Tim McGuire, the Frank Russell Chair for the business of journalism at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is weighing in on coverage of Arizona's harsh new immigration law. The Minneapolis Star Tribune's former editor offers some sage advice to local journos that shouldn't be overlooked by those at the national level. To sum up his advice, though the entire piece deserves a read, McGuire suggests:
- Read the freaking bill!
- The legal distinctions matter
- Capture the historical context and avoid the oversimplifications of the national
- Avoid "he said she said."
- Find answers, don't create questions.
- This a business story and don't forget it!
- Human stories must be done from all perspectives
- This is a dangerous story and don't minimize that
- Every journalistic organization needs to be a true discussion facilitator
- This is a national story, embrace it and own it.
The advice may seem a bit elementary but McGuire is right to encourage such basic standards. In fact, national outlets would do well to take the suggestions to heart as well. If coverage of health care reform is to be any indicatation of things to come, coverage of immigration reform and Arizona's new law will be riddled with right-wing misinformation and fear mongering. Heck, we're already seeing it from many right-wing media figures:
- Rush accuses Dems of opposing AZ immigration law to "maintain vote fraud"
- Right-wing mark debate over AZ immigration law with racially charged rhetoric
- See no evil: Hannity, Palin dismiss concerns about racial profiling in AZ law
- Why did the Washington Post publish George Will's immigration rant?
- Wash. Times dubs immigration protesters the "Tequila Party," says they are "[a]ngry, hateful, violent, extremist liberals"
- Palin claims AZ immigration law "essentially replicates, duplicates the federal law"
- Hannity, Palin disagree with Fox News colleagues, declare it a "myth" that AZ law will lead to racial profiling
- Ingraham attacks Rep. Grijalva over boycott call, wonders if he believes U.S. "owes reparations" to Mexico
- Discussing whether AZ immigration law is constitutional, Beck declares, "The Constitution is not a suicide pact"
- Praising AZ immigration law, IBD says "Arizona has a window seat to an illegal invasion"
- Buchanan: "Arizona acted because" the federal government failed to "protect the states from invasion" of "illegal aliens"
There is a whole lot more where that came from.
McGuire is right when he says coverage of the issue "could be [a] ticket to heaven or hell." I'll let readers decide for themselves which ticket most media conservatives seem to have purchased.