0 Comments · Wednesday, May 29, 2013
If sources begin to think twice about
contacting us in any fashion other than midnight meetings in darkened
parking garages, public service reporting will become an endangered
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 29, 2013
THURSDAY MAY 23: Most people wouldn’t feel that great
about taking a job when one of the tasks at hand is to find your own
replacement, but that just goes to show you how disconnected average
people are from the world of corporate executives (they get $1.6 million
signing bonuses, you dumbass!)
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 22, 2013
TUESDAY MAY 21: The hits just keep on coming for
Abercrombie & Fitch. After recently being called out for
discriminatory hiring practices, its Hollister Co. brand has been found
guilty of discriminating against shoppers with physical impairments.
by German Lopez
'Enquirer' riles up angry readers with incomplete report
Even though some members of Mayor Mark Mallory's staff
are getting double-digit raises, the mayor's budget is actually being
downsized to rely on less staff members, ultimately shrinking the mayor's
office budget by $33,000 between July 1 and Dec. 1.Some
of Mallory's staff obtained raises because they will be taking up the
former duties of Ryan Adcock, who left earlier in the month to help lead
a task force on infant mortality and will not be replaced. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported
the raises earlier today, but the story at first did not mention that
the budgetary moves will ultimately save the city money. The "Enquirer exclusive" includes a "tell them what you think" section in which citizens can email the mayor's office and copy Enquirer editors. The story was later updated to include the overall savings, though The Enquirer posted a separate blog titled, "Mallory getting an earful on raises," which was a collection of angry emails to the mayor based on the original version of the story.CityBeat
acquired a memo written by Mallory that outlines the rest of the
plan, which will produce savings: "I will not replace Ryan Adcock on my
staff. Instead, I have divided his responsibilities among my remaining
staff. In addition, I will not hire the two part-time staffers that I
had considered hiring. The additional work in the office will be
supplemented by unpaid interns."In
addition, I have enacted internal savings in order to return $20,000
from my FY 2013 office budget to be used for the FY 2014 city budget.
Finally, in preparation of the Mayor’s Office Budget for FY 2014, I am
reducing my office budget by $33,000 for the remaining 5 months of my
spokesperson Jason Barron says the mayor will also not be replacing
staff that leaves from this point forward, which could produce more
savings down the line. As of 6:30 p.m., The Enquirer's homepage still prominently displayed the story out of context, suggesting that the raises will add to the city's $35 million deficit.Shawn Butler, the mayor's director of community
affairs, was given an 11-percent raise; Barron, the mayor's
director of public affairs, was given a 16-percent raise; and Arlen
Herrell, the mayor's director of international affairs, was given a
20-percent raise. Adcock also obtained a 20-percent raise briefly before
leaving, which Barron described to CityBeat as a budgetary technicality.Since
Mallory is term-limited, Barron says the savings will only apply to
Mallory's remaining five months. The mayor who replaces Mallory in
December will decide whether to keep or rework Mallory's policies.Last
year, Barron was paid $66,144 in regular pay, Butler was paid $71,349,
Herrell was paid $59,961 and Adcock was paid $66,049, according to the
city's payroll records. But Barron explained that those numbers were
higher because last year happened to have an extra payday. Under normal
circumstances, Barron is paid $62,740 a year, Butler is paid $67,760,
Adcock was paid $62,740 and Herrell is paid $62,031.
by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
VanBenschoten’s reporting on both sides of the river has won her the
new position of Northern Kentucky news columnist at the Enquirer. We’ve
been friends since she was an undergrad in my ethics class. I had the
pleasure of holding up a copy of the NKU’s paper, The Northerner, and
showing our class her first page 1 byline. She was editor of NKU’s
paper, The Northerner, and worked for a Northern Kentucky weekly where
she regularly broke stories ahead of daily reporters. I warned the
then-editor of the Kentucky Enquirer to follow Amanda’s work because,
“she’ll eat your lunch.” Soon after, that wise editor hired Amanda. I’m looking forward to Amanda finding her own voice after years of
Aiken died this month. We’ve been colleagues and friends for more than
four decades. My wife and I moved to Cincinnati in 1967 and subscribed
to the Enquirer. I called Scott to compliment the analyses of foreign
events for which he’d been hired on the Enquirer editorial page. After
swapping tales about our work overseas and people we knew there, he
offered to introduce me to Bob Harrod, the local editor, who hired me
for weekend reporting. It was the perfect antidote to grad school. That
began 30-plus years at the Enquirer for me. Scott and I stayed in touch
after he left daily journalism for corporate public relations. Our
friendship survived my reporting of accusations of illegal wiretapping
by Cincinnati Bell; Scott was head of the telephone company’s public
relations. Our last lunch shared stories of his and Anne’s visit to
Rome. Sheila McLaughlin’s obit on March 9 covers his career admirably,
including Scott’s accidental matchmaking for a young
• Urbi et orbi.
