‘Trump’s New York’ on a ferry ride


Philip Rucker of The Washington Post published an article Wednesday depicting Donald Trump’s New York supporters that were seated on a New York ferry during the evening rush hour to Staten Island.

Rucker describes several of the passengers through their jobs, appearance and background and he even juxtaposes a construction worker, a Hungarian immigrant, and a fashion model who all support the Republican candidate. The article is meant to be colorful and intimate, while shedding light on the different types of Trump followers and their reasons for supporting him.

Although it’s pleasing to read and I gained a greater perspective on the different types of people who support Trump and their reasons for doing so, I found that Rucker’s reporting itself is a bit too rightward leaning for my taste.

I feel that it’s important to be much more careful about how writers portray such a large group of people with so many different views. A Staten Island ferry ride may give a glimpse at Trump supporters, but it doesn’t speak for everyone.

I’ll admit that Rucker makes several attempts to express the voices of opposing New Yorkers, but the piece projects Staten Island, and New York, as a predominantly Republican area. The title itself gives the impression that most New York and Staten Island residents support Trump, and after reading the article, that’s is the idea that I was left with.

For me, it all boils down to perception. If I finish reading a piece and am left with a single idea about a large group of people, I consider it to be too predisposed.

I’m sure that my criticism is too harsh, given the fact that a writer can’t possibly listen to the individual opinions of all 8.4 million New York City residents, but I’d like to believe that there is a lot more diversity in opinion than those few people on the ferry who believe Donald Trump is representative of the typical New Yorker.

CNN explains the Panama Papers


The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) leaked several documents Sunday citing illegal activity of an offshore Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca. The papers are being referred to as the “Panama Papers” and allegedly exposes a tax haven used by some of the world’s wealthiest and most well-known individuals

Several current and former public officials have come under fire following the leak after the papers exposed their ties to the firm. Russian President Vladimir Putin and the prime minister of Iceland are two political leaders involved in the scandal.

The firm itself quickly responded to the papers shortly after their release, noting that the information is “inaccurate.”

While the investigation is still ongoing, CNN News Desk editor Jethro Mullen published “The Panama Papers: 7 things to know” to the site on Monday.

Over the years, I’ve seen several crash-course articles similar to Mullen’s on the CNN website and, at first, these types of articles struck me as unprofessional. The titles sound similar to articles posted on blogs or news and entertainment sites like Buzzfeed. Over time, however, I learned to appreciate this type of reporting.

Whenever I’m struggling to understand the details of a complex news story, I tend to look for articles similar to Mullen’s to break down the information piece by piece.

The average American does not have an extensive background in every subject that makes news. Breaking down the background of a story and its general information is a great way to help people understand a variety of important topics.

Though these stories may defy the standard inverted pyramid formula of news writing, I find them to be the most effective way to convey multifaceted stories to the general public. In retrospect, I probably would not have been able to right the first portion of this article without Mullen’s reporting.

Father tracks illegal immigrant accidents


Fox News published an online article on Wednesday about a man who’s making it his mission to calculate deaths caused by illegal immigrant drivers after an unlicensed Honduran immigrant killed his son in 2010.

Since the accident, Don Rosenberg claims to have calculated and estimated that illegal immigrants are responsible for half of the fatalities in accidents involving unlicensed drivers. He also started a website for his findings and regularly posts petitions to the site.

Journalist Hollie McKay, who wrote the article, also added a story about a 32-year-old police officer who was killed by an illegal, unlicensed immigrant in 2014.

Fox is the only news network to do a follow-up on these stories, and it is likely because it aligns with the network’s political stance.

Moreover, it’s difficult for me to tell which facts within the article are confirmed and which are mere guesses. McKay uses vague phrases like “critics say,” but she never actually identifies said critics, which makes the argument less convincing as a reader.

I am aware that Fox News is known for its conservative agenda and consumers should expect that, but I also think it’s important for the journalists of any network to not make that agenda so extremely obvious.

