Bylines  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   October 1994

Bylines   

By Chip Rowe
Chip Rowe, a former AJR associate editor, is an editor at Playboy.     


The X Set

It had to happen sooner or later. The X Journalists Association, as in Generation X, as in twentysomethings. Dean Smith , an arts and entertainment reporter at the Charlotte Observer who just hit 30, and Dennis Romero , 25, a former Observer intern who now reports for the Los Angeles Times , have no firm plans for the group but plenty of ideas. It developed out of regular meetings held by young Observer reporters with Deputy Features Editor Sandy Hill to discuss how to entice their peers to read newspapers. Romero suggested they take the concept nationally. So far the loose-knit association has a database of some 150 journalists who have been identified as under 35 and plans to launch a newsletter and electronic bulletin board. "We didn't just want to create a platform for bitching and whining," explains Smith. The Xers also hope to encourage better coverage of their generation. "You get these boomer editors who are very egocentric about their youth culture," says Romero. "They think everything's rock 'n' roll."

Double Jeopardy

In one of his final stories for the Boston Herald , reporter Ed Cafasso lands an interview with the state's attorney general about funds missing from the campaign coffers of Mayor Raymond Flynn ý How'd he do it? The attorney general was interviewing Cafasso for a job as his spokesman. Cafasso says that when the interview ended, he made it clear he was speaking as a reporter and asked about the investigation. The response was on the record and something the rival Globe didn't have. Cafasso, who was hired six days later for the $62,500 job, says the negative coverage the incident received (namely in the Globe) was "sour grapes on the part of the [journalists] I used to compete with." Herald Editor ndrew Costello disagrees, saying Cafasso "put himself in a compromising position" by asking questions in a situation that might have affected his objectivity.

Inside Magazines

Newsweek hires Karen Schoemer to oversee coverage of pop music and pop culture. Schoemer, a former editor at Spin , was most recently a freelancer. "I've been able to do some slightly offbeat stuff that isn't what you'd expect in

˜ewsweek," says Schoemer, 29, including a piece on lounge music. "The magazine is trying to seem smart, which is admirable.".. We reported recently that Ann Morrison had left Fortune to become editor of the Hong Kong-based Asiaweek . Her husband, Donald Morrison , travels with her, taking over as editor of Time Asia . He had spent 22 years at Time before joining Entertainment Weekly in 1990.

Love and War

Bill Wyatt , news anchor and talk show host at W57BZ-TV in Martinsville, Virginia, loses his job after a public airing of his extramarital affair with a station saleswoman, Ramona Hines . Wyatt admitted to the affair after a rival cable station aired a series of interviews with Hines, who had been fired. Wyatt was fired himself after Hines phoned him during a call-in show he hosted and they bickered on air. Ironically, Wyatt remains at the station as a member of its board of directors and principal stockholder – two positions, he notes, from which he can't be dismissed. He says that because his former lover is "a beautiful girl" who "makes good TV," she has gotten plenty of air time to tell her story, including an appearance on "The Maury Povich Show."

Political Leanings

KXAS-TV in Fort Worth suspends anchor Mike Snyder for two weeks after he appeared at a rally hosted by local Republicans. Snyder served as the master of ceremonies at a picnic that included an appearance by gubernatorial candidate George W. Bush , son of the former president. News Director David Overton says that Snyder's involvement was "inappropriate," and that despite charges to the contrary by some viewers, the suspension had nothing to do with the anchor's political views. "The truth be known, most of us share them," Overton says. "The real issue is what we are able to do as journalists in public." Overton, who says he's received piles of hate mail since suspending Snyder, says viewers "saw Mike standing up and saying, 'I'm a conservative gun owner' and being punished. I spent a half hour with one congressman on the phone and could not make him understand" why Snyder had been disciplined.

Trouble Overseas

Things have not been pleasant for colleagues elsewhere in the world: The Associated Press Ðreports that in Togo, two journalists who reported that the nation's military ruler may have used $555,550 in aid money to buy a rocket-proof Mercedes Benz were convicted of besmirching his honor. In Gaza, Al-Nahar , the newspaper shut down by Yasir Arafat , was back on the streets after 36 days (see Free Press, July/August). Even so, the official line has not changed. "There are no restrictions on the Palestinian press," a senior Arafat official told reporters, "with one exception, that it should not be against the interests of the Palestinian people." In Cambodia, two vocal newspaper editors have died during the past four months, the first found in the street, the possible victim of a beating, the second fatally shot last month (see Free Press, March 1993). Finally, following an edict by Haiti's military junta that it would not tolerate "subversive" journalism, a popular weekly newspaper was forced to close shop for the third time in four years after its staff received death threats.

N.Y. Times Loses Two..

Anna Quindlen , 42, who won a Pulitzer in 1992 for her op-ed page column, departs at the end of the year to become a full time novelist, while Gwen Ifill , 39, who was recently taken off the White House beat, leaves for NBC . "During her 17 years at the Times as a reporter, editor and columnist," the paper says, Quindlen "has published five books and became the mother of three children." Which was more difficult is open to debate. Ifill, meanwhile, says her reassignment was the "catalyst" for her decision to leave. "The Times gave me many reasons [for the change], but none were too satisfying," says the 17-year print veteran. "NBC's offer was too good to resist and the timing was right."

