Opinion-based news now dominates


A lot has changed since Donald Trump has become president, especially in the world of news. Many of the main news outlets that American viewers used to trust have now turned into public enemy No. 1.

To be completely honest, at this point, I cannot even remember how it used to be. Maybe news was polarizing then and no one noticed, but it is especially polarizing now. While news used to be publicized as only stating facts and communicating information, many news stations have turned into a contest.

Fox News and MSNBC are some of the more common networks referred to by the president. Fox News is usually mentioned in President Trump’s favor, while MSNBC is more looked at as the anti-Trump cable network. This is up for interpretation, however, and it is up for the public to decide which to watch and support.

After watching a video titled, “Cooper: Trump Declared emergency, headed to Mar-a-Lago,” I started thinking about the idea of opinion based news. The video showed Anderson Cooper questioning Donald Trump’s sincerity regarding the national emergency. Cooper even mentions that Trump headed over to West Palm Beach for a few days to relax rather than work at the White House.

The video mostly presented facts. It said when Trump arrived, what he had been doing and the results of Trump’s declaration of emergency. Cooper does not add his opinion too much in the video and he even says some comments in Trump’s defense. While the reporting was done well, I think Cooper did mildly insert his opinion through the tone and delivery of facts in the story.

People trust reporters and anchors to deliver the news. I would expect that most people would also want the news to be delivered in an unbiased way. The news should provide information, while viewers should shape their own opinion about what they saw. Without the trust and hope for unbiased reporting, we stray farther and farther away from what people want and become too reliant on opinion rather than facts.

Removal of net neutrality considered


This Tuesday, Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, announced his plans to repeal the regulations of net neutrality passed in the Obama-era.

In February 2015, Tom Wheeler, Democrat chairman of the FCC at the time, gave the agency the ability to protect net neutrality. Net neutrality, also known as the open internet, is defined by USA Today as “the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, without favoring some sources or blocking others.”

ISPs are the companies that provide internet access such as Verizon and AT&T. Content providers are companies which create and distribute information, such as Facebook, Netflix and Google.

The net neutrality rules prohibit ISPs from discriminating by slowing down or blocking the delivery of data or any content of information you want to access. Without these rules, ISPs can slow down the content of its competitors and block political opinions that they do not agree with. If the regulations of net neutrality would be removed, ISPs would be allowed to charge content providers for a faster delivery of their content on “fast lanes,” and intentionally slow down content providers with whom they compete with.

Pai wants to replace the agency’s rules with “voluntary” conditions, meaning that the ISPs are not required to comply with them.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” said Pai, chairman of the FCC, “Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Many articles disagree with the removal of net neutrality regulations, analyzing all the negative consequences this could have on the free flow of information and ideas. Many reports focused on companies that do not have the money to pay for “fast lanes.” For example, small businesses may suffer, as they rely on the open internet to create new markets and advertise. Political and social movements may be silenced if their ideas go against what the ISPs want, which would mean that the ISPs would be blocking speech.

The FCC will vote on the removal of net neutrality on Dec. 14. Since the announcement proposing the removal net neutrality, millions of opponents have commented on the internet, finding ways to prevent the unveiling of this principle.

Reporters have covered the issue in detail, giving voice to many opponents of the plan. Treating the issue of maintaining net neutrality as a form of saving the internet. Reporters have been very direct, giving numerous invitations to the readers to try and stop the removal of this principle.

The nation’s media reform network, Free Press, says: “We have three weeks to save the Internet.”

Purge shakes up Saudi government


This past weekend, a slew of arrests were ordered by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The arrest targeted many influential people in the Arabian government, including Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the kingdom’s riches investor, and Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, the most potent threat to Prince Mohammed’s power.

The arrests were the result of orders from an anti-corruption committee formed by the Crown Prince just hours before the arrests. Through a royal decree, the committee reportedly had the power to detain individuals or seize assets without trial or due process.

According to USA Today, the Saudi Arabian news media praised the arrests as a long awaited cleanup. President Donald Trump also appeared to be in favor of the arrests, praising the Crown Prince’s modernization drive in a recent phone call.

There are also concerns abroad and in Saudi Arabia, however, that the Crown Prince’s domination of the Saudi Arabian political scene is a turn for the worst. Scholars, such as James M. Dorsey from Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, are concerned that international businesses will see a threat to their assets in the Crown Prince’s aggressive behavior, effectively driving away the very business he wished to attract. Former U.S. ambassador Charles W. Freeman expressed concern about the possibility of a government even more corrupt than before, now that the Crown Prince is in firm control of Saudi Arabia.

USA Today worked diligently to create a story that was both a sufficient cover and analysis of the current events in Saudi Arabia. The story told what happened, what it might mean, and provided a brief history of modern Saudi Arabian politics to support their analysis. The newspaper also included analysis from sources outside the conflict, bringing different perspectives into the debate. Appropriately enough, they did not provide a conclusion, saying only time will tell what will happen after these drastic events: a wise ending that gives readers plenty of room to interpret the situation for themselves and draw their own conclusions.

Trump releases JFK documents


After numerous tweets and pushback in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 26, President Donald Trump released approximately 2,800 records on the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.

Today, people are in a unique position that allows them to care about this information more than some may have in the past. Because of the widespread use of the internet, almost everyone now has access to these documents. These documents can help solve some mysteries for Americans concerning the death of JFK, and students alike to help them learn more about the history and outcome of the assassination.

But, JFK was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, which raises the question: after nearly 54 years, why do we care to learn more? The answer can be quite simple – accessibility.

Until recently, people would only have access to the information that was provided to them on traditional TV news, radio, magazines and newspapers. As a result, people could only follow a story as long as a predominant news outlet was continuing to cover the story. Today, however, that is no longer the case.

People have more access to information as a result of the mass use of the internet and data sharing.

President Trump has remained as unconventional as promised during his 2016 campaign trail. And while this case is no exception, it marks a new shift in data sharing that hasn’t been seen before.

Throughout modern history, the JFK assassination documents were held confidential within the federal government for a variety of reasons, most notably, for national security. As a result, none of these classified documents were either shared, nor discussed with the general public.

Trump broke this boundary, but he did something more – he allowed the news media to open a new dialogue and new platform for research. Because of the internet, people can not only engage and view these documents, but they can simultaneously conduct outside research from the comfort of their own laptop computers.

The release of these documents came as a surprise to many, but it showed how, as an online culture, people have shifted, and allowed themselves to be interested in topics that aren’t just breaking news stories or stories which only directly impact them.

In today’s news reporting, most people view these stories online. Through this new medium of sharing content, news organizations are able to include different types of news media such as videos, interactive photos and hyperlinks to outside sources – none of which are able to be included in traditional print publications.

When reading the news about the JFK documents, readers are able to click on a link leading them directly to the documents. This is something that, even 10 years ago, was not widely available or used.

Halloween decorations draw police


Halloween is coming soon, meaning that American homes are decorated with pumpkins, ghosts and other original decorations, ready for trick-or-treaters to come on the night of Oct. 31.

This year, just as every year, some homes seemed to have crossed the line using controversial decorations that terrified and profoundly offended viewers. Making us question when do we know when we cross a line? How objective is this issue?

This year, in New Jersey, Kevin and Krysten Negrotto displayed in their front yard a white Toyota all covered in blood. The car was pinning a body against a tree, surrounded with police tape showing a bloody crime scene.

The neighbors of this couple find the display so disturbing that they think it should be considered a crime. The cops showed up at the Negrotto house, with complaints received about the set up from the neighbors who requested its removal.

Kyrsten Negrotto, 27, posted on Facebook saying the officers “LOVED” the display and encouraged them to add more to it. Kyrsten wrote “It’s a free country! … stop wasting these officers’ time on stupid complaints over our HALLOWEEN decor when they could be out saving real lives! It’s all about zombies. It’s about HALLOWEEN.”

