Fall 2012 • Volume 42 Number 328 • $7
St. Louis Journalism Review Presents:
Midwest newspapers run fewer endorsements by Sam Robinson • Page 10
Lee layoffs help reduce debt by Roy Malone • Page 18
Uncapping untold stories of Anheuser-Busch by Terry Ganey • Page 20
So much money, so few swing voters by John S. Jackson • Page 28
Join us for the second annual SJR/GJR Gala on Nov. 29, 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Edward Jones Headquarters Lobby 12555 Manchester Road, Des Peres, Mo. Special guest speaker: John Seigenthaler As top aide to Robert F. Kennedy, founder of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, and the unlikely victim of the most outrageous incident of Wikipedia fraud, John Seigenthaler is a towering figure in the civil rights movement and the protection of free speech.
Master of ceremonies for the dinner will be Bill McClellan, popular columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Tickets are available now! Email email@example.com to reserve yours today.
Dwindling Editorial Staffs
10 • M idwest newspapers run fewer endorsements by Sam Robinson 14 • P ost-Dispatch editorial page shrinks but survives by Terry Ganey 18 • L ee layoffs help reduce dept by Roy Malone
Election 2012 24 • M edia dissect Akin’s controverial remarks by John Jarvis 26 • M issouri: The true-blue red state by Terry Jones 27 • P olitical documentary in the age of the public intellectual by Angela Aguayo 28 • S o much money, so few swing voters by John S. Jackson 30 • T he door swings both ways by John Jarvis
Features 8 • B eat reporters step up in Chicago strike by John McCarron 20 • U ncapping untold stories of Anheuser-Busch by Terry Ganey
Media & Law 34 • S eigenthaler fights for First Amendment by Michael D. Murray 36 • W eb transparency does not equal free speech by William H. Freivogel 40 • S hield law protection for bloggers? by Eric P. Robinson 44 • W ho owns Marilyn Monroe? by Mark Sableman Fall 2012 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 1
Opinion In response to:
A copy desk future?
The point ... that reporters need to clean up their own copy and young journalists need to think like editors is valuable advice for all journalists! It’s important to not limit that advice to an audience still wet behind the ears. The idea about teaching reporters to be editors is a valid adjustment based on the reduction of copy editing professionals in the newspaper industry. But it is indeed true that what serves the world of journalism best is for journalism schools to continue featuring, as [Eric] Fidler suggests, oldfashioned critical thinking skills. Now that’s what Martin Pieters, my math professor (statistics) in Chicago at Kennedy King College would refer to as transferable skills. Sincerely, Gail Mercherson SIUC School of Journalism alumna
In response to: Does First Amendment protect ‘Innocence of the Muslims’ film? I do not think it is a wise course of action to say that since the Muslims are overreacting, it is all their fault. Yes, they are over-reacting. That was predictable. I think just like the libel laws have a provision for “malicious intent” the intent of the video maker is key to determining culpability. Free speech does indeed need to have limits. Yelling fire in a crowded theater is not just “colorful and memorable.” Lorriane Grula, Oklahoma City, see her blog on the matter: http://videoproductiontips.com/we-condemn-deceitful-video-making-practices/
Gateway Journalism Review welcomes your comments. Please email them to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name, city and state.
Published by School of Journalism College of Mass Communication and Media Arts Interim Dean: Dafna Lemish School of Journalism Director: William H. Freivogel William Freivogel Publisher
Charles Klotzer Founder
William Babcock Editor
Sam Robinson Managing Editor
Terry Ganey St. Louis Editor
John Jarvis Associate Managing Editor
Aaron Veenstra Web Master
Vicki Kreher Marketing Director
Steve Edwards Artist
Christian Holt Designer Board of Advisers: Roy Malone, Jim Kirchherr, Lisa Bedian, Ed Bishop, Tammy Merrett, Don Corrigan, Michael Murray, 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 • Fall 2012
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In with the new
This is the first GJR to be completely in color.
William A. Babcock
he edition of Gateway Journalism Review you now have in your hands is indeed new: new information, new look, new feel, new staff and new subscribers. Arriving on the eve of the Nov. 6 elections, GJR includes political commentary and information on editorial endorsements among a regular mix of media news from across our expanded 16-state “Midwest” circulation area. As in past issues, we attempt to have most of our items focused on a critical analysis of the mass media, as opposed to first-person opinion pieces. This is the first GJR to be completely in color. While our previous magazines have had color covers, we now have full color capability throughout the magazine. Our internal audience research tells us that readers like both a print magazine and also an online version – and, for most readers, color is a plus. While we were at it, we decided to go with new paper –
the industry standard. Not only will this make for a better, crisper look for our photographs, art and graphics, but this move is one that should, combined with our other changes, be more attractive to potential advertisers. You’ll not see a couple of familiar names on our page 2 identifier. Scott Lambert, our managing editor and former newspaper sports editor, has left SIU’s Ph.D. program to be an assistant professor at Millikin University. Lambert’s infectious enthusiasm, his can-do attitude and his unending trove of story ideas made him the perfect first managing editor at GJR. Lambert expects to receive his Ph.D. later this autumn. Too, Jennifer Butcher has stepped down as production editor, as her Ph.D. focus has shifted from journalism and media ethics to children’s literature. Butcher’s interest in books and media trends enriched both our print and online publications, and helped keep us abreast of media trends. We at GJR thank both outgoing student editors for their hard work and dedication, which helped improve the quality of our publications. Not filling their shoes but wearing their own distinctive footwear are two individuals, one of whom our readers already know. Sandra “Sam” Robinson, GJR’s former operations director, is now our managing editor. Robinson is a mother of two high school children, former editor and publisher of a community newspaper in Kansas, and a newly minted Ph.D. She is the sort of
organized, efficient person who “makes the trains run on time” and knows who is writing what and when. John Jarvis, a seasoned journalist who has worked on a variety of newspapers and who has contributed stories to recent editions of GJR, is our new associate managing editor. Now a new M.S. student at SIU, Jarvis lives and breathes copy editing, and he’s already helped us produce cleaner magazine and online copy. GJR’s print magazine circulation has increased some 40 percent in the past year and a half, while the weekly eNewsletter reaches more than 2,000 readers and is growing as well. While we still have “miles to go before we sleep,” we want to thank everyone from our core St. Louis readers to our new subscribers and Web readers throughout our expanded 16-state Midwest – and beyond – for continued interest, support and suggestions. And finally, a note of thanks goes to Charles Klotzer, whose St. Louis Journalism Review laid the foundation for GJR. While we’ve made a number of changes in gatewayjr.org and in the eight print magazines, we’re always mindful of Klotzer’s pioneering work at SJR that made it possible for our publications to be where they are today.
William Babcock, Editor
Fall 2012 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 3
Terry Ganey, new St. Louis editor Watching the Post-Dispatch cut back in the six years since I left as deputy editorial editor has been heartbreaking. I’ve seen good friends turned out, the Washington Bureau cut from the eight reporters there 20 years ago to one, and the editorial page reduced by the loss of writers, the op-ed editor and the editorial cartoonist. William H. Freivogel Terry Ganey is one of the most respected investigative reporters and political correspondents of the past 40 years in Missouri. With this issue, he takes over as St. Louis editor of Gateway Journalism Review. Ganey, a former colleague at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is taking over from Roy Malone, another valued Post-Dispatch colleague. Malone will continue to contribute but is taking a break from the many years he and Charles Klotzer kept this publication alive. Ganey’s inaugural issue includes two pieces. One tells three previously untold stories about August A. Busch Jr., the beer baron who built AnheuserBusch into the nation’s dominant brewery and rode in the beer wagon behind the Clydesdales as his beloved Cardinals played in the World Series. Journalism is called “the first draft of history.” Ganey digs until he writes the second, third and final drafts. These untold stories about Busch touch other St. Louis icons: Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, the smart, funny, outspoken senator who once was the Democratic vice presidential candidate; Harry Caray, the colorful announcer who went on to fame with the Cubs; Al Fleishman, the public relations man extraordinaire who built his firm into an international force; and Louis Susman, a power broker in Democratic politics. This story is history, but news about history. It reflects Ganey’s tenacity. The story is based on a
Freedom of Information Act request, as well as previously unpublished information from Eagleton’s and Fleishman’s papers. I got to witness Ganey’s tenacity when the two of us spent more than a year investigating the death of the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas. That work taught me an important lesson: Even though most big stories are about government wrongdoing, this one was about false claims conjuring up government mendacity. Ganey’s most famous investigation was the Second Injury Fund in Missouri. He was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. More important was that Attorney General William Webster’s bid for the governorship was upended, and Webster served prison time as a result of a related investigation. Ganey’s other story in this issue involves the Post-Dispatch editorial page, a subject dear to my heart. Watching the Post-Dispatch cut back in the six years since I left as deputy editorial editor has been heartbreaking. I’ve seen good friends turned out, the Washington Bureau cut from the eight reporters there 20 years ago to one, and the editorial page reduced by the loss of writers, the oped editor and the editorial cartoonist. Elsewhere in this magazine, Klotzer makes the excellent point that those remaining at the paper have done a good job of preserving investigative muscle, and that the editorial page lives by the Pulitzer platform. Tony Messenger, the editor, and Kevin Horrigan, the deputy, are especially knowledgeable, savvy editorial writers.
Page 4 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2012
But I can’t help but remember what once was: the Daniel Fitzpatrick cartoon of the Nazi swastika slicing through the Polish countryside, or Uncle Sam getting mired in Vietnam in 1954, a decade before American soldiers began dying there. The Bill Mauldin Pulitzer Prize cartoon showing Boris Pasternak remarking to another prisoner in the Soviet Gulag, “I won the Nobel Prize for literature. What was your crime?” I can’t help but remember the Pulitzer Prize editorials warning of Nazism long before World War II, nor Irving Dilliard’s relentless attack of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s demagoguery, nor Robert Lasch’s Pulitzer-winning warning about the futility of the Vietnam War. Yet now my friend R.J. Matson – the last of that long, proud line of editorial cartoonists – has been shown the door without even notice of his departure. Like Bill McClellan, the PostDispatch’s columnist, I can’t help but resent the undeserved stock bonus received by Lee Enterprises CEO Mary Junck. Had she possessed the decency to turn down it down, she could have preserved jobs of men and women who devoted their lives to the paper – and she could have saved a piece of a great tradition bigger than anything Lee Enterprises ever stood for.
William Freivogel, Publisher
And the Emmy goes to ... The 36th Annual Mid-America Emmy Awards Announced Sept. 22; ‘Weathercasters, Anchors, Reporters and Journalists’ Appreciation Day’ Declared
olden Emmy Award statuettes weren’t just handed out in Hollywood the third weekend in September. A number of regional broadcasters also took home Emmy Awards from Kansas City, Mo., Sept. 22. For the first time in its history, the Mid-America Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) conducted its annual MidAmerica Emmy Awards in downtown Kansas City. For 36 years the awards gala was held in St. Louis, but this year the chapter decided to move the gala to the western side of its six-state region, which includes television markets in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas and Louisiana. A crowd of more than 450 attended the event at the historic Midland Theatre, including this year’s host, the Weather Channel’s Mike Bettes, and guest presenters Kansas City Mayor Sly James, former Kansas City Star media critic Aaron Barnhart, the Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders and K.C. Wolf, the Chiefs’ mascot During the evening, NATAS inducted four television veterans into the Silver Circle, which honors 25 years or more in the television industry: Mike Bush from KSDK-TV in St. Louis, Kris Ketz from KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Cynthia Newsome from KSHBTV in Kansas City and Terry Shoptaw from KHBS/KHOG in Rogers, Ark. NATAS also presented the prestigious Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement to the Hallmark Hall of
Courtesy: Kabance Photo KSHB-TV’s Cynthia Newsome is inducted into the NATAS Silver Circle, which honors 25 years or more in the television industry. She was one of four to receive that honor at the Mid-America Emmy Awards Sept. 22. Fame. For more than six decades, the series has captured the hearts and minds of television viewers across the country, plus it has received 80 Emmy awards and is the most-honored program in television history. The evening also included a special presentation from Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean, who proclaimed Sept. 22, 2012, as “Weathercasters, Anchors, Reporters and Journalists’ Appreciation Day.” In her presentation,
she said the media “provided an invaluable service to Joplin, Mo., and surrounding communities when they warned residents of the severe weather and impending tornado on May 22, 2011.” She added that the “continuous news coverage of the tornado’s aftermath brought worldwide attention to Joplin, and helped raise awareness and funds to aid in the cleanup and rebuilding efforts of the community.”
