Author Archive

Everybody Look What’s Going Down

April 14, 2016 Leave a comment

Here’s something I never thought I’d write: one of my best students was pulled out of class and arrested today.

It wasn’t my class; I have not had the student in class since the fall of 2014. Two UWPD officers arrested the Black student in the classroom of a professor of color for a series of anti-white supremacist graffiti pieces that have sprouted up across campus recently.

It is shocking and deeply upsetting that an unarmed suspect of a non-violent crime was pulled from a college class to be arrested. Multiple witnesses reported the officers as having told the student that he’d had his say and now they would have theirs. This is not professional behavior. It is not recognizing my student’s humanity, nor was it respectful of the faculty of color who was teaching and was ignored by the officers. It is not considering what may have driven anyone to post such messages in the first place. And it is differential treatment from those who defaced the University recently at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery by drawing a person hanging from a noose next to the N-word.

The Dean of Students tweeted that the officers did not make the above statement, a statement that was reported by the faculty member who was in the classroom, but it is not clear to me at this time how the Dean knows this.

Already, my Facebook feed and Twitter stream are awash in calls of support for the student, cries of anguish and anger at how witnesses described the officers’ behavior and claims that when one vandalizes property they deserve 1) no sympathy and 2) to be arrested.

I’d like to call attention to the depth of the issues that seem to have led to the graffiti for which the student was arrested. I do this with firsthand knowledge. In the fall of 2014, the student was in my class J202: Mass Media Practices. It is the introductory course to the journalism and mass communication major at UW-Madison. It has 120 students. He was one of two or three Black students in the class.

One project is an original reporting project in which students pick an important campus topic and tell a series of print, audio, video and data-driven stories about it. The student chose as his topic being Black on a predominantly White campus. Here it is.

Read his story featuring an international expert on the college experiences of Black women on predominantly White campuses (disclosure: I’m married to that expert).

Watch his video of Black students pushing back against the racist narratives diminishing their earned and valuable presence on our campus.

Consider his evidence of who is present on campuses across our conference.

The issues that preceded the graffiti he is accused of were not born of thin air. They were here in the fall of 2014 and they were here long before the student ever set foot on campus. Before he was born. Before I was born.

Speech like the graffiti can come with consequences. But I submit that the more important consequences are those that come from doing nothing – or appearing to do something but really doing nothing – about the systemic racism that has reached a critical flashpoint this semester at #theRealUW.

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UW Trains Students For Life, Not Just Jobs

April 9, 2016 Leave a comment

My op-ed in the Wisconsin State Journal.

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2016 Elections and Presidential Mandates with Julia Azari (WORT’s A Public Affair)

January 6, 2016 Leave a comment

How are the traditional political science explanations of presidential primaries holding up?

What should we be looking for now that we are closing in on the actual casting of votes?

How do new presidents try to claim a mandate?

What should we make of President Obama’s emotional announcement about taking executive action on gun regulations?

I was delighted to discuss these issues and more with the great Julia Azari, Marquette University political scientist and ace blogger for Mischiefs of Faction at Vox. You can listen by going to the WORT archive and listening to the A Public Affair broadcast from January 6, 2016. Julia was a terrific guest and the calls from listeners were interesting as well. Enjoy!

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Talking Media Ethics with Katy Culver (WORT’s A Public Affair)

November 23, 2015 Leave a comment

I spent the Friday noon hour talking media ethics with the Associate Director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Katy Culver.

We chatted about the #Mizzou protests, recent terror attacks in Beruit and Paris, campaign coverage and more. The Friday, November 20th archive has the whole show for download/podcast.

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The Deal on the Art. . . of Covering Donald Trump: Ten Strategies for Journalists

November 20, 2015 Leave a comment

Note: This post appears in its entirety on the website for the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

He has been called a “sham.” His campaign was initially dismissed as a “charade.” The Huffington Post relegated him to the entertainment page. And while elections experts maintain that he still is not the most likely candidate to win his party’s nomination for the presidency, the mainstream media spent late summer and early fall 2015 calling him “frontrunner.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has caused fits for his opponents to be sure, but his candidacy raises interesting ethical questions for the news media covering him, as well. Should mentions of Trump’s failed marriages, multiple bankruptcies and laundry list of controversial statements about all manner of people and groups be regular features of his media attention? How should Trump’s unique use (as compared to his opponents) of Twitter be covered?

Read the rest of the article here.

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Media Coverage and the 2016 Presidential Primaries (on Joy Cardin Show)

July 22, 2015 Leave a comment

I spent an hour on the Joy Cardin Show talking about media coverage in the 2016 presidential primaries today. We talked about the changing media landscape, Donald Trump, Gov. Walker, efforts from candidates to control their message, research dealing with how newspapers cover candidates they endorse, the hostile media effect and took some calls claiming the media are in the bag for both Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was a fun hour – I got to quote Dan Rather’s (talking about Trump) “his chances are between slim and none and slim just left town.”

One goof I made was misspeaking about the years Joe Biden ran for president. I said 1988 and 2012, but of course he ran in 1988 and 2008. The line to rescind my Ph.D. forms at the right.

Listen here.

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Talking 2016 with Barry Burden of the Elections Research Center at UW-Madison

I was delighted to have my colleague and friend Barry Burden join me as I guest-hosted “A Public Affair” on 89.9 WORT in Madison. We talked about the Elections Research Center at UW-Madison (the center is new and Barry is the founding director), the 2016 presidential race, the 2016 Wisconsin senate race, poli-sci related nuts and bolts about elections, and took calls from listeners. Link is here.


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