The couple has a 5-year-old son, and claimed that it is just for fun and they didn’t mean any harm. Kyrsten Negrotto told a news source “We don’t mean to offend anyone. We do it for the love of Halloween. We just want kids to enjoy like we did as kids.”

Just as the Negrotto family, numerous other homes around the country received criticism, where the police had to intervene by receiving complaints on neighbors for having insulting displays. Many “offensive” decorations went viral and shared on social media. Numerous  decorations targeted by angry viewers were not just the ones considered gory, but also displays considered racially and culturally insulting.

In Parishville, N.Y., Michelle Cross displayed a figure forming a circle made from white bedsheets, surrounding a dark-face gorilla hung with a rope around his neck. A passenger took a photo of Cross’s yard and posted it on social media. By the next day, the photo was shared numerous times and had many comments. The comments suggested that the arrangement had racial connotations, as the circle of ghosts was perceived to represent the gathering of the Ku Klux Klan.

Michelle Cross took the gorilla down and just left the ghosts, out of respect to her community. Cross said, “I took it down because a few people in the neighborhood thought it was offensive for some reason,” and added, just like Kyrsten Negrotto “It is simply Halloween.”

The news media covered the stories on Halloween displays well, by including social media comments on the opinion of viewers and the displayers of the decor. One important area the reporters did not cover in the articles is the opinion of political public figures on the issue, which should also be present to address people on their freedom of expression.

The issue of offensive Halloween decorations is a very controversial topic. Displays, such as Michelle Cross’s, are open to interpretation and the fact that some people viewed it as a racial overturn is demonstrating their own subjective truth and negative view of the world. I do feel like people have the right to display whatever they think is appropriate for Halloween. If the neighbors or passersby have an issue with the display, then they can simply not look at it instead of calling the police.

Documents about JFK death released


President Trump has ordered the long-awaited release of more than 2,800 documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  However, due to pressure from the CIA and FBI, he withheld thousands of additional papers and put them on pending review before release.

These documents are a treasure for historians and conspiracy theorists who have spent years searching for information on what really happened in Dallas on the day of JFK’s assassination in 1963.  The papers include suspicions that Lyndon B. Johnson was behind the killing and other talks of mobsters and spies.

The documents had fuzzy images of CIA surveillance photos from the early 1960s.  There was a report that Lee Harvey Oswald obtained ammunition from a right-wing militia group.

Some of the files convey the drama and chaos of the days immediately after the murder  of the president.  One of them is a memo dictated by then FBI director J. Edgar Hoover on Nov. 24, 1963 after Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald as he was being moved from police headquarters to a local jail.

President Trump, who has shared his own speculation about the assassination, had a strong desire to finally open the last government files since he was campaigning for president. This was when he accused Ted Cruz’s father of being a part of the assassination.

Although Trump has rather outlandish ideas involving the killing of JFK, I believe that having released these files is a useful decision for this country.

Citizens have a right to know everything that the government knows involving this.  Having this information out there may allow people to draw firm conclusions and put conspiracy theories aside.

The act of releasing these files is really something that President Trump has done to fight against the elites and give power back to the common people.

Aside of the content of the files, the news media should report that Trump is taking a stand against big government and bureaucracy. This is a step in the right direction for our nation. Freedom of information has always fueled this nation and I hope that the major news media organizations will report Trump’s efforts in this step forward.

Sen. Jeff Flake not seeking another term


U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona who has long spoken out against President Trump and his actions, announced that he would not be seeking re-election for another term on Tuesday. His speech, which lasted 17 minutes on the Senate floor, was filled with powerful rhetoric aimed against Trump and his policies, and toward a call to action.

Flake addressed several issues that he has seen with the current state of the country, including a direct challenge to his fellow Senate Republicans.

“It is often said that children are watching,” he said. “Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, ‘Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up?’ What are we going to say?

Flake spoke at length about the principles of democracy, and how he believes the very nature of these ideals have been undermined by the current administration, quoting Lincoln, Madison and Roosevelt in an attempt to recall a past where things were different.

“We must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal,” he said. “They are not normal. Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified.”

