St. Louis Journalism Review Presents:
Who’s Listening? Should journalists seek special protection? by Mark Sableman pg. 15 Reporter’s advocacy journalism meets deafening silence by William Freivogel pg. 18
Children and Media
n ethics retrospective on Newtown media A coverage by Eileen Byrnes pg. 9
The tragic end of Paul Y. Anderson by Terry Ganey pg. 20
Will this happen to me? by Dafna Lemish pg. 10
Book and Movie Reviews beginning page 28
Summer 2013 • Volume 43 Number 331 • $8
Dudman turns 95:
A reflection on a great American reporter by William H. Freivogel Richard Dudman, the former chief Washington correspondent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, turned 95 on May 3. I don’t believe in heroes, but Richard Dudman is my hero. So many reporters and editors get tired, burned out or cynical. Not Dudman. He never has lost his love for a big story or his intrepid pursuit of the truth in the face of danger. Dudman always kept his suitcase packed so that he could make it to the airport before editors back home had second thoughts about the cost of an international trip. Dudman was captured in Cambodia in 1970 during the Vietnam War and spent 40 days in captivity. Later, in 1978, he was shot at during a visit to Pol Pot and narrowly escaped with his life. It was vintage Dudman to decide in 1970 to get away from his military handlers and find out what was really going on in the Vietnam War by driving off with two colleagues in the general direction of Phnom Penh. And, after guerrilla fighters surrounded the three, it was vintage Dudman to remark to his colleagues, “If we get out alive, we’re going to have one hell of a good story.” They did. He wrote a book – “Forty Days with the Enemy.” I remember my young children’s big eyes when Dudman, years later, came to dinner and told them about how he ate dog while a prisoner in Cambodia. Like many people in public life, Dudman is partly remembered for the enemies he made. They weren’t all in Southeast Asia. Two of the most prominent were President Richard Nixon and the St. Louis GlobeDemocrat. Nixon put Dudman on the “Enemies List,” an honor he richly deserved for his Vietnam coverage and for his efforts in getting his hands on the Pentagon Papers. And then there
the conservative Globe’s front-page editorial – “For America or For Hanoi” – essentially calling him a traitor. Dudman pointed out that patriots question the official line. And friends knew, if they visited him and his wife, Helen, in Maine, that he had a flagpole in his front yard and a sailboat named Freedom. Dudman once recalled how he got the job in Washington. He said he “impressed city editor Raymond Crowley as being adventuresome and resourceful by driving him to work in the midst of a snowstorm in a warsurplus Jeep and working his way into a St. Louis Work House riot and dictating an eyewitness account.” That led to assignments covering wars and revolutions in Guatemala, Argentina, the Middle East, Ireland, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Algeria Laos, China and Vietnam, as well as a posting at the Washington Bureau starting in 1954. He went on to cover Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and the Watergate scandal. His motto: “Reporter who sits on hot story gets ass burned.” Dudman recalled in an email telephoning his friend I.F. Izzy Stone, the liberal muckraker, to try to get the Post-Dispatch a copy of the Pentagon
Papers. The call led to instructions to send a reporter to Cambridge, Mass., near Harvard University, and to wait for a call at a phone booth. Dudman sent Tom Ottenad, the paper’s political reporter. Ottenad got the call and instructions to go to another phone booth and then to a porch, where copies of some of the documents were contained under a stack of newspapers. Ottenad rushed to St. Louis to put together a story. When the WikiLeaks stories broke decades later, some journalists and lawyers were quick to say that the WikiLeaks were entirely different from the Pentagon Papers. Not Dudman He told me, “I welcome the publication of the WikiLeaks papers as a breath of fresh air that tells us a lot more about foreign relations and foreign affairs than do the official statements, with their caution, concealment and frequent hypocrisy.” Even as Dudman took on establishment Washington, he was part of it. In his trademark bow tie, Dudman was a fixture at the Gridiron Club, where Washington’s media elite parties with Washington’s power elite. Dudman’s wife, Helen, is Dick’s protector, his intellectual equal and a noted journalist in her own right first as executive women’s editor of the Washington Post and later owner of public radio stations in Maine. She wasn’t particularly a fan of the Gridiron Club, but tells a funny story about having invited J. Edgar Hoover to be her guest at a Washington dinner. Hoover showed up and was delightful. After “retiring,” Dudman wrote more than a thousand editorials for the Bangor Daily News. He retired from that position last Independence Day. These days, when the surveys show that the job of newspaper reporter ranks dead last – after maid, garbage man and lumberjack – people might find the antidote in the elixir that Richard Dudman brings to the joyful pursuit of adventure and the truth. n
12 • R edefining a ‘free’ press: Watching the watchdogs by Walter Jaehnig 15 • Should journalists seek special protection? by Mark Sableman 16 • D roning on: Unmanned aerial vehicles raise privacy concerns by John Jarvis 18 • R eporter ’s advocacy journalism meets deafening silence by William H. Freivogel
Reviews 28 • R ed Smith: “ Tomorrow will be better ” by Andrew Smith 29 • O pening the Pentagon Papers by Scott Lambert 30 • B ook traces ASNE’s efforts to advance newsroom diversity by Michael D. Murray 31 • ‘ We Steal Secrets’ shows history repeating itself by Tripp Frohlichstein
32 • M edia’s sharp words leave deep cuts in society by Sharon Wittke
20 • T he tragic end of Paul Y. Anderson by Terry Ganey
33 • I s he what Ailes the media? by Chris Burnett
25 • T he Jefferson Bank — St. Louis’ Selma by Roy Malone
34 • ‘ Cronkite’s War ’ — and that’s the way it is by Paul Van Slambrouck
26 • F acing up to a 50-year anniversary — and the fallout by Michael D. Murray
36 • M cChesney critique mired in Marxist ideology by Jack Young
Summer 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 1
Columns & Opinions
Editor’s Note The staff and contributors at Gateway Journalism Review strive to deliver timely, accurate and thoughtprovoking content to readers.
3 • G ood journalism keeps people from being cheated by William Babcock 4 • I mpartiality and context missing in “scandal” coverage by William H. Freivogel
We do this through our weekly eNewsletter and our quarterly print publication. We welcome your comments on both.
5 • D irection of our culture is at stake by Charles L. Klotzer 6 • A g-gag legislation aims to muzzle journalistic efforts by Steve Hallock
To send a letter to the editor, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name, city and state.
9 • A n ethics retrospective on Newtown media coverage by Eileen Byrnes 10 • W ill this happen to me? by Dafna Lemish
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
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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
Page 2 • Gateway Journalism Review • Summer 2013
Good journalism keeps people from being cheated
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The mass media are in flux. Anyone reading Gateway Journalism Review already knows that. But changes are not occurring just in newspapers and in journalismrelated fields and industries. There also are effects – ripple or otherwise – in journalism reviews and other media ethics accountability tools, as well as in journalism education. Newspaper owners across the United States are toying with bottom lines by cutting staff and early retirements, launching and enhancing their collective online presence, and experimenting with alternative delivery schedules. Pennsylvania’s Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Alabama’s Huntsville Times, Mobile Press-Register and Birmingham News, New York’s Post-Standard in Syracuse – all have made repeated headlines in recent months as they have tried to stay afloat in seas of red ink. In New Orleans, the well-respected Times-Picayune announced last year it would focus more on its digital product and publish only three days a week. That’s now changed, according to editor Jim Amoss. “The Times-Picayune street edition – we’re calling it TP Street for short,” began publishing in June and will be available at 1,500 locations throughout the New Orleans metro area. It will not be home delivered. “After we reduced our print frequency last fall (to Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, plus an early edition on Saturdays), readers let us know how much they missed a printed Times-
Picayune on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays,”Amoss said, adding that TP Street is designed to fill that void – and to do so in a sustainable way. Too, subscribers have access to an e-edition of all seven days of the Times-Picayune. TP Street contains breaking local, national and world news, the latest sports and entertainment news, opinion pages and letters, obituaries, and two pages of new comics and puzzles. TP Street is in tabloid format, whereas on the other days T-P continues as a broadsheet. The largest paper to announce it is considering abandoning daily print publishing is the Cleveland Plain Dealer. As of this writing, the PD’s newsroom staff is not slated to experience the round of layoffs expected to hit advertising, marketing and other nonnews departments – yet. However, beginning Aug. 5 the PD expects to be delivered three days a week, with a smaller newspaper to be distributed on Saturdays. And then there’s Newsweek, which this year no longer publishes a print magazine, but is online only. In a time when most journalism operations do not employ media critics or ombudsmen, when news councils are all but fond memories and when what ethics codes still remain are seldom visited, journalism reviews are struggling to attract enough subscribers, funders and advertising revenue to allow them to survive, let alone thrive. Columbia Journalism Review, the granddaddy of reviews that critically analyze, monitor and report on current, timely issues in the mass media, has this year alone lost three top editors as the bimonthly publication tries to bolster sagging revenue. Columbia Journalism School, which has published CJR since 1961, maintains a daily website. American Journalism Review, published by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, relies on freelancers for the bulk of its content. In June AJR lost its only full-time editorial employee, editor Rem Rieder. A report from AJR and the University of Maryland says the college’s dean, Lucy Dalglish, has appointed visiting professor in digital innovation Leslie Walker and
Capital News Service multimedia bureau director Sean Mussenden to serve as interim editors of the publication. Donors have in the past few years contributed to AJR, which six years ago was reported by the Washington Post to have an annual operating deficit of some $200,000. Gateway Journalism Review is staffed largely by School of Journalism graduate students from publisher Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. Published quarterly, GJR maintains an active website and has greatly expanded its Midwest circulation base in recent years. Still, the smallest of the nation’s three journalism reviews is constantly is in need of more readers, advertisers and foundation monies. Amid a journalism establishment wildly experimenting to stanch the bloodletting to its bottom line and journalism reviews struggling to stay viable, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication is this year celebrating its 101st year. AEJMC, which comprises university and college journalism and mass communication educators, is conducting its annual meeting this August in Washington, D.C. Just as members of the public question the need for newspapers and journalism reviews, college professors wonder as they wander through the communications minefields what students now need to master – are the proper skills being taught to prepare the next generation of working journalists for an increasingly uncertain brave new media world? Fleshing out this flux means journalism, journalism reviews and journalism education must remain healthy so we the people will not be shortchanged.
William A. Babcock, Editor
Summer 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 3
Publisher’s Note Impartiality and context missing in “scandal” coverage Measured against these time-tested values, the scandal journalism of the past several months has come up short.
Journalism educators gather this month in Washington for their 101st annual convention at a time when journalism is at the center of some of the biggest national stories – from the subpoenas of phone records of AP reporters, to the disclosure of the NSA’s massive collection of phone records, to renewed calls for a federal shield law. It is a good time to consider the verities of good journalism and measure recent coverage against them – verities such as putting events into context, presenting all sides of a story and reporting with impartiality. Measured against these time-tested values, the scandal journalism of the past several months has come up short. Consider these points (further developed on pages 18-19): 1) The Obama administration’s reported targeting of Patriot and Tea Party groups by the IRS brought comparisons to Watergate and Nixon’s enemies list. It’s a laughable comparison, given there is no evidence of presidential or White House involvement – and it now even seems unclear whether conservative groups were the only ones “targeted.” 2) The reporter who disclosed the NSA data collection story, Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, has long been an outspoken opponent of U.S. intelligence gathering, and his stories and public comments may have overstated the facts. It took weeks before the U.S. press pointed out that Greenwald did not adhere to the ethics of impartiality and objectivity that
professional U.S. news organization follow – and that most of us teach. 3) The current NSA data collection program was likened to the NSA warrantless wiretaps of the Bush administration, with little attention to critical differences: Congressional and court approval, and the collection of metadata rather than actual conversations. 4) Journalism organizations – acting more as lobbyists than neutral observers – advocated passage of a federal shield law with little mention that it would not come into play in national security cases such as the NSA or AP subpoena stories. They also dodged the difficult question about whether we want the government deciding who is a journalist. Charles Klotzer, the founder of the Journalism Review, and Mark Sableman, a leading media lawyer in St. Louis, have somewhat different takes. Klotzer says that the momentous nature and scope of the disclosures of the government’s data collection dwarf issues about how the stories were leaked. He has a point. The sheer size of the data collection operation, together with the expansion of a secret court system, are important topics for public debate. The nation may be at a critical juncture in choosing between liberty and privacy on the one hand and security on the other. Sableman recalls that the conventional wisdom among media lawyers once was that it was a dangerous mistake for the press to become a special pleader before legislative bodies. Ask for one thing, and you will get another. But he concludes that the experience with adoption of shield laws in most states shows that special legislation can be beneficial to the press.
Page 4 • Gateway Journalism Review • Summer 2013
An important piece of context often missing from today’s reports is history. Among several historical pieces in this issue are two on the 50th anniversary of the Jefferson Bank protests. For St. Louis, the Jefferson Bank protests are like Selma. From the distance of half a century, it is clear that the St. Louis newspapers and broadcast media were biased against the demonstrators, who blocked the entrance to the bank while seeking more downtown jobs for blacks. It’s a useful reminder as the press struggles with race in reporting on the Trayvon Martin case. The other historical pieces feature two of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s great reporters of the 20th century: Paul Y. Anderson and Richard Dudman. Terry Ganey, the St. Louis editor, discovered new information about Anderson’s sad last years. He committed suicide a decade after uncovering Teapot Dome, the scandal that was to the first half of the 20th century what Watergate was to the last half. The other piece is an appreciation written on Dudman’s 95th birthday this spring. Dudman was the chief Washington correspondent who escaped capture and later an assassination attempt in Cambodia. Anderson’s years-long investigative muckraking and Dudman’s “happy warrior” pursuit of a great story are pleasant reminders of journalistic verities.
