She’s a Superfreak, or maybe just a calf with a fifth leg



Much like the story last month about the “suicidal opossum”, this is a fluff piece with no relevance to West Michigan. This particular piece follows the same pattern of the opossum piece, pairing a popular song, in this case Rick James “Superfreak”, with some unusual animal footage.


(story starts with “Superfreak” by Rick James)

Newsreader #1 – Well a strange sight in New Mexico gave a rancher a shock. Check it out, this calf has five legs and six hooves. He doesn’t’t even belong to the rancher who farms the land, he just kind of hangs out on the property. So far no one really knows what to do with him, but for now the curious cow just keeps hoofing around.

Newsreader #2 – I want to see it again. (laughter) Go figure.

Newsreader #1 – I’m speechless.

Newsreader #2 – I call it cinco for five, five legs.

Newsreader #1 – There you go.

Total Time: 35 seconds

Local man Found Innocent of “Hindering and Opposing”



WOOD 8 TV reported that local man Willy Winters was found innocent of charges of “hindering and opposing” police officers during a incident involving a traffic stop. The all white jury decided to take the word of Mr. Winters, an eighteen year old African American over the five police officers who were involved with the arrest. Reportedly, the jury was swayed by the injuries that Mr. Winters sustained to his face, hands and knees as well as police video footage showing officers spraying mace at Mr. Winters. The video shows Mr. Winters exit his car and walk toward the officer who sprays him while several feet away. Also shown in the video is Mr. Winters Mother who approaches the officers, and who, according to testimony, was taken to the ground and handcuffed by officers as well.

While this was the first mention of Willie Winters in the local TV news, it was not the first time the footage had been used. In a previous news deconstruction, GRIID looked at the story of the Urban League’s report on disproportionate arrest rates for African Americans by the GRPD for hindering and opposing. In these stories the footage of Mr. Winters being sprayed with mace was shown without any explanation of what the particulars of the case were. The footage was shown multiple times by all three local TV stations as background footage while the news readers talked about hindering and opposing arrests. At the time that this footage was originally shown, none of the stations gave any information about the particulars of Mr. Winters case, or even that he was on trial and that a verdict had not yet been reached. When Mr. Winters was found innocent, Channel 8 ran a story about it, unlike the other two local stations. So essentially, for two of the local news stations, this footage was used only when they needed to show a black man “hindering and opposing the GRPD. When that same man was found innocent of those charges, they choose not to run that story.


Newsreader #1 – Not guilty…a Grand Rapids teenager says he will sue the Grand Rapids Police Department for physical and emotional damages.

Newsreader #2 – A jury yesterday found 18-year-old Willie Winters not guilty of criminal charges…charges that some people say police are trumping up and abusing.

Newsreader #1 – Twenty-four Hour News 8’s Dray Clark is live tonight outside police headquarters in downtown Grand Rapids to bring us the latest on this story…Dray?

Reporter – Well Suzie, from day one Willie Winters said he was not guilty and would fight the criminal charges all the way to court. It was his word against that of five Grand Rapids Police officers. The case was left in the hands of seven jurors who came back with a “not guilty” verdict. We want to warn you…some of the images you’re going to see in this story are graphic.

B-Roll – “…9:40 AM, you’re on the line with Robert S. …”

Reporter – He’s off the hook, and now on the airwaves. Eighteen-year-old Willie Winters thanked the community for its support.

B-Roll – Winters: “…I love you, thanks…”

Reporter – Winters’ story begins last September on Fox Avenue. Grand Rapids police, dashboard cameras rolling, pull over a car for speeding…Winters’ neighbor is the driver. The officer first tells the passenger to sit down.

B-Roll – Police: “Get in the car!” Winters: “Man, take me…”

Reporter – Seconds later, the driver jumps out.

B-Roll – Driver: “Man, f*** you motherf***ers! F***! Man, f*** you!”

Reporter – The officer draws back and sprays Mace.

B-Roll – Winters: “Hey man! *time elapse* my Mom…she’s handicapped.”

Reporter – Here you see the driver’s mother, wearing a robe, confront officers, but she’s taken away. Winters says when his mother tried telling police the woman was handicapped she was handcuffed, and when he rushed over to help his mother he claims he was cuffed, pushed to the ground, and beaten.

Willie Winters – I was scared…I didn’t thing I was gonna make it through the night.

Reporter – Winters’ mouth was busted, his hand were bloody, and his leg was bruised. Winters’ attorney Kevin Floyd.

Lawyer – This young man has sat in this chair in my office with his mother and just, you know, sheer tears, him and his mother, sheer tears over this whole incident.

