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items tagged with Journalism

The Forest for the Trees: Lessons from Newspaper Coverage of the Benton Mackenzie Trial and Rock Island County Government
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: News/Features

Category: Media

2014-08-07 11:40:41

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.


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Davenport’s Planned News Site: A Bold, Unworkable Idea, Repackaged PR, or ... ?
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Guest Commentaries

2014-08-06 15:47:40

How would the City of Davenport have covered the recent vetoes by Mayor Bill Gluba of the Dock development plan and the St. Ambrose University rezoning request for a new stadium? And how would it have covered Gluba’s proposal to bring illegal immigrants to Davenport, which was – to put it mildly – poorly received by the city council?

These were the questions that came to mind with the revelation by the Quad-City Times’ Barb Ickes (on the same day as the vetoes) that the Fiscal Year 2015 city budget includes $178,000 for what she described as “a news-based Web site ... [to] shine new light on positive and negative city happenings.”

It’s clear that the site is an attempt to, at least in part, bypass the traditional news media and speak directly to constituents about good things city government is doing and positive developments in Davenport – without that pesky “other side” of the story. And, given our local television stations’ tendency to air unsourced and vaguely sourced stories, one might infer that another motivation is giving those broadcast news operations easily adaptable material that would warmly present Davenport.

But this idea was also pitched by city staff quoted in the article as “bold” and a “deep dive,” words that suggest ambition beyond marketing. As Davenport Business Development Manager (and former daily-newspaper reporter) Tory Brecht said: “As far as we can tell, no U.S. city has embarked on this effort.”

The news site is supposed to be launched in the next few months, and of course it’s impossible to pass judgment on it without actually seeing the thing.

Yet the twin aims of the initiative seem fundamentally incompatible, and it’s hard to envision how the nobler of these goals can be accomplished given the inherent lack of independence in a city-run “news” operation.

And that’s why I return to the Dock, the St. Ambrose stadium, and the Gluba immigration proposal. These were the city’s big stories last month, and one can’t envision a Davenport news site ignoring them while retaining its credibility. But I can’t for the life of me figure out how it would have covered them.


Read More About Davenport’S Planned News Site: A Bold, Unworkable Idea, Repackaged PR, Or ... ?...


Ted Rall: A Look Ahead at the Looks Back
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2014-07-03 04:06:15



Ted Rall: Boy Dreams ...
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2014-06-04 11:45:59



Ted Rall: Journalism 2014
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2014-02-23 03:20:11






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