June 9, 2022

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief. Subscribe for a weekly selection of news stories from journalists operating outside traditional corporate systems.

The Edge
The COVID 10 Million

Around May 15, 2022, the United States reached one million COVID deaths. During these last 2 1/2 pandemic years, denial and repression of trauma have surrounded the lives of those who died and their estimated nine million family members.

Now, wistful invocations of a return to normal waft in and out of everyday conversations and politicians’ speeches. Unraveling the sharing of grief and stories, Patricia Zimmermann describes the silences enveloping her mother’s death from COVID and how people-powered organizations can make such losses heard.

“This invisibility of public mourning exposes a collective anesthesia that COVID has changed how we live. It blocks out disease, pandemic, and any recognition that the ‘before time’ may never return.”

Read Zimmermann’s full commentary on The Edge.

What’s in the US’s Massive Military Aid Package to Ukraine

The colossal $40 billion U.S. arms aid package to Ukraine contains only $17 billion is for actual weapons (and training) going to Ukrainian military forces. Still, Dave Lindorff notes, $17 billion could buy a lot of food aid.

The U.S.’s total military support to Ukraine during the four months since the war began amounts to one-third of Russia’s entire 2021 military budget, and 11% of Ukraine’s 2021 GDP.

The advanced equipment lavished on Ukraine’s military will likely result in corruption, according to Lindorff, as it represents a huge arsenal for 250,000 regular troops to manage. Further, the aid bill failed to include language establishing an inspector general to monitor spending and track where all the weapons will go.

 Read Lindorff’s full commentary on The Edge.

‘Balanced’ Coverage Hides Context for Shireen Abu Akleh’s Killing

On May 11, Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera reporter who covered Palestine for two decades, was shot and killed while covering an Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

Even as evidence mounted that Israeli forces had opened fire on her and nearby journalists, U.S. media’s coverage in many cases committed to a back-and-forth framing involving Israeli and Palestine forces, obscuring who was responsible.

FAIR wrote of coverage in the New York Times and other mainstream outlets, “The reporting illustrated how ‘balance’ and fragments of disjointed ‘facts’ have become a stylistic method to confuse and obliterate meaningful connections that drain compassion, outrage and demands for justice for the victims of state violence.”

Read the full report on The Edge.

Jenni Monet on “Indigenously” Newsletter at Izzy Award 2022

Patricia Rodriguez, associate professor and chair of the Department of Politics at Ithaca College, introduced Izzy Award winner Jenni Monet at this year’s ceremony. With her newsletter, “Indigenously: Decolonizing Your Newsfeed,” Monet produces reader-funded reporting each week concerning Indigenous affairs, filling in gaps left by public education and media ecosystems. “Each edition is centered around a certain theme that speaks to what is happening in the Indigenous world,” she said.

Monet speaks to the beauty of community and conservation from her travels in Alaska and confronts the legacy of violence and ignorance still haunting Native Americans today. She says, “This is meant to be a brave portal to challenge questions and events that you’re just not seeing in your newsfeed.”

Watch Monet’s remarks at the Izzy Award here.

January 6 Insurrection
The January 6 Committee Is Doing What the Political Media Failed to Do

The January 6 attack on the Capitol was only one element of the organized, intentional, and ongoing attempt by the Republican Party to overturn the results of a free, fair, and proper election. Dan Froomkin for Press Watch writes that U.S. news organizations have failed to express the extend of this “criminal, seditious conspiracy.”

“They have failed miserably to communicate what’s at stake in the midterm elections, and how the choice voters face in November is not simply between two parties, or a referendum on President Biden, or the economy, but is about either succumbing to or resisting a slide into autocracy and patriarchal theocracy.”

Given that the January 6 select congressional committee is attempting to do the job the media failed to do, Froomkin fears newsrooms will respond defensively, with partisan framing and both-sidesim.

Instead, journalists should embrace and contextualize the committee’s attempt at truth telling, and ensure the public understands what to do about it.

In Other News

1. The 6 Jan hearings vow to ‘change history.’ Here’s what to expect | The Independent

2. The One Group That Could Make a Difference on Gun Control | The Atlantic

3. Corporations Say Happy Pride, But For How Much Longer? | HuffPost

4. Ukraine war prompts fossil fuel ‘gold rush’ | BBC

5. Pressure mounts on Senate to act on gun safety amid Republican resistance | The Guardian

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The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.