Sunday, November 29, 2009

Enjoy Thanksgiving? Remember a Journalist

A journalist is partly responsible for Thanksgiving.

Today’s version of the holiday was created by crusading journalist and pioneer newswoman, poet, novelist and abolitionist Sarah Josepha Hale (right). The holiday resulted from decades of relentless promotion by Hale, editor of American Ladies’ Magazine (1828-1836) and Godey’s Lady’s Book (1837-1877).

She promoted it in columns and stories in her periodicals and appealed directly to U.S. Presidents Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln until Lincoln finally recognized it as a national holiday.

Hale was a New England widow who raised five children by writing and editing. The author of the poem “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” Hale edited such magazine contributors as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Washington Irving. She worked as a journalist until her retirement at the age of 89.

Black Panther artist visits campus Wednesday

Graphic artist Emory Douglas, a member of the original Black Panther Party, is scheduled to discuss how art can raise awareness about poverty and other world challenges when he visits WIU- Macomb in a 7 p.m. appearance in the Union Sandburg Theater on Wednesday.

Douglas’s art established the visual identity of the party in posters, and in the graphic designs, cartoons, and illustrations he produced for the Black Panther newspaper. In an interview with Dossier magazine last year, Douglas told Mitchell S. Jackson that writing itself was more of a struggle than art.

“I was never really a writer,” Douglas said. “I learned how to write while I was in the Party. There were things that I wrote myself that the editors worked on with me. It was always a collaborative thing. I was inspired by people like Eldridge Cleaver, by Huey Newton’s writing. And then there was Amical Cabral, the African brother, who said you have to be able to speak in a way that even a child can understand. That always stuck with me in my art – to draw in a way that even a child could see.”

Douglas continues to produce posters about issues such as children’s health and advancing efforts to address global AIDs.

Here’s a link to a video interview with Douglas:

Cook County prosecutor targeting J students

Groups ranging from the Student Press Law Center to the American Society of News Editors are objecting to a Cook County State's Attorney’s probe into Northwestern University Journalism students and professor David Protess for their part in investigating suspicious cases –- and 11 times freeing people wrongfully convicted.

New State's Attorney Anita Alvarez is looking in to the Medill Innocence Project, founded in 1999 by Protess, because the latest inmate the group thinks is innocent, Anthony McKinney, is having his case re-examined by the prosecutor's office -- including the process that the Journalism students were convinced of McKinney's innocence.

"The State's Attorney's office is trying to save itself from the embarrassment of students finding another innocent man in prison," former Protess J student Evan Benn.

Joe Barrett in the Wall Street Journal wrote a nice roundup/update of the controversial situation. Check it out at --

New report more in-depth, upbeat

Michael Schudson, a professor at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, said he was struck by "the really stunning enthusiasm and excitement of people engaged in many of these [Journalism] startups, who were just bubbling over with what they were doing."

Schudson co-authored the new paper "The Reconstruction of American Journalism" with Leonard Downie Jr., the Washington Post's former executive editor, who’s now a Journalism professor at Arizona State University.

Conceding changes in Journalism, their report includes all news media.

“The picture isn't much brighter in local television,” comments Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post. “KDNL in St. Louis and WYOU in Scranton, Pa., have dropped their newscasts altogether. At about 200 stations around the country, the local news is produced by other stations.

“Commercial radio stations, except for a handful of big-city outlets, do little or no local reporting,” Kurtz added. “At the same time, ‘only a relatively small number’ of public radio stations offer much on-the-ground reporting.”

The report notes, "The days of a kind of news media paternalism or patronage that produced journalism in the public interest, whether or not it contributed to the bottom line, are largely gone. American society must now take some collective responsibility for supporting independent news reporting in this new environment -- as society has, at much greater expense, for public needs like education, health care, scientific advancement and cultural preservation -- through varying combinations of philanthropy, subsidy and government policy."

Meanwhile, within weeks of its release third-quarter corporate reports came out, the newspaper chains Gannett (USA Today) showed a $73.8 million profit and McClatchy (Kansas City Star, Belleville Nws Democrat) showed a $23.6 million profit.

The study will appear in a forthcoming issue of Columbia Journalism Review and is online as a pdf file here --

Audiences remain for newspapers

Print editions of newspapers reach more readers than web sites, according to the new Newspaper Research Journal.

"Just when we thought we were over our newspapers and turning our faces into the brisk wind of New Media to blog, learn HTML, Tweet or do whatever else is necessary to stay relevant and employed, say what?" writes Samantha Bennett of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Online editions of newspapers reach just 15% of local Internet users, the journal shows.

Meanwhile, 171 million American adults read a newspaper -- print or online -- at least once a week, according to Scarborough Research's Integrated Newspaper Audience study.

Pie-in-the-face comic legend was trained journalist

Slapstick comedian Milton Supman -- "Soupy Sales" -- died on October 22, leaving behind him generations of fans who enjoyed some 20,000 pies he said were thrown during his various TV shows in the 1950s and '60s...

... and a start that included a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Marshall College in West Virginia in 1949.

Talk about Journalism's wide-ranging educational background providing a foundation for many careers!