Here’s a complete list of the 2012 Mid-America Emmy Award winners: Newscast-Morning/Daytime Market 1-49 (tie)
Newscast-Morning/Daytime Market 50+
Newscast-Evening Market 50+
KYTV: Maria Neider, Debbie Enlow, KYTV: Robin Yancey, Paula Dowler, KMBC: Jason Bent, Katina McCoy, Katherine Mayo, Brett Onstott Emily Wood, Jay Scherder, Ashley Cliff Judy, Taka Yokoyama Reynolds KTVI: Tram Anh Nguyen Newscast-Evening Market 1-49 KMBC: Marlene Cross
Continued on next page
Fall 2012 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 5
Awards Human Interest: Program Feature WDAF: Robert Low
Continued from previous page
Newscast-Weekend WDAF: Randy Pepperdine
Human Interest: Program Special Kansas City Chief: Jodain Massad, Robert Alberino
General Assignment Report Within 24 hours
Specialty News Series KMBC: Cliff Judy, Taka Yokoyama
KSDK: Mike Bush, Eric Voss WDAF: Robert Low, Jon Haiduk
Specialty Program Univ. of Arkansas: Larry Foley, Jim Borden
General Assignment Report-No Time Limit KSHB: Ryan Kath, Andy Pollard Breaking News KMOV Sean McLaughlin Spot News KMOV: Maggie Crane, Justin Emge Investigative KSHB: Ryan Kath, Michael Butler, Andy Pollard, Melissa Greenstein Feature News Report-Light Feature KSDK: Mike Bush, Tom Stasiak Feature News Report-Serious Feature KTHV: Liz Massey, John Young, Jonathan Nettles, Kelly Tibbit Team Coverage KTVI/KPLR: Audrey Prywitch Continuing Coverage KSPR: Joanna Small News Special KMOV: Craig Cheatham, Jim Thomas Arts/Entertainment: News Story KTVI/KPLR: Brian Ledford Arts/Entertainment: Feature Segment HEC: Jonathan Clarke, Peter Foggy Arts/Entertainment: Program/ Special Kansas City Chiefs: Robert Alberino, Jodain Massad Business Consumer: News Story KSHB: Ryan Kath, Michael Butler
Interstitial She’s Always Wright: Sharon Wright Courtesy: Kabance Photo The Weather Channel’s Mike Bettes walks the red carpet before serving as host for the Mid-America Emmy Awards at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City, Mo. Education/Schools: News Story HEC: Kara Savio, Taunia Mason Health/Science: News Story Feature (tie) WQAD: Kim Johnson, Anthony Panicucci KSHB: Ryan Kath, Michael Butler Environment: News Story/Program KMOV: John O’Sullivan, Chris Nagus, Mark Hadler Historical/Cultural: News Story/ Feature KOMU: Sarah Hill, Scott Schaefer Historical/Cultural: Program/Feature HEC: Jacqui Poor, Taunia Mason Politics/Government: News Story/ Program KSHB: Ryan Kath, Andy Pollard Religion: News Story/Program Feature WDAF: Tess Koppelman, Jon Haiduk Human Interest: News Story/Feature KOMU: Sarah Hill, Scott Schaefer
Page 6 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2012
Sports: News Single Story KMBC: Tim Twyman Sports: News Feature or Program Feature Metro Sports: Erik Ashel Sports: Regularly Scheduled Program Univ. of Kansas: Micah Brown, Josh Doke, Edward Schroer, Iain Trimble Sports: One-Time Special Univ. of Illinois : Frank Lenti Sporting Event/Game – Live/ Unedited Fox Sports Midwest: Kevin Landy News Weathercast KTVI: Chris Higgins Documentary – Cultural Arkansas Educational TV: Adornetto, Mark Wilcken
Documentary – Historical Wide Awake Films: Shane Seley, Ed Leydecker Informational/Instructional: Feature Beckman Institute: Steve Drake Informational/Instructional: Program KSHB: Elyna Niles-Carnes, Gary Lezak, Brett Anthony, George Waldenberger, Jeff Penner Continued on next page
Awards Editor: News KMBC: Tim Twyman
Continued from previous page
Interview/Discussion: Program Fox Sports Midwest: Max Leinwand, Jim Hayes, Chris Felt
Editor: Sports Metro Sports: Erik Ashel
Magazine Program Kansas City Chiefs: Brad Young, Robert Alberino, Shanna Hilt
Graphic Arts: Graphics – Program/ News (tie) Kansas City Chiefs: Brad Young St. Louis Rams: Chris Slepokura
Public/Current/Comm Affairs: Feature (tie) Coolfire Media: Mike Rohlfing, Lindsay Naumann, Megan Weissenstein PlattForm: Michael Mackie, Jason Kerschner Public/Current/Comm Affairs: Program Kansas City Chiefs: Robert Alberino, Jodain Massad Special Event Coverage KCPT: Angee Simmons, Randy Mason, Mark Stamm Community/Public Service (PSA) KCPT: Angee Simmons, Jim Button News Promo: Single Spot KSDK: Richard Witzofsky, Spencer
News Promo: Campaign Image KCTV: Tye Murphy, Maria Robinson, Brian Boye Program Promo: Single Spot or Campaign Kansas City Chiefs: Jodain Massad, Robert Alberino, Wil Blackwell Commercial: Single Spot Coolfire Media: Pete Halliday, Jason Stamp, Patrick Vaughan Commercial – Campaign Coolfire Media: Jason Stamp, Patrick Vaughan, Preston Gibson Station Excellence KTVI/KPLR: Spencer Koch News Excellence (tie) KCTV: Blaise Labbe KMBC: Sherrie Brown
Graphic Arts: Animation Antidote: Jeremy Frye On-Camera Talent/Anchor: News (tie) KLRT: Donna Terrell Courtesy: Kabance Photo KSDK: Mike Bush Hallmark Hall of Fame President Brad On-Camera Talent/Anchor: Weather Moore with the prestigious Governor’s KTVI: Chris Higgins Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Community Service KETC/Nine Network: Anne-Marie Berger, Jim Kirchherr, Margaret Enright, Amy Shaw
On-Camera Talent/Anchor: Sports Metro Sports: Mick Shaffer On-Camera Talent: Performer/Host Kansas City Chiefs: Mitch Holthus
Journalistic Enterprise KTVI/KPLR: Chris Hayes
On-Camera Talent: Sports Announcer Fox Sports Midwest: Dan McLaughlin
Interactivity KOMU: Sarah Hill, Nathan Higgins, Jennifer Reeves, Stacey Woelfel, Lindsey Tyler
On-Camera Talent: Commentator KTHV: Craig O’Neill
Audio: Live or Post-Production Kansas City Chiefs: Jodain Massad Musical Composition/Arrangement BicMedia: Julian Bickford Director: Live or Live to tape (tie) Fox Sports Midwest: Tom Mee Fox Sports Midwest: Steve Kurtenbach Director: Post-Production (tie) Kansas City Chiefs: Jodain Massad Kansas City Chiefs: Robert Alberino Editor: Program Arkansas Educational TV: Mark Wilcken Editor: Short Form (Promo/PSA) (tie) KCTV: Tye Murphy 90 Degrees West: Scott Whiteaker, Vlad Sarkisov, Mark Bartels
On-Camera Talent: Reporter KSDK: Mike Rush Photographer: Program Kansas City Chiefs: Jodain Massad Photographer: News KSDK: Eric Voss Photographer: Sports (Single Camera) Metro Sports: Erik Ashel Writer: Program/Program Feature (tie) She’s Always Wright: Sharon Wright Arkansas Educational TV: Mark Wilcken Writer: News KPLR/KTVI: Patrick Clark Video Journalist KTVI: Wade Smith
Fall 2012 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 7
Beat reporters step up in Chicago strike by John McCarron
here’s nothing like a bitter teachers’ strike – and one chockablock with national ideo-politico implications – to bring out the best, and not so best, in the newsrooms of the Midwest’s largest media market. Initial coverage of the seven-day Chicago teachers’ strike largely consisted of by-the-numbers spot news and predictable sidebars of the kind assistant city editors reflexively assign. “STRIKE” screamed the tab Sun-Times in 18-pica bold Sept.10, the morning after Chicago Teachers Union negotiators rejected the school board’s last offer, sending 26,000 teachers to the picket lines and 350,000 students to – where? That was one staple of Day 1 strike coverage: Where to send the kids if you’re a working mother? Others included the potential impact on prep football schedules, and whether Mayor Rahm Emanuel should have stayed in Chicago negotiating during the previous week instead of preening before party faithful at the Democratic convention in Charlotte. These first stories were done capably enough, though it wasn’t until the next day’s print editions – and that night’s public radio and TV panels – that the public got some real insight into what really was going on behind closed doors. It likely took 48 hours for editors to stop acting like firehouse dogs – “Hat! Coat! Talk to parents!” – and start listening to their beat reporters. Continued on next page
Page 8 • Gateway Journalism Review • Fall 2012
Continued from previous page
Beat reporters. Remember them? Big newsrooms used to have oodles of them. They were tasked with developing real sources and mastering the details of complex urban systems. With the collapse of print’s business model and the downsizing of newspaper staffs, too many beats have disappeared or been telescoped into catch-alls such as “women’s issues” or “politics.” Fortunately, Chicago’s two metro dailies still have genuine education writers – Diane Rado and Noreen Ahmed-Ullah at the Tribune, as well as Rosalind Rossi at the Sun-Times – who managed, after the initial “Oh, my God!” din, to point out that money was not the main issue. The school board was ready early on to come through with 4 percent annual raises, though it remains to be seen how the board will pay for it. It turned out the strike primarily was about impending layoffs. Specifically, it was about which teachers would be losing their jobs as more and more underperforming and half-empty inner-city public schools are closed – and as more and more non-union charter schools are opened. If there was a true scoop during two weeks of breathless blanket coverage, it was the Trib’s front-page revelation – a triple-byline affair led by Ahmed-Ullah – that the Emanuel administration is quietly planning to close up to 120 of the system’s 600 schools and open 60 additional publicly funded (but privately managed) non-union charter schools over the next five years. Much of the story was based on an obscure but finely detailed grant application that Chicago Public Schools submitted recently to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was this revelation – that the strike really was about the rapid advance of charter schools, and how the shrinking public system intended to evaluate which teachers would stay and which go – that gave the story its national sweep. Most big-city public school systems, after all, are dealing with similar
With the collapse of print’s business model and the downsizing of newspaper staffs, too many beats have disappeared or been telescoped into catch-alls such as “women’s issues” or “politics.” dilemmas. Business and civic leaders constantly call for reform. Of course they do: Nearly half of Chicago public school students drop out of high school before graduation – and many of those who do graduate are unable to read an instructional manual, much less navigate a mechanical blueprint or enterprise software. Civic reformers have been quick to blame incompetent but union-protected teachers. In Chicago they’ve been loudly supported by the Tribune’s editorial page, which has thundered against the impossibly complex rules governing the firing of teachers and a pay system that rewards longevity rather than educational results. Adding to the national scope is the fact that President Obama has supported expansion of charters, which tap about two-thirds of their funding from public school budgets but need not abide by union work rules and pay scales. The president’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, pushed the idea while serving as chief executive officer of Chicago schools under former Mayor Richard M. Daley. And the Obama administration’s signature schools initiative, “Race to the Top,” counts charters among innovations that local districts can implement to win competitively awarded federal grants. Then again, public employee unions, of which teachers’ unions are a huge faction, have been reliable supporters of the Democratic Party. Yet here was Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff and national Democratic fundraiser extraordinaire, going toe-to-toe with the CTU and its hard-line leader Karen Lewis. No wonder that Stephanie Banchero, a former Tribune education writer, won front-page play, day after day, for her insightful coverage of the strike for the Wall Street Journal. The lede of her endof-strike story Sept. 19 called the Chicago
dispute emblematic of “the intensifying national debate over how teachers are evaluated, hired and fired.” Banchero even squeezed in details of the key compromise on teacher evaluations. Student scores on standardized tests will be phased in and count for up to more than a third by the end of the four-year contract. When a school is closed, even teachers with so-so evaluations will get advanced standing for rehiring by principals at surviving schools. This was a win for the union, because Emanuel had insisted that principals (who are held accountable for academic results) be given near-total control over hiring. Few media outlets delved so deeply into the arcana of teacher evaluation formulas. The television O-and-Os predictably relied on fresh daily video of boisterous, red-shirted teachers on the picket lines carrying “Shame on Rahm” signs. Leave it to Chicago’s WBEZ (91.5 FM) public radio to organize morethan-you-ever-thought-you-wanted-toknow seminars on teacher evaluation, test scores and – importantly in a system where four of five students come from low-income minority families – the poverty-achievement link. One of radio host Steve Edwards’ expert guests, education researcher and author Paul Tough, explained that “chaotic, unstable, violent and difficult” home environments tend to produce in children a “toxic stress” that stunts formation of the “executive function skills” crucial for success in school. Good schools and better teachers are important, sure. But the educational crisis afflicting Chicago and America’s other major cities won’t be solved by jiggering teacher evaluations – or even by opening more charter schools. Good beat reporters get this. May they long be around to explain it to the rest of us.
Fall 2012 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 9
Dwindling Editorial Staffs
Midwest newspapers run fewer endorsements by Sam Robinson
ditorial endorsements of political candidates are a rich and important tradition of U.S. newspapers. Though time-consuming and controversial, endorsements are an important part of the democratic process and civic duty of newspapers. However, waning circulation and cuts in editorial staffs at many newspapers have resulted in fewer editorial endorsements. The Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch are cutting back on endorsements. The Star no longer is endorsing in some local races. The Post-Dispatch no longer endorses in state house races. Continued on next page
Page 10 â€˘ Gateway Journalism Review â€˘ Fall 2012
Dwindling Editorial Staffs Continued from previous page
Editors from seven newspapers across the Midwest provided a look at how the editorial endorsement process has changed and what challenges they face during the process while discussing the impact of changes on voters. Endorsement Variations Factors that vary widely from newspaper to newspaper, and that have changed in recent years, are the number of endorsements made and at what level of elected office. Historically, local city and county, regional legislative and all statewide races have had endorsements by newspapers such as Nebraska’s Kearny Hub. But this year the Hub’s managing editor is uncertain that all races will be covered. The newspaper has made these endorsements for the past 30 years. A new publisher recently joined the Hub, according to Mike Konz, the paper’s managing editor, and issues related to the endorsements have yet to be finalized. Changes also are afoot at the Tulsa World. “We are debating whether or not to do a presidential endorsement this year,” said David Averill, the editorial page editor. “There was a time when we tried to make an endorsement in every contested election. Now we pick and choose, and do it if we think we can make a difference.” Averill said there are several Oklahoma districts heavily one party or the other. Races in those areas are less likely to get an endorsement. The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch endorses for races from “school board to POTUS (president of the United States),” said Glenn Sheller, editorial page editor. “My entire staff spends hours interviewing scores of candidates, especially in presidential election years, when more offices are on the ballot.” Newspapers such as the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch have two states to cover. Miriam Pepper, editorial page vice president, said the Star covers state legislative races in the readership area and statewide races for Kansas and Missouri. The Star offers a presidential endorsement, as well as “some” local school board, local
city mayoral and tax issues, but most are statewide ballot issues. Said Pepper: “I am sorry to hear of more papers opting out of presidential endorsements. It won’t stop the critics, and it doesn’t show readers a paper’s thinking process on what matters.” Pepper said that the Star has cut back some on the number of endorsements, specifically those for “smaller suburban municipal races because of a smaller staff. The editorial board is half its size of 10 years ago.” Tony Messenger, the new editorial page editor at the St. Louis PostDispatch, said his newspaper gives some attention to Illinois races but primarily focuses on Missouri.
number of endorsements this year will be comparable to those of past years. Vetting Process Typically, the process of selecting candidates for editorial endorsement involves lengthy interviews with candidates conducted by the editorial board members. The Kansas City Star does “some” candidate interviews, according to Pepper, who said the Star uses “candidate questionnaires, interviews with those ‘in the know’ about the race, review of past voting records and fundraising, past clips and past endorsements.”
