For the Kids

A few months ago, I picked up a copy of The Clarion-Ledger's VIP Jackson magazine and flipped through. I was shocked at how few black VIP Jacksonians I saw in the stories, party pics and advertising.

After we ran an index in the paper showing just how racially un-diverse this Gannett publication is, some of the usual suspects e-mailed, whining that we dared say out loud that a huge corporation that prides itself on its diversity actually markets a disturbingly un-diverse publication to a decidedly un-diverse target audience.

This is something you might expect from either The Northside Sun (which has long shown that it cares little about diversity) and The Jackson Advocate (which we have long criticized for its "Brown Society" treatment of blacks and whites who work together.)

But since the Gannett Corp. bought The Clarion-Ledger--historically, one of the nation's most racist newspapers--it has bragged about its diversity. Its top editor, Ronnie Agnew is black and is the national diversity chair for the American Society of Newspaper Editors--a similar position to what I held until recently for the nation's alternative newspapers. ASNE is a loud proponent of media diversity; I've been at training sessions with its people where we learned, among other things, that it is vital to "mainstream" people of color into all aspects of your publications, especially in positive, uplifting sections (which, no doubt, includes party pics and wedding spreads). The Ledger even won an ASNE "Pacesetter" award for newsroom diversity, but little diversity is evident on the VIP Jackson masthead.

Where is the disconnect? How does a paper that prides itself on diversity put out a "very important person" magazine about "Jackson" and not bother to pursue content diversity that comes close to reflecting the city? Not to mention, how does Mr. Agnew sleep at night knowing that VIP Jackson is distributed free to a list of affluent zip codes, more in the "white" suburbs than actually in (northeast) Jackson?

Of course, my pointing this out causes rolled eyes among many of the same people who never seem to care about the lack of diversity in anything, whether the Neshoba County Fair or their children's classrooms. Is this the target audience that the Ledger wants?

Many will declare that I am obsessed with race, and the real idiots will say that I hate my own race because I point out the race hypocrisy of a major Virginia-based media corporation down here to make money. That's stupid logic: I promise that I do not hate my own skin color, and some of my best friends are white. Not to mention family members.

Actually, something much bigger than my mythical hatred of white people or my real disdain for hypocrisy is at play here. What is at stake is the future of our city.

Seriously. It's basic: Young (and older) people need to see positive images of people who look like them. People of color need to see "local" media outlets covering them for positive actions at least as much as for negative actions--they need to know that they are just as "VIP" as white people who hold and attend fund raisers and engagement parties. And in a city--Jackson, as in the magazine name--that is more than two-thirds black, it is remarkable to see a Gannett-owned publication largely ignore most of the city and even its well-to-do black philanthropists.

White folks also need to see people of color in roles that have nothing to do with sports, crime or music. If we do not see these positive images, it is very easy for us to form stereotypes without meaning to, not to mention sensationalize crime, especially among "them."

Then, playing to their perceived audience (and advertisers), the mass media overwhelmingly present negatives images of people of color, especially young people.

In turn, young people of color can grow up feeling like second-class citizens when they and their families are not reflected fairly in the media: It's the white folks who raise money. It's the white folks who get lauded in the largest media outlets for accomplishments. It's the white folks who give the VIP parties that matter. It can be self-perpetuating: The media continually show kids of color on a path to destruction, and hopelessness sets in.

In case you think I am making all this up to sound smart or alty, alas, I am not.

The research is rampant on the desperate need for media diversity and how the lack of it can negatively affect a city, including raising the likelihood of crime (which is directly connected to the sense of hopelessness and esteem in a community). When you're told, or shown, over and over again that you're not among the best, you don't believe you can be. That's when you make the wrong choices.

Back in 1968, our nation was warned about this hopelessness-to-bad-choices cycle after the infamous spate of race riots racked several cities around the country, including Jackson. The president convened The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, which studied conditions leading to the riots.

In what is known as the Kerner Commission report (PDF, 88 KB) (which every American should read; sadly too little has changed), the panel reached unflinching conclusions about the status of blacks in the U.S. As a journalist, the chapter on the media's role in creating these conditions, as well as what we can do to change them, has long motivated me.

