Blaring Bannon coverage begs question: What’s happened to journalism?


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BANNON TOPS HEADLINES BUT WHY?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take a look at a story that developed last week, but I want to look at it in a little different way today. The story has to do with a book entitled “Fire and Fury” written by Michael Wolff. If you remember, last Wednesday, there were excerpts released from this book in The Guardian, which pitted Steve Bannon against Donald Trump, Jr. against the president, himself.

The way I want to take a look at this story, Harry, is the fact that, last Wednesday, suddenly, tabloid journalism seemed to supersede the actual news of the day.  

DR. REEDER: I’m not really interested in getting into the internal squabbles between the fired Steve Bannon and the Trump administration and Bannon’s assertions and Trump’s responses because I think that’s part of the problem – how the news went to this, not as an item story, but as the blaring headlines. Entire cable news companies – these were cable news companies that had dismissed Steve Bannon as a right-wing bigot and now, all of a sudden, he is their patron saint because of the stories that he’s providing.

FREEDOM OF PRESS IS CRUCIAL BUT SO IS RESPONSIBILITY

What I want to really get to is this: We are living in a country in which, in the ordering of our freedom with a Constitution, there was the establishment of a Bill of Rights and the First Amendment, with its six affirmations, were crucial. And the result of those six affirmations and the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights was the protection of and the encouragement of the free exercise of religion – and, therefore, the ministry of the church, in general – because they knew a nation governed by law required morality.

You can’t have morality and the value of law without the acknowledgment of a law-giver and the state said, “We are not the law-givers. The law-giver is God, Himself, so we want the free practice of religion to establish a morality in this nation that allows us to function.”

Secondly was the free practice of the press. The notion was that there would be responsible journalism. There was the desire that out there would be journalistic ethics and journalists who took their vocations seriously and that their desire was to get the news and an analysis of the news before the people.

Now, the ethic of journalism was that you report the news on one page and you do analysis on the other. Well, we are at a point now where the journalism that you would have seen as you checked out of the grocery store counter, which was the tabloid journalism of freakish news, has now become mainstream journalism and this becomes a specimen of that for examination.

WHAT ABOUT REAL STORIES?

Here, we are, a new year has just begun, a significant event is taking place, North and South Korea are actually having talks. Now, I don’t know what’s going to take place in the conversation, but that’s newsworthy. Also, this country just passed a sweeping tax reform bill and there is still a discussion: Is this helpful to everyone, is it not helpful, what is this going to do for our nation and for the working class of our nation? That kind of reporting needs to be done.

And, by the way, let’s go beyond that, Tom: There’s a gigantic story that’s taking place, even at the loss of life right now in Iran, where there are these Iranian protests for freedom that’s taking place very similar to what happened in 2008 and 2009. Will we respond in the same way in which we just kind of dismissed it and did not support this grass-roots movement looking for freedom and democracy?

And, by the way, I’m not talking about nation-building – I’m talking about just affirming. Will our country speak words of support as happened in Europe years ago under Ronald Reagan when these movements took place?

Tom, there are all kinds of stories that are out there: the need for a comprehensive infrastructure program, domestically – our roads, our bridges, our highways – all of those things need to be addressed. That’s what journalism ought to be doing in a responsible use of its protected freedom and, instead, we’ve got tabloid journalism. Again, I feel like I’m standing next to the counter checking out at the grocery store and over here is Variety with some grotesque story and that’s exactly what is taking place in the newspapers, in the blogosphere, and on cable news and absolutely dominating the broadcast news – or what’s called the “mainstream broadcast news” – in our country.

WHERE HAS JOURNALISM GONE?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, who’s winning the battle, though? We see, The New York Times, they’re losing so much money now, they’re actually having to lease out office space in The New York Times building.

DR. REEDER: What I would hope is that, newspaper-wise – and you would hope in terms of cable news and you would hope in terms of broadcast news – that someone would say, “You know what? We are not going to make the news. We don’t see ourselves as part of the news. We are actually going to report the news and here is another section that we are going to provide editorials from our news agency and op-ed opposition editorials to our news agency, but we’re going to separate those two and over here is reliable news reporting.”

The Jack Webb approach to journalism – just the facts, ma’am – if, somehow, we could have those who would just say, “Here is the news. We are going to report the news.”

Honestly, the closest thing I see to news reporting is one program on television right now and that’s The Special Report Program and, even that, I can’t say is really the prototype of what I believe ought to be present and what we desperately need in terms of journalism, journalistic ethics and some journalistic endeavor in print, digital and broadcast to say, “Here is the news. Yes, we have an editorial department, but here is the news.”

