White Noise: News from inside the media bubble

by the YES! Weekly Staff

Our industry in crisis

It’s old news that newspapers are among the most challenged industries when it comes to diversity. Newspapers in the Triad have long struggled to recruit and retain African-American reporters and editors to provide an accurate and contextualized read on a part of our community that, like white America, has been here since before the founding of our country. Forget about adequate newsroom representation of Latinos and Asians – communities that have grown between 2000 and 2006 in both Guilford and Forsyth counties, according to the latest Census figures. It’s safe to say that the two counties’ combined law enforcement agencies better represent the demographic spread of the region than does its news media. O. Richard Pimentel, editorial page editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says in a Nov. 29 Poynter online dispatch that he fears “that a “bad economy’ will supplant the old tried-and-true excuse for lack of diversity: We can’t find enough “qualified’ minorities.” It would be folly to give up on diversifying newsrooms, Pimentel suggests, when non-whites and non-blacks are the fastest growing segments of our population: “These growing communities can be our future or just more former or never-have-been readers. The key will be whether they view what we do as relevant. And it’s hard to imagine being relevant without covering what they’re interested in, in a fashion that shows we know what we’re writing about.”

– JG

Like anybody cares

Don Imus, the radio personality who once referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos,” has returned to the airwaves as of this week. “The program is not going to change,” he said on the air Monday morning. But now he’s got a black chick for a sidekick!

– BC

Smoke signals

The Winston-Salem Journal broke the news last week: RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company announced that it would cease its print advertising. That’s a blow to lifestyle magazines and alt-weeklies alike, which now have one less legal vice from which to extract income.

Reynolds has faced withering criticism for its Camel ads featuring cartoon characters, and for a recent series of Camel No. 9 spots aimed at women. But the company denied that the decision to pull advertising had anything to do with its critics.

Reynolds will devote more of its marketing to the internet, where targeting individuals prone to bad decision-making is closer to exact science.

– AK

Oh the irony

After Democratic presidential candidates earlier this year refused to debate on the right-leaning Fox News channel, it was actually quite hilarious to see the treatment the Republicans got on the “good” channel, CNN. During the much-vaunted YouTube debate last week, Republican candidates were asked about gays in the military during an open forum. The question was posed by retired Col. Keith Kerr of Santa Rosa, Calif. who is not only ex-Army, but also gay. And, it turns out, he has worked on a steering committee for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Both Kerr and CNN maintain that the question was not planted in the audience, but in a world where perception is reality it looks like an episode of either underhanded dealings or contributory negligence.

– BC