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Deggans PunditWatch 08: Another CNN Stop and an Award From Columbia University



The stars have aligned, and I'm coming back to CNN two weeks after a well-received appearance to Cnnlivefromlogotalk about the media, Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Reliablesourcesbanner2Once again, I'll be on Howie Kurtz's media show Reliable Sources at about 10:30 a.m., this time to talk about the role of Fox News Channel in a political world which may be dominated by Democrats. I'll be appearing with Time magazine's James Poniewozik to discuss a piece he wrote about this very issue in Time magazine. My own writing about Fox has been more sporadic; here's an old piece about the channel's coverage of the then month's old war in Iraq.

I also got some good news a few weeks ago, confirmed by a press release issued recently: My work has been honored once again by Columbia University's Let's Do It Better Awards, a program aimed at improving coverage of people of color by highlighting "best practices" examples of good work.

Ldbpanel The good folks at Columbia honored a selection of my columns over the last two years, including this, and this and this. As a result, I'll go to Columbia early next month and meet all the other honorees -- two years ago, I met CBS News legend Ed Bradley there not long before his death -- participating in a panel on race and election coverage moderated by Ray Suarez from PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

All the print stuff will be released in a book, while the TV stuff will be released in DVD, helping other journalists figure out how to negotiate these difficult stories.

Click here to see the release:

New York, NY (March 26, 2008) - The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism today announced the winners of the annual Let’s Do It Better! Workshop on Journalism, Race and Ethnicity. Sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the award singles out newspaper, broadcast and web reporting that fosters coherent, authentic coverage of race reporting.

“We seek to showcase stories that offer voice, context and complexity on a range of breaking news, beat and long-form documentary projects that go beyond the typical festival and superficial or stereotypical images that so often mark this genre of reporting,” said Arlene Morgan, associate dean and director of the workshop program.

The Denver Post, led by reporter Mike Riley, was named the 2008 Paul Tobenkin Award recipient for writing courageously about racial discrimination in “Lawless Lands,” a series that investigates how a dysfunctional federal justice system allows serious American Indian reservation crimes to go unpunished.

Riley will receive the citation—the school’s highest honor for race reporting—at the 10th annual Let’s Do It Better! Workshop in May. The award was established in 1959 in memory of the late Paul Tobenkin, a New York Herald Tribune reporter who held a strong commitment to writing about racial and religious discrimination.

Riley joins a list of seven lifetime achievement and 16 best practice news media honorees selected for their contributions to the understanding of the role race and ethnic cultures play in American life. The Let’s Do It Better! Workshop is designed for a cross-section of news managers, educators and students who are seeking to improve their performance on covering, editing and teaching about this important topic.

“This competition is unique because it converts award-winning coverage into case studies that illuminate the high level of commitment required to produce and sell pieces in a news industry that often does not value these types of stories,” said Morgan.

As part of the workshop, there will be a special forum: “The Presidential Election: What’s Race Got to Do with It?” Moderated by Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the panel will feature journalists who have covered the issues of race and gender that have emerged during the primaries.

To date, panelists include Shankar Vedantam of The Washington Post; Eric Deggans, TV critic of the St. Petersburg Times; and Jonathan Kaufman, who has been covering the primary elections for The Wall Street Journal, and Keith Woods, dean of The Poynter Institute for Journalism Education. The forum, which is free and open to the public, will be held on Thursday, May 1, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Journalism School’s Lecture Hall at 116th and Broadway.

Morgan announced that in addition to the Tobenkin Prize, seven journalists will receive Lifetime Achievement Awards to recognize “their consistent contributions and steadfast determination to the quest for diversity in telling America’s full story.”

The seven honorees are:
Mae Cheng, executive editor of AMNewYork, a former president of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and a demographics reporter and editor at Newsday.
Jeff Fager, executive producer, CBS 60 Minutes accepting on behalf of the broadcast news magazine that earned a record 10 awards over the workshop’s 10-year span.
Sig Gissler, founding director of the workshop, professor of journalism, and current administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes. 
Earl G. Graves, Sr., founder of Black Enterprise magazine, for his contributions to news media, black business development and his advocacy of higher education and equal opportunity.
Bob Herbert, New York Times columnist, for consistent and dynamic reporting and commentary on race and ethnic relations in the country, from national politics to the handling of the Jena Six.
Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, for his commitment to journalism that meets the highest standards of excellence and inclusiveness.
Walterene (Walt) Swanston, director of diversity management for National Public Radio (NPR). A member of the Let’s Do It Better! Workshop’s advisory board since its inception, Swanston has devoted more than two decades of leadership to diversifying the news media, including two tours as the founding director of UNITY: Journalists of Color convention.
In addition to these Lifetime Achievement awards, 16 “best practice” awards culled from more than 150 nation-wide nominations and entries will be presented.

