Sunday, March 25, 2012

Local Rag Does Wrong

The Failures of the Star-Tribune

In the last month the failure of the Star-Tribune (“ST”) as a source of in-depth reportage has been egregious. The consistent bias of the editors is to ignore or soft-peddle violations by various societal scared cows. I’ll take three examples.

The most glaring, and massive is 'Rolling Stone’s' February 16th in-depth, nationwide article on the suicide cluster in Anoka County related to the policies of the Anoka County School Board, and by reference, the influence of the fundamentalist Christians around Michelle Bachmann in that district. The Tribune’s reporting concentrated on some vague disputes about ‘gay’ policy in Anoka County’s school district, ignoring, and not high-lighting, the suicides plaguing young gay, lesbian and even hetero-sexual students in that district. Of course, the suicides are what give this story its real meaning. I had to read this story in Rolling Stone, for chrissakes, to understand what was going on.

The second is coverage in the February 15 'City Pages' (“CP”) about the scandals around the “TIZA” charter school in Minneapolis. Again, almost invisible in the news pages of the Star Tribune, a paper I scan everyday on-line. I was vaguely aware that ANOTHER charter school was a bankrupt fraud, but that was it, connected to some lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The CP story went into great detail, however, showing how the bankruptcy was connected to Islamic Relief ‘patrons’ that were supposed to monitor the school and never did; about early-afternoon ‘after-school’ classes on Islam that were virtually required, as buses did not leave until they were over; that assemblies were held where ‘God is Great” was one of the cries; where paperwork was filled with forgeries; and that a shadow company whose building TIZA was housed in, MET, got some of the monies from the State. Even Keith Ellison stood up for this travesty. This is what the Democratic and Republican parties want to do with our tax dollars related to education.

CP has gone on to detail the myths of the stadium debate repeated by proponents of the Vikings in the March 14 edition. This is a story that will never be done by the ST, which never met a stadium it didn’t like. After all, the wealthy businessmen in Minneapolis need somewhere to get brutal but safe entertainment for a high price. Hunger Games anyone?

The third story was done by the March 2012 'Southside Pride,' which reported on a failure of water levels at the Prairie Island nuclear plant, which either escaped detection or were caused by a leak. This could have lead to a heat-up of the reactor core, similar to what happened at Fukushima. According to Eddie Felien’s story, this was not reported by the Star Tribune, but it was reported by papers in other parts of the country.

What do downplaying or ignoring all three stories have in common? Protecting the conventional ‘multi-culturalism’ of religion; protecting the bi-partisan political consensus support of charter schools and protecting the reputation of a giant, powerful utility, Excel. The Star Tribune is only a tribune for the 10% that control this society. They are a tribune for no one else, not even the stars.

I have a button that says’ Big Media” with a slash across it that I wear occasionally. When a reporter for the ST saw it, he challenged me for my supposed troglodyte ways. I must say, after this last month, I won’t be apologetic for continuing to wear it. If the union members at the ST want to challenge management there, one thing they can do is attempt to control what is written in that paper. This is as good a reason for worker control as any. The management editors have made a hash of in-depth reporting, and this is because of political reasons. That would be one way to bring readers back.

Red Frog
March 25, 2012

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