Issuu on Google+

sjreview.org

by Benjamin Israel and Roy Malone

KWMU: St. Louis' favorite

Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

February 2008 Vol 38 Number 303 $4.00 Why were the polls so wrong? (pg.8)

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 1


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 10

In transition or on the brink

pportunity, education, justice, support, loosa, Ala., I had never met an African-American advancement. These are some of the rea- journalist, and I didn’t want another generation of sons a group of African-Americans aspiring black journalists to be able to make that founded the Greater St. Louis Association of same statement. I wish I could have participated in a similar journalism workshop when I was in high Black Journalists in 1976. While the GSLABJ was formed for idealistic rea- school.” He tells how the GSLABJ got started, with the sons—to help minority students pursue careers in journalism—it now faces a challenge to remain rel- Minority Journalism Workshop as its centerpiece: “Essentially, Gerald and I decided evant and to rejuvenate its dwinto split up the major labor. He dling membership. would serve as the first president of And make no mistake about it, the group, and I would serve as the GSLABJ is fighting for its very surfounding director of the workshop, vival. It looks like the organization a position I held from 1977–1983. has come full circle. As for how it would operate, Gerald “In 1976, several of us tried startDuring the past and I designed the whole program ing a local chapter of the National after coming from lunch. We sat in Association of Black Journalists,” 30 years, the my car on the side of City Hall, said George Curry, who was then a where Gerald was working at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter. St. Louis time. He had a former J-school pro“We had one or two ill-fated fessor, the late Dr. Robert Knight, attempts in which only a few of us workshop who helped us get money from the showed up, before we succeeded in Newspaper Fund. As director, I getting the organization started.” has graduated hand-picked Greg Freeman as my As co-founder, Curry was among assistant, a position he served those who wanted to ensure that more than throughout most of my tenure.” black journalists had the help they “We started the workshop to not needed and that newsrooms would a thousand only introduce black high school always have a pool of qualified black students to the world of journalism, journalists from which to hire—no students. but to also teach them about dealexcuses. His dream was shared by ing with racism, preparing them to colleagues such as the late Gerald be the best in life and developing a Boyd, Sheila Rule and Linda Lockgood work ethic,” Curry said. hart—all Post reporters—along with The idea of the group’s Excelthe late Joe Palmer and the late lence in Journalism Awards was Betty Lee, who was publisher and also Curry’s, to encourage reporting editor of Proud Magazine. They saw that working journalists and black would-be jour- of the black community in a meaningful way. There are now more than 15 workshops across nalists needed support, encouragement and trainthe country based on the St. Louis model. Curry ing. Curry went on to become a Washington corre- helped set up similar programs in Washington, spondent for the Chicago Tribune, then editor of D.C., and New York, in conjunction with he local Emerge Magazine and now is a syndicated colum- NABJ chapters. During the past 30 years, the St. Louis workshop nist. Boyd went to The New York Times where he has graduated more than a thousand students, rose to managing editor. Curry tells how he got involved in helping minor- many of whom have gone on to work in some of the ity students: “Growing up in segregated Tusca- largest newsrooms and corporations in the nation.

O

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 10


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Early graduates of the workshop include: Jet Magazine Features Editor Margena Christian; Kim Covington, an anchor at the NBC affiliate in Phoenix; Post Business Editor André Jackson; CBS Anchor/Reporter Russ Mitchell; Alvin A. Reid, city editor of the St. Louis American; and Mark Russell, assistant managing editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Jackson said the workshop “gave me a career ... I learned the value of discipline, persistence and preparation.” “I had no idea what working in a newsroom would be like. The workshop prepared me for the real world of journalism,” Reid said. One student recalled that “the atmosphere was that of a boot camp.” The mother of one student said she had to wake her daughter for school during the week, but not on Saturdays for the workshop. When Curry came to St. Louis on Nov. 10 to keynote the GSLABJ’s annual excellence awards presentation to recognize coverage of the black community and award scholarships to workshop students, he arrived amidst rumblings of the imminent demise of his beloved organization. Curry was incensed. “They (current members) haven’t earned the right to disband something they did not start. I don’t want to hear another word about this organization not surviving,” Curry said. “Failure is simply not an option.” But some members are afraid that failure is an option. It seems that GSLABJ has fallen prey to the national trend described by Robert D. Putnam in “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital,” which described the growing social isolation of many Americans. We simply don’t join organizations the way we used

Page 11

George Curry

Gerald Boyd

Gloria Ross

to. And then there’s the problem of the ever-shrinking newsroom and consolidation of workplaces. At the Post, 11 AfricanAmerican staffers exited in 2007. It wasn’t always so. The GSLABJ had grown steadily since its founding through 1988 when it hosted the NAJB convention. At the time, it boasted more than 100 members, drawn liberally from print, broadcast and public relations. Currently there are fewer than 30 members and no president. The GSLABJ, like many other black organizations, faces a uniquely ethnic challenge wrought by hard-won greater inclusion in workplaces and professional organizations. So, can GSLABJ be saved? Some diehards say a resounding “yes.” “The work of GSLABJ is too important to let it fall by the wayside,” said former Post Sports Editor Larry Starks, who served as GSLABJ president for the past four years, until he left in November for a job at ESPN in Connecticut. “Our mission remains important. We still need to prepare the next generation of journalists and ensure they have the support they need to succeed.” The group has put out a clarion call for more members—and for current members to do more. A few have heeded that call and are working diligently to ensure the organization’s survival. And so, GSLABJ struggles to continue. As it has since 1976, the faithful few still meet at noon, every third Saturday of the month, at the Post. “Of course we’ll survive,” said Sharon Stevens, KSDK (Channel 5) education reporter and longtime workshop director. “There simply is no other option.” ■

Gloria Ross is principal of Okara Communications and AfterWords, an obituary-writing and production service. She has been a member of GSLABJ since 1986.

11 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 12

by Benjamin Israel n its nearly 36 years, KWMU has transformed from a mostly classical music station to a mostly talk radio station, and from one that originated most of its programming locally to one that devotes most of its air time to nationally syndicated programs Although it still broadcasts from a classroom building at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, it no longer turns over a chunk of airtime to students and no longer gives university faculty a hand in programming. KWMU (90.7 FM) has grown steadily through the years and has lived up to its slogan of “in-depth news and intelligent talk.” It is a favored station for listeners, whether at home or in their cars, who are “more educated, more affluent and wanting information,” say station officials. So how did St. Louis come to get this valuable public radio station, one that is free from commercials but relies on donations from listeners and other donors? Although KWMU carried only two National Public Radio programs—a classical music show and William Buckley’s “Firing Line”— when it first went on the air, its birth is tied up with the birth of NPR. NPR started almost as an afterthought. In the late 1960s, proposals were made for the federal government to fund educational television. Colleges wanted to improve their radio stations, so radio fortunately got slipped into the Broadcasting Act Of 1967. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was set up to provide money to start individual stations and fund programming. A few years later it would also create the NPR radio network. In 1968, the University Missouri’s Board of Curators approved a plan for four 100,000-watt stereo radio stations, pending the availability of federal funds. The board approved $25,000 for an FM station in St. Louis, and the Federal Communications Commission granted UMSL a construction permit that same year. At the time, KWMU may have been an afterthought. What the curators most wanted from the station frequencies was the use of the sidebands, said Donald H. Driemeier, now the dean emeritus at the UM-St. Louis College of Business Administration. Driemeier wrote the KWMU application for the construction permit. FM signals don’t need all the bandwidth allocated to them. They can use

I

the extra bandwidth at the stations, or sidebands, to send separate signals to special receivers. Driemeier said the university’s extension division wanted to use the sidebands for closed-circuit, continuing-education programs. With the new money soon to be available, “We thought that the educational licenses were available and being gobbled up fast,” Driemeier said. KWMU did not go on the air until June 2, 1972. Driemeier said it took that long to accumulate the needed funds. Most of the money came from a grant from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The university had to figure out what to do with the 100,000-watt signal that went with KWMU’s sideband. It hired an experienced radio executive, Robert Thomas, in 1971 to be station manager. Five years later, in KWMU Magazine, Thomas wrote that he found in St. Louis “every major format was done, maybe overdone, by two or more stations with the exception of all-news and classics-fine arts.” He chose the latter for programming, he wrote, partly because allnews was more expensive to produce. KWMU billed itself as a “serious music” station, with classical music on weekdays, some folk music and jazz on the weekends. It limited its news and public affairs on weekdays to scattered five-to-seven-minute segments. On Sundays, it had its only lengthy, regularly scheduled public affairs shows—the locally produced “Sunday Magazine,” and “Firing Line.” Two other differences between KWMU in 1972 and today: Students did some late night programming, and there were no on-air pledge drives to raise money. Starting in 1974, it did raise some money through contributions to an organization called Studio Set, which supplemented a yearly appropriation

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 12

from the university. As government funds for public radio shrank, the need for listener support grew. KWMU’s first pledge drive in 1975 raised more than $7,000, exceeding expectations. While KWMU was getting started, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting created NPR in 1970. This network launched its signature daily newsmagazine “All Things Considered” the next year. The one-hour, afternoon drive-time program covered news and culture with in-depth stories and sound collages. In 1977, KWMU aired “All Things Considered” for one week to see how its listeners responded. KWMU Magazine contacted about 7 percent of Studio Set members by phone, and 59 percent voted not to carry it. In 1979, NPR launched “Morning Edition.” This show was similar to “All Things Considered” but was more structured, with stories in shorter segments, making it easier for local stations to insert their own pieces. In 1981, KWMU picked up part of the two-hour weekday show, saying it had “the literacy of a great newspaper, and the immediacy of great radio.” In 1981, KWMU faced a crisis. The sideband had been used to give credit courses, extension programs and services for the blind, but its funding ran out. It went off the air in the summer, never to be restored. Also, KFUO cranked up its power, went stereo and overtook KWMU in the ratings. And, UM-St. Louis students were clamoring for more opportunities to get on-air experience. Pressure to change came from higher up as well. At the January 1982 Board of Curators meeting, curator Marian Oldham called KWMU “a station of classical music for a very select group within this community.” UM-St. Louis Chancellor Arnold Grobman had commissioned a study


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:52 PM

to recommend a future course for KWMU. The report Local: noted that roughly News, reviews, commentaries half of all unSt. Louis On The Air solicited requests Cityscape from listeners were Jazz Unlimited for “All Things Considered” and that News: research indicated All Things Considered that it was “the BBC World Service strongest audience Living On Earth Marketplace builder for public Morning Edition radio.” Only A Game “All Things ConTo The Best Of Our Knowledge sidered” made it on Weekend America KWMU for good in Weekend Edition June 1982. Also, The World the station started to air “A Prairie Talk: Home Companion,” The Diane Rehm Show hosted by Garrison Fresh Air with Terry Gross Keillor, a musicNews and Notes comedy variety On The Media show syndicated by On Point, Speaking Of Faith Minnesota Public Talk of the Nation Zorba Paster On Your Health, Radio. NPR had turned the show Science Friday down. Minnesota's Entertainment: MPR then worked American Routes with Wisconsin Car Talk Public Radio and Hearts of Space other statewide netA Prairie Home Companion works to form Splendid Table American Public Studio 360 Media, now Public This American Life Radio International. Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me PRI became anWhad’Ya Know other source of proWorld Café gramming, along

Page 13

with NPR. KWMU was definitely on a new course. In 1988, station manager Rainer Steinhoff said that after the station widened its audience base by using some NPR shows, it doubled its audience in three years. In 1989, KWMU hired Patricia Wente to be its general manager. Wente came from Washington, D.C., where she was manager of station grant programs at the CPB for both public radio and television stations. Terry Jones, then the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UMSt. Louis, headed the committee that hired her. He said the consensus was that the station was too eclectic and needed to better define its niche. He says Wente has done just that. Within a year, more than two dozen full- and part-time staffers resigned or were told they had to reapply for their jobs. In September 1990, Wente replaced the weekend, locally originated folk-music shows with programs from NPR (“Car Talk”) and PRI (“Whad’Ya Know”). She reduced the news staff to four full-timers. Her actions roiled the staff and listeners alike. One of those fired, parttime reporter Winifred Sullivan, who had worked there since 1989, sued in federal court, claiming racial discrimination. She was the only African-American fired. U. S. District Judge Jean Hamilton ruled in favor of KWMU.

