Media matters 2019

Written by  //  December 5, 2019  //  Media  //  No comments

2018 World Press Freedom Index
RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War
How the Kremlin built one of the most powerful information weapons of the 21st century
— and why it may be impossible to stop
The Digital News Report
Pew Research: State of the News Media
Press Freedom Conference 2019

4-5 December
Is This Thing On? A Look Back at Political Hot Mic Moments
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada became the latest world leader to have private remarks disseminated worldwide.
How a CBC producer caught Trudeau on a hot mic gossiping about Trump
(CBC) … after footage emerged of the prime minister chatting with other world leaders at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday. In the clip, Trudeau appears to be discussing Trump’s behaviour and his “40-minute press conference.”
The viral moment likely wouldn’t have surfaced at all without Chris Rands, the CBC’s parliamentary producer in Ottawa. He spotted the exchange while he was scrolling through video footage.
” One of my jobs as a field producer is to put pictures to voice or pictures to the story. I was looking for footage and there was a reception at Buckingham Palace that seemed to be happening live, or almost live, around 3:10 p.m. [Tuesday] afternoon. I was scrolling through, and there was a beautiful little grouping of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President of France Emmanuel Macron, the prime minister of Canada, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte … and a little later, Princess Anne.
“It was this great little grouping and I thought, wait a sec, I see the prime minister’s face on the camera. He’s animated. He’s gesticulating. And I put on my headphones, and I can hear his voice.”

17 September

Does Journalism Have a Future?
In an era of social media and fake news, journalists who have survived the print plunge have new foes to face.
By Jill Lepore
(New Yorker Magazine) By the what-doesn’t-kill-you line of argument, the more forcefully Trump attacks the press, the stronger the press becomes. Unfortunately, that’s not the full story. All kinds of editorial decisions are now outsourced to Facebook’s News Feed, Chartbeat, or other forms of editorial automation, while the hands of many flesh-and-blood editors are tied to so many algorithms. For one reason and another, including twenty-first-century journalism’s breakneck pace, stories now routinely appear that might not have been published a generation ago, prompting contention within the reportorial ranks.
There’s plenty of room to argue over these matters of editorial judgment. Reasonable people disagree. Occasionally, those disagreements fall along a generational divide. Younger journalists often chafe against editorial restraint, not least because their cohort is far more likely than senior newsroom staff to include people from groups that have been explicitly and viciously targeted by Trump and the policies of his Administration, a long and growing list that includes people of color, women, immigrants, Muslims, members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, and anyone with family in Haiti or any of the other countries Trump deems “shitholes.” Sometimes younger people are courageous and sometimes they are heedless and sometimes those two things are the same.
The broader problem is that the depravity, mendacity, vulgarity, and menace of the Trump Administration have put a lot of people, including reporters and editors, off their stride. The present crisis, which is nothing less than a derangement of American life, has caused many people in journalism to make decisions they regret, or might yet. In the age of Facebook, Chartbeat, and Trump, legacy news organizations, hardly less than startups, have violated or changed their editorial standards in ways that have contributed to political chaos and epistemological mayhem. (28 January 2019)

Elimination of copy editors has been disastrous for newspapers
By Rosie DiManno
Serious lapses can completely alter the intent of a sentence. But it’s the slapdash defects of scruffy writing that seriously tarnish a newspaper’s reputation.
(Toronto Star) When newspapers first grasped that the internet, wedded to technology, would usher in a mass communications revolution, even long before everybody had a smartphone to hand, the response was sluggish. They did, in time, find religion, worshipping at the altar of digital journalism as the dead tree version got skinnier and frailer, largely because advertisers fled to the far cheaper option of online access to customers.
Papers bled. Staff was slashed. And among the first to get the axe were copy editors.
It is wacko, to me, that newspapers — where accuracy and clean content have always been of utmost importance — would view copy editors as expendable. The upshot has been disastrous.
It makes me crazy reading sloppy, typo-strewn copy. Ditto for readers, as has been made clear by the hundreds of emails I receive complaining about errors and inexcusable typos. The takeaway is that we just don’t care enough to give every story a good shake.
And that’s the thing, how such tiny slips can bugger up an entire story.

