Journalism: Where Do We Go From Here?

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​In recent days, as the Democratic field grows exponentially each day, we’ve seen a return to 2016 coverage by the media: Trump takes over every news cycle with new crazy, Bernie is in the lead, Buttigeig speaks eight languages, Elizabeth Warren’s unlikable, Kamala Harris is too hard, Amy Klobucher is too mean, ranch dressing, fried chicken, infer vs implied! Are the women ready? Too emotional? That’s almost sounds like a joke considering who we have in the Oval Office right now.

I saw a headline just this morning that Trump had a new nickname for Pete Buttigeig. How is that a headline for a news organization? Four reporters covered this story for the “news” organization! Have we learned nothing in the last two years?

Not to  mention that news anchors and pundits continue to drown us in whataboutism, false equivalency, and but both sides.

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Nellie Bly – Profile

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​Nellie Bly was an investigative journalist just before and during the turn of the century. Her birthday was yesterday, and she would have been one hundred fifty-five years old. She was born during the Civil War, and died in the Roaring 20s, after the First World War but before the Great Depression. Many people, I think, are surprised to learn that she was a real person, thinking that she is a figment of fiction alongside her fictional inspiration, Phileas Fogg, the character in Jules Verne‘s well known book, Around the World in 80 Days. Nellie Bly did her circumnavigation in 72 days, holding the record for only a short time before it was broken (also in 1890).

She was a pioneer in the field of investigative journalism, although much of her early writing focused on the lives of working women. She was a foreign correspondent in Mexico for the Pittsburgh Dispatch and after going to New York, she worked at The New York World, the publication owned and published by Joseph Pulitzer. She went undercover to expose the women’s lunatic asylum’s treatment of its patients located at Blackwell Island. They wouldn’t let her leave until the newspaper was able to get her out.

For her trip around the world, she left onboard the steamer, AugustaVictoria on November 14, 1889 with only two days notice, bringing only “the dress she was wearing, a sturdy overcoat, several changes of underwear, and a small travel bag carrying her toiletry essentials.” [Kroeger, Brooke (1994). Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist. Three Rivers Press.] In a bag tied around her neck (similar to today’s hidden security pouches), she carried most of her money. She made her trip primarily by steamer and rail. In Amiens, France, she met Jules Verne, the writer whose book inspired her journey.

She was the first woman to write from a war zone, sending her stories from the Eastern Front during World War I. She was mistaken for a spy and arrested.

She died at age 57 after a bout with pneumonia and is buried in The Bronx.

In recent times, since 1978, the New York Press Club gives out the Nellie Bly Cub Reporter Award, and in 2002 she as part of a postage stamp sheet commemorating Women in Journalism along with  Marguerite Higgins, Ida M. Tarbell, and Ethel L. Payne.

In her 2013 book, Examining Lois Lane: The Scoop on Superman’s Sweetheart, Nadine Farghaly stated that Nellie was one of a few women modeled as the basis for Lois Lane, created by writer, Jerry Siegel and artist, Joe Shuster.

You can read more about Nellie Bly here, and can also read her writings:

Around the World in 72 Days

Six Months in Mexico

Ten Days in a Mad-House

Look for related posts through the rest of the week.

Press Freedom Day

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Today is Press Freedom Day. Now more than ever, we need to protect our access to news and world events from a free and independent press. Here are some links that should definitely spend some time today reading:

World Press Freedom Day

Bipartisan Call to Protect Journalists
Why the Times is taking down its paywall (and at the end of the three days, think about subscribing)

Taking Stock on Press Freedom Day

Committee to Protect Journalists

Pope Francis’ Prayer for Countering ‘Fake News’

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This prayer is part of a message Pope Francis offered for World Communications Day in January of 2018. At the very least, it gives us something to think about when we’re offering our views with one another. Separating fact from fiction is essential is today’s media, and we must never forget that while a variety of opinions are valid, facts and truth are non-negotiable.

I would recommend following the link above and reading the Pope’s entire message.

Lord, make us intruments of your peace.

Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion.

Help us to remove the venom from our judgements.

Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.

You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:

Where there is shouting, let us practice listening;

Where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;

Where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;

Where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity;

Where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;

Where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions;

Where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust;

Where there is hostility, let us bring respect;

Where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.

Amen.

Profile – Connie Schultz

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​I discovered Connie Schultz several years ago. I know that it was on the MSNBC program, Morning Joe, and I know that I intentionally turned the show on, wanting to see her specifically. What I don’t remember is if I watched it thinking, oh, that’s Sherrod Brown’s wife, she’s a writer, let’s hear what she has to say…or if I saw her, and said, oh my gosh, I love her, her husband is Sherrod Brown, I need to check him out. Either way, I’ve fallen head over heels in writerly and senatorily love with both of them, together or apart, it doesn’t matter.

One (two) of my heroes.

There’s some recent talk about a White House run, and if that happens, I will follow them, support them, campaign for them all the way to said White House. And if not, I will count Senator Brown and Ms. Schultz as firmly in my corner even though other than President, I can’t vote for him; I live in New York. However, he speaks for all of us progressive Democrats, and to be honest, what’s good for his state, is good for all of our states. They both speak their minds, and they both speak truth to power. They call it like they see it, and they both do it with a down-to-earth, neighborly, we’ve known you forever way that’s honest. I can only hope that we haven’t forgotten the importance of honesty in this country.

They are for working people what Babe Ruth is for baseball.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize winning author (2005 for commentary), a commentator both in print and on television of politics, journalism, and life in general. She currently writes in syndication for Creator’s Syndicate after writing for the Cleveland Plains Dealer for eighteen years. She has published two non-fiction books and is currently writing her first novel.