William H. Freivogel, Publisher
Direction of our culture is at stake by Charles L. Klotzer The issues are monumental and universal. They involve everyone and affect fundamental issues of privacy, national security and the very essence of American culture. Indeed, these aspects are intimidating. They invite the observer to sidestep them in favor of less controversial and simpler issues. But the actions by Army Pfc. Bradley Manning and Edward J. Snowden must be faced, even by a nonlawyer who has not had an opportunity nor sought to contact any of the principals, pro or con. The key questions are those this journalism review has confronted since its founding in 1970. At the outset, let’s agree that if their revelations have broken any laws or regulations, which they swore to uphold, they will have to live with the consequences of their actions. The fighters for civil rights not too many years ago, who broke many laws, always were willing to accept – justified or not – the verdicts issued by the relevant authorities. If Manning and Snowden are fighters of the same caliber, they also must accept the consequences of their actions. How reactive (or vengeful) authorities will be is another question. But their fate is not what we must explore. One key distinction is that the fighters for civil rights did not endanger anyone else, but rather challenged a way of life that favored one group of Americans over others. Those critical of the recent revelations claim they endangered not only diplomatic efforts and channels, but possibly even the lives of Americans or allies. Cenk Kadir Uygur interviewed former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, about Snowden and Manning. According to Wikipedia, Uygur is the main host and co-founder of the Internet talk radio show and television show “The Young Turks” and currently
The fighters for civil rights not too many years ago, who broke many laws, always were willing to accept – justified or not – the verdicts issued by the relevant authorities. If Manning and Snowden are fighters of the same caliber, they also must accept the consequences of their actions. is the chief news officer of Current TV, succeeding Keith Olbermann. “I think we all faced the same problem,” Uygur quotes Ellsberg as saying when asked how he identifies with Manning and Snowden. “We saw that we were working for a government that was lying to the people, and was acting illegally and unconstitutionally in various ways. The question was whether we would live up to our oath to support the Constitution, or to our promise to a boss to keep secrets … and we chose the Constitution.” Thomas E. Ricks, a Pulitzer Prizewinning former reporter for the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, finds Snowden’s actions in the tradition of Ellsberg but calls Manning’s actions reckless. “He did a data dump, making secret information public without knowing what it was or what he was really doing,” Ricks said. If you click on any of these names on the Internet, you can spend hours digesting comments and views ranging from “Let them go” to “Have them shot at sunrise.” A few commentators make this connection, but many ignore U.S. government policies of violence, unconstitutional actions and a culture of secrecy that shut out not only public knowledge, but also the very ingredient
of a democracy: the consent of the governed. I don’t recall any public discussion — before press disclosures — about whether prisoners in U.S. custody can be secretly transferred to foreign governments known for human rights violations, or any public discussion as to whether prisoners can be tortured in U.S. prisons, or any public discussion of targeted killings in foreign countries, or any public discussion of collecting data on Americans on phones or using the Internet. Yes, there are a few exceptions. The ACLU is suing the National Security Agency, alleging that the NSA is unconstitutionally spying on Verizon customers (including the ACLU). Ellsberg’s actions were a reaction to misdeeds by the U.S. government. We have permitted past governments and the present one to transform our culture by governmental actions – which are necessary in many cases where individuals cannot function – into one that accepts violence, secrecy and surveillance without the benefit of public support. In this atmosphere of frustration for many, deeds such as by Manning and Snowden become inevitable. It is easy to condemn the outcome, but we have to search for – and face – the causes. n
Summer 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 5
Ag-gag legislation aims to muzzle journalistic efforts by Steve Hallock
Add Pennsylvania to the list of a dozen states that have enacted or are in the process of passing legislation outlawing attempts by independent reporters to document abuses in the production of food for American tables. Following the pattern of voter repression initiatives, anti-union proposals and anti-abortion bills designed to weaken Roe v. Wade, this spate of special-interest legislation is marching through GOP-controlled states aimed at protecting big agribusiness from efforts to shed light on a growing tide of animal abuse. This subject is of special interest to citizen and professional journalists in the Midwest, a region heavily involved in livestock and poultry production for the nation and the world. But these alleged farm-protection bills claim more than one victim – besides animals cruelly mistreated before slaughter. As noted in a previous issue of Gateway Journalism Review Spring 2013, volume 43, issue 330, they are a full-scale assault on the First Amendment’s protection of free speech and press, and on consumers’ right to know about the process that brings food to their dining room tables. The latest version of this assault comes in a proposal by Pennsylvania State Sen. Mike Brubaker, a Lancaster Republican, that would prohibit videotaping or taking pictures on farm property without permission by the owner, except for the following condition in which it differs from other states’ legislation: the recording or photography must document animal abuse and must be shared with the police exclusively. Brubaker justifies the legislation by making agribusiness into a victim with the claim that farmers are “unfairly tarnished by undercover documentation,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s report of the proposed bill. “This is not restricting photographs,” the senator told the newspaper of his proposal to restrict
photos of animal cruelty. “If the purpose of taking a photograph is to document inhumane treatment of animals, putting it on a social website does not get the job done. We need to ensure those photographs are properly taken on that site in question and that true inhumane treatment of animals has been occurring on that farm. And if that’s the case, it’s law enforcement’s responsibility to prosecute that case.” Brubaker is correct on one count: It is the responsibility of government to uphold statutes against animal abuse. But he tortures logic in his explanation regarding the benign nature of this overt attempt to regulate speech; and the fact is, some states simply are not enforcing animal cruelty laws when it comes to agribusiness. Putting aside the curious language of “true inhumane treatment of animals” (akin to legitimate rape?), a few thousand pro-democracy protestors who have used social media to document government abuses in Libya, Egypt, Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East might quarrel with this casual dismissal of the effects and power of social media. As for the “true inhumane treatment” cited by Brubaker, the evidence is abundant. One undercover video captured farm workers burning the ankles of Tennessee walking horses with chemicals, according to a report in the New York Times published this April. Another showed Wyoming workers “punching and kicking pigs and flinging piglets into the air,” the newspaper reported. In Vermont, according to a story by the Associated Press in March, an undercover video showed veal calves “skinned alive and tossed like sacks of potatoes,” while a video shot in California showed cows “struggling to stand as they were prodded to slaughter by forklifts,” leading to “the largest meat recall in U.S. history.” The video of the Tennessee walking horses led to criminal charges followed by guilty pleas to the Horse Protection Act. The Wyoming video led to nine farm employees being charged with animal cruelty. And an undercover video that revealed hens penned next to the rotting corpses of dead chickens “while
Page 6 • Gateway Journalism Review • Summer 2013
workers burn and snap off the beaks of young chicks” led to a decision by McDonald’s to stop buying birds from that particular company, the Times reported. So this is hardly a case of ineffective social media. Rather, these videos, streamed on social media outlets and elsewhere, are examples of robust journalism that brings results in the tradition of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” a book that revealed conditions and abuses in Chicago meat-packing plants and led to passage of the federal Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Sinclair was one of several muckraking journalists of the Progressive era who used reporting techniques that included covert investigations to publicize wrongdoing. Another often-cited piece of investigative reporting of that period was done by Elizabeth Jane Cochran, who went undercover in a New York mental institution, which she entered by faking her own insanity. Writing under the pen name Nellie Bly, she produced an 1887 report for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World that led to a grand jury investigation and a substantial increase in the budget of the Department of Public Charities and Corrections. Journalism history is filled with such exploits of firsthand reporting of society’s ills; but imagine how Sinclair’s and Cochran’s reporting would have fared had these reporters been required to give their notes to the government, prior to publication, as these agribusiness laws and pending bills stipulate, instead of freely publishing their information without official government scrutiny. Or the reporting of modern-era undercover journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, whose 2001 “Nickel and Dimed” revealed living conditions of American workers trapped in menial labor. These reports of wrongdoers caught and punished starkly contrast with an episode cited by defenders of Brubaker’s Pennsylvania legislation. These folks cite state inspection of a Lancaster County egg farm that discounted Humane Society claims of animal abuse and dangerous conditions at the farm – based on undercover video documentation of
the alleged abuse shot by a farm worker. The videotaped evidence, said the farm operator, “could have been shot in any house,” reported the Post-Gazette. The Humane Society video, released in April 12, 2012, revealed conditions that included severe overcrowding, mummified hen carcasses inside cages with living hens laying eggs for diningroom tables, birds dying from lack of water, and chickens with legs and heads trapped in wires and feeding machinery. The state inspection of the egg farm came after farm officials became aware of the video, tipped by a telephone call from a New York Times columnist seeking comment about the video. The operators of the farm were exonerated by the state’s Department of Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary George Greig released a statement assuring that conditions at the farm in question met industry standards and that inspections over the previous five years had shown “high and consistent standards of flock management.” This is what can happen when the police regulators, sometimes in cahoots with the agencies they are supposed to oversee, circumvent the press. It is the very sort of scenario enabled by Brubaker’s proposed legislation, the law
enforcement authorities in this situation being the state’s agriculture overseers – metaphorical potential foxes guarding these chicken coops, if Brubaker has his way. To be fair, Brubaker’s legislation is not as bad as some in other states, some of which put time limits on when videos must be turned over to the state, while others ban videotaping at numerous locations, including some, such as livestock markets that are open to the public. A New York bill prohibits taking photos from public roads of animals in open fields. But Brubaker’s proposal, nonetheless, is just as odorous as its legislative brethen in other states. And it is just as unconstitutional. Videotapes and photographs are the same as a reporter’s handwritten or taped notes; they are the tools by which journalists ply their trade and, in their exercise of free speech and free press, inform the public – fulfilling the journalist’s watchdog role. Given any other name conjured up by Orwellian attempts to call war peace – farm protection in this case, for example – this proposed regulation of speech is nothing less than prior restraint. Not only does such state oversight
of reporting discourage the sort of regulation these undercover videos argue for, it also would punish those who want to right the wrongs revealed in such documentation. “Whistleblowing investigations in the past few years have exposed food safety issues and rampant animal abuse on industrial factory farms in America,” Matthew Dominguez, the Humane Society’s public policy manager for the farm animal protection campaign, told the Post-Gazette. “The industry’s response to these investigations hasn’t been to clean up their act but instead to make it illegal for you to expose the cruelty in the first place.” The restrictions put forth by the legislative friends of the industry make victims all right, but not of the farmers. The victims are the American public and the democracy by this violation of constitutional protection of speech and press that chills the prospects of an informed citizenry. Attempts to categorize this assault on constitutional free speech should be recognized, and opposed, in the courts of justice and of public opinion, for what they are rather than for the champions of free farming that their proponents claim most foully. n
Summer 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 7
An ethics retrospective on Newtown media coverage
compiled by Benjamin Israel AWARDS The Society of Professional Journalists has recognized the 2012 Mark of Excellence Awards winners from Region 5, which comprises Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. The MOE Awards honor the best of college journalism from a calendar year. The awards, which are judged by professionals with at least three years of journalism experience, honor the best in student journalism. School divisions are based on student enrollment, which includes graduate and undergraduate enrollment: Large schools have more than 10,000 students; medium schools have 9,999 to 5,001 students; and small schools have fewer than 5,000 students. In the newspaper category, first place in “Best Student Magazine” went to “4:56 A.M.,” submitted by the School of Journalism, Southern Illinois University. Other regional winners in the newspaper category included: Breaking News Reporting (Large) – third place: “Tornado Leaves Six Dead” by Staff, Daily Egyptian, SIU; In-Depth Reporting (Large) – third place: “After war, many vets come home to battle suicide” by Sharon Wittke, Bob Roberts Katende & Wes Capps, St. Louis Beacon, SIU. In the art/graphics category, Steve Matzker of SIU’s Daily Egyptian captured first-place honors in Breaking News Photography (Large) with the entry
“Tornado Leaves 6 Dead.” The Radio and Television Digital News Association has announced the winners of the 2013 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. In Region 5, the TV winners were: Large Market Television Overall Excellence – News 4 St. Louis KMOV-TV; Newscast – “Harrisburg and Branson tornadoes,” KSDK-TV St. Louis, and “Megabus crash,” KMOV-TV; Feature Reporting – “Small-town doc,” KSDK-TV; Investigative Reporting – “Minority contracting and alleged front companies,” KTVI-TV; News Documentary – “War zone: The destruction of an All-American city,” KMOV-TV; Reporting: Hard News – “Cahokia School junket,” KMOVTV; Reporting: Sports – “Strength through sportsmanship,” KSDK-TV; Use of Sound/Video – Eric Voss, KSDK-TV; Writing – Mike Bush, KSDK-TV. In the radio category, the regional winners included: Large Market Radio Newscast – 8 a.m. newscast, KMOX-AM; Breaking News – “Litchfield megabus crash,” KMOX-AM; Continuing Coverage – “Missouri drought of 2012,” St. Louis Public Radio; News Series – “Asian carp: Bane or Boon?” St. Louis Public Radio; Reporting: Hard News – “Voters react to Akin comments,” St. Louis Public Radio; Writing – “Collecting Bosnians’ narrative of war,” St. Louis Public Radio.
The Scene, the student newspaper at St. Louis Community CollegeForest Park, received 18 awards at the recent Missouri College Media Association Conference. Forest Park competed in Division 4 with other community colleges across the state. The Scene won a third-place award for best overall newspaper and also garnered third place in the sweepstakes. Among the firstplace winners were editor Michelle McIntosh for in-depth reporting, Nate Rothwell for regular column, James Shelton for an entertainment review and Derrick Varner for news photography. Jammarl Montgomery, Garrieth Crockett, Michelle McIntosh and Jennifer Kulka won secondplace honors in the feature page category. Third-place winners included: Lesa Bush, feature writing; DeJuan Baskin, sports writing; Derrick Varner and Brandon Panosh, news photography; Jennifer Kulka and Michelle McIntosh, feature photography; and Jerome Clark, political cartoon as well as story illustration. Honorable mention went to Jammarl Montgomery, Derrick Varner and Jenae Williams, feature page; Alejandra Martinez, feature writing; James Shelton, entertainment review; Stajah Curry, non-political cartoon; and Jammarl Montgomery and Garrieth Crockett, Page 1 design. The Scene’s adviser is Teri Maddox, assisted by Lane Barnholtz.
For more on the St. Louis media world, scan the QR code! Page 8 • Gateway Journalism Review • Summer 2013
by Eileen Byrnes After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school, several of the victims’ parents joined forces with a newly formed group called Sandy Hook Promise, which was created to advocate a change in gun laws and mentalhealth treatment. Nicole Hockley, whose autistic son was gunned down wrapped in the arms of his educational aide, said Newtown has to be an epicenter for change. That is the reason it’s called Newtown, she said. On a state level, the parents who became part of Sandy Hook Promise were influential in getting gun laws changed in Connecticut. They lobbied lawmakers on a federal level as well, although those pleas were met with words of sympathy, but not enough votes to enact change. Newtown also could have been a jumping-off point for a change in media coverage, but there was no leadership, whether it be on a national level or in academia, questioning how things could be better in the coverage of other tragedies. As a result, the need for speed outweighed the need for accuracy in the reporting of the bombing at the Boston marathon. One curious point regarding the coverage of the Newtown tragedy concerns the number of victims. Twenty-six – or 20 children and six educators – flows off the tongues of many broadcasters and can be found inked in almost every printed article and posted blog. But 27 people were killed by the gunman that day. Before heading to the school to carry out his deranged plan of execution, the 20-year-old with a fascination for guns and video games shot his mother several times in the face while she slept. Her gray matter was splattered on the walls of her bedroom. Should she be counted as a victim? Should she be given the same respect as the others shot that day? Or does having high-powered rifles that were accessible to her mentally unstable son, who was not under the care of a mental health professional, make her less of a victim? Many Newtowners have a strong opinion about the mother, their words dripping with venom. But should public distain dictate the reporting on the victim count? It is an ethical debate that could draw passionate discussion on both sides of the table – if it were being discussed. The Connecticut General Assembly recently voted on a bill prohibiting the release of any visual images showing a homicide victim if it could “reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy of the victim or the victim’s surviving family members.” Parts of the 911 calls,
however, can be made public. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association, Connecticut Broadcaster Association and the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information initially said the release of the documents was essential to monitoring the performance of the government. These groups argued police do not release crime-scene photos, and that 911 tapes are essential in evaluating response time to emergencies. The 911 tapes recorded shots and screams. An assumption can be made that those details will be edited. Should the public hear those deleted segments? Does it have a need? Also, if legislation was not passed, would mainstream media have followed suit if pictures were published online? In a need for being first, and in an age where compassion in news reporting sometimes takes a back seat to bragging rights, would these images be published or broadcast? Parents of the slain children, many of whom were shot beyond recognition, argued in this age of technology that the media are not the only avenue for disseminating information. Recognized media outlets such as radio, television and newspapers are competing with Internet sites. And with the rapidly changing state of the Internet, and a lack of standards and oversight regarding these sites, the parents were fearful that, without legislation, photos could be leaked and posted. It was disrespectful to their deceased children and would add another dimension to their grief, they said. One mother said her right not to see a picture of her child dead on a classroom floor should outweigh anyone’s need to post it. With a population of 30,000, not everyone in Newtown will agree about sites for memorials, the future of the school or how the town should move forward. So, too, with a news event about the slaughter of innocent children that garnered such national and international coverage, there never will be a consensus on how a story of this magnitude should be covered. But in memory of those children shot on that crisp Friday morning in December, shouldn’t there be some discussion about ethics and how this story was covered? The coverage of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School needs to be a topic of discussion at media conventions and on any panel where reporters are gathered. It needs to be discussed by editors. It needs to be dissected at universities and colleges with journalism curriculums. If Newtown is not the epicenter of change for how tragic events are covered, at least let it be the epicenter for discussion. n
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‘Will this happen to me?’
