Recent racist incidents and police violence have been caught on video, uploaded to social media and viewed millions of times, sparking protests and outrage and accelerating diversity agendas at colleges and universities.
In most of those incidents, the photographer was not a reporter but a bystander or victim of abuse themselves.
Reporters have been arrested in record numbers covering protests associated with the May 25 killing of George Floyd. Some 10,000 mostly peaceful protesters have been arrested and assaulted, too, with many such incidents caught on tape. In an op-ed in the Iowa Capital Dispatch, I ask, What makes a journalist, the person or the device?
Increasingly, I argue, it is the device.
In the hands of a journalist, however, or a civilian who knows reporting basics, you double its power.
Power is at the core of controversies about police brutality. Smartphone technology has empowered civilians whose photographs and videos undermine the authority of law enforcement, at times exposing lies, racist agendas and prosecutorial negligence.
Police departments rely on video and security cameras for traffic control, license plate recognition and crime detection. But when the lens is turned on them, they often are less enthusiastic.
Units equipped with body cameras may not release videos to the public or wait months to do so, as was the case in the killing of Elijah McClain. He had done nothing illegal but was wearing a mask while on an errand to pick up iced tea for his brother.
The issue here is accountability and transparency, key tenets of journalism. Reporters are watchdogs over government and file freedom of information requests to foster openness. They embrace the credo of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.
These are lessons for everyone.
In 2005, Wired ran an article with that maxim:
When man bites dog, whos the first to report it? Dont assume its your local paper or CNN. These days, our man on the scene is often a swarm of amazingly prolific nonprofessionals posting up-to-the-minute stories and pictures of breaking news from their laptops.
When I first read this, I was skeptical, fearing so-called citizen reporters would undermine the credibility of journalism. A month after the Wired piece, I wrote The Media World as It Is for Inside Higher Ed:
(T)he promise of technology that it would build social networks, democratize news and generally enhance information in two-way flows has always hinged on the presumption of readily available and verifiableinformation. What are the consequences, not only for media, but for academe, when opinion displaces fact?
I was worried about fake news years before President Donald Trump claimed to have invented that term.
But my own opinion has changed as technology became more powerful, mobile and ubiquitous in the form of a cellphone, especially the iPhone, which first made its debut in 2007.
Apples inaugural device included many features we still use every day, such a web browser, email, text messaging, music and video players, and maps applications. It also came with a first-generation YouTube default app.
By 2009, YouTube was registeringmore than a billion views per day. Now there are more than 2 billion users.
The power of cellphones is epic. We call them smartphones for a reason. The2020 iPhone 11 Pro Max boasts a 12-megapixel ultra-wide, wide angle, and telephoto lens. Its video is as sharp as any network television camera, with a processor and neural engine capable delivering more than 1 trillion operations per second.
It can capture just about anything within a 120-degree field of view.
The increasing power of cellphones coincided with the decreasing presence of reporters. They are not yet extinct, but on societys endangered species list. Between 2008 and 2020, U.S.newsrooms lost half of their employees, according to Pew Research Center.
News deserts are popping up all over. As Penelope Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina, notes in News Deserts And Ghost Newspapers: Will Local News Survive?:
Many of the countrys 6,700 surviving papers have become ghost newspapers mere shells of their former selves, with greatly diminished newsrooms and readership. The loss of both journalists and circulation speaks to the declining influence of local newspapers, and raises questions about their long-term financial viability in a digital era.
The choice is obvious: Bemoan journalisms decline or inspire thousands of opinionated but omnipresent smartphone users. I embrace the latter. They may be the only option left to hold government and law enforcement in check.
They also have cellphones. Increasingly they document racism under the genre while being Black with African Americans insulted, threatened or arrested doing everyday things. Earlier this year Amy Cooper, a white woman, threw a viral tantrum and called police after a Black birdwatcher in Central Park asked her to leash her dog.
These frequent encounters are becoming more ominous. In June, Mark and Susan McCloskey brandished weapons at protesters who passed their palatial home in St. Louis. Another white couple, Jillian and Eric Wuestenberg, were charged with felonious assault in a parking lot incident during which Jillian pointed a gun at a Black mother and her 15-year-old daughter.