13 September
Sign of the Times: The New York Times 1619 Project, a highly ambitious, often excellent accounting of “the racial terror-state in America before and after Reconstruction,” is a prime example of the paper’s fundamental change in mission, Andrew Sullivan writes in “The New York Times Has Abandoned Liberalism for Activism.” In a dizzyingly short space of time, the Times has taken to favoring propaganda over objective reality and “it is hard to trust a paper engaged in trying to deceive its readers in order for its radical staffers to transform the world.”
Vice’s Race to Save Itself
since Viceland’s inception in 2016, it has struggled to find a meaningful audience
(New York) On the third Friday in August, Jesse Angelo, the longtime News Corp executive hired in June as president of global news and entertainment at Vice Media, gathered the staff of the company’s nightly news show to deliver their fate. Vice News Tonight had run on HBO for three years, until the network canceled it this spring — the final episode aired last Friday — and the 200-person Vice News staff had spent the summer waiting to see if another premium platform might pick up the show. Angelo told the staff that he and Nancy Dubuc, Vice’s CEO, had just returned from a company board meeting in Los Angeles: They’d been given orders to bring it home. VNT would now air on Viceland, the company’s cable channel.
“Making do with less” has become a theme not just at Vice News, but across the company. (As it has across the news industry in general.) Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Vice was on track to lose $50 million and to post revenues of between $600 and $650 million — less than it made two years earlier, and far less than the $1 billion Shane Smith, the company’s co-founder, had promised it would be making by now.

5 August
America’s two largest newspaper chains are joining forces. Will it save either?
Gannett and GateHouse announce agreement to try to save costs amid steep newspaper industry decline.
The $1.4 billion purchase of McLean-based Gannett by GateHouse Media, based in Pittsford, N.Y., will create a conglomerate that will own more than 250 daily newspapers and hundreds of weekly and community papers. The new company will retain the Gannett name and will have publications in 47 states, reaching more than 145 million unique visitors each month.
Executives from both companies extolled the deal in a news release as an opportunity to slash up to $300 million in annual overhead costs within 24 months while “continuing to invest in newsrooms” — creating journalism they hope can attract more digital subscribers and advertisers at a time when America employs thousands of fewer journalists than it did a decade ago.
But the efficiencies wrought by the merger may also result in publications that rely less on local reporters and more on USA Today-type stories produced or edited remotely and published in dozens of the company’s publications. Journalists across the country fretted over whether the deal would mean a wave of layoffs.
[Gannett merger with GateHouse marks a shift for troubled American newspaper giant]

10 July
Amal Clooney decries ‘collective shrug’ over Khashoggi at media freedom conference
(CBC) Clooney spoke at the opening day of a two-day conference [on press freedom in London] initiated by U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Politicians, officials, activists and journalists from more than 100 countries were taking part — though two Russian news outlets have been banned. The British government says Sputnik and RT are barred because of “their active role in spreading disinformation.”
Clooney, the British government’s envoy on media freedom, said … that “journalists are under attack like never before,” not just while covering wars but for exposing crime and corruption.
“The vast majority of these murders go unpunished,” she said, adding that “world leaders responded with little more than a collective shrug” to Khashoggi’s killing by agents close to the Saudi crown prince.
According to the United Nations cultural body UNESCO, 99 media workers were killed worldwide in 2018.
Media watchdog visits Saudi Arabia to free journalists
Reporters Without Borders says it met Saudi officials in April to press for the release of 30 jailed reporters.
(Al Jazeera) The Paris-based rights group, known by its French acronym RSF, said its secretary-general led a four-member delegation to the Gulf kingdom from April 21-23, in what it described on Wednesday as an “unprecedented” mission.
The RSF team met the Saudi foreign, justice and media ministers and the public prosecutor during the three-day visit to engage directly with the government on the need for urgent press-freedom reforms.
RSF said it kept the trip “confidential” as it hoped Riyadh would pardon the 30 journalists and citizen reporters during the month of Ramadan, which started in May.
The idea was discussed with officials but “the Saudi government did not act”, it added.

9 July
Graydon Carter Taps More Former Colleagues for Air Mail Launch
Carter’s putting some of the old Vanity Fair band back together for his new venture.
(WWD) The first edition of Graydon Carter’s Air Mail is coming up and he has a lot of familiar names on hand for the launch.
Although the former longtime Vanity Fair editor in chief has been hiring for his new venture, a weekly online newsletter in the works for about a year, it’s happened with no major announcements or press releases. WWD has learned there have been a number of additions to the masthead, beyond Carter and Alessandra Stanley, who will be the top editors.

14 June
Highlights From Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s Career of Deflection
(New York)   The End of the White House Press Briefing  Though a pattern of deflection and occasional outright lies are a part of Sanders’s legacy in the White House, perhaps the Trump administration’s greatest damage to the position of press secretary will be its abdication of the role almost entirely. In the past 200 days, only eight briefings were held. The last briefing was on March 11, 98 days ago, when Sanders briefed the press corps on the president’s 2020 budget proposal.

