Media Matters 2017

Written by  //  December 28, 2017  //  Media  //  Comments Off on Media Matters 2017

Media Matters 2016
The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy
Trump Is Making Journalism Great Again
A More Detailed Guide to Dealing With Trump’s Lies
How to Manipulate Donald Trump
Memo: Changes to CBC News

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed.
If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.” – Mark Twain

28 December
Margaret Sullivan: Polls show Americans distrust the media. But talk to them, and it’s a very different story.
(WaPost) The country isn’t, I believe, rigidly divided into those who will always hate the media and those who deeply appreciate us. As a result, I think it’s more important than ever that we journalists continue striving to win over those who are skeptical, conflicted or simply apathetic. We need to heed complaints about the blending of news and opinion, and to make it clear which is which. We need to focus more intently — and more engagingly — on subjects that matter most to ordinary people’s lives, and to calm down about White House intrigue and Trump’s every tweet. And we need to stamp out the snarky attitude that seems to brag, “I’m smarter than my audience.” Perhaps most important, we need to be much more transparent — willing to explain our work, and own up to our inevitable mistakes

26 December
The top 10 [US] media stories of the year
A November Quinnipiac poll found American voters disapprove of media coverage of the president by a 20-point margin. However, 54 percent said they trust the media to tell the truth about important issues more than Trump, while 34 percent said they trusted the president more.
(The Hill) President Trump’s first year in office was a wild ride for the media.
From the inauguration on, reporters have been working at a frenetic pace to keep up with the 45th president and the policy changes wrought by his administration.
Here’s a look back at the Top 10 media stories of the year …

3 December
A reminder of how good TV journalism can be.
50 years of 60 Minutes
Steve Kroft, Scott Pelley, Lesley Stahl, Bill Whitaker and more look back at 50 seasons of 60 Minutes

29 November
There would be no bitcoin bubble without the news media
(Quartz) Which came first—the news media or the frenzied financial bubble? In his book on speculative manias, Irrational Exuberance, Yale economics professor Robert Shiller argues that the first “bubble of any consequence” occurred at about the same time as the advent of newspapers. Bitcoin, the latest financial fascination, also owes some of its soaring rally to $10,000 to the media’s appetite for a good story.

28 November
Donald Trump’s Attacks on the Media Are Having Global Consequences
Powerful people responsible for terrible things can hide behind the president’s tweets.
(GQ) Most of the coverage of Donald Trump’s perpetual war with the media focuses on how that process is dangerous to American democracy: It erodes public trust in the independent press that is designed to function as a check on those in power, regardless of party affiliation. But while fighting back against negative stories by dismissing the outlet as “fake” might be an effective political strategy, he fails to realize that his words have consequences that reach far beyond his Twitter beef du jour. He thought he was attacking a media outlet he doesn’t like. Now, those same words are providing a defense for people who have been exposed for promoting slave labor. Donald Trump probably didn’t anticipate this result, and he certainly didn’t intend it. But it’s happening anyway.
CNN stars Blitzer, Cooper, Amanpour and others fire back at Trump in day of rage
What may come across as a joke in the United States could be life-threatening to reporters in the field
(WaPo) Trump’s most recent attack on CNN seems to have especially aggravated the network, prompting what appeared to be an organized response from some of its most prominent journalists, including Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, Christiane Amanpour and Brooke Baldwin.
It was the first tweet, the apparent assault on the work of CNN International correspondents abroad, that marked a breaking point for many CNN journalists. To them, Trump’s words undermined and threatened the work of colleagues in the field risking their lives amid war zones, natural disasters and other dangerous environments to report the truth. …  senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward spoke of the threats presented by Trump’s tweet. Beyond being “disheartening,” Trump’s assault “emboldens” people in foreign countries who may already show hostility toward Western journalists, Ward said.

How James O’Keefe Made Himself Irrelevant
Once a right-wing media darling, O’Keefe laid bare the flaws in his approach with a botched sting of The Washington Post.
(The Atlantic) O’Keefe’s modus operandi has increasingly shown its flaws. The Washington Post incident is just his most recent own-goal. Last year, Project Veritas accidentally left a voicemail for a George Soros group it was trying to sting, laying out its whole plan; there was the 2010 blunder when O’Keefe plotted to embarrass CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau by mock-seducing her on a boat equipped with sex toys; and there was O’Keefe and his colleagues’ arrest in New Orleans in 2010 during an attempted sting of Senator Mary Landrieu.

27 November
A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation.
A woman who falsely claimed to The Washington Post that Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, impregnated her as a teenager appears to work with an organization that uses deceptive tactics to secretly record conversations in an effort to embarrass its targets. … on Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media and left-leaning groups. The organization sets up undercover “stings” that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias.

26 November
Time Inc. Sells Itself to Meredith Corp., Backed by Koch Brothers
(NYT) as Meredith has stood relatively strong, Time Inc. has stumbled. The company failed to keep pace as the industrywide transformation from print to digital rendered old methods of magazine-making obsolete and publishing companies crumbled under the pressure of declines in print advertising and circulation.
For Meredith, a hardy company with a loyal print readership, the acquisition of Time Inc. represents a long-elusive victory.
Charles Koch, the chief executive of Koch Industries, and David Koch have long sought to shape political discourse through their support of nonprofit organizations, universities and think tanks. But in its announcement of the deal, Meredith said that the private equity fund, Koch Equity Development, would not have a seat on Meredith’s board of directors and would “have no influence on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations.”

25 November
Inside Donald Trump’s obsession with being Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
(CNN) On Friday night, Donald Trump proclaimed that he would probably be Time’s “Person of the Year” for 2017 — except that he didn’t really want the honor
That statement wasn’t, strictly speaking, true.
“The President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year,” a Time spokeswoman said in a statement. “Time does not comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6 “Amazing,” tweeted Time’s chief content officer, Alan Murray. “Not a speck of truth here — Trump tweets he ‘took a pass’ at being named TIME’s person of the year.”