I know every reporter has a world and life view and a bent, but the ability to exercise discipline and say, “Here is what happened. Here’s who did it. Here’s what happened. Here’s what you need to think through. And, by the way, we have an editorial on this that’s coming up in the next program but here is what actually happened.” I don’t know of anyone doing it.

To answer your question, Tom, I do believe there’s a market for it. I believe that people would respond to it – that kind of clear communication – if it could be done.

TOMORROW’S THOUGHTS ON CHARITY DONATIONS

TOM LAMPRECT: Harry, we are out of time for today. Tomorrow, I want to look at a story out of The Free Beacon. The National Endowment for the Humanities has handed out, just last month, nearly $13 million for 253 different projects.

DR. REEDER: Now, Tom, this is going to be an interesting story that we’re going to do. Like today’s story, we may come at it differently than everybody else tomorrow and, let me say it this way, I am going to make a proposal tomorrow that my mother would be very proud of me. You will find out what that is and why I would say that tomorrow.

DON’T FORGET THE GOOD NEWS

Tom, may I end up by saying can I tell you one of the great privileges I have as a pastor is I get to report the news – it’s called “The Good News.” It’s called the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I can get up on a mountain and proclaim good news.

We who are in our sin helpless and hopeless, there is a God who loves us, who sent His Son and, even though His wrath is declared against those who would contradict Him in sin, His love has been displayed to save sinners through his son, Jesus Christ.

And you can come to Him no longer helpless – the Holy Spirit can give you the power to come to Christ and serve Him. No longer hopeless, the righteousness of Christ can surround you and the blood of Jesus can wash away your sins and I want to report that news today.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

18 mins ago

Birmingham’s new Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema is ready for its premiere

The new, permanent home of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will open its doors this weekend, just in time for this year’s event.

Chloe Cook, executive director of the Sidewalk Film Festival, said the 11,500 square-foot facility is not complete, but is far enough along to be used as a festival venue this weekend.

“After the festival we will go dark for a week,” Cook said. “Then we will have a soft opening Labor Day weekend before our grand opening September 13-15. We’re very excited.”

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Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema a dream come true from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The cinema, located in the basement of the Pizitz building on 2nd Avenue North, features two 89-seat theaters and an education room for special events. Outside of the festival week, it will function very much like a typical movie theater, operating seven days a week on a year-round basis, screening the latest independent feature films on one of two screens.

“We’re excited to have something slightly larger than a jewel-box movie theater, but not a huge multiplex-type facility where we can carefully curate the programming for our community,” Cook said. “When I took the job in 2009 I did not imagine this would come to fruition. I really think a lot of redevelopment in the north side of downtown Birmingham has happened around our annual festival and it continued happening to the point that we felt like the timing was right to pursue this project and fill that cultural void.”

Cook said the $4.9 million facility would not have happened without the generous support of a variety of contributors.

“We have been so fortunate to receive generous support from our corporate community, including Alabama Power (Foundation)Regions BankBlue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, as well as our foundation community,” Cook said. “We’ve seen support from the Hugh Kaul Foundation, The Stephens Foundation, The Daniel Foundation, but we’ve also seen a lot of individuals who are not people who could start a foundation but they can send in a check for $250 or $25. That’s been really rewarding.”

To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, visit MakeMovieMagic.com. To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Festival, visit SidewalkFest.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

SchoolFest sets the stage for Alabama children

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

Plato said art imitates life. Oscar Wilde said it was the other way around. It’s an argument that continues. However, one art form brings us face to face with the connection between art and life, perhaps better than any other: theater. It’s here people act out stories, hoping their audience forgets for a moment that it’s all make-believe. Were it not for the SchoolFest program of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), many Alabama children might never be exposed to the magic of theater.

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Every year, 40,000 students attend SchoolFest in Montgomery. From the professional actors to the costume and set design, the productions are the same as those presented to other ASF audiences. Thanks to grants from the Alabama Power Foundation and others, ticket prices are discounted and many schools attend for free, exposing students from all walks of life to art.

For some, it’s an experience they’ll never forget. For others, like Emily Prim, it’s life-changing. Prim is assistant wardrobe supervisor at ASF. She remembers distinctly when the “theater bug” bit her. “I was in seventh grade at St. James School in Montgomery. We had a field trip to SchoolFest, where we saw ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ I remember it so well, because there was a Ferris wheel on stage that was the peach, and I thought that was so cool. I was sorta thinking about theater, because of shows we had done in school and stuff, but when I came to see ‘James’ here, it made me start thinking that this is something I could do after I graduate,” Prim said.

