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Re: “Land of the Free and Uncomfortable

In an addendum comment, I must say that it is repugnant that in 2017 anyone would support a return to poll taxes, which are an ugly reminder of this nation's racist legacy that remains with us today.

As for women's right to vote, the Suffragettes are turning over in their graves. I cannot believe anyone would actually say that, let alone believe it.

Just as outrageous is anyone who believes that it should be government policy to get into the religion business. How would they go about setting up a religious bureaucracy? And, which form of Christianity would be chosen? Our representatives cannot even get a decent healthcare system for the nation. Statements from a pundit who thinks government should be smaller. Where is Jay Leno when you need him?

Posted by Glenn Franco Simmons on 07/03/2017 at 10:57 PM

Re: “Land of the Free and Uncomfortable

A very well-written and thoughtful column.

My parents and grandma also taught me that maxim; to my regret, I don't always live up to it. We are all works in progress.

While I agree with a quote that is often mistakenly attributed to Voltaire ("I dont agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it."), I do not extend my support for speech that threatens physical harm and/or murder. Free speech does not include protection to make death threats and/or threats of physical harm.

This is playing out at San Francisco State University, which is being sued (https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents…) for its alleged inability to protect Jewish students from threatening behavior. I first wrote about the issue more than a year ago for The Times of Israel and more recently on Medium after the lawsuit was filed in federal court.

The right to free speech includes allowing repugnant groups to speak, whether they are hateful bigots or peace-loving people. That it should be violently resisted or shutdown by the government is an affront to the basic right of free speech that so many Americans cherish.

Posted by Glenn Franco Simmons on 07/03/2017 at 10:24 PM

Re: “Keep a Lid on the Id

Well written piece. I contend that things are functioning as they should:
Blogs/online newspapers are free to have whatever comment policy they feel is correct for them.
The NAACP (and you) are free to ask them to amend those policies.
We are free to read any source of news (and/or comments) we desire.

Journalists are supposed to inform us, what we do with the information is really none of their business and when it becomes their focus, journalism becomes an attempt to control us.

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Posted by Frederik Kalor on 07/03/2017 at 7:25 AM

Re: “Keep a Lid on the Id

A thought-provoking column. I'd be curious as to what your students think.

I subscribe to The Press Democrat and you now have to be a subscriber to comment, although you can use a moniker other than your real name. I would change it so that only real names could be used.

I never liked anonymous comments, even when I managed newspapers. I believe that comments should be like a letter to the editor: the author is known except in the rarest of circumstances. In regard to your comment about limiting comments like a letter, that would be a good idea from my perspective.

Would requiring real names dampen readers' interest in commenting on, and reading, an online publication? Perhaps. But, when you have, as you noted, moronic threads that never seem to end, and which feature one insult after another, are those clicks really beneficial to the publication?

To get around the issue of verification and in an effort to address vitriolic comments, some online news sources have taken the Draconian step of removing the ability to comment. Others use Facebook, etc.

Then again, perhaps I'm too much of an old-fashioned throwback.

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Posted by Glenn Franco Simmons on 07/02/2017 at 6:02 PM

Re: “Land of the Free and Uncomfortable

Ann Coulter was being paid, so how much free speech vs how much someone's contract being cancelled? I say those who hired her for her services, changed their mind, same as if one cancels a contractor or any other hired help. California is at will employer state, after all.

Posted by Laura Metheney on 05/12/2017 at 4:45 PM

Re: “Land of the Free and Uncomfortable

A California University journalism mass communication professor in a bubble? Out of touch with mid-western and southern states? Wonders never cease.

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Posted by KeyboardKommander on 05/07/2017 at 11:14 AM

Re: “Land of the Free and Uncomfortable

"Here at Humboldt, a student group tried to hold a public debate this year. It invited a range of local politicians. But the group couldn't get permission from the school to hold the event because of the administration's concerns over the same public safety issues that kept Coulter from Berkeley."

Interesting self-censorship above: Burstiner, what student group? A debate on what topic? What administrator(s)? What specific concerns were articulated? Basic facts omitted from a core component of a journalism prof's arguments about first amendment issues.

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Posted by Old Leapheart on 05/05/2017 at 8:06 AM

Re: “Press Time

Where was all the righteous indignation while Obama was massively building up the perfect weapon for use in a fascist regime? That tool is called JSOC and is currently used around the world to suppress our "enemies", or perhaps to murder innocent civilians with drones.
I'm constantly amazed that people trusted all the fools that have come down the pike to "help" us. Don't forget that the Nazi party started as a left wing party.
No, I am not some nutty Trump supporter, I don't trust him in the least. I don't trust any of them.
As a matter of fact I don't trust anyone whose goal it is to be in charge of me. Remember the people who ran for class president? These are those same people on steroids.
Wake up and stop believing in any of these idiots, they are not on your side.
"Society is infested with saviors." - EM Cioran

Posted by Frederik Kalor on 02/28/2017 at 7:59 AM

Re: “Smarten Up

There are organizations in media which promulgate real news free of agenda (National Public Radio and Television stations for example) and there are organizations in media who promulgate "false" news to promote an agenda. Unfortunately, many people who vote can't discern one group from the other. If people were better educated and therefore better able to understand politics, economics, history, communication theory, science, and psychology then Trump wouldn't have stood a chance. We constantly overestimate the collective intellect of the average American voter. Too much an optimist, I suppose. We forget how many see the world through their personal paradigms formed by self-serving messages delivered by religion, Right Wing propaganda, and poverty. Desperate, semi-literate folks desperate to believe things will improve without understanding how it can make low-hanging fruit for the political agendas of the 1%, the NRA, the Alt Right, KKK, & Donald Trump. Those folks respond better to dog and pony shows than they do facts.

Posted by Phil Braun on 12/31/2016 at 2:24 PM

Re: “Smarten Up

How can "half the nation" elect anyone when over half the potential U.S. voters are not even registered to vote?

Media and education are two of the leading causes of misinformed, apathetic citizens, this article provides a good example why that's true.

Posted by Catherine Smith on 12/23/2016 at 7:53 PM

Re: “Smarten Up

Terence James Dehart In my experience most people do not want to be led. They would like honest data on which to make an informed decision. Sadly it seems as if the media (Yes, I know, a generality) has decided that it is best if they be guided by the wiser heads who have the power to ration the truth.

Posted by Anthony Westkamper on 11/29/2016 at 7:18 PM

Re: “Smarten Up

One of the most painful lessons I ever learned was that raw intelligence and reading books and listening to NPR was overrated if not unhelpful when attempting to lead people. Perhaps if you stepped out of your educated bubble you could learn about people who think differently and lead them more effectively.

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Posted by Terence James Dehart on 11/29/2016 at 5:44 PM

Re: “Smarten Up

In my opinion Trump won because so many voters have reached a level of distrust in the media. When The New York Times or Fox News reported on their particular darling it was painfully obvious who the reporters wanted to win. The old school concept of impartiality and objective reporting have gone the way of the dodo, so if a damning fact emerged it was weighed against the media's bias and often discarded, whether it was a real fact or not. Special Investigators and Investigative Committees lost credibility as offense after offense was apparently whitewashed. Trump is the other side of the "Hope and Change" coin. Trump gave folks who've felt disenfranchised Hope that things would actually Change, this time in their direction.

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Posted by Anthony Westkamper on 11/23/2016 at 11:04 PM

Re: “Smarten Up

"Smarten Up"???

Coming from a journalism "professional" that has written too many editorials on elections without one word about the biggest context.....non-voters....is sad.

I wonder if more than 10% of HSU students would vote if they knew that Australia passed universal healthcare after that nation initiated a monetary penalty for "failing to vote"?

Of all the local and national media I watched, Only Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" reported that 80% of potential U.S.voters abstained in the 2016 presidential primaries.

IN effect: FRONT PAGE NEWS!

Do better Marcy.

Much better!

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Posted by Carol Jones on 11/23/2016 at 7:20 PM

Re: “Smarten Up

Bernie knew the issue, Clinton knew how to govern, and Trump knew how to win, so we all Shut Down. Is it too early to start the Shoulda Voted Movement?

Automation, algorithms and deflation will define our species for the next millennium, and it's past time to have that conversation, and start planning for it.

