Leo Drey: Progressive Pioneer

CHARLES KLOTZER / Leo Drey left us at the age of 98. It was in the mid-sixties that I first met Leo. He had heard about struggling FOCUS/Midwest magazine and wondered how it was doing. We met in his unpretentious office–no secretary. You just walked in. The simplicity of his and his wife’s lifestyle, both in their work and in their home, was in sharp contrast to the far-reaching progressive adventure they pursued over these many decades. While Leo devoted himself to sustain an environment on the ground that would benefit generations to come, his wife Kay became a prophetess, who not only analyzed and recognized the implicit dangers of nuclear power plants, but also became an unrelenting voice informing the public and government how the nuclear industry poisons our environment. St. Louis Magazine called both “Green Giants”.

Twitter explodes with invective, partisan comment after Ferguson shootings

By WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / Twitter provided the earliest reports of the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson this week. It also provided the forum for invective, hate and partisan reaction. President Barack Obama used Twitter to condemn the shootings and conservative critics condemned Obama for relegating his response to Twitter. Fox commentators blamed Attorney General Eric Holder’s report last week on unconstitutional police practices in Ferguson for creating the atmosphere in which the officers were shot. On Fox, Jeff Roorda, the head of the St. Louis police union said the resignation of Ferguson Chief Tom Jackson wasn’t enough for protesters, commenting, “They didn’t get what they wanted when Tom stepped down. They got it late last night when they finally, successfully shot two police officers.” Protest leaders and the Brown family condemned the violence in press conferences and on Twitter. But social media critics of the Ferguson police filled Twitter with invective about the police shootings being just in light of the death of Michael Brown. Meanwhile the Twitter handle for police supporters #bluelivesmatter was trending.

TV station’s school ‘test’ story was worth doing, despite lockdown

By WALTER JAEHNIG / In late February, NBC’s “Today” show hired two teenage-looking actors (both aged 21 or older) and sent them to a liquor store in New Jersey. The actors loitered outside, asking customers entering the store to buy beer for them. All male customers refused, but several women took their money and purchased their six-packs. This was not a huge story and probably proved nothing. It did, however, stimulate discussion about the adult role in underaged drinking, especially when the “Today” staffers interviewed the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving about the implication that women were more willing than men to provide teens with alcohol. Television newspeople love this kind of story – and, because of their visual dimension, can do it very well. But news stories that involve reporters as active participants in making the news also raise ethical questions, as can be seen by the controversy resulting from KSDK’s investigation of security at five St. Louis-area schools.

TV station’s reputation takes hit in aftermath of school safety ‘test’ story

By TRIPP FROHLICHSTEIN / This is the story of a good idea gone bad. It is the story of a series of mistakes made by a television station. And it is the story of lessons learned by a school district. On Jan. 16, KSDK Channel 5 (the NBC affiliate in St. Louis) was investigating security at five different schools in the area. One of those schools was Kirkwood High School. The station’s undercover effort would result in a lockdown at the high school, angering students, staff and parents and ultimately forcing an apology from the station. The details of this story are pieced together from interviews and previous accounts; Channel 5 officials, when asked for an interview, said the station had no further comment.

St. Louis acts to address wrongful arrests

The St. Louis Police Department has instituted a new mobile fingerprint identification system in its North, South and Central Area Stations, as well as at the St. Louis City Justice Center, to help avoid wrongful arrests, according to Chief Sam Dotson. The new fingerprint technology was put into the stations after a series in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year maintaining that about 100 people had been arrested mistakenly over a seven-year period, serving a total of 2,000 days in jail.

Guild leader says Lee Enterprises’ workers deserved bonuses

The head of the union that represents reporters and other workers at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says employees of Lee Enterprises – rather than its chief executives – deserved bonuses. In March, Lee Enterprises refinanced $800 million of its debt relating to its 2005 purchase of Pulitzer Inc., owner of the Post-Dispatch, extending the time in which its loans must be repaid. Employees at Lee’s 46 newspapers shouldered a major share of that loan repayment through layoffs, furloughs and buyouts, frozen wages, elimination of some benefits and higher costs for others.