Category Archives: On Media

‘Redskin’ leaves impression on student editor and her school


Gillian McGoldrick had never thought twice about her school’s sports mascot when she began her junior year in 2013 as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, the Playwickian. And she had never heard of Donna Boyle. Gillian didn’t know the 30-year resident whose father was Cherokee-Choctaw and whose son was starting Neshaminy High School. Or that Boyle had been trying for more than a year to get the school to change its sports mascot, arguing that the image and name Redskins were racial slurs, insensitive and discriminatory.

The Playwickian reporter covering a school-board meeting early that fall heard Boyle, tired of sparring with school officials, had filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. The reporter asked Gillian, “Isn’t this like using the word Nigger?”

The staff did research, had lengthy discussions (none about changing the mascot), then voted 14-7 to just stop using the word in the paper. Why? As Gillian said recently, “When President Obama said what he did about the Washington Redskins, we thought why not do what other professional journalists are doing? Why not be ethical?”

“We didn’t really think the students would notice or care after a few issues,” Gillian said. “We thought it’s the right thing to do, the human thing.” An editorial in the first issue told readers, “The change is not…for the sake of political correctness itself, but for the sake of being respectful and fair to an entire race.”

“We knew students would be mad at first,” Gillian stated. “And they were. We were clearly in the minority.” But it was interesting, she added, that without consciously avoiding the word, nobody used it in their stories – that year or the next.

Gillian was editor-in-chief for two years at Neshaminy and this fall is a sophomore journalism major at Temple University. But the issue her newspaper staff raised continues to plague the suburban Philadelphia high school. As it had several years earlier, heavy-handed administrative pressure last spring brought the Redskins debate to the national stage.

Gillian knew three years ago that the newspaper’s decision would be unpopular. But she wasn’t prepared for the response of administrators and the school board. Soon after the Playwickian’s word ban was announced, Principal Robert McGee held a two-hour meeting with Gillian and adviser Tara Huber, gave them a 54-page packet about the mascot, and told students they could not remove the word Redskins from any article or ad submitted to the newspaper.

“I didn’t know anything about the law or about the Pennsylvania Code,” Gillian said. But the more she learned, the more she wondered why school officials responded the way they did. [See “Students Pay Price For Taking Ethical Stance,” a May 2014 article in Gateway Journalism Review.]

If she and her staff were disappointed that year by the lack of support from Neshaminy students, administrators and the community, they were heartened by the response to local, state and national coverage of this issue. Gillian alone received National Scholastic Press Association recognition, the Student Press Law Center’s Courage in Journalism Award, the Ethics in Journalism Award from University of Oregon, the 2015 Native American Journalists Free Press Award and the 2014 Pennsylvania ACLU’s Civil Liberties Award.

By the end of the school year, administrators were following a lengthy new publications policy that the staff said, “threatens student journalists.”  When the principal denied the staff’s request to publish, in the last issue of the year, a letter with the edited word “R——-,” editors left blank space instead of printing the letter they were told must include the word Redskin. The principal responded to this defiant act with punishment when the 2014-2015 year began, further cutting the newspaper’s annual allocation, suspending its adviser without pay for two days and removing Gillian as editor-in-chief for one month.

As opposition persisted, Gillian said, the biggest toll personally was “the time it took me away from reporting, writing and editing.” She was always under attack. “Parents and students bullied me so much that I stopped reading my Facebook page,” she recalls. “And now it’s 2016 and I’m still getting comments about this controversy.”

The school board approved another new publications policy, agreeing not to discipline a student or editor for deleting the word “Redskin” from an article or advertisement. But the principal now has 10 days to review copy prior to publication and students.

“Without a doubt, knowing that all copy goes to the principal for review inhibits students,” Gillian said, “and affects the timeliness of the newspaper content.”  Some touchy topics were addressed in 2015-16 — a story on Satanism and one on abortion/pro-choice. The administration reviewed the stories and made some edits before they were published.

The student staff each year for the past three has continued to ban the word Redskin from the Playwickian, so still faces challenges. Timothy Cho, 2015-16 editor-in-chief, said that because the newspaper’s yearly budget was cut again, the staff had to raise additional money and sell more ads. Believing their allocation to be disproportionately lower than those of other extracurricular activities, editors asked to see records of what other groups received. This request was denied.