Thanks in part to the fact that these Senate speeches are usually quite dull, the story has received much attention, but the explosion of eyes has been aided by the use of buzz words in the titles of stories, to make them pop.

“Jeff Flake Gave the Most Important Speech of 2017,” wrote CNN. All news outlets have also included links to the full transcript of the speech, and The New York Times included a video of the speech in its entirety. There were also links to related stories, including similar denunciations of the president’s policies by George W. Bush, John McCain and Bob Corker. Using these various online media strategies to keep viewers interested has also helped the story develop and has given readers across the country a deeper understanding of the importance of the speech and the issues with which it deals .

UF hosts Richard Spencer appearance


On Oct. 19, the University of Florida Gainesville campus hosted self-proclaimed alt-right white nationalist, Richard Spencer – the first college appearance for Spencer since the violent events that unfolded in Charlottesville, Va., in August.

This comes after the university originally tried to block Spencer from speaking on its campus but the decision was later appealed because UF is a public institution. Therefore, the university could not prevent someone from speaking because of his or her specific topic or beliefs.

The decision, however, was not met without great controversy. In the days leading to the event, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a State of Emergency for the county where UF’s main campus is located. Law enforcement officials from across the state have been on high-alert since Monday, Oct. 16 and Scott said he was also going to have the National Guard on standby for the event.

Once Spencer arrived on campus, there was almost immediate protest among the UF community, with many students showing their opposition to the infamous speaker. During his speech, many students stood and began shouting “black lives matter,” and “go home Spencer.”

This story received a lot of news media attention throughout the day, but some of the best coverage came from students who were right in the middle of the protests. Students began sharing short videos and photos on social media and news outlets such as CNN began sharing similar content.

For many college students, Twitter is a great tool for news coverage and this situation was no exception. Social media give people the opportunity to connect with other like-minded people, along with getting more diverse information in a timely matter.

But social media are not the only platform that was able to cover this story with a relatable point-of-view. In today’s social environment, people are quick to share their opinions, even in the news media.

Thankfully, this has paved the way for more “relatable” platforms and reporting for many. During the coverage of Spencer’s speech, the conversation in the news and online began to discuss the larger issues at hand than just Spencer’s speech, and the groups he represents.

Modern news media coverage has lead to a new dialogue for reporting and has allowed many to feel a personal connection to any given story – starting the conversation and sometimes leading to new inspirations for change.

Kid Rock considers run for Senate


Songwriter and singer Kid Rock expressed interest in running for political office on Wednesday.

“I have had a ton of emails and texts asking me if this website is real … http://kidrockforsenate.com The answer is an absolute YES,” he tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

In another tweet, the Michigan native said, “I will have a major announcement in the near future.”

The website Kid Rock referred to in his tweet features a photo of the 46-year-old wearing a hat, aviator sunglasses and a leather jacket. The website has a logo that reads “Kid Rock ’18 For US Senate.”  There is also sales of stickers, shirts, lawn signs and caps that say “Kid Rock for US Senate.”

The artist has been speculated to be a potential opponent for Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, who is up for re-election next year.

A supporter of President Donald Trump, Kid Rock performed at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“I’ll bet you he would generate as much excitement as Trump did,” said Wes Nakagiri, a Michigan Tea Party activist.

Considering that the media will do anything for an intriging story nowadays, Nakagiri is probably right.

Similar to President Trump, Kid Rock is a controversial figure.  He enjoys swearing and bashing groups of people that he is against.  In response to the uprising of white supremacists he said, “Nazis. F—ing bigots. And now again the KKK? I say F— all you racists. Stay the hell away.”

I believe that if the news media gives Kid Rock the immense amount of attention that President Trump was able to receive during the election cycle, he will easily be able to win the senate seat.

What reporters seem to be unable to understand is that negative news media attention does not necessarily hurt a candidate.  In fact, in can actually help a candidate by getting his name out to more people. Trump had a much greater amount of news media attention than Hillary Clinton. The fact that a lot of it was negative did not prevent him from winning.

