Fatal crash unites hockey community


At least 15 people were killed on Friday night when a tractor-trailer fatally collided with a junior Canadian hockey team bus.

According to CNN, the Humboldt Broncos hockey team was headed to a playoff game in Nipawin when a single-manned tractor -trailer collided with the bus just north of Tisdale. 15 were killed, the beloved head coach among them, and 14 were injured, three of whom are in critical condition. The players’ ages ranged from 16-21; they came from Saskatchewan, Humboldt and Alberta to play for the Broncos. The cause of the collision is yet undetermined and the tractor driver, though initially detained, has been released. His case is not being criminally investigated.

Though the cause of the collision is certainly of interest, the media is tactfully focusing instead on the families of the victims and the state of those still in the hospital. According to Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, “It’s too early to comment on the cause of the collision.”

Given the gravity of the tragedy and hockey being such a nationally adored sport throughout Canada, the incident has incited grief and solemnity from leaders, fellow hockey players of every status and, of course, the boys’ hometowns.

According to CNN, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received an outpouring of condolences from world leaders. He responded to the incident himself via Twitter, stating that he “cannot imagine what these parents are going through.”

President Trump also tweeted, “Just spoke to @JustinTrudeau to pay my highest respect and condolences to the families of the terrible Humboldt Team tragedy. May God be with them all!” The NHL responded via twitter as well, stating that it sends “…condolences, comfort and strength to all affected…”

Notably, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock can be seen tearing up in a press conference held on Saturday, expressing his deepest sympathies towards the team’s family members. “It hurts,” he said.

The Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche, Hall of Fame member Joe Sakic and former collegiate hockey player Tanner Lane are among the many others to publicly express their condolences to the Broncos, according to New York Daily News.

According to CBC, the towns are uniting at the team’s practice rink, the Elgar Petersen Arena, to support one another and at the Nipawin Apostolic Church to find updated information about recovering team members.

As the victims’ fates become more certain, the coverage of the accident will likely begin to shift towards the cause of the accident and the honoring of those lost in the collision.

Mandated scripts air on Sinclair stations


A video released this weekend by news sports site and blog Deadspin is circulating news media outlets nationwide. The video exposes the nation’s largest local television station owner, Sinclair Broadcast Group, in its controversial underhanded support of President Trump and his “fake news” dialogue.

Opening of Deadpan expository video (Photo courtesy of Deadspin sports news and blog)

In just under two minutes, the video pieces together identical quotes from news stations across the country, all warning viewers to be mindful of “fake news.”

The video itself is unsettling to say the least; news anchors are shown delivering formulaic lines in unison, first stating the particular station’s dedication to serving their respective area, followed by a shared sentiment of pride in the profession of journalism.

The video goes on to show clips of similar formulaic statements, all expressing that they are “concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country,” according to The Concourse. As clips of anchors multiply and their voices echo perfectly scripted lines concerning “truth” and “factual reporting,” the video ends in a rhythmic chant of the anchors stating, “This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.”

Brian Stelter reported for CNN earlier in March on the company mandate, sharing in the article the script with which a local news station owned by Sinclair was provided. One anonymous anchor stated, “At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it.” Similarly, American news website Thinkprocess shared a transcription of the script based on news station KOMO out of Seattle, wherein the basic formula is broken down.

The news media are near bursting with anchors stating their discomfort in berating their own chosen profession, as well as being required to boast biased dialogue. Many outlets turn focus instead to Sinclair’s move to acquire another 40 television stations, thereby increasing its political influence.

The Deadspin video alone has exceptional reach, having been shared tirelessly over social media outlets, primarily Twitter and Facebook, and HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver.

Unsurprisingly, the exposure has sparked massive disgust and contempt for slimy media politics in general and the now-questionable ethics of Sinclair Broadcast Group. And, unsurprisingly, President Trump has taken to Twitter to share his thoughts on the matter;

“So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke,” the president wrote.

If nothing else, the video has managed to shock and alert the general public to the immeasurable power of mass media.

Stephon Clark shooting sparks outrage


The March 18, 2018, police shooting of unarmed Stephon Clark has sparked outrage throughout Sacramento, Calif.

Earlier this month, a 22-year-old black man, Stephon Clark, was shot and killed by two Sacramento police officers in his grandmother’s lawn. The officers approached Clark regarding a call about breaking car windows. They proceeded to shoot him with no less than 20 bullets, killing him at the scene, according to The Washington Post. The police claim they thought Clark had a gun, only a cell phone was found at the scene. A video capturing the incident can be viewed on CNN.com.

