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:

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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 Human Interest, Inspirational, Journalism Education, Journalist

Speak from the heart and you’ll get your message heard

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Photo Courtesy: Alberto Mendoza

I have something to share. How I turned something unexpected into a fantastic experience. I was invited to speak at the Latino Media Summit in New York City over the weekend. One of the best conferences I have been to in my career. More on that in a future blog.

I thought I was going to be on a panel with others, but Friday morning, an hour before the panel, I learned I would have to speak for 10 minutes alone. Say what? Yes they had told us weeks in advance, but I messed up. All the other speakers had fantastic, informative slide shows.

When I hit the stage, I said, “God give me the words, in Spanish too.” I had written down a few notes, but honestly I spoke from the heart. Not to brag, but it was one of the best presentations I have ever done in my life. I laughed, I teared up, and I shared. I talked about creating change as individuals, making a difference, and not being selfish with your time and knowledge. To be authentic.

 

So remember, speak from the heart when you have to, and it will be ok. Again thank you to Graciela Mochkofsky and her team for inviting me to the summit at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. A blog is coming soon on the Summit. Go out and inspire!

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

 

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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 Human Interest, Inspirational, Journalist

The Greatest of Us: A local TV reporter quits his job to travel the country in search of words of wisdom from total strangers

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Screenshot: YouTube

How many times have you thought of getting in your car and just driving? How many times have you thought of leaving your job and grabbing life by the you-know-what?

Well Caleb Himes is not one to just think it. He is doing it.

He recently quit his job as a reporter at KOB-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He plans to travel across the country. Caleb admits he’s a bit nervous and scared, but nothing is stopping him now.

Caleb_Himes
Screenshot: The Greatest of Us

 

He’s on the road with his two dogs and towing along an Airstream travel trailer. After ten years of reporting stories about a lot of bad people, Caleb is now determined to find the good people in this world. He is out to get words of wisdom from strangers, advice he hopes will help other people.

 

 

Here’s another beautiful part about Caleb’s adventure, he’s doing all the work on his own videos. He is shooting, editing and writing the stories. He is a super one-man-band. There is no big production team, just Caleb, his computer, a few cameras and his creativity.

My hope is Netflix, CNN, Amazon or some other big media company buys Caleb’s show “The Greatest of Us” and shows it to the world.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Caleb’s YouTube channel. If you can’t travel the country, he can bring his journey to a computer, tablet or smart phone near you.

Enjoy the ride Caleb!

Posted in Biography, Human Interest

Isn’t 60-years-old the new…

Today I turn 60-years-old. I’m celebrating my six decades of an interesting, crazy, and wonderful life. Rebecca_photo2017_500

No, I am not the kind of woman who hides her age. I’ve earned it and I’ll own it.

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Six-years-old and happy.

Dang! Six decades have past and I still remember being six-years-old.  I was the middle kid in a family of five children. When you’re the middle child you learn to speak up to get noticed. I’ve never had a problem in that department.

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Me in fourth grade.

A grew up a happy kid in a small “all-American” town. I will always be grateful that my parents settled in Napoleon, Ohio when they came here from Mexico. It is a town that continues to be full of good people.

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Dad with Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968.

I am a fighter for the people, because it rubbed off on me from my parents.

When they were not working, they were fighting for the civil rights of people of color and women.  Whether it was getting better pay at General Motors or improving working conditions for migrant workers, my parents were crusaders for good change.

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My dad and Cesar Chavez in 1972.

I needed to become a crusader for good change too. Yes, my parents inspired me to become a reporter.

 

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This is me in 1981 a month before I got my first job. Mom and Dad in other photos.

After graduating from high school and college, I got my first job in Toledo, Ohio in 1981.  I knew nothing about television news, but a news director named Paul Rae took a chance on me. Years later, I got to tell him before he passed away that he changed my life.

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My career pit stop in San Antonio. Red is my color.

My career has taken me to Toledo, Chicago, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Phoenix, Los  Angeles and Dallas. It’s been a fun ride, with a few bumps in the road, but nothing I could not survive.

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Sweet! I have won a few Emmy awards

If you see all my photos, I am always smiling. I think because I learned a long time ago to be fearless and to speak up when I know something is wrong. I have never feared bully bosses, losing a job or even people who judge me.

God does have a plan.

I have faced racism and sexism head on, and will continue fighting for equality inside and outside the newsroom. It’s in my blood.

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My beautiful family

I am a success today because of my family. A great husband, John Boos who was willing to follow me where ever I landed as a reporter. It has also been wonderful being a mother. Our son Alex is now a senior in college.

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Friends make my life complete. I am blessed to have many friends, and each one of them brings something special to my life. I have to give a shout out to my Latina girlfriends who I have met through my groups on Facebook: Wise Latinas Linked and Latinas in Journalism. Also a shout out to my Latina friends with the Dallas and Fort Worth Chapters of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas also known as HWNT.

I leave you with this. Be happy. Live your life your way. Surround yourself with good people and ignore the haters.

And ladies, stop hiding your age. People can do the math. Don’t let a number mess with your mind. There is no fountain of youth, but there is fountain of life.

If you see me this year, buy me a cup of coffee or a martini to toast my 60th birthday. Now that would be special.