Sue Simmons Out as N.Y. Anchor After 32 Years
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
"After more than three decades, WNBC/Channel 4 is tossing anchorwoman Sue Simmons overboard," gossip columnist Cindy Adams reported Wednesday for the New York Post.
"Last week, the station gave her the bad news that her contract would not be renewed — and come June, she’s history."
Asked to respond to Adams' story, WNBC issued this statement:
"We have tremendous respect and admiration for Sue Simmons. For decades, Sue has been a critical part of New York’s longest tenured anchor team in the city and has more than earned her iconic status. We have been engaged in ongoing conversations with Sue about her transition from WNBC and will continue to work with her on plans to celebrate her many contributions to WNBC and the New York market."
Spokeswoman Dawn Rowan, director of communications for WNBC, confirmed that longtime co-anchor Chuck Scarborough's contract was renewed but said she could not respond to a question about why Scarborough's contract was renewed but not Simmons'. "The only information I have is that Chuck's contract was renewed," she said.
Adams' story continued, "Simmons, who has won four Emmys since starting at Channel 4 in 1980 and is the top-paid anchorwoman at any local station in the country, would happily have stayed.
"It was entirely NBC’s decision to break up the city’s best-known local anchor pair, Simmons and Chuck Scarborough.
"Not that the others aren’t all stellar. They’re just not Sue and Chuck, the longest-running anchor team in New York television history.
"Both contracts were up in June. We’re talking similar vintage. Sue is 68. Chuck is 68. The station’s given Chuck three more years. Sue’s been given the boot. They’re no longer a team.
"A year ago, she was told by a senior member at the network that this was happening.
"She asked me not to tell anyone because it hadn’t come from the bosses. Now it has."
Bob Butler, vice president for broadcast of the National Association of Black Journalists, told Journal-isms that "NABJ is disappointed that one of the most highly respected news anchors" is losing her job.
But, Butler added, "Personality-driven news is not as important as it was years ago. Companies feel people are going to watch the news because of the content more than who's delivering the news. It's clear that when you have somebody with the reputation of a Sue Simmons, some will watch because of her.
"I'm troubled by the fact that some of our NABJ members who have served for years and years and years are having their hours reduced, are being cut back or their contracts are not being renewed."
Fans started a Web page, "Save Sue Simmons."
- Richard Huff, Daily News, New York: New York TV news mainstay Sue Simmons to say farewell to WNBC audiences in June
- Don Kaplan, New York Post: Simmons’ $5M salary, 'antics' led to WNBC ditching her: sources (March 8)
Two years after the journalism associations hit a financial rough patch caused by the recession and cutbacks in the news industry, the National Association of Black Journalists and Unity: Journalists of Colo, Inc.r emerged from 2011 solidly in the black, leaders of those groups said on Wednesday.
The Native American Journalists Association and CCMNA: Latino Journalists of California were in the red. The Asian American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association said they were in the black.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, which projected a $240,000 deficit for 2010 and hoped to end 2011 in the black after a series of cutbacks, has not reported on its progress and did not respond this week to inquiries from Journal-isms.
[Michele Salcedo, NAHJ president, announced on the NAHJ website Thursday that the organization had authorized two bridge loans from its investment account, among other measures, and that "according to our final financial numbers, NAHJ finished 2011 with revenues of more than $111,000 over expenses, leaving us with more than $104,000 in investments at the end of December. We will be conducting an audit at the end of this year." She did not say whether the bridge loans had been repaid.]
Gregory H. Lee Jr., president of NABJ, told Journal-isms by email, "NABJ had an unaudited surplus of $204,577 for fiscal year 2011 — back-to-back years in the black.
"NABJ accomplished its financial goals through aggressive fund raising by our national office and ensuring that the association remained disciplined in its spending based upon the budget set in place by the Board of Directors. I want to thank the finance committee for keeping us on track. NABJ has expanded its revenue streams by hosting a Hall of Fame Gala in the winter and the Health Care Disparities Conference in the spring. We are looking for more expansion in the fall."
Onica Makwakwa, executive director of Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc., which includes AAJA, NAHJ, NAJA and NLGJA but is not a membership organization, said by email, "UNITY's December 31, 2011 reconciled balance was a little over $300,000."
The "reconciled balance" is "a reconciliation based on our bank statement but deducting for any outstanding payments such as checks that have not cleared our bank yet, incurred credit card balances and any such payables that have not hit our account to affect the cash balance. So, in short, the amount reflects a true balance rather than the bank statement balance," Makwakwa explained.