The shooting has since sparked protest, demonstrations and calls for prosecution of the officers responsible. In a meeting on Tuesday set to discuss the incident, residents packed Sacramento City Hall. The meeting lasted 2.5 hours, as it was continually interrupted by chants and emotional demonstrations of outrage. In a CNN.com video, Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark, can be seen standing on the information desk and beginning a chant of “Stephon Clark,” during the meeting.

In a now viral demonstration, activist Berry Accius held up his cell phone in similar fashion to Clark, encouraging the council meeting attendees to do the same. He demanded of Mayor Darrell Steinberg, “Does this look like a gun?”

Body camera footage shows the officer’s yelling “gun,” in response to their allegedly thinking Clark held a gun, though footage shows that the officers failed to declare themselves as police before firing 10 lethal shots each at Clark. According to The Washington Post, more than five minutes passed before police called for medical attention, allowing Clark to die on the scene.

The California Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it will oversee a police investigation into the shooting, while Steinberg stated, “A 22-year-old man should not have died that way,” according to The Washington Post.

News media are still trying to piece together the details of the incident, releasing updated content as promptly as new details come to light. As the case progresses, news media attention shifts to the suspicious delay in calling for medical attention. On a national level, it brings the Black Lives Matter movement back to the media forefront.

Zuckerberg responds to privacy scandal


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has found himself under immense pressure to address the safety of Facebook users after The New York Times and The Guardian published an investigation into Cambridge Analytica’s supposed breach of privacy against millions of unknowing Facebook users in 2013.

According to The New York Times, voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica, which engaged in work for the Donald Trump campaign, bought the data of millions of Facebook users under the pretext of “collecting it (data) for academic purposes,” while in reality the company used the information to tailor individual content, with the intent of influencing 2014 midterm elections.

Despite the clear breach of user privacy and unethical use of information, the controversy remains heated in that, technically, Cambridge Analytica was not, in fact, a breach of any Facebook privacy policies at all. It was intentionally deceiving, but its actions were within Facebook’s privacy rules.

Facebook gave permission to University of Cambridge psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan to access information of users who downloaded his app “thisisyourdigitallife.” Kogan then turned the information over to Cambridge Analytica, which used this information to allegedly tamper with midterm elections.

Former contractor for Cambridge Anayltica Christopher Wylie exposed the company to The New York Times and The Guardian.

The scandal has raised great concern over Facebook’s seeming lack of privacy regulation and account for user safety, as it is unclear whether Cambridge Analytica’s actions technically broke Facebook’s privacy policies or simply duped the company within its own allowances.

The news media, therefore, has turned to public figure and founder Mark Zuckerberg to respond. Though it is not uncommon for major CEOs to remain behind the scenes in such incidences, Mark Zuckerberg’s public presence and personal branding demands a response from him directly.

Five days following the exposure, Zuckerberg has finally issued a response via Facebook, claiming that user security is of the utmost importance, stating “…if we can’t (protect your data), then we don’t deserve to serve you.”

The statement has been met with mixed responses, most focusing on his line, “The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago.”

The line contradicts itself; if the steps were taken years ago as he claims, the whole incident would not have occurred in the first place. Supposedly, Facebook began refining its policies in 2014, which would have been just after the incident occurred.

As the speculation into Zuckerberg’s claims continues, the media questions how much the company knew about the information leak, when they knew it and how safe the trailblazing social media platform really is.

News media baffled by Nunberg outburst


Nearly every major news media outlet across the country stopped in their tracks Monday afternoon to gape at a live MSNBC interview with a former campaign adviser to President Trump, Sam Nunberg.

The afternoon began with a Washington Post story by Josh Dawsey reporting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office had subpoenaed Nunberg to testify before a federal grand jury regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Nunberg refused.

Approximately 15 minutes after the story was released, MSNBC cut short an interview to go to Nunberg in a phone interview. The interview spiraled into a 20-minute, seemingly no-holds-barred spiel from Nunberg during which he divulged what he claims Muller’s office asked of him and that he had no intention of cooperating. Most shockingly, the former Trump-aide said that he thinks Trump “may have done something during the election” and that Muller may “have something” on the president, according to CNN.

Nunberg proceeded to call into various news media outlets, including two different CNN interviewers and New York news station NY1. He then reappeared on MSNBC, this time accompanied by three lawyers, to discuss whether or not he should cooperate with Muller.

The White House is baffled by Nunberg’s outburst, calling it “nuts” and “bizarre,” according to CNN’s Kaitlin Collins. National news media certainly share the sentiment.

