on October 14, 2019 by Sean Michael Milligan in Journal, Comments (0)

BREAKING: JOURNALISM IMPORTANT

The news has famously been called “the first rough draft of history,” a description that resonates strongly in the Washington Post story “Delving into ‘the weeping time,'” by Michael E. Ruane. The article tells of historians researching the largest slave auction in U.S. history, which occurred on March 2 and 3, 1859, only two years before the Civil War began. With the benefit of hindsight and a more liberal modern mindset, of course, it is easy to see this event for the abominable human rights violation that it — and the entire institution of slavery — was.

We would not have such a clear picture of this auction, however, had it not been for the undercover reporting work of Mortimer Thomson, who disguised himself as a buyer —”even plac[ing] a low bid here and there to maintain his cover,” according to Ruane — in order to get an up-close-and-personal view of the event. Ruane writes that his story, published six days after the auction, “was a national sensation.”

Now, 160 years later, that article is proving an invaluable primary source for researchers. It’s a powerful example of the documentary value that journalism provides to a civilization, allowing us to see the world, at least in part, the way those of ages past saw it.

BREAKING: TEENS AS REBELLIOUS AS EVER

on October 12, 2019 by Sean Michael Milligan in Journal, Comments (0)

I have a number of issues with Samantha Schmidt’s Washington Post article “Parents navigate the dress code debate.” First, why now? The article, which centers on girls’ clothing choices as they […]

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BREAKING: RURAL AMERICA HAS MORE PROBLEMS THAN YOU THOUGHT

on October 5, 2019 by Sean Michael Milligan in Journal, Comments (0)

One would think that all there is to talk about this week is impeachment, but as it turns out, there’s still a lot of other stuff happening in the world. […]

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BREAKING: GENTRIFICATION KIND OF A MESS

on September 24, 2019 by Sean Michael Milligan in Journal, Comments (0)

DeNeen L. Brown’s front page story “Pushed Out”, from this weekend’s Washington Post, is an excellent example of a more narrative-style article. The entire piece is centered on a single “protagonist”, […]

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BREAKING: EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE HAVE BEEN OBVIOUS FOR DECADES

on September 19, 2019 by Sean Michael Milligan in Journal, Comments (0)

The Washington Post‘s center front page story this past weekend was an in-depth piece about the effects of climate change—not future effects, but past. In particular, the article focused on a […]

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BREAKING: HURRICANES STILL DANGEROUS IN 2019

on September 9, 2019 by Sean Michael Milligan in Journal, Comments (0)

The biggest story of these past weeks has been Hurricane Dorian, and I’ve taken note of a few things about NPR’s coverage of the storm. The first I heard of […]

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BREAKING: RACISM DEEPLY EMBEDDED IN AMERICAN CULTURE

on September 8, 2019 by Sean Michael Milligan in Journal, Comments (0)

I’ve chosen to focus this first journal entry on The 1619 Project, an effort by The New York Times Magazine to emphasize how deeply racism is entrenched in American culture. Named for […]

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