Many other celebrities such as Kanye West, Mark Zuckerberg, Dwayne Johnson and Oprah Winfrey have been talking about running for public office as well.  If the news media decides to give all of these people coverage, they too are not far from the White House.

A 2020 presidential election with Kid Rock on the Republican ticket and Kayne West on the Democratic ticket is not something that far out of reach.

Social media content not regulated


Exhaustive research by The New York Times has evidenced Russian psychological strategies addressed to American citizens who shared the social media to broadcast their frustration during the 2016 presidential elections, but who lacked a well-informed vision of the matters in discussion. This manipulative dystopian weapon raises the subject of Russian agents’ intervention in United States domestic issues.

This brave Times initiative during difficult political times, which took several months of thorough investigation of thousands of posts, meets the goal of investigative journalism to discover and reveal to the public a critical hidden truth, one involving manipulation of  freedom of expression.

On the side, this report highlights another aspect of social media (Web sites like Baidu, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, Viel, Weibo, WhatsApp and YouTube have more than 100 million subscribers): while there is legislation for press and television content, there is lack of control of content of social media. You can say anything, criticize, influence, but since there are no parameters nor filters in the messages, you can also silently manipulate, distort and confuse information.

Trump, NFL clash on anthem protests


The battle of wills between the National Football League and President Donald Trump continues today, as week four of the NFL season kicks off tonight. This past week saw players, coaches and league officials from multiple organizations speak out and demonstrate acts of protest following a series of harsh comments from Trump.

The debacle began when, at a campaign rally, the president made several remarks about players who chose to kneel during the national anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” said Trump, basking in the applause of his supporters.

What was once a personal protest by a single player, Colin Kaepernick, against a rise in police brutality toward black suspects and offenders quickly became a first amendment issue, and many NFL players chose to unite against the president’s comments.

“To have the president trying to intimidate people — I wanted to send a message that I don’t condone that,” said Julius Thomas of the Miami Dolphins, who had remained standing during the anthem before this Sunday’s game. “I’m not O.K. with somebody trying to prevent someone from standing up for what they think is important.”

The protest took an especially powerful turn at the day’s match-up between the Tennessee Titans and the Seattle Seahawks, as both teams remained in the locker room during the singing of the anthem.

After the day’s games, the feud continued on social media, with players posting Instagram pictures and tweets, denouncing the president’s harsh words. Trump took to Twitter in his usual fashion, biting back: “Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!”

Week four of the NFL season begins tonight, as the Green Bay Packers face off against the Chicago Bears. Debate has been high all week, and the lasting effects of these protests remain to be seen. The media have done a good job covering the story from all points of view, finding unbiased sources who agree and disagree with the protests, as well as players and officials to comment on what the president has been saying.

Kaepernick’s critics go quiet


Last week it seemed as if every reporter had something to say about San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem. A lot of people praised his protest, but a lot of people tried to make it look as if he was being immature about the whole thing.

Fox News writer Larry Taunton asked if Kaepernick was, “a civil rights leader or just another obnoxious athlete with a bad attitude?”

Naysayers tried to skirt around Kaepernick taking a knee by making him seem as if he was just being dramatic. They tried to paint it as if it was just a ploy for attention.

But this past weekend it became abundantly clear why Kaepernick was taking a knee during the anthem.

The video of Terrence Crutcher getting shot in Tulsa with his hands up by police validates everything he has been kneeling for. This man was complying with both hands up and still was fatally shot by a trigger-happy officer.

Now all the news media people who wrote off his movement as childish seem to have disappeared.

Weird right? Instead of addressing the shooting and why Kaepernick is taking a knee they’ve gone silent. I mean they were here defending the national anthem just last week so they couldn’t have gone far.

It is almost like they are avoiding the issue. But I know that’s not true. These are proud Americans. They’re just probably busy standing for the anthem and saluting posters of Uncle Sam.

Maybe if these Americans could take off their star-spangled glasses every once and awhile we could finally start to see some meaningful change in how law enforcement treats minorities in this country.

