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News AAND Notes: Owning It Edition

Featuring Eugene Weekly; Fort Worth Weekly; Jackson Free Press and Maui Time

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VIRTUALLY UNBIASED

Implicit bias has been the subject of well-deserved focus in recent years. Oregon’s Eugene Weekly reporter Amber Cecil had the opportunity to test an innovative use of tech to fight it: virtual reality implicit bias training. Upon donning a pair of VR goggles, Cecil found herself in a crowded middle-school classroom full of movement and diversity. The goal of the software created by startup Glimmer Technology, EW reports, is to manufacture a stressful classroom setting so teachers can work through the situation and learn how to reduce the effect of implicit bias on disciplinarian decisions.

Many believe and statistics indicate that implicit bias causes more and greater punishment of racial minorities, all the way from detention up to police shootings. By using VR, it’s hoped individuals can learn how to unwire their biases without negatively impacting the real people who might have been on the receiving end of a discretionary disciplinarian decision.

THE 3,000-WORD RETRACTION

Fort Worth Weekly Editor Anthony Mariani boldly goes where not enough journos, heck, people, have gone before: He admits he was wrong. Mariani writes that he unintentionally retweeted misinformation that the Sante Fe High School shooter was armed with an AR-15; in reality, it was a shotgun and a revolver. Even after learning he was wrong, Mariani refused to back down—mostly because he was called out by a Trump troll, but also because a bit of him hoped that the incorrect tweet might change minds. Yet it stuck in his craw.

Mariani writes, “I might be hurting the mission that I freely admit I now support 100 percent: sensible gun control. I have now armed that pseudonymous user and every person like him/her with ammunition: ‘Anthony Mariani is FAKE NEWS.’” This, he concedes, “is kind of a big deal.”

Mariani worries that he has impugned the work of his paper and other journalists by spreading falsity, however well-intended. Opinions can be correct, particularly if they are empathetic, informed and kind—but facts are facts.

Thus, in closing, Mariani tells readers to “consider this my retraction.” Brave move, sir.

PROTESTING IS THE NEW BLACK

As author Piper Kerman, who penned Orange is the New Black, participated in a panel discussion on education in the prisonsystem, a group of protesters burst in, reports Jackson Free Press. The group of fewer than a dozen people was there to speak out of turn in support of the Mississippi prisoners participating in the national prison strike.

In the wake of their brief interruption, which led to at least one person to ask for the police to be summoned, Kerman indicated her support for the First Amendment, said she didn’t want anyone arrested, and offered some words that put the planned strike into perspective. “I guess I would emphasize that for prisoners to go on strike is a very hard thing for them to do,” she reportedly said. Kerman also later added, “We cannot deny the fact that the American tolerance and commitment to harsh punishment has a profound connection to our history, which includes chattel slavery and the forced removal of Native Americans. That’s where our tolerance and even embrace of harsh punishment comes from.” In case you’re wondering, none of the protesters was arrested.

ONE WIDE ROAD

Our friends at Maui Time have been busily informing the public about important news and information associated with Hurricane Lane, but that hasn’t stopped them from getting the lowdown on Oprah Winfrey’s private, four-mile road. Seemsthat for years, locals have been complaining about the need for just this road to ease traffic woes. Hooray, Oprah, right?! Nope. Apparently the road is not for public use; it’s only for Winfrey and guests at her 100-acre and 1,000-acre properties.

Lest you think Ms. Winfrey (another) billionaire benefiting from the public purse, turns out she coughed up her own coin to build the road and will pay for its upkeep. But that doesn’t stop rumors—or trespassers. “It’s hard to monitor the road,” OW Ranch’s Hugh Starr said. “There’s some concern about the general public. It’s kind of a double-edged sword because the road is very attractive to skateboards and joggers. We have definite security issues.”

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