Exclusive Interview: Chicago Alderman Leon Depres

Featured in Huffingtonpost on 5/6/09

Video interview by Ted Regencia


CHICAGO — Chicago’s venerable alderman (retired) from Hyde Park, 101-year old Leon Depres, also known as “the conscience of the city” recalls his 1937 meeting with Leon Trotsky in Mexico, which led to his introduction to Diego Rivera and wife, Frida Kahlo. Rivera painted a portrait of Depres’ wife, Marian. That painting now hangs at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. Depres died a few months after the interview on May 6, 2009.

Op-Ed: Journalism in the time Joe the Plumber

Web Exclusive
January 2009

By Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — Almost a year ago, I watched in horror, as the nightly news carried a story on Election 2008 everyman, Joe the Plumber, becoming a foreign correspondent in the ongoing conflict in Gaza. I became even more troubled when Joe, whose real name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, stressed that the media should be “abolished” from the war zone. “I liked back in World War I and World War  II, when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for them,” the Washington Post quoted him as saying. He accused reporters of not being “patriotic” for reporting the war.

The spectacle surrounding the Ohio native’s trip to Israel, highlights the perils of citizen journalism. Instead of covering the news, bloggers and citizen journalists became newsmakers themselves, advocating overtly biased opinions without regard to accuracy and fairness. By confusing their own celebrity status and their message, they undermine the essence of  real journalism: The delivery of objective, thorough and balanced information.

In today’s free-for-all media environment, the role of professional journalists as gatekeepers of information has become even more critical. The dominance of 24-hour cable news and the Internet, allows the news to travel the world in an instant. The widespread use of personalized gadgets, only ensures mass transmission, while spawning self-proclaimed reporters. The responsibility to guarantee that, that information is factual and fair, however, still rests on the professional journalists.
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