Children’s exposure to disaster, violence in the news by Dafna Lemish Images of blood-covered children and horrified adults, sounds of howling winds and screaming people, live videos of approaching storms and devastating destruction have all permeated our media coverage of the recent tornado in Moore, Okla. Such news coverage, tagged “Disaster Marathon” by Tamar Liebes, an Israeli media researcher, represents common journalistic practices for covering horror tales of suicide bombings, natural disasters and major accidents. With handheld mobile devices, every passer-by can document the experience in sight and sound (and contribute to our thirst for gory images) as we struggle with the emotional weight of making sense of such tragedies. But what about our children? Despite the typical warning to parents that “this report may not be suitable for children,” it has become almost impossible to entirely shield children from troubling news coverage. Whether they surf the Internet proactively, motivated by their curious and inquisitive minds, or accidently raise their eyes from the tablet-game they are engrossed in on the rug to the sound of sirens on TV, children today are aware of the world around them a lot more than we have given them credit for – and from a
very young age. A recent international study, for example, asked young children in 19 countries around the world about the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. It found that the vast majority of them were quite aware of the events, and were able to talk about them and draw images resembling those circulating in the news worldwide. In the interviews I conducted in Carbondale, Ill., as part of this study (coordinated by the International Center Institute for Youth and Educational Television [IZI], in Munich, Germany), I was amazed to find spontaneous drawings of 7-yearolds, replicating camera angles from
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above of cars and houses being swept away, just like those imprinted on our minds from watching television news globally. Children also expressed anxiety over the damage caused to nuclear plants, all happening thousands of miles away from the safety of rural Illinois. These and other findings about children’s exposure to news are reasons for concern for p=arents. Children are bombarded by a scary world that seems out of control. They see helpless adults who cannot be trusted to protect them or restore safety. The accumulated research on the effects of scary images on children suggests that they can be traumatized by such portrayals – and that these media experiences can linger for years to come, affecting the children’s behavior and well-being. Remember the movie “Jaws”? Many stories have documented the trace of fear caused by wading in the ocean that the movie left behind. The sight of Hurricane Sandy hitting the New Jersey shore, the chaos in the streets of Boston after the marathon bombing, or that of a tornado funnel approaching a school can have a similar effect. Children’s emotional reactions to scary news have been a topic of research for many years, suggesting that their developmental stage, life experience and caregivers’ reactions make a difference. A 4-year-old girl probably would not experience anxiety caused by the melting of Antarctica, but she might have nightmares over an imaginary blue monster. The 12-year-old living in the U.S. Midwest will naturally react differently to the coverage of tornado damage, deemed immediately relevant and threatening,
than to the threat of nuclear missiles from Iran. Conversely, the 12-year-old in the Middle East will react to these news stories in quite the opposite way. But these same findings can also be illuminating and framed as potentially “good news” for parents. Children are young people in their own right who are eager to learn about the world around them. Developing critical habits of news consumption is part of civic engagement and care about one’s social and physical world. Overshielding children from news, sending them away because “news is not for children,” can serve to foster narrowmindedness and self-focus while alienating them from their place in the world – and their responsibility as a member of a community. It also renders them helpless and out of control of their own life circumstances. So what is a parent to do? Do children need to be exposed to a bombardment of disasters? Of course not. But neither should we deceive them about the world around them by covering up unhappiness and injustices. Developing resilience and agency requires knowledge and responsible adult guidance. Moderate news coverage can be an opportunity for dialogue about risks. Yes, tornadoes and hurricanes hit, accidents happen, and wars take place despite our good intentions. But there are things people do about these events to restore order and aid the needy. Rather than dwelling on the victimization, emphasize the heroism, the community connectedness and the organized help. Allow children to talk freely about their anxieties, rather than dismissing them, and remove
those threats that are irrelevant to your own life circumstances. There is really no need for a child to worry about a tsunami threatening him in Missouri, or the atrocities in Syria reaching her in Indiana. Yes, these things happen in the world, but they are not happening to us. We care about them deeply, but we are safe here. Instead, work with children to develop a possible plan of action to empower them to have agency, rather than to see themselves as potential victims. Even the youngest child can have an active role depending on age and circumstances (whether drawing a picture for an injured child, donating some pocket money for victims of a disaster, or planning a course of action in one’s own home). Keep the child’s age in mind. While treating the 8-year-old respectfully requires sincere responses to questions, a 3-year-old may be comforted by a mere hug. Scholars studying children and media suggest that despite our lamenting the decline of interest in news, children today are exposed to news voluntarily or accidently probably more than ever before. They are curious about the world around them, and want their questions answered and their opinions about events to be heard. Some countries in the world (e.g., the United Kingdom, Germany and Israel) have developed special news programs and websites devoted to children’s news, adapting topics and type of coverage to different age groups and helping them grow into engaged adults. It is perhaps time for American media to step up to the plate and consider children and young people as their audience, too. n
Yes, tornadoes and hurricanes hit, accidents happen, and wars take place despite our good intentions. But there are things people do about these events to restore order and aid the needy. Rather than dwelling on the victimization, emphasize the heroism, the community connectedness and the organized help. Allow children to talk freely about their anxieties, rather than dismissing them, and remove those threats that are irrelevant to your own life circumstances. Summer 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 11
Who’s Listening? noted, with classic English understatement.
Redefining a ‘Free’ Press:
Watching the Watchdogs
by Walter Jaehnig
mith Square in London is a collection of Georgian buildings sheltering government ministries, European Commission offices – and, because the square is around the corner from Parliament, countless lobbyists. Until recently, both the Conservative and Labour party headquarters were in Smith Square. William Thomas Stead, the father of British tabloid journalism, lived there until he sailed for New York on the Titanic in 1912. Given its proximity to the seat of political power, it seems appropriate that a Smith Square art gallery this summer featured an exhibition picturing two “compelling and competing visions of the press.” The contents of one room, designed by a journalist, make the argument for the continued protection of a free press. An adjoining room, prepared by victims of Britain’s recent phone-hacking scandal, presents the case for a more accountable press by showing how “today’s press has hurt and damaged us.” These competing visions originated in the publication of the 2,000-page Leveson report (named after Brian Leveson, a highranking judge in the British courts) last November, the result of an exhaustive examination of the phone-hacking scandal and the symbiotic relationships between journalists, the police and public officials. Criminal charges have been filed against many, the News of the World was closed by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, and news media ethics have been subjected to close scrutiny. “Reactions to Leveson have been both impassioned and highly divisive,” the gallery’s website designers Page 12 • Gateway Journalism Review • Summer 2013
Britain has enjoyed a broad form of press freedom since 1690, when government licensing of publications ceased. Critics of Leveson suggest that press freedom faces its greatest threat since then. Leveson, however, argued that this is a new era, and that new standards of press performance are needed. The problem, to Leveson, is that the commercial culture has led “time and time again, (to) serious and uncorrected failures within parts of the national press that may have stretched from the criminal to the indefensibly unethical, from passing off fiction as fact to paying lip service to accuracy. ... In doing so, far from holding power to account, in these regards the press is exercising unaccountable power which nobody holds to account.” How might the press be held to account? This is the nub: Do you still have a free press if any part of government has the power to monitor press performance and enforce corrective measures? Leveson, among his many recommendations, proposed a “voluntary, independent, selforganised regulatory system,” backed by statutory authority, be developed. It was time for government to recognize that it had a legal duty to protect, not restrict, freedom of the press – and, accordingly, it needed to develop a regulatory agency that had an “appropriate degree of independence from the industry, coupled with satisfactory powers to handle complaints, promote and enforce standards, and deal with dispute resolution.” In other words, the power of law should be used, in collaboration with the news media’s attempts to regulate themselves, to develop an independent (nongovernmental) monitor. The political establishment accepted part of this advice. After weeks of torturous negotiations, Prime Minister David Cameron Continued on next page
Guarding the Guardians by Walter Jaehnig If George Bernard Shaw really did say that Britain and the United States were two nations separated by a common language, he might have pointed to the current British debate over media regulation as the prime example. The debate originated in the juicy phone-hacking scandal that led to the disclosure of unseemly relationships between journalists and public officials, extending to the prime minister’s office and the police, then degenerated into a bitter stalemate. Analysis of this debate involves the translation of words and phrases never heard in U.S. discussions of media ethics: triple lock, Privy Council, Royal Charter, recognition panel, exemplary damages, Pressbof and Leveson, to name only a few. The key word is Leveson, a name acquiring near-expletive status in parts of the British press. Brian Leveson, a high-ranking judge in the British courts, was asked by Prime Minister David Cameron to investigate the roles of the press and police in the phone-hacking scandal exposed by Guardian reporters in 2011. Leveson took this assignment seriously; under British law he had the power to summon witnesses (who testified under oath) and required that they provide crucial documents, such as emails and office memos. The hearings last summer were public and televised, exposing the newsmaking process to public viewing. More than 330 witnesses and 300 written statements provided the substance for Leveson’s report, which ran 1,987 pages (the executive summary alone was 48 pages). The inquiry cost more than $9 million when published last November. What emerged is this century’s most extensive and incisive examination of media activities in a democratic nation. In documenting the press’s cozy and collaborative relationships with other institutions, such as law enforcement and the political system, Leveson went further than the Hutchins Commission, which examined the U.S. press in the post-World War II era and called for more self-regulation. Leveson noted that his was the seventh official British press investigation in the past 70 years, and he concluded that self-regulation simply has not worked: “Too many times ... parts of the press have acted as if its own code, which it wrote, simply did not exist. This has caused real hardship and, on occasion, wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people whose rights and liberties have been disdained.” The issue, ultimately, is one that confronts any society that values a free press: who watches the watchdogs, or, “Who guards the guardians?” The Hutchins Commission was largely ignored by the U.S. press in the 1950s. This has not been the case with Leveson. Some argue that his whole analysis is outdated because his remit did not extend to online journalism and virtually ignored the cyber-world (Leveson dismissed it as an “ethical vacuum”).
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Who’s Listening? Continued from previous page
announced in March that the leaders of the three major political parties agreed that a Royal Charter was the solution. A charter, granted by the Queen through her Privy Council, would empower a new press commission to monitor media performance. This would obviate the need for Parliament to adopt a law that regulated the press. (A Royal Charter was used in a similar manner in establishing the BBC to protect its editorial independence.) The new press monitor would replace the Press Complaints Commission, a sort of watered-down accountability council, which had been an unmitigated failure, according to Leveson. It would comprise 12 members: seven independents (public), and five representing the news industry. It would be funded by the Press Standards Board of Finance (Pressbof), the organization that funds the current PCC. It would have the authority to force apologies from newspapers deemed to have committed serious mistakes or ethical violations. It also would provide whistleblower protection for journalists forced by their employers to commit unethical acts. In turn, the press monitor would be audited by a “recognition panel,” yet another body that would monitor the press monitor. Publishers would be free to not participate in press monitor investigations, but they would be open to punitive (exemplary) damages in legal
proceedings. Finally, the monitor should develop an arbitration (non-judicial) tribunal that would hear and dispose of many complaints against newspapers without incurring heavy legal expenses. The newspaper corporations quickly rejected this plan and announced they were sending their own Royal Charter to the Privy Council for approval. The industry’s version cut out the whistleblower; tried to further insulate the press monitor from political interference by specifying that the charter could be amended only by the industry, press monitor and recognition panel acting unanimously (which was said to establish a “triple lock” guarantee that the press monitor would fulfill its mission); weakened the criteria for forcing apologies from newspapers; and gave the industry veto power over appointments to the press monitor. This final feature eventually was dropped when the Guardian, Financial Times and Independent newspapers failed to support the industry’s Royal Charter. The industry charter also opposed the arbitration panels on behalf of more than a thousand local and regional newspapers, which incur about 40 percent of the complaints taken to PCC, fearing this would provide fertile ground for money-hungry attorneys wanting to file complaints against erring newspapers. And here the matter sits. Officially, both charters have been referred to the Secretary of Culture, Media and Sport
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Similarly, Leveson’s assignment did not extend to broadcast media, ironically, given the BBC’s recent troubles of its own (misidentifying an accused pedophile in one story and killing another story about sexual abuses supposedly committed by the late Jimmy Savile, a BBC pop culture figure in the 1960-1970s). There also have been suggestions that New Scotland Yard, the Metropolitan Police of London, might have withheld documents from Leveson pertaining to information provided to journalists at the News of the World, so perhaps the full story has not emerged. Finally, a British scandal would not be
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to determine which charter should be sent to the Privy Council for the Queen’s approval. In the meantime, individuals and groups are weighing in on the war of words. Hacked Off, the organization of victims in the phone-hacking scandal, supports the political Royal Charter, and said the industry charter “demonstrates once again that the press thinks it is above the law.” The director of Liberty, a civil rights organization, said the whole notion of a Royal Charter for the press is “bizarre: an overly complex and bureaucratic system.” The Committee to Protect Journalists observed from New York that the political Royal Charter is “counter to the bedrock principles of democracy.” The New York Times argued that these unwieldy regulations “would chill free speech and threaten the survival of small publishers and Internet sites.” Public opinion surveys show readers both favor and oppose the industry’s Royal Charter, and both trust and distrust the government to develop a solution to this problem. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, recently called upon the government to reopen negotiations to try to reach an outcome to this standoff. Meanwhile, the rough-and-tumble world of British journalism goes on, with stings, exposures and aggressive investigations, such as the Guardian’s NSA surveillance reporting. Whether Leveson’s efforts will change this world is anybody’s guess. n
complete without a sexual angle, and Leveson has this as well. Rupert Murdoch’s Sun and the Daily Mail reported that a junior counsel on Leveson’s staff committed a conflict of interest by being involved in a personal relationship with a barrister representing phonehacking victims, such as the actor Hugh Grant. Leveson responded that she performed only minor tasks on his team, and had no part in formulating his conclusions. Notwithstanding these criticisms, in its indictment of the ethical practices of the British press, the Leveson report opened a new discussion of the connection between press freedom and the public’s interest. Only time will tell what, if anything, results from it. n
Should journalists seek special protection? by Mark Sableman When the media seek legal protection for journalistic activity, two paths are available: • Rely on the First Amendment. • Seek special legislative or administrative protection. These two approaches have long been vigorously debated within the media community. First Amendment advocates claim the United States Constitution already protects journalists. They say journalists shouldn’t go hat in hand to the legislatures, and then accept the qualified protections, full of exceptions, from legislation. Special protection advocates claim the First Amendment, at least as understood and applied by many officials and courts, is insufficient. They say it must be supplemented with specially tailored protections so clear and strong officials and courts cannot avoid them. This debate usually centers on shield laws, and whether they are helpful or harmful. As a lawyer who has practiced in several situations – good shield law, bad shield law and
Highly restrictive shield laws present problems for the media – validating one of the arguments of those who favor relying solely on the First Amendment. no shield law – I can provide some observations. My first experiences occurred in pre-1985 Illinois, when the state’s shield law expressly did not apply in libel cases. That kind of highly restrictive shield law generally presented the worst of all worlds. Since there was a shield law, courts tended to look solely to it to resolve all reporters’ privilege issues. State court judges in particular tend to view their state statutes and court rules as the ultimate legal source of decision. In those days, when a privilege issue arose in a libel case, attorneys would raise the privilege, very clearly basing arguments on the First Amendment. We’d do everything but put the First Amendment basis for our claim in flashing neon lights. But, inevitably, a state court judge would say, “But it says here (in the statutory shield law) that the privilege doesn’t apply in libel cases.” We’d argue and explain … but it was an uphill fight. Highly restrictive shield laws present problems for the media – validating one of the arguments of those who favor relying solely on the First Amendment. Contrast that with privilege claims I’ve asserted in Missouri, which has never had a shield law. You might think a state court judge would look at Missouri statutes, see no shield law and assume there was no privilege. But the absence of a shield law doesn’t hurt as much as does the presence of a bad one. Missouri judges, in my experience, have listened and carefully considered First Amendment privilege arguments, even before the first state appeals court, in 1997, recognized a privilege. Results have been mixed, partly because of the vagueness of the First Amendment privilege
