Media matters 2012-2013

Written by  //  October 15, 2013  //  Media  //  Comments Off on Media matters 2012-2013


The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism


Claire Berlinski: How to Read Today’s Unbelievably Bad News
(Gatestone Institute) Something has gone very wrong in American coverage of news from abroad. It is shoddy, lazy, riddled with mistakes, and excessively simplistic.
Above all, it is absent.
Many things are to blame for this. In 2009, I wrote a piece for City Journal observing the disappearance of international news from the American press. It is a long-term trend. A number of studies suggest a roughly 80 percent drop in foreign coverage in print and television media since the end of the Cold War. It seems to me—based upon my casual perusal of the American media—that the trend is accelerating. This is long, but an important analysis – every word should be read and digested by anyone who fancies themselves as more than a ‘news junkie’ looking for a facile fix.
When reporters keep silent instead of scoops
During the Bosnia conflict, reporters in Sarajevo kept quiet about at least two great stories. We did so with an unwritten rule of realizing that sometimes silence is more important than scoops. … Those past moments come to mind with the stories now of how the Islamic cultural treasures of Timbuktu called for the same caution and awareness for reporters to go along with their accurate and fearless work from such conflict areas. (3 June 2013)

15 October
[Glenn] Greenwald Leaves Guardian, Leaving Team Snowden’s Future in Doubt
(Foreign Policy) After a spectacular run at the British newspaper, during which Greenwald delivered a series of bombshell scoops about the NSA, the Brazil-based journalist has now decided to form his own news site, which he says has secured major funding and will cover everything from politics to sports to entertainment. … The funding for the project reportedly comes from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, but more important is the fact that someone with serious cash on hand is willing to back a crusading, independent, left-wing journalist. It’s a remarkable turn of events — one indicative of the impact the Snowden documents have had in changing the conversation about surveillance and state power — that Greenwald now finds himself with the backing to launch an ambitious news organization.
4 September
Martin Patriquin — Pierre Karl Péladeau: King of Quebec
Quebecor’s restless titan: He controls the province’s media and its star system. Courted by politicians, he’s feared by journalists
He is Quebec’s (and perhaps Canada’s) most celebrated enigma, a man of seemingly ungulfable contradictions who, many say, has remained purposefully ambiguous on Quebec’s national question to further his own business interests. He is a strong Quebec nationalist—even a sovereignist, perhaps—who launched Sun News, a Maple Leaf-draped cable news outfit that is “as Canadian as you are,” according to a promotional video. It begs the question: who is the real PKP, the man who wields an enormous amount of influence over both politics and culture in Quebec? Few really know—and fewer still inside Quebec dare to ask.
Odd things happen when you write about Péladeau and Quebecor. People in all sorts of industries in Quebec—media, telecom, book publishing, distribution and the like—simply won’t talk, even off the record. Anecdotes about Péladeau’s elbows-out management style are recounted only with the promise that they will be kept off the page. People worry PKP will figure out who talked and either shun or sue them.
1 September
Sir David Frost, broadcaster and writer, dies at 74
(BBC) Veteran broadcaster Sir David Frost has died at the age of 74 after a suspected heart attack while on board a cruise ship. (1 September)
Rebranding the IHT: ‘New York Times Is the Stronger Name’
(Spiegel) It is the end of an era at the International Herald Tribune, with the paper soon to be rechristened as the International New York Times. In an interview, journalists Stephen Dunbar-Johnson and Dick Stevenson discuss the name change and the future of independent journalism. (3 September)
27 August
Syrian Electronic Army Responsible for New York Times Website Attack
(The Atlantic Wire) This was the second website outage for The Times in August. The last outage took place on August 14 and lasted for several hours. The newspaper chalked that up to “a failure during regular maintenance.” This time, however, hackers were suspected from the sart, with Eileen Murphy, The New York Times‘s vice president for corporate communications, telling The Atlantic Wire at around 4:30 p.m. that “our initial assessment is that this is most likely the result of a malicious external attack.” The Syrian Electronic Army became a suspect shortly thereafter.

19 August
Alan Rusbridger: David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face
(The Guardian) As the events in a Heathrow transit lounge – and the Guardian offices – have shown, the threat to journalism is real and growing
On Sunday morning David Miranda, the partner of Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, was detained as he was passing through Heathrow airport on his way back to Rio de Janeiro, where the couple live. Greenwald is the reporter who has broken most of the stories about state surveillance based on the leaks from the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
15 August
Ross Douthat: A Last Word on the Post and Politico
(NYT) I’m quite sure I’m hitting diminishing returns in my analysis of the Washington D.C. newspaper scene, but let me just reply to this piece in Buzzfeed, in which an ex-Politico staffer makes the case that it would be a tragedy if the Post took what he thinks was my Sunday column’s advice and tried to transform itself into Politico:
6 August
Andy Borowitz: Amazon Founder Says He Clicked on Washington Post by Mistake
(The New Yorker) Mr. Bezos said he had been oblivious to his online shopping error until earlier today, when he saw an unusual charge for two hundred and fifty million dollars on his American Express statement.
… Mr. Bezos said he had been on the phone with the Post’s customer service for the better part of the day trying to unwind his mistaken purchase, but so far “they’ve really been giving me the runaround.”