Journalism, at its core, is about reporting the issues in order to inform people, and being unbiased in that reporting is imperative for maintaining credibility.

However, I think these basic standards should trickle down into all parts of a journalist’s job. Balance should not only be present in the end products like articles and television segments, but it should also be a factor in choosing what to report in the first place.

Unfortunately, bias is inevitable with certain networks, but it’s important for those networks to, at the very least, make their political affiliations a bit subtler.

Journalist denounces Obama’s visit


This week, President Obama made a monumental trip to Havana, Cuba, a sign that the diplomatic relation between the U.S. and Cuba is gradually stabilizing.

Obama is the first sitting president to visit Cuba in almost 90 years, according to The Miami Herald. Officials have also said Obama plans to be very candid with Cuban president Raúl Castro about his hopes for the future of the Cuban people.

In a further effort to improve relations, the Tampa Bay Rays also took the field alongside Cuban baseball players in an exhibition game on Tuesday. Cuban baseball players will now have the opportunity to continue their careers with the MLB.

Unfortunately, many Cubans and Cuban-Americans have anything but positive feelings toward the baseball exhibition and Obama’s historic visit, especially within the Miami and South Florida area.

In a beautifully penned open column in The Miami Herald, sportswriter Dan Le Batard, who is of Cuban descent and a UM School of Communication alum, shed some light on the background of the political situation that is unfolding.

“Obama and Jeter and ESPN head toward communism like it is another cruise port, so many symbols of Americana descending on a rotting island stuck in the 1950s, and it doesn’t feel quite right back in Miami, like watching a funeral morph into a party,” he writes. “The history of my own people feels like it is either being ignored or trampled here, and I’m not quite sure which of those feels worse,” Le Batard wrote.

Le Batard speaks on behalf of countless Cubans with his article as he explains just how strange it feels to watch the U.S. praise small actions that are doing so little to compensate for Cuban injustice.

“Fidel Castro outlived my grandparents. His regime continues to haunt my old-exile parents. My pain might be borrowed. But, damn, as that sting returns to my eyes, I can assure you that it is real,” he continued.

While President Obama’s visit to Cuba is an historic one, I must side with Le Batard in this battle of responsible reporting.

Prior to reading Le Batard’s article, I had not understood the extent of the political turmoil that uprooted so many Cuban citizens. He provides his family history and the challenges they themselves experienced in the face of communism, an unlikely opinion with slim chances of survival amidst the conventional news stories.

With this new progress in the U.S.-Cuba relation, it’s even more important for the mainstream media to educate people on the history of the situation and the major changes that still need to be made in Cuba before any justified celebrations can take place.

Humans of NY founder criticizes Trump


Brandon Stanton, a photojournalist and blogger, is the brain behind the increasingly popular blog and book “Humans of New York” (HONY), which chronicles stories of ordinary passersby in New York City.

Stanton will post daily photos of the people he meets on the street along with a direct quote or short story, giving people a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people.

His work isn’t limited to New York City, though.

Stanton also occasionally photographs and posts stories from people he meets on international excursions, including people in places like the Middle East.

On Monday, however, the HONY founder posted something a little different online.

In an open editorial to Donald Trump, Stanton stated: “I realize now that there is no correct time to oppose violence and prejudice. The time is always now.”

Stanton continued, “Because along with millions of Americans, I’ve come to realize that opposing you is no longer a political decision. It is a moral one.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 12.33.42 PMStanton also referenced some of Trump’s most appalling comments regarding race and refugees. Stanton, referring to himself as a journalist whom has “conducted extensive interviews” with people from around the world, added: “I can confirm — the hateful one is you.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 12.33.59 PMWhile some may argue the HONY founder isn’t your typical journalist, he still claims to adhere to journalism’s ethical code, stating in the editorial that he refrains from being too “political.”

