Enquirer accused of covering for Trump


Popular celebrity magazine The National Enquirer is being accused of buying and burying stories that portray President Trump in an unfavorable light. This practice is known as “catch and kill.” It’s thought that David Pecker, publisher of the Enquirer and longtime friend of Trump, has been doing this as a favor to the president.

All the purchased stories relate to allegations of Trump having affairs.

According to the Washington Post, the source allegedly paid off by the National Enquirer is a former Trump Tower doorman, Dino Sajudin, who told the Enquirer that Trump had a child outside of wedlock and that top executives of the Trump Organization were aware. Sajudin claims to have been paid $30,000 for the exclusive rights to the story but the Enquirer never published it.

As reported by CNN, another source coming forward is Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model. McDougal was paid $150,000 for her account of an affair with Trump that lasted nine months. Allegedly, the deal included an agreement that McDougal would publish regular columns on aging and fitness in the Enquirer. McDougal’s story was never run, and only a small portion of the agreed-to columns were published. American Media Inc. claims that McDougal did not write the columns.

Trump has denied all allegations of cheating.

Of all the news outlets that I read from to learn more about this story, I found the one with the most comprehensive coverage of this story was CNN. CNN’s homepage had more stories on this scandal than the Miami Herald, The Washington Post and The New York Times. On the Herald’s homepage, there was not a single story on the scandal to be found today. I found this surprising because it’s a story of national relevance. In the case of the Times, I had to scroll to find a link to the story.

I think this speaks to how desensitized news outlets are becoming to the latest Trump scandals and also how difficult it is to report on a Trump scandal when there are so many happening all the time.

The CNN coverage took many angles. There was an article reporting on the “catch and kill” practice and on Pecker and another article reporting on the different sources paid off by the Enquirer. CNN also published a poll on what Americans think of the Enquirer’s coverage of Trump. The website also had a video uploaded with reporters discussing the story. I found this to be very comprehensive coverage, and I feel that I learned the most from CNN.

The coverage by the New York Times focused more on the investigation into the Enquirer and its possible ties to the Trump campaign. The investigation is sparking a First Amendment debate and it is looking into whether any campaign laws were violated.

If it’s true that the Enquirer is engaging in this “catch and kill” practice as a favor to Trump, I think that’s a very troubling ethical issue. Journalism is supposed to speak truth to power, not facilitate its lies.

UM student drives car into campus canal


On April 5, a University of Miami student drove his car into a canal connected to Lake Osceola.

University and Coral Gables police responded to the call at approximately 8:30 p.m. There were no injuries. The student’s car, a silver Nissan convertible, was fished out of the lake by a crane.

Officers on the said told Miami Hurricane reporters that the driver lost control of the car while cutting another driver off to enter a parking space. He was described as “driving too fast for road conditions.” A concrete parking barrier on Stanford Drive was destroyed when the car jumped the curb.

The Miami Hurricane did an excellent job at reporting this story. Their initial coverage was a “breaking news” Facebook post. The newspaper does these kinds of Facebook posts often, making them a convenient source to check immediately in the aftermath of an incident.

The Facebook post was very brief, stating simply that a car drove into the canal by the Whitten University Center, that there was no information on passengers or injuries, and that updates would be forthcoming. The post was accompanied by a slideshow of pictures taken at the scene, adding a compelling and informative visual element to the story.

The post was later updated as promised. The update mentioned that there were no injuries, that the driver was a UM student, and that the driver was speeding.

A news article was posted very quickly by The Miami Hurricane. It included a number of relevant quotes from police on the scene and from Pat Whitely, the vice president of Student Affairs.

The Miami Herald also reported on the story. While it is a very local story to Coral Gables, it makes sense that the Herald would report on it since it is unusual, and many outside of the Coral Gables area are interested in what occurs on the UM campus. The Herald pulled most of its information from the Hurricane, illustrating the reach and influence student news media can achieve when the reporting is reliable, well-written, and well-managed.

Fox News show host mocks student


Fox News weeknight host Laura Ingraham is embroiled in a controversy after mocking Parkland student activist David Hogg’s college rejections.

Ingraham retweeted an article posted by right-wing website The Daily Wire with the headline “Gun Rights Provocateur David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied.”

“David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it,” Ingraham commented in her retweet. “Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA…totally predictable given acceptance rates.”

Soon after, Hogg took to Twitter to ask his followers to ask companies who advertise during Ingraham’s show to pull their ads. Many of these companies, such as Hulu and TripAdvisor, have already listened to the public outcry and are now boycotting Ingraham’s show.

Ingraham has since apologized on Twitter for her comments. Hogg has not accepted her apology, stating that “an apology in an effort to save your advertisers is not enough” and that he will only accept the apology if Ingraham denounces the way Fox News has treated the student activists from Parkland.

Most of the drama in this story played out on Twitter. Ingraham’s initial comments and apology, Hogg’s responses and calls to boycott, and some companies’ statements of pulling their support were all tweets.

As a result, most news organizations have embedded many of the tweets in their coverage of the story. I found that the more tweets a news organization embedded, the more engaging I found the article.