According to Mr. Bezos, “I keep telling them, I don’t know how it got in my cart. I don’t want it. It’s like they’re making it impossible to return it.”
How Bezos’ Brilliant WaPo Purchase Will Reinvigorate Newspapers
(PC Magazine) Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is no dummy. Here are six reasons his purchase of the Washington Post will change the newspaper industry for the better.
5 August
washington post logotypeAmazon’s Jeff Bezos to buy Washington Post
E-retail magnate puts up $250 million US for storied newspaper
Amazon will have no role in the purchase, according to a story in the Washington Post. Bezos will be the company’s sole owner upon completion of the deal, expected within 60 days.
Despite its storied history — which includes coverage of the Watergate scandal, the Pentagon Papers and the more recent relevations about eavesdropping by the NSA — the Post noted it has been hurt by the “financial turmoil” that has engulfed many U.S. newspapers.
“The Post could have survived under the company’s ownership and been profitable for the foreseeable future,” Post Co. chief executive Donald Graham told the paper. “But we wanted to do more than survive. I’m not saying this guarantees success but it gives us a much greater chance of success.” Jeff Bezos on Post purchase

newsweek last print edition coverNewsweek is dead. Long live Newsweek?
Newsweek’s acquisition by upstart International Business Times is just the latest transformation of the long-heralded weekly
(The Guardian) On Saturday it was announced that Newsweek is being sold yet again, this time to the International Business Times, a generic-feeling suite of sites with no discernible relationship to the once-venerable weekly’s publishing mission.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Further layoffs were expected at Newsweek. IBT has said it will re-introduce the domain, which was retired when the magazine merged with the Daily Beast news site in 2010. The Beast, run by former New Yorker editor Tina Brown and backed by broadcasting mogul Barry Diller, will now un-merge with Newsweek, which is being handed over alone. …
IBT attracts considerable web traffic – 11.4m unique visitors in the US in June 2013, according to ComScore. That compares with 11.7m for, 16.2m for and 16.38m for Business Insider. IBT’s finances, however – the source of its acquisition power – are unknown. Christianity Today has tied it to David Jang, a Korean pastor and businessman with followers who believe he is the second coming of Jesus Christ. IBT denied such a connection in an interview with Buzzfeed
20 July
Longtime White House Reporter Helen Thomas Dies
(Newsmax) Helen Thomas, the irrepressible White House correspondent who used her seat in the front row of history to grill nine presidents and was not shy about sharing her opinions, died Saturday. She was 92.
Thomas made her name as a bulldog for United Press International in the great wire-service rivalries of old, and as a pioneer for women in journalism.
Thomas was at the forefront of women’s achievements in journalism. She was one of the first female reporters to break out of the White House “women’s beat” — the soft stories about presidents’ kids, wives, their teas and their hairdos — and cover the hard news on an equal footing with men.
She became the first female White House bureau chief for a wire service when UPI named her to the position in 1974. She was also the first female officer at the National Press Club, where women had once been barred as members.
2 July
$1.5m grant empowers ICIJ to expand global investigative reporting
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has been granted the largest investment by an individual in its 15-year history.
At a time of great pessimism about the future of investigative reporting, this kind of recognition for the non-profit work ICIJ does sends a strong message about the potential of cross-border investigative reporting in the fast-changing modern media world.
The three-year, $1.5 million grant by the Australian philanthropist and businessman Graeme Wood will allow us to build new capacity and expand our services. It also recognizes a need to preserve and protect investigative reporting globally during a period of turmoil.
18 June
Susan Delacourt: The PMO, the journalists and the whole off-the-record thing
(Toronto Star) The Barrie Advance has a story “outing” the PMO as the source of documents circulated to multiple news outlets yesterday, attempting to sow controversy over Justin Trudeau’s speaking engagements in 2006 and 2007.
The Star was among those recipients. And why didn’t we say where the documents came from? Well, because the PMO official asked first. This seems to be the big difference between how the PMO approached national and local media yesterday. Before I was sent the documents, there was a conversation about the conditions surrounding their release.
16 June
Robert Fisk: Now I really don’t want to appear on the Newseum’s shameful list
Two pro-Hamas journalists were removed following an Israeli-led campaign
(The Independent) … now a cloak of shame is beginning to spread over this beacon of journalistic “excellence”. A memorial event for the 84 journalists killed while reporting war in 2012 has turned into a painful display of how a pro-Israeli lobby group can erase the names of reporters or cameramen who die in war – but who happen to be on the “wrong” side, or who happen to be reporting for the television station of the “wrong” side, or who can be labelled with that old cliché of “terrorists” because they opposed Israel or worked for a television station which opposed Israel.
10 June
Dumbest move of the year – or longer – now reversed
‘We’ve heard you’: Radio-Canada cancels controversial plan to change name to ‘Ici’
(National Post) The French-language CBC has decided, in the face of a backlash, to re-rebrand itself.
The company apologized Monday and revised a marketing plan that would have seen its traditional name, “Radio-Canada,” essentially wiped off the public stage.
The idea had triggered complaints from a union representing some of its employees, condemnation from its political bosses in the federal cabinet, endless ribbing in social media, and coverage in the New York Times.
