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Common Sense: Diverse Newsrooms Could Lead To Less Apologies

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Jeremy Kappell, the long-time Meteorologist at WHEC-TV in Rochester, NY lost his job after a slip of the tongue. Dropping the word “coon” albeit by accident, while uttering the sacred name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t go over well with the public, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and eventually his bosses after some time lapsed and the public outcry didn’t quiet down as they hoped it would. I get it. People say things they don’t mean to say all the time. We take comfort with this phenomenon and Freudian slips when someone is usually drunk, angry or otherwise lucid and feeling unconstrained. In the age of Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the U.S., these types of happenings are not just scrutinized; they’re scrutinized with suspicion of bold racism.

The lack of diversity in newsrooms, especially in small town America like the home of NBC affiliate WHEC, highlights the importance of hiring people of color. And WHEC actually reflects that compared to other local stations like WROC, WUHF and WHAM. Just take a look at their rosters; most of their employees are White. This, in a city where a 2017 snapshot by Suburban Stat reflects a diverse community; 43 percent White, 41 percent Black, 16 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian. If diversity wasn’t seen by some as what conservative talking bobble-head Tucker Carlson calls an attempt to make America “dirtier,” newsroom staffers would be more familiar working with non-white American journalists. Yes, we do exist. And, please spare me the, “but what about Al Roker, Deborah Roberts, Lester Holt and Tamron Hall” rebuttal on the lack of diversity in media. Unless there’s a quota on minority hires, it behooves news directors everywhere to consider hiring more POC deserving of a chance to build successful journalism careers.

I grew up watching my local anchors and learning from them. English, my 4th language, was primarily taken up from watching Linda Lorelle, Marlene McClinton, Dave Ward, Don Nelson, Jerome Gray, and even Jacque Reid as a teen in Houston, TX. Their work helped shape my own dreams of becoming a television news anchor. And, I would make a great TV news anchor in the small town I moved to in 2008 for the chance to build this dream…if only my skin color wasn’t my Achilles’ heel. You see, to even be granted an interview during my early attempts to work for the only local station at the time, WKTV, required me to go to the local NAACP chapter for support. Yes, you read that correctly. It took the head of the NAACP to force the news director at the time to begrudgingly consider my application. Every other attempt was simply dismissed. He didn’t offer me the job and during the interview demanded I tell my current radio employer that I’m looking to move on. The struggles I’ve had to endure in my skin, in this business, in this small town are real.

The media landscape has been changing for years thanks to advancements in technology and the birth of digital media. Broadcast companies have had to adjust accordingly. And that’s by cutting people, the most vulnerable ones; minorities and older journalists. Media companies want more for less. And they prefer it from a certain demographic; young, white and preferably a petite blond woman. Experience, diversity and the significance of journalism in our society are dying ideals. And the lack of diversity in media has other consequences in addition to the obvious ones. The media apology circuit is not new. It’s a communication strategy; apologize and hope it goes away; don’t apologize and hope your audience moves on to the next shiny thing; terminate, educate or circle the wagons. Big media companies are on a path that solidifies their power and devalues people. It’s a page ripped from Trump’s own playbook, and recent FCC changes reflect this inhumane shift.

Many violations have been made on and off the air similar to the mistake made by Kappell. And it won’t be the last blunder they’ll apologize for either…as long as we keep accepting it. Guess what that comes with? More of the same. Diversity in media is the key to resolving these long-standing cultural issues that divide us, but as long as those holding the key refuse to use it to open the door for minority journalists, they’ll just keep offering apologies. Sorry. Not Sorry.

 

Keeping Up With A Dying Tradition

Adiante Fransoon is a Saamaka tribesman from Suriname. He’s the last remaining woodcarver who’s carving the way his ancestors—escaped African slaves—did hundreds of years ago in the dense tropical forest of the South American country. Adiante Fransoon is practicing authenticity in an ever increasing inauthentic world.