Accusations of omission and commission by Pope Francis when he was a
priest and Jesuit leader during Argentina’s murderous “Dirty War”
demonstrate how religious leaders risk charges of collaboration when a
dictatorship falls. Recent examples taint the Russian Orthodox Church
and South Africa’s Dutch Reform Church. But it’s a rare priest who rises
to the modern papacy without the historians, news media and others
questioning their careers. Pius XII is accused of being too close to
Nazi Germany as diplomat Cardinal Pacelli before World War II. John
XXIII was the subject of debate whether, as a chaplain sergeant in World
War I, he gave Italian troops the order to leave their trenches, “go
over the top” and attack. Fourteen-year-old Joseph Ratzinger was drafted
into the Hitler Youth near the end of World War II, something everyone
learned when he became Benedict XVI.
200-plus complaints about papal coverage moved NPR ombudsman Edward
Schumacher-Matos to admit he, too, was “pope-ed out.” One listener
wondered if NPR stood for National Papal Radio? Schumacher-Matos blogged
that “NPR aired 69 stories since Pope Benedict
XVI announced his resignation Feb. 11 and Pope Francis was selected as
his successor Wednesday. That averages out to about two radio magazine
or call-in segments per day, not including the steady drumbeat of
shorter items delivered by hourly newscasts that are not transcribed. Most
of the complaints have concerned the 47 stories that aired in the four
weeks between the day after Benedict announced his resignation and the
morning before Francis was announced — a period during which there was
less major news about the subject and more ‘horse-race’ speculation
about who might be selected.”
course, there was a Cincinnati connection to the papal election: Janice
Sevre-Duszynska, a contributing writer to Article 25, Cincinnati’s
street paper dedicated to human rights, was detained by Italian police
for demonstrating at the Vatican for women’s ordination. The French news
agency, AFP, missed her connection to Article 25, identifying her only
as “an excommunicated female priest” from Lexington, Ky., and a member of
the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. It was unclear whether
Sevre-Duszynska was arrested or removed as a distraction when cardinals
assembled to elect a new pope. AFP did not respond to CityBeat
questions about her detention. She was dressed in liturgical robes and
carrying a banner, “Women Priests are Here.” AFP quoted Sevre-Duszynska
as saying, "As the cardinals meet for their conclave to elect the new pope, women are being ordained around the world! There are already 150 female priests in the world. The people are ready for change."
as I would have loved to be back in Rome covering the election of the
pope, there was an even better assignment that kicked my envy into
overdrive. The Economist sent a reporter on 112-day road trip through
and around Africa. I once hoped to travel the mythic Cairo Road from
Capetown to Cairo. Not going to happen. The Economist’s reporter did
that and more. He found more cause for cautious optimism than is
reflected in typical stories of rebellion, massacre, poverty, disease
and stolen elections.
did Cincinnati Business Courier take down its online story about Henry
Heimlich’s attempts to save his reputation and that of his Heimlich
Maneuver? Granted, it wasn’t flattering, but it didn’t go beyond what
Curmudgeon has reported. Reporter James Ritchie forwarded my request
for an explanation and editor Rob Daumeyer responded, “Thanks for asking, but we don't have anything to add for you.”
like the tabloid Enquirer. I worked on daily and weekly tabloids
overseas; it’s a familiar format. Whether readers enjoy turning pages to
find stories promoted on section covers is uncertain; with logos, ads
and visuals, there’s little else. Inside, long stories jump from page
to page to accommodate reduced page size. I hope Enquirer editors
recognize the power of the back page in each section and treat it as
prime news space. And I’m looking forward to reporters and editors
learning to produce sharp, short stories suited to tabloids; it still
reads like the old Enquirer.
Notes on Feb. 20 shouldn’t take credit for Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster
over Obama’s assassination by drone. However, the Kentucky Republican
echoed Curmudgeon’s anxieties whether Obama will use drones to kill
Americans in our country. To his credit, Paul’s almost 13-hour standup
routine forced an answer from prevaricating Attorney General Eric
Holder. Holder’s letter repeated and answered Paul’s question: "Does the
President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an
American not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer to that
question is no.” Perfectly clear? No. Who defines combat? Deadly
confrontations with feds at Ruby Ridge, Wounded Knee, or David Koresh’s
Branch Davidian Ranch near Waco, TX?