When a majority of editors voted this spring to use “R——“ in a story about the school’s annual Mr. Redskin pageant, one of the editors appealed to the administration. The principal ordered editors to use “Redskin” when the story was posted online in May, the one month when there was no printed issue. The staff refused, citing the editorial control given them in the most recent school policy — plus the Pennsylvania School Code and the First Amendment. Administrators responded by immediately locking down the website and revoking the editors’ administrative privileges to the newspaper’s site. School officials then uploaded the article to the website — with the word “Redskin.”

As this saga drags on, there are several bittersweet footnotes:

  • Tara Huber, the journalism teacher throughout the controversy, told her principal that because of this latest censorship she was resigning as Playwickian adviser.
  • Legal counsel representing Timothy Cho sent a detailed letter in June to Neshaminy’s school officials, requesting they restore the paper’s website and control of it to the student editor.
  • Donna Boyle continues her battle to have the mascot replaced. Seventeen months after filing her complaint, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission said that Neshaminy’s use of Redskins is “racially derogatory” and creates a “hostile educational environment.” That January 2015 ruling told school officials to “cease and desist unlawfully discriminating against its students because of their race” within a “reasonable amount of time.” Since Boyle wants the mascot replaced and school officials have suggested anything but removal, a stalemate exists.       The 11-member PHRC planned a public hearing for this summer. No action has been reported.

While it’s unclear whether or not Neshaminy High School’s athletes will remain the Redskins, there is no doubt its student journalists struck a chord in the community and raised its consciousness. “Parents have discouraged some students from joining the staff,” Gillian noted, “but those who stayed or joined the staff are students who feel more strongly about continuing the ban and taking the moral position of the newspaper.”

Gillian remains confident it was worth the struggle. “It’s ignorant and blind not to acknowledge that this mascot affects the self-image of Native Americans,” she said. “It’s just not right if we fail to acknowledge what their feelings are. We can’t define the word for them, but it clearly dehumanizes them. I hope the staff keep fighting for this.”

Chinese media criticize American democracy


The New York Times posts a cartoon of China enjoying the boxing battle among U.S. presidential candidates with popcorn, and says, “The Chinese Communist Party uses every presidential election to excoriate American democracy for its failings.”

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This is the typical tone U.S. media employ when talking about China’s attitude on any negative news in the U.S. However, an editorial in the state-run Xinhua News Agency seems to prove such an analogy. This editorial compares the three presidential debates to a boxing contest: “The three debates are more intense than real boxing match: Boxers would shake hands or hug their opponents after fierce battle; but the two presidential candidates refused to shake hands in the final debate. One of them even asked for ‘a dope test’ before debate.” The editorial concludes, “the presidential election is nothing but entertainment, which again implies ‘the failure of the American political system.’”

Xinhua News Agency set up a page of special reports on the U.S. presidential election and published several editorials after the final debate. In another editorial titled “The final debate sets a new records for the U.S. election, and slaps the American style of democracy,” the author quotes several Twitter users who criticize both Clinton and Trump, and says these voters reveal the dilemma the U.S. faces now, claimed to be the “largest democratic country in the world.” “This leads to a question: Is the election, of which the Americans are so proud of, not so serious? Audiences are getting more confused and helpless, the democracy that the U.S. is proud of has been tarnished.” (

The editorial continues, saying the meaning of the election is to help solve severe problems of a country’s development, and that the long and complex campaign and competition between candidates should be the chance to expose the political defect and address racial and social issues. However, the campaign and debate policy Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton employ does not solve problems. Instead, the candidates attack one another’s past mistakes and manage to destroy each other’s public image.

The editorial lists the U.S. media’s reaction to Trump’s statement of only accepting the election results if he wins, and says, “Finally, even Trump began to question the election result. This slaps on the face of American political system based on their claimed democracy, and casts doubt on the effect of American-style democracy.”

The editorial concludes, “The U.S. has considered itself as the role-model of Western democracy. Now it is time for introspection.” (

Similar arguments appear in other Chinese media. People’s Daily, an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, says the American political system is not welcomed by the U.S. public, and thus faces a crisis of legitimacy.

Even though these editorials criticize the U.S. democracy harshly as the New York Times points out, most news reporting of media in China on the election and debates is fact based or based on news from Western countries. Chinese media generally show no preference for either candidate.

However, one exception is an article on Sohu, a commercial media website.