Prim’s experience is what ASF is all about. Executive Director Todd Schmidt put it this way: “It’s really a bedrock of our mission at ASF, which is to create communities through transformative theatrical experiences. It’s a lot of kids’ first introduction to theater. It’s important to do that, especially in this time of continued cuts in arts funding.”

Shakespeare Festival’s SchoolFest puts the arts at center stage for Alabama students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Just in the past year, students have seen productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Our Town,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.” The latter featured 24 students from Montgomery Public Schools in the cast. Schmidt chooses shows that are appropriate for audiences of all ages. SchoolFest builds many of these productions around school curricula.

“We put our programming out to schools, and then they select what they think is relevant to what they’re doing and what they want their kids to be exposed to,” Schmidt said.

What started decades ago as productions appropriate for students has continued to expand. In addition to SchoolFest, ASF offers educational programs. There are theater classes for adults and children, and summer theater camps for students. ASF has hosted a series of conversations that are tied – at least in part – to the shows. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke alongside a cast member from “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.”

“These are not about our productions, but they focus on themes of the productions,” Schmidt said. “There’s one coming up that talks about women dealing with glass ceilings, working in fields normally dominated by men, which ties somewhat into the production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ and a new production, ‘Into the Breeches.’”

Lonny Harrison, director of theater at St. James School in Montgomery, has been bringing students to see productions at ASF for 21 years. “We have some students who, up to the point they’ve hit SchoolFest, have never seen a live production outside of a school play. This definitely helps get them more into the arts.

It seems like kids respond differently to every show, but whether it’s something that’s the most amazing thing to them, or something that makes them think more critically, it at least makes them think about it. When we left ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the other day, kids were saying, ‘Let’s do some Shakespeare!’ I had to tell them, ‘Small steps.’”

Harrison has a long history with SchoolFest. He saw stage productions at ASF when he was in school. His experience echoes that of many Alabamians. Were you to poll the state, you’d likely be amazed at the number of people of all ages who’ve shared the marvel of live performance in a theater at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

In Alabama, it’s a generational thing. When it comes to the art imitating life vs. life imitating art question, perhaps Shakespeare got it right when, in the second act of “As You Like It,” the character Jaques said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

The parts being played by the men and women of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival are a rich and vital service to the people of our state. These are the people who transform our children, who show them a new and lively way to understand stories, and life – its comedies and tragedies. These are the “players” who expand the minds of our young people, and show them a world that lives within their own ability to imagine.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

Aderholt’s advice for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate candidates: ‘Make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president’

Although it is still the early going of the 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary election campaign, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) has some advice for the handful of candidates seeking the GOP nod.

When asked what he saw as important to him and his constituents in Alabama’s fourth congressional district, he said it was support for President Donald Trump.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump dominated Aderholt’s district by winning more than 80% of the vote and was the only district in the country to break the 80% threshold.

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“They’ve clearly got to make sure that they make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president,” Aderholt said. “I mean, this president has as much support of any since I have been in office. I have never seen a president that has the support this president has. He has, everywhere I go, people are very optimistic that they are very positive about what he is doing. And they’re optimistic about the future. So I would first of all — they need to let their constituents, future constituents that are voters, know that they’re someone who would stand with the president.”

“As someone who is in another branch of government, we always want to make sure we don’t do just exactly like the executive or the president wants to do regardless of who it is,” he continued. “The Founding Fathers wanted the different branches to be a watchdog on each other. But, as I have seen from this president, the things that he is doing is consistent with what the voters want and what has been good for America. I’m fully supportive of this president. I think they need to communicate they’re supporting the president. I think that is probably the biggest thing right now. Alabama is a very pro-life state, and I think they need to communicate that, which again is consistent with the president’s message.”

Aderholt also suggested the Senate candidates should be supportive of Trump’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.

“I am also getting the feedback that the Mexican-Canadian trade agreement that the president is trying to negotiate — to redo NAFTA, people are very supportive of that,” Aderholt added. “But again, the president has been very supportive of these issues. What the president is doing, I’m very supportive of. I don’t see any issue as far as supporting what the president’s issue is.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

5 hours ago

Georgia-based Colonial sues contractor over Alabama spill

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. has sued an Alabama contractor over a spill that threatened gasoline supplies along the East Coast three years ago.

The pipeline operator contends faulty work by the Birmingham-based Ceco Pipeline Services caused a crack that spilled at least 250,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Shelby County in September 2016.