Reporter – Winters was charged with hindering and opposing and creating a disturbance. He rejected a plea deal in favor of a trial. Five officers testified; two of them claimed Winters pushed an officer and had to be forced to the ground. But that was the one thing the police video didn’t show, which hurt their defense. Police chief Harry Dolan.

Police Chief Dolan – They can only capture what’s occurring in front. The officer can’t stop or call a time out, go back to the car and turn the camera.

Reporter – But an all-white jury didn’t believe the officer’s testimony and delivered not guilty verdicts for Winters.

Winters – I said “thank God”…thank God.

Lawyer – I think the jurors ultimately made a…a call to accept the facts based on a human given testimony.

Reporter – But Chief Dolan says despite the verdict the truth is in the tape, which he says clearly shows Winters and his neighbors turned on police.

Dolan – This case has been resolved. We conducted a complete and lengthy investigation into this matter, and the officers have been exonerated. They used appropriate force given the totality of the circumstances they were confronted with.

Winters – You just can’t do that to everyone and think nothing is going to go unjustified, you know?

Reporter – And Willie Winters’ attorney Kevin Floyd says someone has to pay for his clients pain and suffering, so he plans to file a civil lawsuit against the Grand Rapids Police Department. Willie Winters says at the very least the officers involved should offer him an apology. We’re live in downtown Grand Rapids—Dray Clark, 24-Hour News 8.

Newsreader #2 – Thanks you, Dray. Meantime, the Grand Rapids City Commission is considering now an ordinance to, it hopes; better define the charge of “hindering and opposing.” The proposal would allow charges against anyone who willfully and, now here’s the key word, “knowingly” impedes, interferes, or obstructs an officers investigation. The word change comes at the recommendation of County Commissioner Paul Mayhew…we ought to know more in a few weeks.

Marketing Star Wars merchandise as news


Here is another article giving free publicity to a product tied to the new Star Wars film. This particular article was one of three articles in the “Your Life” section in the May 16 edition of the GR Press dealing with Star Wars video games. This article, “the force will be felt in its legacy of video games” was 24 inches long. For comparative purposes, our data shows that in the last presidential election, the GR Press ran only one article out of all their election related articles that was over 24 inches long. Now many of these election stories were originally rather lengthy articles that the GR Press would pull off the wire and edit for length. This Star Wars article was also pulled from a wire but the editors at the GR Press evidently felt that the history a video game franchise deserved to be run in its entirety.


The Force will be felt in its legacy of video games

By Matt Slagle

The Associated Press

There are probably enough “Star Wars” video games to fill a space cruiser. And let’s face it: Many of them probably should have been destroyed along with those pesky Death Stars.

But like the enduring saga of good versus evil upon which they’re based, a few used the mythic story and fantastical locales very successfully. On the eve of the final “Star Wars Episode III —Revenge of the Sith,” we reflect like a Jedi Master on some of the more memorable moments in Star Wars gaming.

If we’re going to cover the entire history of Star Wars games, we’ll have to go back to a time long, long ago, when arcades still ruled the galaxy.

Though it debuted years after “Episode IV: A New Hope,” Atari’s “Star Wars” coin-op in 1983 was just as amazing as the first film’s opening space battle.

Using simple but smooth color vector graphics, you piloted an X-Wing through swarms of Imperial TIE fighters, then attacked the Death Star. Many quarters were lost in my quest to defeat the evil galactic empire.

We’ll have to fast forward almost a decade before another “Star Wars” game grabbed me so, umm, forcefully.

A time long, long ago

It was 1992, and the movie prequels were on the distant horizon. But I had a Super Nintendo Entertainment System, one of the most advanced consoles at the time, and a new “Super Star Wars” cartridge that blew me away.

This LucasArts title remains a sentimental favorite — I still dust off my SNES and play from time to time. The game followed the movie events precisely, with stereo sound and excellent color graphics in a side-scrolling adventure. As Luke Skywalker, I ran through the deserts of Tatooine, braved dingy Mos Eisley cantinas, then blew up the Death Star all over again.

Two “Super” follow-ups based on “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” added force powers and other extras but were also light-years tougher.

If you survived “Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” then you’ll no doubt remember one of its highlights: the exhilarating racing sequence, when the cute, cuddly version of future Sith Lord Darth Vader straps on some goggles and leaves his foes choking on pod fumes.

So what if it came off as a ploy to sell video games? “Star Wars Episode I: Racer,” for the PC, Macintosh, Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo 64 was a high-speed ride through the desert mesas of Tatooine and seven other worlds. No other game simulates racing at 600 mph four feet above the ground so well.

Multiplayer letdown

A franchise as storied as this was bound to have its letdowns, and “Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided” certainly fell into that category — particularly when it was first released in 2003

The massively multiplayer online game looked great but lacked the feel of a dynamic universe. And whether it was intentional or not, becoming a Jedi was nigh impossible, short of quitting your real life job and devoting all waking hours to the pursuit.

“Galaxies” has improved over time, with last fall’s “Jump to Lightspeed” expansion pack finally letting players pilot space ships. Another expansion, “Rage of the Wookiees” adds content from the forthcoming movie. Be aware that a vocal group of players are upset with recent changes to the game’s combat system, so much so they’ve petitioned the game makers to change it back.

Fan favorites

Two definitive “Star Wars” video games occur thousands of years before the movies.

“Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” in 2003 and last year’s “Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords,” both for Xbox and the PC, captured the sense of history, action and drama better than most of the movies. It’s a fan favorite wrapped in an intriguing role-playing premise: how you act determines which side of the Force you’ll follow.

More recently, the franchise has been spun in countless directions:

“Star Wars: Battlefront” for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC was a first-person shooter where dozens of combatants fought each other with laser turrets and advanced weaponry. Cool ships like TIE-Fighters, however, were impossible to control. A sequel has been announced.

This year’s buildup to Sith has already seen some decent “Star Wars” games.

“Star Wars Republic Commando” was a squad-based first-person shooter set during the Clone Wars. Even colored-plastic toy brick maker Lego managed to cross-market its line of Star Wars products with “Lego Star Wars: The Video Game,” featuring Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul among the blocky cast of heroes and villains.

Call me a nerf herder for not mentioning more, but there are just too many games to cram into one article.

Some other highlights include “Dark Forces,” “Galactic Battlegrounds,” “Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast” and the GameCube space shooter “Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II.”

As for the future, fret not, young padawan learners.

LucasArts, the video game division of George Lucas’ media empire, has plenty of games coming out long after this final movie has left theaters.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Local Media Gloss over CAFTA


This article was about the annual World Trade Week which has took place in Grand Rapids from May 16 – 19. In the past the conference focused on the specific country but this year the theme is on trade in general. One of the trade issues mentioned in the article was CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement. This mention of CAFTA was one of the few mentions GRIID has seen of this trade agreement in the local media. All that the article reports about CAFTA is that negotiations on the treaty are still underway and that a vote is slated for later this month.

CAFTA is basically an extension of NAFTA, which has been in place for over a decade. Critics of NAFTA, such as the AFL-CIO or Global Exchange have attributed significant job loss in the US to that trade treaty, a trend that CAFTA could potentially accelerate. Given that Western Michigan has seen a large number of manufacturing job losses over the last few years, this topic is relevant to this area.

Up until this Grand Rapids Press article, did not see a single mention of CAFTA in the GR Press. Considering the potential impact that CAFTA may have on West Michigan, this story has been very much underreported. This is not due to a lack of potential stories related to CAFTA either. A local coalition of over 20 labor, environmental, farmer and activist groups have been promoting a Stop CAFTA campaign that has been active on this issue and has been almost completely ignored by the GR Area media. Several weeks ago members of this group attended a town hall meeting held by Congressional Representative Vern Ehlers and he was asked several times to clarify his position on CAFTA. This town hall meeting was not covered by the GR Press despite the fact these organizations backing the Stop CAFTA campaign had sent out press releases. Now, this is just one example, but it is certainly not the only one where local media ignored this issue.


Week focuses on world trade

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

By Julia Bauer

The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS — World trade is so hot, West Michigan is devoting nearly a week to global issues starting Monday.

World Trade Week launches its 20th year with lunch Monday and ends with a rousing round of international team trivia Thursday evening.

Between the two events, 18 experts from nine countries, along with state and federal trade officials, will share their insights.

“The effect of global forces on local trade has been just phenomenal, and our program this year reflects that,” said William Richeson, chairman of World Trade Week.

“For the last 19 years, we always focused on a particular country — Turkey, China, India, Brazil. We’ve done some major changes.”

May 17 holds the busiest agenda, with morning, afternoon and evening events around Loosemore Auditorium at Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus.

Speakers include local analysts George Erickcek and Jim Gillette.

As specialists and panel members speak during 45-minute segments, individual consultations are being offered with them throughout the day, Richeson said.

