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August 09, 1995 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1995-08-09

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Ite dl3u L&d
420 Maynard
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

RONNIE GLASSBERG ADRIENNE JANNEY
Editor in Chief JOEL F. KNUTSON
Editorial Page Editors
Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of a majority of
the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of the Daily's editorial board.

A

W atchdogs are howling in agony as a new
trend takes over the news industry: con-
solidation. With the employees of The Detroit
News and Free Press on strike, the Detroit
Newspaper Agency has published one edition, a
"scab paper," limiting the amount of informa-
tion available in southern Michigan. Negotia-
tions seem to be at an impass, and there is talk of
permanently closing one paper. With some
employees crossing the picket line, and others
writing for their own online newspaper, The
Detroit Journal, it is unlikely that any agreement
willbereachedwithoutcasualties. The newspa-
per business is becoming depressed.
Throughout the country, shutdowns have
plagued the newspaper industry. In recent
months, the Times Mirror Co. closed New York
Newsday and cut 700 jobs at the Los Angeles
Times. The Houston Post and the Baltimore
Evening Sun also have closed. Readership is
going down - but the cost of newsprint is
increasing, as is the hardship on the papers. The
business is being reduced from the lofty aims of
informing the public, to sheer numbers.
As a result, fewer corporations will play the
critical role of watchdog in American society.
Mostmediacorporationsarenotconcernedwith
news reporting, but with making profits. This is
particularly apparent in the purchase of CBS

Dangerous liaisons
Consolidation is bad trend/for news business

Inc. by the Walt Disney Co. and the American
Broadcasting Co. by Westinghouse and the
ownership of the National Broadcasting Co. by
General Electric. Just as NBC was another
acquisition for the quasi-monopoly of GE,
DisneyviewsABCasanotherthemepark. With
visions of animated rodents and profits, inves-
tigative journalism will often take a back seat to
popular, but less expensive stories, such as the
O.J. Simpson trial. TV news could become a
sensationalistic disaster.
While newspaper and television fall into
unstable hands, a new media is waiting to take
shape - the Internet. The Internet has the
potential to combat the further centralization of
media authority. To put information on the
Internet, one does not need an expensive print-
ing press or broadcast station, only Internet
access on a computer. This provides the oppor-
tunity for anyone to express their opinions,

which would increase the amount of ideas and
discussion in society.
The Internet also will likely be the future of
newspapers that today struggle to compete
againstup-to-the-minute televisionnews.News-
papers are often not timely: A breaking story
reported on last night's 11 p.m. news may have
been missed by today's newspaper. But on the
Internet, the written word can be updated con-
stantly, providing readers with the same or
greater timeliness as television. In addition,
written information can be provided for less
expense than a television broadcast. All a news-
paper reporter needs is a pen and pad, while
broadcastjournalists needcameras,cameracrew,
microphone, lights and many other tools. Many
newspapers have started providing information
in an online format. The Detroit News, for
instance, unveiled the online version of their
paper the day the strike began.

Despite the move to online infornation, th
place for traditional newspapers remains. Fo
less than 50 cents, newspapers can be rea<
anywhere, and newspapers have become at
important tradition for society. Many enjoy the
sentimental value of reading the paper ove
breakfast, on the train or in the bathroom-an
many like the tangible aspect of a newspaper. I
would be preferable that for as long as possib4
the printed newspaper is available as well as th<
online version, providing some competition fo
the Internet.
While the Internet provides an opportunity t(
increase the exchange of information, it is impor
tant that access is not provided by only a fem
companies. Microsoft has just unveiled its nev
servicejoining ones such as American Online an(
Compuserve. It is imperative that public access t<
the Internet does not become concentrated in thes(
services, limiting the information available to t'
public. Otherwise, the information available it
cyberspace could become concentrated into h
hands of few just as with other media -or worse
To ensure that journalists are able informth<
public and keeping watch they must remait
united throughout the impending changes. Th<
Detroit News and Free Press should remaii
separate to promote healthy competition. News
papers must go down fighting.