Though Nunberg could have perhaps been motivated by his own alleged mistreatment by Trump along with Trump’s similar treatment of Nunberg’s mentor, Roger Stone, why Nunberg would then defy subpoena remains unclear. Nunberg suggests that Trump did something questionable during the 2016 election and, if so, has no interest in testifying.

Speculations as to why Nunberg, who actively hates Trump, would not testify, point towards Nunberg’s allegiance to Stone; according to Nunberg, Stone is suspect to collusion with Julian Assage, who is believed to have ties to Russian intelligence. If there is something to cover on Stone, it seems Nunberg is covering it.

Despite being initially adamant, The Washington Post reports that Nunberg may testify after a night of considerable advice gathering through his various news media appearances. It seems Nunberg’s obstinate resolve and speculative protection of Stone will not withstand the risk of jail time he could face for defying subpoena.

West Virginia teachers continue strike


After nearly a week of teacher walkouts throughout West Virginia, schools remained closed today and have been preemptively cancelled for tomorrow despite talks of an agreement to get teachers back in the classrooms.

The strikes began after Governor Jim Justice signed off on legislation that would grant teachers a two percent pay increase in July followed by a one percent increase over the next two years. The bill failed to address the state’s insufficient insurance program, a tax on payroll deductions, and the ever-rising cost of health care.

Considering that the state is ranked 49/50 in economy, 44/50 in health care, and 45/50 in education according to U.S. News, the subsequent rallies and strikes demanding stronger programs for educators are perhaps not expected expected, but comprehensible.

Though Wednesday was supposed to serve as a recovery day post-negotiations and Thursday a return to schedule normalcy, Justice’s announcement of his newest deal made on Tuesday sparked greater dissent than settlement. The new bill included a teacher pay increase by five percent, but again made no improvements to the teachers’ insurance program, which was the main concern of the first bill. School, then, was not in session today as legislators hoped.

Teachers instead crowd the state capitol today, holding signs proclaiming “No deal!” and “Will teach for insurance.”

According to CNN, Justice defended his attempts at compromise from the back of an SUV through a crowd of protesters, stating, “I’m not the king. I’m doing what all I can possibly do.”

President of the Senate Mitch Carmichael similarly expressed concerns to CNN that the state simply does not have the money to fund the raises.

As the news media scramble to grab hold of an ever-changing wreck of developments in the situation, sources like CNN, NPR, and WV Public Radio are doing an impressive job of keeping stories current.

Wrap-up reports went out last night that finally, school would be back in session and today, the news media have taken a whole new angle on the relentlessness of the strikes. This story has quickly become and defiantly remained one to watch; it looks as though the news media has every intention of keeping it that way.

U.S. women earn hockey gold


On Feb. 21, the U.S. women’s hockey team won its first Olympic Gold Medal over Canada since its first victory in 1998. The game lasted through regulation playing time, overtime and an extended shootout to finish in a 3-2 win for the United States. The truly inspiring victory has drawn news media attention to one of the most underrated rivalries in recent sporting history.

As the two undisputed most successful women’s hockey teams, the United States and Canadian women’s teams have been battling it out in the Olympics for the past 20 years, since the sport was first included in the Olympics in 1998 in the Nagano games. After its first Olympic victory in 1998, the U.S. women’s team has been silver to the Canadian’s gold in all four of the following Olympic games.

The rivalry deepens considering the IIHF Women’s World Championship outcomes since its introduction in 1990; Canada dominated all but one championship for the first 10 years until the U.S. took the title in 2005. The U.S. has held the championship since 2008, except in 2012.

The U.S. women’s team has been growing in news media relevance since its introduction to the Olympics, but the team earned national attention nearly a year ago after boycotting the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in pursuit of equal pay.

When USA Hockey threatened to bring on replacements, the Women’s national team convinced high school and college level potentials to boycott as well. Fellow athletes, including the Women’s national soccer team and players’ associations for the NHL, NBA, NHL, MLB and WNBA, supported the boycott through social media. The team was successful in negotiations with USA Hockey just three days before the 2017 IIHF games, which it went on to win for the seventh time in eight years.

Last night’s victory, which happened on the 38th anniversary of the historic “Miracle on Ice” upset of the U.S. men’s national team victory over the former Soviet Union in 1980, has brought the women’s national hockey team into the news media spotlight it deserves after years of exceptional competition and a groundbreaking stand for equality.

Parkland coverage turns to when to talk


It seems near impossible to analyze how the news media are responding to the high school shooting that took place on Feb. 14, 2018 in Parkland, Fla. It is unarguably necessary to discuss the way how news media portray such horror contributes to a cycle of perception to representation and back again.

It almost feels inappropriate, which is ironic given the justification often used for prolonging talks— that it’s too soon.

