Category Archives: News Now

President Trump will visit Western Wall in Jerusalem, but Prime Minister Netanyahu can’t come along

 

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The Western Wall: Photo by Rebecca Aguilar

When you visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, you can see up close why it is considered the holiest place for prayer by the Jewish people. I was there last week during a journalism fellowship with Fuenta Latina, a nonprofit that educates reporters about Israel today.

Every year, millions of Jews from all over the world visit the wall to pray. Tourists who are non-Jews also visit the wall to pay their respects. Men and women pray in separate sections. 

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Men and women pray separately at the Western Wall/Photo by Rebecca Aguilar

Next week when President Donald Trump goes to Israel he will make a stop at the Western Wall. He will be the first U.S. sitting President to do so. Other presidents have visited the sacred wall but as private citizens.

People in Jerusalem I talked to are curious to learn more about the billionaire turn reality star turn U.S. President.  From hotel clerks to taxi drivers they told me they look forward to Trump’s visit to Israel. but wonder if he will create more chaos than peace. 

Trump is already getting bad press in Israel because it appears he has snubbed Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli TV Channel 2 is reporting that Trump’s delegation has not only turned down Netanyahu’s request to go with Trump to the wall but also someone from the delegation insulted Israeli officials claiming the wall was not Israeli Territory.

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Each year a millions of Jews visit the Western Wall/ photo by Rebecca Aguilar

Tuesday National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster at a White House briefing confirmed “No Israeli leaders will join President Trump at the Western Wall.” McMaster would not confirm or deny whether Trump believed the Western Wall was not Israeli territory when asked by reporters.  

The wall is the only remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.  Israelis seized the Western Wall in the Old City from the Jordanians, along with East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, and it is not officially recognized internationally as Israeli territory.

Rebecca Aguilar is an award-winning freelance reporter with 35 years experience. She was part of the May 2017 Fuenta Latina Fellowship to Israel.

 

 

 

 

USA Today takes down tweet comparing United Passenger to Rosa Parks after backlash

The USA Today tweet got my attention. It read “Is United Airlines passenger Dr. Dao an “Asian version of Rosa Parks?”

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As a reporter, I knew they were quoting someone who made that statement.  My relatives who are not journalists thought USA Today was making the comparison between Dr. Dao and civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

It appears they were not the only ones, because USA Today immediately faced backlash on Twitter.  One tweet read “Point out the lady or gentleman who gave the thumbs up on this article.” Another tweet posted “Congratulations, this by far, the most ignorant headline of the week.”

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USA TODAY HEADLINE TOLD THE STORY, TWEET WAS UNCLEAR

The USA TODAY headline on its website read “United passenger’s lawyer says he’s gotten emails comparing client to Rosa Parks.”  Now that should have been the tweet. 

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USA Today chose not to use the same headline that was on their website, a decision that does not make sense. It could have been shortened, made the story crystal clear and avoided criticism.

AVOID WHAT MAY APPEAR TO BE CLICK-BAIT TWEETS

Today we want everyone to click into our stories because competition is tough. And I know that writing interesting and sometimes bizarre headlines can attract readers.

Let us not forget that many people make up their minds and quickly over one tweet without ever clicking into the story.  That’s why it is important to be clear and informative in 140 characters.

A reader will give you one chance and you can blow it in one tweet.

USA Today corrected its mistake. As I was writing this blog, I noticed it took down the original tweet and replaced it with a new tweet that makes more sense ” United passenger’s lawyer says he’s gotten emails comparing his client to Rosa Parks:”

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As I say over and over “Think before you tweet.”

CNN, NY Times, LA Times, Politico and BuzzFeed News blocked from White House Briefing

Donald Trump is abusing his power again.

Trump staff blocked CNN, New York Times, LA Times, BuzzFeed News and Politico from White House briefing today. These news outlets have been breaking big stories involving the President and he doesn’t like it.

According to the New York Times reporters from the Associated Press and Time magazine who were allowed into the briefing but decided not to attend in protest. The off-camera briefing took place in Sean Spicer’s office.

Fox News anchor Brett Baier also gave his opinion on Twitter. He recalled when Obama administration attacked and attempted to ban Fox News from briefings. Guess who stood up for them?

 

Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary talked to CNN about the press being banned  “Press secretaries should meet with all press because it is unwise and counterproductive to do. Your relationship and obligation is to all media.” Fleischer believes the block was not a threat to the First Amendment.