"The end of year balance is about $50,000 less the anticipated balance based on the approved budget for 2011," she continued. "Please note that these are unaudited figures. We had anticipated sponsorship payments for the convention to be received in 2011 which came in January of 2012 instead. The fund balance also includes monies for the NewU grant including the anticipated payment of $40,000 in seed grants. Apart from the grant related expenses for New U, additional funds are used to support UNITY's core work in advocacy, operation, and the majority of the funds being used to pay advance convention expenses."
Kathy Chow, executive director of AAJA, said by email, "We ended the year with a very small net profit. . . . Additionally, AAJA recently completed our 2011 audit, and was notified that we had a clean audit with no management findings." In 2010, AAJA turned a $207,000 deficit into a $399,000 surplus.
David Steinberg, president of NLGJA, called 2011 "a very successful year. First, this information is based on our raw numbers, as we haven't even started our audit yet," he said by email. "That said, we have a pretty good picture of how we did.
"Financially, 2011 was a great year. By concentrating on core services most needed by our members, we were able to keep expenses reasonably in line. It's one of the reasons we were able to grow our staff in 2011, and yet are still expected to show a small 5%-10% surplus for the year.
"Overall, the year was pretty incredible, with one of the highlights being our joining UNITY. This helped us increase the programs, information and resources available to our members, and it has given us an opportunity to contribute our efforts, perspective and experience in projects with our alliance partners. And of course, we're gearing up for the upcoming UNITY conference in August. (Obligatory plugs: Applications for the student project are due THIS FRIDAY. And early bird registration — and a big discount — ends March 16!)"
Jeff Harjo, executive director of NAJA, said his organization ended 2011 in the red but that he was occupied with another project and could not provide details. Darla Leslie, then NAJA president, resigned in November, saying "I believe NAJA is on the verge of financial ruin. My resignation is a reflection of the inability, in my opinion, of our Board of Directors to take immediate action to remedy this situation."
At the NAHJ convention, NAHJ financial officer Russell Contreras told attendees, "We are projected to end the year with more money than we started, but to get there we had to make a lot of painful decisions."
Staff members were cut, and the organization moved out of its offices at the National Press Building to another Washington location. Asked on Dec. 29 how NAHJ ended the year, Interim Executive Director Anna Lopez Buck said by email, "We haven't closed out our 2011 financials and we don't have the end year projections available at the moment. We will be sharing the year end projections with the NAHJ membership very soon."
Julio Moran, executive director of the smaller CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California, said Wednesday by email: "We have not completed our tax return for 2011, but we technically ended in a deficit because we borrowed money to balance our budget through the end of last year, about $20,000.
Moran cited lack of funding support. "We rely primarily on corporate contributions from two major events: our annual Scholarship Banquet and our annual Journalism Opportunities Conference," he said.
"Funding support, especially from media companies, has dropped significantly over the years, yet it is these companies that benefit the most from our efforts. We have received some small grants, but mostly it is corporate support, and mostly from non-media companies and foundations." [Updated March 8]
Cynthia Liu of the Asian American Journalists Association, Jason Frazer, who is unaffiliated, and Ashley Cisneros of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists have been chosen to receive $10,000 each to seed a news entrepreneurship project, Unity: Journalists of Color announced on Tuesday.
"New U is a Ford Foundation-funded program for journalists of color who want to become entrepreneurs," the announcement said. "In fall 2011, fourteen participants attended two-day 'boot camp' to learn skills, and pitch their ideas to a group of mentors and guest entrepreneurship experts. Pitches were video recorded, and in December, UNITY asked members and their friends to vote for the best business concept.
". . . The New U project is intended to increase the number of innovative thinkers and product developers who are of color, providing them with a forum in which to develop and express innovative ideas. 'We’ve taken this process several steps forward in the last 18 months,' said Doug Mitchell, program co-director. We’ve competitively selected seven grant recipients, found like-minded business accelerator partners and this coming August, again with support from The Ford Foundation, will find more media entrepreneurs who need help and provide that help."
The headline on the New York Times' Web story Wednesday on the death of Rep. Donald M. Payne, D-N.J., made some cringe: "Donald M. Payne, First Black Elected to Congress From New Jersey, Dies at 77," it read.
A reader signing as "MuseVP" from Montreal wrote, "When is [the] NYT going to revise its editorial policy on using 'Black' as a noun instead of an adjective? Here's a few appropriate suggestions on how to adjust: to 'Donald M. Payne, First Black POLITICIAN Elected to Congress From New Jersey, Dies at 77' or 'Donald M. Payne, First Black LEADER Elected to Congress From New Jersey, Dies at 77' or 'Donald M. Payne, First Black PERSON Elected to Congress From New Jersey, Dies at 77'. It's the respectful way to describe PEOPLE."