For example, The Washington Post included the most tweets out of any of the articles I read, and I found that that was the article I enjoyed most. Being able to see the exact tweets allowed me to see the article Ingraham retweeted and click on it, making the story more interactive. It also made for a visually appealing article since the embedded tweets broke up the blocks of text.

Other outlets, such as The New York Times and CNN, included only one tweet. I found that decision puzzling given how much of the story played out on Twitter and it made the stories a duller read.

I also found that embedding the tweets made the articles flow better, since tweets can be very awkward to quote due to their conversational nature and usage of links and hashtags.

FIU bridge news reporting shifts focus


On March 15, the pedestrian bridge being built over the intersection of SW Eighth Street and SW 109th Avenue near the Florida International University campus unexpectedly collapsed.

There were six deaths, including an 18-year-old student at FIU and a worker for the bridge inspection company.

The story received a lot of national coverage and was featured prominently on major news media such as The New York Times and CNN. While those sites continue to periodically post stories, they have toned down their coverage as other stories emerge. This is in stark contrast to the Miami Herald, which continues to prominently feature the story on its site. This difference makes sense, since the story is a local tragedy in Miami and thus will be more relevant to the readership of the Miami Herald.

The coverage the Miami Herald has given the story has evolved. Initially, the coverage focused on providing updates on the death toll and posting videos of the collapse recorded by bystanders. There were also articles coming out on the history of the construction company and design firm behind the bridge and past projects of theirs, which continue to come out now. The coverage now is focusing more on the emotional impact the collapse has had on the survivors and on remembering the victims. There is also a greater volume of speculative articles regarding possible causes of the collapse.

Shalala running for Congress


On March 7, former UM president Donna Shalala announced her candidacy as representative of Florida’s 27th Congressional district.

Shalala is one of many contenders vying for the vacancy created by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s retirement. Shalala is running as a Democrat. Her platform includes issues such as LGBTQ rights and environmental conservation.

The Miami Hurricane did an excellent job of covering this story.

On Feb. 14, they published a speculative piece discussing the rumors that Shalala would run for Congress. This article displayed a commitment to the story and indicates that they were on top of any developments long before Shalala filed for candidacy.

There are also a number of corrections on the bottom of the article dated Feb. 16. These corrections show their transparency, since they could’ve made the corrections and not announced it in order to not risk a negative perception of their mistakes. They also could have avoided any corrections and hoped nobody would notice, which would have been very lazy reporting.

The Miami Hurricane’s Facebook page was very prompt in posting Shalala’s announcement on March 7. The timestamp on their “Breaking News” post was 10:39 a.m. The next post on their page was of a complete article on Shalala’s announcement, posted at 11:08 a.m. This gap of about half an hour shows how quick they were to produce a complete article in order to provide readers the full story in a timely manner.

In comparison, The Miami Herald’s Facebook page did not post about Shalala’s announcement until 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Granted, The Herald has many other stories they need to be covering and Shalala is a campus icon at UM, making her story one worth prioritizing for The Miami Hurricane.

The story by the Miami Herald focused on Shalala’s anti-Trump platform, her Clinton connections and what the competition will be like for that congressional seat. The story by The Miami Hurricane focused much more on the impact the news had on campus and included quotes from UM administrators, such as Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely, and faculty such as Associate Professor of Political Science Joseph Uscinski.

The Miami Hurricane story also focused on Shalala’s impact during her tenure at UM to a greater extent than The Miami Herald did. These differences are illustrative of how different newspapers report their stories based on the audience. Whereas The Herald must tailor their stories to a greater Miami audience, The Hurricane can focus more on capturing the attention of the UM community, a much more specific audience.

More companies cutting ties with NRA


In the wake of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., many companies have cut ties with the NRA.

Gun control activists have been increasing the pressure on companies to end their relationships with the NRA. The list of companies that have done so includes major airlines such as United and Delta and rental car services such as Hertz.

Much of the pressure being put on companies is happening on Twitter. Twitter users have been tweeting at companies asking them to publicly state their stance on the NRA and to reevaluate their relationships with the NRA in light of the NRA’s pushback on strengthened gun control legislation.

Many of the companies have been using Twitter to make these announcements, which makes sense given that much of the pressure to cut ties is happening on Twitter. Many articles covering this developing story have included screenshots or links to tweets from the various companies that have cut ties.

I find that including the tweet is more visually appealing than simply copying and pasting the company’s statement into quotes for the text of the story. Including the screenshot also allows readers to see if the tweet was in response to a user or a stand-alone tweet, which is a detail that some readers want to know.

Parkland continues to dominate news


More than a week later, the mass shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High in Parkland, Fla., continues to be the biggest talking point for most news organizations.

A quick visit to CNN or The New York Time’s websites will reflect this, as the stories closest to the top of the page and in the biggest fonts are related to Parkland. Even stories about the Winter Olympics or new developments from the Mueller probe into the Russia investigation, stories that at any other point in time would eat up most of the space on the homepage of any news organization, have not been garnering the same attention as any of the stories related to the Parkland shooting.

