looking at things and perceiving things and have other people listening to what other people are seeing. . . ."
CNN, under fire for the lack of diversity among its prime-time anchors, hired a "key talent development executive to help build a diverse slate of anchors," Eric Deggans writes in his new book, "Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation."
A CNN spokeswoman identified the executive as Amy Entelis, hired in January 2012 to a newly created position of senior vice president, talent and content development for CNN Worldwide.
In listing her credentials, the announcement noted, ". . . ABC News President Roone Arledge recruited Entelis for her first management role with a mandate to develop women and minorities for on-air positions."
In August, Entelis hired Ramon Escobar, a veteran of the Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo, as vice president of talent recruitment and development for CNN Worldwide.
To date, no anchors of color have surfaced during CNN's prime-time schedule.
Last month, Jeff Zucker, the former NBC executive, was named president of CNN Worldwide, and any high-profile assignments are likely awaiting development of Zucker's strategy to lift CNN from its third-place ratings among the cable news channels.
In July 2011, Kathy Y. Times, then president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said that she and Bob Butler, NABJ's vice president for broadcast, raised the prime-time issue with then-CNN President Jim Walton. Walton delegated the task to Mark Whitaker, the African American former Newsweek editor who became CNN executive vice president and managing editor. Six months later, Whitaker hired Entelis, who reports directly to him.
Whitaker told Eric Deggans, media critic for the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, "that CNN's challenge is finding journalists who can deliver a point of view and personality on news stories without being partisan or overly political," Deggans wrote in his book.
"A lot of training that journalists of all colors get, say in local news or a certain kind of news, doesn't really translate that well anymore into being host of a primetime show. You have to have a point of view, you have to have personality, conduct a lot of interviews and be spontaneous . . . that's a very, very high bar for any anchor, no matter what their color," Whitaker was quoted as saying.
The new president of the Unity alliance disclosed Friday that he was the third vote for returning the Unity Journalists coalition to its previous name, "Unity: Journalists of Color."
In the emailed balloting last weekend, 12 Unity board members voted for "Unity: Journalists for Diversity," three for "Unity: Journalists of Color," and one board member did not vote.
Tom Arviso Jr. of the Native American Journalists Association, publisher of the Navajo Times in Window Rock, Ariz., explained his preference for "Journalists of Color" by telephone.
"I think it's really just a reflection of who we are as Unity. I still believe in why the organization was started," he told Journal-isms. "Its message was to advocate on behalf of all the minorities . . . in my heart and my mind, I still feel strongly about the name.
"There's still a lot of members of Unity who still like the name 'Unity: Journalists of Color.' "
Despite his preference, Arviso said, "I accept and will respect" the board's choice, "Unity: Journalists for Diversity."
The other two votes for "Unity: Journalists of Color" came from Janet Cho of the Asian American Journalists Association and Peter Ortiz of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
[Ortiz said by email Saturday, "I voted for UNITY: Journalists of Color because I believe in the name and also to honor those who founded the group and believed in its mission. But I also voted for the name to honor NABJ members who were ignored/dismissed," referring to the National Association of Black Journalists, which left Unity in 2011 over financial and governance issues.]
Cho, Ortiz and Arviso voted in April against changing the coalition's name from "Unity: Journalists of Color" to "Unity Journalists" to accommodate the wishes of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.
In an advisory vote that ended last month, the NAJA members' vote was "UNITY: Journalists for Diversity," 49, or 67 percent; "Unity: Journalists of Color and Diversity, 14, or 19 percent; "Unity: Journalists of Color," 10, or 13.7 percent. NAJA has 232 members, Rhonda LeValdo, president, said.
Milton Coleman, who joined the Washington Post as a Metro reporter in 1976 and mastered its newsroom politics well enough to become, as deputy managing editor, its highest ranking black journalist, is leaving the newspaper.
"The end of 2012 also brought an end to Milton Coleman's remarkable run in this newsroom," Shirley Carswell, who succeeded Coleman as deputy managing editor, wrote Post staff members on Thursday. Coleman "thought he was going to slip out quietly this week. But we couldn't let him go out like that . . ., " she continued, announcing a newsroom celebration for next Thursday.
