Category Archives: diversity

More State of Play: Minority Journalists on the sinking ship

One thing more thing on the Russell Crowe movie: It does have plenty of minorities sprinkled in the newsroom, except of course in the lead roles. There’s the black city editor who hounds Cal. There’s a few black writers seen at their desks. And an Asian guy who could be an editor or the legal guy.

And they’re all working in a place that looks like a fire hazard.

I didn’t hear  my kids say, “Gee, Dad, I want to work there.”

It must have seemed to them  like a white collar coal mine.

Still, the lack of diversity in journalism may actually be a good thing now. Maybe minority journalists are lucky that we’re not the lead rats on the sinking ship.

I suppose that depends if journalism is LIFO (last in, first out) or FIFO (first in, first out).

In survival mode,  the state of journalism makes it impossible to sustain  any kind of racial equity.  And retention rates for talented minorities were low even before the decline of the industry. If anything, media companies will need better affirmative action programs to make sure journalism and the media business doesn’t stay all-white for another 100 years.

As both a former TV and newspaper reporter, I did note how in the journalism movie, convention has turned the glamorous TV reporter into the dramatic chorus. Formerly, a director would simply flash a newspaper headline, filling the movie screen  in bold type to emphasize a plot point.

So old school.  But soon even an anchor or a breathless reporter summing up the plot will seem outdated.

In the future, we’ll all just get twittered.

Manny Pacquiao: The Philippines’ Barack Obama?

Not since Lapu Lapu killed the colonizer Magellan (April 27, 1521) has there ever been a fighter like Manny Pacquiao.

Pound-for-pound, at 5’6″, 145 pounds, Pacquiao’s the best boxer in the world.  And he’s 100 percent pure Filipino.

All the traits are there.

He’s so religious he sounds like my mother. (“Believe in God, always pray,” he said at the news conference).  At the same time, the guy fights like a harried cock in spurs ready to bloody you to kingdom come.

And on top of it all, there’s that disarming Filipino charm.  The champ exudes charm.

It’s a formula that makes promoter Bob Arum’s jaw drop.

“He’s got a tremendous personality,” Arum told me after the baseball/boxing press conference (See it on this blog’s  first video entry). “He’s very promotable, and he’s become the best fighter in the world. That’s a dynamite combination.”

Arum should know. He had a piece of Oscar de la Hoya, the one time “Golden Boy” whom  Pacquiao turned into salsa and bean dip last December. Now Arum moves forward with Manny without missing a beat, like he’s  punching a speed bag filled with cash.

When I saw Pacquiao totally dominate De la Hoya, I wondered if Manny would ever reach the kind of media prominence that Oscar did with all his endorsements.

After all, at first glance he didn’t appear to have the same Hollywood-style of Oscar, the smooth-talking LA barrio glamour boy.

I mean, he looked like the kind of Filipino immigrant who you walk by everyday on Muni.

But Arum feels Manny’s potential is far greater than Oscar’s.

“We believe Manny has a bigger appeal worldwide than De la Hoya ever had,” Arum said. “Manny is making an impression on the world that Oscar never did. Oscar’s appeal was more regional and national. Big, but not what’s happening with Manny.”

Arum sees Pacquiao’s popularity set to rise like global warming. On May 2nd Manny moves up in class against the Junior Welterweight Champ Ricky Hatton of the UK. Billed as “The Battle of East and West,” the potential payoff to Pacquiao for the Las Vegas fight? A cool $20 million.

It’s just the beginning for a guy with Pacquiao’s irresistible “Everyman” appeal.

Indeed, the cross-promotion with the Giants was a way to test the broader market along with his ethnic base.

How did “Everyman” mesh with “Every Filipino”? Continue reading Manny Pacquiao: The Philippines’ Barack Obama?

You don’t know Tracy: The mythologizing of Sandra Cantu

Sandra Cantu was buried yesterday. Today is the public memorial.

Don’t you think it’s time to let Sandra, the Cantus and Tracy rest?

Wherever you are in the world, if you’ve been following the Sandra Cantu story in Tracy, Calif., maybe you should  figure out why it means so much to you.

The Sandra Cantu story breaks my heart-in more ways than one.

I’m sorry, of course, for the little girl and her family. I have a family and daughters. I was a coach of many youth teams including little girls Sandra’s age. I knew how dear those girls were to their families. And  I took my responsibilities seriously, protecting and caring for them  as if they were my own.

Sandra Cantu could have been my prized center half-back.

I’m also sorry for Tracy, the town. Just a few years ago I got to know it  like few others.  As a bureau reporter for the major  San Joaquin county paper, Tracy was my beat. I liked the feel of the little city of about 75,000,  primarily  a bedroom community for San Francisco and Silicon Valley. But there was also a core Tracy built around the ranches and orchards. It made for one of the most diverse communities in America. At the base were the ranchers, mostly from old Italian and Portuguese families. Mix in blacks from the South who came west in the ’40s and ’50s; Latinos and Filipinos who have worked the farmland.; Add to that all the new ethnic and economic refugees (the teacher/firefighter families)  from the Bay Area seeking more affordable homes and simpler lives, and Tracy is about as reflective of the New America as it gets. Continue reading You don’t know Tracy: The mythologizing of Sandra Cantu

Be like Jackie: The Politics of Pigment

Just as you remember to pay your taxes today, do remember to pay homage to No.42. Jackie Robinson.

He’s one of the reasons most of us don’t have to pay the tax for being a person of color in this country.

Robinson, of course, broke the color line in baseball.  Breaking the color line in anything is no small feat, whether 62 years ago or today.

Most of us do it in some way in our lives, some more, some less remarkably than others. Look around you. In your office.

Are you the only Asian, Black or Latino in the room? Continue reading Be like Jackie: The Politics of Pigment

Opening day a struggle, but Giants’ Lincecum still pride of Filipino American ball fans

Tim Lincecum, or as some Filipino Americans call him, “The Preak,” had a tough go yesterday.

During the first inning when runners reached second and third base, I told a friend of mine, “Oh that’s his white half screwing up.”

Hey, the guy’s half-Filipino, we’ll take credit for the good stuff.

Sure enough, Lincecum got the next batter to swing at a pitch, and struck out the side.  “The Filipino part is still working today, ” I said.  But not well enough. After three innings, the Preak was out of the game.  The Giants still won and that’s what counts.

This year the Giants seem like the most Filipino friendly team in the major leagues.  With Sayang Lincecum  getting his Cy Young tonight ( how’s that for you Tagalog punsters), and with the Manny Pacquiao event on Filipino Heritage night on April 21st, the Giants seem to have discovered what ethnic marketers have known for some time:  Ethnic pride and diversity develops customer loyalty and profits.

I know Gary Radnich (the KNBR talk host and a former colleague of mine from my KRON days)  has expressed how puzzled he is about a boxer being feted at a baseball game. But Pacquiao is the great Filipino-American symbol. A fighter, a champion.  Being in a market with one of the largest Filipino American populations in the country, this  is just a great  p.r. opportunity for everyone. Of course  Pacquiao is  pimping his upcoming  fight, but the Filipino community remains one of the less heralded communities in America. This shines a little much needed light on them.

The Giants great success with a losing team  has always been the fact that they’ve always  approached the business as being more than just baseball.   It’s about the park, and the people who come to it 9 innings at a time, to live their   life vicariously through the achievements of their team. Recognizing the ethnic demographics in the greater community is a great formula that can make  baseball fans for life.

When I’m at a game now,  I see so many Filipino families:  a  mom, dad, two to three kids in tow, all with their gloves. And their garlic fries.

And boy, do they love “The Preak,” who is half-Filipino.

The good half.