authorities and partly because of the varied facts that situations presented. Finally, consider post-1985 Illinois under a revised shield law that no longer contained an absolute libel exclusion. If the situation fits the shield law, as most do, privilege claims usually are upheld. And the explicit steps of the shield law, spelling out how claims are to be asserted and judged, make it easier for reporters and courts. It probably is the best situation of the three – until one considers, as First Amendment advocates will stress, that whatever the Legislature has given, it also can take away. And that the statute’s appealing clarity may lead courts to ignore First Amendment considerations in those unusual, unforeseen situations that fall outside the statute. For many years most journalists seemed to favor the First Amendment position. But as more states have adopted shield laws, and as most major media organizations recently supported efforts to enact a federal shield law, the special-protection side has gained strength. The Department of Justice’s recent intrusions into reporters’ privilege, with its subpoenas of phone company records of reporters’ calls, raise this dilemma again. The 30-year-old voluntary DoJ administrative guidelines on journalistic subpoenas didn’t protect journalists in this situation. But without them the department probably wouldn’t have felt inhibited by the First Amendment. Should Congress remedy the situation with a national shield law, or would congressional action merely create so many exceptions that it would gut the privilege? The debate – shall we rely on the Constitution, or on special legislation? – continues. n
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Droning on: Unmanned aerial vehicles raise privacy concerns by John Jarvis Civil unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, have left the realm of science fiction and are making their way into use by businessmen, law enforcement officials and newsgathering organizations in the United States. This drone use is stirring up privacy concerns at the state level, but because these drones are being operated in public, there’s little in the way of American privacy laws that prevents their use. Constitutionally, the Fourth Amendment provides the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” But is that enough in the face of this technological advancement? The American Civil Liberties Union, in a story posted online March 6 (and updated June 21) by strategist Allie Bohm, reported that legislation to regulate drone use had been proposed in 42 states, enacted in six states and is still active in 28 states.. Part of the problem, however, is that the definition of “drone” has not been established uniformly. These aircraft come in all shapes and sizes, and some can stay aloft for long periods of time. Some can hover like a helicopter, while others fly like airplanes. But even as the battle to define the term “drone” continues, tens of thousands of these small, unmanned vehicles are zipping through U.S. airspace. A story posted March 3 on the Reuters news site and written by Chris Francescani begins with, “They hover over Hollywood film sets and professional sports events. They track wildfires in Colorado, survey Kansas farm crops and vineyards in California. They inspect miles of industrial pipeline and monitor wildlife, river temperatures and volcanic activity. They also locate marijuana fields, reconstruct crime scenes and spot illegal immigrants breaching U.S. borders.” Franscescani reports that these drones are “armed with streaming video, swivel cameras and infrared sensors,” and it is the use of this cutting-edge
technology that has raised privacy concerns in this country. Greg McNeal, a law professor at Pepperdine University, addressed the privacy concerns regarding drone use in a story written Aug. 13, 2012, for Forbes magazine. He contends that “the unmanned systems industry is not prepared for the upcoming fight with privacy groups.” To bolster his argument, McNeal provided an example of an effort to streamline the airport security process in place since the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. The Department of Homeland Security came up with a plan in 2003 to use “data already in the hands of airlines, voluntarily provided by passengers,” to verify airline passengers’ security status ahead of time. He notes, “DHS was fought tooth and nail by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and other privacy groups. … We’re talking about reservation data here. This was a tool that could have stopped 9/11. It could have stopped the Christmas Day Bomber. And it was opposed by the privacy lobby. Are unmanned systems more compelling?” Americans’ perspectives about drones remain divided. Slate’s Ryan Gallagher writes in an April 3 story posted online that the American public holds split opinions
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regarding drones. Gallagher’s story, titled “Privacy Risk or Future of Aviation? Five Perspectives on Domestic Drones,” lists the five prevailing views that emerged from those who participated in a Federal Aviation Administration call-in “engagement session” April 3: • “Drones are a safety hazard.” – The callers who voiced this concern indicated that they believed unmanned drones could interfere with flight operations involving manned aircraft, or that a drone could crash in a populated area. Both scenarios could result in a loss of life. Another risk mentioned was that an unmanned drone could be “hacked” and have its controls taken over by another operator. • “Drones are the future of aviation.” – These individuals do not see drone use as a threat to the U.S. population. In fact, they believe the United States should continue to advance drone technology, or it could be left eating the dust of other countries who do it instead. • “Drones pose an unprecedented privacy risk.” – This group of respondents fear the intrusion of drones on the privacy rights of the American public. To counter this, they suggested such things as banning
Scorecard on legislation regarding drone use Privacy protection bills to regulate the use of surveillance drones have been proposed in 42 states, according to information gathered by American Civil Liberties Union advocacy and policy strategist Allie Bohm. Six states have enacted legislation, and bills are still active in 28 states, the ACLU reports. Here is the status of the various state legislative efforts, as of June 21: Alabama – Senate committee passed legislation. Alaska – A resolution creating a Task Force on Unmanned Aircraft Systems has been adopted. Arizona – A bill to protect U.S. citizens, with exemptions for drug crimes and human smuggling, has passed a House committee. Arkansas – Legislature adjourned without taking action on proposed drone legislation. California – Legislation introduced. Florida – On April 25, Gov. Rick Scott signed a state law, the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, restricting police use of drones within the state’s borders. The law requires local or state law enforcement agencies to obtain a judge’s approval before they can use surveillance drones. The law took effect July 1. Georgia – Legislature adjourned without taking action on proposed drone legislation. Hawaii – Legislation introduced. Idaho – Bill signed by governor April 11; legislation took effect July 1. Illinois – House and Senate passed legislation; bill awaits action by Gov. Pat Quinn. Indiana – A Senate committee has passed a “study group” resolution, and a bill has been introduced. Iowa – Legislation introduced. Kansas – Legislation introduced. Kentucky – Legislation introduced. Maine – Legislation has passed both chambers and now is on the governor’s desk. Maryland – Legislation introduced. Massachusetts – Legislation introduced. all drone use in the United States; regulations on drone use that includes the use of search warrants for law enforcement personnel to use drones for surveillance and evidence gathering; and a public database, accessible via a website, that would record who is using a drone, and when and where it was used. • “Americans have the right to own a drone.” – Gallagher noted that one forceful caller, who said he was from Missouri, voiced this opinion. Gallagher added that “this position appeared rooted in an anti-Big Government stance strongly opposed to the introduction of any new laws and regulations
Michigan – Legislation introduced. Minnesota – Legislation introduced. Missouri – House passed legislation. Montana – Legislation to limit the use of unmanned aerial vehicles has been enacted; the law takes effect Oct. 1. Nebraska – Legislation introduced. Nevada – Legislation introduced. New Hampshire – A House committee passed a bill, but it was tabled in the House, so no legislation will be enacted this year. New Jersey – Legislation introduced. New Mexico – Legislation died in committee. New York – Legislation introduced. North Carolina – Legislation introduced. North Dakota – Legislation passed in the House but was defeated in the Senate; no legislation will be enacted this year. Oklahoma – A bill to regulate drone use was replaced with a call for an interim study on drone privacy issues. The bill is being held over until the next legislative session; no legislation will be enacted this year. Oregon – Legislation has passed both chambers and is on the governor’s desk. Pennsylvania – Legislation introduced. Rhode Island – Legislation introduced. South Carolina – House committee has passed legislation. Tennessee – The “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” took effect July 1. Texas – House and Senate passed legislation; bill goes into effect Sept. 1. Vermont – Legislation introduced. Virginia – An “Act to place a moratorium on the use of unmanned aircraft systems” was approved April 3; legislation took effect July 1. Washington – A bill regarding drone use was not brought up for a full House vote before the legislative deadline, so no legislation will be enacted this year. West Virginia – Legislation introduced. Wyoming – Legislation died in committee.
that would govern how private citizens could and could not use drones.” • “What about mission creep?” – Shades of George Orwell’s novel “1984” abound in this expression of concern by some callers. Gallagher wrote that “some contributors said they were worried the introduction of drones into domestic airspace would lead to a sort of incremental militarization, with increasingly advanced forms of the technology being use[d] as part of draconian policing operations.” Gallagher notes that “the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has been given
until September 2015 to integrate drones into the national airspace system, and it is currently working to develop six unmanned aircraft research and testing sites across the United States.” Once the new rules take effect, “the FAA predicts there will be between 7,500 to 15,000 commercial drones flying in American skies in just five years,” according to a story by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai that was posted on the website Mashable. com on April 24. Continued on page 35
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Reporter’s advocacy journalism meets deafening silence by William H. Freivogel The press doesn’t cover nuance very well, especially when it is covering itself – or when a reporter is more of an advocate than an impartial observer. The recent NSA stories and those about leaks of top-secret information are good examples. Both are important stories raising serious questions about the right balance between liberty and security. But the failure to provide nuanced, balanced information has left Americans with a distorted idea of what is at stake. Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian – who wrote the stories about the National Security Agency’s massive collection of telephone calling data and access to Internet data – makes no pretense of objectivity. In fact, he thinks objectivity is a pretense. Working with Greenwald was award-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras, who was the contact to the leaker, Edward Snowden. Poitras is herself a vocal critic of the war on terrorism. Greenwald has made his views explicit. He said: “There is a massive apparatus within the U.S. government that, with complete secrecy, has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal, and that is to destroy privacy and anonymity, not just in the United States but around the world. That is not hyperbole. That is their objective.” Greenwald’s story on the PRISM program’s access to Internet data appeared to contain a key overstatement. He said that NSA “is able to reach directly into the servers of the participating companies and obtain both stored communications as well as perform real-time collection on targeted users.” The denials of the Internet companies didn’t slow Greenwald. In the end, it seems the muchridiculed denials of the service providers may have been accurate. There is no proof online service firms are giving the government fully automated data without
government requests having been reviewed by company lawyers. Greenwald further overstated the facts on the “Morning Joe” program on MSNBC, when he called the NSC program a “rampant abuse” involving NSA “tapping into their (Americans’) online chats, their online calls of every sort.” He added that the government’s objective was to “enable the NSA to monitor every single conversation and every single form of human behavior anywhere in the world.” This is the exaggerated statement of an advocate, not the careful statement of a professional reporter. Greenwald stood by his story in a defensive blog on June 14 (http://www. guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/ jun/14/nsa-partisanship-propagandaprism), acknowledging he has “strong, candidly acknowledged opinions on surveillance policies.” Greenwald also maintained that “the claim that current NSA spying is legal is dubious in the extreme.” In fact, there is a strong case to be made that the NSA programs are legal, as Congress authorized them and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the government’s requests to collect data. Yet the silence in the journalistic community about Greenwald’s advocacy journalism, and his exaggerations in print and in his TV appearances, was deafening in the weeks immediately after the story broke. It is true that the Guardian doesn’t hold itself to the professional standards of objectivity that the professional American press embraces. But isn’t there a responsibility on the part of the American press to alert readers that they are reading the work of an advocate? James Rainey in the Los Angeles Times was one of the first to raise the issue of Greenwald’s advocacy role and that was June 18, several weeks into the story. GJR raised the issue in its enewsletter published June 21 and David Gregory fully joined the discussion confronting Greenwald on NBC’s Meet the Press show two days later.
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But Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times’ Public Editor, was less worried about Greenwald’s advocacy than the dismissive way that the Times referred to him as a “blogger.” To Sullivan, a journalist is anyone “who understands, at a cellular level, and doesn’t shy away from, the adversarial relationship between government and press.” To Sullivan, Greenwald, the advocate, seems to have this somewhat mystical “cellular level” of understanding. Greenwald certainly is a journalist and he should not be prosecuted as some have suggested. But the press should have pointed out that he is not abiding by the news reporter’s professional ethic of impartiality – the kind of impartiality one can expect on the front page of the Times, for example. In short, the programs Greenwald disclosed probably are legal and are not as invasive as he claimed. Nor is it clear that the disclosure is as historic as Greenwald maintains. A USA Today story from 2006 disclosed most of the details of the telephone data collection. And the government has disclosed that it only sought warrants to analyze the telephone data in about 300 cases last year. Overall, the government claims the NSA programs have helped deter 50 terrorist attacks worldwide. The press’ shortcomings aren’t limited to one side of the NSA debate. The portrayal of leaker Snowden as a high school dropout with a pole-dancing girlfriend was absurd. Jack Shafer in Reuters made a good point about the demonization of whistleblowers (http://blogs.reuters. com/jackshafer/2013/06/18/snowdenversus-the-dragons/), although the stories about Snowden aren’t in the same league as those planted by President Nixon’s men about Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame. The press similarly has left out perspective and nuance in its coverage of the subpoenas of Associated Press reporters’ phone records. The
government subpoenaed the records to track down the person who leaked information that reportedly jeopardized a double agent who was trying to locate the leading al-Qaida bomb maker. Readers might be forgiven if they came away from press accounts thinking that there is a First Amendment right of a government official to leak classified information, that there was a First Amendment right for a journalist to protect a confidential source and that the Justice Department investigation was singling out the press for tough treatment. None of those conclusions would be correct. Actually, attorney general guidelines put the press in a favored position. In the run-of-the-mill case, prosecutors could subpoena phone and business records early in an investigation. The AG guidelines require prosecutors to first try to obtain the information from other sources, which prosecutors said they tried to do in the AP case by interviewing 500 persons and reviewing tens of thousands of documents before subpoenaing the reporters’ records. Another fact missing from most press accounts is that there is no First Amendment right of a government official to leak classified information. Rather than a right, it is a crime. There are some protections for whistleblowers, but to be a whistleblower one has to be
disclosing illegality or rampant abuse. That certainly wasn’t true in the AP case. Given the probable legality of the NSA data collection program, Snowden likely cannot claim whistleblower protection. Any pretense that he could was blown away by his disclosure of national security secrets involving China and dalliance with Russia. Nor is there a First Amendment right of journalists to protect their confidential sources, even though most journalists wish there were. In lieu of a First Amendment right, most states have recognized a statutory or court-created privilege. But there is no federal shield law to protect reporters or confidential sources in federal leak investigations or other federal grand jury investigations. The subpoenas of AP reporters’ telephone and travel records have led to a renewed call to pass a federal shield law. One would hardly know from press reports, however, that such a law would not apply in most national security cases, such as the AP leak. Nor would it have applied in the NSA case if Snowden had tried to remain under cover. A number of journalism organizations, including the Society for Professional Journalists and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), have endorsed a federal shield law
without qualification, despite these limitations. There is almost no consideration or press coverage of the limitations or the dangers of a federal shield law. For example, does the press want to let Congress decide who counts as a journalist? And does the press want to approach Congress as a supplicant, knowing that the same Congress that gives can also take away? A journalistic cliché that has littered all of the coverage of these national security stories is that the government’s NSA surveillance and subpoenas lack “transparency.” Who would think intelligence operations were supposed to be transparent? One saving grace of the coverage of the NSA and AP stories is that they have called the public’s attention to important issues that need to be fully debated – issues that involve the intersection of privacy, security, liberty and a free press. Even though the NSA programs and AP subpoenas are almost certainly legal, they are incredibly broad and may be evidence that we are too willing to surrender freedom for security. But for the Congress and the people to make wise decisions, they need a source of news that is reliable and nuanced. They haven’t gotten it from the biased and shallow press coverage of these important stories. n
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Anderson was buried in the cemetery of a Baptist church in Knoxville, where he had been born 45 years earlier. Josh Flory
The tragic end of Paul Y. Anderson Paul Y. Anderson isn’t a household name like Woodward and Bernstein. But Anderson’s Teapot Dome stories in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch were to the first half of the 20th century what the Watergate stories were to the last half. At the time of Anderson’s suicide, a decade after the Teapot Dome disclosures, the New Republic blamed Joseph Pulitzer II’s Post-Dispatch and its famed managing editor, O.K. Bovard, for mistreating Anderson. That claim is contested by a previously unreported letter provided to GJR’s St. Louis editor, Terry Ganey. It provides a new take on the sad end of the famous reporter – and a reminder of a day when the Post-Dispatch was at the center of Washington reporting.
by Terry Ganey
If it hadn’t been for a doctor’s order that sent Charles Ross home to recuperate, we probably wouldn’t know as much as we do now about the demise of Paul Y. Anderson, one of the greatest reporters in the history of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Forced to take a few days off from his job as the editor of the newspaper’s editorial page, Ross had time to compose a five-page typewritten letter describing the tragic arc of Anderson’s storied career, and how the newspaper’s management, including publisher Joseph Pulitzer II and managing editor Oliver K. Bovard, attempted to salvage it.