“My entire staff spends hours interviewing scores of candidates.” Glenn Sheller
“So we will probably weigh in on the race to succeed Congressman [Jerry] Costello, for instance, but few other Illinois races,” he said, adding: “We do fewer endorsements, simply because of manpower issues. We still believe they’re an important part of the political process, and we concentrate our endorsements on the most important and competitive races. “In the past, with a larger [editorial] board, they did some of the smaller races. For instance, we will endorse in state senate races, but not state house races.” The Post-Dispatch board consists of two writers plus Messenger. A decade ago, six writers endorsed in all state house and senate races in the St. Louis area, in addition to all statewide races and the presidency. The Chicago Tribune, which long has been admired for the breadth of editorial endorsements, offers readers information for “every state and federal office, and countywide offices in the metro Chicago area,” said Bruce Dold, editorial page editor. The Trib also will make presidential endorsements this year, as well as judicial race endorsements. Dold said the
The process used by the Detroit Free Press is “increasingly ad hoc,” according to Brian Dickerson, deputy editorial page editor. “As years have gone by, the editorial board has adopted different strokes for different offices,” he said. For the more local races, an individual member of the editorial board is tasked to research and interview candidates, then report back to the six-member board that currently is down a member. The Free Press also has partnered with the local bar association and civic groups to conduct candidate forums, which then are used in place of individual candidate interviews. The forums are broadcast on local cable television. In addition to interviews, the Free Press circulates written questionnaires to candidates. The responses are posted to the paper’s website. “This gives readers a direct, unfiltered idea of who the candidates are and how they have responded,” Dickerson said. Continued on next page
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The Star also has adopted the practice of conducting candidates’ forums, which then are streamed on its website. The Chicago Tribune has “two editorial board members assigned fulltime to researching and interviewing candidates,” Dold said. At the Tulsa World, “we tend to endorse incumbents unless there is a clear reason to not,” Averill said, adding: “we may or may not interview them. We base our decisions on what we know about the candidates personally, and what we follow in news and public statements and interviews.” The final decision-making process often involves editorial staffs at the
newspapers and the publisher. The publisher usually serves in an ex-officio capacity but has the ultimate say in who will be endorsed. Publishers tend to go with the recommendation of the boards, but they get involved in tight races and presidential endorsements. “We don’t take formal votes,” Dold said. “I get a sense of the board [opinion], and usually – but not always – go with the consensus.” Dickerson said his Free Press board tries to convene as quickly as possible after candidates have been interviewed. “Upwards of 95 percent of the races, we come to a consensus quickly,” he said. “In the remainder, if it is closely contested, it is the editor’s and publisher’s call.”
The Value of Endorsements “In a race for judge, which readers are likely to have little information, the endorsement will move tens of thousands of votes,” Dold said. “We make endorsements because we think it is important to inform readers about these races and give them a recommendation.” The Tulsa World, owned by the Lorton family of Tulsa since 1917, often is accused of endorsing only Democrats, Averill said. But he thinks the endorsements usually are split evenly between the parties.
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Endorsement at a glance City Star ¤ Kansas McClatchy since 2006
Cutback on municipal races
Newspaper Owned by, since Status of endorsements
Detroit Free Press
Tribune Co. since 1847 Maintain same level of endorsements
Gannett since 2005 Using different process for interviews
Omaha Herald World since 1986 Undecided for 2012
Columbus Dispatch Tulsa World ¤ Lorton family since 1917
Focus on races in which endorsement could have an impact.
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Lee Enterprises since 2005 No state house races
Wolfe family since 1905 Maintain same level of endorsments
Dwindling Editorial Staffs Continued from previous page
“It is fairly common to get letters and phone calls from people telling us, ‘We use it [the endorsement] as a guide who not to vote for,’” Averill said. “Still, we have candidates call us and ask us to meet them in hopes they will get our endorsement. We sometimes joke with candidates that it might be more help to not be endorsed by us.” Dickerson said the Free Press gets pushback in almost every election cycle. “Michigan is a swing state, and we endorse in primaries, so we get cross with all the other candidates – those we didn’t endorse,” he said. Pepper said the Star often gets requests to do endorsements in local races for areas just outside the Kansas City suburbs, where it usually does not endorse. She also said endorsements “take a tremendous amount of time that is increasingly difficult to accomplish because of a smaller staff.” Columbus Dispatch readers seek the newspapers’ recommendation, Sheller said. “Many people call to ask whom we’ve endorsed,” Sheller said. “I can’t say what influence that [endorsement] has, but obviously people closely follow what the newspaper says.” Averill said the World starts publishing endorsements several weeks before the election and spreads them over several issues. He said some candidates like it when endorsements come out early. This gives them time to incorporate the endorsement into campaign materials. The Free Press also spreads out endorsements over multiple issues and publishes on an institution-by-institution basis. The more prominent races – such as the U.S. Senate, gubernatorial and presidential contests – get more space, as well as do highly
contested races. The Free Press, which Dickerson said is seen as leaning Democrat, has had the opportunity to interview most presidential candidates. But Dickerson says this year it is not likely to get a last-minute visit from either the Romney or Obama camps. Across the board, the editorial page leaders agreed that the time it takes to do the endorsements is worth it when it comes to providing information to the readers. There is debate about the overall impact on voting patterns, though. “We feel it is the responsibility to endorse candidates, because we get to know them and their positions during the course of a campaign,” Konz said. He added that the newspaper plans to continue endorsements at some level, even though he feels there is minimal impact on voters. “Usually, the candidates we endorse lose,” he said. “It is an important part of the political process,” Messenger said. “Often a visit with the editorial board is one of the most unvarnished opportunities to see the candidates in action. It is good to force them to defend positions in an environment that generally doesn’t have partisan tones.” Pepper echoed Messenger on the importance of endorsements in informing readers. She said the Star now uses the term “recommendation” because “it is a bit more humble.” “In some races, it could tip the balance,” Dickerson said. “It is probably considered weightier if we go against the grain. This is true when we endorse a Republican for a large race. We haven’t endorsed a Republican for president within memory, but we did endorse a Republican in the last governor’s race.” “We don’t do endorsements to sway voters,” Messenger added. “Our job is to inform our readers. If we do that, endorsements are successful.”
About the interviewees David Averill Editorial page editor; started with the Tulsa World in 1969; moved to editorial in 1985 and became editorial editor in 2007. Brian Dickerson Deputy editorial page editor; has been in this position with the Detroit Free Press since 1988. Bruce Dold Editorial page editor; has been with the Chicago Tribune since 1978 and has been the editorial page editor since July 2000. Mike Konz Managing editor; has been with the Kearney Hub for 22 years. Tony Messenger Editorial page editor; started current position with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in July 2012, joined the newspaper in 2008. Miriam Pepper Editorial page vice president; has been with the Kansas City Star for 36 years. Glenn Sheller Editorial page editor; has been with the Columbus Dispatch for 17 years.
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Dwindling Editorial Staffs
Post-Dispatch editorial page
Shrinks but survives by Terry Ganey
t nine o’clock each weekday morning, the St. Louis PostDispatch editorial board gathers around a table in a second-floor office suite. The three board members — Tony Messenger, Kevin Horrigan and Deborah Peterson — discuss recent news events and go over what they plan to write for the editorial page. After about an hour, their meeting breaks up and the three return to their cubicles to create pieces for that part of the paper that Joseph Pulitzer once described as “the schoolmaster of the people.” There are fewer people around the conference table now than in past years. Under the management of Lee Enterprises, the editorial page staff has become a fraction of what it was during the newspaper’s more prosperous days. Fewer editorials appear each day, and the staff no longer includes a cartoonist to focus attention on issues with sharply illustrated sketches. The pages are filled with more outside columnists, and the editorial cartoon offerings are a mix of syndicated drawings selected from other publications. Still, the well-edited page displays one or two strong and thoughtprovoking editorials each day, often excoriating public officials or political parties. A former state House speaker’s campaign finance reports are “an ethical quagmire.” Census data confirms the middle class is in “dire shape.” Because of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, “people with the most money have the most speech.” And the page still takes progressive positions. Messenger, who became the editorial page editor in July, says the newspaper’s management has not attempted to influence what appears on the editorial page. And he says while he’s been asked about rumors of plans
to halve the two-page display, he knows of nothing like that to be in the works. He doubts the rumors are true, since he recently got more money to buy work from outside columnists. Editorial opinion, Messenger adds, is still guided by the words Pulitzer sent his staff in a telegram at the time of his “retirement” in 1907 and which later became part of the newspaper’s platform. Pulitzer wanted the page to be “drastically independent” and to fight for progress and reform, to never tolerate injustice or corruption, to never be afraid to attack wrong, to never belong to any party, to oppose privileged classes and to never lack sympathy with the poor. “It’s about a fealty to those concepts, and taking those concepts and applying those concepts to the editorials we write,” says Messenger, 46. “I don’t think we are necessarily liberal or progressive. We are a body that believes in that platform.” Diminished as it is by staff cutbacks, Messenger says the page can still have an impact. “As a journalist, I’ve always been a tilt-at-windmills kind of guy,” he says. “I still believe that editorial pages are incredibly important. I believe what we say matters. I believe we can make a difference.” But the staff cuts mean that the impact sought must be more local or regional in scope. Gone is the notion that the Post-Dispatch can sway public opinion on a national or international scale. There simply aren’t enough people to research and write about bigger issues, and the page display no longer would accommodate it. “The page benefits from having more voices in the discussions,” says Horrigan, the deputy editor. “When we had meetings with 10 or 12 people around the table, the ideas got much more thoroughly examined. But now it’s
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the three of us, and we make do with what we’ve got.” Historically, the editorial page had been a distinguishing component of the newspaper. Robert Lasch won the Pulitzer Prize for an editorial that argued in early 1965 for an end to U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. That was before heavy troop buildup had begun. Earlier, Pulitzers had been awarded to the page’s editorial cartoonists Daniel Fitzpatrick and Bill Mauldin (see pages 16 and 17 for examples of their work). More recently, editorial writers were Pulitzer Prize finalists: John Carlton in 2010 for work on health care, William Freivogel in 2002 for opposing the nomination and post-9/11 policies of Attorney General John Ashcroft and Philip Kennicott in 2000 for his editorial campaign against allowing Missourians to carry concealed guns. All three have since left the paper. “I think that many people looking from the outside are pleased that the page has maintained the progressive editorial stance that it has long held, and that it has supported these views with strong, well-written editorials by smart, knowledgeable writers like Messenger and Horrigan, and until recently by John Carlton, Eddie Roth and Jim Gallagher,” says Freivogel, the former deputy editor. But Freivogel says he regrets that staff cuts mean less attention is paid to international issues. In addition to the Vietnam War, the editorial page opposed the conflict in Iraq more strongly than did the eastern press. “We can’t leave editorial commentary on world affairs to the eastern elite news organizations,” Freivogel says. Former editorial department employees such as cartoonist Tom Continued on next page
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Engelhardt recall the days when there were seven writers, a cartoonist, a letters editor, a clerk and a copy editor. Repps Hudson, who wrote foreign affairs editorials from 1985 to 1995, remembered going on research trips to Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Vietnam and Japan. Those days are gone. “Obviously, in an ideal world, I’d love to have the size staff that we had even four or five years ago, because it gives people an opportunity to research a little bit more and to be a little bit more in-depth,” Messenger says. Nevertheless, he adds that the page can tackle problems and launch smaller-scale crusades. Messenger has been writing a series of opinion pieces about the problems of Mississippi and Missouri rivers. He was interested in river issues and began focusing attention on the rivers after finding a full-page editorial, “One River, One Problem,” written in 1944. It called
for a river management plan, which prompted Congress to act. “That’s so fascinating that an editorial page would be bold enough to influence public policy,” Messenger says. “I started thinking, ‘I want to do that again.’ ” Messenger says he is planning an editorial page redesign that would include one, strong, well-written editorial each day. It would be accompanied by a fixture, “fair or foul,” which would examine issues in brief, tightly written “quick hit” opinions. After covering state government in the newspaper’s Jefferson City bureau, Messenger joined the editorial page in March 2011. He earlier wrote editorials for the Springfield News Leader and was a columnist and city editor at the Columbia Daily Tribune. Born and raised in Colorado, Messenger gained his early newspaper experience as an editor, reporter and columnist at weekly publications in the West. Horrigan has worked on the page
for 12 years. Peterson, formerly a society columnist, joined the editorial staff earlier this year. While Messenger, Horrigan and Peterson write the editorials, artist Dan Martin helps design the page and Frank Reust edits letters to the editor. Messenger and Horrigan also select op-ed page material, and Martin helps choose from among the syndicated cartoons. “Everyone is collaborative and works hard,” Peterson says. By comparison, the Kansas City Star has five people working on its editorial page, according to Miriam Pepper, the editor. In addition, it gets help from the publisher, page-layout people from other departments and some freelancers. Horrigan is proud of the fact that everyone in the department collaborates each day in reading page proofs, fixing grammar and typos. “I think that’s a luxury in journalism today,” he says. “It’s still sort of the oldschool part of the paper.”
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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Cartoon Collection, The State Historical Society of Missouri. Daniel R. Fitzpatrick (1891-1969), who won two Pulitzer Prizes for editorial cartoons that appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, employed some of his images to warn the United States about the looming danger of Nazi Germany before World War II. This cartoon, which ran Aug. 24, 1939, in the Post-Dispatch, is titled “Next!”Fitzpatrick joined the Post-Dispatch in 1913 and served as its editorial cartoonist until 1958.
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Copyright by Bill Mauldin (1958). Courtesy of Bill Mauldin Estate LLC. William H. (Bill) Mauldin (1921-2003), an editorial cartoonist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, won his second Pulitzer Prize for an editorial cartoon published Oct. 30, 1958. The image depicts “Dr. Zhivago” author Boris Pasternak in a Soviet gulag with this caption: “I won the Nobel Prize for literature. What was your crime?”
