Author Archives: Compiled for GJR

Post-Dispatch’s Bailon wins Editor of the Year Award

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editor Gilbert Bailon has won one of journalism’s top honors—the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award given by the National Press Foundation. The foundation is a national journalism training organization that recognizes a newspaper or magazine editor annually. The award was established in 1984 but has been given in Bradlee’s name only since 2006. Bradlee, the longtime Washington Post editor, died last October at 93.

In selecting Bailon, the judges said: “If ever a newspaper and its editor faced a real-time stress test, it was the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and editor Gilbert Bailon in 2014. From the shooting of Michael Brown in August through the November announcement by the grand jury, the Post-Dispatch was under pressure. But it delivered for its readers and the larger St. Louis community with a breadth of coverage that is truly impressive. Hundreds of stories, dozens of editorials, every piece of evidence – all were there either in print or on the paper’s website. Most striking were the photographs, often taken at great personal risk to the photographers. Throughout it all, Bailon was a strong presence both in the community and in his newsroom, fighting for access and striving to keep the coverage balanced and emotions in check.”

The award was given in Washington, D.C., last week at the foundation’s annual dinner. Typically, the winning newspaper presents a short video on the winner. The Post-Dispatch produced one, in which various editors sung Bailon’s praises.

In brief remarks after the award was given, Bailon credited the newspaper’s ownership for “giving us the resources and latitude to do great journalism under great stress” after the Brown shooting. He observed that he never had been involved in covering such a “volatile” story.

Bailon said that the Post-Dispatch’s journalists “are the heroes tonight.” He noted that some had been assaulted in covering the Ferguson shooting’s aftermath, including one who was chased out of a backyard at gunpoint. Many Post-Dispatch employees have been subject to racial taunts and threats to cancel subscriptions, he said.

The Ferguson episode “has reaffirmed our vital role to tell stories…and to hold public institutions accountable,” Bailon said.

Among other recent winners of the award are David Remnick of The New Yorker, Leonard Downie Jr., Bradlee’s successor at the Washington Post, and Gregory L. Moore of the Denver Post, who was cited for his newspaper’s coverage of the mass killing at a suburban Denver movie theater.

Michel Martin to discuss Ferguson coverage

“Ferguson and the media” will be the topic discussed at a Journalism Review event March 19 hosted by veteran broadcast journalist Michel Martin. Martin has reported for the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and was host of NPR’s “Tell Me More.” She recently has reported on voting rights and racial justice issues.

The Thursday night dinner and program will be from 6 to 10 p.m. at Edward Jones Inc.’s corporate headquarters at 12555 Manchester Road and I-270. Cost is $150 per person. It will be the Fourth Annual First Amendment Celebration sponsored by the Gateway Journalism Review, successor to the St. Louis Journalism Review.

To attend, call Sherida Evans at 618-453-3262; or email Sherida @ USPS: Sherida Evans, Mailcode 6601, School of Journalism, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, Il. 62901

Social media firestorm surrounding Daily Egyptian decision catches administrators by surprise

The social media firestorm that surrounded the decision by Southern Illinois University’s board of trustees to put off voting on a media fee for the 98-year-old Daily Egyptian newspaper caught university administrators by surprise.

DE alumni from as far away as Iraq leaped to the paper’s defense, flooding social media, including the hashtag #savethede on Twitter.

Other examples included:

  • The DE staff stayed up the entire night after the board meeting producing a special 17-page online edition containing its reaction and the reaction of alums at
  • Well-placed DE supporters in the General Assembly arranged for a special $70,000 appropriation, earmarked for the DE, to be added to the SIU appropriation bill.
  • Jackie Spinner, former Baghdad bureau chief of the Washington Post, showed up at the state capital and was walking out of a Senate leadership offices as the university’s new president, Randy Dunn, was arriving.
  • Paul Pabst of the popular Dan Patrick sports program posted a YouTube video in support of the DE (

Dunn, who said his email account was being bombarded with messages from DE alums, responded to the social media storm by saying the DE “is not going to cease publishing on my watch as president of the university.” He added that he hadn’t had time since taking office May 1 to study the fee proposal.

Dunn told William Freivogel, director of the School of Journalism, that he could take the media fee back to the executive committee of the Board of Trustees in June, in time to get the fee in place for the fall.

Dunn has asked Freivogel to put together a working group of media professionals to take another look at the need for a fee. A second group of DE alums also will review the proposal. All of this will occur in time for Dunn to return to the board committee by late June.

