Author archives

When Trump attacks: a surreal moment for American journalists

At a campaign rally in Montana on Oct. 18, U.S. President Donald Trump openly praised a politician who assaulted a journalist. There is not a single word in that sentence that could be described as fake news. Trump was in Montana. There was a campaign rally. And video and audio reports, including one from Fox …

Illinois’ Public Access Counselor frustratingly slow; AG candidates promise changes

The public ambulance service in the small northwestern Illinois village of Hanover was used to working in private. When Galena Gazette reporter Dan Burke asked its governing board for meeting agendas and minutes, it refused. When citizens asked for a budget, personnel qualifications and a list of purchases, it also refused. Citizens’ rights to demand …

Chicago TV news ignores ‘cheap’ murders

Analysis TV news outlets in Chicago often ignore the “cheap” murders that won’t boost ratings. Such non-reporting leaves viewers with a skewed narrative of crime in a city that too often frames victims as the bad guys, says Robert Jordan, the longtime Emmy-winning reporter and weekend anchor for WGN-TV in Chicago. “The effort is phony, …

Freelance journalists cover global hot spots

The last time Achilleas Zavallis packed his camera gear for Syria, he changed his airline ticket twice within 48 hours because he couldn’t make up his mind whether he should go to a country considered the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. His stomach was tied “in a million knots,” he recalled, as it is every time he travels to a war zone. A photographer based in Greece, Zavallis is a freelance journalist. When he goes into danger, it is nearly always “on spec,” freelance parlance for covering a story and then trying to find someone to publish his work. But in November 2013, after changing his ticket and second-guessing his motives and re-assessing the risks, Zavallis went anyway, traveling to northern Syria to document the country’s Christian minority. He stayed for about two weeks. A photo essay from the trip was published three months later in the National, an English-language publication in Abu Dhabi. “I believe that the story must be told,” Zavallis said, “so that no one can come after 100 years and say that in Syria nothing happened and that no one died.”

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