 

Baltimore Speaks In Murals

Baltimore is rich in culture and murals. Art lives in the city and despite the high crime and poverty rate, the city is truly a hidden cultural gem. The city inhabits the spirits of icons like Billy Holiday, Eubie Blake and Ida B. Wells as it evolves into the American melting pot of Arts and Humanities. For more on the murals of Baltimore click, HERE

Deadly High-Five: MBS & Putin Speak Loudly With Gestures At G20 Summit

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Let’s call it what it is; the high five between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, (MBS) evoke visions of Doctor Evil and Number 2 celebrating a win for their team. And if it didn’t send chills down your spine, you haven’t been keeping up with world affairs. Anyone who has can fill in the blanks to properly caption the symbolism behind it. Keep in mind, Putin is no stranger to brazen killings of journalists in his own country.

Another avenue to capture and understand the moment and how it’s portrayed is through the lens of the media. And, where folks get the vast majority of their information from can undoubtedly skew their perceptions, which is by design because your favorite media watering hole aims to influence you.

Comparing CNN, MSNBC, NYDN, Fox News, NYPost, WSJ and even Al Jazeera’s coverage of the dramatic greeting between the two men, it’s easy to make the contrasts and comparisons. CNN, MSNBC, NYDN and the NYPost took a more bombastic approach to describe the high-five that sent chills to spines across the globe. The wording used, “astounding, bazaar, deadly serious and Murder? What murder?” or referring to the two men as “blood brothers” is a clear position the above mentioned outlets have taken. This stance, which pays in dividends, serves their more moderate leaning audience. Comparing CNN, MSNBC, NYDN and NYPost—more liberal leaning media companies—coverage to the WSJ’s coverage of the high-five at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires there’s a clear distinction; CNN, MSNBC, NYDN and NYPost made their views of the dramatic handshake very clear by painting it in a negative light, while the WSJ took a more conservative brush to it for its audience—a more conservative leaning and economy focused audience—by describing the greeting as exchanging “pleasantries” and quickly moving on to other subject matters central to the G20 Summit.

Looking at Al Jazeera and considering the strained relationship between the two countries, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, one could easily surmise the Qatar media company would take a hostile position in describing and analyzing the irregular exchange between MBS and Putin, but it didn’t. Al Jazeera took a neutral position on the G20 Summit, including the high-five. The media company simply gave updates on the happenings at the Summit. From the issues being discussed to the meetings being held with all the different world leaders, Al Jazeera didn’t even describe the exchange with bombastic wordings like CNN, MSNBC, NYDN or NYPost and the like did. It provided a ticker with periodic updates of the Summit.

Fox News also took a different position. The conservative leaning media company and staunch supporter and defender of U.S. President Donald J. Trump didn’t lead with the high-five angle, nor did it mention it. Instead, Fox News chose to highlight Trump and his leadership at the Summit favorably instead. Fox News came out with this headline, “Trump Presses Putin on Syria, US Election Meddling in First Meeting.” Fox led with this soft on Trump approach storyline, while most other major news outlets spoke about the strange greeting following the barbaric killing of journalist Jamal Kashoggi. There is no mention or video of the handshake between MBS and Putin on the Fox News website. This is clearly by design to cater to its audience, most of whom are conservative leaning and even cult-like Trump supporters.

Media companies cater to their specific audience by way of storytelling. If not, they lose them and all the money the story arc generates. This pattern of shaping information to pacify audience members is not new in the art of storytelling or news reporting. Media outlets are simply getting better at delivering news that fits a certain agenda rather than news that serves to empower people.  This news media strategy, whether it be liberal or conservative leaning, is frightening, especially in the era of Trump, heightened corporate greed and wrongdoings, including brazen murders of top officials and journalists tasked with uncovering truth and holding the powerful accountable.

 

Marking The 50th Anniversary Of Shirley Chisholm’s Historic Election To Congress

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was a force to be reckoned with. Fifty years later, the country is remembering her historic election as the first African American woman to serve in Congress. This, in a time when the country is seeing a historic rise in women being elected to political office.

