Fall 2003

Journalism and Black America: Then and Now

Black and white journalists, at times working as colleagues, at other times separately, have produced the first draft of our nation’s difficult history of race relations. In this issue of Nieman Reports, journalists examine reporting at the intersection of black and white America and look at the racial conditions, climate and conversations in newsrooms. – Melissa Ludtke, Editor

Journalism and Black America: Then and Now
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Reporting on the Civil Rights Movement
‘… the issue seemed so cut and dry and the injustices so stark that reporters struggled to remain objective….’
By Jack Nelson
Documenting the Orangeburg Massacre (7 comments)
Campus killings of black students received little news coverage in 1968, but a book about them keeps their memory alive.
By Jack Bass
The Work and Struggles of Black Reporters (1 comment)
Covering the Black Power revolution ‘was the only time that mainstream media put an important story entirely in the hands of black reporters.’
By Dori J. Maynard
The Black Press: Past and Present
‘Once considered an outdated protest medium, the black press today is appreciated as crucial to ethnic progress.’
By Larry Muhammad
A Racially Motivated Murder Leads to a Uniquely Reported Documentary (3 comments)
Whites interviewed whites. Blacks interviewed blacks. The stories came together.
By Whitney Dow and Marco Williams
Lacking a Worthy Story, a Columnist Retreats From Writing About Race
‘Race is a subject that needs lowered voices, or even some benign neglect.’
By Jack E. White
Reporting on the Minority Education Beat
At The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, attention is focused on how race affects education.
By Tim Simmons
Racial Reverberations in Newsrooms After Jayson Blair
‘The coverage of the scandal showed once again that African Americans are still not allowed to be seen as individuals when they fail.’
By Neil Henry
Contemplating the Relevancy of Age and Race
‘My youth and race have been assets to my journalism during my budding career.’
By Errin Haines
Newsroom Diversity: Truth vs. Fiction
Before and after the Times’s debacle, American newspapers are still ‘telling our readers an incomplete, inaccurate story.’
By Bryan Monroe
‘Coloring the News’ Collides With Journalists
‘… too many of those with heavy investments in the diversity crusade either read my arguments wrong or preferred not to review their investments.’
By William McGowan
Why Journalists Can’t Talk Across Race
‘What we found is a conversation fraught with frustration and mistrust.’
By Dori J. Maynard
Having Conversations Across Race in Newsrooms
We have not ‘found a safe place or way to discuss racial issues with each other.’
By Condace L. Pressley
Making Race a Part of Local TV News Coverage
A news producer describes KRON’s reporting on race and the way this led to changes in how people work in the newsroom.
By Craig Franklin
Mainstreaming and Diversity Are Gannett’s Core Values
But these programs ‘are not without controversy.’
By Tom Witosky
Reporting on Race: Building a New Definition of ‘News’ (1 comment)
A report on race reporting by civic journalists highlights some common approaches.
By Jan Schaffer
Asking Questions So a Community Thinks About Race
The Marshall News Messenger played a central role in creating a new dialogue.
By Phil Latham
Twelve Questions On Race
By Phil Latham
Words & Reflections
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Journalism’s ‘Normal Accidents’
By exploring theories about how organizations fail, a journalist understands better what is happening in newsrooms and why.
By William F. Woo
The Siegal Committee Report
Examining suggested changes through the lens of normal accident theory.
By William F. Woo
While the Watchdogs Slept
Five months went by before many in the press questioned the administration’s evidence for going to war.
By Gilbert Cranberg
Reflecting on a Different Era in Political Journalism
Scotty Reston ‘and his peers felt comfortable making those choices based on their sense of what was best for the nation.’
By Alex S. Jones
Reporting in Southern Africa
A prominent white journalist revisits his reporting during apartheid and reflects on the news media’s work today.
By Wilson Wanene
Curator’s Corner
Nieman Reports Revisits the Coverage of Black America
Journalists explore connections between the racial climate in newsrooms and news organizations’ coverage of race.
By Bob Giles
Journalist’s Trade: Weblogs and Journalism
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Weblogs and Journalism: Do They Connect?
‘… the vast majority of Weblogs do not provide original reporting— for me, the heart of all journalism.’
By Rebecca Blood
Is Blogging Journalism?
A blogger and journalist finds no easy answer, but he discovers connections.
By Paul Andrews
Weblogs: A Road Back to Basics
‘Weblogs will not save journalism as we know it. However, they might end up improving journalism as we know it.’
By Bill Mitchell
A Guide to Various Weblogs
Weblogs Threaten and Inform Traditional Journalism
Blogs ‘challenge conventional notions of who is a journalist and what journalism is.’
By Tom Regan
Blogs and Journalism Need Each Other
‘The transparency of blogging has contributed to news organizations becoming a bit more accessible and interactive ….’
By J.D. Lasica
Benefits Blogging Brings to News Outlets
What benefits do Weblogs bring to journalism? Several.
By J.D. Lasica
Weblogs Bring Journalists Into a Larger Community
‘… we need to drop grandiose claims of being aloof, objective observers and be more transparent about how we do our jobs.’
By Paul Grabowicz
Blogging Journalists Invite Outsiders’ Reporting In
‘To be interesting, the blog must have a discernible human voice: A blog with just links is a portal.’
By Sheila Lennon
Journalists: Want to blog?
By Sheila Lennon
Moving Toward Participatory Journalism (1 comment)
‘If contemporary American journalism is a lecture, what it is evolving into is something that incorporates a conversation and seminar.’
By Dan Gillmor
Weblogs and Journalism: Back to the Future?
A blogger predicts that Weblogs might push Big Media back to better news reporting.
By Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Blogging From Iraq
With a borrowed laptop, rented satellite phone and reader-generated budget, an independent reporter sends back stories from the war.
By Christopher Allbritton
Determining the Value of Blogs
‘Without, say, the imprimatur of The New York Times, a blogger has only his or her reputation to recommend the work ….’
By Eric Alterman
The Infectious Desire to Be Linked in the Blogosphere
‘Weblogs offer journalists tangible ways to achieve that Number One feeling.’
By Mark Glaser
Readers Glimpse an Editorial Board’s Thinking
Creating a Weblog offers ‘a way for us to demystify what we do and how we do it.’
By Keven Ann Willey
Excerpts From the DMN Daily Weblog
Excerpts from The Dallas Morning News Daily Weblog
A Reporter Is Fired for Writing a Weblog
He wonders whether there is ‘a place for Weblogs in the Fourth Estate firmament.’
By Steve Olafson
An Editor Acts to Limit a Staffer’s Weblog
‘This is not an issue of freedom of speech.’
By Brian Toolan
Blogging Connects a Columnist to New Story Ideas (1 comment)
‘… I have always suspected that many of my readers know more than I do.’
By Mike Wendland
Bloggers and Their First Amendment Protection
Web writing is a protected right, but more limits exist outside the United States.
By Jane E. Kirtley
A Weblog Sharpens Journalism Students’ Skills
‘Students—the writers and editors—publish a respectable, if not professional, product every day on the World Wide Web.’
By Larry Pryor
Nieman Notes
‘Sister in the Band of Brothers’
A reporter accompanies the 101st Airborne during the Iraq War and turns the experience into a book.
By Katherine M. Skiba
A Nieman Visit to Cuba (1 comment)
The fellows discovered risk-takers who ‘live with a wink, a fiction, and perhaps a few bribes.’
By David Dahl