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Dwindling Editorial Staffs
Lee layoffs help reduce debt by Roy Malone
The Lee Enterprises newspaper chain continues to lay off employees – and trim content – in its 48 daily newspapers and other publications to help pay off a debt of nearly $1 billion. The chain’s largest newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has seen its newsroom staff cut by about one-half since Lee bought the Post-Dispatch’s parent, Pulitzer Inc., in 2005 for $1.46 billion. Over the summer, 30 more PostDispatch newsroom staffers were laid off, including editorial cartoonist R.J. Matson and a top editor, Steve Parker, whose wife had been laid off earlier. Staff members fear more layoffs after Mary Junck, Lee’s chief executive officer, told stockholders earlier this year to expect some belt-tightening after the company went through a brief bankruptcy to refinance its loans, albeit at much higher interest rates and $40 million more in interest costs. No employee at Lee’s papers feels safe from becoming jobless, staffers say, except perhaps Junck herself. Lee’s board granted her a $500,000 bonus for guiding the firm through the bankruptcy. She also was awarded 500,000 shares of stock valued at $655,000. Morale is low at the Post-Dispatch,
where employees held a protest meeting outside the paper demanding Junck give back the bonus. But neither she nor Carl Schmidt, another Lee executive who got a $250,000 bonus, thought that was a good idea. The bonuses were made public the same day Lee was laying off employees in Montana. The Post-Dispatch had about 330 newsroom staffers when Lee bought Pulitzer in 2005. That was down from more than 400 in the mid-1990s. The St. Louis Newspaper Guild, now called the United Media Guild, once had more than 600 members in various jobs at the paper. That number is now 225. “We’ve lost half of our unit since 2005,” said Shannon Duffy, the union’s business manager. Lee is considered an antiunion employer and sends antiunion information to its employees throughout the chain to ward off unionization. Duffy continues to say the Post-Dispatch is a profitable paper, just not as profitable as it once was. Lee does not break out its financial results for the Post-Dispatch. “It’s strange,” Duffy said. “They’re still profitable, yet they continue to cut back on a profitable enterprise.” Bill McClellan, the Post’s popular and much-read columnist, has criticized Lee occasionally in his columns. “To announce executive bonuses
and layoffs on the same day seems almost cruel,” he wrote. “At the same time the workers are stressed, the big bosses are making more and more.” Lee’s explanation for the bonus was that Junck’s compensation was “substantially that of her peers in the newspaper industry.” Among the recent layoffs was a copy desk editor who had worked at the Post for 13 years and was on crutches with a permanent spinal disability. The man wanted to remain anonymous in hopes of getting another job. “I was left in the dark about my benefits for several weeks and received no exit interview,” he said, adding: “No one from the Post-Dispatch or Lee Enterprises had the decency to talk to me face to face.” Others, too, have told of the cold way they were let go. Some have been tapped on the shoulder and told to leave the building. An editor who had worked at the paper for more than 30 years received a telephone call at home and was told not to come in the next day. Some had no chance to say goodbye to colleagues. Those departures differed markedly from the way Editor Arnie Robbins left the paper earlier this year. After Robbins resigned, he was feted with
Lee has moved to increase its dwindling readership and advertising base as the economic downturn cuts profits.
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Newspaper layoffs, buyouts fuel research quest by Roy Malone
Erica Smith will tell you there have been 39,781 layoffs and buyouts in the nation’s newspaper industry since 2008. Make that about 50,000, she says, because she knows she doesn’t have all the numbers from the print media. Still, she’s got a better handle on the number of vanishing jobs than anyone else, because she collects information that is reported publicly or comes to her from a network of sources. Smith started her “Paper Cuts” website at email@example.com in 2008 while an employee at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She had worked at other newspapers, but never as a reporter. At the Post she was a page designer and social media editor. Smith wanted to start a blog and found that the subject of newspaper layoffs was fertile territory. She became a skilled researcher. “It was a great project for the Web,” she said. After five years at the Post, she took a job last spring with a local marketing firm. With
It is a depressing topic to go with every day, especially when you know the people and hear their stories. lots of layoffs at the Post, “the handwriting was on the wall,” she said. Smith, 35, fell behind on the layoffs monitoring project but caught up with the numbers by July. She assembles data from journalism watchers such as Jim Romenesko, the Poynter Institute and other media outlets. On her website, she asks for people to contact her about layoffs or buyouts anywhere in the United States, and more than 100 have done so – mostly anonymously. “It comes from strangers and people I know,” she said. When Smith tries to contact newspaper officials, they rarely respond. “It’s like they ignore it,” she said of the layoffs. Smith continued on page 42
parties – much like the way it was done when the Pulitzer family owned the paper. Two former employees, copy editors David Sheets and Barry Gilbert, had been laid off, only to be told they could return to the newspaper. Others on the staff had indicated a willingness to leave the paper, leaving openings for Sheets and Gilbert to return if they wanted. Both declined. “I’m not convinced they are finished laying people off,” said Sheets, a 14-year veteran who was president of the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and is now director of Region 7 of SPJ. “Why would I want my head on the chopping block again?” Sheets said most newspaper employees don’t understand the business world, where layoffs and cutbacks are normal procedures to satisfy stockholders – and where it’s logical to dump employees. Lee has moved to increase its dwindling readership and advertising base as the economic downturn cuts profits. It recently stopped printing a TV guide. Readers now have to pay TV Weekly for one to be mailed. Lee appointed Michael Gulledge, vice president of publishing, to lead its sales and marketing across the chain. He will continue as publisher of the Billings Gazette in Montana and will have, as a top priority, “driving digital and print revenue growth.” With the appointment, Junck said: “Lee has outpaced the industry average in advertising revenue performance for 36 quarters in a row.” Lee also has agreed to sell one of its papers, the North County Times in Escondido, Calif., to a real estate developer for $12 million. Lee acquired the paper, which has since lost circulation, as part of the Howard Publications chain that it bought in 2002 for $750 million. The acquisitions of the Howard and Pulitzer papers saddled Lee with $2.2 billion in debt. Said the Saibus Research group: “We believe Lee needs to find a way to sell more newspapers to the public and more newspapers to investors.” The company’s financial position has captured the interest of celebrity investor Warren Buffett, who has bought up Lee shares since last winter. Layoffs continued on page 42
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Uncapping untold stories at
Anheuser-Busch by Terry Ganey
efore he became known as “Mr. Beer and Baseball” in St. Louis, August A. “Gussie” Busch Jr. was the subject of a federal investigation during World War II because of a suspected connection between a German relative and the Nazis. Declassified documents show that shortly after Gussie Busch entered the Army June 22, 1942, he came under suspicion. Soon a special Counter Intelligence Corps agent was inquiring into his background. While the investigation concluded that Busch was a loyal American, the findings provide a fascinating insight into his personality and behavior as witnessed by business colleagues, relatives and friends. The investigation is just one untold story of Anheuser-Busch and the people connected to it. Continued on next page
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Here are two others: • The papers of the late Thomas F. Eagleton show that after Gussie’s son, August A. Busch III, ousted Gussie as head of the brewery, Eagleton offered informal legal advice on whether Gussie should contest his removal. The papers of Eagleton, a Democratic candidate for the vice presidency in 1972, are housed at the State Historical Society of Missouri. • Private papers of the St. Louis public relations legend, Albert Fleishman, pour cold water on the rumor surrounding Harry Caray’s ouster in 1969 as the St. Louis Cardinals’ playby-play broadcaster. There was a legend that Caray’s departure was connected to a suspected relationship with a female member of the Busch family. But the papers of Fleishman, the longtime public relations man for AnheuserBusch, show the Cardinals had ample reasons for not renewing Caray’s contract. The brewery had been fielding complaints about Caray’s on-the-air performance from almost the moment he sat down behind the microphone. It wasn’t until Caray became the announcer for the Cubs that he became the beloved figure that many remember. Together, these untold stories shed new light on some of St. Louis’ most well-known figures during the last half of the 20th century: Busch, the larger-than-life brewery executive who built his brand into the biggest in the country, and who rode in the beer wagon behind his Clydesdales when his St. Louis Cardinals were in the World Series; Eagleton, the popular St. Louis Democrat known for his sharp wit, good stories and political candor; Caray, remembered for his off-key renditions of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”; and Fleishman, the behind-the-scenes power broker in St. Louis who built the public relations firm into an international powerhouse. Loyalty of a beer baron History is a living thing. Often it gets rewritten and amplified as research reveals new facts, much like a current that washes away the silt on the ocean
floor to reveal treasure. Sometimes inquiry puts characters into a different context or sheds new light on events. A Freedom of Information Act request led to the disclosure of the investigation into Busch’s loyalty. The previously secret files show that, in August 1942, the assistant director of the War Department’s Military Intelligence Division requested an investigation to determine “the character, discretion, integrity and loyalty of August A. Busch Jr., major, who is related to an alleged German agent.” A confidential summary prepared July 29, 1942, said the relative, Paul Curt von Gontard, was a “reportedly dangerous Nazi agent now living on the West Coast.” At the beginning of World War II, loyalty was an important issue with the U.S. brewers of German ancestry. A contributing factor in the enactment of
of the FBI. Paul Curt von Gontard was Gussie’s cousin. They were related through Gussie’s father, August A. Busch Sr., and his sister, Clara von Gontard, who was Paul Curt von Gontard’s mother. Clara Busch had married the German baron Paul von Gontard, and the couple raised their family in Germany. While he was a well-known business figure in St. Louis, Gussie Busch had yet to rise in prominence. His roles as chief executive officer of Anheuser-Busch and president of the St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Club developed after the war. At the time Gussie Busch entered the Army, he was the vice president and general manager of the Anheuser-Busch plant in St. Louis, while his older brother, Adolphus Busch III, was company president. One of the von Gontard sons also worked as an engineer at the brewery: Adalbert “Addie” von Gontard.
I had the urge to do my part to end this horrible mess, just like anyone else. Prohibition in the wake of World War I was the perceived connection between the beer brewers and the Kaiser’s Germany. With the start of World War II, the brewers had no wish to be under a cloud of suspicion again. So when Gussie Busch obtained a commission as a major in the Army’s ordnance department, the story earned a sevenparagraph column in the St. Louis Star. “I had the urge to do my part to end this horrible mess, just like anyone else,” Busch was quoted as saying. But the fact that Busch subsequently was under investigation was not generally known at that time – and has not been reported until now. Correspondence shows the investigation took place over a twoweek period in September 1942 and was conducted by Emmanuel “Mike” Salevouris, a special agent. Names – including the name of the original complainant as well as those interviewed – were blacked out in the files that were released. The findings were sent to J. Edgar Hoover, director
But Gussie had no connections to the German-born Paul Curt von Gontard, who was best known as a big-game hunter and horseman. Salevouris questioned 20 people, including relatives, business associates, and members of the clubs to which Busch belonged. One person said Busch was “very abrupt in manners, a little unstable emotionally, loud in speech, inclined to be domineering, and whose only mode of expression is by swearing.” But that same person added that Busch was “of good character.” Two of those interviewed said that Busch had undergone a change in recent years. In his early days, one said, Busch was “high-handed and arrogant in his conduct and mannerisms, and was not very well regarded.” But the report went on to say “that, of late, he has developed into a good reputable citizen and businessman.” A cousin who had known Busch since childhood told the agent Gussie Continued on next page
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would have nothing to do with Paul von Gontard. The cousin also said he believed “Adalbert to be definitely trustworthy and loyal.” A business acquaintance described Gussie “as an individualist, a hard-driving business executive, and as being very brusque and loud in manners and speech, often displaying his temper by swearing at his employees. Despite this failing, he is generally liked by his subordinates.” Another said Busch “had proven himself to be a splendid business executive. This is all the more remarkable, as subject has had no schooling to speak of.” The report Salevouris filed cleared Gussie of any suspicion. “All informants, most of whom are wealthy and highly reputable business executives of St. Louis, are of the definite opinion that subject is of unquestionable loyalty and integrity,” Salevouris concluded. “There is no indication of his German background or relationship having had any influence on his patriotism to this country. There is some question as to his discretion, however, because of his impulsive character and rather meager educational background.” While federal authorities may have had their suspicions, there never was a public accusation that Paul Curt von Gontard was a Nazi sympathizer or agent. EAGLETON’S ADVICE On May 8, 1975, St. Louis newspapers reported that Gussie Busch, 76, was stepping down as chief executive officer of Anheuser-Busch. What was later disclosed in “Under the Influence, the unauthorized story of
the Anheuser-Busch dynasty,” was that Busch’s 37-year-old son, August A. Busch III, had convinced the board of directors to remove his father. In the months that followed, Gussie raged at what had happened and plotted a comeback. The man who played a key role in considering a contest over control was Louis B. Susman, Gussie’s legal adviser. For many years, Susman, a lawyer, had been active in raising funds for Democratic candidates such as Edward Kennedy, Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey. He also raised campaign money for Eagleton, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1987. Eagleton was a U.S. senator when Susman met with him in the senator’s office to discuss the possibility of Gussie filing a lawsuit against 13 Anheuser-Busch directors. An alternative was to launch a proxy fight to elect eight of the 15 directors scheduled to be selected at the shareholders’ meeting in the spring of 1976. On Sept. 18, 1975, Eagleton wrote Susman, saying that while Gussie might have a legal case, he believed there was little chance of winning a proxy fight. And he added that the likely motive of such an effort was not to improve the management of Anheuser-Busch, but rather to give Gussie “the satisfaction of kicking August III right smack in his ass.” Eagleton wrote that August III was “philosophically to the right of Attila the Hun,” and that the way he had treated Gussie demonstrated that he “obviously hates his father.” Still, Eagleton counseled against an effort by Gussie to retain control through a court case. Such a move could tarnish Gussie’s image, Eagleton warned, because the other side might try to depict Gussie as being so far out of it mentally that he could not manage the company’s affairs.
Eagleton wrote that August III was “philosophically to the right of Attila the Hun.”