The report warned that media had done a terrible job of integrating its coverage, leading to hopelessness in what it called the "ghetto" (which it dared say out loud was created by whites and white flight) and white ignorance about problems segregation created for blacks. Among other suggestions, the report told media that it must stop excluding "Negroes" (the language of the time): "Integrate Negroes and Negro activities into all aspects of coverage and content, including newspaper articles and television programming. The news media must publish newspapers and produce programs that recognize the existence and activities of Negroes as a group within the community and as a part of the larger community."

Today, we live in a majority-black city with mostly leadership of color. And even now, the "white" media are falling into the old traps they warned us about in 1968. This is a vicious cycle that must be broken.

Do it for our kids. It matters.

Previous Comments

ID
160948
Comment
Here are the neighborhoods that VIP "Jackson" distributes its 20,000 copies a month to; I know a lot of them, but not all. Any updates on diversity are welcome. Madison/ Ridgeland Ashbrook, Annandale, Ashton Park, Belle Terre, Bocage, Bridgewater, Calumet, Camden Ridge, Caroline Pointe, Canterbury, Charlestowne, Charmant Place, Cherry Hill, Dinsmor, Fontanelle at Galleria, Hoy Farms, Johnstone, Lake Caroline, Lost Rabbit, Northbay, Overlook, Panther Creek, Providence, Reserve Crossing, Reunion, Roses Bluff, Shadowood, Sherbourne, St. Ives, Summers Bay, Summertree ,Tavern Hill, The Township at Colony, Twin Cedars, Versailles, Wendover, Wrights Mill, Windance Hinds (only Jackson spots) Ashley Park, Abbey, Nord Belhaven, Bruenburg, Carlyle Place, Carolwood, Crane Park, Eastover, Eastbrooke, Fondren Green, Highland Park, Jackson Country Club, Meadowbrook Highlands, Montrose, Montrose/LaRoche, North Pointe Clinton Cascades, Huncliff, Hunters Ridge, Lakeridge, Oakhurst, Oakridge, Old Vineyard, Southern Oaks, St. Andrews, Woodland Hills, Woodmore, Sugaloch Cove Rankin Arbor Landing, Avalon Way, Baypointe, Belle Meade, Bridgepoint, Bridlewood, Buckingham, Castlewood – Pinnacle Plac,e Countryplace, Dogwood Place, Easthaven, Fox Bay, Indian Creek, Latter Rayne, Lineage Lake, Northshore, Oakridge, Palisades, Speers Crossing
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-17T12:08:39-06:00
ID
160949
Comment
And here are VIP's 35(ish) rack locations in the metro. (I don't think it's in the Westland Plaza McDade's, but someone correct me if I'm wrong): Hinds/Downtown Hal & Mal’s Two Sisters Cups in Regions Building McDade’s Rainbow Whole Foods Fondren Corner Kats Wine & Spirits Northeast Jackson Banner Hall Julep Newk’s McDade’s We Love Yogurt Courthouse Cherokee Inn YMCA Clinton Newk’s Baptist Healthplex Ridgeland YMCA Beagle Bagel The Club Newk’s My Friend’s Place Deli Madison Pizza Inn Papitos Rankin/Brandon Crossgates McAlister’s The Club Newk’s Flowood McAlister’s Courthouse Primos Café Newk’s Bonsai
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-17T12:13:50-06:00
ID
160953
Comment
Donna makes some good points, especially about images that certain demographics need to see. Regardless, I assure you that any altruistic racial agenda is taking a back seat to dollar signs. VIP is about ad revenue. It is made for and distributed primarily to a demographic that is most beneficial for ad revenue. Gannett exists to make money not to solve race problems in America (although both of those points could be argued against by the fact that they fired Marshall Ramsey and they have policy against giving complete descriptions of crime suspects). I also think it would be foolish for any ostensibly objective media to be in the business of social engineering based on that media's perception of society's needs.
Author
FlabLoser
Date
2010-11-17T13:18:50-06:00
ID
160954
Comment
Regardless, I assure you that any altruistic racial agenda is taking a back seat to dollar signs. VIP is about ad revenue. It is made for and distributed primarily to a demographic that is most beneficial for ad revenue. Certainly, Flab, I think you're right that Gannett perceives that this is the way to make money for a brand that is in trouble. However, the argument doesn't excuse anything: You could argue the same thing for media in 1960s and before; they would answer that they were covering the most affluent market by targeting largely white people. That wasn't right then, and it isn't right now. As for the perceived demographic being most beneficial for ad revenue, I'm not sure I buy that, either. For one thing, there are plenty of people with money who don't live in those neighborhoods. Secondly, it is a dated idea that pandering to a large white demographic is best for advertising. Our paper and magazine, for instance, cater to a diverse audience, and we are consistently growing in ad revenue. Gannett exists to make money not to solve race problems in America Well, that argument would be logically valid if Gannett didn't constantly brag about its diversity and its efforts to, well, solve race problems in America, especially right here in Jackson. In other words, the company itself negates that argument. Of course, from a media-ethics perspective, it is not valid even from outlets that have no problem following the premise. Forty years ago in this country, most