Category Archives: Editorial

New-wave J-school curriculum

Pulling from some of the most interesting journalism classes offered in programs in the Midwest, these courses would make for a wonderful year for any college journalism student. These are actual course descriptions in the college catalogues.

Will Write for Food (and Wine): Focuses on food and wine writing in current U.S. culture. Come ready to create mouthwatering narrative and actively seek publishing your finished work. An emphasis will be placed on class participation and written critiques of peer-reviewed articles in class. University of Missouri

Digital Games, Sims and Apps: Storytelling, Play and Commerce: Introduction to academic study of video games, computer simulations/mobile game applications. Digital games as technology, mass communication industry, cultural form/set of design practices. University of Minnesota

            Sex in the Media: Explores the role and portrayal of sex and sexuality in media and examines in detail the potential social and psychological effects of exposure to sexual content in the media. Indiana University

The Googlization of America: Led by Google, technology companies are taking a more central role in the American media landscape every day. In this course, students learn how Google and its competitors are continuing to change journalism, the media business and U.S. culture. Northwestern University             

Sports and Electronic Media: Examines the practical, social, and economic relationships between two major areas of U.S. popular culture — the electronic media and sports. Combines aspects of announcing, production, sales and marketing, history, and policy. Ball State University

Arab Spring in Context: Media, Religion, and Geopolitics: Protest movements that started in Tunisia in 2011 and swept across North Africa and the Middle East transforming Arab and Islamic societies in radically different ways; function of social media, satellite television, communication technology; influence of religious leaders and groups on some protest outcomes; impact of wealth and geopolitics on social fabric of Islamic societies within and outside Arab countries. University of Iowa

Mass Communication and Political Behavior: Interrelationships of news media, political campaigning and the electorate. Considers the impact of media coverage and persuasive appeals on image and issue voting, political participation and socialization. University of Wisconsin

Outdoor/Nature Journalism: This course has a three-fold purpose: to acquaint new journalists and writers with the best works of those who have found inspiration for their prose from the outdoors; to familiarize student writers with journalism about nature sites in the Missouri and Midwest region; to encourage developing outdoor/nature writers to experiment with expository and advocacy journalism. Webster University

Critical Analysis of Media: Commercial mass media and alternative press in a global context; the ways media reinforce or challenge dominant or non-dominant paradigms. Class, gender, race, disability. Media investigation skills basic to democracy. St. Cloud University

Mass Media and the American Family: The impact of the mass media on family communication patterns, familial value structures, development of children, and orientation to news media. Examination of news, advertising, and entertainment content from educational, cultural and economic perspectives. Emphasis on empirical social science research which examines relationships between media and families. Marquette University

21st century j-schools: a personal look

If some high school student asked my advice about choosing a college journalism program, I of course would suggest the obvious criteria.

Classes offered. Majors available. Out-of-the-classroom opportunities to engage in journalism. Reputation. State of its technology.

After writing a story about the Class of 2020 for this issue of Gateway Journalism Review, I now would give them a question to ask their potential schools: What is your response when asked to discuss your school for a media magazine?

If the answers fall anywhere close to what I received in trying to do the story, my advice would be to move along and don’t look back.

We’re too busy. The semester just started. I can’t get anyone interested in talking to you. Not interested. We don’t have any information about the freshman class yet.

And the nominee for my favorite: No one in our department has 15 minutes to talk or answer questions on email about our program.

But maybe I am being too harsh. At least those people responded, however negative. Of the 23 inquiries made that turned me down, 10 did so by ignoring the request altogether. I hope these places do not preach what they practice. But instead, they are so busy and caught up in teaching today’s journalists that they cannot look up from their lecture lecterns to talk about themselves.

Actually, I don’t hope it, because I know it’s not true. What might be closer to the truth is that journalism schools have joined the ongoing parade of ignoring the media because they are afraid we won’t tell the story exactly the way they want. But keep doing that and here’s what the story might be in 20 years: Those schools will no longer exist.

40, 30, even 20 years ago, journalism students learned the same standards of the trade: writing, reporting, editing. Not much variation there; where you went to college served more as a door-opener after graduation than learning secrets not taught elsewhere. Students at Missouri and Northwestern and Columbia and Newhouse and Stanford learned the five W’s the same as did students at colleges with much smaller departments.

