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Whispers of the Past-Herb Morrison and the Hindenburg

In this short documentary, I voice Herb Morrison, the radio reporter famous for narrating the 1937 crash of the Hindenberg — 85 years ago this month. It was an honor to learn more about this man (born in nearby Scottdale, Pa.) and to interpret his words. Local history can be so fascinating! Herb Morrison, native of Scottdale, PA, witnessed the first air disaster in US history in 1937. While that is part of his life story, that’s not all Morrison did in his life. The story recounts his life and features his memories of the disaster.  

Top Russian News Site Calls Out Putin’s ‘Paranoiac’ War

Journalists at a Kremlin-controlled news website published at least a dozen anti-war articles today — a brave attempt to undermine the propaganda campaign attempting to justify Putin’s unprovoked and immoral acts of violence against the Ukrainian people. The articles were quickly taken down, but you can still read them on the Internet Archive. Internet Archive backup of Lenta.ru for May 9, 2022. One of Russia’s leading news websites, Lenta.ru, briefly posted materials critical of President Vladimir Putin and his government amid a crackdown by the state on independent journalism and media reports slamming Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. About a…

Nellie Bly statue to be unveiled at Pittsburgh airport Thursday

In 1889, Bly became famous for an-around-the-world journey she completed in a world-record 72 days, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds after her departure on a steamship from New York. The journey was inspired by Jules Verne’s widely read novel “Around the World in 80 Days.” Bly chronicled her travels in a series of articles for the New York World newspaper and ended up writing a book of her own, “Around the World in Seventy-Two Days,” published in 1890. She was born as Elizabeth Jane Cochran near present-day Burrell Township in Armstrong County in 1864. Source: Nellie Bly statue to be…

How a billionaires boys’ club came to dominate the public square

The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, attacked a publication owned by the world’s third-richest man, Jeff Bezos, last month for reprinting a column published by the world’s 13th-richest man, Mike Bloomberg. The Bloomberg opinion article, posted by The Washington Post, asked whether Musk’s recent investment in Twitter would endanger freedom of speech. “WaPo always good for a laugh,” Musk wrote in a tweet, with smiling and crying emoji. The jab underscored an unusual and consequential feature of the nation’s new digital public square: Technological change and the fortunes it created have given a vanishingly small club of massively wealthy individuals the ability…

Los Angeles sheriff appears to back down after signaling he was investigating reporter

Villanueva has repeatedly singled out LA Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian, who is just doing her job by covering his department. Tchekmedyian has published a series of stories about an incident in which a deputy kneeled on an inmate — including an article on Monday regarding an allegation that Villanueva was implicated in a cover-up. At Tuesday’s press conference, Villanueva displayed and pointed to a photo of Tchekmedyian, plus one of his political rivals and the sheriff’s inspector general. Arrows implied a connection between all three. Villanueva referred to video of the incident that Tchekmedyian had obtained as “stolen property.” And he…

The secret police: Cops built a shadowy surveillance machine in Minnesota after George Floyd’s murder

Many of the same people who reject masking and vaccinations on the grounds that they allegedly threaten the free will of the citizenry are perfectly OK with authoritarian police systems that harass and assault citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights to a free press and free speech. If you’re worried that vaccines are part of a deep state plan to surveil and suppress the populace, what until you read about what the Minneapolis police are still doing, long after the end of the protests that erupted over the actions of convicted murderer and former Minneapolis LEO Derek Chauvin.…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In April, 2002, I was blogging about an autistic person’s guide to asking a girl on a date; The Inform 6 Beginner’s Guide; broken links;

In April, 2002, I was blogging about Instructions for “Asking a Girl on a Date” (autistics.org) The Inform Beginner’s Guide (I edited this book on programming text adventure games in Inform 6) Broken Links: Just How Rapidly do Science Education Hyperlinks Go Extinct? (yes, the link was broken but I linked to the backup on the Internet Archive) Faking It: Sex, Lies and Women’s Magazines “Prenatal memory and learning” (language acquisition begins before birth) “Did I Miss Anything?” (poet’s creative response to a “question frequently asked by students after missing a class”) A Salon article mocking the New York Times…

How Russia’s Disinformation Apparatus Ran Aground in Ukraine

Skillful propagandists always leverage people’s pre-conceived notions to steer the conversation away from what is prejudicial to their side’s interests. The tactic works because it often deflects attention towards other injustices that are also real, making it easy to elicit a strong emotional response that blinds the audience to the underlying cynicism. Redfish, for example, was able to exploit genuine resentments over the real mistreatment of black people during the evacuation from Ukraine; or over the EU’s double standards in its treatment of Ukrainian refugees compared to refugees from elsewhere. Few took the time to consider, however, that black people…

Copspeak, “the past exonerative” tense, and punching Nazis

In the Constitution, any suspect is innocent until found guilty by a court, even suspects who kneel for eight minutes on the throat of an unarmed, handcuffed person who is caught on video pleading to breathe, passing out, and dying. If the court hasn’t (yet) ruled that a death is homicide, then it’s not accurate to describe the death as a “murder” or to describe a person who has just been arrested, but not formally charged yet, as a “killer.” Having said that, the “past exonerative voice” is a powerfully descriptive name for how the journalists who are trained to…

Journalists prefer in-person interviews. Emailing questions to strangers and expecting them to write out their answers is not journalism.