Lahren is (sad) future of journalism


Tomi Lahren is a conservative news reporter who hosts the show “Final Thoughts” on TheBlaze on the Web. It is a show where she gives her three-minute “thoughts” on an issue happening in America every couple days.

These boil down to her yelling off her imaginary high horse and saying controversial things that may or may not be true.

One of her latest “thoughts” are on professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe taking a knee during the anthem.

“Hey Megan, do you know what they do to women and gay people in many countries around the world,” Lahren said. “They stone them and throw them off buildings!”
Lahren’s argument about Rapinoe taking a knee during the anthem boils down to her saying Rapinoe should be grateful that she isn’t being stoned for being gay.
That’s awful. What’s even more awful is America’s cutest ball of hate routinely gets over six million views on these Facebook videos.

While I hope she crawls back to whatever hole she came from. I think the opposite is going to happen; more of her are going to be crawling out.

Shows like “Final Thoughts” are the future of journalism. They are perfect for the digital age. They are short. They have a couple phrases you can remember. And they generate interaction on social media.

So get ready. Because Tomi Lahren is only the beginning.

Kaepernick effect felt in hockey


The name Colin Kaepernick has probably permeated some portion of your brain tissue by now.

Kaepernick plays for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. Surprise. It’s not his play that’s getting him headlines. The 49ers haven’t played a regular season game.

Not to mention the fact he isn’t even starting.

Yet he’s found himself in the news cycle in all the major — and minor — news outlets for purposely sitting, or most recently kneeling, during The National Anthem of preseason games.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said.

The news media have reported on his choice of expression daily.

During a question and answer session with local journalists Marc Caputo (Politico), Patricia Mazzei (Miami Herald), and Dan Sweeney (Sun Sentinel), a student asked about the ongoing reporting of Kaepernick’s expression, including the reactions to the message. He wanted to know why news outlets continued to report on the same issue.

Caputo thought the relatively uncommon nature of Kapernick’s act was just cause, and fodder, for continued coverage.

Other athletes have joined in Kaepernick’s message. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane both took a knee during the anthem before games this past week.

While the protest has reached the soccer pitch, don’t expect any dissent in a hockey rink anytime soon. At least if John Tortorella is your coach.

On his radio show The Right Time with Bomani Jones, Jones brought up the remarks made by Tortorella, the United States National Team and Columbus Blue Jackets head coach.

“If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game,” Tortorella said.

I liked Jones’ take on the coach’s new rule.

“Who are you?,” Jones asked. “I’m a grown man. I get to make some of these decisions for myself. So I got to stand up for what you believe is the proper form of indoctrination.”

Well put.

A coach is there to set rules, sure. He’s not there to set the moral compass of the players he coaches, however.

It isn’t the first time Tortorella made news with his comments.

From manslaughter to media sensation


In a world filled with a never-ending stream of violent crimes, it seems as though the media always finds a way to keep the drama going.

The story of Ethan Couch is the perfect example.

The now 19-year-old’s name may sound familiar, but you probably know him better as the “affluenza” teen.

Couch, then 16, made major headlines when he received 10 years probation after being convicted of killing four people and paralyzing one while drunk driving.

The real story came after a psychologist testified for the defense that Couch should receive a lighter sentence because he was a victim of “affluenza.” Spelled out, this basically means he was a spoiled rich kid whose parents never set limits for him, therefore he didn’t understand the consequences for his actions.

This one word added to the perfect storm that already was Couch’s case: erratic parents, mental illness, lots of money and lots of drugs, just to name a few variables.

Very few news outlets neglected to mention the fact that Couch’s sentence is consistent with the norm as “very infrequently does a nonviolent, non-intentional crime land a juvenile in jail,” said Michael Yanof, one of Couch’s attorney’s.

Since the incident, Couch has been no stranger to headlines due to a series of parole violations. From a video of him at a party to a desperate flee to Mexico that landed him in jail. The media has continuously publicized this real-life Lifetime movie.

