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On The Media
By Ron Wynn
Everything Underground Editor
America's media was once dominated by print organizations, with only three broadcast TV networks in operation, and no such thing as an Internet in business. Those days are long gone. The 24/7 news cycle has spawned an array of blogs, websites, nonstop news stations and numerous other things that result in continuous media activity and constant coverage.
Our twice-weekly column "On The Media" explores how the current mass of corporate-controlled and alternative entities present, examine and explore issues connected with Blacks and other people of color. As someone who's worked for both print and broadcast outlets for nearly four decades and seen numerous changes, I've witnessed some positive events, but also many negative ones.
This column will cite things we notice as both a media professional and consumer of political, cultural, and sports news and information. It will reflect our personal opinions, not those of anyone else or of Everything Underground. We look forward to your reactions, responses, suggestions and comments as we peruse the world of 21st century media.
The hottest topic among news junkies concerns the possible reformatting of CNN, in particular their morning show. The network recently hired former NBC "Today" Show and later network head Jeff Zucker as their new President. Very shortly afterward, Zucker announced there would be personnel changes on a show featuring correspondent/anchor Soledad O'Brien. This show is titled "Starting Point."
Reportedly, Zucker plans to replace O'Brien, who has hosted a rotating panel of experts on various issues, with a white male/female team. That has not been officially confirmed, but Chris Cuomo has already been hired from ABC and there's plenty of talk that Erin O'Brien will be switched from prime time over to mornings. O'Brien, who's also hosted periodic "Black in America" specials the past two years, will stay on with the network in some other capacity.
Removing one of the few women of color in morning TV doesn't seem the greatest way to indicate that media diversity will remain a priority at CNN. Those fears were doubled when a Senior Vice President was supposedly quoted saying that both "Starting Point" and the other morning show "Early Start" were "too ethnic." That led to a burst of reaction from CNN's Black, Latino and Asian employees, and a quick clarification from a representative for the person identified supposedly making the quote, Senior Vice President Bart Feder.
The note, which ran in the media columns of both Richard Prince ("Journalisms") and Betsy Rothstein ("Fishbowl DC") claimed that Feder didn't make those statements. Instead it said what he said was the audience was too small and happened to be predominantly comprised of minorities. According to the note, it was audience size, not composition, that's the problem.
Considering that CNN remains the network which still hasn't ever had a show hosted by any Black in prime time (or any person of color), the furor generated by these comments and Zucker's presence doesn't make anyone feel better. There are still plenty of folks upset at the treatment last year of Roland Martin, who got a 30-day suspension for remarks that weren't particularly smart, but were also done on his time off the network and weren't even really part of any commentary (they were tweets about his dislike of an ad that some interpreted as "Anti-Gay.").
Martin, already unhappy about never getting a prime-time shot, had to twist in the wind for a few days after issuing an apology before getting his 30-day suspension. He's since returned, but never quite regained the stature he had prior to that happening. Don Lemon gets probably more air time than any other Black correspondent or anchor. He's also Gay, but whether that has any relevance probably depends on how people feel about CNN in general.
Rob Parker returns
The sometimes outrageous sports columnist Rob Parker has resurfaced. You can read his opinions every week on "The Shadow League," a sports website operated by former ESPN film producer Keith Clinkscales. Clinkscales, who also at one time was heavily involved with Vibe magazine, also hired Vince Thomas as editor-in-chief of "TheShadowLeague.com," which they see as a Black competitor to such cutting edge websites as "Deadspin" and "Yardbarker."
Parker spent eight years with ESPN and ESPN.com before running afoul of supervisors for statements alleging that Washington QB Robert Griffin III was a "cornball brother." Whether you buy Parker's commentary or not (and I didn't then or now), it seems odd that he got bounced for over-the-top statements made on ESPN 2's "First Take," a program whose entire reason for being is exaggeration, spectacle and manufactured outrage. Parker apparently didn't know when to turn off the act, and it got him canned, though management initially had said he was getting a 30-day suspension. They later opted not to renew his contract, freeing Parker to join "TheShadowLeague.com.")
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