Holding power to account with questions and the written word

Apr 05, 2017

We could start with any number of hot-button stories today, but let’s kick it off here: “Well here's an awesome story about badass high school journos,” tweets Eric Levenson. In fact, this story has everything: bogus credentials, fake news accusations and a shining example of what a persistent team of investigative reporters can uncover, giving us, as Joel Brown tweets, “One little dollop of optimism atop the dumpster fire that is our public life today.” As reported by Mará Rose and Mara Williams in The Kansas City Star, six high school journalists at Pittsburg High School in southeastern Kansas investigated a new principal’s credentials, and what they uncovered led to her resignation (12,000+ shares). Nolan McCaskill calls it, “High school students holding power to account with questions and the written word.” “Don't ever underestimate teenagers. Or journalism,” Rachel Abbey McCafferty advises, adding, “Hope some of these students join the industry as adults.”

“The world’s independent eyes and ears”

Also giving us hope for the future of journalism, Margaret Sullivan reports in the Washington Post that a philanthropy established by Iranian-American eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is giving $100 million to support investigative journalism and fight misinformation and hate speech. Putting it into perspective, Tom Fairless tweets, “This would fund the Guardian for at least 12 months…” Says Nicholas Thompson, “Wow. Investigative reporting continues to be best source of job growth under Trump.” Many were tweeting this quote in the piece from Gerard Ryle, director of the ICIJ: “It is more important than ever that journalists can remain the world’s independent eyes and ears.”

The importance of Sesame Street

Meanwhile, “Does funding public media make America safer? Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal thinks so,” says Joshua Johnson, linking to Stanley McChrystal's new opinion piece in The New York Times, Save PBS. It Makes Us Safer. “Well worth reading: one of modern history's greatest leaders, @stanmcchrystal, on importance of, ahem, Sesame Street,” says Jake Cohen. And John Ferrugia notes, “The general understands what millions of parents, kids & other viewers know.”

This is crazy, but also...no it's just crazy

How about “a fun and surprising story from @Bernstein on an alt-right Twitter bot overlord”? Mat Honan is referring to Meet The Guy Whose Bot Army Makes Trump Stuff Trend On Twitter, Joseph Bernstein's BuzzFeed piece, which Bernstein calls “The first ever interview with MicroChip, the elusive bot king behind the viral Trump internet.” Asks Max Seddon, “Is the nefarious Russian pro-Trump bot network actually... a guy in Utah?” Tasneem Nashrulla's assessment: “this is crazy, but also...no it's just crazy.” Bernstein later tweeted that in the hours after "Nevermind The Russians, Meet The Bot King Who Helps Trump Win Twitter” was published, Twitter suspended MicroChip. But, says Bernstein, “Something tells me he’ll be back!”

Blame game

“On Syria: White House blames Obama. Marco Rubio blames Trump,” says Latika Bourke, referring to Rubio’s interview on AM Tampa Bay and linking to the report by Andrew Kaczynski for CNN’s KFILE, Rubio: It's no coincidence that Syria gas attack happened after 'concerning' Tillerson comments.

As for Trump’s blaming Obama for what's happened in Syria, Linda Qiu at The New York Times does some fact-checking and finds he contradicts himself (14,000+shares). As Qiu writes, “Mr. Trump has repeatedly advocated doing ‘nothing’ in Syria, insisting it is not America’s ‘problem.’”

CNN’s Kaczynski also takes a look back at some earlier Trump statements—this time on North Korea—and finds no contradictions there. In light of comments by a senior White House official that "all options" are on the table to curb the country’s nuclear weapons programs,”We mined Trump's statements on North Korea going back to 1999,” Kaczynski tweets. “He's always been a hawk.” In 2000, for example, Trump said he would bomb North Korea's nuclear reactors. “Typically great digging here,” says Olivier Knox.

You best cite ya stuff

“What the hell do these ppl have against quote marks and attribution?!” asks Charles Blow, in response to reporting by John Bresnahan and Burgess Everett in POLITICO that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's writings borrow from other authors, and Chris Geidner’s piece in BuzzFeed, A Short Section In Neil Gorsuch's 2006 Book Appears To Be Copied From A Law Review Article. But, tweets Andrew Kaczynski, “Seems sort of weak? This is what 300 words in a 137K word book.” Here’s Dan Friedman’s take: “Timing on Gorsuch plagiarism reports suggest source who wants to hurt GOP more than Gorsuch.” Still, as Tim Fernholz points out, “Plagiarism is more important when your only job is to think and write things.” If you’re not sure, Julia Frakes offers this: “You best protect ya neck You best cite ya stuff.”

Did he tho?

Danielle Mattoon asks, “Could @realDonaldTrump and CNN's Jeff Zucker be where they are w/out each other?” and refers you to the “Great deep dive” by Jonathan Mahler in The New York Times, CNN Had a Problem. Donald Trump Solved It. “Did he tho?” asks Benjamin Domenech. Mark Meredith calls it a “Fascinating profile piece of CNN's Jeff Zucker,” and Rav Vadgama tweets “This is a brilliant read.”

Advertisers revolt

Meanwhile, the Sexual Harassment Storm Against O’Reilly and Fox Intensifies, report Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt in The New York Times (35,000 shares). Steel and Schmidt write that, in addition to the “major advertising revolt” from companies pulling their ads from “The O’Reilly Factor,” the National Organization for Women is now calling for O’Reilly’s termination and an independent investigation into the culture at Fox News. Drew Harwell notes, “Not just advertisers watching O'Reilly case closely. Other women are, too - with their own stories of harassment.” Says Lynn Parramore, “Glad to see O’Reilly called out, but there’s PLENTY of sexual harassment in progressive media. Am I right ladies?” And Kate Sommers-Dawes tweets, “So O'Reilly advertisers are unmoved by 2 sexual harassment claims but 5 is a bridge too far.”

You know what else is good?

Advertisers revolt, part 2? Anna Silman's piece for New York Magazine, Kendall Jenner Re-creates Iconic Protest Image to Sell Pepsi, shows us “How not to do an ad, as Jessica Shortall puts it. What the ad is saying is “Resist, but first pepsi,” explains Elizabeth Plank. “I now fully understand what people mean when they tweet ‘i want to die,’” says Ann-Marie Alcantara.

For more on what Claire Suddath calls “an excellent ad for Coke,” there’s this: “Cryptic, politically vacuous Pepsi ad gets Zapruder treatment,” tweets Jesse Katz. He’s talking about the “second-by-second breakdown of Kendall Jenner’s unspeakably tone-deaf Pepsi ad,” as Elahe Izadi tweets of her new piece in the Washington Post. “Did you want to experience that Pepsi ad without having to actually watch that Pepsi ad?” asks Jessica Stahl. Well, “@elaheizadi's got you.” Says Sharon Hofman, “This @ElaheIzadi Pepsi analysis is SO perfect. ‘You know what’s good? Soda. You know what else is good? Beliefs.’"

About the author

Nashville-based writer, marketing communications consultant, and all-around word nerd. Usually covered in dog and/or cat hair.

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