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St. Louis Journalism Review Presents:

Multicultural media gain clout by Sam Robinson page 8 Statehouse coverage cut backs by Terry Ganey page 17 Mirage - 35 years later by William Recktenwald page 22 Drone journalism hovers on edge by Terry Ganey page 27 More states consider ag-gag laws by Sam Robinson page 28

Spring 2013 • Volume 43 Number 330 • $8

Chicago murder coverage isn’t stopping bullets by John McCarron page 37


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Contents Table of

Multicultural Media 8•M  ulticultural media join forces to gain clout by Sam Robinson 10 • ‘Sunrise’ in St. Louis enlightens Bosnian community by Sam Robinson 11 • S t. Louis area rich with multicultural media by Benjamin Israel 12 • The Navajo Times thrives as the journalistic voice of Navajo Nation by Tom Grier

Credentials & Influence 14 • I owa’s media/non-media distinction in libel law could be trouble for bloggers by Eric P. Robinson 17 • S tatehouse coverage: Mainstream media cut back as special interests launch by Terry Ganey 20 • N  RA influence on gun control belies myth of majority rule by John S. Jackson

Investigative Reporting 22 • I mpact of Mirage series still felt 35 years later by William Recktenwald 25 • T he mirage of ever-increasing legal protection for investigative reporting by Mark Sableman 27 • D rone journalism hovers on edge of news gathering by Terry Ganey 28 • M  ore states considering ‘ag-gag’, farm protection bills by Sam Robinson

Crime Reporting 35 • C BS’ ongoing coverage of Columbia Tribune sports editor murder by Michael D. Murray 37 • C hicago murder coverage isn’t stopping bullets by John McCarron 39 • D ifferent take on Pendleton coverage by John Jarvis 41 • L et the Sunshine (Law) in by Roy Malone Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 1


Opinion Industry news 30 • S t. Louis television station covers papal election by Michael D. Murray 31 • M edia notes by Benjamin Israel 32 • A lternative newspaper bought, shut down by printing company by Chad Painter 34 • U nited Minority Media Association launches new member drive by Sam Robinson

4 • S t. Louis American criticizes PostDispatch on museum story by Charles Klotzer

5 • D ebate over public, private sectors leaves U.S. divided by John S. Jackson

Reviews

43 • ‘ ‘Shocking the Conscience” offers penetrating perspective of civil rights movement by Michael D. Murray

7 • M edia fail to cover discrimination in USDA programs by Sam Robinson

44 • R einventing American film criticism by Walter Metz

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

Christian Holt Designer

Steve Edwards Artist

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

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

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


Media censorship, freedom and responsibility

William H. Freivogel Traditional journalists, myself included, ascribe to professional standards that emphasize fair, objective reporting and minimize deceptive practices. But stories can look a lot different from different ends of town, making it hard to arrive at one objective truth. And there are important stories that can’t be gotten without creative reporting techniques. This issue of Gateway Journalism Review probes both situations. The cover package focuses on minority and ethnic news organizations, and the different eyes through which they see important news events – such as the removal of Robert Archibald as president of the Missouri History Museum and the killing of a young girl on a Chicago street a week after she attended President Obama’s second inauguration. A second package of stories commemorates the 35th anniversary of the Mirage tavern series that uncovered a culture of bribery in Chicago government. William Recktenwald (“Reck” to those who know him) tells how he set up a fake tavern where city inspectors were filmed taking payoffs.

Mark Sableman, a media law expert at Thompson Coburn, explains in a companion piece the legal reasons that undercover techniques have become less common since the Mirage. In a modern take on reporter as sleuth, Terry Ganey, GJR’s St. Louis editor, has expanded on his scoop about Missouri University journalism students exploring the use of drones for newsgathering. Thirty states are considering bills to ban drones out of fears they will gather news about factory farms or puppy mills. Charles Klotzer, founder of the Journalism Review, writes about how differently the St. Louis American saw the Archibald affair as contrasted to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Klotzer congratulates the Post-Dispatch for its stories leading to Archibald’s resignation. The stories focused on Archibald’s steep compensation, and a land deal between the museum and former Mayor Freeman Bosley in which the museum agreed to an excessive price for a piece of land. But, as Klotzer notes, the story looked entirely different to the American, which recently celebrated 85 years of publication. (For more details, see the “St. Louis On the Air” interview with longtime publisher Dr. Donald Suggs at http://tinyurl.com/bvwlavf). In an editorial last October, the American criticized the “ill-spirited innuendo that has typified much of the Post’s coverage of this land deal.” The American ran on its front page a letter that the museum had sent to the Post-Dispatch, but which hadn’t been published. The American noted that Archibald had been a friend to the AfricanAmerican community, planning events and exhibits about race. It also noted that the land deal involved an attempt by the museum to open a building north of the invisible racial dividing line of Delmar Boulevard. The Post-Dispatch series also has been criticized around town for how it reported the efforts of former Sen. John C. Danforth to resolve the dispute. The Post-Dispatch often stated that “critics” said Danforth had a “conflict

of interest” because his law firm, Bryan Cave LLP, had represented the museum. What almost never turned up in the Post-Dispatch was that Danforth had written a letter to Mayor Francis Slay and county executive Charles Dooley emphasizing that the firm’s past work “could reasonably raise questions about my impartiality as a negotiator.” Danforth said he would take on the task only if Slay and Dooley knew about the situation and still wanted his involvement. They did. The Mirage story was the biggest journalistic coup of 1978. Recktenwald, working for the Better Government Association, set up the Mirage with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Pam Zekman. They supposedly were a husband-and-wife in the tavern business. While serving drinks, the two assiduously took notes on the bribes that building and safety inspectors solicited for ignoring blatant health and safety violations. Recktenwald went on to a storied career at the Chicago Tribune, where he went undercover as a guard at the Pontiac Correctional Center to tell the chilling inside story. As a reporter, I wasn’t adverse to a little sleight of hand. A mentor – investigative reporter Louis J. Rose – schooled me in the art of reading documents upside-down on desks. And I once got a great scoop by standing outside court-ordered school board negotiations with the teachers unions and simply taking notes of the insulting things the two sides were saying to each other behind a thin closed door. So while I agree with the professional codes of conduct about honest reporting and objectivity, I know some stories can only be gotten by going undercover – and that there are other stories where objectivity is like a mirage.

William H. Freivogel, Publisher

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Opinion St. Louis American criticizes Post-Dispatch on museum story by Charles L. Klotzer After more than half a century compulsively and less compulsively collecting relevant and irrelevant clippings, reports, publications and collections of historic events (the Kennedy assassination, the 1968 Democratic convention, the Nixon resignation, the Obama election, and 50 years of newspaper coverage of elections and many other events), we are running out of space. We even hoarded the subscription orders (1962 to 1983) for FOCUS/ Midwest (F/M) that was merged into the St. Louis Journalism Review (SJR), and those for SJR as well. When Frank Absher, the godfather of media history in this region, learned that we had 30- and 40-year-old letters and communications from radio and television stations (KETC, KIRO Television, KFRU Radio, KTVI, KSD, KMOX-TV, KPLR-TV), he demanded to keep them. He and the St. Louis Public Library have a bit more space, it seems. We haven’t started going through our correspondence, nor have we reviewed the manuscripts for every one of the nearly 400 publications (F/M and SJR). The collection of subscriptions provided enough fodder for a column. L. Brewster Jackson, who held management positions at the St Louis Post-Dispatch in 1978 – later in the 1990s he was appointed CEO of United Press International – subscribed to SJR but asked “Pls. mail in plain wrapper to me.” What a compliment. We found that many readers and supporters have been with us for more than 30 years. Just a few of the many we saw are Wayne Goode, Edward Finkelstein, Dave Garino, Freeman Bosley, Paul Schoomer and many, many other activists in the St. Louis community. In our basement, we have one box per issue of FOCUS/Midwest and

the St. Louis Journalism Review, and a collection – but not full boxes – of the Gateway Journalism Review. The transfer to Southern Illinois University Carbondale has been successful, although the matter of space and storage has yet to be addressed. In reviewing what clippings to save, we started with the more recent ones, since nowadays most of it can be discarded since it is available with a click on the computer. One of these clippings, an editorial in the St. Louis American, made us reflect a bit more about the massive coverage of happenings at the St. Louis History Museum and the management of the museum by its former president, Robert Archibald. As our St. Louis readers know, the museum’s purchase of a piece of property on Delmar at inflated costs, Archibald’s scale of remuneration for retirement, vacations and other benefits, the flawed management of the museum and other problems motivated the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to conduct a detailed examination of museum records. The investigation revealed in-house data that was unknown to

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the public. It ultimately led to the resignation of Archibald. The PostDispatch can only be complimented for the time, energy and cost devoted to this multifaceted project. The editorial in the St. Louis American newspaper dated early January highlighted a side that readers may have forgotten in the barrage of charges. The editorial – the St. Louis American is never too friendly toward the Post-Dispatch – implies that the Post’s campaign was “incessant” and that it made “alarmist claims” about various payments to Archibald. Then the editorial highlighted what, in their view, Archibald has contributed to the St. Louis community between 1988, when Archibald arrived, to 2012. “The earliest attendance records available are from 1991, when the museum had 142,416 visitors. The 2012 attendance, as of Dec. 23, was 377,797, for a jump of nearly a quarter of a million people per year. In 1988 the museum had slightly under 2,000 members; in 2012 Archibald left it with some 8,500 members, more than four times as many as when he found it.” The St. Louis American also made a point that, under Archibald, the museum became “radically more accessible to African-Americans” and the Institute of Museum and Library Services “gave its first-ever National Award for Museum Services to the museum in 1994.” “The museum’s endowment value on Dec. 31, 1988,” writes the American, “was $4.8 million; its value on Nov. 30, 2012, was $24.1 million.” In defense of Archibald, the American goes way overboard in denouncing his critics: “Shame on those who ran him out of town in this way, and what a loss for us.” Nevertheless, the American added a dimension to the discussion that deserves to be considered. Some clippings can be very informative. <


Opinion

Debate over public, private sectors leaves U.S. divided by John S. Jackson Parasite: “Something that resembles a biological parasite in dependence on something else for existence or support without making a useful or adequate return.” Symbiosis: “The intimate living together of two dissimilar organisms in a mutually beneficial relationship.” – Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 1994 These two concepts, taken directly from the biological sciences, neatly encapsulate the two very different views of the public and private sectors adopted by the liberal and conservative philosophical traditions in the United States. Even though the views are widely expressed, neither the media nor educational system is equipping today’s citizens to critically evaluate them. Conservatives believe deeply and staunchly in the private sector and its superiority to the public sector. They believe that government is a parasite that leeches off of business and the private sector while offering little or nothing in return. For example, in the last election several prominent presidential candidates aggressively advanced the proposition that government does not create jobs and that this was the exclusive domain of the private sector, and only the privatesector jobs creators deserved our respect and support – and only those jobs counted. According to this view, the private sector generates all the wealth; the public sector lives off that wealth, which is taken from individuals and businesses in the form of taxes. Like any parasite, the energy and resources that government takes from the private sector weakens the host and leaves it less able to compete, or even to withstand existential threats from the environment. (Remember the arguments about how quickly the United States was becoming a socialist nation?). Perhaps the most powerful current manifestation of this view is the group led by Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, which

demands that conservative candidates sign a pledge never to vote for a tax increase, no matter what. His dictum that he would like to continue to reduce and starve government until he could “drown it in the bathtub” captures that position cogently. The Club for Growth is another well-known conservative interest group that wants to reduce the public sector (and corporate and individual income taxes) to the vanishing point. It is particularly effective in finding and funding candidates to enter Republican primaries wherever they identify a Republican official the club deems insufficiently dedicated to its anti-tax values. In the more formal language of game theory, the struggle between the public and the private sectors is a “zerosum game”; that is, whatever resources one player wins, the other player must lose a matching amount. Much of today’s political debate is couched in terms of a zero-sum game. Liberals disagree. They acknowledge there are two large sectors in the political and economic worlds, and they also understand that there always will be areas of conflict over the relative size and authority of each. However, they also are convinced that the two sectors can – and must – live together in the cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship suggested by symbiosis. Again, in the formal language of game theory, this relationship can, and should, provide for a “positivesum game.” Through cooperation and complementary actions, the two sides can enjoy winnings from the game

through dynamic increases in the size of the pot. One player’s winnings are not directly dependent on another player’s losses. Thus, liberals in a democratic system are quite capable of accepting and supporting a market-based economy, and they are cognizant of the differences between the public and private sectors – although they hasten to add that, in the U.S. system, we essentially have a very mixed economy where the lines are not sharply drawn. There is a large grey area that includes the nonprofits and corporations that depend almost exclusively on public expenditures (defense industries, for instance), and a broad overlap between the two sectors that is not neatly captured by the dominant rhetoric exclusively extolling the private sector, the free-enterprise system and market-based economies. In this view, the government brings crucial assets to the game. It first must define many of the important rules of the game. That is what the laws governing business, especially the enforcement of contracts using the authority of the whole judicial system, entail. Government also must protect intellectual property rights - and in a knowledge based economy this is an increasingly crucial function. Without those laws, the private sector would be a chaotic war of “all against all,” with the survival of the fittest the only norm. This is what some of the kleptocracies and failed states of our modern world have become today. Even some of the better-developed countries, such as Russia and Pakistan, illustrate nations and economic systems that are almost devoid of the rule of law, or ones that at least accept and condone a large amount of corruption, crime, kidnapping and arbitrary application of the rules. The rule of law is crucial to a modern economy. A strong national defense also is crucial in an always dangerous world. No matter how rich you are, the size of your standing army is probably limited to a few privately Continued on next page

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 5


Opinion

Continued from previous page

employed bodyguards. No matter how wealthy you are, you probably don’t want to inspect the cleanliness and health standards of every restaurant you choose for dining out. Local government provides the health inspections of the people and food service in private restaurants, and the federal government provides for national security while state and local governments provide law and order on the streets. Supporters of the public sector contend that it can provide the infrastructure, and the goods and services we need and demand, much more efficiently and economically than can be attained individually on the open market. Liberals believe that public-sector employees produce the educated work force, the infrastructure in the form of streets and highways, mass transit systems, sanitary and storm sewers, the electrical grid and the indispensable power of the Internet that modern businesses demand and that make the United States a global power – and without which this country would be a helpless giant. Think for a second of the devastation of hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, and how commerce (and even basic life itself) ground to a halt while

local, state and national governmental agencies – and countless nonprofits such as the American Red Cross – came to the rescue. Think of how many state governors and mayors, some widely recognized Republicans and conservatives, demanded and pleaded for help, especially from FEMA, and for the president to declare a disaster so they could take advantage of governmental programs and subsidies. At that point there were very few in the foxhole with the Club for Growth or Norquist demanding that the private sector be unleashed to come in and clean up the mess. Government and business must complement and support the people who will develop a prosperous, educated, healthy and law-abiding population. They exist in a symbiotic relationship that is mutually supportive and must be beneficial to as large a swath of the public as possible. In the U.S. political system, based on a very mixed economic system, there always will be struggle, conflict and disagreement over the size of the public sector and the prerequisites of the private sector, and the size of the tax burden. But there should not be any misunderstanding about the fact that both have an absolutely necessary and essential role to play in any modern nation-state. All of these observations are fairly elementary among academics

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who study political philosophy and political economy. However, in political campaigns and in our daily political discourse, we get loud voices, magnified by talk radio and ideologically driven cable television, which constantly dispute the legitimacy of the public sector and denigrate those who work in it. Public employees frequently are described as parasites who “feed from the public trough” by taking hard-earned tax dollars from the abused American people. That is the gist of modern conservative populism that has a tremendous following in this country. It is the essence of many political campaigns, including the one just concluded. While the basic principles above are elementary, they are not widely understood in the U.S. political culture. Those who support and value the public sector and understand the need for a reasonable tax level to fund it generally have done a poor job of articulating the case for their side. Those who understand and value the role of public employees have lost the battle to frame the story. (Witness the debate over public-employee unions and publicemployee pensions in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and other states recently). The public schools are not making this case clearly, and the mass media certainly are not contributing to the clarity of the public discourse. <


Opinion

Media fail to cover discrimination in USDA programs

by Sam Robinson In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $1.25 billion settlement in the discrimination lawsuit by African-American agriculture producers. The case, commonly known as Pigford I or II, represents the largest civil rights settlement in the history of the United States. Yet very few media outlets provided original or continued coverage of the case. The two media outlets that most frequently gave the settlement attention were National Public Radio and the Washington Post. Both are based in the D.C. area and are known for covering the national political scene. The Associated Press had a handful of articles and briefs related to the case. The NPR reports and AP articles then were recycled through media outlets across the United States. Granted, limited attention is better than no attention – but why, in a region in which agriculture is a leading industry, did we not see more original reporting by Midwest media? Racism played a part. Political pundits and special-interest groups have conditioned agriculture

producers and residents of the Midwest to believe that all non-white members of society are out to get them. Specifically, that minority populations want to live off the “hard work” of good “ ’Mericans” while contributing nothing to society. White agriculture producers in the Midwest have been led to believe urban, minority populations have objectives and beliefs that not only differ from theirs, but directly oppose rural values. This is not true. But by not addressing the issue head-on, and by not covering continual issues of discrimination within the USDA, media are allowing this myth to perpetuate. Pigford I and II directly addressed issues of discrimination of AfricanAmerican producers by USDA employees. It was determined that African-American producers were not given equal access to USDA loans and resources. Similar to the Pigford case was the class-action discrimination lawsuit filed by American Indian producers who also were denied loans. The Keepseagle case resulted in a $760 million settlement with USDA in 2010. There are two additional class-action lawsuits pending: one involving Latino producers, the other female producers.

