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St. Louis Journalism Review Presents:

Inside This Issue Today’s ‘billionaire boys club’ now includes media outlets by John McCarron page 7 Mistakes happen, but how do we tell the readers? by Patty Louise page 14 Loesch’s celebrity turns her journalism professor into a cynic by Terry Ganey page 24 Covering the demands of low-wage workers by Sharon Wittke page 26

Fall 2013 • Volume 43 Number 332 • $8


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Contents Table of

Opinion & Columns 7 • Today’s ‘billionaire boys club’ now includes media outlets by John McCarron 8 • ‘We are the world’: Foreign news coverage and Midwestern children by Dafna Lemish

Corrections

10 • A nd here is the unbiased truth ... by Abe Aamidor

14 • M istakes happen, but how do we tell the readers?

11 • Corporate alliances put squeeze on sports journalism by John Shrader

15 • Correction guidelines for the 21st century

12 • C redibility questions sidetrack investigative journalism by Scott Lambert

17 • C orrections have their own story to tell 21 • Monumental muckups memorialized stories by Patty Louise

35 • L essons from the immigration debate by John S. Jackson

Around the Arch 22 • M edia notes by Benjamin Israel 23 • T he Rev. Biondi: Still swinging away by Roy Malone

24 • L oesch’s celebrity turns her journalism professor into a cynic by Terry Ganey 26 • C overing the demands of low-wage workers by Sharon Wittke

Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 1


Corrections

29 • N  ew publication answers opportunity ’s knock by Danny Paskin

Gateway Journalism Review would like to apologize for errors in the summer issue. Here’s the note we ran in the Aug. 9 eNewsletter: “Because of an editing error, two captions and photo credits in the Paul Y. Anderson feature by Terry Ganey were inaccurate. The portrait of Paul Y. Anderson … appears on page 20. The photo caption should read: ‘Paul Y. Anderson in 1932. Described by Oswald Garrison Villard as “the greatest detectivereporter,” alcoholism would be Anderson’s Achilles heel’ (photo credit St. Louis Post-Dispatch). The photo on page 22 … is a portrait of Charles G. Ross. The photo caption should read: ‘Ross’ former Post-Dispatch colleagues commissioned the painting of his portrait from a photograph. In 1951 it was presented to the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where Ross had been its first professor’ (photo credit Missouri School of Journalism).”

30 • C ampaign disclosure advocates await next big scandal by Genelle I. Belmas & Jason M. Shepard 32 • ‘ This Town’ details corrosive effects of money in Washington by Dan Sullivan 34 • B est GJR posts, summer 2013 36 • W ell-worn phrases set journalists’ teeth on edge by William A. Babcock

*** Should you notice an error in GJR, please let us know so we can acknowledge our mistake and issue a correction. You can notify us by emailing gatewayjr@siu.edu or calling (618) 536-3361.

Published by School of Journalism College of Mass Communication and Media Arts Interim Dean: Dafna Lemish School of Journalism Director: William H. Freivogel William H. Freivogel Publisher

Charles Klotzer Founder

Sam Robinson Associate Publisher

William A. Babcock Editor

John Jarvis Managing Editor

Terry Ganey St. Louis Editor

Sharon Wittke Associate Managing Editor

Steve Edwards Artist

Christian Holt Lead Designer

Evette Dionne Graduate Assistant

Aaron Veenstra Web Master

JP Rhea Graduate Assistant

Board of Advisers: Roy Malone, Jim Kirchherr, Lisa Bedian, Ed Bishop, Tammy Merrett, Don Corrigan, Rita Csapo-Sweet, Steve Perron, Eileen Duggan, Michael D. Sorkin, David P. Garino, Rick Stoff, Ted Gest, Fred Sweet, William Greenblatt, Lynn Venhaus, Daniel Hellinger, Robert A. Cohn, Michael E. Kahn, John P. Dubinsky, Gerald Early, Paul Schoomer, Moisy Shopper, Ray Hartmann, Ken Solomon, Avis Meyer, Tom Engelhardt

Page 2 • Gateway Journalism Review • Summer Fall 20132013

Gateway Journalism Review Communications Building - Mail Code 6601 Southern Illinois University Carbondale 1100 Lincoln Drive Carbondale, IL 62901 To Subscribe: 618-453-0122 gatewayjr.org/subscribe Subscription rates: $32 (4 issues). Foreign subscriptions higher depending upon country.

The Gateway Journalism Review GJR (USPS 738-450 ISSN: 0036-2972) is published quarterly, by Southern Illinois University Carbondale, School of Journalism, College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, a non-profit entity. The office of publication is SIUC School of Journalism, 1100 Lincoln Drive, Mail Code 6601, Carbondale, IL 62901

Periodical postage paid at Carbondale, IL and additional mailing offices. Please enclose stamped, self-addressed envelope with manuscript. Copyright © 2013 by the Gateway Journalism Review. Indexed in the Alternative Press Index. Allow one month for address changes.

POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: Gateway Journalism Review William Freivogel School of Journalism 1100 Lincoln Drive, Mail Code 6601 Carbondale, IL 62901.

GJR Contributors Abe Aamidor A former long-term newspaper reporter in ChampaignUrbana, St. Louis and Indianapolis. He earned his master’s degree in journalism from SIU in 1983.

Benjamin Israel A freelance writer living in St. Louis. He was a regular contributor to the St. Louis Journalism Review. Forty years ago he was news director of KDNA-FM in St. Louis. His work has appeared William A. Babcock in more than a dozen Missouri Editor of GJR. He is the publications. senior ethics professor of the SIUC School of Journalism. John Jarvis Managing editor of GJR. He Genelle I. Belmas has worked as a writer, copy editor An associate professor and editor for newspapers in Texas, of communications at California Indiana and Arizona. He is an M.S. State University-Fullerton. student at SIUC. Evette Dionne A writer, editor and cultural critic. She also is a graduate student at SIUC. William H. Freivogel Publisher of Gateway Journalism Review and director of the SIU Carbondale School of Journalism. He is a former editorial page deputy editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and contributes to the St. Louis Beacon. He is a member of the Missouri Bar. Terry Ganey The St. Louis editor of Gateway Journalism Review. He has more than 40 years of experience as an investigative reporter and political correspondent for the St. Louis PostDispatch, the Associated Press and the Columbia Daily Tribune. Christian Holt Lead designer for GJR, Christian is responsible for the magazine’s new look. She is an M.S. student at SIUC. Dan Sullivan Independent fundraising professional, former fundraiser for Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation and former lobbyist in Jefferson City, Mo.

Jason M. Shepard Associate professor of communications at CSU-Fullerton. Sharon Wittke Associate managing editor of the GJR and an M.S. student at SIUC. She served 25 years in the Air Force before retiring last year as a lieutenant colonel.

Patty Louise Is a 1984 (Newhouse) and 2001 (Whitman) graduate of Syracuse University. Her journalism career has included six years at the Syracuse Post-Standard, Dafna Lemish including three years as a sports Professor and interim dean of editor heading up coverage of SU the College of Mass Communication sports. She lives in upstate New and Media Arts at SIUC. York, where she is publisher of a community weekly newspaper Roy Malone and teaches journalism at Utica A former reporter for the St. College. Louis Post-Dispatch and the former editor of St. Louis Journalism John S. Jackson Review. Is a political science professor at the Paul Simon Public JP Rhea Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale. A MFA graduate student in Mass Communication and Media Danny Paskin Arts at SIU Carbondale. He earned Is an assistant professor of his bachelor’s degree in cinema journalism and new media at CSUand photography from SIU and Long Beach. has more than a decade of concept and design experience. John McCarron Is a freelance urban Scott Lambert affairs writer and adjunct An assistant professor at lecturer at DePaul University’s Millikin University. He has worked School of Communication. as a sports journalist and editor for He worked 27 years for the 13 years. He taught at Oklahoma Chicago Tribune as reporter State University for two years but financial editor and member of does not recall having a football the editorial board. player in his class. Charles Klotzer John Shrader The founder of St. Louis Assistant professor of Journalism Review. journalism at CSU-Long Beach. He was a TV and radio sportscaster Sam Robinson in San Francisco for more than 30 Associate publisher of GJR. years and covers L.A. Galaxy soccer She is an assistant professor at on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet. CSU-Monterey Bay. Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 3


Publisher’s Note

Editor’s Note

Print media sets regrettable trend on corrections My Paris correspondent had trouble walking, chewing gum and correctly using the English language. Heck, he didn’t even have to be meandering with a Dentine wad in his mouth to muck up his mother tongue. I knew this, as I should, being his stateside editor. So imagine my great joy when I saw I’d be editing three Page 1 stories for the next day’s paper, and knowing that his would be the last one to arrive at my desk, and thus giving me a grand total of 10 minutes, tops, to edit his piece. When the first story arrived I edited it carefully, phoning my London correspondent to verify a couple of sources, getting a couple of new paragraphs, re-editing the entire piece and sending my edited version to the international news editor. The second story came in a few minutes later from Bonn, Germany, and I rearranged the academic wording so it had more of an “everyman” feel to it before pitching it to another editor. Finally, as the clock wound down, the story from France appeared on my computer screen. Racing through the story, with an eye on the clock all the while, I finished my edit and did a 30-second spellcheck of the story before propelling it directly to the paper’s copy desk. Whew! Four days later, the paper’s editor-inchief walked slowly to my desk. I looked up; he looked down at me, nodded slightly and, without saying a word, dropped a letter on my desk. He then turned his back on me and ever so slowly retraced his steps to his office. None of this was a good sign. I picked up, read and memorized the two-paragraph letter from Peoria, Ill. It said: Dear Christian Science Monitor Editor, I have just read your story from Paris in today’s paper. I was shocked to find the word “sight,” instead of “site,” used in the third paragraph. I find it appalling that the Monitor would make such an unforgivable error. I have been a subscriber of your paper for 25 years. Please cancel my subscription immediately. Sincerely … Yes, I knew the difference between “sight” and “site,” and even “cite.” I simply missed

it in my dash to make deadline. And the spellchecker did not bail me out in the least. I promptly penned a handwritten note and posted it to the woman in Peoria. (I’ve always suspected she was, or had been, a librarian, but I can’t say for sure.) What I can say for sure is that readers consider newspapers – whether in print or online – to be their newspapers, and can feel insulted when they see their paper has made a mistake. And they feel that their trust has not been bestowed in vain when their newspaper readily admits its error. Readers realize newspapers constitute the only industry producing a brand-new product each day, and that such a product naturally will contain errors. Still, audience members expect apologies for mistakes, both online and in print. In the Gateway Journalism Review you are holding, you’ll see a lengthy package of articles dealing with how 80 newspapers across our primary 16-state circulation area handle corrections. The person gathering, compiling and writing this package was Patty Louise, editor and publisher of the Waterville Times, the weekly community newspaper in Waterville, N.Y. Louise’s newspaper experience is as extensive as it is varied, as she: • Edited the Daily Orange, the campus newspaper at Syracuse University, where she graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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• Worked as an editor for the Syracuse Post-Standard. • Was an editor and writer for Gannett Newspapers. • Earned a master’s degree in business administration. • Teaches journalism at an upstate New York college, where she advises the student newspaper. Her corrections package features a large graphic outlining how each of the 80 newspapers she surveyed handles – or does not handle – corrections. This GJR story package, which runs on pages 15-22 and includes charts and sidebars, constitutes an extensive – perhaps the most extensive examination ever – of how Midwest newspapers deal with corrections. Unfortunately, Louise’s pieces show the Midwest’s papers and their online products are not doing as good a job of owning up to and addressing their readers’ concerns as they should. We all train our own children and expect our schoolteachers to instruct their charges to say, “I’m sorry,” when children have done something they know they should not have done. Our newspapers should be held to the same standard. When they’re not, the public’s confidence in its constitutionally protected media is eroded, newspapers are found to be less credible, readership suffers, the industry becomes more fiscally strapped and our democracy is gradually eroded. But that’s overly melodramatic. More to the point, though is that the one medium that did, on a regular and consistent basis, say to its readers, “We screwed up and here is the right stuff,” is now going the way of new media and broadcast to simply wallpaper over its mistakes the next day (or next hour) and hope no one notices. We should all regret this trend.

William A. Babcock, Editor

Photo by Chris Zoeller From left: JP Rhea, Sharon Wittke, Evette Dionne, John Jarvis and Christian Holt

GJR adapts to media community changes Gateway Journalism Review is an active member of the media community. Like so many media outlets, we also struggle with issues of accuracy, diversity, profitability and transparency. While our role is to provide critical analysis and coverage of how media address these issues, GJR also must take time to consider these issues within its own operation. GJR is continually working to expand coverage, and increase the diversity of its content and writers. This fall issue of Gateway Journalism Review offers articles covering topics from throughout the central United States and across the country. Topics range from a fiery conservative broadcaster to media coverage of a fast-food workers protest, to a new start-up newspaper on the West Coast. The feature package looks at newspapers’ handling of corrections. Patty Louise provides a review of the many ways newspapers today address mistakes. No one likes admitting they are wrong – but, as Louise points out, when it comes to the media it is a matter of public trust. The public expects the media to be correct and “come clean” when a mistake is made. *** GJR is working to expand coverage of multiple media platforms. We welcome contributions from all media fields. Articles

can be printed in the quarterly issue or in our weekly eNewsletter. The eNewsletter reaches more than 2,000 professionals from across the United States. *** GJR is retooling the eNewsletter to ensure it has the broadest reach and most current topics. Overseeing this process is the new Gateway Journalism Review associate managing editor, Sharon Wittke. John Jarvis is the managing editor. Wittke retired to Cobden, Ill., after serving as an Air Force lieutenant colonel. In addition to her work on the weekly GJR eNewsletter, Wittke is spearheading a redesign of the gatewayjr.org website. Originally from upstate New York, she has settled into the area and is working on a master’s degree in professional media and media management at SIU. Christian Holt, who joined the GJR team last fall, is GJR’s lead designer. The Murphysboro, Ill., native is pursuing a master’s degree in strategic communication at SIU. Holt is an experienced graphic designer and event planner. Joining Holt’s design team are two other SIU graduate students: JP Rhea and Evette Dionne. Rhea, a Kentucky native, is pursuing a master of fine arts degree. Brown hails from Queens Village, N.Y. She is working toward a master’s degree in professional media and

media management.

*** GJR once again will host an event featuring a prominent national media figure. In spring 2014, Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow! will speak about the value of a free press. In addition to promoting the First Amendment, this annual event serves as the primary GJR fundraiser. As a nonprofit entity housed in a public institution, GJR must look for alternative funding sources. As all of us in the media industry know, it is hard work balancing budgets these days. We ask for your support in keeping GJR viable as it fills the important role of being a media watchdog. If you know someone who would like to subscribe to GJR, please let us know. Or consider giving a gift subscription. You will see more information in the winter issue about the spring event, and we hope you will support it. We look forward to seeing you there.