In this case, as unusual as it may seem, I commend him for taking a moment from his work to be “political.”

This year’s presidential race seems to have turned uncharacteristically hostile, and it’s alarming to think that the future of our country has become a form of twisted entertainment.

But the so-called entertainment reaches a point where it isn’t funny anymore. The future of the United States shouldn’t be taken lightly.

In my honest opinion, Stanton deserves the utmost praise for his editorial. Without powerful, well-known voices to speak out on behalf of the violent and unethical situation that is unfolding, what will the United States become?

After all, it’s hypocritical to promote anti-bullying in schools if it’s happening on the federal level every day.

Andrews testifies in stalker, hotel lawsuit


Earlier this week, Fox sportscaster Erin Andrews finished testifying in a $75 million lawsuit against a stalker and the owner of a Nashville Marriott hotel.

Andrews claims that the hotel allowed a stalker to occupy the room next to hers in 2008. The stalker, Michael David Barrett, recorded nude footage of Andrews through a peephole and leaked the videos onto the Internet. Barrett has since served time in prison for his crime.

Andrews believes both the hotel and her stalker are responsible for emotional damage.

In her testimony, Andrews also alleged that ESPN, her employer at the time, refused to let her continue reporting on college football until she spoke publicly about the matter. Andrews said that the network wanted her to clarify whether or not the incident had been a publicity stunt.

In a field like journalism, where the “truth” is of the utmost importance, Andrews’ situation begs the question: when is human compassion more important than an accurate story?

If you ask me, ESPN undeniably overstepped its boundaries by asking a woman who was a victim of sexual exploitation to relive the incident on national television.

Whether or not it had been a publicity stunt, ESPN should have treated the statements of a fellow employee with the highest respect and consideration. Forcing any person, male or female, to speak about such a sensitive subject is a tasteless invasion of privacy.

I truly hope that Andrews is exaggerating the way ESPN addressed the situation. It would be a shame to learn that such a respected sports news network lacked the basic human compassion necessary in dealing with sexual exploitation.

As a note for other networks in the future: sometimes “getting the story” just isn’t worth the damage to a person’s mental and emotional health. Always be cautious.

Retired Army horses seeking a home


The Miami Herald featured an article on Sunday to create awareness about free, retired Army horses that are seeking new homes.

The animals, 15-year-old Kennedy and 11-year-old Quincy, both served tours as caisson horses in the Army’s Old Guard at the Arlington National Cemetery.

Caisson horses are responsible for the pulling coffins of military officials who were killed in action to their burial sites. As one of the most distinctive ceremonies in the military, it requires extraordinary skill and accuracy from the horses.

Pfc. Kris Loudner, a cassion rider who knows the horses well, said, “I think one of the reasons to own a horse like Quincy or Kennedy is to have a piece in this mission. In a way, you’re tending to a horse that has honored America’s service members.”

In the “News” section of the Miami Herald website, the article about Kennedy and Quincy was one of the first trending articles, and it stood out from the usual political reporting and crime-related articles.

Quite frankly, I have to commend The Miami Herald for featuring a story about the horses because, as a reader, it’s refreshing to hear positive, lighthearted news when most information that is deemed newsworthy centers on something negative.

The horses may not be important to very many people in the South Florida area, but this story is uplifting compared to the content most readers consume on daily basis. It’s a beautiful, feel-good article that is creating awareness along the way.

Pope Francis, Trump battle over faith


On Thursday, Pope Francis said in a press conference that Donald Trump “is not a Christian” if he advocates building a wall at the Mexican and U.S. border.

CNN quickly reported on the event with the headline: “Pope suggests Trump ‘is not a Christian.’”

Trump quickly fired back, stating that the Pope does not reserve “the right to question another man’s religion.”

While Trump has every right to defend himself and his religious beliefs, CNN and many major news networks do not understand that sometimes something as little as a headline can add fuel to an already raging fire.

