Matthias Oegendahl/EPA

Police in Denmark have now shot dead the suspect behind two attacks on Saturday, including an attack on a cafe where a public seminar on Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression was being held.   Thirty shots were fired into the cafe, during the event featuring Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.   The New York Times reports he had “drawn a cartoon in 2007 of Muhammad as a dog at a traffic circle and was on a “death list” drawn up by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as was the murdered editor of Charlie Hebdo, Stéphane Charbonnier.”   A 55-year old film director, Finn Norgaard, was shot dead at the cafe, and later on a 37-year old man guarding Copenhagen’s central synagogue were killed in the two attacks.

Closer to home, the US media is being accused of bias in the reporting of the shooting deaths of 3 students in Chapel Hill.

“Dr. Mohammad Yousif Abu-Salha, the father of the two slain women, also questioned the attention his daughter’s killing had received in comparison with crimes committed by Muslims.  “If a Muslim commits a crime, it’s on the news 24/7 for two months,” Dr. Abu-Salha, a psychiatrist in Clayton, N.C., told The Associated Press. “When we are executed in numbers, it’s on the news for seconds.”

A #muslimlivesmatter campaign was started, but does not seem to be trending any more.

“Natasha Tynes, a Jordanian-American media consultant, wrote on Facebook, “I guess there is no ‘Je Suis’ hashtag for the three Muslims gunned down in Chapel Hill.”


Al Dragho/AP

One of the women killed, Yusor Abu-Salha, had previously done a Storycorps interview, where she spoke of the “blessing” that growing up in the US had been. “We’re all one, one culture,” she said.

READING: Dexter Filkins “The Forever War” ps87-167Articles by Kathleen McLaughlin

For Tuesday: Come prepared with at least two questions for Kathleen McLaughlin, including one specifically focussing on one of her stories.

For Thursday Feb 26th:  How developed is citizen journalism in your country?   Write a 500 word blog profiling one prominent citizen journalist (extra credit if you manage to interview them!)  Make sure to also provide the context for your country, such as how many citizen journalists there are, what challenges they face and which social media tools are the most popular.   If there are no citizen journalists, write a piece analyzing the obstacles to the emergence of citizen journalism – or, if you have touched upon that before – whether there are prominent citizen journalists in exile. (Thurs Feb 26th, 9am)

Golden age of investigative journalism?



We are living in a golden age of investigative journalism, according to Salon.   Here’s an interesting blogpost about how investigative journalism is making use of crowdfunding and data journalism projects. And news just out that Buzzfeed is setting up an investigative journalism unit in the UK, headed up by the woman who broke the Qatar World Cup bribery story that Collin and Yardain have also been following.

For Tuesday’s class, come prepared with questions about People’s Republic of Amnesia.

ASSIGNMENT: Write a 500-word blogpost about any interesting or important news story that has happened in your country in the past month. Try to write it in a news style, using the inverted pyramid model. Make sure that you give enough context so that people with no prior knowledge of the country can understand the importance of the story. The question you should always be answering: Why should anyone care about this story?



Welcome to Comm 439!

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Welcome to Comm studies 439!   This is a class website, and I’ll be posting assignments, reading lists, random thoughts and other general info here.

On a day we should all be thinking about media freedom, here are some cartoon tributes to the murdered Charlie Hebdo journalists in France.   Interesting to see which news outlets refused to publish the cartoons – AP, CNN, The Daily Telegraph, New York Daily News and many others, while the Washington Post, Buzzfeed and Huffpost were among those that did.  As for the New York Times, there was a lot of back-and-forth, as described by Public Editor Margaret Sullivan, who explained the thinking of Editor Dean Baquet, “I sought out a lot of views, and I changed my mind twice,” he told her, “It had to be my decision alone.” He decided against, citing the sensibilities of Muslim readers, “We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire. Most of these are gratuitous insult.”


On another topic, there are some great opportunities for student journalists on the horizon – there’s a position at Michigan radio for students with work/study funding which would allow for some writing and reporting experience.    Also the deadline is approaching for the Pulitzer Center’s student fellowship.  Email me for more details, or I’ll post shortly.  And finally, the deadline is fast approaching for the AP paid internship over the summer, which offers posts all over the US as well as Bangkok; Berlin; Johannesburg; London; Mexico City; New Delhi; Paris; Rio de Janeiro; Seoul and Tokyo.   Start filing your applications now!