Under the original plan, launched last week, Radio-Canada would have been rebranded as “Ici” — the French word for “Here.”
28 May
NYC PBS President Freaks Out Over Documentary Critical of Koch Brothers, Offers David Koch Unprecedented Rebuttal
(Truthout) Thom Hartmann recently wrote an extremely widely read article on how the Public Broadcasting Service has evolved into a sometimes self-censored television network, in large part because major donors represent the 1% who would be the subject of discussion when it comes to economic concentration in the hands of a few.
Hartmann entitled his commentary, “The Corporate Dictatorship of PBS and NPR.” The primary example Hartmann offers of how critical analysis necessary for formulating public policy is de facto censored concerns how PBS dropped the funding of a documentary called “Citizen Koch.” [For a more detailed version of this story, see A Word from Our Sponsor — Public television’s attempts to placate David Koch. (Jane Mayer, New Yorker, 27 May 2013)]
Ads On CBC Radio 2 Coming As Broadcaster Gets CRTC Approval
(Canadian Press) The CBC has been given permission by the federal broadcast regulator to introduce advertising on some of its radio networks, breaking a four-decade tradition of commercial-free service.
The change, contained in a licence renewal decision, will only apply to the public broadcaster’s secondary radio networks, the all-music Radio 2 and its French-language equivalent, Espace Musique. Advertising will also be limited to four minutes every hour.
27 May
Gawker, Crackstarter, and Crowdfunding Checkbook Journalism
Ethan Zuckerman, Director, Center for Civic Media at MIT
(HuffPost) Paying sources for stories is a controversial practice. In the English-language press, it’s often called “checkbook journalism“, and it’s frowned on in elite U.S. media (though it’s certainly happened through history), though quite common in tabloid media. In the U.K., it’s significantly more common, and underpins much of the scandal around the behaviour of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers there. U.S. journalist Jack Schafer argues that there are practical, as well as ethical, reasons to avoid paying sources – you’ll cultivate sources who want to sell you bad information as well as good information.
11 May
Back to the future: What if the ‘mass media’ era was just an accident of history?
( We are used to thinking of a “mass media” market made up of large newspapers and TV networks as the normal state of affairs in media, but what if that was just a historical anomaly?
30 April
Postmedia Changes: Publishers Dropped, As Newspaper Chain Makes More Internal Changes
Postmedia has been cutting costs across its operations as part of a three-year program to transform its money-losing business.
Earlier this month, the company reported a $14.2-million loss in the second quarter due to a 10 per cent drop in revenue and losses related to currency exchange values.
19 April
Stephen Saideman: The Boston bombing and the media mess
The events of this past week should provide a cautionary tale about 21st century media/Internet reporting and punditry. Throughout Thursday night and Friday morning, various outlets, including Twitter, were repeating the first things people were hearing or thinking.
15 April
Thou Shalt Not Stoop to Political Point-Scoring — A journalist’s guide to tweeting during a crisis.
(Slate) Twitter has only made the business of news gathering and sharing in the wake of a disaster more treacherous. If, as a wise journalist once said, journalism is the first rough draft of history, then Twitter is the first rough draft of journalism. During nightmarish events like today’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, the micro-blogging service is both the cause of and solution to a whole lot of journalistic problems.
12 April
Nate Thayer Disinvited from HuffPo TV Appearance
An underpaid writer keeps things honest
(NY Observer) Nate Thayer recently became a hero to an entire generation of underappreciated, underpaid–and more importantly often unpaid–journalists just scraping by when he made public emails from an Atlantic editor asking him to work for free. With even our most highly remunerated writers, including Scott Turow, speaking out about their writing being pilfered, Thayer struck a chord.
“We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month,” an editor, Olga Khazan, emailed him after reading a piece that Thayer had already written elsewhere. Thayer turned down the offer, instead publishing verbatim his email correspondence with Khazan on his blog as the story went viral.
3 April
secrecyforsale_cpi_headerSecret Files Expose Offshore’s Global Impact
Dozens of journalists sifted through millions of leaked records and thousands of names to produce ICIJ’s investigation into offshore secrecy ­
(ICIJ) The secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists lay bare the names behind covert companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore hideaways.
The hoard of documents represents the biggest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organization. The total size of the files, measured in gigabytes, is more than 160 times larger than the leak of U.S. State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010.
To analyze the documents, ICIJ collaborated with reporters from The Guardian and the BBC in the U.K., Le Monde in France, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Norddeutscher Rundfunk in Germany, The Washington Post, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and 31 other media partners around the world.
Eighty-six journalists from 46 countries used high-tech data crunching and shoe-leather reporting to sift through emails, account ledgers and other files covering nearly 30 years.
26 March
‘Robo-reporter’ raises questions about future of journalists
(Postmedia News) Journalist Ken Schwencke has occasionally awakened in the morning to find his byline atop a news story he didn’t write.
No, it’s not that his employer, The Los Angeles Times, is accidentally putting his name atop other writers’ articles. Instead, it’s a reflection that Schwencke, digital editor at the respected U.S. newspaper, wrote an algorithm — that then wrote the story for him.
