Posted in Breaking News, Human Interest

Bay Area publisher resigns after public apology for using N-Word and several journalists quit the East Bay Express

east_bay_expressStephen Buel, the publisher of the East Bay Express apologized Friday in the weekly for using the N-word in a meeting with staff members and for taking down stories written by a culture and music reporter.

His apology came with a lot of pledges for change. It didn’t look like he was going to resign. Then today, he did just that, resigned.

WHAT LEAD TO THE RESIGNATION

Buel has been the co-owner of the East Bay Express since 2007. He was also the editor of the weekly for ten years.

In May, reporter Azucena Rasilla was covering the Bottlerock Napa Valley Music Festival .  In a phone conversation this afternoon, Rasilla told me that Buel took down her story about rappers using the N-word during their performances and white people in the audience singing along also using the N-word. Rasilla said she mentioned in her story that she thought it was wrong that white audience members used the N-word when they repeated the lyrics.

In a meeting after Buel took down Rasilla’s story, she said she was shocked when he used the N-word in front of the staff members.  Friday, Rasilla had enough. She quit her job. Here is what she posted on Facebook:

Azucena_Resigns

 

Friday, Buel published  “An Apology and a Pledge.”  He admitted he used the N-word and that he took down stories, because he didn’t agree with them. In his “apology” he said he had plans to make major changes. There was no hint he planned to quit or remove himself as publisher.

Here is part of his apology he wrote in the East Bay Express:

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Stephen Buel/ Facebook

The past month has been a traumatic one at the East Bay Express. As the paper’s publisher and onetime editor, I consider furthering our journalistic mission to be my life’s work. Yet as the person most responsible for our current troubles, I now feel a need to directly address our readers.

One night about a month ago, I read some week-old online coverage that did not live up to my editorial standards. So, I took the stories down the next morning and promptly explained my concerns to the author and editors.

One story described white people singing along to live hip-hop songs that contained the N-word. This is a worthy topic for coverage, and I said as much. But while referring to hateful words subsequently reclaimed by the communities they once oppressed, I said a couple of those words aloud. I should not have done so and am extremely sorry that my remark caused others pain.

I also should not have unilaterally taken down the articles. Instead, I should have respected our editorial structure and taken my feedback directly to our editorial management so that the editors and author might have addressed my concerns without permanently removing the pieces from our website. I am sorry for the way I disrespected the writer and editors involved in that coverage. (continue)

Comments left in the comment section, had people demanding Buel’s resignation.

THE PUBLISHER MADE PROMISES WE HAVE HEARD BEFORE 

Stephen Buel disrespected his staff, used a racial slur and apologized.

His apology appeared to be a way to convince himself and his readers that he had “seen the light.”   He made all the same promises we have heard over and over by those in managerial positions who have used racial slurs, apologized, and promised never to do it again.

Promise to increase diversity. Check!

Promise to have newspaper reflect the community. Check!

Promise to create a code of conduct for staff. Check!

Promises to attend “implicit bias training.” Check!

Promise better communication as publisher with editorial staff. Check!

GLAD BUEL SAW THE LIGHT AND RESIGNED 

Stephen Buel is a veteran journalist who should knows better.  Saturday, something convinced him to resign from the newspaper he owns.  He published his resignation. Here it is:

Perhaps now more than ever before, the East Bay needs healthy independent journalism. Because my presence at Telegraph Media has become a threat to that mission — and to the careers of the hard-working people who produce the East Bay ExpressOakland MagazineAlameda MagazineThe East Bay Monthly, and Bay Woof — I am stepping down as publisher of those titles.

Publications such as these depend upon the support of many people and institutions. I urge the advertisers, readers, journalists and community members who have long supported our publications to stand by them now — and not let my indiscretions threaten their survival.

During my 37 years as a journalist, I have worked to advance equality, seek truth, and fight injustice. The thousands of stories I have written or edited express my values far better than any self-righteous summation possibly could today. The cruel caricature I see of myself on social media does not reflect who I am, but I have sadly come to the conclusion that I cannot defend myself without endangering the journalism that is my legacy.

