Minnesota Monitor – the group blog funded by a group that shares offices with George Soros’ attack-PR firm “Media Matters”, but whose operatives claim there’s no connection, nosirreebob, although no financials seem to be available – wrote about last week’s incident at Dordt College in Sioux Center Iowa (which I wrote about below):
Expect more events like these as Soulforce and the Equality Ride directly confront the institutions that produce this type of hatred. These people are doing the really hard work for the LGBTcommunity. If you have the means, please visit Soulforce and give a donation.
They left some parts out. According to the Sioux City Journal, Dordt – which is a Christian school that explicitly prohibits gay relationships on campus (as is their First Amendment right; nobody forces anyone to attend Dordt), not only invited “Soulforce Q” – the gay activists from the Twin Cities who were the victims of last week’s vandalism – but would seem to have gone the extra mile in dealing with the vandalism:
The group contacted Dordt officials a few months ago to set up a panel discussion between its members and Dordt officials about the college’s GLBT policies, also having students accompany members around campus and facilitate conversations, said Norlan De Groot, Dordt director of public relations.
“We allowed their visit for two reasons: We considered this to be a learning opportunity for our students and an opportunity for Christian witness,” De Groot said…College officials were “saddened” to learn about the vandalism and apologized to the riders for its occurrence in Sioux Center, he said. Dordt maintenance workers cleaned the graffiti off of the vehicle.
“We don’t want to see that happen here,” De Groot said…The harassment and vandalism was reported to Sioux Center police, [college media relations guy Kyle] DeVries said. There was no indication anyone associated with Dordt was involved in the incidents.
(De Groot? De Vries? Dordt? Ik sprek niet so veel Nederlands! But I digress).
Go back and read the MNMon piece on the subject. You could search for any of these facts – that Dordt did their best to both welcome the group and atone for the bad behavior of whomever committed the vandalism – but you’d search in vain.
When Minnesota Monitor came onto the scene, they said with a straight face (or as straight a face as Robin “Rew” Marty ever affects, at any rate) that because they took their organization’s “pledge”, they were a step or two above, better, and more reliable than run-of-the-mill bloggers.
So let’s check out their “Code of Ethics” on behalf of reporter Andy Birkey’s story:
New Journalist Fellows should be honest, tireless, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information for the public…
I think it’s safe to say that Andy Birkey has tirelessly interpreted the events.
Never misrepresent events in an attempt to oversimplify or take events out of context…
Do you think the entire context of the story was correctly represented?
Never limit their reporting to information that people want to hear…
If you assume that MNMon’s audience wants to hear “Small-town Christians (or maybe just Christians in general) are bigots!”, then I think that’s what MNMon has done.
Seek to improve the public discourse by never stereotyping based on race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
Given what was omitted from Birkey’s story, I think religious stereotyping is pretty much inevitable.
Use both official and unofficial sources to acknowledge and give voice to those without traditional power.
Birkey and MNMon seem to have ignored a couple of official sources.
* Acknowledge the difference between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be understood as such.
Re-read Birkey’s last paragraph: “Expect more events like these as Soulforce and the Equality Ride directly confront the institutions that produce this type of hatred. ” Did Birkey fulfill his duties under “the pledge?”
New Journalist Fellows must maintain a sense of decency and integrity by treating sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
By ignoring Dordt’s efforts to invite and welcome “Soulforce Q”, and their efforts to atone for whomever committed the vandalism, Birkey and MNMon violated this term.
* [Pledgors should] Recognize the possible negative effects of their news stories, and remain humble in the pursuit of gathering and reporting information.
“Expect more events like these as Soulforce and the Equality Ride directly confront the institutions that produce this type of hatred. ”
New Journalist Fellows should inform the public of news stories and issues without letting improper relationships compromise their integrity.
One might be bidden to wonder if Andy Birkey’s obvious sympathies for Soulforce Q might not call his commitment to this part of “the pledge” into question?
Since one or the other of the usual suspects in my comment section will no doubt yap about this, I’ll head y’all off at the pass: Yes. To some extent, the fact that I am a Christian colors my approach to these kinds of stories. Given the anti-Christian bigotry that suffuses so much of the lefty media, I tend to give Christians the benefit of the doubt. And I think that, given the facts that Andy Birkey left out of his victim-mongering polemic, those doubts are amply justified.
* [Pledgors should] Always be fair, but always favor truth over balance.
It’d seem Birkey achieved neither…
* Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived, and disclose unavoidable conflicts.
What is Birkey’s relationship with “Soulforce Q”? While his sympathies are apparent in context (“Expect more events like these as Soulforce and the Equality Ride directly confront the institutions that produce this type of hatred”), his relationship is not. If there is a relationship, that’s fine – I’m up-front about my own sympathies, so as to help the reader gauge my own detachment, or lack of it, from a story. The tone of the story begs the question.
* Maintain integrity by resisting pressure from advertisers and special interests to influence news coverage.
So why did Birkey’s piece not report the whole story?
New Journalist Fellows are accountable to their readers, critics, advocates and each other as well as to the public at large.
OK. From where does your organization’s money come?
We can start there!
* Keep an open dialogue with the public in an effort to maintain and improve standards.
* Encourage the public to use the information they have to question and analyze news stories on their own, and voice grievances when they feel stories are wrong.
* Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
* Expose unethical practices among each other and wherever they are found to maintain professional standards.
* Keep the same high standards to which they hold others.
We’ll see, won’t we?
CORRECTION: Of course, it’s Andy Birkey, not Matt.