This article, “The ugly battle of the U.S. election, China is more concerned if this candidate wins,” says the Chinese public has treated Trump as mere entertainment from the very beginning, but that there are more people starting to like him. While the Chinese public does not know Trump very well, there is an unfavorable impression of Hillary Clinton due to her tough past policies against Beijing. From the Chinese perspective, if she becomes the president, the U.S. foreign policy against China would be worse than that of Trump.

Attacking the American political system directly is not always the theme of China’s news reports on the U.S. election. An article of Xinhua News Agency compares the election to the TV drama House of Cards, which is very popular in China. Xinhua argues that the election is very similar to the TV drama plot.

The New York Times published an interview with You Tian Long, a Chinese doctoral student majoring in justice studies at Arizona State University at an earlier time to reject such association. You said in that interview that American politics is so complicated for Chinese people to understand that they use the TV drama as a “shortcut” to learn.

One can only speculate: Either the reporter and editor of Xinhua News Agency did not read the New York Times article, or they are taking a shortcut to appeal to the political knowledge of the Chinese readers.

Travis-sham-mockery of the presidential debates


As I watched the three presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, one word continually came to mind: travis-sham-mockery.

I know what you’re are thinking – Travis-sham-mockery is not a word. Technically you’re correct. It is, after all, not recognized by Merriam-Webster, Cambridge Dictionary, or even the game of Scrabble. And despite this refusal by the lords of the English lexicon to give it their stamp of approval, this only tells half the story.

The history behind this delightful idiom is revealed through a simple Google search. Its etymology is actually tied to the history of the presidential debates, albeit in a less than traditional way.  The term can be traced back to Miller Lite’s “President of Beers” commercial – a parody on the 2004 presidential debates.

In the commercial, Miller Lite debates Budweiser over which company really is the “King of Beers.” Naturally, Budweiser is represented by a Clydesdale Horse while Miller Lite is represented by comedian Bob Odenkirk. During Odenkirk’s opening speech, he is interrupted several times by the moderating panel until he frustratingly spits out, “It’s a travesty and a sham and a mockery. It’s a travis-sham-mockery!”

Assuming we can even call the verbal sparring between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the debates a true “debate,” then I think “travis-sham-mockery” is the perfect metaphor for what we watched.

It’s a travesty

It’s a travesty when presidential debates are more entertaining than educational. While many in the media pointed the finger at Donald Trump for the obnoxious tone set during the debates, I contend the format of the debates themselves also is responsible for the spectacle the world just witnessed.

Part of the problem rests with the moderators. Having them fire questions at the candidates makes it more of a media interview than an actual presidential debate. When compared with collegiate policy debate rounds, there are no moderators asking questions, but only a policy resolution which one side must affirm and the other negate. Questions can only be asked during cross-examination which the debaters conduct themselves.

Although credit needs to be given to the moderators for attempting the impossible task of keeping Trump in line, it also must be noted they overstepped their boundaries at times. From a debate perspective, moderators should never argue with a candidate regarding an answer. They are neither judge nor arbitrator of the debate. Instead, their primary role is to ensure the debate runs smoothly.

Even if moderators disagree with the answer given or think the response does not answer the question posed, they still need to remain neutral at all times. Anything less can jeopardize the impartiality of the debate. It is up to the other candidate to point out the flaws in their opponent’s answer or when their opponent attempts to skirt a question – not the role of moderators.

It’s a sham

Another problem with the debates are the short time-limits imposed on each speech. Two-minute speeches do not allow for any significant analysis of policy, but rather encourage “headline” debating, emotional appeals and claims without warrants. Candidates are often asked to explain complex and controversial issues in a short amount of time, and the end result is almost always a dumbing down of their answer.

Of course Trump might be the exception. Trump’s entire campaign was run on unwarranted claims. During the debates, he actually benefitted from the short time-limits of each question. It allowed him to once again make grand claims without evidence, relentlessly attack Clinton and talk in circles instead of answering the questions poised to him.

Longer speeches help separate wheat from the chaff. Give Clinton 10 minutes to explain her tax plan in its entirety and you would get a fairly detailed and thorough explanation of its inner-workings, its feasibility and its potential advantages. Give Trump the same 10 minutes and you have a potential disaster waiting to happen.

To put this in perspective, each of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates lasted three hours. Each speaker also had significantly more time to develop his position with the first speaker getting a one-hour opening address and the second speaker getting one hour and a half to reply.