Following a brief transition period, longtime East Bay journalist Robert Gammon will replace me as our company’s publisher.

Buel is old enough to understand that you NEVER use the N-word.  It’s an ugly word. He knew his apology was not good enough and he would sink his own ship if he did not remove himself.

Here is hoping that the changes and improvements that Buel had promised will still happen. There should be better diversity, a code of conduct, and the newspaper staff should reflect the community.

Let’s be honest, Robert Gammon will still work for Buel because he will still own the paper. Gammon has to decide now if he will be Buel’s puppet or a true leader. We must  keep an eye on whether Buel will do things behind scenes. Believe me, I  will be watching.

The new publisher has a big job ahead of him. He needs to show the staff that they are respected and their journalists are trusted for their work.  More than anything, the East Bay Express needs to show the community that it cares about its staff and the people who read it.

Trust, honesty, and ethics do matter.

Earlier today I contacted Buel to get his side of the story. I am still waiting for a response.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE

It takes a brave journalist to create change in the news business. I am very proud of Azucena Rasilla. When her stories were taken down a few months ago, she could have let it go. When Buel used that racial slur, she could have kept quiet. She did not. She spoke up and realized that it was the right thing to do. We should all learn from her courage to create change.

I talked to Rasilla tonight for her reaction to Buel’s resignation. She said, “It’s a step in the right direction, but the ultimate goal should be for Steve to sell. The Express will not truly change until it changes ownership.”

 

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Posted in Breaking News, Human Interest

U.S. Customs harasses Latina CEO and daughter over their different last names

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Sylvia Acosta 

Sylvia Acosta still can’t believe how she was treated by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. On Sunday, she and her daughter were on their way home to El Paso after spending a beautiful time in Europe.  During their pit stop at DFW airport, a U.S. Customs agent had a problem with Sylvia and her teenage daughter having different last names. Something he noticed when Sylvia handed him their passports.

That’s when he started giving the YWCA CEO the third degree. She posted her experience on Facebook.

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Sylvia didn’t sit there and take it. She let the officer know she got her PhD with the “Acosta” name, but also established her career with it. The agent told her she should have taken her husband’s last name to prove she was her daughter’s mother.

Sylvia and her 15-year-old daughter had been part of a tour group, and she had the group’s paperwork which included the names of all the kids on the trip and the chaperones. The paperwork revealed flight reservations, schedules and names of every person. Each member of the group was also TSA pre-checked.  Sylvia told me on Facebook that the rest of the group got through with no delay.

Sylvia and her daughter are both American citizens. She is the CEO of the YWCA in El Paso de Norte Region with more than 25 years of management experience. She said she did not get the agent’s name. “I was so shocked and taken aback I really did not even think about it.”

A CBP spokesman issued a statement on its treatment of Sylvia and her daughter. In short, agents interrogate people traveling with children, because of the human trafficking issue. Here is what Sylvia added to her Facebook post from CPB.

USCustomsU. S. Customs and Border Protection has reviewed the audio and video of the encounter between a CBP officer and a woman traveling with her daughter, and found that the video does not support the claim as it has been reported. The audio and video prove that there weren’t any inappropriate questions discussed.

On December 23, 2008, President Bush signed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to combat human trafficking. In instances where the relationship of a minor and accompanying adult can’t be immediately determined, CBP may ask additional questions to determine relationship. This additional questioning could take place in an area away from the general public.

CBP strongly recommends that unless a child is accompanied by both parents, the adult traveling with the child have a note from the child’s other parent (or, in the case of a child traveling with grandparents, uncles or aunts, sisters or brothers, friends, or in groups*, a note signed by both parents).

CBP strives to ensure that t

Sylvia’s Facebook post has gone viral, and she is being embraced with a lot of support from friends and strangers. She put things into perspective with a positive note on her Facebook.

I love the mission statement for the organization I represent —YWCA which is to eliminate racism and empower women, two things I have had to stand up for this week.

