Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dart Center for Shoddy Journalism?

The above is a screenshot from the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma's call for applications from journalists to attend a "workshop for journalists on covering guns and gun violence".   It is from website, so you can look for yourself.

In their invitation to apply for a two day workshop in which they purport to educate journalists about how to report on guns and "gun violence", they list a  highly questionable "fact". They state that:
Nearly 100 school shootings have occurred since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary only two years ago.
Presumably, this is taken from the web site, which claims that there have been:
  Since the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, CT, there have been at least 96 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week.
The number has been repeatedly debunked as misleading propaganda, outside of the usual meaning of the words.   It was rated "mostly false" by about seven months ago.   Even CNN, definitely on the left side of the media spectrum, only classified 15 of the 74 incidents listed at the time, as similar to Sandy Hook incident.

It is not promising that the Dart Center call for applications to educate journalists uses a misleading number produced by the advocacy organization that is paying for the workshop as a "fact".

Does Dart consider accepting numbers from advocacy organizations without fact checking, a good journalistic practice?   They have claimed that the money for the journalist workshop did not come with any strings.  Yet they promote one of the major contentions of the advocacy group in their application request.

Here is part of the mission statement for the Dart Center.  From website:
Advocates ethical and thorough reporting of trauma; compassionate, professional treatment of victims and survivors by journalists; and greater awareness by media organizations of the impact of trauma coverage on both news professionals and news consumers.
I sent an email to the contact for the Dart Center, to ask about this inclusion, several days ago.  I have not received any reply.

Other questionable items in the Dart request for applications are the use of the term "gun violence".   This is a loaded propaganda term, as if violence committed with guns is somehow worse than other unjustified violence,  with the implication that violence committed with guns is always unjustified.

These are items that are subject to much debate in the public sphere; they are hardly accepted as self evident truths.

Finally, Dart includes the long used "developed countries" gambit to create statistics that are useful for those who push restrictive gun controls.

Economics is hardly the best indicator of crime and violence; the choice of "developed countries" vs say, New World English speaking countries, allows an advocate to obtain whatever result is desired.   International comparisons have numerous problems when comparing crime rates.  Focusing on "gun violence" vs. all unjustified violence further stacks the statistical deck.

I would  like to see the Dart workshop as more than a means of indoctrinating journalists with the propaganda of those who want a disarmed public.   I have requested a list of presenters, and have made a couple of suggestions.   Any such workshop that did not include a presentation by John Lott, would be  incomplete.   He literally "wrote the book" on media bias on guns.  Another good inclusion would be Brian Anse Patrick,  from University of Toledo, Ohio, who has done the most work on documenting the interaction between the media and the NRA, and who wrote the ground breaking analysis on the gun  culture and new media interaction in his seminal work, Rise of the Anti-Media.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

No comments: