Sunday, February 3, 2019

No Sports Reporters on Super Bowl Sunday

Is it hard to write while holding pom poms?   Why are there virtually no sports reporters in America's newsrooms and just so many cheerleaders?

The New York Times did a great piece the other day on opioid addiction retired NFL players suffer.  There's a great quote from the NFL Commissioner.

“We obviously put this as a huge priority for us, making sure that we are taking care of our current players as well as our former players,” 

What a crock.   If the NFL were actually concerned about an athlete's health, the league wouldn't exist.   Football causes brain damage.   That's well documented.  

But today as fans around the country drink and get blitzed as they watch a game that causes brain damage and leads to drug addiction, there's a question anyone who actually cares about an athlete's health should ask:  where are the sports reporters?

Back when I was a kid, you could page through a magazine and find an ad featuring a doctor telling you what cigarette to smoke.   Doctors preferred Camels, the brand that gave lung cancer to Chuck Connors, the Rifleman.

Along came medical science.  Reporters reported.   The public was informed.  Behavior changed.   With concussions, medical science came along again.   This time, most reporters didn't report.   It took a movie starring Will Smith to inform the public.

On Super Bowl Sunday, there are basic questions sports reporters should be asking Division 1` university presidents.

1.  Why do you continue to support and promote a sport medical science has documented causes  brain damage?

2.  Why does the football team give more full scholarships than any of your academic colleges?

(This clip is from a student project of several years ago, but the numbers are a worthwhile reminder of the priorities at Division 1 universities.   Keep in mind, at universities like those in the MAC, those athletic scholarships are funded by the fees changed to the academic students)

3.  Why does the university give a full scholarship to an athlete who cannot read past grade-school level?

4. Why does every football coach get a free car?

And every newsroom, particularly local TV newsrooms in America should ask:  when are our sports reporters going to put down their pom poms and do some reporting?  When will someone in our newsroom finally do an accountability interview with a university president?  

When journalism fails, it's easy to understand why we continue to support a sport that causes brain damage and leads to drug addiction.  When journalism fails, bad things happen.  


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

How Local TV News Can End the Shutdown

How can local TV news end the shutdown?   There would never have been a shutdown if local TV reporters had done their job.   Their job is simple:  hold THEIR members of Congress accountable.   Ask them questions.   

1.  Experts agree a wall across the entire border is a waste of tax money, so what's your position?   And on what evidence do you base your position?

2.  It is well documented that many of things Donald Trump says about the wall are not true.  Why don't you object to the President lying?

If local reporters held their members of Congress accountable, we wouldn't have such a dysfunctional Congress.  Now, the member is able to say nothing, to be silent, and is able to refuse comment with immunity because the member isn't held accountable locally.  In my computer-assisted reporting class a couple years ago, each student was assigned a member of the Ohio Congressional delegation, and had to get the member's position on climate change.  You can see what they said on the Congressional Climate Change Reporting Project.

No surprise, most members would not even respond.   They know there's no penalty with local voters. 

There's one question after another local TV reporters SHOULD be asking their members of Congress on issue after issue.  Why don't they?   Please, write to the GM's of your local TV stations and ask them to go on the evening newscast and explain.

If members of Congress were held accountable by local reporters so voters could see and hear what they say, there would have been no shutdown.   The members would have been forced into answering questions and to provide facts that support their positions.  Unfortunately, the corporate owners of local TV stations don't care about the country or democracy.   If they did, their local newsroom reporters would be questioning their members of Congress on issue after issue on a regular basis.   Thanks to technology, it's not even expensive.   Thanks to videoSkype and Facetime, the reporter in any local newsroom can do an on-camera interview with the member in her/his Washington office.   

Please, demand accountability from your local TV stations.   It's not the fault of the reporters they're not questioning their members of Congress.   There is only one requirement for a newsroom to hold members of Congress and the state legislature accountable on important issues:  a commitment from management.   Local TV stations make millions from political advertising.   They spend virtually nothing covering their members of Congress or the legislature. 

Why do you think it was so easy for legislatures in state after state to pass laws to restrict voting?   The answer:  zero oversight by local TV stations.   One the finest journalists in the country, Charles Lewis (former 60 Minutes producer, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, director of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University) describes the problem.   

  When journalism fails, bad things happen.   

KI Note:  I haven't been writing here for quite some time.  I dedicated last year to taking care of my wonderful wife Kathy who died in the arms of her children with her son holding her from one side and her daughter holding her from the other and me on the phone asking for a Hospice nurse as Kath lost her battle to cancer last September.   Hospice people are the most wonderful people.  Thank you Hospice. 

Kathy & Karl Idsvoog