And this week, Couch is making headlines because, per the terms of his probation, a judge sentenced him to two years of jail time. This was always a possibility as a CNN article explained that “Tarrant County Prosecutor Riley Shaw has said the time to punish Couch for probation violations as a juvenile effectively expired when he turned 19.”

From a journalistic standpoint, it’s time to consider at what point this constant crime-reporting goes too far?

The details of the car crash are gruesome and lengthy. Couch’s actions have had far-reaching consequences on many people. Not to mention the families of the victims were extremely upset at what they considered to be Couch’s very light sentence.

While journalists have the total right to publish these kinds of stories, it’s important to question how to attain balance between reporting news and respecting the victims of any crime, no matter how horrific.

MLB’s Chief Wahoo logo under fire


The Cleveland Indians are undergoing some changes this season. After 100 years of sporting Chief Wahoo, the red-faced Indian logo is going to be removed.

Native Americans have been protesting the caricature since the 1970s and every opening day for 20 years there has been a protest, but only now their voices are being heard.

Native American activist Sundance told Cleveland’s Newsradio WTAM 1100, that the character is a biased and harmful stereotype which is very humiliating to their culture. He said no one would consider calling the team the Jews, even though it’s owned by Paul Dolan.

For obvious reasons, this logo is offensive. But the news media seem to shrug it off. Very few news outlets have barely covered the fact that this is still happening. These protests are happening and need to be reported.

This country is facing racial turmoil again and every news outlets seem to cover protests when African Americans are fighting for equality. How about the Native Americans who were kicked out of there country and murdered all those years ago?

It’s not fair to selectively cover racism in the country, whether this protest happens every year or every week. News coverage does not and should not have a hidden agenda and ignore the problems that are happening in the country. Especially when a major league baseball team is profiting from the stereotyping of a race.

News outlets need to report things fairly, especially racial tensions.

China’s underground churches


With descriptive language, an article in Time Magazine about Chinese people celebrating their faith in underground churches in the LightBox session is fascinating and well written.

Chinese citizens can’t express their faith legally in the country: China is officially atheist and, according to the article, the China’s ruling Communist Party only allows one religion to operate within tight parameters.

The Holy Week was celebrated in the Northern China’s Hebei Province by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association that is not recognized by the Vatican as a real entity. This association has to practice its religion in underground churches with the fear of closure and imprisonment of its priests.

The article also talks about the history of Catholic churches and worshipers in China, which were repressed after the Communist revolution in 1949. There are more Protestants now in the country that are expressing their faith, but the government is trying to hold them back and asking them to “remove their crosses” or else the churches would be demolished.

What I liked about  this story is that it has a lot of details, it is written by Time‘s East Asia bureau chief and it tells more than the current news itself, such as the history of how religions fit in the scenario of China. People are trying to express their faith even illegally and the article shows that through pictures and videos; the multimedia content brings the story to life.

In a complicated situation in which many worshipers live in China, the writer of the article knew how to stay neutral through the text and show that there are people that want to express their faith and get together with other worshipers; without taking sides but merely showing that this believers exist and need to be heard and express what they believe.

Grammys bring race issues onto stage


Under the dim lights of the stage, multiple black figures immersed from the darkness in a straight line. As the figures became closer to center stage, it became apparent that they were shackled, chained together. Even closer, it became visible that the figures were dressed as inmates. They continued to walk in unison, closer and closer to full visibility, until the leader of the line reached the microphone that waited in the center of the stage. The head of the line was award-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar and he was about to deliver a controversial, political performance on one of the largest music stages in the world: the Grammys.

Lamar, a popular African American rapper known for his songs about the struggles within the black community, delivered a powerful performance with many messages about racial injustice, African American heritage, and self-hatred intertwined. The performance began with Lamar and his background dancers in chains and dressed as prisoners while he rapped his song “The Blacker the Berry” which discusses oppression issues surrounding the Trayvon Martin case. Lamar rapped, “You hate me, don’t you? You hate my people. Your plan is to terminate my culture,” among other lyrics.

