Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Thu Nov 26 08:35:55 CST 2009

From:  "Peter Dreier" <dreier at oxy.edu>

Friends and Colleagues:
The political and media war against ACORN continues. In an article 
published today on the website of Editor & Publisher, the well-known 
magazine about journalism and for journalists, Chris Martin and I ask, 
"Have the Media Falsely Framed ACORN?"  Here's the link:
In this article, Chris and I summarize our September report, 
Manipulating the Public Agenda: Why ACORN was in the News and What the 
News Got Wrong, which carefully analyzed media coverage of ACORN during 
2007 and 2008, especially during last year's presidential election. (The 
study is available at http://departments.oxy.edu/uepi/acornstudy/).  Our 
Editor & Publisher article also  brings this story up-to-date, with the 
most recent attacks on ACORN by the right-wing echo chamber, and the 
news coverage of the so-called "video" scandal by the mainstream media. 
We also examine the repurcussions for ACORN's political and foundation 
support and its very survival.

The misleading stories planted during the election season yielded a 
bountiful crop of misinformation. Now, in November 2009, a national 
survey has just revealed shocking public misperceptions about ACORN: 
more than half of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of ACORN, and 
52% of Republicans, 18% of independents, and 9% of Democrats think ACORN 
stole the election for Obama.

How is it that after laboring in relative obscurity as a community 
organizing group for almost 40 years, ACORN was so falsely framed in 
news stories that many Americans believed the absurd and alarming notion 
that it stole a presidential election? The answer is a tale of not only 
how the Republican Party and conservative news media framed ACORN, but 
also how most mainstream journalism organizations were negligent by 
repeating rather than fact-checking the spurious allegations.
The attacks on ACORN continue.  ACORN's staff and volunteer leaders are 
trying desperately to respond, but they lack the resources to do so 
effectively.  The biggest victims of these attacks are the nation's 
low-income families for whom ACORN has been an effective voice in 
addressing the nation's economic, social, and political injustices.
If you want to learn more about ACORN, John Atlas' book on its history, 
Seeds of Hope, will be published early next year by Vanderbilt 
University Press.  Robert Fisher's edited  book, The People Shall Rule: 
ACORN, Community Organizing, and the Struggle for Economic Justice, was 
published a few months ago, also by Vanderbilt University Press. Fisher, 
a professor of social work at U/Conn,  is the author of Let the People 
Decide, the best one-volume history of community organizing in the U.S.  
His new book about ACORN, The People Shall Rule, is an important source 
of information to put the current debate and criticisms surrounding 
ACORN in a broader context.  Chapters examine ACORN's campaigns around 
living wages, voter registration, and predatory lending, as well as 
other issues, and look at ACORN in terms of the evolution of community 
organizing and of the broader progressive movement.  For more 
information see the Vanderbilt University Press webpage: 


Peter Dreier
Dr. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics
Chair, Urban & Environmental Policy Program
Occidental College
1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Phone: (323) 259-2913
FAX: (323) 259-2734
Website: http://employees.oxy.edu/dreier
"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great 
moral crises maintain their neutrality" - Dante

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