by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
hope Nelson Mandela is alive and healing when you read this. He’s an
old man with a persistent and probably lethal lung problem born from
decades in prison.
colleagues in the ANC are preparing the country for his death and the
news media are full of calls for prayer, admonitions against futile
hopes for recovery, and assurances that Mandela is getting the best care
possible without making him miserable and sicker.
he's died since I wrote this on Tuesday, he lived a life of dignity and
service. By example, he led South Africans of all races and ethnicities
into a post-apartheid era with good will and high, if unreal, hopes that
someday, the wrongs of apartheid might be erased.
more than 50 years, I’ve followed his career with an interest that few
others provoked. My active appreciation began during graduate school in
London where I prepared for a career in Africa. Mandela, Sisulu and
others were heroes of the anti-apartheid movement. Their efforts to end
violent, toxic white minority rule in South Africa was companion to the
growing momentum for independence in Europe’s African colonies,
protectorates and overseas provinces.
of change” was shorthand for all of this but no one expected it to blow
away the racism and segregation of South African apartheid.
That so-called “separate development” of South Africa’s various racial
groups was even, then, anything but development. If anyone doubts it, look
at the generations impoverished by separate education and training and
how this burdens the aspirations of today’s black majority.
the time I reached Southern Africa in late 1963, Mandela and others were
on trial, accused of sabotage and conspiracy. Blacks, whites and
Indians, they were leaders of the armed wing of the African National
Congress. In plain words, they were revolutionaries. In mid-1964, all
were convicted and most were sentenced to life in prison. They could
have been executed. Mandela already was in prison, convicted of
illegally leaving (and re-entering) the country.
weekly Zambia News and then daily Zambia Times — hundreds of miles to
the north — were able to report with freedom unknown in South Africa. We
benefited from the freest journalism in Southern Africa, including
Southern Rhodesia, Southwest Africa, and Portuguese Mozambique and
Mandela dies, it’s going to be fascinating to see what obits and
commentaries focus on: terrorist, lawyer, prisoner, statesman, president
and like Cincinnatus, a leader who walked away from power.
Funk, one of the best student journalists I was lucky enough to teach,
was arrested recently for not moving swiftly enough to please cops in
The Charlotte Observer’s religion reporter, Tim was covering a local demonstration by local clergy at the state legislature in Raleigh.
is saying nothing, under orders from his bosses, until after his
mid-July court appearance. However, his paper said authorities claimed
Tim, “who covered the statehouse in the 1980s, failed to move away from a
crowd of about 60 that was demonstrating and peacefully surrendering to
arrest.” He “was handcuffed and taken along with the arrested
protesters to the Wake County magistrate’s office to be arraigned on
misdemeanor charges of trespassing and failure to disperse.
Weaver, police chief for the General Assembly Police in Raleigh who
oversaw the arrests, told The Associated Press that Funk did not heed a
warning from officers to disperse before the arrests began.” The paper
said Tim was released late that same night.
believe there was no reason to detain him,” said Cheryl Carpenter,
Observer managing editor. “He wasn’t there to do anything but report the
story, to talk to Charlotte clergy. He was doing his job in a public
online reader commented that it probably was no accident that Tim was
among the first arrested; that assured he could not report how police
dealt with demonstrating clergy. Readers also noted how zealous police
tested federal constitutional guarantees with their orders to disperse:
freedom to assemble and petition government and freedom of the press.
2012 survey of almost 900 American TV journalists found roughly 20 percent
showing signs of burnout and uncertainty whether they will remain in the
Reinardy, associate professor of journalism at the University of
Kansas, said TV news staffs increased by 4 percent, revenue was up, and
stations were producing more content than ever before, often as much as 5
1/2 hours more per day. “I wanted to see how all of that played into
burnout,” Reinardy said.
KU press office reported his study. He said that questions about
exhaustion, cynicism and professional efficacy found that respondents
who reported higher levels of exhaustion also reported lower levels of
organizational support, while those who reported higher levels of
professional efficacy — or satisfaction in their jobs — reported higher
levels of organizational support.
reported that 81 percent of his respondents said they work differently “than a
few years ago.” Many have increased social media responsibilities, are
expected to produce content for multiple platforms and have more
said, ‘I can’t do this much longer,’” Reinardy said. “You’re probably
going to see the TV business get younger, a little more inexperienced
and, as a result, there will be a loss of institutional knowledge, which
doesn’t bode well for community journalism at any level.”
waiting for conservative pundits to wonder aloud how Republicans can
tell us to trust the National Security Agency while assuring us, "Government
is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." I guess
it’s the same mental gymnastics that reporters find when legislators
kill money for family planning and do all they can to assure that
low-income women can’t get abortions.
• A good sex scandal ages well even if protagonists don’t.
In the early 1960s, party girl Christine
Keeler almost brought down the British government. She shared beds of
British Secretary of State for War John Profumo and a Soviet spy, naval
office Yevgeny Ivanov.
the time, there were public assurances all around that her activities
were sexual, not Cold War espionage; pillow talk was erotic, not
Now, the London Daily Mail says Keeler’s new book includes her admission that she helped
her friend, society osteopath Stephen Ward uncover secrets about
missile movements in the West that were later passed to the Soviets.
“However I dress it up, I was a spy and I am not proud of it. The truth is that I betrayed my country.”
Sunday Mirror also quotes Keeler as saying, “The Establishment was far
more interested in painting it as a sex scandal and chose to ignore
claims of a widespread spying network. Far better that the Establishment
be caught with its pants down than involved in stealing secrets. That
was the thinking.”
Ward, who introduced young women to rich and powerful men, often at
country houses, committed suicide as he became the scapegoat in the
was at UPI in London at the time. Keeler is right. There was a
political/aristocratic Establishment and its first concern was its own
survival. For months, we treaded lightly as we reported seemingly
unrelated events without connecting them in fear of ferocious, costly
the unreported stories we heard and traded proved to be less salacious
than the facts as they came out. Profumo probably would have escaped
with modest embarrassment had he not been caught lying to the House of
Parliament about the affair. That breach of the Establishment’s
expectations of a Gentleman, and not widely held suspicions of Soviet
espionage, brought him down.
Morning Edition on NPR included the kind of remark that fuels
conservative conviction that public network is a coven of Lefties. The
host was asking a foreign reporter about the different responses of
Turkish and Brazilian leaders to ongoing street protests. After the
reporter offered the political context for the seemingly accommodating
reaction of the Brazilian president, the host suggested that the Turkish
prime minister hadn’t responded to young protesters there. First, the
host was wrong. He responded. Second, it was obvious that the Turk’s
response wasn’t acceptable to the NPR host because it was hardline
rather than accommodating.
Morgan Freeman stars as Nelson Mandela in Eastwood's newest film
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood's 'Invictus' could mistakenly be considered the story of Nelson Mandela's first days as president of South Africa. It's not that story at all. In typical Eastwood fashion, he has produced and directed something more basic and elemental than that because the film is nothing more than a bare recounting of a country and its first inspired steps toward unification. Grade: B plus.