Posted in Breaking News, Human Interest, immigration

How TIME came up with the powerful cover “Welcome to America” with Trump and a crying immigrant child

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Screenshot: Time magazine

Time magazine’s latest cover shows the famous image of young Honduran girl sobbing as President Trump is standing over her. The headline reads, “Welcome to America.”

How did Time Magazine come up with this cover?

Karl Vick, Editor at Large at Time magazine told CNN that they knew they had to use the photograph of the girl , because she is an “iconic image.” Vick added,

We call this a photo illustration obviously, because the President has never met her. They just seemed to go together once you put them both on the cover in that dynamic. It captured a lot and then it was the matter of what you say with it.  ‘Welcome to America’ works.

Getty photographer, Jim Moore, took the photo of the little girl crying as border patrol agents patted down her mother. He told CNN earlier in the week that it was a very emotional shoot for him.

Molly Ball is the national political correspondent at Time magazine. In a story that goes with the cover, she writes about Trump,

He thinks shock is a temporary condition, moral outrage is phony posturing and that the American people can be numbed to just about everything.

Vick also told CNN the cover is aimed at Trump’s leadership,

This episode is the country telling the president what we’re about, and what kind of country we are. It’s a role reversal and it’s really quite striking.

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy has resulted in the separation of parents and children who are taken into federal custody after they are caught crossing the border illegally.

Trump signed an executive order reversing his policy after pressure from politicians and the public. Officials say around 2,300 children are in detention facilities. Young children under six-years-old are being kept in facilities called “Tender Age” shelters. There are reports that several immigrant children are being taken to other parts of the country away from the border and their parents.

SOURCES:

TIME magazine story “The Story Behind TIME’s Trump ‘Welcome to America’ Cover”

Posted in Breaking News

Death toll rises in Guatemala, organizations reach out to help the survivors of Fuego Volcano

Guatamala_Eruption
Photo Courtesy: Conred Guatemala

Organizations around the world are making efforts to help the victims of the volcano eruption in Guatemala. Several fundraisers have been set up. There are also several grassroots efforts.

Dina Potter of Alexandria, Virginia is working with the Shriners of Guatemala to raise money for those in need.  The HR consultant has set up a GoFundMe account to raise $30,000. Here is what she posted:

My name is Dina Potter, I was born in Guatemala & now live in Alexandria, VA. It breaks my heart to see the devastation that the Fire Volcano’s eruption has caused, and the limited resources the country has available for rescue efforts. I was leery of donating to organizations that: 1) I didn’t recognize or 2) could be pocketing the money. That is why I have joined forces with Monica Corzo (a trusted friend) & Miguel Angel Valdez, President of Guatemala’s Shriners Club (FB page: @Guatemala Shriners Club No.1) They are boots on the ground in Guatemala, helping coordinate efforts & are also fundraising. Shriners Hospital in the US is a trusted and reputable non-profit organization, that depends on donations to be able to provide medical care to children in the US. Guatemala Shriners Club No.1 in coordination with Shriner’s International, have activated the protocol for humanitarian aid to be able to provide dire medical attention to children under 18 years of age, who have suffered critical injuries or are burn victims due to this natural disaster.

Dina says the $30,000 raised will be used in the follow areas:

1. Guatemala Shriners Club will take part in aid to the children affected due to the devastation caused by the Fire Volcano.
2. A team of medical specialists from Shriners Hospitals for Children (USA), is in Guatemala to evaluate & deliver medical interventions to children who need urgent medical attention due to life-threatening injuries sustained by this natural disaster.
3. We need your help to be able to move the children in air ambulances. Each air ambulance costs $1000/km, so one trip is @$15,000-$20,000.

ACTION AGAINST HUNGER

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Map courtesy: Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger is also in Guatemala helping the survivors. The organization’s teams work in nearly 50 countries worldwide to carry out innovative, lifesaving programs in nutrition, food security, water, sanitation and hygiene. Teams are now in Guatemala. Here is what it has posted on its website.

