1. It’s Thursday, January 25, 2018.
2. I love Roz Chost’s cover for this week’s New Yorker, which pretty much expresses how I feel about the month of January.
3. You can’t say the Indianapolis Star is the pinnacle of courage in the U.S. gymnastics scandal.
That’s because that designation belongs to the more than 150 young women who went into a courtroom and relived their nightmare so that the former team doctor could be sent to rot in prison for up to 175 years.
The folks at the Star, who interviewed those women for a series of stories on the abuse, would agree.
In a video interview with the Poynter journalism site, Star reporter Marisa Kwiatkowski said the paper’s reaction to the sentencing was “appreciation for the women who trusted us to share their stories and who came forward and spoke about their experiences.”
Still, it requires more than a little wherewithal for a local paper to pursue a story this big. It takes time, it takes money and it takes commitment to the belief that what you’ve got is so important that it’s worth the time and money to tell.
So there’s lots of praise for the Star – even the Michigan prosecutor acknowledged that in her courtroom statement.
And for my former profession, the one I’m trying to prepare college students to enter, there is a lesson.
For the past few years, news organizations have focused on social engagement and being able to pick up on what’s trending out there. They have allowed that to color their news judgment – I was looking at job postings for editors and all of them mention the ability to assign stories based on the size of popularity bubbles on a screen.
That might be how an organization catches up. It’s not how it gets ahead.
Getting ahead means acting on tips about things that might or might not pan out. Getting ahead means looking into stories that are only on the radar of the people living – in this case, suffering – them.
The Indianapolis Star was out there by itself since the middle of 2016 on this horrific story of abuse among athletes. The reporters and their editors ran into obstacles from organizations and even a major university. And even though what they were reporting might not have cracked Twitter’s trending list or that box of stories at the top of Facebook, they kept going.
And now, other news organizations are trying to catch up with the Star. They’re inflating the big social media bubble.
That is journalism.
4. There’s no denying that there was a little bit of grandstanding in Bernie Sanders’ Internet town hall Tuesday night.
Sanders was promoting his idea of a single-payer health care plan, aka Medicare for All. The meeting wasn’t aired on a broadcast or cable network – instead, it was streamed to what I imagine would mostly be supporters of the idea.
I support the idea. But whether you do or not, here’s a point that Sanders and the opponents of such a plan should share.
Health care reform is an important issue and discussion of it is essential. It affects everyone and warrants serious consideration.
Cable news, at the same time of Sanders’ discussion, was focused like a laser beam on the sideshow. The Trump scandals. Fox News’ hellbent effort to discredit the evidence of the Trump scandals. What Trump tweeted today, dissected like the speeches of Cicero.
I’m not minimizing Trump’s hypocracy and the distinct possibility that he broke the law before and after getting his current job.
But the real scandal is what’s happening to our country because of what he’s doing. And the fact that serious attention to the problems of this country is not being paid by the executive branch of the American government.
Health care is a serious problem – and the only solution Trump and his tame Republicans have is to end Obamacare because of the Obama part of it. It’s not based on the concept that problems should be solved. It’s based solely on undoing what your opponent’s done to solve them.
That and making sure your donors get repaid.
This applies to everything else. Immigration, infrastructure, the environment, energy and so on.
Yesterday, we talked about how some senators want more bipartisanship. Talking about serious stuff in a serious way – as Sanders tried to do – is how that starts.