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Why do journalists use “allegedly” when they report on obvious crimes captured on video?

Look at this picture. A guy in a uniform obviously has his hands around a kid’s neck. Why would Business Insider use the word “allegedly” to describe what seems like a pretty obvious assault? If you are Young Sesame Chicken, what makes the Business Insider post worth sharing is the contrast between the mealy-mouthed headline and the powerful image. Why don’t journalists just call it abuse? Why soften the report…

Thirteen seconds. Dozens of bullets. One explosive photo.

Forget for a moment that the picture is among the most famous in US history, or that the photographer—a 21-year-old Kent State journalism student named John Filo—risked his life to document the tragedy. Consider what the photo captures: Our own military occupied a public university and then opened fire on a crowd of unarmed citizens—students no less—killing four and wounding nine. One student was killed while walking to class. Filo’s…

CNN reports Biden’s dog was “involved in another biting incident”

CNN’s headline: “Bidens’ dog Major involved in another biting incident,” but the story quotes the first lady’s press secretary as saying, “Major nipped someone on a walk.”  So there doesn’t seem to be any need to obscure the identify of the biter. I find the uncritical use of “biting incident” a bit troubling. The phrase “officer-involved shooting” is popular with bad apple cops who wish to conceal their violent actions.…

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

For the record, if I should happen to be murdered by someone with a gun…

For the record, if I should happen to be murdered by someone with a gun, I grant all supporters of sensible gun control legislation full permission to politicize my death — as quickly as they like.   I reject any notion that the months, weeks, days, hours, and minutes after a violent firearm incident are “not the time for political debate.”   It’s everyone’s First Amendment right to criticize the…

Iowa Reporter Found Not Guilty By Jury After Arrest At Black Lives Matter Protest

Justice for a brave reporter arrested for doing her essential job, covering a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Thank goodness a fairly selected jury checked the actions of some bad-apple cops, including LEO Luke Wilson, who didn’t want to be observed while on the job. The founders of our nation understood that a healthy democracy requires a free press, not a corrupt police state that serves the interests of the powerful…

For years, I’ve tried to work my way back into the middle class

Well-meaning people tried to encourage me by pointing out how far I had come. “You’re working!” they said, “You’re housed!” And the declaration I found most diminishing: “I’m so proud of you!” I was 52 and I did not mark my progress by those measurements. Rather, I marked my progress by how far I had fallen. What did it mean that I was earning enough to rent a room in…