Now, as journalism continues to find new ways to tell a story, the five W’s and how have been reclassified. They’re now called the foundation upon which sexier and more cutting-edge journalism is taught.

Some schools are building impressive structures on those foundations. They have successfully blended the classic with what is trending. To be a student at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism facing the dilemma of whether to write for the award-winning Columbia Missourian or join the convergence Global Journalist show to cover world news and challenges to freedom of the press.

Or to be taking classes at Indiana University’s Media School, in Franklin Hall, built in 1907. But thanks to its $21 million renovation over the past two years, the upgraded facility gives students tools that rank with those of any professional newsroom.

Journalism schools now serve as the farm team for the professional ranks. No longer will fresh-out-of-college journalists have the time, or an employer willing to spend that time, to train them over a few years. Hit the ground running or don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Successful journalism programs will teach students to jump right in, and also to have the skills and confidence to lead the way for the next four decades. The past 30 years already have shown that those who wouldn’t/couldn’t embrace the Internet and its ways to tell a story did not survive.

The same can be said about journalism schools. Because if you won’t tell your story, who will?

J-schools in transition

In her freshman year of high school in Lake Forest, Il., Sarah Verschoor signed up for a journalism class simply because it fit into her schedule.

She liked it enough to take all the journalism classes offered in the next four years and joined her high school newspaper, rising to editor-in-chief in her senior year. She led the paper’s move from a broadsheet to a news magazine.

Despite her initial love of journalism, after her junior year, her college choice and career path remained uncertain. That summer Verschoor attended the High School Journalism Institute at Indiana University, run by IU for the past 70 years. “Everything came together,” said Verschoor, who began her freshman year at Indiana this fall as an honors student in the Media School. “I am so passionate about wanting to be a journalist.”

This fall the journalism Class of 2020 began the four-year college march to graduation. When those students graduate, they will join the generation of media professionals whose work-life span carries into the last half of this century. These freshmen, said people involved in educating them, demand that journalism schools prepare them for a career in a profession that redefines itself at a rapid, non-stop pace. Even top-tier journalism schools, such as IU and the University of Missouri, have had to evolve to better prepare students for the unknown future of the profession.

Lynda Kraxberger, associate dean for undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri, said Missouri’s School of Journalism continues to teach the enduring values and principles of the profession. “What has been done here since 1908 when newspaper and advertising were offered for the first time remains,” Kraxberger said. “But what we also focus on now is teaching students how to learn all throughout their professional careers.’’

It’s a learning strategy that has been given a name — the Missouri Method. Students have a choice of six different newsrooms from traditional print with the award-winning Columbia Missourian to the Global Journalist, a convergence show that looks at worldwide issues and challenges to a free press.

Of Missouri’s approximately 25,000 undergraduate students, some 1,850 are in the School of Journalism. The freshman class numbers from 350 to 400 students.

Students at all levels work with professionals, many of whom are Missouri alumni. That mixture of hands-on with people in the profession helps students understand what will be expected of them, said Suzette Heiman, professor of strategic communication and director of planning and communications.

“Students develop critical thinking and writing skills, learn how to do research,” Heiman said. “These skills are needed in all careers. They are the floor of the foundation to do anything. The coaching the students receive from faculty and alumni mimics what they will get in the real world.”

To strengthen that connection from students to professional newsrooms, faculty chairs meet routinely with alumni to evaluate student portfolios. “It’s an ongoing conversation,” Kraxberger said, “on making sure students are as prepared as possible.”

Students also compete to pit their ideas against those from students at other colleges. One group created a computer application for journalists using the Apple Watch called Recordly. Students traveled to Apple’s headquarters and gave a presentation on how the app would allow journalists to record and then download the transcript to their computers. The university has provided seed money to help bring the app to market.

Working with the Hearst Company, another group developed software called Nearbuy, to help people identify real estate available in a community. And another group participated in a contest sponsored by Meredith in Des Moines to come up with a new, never done magazine.

Missouri students looked into online gaming, a growing hobby among people their age. According to Kraxberger, they realized all of the magazines on the topic were geared toward young men, missing the market for young women. “Fangirl” was pitched to Meredith’s top level people, who bought the prototype on the spot. “Some schools are known for one program,” Kraxberger stated. “We’re good at everything.”

Students this semester are working to create a policy on the use of drones in journalism. Missouri has six drones that students can use for various types of coverage.