Instead of personally composing the pieces, Schwencke developed a set of step-by-step instructions that can take a stream of data — this particular algorithm works with earthquake statistics, since he lives in California — compile the data into a pre-determined structure, then format it for publication. … that has raised questions about the future of flesh-and-blood journalists, and about journalism ethics.
21 March
Jonathan Sas: How ‘Native Advertising’ Is Changing What We Read
Brands have decided they’d rather be the story than the ad.
(The Tyee) Commercial news outlets have been grasping at straws trying to come up with answers for the better part of a decade. Last week, the Washington Post joined the likes of Forbes, The Atlantic, Buzzfeed and others and embraced what some argue is the new best-hope to restore falling revenues: “native advertising.”
Also known as sponsored or branded content, you’ll likely be hearing reference to the odd-named practice more and more, as commercial publications seek to respond to the explosion of content marketing in the advertising world.
13 March
Paul Krugman memeThe cult of Krugman
Nobel Prize winning economist. Influential blogger. Internet folk hero?
(Foreign Policy) What is it about Paul Krugman that provokes so much mirth among the internet masses? Is it his penetrating economic insights? His accessible writing style? His take-no-prisoners partisan debating tactics? His well maintained facial hair?
Yesterday brought us the Krugman Times — a website which takes the front page of the New York Times but replaces all the bylines with Krugman’s, all the photos with various glamour shots of the the Princeton professor, and phrases with more Krugman-esque versions. For instance, Alissa Rubin’s story “Karzai Bets on Vilifying U.S. to Shed His Image as a Lackey” becomes “New Keynesianism on Vilifying U.S. to Shed His Financial Crisis as a Liquidity Trap.” …
American composer Eugene Birman took a more highbrow route, writing a 16-minute opera using Krugman’s Twitter feud with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves as the libretto.
Then there’s economist and blogger Brad Delong’s ongoing Krugman-inspired “Order of the Shrill” feature, which has a connection to H.P. Lovecraft that I don’t fully understand but there you go.
Sometimes, commentators seem to have a hard time distinguishing the memeified Krugman from the real one. Last week, the Daily Currant posted a satirical item reporting that Krugman had declared bankruptcy. The story was picked up and rereported as fact by a number of outlets including Breitbart and
From his New York Times perch, Krugman wrote that he had waited before correcting the story to see which outlets picked it up. “OK, I’m an evil person — and my scheming has paid off,” cackled Lord Cthulhu.
15 February
After the Arab Spring: Al-Jazeera Losing Battle for Independence
(Spiegel) For over a decade, the Arab television broadcaster Al-Jazeera was widely respected for providing an independent voice from the Middle East. Recently, however, several top journalists have left, saying the station has developed a clear political agenda. … A prominent correspondent who, until one year ago, used to report in Beirut for the network, says: “Al-Jazeera takes a clear position in every country from which it reports — not based on journalistic priorities, but rather on the interests of the Foreign Ministry of Qatar,” he says. “In order to maintain my integrity as a reporter, I had to quit.”
Critics say that the emir now essentially trusts only his own people: The network’s director general is now a relative of the emir, as is the head of the advisory board. They are seemingly required to follow political guidelines laid down by the palace — instead of serving the interests of viewers. Thanks to its oil wealth, Qatar is blessed with the world’s second highest per capita income, and it’s a key geo-political player with a clear agenda.
6 February
Fox News’ Credibility At ‘Record Low’: PPP Poll
(HuffPost) Fox News’ credibility has fallen 9 percent since three years ago, according to new Public Policy Polling (PPP) results released on Wednesday. … PBS is the only outlet that respondents trust more than distrust, with 52 percent of voters saying they trust the network, and 29 percent saying they do not.
29 January
Exit Sarah Palin and Krista Erickson. Where have all the right-wing women gone?
(Globe & Mail) It’s an interesting coincidence, don’t you think, this almost-simultaneous departure of two polarizing, right-wing female figures from the scene? And one has to wonder why. Is it the right wing that is fading, or is it the fading of right-wing women on TV?
The thing is, there is now a shortage of right-women pundits on TV. While it’s possible, sometimes, to find Ann Coulter ranting away somewhere on TV, the right-of-centre space is mainly occupied by grumpy old guys going off all pompous.
A great deal of television is aimed at women. The number of women rising to political power in Canada – women run half the provinces – and the U.S. increases all the time. Roadblocks to women in politics have disappeared, but this reality is not reflected in the way politics and social issues are covered on TV. Especially on the right.
28 January
Jonathan Sas: Scrambling for Profit, Media Slip ‘Custom Content’ into Mix
Some reporters resent rise of assignments born of deals with advertisers.
(The Tyee) Most of us assume that media outlets still go about producing their news the traditional way — a reporter sniffs out a lead or an editor assigns an evolving story or, these days, a columnist storifies a flurry of Twitter activity.
Increasingly, however, stories are put into motion differently. Referred to variously as custom content, custom publishing or directed content, Canada’s major broadsheets and newsmagazines are now speckled with content spun up by marketers and brand sponsors.


Media coverage of mass murders and inspiration to copycats
(RCI) Whenever there is a horrific killing as is the recent case in the US, the media descends en masse to cover it.