Sam Robinson, Associate Publisher

Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 5


Opinion

Opinion

After 50 years, racial economic divide still sharp by Charles L. Klotzer On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights demonstration at Jefferson Bank in St. Louis, Channel 9 (KETC) assembled local citizens for a multifaceted conversation on racism and “issues that challenge our community today.” The 1963 demonstration that led to the arrest of 19 participants – including retired congressman William L. Clay Sr., Norman Seay and others – was a pivotal event in the gradual integration of African-Americans in the economy of this metropolitan area. It was poorly covered by the local media except for a detailed account by Virginia Brodine in FOCUS/Midwest. The magazine merged with this journal in 1983. While KETC did a commendable job in marshaling the opinions of local citizens around many topics, viewers did not benefit from an update of current economic racial integration. That information was made available at the three-day anniversary celebration that took place Aug. 28-30 at the St. Louis History Museum. The event was organized by veteran civil rights activist Percy Green. John Chasnoff, program director of the American Civil Liberties Union, cited the dismal state of affairs at the time as recorded in Clay’s book “Anatomy of an Economic Murder.” Chasnoff reported incomes of blacks were 51 percent of those of whites in St. Louis, while the unemployment rate of black workers was 11 percent compared to white workers at 5 percent. In 1963, there were no black salespersons in downtown department stores, and no black drivers for beer, dairy and soft drink companies. The electric, gas and phone companies did not hire black linemen, telephone operators, meter

readers, stenographers or clerks. Some blacks were hired in more menial positions. One white doctor served 691 whites, while one black doctor served 3,750 blacks, a rate 5.4 times higher. Within a year after the demonstration, 84 blacks were hired at 15 banks. Thirteen hundred blacks were hired for new jobs, including at 13 firms that previously had no black workers. This was the immediate effect of the demonstrations. By 1967, thousands of blacks were employed in jobs previously closed to them. Fifty years later, how much has our community progressed? A report by the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance presented at the anniversary celebration painted a mixed picture. The alliance is a coalition of nonprofit organizations working, among other things, to ensure that banks are meeting their obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act. In 2011, in a study of 19 St. Louis mortgage

lending institutions, blacks were more than twice as likely to be denied a home mortgage loan as whites: 31 percent contrasted with 13 percent. A study of 15 St. Louis banks shows a lack of diversity in the banks’ leadership. Six banks do not have any minorities on their board of directors. Five banks do not have any minorities in their senior management. However, all banks have minority employees. Four of the banks – U.S. Bank, Bank of America, Commerce Bank and Regions Bank – employ more than 500 minorities in their St. Louis work force, ranging from 12 percent African-Americans to 35 percent. While Bank of America and Regions Bank have no minorities in their senior management, U.S. Bank and Commerce have about 12 percent. Eleven other St. Louis banks have fewer than 500 minority employees (3 percent to 20 percent). Minorities among their senior management range from zero to 15 percent. A 2007 report by the St. Louis branch of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the latest we found) details the levels of employments both in numbers and percentages. For our purposes, the 6-year-old report should reveal some progress, as it was conducted 44 years after the Jefferson Bank events. The percentages for top positions reveal a stark pattern of continued discrimination of minorities – not only of blacks, but other minorities as well. The percentages recognize demographic differences. For example, while 75.74 percent of employees are white, 92.7 percent of executives are white. While 18.6 percent of employees are black, just 3.46 percent of executives are black. Readers can draw their own conclusions. Yes, we are on our way, but the trip is far from over. g

Hiring by industry in 1963 included:

INDUSTRY BLACKS TOTAL WORKERS Breweries 37 (0.5 percent) 7,325 Department stores 69 (2.2 percent) 3,107 Dairies 52 (3.5 percent) 1,505 Daily newspapers 42 (1.7 percent) 2,550 Page 6 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2013

Today’s ‘billionaire boys club’ now includes media outlets by John McCarron Pity campaign managers trying to rev up for next spring’s Illinois primary election. Doubtless they want the state’s two largest newspapers to endorse their candidate. But one of them, the Chicago Tribune, is up for sale. The other, the Chicago Sun-Times, says it isn’t making endorsements. The latter may be just as well, for a key member of the investment group that in late 2011 bought the Sun-Times – LaSalle Street money man Bruce Rauner – is a Republican candidate for governor. That potential conflict of interest apparently is why Rauner cashed out his newspaper shares last April before announcing his candidacy. As for the Trib, who’s to say some liberalprogressive investor, such as Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad, isn’t poised to buy the paper and reverse its conservative GOP party line? A wise candidate might want to straddle some issues until the deal goes down. Then again, with the circulation of both newspapers in dismal decline, one might ask why any candidate would care about a political endorsement. After all, hasn’t the media business been fragmented into zillions of bits and bytes, with everyone and their unemployed brothers-in-law starting websites or blogs to promote their points of view? Who needs a Walter Lippmann or a David Broder when we’ve got hundreds of online “opinionators” just a mouse click away? The answer, of course, is that the opinions of the best and brightest at America’s big metro dailies still carry a measure of credibility. Time is precious, issues are complex and many voters look for someone whose advice they can trust. Especially for the undecided, a newspaper endorsement can be like the word “sterling” on silver or the “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval on a new mop. Editorial boards have the time and means to research this stuff, right? Endorsements remain so powerful that candidates typically retool their print, radio and television ads to reflect a new anointment by a major newspaper. Call it signature value, brand identity or century-old respectability. Why else does a Jeff Bezos lay out $250 million for a moneyburning operation such as the Washington Post? For that kind of money, the Amazon. com founder could have started and staffed a hundred news-and-opinion websites. Instead, he chose to control one of the most revered mastheads in American journalism.

Several thoughtful commentators are hoping Amazon’s Bezos has the cranial bandwidth to marry the Washington Post’s proud journalistic tradition with a money-making digital business model. That would be good, especially if a fair portion of any profit flows back to the paper’s news-gathering apparatus – which, like those of papers everywhere, has been downsized since the glory days of Watergate. Bezos reportedly is liberal on matters such as gay marriage, yet libertarian on economic issues. Thus he backed a gay marriage referendum in Washington state with $2.5 million, not long after he donated $100,000 to defeat a referendum that would have levied an income tax on the upper-class bracket. Then there’s Ruppert Murdoch, whose right-wing views get echoed across News Corp.’s global empire, most prominently in the United States via Fox TV News, and the editorial and right-winged op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal. So what does this trend – this newspaperas-megaphone, nee profit center – bode for the Midwest’s lone global city? Suffice it to say that a sigh of civic relief was heard in August when the arch-conservative Koch brothers, Charles and David, signaled they wouldn’t be buying Tribune Co. and its eight daily newspapers. It turns out their evaluators found a different Chicagoarea company – Molex, a maker of electronic connectors – on which to lavish some of their millions. A family spokesman said, however, that the Kochs, who made their bundle in oil exploration and refining, are still shopping for a media outlet, no doubt to further a gospel of tax cuts and deregulation promulgated by their grantees at the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation and other op-ed mills. So rumors of prospective buyers come and go as the auctioning-off of Tribune Co. drags on … much like the tedious four-year bankruptcy proceeding that concluded at the end of 2012. The three investment banks that funded Sam Zell’s ill-fated 2007 purchase are now free to sell. But sell what? Prospective bidders have asked for clarification, for instance, on the real value of certain websites such as CareerBuilder.com, which is partially owned by Tribune Co. Then, last July, the Trib’s owner-bankers

announced they were splitting the company in half, spinning off a Tribune Publishing Co. with its signature labels that include the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun – and, of course, the former “world’s greatest.” Shorn of its marginally profitable print products, a sleeker Tribune Co. will emerge as a radio and TV operation with network-sized reach from KTLA in Southern California to WPIX in New York, with several major markets in between. The split likely will expedite the sale of the broadcast properties. But what of the newspapers? Which gets us back to what major newspapers have become in the age of Google, Facebook and Twitter. Several thoughtful commentators are hoping Amazon’s Bezos has the cranial bandwidth to marry the Washington Post’s proud journalistic tradition with a money-making digital business model. That would be good, especially if a fair portion of any profit flows back to the paper’s news-gathering apparatus – which, like those of papers everywhere, has been downsized since the glory days of Watergate. The worry is that the billionaire buyers’ first instinct will be to play their new toys like an ideological trumpet and let newsroom headcounts slide down with circulation. The Sun-Times’ recent dismissal of its full-time photographers is illustrative. And the paper’s earlier decision to stop doing political endorsements – a labor-intensive endeavor if done well – likely was more a budget move than an oath of political neutrality. There are other ways, after all, that a newspaper can smile on some candidates and frown on others. In mid-September, the

Continued on page 33

Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 7


Opinion

Opinion

‘We are the world’:

Foreign news coverage and Midwestern children by Dafna Lemish As a non-native to this country and as an academic who moved to the Midwest from Israel a few years ago, I often have been baffled by what seems to be a very ethnocentric view applied when American journalists and academics relate to the rest of the world. For example, in my role as an editor of an international academic journal, I find myself routinely calling to the attention of U.S.based authors that expressions such as “the Midwest,” “over Christmas break,” “in the summer” or even “third-graders” are inherently cultural. I challenge them with questions about what such concepts would mean to a reader in a different country: The Midwest – of what? What about the readers who do not celebrate Christmas and who do not have a “break”? What are the implications of the fact that summers in the Northern Hemisphere are winters in the Southern Hemisphere? Since educational systems around the world start mandatory schooling at different ages, there will be significant developmental and cultural differences if the “third-graders” are 7, 8 or 9 years old. We often assume that the language with which we describe our world is neutral, when in fact we need to be reminded that it is culturally laden. News coverage of the world certainly is one central sphere in which our comfortable tendency for ethnocentrism can be unsettled. It is through such exposure that people who do not have the privilege of traveling widely encounter other cultures, ways of living, belief systems, political institutions, languages and concepts. So how much of that coverage appears in the news? A book published this year, titled “Foreign news on television: Where in the world is the global village?” deals with this question. It was written by Peter Lang and edited by Akiba Cohen, an internationally prominent news researcher from Israel and a longtime colleague of mine. The book presents findings from a comparative study of news coverage in 17 countries, including the United States, that include analyses of 17,000 news items and 10,000 survey respondents. The subtitle of the book is what attracted me most – and indeed the edited collection shows, as the endorsement on the back cover

In the Kenyan television network program “Chick Chick,” Jeff is a shy boy who often is harassed. He finds a baby chick and wins over his classmates.

Zhong Yiang, a fourth-grader, on a trip with his father. The boy grows emotionally delivering letters in a small mountain town in China. highlights, “that while globalization is a dominant force in society, and though news can be instantaneously broadcast internationally, there is relatively little commonality throughout the world in the depiction of events occurring in other countries. Thus, contrary to Marshall McLuhan’s famous, but untested, notion of the ‘global village,’ television news in the countries discussed in this book actually presents more variability than similarity.” Clearly, news organizations report foreign news from their points of view on what they believe to be of

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importance for their local audience – a process referred to in media studies as “domestication.” The U.S.-based part of the study analyzed two representative television news programs – “NBC Nightly News” as a popular broadcast news program and “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” representing public broadcasting. Based on analyses of television foreign news coverage in these programs, the United States ranked among the lowest of the 17 nations studied: 68 percent of the broadcast news is purely domestic, and an

additional 4 percent is domestic with foreign involvement. While foreign news comprised just 12 percent of U.S.-based television news, an additional 15 percent of the foreign-related news had domestic involvement. In comparison, news coverage in Canada was found to consist of 33 percent purely domestic, 23 percent domestic with foreign involvement, 31 percent purely foreign, and 13 percent foreign with domestic involvement. Stimulating more interest in foreign news goes well beyond a matter of curiosity and general education. Those of us involved in higher education, economy, politics or cultural industries realize too well that cultivating global awareness and responsibility has become an urgent need for survival and development of all aspects of our societies. I do not accept the claim that Midwesterners in the United States are not interested and do not care about the rest of the world, and I reject the often-cited “axiom” that “we give the audience what they want.” Indeed, I found evidence supporting this claim when hun-

dreds of children and their families in southern Illinois participated in a special program in their local libraries in collaboration with the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts at Southern Illinois University (for which I serve as the interim dean). A selection of children’s award-winning television programs from around the world and presented at the Prix Jeunesse International festival in Munich, Germany, were screened at their hometown libraries, supported by opportunities to hear the views of international students from SIU in discussion of life in other cultures, as represented in these television programs. Among others, they watched a program about bullying and a boy’s compassionate care of a chick in Kenya (“Chick Chick,” Kenya Television Network); interviews with children in Mexico retelling their dreams (“Once I dreamt …” from Once TV Mexico); the persistence of a boy working with tourists in a historical town in East Turkey to fulfill his dream of buying his own bike (“My Dream Bike,” TRT Istanbul TV); the emotional growth of a Chinese boy delivering letters in a

small mountain town (“The Story of a Letter,” China Central Television); and a boy’s effort to save a goldfish in Iran (“Ponds of Mirror,” Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting). The interest, enthusiasm and curiosity about the world these screenings raised among children and adults in the remote towns of rural southern Illinois should inspire us all to rethink our approach to foreign news coverage. There is great potential to cultivate an intelligent and engageable audience, as there seems to be a thirst to be connected to the wider world. The news media can be a central route to engaging this thirst for the foreign among U.S. audiences. This can be achieved by domesticating world events and making them relevant to local populations; by pointing out how local issues – social, environmental and economical – are connected to the wider world; by bridging our multicultural populations with their countries of origins; by highlighting shared human interests and concerns; and by reminding us that we are all members of a much larger globe than our own region – or even country. g

Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 9


Opinion

Opinion

And here is the unbiased truth ... by Abe Aamidor Eric Alterman’s 2003 book, “What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News,” has iconic status in progressive circles. In it, Alterman argues that the “so-called liberal media” (or “SCLM,” as he refers to it) is a myth. Other media-reform advocates – from Ed Herman, co-developer of “the propaganda model” with Noam Chomsky, to Robert McChesney, co-author of the evangelically titled “The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again” – have pretty much argued the same thing. Far from being liberal, the media under-report the plight of the poor at home, America’s myriad military entanglements abroad and the rape of the environment everywhere, among other topics, they all claim. Yet over the years various polls have shown journalists, editors and producers are more likely to identify themselves as “liberal” than “conservative.” How, then, do we explain this paradox? Much of the debate depends on just how we define “liberal” or “the left.” In a sense, everyone has moved a little more “left” in recent decades – support for privacy rights, gay marriage, going “green” and more are the liberal values of today, yet they have their roots in the early 20th century Progressive movement and what in the 1960s was called the New Left. Classical liberalism, on the other hand, which called for respecting human beings as individuals and judging people on their

individual merit and achievements, not as a member of this or that religion, race, nationality or class, now almost is a conservative value structure. So if one thinks the role of the media is to report even more thoroughly on gay and civil rights, environmental concerns and so on, an individual probably won’t see much of a liberal bias in the news. But if one thinks the role of the media is not merely to give direct or indirect support to such causes, then a liberal bias probably would be perceived. Then there’s the issue of, “So what?” Even when we suspect bias on the part of the journalist or media outlet, one would have to acknowledge that partisans and other biased people sometimes are correct. Legendary journalist I.F. Stone, an unabashed leftist, was the first leading journalist to prove that the Gulf of Tonkin resolution – which paved the way for America’s escalation of the Vietnam War – was knowingly based on faulty information. Many people dismissed his writings because of his politics, though. Ditto for journalists who were all over former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s flawed testimony on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in 2003. Henry Kissinger famously said that even paranoid people have enemies. One could say the same thing here: Even biased reporters can be right. Yet political bias occasionally distorts the news. Right-wing talk radio and Fox News bias, for the most part, infiltrates their punditry, opinion pieces and editorial stances. We know what to expect when we tune in those sources. But liberal bias has, on occasion, infiltrated the reporting of hard news, which we expect to be more objective.

