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February 07, 1986 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-02-07

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Page4 Friday, February 7, 1986 The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCVI, No.91

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, M1 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board

Black history

B LACK HISTORY is real. Iten-
compasses the contradictory
histories of the American peoples
as well as African and other
colored peoples. It is a history of
successes and struggles; of
slavery, the civil war, Reconstruc-
tion, and the sixties.
One of the greatest Black
historians, W. E. B. DuBois
questioned the meaning of Black
history. Without meaning, DuBois
believed there was no point to
study. But there is meaning. A
large part of it is the need to
recognize the past and continue to
struggle for the future.
Clearly, African-American
history has been unjustly
overlooked and Black accom-
* plishments have been ignored.
Hopefully, the designation of Black
History Month will help to raise
awareness and educate people
about Black History.
In 1915, Carter G. Woodson for-
med the Association for the study
of Negro Life and History. Nine
years later he started Negro
S AFRICAN President P.W.
Botha has said, "MY GOVER-
two page ad, Botha tried to build
South African public opinion for
cosmetic reform while appeasing
international public opinion.
Botha's propaganda opens the
question, who is "MY GOVER-
NMENT?" Apparently it is the
white business community, which
has made the suggestions incor-
porated in Botha's ad.
The African National Congress
(ANC) has given its reaction by
saying Botha is "committed
to white minority domination."
Botha did not call for "one-man
-one-vote" as the ANC has. In-
stead, he wishes to extend advisory
councils to include Blacks.
His call for citizenship for Blacks
who live in townships is interesting,
but really only as an
acknowledgment of what white
businessmen already know: apar-
theid needs Black labor in the
cities. Left open is the status of the
"homelands," which remain as the
effective expression of what the
Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)
views as African expropriation
from their own land by a white set-
tler regime.
Botha wants whites and Blacks

History Week which turned into
Black History Month in 1976.
The importance of viewing
history from a broad perspective
can not be ignored. History has
been studied and documented
through the narrow vision of the
historians for too long. Today, the
challenge remains to enlighten
historians to expand their frame of
reference to be aware of the
crucial role of Blacks in history.
There is a plethora of questions
to ask when looking at Black
history; there is so much yet to
discover, and the questions are
too complex to answer here. For
now, the critical point of Black
History month may be to celebrate
accomplishment, and pain, and
hope. All month, the University
will be sponsoring special events
highlighted this Saturday night at
Rackham Auditorium with an ad-
dress by novelist Maya Angelon.
The Daily encourages insightful
discussion about the meaning of
Black History and the challenge it
presents for a brighter future.
alike to carry identity cards. That
will mean nothing if laws only af-
fecting Black movement remain in
Botha also promised to increase
funding for Black education from
millions to billions of rand.
Apartheid can afford many
cosmetic reforms. South Africa's
economic reality is white depen-
dence on Black labor. In the long
run, Botha's reform proposals
dovetail with the business com-
munity's need for a skilled, urban
Black middle class.
Botha says, "I will go further.
The wheel of reform is turning."
He has said as much many times
before. It would be wrong to allow
Botha to set the terms and expec-
tations for change in South Africa.
Botha's words may offer fuel and
ammunition for reform but only
from the white minority perspec-
tive. .
To attempt to hold Botha to his
own words is to play a dangerous
game. The real question is Black
power. Only the Blacks can defend
their interests.
For the moment, nothing is
changed by Botha's ad. The
movement to put international
pressure on apartheid should keep
the West from forgetting that.

1986 THE M IC4IGAN DAIL -- -
Television redefines 'news'

By Gayle Kirshenbaum
I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth
- a friend on the hall enters - her only
words: "D'you hear? The shuttle ex-
ploded." My only word: "What?!" She
repeats the news. I run to my room, snap on
the television - very much appreciating the
reliability of the TV news media. I know
that I will be in touch with the event in a
matter of seconds.
Even before the picture comes into focus,
I hear the concerned voices of the broad-
casters, relating the details with
professional efficiency . . ."As of yet, no
statement from NASA" . . . "A stunned
nation ... a stunned president" ... "Christa
McAuliffe's parents and sister were at the
site" ...
I become anxious. My thoughts turn: the
families, the school, the horror. Suddenly,
they break away from the shot of the fated
launch, and I'm presented with the smiling,
expectant faces of McAuliffe's family,
raised to the sky. . . "No one quite realized
what had happened".. .
I sit watching the screen, bracing myself
for something I know in my heart I don't
want to see. There I am, along with millions
of other people, watching and waiting for
the exact moment that their faces will
register the first signs of grief. And I see it.
I want to destroy the television. I want to
erase the images of those faces now imprin-
ted on my mind.
My only thoughts: that family's pain had
not been for me to see - for anyone to see. I
feel as if someone had thrown back a closed
door, shoving me inside ... says ABC, NBC,
CBS. . . "We feel you need to see this,
America, for your own good... to accept the
facts ... however unpleasant ..."
I don't destroy the T.V. - I merely turn it
off. I decide that I'm being irrational and
unfair. I feel an obligation to try and ap-
proach the issue from a journalistic per-
I'm outside now - and thinking. I think
about the definition of news. About jour-
nalistic aims and responsibilities . . . what
are those responsibilities? To inform the
public. O.K., then, we are being informed to
Kirshenbaum is an Opinion staffer