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The senator pointed out that, as Gussie weighed his options, the possibility of humiliating August III did not outweigh the danger of ruining his own reputation. Eagleton informed Susman that, as it currently stood, Gussie was revered by the public because of his relationship to beer brewing, the Cardinals baseball team and civic activities. Eagleton warned that a public fight with his son could erase the public’s view of Gussie. In the end, Gussie decided against contesting his removal. He died in 1989, remembered fondly as the man whose brewery put St. Louis on the map while keeping the Cardinals in town. Eagleton passed away in 2007, two years before Susman, a major campaign contributor to President Barack Obama, was appointed U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James.
COMPLAINTS ABOUT HARRY CARAY On Oct. 11, 1969 Caray sat down for an interview on the “Bill Fields Show” on KPLRTV, Channel 11. “Are you mad, Harry?” Fields asked. “I’m not mad,” Caray replied. “I’m hurt. I’m bitter about the way it was done.” Two days earlier, Caray had received a telephone call from Don Hamel, the advertising director at Anheuser-Busch. Hamel told Caray that his contract as the St. Louis Cardinals’ broadcaster would not be renewed. Five minutes later, the announcement was on the radio. Caray told Fields his abrupt firing wasn’t because he was not a good announcer. And it wasn’t because he couldn’t sell beer. “I heard some rather scurrilous rumors about some other things which I’d rather
not go into, which are just as false,” Caray said. The fact that Caray and his “Holy cow!” outbursts no longer would accompany Cardinals games shocked and confused many fans. Wasn’t he popular? Didn’t the listeners love him? In fact, since the mid-1950s until shortly before he was let go, Caray had been the object of frequent complaints from listeners, Cardinals team officials and Fleishman. “It is the unanimous judgment of all of the staff members associated with the public relations, advertising and promotion activities of AnheuserBusch, and the Cardinals that Harry Caray’s accounts of the games have, in some respects, now reached serious proportions and are becoming a serious problem,” Fleishman wrote to Richard Meyer, vice president and general manager in 1954, “and we believe that immediate corrective steps must be taken at once before the situation grows worse and reaches the point where more drastic action will need to be taken, before a ‘blowup or a breakdown in morale’ occurs.” The problem, according to Fleishman, was that Caray’s highly judgmental descriptions of the games had undermined the team’s manager, Eddie Stanky. This was one of the earliest of a long series of complaints about Caray, who was accused of game distortions, unjustified management criticism, favoritism and on-the-air remarks that reflected his prejudices and angered minority groups. Caray’s broadcasts often wandered far beyond what was happening on the field. Once Caray noted that among those attending the game was St. Louis University President Paul Reinert. The Jesuit priest later wrote Fleishman to say he hadn’t been
to a game in three years. “During the entire period of Caray’s employment by AnheuserBusch, he has been the subject of more discussions, controversy and conversations than the situation merits,” Fleishman wrote to another brewery official. “The number of complaints about Caray is increasing.” Fred Saigh, the former Cardinals owner, criticized Caray for a lack of professionalism that reflected poorly on Anheuser-Busch. “He doesn’t help endear the company to your customers; he hasn’t progressed with the times,” Saigh wrote to John L. Wilson, executive vice president. Perhaps Caray lasted as long as he did because Gussie Busch protected him. But even that came to an end in 1969, when Busch himself had to write a letter of apology because of Caray’s remarks. That year, Caray had angered listeners with criticism of the stadium used by the new baseball franchise in Montreal. “The conduct of Harry Caray in broadcasting Montreal’s opening-day baseball game made me, and I’m sure many others, ashamed of the Cardinal organization, Anheuser-Busch and even our own country,” wrote Braxton Pollard, a listener. Busch responded to Pollard and agreed that Caray’s choice of words and constant repetition detracted from the description of the game. A few months later, Caray was out of a job in St. Louis. His career later flourished in Chicago, where he called games for the White Sox and then the Cubs. He died in 1998 at age 83. Before Fleishman died in 2002, at the age of 96, he donated his papers to the St. Louis Public Library. His “Harry Caray” file, thick with documents, can be found in Box 78.
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Media dissect Akin’s controversial remarks by John Jarvis
id members of the national media do their due diligence with the Todd Akin story? Akin, challenging Democrat Claire McCaskill in Missouri this year for her Senate seat, gained national notoriety in mid-August by saying in an interview that “legitimate rape” doesn’t end in pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.” After the national outrage his comments generated, Akin attempted to defend his comments in an Aug. 19 statement: “I misspoke in the interview, and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.” Continued on next page
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Election 2012 “Twitter is not the best place to litigate an argument.” Thomas Gounley But unasked – and unanswered – questions surrounding the issue remain. Charles Jaco, host of the television show on which Akin made his remarks, told David Taintor of the website talkingpointsmemo.com that he “screwed up” and “dropped the ball” because he didn’t ask any follow-up questions after the congressman uttered his incendiary remarks. On Aug. 20 Taintor wrote: “In hindsight, Jaco said he should have taken a deep breath and asked the congressman if he believes women’s bodies somehow prevent them from becoming pregnant after a rape. A number of viewers wrote in to express their disappointment that Jaco didn’t follow up. Jaco said he has apologized to each of them.” Taintor then quoted Jaco as saying: “When you’re not 100 percent fully engaged, and you’ve got anything else on your mind, you’ll miss stuff. We all brain fart sooner or later, and this is mine.” A “do-over” isn’t possible for Akin or Jaco on this issue, but how might other journalists have handled the situation? Rob Koenig, Washington correspondent for the online St. Louis Beacon newspaper, said: “First, I would have asked Rep. Akin to clarify his terms, especially the phrase ‘legitimate rape.’ That phrase, possibly misspoken, caused much of the controversy that followed. Did he mean cases that did not involve false claims? Or something else? “I also would have asked Akin to explain what he believes to be the scientific basis behind his assertion that ‘the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down’ to prevent pregnancies after rape. His qualifying phrase was, ‘From what I understand from doctors … ’ My questions: Which doctors? Which scientific studies back
up that claim?” When asked if he thought Akin misspoke, Koenig replied, “Judging by Rep. Akin’s later ‘apology,’ I have the impression that he misspoke only in using the adjective ‘legitimate’ before the word ‘rape.’ What he seemed to mean by ‘legitimate,’ according to an interview he gave to former Arkansas Gov. [Mike] Huckabee later that week, was cases that did not involve false claims of rape. Otherwise, what Rep. Akin said seems to be more or less in line with what he had said in the past about claims by some anti-abortion groups that a woman who is raped is less likely to become pregnant. The best-known advocate for that theory, from what I have read, is a general practitioner, Dr. John C. Willke, who was president of the National Right to Life Committee for about a decade.” A Washington Post story, titled “Story: Rape victims have a higher pregnancy rates than other women,” contradicts both Akin and Willke. It cites a 2003 study that found that “a single act of rape was more than twice as likely to result in pregnancy than an act of consensual sex.” It’s not as if Akin has reversed course on the issue of abortion in his political career. In fact, his anti-abortion stance can be traced back more than 20 years: In 1991, as a state legislator, Akin voted in favor of an anti-marital-rape law, but only after questioning if it could somehow be misused “in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband.” His quote about the law appeared in the May 1, 1991, edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. More recently, in 2011, he was one of the original co-sponsors of a bill in the House of Representatives to narrow the definition of rape to “forcible
rape.” That piece of legislation, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” also was co-sponsored by vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and more than 200 other GOP House members. William Saletan, writing for the daily Web magazine Slate, said in an Aug. 22 column that these incidents, taken together, show that Akin didn’t “misspeak” anything. “When you look at the three episodes side by side – the 1991 comment about marital rape, the 2011 specification of ‘forcible rape,’ the 2012 reference to ‘legitimate rape’ – it’s hard to explain away the pattern,” Saletan wrote, adding: “Nobody uses the wrong words accidentally three times in a row. But if you watch Akin’s whole interview on KTVI, you’ll see that the pattern is actually larger. He trusts some people more than others. Women who report rape are among the people he doesn’t quite trust.” Akin’s words have also caused headaches in Twitter for a former Springfield, Mo.-based television reporter. According to a story written Sept. 14 by Thomas Gounley on the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader’s website, Dave Catanese “caught some heat for a series of controversial tweets about Todd Akin he sent last month.” Catanese, who worked at KYTV and is now a national reporter for Politico, discussed the flap over his Twitter messages at a talk at Springfield’s Drury University. He said he “didn’t use precise language” in his Aug. 20 tweets and was not trying to support what Akin had said, Gounley reported. Catanese’s tweets said Akin had used “poor phrasing,” and that the congressman was trying to say “that there’s less chance of getting pregnant if raped. So perhaps some can agree that all rapes that are reported are not actually rapes? Or are we gonna really deny that for PC (politically correct) sake?” Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters. “I learned that Twitter is not the best place to litigate an argument,” Gounley reported Catanese as saying.
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Missouri: The true-BLUE RED state by Terry Jones
oodbye, purple. So long, pink. Hello, red. If anyone needed more evidence that Missouri no longer is a bellwether state, the aftermath of Congressman Todd Akin’s Aug. 19 remarks about “legitimate rape” and female bodies’ defenses against impregnation should end the discussion. Even when the media frenzy about his comments peaked a few days later, an Aug. 22 Rasmussen poll indicated 38 percent still supported his U.S. Senate candidacy. In stock market terms, that is testing a bottom. It is the worst-case scenario for what happens when a statewide candidate for national office goes off the rails. For a Republican in Missouri, the Akin incident showed that number is almost 40 percent – still close enough to have a chance for a majority vote come November. Putting it more bluntly (and phrased more generically), a candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri can make a public statement that is way out of the mainstream – so far so that it instantly is condemned by most Republican leaders both within and outside the state – and still remain competitive. Seven weeks out from the election, the Intrade election market price for an Akin victory share that would return $100 if he wins had a $39.70 quote. Missouri’s House delegation also is becoming more conservative. Using the National Journal composite roll call vote rankings, Akin was the 11th most conservative of the 435 members of Congress in 2009. By 2011, his rank had fallen to No. 116. Akin had not changed his ideological stripes, but more conservative members had replaced those less to the right. Two 2010 winners had more conservative chops
(Billy Long at No. 52 and Vicki Hartzler at No. 85) than their predecessors, and Blaine Leutkemeyer, who was elected in 2008, was at No. 45. At the presidential level, where Missouri used to brag that it had gone with the winner in every election except one (1956) for an entire century (1904 to 2004), the state has been colored red by all sides despite McCain’s slender 0.1 percent victory margin in 2008. The clinching evidence is that the Obama campaign took Missouri off the table early this cycle. As of mid-September, both the Huffington Post and New York Times poll composites showed Romney with a six- to seven-point advantage. The Obama campaign’s strategy not to contest Missouri was triggered mostly by his widespread unpopularity among the state’s electorate. Aggregating both national and statewide polls shows the president’s favorability in Missouri remains in the mid-30s, about 15 percentage points below his national standing. What accounts for the GOP ascendancy in Missouri? The biggest reason dates from 2000, when the Missouri Republican Party, then under the leadership of John Hancock, identified and developed mechanisms for mobilizing evangelical Christians. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s extensive surveys, 37 percent of Missourians are evangelical Protestants, considerably above the 26 percent share nationally. Within the state, the concentration of born-again Christians is highest in exurban and rural areas. It was a political strategist’s dream come true: tens of thousands receptive to a social conservative message but not yet much involved in the political process. Better yet, they already were grouped in churches, making it
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37 percent of Missourians are evangelical Protestants, considerably above the 26 percent share nationally. easier to build an extensive database. The next step was recruiting a few members from each congregation so that the message (the Republican candidate is on your side) could be delivered by a fellow worshipper, not an anonymous telephone caller or an easy-to-ignore television commercial. It was classic Richard Daley machine politics combined with old-time William Jennings Bryan religion, aided by Steve Jobs information technology. It made about a six-point difference statewide, transforming Missouri generic races from 53 percent Democrat/47 percent Republican to 53 percent Republican/47 percent Democrat. For state legislative districts, by 2002 Republicans had gained control of both houses of the Missouri General Assembly, and they have extended their margins in subsequent elections. Republican ascendancy has not meant there is no hope for Democratic statewide candidates. Gov. Jay Nixon is a heavy favorite to be re-elected, and two other Democratic incumbents – Attorney General Chris Koster and Treasurer Clint Zweifel – also are ahead in their races. Nixon outlines a Democrat’s path to electoral success in a red Missouri: minimize the party label, stress you are more Missourian than your opponent, avoid pitched partisan battles, be consummately centrist and emphasize pragmatism over ideology. Although this approach draws flack, especially from true-blue liberals, it has at least one compelling virtue: It wins elections.
in the age of the public intellectual by Angela Aguayo
ahrenheit 9/11” was the test case to demonstrate whether a single media event – a mass-marketed and controversial documentary – could have a decisive influence on a presidential election. No other documentary in U.S. history has attempted to rally a nation around a particular political position months before a presidential election. Released in June 2004, about four months before the November election, “Fahrenheit 9/11” evoked immense public controversy and became the highest-grossing documentary release to date. The documentary proved to be enormously popular, but it failed in its aims to rally voters to help Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry ascend to the White House. Almost a decade later, a new massmarketed documentary has hit the political scene with similar ambitions. Hailing from the other side of the aisle, with the intellectual bravado of Michael Moore and the same fact-finding approach to production, academic Dinesh D’Souza has released “2016: Obama’s America” four months before the 2012 presidential election. Many critics describe right-wing ideologue D’Souza’s documentary as the conservative version of “Fahrenheit 9/11” or “An Inconvenient Truth.” After a limited release in July, the documentary expanded to 2,017 theaters because of high audience demand. “Obama’s America” is well on its way to becoming the highest-grossing non-fiction film of 2012, and it already has made the top-10 list of highest-grossing documentaries of all time. Part biography, illustrative lecture and personal documentary, “Obama’s America” pivots on the following theory: Voters do not know our president, Barack Obama, even after
D’Souza places himself as the primary filter from which truth is siphoned.