In a statement, Freivogel said he had vetted the fee last fall with a group of media professionals, including DE alums. That review had led to the development of the fee proposal, which was approved by Undergraduate Student Government, SIU’s chancellor, Rita Cheng, and the university’s outgoing president, Glenn Poshard.

In the statement, Freivogel said that “even though I believed we had thoroughly researched the fee proposal, I would form the group (Dunn) requested. I told him I would also want to run that group’s findings past the devoted DE alums, whose support has been so heartening in recent days.”

The $9 fee per student per semester fee for the four-day-a-week DE compares to a $7.80 fee already in place at Carbondale’s sister campus in Edwardsville for its weekly paper. The fee for the DE would raise about $260,000 a year, which is the projected deficit for the DE.

The DE’s ad revenue is about 50 percent of what it was in 2006, a trend similar to those reported at other student papers.

The trouble at the Daily Egyptian comes at a time when other college papers in the region are having trouble. The University of Missouri St. Louis recently refused to re-impose a student fee. At Webster University, Eric Rothenbuhler, dean of the School of Communications, cut the money going to the school newspaper. Details can be found online at

In addition, Eastern Illinois University announced it would not publish a print edition this summer because of financial problems.

The Mid-America Emmy® Awards Return to St. Louis

This year’s 37th annual Mid-America Emmy® Awards return to Saint Louis Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Renaissance Grand Hotel. This is a night to recognize the very best in broadcasting within the Mid-America chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), which includes television markets in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas and Louisiana. Illinois native Margaret Judson from HBO’s “The Newsroom” will host this year’s event.


“We’re excited to have an actress with Margaret Judson’s credentials both in the entertainment and news business serve as this year’s host.  Her diverse experience will be an added bonus to this year’s gala,” said NATAS Mid-America Chapter President Angie Weidinger.


Judson began her broadcasting career as a Page at NBC. Since then, she’s worked with an array of famous names in both the news and entertainment industries including Brian Williams and Jimmy Fallon.  She was working as an assistant for MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann when she met screenwriter Aaron Sorkin who was doing research for his new show “The Newsroom.”  She served as a consultant for the program before becoming a regular cast member on it.


This year more than 320 broadcasters are nominated for 85 Mid-America Emmy® awards. In addition to awarding those 85 Emmy® statuettes, the awards gala will also honor four television veterans who will be inducted into the prestigious Gold and Silver Circle.  The Gold Circle honors 50 years or more of outstanding service in the television industry, the Silver Circle honors 25 years or more.   This year, Edward J. “Ted” Koplar from KPLR-TV in Saint Louis will be inducted into the Gold Circle. Doug Quick from WICD in Champaign, Illinois, Mike Stroot from Technisonic Studios in Saint Louis, and Larry Washington from FOX 2 in Saint Louis will be inducted into the Silver Circle.


The Mid-America Emmy® chapter is also focused on fostering the future of broadcasting. In addition to presenting awards for excellence in broadcasting to 11 high school students and 6 college students, the chapter will also award a record $6000 in scholarships to area students pursuing degrees in broadcasting.


For a complete list of this year’s Mid-America Emmy® Awards nominees, visit the chapter’s website:

EMMY® 2013
Congratulations to all the Nominees!
The 37th Mid-America EMMY GALA ~ October 5th ~ Renaissance Grand Hotel St. Louis with Host Margaret Judson of  HBO’S “NEWSROOM”
Like the “Mid-America EMMY Awards” on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for real-time news, photos, and information about upcoming events!

Executive Director
NATAS Mid-America
3655 Olive
St. Louis, MO  63108
314-533-2993 <tel:314-533-2993> <> <>

STL-SPJ holds free journalism boot camp

ST. LOUIS (Aug. 28, 2013) – College and high school students of journalism are invited to attend the St. Louis Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists one-day Boot Camp Sept. 21. Boot Camp leaders include professional editors, reporters and photographers.

The event will include a lunchtime panel discussion where panelists offer insights on how to get a job in today’s fast changing market. Panelists include Linda Lockhart, analyst, Public Insight Network–St. Louis Beacon and Jarrett Medlin, editor-in-chief, St. Louis Magazine.

“At a time when our industry is experiencing great change and many career journalists are losing their livelihoods, it is inspiring that so many professionals are willing to donate their time to teach incoming reporters,” SPJ St. Louis Pro Chapter President Tammy Merrett-Murry said.