Cliff Peale is probing the costs of post-secondary education and how
many recent debt-burdened college grads can’t find full-time employment
requiring their costly degrees. Coincidentally, Cincinnati Business
Courier reports how local vacancies for skilled workers threaten the
region’s economy. Is the conventional wisdom — everyone must earn a BA
or more — undermining our economic security? Maybe Peale can probe high
school curricula and counseling to see if capable students are being
steered away from well-paid blue collar careers and into crippling debt
for degrees of dubious value. Maybe it’s time to interview welders,
carpenters, plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, etc., to find out
what their ROI (Return on Investment) is.
• It’s an old problem: courtiers mistaking their privilege of emptying the king’s chamber pots for royal power. Poynter.org reports this example from the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service:
Rosenzweig, a staffer for Vice President Joe Biden, ordered Capital
News Service student reporter Jeremy Barr to delete photos he took at an
event in Rockville, Md., when Biden announced an anti-domestic violence initiative.
quoted Rosenzweig, saying, “I need to see your camera right now.” She
called Barr’s presence in the non-press area an “unfair advantage” over
the other members of the media (whatever that meant). Rosenzweig watched
him delete the photos, Barr said, and then she looked at Barr’s iPhone
to make sure no photos were saved there.
assumed that I’d violated a protocol,” Barr told Capital News Service.
“I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she was following proper
Dean Lucy Dalglish complained in a letter, saying, “Rockville is not a
third-world country where police-state style media censorship is
expected.” Biden press secretary Kendra Barkoff responded with an
apology to Dalglish and Barr.
My comment: Dalglish is a lawyer. Before taking the dean’s job she was executive
director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. It’s
ironic that her student reporter didn’t know there is no “protocol” or “proper
procedures” that required him to give up his images. He should have
held on to his images and phone and told Rosenzweig to fuck off.
• Intimidating a student reporter (above) wasn’t a first for Biden’s staff, jimromenesko.com added. “After the vice president made a remark during the presidential campaign that Republicans would put voters ‘back in chains,’ Politico’s Jonathan Martin reported the veep’s staff ‘tried to edit media pool reports for any potential landmines that could be seized on by Republicans and even hovered at close range to eavesdrop on journalists’ conversations with attendees at Biden rallies’.”
evince an unnatural fascination with our dead ambassador at the U.S.
consulate in Benghazi. Often, in their frenzy of blame, Obama critics
mistakenly call the torched facility the “Embassy.” Ignorance now
appears to be nonpartisan. Maybe repetition has warped liberal minds.
For instance, in her blog on the thedailybeast.com, Caitlin Dickson repeated the error. In Libya, our embassy is in Tripoli, the capital.
says media worldwide were suckered by a satirical column on the
Internet about Nobel-winning economist, professor, columnist and blogger
Paul Krugman declaring bankruptcy.
The Boston Globe’s boston.com wasn’t immune. Under
the headline, “Paul Krugman Files Chapter 13 Bankruptcy,” someone using
the nom de plume “Prudent Investor” wrote that “Paul Krugman, the king
of Keynesianism and a strong supporter of the delusion that you can
print your way out of debt, faces depression at his very own doors.
According to this report in Austria’s Format online mag, Krugman owes
$7.35 million while assets to his name came in at a very meager $33,000.
This will allow the economist and New York Times blogger to get a feel
of how the majority of Americans feel about their dreadful lives . . . “
says Globe editor Brian McGrory told Washington Post’s Erik Wemple,
“The (Krugman) story arrived deep within our site from a third party
vendor who partners on some finance and market pages on our site. We
never knew it was there till we heard about it from outside.” The paper,
McGrory says, did “urgent work to get it the hell down” from boston.com.
McGrory adds, “The idea that we’d have a partner on our site is
actually news to me” and the Globe plans to “address our relationship
with that vendor.”
comment: the editor of New England’s dominant daily has a “third party
vendor” who provides content for business pages and the editor doesn’t
know what that content is?