four years in office and a contentious political election. According to D’Souza, there is a secret Obama ideology bubbling near the surface. D’Souza takes it upon himself to retrace the steps of Obama to his boyhood home in Hawaii, and to Kenya, where Obama learned about his father after meeting him only once. In his travels, D’Souza beats the bushes to find anyone who might have the slightest connection to Obama and a willingness to talk on camera. “My argument,” D’Souza says, “is that it is the anti-colonial ideology of his African father that Barack Obama took to heart.” The documentary ends with the film’s infamous tagline: “Love him/ Hate him. Now you know him.” In the documentary, D’Souza places himself as the primary filter from which truth is siphoned. The documentary genre has undergone a major transformation in the last decade. Until recently, documentary was an afterthought of theatrical release and not considered a profit-gaining enterprise. That all changed with a series of highly profitable wildlife films and a resoundingly controversial Moore documentary at the turn of the
century. Some documentary films now enjoy a visible space in public culture, with a significant potential to influence mainstream politics. In this environment, there has emerged a new kind of political discourse: the massmarketed documentary, spearheaded by public intellectuals who tend to play fast and loose with the evidence. These documentaries are released with intentions to influence the mainstream politics of presidential elections. One of the more fascinating aspects of this emerging form of political documentary discourse is that it is made by people unfamiliar with the history, profession and conventions of documentary production; therefore, the polemical arguments are leveled with little concern for evidence. As Stanley Fish pointed out about the D’Souza’s work in the New York Times, “That path [of the documentary] is at once psychological and historical.” This psychological mission becomes clear when D’Souza visits psychologist Paul Vitz to engage in a conversation about Obama’s motivations as his absentee father influenced them. Continued on page 37
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MONEY, so few swing VOTERS by John S. Jackson
he most appropriate aphorism for the 2012 general election may be, “Never has so much money and effort been spent on so few people with such uncertain effect.” This brief summary of the fall campaign results from the confluence of two quite different electoral developments. The first is the recent – and growing – ideological and partisan polarization of the American electorate. Continued on next page
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Election 2012 Continued from previous page
The second is the vast and growing amounts of money being poured into the effort to elect the next president of the United States. The result is an enormous amount of money being spent by both parties – and all the outside groups supporting them – to convince a relative handful of undecided voters. By Election Day, both camps are projected to raise $1 billion. The American electorate is clearly and deeply polarized. The Democrats are mostly satisfied with the job President Barack Obama is doing and plan to vote for him. Republicans are deeply dissatisfied and plan to vote for Mitt Romney. This leaves a fairly small slice of the true independents (about 10 percent to 12 percent) caught in the middle and less likely to make up their minds until very late in the campaigns. These late deciders have been the focus of avid attention by both parties. The polls show a record low percentage of the total electorate left to be persuaded. The “undecided” category in most polls has run in the 5 percent to 6 percent range since early August. They are the ones who could drive a last-minute shift in one direction or the other, and thus decide the election in a closely divided electorate. They either must be “converted” – or, at least, “activated” – to vote by whichever campaign manages to appeal to some latent policy commitment, bias or prejudice. The rest are the strong and weak partisans who consistently tell the pollsters they plan to vote for their party’s guy. Some of them may tell the pollsters they still could change their minds and vote for the other party, but that category is very small in the final days of the campaign. In 2008, 89 percent of the Democrats voted for Obama, while 90 percent of the Republicans voted for McCain. These partisan voters have a decided inclination to vote for their party. These people only need to be “reinforced” in their commitments and stimulated to act on their strong proclivities to vote for their standing partisan choice. For this group, turnout is the most relevant question.
Voters in most states generally vote for same parties year after year. In 2008, the independents split the difference but leaned toward Obama by a 52-44 margin, which is what they usually do: They vote for the winner, but not by a large margin. These voters must be persuaded to go one way or the other. The percentage of the total electorate truly up for grabs is relatively small. The rest of the story is that the requirements of the Electoral College dictate that Americans experience a series of 50 interrelated but essentially separate state elections where the contest is winner-take-all, except for Maine and Nebraska. This is where party polarization becomes even more relevant. Voters in most states generally vote for the same parties year after year. For the past several election cycles, these states have numbered around 40 and are visualized on the television studio maps as the “red states” and the “blue states.” Only eight to 10 states can truly be said to be competitive. The real action is in what is now called the “purple” states, and they receive the most attention. The candidates visit there more often than they do the red or blue states. They lavish expensive television time on those battleground states, and they concentrate their staff and resources on those states as they plan the ground game for Election Day. Romney doesn’t go home to Massachusetts to vacation; he goes to his other house in New Hampshire. Obama only goes home to Chicago to raise funds, spending much more time in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida than anywhere in the South or Mountain West. Neither candidate has time or money to waste on a lost cause or a sure thing. Thus the amount of television advertising in a swing state such as Ohio or Florida is staggering, and the voters there get fed up with negative ads. The old campaign spending limits regime, put into place in the wake of serious campaign finance scandals
growing out of Watergate in the mid1970s, has collapsed over the past three election cycles. It collapsed because of the actions of George W. Bush in 2000, and then Kerry and Bush in 2004, when both declined the federal subsidy and its attendant spending limits in the primary. This was reinforced by John McCain, who did the same in 2008, and the trend was escalated by Obama in 2008, who declined the subsidy and limits for both the primary and the general election. This time around it’s Obama and Romney who both have declined to take federal subsidies, and thus abide by the spending ceilings in the primaries and the general election. This development was further exacerbated by the Citizens United vs. FEC campaign funding decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010. This decision allowed corporations and labor unions to give money directly from their treasuries to try to elect their favorite candidate or defeat their enemies. This decision overturned a century’s worth of federal campaign finance limitations, going all the way back to the Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. In addition, there now are the “independent expenditures” allowed under Section 501 (c) 4 of the tax code, which allowed some of the political action committees to pose as “civic education” organizations. They were able to enjoy the added advantage of not being required to divulge the names of their donors at all. Thus another form of even less-transparent independent expenditures was born and quickly adopted. There now are hundreds of millions of dollars sloshing around out there. It also is being focused on undecided voters and on those battleground states where the polls are close. Continued on page 42
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The door swings both htob
ways by John Jarvis
Journalists often use the metaphor of the “revolving door” in stories about a government officials going to work for companies they once regulated. But in one recent example in St. Louis, it is the journalist who is walking through the door instead. Former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Jake Wagman traded in his press credentials in June for a chance to do opposition research for the political clientele of his new firm, Shield Political Research. During his time as a reporter, Wagman often mined political nuggets. Wagman’s website www. shieldresearch.com states that “some of Jake’s many investigative projects included uncovering dead voters who had ‘signed’ a recall petition; shining a light on lawmakers who were showered with pricey sports tickets by corporate lobbyists; exposing an alderman seeking tax-exempt status on his campaign headquarters; and discovering that a state legislator had used campaign funds to buy clothes and shoes at the mall.” Wagman graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism, and he was the editor of the student newspaper during his time there. In 2011, he was honored by the Missouri Press Association for best coverage of government, and he had been named by the Riverfront Times as the top reporter in St. Louis. So why did he get out of the newspaper business and start his own political opposition research firm, given that his degree is in journalism – and the fact that he was earning plaudits for his reporting? “The public has long relied on newspapers and other media outlets to dissect the background and records of those running for political office,” Wagman says on his website.
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“But the state of the media industry means newsrooms no longer have the time or resources to scrutinize candidates, especially those at the local level, whose actions affect citizens and taxpayers the most. “At Shield Political Research, we believe the best way to continue the tradition of public accountability is through opposition research – working with Democratic campaigns to make sure voters have the information they need to make the best decision at the polls. Shield offers a new approach to opposition research, using public documents and the tools of investigative reporting to produce original research for candidates and campaigns. The integrity of those seeking to represent us is too important to leave unchecked.” A July 12 report by St. Louis Beacon political reporter Jo Mannies showed that Wagman already had snagged a couple of clients for his new firm. “According to the latest campaign finance reports, Wagman’s clients included St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, who paid him $2,500, and state Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, who paid $1,500 for his services,” Mannies wrote, adding: “Both payments were made on June 27, just days after he left the Post-Dispatch.” Mannies added that Wagman said “the reception to the new firm has been tremendously positive and the work very enjoyable.” She added that he would not discuss specific clients, and Wagman declined to comment for this story. But his jumping ship from the journalism industry into political research is Continued on next page
Continued from previous page
notable, as it appears he’s going in through the door marked “exit.” Most times, it seems, it’s the politicians and government officials who enter the realm of journalism instead – and it’s hardly a new trend. For example, an American Journalism Review article from 1997, written by Alicia C. Shepard, has an introduction that reads: “As politicians like Susan Molinari go into journalism, and as journalists bounce back and forth between government jobs and the Fourth Estate, the line between the two gets awfully blurry. Critics warn that this phenomenon poses a serious threat to the press.” Molinari, who served as a U.S. House of Representatives member from New York, was tapped by CBS that year to offer her analysis as part of a Saturday morning news show. Not everyone welcomed Molinari with open arms to the journalism ranks.
Shepard, in a separate AJR article, noted that Fox television reporter Penny Crone had this to say about Molinari’s hiring at CBS: “I don’t think she’s up to the job. I know she’s not. I’ve been a journalist all my life. Susan Molinari is a politician. If CBS thinks they can parade her out as a politician and no one will question her abilities and qualifications, they’re crazy.” Crone, who was 50 when Shepard’s article was written 15 years ago, began her journalism career as a self-described “copy girl” with the Baltimore News American in 1966. “I’ve worked my ass off,” Crone told Shepard. “She’s an amateur.” Molinari lasted roughly nine months as co-host of the CBS “Saturday Morning” news show before the network pulled the plug on that failed experiment in 1998. Critics of the revolving door say that all this back-and-forth by journalists and politicians hurts newsroom credibility, and that the
American public tends to view reporters who have gone through the process as being in the “back pocket” of our elected officials. But others, such as NBC correspondent Pete Williams, dismiss what he called “hand-wringing” over the issue. He told Shepard in 1997 that “I’ve always been troubled by this notion that journalists have entered the priesthood – that somehow going to government is too tempting, and it warps your brain and you can never be objective again. I don’t understand why there’s this continuing question about whether you’ve polluted yourself if you work as a public servant, but it’s not suspect to be openly partisan as a journalist in public, like those who are on the chat shows.” Before joining NBC, Williams was named Government Communicator of the Year in 1991 by the National Association of Government Communicators for his work as the Pentagon’s press secretary.
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‘Rather Outspoken’ rather an understatement
by Michael Murray
Dan Rather’s memoir, “Rather Outspoken,” provides a personalized look at a distinguished career – and the trials associated with becoming the nation’s best-known journalist. He discusses growing up, and the details of the sacrifices he and his family made – including his wife’s influence when CBS wanted him to set up a bureau in New Orleans, having just moved from Texas. His devoted spouse commented on how she would be losing her support system. His father, upset with editorial policies, often would cancel newspaper subscriptions. Rather describes how his father, exasperated with Texas newspapers, decided to subscribe to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He added with a grin that his dad might have been the only Post-Dispatch subscriber in the state of Texas at that time. The trajectory of his career includes highlights from the history of reporting: civil rights, the John F. Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, Watergate, Tiananmen Square, the Gulf Wars, the attack on America on 9/11 and reporting “live.” In addition to the anchor position, he served as the host of 48 Hours and 60 Minutes, which brought him into contact with other leaders. In one section of the book is an insightful list, “Rather’s Rules,” for conducting on-camera interviews. He discusses stories requiring careful preparation in tricky venues, including in the basement of Saddam Hussein’s Royal Palace. He revisits dealing with American presidents since Kennedy, emphasizing that he never sought conflict and adding that “nobody has more respect for the office of the presidency. But when they get up at a news conference, he became a citizen who’s being asked and called to
Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News Author: Dan Rather Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2012 Hardcover: $15.98, 309 pages
Mike Murray and Dan Rather account for their actions on behalf of the citizens.” He reflects on traditions and people who most influenced him, including colleagues and bosses: Ernie Leiser, Fred Friendly and Bill Leonard. He explains what it is like to return years later to the scene of reporting venues where CBS coverage was sometimes second-guessed, such as Birmingham, Ala. He quotes a friend who advised about Ku Klux Klan coverage, with the proviso that those being reported on had no qualms about killing intruders. Civil rights is one of a number of stories of historic
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import – and one he says is inadequately covered today. And while he comes across as a very thoughtful and modest person, given his status and experience, he offers insight into the challenges of having acquired “legendary” status. He mentions, for example, how taxi drivers sometimes recognized his voice before seeing him. He frequently returns to central themes: the need to stress good writing, and also a commitment to fairness. “Rather Outspoken” offers insightful reviews of press performance and problems journalists face, including confusion over what constitutes news. His coverage of the philosophical basis for leadership at CBS begins with Edward R. Murrow and provides a foundation for what he says is lacking. This was emphasized during his press tour, including statements that “American journalism needs a spine transplant,” crediting politicians for ever-growing acumen in handling the press. Such assertions, coming from almost anyone else, might seem disingenuous. But given the scope of Rather’s career, the thoughts behind it deserve an airing.
Despite cutbacks, Post-Dispatch keeps on digging by Charles Klotzer
Finding fault with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is a popular pastime, especially for St. Louis readers who also subscribe to the New York Times. They have ample ammunition to hit their target, as this journal has pointed out over many years. Recent cutbacks of its news staff seems shortsighted, even when recognizing the financial strains confronting the owner, Lee Enterprises. These reporters and editors represented the institutional memory not only of the Post-Dispatch, but also of this region’s political and civic history. Just as serious is depriving its readers of the columns of Paul Krugman, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. In another disservice to readers, the Post-Dispatch’s weekly TV schedule has been dropped and replaced by a slick pamphlet for a fee. Is the obvious monetary incentive so compelling that the paper can afford to lose more readers, as its letters to the editor seem to indicate? Despite these shortcomings, I welcome the appointment of Gilbert Bailon as editor. His previous tenure as editorial page editor has distinguished the page as being edited in the finest Pulitzer tradition. Tony Messenger, now the editorial page editor, continues to uphold these editorial principles. Too many critics also overlook the incisive investigative work reflected recently in the Post-Dispatch. Just to cite a few: • The arrangements between former Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. and Robert Archibald, president of the Missouri Historical Museum, by which a piece of property that Bosley once bought for $150,000 and the museum acquired, including fees and taxes, for $942,000. Today’s estimates of that vacant lot differ.
Recent cutbacks of its news staff seems shortsighted, even when recognizing the financial strains confronting the owner, Lee Enterprises.
