Mar
28
2013

For NPR, Fracking Fight Is Between Farmers & Movie Stars

Dairy farmer (cc photo by Dennis Jarvis)

Who stands between the hard-working people of Upstate New York and money and jobs coming out of the ground? Why, it’s actor Mark Ruffalo.

Dec
04
2012

Think We Live in a Colorblind Era? Welcome to Wet Seal

Wet Seal logo

When pundits wax rhapsodic about the "colorblind" era we live in–or fulminate against affirmative action policies as interfering with that "post-racial" state–some of us think of cases like Wet Seal.

Oct
16
2012

Sympathy for Pakistani Girl Shows Limits of Concern

Malala Yousafzai

U.S. media have shown great, and warranted, interest in Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head October 9 by members of a Taliban faction for her outspoken promotion of education for women. The attack "has horrified people across the South Asian country and abroad," reports the Washington Post, and "has also sparked hope that the Pakistani government will respond by intensifying its fight against the Taliban and its allies." In recalling conversations with Yousafzai, the Christian Science Monitor's Owais Tohid noted her sources of inspiration: The first time I met Malala, a couple of years ago, I […]

May
15
2012

New Evidence of Stop-and-Frisk Abuses Prompts NYT to Call for More Evidence

 The New York Times editorially decried the New York City police department's stop-and-frisk practices ("Injustices of Stop and Frisk," 5/13/12), noting that the criterion of "furtive movements" most often used for stopping disproportionately black and brown people is "so vague as to be meaningless," that people of color are treated more violently than white people when stopped, and that the excuse that stop-and-frisk keeps guns off the street is not supported. The paper's conclusion: "The mounting evidence reveals a pattern of abusive policing that warrants the attention of the Justice Department, which should be using its broad authority to investigate […]

Oct
13
2011

Bait-and-Switch Boosterism on Trade Pacts

Corporate media's incredibly uncritical boosterism of so-called "free trade" deals has been remarked on many times, and continues to be remarkable. What else but blind faith would allow a story to carry a line like one in the October 12 New York Times, about textile industry opposition to the new deal with South Korea: "The production of shirts and sheets has shifted steadily from the United States to countries with lower-cost labor. Economists argue that this process strengthens the economy as companies and workers shift to more productive and lucrative kinds of work." Of course, if the Times has evidence […]

Oct
07
2011

You Can't Take Politics Out of the Public Broadcasting Debate

In the When Will They Learn? department, incoming National Public Radio president Gary Knell seems to suffer from the same misunderstanding that has plagued public broadcasting executives for years. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik reports that Knell says he hopes to "calm the waters a bit" at NPR after recent political controversies, and to "depoliticize" debate over the future of public radio. Knell is quoted saying, "It's not about liberal or conservative; it's about fairness…. We've got to make the case we're delivering a fair service." Sigh. It's as if he doesn't see the road behind him strewn with efforts […]

May
06
2011

Disability Rights Activists Are Even Invisible Getting Arrested on Capitol Hill

Elite media's selective disdain for public activism is well known. Still, you'd think some things would garner a word or two. Like 300 disability rights activists, a couple hundred in wheelchairs, occupying the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. The May 2 demonstration was organized by the rights group ADAPT to protest Republican budget plans for Medicaid. Ninety-one people were arrested and carted off by Capitol police. Yet days after the rotunda protest, and another action the next day in which 300 demonstrators gathered outside the Longworth House Office Building, many getting inside to Rep. Paul […]

Apr
28
2011

WashPost Touts KIPP's 'Extra Edge'–Which Turns Out to Be Money and Dropouts

Is the Washington Post hoping readers only read headlines? At a glance, "Study: KIPP Charter Schools Have Extra Edge" (3/31/11) would seem to be just another in the Washington Post Co.'s toutings of charter schools in general and KIPP schools in particular (Extra!, 9/10) Readers who actually click through though, might be surprised to learn what the "edge" consists of: A study by researchers at Western Michigan University found that the KIPP network "benefits from significant private funding and student attrition." Students receive more than $5,000 a year per pupil through private donations on top of regular sources of public […]

Nov
29
2010

For NYT, Okinawan Public Opinion a 'Wrench,' a 'Thorn' and a 'Headache'

Today's New York Times piece (11/29/10) on the re-election of a governor of Okinawa who opposes the U.S. military base there seems to treat the views of the People Who Live There as one thing to maybe think about, and an annoying, in-the-way thing at that, with residents' resistance described, variously, as a "wrench," a "thorn" and a "headache". (Overall, the piece reads a bit like the reaction of the Japanese national government to Hirokazu Nakaima's re-election as "one manifestation of public opinion." Yes, elections are that.) Majority local opposition to the base is noted second, after the Japanese prime […]

Jan
12
2010

'Considering' a Campaign More Newsworthy Than Conducting One?

The New York Times ran a front-page story (1/11/10) on the race for the Senate seat held by New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand that omits mention of the sole Democratic candidate running a serious campaign against her. Jonathan Tasini (who garnered 125,000 votes in a bid for the seat against Hillary Clinton in 2006) declared in June of last year. But while the paper of record has logged numerous stories on the race–including several, like todayâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s, focusing on people who are "thinking about" challenging Gillibrand (e.g., "Thompson Won't Rule Out Pursuing U.S. Senate Seat," 12/19/09)–they have so far completely ignored […]

Apr
24
2009

Neutral Coverage of Climate Change?

Andrew Revkin's April 24 piece, about how an energy industry group publicly denied links between emissions and global warming even as their own scientists confirmed such links, is pretty damning, if utterly unsurprising. This part leaps out: George Monbiot, a British environmental activist and writer, said that by promoting doubt, industry had taken advantage of news media norms requiring neutral coverage of issues, just as the tobacco industry once had. "They didn't have to win the argument to succeed," Mr. Monbiot said, "only to cause as much confusion as possible." Note that it isn't Monbiot who refers to media's "neutral […]

Jan
30
2009

The Crack Baby Myth: Now They Tell Us

A January 27 New York Times story, "The Epidemic That Wasn't," brought the news that researchers following children prenatally exposed to cocaine have found "the long-term effects of such exposure on children's brain development and behavior appear relatively small" and are "less severe than those of alcohol and are comparable to those of tobacco." Though the Times makes it sound like breaking news, the fact is many reputable people disbelieved the whole "crack baby" phenomenon from the beginning: Even Dr. Ira Chasnoff, whose 1985 study spurred much of the early coverage, was lamenting as long ago as 1992 that medical […]

Dec
19
2008

The 'War on Terror,' With and Without Scare Quotes

I was intrigued to see this in a New York Times editorial yesterday (12/18/08): The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the "war on terror"–the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions. I doesn't seem like the paper generally puts the concept of the "war on terror" at arm's length. Looking at the last few months, the most popular editorial construction seems to be something like this (11/16/08): Troops and equipment are so overtaxed by […]