New York — Elected leaders from throughout Africa in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly are hoping to make the case that, while Ebola is a problem in West Africa, most of the continent is unaffected.
Thousands of people in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have died from the deadly virus since the outbreak was first reported in February. A small number of people travelling from those countries have been diagnosed with Ebola in Senegal, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
At a meeting ahead of the General Assembly, members of the Global Alliance of Mayors and Leaders of Africa and of African Descent expressed frustration that many people believe Ebola is a problem on the entire African continent.
“Please, it is not true,” said Alfred Vanderpuije, mayor of Accra, Ghana and the president of the alliance.
“Africa is a continent and so if Ebola is in three countries, which is Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, it does not represent the entire Africa.”
Alliance members are concerned that the news media often don’t differentiate the affected countries from all of Africa.
Google “Ebola, Africa” and your likely to see headlines like this from the Guardian, “Ebola epidemic, experimental drugs to be rushed to Africa,” or this from CNN: “Blair: 3 ways to help Africa beat Ebola.”
Some news organizations headline Ebola in “West Africa,” which Vanderpuije said is more accurate but still gives the impression that the virus is more widespread than it really is.
“There is a bigger world than you see on television and the bigger world is that Ebola and its effects is only a minority, a small effect of what is happening in Africa,” said Vanderpuije.
News of the outbreak has affected tourism and was also on the minds of the mayors at the meeting in New York, which was part of a planning session for a global summit of mayors from 80 countries being held in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire in December.
In late August the United States World Cup Basketball Team cancelled an exhibition game in Senegal after a student from Guinea was diagnosed with Ebola in Dakar. The student has since recovered.
The next planning meeting of the alliance is scheduled for mid-November in Accra, Ghana, prompting several of the mayors to note that their respective governments would not allow them to attend unless they received assurances that they would not face health risks in Ghana.
The United Nations Security Council last week held an emergency meeting on Ebola, only the second time the body has met on a health matter. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for $1B in aid to help end the crisis, a move Vanderpuije praises.
“We are concerned, yes, about the existence of the Ebola disease, but it is under control. With the world commitment to the issues of Ebola, I know that we are going to have a cure. That (Ebola) should not deter people from coming to Africa.”
Vanderpuije hopes the media continues to focus on the Ebola crisis but he’s calling for more education on where people should and should not go and what they should and should not do to avoid catching the virus
The deadline to sign up for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is March 31 but it is likely several million Californians will still have no health coverage on April 1, according to a report by the Californian Healthcare Foundation and experts who spoke at a regional conference of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in San Francisco.
The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, or Obamacare was signed into law four years ago. The goal is to make affordable healthcare available to the 48-million Americans without coverage.
“There are seven or eight million uninsured Californians,” said Marian Mulkey, director of Health Reform and Public Programs Initiatives for the California Healthcare Foundation.
“Even if everything goes well several million Californians will still be without health insurance.”
In California, Latinos represent 41% of the general population, but account for 57% of the uninsured population, according to the healthcare foundation. African Americans make up 6% of the population and 5% of the uninsured. There are several reasons why.
The problems with the website created for the ACA rollout in Washington were also felt in California. In addition, once the website problems were fixed many people would not use it.
“Our research shows 28% would rather use family and friends and 23% would rather call,” according to Erica Pham, counsel for Government Relations with Kaiser Permanente.
“It’s not easy for them. They may not have held health insurance before. They don’t understand premiums, subsidies, etc.”
The deadline to sign up is March 31 but those who have started the process by then will still be able to get coverage the same way that people who are in line when a polling place closes during an election are allowed to vote.
Mulkey says that only makes sense because signing up can be very complicated.
“The average person when they walk in they don’t know what they are eligible for. The whole point of the law was that there was something for everyone… unless you were undocumented… and that’s another issue.”
In the Latino community there are problems of language barriers, the technology gap and the reality of living without immigration documents.
“Mixed status families are reluctant to sign up at all if someone in the family is undocumented,” said Angie Blanchette,” regional manager for outreach and media activities in the Bay Area for Covered California.
