I was sitting in a waiting room skimming the El Paso Times when I saw a little article entitled “Conference to Examine Border Media Coverage.”
I scanned it quickly and was rather taken aback. First, a former editor of the El Paso Times (now the editor of the Fort Collins Coloradoan) was scheduled to speak about “Newspapers as Change Agents: The Atlanta Journal in the Civil Rights Era.“ Another lecture by the current editor of the El Paso Times, Chris Lopez, was speaking about “A New Vision for the El Paso Times.“
The local rag, the Las Cruces-Sun News, is part of the group of papers which includes the El Paso Times. We’ve recently canceled our subscription to the Sun-News because it offers very little news and a whole of cheerleading for Bill Richardson and nothing but positive glow for Obama and his policies via the AP. We’re now getting the Albuquerque Journal which has a lead story nearly every day with original reporting on the follies and corruption of the Richardson Administration here in New Mexico. Practically NONE of this news reaches the Sun-News, which is put together in El Paso and has only a skeleton staff here. I guess that’s the “new vision” for the El Paso Times and the other papers in the group.
So reading about this conference seemed to clear up why the Las Cruces Sun-News and El Paso Times often seem to be propaganda arms of the Obama Administration.
Apparently, this media group, or at least some of its former and current editors, sees itself as a proponent of “change” rather than as a real news source for the people of the area. So, these local papers are now emulating what we see on TV…selective news coverage, with an agenda to create “change.”
When I was in high school I was aiming for a journalism career and attended all sorts of conferences as editor of the school paper. I never heard that newspapers were supposed to be “agents of change.” I do remember the emphasis on writing a story, with the key Who, What, When, Where, Why and How information in the first paragraph, WITHOUT little editorial words thrown in for effect.
I was under the impression that the “responsibilities” of the news in general is to provide factual reporting, not “change,” but I guess that’s old-fashioned these days. I realize that there a many “agenda driven” papers around, like Las Cruces’ “Grassroots Press” (left), but a community paper that professes to inform the general public as a real newspaper–shouldn’t it stick to reporting and skip the “change”?
In addtion to UTEP, a conference sponsor was an organization called El Paso Voices for Media Responsibility. Apparently they don’t have a website; at least I couldn’t find one. I would love to know exactly whose “voices” speak for that group and where they stand on effecting “change.” It seems that at least one of the group’s members is a political science prof at UTEP named Kathleen Staudt who served as a conference organizer. Staudt has some interesting credentials; at some point she’s been the Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at UTEP. (Follow link to her bio; more info links about Staudt at the end of the post.) Check out the website which dates back to about 2006; you’ll see a logo for the Border Poll Crew which links to a paper on getting young voters to the polls. Sounds so familiar…
Here is the press release about the conference, with some highlighting that I’ve added:
February 10, 2009Media Contact: Laura Cruz Acosta
The University of Texas at El Paso
915/ 747-5977 or 915/ 491-8907
Leaders, educators, students and community members are invited to discuss creating and strengthening a community-oriented media that provides coverage of the U.S.-Mexico border at the Reinventing Community Media Conference Feb. 18-19 at The University of Texas at El Paso.
The conference is free and open to the public.
“As a faculty member who encourages her students to engage with media, and as a member of the El Paso Voices for Media Responsibility network, I am elated about the opportunities for dialogue and learning at the upcoming conference as we prepare for the rapid transformations in electronic, print and television media,” said Kathleen Staudt, UTEP political science professor and a conference organizer. “This conference is a wonderful example of how people on campus and in the community collaborate over issues of concern to us all.”
The conference will start at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18, with a presentation by Bob Moore, Fort Collins Coloradoan editor and former executive editor for the El Paso Times. Moore’s lecture “Newspapers as Change Agents: The Atlanta Journal in the Civil Rights Era” will begin at 6 p.m. in the Union Cinema, Union Building East.
Conference organizers say they hope to find answers to various questions such as how do media institutions fulfill their responsibilities to their community given 21st century financial contexts and pressures; and what the future of journalism holds in the region.
On Thursday, Feb. 19, participants are invited to attend various discussions including a plenary speech at 9 a.m. by University of Colorado School of Journalism professor Michael McDevitt titled “History and Trends: Ethics and Community-oriented Journalism” and a brown bag conversation at noon titled “A New Vision for the El Paso Times” by Times editor Chris Lopez. Both presentations will be at the Tomás Rivera Conference Center, Union Building East, Third Floor.
The conference is sponsored by The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Voices for Media Responsibility.
More info on Kathleeen Staudt:
From the review:
Kathleen Staudt is an award-winning Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Texas at El Paso. She has written or co-authored more than a dozen scholarly books on women’s studies, borderlands, and political science, most recently Pledging Allegiance: Learning Nationalism at the El Paso-Juárez Border, with Susan Rippberger, and Fronteras No Más: Toward Social Justice at the U.S.-Mexico Border, with Irasema Coronado.
Women, International Development, and Politics: The Bureaucratic Mire Updated and Expanded Edition edited by Kathleen Staudt
Free Trade? (Bibliochat reviews)
Kathleen Staudt list of published works
http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/Staudt.html (with bio, her books and edited books)
Filed under: Current Politics | Tagged: Albuquerque Journal, Bob Moore, Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Texas at El Paso, Chris Lopez, El Paso, El Paso Times, El Paso Voices for Media Responsibility, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Kathleen Staudt Professor of Politcal Science UTEP, Las Cruces Sun-News, Reinventing Community Media Conference, University of Texas at El Paso, UTEP | 6 Comments »