Given the substantial price tag that includes manpower costs, legal fees and more than $2 billion in settlements (with much more likely), media should be providing in-depth coverage of these cases. Furthermore, media should be calling for swift and thorough changes in USDA policy. However, most media continue to ignore the subject. This results in most of the U.S. population remaining unaware of the rampant discrimination taking place in one of our largest federal agencies. In August, the USDA’s Office of Inspector General presented its annual list of top management challenges facing the agency. Included in this list of the top nine issues was the ongoing issue of the treatment of minorities and access to USDA programs for non-white, non-male producers. The report cited the creation of the office of assistant secretary for civil rights, which was established in 2009, but said the office is struggling to meet its objectives of offering fast resolution to discrimination claims and equal access to programs.

Continued on page 42

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Multicultural Media

Multicultural media join forces to gain clout by Sam Robinson Multicultural populations in the Midwest historically have been underrepresented in political elections, community initiatives and in media. Business leaders in minority populations in Minnesota and Michigan have decided it is time for their communities to have a place at the political table. In these states, alliances have been formed between media outlets to enhance multicultural coverage and to bolster political clout. New Michigan Media (NMM) and Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium (MMMC) each have unique projects and goals, but all came together to increase the opportunities for multicultural communities through media efforts. “It (NMM) began about four or five years ago,” said Hayg Oshagan, one of the organizers of the group. “The idea was that by bringing together ethnic and minority media in the region you could have a much more powerful entity. Before, each person represented a small group, but now together we represent a large group of people. This gives us more influence in politics – to be more visible in policy issues. “We also wanted to create visibility of minority issues for the mainstream population. And to create visibility between minority populations, which sometimes operate in silos, they need to know what is going on.” The Minnesota consortium started in the 1990s. Unlike NMM, it was funded with private funds. “We all chipped in a few dollars,” said Al McFarlane, vice president of MMMC. “We started looking for business opportunities. Our first big contract was with the Department of Health for a public information campaign about HIV.” The purpose of the campaign was to stop the spread of misinformation that the public was getting. “At the time, some people were blaming black people and people of

“Once you begin to harness the political power of these groups, people begin to listen.” – Hayg Oshagan

color for this outbreak,” McFarlane said. “We challenged the health department to come up with fact-based information for our communities, and the world, about HIV and prevention. This campaign consisted of eight to 10 ads. It meant awareness and it meant revenue. Had we approached the Department of Health one by one, the answer would have been, ‘No’; ‘We are big, you are too small’; or, ‘We don’t do advertising.’ We needed to organize.” The purpose of MMMC is to maximize the opportunity for multicultural businesses. “We are small businesses representing small populations in a metro area,” McFarlane said. “Separately we are in the margin, but together we are a unified front that negotiates our values and mission. We have created a table where we can be taken seriously and worked with. We want to create more information, more awareness, more knowledge within our communities and about our communities.” The NMM board comprises publishers representing the five largest minority publications in the Detroit metropolitan area. The cultures represented include Arab, AfricanAmerican, Asian, Jewish and Latino. Each of the newspapers represented are weeklies with circulation of more than 100,000. When they combine efforts, the group reaches more than 500,000 people, Oshagan said. The MMMC primarily comprises newspapers as well. McFarlane said the core newspapers represent AfricanAmerican (two newspapers), PanAfrican (focus on Somalia), American Indian, Latino and Asian-American populations. MMMC affiliates with

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other ethnic papers and is trying to get more participation. McFarlane said that MMMC also is a media-buying organization. Advertisers can reach communities of color through the consortium, and the group also offers training opportunities for multicultural populations. The group looks for partnerships to create internship opportunities to educate and improve communication. MMMC strives to develop new ways to use neighborhood assets to connect with people and policymakers. One project MMMC just completed was funded by a $3 million, three-year American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant in partnership with the University of Minnesota. The objective was to increase awareness, access and use of high-speed broadband Internet in multicultural communities. Oshagan, who is an associate professor and director of media arts and studies at Wayne State University, continually is looking for opportunities through which the group can make a difference. NMM originally received grant funds from the McCormick and Ford Foundations. The group also has received a grant from the region to develop community initiatives. “Issues facing minority and ethnic populations are looked at through these newspapers,” Oshagan said. “Once you begin to harness the political power of these groups, people begin to listen.” The NMM members do crosseditorials, coordinate events, bring communities together and work on business projects together, Oshagan said. NMM also collaborates with the local ABC television station. The group is trying to grow its


Multicultural Media For more information, visit www.newmichiganmedia.com and www.multiculturalmedia.org

membership and participants. Currently, only newspapers are involved. Oshagan said NMM will host a conference to which the 140-plus ethnic and minorityowned media outlets in Michigan are all invited. Most are print publications, plus a few radio stations. There are no minority-owned television stations in Michigan. Oshagan said the group has been very effective in promoting the views of the communities it represents in addition to increasing communication with policymakers. “I think it is underappreciated that the publishers of these papers, each is a leader in his community,” Oshagan said. “They understand their communities. They have the respect of the community. People go to the publishers when there are problems, and this gives credibility to our project.” “On the political front, we have met with Quicken Loans,” Oshagan said. “It is headquartered in Detroit. We met with the owner for a long conversation about where the company is going. We have met with corporate and elected officials. We do this to have dialogue, and sometimes for an article.

We hosted the African-American/ Jewish forum in 2012, and we leveraged it to discuss issues of immigration. “We worked on a grant last year to remake the narrative on Detroit from one of doom and gloom to a place of opportunity, to change perception of the city and the region. We want people to know it is entrepreneurs who live here.” Oshagan said some of the stories have run in media in home countries of the populations represented. The NMM also works on community projects such as improving literacy rates, classes in financial literacy and increasing minority involvement in the political process. Both NMM and MMMC are positive about the opportunities for continued growth and involvement. “There are big opportunities in transportation, light rail,” McFarlane said. “We see ourselves having a role to get information to our communities, and to get contracts. It is a $1 billion project. There are many issues and opportunities. We need to get our businesses in line to take part in this.” He also mentioned growth opportunities related to sporting facility developments and highway

Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium strives to develop new ways to use neighborhood assets to connect with people and policymakers.

construction projects. McFarlane said it is important that people in the communities served by MMMC newspapers get the information for job opportunities and general information. “The five newspapers can reach half a million minorities, so there are advertising opportunities as well,” Oshagan said. “Right now, the only limitation is my time. I can’t be everywhere. I look at other minority issues as well. We just did an awareness campaign about emergency room visits by minorities – there are so many issues to talk about.” Oshagan said circulation for the multicultural newspapers is holding steady with small growth. “They are not facing the issues of the mainstream papers,” he said. “This is information you can’t get from any other sources. People retire from Detroit to Florida, but they still subscribe so they can keep in touch. This news is not easily replaceable. It is about their community. It is about their family – seeing one of your own in the local paper.” Both organizations are trying to increase involvement of women. Currently both boards are all male. Women are not minority media owners, Oshagan said, and this makes it difficult to find women to involve. McFarlane also said it was a challenge because there are not many minority women in media. Oshagan, who is Armenian, said he has been involved in Armenia politics his entire life, and he believes this was the opportunity to do something beyond academia and make a difference in another area. McFarlane is the founder and chief executive officer of InsightNews. The magazine launched in 1974 to serve the African-American population of Minneapolis’ north side. McFarlane is the on-air host for a weekly radio talk show that discusses issues with business and civic leaders. “We need to take time to celebrate who we are,” McFarlane said, “and to create awareness of who we are.” “We pull together in a real way to work together to gain real power,” Oshagan added. “We have become friends from doing this.” <

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Multicultural Media

‘Sunrise’ in St. Louis enlightens Bosnian community by Sam Robinson With more than 70,000 members in the community, St. Louis is home to the largest Bosnian-American population in the United States. It is also home to the country’s only Bosnian-American newspaper, SabaH. Sukrija Dzidzovic, publisher of SabaH, started the newspaper in 1995 when he was living in New York, after fleeing the civil war in his home country. “There were 10,000 Bosnian refugees in New York in 1995,” Dzidzovic said. “We had a challenge to get information about Bosnia, which was still in serious condition. I had been chief of media at a company in Bosnia, so I decided to start a newspaper here.” SabaH, which means “sunrise,” is a nationwide weekly publication with a circulation of more than 50,000. Dzidzovic has a small staff of four in the St. Louis office, with six or seven writers in Bosnia and 15 to 20 writers across the United States. Members of the Bosnian-American community also can get information through WEW 770 AM radio. The station offers a variety of Bosnian-related programs throughout the week. Mensur Hatic, programming director and assistant manager at WEW, is Bosnian-American, said John Jackson, WEW engineer. “When you consider that we have 70,000 Bosnians in the area and there is

Photo by Alex Sciuto/St. Louis Beacon Sukrija Dzidzovic no other programming in the area, he offers a lot,” Jackson said. “He [Hatic] teaches listeners English. People call him, and he helps them. Many don’t speak English, and he does, so he just helps them out and helps them get along in this country.” Jackson said no other radio station in the area offers programming for Bosnian or Croatian residents. Dzidzovic said SabaH’s objective is “to make a bridge between Bosnia and the United States. It offers readers news about Bosnia, Bosnian communities in the United States and U.S. political issues.” He said the newspaper is very involved during elections both in the United States and in Bosnia.

WEW 770AM

, founded by St. Louis University, was the first radio station west of the Mississippi to get a commercial license, in 1921. Today the station is owned by Birach Broadcasting Corp. of Southfield, Mich. The owner, Sima Birach, is Serbian and has more than 30 stations across the United States. In addition to Bosnian programming, WEW offers English [British], Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Croatian, Italian, German and Polish shows. The station also has an “old-time” show and a Christian Science show. While there are a handful of paid employees, most of the programs are conducted by community members. The groups buy the air time from Birach Broadcasting,

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The newspaper is published in Bosnian and English. Dzidzovic said he made the switch to publish half in English to retain the new generation of readers. Many of the new generation of Bosnian-Americans – those born in the United States – do not speak Bosnian, which Dzidzovic finds to be challenging. “It is a difficult time for every newspaper in the world,” Dzidzovic said. “Paper media is a very tough business today. Online was easy to transition, but it is a lot of competition. There are so many newspapers in the world and in the Bosnian community. But mine is only one in the United States.” Dzidzovic said he recently interviewed the candidates in the St. Louis mayoral race. “Promises of support come in around election time but never really happen after election time,” he said. “Both guys on the ballot said they would give support to the newspaper and the community, but they didn’t do so after the election.” He also said that when he was in New York there was an association that helped immigrant media work together to share experiences and advertising. “We need such a thing in the state of Missouri, for media leaders in the state,” he said. “For my newspaper, for media like Chinese or Hispanic, there is not enough support – not enough national support or state support. They don’t have programs to help us exist. They don’t do enough for community media.” <

then sell their own ads to fund their programs. Jackson said an hour is about $300. The price is cut in half after sundown, when the station’s broadcast power is reduced. “There are some people waiting for airtime,” Jackson said. “We want people to be on more than just a one-time deal. We want people to continue weekly. We try to keep continuity on air.” The station begins broadcasting at 6 a.m. every day. Its sign-off time varies depending on the time of year. In April it is at 9:30 p.m., May is 10 p.m., June and July will be 10:30 p.m., and then it will start to reduce each month. Jackson said he has been with WEW through three owners. He started in 1996. Rich Vanoy is the station manager.


Multicultural Media

St. Louis area rich with multicultural media Publisher’s note: This list may not include all multicultural media in the area. If you have a media organization to add please email gatewayjr@siu.edu and we will add it when we publish the article online.

with the Southern Chinese News Group, which publishes newspapers in Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Portland, Seattle and Washington, D.C. 8517 Olive Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63132 (314) 991-3747 http://www.stlouischinesejournal.com/

The St. Louis region is host to a diverse population of people from multiple ethnic groups. Many groups have developed newspapers and radio programs to build and inform their respective communities. Below is a list of some of the multicultural media outlets in St. Louis:

St. Louis Chinese American News Founded 1997, distributed free weekly, in Chinese, some articles in English – most of the local articles are reprints. 1766 Burns Ave, St. Louis, MO 63132 (314) 432-3858 www.SCAnews.com

African-American

Croatian

St. Louis American Free weekly founded 1928 4242 Lindell Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63108 (314) 533-8000 http://www.stlamerican.com/

WEW 770 AM Sundays noon -1 p.m., the Croatian Hour with Jelena Smojver; traditional and contemporary music; and guests and reports of events important to the Croatian people. (314) 781-9397 http://www.wewradio.com/

compiled by Benjamin Israel

St. Louis Argus Free monthly founded 1912 4595 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr., St. Louis, MO 63113 (314) 531-1323 http://www.stlouisargus.com/ Bosnian SabaH Bosnian America Newspaper Founded 1995, weekly, in Bosnian 5003 Gravois Ave, St. Louis, MO 63116 (314) 351-0201 http://sabahusa.com/ MRADIO online In Bosnian — http://mradio-vijesti.org/ WEW 770 AM Weekdays 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., Pendzer u Svijet Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon, the Bosnian Association Hour news with various hosts Sundays 10 a.m. to noon, Voice of West Bosnia

Sundays 5 p.m.-signoff, Bosnian Show (314) 781-9397 http://www.wewradio.com/ Chinese St. Louis Chinese Journal Founded 1996, in Chinese, affiliated

German WEW 770 AM German Talk Radio 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays with John McKinistry and friends (314) 781-9397 http://www.wewradio.com/ Latino Red Latina Distributed for free twice monthly, in Spanish with some English 2715 Cherokee St #1B, St. Louis, MO 63118 (314) 772-6362; (314) 772-3515 http://www.redlatinastl.com/ KDHX 88.1 FM Sundays 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., Latin Hemispheres with Carlos G. Charles. http://kdhx.org/ WEW 770 AM Saturdays, noon to signoff, Hispanic music (traditional and contemporary from Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain). (314) 781-9397 http://www.wewradio.com/

WIJR 880 AM Mexican music and programs from Highland, Ill. http://laley880.com/ Italian Il Pensiero Italian-American in Italian, with some English “The only Italian newspaper published in the state of Missouri; 108 years of continuous service and activity.” Published biweekly, 50 cents a copy. 10001 Stonell Dr., St. Louis, MO 63123 (314) 638-3446 http://www.ilpensierostl.com/il_ pensierostl_001.htm Jewish St. Louis Jewish Light Founded in 1963 and distributed free weekly 6 Millstone Campus Drive, Suite 3010, St. Louis, MO 63146 (314) 743-3600 www.stljewishlight.com/ Jewish In St. Louis Founded 2005 by the St. Louis Jewish Federation; online news and culture. (314) 432-0020 http://www.jewishinstlouis.org/ Korean Korean-American Journal Newspaper Available at Korean restaurants. 10725 Midwest Industrial Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63132-1609 (314) 426-3663 Polish WEW 770 AM Polish Polkas Program, Sundays 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. with Anthony Kaminski. Polka Plus, Sundays 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. – more polka fun with Anthony and John (J.J.) Jackson. (314) 781-9397 http://www.wewradio.com/ WIJR 889 AM and WEW 770 AM are owned by Birach Broadcasting Corp., based in Southfield, Mich. The corporation’s website is http://www.birach.com. <