Wente eliminated the evening classical music and late-night jazz in 1993, replacing them with repeats of “All Things Considered,” the interview show “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” and the BBC World Service after 11 p.m. Again there was an outcry, this time from the classical music community. In 1996, she eliminated all classical-music programming. Nearly all of the programming was from NPR and PRI, with several shows repeated each day. Aside from some news stories, the only local programs were an hour of local talk Monday through Friday and six hours of jazz programming Sunday evening. Each time classical music had been cut, the number of listeners went up. So did the amount of money raised from listeners. Its weeklong fund drive last October raised $367,000—14 times what was raised in 1975, after adjusting for inflation. By now, Wente has been station manager for more than half the station’s existence. Although she cut staff when she started, KWMU now employs 34 full-time and 15 parttime professionals. Its news staff even includes a reporter in Jefferson City. The station has outgrown its offices and had to knock out part of a wall to put some of its staff in an attached trailer. Wente has been leading a capital-fund drive to build new state-of-the-art studios in its own building on campus. The station now puts out an HD or digital signal that simulcasts with its analog signal. There are plans to have two other KWMU signals that only HD radios can pick up—one devoted to music and the arts, and the other to more public affairs, both local and from NPR and PRI. It does carry some local specials like the Illinois and Missouri governors’ state of the state addresses. Looking back on what he helped create, Driemeier said, “I have often said we viewed (KWMU) as a means of educating the public. I have been the one who has benefited from the education I’ve gotten from it—the indepth news and intelligent talk.” ■ Thanks to UM-St. Louis Archivist Linda Belford, who assisted with research for this article. Benjamin Israel is a freelance writer who has worked at newspapers in the region and was news director at KDNA radio station before it shut down in 1973.

13 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 14

Patty Wente says that when she goes to the grocery store or other public places, “people come up and tell me what they like and don’t like” about the programs. If a radio station can have a public face, Wente is it for KWMU. She is the general manager and is also a familiar voice, especially when the station conducts on-air solicitations for donations from listeners, which account for about half of its revenues. Since she was hired in 1989, the high-energy Wente has overseen KWMU’s switch from classical music to news and talk programming, carrying offerings from National Public Radio and other networks. Now her focus is on raising funds for a new $12 million building for the station, to be built on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, not far from the classroom building where the station now operates from cramped quarters. She said the capital fund drive has already netted $7 million in pledges. The biggest donor is Emily Pulitzer, who reaped more than $400 million in 2005 when the Pulitzer heirs sold Pulitzer, Inc., including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wente is a quick-talking, no-nonsense executive whose legacy at KWMU might well be the new building. She makes her case to corporate and well-heeled private donors that a good radio station is a valuable cultural, social and economic asset to a city, one worthy of philanthropic gifts. She won’t call it begging (she hates that word) when money is sought on the air from listeners. She sees philanthropy as the way to finance the

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 14

station’s future. In other words: Why go for small donations rather than big ones? “The future of money raising is not in on-air solicitations. It’s in philanthropy,” she said. KWMU had a $4.8 million budget last year, with 34 percent of revenue coming from donations from “Friends of KWMU” and 20 percent from UM St. Louis’ direct support and donated facilities. Underwriting income—from entities who make donations in exchange for pseudo ads on the air, but without direct promotions or

Tim Parker photo

pricing—provides 19 per- KWMU’S cent of the sta- MARY EDWARDS tion’s annual PATTY WENTE income. Capital gifts and DON MARSH grants account for 13 percent. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting kicks in 8 percent, and special events and other revenue add 6 percent. “One of the myths is that we are government funded,” Wente says, explaining that the great majority of funding is from private sources. “We’ve beefed up underwriting and business support.”


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 15

Wente, 51, dresses mod. In an interview she wore black leather—jacket and short skirt. She barks orders to subordinates when she wants some data. She can be edgy, testy, even mercurial, say some who have worked for her. After her first year on the job, she cleaned house, according to the Post, resulting in two dozen full- and part-timers resigning or being fired. “All left unhappily,” the Post reported. One who didn’t leave is Mary Edwards, long-

coming to KWMU two years ago. His predecessors on the one-hour show were Greg Freeman from the Post and Mike Sampson, both of whom died. Marsh interviews people in public life, from private agencies, authors and others and has what he calls “a civil discussion” about current issues. Marsh said donors respond well to Wente. “She has a handle on everything. She gives marching orders … she goes bang, bang. She wants results. She’s very energetic. They respond very well to her,’’ he said. She had previously worked for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and managed NPR stations at the University of Oklahoma and Wichita State University. “I knew this station (KWMU) had potential. It was non-performing,’’ and was $386,000 in debt, she said. Wente said KWMU now has more than 14,000 members and 190,500 listeners per week, according to Arbitron. “We are all about community. We go for quality and in-depth reporting,” she said, noting that the news coverage includes reports from Jefferson City. The station often alludes to its listeners’ “driby Roy Malone veway moments,” in which drivers delay leaving their parked vehicles in order to listen to the end of an interesting story or interview. “Public radio is your companion all day long,” Wente said. “St. Louis loves its public radio.” On March 6, the station is having its annual Winemakers’ Dinner, and NPR’s Diane Rehm will attend. Rehm tells KWMU she gets more telephone calls to her national talk show from St. Louis than from any other city. ■

:

time production staffer who produces the “St. Louis On The Air” public affairs show. “She gets things done,” Edwards said of Wente. “She leaves us alone to produce our show. She does not micromanage.” Edwards lines up guests for the popular show along with the host, Don Marsh. “He brings a breadth of knowledge. He always does his homework and prepares well,” Edwards said. Marsh is a veteran newsman, having been a reporter and anchor at KTVI (Channel 2) for 24 years and at KDNL (Channel 30) for three years. He did other television and video work before

Roy Malone, a long-time reporter, is retired from the St. Lous Post-Dispatch. He is the editor of SJR.

15 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 16

Tom Sullivan:

Watchdog with a bite by Repps Hudson hen first asked for an interview, Tom Sullivan begged off, saying he had no interest in a profile to file before voters consider a bond issue or a tax meaand that he was not very interesting. sure. Usually those are documents and reports that no A day or so later, Sullivan answered more questions one wants to read because they are boring, technical in a second phone interview. Then he sent e-mails, out- and tedious. lining some of his effective campaigns against bond If you know of the late I.F. “Izzy” Stone, writer of I.F. issues, initiatives for taxpayer-funded projects and gov- Stone’s Weekly, a self-published newsletter produced in ernance practices of public or semi-public bodies like Washington, D.C. several decades ago, you get the idea. the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, Metro, Busch Stone’s forte was reading the Federal Register and Stadium and others. reams of papers issued by federal agencies, then reportPretty soon he was in a boastful mood, claiming that ing what he found in his newsletter, which circulated his advertising company has a 100 peramong journalists and the political cent success rate in petition drives, a 90 elites in the nation’s capital, as well as a percent success rate with ballot proposfew other places. Though only 70,000 als and a 75 percent success rate with strong in circulation at its peak, I.F. candidates. Stone’s Weekly became a legendary tip Actually, Sullivan, 57, may be worth sheet for journalists covering the federal scrutiny not because he shuns the limegovernment. light—he doesn’t—but because anyone If anything, Sullivan has proven who has followed his career as a gadfly repeatedly the power of the resourceful or critic may wonder what makes him use of information in the public domain, tick. One also has to give him his due as studying the arcane details of a bond an effective part of the local political issue or tax initiative that agency offiprocess, just as he claims. cials hope no one will read. Sullivan also But where does Sullivan get his has become the master of leveraging his money to launch campaigns that someinformation into local broadcast and times drive public officials nuts? Is he print media because he has been seen as just a naysayer who never met a tax proone of the few opposing voices who actuposal he didn’t hate? Or is he a true pubally has a command of the facts. lic-spirited citizen, toiling away in the Sometimes his critics say he takes Tom Sullivan second-story Clayton office of his small things out of context or twists informaadvertising agency, Sullivan Advertising tion in the interest of prevailing, but SulCo., to alert the public and right wrongs? livan has come to be regarded more as a proven, legitiPrickly though he may be, Sullivan, who has a habit mate critic than a mere gadfly who flits from one topic of laughing after he says something, evokes a kind of to another. It’s well known that public officials often underdog charm that appeals to voters who may suspect don’t want Sullivan to find out what they’re up to, lest he their elected representatives are in cahoots with big start grinding out analyses that point out, for instance, business, banks and civic leaders who may think they that the total cost of a public-works project should can slip something by the rest of us. include interest as well as the principal. Sullivan is very much cut of the same cloth as other Using e-mails, Sullivan is able to cheaply and quickly crusaders in American history, from Thomas Paine dur- send his news releases and messages to dozens on his ing the American Revolution, to Ralph Nader in modern mailing list, an ability that watchdogs in earlier years times. He may come across at first as modest, but as he did not have. He said he also plans to start a blog. begins to explain the campaigns he’s fought over the He and others were instrumental in petition drives last quarter century, he cannot resist letting you know to get proposals passed in St. Louis City and St. Louis of his prowess. County, albeit too late, to require voter approval if any As an unelected, quasi-public figure, Sullivan swears money is to be spent on building stadiums. He cothat he represents only himself. His technique is sim- authored a story in SJR that detailed just how much ple: He studies public documents, like the statements public money went into the new Busch Stadium, pointthat municipalities and other public bodies are required ing out how the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other

W

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 16


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 17

media misreported the figures. One touch it.” Sullivan gives full credit to of his news releases declared that the MetroLink extension debacle Roberts. “I learned a lot from Wilhemina would cost taxpayers an extra $300 million—including cost overruns, a “Billie” Roberts about many things,” big lawsuit and whopping attorneys' he wrote, “especially the law and how to scrutinize data, reports, etc. fees. Sullivan, who is single, lives in We worked together for many years. University City and has no inherited She was very smart.” That off-color comment about a wealth to fund his efforts. He graduated from McBride High School, less-than-stalwart media seems to then attended the University of Mis- be vintage Tom Sullivan, as he has souri-St. Louis where he studied turned more frequently to pointed political science and English litera- attacks on reporters for failing to ask enough questure but didn’t gradtions and dig deeply uate. He said he into issues that affiliates with neicould affect taxpayther political party. ers and citizens. “I am not active in Recently, he has partisan politics, taken to issuing though I have I have been press releases in worked for both which he reprints a Democratic and called a story, such as one by Republican candiClay Barbour of the dates.” Post, and then He denies being ‘liberal elitist’ adding comments against every tax denigrating the increase or public and an ‘anti-tax reporter’s work and agency. writing. “Puff-puff” is “I have been called conservative,’ one phrase he uses a ‘liberal elitist’ and to note that a an ‘anti-tax conservareporter is taking too tive,’ though I do not though I do not much for granted consider myself eiwhen writing about ther,” he wrote. “Also, consider myself public officials. I do not consider Some reporters myself a libertarian believe this will cost either. per se, though I supSullivan in the end, pose I might believe he has in some of the things — Tom Sullivan because begun to turn on they believe in.” those whose help he He got his first may need if he relies taste of blood as a on them to contact vocal, effective watchhim as a reliable dog of local governsource. ment when he “If you’re trying to get reporters to worked with the late Billie Roberts in 1982, helping to defeat a half-cent listen to you,” said one Post staffer sales tax proposal for “jobs and eco- who asked to be anonymous, “it’s nomic growth” but that would have not good to trash other reporters.” created more commissions that This reporter said that Sullivan diswould be outside public account- plays an “obsessive personality” and is no longer reliable. “I get other ability. (Think MSD, Metro, etc.) “The co-chair of the campaign— sources who will not lead me down incredibly—was Chuck Knight (for- the wrong path.” Watchdogs like Sullivan can play mer CEO of Emerson). I dug up an article on Emerson in which they an important role in the political were all bragging about the jobs they process, though, complementing had moved out of St. Louis with the reporters’ knowledge and bringing company’s ‘southern strategy.’ No continued on page 25 one in the chickenshit media would

