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Michael J. Feeney in His Own Words: Celebrating The Career of WNBC-TV News Anchor Sue Simmons

VIDEO: What's The 411TV Pays Tribute to the Life of Michael J. Feeney

What's The 411TV pays tribute to the life of journalist Michael J. Feeney with this video when he celebrated the career of the legendary veteran news anchor Sue Simmons of WNBC-TV at an event sponsored by Essence magazine, the New York Association of Black Journalists, the Black Employees at Time Inc.

Michael Feeney worked for the New York Daily News and was president of the New York Association of Black Journalists, where he helped young aspiring journalists enter the news business including those in NYABJ's high school journalism program. Michael Feeney had landed a new job at CNN just prior to his death. 

Michael Feeney passed away on January 31, 2016, at the age of 32 years. He will be remembered as an exceptional journalist with tremendous promise and an outstanding leader

The Essence Music Festival Expands to Durban, South Africa

ESSENCE Festival Durban will follow the format of the annual New Orleans event

The Essence Music Festival expands to Durban, South Africa. A three-year partnership has been formed with eThekwini Municipality to host the ESSENCE Festival in Durban, South Africa in 2016 and 2017, announced ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks and eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo at Durban City Hall. This will be the first international ESSENCE festival.

Each year, the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans draws more than 450,000 attendees from across the globe to its multi-day entertainment, empowerment and cultural event, which generates an economic impact of more than $200 million to the local economy.

"We are delighted to partner with the vibrant city of Durban to launch the Essence Festival globally in South Africa," said Ebanks about the expansion. "Hosting our first international ESSENCE Festival in Durban purposefully extends our mission to convene the diaspora around shared aspirations."

Mayor Nxumalo said the city of Durban had made waves internationally in the past two years by hosting a number of high profile events, which will now include the Essence Festival to further cement Durban as a choice international destination. Nxumalo said the ESSENCE partnership would continue to focus on the development of women and youth in business. A number of women-owned businesses will be selected to trade at the Festival which will boost their profile and drive sales for the company.

"This partnership will have a host of benefits for residents starting with the Durban Business Fair (DBF) program which strives to connect local businesses globally. The Fair is taking place simultaneously with the Essence Festival launch announcement," he said.

"For more than 20 years, the ESSENCE Festival has brought thousands of people together in New Orleans from near and far to celebrate a world-class event," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu, City of New Orleans. "I am thrilled that this festival is now expanding internationally to Durban, South Africa. The people of New Orleans know first-hand that the ESSENCE Festival has not only enhanced our cultural economy, but it has also made a meaningful impact across the community through service and personal empowerment."

Each year, the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans draws more than 450,000 attendees from across the globe to its multi-day entertainment, empowerment and cultural event, which generates an economic impact of more than $200 million to the local economy.


  • Published in Concerts

Time Inc. Fires Essence Editor Constance White

Veteran journalist Constance C.R. White is no longer the Editor of Essence magazine. She did not leave to get another job or to retire; according to reports, Time Inc. relieved Ms. White of her duties on Friday.

What's The 411 interviewed Ms. White about a year ago at the New York Association of Black Journalists' Awards Gala and she was so excited about delivering the best magazine product to black women.

What's The 411 also interviewed Ms. White in late November 2012 at the BCA Global Food and Wine Experience (around 9:30), and she was still the biggest cheerleader for Essence and by extension black women.

However yesterday, according to reports, Time Inc. was tired of her advocacy for diverse stories for and about black women and decided it was time to let Ms. White go.

According to published reports, Time, Inc. increasingly made an effort to "limit the way black women were portrayed."

White disagreed with this new direction and constantly had disagreements with her bosses and they eventually told her that her services were no longer needed.

In 2000, Time Inc. purchased 49 percent of Essence Communications Inc., a publishing company that published Essence magazine and other magazine titles. Essence Communications also produced the Essence Music Festival.

In 2005, Time Inc. made a deal with Essence Communications Inc. to purchase the remaining 51 percent it did not already own. The deal placed the ownership of the 34-year-old Essence magazine, the country's number one magazine targeted to black women under white ownership.

Iconic News Woman Sue Simmons Reflects on Her Career at NYABJ Event

VIDEO: The New York Association of Black Journalists, Essence, and the Black Employees at Time held a reception to celebrate the career of the legendary WNBC-TV news anchor, Sue Simmons

Former WNBC-TV news anchor, Sue Simmons, gave What's The 411 correspondent, Andrew Rosario, a wide-ranging interview about her career in broadcasting. Off camera, we learned that as Ms. Simmons neared 30-years-old, she realized that secretarial work would not provide her the lifestyle that she was looking for or the personal fulfillment. Consequently, she decided to go to broadcast training school.