• Paul Krugman, who isn’t bankrupt (above), responded tongue in cheek on his New York Times blog, The Conscience of a Liberal. “OK, I’m an evil person — and my scheming has paid off. On
Friday I started hearing from friends about a fake story making the
rounds about my allegedly filing for personal bankruptcy; I even got
asked about the story by a reporter from Russian television, who was
very embarrassed when I told him it was fake. But I decided not to post
anything about it; instead, I wanted to wait and see which right-wing
media outlets would fall for the hoax. And Breitbart.com came through! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go give a lavishly paid speech to Friends of Hamas.”
Standard senior writer Matt Labash’s March 18 column suggests he’d be a
great guy to meet in a bar. Here’s a sample: “ . . . there are enough
headline-hunting researchers making enough questionable discoveries
(about health) that the four shakiest words in the English language have
come to be, ‘a new study shows’.” And here’s another: “I am a
professional journalist. It’s my job to pretend to know things that I
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 6, 2013
I hope the tabloid Enquirer holds current subscribers and attracts new readers, especially folks who are drawn more to the visual than the verbal. Publisher Margaret Buchanan promises its debut Monday. Trucks will bring it from Columbus, where it’ll be printed on Dispatch presses.
by Ben L. Kaufman
satirical website, The Onion, added kiddie porn to the Academy Awards. It tweeted about the 9-year-old Oscar nominee for Best Actress:
“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is
kind of a cunt, right? #Oscars2013.”
Miss Wallis was nominated for Best Actress in Beasts of the Southern Wild.
and new media exploded with contempt but few spelled out the “C-word.”
Most offered the first letter and asterisks: C***.
Onion took down the tweet in about an hour and Onion CEO Steve Hannah
crawled back on Facebook. He wrote, in part, “I offer my personal
apology to Quvenzhané Wallis . . . for the tweet that was circulated
last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive . . . No person
should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading
wrote that “We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to
ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again. In addition, we
are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible.
“Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry.”
papa vecchio. Viva il papa nuovo! Did anyone else notice that Benedict
was driven to his helicopter in German cars? I didn’t recognize one
macchina italiana among the black sedans. At the helicopter, a papal
aide belted Pope Emeritus into his passenger seat. He knows the drill;
Benedict is a licensed pilot who has piloted a chopper from the Vatican
City to the summer villa at Castel Gandolfo. He left this flight to the
Italian Air Force. CBS followed Benedict’s chopper from liftoff to
arrival in suburban Castel Gandolfo about 15 miles southeast of Vatican
City. Boring video. Really boring. Obviously, CBS feared missing
something if anything went wrong. It’s the same reason the press
travels with the president...
Benedict really wants to live out his days in the Vatican City, why
would he leave Castel Gandolfo? That lovely Alban Hills town was a
favorite for long lunches when I worked in Rome: a great view over Lago
Albano, wonderful pollo al diavolo and fresh trota.
Cincinnatians don’t read the Enquirer. They never did. However, they
often are affected by reporters watchdogging government and businesses
that rarely appreciate the attention. In recent years, no one was better
at this vital First Amendment function than the Enquirer’s Barry
Horstman. His coverage of the Cincinnati city pension fiasco and other
issues was vital to public awareness. He died last week after a heart
attack in the newsroom. Barry was a good man and a fine reporter. When
then-editor Tom Callinan hired Barry despite a chill on new hires, it
was a coup. The city gained a seasoned investigative reporter who
understood the necessity of depth in reporting and writing; quickie
stories don’t suffice when public millions are involved. After Barry’s
memorial service, Callinan told me, “It was an important message to the staff that while we may have fewer people we will have the best. He was that and more.”
Mazzola and Julie Irwin Zimmerman have returned to the Enquirer. I’ve
worked with both; it’s good news. Randy is a talented graphic artist. If
the new tabloid format is to work, visuals are vital. Julie is a fine
reporter and writer. At different times, we both covered religion.
never understand the news media fuss about snow storms in the Plains
states and Midwest. It’s winter. Snow happens. Plows clear streets.
