June 19, 2020

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief, a weekly selection of news stories from journalism outlets operating outside traditional corporate systems and news organizations.

The Headlines

PCIM Original

Watch: Journalism Voices on Pandemic and Protest (The Park Center for Independent Media)

U.S. Election

Kamala Harris Reading Guide: The Best Reporting on the Vice Presidential Candidate (ProPublica)

“Kinship” Isn’t Enough — Harris Must Be Accountable to Black People (Truthout)

The campaign begins (again) (Columbia Journalism Review)

Voting Rights

Trump says he’ll block aid from Postal Service: ‘That means you can’t have universal mail-in voting’ (Salon)

‘Just Comes Out and Says It’: Trump Declares Postal Service Can’t Handle Mail-In Voting Because He’s Blocking Funding (Common Dreams)

‘A Conspiracy to Steal the Election, Folks’: Alarms Sound After Postal Worker Reports Removal of Sorting Machines (Common Dreams)

Racial Justice and Police Reform

Activist Voices Missing From Corporate Coverage of Uprisings (FAIR)

The Infuriating History of Why Police Unions Have So Much Power (Mother Jones)


Video: Covid-19 Will Be Just ‘One of Many’ New Infectious Diseases Spilling Over From Animals to Humans (InsideClimate News)

PCIM Original
Watch: Journalism Voices on Pandemic and Protest (The Park Center for Independent Media)

Four esteemed voices in media joined PCIM on July 29 to discuss recent changes in journalism amid pandemic and protest. Moderated by PCIM Director Raza Rumi, the conversation invited valuable perspectives from each of the four panelists: The Independent’s chief U.S. correspondent Andrew Buncombe, Montclair State University assistant professor Dr. Tara L. Conley, The Nation editor D.D. Guttenplan, and newsroom editorial director Amanda Silverman of Mother Jones.

Watch the full webinar, Journalism in Times of Pandemic and Protest, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roXrZ23i21U

U.S. Election
Kamala Harris Reading Guide

On Tuesday, former President Joe Biden selected Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as his vice-presidential running mate. ProPublica compiled a list of the best stories on Harris, analyzing the various eras of her career.

Three pieces, from The New York Times, Politico, and The Washington Post, outline the parabolic trajectory of Harris’ presidential bid in 2019, ending with a June 2020 piece on how she and Biden connected despite debate tensions.

Continuing sections cover her terms as senator and attorney general of California, district attorney of San Francisco, and general background.

Harris Must Be Accountable to Black People

Kamala Harris’s selection as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee calls to mind a quote credited to writer and folklorist Zora Neal Hurston: “all my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.”

Truthout writes the choice of Harris raises questions about how “expectations of kinship with Black communities runs counter to the possibilities of accountability.” Harris’ identities shouldn’t obfuscate her record, which includes laughing about jailing parents over truancy and denying gender-affirming surgeries for trans prisoners.

It isn’t enough that young Black Americans will probably, reluctantly, vote Biden-Harris. “Black, Brown, queer, trans, disabled, poor, undocumented and under-insured Americans require political leadership that not only looks like them but also keenly understands and advocates on behalf of the policies that sustain their lives.”

The Campaign Begins (Again)

Joe Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris as his running mate restarted pandemic-paused activity on election reporters’ beat. Columbia Journalism Review says their instinct now is to “pick up where they left off—to wallow in the trivia of the candidates’ personalities and polls.”

The first day of Harris coverage foregrounded the minutia of Biden’s selection process, with The New York Times treating Harris’ policy like a sidebar and CNN broadcasting Trump’s sexist live reaction.

For a few months, as a deadly pandemic and uprisings against police killings of Black people swept the nation, media recognized the danger of freely amplifying politicians and police. “The disinformation streaming from officials was rightfully hectored, then ignored.”

So why should journalists return to the status quo now, ignoring lessons from the spring and summer? “The press must look past the campaign coverage that was and embrace its role as a safeguard of democracy.”

Voting Rights
Trump Aims to Block Aid from Postal Service

On Tuesday, the head of the Iowa Postal Workers Union alleged that mail sorting machines are being removed from her state due to policies imposed by the Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, whose operational changes have caused major nationwide mail slowdowns, reports Common Dreams.

And, as Salon covers, Donald Trump told Fox Business on Thursday that he’ll continue blocking aid to the U.S. Postal Service, acknowledging that doing so would undermine states’ plans to expand mail-in voting for Election Day.

While USPS leadership insists it has “ample capacity” to meet election needs, postal workers have warned that without emergency funding, the agency could struggle to deliver mail-in ballots on time in November, says Common Dreams.

Racial Justice and Police Reform
Activist Voices Missing From Corporate Coverage of Uprisings

Protesters for racial justice following the police murder of George Floyd have attracted a “frenzy of media commentary.” FAIR looked at whose voices have been featured in some of the U.S.’s most prominent outlets, finding that establishment media “overwhelmingly turned to columnists, pundits and government officials for interpretation of the uprisings—rather than to the activists facing tear gas on the frontlines.”

Protesters have been left without a media platform, particularity in the opinion columns of The New York Times and Washington Post, which have instead been featuring vague calls for justice and reform from neoliberal elites.

FAIR criticizes media for reducing coverage to the question of violent or non-violent demonstration, missing protesters’ messages and further alienating their perspectives and demands.

The Infuriating History of Police Unions

Mother Jones’s Big Feature digs through police unions’ dogged defense of offending police officers, opening with the story of Michael Sauro.

The man had been an officer for 15 years when he brutalized a rowdy white student at a 1990 Minneapolis New Year’s Eve party. He had never been disciplined and four years later, when a court found Sauro had used excessive force, the student was awarded $700,000. Sauro now had 32 citizen complaints against him—none had been sustained.

The mayor fired Sauro. His union forced the city to rehire him. Then he punched a Black student at the same party as four years earlier. His chief fired him this time, before the union forced another re-hire.

Police unions have retained high membership in recent years even as other labor unions have shrunk. They are “key to understanding why officers across the country escape discipline time and again after beating or killing people.”

Lee Fang with the tweet of the week:
Covid-19 Will Be Just ‘One of Many’ Zoonic Diseases

As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the world’s economies and health care systems, epidemiologists and infectious disease experts are increasingly focusing on how to prevent the next pandemic, rather than solely reacting to this one.

InsideClimate News writes COVID-19 taught much about global disease response, but most importantly that we need to significantly alter our relationship with the natural world to prevent the next pandemic.

At this point, there have been thousands of reports on COVID-19, but scientists must start shifting attention to identifying and containing the spread of future zoonic diseases.

In Other News

1. Immigrants who speak out against being doused in toxic disinfectant for Covid at Trump-funded detention centre face retaliation, activists says (The Independent)

2. The Plan That Could Give Us Our Lives Back (The Atlantic)

3. Trump’s Top DHS Officials Aren’t Legally Eligible For Their Jobs, Watchdog Says (HuffPost)

4. US Postal Service warns of risk of delay for mail-in votes (BBC)

5. Three Mississippi police officers charged with murder of black man (The Guardian)

Read previous Briefs and more from independent media on the PCIM website, and follow PCIM on social media: Facebook | Twitter

The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.