a

Meltdown
Fermi II not worth risk to community

Ground zero
Police should protect, not harass

Jifty years ago this week, the United States
ignited the Nuclear Age when it dropped
atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Images of charred bodies sent shock waves
throughout the world and will forever attest to
the cataclysmic power of the atom bomb.
Instead of merely ending World War II, how-
ever, the bombs fused a nuclear arms race and
experimentation with nuclear power.
The same technology that instantly deci-
mated at an estimated 250,000 people - and
continues to kill countless others with cancer
and related illnesses - is bringing residents
of Southeast Michigan precipitously close to
the front line. A mere 40 minutes from Ann
Arbor, lurks the Fermi II nuclear power plant.
Everyday its existence represents a sense-
less threat to southeast Michigan.
When using nuclear power, even the slight-
est mistake could have hazardous repercus-
sions. Fermi II is no exception. On Christmas
Day 1993, a tarbine blade snapped without
waming.Workershelplessly braced themselves
as they felt the entire building shake for two
minutes. The violent vibrations sounded earth-
quake alarms. Shrapnel from the blade tore a
hole in the protective casing of the turbine and
contaminated water spilled everywhere.
In order to clean up the accident, 1.5 million
gallons of radioactive water was dumped
into Lake Erie - part of Michigan's drink-
ing supply. No one can guarantee that the
move was safe. Environmentalists worry
that the contamination will spread through-
out the basin of the Great Lakes putting hu-
mans and other animals at risk. It is anyone's
guess as to how long the contaminants will

linger in the water.
Similar accidents occurring throughout the
world show that nuclear power plants have not
been able to correct the problem. According to
the Nuclear Regulator Commission similar
accidents have caused fires, explosions and
shutdowns in at least 10 nuclear plants since
1974. Moreover, since the disaster at Fermi II,
the plant has not even stepped up its security
concerns. Currently, Fermi II is operating with
cracked reactor shrouds that might prevent
containment of radiation in the event of an
accident.
Even if accidents could be somehow pre-
vented, it would not eliminate the harmful by-
products nuclear power plants spew out every
day. Plants like Fermi II release small amounts
of radionuclides into the environment. Much
like toxins, radionuclides accumulate and do
not degrade easily. It is already established that
radiation can cause celland chromosomal dam-
age to natural organisms.
Proponents ofnuclear power will claim that
it is worth the risk -the risk of annihilating
millions of people -because nuclear power is
cheap and necessary. This is a myth. Fermi II
was shut down for an entire year after the
turbine accident. Yet, the utility company was
able to meet the demand using their other non-
nuclear plants. Moreover, repairing Fermi II
cost in excess of $57 million - a cost reflected
in utility bills to customers.
Fermi 11, therefore, represents an unneces-
sary burdentothe people of Southeastern Michi-
gan. Even the daughter of Joseph Fermi,the
namesake of the Fermi I plant, does not support
putting citizens in such jeopardy.

r amara Stewart, age 16, was shot and
killed last week in her neighborhood, the
Arbor Oak-Stonybrook Park area. In the days
following the shooting, many sides to the issue
have surfaced. The police have a side, the
residents have another side and The Ann
Arbor News seems to have yet another side.
But one theme weaves through every version:
gang-related violence.
Claims of gang activity ring true - police
believe the West Willow Crips to be respon-
sible for the shooting - but the extent of the
situation is not yet clear.
Three weeks previous to the shooting, the
area was deemed "zero tolerance," which
means that no warnings are given - any
minor offense is met with action. The clas-
sification was adopted at the request of
some residents. Police presence had been
felt for months at that point.
However, on the night of the shooting, the
police were called away to a burglary. Resi-
dents felt that the police took too long to return.
Whethertheshooting wasone-way or acrossfire
is in dispute, as is whether residentssthrew rocks
at police upon their arrival.
The Ann Arbor Police Department has not
yet released the response time for the shooting.
'At depends on a lot of things: what time of year
it is, and the driving conditions," said Sgt. Phil
Scheel. But the driving conditions are hardly
harsh in July. However, police and emergency
claim not to have known that anyone was hit -
only that shots were fired - and that they were
proceeding cautiously, a caution that would be
understandable in their job.
No matter what the circumstances of that

tragic night, a gang problem must not b
blown up disproportionately. Exaggeratin
the nature of the problem can only caus
unfounded fears - immobilizing fear, le
ing to panic and rash actions.
The precedent is already being set. Panic
was prevalent in Ann Arbor during the serial
rapist investigation, when the rush to find a
solidsuspect resulted in a blanket DNA screen-
ing of Black males. As a result, Blair Shelton
has filed a civil suit, claiming that he was
harassed by the AAPD throughout the serial
rapist investigation.
Shelton's complaints include police infor
ing his employers that he was a suspect, causi
him to lose his job and agreeing to DNA sestin~
under threats and misinformation. He says thaI
police confrontedhiminnumerouspublicplaces
to question him-each time they let him leave
only after he produced proof that he had bee
DNA tested for the case. The plaintiff allege
that he was accosted by police while he was n
carrying the paper with him. Police then did no,
let him leave until he had provided a driver',
license so that they could lien clear him o
their car radio.
The AAPD denies most of the charges
However, the AAPD only admits to innocuout
claims or facts that can easily be proven. If th
court finds that the charges are true, measure.
should be taken to prevent future occurrence.
of harassment.
Before a trend starts, local attitudes must b
adjusted. Serious neighborhood problems wit
crime cannot be swept under outside g
involvement. Zero tolerance for crime mu.
accompany zero harassment.

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