David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

OPINION: New Hampshire Newspaper Refuses to Print Legal Gay Wedding Announcement

By:  David Shepherd – October 25, 2010

This is one of the rare times I will ever express my personal views on this blog.  I’m not writing this story as a gay man.  I’m writing this story as a journalist; a journalist that understands the real responsibility of the news media.

A New Hampshire newspaper is in hot water for not printing a wedding announcement for a gay couple who plan to legally wed this weekend.

CNN reports Greg Gould and Aurelio Tine asked the New Hampshire Union Leader to print their wedding announcement in their publication.  The paper refused.

In a written statement, the paper said, “This newspaper has never published wedding or engagement announcements from homosexual couples.  It would be hypocritical of us to do so, given our belief that marriage is and needs to remain a social and civil structure between men and women and our opposition to the recent state law legalizing gay marriage.”

Gay marriage is legal in New Hampshire.

Gould told WMUR-TV, “I was really disappointed because the Union Leader is a big voice in the state of New Hampshire, and they seem to be so out of touch.”

Democratic Senate candidate Paul Hodes attacked the paper for its view.

“Mr. Gould and Mr. Tine will become legally married this weekend and they should have the same opportunities as everyone in New Hampshire to have their marriage publicized and recognized. The Union Leader’s disgraceful policy of exclusion harkens to a different time in this country when people were denied opportunity because of their race, religion and ethnic origin,” said Hodes in a written statement. 

On CNN’s comment page, many posted that the paper has the legal right to print whatever it wants.

Here’s the problem.  Yes, the paper has the freedom to print what it wants.  But the news media is supposed to be impartial.  In states where gay marriage is not legal, it’s understandable that media outlets wouldn’t print a gay marriage announcement.

However, in a state (like New Hampshire) where gay marriage is legal, the paper does not have the right to discriminate against citizens taking part in a legal process.  If they want to claim to be a newspaper that brings readers the unbiased news, then they do not have the right to say what should be legal and what shouldn’t be legal.  It’s the responsibility of the news media to report the truth and the facts.  The truth and the fact, in New Hampshire, is that gay marriage is legal; period.

It’s this journalist’s opinion that the newspaper is deciding for themselves what is ethical and what is not.  When journalists start making themselves out to be judge and jury, we have a real problem.

This isn’t an issue of whether gay marriage should be legal or not.  It’s an issue of a newspaper deciding for themselves what the law of the state should be. 

Yes, the newspaper has the legal right to print, or not print, whatever they want.  However, if the newspaper decides not to print the announcement of a gay marriage (which is legal in that state) they no longer have the right to call themselves impartial.  They are no longer a member of the media.  They become part of a group that prints what they think is morally correct.  In this journalist’s mind, that is a dangerous precedent.  The media should report the truth; the facts.  It is not the job of the media to report that THEY think is right.

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October 25, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Economy Improves Slowly; Indiana’s Governor Remains Concerned

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CLICK HERE for Video

TERRE HAUTE, IN — The Obama administration is claiming economic progress, but not everyone is so sure our worst times are behind us. 

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said Sunday he remains concerned about the economy and says Washington needs to get it in gear.

Earlier this week, there was good news on the housing market.  Housing starts surged last month well beyond what economists had forecast, but it’s still not enough to stifle talk of a double-dip recession.

The governor says, “I’ve been worried for some time that the economy still looks fragile to me and I don’t think we could rule out the possibility that it slumps again.  Let’s just hope not.”

While hoping for the best, Daniels says he’s planning for the worst as the job market continues it’s long struggle.  “Indiana is adding jobs at 3 and a half times the national rate.  But the national rate is so darn slow that it’s not getting us nearly where we need to be.”

Part of the governor’s plan is to continue a push to draw more people to the state.

“Keeping taxes down, keeping Indiana an attractive place for the jobs that are being created is number one,” explained the governor.

Gov. Mitch Daniels - (R) Indiana

As Daniels continues his plans to jump-start the state’s still slumping economy, he’s calling on lawmakers in Washington to do their part.

“Let’s just hope that Washington begins to take pro growth, pro jobs policies.”