Posted by Kirk Gothier1 on 11/19/2016 at 7:56 PM

Re: “Smarten Up

Marcy couldn't possibly imagine that anything she writes would affect how people vote or if they vote. The only creature who listens to her is her dog, Phoebe. But yes. He won in part because millions of people don't pay attention to the press or they don't trust it. But she blames the press for failing to engage them. --Marcy

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Posted by Marcy Burstiner on 11/18/2016 at 11:08 AM

Re: “Smarten Up

Maybe I'm misreading this, but it reads to me as If Marcy thinks the reason Trump won was people didn't pay enough attention to her and the rest of the media.

Posted by Fred Mangels on 11/17/2016 at 7:48 AM

Re: “Sign of Something

How shocking...

Another election-related story following 18 months and $1 billion of media hype all omitting the overwhelming context:

80% of the potential voters abstained in the 2016 presidential primaries.

Those who can't "do", teach.

And those that can, self-censor.

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Posted by Ted Nissan on 10/27/2016 at 9:35 PM

Re: “Warning: This Column Contains Objectionable Material

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/
The Coddling of the American Mind, another side of the story and why trigger warning mentality can go arye

Posted by webs on 10/10/2016 at 7:00 AM

Re: “Let it All Out

"When government agencies withhold information, people suspect that officials are trying to cover up bad or illegal behavior. Cover-ups are often worse than the crimes committed."
(Marcy Burstiner).

Are you serious?

That might have been true before an irony-weary public became too numb over a rigged society saturated in illegal behavior and cover-ups. Despite the Bernie Sanders "movement" and $1 billion dollars of media hype for 18 months, 80% of the potential voters abstained from the 2016 presidential primaries.

Today, Americans are not effectively protected as a whistle-blower and everyone from the janitor to the CAO keeps their mouth shut. They know that no one is watching, and if they are, the story will appear once before disappearing forever. If a similar story occurs it is usually reported as another isolated incident. In the worst examples, from police shooting unarmed poor kids to nationwide complicity with top Wall Street mortgage fraud, (having wrongly foreclosed tens of millions of families and crashing the world economy), few, outside the working poor and minorities, ever go to jail. When business or government is "held to account" there is usually a confidential "no-fault" monetary settlement paid by taxpayers or shareholders and the executive keeps his job. The "bad behavior" of Deborah Wasserman Schultz, former disgraced DNC chair, eclipsed without an investigation. Where's the public clamor?

Anyone actually paying attention to the media would be driven insane from the cognitive dissonance. Media reported a grieving U.S. Muslim father, (who lost his Muslim son in the Iraq war), responding to Donald Trump's anti-Muslim bigotry, "...would you like to borrow my copy of the U.S. Constitution Mr. Trump?" If the U.S. followed its Constitution only Congress could declare war on Iraq and Mr. Khan's son would probably still be alive. Media plays a huge role in distorting the public reality.


Back when student journalists were taught how to do their jobs professionally, share in their community's outrage and encouraged to do fact-finding, investigative work without fear or favor and without being outcast to the dwindling "alternative" press, (the consequence of the Bill Clinton administration's deregulation of media ownership), government agencies used to be far more selective in withholding information BECAUSE there were courageous journalists in most communities.


If public-interest reporting returned, would subscriptions increase? Would people return from the blogs in desperate search of meaningful community information?


For example, there were no headlines, nor followup, after Eureka's Public Service Officers faced layoffs and told the press, "We're handling 700 missing person reports each year, mostly youths". This is a community where volunteers operate second-hand stores to raise funds for wayward dogs while its county supervisors fight the CA Attorney General's subpoenas to investigate Humboldt's Child Welfare Services.

Would more residents rediscovery the usefulness of a "community newspaper" if Humboldt County's shocking "Trends Report" were headlined each quarter that it is published??

Oh, never heard of it? Hmmm.

Media shares a HUGE responsibility nationally and locally for the unprecedented collapse of the economy, healthcare, public services, housing, and the environment, due to the ignorance it perpetuates in every crisis we face.

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Posted by James White on 08/30/2016 at 12:32 AM

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