For example, one rarely sees an acknowledgement that America already has the largest number of legal immigrants of any nation in the world in stories about immigration reform. Instead, you’re much more likely to read about the hardships immigrants from Latin America face, see the words “undocumented” and “unauthorized” substituted for “illegal” and especially be told how this country was built on immigration. Is that really news, or is it the sales and promotion department for amnesty talking? Ditto for reporting on the mortgage loan crisis and housing market collapse. One reads it’s all Wall Street’s fault, or that “predatory” lending practices “targeted” blacks, Hispanics and other low-income families, but a person is less likely to be informed that “targeting” these groups was the whole point of Clinton-era reforms and Fannie Mae policies in the 1990s in the first place. The idea was to make it easier for banks to offer loans to low-income families, then unload those risky mortgages onto secondary markets. But much reporting is fair and balanced, to borrow a phrase. If Americans don’t know we need energy independence now, but also that fracking (hydraulic fracturing) as a means of extracting natural gas from shale is dangerous for the environment, then they’re just not following the news at all. So bias doesn’t always occur, and it doesn’t always lead to bad reporting – but sometimes it does. What is to be done, then? It’s like pulling weeds from the garden; if you don’t do it regularly, the weeds will come back. Or, to adapt a phrase from Thomas Jefferson: “Eternal vigilance is the price of quality journalism.” g

Much of the debate depends on just how we define “liberal” or “the left.” In a sense, everyone has moved a little more “left” in recent decades – support for privacy rights, gay marriage, going “green” and more are the liberal values of today, yet they have their roots in the early 20th century Progressive movement and what in the 1960s was called the New Left.

Page 10 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2013

Corporate alliances put squeeze on sports journalism by John Shrader Sports journalism is dead. That was the notion in late August, when ESPN abruptly ended its relationship with PBS’ “Frontline.” ESPN had partnered with “Frontline” for more than a year on a documentary film examining the NFL’s handling of head injuries. It looked like the perfect collaboration of the hard-hitting documentary team and the biggest, most powerful media machine the sports world has ever known. One thing apparently got in the way: reality. ESPN has a $15 billion relationship with the NFL. ESPN had just re-signed to do “Monday Night Football” through 2021, and it wasn’t about to mess with that mojo. However, the network apparently was about to mess with it until NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, according to a report in the New York Times, stepped in and pressured ESPN to get out of the deal with “Frontline.” ESPN’s president, John Skipper, and the commissioner denied that’s the way it came down. The denials are unconvincing. The documentary project was scheduled for a two-part airing on PBS in October, titled “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” which is critical of the way the NFL handled head injuries. The project was reported and written by two ESPN investigative reporters: brothers Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada. The two also have written a book by the same title. It has been clear to many of us for years, and now clear to many in the sports-viewing world, that business relationships trump journalism. ESPN’s talking-head programs and the game broadcasts are filled with storytelling narratives generated to protect and enhance these relationships. The network is in the business of making money, accounting for about half of Disney’s operating profits, according to the New York Times. Airing your partner’s dirty laundry in public is not particularly good for the bottom line

– although if any network could survive it, ESPN likely could. At least that must have been the thought process when ESPN agreed to do this deal with “Frontline.” Most of ESPN’s rights deals are good through 2020 and are worth a collective $41 billion. That’s a lot of partnership building and partnership protecting. The most lucrative of these deals are with the NFL ($15.3 billion), the college football playoffs ($7.3 billion) and Major League Baseball ($5.6 billion). The deals also include the NBA and four college conferences. Some in Bristol, Conn., the worldwide headquarters of ESPN, think doing journalism is an important component of what they do. They’ve been hiring newspaper and magazine writers – some already with jobs, others off the unemployment line – for years now. But they are sending mixed messages. The large stable of reporters spends most of its time writing and talking about who’s starting this week, who’s injured and which coach is on the hot seat. These reporters use Twitter to discuss these developments and blab about them on the many talking-head shows. Interesting, but well-trained and experienced journalists could and should be doing more. Regional sports networks don’t have the same volume or money at stake, but they do have many of the same concerns. Mark Shuken is vice president and general manager of a relatively new regional sports network in Los Angeles, Time Warner Cable Sportsnet (TWC.) (Full disclosure: I do play-by-play of MLS soccer games on this channel as a contractor.) Shuken told me via email that TWC’s mission is to provide “exclusive content, depth and access to fans of the teams with which we partner,” which include the L.A.-based Lakers, Sparks and Galaxy – and, next season, the Dodgers. Shuken says sports journalism has a place on his regional sports network. “Absolutely,” he said. “Today’s fan and TV viewer expects more than just live games. The access, connection and passion they

feel for their favorite teams is best realized through the storytelling and personal relationships creators and journalists can provide.” Ross Jernstrom is certain there is a place for sports journalism on TV. He says that’s what he’s been doing for more than 30 years, as a sports anchor and reporter at WOWTTV in Omaha, Neb. He says station management has never told him to hold a story. “As long as I have the facts right, I can do the story,” he said. The biggest, baddest dog in his sports kennel is the University of Nebraska football team. It can be intense. The coaches expect good coverage, the players are adored and the fans are … well, fanatical. “No pressure at all,” Jernstrom says. “If I was a hit-and-run guy, that would be a different thing. I have enough sources. People trust me. It helps to be here as long as I have.” Dennis O’Donnell has worked in sports television in San Francisco for nearly as long, first as a producer and then as an anchor. He says he feels some pressure to maintain relationships with the biggest pro teams in town, especially the popular San Francisco 49ers. That relationship was put to a severe test in September 2010. The 49ers were a struggling team with an inexperienced coach, Mike Singletary – inexperienced both in the coaching business and in media relations. Yahoo.com had published a critical piece about one of Singletary’s assistant coaches. O’Donnell asked the coach about that on their weekly coach’s interview, which was recorded on Thursday and scheduled to air on the KPIX-TV Saturday night preview show. Singletary was defensive and almost abusive of O’Donnell, who kept his cool. “I didn’t think it was that big a deal,” he said. He got through the interview, the coach looking worse for wear than O’Donnell.

Continued on page 33

Some in Bristol, Conn. – the worldwide headquarters of ESPN – think doing journalism is an important component of what they do. They’ve been hiring newspaper and magazine writers – some already with jobs, others off the unemployment line – for years now. But they are sending mixed messages. Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 11


Sports Media

Sports Media

Credibility questions sidetrack investigative journalism by Scott Lambert Unintended consequences often prove fruitful. Sports Illustrated’s recent series of articles chronicling cheating at Oklahoma State University were meant to reignite a long-running conversation about the seedy culture of big-time college athletics. Instead, Sports Illustrated started a conversation about credibility and perceptions of bias that overshadowed its original plan. Sports Illustrated’s series consisted of five parts. Part one alleged illegal cash payouts to football players; part two alleged academic fraud; part three detailed reports of illegal drug use; part four concentrated on stories of sex between hostesses and recruits; and part five examined the lives of athletes discarded by Oklahoma State. The writers are Pulitzer Prize-winner George Dohrmann and Oklahoma native Thayer Evans. The investigation claimed to have lasted more than 10 months and included interviews with more than 60 former Oklahoma State football players. Sports Illustrated trumpeted its series with boasts of a searing look at the underbelly of a major football program. The results were something else. Backlash started almost immediately after the first part ran. Evans’ former co-worker and ESPN national sports columnist Jason Whitlock sent out numerous tweets disparaging Evans’ credibility.

Page 12 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2013

He even went on Oklahoma radio and called him a “hack.” Former Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden accused Evans of a bias against Oklahoma State and relayed an interview he did with Evans, when Evans asked when his team would pull another “Okie Chokie.” Then players who had been interviewed started recanting their stories. Multiple players told Oklahoma news sources they had been misquoted, or that their quotes had been taken out of context. Oklahoma media started poking holes in the Sports Illustrated series by questioning Evans’ credibility, and by reporting on the number of players recanting what was said (even though many said at least some recanting would be expected). News sources reported many of the players interviewed were players who had been kicked off the team, or left for multiple reasons. The focus of the series shifted, at least on the Internet, from Oklahoma State to Evans and Sports Illustrated. More stories reported what was wrong with SI’s reporting than praised its efforts. National news media sources joined the chorus. ESPN and Deadspin both found mistakes in Sports Illustrated’s stories by doing some simple fact-checking and calling the school’s registrar to ask questions. They found that none of the professors in programs accused of academic fraud had been interviewed. A former SI fact-checker went on record saying that Sports Illustrated’s fact-checking was lacking. At the same time, Yahoosports.com ran a story about Southeastern Conference football players receiving illegal benefits, complete with documentation and names. (http://sports. yahoo.com/news/ncaaf--documents--textsreveal-impermissible-benefits-to-five-secplayers-202513237.html) This led to another hole in the Sports Illustrated story. The Sports Illustrated story took 10 months and had interviews with more than 60 people, but it had no documentation. It was one large “he said, she said” piece. Compared to the article written by

YahooSports, the Sports Illustrated series didn’t measure up. Interviews are crucial to an investigative piece, but there must be some form of documentation to support those interviews. Sports Illustrated never backed up its assertions, making the story completely about its own credibility. This allowed opinion to become the major factor in deciding whether to believe the story or not. Evans defended his lack of a bias against Oklahoma State in an interview with Sports Illustrated. Bias and perception of bias played a key role in the story. Readers who read the piece (and reporters who wrote about it) carried their own perceptions and bias into the story. Will Leitch wrote on www.sportsonearth. com that our perceptions have become so entrenched that the story seldom makes a difference on our opinions. In a story titled “Shock and Yawn” Leitch wrote (read his entire story at http://www.sportsonearth.com/ article/60758436/): “One of the major lessons we’re learning about journalism in this day and age is that, no matter how high-quality the piece (a level of quality that far exceeds this one), you’re just not going to change anybody’s minds anymore. We are all entrenched. Something like this enters the public sphere, we all come out of our corners, take turns whacking at it, and then retreat to our corner. We always stay in our corner.” Leitch’s argument that the audience is so entrenched in its own opinions and unable to change its mind is troubling. The Oklahoma State series serves as an anecdote that can be used to support Leitch’s opinion. Whitlock, who inserted himself into the narrative early by bashing Evans on Twitter (and later on Oklahoma radio), chimed in with his longtime argument that big-time college sports needs to change the entire “plantation” system that profits off the backs of athletes and discards them. The stories of cheating, through Whitlock’s eyes, miss the point altogether. Others took what they wanted out of the

piece and used that for their arguments. Some looked at the story with the jaded eyes of those who have seen this story done ad nauseum over the years and simply say, “So what?” The efforts by Oklahoma media to discredit the story, or to point out major flaws in it, certainly played to readers with a proOklahoma State point of view. While many in Oklahoma reported that at least some of the story must be believed, the stories were written for an audience that tilted pro-Oklahoma State. If a reader wants to take the time to look at all the articles written about this story, everything seems to come with a point of view. That includes the original Sports Illustrated piece. That piece was not a nuanced story about a big-time sports program. The story came with an opinion and failed to mention the millions of dollars oil investor T. Boone Pickens invested in the program during the years Sports Illustrated was investigating. Too much was missing from the Sports Illustrated piece. Sports Illustrated set out to tell a story about all that’s bad about big-time college football. YahooSports did the same thing by using travel documents to verify violations in NCAA football. Sports Illustrated took the wrong approach. Selling the argument that Oklahoma State became a big-time program through hundred-dollar handshakes, grade fixing, drugs and sex wasn’t going to work. It had all been said and written before. What Sports Illustrated really did was open up a conversation about investigative journalism. Credibility still ranks as the most important tool a journalist can have, and damaging that credibility with a series that was opinionated (and old news to start with) was not in the best interests of journalism as a whole. Risking credibility to become the centerpiece of an argument that already has entrenched opponents leads to an unhappy ending. Risking that credibility at the same time another organization brings out a similar piece with documented proof is even worse. g

When the story became about credibility, it allowed opinion to become the major factor in deciding whether to believe the story or not. Evans defended his lack of bias against Oklahoma State in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 13


Dispatch assistant sports editor Brian Hofmann said on Twitter, “It’s a bad morning watching your paper’s mistake go viral.” No doubt it was, just as that sinking feeling of, “Oh, no!” strikes in all newsrooms when a mistake works its way into publication. While the feeling might be common, how the Dispatch handled it diverges greatly compared to how many other newspapers treat errors. Online that day and in the next day’s print edition, the Dispatch acknowledged and apologized for the error. Not that it had a choice, given the attention drawn to the mistake. For the Dispatch, though, the practice to openly deal with corrections stands up whether for a national-attentiondrawing mistake or something as simple as the wrong date on an event.

Mistakes happen,

but how do we tell the readers? by Patty Louise

W

hen the NFL opened its season in early September, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning grabbed much of the attention when he guided his team to a win over Baltimore by throwing a record-tying seven touchdown passes. The next day, though, it was the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch that captured headlines over its own headline about the game. In its early print editions, the Dispatch’s page C3 headline said Elway – as in 53-year-old Hall of Fame, long-since retired, former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway – had thrown those gamewinning scores. Media across the country jumped on the error, which the Dispatch also inserted into the wire services story that ran above the fold Sept. 6. A photo of the incorrect headline made its way onto other media websites and became part of lengthy discussions on sports talk shows across the country.

Page 2 standard left behind A survey of 80 newspapers in the 16-state Gateway Journalism Review coverage area found that corrections are difficult to find. A search of websites showed 32 of the newspapers had corrections in August; the other newspapers, if they run the corrections, make them nearly impossible to find. Only one newspaper includes corrections as a permanent topic header. As newspapers evolve more toward online rather than print editions, the once-standard practice of Page 2 corrections has been left behind. No longer do readers have either a regular place to view corrections or a clear method on how to report an error. Only 12 of the 80 newspapers had a designated standards person or an online form for submitting corrections. That newspapers will make mistakes is a given, although most newspapers surveyed have yet to run a single locally generated correction this year. As the late Washington Post political columnist David Broder said during his 1973 speech upon accepting the Pulitzer Prize, “I would like to see us say – over and over, until the point has been made – that the newspaper that drops on your doorstep is a partial, hasty, incomplete, inevitably somewhat flawed and inaccurate rendering of some of the things we have heard about in the past 24 hours. ... But it’s the best we could do under the circumstances, and we will be back tomorrow with a corrected and updated version.” That sentiment and promise showed up in the 1690 newspaper “Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick” published by Benjamin Harris. In his one and only edition of the newspaper on Sept. 25 – making the first time a newspaper was printed in what would 100 years later be known as the United States – Harris wrote, “Nothing shall be entered, but what we have reason to believe is true, repairing to the best fountains for our Information. And when there appears any material mistake in anything that is collected, it shall be corrected in the next.” Over the next centuries, newspapers followed that rule with varying styles, sometimes following different formats in the same newspaper. Credit for setting a consistent method to handle corrections goes to former New York Times executive editor Abraham Rosenthal. In 1972 he standardized how corrections would be printed in each issue, designating Page 2 as where corrections would run. Newspapers across the country picked up on this idea. Readers soon learned to go to Page 2 to see corrections and the newspaper’s policy, and to find contact information for submitting notice that an error had been made. In recent years, as newspapers have trended toward more online publishing, that Page 2 standard has lagged – if not been left behind completely. In the ongoing migration from print to online, corrections have failed to make the jump to most websites. Just as in the pre-Rosenthal method days, the practice varies greatly – when it is followed at all. Some newspapers merely change the wrong information in an online story update without acknowledging there was an error. Others put a note on the article explaining a previous error has been fixed. Some run corrections separately as part of their online news stream.

