Reporter's Notebook

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Archive for November 2015

Thank You

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Written by Interviewer

November 27, 2015 at 03:02

Posted in Scratchpad

Don’t Forget the X Factor

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Female terrorist

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said Oregonians have a moral obligation to accept Syrian refugees despite reports that one of the Paris attackers had a Syrian passport.  According to NPR, this has led 23 governors to say they do not want any Syrian refugees and that the President should reconsider his policy of admitting up to ten-thousand refugees.

In a subsequent OPB story, emphasis was placed on the number of single, combat aged men, who assumedly are most capable of conducting such terrorist operations.  However, the story ignored the number of single, combat aged women.  Jayne Huckerby, an associate professor at Duke University law school who advises governments in counter-terrorism strategies told the Los Angeles Times that female terrorists have a long history of exploiting gender stereotypes to avoid detection, and through counter-terrorism measures, have become more effective.  She says women account for about 10% of those joining Islamic State from Europe and about 20% of those joining from France.

Female terrorist ranks include 57-year old grandmother Fatima Omar Mahmoud Al Majjar.  She attempted to kill two Israeli soldiers in 2007.  Also, Samantha Lewthwaite, the infamous “White Widow” for her involvement in a case in Kenya in 2011.  According to Philip Perry of Liberty Voice, female acts of terrorism have skyrocketed since the 1980s, taking place in such countries as Palestine, Iraq, Israel, Chechnya, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Sri Lanka. Half the suicide bombings in Turkey, Sri Lanka and Chechnya since 2002 have been perpetrated by women. In 2008 Iraqi female bombers had detonated themselves 21 times before the year was even halfway over.

The moral obligation of the United States to help people fleeing for their lives remains unchanged.  And as these stories are told, the media must continue to struggle to not profile.  But newsworthy statistics that are part of the equation should also be part of the story.

Women are equally deadly.

Photo by Hanna Kozlowska of the Chauthi Duniya newspaper

Written by Interviewer

November 18, 2015 at 06:31

Teaching to the Wrong Test

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Melissa Click

Two University of Missouri faculty members are apologizing to journalists they tried to bully off the campus’ Carnahan Quad yesterday.

Assistant Professor of Mass Media, Melissa Click (shown) and Director of Greek Life, Janna Basler tried to prevent at least two journalists from covering an event called “Concerened Students 1950”, a student and faculty group that says it seeks the liberation of black collegiate students.

According to CBS, the event was promoted by the school and journalists were invited to attend.  But two days before the event, reporters were told not to attend.  Video reporter Mark Schierbecker and photographer Tim Tai were forced off campus, but not before Schierbecker’s camera captured Click yelling to other students to provide some “muscle” to help eject them from the event. Religious Studies Department chairman Richard J “Chip” Callahan, who was standing behind students blocking the videographer said to Tai when he appealed for help, “Don’t talk to me.  It’s not my problem”.   The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Callahan and Click share a common address.

Schierbecker’s video has gone viral and has sparked an ironic debate over communications professors who censor with critics ranging from Jonathan Chait at the NY Times to Rod Dreher from the American Conservative condemning Click. CNN Money is reporting that Click has blocked access to her Twitter account while Basler has deleted her account.  She and Basler were also roundly criticized by other communications faculty for their behavior.

After the clash, Concerned Students 1950 tweeted an image of a flier upholding the First Amendment right of the media to be welcomed and showed their appreciation for the coverage.

Both Basler and Click have issued apologies.  Basler’s said, in part, “I regret how I handled the situation and am offering a public apology to the journalist involved.”  In Click’s statement, she said “I regret the language and strategies I used and sincerely apologize to the MU campus community and journalists at large for my behavior …”  Click has also resigned her courtesy appointment with the University’s School of Communications.  According to Linkedin, She has a B.A. in Business Administration from James Madison University and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The University clarified that Click is a professor of communications, not journalism.

But even that, it seems, is debatable.

To me, the worst part in all this is that something we thought could be depended on to bring us a good story; i.e. journalism, was attacked by the very people responsible for promoting it, while that thing that deserved to be highlighted, namely the continued injustices to blacks and other minorities, was sidelined by this ignorance and ridiculousness.  Even sadder is that students didn’t know they were helping do it to themselves.

Video image by Mark Schierbecker