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 11


Multicultural Media

Photo by Tom Grier

The Navajo Times thrives as the journalistic voice of the

Navajo Nation

by Tom Grier WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — More than 150,000 people a week read the Navajo Times, a newspaper published in Window Rock, Ariz., the capital of the Navajo Nation. According to Navajo Times publisher and chief executive officer Tom Arviso Jr., this readership figure is based on 27,000 copies printed weekly and passed along in families and workplaces across the reservation, as well as in surrounding communities. The Navajo Times began in 1959 as a Tribal Council-sponsored newsletter. By 1980 it was a weekly newspaper called Navajo Times Today. In 1982 it became the Navajo Times, the first daily newspaper owned and published by an American Indian tribe. The paper started in a building that originally was a hardware and feed store in Window Rock. When it went to daily production, more space was needed for offices, presses and circulation. Arviso said the paper moved into the Navajo Nation Mall that originally housed a feed store, grocery store and laundromat. Arviso has worked at the Navajo Times since 1981, when he started as an intern sports reporter. “I was on the newspaper staff at Window Rock High School,” Arviso said. “That’s where I got the journalism bug.” After high school, he wrote for the Mesa (Ariz.) Community College

newspaper and for the Phoenix Indian, a short-lived, government-supported newspaper, where he wrote features and covered sports. “This experience made me realize I had a talent and interest in telling stories that mattered,” Arviso said. “I really wanted to help native peoples.” Mark Trahant, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe of Idaho, was the editor-in-chief of the Navajo Times in the early 1980s when it became a daily. “When I was asked to be the managing editor, one of my conditions was that we be as editorially independent as possible,” he said. Trahant said independence was difficult because the Tribal Council provided the financial base for the paper, and it operated as a department of tribal government. “We worked hard to be fair in coverage,” Trahant said. “The NavajoHopi land dispute was going on, and we covered it from both sides. We had many Hopi readers among our circulation of 12,000 in those days.” Trahant said one of the biggest challenges of being a daily paper was distributing across the nearly 25,000 square miles of the Navajo Nation. “It was very expensive, but we were under orders to deliver the news across the entire Navajo Nation,” Trahant said. “We had to deliver by airplane, flying

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copies to carriers and newsstands.” Nightly deliveries flew out of Window Rock to Blanding, Utah, in the north, to Holbrook, Ariz., in the south, to Tuba City, Ariz., on the western border of Navajoland, to Gallup, N.M., in the east, and to communities and trading posts on the reservation. “We lost money every year,” Trahant said. “We lost $2.5 million in the first year of being a daily, $1 million in year two, and only $800,000 in the third year. So the trending was good.” The 1987 election for tribal chairman was particularly heated. Peter MacDonald, after being elected, shut the Navajo Times down and laid off the staff, citing financial instability. A few months later, the paper was restarted as a weekly, and Arviso became the managing editor. “It was really more of a newsletter with only positive news toward Navajo issues,” Arviso said. “It was a difficult political time, with lots of turmoil.��� Through the next several administrations, the Navajo Times was able to develop more independence, Arviso said. When Peterson Zah was elected as the first Navajo Nation president in 1991, Arviso said Zah understood the role of journalism and “left us alone to tell stories with facts.” Said Arviso: “I learned about the importance of telling all sides of a story


Multicultural Media

Photo by Kim Streblow Navajo Times production manager Bobby Martin describes the presses during a college journalism student group tour of the paper’s facilities. and staying right down the middle on difficult issues.” Over the next decade, Arviso worked on getting the newspaper out of debt. “Eventually we were able to quit tribal subsidies and stand on our own economic feet on the strength of increased subscriptions, advertising and commercial printing projects,” he said. In 2000 Arviso was awarded a Knight Fellowship to study newspaper management at Stanford University. “I came back energized,” he said. “I hired a consultant and created a business plan and a strong proposal to become financially independent from tribal government.” In October 2003 a resolution calling for the Navajo Times independence passed the Tribal Council on a 66-1 vote. “That was a great day, a historic moment,” Arviso said. “Everyone cheered. We were the first tribal newspaper to make that transition, and we’re still the only one.” The transition allowed the Navajo Times to operate without oversight

Photo by Tom Grier The Navajo Times’ front door. from tribal government on editorial or business practices. “With independence came great responsibility,” Arviso said. “We were blessed with this power, and had to use the power to practice journalism the right way.” The Navajo Times is keeping up with changes in media delivery. It now has a widely read website and sells subscriptions to an online edition. Arviso gives credit for the Navajo Times success to employees who have given time and talent to

the operation. He mentioned Bobby Martin, the production manager; Rhonda Joe, the circulation manager; and Paul Natonabah, who has been a photographer at the paper since Arviso’s earliest days there, “when we still shot film, had a darkroom and processed our photos.” The next big challenge for the Navajo Times is space. Arviso said it has outgrown the former feed storegrocery-laundromat location in the Navajo Mall. “Within the next five years, we’re looking to secure land and build a new building in the Window Rock area,” Arviso said. “With a new building and new technology, we can capitalize on our abilities to deliver the news to Navajo people.” In spite of new technologies, Arviso said he believed there is still a strong market for printed editions. “The conversion to electronic media requires more time with ethnic populations,” Arviso said. “I’m oldschool. Like many people, I like to hold a paper in my hands with a cup of coffee and read about what’s going on.” <

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 13


Credentials & Influence

Iowa’s media/non-media distinction in libel law could be

trouble for bloggers by Eric P. Robinson In mid-January, the Iowa Supreme Court decided to maintain the distinction in Iowa state law between “media” and “non-media” defendants in defamation cases, with the latter easier to sue for some types of libel. In Bierman v. Weier, the court said the distinction is “a wellestablished component of Iowa’s defamation law.” The decision raises the question of whether bloggers would get the greater protection of media companies or the lesser protection of non-media defendants.

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Credentials & Influence

The Iowa court retained the distinction in the context of “libel per se” cases. These cases involve statements that the law deems to be inherently defamatory, so that the plaintiff does not have prove actual harm to his or her reputation. Traditionally, examples of such statements include those saying that someone has committed a crime, is sexually promiscuous or has a “loathsome disease.” The Bierman case is a libel suit based on Weier’s memoir, “Mind, Body and Soul,” which focuses on Weier’s personal transformation after his divorce from plaintiff Beth Weier. Scott Weier paid vanity publisher Author Solutions Inc. $3,183.81 to

design and print 250 copies of the book, and he distributed 20 to 30 copies to friends, family, and local businesses. In addition, three copies were sold through Author Solutions’ website, and one sold through Amazon.com. The rest of the books are in storage. One of the statements from “the book that was at issue in the case alleged that the author’s ex-wife suffered from mental illness because her father, plaintiff Gail Bierman, had molested her as a child. The father’s suit against Scott Weier alleged that this statement claimed he had committed a crime – molestation of his daughter – and was thus libel per se.

Under Iowa law, the court said, “[w]hen the defendant is a media defendant … presumptions of fault, falsity, and damages are not permissible, and thus the common law doctrine of libel per se cannot apply.” So the question became whether Scott Weier and Author Solutions were media defendants. Before answering this question, the Iowa Supreme Court declared that it needed to first decide “whether we should continue to recognize libel per se and the distinction between media and non-media defendants … .” In the end, after reviewing the history of libel in Iowa and the influence and Continued on next page

“We are not persuaded … that the Internet’s ability to restore reputations matches its ability to destroy them.” – Iowa Supreme Court Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 15


Credentials & Influence In recent years the Internet and social media have evened the playing field somewhat by giving individuals with access to a computer a ready platform for spreading falsehoods or engaging in cyber-bullying. Yet unlike the media, these individuals may have fewer incentives to self-police the truth of what they are saying. Continued from previous page

meaning of U.S. Supreme Court cases on the issue, the Iowa court decided to retain libel per se, and the distinction between media and non-media defendants in such cases. Before 1964, Iowa – like every other state – had certain categories of statements that the courts had declared to be libel per se. Then the U.S. Supreme Court revolutionized libel law by ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964 that the First Amendment placed some limits on state defamation law, requiring “actual malice” for public officials to recover in libel suits. In 1974, the court held that “actual malice” did not apply to private figures seeking compensatory damages. But it also held that states could not impose strict liability. In other words, some level of fault must be required. (For punitive awards in such cases, actual malice is required.) Finally, in a third case, the court held that, for cases involving private figures and matters of private concern, states could use their own standard of fault in such cases, as long as it was not strict liability. But in that and subsequent decisions, the court did not clarify whether its libel rules applied differently to media as opposed to non-media defendants. With no definitive answer on the question from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling in Bierman will stand. So, for now at least, defendants who are

not considered to be “media” will effectively have a bit less protection under the First Amendment than media defendants. After deciding to retain the media/non-media distinction, the Iowa Supreme Court determined that Author Solutions was a media defendant. A person or entity such as ASI whose regular practice is to (1) receive written materials prepared by a number of different third parties and (2) make finished products from the materials that are designed to be more suitable and accessible for the public to read should be considered a publisher and a media defendant for purposes of our case law. But the court also held that author Scott Weier is not a media defendant. In support of this conclusion, the Iowa court discussed Lassiter v. Lassiter in which a federal district court in Kentucky described a libel suit against an author who self-published – on her own computer, without paying an outside printer – a similar memoir as “an action by one private person against another private person about a matter that is not of public interest.” In its discussion of the question of whether libel per se should continue to exist in Iowa, the court rejected the arguments by Author Solutions and Scott Weier that, as described by the court, “…the presumptions associated with libel per se have outlived their usefulness, and that technological developments — specifically the rise of the Internet and electronic publishing — have rendered

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the media/ non-media defendant distinction obsolete.” The court rejected this reasoning, saying, “We are not persuaded … that the Internet’s ability to restore reputations matches its ability to destroy them.” The court also rejected this argument as grounds for eliminating the media/non-media distinction. In recent years the Internet and social media have evened the playing field somewhat by giving individuals with access to a computer a ready platform for spreading falsehoods or engaging in cyber-bullying. Yet unlike the media, these individuals may have fewer incentives to self-police the truth of what they are saying. For example, they may speak anonymously or pseudonymously. Also, because they are not in the communications business, they may care less about their reputation for veracity. In short, as compared to a generation ago, non-media defendants may have a greater capacity for harm without corresponding reasons to be accurate in what they are saying. This is a justification for retaining our media/ non-media distinction. This ruling could be problematic for bloggers and other online publishers. Without a clear definition of who qualifies a “media defendant,” they likely could be held to be nonmedia defendants under Iowa law. Although Scott Weier wrote his comments in a book that he paid to get published, his writings are not all that different from what many others write in blogs and other online media. <


Credentials & Influence

Statehouse coverage: Mainstream media cut back as special interests launch by Terry Ganey JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — If Joseph Pulitzer could return to Missouri’s state capital, he’d probably recognize a recent development that was familiar during his time: politicians publishing newspapers. At the beginning of this legislative session, Rod Jetton, a former House speaker, launched a startup weekly, the Missouri Times. The newspaper and its website promotion promised “a different kind of media outlet” that would become “Missouri’s newspaper of politics and culture.” The journal’s arrival represented a new phase in the evolution of Missouri government coverage. As traditional news organizations have diminished, new media platforms have stepped in. New technologies also have changed the pace and method of government reporting. Journalists now reach people with bits of information through blog postings and Twitter. Covering state government, especially during legislative sessions, has always been a foot race. Now reporters no longer have the luxury of daily deadlines, which before provided time to take a breath and to put events into context. Journalists now deliver a steady stream of information through the Internet. All reporters have “a deadline every minute,” a demand once faced only by wire-service reporters. “It’s always been a job where you are doing multiple things at once,” said Virginia Young, chief of bureau for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “But it’s just multiplied tremendously given the electronic coverage.” Each day state capital reporters monitor simultaneous committee hearings and floor debates. Varied and complex public policy issues are dissected during sessions that sometimes drag on late into the night. Focusing on the debates before them, journalists also use their smartphones and

Over the past eight years, both the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star have cut back the size of their capital news bureaus. Smaller papers in Cape Girardeau and St. Joseph have quit sending reporters altogether. laptops to track the tweets describing what has happened in other meetings. And when it comes time to report developments, journalists deliver the news through a broad array of delivery platforms. “We have to do so many things with the same story,” said Bob Priddy, who covered his 39th legislative session this year for the Missourinet, a statewide radio network of 60 stations. Priddy often found himself creating three accounts of the same news development. He processed digital audio excerpts into a story he supplied for the Missourinet, then he turned the same material into a webpage posting for radio affiliates to use. Finally, he would create a text story for the network’s Web page. “I’m spending a ton of time reprocessing and repurposing the same story, instead of going out and finding more stories,” he said. There’s no denying the importance of what happens in Jefferson City, where lawmakers make decisions affecting the lives of 6 million Missouri residents. This year the Republican-controlled General Assembly considered plans to raise the sales tax while cutting the income tax, allowing schoolteachers to carry weapons, and requiring “creation science” to be taught alongside evolution, among other proposals. Journalists attempting to make sense of it all were heavily outnumbered. A dozen to 16 print and broadcast reporters tried to keep track of hundreds of bills, as well as the activities of 197 lawmakers and a large number of lobbyists and specialinterest groups. Government watchdogs always have been concerned that public debate

be illuminated by credible information that engages citizen participation. The Constitution’s framers knew statehouses were important forums, and that for democracy to work it would need an informed public to influence the process. But state government news coverage across the country has been shrinking in the face of economic pressures on newspapers, which always have supplied the most thoughtful and developed accounts of what’s happening. The American Journalism Review reported that full-time staff writers covering state capitals had dropped from 524 in 2003 to 355 in 2009. The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism reported in March that newsroom cutbacks had reduced print industry employment by 30 percent between 2000 and 2012. “In the news media, a continued erosion of reporting resources has converged with growing opportunities for newsmakers, such as political figures, government agencies, companies and others, to take their messages directly to the public,” the Pew center reported. Jim Moody has witnessed this trend. He has been a careful observer of Missouri government coverage for the past 40 years – 19 as a state worker and 21 as a lobbyist. “I think over time there has been a tendency to take press releases more at face value,” Moody said. “At times when I’m on the opposite side of an issue, I will look at stories that were written off a press release and wonder why the reporter did not look further.” Continued on next page

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 17


Credentials & Influence

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Credentials & Influence Journalists now deliver a steady stream of information through the Internet. All reporters have “a deadline every minute,” a demand once faced only by wire-service reporters. Over the past eight years, both the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star have cut back the size of their capital news bureaus. Smaller papers in Cape Girardeau and St. Joseph have quit sending reporters altogether. And even as the Missouri Times was launched, another state capital news organization, the Missouri News Horizon, went out of business. “There was no fee structure that would sustain it,” said Dick Aldrich, a News Horizon reporter for the three years of its existence. Before it died, Missouri News Horizon was providing stories to four television stations, 17 radio stations and 20 newspapers, Aldrich said. The news operation began as a not-for-profit launched with private donations. Aldrich, married with two children, was paid $30,000 a year with no health benefits. He worked a second job to make ends meet. Eli Yokley, the News Horizon’s other statehouse reporter, said he was paid less than Aldrich. The News Horizon’s news director was Mike Ferguson, a former Libertarian candidate for Missouri lieutenant governor. In 2009 he announced he was joining the Republican Party. With the demise of the Missouri News Horizon, Yokley has been hired as the managing editor of the Missouri Times, the new publication launched by Jetton and Scott Faughn, Jetton’s former campaign manager. “It’s nice to be able to hire journalists rather than to see them laid off,” said Faughn, the Missouri Times’ publisher. Four years ago, Faughn launched a similar weekly paper in Poplar Bluff, Mo. The Missouri Times is a weekly, free, 16-page tabloid that can be found in the Missouri Capitol, although a home subscription is available for $325 per year. Faughn said the print version would become a bimonthly publication when the legislative session adjourns in mid May. There’s also a website, http://themissouritimes.com, that contains updates of legislative news.