17 November
The Kochs Are Inching Closer to Becoming Media Moguls
(NYT) Four years ago, Charles G. and David H. Koch seemed poised to control some of the country’s biggest newspapers. Known for using their vast wealth and network of donors to advance their brand of libertarian-infused conservatism, the titans of Koch Industries explored buying the Tribune Company’s eight newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune.

11 October
Who’s winning Trump’s war with media?
(The Hill) Trump has used attacks on the media to fire up his base since his campaign began. There are few more reliable applause lines at his rallies than his attacks on the “fake news media.”
Yet at the same time, news organizations have reaped journalistic and commercial rewards from a White House that is unparalleled in its drama and volatility.
Media outlets across the board have seen their audiences grow, often in ways that seem correlated with their willingness to confront Trump.
“It is a matter of record that, for a number of media outlets, there is this thing called the ‘Trump bump’ that has helped with circulation and paid subscriptions and traffic,” said Rick Edmonds, who covers the media business for the Poynter Institute.
MSNBC, the most liberal of the three cable news networks, has been enjoying its best-ever ratings during the Trump presidency. The New York Times, far from “failing” as Trump often insists in his tweets, has seen subscriptions surge.

17 September
Rolling Stone, Once a Counterculture Bible, Will Be Put Up for Sale
(NYT) Still, the potential sale of Rolling Stone — on the eve of its 50th anniversary, no less — underscores how inhospitable the media landscape has become as print advertising and circulation have dried up.
The Wenners’ decision is also another clear sign that the days of celebrity editors are coming to a close. Earlier this month, Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair and a socialite and star in his own right, announced he planned to leave the magazine after 25 years. Robbie Myers, the longtime editor of Elle, Nancy Gibbs of Time magazine and Cindi Leive of Glamour also said last week that they were stepping down.
Rolling Stone filled its pages with pieces than ran in the thousands of words by standard bearers of the counterculture, including Hunter S. Thompson — whose “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” was published in the magazine in two parts — and Tom Wolfe. It started the career of the celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, who for many years delivered electrifying cover images.
A bastion of liberal ideology, the magazine became a required stop for Democratic presidential candidates — Mr. Wenner has personally interviewed several, including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — and it has pulled no punches in its appraisal of Republicans. In 2006, Rolling Stone suggested George W. Bush was the “worst president in history.” More recently, the magazine featured Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, on its cover with the headline, “Why Can’t He Be Our President?”

21 August
Ross Levinsohn named new publisher and CEO of Los Angeles Times as top editors ousted
In a dramatic shakeup at the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago-based parent company has installed new leadership and plans to invest more resources in the news organization to move it more quickly into the digital age. Ross Levinsohn, 54, a veteran media executive who worked at Fox and served as interim chief of Yahoo, was named publisher and chief executive of the 135-year-old news organization.  Jim Kirk, 52, a veteran Chicago news executive, who was publisher and editor of the Chicago Sun-Times until last week, was named interim editor of the storied newspaper. The two men replace Davan Maharaj, who has served as both editor and publisher since March 2016. Maharaj was terminated Monday morning, along with a handful of other senior editors.

1 August
Adrienne Arsenault, Rosemary Barton, Andrew Chang, Ian Hanomansing to host The National
Multiple anchors — based in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver — will continue to report from field
Four CBC journalists will share anchor duties as the network revamps The National to offer an expanded digital focus along with more insight and analysis on the day’s news, the public broadcaster announced today.
Senior correspondent Adrienne Arsenault, Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton, Vancouver local news host Andrew Chang and News Network anchor Ian Hanomansing were named hosts for the program that will debut in November.
Arsenault and Hanomansing will host from Toronto, Barton will be in Ottawa and Chang will continue to be based in Vancouver. This allows for news to be updated across time zones as it develops and it gets later in Eastern Canada.

30 July
Is The New York Times vs. The Washington Post vs. Trump the Last Great Newspaper War?
(Vanity Fair Magazine) Breaking story after story, two great American newspapers, The New York Times and The Washington Post, are resurgent, with record readerships. One has greater global reach and fifth-generation family ownership; the other has Jeff Bezos as its deep-pocketed proprietor and a technological advantage. Both, however, still face an existential foe.

28 July
The Atlantic’s Majority Owner-to-Be: David Bradley will soon be splitting his ownership stake in The Atlantic with Laurene Powell Jobs, the philanthropist and investor. As reported this morning, Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective will shortly acquire majority ownership, and will probably be a full owner of the enterprise within the next five years. “Against the odds, The Atlantic is prospering,” Bradley said in his note to the Atlantic staff. “Who next will take stewardship of this 160-year-old national treasure? To me, the answer, in the form of Laurene, feels incomparably right.”

2 July
Al-Jazeera, insurgent TV station that divides the Arab world, faces closure
The network has raised political awareness across the Middle East. No wonder Qatar’s conservative enemies want it shut down
(The Guardian) On Monday a bold and controversial experiment in Middle Eastern media and politics may be abruptly brought to an end. Al-Jazeera – once heralded as the beacon of free Arab media that broke the hegemony of the western networks and reversed the flow of information from east to west for the first time since the middle ages – faces closing its doors for good.
Whatever happens, it is a credit to al-Jazeera that, 21 years after its launch, it is still so disruptive and challenging to those in power. Few other media outlets can claim to be so influential. But al-Jazeera is not like other broadcasters. It is a unique phenomenon which, since it started broadcasting in 1996, has revolutionised the Arab media, and in 2010 played a major role in bringing about a real political revolution across much of the Arab world.
Before al-Jazeera started broadcasting, Arab television news was totalitarian drivel. The news chiefly focused on what the sheikh, emir or president was doing that day, some news about his heir, and a puff piece about how lucky the nation was to have such heroic father figures. Al-Jazeera blew all this away, allowing all kinds of previously banned voices to be heard, from the Israelis and Muammar Gaddafi to Chechen rebels, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

29 June
(Quartz) Fox gets go-ahead to take over Sky—or not. The British government is expected to announce whether Rupert Murdoch’s £11.7 billion ($15.2 billion) bid for the 61% of Sky he doesn’t already own has received regulatory approval. Opponents of Sky’s takeover by 21st Century Fox say it will give Murdoch too much power—he would control both companies, as well as The Sun and The Times newspapers.