CBS News, 60 Minutes for “The Justice Nobody Knows,” a revealing interview with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Correspondent: Steve Kroft and producers Michael Radutzky and Denise Schrier Cetta.

CBS News, 60 Minutes for “Roots,” a look into the commercial and problematic trend of using DNA to help African Americans identify their ethnic roots and family connections. Correspondent Leslie Stahl and producer Shari Finkelstein.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
CNN for “The Noose: An American Nightmare” for its exploration on the use and symbolism of the hanging noose that is still used to intimidate and persecute mainly African Americans. The story brings contextual understanding to the protests that were triggered by the appearance of “the noose” on the Jena, Louisiana high school campus.   Correspondent: Kyra Philips and Mark Nelson, vice president and senior executive producer for CNN Productions.

CNN for “Suffering in Silence,” an in-depth look at the cultural obstacles and lifestyle issues some Asian Americans face in seeking treatment for mental illness. Correspondent: Elizabeth Cohn and producer Jennifer Pifer.   

Paul Finebaum of Birmingham, Alabama, for providing a strong and sometimes controversial view on racial issues in sports through his multi-media contributions that include the “Paul Finebaum Radio Network,” his Web site, and a twice weekly sports column for the Mobile Register.

WFAA-TV, Dallas for “KinderPrison,” a 10-part series that investigated harsh living conditions and inadequate education facilities at a former prison turned federal detention center for immigrants facing deportation and asylum. Correspondent: Brett Shipp and producer Mark Smith.

Eric Deggans, media and TV critic at the St. Petersburg Times, for his critiques with special recognition for his coverage of the racial issues surrounding the presidential primaries.

The Daily Times of Farmington, New Mexico edited by Troy Turner, for a portfolio of work that spotlights diversity issues, including an on-going investigation into the questionable spending by Navajo reservation leaders on an education conference in Hawaii.

David Gonzalez of The New York Times for “House Afire,” a newspaper series and website about the growth of the Pentecostal Church in Hispanic America told through the Ark of Salvation for the New Millennium congregation and its pastor Danilo Florian.

Jonathan Kaufman, a senior reporter for The Wall Street Journal, for his portfolio of stories detailing the implications of how race and gender have impacted the presidential primary races.

The Miami Herald for “A Rising Voice: Afro-Latin Americans,” a series on what it means to be a black in Latin America. International editor John Yearwood led a team of reporters that included columnist Leonard Pitts.

Judy Pasternak of The Los Angeles Times for “The Blighted Homeland.”  Pasternak, winner of the 2007 John Oakes Prize in Environmental Reporting, was cited for her year-long investigation into the contamination of a Navajo reservation in Utah through waste left behind in uranium mines.

The Philadelphia Inquirer for “Too Tough: Tactics in Suburban Policing,” a series that documented how nuisance laws result in a disproportionate number of arrests of African America, mostly by all-white police forces in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Led by reporter Mark Fazlollah, the team includes Melissa Dribben, Keith Herbert and Dylan Purcell.

The staff of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, for “Can We Save Our Neighborhoods?”  The newspaper is recognized for its examination of a nationwide urban problem—the collapse of a once-proud city neighborhood, Mount Pleasant, and the valiant attempts of those left behind to rebuild it. Staff citations include team leader Bob Paynter; reporters Margaret Bernstein, Stan Donaldson, Sam Fulwood III, Sandra Livingston, April McClellan-Copeland, Diane Suchetka; columnist Regina Brett; and photographers Chris Stephens, Bill Gugliotta and Jeff Greene.

The Sun-Sentinel staff of Fort Lauderdale for its series and Web site, “The New South Florida,” a portrait of the changes that immigration and sustained growth have brought to the Florida community.

Shirley Schofield, deputy metro editor and Greg Lewis, race demographics reporter, lead the team effort.

William C. Rhoden, sports columnist for The New York Times, for a portfolio of work that deals with issues of race and gender in the sports world.

The Workshop has produced a textbook, DVD, and Web site, The Authentic Voice: The Best Reporting on Race an Ethnicity (Columbia University Press, July 2006) offering 15 newspaper and broadcast stories, teaching lessons, a resource and study guide and Website links. Arlene Morgan served as one of the co-editors of the project with Keith Woods, dean of The Poynter Institute, and Alice Pifer, the director of the Journalism School’s continuing education program and former ABC producer.
The Let’s Do It Better! Award is one of a number of leading journalism awards administered by the Graduate School of Journalism. Others include the Pulitzer Prizes, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes for reporting on the Americas, and the National Magazine Awards.

About the Graduate School of Journalism
For almost a century, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has been preparing journalists in a program that stresses academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice.  Founded by Joseph Pulitzer in 1912, the school offers master of science, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy degrees as well as dual degree programs in environmental, religion and international reporting. For more information, visit

About Columbia University
Founded in 1754 as King's College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and today is one of the world's leading academic and research institutions.  For more information about Columbia University, visit

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:45pm]


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