These are unimaginable crimes, but several experts have been saying that exposure to violent TV crime shows, and violent films, and in recent years, video games, have inspired killings.
Several experts question both the role of the TV, film, video game industries and the news media itself for a role in inspiring murders and rampage killings.
6 December
Daily Beast Considers Charging for Website
(Bloomberg) Newsweek/Daily Beast Co., the media company founded by Tina Brown and backed by billionaire Barry Diller, is considering charging readers for access to its Daily Beast website for the first time. The New York-based company, which merged with Newsweek magazine last year, is contemplating a shift to so-called metered access, spokesman Andrew Kirk said.
While some of the magazine’s content will still be available on the Daily Beast site, Newsweek’s shift to a paid- subscription model may put more pressure on the Daily Beast to do the same. Visitors to Newsweek and Daily Beast are currently directed to the same Web address, making it difficult to impose restrictions on just one of the publications.
11 November
Media fight on the right over GOP
(Politico) As moderates see it, the “conservative entertainment complex” of talk radio, Fox News, and right-wing blogs has an outsized and potentially fatal influence over the party, alienating Latinos with crass solutions to illegal immigration (“self-deportation”) and insulting women with disrespectful remarks about abortion and birth control.
Far from accepting this premise, the far right is retrenching.
… after election night, it was conservative pundits, not lawmakers and party powerbrokers, who led the charge this week for a more tolerant immigration policy. Charles Krauthammer, the syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor, said Wednesday that “Republicans can change their position, be a lot more open to actual amnesty with enforcement — amnesty, everything short of citizenship — and make a bold change in their policy.” In a surprise move that drew widespread notice among conservatives, Fox News host Sean Hannity went a step further the next day, telling his wide audience of radio listeners that his views on immigration have “evolved” and he now supports a “pathway to citizenship.”
6 November
Politico Adopts False Romney Unemployment Claim
(Media Matters) Independent fact-checkers have rated the charge that Obama promised an unemployment rate of around 5 percent as false and misleading. While economists working with Obama projected in 2009 that one version of a stimulus bill would lower the unemployment to that level, the severity of the recession wasn’t fully understood at that time, and Obama himself never promised that level of unemployment would be achieved.
Nevertheless Politico claimed that the Obama administration never achieved “its own projections to bring unemployment to 5.4 percent, ” which echoes Romney’s claim that Obama promised an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent.
18 October
Newsweek stops the presses, going digital-only
In an admission that news is not enough, and a week is much too long, one of the most well-known print magazines of the past 100 years is shutting down shop.
The new, digital-only version, called Newsweek Global, will run on a paid-subscription model.
Along with rumours (since denied) that Britain’s Guardian newspaper was also about to suspend its print edition, the death of one of the English-speaking world’s most recognizable magazines cast a pall over the entire industry, with observers speculating as to which domino might fall next. … The big unknown is whether what was once called “print journalism” can survive if and when more of the dominoes tumble.
17 October
An enhanced and enriched experience for Globe subscribers
Regardless of platform, the country’s best journalism remains our daily standard. While many of our traditional rivals retreat, we are bolstering our newsroom. Look soon for a South American bureau to add to our understanding of Canada’s world, an investigations team to probe what really should matter to this country, and expanded coverage of health, education and Canadian politics.
What won’t change? Already the most acclaimed and widely read single newspaper site in Canada, will remain free for most of our users – those who want to survey our home pages and section fronts for business, life, commentary, arts and sports, sample 10 stories a month, find us through search engines, watch videos, use our Watchlist tool to follow stocks and mutual funds, or click on some of our most popular features such as Letters to the Editor, horoscopes and weather, which will remain universally free. We value our casual online readers because they represent future subscribers.
BBC scandal creates waves for incoming New York Times CEO
(Reuters) – The erupting scandal at Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC, over allegations of sexual abuse involving late TV host Jimmy Savile is leading to awkward questions for the New York Times Co’s incoming chief executive, Mark Thompson.
12 October
Martha Raddatz Rocked
(Foreign Policy) At Thursday night’s vice presidential debate, the moderator was a member of a minority who, with her outstanding performance, made the case that future debates would be well served by having more moderators like her. Hey Commission on Presidential Debates: Give us more reporters!
Yes, you’re right, Martha Raddatz is a woman, but that’s not what made her better than “silent Jim” Lehrer or other predecessors. Look at the list of moderators from the last two presidential elections: Lehrer (twice), Bob Schieffer (twice), Gwen Ifill (VP moderator in both ’04 and ’08), Tom Brokaw, and Charles Gibson. Esteemed journalists all, but ones who have spent years as anchors or hosts. By contrast, Raddatz … has been an ABC News correspondent for more than a decade, and before that covered the Pentagon for NPR. She’s been to Iraq 21 times.
You knew from the very first question, when Raddatz asked, directly and specifically, about the Benghazi attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, that she was going to steer the debate toward substantive issues and demand specific answers.
4 October
PBS CEO Paula Kerger: Mitt Romney’s Debate Attack Was ‘Stunning’
PBS chief Paula Kerger spoke to CNN’s Carol Costello on Thursday, and didn’t mince words in her response to Romney.