24 June

As he prepares to sign off air, Peter Mansbridge says ‘significant change is coming’ to The National
As he prepares for his final broadcast hosting The National on Canada Day, the anchor, and CBC Television’s flagship newscast, face a great unknown.
By Vinay Menon
(Toronto Star) Next Saturday, as the nation uncrates the fireworks and flags and birthday hats to celebrate Canada 150, Mansbridge will do what he’s done 34 times already. He will preside over Canada Day festivities from Parliament Hill.
At the end, he will gaze into the camera and then, for the last time, he will swallow hard and say, “I’m Peter Mansbridge. Thanks for watching.”
Now in his 50th year of CBC service — or, astoundingly, one third of Canada’s existence — the live telecast will serve as his swan song. While he’s looking forward to his next act, which we’ll get to in a bit, he also winces when reflecting on the friends and colleagues he is leaving behind.

22 June
A nostalgic final At Issue for Peter Mansbridge is entertaining and also a reminder of how much has changed since the show’s beginnings. It would have been even better if the earlier ‘regulars’ had been brought back.

16 May
Jonathan Kay: Why I quit The Walrus for an exciting new future of reckless commentary at Taco Barn
(National Post) Putting all jokes and light-hearted tone to one side, this stress began to seriously undermine the most important relationships in my life. It was only when I read a lengthy profile of me by Justin Dallaire in the Ryerson Review of Journalism that I realized how insanely stressful my life had become. It was like someone had put a mirror up to me. And its publication was what first got me thinking of making a big change in my life.
One of the worst parts of my job as an EIC was that it left me with fewer opportunities to indulge my passion for writing — which is what got me into this business in the first place. A writer who becomes an EIC is a lot like a teacher who becomes a school principal: the money’s better, and people suck up to you. You have a big office, get dressed up, receive awards. But instead of doing what you love, you’re managing other people doing what they love.
And when I did write — whether on social media, on, in the National Post, or even in my books — I was always tempted to self-censor, because those magic words “editor-in-chief” after my name would cause people to think that I was somehow channelling the viewpoint of my whole organization.
Hal Niedzviecki on the cultural appropriation controversy that led to resignation
Hal Niedzviecki resigned as editor of the Writers’ Union of Canada magazine last Wednesday after complaints about an opinion piece in which he wrote that he doesn’t believe in cultural appropriation.
Niedzviecki has since apologized, saying he “failed to acknowledge the profound and lasting adverse impact of cultural appropriation on Indigenous peoples.” The Writers’ Union of Canada also apologized for the piece and pledged to review the magazine’s policies.

12 May
Jonathan Kay: Cultural appropriation should be debated. Too bad Canada’s Writers Union instead chose to debase itself
(National Post) As anyone with a Twitter account will know, self-flagellating TWUC officials are begging forgiveness for the opinions advanced by Write’s former editor, Hal Niedzviecki, who wrote that “I don’t believe in cultural appropriation… In my opinion, anyone, anywhere, should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities.” In the current environment, this statement is controversial enough. But Niedzviecki put himself on especially thin ice by advancing this argument in a special issue of Write devoted to Indigenous writing. Moreover, he (recklessly, in my view) added a Swiftian flourish in support of an “Appropriation Prize for best book by an author who writes about people who aren’t even remotely like her or him.” It was a joke, but not one that his critics were of a mind to appreciate.
Niedzviecki resigned—apparently on his own initiative. If I had to speculate, I’d say this outcome was his intention all along. The piece had the air of someone exasperated with the political correctness, tokenism and hypersensitivity that now pervade academia and cultural organizations. …
There’s a debate to be had about cultural appropriation: What takes priority—the right of artists to extend their imagination to the entire human experience, or the right of historically marginalized communities to protect themselves from possible misrepresentation. Personally, I land on the side of free speech: I’m fearful that, as at many points in history, small acts of well-intentioned censorship will expand into a full-fledged speech code that prohibits whole categories of art and discourse. But I appreciate why others take the opposite view, especially after I’ve read the critiques of my own views on Twitter.
What I don’t find helpful is the reflexive instinct to shame those with whom we disagree—the kind on display at TWUC this week. Indeed, it is these mobbings that encourage the idea that free speech is under siege from a systematic program of left wing censorship. On both sides, it is fear and suspicion that is driving the social media rage. And as of this writing, there’s no sign it will dissipate soon.

3 May
World Press Freedom Day to highlight the contribution of journalism to sustainable development
Critical Minds for Critical Times: The media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies is the theme of UNESCO’s main celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, 3 May. The event will take place in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 1 to 4 May.
The programme of the four-day conference has been designed to raise awareness of the importance of free and fact-based journalism in promoting peace and justice, and supporting the efficiency, accountability and inclusiveness of institutions, in line with the 16th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (link is external). The event is organized with the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesian Press Council.

25 April
The right-wing site Breitbart News was denied permanent congressional press credentials today after it failed to demonstrate its independence from the Trump administration and from lobbying groups. But meanwhile, the political press tends to favor the rich and famous even when it’s trying to guard against ideological bias. So, how to ensure a truly unbiased media environment? Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has a plan for a new journalism site that will be fact-checked and edited by a community of volunteers—but the idea has some underlying ethical and logistical problems.

22 April
In House of Murdoch, Sons Set About an Elaborate Overhaul
Since taking over two years ago, James and Lachlan Murdoch seem determined to rid the company of the old-guard culture on which their father built his empire.
(NYT) As James and Lachlan move to modernize their company, several questions have emerged. The biggest: Can you truly change the culture without losing what made it so successful? It was Rupert’s band-of-pirates mentality that willed the Fox broadcast network into existence, and turned Fox News into a source of astounding profit and political muscle.
The conglomerate, like its competitors, is facing an extremely uncertain future. Consumers are canceling or forgoing cable hookups and instead subscribing to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, which 21st Century Fox co-owns. The movie business continues to grapple with piracy, rising costs and flat domestic attendance. Fox also has special problems: With competitors getting bigger — AT&T’s $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner being Exhibit A — where does that leave the Murdochs?