Because cellphones recorded each incident, consequences ensued. Cooper lost her job at an investment corporation and faces misdemeanor charges. Eric Wuestenberg was fired from his support staff position at Oakland University. The McCloskeys were each charged with one count of unlawful use of a weapon.
These videos are deeply troubling, but the one shot by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier was horrifying. Some called the documented killing of George Floyd a state-sponsored execution.
Frazier was on a grocery store run with her 9-year-old cousin when she saw Floyd being arrested. She used her cellphone to capture former police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyds neck, killing him.
Fraziers lawyer, Seth Cobin, told the BBC, She felt she had to document it. Its like the civil rights movement was reborn in a whole new way, because of that video.
The comment about civil rights reverberates in former reporters of that era. The primary goal in the 1960s and early 1970s was equal treatment in all aspects of society for African Americans. I covered protests by the American Indian Movement whose leaders, including Dennis Banks and Russell Means, sought economic independence, preservation of native culture, autonomy over tribal areas and restoration of stolen lands.
Civil rights and liberties are fundamental aspects of journalism education, which utilizes case law associated with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, among other statutes.
Civil liberties are associated with the Constitution.
Every journalism graduate should know freedoms of the First Amendment press, speech, religion, assembly and petition as well as unlawful seizures of the Fourth Amendment and due process of the Fourteenth.
Those liberties are at the heart of a federal lawsuit filed against the city of Minneapolis and its police department for actions against reporters covering George Floyd protests. The suit alleges that reporters were assaulted and arrested by police without cause, all after these journalists identified themselves and were otherwise clearly engaged in their reporting duties.
Protesters have the same rights as reporters, according to 42 U.S. Code 1983, which protects citizens from being deprived of any rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution.Any entity violating that law can be held liable in class actions.
Everyone should know that.
But does everyone need journalism? I think they do.
And yet, journalism rarely is on the list of required courses in colleges and universities. That has to do in part with the history of general education. Originally, in the early 19th century, it sought to complete the liberal education of the aristocracy. In the 1960s, it attempted to make liberal education more accessible to nontraditional students. The culture wars of the 1980s heightened consciousness about feminism and canons of underrepresented groups. More recently, general education exploded with dozens of courses based on budget models rewarding departmental enrollment.
Nevertheless, gen-ed courses still fall under the usual umbrellas of humanities, social sciences, and math and physical/biological sciences.
Rarely will you find journalism in the mix. Many reporting courses are skill-based and excluded on that basis. Journalism is neither humanities nor social sciences; it is one or the other and sometimes both. Courses like media history clearly fall in the humanities camp; others like public affairs reporting in the social sciences group; and science communication in both.
General education includes survey, theory and concept classes. When viewed in that manner, several journalism courses easily adapt.
They also may be popular. Americans on average use smartphones about 5.4 hours per day. The 16-24 demographic interacts on social media about 3 hours per day. As such, general education students would benefit from courses in news/media literacy, cultivating the next generation of news consumers who possess the ability to spot fake news and dis/misinformation.
A survey course in media law and ethics also might enlighten students about rights, liberties and precedents, all of which are vital for future generations seeking change.
A theory class in world press systems might expand and diversify knowledge. Specialized courses might be popular, too, such as History of the Black Press, Social Media and Change or Gone Viral: Videos That Made History.
Journalism education has focused for decades on graduates securing media jobs. As those decrease, along with enrollments, the future of the discipline might depend more on general education. But the case here is about democracy, accountability, transparency and empowerment.
Without a robust news industry monitoring government and investigating the corporate elite, our only hope may be in the hands of the people, literally and figuratively.
Michael Bugeja, distinguished professor of journalism at Iowa State University of Science and Technology, teaches media ethics and technology and social change. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published on July 22.