“This is what we mean when we say they are taught to learn,” Kraxberger said. “They can put their hands on new technology and figure out the best use with the enduring themes of journalism.”

What is new at IU includes the concept of the Media School itself. In July 2014 IU merged its 100-year-old journalism program with other communication schools at the college and created the Media School. Of IU’s approximately 37,000 undergraduates, some 700 are in the Media School, with the freshman class comprising about 250 students.

Anne Kibbler, director of communications and media relations for the school, said the change puts everything under one roof so students have greater flexibility with their curriculum choices. “It’s a reflection of what’s happening in the industry,” she continued. “The media industry is merging platforms and technologies and so did we.”

IU changed more than the name on the outside of the building, changing what happens inside as well. “We can no longer train students to write for print only,” Kibbler said. “They need to do that as well as take video and photos.”

The Media School breaks down walls for students that had existed between the three former communication schools. “Before, students were limited to the number of classes they could take in another school,” Kibbler stated. “Now there is flexibility enough that each student is building their own degree.”

Regardless of what specialization a student chooses, everyone receives training in the fundamentals, Kibbler said. She continued, “Reporting, writing, editing, ethics and media law remain part of the training. That was one of the questions alumni had when we approached them with the Media School plan. They did not want those fundamentals watered down.”

All students are required to take a grammar test, something that was not done before, Kibbler said.

Alumni, and IU students who began their course work before the Media School’s first classes in 2015-16, say they regret they cannot take part in the new approach, Kibbler said. She contended, “For the Class of 2020, technology they are using today will be different in five years. We can’t teach them how to use that technology because we don’t know what will be out there. We can teach them to adapt to a continually changing environment and to rely on the fundamental skills as a constant. To bridge that need for old-school and new-school teaching, the Media School will hire more faculty members.”

As of mid-September IU advertised for six open positions. “We’re looking for more people who can broaden our current offerings,” Kibbler said. “A few years ago, for example, we would have advertised for a photojournalism professor. Now we’re looking for people who can go beyond that, someone who is a strong writer who can take photos and shoot video.”

Smaller universities also have switched their approaches. Associate Professor Gary Ford, chair of the Department of Communications and Journalism at Webster University in St. Louis, said the department has “evolved through the years to remain relevant in a world where delivery of news and information is rapidly changing.”

Webster admits some 3,000 students to its home campus, with about 475 students of all majors entering as the Class of 2020. Enrollment figures for those choosing the Department of Communications and Journalism were not available.

Webster also does what the programs at Missouri and Indiana are doing. “Our program emphasizes the underlying skill of basic storytelling using good writing and editing techniques,” Ford said. “We then provide training and experience on various delivery platforms.  In addition to traditional print and electronic media, we also emphasize multimedia and social media delivery platforms.”

Broadening the definition of storytelling, Ford said, is not an option for schools that want to continue to succeed. “Journalism programs today must adapt to changing needs of the industry to better prepare students for jobs in a new information age.”

Student journalism organizations outside of colleges and universities also adapt to what students want. College Media Association – formerly College Media Advisers – runs conventions in the spring and fall that attract hundreds of college student media members and advisers.

CMA President Kelley Callaway, director of student media at Rice University, said the options offered for students at the conventions include more digital and mobile media techniques. “We have them use their own phones to shoot video on site,” Callaway said. “It’s not the traditional print-only anymore. With convergence you do a little bit of everything. Gone are the days when you did the police beat and nothing else.”

Some new additions to conference topics include entertainment media and a film festival of student-made productions. Sessions about blogging also attract students.

Another topic student media want to discuss is diversity in newsrooms and television stations. “It’s a hot topic,” Callaway said.

At conventions, CMA has reduced, but not eliminated, the number of tracks offered for print-only topics. “Sessions on yearbook are now at 12, where 10 years ago we had 20,” she said. “We replace those with how to use your smartphone to edit video.” Keynote speakers who talk about their careers, dwindled in popularity in the last few years, Callaway said. “We’ve shifted to panel discussions of topical journalism,” she continued, describing how students reacted to a fall 2015 keynote talk in Houston that included a man wrongly incarcerated and the journalist whose work help free him.

“The line to meet them after was ridiculously long,” Callaway said. “The reviews from the students said we want more like this. The millennium generation wants to impact and change the world through journalism.” Heiman said that is what she hears repeatedly when she meets with prospective students and their parents. “By and large journalism today attracts students passionate about doing journalism. They have a sense of calling and want to serve people, however that story form takes.”