11 April
New center to combat disinformation to be built in Finland
(WaPost) Lorenz Meyer-Minneman, head of NATO’s civil preparedness unit, said the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats will serve as a platform for EU and NATO to pool resources and share expertise. Over recent years, campaigns to discredit, misinform and spread fake news have become an increasing problem for policymakers in Europe and the United States.
“Countering hybrid threats is a European priority,” Soini said, adding, without elaborating, that Finland itself has become a target for “hybrid influencing” through constant disinformation campaigns and “malicious activities in the cyber domain.”

7 April
Details of 12 recommendations from ‘Shattered Mirror’ report on Canada’s media
A report from the Public Policy Forum, authored by veteran journalist Ed Greenspon, is urging dramatic changes to help support the Canadian news industry as it struggles with sharp declines in revenues.
A detailed look at the report’s 12 recommendations:
12. Encourage a digital-age approach to public broadcasting.
— The CBC should move to a system of publishing its news content under a Creative Commons licence, marking the next logical step of a public-service news supplier in the digital age. Such an open-source approach would go a long way toward moving the organization from a self-contained, public-broadcasting competitor to a universal public provider of quality journalism. It would strengthen the media ecosystem overall, anchoring it in greater integrity and maximizing the reach of CBC journalism. In already posting its journalism on Facebook and Google-owned YouTube, CBC has implicitly accepted the principle that production and distribution can be separated. The transition to a Creative Commons licence would have to be carefully mapped out to minimize unintended damage to other organizations that provide civic-function news, such as Canadian Press. It would be best to start by making CBC news available to non-profits. The move to a Creative Commons approach furnishes a powerful use of policy that would, as Thomas Jefferson said, “contrive” to make the same body of high-quality information available to the whole public to help them in their democratic decisions.
(PPF) The Shattered Mirror: News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age is an exhaustive study produced by the Public Policy Forum that examines the decline of the traditional media’s business model, under-development of digital-only news providers, consolidation of digital distribution revenues, the rise of fake news, and how these major shifts are affecting the health of Canadian democracy. (Links to full report .pdf) 02/02/2017

7 April
Paul Adams: What happens when Postmedia finally dies?
The chain’s strategy is futile. Here’s what might follow.
(iPolitics) It is time to start imagining what local news will look like in a post-Postmedia world. And it is time to recognize that the federal government will be dragged into this next media crisis — whether it likes it or not.
On Thursday, Postmedia announced its second-quarter results and revealed that yet another round of cuts is coming. The company’s strategy appears to be to pay its debtholders and give its executives large retention bonuses that still somehow don’t get all the recipients to stay. To accomplish this important work, it will further degrade the editorial content of newspapers from which subscribers and advertisers are already fleeing.
It can’t work.
Don’t take my word for it. This is what Conrad Black, the founder of what is now Postmedia, tweeted out the other day:
It’s too late, the bond holders control the company and are content to bleed it dry with the complicity of management. Bankruptcy is next.
Postmedia, which now includes the Sun chain, currently runs the only major English language dailies in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, London, Windsor, Ottawa and Montreal. It has two of Toronto’s four major newspapers.
As a thought experiment, I’ve tried to consider what would happen to local news where I live in Ottawa, if Postmedia kicked the knees out from under the Citizen and Sun.
The best-case scenario, it seems to me, is that the receivers would sell off the chain’s titles for parts, and that someone, maybe a local entrepreneur with a civic conscience, might pick up the Citizen with the goal of converting it eventually to an all-digital publication.
…  the CBC cannot be the only solution to the coming civic crisis of knowledge and accountability. Even the most fervent CBC supporters, of which I am one, cannot be comfortable with the public broadcaster becoming the sole source of news on local public affairs.
Nor can the CBC ever, as a national broadcaster, become a truly local voice as the Postmedia papers were before the chain started stripping them of their autonomy and resources.
A few weeks ago, the Public Policy Forum released a report called Shattered Mirror on the state of the news industry. It reads like a blueprint of options for the federal government the day after Postmedia goes down.
One of its most imaginative ideas is to create a publicly-funded but arms-length initiative that would have Canadian Press add 60 to 80 journalists to cover legislatures and city halls and make their journalism available for free to any outlets interested in using it.
It’s time to take these ideas seriously — because English Canada’s local news system is about to crash.

1 April
Elizabeth Renzetti: When local news outlets shutter due to cuts, we all lose
(Globe & Mail) Local journalism, whether it’s at a city paper or a weekly, a radio or TV station, keeps its community entertained and informed. The National isn’t going to send a camera crew to cover the profoundly annoying pothole on Main Street, or the feud between the dress-shop owners, or the cozy relationship between the mayor and the developers. The Globe and Mail is not likely to, either: This is where the country’s 1,060 community papers come in – or where they used to. According to a recent report, those papers lost $400-million, or one-third of their revenue, between 2012 and 2015. The Public Policy Forum’s recent report on media in Canada, called The Shattered Mirror, contains an even more alarming statistic: “Since 2010, there have been 225 weekly and 27 daily newspapers lost to closure or merger in more than 200 federal ridings.” Local television coverage has contracted as well.

30 March
Matt Gurney: How Good Editing Could Have Saved Andrew Potter’s Career
As the media industry pushes for more content with less oversight, editors have become an endangered species
Maclean’s editorial: What the Andrew Potter affair was really about
Maclean’s continues to believe in the vital importance of a free and open exchange of ideas and opinions—even if McGill University does not. Self-serving comes to mind.