newspaper companies (including here in Mississippi) came to terms with the need to cover the entire community and not be part of the problem, which is what is at issue. BTW, they didn't fire Ramsey, but (unbelievably) made him part-time. As for their policy against naming the race of crime suspects, I agree that they take it to a ridiculous extreme, withholding the race even when it would be helpful (and do the opposite of the idiotic "black male" with no other description approach of The Northside Sun). There is an intelligent compromise between the two. I also think it would be foolish for any ostensibly objective media to be in the business of social engineering based on that media's perception of society's needs. In a city that is overwhelmingly African American, and has plenty of affluent black residents, it is more "social engineering" to ignore large patches of the population. Put another way, how hard do you have to work and how blind do you have to be to limit yourself to largely white content and readership in a city with our demographic. The word Jackson is right in their name, and they are twisting themselves into a geographic pretzel to avoid treating most of the city as worthy of "VIP" Jackson. It's shameful. And it makes no sense to say that refusing to be part of the problem is "social engineering." That's an excuse. Nothing more.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-17T13:33:53-06:00
ID
160956
Comment
Gannett diversity links, btw: http://gannett.com/go/newswatch/2009/dec/nw1203-2.htm "Gannett remains committed to diversity even in difficult economic times. Our impressive standing is a reflection of some of the good efforts of Gannett’s managers and editors. " ://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/article/101008/Mainstreaming-and-Diversity-Are-Gannetts-Core-Values.aspx Gannett publications use two procedures to assure that mainstreaming and diversity become a part of the newsroom culture. Each newspaper must establish a list of minority experts for use by its reporters. These lists, often divided on the basis of subject, are to be used by reporters and editors to expand the pool of sources. Benge acknowledges that these lists produce varying levels of success. In some newsrooms, reporters turn to them constantly; in other newsrooms, they are largely ignored. http://www.gannett.com/leadershipanddiversity/index.htm
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-17T13:43:18-06:00
ID
160958
Comment
Tom, it confuses me as well, considering that it is owned by a newspaper company that supposedly values journalistic ethics, which includes a clear separation between advertising and editorial. I can't tell by looking at it which editorial content is paid for by advertisers (such as all the Mistletoe Marketplace stuff in current issue), and the wedding features are apparently bought by readers. And the current issue says that one of the bought wedding features/photos will be the cover of their wedding issue in January. WTF!? This is so far from standards that Gannett supposedly abides by: real journalistic outlets (newspapers, magazines, etc.) have to mark paid stories as advertising. And I really like the woman they just hired as the general manager, but what does that title mean? Is she involved with both selling advertising and assigning editorial? It's unclear. I really hate to see Gannett go down this kind of road in an effort to shore up falling profits. And it sets a horrible example for other media on both diversity and advertising-editorial division issues. I wonder if the company is doing this kind of affluent-white "non-daily" (as they call publications like VIP) across its newspaper chain, or if they're just paying attention to what is going on down here in Jackson. Either way, it's not good, and there is no excuse for this kind of demographic cherrypicking in 2010. There are plenty of local "VIPs" in every neighborhood and of every race.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-17T13:59:02-06:00
ID
160969
Comment
Rebekah, I doubt seriously that I have been in VIP Jackson, at least since the Ledger bought it from Reeves a few years back. The Ledger covered the Friendship Ball where Derrick Johnson and I got the Friendship Award, ran a picture of Derrick and said he was was "among the honorees." ;-) The Sun has often run photos of me and others here, though, no doubt. I agree with you on the positive side of a VIP or other fluffy publication; our BOOM is certainly a positive magazine. But you're making the argument for me: Why can't it be diverse, and even approach reflecting JACKSON, which it claims to do in its title? Why can't you create a "positive" publication and diverse? Are you implying that such a publication would only attract tattoo parlors? If so, you should read BOOM. Go ahead and roll your eyes, Rebekah, when someone points out that a corporation that sells its diversity as one of its strengths and then puts out a publication that is so white. That doesn't make it an invalid criticism; it just means that you'd rather no one notice or say anything about it. I am "doing" plenty, and I am not "whining" (thanks for the personal swipe, though). I am pointing out blatant hypocrisy, and the negative effects of that hypocrisy based on a boatland of research about media diversity. That is my job. And, if you don't like the