The reader's point — that humans are people first — has not been universally adopted by news organizations. Some journalists and readers view "a black" as pejorative, saying that one rarely sees "a white" and that the term encourages isolating black people as something "other."
A style guide from the National Association of Black Journalists says, "In news copy, aim to use black as an adjective, not a noun. Also, when describing a group, use black people instead of just blacks. In headlines, blacks, however, is acceptable."
At the Times, "We don't have a guideline one way or the other on noun versus adjective," spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Journal-isms.
At the Associated Press, "The AP Stylebook entries on 'African-American' and 'black' permit noun usages of black," spokesman Jack Stokes said. "The individual's preference is always a factor."
However, at the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, style books prefer that "black" remain an adjective.
The Post guide says, "African American, when appropriate, is preferable to black in the noun form: An African American and African Americans read much better than A black and blacks."
Nancy Sullivan, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Times, said by email:
"The Times' stylebook counsels against using 'black' as a noun. The listing for 'African American' reads, in part:
"Take care in using black as a noun, particularly in the singular. It may have a pejorative connotation."
"That has been the guidance given to the newsroom since at least 1995, when the most recent version of our stylebook was published. From a quick review of headlines, where space is often an issue, it appears that we have strayed on a couple of occasions in the last year. Henry is sending a reminder to the copy desks accordingly."
Fuhrmann is a board member of the Los Angeles chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association.
"Real Times Media, a Detroit-based multimedia company that owns the Chicago Defender and the New Pittsburgh Courier, announced on Tuesday that it has purchased the Atlanta Daily World for an undisclosed price," Frederick H. Lowe reported for North Star News & Analysis.
" 'Real Times Media is delighted to enter into this strategic alliance with the Atlanta Daily World,' " Hiram E. Jackson, chief executive officer of Real Times Media, said in a statement. 'The Atlanta Daily World is one of the most storied and legendary newspaper franchises in America, and Atlanta is one of the most-important markets in the country.'
"A partnership headed by Real Times Media owners purchased 100 percent of the Atlanta Daily World, Jackson said. According to the agreement, Real Times Media will assume this month operational responsibility for the Atlanta Daily World, but M. Alexis Scott will remain the paper's publisher.
"William A. Scott II, M. Alexis Scott's grandfather, founded the newspaper as a weekly in 1928 to cover Atlanta's thriving black business community, according to the book, The Black Press, U.S.A., by Roland E. Wolseley. In 1932, the paper began publishing daily. An unknown gunman murdered William A. Scott in 1934, and his brother, C. A. Scott, became the paper's editor and publisher after the Atlanta World became a corporation."
Alexis Scott told Journal-isms on Thursday that the paper now publishes once a week but is "daily online," and claims 25,000 readers, with about half that number of copies in circulation.
She said she approached Real Times after a tornado ripped the roof of the building in 2008 and the paper was published first out of her house, then at a location at the airport. "We needed to be part of a bigger organization," she said.
Real Times also owns the Michigan Chronicle, the Michigan FrontPage and the Tri-State Defender in Memphis, Tenn. [Updated March 8]
- Scott Henry, Creative Loafing: Atlanta Daily World building is latest Auburn Avenue historical site at risk (Feb. 29)
- M. Alexis Scott and Valerie Edwards, East Atlanta Patch: In Response To: Sweet Auburn Fights To Save Former Atlanta Daily World Building
Danyel Smith, the journalist and author who was named editor-in-chief at Billboard magazine 14 months ago, has left the publication, a Billboard spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
The spokeswoman, Lee Rothchild, did not provide further details. Smith did not respond to a request for comment. Bill Werde remains editorial director of the music industry trade publication. A Billboard employee said the editor-in-chief's job is "in flux."
When Smith became Billboard editor-in-chief, Anslem Samuel wrote for Black Enterprise:
"This is not Smith’s first turn with the music industry trade publication or as EIC of a major magazine. In 1993 she served as R&B Editor for Billboard, and ran Vibe magazine from 1997-1999 and again from 2006-2009. Over the course of her career, Smith has written for the Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Spin, The New Yorker and The New York Times, among other notable media outlets. She’s also penned two fiction novels, More Like Wrestling and Bliss."
As advertisers continued to flee Rush Limbaugh's radio show, the Media Matters for America website compiled "The 20 Worst Racial Attacks Limbaugh's Advertisers Have Sponsored" and Limbaugh supporters charged that a double standard exists when liberal commentators such as Bill Maher trash conservatives on the air.
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell said Maher, the comedian and talk show host, called former Alaska governor Sarah Palin "a dumb twat" and didn’t suffer nearly the consequences that Limbaugh has, Betsy Rothstein wrote for FishbowlDC.
While not excusing Maher, others nevertheless pointed out a difference: Palin is a public figure, unlike Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law school student Limbaugh insulted.
As of Wednesday evening, Media Matters counted at least 45 advertisers that have reportedly dropped their ads from Limbaugh's show.
On the Media Matters list of racial attacks was this one from Sept. 25, 2009, about Native Americans:
"Holocaust? Ninety million Indians? Only four million left? They all have casinos — what's to complain about?"
- Chris Ariens, TVNewser: Ed Schultz Says Don’t Compare His Apology to Rush Limbaugh’s
- Amy Bingham, ABC News: Rush Limbaugh: Over 40 Advertisers Flee, Host Says 'Everything’s Cool'
- Eric Boehlert, Media Matters: Could Conservatives Have Stopped Rush Limbaugh?
- Danielle Cadet, Huffington Post: Rush Limbaugh's Latest Defense: Rappers 'Say Anything They Want'
- Eric Deggans blog, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times: Does backlash against Rush Limbaugh prove bounds of public discourse have shifted?
- John Donvan, "Talk of the Nation," NPR: Varied Takes On The Power Of The Word 'Slut'
- Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: Why Limbaugh's Fluke Apology Was No Apology
- Media Matters: Netflix Says Limbaugh Ads Were Run In Error
- Kirsten Powers, Daily Beast: Rush Limbaugh Isn’t the Only Media Misogynist
- Brian Stelter, New York Times: As Advertisers Recoil, Limbaugh Says, 'So Be It'
The departure of Nicholas Thompson, a senior editor at the New Yorker magazine, prompted a reader to ask owner Condé Nast, through Journal-isms, whether this presented an opportunity to diversify the New Yorker senior staff.
Condé Nast spokeswoman Alexa Cassanos responded by email:
"We are constantly striving to fill open positions with minorities and in fact, our most recent major hire, Wyatt Mitchell, is African American. He was hired to fill the newly created position of Design Director, one of the most senior positions at The New Yorker (or any other magazine). Wyatt is considered to be one of the most talented designers working in our field and we were thrilled when he agreed to work here."
Mitchell's LinkedIn profile lists stints as design director at Wired magazine; art director at O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine; art director at Vibe; production director at Esquire; production editor at Vibe; and production manager at Details.
"The man who headed up the FCC’s National Broadband Plan talks with us about the role Internet access plays in information sharing and innovation," Nieman Journalism Lab wrote Tuesday over a piece by Justin Ellis, introducing his interview with Blair Levin.
Ellis: ". . . do you have any ideas about how expanding broadband could perhaps lead to innovations in journalism either through the business side or through how it’s delivered?
"Blair Levin: Well, there are certain things we know to be true, most of them are negative to the business model. But here are a few positive ones: First, it enables everyone to be a journalist. Distribution is no longer the issue it once was, and also access to information — there’s a lot more. Anybody has access to information. That doesn’t mean everyone’s going to be a good journalist — it just means anyone can be a journalist. So that’s a good thing.
"Second, the power to collaborate is much greater — the ability of people in diverse locations to look at something and analyze it and come up with a conclusion about its meaning is very different than it once was. And so, you know, two heads can be better than one, three can be better, four can be better…So I think it enables collaboration between individuals, and that’s a good thing. The third thing is the whole data-, algorithm-based analysis. So when you are looking at government budgets, and looking at certain things which really are subject to large data sets, you can do things and analyze things faster, better…
"I think that journalism, at its heart, is telling us the story of what's going on, to try and tell us, 'here’s something that’s important, here’s something that’s valuable.' Broadband can contribute mightily to helping us understand the world, because it gives us access to information we wouldn’t have otherwise, but there still is that human element. And the problem is, if you don’t have that human element, you really miss the story."
