About Walter Brasch

Columnist, author, journalism professor. Latest book is BEFORE THE FIRST SNOW: STORIES FROM THE REVOLUTION, a look at the couterculture from 1964, as seen through the eyes of a "flower child" who is now middle-aged--and of the reporter who covered her story. The book is available through Amazon.com . . . Check out website, www.walterbrasch.com for further info. Or, just write me: walterbrasch@gmail.com

The Fracking Crisis: A Manufacturer’s Perspective

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is by Mark Lichty, a business owner and film producer.] I am asking business owners and executives  in Pennsylvania to join me in petitioning Gov. Wolf to put a moratorium on fracking. Until I became involved with the film, Groundswell Rising, I had no issue with fracking.  Ads told me it was safe.  The hypnotizing blue flame and minimal emissions,  convinced me to accept the platitudes of the industry.  Only when I began the research did I understand that there were dire environmental and health consequences. The Pennsylvania  Supreme Court came to the same conclusion when  the chief justice  stated, “Fracking is detrimental to the health and the environment.” The Secretary of Health in New York … Continue reading

The Republicans’ Rhetoric of Hate and Fear

    by Walter Brasch   Fear, laced with paranoia, is driving the American response against allowing Syrian refugees into the United States. President Obama has said he would accept 10,000 refugees, all of them subjected to intense scrutiny before being admitted to the country. France, with a population about one-fifth that of the United States, despite the worst attack on its soil since World War II, will accept 30,000 refugees. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told the Senate, “We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS because some politician doesn’t like their religion.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), a Jew, said the nation should “not allow ourselves to be divided and succumb to Islamophobia,” and … Continue reading

’Twixt the Cobwebs of Halloween and the Lights of Christmas

  by Rosemary and Walter Brasch   At one time, people placed carved pumpkins with a candle inside on their front porches to announce the beginning of the Halloween season. And then it became a contest. First, best Halloween pumpkin. And then who could decorate their trees and hedges with the best fake cobwebs, followed by fake witches in trees. Next came Pumpkin’ Chunkin’, where teams make catapults and launch pumpkins. The beneficiaries of all this, of course, are the candy companies—which have steadily decreased the number of miniature candies and increased the price of them in giant bags—the card industry that began marketing their products not long after Labor Day, and just about every company that has figured out … Continue reading

Snuggling Up to Celebrities Not Part of Journalism Training

  by Walter Brasch   One of the basic tenets of journalism ethics and practices is that reporters must keep their distance from news sources. They’re allowed to be friendly. They’re even allowed to share a meal with a news source. But, they must be independent. It’s a “Caesar’s wife” thing—they must be above suspicion. This past week, Lara Spencer, co-anchor of ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America,” snuggled up to Donald Trump. In a photo posted to Instagram, she is seen with her left arm around Trump’s shoulder, her right hand across his stomach. Both are looking at each other and smiling. Spencer posted the following message to the photo: “Can’t beat having the REAL DonaldJTrump on.” She added the emoticon … Continue reading

These Judges Don’t Put Defendants into Prison

  By Walter Brasch   HARRISBURG, Pa.—By Tuesday’s election, the seven candidates for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will have spent about $10 million. Their expenditures can be seen in lawn signs decorating almost every part of the state’s landscape, in millions of full color postcards, some as large as 8-1/2 x 11, mailed to almost every voter in the state, and in TV ads. They have already spent about $4 million for TV ads, many promoting each one’s own qualifications, most of the ads attacking the other candidates. There are three vacancies on the Court because two of the justices had to resign over scandals. One justice used her staff to do personal work for her. One justice was implicated … Continue reading

The 24/7 Election and Media Carousel

by Walter Brasch   The national news media—and their sidekicks, the cackling pundits—had been asking the same questions the past six months. “Will he? Won’t he? Should he? Shouldn’t he? Can he? Can’t he?” The “he” is Joe Biden. The vice-president said numerous times he was still thinking about running for president, but hadn’t made up his mind. The Biden question kept the media busy speculating about an issue that even Mr. Biden couldn’t answer, nor should he have been forced to make a commitment in the media’s time frame. This past week, he decided not to run for the presidency. Although Biden explained his reasons, the media can now spend a few weeks asking the question, “But what if … Continue reading

‘Paging Dr. Doctivity’: Medicine Evolves Into a Business Model

      by Walter Brasch   Beneath a three-column headline in my local newspaper was a barely-edited press release. That’s not unusual. With the downsizing of newsrooms, there’s more room for wire service soft features and press releases. But this one caught my attention. SystemCare Health in New Jersey promoted a graduate of a college in my town to the lofty position of Senior Director of Doctivity. I checked the dictionary—“Doctivity” didn’t exist. I checked WebMD, the website for amateurs to learn the meaning of unpronounceable medical terms—and how to recognize their symptoms and treatments. Nothing there. That left SystemCare Health’s website, which spewed a barrage of buzzwords and useless gibberish, the kind that people in marketing and business … Continue reading

Questionable Calls in the Sports Department

  by Walter Brasch   With the opening of the high school football season, local newspapers and TV stations have again been running lists of what they believe are the top teams. Most lists rank teams in the “top 10.” One Pennsylvania TV station, whose on-air number is 16, runs the “Top 16.” There are several problems with these lists. First, we don’t know how they got those rankings. We don’t know who makes up those lists or what criteria were used. It could be a sports editor and her grandfather. It could be a bunch of station personnel sitting at a bar, throwing back vodka slammers and team names. Even if we know how the lists are compiled, a … Continue reading