Readers say the new publication caters to those who work inside the Capitol: lobbyists, lawmakers and staff. The newspaper’s launch has been plagued by misspellings – even in an online advertisement announcing a job opening for an editor. Jetton and Pulitzer have more in common than the newspaper business. Both were Republicans who served in the Missouri House, and both got in trouble with the law. In 2010, Jetton was charged with assault for hitting and choking a woman during rough sex at her Sikeston home. He pleaded guilty in 2011 to a reduced misdemeanor assault charge and was sentenced to probation. Pulitzer was charged with assault to kill in 1870. The charge stemmed from an incident in which, as a state representative, Pulitzer shot and wounded a lobbyist in a Jefferson City hotel lobby. The charge later was settled with Pulitzer paying a fine. Before his death, Pulitzer used part of his fortune to endow Columbia University to establish a school to train journalists. He might have had in mind reporters such as Yokley, who has absorbed most of his journalistic knowledge through on-the-job training. “I had no journalism training when I started,” Yokley said. Yokley is taking courses at University of Missouri in Columbia, where he plans to get a degree in political science with a minor in journalism. Yokley, who is 20 years old, made a name for himself by starting his own blog, Politicmo, right after he graduated from high school. He earned no money from the blog, and he paid his own way to cover political stories across the state. “I think to do this job right, you’ve got to be in it 100 percent, and love it and be willing to take a loss financially,” Yokley said. In addition to his work for Missouri News Horizon, he also contributed stories to the Joplin Globe. As managing editor of the Missouri

Times, he will supervise the work of two reporters while also writing analysis and “big-picture stuff.” When asked when was the last time he had filed an open records request under Missouri’s “Sunshine Law,” Yokley said it might have been last year or the year before. By contrast, David Lieb, the Associated Press correspondent in Jefferson City, said “there is seldom a time when I don’t have one pending.” Lieb has been covering the capital for 13 years. Priddy said if he had to rely on anyone to know what’s happening in state government it would be Young and Lieb. “Virginia to dig stuff out and David to provide interpretation and news analysis,” Priddy said. Young, who has covered the state capital for nearly 24 years, said the diminishing number of reporters in the bureau has reduced the opportunities for investigative reporting. “It’s hard to do the investigative pieces, especially during the session, just because you’re running so hard,” she said. “It’s harder when there are not as many people here and you feel like you need to be everywhere.” Young and Lieb said their best stories were developed over time based on detailed records research and in-depth interviews. This is the essential difference between the “new” and the “old” media. Lieb pointed to a series of stories that measured the impact of a 15-year highway plan and what happened to each of hundreds of road-building projects. “That’s accountability journalism that holds government accountable for its priorities,” he said. Young cited her stories on a “rebuilding communities” tax credit program. Her investigation disclosed the state had awarded $2 million in credits to a dozen phantom companies that provided phony invoices for equipment purchases for businesses that never produced any jobs. The stories led to indictments, prosecutions and guilty pleas by five men involved in the scheme. One was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and ordered to repay $2 million to the state. The stories upset some people. Assessing the level of state government reporting today, Young said: “There are not enough of us making people mad anymore.” <

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 19


Credentials & Influence NRA influence on gun control belies myth of majority rule by John S. Jackson Virtually every U.S. school child knows that democracy means “the people rule” or “government by the people,” or some variation on that theme. Right? Well, not really. The world is a lot more complicated than that and includes the fact that intense and mobilized minorities exercise an impact on public policy far in excess of what their numbers of members or sympathizers would justify. Nowhere is this political weight and outsized impact on public policy more clearly evident than in the debate and conflict over guns and gun legislation. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the most powerful and well-financed interest groups in Washington, or in any state capital. It works consistently and effectively to define the framing of the gun control debate, and to ensure that federal and state policies reflect its preferences. Republican officeholders usually support the NRA and are almost unanimously opposed to any form of gun control. They feel especially vulnerable to potential primary challenges if they do not. Democrats from the red states (and the red sections of the blue states) are terrified of offending the NRA and its supporters. The NRA works constantly to find, fund and elect candidates at the federal and state levels who will toe the line on gun control. Everyone who knows anything about policy making in Washington or any state capital will warn prospective candidates not to incur the wrath or opposition of the NRA, unless the candidate happens to come from a particular type of urban district where the quest to control street crime and violence is a desperate one, and guns are deemed to be a major factor exacerbating the problem. This fight over some level of gun control and solutions to the continuing parade of mass slayings at the hands of deranged killers is one of the most contentious and compelling public policy issues the nation faces. It has been particularly heated since the multiple

homicides at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 and in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in July of last year. Before that there was the wounding of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and the killing of a federal judge in 2011 in Tucson, along with five others killed and 13 wounded. Before that there was Columbine High School in Colorado, Virginia Tech University, Northern Illinois University, and a grim procession of other place names marked by sickening violence that now fades to a blur in our collective memories. After each of these incidents, there is a call for more gun control legislation and measures addressing the mental health issues of the perpetrators. A contentious debate ensues over why the United States leads the world in the number of gunenabled deaths and injuries each year. After the initial outburst, the debate and the fuel for the fire dies down, and not much gets done in the policy arena. There was a loud and anguished outcry over the children and teachers killed in Newtown. This time would be different, it often was said. Well, maybe, but probably not much different. Public opinion polls consistently have shown that significant majorities support some form of additional control of guns and more aggressive attempts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and of those who are mentally unstable and likely to work out their problems via mass shootings. The drives for changing policy, however, founder on the united and disciplined opposition of the NRA and its supporters in Congress and in state legislatures throughout the nation. One might think that an organization of just 4.5 million members could be countered by the force of public opinion and the reaction to constant tragedy, but that would be a significant miscalculation of how our system works – and a grave underestimation of how effectively a mobilized minority can control the debate and the laws. The fight is very much on, both

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nationally and in the state of Illinois right now. Fortunately, we have poll data that addresses where the public stands on a number of these issues. For the national data, we will rely on the latest national Gallup poll on gun control issues taken Dec. 19-22, 2012, and on Pew polls, the most recent done Feb. 13-18. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute recently completed a statewide poll, Jan. 27-Feb. 8, showing where the voters in Illinois stand on several of these same issues. The results show substantial majorities in favor of several gun control proposals. On a question that asked if the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, less strict or kept the same, the Gallup poll response nationally was 58 percent more strict, 6 percent less strict and 34 percent for kept the same. Illinois voters were even more in favor of some action, with 72 percent saying laws should be more strict, 2 percent less strict and 21 percent saying they should be kept the same. The proposal that seems to have gained the most traction is requiring background checks being required for all gun sales, including gun shows. In the Gallup poll, an overwhelming 92 percent favored this proposal, while 7 percent opposed it. In Illinois, 93 percent favored this measure and 6 percent opposed it. Congress is debating this measure now, but it is strongly opposed by the NRA. A ban on high-capacity ammunition clips drew the support of 62 percent nationwide and 63 percent in Illinois, while it was opposed by 35 percent nationally and 33 percent in Illinois. A proposal to ban semiautomatic “assault rifles” was favored by 56 percent and opposed by 41 percent in the Pew poll. In Illinois, our poll found 59 percent in favor and 35 percent opposed. All of these are incremental changes to current law. These proposals are entirely compatible with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Heller decision, where even Justice Antonin Scalia stressed that the Second Amendment right to own and carry a gun was not absolute, and that the state had some margin for regulation. He noted that federal law had outlawed some


Credentials & Influence

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automatic weapons, such as machine guns, for the general public since the mid-1930s. The question is how much regulation, and where. The polls included an item that asked what was more important: controlling guns or protecting the right to own guns and controlling gun ownership. In the Pew poll, 50 percent said controlling guns was more important, while 46 percent said protecting gun owners’ rights was more important. In Illinois, 60 percent said that controlling guns was more important, while 31 percent chose protecting the right to own guns. If one goes further in the direction of proposals that would take away all gun owners’ rights, or confiscate guns, a significant majority of the public is clearly opposed. For example, a hypothetical ban on possession of all handguns except for police and other authorized persons was opposed by 61 percent of the voters of Illinois while drawing 33 percent support. There is no indication in any of the national or state data that a substantial body of public opinion exists for taking away the right of private ownership of

most guns. Banning certain types of guns and ammunition? Yes. Confiscation of guns? No. Even though trumpeting this fear is the constant refrain from the NRA and its supporters, no one with any political acumen really believes that the basic right of private individuals in the United States to own guns is under any serious threat. The constant specter of such gun confiscation is extremely effective for selling more guns, and for raising money and political support for the NRA. It is not a viable option in our political system and under the court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment. It also is not even remotely practical, given the numbers of guns in private hands in this country and the political mobilization of those who are avid gun rights advocates. The Pew poll found that gun rights proponents were much more politically active than the gun control advocates. Almost a quarter of the gun rights advocates had contributed money to campaigns, compared to 5 percent from the other side; 15 percent compared to 8 percent had contacted a governmental

official; 19 percent versus 15 percent had expressed their opinion on a social media site; and 12 percent compared to 10 percent had signed a petition on gun policy. So what does this litany of polling data teach us about the way policy is made in the United States? Majority opinion often is not translated into law. Intense minorities who are mobilized and militant are far more likely to prevail. Interest groups that are well-networked and well-funded are likely to lead the charge for their interests, and they are far more effective – especially if their opponents have small organizations, are politically weak and poorly funded. That is the case today with the NRA and its opponents, which include such groups as the Brady Center with its approximately 28,000 members. Many measures favoring gun control have majority support; however, those who favor are mildly in favor, and it is not a fervent psychic commitment for them. Those opposed are vehement in their views, well-organized, lavishly funded and vigilant in looking out for their position. So don’t expect big changes soon. <

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Investigative Reporting

Impact of Mirage series still felt

35 years later

by William Recktenwald

O

n Jan. 8, 1978, the first of a 25part investigative series published by the Chicago Sun-Times about corruption in Chicago hit the newsstands. Thirty-five years have passed, but the series is still talked about – not so much as to what was reported, but how it was reported, and its impact not on the crooks that were exposed, but on reporting methods. “The Sun-Times series certainly was the most inventive (undercover project) and maybe the longest in modern times,” said Brooke Kroeger, a New York University researcher and author of “Undercover Reporting: the truth about deception,” which examines nearly two centuries of undercover reporting.

From left: William Recktenwald (Better Government Association chief investigator), Pamela Zekman and Zay N. Smith (both Sun-Times reporters) and Jeff Allen (Mirage “owner”).

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Investigative Reporting

Triggered by decades of reports and rumors of shakedowns of businesses by city inspectors, the SunTimes, in tandem with a civic group, the Better Government Association, opened a tavern named the Mirage and painstakingly documented what it encountered. Before the Mirage, on those rare occasions when city inspectors were caught in the act, officials such as the late Mayor Richard J. Daley would call them the “rotten apple in the barrel.” Daley also used a religious metaphor, reminding us “even Christ had a bad apostle” – a rare comparison of Chicago city workers to the disciples. For six months Sun-Times reporter Pam Zekman and BGA investigator William Recktenwald (this writer) shopped for a tavern to buy. Zekman and Recktenwald frequently had worked together on a variety of stories, and often they would have difficulty getting people to talk. But as they shopped for their tavern, they could

hardly get people to stop talking. In July 1977, the Mirage opened for business and operated for four months. During the probe, dozens of inspectors and city officials came to the Mirage. Not a single one – none – did the job he was being paid to do. Some took money; others demanded money; still others simply did not do their jobs but certified the Mirage met city codes when it did not. The series named names, gave times and often was accompanied by photos. Every word and every event was accurate and documented. Chicago Sun-Times Reporter Zay N. Smith wrote the stories and did a magnificent job of making the series riveting for readers. Smith so carefully detailed his stories that no reasonable person could dispute the fact that, in Chicago, corruption was endemic. It was “the city that worked if you know how to work it,” the paper reported. On the first day of the Mirage series,

the paper told its readers exactly what it had done, and exactly how it had done it. “Our ‘bar’ uncovers payoffs, tax gyps” was the headline, followed by details of the probe. Self-imposed ground rules were followed; no offers of bribes or payoffs would be made, but if asked, they would be paid. No conversations would be taped or recorded, as this would violate Illinois eavesdropping laws. The team relied on detailed notes taken after any questionable activity to supply exact conversations. Although the tavern employed half a dozen accountants who instructed them on how to cheat on taxes, one legitimate set of books was kept and all proper taxes were paid. The focus of the investigation was the actions (and inaction) of public employees, and those who violated laws – or who counseled the Mirage on how to cheat or break the law. The privacy of others would not be violated. Everyone who was named in the stories had the opportunity to respond before publication. The series was widely read and praised by readers and news professionals around the world. Many public officials also praised the series and instituted new rules in the wake of the enormous and incontrovertible information in the stories. Many thought the Mirage would be a certain Pulitzer Prize winner. Indeed, it was a nominated finalist but was not awarded the prestigious prize, reportedly because of deception used in reporting the story. “This happened (1978) at a time of erosion of public trust in the media, and perhaps denying the prize was seen as an action that could be easily taken and would reassure the public,” Kroeger said. For many in the news business and news organizations, the actions of the Pulitzer judges effectively ended “undercover” journalism. On several levels, this should be disturbing to journalists and those who depend on media to form opinions on important issues. News media should not do investigative projects to win Pulitzer Continued on next page

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Investigative Reporting Continued from previous page

prizes; they should be done because that is the right thing to do. In the words of Joseph Pulitzer, media should “always fight for progress and reform ... and never be afraid to attack wrong.” Moreover, in the past 40 years, in every survey taken of the public about trust in the media, “no one names undercover reporting,” Kroeger said. Instead, the public is unhappy with plagiarism, errors, difficulty in getting corrections and several other areas; a detailed examination of such surveys was published by the Freedom Forum and can be found at online at www.tinyurl. com/ffbestpractice/. On another level is the question of whether it really did end undercover investigations. Did it remove that weapon from the arsenal available to journalists? Would the restaurant critic now identify himself or herself? Would reporters now need to give a journalist’s version of a Miranda warning? The Mirage series on governmental corruption was significant and important. What made it interesting and effective was its presentation. It named names. There were no anonymous sources. The public believed what they read. The year after the Mirage did not receive a Pulitzer, a Page 1 story in the Washington Post by Janet Cooke stunned its readers. “Jimmy is 8 years old and a thirdgeneration heroin addict, a precocious little boy with sandy hair, velvety brown eyes and needle marks freckling the babysmooth skin of his thin brown arms.” The story went on to quote “Ray,” the dealer who pumped heroin into the child, and “Andria,” the boy’s mother, who did nothing to stop him. The story was awarded a Pulitzer, but it was short-lived. It was returned after it was determined, in the words of the Washington Post, that the “article is not factually correct and is a fabrication by the author.” Every journalist who strives day after day, story after story, to report truthfully and accurately has a right to be offended by the fabrication, particularly because

The Mirage series on governmental corruption was significant and important. What made it interesting and effective was its presentation. It named names. There were no anonymous sources. The public believed what they read. some of the same people who reportedly pronounced the Mirage as unethical allowed the “Jimmy” fabrication to be published and later be nominated for a Pulitzer. As years passed, newsroom staffs were cut – and, quite frankly, there were not many stories that would require undercover work to bring results. One that did unearthed inhumane conditions in a state prison where officials locked out reporters. This was the case at Pontiac Correctional Center in 1978. A Chicago Tribune reporter (this writer) applied as a guard; he used his own name and was hired. In two weeks behind the walls, he produced a chilling series that triggered a top-to-bottom housecleaning at the Department of Corrections. In 2006, the Washington Post earned the Pulitzer for public service for its investigation of deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington. “Two Washington Post reporters who spent more than four months visiting the outpatient ward without the knowledge or permission of Walter Reed officials” did the reporting, the Post said. The Washington Post series, along with the Mirage and hundreds of other stories that are examples of undercover reporting, are now available to the world in one location, thanks to New York University and Kroeger. The repository can be found at http://dlib.nyu.edu/undercover/. In January of this year, the SunTimes’ online edition began a daily feature linking the Mirage stories from 1978 on a daily basis. Sometimes undercover reporting is needed to obtain a clear and accurate view of what is happening or has happened, one which is not filtered through the lens of a news source.

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Today many media find it easier to depend on leaks from officials and focusing of one dimwitted subject after another, calling it investigative journalism. For example, it recently was discovered that the woman who sang the national anthem at the inauguration of the president had actually “lipsynced” her own voice. Is that really an investigation? Is it really worthy of airtime or newspaper inches? Kroeger is persuasive when she says that undercover reporting is valuable for its power to reveal truths and affect reform. “Just look at the results,” she said. It should be used only when other sources have been exhausted, and it should be a last resort, not the first. And it should only be used for unquestioned important issues involving lives, public safety and human dignity. In 1996, the Society of Professional Journalists adopted its current code of ethics, which states that journalists should “avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story.” The Mirage met these standards, as has every other undercover project that this writer has been a part of. Before the 1996 code a shorter code was in place: “ACCURACY AND OBJECTIVITY: Good faith with the public is the foundation of all worthy journalism. Truth is our ultimate goal.” < The New York University Library collection of stories can be found online at http://dlib.nyu.edu/undercover/. The Mirage Series can be found online at www. themiragetavern.blogspot.com The Pontiac Prison Series can be found online at www.tinyurl.com/1978prisonriot/.