Can you imagine Donald Trump with an hour long opening address? Neither could I. The better question would be: How many times could Trump hang himself in an hour-long address?

It’s a mockery

Calling the presidential “debates” debates is a mockery of forensics. It belittles every high school and collegiate debate coach, many of whom have spent their lives advancing the craft. It tells the world the United States is more interested in live theatre than in meaningful dialogue. This point is driven home by Trump when he holds a press conference minutes before the second debate to introduce four women – three alleged victims of former President Bill Clinton’s past indiscretions and the fourth, a victim in a rape case that Hillary defended years previously.

These are not the actions of either a debater or a president to be. These are the actions of a desperate candidate willing to do whatever is necessary to win, even if it means turning the presidential debates into reality-television to do so. Should anyone really be surprised with these Apprentice-like tactics? Trump simply wagged the dog.

And therein, lies the problem. If a candidate can make a mockery out of the debates, then isn’t it time to change the format of the debates? Intelligence Square U.S., an organization that holds public debates, has petitioned to change the current format to the more traditional Oxford format – Two sides, one topic, with minimal moderation. In doing so, they say it would lead to overall better debates that would help to clarify the similarities and differences between candidates.

“This format would quickly reveal how well the candidates think on their feet, how deeply they know their subject, how well they understand the trade-offs, and how persuasive they are without the teleprompters” write Robert Rosenkranz and John Donvan.

After watching the travis-sham-mockery known as the 2016 presidential debates, it is clear that the world needs to start debating the quality and future direction of presidential debates. Let’s hope these public debates go better than did the actual presidential debates.

Media narrative misleading

All it takes is a picture and a story that can enrage a large portion of our society and you have the ability to create a national controversy.

Who cares whether the story is true or the image represents reality. In today’s age, the ability to draw Internet hits and the opportunity to further your political agenda trumps any responsibility to the truth.

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, decided to sit out the National Anthem during the NFL’s preseason. He believed by taking a knee during the Anthem he might start a conversation about police brutality toward unarmed black men. Instead, the conversation became about whether or not Kaepernick should take a knee.

Athletes across the country from the NFL to women’s soccer to NCAA football followed Kaepernick’s example. On Sept. 24, eight athletes from Millikin University, a Division III school in Decatur, Ill., took a knee during a road game. Some controversy followed; enough so that Millikin football coach Dan Gritti talked with his team to decide how to handle any future problems. The team, hoping to avoid controversy, decided to do what it had done earlier in the season at home games and what many other college football teams do – stay in the locker room during the National Anthem and come out as a team afterward.

The University released a statement that alerted the media that Millikin’s football team was staying in the locker room. The statement was picked up and reported on.

On Oct. 15, sophomore Connor Brewer snuck out of the locker room and stood during the National Anthem. Why he left the locker room we don’t know. It could have been because his parents told him he should. It could have been pressure from an old high school coach. He could have had personal reasons for taking the field on his own. For whatever reason, he left his teammates and took the field. A friend snapped a picture and posted it online, saying the rest of the team cowered inside.

The photo became a national story and was picked up by conservative news sites and in published headlines such as “One Player Stands to Honor His Country.”   A Fox News part-timer, (story) made assumptions that weren’t true.

Todd Starnes wrote that:

“Connor Brewer is fiercely loyal to his college football team. But he is also fiercely loyal to the United States of America. So when the Millikin University football team decided to protest the national anthem by remaining inside the locker room – instead of on the sidelines – Connor was faced with a decision.

The Millikin football team never voted to protest the Anthem, the team voted to stay in the locker room. Starnes called the members of the football teams cowards and used dog whistle language throughout his piece, calling the players’ decision to stay in their locker room a “safe space,” accusing the entire team of being unpatriotic.

The photo appeared to validate what Starnes wrote and reaction was swift. Athletes from Millikin were swamped with attacks, from both friends and people they’d never met. They received death threats, they were called cowards, they were attacked on social media. The coaches received racist letters, threats and the usual array of nastiness that can be found on the Internet when certain factions have been upset.

Millikin’s football team was caught in a “media narrative.” The story grew. The Connor Brewer story spread to Sports Illustrated, CNN, Time, the Washington Times and other outlets. Brewer received praise throughout the country. People called the University asking to give Brewer scholarships, a Go Fund Me page was started in his name, and he was honored as a great American hero.