Heiman and Kraxberger told today’s journalism students come to college much like Verschoor, already with bylines earned and journalism classes taken. “They’ve already done well at this in high school and have high standards for themselves,” Heiman said.

Verschoor covers the IU Office of Multicultural Affairs as a campus beat reporter for the Indiana Daily Student. She said she loves what she is doing, despite the reaction received from people when she described her chosen college major.

“It frustrates me, that tone of voice when they would say, oh, really, you’re interested in that?” Verschoor asked. “There will always be a place to tell those stories in any form, even if not always in print. I want to tell those stories that matter and relay them back to people to make a difference.”

Rick Teitelman – a friend of justice

Missouri Supreme Court Judge Richard B. Teitelman died in his sleep this week. He was 69.

Rick was a friend of the Journalism Review, a friend of mine and, most important, a friend of equal justice.

When Rick graduated from Washington University Law School he couldn’t find a job.  There wasn’t much of a market for a legally blind lawyer, even if he was smart enough to have gotten a perfect 800 on his SATs in high school.  Rick started his own law office, taking a bus to appointments.

In the mid-1970s he went to work for Legal Services and rose to lead the program in St. Louis.  I got to know Rick around that time. I was writing for the Post-Dispatch about Ronald Reagan’s attempt to kill  the Legal Services program.  Rick was a great source of news and never failed to write a typed note when he thought a story was well-done – a nice reward for reporters used to nastygrams.  Teitelman also liked to take reporters to a downtown deli where he dined on delicacies like liver and onions.

On the editorial page of the Post-Dispatch we called for Teitelman’s appointment to the Missouri Supreme Court.  Gov. Bob Holden agreed and appointed Teitelman in 2002.  He became the first Jewish and legally blind member of the court.  In 2004 he withstood a campaign to block his retention for being too liberal.  Our editorial condemned the right-wing “smear campaign.”

Every time we planned a fundraiser for the Journalism Review, Teitelman was there lending his support. A month ago, Teitelman attended a lunch with friends of Saint Louis University law school where I presented a GJR project on Ferguson.  Teitelman spoke candidly about what lawyers and judges could do to bring about reforms.  That passion for equal justice still burned.

Judge Richard Teitelman, liberal lion of Missouri Supreme Court, dies at 69

Here is the Supreme Court’s obituary:

 

         SUPREME COURT OF MISSOURI MOURNS LOSS OF ITS COLLEAGUE,

                        JUDGE RICHARD B. TEITELMAN




JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It is with great sadness that the Supreme Court of

Missouri acknowledges the passing of its beloved colleague, Judge Richard 

Teitelman, athis home today in St. Louis. Judge Teitelman began his service 

on the state’s high court in March 2002 and served as its chief

justice from July 2011 through June 2013. He was 69. In honor of Judge

Teitelman, the Court cancelled oral arguments scheduled for today.



“Judge Teitelman had immense compassion for others,” Chief Justice

Breckenridge said. “He dedicated himself, both personally and

professionally, to ensuring that every person receives justice in our

courts. He was always aware that each of his decisions impacted and changed

the lives of real people, and he worked tirelessly to ensure that each

decision was fair and just. He delighted in talking to both lawyers and the

lay community about the law, and delighted in the success of his fellow

lawyers and judges.”




Breckenridge continued, “Judge Teitelman’s love of justice and the law was

paralleled only by his love of people. He provided support and

encouragement to his friends in the things that mattered most to them. And

he considered almost everyone he met a friend. He had a remarkable ability

to retain and recall information about people and events, and to find

connections with each of them. His seemingly boundless energy, enthusiasm,

and empathy strengthened and gave hope to those around him in thoughtful

and meaningful ways. Judge Teitelman will be missed tremendously.”




Teitelman was born September 25, 1947, in Philadelphia. He received his

bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1969 from the University of

Pennsylvania and his law degree in 1973 from the Washington University

School of Law in St. Louis. He ran his own solo law practice until joining

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri in St. Louis in 1975, working his way up

through that organization’s leadership and serving almost two decades as

its executive director and general counsel. He served as a judge of the

Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, from January 1998 through

February 2002.




