Conyers’ son has gone missing


This week, the disappearance of Carl Conyers, son of John Conyers Jr. (D-Michigan), the longest-serving active member of the House of Representatives, is calling the attention of many.

According to CNN, Conyers, a student at the University of Houston, went missing after a series of mysterious events. To enhance the story and likely increase reader interest, CNN laid out the facts as if they were puzzle pieces begging to be assembled by the reader.

The first part of the report is entitled, “Message from Conyers’ account: ‘I’m OK.”  In this section, CNN reported that Daisha Lewis, Conyers’ girlfriend, went to Conyers’ home on Wednesday and noticed that Conyers’ clothes were next to his backpack with his wallet, an envelope filled with pictures, and his primary phone charging. Conyers and his second phone were not there.

The next day, Lewis was still at Conyers’ home when she received a message from him via Twitter that said, “I’m OK.” Soon after, Conyers’ told Lewis and their friends to meet him on campus. While on their way to campus, Lewis felt suspicion regarding Conyers’ message and decided to return to his home, where she discovered Conyers’ ID and debit card were newly missing. Furthermore, clothes from his dresser and his house keys were gone.

In the next section, “He suddenly shaved his beard,” CNN reported that Conyers suddenly shaved a beard he had been growing for a year.

The third section, “A second phone,” reveals a very interesting observation.  According to CNN, Lewis discovered that the IP address for the aforementioned tweets that Conyers sent her was the same as Conyers’ apartment Wi-Fi.  She stated that Conyers, or someone else, could have been tweeting on this second phone, which had been missing from the start, in the parking lot of the apartment while Lewis was inside.

The sections continue in the same intriguing fashion and inform the reader that no suspicious activity was discovered in Conyers’ bank account, social media platform, etc.

Finally, CNN stated that the FBI is helping authorities in the search for the 21-year-old student.

This article pulls the reader in and almost encourages him to make speculations about what happened. As a result, it is likely that the reader will actively stay tuned as the investigation continues.

This story is particularly interesting to me as I am familiar with the Conyers family. We are from the same community, I went to school with Conyers’ cousins and I have many mutual friends with Conyers himself. I certainly hope he is safe and returns home soon.

Protesters: ‘Trump is not my president’


The results of the presidential election were shocking and painful to many people across the country, especially because Clinton won the popular vote.

Feelings of anger, fear and utter disbelief culminated last night as thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities reaching from New York to Los Angeles. According to NBC New York, at least 60 people in Manhattan were arrested during the protests.

Fox News reported that protesters’ signs said things like, “Trump’s a racist,” “Impeach Trump,” and “Abolish Electoral College.”

It seems that if any good can come of this situation, it is the uniting of minorities and oppressed peoples across the board. While broadcasting at a protest in New York, a Fox News reporter stated, “There’s a hodgepodge of so many different groups here.” Though their races, sexual orientations, ages, sexes and religions differed, the protesters’ message was the same: “Trump is not my president.”

I have noticed that people tend to protest the injustices that directly impact themselves. As a result, most of the Black Lives Matter activists are black, most of the LGBTQ supports are non-heterosexual individuals, and so forth.

On one level, this phenomenon is understandable, even expected. But on another level, this phenomenon is inexcusable. As Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Minorities should support other minority causes just as readily as they support their own.

With this in mind, it seems that standing up against Trump and his racist, homophobic, Islamophobic and misogynistic beliefs is today’s biggest opportunity for all minorities and marginalized groups to come together and form the most expansive civil rights movement yet.

Media work overtime to stress you out


With the presidential election just a week away, the news media are doing everything they can to make the final days as dramatic as ever. Looking at the list of “Top stories” on CNN’s website, the reader sees a hodgepodge of headlines with “Trump” and “Clinton” sprinkled in as many times as possible:

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-5-48-12-amPutting in “Trump” or “Clinton” does not make automatically make the story newsworthy.  Going down the line, I looked at the first three articles and found myself wondering why they were “Top stories.”

The first article, “Did Trump vote for George W. Bush?” is about a radio interview in 2009 in which Trump denies voting for Bush in 2004, though he stated last January that he did vote for Bush in 2000 and 2004.

The only purpose that this article serves is exemplifying that Trump contradicts himself with lies. This might have been relevant if this same point hadn’t already been proven a hundred times over the past year. Trump has lied excessively throughout his entire campaign, so why is this a “top story?”

In the second article, CNN reveals that John Kasich wrote in John McCain on the election ballot instead of voting for Trump. This fact is not newsworthy!  Many prominent republicans have come out saying that they will not vote for Trump. This story might be have been newsworthy if a significant number of republicans revealed that they too wrote in McCain in some last-minute attempt to unite as a party and elect the senator.  But with the story the way it is, I don’t see why people should care.