Investigative Reporting

The mirage of ever-increasing legal protection for investigative reporting by Mark Sableman When the Chicago Sun-Times went public with the investigation it conducted at the aptly named Mirage Tavern, it seemed like investigative reporting was ascendant. Journalists foresaw a future of more trained investigative reporters conducting more investigations, in more cities, using new and creative investigative techniques. Was that vision itself a mirage? From the hindsight of 35 years, considering especially the social and legal overlay within which journalists must operate, the answer is a qualified “yes.” Continued on next page

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Investigative Reporting Continued from previous page

Legal developments and rulings, a new media business universe and a climate of opinion influenced by public skepticism of intrusive newsgathering techniques have discouraged, chilled or impeded many aspects of that expected aggressive future for investigations. The late 1970s represented the peak of post-Watergate enthusiasm for investigative reporting – and, to some extent, the height of constitutional protections for news reporting. It also represented one of the last periods of that glorious media business environment when a relatively small number of prosperous media outlets (one or two newspapers and three or four broadcasters in each city, and three national television networks) dominated the news landscape. Things changed as time progressed. Consider the legal environment. Under the Warren Court and its freespeech leader, William J. Brennan Jr., media First Amendment rights had been expanded in New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964 (constitutional protection from libel) and Time Inc. v. Hill in 1969 (constitutional protection extended to privacy law). Media lawyers eagerly pushed to further expand constitutional rights for reporting. But the Supreme Court went the other way. Justice Brennan moved his First Amendment eloquence to dissenting opinions – for example, in Branzburg v. Hayes in 1969, when the court rejected a constitutional reporter’s privilege. The court’s new leader became William Rehnquist, whose First Amendment view could be described as “New York Times versus Sullivan is all you get (and you only get that because it is established precedent).” Two Illinois cases in the years following the Mirage report showed the media that it faced legal vulnerabilities. In Alton, Illinois,

Put bluntly, and oversimplifying only a bit, journalists have not convinced the public that the benefits of their investigations outweigh the intrusiveness of their techniques.

an aggressive plaintiff ’s lawyer won a $9.2 million libel verdict against a newspaper in 1979. And in 1986, Chicago’s WBBM-TV found itself on the losing side – a $2.05 million verdict that especially stung because the winner was a tobacco company. Investigative reporters did push boundaries, but courts and public opinion pushed back. ABC’s “20/20” newsmagazine show, begun around the time of the Mirage story, sparked a barrage of lawsuits, and its lead reporter Geraldo Rivera attracted sharp criticism from other journalists as well. ABC’s investigation of the Food Lion supermarket chain in 1992 won industry acclaim, but it also sparked public skepticism toward reporters getting employed by the target company, secretly taking photos and videos on the job, and ultimately betraying their new employer. Two California court decisions in the 1990s raised privacy barriers to intrusive reporting. In the Shulman case, a dramatic Group W program that broadcast a helicopter medical rescue was held to have intruded into the victim’s privacy. And in the Sanders case a few years later, the California Supreme Court rejected the old on-off test for privacy rights (you either have a reasonable expectation of privacy or you don’t) and recognized gradations of expectations and violations – a test that makes undercover reporting very difficult. Media “ride-alongs” were popular in the 1990s. Reporters would ride with police and follow them into homes on raids, cameras rolling. But when St. Louis station KSDK was challenged as an arm of the police, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the station

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acted improperly – but let it off only because it wasn’t clear from existing law that such actions were wrong. A few years later, the Supreme Court clarified that law and concurred that reporters who went on police raids could be treated as partners to police. Ride-alongs were over. Why have these rulings gone against journalists? We could blame conservative judges. But public opinion often underlies judicial attitudes, and the overall climate of opinion inevitably influences decisions on the margins. Put bluntly, and oversimplifying only a bit, journalists have not convinced the public that the benefits of their investigations outweigh the intrusiveness of their techniques. Of course, some legal developments have been good for investigative reporting. The recent decision limiting the Illinois eavesdropping law is a great victory. Victories in access to government information have helped nurture computer-assisted reporting. And clearly the new media business environment – intense competition, less advertising revenue and shorter audience attention spans – has hurt investigative reporting as much (or more) as the legal developments. But law and public opinion are clearly part of the story for why Mirage marked a high point, not just a milestone, in the development of investigative reporting. If we can switch from desert to ocean metaphors, and borrow from a wordsmith of another era, there is a tide in the affairs of journalists, and the successors of the triumphant investigative reporters of Watergate and Mirage were unable to ride that tide at the flood. <


Investigative Reporting

Drone journalism hovers on edge of news gathering by Terry Ganey COLUMBIA, Mo. – In addition to learning about Associated Press style and the use of the inverted pyramid, future journalists may have to master the radio controls of remotely operated drones. Journalism schools at the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska have launched groundbreaking classes in which students have experimented with using small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to collect video that can be used in multimedia news presentations. The courses have attracted a lot of attention since GJR first wrote about them in earlier this year. The “NBC Nightly News” featured the MU School of Journalism’s class on a national broadcast in March. They’ve also generated controversy, as about 30 legislatures across the country are considering bills that would outlaw the use of drones in surveillance that could include journalism. Agricultural interests and organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union are among those opposing drone deployment, citing concerns about privacy and private property. For now, the news collection operations are strictly experimental. MU students have practiced using small camera-equipped, battery-powered helicopters to collect images of migrating birds near the Missouri River west of Columbia. For much of this semester they had hoped for the right weather and wind conditions to capture aerial scenes of a Missouri Department of Conservation prairie burn. Professor Bill Allen, a former environmental reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, teaches the drone journalism course. “This course introduces students to investigative reporting on environmental, agricultural and natural resource subjects using new technologies,” Allen’s syllabus says. “Our vision is to help lead the journalism profession legally, ethically, responsibly and innovatively into a new frontier of public service news coverage using this new technology.”

The idea for the course came from Scott Pham, the content director at KBIA radio, the university-owned station in Columbia. Pham, who is collaborating in delivering the course, obtained a $25,000 grant to pay for the drones’ construction. About the size of a basketball, the drones get their lift from four propellers that are controlled by a hand-held radio transmitter. Equipped with iPhone or GoPro cameras, the drones can remain airborne for about 17 minutes. Students call them “J-bots.” Drones provide safer and cheaper ways of collecting overhead visuals from remote, dangerous areas. Breaking news, such as floods and other natural disasters, are the types of stories that could be covered. Drones reportedly have been used to collect scenes of two separate news events in Italy, including the Costa Concordia shipwreck. “I think there’s a lot of good explanatory journalism that can be enhanced with images collected by drones that people wouldn’t otherwise be able to see,” said Gwen Girsdansky, a graduate student who is one of seven graduates and undergraduates taking Allen’s class. But also apparent is a drone’s potential value as an investigative tool. For example, a drone could document pollution at large animal agricultural operations or animal abuse at puppy mills. Perhaps that’s why possible drone

use has generated so much opposition in the agricultural community. In the Missouri House, State Rep. Casey Guernsey, a Republican from Bethany, is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit a drone’s use over private property unless the owner consents. “If we are moving into an age of news agencies using drones to collect information on private citizens, I’m definitely concerned about that,” said Guernsey, who is the chairman of the House Agribusiness Committee. When the committee heard Guernsey’s bill, organizations such as the ACLU, the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation and the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, testified in favor of it. The bill reads: “No person, entity, or state agency shall use a drone or other unmanned aircraft to conduct surveillance of any individuals, property owned by an individual, farm or agricultural industry without the consent of that individual, property owner, farm or agricultural industry.” Before the committee approved the bill, it adopted an amendment that exempts “a Missouri-based higher education institution conducting educational research or training programs within the scope of its mission ... ” So while the amendment would appear to allow for journalists in training to practice with drones, it would prohibit professional journalists from using them. <

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Investigative Reporting

More states considering ‘ag-gag’, farm protection bills by Sam Robinson The push by the agriculture industry to restrict free speech and access to information is increasing, with at least seven more states considering farm protection laws (also known as “ag-gag” laws). The seven states are Arkansas, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. Five states already have laws that limit reporting on agriculture: Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Iowa and Utah. Two states have modified versions of the laws. California provides protection for state university research facilities. Missouri’s law is geared more toward animal-rights activists, but it still limits access to facilities and regulates the use of images from farms. Since the 1990s, the agriculture industry has used various pieces of state-level legislation such as “farm protection” and “agriculture disparagement” laws to limit media. Media and public organizations have continually challenged this strategy and question the constitutionality of these laws. The latest development in the clash involves legislation governing the use of drones for news gathering. “Very little could be more important to the public good than understanding where our food is coming from and how it’s being processed” said Ken Paulson, president and chief executive officer of the First Amendment Center. “Efforts to limit scrutiny places agriculture industry interests ahead of the public interest. Being able to report on perceived injustices or threats to public safety is at the heart of the First Amendment.” Farm protection or “ag-gag” laws are crafted to limit access to agriculture facilities. They specifically restrict the use of audio and video recording of working agriculture operations. Agriculture disparagement or “veggie libel” laws are designed to limit what media and individuals can

say about agriculture products and production practices. To date, 13 states have agriculture disparagement laws. Farm protection laws The Farm Animal and Field Crop and Research Facilities Protection Act was passed into law in Kansas in 1990, making it the first farm protection bill in the United States. Through this legislation, the agribusiness industry was able to make it a felony (if found guilty) of gaining unauthorized access to a crop, livestock or agricultural research facility. The impetus for this legislation is linked to the increase in the number of hog production “megafarms.” During the 1980s, the pork industry started constructing large hog farms in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. These farms were capable of producing 300,000 hogs per year, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The benefits to the hog industry made these megafarms an attractive prospect. In a time of waning pork prices, these operations offered to lower input costs while increasing product output. However, issues related to waste water runoff, air quality and land value made these megafarms undesirable to many of the communities in these states. In addition, animal-rights groups were very concerned with the treatment of animals in these large facilities. Construction of those facilities often was met with protests, and vandalism and destruction of property was not uncommon. Some operations even had hogs taken from the site by protesters and people who entered the facility after hours. In response to the theft of product and damage to property, the hog industry began to lobby state legislatures to pass laws that would limit access to the megafarms. The industry cited the financial loss incurred by loss of product or vandalism, as well as the potential risk to the animals (and humans) when

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unauthorized access occurred. Organizations and members of the media challenged the industry’s claims. These groups believed the proposed laws were designed to protect the pork industry and its veil on unethical production practices. The New York Times wrote about the protests against corporate hog farms in a 1997 article titled “Rural Opposition to Hog Farms Grows.” Despite these protests, the Kansas legislature moved forward with passing the legislation. The next year, North Dakota and Montana state legislatures followed suit and adopted versions of farm protection laws. It would be 20 years before the next farm protection bill would pass into law. “There is indeed a legitimate interest in stopping fraud, trespassing and interference with operations of any business, but we already have laws to handle these situations,” said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “The purpose of the new proposals seems to be to make these activities a felony if the point is to expose questionable practices to the public, and this type of criminalization of information should not be tolerated.” The Iowa legislature passed H.F. 589 in early 2012 and launched a new era of farm protection legislation. Utah state lawmakers passed a similar bill after Iowa. The Iowa and Utah laws make violations a Publisher’s note: An earlier version of this article originally appeared on the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting website investigatemidwest.org. It was part of a package on legislation proposed by agriculture lobbyists across the United States that could limit media’s access to the industry. In the time since the article was published, the bills in New Mexico, New Hampshire and Wyoming failed to pass in their state legislatures, and legislation has since been introduced and is being discussed in Tennessee. Pamela Dempsey, Midwest Center executive director, contributed to this article.


Investigative Reporting misdemeanor crime, not a felony like previous laws. Also, unlike the versions from the 1990s, the new set of bills hinged on the buzz word “biosecurity” and specifically addressed the issues of undercover access to information and facilities and investigative reporting. “Biosecurity” is a post-9/11 buzzword used to address many issues in the food production system. The term originally was designed to protect the food supply from the threat of a foreign terrorist attack, but it now encompasses domestic issues as well. Agribusiness officials say that security measures are needed at animal and food production operations for many reasons. One is to prevent a person from intentionally (or unintentionally) contaminating plants or animals with a foreign substance. Many threats to food safety, such as Salmonella strains, can be carried into a facility on clothing, hair and shoes. Another reason to restrict access to facilities is to prevent human injury. Producers say that agriculture operations are dangerous places for people who are not properly trained to be there. “The U.S. Constitution says that you cannot enter a person’s private property without formal knowledge,” said Joe Seng, a veterinarian and Iowa state senator who co-sponsored that state’s legislation, during a 2012 “Marketplace” interview. “Even a policeman has to obtain a search warrant to get on a piece of property. These are private properties owned by either farmers or corporations that have strict biosecurity facilities that do not want either birds, mice, vermin, anything like that, even cockroaches entering into these facilities — people included.” Baron said the statutes still have to meet “constitutional norms” for freedom of speech. But then there are the laws that criminalize entrance to farms, ranches or other similar operations with what the law defines as “the wrong motives,” she said. “And so reporters are more vulnerable when in the newsgathering process than when they are in the news reporting process,” Baron said. “The most dangerous (laws) are those who

INVESTIGATEMIDWEST.ORG try to limit your access even more so than those who try to limit what you say.” It’s an issue that affects everyone, she said, because “when journalists are allowed to report on the problems of the industry, the industry gets better.” In addition to biosecurity, new farm protection laws restrict and criminalize unauthorized audio and video recording at agriculture production sites. The laws also criminalize gaining access to a facility under false pretenses, such as applying for a job with the intent to write an undercover news article. The practice of taking jobs at operations to gain information has been used by professional journalists and activist groups. The industry says this approach is unethical, and that editing of audio and video files can make any situation look worse than it might really be. Activists and journalists see these laws as a direct infringement on First Amendment rights, as well as the agriculture industry’s attempt to limit public knowledge of unscrupulous business practices. Animal-rights activists are particularly concerned as to what the lack of transparency means for meat and poultry production operations. Mark Bittman of the New York Times, who first used the term “ag-gag” in a 2011 article, wrote: “Videotaping at factory farms wouldn’t be necessary if the industry were properly regulated. But it isn’t. And the public knows this …” Agriculture disparagement laws Louisiana was the first state to adopt an agriculture and aquaculture disparagement law. It did so in 1991, when the state legislators were pressured by cantaloupe growers to push back media attention related an E. coli outbreak that had been traced to the fruit.

The law established that media or individuals who disseminate information that creates a financial loss for an agriculture or aquaculture product, or a business, can be held responsible and required to pay restitution equal to (and sometimes greater than) the loss. Since Louisiana passed its version of the law in 1991, 12 more states have added agriculture disparagement laws to the books: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. Each version has nuances based on the leading agriculture and aquaculture industries in that state. Colorado is the only state in which a defendant also can face felony charges, along with a civil claim. Idaho is the only state that limits plaintiffs to seek recovery of only pecuniary damages. North Dakota currently is the only state to have both agriculture disparagement and farm protection laws in place. “Very little could be more important to the public good than understanding where our food is coming from and how it’s being processed,” said Ken Paulson, president and chief executive officer of the First Amendment Center. “Efforts to limit scrutiny places agriculture industry interests ahead of the public interest,” he wrote in an email. North Dakota also is a state in which the truthfulness of that statement does not protect a defendant. Under the North Dakota law, a defendant still can be held financially culpable if a statement is made (even a true one) with the intent to negatively affect the market for the agriculture product. From the passage of the first piece of legislation, media professionals and First Amendment scholars have questioned the constitutionality of such laws. Continued on page 42

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Industry News

St. Louis television station covers papal election by Michael D. Murray Among 5,000 members of the international press corps attending the recent selection of an Argentine archbishop as pope in Vatican City was one who knew another viable pope candidate very well. Award-winning KSDK videographer Jim “Tux” Tuxbury was in Rome along with colleague Channel 5 lead anchor Mike Bush. This is the second time Tux had been sent to Rome because a prominent Midwest native was in the news: first to be named a cardinal, and more recently to participate in the selection of pope. On both occasions, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who grew up in Ballwin, Mo., acknowledged Tuxbury personally and asked him on camera, “Hey, Jim, how’s your mom and dad doing?” That’s because Tux once served as altar boy for Dolan when he was parish priest in the St. Louis suburbs. If you ask the veteran photographer of 23 years (and recipient of four Emmy awards) about interesting assignments, he lists Super Bowls, World Series and a trip to the White House with Stan Musial when “The Man” received the Medal of Freedom from President Obama. He also has met poet Maya Angelou and instructed celebrated musician Yo-Yo Ma on how to enter the White House. Over the years, while photographing key stories, he has had conversations with U.S. presidents, including Jimmy Carter, and with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He once had lunch with former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev in Fulton, Mo., when it was discovered that Tuxbury was the only person in the press pool able to translate Russian, a subject he studied when he was a student at St. Louis University High. Tuxbury has also had some very tragic and challenging events to cover, such as photographing the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. But he likes to emphasize the many opportunities his position has provided, with his visits to Rome at the top of the list. And while he says international assignments can be fun and exciting, he admits there is a certain

Provided Photo Veteran KSDK videographer Jim “Tux” Tuxbury and anchor Mike Bush in Vatican City. amount of stress associated with such a commitment. The team from Channel 5 in St. Louis left March 9 and arrived in Rome the next day. Tuxbury and Bush traveled together with a brief layover in Atlanta before flying on to Rome. The Gannett Co. sent a seven-person team to Rome: three photographers, three reporter-anchors and one producer. This represented a significant investment, and Tuxbury noted that their instructions were to “win the story.” (He expressed some confidence that they were able to accomplish that goal.) At the local news level, Tuxbury called Gannett’s commitment to this particular story the best he saw in Rome from the standpoint of a station or news group, since there were news crews on this story from almost every nation on the planet. The Gannett team also was instructed to provide coverage of the event to all platforms throughout the company – television, newspaper and digital – and the St. Louis team felt it was successful in accomplishing that goal.