But by midweek, students from Millikin started reporting what really happened. Two stories (This and this) were written by Millikin students, trying to put the record straight. But that’s not how a media controversy works. The narrative was set. It was one kid standing for the Anthem while the others cowered in their locker room.

In reality, it was poor journalism and worse journalism ethics. The writers knew there had to be more to the story than what they were given. Starnes and his ilk read the statement by the president of the university and chose to misinterpret it. They took the powerful story, one that would ignite controversy, upset the conservative base and draw readers to the story. The story that was agreed to as what happened was a great story. A widespread protest of the National Anthem by a group of privileged Division III players is a great story. One young man standing alone to show his patriotism is a great story.

But it wasn’t true. It’s harmful. It doesn’t do anything but ignite the anger of those who choose to believe that kind of story.

Years ago, that story wouldn’t have been run. Someone would have contacted the coach and got the real story. Someone would have taken the time to find the real story behind the picture.

Those days are gone. We now live in the days where death threats over an imaginary story are routine. We accept that as the reality of the Twitter world.

The credibility of journalists has plummeted the last couple of years.

It’s easy to put the blame on the Todd Starnes’ of the world, but the reality is that Sports Illustrated, CNN and other outlets picked up the story. They didn’t verify the facts. They didn’t check to see what was true and what wasn’t. They just looked at the photo and heard the narrative and ran with it.

Want to fix media credibility? Remember how to actually report on a story.



Media and courts failed on Ferguson

The Ferguson story of racial inequality in St. Louis and the nation was largely ignored by the media and judicial system before Michael Brown was killed in 2014. And the Missouri Supreme Court has done little to impose reform since then.

That was the consensus of lawyers, journalists and community activists who came together Sept. 14 to talk about social media and the Pulitzer Prize tradition. The panel at Saint Louis University Law School was part of the two-day Millstone lecture series focusing on the social justice tradition of the Pulitzer Prizes during the prizes’ 100th anniversary. The lecture series honors the late James C. Millstone, a senior news editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and mentor of a generation of reporters before his death in 1992.

Kevin Horrigan, the Post-Dispatch’s deputy editorial editor and a Pulitzer finalist for his work on Ferguson, said he regretted how late the media were to the story.

“One of my big regrets is that we as a newspaper didn’t become continually and consistently engaged in the Ferguson story before Ferguson happened…. This problem is not new, it’s decades old. It is a fundamental and tragic missed opportunity for the Post-Dispatch…. We got pieces of it along the way. Jeremy (Kohler) wrote some terrific stories about cops floating from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. We’ve written about fire districts. We wrote editorials about restrictive covenants. But we never engaged on a persistent, crusading aspect of this story until post-Ferguson. And that’s not really in the Pulitzer tradition. The Pulitzer Tradition was to crusade against injustices. We missed it, we let it go…. And the sad fact is that we are less likely because of economic forces to be able to do the sort of loud, persistent and relentless reporting on this story that it deserves.”

Kohler, an investigative reporter at the Post-Dispatch, pointed out that he and others had written stories of police and court corruption in the years before the death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014. There were stories about the mishandling of rape cases and police who moved from municipality to municipality. But he agreed ArchCity Defenders was first to the story of the municipal court injustices that wrecked peoples lives.

Thomas Harvey, director of ArchCity, said the Ferguson story writ large was a “story that its been ongoing in America since its inception. It is a story we have largely sought to ignore. It is a story that that any reporter, any person, any lawyer, any law student could have just walked out to a court or a shelter or a jail and heard about any day…. And that is a story of the way the legal system systematically deprives mostly African-American…of their civil rights, creates and exacerbates poverty…. We see the results of these intentional acts right here in our back yard and we have failed to do anything about it.”

It’s a story about “folks that were stopped by one of the 67 police departments in the region, went to one of our 81 courts in the region…….were told that if they didn’t come back with the money they owed they would be arrested and jailed….They are arrested, they are jailed, they are told that to buy their freedom they’ve got to come up with the money that everyone knows they don’t have or they can’t get out. And then they call their family members and their friends and they say can you give me money….so i can get out of this cage and get back to my children.”

Families “scrape together every penny they had and try to get their loved one out of jail…then they were told at that moment that they were wanted in another town so instead of being free they were moved from one cage to another cage….. Five people in those jails have hanged themselves….”

Hand in the cookie jar

The journalists and lawyers on the panel agreed that the Missouri Supreme Court had failed to make meaningful reforms.