This, as the Obama administration admits progress is coming in slow increments.

The President said last week,  “We stopped the bleeding, stabilized the economy, but, the fact of the matter is, the pace of improvement has not been where it needs to be.”

Another key to Daniel’s economic plan is finding a way to keep the state’s budget in the black without raising taxes for already struggling Hoosiers.  It’s a task that gets more difficult the longer the job market remains fragile.

September 28, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Polls, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WTWO Special Report: Inside the K2 Craze, Part 2

By: DAVID SHEPHERD [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Monday, August 16, 2010

David Shepherd's Video Report (Click Here)

 

TERRE HAUTE, IN – In part one of our special report on K-2,  we introduced you to a new craze that is sweeping the nation; using a chemically altered herb to get high and in some states, like Indiana, it’s legal.  Or is it?

More on that in a moment.  As I researched this story, I met some K-2 users who say they love the herb.

One marijuana smoker even told me he prefers the high he gets off of K-2 but without knowing what company is manufacturing it and exactly what’s in it, health officials say the risk greatly outweighs the reward.

Clay County’s Chief Deputy, Rob Gambill says, “There’s already been hundreds of cases of ER visits, calls to poison control and so fourth.”

On streets and in towns across Indiana, those who make the laws and those who enforce the laws are warning people about the effects of K-2.

“It’s also more dangerous than marijuana apparently so I imagine it’s going to be vigorously pursued,” explains Gambill.

State Representative Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute) says, “K-2, as I understand it, is a chemical that was developed in a lab.  It’s a synthetic marijuana and yet it’s legal to buy across the counter and teenagers have access to it.”

Stores and gas stations that sell K-2 say they don’t sell the herb to anyone under 18-years-old but Kersey says, just like cigarettes, the K-2 is getting into the hands of kids much younger.  “There’ve been young people as young as 14 that have been admitted to the hospital with the affects of K-2.”

And the warning from police:  before you spend your money on the chemically altered herbs, know that it may already be illegal.

“According to one of the Controlled Substances Acts in Indiana, any drug that mimics the effects of another drug is an illegal drug,” explains Gambill.  “This mimics the effects of marijuana which is already illegal.”

So if it may already be illegal, why don’t the police arrest the users and the sellers?

Some cops say, they don’t know if they can but they warn if you get caught smoking K-2, they will investigate it.

Gambill says, “[We’ll] make the report, let the prosecutor make that decision since it’s kind of a murky area right now.  We want to be more cleared up before we take somebody to jail.”

But those who enjoy smoking K-2 are happy it’s so easy to get their hands on and they’re giving it rave reviews on the internet, where blog post after blog post pour in from people who’ve tried the synthetic marijuana; and who like it.

But the easy access they welcome may not be around very long.  Lawmakers in Indiana are already talking about actions they can take to make K-2 illegal in the next legislative session.

Kersey says, “It should be banned at least until we know what the effects are and whether we want this drug on the market.”

This herb is sprayed with a chemical and there is not one source that can tell us what it actually is and while users may enjoy the high, without knowing what you’re putting in your body, it can be a dangerous gamble.  It’s definitely something law enforcement and legislators are trying to get a better understanding of.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WTWO Special Report: Inside the K2 Craze Part 1

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

David Shepherd's Video Report CLICK HERE

Police and lawmakers in Indiana are struggling with how to handle a new craze; a legal way to get high.

Law enforcement’s fight gets harder as a new herb’s popularity continues to spread.

K-2 is a blend of herbs and chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana but it’s so easy to get your hands on, all you have to do is go to your neighborhood gas station.

It’s that easy access officials in Indiana fear, as more and more people start lighting up the so-called synthetic marijuana.

At first glance, it looks like, smokes like and gets users high like marijuana.   But it’s legal and easily available and it’s growing more popular each day.

Chief Deputy Ron Gambill of the Clay County Sheriff’s Department says, “[Users] think they may be doing something legal and something that may not be as dangerous but, in fact, their exposing themselves to more danger.”

Opponents say there are more questions than answers.  For one, no one really knows what’s in it.

State Representative Clyde Kersey, (D-Terre Haute) says, “There’s been no human testing on it and so, no one really knows what the effect of it is.”

Police fear people will try the herbs because they are legal.  But being legal doesn’t mean it doesn’t have side effects. “People expect this to mimic marijuana, but it’s sometimes 10 times more potent than marijuana,” says Gambill.

With it’s affects possibly more potent than marijuana, why is it legal?

For one, it says right on the label the product is not for consumption.  Plus, Indiana lawmakers haven’t yet acted to make the chemically altered herbs illegal, at least not yet.

Kersey says, “I think there will probably be some bills that will be offered in the legislature in the next session and, if they’re not, I’d be happy to offer one because I think it’s something that should be addressed.”

But without more evidence that the legal weed contains something illegal, all law enforcement can do is investigate the craze and hope lawmakers don’t act too late.

“The professor that developed this from Clemson University said using this is like playing Russian Roulette,” explains Gambill.  “It was never designed to be in the public.”

Illinois recently passed a law making using and selling K-2 illegal and while it appears to be legal in Indiana for the moment, some in law enforcement say, “not so fast.”  It may be illegal already.

More Tomorrow As I Conclude My Special Report:  Inside The K-2 Craze.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Video Shows Hundreds of Asian Carp in the Wabash River (WTWO – NBC 2)

By David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Sunday, August 15, 2010

WTWO / David Shepherd Video Report (Click Here)

TERRE HAUTE, IN  –  It appears Asian Carp have invaded Valley waterways.  Video shot by an amateur photographer and river enthusiast shows how incredible and dangerous these aquatic nuisances can be.

“They’re strong,” says amateur photographer Brendan Kearns.  “They’re very healthy fish.  When they get on here they’re fighting for their own life.  They want to get off this boat.”

Kearns’ video shows dozens of carp flying through the air, hitting the boat and members of his crew.  While Kearns admits shooting these amazing images was fun, these fish can be very dangerous.

CLICK HERE to see the full video on purplepug.com

“You see fish jumping like that, yeah, it’s neat, but when you feel the energy of them hitting the boat, it sounds like, ‘BANG’ like that.  It scares you.”

As Kearns’ video spreads across the internet and TV,  many are getting an idea of why wildlife experts didn’t want these fish here in the first place.

Kearns explains, “It’s unfortunate we’re seeing it here on the Wabash.”

For tour boat companies, business is booming.  They say everyone wants to see the Asian Carp.

But for those, like Kearns, who fish along the banks of the Wabash, an Asian Carp is far from what they want to see.

Asian Carp

“If they start getting up in Mansfield, Raccoon Lake; If you start seeing these fish in public waters where people go to recreate:  I couldn’t imagine pulling your kids on a tube and these fish jump up and hit them.  It’s going to be bad.”

Kearns continued, “Imagine a 15 – 20 pound bean bag slugging you upside the face going that speed.  You’re going to be hurt.”

The Carp isn’t just dangerous for those who like to relax on the open water.  Kearns explains fish and wildlife can be affected as well.

“They multiply so fast they’re basically taking over the waterways.”

The Asian Carp has been cultivated in Chinese aquaculture for over a thousand years.

But here in the United States, the Carp take over waterways, eating anything it can,  and producing at a rate much higher than other fish.

August 15, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking News: BP’s Latest “Fix” Hits A Snag

By: David Shepherd[dshepherd@wtwo.com]

BP’s latest effort to contain the Gulf oil spill hit a snag Wednesday when a saw became stuck as it was cutting through a pipe along the busted well, NBC News reports.

BP is working to free the saw.  If nothing more goes wrong, they will resume the cut later in the day.

BP has been plagued with problems containing the oil for over a month.  The clock is ticking.  Every day the oil continues to gush, the worse it becomes for coastal regions of the Gulf.

This latest effort, if it succeeds, will only reduce the flow, not stop it completely.  If it fails, it will continue to compound the problems for residents and tourists along the Gulf.  A permanent fix isn’t expected to be ready until August.