Finally, the third article is about Gary Johnson saying the Clinton could be impeached over her email scandal. Over the course of the election, no news station or network, including CNN, has cared what Johnson had to say. About anything. But now, the election is close, and CNN is eagerly quoting him because what he said about Clinton is scandalous and will certainly stir the political pot.

In conclusion, the news media are working overtime to post anything remotely related to Trump and Clinton to sway, excite, and overwhelm voters in the final countdown before all ballots are cast.

Much campaign news ado about nothing


Tonight’s top story: Mike Pence’s plane skids off runway.

According to CNN, Mike Pence and his campaign staff were on their campaign plane leaving LaGuardia Airport in New York City when wet weather conditions caused the plane to slide of the tarmac.

No one was injured.

CNN stated that while the incident was taking place, Trump was preparing to go on stage at a rally in Geneva, Ohio.   When addressing the crowd, Trump informed everyone that Pence and the crew were alright.

Mike Pence made this statement via Twitter:


Hillary also took the opportunity to throw her name in the mix by modeling cordiality:


CNN quoted Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, as she explained that the rainy weather probably prevented the wheels from getting “good traction.”

When I first heard about the incident, I didn’t think it was worth reporting because there were no injuries, and the plane suffered no damages, suggesting that it wasn’t very serious. It seemed that the media piped up the event just because it happened to Mike Pence.

Additionally, Schiavo’s explanation of why the plane might have slid off the runway seems extremely unnecessary to me. It is common knowledge that wet roads increase a vehicle’s likelihood of sliding out of control.  No duh.

Quoting Schiavo would have been worth it if she talked about the plane’s faulty brakes or a miscommunication between the pilot and the radio tower- information that only she and other experts would have.  But stating that the rain may have caused the plane to slide is not worth the reader’s time.

At the end of the day, the lengthy articles on CNN’s and Fox News’ websites make the event seem more dramatic than it really was.

CNN stated that Pence cancelled his appearance at a fundraiser at Trump Tower tonight, but that the campaign will pick up where it left off as scheduled tomorrow.

Actress arrested for pipeline activism


Over the weekend, Shailene Woodley made headlines for being arrested at a peaceful protest in North Dakota.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the “Secret Life of the American Teenager” star was demonstrating her disapproval of the proposed 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline that would transport 400,000 barrels of oil daily from North Dakota to Illinois alongside hundreds of other activists.

Naturally, environmentalists oppose the pipeline for multiple reasons, including the very real possibility of oil leaks that contaminate soil and underground water sources.

Additionally, the Los Angeles Times states that many Native American groups have been outspoken about the pipeline and were present at the protest because the pipeline will disturb sacred Native American lands.

The protest took place on Monday of this week, which also happened to be Columbus Day, which many are trying to re-dedicate as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Personally, I did not know about the protest until I saw “Shailene Woodley” trending on Facebook. I clicked on her name and learned what had happened.

It is interesting that the story trended because it involved a celebrity arrest rather than because the pipeline is a big deal in and of itself that affects all of us. I fear that if Woodley had not been involved, there would have been little news media attention given to the protest.

As an environmental activist myself, I am grateful to Woodley for being outspoken about this issue and for drawing attention to the demonstration.

Kaine and Pence duke it out


With the 2016 presidential election fast approaching, the vice presidential nominees Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine took the stage last night at Longwood University in Virginia for a vice presidential debate.

Significantly, according to a tweet in a CNN article, moderator Elaine Quijano was the first Asian American to moderate a presidential debate. Quijano certainly did not have an easy job as the two candidates constantly interrupted each other, as has become customary in such debates.

Both candidates accused the other of running an “insult-drive campaign” and exaggerated the truth on select issues, according to National Public Radio’s fact checker.

An article about the debate on CNN features a number of tweets from CNN Opinion commentators, a majority of whom harshly criticized Trump’s running mate, Mscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-10-56-24-amike Pence, for lying and being in denial of Trump’s stance on many issues.

Meanwhile, both CNN and Fox News criticized Quijano as the moderator, but for different reasons.  A CNN article claimed that Quijano cut off valuable discussion about important topics in order to make it through all the planned questions.

Fox News accused her of blatantly favoring the Democrat nominee Tim Kaine. For example, an article on the Fox News homepage claimed that Quijano asked Pence extremely tough questions by a factor of 8-to-1 compared to the questions asked to Kaine. Additionally, the network berated Quijano for allowing Kaine to interrupt Pence far more than Pence interrupted Kaine.

With the second presidential debate coming up this weekend, it will be interesting to hear if the candidates have any comments about their running mates’ performances.

Refugee comes to the rescue


With Donald Trump on television, in newspapers, on Twitter, etc., and screaming out horrible things about immigrants and Syrian refugees, it seems rare to find positive publicity about these victims. I feel that many Americans fear influxes of refugees and dislike Middle Eastern immigrants because they have preconceived notions about their culture, religion, etc.

For that reason, it is a breath of fresh air to read an article that the BBC recently published highlighting a moment of camaraderie between a Syrian refugee and his new Canadian neighbor.

