I miss the days when I had Donald Trump on speed dial. Not that I enjoyed our conversations—if converse is the right term. Even then, years before he hit the campaign trail, the Donald was a monologist.
For criminal investigators, seeing is not believing. The keys to their work are skepticism, multiple hypotheses, and guarding against bias. It takes specialized training to apply that mindset in the digital world where yearly, a trillion photographs and videos are uploaded. Teaching students how to rigorously verify open source material found on social media is the mission of the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center’s Investigation Lab at Berkeley Law.
Posted on October 18, 2017 - 1:55pm
When Rebecca Skloot was 16 years old, her biology teacher wrote a name on the blackboard: “Henrietta Lacks.” He explained that Lacks was a black woman whose surgeon had extracted cells from her tumor in 1951. They turned out to be the first human cells to survive indefinitely in a laboratory. Billions of so-called HeLa cells lived in labs around the world and had helped produce treatments for leukemia, influenza, Parkinson’s disease, and many other ailments.
Posted on May 18, 2017 - 11:42am
In January 2016, David Fahrenthold, a political reporter at The Washington Post, took note as Donald Trump promised to donate $6 million to help veterans, including $1 million of his own, during a televised fundraiser. As he followed the presidential candidate to rallies across the country, Fahrenthold saw him hand over about $1 million in oversized checks from his foundation. What happened to the rest of the money? he wondered. Fahrenthold expected it would take him a couple of days to find out.
Posted on May 8, 2017 - 1:53pm
When Sonia Nazario was 14 years old, she and her mother came across a pool of blood on the sidewalk. It had been about a year since they’d moved from Kansas to her mother’s native Argentina, right at the onset of the country’s “Dirty War.” She asked her mother about the blood. “The military killed two journalists today, for telling the truth about what’s going on here,” Nazario recalls her saying.
Posted on April 6, 2017 - 3:55pm
Seven hours before Shane Bauer was to start his 6 a.m. shift at the Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Louisiana, his wife shook him awake. “Something’s wrong,” she said. His colleague from the magazine Mother Jones, James West, hadn’t returned from shooting nighttime footage of the private prison where Bauer worked. Had officials there discovered that Bauer wasn’t just a regular guard, but an investigative reporter from San Francisco?
Over the course of the 2016 election, media companies wrestled with increasingly knotty ethical challenges—how to avoid false equivalencies in reporting, what to call a blatant lie, and how to respond professionally (impartially?) to a candidate who routinely called journalists “liars” and “scum”.
Posted on January 18, 2017 - 1:58pm
Over the last decade, UC Berkeley alum Julie Bloom hopped, pranced and jumped across the tumultuous and unstable journalism landscape—first covering dance and the arts before moving to more news and finally managing to land in her current position at the New York Times as an editor on the National Desk.
Posted on November 7, 2016 - 4:13pm
Not long ago, they were the pulse of the American political campaign: Mom and Dad, sitting in front of the nightly news broadcast on TV, armed with a dog-eared copy of the daily newspaper. The ads, the daily coverage and editorials, televised debates, polls and TV ratings—over dinner-table discourse, it all mattered.
The campus was shining as only our spectacular splotch of Bay Area real estate can do. Clusters of high school kids posed for pictures at the university they hoped to attend. Cal T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, and athletic jackets sauntered by. Frisbees flew, and a giant dog galloped over to offer a passionate greeting that left me happily cloaked in white fur.
In 2000, Tina Rosenberg, a journalist for The New York Times, pitched a story for its Sunday magazine about the AIDS epidemic ravaging the world’s poorest nations. She wanted to show how pharmaceutical companies had pressured governments in sub-Saharan Africa, where 1 in 12 adults were living with HIV or AIDS, to deny access to generic drugs, making treatment unaffordable.
Her editor’s response: “I cannot subject our readers to another 7,000-word story on how everybody is going to die in Malawi.”
Posted on April 6, 2016 - 4:08pm
Lately, I’ve been thinking about an incident that happened in 1965, seven years before I was born. It centered on an antiwar protest in Berkeley, one of the first of countless such protests to come. Though just a blip in the grand scheme of Vietnam era turmoil, it seems to point to something important about America and the nature of patriotism.
It starts with a guy named “Tiny.” Tiny was 6’7” and 300 pounds. And he really liked to fight.
Punk rock, which was big during the years writer Sam Quinones spent at UC Berkeley, turned out to be more than just the background noise of an undergraduate life.
For Quinones, who double-majored in economics and American history, it provided an opportunity. He produced several punk shows while he was a student living at the now-shuttered Barrington Hall co-op, bringing in well-known bands such as The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag. “They were probably the biggest shows ever at Barrington Hall,” he said.
Photographer and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism professor Ken Light’s new photography collection, What’s Going On, opens with copies from his FBI file.
Posted on February 8, 2016 - 1:21pm
For a brief moment, back when the tech revolution was young, I was an early adopter.
I was sucked in by that 1984 Apple ad that ran during the Super Bowl. I can’t recall a thing about the game, but I remember every detail of that ad: the woman running in her tank top one step ahead of the goons; the rows of corporate weirdos staring in open-mouthed horror; the hammer sailing toward the giant screen, smashing the Big Brother cult.