Virginia tops a shameful national record

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"He slammed me down, and then he handcuffed me.”

That’s a quote from an 11-year-old black child with autism in a story by our Juvenile Justice and all-around ace reporter Susan Ferriss. In a period when we’ve all seen harrowing video of a black man being shot in the back multiple times by a police officer, Susan’s story is highly relevant. It has superb data behind it which establishes it as far more than a sad story about one boy badly treated by the system.

I am new to Public Integrity but I have seldom been more angered by a story of such profound injustice.

Read the story and look at the data and see the many young people, pre-teens, kids, who are being criminalized and in some cases incarcerated. The proportion that is black is way out of all statistical reason as in many cases is the cohort of those defined as “disabled”.

I challenge anyone to read it and not come away with a sense of shame, certainly I hope the governor of Virginia will.

Please take a look at the story and let me know what you think.

Ben Wieder collected and made sense of the data that shows the appalling case of the 11-year-old autistic boy Kayleb Moon-Robinson is not just another sob-story, even if it could ever be dismissed in that way. Chris Zubak-Skees set the data to music, as it were, making the toll on kids literally graphic. It is the sort of work Public Integrity leads on: social issues made personal but backed up with hard data. That’ll be why the story is doing well on partners like Time.com and PRI and  has been on the Reveal podcast and radio show.  Powered by @Publici.

Polk Awards recognize the ICIJ – the only “digital” winner

Gerard Ryle, the director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and his team picked up the Polk Award for Business Journalism in New York Monday from Long Island University. It recognized the pioneering collaborative journalism model Gerard and Marina Guevara Walker and their colleagues are deploying to huge success, in this case with the Offshore Secrets series on massive tax avoidance.

My predecessor Bill Buzenberg was there and noted that among the winners this year and last when the Center won an award, the ICIJ and the Center were the only awards to “digital pure plays”. The ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks work is at http://www.icij.org/offshore. Of course the Polk this year doesn’t even cover the amazing HSBC-led #swissleaks story. On that front, the French government this week imposed a 1 billion euro “bail” on HSBC to require good behavior from a bank now seemingly certain to face charges in several European countries. 

Cartoonist makes news shock

Also at the Polk, Garry Trudeau, the cartoonist of Doonesbury, made news with a view of the Charlie Hebdo story that only a fellow cartoonist could probably bring with a straight face and any integrity. In a speech to accept a career Polk, Trudeau noted that many of his own cartoons had been judged too hot to publish in many papers from time to time. He went on to address the Charlie Hebdo case, while never — despite what you may read elsewhere — in any way condoning the murder of the French cartoonists. He suggested they had pushed the boundaries of what he would consider fair. I quoted him on Twitter as saying Charlie Hebdo “wandered into the realm of hate speech”. 

That caused a bit of a storm on Twitter of course as the locusts of the Internet swarmed. He also talked of “free speech fanatics” who forget that in his view satire is to poke fun at the powerful, not to single out or insult minority groups. Agree or not, he has a view. Weirdly, only one other person seems to have Tweeted him from a gathering of a couple of hundred journalists so I hope someone does a longer piece.

And here it is, The Atlantic printed the entire speech which I think is valuable for context from a cartoonist about the killing of cartoonists.

Putting us into spot news

Jared Bennett and Michael Beckel did a terrific piece of spot story-telling with a “12 things to know about Rand Paul” item which each component as a shareable moment for Facebook and Twitter.

It included these gems: "Rand Paul once called lobbyists a "distinctly criminal class" whose "sole goal was to rip you off.”

Followed by: "Among the companies whose lobbyists have donated to Rand Paul since he was elected: Amgen, Google and Koch Industries.”

And now, of course, we have Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio.

What I/we’re reading

The Polk award winner for foreign reporting was amazing Australian/Lebanese reporter I know a little, Rania Abouzeid. An astoundingly brave and well-informed journalist she won for this piece in Politico.

Anyone in our business of nonprofit philanthropically funded journalism will do well to spend an hour or so reading and digesting this important set of research from the Knight Foundation. Almost all of it is applicable to Public Integrity and the Consortium.

I welcome any feedback.

Regards,
Peter Bale
CEO, The Center for Public Integrity

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