“With the enormous problems facing our country, the fact that we are the focus is just unbelievable to me,” she said. Later, she called it a “stunning moment.”
Noting that the debate touched on education, she called PBS “America’s biggest classroom,” adding, “This is not about the budget. It has to be about politics.”
Moderator Jim Lehrer the big loser after Wednesday night’s presidential debate
(AP via National Post) The veteran PBS anchor drew caustic social media reviews for his performance on Wednesday, with critics saying he failed to keep control of the campaign’s first direct exchange between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. The candidates talked over Lehrer’s attempts to keep them to time limitations, and his open-ended questions frequently lacked sharpness.
The tough assessments crossed party lines: Republican commentator Laura Ingraham wrote on Twitter that Lehrer seemed “a bit overwhelmed.” Comic and Democratic activist Bill Maher bluntly tweeted that “Lehrer sucked.”
Jim Lehrer Debate Moderating Performance Savaged
It was Lehrer’s 12th time moderating, but he was largely unsuccessful in his attempts to corral the candidates. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney rolled right over him as, with increasing plaintiveness, he tried to get them to stop talking. “No, no, no,” he said to Romney at one point. Romney didn’t listen.
By the end of the debate, Obama and Romney had taken so much free time that Lehrer had to inform them that they would not get to one of the 15-minute segments he had intended to moderate.
The reviews on Twitter were scathing. Conservative columnist John Podhoretz called Lehrer possibly “the worst moderator in the history of moderation.” Even the normally mild-mannered Al Roker took a shot at Lehrer.
2 October
2012 Debate Moderators And Topics Continue To Draw Scrutiny; Jim Lehrer ‘Seething’ Over Criticism
With just a day to go until the first presidential debate, there’s been no let-up in the pressure and criticism directed at the Commission on Presidential Debates, the group in charge of the showdowns between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.
From the lack of racial diversity to the questions being asked, every part of the debate set-up is being scrutinized.
The all-white makeup of the four moderators selected has been widely discussed. On Tuesday, Frank Fahrenkopf, the Republican co-chair of the CPD, told Poynter that the lack of diversity in television news was hampering his group’s choices, and said the CPD was trying …
23 September
Colby Cash: Globe and Mail, or Cut and Paste?
(Maclean’s) [In the wake of the revelations regarding Margaret Wente’s misappropriation of the work of others, e.g. plagiarism, the Globe & Mail has appointed “Sylvia Stead its first ‘public editor’.”]
Well, it is not likely there will ever be a case in which Stead is presented with close-up video footage of Wente using her mouse to highlight someone else’s words and pressing Control-C and Control-V. That is why the strict-liability standard is usual. If Stead will not apply it—if she is willing to accept any denial from a fellow Globe lifer, however preposterous—then how can she ever, as an impartial judge of journalism ethics, deliver a conviction? Can it be that the whole point is to have the appearance of accountability without the actual possibility of it?
See also [Related, and relevant: Wainio’s own response to Stead’s investigation.]
17 September
Newsweek ‘Muslim rage’ cover invokes a rage of its own
(The Guardian) A dying magazine has managed to outrage and alienate potential readers with its latest attention-grabbing move
It was either a brilliant bid for attention (and readers) or one of the worst editorial decisions in recent memory. Either way, the reaction was scathing.
Below a headline proclaiming MUSLIM RAGE, Newsweek’s latest cover features a photograph of a mob of wild-eyed men yelling, presumably taken during one of the recent anti-US protests in the Muslim world.
Calculatedly controversial Newsweek covers are hardly news these days, but this one provoked genuine outrage. Marc Lych, the director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University and the Guardian’s own Glenn Greenwald denounced the magazine for stirring up Islamophobia.
31 August
Why Fox News is souring on Sarah Palin: 3 theories
In 2008, Sarah Palin was the star of the GOP convention. For this year’s RNC, she couldn’t even secure an appearance on the cable news network that employs her
27 August
Why the Networks Should Ignore Ann Romney’s Speech
(Slate) In 1996, Nightline actually pulled up stakes in the middle of the Republican convention, with Ted Koppel telling the New York Times, ”There was a time when the national political conventions were news events of such complexity that they required the presence of thousands of journalists. But not this year.” In 2008, the broadcast networks only aired the convention events that happened between 9 and 10 PM CST live each night, and did edited coverage of the other speeches, reasoning that PBS, C-SPAN, the cable networks and streaming services could fill the gaps for the true junkies. This year ABC, CBS, and NBC decided to go down to three hours of live coverage total instead of four. Predictability is what makes it entirely justifiable to not air Ann Romney’s speech. It’s hard to imagine that Mrs. Romney is going to attempt to sell audiences on a significantly revised portrait of her husband, or make any news. Given that the conventions are staged campaign events rather than places where events are actually decided, it makes sense that the networks (and the rest of the media, for that matter) should exert judgment.
22 August
Postmedia papers explain their paywalls

(Steve Ladurantaye) Four of Canada’s highest-profile newspapers threw the switch on paywalls Tuesday, asking their readers to pay for the content they are reading online.
By the end of the day The Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Province, Vancouver Sun and National Post will all have caps on the number of articles readers can access per month before being asked to pay.
