David Swartzlander

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Category: News (page 1 of 5)

Reporter arrested for – believe it or not – asking questions

In West Virginia, it must be illegal for reporters to question authority, especially federal authorities.

A West Virginia reporter was arrested for trying to get an answer from Health and Human Services Director Tom Price about whether domestic violence was considered a pre-existing condition under the Republican-backed health-care bill.

Or, as his lawyer puts it, he was arrested “for talking too loud.”

We can differentiate between news and opinion, right?

Can you tell the difference between news and opinion?

Fox News’s Sean Hannity says Americans are intelligent enough to know the difference.

Longtime broadcast newsman Ted Koppel disagrees and told Hannity he was bad for America. 

Are you able to tell the difference between news and opinion? Are Americans intelligent enough to know the difference? Should the Fairness Doctrine return?



To get access, reporters must publish good Trump news

The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan has started a new feature, Access Watch, to keep track of what reporters receive access to the Trump administration – and whether it was because they reported “good” news about President Trump or his administration.

That’s fine, and something that should be done.

But the best reporters aren’t writing “good” stories of the president to get access. They are working behind the scenes, with governmental and non-governmental sources, to find out what is going on in that administration. That’s what great reporters do.

What is a legit news outlet?

As this Washington Post report shows, it can be difficult to determine what a legitimate news outlet is. More advocacy groups are forming news teams in an effort to spread their conservative or liberal biases and get access to the powerful.

But that creates a problem for readers and viewers of news. When the independence of the source of the news is questionable, the journalism also will be questionable. To succeed as journalism, as opposed to propaganda, three factors must be present:

Verification – that is, the news organization prints information it verifies as accurate.

Independence from the control or influence of interested parties.

Accountability, or taking responsibility.

In the case highlighted in the linked story, the news outlet in question appears to lack the independence needed to provide a reliable report.

This hasn’t been much of an issue with previous administrations, but the Trump administration has allowed new news outlets into the inner sanctum of the Washington press corps. On its surface, there is nothing wrong with that, but when news outlets come from organizations that are controlled by an advocacy group or are influenced by interested parties, citizens then receive news from a press pool reporter who may throw softball questions rather than ask the tough, critical questions to which Americans need answers.

In other words, give me the mainstream (even lame stream) media over the extremes of the false alt right or far left liberal media. Those advocacy media tell you what you should think rather than lay out the facts so that readers and viewers can think for themselves.

Should media boycott the White House?

Perhaps the better question than the one posed in the headline is why the Washington press corps continues to quote governmental “officials” anonymously rather than make those people have the courage of their convictions?

These questions were debated between a Washington Post media blogger and a New York University journalism professor in an email thread published by the Post today. 

No one likes anonymous sources, especially news organizations. And the president. Yet presidential administrations for years have allowed “on background” briefings, in which government officials can be questioned and their answers used, but not attributed to them.

Why do reporters allow that? Usually, news organizations grant anonymity to those who lack power – in other words, those people who may lose their jobs or even face danger by revealing important information.

But in the case of the Washington “on background” briefings, the people in power are being granted anonymity, for no real purpose other than, perhaps, to safeguard a reporter’s access to a government official. That’s not a good enough reason.


Unreliable source

MSNBC’s Morning Joe has barred Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway from appearing on the program because she has become an unreliable source. CNN previously banned Conway, at least for one day, because of similar concerns about the veracity of her statements.

You may recall that Conway coined the phrase “alternative facts” and referred in one interview to the “Bowling Green massacre,” a fake event. She also recently said that Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, had the full confidence of the president hours before he was fired.

Should other news organizations follow the lede of CNN and Morning Joe? At what point does a source’s information become so tainted that you stop using her as a source? And where, at what level in the administration, does such a ban stop? If the president of the United States continues to make false comments, for example, do you stop covering him?

We’re living in a topsy-turvy world in which belief has become truth and facts seem to have little or no meaning to a significant minority – if not majority – of this country. What does that mean for the future of democracy and our society?

Silence isn’t golden

Despite presidential adviser Steve Bannon’s wish that the press “just shut up,” silence simply isn’t in the cards. That would mean newspapers printed with no front-page stories, TV news programs airing with no one in the anchor chairs, static on radio stations and only Viagra ads on news web sites.

Keeping their mouths shut is not what the press does. In fact, more than ever, it’s time to discuss the issues and policies of the new administration to determine whether, as a society, we want to continue in the direction of President Trump or decide to oppose. Remember, assembly and freedom to petition for a redress of grievances are two freedoms just as important in the First Amendment as freedom of religion, speech and the press.

Now more than ever, as E.J. Dionne Jr. writes in the Washington Post, it’s time to speak out.

A strong free press is vital, now more than ever

A strong, independent free press is the bedrock of democracy. When authoritarian leaders assume control, often the first action taken is to limit the free press. Knowing that government officials often lie, do you want to get all of your information from the government? Knowing that the script of a 30-minute TV news show fits on P. 1 of the New York Times, do you think you get the news you need solely from television? Democracy is interactive. You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to get involved. Here’s a start, read. Read this column. Continue reading. Learn. Educate yourself. A fight for a free press is a fight for democracy.

Two Nebraska papers seeking reporters

The Grand Island Independent and the Washington County Pilot-Tribune & Enterprise in Nebraska are seeking reporters.

The Independent is looking for a government reporter to cover Hall County and Grand Island city government.

Grand Island is a growing community of 50,000 and the surrounding Central Nebraska area boasts a population close to 100,000.

The full-time job involves working days, but might include weekend and night work. A degree in journalism is preferred, but candidates with practical experience and strong writing skills will be considered.

The Grand Island Independent is part of BH Media (Berkshire Hathaway) and offers a competitive hourly wage and comprehensive benefit package. The Independent is an award-winning newspaper, with a strong website and social media presence.

Please send a resume and clips to Jim Faddis, Managing Editor, The Grand Island Independent, P.O. Box 1208, Grand Island, NE 68802 or e-mail them to jim.faddis@theindependent.com.

The Pilot-Tribune and Enterprise, located in Blair, Neb., near Omaha, is seeking a motivated storyteller for its progressive newsroom. The news company is offering competitive pay and benefits.

The paper is owned by Enterprise Publishing, a family-owned organization that owns 12 community newspapers in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

Send a resume and PDF clips/portfolio link to Katie Rohman, editor@enterprisepub.com.

Win cash at NPA’s convention

College students can win $300 in live, on-site writing and photography competitions at the Nebraska Press Association convention in Kearney April 22.
Nebraska colleges and universities can select up to 10 students to qualify for each competition. Participants are given identical assignments. On deadline, students must gather information and write an award-winning story or shoot and edit photographs to win.
Winners will receive $300 and plaques to be awarded at a luncheon on April 23.
Participating students should check in with the NPA convention registration desk to receive the room assignments for the contests. Students should report to the assigned room no later than 1:30 p.m. April 22. Students need to bring a laptop computer with a USB port and reporting notebooks, etc. for the writing competition; a laptop computer, camera, photo card and photo card reader for the photography competition.
Participating students will receive free registration, free access to sessions and the Saturday lunch for the discounted price of $5.

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