Charles Klotzer • The manipulations and coziness with lobbyists by Steve Tilley Jr., who resigned as speaker of the Missouri House before his term expired to open shop as a lobbyist. He maneuvered the election of Tim Jones as his successor, who the Post-Dispatch described as being “anti-gay, antiwoman, anti-immigrant, anti-voter” and embracing “the culture of corruption in Jefferson City.” • Supporting the Missouri NonPartisan Court Plan that keeps politics out of the selection of judges. Some big pockets are attempting to mislead the public and move them to support amendments that would weaken the plan, which is considered nationally as a model statute. The remaining editors, reporters and copy editors – an ever-shrinking group, it seems – must now cover an ever-widening area, both geographically and in subject matter. The agendas of the news editors are brimming with ideas and investigations they would like to undertake. For years, on a much more modest scale, this was (and still is) the burden and limitation under which this
journal must operate. So knowing of the openness of the Post-Dispatch’s editorial team, here are some proposals that deserve media attention. • The New York Times reported March 24, on page A10, that a federal judge reversed a decision by the EPA to revoke a critical permit originally granted in 2007 to the Arch Coal Co. of St. Louis. The EPA said that the mining operation would have done unacceptable damage to rivers, wildlife and communities burning hundreds of miles of streams under millions of tons of residue. While the some of these developments were mentioned, the story deserves a major follow-up. • Faith leaders, New York City Council members and others delivered more than 225,000 signatures from petitions opposing child sex ads on Village Voice media’s backpage.com. The Village Voice owns the Riverfront Times in St. Louis. While some stories of child sex ads were run, how deeply is the RFT involved? • About 5,700 researchers have joined a boycott of Elsevier, a leading St. Louis publisher of science journals (formerly Mosby), over open access to the fruits of scientific research, reported by the New York Times Feb. 14 on page D7. Many scientific associations have been critical. Elsevier responded that 5,700 scientists are a small fraction of the 600,000 scientists it serves. While some of the reports as noted above were made online, we believe that these stories deserve the impact of the printed page (yes, the printed page).
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Media & Law
Seigenthaler fights for First Amendment by Michael Murray
Just before Oprah Winfrey made the move to cable television from her popular national commercial broadcast syndication program in May 2011, she aired a show titled “American Heroes: The Freedom Riders Unite 50 Years Later.” That program revisited events depicted in an awardwinning PBS documentary “Freedom Riders.” Guests were introduced as “heroes” but could have been termed “survivors” of that bloody era, when many Civil Rights activists were assaulted and some murdered. Among Oprah’s guests was John Seigenthaler, former editor, publisher and CEO of the Nashville Tennessean, who went on to become founding editorial director of USA TODAY and is the founder of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. Seigenthaler, who witnessed the brutality suffered by the civil rights protesters, also was a victim of a mob; he was knocked unconscious and almost killed during the Freedom Rides. In a recent phone interview, he explained how his appearance on “Oprah” resulted in a “reunion” with many of the Freedom Riders – now middle-aged adults. They included a young woman he had tried to rescue from the mob at the Montgomery, Ala., bus terminal during the “Rides.” Seigenthaler’s career in journalism began in 1949 as a police beat reporter at the Tennessean, his hometown newspaper in Nashville. He became known as a young investigative reporter whose assignments included a series of stories on civil liberties and another on labor-management corruption. In 1957 he was assigned by his paper to cover events in Washington, where he met and
John Seigenthaler reported on the activities of Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert, who was chief counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Investigations. The following year, while a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, his relationships with the Kennedy brothers became closer at a time John Kennedy was running for re-election to the Senate. In 1959, after completing his Harvard Fellowship, he returned to Washington to assist Robert Kennedy in the editing of Kennedy’s bestselling book, “The Enemy Within.” Seigenthaler briefly returned to journalism and participated in his paper’s reporting on the Nashville sit-in movement. But after John Kennedy announced his candidacy for president, Seigenthaler signed on as administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy, who was the campaign director. Following the election, when Robert Kennedy was appointed attorney general of the United States,
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Seigenthaler agreed to stay on as his assistant during the first year of the administration. In May, when the first Freedom Riders, whose trip began in Washington, were assaulted in Alabama and too severely injured to continue their journey, Seigenthaler was dispatched by the president and attorney general to Birmingham to escort the “Riders” by commercial airlines to their destination: New Orleans. Meanwhile, a second wave of Freedom Riders, made up of former sit-in student protesters from Nashville, rushed to Birmingham to take up the Freedom Rides. At Robert Kennedy’s direction, Seigenthaler immediately returned to Birmingham to negotiate first with Theophilus Eugene (Bull) Connor, that city’s police chief, then with Alabama Gov. John Patterson. Seigenthaler was seeking the release of the Freedom Riders – and a pledge from Patterson to provide police protection to them on their bus trip through the state to the Mississippi border. At first Patterson was angry at the Kennedy brothers and insisted that it was impossible to protect “rabble rousers and troublemakers.” He subsequently agreed to provide limited security. He directed his state police commissioner, Floyd Mann, to provide an escort to the bus on the state highway between Birmingham and Montgomery. He also directed Mann to arrange for Connor to assure the Riders safe passage out of Birmingham, and to turn over protection inside the city of Continued on next page
Media & Law
Courtesy: John Seigenthaler John Seigenthaler and Robert Kennedy listen as Burke Marshall and John Doar discuss civil rights in RFK’s office.
Seigenthaler will be the guest speaker at the Nov. 29, First Amendment Celebration benefiting Gateway Journalism Review. For tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Montgomery to L.B. Sullivan, that city’s police commissioner. An agreement was reached with Connor and Sullivan, but Sullivan went back on his assurance and allowed a mob of several hundred angry, armed whites to attack the Freedom Riders as they left the bus in Montgomery. In the ensuing melee, the rioters were allowed to continue their assaults on the Freedom Riders; police stayed away from the scene for 30 minutes. John Lewis (now a Georgia congressman) and Jim Zwerg, a white ministerial student, were beaten so severely that both were hospitalized. Seigenthaler, driving a rental car, saw two female Freedom Riders under attack by members of the mob. He didn’t know it, but both were students at Peabody College in Nashville, where he also had been a student.
As he sought to assist one of them, Susan Wilbur, into his automobile, she resisted. She told him that she was trained in non-violence and was prepared to take the brutal beating. But she feared for his safety. “Don’t get hurt, mister,” she cried out. “I don’t want you to get hurt.” At that moment, the mob turned on Seigenthaler, demanding to know why he was helping the young student. When he declared that he was an employee of the federal government, he was struck in the head with an iron pipe, knocked unconscious, kicked under his car and left lying there for 25 minutes before a policeman arrived and took him to a hospital. The two young students, Wilbur and her sister Freedom Rider, Susan German, managed to slip away through the crowd. It was Wilbur, the student who had not feared for her own safety but cried out, “Don’t get hurt, mister,” who
turned up as one of Winfrey’s guests and was reunited with Seigenthaler that day 50 years later. A year following the incident in Montgomery, Seigenthaler, still with the Justice Department, was invited by the owner of the Tennessean to return to journalism as the editor of that paper. He became the editor in May 1962. Seigenthaler admits that one of the challenges he faced when he returned to Nashville as editor was integrating “a lily-white” newsroom. His strategy included identifying full-time reporting opportunities for African-Americans who previously had been hired only for part-time assignments. After six months back at the Tennessean, while visiting on the campus of Fisk University, Seigenthaler was taken aback when a young black woman asked him why she could not get her wedding announcement in the newspaper. “When I got back to the paper, we had a hellacious conversation about the need for change in policy,” Seigenthaler said, pointing out that black obituaries also were rarely published. “What was at work,” he said, “was that there had been so much rejection over so many years that black citizens just stopped asking to get anything in the newspaper.” Seigenthaler, the former president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1988, became publisher of the Tennessean in 1973 and CEO in 1981. In 1982, he became founding editorial director of USA TODAY and served in that position for a decade, retiring from the Nashville and national newspapers in 1991. Following his retirement, Seigenthaler founded the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University with the mission of creating national discussion, dialogue and debate about First Amendment rights and values. As a senior advisory trustee of the Freedom Forum, Seigenthaler is a strong advocate of First Amendment Continued on page 37
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Media & Law
does not equal
FREE SPEECH by William Freivogel
During the height of the violent protests over the “The Innocence of Muslims,” Columbia law professor Tim Wu suggested that Google set up an oversight board of regional experts or devoted YouTube users worldwide to make decisions about whether to post such offensive videos. Wu made his suggestion on a blog post for the New Republic, and it was picked up and given prominence in the New York Times. Wu argued that Google needs a more transparent process that relies on community experts and can serve as an early warning system to delete videos before they provoke riots. Wu said people should know more about how private firms such as Google make their decisions, because the private companies are acting almost like sovereigns making case law. At first blush, Wu’s idea looks appealing. Who could be against more transparency in the exercise of the enormous power wielded by the private gatekeepers on the Web? But, as Wu himself acknowledged, a group of experts could end up censoring far more speech than Google, Facebook and Apple do now. Members of a community or worldwide board could end up thinking of themselves as representatives of a religious, racial or ethnic minority. That could lead them to block speech offensive to their minority. Wu’s proposal is reminiscent of the news councils that journalistic do-gooders set up a few decades ago, with little success. Those councils comprised journalists, judges and other people in public life and conducted hearings to judge the fairness of stories. Today’s online audience is better served relying on what lawyers at the Online News Association convention this fall in San Francisco called the “benevolent dictatorships” of the gatekeepers to the Web. The legal experts at the ONA conference said the First Amendment is becoming less important today as control of speech passes to private firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. Those Web gatekeepers don’t have to abide by the First
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Amendment, which applies only to government action. The anti-Muslim film that caused protests and riots in the Middle East is an example of the shift in importance from government decisions about free expression to private ones, the experts said. Pam Samuelson, a law professor at Berkeley, pointed to “the pressure that our government put on Google to block (the movie),” but she noted that Google took the stand that the movie “was not unlawful in the United States and should be available.” David Ardia, a law and journalism professor at the University of North Carolina, added: “We put a lot of faith in these benevolent dictatorships” such as Google. The panelists noted that one reason that online companies favor more free expression than the public might is that it is good for business. The Web wants information to be free. But there is a tradeoff to this freedom of information on the Web, they said: the loss of privacy. “The Web almost has to be free,” said Tony Falzone, deputy general counsel at Pinterest and a fellow at Stanford Law School Center for Internet & Society. “The consequence of that is that everyone has to find a way to make money a different way, and the price of that is privacy.” In the days after the movie began to spark protests in the Middle East, a number of news commentators and academics pointed to Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s famous line of a century ago that free speech didn’t protect a person “falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.” Christiane Amanpour put it this way on ABC this week: “There is obviously freedom of expression in this country. There is also a 100-year-old law by the United States Supreme Court, which says you can’t [falsely] cry fire in a crowded theater.” Continued on next page
Media & Law Continued from previous page
Amanpour was off base for a couple of reasons. Holmes’ line, while colorful and memorable, is not a law. Moreover, Holmes wrote those words in an early First Amendment case in which he upheld the conviction of a socialist who circulated leaflets urging men not to comply with the draft during World War I. That kind of speech clearly would be protected today, now that the First Amendment is more robust. Offensive expression, even burning a Bible or a Koran, would be protected in the same way that burning the American flag is protected speech. Just because the First Amendment protects the speech does not mean Google must keep it posted to YouTube. The First Amendment does not apply to a private enterprise such as Google. YouTube took down the movie trailer in Egypt and Libya. Pakistan and Afghanistan also took steps to block it, and Indonesia asked that the film trailer be blocked. Otherwise, the trailer remained accessible.
Aguayo continued from page 27
The psychologist – who has never spoken to or met Obama – attempts to theorize about what motivates the president, especially in regard to his father. In his attempt to pick up polemical speed at the end of the documentary, D’Souza foregrounds sound bites at the cost of any explanation or evidence for his claims. There are no citizens in motion or concerned people speaking for
Murray continued from page 35
rights of free expression. He became a nationally recognized critic of false and misleading online vandalism after Wikipedia published a bogus biography that said he was a suspect in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy.
Today’s online audience is better served relying on what lawyers at the Online News Association convention this fall called the “benevolent dictatorships” of the gatekeepers to the Web. In a statement, YouTube said the film trailer clearly was permissible under its terms of service. “We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” the YouTube statement said. “This can be a challenge, because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video – which is widely available on the Web – is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt, we have temporarily restricted access in both countries. Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday’s attack in Libya.” YouTube’s terms of service state: “We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular
points of view. But we don’t permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status and sexual orientation/gender identity).” Today’s Web gatekeepers are performing the role that private newspaper publishers have for years, nurturing free expression even when it may be unwelcome to parts of the community. Just as a newspaper never would agree to allow a board of readers or community citizens to decide what news to print, Google and its audience may be better served if Google makes its decisions without the advice of a board of advisers. Less transparency in Google’s process leads to greater transparency of expression.
themselves. The documentary at times uses Obama’s own reading of his audio book as a voice-over. D’Souza picks and chooses voice-over evidence out of context from Obama’s audio book to support his own claims. The people speaking in his film usually are positioned in a formal interview setting, with leading questions provided by D’Souza. Over the past decade, many media critics and scholars have identified the recent surge in “politainment,” the phenomenon
of Americans receiving political information from popular entertainment, media personalities and the Internet. In return, entertainment outlets such as movies, television and radio are programming more political content. A mass-marketed and massively popular documentary film might not be able to sway a national presidential election. But that will not stop contemporary political documentary films from becoming a platform for the new unofficial pundits of mainstream politics.
The controversy led to that website revising its policies. The John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies was established at Middle Tennessee State University in 1986, and scholarship projects are endowed at Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee State in his name.
Recently, a new initiative in the Middle Tennessee State College of Mass Communication, the Seigenthaler News Service, was named in honor of Seigenthaler’s work in coordinating this first-of-a-kind learning opportunity that will give students experience covering the federal judicial system for the Tennessean.