15 August
Postmedia sheds costs with shift to Hamilton
(Steve Ladurantaye) Postmedia Network Inc. is accelerating plans to slash costs at titles across the country, as it grapples with a heavy debt load and a relatively bleak view of the future of print advertising.
Just a day after the Edmonton Journal said it would outsource the printing of the newspaper, The Gazette in Montreal said Tuesday that it would begin using centralized pages for its national and international coverage, and shrink to two sections. Read the story in the Globe and Mail
“By the end of the month, all of its newspapers will use shared pages built in Hamilton for their non-local content in a bid to centralize story selection and editing – local editors currently select and edit the national and international stories that appear in their pages. … Postmedia has spent the past several months laying the groundwork for its restructuring. It has closed its Ottawa-based wire service and laid off copy editors and page designers – once seen as the lifeblood of daily newspapers – to send their work to a centralized facility in Hamilton. …
[The Gazette is] the first of the papers to announce the changes that will soon occur across the chain, and will leave much of the editorial decision-making power in the hands of editors outside of each newspaper’s city. The Hamilton editors, led by industry veteran Lou Clancy, will also be allowed to determine which stories appear on the front page of each of the chain’s papers, although local stories will take precedence.”
10 August
CNN suspends Fareed Zakaria for plagiarism
(Politico) CNN has joined Time Magazine and suspended Fareed Zakaria following his admission of plagiarism.
“We have reviewed Fareed Zakaria’s TIME column, for which he has apologized,” CNN said in a written statement. “He wrote a shorter blog post on on the same issue which included similar unattributed excerpts. That blog post has been removed and CNN has suspended Fareed Zakaria while this matter is under review.”
Time Magazine suspended Zakaria earlier this afternoon after he admitted to plagiarizing an April article about the National Rifle Association by New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore.
“TIME accepts Fareed’s apology, but what he did violates our own standards for our columnists, which is that their work must not only be factual but original; their views must not only be their own but their words as well,” Ali Zelenko, Time’s SVP of Communications, said in a statement. “As a result, we are suspending Fareed’s column for a month, pending further review.”
2 August
Wonderful news! CBC wins back Canadian media rights for Olympic Games in 2014, 2016
The Olympic Games will return to CBC for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, the International Olympic Committee announced Wednesday.
The CBC has aired 19 different Olympics over almost 60 years in Canada, most recently the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. But CTV landed the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010 and is currently broadcasting the London Summer Games.
30 July
Huffington Post’s Ever Growing Canadian Ambitions
Now moving into BC and Alberta, the aggressive US media firm is either a partner or threat to homegrown media, depending on who’s talking.
By Jonathan Sas, [incoming Sauvé Scholar 2012-2013]
A very thoughtful and thorough analysis of the impact of the invasion of Canadian ether by HuffPost on Canada’s media, large and small. There are too many good arguments raised to condense. Deserves to be read, absorbed and (as the author suggests with tongue slightly in cheek) The issue of foreign ownership in Canada, it seems is poised for renewed discussion and vigorous debate. The public deserves to be informed by thoughtful arguments in the press… or perhaps in the blogging section of HuffPo Canada.
11 May [updated 2 August]
Globe and Mail To Hide Behind Paywall
As if they actually expect people to pay for the product of hours upon hours of researching, reporting, and editing.
(The Mark) Starting this fall, you’re going to have to actually pay to read Margaret Wente online, as The Globe and Mail has decided to try its luck with a paywall. Publisher Philip Crawley announced the change to the nation’s most widely read bourgeois-bohemian rag on the same day that employees were offered unpaid leave to help the company’s bottom line. He did not say whether the paper’s digital edition would be completely behind the paywall, or if it would follow the example of The Onion and The New York Times by allowing readers to view between 10 to 20 articles a month gratis. The Postmedia newspapers are also headed in a similar direction, while the Toronto Star has put its Hamilton Spectator behind one as well, which has always struck as insult added to the, well, insult of having to live in Hamilton. (We kid! It’s a beautiful town. Waterfalls! The Ti-Cats!) If the Star decides to take up the paywall for its flagship paper, then lower-income Canadians will only have the Sun paper chain to peruse for free online. We can’t possibly see how that can go wrong.
29 March
Suck it up, CBC. You should have seen this coming
One thing to keep in mind on this, the day of the slash-and-burn federal budget, is that Our Glorious Leader (OGL) doesn’t watch Canadian TV news. He said so in 2009, the very week that CBC jazzed up its news coverage with a new look. OGL could not care less.
See, it doesn’t matter if CBC’s funding is cut by 5 per cent or 10 per cent today. The CBC must take a hit because CBC represents the Canada that is “a northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term,” as OGL famously described Canada in a 1997 speech.
Whatever this budget brings, here’s a message to CBC – suck it up, you should have seen this coming; now use the opportunity of retrenchment to redefine your mission and values.
The worst possible result for the CBC is actually the most likely outcome from the reduction to its budget – somewhere between what it is now and the teensy, PBS-style, public-donor-funded public broadcaster that many bray for it to become.
28 March
How the Murdoch scandal turned paranoia into reality
(Globe & Mail) I was thinking of A Very British Coup while watching Scandal: Inside the Murdoch Empire … What Scandal reminded me is that, almost a quarter-century later, it doesn’t seem paranoid at all. It seems realistic.