1 March
How to cover a hostile president
By Nic Dawes, former editor in chief of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian and until recently Chief Content Officer at India’s Hindustan Times. He now heads media at Human Rights Watch in New York.
This is a time of testing for American journalism—will it rise to the occasion? Today’s media environment faces dangers as threatening as our physical environment faces from climate change. Journalism’s operating model has been under siege for more than a decade; now it confronts an existential risk as an authoritarian populist attacks democratic norms once taken for granted.
(Columbia Journalism Review) To deal with the onslaught it now faces, the press needs to get organized to accomplish things more difficult than an annual dinner. Organizing implies taking a stance, if only in defense of the precedents and practices that secure the press’s role in a constitutional democracy. This will call forth more accusations of partisanship, which is why it will be important to show that this stand is not a partisan one, but rather an affirmation of bedrock values. The press should champion a politics of independence, accountability, ethical standards, and legal rights; this is the basis on which it can fight to defend its role in a democratic society and to fulfill its duty to the people and founding ideals of the United States. The editors of America’s grandest news institutions are now beginning to speak out clearly on Trump’s tactics. We will know that something deep has shifted when they begin to act together in defense of the information infrastructure of democracy.
The press will also need friends to help in its defense. A coalition of news organizations should articulate common principles and assemble the staff and funds to pay for litigation and outreach to fellow pillars of civil society: good-government groups and press-freedom NGOs; business organizations that recognize the value of independent journalism; religious and ethical leaders; and, not least, the legion of unofficial press critics. There must also be a more robust discussion of the effects of corporate consolidation on independent journalism and the ability to serve diverse publics. To regain trust, news organizations must not only produce first-rate work; they must show that they understand why so many people lost faith in them and take concrete steps to make amends.
Neither a reinvigorated journalism nor a movement for press freedom will be enough on its own, but together they’re a baseline for survival.

27 February
Charles Ferguson: Forget Trump’s tweets and media bans. The real issue is his threat to the internet
Deregulation could allow the president to undermine freedom of speech in a way that was beyond even Nixon
(The Guardian) Donald Trump lost no time installing Ajit Pai as the new chairman of the FCC, which regulates broadcast and internet media. Pai has stated that he opposes net neutrality, the principle whereby service providers and regulators treat all data the same. …  Pai has reversed a recent FCC decision that would have opened the provision of cable set-top boxes to competition. The move allows cable companies to retain control of not only set-top boxes, but also the software and programming content passing through them. This of course runs counter to Trump’s avowed principle of helping the little guy, etc – but that is no longer a surprise. Pai also blocked a programme designed to provide internet access to rural and low-income households.
… The FCC holds sway over all telecommunications. As the newspaper and magazine industries convert to digital formats, they become dependent on services subject to FCC regulation. Given Trump’s personality, track record and various statements, it does not seem insane to worry that he might try to use the FCC to exert political pressure on the news media.
… The large internet providers are now acquiring the media properties for which, increasingly, their services are essential. Amazon has bought the Washington Post. Verizon is buying Yahoo and has already purchased AOL, the owner of the Huffington Post. AT&T is buying Time Warner, which owns CNN and HBO among other channels. A large portion of the news media will soon be owned by enormous companies with very strong special interests of their own.