Kids slide. Image-hungry TV is the worst. They just don‘t get it. Sort
of like Cincinnatians who try to drive up Straight or Ravine streets or
West Clifton Avenue after an inch of snow. Those of us who grew up with
snow storms expect traffic snarls. We keep warm stuff in the trunk in
case we must drive but get stuck. We mumble, “I am not going to die of a
heart attack shoveling snow.” Then we shovel. Or hope a neighbor kid
tackles the job.
love snow. It melts and nourishes their crops, replenishes their wells
and waters their cattle. Blizzards can kill but drought is worse. This
by AP via the London Guardian: “Meteorologist Mike Umscheid of the
National Weather Service office in Dodge City, Kansas, said this latest
storm combined with the storm last week will help alleviate the drought
conditions that have plagued farmers and ranchers across the Midwest,
and could be especially helpful to the winter wheat crop planted last
fall. But getting two back-to-back storms of this magnitude doesn't mean
the drought is finished. ‘If we get one more storm like this with
widespread two inches of moisture, we will continue to chip away at the
drought, but to claim the drought is over or ending is way too
premature,’ Umscheid said.”
don’t know the laws governing public records in South Africa, but two
inexplicably tardy news stories suggest that inattentive reporters were
dazzled by the premeditated murder charge against the Olympic gold medal
winner Oscar Pistorius. He’s the double amputee sprinter and that
nation’s most famous living athlete.
took days after Pistorius shot his girlfriend to report that Hilton
Botha, chief police investigator and disgraced star witness at
Pistorius’ bail hearing, already was charged with seven counts of
attempted murder arising from a traffic stop. Botha reportedly shot at
the van and its seven occupants and his bosses took him off the case
when the attempted murder charge made news.
later, reporters told us that Oscar Pistorius’ brother Carl faced
imminent trial, charged with unlawful negligent killing/culpable
homicide after his car collided with a female motorcyclist.
Oscar Pistorius murder case is perfect for the American news media:
hero athlete killer, lovely blonde victim. Oh, we’ve done that story.
Here’s a different angle for reporters: releasing Pistorius on bail
wasn’t a race issue; it’s what happens in almost any country where a
rich and famous person hires the best legal defense possible. Oh, we’ve
done that story. Repeatedly.
is white, but even in race-conscious South Africa, fame and cash can
speak louder than color. If you doubt me, look up the criminal record of
Jacob Zuma, a black man and a longstanding leader in the ruling African
National Congress. A South African judge acquitted him of rape in 2006,
saying the unprotected sex was consensual. In 2005 and again in 2007,
Zuma was charged with corruption, racketeering and tax evasion.
Prosecutors dropped charges, saying political interference fatally
tainted their case. Zuma was elected president of South Africa in
love a good hoax and "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid" on YouTube was delicious.
Reactions illustrate the credulity of old and new media and people who
believe what they see/read online. BuzzFeed.com
freelancer Chris Stokel-Walker said the video got “17 million views
within a day, just shy of 42 million views in total, 14 million minutes
in viewing time in the U.S. alone, embedded on major news websites worldwide,
broadcast on morning talk shows and linked from countless message
boards — which proved this in historically impressive style.”
traced the hoax to Professor Robin Tremblay’s video-effects class at
Centre NAD, a technology university in Montreal. “In October, he
challenged his students — as he did the previous two semesters — to make
a viral hoax video. If it got more than 100,000 views, then
congratulations, you got an A.”
students created "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid." Twenty minutes after
showing the video to their class, they uploaded it to YouTube and
adjourned to a local bar.
Portuguese teenager Tiago Duarte spotted the hoax. "It looked so fake
to me," he told Stokel-Walker. "The main thing that gave it away was the
baby falling down. It really looked like a 3-D model to me." He went
online and "every single person was believing it, and the top comment at
the time was something like, 'If you want to say this is fake, you
better provide some proof.' So I did."
said “it took the 17-year-old less than five hours to debunk a
month-and-a-half's worth of work. Duarte used his video editing skills,
uploaded his version of "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid" to YouTube and proved
effects of a helter-skelter search for cheaper health care can be
deadly, as British news media have revealed. In a reality that recalls
Sarah Palin’s fantasy “death panels,” the British government is paying
incentives to hospitals to reduce the number of beds occupied by the
response is for physicians to hurry patients into the hereafter by
withdrawing nourishment, hydration and medical treatment. Without
intended irony, Brits call this lethal option Liverpool Care Pathway
(LCP). Revelations are beyond sensational. Here’s part of a National Health Service press release:
LCP is intended to allow people with a terminal illness to die with
dignity. But there have been a number of high-profile allegations that
people have been placed on the LCP without consent or their friend’s or
family’s knowledge. Concerns have also been raised about hospitals
receiving payments for increasing the number of patients who are placed
on the LCP . . . (A)s we have seen, there have been too many cases
where patients were put on the pathway without a proper explanation or
their families being involved.” Worse, some patients or families didn’t
give required permission.
