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ONE MOTHER'S PERSPECTIVE

  • WHO WE ARE-Women did it again. The annual Memorial Day tradition of placing flowers on graves of fallen soldiers was begun by women in the South after the Civil War. Who knew? Who now remembers that it was originally Decoration Day? Or that it is a day to decorate the graves of soldiers who fought for a better future. Memorial Day is a great deal…
  • 453 Days Later...

    Tom Rubin
    OFFENSIVE BUT PROTECTED SPEECH-Welcome news this week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. By a vote of 11 to 1, the court overturned its injunction against the controversial video called "Innocence of Muslims" that it had ordered off YouTube back in February 2014. Here's the background. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia (photo below) was…
  • What LA Educators Should Learn From Bell Gardens High School’s Shocking Turnaround

    Jay Mathews
    VOICES FROM THE SQUARE-Bell Gardens High School in east Los Angeles County was a sorry mess when science teacher Liz Lowe arrived in 1989. It was overflowing with trailer classrooms and graffiti. More than 3,000 students crowded into school buildings surrounding a concrete quadrangle with patches of grass and some trees. Expectations were low. Not…
  • The Clean Sweep Election Finally Happened

    Bob Gelfand
    GELFAND’S WORLD- A few years ago, a group calling itself Clean Sweep argued that the voters of Los Angeles should defeat all the incumbents and replace them with fresh blood. On Tuesday, the results came close. There are two distinct lessons, one of which is quite ominous for elected officials. This election demonstrated the end of voter patience…
  • What Did Tuesday’s LAUSD Election Results Prove?

    Paul Hatfield
    PERSPECTIVE-Did the LAUSD election results signal a change for charter schools? Perhaps. Possibly. Maybe. You can make a decent case that Ref Rodriguez’s victory in District 5 points to strong support for charters. It was a battle between two well-funded candidates with diametrically opposed views on the issue. The effectiveness and fairness of…
  • (Train)ing Ourselves to Confront Modern Mass Transit

    Ken Alpern
    GETTING THERE FROM HERE-It's great to learn that Metro has an excellent new CEO with the hiring of Phillip A. Washington who comes to us from Denver. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Roger Snoble and Art Leahy, Mr. Washington has a first-rate reputation to maintain--but his first job will be to pass Measure R-2. Measure R-2 (perhaps…
  • City Controller’s Grandstanding DWP Audit is the Real Waste of Ratepayer Dollars

    Dennis Zine
    JUST THE FACTS-City Controller Ron Galperin’s Grandstanding DWP Audit results were finally released. Unfortunately, the conclusion and political spin that came afterwards from the controller was misleading. Here are the FACTS: The DWP’s Joint Training Institute and Joint Safety Institute are administered by DWP managers and representatives of the…
  • A Place Where ‘Special Interest’ is NOT a Dirty Word

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-We need to have a new word to differentiate the villainous “Special Interest” that everyone is always complaining about and the “Special Interest” that almost all of politicians and civic and social activists have adopted as a cause. It is impossible to have passion about multiple issues. I know I have mentioned this before, but it seems…
  • Alert! America’s Small Businesses are Being Screwed by Big Business

    Robert Reich
    THE ECONOMY-Can it be that America’s small businesses are finally waking up to the fact they’re being screwed by big businesses? For years, small-business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses have lined up behind big businesses lobbies. (Photo: small businesses in Studio City) They’ve contributed to the same Republican…

 

  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Exercise Can Help Anxiety … Here’s How

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time…




Memorial Day 2015- Freedom Isn’t Free

J. Cole raps on the Letterman show: “Be Free’

The Star Spangled Banner … like you’ve never heard it before

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Inside Media: The This Just In Nonsense

POLITICS - When I was a daily news reporter, politicians, campaign managers, public officials and others would occasionally ask me whether they could review their quotes or even read my story before publication.

I refused with two exceptions. One was if I was writing about a complicated subject beyond my knowledge, such as pollution or medicine. Then, I would read back only the portion of the story dealing with the scientific issue. The second was if I was using handwritten notes and had not recorded the speech or interview. If something was unclear to me, I would call back for clarification. That seemed fair.

Doing more would amount to pre-publication censorship. So I was surprised to read Jeremy Peters’ story in The New York Times on Monday, which said that reporters from some of the nation’s biggest media organizations regularly agree to such censorship.

He revealed how politicians and their advisers “are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations.” Such approval is now routine in the White House and President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago. Those interviewing Gov. Mitt Romney’s five sons must submit their quotes to the press office for approval. “And,” Peters wrote, “Romney advisors almost always require that reporters ask them for the green light on anything from a conversation that they would like to include in an article.”

He said organizations such as The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair and Reuters have agreed to these restrictions.

Submitting to such censorship is another sign of how the Internet and cable TV news have changed the business of reporting on politics, as well as other areas such as sports and business.

There is a great hunger for trivial news and the reporters must feed it. In political campaigns, the reporters compete intensely for stories with so-called inside information about tactics. What’s Obama going to say in Ohio? Is he going to apologize to Romney? When and where is Romney going to announce his vice presidential choice? Who’s up in the campaign hierarchy and who’s down?

In answering such questions, the campaign staff is more than likely to lie, obfuscate or use language that is bland and uninformative. And if the staff member is to be quoted, apparently, censorship is imposed.

When I was in the political campaign coverage business, I listened to such people patiently. I knew the campaign people were spinning me. Although I had good relations with most of them, I knew they weren’t sharing for the sake of friendship, but because I worked for the Los Angeles Times. I’d take what they told me as the beginning of reporting on a story. I’d need more information and on-the-record interviews before I wrote anything. If they wanted to talk off the record, that was OK with me.

But my colleagues and I didn’t like using anonymous quotes, nor were our editors happy if we did so.

And when we quoted people, we certainly didn’t run their quotes by them for pre-publication approval or revision.

I know things have changed. I could see that when I returned to the campaign trail for Truthdig in 2008 after a dozen years away. The reporters were under more pressure, having to produce daily stories as well as filing for websites. Since then, the need to provide material for Twitter has added to their work, as has the intensified competition to be first on the Web. News—or non-news—flashes through websites and cable networks minute by minute. If a reporter is first with a quote from an assistant campaign director—no matter how meaningless—the rest of the pack must match it. Bosses count the number of hits attained by reporters and stories.

This atmosphere has given the campaigns great power to reward and punish reporters. Presumably a journalist who refuses to submit to censorship will be deprived of even the crumbs doled out by the campaign crew. Reporters, by The New York Times account, have become prisoners of their sources.

Dean Baquet, The New York Times managing editor and one of my bosses when he was at the Los Angeles Times, told reporter Peters that “We don’t like the practice. We encourage our reporters to push back. Unfortunately, the practice is becoming increasingly common and maybe we should push back harder.”

Oddly, reporters seem to have forgotten there are plenty of sources of information. Policy websites, expert opinions and sophisticated statistical analyses abound on the Internet. As for interviews, there are many knowledgeable people in any given area who don’t mind being quoted.

When it comes to censorship by some political hack, all a reporter has to do is just say no.

(Bill Boyarsky is a journalist and blogs at truthdig.com where this column first appeared. Visit truthdig.org for other prominent writers like Robert Scheer, Amy Goodman and Chris Hedges.)
–cw








CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 58
Pub: July 20, 2012


 

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