The crusaders among us... here really isn’t a completely satisfying description to apply to the Tom Sullivans of the world. Gadfly, activist, crusader, watchdog? They have many things in common, however. They are always on the outside, looking in. They hold no public office. They head no big business. They work with no expectation of financial reward. They focus on their causes, which always involve people with no influence fighting people with lots of influence. They have little or no money, as do most of the people who support them. So they are dependent on the “free media” to advance their mission. We have searched our memories for the names of those who have called, sent faxes or e-mails, or come into the office with a press release, trying to sell a story about what they believe the St. Louis public should know. Those of us in the media know what we have done with most of their material. In general, we tried to be patient, understanding, but after they left, many of us are dismissive. Yet those who study the media know what can be sold as news and are able, from time to time, to convince an editor or news director that their press conference is worth covering, and their message is worth a paragraph or two or maybe 15 seconds on the air or tube. No attempt was made to make the following list of St. Louis gadflies/activists/crusaders/watchdog s comprehensive, and we know that we have failed to include many who merit being listed. For this, we apologize.

T

David Clohessy: Focusing attention on priests sexually molesting children continued on page 25

17 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

ill Bidwill’s departure from St. Louis made little difference in the performance of his Cardinals, though it undoubtedly made him a great deal of money. And the team that replaced the Big Red didn’t add much to the city’s football history, either; a couple of seasons of glory, long periods of despair. The same frontoffice problems—confusion, lack of proper planning, a death grip on the wallet, excessive loyalty to old friends, ignorance in judging talent—that have plagued the Cardinals also plague the Rams. I was in Phoenix for a weekend in mid-December, however, and got a major shock. Despite their awful record, the Cardinals, and the Bidwills, were being lionized on the local newspaper’s editorial page, praised for bringing jobs and money and tourists and all sorts of other good things to the neighborhood around the site of the University of Phoenix Stadium, site of the Super Bowl, home of the Big Red—and the centerpiece of Phoenix’s own version of BALLPARK VILLAGE. The stadium is named for a virtual college—all buildings and computers, no live students or campus—and in a twist of language, it can almost be a parallel to the Big Red, a virtual football team. There has been praise for the architecture, but the stadium looks to me like a gigantic flying saucer, dropped upside-down in the Arizona desert. The area around it is a wasteland dotted with a couple of fancy hotels and some chain restaurants, but the plans make the DeWitt Ballpark Village look like a hamlet on Tobacco Road. The Bidwill Ballpark Village, surrounding the stadium on three sides (an interstate highway is on the fourth side), will be home to office buildings, hotels, residential properties and all the various accoutrements that seem to stand for urban development these days. Of course, as building starts fall into the mineshaft of despondence, and recession looms before everyone except stockbrokers, the development may be subject to sudden and violent change. The DeWitt Ballpark Village slept right through the final years of the building boom, and the scene on South Broadway today looks like the city’s largest eyesore. Meanwhile, tax abatement for the Redbirds is happily in place, as it is for the Gridbirds. For those keeping score, two of Bill’s sons have major roles. Patrick is in charge of the team these days, and Tim is holding the reins on the Bidwill Ballpark Village.

sports & media / Joe Pollack

B

The (University of Phoenix) stadium looks to me like a gigantic flying saucer, dropped upside-down in the Arizona desert.

Joe Pollack is a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist

Page 18

What happens when you play in a bowl game? Well, Missouri and Illinois haven’t announced ticket-price increases yet, but they are solidifying their pre-season rankings by scheduling nothing but patsies— and each other—for the 2008 football season. The Tigers and Illini play each other in the Ugly Dome in St. Louis on Aug. 30, if you can imagine football in August; and then the large payoffs go out and the larger margins of victory come in. After that, Mizzou plays the clawing Redhawks of Southeast Missouri, the snarling Wolf Pack of the University of Nevada and the pawing Bulls of the University of Buffalo, while Illinois faces the powerful Panthers of Eastern Illinois University and the angry Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Fatigued by their exertions, the big schools then get a week off, but don’t count on it—coaches and athletic directors are probably scouring the nation even as you read, searching for teams ready to take a fall for a large pile of cash. You would think that the recent success would want to make athletic directors and coaches look upward, think they’ve improved, schedule some of the classic big-name teams of college football, and look at how much a victory would mean. But with memory measured in nano-seconds and money/rankings/bowl games the only things that count, it would be embarrassing to me to learn that my Alma Mater gets to play in a big bowl game because it beat the Redhawks, the Wolfpack and the Bulls.

By the time I got to Phoenix ...

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 18

Is there a correlation? As success grows and recruiting becomes easier, it’s about time for a sports sociologist or sports statistician to do a survey as to why a team’s arrest record appears to climb in lockstep with its victories on the field. Columbia, Mo., looks like a good place to start.

Condolences One of the really nice guys left the local sports scene when Marty Hendin, media man for the St. Louis Cardinals, died recently after a long illness. He probably endured more mangled national anthems from well-intentioned children than anyone in St. Louis history did, but he remained friendly, capable, good-natured and the most loyal of Cardinal fans. His help to organizations and individuals was legendary, and members of the media are permanently in his debt. ■


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

he creative concept for the marketing campaign did well in reviews. An adequate budget has been tweaked down to the last dollar. It should work. Then the big event or product roll-out arrives. It becomes clear that the only thing the consumers have been attracted to is a bad experience. In delivering the goods or service, the brand image is going negative. Why? The minor details of a business transaction, as simple as an employee’s attitude, can overwhelm seemingly larger factors, such as product quality and price, said Michelle L. Corey, president and chief executive officer of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois. “You may have well-trained craftsmen, and they do their job very well. But do they clean up their mess? How do they conduct themselves on the job? These things may seem small, but they are memorable,” she said. “Not everyone is cut out for face-toface communications with people.” Human factors may influence consumer attitudes more strongly than price, the bureau found last year when it asked Web site visitors to rank 12 attributes that determine whether they will do repeat business with a company. Quality was ranked as “very important” by 91 percent of 5,000 respondents. The next four keys, ranging from 70–90 percent, were business ethics, responsiveness, complaint record and professionalism. Selection and prices were sixth and seventh, with mentions by 68 percent and 63 percent of consumers, respectively. Friendliness was close behind with a 59percent mention rate. “It used to be said that the three most important words in business were ‘location, location, location.’ Now it is ‘customer, customer, customer,’” said Philip L. Moses, director of the bureau’s Customer Connection Division. He teaches customer service seminars and tells business owners and employees that bad attitudes are the overwhelming reason that consumers do not return. “A study found that 1 percent of customers don’t return because they die, 3 percent move away, 5 percent develop other friendships, 9 percent leave for competitive reasons and 14 percent are dissatisfied with the product,” he said. “Then 68 percent quit because of an attitude of indifference toward the customer by the owner, manager or some employee. Most customers don’t complain. They just don’t

Ad/PR / Rick Stoff

T

It used to be said that the three most important words in business were ‘location, location, location.’ Now it is ‘customer, customer, customer. —BBB's Philip L. Moses

RIck Stoff, a former St. Louis Globe Democrat reporter and editor, now practices public relations at his own firm, Stoff Communications

Page 19

come back.” Consumer complaints are likely at even the most conscientious businesses. The likelihood of complaints increases in complex and high-dollar industries, such as home building and remodeling and auto repairs. Businesses that do a good job of handling inevitable complaints can still be successful, Corey said. “We find some companies will fight to the end to find a way not to give a customer $5 back,” she said. “Some companies see that refunding that $5 is part of doing business, even when the customer is wrong.” Last year the bureau studied companies that had incurred seven or more BBB complaints in 1997–2006. It found 126 companies that had resolved less than 10 percent of those complaints and 50 companies that had made good-faith efforts to resolve all complaints. While 70 percent of the unresponsive companies had gone out of business, all 50 of the responsive companies were still in business. “Up to 95 percent of people will buy from you again, if you resolve their complaint quickly,” Moses said. His presentation lists “Seven Sins” of bad service—disinterest, brush-off, coldness, condescension, “robotism,” sticking to a “rule book” and runaround. The rate of consumer complaints to the BBB has increased in the last three to four years, Corey said. “The economy has a lot to do with it. When dollars get tight, sometimes companies do things differently. Maybe they are not paying their employees as well or they are withholding the extra courtesies they used to offer customers. They may not be so generous with offers to resolve issues, either.” The bureau encourages businesses to train employees to proactively deal with consumer issues, keep complaint records and even do marketing research. “If they do not track problems, they are continually putting a Band-Aid on the wound rather than identifying patterns and putting fixes in place,” Corey said. Brand-building does not end when advertisements hit the street. “You have to look at how the product is advertised and how it is sold and serviced afterwards. Some companies don’t have the skills, the education, the training to know what customers expect,” Corey said. “Consumers are willing to pay more for better service. A lot of companies do it well, and it shows. They prosper and grow.” ■

Why businesses survive ... or fail

19 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 2

February 2008 Volume 38 Number 303

FEATURES Editor Roy Malone Editor/Publisher Emeritus Charles L. Klotzer Illustrator Steve Edwards Designer Frank Roth

9 10

Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists: In transition or on the brink / Gloria Ross

12

KMUW How it got its in-depth news and intelligent talk / Benjamin Israel

14

Patty Wente: She‘s the boss / Roy Malone

16

Tom Sullivan: Watchdog with a bite / Repps Hudson

23

Tyndall Report: Top stories of 2007

28

U.S. corporate media deliberately censors news / Peter Phillips

Channels Tripp Frohlichstein Radio History Frank Absher AM/FM Joe Sonderman Ad/PR Rick Stoff Art/Sports/Media Joe Pollack Media/Politics Terry Jones Assistant General Manager/Online Editor Tammy Merrett Board of Editorial Advisers Frank Absher Roy Malone Lisa Bedian Tammy Merrett Ed Bishop Avis Meyer David Cohen Michael Murray Don Corrigan Steve Perron Eileen Duggan Joe Pollack David P. Garino Lou Rose Ted Gest Joe Sonderman William Greenblatt Michael D. Sorkin Daniel Hellinger Jim Kirchherr Lynn Venhaus Board of Directors Robert A. Cohn Michael E. Kahn Don Corrigan Charles L. Klotzer John P. Dubinsky Robert H. Rose Gerald Early Paul Schoomer David P. Garino Dr. Moisy Shopper Ray Hartmann Alberta Slavin Ken Solomon The St. Louis Journalism Review 8380 Olive Blvd St. Louis, Mo. 63132 Phone: (314) 991-1699 • Fax: (314) 997-1898

Book review— New book recounts Post’s glory years / Ted Gest

COLUMNS 3

Letters

4

Off the Record - Media perpetuates stereotypes / Roy Malone - Julius, is that you? / Tripp Frohlichstein - Policing political pinocchios / Frank Absher - Post uses video / Kent Martin - Student newspaper won't be muzzled / Joe Pollack - AP wrong on Missouri election call / Editor & Publisher - Corcoran rant gets him suspended / Roy Malone - Nearly all Americans contaminated by Bisphenol-A - American newspaper ’demographics’ / Anonymous

7

The pitfalls of polling / Charles L. Klotzer

8

Politics & Media Why were the polls so wrong / Terry Jones

18

Sports & Media By the time I got to Phoenix... / Joe Pollack

19

Ad/PR Why businesses survive... or fail / Rick Stoff

20

AM/FM FCC's tinkering could benefit local programming / Joe Sonderman

22

Radio History KMOX-FM's obituary 1962-1981 / Frank Absher

24

Sources Say

26

Media Notes

e-mail: sjreview@sbcglobal.net www.sjreview.org SJR The St. Louis Journalism Review (ISSN: 0036-2972) is published monthly, except bi-monthly in December/January and July/August, by The St. Louis Journalism Review Inc., a non-profit corporation. Subscription rates: $25 (one year), $44 (two years) $62 (three years), $80 (four year), $98 (five years),. Foreign subscriptions higher depending upon country. Periodical postage paid at Washington, Missouri and additional mailing offices. Please enclose stamped, self-addressed envelope with manuscript. Copyright © 2008 by The St. Louis Journalism Review. No portion of this journal may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher. Indexed in the Alternative Press Index. Allow one month for address changes. Postmaster: Send address changes to The St. Louis Journalism Review 8380 Olive Blvd. St. Louis, Mo. 63132. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 73-85160

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 2


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 20

CC favors local programming:

am/fm / Joe Sonderman

F

In the prehistoric days before Ronald Reagan, stations were required to air a certain amount of programming in the public interest.

