I recognize the patronizing voice in
American reporting about countries struggling to find their way out of
chaos or recently overturned dictatorships. It rings of the arrogance that too often
accompanied our foreign aid, when it wasn’t politically incorrect to
refer to used cans of cooking oil as “appropriate technology” for Third
World women fetching water.
It hit me a few days ago. Next year will
be the 20th anniversary of the bloody Easter uprising at Ohio’s crowded,
racially tense maximum security prison at Lucasville. That deadly riot, the longest prison riot in American history, was The Enquirer’s finest hour.
Given the news media’s historic reticence
about admitting screw-ups, I have no idea whether we are more or less
ethical than in recent decades. What has changed is the likelihood that
unspeakable puffery and blatant conflicts of interest are likelier than ever to be caught and publicized.
WVXU’s decision to hire retiring Enquirer politics reporter Howard Wilkinson is the rare bright spot in the increasingly constricted world of local news gathering. Adding him to WVXU’s reporting staff
scored a twofer for news director Maryanne Zeleznik. In addition to his
sense of local and state politics, Howard is as passionate and
knowledgable about the Reds.
Rarely do foreign journalists’ brutal
criticism of American actions or policies get space or time in our
mainstream news media. That’s too bad. What passes for comment and
debate here is a pretty constipated exercise.
I finally watched the 30-minute online video, Kony 2012, calling for the capture or killing of African terrorist Joseph Kony this year. With an estimated 100 million views so
far, it’s an interesting example of manipulation of social media.
A printed news source
I can’t do without comes unfailingly in the mail: seed catalogs.
Forget Hindu, Jewish, Chinese or Gregorian new years. Delivery of the
first seed catalogs starts my new year before Thanksgiving.
Atlanta publisher Andrew B. Adler’s “kill
Obama” column challenges my “fight-words-with-words” standard response
to vicious publications and speech. It never should have been
published. No, he’s not a racist, anti-Semitic crank
or advocate of sex among boys, clerics and coaches. Sick as they are, I
wouldn’t muzzle them so long as they are willing to accept the
Dwelling on any presidential aspirant’s
personal history, proposals and promises invites accusations of bias
that mainstream news media fear most. That might explain reluctance to
hammer Ron Paul for views he espouses now or previously published.
Religion continues to bedevil politics
reporting. News media prefer the simplicity of characterizing elections
as horse races until there is a winner. Religion beyond clichés
complicates politics. If voters are to appreciate the implications of
campaign thrust and parry, it’s time to yoke religious and political
reporters for the duration.
Poynter Online director Julie Moos is correct, I’m a plagiarist. I
sometimes use others’ words in this column. While attributing the
words and ideas to the original writers, I don’t always put their
words inside quote marks. That’s not good enough for Moos. It
was his failure to maintain that level of attribution purity that
drove out veteran aggregator Jim Romenesko from the Poynter website.
He always told us where he got his material but he sometimes used
those sources’ language without direct quotes.
increasingly militarized local police — helmets, assault rifles,
black uniforms and boots, etc. — using excessive force more often
than previous generations? Or
has technology — cell phones and YouTube — made any use of force,
whether excessive or justified, easier to document?
its Page 1 story on public employee “perks” last week, The
Enquirer was doing a pretty good job of playing pre-election
partisanship down the middle. That
story — which required a major page 1 correction — embraced the
paper’s historic Republican and anti-union demons. The timing was
too neat; the subject could have been explored in many ways at any
time. Almost on the eve of the Issue 2 ballot, it was no