Category: BirminghamWatch

Crenshaw Named Communicator of Achievement, Received Awards for 7 Stories

BirminghamWatch contributor Solomon Crenshaw Jr. has been named Communicator of Achievement of Alabama Media Professionals.

That distinction puts Crenshaw in the running for the national Communicator of the Achievement of the National Federation of Press Women, the parent organization of AMP.

Additionally, seven of Crenshaw’s works from 2021 were recognized in AMP’s communications contest. Read more.

D.C. Dinner of Journos, Pols and Celebs Was Black Tie and a Black Eye

The news media that cover the White House have a really great plan for combating the common public perception that they are elitist and out of touch with the rest of the world.

They hosted a black-tie dinner in Washington to schmooze and hobnob with government leaders and politicians. Really.

The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner returned Saturday night after a two-year absence because of the pandemic. The gala event featuring Beltway journalists, leading political figures and celebrities presents such a terrible picture.

The message to media consumers (and haters) says this: The D.C. press and politicians are quite cozy, actually, and what we see 364 days a year is just a game they play to fulfill prescribed roles and maintain access. It makes one wonder if the independent and sometimes adversarial relationship that’s needed to produce accountability journalism truly exists in untempered form. Read more.

Photos We Don’t Want to See, But Maybe Should

We spent part of Monday’s media ethics class talking about dead bodies.

The topic was prompted by some gut-wrenching social media photos of fatalities from Russia’s special operation to liberate Ukraine. (That’s how I’m referring to Vladimir Putin’s immoral invasion of a sovereign nation just in case Putin reads the Arenblog and decides to poison my Diet Coke.)

My very smart students nicely framed this longstanding dilemma of whether and when to publish such photos. Respect for the victims, compassion for victims’ families and the danger of exposing audience to upsetting images all dictate not to publish. But showing the truth of war – so that citizens of the world might insist their nations never engage in it – demands no withholding.
The New York Times picked its side of one such debate on Monday. Read more.

Public Figures Race to Court With Bogus Grievances (And They Know It)

Sarah Palin: I think I’ll file a libel lawsuit against a news organization that’s so legally flimsy that both the judge and jury will decide against me.

Kyle Rittenhouse: Hold my beer.

It’s becoming fashionable for individuals on the far right of the political spectrum who believe they are the unfair targets of the news media to engage in defamation litigation that’s purely grandstanding and harassment.

Palin, a former Republican vice presidential nominee, unsuccessfully sued The New York Times over an editorial that wrongly stated that a campaign advertisement by her political action committee had prompted a man to kill multiple people at a political rally in Arizona six years earlier.

Then Rittenhouse, the acquitted killer of two people at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020, announced this week on various media forums that he plans to sue selected celebrities and news organizations for their negative coverage of him, including labeling him as a “murderer.” He’s launching “The Media Accountability Project” to raise money for his efforts. This is so heroic that I have tears in my eyes. Read more.

Beijing Olympics: Media Can’t Ignore the Elephant in the Room

The pageantry and inspiring athletic accomplishments of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, will captivate many of us for the next two weeks.

It will be easy to forget that outside the TV cameras’ frame, the host country is abusing and killing some of its people.

Human rights groups around the world have called on countries, companies and media to boycott the Beijing Games in protest of an array of documented oppression by the Chinese government, primarily the forced detention and labor of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. These groups and the United States, which announced a boycott by diplomats, say China is committing genocide.

But a little genocide isn’t enough to keep corporate sponsors and NBC away when China is such a huge potential economic market and the Olympics are a TV ratings magnet. Read more.

Not Falling for Phony News Takes a Lot of Darn Work

In light of the rampant spread of false information these days, the recent National News Literacy Week seems humorously futile. What’s next? Courteous Driving Week? Brussels Sprouts Appreciation Week?

News literacy, sometimes called media literacy, means that audiences, not just news organizations and platforms, carry responsibility for stopping distribution of misinformation and disinformation that arise from social media and substandard professional news outlets. (Misinformation means unintentional wrong information; disinformation means wrong information created or shared intentionally to cause mischief, advance a political agenda or make money.) This audience obligation entails evaluating the credibility of statements before choosing to believe them and share them. Read more.

The Famous Case of the Free Press and the Atomic Bomb

A New York state judge’s order last month prohibiting The New York Times from publishing memos written by a lawyer for the political spying organization Project Veritas blatantly violates the First Amendment. But not every court case seeking to dictate press publishing decisions is as laughably wrong as this one.

Take, for instance, the case in which publication might have meant the end of mankind. True story.

In 1979, The Progressive, a politically liberal magazine based in Wisconsin that still exists today, planned to publish an article detailing how a hydrogen bomb works. The U.S. government went to court to try to prevent publication. It’s a notable case in the legal history of prior restraint. Read more.