25 February
Donald Trump will not attend White House correspondents’ dinner
Donald Trump on Saturday capped a week of tumultuous relations with the press by saying he will not attend this year’s White House correspondents’ dinner, which is scheduled for 29 April.
The difficult relationship between Trump – whose senior adviser Steve Bannon … has repeatedly called the press “the opposition party” – and the media has already contributed to a number of withdrawals from the correspondents’ dinner and related events. This week Bloomberg followed Vanity Fair and the New Yorker in saying it would not host a party tied to the dinner. The New York Times has not attended the event since 2008; the Guardian will not attend this year. This week, Buzzfeed reported that another favourite target of Trump’s, CNN, was considering pulling out as well.
24 February
Brietbart CEO reveals that Trump donors are part owners
(The Hill) Breitbart News CEO Larry Solov confirmed Friday that the Mercer family – GOP mega-donors and key backers of President Trump’s campaign – are part owners of the right-wing news site, according to multiple reports.
The controversial conservative site is in the process of applying for congressional press credentials through the Standing Committee of Correspondents, the group that acts as a gatekeeper for the Capitol Hill press.
Solov appeared in front of the committee on Friday, where he revealed that the outlet is owned by himself, the Mercer family, and Susie Breitbart, the widow of the website’s founder Andrew Breitbart
(The Atlantic) The Press and the President: Continuing Trump’s uneasy relationship with the mainstream media, the White House blocked several news organizations from a press briefing today—apparently in retaliation for coverage it deems unfriendly (though the deputy communications director denied that it happened). In addition, the White House admitted it had asked the FBI to dispute reports that Trump’s aides were in touch with Russian intelligence during his campaign. The FBI reportedly refused—but here’s why that request crosses a line.
While War on Media Escalates, CBS Chief Praises Trump’s Deregulatory Agenda
(The Intercept) While the Washington press corps is expressing ever-greater alarm over President Donald Trump’s mounting attacks on journalists — culminating in Friday’s banning of some leading outlets from a White House press briefing — the media executives who sign their paychecks are praising the new administration for a deregulatory agenda that would likely boost company profits.
Les Moonves, the chief executive and chairman of CBS Corporation, told investors recently that he is “looking forward to not having as much regulation and having the ability to do more.”
Moonves specifically celebrated the appointment of Trump’s new FCC chairman, former Verizon attorney Ajit Pai, calling him “very beneficial to our business.”
White House Bars Times and Other News Outlets From Briefing
(NYT) Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer only allowed in reporters from a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed.
Those organizations included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended.
“The W.H.C.A. board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House,” the association president, Jeff Mason, said in a statement. “We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not. The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”
Fact Check: Trump Blasts ‘Fake News’ and Repeats Inaccurate Claims at CPAC
Trump Fumes About Anonymous Sources After Anonymous Briefing
(Bloomberg) President Donald Trump assailed the news media’s use of unnamed sources on Friday, just hours after White House aides briefed reporters on condition of anonymity about their efforts to debunk a New York Times article on contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.
23 February
Donald Trump’s absurd war on truth is forcing the media to act like real journalists again
It’s time for the press to rethink its game plan. Clearly, the current access model is broken. Americans’ trust in the news media appears to be at an all-time low. The Trump administration’s approach puts journalists on the defensive, but it should give them license to experiment for a change—to shake off old routines and bad habits.
(Quartz) Journalists have long relied on key actors in high places to act as sources for their news reports. There’s a mutual motivation involved: Journalists need inside information, and sources want their views to find as broad an audience as possible. Innocuous in theory, in practice this routine can be complicated, and even corrupting. With competition for views fiercer than ever, the news media, especially TV media, is under a lot of pressure to deliver audiences for advertisers. At the same time, insider “access” tempts journalists to compromise their autonomy, allowing sources too much leeway in framing events—or simply in giving “free airtime” to sources who may be offering dubious information but strong ratings.
21 February
Trust in the media is sinking and it’s time to act: Neil Macdonald
When anyone can be a journalist, anything can be labelled news. That’s a problem
(CBC) Journalism is losing the support of rational, intelligent, thoughtful consumers, and that is a serious threat.
Recapturing it probably means a little less snark (millennials, especially, seem to loathe snark and smug, of which I am a foremost practitioner), less blatant clickbait (in some ways, news websites are becoming a collection of bad listicles), more policy and less politics, and less pusillanimous surrender to ratings, something that helped create Trump … nothing would go further in recapturing public trust than becoming a true profession, with standards, qualifications, accountability and enforceable rules. As much as I shudder at being judged by other journalists, there is no longer any other way.
See Also Andrew MacDougall: Trump won’t change, so the media must instead
The media would do well to re-commit to the basic tenets of journalism. Is the reporting in the public’s interest? Or is it another inside baseball nugget (e.g.staffer beefing with another staffer)? Is the reporting sourced as robustly as possible? Or is it an anonymous, easy-to-discredit-as-fake-news grunt with a grudge? And, lastly: dig baby dig. This government is already leaking like a sieve; get out of the White House briefing room and man a shovel
18 February
Don’t Dismiss President Trump’s Attacks on the Media as Mere Stupidity
Bret Stephens delivered the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture this week at the University of California, Los Angeles.
(TIME) Some of you may have noticed that we’re living through a period in which the executive branch of government is engaged in a systematic effort to create a climate of opinion against the news business.
The President routinely describes reporting he dislikes as FAKE NEWS. The Administration calls the press “the opposition party,” ridicules news organizations it doesn’t like as business failures, and calls for journalists to be fired. Mr. Trump has called for rewriting libel laws in order to more easily sue the press.
Ideologically, the president is trying to depose so-called mainstream media in favor of the media he likes — Breitbart News and the rest. Another way of making this point is to say that he’s trying to substitute news for propaganda, information for boosterism. …
I think it’s important not to dismiss the president’s reply simply as dumb. We ought to assume that it’s darkly brilliant — if not in intention than certainly in effect. The president is responding to a claim of fact not by denying the fact, but by denying the claim that facts are supposed to have on an argument.
He isn’t telling O’Reilly that he’s got his facts wrong. He’s saying that, as far as he is concerned, facts, as most people understand the term, don’t matter: That they are indistinguishable from, and interchangeable with, opinion; and that statements of fact needn’t have any purchase against a man who is either sufficiently powerful to ignore them or sufficiently shameless to deny them — or, in his case, both.
17 February
With ‘Fake News,’ Trump Moves From Alternative Facts To Alternative Language
(NPR) Friday night, President Trump took to Twitter to deliver one of his favorite insults to journalists: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” he wrote.
Anyone who has followed the news knows this isn’t what “fake news” meant just a few months ago. Back then, it meant lies posing as news, made up by people from Macedonian teenagers to a dad in the Los Angeles suburbs.
Now, Trump casts all unfavorable news coverage as fake news. In one tweet, he even went so far as to say that “any negative polls are fake news.” And many of his supporters have picked up and run with his new definition.
The ability to reshape language — even a little — is an awesome power to have. According to language experts on both sides of the aisle, the rebranding of fake news could be a genuine threat to democracy.
16 February
How You Saw Trump’s Press Conference Depends on How You Watched
(Wired) The Timeses and CNNs of the world don’t have anywhere near as explicit a political agenda as the Breitbarts and Drudges. They’re not two sides. That’s what was on display in the aftermath of the press conference. They didn’t even cover the same things. They told different stories.
So which is it? Trump’s press conference was undignified, unpresidential, and weirdly directed at the media instead of the country he leads. But his supporters saw a display of power by a president sloughing off the manacles of coastal elitism. Thanks to the accelerated hyper-partisanship of a social media-powered news cycle, the country is now seeing double.
13 February
Stars and journalists lose appetite for correspondents’ dinner under Trump
The annual event is a chance for politicians and the media to share an evening of good-natured roasting – but this year goodwill is in short supply on both sides
(The Guardian) Over the years, the dinner has spawned a number of receptions and after-parties. Some of those are now being cancelled or losing co-hosts. Vanity Fair, for example, has pulled out of co-hosting a prestigious after-party, leaving Bloomberg to go it alone. The New Yorker has cancelled its curtain-raiser. It is reportedly unclear if MSNBC will hold its own traditional after-party, while ABC and Yahoo, which have previously co-hosted a pre-dinner reception, have not confirmed if they will do so this year.
CBS News and the Atlantic Monthly are still holding a pre-dinner reception…. CNN, a favourite target for Trump, is expected to hold a Sunday brunch after the dinner and keep up a significant presence at the dinner itself.
10 February
Despite the mockery Spicer has inspired for his briefings, these innovations are not altogether bad.
All Joking Aside, Here’s How Sean Spicer Is Shaking Up the White House Press Briefing
(NYT) Less than a month into the Trump administration, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, has upended some of the longstanding traditions surrounding the nearly daily press conference with Washington reporters.
Conflict Over Trump Forces Out an Opinion Editor at The Wall Street Journal
The departure follows weeks of reports of tension on the paper’s news side about how to cover Trump.
(The Atlantic) News of the departure of Mark Lasswell, who edited op-eds for the Journal, comes as the paper’s internal tensions over Trump have begun to spill into public view. The reliably hawkish, pro-trade, small government conservative Journal op-ed page has been challenged by the rise of the populist, nationalist Trump movement. The Journal’s opinion pages have been a showcase for the intra-right divide over Trump, featuring Trump-sympathetic writers like Bill McGurn alongside anti-Trump columnists such as Bret Stephens. Lasswell appears to be a casualty of that divide, and his dismissal a victory for the pro-Trump faction on the editorial staff.
The tensions at the Journal are not limited to the editorial page. Recent stories in Politico and BuzzFeed News have detailed how rank-and-file staffers on the news side of the Journal have taken issue with what they have seen as editor-in-chief Gerry Baker’s apologism for Trump. There has been a shift, also, at the highest levels of the organization, as the paper’s owner Rupert Murdoch went from Trump skeptic to ally over the course of the election. (emphasis added)
24 January
We broke the Panama Papers story. Here’s how to investigate Donald Trump
We were successful because we collaborated with other journalists. Now it is time for the media to join forces once again – especially given the threat Trump poses
By and
(The Guardian) The first White House press briefing, held on Saturday, featured bullying, threats and unproven claims. That is why a new level of solidarity and cooperation is needed among the fourth estate. American journalists should stop him from dividing their ranks – however hard their professional competition may be. They should do the opposite: unite, share and collaborate. Even if doing so would mean embracing something quite unfamiliar and new to American journalism.
The Panama Papers has showed that a formerly unthinkable project of collaboration can work. When we shared the data of the papers with a team of 400 reporters worldwide, we brought together a vast number of investigative reporters who typically compete which each other.
Of course, American media can’t approach this the way we did for the Panama Papers, when the Washington DC-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) coordinated the work of 107 news outlets around the world.
The highest level of collaboration – which is what these times require – would be special joint projects. A possible first project could be to look into his international business ties, and those of his billionaire cabinet, to find all of their conflicts of interest. Collaboration could even mean working with foreign news outlets in different countries, whose reporters certainly might have more knowledge of Trump’s respective business partners than a US-based journalist.
He threatened his Democratic opponent with jail, he is making promises no one can fulfill, he is mixing family and government, he is mixing business and government, he is obstructing control and he is fighting the freedom of press.
This government has decided to go down a new and hostile path. Now, it is time for us to change path, too. That’s not only just fair – it is absolutely necessary.
22 January
Kellyanne Conway: Trump Spokesman Didn’t Lie, He Gave “Alternative Facts”
(Slate) Turns out that President Donald Trump’s administration doesn’t lie, it just has different versions of the truth. Kellyanne Conway, the omnipresent senior aide to the president, said Sunday that the White House press secretary wasn’t lying when he lied about crowd numbers at the inauguration, he was merely presenting “alternative facts.” Even though Sean Spicer said something that was evidently false by claiming Trump enjoyed “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration—period,” that is not a lie.
Sean Spicer: brash brawler in frontline of Trump’s ‘war with the media’ – period
( The Guardian) The White House press secretary used his first briefing to berate the ‘shameful’ press but may find it hard to represent a master who communicates via Twitter
Opinion: Spicer is a Groucho Marxist, asking us not to believe our eyes
21 January
Trump’s real war isn’t with the media. It’s with facts.
Trump needs to delegitimize the media because he needs to delegitimize facts.
(Vox) … there’s a strategy at work here. The Trump administration is creating a baseline expectation among its loyalists that they can’t trust anything said by the media. The spat over crowd size is a low-stakes, semi-comic dispute, but the groundwork is being laid for much more consequential debates over what is, and isn’t, true.
18 January
From Headline to Photograph, a Fake News Masterpiece
(NYT) Cameron Harris, a new college graduate with a fervent interest in Maryland Republican politics and a need for cash, sat down at the kitchen table in his apartment to fill in the details Mr. Trump had left out. In a dubious art just coming into its prime, this bogus story would be his masterpiece.
Mr. Harris started by crafting the headline: “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.” It made sense, he figured, to locate this shocking discovery in the very city and state where Mr. Trump had highlighted his “rigged” meme.
10 Times Trump Spread Fake News
“I don’t know what they made up; all I can do is play what’s there,” Mr. Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “All I know is what’s on the internet.”