magazine then HEY! Don't read it! Plenty of people could have said that about the Ledger and other publications in the '60s that chose to ignore segments of its community. I'm sorry: It's not good enough, and it's just apologia for a very real problem with VIP. Of course, VIP is about advertising. Most media survive based on advertising; we do, too. There is nothing new there. However, it is owned by the Gannett Corp., which shows up at conferences and discusses journalism ethics such as identifying paid editorial as advertising and working diligently to reflect communities (see links above). I'm amused that you think I am "envious" of VIP. Rebekah, I could easily put out a publication of mostly white people using mostly snapshots mailed in to me and sell the stories to people who can afford them. But I won't because it is unethical and unhealthy for our community. And, no, I have said "no" to many VIP photographers who have asked to photograph me and others at events. Of course, I am very grateful that I have a paper, and a magazine, and that both have grown steadily since we started them, and we believe due to our diversity and our willingness to speak out about important issues in our community, such as media diversity. Your calling me "tacky" has no effect on my willingness to continue doing that. Trust me: I've been called much worse. ;-) And I would argue that it's even tackier to put out a publication representing Jackson and ignore most of its population, especially of a certain race, no? As for the new general manager, I don't blame her for the current state of VIP, and I believe that she will bring her positive spirit in there and improve the magazine in the future. This is a corporate issue with a company based in Virginia. Have a great day, Rebekah.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-17T15:58:17-06:00
ID
160996
Comment
Rebekah, we're in the throes of getting December BOOM to the printer, so just a couple comments to your latest post. I might have more later. It is about Jackson...events that take place in Jackson. Why is that so hard to understand? It is not hard to understand. I have no problem with a "light" publication about what's great about Jackson. (I do one, i fact.) But you again are making my vital point: It is about JACKSON. Jackson is largely African American, including middle class and affluent. This publication is not reflecting "VIP Jackson." The magazine is intended to be an "Elite" magazine. OK, assuming that is true, the implication of that statement is disturbing. Are you saying that the "elite" of "Jackson" only includes a smattering of black people!?! If you believe that, it proves exactly why VIP is such a problem: The Gannett Corp. is giving exactly the wrong impression about our city and mis-educating people. This was *exactly* the point of my article, and the fact that you don't want to hear it doesn't make it invalid. It makes it all the more important to say it. VIP stands are ALWAYS sold out. Well, it's a free publication with about 35 racks and only 20,000 copies a month. It's not going to stay in the racks long! We have 400-plus racks now, I believe, and have a team that re-distributes when we get low. We print 17,000 a *week*. You better see JFP in the racks! ;-) I personally think you like to stir up all this racial bs...and that is what this is- racial bs. That is one woman's opinion, Rebekah. For what it's worth, I hear from many, many more people of all races, and many of whom own businesses, that they are happy that we speak the truth about uncomfortable issues such as these. Bottom line: It is not "racial BS" to point out that an international media corporation that "sells" its diversity in Jackson, Miss., is putting out an overwhelmingly white publication targeted to largely white neighborhoods. In fact, it is vital to point it out. You lose readers by all these radical rants.... Our history and growth does not bear this out. ;-) And one woman's "radical rant" is another one's truth. I'm sorry if I have hurt your feelings in some way, but it doesn't change the need to talk about racial disparities in our community. I won't stop doing that, Rebekah. It is part of my calling as a journalist from Neshoba County. I grew up watching people turn their heads, and I won't do it—whether on the issue of media diversity or how the city (and the Ledger) embraced a very unfit black mayor. I will also continue to defend Mississippi against all the people who want to stereotype us as filled with racists. The response to exactly these kinds of columns from white people, as well as non-white, have shown me that our city and state are filled with people not afraid to face the truth and to overcome it. It is all going to backfire in the end.... That sounds ominous, but we survived calling out the myths of the Iraq War the week it started; being targeted by Melton supporters for telling the truth about him from the getgo; not endorsing Bush either the first or second time and saying exactly why; and having supporters furious at us because we dared question and tell the truth about the Two Lakes plan -- and kept growing throughout. If daring to call out the diversity hypocrisy of an unpopular daily newspaper corporation is going to be the straw that breaks our support in the community, that is a very sad state, indeed. Rebekah, we are in this business to tell the truth, and to help our city and state be better for all -- from domestic abuse victims to the young African Americans who are told constantly by the media that are not supposed to be among the best, or the "elite," as you put it. It is why we do it. We will always have a few people complaining about our truth-telling--attacking the messenger, it's commonly called--but we wouldn't have gone into this very difficult business had our skin not been tough enough to take it. All will be fine. I really do hope you have a great day and weekend.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-18T10:46:50-06:00