On Sunday 3rd June, the Fuego volcano or ‘Fire Volcano’ began its second eruption of the year with strong explosions creating ash columns which have risen 6,000 meters above sea level. 3,265 people have been displaced and at-least 700 people are missing. The main area affected by this eruption is the Department of Escuintla, a region where our teams have been implementing a disaster preparedness project, with a specific focus on floods since 2016. Our teams on the ground are working hard to undertake a needs assessment before launching our response to the volcanic eruption. Reaching the areas most affected and to ensure communities have access to clean water and shelter is our top priority.

Miguel Ángel García is the Country Director of Action Against Hunger in Central America-Guatemala and Nicaragua. He described what has experienced on the ground.

The atmosphere is practically unbreathable. Within two to three days, access to clean water and basic sanitation will be a vital humanitarian need for more than 3,200 displaced people living in temporary shelters provided by local authorities.

There are still many people who have not been accounted for and rescue workers are having a difficult time getting to those who are buried under the volcanic ash.

Posted in Breaking News, immigration, Latino Community, Uncategorized

U.S. Catholic Bishops speak out against Trump administration’s policy to separate immigrant families “Children are not instruments of deterrence”

Bishop Daniel Flores and Bishop Joe Vásquez of Texas are telling the world even on  Twitter they are against the Trump administration’s move to separate undocumented parents and their children at the border.

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Bishop Flores tweeted on May 31:

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Twitter Screenshot: Bishop Flores

Separating immigrant parents and children as a supposed deterrent to immigration is a cruel and reprehensible policy. Children are not instruments of deterrence, they are children. A government that thinks any means is suitable to achieve an end cannot secure justice for anyone.

The Trump administration denied for months that there was no formal policy separating families at the border. Their story fell apart and finally they had to come clean that they were separating parents from their children as a deterrent to keep other immigrants from coming to the U.S. illegally.

Read a good background piece by Jonathon Blitzer in The New Yorker. In “How the Trump Administration Got Comfortable Separating Immigrant Kids from Their Parents,” Blitzer writes:

On April 6th, Jeff Sessions and Kirstjen Nielsen, the head of Homeland Security, announced a zero-tolerance policy for immigrants at the border. Anyone who didn’t cross the U.S. border at an official port of entry would be criminally prosecuted, even if they were seeking asylum, and those travelling with their children would be separated from them. The policy was now official, and the Administration acknowledged its rationale: it was separating families to discourage others from travelling to the United States illegally

What was the policy before? Politifacts reports:

Before the Trump administration, immigrants entering illegally as families were rarely prosecuted, said Sarah Pierce, an associate policy analyst of the U.S. Immigration Program at the Migration Policy Institute. Instead, immigrants were held in family detention centers until they were sent to appear before an immigration court or deported.

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Bishop Joe Vásquez, the Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement on June 1:

Bishop_JoeVasquez
Photo Courtesy: Bob Roller, CNS

Forcibly separating children from their mothers and fathers is ineffective to the goals of deterrence and safety and contrary to our Catholic values. Family unity is a cornerstone of our American immigration system and a foundational element of Catholic teaching. ‘Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.’ (Psalm 127:3) Children are not instruments of deterrence but a blessing from God.

Rupturing the bond between parent and child causes scientifically proven trauma that often leads to irreparable emotional scarring. Accordingly, children should always be placed in the least restrictive setting: a safe, family environment, ideally with their own families.

My brother bishops and I understand the need for the security of our borders and country, but separating arriving families at the U.S./Mexico border does not allay security concerns. Children and families will continue to take the enormous risks of migration—including family separation—because the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle remain: community or state-sanctioned violence, gang recruitment, poverty, and a lack of educational opportunity. Any policies should address these factors first as we seek to repair our broken immigration system.

The New Yorker reports that according to the Department of Homeland Security, 658 children were separated from their parents between May 6th and May 19th.

