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The Forest for the Trees: Lessons from Newspaper Coverage of the Benton Mackenzie Trial and Rock Island County Government PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Media
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 05:40

The July 9 Rock Island Argus/Moline Dispatch article announcing a verdict for Benton Mackenzie on drug charges began like this: “Even as the 12 jurors shuffled into the courtroom to announce their verdict, Benton Mackenzie could already sense his fate. Guilty.”

As storytelling journalism quickly establishing a mood and then getting to the point, it’s pretty good.

Yet with the basic facts of the case never in dispute, the verdict had long been almost a foregone conclusion because of a pre-trial ruling in May – which the Illinois-based newspapers mentioned in trial coverage but didn’t actually cover. Judge Henry Latham ruled that Mackenzie couldn’t claim he grew marijuana out of medical necessity to treat his cancer.

The Quad-City Times, on the other hand, did cover that ruling, and did a decent job explaining the precedent behind it.

But the Benton Mackenzie coverage from both entities, while voluminous, overlooked or ignored frameworks in which daily events could be understood, processed, and put into a more-meaningful context. The story is ultimately not just about one man with terminal cancer facing a criminal trial. Nor does it merely illuminate the general issue of medical marijuana.

Rather, it’s a heart-wrenching, complicated example of something larger: how the justice system deals with an area of rapidly changing law – one that is itself chasing a swift change in public attitudes following decades of calcified prohibition policy.

 
A Prescription for Local Television News: What Ails Our Newscasts, and Some Suggestions to Fix Them PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Media
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 06 February 2014 09:09

(Listen to Jeff Ignatius discuss this article on WVIK’s “Midwest Week” here.)

I come to praise local television news, not to bury it.

Okay, there won’t be much praise, and there will be some burying. But I bastardize and invert the famous line from Julius Caesar for a reason: My goal isn’t to criticize and mock the newscasts of the four Quad Cities television stations; I want instead to help make them better.

But before one can prescribe, one needs to diagnose what ails the patient. And before diagnosis, one needs to establish the basic state of health.

 
Censored: The Top Under-Reported News from the Past Year PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Media
Written by Project Censored   
Thursday, 11 October 2012 05:22

Read about additional censored stories in Kathleen McCarthy’s editorial here.

Each year, Project Censored compiles a list of important news stories that go unreported, under-reported, or misreported by mainstream news outlets. These top-25 “censored” stories from the past year follow, and collectively they paint a much different picture of the world from what you’ll find in daily newspapers and news broadcasts.

As Andy Lee Roth and Mickey Huff write in their introduction to the forthcoming Censored 2013: Dispatches From the Media Revolution – The Top 25 Censored Stories & Media Analysis of 2011-12, Project Censored “holds to account the corporate media who, all too often it seems, would rather be let alone than bothered when it comes to real, important news; and it celebrates the efforts of independent journalists who in 2011-2012 brought forward crucial news stories to stir us from complacency.”

Censored 2013: Dispatches From the Media Revolution will be released October 30. In addition to the stories below, it includes expanded discussions of them in the context of five thematic “clusters”; a section exploring “narratives of power”; and international “censored” stories.

For more information on the book and Project Censored, visit ProjectCensored.org.

 
Media Manipulation and Ron Paul PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Media
Written by Todd McGreevy   
Thursday, 08 December 2011 06:01

(Editor's note: This is one of three articles on Ron Paul in the December 8 issue of the River Cities’ Reader. The package also includes Kathleen McCarthy’s “Ron Paul Personifies Iowa GOP Party Platform” editorial and Dave Trotter’s “Electability: Ron Paul Soundly Defeats Obama for These 11 Reasons” cover story.)

Voters memories’ are getting shorter and shorter, emboldening the mainstream media (MSM) to utterly fabricate information in order to manipulate public opinion regarding Ron Paul’s popularity and electability.

At the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference – an annual multi-day event of speakers presented as quintessential conservatives (Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Donald Trump all spoke at this year’s convention held in February in Washington, D.C.) – Fox News edited the footage it broadcast by inserting booing during the announcement that Ron Paul had won the straw poll (for second year in a row), when in reality he was getting loud cheers. Fox was called out quickly by direct observers and had to issue an apology, stating, “It was clearly a mistake; we used the wrong videotape.” Said Fox’s Bill Hemmer, “It’s an honest mistake. We apologize for the error. We look forward to having representative Paul back on our program very soon.” (RCReader.com/y/media1) How is deliberately altering footage, replacing fact with fiction, an “honest mistake”? What possible explanation could there be for altering any news footage in the first place? It begs the question: How much of this “editing” is going on in other parts of the news?

 
The Top Censored Stories of 2012 PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Media
Written by Project Censored   
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 05:40

Project Censored annually publishes its list of the year’s top “censored” stories. “We define modern censorship as the subtle yet constant and sophisticated manipulation of reality in our mass-media outlets,” its Web site states. “On a daily basis, censorship refers to the intentional non-inclusion of a news story – or piece of a news story – based on anything other than a desire to tell the truth. Such manipulation can take the form of political pressure (from government officials and powerful individuals), economic pressure (from advertisers and funders), and legal pressure (the threat of lawsuits from deep-pocket individuals, corporations, and institutions).”

Put differently, these 25 stories represent the most important news that Project Censored felt was under-reported over the past year.

Censored 2012: Sourcebook for the Media Revolution, by Mickey Huff and Project Censored with an introduction by Dr. Peter Phillips, is available (along with more detailed media analysis and sources for these summaries) at ProjectCensored.org. The book is published by Seven Stories Press.

(1) More U.S. Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat

In 2010, for the second year in a row, more U.S. soldiers killed themselves (468) than died in combat (462). “If you ... know the one thing that causes people to commit suicide, please let us know,” General Peter Chiarelli told the Army Times, “because we don’t know.” Suicide is a tragic but predictable human reaction to being asked to kill – and watch your friends be killed.

 
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