Today’s graduates need to be better trained, better equipped and more self-sufficient than ever before, she said. In the skeleton-staffed pressure cooker that is the deadline-driven media environment, new reporters are often out on their own.

The St. Louis professional chapter of the SPJ is committed to helping new members of the profession achieve the highest standards. The future of journalism depends on the skills and talents of the next generation of reporters.

When:                         8:30 a.m. — 5 p.m., Sept. 21
Where:                        Sunnen Lounge, Webster University
Cost:                           FREE (breakfast and lunch included)
Who can attend:      College Students in journalism, mass communications and related study areas.
Registration:            Before Sept. 14
Email:     or


The STL SPJ’s fourth annual Boot Camp expects to draw participants from across the Midwest. The camp can accommodate up to 80 students.

The day will be packed with seminars and workshops. Classes will cover everything from video editing and how to use social media in reporting to a presentation on investigative reporting.

Back by popular demand, participants will get a real life flavor of the stresses and demands of today’s newsroom. They will attend a press briefing, and, under a tight deadline, students will be expected to research, write and submit a completed story. Stories will be judged by a panel of professional editors. Besides recognition of their accomplishment, there will be prizes for the top three writers.

Boot Camp Program Highlights

* Reporting — Research, Sources & The Art of Interviewing – Holly Edgell, Community Editor at, Cincinnati, Ohio

Video Editing: The Future Is Now — Mary Cox, Webster University

Covering Arts and Entertainment — Jill Moon, Lifestyle Editor, Alton Telegraph

Rules of the Game: Real-World Newsroom Ethics — Elizabeth Donald, Belleville News Democrat

For more information:

Press Contacts
Janette Lonsdale
(314) 223.2035

SPJ STL Pro Chapter President
Tammy Merrett-Murry
(314) 780.0159

Visit our website for programming and membership information:
Janette Lonsdale
Content Strategist
The Red Stairs

Cell: 314 223 0235

I am on LinkedIn:

Publicity & Marketing Chairperson,

Society of Professional Journalists
St. Louis Pro Chapter

Open letter to media takes issue with coverage of Latin America

Editor’s note: This letter, which criticizes coverage of media issues in Latin America, was co-signed by more than two dozen individuals in the academic arena.

The supposed “irony” of whistleblower Edward Snowden seeking asylum in countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela has become a media meme. Numerous articles, op-eds, reports and editorials in outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NPR and MSNBC have hammered on this idea since the news first broke that Snowden was seeking asylum in Ecuador. It was a predictable retread of the same meme last year, when Julian Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and the Ecuadorian government deliberated his asylum request for months.

Of course, any such “ironies” would be irrelevant even if they were based on factual considerations. The media has never noted the “irony” of the many thousands of people who have taken refuge in the United States, which currently is torturing people in a secret prison at Guantanamo and regularly kills civilians in drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. Nor has the press noted the “irony” of refugees who have fled here from terror that was funded and sponsored by the U.S. government, e.g. from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile and other countries.

But in fact the “irony” that U.S. journalists mention is fantastically exaggerated. It is based on the notion that the governments of Venezuela under Hugo Chávez (and now Nicolás Maduro) and Ecuador under Rafael Correa have clamped down on freedom of the press. Most consumers of the U.S. media unfortunately don’t know better, since they have not been to these countries and have not been able to see that the majority of media are overwhelmingly anti-government, and that it gets away with more than the U.S. media does here in criticizing the government. Imagine if Rupert Murdoch controlled most U.S media outlets, rather than the minority share that his News Corp actually owns – then you’d start to have some idea what the media landscape in Ecuador, Venezuela and most of Latin America looks like.

The fact is that most media outlets in Ecuador and Venezuela are privately owned and oppositional in their orientation. Yes, the Venezuelan government’s communications authorities let the RCTV channel’s broadcast license expire in 2007. This was not a “shutdown”; the channel was found to have violated numerous media regulations regarding explicit content and others – the same kind of regulations to which media outlets are subject in the U.S. and many other countries. Even José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch – a fierce critic of Venezuela – has said that “lack of renewal of the contract [broadcast license], per se, is not a free-speech issue.” Also rarely mentioned in U.S. reporting on the RCTV case is that the channel and its owner actively and openly supported the short-lived coup d’etat against the democratically-elected government in 2002.