the best of their ability. But I'm confused.
How does film footage of the family classify
as public information?
I'm glad I'm outside away from the T.V.
The brisk walk across campus, and the chill
air sharpen my reasoning abilities. So I
postulate; news is action, reaction and
significance. Something happens - in this
case, a tragedy - that has national reper-
cussions. We are shown the films of the ex-
plosion - the action. We see the effect of
this action, event, by monitoring the reac-
tions of the country, beginning of course, on
the personal level; the individual families.
We hear analysis and speculation as to the
cause and to future effects . . . the
significance. They're right - I must under-
stand that this is all part of the complete
news story ...however unpleasant...
I come home after a long day of classes
and a lot of discussion about the explosion.
I've been away from the T.V. all day, so I
turn it on in order to "'catch up" with any
earlier developments. This time, I feel
prepared to face anything coming my way..
."the children had been brought into the
gymnasium to watch the launch together ...
but their cheers faded into a shocked silence
... " The camera does a close up of the face
of a teacher, in a classroom seconds after
the explosion, and then begins to survey the
faces Qf thechildren - until the teacher or-
ders the news crew out of the room. I turn
off the T.V. and stare at the blank screen -
angry and embarassed again. I feel my
calm, rationale about the purpose of jour-
nalism - along with my acceptance -
slowly disintegrate. My thinking is clouded
- I'm emotional again... confused again.
The line between sensationalism and
true journalism is hard to determine - par-
ticularly when applied to the shuttle ex-
plosion. In most cases, reporters and
broadcast journalists gather what they can,
after the fact. But because of the special
circumstances surrounding this event, there
were already cameras in place; recording
the reactions of family members and other
observers of the launch as it took place
This makes the situation unique - these
cameras had simultaneously captured the
event itself as well as the immediate reac-
tions of many witnesses.

As a result, the television news media was
provided with rare footage - and a rare op-
portunity to add a new dimension to the'
"human element" of the story.
Broadcast journalism is often times much
more powerful than the best written story,
or even action photography. It can appeal to
us on a more intense emotional level,
because we see things as they are happening
- a fact that the television news industry
had capitalized on. Because of T.V., the
news story has been re-defined, now in-
volving many elements that were
previously impossible to present.
But perhaps we have accepted this new 4
definition too easily. We don't question
enough whether or not a particular piece of
footage is truly necessary to complete the
story or only extraneous. The fact that the
camera has the ability to bring it on screen
to an audience, seems to justify its inclusion
into the story. We have come to assume that
the more we can see, hear, know - the bet-
ter off we are ... the more well-informed.
However, such logicrcould surely back-
fire. Very often, the more that we are
presented with - the more desensitized we
become. Television has a surreal quality
about it; making it increasingly difficult to
believe and comprehend all that we see.
Journalists strive to make things real, bring
the news home to the people. Ironically,
television journalism sometimes pushes it
farther away, by presenting us with too
much, too quickly.
The T.V. news medium seems to be
working with an "everything you can get"
mentality that blatantly disregards some
established journalistic standards; namely,
good taste and respect. It can be countered,
of course, that journalism is a ruthless
profession by nature - a fact not to be
disputed. But in many instances, television
news editors as well as newspaper editors,
have the opportunity to make a basic, moral
decision, without affecting the essence of a
news story. Unfortunately, in the case of the
shuttle tragedy - this option was ignored.
The public was forced to witness some
very sensitive moments for family mem-
bers, friends and others; an invasion o
privacy that was unnecessary and painful. .
for those that were filmed, and for those of
us that had to watch.



-r1 ip1 1


t 1~~e

When brain functions

life starts




To the Daily:
I would like to respond to
Russell White's letter, "Issue of
Abortion," (1/29/86). In Mr.
White's letter, it is evident that he
subscribes to the scnool of Pro-
Life advocates who attempt to
turn their opinions into fact, when
in actuality, they are not.
Mr. White's argument against

I' C +


dividual to interpret the facts and
draw his or her own conclusions
about the fetus. Since most in-
dividuals have differing sets of
philosophical beliefs which in-
fluence them as they interpret
the facts, there are differences on
what constitutes a human being
or person.
I do agree with Mr. White on

sistent, apply the same creterion
to the beginning of life? If we look
at the development of the fetus,
the faintest brain function can be
detected at about the end of the
eighth week. Therefore, at about
the beginning of the third month,
the fetus should no longer be con-
sidered a growing mass of tissue,
but a developing human being.

fective means of birth control is
available (other than sterility
and abstinence), so long as there
is rape and adolescent pregnan-
cy, the regulated right to a legal
abortion will be a necessity.
-Ethan F. Geehr
February 3



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