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The spill shut down a major pipeline for weeks, tightening gasoline supplies along the Eastern Seaboard.

The pipeline carries fuel from Houston to metropolitan New York.

With headquarters near Atlanta in Alpharetta, Colonial Pipeline filed the federal lawsuit Friday seeking an unspecified amount of money.

Ceco Pipeline Services has not filed a response in court, and general manager Luke Hotze declined comment Monday, citing the lawsuit.

Hired to replace coatings that protect the pipeline’s exterior, the contractor failed to adequately replace dirt around the pipeline after maintenance work, the suit said.

The failure left a void beneath the pipe, which bent as it sagged.

The bend caused cracks that led to the breach, according to the suit.

The failure cost Colonial Pipeline lost income, plus money spent on repairs and cleanup, the lawsuit said without specifying an amount.

The lawsuit said Colonial Pipeline transports an average of 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of refined petroleum products daily through a system that includes more than 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of pipeline.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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‘School choice’ also means ‘tax choice’ in Alabama

It’s back-to-school season and for some parents, this is a happy time.

But for those whose children are stuck in underperforming schools, or schools where they are bullied or are in danger, this is a heartbreaking time, especially if they cannot afford to move or go to private school.

“There was fighting every day. People wanted to shoot me, kill me, and everything,” said Calvin Coleman in a speech about his experiences at his Mobile public high school.

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Did you know that you, or your company, can help students like Calvin by donating a portion of what you already owe in state income taxes to a program that funds scholarships for low-income families in Alabama?

“When my son Carlos was in the fifth grade, he was constantly bullied and I wanted to desperately put him into a private school,” wrote Nyenya Webster of Montgomery in Alabama Daily News. Every day was a struggle, she added. “I was at a loss as to what to do to help my son.”

Then Webster learned about the tax-credit scholarship program created in 2013 by the Alabama Accountability Act that serves roughly 4,000 low-income, mostly minority Alabama students.

She applied, and Carlos received a scholarship to attend Success Unlimited Academy in Montgomery.

“Success Unlimited has been a lifesaver for my son,” Webster wrote. “He … is now considering college. My son never talked about going to college before Success.”

For those who want to help other Alabama families break the cycle of poverty through education, it’s a no-brainer.

“For a donor, it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Warren Callaway, executive director of Scholarships For Kids, one of the scholarship granting organizations funded by the program.

That’s because a tax credit is different from a charitable contribution. When you make a charitable contribution to a non-profit organization, you deduct a portion of that on your income tax. However, a tax credit allows you to take a dollar for dollar reduction in your state income tax.

“Basically, donors are redirecting some of their state income tax liability to a [scholarship granting organization],” Callaway said. “So, if you give $100 to us, you can reduce your state income tax by $100.”

Who benefits from the donation?

“The average household income for these students is under $30,000 so these are families that would have no other way of choosing the school that is best for their child,” said Ryan Cantrell, director of state strategy and political affairs for the American Federation for Children, during an interview of the 1819 podcast.

Higher-income families have always had school choice, Cantrell said, but “it’s the low-income families who get stuck with no options in under-performing schools or schools that don’t work for their child.”

There are $30 million in tax credits available and, so far, only about a third have been claimed, according to the Department of Revenue’s My Alabama Taxes website.

Here’s how you can reserve your tax credit before the December 31, 2019, deadline:

Step 1: Estimate how much income tax you or your business will owe Alabama next year by checking how much you paid last year. Individuals and corporations can donate up to 50 percent of their tax bill, and while individuals are limited to $50,000, corporations are unlimited.

Step 2: Visit the My Alabama Taxes website and follow instructions for reserving an Alabama Accountability Act tax credit.

Step 3: Send a check to one of the seven scholarship granting organizations in Alabama within 30 days.

Step 4: When you do your taxes next year, fill out an Alabama Department of Revenue Schedule AATC form to reduce your income tax bill by the amount you donated.

For more help, individuals may call the Alabama Department of Revenue at 334-353-0602 or 334-353-9770, and corporations may call 334-242-1200.

You’re already going to have to write a check for your state income taxes. Why not control where some of that money goes, especially when it has the power to change lives?

“It was a relief that nobody would understand,” said mother-of-five Alleane West in an Alabama Opportunity Scholarship video about the program’s impact on her family. “You know, you’re a single mom with boys trying to not make them a statistic.”

Watch:

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is a senior fellow at the Alabama Policy Institute. Connect with her at rachel@alabamapolicy.org or on Instagram @RachelBlackmonBryars.