Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lost in the Bedroom

This post has nothing to do with journalism.   It's about my mom.   She is living in a wonderful assisted living center, the Gables of KentRidge.

Mom with her 91st Birthday Cake

Yesterday she said, "I woke up last night and had no idea where I was."

This is a woman who completed high school at 16 and graduated from Iowa State University at 19.   At 91, she wakes up and doesn't know where she is.    She often doesn't remember what happened ten minutes ago.   As she says, "I know my mind doesn't work."

Life.  So brief.  Watching mom's mind go reminds me how important it is to recognize and appreciate the magnificence of existence.   As my dad always said, "life is short."

Maybe it's age, maybe it's recognizing the magnificence of existence.   Whatever it is, it is truly special to experience the joy of new life with baby Eve, now a month old.  

                                                      Daughter Kate & Eve McFall


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Superb Classroom Journalism Assignment

Have your class read this piece from the Cleveland Plain Dealer that contains facts about trade and immigration between the United States and Mexico.

What the candidates aren't telling Ohioans about the state's huge economic stake in Mexico: Peter Schechter (Opinion) 

Then ask your students to check their local newspaper and/or television websites for articles on Trump, Mexico, trade and immigration.   Did your local reporters check and report facts?  

If not, call and request an interview with the managing editor/executive producer and ask why.   A primary responsibility of the journalist is to provide context.   To do that, fact-checking is essential.   How many articles do you remember about Trump and his WALL where reporters put that idea into context with the real numbers about immigration?
This Plain Dealer article comes not from a reporter but from Peter Schecter who directs the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center of the Atlantic Council.   With Trump wanting to build a wall and continually complaining about all those flooding across the border, Schecter writes:  "In the real world, more Mexicans are leaving rather than entering the United States, a well-documented, though curiously disregarded statistic. Those Mexicans who do come northward are ever more frequently doing so as tourists; in 2014, 17 million Mexican tourists spent nearly $19 billion on goods and services in the United States."

Why haven't reporters been reporting that fact in every article where Trump rails against all those pesky folks coming across the Mexican border?

What does trade look like JUST for OHIO?  Schecter reports:  "Ohio exported $6.5 billion of goods to Mexico in 2015, an 8 percent increase from 2014. Mexico is Ohio's second largest foreign trading partner, the destination for more than $1 billion of Ohio-made machinery, the state's leading foreign export."

Why have so many reporters forgotten how to check facts essential for placing a politician's comments into proper context?

Had reporters done their jobs, Trump wouldn't be the nominee.   He is the nominee for one primary reason:  journalism failed.   When journalism fails, bad things happen.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

When Numbers Don't Make Sense!

When numbers don't make sense, there's usually a story.

This is an essential story for every student journalist to go after on her/his campus and to hold the university accountable.

Here's a number that is not believable, one that cannot possibly be true:  Ninety one percent of colleges/universities report no sexual assaults.    Now it is true that 91% report no sexual assaults; that's because colleges are failing to report assaults on their campus.

Here's one powerful sentence in the HuffingtonPost piece every university administrator should print and post on his/her office wall:  "The reports that there were no incidents of sexual assault on 9-in-10 campuses “directly conflict” with a swath of peer-reviewed research that show around 1-in-5 female students will experience sexual assault by the time they graduate college." 

Here are some easy but important questions for student journalists to ask the college president at colleges reporting no sexual assaults:

1.  Do you believe that number is accurate?

2.  Why are no sexual assaults being reported on this campus?

3.  How long have you been aware of that number?

4.  When you saw a number that you know can't possibly be accurate, what action did you take?

It's time to hold universities accountable.  And when the university president refuses to do an on-camera interview, report it, post it, share it.  Then call your state's governor for comment.   What's the governor think of universities failing to report sexual assaults?   When your governor refuses to do an interview, report it, post it, share it.