# Media



"All the news that's fit to click"

Herb Strentz laments how little news media content is geared toward having an informed electorate capable of self-government.

If the politics of the day make you uneasy or concerned with journalism aimed at entertaining, not informing, please join in this therapy session.

In the grand sweep of things, we start when, according to Shakespeare, a fatally wounded Julius Caesar uttered, “Et tu Brute?” and we end in contemporary times, as those upset with accurate reporting scream “fake news.”

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Missing in action: Copy editors, a loss to all of us

Herb Strentz: The essence of copy editing was not catching errors in spelling or grammar, but making the news more understandable.

When writing posts for Bleeding Heartland, I’ve learned that if you don’t have a good way to introduce a topic, you can find someone who does.

This commentary is about how much we’ve lost as many newspapers have all but eliminated copy editors—people who helped reporters provide the answers and clarity you expect to find in news stories, and saved them from publishing work that raised questions and confusion.

How to sum it up? Consider Michael Gartner’s recollection from when he had just begun working at the Wall Street Journal. (This was some fifteen years before he became editor of the Des Moines Register and Tribune; later he was president of NBC News and won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing as an owner and editor of the Ames Tribune.)

He recalled: “The setting is early July 1960 in the newsroom of the Wall Street Journal:

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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.

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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.

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Notes on 75 years of flying saucers

Herb Strentz, a frequent contributor to Bleeding Heartland, wrote his Northwestern University PhD dissertation on press coverage of flying saucers/unidentified flying objects. He also was a research associate with the Defense Department project on UFOs conducted by the University of Colorado in the late 1960s.

I offer some bits of UFO trivia and story telling as part of the 75th anniversary of the onset of the flying saucer phenomenon. That’s generally taken to be June 24, 1947, when Kenneth Arnold, a private pilot from Boise, Idaho, reported seeing disc-like objects over the Cascade Mountains.

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Good news, bad news

Bleeding Heartland user dbmarin is a musician, former Register reporter and sound designer. His collaboration with video artist Oyoram (7even Stories High) is currently featured at The Des Moines Art Center’s IMMERSIVE installation.

I’ll start with the good news.

It looks as if Matthew Smith, deputy superintendent for the Des Moines Public Schools, has been tapped as the interim superintendent while the district searches for Tom Ahart’s successor.

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