June 2, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

BREAKING NEWS: Al-Qaida’s third in command reportedly killed

(MSNBC) Washington–Al-Qaida’s third in command reportedly killed
Source: Drone strike on bin Laden’s brother-in-law

May 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

12 Dead In Pakistan Hospital Shooting

CNN is reporting that a gunman opened fire into a hospital in Lahore, Pakistan.

At least 12 people are dead.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SoundOFF Web Poll: Illegal Immigration

Illegal immigration is a hot topic on the minds of many Americans right now.  In the wake of Arizona’s new, “get tough” reform law, state legislators around the country are wondering if they should be next to adopt immigration reform.

As the debate rages on from coast to coast, opponents of Arizona’s law says it’s unconstitutional because immigration is federal jurisdiction.  Those same opponents think the law will be challenged in federal court.  Some think the United States Supreme Court will have the final say.

What do you think about the issue?  Before you answer that question, have YOU read the Arizona Senate Bill 1070?  If not what are you basing your opinions on?  Most people get their opinions based on what they see on television news and in the newspapers.  But remember, the Washington spin machines (both on the left and the right) are in the business of selling their product (in this case public opinion of the Arizona immigration law is the product). 

The republican spinners are great public relations experts.  So are the democratic spinners.  They paint the best picture for the audience and hope it turns the tide of public opinion.  The only way to get PURE facts, without the spin, partisan bitch slapping, and childish he said, she said antics, is to read the bill for yourself. 

CLICK HERE to read the entire bill (It’s not very long).

Now.  What do you think?  Sound off by taking the web poll and commenting on this story.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Polls | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Immigration Debate

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

The nation is divided on the idea of states adopting newer, tougher anti-illegal immigration laws.  Spearheaded by Arizona’s controversial law, states across the country are looking in to following their lead.

In Indiana, state senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) wants to pass an, “Arizona-like” law giving law enforcement across the state the authority to stop and question any individual about their status in the United States as long as the officer has “reasonable suspicion” they are here illegally.

Arizona Senate Bill 1070 Sec. 2. Title 11, chapter 7 (Section B):

“FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR A LAW

ENFORCEMENT AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR A LAW

ENFORCEMENT AGENCY OF A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF

THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO

IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE

MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON,

EXCEPT IF THE DETERMINATION MAY HINDER OR OBSTRUCT AN INVESTIGATION.”

CLICK HERE to read the entire bill.

During a recent interview on WTWO (NBC 2 – Terre Haute), state representative Clyde Kersey said, “I think the law is unconstitutional and the reason I believe that is because immigration is a federal responsility.”

Delph says he agrees with democratic critics who say immigration policy is federal jurisdiction.  But Delph remains doubtful that a democratic president and congress will pass a federal policy strong enough to get the problem of immigration under control.

During a recent interview on WTWO, Delph told me he, and many republicans, are frustrated with Washington and ready to take matters in to their own hands.

Delph’s interest in illegal immigration reform is not new.  For the past three years, Delph has proposed legislation in the State House that addresses illegal immigration.  It has been defeated every time.  This upcoming legislative session could be the fourth consecutive year Delph tries to tackle Indiana’s immigration problem.  He says if congress doesn’t act, he will.

But is illegal immigration in Indiana really a big problem worthy of a new, tough immigration policy?  Obviously, it depends on where you go.  In smaller towns like Terre Haute, immigration doesn’t seem like a big problem.  But go to Indianapolis, Fort Wayne or Bloomington and you might see a much more diverse population.  Granted, Indiana, unlike Arizona, isn’t a boarder state but reports show at least 85-thousand illegal immigrants live in the Hoosier State.

I’ve spoken to state lawmakers on both sides and they seem to agree something must be done about Indiana’s immigration problem.  The debate boils down to how exactly the reform should be implemnted.

CLICK HERE to view my story on mywabashvalley.com (NBC WTWO 2 / FOX 38 WFXW).

So, what is all of this about?  I think a lot of the nation’s problems right now make the issue of illegal immigration important to many citizens.