Corrections guidelines for the 21st century For newspapers concerned about transparency regarding errors on their websites, four areas should be addressed: • Designate a person to receive the information. Under the “Contact Us” information, provide a specific person for readers to contact for submission of errors. Without a specific person designated, readers (remember, they are likely already angry at the paper) might believe their request falls into the online equivalent of the “circular file.” The contact information should include an email and a telephone number. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides contact information for correcting high school sports errors – a nice touch, as sports departments frequently have irate parents calling to correct statistics. • Make it reader-friendly and easy to use. The Chicago Tribune provides one of the best forms for doing so. It begins with a blank space for the person to explain the error. It then asks if it was seen online or in print (a tweak of the software here would allow for someone to choose both) and, if seen online, asks the person to provide the link. The form asks on what date the error was seen, and if it was in a story, photo caption, video or graphic. It then asks for the headline and the byline that accompanied the mistake. The submitter’s name, email, city, state and telephone number are requested. To better verify the submitter’s information, an area could be added to ask the person how he or she is aware of the error (i.e., “Were you a source in the story?” or “How are you familiar with the content published?”). • Set up a “Corrections” page on the website. This will allow a permanent place of record for readers to see new and archived corrections. Placing a correction as a separate item on the website’s “river flow” of stories, along with all other updates, allows the paper (or perhaps the person making the mistake) to make the flow move faster by updating a story several times. This bumps the correction far enough downriver to become lost to readers. Make all corrections, regardless of when they ran, available for free. Run corrections both as separate items and tagged onto the original story. • Include with all of this a clear policy explaining how the newspaper will handle submissions of error. Include details. Will all submissions warrant a response by the contact person, even if no error is found to correct? (They should.) Will corrections be printed only on errors of fact, or will clarifications also run? Will the policy include how the mistake was made, by whom, and how it came to the newspaper’s attention, such as from a reader? To further promote transparency, the policy should outline the internal process followed, from the receipt of a submitted form to the printed correction. g

Continued on next page

Page 14 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2013

Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 15


Continued from previous page Building credibility Since 2004, journalist Craig Silverman has viewed thousands of corrections for his blog “Regret the Error” – which, in December 2011, became part of the Poynter Institute. He recently was the winner of a Mirror award given by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications for best commentary in media industry reporting. Silverman points to the long tradition of corrections starting with Harris and including Rosenthal’s contributions as ways newspapers have built credibility. “A survey done in 1998 by the ASNE found that more than 60 percent of newspaper readers felt better about the quality of news coverage when they saw corrections,” Silverman said. “It also found that 78 percent of people who see corrections of errors they’ve noticed feel better about the newspaper.” His media commentary over the past several years repeatedly has stated that the online versions of newspapers are losing credibility as they ignore the need for a corrections format on their websites. “Online is not the same kind of ordered universe that newspapers were in the 1970s,” Silverman said. “Standards and leaders are still emerging. Readers know that journalists make mistakes. As a result, the absence of corrections won’t fool anyone; rather, it’s more likely to make readers suspicious and less willing to trust a news outlet.” Silverman and Scott Rosenberg of MediaBugs – an online site that helps readers get media errors corrected – founded the Report an Error Alliance. Its 130 members include the Missourian, the University of Missouri’s newspaper produced by its School of Journalism. Members who join endorse the idea of a

“report an error” link on media websites. Having a dedicated link tells readers accuracy is the priority. “That page should be updated at least daily, if not as it happens,” Silverman said. “Corrections should also be placed on the offending content as well, to ensure future readers see the disclosure. Too many news organizations will simply scrub away an error by editing the story and not also place a correction for the record.” Consistency counts Of the 80 newspaper sites viewed, just one – the Jamestown Sun in North Dakota – keeps a consistent spot on its website for corrections. The Sun’s managing editor, Kathy Steiner, said the “Corrections” tab was created about five years ago and mirrors corrections that run in the daily newspaper. “The corrections in the print edition run on Page A3, in the same specific place,” Steiner said. “Errors are to be corrected if they occur, and promptly. That is what maintains credibility. By not correcting an error that comes to our attention, we lose credibility.” Readers can go to the Sun’s website and view under the “Corrections” tab the 269 corrections dating back to Jan. 30, 2008. That feature, while it provides transparency and is what the Report the Error Alliance recommends, is being dropped. Steiner said that in the near future, when the website is updated, there no longer will be a specific subcategory for corrections. The Chicago Tribune provides the easiest method to submit corrections, and the easiest method for readers to find them. The website’s “Contact Us” information provides a specific link for reporting an error. Clicking on that takes the reader to a detailed form to submit the information. It asks what type of error was made (whether

in a story, graphic, caption or video) and asks for details, such as when it ran, under what headline and under what byline. It also includes a telephone number to call if that is a preferred contact method. As well, when a reader clicks on the contact information, the 10 most recent corrections to have run appear. Later ones appear in the online archives. Tribune standards editor Margaret Holt said this policy continues a wide-reaching accuracy program started in 1991, when the then-public editor’s office was established and the newsroom began a varied process of tracking and analyzing mistakes. “We moved further in 1996, when we adopted an accuracy form in which we asked staffers to explain mistakes,’’ Holt said. “We made it part of the culture. For some years a newsroom goal was to improve the quality of work. That is very different from telling people we want to reduce the number of corrections. If you do that, people will just quit telling you about mistakes; the number of corrections will drop, to be sure, but it would be delusional to conclude that the quality of work has improved.” When the newspaper moved to digital printing, Holt and Bill Adee, senior vice president for digital, worked to have the accuracy and ethics values follow. “Bill and the other masthead editors view the Chicago Tribune as one newsroom; people are producing work for print and digital editions all the time,” Holt said. “We say in our ethics code that we expect the same high standards across all our publishing platforms.”

Continued on page 20

That newspapers will make mistakes is a given, although most newspapers surveyed have yet to run a single locally generated correction this year. As the late Washington Post political columnist David Broder said during his 1973 speech upon accepting the Pulitzer Prize, “I would like to see us say – over and over, until the point has been made – that the newspaper that drops on your doorstep is a partial, hasty, incomplete, inevitably somewhat flawed and inaccurate rendering of some of the things we have heard about in the past 24 hours. ... But it’s the best we could do under the circumstances, and we will be back tomorrow with a corrected and updated version.” Page 16 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2013

Corrections have their own story to tell by Patty Louise For the 80 newspaper websites chosen, five were picked from each of the 16 GJR primary coverage states. Newspapers chosen were the largest daily, the state capital newspaper (or the state’s second-largest paper if the first and second category yielded the same paper), a small daily, a weekly newspaper and one paper picked at random. Only newspapers with both an online and print edition were chosen. Most “Contact Us” options emphasized how to subscribe to the print editions, send in news tips, purchase a classified ad, buy an online viewing package or call in with a delivery complaint. Few contained directions on submitting information for a correction. Each newspaper was examined in as many as three ways for this: the “Contact Us” options, its frequently asked questions (FAQ) page and a site search typing in “corrections.” Thirty of the 80 newspapers have no corrections listed at all on their websites. While the other 50 newspapers had corrections, 18 of those papers did not run a correction in August. Some of those papers have no corrections for 2013. Corrections run in August by the other 31 newspapers totaled 438. Of those, 219 – 50 percent – came from the Associated Press. For most of those newspapers, the AP errors made up a significant portion of their August corrections; seven newspapers ran only AP corrections for the month. A state-by-state summary of what was found as of September: • Arkansas: The Arkansas DemocratGazette credited “Alert Reader” for pointing out errors leading to two of its 29 August corrections. Those were the only two all online readers could see; the other 27 – listed under a “Getting It Straight” headline – could be viewed only by paid subscribers to the online site. • Illinois: The Chicago Tribune lists under contact information a link to report an error. One of its 24 corrections explained that a photo of a yellow cake mistakenly ran with a recipe for chocolate cake. • Indiana: The Indianapolis Star’s online reader “Contact Us” form sets as the first option a way to report a correction. The Times of Northwest Indiana ran 31 corrections in August, with 13 of them local. All the AP ones said “Corrections”; the style for the local ones varied. • Iowa: The Des Moines Register has a reader comment form for feedback, although corrections are not a choice on the drop-down menu. One of the two August corrections fixed an error in a letter to the editor. The Iowa City Press Citizen’s only August correction came from a guest column; the newspaper’s last local correction ran in November 2012. Of the Sioux City Journal’s 27 August corrections, six were local, including running the wrong comics page and misidentifying a high school football team mascot.

• Kansas: All 18 corrections in August in the Wichita Eagle were from the AP; the paper’s archive turned up no local corrections this year. The Topeka Capital-Journal last ran a correction of any kind in October 2007. The Lawrence Journal-World last ran a correction in 2001. • Kentucky: The Louisville CourierJournal hasn’t run corrections so far this year. Of the Lexington Herald-Leader’s 21 corrections in August, one was local (from an editorial); the remaining 20 were from the AP. The Paducah Sun’s 18 corrections in August were all local, including running an incorrect classifieds page and making errors in seven obituaries. • Michigan: The Detroit Free Press puts corrections at the top of the original story. Errors made in the last 30 days are free for viewing; archived ones are available by buying an online viewing package. The Lansing State Journal’s correction form states, “Nobody’s perfect, right? Well, we strive to be. But we can’t do it without your help. Do you see misspelled words, incorrect grammar, things that don’t make sense? Do you have questions about why we covered a specific event in a certain way? We want to know what you think.” Their corrections ran within a story as an editor’s note. • Minnesota: The Minneapolis Star Tribune has an email set up specifically for concerns about accuracy. Its only local correction for August came from Jim Williams, in his “WingNut” column about birds. “The genus name for Mallard is Anas, as many of you

know. Not Anus, as it appears in the paper. That is the name of something else. I’d like to blame it on my editor or the proofreader or anyone, but the error is mine.” The St. Paul Pioneer Press provides an online form with the option for the submitter to provide contact information to “make sure we understand the suggestion better.” The paper’s last correction ran in May. The St. Cloud Times ran its last correction in January. • Missouri: Readers of the St. Louis PostDispatch need to hunt a bit to find corrections, but they are there – and, as of September, they are much easier to find. While the newspaper sets a “Corrections” link at the bottom of its website, the link takes readers to a site that has not been updated since October 2012. Using the search feature on the website, and typing in “Corrections and Clarifications” – the headline used for those items – shows that five ran in August. From January to August of this year, 19 were found using that method. However, going to the advanced search function and simply typing in “Corrections” brings up a few that are not found the previous way. For August, an additional one was found. July showed one, when the previous search had none show up. Most of those were local corrections. It appears that the Post-Dispatch significantly changed its policy starting in September. For that month, the paper ran 96 corrections, with all of them from the AP. Neither that search, nor one using “Corrections and Clarifications,” turned up any local corrections for the month that were online.

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Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 17


Stating the case for corrections This chart contains corrections data for some of the bigger papers in GJR’s 16-state coverage area. These are 48 of 80 papers surveyed. For the full list, please visit www.gatewayjr.org.

STATE

Ohio Oklahoma Tennessee Arkansas Illinois Missouri Minnesota Kentucky Indiana Michigan Iowa Wisconsin Kansas Nebraska North Dakota South Dakota

NEWSPAPER

CORRECTION INFO LISTED WITH CONTACT US

SITE SEARCH FOUND CORRECTIONS LISTED

NO. OF CORRECTIONS IN AUGUST

The Cleveland Plain dealer

n

Y

0

The Columbus disPaTCh

n

Y

24

The bellefonTaine examiner

n

n

0

The oklahoman

n

Y

38

The Tulsa World

n

Y

23

The norman TransCriPT

n

n

0

The Tennessean

n

Y

13

The CommerCial aPPeal

n

n

0

The knoxville neWs senTinel

n

Y

8

The arkansas demoCraT-GazeTTe

n

Y

29

The Jonesboro sun

n

n

0

The harrison dailY Times

n

n

0

The ChiCaGo Tribune

n

Y

24

The sPrinGfield sTaTe Journal-reGisTer

Y

n

0

The harrisburG dailY reGisTer

Y

n

0

The sT. louis PosT-disPaTCh

Y

Y

7

The Jefferson CiTY neWs Tribune

Y

Y

1

The kansas CiTY sTar

Y

Y

21

The minneaPolis sTar Tribune

Y

Y

28

The sT. Paul Pioneer Press

Y

Y

0

The moose lake sTar GazeTTe

n

n

0

The louisville Courier-Journal

n

Y

0

The lexinGTon herald-leader

Y

Y

21

The frankforT sTaTe Journal

n

Y

2

The indianaPolis sTar

Y

n

0

The Times of norThWesT indiana

n

Y

31

The elkharT TruTh

n

Y

2

The deTroiT free Press

n

Y

1

The deTroiT neWs

n

n

0

The lansinG sTaTe Journal

Y

Y

1

The des moines reGisTer

n

Y

2

The ioWa CiTY Press CiTizen

n

Y

1

The sioux CiTY Journal

n

Y

27

The milWaukee Journal senTinel

n

Y

13

The WisConsin sTaTe Journal

n

Y

12

The Green baY Press GazeTTe

n

n

0

The WiChiTa eaGle

n

Y

18

The ToPeka CaPiTal-Journal

n

n

0

The laWrenCe Journal-World

n

Y

0

The omaha World-herald

n

Y

16

The linColn Journal sTar

n

Y

8

The beaTriCe dailY sun

n

Y

13

The diCkinson Press

n

n

0

The Grand forks herald

n

n

0

The bismark Tribune

n

Y

12

The Pierre CaPiTal Journal

n

Y

0

The miTChell dailY rePubliC

n

n

The raPid CiTY Journal

n

0 17


Mistakes happen Continued from page 16 The online form feeds to the reader help desk, similar to how print readers follow directions for corrections through the Page 2 instructions. They all then find their way to Holt. “I work directly with the reporters and editors to determine if there is an error,” she said. “Our bias is to fix mistakes, no matter how small, as quickly as possible.” A commitment to honesty Even with all that transparency, the Tribune took extra steps regarding a Page 1 story July 21 about a blind man and his guide dog. In the story, the man said he lost his sight while serving in the Gulf War. The story contained a five-paragraph description of the explosion he said resulted in his blindness. A reader contacted the paper with concerns on the accuracy of the description of the explosion. The paper then checked Army records and questioned the man. He admitted he had not been blinded in an explosion, was

Corrections have their own story Continued from page 17 • Nebraska: All 18 of the Omaha World-Herald’s August corrections, the 13 in the Beatrice Daily Sun and the eight in the Lincoln Journal-Star came from the Associated Press. The North Platte Telegraph’s two corrections this year were both local. • North Dakota: The Jamestown Sun puts corrections in a permanent place on its website. Its local corrections fixed dates and names and noted when incorrect information had been provided. The Bismark Tribune’s 12 corrections all came from wire service stories. The West Fargo Pioneer’s latest correction ran in April 2012. It was the only one for that year. • Ohio: The state’s largest newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, had no corrections listed for August. The Columbus Dispatch lists each correction separately. The Cincinnati Enquirer states it will correct all errors of substance; fewer than 10 were found for 2013. • Oklahoma: The Oklahoman ran 38 corrections in August, all but three from wire- service reports. No detail proved too small. The newspaper corrected an Associated Press story about a preseason NFL game to reflect that a pass caught by a player was for 33 yards, not 34. The AP corrections were labeled “Correction”; the local ones were labeled “Setting It Straight.” The Tulsa World includes clarifications as well as corrections, and all 23 of its corrections were from its own reporting. • South Dakota: The Pierre Capital Journal has run two corrections this year, both for local sports errors. The Mitchell Daily Republic last ran a correction online in 2006. The Rapid City Journal had 16 of its 17 August corrections coming from Associated Press