This is a typical occurrence with mass shootings. Tragedies such as these come as shocks to the community and to the country as a whole and we find ourselves unable to turn away our attention from the aftermath. Writing and profiles of victims and survivors become a means of paying respect to them.

Another aspect of mass shootings that keeps them in the news is the political debate over gun control and mental health that always follows. Some recent examples of this are the stories on the chief of the NRA attacking Democrats about their gun control stance and Trump’s suggestion that we let teachers be armed and incentivize them to carry guns with a bonus. Many marches and demonstrations have happened, and more are being planned, each one garnering coverage.

Details continue to emerge about the shooting, consistently reigniting interest in the story and leading to more stories. For example, a recent look at the police response found that an armed school resource deputy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School never went into the building where the killer was, drawing intense criticism. The deputy has since been suspended following an internal investigation.

Mass shootings lead to difficult choices


On Feb. 14, a gunman entered Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and started shooting. There were 17 fatalities, making it one of the top 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

The gunman, identified as 19-year-old expelled student Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15, the weapon of choice for many mass shooters. His motives are still unknown. He confessed in court to the shooting.

Much of the early information around this shooting came from social media posts by students trapped inside the school. Students barricaded in classrooms would tweet out safety updates or videos of the chaos. This ability to get live updates from inside a situation was unthinkable just a few years ago and allows for reporters and the rest of the outside world to have more information sooner.

However, there are many possible problems over reporting from these social media posts.

One possible problem is in regards to fact-checking. Much of what a student tweets could potentially be based off of incorrect assumptions or limited knowledge of the situation. In a situation such as this shooting, a news reporter needs to take extra care to not cause panic by disseminating false information, especially since social media allows for that false information to make its way back to other students in the same situation.

There is also the question of whether news media coverage is over-exposing people to violence.

Since the Parkland shooting, many people have questioned how necessary it is to see every dead body and puddle of blood. Some worry that it’s a violation of privacy and an act of disrespect to victims and their families. Many psychologists raise concerns that over-exposure to graphic images could worsen cases of acute stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. There is also concern over people becoming desensitized to horrific violence.

However journalists decide to handle the inclusion of social media posts and graphic images in their reporting of mass shootings, I feel that the most important thing is to balance the need for truth and facts with respect for the tragedy.

Rap superstar Drake visits UM campus


Rapper Drake visited the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus Monday afternoon to film a music video for his hit song “God’s Plan” and donate a $50,000 scholarship to a student.

Drake’s visit whipped up a frenzy on campus, drawing a large crowd around the Shalala Student Center hoping to catch a glimpse of him.

Drake swung by the Frost School of Music where a smaller crowd watched as he surprised UM student Destiny James, a public health major, with a $50,000 scholarship. James was under the impression she would be filming a video to encourage scholarship donors when Drake appeared.

At the Shalala Student Center, the crowd’s patience was eventually rewarded when Drake popped out on the Moss Terrace balcony. He danced to “God’s Plan” while the crowd sang along to the track. Cheers erupted every time he threw up the U.

Throughout all of this, The Miami Hurricane, the UM student newspaper, did an excellent job of following the events of Drake’s visit and keeping students informed. There was an article on the online site that was continuously updated with new information and interviews of student reactions. By 9 a.m. the next day, the newspaper sent out a Drake edition of its newsletter for subscribers. There were also print issues on the stands with Drake as the cover story.

The Miami Hurricane effectively utilized social media. There were many tweets updating their followers with pictures of Drake sightings, videos of the crowd and Drake’s performance, and stories from the crowd. Their Facebook also had a number of videos.

Brady upset over radio host’s remark


New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady cut short a telephone interview on a Boston sports radio show Monday morning, citing an incident last week in which a host referred to his daughter as “an annoying little pissant.”

“So I’ll obviously evaluate whether I want to come on this show again,” Brady said to the hosts of the “Kirk & Callahan Show” shortly before ending the call.

Brady has appeared on the “Kirk & Callahan Show” every Monday throughout this football season.

Alex Reimer, the host responsible for the derogatory comment, is a frequent guest on the show, which airs on WEEI 93.7 FM. However, when he commented on Brady’s daughter, it was during his Thursday evening show aired by the same station. The comment was prompted by a discussion on Brady’s Facebook documentary series “Tom vs. Time,” in which his daughter appears. Reimer was suspended indefinitely by WEEI on Friday over the comment.

WEEI released a statement Monday evening apologizing to Brady, his family and the New England Patriots organization. The statement refers to Reimer’s remarks as “utterly indefensible” and asserts that “mean-spirited commentary directed in any way at children is wholly inappropriate.”

During the Super Bowl LII opening night event on Monday, Brady seemed forgiving and told reporters that he hopes Reimer does not lose his job.

“We all have careers and make mistakes,” Brady said. “I’d hate for someone to have to change their life over something like that. That was certainly not what he intended.”

Regardless of whether Reimer is allowed to return to the air, the incident serves as a cautionary tale regarding appropriate journalistic boundaries. While Reimer had every right to express his opinions regarding Brady’s documentary, he displayed an extreme lack of professionalism in disparaging a 5-year-old.