Page 30 • Gateway Journalism Review • Spring 2013

The most interesting part of this trip came on the last night, after the new Pope was selected. After Dolan’s press conference at the Pontifical North American College, Tuxbury stayed to interview a few St. Louis priests. As he was wrapping up, he got a call from Dolan’s brother, Pat, telling him to look for a man in a blue suit with a blue checkered tie. He said that he was told that this man, also named Jim, would escort him to the “red” room at the college. The red room is basically a sitting room for cardinals when they stay at the college. Sure enough, Jim showed up – and as if in a spy novel, Tuxbury said: “Blue suit, blue checkered tie?” He responded, “Come with me.” Two minutes later, he was in the red room with several leaders of the college, including a couple of cardinals, just after they had elected the new pope. He was not allowed to bring his camera, but he called the experience “surreal,” adding that he was not sure how he could top that for an unusual experience. <


Industry News

Media notes — St. Louis area compiled by Benjamin Israel MEDIA MOVES Chris Hrabe joined KMOX as the host of the Sports Hub show weeknights from 9 p.m. to midnight. When the Cardinals and Blues play, he will host their postgame shows. Hrabe comes to KMOX from WHBQ AM in Memphis. Kent Sterling left WXOS-FM 101 ESPN for personal reasons. Chris “Hoss” Neupert replaced him as program director. Neupert, who joined the St. Louis sports/talk radio station in 2009, previously served as the assistant program director, then executive producer and director of St. Louis Rams radio operations before that for 101ESPN. Houston’s Classic Rock Station KKRW hired J.C. Corcoran as its new morning show host. Corcoran now also appears on Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Houston’s talk stations KTRH and KPRC. Corcoran spent the last 29 years in St. Louis as a radio personality at KSHE, KSD, KIHT and KMOX. While in St. Louis, Corcoran also served as an entertainment editor and commentator at NBC, CBS and Fox television stations, as well as a columnist at St. Louis Sports Magazine. Chris Stanford joined St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV as evening weekend anchor. Stanford came from WCCO in Minneapolis, where he was the morning anchor since August 2011. He previously worked at WQOW in Eau Claire, Wis. Lauren Trager left her job as weekend anchor for Little Rock, Ark., NBC affiliate KARK to join the St. Louis CBS affiliate as a general-assignment reporter. Post-Dispatch departures: Award-winning Post-Dispatch sports writer Vahe Gregorian is leaving to become a columnist at the Kansas City Star. Cindy Billhartz, his wife, also is leaving to become the Star’s “House to Home” editor. Evan Benn, food critic and beer columnist, is moving to the Miami Herald. R.J. Matson, the last of a line of illustrious Post-Dispatch cartoonists, is moving with his family to Falmouth, Maine. Jaimie Riley, former letters editor, has moved to the Washington Post. ADVERTISING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS Erin Gitau has been promoted to account executive at Geile/Leon Marketing Communications in St. Louis. She is responsible for the day-to-day running of agency clients, including GreenLight Innovations, Enterprise Truck, Enterprise Fleet Management and XIOLINK. Lucas Pierson joined Geile/Leon as a content copywriter at marketing communications in St. Louis. He is responsible for developing the voice and messaging for all aspects of the agency’s online presence, including website copy, white papers,

blog posts, social media messaging and campaign development. Travis Randolph joined Geile/Leon as a copywriter. He previously was a copywriter at TRG Group. The St. Louis Blues hired Kuhl/Swaine of St. Louis as its official advertising agent of record. Preston Gibson joined Coolfire Media as an editor/motion graphics artist. Gibson recently earned his master of fine arts degree in motion media design from the Savannah College of Art & Design. AWARDS The Illinois College Press Association awarded nine awards to the Alestle, SIU Edwardsville’s student newspaper, at its annual college media conference in Chicago Feb. 22-23. Sports editor Roger Starkey took third place in features; managing editor John Layton earned third place and honorable mention in the sports news story; online editor Michelle Beard claimed second place for an ad of less than a full page, award in advertising; former Alestle reporter Victoria Mizel took third place for a critical review other than film; David Pruitt received an honorable mention for a sports feature; and online editor Joseph Scoggins shared an honorable mention in the advertising/in-house promotion category with Beard. The staff won third-place awards in editorial writing and for its annual special supplement “Back to School Survival Guide.” Tammy Merrett-Murry is the faculty adviser. SIU Carbondale’s Daily Egyptian won 17 awards at the ICPA competition, including eight first-place awards. The first-place awards were: Tara Kulash and Sarah Schneider, news; Pat Sutphin, general news photo; Isaac Smith, feature photo; Lynette Oostmeyer, spot news and sports photos; Lauren Leone, editorial writing; the staff for advertising campaigns; and Annmarie Nichols, classified section. Two Missouri School of Journalism students from the St. Louis area have been chosen as 2013 Dow Jones News Fund summer interns. Tony Puricelli, a print and digital news junior, will be working at the Kansas City Star as a copy editor. Matthew Patane, a print and digital news senior, will be working at the Denver Post as a business reporter. Puricelli is a Walter Williams Scholarship recipient from St. Louis.

Creative Services and Industry Suppliers – Digital” category. Atomic Dust won three Gold ADDY Awards: for the “Self Promotion, Non-Traditional” category for its “Atomic Dust Intern Recruitment” video, for the St. Louis Children’s annual report and its St. Louis Design Week. Rodgers Townsend’s Nawgan “One Brainy Beverage” campaign received nine Gold ADDYs across a spectrum of categories, including vehicle graphic advertising, social media, branded content and radio. The Nawgan campaign also won a special judges citation for campaign copywriting. TOKY won for Baileys’ Fifth Wheel, Logo, Caravus, Logo, St. Louis Design Week, App, St. Louis Public Library Foundation, Gala Invitation, Invitation and TOKY PROOF, Volume 01, Newsletter. The St. Louis Ad Club reports that Rodgers Townsend was ranked in the top 100 advertising agencies, design firms and institutions globally for best interactive design. St. Louisan Bob Costas has won the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting from WFUV, the radio station of Fordham University in New York. The Emmyaward-winning NBC Sports broadcaster has worked 10 Olympic Games, hosted six Super Bowl, hosts “Football Night in America,” and contributes to “Nightly News,” “Rock Center” and the “Today Show.” He also appears on HBO and the MLB Network Two St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters are among 134 journalists honored for excellence in business journalism by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in its 18th annual “Best in Business” competition, in the dailies 100,000 to 200,000 division. David Nicklaus, a veteran columnist for the Post, was honored for business commentary. Jim Doyle who covers the business of health care, was recognized in the explanatory journalism category for “The Care Quandary,” an examination of difficult end-of-life medical decisions, published in June. St. Louis Post-Dispatch photojournalist Chris Lee was the photojournalism sweepstakes award winner in the 2012 Missouri APME newswriting and photojournalism contest. Lee won for his photo, “The playoff pitch.”

3— Scan me

Hughes Leahy Karlovic Agency won “Best In Show” at the ADDY Awards Feb. 28.

for a complete

Switch: Liberate Your Brand received a Gold ADDY Award Feb. 28 for its 2012 “Ugly Holiday Sweater Tees” charity effort. Switch received its award in the “Advertising Industry, Self-Promotion,

notes.

list of media

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 31


Industry News

Alternative newspaper bought, shut down by printing company by Chad Painter

T

he Jan. 7 press release was short and to the point: “Alternative weekly publication The Other Paper will cease publication at the end of the month, the Dispatch Printing Company announced today. The last issue is set for distribution on Jan. 31.” People reacted to the news with anger but not a lot of surprise, according to Richard Ades, who worked at The Other Paper, a weekly alternative newspaper in Columbus, Ohio, for all of its 22 years – first as a theater critic, then as the arts editor from 2008 to 2013. “Most people who knew who we were and were familiar with the Dispatch were surprised that they kept us around that long,” he said. The Dispatch Printing Co., which owns the largedaily Columbus Dispatch, purchased The Other Paper – along with city magazine Columbus Monthly, newsweekly chain Suburban News Publications and a host of smaller publications – in September 2011 from American Community Newspapers. Continued on next page

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Industry News

Image courtesy of thehot17.com

Continued from previous page

“Some people thought it was the Dispatch getting back at us,” Ades said. “I think it was probably more of a business decision.” The business decision was based on eliminating competition, according to journalism professor Kelly Messinger, the chair of the English Department at Columbus’ Capital University. “I can understand from a business standpoint why they would do that, but that doesn’t mean that I like it,” she said. “I can understand their concern for wanting to control this market tightly, but I don’t like the ethics of that. It’s disturbing.” Ohio daily newspapers did not cover the closing of The Other Paper. An archive search of four nonColumbus dailies – the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cincinnati Enquirer, Dayton Daily News and Toledo Blade – returned zero articles. Smaller Columbus publications such as 614 Magazine and Outlook provided editorial space for former The Other Paper staffers to voice their opinions. The relative silence was deafening. “Here in Columbus, nobody wrote a piece of objective analysis on what was The Other Paper,” said Danny Russell, the paper’s editor from 1990 to 2008. “That’s the story The Other Paper would have done on something like this closing. The death of this paper and the way it was covered, they

didn’t devote any journalists to analysis. There’s nobody left to cover when a media voice vanishes.” The Dispatch Printing Co. now owns the city daily Columbus Dispatch, the city magazine Columbus Monthly, the monthly business magazine Columbus C.E.O., the arts and entertainment weekly Columbus Alive, WBNS-TV (a CBS affiliate), talk-radio station WBNSAM/FM, 97.1 The Fan (the ESPN radio affiliate) and ThisWeek, a chain of suburban newsweeklies. (Suburban News Publications was dismantled not long after being purchased by the Dispatch.) In addition, Dispatch Printing Co. owns more than a dozen specialty magazines, including Columbus Bride, Columbus Parent, Columbus Crave, CityGuide and the Columbus Visitors Guide. “What’s troubling is there isn’t any real variety of voices here,” Messinger said. “There are no underground or indie voices. There’s a vacuum with the loss of The Other Paper.” The Other Paper was created because of a similar media vacuum. Columbus became a one-paper town in the mid-1980s when the daily Columbus Citizen-Journal folded. “The Citizen-Journal was really a spunky paper that enjoyed being contrarian,” Russell said. “It left a void when it closed.” Max Brown and Herb Cook Jr. filled that void by creating The Other

Paper. (They sold the paper and other publications to American Community Newspapers in 2007.) There already was an alternative newsweekly, Columbus Alive, but Brown felt that it had never really nailed down the market. So, The Other Paper was born in October 1990. However, Russell said that they didn’t try to create just another alternative newsweekly. “We used the phrase metro weekly,” he said. “We didn’t want to be like other alternative papers. We didn’t want you to feel that it was for hippies only. We really wanted to cover our city.” The Other Paper was the only news outlet that would give people other perspectives once the Dispatch became the only daily in town, Ades said. “We could point out when the Dispatch was doing something that wasn’t consistent or wasn’t right,” he said. For example, the Dispatch ran an editorial in 2010 that it was always against the war in Iraq, which The Other Paper pointed out wasn’t really true. Readers benefit from such competition, Russell said. “They see another way of looking at things and read stories that one paper might not choose to cover, or cover in a way that’s different than another paper would,” he said. Efforts to contact the Columbus Dispatch for comments were not successful.<

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 33


Industry News

United Minority Media Association launches member drive by Sam Robinson The United Minority Media Association, which is based in the Kansas City metropolitan area, has started its annual membership drive. UMMA works in a 27-state region to promote media literacy with multicultural populations, and to encourage minority students to enter media fields. M.C. Richardson, who founded the nonprofit group in 1974, said UMMA works with state broadcast associations, professionals and educators across the region to visit high school and college campuses to meet with students. “We want to get students interested in the industry and we use people already working in the area to mentor the students,” Richardson said. The UMMA was formed because Richardson and his associates saw a need to help multicultural people become aware of media content and to become more involved in the field. “We have our various components with the organization (UMMA media network),” Richardson said. “We have talk show hosts and producers in a variety of cities. We have some print journalists. All help build the network.” Richardson, himself a talk show host, can be heard weekly on Kansas City’s KKFI, 90.1 FM. He is the host

of a Saturday show called “Guess Who is Coming to Kansas City.” The show interviews elected officials, community members and media professionals. A new project for UMMA is establishing a scholarship program. “We are now establishing a UMMA Minority Broadcast Academy to get people ready to make the transition from high school and college and industry,” Richardson said. “We have 10 college students at universities across the country including Webster, Columbia in Chicago, Louisiana, Wake Forest and Howard University.” The goal is to have members in major cities to recruit members, and to assist and refer students for internship and job vacancies. UMMA also has a minority journalist program for newspapers and print media students. The organization pays for students’ textbooks. UMMA also conducts job fairs and refers people to job vacancies. Richardson said UMMA also works to educate community groups on how to best use media, how to use media for news and press releases, and how to get coverage for an event. “We publish a mini-newspaper and distribute it electronically. We send it to our advisers and supporters, and they

send it forward to others,” Richardson said. UMMA has a seven-member board in addition to Richardson. “They always say we don’t have enough (minorities in media) based on statistics,” Richardson said. “But when you get right down to it, the entire industry has taken a hit. We are gaining. I try to get more minority people into ownership. “We are the senior minority media advocacy group in the nation. There have been other groups since, some with funding, one in Washington, D.C., but most of our members are volunteers. We have the passion. We work hard at this.” Yearly membership levels are: corporate, $500; associate, $200; student, $25; regular-general, $50; and educational, $75. “We seek people from all over,” Richardson said. “Everyone has an ego, and in the media industry sometimes those egos run high, but we all work together. I want to inspire the people.” For more information visit the website http://www.umma.net or send an email to ummaseventyfour@yahoo.com, or call (816) 822-1313. <

“They always say we don’t have enough (minorities in media) based on statistics. But when you get right down to it, the entire industry has taken a hit. We are gaining. I try to get more minority people into ownership.” ­— M.C. Richardson

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Crime Reporting

Photo courtesy of CBS News Ryan Ferguson is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence for second degree murder. His accuser recanted what he earlier claimed, now saying Ferguson’s conviction was based on a lie.

CBS’ ongoing coverage of Columbia Tribune sports editor murder by Michael D. Murray Looking for a long-term commitment in covering a complicated local crime story? As the skeptics say, “Good luck with that!” So it’s well worth noting that both Columbia, Mo., daily newspapers have weighed-in recently on the long-term, multiple-part commitment by CBS’ “48 Hours” in covering the 2001 murder case of Columbia Tribune sports editor and popular University of Missouri Journalism School alum Kent Heitholt. The CBS attention highlights the story of two teenagers convicted in this murder case: one a drug abuser who confessed to the crime two-and-a halfyears after the fact, the other consistently denying any involvement but nonetheless named as accomplice, convicted without any physical evidence to tie him to the crime. Heitholt was slain in the early

morning on Nov. 1, 2001. The two young men, high school students at that time – Ryan Ferguson and Charles Erickson – were together that evening. They were implicated in the Heitholt’s death when Erickson told police investigators years later that he had a feeling that he and Ferguson had killed Heitholt when they tried to rob him. Erickson based his confession on recurring memories of an attack on the victim with what he described as a tire iron. Erickson identified Ferguson as being with him at the scene. Erickson pleaded guilty to the murder and received a sentence of 25 years. Ferguson consistently denied any involvement whatsoever but was convicted in 2005. He is serving a 40-year prison sentence for second-degree murder and firstdegree robbery. Erickson recently recanted what he earlier claimed took place that night. From a reporting point of view, sustained attention by two national

television networks makes the case unique. Both CBS and NBC have broadcast reports about it. NBC aired “Under a Killing Moon” as part of “Dateline” on Dec. 1. More noteworthy, has been continuous reporting by seasoned “48 Hours” correspondent and attorney Erin Moriarty. Writing for VOX Magazine in the Columbia Missourian on May 12, 2011, Megan Thomas Davis touted the determination of Moriarty to continue reporting this case – one Moriarty began following in 2005. Moriarty devoted two hourlong segments, recently providing an update, titled “The Accuser,” on Feb. 23. Ferguson maintained his innocence throughout trial and on appeal. His father appeared in all “48 Hours” episodes, as did his son, crediting the correspondent, and quoted in a Columbia Missourian Continued on next page