STAND TOGETHER PRESS 

We should be speaking up as journalists and go straight to them on Twitter: Trump, Spicer and Preibus. Also journalism organizations should be very vocal on this issue and stop this from happening again.

We have a job to do, and should not be bullied, intimidated or blocked from getting to the truth.

#NotTheEnemy

Fort Worth Star-Telegram wants to improve trust in journalism and reaches out to readers for help

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The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is doing something every news outlet should be doing today. The newspaper is reaching out to readers via a survey to get their advice and gain their trust again.

“Your participation will help your local journalists and the journalism industry serve you better. With that in mind, would you be willing to meet with one of our journalists for one hour, at a place and time convenient for you, to discuss this further?” – FW Star-Telegram

We’ve all seen the studies that show that the majority of the public does not trust the press and it doesn’t help that President Trump calls us “fake news.” The Star-Telegram is making the right move. Check out the survey.

Today we need to know what readers, viewers, and listeners want and not what we believe they want.

 

 

A fallen soldier comes home and the emotional moment his wife put her hand on his coffin

Lisa West Williams was on a flight home with Shawn Thomas. Passengers were asked to wait as the Green Beret’s flag-draped coffin was taken out of the airplane at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Williams caught the rest on video including Thomas’ widow in an emotional moment.

Williams posted the video on her Facebook page “It was an honor to fly home with this PATRIOT! God bless his wife and family. There was not a dry eye around me.”

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Thank you to all the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, and their families too. You can’t help but cry for this woman and her family.

More on Shawn Thomas death and service to country at Yahoo News.a

Grieving Army Widow Meets Her Husband’s Coffin on Airport Tarmac, Leaving Plane Passengers in Tears 

Stop using term ‘White Hispanic’ we come in different shades, enough said

Let’s stop the use of the term “White Hispanic” especially if you are a journalist.  We as Hispanics do not use that label. We come in different shades but that’s about it.

On the day of the deadly shooting in Fort Lauderdale, Tariq Nasheed went on Twitter and used the term “White Hispanic” to describe the suspect. The self-proclaimed “Anti-racism strategist” tweeted:

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Yes, I heard the term used during the George Zimmerman case, but again that does not make the term acceptable including in news report or social media posts.

People on Twitter slapped Nasheed with harsh criticism for using that term. He found no problem using “White Hispanic” because the government uses it.

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Nasheed has yet to respond to my tweets. I’m waiting.

Take it from me, as a person who has been a Hispanic for more than 50 years. We don’t use that term and we don’t divide our people. And as veteran journalist, we know better as reporters not to use government terms when telling a story.

Learn from Tariq Nasheed’s mistake.

Hispanics are Hispanics.

2016’s Best National TV Journalists: Jake Tapper, Gretchen Carlson, Tom Llamas, Jim Acosta

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Brave, bold, fearless and fair is how I would describe the four national TV news anchors and correspondents I have chosen as my best for 2016. As journalists we should all want to model after the work done by Jake Tapper, Gretchen Carlson, Tom Llamas and Jim Acosta. In a business that is challenged by fake news and “wannabe news celebrities” these four journalists are the real “truth seekers.”

 

JAKE TAPPER: THE BEST TV NEWS INTERVIEWER, SPIN NOT ALLOWED

If you want to learn how to be a great interviewer, all you have to do is watch Jake Tapper every day on CNN.

He uses solid facts to push for the truth and doesn’t allow anyone to add spin to an answer. Whether he is talking to a politician or someone who happens to be where news is breaking, Jake digs deep and peels off the layers.

Thanks Jake for teaching journalists how to do an interview with determination and class.

 

 

GRETCHEN CARLSON: THE WOMAN WHO EXPOSED SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN TV NEWS 

Gretchen Carlson changed life for women in TV news.

In 2016, she exposed sexual harassment in the newsroom and on the way took down one of the most powerful men in the business AKA Roger Ailes. He had all the power to do what he wanted when he ran Fox News and he did just that. Under his rule, women had to be beautiful, wear body hugging dresses, shorten the hems and show lots of leg when on-air.

 

But when Ailes’ power turned to sexual harassment, Gretchen skillfully planned how to expose him. She filed a lawsuit. Her former co-workers at Fox News, including several women turned on her. Shame on them! Not even current Fox princess, Meygan Kelly had the courage to speak up until she had to especially when it was time to promote her book.