ID
160998
Comment
Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute (media-diversity organization that has taught me much) is linking to this column in his daily report. He's someone else willing to speak the uncomfortable truths about media diversity. Maynard has some great resources on improving media diversity, including in contest. I also suggest playing this diversity game that Maynard developed. It's a great organization. And thanks, Richard!
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-18T11:06:26-06:00
ID
161015
Comment
Good point, Tom. And for the record, I don't think the editors of VIP are sinister, either. They did not come up with the plan to target and distribute to "select" areas that happen to be largely white. My beef is with the corporation and probably with the publisher, who came in here as an expert in "non-daily" publications. And he was sent here by corporate (the same corporate that puts out PR about their diversity). Thus, I'd hope the editors would improve VIP's diversity, but I don't know if corporate agrees. Hopefully, a bit of public exposure like this will help get their attention. Gannett: We see what you're doing. And Mississippi deserves better.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-18T13:31:10-06:00
ID
161030
Comment
"What is at stake is the future of our city." Really? No, REALLY? The future of Jackson is tied to a publication primarily composed of party pics? That is quite possibly the most over-the-top statement I've ever read here.
Author
bill_jackson
Date
2010-11-19T13:37:24-06:00
ID
161040
Comment
Bill, it was considered over the top by many white folks when the Kerner Commission warned about the responsibility media have for representing the *entire* community, as well. These are very real issues in the media. And by the way, here is my whole statement around that part in context: Actually, something much bigger than my mythical hatred of white people or my real disdain for hypocrisy is at play here. What is at stake is the future of our city. Seriously. It's basic: Young (and older) people need to see positive images of people who look like them. People of color need to see "local" media outlets covering them for positive actions at least as much as for negative actions--they need to know that they are just as "VIP" as white people who hold and attend fund raisers and engagement parties. And in a city--Jackson, as in the magazine name--that is more than two-thirds black, it is remarkable to see a Gannett-owned publication largely ignore most of the city and even its well-to-do black philanthropists.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-22T15:09:51-06:00
ID
161042
Comment
BTW, Mr. Agnew had a very curious response to my column over on Richard Prince's Maynard site (which I linked to in a comment above): [Agnew told Journal-isms on Thursday, "the magazine is an advertising publication and is totally separate from the newsroom. I wasn't contacted by the alt-weekly, which made the assumption it was a publication under my supervision."] So, he outright says that VIP is an "advertising publication." I guess that means that it is all supposed to be "advertising" -- I mean, his newspaper, my newspaper, and others are advertising-supported; that in no way gets us off the hook for media diversity. The fact that you are trying to make money off local businesses in no way diminishes the need for diversity. In fact, one of the tenets of building media diversity (and countering the dangers chronicled in the Kerner report) is that advertising should be diverse as well -- including in imagery. (The current VIP has slightly more diverse ads than in the past, by the way, so some credit there.) One of the ways that we were deliberate about diversity in the JFP from the beginning was to encourage businesses to use images of people of color in some of their ads -- to send the message that non-whites are welcome and encouraged to come to their businesses. It is very strange, indeed, to use the excuse that it is an "advertising publication" to try to explain about why VIP represents and is marketed directly to white people. Also, to clarify: I don't assume that Mr. Agnew supervises VIP Jackson (although I thought his name used to be in the masthead, but I could be wrong). HOWEVER, I do assume that as the executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger, which bought VIP, and especially as the national diversity chair of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, that Mr. Agnew would have some sway -- or at least stomp into someone's office and ask, "WTF!?!" (Or whatever language he prefers.) Not to mention, VIP sells itself as a "magazine," not a shopper (which people understand is all