Significant resources have been dedicated to education and enrollment campaigns in the Latino community. These include holding numerous public events; some featuring United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta.
Blanchette says that effort seems to be working because Latino enrollment has risen threefold in the past three months.
Enrollment in the African American community could be better but the panelists agree initial education efforts missed the mark. Blanchette said she was disheartened by the enrollment numbers in the Black community and there are now plans to engage churches to increase those numbers but she admits time is running out.
She said enrollment in the Asian community is quite high because there is a tendency to sign up through insurance agents.
The fits and starts of the initial rollout of the Affordable Care Act taught some basic lessons that all agree will make next year’s campaign much more effective.
It is likely the website will work better, the call centers will be staffed with more experienced counselors and the campaign will be able to fine-tune its messaging.
“If you want to reach Black people, the message you are trying to distribute has got to be Black,” said Olis Simmons, president and founder of Youth Uprising, a non-profit organization in Oakland that is training teenagers and young adults to overcome obstacles so they can thrive as successful members of society.
One thing that has not been widely discussed is that Californians who miss the deadline can still get coverage by signing up for Medi-Cal.
“In addition to having its own Marketplace Exchange, California took part in the Medicaid expansion,” said Mulkey of the Healthcare Foundation.
“Medi-Cal has been widened to include more people. So far two million people are newly enrolled and there is an ongoing opportunity to enroll without deadlines. There is an expansive program for benefits at low cost to Dreamers,” or those who came to the United States without documents while they were still children.
Bob Butler is an independent journalist whose radio reports can be heard on KCBS. San Francisco. He is a member of the National Association f Hispanic Journalists and President of the National Association of Black journalists.
FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler today came out against further consolidation in the broadcast industry and made it clear he would like to cut back on the so-called “shared services” agreements or “SSA’s”. SSA’s allow a station owned by one company to provide news for a competing company in the same market. (http://www.fcc.gov/blog/protecting-television-consumers-protecting-competition)
In his statement Chairman Wheeler said, “…motivated by evidence that our rules protecting competition, diversity and localism have been circumvented, we will consider some changes to other Commission Rules to enforce existing rules.”
I could not agree more. This will no doubt be applauded by those journalists who were laid off when their newsroom shut down so the news could be provided by the competition. I know at least a half-dozen people this happened to. Sometimes they get hired by the new station, sometimes they must move for a new opportunity and sometimes they remain unemployed for a length of time. There are many more people who have been affected but they won’t talk about it publicly because they could get in trouble, especially if they currently work in the industry.
When there are fewer newsrooms, jobs are cut, normally leaving fewer opportunities for all journalists to find work. Viewers for the different stations get the same news delivered by the same people, limiting the opportunity to hear different viewpoints. For those who work in these newly “shared” newsrooms, there is more work and less time for in-depth or investigative reporting.
There are also fewer management jobs, leading to less diversity among those who make decisions on news coverage and hiring.
Research has shown that the demographics of newsroom management trails way behind that of the country. The National Association of Black Journalists Association 2012 Television Newsroom Management Diversity census found that, while people of color represented approximately 35% of the nation’s population, that figure for television station newsroom managers was 12%.
The FCC has not stopped the practice of Shared Services Agreements because there may be limited cases where these agreements make sense. But, given the number of journalists who have been displaced by them, I’m glad to see the FCC take a closer look at how the SSA’s are being used.
Henderson won a Pulitzer-prize for the Wall Street Journal in 1999 and currently hosted “Your Voice with Angelo Henderson,” a popular news talk show on Radio One in Detroit.
I first met Angelo when he was running for president in 2009. He said it was a logical extension of his service to NABJ. He had served two terms on the NABJ executive board and two terms as the president of the Detroit chapter of NABJ.
The news of Henderson’s passing hit all members hard, particularly NABJ presidents.
“Angelo was one of the most influential members in this organization, said Sidmel Estes, who served as president from 1991-1993, Henderson’s second term on the executive board as parliamentarian.
“His buoyant style in terms of his personal demeanor, as well as his love for NABJ is unmatched. This is just devastating to me.”