Page 20 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2013

not a veteran and had lost his sight because of diabetes. The Tribune’s “Note to Readers” – labeled as such rather than as a correction – said the inaccurate information came from the man in the story. It stated the paper “failed to seek corroboration for his story.” The note details what the man said in follow-up interviews. It ended with the Tribune saying it is taking steps to correct lapses in corroborating facts in its reporting and apologized to readers. Holt said it was clear the story called for a larger explanation. “It merited further explanation, and we provided it,” she said. “As former Chicago Mayor (Richard) Daley was fond of saying, ‘Simple as that.’  ” Silverman said running corrections, contrary to what newspapers fear, actually builds credibility with readers, according to the 1998 ASNE survey. “It upholds our commitment to be honest and transparent about the mistakes we make,” he said. “Corrections are a good thing. Readers expect them. By not publishing and promoting corrections online, newspapers and other journalism organizations are not upholding one of the basic responsibilities we have.” g

stories. The one local correction leaves unclear what happened: “In ‘Ten new staff members prepare for start of school’ published Aug. 21, the story misstated the number of years Colette Kellogg was working in food services. Also, she did not move to Grand Forks Air Force Base with her husband, Ken.’” • Tennessee: The Tennessean’s August corrections included a mistake about which exit out of a building a councilman used after being arrested. Their 13 items – all local – for the month also included two labeled as clarifications. All eight of the Knoxville News Sentinel’s August corrections came from the Associated Press. The Paris Post-Intelligencer had two corrections, including this one: “We blew it. We tried to give a plug Wednesday for a couple more upcoming performances of ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’ but gave the wrong dates.” To see the correct dates, or any correction in full, the paper charges a minimum of $5 a day. • Wisconsin: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel runs a separate corrections listing and also tags the story at the top saying it has been updated because of an error. One correction explained that a photo of a tall ship that went with a calendar item was incorrect, as there would be no tall ships at the event. The Wisconsin State Journal ran 12 corrections, all but one from the Associated Press. The one local correction was due to a meeting canceled after the calendar ran. The Green Bay Press Gazette has a link on its “Contact Us” page labeled “Corrections,” but the page is blank. Under “About Us,” an email is listed to send corrections to the community engagement editor. A search of corrections of the News-Herald Media listed some corrections, but it was unclear which of the 10 daily newspapers under that umbrella ran the incorrect information. g

Monumental muckups memorialized When former New York Times Executive Editor Abraham “A.M.” Rosenthal died in May 2006, his obituary lauded his numerous accomplishments during his 56 years at the newspaper. He had won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting and led the paper through coverage of the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers. He also was credited as initiating the now industry standard practice of running corrections in a fixed spot for readers to find. The New York Times chose Page 2 for its corrections, and many newspapers followed. He and the Times began the practice in 1972. It is perhaps then both ironic and a tribute to Rosenthal’s insistence on accuracy that his own obituary needed a correction the next day in the paper’s main competitor. The Washington Post’s obituary remarked on Rosenthal’s relationship with the late NYT publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger. Sulzberger, who died last year, was very much alive at the time of Rosenthal’s passing. Other corrections have endured to become classics in newspaper lore and beyond: • Once the New York Times jumped into the business of running corrections each day on Page 2, the “Corrections” column quickly became a mustread. No detail was too trivial to escape correcting in the name of accuracy. One of the more famous ones ran in April 1981: “An article about decorative cooking incorrectly described a presentation of Muscovy duck by Michael Fitoussi, a New York chef. In preparing it, Mr. Fitoussi uses a duck that has been killed.” The correction became the title of the book “Kill Duck Before Serving,” published in 2002. It is a collection of some of the more unusual corrections to run in the New York Times. • In July 2004, the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader ran a Page 1 correction apologizing for failing to cover the civil rights movement in the 1960s. It led off a package of stories on the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act. • In 1987, advice columnist Abigail Van Buren, a.k.a. “Dear Abby,” offered advice to an Iowa farmer who had been hiccupping nonstop for 65 years. She said the man found temporary relief through “carbon monoxide.” The next day she corrected that to “carbon dioxide.” • In May 2008, the Washington Post misspelled the 1987 winning word – “serrefine” – in an article about that year’s National Spelling Bee. • In a recent story, the San Diego (Calif.) Tribune, in a correction titled “Missing-dog story proved incorrect,” said that the paper “incorrectly reported that a guide dog owned by a blind 7-year-old boy was missing. The boy, Robert Maurice, son of Lila Maurice of Ramona, is not blind, and the dog, which does not belong to the boy and is not a guide dog, has been found. The story was based on a police report and from information provided by a relative. The Tribune regrets the errors.” g Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 21


Around The Arch

Around The Arch

The Rev. Biondi: Still swinging away

Media notes compiled by Benjamin Israel KSDK Nicole Berlie joined KSDK in September as the “Today in St. Louis” morning anchor. Bertie comes from KETV in Omaha, where she was the weekday morning anchor. She also has worked in Evansville, Ind. Sharon Stevens left KSDK in July after 20 years as an education reporter. She previously worked for 10 years at KTVIChannel 2 as an education reporter. Stevens was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2011. KSDK also bid farewell to reporter Ashley Yarchin this summer. Yarchin, who started working at KSDK in 2009, will be studying art history in New York. AWARDS St. Louis American Legal Services of Eastern Missouri presented a media award to the St. Louis American for “furthering equal access to justice through its newspaper.” Belleville News-Democrat George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer won an IRE award in the “Print/Online Small” division for “Hidden Suffering, Hidden Death,” which investigated the deaths of severely disabled adults being cared for in their own homes when the state agency designed to protect them would not do so. Pawlaczyk and Hundsdorfer found that the Illinois Department of Human Services ignored reports of abuse, neglect and horrific living conditions because, the agency claimed,

the victims were “ineligible for services.” As a result, the agency’s inspector general resigned and the governor ordered a revamping of the agency. Missouri Press Association The Missouri Press Association honored newspapers in 79 categories with first-, second- and third-place awards for each – and, in some cases, honorable mentions. St. Louis-area weeklies with circulations greater than 7,000 swept the top three positions in their class for overall excellence: The St. Louis American won first place, Missouri Lawyers Weekly placed second and the Jefferson County Leader took third. No St. Louis-area papers placed in the top three for overall excellence. Here are the St. Louis-area newspapers that finished first in the individual categories: Weeklies with circulations of 7,001 and above Arnold-Imperial Leader, Best Editorial Cartoon: “Solution to 911 mandate,” Judy Dixon. Jefferson County Leader: Best Columnist-Serious, Patrick Martin; Best Editorial Pages, Best Local Business Coverage, Kim Robertson, Kevin Carbery, Steve Taylor and Clementine Carbery; Best Story About Religion, “End of an era: 140-year-old First,” Steve Taylor. Missouri Lawyers Weekly Best Business Story, “Purse Stings,” Heather Cole; Best Coverage of Government, “Lobbying blitz..., Court plan...,” Scott Lauck; Best Story About Education, “Keefe: I’m not Biondi’s ‘butt boy,’” Melissa Meinzer; Best Page Design, “Around the World,” Ryan O’Shea.

by Roy Malone St. Louis American: Best Editorial, “Minority inclusion: Getting it done,” St. Louis American media kit, Kevin Jones; Best Sports Pages, Best Video: “Judge Jimmie Edwards Stellar Performer,” Rebecca Rivas; Best Front-to-Back Newspaper Design, Best Regularly Scheduled Section, Sandra Jordan, “Your Health Matters”; Best Advertising Sales Tool, Kevin Jones, “American Information”; Best One-Time Special Section, “Staff Diversity A Business Imperative”; Best Newspaper-Produced Insert, Angie Jackson, “Survivor Stories”; Best Story About History, “Pioneering nun honored,” Rebecca Rivas. St. Louis Business Journal, Best Front Page, Best Special Section, “30 Under 30,” Vince Brennan; Best Investigative Reporting, “Agritech” E.B. Solomont; Best Information Graphic, “Cash Crop,” Michael Behrens. SunCrest Call – St. Louis, Call, Most Effective Use of Small Space, Weeklies, first place, newspaper staff, Show Me Lanes. Washington Missourian – Best Breaking News Story, Best Feature Story, “Unexpected Family Reunion,” Karen Cernich; Best Sports Photo, “Wednesday Over the Top Bill Battle,” Best Ad Idea – Promotion of Advertiser Weeklies, Weekend Cafe Palermo Print Promo, Best Coverage of Rural Life or Agriculture. Dailies with circulations of 15,000 or greater St. Louis Beacon – Best Story About Education: “Clayton High, response to picketing,” Dale Singer. St. Louis Post-Dispatch – “Environmental subsidies,” Jeremy Kohler and Tim Logan.

For more on the St. Louis media world, scan the QR code! Page 22 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2013

The Rev. Lawrence Biondi, as outgoing president of St. Louis University, used his last monthly newsletter to take a final swing at a professor he’s battled for more than two decades. The two-page rant, against Avis Meyer, was near the end of Biondi’s long missive to faculty, staff, students and others. But it was longer than any of the other subjects he discussed during his 25-year tenure as head of the Jesuit university. Meyer outlasted Biondi’s attempts to dislodge him as unofficial adviser to the student newspaper, the University News. Meyer was ordered never to set foot in the newspaper’s office. But the student journalists respect Meyer and meet separately with him to get his editing advice for each issue. Meyer said Biondi blamed him for any articles he sees as critical of him or SLU. In the newsletter, Biondi rehashed his criticism of Meyer, whom SLU sued in federal court for copyright infringement several years ago. Meyer had sought to incorporate the newspaper’s name when it appeared it might be driven off the campus. When this didn’t happen, Meyer relinquished the name. Nevertheless, Biondi instigated the lawsuit six weeks later, hiring a large law firm to go after Meyer. After 18 months the suit was settled out of court, with Biondi claiming victory and blaming Meyer, who had to spend more than $100,000 defending himself and give up $6,000 from a summer course he taught. (“I’m broke,” Meyer said). SLU, it is estimated, spent more than three times what Meyer did on the lawsuit, which a U. News cartoon called “frivolous.” In a newsletter three years ago, Biondi wrote: “The court’s order shows that Dr. Meyer is responsible for all that has transpired ... and led to a lengthy court case that the university would rather have avoided.” The U. News called this explanation “mean spirited” and noted Biondi never mentioned that Meyer had relinquished the newspaper’s name six weeks before the lawsuit was filed. And Biondi still didn’t mention that fact in his last newsletter attack on Meyer. Biondi’s moves against the newspaper, and Meyer, had always been carried out by his subordinates. (The two men never talked to each other). Many SLU administrators were forced out over the years, including Joseph Weixlman, the provost who had to tell

The Rev. Lawrence Biondi

Avis Meyer

Meyer he was barred from the newsroom. While members of the SLU’s board of directors saw the friendly and efficient side of Biondi, staff and faculty members expressed fear about getting on his angry side. Meyer openly called him a bully. Yet many faculty members earlier this year rose up to produce a no-confidence vote against Biondi. This led to his announcement in May that he would resign the presidency, which he did as of Sept. 1. Still, there are reports that outspoken professors on Biondi’s enemies list were being punished through denial of ordinary pay raises, which Biondi controlled. Biondi has called his critics “isolated malcontents.” He said he will take a yearlong sabbatical; Bill Kauffman, a Biondi confidant and general counsel for SLU, will be interim president, apparently until a new one is selected. Biondi said in the newsletter he was responding to a letter to the editor in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in August by Charles Klotzer, founder of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Klotzer defended Meyer, criticized the lawsuit and called Biondi vindictive, uncaring and self-absorbed. Biondi wrote: “I wish to clarify for the general public and our own SLU community the comments in Mr. Klotzer’s letter.” Biondi wrote: “The university sought to resolve the matter amicably and, in fact, participated in mediation with Dr. Meyer. Only after these attempts at resolution were unsuccessful did the university file a lawsuit.” Meyer disputes this, saying, “That’s not my memory of what happened. There was no purpose for the lawsuit. I had already relinquished the name. They wanted to ignore that.” One former administrator, Phil Lyons, had to tell Meyer in the summer of 2006 that he was being removed as faculty adviser to the U. News, and that Meyer was being denied a $1,500 yearly stipend that came

from ad revenues. Lyons said in an interview that he regretted what he was forced to do, especially since it came after Meyer’s grown son, Jason, had died of a congenital heart ailment on June 12, 2006. At the time, Lyons was associate vice president for student development, chaired the U. News advisory board and oversaw the paper’s fiscal affairs. He said he requested that the action against Meyer be delayed because of the grieving that Meyer and his family were doing. An assistant to Biondi forwarded the request, but it came back that it had to be done without delay, Lyons said. He said he regretted doing it because he and the student journalists respected Meyer. Lyons left the next year, after 15 years at SLU; he now is vice chancellor of administration and student life services (chief financial officer) at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. Lyons said the warring between Biondi and the U. News dates back to the time SLU sold St. Louis University Hospital, and many in the community and at the university criticized Biondi for it. “Biondi is a shrewd businessman and the university has prospered for it. ... Biondi’s impact has been on bricks and mortar,” Lyons said, while others at the university have influenced students and their development. He said Biondi was good at handling SLU’s finances, and the fact that he spent so much to go after Meyer indicated “this meant quite a bit to him.” As for Meyer, Lyons said that, with his tenure protection, “the only one who can remove Avis is Avis. ... He’s the only one to take a punch from Biondi and is still standing.” g Meyer is on GJR’s board of advisers.

Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 23


Around The Arch

Around The Arch

Loesch’s celebrity turns her journalism professor into a cynic by Terry Ganey When the Missouri Legislature failed to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a tax cut bill, St. Louis Post-Dispatch political reporter Kevin McDermott knew where to find the far right’s reaction. Dana Loesch. “FIFTEEN WORTHLESS REPUBLICANS!” Loesch screamed into the Twittersphere shortly after 15 Missouri House Republicans refused to join the override attempt. Loesch’s quote appeared high in McDermott’s story. “Most political writers in the state have to pay attention to what she’s saying not because she’s a font of wisdom,” McDermott explained. “As a conservative barometer, she represents a certain part of the right-wing spectrum.” St. Louis Tea Party founder Dana Loesch, 35, is a St. Louis radio broadcaster. She’s never sought public office nor covered a political campaign as a journalist. But she developed a following as a popular local Internet blogger. Now in the world of strong opinion, where facts get lost amid all the shouting, Loesch’s in-your-face conservative persona has received an outsized share of notoriety. “People of Dana’s ilk are a part of what radio is today,” said Frank Absher, executive director of the St. Louis Media History Foundation. “She’s wise to take advantage of the fact that her schtick is what’s going on now.” Absher pointed out that, in the 1930s, millions listened spellbound to Father Charles Coughlin, a radio broadcaster who supported Hitler’s policies while railing against Jewish bankers. “Everybody was listening to the guy rant on with vile anti-Semitic comments,” Absher said. “But people listened to him, and radio stations carried him.” For Loesch (pronounced “Lesh”), matching a right-wing agenda to a compelling onthe-air presence contributed to her emergence. Television networks, for fear of being labeled as a part of the “liberal media conspiracy,” added a place for her at the roundtable of Sunday morning news talk shows. Her views on the national debt, presidential politics and foreign policy were shared

with millions of viewers along with the likes of George Will, Donna Brazile and Jon Karl. She debated constitutional law with Eliot Spitzer. Loesch, who did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, has come a long way from her days as a part-time blogger for the Post-Dispatch. Loesch graduated from Fox High School in Jefferson County and attended St. Louis Community College at Meramec before transferring to Webster University to study journalism, according to a profile in the St. Louis Riverfront Times. Don Corrigan, a professor of journalism at Webster’s School of Communications, remembers her as Dana Eaton (her maiden name) who transferred in with a group of Meramec students. “She didn’t have the same fire in the belly as the others, and I was amazed when she started popping up on all these websites and news shows and sounding so strident,” Corrigan said. “To me, she was a small, shy girl trying to get through. She didn’t stand out at all, compared to the others who were excited by journalism.” Eaton was a student in Corrigan’s print journalism class. Watching her now, he doubts she has the intellectual grounding to really be steeped in conservative philosophy. “I suspect she’s developed this persona and she knows how to use the talking points, but

Page 24 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2013

she’s not the kind who has read the books that make you the classic intellectual conservative who speaks to issues from some kind of depth,” Corrigan said. Dana Eaton dropped out of Webster after meeting Chris Loesch, her husband-to-be. She disclosed some of her own personal background while guest hosting the Glenn Beck program. “I was a broke, unwed student from a single-parent household when I became pregnant with my first child,” she said. Loesch has had money troubles. St. Louis County Court records show she was sued in 2002 by a New Hampshire corporation for failing to pay a credit-card bill. When she did not appear in court, a default judgment was issued, ordering payment of $2,008 in principal, interest and fees. Jefferson County Circuit Court records show the Missouri Department of Revenue filed a case against Christopher and Dana Loesch in January 2011, seeking $2,009 in back taxes. A tax lien was filed, and in June of this year the amount was repaid. Loesch came to public attention during political protests, and from posting a blog titled “Mamalogues,” a weekly fixture on the Post-Dispatch website. Her candid and clever writing discussed the travails of a housewife raising two children.