Horrigan said, “since the death of Michael Brown…there has been no major permanent change in St. Louis municipal courts. There have been some cosmetic changes. But the state Supreme Court has not done what it logically and morally ought to do which is to dissolve all 81 municipal courts and put them under the auspices of the county circuit court. And why is that – because there are entrenched interests, the traffic bar, the municipal court bar.”

Kohler agreed. “The Supreme Court has not done anything to change. The judges themselves, the courts themselves, the police departments themselves have been shamed temporarily…but there is not structure in place to make that permanent.”

St. Louis is a “frustrating place” for reform, he said. “St. Louis is not the kind of place that likes to admit that it did something wrong. It doesn’t seem to get embarrassed by itself . St. Louis gets stuck with its hand in the cookie jar and it says this is always the way we get cookies.”

Tony Messenger, the Post-Dispatch columnist and former editorial editor who also was a Pulitzer finalist for his work on Ferguson, described the injustice of the Ferguson municipal court that he had witnessed the morning of the panel.

Stephanie E. Karr, the former Ferguson city attorney who resigned under fire, was back in court serving as city attorney because no successor had been appointed. She insisted that Navy veteran Fred Watson plead guilty to a minor littering charge, claiming that his previous lawyer had agreed to the plea – even though there is no record of that plea agreement.

Watson’s case was highlighted in the Justice Department’s report of unconstitutional police practices in Ferguson. A police officer stopped Watson after he had finished playing basketball and insisted on an identification. When Watson refused, the officer arrested him and threw in other charges, such as the much-abused charge of failure to comply with a police order. Because of the arrest, Watson lost his security clearance and his job in cybersecurity at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Has anything changed?

Even though Messenger acknowledges that “a lot hasn’t changed,” his approach to his job has.

“One of the things I tell people is that what Ferguson did to me is that it changed the rest of my career…. A woman wrote me and told me that she is tired of me using the F-word – the F-word is Ferguson. Ferguson, the F-word is not going away…. This is the story I will write about for the rest of my career…. It is going to take us that long: It has been two years and the Supreme Court has done nothing. It’s been two years and we still have 81 municipal courts. It’s been two years and Stephanie Karr is still the prosecutor in Ferguson even though she says she resigned… We haven’t solved this in two years and we’re not going to solve it in four years or five years or 10 years. It’s going to take us 20 years.”

On the hopeful side, Messenger said that “government officials are using the lens of racial equity more than they ever have in this city’s history.”

There was evidence of change from one questioner in the audience – Marie Kenyon, director of the new Peace and Justice Commission for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The “Archdiocese hadn’t had a peace and justice commission for 20 years,” she said. “Cardinal Rigali said maybe we don’t need one of those….. It was only after the Ferguson uprising that Archbishop (Robert J.) Carlson said oh, maybe the church better looking into this too…. Now at the chancery, where I work, we’re finally talking about something other than pro-life.”

Nicole Hudson, leader of the Forward Through Ferguson group following up on the 189 calls for action of the Ferguson Commission, said she had seen activists come together in ways that hadn’t happened before Ferguson.

The goal, she said, was “a state of racial equity, which is a state where outcomes are no longer determined by race.” St. Louis is far from that, she added. Infant mortality among blacks has declined in recent years but it is now three times as great as for whites, up from twice as great a few decades ago.

Hudson and Harvey emphasized nothing would have changed without the “uprising in the streets.” But she added that many of the people of Ferguson are “emotionally spent.”

Twitter – the good and bad

Horrigan said “Twitter is as good as the person who tweets. Often it is a source rumor and innuendo and falsehood. The difference between mainstream journalism and social media is standards and my God, if we don’t abide by standards we’re really in trouble.”

Kohler agreed Twitter has its limitations because it is loaded with journalists and activists. He thinks Facebook is a better way to engage the community.

Harvey, though, credited Twitter with enabling him to “get direct access to journalists all of the country….something that couldn’t have happened before Twitter. So there are productive, important ways you get outside of the gatekeeping of decision-making about what is written about your community.”

Hudson said Twitter was “one of the places that keeps me accountable to the unvoiced…. It is really useful tool to stay accountable and keep my mind open.”

Messenger agreed that Twitter “helped drive the narrative of Ferguson,” but added, “It’s a good thing…..I connected with communities and sources I might not have connected with, specifically people of color. I found them on Twitter….I often used Twitter more than personal contact to get to know people and perspectives….