She and Sherrod Brown have been married for almost fifteen years. She is a a mother of four and a grandmother of seven, and I think if she were actually reading this, and I left that last one out, she would be less than happy with me. They are a blended family, and when she shows pictures of their kids, I have no idea who belongs to who because they are all one family, which is just remarkable and somehow ordinary.

I recently read an article about her by Michael Kruse of Politico (2018) and I watcher her TEDx video from Cleveland State University (2016) that gave me two snippets that I relish as part of my own self and my own journey as a writer, a woman, and a mother, and ir was a clear reminder of why I respect and adore her so much.

How could I not be a liberal?” [Politico, Dec. 21, 2018, when talking about her working class roots, her route to college and single parenthood, unions, grants, health insurance.]

Every moment that I had lived before I got into that newsroom was job experience.” [TEDx, Dec. 14, 2016]

I love her style, her attitude, her kindness, but also her take no nonsense attitude. Say something incorrect or bullying and she will come after you, but not as a bully. She is a teacher (of journalism at Kent State University in her home state of Ohio) and of life and continues to inspire me and cause me to aspire to be her in all of the ways I can attempt (through her Facebook and Twitter). I also want to be able to wear a hat like she wears a hat. I love hats, but I can’t pull them off. She can.

She is everything.

She is also proud of her work (and her family’s) but modest of her accolades. This is but one article that I share with you, but there are others if you Google. However, for the real deal, follow her on either her Facebook or her Twitter. Or both.

What Was This Week?

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It’s been next to impossible to write about politics this week. I started to, a number of times, but they all ended with me tearing my hair out, and screaming into the void.

I began the day before Election Day in a flurry of anxiety and excitement for Tuesday, and then the Blue Wave hit. I started keeping tabs on races, and began an excited post that I planned on posting sometime late on Wednesday.

Then the President had his news conference, and he was quite nasty to some journalists, including Yamiche Alcindor, Jim Acosta, and Peter Alexander, not to mention April Ryan.

Then Jim Acosta had his credentials revoked.

Jeff Sessions, Matt Whittaker, Robert Mueller, Tucker Carlson’s lunacy, which I’ve just discovered doesn’t match up to the police report, but wait, there’s more.

Then the President attacked journalist, Abby Phillips.

Then he backed out of the Veteran’s Day visit to the American Cemetery in France during the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, the end of World War I.

Then he was two hours late to dinner with the other leaders.

I’ve been offline for most of today, and I have to say it’s been a blessing.

I need to catch up, but I think I’m waiting for tomorrow’s podcasts to catch me up. I especially like MSNBC’s Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace.

So, what I’ve decided to do is to write a short piece on my feelings on Jim Acosta’s credentials, a slightly longer one for Tuesday, the one week anniversary of the Blue Wave about the Blue Wave, and completely ignore the disgrace of the man in the White House as he manages to embarrass this country once again with his petty, selfish, unAmerican conduct.

In his place, many others have stepped into the open space, and added their messages of honor to the veterans, all of them, but especially those we remember from one hundred years ago as they defeated the enemy, and brought the world together in peace.

I’ll leave you with these words from Laurence Binyon‘s poem, For the Fallen, published 21 Sept 1914:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Cosplay – Candy – Creepy Crawlies

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Yesterday was Halloween, and for those of us with children this is second in planning and importance only to Christmas. I’ve always loved Halloween. I like getting dressed up, I like decorating, I like theme desserts and meals, and the specialness of the different time of the year.

I have been somewhat lazy in the last couple of years, and my daughter discovered my holiday boxes. She has taken it upon herself to drag them up from the basement, and make the house, inside and out, look magical and perfectly balanced for the holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas. And I hate to admit, because I was really good at it, but she is better. She’s faster, she’s creative, she thinks outside the box, and it’s just a beautiful display.

Outside lights and pumpkins, decorated for Halloween. (c)2018


This year, her costume was the the 13th Doctor as portrayed by Jodie Whittaker. There were some things that she wanted, and needed to buy, but there were others that I just refused – no to $20 yellow suspenders (“but I’ll wear them more than once,” and she probably would) and I said no to the $30 new sonic screwdriver, and she borrowed my boots that coincidentally are almost exactly the same at the Doctor’s. For the sonic screwdriver, she spent $2 on orange sparkly lights from Target and used aluminum foil and built herself a sonic screwdriver, pictured below.

Handmade/homemade Sonic Screwdriver (belonging to the 13th Doctor). (c)2018


The Doctor. (c)2018


My son grabbed his Flash t-shirt and ring, and went to school as Barry Allen, the Flash’s alter-ego. He has his own wonderful way of being creative and creating costumes and decorations from what he already has. I’m glad that they’re both so independent minded and creative.

Barry Allen (The Flash). (c)2018


(c)2018


My cosplay was a riff on the one I did in 2016. In 2016, I saw an everwidening chasm towards the vilification of journalists, and it concerned me. I’m a strong proponent of free speech and a free press. They are so important to our country, to our ideals, to our democracy. This Halloween I had intended to be a professor from the Harry Potter world, a Hufflepuff, of course. And then the President continued with the enemy of the people rhetoric, Gianforte is running for re-election (google Ben Jacobs, journalist), Bob Woodward published a very frightening look at the Trump White House (and he and Carl Bernstein are personal heroes of mine), and then The Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi walked into a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey, and never walkied out. He was murdered, assassinated, but not just that, the level of response from the White House and from the Republican side of Congress appalled me, so I thought it was important to take a stand, especially this week before Election Day.