# Media Criticism



The not-so-hidden costs of paid obituaries

Herb Strentz: Treating obituaries as news cemented ties between the newspaper and the community, and was great training for young reporters.

People may pay from hundreds to thousands of dollars these days to have loved ones’ obituaries published in local newspapers. But few if any ponder the impact “paid obits” have had on the newsroom.

As an old man (83) who grew up in a newsroom that routinely ran an obit as a news story, and published obits on everyone who died in town, I want to share some costs of today’s approach to obituaries.

Continue Reading...

Iowa media help Hinson, Miller-Meeks hide the ball on birth control access

All three U.S. House Republicans from Iowa voted this week against a bill that would provide a federal guarantee of access to contraception.

But if Iowans encounter any mainstream news coverage of the issue, they may come away with the mistaken impression that GOP Representatives Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks took a stand for contraception access.

The episode illustrates an ongoing problem in the Iowa media landscape: members of Congress have great influence over how their work is covered.

Continue Reading...

Mercy killing

Ira Lacher‘s open letter to Lucas Grundmeier, opinion editor or The Des Moines Register.

Dear Mr. Grundmeier,

Ordinarily, I would submit this to you as a guest opinion essay. But you’ve announced that the Register, once counted among America’s great newspapers, will no longer consider unsolicited opinion pieces. CORRECTION: The newspaper will continue to consider unsolicited guest columns but will “accept far fewer” of them in the print edition.

So I share my views on this blog, which now exists as apparently the sole outlet for members of the Des Moines community wishing to make their opinions known, civilly and responsibly.

In the print edition dated March 13, 2022, you commented about the addition of a new columnist, saying: “I believe this demonstrates the Register’s continued commitment to providing forums for robust discussion of community topics.” My response, to you and the other top executives of the “media company,” which you now call yourself: No. It doesn’t. More about that later.

Continue Reading...

Iowa tv anchor calls Biden policy "crazy"—twice

U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson gives a lot of television interviews. The first-term Republican is comfortable on the air, thanks to her broadcast journalism background. She is guaranteed friendly treatment from conservative networks like Fox News and Newsmax, and Iowa stations usually let her set the agenda with questions like, “What are you most proud of?” or, “You introduced a bill in the House. Just tell me more about that bill and what it does.”

Last week, KWWL’s morning anchor Daniel Winn went beyond pitching softballs to amplifying Hinson’s talking points. More troubling, Winn twice characterized a controversial Biden administration initiative as “crazy.”

Continue Reading...

Iowa journalists form new group, with politicians as gatekeepers

After months of planning, journalists announced the creation of the Iowa Capitol Press Association on November 30. The group’s mission “is to support robust coverage of Iowa state government for the benefit of the public and to promote policies that encourage transparency and access” as well as safe working conditions for reporters.

Association president Erin Murphy of Lee Newspapers said in a news release, “Our members have enjoyed a respectful working relationship with our leaders in state government. We look forward to working with them to foster a climate of transparency and accountability, for the benefit of the people of Iowa.”

For now, Republican legislative leaders and their partisan appointees will have the final say on who can participate in the association.

Continue Reading...

Being objective about "objectivity"

Herb Strentz was dean of the Drake School of Journalism from 1975 to 1988 and professor there until retirement in 2004. -promoted by Laura Belin

After almost 60 years of coping with the concept of “objectivity” in journalism, it finally dawned on me that a key problem is a lot of folks are not objective in discussing “objectivity.”

Consider: The New Yorker magazine offered a 2,026-word essay on why the concept of “moral clarity” might replace “objectivity” in assessing press coverage. The Economist magazine followed a week or so afterward with a 1,530 word essay on today’s status of “objectivity.”

But in those 3,500 words — get this — “Fox” or “Fox News” is nowhere to be found.

Continue Reading...
View More...