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 35


Crime Reporting

Photo courtesy of CBS News Erin Moriarty of “48 Hours” with Ryan Ferguson. Moriarty, an attorney, is committed to reporting the extended story of Ferguson’s conviction. Continued from previous page

story, saying Moriarty is “professional, experienced and knows what she’s talking about.” In an email exchange with this author, Moriarty explained how Erickson recanted his earlier confession based on what the prosecution called “repressed memories” of having killed the editor along with Ferguson. Asked whether, when the case began, Moriarty had any thoughts that it might demand long-term continuing coverage, she said that she did not – at least not when it first started. But she added that when she saw police videos of Erickson’s interrogation, she believed Ferguson would be acquitted. “With no physical evidence connecting either defendant, I thought there was an incredible amount of reasonable doubt,” Moriarty said. “It was after I spoke with the jury that I knew there was more to this case.” Some jurors told her that they had given identification of Ferguson by former Tribune janitor Jerry Trump great weight. Important, because soon after “48 Hours” aired its first report, Moriarty learned that Trump may have lied on the stand. She thought police reports, which contained erroneous information, “may have misled the prosecution’s star witness, Charles Erickson,” adding: “This case seemed to require a follow up.” She clarified how one witness who helped to create an early sketch of the

men “did not identify either Charles Erickson or Ferguson.” She added, “I believe the case may have derailed before it went to trial.” The “48 Hours” episode airing recently covered Ferguson’s effort to overturn the 40-year murder conviction and an evidentiary hearing in which Ferguson requested a new trial in light of Erickson’s recanted testimony. Erickson testified more recently that he had blacked out that night because of heavy drug and alcohol use and did not recall very much, in spite of his earlier testimony implicating Ferguson. Moriarty is not surprised by CBS’ willingness to let her follow the case, crediting her boss, “48 Hours” executive producer Susan Zirinsky. “When I am able to make a case for a continued look at a particular issue or case, I get an immense amount of support,” Moriarty said. She also has been given latitude in covering other cases, including for 18 years that of four young girls brutally slain in Austin. “That is why I have stayed with the network for 27 years,” Moriarty said. While such cases are rare, she pointed out that she also covered the “West Memphis 3” case for many years, through the release of defendants. In terms of perspective on the nature of offering continuing updates for this story, Moriarty concedes that “this case is highly unusual. I have never

Page 36 • Gateway Journalism Review • Spring 2013

encountered a young man like Charles Erickson, although I am aware of many individuals, often with drug and alcohol issues, who have claimed responsibility for a crime.” On the “48 Hours” website, Moriarty alludes to the advantages of continuing coverage but admits it can take a toll on a seasoned reporter: “I feel extremely lucky to get to do this kind of legal reporting. Any hardship on me is nothing compared to the lawyers who handle the cases, and the defendants (and their families) fighting for new trials.” But she also admitted,“I do lose sleep.” Moriarty is reluctant to second-guess how things progressed in this case, saying it would be unfair to criticize in hindsight. “I think the investigation went astray during Erickson’s initial police interview,” she said. “The Columbia police did the right thing by bringing him in. But the detectives should have known more about the specifics of the crime and asked open-ended questions. They could have investigated the case and Erickson’s background before they filed charges. What was the rush?” She indicated there should have been some degree of wariness when the only evidence was Erickson’s story. “People claim responsibility all the time for crimes they didn’t commit,” Moriarty said. “And Erickson has a history of blackouts and serious drug use.” Asked if there was anything unusual about the media coverage, she said “I wish that there was more local coverage of cases that really looked at the evidence, and not just the sensational aspects. I have been accused of having a ‘defense bent.’ I dispute that, but the truth is, prior to the trial, all defendants are entitled to the presumption of innocence, no reporter should just accept the word of a prosecutor as fact.” In her update, Moriarty clarified how the evidentiary hearing was not the first time Erickson changed his story about the night of the murder, and how various inconsistencies hurt Ferguson’s case once it was appealed. In the final analysis, the circuit judge in the case, Daniel Green, decided to deny a new trial. In terms of the cases’ status, Ferguson has filed another appeal, so stay tuned. <


Crime Reporting

Chicago murder coverage isn’t stopping the bullets by John McCarron CHICAGO — Back in the early ’70s, as a cub working off the overnight city desk at the Chicago Tribune, you learned fast that all murders were not equal. Sure, all were listed methodically on the deputy superintendent’s logbook at the old police headquarters at 11th and State streets. But while killings on the city’s predominantly white North Side were almost always pursued by our small band of nocturnal newsmen, the more numerous homicides in the black neighborhoods of the South and West Sides most often were ignored. There was even a winking code word for the latter category. They were “blue.” Blue, as in “cheap domestic,” where a drunken live-in boyfriend kills his common-law mate. Blue, as in someone shot in the face after a street-corner dice game gone awry. Judging by how the other four daily newspapers (yes, four!) covered and displayed their homicides, it’s safe to assume the same double standard applied. This practice was, of course, racially and morally indefensible. And by the end of that decade – a decade of enormous change in newsroom cultures across the country—a more race-neutral standard applied. Oh, sure, a juicy society murder on the city’s Gold Coast still got top billing. But space was made for everyone in those ubiquitous Monday roundups of weekend mayhem, especially if the victim was a sympathetic innocent. The reasoning behind this sea change was, and still is, altogether sound. All lives have value, and only by recording the circumstances of each tragedy do we begin to understand the patterns of neglect that underlay the violence … and potential ways the killing might be stopped. Fast forward to 2013 and, I would argue, a very different set of ethical questions now confronting editors. Last year there were 506 homicides in Chicago, more than the number of U.S. servicemembers killed in Afghanistan. This past January’s toll of 43 does not bode well for 2013. Most of the murdered were under age 24, shot with handguns, nearly within a handful of black or Hispanic neighborhoods. Fully a third of the victims were determined by police to be not the intended target of the shooter. They were simply in the wrong place – a car, a front porch, a gathering of friends – at the wrong time and unluckily close to the intended target. A pattern has developed in which Chicago media focus on these innocent victims, on their grief-stricken families, on friends building curbside memorials, on their wakes and on their funeral. Continued on next page

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 37


Crime Reporting Continued from previous page

In January the full front-page, topof-the-newscast treatment was given, day-after-day, to the slaying of 15-yearold Hadiya Pendleton, an innocent who the week before was a majorette in President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade. In March it was baby Jonylah Watkins, a 6-month-old shot in the front seat of a parked minivan while in the lap of her father, an alleged gangbanger with a lengthy police rap sheet. News columnists and editorial writers daily pile on their outrage, and almost daily stories with headlines such as “Bloodbath in Chicago” circle the globe via the Huffington Post, New York Times, BBC and others. All of which begs – or should beg – the question of whether this approach to covering lethal urban violence is doing any good … or even doing more harm than good. No responsible journalist seeks a return to the days of spiking “blue” murders from the wrong side of town. But consider the following: • Blanket coverage of lethal violence in minority neighborhoods is not balanced by an equal number of prominently played stories of good things achieved in those neighborhoods by the many good people who live there. • Negative perceptions about violence and personal safety are a major driver of the “white flight,” racial resegregation and neighborhood decay that have plagued U.S. metropolitan areas over the past half-century. Chicago has fared better than most but still has lost a quarter of its population since 1960 as middle-class families of all races continue to move out, albeit for many reasons. • Despite all the ink and airtime devoted to the killings, next to nothing has been accomplished – nationally or locally – in the way of more effective gun control, police tactics or provision of social services capable of solving the problem. Then again, veteran Chicago editors and journalists who have struggled with these issues argue it’s not the amount of coverage that’s the problem … but the type.

Reporting about all the memorial candles and teddy bears, that doesn’t change anything.

Jack Fuller, a former editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune who has written extensively on newsroom ethics, complains too much coverage focuses on weeping and wailing and not enough on root causes and criminal logistics. Instead of bombarding the public with “isn’t that awful” stories, Fuller argues, “we need to go deeper into what’s behind it – the social pathologies, the illegal purchase of guns. Maybe it means our war on drugs has got to end. Take profit out of the system.” Frank Main, a Pulitzer-winning police reporter for the Chicago SunTimes, agrees there ought to be less hand-wringing and more exposure of what’s behind the shooting. “The problem is that those stories can be boring,” Main admits. “Anytime the words ‘program’ or ‘social services’; or ‘community involvement’ are anywhere near the top of the story, many readers flip to the sports section. “The challenge is to ratchet down the coverage of murder victims’ memorials and funerals, and spend more time in neighborhoods, police stations, courts and universities to give context to all this tragedy.” Laura Washington, a veteran observer of Chicago’s racial dynamic and an op-ed contributor to the SunTimes, also complains about maudlin stories focusing on grieving relatives and open caskets. “We should spend more time, space and bytes talking to experts, community leaders and residents about why these murders are occurring, and what can be done to stop them,” she says. “Our reporting is too often one-dimensional and simplistic. The problems are multilayered and complex.” That sentiment is echoed by William Recktenwald, a journalism instructor at Southern Illinois University and former top investigative reporter

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at the Tribune. In 1993, he and a team of reporters chronicled in detail every shooting death of a Chicago-area child below the age of 15 in a yearlong series called “Killing Our Children.” People forget, Recktenwald says, that 20 years ago, when crack cocaine and automatic pistols first appeared on the streets, there were even more killings – a record 932 just during 1992. So is this progress? His police sources tell Recktenwald the numbers would be just as bad now but for advances in trauma medicine. But the fact that several gunshot victims survive for every one killed points to another reason people ought to care, no matter where they live. Gunshot wounds and deaths cost Americans at least $12 billion a year in court proceedings, insurance costs and hospitalizations paid for by government health programs, according to one recent study. Then there’s the cost of incarcerating a single young murderer – well over $50,000 a year, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. “That’s the kind of thing people need to understand.” Recktenwald says. “Reporting about all the memorial candles and teddy bears, that doesn’t change anything.” As for damage to Chicago’s civic reputation, thoughtful journalists such as Recktenwald, Main, Washington and Fuller seem less concerned. “I’m still a believer in basic newspapering,” Fuller says. “When something happens, you report it. You cover the hell out of it … that’s how we begin to change the reality.” Maybe so. But with so little progress achieved and so little in sight, one wonders if the old “publish and be damned” spirit still serves our troubled cities and the people who live in them. Good riddance to “blue” homicides. But our journalism still needs a better approach. <


Crime Reporting

Different take on Pendleton coverage by John Jarvis Before the nation heard of Hadiya Pendleton, the grim realities of Chicago’s gun violence had been largely overlooked by American media outlets. Not anymore. The 15-year-old’s tragic shooting death in Chicago Jan. 29 highlighted the impact gangs and gun violence have had on the nation’s third-largest city. News coverage revealed that Pendleton, a high school honors student and majorette, had performed with her school’s band in the parade at President Obama’s inauguration just a week earlier. With that angle, the story immediately gained prominence over other similar incidents involving innocent teens being caught in gang members’ crosshairs. The subsequent news coverage of one mainstream daily newspaper and an ethnic weekly in the Windy City framed the event differently. The differences were subtle but distinct. The Chicago Tribune had 10 stories listed on its website from Jan. 30 through Feb. 21 that dealt with the events surrounding Pendleton’s death, with multiple writers’ bylines appearing on the articles. The historically AfricanAmerican weekly newspaper the Chicago Defender, which was founded in 1905, had a half-dozen staff-written reports (the majority by managing editor Rhonda Gillespie, with others by Kalia Abiade) combined with more articles from the Associated Press that covered the story as it developed. The Defender’s staff and wire coverage mixture makes sense in the context of recent staff cuts. “State of the News Media 2013,” an annual report on journalism in the United States recently released by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, said the Defender had cut its staff to four, laying off two editors “because of reduced advertising.” The difference between the two publications was in how information was presented to their respective

audiences. For the Tribune, that meant including a national angle to its stories, while the Defender’s coverage focused much more on its surrounding community. When news first broke about Pendleton’s death, the Tribune surveyed the developing story with an eye on the national furor over her senseless death. A story posted Jan. 31 on the Tribune’s website and written by Jennifer Delgado, Bridget Doyle and Jeremy Gorner noted that outrage over the King College Prep sophomore’s death was spreading “from City Hall

to the White House.” The report, headlined “Teen girl’s killing ignites widespread outrage: ‘Why did it have to be her’,” contained quotes from President Obama and his spokesman, Jay Carney, as well as from Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy and the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel. All of these officials are instantly recognizable by Chicago residents, and all but McCarthy are well-known to citizens across the country. Continued on next page

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 39


Crime Reporting Continued from previous page

The story noted that McCarthy “stressed that neither Hadiya nor anyone in the group she was with were involved with gangs. But it appears the gunman mistook the students for members of a rival gang.” The Defender’s Feb. 6-12 weekly edition, meanwhile, used its cover page to feature photographs of five black Chicago youths who had been killed in similar fashion, with Pendleton’s photo prominent in the center of the page. The focus for the Defender was the impact that each of these youths’ deaths – and the gun- and gang-related violence that accompanied them – has had on the African-American community within Chicago. The cover was a lead-in to an editorial on page 10 that carried the headline “Gang members have no turf.” The editorial took issue with some people who said that Pendleton was in the wrong place at the wrong time, noting that she was “in a city park decompressing after a day of final exams at school. It’s what the park is for, recreation and temporary retreat.” The same issue also contained a story, written by staff writer Rhonda Gillespie, headlined “Teen’s death a call for action.” In it, Gillespie wrote of other mothers who have lost children to gang violence, and noted that Pendleton’s death “locally reignited many calls that law enforcement, faith and community leaders, and other victims’ families have been making for gun violence to stop and for Obama to come to Chicago and speak out on the issue.” Another story by Gillespie, posted online Feb. 9, noted that “a who’s who of Chicago notables attended the (visitation) service, the first in a two-day final farewell to the teen.

Among the attendees were City Treasurer Stephanie Neely and Rev. Jesse Jackson.” Both Neely and Jackson are prominent members of the city’s African-American community. Over the course of the next few weeks, both newspapers continued to follow developments in the story, including a $40,000 reward on information on who had done the shooting followed by the arrest of two suspects in Pendleton’s shooting death. In a Feb. 12 story posted online under the headline “2 charged with murder in Hadiya Pendleton slaying,” the Tribune’s Jason Meisner and Gorner reported that “two reputed gang members were out for revenge from a previous shooting when they opened fire on a group of students in a South Side park last month, killing 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton in a heartbreaking case that has brought national attention to Chicago’s rampant gun violence, police said.” The Defender and the Tribune next reported on the news of first lady Michelle Obama attending Pendleton’s funeral. The Defender’s Gillespie quoted Pendleton’s father, Nathaniel Pendleton, in a Feb. 7 story as saying: “I feel supported. When (Michelle Obama) gets finished with being the first lady, she’s still a parent.” Both publications also noted that the slain teen’s parents were the guests of the president and first lady in Washington during President Obama’s State of the Union speech, in which he said: “Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.” On March 7, a story written by

Tribune reporter Kim Geiger and posted on the paper’s website carried the headline “Gun trafficking bill carrying Hadiya Pendleton’s name clears Senate panel.” The story noted that the bill was “co-sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk of Illinois,” and that it “contains a section named for Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard, a teenage victim of gun violence in New York.” (Pryear-Yard was a 17-year-old Catholic honors student who was shot and killed in January while dancing at a Brooklyn teen club.) The Defender’s coverage on March 8, meanwhile, focused instead on U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, a Democrat from Illinois’ 1st Congressional District, and his introduction of “the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 to limit straw purchases or firearms and reduce illegal trafficking of firearms across state lines.” Rush, who is African-American, gained national notoriety in 2012 when he wore a gray hoodie and sunglasses on the House floor as he gave a speech urging a full investigation into the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. “Hadiya’s death will not be in vain,” the Defender story quoted Rush as saying Feb. 9 outside the church where her funeral took place. In an interview conducted by the Tribune’s Dahleen Glanton, with Pendleton’s parents, Cleopatra CowleyPendleton said that “my life has been forever changed of what someone else did. I’m not going to be extremely political, but if I can help someone else not go through what we’ve gone through, then I have to do what I can. These are the cards we have been dealt. If these are the shoes I need to walk in, I don’t mind walking in them.” <

The difference between the two publications was in how information was presented to their respective audiences. For the Tribune, that meant including a national angle to its stories, while the Defender’s coverage focused much more on its surrounding community.

