news director


The news director is the person who runs the news operation at a television station or network. They are the ones who choose what you see as “news” on television. In the US in 2013, only 4% were Black.

News directors are driven by two main things:

  1. Ratings – how many people watch their show. This is the number they live or die by.
  2. Pictures – What makes good television news is what makes a good picture. Thus all those fires and wars and wanted criminals and ribbon-cutting ceremonies and not, say, the dry-as-dust stuff of government policy. “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Some would add a third thing:

  1. Watchdog groups, like Media Matters, which watch to see if shows cover the news unfairly. I would not count them because they seem to have little effect. The Sunday morning news talk shows, for example, lean as much to the right as they ever did. Fox News is even worse.

To get their ratings up, they often hire a news consultant. Despite the name, news consultants do not know much about news. What they do know is how to run focus groups, small groups of people who represent the Target Demographic that advertisers want to reach (aka White people who can afford new cars) and see what they think of different news presenters and reporters. Some of them have video of almost every television news reporter in the country. This is why many people on the news seem to have more beauty than brains.


Where news directors get news from (in no particular order):

  • newspapers – which have more reporters and cover the news much more thoroughly.
  • news wires – like the Associated Press.
  • The police and fire department – a gold mine.
  • tips from viewers.
  • ideas from reporters.
  • Twitter.
  • huge news events – like 9/11.
  • the daybook – a list of the day’s events, like press conferences, ceremonies, protests, etc. Some of these are:
  • photo ops and staged events – particularly by leaders. The mayor or president would much rather you show him cutting a ribbon than have you talk about what he is not doing about poverty.
  • press releases and video news releases (VNRs) – from government, businesses, politicians and lobbyists, mostly made by public relations firms.

The last is the worst. PR firms know that news operations work under a deadline, so they serve up ready-made news, not just the words but even the video and sometimes the “reporter”! What makes it bad is that the news will use those words and pictures without telling you where they came from, be it the State Department or a herbal remedy company or wherever. It is not regarded as plagiarism because the whole point is to get that content on the news.

Martin Luther King, Jr understood that television news needed pictures and that he needed a way to show racism. He did that by filling up a city’s jail with protesters and then keep on protesting, hoping the police would then do something desperate. “Film at 11.”


– Abagond, 2015.

Sources: Pew Research (2014), “How to Watch TV News” (2008) by Neil Postman and Steve Powers.

See also:


A cross-post from James

national-black-history-us-postage-stamp-1963-emancipation-proclamationA cross-post from James:

You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger. I tell you this because I love you, and please don’t you ever forget it.

They have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. One can be, indeed one must strive to become, tough and philosophical concerning destruction and death. But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.

You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity.

Take no one’s word for anything, including mine – but trust your experience. Know whence you came. If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go. The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear.

There is no reason for you to try to become like white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love. For these innocent people have no other hope. They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men. Many of them, indeed, know better, but, as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know. To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case, the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of their identity.

By a terrible law, a terrible paradox, those innocents who believed that your imprisonment made them safe are loosing their grasp of reality. But these men are your brothers – your lost, younger brothers. And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it. For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become.

“The very time I thought I was lost,
My dungeon shook and my chains fell off.”

We cannot be free until they are free.

– James Baldwin, 1963, adapted from the letter to his nephew that appears at the beginning of “The Fire Next Time”.

See also:



Here are the words I have used most often over the past year, month after month, that are not in Shakespeare. Where possible, I give their meanings in words that Shakespeare used.

By year:

  • Before 1500:
    • 1200: November – the month before December.
    • 1400s: Asian – from Asia.
  • 1500s:
    • 1550: mostly – for the most part.
    • 1560: political – having to do with getting and keeping power in a city or country.
  • 1600s:
    • 1600: national – of a nation or country.
    • 1600: around – round or about.
    • 1620: probably – likely.
    • 1620: Muslim – follower of Mahomet.
    • 1630: Blacks – blackamoors, people with black skin, particularly those from Africa.
    • 1640: Natives – Indians of America.
    • 1680: Whites – people with white skin, particularly those from Europe.
    • 1664: New York – the largest English-speaking city in America.
  • 1700s:
    • 1716: police – the constable and his men.
    • 1769: department – a part of the state’s power, like the treasury.
    • 1772: class – a division of society based on wealth. From richest to poorest: upper class, middle class and working class.
    • 1777: American – from the US (see below).
    • 1791: Washington – the capital of the US (see below), named after the founder of the country, George Washington.
  • 1800s:
    • 1834: US – the largest English-speaking country in America.
    • 1839: thug – ruffian, or a blackamoor assumed to be a ruffian.
    • 1843: The Economist – a weekly printing of news.
    • 1854: Republican – a ruling party in the US that more strongly favours the rich.
    • 1862: racial – having to do with race, the three to seven divisions of mankind according to difference in physical appearance, like skin colour. In the US, Whites, Blacks, Asians and Natives are considered to be separate races.
    • 1867: culture – the ways and knowledge of a people.
    • 1876: lyrics – the words of a song
    • 1890: police brutality – when the police hurt or kill someone against the law.
    • 1899: 1600s, etc: the period from the year 1600 to 1699. Likewise for the 1700s, 1800s, etc.
  • 1900s:
    • 1907: television – a box that shows video (see below).
    • 1926: Hollywood – a town in America famous for making the things people watch on television and elsewhere.
    • 1932: racist – one who believes racial differences make some people better than others.
    • 1933: Hitler – the leader of Germany from 1933 to 1945. Killed half the Jews of Europe, an example of genocide.
    • 1936: racism – what racists believe.
    • 1944: genocide – the murder of a people.
    • 1944: terrorist – a rebel who uses terror.
    • 1953: stereotype – fixed ideas about people who look different or belong to another religion or country, etc.
    • 1955: Martin Luther King, Jr – a champion of equal rights for Blacks.
    • 1961: chart – the list of top-selling songs for a given week or year
    • 1972: Hispanic – someone in the US from a Spanish-speaking country.
    • 1983: video – a record of moving images and sound, one that can be seen over and over again, like on YouTube or television.
    • 1985: Internet – ??
    • 1999: blog – a place on the Internet to write for the public.
  • 2000s:
    • 2005: YouTube – a place on the Internet to watch videos.
    • 2006: Twitter – a place on the Internet to write and read short public messages.
    • 2006: Abagond – me.
    • 2009: Obama – leader of the US since 2009.
    • 2014: Ferguson – a town in America famous for an act of police brutality:
    • 2014: Darren Wilson – a White police officer who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed Black man in Ferguson.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:


Janet-Jackson-image-janet-jackson-36469731-600-750I have long liked how Ebony magazine capitalized the word “Black” when applied to Black people. But on points of English I mostly follow the Oxford dictionary. So I wrote it as “black” instead. I was certainly in good company: Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Cornel West, etc.

But then in March 2014, I started to capitalize it.

I was mainly persuaded by what Daniel K. Richter said in “Facing East from Indian Country” (2001):

“To emphasize that the identities represented by these color terms were historically constructed rather than the product of some natural or ancient inheritance, I have capitalized the words throughout.”

Further, he does not apply colour terms to people in his history till the 1700s when they themselves started thinking in those terms.

I was also persuaded by what Peter Farb said in “Man’s Rise to Civilization” (1968), another book about Native Americans:

“… I have settled upon “White.” I hope the fact that I have spelled it with a capital letter imparts to the reader that I am really not talking about any particular Caucasoids but about an abstraction – a composite of social, political and economic attitudes by certain people, whose skin is usually whiter than most of the world’s population and who behave in a certain way toward primitive peoples wherever they were encountered around the globe.”

and, as if that were not enough:

“The White is a colonizer who early developed an advanced technology; he is an exploiter of human and natural resources; he has destroyed, often intentionally, almost every alien culture he has come in contact with; and he has imposed an iron rule on the remnant peoples of these cultures.”

He does not use “European” because plenty of Europeans were not part of what went on in the Americas.

In Farb’s book it works beautifully: Whites appear as just another people, just like the Mound Builders or the Aztecs.

I agree with how Farb and Richter look at it. To me using “blacks” and “whites” (lower case) sees race as a fact of nature, like “cats” and “dogs”, while using “Blacks” and “Whites” (upper case) sees them as a fact of history, like “Germans” and “Jews”. It sees race as a social construction.

Also, I mainly use the five-race model for the US: Black, White, Hispanic, Asian and Native Americans. So if Native, Hispanic and Asian are capitalized, then why not Black and White too?

If anything, it is suspicious that White and Black are not regularly capitalized in English when applied to people. That makes it unlike every other term for an ethnic, cultural, religious, political, tribal or national group: Republicans, Methodists, Lithuanians, Basques, Navajos. The only thing like it that I can think of is “gypsy”, ugh, which just calls it further into doubt.

It is like how it seems to be more than an “accident”, oops, that Whites in the US call themselves “Americans” while calling Natives “Indians”! As if Manifest Destiny and dispossession were built right into English.

– Abagond, 2015.

See also:


Here are the most beautiful women in the world according to Kenya. Well, at least the English-speaking, online-content-creating part of it as filtered by Google Images:


1. Lupita Nyong’o (1983- ), a Mexican-Kenyan actress, best known for playing Patsey in “12 Years a Slave” (2013), for which she won an Oscar. People magazine in the US named her the most beautiful woman in the world in 2014. Four of its top ten appear on this list: all three of its Black women and one of its White women.


2. Aishwarya Rai (1973- ) is a Bollywood actress and winner of Miss World in 1994. In 2008 she was the most beautiful woman in the world according to Google Images.


3. Olympia Owira is a Kenyan actress and model.


4. Kerry Washington (1977- ), an American actress, is best known for playing Olivia Pope on “Scandal” (2012- ). In 2014, People magazine named her the tenth most beautiful woman in the world.


5 Elizabeth Faith Sakwe is the adopted daughter of Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan.


6. Vera Sidika (1989- ), a Kenyan model, is one of Kenya’s curviest women and one of Nairobi’s most beautiful – at least according to the websites that appeared in this search. She has bleached her skin and enlarged her breasts. I have seen pictures of her on Tumblr, better than the one above.