• London’s Daily Mail, among those most actively pursuing the Liverpool Care Pathway story (above), wrote Sunday that:
“Leading doctors have claimed NHS
patients are being routinely placed on the controversial Liverpool Care
Pathway by out-of-hours medics who are ‘strangers’ who have never been
involved in their care. The claims suggest patients are often left to
die on . . . ‘bedside evidence’ alone and without fully understanding
the patients’ condition or medical history.
LCP has been the subject of much debate since it was introduced in the
1990s. More than 130,000 people are put on it each year but it was
revealed in December 60,000 patients die on the procedure each year
without giving their consent.
have been raised that clinical judgments are being skewed by incentives
for hospitals to use the pathway. Health trusts (that run National
Health Service hospitals) are thought to have been rewarded with an
extra £30million ($45m) for putting more patients on the LCP. Critics
say it is a self-fulfilling prophecy because there is no scientific
method of predicting when death will come.”
a story that any reporter could do: did the advent of ubiquitous urban
and suburban school busing — for whatever reasons — cause or coincide
with the explosion of K-12 obesity? News media are full of obesity
stories bemoaning fat Americans and blaming everything from school
lunches, fat, salt and sugar to oversize portions of everything. Maybe,
just maybe, it has more to do with the end of walking or biking to
cafes aren’t Starbucks spinoffs where philosophers and others have
spirited conversation as they sip soy milk hemlock lattes. (Gift cards
are one-use only.) Rather, death cafes are where people can talk about
what comes next. This growing movement appears to be news to
Cincinnati-area news media. Huffington Post tipped me to Columbus, Ohio,
leadership in the U.S. death cafe movement. Here’s some of what HuffPost
and others reported:
met on a Wednesday evening in a community room at a Panera Bread near
Columbus for tea, cake and conversation “over an unusual shared
curiosity. For two hours, split between small circles and a larger group
discussion, they talked about death: How do they want to die? In their
sleep? In the hospital? Of what cause? When do they want die? Is 105
too old? Are they scared? What kind of funerals do they want, if any? Is
cremation better than burial? And what do they need accomplish before
life is over?
Lizzy Miles says the latest gathering included new and previous
attendees plus a public radio reporter. “I set the ground rules. No
recording during the Death Café. He had to participate as a regular guy.
Then afterwards, we would ask for volunteers as to who would be willing
to talk for radio. Several people volunteered and we had a mini Death
Café discussion . . . I felt he did a good job of capturing the essence
of the Death Café in his WOSU broadcast, ‘Columbus Death Cafe concept
Spreads Across the U.S’.”
by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
• Giovanna Chirri, the veteran Vaticanista who understood
the pope’s Latin, broke the news that he’d just announced his
resignation. She works for the Italian news agency, ANSA. Her skill
recalled Ernest Sackler at Rome’s UPI bureau when I was a
photojournalist stringer during John XXIII’s papacy. Ernest truly
understood Vatican Latin well enough to turn it into flowing English;
colleagues spoke of him with awe.
• I’m grateful to the Enquirer for running a story on Sen.
Rand Paul’s response to the State of the Union Message. It wasn’t on
NPR or any other network that I could find. His Washington office did
not respond to my question of whether the Kentucky Republican offered his
remarks to any broadcasters/cable networks.
• Tens of millions of Americans will become eligible for
subsidized medical care under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Who’s going
to treat them? I haven’t seen that in the news. And while reporters are
working out that story, ask how the required additional primary care
physicians will pay off college and medical school debts on the salaries
that will be paid to their specialties.
• And once journalists dig into the supply of physicians
to handle Medicaid expansion, I hope they’ll ask who’s going to staff
quality preschool education for every American child. Obama can be
aspirational, but we’re not talking about minimum wage diaper changers.
Early learning centers require trained pre-school educators. And while
they’re at it, reporters should ask where these new early childhood
educators will train and who’s going pick up the tab. After all, they’ll
never repay college loans on day care wages.
• Maybe I missed it in the admiring coverage of our
government killing American Islamists abroad with drone rocket attacks: What prevents Obama from killing Americans in this country with drone
strikes? None of the news stories or commentaries I’ve read or heard
addressed that point.