advertising). Real magazines also follow codes of ethics, including about identifying which stories are "advertising" (meaning paid for by advertisers) on each page. With due respect to Mr. Agnew and other Ledger/Gannett executives, they need to decide what VIP Jackson is. If it's all advertising, as Mr. Agnew suggests, then be straightforward about that to readers and advertisers. Finally, why would I call Mr. Agnew to comment on what is in their "magazine" every issue? I can use my two eyes to see the lack of diversity, as well as the title "VIP JACKSON." I'm not accusing them of anything that isn't obvious to anyone paying attention. I would also respectfully suggest that the Ledger not call the kettle black, considering that editors there would not allow the Mississippi Independent Publishers Association to respond to a full-page letter written by the Ledger publisher that said some very misleading things about MIPA (which formed to fight the Gannett's TDN's strategy; MIPA won that battle a while back, but you can read up on what the Ledger tried to do here if you want. And see the letter that we published after Ledger editors would not accept a letter from us in response.)
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-22T15:28:14-06:00
ID
161043
Comment
The bottom line, from where I sit, is that The Clarion-Ledger's newspaper, which has long heralded its diversity, is bleeding readers and advertising. As a result, they are trying "non-daily" "advertising publications," as Mr. Agnew calls VIP, that are targeted to the richer, whiter segments of the metro to try to recoop lost advertisers. That's one thing from a business perspective, and it *might* work over the long haul (hopefully better than the TDN scheme to control distribution of competitors). Regardless, it is a textbook example of how a large media corporation is selling out its readership, and I would argue ideals, in order to make money. And it is a trick that warrants some attention from the media intelligentsia and thinkers who care about stuff like media diversity: Is this the future of the print industry? And is it turning the clock back to the 1960s, diversity wise? (Also, I hear that this column is being used by discussion by the current Leadership Jackson list. I appreciate it, and would welcome any of your comments.)
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-22T15:33:06-06:00
ID
161047
Comment
I refuse to read the Clarion Ledger or VIP aka the magazine of Very Ignorant People again until we receive equal rights and justice. Everyone wants to talk about peace but there won't be any peace until there are equal rights and justice. Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die. Everyone wants to go to the top but no one can tell me how far is it from the bottom. Everyone wants to talk about crime but tell me who are the criminals (the victims of an unjust system, the creators and sustainers of the unjust system or those among us who simply let it all be). I really don't know. But there won't be any peace, respect or further reading and patronizing of the Ledger and VIP until there are equal rights, diveristy and justice. The boycott is on. I want equal rights and justice. We got to have it now. Equal rights, diversity and justice. Who can be against it? Equal rights, diversity and justice.
Author
Walt
Date
2010-11-22T18:07:38-06:00
ID
161050
Comment
I don't suggest a boycott, Walt, but I do suggest letting The Clarion-Ledger and Gannett know how you feel about the lack of diversity. From the number of people of different races who have thanked me for the column (other than one very angry woman on Facebook), I suspect they're hearing about it. My guess is that we will be seeing a more diverse VIP going forward, although what they plan to do about that "targeted" free circulation is anyone's guess. Free distribution strategies haven't proved to be the Ledger's strong point in recent years.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-22T18:27:16-06:00
ID
161052
Comment
My group is going on with the boycott anyway. Our time has come!
Author
Walt
Date
2010-11-22T18:34:37-06:00
ID
161057
Comment
I tend to believe that Jackson's future is more dependent upon matters such as restoring it's tax base and shoring up it's infrastructure than it is upon some publication of photos of people at fund raisers. This is quite the tempest in a tea cup that you have created.
Author
bill_jackson
Date
2010-11-23T12:55:06-06:00
ID
161065
Comment
Bill, of course those things are important. But the well-documented need for media diversity is most certainly not a "tempest in a teapot" just because you decide it is. It is a very, very serious issue that has been discussed in earnest by media organizations, researchers, social scientists, educators, etc., for decades now (see above). Organizations such as Gannett have supposedly embraced it and use diverse images to sell themselves and their publications. Even if you do not think it matters a whit (seemingly your opinion), you should at least acknowledge the hypocrisy of a major media corporation, on the one hand, having the national diversity chair of ASNE as their executive editor and, on the other, putting out a publication to cover the "elite" of Jackson directly to white folks. Folks, I know it's uncomfortable for many of you who want to believe that "all that" was settled back in the '60s, but we have serious racial divisions in our city, and it takes all of us -- including and especially media organizations -- to make a difference. People of color need to, and deserve, to see themselves reflected in all sorts of media here, including publications that supposedly cover the city's "elite," as it was stated above. If we do not pay attention to these tendencies (and notice The Clarion-Ledger's fingers crossed behind their backs when they brag about their diversity), we will continue to lose any ground we have covered on this front since the Kerner Commission warned us about the potentially very harmful effects of whitewashed media back in the 1960s. This is *real*, and it is a vital community issue.