The documentary, made by Emmy-winning former fifth estate producer Neil Docherty, is a very useful, step-by-step guide to events surrounding the phone-hacking scandal that has diminished Rupert Murdoch and his News International company. What it doesn’t cover is, perhaps, the truly unanswerable question – why does Britain have such an appetite for a deeply repulsive newspaper culture?
7 March
How open journalism reimagines the story
(Globe & Mail) So why aren’t we all doing this? Lots of reasons – only a few of them good. Yes, there are stories that we need to keep under our hats or they’ll fall apart: Sources will scatter or clam up, or another reporter will get the scoop. Sometimes, trying to sort the wheat from the chaff that comes across the transom isn’t worth the trouble. And many news organizations have been burned by publishing photos or stories submitted by “citizen journalists” without properly vetting the material.
1 March
Guardian open journalism: Three Little Pigs advert – video
This advert for the Guardian’s open journalism, screened for the first time on 29 February 2012, imagines how we might cover the story of the Three Little Pigs in print and online. Follow the story from the paper’s front page headline, through a social media discussion and finally to an unexpected conclusion. Very clever
Murdoch Jr flies away from trouble – but it may follow him to America
US authorities expected to investigate NI’s illicit practices as executive chairman quits to run father’s TV business
(The Independent) Yesterday’s resignation means that James Murdoch no longer has a responsibility for the company amid growing expectation of an investigation by American authorities into the illicit practices of News Corp’s British subsidiary.
22 February
Remembering War Correspondent Marie Colvin: 1957-2012
(Vanity Fair) This evening the news from Homs has been silenced. We don’t know how many people have been killed or what areas of the town are under bombardment—and that is because one of the bravest people ever to file a story is dead, and can no longer be there to bear witness.
Sunday Times editor pays tribute to Marie Colvin
John Witherow says journalist killed in Syrian town of Homs was ‘one of the greatest foreign correspondents of her generation’
(The Guardian) John Witherow, the Sunday Times editor, has paid tribute on Radio 4 to Marie Colvin, the paper’s journalist killed in Syria, describing her as “one of the greatest foreign correspondents of her generation”.
Witherow said Colvin, who was killed in the besieged Syrian town of Homs on Wednesday along with French photographer Remi Ochlik when the building they were in was hit by artillery fire, was an “extraordinary journalist”.
He added that she did not just want to report, but “to change things and she believed that reporting could change things and alleviate suffering”. “In several cases I think she did achieve that,” Witherow told Radio 4’s The Media Show.
2 February
Facebook unveils $5bn stock market flotation plans
(BBC) Facebook said it would seek to raise $5bn (£3.16bn, 3.8bn euros), about half the amount many analysts expected.
But the initial public offering (IPO) is still expected to be the biggest sale of shares by an internet company.
Facebook, just eight years old and started by Harvard University students, now has 845 million users and made a profit of $1bn last year.
Facebook reveals what makes its network tick
(FT) The first close look that Facebook gave the world of its finances speaks volumes about what makes the social networking company tick
18 January
Web blackout: Wikipedia has taken its English-language site offline for 24 hours to protest two Internet piracy bills — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) — making their way through the U.S. Congress, with other sites like Reddit and Boing Boing following suit. Google is still humming, but the search engine has blocked out its logo and linked to an online petition urging Congress not to censor the web.
10 January
The Prime Minister announced a two-part inquiry investigating the role of the press and police in the phone-hacking scandal, on 13 July 2011.
Lord Justice Leveson was appointed as Chairman of the Inquiry. The first part will examine the culture, practices and ethics of the media. In particular, Lord Justice Leveson will examine the relationship of the press with the public, police and politicians. He is assisted by a panel of six independent assessors with expertise in key issues being considered by the Inquiry.
Independent editor: Johann Hari scandal ‘severely damaged’ paper
Chris Blackhurst admits that plagiarism caused ‘shock’, and reveals columnist is to return in four to five weeks
(The Guardian) The plagiarism scandal involving columnist and interviewer Johann Hari “severely damaged” the reputation of the Independent, the paper’s editor has admitted at the Leveson inquiry.
Four months after Hari apologised, Chris Blackhurst said the affair had caused “profound” shock among his colleagues. He revealed that Hari, who took unpaid leave in September and has been on a journalism ethics course in New York, would be returning to the paper in “four or five weeks” but as a columnist and not as an interviewer.
8 January
Hackers expose defence and intelligence officials in US and UK
Security breach by ‘hacktivists’ reveals email addresses of 221 British military staff and 242 Nato officials
(The Guardian) The hackers, who are believed to be part of the Anonymous group, gained unauthorised access over Christmas to the account information of Stratfor, a consultancy based in Texas that specialises in foreign affairs and security issues. The database had recorded in spreadsheets the user IDs – usually email addresses – and encrypted passwords of about 850,000 individuals who had subscribed to Stratfor’s website.
27 December, 2011
US security firm Stratfor attacked by ‘Robin Hood’ hackers
Group linked to Anonymous says it diverted $500,000 to various charities in attack driven by anger at Bradley Manning case

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