As the need to have more African-Americans in the newsroom presented itself, Ms. Simmons was prepared. Although she was prepared from broadcast training school, it was a bit frightening to have a job in broadcasting because she had no work experience in journalism.

She worked two years in New Haven, Connecticut as a consumer reporter and then became an anchor in Baltimore.

In 1980, Ms. Simmons came to New York City to get the big job as an anchor in the number one market. In taking this job, she was thankful that she was born and raised in New York City. However, it was a double-edged sword. She was nervous because it was her home and because she was home, it helped to minimize her nervousness. Surprisingly, it took her five years to get over her nervousness.

There were a few Black women reporters at WNBC-TV at the time, but none had the primary anchor position. Many thought that Ms. Simmons wouldn't last and that because she was so full of fun that she would crash and burn.

Ms. Simmons retired from her job 32 years later, so much for crashing and burning.

Reflecting on her time at WNBC-TV, Lena Horne, an African-American Award–winning jazz and pop music singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist, was her best interview because she admired Ms. Horne's courage for breaking through racial barriers. Ms. Simmons said that she was so thrilled about the interview, she could hardly think straight.

Does she miss her job?

"I tell you the truth, I don't miss a lot about the day-to-day, said Ms. Simmons. "But, I'm like a former athlete, I miss the clubhouse, you know I miss the mixing it up with my co-workers, and dinner and laughing, that's what I miss."

Ms. Simmons is a huge sports fan. It is one of the reasons she got into broadcasting. She credits her father with making her sports fan. There was one television in the house and since her father watched sports, she joined him.

Now that she has retired will there be a book in her future?

"I have not had the endurance or courage to start that yet," said Ms. Simmons.

Although Ms. Simmons is not starting her book quite yet, she is consciously taking it one day at a time; and has made time to appear on Law and Order, Wendy Williams, and Joy Behar.

"If an inviting job comes along, I'll take it, but I am in no hurry. I've worked for 40 years."

Essence Magazine Editor Constance C.R. White Spills The Tea

VIDEO: Essence magazine editor Constance C.R. White spoke to What's The 411 correspondent, Andrew Rosario, at NYABJ about the changes at Essence

One of the latest changes at Essence is that the magazine lowered the age of the average reader. It did so while still keeping the legacy reader, the foundation of the magazine. A multi-generational magazine reaching women from age 16 to 66, Essence has elevated the look of the magazine, while still advocating for and celebrating Black women.

The interview was conducted at the NY Association of Black Journalists annual gala.

Michael J. Feeney Presides Over Successful NYABJ Gala

VIDEO: Feeney elated that his first NYABJ gala is successful and will provide resources for NYABJ's initiatives; Robert J. Naylor, Jr. and Gil Noble honored

What's The 411's correspondent, Andrew Rosario, checks in with NY Daily News Reporter and New York Association of Black Journalists President Michael J. Feeney at the NYABJ annual gala.

Mr. Feeney talks about the revitalization of NYABJ by providing more programs for its members, internship opportunities for students, and through the extension of scholarships for aspiring minority journalists.

Additionally, NYABJ was proud to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to veteran journalist Robert J. Naylor, Jr. and a posthumous award to the late Gil Noble, a legendary veteran journalist who was a staple at WABC-TV News with his weekly news commentary show, Like It Is.

Essence Editor Susan Taylor Offers Pearls of Wisdom

VIDEO: Susan L. Taylor, Essence Magazine, Executive Editor speaks on preparing for greatness

Susan L. Taylor, Essence Magazine, Executive Editor spoke with What’s The 411’s co-host Amelia Moore about how to continue to elevate ourselves to greatness, as well as, characteristics needed for entrepreneurship.

Some of the keys that Ms. Taylor pointed to include the importance of having faith in ourselves, knowing our history, strengths, and know that the spirit within us is human and divine.

“Every day we take what I call quiet time and press away from the world and get still and get in touch with the spirit within us, Taylor advised. “Whether we call that spirit Allah, God, Jehovah, Yahweh, Beauty, Divine Order, whatever it is, know that you’re more than you seem, you’re human and divine and we need to be in touch with that divinity. With that divinity, with divine awareness, there’s nothing you can’t do.”

“Very, very true,” Moore responded.

So what advice would Susan Taylor give to entrepreneurs?

First, you have to have a vision. God gives us an inexhaustible supply of creative ideas. You need to know that successful people write the good ideas down, think about them critically, and put them to good use. The not so good ideas, they put them aside. Whatever is not your strong suit, you should take a class. For example, if you’re not good in finance then take a class so you will better understand the principles of good recordkeeping.

“So often people want to be in business, but they don’t want to do the work,” Ms. Taylor stated.

“We need to prepare ourselves for business and we need to support each other,” she added.

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