..And Gains One

The Times names John Geddes , a former top editor at the Wall Street Journal , as business editor. He succeeds William Stockton , who resigned in May. According to reports, Dan Hertzberg , the Journal's national editor, and John Huey , recently promoted to the number two spot at Fortune , turned the job down. Times Executive Editor Joseph Lelyveld says Business Day is next in line for "revamping," and the section will get an infusion of resources after Geddes arrives. Geddes spent 14 years at the Journal and was overseeing national coverage when he left last year to join Friday Holdings, a media development company founded by former Journal Executive Editor orman Pearlstine . The firm is expected to break up now that Pearlstine has been named to succeed the retiring Jason McManus as editor in chief of Time Warner.

At the Peacock

Brian Williams , the 35-year-old reporter who has been anointed by some observers as the next Tom Brokaw , takes over as chief White House correspondent. Williams, who continues his duties as anchor of the Saturday evening news, succeeds Andrea Mitchell , who becomes chief foreign affairs correspondent. Besides Gwen Ifill of the Times, the NBC Washington bureau also hires correspondents Bob Faw , a 17-year veteran of CBS , and John Palmer , who spent 26 years at NBC before joining Monitor television and radio.

Other Network News

According to Oprah Winfrey 's Harpo Productions, Rick Kaplan , executive producer of ABC 's "World News Tonight," and Roger Goodman , the newscast's senior director, considered bolting to the Chicago-based firm last month for a development deal. While an Oprah spokeswoman told Electronic Media that the men had "indicated to us that if they were to be freed up [from their contracts], they would be interested in joining Harpo," the network has a different take on the situation. "They'll be staying," spokesman Gary Morgenstern says flatly. Meanwhile, ABC names Julie Johnson , who most recently covered Congress for Time , to keep tabs on the Justice Department... Erik Sorenson , executive producer of the " CBS Evening News," asks for a new assignment. No successor yet, and no explanation from Sorenson or CBS.... Washington assignment editor David Shuster leaves CNN to become a reporter at KATV in Little Rock.

Passings

Michigan's 14,470-circulation Ypsilanti Press closes its doors after 90 years, while the 16,200-circulation Press-Courier in Oxnard, California, does the same after 95... Whittle Communications has suspended efforts to create an interactive news and information network for doctors and lays off 200 more employees (see Bylines, May).

Inside Newspapers

The San Francisco Chronicle nabs sports columnist Joan Ryan from the rival Examiner and hires ean Wakefield , most recently with the Los Angeles Times , to oversee its op-ed page... Ronald Thorn-burg , who left as editor of Vermont's Burlington Free Press following a lawsuit by a former reporter (see Bylines, May), becomes managing editor of the Standard-Examiner in Ogden, Utah... Tamar Stieber loses a suit in which she accused her employer, the Albuquerque Journal , of discrimination. Stieber, a Pulitzer Prize-winning special projects reporter, says her duties are the same as two male investigaters on staff but that the men are paid more (see Bylines, July/August 1993). The judge ruled that Stieber's allegation was "an apples and oranges comparison." He has yet to rule on her claim that she was punished for complaining... Juan Garcia , managing editor of El Diaro-La Prensa , and Aileen Gelpi , metro editor, take over as co-editors of the New York-based dailies. They succeed Fernando Moreno , who now edits the weekly insert, Mira ... The Milwaukee Journal names Eugene Kane , a Philly native who joined the paper in 1981, as a metro columnist.

Local Television Feeds

Here's a Herculean task: A new half-hour program in Philadelphia will cover sports teams at more than 300 area high schools. A local cable firm, meanwhile, has expanded its 24-hour news channel, which includes no anchors, no reporters and no film at 11. Instead, the station creates on-screen newspaper pages and fills them with photos, headlines and stories from the wires and nearby dailies. The text is then read aloud by an off-screen announcer. Roger Fidler would have a fit (see page 34)... News Director Scott Benjamin leaves WHP in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a week after starting his new job there and returns from whence he came, Rochester, New York, to look for work. A former WHP anchor, he met with the station's new general manager, John Feeser , three days after his arrival. "We agreed that it would probably not work down the line," says Feeser; Benjamin could not be reached for comment.

Associated Press

George Esper , who has been in Hanoi since he helped reopen AP's bureau there last October (see Bylines, December 1993), returns to his regular assignment as a correspondent in Boston. He's succeeded by Katherine Wilhelm , who leaves Beijing after seven years.... Gerald LaBelle , a correspondent in Cairo, becomes bureau chief there. He succeeds William Mann , who returns to Washington.

Inside the Beltway

Bill Hamilton takes over as national editor of the Washington Post . Formerly in the Los Angeles bureau, he succeeds Fred Barbash , now reporting from London. Also, reporter Christine Spolar leaves L.A. for Warsaw at the first of the year... James Gannon , Washington chief for the Detroit News , steps down to begin a column for Gannett News Service and to write a novel. He's succeeded by deputy Jacqueline Thomas .

The Last Word

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