An interview means a real-time give-and take, not a list of questions you email. Most people worth interviewing are too busy to write out their answers to help you meet your deadline. If you can’t meet in person, ask if your source will do a videoconference, or even (if they’re the right generation) an old-fashioned phone call. (Gasp!)

The hidden billion-dollar cost of repeated police misconduct

The story notes that when police departments mention they are paying a cash settlement to a plaintiff who has made accusations of police misconduct, the departments typically don’t mention the name of officers involved. On the one hand, this makes sense, since the settlements are often made with no admission of misconduct, so the officers aren’t proven guilty. On the other hand, the missing names means it’s hard for the public to keep track of which officers are single-handedly responsible for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars worth of taxpayer money being handed over to plaintiffs who allege police…

How to spot video and photo fakes as Russia invades Ukraine – Poynter

In the first hours of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, internet watchdogs pored over images shared on Russian media that claimed Ukraine struck first and Russia merely responded. The Biden administration has been warning for weeks that, in the days and hours leading up to the invasion of Ukraine that arrived before dawn on Thursday, Russian sources would release “false flag” photos and videos to make it appear that the Ukrainian military attacked Russian forces unprovoked. To understand how these investigators do their work, you should first understand a few basics. Everything created on a digital device — whether it…

Minnesota authorities can’t arrest or threaten journalists after judge approves settlement arising from George Floyd protests

A federal judge brokers an agreement in which Minnesota police had to be told specifically that they can’t arrest, threaten, or assault journalists, or confiscate or damage their equipment. Even when protestors are ordered to disperse, journalists are permitted to document what happens next, as per their First Amendment rights. The settlement includes a payment of $825k to the ACLU, and additional training for any officers who might think they have a right to brutalize and intimidate journalists who are performing their constitutionally protected duties.  Note how the headline on FOX news uses “allegedly” and makes the liberal ACLU the…

In one small prairie town, two warring visions of America

Great writing and great photography in this story about a small Minnesota town where conservative Lutheran pastor Jason Wolter denies that COVID-19 vaccines work. “You’re lying to people,” he says, “You flat-out lie about things.” Wolter is speaking of Reed Anfinson, his next-door neighbor, who is the editor of the Swift County Monitor-News, “[a] contemplative man who casually quotes Voltaire, he loves newspapers deeply, and mourns the hundreds of small-town papers that have gone under in recent years.” “The easy part is speaking truth to power. The hard part is speaking truth to your community,” said Anfinson, whose wife is a…

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Media Bias Chart (Ad Fontes, v. 9)

Objective news reporting is an ideal. Wherever humans are involved, there will be bias. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with journalism that reports with a particular slant, but informed consumers of news who want to understand a complex issue aren’t served by one-sided media coverage that flatters and amplifies their world view. This chart sorts popular news sources on a left-right axis according to political slant, but also on a vertical axis, with fact-based original reporting at the top, a middle section that features expert commentary about the news and legitimate opinions on the news, and a bottom section for misleading…

Perspective | How NPR’s Steve Inskeep cracked the code for interviewing Trump

The role of mainstream journalists is significant, and, overall, their record has been far less than stellar. Too many, whether in a one-on-one interview or at larger sessions with a number of reporters, have failed to push back in a way that matters. Trump is such a facile talker — one who specializes in dazzling displays of distraction, ad hominem attacks and repetition — that challenging him effectively in real time can be almost impossible. Those journalistic failures have not served the public. As George Lakoff, a linguist and a proponent of the “truth sandwich,” told me in 2018: “Trump needs the…

Fact Check: No, an NPR story on the Trump supporters’ attempted coup dated January 6, 2021 9:33 AM ET is not a sign of a conspiracy theory

A conspiracy theory featuring a news story that NPR posted early on Jan 6 2021 and then updated after the pro-Trump demonstration turned into an anti-democracy riot was shared widely last year. My meme explaining the concepts of time-stamps and updating a breaking news story didn’t get shared nearly as much. People who already believe journalists regularly lie to make Trump look bad will share viral memes that confirm that belief. They aren’t eager to share “Whoops, sorry I misread that. False alarm!” Source: Fact Check: No, an NPR story on the Trump supporters’ attempted coup dated January 6, 2021…