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University of Missouri School of Journalism Paul Y. Anderson
“They did, all of us did, everything for him that was humanly possible to do,” Ross wrote. “Suffice it that Paul refused – or was unable – to bring himself under control. Certainly he was given every opportunity to do so.” In the end, before turning on himself, Anderson would turn on Bovard and Pulitzer, too, at least according to Ross. Written 75 years ago, Ross’ letter came at the end of a year of major changes at the Post-Dispatch, which by 1938 had achieved national journalistic prominence thanks to Pulitzer’s support, Bovard’s management and Anderson’s legwork. That year began with Anderson’s dismissal. In August, Bovard resigned. And in December, Anderson took his own life with an overdose of sleeping pills. Books about Pulitzer and Bovard have documented Anderson’s alcoholism as the reason for his firing. Now more details about the troubles that plagued him near the end of his career – and how the Post-Dispatch attempted to deal with them – have emerged from documents saved by Aloysia Pietsch Hamalainen, the former office manager of the PostDispatch bureau in Washington, D.C. The papers include memos, letters and reports. Some of the documents show up in other collections, such as the papers of Joseph Pulitzer II in the Library of Congress. But others, such as Ross’ letter, have come to light for the first time. Dated Dec. 20, 1938, the correspondence from Ross – who later became Harry S Truman’s press secretary – is most valuable. It was written by a man who had worked side by side with Anderson on some of the newspaper’s biggest stories. Ross sometimes covered for Anderson when he couldn’t do his work – and, as Anderson’s colleague and supervisor, Ross sometimes found himself “in the embarrassing position of having the confidence of both sides.” The letter, addressed to Bruce Bliven, the editor of the New Republic, was written in response to an editorial note about Anderson’s death that appeared that month in the
magazine under the headline, “A Great Reporter Dies.” The editorial said Anderson had left the Post-Dispatch because of “a needless and trivial misunderstanding” between him and Bovard, “and two hot-tempered men impulsively broke off a happy relation of many years’ standing.” The editorial went on to say such an incident would be avoided by rules being developed by the Newspaper Guild “against unilateral, arbitrary action by employers.” The point of Ross’ letter was that the New Republic’s account was “almost wholly erroneous.” There was no misunderstanding between Anderson and Bovard, a managing editor of great renown. “Paul’s dismissal,” Ross wrote, “was the result of frequent and protracted absences from duty over a period of five years or longer. To say that these lapses were due to drunkenness would oversimplify the matter, for Paul’s drinking was both cause and effect. Unless you knew Paul, I could not, short of a book beginning with his boyhood in Tennessee, hope to make his weakness clear. I give you my word that there was never a man more generously, more patiently, treated by an employer than was Paul by the Post-Dispatch management.” And for good reason. Anderson was considered one of the greatest journalists of his time. For most of his 24 years with the Post-Dispatch, Anderson had filed compelling stories that beat the competition and sold newspapers. And for some time, the publisher and the editor held out hope that he could do so once again. ANDERSON’S WORTH In 1931, when the American Mercury’s Samuel Tait Jr. reflected on the lofty status of the Post-Dispatch, he singled out Anderson. “The PostDispatch might perhaps get along without Anderson, but it would not be the paper it is by a long, long way,” Tait wrote. “In almost every one of the achievements which have lifted it out of the gumbo, he has done a large share of the lifting.” H.L. Mencken used the editorial
page of the Baltimore Sun to call Anderson “one of the finest journalists in the country.” Anderson risked his life to get news. His investigations put people in prison. His byline appeared over the major stories of the era: the Scopes trial in Dayton, Tenn., and the Leopold and Loeb murder trial in Chicago. “His positive genius for reporting and writing put him in a class almost by himself,” Bovard had written to Pulitzer in 1927 when they dwelt on the topic of Anderson’s salary. “He is the ideal type of analytical reporter who gets all the salient facts and presents them in such a way as to give the dullest reader their relative values, and in a way to stir him to appreciate what he is reading, as contrasted with the more recorder type, with whom the lives of news editors are cursed, and who see only the surface indications.” When Bovard sent Pulitzer the payroll records of Ross and Anderson, he wrote, “I think Anderson is really worth a good deal more than his present figure, and I have no doubt he could command more in the open market.” Anderson was involved in the first two Pulitzer prizes the PostDispatch won for news reporting. In 1927, the Post-Dispatch’s John T. Rogers won the prize for stories that resulted in the resignation of a federal judge in the face of impeachment on corruption charges. The newspaper gave Anderson and Ross $500 each for their work contributing to that investigation. In 1929, Anderson won the reporting prize for his investigation of what happened to $2.7 million in bonds that were part of a slush fund in the “Teapot Dome” scandal. Anderson first grappled with the story in 1922, and stayed with it on and off for six years. His work exposed what had gone on during the Warren Harding administration, when lucrative leases to rich government oil reserves were turned over to private companies. Continued on next page
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Anderson had exposed the “Watergate” of his time. The Pulitzer Prize included a $1,000 award for Anderson, who earlier had received a $2,500 bonus from the Post-Dispatch for “general excellence.” In the 1930s, with the country in the depths of the Depression, the paper annually paid Anderson more than $16,000, which according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics would have the purchasing power of $223,000 today. WITNESS TO VIOLENCE According to “Never Been a Time,” Harper Barnes’ book about the 1917 East St. Louis, Ill., race riots, Anderson witnessed the deaths of more than a dozen AfricanAmericans who had been lynched or shot. A special U.S. House committee that later investigated the riots said Anderson reported “what he saw without fear of consequences” and despite running “a daily risk of assassination.” Barnes’ book described Anderson as “emotionally erratic, tough but brittle, given to bitter moods.” It also said Anderson was already drinking heavily, which was not unusual for newspapermen of the time, “but he went about it with a relentless lack of joy.” Later working from the Washington, D.C., bureau of the Post-Dispatch, Anderson wrote about Army troops, with bayonets on their rifles, breaking up demonstrations of veterans seeking payment of military bonuses in the summer of 1932. “Paul Anderson heard an officer bark a command and then saw cavalrymen charge the crowd with drawn sabers,” according to “The Bonus Army” by Paul Dickson and Thomas Allen. “Men, women and children fled shrieking across the broken ground,” Anderson wrote in a story that appeared in the Baltimore Sun. By then, Anderson’s copy was being shared with other newspapers, something Pulitzer had suggested to Bovard as a way of appeasing Anderson, who wanted wider exposure
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Paul Y. Anderson in 1932. Described by Oswald Garrison Villard as “the greatest detective-reporter,” alcoholism would be Anderson’s Achilles heel. on the East Coast. Anderson also was contributing articles regularly to the Nation and other national magazines, something Bovard and Pulitzer had approved in 1927, although the managing editor feared the additional work would affect his reporter’s performance. “Anderson, as you know, is intense and conscientious and not the kind to do anything with his left hand,” Bovard wrote to Pulitzer. The editor feared for Anderson’s health, and mentioned a breakdown the reporter had suffered that “remains as a warning against overexertion.” Among the documents included in the trove assembled by Hamalainen is a telegram from Bovard sent to Anderson in early 1937 advising him to take a doctor’s advice and “knock off 10 days or two weeks, at the end
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of which time I should hope you will be in good working form.” CHILDHOOD BITTERNESS Anderson was born in 1893 in Knoxville, Tenn., and at age 3 his father was killed in an industrial accident. Edmund Lambeth, a journalism professor who wrote a chapter about Anderson in a volume on journalists for the “Dictionary of Literary Biography,” believes the death of Anderson’s father played a role in the reporter’s later work as a muckraker. Lambeth suspected that anger and bitterness over the loss of his father generated “much of the energy that was later to be channeled into long hours of investigative reporting.” Although he never finished high school, Anderson worked his way up into reporting positions at the
Knoxville Journal, the St. Louis Times and the St. Louis Star. He joined the staff of the Post-Dispatch just when Bovard was fashioning it into a crusading newspaper. At about the same time, Bovard hired Ross to open the newspaper’s first bureau in Washington, D.C. Ross, a childhood friend of Harry Truman, had been teaching journalism in the first school of its kind at the University of Missouri. Anderson tried to persuade the newspaper to send him to Washington, too, and when his request was rejected, Anderson quit and went there on his own as a freelancer. Anderson’s performance there convinced Bovard to rehire him to work with Ross and Raymond P. Brandt, who had joined the bureau in 1923. Brandt, who had been one of Ross’ students at MU, took over the bureau in 1934, when Pulitzer named Ross to replace Clark McAdams as editorial page editor. Documents and memos in Hamalainen’s possession show that during the time Ross and Brandt ran the bureau, the Post-Dispatch management made several attempts to help Anderson deal with alcoholism. According to Ross’s letter to Bliven, Anderson would have been fired five years before the fact by any other publication. “Paul’s retention by the Post-Dispatch in spite of his notorious neglect of duty was a source of constant wonderment to all his colleagues in Washington who knew anything about his relations with the Post-Dispatch,” Ross wrote. Anderson’s frequent absences were explained to the main office as “a result of a nervous collapse – which, in a sense, was true,” Ross wrote. “I recall reporting one such collapse to O.K. Bovard, and his orders were to get Paul, at office expense and whatever expense, into the best possible hands at once, for as long a time as might be necessary for a cure.” In 1937, according to Ross, Pulitzer made a special trip to Washington to tell Anderson that his fate was in his hands, that the PostDispatch wanted him to stay on and that Pulitzer personally wanted him to remain. “This was after a number of
bad sprees that had kept Paul out of our paper for weeks at a time.” According to Ross, Pulitzer told Anderson that if his conduct again made his work unsatisfactory to Bovard, Anderson’s dismissal would automatically go into effect. On Dec. 1, 1937, Bovard sent Anderson a letter saying his lack of performance had forced him to suspend Anderson with pay until Pulitzer returned from a foreign trip. “It is with reluctance that I do this, but there is no other course open to me,” Bovard wrote. “The paper has need of the services of every man in the Washington bureau every day at this time, and I must of course think of the paper first in this situation.” DISMISSAL AND SUICIDE At the beginning of 1938, in response to instructions, Brandt sent detailed memos to Pulitzer and Bovard outlining Anderson’s absences, and instances in which drinking interfered with Anderson’s work during the previous two years. Brandt concluded that Anderson had missed “somewhere between 12 and 20 weeks.” “It is my personal observation that he suffers illness only when he has been drinking,” Brandt wrote to Pulitzer. When Pulitzer returned from a trip abroad, the automatic dismissal contained in the warning of a year earlier went into effect. “A good many of us – friends of Paul’s – felt that the shock of his dismissal might save him from himself, and it did, for a while, but only for a while,” Ross wrote. Beginning Feb. 28, Anderson went to work in the Washington bureau of the St. Louis Star-Times. His byline also appeared regularly over weekly pieces he filed with the Nation. But his firing seemed to deepen his bitterness. “Paul’s malice after his dismissal went to great lengths,” Ross’ letter said. “Paul turned on Bovard after his dismissal and put it out in Washington that he had been fired ‘by a Communist.’ Later, after Bovard’s resignation, Paul spread it around town, and around the country, that
both he and Bovard were the victims of a Tory publisher. There was nothing further from the truth.” On July 29, 1938, Bovard resigned, citing differences with Pulitzer over philosophy and financial cuts Pulitzer had imposed. Although the two men had worked together for many years, the distance between them had grown during the Depression and over the policies of President Franklin Roosevelt. Pulitzer thought the recovery program tended too much toward socialism, while Bovard believed it didn’t go far enough. Three days after Bovard resigned, Anderson let loose in the Star-Times, contending the Post-Dispatch had abandoned its position as “a great liberal newspaper.” Anderson said it began when Ross replaced McAdams in 1934 as editor of the editorial page. “McAdams remained devoted to the aims of the New Deal,” Anderson wrote. “His employers turned against it, and in 1936 the paper supported (Republican presidential nominee Alf) Landon.” Writing in a column in the Nation, Anderson contended the Post-Dispatch had “shifted so far to the right that the masthead bearing its founder’s ‘platform’ is virtually suspended in space.” Benjamin Reese, the city editor, succeeded Bovard. Shortly afterward, Reese and Brandt exchanged memos that reflected a belief that opinion had been seeping into the bureau’s news reporting. “The fact that there is to be no more editorializing in the Washington news should increase the effectiveness and prestige of the Post-Dispatch and the Washington bureau,” Brandt wrote on Aug. 15. In his response three days later, Reese replied: “We are moving along with only one change: Mr. Bovard has retired and we have closed ranks. The only change in policy is that we will not editorialize in the news.” That fall, Anderson attempted suicide by remaining in a closed garage with his car’s engine running. He was rescued by friends. Continued on the next page
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Private papers paint fuller picture of legendary reporter by Terry Ganey In 1976, Aloysia Hamalainen went to work in the Washington bureau and eventually became its office manager extraordinaire. Her maiden name was Aloysia Pietsch (pronounced peach) then, and as how everyone in the bureau was addressed by last name, that’s how she was known even after she married. By then, Raymond Brandt had retired and had died. But sometime after Hamalainen took her post, Brandt’s nephew came in with papers that had been found among his property. “These papers were removed from the office when Brandt retired and were out of the office for 20 to 30 years,” Hamalainen recalled. “They were private papers that Brandt brought home because he apparently didn’t want anybody else to see them.” In addition to Charles Ross’ letter to Bruce Bliven, among the papers is a brief response from the New Republic editor. “I can only say that I regret deeply that I didn’t have this information in the office when we wrote our few lines about Paul Anderson,” Bliven wrote. (Ross died of a heart attack in the White House Dec. 5, 1950, while serving as Harry S Truman’s press secretary. Ross’ papers are housed at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., but this exchange between Ross and Bliven over Anderson’s death is not among them.) Brandt’s papers are kept at the State Historical Society of Missouri in Columbia, but the memos that were traded between him and Reese are not part of that collection. Neither is the correspondence between Brandt
and a Memphis State University student who had written in 1965 to ask about Anderson. The letters are among the papers preserved by Hamalainen. The student was writing a biographical sketch on Anderson, and he pestered Brandt with questions: “If possible, I would like to know what type of reporter he was, as seen by his co-workers. Also, how he went about getting a story and what he did with it after he had gotten it. In addition, what you would consider to be his biggest assets and his biggest shortcomings.” A few days later, Brandt sent his response: “I regret that I do not have the time to give you adequate information about the complex, contradictory character of the late Paul Y. Anderson as a reporter and as a person. Several years ago, a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism, after more than a year’s study of Anderson’s writing and interviews with persons who had known him, concluded the true story could best be told in a novel.” n
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Sam O’Neal, Anderson’s colleague in the Star-Times bureau, later wrote that, since joining the newspaper, Anderson “had sought earnestly to rid himself of the alcoholic habit” and attempted the suicide after a relapse. “He told associates frequently since then that if he finally found he could not control his desire for alcohol, he finally would destroy himself,” O’Neal wrote. On Dec. 5, Missouri Attorney General Roy McKittrick sued Anderson to recover $5,817 in delinquent income taxes and penalties. A day later, Anderson, 45, told his housekeeper he was tired of living and took an overdose of pills. He died two hours later at a hospital. But Anderson was writing until the end. The day before his death, the last of his four-part series of interviews with Thomas E. Dewey, then a crime-fighting New York prosecutor, appeared in the StarTimes. The same Dec. 10 issue of the Nation that contained his death notice also published a column he had written, titled, “Economics for Congressmen.” The eulogies given for Anderson still have meaning today. At a memorial service in Washington, D.C., Sen. George Norris, a progressive Republican from Nebraska, said it was “a loss that will be felt generations to come, because he passed away when the world needs more than ever the fighters for the under privileged and the victims of the abuse of power by those who control our economic life.” One letter writer to the Nation wrote: “In a day of a prostituted and debauched press, Paul Anderson and the papers which opened their columns to his talents stand out as beacon lights.” Lambeth, a professor emeritus at the MU School of Journalism, said Anderson’s career was noteworthy because it kept investigative reporting alive in the 1920s and 1930s. Later investigative journalists cited Anderson as a precedent for their own work. n
The most important civil rights demonstration in St. Louis history was the Jefferson Bank demonstration 50 years ago this summer. St. Louis’ media were on the wrong side of history. Two veterans of the journalism community look back at this embarrassing episode in St. Louis media history.