“There was an opportunity for journalists to connect with people that sometimes – to use the metaphor of the ivory tower and the editorial page – that we sometimes were not connecting to.”

G20: The view from Chinese media

BEIJING — The 11th G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou, China, now is history. Considered a significant public diplomatic event and an opportunity to showcase China’s leadership in tackling global issues, the Sept. 4-5. Hangzhou summit became a big event for the Chinese media.

China Daily, China’s national English-language newspaper with a global circulation of 900,000, published special editions of the G20 summit Sept. 1-6. Its coverage emphasized developmental issues as an important theme on the agenda, and that China continues to be a key player in global growth.

Other government-sponsored news organizations such as China Central Television, China’s only national TV broadcaster, and Xinhua, a national news agency, prominently placed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s full-text opening remarks on their websites. On Sept. 4 a variety show – Hangzhou is most memorable – directed by Zhang Yimou, a film laureate and director of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was live broadcast by CCTV. The gala dovetailed traditional Chinese arts and modern holographic technology.

Hangzhou is known for its southern-style natural beauty, cultural heritage and silk products. In social media Chinese Internet users chitchatted about summit leaders’ Hangzhou shopping sprees, and Brazilian President Michel Temer was spotted shopping for a pair of $120 leather shoes downtown. First ladies not only went to stores, but watched exhibitions of Chinese calligraphy and paintings, and attended silk clothes shows.

Chinese media covered Xi and Obama’s unofficial talks by West Lake in Hangzhou.

Coverage of Obama’s plane stairs problem after Air Force One landed in Hangzhou was barely found in official Chinese media. On Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog service, there was a video of a Chinese official who said, “This is our country, our airport. OK?” to his U.S counterpart. His remark quickly became a hit and got some positive comments. A Weibo user remarked, “Nice job. No matter where someone is from, he needs to follow our rules while he is here. So does the (U.S.) leader.” Another user commented, “I hope there are more Chinese who have the confidence to say ‘this is our country and this is our airport.’”

However, some other internet users warned it was important to stay calm as there were potential conflicts between China and the U.S. In WeChat, another popular social networking site, some posts proposed journalists should cover more important issues on the Group of 20’s agenda, rather than make a fuss over the stairs.

Author’s note:  Dr. Fu is assistant professor at Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics.

Journalism loses staunch civil rights voice, mentor

George E. Curry, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch, co-founder of the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists (GSLABJ) and co-founding director of the GSLABJ’s workshop for minority high school students, civil rights activist and advocate for the black press, died of a heart attack on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016.

Curry began his journalism career with Sports Illustrated before working for the Post-Dispatch from 1972–1983. He went from there to being Washington, DC, correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, where he brought the workshop model to the Washington ABJ chapter with support from several other former St. Louis media colleagues who also had joined DC journalism outlets. He was served as New York bureau chief for the Tribune.

Curry became editor of Emerge magazine in 1993, after Black Entertainment Television acquired a majority interest in the publication. He worked for the National Newspaper Publishers Association, where he wrote a weekly syndicated column that appeared in 200 newspapers, leaving in 2007 and returning in 2012. At the time of his death, he working to reestablish Emerge.

Curry wrote Jake Gaither: America’s Most Famous Black Coach (1977) and edited an anthology, The Best of Emerge Magazine (2003).

To many St. Louis colleagues, Curry’s most important contribution was as founder of the GSLABJ’s journalism workshop, now approaching its 40th year, with colleagues and alumni having replicated the model in several other cities, because of its role in training young people in essential journalism skills and launching their careers.

A service will be held on Saturday, Aug. 27, in Curry’s hometown of Tuscaloosa, AL. The Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are expected to present eulogies on Friday, Aug. 26, and at the funeral respectively.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) has added in memoriam piece about Curry to its 2016 conference in Chicago and will present an excellence in journalism award in his name.

More information will be in our September print edition.


Author’s note:  Ruth E. Thaler-Carter was a reporter for the St. Louis Argus when the GSLABJ’s Minority High School Journalism Workshop began and helped launch a similar program in Washington, DC. She has written about the workshop for the St. Louis Journalism Review. She is currently a freelance writer/editor based in upstate New York and webmaster for the GSLABJ, which will hold a 40th anniversary event on December 3, 2016.