Pontificating on all things political and social, she makes no claim to being fair and balanced. She entertains people while feeding their anger. Sometimes her supercharged rhetoric has caused problems.

Then, luck and timing advanced her career. She co-founded the St. Louis Tea Party just as television networks searched for a conservative voice. “There weren’t a ton of Tea Party people who did well on TV, and she did,” said Eric Boehlert, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, a site dedicated to correcting conservative misinformation in the media. “If you go back to 2009, they desperately had to have that Tea Party voice, and she benefited from that.” Loesch’s beauty, poise and gleaming white teeth met the standards for a medium in which appearance matters as much as substance. Pontificating on all things political and social, she makes no claim to being fair and balanced. She entertains people while feeding their anger. Sometimes her supercharged rhetoric has caused problems. When approving of Marines urinating on Taliban fighters’ bodies in Afghanistan, Loesch said, “I’d drop trou and do it, too.” CNN commentator Piers Morgan has banned her from his show for a remark she made following the beheading of a British soldier. Still, Loesch gets invited to public speaking engagements. Guns and abortion are favorite topics. She explained the Constitution at a Tea Party rally in Wisconsin, talked up the Second Amendment to Colorado gun activists and advised conservative Republican women in South Carolina. Boehlert believes Loesch has two public personalities. The one on “ABC This Week” is that of a thoughtful representative of the right. The other is her name-calling social media character. “She really does occupy the sophomore, junior-high level in debates, with some really nasty personal smears and using Twitter for name-calling,” Boehlert said. Loesch has contributed to our deep political divide. In their book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American constitutional system collided with the new politics of extremism,” Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote about the business model of extremism that pits the far right against the far left.

“CNN has settled on having regular showdowns pitting a bedrock liberal against a bedrock conservative,” the authors wrote. “For viewers, there is reinforcement that the only dialogue in the country is between polarized left and right, and that the alternative is cynical public relations with no convictions at all.” Loesch is part of that dialogue. She has a number of detractors and supporters. The blog “Dana Busted” tracks her mistakes and refers to her as “a serial liar.” Wonkette, the left-leaning online magazine, has called her “a sniveling rage sack.” The Libertarian Republican, a website devoted to the most conservative elements of the GOP, says she is “America’s sexiest right-winger.” Loesch’s career got a boost in October 2010, when Andrew Breitbart, a conservative publisher, hired her to be a contributing editor to his news aggregation site Breitbart.com. She also supplied copy to BigJournalism.com. Boehlert, the author of “Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet changed politics and the press,” said Loesch’s writing approach was an adaptation of right-wing radio, “with namecalling and factual errors, and knowing that your listeners are never going to call and seek corrections.” Last June, Loesch wrote a piece for a right-wing blog, RedState, which erroneously claimed the Supreme Court’s decision recognizing the rights of same-sex couples was a big loss for Democrats. Loesch wrote that Democrats had pushed for passage of the federal anti-gay-marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act, which the high court struck down. McDermott called her on the mistake in his own online posting, pointing out she was getting “creative in outlining” the history of the law. What Loesch had written was the “opposite of true,” McDermott said. But accuracy, objectivity, inquiry and verification are not to be found in Loesch’s toolbox. She is not a journalist and does not claim to be. In a lawsuit Loesch filed last year against Breitbart.com, she called herself a “writer, speaker and commentator whose profile has risen nationwide.”

In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in St. Louis, she claimed to be in “indentured servitude in limbo.” She had attempted to break her contract, and the suit said Breitbart.com had refused to release her while, at the same time, it refused to publish her work. By that time, Breitbart had passed away. The suit was later settled. With the loss of the Breitbart.com platform, some think Loesch’s career has hit a flat spot. But she still has a perch at “The Dana Show,” a three-hour afternoon talkfest on KFTK-FM in St. Louis, and occasional television appearances. Her place seems secure on conservative radio. Absher, who worked for five different radio stations in the St. Louis market before he retired, said a good general manager puts people on the air who attract listeners. Why are the airwaves filled with so many conservative commentators? Absher’s theory is that “liberals won’t embrace extreme radio, while conservatives will go to where people are saying what they want to hear. We seek out those things which don’t challenge us too much.” Loesch’s former journalism professor has been affected by all the attention Loesch has received. “I had good journalists and writers who struggled to find jobs,” Corrigan said. “They were hard-working students who were enthused and studied hard. Now they work for Podunk weeklies for $20,000 to $30,000 a year. “All the stuff she says on TV shows she’s shallow, but in a way the criticism here is for our media, because they actually propped up somebody like that as a legitimate spokesperson. I give her credit for being adept at pushing the right buttons to get where she is. There is no credit to be given to our form of television today, or for the people who have given us this made-up persona. It’s made me very cynical about the media world that we live in.” (Gateway Journalism Review publisher William H. Freivogel contributed information for this story.) g

Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 25


Around The Arch

Around The Arch

In July, fast-food workers demonstrated for higher wages as part of a national effort.

Jo Mannies | The St. Louis Beacon

Covering the demands of low-wage workers by Sharon Wittke Since last November, low-paid McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King employees periodically have walked picket lines carrying signs that read “Supersize Our Wages” and “Living Wages – Not Endless War” to bring national attention to the plight of the country’s low-wage earners. By the end of July, a series of rolling strikes hit the fast-food chains in the Midwest, with workers in St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and Flint, Mich., demanding an increase in the minimum wage. Even though big national and international stories involving Syria and Egypt dominated the news, the mainstream media provided substantial coverage of the fast-food workers’ strikes. The coverage touched the bases but often did not probe deeply into what life is like without a livable wage. Most news agencies reported that fast-food workers at chain restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s usually earn minimum wage ($7.25 an hour nationally) or just slightly higher. Working 40 hours a week, these low-wage earners can expect to make about $15,000 a year with no vacation time or sick leave, no retirement fund and no health care, since many low-wage earners can’t afford the insurance offered by their employers.

Page 26 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2013

Journalists reported that critics of the strikes claim fast-food employment is designed for entry-level employees such as students, and that those who remain at minimum-wage jobs lack the drive to compete for higher-paying jobs. Critics say raising the minimum wage to meet the food workers’ demands of $15 per hour would hurt the nation’s job creators and ultimately result in the loss of thousands of low-paid jobs, because companies would either downsize or seek ways to automate. Reporters have covered the story from different angles and pointed out each side’s shortcomings. In an Aug. 29 online story, the Wall Street Journal downplayed the impact of the strikes. It reported that “McDonald’s Corp. and Wendy’s Co. said the protests had minimal effects on operations and that they were unaware of any shutdowns,” and discussed in detail union involvement, even mentioning the six-figure salary of one of the union organizers. In contrast, a New Republic story Aug. 2 covered the impact in an entirely different light: “Striking workers can number as few as 10, protesting outside while most of their colleagues carry on inside. But the one-day strikes have shined a national spotlight on the low wages paid by companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s.” The Huffington Post commented on My Fox Atlanta’s insensitivity when it ran a McDonald’s ad for a free Big Mac deal when readers clicked on the Aug. 29 story about the strikes. The online news organization reported that the ad was later removed. The media’s scope has been broad, but reporters are skirting underlying issues such as a growing unease about income disparity, the slow pace of an economic recovery that promised to restore middle-class jobs (but isn’t) and Washington’s inability to focus on the country’s economic problems. What follows is a brief analysis of how three news agencies – online, print and broadcast – used their re-

porting to raise questions about the country’s economic infrastructure and the fundamental changes needed to create a society in which all workers could earn a sustainable wage. Mary Delach Leonard of the online St. Louis Beacon examined three differing viewpoints in her Aug. 26 article titled “Beaconomics: Should minimum wage be a living wage?” She wrote that Martin Rafanan, organizer of STL735, a St. Louis group that advocates for a minimum-wage increase, said one reason the minimum wage has remained low is because workers haven’t organized. “Rafanan believes it is reasonable for the nation’s 4 million fast-food workers to be paid $15 an hour, because the industry is highly profitable and successful,” Delach Leonard wrote. In the story, Rafanan said that, as a community, St. Louis is subsidizing those workers because adult workers – many of them women with children – must rely on the government for financial support. In the article, she presented an opposing view from Michael Saltsman, research director of the Employment Policies Institute, who “believes that a $15 minimum wage would backfire, resulting in fewer job opportunities.” Saltsman’s reasoning is that fast-food businesses operate on a small profit margin, and boosting labor costs will cause the industry to automate since it would be more cost-effective. Delach Leonard also interviewed Benjamin Akande, dean of Webster University’s School of Business and Technology, who said he “believes the minimum wage will eventually be increased, though he cautions that it will require a careful balancing act in light of the nation’s still-struggling economy.”

Continued on next page

The media’s scope has been broad, but reporters are skirting underlying issues such as a growing unease about income disparity, the slow pace of an economic recovery that promised to restore middle-class jobs (but isn’t) and Washington’s inability to focus on the country’s economic problems.

Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 27


Around The Arch

New publication answers opportunity’s knock

Continued from previous page

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She wrote that Akande said finding middle ground is important – an increase that helps the nation’s 4 million fast-food workers but doesn’t hurt the struggling economy. A New York Times editorial dated Aug. 31 criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the problem: “President Obama has noted, correctly, that increases in labor productivity have long failed to translate into higher wages for most Americans, even while income for the richest households has skyrocketed. His proposed remedies, however, leave much to be desired – a pathetic increase in the minimum wage, to $9 an hour by 2016, plus hopeful assertions that revolutions in energy, technology, manufacturing and health care will create goodpaying jobs.” The editorial pointed out that growth alone would not translate to higher wages. “What’s missing are policies to ensure that a large and growing share of rising labor productivity flows to workers in the form of wages and salaries, rather than to executives and shareholders,” the editorial stated. It also outlined proposals that included: • Establishing an adequate minimum wage. • Protection for workers who unionize and for undocumented workers who are exploited. • Adopting regulations to prevent financial bubbles. • Stronger regulation of existing labor laws. • A progressive tax structure. “They need, in brief, pro-labor policies that have been overlooked for decades, with devastating results: from 1979 to 2012, typical workers saw wage increases of just 5 percent, despite productivity growth of nearly 75 percent, while wage gains for low-wage workers were flat or declined,” the editorial said. “Recent experience has been even worse. In the decade from 2002 to 2012, wages have stagnated or declined for the entire bottom 70 percent of the wage ladder.” Cinnamon Tigner, an employee at a St. Louis Wendy’s restaurant, was among the guests on NPR’s Diane Rehm show on July 31. Rehm’s program focused on the fact that, even as the fast-food industry is making record profits and the top executives are earning millions annually, employees are making below-poverty-level wages – and

PG: Cover BY: jocollins

by Danny Paskin

TI: 09-30-2013

21:42 CLR: C K Y M

ALWAYS A DIRTBAG

The numbers say that Angels’ Jered Weaver is one of the best pitchers in baseball. SPORTS 1 7, 1 9

the taxpayer is paying for the food stamps, subsidized housing and government-funded medical programs for these workers. Rehm’s other guests included Saltsman, Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute and Damian Paletta of the Wall Street Journal. Paletta described the mood of the strikers and their reaction to the economic recovery this way: “I think it’s what sort of struck a chord with a lot of workers is that they see the stock market going up so much, they see a lot of people are really benefiting from this economic recovery. And a lot of Americans both working at restaurants, you know, fastfood restaurants and other places, feel like they’re not, you know, getting the benefits. And that’s the people that have jobs. There’s still, you know, millions of Americans that don’t have jobs at all. So I think there’s a lot of people that feel like they’re getting left behind by the recovery – and by, quite frankly, Washington – and they want something to be done about it.” Tigner, who said she went on strike to try and make a difference for her child, said she’s been unable to find a higher-paying job and can’t save money for college. Saltsman’s response was that if her minimum wage doubled, her employee then would have an incentive to buy expensive equipment that could replace her, because he would recoup his investment in a relatively short time. Then Tigner would be unemployed and worse off than she is now. Saltsman also addressed the taxpayersubsidized assistance available to low-income

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workers, saying, “We’ve already put in place policies like the earned income tax credit that represent a 30 percent to 40 percent wage supplement. Depending on the state you’re in, that’s an additional $5,000 to $7,000 a year.” Because of the high unemployment rate, Mishel said, there is no incentive for companies to pay their workers better wages. “We have a systemic problem of employers having the upper hand with high unemployment, with weak unions, lower minimum wage, with – without workers having ability to improve their wages,” he said. Washington has spent little time, effort or political capital on the minimum-wage issue. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 incrementally over a three year period, was introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (DIowa) in March. Less than two weeks later it was rejected by the House, with all Republicans and six Democrats voting against it. The Senate has yet to schedule a hearing for the bill. It is uncertain if the fast-food workers will be able to put enough pressure on elected officials to raise the minimum wage. But even if they succeed, questions will remain about income equality in the United States. And with their strained budgets and increased focus on national security interests, will news organizations be able to allocate resources necessary to cover the growing debate about income disparity and livable wages? g

In a time when most American towns have seen print newspapers shrink, shrivel and eventually die, the city of Long Beach, Calif., is going against the trend, with a brand-new paper appearing at its doorstep. Long Beach has long been a one-big-paper kind of city. But that changed Aug. 19, when the Long Beach Register – an offspring of the well-established and best-selling Orange County Register – published its first edition, bringing competition to the long-running Long Beach Press-Telegram newspaper. “We are letting readers determine the difference,” said Ian Lamonte, publisher of the new Long Beach Register. “We are hearing every day that the LBR (Long Beach Register) is the superior paper in local coverage, value and essential community news, coverage of prep sports, number and variety of local stories, and relevance to readers.” Not that that’s worrying the competition in this city of 467,000 residents – about the same as Kansas City, Mo. – located 20 miles west of Disneyland. “The Press-Telegram was already in the midst of a strategic makeover,” said Michael Anastasi, vice president and executive editor of the Los Angeles News Group, which owns the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “The competition helped accelerate our execution, and of course it’s brought a level of attention to the market, but our commitment to excellent local journalism and the plans that accompanied that commitment were already in place.” He said the Long Beach publication has been a part of the city, in one iteration or another, since the late 1800s. Harry Saltzgaver, executive editor of the Gazette Newspapers, the local weekly publications in Long Beach, says the changes in the PressTelegram were already in place, but thinks the new competition may have improved the efforts a little more. “Competition is healthy,” he said, but he added that there is “no question (the new Long Beach Register) accelerated that process, and perhaps increased the amount of resource.” According to the Press-Telegram, the Long Beach Register is not exactly competition – at least not yet. “We have yet to lose a single advertiser or subscriber, and their revenue numbers in the market are low,” Anastasi said. For now, the Long Beach Register is running with an average of 16 pages published Monday through Friday, with two sections: one dedicated to community news, people, events, businesses and government, and another focusing on hyper-local sports. It’s available either in local newsstands or retailers, or delivered as a wraparound to 2,600 Long Beach residents who subscribe to the Orange County Register. For Lamonte, being attached to the mother ship is not a disadvantage. “When readers include all the terrific content, graphics, photos and features from the OCR (Orange County Register), we hear a similar message from readers: ‘Thank you for giving our community the coverage it deserves,’ ” he said. The Press-Telegram doesn’t seem worried. “Is the Long Beach Register even a daily?” Anastasi asked. “It looks to me like a wraparound, and most dailies publish seven days a week.” The Press-Telegram is not changing the way it does its job because of the Long Beach Register. “I am an admirer of John Wooden,” Anastasi said, referring to the late University of Southern California basketball coach who won 10 NCAA national championships in a 12-year period. “One of his core

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Chief talks about shooting spate LBPD’s Jim McDonnell cites more armed suspects as a reason for uptick in officer-involved incidents.