reputable-media10 Investigative Reporting Outlets to Follow
Here are some new organizations, as well as a few established ones, that are working to uncover the truth
1. ProPublica — Founded 10 years ago by a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, ProPublica is a nonprofit investigative news site based in New York City. In 2010 ProPublica was the first online publication to win a Pulitzer Prize and has earned two more since, as well as a long list of other prestigious awards
2. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) — An early player in the nonprofit investigative space, CPI has been around for close to 30 years. Its reporters have won dozens of journalism awards, including a Pulitzer in 2014, for its investigations of money in politics, national security, health care reform, business and the environment.
3. The Center For Investigative Reporting (CIR) — Founded 40 years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area, CIR is a nonprofit that has partnered for years with other outlets to reach a wide audience in print, on television, on radio and online. It collaborates with PRX Radio to produce Reveal, the investigative radio program and podcast. The Reveal website is now home to all of CIRs investigative content.
4. Frontline — Launched more than 30 years ago, Frontline is television’s most consistent and respected investigative documentary program. Its documentaries are broadcast on PBS and are available online, along with original reporting.
5. Mother JonesMother Jones, founded in 1976, is a reader-supported, nonprofit news organization headquartered in San Francisco with bureaus in Washington, DC and New York City. The site includes investigative reporting as well as general reporting on topics including politics, climate change and education.
6. The InterceptThe Intercept is a news organization launched in 2014 by legal and political journalist Glenn Greenwald, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras.
7. Real Clear InvestigationsReal Clear Investigations, which launched last fall, is the new nonprofit, investigative arm of Real Clear Politics. It is mostly an aggregator of investigative reporting, but has also begun conducting original investigations.
8. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)ICIJ is a nonprofit offshoot of the Center for Public Integrity that began 20 years ago. It is a global network of more than 190 investigative journalists in more than 65 countries who work together to investigate cross-border issues including crime, corruption and abuse of power.
9. Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE)IRE is a grass-roots, nonprofit, membership organization that has been providing tips, training and conferences for investigative reporters since 1975. Its blog, Extra! Extra! showcases a wide variety of watchdog journalism.
10. BuzzFeed — Whatever you think about its decision to release the Trump dossier earlier this week (journalists are divided in their opinions), BuzzFeed has a growing investigative team and body of work worth attention, but it’s not always easy to find on the site. If you want to know what the team is up to you can follow its editor, Mark Schoofs, @Schoofsfeed on Twitter.
Reaction to the list includes many recommendations of Democracy Now

