Monday, January 11, 2010

Director's Notes: A New Year, A New Look

Monday, January 11, 2010

  • Amid the budget cuts, layoffs and bankruptcies in journalism, one beat has prevailed. The rise in the number of social media directors has created what calls "journalism's hottest jobs." About 200 social media directors now are on the payrolls of newspapers, magazines and broadcast news outlets. Most have been hired in the last two years. Forbes media writer Dirk Smillie says "their job is to tweet, ping, blog and friend-find throughout the day."
  • The old saw that death comes in threes rang true last week with the passing of a journalism hero, a legend and a stalwart. Deborah Howell, Eunice Johnson and Marcia Slacum Greene also were role models in advancing diversity and widening opportunities for women in journalism.

  • Howell, 68, died on New Year's Day in New Zealand, where she was struck by a car while on foot. At age 34, she became city editor of the Minneapolis Star. Four years later, she jumped to the rival St. Paul Pioneer Press, where she served as managing editor, then executive editor. She later became chief of Newhouse Newspaper chain's Washington bureau. From 2005 to 2008, she was the ombudsman of the Washington Post. Howell, according to her New York Times obituary, "repeatedly ascended professional heights that had been the near-exclusive province of men, earning accolades for her toughness, curiosity and enthusiasm."

  • Johnson, 93, gave Ebony magazine its name, according to a tribute in the Chicago Tribune. She was the widow of Johnson Publishing Co. founder John H. Johnson and served as secretary-treasurer of the company. The flagship publication, conceived as an African-American version of Life magazine and published since 1945, was named by Mrs. Johnson to reflect the mystique of the fine black ebony wood.

  • Greene, a Washington Post reporter and editor for more than 20 years, died after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer. Greene, 57, was an active in the National Association of Black Journalists and became city editor of the Post in 2006, as posted on Richard Prince's Journal-isms online column. She was married to Jackie Greene, former president of Unity: Journalists of Color.

  • Kudos to McCormick grantee Salome Chasnoff, who recently was honored by Women's eNews as one the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century and the winner of the Ida B. Well Award for Bravery in Journalism. Chasnoff, executive director of BeyondMedia, copped the honors for her commitment to improving the lives of women and girls. BeyondMedia is a founding member of the Chicago Youth Voices Network, a collaborative group of McCormick Foundation student media grantees.

  • Every little ray of sunshine helps brighten up the spirit. The Wall Street Journal reports that a year-end flurry of ad spending helped moderate steep declines at some newspaper and magazines and fueled an uptick at others, raising hopes for a recovery in 2010. While there is reason for gloom in the mainstream media, the impending doom may be exaggerated. Let's not lose sight that global advertising spending on newspapers and magazines still reached nearly $150 billion last year.

  • The week of Jan. 8 will find the Journalism Program staff putting the final touches on the 2009 Military-Media Conference Report, announcing winners of our first Chicago youth media technology grants and embarking on a strategic planning exercise designed to provide a 10-year vision for the McCormick Foundation.

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