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Media Relations

AU in the Media: 9/18/09

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Documentary Ethics

Honest Truths: Documentary Filmmakers on Ethical Challenges in their Work, a new report by the Center for Social Media exposing the ethics challenges inherent in documentary film, was unveiled at Toronto International Film Festival on September 13. New York Times writer Michael Cieply explored the issues in the report in a feature article with some of documentary film’s best known names. "Everybody who makes a movie, documentary or otherwise, is motivated by passion and point of view,” said Scott Z. Burns, producer of “An Inconvenient Truth,” in response to the report. But, he added, "they are hindered by the need for access, financial resources and the realities of seeking an audience," “Honest Truths” was also covered by the Los Angeles Times and Real Screen, an international magazine for non-fiction film and television industries, also reported on Honest Truths. (9/13/09)

Other Features

My History is Your History

Iris Krasnow, a professor with AU’s Washington Semester program, was an in-studio guest for an 18-minute segment on NPR’sTell Me More, the weekday talk show that captures the headlines, issues, and pleasures relevant to multicultural life in America. Krasnow discussed how parents explain family race and ethnic history to children, and shared how she taught her children to be proud of their Jewish heritage. "I always tell my children you can only convert one racist at a time, and so if you hear an anti-Semitic comment, don't immediately think that all those people in that family are bad and just take it on," she said. (9/15/06)

Fasting for a Cause

American University alum and former NBA star Kermit Washington was on AU’s campus last weekend fasting for charity. His goal? To raise money for Project Contact Africa, which runs a school, a health clinic, and a food distribution center in Kenya. The three-day fast was the topic of a segment on WTTG-Fox 5. "We feed about 400 people a day," he said on camera. "Our goal would be to try to feed as many as a million people a year." AU’s support of this program, and one of its distinguished alumni, highlights the university’s commitment to social responsibility. Washington hopes that by bringing this initiative to his alma mater, students will gain a better understanding of the issues of health and hunger in Africa. (9/12/09)

More Trouble for Banks

According to the most recent analysis by the School of Communication’s Investigative Reporting Workshop, more banks are facing financial issues because of troubled assets. The report, featured on, was done through the workshop’s BankTracker project, which tracks the progress of banks nationwide. (9/16/09)

Faculty and Quotes

Racial Overtures?

Joe Campbell, professor of journalism, was quoted by about racist images of President Obama being used by some Tea Party protesters. Campbell said the image of President Obama as a witch doctor detracts from a cohesive message at rallies where there is no clear association with either of the two major political parties. "It's true that presidents before have had to endure some rough stuff, and there's nothing wrong with satire," Campbell said. "President Bush was morphed into Hitler. That was not excusable either. Just because it's happened in the past doesn't mean there isn't a line and it can't be crossed." (9/17/09)

Higher Taxes on the Horizon

With a trillion-dollar federal deficit, two foreign wars, and a projected high expense for health care reform, it seems nothing really is more certain than death and taxes in 2009, according to "It's entirely possible we could see tax increases before the end of 2009," said Donald Williamson, professor of taxation. "This could be in connection with health care reform or to help pay for tax provisions set to expire this year." (9/18/09)

Dangerous Debates

Allan Lichtman, professor of history, was a guest during an 8-minute live television news segment for MSNBC’s Morning Meeting about how protests against President Obama compare to previous administrations. "It’s very similar to protests we’ve seen throughout history," he said, adding that there is some distinction with the Obama administration. "On the one hand, there is the politics of policy, and that’s a perfectly legitimate and reasonable thing to do. And then there is the politics of personal destruction. Of course, we’ve seen it before, but I think it’s taken on a particularly violent tone in recent weeks." (9/18/09)

Reaching Across the Aisle

James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, was quoted in a Bloomberg News article about the push for Republican support of President Obama’s health care reform plan and the risks involved in losing a bipartisan bill. “There’s not very many moderates,” he said. “You move to the middle and you start losing people, significant people.” (9/14/09)

Direct Mail to Cuba

Robert Pastor, professor of international relations, was quoted by the Associated Press about the United States’ ongoing negotiations with Cuba to reinstate direct mail service. The article was picked up by more than 130 news outlets, including BusinessWeek, Boston Globe, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "If you can show, and I think you can, that the Cubans are prepared to deal pragmatically with one issue at a time ... maybe we can get some things done,” he said. “Over time that could persuade those who haven't made up their mind that it is time to relate to this country differently." (9/18/09)

Conspiracy Theory

Peter Starr, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was quoted in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the many theories surrounding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “[Conspiracy theories are] a kind of cultural defense following great national traumas that are so enormous that you have to invent a cause that is equally enormous," he said. "The world is so fundamentally complex, it's hard to tell a simple story about why something happens the way it happens." (9/11/09)

Goals of the Summit

Tamar Gutner, professor of international relations, was quoted in Pittsburg Tribune-Review about the goals and world issues to be discussed during next week’s G-20 economic summit. Gutner said world problems, such as the recession, health concerns and security, are bigger topics to be addressed."It's pretty hard to be an isolationist anymore," she said. "There are too many issues today that don't respect national boundaries." (9/16/09)

Crime Report Accuracy

Lynn Addington, professor of justice, law, and society, was quoted in the Detroit News about a recent FBI report that shows a decline in crimes for 2008. Addington said the data may not be an accurate reflection because of a history of flawed reporting. “In the early 1970s, Philadelphia was kind of notorious for having police-generated crime drops,” she said, adding that in 2008, the numbers may have been greatly affected by the financial crisis. (9/15/09)

A Social Media Defense Mechanism

David Johnson, professor of print journalism, appeared in a WUSA-CBS 9 segment about the federal government’s use of social media to promote the safety of its H1N1 vaccine. "I think it's a good idea," he said. "As I like to tell people when we talk about social media strategies for growing their business or to media companies who want to communicate on social media: We want to fish where fish are."(9/17/09)

Race-driven Protests

Gary Weaver, professor of cross-cultural communication, was quoted in Agence Press-France about how many anti-Obama protests appear racially-motivated and the threat of attacks by radicals "Clearly they are trying to portray Obama as an ‘other,’ as a foreigner who is going to try to hand the country over to aliens," he said. "They can dehumanize Obama. People who have used violence for political reasons are people who are afraid and believe somehow they are protecting their nation and their God." (9/15/09)