KELLY PUENTE REGISTER WRITER

Police have seen a surge in officer-involved shootings this year, due in part to officers encountering more suspects armed with handguns, Long Beach Chief Jim McDonnell says. The chief held a news conference Monday to address the string of three officer-involved

shootings last week that left two men dead and another man wounded. In those cases, two of the suspects were armed with handguns, while the third had an aluminum baseball bat hidden in his pants, McDonnell said. The number of officerinvolved shootings has nearly doubled so far this year compared to all of 2012. Last year, LBPD saw nine shootings, including one accidental discharge, police officials said. This year, LBPD has seen 16 shootings, including one accidental

discharge. McDonnell said the vast majority of those incidents involved a person with a handgun or some other weapon. “While we have a lot of contacts every year with the public, it appears that the officers this year have run into more people with guns who are willing to take on the officers, and that has resulted in an increase in officer-involved shootings,” he said. But despite the recent spike in S E E P O L I C E ● PA G E 6

JEFF GRITCHEN, THE REGISTER

Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell addressed a recent jump in officer-involved shootings on Monday.

L.B. harbor board votes to delay hiring plan

UNCHARTERED TERRITORY Emerson now operates as traditional school after 12 years as a charter.

For the first time in more than a decade, Emerson Parkside Academy is functioning as a traditional school instead of as a charter, and for some parents, the LAUREN change reWILLIAMS quires an REGISTER adjustWRITER ment. Parents say the switch is a mixed bag, with some benefits such as more modern technology and additional services, but with larger class sizes. The biggest difference some point to is the shift from full-day to half-day kindergarten. “For Emerson, that was a big deal. That set us apart,” Michelle Worden, a mother of two Emerson students and an Emerson alumna, said of the full-day program. “Our kids were able to come out of kindergarten reading – not just sight words. I’m sure this year our kindergarten teachers will do great, it’s just an adjustment.” School officials highlighted that there are smaller class sizes in kindergarten classes after the switch back to a district school. When Emerson was a charter school, kindergarten classes had a 25-to-one student-teacher ratio during the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. school day. Now,

Some members want well-known consultants to help with the search process. Long Beach Harbor Board President Thomas Fields and another port commissioner want to bypass what they say is a cumbersome executive search firm process that likely would only produce “recycled names” PAT from a MAIO REGISTER shrinking WRITER pool of qualified executives. Instead, Fields and Harbor Commissioner Susan E. Anderson Wise said they want to find a new executive director by hiring wellknown consultants to make recommendations, a strategy they felt confident would result in the hiring of a new leader for the nation’s second-busiest port by the end of the year. S E E P O R T ● PA G E 8

PHOTOS: JEFF GRITCHEN, THE REGISTER

Kindergarten teacher Rebecca Peterson laughs with her students during the morning session at Emerson Parkside Academy. Emerson switched from full-day to half-day kindergarten classes this year. There is now a 1 5-to-one student-teacher ratio that increases to 30-to-one when the morning and afternoon classes overlap for two hours.

class runs from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. with 15 kindergarteners, including a two-hour overlap when 30 students are in the same classroom, said Principal Maggie Kerns. Things have changed since Emerson became a charter school, Kerns said. State funding has diminished, and the things that set Emerson apart became increasingly difficult to maintain. As a charter school, Emerson received its funds directly from the state rather than from the district and operated largely independent of the district.

Emerson Parkside Academy at a glance

>> Emerson Parkside Academy was first called Ralph Waldo Elementary School when it was constructed in 1 952. >> The school changed its name to Emerson Parkside Academy Charter School when it became a conversion charter school about 1 2 years ago. >> Because of budgetary constraints, the school gave up its charter, and for the first time in more than a decade, it began the school year as a traditional school within Long Beach Unified School District.

INSIDE MOVING FORWARD: City Place shopping center hopes to rebound. NEWS 3 GIVING DIRECTION: Community sounds off on search for the next CSULB president. NEWS 4 AIMING HIGH: Volleyball player Chisom Okpala, a junior at Long Beach State, wants to keep getting better. SPORTS 20

>> More than 700 students from kindergarten through fifth grade are enrolled.

S E E E M E R S O N ● PA G E 7

The cover of the first issue of the Long Beach Register principles was to focus on his own team, and his team’s own execution. Similarly, we focus on ourselves, our products, our execution and the commitment to our readers. If we are doing our jobs well, the results will speak for themselves.” For Saltzgraver, however, when the full Orange County Register is added to the Long Beach Register, “it’s truly an overwhelming amount of daily newspaper.” For him, there is another main difference between the two publications: The Register papers usually have focused first on the print side, while the Press-Telegram has gone to a “digital first” philosophy, making Long Beach the venue for a prime battle. “So we have a shrinking audience pursued by an increasing number of print products,” Saltzgraver said. “It might be satisfying for an old warhorse like me, but it does bring into question the efficacy of the business plan.” Chris Burnett, chairman of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at California State University-Long Beach, also is unsure of the longevity of this new publication. “Will this go on long term?” he asked. “I doubt it, unless the Register is prepared to continue devoting enormous resources into Long Beach. I see the Long Beach Register more as an effort to increase the Register’s circulation in more affluent portions of the Press-Telegram’s circulation area.” Not that he’s complaining much, as a journalism educator in the area. For Burnett, “competition is a great thing. It’s also helped our students get internships and resulted in some of our recent graduates getting jobs. The new publication is welcomed.” Despite the doubters, Lamonte has a simple, straightforward answer when asked whether the new Long Beach Register is here to stay, and whether Long Beach itself is big enough for two daily – or almost daily – papers. “We certainly think it is,” he said. g

Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 29


Advocates await next big scandal by Genelle I. Belmas & Jason M. Shepard When Lisa Rosenberg recently traveled to Croatia, the open-government advocate was prepared to debate the appropriateness of campaign-finance disclosure laws in a formerly Communist regime. But she found little need to persuade. “It was a given that this information had to be made public,” says Rosenberg, a government affairs consultant for the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that works to enhance government transparency. “They think that’s so important as an anticorruption measure that it didn’t even occur to them in Croatia that this would have to be private.” Not so in the United States, where transparency advocates are having a tough time gaining access to campaign donations and lobbying activities.

Much of this new attention is because of the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission case, in which a conservative Supreme Court overturned past precedents and created new First Amendment protections for corporations. While the decision is more well-known for its holding that corporations can spend general treasury funds on election ads, the Supreme Court also ruled that laws requiring donors to file FEC reports – as well as requiring advertisements to indicate who paid for them – do not violate the First Amendment rights of speakers. “With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters,” Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority’s decision in Citizens United. Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone dissenter, citing instances of threats against contributors to hotly contested political campaigns such as Proposition 8 in California to justify the need for donor anonymity. Despite the Citizens United ruling, the future strength of disclosure and disclaimer laws is threatened. In the last year, several organizations have filed federal lawsuits to strike down state and federal disclosure statutes as well as FEC disclosure regulations, while the IRS is under assault for scrutinizing whether certain nonprofit corporations were properly classified as non-political, and thus exempt from disclosure laws. One problem is that it’s too easy to circumvent current disclosure laws and regulations. Outside spending on elections – money not directly affiliated with a candidate or political party – has skyrocketed. Since the Citizens United decision in 2010, outside spending through SuperPACs and other independent expenditure organizations increased by 245 percent in the presidential elections, 662 percent in House elections and 1,338 percent in

Senate elections, according to electionlaw expert Richard L. Hasen. Some estimates suggest that some 40 percent of this independent money is non-disclosed. Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert showed just how easy it is to create a “shell” corporation to funnel non-disclosed money from donors to advertisements. It took attorney and campaign finance reform advocate Trevor Potter just five minutes to show how Colbert could create a SuperPAC that can keep its donors secret and use vague names that don’t give voters a real understanding of who’s behind the ads. “Various people say, ‘Well, the identity of the group running the ads is disclosed, so what is it you want?’ Well sure, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow (Colbert’s organization) is disclosed as that, but it doesn’t tell you anything,” says Potter, a former FEC commissioner. Meaningful disclaimers are important for voters, says Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York. “I believe that the public is looking for signifiers in an overly crowded information marketplace,” Lerner says. “Information regarding the major funders of the communication, depending, of course, on who they are, is a signifier, which the public can use. So if it is advertising that is supporting a particular position regarding the environment, and it’s coming from Exxon Mobil, or GE, or Entergy, or Chesapeake Gas, then I’m going to evaluate it in a different way based on what’s important to me, than a communication which comes from the Sierra Club or the League of Conservation Voters.” Adam Skaggs, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, says weak disclosure requirements also leave voters in the dark about key connections between donors and politicians. “You can wonder in which direction the causal relation is, whether people are giving money to people they agree with

or if people are shaped by the money, but I don’t think that the direction really matters,” Skaggs says. “There’s a conversation going on that is really shaping the way that the democratic process works, and that’s information that voters, reporters and people working at nonprofits should be able to have access to so they can try to help people understand what’s going on.” But getting these facts into meaningful context and into the hands of voters is harder than one might think. The Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics, two opengovernment groups based in Washington, D.C., both struggle with inaccurate FEC information, delayed IRS filings, filings that are messy and nonstandardized, and lack of data critical to tracking where money is coming from and going to, including lobbying data. Sometimes the money is so well hidden that watchdog groups must rely on accidents to find out where it’s going. Robert Maguire, researcher at Center for Responsive Politics, says that happened last year, when insurance company Aetna “accidentally” told shareholders about $7 million in donations to the American Action Network and the Chamber of Commerce. “They were saying that they were supporting health care reform and working with the administration, and at the same time they were giving millions of dollars to organizations that don’t disclose their donors and were pretty viciously attacking anyone who supported reform,” Maguire says. Advocates see glimmers of hope at the local and state levels where disclosure and disclaimer laws have been expanded. The federal courts also have rejected challenges to disclosure and disclaimer laws thus far. But at the federal level there is little political will to change to the status quo. As Rosenberg points out, what Sunlight, CPR and other organizations are really doing is “laying the groundwork for the next scandal, because that’s when something is going to happen. g

Sometimes the money is so well hidden that watchdog groups must rely on accidents to find out where it’s going.

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‘This Town’ details corrosive effects of money in Washington by Dan Sullivan Mark Leibovich, a strong writer, reminds me of the late Hunter Thompson, who wrote “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail” and other best-sellers. However, “This Town” is a new category of bare-knuckles political observations and interviews by Leibovich, who is national correspondent for the New York Times Magazine. His book is No. 7 on the New York Times’ hardcover best-sellers list. He issues a warning on the back cover that “no index is provided; those players wishing to know how they came out will need to read the book.” He has an on-again, off-again relationship with Chris Matthews, of MSNBC’S “Hardball” fame, but it appears the two have much in common when it comes to politics. Readers of this book can decide for themselves if Leibovich crosses a line or two. He pulls no punches in calling out Democrats and Republicans alike for their self-serving behaviors. In 371 pages, Leibovich wants you to know three things: • First, the belief that Washington, D.C., is broken is a popular myth. Yes, gridlock is true for too many Americans, but not “if you are one of the players inside the Beltway,” he writes. It works for them, it really works! • Second, “selling out” to a publisher or adversaries is no longer a fashionable term. Instead, selling out has become “monetizing.” A reading of “This Town” also creates a new awareness of opportunity about “how many things can I monetize today based on, well everything: knowledge, research, my job, my next job (a big one), family, relationships, predictions of the stock market, and rumors – all are worth money – to someone at some price,” he writes. “So if you want to run for election now, there is one-stop shopping for either party at Quinn/Gillespie, campaign consulting no matter which wing of either party you choose.” • Third, we live in the era of the mediaindustrial complex, a phrase coined by President Eisenhower about the military in 1956. It has now been amended for our times where media are embedded within our political culture. In 1978, 3 percent of the House of Representatives or the Senate became lobbyists or joined the media; today 42 percent to 48 percent, including top-level policy makers, migrate to lobbying, consulting or media op-

This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus Plenty of Valet Parking — in America’s Gilded Capital. Author: Mark Leibovich Publisher: New York: Blue Rider Press Hardcover: $27.95; 371 pages

portunities. “This Town” begins at a funeral – quite fitting – in 2008 for Tim Russert, venerable host of “Meet the Press,” known “in the Beltway as the ‘Mayor, The Man.’ ” The irony here is that the political lives of guests attending the funeral are either alive, dying, dead … or somewhat resuscitating, depending on the quality of his or her public relations staffer. Coverage of the funeral guests is chock-full of quotes, images, whispers, “what-ifs” and “why-nots.” I was amazed at how Leibovich gets so many powerful and ambitious “players” to open their hearts and minds filling up his notebook. The book’s eighth chapter highlights two of the players, and the narrative deserves attention. It’s about Darrell Issa, a Republican congressman from California, and Kurt Bardella, “... his ankle-biting young PR flack.” Issa, whose car-alarm company was sold for a nine-figure fortune, became chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee in 2010, with unlimited subpoena powers so that “he gained the right to do whatever he wanted to distract, embarrass, and essentially mess with the Obama administration … and get himself on television. He wanted to be a household name.” He succeeded. Issa’s checkered history included a guilty plea to a misdemeanor gun charge in 1972, then indicted (but not convicted) of a felony charges of car theft in 1972 and 1980, and also a suspicious fire in one of his factories (page 189). All of these details came to Leibovich from an “oppo call” – information from an opposition researcher. It is unclear if the information was monetized, but I am sure the