See the article here:
- Govt That Spies Has Insatiable Appetite - KMJ Now - February 4th, 2021
- No-knock search warrants began in Wisconsin, Rep. Myers wants to end them here - Wisconsin Examiner - February 4th, 2021
- Close the Gaps - East Bay Express - February 4th, 2021
- Is Americas Approach to Cannabis Racist? Study Shows Its Worse Than You Think - GreenState - February 4th, 2021
- Federal appeals court allows reporters to sue SWAT officer who tear-gassed them during Ferguson protests - JURIST - February 4th, 2021
- Invoking Scalia, Sotomayor Presses for Broad Fourth Amendment Protections - Reason - October 30th, 2020
- EFF Files Amicus Brief Arguing That Law Enforcement Access to Wi-Fi Derived Location Data Violates the Fourth Amendment - EFF - October 30th, 2020
- Main Points Of The Fourth Amendment To Chinese Patent Law (Approved On October 17, 2020, Effective From June 1, 2021) - Intellectual Property - China... - October 30th, 2020
- Column: Michigan can bring privacy into the 21st century - The Oakland Press - October 30th, 2020
- IMPD dismissed from Dreasjon Reed lawsuit - WTHR - October 30th, 2020
- The Criminal Justice of Amy Coney Barrett - Washington Monthly - October 30th, 2020
- A guide to the statewide constitutional amendments on the ballot in November 2020 - Yellowhammer News - October 30th, 2020
- RUTHS HOSPITALITY GROUP, INC. : Entry into a Material Definitive Agreement, Creation of a Direct Financial Obligation or an Obligation under an... - October 30th, 2020
- Assembly Committee Clears Verrelli & Benson Bill Protecting Employees from Employer Tracking Device Violations - InsiderNJ - October 30th, 2020
- The tyranny of the experts - Leader & Times - October 30th, 2020
- Mike R. Galli is recognized by Continental Who's Who - PRNewswire - October 30th, 2020
- Mail Voting Litigation in 2020, Part II: Submission of Mail-In Ballots - Lawfare - October 30th, 2020
- In its 4th revision to the SEC, Palantir tries to explain what the hell is going on - TechCrunch - September 20th, 2020
- City of Pierre among South Dakota towns ordered to pay a total of $440000 because of forced catheterizations - Drgnews - September 20th, 2020
- Former Torrington officer seeks to have evidence suppressed before trial - Scottsbluff Star Herald - September 20th, 2020
- Council To Have One-Day Session To Learn About Police - The Rhino TImes - September 20th, 2020
- Things to Know Before Your Neighborhood Installs an Automated License Plate Reader - EFF - September 20th, 2020
- Attorney argues Haynes and his brother bribed witness to recant his testimony in 1999 murder case - Kankakee Daily Journal - September 20th, 2020
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburgs Lasting Impact on U.S. Traffic Laws - The Art of Gears - September 20th, 2020
- Editorial, August 10, 2020: Your cellphone might be "Big Brother" - Richmond.com - August 10th, 2020
- Legal Brief: Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment - SecurityInfoWatch - August 10th, 2020
- Common Ways to Fight Against a Drug Possession Charge - Student Assembly of the State University of New York - August 10th, 2020
- Trump Judge Casts Deciding Vote to Grant Qualified Immunity on First Amendment Retaliation Claim: Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears - People For the... - August 10th, 2020
- Did Judge Reeves Reach the Correct Result in Jamison v. McClendon? - Reason - August 10th, 2020
- The Police Lie. All the Time. Can Anything Stop Them? - Slate - August 10th, 2020
- The Court of Justice of the European Union in Schrems II: The impact of GDPR on data flows and national security - Brookings Institution - August 10th, 2020
- Calls for police reform and racial justice spur a flurry of resolutions before the ABA House - ABA Journal - August 10th, 2020
- Reporters Committee amicus brief in Alasaad v. Wolf - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press - August 8th, 2020
- Meet the Judge Who Thinks a Black Man Walking Around Is a Crime - Rewire.News - August 8th, 2020
- Who will police Springfields cops? - The Boston Globe - August 8th, 2020
- 'Defund the police' is not a real reform strategy - The Maine Wire - August 8th, 2020
- Assessing Indias obsession with data localisation - Deccan Herald - August 8th, 2020
- How 9/11 and the US Civil War provided the framework for federal agents in Portland - News@Northeastern - August 7th, 2020
- Senators Graham And Blumenthal Can't Even 'Earn' The EARN IT Act: Looking To Sneak Vote Through Without Debate - Techdirt - August 6th, 2020