As the mood of the performance shifts, Lamar and his dancers drop their chains and begin to dance. Lamar then walks on to another set on stage with African dancers around a fire and begins to sing, “We gon’ be alright,” a lyric form another one of his popular songs. He ends the performance alone on stage, once again, rapping about racial injustice and oppression towards African Americans as an image of the continent of Africa with the word “Compton” written inside appears on a screen behind him.

Any time an artist, politician, or anyone for that matter, has the courage to speak on an issue of race on such a large stage, it is a hit or miss with the news media. Some times the individual receives enormous praise in the media while other times there is major backlash. In this case, Kendrick Lamar’s Performance was raved about within the media.

USA Today and the Los Angeles Times called Lamar’s performance “the only one that mattered.” CNN and many other popular entertainment news outlets covered his performance, all in a positive light. However, this positive reaction by the news media is drastically different from the reactions spurred by Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance.

Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance was also an attempt to bring light to the struggles of African Americans, but using a different approach. Beyonce’s back-up dancers all sported “Black Panther” attire as their outfits for the performance. Although a subtle message, this sent the media into a frenzy over Beyonce’s intentions. Some claimed the bold move was racist and anti-police.

Others connected the Black Panther reference to support for the Black Live Matter movement. Regardless, the media picks and chooses which racial messages to accept and which to reject. When one decides to discuss the “race issue” on a world stage, there is a risk attached, one that can impact the favorability of the artist in the eyes of the media.

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.

Media, society and transgender people


At a time when transgender issues have become more accepting, from Laverne Cox on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” and Caitlin Jenner, the movie released on Nov. 27,  “The Danish Girl,” is bound to get a lot of public attention.

Director Tom Hooper and Producer Anne Harrison tackle a subject matter that hasn’t fully been explored in mainstream movies. The film tells the true story of Einar, a painter who struggles with his identity in Copenhagen, 1926. Over time Einar transforms into his female alter ego, Lili Elbe, a woman who he and his wife dreamed up. Einar learns that he prefers to be in her body and struggles to find a doctor to have her cured.

Lili Elbe is one of the first-known trans women to undergo gender confirmation surgery. Viewers see her transformation and the consequences that come with it. The audience will get a grasp on the realities and politics of the early 20th century, when transgender people were considered abnormal or to have a medical condition.

Eddie Redmayne, the main character, had much difficulty getting into Lili’s role, as he wasn’t initially aware of the struggles of transgender people. The Los Angeles Times stated that he said, “In 31 states, you can still be fired for being transgender. The violence to trans women of color is confounding.”

In 2012, 53 percent of LGBT homicide victims were transgender women. The majority were transgender women of color, according to GLAAD, an organization that promotes cultural change. As Redmayne learned more about his role with the help of the transgender community, he realized the importance for the issue to be on the big-screen.

Critics in the LGBTQ community have complained about the lack of courage in having Lili’s role go to an actor who identifies with the gender assigned at birth. The Hollywood Reporter also complained by saying that people would have preferred a more adventurous approach to the story, especially since the “transgender representation has taken over from gay rights as the next equality frontier.”

Although some might argue the movie is coming out a little too late, I believe that it is the perfect time since the recent legalization of gay marriage and Jenner’s high-profile gender transition. The film will bring people an understanding of what the transgender transition process is like.

While the movie may be one step forward for the public to gain insight, I also believe that there should be other methods that people can learn about the community. If it weren’t for taking University of Miami’s gender studies course, I would not understand LGBTQ because I would only know about it from what I see on social media. The media mostly displays the physical transformation that people go through, causing viewers to misunderstand what happens psychologically.

The New Yorker stated that in a survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 41 percent of transgender respondents said they had attempted suicide. It is facts like these that should be brought to the public spotlight so people can learn from places other than celebrities and movies about the difficulties of being transgender.

UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates there are 700,000 transgender people in the United States. Yet according to a GLAAD’s poll, only 8 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender. As movies and media presence of trans people is advancing, it is time that policies and acceptance towards them are, too.