Apr 01 2006

‘Our Media Refuse to Name This Reality’

Jonathan Kozol on resegregated education

Jonathan Kozol on resegregated educationCOUNTERSPIN INTERVIEW Jonathan Kozol is the author of many books about education, among them Amazing Grace and Savage Inequalities. In his new book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, Kozol draws a grim picture of U.S. public schools, particularly those in poor urban neighborhoods. He graphically reports on the decaying infrastructure, the underspending and overcrowding, the lack of art and music teachers and librarians —many of the things that are taken for granted in better-off public schools. The theme that seems to connect these troubling factors is race. We began […]

Apr 01 2006

Philly Papers Defend Non-Coverage of Mumia Victory

Late in the day on Monday, December 5, 2005, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia issued a surprise ruling in the appeal of Pennsylvania’s most famous prisoner: Philadelphia journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been on the state’s death row for 24 years, following his conviction for the murder of white Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in December 1981. The ruling stated that Abu-Jamal would be granted the right to appeal his conviction on not just one but three separate grounds. This came after a federal district judge, in 2001, had ruled against Abu-Jamal on all 20 of his […]

Apr 01 2006

‘Capote’ vs. Capote

History, Hollywood and the mainstream media

History, Hollywood and the mainstream mediaAbout a year ago, in anticipation of the 40th anniversary of the publication of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, his journalistic account of a murder and its aftermath that he called a “non-fiction novel,” I began to do some research on the book and its author. I read just about everything published on Capote’s life and work, talked to some of the participants in the saga of the Clutter family murder and even visited the Holcomb, Kansas area, the scene of the crime. Initially, I had no idea that not one but two motion pictures […]

Apr 01 2006

A Record of Journalism in Crisis

Out of the Buzzsaw, into the Fire

Out of the Buzzsaw, into the FireBOOK REVIEW Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11 By Kristina Borjesson Prometheus Books, 2005 Kristina Borjesson lost her producing job at CBS News as a consequence of her unsuccessful struggle to air a report about the 1996 explosion of TWA Flight 800. Many people, including scores of eyewitnesses, still believe that a missile—possibly fired by mistake by our own military—brought the plane down. Borjesson might have been able to confirm their belief, but the FBI seized a piece of the wreckage she intended to have tested for explosives. CBS had been very […]

Apr 01 2006

George Gerbner, 1919-2005

From anti-fascist fighter to cultural environmentalist

From anti-fascist fighter to cultural environmentalistGeorge Gerbner was born in Budapest in 1919 and fled to the United States to escape fascism in 1939, but he never lost his Hungarian accent. What he said about U.S. media culture often sounded as foreign as the way he said it. Gerbner spent his life in an adopted country saturated with graphic depictions of violence, a culture where the apex of expression often seemed to be focused through the crosshairs of a weapon. But he did not like media violence. I sat next to him at a dinner party while attending a conference […]

Apr 01 2006

Wrong on Iraq? Not Everyone

Four in the mainstream media who got it right

AP's Charles Hanley

Four in the mainstream media who got it rightWhen former UN chief weapons inspector David Kay told the Senate Armed Services Committee in January 2004, “We were all wrong,” he was admitting that officials had been wrong to claim Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The we-were-all-wrong trope entered the political lexicon as a mea culpa, but today the White House and its media defenders employ it as a defense of a war started over phantom weapons. We may have been wrong, they argue, but so were the Clinton administration, congressmembers of both parties and other Western intelligence agencies. As […]

Apr 01 2006

Good News! The Rich Get Richer

Lack of applause for falling wages is media mystery

Lack of applause for falling wages is media mysteryThe Bush administration made a concerted effort to trumpet a “booming” U.S. economy in early December, widely understood as an attempt to reverse what polls indicate to be the public’s largely negative views on the matter. There are, of course, obvious reasons the majority of Americans dissent from the White House’s rosy presentation of the economy: Most American households are not, in fact, seeing their economic fortunes improve. GDP is up, but virtually all the growth has gone into corporate profits and the incomes of the highest economic brackets. Wages and incomes […]

Apr 01 2006

Fear & Favor 2005 — The Sixth Annual Report

Outside (and inside) influence on the news

Outside (and inside) influence on the newsIn 1896, New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs laid out standards by which journalism is still judged today, declaring that his paper would “give the news, all the news . . . impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect or interest involved.” Unfortunately, mainstream media often fail to live up to that goal; demands from advertisers, government, media owners and other powerful people frequently manage to blur or breach the wall between the editorial and business ends of the newsroom. In survey after survey, journalists report that they feel outside—or inside—pressures to […]