During a 1983 speech Chisholm said, “I think it’s important that as we look around ourselves in the room today, there are so many complex complicated problems. And the time has come that somehow we must be able to utilize our creative energies on a positive manner and work together for the remediation of the human condition. It matters not whether you are white or black, whether you are male or female but that if you have special talents and aptitudes and abilities that these collective talents and abilities should be utilized by all of us in order to try and help make this world a better place in which to live.” Thanks to the brilliant, feisty, bold, unapologetic “unbought and unbossed” Chisholm, we’ve come a long way in the fight for a more just and equal world, but the fight is far from over.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s remarks on Shirley Chisholm: 

Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14) the organizer of the, “Unbought and Unbossed: A Forum Honoring the Life and Legacy of Shirley Chisholm,”  said, “Fifty years after Representative Chisholm became the first black woman in Congress, she continues to inspire women to push the boundaries.” She’s right. Sheroes have been shaping the world since the beginning of time and thanks to these efforts they’re getting the credit and recognition they deserve.

Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence remarks on Shirley Chisholm: 

The event was co-hosted by the Democratic Women’s Working Group, Congresswomen Lois Frankel (FL-21), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9). The women gathered at the event spoke about Chisholm’s legacy and influence on policy priorities in Congress and pledged to continue her fight for civil rights, gender equality, lifting families out of poverty, and improving our democracy.

Rep. Steny Hoyer remarks on Shirley Chisholm: 

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” ― Shirley Chisholm

 

15th Annual Mohawk Valley Latino Association Gala

It’s that time again! The 15th Annual Mohawk Valley Latino Association Gala is happening this Saturday.  This year’s theme is Hispanics: One Endless Voice to Enhance our Traditions 

WHO: Mohawk Valley Latino Association 

WHAT: 15th Annual Gala

WHEN:  Saturday, November 17, 2018 from 5:30-11:00PM

WHERE: Yahnundasis Golf Club, 8639 Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford

WHY: To celebrate Hispanic Heritage and honor local community members

 

 

This year’s celebration will culminate the 2018 annual Hispanic Heritage month events for MVLA.  There will be live entertainment by award winning musical group Alex Torres & Orchestra. This event is truly special for the Association because it serves as a formal occasion for members of the Latino community to learn from each other, while welcoming other members of the community who are not Latino. The gala is always a great gathering and learning experience with networking opportunities for everyone. A special thanks goes to Dr. Martin Morell & Mrs. Zaida Morell, The Fitness Mill Carbone Athletics, and MIS Interpreting Services. Sponsors of this year’s event include Roser Communications Networks  (KISS FM 97.9, 99.1/101.1 BUG COUNTRY & WUTQ 100.7 FM), CNY Latino, YWCA Mohawk Valley, AmeriCU Credit Union, Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, MVP Health, Adirondack Bank, United Healthcare, Jose Perez, Esq., Bank of Utica, Price Chopper Supermarkets, and the Mohawk Valley Latino Association.

The Mohawk Valley Latino Association was established to improve the standards of living for Latino residents of the Mohawk Valley through various services that will educate and empower them to achieve their goals and to also raise awareness amongst the different cultures of the Mohawk Valley. The mission is to help shape the minds of our youth and demonstrate to them the great opportunities available within the Mohawk Valley and our nation. For more information, visit www.mvlautica.org or email us at  mvla@mvlautica.org, calls can be made to 315-864-8419. Ticket prices are $75.00 per person and are available at www.mvlautica.org or by calling 315-864-8419.

 

Google Doodle: Veterans Day 2018

#VeteransVoices

 

“Today in America we honor our veterans. We celebrate the boldness of your convictions, and for the future you made possible. We will never forget it was you who stepped forward when we needed you most. We are humbled by your service, and we are forever grateful for your courage. From Korea to Kandahar, Perryville to Pearl Harbor, D-Day to Desert Storm. To these sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. To these brave men and women. These heroes. We remember, and we say thank you.”

 

U.S. Resistance Returning Nazi Looted Art Resurrects Old Wounds

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

In a crowded media world the topic of Nazi looted art has taken comfort on the back burner of the national debate circuit. But things are changing and the push to return art plundered by the Nazis is gaining momentum and more of the world’s attention.

A ruling in July by U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC sided with Jewish heirs of the Welfenschatz art collection looted by Nazis in 1935. The ruling follows Germany’s attempts to dismiss the case claiming, among other things, immunity from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, (FSIA). Nonetheless, the district court rejected Germany’s arguments and denied their motion to dismiss the case.