Joe Sonderman is a traffic producer and anchor for Total Traffic, and reporter and on-air personality for KLOU (103.3 FM).

ming would be required and define just what constitutes local programming. All FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has said so far is, “We tentatively conclude that all broadcasters must air a certain amount of local programming.” It could mean more local news or requiring someone to be in the studio anytime the station is on air. That last one is important, because when bad weather hits unexpectedly, many stations are running pre-recorded forecasts. What if there is a disaster or a terrorist attack on a weekend, when many stations are airing pre-recorded “voice tracks” or satellite programming? The coverage of local issues on the urban formatted stations seems to have been hit especially hard by the increased use of satellite programming in the morning. But industry big shots warn that they can’t compete with the Internet, the iPod and the multitude of other competing sources without cutting costs. And there’s also that whole pesky First Amendment thing. Even the FCC can’t agree. Commissioner Robert McDowell said the government can’t “foist upon local stations its preferences regarding categories of programming. We risk treading on the First Amendment rights of broadcasters with unnecessary regulation. An order reflecting these conclusions will be overturned in court.” Commissioner Michael Copps disagreed, adding, “We allow the nation’s broadcasters to use half a trillion dollars of spectrum—for free. In return, we require that they serve the public interest: devoting at least some airtime for worthy programs that inform viewers, support local arts and culture and educate our children—in other words, that aspire to something beyond just minimizing costs and maximizing revenue.” You can expect station owners, particularly in smaller markets, to complain that they will be bankrupted by new rules. Don’t you believe it. Before the airwaves were handed over to the corporations, station owners in small towns were often operating on shoe-string budgets. But they somehow found a way to have someone on the air. Paying someone $10 an hour to keep the station live won’t bankrupt a multi-million dollar corporation that is using the public airwaves for free.

FCC‘s tinkering could benefit local programming

We’ll see. In December, the Federal Communications Commission once again gave a hand out to the big broadcasting corporations, loosening the ownership rules regarding companies that own broadcast properties and newspapers at the same time. They may have done something good for radio listeners on the same day. The Feds are taking a look at requiring a certain amount of local programming and operating standards of radio stations. But as usual, they are vague on specifics. The plan is also getting a mixed reaction, and a strong thumbs down from the big broadcasting firms. The FCC is proposing that stations form “community advisory boards” and that the commission takes local programming into consideration when deciding to renew a station’s license. You can see where this doesn’t sit well with the corporations who have done everything they can to eliminate live bodies behind the microphone in order to make a few more bucks. Some of them are concerned that the FCC might—God forbid—require live programming 24/7. In the prehistoric days before Ronald Reagan, stations were required to air a certain amount of programming in the public interest. Some corporations did it simply because it was good business. That was particularly true with Robert Hyland at KMOX. Hyland understood that it was possible to make a profit and still have a conscience. Even pop-music stations had to air public affairs programming, which they usually buried on Sunday mornings. Remember “Powerline” on KHTR (103.3 FM)? Before the government handed everything over to the corporations, broadcasters knew that no one technically “owned” a frequency. They were granted a license to broadcast on that frequency and to operate in the interest of the public. Today, license renewals are usually just a formality. The broadcast giants maintain herds of lawyers and lobbyists to ensure public input is quashed. But the other side of this issue has some good points. First of all, since when did more government regulations ever solve anything? The government still has to spell out just how much local program-

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 20


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 21

It was exactly those types of jobs Romanik admitted lying to a grand that provided many future broadcast- jury in the prosecution of gambling ers with their first opportunity. It racketeer Tom Venezia, a case that helped them get some experience. If was front-page news in the Metro they were good, they quickly moved East during much of the 1990s. That on. If they were bad, well at least it makes him a strange choice to do was live and local. That process business with the Church of Latter quickly weeded out those who Day Saints, which runs Bonneville thought broadcasting would be a and will keep the WIL call letters. Romanik runs his broadcast glamorous and easy job. The fact that there are no more jobs where an empire from a strip mall off West aspiring broadcaster can learn the Main in Belleville and is said to be ropes is one reason that many of the interested in more St. Louis broadpersonalities on the air are capable cast properties. He has been broadonly of reading from liner cards or a casting golden oldies and hot talk on WXOZ. He has prep sheet. some wild ideas The FCC needs to about local radio take a good look at and calls himself the license renewal America is “The Grim Reaper of process. As Copps Radio.” He named puts it, the governa powerful and his company “Inment should actually sane Broadcasting.” examine a station’s prosperous This should be record before simply good. rubber stamping a nation. We Romanik is not renewal. saying what will hap“Did the station certainly should pen to the two legshow original proendary personalities grams on local civic insist upon, on WIL—Ron Elz affairs? Did it broadand Davey Lee. It cast political convenand can afford to would be insane not tions? In an era to keep them if he where too many ownsustain, a media moves the golden ers live thousands of oldies to WIL. Golmiles away from the system of which den oldies is about communities they the only music forallegedly serve, do we can be proud. mat that will work these owners meet on an AM with a regularly with local — Walter Cronkite weak nighttime sigleaders and the pubnal. Old timers will lic to receive feedremember that WIL back? Why don’t we was a Top 40 station make sure that’s done before we allow more consoli- from 1958 until the mid-1960s. It was the home of the great Jack Cardation?” Copps said. Walter Cronkite said it best, ney, as well as legendary personali“America is a powerful and prosper- ties such as Dan Ingram and Ron ous nation. We certainly should Lundy. insist upon, and can afford to sustain, a media system of which we can be Good luck to Todd Manley proud.” I’m not sure why anyone would want this job, but there is a new program director at KTRS (550 AM). Romanik does radio Once deregulation and corporate Todd Manley replaces Craig Unger, radio came along, the era of the stand- who replaced Al Brady Law. Manley alone maverick station owner pretty most recently served as assistant much came to an end in the larger program director and creative direcmarkets. Well, St. Louis now has a tor of Tribune’s WGN in Chicago. He station owner who can only be reportedly comes highly recomdescribed as a character. His name is mended by the well-respected Tom Robert Romanik, and his ventures Langmyer, former KMOX general now include WIL (1430 AM) pur- manager now VP/GM at WGN. Manchased from Bonneville for $1.2 mil- ley is a Southern Illinois Universitylion. The license is actually in the Carbondale graduate. KTRS General Manager Tim name of his son because Romanik is Dorsey has a terrible reputation for a convicted felon. Romanik is a strip-club tycoon, meddling with program directors. former private detective and former We will have to wait and see if police chief of Washington Park, Ill. Dorsey does something out of charHe bought WXOZ (1510 AM) in 2006. acter and lets Manley do his job. ■

You don’t have to look far for news in St. Louis Get your copy of SJR for the single-issue price of $4 at any of these locations: Left Bank Books 399 N. Euclid St. Louis (314) 726-6010

World News (Clayton) 4 S. Central Ave. St. Louis (314) 726-6010

World News (Westport) 308 Westport Plaza St. Louis (314) 434-9449

Barnes & Noble Booksellers 8871 Ladue Rd. St. Louis (314) 862-6280

21 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 22

hen KMOX ownership announced plans for a new experimental FM station in 1941, international circumstances prevented the project from coming to life. When the station finally was born two decades later, no one seemed to know what to do with it. While FM broadcasting in 1941 was in an experimental stage, the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 of that year put a halt to technological broadcast development, and although several FM stations signed on in St. Louis following the war, most “went dark” within a couple of years. On Feb. 12, 1962, KMOX-FM signed on. The broadcast day initially ran from 6 a.m. until midnight, and it was a 100 percent simulcast of the KMOXAM programming. It was this simulcasting practice that had caused the failure of those other FM stations in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. Listeners, it seems, saw no reason to buy a new radio to listen to programs they could hear on the AM radios they already owned. Then in 1967, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that 50 percent of FM programming on co-owned stations had to be original rather than simulcast. KMOX-FM began providing its listeners with what was called “The Young Sound,” a format consisting of middle-of-the-road music with selected current hits mixed in. These music tapes were provided by CBS in New York. The fact that the music was in stereo was a big selling point and gave reason to listeners who had considered buying high quality FM receivers. This evolved into “The Sound of the ‘70s.” A St. Louis Globe-Democrat article on April 11, 1970, quoted station General Manager Robert Hyland: “KMOX-FM stereo … avoids the hard rock to concentrate on adult pop—the tops in popular music for the 20-40 age group.” In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in

Radio History/Frank Absher

W

The black monster filled an entire room and contained all sorts of electronic bells and whistles.

Frank Absher is a St. Louis radio historian. St. Louis radio history is available online at www.stlradio.com

November of that year, Hyland said, “To keep KMOX-FM stereo on top of things, we select new music each day. Each week we review the music we are broadcasting and add at least eight new singles and 10 new albums to the station’s repertoire … Our future plans include specials devoted exclusively to various types and categories of music, as well as programs built entirely around individual artists.” Hyland didn’t mention that his FM station would also serve as a dumping ground for sports broadcasts. In those days, KMOX-AM had play-by-play rights to every major sports team in the city. When there were two teams scheduled to play at the same time due to the overlap of sports schedules, one team would have its broadcast shifted to the FM station. Most of the musical programming decisions came from Bob Osborne, a KMOX employee who wore many hats. He was also heard as a deejay on KMOXFM and was the voice on many of the station imaging spots. Many other people were deejays on the station during those two decades, and their paths to the seventh floor studios at 1 Memorial Drive weren’t always pleasant. There were times when GM Hyland would “farm out” talent from KMOX. Some saw it as a punishment— radio’s equivalent of the proverbial trip to Siberia. But there were others who used their announcing jobs there to supplement their free-lance voiceover income. Live deejay shows were seldom heard on KMOX-FM. Instead, taped voice tracks were inserted into the station’s huge automation system, in the hope that listeners might think they were hearing someone live. The black monster filled an entire room and contained all sorts of electronic bells and whistles. There was even a large tape cartridge that contained a time signature

KMOX-FM‘s obituary 1962-1981

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 22

continued on page 27


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

2:19 PM

Page 23

23 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 24

Fortunes improve for some at Lee he financial picture for Lee Enterprises continues to look grim, but the executives are raking in more and more dough, lucrative stock options and other benefits. Lee’s SEC filings show chairman and CEO Mary Junck got total compensation for 2007 to the tune of $3.8 million. It was $3.1 million for 2006. That included a 3.1 percent pay raise to $825,000 and hefty bonuses and stock, even though she did not meet her targeted goals. The “discretionary” bonus was recommended by the board’s compensation committee, which includes two directors from St. Louis—Mark Vittert and Andrew Newman. Outside directors—who are parttimers—each get more than $100,000 in cash and stock. Kevin Mowbray, publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lee’s flagship newspaper, also missed his numbers but got a discretionary bonus anyway, bringing his total take home pay to $715,000. That makes him the fourth highest-paid exec at Lee. Also, in a change in Lee’s severance pay provisions, eight top Lee execs, including Mowbray, will benefit from enhanced golden parachutes should they lose their jobs through a takeover of the corporation. When former Post publisher Terry Egger left Lee in 2006 to go to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he walked away with almost $1.8 million.