Coleman, 66, stepped out of the day-to-day running of the newsroom in 2009 to concentrate on leading the American Society of News Editors and then the Inter-American Press Association. He continued to run the Post newsroom from time to time as part of a rotation of top managers.
Coleman is a 1974 graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism's summer program for minority journalists, which evolved into the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.
He has said that his obituary is sure to include high up the furor that erupted when he reported in 1984 that Jesse Jackson, as a Democratic presidential candidate, had uttered the words "Hymie" and "Hymietown" to refer to Jews and to New York. The revelation, deep in a story written by another reporter, led to death threats and a discussion of whether Jackson's preceding the remarks by saying, "let's talk black talk" meant the comments should not have been used.
Coleman responded to the criticism in Atlanta in a speech at the 1984 convention of the National Association of Black Journalists, saying, " . . . Our job is not to censor news and distort reality for black people, but to offer all we can to broaden their horizons. The people can make up their own minds."
Coleman was city editor in 1981 when Janet Cooke, a young black reporter deceived her editors (including Bob Woodward, who was assistant managing editor/metro) with a hoax about an 8-year-old heroin addict. The story won a Pulitzer Prize, which Cooke had to return. The scandal became part of journalism history, though it was eclipsed two decades later by the Jayson Blair fabrication scandal at the New York Times.
In his report on the Cooke scandal, ombudsman Bill Green described Coleman as "a rangy, tall man," and added, "His quietness is deceptive. He pursues news as though it's his quarry, and admiring colleagues regard him as highly competitive. When he sits, he sprawls. He likes to work in a vest."
In May 2009, when Coleman stepped down as deputy managing editor to become senior editor, then-executive editor Marcus Brauchli recapped the positions he had held. "Milton was first promoted from metro reporter into management as assistant city editor and then city editor in 1980. He went back to reporting on the national staff for a stint before he was named AME/Metro in 1986. He became Deputy Managing Editor in July 1996, and in that role has been a mentor, advisor and leader to so many here, including us.
"Milton has accomplished much in his career, and he has done a huge amount for our profession beyond these walls, too," Brauchli's memo continued. "He has judged prize competitions and worked with groups promoting journalism education. He is an officer of the Inter-American Press Association, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Multicultural Media Executives and, of course, the American Society of News Editors. He has been an ardent advocate of the vitally important role of diversity in our newsroom and industry."
When the noted African American historian John Hope Franklin died in March 2009, the Post was one of the few papers to accord him front-page treatment. Coleman was running the Post newsroom that week.
Coleman learned Spanish using an immersion method, became liaison to the Post-owned Spanish-language El Tiempo Latino and eagerly tackled the job of working with Latin American journalists in IAPA.
He told that group when he took office, "As a young man, I fought for human rights in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, was arrested and spent time in jail. As a young journalist, I challenged authority in the name of the people's right to know. I was arrested and spent time in jail. As an experienced reporter, my life was threatened by those who disliked what I reported. So now, as an elder statesman in the rights struggle we all fight now, I feel very much at home. I’m no stranger to this cause."
Helen T. Gray, the Kansas City Star's longtime religion editor, retired on Friday.
"It's time," Gray told John Landsberg of Bottom Line, a Kansas City website, saying that she will not only retire from the paper but also plans to relocate to New Jersey to attend to her 91-year-old mother, Landsberg reported on Dec. 17.
"I need to do this," she said.
" 'Helen is the closest thing to a saint that any newsroom has ever had,' says former reporter/editor Jim Fitzpatrick who retired in 2006 after a 37-year career at the paper and currently operates the jimmycsays.com blog," Landsberg continued.
"In the midst of a gritty stew of anxiety, hand wringing, newsroom politics and back biting, Helen presented a picture of peace and goodwill when she would occasionally drift into the second-floor newsroom, from the arts and letters labyrinth on the third floor. Her departure will be a great loss to Kansas City. But, as usual, she’s going where she believes God wants her to be."