The Jefferson Bank — St. Louis’ Selma by Roy Malone
A protest 50 years ago this summer – beginning on Aug. 30, 1963 – pitted angry St. Louis business and civic leaders against young organizers of the Committee of Racial Equality who demanded more hiring of blacks by employers, especially the Jefferson Bank. By the time the demonstrations stopped, and when legal actions ended almost four years later, about 500 persons had been arrested in civil disobedience actions at the bank and other businesses. There was no violence, but there was a sea change in hiring of blacks. CORE leaders called it the most effective struggle for equal rights in the city’s history. Jefferson Bank had two blacks among its 80 employees; one was a custodian and the other a messenger. It stubbornly refused to negotiate and got a restraining order against interference by picketers and sit-ins. Over the next few weeks the bank hired five more employees, all whites. Violation of the court order led to 19 CORE members being jailed, convicted and sentenced to long terms and heavy fines. One of those arrested was Norman Seay, a teacher and longtime civil rights activist. He said before the bank moved two blocks south, to Washington and Jefferson Avenues, from Franklin and Jefferson, it somehow got rid of its two black bank tellers. “I guess by the process of osmosis those black tellers were eliminated,” he said.
Acts of civil disobedience were new to St. Louis. The demonstrations at the bank started two days after 250,000 people joined the March on Washington, demanding passage of civil rights legislation. Other civil rights groups, such as the local NAACP and Urban League, shunned CORE’s tactics. A key leader in the bank demonstrations was William L. Clay, a young black city alderman. He received the longest of the sentences: 270 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. He often was criticized in the news media for breaking the law, and unsuccessful attempts were made to oust him as alderman. In 1968, he was elected Missouri’s first black congressman, serving 32 years. Clay, in 1963, had published a 27-page survey called “Anatomy of an Economic Murder.” It contained data from major businesses in St. Louis on how many employees they had, and how many were blacks. He mailed letters of inquiry on his aldermanic stationery and said the results would be turned over to the mayor for his consideration in formulating a fair employment policy. The survey showed 37 blacks out of 7,325 workers at breweries; 69 blacks out of 3,107 sales and office jobs at five department stores; 51 blacks among 1,505 at nine dairies; 279 blacks (most in menial jobs) among 1,303 soft-drink workers; 277 blacks (99 percent in minimum-wage jobs) of 5,133 at 16 banks; 22 blacks out of 2,141 at seven insurance companies; and 42 blacks out of 2,550 employees at the two major newspapers. None of the five inner-city car dealers had a black salesman or mechanic. Neither of two industrial firms (each with 900 employees)
had a single black on the payroll. No blacks worked as salespersons in downtown department stores, and no black drivers for beer, dairy and softdrink companies. The electric, gas and telephone companies, employing thousands, did not hire black linemen, telephone operators, meter readers, stenographers or clerks. Clay was criticized for the manner in which he got the data. The survey was embarrassing to the firms and to St. Louis, which had worked hard to polish its image as a progressive city in race relations. While Jefferson Bank, which received city revenues, refused to change its hiring policy, other employers did, some out of fear they might be targeted by CORE. Black employment started to rise, and CORE gained more backers for its protests. One tally showed 1,300 blacks had gained jobs as a direct result of the demonstrations. The bar unsuccessfully tried to disbar two lawyers working with CORE. But a third CORE lawyer was disbarred on an allegation he thought was settled years earlier. Police had spies infiltrate CORE to snitch on the group’s plans. Clay said of the news coverage: “The media was shameful in its biased coverage of the Jefferson Bank protests. The Post-Dispatch, Globe-Democrat, KMOX-TV, radio and the rest of the media became front organizations for the Establishment.” He said the media, except for the black weeklies, called the demonstrations a “disruptive attempt by a small group of radicals seeking to harm the solid advancement in the city’s race relations,” and were trying to intimidate businesses into hiring unqualified blacks. Continued on page 35
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Facing up to a 50-year anniversary — and the fallout by Michael D. Murray Editor’s note: A fuller version of this account appears in “Prime Time Pioneers” © Michael D Murray, 2013. Published here with permission. Like the rest of the country, the St. Louis community faced serious civil rights challenges 50 years ago, including the most visible, beginning Aug. 30, 1963, often referred to as the start of the Jefferson Bank demonstrations. There still is considerable debate about how the fight for civil rights was won in the Midwest because, unlike many locales (particularly those further south), while there had been powerful pleas for a national response to entrenched systems of institutionalized injustice and calls for economic equity, there were no major unlawful acts such as assassinations, no school or church bombings, no radical confrontations with fire hoses or vicious dogs, and no defiant stands in a schoolhouse door. So there were no “freedom rides” to counter major symbolic gestures of injustice in which people feared for their lives. But there had been a dearth of black employment, highlighted by a study of hiring practices in St. Louis. And when former U.S. congressman William Clay later wrote a book about civil rights of that era, he described in detail the atmosphere that prompted a report he wrote on employment practices. Clay was an ideal source to conduct a study of hiring practices because he was serving as an alderman for the 26th Ward and had participated in a series of protracted peaceful demonstrations in conjunction with civil rights protests. Just four months before the Jefferson Bank demonstrations began, Clay published a 27-page statistical report showing the state of local black unemployment. That report became what he later called a blueprint for identifying companies with discriminatory hiring, and it demonstrated that St. Louis, in spite of a reputation as a center of racial harmony, was viewed by many local
William L. Clay
black citizens as a continuing bastion of “entrenched racial discrimination.” Over the years, another protester who also went to jail, Norman Seay, explained how the demonstrations began, when a few black bank employees – tellers at the bank – were not rehired when the bank changed its location from Jefferson and Franklin avenues to a few blocks south, to Jefferson and Washington. Demands to hire blacks were resisted, and the bank received a court order against protesters. Clay consistently challenged newspaper reports about the numbers of people involved in the demonstrations, especially when one protest was reported as having become unruly. At the start of the protests, for example, news accounts
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reported 100 participants blocking doors and then surging inside the bank. Seay, who later became a standard-bearer at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, pointed out that TV coverage showed the number of demonstrators to be far in excess – closer to double that number. In terms of Clay’s report, the fact that he had used aldermanic stationery in sending out the survey to gather the initial information for use in providing results became a point of criticism by some, one he labeled a “smokescreen” for the debate that should have been taking place, revolving around the issues of racial discrimination through unfair hiring practices. Both daily newspapers publishing at
that time, the St. Louis Globe Democrat and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, criticized the methodology of the report. The means by which the information was gathered was viewed as suspect and labeled “unethical” because of the implication it might have been regarded as sanctioned by the St. Louis mayor’s office, which was not the case. But Clay nonetheless “pulled no punches,” showing fewer than 300 blacks (99 percent of those reportedly working in minimum-wage jobs) out of 5,133 employed at 16 banks. Blacks spent $10 million buying cars, even though there were no black mechanics or salespersons employed at automotive businesses. The report stated there were just 42 blacks out of 2,550 employees working at St. Louis’ two major papers. And of those employed, only three were in “white collar” jobs: a reporter, a secretary and a stenographer. St. Louis’ media were criticized for characterizing the growing dispute at the bank in general terms, as a simple disagreement. Clay pointed to emerging acts of civil disobedience over hiring practices at local financial institutions, which he said had again been minimized by the press as a limited dispute; in this case, just one between a small bank and
even smaller civil rights organizations – particularly the Committee of Racial Equality (CORE), which proactively targeted institutions lagging in black hiring, in spite of community investments. In his retrospective book, Clay insisted the St. Louis media had “run amok” in reporting the events. He pointed out that from Aug. 30, 1963, to Jan. 27, 1964, the Post-Dispatch published 46 articles and pieces of commentary about the protests, with almost 30 appearing on front pages. Too, he noted that the nature of the protests was mischaracterized by headlines and stories that brought the numbers of demonstrators into question. He also was critical of reports that he said unfairly referred to demonstrators as being “rowdy,” “unruly,” involving “extremists” or “misguided,” indicating that this left an impression on those who did not know any better. The reported numbers of participants, Clay said, had been downgraded from headcounts that easily could have been fact-checked. He maintained that the newspapers presented an overall distorted picture of events as they happened, depicting demonstrators as irresponsible radicals.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
He also pointed to white media managers as the culprit for much of this deception due to their newsroom oversight, again suggesting limited opportunities for blacks, predicated by all key editorial decisions made by a small group of older white males. At one point in his report, Clay resurrected the words of Post-Dispatch founder Joseph Pulitzer about his newspaper’s mission, first published April 19, 1907: “Its [Post-Dispatch] cardinal principles … will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption … never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty.” Clay credited the paper for having lived up to lofty goals as they applied to reporting racially controversial topics – until it came to providing the facts about this story. In its anniversary issue, at the 125-year mark in 2003, the PostDispatch labeled the Jefferson Bank demonstrations “A Catalyst for Change.” The value of the initial protests, at least for many leaders in the white community, may have been that it forced consideration of broad-based economic conditions and offered historic perspective, as when Clay discussed how, even during the Civil War, black males had – while functioning as slaves – some form of work. Afterward, economic conditions created a subterranean economy in which blacks could make limited gains but were unable to share in the results on an equal footing. n
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Red Smith: “Tomorrow will be better” American Pastimes: The Very Best of Red Smith
by Andrew Smith Collections of old newspaper columns often are painful to read. With time, context and currency have faded, and observations that once seemed fresh or witty now seem trite and stale. One happy exception, however, is “American Pastimes,” the recently released compilation of work by sports columnist Red Smith, spanning his work for the St. Louis Star covering Dizzy Dean to 1934 to his final column for the New York Times, written just days before he died in January 1982. More than three decades after that last column, any paper, any magazine, any website would be thrilled to publish work that sparkles and moves like this. I became a reader of news in the 1970s. I would read sections of the Times as my father discarded them. Fortunately for me, he didn’t share my interest in sports, so that was what I often got first. My day, therefore, often began with Red Smith (and got steadily more dreary from there). As editor Daniel Okrent says in his excellent introduction, “Smith was tall enough to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the finest prose artists in 20th century American literature.” His subject was ultimately unimportant and his touch often was light, but what he crafted on deadline was memorable and powerful. Okrent has organized the book both chronologically and by subject matter. Smith adored baseball, boxing and fishing in particular, so long stretches of columns are sorted into sections on those topics. Other columns are divided into sections by decade, and they show his versatility. Smith moved from the Philadelphia Record to the New York Herald Tribune in 1945. In those dark days before ESPN made sports (and talking about sports, and talking about talking about sports) all too available, the Herald Tribune was one of the loudest megaphones a writer could have. The top New York papers had influence as far as the Mississippi River – and when none of the major sports leagues had teams on the West Coast, that megaphone essentially covered the entire sporting world. Or so New York editors
Authors: Terence Smith, Walkter Wellesley “Red” Smith and Daniel Okrent Publisher: The Library of America, New York iBook: $14.99, 576 pages
must have thought, anyway. Smith had no portfolio. He covered no single sport and often made a point of looking at the periphery of the scene – that place where many good reporters find telling details. “An intense focus on the sideshow to the main event was essential to Smith’s craft,” Okrent notes. “Not the roaring cars hurtling around the Indianapolis Speedway, but the faces and clothing and refreshment choices of the crowd in the infield.” He displayed the beauty of finding your own story and telling it in your own voice. He didn’t love all sports. Despite his fascination with boxing, that most violent of all sports, he looked down on motor racing. He wrote disdainfully of “the sports car faith, a booming religion whose ritual includes human sacrifice,” as if that was never part of boxing’s attraction. Many of Smith’s columns about fishing are as much languid travelogues as they are about fishing. He takes us flyfishing in Beaverkill, near Roscoe, N.Y., and bass fishing all over the East Coast. These columns usually featured some dopey men facing off against dim-witted fish, and the victor was usually beside the point. In Martha’s Vineyard, for example, Smith tells us, “A guy would make a few fruitless casts, then thrust the butt of his rod into the sand and go light up a cigarette and tell some lies.” The point was just to be there. He was at his genius best when he married commentary to observation, as when he described the mayor of New York throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Ebbets Field: “Then he threw the ball, a weak little blooper that plopped
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almost unnoticed on the turf. By this time the band was parading to the flagpole, flanked by enough military to occupy Formosa.” He later quoted Dodgers manager Billy Herman arguing with the umpire: “You are a short word of AngloSaxon origin.” This is how to delete an expletive. Later, when the Mets (“those goldenhearted clowns of all creation”) became amazing in 1969, he captured the baseless optimism colored by cruel history that is true even now. He wrote about a true believer who “had been watching the Mets ever since they introduced the pratfall to baseball back in 1962.” Which makes his last line of the last game so delicious, after pitcher Jerry Koosman completed the win. “When it ended, Koosman was wearing his catcher like prayer beads.” He also knew the beauty of specificity. Writing about the first epic battle between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, in 1971, Smith wrote that “it was as though Joe Frazier had hit him with a baseball bat, Frank Howard model.” Not just a bat, but an awfully big one. It was a reference guaranteed to get a knowing smile from readers. So was the line from the rematch in Manila, that an Ali shot “sent Frazier reeling back on a stranger’s legs.” Smith often compared writing to being bled to death. He took to heart Nathaniel Hawthorne’s view that “easy reading is damn hard writing.” But in that very last column in 1982, he explained why he kept at it. “One of the beauties of this job is that there’s always tomorrow. Tomorrow things will be better.” It’s the journalist’s credo. n
Opening the Pentagon Papers by Scott Lambert Whistleblowers, leakers, and a battle between the working press and the government. James Goodale’s “Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles” tells a story that has just as much importance today as it did in 1972, when the battle for press freedom reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Goodale, the lead attorney for the New York Times during the Pentagon Papers case, gives a firsthand description from the Earl Caldwell case that became Branzburg v. Hayes to the culmination of the Pentagon Papers case, with the Supreme Court voting 6-3 to allow publication of the papers. In early 1972, the New York Times published a number of stories that chronicled the deception of the U.S. government regarding the war in Vietnam. The papers, many of them historical in nature, provided instances where the government lied to the public about what it was doing and documented the mistakes made in fighting the war in Vietnam. The U.S. government tried to enjoin the New York Times from publishing, saying that the papers were classified, and that publishing the papers would be a breach of national security. Goodale puts the reader in the boardrooms as the decisions to take this case to court are made. He explains the strategies and the mistakes that were made. The book moves at a surprisingly fast pace, with enough twists and turns