The article paints Ibrahim Dudu as a hero after coming to the rescue when the zipper on his neighbor’s bridesmaid dress broke. As a tailor, Dudu was able to help the woman in a kind act. According to the BBC, Dudu recently came to Canada without speaking a word of English in order to escape the violence of his country.

Though this event is not earth shattering and doesn’t affect many people at all, I appreciate that the BBC is making it a point to publish positivity that has come from accepting Syrian refugees.

In this upcoming election, many Americans are letting fear and Islamophobia overpower their sense of humanity and empathy for refugees of the Middle East. If American news networks would share light-hearted stories like the one of Dudu, many people could more easily see that refugees should not be vilified.

194 victims and counting


Since the birth of this nation, racism has torn people apart. The last few weeks have been no different as black men continue to be assaulted, gunned down and murdered by police officers without just cause.

Yesterday, the governor of North Carolina declared a state of emergency after protests broke out in response to the shooting deaths of Keith Scott, Tyre King and Terence Crutcher, and the countless others, at the hands of police.

I first became aware of the protest when I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook. One of the pages I follow shared another person’s live broadcast of the protest. There were more than 44,000 people watching the video that this Facebook user posted.

Watching this video made me realize the true impact that social media are having on television news broadcasting. Live broadcasting, tweeting, etc. allows anyone to function as a journalist. I actually preferred to watch this person’s broadcasting over CNN’s or Fox’s because it felt much more authentic and was entirely uncensored.

According to The Guardian’s police killings database, since the beginning of 2016, 194 black people have been killed by the police, making blacks the most killed race by police officers.  The Guardian also states that black men are nine times more likely than any other American to be killed by police.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in all of 2015, cops killed about 1,200 people, yet not a single officer was convicted of murder.

This lack of accountability of police officers, and their seeming disregard for the lives of people of color inspired Colin Kaepernick, quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, and others around the country, to sit or kneel during the playing of the National Anthem as an act of protest against these injustices.

Though so many people were quick to criticize Kaepernick and his supporters for their peaceful protest calling attention to the injustice, many of these critics have nothing to say about the injustices themselves. People are calling out this tendency with the trending statement “Take a knee, people riot … take a bullet, people quiet.”

Suicide is never entertainment


Fox News posted a tragic story today about a woman, Tiziana Cantone, who committed suicide after being bullied and slut shamed for her leaked sex tape.

Cantone’s case exemplifies the harmful effect of bullying in society as well as the risks of sharing personal matters with others electronically.

While I was appalled at the story itself and the sad loss of life, I was practically just as disturbed about the fact that I found this article on the entertainment page of Fox News’s website.

In my opinion, if a news network has an entertainment section it should be reserved for interesting stories that are offbeat, funny and/or about celebrities. An article about the suicide of a young woman should not be included.

Allocating this article to the entertainment section almost seems like further slut shaming of the victim by Fox News itself. It’s as if the network wants to portray that the Cantone’s death is entertaining because she got what she deserved for stupidly making a sex tape in the first place.

On CNN’s website, I read an unrelated article today about the recent suicide of 9-year-old Jackson Grubb in West Virginia.  He too killed himself after harassment from bullies, just like Cantone. While this equally heartbreaking event with similarities to the Cantone story was nowhere to be found on Fox News’s website, I am certain that if Fox had posted the article, the network never would have put it on the entertainment page.

Shooting headline made ‘unique’


On Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, a shooting at Alpine High School in Texas left one dead and two injured. Sadly, shootings in America have become so commonplace, that people aren’t surprised and hardly bat an eye when one occurs.

For a news network like CNN, which survives on viewership and popularity, that fact is somewhat problematic. The news media must determine how to recapture America’s interest in shootings or else there is no point in reporting them at all.

In an attempt to catch the public’s eye today, CNN chose to sensationalize the Texas shooting by emphasizing one main aspect.

The headline reads:

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-10-03-32-pmWhen I first read this headline, one word leaped off the screen: “girl.” “Girl shooter?” I thought to myself. Since when do we identify shooters by their gender in headlines?

Other headlines rarely have the shooter’s gender.

For example, this Jul. 9, 2016 CNN headline reads, “Dallas sniper attack: 5 officers killed, suspect identified.” There is no gender stated.

A Jul. 25, 2016 CNN headline reads, “Fort Myers shooting: 2 dead outside teen party at club.” There is no gender stated.

Even the word “gunman” is ambiguous without clarification. For example, in a Dec. 5, 2015 CNN broadcast, the reporter referred to the shooter as “the female gunman,” to clarify her gender.

In a country where hundreds of shootings happen every year, it is easy for citizens to read the headlines monotonously. But, this shouldn’t be the case. A shooting should get someone’s attention not because the shooter is a female, but because the shooting happened at all.

Today’s headline should have been just as devastating and shocking without the word “girl” in it.