Henderson was a stalwart for NABJ. He had a passion for journalism, the ministry and issues affecting African Americans.
Our hearts go out to Felecia, Grant, the Detroit NABJ family and the many people who were touched by Angelo and grew to love him over the years.
We will keep members updated when new information becomes available.
Johannesburg, South Africa
December 11, 2013
In late August my wife and I scheduled a trip to see her cousin in Windhoek, Namibia. When Nelson Mandela’s health took a turn for the worse a few weeks ago I mentioned to my mentor, Belva Davis, that I might try to cover the story if he died while I was in Southern Africa.
Lois and I flew to Frankfurt on the fourth of December and arrived in Johannesburg on the morning of the sixth. I learned of Mandela’s passing during our layover and did some interviews and filed a report with CBS Radio and KCBS. The network was especially pleased because it had no one in the region.
Before boarding our flight to Windhoek I talked with the network about the possibility of covering the memorial service. The bottom line was, while it wouldn’t pay my travel expenses, it would put me to work if I happened to be in town.
It was an expensive, but easy, decision. I flew back to Johannesburg on Monday and made my way to FNB Stadium Tuesday morning in the steady rain. There were concerns that the weather would prevent people from coming out. That was partially true. More on that later.
With 90 world leaders in attendance I was surprised that there was not more security. There WAS a large police presence but I walked into the stadium without going through any kind of screening.
The first person I met was Sean Pardo. “I think it’s such a great honor to pay our respects and last homage to a great, pious, graceful, gracious and harmonious leader like the father of our nation, Tata Madiba” he said.
He was like many dressed in Mandela t-shirts, carrying the national flag or dressed in color of the African National Congress. Some groups marched into the stadium singing freedom songs. I was inspired. The atmosphere reminded me of Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.
I spent the day interviewing members of the crowd and reporting their comments live for a number of radio stations in the U.S and Canada. I only caught pieces of the speeches but two things from the public announcements stayed with me: one was the huge cheer that went up when the arrival of former South Africa President F. W. deKlerk — who ordered Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 — was announced; the other was the tremendous ovation U.S. President Barack Obama received.
The speeches were long but the rain-soaked crowd didn’t seem to care. The upper decks were full because the lip of the 90,000-seat stadium protected people from the rain. The bottom decks were a sea of umbrellas but the rain was actually a good omen.
“In lots of African cultures and customs rain (at a memorial service) is a symbol that this person was really special,” said Melissa Chavila, who was born in Mali, now lives in South Africa and works as a business researcher and writer.
“I’ve never seen so much rain in one day in the middle of summer and that, to me, is very symbolic of how significant Madiba was.”
Mandela was indeed significant. It is why so many world leaders came to pay their final respects. Eight of them spoke, including Obama who talked about how he was influenced by Mandela.
“Over thirty years ago, while still a student, I learned of Mandela and the struggles in this land,” the President told the crowd.
“ It stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities – to others, and to myself – and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better.”
Chavila said Mandela’s ability to unite, to forgive and his desire for reconciliation will benefit all of Africa and the world.
“That is a very important message especially in this day and what we’ve been going through in this global community,” she said.
I have covered news all over the world but it was a big deal to leave my wife on vacation in Namibia and fly to South Africa to cover this historic event.
As a member of the National Association of Black Journalists – and now as its President — I have worked tirelessly for jobs, promotions and opportunities for NABJ members. We have often criticized our companies for assigning “us” to cover “Black” stories. Often we don’t get a chance to cover the high-profile beats (see White House press pool) or high-profile stories.
But this is one time I can’t complain too much because of all the NABJ members I greeted at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
It was great seeing Byron Pitts from ABC, Bill Whitaker from CBS, NBC’s Lester Holt, NPR producer Jonathan Blakely, Al Jazeera America’s Karl Bostic and James Blue from Arise TV.
CBS’ Alphonso Van Marsh was at the Mandela home in Soweto as was CNN’s Errol Barnett, a young man who was very impressive. I was hoping to meet him at the stadium but CNN sent in the big guns, Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour.