In terms of briefer forms of news media, the cycle prevails through social media; users send thoughts and prayers, share articles, and debate whether or not now is the time to discuss gun control.

Posts have gone up of pro-gun rights users prepping themselves with arguments against gun control for the predicted debates. Conversely, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphey tweeted “Don’t tell me tomorrow isn’t the appropriate time to debate gun violence.” And thus ensues the “should we talk about it or shouldn’t we?” narrative.

Higher profile news sources, such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, BBC, and nearly every other news medium is serving hard and fast facts as new developments emerge, as well as arguments regarding when is the time to discuss the problem. The constant theme, aside for the sentiments of regret and tragedy, is deciding when is appropriate to begin talks.

The over-used argument for prolonging gun control discussion focuses on not using a tragedy as a means for furthering a political agenda. This case is essentially arguing for victim sensitivity, which could perhaps be valid, if only the talks were to take place in given time and more often than not, they don’t.

Half the news media say we should talk about it and the other half uses victim sensitivity as a means to put off hard talks. As a result, we only ever talk about talking about it until we get tired and then quiet down until the next “biggest mass shooting in history” graces our headlines.

This, in turn, undermines both major angles of prevention- the mental health angle and the gun control angle- as both sides perceive the other to be solely agenda-pushing.

When shooting dialogues only take front seat when there is a tragedy, too many valid arguments from both sides are lost in the chaos. Perhaps if the serious discussions were to remain steady and progressive through news media representation, rather than urgent and reactionary as they are often portrayed, our country could actually get somewhere.

Cake decorating case before high court


As legalization of same-sex marriage expands across the country, couples are ready to celebrate after years of waiting. Over the past few years, though, the news media have had no shortage of controversies to cover in the aftermath.

A frequently sparked debate is that between the engaged, gay couple and the Christian specialty baker. In November 2012, a Colorado couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, was refused a wedding cake by Masterpiece Cakeshop. According to Craig, “This happens all the time,” as reported in a January publication of The Guardian.

The couple would go on to take owner Catholic store-owner Jack Phillips to the U.S. Supreme Court in a five-year Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, determining the limits of free speech and what is considered discrimination.

Though lower level court cases ruled in favor of Craig and Mullins, a similar case in California Superior Court under Judge David Lampe ruled today in favor of a baker’s rights to “artistic expression.”

Catholic baker and owner of Tastries Bakery in California Cathy Miller refused to create a wedding cake for couple Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio, though she did refer their order to Gimme Some Sugar, a nearby competitor bakery.

Miller’s lawyer claimed cake decorating is a form of artistic expression. Judge Lampe ruled that, so long as Miller does not deny the same-sex couples purchases from her counter, she is free to refuse to produce a custom cake.

In acknowledgement of the case’s sensitivity, BBC News reported Judge Lampe’s warning regarding the very circumstantial nature of the court’s ruling, “A retail tire shop may not refuse to sell a tire because the owner does not want to sell tires to same sex couples,” Lampe said, clarifying the creative aspect of the case that led to the final ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case.

Media change focus as Nassar trial ends


Serial child molester Larry Nassar entered the courtroom for the third and final hearing on Jan. 31, 2018, to receive his final sentencing.

After a grueling seven-day hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court in which Judge Rosemarie Aquilina allowed nearly 160 women to speak about their respective violations at the hands of Nassar, the former Olympic doctor began another trial in Eaton County Circuit Court this week under Judge Janice K. Cunningham. Nassar will face another 60 women accusing him of more of the same and faces 40 to 175 years in prison.

Though as the doctor’s fate becomes more and more certain, that of the organizations by which he was employed is only raising more questions.

Most pressingly, Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics are being called upon to respond.

According to a recently published BBC report, the directors of USA Gymnastics have all resigned after the US Olympic Committee demanded the board step down. Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon has stepped down and a criminal investigation has been launched into the university.

As the investigations continue, the question remains: what now? Nassar will spend his life in prison and the case will delve into the nitty gritty of who knew what and when they knew it. If justice is thoroughly carried out, those who allowed Nassar’s repulsive manipulation of power to persist will be aptly tried as well. And though the individuals will be persecuted, how do we begin to repair the infrastructure of a so clearly damaged organization?

A bill passed by the senate on Tuesday requiring amateur sporting organizations to report sexual assault now awaits President Trump’s approval. The bill would also necessitate training to prevent such assaults.

And though a bill of this suit certainly seems like a step in the right direction, the irony of whose desk upon which it sits cannot be ignored. Nevertheless, a case of this caliber simply cannot be ignored. We thus will wait with baited breath for our president’s review.