What stands out in this book are the parallels that can be drawn from the Pentagon Papers to today’s headlines. Goodale ends the book with a warning about President Barack Obama, writing that the current president is reminiscent of Nixon in many ways – and could be worse. to make the reader think he or she is a part of the case. The strength of Goodale’s book is the writing. Although he sometimes writes with a touch of arrogance and tends to name-drop, Goodale manages to give the reader an inside look at one of the most important media Supreme Court cases – and he does so in a way that makes the reader wonder what will happen next. Even though the book is nonfiction, it has wonderful characters, from Richard M. Nixon, the president who wants to take down the media, to the plucky lawyers from Goodale’s team who helped to win the case. Goodale writes with a storyteller’s clarity, building drama and making sure to delineate the good guys from the bad. He builds suspense with every legal decision made en route to the Supreme Court, and he also details the good and bad jobs done by the lawyers arguing the case on both sides. The only negative is the sometimes condescending tone that Goodale takes. Get past that and the book is a great read. What stands out in this book are the parallels that can be drawn from the Pentagon Papers to today’s headlines. Goodale ends the book with a warning
about President Barack Obama, writing that the current president is reminiscent of Nixon in many ways – and could be worse. He points out that Obama is currently indicting more U.S. citizens under the Espionage Act, the same charge the government tried Daniel Ellsburg with, than any other president in the country’s history. He warns that the current approach of many news organizations of bringing stories to the government first, before publishing, can become a major problem in the freedom of the press. He cautions at the same time that news feeds should become aware of the NSA spying on the public and the Department of Justice tapping the phones of the Associated Press. The Pentagon Papers case and Branzburg v. Hayes are two important Supreme Court cases for anyone involved in the press. Their importance, and the importance of First Amendment law, become even more critical as media try to find their footing in light of WikiLeaks and the government’s pursuit of all whistleblowers. Goodale’s book is a good way to become acquainted with this important history. n
Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles Author: James Goodale Publisher: CUNY Journalism Press, 2013 Paperback: $20, 260 pages Summer 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 29
Review Book traces ASNE’s efforts to advance newsroom diversity by Michael D. Murray Professor Gwyneth Mellinger has written a thoughtful, thorough account of the efforts of U.S. newspapers to achieve newsroom diversity through the work of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE). The book is published as part of the University of Illinois History of Communication series, edited by Robert McChesney and John Nerone. To demonstrate the extent to which prejudicial hiring practices were embedded in certain places, Mellinger begins her introduction to the book with a discussion of one response to President Harry Truman’s proposals to reform America with a mandate for fair employment practices, outlaw of the poll tax, integrating the military and making lynching a federal crime. The response by an outspoken segregationist, U.S. Sen. James O. Eastland of Mississippi, came in a speech to ASNE in the nation’s capital and emphasized a defense of Southern traditions, including a historical emphasis on an established racial hierarchy. Perhaps more telling was the emphasis Eastland placed on the kinship that privileged whites enjoyed in newsrooms across the nation by way of identity-based norms, including conscious hiring decisions by news managers, with a concluding statement: “It is your civil right to associate with, employ and work with whomever you please. Liberty is dead in this country when you are deprived of that right.” (p. 1) He extended his argument further by pointing out that, if a racial percentage of representation were present in journalism hiring practices, 10 percent of the nation’s news positions would be manned by minorities. To a large extent, this speech and that percentage of representation served as a point of departure for ASNE’s efforts to achieve a professional norm by which it would come closer to democratizing newsroom hiring. Mellinger, chair of the Department of Mass Media at Baker University, is an established journalism historian. She points out how the evolution in understanding about racial issues took place within a professional news context and how it
Chasing Newsroom Diversity: From Jim Crow to Affirmative Action Author: Gwyneth Mellinger Publisher: Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013 Hardcover: $25, 238 pages
paralleled society at large, in terms of congressional action and Supreme Court rulings about employer hiring practices concerning race, and later on gender and sexual orientation. The book addresses the intransigence of racism and discrimination in an organizational setting while the author presents many parallels in terms of American society at large. She shows how, in spite of improvements in voting rights, public accommodations and access to education, institutional progress would still be hampered – even with Civil Rights gains – as self-interest continued to trump fair play in preserving the status quo. To her credit, the author does a complete job of reviewing the status of the ASNE in terms of the background of those who addressed the group over time, including every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover, and various influential thought leaders both in and out of the news business, such as Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates. She relates the stories of many talented individuals who were limited by their identity-based differences and also carefully lays out the progression of ASNE organizational leadership with each of their philosophical underpinnings in movement toward achieving change. Using archival evidence, the book also
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explores the limitations of that organization in achieving diversity initiatives, begun as a corollary to civil rights in the 1960s even with a series of highly motivated and enlightened leaders, including Eugene Patterson at the St. Petersburg Times, who often championed demographic parity initiatives, and Loren Ghiglione, later a Northwestern professor and journalism school dean who was also uncompromising in continuing to target a broad range of multicultural diversity efforts. The first female president, Katherine Fanning of the Christian Science Monitor, and John Seigenthaler who followed, of USA TODAY, also are credited for continuing to fight for newsroom integration. Each attempt to make progress in the direction of inclusion is acknowledged, and the author details appointments of the organization’s first minority affairs director, Carl Morris, and the first African-American president, William Hilliard of the Portland Oregonian. The level of detail and number of telling anecdotes about what was taking place during different periods gives greater insight into the thought processes Continued on next page
‘We Steal Secrets’ shows history repeating itself by Tripp Frohlichstein They say life imitates art. In this case, life imitates life as portrayed in art in the documentary “We Steal Secrets.” It is the story of Julian Assange and Wikileaks, most of which takes place in 2010. It has many similarities to the story that has dominated recent news cycles of Edward Snowden, who revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has all of our phone records. Indeed, the events have eerie similarities. I watched “We Steal Secrets” expecting to see homage to the greatness of the man behind WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the movie, produced and directed by Alex Gibney, was far more objective than I anticipated. While it portrayed Assange’s efforts to publish national secrets as heroic, his personal life was revealed to be somewhat of a mess. How those two factors combined to affect his Wikileaks efforts is fascinating. Also revealed in the movie is the background of Bradley Manning, the Army private who, despite his low rank and personal struggles, had access to topsecret sensitive information regarding the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as diplomatic communications worldwide. Manning definitely was
Continued from previous page
of those looking to ASNE for leadership. On occasion, reacting to some event or stereotypes as at the 2001 ASNE meeting; leaders were left to respond to a convention performance by the comedy troupe Capital Steps. The troupe offered a derogatory Chinese skit and a blackface impersonation of Diana Ross. As a result, Gilbert Bailon, now editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who would lead both a coalition of media organizations with multicultural concerns and ASNE, is quoted as saying: “I was sitting next to Rick Rodriguez, ironically, and we both
portrayed as a troubled young man. Other people interviewed include Adrian Lamo, a computer hacker who outed Manning, and Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA director. Assange was not interviewed after the film’s producer says he asked for $1 million to go on camera. The film moves along nicely, telling the story through interviews as well as graphically through transcripts. The effects are fine at first, but the attempt to give viewers a computer-like feel becomes tedious, almost cheesy. Too, the timeline is sometimes hard to follow. The movie uses all archive video of Assange, so his hair style and color constantly are changing, making it difficult to discern the timeline of actual events. Perhaps the most revealing part of the movie relates to charges of sexual assault filed against Assange by two women in Sweden. I always assumed those charges were trumped up due to his disclosure of U.S. secrets. It turns out there may be some legitimacy to the story. In fact, some speculate Assange may have used the outrage against Wikileaks in an attempt to deflect those charges. Then there is the loneliness and sexual confusion that may have been part of what motivated Manning to release tens of thousands of documents to Wikileaks. But does his apparent gender
identity confusion really matter in this story? That section felt more like TMZ than a documentary. What made the documentary -which details events from three years ago -- so interesting are the parallels to the current case of Snowden. In both cases, the U.S. government immediately attacked the leaker. Snowden and Manning have been labeled traitors. Assange was described in a Washington Times article as “aiding and abetting terrorists in their war against America.” (http://www.washingtontimes.com/ news/2010/dec/2/assassinate-assange/). In both cases, others have described the men as heroes. Also in both cases, the mainstream media that printed (or aired) the information got a pass from government accusations. They went after the leakers, not the publishers. And in both cases, it was a low-level person who had access to vast amounts of classified information. Manning was an Army private, and Snowden had a low-level job at government contractor Booz Allen. This would have been a decent documentary to watch had the recent NSA leaks not happened. However, it becomes more relevant in the shadow of current events. The similarities of the stories show that history indeed repeats itself. n
thought, ‘Wow, this is really over the top.’ Now, nobody stood up and said … ‘Stop this thing,’ nothing that dramatic, but there were some of us, particularly some of the minority editors who thought, ‘I really can’t believe they went that far.’ ” (p. 161) Mellinger provids a very useful and most informative case study of how one professional organization addressed some deeply embedded, institutionalized norms with social, political and cultural implications over an extended period of time – 50 years, with insight into the degree of difficulty it had in trying to dismantle them. The failure of ASNE to
achieve its goal of matching newsroom demographic diversity with that of the general population is not a happy story, but it is instructive. It shows that goodwill and good intentions do not always win out – and, in that respect especially, this book’s title is very well chosen as it reflects the ongoing effort to play catch-up in an attempt to alter what was so firmly established. The great irony of examining an organization of national news leadership representing an influential social organ and operating on behalf of fairness and free speech makes this story even more compelling. n
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Media’s sharp words leave deep cuts in society by Sharon Wittke When conservative pundit Bill O’Reilly called him “one of the biggest race-baiters in the country,” Eric Deggans turned the epithet into the title for his new book, “Race-Baiter: How the media wields dangerous words to divide a nation.” Deggans, a TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times, also is a contributor to NPR, CNN.com and the Huffington Post, and he has appeared on MSNBC’s “Countdown,” CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” PBS “News Hour,” and Fox New Channel’s “Fox and Friends” and “Hannity and Colmes.” His new book addresses the use of modern media’s powerful techniques to divide Americans by fueling fears, reinforcing prejudices and promoting hate while reaping huge profits and manipulating politicians. Deggans writes that mass media no longer are a uniting force in America, as was the case when three television networks each sought wide and diverse audiences, effectively creating a shared cultural dialogue. Conservative cable news channels use a “success-by-segmentation” strategy that demonizes other news outlets and feeds on deep-rooted fears to maintain their fiercely loyal audiences – and, along with right-wing radio and conservative Internet sites, create an illusory sense of perspective for viewers. In fact, they are all recycling the same limited ideas and opinions. Deggans writes that the popularity of cable TV news, radio talk shows and partisan online media further divide an already segmented population. But, he adds, the popularity of cable news is well substantiated. As an example, he cites MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell who, while speaking at a 2010 press reception, said the audience members have voted, and they want to watch political opinion shows rather than hard news. According to a 2011 Pew Center report, Deggans writes, when asked what first comes to mind when they think of a news organization, 63 percent of Americans will name a cable news network, mostly CNN and Fox. Only a third will name a broadcast network.
Race-Baiter: How the media wields dangerous words to divide a nation Author: Eric Deggans Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2012 Hardcover: $28, 228 pages Another factor driving the cable news boom is that it is easier and cheaper to fill the cable news stations with opinions rather than news. The book, written and published before the 2012 presidential election, discusses how news events involving African-Americans and other minorities are covered by partisan media in a manner that reinforces the racial biases of their niche audiences. Each chapter was thoroughly and painstakingly researched, and Deggans strongly supports his positions with ample documentation. One example is when MSNBC’s Al Sharpton galvanized the country with his coverage of the 2012 shooting death of unarmed African-American teenager Trayvon Martin by a Hispanic neighborhood watchman who claims he acted in self-defense. Deggans writes that the early work done by Sharpton and other journalists of color propelled the story to international attention. Divisive elements in the media subsequently dwelt on the fact Martin was wearing a “hoodie” and smoked marijuana – which, in the minds of some right-wing extremists, was enough justification for the shooter to act in self-defense. He also writes about U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Shirley Sherrod, who was vilified by the media, condemned by the NAACP and forced to resign her appointed position by the Obama administration because excerpts of a speech she delivered at an NAACP convention were cherry-picked by Tea Party activist Andrew Breitbart in his quest to portray Sherrod as a bigot. Other chapters cover Deggan’s insights about the propaganda techniques used by partisan media to gain and preserve viewership, how the media’s racialization of poverty fuels the conservative narrative that people are poor because they’re lazy
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and why the audience for hate radio, long dominated by angry ultra conservatives, is declining due to a changing demographic in America. Deggans has written an easy-to-read book about a difficult topic. He writes that many Americans think the election of President Obama heralded a post-racial era – but, in fact, race issues are more complex than ever because of partisan media that seeks to divide, rather than unite, the public. In his summary chapter, he describes today’s “media ecology,” in which people get their news from a host of websites, broadcast outlets and social media platforms, all outfitted with customized content suited to their own personal worldviews. There’s very little incentive for people to hear or read opinions that challenge their own beliefs. Deggans concludes that increased media literacy is the pathway to a real national conversation about race, prejudice and sexism. In the final pages of the book, he discusses the accomplishments of Media Matters and other groups that ferret out and correct misinformation propagated by conservative media. More of the author’s proposals for reversing polarization by expanding media awareness, such as a concerted effort to ensure media literacy programs are part of the curriculum in all public schools, would have been a welcome addition to this otherwise highly informative and entertaining book. America faces an insidious threat: the hyperpolarization of citizens who elect officials unwilling to compromise for fear of losing their jobs. Educating citizens about the very points Deggans made in “Race-Baiter’ – how big media profit by peddling hate and fear and why this phenomenon is eroding democracy – should be a national priority. n
Is he what Ailes the media?