Teitelman was Missouri’s first Jewish and first legally blind judge. At his

formal swearing-in ceremony at the Supreme Court, Teitelman paraphrased

Helen Keller in telling the crowd, “For a committed life, one has to have

fidelity to a noble purpose, and for me, that purpose has been the fight

for justice.”  But he added, “This installation is not about me. It is

about the people I have worked with and the people I have served.”




Supreme Court Clerk Bill L. Thompson said, “Although legally blind, Judge

Teitelman’s vision of compassion, generosity, and encouragement of others

was perfect.”




Teitelman had a long commitment to public service and bar activities. He

was a member of numerous local bar associations throughout the state and,

for the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, served as chair of its

young lawyers section, chair of its trial section, secretary, vice

president and president and also served as president of its bar foundation.

At The Missouri Bar, Teitelman served as chair of the disabled, minority

and diversity law committee of the young lawyers’ section, chair of the

delivery of legal services committee, and member of both the board of

governors and its executive committee. He was elected vice president and

president-elect, the position he held at the time he was appointed to the

Supreme Court. At the national level, Teitelman was very active with the

American Bar Association. He was a past chair of its standing commission on

mental and physical disability law, a member of its standing committee on

pro bono and public service, a judicial division member of the standing

committee on minorities in the judiciary, and was a lifetime sustaining

fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He also participated in a number of

civic and charitable activities, both in St. Louis as well as at the state

and national levels. He also was a member of the Supreme Court of Missouri

Historical Society.




In addition, Teitelman was honored with numerous awards throughout his

career, including The Missouri Bar’s President’s Award, Spurgeon Smithson

Award and Purcell Award for Professionalism; awards from the Bar

Association of Metropolitan St. Louis and Mound City Bar Association; and

awards from the National Conference of Metropolitan Courts, the American

Jewish Congress, the American Council for the Blind and the St. Louis

Society for the Blind.




A memorial service for Judge Teitelman is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday,

December 1 at Graham Memorial Chapel on the Washington University campus in

St. Louis. Arrangements are under the direction of Berger Memorial Chapel,

9430 Olive Boulevard, St. Louis.

The top censored stories of 2015-2016

The Journalism Review’s presentation of the top censored stories of 2015-2016 extends the tradition originated by Professor Carl Jensen and his Sonoma State University students in 1976. That tradition now includes faculty and students from campuses across North America.

During this year’s cycle, Project Censored reviewed 235 validated independent news stories representing the collective efforts of 221 college students and 33 professors from 18 college and university campuses.

How do the organizers know that the top stories brought forward each year are not only relevant and significant, but also trustworthy? The answer is that each candidate news story undergoes rigorous review, which takes place in multiple stages.

Candidate stories are initially identified by Project Censored professors and students, or are nominated by members of the general public. Together, faculty and students vet each candidate story in terms of its importance, timeliness, quality of sources, and corporate news coverage.

Once Project Censored receives the nomination, a second round of judgment is conducted, using the same criteria and updating the review to include any subsequent, competing corporate coverage.

In early spring, the faculty and students at all affiliate campuses, and the panel of judges cast votes to winnow the candidate stories from several hundred to 25. Once the top 25 list has been determined, Project Censored student interns begin another intensive review of each story using LexisNexis and ProQuest databases.

The finalists are then sent to a panel of judges, who vote to rank them in numerical order. (This writer is one of the judges.) These experts include media studies professors, professional journalists, and a former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.

 

(1) U.S. Military forces deployed in 70 percent of world’s nations

If you throw a dart at a world map and do not hit water, Nick Turse reported for TomDispatch, the odds are that US Special Operations Forces “have been there sometime in 2015.” According to a spokesperson for Special Operations Command (SOCOM), in 2015 Special Operations Forces (SOF) deployed in 147 of the world’s 195 recognized nations, an increase of eighty percent since 2010. “The global growth of SOF missions has been breathtaking,” Turse wrote.

As SOCOM commander General Joseph Votel told the audience of the Aspen Security Forum in July 2015, more SOF troops are deployed to more locations and are conducting more operations than at the height of the Afghan and Iraq wars. In Turse’s words.

 

(2) Crisis in evidence-based medicine

In April 2015, the Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, wrote, “Something has gone fundamentally wrong with one of our greatest human creations.” Describing the upshot of a UK symposium held that month on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research, Horton summarized the “case against science”: “Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness…. The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming.”

In 2009, Marcia Angell, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, made comparable claims in an article for the New York Review of Books: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.

