A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Diversity IN-BRIEF

By Quill

Peace activists protest Post coverage

A group of activists protested outside The Washington Post offices, claiming that major corporate-owned news media in the United States are indifferent to dissent against President George W. Bush and his push for war with Iraq. The group, Black Voices for Peace (BVP), also claimed that media were especially hostile toward Black opponents.

“There is clearly a political process under way in these newsrooms to mischaracterize what’s happening with this antiwar movement in order to support the Bush administration’s drive toward war,” said Damu Smith, co-founder of BVP. Smith said the group would continue its efforts to hold such news outlets, such as The Post, The New York Times, and major television networks, accountable for their actions.

Executives at The Post, which owns Newsweek magazine and multiple television stations, say they have taken note of the protest. According to Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning former executive editor and current vice president-at-large Ben Bradlee talked with demonstrators standing on the picket line.

Tom Joyner to launch new company

The most popular urban radio host in America, Tom Joyner, has partnered with AMFM Radio Networks executive David Kantor to form Reach Media. The new company will syndicate programming targeted to African-Americans.

ABC Radio Networks will also partner with the new company and has an ownership stake of more than 10 percent. Joyner’s morning talk show is syndicated to more than 100 radio stations via ABC.

Kantor, who will act as CEO of the multimedia company, is formerly a president of ABC Radio Networks and works now as Joyner’s agent. Plans are under way for programming development in radio, movies, TV and the Internet via Joyner’s Black America Web project. Affiliate relations will be given to Reach Media for Joyner’s morning show, although ABC will still control national sales.

Diversity is urged in media ownership

A major ad agency has decided it will urge federal regulations to grow more diversity in media ownership. The wave of consolidation, MediaCom says, has “induced blandness” in the networks.

MediaCom, ninth-largest advertising agency in the world and a unit of Grey Global Group Inc., submitted 40 pages of comments to the Federal Communications Commission. The comments went on to say that increased media concentration will increase advertising costs and throttle the possibility of innovation programming.

The company’s remarks were seconded by Sony Pictures Television, the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild of America and other entertainment organizations. The groups call themselves the Coalition for Program Diversity and are attempting to stop television networks and large TV station groups from furthering their holdings in the media.

Media giants to form new black TV network

A new cable television network focused on black Americans will begin later this year. The joint venture from Radio One Inc., which owns several radio stations serving African Americans, and Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable television company, will give blacks more variety in their entertainment choices.

“African-Americans are traditionally underserved in the television marketplace,” Alfred C. Liggins III, Radio One’s chief executive and president, said in a conference call announcing the venture. “This is the nation’s most attractive consumer demographic.”

The network, which has not yet been named, will carry entertainment, news, opinion and sports programming and will focus on black viewers ages 25 to 54 years old. It will begin sometime during the middle of the year and will broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The network will be distributed through many of Comcast’s cable systems, and it will be made available through other cable and satellite providers.

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