Writer peels curtain back on Fox News chairman by Chris Burnett Roger Ailes, chairman of Fox News, is a man the media industry has learned to take seriously, even fear. Though much less wellknown to the public than his boss, Rupert Murdoch, his considerable talent and work ethic is responsible for building Fox into the undisputed leader of cable television, leading the cable ratings wars the past 12 years over rivals CNN and MSNBC. Zev Chafets’ “Roger Ailes: Off Camera” is the story of more than just Ailes’ command of Fox News and its on air-personalities, all of whom Ailes hired since setting up the network with Murdoch’s blessing (and money) 17 years ago. It’s also the tale of a tough small-town boy from Warren, Ohio, a declining factory town in northeastern Ohio. In fact, it is the first third of the book that I found the most compelling, because it explains why Ailes, astute as well as profane, became who he is. Chafets, who had unlimited access to the Fox chairman and others at the network, tells how Ailes got into many fights as a boy (something his workingclass father encouraged) despite the fact he has hemophilia, a blood disorder that made bruises not just painful but also potentially fatal. Chafets also relates how Ailes was devastated upon returning home at Christmas during his freshman year at Ohio University to find his home sold and his belongings discarded. “My mother was what you could call self-absorbed,” Ailes told Chafets in explaining his mother’s decision to leave his father and go West with another man. “She did what suited her.” Still, he remained close to his mother and stepfather, as well as to his natural father, the rest of their lives. Family and small-town values of hard work are paramount in Ailes’ world. It’s also tale of a man who took advantage of every break he got, from producing the Mike Douglas show for KYW-TV in Cleveland and Philadelphia, where he made key contacts in the entertainment industry, to being a political adviser to Republican presidential campaigns. Ailes has never shied away from
“Roger Ailes: Off Camera” Author: Zev Chafets Publisher: Penguin Books Hardcover: $26.95, 258 pages
political conservatism (he and conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh have a long-time professional relationship), yet he also counts liberals such as the Kennedy family and Barbara Walters as among his closest friends. Over the years, Chafets explains, Ailes would combine his political and corporate consulting with television production. He served key political consulting roles for presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Ailes is credited with counseling Reagan, who had looked old and confused in his first debate In the 1984 presidential campaign with Democrat Walter Mondale, to jab back in the second debate. Ailes candidly told the president the country was wondering whether he was past his prime. The result: Reagan came up with the quip, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” Reagan won reelection in a landslide. Chafets also shows what many liberals see as Ailes’ evil genius. In 1988, Chafets says Ailes was “the spine stiffener for the sometimes indecisive Bush,” directing a brilliant ad campaign that painted liberal Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, Bush’s Democratic opponent, as soft on crime for furloughing a convicted murderer, Willie Horton. In the early 1990s, as Ailes transitioned out of politics into being a broadcast executive, liberals looked at him warily and have fought back against his tight rein at Fox News, which he took over after a short stint at CNBC. Most readers, especially Fox News
viewers, will find stories behind Ailes’ hiring and relationships with such Fox stars as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Megyn Kelly the most compelling part of the book. For example, readers learn how O’Reilly and Hannity, Fox’s biggest stars, don’t speak to one another, although their offices are on the same floor. Chafets also relates a story of the importance Ailes places upon loyalty in explaining his firing of financial analyst Jim Cramer, now with CNBC, for discussing another job opportunity with a Fox rival and being caught publicly criticizing Ailes. The book is a quick read and is filled with plenty of admiring anecdotes from those who have worked with, or known, Ailes. Those anecdotes, many filled with stories of Ailes’ kindness and dedication, strike me as being the book’s weakest portions, for I suspect many are telling these stories out of a desire to curry favor with the powerful Fox chairman. Ailes, rotund and balding at age 73, is under no illusion that the reviews will stay positive after he’s dead. He has no intention of retiring, but he says he knows he has at most another decade to live. He plans to write his memoirs and spend as much time as he can with his only child, a son, Zac, who is just entering his teen years. “Right now, everybody thinks I’m the greatest guy in the world,” Ailes says. “The eulogies will be great, but people will be stepping over my body before it gets cold.” The legacy – the founding of a network from scratch devoted to the conservative 50 percent of Americans, and its commercial success under his leadership – a will almost certainly remain. n
Summer 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 33
‘Cronkite’s War’ — and that’s the way it is by Paul Van Slambrouck That famed broadcaster Walter Cronkite was regarded as “the most trusted man in America” probably says as much about the America of his time as it does about Cronkite. Journalists today have fallen far from the grace he enjoyed. According to a recent Gallup poll, journalists rank just below bankers and a couple notches above lawyers in terms of perceived ethical standards. Recent disclosures of government’s ready access to today’s media technology giants will likely further erode the public’s trust of media independence and rectitude. Yet the more you know about Cronkite – and “Cronkite’s War, His World War II Letters Home” by Walter Cronkite IV and Maurice Isserman adds significantly to that knowledge – the more you are inclined to see him as something special. Cronkite is etched deep in American public consciousness. He was at the vanguard of television journalists who sat down for dinner each evening with the American family. He wore the face of a nation’s pain as he fiddled with his dark-framed glasses and fought back tears while announcing the death of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. On the flip side, there was common wisdom and reassurance with his nightly signature signoff: “And that’s the way it is.” “Cronkite’s War” reveals a man of normal intellect, reasonable ambition and genuine goodness behind that highly visible public persona. Perhaps most striking these days is to discover a public persona that was not a façade. Long before Cronkite commanded the television screen, he was writing newspaper copy and delivering news and sports on the radio. Born in 1916 in St. Joseph, Mo., he delivered newspapers in Houston, and he started (but never completed) college at the University of Texas at Austin. A series of local reporting jobs led him back to Kansas City, where he began courting Betsy Maxwell, also a journalist. Cronkite joined
Cronkite’s War, His World War II Letters Home Author: Walter Cronkite IV & Maurice Isserman Publisher: National Geographic, 2013 Hardcover: $28, 473 pages United Press news service, married Betsy and was accredited in New York as a war correspondent. Though not drafted because of his color blindness, Cronkite saw plenty of action following his posting to London, where he covered the Allied air war of 1943-45. There were early signs of the competitive nature that ultimately would take Cronkite to the pinnacle of American broadcast journalism. Before his transfer to London, he was sent from New York on a ship convoy as part of the U.S. invasion of North Africa. On the return trip, eager to be the first to report on the invasion, Cronkite hopped aboard a floatplane launched from his ship to get stateside ahead of a competitor aboard another returning ship. Cronkite’s forthright nature is evident in many of his letters home. He frequently complained about assignments, his workload, the living conditions in war-rationed London, and his loneliness – not only for his wife, but his beloved cocker spaniel Judy, too. While ambitious, Cronkite often bargained for more time off rather than higher pay as his success grew. Reflecting the same value system, his letters are full of yearnings for more family time. Arriving in London in late 1942, Cronkite would begin 2½ years of separation from Betsy, who returned to Kansas City when Cronkite left New York. During that period, Cronkite wrote a steady stream of letters to Betsy, more than 100 of which are archived at the
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University of Texas at Austin and that form the grist for this book. To read the letters along a continuum is to get a sense of World War II that is less dramatic than a strictly historical account – but, in many ways, more revealing. Movies and books often reduce the war to its climactic turning points, its selective moments of high drama. The war is viewed here through the prism of an individual life, and a life not on the battlefield. It is a grinding affair, touching every aspect of life, something to be endured through perseverance and grit, all the while never knowing the ultimate outcome. As one might expect, the letters’ recurring theme is the separation of Walter and his wife, only married three years before Cronkite’s move to London. As the months tick by, the separation is aggravated by never knowing when it would end. Cronkite endlessly floats fantasies about Betsy joining him in London, only to acknowledge the obvious reasons why it never fully makes sense. By the end of 1944, Cronkite is full of self-recrimination, swimming in guilt that he has damaged his relationship with Betsy by writing too infrequently or adopting the wrong tone at times. His letters, in reality, are models of compassion and sensitivity. Nonetheless, the separation and difficulties of daily life, despite his steady career advancement, lead Cronkite to a rather dark assessment of the year past: “I guess it was a pretty Continued on next page
CIVIL RIGHTS Continued from page 25
He said the newspapers had no black reporters, ad salesmen or black pressmen. “The most the Post could point to was a black receptionist,” he said. “There were no blacks as newsmen or women in radio or television. ... These facts that the media refused to publicize were as clear as a goat’s behind going uphill on a clear day.” “The Post, over and over, referred to the guilt and irresponsible (CORE) leadership and misguided defendants,” Clay added. And the GlobeDemocrat tried to link CORE to communists. Martin Duggan was a news editor at the Globe-Democrat at the time of the Jefferson Bank demonstrations. “We played it straight down the line,” he
said of the news coverage. He said he thought civil disobedience was “a proper procedure to express a beef,” as long as it didn’t harm others. Said Duggan: “I considered Jefferson Bank not a villain. Why did they go after Jefferson Bank? It was never a big player. Maybe it was easier to intimidate. ... The whole thing was unfortunate. It put an unfavorable light on the city and banks.” He added that “Bill Clay was always antagonistic to the Globe. The Globe never approved of his tactics.” Clay published a book in 2008 called “The Jefferson Bank Confrontation, The Struggle for Civil Rights in St. Louis.” He is critical of circuit judge Michael Scott for his harsh sentencing. The CORE appeals went to the U.S. Supreme Court; in the meantime, Clay and others were released from jail. After thee years the high court declined to hear the case, and
Continued from previous page
successful one for me, but I didn’t have much fun living it.” That low point aside, Cronkite personified resilience throughout these years. There were job perks, such as having cocktails with a soldier named Clark Gable. By and large, the letters reveal a chipper, upbeat and sociable Cronkite. His work gained growing attention as his bylined articles appeared in newspapers across the country. Edward R. Murrow featured him as a commentator on CBS Radio and offered him a job in Moscow, which Cronkite declined. Cronkite was part of a small group of journalists allowed to join a bombing run over Germany in 1943, a raid in which seven planes were shot down and Cronkite ended up firing a machine gun at enemy fighters. Fellow war correspondent Andy Rooney once called Cronkite a “tough, competitive scrambler.” The letters, stitched together with adequate connective tissue and historical context, offer a smooth and personal account that is consistent with Rooney’s assessment. Yet the Cronkite that emerges also is a kind of American “everyman,” his letters laced with corny Midwest humor, modesty and general optimism – the kind of traits that endeared him to a generation of television watchers, who through the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s turned regularly to “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite” for information they could trust. n
Clay and several others were ordered back to jail. Scott insisted the remaining time be served, but he offered to cancel it if the protesters apologized for their behavior. Some did, but Clay and two others refused; even so, they were released from jail. Some rancor from the bank case remained. The front of the book shows Clay’s daughter Michelle picketing with a sign reading, “Give My Mom a Job.” Twenty years later, as a candidate for the Missouri Bar, she was interrogated about her role at the bank. She was 5 years old at the time. Proceeds from the book have been used to assist about 280 students at 53 colleges. Remaining CORE veterans from the bank demonstrations set Aug. 30 for a reunion at the History Museum in Forest Park. n
DRONES Continued from page 17
He added: “This unforeseen expansion means that the drone business has large potential to grow, which is why 37 states are vying to host one of these six test sites.” John Villasenor, a professor of electrical engineering and public policy at UCLA and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., uses the language of the Fourth Amendment in an article written for Forbes magazine Sept. 20 to argue that this constitutional protection “has served us well across more than two centuries of technology advances, and there is no reason to expect it will suddenly lose its protective powers when domestic use of unmanned aircraft becomes common.” In his article, Villasenor noted “three 1980s-era Supreme Court decisions that found no Fourth Amendment violation in warrantless observations from manned government aircraft” to argue that “government investigators will sometimes be able to use UAVs without a warrant.” Not always, he wrote, but sometimes. The protection provided by the Fourth Amendment
has continued through decisions handed down by the high court as recently as 2012, and Villasenor wrote that “in the aggregate, these rulings provide cause for optimism that, with respect to government UAV observations, the Fourth Amendment will be reasonably protective. Whether it will be sufficiently protective is a different question, and well worth attention.” Drone manufacturers are aware of the privacy concerns circulating among the American public and members of Congress. Forbes staff member Kashmir Hill wrote an article July 6, 2012, detailing how a drone trade organization called the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International has unveiled a code of conduct “to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to being ‘safe and responsible.’ ” As Hill notes, however, a code of conduct “is voluntary and not legally enforceable in any way.” The ultimate enforcement of any drone operation may boil down to the local level, McNeal argues. In a Jan. 22 radio interview with North Country Public Radio’s David Sommerstein, he says, “If you’re concerned about what your local police department is doing, don’t turn to your congressperson in D.C. Turn to your city council.” n
Summer 2013 • Gateway Journalism Review • Page 35
McChesney critique mired in Marxist ideology by Jack Young The “collapse of journalism” is a hot topic these days. Although its decline preceded the Internet, the Internet appears to be the preferred news medium and a major cause for the failing media business model. Professor Robert McChesney’s latest foray into the discussion over the Internet’s impact on journalism can be found in his newest book, “Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy”. He provides an overview of the debate, borrowing from both “camps” – which include the “celebrants” who see the Internet as the cure for journalism’s and society’s ills, and the more pessimistic “skeptics” who fear it will ultimately kill off journalism (and probably democracy) – to forge a middle way to manifest journalistic reform. The policy initiatives he offers to address the “crisis” and preserve the “democratic” nature of the Internet are intriguing. yet somewhat conflicting at times. McChesney doesn’t shy away from delivering his Marxist progressive perspective on these issues. But too much of his information is mired in an overarching critique of “capitalism” at the expense of the primary issues of journalism and the Internet. His broad reliance on the term “capitalism” is a frustrating habit resembling the creation of a strawman. It leaves the reader wanting more nuances, especially when encouraged to visit a subject like this by a political economist. Fortunately though, the package of proposals he assembles represent a starting place on which to build a more vibrant journalism in the Internet age. McChesney’s warnings about the Internet being used as a spy grid in a corporate-state conspiracy is somewhat prescient given recent revelations of the NSA’s massive programs aimed at Americans. But, in an ironic twist, the linchpin of his journalism reform proposals – a media “voucher” program – rests on another now scandalridden government agency, the IRS, to determine the nonprofit status of media operations. Giving the state bureaucracy
Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy Author: Robert McChesney Publisher: The New Press, New York Hardcover: $27.95, 299 pages
more power seems naïve, given what we know today. It likely would provide more corporate power, as that is the primary “externality” (the negative byproducts he implores the reader to recognize when analyzing “capitalism”) in the current political economic system. The “voucher” program is interesting, and McChesney gives credit to Dean Baker as its designer more than a decade ago. But he offers no good reason for vouchers to be reserved exclusively for nonprofit media. If one supports a direct media subsidy program such as individual vouchers to be assigned by taxpayers, then allowing it to be used toward private or nonprofit would only create more competition. Private industry isn’t unique in benefiting from competition. Empowering the IRS makes the proposal a non-starter while depoliticizing it likely would provide broader support. McChesney repeatedly holds up government education as a shining example of progressive political results. Although arguing both education and journalism are “public goods,” a “voucher” program apparently only improves the latter through competition. This is a glaring omission in “Digital Disconnect.” Bureaucracy and democracy are clearly at odds in modern political economy, and any hope that the state will keep the Internet free has long passed. Early on, McChesney appeals to scholars to recognize the “elephant in the room” when analyzing prospects of an Internet-led democratic revolution. That “elephant,” he claims,
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is “capitalism” – and it’s rampaging through the digital universe, crushing liberty and democracy. Although he notes the Internet’s likely status as the fourth transformative event in the history of communication, the solutions McChesney offers – taxpayer subsidies and more regulations – are not radically democratic because they rely on the current corporatist bureaucracy to work. Arguing for more traditional progressive government action and expecting true Internet-journalistic reform isn’t convincing, and it’s limiting when discussing a “transformative,” paradigmshifting event such as this. While journalism is in a crisis of legitimacy, it’s not alone. Practically every centralized system is these days: government, religion, education, corporate finance, etc. While “democratic reform” may have been the progressive goal over the last century, their policies have been implemented in various forms, and their failure is now apparent. This is the fatal flaw in his argument for a bigger and bigger government response to challenge corporate monopolization. Big government and big corporations are now one and the same, and he seems to know this. And this is a very specific kind of “capitalism” that isn’t analogous to “free-markets” as he claims. While his goals are admirable, McChesney’s “Digital Disconnect” unfortunately reads like an attempt to salvage the progressive legacy by re-employing those ideas and expecting different results when it comes to journalism and the Internet. n
GJR contributors William A. Babcock Editor of Gateway Journalism Review. He is the senior ethics professor of the SIU Carbondale School of Journalism. Chris Burnett An associate professor of journalism at California State University, Long Beach. Eileen Byrnes A graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She worked as a reporter for daily newspapers in New York and Connecticut, as well as a freelance writer for newspapers and other print publications. In addition to writing, she also works in the health and fitness industry. William H. Freivogel Publisher of Gateway Journalism Review and director of the SIU Carbondale School of Journalism. He is a former editorial page deputy editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and contributes to the St. Louis Beacon. He is a member of the Missouri Bar. Terry Ganey The St. Louis editor of Gateway Journalism Review. He has more than 40 years’ experience as an investigative reporter and political correspondent, and he has worked for the St. Louis PostDispatch. Steve Hallock A former newspaper editor. He is director of the School of Communication at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. Benjamin Israel A freelance writer living in St. Louis. He was a regular contributor to the St. Louis Journalism Review. Forty years ago he was news director of KDNA-FM in St. Louis. His work has appeared in more than a dozen Missouri publications. He formerly covered St. Louis courts for Bloomberg News.
Walter Jaehnig Former director of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He was a reporter for the Louisville CourierJournal before earning a doctorate in sociology in England and teaching ethics at universities in Indiana, Wyoming and Illinois.
Charles Klotzer The founder of St. Louis Journalism Review.
John Jarvis 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.
Paul Van Slambrouck An associate professor of mass communication at Principia College and former editor of the Christian Science Monitor who shares a Pulitzer Prize with the news staff of the San Jose Mercury News for coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.
Scott Lambert A faculty member in the English Department at Millikin University. He is a former managing editor of Gateway Journalism Review and worked as a sports journalist and editor for 13 years. Dafna Lemish A professor and interim dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts at Southern Illinois University. Roy Malone A former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the former editor of St. Louis Journalism Review. Michael D. Murray 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. Sam Robinson Associate publisher of Gateway Journalism Review. She specializes in rural media and issues involving agriculture and media. In the fall, she will join the faculty at California State University Monterey Bay as an assistant professor of journalism and digital media.
Mark Sableman A lawyer with Thompson Coburn LLP in St. Louis. He is a member of Gateway Journalism Review’s board of advisers.
Andrew Smith A reporter for Newsday. He is also a New York Mets fan, still. Tripp Frohlichstein Worked for Channel 4 in St. Louis from 1974 to 1978. He previously was a St. Louis Journalism Review contributor and is approaching his 28th year in business as owner of MediaMasters, a company specializing in training people to give better presentations, give better interviews and develop messaging. Jack Young Teaches “History of Journalism” and administers student services for the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He has a master’s degree in history and higher education, and focuses his historical studies and research on U.S. and European media, politics and economics. Sharon Wittke Associate managing editor of the Gateway Journalism Review and a student in the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She served 25 years in the Air Force before retiring last year as a lieutenant colonel.