There would be no shortage of targets. Wouldn’t the
sheriff have loved a drone-launched missile to kill Christopher Dorner,
the rogue ex-LAPD cop? That might have spared the deputy whom Dorner
killed during the flaming finale in the San Bernardino mountains. And
what prevents our increasingly militarized police from using their own
Imagine what authorities could have done with armed drones during earlier, infamous encounters:
A missile fired at armed members of the American Indian
Movement at Wounded Knee, S.D., could have avenged inept, vain
and foolish George Armstrong Custer and FBI agents killed in the 1973
No feds would have died if a drone-launched missile
incinerated Randy Weaver’s family with during its deadly 1992
confrontation with feds at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
David Koresh and the Branch Davidian religious sect were
incinerated by the feds’ 1993 armored assault in Texas. That would have
been a perfect photo op for a domestic drone attack.
• Sometimes, “national security” is the rationale for requested or commanded self-censorship, even when secrets aren’t secret.
For instance, British editors held stories about Prince
Harry until he returned the first time from Afghanistan. However, an
Australian women’s magazine reported he was in combat. The non-secret
was a secret because no one paid attention.
More recently, the new U.S. drone base in Saudi Arabia was
supposed to be a secret. Obama officials asked major news media to hold
the story and they agreed. National security, you know.
But it wasn’t a secret. Washington Post blogger Erik
Wemple said Fox News already had reported U.S. plans to build the
facility in Sept. 2011. Three months before that, the Times of
London reported construction of the Saudi drone base.
When the New York Times broke the agreement and reported
the Saudi drone base, everyone jumped on the story. Now, the Times, the
Post and AP are trying to explain why they kept the non-secret from us.
• Gone are the days when senior Israeli government
officials could call in top editors and broadcasters and tell them what
they could not report. Last week, a tsunami of technology overwhelmed
official Israeli efforts to censor the story of Prisoner X. Israeli
journalists were not to report his existence or mention the censorship
order. National security, you know. However, an Australian network named
an Aussie as Prisoner X and said he reportedly committed suicide three
years ago in an Israeli prison. Social media and the online world took
it from there: "Aussie recruited by Israeli spy agency dies in Israeli
prison." Israel dropped efforts to censor the Prisoner X story and is
issuing official statements about the case.
• San Bernardino’s sheriff asked journalists to quit
tweeting from the final gunfight with former LAPD cop Christopher
Dorner. Bizarre. If authorities feared Dorner would gain tactical
information, they misread his situation: Dorner was surrounded in a
mountain cabin, tear gas was being lobbed in and men outside were
trying to shoot him. He probably was too busy to read tweets. Moreover,
only one reporter was close enough to tweet anything remotely useful to
anyone. Most reporters initially or finally ignored the sheriff.
The tweet issue first arose during the 2008 Muslim
terrorist attack on Mumbai when invaded the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Some
authorities reportedly feared accomplices outside were reading news
media tweets and forwarding tactical information about police and army
movements to gunmen inside. I don’t remember if anyone asked reporters
to quit tweeting.
• A new poll says Fox hit an alltime low for the four
years Public Policy Polling has tracked trust/distrust among TV
networks: 41 percent trust Fox, 46 percent do not. The poll didn’t find anything for
other networks to brag about. Only PBS had more “trust” than “distrust”
among viewers: 52 percent trust, 29 percent don’t trust. The poll questioned 800
voters by telephone from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3.
• Garry Wills’ new book, Why Priests, sets out to debunk
Catholicism’s dearest dogmas and doctrines concerning priests, bishops
and the papacy. NPR’s Diane Rehm gave him an hour last week to say why
Catholic ordained clergy are an unnecessary accretion. Then she asked an
outgunned parish priest from the Washington, D.C. area for a rebuttal.
If she really wanted a lively, informed argument, there is no shortage
of priest-scholars who could have matched Wills’ credentials and talents
as an historian. It was unfair and cringe-worthy.
• It’s touchy when an unpleasantry is brought up in an
obit: a long forgiven conviction, a “love child,” whatever. More often,
predictably awkward moments are omitted in the spirit of de mortuis nil
nisi bonum. Here’s HuffingtonPost on a full-blown omission in the recent
obit on former New York mayor and mensch Ed Koch:
“The New York Times revised its Friday obituary
. . . after several observers noticed that it lacked any mention of his
controversial record on AIDS. The paper's obituary, written by longtime
staffer Robert D. MacFadden, weighed in at 5,500 words. Yet, in the
first version of the piece, AIDS was mentioned exactly once, in a
passing reference to ‘the scandals and the scourges of crack cocaine,
homelessness and AIDS.’ The Times also prepared a 22-minute video on
Koch's life that did not mention AIDS. This struck many as odd; after
all, Koch presided over the earliest years of AIDS, and spent many years
by gay activists who thought he was not doing nearly enough to stop the
spread of the disease. Legendary writer and activist Larry Kramer called Koch ‘a murderer of his own people’ because the mayor was widely known as a closeted gay man.”