Gray was said to be the second black person hired in the Star's newsroom. In 2005, the Kansas City Association of Black Journalists described her as the longest-working journalist of color in the Kansas City area. The group also inducted her into its Hall of Fame. Gray was a first-place winner in religion category of the Kansas Press Association's writing competition.
As a 20-year-old senior at Syracuse University, Gray dated the late Syracuse running back Ernie Davis, the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy, and their romance was featured prominently in stories about Davis by Robert W. Butler for McClatchy Newspapers in 2008 and William Nack for Sports Illustrated in 1989.
- Edward M. Eveld, Kansas City Star: Retiring religion editor Helen T. Gray looks back on her years at The Star (Jan. 5)
"Houston police have arrested a man charged with stalking KPRC-TV anchor and traffic reporter Jennifer Reyna, authorities said," Mike Glenn reported Wednesday for the Houston Chronicle.
"An HPD spokesman said police investigators captured Christopher Olson, 38, about 10 a.m. Wednesday at his apartment in Webster. . . .
"Olson was at the Harris County Jail later Wednesday with bail set at $80,000.
"Police said Olson had been trailing after the popular local news figure since mid-September. . . . Olson's apparent infatuation with Reyna has been ongoing for several years. In addition to the latest rash of stalking incidents, HPD investigators said he ignored a May 2007 court order for him to have no contact with her.
"Olson also drove his car through the front door at the news station on two separate occasions in May 2007, causing several thousands dollars in damages. . . ."
A 2009 story identifies Reyna as "a proud member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists."
"When four journalists linked to a British media institution were bundled-up and jailed on frivolous espionage charges by Liberia's dictator Charles Taylor, the world barked," the New Democrat of Monrovia, Liberia, wrote Monday in an editorial headlined, "Woes Of The African Journalist."
"Nelson Mandela sent pleading messages to the 'strongman', a man he had once lavishly entertained as a visiting, fellow African president. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, always keen on not missing an opportunity to champion good causes for media and public attention, stormed the CNN pleading the men's case. International media institutions threw their influence behind the men. The arrests became a global media sensation which human rights organizations were just too happy to exploit for the needed headlines.
"Now that four poor Liberian journalists working for an obscure media outlet have been grabbed on an identical charge and dumped into a madman's dungeon, their plight remains the reserve of their families and a few media organizations with human rights agendas. The jailed men are Africans. Their agony makes no news on a continent buried in ghastlier horrors.
"Caught firmly in the clutches of intolerance and senile tyranny, the African journalist continues to pay the thankless price for independent thinking. From Sierra Leone to Algeria (where at least 69 journalists have been killed since 1993), Angola, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, etc., the story of the African journalist is the basically same: summary executions, arbitrary arrests, closure of media outlets, economic deprivation, and exile. Africa has registered one of the highest numbers of killed journalists in recent times. . . . "
- Committee to Protect Journalists: Nigerian journalists freed, but equipment still held
- Patrick Foster, USA Today: Kristof to take student on reporting trip to Africa
- Reporters Without Borders: Journalist convicted — it's time to decriminalize press offences (Dec. 28)
- The brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapist on a bus in Delhi, India, has outraged a nation, prompted worldwide looks at crimes against women, and led to Sunday's front page, at right, in India's Hindustan Times.
- "It is that time of year again for lists and the first one to catch my attention, in a negative light, was the Sports Business Journal's list of The Most Influential People in Sports Business," Kenneth L. Shropshire wrote Monday for the Huffington Post. "To be clear, the authors did not do anything wrong. What that list reaffirms is that although Blacks dominate on the field of play in most sports we are woefully absent from the highest levels of sport on the business side. What is particularly striking about this most influential list is that of the fifty individuals there is only one Black person, DeMaurice Smith, way down at slot number 42. . . ." Smith is executive director of the National Football League Players Association.
- "The Online News Association today announced the appointment of Benét Wilson, eNewsletters/Social Media Editor, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, to its 2013 Board of Directors," the ONA announced on Friday. Jim Brady, ONA president, told Journal-isms by email, "ONA has held back one board seat to address diversity for the past few years now. Rob King from ESPN.com served last year, but he had to step down because of time constraints, so the seat was open again this year, and the board voted to appoint Benet, who has been an avid ONA supporter and volunteer for years. We also had three women leave the board this year, and only one was elected, so Benet's appointment also helped address that deficiency."
