News Round Up: best and worst from 7-21 to 7-26

Paula Deen’s cook tells of slights, steeped in history: In an interview with some of Paula Deen’s former staff, the quotes Kim Severson includes in her New York Times article both validate and strike down the racially charged lawsuit brought upon the famous southern cook. Deen’s so-called soul-sister talks of racial slights from the chef, but also a close friendship and good times. Over all, Severson’s article is well reported and includes an important thread about the undeniable racial implications of southern food, while telling a very complicated story behind the lawsuit. It doesn’t make either side a clear winner, but it certainly exposes the underlying factor: food.

The moment Weiner was waiting for: Garance Franke-Ruta not only summarizes Weiner-gate part 2 in her succinct Atlantic piece, but also points out that he was probably hoping for this post-scandal scandal to come out. If he has hope, Franke-Ruta points out that “after today Anthony Weiner, strange as it may be to say, is one difficult step closer to his eventual comeback.”

How midwives have become critical in war zones: After reports of the exorbitant cost of birth in the U.S. comes Dana Farrington’s NPR piece on the unsafe and unstable birthing conditions in war-torn countries (or post-battle areas). Farrington writes of the scarcity of water and food in areas like the Congo and Syria, never mind the availability of qualified doctors available to pregnant women. In places like these, midwives are a lifeline.

Many New York women are baffled at loyalty shown by Weiner’s wife: Why? This New York Times article surveys a bunch of ladies-who-lunch, looking for opinion on why Huma Abedin is standing by Anthony Weiner through myriad sexting scandals. Really though, who knows and why are we speculating? There are so many reasons ranging from love to ambition that might keep Abedin tied to Weiner, or maybe there is no reason at all. In other words, let’s focus on whether or not Weiner is fit to be mayor, not why his wife still wears her ring.

Shameless Plug: My good bro and smartest friend Rick Berger wrote a great piece on Edward Snowden over at Medium.com. Check it out: Silver Linings Snowden

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News Round Up: best and worst from 7-14 to 7-19

This week’s round up is almost all about the ladies. Sorry I’m not sorry.

It’s time for an end to women’s stories: Through the first lines of this story, I was skeptical, but by the end, Anna North had me hooked. See, I was afraid that North was arguing for fewer stories about women (women aren’t funny, women are boring and other tropes), but she hit the nail on the head when she wrote “I am not tired of stories about women’s lives, stories that tell me something real about how a particular woman thinks or works or loves. But I am tired of ‘women’s stories,’ stories that are supposed to be about a problem that afflicts ‘women.'” Women are often lumped into one big group, which is occasionally effective but mostly just offensive. North is right: stories about individual women are fascinating, touching and raw. More of that, please.

Sex on Campus: Proving North’s point, Kate Taylor wrote about college women having sex. As many others have pointed out, Taylor’s article is outdated and shaming, profiling women who enjoy casual sex but ending the article with a cautionary tone. It assumes that all women who have casual sex are not interested in intimacy, and those who are not interested in casual sex have a solid head on their shoulders. I have little to say about this article that hasn’t been said, so I’ll link instead.

HIV divides lesbians in South Africa: For what could have been an informative and emotional piece, J. Lester Feder’s Buzzfeed article falls incredibly short. This topic is rich with emotion, drama, and (journalistically) angles. I would have much preferred one or a few people profiled closely, rather than a technical analysis with snippets of human interaction. Profiling people on opposite sides of the argument could have given all the narrative needed to hit home with this piece. Instead, Feder provides some information and quotes, but overall, fails to establish himself or his sources as experts on the subject. This issue does need to be discussed, though, so props for that.

Better Journalism: If it’s not about women, it’s about the media. This Poynter article asks if the Zimmerman trial can lead us to a better journalism that embraces subjectivity, while encouraging an open mind. I’m not sure how to feel about this. While I think an opinionated article can be helpful, I don’t think it has any place in a newspaper but the opinions page. Magazines and blogs are rife with articles from one side or the other, and that’s ok. Understanding the difference between commentary and reporting is important. Kelly McBride’s Poynter piece advocates a mix of the two in order to achieve an audience that is fully educated and active in their news gathering experience. I think it might serve the opposite, though, making an audience that thinks opinion is fact and further divides the gap between sides that McBride hopes to bridge. This is certainly a well-intentioned and interesting piece, though. It’s worth some thought.

And of course, the Tsarnaev cover: I will admit I have not read the article attached to this cover yet. I am sure the article is reported well and is most likely an interesting and important piece of journalism. The cover, though. Why the picture that looks like a possible OK Cupid profile picture? Why not a mugshot, or one of him walking into court? I think Rolling Stone is right in that this should be the cover story, but they missed the mark. Mistakes happen, even horrible offensive mistakes. Your journalistic reputation lies in how you handle them.

News Round Up: best and worst from 7-8 to 7-12

Woman’s Work: By far my favorite feature from this week was Francesca Borri’s account of being a female freelancer in Syria, risking her life for $70 per article and zero recognition. Published on July 1, it shows the realities of the media, war and what it means to be a woman amongst the chaos.

How the media outrageously blew the IRS Scandal: Alex Seitz-Wald wrote a good analysis of how the media screwed up the recent IRS “scandal,” blowing it out of proportion for a few key reasons. For me, this piece illustrates the harm that the 24-hour news cycle does, but as one of his sources said, “it’s the reality of how the media works and is unlikely to change.”

Base Boston: This Boston Magazine article about the Coast Guard base in the North End is chilling. When a US coast Guard member is raped, he or she is often sent to the Boston base to end his or her career. Janelle Nanos points out that the Coast Guard exiles and shames them, forcing them out. A major failure on the Coast Guard’s part, and important to recognize.

AP calls sex trafficking of a child a ‘career’:This story is old, but came to my attention this week as the worst in a while. It opens calling a 9 year old a career prostitute. A 9 year old does not have the capacity to enter a career as a sex worker, he or she is trafficked. The story went on to chronicle one former sex worker’s rehab for drug-addicted prostitutes and the like, using insensitive language and incorrect information. Ramit Plushnick-Masti fails in a big way with this story. Here is the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation response.

And in the most WTF news of the week: Sharknado. As a result of this mystifying film, this question was asked in real life “The film raises a serious question: Could a sharknado happen in real life?”  No, I’m not kidding. Yes, there was a full article. It’s tounge-in-cheek, but still, UGH.

[Sometimes I read the news late, sorry guys!]