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-11-23T14:41:16-06:00
ID
161068
Comment
While I agree that equal representation in media is a fine idea, I think that it's more important in what would be considered journalistic pubs, like the CL itself, not so much with a magazine like VIP. The tempest in a tea pot is your constant railing against VIP. Isn't this like your third rant about that?
Author
bill_jackson
Date
2010-11-23T20:26:56-06:00
ID
161194
Comment
Hey Tom, I picked up the new VIP over the weekend, and I'm not seeing the improvement, yet. There are no people of color in an editorial spread (meaning not advertising) until the "giving" story on pages 42-44. There is a Parties summary page up front of the party pics in the back, all the photos are white. The cover spread you mention using one model: a blonde woman. All the wedding photos are white couples. In the Parties section, there are a smattering of black faces, and one page (for Dress for Success) that is majority black. But if you counted the diversity spread in this issue (which I don't have time to do again), I'd be surprised if 5 percent of the faces are non-white. Probably more like 2 percent. And from a quick glance over the businesses featured in gift guides and the like, I don't see any that are black-owned. They also run a picture of the VIP staff (without mentioning owner Clarion-Ledger/Gannett), and they are all white women. The lack of staff diversity is clearly a big part of the problem (although in this city, it should also be easy for an all-white staff to put out a diverse publication if it was a priority). So, no, I don't see improvement, and you would never guess that VIP "Jackson" supposedly covers a city that is majority black. Perhaps the January issue will be better. We can hope. And I just saw your last comment, Bill. As for "third rant," this post would probably qualify. This is the third issue of VIP over the last several months that I have bothered to pick up. The lack of diversity smacks anyone in the face who notices that kind of problem. Also, I've said it already, but will repeat it: Diversity in publications matters in all kinds of media, from "light" and fluffy like VIP to news coverage. It's actually common sense if you allow yourself to think about it: How could it only matter to see a diversity of faces in "serious" stories if what you care about is the mainstreaming (a word Gannett Co. likes to use, remember?) of diversity throughout all coverage to invite and show inclusion on all levels. Put another way, if a visitor to Mississippi reads The Clarion-Ledger or its website, it will get the impression that black people get in the news mostly for bad things (so do everyone in their sensationalistic model), and then they will see the racist comments under the stories (like a comment on Jerry Mitchell's blog today about black people: "the black community cant manage itself and the white community is still scared, with good reason.") Because the Ledger doesn't bother moderating out the racist comments, that site tells the world that Mississippi hasn't changed. That's Exhibit A. Exhibit B is that VIP makes it look like either black people are not among the "elite" in the city or that it's a magazine that ignores black people and their accomplishments for the most part. None of that makes Mississippi look good. And you add it all together, and you quickly get the picture of The Clarion-Ledger's approach is dubious at best. And refusing to mention someone's race in a crime description, or its civil-rights cold-case work of the past, does not make up for any of that. How about the here and now? Why not cover our city accurately and fairly? And why assume that well-to-do people in our suburbs do not want to see black folks in a magazine they're not asking for in the first place? It's remarkable to me that any white person would defend this blatant lack of diversity in 2010; what it is really doing is representing us/them as bigots who haven't changed. And that is offensive to me as a white person as much as anything else. The whole thing looks to me like the Gannett Corp. believes that Mississippi hasn't progressed one iota. That company has to be one of our worst public-relations nightmares.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-12-06T13:21:34-06:00
ID
161195
Comment
BTW, here is another column in my current series that is dealing, among other things, with media perceptions and representations and why they matter: All God's Children".
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-12-06T13:24:41-06:00

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