Sources say...

T

Lee's fortunes—not so much eanwhile, Wall Street continues to fault Lee because of lower advertising and circulation revenue that resulted in a 17 percent drop in profits in the quarter ended Dec. 31. Lee’s shares dropped below $10; they had traded as high as $35.65 during the past year. Last month, Bloomberg News reported that Lee’s stock market value was $515 million, after a 63 percent decline during the past year. Yet by Lee’s accounting, it has subscriber lists worth $849 million, plus $1.51 billion of good will. The newspaper chain plans to buy back up to $30 million in Lee stock, in an apparent effort to boost its stock value. Junck told the AP that the company was weathering an economic slowdown “as well as possible, in light of the wide-ranging impact of the real estate slump.” Employees at the Post are also trying to weather a storm in the form of

M

cutbacks similar to those at many newspapers. The paper has had two employee buyouts since Lee bought it in 2005, resulting in the loss of about 200 newsroom staffers.

The Nancy Miller story number of employees without Guild protection—managers and even longtime editors—have been terminated to trim payroll costs, with the company saying they retired. One to whom this happened, was Nancy Miller, the editor of the Lifestyle magazine. Despite 30 years of stellar work at the Post, she was fired at age 58, as a cost-saving measure last June. As a management employee she was exempt from Guild membership and the job security it provides. Colleagues knew her leaving was not her decision, but she had to go along with the fiction that she “retired” because she had to look for other work and didn’t want it known she was fired. When Miller was tragically murdered in her condo Jan. 31, the news stories resulted in scores of e-mail messages from readers and friends to a Post Weblog that praised her professionalism, goodness and the excellent column she wrote in Lifestyle. Readers still didn’t know she had been fired. Editor Arnie Robbins was quoted as saying, “She was smart, a skilled editor and journalist, a great colleague.” If she was that good, why not use some “discretionary” judgment and keep her? The only clue as to what really happened was in Bill McClellan’s column about Miller’s death. He wrote that her leaving was not entirely voluntary, that she had to again enter the job market, and that “if she felt even the slightest bit of rancor or bitterness, she hid it completely.'' In another case of penny pinching, an ad sales rep was denied her $5,000 bonus even though she met her yearly performance goal within nine months. Her bosses had changed her territory and used that as an excuse not to pay her bonus. The Guild appealed the bonus denial, and the rep got her money. She was cheered at the Guild’s recent annual dinner meeting, especially when it was announced she also won a new car through a United Way random drawing.

A

Ouch! That hurts

T

he weekly St. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune took it on

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 24

continued on page 26


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

the chin when it came out with a front-page headline on Jan. 31 saying: “John Edwards convinced he will win Democratic presidential nomination.” Trouble was, Edwards had announced a day earlier that he was pulling out of the race. Reminds us of the Jan. 6 Parade magazine cover story on Benazir Bhutto as a candidate for prime minister in Pakistan. She was assassinated on Dec. 27. Such are the hazards of print journalism. And Post editorial cartoonist R.J. Matson got his own OUCH! His cartoon just before the New Hampshire primary showed Hillary Clinton as the loser, wearing a Tshirt saying, “I got crushed by Obama.” But she won. Matson’s next-day cartoon showed him sitting dejected in front of his drawing board. The caption read: “How do you get yourself out of the house and go back to work after you have stupidly published a cartoon that predicted Hillary Clinton would lose badly in the New Hampshire primary?”

Majerus scoop by Miklasz he Post printed a sports column by Bernie Miklasz on the front page recently, and rightly so. Miklasz got an exclusive interview with St. Louis U.'s basketball coach Rick Majerus after Archbishop Raymond Burke tried to silence him over Majerus’ comments favoring stem cell research and a woman’s right to choose an abortion. Majerus made the comments at a rally for Hillary Clinton. Burke said he would deny Majerus holy communion if he didn’t retract his comments. It was another of Burke’s efforts to muzzle Catholic public figures that he thinks are flouting church rules. It was pure controversy, and Miklasz was able to get a long interview in which Majerus defended his views. “I’m not letting him change my mind,” the coach said. He explained that he got a Catholic education at Marquette University, a Jesuit school, and was taught “that I can make a value judgment, and my value judgment happens to be different from the Archbishop’s.” Majerus is in his first year as SLU’s coach, He was hired by the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, who has kept mum on the brouhaha. ■

T

Page 25

CRUSADERS Continued from page 17

and opposing gerrymandering Kay Drey: Environmentalist fighting nuclear and toxic waste Hedy Epstein: Peace activist and Holocaust survivor who criticizes treatment of Palestinians by Israel Ed Golterman: Advocate for reviving and renovating Kiel Opera House Percy Green: Demonstrator for civil rights and minority employment

Bill Ramsey: Anti-war protestor The Rev. Larry Rice: Protector of the homeless, provider of housing, food, heat and air conditioning for the poor The late Billie Roberts: Partnered with the late attorney Lewis Green; she critiqued the Metropolitan Sewer District Norman Seay: Civil rights advocate and monitor of police

The late Rev. Buck Jones: Advocate for decent housing for the poor

Fred Lindecke

The late Paul Preisler: Redistricting lawyer supporting one man/one vote

Fred Lindecke is a retired St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter.

SULLIVAN Continued from page 17

new information to light—as long as the information they impart is sound. If it’s not, then they become just more Chicken Littles in the political process and are increasingly marginal. “Any political activist naturally serves a positive role for the system,” said Ken Warren, professor of political science at St. Louis University. “But he has to be responsible. You have to consider the source.” Tom Shrout, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit, an advocacy group that supports public transportation, has concluded that reporters too often turn to Sullivan instead of doing their own hard work. “I’m concerned that he’s an easy substitute for good reporting,” Shrout

SJR is a not-for-profit organization and can accept tax-deductible contributions

said. He also objects to Sullivan’s approach, which is to look almost solely at numbers of a large-scale project like the MetroLink expansion while ignoring what he considers the larger social good of having a lightrail infrastructure, creating jobs and getting more people out of their cars and pickups and into trains and busses. Shrout also thinks Sullivan has gotten away with making himself seem more weighty than he is, giving the impression that he represents a large group of people when perhaps he represents only himself. ■ Repps Hudson, now a freelance writer, retired last fall as a business columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but still writes a weekly column for the paper.

Contributions would be much appreciated to promote the growth of SJR

Please enter my subscription for _____ year(s) Check for _________ is enclosed Name: Address: City/Zip:

_____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Send to:

St. Louis Journalism Review P.O. Box 12474 St. Louis, MO 63132

25 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 26

people people people people people people people people people people people

Media Notes MEDIA KSDK (Channel 5) Deanne Lane, anchor/reporter, has signed a new contract with the station. Her duties include reporting and anchoring for the 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts. She has been at the station for more than 24 years KTRS-AM Todd Manley was appointed program director. Previously, he was the creative and program director at WGN in Chicago. Belleville News-Democrat Todd Eschmann, recently editor of the O‘Fallon Progress, has been promoted to be in charge of all the News-Democrat weekly newspapers (O’Fallon, Highland News-Leader, New Athens, Marissa, etc.) and the News-Democrat non-daily publications, such as the Sunday Magazine and Lipstick (a women’s focus advertising project). MEDIA AWARDS St. Louis Post-Dispatch Reporter Aisha Sultan has won the Terry Hughes Award from the St. Louis Newspaper Guild. A panel of previous winners selected her. The award is named after Hughes, a Post columnist who died of cancer in 1991. University of Missouri-St. Louis Magazine The campus magazine earned three awards in a regional competition for university advancement from The Council for Advancement and Support of Education, District 6. *Gold for Excellence in Communications, Overall Publications: Publications Program Improvement *Silver for Excellence in Writing: Profile, Personality Article or Feature for “Magnetic Musician,” writ-

ten by Ryan Heinz *Bronze for Excellence in Graphic Design: Cover, Four or More Colors designed by Sandy Morris, graphic designer, and photographed by August Jennewein. Ad/PR American Heart Association The association appointed Deborah Allen regional vice president of communications and marketing. Previously, she worked at Edward Jones and at the Missouri Department of Transportation. Common Ground Public Relations Inc. The agency added Lisa Lance as senior account executive. Sandbox Creative The agency hired Angela Flach, account coordinator, and Stephen Hartrich, creative director. Deana Myers was promoted to vice president of marketing and sales, and Matt McKenzie, to production manager. The Vandiver Group, Inc. Kelly Ferrara and Laura Lock were promoted to executive vice president and senior team leader, respectively. John Combest was promoted to team leader. AWARDS AD/PR The Vandiver Group, Inc. President and CEO Donna Vandiver has received a 2008 Enterprising Women of the Year Award. The national recognition is awarded by Enterprising Women magazine. She has also been named president-elect of Pinnacle Worldwide. SOURCES Jazz History Dennis Owsley, host of “Jazz Unlimited” on KWMU on Sunday nights, has written a new book called “City of Gabriels: The History of Jazz in St. Louis, 1845-1873.” Herb Weitman Exhibition An exhibition featuring the work of retired Washington University photographer Herb Weitman has opened in the Weitman Gallery in Steinberg Hall. The inaugural exhibition remains on view through midMarch and features photos from

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 26

Weitman’s four decades at the university and also from his work as photographer for the St. Louis football Cardinals. INVITATIONS Forest Park topic of Press Club luncheon Dick Weiss and Sally Altman, authors of “Forest Park, The Jewel of St. Louis,” will talk about the past, present and future of Forest Park. They will also present photographs and will be available for book signing. The luncheon will be held at 6141 Lagoon Drive in Forest Park. The clubhouse is near the park entrance at Forsyth Boulevard. Box lunch is $14 for members, $15 for non-members. For more information or to RSVP, call 636230-1973 or pay by credit card at www.stlpressclub.org. Washington University Literary Calendar This literary calendar is compiled by the Center for Humanities at Washington University and is published with the center’s permission. All events are free unless otherwise indicated. Author events are followed by signings.

Tuesday, Feb. 19 Main Street Books features a discussion of “Book Thief” by Markus Susan, 9 a.m., Main Street Books, 307 S. Main St., St. Charles, (636) 949-0105 The Book Discussion Group will be reading “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards, 2 p.m., Auditorium, St. Louis County Library-Florissant Valley Branch, 195 New Florissant Rd. S., (314) 9217200 The American Journeys Book Discussion Group will discuss “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck 3 p.m., St. Louis County Library-Headquarters, 1640 S. Lindbergh, (314) 994-3300 The Bridgeton Trails Book Discussion Group will discuss “Hannah Coulter” by Wendell Barry, 7 p.m., Room 2, St. Louis County Library-Bridgeton Trails, 3455 McKelvey Rd., (314) 291-7570. The Tuesday Night Writer’s Critique Group will meet to read and critique each other’s work. For more info, contact Susan at 3w6kgd64@dea.spamcon.org, 7 p.m., Barnes & Noble-Crestwood, 9618 Watson Rd. St. Louis Writers Guild pre-


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 27

people people people people people people people people people people people sents Loud Mouth Open MIC Night, 8 p.m., The Mack, 4615 Macklind Ave. This live performance reading event is for writers and guests who are 21+. No charge; register to read at www.stlwritersguild.org; (314) 8213823 St. Louis Public Library features the Machacek Book Discussion Group, 10 a.m., St. Louis Public Library-Machacek Branch, 6424 Scanlan Ave., (314) 781-2948 The St. Louis Public LibraryBook Discussion Group will discuss “Dirt Music” by Tim Winton, 6:45 p.m., St. Louis Public Library-Kingshighway Branch, 2260 S. Vandeventer, (314) 771-5450 Wednesday, Feb. 20 The Book Discussion Group will be reading “Daughter of Fortune” by Isabel Allende, 7:30 p.m., St. Louis County Library-Florissant Valley Branch, 9195 New Florissant Rd. S., (314) 921-7200 Thursday, Feb. 21 Elizabeth McCracken, author of “Niagara Falls All Over Again,” will read from her work, 1:30 p.m., Pearson House, Webster University, 8260 Big Bend, (314) 968-7170

Book Journeys will discuss “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 2 p.m., St. Louis County Library-Indian Trails, 8400 Delport, (314)428-5424 Friday, Feb. 22 Let’s Chat Book Discussion Group will review “The Temple” by Matt Reilly, 2 p.m., St. Louis County Library-Daniel Boone Branch, 300 Clarkson Rd., (636) 227-9630 Saturday, Feb. 23 Write-Along Writer’s Workshop will critique your writing. All writers are welcome, 11 a.m., St. Louis County Library-Indian Trails, 8400 Delport, (314) 428-5424 The Book Discussion Group will discuss “The Cloud Atlas” by Liam Callanan. St. Louis Public LibraryBuder Branch, 4401 Hampton, (314) 352-2900 Authors @ Your Library presents Robert Bradley, who will discuss his book “Stories about the Black Experience,” St. Louis Public Library-Julia Davis Branch, 4415 Natural Bridge Ave., (314) 383-3021

“Salem Falls” by Jodi Picoult, 2 p.m., St. Louis County LibraryThornhill, 12863 Willowyck Drive, (314) 878-7730 ¡Leamos! Book Discussion Group will discuss “El Carterode Neruda” by Antonio Skarmeta (Chile), St. Louis Public Library-Carpenter Branch, 3309 S. Grand Blvd., (314) 772-6586 Tuesday, Feb. 26 As the Page Turns Book Discussion Club will meet and discuss Tonya Bolden’s “And Not Be Afraid To Dare,” 7 p.m., St. Louis County Library-Weber Road Branch, 4444 Weber Road, (314) 638-2210 The St. Louis Poetry Center presents Poetry @ the Point, featuring Deborah Mashibini and JoyCe Blue, (636) 225-5423, doors open at 7 p.m., reading starts at 7:30 p.m., The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton, Maplewood

discuss

Wednesday, Feb. 27 The Central Book Discussion Group will discuss “Death Comes for the Archbishop” by Willa Cather, St. Louis Public Library-Central Branch, 1301 Olive, (314) 539-0396

several shows in a short time, and they were only paid for the time spent recording. It didn’t seem to bother station management that there were occasional technical miscues, causing listeners to hear the announcers introducing a song that had been heard 10 minutes before.

The end of KMOX-FM began in August 1981 when CBS began the national experiment known as “Hit Radio.” The station’s playlist began its transformation with more current pop hits being added, and by the end of the year the KMOX-FM call letters were dropped, replaced by KHTR. ■

Times recounts how former Post Reporter Gerald Boyd, who had been the Times' managing editor for only five days in 2001 when terrorist-controlled jetliners struck the World Trade Center, managed that week’s “battlefield coverage.” Harris interviewed Boyd before his death in 2006. The priest sex abuse scandal might have never been exposed had it not been for new Boston Globe Editor Martin Baron’s decision on his first day on the job in 2001 to put a team to work uncovering evidence that initially was sealed by judges. Harris tells these stories and many other engrossing tales in a fine history of modern journalism that many forget about in an age of cutbacks and mergers. Harris notes, for example, that the Arkansas Gazette’s “coura-

geous stand” on 1957 school desegregation and the two Pulitzer Prizes that came with it “get scant mention” in the now-combined Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s history. Perhaps Harris’ recounting of outstanding newspaper work will inspire the Post and other newspapers to overcome their financial challenges and produce more work that improves public life. Harris, who is now senior editor of The Economist Group’s Boston-based CFO magazine, expresses hope that “Pulitzer’s Gold” “will recall the irreplaceable role of the press in American democracy.” ■

Monday, Feb. 25 The Thornbirds

will

Radio History Continued from page 22

for every minute of the day (“It’s 12:15 at KMOX-FM.”), with everything designed to make the station sound live. But it cost CBS less to pay people to record voice tracks because each jock could turn out

Book review Continued from page 9

that none of them was a slam-dunk. The Times published the Pentagon Papers over the objection of its own law firm, which warned that the paper would subject itself to criminal prosecution. On Watergate, it’s now accepted wisdom that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s dogged reporting was a model of modern investigative reporting. At the time, however, the panel of journalists examining possibilities for the Public Service Pulitzer wanted to give it instead to a Chicago Tribune investigation of voting fraud, Harris writes. The higher-ranking Pulitzer Advisory Board overruled the panel, and the Washington Post won. The chapter about the New York

Ted Gest, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter and a member of SJR’s Board of Editorial Advisers, is president of Criminal Justice Journalists based in Washington, D.C.

27 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 28

U.S. corporate media deliberately censor news by Peter Phillips he corporate media in the United States likes to think of itself as the official most accurate tus Act, which had placed strict prohibitions on milinews reporters of the day. The New York Times tary involvement in domestic law enforcement in the motto of “all the news that’s fit to print” is a clear U.S. since just after the Civil War. example of this perspective. However, with corporate Additionally, under the code name Operation FALmedia coverage that increasingly focuses on a narrow CON I (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally), range of celebrity updates, news from “official” gov- three federally coordinated mass arrests occurred ernment sources and sensationalized crimes and dis- between April 2005 and October 2006. In an unpreceasters, the self-justification of being the most fit is no dented move, more than 30,000 “fugitives” were longer valid in the United States. arrested in the largest dragnet in the nation’s history. We need to broaden our understanding of censor- The operations, coordinated by the Justice Departship in the United States. The dictionary definition of ment and Homeland Security, directly involved over direct government control of news as 960 agencies (state, local and federal) censorship is no longer adequate. The and are the first time in U.S. history private corporate media in the United that all of the domestic police agenStates fail to significantly cover and/or cies have been put under the direct deliberately censor numerous imporcontrol of the federal government. The corporate tant news stories every year. Finally, the term “terrorism” has The common theme of the most been dangerously expanded to include media ignored censored stories over the past year is any acts that interfere, or promotes the systematic erosion of human interference, with the operations of the fact that rights and civil liberties in both the animal enterprises. The Animal EnterUnited States and the world at large. prise Terrorism Act (AETA), signed habeas corpus The corporate media ignored the fact into law on Nov. 27, 2006, expands the that habeas corpus can now be susdefinition of an “animal enterprise” to pended for anyone by order of the can now be any business that “uses or sells anipresident. With the approval of conmals or animal products.” The law gress, the Military Commissions Act essentially defines protesters, boysuspended for (MCA) of 2006, signed by President cotters or picketers of businesses in Bush on Oct. 17, 2006, allows for the the United States as terrorists. anyone by order suspension of habeas corpus for U.S. Most people in the United States citizens and non-citizens alike. While believe in our Bill of Rights and value of the president. media, including a lead editorial in personal freedoms. Yet our corporate The New York Times, Oct. 19, 2006, media in the past year failed to adehave given false comfort that Ameriquately inform us about important can citizens will not be the victims of changes in our civil rights and liberthe measures legalized by this act, the ties. law is quite clear that “any person” can be targeted. Despite our busy lives, we want to be informed The text in the MCA allows for the institution of a about serious decisions made by the powerful and rely military alternative to the constitutional justice sys- on the corporate media to keep us abreast of signifitem for “any person” regardless of American citizen- cant changes. When the media fails to cover these ship. The MCA effectively does away with habeas cor- issues, what else can we call it but censorship? pus rights for all people living in the United States A broader definition of censorship in America today deemed by the president to be enemy combatants. needs to include any interference, deliberate or not, A law enacted last year allowing the government to with the free flow of vital news information to the more easily institute martial law is another civil liber- American peop1e. With the size of the major media ties story ignored by the corporate media in 2007. The giants in the United States, there is no excuse for conJohn Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 allows sistently missing major news stories that affect all our the president to station military troops anywhere in lives. ■ the United States and take control of state-based National Guard units without consent of the governor Peter Phillips is a professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and or local authorities, in order to “suppress public dis- director of Project Censored. This article is reprinted with permission from order.” The law, in effect, repealed the Posse Comita- the newsletter of Project Censored.

T

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 28


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 3

commentary

letters Killenberg was the best SJR: What a pleasant surprise to read the long overdue story (by Sue Ann Wood, January 2008) concerning the outstanding newspaper career of George Killenberg, retired St. Louis Globe-Democrat executive editor. I’m sure there would not have been any trouble finding ex-Globe-Democrat editors and reporters who would have voiced their admiration of George’s leadership. Speaking for myself, I worked for six managing editors during my 55 years at the Globe-Democrat, and I regard Killenberg as the best in a very challenging job. He demanded fairness and accuracy from his news staff at all times. He was a credit to his profession from his start as a reporter in 1941, and as city editor, managing editor and executive editor. Through the years, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, our chief competitor, always enjoyed having a larger local news staff. However, George’s ability to motivate his people generally evened the score. The Globe-Democrat’s daily circulation exceeded the Post’s before its owners made the deal in 1984 merging this historic newspaper with the Post, making the Post St. Louis’ major newspaper survivor.

At 93, I am still a daily newspaper reader. My hope is that the current owners of the Post realize what kind of support is needed to bring the newspaper back to its former status. St. Louis needs a strong newspaper. Ted Schafers Retired Globe-Democrat senior editor and business editor University City

CORRECTION n the January issue of SJR it was incorrectly reported that Gus Lumpe, one of the founders of SJR, was deceased. We regret the error. Gus is retired and living at a veterans’ home, according to his wife, Sheila.

I

SJREVIEW.ORG The new site is active, but parts are still under construction At sjreview.org, e-mail your subscription account number or name and address to get an archives password Site created by Richard Gavatin of IMS, Inc. 3 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 4

off the record Media perpetuates stereotypes

of expression, but you can’t just say whatever you want,” she said. “It’s a huge step for journalists to be exploring these problems.” Hoejbjerg said anti-Muslim feelings were present all over Europe, even among political parties, and various groups pushed the limits on what is acceptable to say. “I’m a person in the middle, not a fanatic, but suddenly I was a Muslim voice,” she said, and she agreed to write a piece about the cultural turmoil for The New York Times. The media’s treatment of Hispanics

efore Samuel L. Clemens became famous as Mark Twain, he was a newspaper reporter in San Francisco— but he got fired. Clemens was writing about how badly police were treating Chinese immigrants. His editor fired him, saying he didn’t “appreciate the prejudices” of their readers. It was about the time that Congress passed a law to ban immigration of the Chinese, the only time the law ever prohibited members of a specific ethnic group from entering this country. So, how well does the media do today in reporting on immigrants and helping shape public opinion about them? Not so good, judging by two panel discussions held recently in St. Louis that discussed stereotyping by the media, here and abroad. A group of Danish journalists and educators touring the United States was invited to speak at a From left, Danish journalists meeting of the GateFikre Filali EL-Gourfti way Media Literacy and Rushbah Rashid Hoejbjerg Partners. They talked about the 2005 newspaper cartoons in Denmark that de- and stereotyping of illegal immigrants picted Muhammed as a terrorist and was the subject of a panel at a recent enflamed Muslim sensabilities across meeting of the Society of Professional Europe and the Middle East. Demon- Journalists. CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tostrations turned into riots and dozens night” was mentioned frequently as an were killed. example of negative reporting on the Fikre Filali EL-Gourfti, a Dane of immigration issue. Moroccan heritage, was working at a Gilbert Bailon, the new editorial daily newspaper at the time. Now he’s page editor of the St. Louis Post-Disa journalist with the Association For patch, is Hispanic and had worked preA Responsible Press. Asked if he viously in Dallas where he said there thought publishing the cartoons was are 1.8 million Latinos, compared with a mistake, he said, “It goes both 50,000 in St. Louis. The Post was critways … yes and no, depending on icized for using the term “illegal immiyour view of freedom of expression.” grants” in stories or headlines where a One cartoon showed Muhammed Hispanic person is involved. with a dynamite stick in his turban. “I don’t agree with it … it has to be “Was it clever? No,’’ he said. “They relevant,” Bailon said. should have thought more about the He said that more in-depth stories consequences. It was a provocation are needed about the Hispanic immion the part of the editor… it was dis- grant population. respectful.” “This is a human story … thouA freelance Danish journalist with sands have disappeared,’’ trying to the group, Rushbah Rashid Hoejbjerg, enter this country, he said. The media was born in Pakistan. She said Den- rarely uses the term “illegal employmark hasn’t been very multi-ethnic ers” but always uses “illegal workers” until the last decade or so. to describe undocumented workers, “Stereotyping is a fairly new phe- he said. nomenon … you might have freedom Panelist Jorge Riopedre, secretary

B

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 4

of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in St. Louis, said, “The media’s use of the term ‘illegals’ paints a picture of a population that is intrinsically bad and criminal.” Roy Malone

Julius, is that you? ne of the icons in TV news broadcasting for the last 35 years in St. Louis is Julius Hunter. His name was synonymous with serious news. After retiring from KMOV (Channel 4) and working for St. Louis University for some time, he’s now doing TV commercials. As Hunter pops up on the tube, his name and credentials ("Veteran News Anchor/Author) appear in the lower third of the screen. This is how he begins: “Let me tell you, after a third of a century in the news business, there’s very little that impresses me anymore. Then I saw a demonstration of the triple pane windows that I found simply amazing.” He goes on to say how much he loves Amazing Siding and Windows, which he tells us are being installed in his house as he speaks. Hunter’s TV testimonials are similar to those of Jill Farmer, former KTVI (Channel 2) consumer reporter, who switched to doing commercials. Retired TV anchor Karen Foss became a PR person at AmerenUE, and Dick Ford has done commercials for Frontier Mortgage. Hunter sees himself as a serious author. He is, in fact, quite talented. But somehow it’s a bit tougher to take what he’s doing on television these days that seriously.

O

Tripp Frohlichstein

Policing political pinocchios ut away your hip boots. No matter how deep it gets over the next 10 months, you now have the ability to cut through the political rhetoric and sort out the morsels of truth from the plethora of pronouncements. We are indebted to Emily Yahr at the American Journalism Review for enlightening us to two fact-checking Web sites dedicated to digging through the dish and pointing out the factual errors in what national politicians are saying. Politifact.com is a joint effort of Congressional Quarterly and the St.

P


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 5

off the record Petersburg Times. Personnel from both publications do the research to track down the facts, which are then presented in detail on the site, along with a rating of just how truthful the political statement is. The tonguein-cheek rating approach is in the form of a Truth-O-Meter, with the most egregious misstatements garnering a “Pants on fire” designation. Over at the Washington Post, Michael Dobbs has put together a blog that is designed to point out fallacies in politicians’ statements and claims from Washington agencies as well. The site, blog.washingtonpost.com/factchecker/ uses a Pinocchio graphic to indicate the degree of untruthfulness and also encourages readers to post their comments on the findings. Both sites are worthy of bookmarking for reference, as the number of political claims explodes over the coming months. Frank Absher

Post uses video or decades, television was the only place where film and videotape were used to report news. Radio relied on audio, and newspapers could only tell their stories on the printed page. Not anymore. Thanks to the Internet, those lines have become permanently blurred. With the expanding convergence of media technology, video and audio can now be found on virtually every media Web site. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is discovering new ways to draw more visitors to STLtoday.com—video is one attraction. A section of the home page of STLtoday.com is devoted to video from the Associated Press, as well as from the paper’s own photographers. “We look for video to enhance stories,” said Bob Rose, deputymanaging editor for STLtoday.com. “If a story could be told better with video than with still pictures, we’ll look at that.” It’s no longer unusual to see staff photographers from the Post covering a story with a digital video camera in addition to a still camera. Some reporters carry a still camera as well. Every story’s potential as a video link is explored before committing it to the Web site. “Video helps show the emotion of stories that you can’t always see in print,” Rose said.

F

He noted that video is sometimes used as a side to certain stories. After some initial hesitation, Rose said staff photographers have embraced video. He credits the paper’s Assistant Director of Photography Gary Hairlson with this acceptance. Hairlson provides oneday training sessions for photographers. The number of video plays on STLtoday shot up to more than 172,000 in January, up from 66,000 plays in December. The spike is due to several things, including more local video being produced and better placement and promotion of video on the site, said Publisher Kevin Mowbray in a memo to staff. So far, the most popular videos among visitors to STLtoday.com have been: • A video of the DUI arrest in Florida of St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa. “We wanted to let viewers see the video and make up their own minds,” Rose said. He said the editors considered using video of La Russa being booked but decided it was “gratuitous” and decided against running it. • Demolition of the Tamm Avenue overpass. “People just like to see things get blown up,” Rose chuckled. • Video of playing a recording of “Taps” at local military funerals instead of having musicians. Rose credits photographer Robert Cohen’s work with striking an emotional chord among viewers. “I’d like to think his video work influenced the eventual decision to suspend the plan (to use a recording of ‘Taps’).” Rose said the Post also has found video useful in capturing political candidates and their speeches when they visit St. Louis. “Seeing candidates during their stops in St. Louis helps people see how they behave in our community,” he said. Rose’s comments echo the Post’s internal guidelines for reporters to follow when writing for STLtoday.com. “With our Web site, we can be more competitive with TV … the newspaper’s specialty is the context, analysis, perspective, background and story-telling only we can provide.” Rose said the Web site will not

compete with local TV stations for coverage of breaking news stories, such as fires and traffic accidents. On the other hand, Rose quickly added, “TV should view us as competition, but we’ll use video differently.” Kent Martin

Student newspaper won’t be muzzled ndiana University recently did all journalists proud when the Indiana Daily Student stood up to a Washingtonbased bully who tried to intimidate the student paper. It seems that the university had invited Meghan O’Sullivan, a former deputy U.S. security adviser, to speak on campus at a fee of $3,000 plus $2,000 to buy her a gift and to provide dinner for a group of faculty and students. The speech was to be free and open to the public. The school’s Department of InterOrganizational Development picked up the larger payment, the Student Alliance for National Security took care of the remainder. As time for the speech neared, O’Sullivan reminded the Daily Student reporter that her comments were to be off the record, as specified in her contract with the university. “Nonsense!” or words to that effect, said the student paper. The appearance was free, open to anyone who wanted to attend and impossible to monitor who would hear it, even if the student reporter were willing to apply the muzzle and make sure it was tight enough for the standards set by a lower-level Washington bureaucrat. When she heard that the student newspaper would treat her remarks as on-the-record, some 15 minutes or so before she was to begin, O’Sullivan became severely ill with an upset stomach and canceled the speech. However, a while later, after the student reporter was gone, she was miraculously healthy again and able to attend the dinner attended by faculty members, campus leaders and members of the Student Alliance for National Security. We can probably assume O’Sullivan received her gift as well. Whether or not O’Sullivan received her fee is yet to be determined.

I

Joe Pollack continued on next page

5 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

2:19 PM

Page 6

off the record (continued from previous page) AP wrong on Missouri election call he Associated Press is highly trusted when it comes to calling election winners. But nobody’s perfect. In the 2000 presidential election, while the TV networks prematurely were calling George Bush the winner based on the vote in Florida, the AP wisely did not call the election for Bush. But the AP mistakenly called the Feb. 5 Democratic primary election in Missouri for Hillary Clinton, who had been the leader as returns came in. But Barack Obama overtook Clinton with the help of late returns from St. Louis County. The AP had called it for Clinton at 10:03 p.m. but backed off at 11:32 p.m. Two hours later it declared Obama the winner. Obama finished with 49.2 percent of the vote, Clinton with 48 percent. They will split the 72 Democratic delegates evenly. There was no competitive rush that led to the false call, said Kathleen Carroll, the AP’s executive editor. “We need to understand what was missed and how it was missed and learn from it,’” she said. The AP found that at least 18 newspapers in the nation used the erroneous story saying Clinton was the winner in Missouri.

T

Editor & Publisher

Corcoran rant gets him suspended rovocative radio talk show host J.C. Corcoran got a muchdeserved two-week suspension after he said on the air he wanted to shoot some AmerenUE executives because his power went off during the Super Bowl. “I swear I’m going to get on top of your building with an AK-47 and just start picking people off,” Corcoran said during his Feb. 4 morning show on KHIT (K-HITS 96 FM). Corcoran also made racial remarks about Richard Mark, an AmerenUE vice president who is African American. In a mocking black-person’s voice, Corcoran pretended to be Mark saying, “Yeah, that’s right ... I am running the power company over here. It’s like a black power thing. You get it? That’s my junk man. Get it? Black power.” The chief executive of AmerenUE, Thomas Voss, said, “People can complain about our service … we

P

think it crosses the line when it was personal, racial and it was violent. We think that’s way too far.” Officials at Emmis Communications, owner of the station, suspended Corcoran without pay for two weeks. Corcoran, a few days after his rant, apologized to listeners saying that he “should have known better.” He also said he felt the incident was “completely behind us.” Corcoran has a history of saying crude things about people, both on and off the air. He knows how to create a buzz, or is it the sound of something ticking? Roy Malone

Nearly all Americans contaminated by Bisphenol-A niversity of Missouri-Columbia researcher Frederick vom Saal, a professor of reproductive biology and neurobiology, is quoted in Missouri Resources (Winter 2008, p. 15) that traces of Bisphenol-A have been found “in nearly every American tested for it and that tests on laboratory animals found it produces a long list of ailments.” Vom Saal has spent years studying Bisphenol-A and its effects. Although valuable for making plastic containers, the substance leaches from food containers in small doses that increase over time and after the container has been heated. The research findings, which are being are being ignored by the media, are being contested by industry groups.

U

people who wouldn’t mind running the country, if they could find the time and they didn’t have to leave southern California to do it. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren’t sure who’s running the country and don’t really care as long as they can get a seat on the train. The New York Post is read by people who don’t care who’s running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren’t sure there is a country, or that anyone is running it, but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course that they are not Republicans. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is read by people who complain about the decline of the paper but like baseball and beer and want to know what high school you went to. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store. The Oregonian is read by people who have recently caught a fish and need something in which to wrap it. Anonymous

American newspaper ‘demographics’ merican newspaper demographics, as seen in e-mail in boxes everywhere: The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts. The Los Angeles Times is read by

A

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 6

Join Ed Bishop for conversations about journalism and media

Every Wednesday 7 p.m.

KDHX (88.1 FM)


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

olling is a science, but one facing numerous pitfalls. The votes of millions of Americans and funding for candidates may be shaped by the published results of polls. The shortcomings of polling during the current primary— not only in New Hampshire, but also in South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Missouri—reveal how easily voters can be misled by depending on these polls as many do. Close to 80 percent of persons contacted by pollsters refuse to cooperate. Some are not reachable since they use cell phones as their primary phone, they are unlisted or, in the case of Internet polling, may not have computers or may dismiss it as junk mail, according to Gordon Black, founder of Harris Interactive, one of the largest market research and consulting firms and a leader in online research. Black discussed the pros and cons of polling at the January forum of the Washington University Weidenbaum Center. Public opinion polling, now a worldwide $20-billion industry, has evolved since is was introduced in the 1920s— from person-to-person interviews to telephone polling in the 1960s and on to Internet surveys. Polling strives to obtain a “perfect” random sample of a population, which can never be achieved unless every member of the targeted group is interviewed, says Black. As a result, pollsters introduced a “margin of error” that reflects the percentage by which the results will be in error. There are many sources of error, of which sampling is only one. Respondents may not be reachable, weights may be improperly applied to results, wording may be misleading or is biased, and the votes of the undecided may be wrongly allocated, suggests Black. Electability is a crucial aspect of voting behavior. For example, 44 percent of the electorate considered Perot their first choice, but only 19 percent voted for him. “Twenty-five percent of the electorate actually preferred Perot, but voted for others because they were convinced by polls that he had no chance of winning—a self-fulfilling prophecy,”

Charles L. Klotzer

P

The self-fulfilling prophecy of polling results is only too apparent in the current race for president.

Charles L. Klotzer is the editor/publisher emeritus of SJR.

Page 7

says Black. Black divides the methods of polling into household sampling, phone sampling and Internet polling. Household sampling is five times as expensive as telephone sampling and 15 times as expensive as Internet polling. Weighting of constituent groups in a sample is crucial for accuracy, such as women are granted a quota of 52 percent. The future lies with Internet polling, Black contends. It was pioneered by Harris Interactive and Greenfield Online between 1997 and 2000. Unlike a limited sample in household or telephone polling, on the Internet, millions are interviewed. The Internet approach also removes the interviewer bias. To assure accuracy, additional factors in weighting are introduced—the likelihood of being in the database, willingness to participate in an election and demographic variations. In a 1998 Internet polling Harris test run, predictions were made in 22 Senate and governors’ races. Twenty-one of the 22 races were forecast directionally correct. “These results could basically not have occurred by chance,” Black said. Internet polling was applied to the Bush-Gore election and, says Black, “The Harris Poll online was the only poll to forecast a dead heat between Bush and Gore—48-to-48, with 3 percent for Nader.” In 2004, management at Harris decided that the risk of error with an Internet election forecast outweighed the potential gain, and they abandoned this approach. As a result, Black resigned from the company. Because of that retrenchment, says Black, “they lost their leadership position in online polling, the growth rate collapsed, profits diminished dramatically, and the firm is now valued by the market at a lower price than it was in 2000.” Irrespective of the merits of different polling approaches, the self-fulfilling prophecy of polling results is only too apparent in the current race for president. In addition, announcements about who collected more contributions, shakeups in campaign organizations, endorsements by other office holders and similar aspects of campaigns that lack substance drown out what should be on the top of public concern: policy issues. ■

The pitfalls of polling

7 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

he Jan. 8 New Hampshire Democratic Primary reminded pollsters—and the pundits who rely on their findings—that primaries are notoriously difficult elections to predict, especially because it is difficult to de-termine through the interviews who will ultimately vote. Primary turnout is usually under 50 percent and often much lower. The preceding weekend statewide polls largely agreed that things looked promising for Barack Obama. Of the 12 surveys conducted between Jan. 4 and Jan. 7, all had Obama ahead of Hillary Clinton, most by four percentage points or more. Averaging the results, it was Obama 37 percent and Clinton 30 percent. Come Election Day, however, it was Clinton by three points—39 percent to 36. That’s a 10point swing, well beyond the normal sampling margin of error. Opinion researchers are fond of saying that their polls only reflect attitudes at the time of interviewing. Their cliché is well worn: We photograph the present, not predict the future. But they have undercut that claim by frequently pointing with pride when their before-the-election findings turn out to mirror the actual results. “Hey,” they proclaim, “our methodology works.” So what caused the New Hampshire derailment? That’s still unclear, although the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers—the leading polling association that includes both academics and practitioners—has formed a task force to investigate the matter. In the meantime, the polling community is left with speculations, some of which can be partially assessed with existing data, but none of which can yet be accepted conclusively. All of the strands are floating in the blogosphere, most notably www.pollster.com. Coordinated by experienced pollster Mark Blumenthal and established political scientist Charles Franklin from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it is the most evidence-rich environment for sophisticated analyses of what might have happened. What is most persuasive is an explanation that combines four factors. First, an above average number of voters remained undecided until the day of the election. Most surveys pegged the share as 20–25 percent, with the exit poll finding that 17 percent decided on Election Day and 38 percent within three days of the vote. The CNN/WMUR/UNH final poll asked how many had “definitely decided.”

politics & media / Terry Jones

T

Those who initially suggested that social respectability might have caused some white voters to say they favored Obama are having difficulty finding data to support that interpretation.

Terry Jones is professor of political science at UM-St. Louis

Page 8

Only half said their minds were made up. Second, Democratic primary voters liked both Clinton and Obama. Each had favorable ratings higher than 75 percent. It’s much easier to switch from an angel to an angel than from an angel to a devil. Third is the detailed devil in any primary outcome estimate: Who’s going to show up? The turnout exceeded even optimistic projections, meaning that the likely voter models underlying the polls were more prone to error. In addition, the exit survey showed 57 percent of voters were women, and they supported Clinton over Obama by 46 percent to 34. Finally, New Hampshire primary voters are media attentive and a bit contrary. The Hillary-pounding (ala Chris Matthews on MSNBC) and the more general wecame-to-bury-Hillary narrative, both on cable and in the press, was an open invitation—especially to women—to say wait a minute, enough is enough. Cue the karaoke for “I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore.” Helen Reddy was back. And the much-publicized video of the Hillary-tearing incident seemed to work in her favor. Expanding this scenario are Robert Erikson of Columbia University and Christopher Wiezien of Temple University. Their hypothesis is that much of the difference might be explained by an emotional roller coaster among Clinton fans. For the first few days following Clinton’s disappointing performance in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, these two veteran voting-behavior scholars speculated that Clinton backers “became dispirited” and “if interviewed by pollsters, their lessening enthusiasm placed them disproportionately in the ‘unlikely voter’ column.” Then, in the last 24 hours before the election, for one or more of the reasons mentioned above, they re-energized and showed up at the polls. Those who initially suggested that social respectability might have caused some white voters to say they favored Obama are having difficulty finding data to support that interpretation. The polls had the Obama share right. The surveys averaged 37 percent for Obama, and he received 36 percent. The Clinton-Obama gap was caused by underestimating Clinton, not overestimating Obama. Whatever the explanation, the overriding lesson is: Be cautious interpreting polling results in primaries, even when they are done within a week of the election. ■

Why were the polls so wrong?

FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW | 8


Feb. 08 issue:Feb. 08 issue

2/14/08

1:46 PM

Page 9

Book review—

New book recounts Post’s glory years by Ted Gest

Pulitzer’s Gold Roy J. Harris, Jr.

creation of] the Internal Revenue Service,” Harris says. Harris gives much of the credit for starting the string of awards to Post Managing Editor Oliver K. Bovard hose who view the 21st- and his successor, Benjamin Reese. century St. Louis Post“Both had an almost military approach to running a Dispatch as a little-rec- newsroom, but also inspired reporters to perform at the ognized regional newspaper best of their ability,” says Harris. might be surprised to learn The staff also was inspired by the platform of newsabout its glory years in the paper founder Joseph Pulitzer, who had called on it to national journalism spot- “always be drastically independent, never be afraid to light, in the middle of the last attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predacentury. Between 1937 and tory poverty.” 1952, the Post won the covThe second Joseph Pulitzer, who headed both the eted Pulitzer Gold Medal for newspaper and the board that awarded the Pulitzer public service journalism— Prizes, knew it would look bad if his own newspaper generally considered the won too many of the prizes, but he still wanted the Post most prestigious of the to produce journalism that could compete well nationPulitzer Prizes—five times. ally. It was a record that stood The book describes in detail how each winning projfor 52 years, writes Roy J. ect progressed, from reporter Selwyn Pepper’s spending Harris, Jr., in his new book “Pulitzer’s Gold.” sweltering days in the summer of 1936 to find “ghost res“Not counting the four war years, [the idents” who were registered to vote to Post] won the Gold Medal every other reporter Theodore Link’s probing the fixyear during that 15-year stretch (1937ing of federal tax cases in 1951. 1952),” says Harris. The elder Harris was most involved in Not counting Harris is well positioned to examine the 1950 prize, shared with the Chicago what makes for superior public-service Daily News, for exposing the fact that 37 the four war journalism. In the book, he writes about Illinois newspapermen were on the pubthe public-service prize’s evolution from lic payroll. Most had “gravy train’ jobs years, [the Post] 1918’s winning New York Times writlike “field investigators” and “messenger ings about World War I to 2007’s Wall clerk,” but their real function was to pubwon the Gold Street Journal prize for coverage of lish “canned editorials and news stories back-dated stock options. lauding accomplishments” of then Gov. Medal every If the Harris name sounds familiar to Dwight Green. In an unusual journalistic those steeped in St. Louis newspaper arrangement, reporters for the two nonother year history, it’s because author Roy J. Harcompeting newspapers shared reporting ris, Jr. is the son of Roy J. Harris, Post of the corruption story. during that 15reporter who took part in the work that In chronicaling the Pulitzer family’s led to four of the five public-service honlong stewardship of the prizes that bear year stretch ors. Harris, Jr. says he started the book their name, Harris, Jr. notes that after after speaking in St. Louis in 2002, the the 1952 Gold Medal, the Post’s “news (1937-1952). 100th anniversary of his father’s birth, operation entered a long Pulitzer Prize and finding that current St. Louis jourdry spell.” nalists “knew nothing … of what the The newspaper has won five prizes in paper had done to earn those five great the 55 years since, but all in categories honors.” other than news reporting. The most That lack of knowledge, as well as ignorance about recent prize, in 1989, actually went to furniture dealer many of the 92 gold medals that have been awarded Ron Olshwanger, whose free-lance photo of a firefighter through the years, is finally remedied by Harris’s splen- trying to revive a child was published by the Post. did volume. The best known of the public service Pulitzers since Based on the yardstick of winning the gold medal, the the Post series of wins were the 1972 New York Times Post was the “runaway choice” as the nation’s finest honor for publishing the Pentagon Papers; the next local newspaper staff during that 20th-century stretch year’s Washington Post award for covering Watergate; of awards, Harris says. the 2002 Times designation for the post-Sept. 11, “A Subjects of the winning entries were varied, ranging Nation Challenged” section; and the winning 2003 from local voter fraud and federal corruption to a project Boston Globe series that exposed widespread sexual that helped clean St. Louis’ filthy air. The last of the five abuse by Catholic priests. winning series, involving payoffs in federal tax collecAs famous as these are now, Harris reminds readers tions, led to a government overhaul. continued on page 27 “Taxpayers have the Post-Dispatch to thank for [the

University of Missouri Press, 2007

T

9 | FEBRUARY 2008 ST LOUIS JOURNALISM REVIEW


February 2008