The Point of Limiting Donations Isn’t to Make Elections Cheaper or Less Irritating

Money as speech

The point of contribution limits isn’t to make elections cheaper; it’s to limit the ability of the very wealthy to dominate politics.


AP Ditches ‘Illegal’ Label

"No One Is Illegal" banner (cc photo: Vertigogen)

The Associated Press announced a change in their style guide: The wire service will no longer refer to “illegal immigrants,” except in direct quotes. The change is a victory for activists who have called for years for journalists to stop using the term.


Objectivity and Its Opposite, ‘Objectivity’

Whigs vs. Tories

One of the most confusing terms in the media discussion is “objectivity.” In philosophy, it refers to a belief in a reality independent of the conscious mind, generally one that can more or less be known and meaningfully discussed. In journalism, on the other hand, it means “don’t scare away any potential customers.” “Objective” journalism emerged as newspapers realized that they were alienating potential readers by positioning themselves as a paper that saw the world through the lens of a particular party. Why be a Whig paper or a Tory paper, in other words, when you could be an independent […]


Was Houla Massacre a Manufactured Atrocity?

It’s been widely reported that on May 25, pro-Syrian forces massacred 108 civilians in the Syrian village of Houla, including 34 women and 49 children, many of whose throats were cut. The reported atrocity has sparked the latest round of appeals for intervention in the conflict in Syria. Syrian diplomats have been expelled from several countries over the massacre, including by U.S., Britain, France, Australia and Canada;  “Syrian Diplomats Expelled Across World as Outrage Over Houla Massacre Grows,” the British Guardian (5/29/12) declared. “Who Will Stop the Massacres?” asked the headline on a May 29 Washington Post editorial.  As the editors […]


Fox Sports Acknowledges That Lying to Viewers Is ‘Misleading’

Fox Sports, covering a football game between the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons (9/11/11), put up a bunch of headlines about Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s knee problems: Cutler Leaves With Injury Cutler Lacks Courage Cutler’s No Leader “These are the actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago,” announcer Daryl Johnston declared. Wow, were the local papers really that harsh? Reporters from the Chicago Tribune remembered the press being pretty supportive of the injured player, actually, and accordingly suspected funny business. After their search of papers all over Illinois turned up no such headlines, Fox Sports admitted they had just […]


‘Ask Amy’ Says Ask Your Rapist If He Raped You

Amanda Hess, a blogger for Washington City Paper, wrote a sharp deconstruction (11/30/09) of Chicago Tribune advice columnist Amy “Ask Amy” Dickinson’s victim-blaming response (11/27/09) to a woman who wanted to know whether she was a victim of rape: Were you a victim? Yes. First, you were a victim of your own awful judgment. Hess points out Dickinson’s disparate treatment of victim and perpetrator: You donâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t say whether the guy was also drunk. If so, his judgment was also impaired. Or as Hess translates: “Your judgment was ‘awful’; your rapist’s judgment was merely ‘impaired.’” The most stunning part of the […]