This is one of those stories that leave you exhausted but exhilarated. I’m glad I came.
Each year, hundreds of young people attend their first National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair.
Many are looking for jobs or internships and this is, by far, the best place to find both. But, in my twenty+ years as a mentor for young people, I’ve seen them make mistakes that can cost them opportunities. This has prompted me to share some things that others (Louise Ritchie) have shared before. Tips 1-9 apply to all students and young journalists. #10 is specific to those interested in working in print or online media. Because the industry has changed, you should be comfortable working in all platforms. You may find yourself writing for the newspaper, taking photos and video and posting to the web. There are tips for aspiring broadcasters but they, too, should be able to work in digital media.
RESUMES should be one-page. They should include relevant journalism or communications experience and links to your social media pages or resume reel (you’ll see why in a few). Make sure your name and contact information is in bold at the top of the page.
Cover Letters should also be one page and should quickly tell the reader who you are, what you have accomplished and what you want to do. Since this is a career fair, your cover letter can be general. But, if you are applying for a specific job, your cover letter should explain why you are uniquely qualified for that position.
RESEARCH You can find the list of companies that are recruiting here. Take a few minutes and check these companies’ corporate “career” pages. It helps to know what jobs these companies are trying to fill.
1. Have a positive attitude. You never know if the person to whom you’re complaining about the lousy food is not only the NABJ member who spent hours of free time helping to plan the convention, but also is a recruiter on the lookout for an entry-level hire or intern.
2. Be gregarious. Some good conversation openers include saying things such as, “Have you been to other NABJ conventions?” (A good follow-up to a “yes” could be to ask the person’s advice about how you can get the most out of this one.)
3. APPEARANCE/BEHAVIOR: The type of attention you attract is based on your professional look. Remember that even parties at conventions are professional situations. Have fun, but have fun without telling the intimate secrets of your life or without becoming an intimate secret in someone else’s life! Especially on Saturday night!
MEN: NO SAGGING. T-shirts celebrating booze, sex or drugs, the “n” word, etc., definitely will attract attention but not the kind that will lead to a job or internship. Leave that attire at home. Don’t even wear it to convention parties.
WOMEN: Deep cleavage, mini and micro skirts, T-shirts celebrating booze, sex or drugs etc., definitely will attract attention, but not the kind that will lead to a job or internship. Leave that attire at home. Don’t even wear it to convention parties.
4. Talk to everyone. This includes talking to attendees who may be several decades older than you. Instead of clustering with your classmates at meals, make a point of sitting with people whom you don’t know. Your schoolmates can’t hire you or give you an internship. When you select a seat, walk around the table, shake everyone’s hand and introduce yourself to them.
5. Know that many people — including veteran journalists — are shy (It’s amazing how many journalists are tigers when they’re pursuing stories, but in their personal lives they are quiet and shy!) so are very happy when you take time to reach out to them. Some people who especially may be appreciative are families of attendees and recruiters who are not black and who may not have had previous experience attending a gathering in which they are the racial minority. You also can get some valuable tips and information from such people, including members’ families, who often have lots of inside knowledge about the field and may even have journalism experience, too.
6. Attend the workshops and, when you go, sit up front and be prepared to ask questions. When you ask questions, stand up and say your name and your school or affiliation. Students have been known to get job offers and internship offers by asking thoughtful questions at workshops.
7. Seek out opportunities to get feedback. Ask recruiters and veterans to critique your work. When they do so, don’t argue with them. If you don’t agree with their assessment, then you don’t have to follow their advice. But if you start arguing with them, you will get a reputation as a person who is not interested in learning and that can prevent your obtaining a job or internship. People who are hired as entry-level employees and interns are expected to grow and learn as part of the job. For that reason, many employers will choose a student who is eager to learn over a more experienced student who is a know-it-all.