7. Juliana Kanyomozi (1982- ) is a Ugandan singer.


8. Gabrielle Union (1972- ), an American actress, is probably still best known for starring in the cheerleader film, “Bring It On” (2000). She tried out for the part of Olivia Pope but lost out to Kerry Washington. She also loses out to her on this list. People magazine, though, considers her more beautiful, putting her at number seven in 2014.


9. Jenna Dewan-Tatum (1980- ) is an American dancer and actress. In 2014 People magazine named her the third most beautiful woman in the world. Never heard of her.


10. Tiguida Sissoko is a Malian model who lives in Paris. I have seen pictures of her on Tumblr, better than the one above.

Honourable mention:


Tiwa Savage (1980- ), a Nigerian singer, would have beat out Tiguida Sissoko but she was in a group photo of beautiful Lagos women, so I could not count her individually. What a beauty!

How I made the list: I searched for the most beautiful women in the world using Google Images but limited the search to just those websites that end in “.ke”, the top-level Internet domain for Kenya (like what “.uk” is for Britain). I took the top ten women who appeared alone in a picture and who could be identified. That means group photos and stock photos were not counted.

Why Kenya? I looked at the top ten of 28 different countries (that have at least a million people who know English) and liked Kenya’s the best.

You might think that countries that are mostly Black would have top tens that are also mostly Black. That is not always true. Here are the top four or five for different African countries. Click to enlarge:















South Africa:


– Abagond, 2015.

See also:


slaveries compared


Slavery is not merely forced labour but where said labourers can be bought and sold, where they become a form of property. That makes it different than, say, serfdom, military conscription or prison labour.

Some slaves were worked to death, like in Haiti, Barbados or in the mines of the Roman Republic, while others got Sundays off or became military commanders. In some societies, slaves were seen as less than human, while in others they were seen as merely unfortunate. Cruelty and dehumanization are not necessary features of slavery.

Slavery started out as a side effect of war: the losers would be made into slaves, like the women of Troy after its fall. Societies grew to depend on slave labour. That increased demand, which led to slave raiding, slave trading, slavery as a punishment for crime, slavery as a way to pay off debts, and so on.

That meant that slaves were often foreigners, but often they were not. The idea that slavery is about “race” was rare before the 1700s, even though masters and slaves were often from different races.

Also rare before the 1700s were people who questioned the morality of slavery. It was seen as an evil, yes, but a necessary one. In the Bible, for example, St Paul urges slave masters to be kind to their slaves, if not free them, but he never condemns them for owning slaves. It was common for people to want to reform or limit slavery, but it was not common for them to want to outlaw it completely.

At the heart of slavery lies a paradox: a slave is property and yet is also human.

Most societies have dealt with this paradox by trying to balance the property rights of the master against the human rights of the slave. As humans, slaves were seen as wanting to get married, own property, go to court, be freed, etc. And, from Sarah and Abraham in the Bible all the way down to Muslim law, a slave woman who gave birth to her master’s child was protected against being sold off. Said child was often made free or even legitimate.

This balancing was true for Greeks and Romans, for Arabs and Turks, for Africans – and even for the Spanish and Portuguese.

But not for White Americans.

As their name suggests, they built their society and their sense of who they are on race. That comes in part from how they dealt with the paradox of slavery. Instead of trying to balance the property rights of masters against the human rights of slaves – they denied that slaves were truly human! To make this believable, they said that Africans looked different than Europeans because they belonged to a different “race”, a heretofore unsuspected division of mankind, made up almost on the spot (and later dutifully “proved” by Western science), so that they could say that people who look even a little bit African are not truly human. Black lives do NOT matter.

– Abagond, 2015.

Source: “Race in North America” (2012) by Audrey and Brian D. Smedley.

See also:



This Michael Jackson song went to #1 on the US R&B charts in 1979. It is still a great all these years later. One of his best in my opinion.


[1st Verse]
Lovely Is The Feelin’ Now
Fever, Temperatures Risin’ Now
Power (Ah Power) Is The Force The Vow
That Makes It Happen It Asks No Questions Why (Ooh)
So Get Closer (Closer Now)
To My Body Now Just Love Me
‘Til You Don’t Know How (Ooh)
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

[2nd Verse]
Touch Me And I Feel On Fire
Ain’t Nothin’ Like A Love Desire (Ooh)
I’m Melting (I’m Melting)
Like Hot Candle Wax Sensation (Ah Sensation)
Lovely Where We’re At (Ooh)
So Let Love Take Us Through The Hours
I Won’t Be Complanin’
‘Cause This Is Love Power (Ooh)
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

[3rd Verse]
Heartbreak Enemy Despise
Eternal (Ah Eternal)
Love Shines In My Eyes (Ooh)
So Let Love Take Us Through The Hours
I Won’t Be Complanin’ (No No)
‘Cause Your Love Is Alright, Alright

Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Lovely Is The Feeling Now I Won’t Be Complanin’ (Ooh Ooh)
The Force Is Love Power
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Keep On With The Force Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
[Ad-Lib To Fade]


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