And, hard to believe, Donald J. Trump played a small role in the push to bring justice to remaining Holocaust survivors. In the gloom of his support for American Nazis who marched in the Charlottesville rally, the president signed the Just Act into law in May of this year; about nine months after calling anti-Semitic, white separatists chanting “Jews will not replace us,” very fine people.The Just Act is another statute requiring the State Department to report on the progress of European efforts to return artworks stolen nearly 70 years ago.

Still, this question lingers: is the U.S. doing enough to return its own Nazi-looted art kept in high brow institutions like The Metropolitan Museum of Art? No, says Raymond J. Dowd, who serves on the Board of Governors of the National Arts Club and the Board of Directors of the Federal Bar Association. Sighting a 2014 report by the World’s Jewish Restitution Organization, (WJRO) Dowd says, “The United States is not in the group of countries that are doing the right thing.” He says despite established laws laying out the process and groundwork of returning art forcibly taken from Jews, even deeming the taking a form of genocide, only a small fraction of stolen art has been returned to its rightful owners.

Dowd, who lectures on legal and ethical matters related to Nazi art looting, represented the heirs of Fritz Grumbaum, a renowned art collector who died at the Dachau concentration camp in 1941.

“It’s still our public policy in the United States that this property should go back to the people from whom it was stolen. The Holocaust Victims Redress Act of 1998, Congress reaffirmed that.” So why did the U.S. end up with so much Nazi looted art in our museums? Dowd says, “We have to take a hard look at American museums and our cultural traditions to understand why.” He says it started with J.P. Morgan who, for tax purposes, refused to move his large European art collection to put in U.S. museums. Being one of the wealthiest men in America, Congress obliged and enacted the Payne-Aldrich Tarrif Act of 1909. “And that Act added imports of original artworks from Europe that were more than 20 years old to the duty free list. So, that paved the way for the creation of some of our greatest museums.” Dowd says even Andrew Mellon legally challenged his tax bill by pointing to the vast art collection he donated to the National Gallery as reason to reduce his tax obligation.

“Mr. Mellon’s victory is enshrined in today’s tax code that says you get a fair market value deduction for a work of art regardless of what you paid for it. The significance over most of the 20th century is that if you’re wealthy you could avoid capital gains tax by donating to a museum and thus shelter all of your income from taxation.”

Dowd says it’s an ethical and social choice being made to help rich Americans shelter their incomes in museums. And although it led to America acquiring extraordinary art collections, it’s an unjust system. “When we think about tax fairness, people who give to museums are not giving to others in our community; they’re not paying for schools or housing or roads and most of the things that other people in the middle class are paying for.”

The tax loophole may be legal but it becomes problematic when stolen art, which doesn’t get properly scrutinized, is donated. “Particularly when we see that today in America there are more museums than there are Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.” Despite early declarations of nations not taking part in stolen art transactions, Holocaust survivors and their heirs are still searching for their plundered art, many of which are hanging in American museums.

According to Art Law Gallery an estimated 300,000 Nazi looted artworks are still missing today.

 

The Mohawk Valley Is Coming Together To Honor The Queen Of Soul

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Rehearsal for the upcoming Aretha Franklin Tribute is in full swing as performers and show producers on an up-tempo beat, work to show their love and appreciation for the Queen of Soul. The show is being directed and produced by local community leader and director, Grady Faulkner. Adding sprinkles to this treat is Show Time, a popular local band, stepping up to the plate to help Faulkner put together a great show.

In addition to honoring one of the greatest singers the world has ever known, the show is also intended to support the College Community Connection, (C3) program at Mohawk Valley Community College, (MVCC). It’s a strategic partnership initiative aimed at helping struggling students reach their learning goals.

 

 

WHO: Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul

WHAT: A tribute

WHY: Honoring the life and accomplishments of one of the greatest soulful singers the world has ever known.

WHEN: November 5, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: MVCC in Utica, NY

Tickets are $20 for the general public and $15 for MVCC students and staff. Proceeds will support the C3 program. Tickets can be purchased at: www.mvcc.edu or by calling (315) 792-5400.