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Christopher Harper

Christopher Harper

Christopher Harper is a professor of journalism at Temple University. He worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and "20/20" for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at

Articles by Christopher Harper

Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol is surrounded by media after meeting with protesters Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. The Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer has touched off rancorous protests in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb where police have used riot gear and tear gas. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

HARPER: Media mantra misses the story as Ferguson explodes

Much of the media mantra in Ferguson, Missouri, followed a simple storyline. An 18-year-old black, known to his friends and family as a "gentle giant," planned to attend college the following week. As he walked down the street with his friend around noon Saturday, Aug. 9, he met a police officer who gunned him down as he tried to surrender with his hands held high. Published August 20, 2014

In this June 10, 1983 frame grab of video made available by Raiford Communications, Inc., former president Richard Nixon talks about his 1974 resignation in a series of interviews conducted by former White House aide Frank Gannon in New York City. The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and the privately held Nixon Foundation are co-releasing a trove of videotaped interviews with the  former president to mark the 40th anniversary of his resignation following the Watergate scandal. The 28 minutes of tape, detailing Nixon's personal turmoil in his final week in office, were culled from more than 30 hours of tape recorded in 1983. (AP Photo/Copyright Raiford Communications) IMAGE MAY ONLY BE USED FOR 3 DAYS FROM TIME OF TRANSMISSION; NO ARCHIVING; NO LICENSING. PUBLIC OUT.

HARPER: Journalists were not the heroes of Watergate

Many reporters still consider Watergate as the zenith of U.S. journalism, a point of which we'll be reminded as the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon arrives this week. Published August 6, 2014

FILE - In this file photo taken Saturday, July 19, 2014, an Israeli left-wing activist holds a sign during a demonstration against Israel's operation in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Despite Israeli casualties and world criticism, a near-consensus in Israel supports the government’s conduct of the Gaza war, views Hamas as the aggressor and considers outsiders' moralizing as hypocritical, ignorant or both. A small but vocal opposition exists, but those arguing for peace are vociferously shouted down in a way rarely seen in a country long proud of its spirited, democratic debate. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)

HARPER: Biased media paint inaccurate picture of Gaza conflict

The differences between those in the media who support and those who oppose Israel have never been clearer, but that doesn't necessarily mean readers and viewers have gotten a better picture of the current conflict with Hamas. Published July 30, 2014

FILE - Actor James Garner is shown in character in this April 7, 1982 file photo. Actor James Garner, wisecracking star of TV's "Maverick" who went on to a long career on both small and big screen, died Saturday July 19, 2014 according to Los Angeles police. He was 86. (AP Photo/NBC, File)

HARPER: A liberal star who embodied conservative values

Despite his liberal leanings, actor James Garner, who died last weekend, provided some of the most conservative role models U.S. television has ever seen — role models that rarely exist now. Published July 23, 2014

** FILE ** In this April 17, 2007, file photo, exhibitors of the Google company work on laptop computers in front of an illuminated sign of the Google logo at the industrial fair Hannover Messe in Hanover, Germany. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, File)

HARPER: A lack of coverage when media giants misbehave

Google, Facebook and Amazon — a triumvirate the media tend to exalt — have been engaged in some questionable practices that have received relatively little news coverage, even though they were significant events that came to light during the slow summer news period. Published July 9, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito gestures as he speaks, Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 to a joint meeting of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches and the Palm Beach County Bar Association at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. Alito said the high court should never worry about its popularity when deciding cases. Alito told an audience of more than 1,100 people that the nine justices would undermine the court's standing if they were concerned about public opinion. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

HARPER: A justice’s argument overridden by a media agenda

The Supreme Court decision in a narrowly drawn case this week on contraception created a firestorm in the media, with the dominant narrative that rulings against women loom ahead in the courts — a viewpoint not borne out by a review of the case. Published July 2, 2014

A couple embrace before a memorial service for the victims and families of Friday's rampage at Harder Stadium on the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

HARPER: Newsrooms make tough calls in covering mass murders

The replays of the infamous YouTube video and the excerpts from the manifesto of the Santa Barbara killer underline an ethical debate news organizations should have: How much coverage should murderers get? Published May 28, 2014


HARPER: The New York Times won’t fix its problem with one firing

Although he has been rocked by the public relations disaster over his firing of New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has proved himself a survivor when dealing with most of the questions about his tenure as leader of the news organization over the past two decades. Published May 21, 2014


HARPER: The press needs to focus on an out-of-control EPA

The Environmental Protection Administration, arguably one of worst-managed federal agencies, has also become one of the government's most powerful entities with only limited oversight from journalists. Published May 14, 2014


HARPER: Campuses send off graduates with messages of censorship

Despite the media's fascination with racial issues, many news organizations have failed to understand the importance of two cases involving black women whose political views got them bounced from providing words of wisdom to graduating students at two universities. Published May 7, 2014

The Supreme Court (Associated Press) ** FILE **

HARPER: No need for truth panels to police campaign speech

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week on an important lawsuit concerning freedom of speech, but many news organizations failed to report on the issue. Maybe that's because a pro-life group brought the lawsuit and may win a significant victory before the court. Published April 23, 2014


HARPER: Despite lousy reviews, media give Hillary Clinton a pass

The U.S. Department of State — mostly on Hillary Clinton's watch — improperly monitored or completely lost an estimated $6 billion, which is nearly 12 percent of the department's annual budget of $51 billion. That's according to a recently-released report from the Office of the Inspector General. Published April 9, 2014