The Joni Ernst/Chuck Grassley combo in Iowa's U.S. Senate races

Herb Strentz explores rhetoric from Iowa’s 2014 and 2020 U.S. Senate campaigns and finds parallels between our two Republican senators. -promoted by Laura Belin

Labor Day in even-numbered years usually brings more public interest in politics and the final stage of hopeful campaigns for Congress or the presidency.

This time around, many are driven by dread — dread of elections past, and, oh yeah, fears for the one coming on November 3.

Small wonder, given what “We the people” have inflicted upon ourselves.

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Trump’s takeover of Voice of America

Mary Weaver is an active citizen, rural health advocate, farm wife, mom, grandmother, retired nurse, and former administrator at the Iowa Department of Public Health. -promoted by Laura Belin

“We are living in an age when communication has achieved fabulous importance. There is a new decisive force in the human race, more powerful than all the tyrants. It is the force of massed thought–thought which has been provoked by words, strongly spoken.”
 
–Robert Sherwood, originator of the Voice of America 1939 

Lost in the ever-evolving news cycle was President Donald Trump’s recent appointment of Michael Pack as the new administrator of the United States Agency for Global Media. This appointment was quickly followed with the dissolution of the advisory boards of Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund.

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State won't clarify how Iowa counts COVID-19 deaths

This project started with the goal of clearing up some confusion surrounding Iowa’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) death statistics.

Specifically, I wanted to debunk a conspiracy theory making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.

I also planned to explain why the number of deaths for a given day on the state’s official website (coronavirus.iowa.gov) didn’t always match the number of new deaths that had been announced on that date. Many readers had asked about the discrepancy.

I was almost ready to publish in early July, but I needed to nail down one detail. Did the total fatalities on the state website (793 at this writing) reflect all of what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control describes as “multiple cause” COVID-19 deaths, or only what the CDC labels “underlying cause” deaths?

After asking that question more than half a dozen times over two and a half weeks, I still haven’t received an answer. So much for the Iowa Department of Public Health’s supposed “transparency” and “constant communication with media” on the pandemic.

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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.

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Ousted staffer pulls back curtain on Iowa's COVID-19 information blockade

“I am embarrassed and saddened by the way the media has been treated during COVID,” Polly Carver-Kimm wrote in an email to the Des Moines Register on July 15. “You are not receiving timely answers and you are getting scripted talking points when you do get an answer.”

Carver-Kimm discussed the state’s handling of press inquiries hours after being shown the door as communications director for the Iowa Department of Public Health.

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Perhaps Justice should rear its head, too

Herb Strentz comments on reactions to George Floyd’s killing, including “a white person’s headline” in the Sunday Des Moines Register. -promoted by Laura Belin

Ten reactions to the killing of George Floyd and protests around the nation, including, of course, in Des Moines:

1. Recall the names of four kids: Addie Mae Collins (14), Cynthia Wesley (14), Carole Robertson (14) and Carol Denise McNair (11). We’ll get back to them later.

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