Page 32 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2013

favor was repaid somehow. Bardella is a bizarre template (my term) for how and why Capitol Hill staffers can be toxic for our politics and way of government. His role model from early on was, and is, George Stephanopoulos. Starting in 2001 Bardella worked his way up – and then down, then up again – the Republican political food-chain as an intern, aide and staffer until reaching his “big ticket” with Issa. Readers of this book will find out how he got fired by Issa for embarrassing him – and then got rehired by Issa for “having learned his lesson.” No, he didn’t learn much. So getting a glimpse of these two public servants will be either a bonus to the reader or will verify the cynicism of how Washington is not working for our nation. From my 40 years of political activism, and holding elected office three times, most of political life is unchanged. Yes, the media technology has been revolutionized, and the news cycle is measured in hours. However, the different (and truly corrosive) factor is the staggering amount of money that is in play. Even before the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision from the Supreme Court, we have seen nearly billiondollar presidential campaigns, multimilliondollar consulting contracts, hundreds of millions in media buys and unlimited budgets available for “oppo” research. The legendary phrase attributed to the late U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois is, “A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” Today, I believe he would be ashamed and outraged at the overpowering influence of money in elections – and at a political climate that monetizes everything that is not nailed. g

McCarron Continued from page 7 morning after Bill Daley announced he was getting out of the governor’s race, a fivecolumn headline over Mike Sneed’s newsy gossip column screamed: “DALEY: RAUNER ‘STRONGEST CANDIDATE.’ ” Nestled below in her copy was a full-length color photo of the former Sun-Times investor. Over on Michigan Avenue, meanwhile, the Tribune continues to hammer away – both

Shrader Continued from page 11 “The 49ers didn’t want us to air it,” O’Donnell told me recently. Not only did they air the segment on their Saturday night show, they put a rather lengthy clip on the news that Thursday night. “If I thought the questions were contentious, derogatory or combative, I would have understood,” he says. “The way I posed the questions was very fair.” As it turns out, that was the last interview O’Donnell did on that show with the coach.

news-side and editorially – against government and all its works and pomps. Nothing new there. An out-of-towner reading the Trib lately could be excused for wondering why Democrats such as Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton aren’t already in jail. Stories about private-sector ripoffs – stories such as O’Hare’s major airlines setting up sham purchasing offices outside the Chicago area to avoid local sales taxes on jet fuel – get

one-and-done play, if that. As for stories about Tribune Co.’s own tax-avoidance schemes, such as its non-sale “transfer” of the baseball Cubs, or the tax-advantaged Zell deal, one could fairly ask: “What stories?” So Chicago awaits a new owner for its eldest newspaper, and wonders whom the fast-money investors at the Sun-Times will promote – or fire – next. Where is Joseph Pulitzer when we need him? g

“The 49ers and our general manager agreed it would be best if Kim Coyle, our sports reporter, did the interviews for the rest of the season,” he says. The relationship between KPIX and the 49ers was, in the end, more important to station management than the relationship between their sports director and the coach of the 49ers. “I didn’t agree with it,” O’Donnell says, “but I get it.” Shuken, the sports regional executive who worked with me more than 20 years ago as a young producer in San Francisco

television, says he thinks journalism – sports and otherwise – has gotten worse rather than better, “given predispositions, biases and the desire for ratings above all.” But he says the true fan can tell the difference “between fluff and meaningful content, and that’s where the opportunity lies.” Meaningful content is always the goal of the storyteller. We hope, especially for the sports journalist, it is being presented with minimum interference from the business partners who help keep the doors open but also provide so many of the most interesting storylines. g

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Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 33


Best GJR posts, summer 2013 Each week, GJR send its readers original blog posts covering a range of topics in a weekly eNewsletter. We’re featuring some of the best blog posts from summer 2013 in this article. Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material was one of the most controversial and significant stories of the year. Following are excerpts from two posts about the subject written by George Salamon, a frequent GJR contributor who was a staff reporter for the St. Louis Business Journal and a senior editor for Defense Systems Review: “Who is a journalist?” The New Republic tickles but does not tackle the question (published June 27) “Glenn Greenwald Is Greenwald, and That’s Enough,” was the headline of Marc Tracy’s column on the New Republic website June 25. It should have given readers a clue to stop right there. Tracy suggests that the ongoing story of Edward Snowden’s leaks of NSA surveillance to the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, formerly a First Amendment lawyer and blogger, have ignited a debate about “What is a journalist – and who is one?” Trying to figure out why such a debate is “raging” in Tracy’s column reduces you to feel like the blind pig that finds a truffle now and then. The ‘Who Is a Journalist?’ debate picks up steam, substance (published July 3) The early shots in the “Who Is a Journalist?” debate, ignited by the Edward Snowdento-Glenn Greenwald leaks about NSA surveillance, were of lightweight caliber. (See “http://gatewayjr.org/2013/06/27/who-is-ajournalist-the-new-republic-tickles-but-doesnot-tackle-the-question/,” GJR, June 27) Now that a couple of journalistic heavyweights have entered the fray, the debate has gained steam and substance. Or, their contributions to it could put an end to what some see as a silly or insidious charade. Margaret Sullivan, public editor at the New York Times, joined in on June 29 with a column headlined “Who’s a Journalist? A Question With Many Facets and One Sure Answer.” Sullivan’s “admittedly partial definition”? Here it is: “A real journalist is one who understands, at a cellular level, and doesn’t stay away from the adversarial relationship between government and press – the very tension that America’s founders had in mind with the First Amendment.”

GJR also received an open letter signed by more than two dozen individuals in academia, in which the Snowden affair is a springboard to a discussion of media coverage in Latin America: Open letter to media takes issue with coverage of Latin America (published July 18) The supposed “irony” of whistleblower Edward Snowden seeking asylum in countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela has become a media meme. Numerous articles, op-eds, reports and editorials in outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NPR and MSNBC have hammered on this idea since the news first broke that Snowden was seeking asylum in Ecuador. It was a predictable retread (http://www.fair.org/ blog/2013/06/25/washington-post-lets-punish-ecuador-again/)of the same meme (http:// justice4assange.com/extraditing-assange. html#ECUADOR) last year, when Julian Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and the Ecuadorian government deliberated his asylum request for months. Of course, any such “ironies” would be irrelevant even if they were based on factual considerations. The trial of George Zimmerman captivated news consumers during the summer. Again, Salamon shares his views: The Zimmerman trial and race in the media: The usual soapbox derby (published July 18) On July 16, after the Zimmerman trial had concluded with a “not guilty” verdict and a small army of experts and selected citizens were wrangling over the implications on television, you could have found these two statements in the media: “We’ve Had Our Conversation on Race. Now We Need One on Guns,” Alec Macgillis proclaimed in the New Republic. In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Ekon N. Yankah, a professor of law at the Cordoza School of Law in New York, complained that “we are tired of hearing that race is a conversation for another day.” I have to agree with the professor. From what I saw and read, the conversation has not yet taken place. What the media, with the usual exceptions, did offer was its traditional soapbox derby of opinions and half-baked notions, of platitudes and pieties, of misinformation and prejudice, of political correctness and worn outrage.

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An incident closer to home underscored the racism that still exists a half century after the civil rights movement. GJR’s publisher, William Freivogel, wrote the following piece about the incident at the Missouri State Fair: Media dust storm fuels Obama rodeo clown incident (Published Aug. 16) The national dust storm kicked up by the “Obama” clown in a bull ring at the Missouri State Fair is the latest illustration of the way a small local controversy about race can quickly turn into a national one with the help of video, social media, traditional media and radio talk shows. Jo Mannies, Missouri’s premier political reporter at the St. Louis Beacon, traced the way the controversy in Sedalia last weekend quickly reached Washington and beyond. (https://www.stlbeacon.org/#!/content/32286/ obama_rodeo_clown_fallout) A Facebook post by an angry fair attendee was picked up by the pro-Democratic local blog site ShowMeProgress.com (http:// www.showmeprogress.com/diary/8609/at-themissouri-state-fair-last-night), which was one of the first sites on the Web to call attention to the applause attracted by a voice over the loudspeaker asking the crowd if it wanted to see Obama “run down by a bull.” The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was recognized in a reflection by Freivogel: History looks clearer in the rear view mirror (published Aug. 29) Thirty years ago, this reporter was covering the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington. To prepare, a check was made of the bound volumes of the stories written on the day of the march by the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. It turned out that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not mentioned until about 40 inches into the story. Recently, Robert Kaiser, former managing editor of the Washington Post recalled his experience covering the march as a young reporter (http://www.washingtonpost. com/opinions/an-overlooked-dream-nowremembered/2013/08/23/2a4a57ea-0b4f11e3-9941-6711ed662e71_story.html). He noted that the Post also barely mentioned King’s dream speech. The coverage is a reminder that history looks a lot clearer and more certain in the rear-view mirror. g

Opinion

Lessons from the immigration debate by John S. Jackson My interest in the subject of immigration reform recently was piqued when I returned home from a visit to the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and read my summer edition of Arkansas Agriculture, the official publication of the Arkansas Farm Bureau. Its cover story was titled “The Need for Ag Immigration Reform.” The publication showed that the bureau is in favor of immigration reform, and that it considers this reform vital to the future of agriculture in Arkansas. Interviews with various farmers who also are Farm Bureau leaders stressed they believe a practical “guest worker” program is essential, and that the kind of farming they are doing in Arkansas would not be feasible without the ready availability of migrant farm workers. Some started with the obligatory “secure the borders” talk, but they quickly pointed out the need for workers who do the hard, seasonal and fairly low – paid stoop labor that migrant workers have long provided to American farms. Immigration was a topic that came up repeatedly at the Chamber headquarters during my visit. The Chamber clearly is in favor of immigration reform and is fearful that the nation is about to lose the best opportunity to deal with the issue that has existed in many years. Chamber officials in Washington asserted that American business has a major stake in this debate –and that the long-term health of the economy is at stake. They also indicated that they had joined forces with some unnatural allies (i.e., some liberal groups, most of the leaders of the Democratic Party and parts of organized labor) in pushing for immigration reform. It also seemed clear that they fear opposition from the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party as the source of their major problems – and the most likely group that could defeat the legislation they favor, which is the Senate bill (or something like it). Other industries that have a stake here (and that have weighed in on the side of immigration reform) include the hotel and restaurant associations, the landscaping industry and some of the construction trades. In summary, you have in favor of im-

We ostensibly are a mass democracy, but democracy demands that decisions be taken — and that the rules of the game include the right of the majority to make policy, and to ultimately prevail.

migration reform a formidable lineup of business, agriculture, the hospitality industry, pro-immigration and liberal groups, and most of the Democratic Party. Ordinarily, this would be an unstoppable legislative coalition in American politics – but these are not ordinary times. So how can a bill already passed by a healthy majority in the U.S. Senate be in any trouble in the House? The answer is that intense minority groups are in the opposition – and they are loud, persistent and wellfunded. I have written for Gateway Journalism Review about the power of intense minorities to thwart the will of the majority, and how that is happening more and more frequently in the current polarized political climate. (See page 20 of the spring 2013 issue of Gateway Journalism Review for more details). The debate over immigration reform is being driven by many of the same forces that have caused legislative gridlock in other issue areas. For example, the refusal of the House to pass a farm bill because of the opponents’ desire to cut food stamps dramatically imperils the carefully constructed compromise farm bill passed by the Senate, and the normal coalition that is required to pass farm legislation has disintegrated. That, in turn, threatens a return to the obsolete farm policies of the 1940s. In addition, the absolutely necessary increase in the debt ceiling and the ability of the nation to meet its financial obligations was held hostage early after President Obama’s re-election in January 2013 by the Tea Party rebellion in the House, and by those who would rather default on the national debt than continue borrowing money to fund the programs and operations that Congress already has approved. (That debate was being repeated at press time, with a last-minute compromise staving off default.) We have “government by legislative

gridlock” in many areas, and that gridlock is not free. It takes a toll on how the economy works, and on the ability of the U.S. government to debate and decide – i.e., to process the usual conflicts of a diverse nation, and to work through those conflicts to a position that every party and interest group can live with. The art of compromise is the mother’s milk of the legislative process in a mass democracy. In fact, contrary to the voices that seem so sure that they know exactly what the document really means, the Constitution itself was full of compromises that the Founding Fathers were willing to make to get it written and passed. Indeed, the basic political system that it established depends on compromise to work. We ostensibly are a mass democracy, but democracy demands that decisions be taken – and that the rules of the game include the right of the majority to make policy, and ultimately to prevail. The majority may be a temporary one, and the decision-making process always moves on, but a decision must be made. Minority rights must be protected, and minorities must always be given the right to make their case to the public and try to win in the next election. However, to the extent that intense minorities are now clogging up the system and preventing compelling national problems, such the need for immigration reform, the need for a farm bill and the necessity to protect the “full faith and credit of the U.S. government” to be ignored, that is the extent to which the ideals of democracy are perverted by the demands of much more narrow and ideologically driven interests that are mobilized and highly motivated, but that do not fundamentally respect the democratic process. The mantra for them is to win at all costs – and the costs of this strategy are very high. g

Fall 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 35


Well-worn phrases set journalists’ teeth on edge by William A. Babcock Family traditions die hard. When I was in college in the Dark Ages, my mother would send me a few business-size envelopes each week – often with a letter, and always stuffed with newspaper and magazine clippings. There were Cleveland Plain Dealer clippings about the Indians baseball and Browns football teams, clippings from the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram about news from northern Ohio, Avon Lake Press community updates on which high school girlfriends were getting married and to whom, Newsweek

clippings about politics and world events – the works. My mother’s Babcock Clipping Service was a well-oiled communications machine I’ve tried to replicate with my own college-student daughter – often, I suspect, to her chagrin. But while my clipping scissors ravage Sunday New York Times pages, most of my clips these days are Googled and sent online. When I Google an article, I often enter the writer’s name and a phrase occurring in the first paragraph or two. Recently I’ve Googled phrases such as “war-weary nation” or “at a later day,” only to discover that the journalist has written a number of stories during recent

months using the exact same phrases – phrases that often appear in the leads of a number of the reporter’s unrelated stories. (To spare the tender egos of journalists from Los Angeles to Boston to New York to Beijing to Edinburgh, I’ll mention no names!) That got me thinking about the words and phrases, redundancies and clichés we all regularly come across from traditional and new-age journalists alike. And when I asked staff members at a recent Gateway Journalism Review meeting if they had any journalism words pet peeves, I thought of Joan Baez as my colleagues’ “memories tumbling like sweets from a jar” filled the room with examples:

Overused expressions: • Hot-button issues – Do they really burn your fingers? • Gridlocked Congress – Perhaps this belongs under

Redundancies: • Totally destroyed – Is destruction ever not total? • Tiny little – To make it clear for people who don’t under-

“redundancies.”

stand “tiny”?

• Group of concerned citizens – Is a group of citizens ever

• Hunker down – Two squat twice? • Honest truth – As opposed to a bald-faced truth? • Close proximity – Up close and impersonal? • It is what it is – The very definition of “tautological.” • At the end of the day – Six words that say absolutely

unconcerned?

• Holding talks – Holding them by the ears, or the nose, or the beard, or …

Incorrect usage: nothing. • Podium – You wouldn’t be thinking of a “lectern,” would • It’s long past time – To stop using this phrase … and the you?

others listed above.

• Enormity – “Great wickedness,” but so misused that another definition finally was accepted.

• Hopefully – An adverb. Period! And then there’s “inflammable,” meaning it does burn, which so many people thought meant “unburnable” that a new word was coined – “flammable” – which also means “burnable.” It seems that people were confused a few decades ago when they saw gas/petroleum tank trucks sporting the large logo,

“inflammable,” thinking the content of the trucks to be safe and non-burnable, and thus the labeling change. Now if you’ve gotten this far, you no doubt have come up with journalism words that are “hot buttons” for you. So that we might regularly share these with our gatewayjr.org

Page 36 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2013

readers, please send us your suggestions. “Hopefully” this might become a GJR staple, so we will “hunker down” until we hear from you. And we hope the “enormity” of this undertaking will help us all discover the “honest truth” about how journalists use the English language. g

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Fall 2013 gjr vol43 no332