8. In interviews, make sure that you highlight the excellent things you’ve done in journalism. Explain how you got the reluctant source to talk. Describe how you did a tough story on a tight deadline while you were also editing copy. Don’t wait for the interviewer to directly ask you about these things. The recruiter cannot read your mind. In addition, an interview is not a modesty test. You easily can highlight your strengths by, when you are showing your clips, also telling the story behind your clips. “When my editor assigned me this story, he said that he chose me because I handled deadlines better than the other interns. I got the story at 7 and by 9, my editor had it on his/her desk.”
9. Be prepared for a current events quiz. With news available on your cell phone there is no excuse for not knowing the news of the day.
10. Prepare packets of your resume, cover letter and clips. Put them in separate envelopes to give to recruiters. That way, when the recruiter packs the stacks of resumes and clips s/he has received and piles them into a suitcase, yours won’t become wrinkled. Never give away your last package. Create a file that includes your resume, cover letter and clips and email it to yourself each morning. You can show the recruiter your clips, then email them the file at the end of the interview. (This is a great way to get contact information for potential mentors and hiring managers.)
NOW THE DON’TS
1. DON’T huddle with your classmates like a sheep. Among the no-nos are sitting only with other students or your friends from school or waiting for your roommate to get up in the morning so that you can go to the convention together. Don’t let them make you late. Your classmates may be your BFF’s but they can’t hire you or give you an internship.
2. DON’T get up and leave if you realize that you’ve sat at a table with veterans or recruiters. Often such people are very happy to meet aspiring young journalists and are really insulted if you jump up and abandon them. This particularly may be true with recruiters who literally are there to connect with potential hires such as you. You’ll be embarrassed if that same person you didn’t want to sit with is the one at the career fair interviewing for the job you want.
3. DON’T be on the prowl for a date.
4. DON’T sit in the back of the room at workshops. The days of back of the bus are long over.
5. DON’T go on the prowl for free drinks and free meals. Well… I’ll amend this to say don’t go on the prowl by yourself. I have not met a journalist yet who will turn down a free drink or food when not working. :-)
6. DON’T spend your time telling recruiters what you DON’T want to do. The phrase “I don’t want to…” will turn recruiters off. Spend your time telling and showing recruiters what you can do for them.
7. DON’T tell a recruiter that you have no clips/reel because the people in your student media were mean or cliquish. Recruiters know that if you couldn’t make it at your campus media, you definitely aren’t ready for the outside world. While the recruiter may nod his or her head sympathetically, that person is mentally crossing you off their list of good candidates.
8. DON’T decide that the job fair is a waste of time because recruiters say they have no open jobs now or they have no internships available for this summer. Typically, summers are when there is turnover on jobs, so recruiters are now taking applications for openings that are expected later. If you blow off the interview or stop interviewing, what can happen is that when the jobs open up, your name isn’t in the pool. Even if you’re looking for an internship this fall, it can be important to interview because most internships may already be filled, but often there are last-minute openings, and the students whom the recruiters know are available are the ones contacted.
9. DON’T run around loudly telling your friends and associates how “mean” certain recruiters were. This is a small business. The new friend whom you’re sharing this information with may end up being the recruiter’s spouse or best friend.
10. Don’t use an email address that is inappropriate. Sexygirl90@aol.com or bigboy24@yahoo may have been cute in high school but they are not professional.
11. Clean up your social media pages. Potential employers check those… closely. When someone asks me to mentor them, the first thing I do is Google them and see what’s on their FB page. If your page is dedicated to partying or getting blasted, I won’t be calling.
–Louise Ritchie/Bob Butler
AND NOW FOR ASPIRING BROADCASTERS:
— Bring PLENTY of resumes and business cards. Make sure your resume is ONE PAGE and includes links to your social media pages and your resume reel. The employer doesn’t need to know all the details of every job you’ve had. If it’s not related to journalism just put down what it was. Example: Taco Bell, June 2002 to September 2003. Oh, and make sure your name is in LARGE TYPE AND BOLD FACE. When I’m trying to find your resume, I may not look too hard. So make it easy for me to find you.
