Extra! September 2012

    SoundBites

    Not Prone to Violence--Unless You Count Domestic Violence A New York Times piece by Lizette Alvarez (7/13/12) starts: "A wide-ranging investigation of George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, found a man not prone to violence or prejudice and who moved easily between racial and ethnic groups--a 'decent guy,'  'a good human being.'" Four paragraphs later, we get more detail on this "man not prone to violence": During an argument with his ex-fiancee...he slapped her in the mouth because she was chewing gum. As the two were breaking up, they pushed each other ...


    In Memoriam:

    FAIR recently lost two of its mentors. On July 21 came the unexpected death of radical journalist Alexander Cockburn, who was one of two or three writers to whom FAIR most owes its existence. Cockburn inspired a revival of hard-hitting political media criticism in the Village Voice’s Press Clips column, which he launched in 1973; he moved his assault on the Fourth Estate to the Nation in 1983. Part of his appeal was simply how well he wrote: He had a voice that was effortlessly stylish, boundlessly informed, savagely funny and unapologetically left. He once recalled C.L. Sulzberger (New York ...


    Media Not Concerned About the Very Poor

    "All this talk today about poverty got us wondering just how many people in America live below the poverty line,” anchor Scott Pelley announced on the CBS Evening News (2/1/12). By “all this talk,” Pelley was referring to less than 200 words, in a report CBS had just aired on GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s missteps, that discussed Romney’s remark that he wasn’t “concerned about the very poor.” Though the brief story was actually about the political horse race, it apparently struck Pelley as an unusual amount of focus on poverty. And, sadly, he was right. Poverty as an issue is ...


    Missing Latino Voices

    Since 1990, the Latino population in the United States has more than doubled to 16 percent, but English-language U.S. news media outlets are simply not keeping up. While people of color and women have always been underrepresented in U.S. media, Latinos consistently stand out—in the coverage as well as inside the newsroom—for their exceptionally paltry numbers relative to their population size. In coverage In Extra!’s recent study of the opinion pages of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal (4/12), Latinos were granted less than half a percent of the op-ed bylines over the two-month study period—writing ...


    'You Have a Picture; See How Complex It Is?'

    Maria Hinojosa, the founding host of public radio’s Latino USA, was the first Latina reporter at NPR, the first Latina correspondent on CNN, the first Latina to anchor PBS’s Frontline, and, in the 1980s, the first Latina to host a primetime TV talkshow, New York Hotline. With the September debut of America by the Numbers from her new production company, Futuro Media Group, Hinojosa will be the first Latina to executive produce and anchor a public affairs program on PBS. FAIR’s Janine Jackson interviewed her on July 23. Extra!: In these “first Latina” situations, did you see pushing for diversity ...


    Latinos in New Media

    For many Latinos, the growth of new media offered hope for both expanded representation and democratization in the truest sense of the word. It was not enough for this growing demographic in the United States to be written about and reported on. Latinos, who defy simplistic labels and check boxes, wanted to represent themselves and their experiences, something they were not getting to do prior to the boom of blogs. This is no small matter among one of the fastest growing demographics in the United States, 52 million and rising (U.S. Census, 5/12). For Latinos, both the formally trained journalists ...


    Misrepresenting the Latino Education Crisis

    During recent campaigning, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have appealed to the Latino community by acknowledging the “Latino education crisis.” Romney told the conservative Latino Coalition that the poor track record of schools serving students of color is “the civil rights issue of our era” (New York Times, 5/24/12). He identified teacher unions as the obstacles to reform (Washington Post, 5/23/12): “The teachers’ unions don’t fight for our children.” His prescription included a federal school voucher program and the expansion of non-union charter schools. Obama has also linked educational reform to civil rights themes (New York Times, ...


    Arizona Schools Whitewash History

    Orwell observed in his dystopian masterpiece 1984 that "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." As America’s demographic landscape continues to undergo a significant shift toward a more multicultural—and multicolored—reality, political forces representing the past are doing their utmost to superimpose that past onto the future by “disappearing” inconvenient facts of history. In January, the school board in Arizona’s Tucson Unified School District shut down that city’s Ethnic Studies/Mexican American Studies curriculum, with the state’s school superintendent, John Huppenthal, declaring that it violated a recent Arizona state law that prohibits courses placing “ethnic ...


    Radicals, Terrorists and Traffickers--Oh My

    In May, a New York Times story (5/6/12) discussed plans to militarize the U.S. presence in Latin America. For some, this might sound redundant, given U.S. history in the region. Others might be struck by the notion that a nation embroiled in two major wars--and threatening to start another--could find the resources to escalate efforts south of its border. The article, which focused on U.S. efforts to strengthen its anti-drug campaign in Honduras, provided a glimpse of the evolution of the U.S. military's role in the world as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down. That role, the Times ...