The news media have the ability to stimulate divisiveness whether it is intentional or not, and only later in the article does it explain that the Pope also said he wasn’t fully informed about the situation, but was willing to give Trump the “benefit of the doubt.”

Instead, the news media capitalized on the Pope’s most controversial statement in its headline and throughout the majority of the article.

Trump now has his eyes set on the Pope, adding, “If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS … I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.”

While an initial retaliation is to be expected from Trump, any growing tension between the two of them will be a product of media influence.

Because of the disproportionate reporting and over-exaggeration by the media, people will often fail to realize that the Pope is a religious leader. He was elected under the condition that he would uphold the Catholic values and, whether one agrees with him or not, he was simply answering a question about Trump in accordance with those values.

Mexican crime reporter found dead


Mexican journalist Anabel Flores Salazar was found dead on the side of a highway Tuesday after being abducted from her Veracruz home in the early morning hours Monday.

Salazar, who reported crime for the Mexican newspaper El Sol de Orizaba, was found naked and bound in the state of Puebla, according to the Puebla Attorney General’s office.

According to Salazar’s aunt, who witnessed the abduction, the kidnappers entered the home with an alleged warrant for Salazar’s arrest.

The death reports that followed are unfortunately the norm in many countries outside of the U.S. According to CNN, Salazar was one of 11 reported journalist murders in the Veracruz state within the past five years. Regrettably, that number doesn’t include at least 10 other Mexican journalists who have gone missing or whose murders remain mysteries.

Although Mexico boasts a special prosecutor for crimes against freedom of expression, the very fact that such a thing exists in the country is evidence that major changes need to be made to protect journalists’ rights.

It is the 21st century and freedom of speech and the press should be a fundamental right for all journalists worldwide, let alone all people, without fear of persecution.

This request may be difficult to make a reality given Mexico’s longstanding crime and corruption and it’s impossible to keep journalists safe from all harm, but it should at least serve as some motivation to take action.

It’s an extremely sad day for the world as a whole, when a person is killed for doing her job courageously and attempting to uncover the truth.

Major changes needed to be made for reporters in more dangerous countries, and how to make those changes will be an even more strenuous undertaking. But, as of now, justice will come only when the Mexican government convicts Salazar’s killers and develops a system to more fervently protect its reporters.

Zika virus: Should we fear the worst?


The recent Zika virus outbreak has caused concern around the globe and continues to dominate headlines and newscasts each day.

Zika is a virus transmitted through infected mosquitoes in tropical regions, namely South and Central America. The disease is most problematic for pregnant women, as the virus has been linked to a birth defect known as microcephaly.

Any person who turns on a television or a computer to stay up-to-date on current events can tell you that Zika is spreading rapidly.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, was recently quoted as saying, “It isn’t as if it’s turning around and dying out, it’s getting worse and worse as the days go by.”

Comments like Fauci’s, which many Zika-related stories seem to be filled with, have the ability to spark fear in millions of people around the globe.

However, a recent article by CNN Specialist Dr. Tom Frieden paints the virus in a different light.

According to Frieden, who is a director at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  “from the information we know now, widespread transmission in the contiguous United States appears to be unlikely.”

And while the Zika threat definitely should not be taken lightly, Frieden also states that “science doesn’t have a crystal ball, but the CDC has great laboratories and the world’s best disease detectives.”

Frieden’s article highlights one main point: Zika virus is a serious issue, but it is important to put a health crisis like this into perspective.

The likelihood of many Americans being infected by the virus is small, and the CDC has also dealt with serious crises like Ebola and avian influenza in past years.

The media tend to take disease outbreaks and cover the situation in excess, causing people to assume that each and every new disease has the potential to exterminate humanity.

It is undoubtedly important to do your research and stay informed during an outbreak. But, before you let Zika virus dictate how you live your life, keep your eyes open for lesser known facts and opinions that the media may not put on the front page.