– Reporter Resume Reel: Your first job will 95% be as a “one man band” reporter. You will be shooting and editing your own packages. Start your resume reel with two stand-ups and two walk-and-talks then go directly to your first package, preferably from something on your montage. Shoot your stand-ups yourself, if at all possible. When I see a standup where the camera is zooming and/or panning, it tells me you did not shoot that yourself. I want to see what I can expect if I send you out to do a story. Also, put your slate at the end and drop the bells and whistles. If I’m interested in you, I don’t want to wait through a heavily produced slate to see or hear you.
–PRODUCERS: Your reel should be the first three blocks of your show, including the open, teases and transitions. Telescope the spot breaks (if you have them) or live shots.
–REPORTERS/PRODUCERS: Load your reel on Youtube’s “unlisted” channel. Type the url on your resume and bring 50 copies to the convention. Email that document to yourself each morning so it stays near the top of the email on your phone.
–REPORTERS/PRODUCERS: I have often told people to make DVD’s of your reel to hand out to hiring managers. But most managers I know would rather view your reel online. So I now encourage you to bring a couple of dvd’s or put your reel on a flash drive for viewing. You can also show the recruiter your reel from your laptop. Read on for a much better option.
–SMART PHONES: Before you head out to the career fair, email your resume and link to yourself. Save the document on your phone if you can. Ask for the recruiter’s email address and forward it to them on the spot. This is a good way to get contact information for potential mentors and/or hiring managers.
– REPORTERS: Be realistic when lining up at the network (ABC, CBS, ESPN, etc) booths. Their recruiters can offer great advice but their stations are generally located in top 50 markets where they won’t consider hiring you until you have at least 5 years paid experience. Consider companies that have stations located in DMA 100-210. For example Lin Media has 50 stations, 7 of them are located in markets 109 – 189, where you can be hired right out of college. Also Raycom Media operates 53 television stations in 36 markets and 18 states. More than a dozen are located in DMA 100+. Both companies, as well as Time Warner Cable will be recruiting in the career fair.
–Collect business cards. After each encounter take minute and write some notes on the back of the card. Example: “Tall brother with a blue suit, and red tie” or “lady with really pretty earrings. She said they had an opening in Fort Wayne” or “He liked my tape but said I need to slow my delivery.” When you get home (or see ‘Smart Phone’) send an email thanking them for talking to you, maybe comment on the tie or the earrings. And attach your resume. They’ll probably see a hundred people. It’s not uncommon for resumes to be misplaced. You’re ahead of the game because the link to your work is already there.
–Don’t rule out working as a producer. One news director told me, “I can shake a tree and 12 reporters and anchors will fall out. But a good producer is hard to find.” These jobs lead you into newsroom management, where the real power and control lie. And don’t be surprised if, while you’re waiting in line at the network booth, producer candidates go to the front. There is a critical shortage of people of color who want to be producers.
This has got to stop.
When I heard about the shooting at the school in Connecticut it hit me like a punch in the solar plexus. It brought me back to one of the few times this job as a journalist brought me to tears.
It was January 17, 1989. A man named Patrick Purdy had opened fire with an assault rifle on children at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California.
After shooting more than 100 rounds, five students lay dead, another 29 students and a teacher were wounded and Purdy shot himself in the head.
I was working on the editor’s desk at KCBS that day. We sent reporter Diane Kalas to the scene and she went on the air to describe children at recess having to run for their lives as Purdy sprayed gunfire at them.
She had a sound bite of an eight-year old student saying her best friend was shot down as they ran for safety.
At the time my son was 8-years-old. I was talking to Diane after her live shot and she explained the little girl has said she could hear her friend saying, “ouch, ouch,” before she went quiet. She decided not to use that sound in her report because it was so graphic.
I began to think about my own son and, at that point I lost it. I couldn’t bear the thought of my son being the victim of such violence.
As journalists we all have to ignore these tragedies in order to cover them. But there is no way to ignore senseless violence when it targets innocent children.
You can’t blame today’s shooting on guns, the NRA, the Democrats or the Republicans. They didn’t do this.
The real tragedy is that this will probably not be the last time this happens. And we’ll shake our heads and cover the story.
This has got to stop.