• New York’s Ed Koch admired Wall Street Journal reporter
Danny Pearl’s recorded last words before Muslim terrorists beheaded him.
Koch had Pearl’s affirmation of faith engraved on his own tombstone in
Manhattan’s Trinity Church graveyard: “My father is Jewish, my mother is
Jewish, I am Jewish.”
• A former student reporter rarely rates an obit in the
national media, but Annette Buchanan wasn’t ordinary. In the mid-1960s,
she refused a court order to name sources for her story about student
marijuana use on the University of Oregon campus. Her story ran in the
Oregon Daily Emerald, the campus paper. No shield law protected her
promise of confidentiality. The Emerald said she was fined the maximum
$300 and the state supreme court affirmed her contempt of court
conviction. That led to the creation of Oregon’s shield law for
journalists. She died recently.
• An unresolved First Amendment issue is whether bloggers
can be protected by state shield laws that allow journalists to keep
sources secret. The latest case is from New Jersey. Poynter.com
said blogger Tina Renna refused to identify government officials whom
she said misused county generators after Hurricane Sandy. Union County
prosecutors demanded the 16 names, saying Renna wasn’t a journalist
protected by New Jersey’s shield law because she’s been involved in
politics, her blog is biased and she’s often critical of county
The Newark Star-Ledger took her side. It said shield law protection “shouldn’t
hinge on whether someone is a professional, nonpartisan or even
reliable journalist. It’s a functional test: Does Renna gather
information that’s in the public interest and publish it? Yes.” Renna “can
be a little wild, she’s not the same as a professional reporter and she
drives local officials crazy. But part of democracy is putting up with
Tina Renna.” A court will probe whether Renna is a journalist as defined
by the state shield law; that is, whether bloggers can be included by
analogy under protected electronic news media.
• Few ledes — introductory sentences in news stories — are
as lame as those saying the subject “doesn’t look” like some
stereotype. For years, it usually referred to a woman in an
unconventional (read men’s) occupation or pastime. “She didn’t look
like a steelworker . . . “ or, “You wouldn’t think a tiny blonde bagged a
deadly wild boar with a huge .44 magnum revolver.” Male subjects aren’t
immune, as in this lede from a recent Washington Post story: “Farmer
Hugh Bowman hardly looks the part of a revolutionary who stands in the
way of promising new biotech discoveries and threatens Monsanto’s
pursuit of new products . . . ”
What do revolutionaries look like? Lenin was pictured in
suit and tie. Gandhi wore a white, draped sari or dhoti, Mandela and
fellow ANC rebels often wore suits and ties. Young 1960s American and
French student rebels never wore suits and ties and needed haircuts.
Today’s young North African activists dress the same for class or a
“Doesn’t look like” wouldn’t even fit an androgynous male
model in the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show. He’d be there
because he looks like a classic, young, leggy “angel.”
• Have you noticed how hurricanes, floods, blizzards and
tornadoes are morphing from evidence of climate change into photo ops?
News media see them as so common that little reporting is required
beyond images and stories of hardship: shoppers hoarding sliced white
bread, downed trees and shattered homes, marooned airline passengers and
days without power. Maybe there’s the throwaway quote from some
climatologist about change affecting weather, but for the most part,
that’s it. I’m betting this deliberate ignorance is a Republican Party
plot to show that increasingly frequent, dangerous weather reflects the
Intelligent Design that gave us dino-riding cavemen a few thousand years
• The Enquirer devoted Page 1 to a dramatic OMG! graphic
and story suggesting Cincinnati was terrible because it had no black
candidate for mayor. An accompanying list of movers and shakers had few
blacks. The presentation suggested the all-white mayoral contest meant
amiss in a city where whites are the largest minority. However, whites
and blacks told reporters that leadership rather than color was foremost
among attributes they sought in a mayor. Moreover, with so many African
Americans in visible leadership roles in the city, having a black mayor
succeed a black mayor was less of an issue than the paper suggested.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 20, 2013
So what is it about Jews? Not only real Jews but also fearful fantasies about Jews. I ask because so many mainstream
reporters, bloggers and columnists seem fascinated and repelled by the
implied menace of “the Jewish lobby.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
When a reporter uses the law to pry
public records from resisting officials, readers are supposed to
benefit. And when readers value that invocation of open records laws, it
adds luster to the reporter’s work.