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April 21, 2006

Scoop, Insight and Just Plain Good Journalism

I wanted to take a moment to highlight a story I'm especially proud of. Reporter Megan Tady started gathering source material for her piece on the re-segregation of Omaha, Nebraska schools prior to the mild media blitz the story received later this week. She and her editors took their time on the piece, however, and the result is a glaringly different news article than those produced by other outlets.

Firstly, Megan focused on the people most affected by the state law that will cut the Omaha Public Schools into three racially defined districts. Meanwhile the New York Times, in its infinite wisdom, saw fit to relay the views of billionaire investor Warren Buffet and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company CEO David Sokol.

Bad sourcing was typical of most news stories, very few of which quoted students, even though they were easy to find and eager to speak.

But the real zinger is that apparently no other news outlet -- at least none I can find -- picked up on a little aspect of the legislation that contradicts all the separate-but-equal rhetoric of the bill's main proponent, Sen. Ernie Chambers. Upon reading the actual bill, which is maybe something reporters at corporate papers don't find important these days, we discovered a gaping loophole that will not only allow, but quite likely encourage, a vast disparity across the color divide in funding for Omaha's city schools.

At issue is a provision that allows a coordinating council made up of representatives from all the districts to set the property-tax rate for the common fund that will be shared somewhat fairly across districts. There is nothing setting a minimum for this rate, which means it can be set low so the wealthier communities do not have to share their money with the poorer ones. And because the districts can collect their own taxes in addition to the common fund, privileged areas will have every incentive to pay their own way, in order to keep their money local and disenfranchise the less-moneyed neighborhoods.

Not even any of the local critics of the bill Megan first spoke with were aware that it does not, as they had been promised and evidently believed, provide for equal funding. Other news organizations missed this either out of laziness or disdain for the people who will most likely be most affected by it.

Once we realized the bill does is not as advertised, we postponed the story for a day to verify our concerns and seek further responses from various sources. That meant making the painful choice not to publish a Thursday edition. For TNS, we always fault on the side of getting the story straight over just getting something out there. We trust our readers appreciate the extra effort and patience.

Comments...

Joey Borda (starwalker): Scoop, Insight and Just Plain Good Journalism

GREAT reporting!

The "scoop" IS the story in my estimation, and illustrates how things are snuck past citizenry. The "little aspect of the legislation that contradicts all the separate-but-equal rhetoric," the "gaping loophole," is really only legislating AS PER USUAL.

Witness the federal patriot act and the legislation prohibiting the American continuation of torture as only two recent examples. On the one hand most of the congress folk never even read the acts themselves, and on the other the president submits a signing letter than he doesn't have to abide by it anyway!

Is my view cynical? You're damn right it is. Just as cynical as the actions themselves! And so it is in this case as well.

davidt1949: Scoop, Insight and Just Plain Good Journalism

This is an OVERT phenomenon called "white backlash" & it has been very effective in the fundamentalist movement in Kansas. Only the fundies are using the tactic of perpetual "victimhood" since they have been propagandized into seeing any complaint of racial inequality by a black person or a black civil rights organization as a ploy that has been effective for blacks to get whatever THEY want. This has been beaten into their heads over the years by the likes of Rush, O'Reilly, Hannity, Coulter et al until these WHITES buy the illusion and think that blacks are better off than themselves!! The new ideology of racism says: Now is the time to cut out all of this special treatment that are is longer needed since they are taking funds AWAY from the NEW oppressed minority--whites.

The sad truth is that the Republican Right-wing Noisemakers are now, and will always be, better off than BOTH blacks and whites since their future is secured by the llikes of billionaire sugar daddies like the Koch brothers, Richare Mellon Scaife & Joseph Koors and others of their ilk that are funding these insidioius "blacklash" campaigns through think tanks like the AEI, Heritage Foundation, CATO Insititute, Hudson Institute, Manhattan Institute. They are planting the seeds of future devotees in the Young Republicans who see the odiousTom DeLay as a hero fighting the good fight against the new domestic disease--LIBERALISM!!

Actually, liberal & conservative are terms that have been so distorted they neutralize each other in any political discussion. They should be replaced with more appropriate terms-corporate & independent!

Once again big money is the name of the game--and the game is fixed!!!


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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.