 

(3) Rising carbon dioxide levels threaten to permanently disrupt vital ocean bascteria

Imagine a car heading toward a cliff’s edge with its gas pedal stuck to the floor. That, Robert Perkins wrote, is a metaphor for “what climate change will do to the key group of ocean bacteria known as Trichodesmium,” according to a study published in the September 2015 issue of Nature Communications by researchers at the University of Southern California and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Trichodesmium is found in nutrient-poor parts of the ocean, where it converts nitrogen gas into material that can be used by other forms of life. From algae to whales, all life needs nitrogen to grow. Reporting for the Guardian, Emma Howard quoted Eric Webb, one of the study’s researchers, who explained how the process of “nitrogen fixation” makes Trichodesmium “the fertilising agent of the open ocean.”

 

(4) Search engine algorithms and electronic votiong machines could swing 2016 election

From search engine algorithms to electronic voting machines, technology provides opportunities for manipulation of voters and their votes in ways that could profoundly affect the results of the 2016 election. In the US, the 2012 presidential election was won by a margin of just 3.9 percent; and, historically, half of US presidential elections have been won by margins under 7.6 percent. These narrow but consequential victory margins underscore the importance of understanding how secret, proprietary technologies—whether they are newly developing or increasingly outdated—potentially swing election results.

Mark Frary, in Index on Censorship, describes the latest research by Robert Epstein and Ronald E. Robertson of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology on what they call the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME). Their research focuses on the powerful role played by the secret algorithms (including Google’s PageRank and Facebook’s EdgeRank) that determine the contents of our Internet search results and social media news feeds.

 

(5) Corporate exploitation of global refugee crisis masked at humanitarianism

According to a June 2015 United Nations report, sixty million people worldwide are now refugees due to conflict in their home nations. The UN report indicated that during 2014 one out of every 122 people was a refugee, internally displaced, or an asylum seeker; and over half of these refugees were children.

Although the extent of the global refugee crisis has been covered in the corporate media (including, for example, the New York Times and the Washington Post), the exploitation of refugees has been less well covered. In February 2016, Sarah Lazare published an article on AlterNet that warned of the World Bank’s private enterprise solution to the Syrian displacement crisis. “Under the guise of humanitarian aid,” Lazare wrote, “the World Bank is enticing Western companies to launch ‘new investments’ in Jordan in order to profit from the labor of stranded Syrian refugees. In a country where migrant workers have faced forced servitude, torture and wage theft, there is reason to be concerned that this capital-intensive ‘solution’ to the mounting crisis of displacement will establish sweatshops that specifically target war refugees for hyper-exploitation.”

 

(6) Over 1.5 million American families live on two dollars per person per day

According to Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, sociologists and authors of the book $2.00 per Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, in 2011 more than 1.5 million US families—including three million children—lived on as little as two dollars per person per day in any given month. Edin and Shaefer determined this figure on the basis of data from the US Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), income data from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), additional data on family homelessness, and their own fieldwork in four study sites.

Corporate coverage of Edin and Shaefer’s sociological study of extreme poverty has been limited. In early 2012, USA Today published a straightforward report on a previous version of their findings, which indicated 1.46 million families lived on less than two dollars per person per day.

 

(7) No end in sight for Fukushima disaster

Five years after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, Dahr Jamail reported that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) officials in charge of the plant continue to release large quantities of radioactive waste water into the Pacific Ocean. Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, called Fukushima “the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of humankind.” As Jamail reported, experts such as Gundersen continue warning officials and the public that this problem is not going away. As Gundersen told Jamail, “With Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and now with Fukushima, you can pinpoint the exact day and time they started…but they never end.” Another expert quoted in Jamail’s Truthout article, M.V. Ramana, a physicist and lecturer at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security and the Nuclear Futures Laboratory, explained, “March 2011 was just the beginning of the disaster, which is still unfolding.”

 

(8) Syria’s war spurred by contest for gas delivery in Europe, not Muslim sectarianism

At least four years into the crisis in Syria, “most people have no idea how this war even got started,” Mnar Muhawesh reported for MintPress News in September 2015.

In 2011–12, after Syrian president Bashar al-Assad refused to cooperate with Turkey’s proposal to create a natural gas pipeline between Qatar and Turkey through Syria, Turkey and its allies became “the major architects of Syria’s ‘civil war.’” The proposed pipeline would have bypassed Russia to reach European markets currently dominated by Russian gas giant Gazprom. As a result, Muhawesh wrote, “The Middle East is being torn to shreds by manipulative plans to gain oil and gas access by pitting people against one another based on religion. The ensuing chaos provides ample cover to install a new regime that’s more amenable to opening up oil pipelines and ensuring favorable routes for the highest bidders.”

