August 25, 2022

Wednesday marked six months since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Each day, another news story in America seems to bump the war off the front pages of newspapers and into the second block of the evening network newscast — stories such as abortion debates and primaries and FBI searches. On Wednesday, the big news was President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan.

But the war wages on in Ukraine, and journalists continue to produce critical work.

Take this from The New York Times’ Anton Troianovski, Andrew E. Kramer and Steven Erlanger: “6 Months Into War, Ukraine and Russia Are Both Reshaped.”

I found this passage to be striking:

It is a war in which violence and normality coexist — death and destruction at the 1,500-mile front and packed cafes in Kyiv, just a few hundred miles to the west.

It is a war fought in trenches and artillery duels, but defined in great part by the political whims of Americans and Europeans, whose willingness to endure inflation and energy shortages could shape the next stage of the conflict.

And it is a war of imagery and messaging, fought between two countries whose deep family ties have helped turn social media into a battlefield of its own.

When will it end? How will it end? So many questions remain unanswered, while so much destruction rages on.

Here are more of the latest notable pieces of journalism about the war.

Wemple’s take

Everyone seems to be weighing in on CNN canceling its media show, “Reliable Sources,” and parting ways with host Brian Stelter. The latest is respected Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple with “What does Brian Stelter’s ouster from CNN have to do with Fox News? Everything.”

Wemple wrote, “With this swift, late-summer move, CNN boss Chris Licht rid the network of some predictable Sunday programming. He also managed two less impressive feats: depriving CNN of a clearinghouse for media coverage and succumbing to propaganda from Fox News, which has been gunning for Stelter for years.”

That’s just a paragraph from a good column you should read in its entirety.

Meet the new boss

NBC’s “Meet the Press” has a new executive producer. It’s David P. Gelles, who returns to NBC after spending nearly a decade at CNN. Gelles will succeed John Reiss, who will move over to run “Meet the Press Reports” — a single-topic “MTP” series on the streaming service NBC News NOW.

Reiss had been EP of the iconic Sunday morning news show for the past eight years. Gelles was most recently at CNN+ — the streaming service that was shut down earlier this year only one month after its launch. Gelles’ resume at CNN also included time as a senior broadcast producer for “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” and an executive producer on CNN’s political and special events programming.

For Gelles, it’s a return to his old stomping grounds. He was a producer for NBC News’ “Today” show from 2006 to 2011 and was a producer on Brian Williams’ “Rock Center” from 2011 to 2013.

Deadline’s Ted Johnson has more.

Read this

A must-read from Los Angeles Times opinion columnist Jean Guerrero: “Latinophobia in mainstream news fuels the radical right.”

Guerrero writes, “A main driver of democracy’s decline in the United States is Latinophobia — from its central role in the rise of Donald Trump to its influence in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Any news media company concerned with democracy should be engaged in a concerted and urgent campaign to stop this plague. Instead, the news media are superspreaders for Latinophobia.”

That phobia is the delusional belief that the U.S.-Mexico border is being invaded and white Americans are being replaced. Guerrero notes that this isn’t just the junk being spewed in prime time on Fox News, but that “left-of-center media are complicit.”

Guerrero goes on to write, “‘Both-siderism’ is a risk in journalism broadly, made worse on Latino issues by the dearth of Latinos in news media. We need more Latino media executives, reporters, anchors, guests and sources so they can challenge negative stereotypes that fuel white extremism. The framing of immigration by left-of-center news media is particularly dangerous because it so often depicts people as a ‘surge’ or an ‘influx,’ as if they’re numbers, not humans — just as Fox News does.”

There’s plenty more to this column.

Death of Hall of Fame player and broadcaster

Former NFL quarterback Len Dawson in 2017. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley, File)

The great Len Dawson has died. He was 87. The longtime quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs was the MVP of Super Bowl IV and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1987. But he also made a significant impact as a broadcaster, and was honored again by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. He spent 33 years in broadcasting, most notably as a game analyst for NBC and the host of HBO’s “Inside the NFL.”

Here is a good remembrance from ESPN.

Also, there’s a quite famous photo of Dawson taking a drag from a cigarette while in full uniform during halftime of Super Bowl I. Scooby Axson wrote about it for USA Today. The photo, taken by Bill Ray for Life Magazine, wasn’t published at the time. In fact, it wasn’t published until four decades later, but it has become famous in sports circles.

Speaking of Ray, he was known for more than his Dawson photo. He also took iconic photos of Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley as an Army private, and war and other news photos. He died in 2020 and here’s an interesting obit from the time from The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir.

Another noteworthy passing

British photographer Tim Page, surrounded by Cambodian children at a coffee stand in Chimpou, Cambodia, in 1991. (AP Photo/Jeff Widener)

Here’s how The Washington Post’s Matt Schudel described Vietnam War photographer Tim Page: “… a renegade British photojournalist who was known for getting so close to the action that he was wounded four times. Once, after a U.S. patrol boat he was aboard was attacked — by U.S. planes and by South Vietnamese soldiers and the North Vietnamese-allied Viet Cong guerrillas — Mr. Page was evacuated to a hospital, where more than 300 pieces of shrapnel were removed from his body.”

Page died Wednesday from liver and pancreatic cancer, according to a friend. He was 78.

Page also was the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s character in “Apocalypse Now,” Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film about the Vietnam War.

Schudel wrote in the Post, “In 1975, Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner wanted to send gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson to cover the final days of the Vietnam War with Mr. Page. Thompson, known for his rampant drug use and love of guns, turned down the offer, reportedly calling Mr. Page too wild even for him.”

Page was an important photographer during the Vietnam War. Schudel wrote, “Irreverent and cynical, Mr. Page could be annoying to U.S. military officials, but he earned the respect of the grunts on the ground because he was close to their age and walked every muddy step alongside them.”

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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