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Media & Law
Shield law protection for bloggers by Eric Robinson
An Illinois trial judge who held in January that the technology news blog TechnoBuffalo.com was not protected by Illinois’ reporter’s shield law later reversed himself, holding in July that “within the present definitions under the Act, this Court must find [the technology blog] TechnoBuffalo is a news medium, its employees are reporters, including the employee who wrote the article at issue, and TechnoBuffalo is protected by the Illinois reporter’s privilege.” Illinois, like 39 other states and the District of Columbia, has a reporters’ shield law that places limitations on the circumstances in which a reporter may be forced to reveal the identity of a confidential source. In the original decision, Judge Michael R. Panter of the Cook County Circuit Court held that “TechnoBuffalo’s reliance on the Illinois reporter’s privilege is misplaced,” because the site did not qualify as a “news medium” under the statute. “TechnoBuffalo’s anonymous ‘tipster,’” he wrote in the original ruling, “is hardly an example of a ‘source’ of investigative journalism that requires protection of the Act.” But in the new ruling, Panter came to a different conclusion: The issue of whether a blog/news site such as TechnoBuffalo is to be treated as a “news medium” is novel and has seldom been dealt with by other states containing shield laws. … “News” is defined by wwww.merriamwebster.com as “a report of recent events” and “previously unknown information.” Similarly Dictinary.com [sic] defines “news” as “a report of recent events.” Under the ordinary meaning
of “news,” the article at issue presented a report on recent events, namely the upcoming release of a new Motorola smartphone. It also supplied previously unknown information. As such, TechnoBuffalo’s article falls under the broad, plain meaning of “news.” This is not the only recent example of a judge reversing his or her own prior ruling on this issue. A federal judge in Oregon who initially held that a blogger Crystal Cox was not protected by Oregon’s reporters’ shield law later clarified that his ruling was based on her behavior – that she was not acting as a journalist – and not the medium in which she wrote. ... I did not state that a person who “blogs” could never be considered “media.” I also did not state that to be considered “media,” one had to possess all or most of the characteristics I recited. Rather, I confined my conclusion to the record defendant created in this case and noted that defendant had presented no evidence as to any single one of the characteristics which would tend to establish
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oneself as a member of the “media.” As Panter noted, only a few courts have ruled on this issue. With the revised decision in the TechnoBuffalo case, Illinois joins a few other states whose shield laws have been interpreted to include blogs, at least under some circumstances: • In O’Grady v. Superior Court, the California Court of Appeals held that the “Power Page” technology blog could invoke the state’s shield law to avoid disclosing its source for information about a new Apple computer product. • In New Hampshire, the state supreme court held that a blog “exposing” what it labeled “financial frauds” was protected by the state’s shield law when a lender sought the identity of the individual who posted the “fraud” claim on the site. In recent years some states Continued on next page
Media & Law Continued from previous page
have added protection for bloggers to their shield law. In 2010, Kansas adopted a shield law with broad language that is considered to encompass bloggers, and in 2011 Arkansas expanded its existing shield law to cover Internet reporters. Wisconsin’s 2010 shield law can cover bloggers, provided that they work for a “business or organization that ... disseminates news or information to
Only a few courts have ruled on this issue.
the public”; West Virginia’s 2011 shield law covers bloggers as long as they are paid. Massachusetts and New York have considered proposals to amend their shield law statutes to cover bloggers, although neither has passed. While only a few courts have confronted this question, it clearly
will arise more often, as the reach and influence of blogs and other forms of new media as sources of news and information continues to increase. There is little reason why blogs and bloggers that operate in role of information providers to their readership should not be covered by shield laws.
Media notes Meet the new St. Louis SPJ board The new president is Tammy Merrett-Murry. Merrett-Murry is a mass communications instructor at Southern Illinois UniversityEdwardsville. She’s also program director for SIUE’s student newspaper, the Alestle. She has more than two decades of professional news experience as a reporter and editor, and she’s long been affiliated with the St. Louis Journalism Review. She’s now a member of its board of editorial advisers. Merrett-Murry’s goals for the chapter include expanding membership, offering training for new and veteran journalists, and extending SPJ’s outreach. Joining Merrett-Murry on the SPJ board are: David Sheets, past president. Sheets is a freelance reporter and editor. He also is the SPJ regional director. Lisa Eisenhauer, vice president. Eisenhauer is the assistant metro editor/nights at the St. Louis PostDispatch. Brian Hook, treasurer. Hook is
the founder, publisher and editor of the online watchdog Missouri Journal. Jill Moon, programming chair. Moon is the lifestyles/special sections editor and reporter at the Alton Telegraph. Shera Dalin, membership and fundraising chair. Dalin is a freelance editor and reporter and co-owner of CarisMedia Inc. Vincenza Previte Adams, student at-large member. Adams is a journalism and photography graduate from Webster University, where she is working on a master’s degree in international relations. Janette Lonsdale, publicity chair. Lonsdale is a freelance editor, writer and content strategist for print, marketing and online. Elizabeth Donald, scholarship director. Donald is a reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat and a novelist. Carlos Restrepo, university liaison. Restrepo is a soon-to-be Webster University journalism graduate. David Nicklaus, board member at large. Nicklaus is a business columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The chapter was honored at the national SPJ convention with the Circle of Excellence Award. Also, Sheets received the Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award for his relentless efforts to keep the chapter thriving. Sheets elected regional SPJ director Thank you to all who participated in the inaugural “One Member, One Vote” elections. There were 830 votes, which means just more than 11 percent of SPJ members voted. As a result, SPJ has some new leaders: Dave Cuillier, president-elect; Dana Neuts, secretary-treasurer; Neil Ralson, vice president of campus chapter affairs; Carl Corry, director atlarge; Mary Kenney and Meg Wagner, campus representatives; Kym Fox, re-elected as campus adviser at-large; Rebecca Baker, Region 1 director; Patricia Gallagher Newberry, Region 4 director; Susan Stevens, Region 5 director; David Sheets, Region 7 director; Eddye Gallagher, Region 8 director; Donald Meyers, re-elected as Region 9 director.
GatewayJR.org Fall 2012 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 41
Jackson continued from page 29
The data will not be available until well after the election ends, but if it were possible to calculate the dollar expenditure per undecided voter in those swing states, the result would be an astonishingly large figure with a very low rate of return per dollar spent.
Layoffs continued from page 19
Buffett owns 9 percent of Lee’s total debt and 6.2 percent of its outstanding shares. Lee’s outstanding total debt has been reduced to $935 million, according to analysts, and Buffett’s stake will force the company to “rationalize” its operations. Lee recently reached a settlement with the union over the company’s decision to cut health care benefits for 248 retirees. Through mediation, the
Smith continued from page 19
Newspapers like to hide their layoffs from readers and advertisers who might think the newspapers are not doing very well, Smith said. Support for her project came from her colleagues and editors at the Post. Smith added that some others have tried to collect information on newspaper layoffs, but “none of them stuck with it.”
Study the undecided voters closely, and the empirical research indicates that a big proportion of those late deciders are only marginally involved and interested in political matters, sketchy in their understanding of politics and often irrational. Television commercials seen in those marginal states are excruciatingly negative,
repetitive, devoid of anything more than superficial coverage of the issues and laden with flag-waving symbolism. So an enormous total amount of dollars will be spent on these late deciders who are the marginal voters in the most competitive states. They are the ultimate “deciders” in this upcoming national election.
company offered to pay these retirees $2.7 million in compensation for expenses they incurred while paying for their own health insurance premiums after being promised lifetime health care coverage in union contracts. Many retirees were to receive at least $5,000 in a lump-sum payment, provided they agreed they had no future claims against the company for health care coverage. Sources said Lee faced as much as $49 million in damages if the retirees’ lawsuits had been successful,
including one in which about a dozen employees had been given written statements from Lee promising health care coverage upon retirement. About 100 retirees who attended one of the Guild’s informational meetings on the health care settlement cheered wildly when Duffy shouted out: “Lee Enterprises is evil!” They were venting over how the employees and retirees have been treated the last several years.
“It is a depressing topic to go with every day, especially when you know the people and hear their stories,” she said. She said she believes the layoffs have been overdone. Some people have been laid off two or more times from different newspapers, and she has heard about employees being stopped by guards from entering newspaper offices and told they no longer have jobs. She’s also aware of efforts by newspapers to cut expenses, such
as downsizing the pages, cutting content, sharing reporting efforts, laying off copy editors and other staff, outsourcing editorial work, going partially or wholly digital, and skipping days of publication. Asked about the future of layoffs, Smith said: “The numbers are getting smaller.” The years 2008-09 had the most layoffs that she tracked; 2010 had the fewest.
Here are figures Erica Smith collected from 2008 up to July of this year: TOTAL:
2008 layoffs: 15,993+ 2009 layoffs: 14,828+ 2010 layoffs: 2,920+ 2011 layoffs: 4,190+ 2012 layoffs (through July): 1,850+ Total: 39,781+
2008 layoffs: 421+ 2009 layoffs: 445+ 2010 layoffs: 52+ 2011 layoffs: 260+ 2012 layoffs (through July): 76+ Total: 1,254+
2008 layoffs: 69 2009 layoffs: 96 2010 layoffs: 0 2011 layoffs: 37 2012 layoffs (through August): 38 Total: 240
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GJR contributors Angela Aguayo
John S. Jackson
Michael D. Murray
is an assistant professor of Cinema and Digital Culture at SIU Carbondale. She is writing her second book, “Documentary and Social Change: An Investigation of Participatory Media Culture(s).” She has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.
is a political science professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale.
is a University of Missouri Board of Curators Professor in Media Studies at University of Missouri-St. Louis. He also is a member of Gateway Journalism Review’s board of advisers.
William A. Babcock is editor of Gateway Journalism Review. He is the senior ethics professor and deputy director of the SIU Carbondale School of Journalism. William H. Freivogel is 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 is the St. Louis editor of Gateway Journalism Review. He has more than 40 years’ experience as an investigative reporter and political correspondent, and worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Charles Klotzer is the founder of St. Louis Journalism Review.
John Jarvis is associate managing editor of Gateway Journalism Review. He has worked as a writer, copy editor and editor for newspapers in Texas, Indiana and Arizona. He is an M.S. student at SIU Carbondale. Terry Jones is a professor of political science and public policy administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He has written on Missouri politics for scholarly and general reader publications. Roy Malone is a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the former editor of St. Louis Journalism Review. John McCarron is a freelance urban affairs writer and adjunct lecturer at DePaul University’s School of Communication. He worked 27 years for the Chicago Tribune as reporter, financial editor and member of the editorial board.
Eric P. Robinson teaches media law and ethics at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and Baruch College. He was deputy director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media at the University of NevadaReno. Robinson is a media and Internet law attorney with extensive experience analyzing and writing on media, Internet and freedom-of-expression issues, including tracking media, and Internet litigation and legislation. He blogs at bloglawonline.com. Sam Robinson is managing editor of Gateway Journalism Review. She specializes in rural media and issues involving agriculture and media. She recently completed her Ph.D. at SIU Carbondale. Mark Sableman is a lawyer with Thompson Coburn LLP in St. Louis. He is a member of Gateway Journalism Review’s board of advisers.
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Media & Law
Who owns Marilyn Monroe? by Mark Sableman
merica’s favorite sex symbol now belongs to us all. You can now place the name “Marilyn Monroe” on your product or package. You can portray Monroe’s sultry smile on your posters and advertising. And you don’t need permission. Fifty years after her death, Monroe is no longer under private ownership. Monroe’s life story involved movies, headline marriages and divorces, lots of sex appeal and a tragic death. The story of the rights to her name and
Marilyn’s right of publicity expired when she died. likeness is more prosaic – it involves a legal principle known as the “right of publicity,” and the impact of long-ago maneuverings in the Surrogate’s Court of New York. The “right of publicity” is the right of a person (usually a celebrity) to control use of his or her name, likeness and other personal attributes in commercial advertising. Most states recognize this right. Some states recognize it after the celebrity’s death; some don’t. California, the home of many actors, does. Monroe died in California, and her popularity only increased after her death. Eventually, her heirs linked up with professionals in managing publicity rights – and, for years since, Monroe’s right of publicity has been carefully managed for profit. Anyone who wanted to use her name or image, or any iconic attribute closely identified with her, had to buy a license from her publicity agent, which most recently has been CMG Worldwide. Her heirs made millions from publicity licensing of Monroe commemorative plates, Monroebranded jewelry or clothing, and countless other products – including, for example, “Marilyn Merlot” wine. But in 2005 Marilyn Monroe LLC, the entity that licensed her rights, sued Milton Green Archives, which then questioned whether Monroe’s rights survived her death. In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision with a simple and startling conclusion: Monroe’s right of publicity expired when she died. Monroe, the court concluded, was a domiciliary of the state of New York when she died, even though she died in California. “Domicile” is a complex legal concept, essentially referring to a person’s place of permanent residence – which, in turn, depends on the person’s
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intent as much (or more) than his or her geographic location. The executor of Monroe’s estate and her heirs had urged the New York Surrogate’s Court, where her estate was probated, to conclude that she was a domiciliary of the state of New York. They pressed that position hard – to avoid California inheritance taxes – and the court agreed. One problem: New York law, unlike California law, does not permit a celebrity’s right of publicity to survive death. (California’s position wasn’t so clear when Monroe died in 1962, but it is now.) So the Ninth Circuit’s ruling is easy to explain. Monroe’s estate is bound (“estopped”) by the position it took after her death. She has been conclusively found to have been domiciled in the state of New York. Thus, her right of publicity derived from New York law – and, under New York law, that right did not survive her death. So break out the bottle of Marilyn Merlot, right? Now you should be able to set up your own Monroe-based business, offering Monroe posters, photos, jewelry, memorabilia, wine and Swiss cheese! Right? Well, not quite. True, her right of publicity has been judicially proclaimed dead. But other rights could be lurking in the background: trademarks for existing products, and copyrights for photos, posters, and movie stills, for example. Monroe’s heirs will do all they can to rely on such ancillary claims to extend their valuable franchise. Monroe’s life presented a classic Hollywood story of drama and sex appeal. Monroe’s estate tells a different story, also classic in its own way: one of attempts to exploit intellectual property rights so ephemeral and intangible that millions of dollars can rest on the outcome of a single lawsuit.
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Who owns Marilyn Monroe? by Mark Sableman page 44