Although there is plenty of coverage in US corporate media about the violence in Syria and the refugee crisis that is sweeping Europe and reaching North America, this coverage has failed to address the economic interests, including control of potentially lucrative gas pipelines,

 

(9) Big pharma political lobbying not limited to presidential campaigns

Pharmaceutical companies have been among the biggest political spenders for years, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. As Mike Ludwig of Truthout reported, based on CRP data, large pharmaceutical companies made over $51 million in campaign donations during the 2012 presidential election, nearly $32 million in the 2014 elections, and, as of September 2015, they had already put $10 million into the 2016 election. During the 2014 elections, Pfizer led drug companies with $1.5 million in federal campaign donations, followed by Amgen ($1.3 million) and McKesson ($1.1 million).

Although these are large sums of money, campaign donations by large pharmaceutical companies pale in comparison to how much they spent on lobbying politicians and influencing policies outside of elections. As Ludwig reported, according to data gathered on the 2014 election, the industry spent seven dollars on lobbying for every dollar spent on the election. The $229 million spent by drug companies and their lobbying groups that year was down from a peak of $273 million in 2009, the year that Congress debated the Affordable Care Act.

 

(10) CISA: The internet surveillance act no one is discussing

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) into law as part of a 2,000 page omnibus spending bill. As drafted, CISA was intended to “improve cybersecurity in the United States through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, and for other purposes.” The act authorized the creation of a system for corporate informants to provide customers’ data to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which, in turn, would share this information with other federal agencies, including the Departments of Commerce, Defense (which includes the NSA), Energy, Justice (which includes the FBI), the Treasury (which oversees the IRS), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

As Sam Thielman of the Guardian reported, civil liberties experts had been “dismayed” when Congress used the omnibus spending bill to advance some of the legislation’s “most invasive” components. Anthony Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union criticized Congress for using the spending bill “to pursue their extremist agendas.” “Sneaking damaging and discriminatory riders into a must-pass bill usurps the democratic process,” he told the Guardian. Lauren Weinstein, who cofounded People For Internet Responsibility, also spoke critically of the legislation: “There is not a culture of security and privacy established in the government yet. You have to have that before you even consider sharing the amounts of data [CISA] would cover.” Evan Greer of Fight for the Future called CISA “a disingenuous attempt to quietly expand the US government’s surveillance programs.”

 

U.S. election: the view from China

Chinese mainstream media have been busy analyzing America’s misleading poll results in the aftermath of last week’s U.S. elections. Media here have attributed Donald Trump’s success to white-collar workers’ support from both males and females, and his proactive use of social media, even though Hillary Clinton was endorsed by many American mainstream news organizations.

Some reports here have included analyses and predictions of Trump’s policies, including the U.S. stance on global trade, geopolitics and partnership with American allies. As for Sino-U.S. relations, it is believed that it would be unlikely for Trump to impose a high tax rate on Chinese imports, as he claimed during the campaign, according to Xinhua, China’s national news agency. On the other hand, Xinhua has indicated economic collaboration might go even further given Trump’s background as a businessman.

Other coverage about Trump seems anecdotal. The Beijing Youth Daily, the capital’s metropolitan newspaper, ran a story about Trump registering his last name and its Chinese translations as trademarks in 2006 when he was a businessman. However, “Trump” had been registered by a Chinese whose name is Dong. Trump appealed but in vain. According to reports here, Trump has 78 effectively registered trademarks in China relating to his name and businesses in insurance, finance and education.

In Chinese social media Weibo and Wechat, China’s versions of Twitter and Facebook, Internet users seem to be fascinated by Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. She is portrayed as a supermodel, successful businesswoman and mom with three children, who is going to be the next America’s First Daughter. Social media here report she is endowed with wealth and beauty, though she still works diligently to get a diploma from a prestigious university, and that she rose to the current position in her father’s company while also managing her own business. She is acclaimed by Chinese social media users as a role model for modern women — a success on both professional and familial levels.

 

Author’s note:  Dr. Fu is assistant professor at Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics. She earned her Ph.D. at Southern Illinois University’s College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.