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Crime Reporting

Let the Sunshine (Law) in by Roy Malone Missouri’s Sunshine Law, which requires public bodies to disclose their records, has been unable to put much light on the 2006 scandal in which 15 officers and supervisors of the St. Louis police department used or gave away Cardinals World Series tickets seized from scalpers. It’s been more than six years since the St. Louis Police Board first refused to make public the department’s internal investigation of the misconduct. Why? The board’s stance is that disclosure of the investigation’s results would violate the privacy rights of the lawmen. But John Chasnoff is not about to quit on his effort to make the police department abide by the Sunshine Law. His name is on the suit filed by the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Chasnoff, a former house painter who has been active in trying to get citizen review of the police department, said he filed the suit because he suspected “higher-ups were involved” in the scandal. “Police officers are given enormous powers,” he said. “It’s the right of citizens to know that the officers are acting properly.” He now works for the American Civil Liberties Union. In various rulings, Chasnoff got disclosure of the original complaint and learned the identities of eight officers who were each demoted for one year. He said the Police Board was fined $500 for violating the Sunshine Law. But he didn’t get the names of three other officers, three sergeants and a lieutenant. And he has not gotten the investigative report. Circuit Judge Philip Heagney ruled in Chasnoff ’s favor in April 2010, saying that the Police Board must turn over the file. The Board did not appeal that ruling. But a group of officers involved in the case, called interveners, stepped forward. They were prevented from appealing

Heagney’s order as they came into the case too late. The officers then filed their own suit before another circuit judge, Bryan Hettenbach, arguing that if the Police Board disclosed the file it would violate their privacy rights. Earlier this year, Hettenbach approved the agreement between the individual officers and the Police Board, thus creating two conflicting rulings. Chasnoff said the board and the interveners were using the same strategy: to keep the investigative file closed. “This was essentially collusion,” he said. “They managed to delay implementation of the law.” Heagney, who had issued a stay order on his ruling, held another hearing in March, but it was apparent the two cases would both have to go to appellate court to sort out the claims. “I think everyone would be wellserved if we could get guidance from the higher court as to what the Sunshine Law does and does not mean,” Heagney said. No news media organizations have joined the suits. Another Sunshine Law case involved a police officer in Kirkwood, Mo., who sued to have the police department disclose the results of an internal investigation about him. A citizen had made a complaint about Officer Stephen Guyer. Twice he was refused on his request to see the report. He filed suit to force disclosure but had to appeal all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court to win the suit in 2001. The high court said since the complaint alleged criminal activity, the investigation report must be disclosed. Guyer is now a lieutenant with the Kirkwood department. Why do some law enforcement agencies resist legitimate requests for information under the Sunshine Law? Clarence Harmon should know. He was an insider before he became chief of police in St. Louis and then mayor. He had once been in charge of the Internal Affairs Division, investigating

complaints, in the St. Louis Department. He thinks the St. Louis Police Board should have disclosed the results of the investigation into who did what with the scalped baseball tickets. “Coppers don’t like to be secondguessed,” Harmon said. He doesn’t buy the argument that the refusal is to protect the officers’ privacy. Police officers have the authority to “take your rights or your life,” he said, adding: “My firm belief is that the public has the right to know when there’s been misconduct.” Often the first response of law officials is “don’t say anything,” Harmon said. He added that the rank and file feels threatened and the higher-ups, even police board members, can be co-opted. “The job of a policeman is a tough one,” he said. “A lot of time you agree with the actions of the officer” and find the complaints unsubstantiated. When he was head of the IAD, Harmon helped organize a database that monitored officers who had shot people, got into fights and verbally abused citizens. Some officers were retrained, counseled or otherwise disciplined. Their supervisors also were held accountable. When he was Police Board secretary, Harmon went to the family of a grandmother who had been killed when a bullet came through her wall. It was fired by an officer next door who was practicing his gun handling. “The initial response was to not disclose the details” of the shooting, Harmon said, but he went to the family to apologize for the mistake. “The family knew it was a mistake,” and there was no public outcry, he said. As police in many cities are being criticized for their aggressive behavior, citizen review boards are being pushed and have even been voted into existence in cities such as San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Harmon thinks a civilian review board, as proposed by the new St. Louis police chief, Sam Dotson, might work. “It has to be tried,” he said. <

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 41


USDA continued from page 7

This report is public record, easily obtainable by media and citizens. So why have Midwest media outlets not picked up this report and generated local stories about the issue? When it comes to federal agriculture programs, discrimination and bigotry are not limited to USDA. The U.S. Senate and House committees on agriculture also show signs of this underlying “us against them” sentiment. Committee members from Midwest states, (many white, many male, many Republican), introduce bills and lead policy development that favors large agribusiness and not small operations such as those owned by minority producers. Furthermore, when farm bill funding is discussed, many of these lawmakers hone in on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rather than on programs that funnel money to large corporations and landowners. SNAP, commonly known as the food-stamp program, receives the lion’s share of the farm bill appropriations. The 2008 farm bill allocated $76 billion out of $92 billion annual spending to SNAP. Ag Gag continued from page 29

Most often cited is the “chilling effect” these types of laws will have on a free and open discussion of agriculture practices. Until recently, the most prominent case involving an agriculture disparagement claim was that of the 1996 Texas Beef Group v. Oprah Winfrey. The group of Texas cattlemen said it had suffered losses into the millions of dollars as a result of an Oprah television episode in which she spoke with food safety experts about the growing concern of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), commonly known as “mad cow disease.” The group sought to recoup damages from Winfrey. The case was dismissed after months of back-andforth discussions between the cattlemen’s group and Winfrey’s legal team.

The initiative also serves the largest slice of the U.S. population for a farm bill program: 15 percent of the U.S. population receives SNAP benefits, compared to the less than 2 percent eligible for direct payments or subsidies. Midwest media are more than willing to give space and time to politicians calling for SNAP reform, which includes mandatory drug testing, reduction in services and a cap on benefits. Most of the comments falsely imply that SNAP beneficiaries are all urban minorities who “do nothing.” What is not often – if ever – present in media coverage are facts, such as: • The average monthly SNAP benefit is $133.42 per participant, based on data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. A family cannot have an income higher than 130 percent of the poverty level to qualify for SNAP. However, to qualify for direct (DP) or counter-cycle payments (CCP) from USDA, a producer can make up to $250,000 average annual farm income. Furthermore, “The 2008 Farm Act sets the payment limit for DPs at $40,000 per person or legal entity and for CCPs at $65,000,” according to USDA. • Almost all of the $76 billion in SNAP benefits goes back into the economy. Unlike DP or CCP programs

that go to businesses and landowners to accumulate wealth, these funds are spent for daily living. The benefit recipients get the food they need to survive. Local retailers and distributors get income from the sale of product. Producers get to sell their products. • SNAP is a safety net for agriculture producers. If the SNAP program were dissolved, a substantial market for U.S. agriculture products would dissolve with it. • The “farm bill” label promotes a bucolic notion of the agriculture industry and protects the big business behind it. It also establishes that “nonfarmers” (i.e., urban and minority populations) do not belong in policy discussions. In reality, it should be called the “food bill,” which would open up how the legislation is perceived and who is “allowed” to participate in the discussion. Journalists should be the watchdogs of government and business, and they should inform the public of gross mismanagement and unfair treatment of citizens. Journalists need to address issues of racism in the Midwest head-on. Covering issues of discrimination in USDA programs is just one of the ways this could – and should – happen. <

However, the case was not rejected because of a review of the law’s constitutionality, but rather because the judge determined the cattlemen’s product was not perishable, which was requirement under the Texas guidelines. Last September, Beef Products Inc., a South Dakota-based ground beef distributor, filed a $1.2 billion defamation suit against ABC News under that state’s agriculture disparagement law. The claim centers on ABC News’ coverage in March 2012 of BPI’s lean finely textured beef product (LFTB). ABC News and other media outlets had taken to calling LFTB “pink slime.” The media coverage highlighted the BPI practice of using low levels of ammonium hydroxide gas to prevent the growth of E. coli in ground beef. Public outcry followed the media attention, specifically the contract

between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and BPI to use ground beef containing LFTB in the school lunch programs. Several large supermarket chains canceled contracts with BPI as a result of the public uproar. In the following months, BPI closed three of its four plants and more than 750 BPI employees lost jobs because of these closures. BPI claims that ABC News disseminated false and misleading information about its product, which resulted in substantial financial loss. This qualifies as grounds for a lawsuit under the South Dakota law. ABC News holds the position that its reporting was fair and that there are no grounds for a defamation suit. The case is pending. BPI is trying to get it moved back to state court and out of federal jurisdiction. <

Page 42 • Gateway Journalism Review • Spring 2013


‘Shocking the Conscience’

offers penetrating perspective of civil rights movement by Michael D. Murray In a few short years, most of the reporters who witnessed the civil rights movement first-hand will be gone. For that reason alone, this account from the front lines of almost every major civil rights event for more than 50 years, told by the Washington bureau chief of Jet, offers a unique and penetrating perspective into what took place. Often called the “Dean of the Black Press,” Simeon Booker recently was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame. He provides a telling account of how he vowed after covering a voting rights rally in the Mississippi Delta that abductions and murders no longer would be ignored beyond the black press. Just to prove it, he quickly investigated the brutal mutilation death of a 14-year-old black boy named Emmett Till. Booker then provided continuing coverage of what became one of the nation’s most infamous murder trials. Booker’s key vehicle, Jet, became a national chronicle of news about the civil rights movement and, as was often said at the time, “If it wasn’t in Jet, it didn’t happen.” The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. first appeared on its cover, and the reporter who followed him along the big story he begat includes detailed accounts of protesters on the ground, raw hatred and state-condoned terrorism in some quarters, and the views of national leaders – including presidents in the Oval Office who show up with Booker in many photos and historic front pages – laced throughout this book. As is true with many such firsthand accounts produced to date, it is highly illuminating, but not always pleasant reading. The book consists of 22 chapters and offers a true insider’s

Shocking the Conscience: A reporter’s account of the Civil Rights movement Author: Simeon Booker Publisher: Jackon: University Press of Mississippi, 2013 Paperback: $30, 352 pages look, beginning with indignities accompanying covering segregation within the context of those times, while trying to get important stories to the public. Booker’s reporting background, including stints at both black- and white-owned newspapers, including the Washington Post, gave him no clue of the horrors he might encounter venturing into the far South – particularly the established culture of the Mississippi Delta, sometimes referred to as “the most southern place on Earth.” On the opening page of the book, Booker offers the prayer of early black national reporters departing to cover that particular region: “ ‘Lord, please stay with me.’ And the Lord answered, ‘I’ll stay with you, but only as far as Memphis!’ ” (page 3). Included in the book are insights from his reporting about black soldiers and sailors who performed heroic military service abroad, only to have their civil rights trampled once they returned to the United States. The efforts of Medgar Evers are told, along with the work of leadership councils, citizen’s councils and the NAACP, reported along with attention to progressive political leaders who fought injustice under the threat of extreme violence. As much as anything, this book conveys a strong sense of gruesome repression and bigotry of that era, and the kinds of feedback

reporters received for venturing into scary territory. The book’s title, “Shocking the Conscience,” offers a vivid, appropriate description of the contents. One chapter, titled “The Rally Ends; the Killings Begin,” offers the full flavor of brutality, answering efforts to explore First Amendment rights with a front page from the Southern Mediator Journal headline: “Preacher’s Mouth Shot Off, Tongue Shot Into, Allegedly, by White Men.” (page 20). No one ever could accuse Booker and his wife, Carol McCabe Booker, who provided assistance in putting this book together, of sugarcoating this story. As a former journalist and an attorney, Booker’s wife no doubt also provided some of the more interesting legal details affecting change once the system of law kicked in. It also should be noted that a great deal of this book is devoted to Booker’s family history and his personal story; he was born in Baltimore and raised in an environment of high expectations, in spite of public policies detrimental to his ever getting ahead. Overall, this author has to be credited for the incredible amount of important detail retained and reported, particularly as they apply to efforts to alter bad behavior and the many harsh, ingrained practices that aided the brutality of this period. <

Spring 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 43


Reinventing American film criticism by Walter Metz Shortly after starting my first academic job as an assistant professor of film studies at Montana State University, the editor of the Bozeman arts monthly, the Tributary, asked me to write a weekly column of film criticism. As I learned to edit my bloated 5,000-word academic essays into terse 750-word reviews, I became increasingly convinced that the gulf between popular and academic film criticism had been vastly misunderstood. Journalists purportedly write short reviews of films to tell people whether or not they should spend their hard-earned money on a new film. For their part, academics believe that they need thousands of words to develop methods for theorizing about the cinema. I have spent the last 15 years attempting to demonstrate that neither of these outcomes is inevitable because of real or imagined institutional boundaries. Instead, we should demand that our criticism find a middle ground – one that forces journalists to say something interesting about the cinema and its relationship to the world, yet also presses academic approaches to be less filled with jargon and obfuscation. When I write a review of a film for a website (http://filmjunkies.de) or for radio (http://news.wsiu.org/programs/ siu-reviews), I am producing the same critical interventions as I am in my refereed books and journal articles, removing the footnotes and translating the theoretical methods into more readable prose. To explicate this point, I will explore a case study of a film by a very popular Hollywood filmmaker, Christopher Nolan. In “The Prestige” (2006), a magician seeks out the mystery of a rival’s teleportation trick

at visionary scientist Nikola Tesla’s laboratory. The scientist (David Bowie) demonstrates his electrical device, which is intended to make objects disappear. As Angier the magician (Hugh Jackman) leaves the grounds, thinking the machine a failure because it has no effect on the top hats Tesla uses as samples, he stumbles upon a huge pile of such hats out in the woods, indicating that the machine in fact creates clones of the original objects. In short, the device mechanically reproduces matter. The film thus exemplifies the central obsession of one of the most important acts of criticism of the 20th century, Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936). In that essay, Benjamin equivocates as to the meaning of “modernity,” arguing that traditional artworks lose their aura when they can be so easily reproduced not by human hands, but instead by machines such as photographic and cinematic cameras. Benjamin studies the late 19th century, the moment when the era of the stage magician gave way to the filmmaker. Like Benjamin, Nolan’s film equivocates about the implications of this development. On the one hand, the loss of traditional magic at the hands of ever increasingly scientific gadgetry on the stage leads to horrific death and destruction. The resultant magic trick, “The New Transported Man” requires a clone to be slain each time the act is performed. On the other hand, “The Prestige” is an exquisite example of technological wizardry, using all of the techniques of 21st century filmmaking (lighting, sound reproduction, and the like) to tell its story. Benjamin celebrated the democratization of mechanically reproduced art in the guise of Charlie

Chaplin comedies while, at the same time, expressing his outrage at Nazi Germany’s use of mass art to aestheticize politics. For Benjamin, the Nuremberg rallies, wherein masses of people were reduced to geometric arrays, relate directly to the cinema’s construction of passive spectators overwhelmed by easily reproducible images. “The Prestige” provides a startling opportunity to pose again Benjamin’s questions: Does mechanically reproduced art render us more human because it is democratically available to all, or does it strip away our humanity in denying us access to the unique accomplishments of the artisan’s hands? “The Prestige” is caught in the crosshairs of Benjamin’s essay, a populist film that laments the death of magic, and yet a masterful achievement of mechanical reproduction, a film whose aura-less top hats would have fascinated the German critic. Our 21st century American civilization, baffled by the contradiction between the benefits and horrors of technological modernity, is in desperate need of both popular art such as “The Prestige” and the thoughtful criticism that Benjamin provided Weimar Germany, writing for a popular newspaper, Frankfurter Zeitung. If one reads today’s popular journalistic reviews of Nolan’s film, there is no trace of such engagement. We are in need of a re-invented film criticism, imbued with historical and theoretical ideas, housed in comprehensible and direct writing. It’s time we start training journalists to write with greater theoretical and critical rigor, and academics to write with comprehensibility as a central goal. If we accomplish both tasks, it will become clear that they are one and the same. <

As I learned to edit my bloated 5,000-word academic essays into terse 750-word reviews, I became increasingly convinced that the gulf between popular and academic film criticism had been vastly misunderstood. Page 44 • Gateway Journalism Review • Spring 2013


GJR Contributors 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 PostDispatch 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, for St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Associated Press and Columbia Daily Tribune. Benjamin Israel is a freelance writer living in St. Louis. Forty years ago he was news director of KDNA-FM in St. Louis. His work has appeared in more than a dozen Missouri publications. He formerly covered St. Louis courts for Bloomberg News. 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. Charles Klotzer is the founder 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.

Walter Metz is the chair of the Department of Cinema and Photography at SIU Carbondale. He is the author of three books: “Engaging Film Criticism: Film History and Contemporary American Cinema” (2004), “Bewitched” (2007) and “Gilligan’s Island” (2012). He is working on a new book about Dr. Seuss and Pixar Animation Studios. Michael D. Murray 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. Chad Painter is an assistant professor of communication at Eastern New Mexico University. His research focuses on the areas of alternative press, mass media ethics, history, new media and diversity studies. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Painter was an editor and reporter at The Other Paper. Roy Malone is a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the former editor of St. Louis Journalism Review. Mark Sableman is a lawyer with Thompson Coburn LLP in St. Louis. He is a member of Gateway Journalism Review’s board of advisers. Tom Grier is a professor of mass communication at Winona (Minn.) State University.

William Recktenwald is a senior lecturer at the SIU Carbondale School of Journalism. He joined the faculty in 1999 after he retired from the Chicago Tribune, where he was a reporter and deputy Chicago bureau chief. Before working at the Tribune, he was the chief investigator for the Better Government Association, a civic group that works in tandem with the news media to expose waste and corruption in government. Eric P. Robinson teaches media law and ethics at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and Baruch College, both in New York. 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 doctorate degree at SIU Carbondale. In the fall, she will join the faculty at California State University Monterey Bay as an assistant professor of journalism and digital media. John S. Jackson is a political science professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale.


Reinventing American film criticism by Walter Metz â&#x20AC;˘ Page 44


Gateway Journalism Review Spring 2013