First, take national security.  How can we possibly protect ourselves from terrorist attack if we don’t even know who is in the country?  I’m a moderate thinker (who leans a bit more left than anything) but I want every person in this country accounted for.

I am not calling illegal immigrants terrorists but if we are serious about the security of our nation, we have to look at all illegal immigrants (not just from Mexico but from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc.).

Secondly, the job market is still struggling.  People aren’t getting jobs as quick as they lost them during the recession.  For a long time, Americans have debated if illegal immigrants take jobs that, “Americans don’t want.”  To be honest, I don’t know the answer.  I don’t know who is right in that argument.  But either way, jobs are a big reason many people are looking at immigration more than usual right now.

With health care reform being unrolled as we speak, many fear that non-tax paying illegal immigrants will show up at hospitals looking for care with no money to pay the bill.  Usually, when someone can’t pay a hospital, and they show a financial need, they can get financial assistance which is funded, in part, with federal tax dollars.

When reporting the story for WTWO, I asked viewers to write in and let us know what they think about illegal immigration.  Out of all of the responses I received, not ONE wrote in opposition of immigration reform.  It seems most people want something to be done but don’t know how to execute it.  Is it possible citizens want some kind of action so any law cracking down on illegal immigration sounds better than nothing?  Or do people really believe the particular details of the Arizona law are the best way to handle the immigration problem?

Honestly, how many people have actually read the actual transcript of the bill?  You can’t take the national media’s word for it.  If you turn on Fox News Channel, most of their on-air talent are more politically right thinkers and personal opinion too many times lead to viewers mistaking fact for opinion.  It’s the opposite side of the spectrum when you turn on more liberal leaning CNN or MSNBC.

The sad truth is, the national media (along with some local media around the nation) are filled with people with a human instinct to analyze a problem and think of a best solution.  So when you hear “facts” on television or in the papers, are you really hearing facts or are you hearing opinions being twisted slightly to sound factual?  What’s the point you ask?  If you want to really know what the law will and will not do, print off a copy and read it for yourselves.

At the same time, one could ask if the law is really needed.  As I mentioned earlier, the Arizona law gives police the authority to stop an individual and question them about their status in the United States if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is here illegally.  Isn’t reasonable suspicion just another name for probable cause?  If a cop believed someone was here illegally before, do you think they didn’t investigate it before the new law took effect?  All police need to investigate a crime (being in the country illegally is a crime, that’s not opinion, that is fact) is probable cause or “reasonable suspicion.”

Is this law nothing more than just a political bargaining chip months before a crucial national mid-term election?  Do the framers of this bill think the law really changes things or is it just a way to re-write the current law in a more intimidating and frightening way?  Could go either way.

One thing is for sure.  The issue of illegal immigration is not going anywhere anytime soon.  I think it’s going to be a hot mid-term election issue that will energize both sides.  For some Americans, how a candidate views illegal immigration will determine how they vote.

Many legal scholars are already predicting a legal challenge in federal court.  They say the law is unconstitutional and encourages law enforcement to use racial profiling as a tool in the war against illegal immigration.  Some have predicted the issue of illegal immigration will be settled in the United States Supreme Court.

The high court has two fresh faces on the bench, both appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the senate.  These two, Judge Sonia Sotomayor and United States Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, could be key in the opposition of the law, if it makes it to the Supreme Court.  President Obama has said he is opposed to Arizona’s new law.

So, what will the next few months bring for immigration reform?  I think we will be seeing a lot of federal legal challenges, an increase in racial tensions in some areas of the United States, and a real debate on the future of immigration reform.

Let’s not assume that real debate is a bad thing.  Some of the nation’s most defining moments came out of great debate and a clear vision for change.  It’s how things are supposed to work in a democracy.  Liberals and conservatives are supposed to argue and lay out their positions.  It’s the only way to ensure the minority voices are being heard.  The Executive Branch is supposed to butt heads with the Legislative and Judicial Branches.  That’s why we have separation of power.

Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke believed, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, have faith that good men and women will stand up, debate the issue, and put together immigration reform that is fair to all it affects.

Let me know what you think!  Please comment and cast your vote on my SOUNDOFF Web Blog below.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment