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Dark Times, High Hopes

More locals lament the state of the First Amendment. Meanwhile, recent news is reason to celebrate. Plus, don't rejoice just yet for our environment.

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Dark Times, High Hopes
We feel Don Gale's pain. The pain of those who fight the good fight becoming the enemy of the people. He lamented the state of journalism in a bucket-list column for The Salt Lake Tribune. "Journalism is in trouble," he writes. So, he wants to establish an Institute of Journalism at the University of Utah to "promote traditional journalism values," bring in speakers, create internships—all that fun stuff. Sadly, we can't Make Journalism Great Again. We have to recreate it. Gale is putting the cart before the horse. There are plenty of hungry and talented journalists ready to do battle. There are fewer people and institutions to sustain and promote them. "Media companies that want to get bigger tend to swallow up other media companies, suppressing competition and taking on debt, which makes publishers cowards," writes Jill Lepore for The New Yorker. This is who journalists work for: cowards. Institutes like the one Gale proposes are great, but they can't take the place of a courageous and well-funded employer.

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Pay-to-Play Politicos
Katie McKellar of the Deseret News gets a high-five from the public. McKellar got hold of a flyer that was no doubt a pay-to-play invitation. Salt Lake Chamber members were asked for $2,500 for an "off-the-record conversation on tax reform with some of the most powerful members of the Utah Legislature tasked with proposing new tax policy that would affect all Utahns," the story says. Well, that got everyone's attention, and before you knew it, the event was canceled. What it says about politicians is obvious. They are sneaky and self-absorbed and hardly good public servants. What it says about journalism is more subtle. McKellar was keeping an eye out for the public. Will her good reporting be rewarded, simply dismissed as uncivil, or seen as an unlucky revelation?

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Not-So-Freedom Gas
So what if carbon pollution were called freedom gas? What if radioactive waste were, well, suddenly not so radioactive? This is what's happening in the new world of rebranding what's killing us. Anyone who saw HBO's Chernobyl, can see the disastrous results of unfortunate spin. Is it any different than Energy Secretary Rick Perry comparing the release of natural gas to liberating Europe from Nazi Germany? The EPA might take Salt Lake off the nonattainment list of polluted cities, according to the Trib. But that doesn't change the fact that while the weather might let up, the dirty air doesn't. The D-News reports that the Energy Department is reclassifying radioactive waste, paving the way for more coming into the state. Things might sound better, but don't rejoice just yet.

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