- The Constitutional Case Against Trumps Use of the Department of Homeland Security - The New Yorker - August 6th, 2020
- 'Trump's Troops Are Breaking the Law and Creating Chaos' - FAIR - August 6th, 2020
- Portland demonstrates that government spying on citizens has become commonplace, and easy - Washington Times - August 6th, 2020
- Plainclothes NYC police grab protester and throw her into unmarked car - WSWS - August 6th, 2020
- Majority of Kingston aldermen view Kingstonian project tax pact favorably, with conditions - The Daily Freeman - August 4th, 2020
- Officers on the street without ID or insignia is dangerous - News-Press Now - August 4th, 2020
- "It's the decent thing to do" - News - Fowler Tribune - August 4th, 2020
- What would the Founding Fathers do? - Smoky Mountain News - August 4th, 2020
- How the president became the deporter in chief. - Slate - August 3rd, 2020
- Want To Reform The Police? Get Rid Of Qualified Immunity - WBUR - August 3rd, 2020
- Who is Zane James, why were his brother and father detained by police in Cottonwood Heights protest? - MEAWW - August 3rd, 2020
- Unpacking DHS's Troubling Explanation of the Portland Van Video - Lawfare - August 1st, 2020
- Capitol Hill grilling of tech CEOs highlights expansion of 'geofence warrants' - WRAL.com - August 1st, 2020
- R Sikoryaks latest project is a word-for-word adaptation of the U.S. Constitution - Boing Boing - August 1st, 2020
- FBI bulletin exposes another crack in ELD mandate - Land Line - Land Line Media - August 1st, 2020
- Analysis: Is Trump stretching the law to deploy federal police power in cities? - wenatcheeworld.com - July 31st, 2020
- NRA and Tea Party: Where are you now? - Greensboro News & Record - July 31st, 2020
- Fourth Amendment | United States Constitution | Britannica - July 30th, 2020
- Fourth Amendment - the Text, Origins, and Meaning - July 30th, 2020
- "It's the decent thing to do" - News - Pueblo Chieftain - July 30th, 2020
- Trump Judge Casts the Deciding Vote to Reverse District Court Ruling to Suppress Evidence Obtained in Violation of the Fourth Amendment: Confirmed... - July 29th, 2020
- Trump Judge Casts the Deciding Vote to Give Qualified Immunity to Officers Who Violated Fourth Amendment: Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears - People... - July 29th, 2020
- How does the Fourth Amendment apply to my child while at school? - Lawyers.com Blog - July 29th, 2020
- Ga. voters will decide thorny 'sovereign immunity' issue this fall - Georgia Recorder - July 29th, 2020
- Shot Twice in the Back: A Case Tests the Fleeing Felon Defense - The New York Times - July 29th, 2020
- Wronged by the Police? How to Defend Your Rights - Legal Reader - July 29th, 2020
- The innocents at home, anti-mask tales of purity - Greensburg Daily News - July 29th, 2020
- Someone who cared about safe cities would try to bring calm to chaos. Trump is doing the opposite to bolster his law-and-order reelection campaign. -... - July 29th, 2020
- Here's Why Cities Won't Be Able to Stop Trump's Secret Police - VICE - July 29th, 2020
- Radio Diary: A Harvard Law Professor Explains Why Federal Officers' Tactics In Portland Are Unlawful - WBUR - July 26th, 2020
- Two DHS Officials Apparently Just Admitted Their Troops Have Been Violating the Constitution - Law & Crime - July 26th, 2020
- John Krull: The innocents at home, anti-mask tales of purity - Terre Haute Tribune Star - July 26th, 2020
- Protester in Portland sues Trump for 'conspiracy to violate the U.S. Constitution' after alleged attack by feds - Pamplin Media Group - July 26th, 2020
- The Federal Coup to Overthrow the States and Nix the 10th Amendment Is Underway - River Cities Reader - July 26th, 2020
- LETTERS TO THE - Central Wisconsin News - Tribune Phonograph - July 26th, 2020
- The Majority of Americans Oppose Qualified Immunity. Where Is Congress? - Reason - July 26th, 2020
- Oregon sues US agencies over protest arrests; what gave feds authority to intervene? - ABA Journal - July 26th, 2020
- Can use of force restrictions change police behavior? Heres what we know - PBS NewsHour - July 26th, 2020
- Judge refuses to dismiss claims Balch Springs police violated rights of murdered teen Jordan Edwards - The Dallas Morning News - July 25th, 2020
- East Bay Homeless Living On Caltrans Property May Be Entitled To Cash - KALW - July 25th, 2020
- Trenton cop found a flask inside a councilwoman's car after crash, tried covering it up - The Trentonian - July 25th, 2020