 

Eventually Ailes was shown the door with a 40 million dollar paycheck, and Gretchen settled too. Thank you Gretchen for giving women in news the courage to stand up, speak up in our newsrooms even if it means losing a job. We do matter more!

 

 

TAKING CHARGE ON THE DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN TRAIL:  JIM ACOSTA AND TOM LLAMAS 

Jim Acosta of CNN and Tom Llamas of ABC News lived out of suitcases during the 2016 presidential campaign covering Donald Trump’s every move. They were unstoppable as they pursued the facts even when Trump and his supporters aimed their angry, ugly words and actions at them.

 

To become a good reporter you have to be fearless when seeking the truth.  Well Jim and Tom proved they don’t get angry or even, they just get the job done.

 

 

Jim and Tom are also two of the few Latinos covering the political beat on a national level. They are role models to many Latino/Latina journalists coming up the ranks.

 

Tom and Jim thank you for showing us journalists to push forward when a wall of angry words hit you right in the face from all angles.

 

 

Who will be the best in 2017? Stay tuned.

Update: President of the Latin Grammy Awards addresses issue of press told not to ask winners any political questions

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Gabriel Abaroa the president and CEO of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences told reporters that presenters, nominees and winners were never discouraged to talk about their political stand at the Latin Grammy Awards on Thursday.

But the same didn’t go for the media.

Gaby Natale the creator and host of SuperLatina was covering the event. She posted on Facebook that Grammy organizers told the press not to ask the celebrities any questions about politics.

After the awards, she and other entertainment reporters wanted answers from the president of the Academy.

He said the nominees and presenters always do what they want when they perform, say what they want during their acceptance speeches and that type of  freedom has never changed. Albaroa admitted he was concerned the Latin Grammys would be perceived as political that could have financial ramifications.

Here’s Gaby’s video:

I’ve translated some of Abaroas statements:

(:30) “We try to concentrate on the music and what happened today. And if you believe the Academy should take a position politically over a topic, we’ll think about it, consult about it, and talk about….”

(1:39) “We did not talk with any artist or told them what they should or shouldn’t say during their acceptance (speech). We’ve never done that and never will”

(2:32) “If we establish ourselves as a political platform, we can do it in the country that we live in… but remember we are international. ”

(3:07) “When we are here (press room) we are trying to help them focus on the music and the awards…”

MY OPINION

Whether covering a political race or a red carpet event, as reporters we should never be told how to do our job. Thank you Gaby Natale for speaking up on this issue.

 

 

Remembering Gwen Ifill, a fair and fearless journalist

I admire good journalists. I admired Gwen Ifill for everything she had accomplished in the world of journalism. I met her once at a journalism conference. She was surrounded by many journalists, all of them fans of hers.  When I heard of her passing on Monday, I remembered three of my favorite Gwen quotes.  Rest in peace Gwen.

 

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Kelly Ripa returns to show says drama ‘started conversation…respect in the workplace’

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Screenshot: Live! with Kelly and Michael

Live! with Kelly and Michael is the syndicated morning show millions of American’s turn to every morning. But for the past few days viewers have been caught up in the show’s drama.

Last week, Michael Strahan announced on the show that he was leaving to join Good Morning America, but his co-host Kelly Ripa had no idea. She was blindsided.

Obviously upset, Ripa decided not to show up to work until Tuesday morning. Kelly took center stage alone as the audience gave her a standing ovation and a warm welcome. I thought Strahan appeared uncomfortable.

Ripa called the drama a “bizarre time” and added “I needed a few days to gather my thoughts after 26 years with this company I earned the right.”

She said what happened to her “started a conversation about communication, and consideration and most importantly respect in the workplace.”

I’m sure what happened to her has happened to many of us. We feel Ripa’s pain.

Roll the video…


Bigwigs at ABC and Disney which owns the show have apologized to Ripa. But let’s face it, a blindside is a slap in the face and that sting is hard to forget.

Shame on the bosses who left her out of the loop. Shame on Strahan for not letting Ripa know he was leaving. Ripa helped him get on the show, and that’s the thanks she gets.

Even if Strahan was sworn to secrecy he could told the bosses “I need to tell my co-host and that’s all there is too it.”  He had an opportunity to man up and failed miserably.

Thanks Kelly for speaking up.