11 January
Trump pits his staff against the media
(Politico) The president-elect packs his news conference with paid aides ready to jeer reporters

We Will Set the Rules, Not You: US Media to President-Elect Trump
(The Quint) The American Press Corps, a group of journalists stationed at the White House, has written a combative open letter to President-elect Donald Trump, saying that the words and actions of his administration will be under close scrutiny. The letter also asks the incoming POTUS to brace for “accurate, fearless reporting”.
Warning Trump against shutting access to the media, the Corps writes it was the media’s “airtime and column inches” that he is trying to influence.
12 January
The Trouble With Publishing the Trump Dossier
In distributing a set of inflammatory allegations that it admitted it could not vouch for, BuzzFeed sidestepped a basic principle of journalism.
(The Atlantic) … the appeal to “transparency” notwithstanding, this represents an abdication of the basic responsibility of journalism. The reporter’s job is not to simply dump as much information as possible into the public domain, though that can at times be useful too, as some of WikiLeaks’ revelations have shown. It is to gather information, sift through it, and determine what is true and what is not. The point of a professional journalist corps is to have people whose job it is to do that work on behalf of society, and who can cultivate sources and expertise to help them adjudicate it.
There is a crucial difference between the Pizzagate story and BuzzFeed’s posting of documents. The Pizzagate story seems to have spread through a network of malicious purveyors of misinformation in the “fake news” universe, as Craig Silverman laid it out in, yes, BuzzFeed. Publishing the Trump dossier, by contrast, wasn’t an attempt to mislead; instead, it was a decision to sidestep that question altogether. But the danger is demonstrated with Trump’s “FAKE NEWS” rebuttal. When serious and conscientious outlets publish information for whose veracity they cannot vouch, they make it easy for critics of the press to brand all reporting with which they disagree as simply “fake news.”

9 January
Bruce Anderson makes some excellent points
Why Nick Kouvalis’s politics don’t deserve a platform
Media fascination with the dark arts and ‘evil political masterminds’ isn’t new, writes Bruce Anderson. But it’s a problem.
(Maclean’s) It’s fair to bemoan that politics is too often cynical, ruthless, amoral. But people notice when you stop bemoaning political thuggery for a moment, and heap praise on it.
Starved for revenues, news organizations are drawn to the sensational. U.S. cable news shows spent months currying favour with Donald Trump so that he would call into their shows and boost ratings with his trademark rants—only to watch in too-late horror as he crushed a field that included probably a dozen people who were more qualified than he is.

7 January
How to Destroy the Business Model of Breitbart and Fake News
In mid-November, a Twitter group called Sleeping Giants became the hub of the new movement. The Giants and their followers have communicated with more than 1,000 companies and nonprofit groups whose ads appeared on Breitbart, and about 400 of those organizations have promised to remove the site from future ad buys.
“We are trying to stop racist websites by stopping their ad dollars,” reads the Sleeping Giants profile. “Many companies don’t even know it’s happening. It’s time to tell them.” They say it’s not about taking away Breitbart’s right to free speech, but about giving consumers and advertisers control over where their money goes. …
The activists’ back-and-forth with companies reveals a fog of confusion surrounding online advertising. Many organizations have no idea that their ads may end up next to content they find abhorrent.
Russia’s RT: The Network Implicated in U.S. Election Meddling
(NYT) RT, formerly called Russia Today, was founded in 2005 as part of the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. The network describes itself on its website as the first “Russian 24/7 English-language news channel which brings the Russian view on global news.” President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said the network was created to “break the Anglo-Saxon monopoly on the global information streams.”
Though the network is owned and operated by the Russian government, its executives say their journalists are independent. But two anchors who quit during live broadcasts say the network is a propaganda outlet.
The role of RT in the Kremlin’s effort to influence the election is covered in more detail than any other part of Russia’s campaign in the report, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday.

new-yorker-facts-dont-matter“I’m sorry, Jeannie, your answer was correct, but Kevin shouted his incorrect answer over yours, so he gets the points.”

4 January
Rupert Murdoch Is Turning Fox News Into Trump TV
Rupert Murdoch moved swiftly and unexpectedly to fill the void opened up by Megyn Kelly’s departure for NBC. Thursday morning, Fox News announced Tucker Carlson is taking over Kelly’s 9 p.m. slot. Carlson’s ascension to prime time is significant in several ways, the most crucial being this: It’s another sign that Murdoch is pushing Fox News in a more pro-Trump direction.
Carlson’s promotion is one sign of just how much Murdoch wants to appease Trump, Fox insiders say. Murdoch has been intent on forging a tight relationship with Trump since his victory, sources close to both men tell me. … Murdoch’s reversal, the associate said, can partly be explained by Murdoch’s longtime desire to have a relationship with an American president. Murdoch has met every occupant of the Oval Office since Nixon, but has never had a personal connection with one. The 85-year-old Murdoch may see Trump as his last chance.

Comments are closed.