Special meetings

People who sign up Tuesday morning could get a private conversation with a representative of the U.S. Department of Commerce specializing in Central America or Australia, a manager of the State of Michigan’s offices in Shanghai or Mexico City, or international attorneys from Taiwan, the Netherlands, South Africa or Germany.

On Tuesday evening, the Van Andel Global Trade Center, based at GVSU downtown, will be honored as World Trader of the Year by the event sponsors, the West Michigan World Trade Association.

With negotiations still under way for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, the World Trade Week events are very timely, Richeson said.

A decision on CAFTA is slated for later this month.

“It’s very topical, with the U.S. Department of Commerce Road Show,” said Richeson, senior vice president of global trade and treasury for National City Bank.

The Commerce Department is sending a handful of its global experts to the event.

Teens take their turn

For the first time, teenagers are in the loop on global trade issues.

Since early April, nearly 100 high school juniors in Grand Rapids Public Schools have studied issues through Global Marketplace, a Junior Achievement program.

On May 15, those students will travel to GVSU’s Allendale campus for a college day.

Their sessions include information on international majors and careers, study abroad, and financial assistance programs.

Two essay winners writing on global trade and its impact personally and on West Michigan are to win $500 scholarships from National City Bank. The daylong session is underwritten by Alticor.

Debating Jobs



This is an interesting story where from the very beginning channel 8 tries to pit perspectives or create tension that isn’t necessary. In the opening comments the news reader asks the reporter if this “debate was going to get heated?” The reporter responds by saying “it will get quite heated.” Interesting how a reporter can determine something before it happens.

The reporter then mentions two factories that have outsourced jobs for reasons of “cheaper labor,” then leaves it at that without pursuing the reason. Next viewers hear from an expert with the Cato Institute without providing any explanation of this think tank. The Cato spokesperson then gives viewers numbers and percentages of job loss, but never verifies the number with a study or source. This would be important to viewers, since everything else attributed to the Cato spokesperson in the story is just opinion.

Next viewers hear from a representative of the AFL-CIO about trade and job loss. Again, no context or sourcing was provided for the AFL-CIO perspective. When the Cato spokesperson was interviewed the video b-roll was of US factory workers, but when the AFL-CIO representative talked they used video b-roll of workers in China and then a public square shot with a large picture of Mao. Viewers should ask themselves what the producers intent was with the video b-roll.

While this story provides two different perspectives on trade and jobs it offers viewers little content or context in which to base a decision. Comments provided by both experts were never verified by the reporter, not was there any mention of where the organization hosting the event, the World Affairs Council, stood on this issue.


WOOD TV 8 News reader – Thousands of West Michigan jobs have been outsourced to other countries. Tonight the World Affairs Council will be presented to nationally recognized experts in a debate at Aquinas College. That is where 24-hour news 8’s Ann Schieber is who tells us that the discussion could get quite heated.

Reporter: Well Sue it will get quite heated because these individuals have debated before and that is what we’ve been told. And they also represent 2 very compelling cases, some 2 totally different points of view . One represents the viewpoint of labor, the other the viewpoint from the corporation.

You don’t need to look very far in West Michigan to see the consequences of outsourcing. Electrolux in Greenville and Bosch in Kentwood are at least two companies who left town for cheaper labor elsewhere.

“Two hundred thousand people in Michigan work for foreign owned companies…half of them in manufacturing. These are opportunities being created by dollars flowing back into the United States,” Daniel Griswold of The Cato Institute told 24 Hour News 8.

Griswold says only two to three percent of Americans lost their jobs to cheaper labor elsewhere.

Many times, it’s the result of improved productivity and better technology. The jobs don’t go away, they just change, according to Griswold, and they’re often better jobs.

“So we can’t freeze time and say the jobs we have today are gonna be the jobs we have ten years or 20 years from now. It doesn’t work that way,” Griswold adds.

Better jobs are not the way Thea Lee, a trade economist for the AFL-CIO, sees it. “Globalization is being used to undermine the right of workers in the United States,” she says.

It’s not so much the loss of United States jobs that bothers Lee, she says, but rather the hiring of workers in other countries who have few rights. She adds that needs to be considered in U.S. trade law.

“You can’t compete by subsidizing your exports of products. But why is it okay to compete by, let’s say, using child slave labor?” asks Lee.

Lee believes the United States should restrict the use of labor in other countries that do not offer the same protections in the U.S., then American workers can compete more freely.

Griswold and Lee spoke Monday night about “Outsourcing: Opportunity or Threat?” at the Performing Arts Center at Aquinas College, which was organized by the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.

Total Time: 2 minutes and 30 seconds