A July 10 piece from the Washington Post’s editorial board – which has never hid its deep hatred of Venezuela, Ecuador and other left governments in Latin America – describes another supposed grave instance of the Venezuelan government clamping down on press freedoms. The editorial, which was given greater publicity through Boing Boing and others, describes the case of journalist Nelson Bocaranda, who is credited with breaking the news of Chávez’s cancer in June 2011. The Post champions Bocaranda as a “courage[ous]” “teller of truth” and dismisses the Venezuelan government’s “charges” against him as “patently absurd.” In fact, Bocaranda has not been charged with anything; the Venezuelan government wants to know whether Bocaranda helped incite violence following the April 14 presidential elections, after which extreme sectors of the opposition attacked Cuban-run health clinics and homes and residences of governing party leaders, and in which some nine people were killed – mostly chavistas. The government cites a Twitter message by Bocaranda in which he stated false information that ballot boxes were being hidden in a specific Cuban clinic in Gallo Verde, in Maracaibo state, and that the Cubans were refusing to let them be removed. Bocaranda later deleted the tweet, but not before it was seen by hundreds of thousands (an image of it can be seen here). So while the Post dismisses the case against Bocaranda as “absurd,” the question remains: Why did Bocaranda state such specific information if he had no evidence to support it? Indeed, any such evidence would be secondhand unless Bocaranda had seen the supposed “hidden” ballot boxes and the actions by the Cubans himself. The Venezuelan government’s summons for Bocaranda to explain himself is being characterized as a grave assault on press freedom, and perhaps it is an overreaction – after all, many journalists report false information all the time. But wasn’t Bocaranda’s Twitter message irresponsible, especially given the context of a volatile political situation?

In Ecuador, Correa has been widely condemned in the U.S. media – in much reporting as well as commentary – for suing a prominent journalist, Emilio Palacio, for defamation. The defamatory content was, in fact, serious. It relates to a 2010 incident in which Correa was first assaulted and then later held captive by rebelling police in what many observers deemed an attempt at a coup d’etat. Military forces ultimately rescued Correa. But in a February 2011 column referring to the episode, Palacio alleged that Correa had committed “crimes against humanity,” and that he had ordered the military forces to fire on the hospital where he was being held at the time. So Correa sued Palacio for defamation and won. What some U.S. media outlets have failed to mention is that he subsequently pardoned Palacio, and had made clear from the beginning that he would have dropped the lawsuit if Palacio ran a correction. In other words, all that Correa did was exercise his right as a citizen under the law to sue someone who had printed an outrageous lie about him. This is a right that most elected officials have in most countries, including the United States. Former AP reporter Bart Jones has written: “Would a network that aided and abetted a coup against the government be allowed to operate in the United States? The U.S. government probably would have shut down RCTV within five minutes after a failed coup attempt – and thrown its owners in jail. Chavez’s government allowed it to continue operating for five years, and then declined to renew its 20-year license to use the public airwaves.”

Considering the massive extent of “national security” overreach following the 911 attacks, it is almost incomprehensible to imagine what a U.S. administration’s reaction to a coup attempt would be, but it certainly would not be as restrained as in Ecuador or Venezuela, where a fiercely critical press not only exists, but thrives.

Many commentators have cited Reporters Without Borders and other media watchdog groups’ criticisms of Ecuador’s proposed new “Organic Law of Communication.” In an example of true irony, such supposedly objective journalists have been more critical of Ecuador’s proposed media reforms than RSF itself has been, which noted that: “We think that other provisions conform to international legal standards. They include restrictions on broadcasting hours for the protection of minors, the prohibition of racist and discriminatory content and the prohibition of deliberate calls for violence. Finally, the provisions governing nationally produced broadcasting content are broadly similar to those in force in most other countries.”

Organizations such as RSF and Freedom House are supposed to be impartial arbiters of press freedom around the world and rarely are subject to scrutiny. Yet both have taken funding from the U.S. government or U.S.-government supported organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (which was set up to conduct activities “much of [which]” the “CIA used to fund covertly,” as the Washington Post reported at the time, and which also provided funding and training to organizations involved in the afore-mentioned 2002 Venezuelan coup) and other “democracy promotion” groups. The NED has spent millions of dollars in Venezuela and Ecuador in recent years to support groups opposed to the governments there. This conflict of interest is never noted in the press, and RSF and Freedom House, when they are cited, are invariably presented as noble defenders of press freedom, for whom ulterior motives are apparently unimaginable.

The true irony in the cases of Snowden, Assange, Manning and others is that the U.S. government, while claiming to defend freedom of the press, speech and information, has launched an assault on the media that is unprecedented in U.S. history. The extreme lengths to which it has gone to apprehend (witness the forced downing of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane in Austria) and punish (Bradley Manning being the most obvious example) whistleblowers is clear. Apparently less understood by some U.S. journalists is that it is part of an assault on these very freedoms that the U.S. government pretends to uphold. The U.S. government’s pursuit of Wikileaks – through grand jury and FBI investigations, and open condemnation of Julian Assange as a “terrorist” – is a blatant attack on the press. It seems too many journalists forget – or willingly overlook – that Wikileaks is a media organization, and that the leaks that have so infuriated the U.S. government, from the “Collateral Murder” video to “Cablegate”, Wikileaks published in partnership with major media outlets including the New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel and others. Now, as Edward Snowden’s leaks are published in the Guardian and other outlets, efforts have been launched to delegitimize journalist Glenn Greenwald, and some in the media have been all too willing to take part in attacking one of their own, simply for exposing government abuse – i.e. doing journalism.

There is a long history of partnership between traditional, corporate media outlets in the United States and those in Latin America. For a variety of reasons, including educational, class and often racial backgrounds, journalists throughout the hemisphere often tend to share certain biases. It is the journalist’s duty to be as objective as possible, however, and to let the media consumer decide where the truth lies. Likewise, eagerly going along with double standards that reinforce paradigms of “American exceptionalism” and that overlook the United States’ long, checkered human rights history and minimize the importance of over a century of U.S. intervention and interference in Latin America does a great injustice to journalism and the public. Likewise, media distortions of the state of democracy and press freedoms in countries that are routinely condemned by the U.S. government – such as Venezuela and Ecuador – contribute to a climate of demonization that enables U.S. aggression against those countries and damages relations between the people of the United States and our foreign neighbors.


Thomas Adams, visiting professor, Tulane University

Marc Becker, professor, Department of History, Truman State University

Julia Buxton, Venezuela specialist

Barry Carr, honorary research associate, La Trobe University, Australia

George Ciccariello-Maher, assistant professor, Drexel University

Aviva Chomsky, professor of history and coordinator of Latin-American Studies, Salem State University

Luis Duno-Gottberg, associate professor, Caribbean and Film Studies, Rice University

Steve Ellner, professor, Universidad de Oriente, Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela

Arturo Escobar, professor, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Nicole Fabricant, assistant professor, Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Towson University

Sujatha Fernandes, associate professor, Department of Sociology, Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York

John French, professor, Department of History, Duke University

Lesley Gill, professor, Department of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University

Greg Grandin, professor, Department of History, New York University

Daniel Hellinger, professor, Department of History, Politics and International Relations, Webster University

Forrest Hylton, lecturer, History and Literature, Harvard University

Chad Montrie, professor, Department of History, UMASS-Lowell,

Deborah Poole, professor, Department of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University,

Margaret Power, professor, Department of History, Illinois Institute of Technology

Adolph Reed Jr., professor, Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

Gerardo Renique, associate professor, Department of History, City College of the City University of New York

Suzana Sawyer, associate professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California

T.M. Scruggs, professor emeritus, School of Music, University of Iowa

Steve Striffler, professor, Department of Anthropology, University of New Orleans

Miguel Tinker Salas, professor, Department of History, Pomona College

Sinclair Thomson, associate professor, Department of History, New York University

Jeffery R. Webber, lecturer, School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary, University of London

Mark Weisbrot, co-director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Column on White House drone memo draws reader response

On March 27, reader Laurance Strait replied to a Feb. 8 column by Gateway Journalism Review publisher William H. Freivogel with this email: “The reason civil libertarians and others are upset with Obama's novel extra-judicial killing doctrine in part is in how it has been applied. Your characterization would be more persuasive to me if sitting in a café having breakfast didn't count as being an 'imminent threat' that is 'in the battlefield.' As those facts are rather well known, I don't really know how to read this post as anything but intentionally Orwellian.”

Freivogel's column begins with: “Maybe my kids are right and I'm getting more conservative as I get older. Maybe my ACLU buddies have reason to wonder if I've strayed from the path of founder Roger Baldwin. Or maybe it's been too many years since I was in the White House press room. But as I listened this week to the White House press briefing, I was irritated by the press' attitude that President Obama's decision to kill any American citizens plotting attacks on the United States was comparable to George W. Bush's authorization of the torture of captured al-Qaida operatives.”


His column also drew a response from SIU Ph.D. student James Anderson, who wrote a  response titled “Age, individual outlooks influence press opinions.”