 

Other stories of interest:

Houston Chronicle: Immigrant Families Separated at Border Struggle to Find Each Other

Posted in Breaking News, Human Interest, Trending

TMZ’s Van Lathan’s message to Kanye West taught the world don’t be afraid to tell the powerful, rich, and famous they are wrong

 

Lathan_West
Screenshot: TMZ Youtube

 

TMZ producer Van Lathan has taught the world especially people of color to speak up.

BE UNAFRAID to take on people who have power, fame and money when they are wrong, even Kanye West.

Lathan was not going to allow the Grammy winner to walk out of the TMZ newsroom Tuesday without telling him he was wrong for saying 400 years of slavery was a choice.

West had shouted in the TMZ newsroom “Do you feel that I’m being free, and I’m thinking free?” It looked like most people were stunned, and not sure what to say or respond.

That’s when Lathan had enough. (Video 1:46)

Lathan’s reaction:

I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything. I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought, and the reason why I feel like that is because Kanye you are entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to believe whatever you want, but there is fact and real world, real life consequence behind everything that you just said. While you are making music, and being an artist, and living the life that you earned, by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our live.

We have to deal with the marginalization that’s come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice. Frankly, I’m disappointed, I’m appalled and brother, I’m unbelievably hurt, by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me that is not real.

Kanye West apologized to Lathan who told him “You have to be responsible…”

IF SOMEONE IS WRONG, SAY SO

Shout out to TMZ and Lathan, because this is why diversity in the newsroom is important. Here is an African-American producer who was not afraid to take on one of the most famous and powerful African-American entertainers in the world.

I’m like Lathan, there is no way I would have allowed West to walk out that newsroom without telling him he was wrong in what he said.

Too many people today are afraid to speak up. They are afraid to tell a person they are wrong, because they fear someone will get angry. They fear being criticized or judged. They fear not being liked and many are afraid to lose their jobs.

Don’t let all that stuff mess with your mind when you can correct a wrong.

I don’t think Lathan had one ounce of fear when he confronted West, and look who we are talking about today.

My message to all of you:

The next time you hear someone say or do something that is WRONG, say something, do something, because silence does not make the world better.

Source: TMZ YouTube

 

 

Posted in Breaking News, Journalist, News Now

Cox Media Group plans to shutdown Mundo Hispánico, several journalists face losing their jobs

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Update 4/27/2018
Cox Media Group posted a statement on the company website about plans to sell Mundo Hispanico. It was posted the day I posted this blog.

—–

Sources with Mundo Hispánico say they need to start looking for jobs, because the digital site faces a shutdown. They got the bad news in an email Monday morning from the President of the Cox Media Group (CMG) which owns Mundo Hispánico.

cmg

The announcement came from Kim Guthrie, President of Cox Media Group. Her email partly reads…

CMG is focused on overcoming the disruption in our industry and competing to win in the markets we serve. To achieve that, we are focusing our resources on businesses that have clear paths to profitability and long-term growth.

She goes on to say…

…After careful consideration, we’ve decided to sell or sunset both the Mundo Hispanico and Southern Kitchen businesses.

Her email mentioned CMG is looking for the right buyers.

…we will work to find the right owners for Mundo Hispanico and Southern Kitchen. If we are unable to find a buyer, we plan to close Southern Kitchen and the national Vertical portion of Mundo Hispanico by the end of the quarter.

You can read the rest of the email provided to me from a few sources.

MundoHispanico

Reporters in Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Orlando, and one in North Carolina are expected to lose their jobs. There are also other journalists at the headquarters in Atlanta who will also be shown the door.

According to a source, the national correspondents for the digital site could be out of work by the end of June and the ones in Atlanta may get a few more months on the job.

I hope a good media company buys Mundo Hispánico, because the digital site has a good following on social media. More than four million followers on Facebook. 

I have contacted CMG for a response. I’ll keep you posted.

If you have any job openings please send them my way.  Let’s help these people out before the possible shutdown.

Other sources:
Cox Media Group

Mundo Hispánico