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

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

The Boss Who Fought for the Working Class

  by Walter Brasch   He was born into poverty in New Hampshire in 1811. His father was a struggling farmer. His mother did most of the other chores. He was a brilliant student, but the family often moved, looking for a better life—a couple of times so the father could avoid being put into debtor’s prison. At the age of 15, he dropped out of school and became a printer’s apprentice, sending much of his wages to help his family. For several years, he worked as an apprentice and then as a printer, his hands covered by ink, his body ingesting the chemicals of that ink. He worked hard, saved money, helped others achieve their political dreams, became the … Continue reading

Perceptions of Reality— And a Failure of a Grand Jury to Indict

  by Walter Brasch   She quietly walked into the classroom and stood there, just inside the door, against a wall. The professor, his back to her, continued his lecture, unaware of her presence until his students’ eyes began focusing upon her rather than him. “Yes?” he asked, turning to her. Just “Yes.” Nothing more. “You shouldn’t have done it,” she said peacefully. He was confused. So she said it again, this time a little louder, and began yelling. “Ma’am,” he began, but she cut him off. He tried to defuse the situation, but couldn’t reason with her. She pulled a gun from her purse, shot him, and then quickly left. He slumped to his lectern, but quickly recovered. It … Continue reading

Democratic Daily columnist wins awards

Walter Brasch, whose weekly column appears in the  Democratic Daily, recently won awards for both his column and his radio commentary. Brasch won first place in commentary (general) and second place in commentary (humor) from the Pennsylvania Press Club, against statewide competition. During the past decade, he has also won multiple awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, National Federation of Press Women, Society of Professional Journalists, Pennsylvania Press Club, and the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association. At the annual Pennsylvania Press Conference, held in State College, Pa., this past weekend, he won his second consecutive first place for commentary, presented by the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association. Dr. Brasch has been a journalist more than 40 years, specializing in … Continue reading

Tragedy in the 24/7 News Media

by Walter Brasch CNN is the 24/7 media trumpet for news about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that is presumed to have crashed in the Southern Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia. On that flight were 227 passengers and 12 crew members. CNN grabbed every iota of information, pumped it full of digital frequencies, and broadcast it to what it thought was a world salivating for every syllable of thought. When there was news, CNN broadcast it. When there was no news, CNN broadcast it. When there were outrageous theories, CNN was the source to find out who was saying what. When there was a rumor, CNN broadcast that, only to have to retract it hours later. Through chatter and repetition, CNN … Continue reading

The Boozy, but not Newsy, Mass Media

by Walter Brasch   The Big Story this past week was the Golden Globes awards. The Golden Globes, sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and broadcast by NBC, drew 21 million viewers for the three-hour ceremony, preceded by a one-hour Red Carpet gush-fest hosted by “Today” show personalities. There wasn’t one TV or film personality the hosts didn’t fawn over. Tamron Hall several times excitedly told the viewers that last year she watched the Golden Globes on TV, and now was so thrilled to be on the Red Carpet to interview fellow celebrities. Hosts praised the gowns of the women; the women returned the compliments to Hall and Savannah Guthrie. No one said anything about the spiffy tuxes that … Continue reading

Government Should Not Define What a Reporter is—or Isn’t

    by Walter Brasch Sen. Diane Feinstein and a horde of members of Congress of both parties want to decide who is and who isn’t a reporter. Sen. Feinstein says a “real” reporter is a “salaried agent of a media company.” She mentions the usual suspects—New York Times, ABC News. She dismisses part-time staff. She dismisses freelancers. She dismisses those who write, often without pay, for the hundreds of alternative publications, and often break news and investigative stories well ahead of the mainstream media. She dismisses anyone who, she says, “have no professional qualifications.” The reason she wants to define what a reporter is or isn’t is because there’s a federal Media Shield Law that protects reporters from revealing … Continue reading