- ". . . For blacks, our fortunes have exactly reversed," Los Angeles writer Erin Aubry Kaplan, a former Los Angeles Times columnist, wrote Thursday for Southern California's KCET public television, discussing the Times. "In 1992 the Times showed a flurry of interest in what was happening in black neighborhoods besides mayhem; that interest faded like a trend, pushed aside by economic realities and a burgeoning Latino population that was remaking South Central demographically and politically. The black story became one of simply holding on, not exactly a sexy topic or arresting visual that would appeal to editors. . . . " Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan told Journal-isms, "We don't have comment on Erin Aubry Kaplan's personal reminiscence."
- "Eric Ludgood is out as news director for WGCL, the Meredith owned CBS affiliate for Atlanta," Kevin Eck reported Thursday for TVSpy. "Ludgood had been assistant news director at WGCL before leaving for three months in 2010 to work as news director for WNCN in Raleigh, NC. He returned to WGCL as news director in February 2011 replacing Steve Schwaid."
- "Fox News Channel's Hispanic-targeting website Fox News Latino is adding Hernán Rozemberg as its senior editor," Alex Weprin reported Friday for TVNewser. "Rozemberg had been a senior correspondent for National Public Radio, on its 'Fronteras: The Changing America Desk.' That desk focused on issues like border control and immigration. . . ."
- "According to journalist and educator Miguel Perez, 2013 is a very important year for the United States — it's the 500th anniversary of the nation's discovery," the Latina Lista blog reported on Friday. ". . . Ponce de León was looking for that elusive 'Fountain of Youth' when he ran into some land and christened it Florida in April 1513. Yet, instead of crediting Ponce de León with discovering the United States, historians only gave him credit for discovering the state of Florida. . . ."
- "After last year's hugely successful SAJA Editors Challenge (11 top editors across the country challenged all of us to help raise $20,000 for SAJA scholarships), we are now launching the SAJA Broadcast Challenge," the South Asian Journalists Association announced on its website. "Some fabulous current and former broadcast folks have come together to create a challenge grant for SAJA members and friends. Their special pool of money will match, dollar-for-dollar, all donations made, up to a total of $7,500. We have till Feb 1, 2013 to complete this challenge! Ali Velshi, chief business anchor, CNN, helped launch this at SAJA Gala Dinner in DC this year. . . . "
- "Houston film reviewer Jake Hamilton, who has a segment called 'Jake's Takes' on Fox 26 Morning News Extra, has received a positive reaction from viewers after he refused to say the 'n-word' on the air, at the provocation of Samuel L. Jackson," Dana Guthrie reported Thursday for the Houston Chronicle.
- ". . . In the 'media' industry — a category that includes television, movies, print journalism and music, there were 5,641 layoffs in 2012 compared with 7,720 the year before, amounting to 27 percent fewer announced layoffs year over year," according to the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Paul Bond reported Thursday in the Hollywood Reporter.
- "When I looked at the state of reporting on mental-health issues after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, I saw a forbidding landscape," Andrew Beaujon wrote Thursday for the Poynter Institute. "John Head sees improvement. When he started reporting on mental health for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the turn of the century, a diagnosis or even a suggestion that a violent person was mentally ill 'was end of story,' he said in a telephone interview. 'That explained it. . . . ' "
- "As the editor of the fledgling literary journal, The American Reader, Uzoamaka Maduka, a 25-year-old Princeton graduate, is proof that even in this iPhone age, some paper-based dreams have not died," Amy O'Leary wrote Wednesday in the New York Times. "Bright young things, it seems, are still coming to New York, smoking too much and starting perfect-bound literary journals. . . ."
- "The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a series of investigations into independent Egyptian newspapers on accusations of insulting the president or reporting false news," the press freedom organization said on Thursday. "Some newspapers and media professionals face formal charges in connection to their critical reporting, according to news reports. . . ."
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