Jeff Johnson of MSNBC, left, and Peggy Lewis, Howard University journalism professor, flank Howard students on one of several panels assembled for a Super Tuesday webcast hosted at Howard by Roland Martin, at right, CNN commentator and host of TV One's "Washington Watch With Roland Martin." Among other panelists were Joe Madison, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio show host; conservative commentators Armstrong Williams and Rich Galen; Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP; Deborah Simmons, Washington Times correspondent; pollster Cornell Belcher; and Hilary O. Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau director and senior vice president for advocacy. (Credit: Washington Watch)
- "In comments to the FCC, a coalition of advocacy groups long opposed to media consolidation and cable operators say shared services agreements and other contractual deals that stop short of ownership, but let broadcasters operate two or even three stations in a market, need to be eliminated. These virtual duopolies, they say, reduce competition and news coverage while giving stations an unfair advantage in retrans negotiations with cable operators," TVNewsCheck wrote Wednesday over a story by Harry A. Jessell.
- "Willie Lora has been appointed News Director for leading Spanish-language news network CNN en Español. He most recently served as the channel’s Washington, DC Bureau Chief and will relocate to Atlanta to assume his new position. The announcement was made today by Eduardo Suarez, Vice President of Programs, CNN en Español," the network announced on Friday.
- "All-American Muslim, the TLC reality-TV show based in Dearborn that ignited a national controversy, has been canceled and will not be back for a second season," Niraj Warikoo reported Wednesday for the Detroit Free Press. "Cast members said they were told by TLC the show didn't get high enough ratings to continue, but some said they are skeptical of that claim since the show's ratings were equal to those of many other shows. . . . The TV series was the first in the U.S. centered on Muslim-Americans, and while it was widely praised by critics and religious leaders it was also a lightning rod for controversy."
- In Dallas-Fort Worth, KXAS-TV "is deploying a virtual armada of ethnically diverse newcomers, "the bulk of them" hired in 2011, news director Susan Tully told Ed Bark for his Uncle Barky's blog on television news. ". . . It's a follow through on NBCUniversal's previous pronouncement that its 10 owned and operated stations, which include Fort Worth-based NBC5, would be hiring more than 130 news staffers under new parent company Comcast's initiative to 'ensure they have the resources necessary to effectively compete in their markets.' " The eight hires are Keaton Fox, Christine Lee, Mola Lenghi, Tammy Mutasa, Catherine Ross, Sara Story, Chris Van Horne and Andrew Tanielian.
- "Newspapers maintain there is separation between who writes news and who writes opinion, by calling some of them reporters and others columnists. In reality, that tenuous line was trampled when reporters started using Twitter and broadcasting their opinions for all to read," Ronnie Ramos wrote Tuesday for the National Sports Journalism Center. Last week, Ramos wrote about how traditional media have let social media hurt their franchise.
- From an NBC interview with Gawker Media boss Nick Denton, via Erik Wemple Tuesday in the Washington Post: "People need to get their head around the fact that the Web is different — that we publish faster, we change faster, we correct faster. And frankly, the standards of publication are lower."
- ". . . From local government to the presidential election, new media company Florida Voices — with its tagline 'The State Opinion Page' — hopes to become a one-stop guide for Floridians," Nu Yang wrote Feb. 23 for Editor & Publisher. "Founded by Tampa Tribune alumni Rosemary Goudreau and Rosemary Curtiss, the opinion magazine (FloridaVoices.com) also staffs former newspaper employees from around the state as associate editors and columnists. Their backgrounds include work at The Florida Times-Union, St. Petersburg Times, The Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel, The Palm Beach Post, The New York Times, and The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer."
- The NBA fined Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant $40,000 for missing a news conference and a mandated charity appearance for NBA Cares during All-Star weekend in Orlando, according to a league official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about it, Jeff Zillgitt reported for USA Today. On Feb. 24, Richard Horgan, writing about All-Star Media Day for FishbowlLA, wrote that "reporters from all over the world waited for over 30 minutes until an NBA spokesperson told them he will not be coming… "
- In Haiti, "Reporters Without Borders is deeply saddened by the news that radio journalist Jean Liphète Nelson was gunned down yesterday in Cité Soleil, the poorest neighbourhood of the capital, Port-au-Prince," the press freedom group said on Tuesday. "The manager of Radio Boukman, a community and educational radio station based in Cité Soleil, Nelson was widely respected for his humanitarian commitment to serving the inhabitants of this politically sensitive district. Aged 38, he was the father of five children."
- In India, "A large crowd attacked a group of about 100 Indian journalists covering local election results in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday and damaged their equipment, according to news reports. The journalists were forced to lock themselves in a school for several hours to protect themselves from the violence, news reports said," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported.
- "A coalition of about 50 media outlets in Mexico published a statement calling on authorities to guarantee safety for journalists of the newspaper Seminario Zeta, which is published in the border city of Tijuana, and which recently has received threats from a criminal gang, reported the news agency EFE," Tania Lara reported Tuesday for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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