30 May
“Inconsistent, Incoherent, and Poorly Conceived”: As the Times Clamps Down on Reporters Going on MSNBC, Is This a Liberal-Media War?
The Times recently yanked one of its journalists from Rachel Maddow amid concerns about cable-news “bias.” Dean Baquet “thinks it’s a real issue.” But didn’t MSNBC help rebuild the Times’s business? And aren’t they in the same Trump-era boat?
(Vanity Fair) … there’s never been more demand on cable news for political reporters, many of whom now enjoy lucrative side hustles as paid contributors at the networks. For the Times, which is navigating its own quandaries of journalistic objectivity in the Trump era, the relationship is becoming trickier than it had previously been.
The guidelines could theoretically create a world of cable news haves and have-nots. A number of high-profile Times journalists have landed political-analyst gigs either at CNN or MSNBC (Maggie Haberman, Julie Davis, Patrick Healy, Mike Schmidt, Nicholas Confessore, Jeremy Peters, and others). It’s unclear whether they, too, would be encouraged to stay away from Lemon or Maddow or O’Donnell going forward, but the way cable-news contracts work is that contributors are obligated to appear on a network generally, not on this show or that. At the same time, several sources pointed out that political reporters generally gravitate toward shows like Morning Joe and Anderson Cooper 360 anyway. In CNN’s case, according to a network source, the only Times contributors who typically go on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon are the opinion columnists Charles Blow and Frank Bruni, who aren’t bound by the same strictures as Times newsroom staff. Of course all of this raises another point—in the current media environment, there’s hardly universal agreement on what constitutes partisan or opinionated programming. Where do you draw the lines?

9 May
Sarah Sanders leads “mass purge” of White House reporters with new press-room rules
New rules on press access, imposed by Sanders, could disqualify “almost the entire White House press corps”
(Salon) The White House imposed new rules on reporters’ press access that some journalists say may disqualify “almost the entire White House press corps.”
The White House press office implemented a new policy this week that aims at cutting down the number of journalists who can have a “hard pass,” a two-year press pass that allows reporters entry to the White House grounds, The Washington Post reported. Under the new rules, only journalists who have entered the White House grounds at least 90 days of the last 180 can renew their hard pass. Reporters who do not have a hard pass must apply for a new pass each time they need access.
The new rules were announced in March and came after the White House revoked CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass over a combative exchange with President Trump at a news conference. A Trump-appointed federal judge ordered the White House to restore Acosta’s press pass, noting that the White House did not go through any formal process before making the decision.
Sanders denied that the new policy was related to Acosta and claimed that “no one’s access is being limited” under the new rules. She said that the White House Correspondents’ Association was consulted on the new policy.
But the Post’s Dana Milbank points out that Sanders failed to mention that she went ahead with the policies “over objections” from both the White House Correspondents’ Association and numerous news outlets.
The new rules set a “nearly-impossible” standard for journalists, Milbank wrote, noting that it appears that “most of the White House press corps didn’t qualify for credentials under the new standard.” … The new policy also comes as the White House has gone out of its way to limit press access to the point where it is impractical for a journalist to spend 50 percent of their days at the White House.
Sanders has held just two press briefings this year and has instead held unscheduled “gaggles” in front of the White House. (See: Donald Trump says he told Sarah Huckabee Sanders “not to bother” with White House press briefings

7 May

Two Reuters reporters freed in Myanmar after more than 500 days in jail

(Reuters) The two reporters, Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, had been convicted in September and sentenced to seven years in jail, in a case that raised questions about Myanmar’s progress toward democracy and sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates.
They were released under a presidential amnesty for 6,520 prisoners on Tuesday. President Win Myint has pardoned thousands of other prisoners in mass amnesties since last month.
Myanmar’s Supreme Court had rejected the journalists’ final appeal in April. They had petitioned the country’s top court, citing evidence of a police set-up and lack of proof of a crime, after the Yangon High Court dismissed an earlier appeal in January.

30 April
CNN Drops 26% In Prime Time As Fox News Dominates April Cable Ratings
(Forbes) Among prime time cable news shows, Fox News’ Hannity led with a total audience of 3.086 million, followed by FNC’s Tucker Carlson Tonight (2.834 million) and MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (2.630 million). None of CNN’s prime time hours finished among the top five shows overall. CNN’s top-rated hour, Cuomo Primetime, finished in 26th place.

27 April
Press freedom declines in Hungary
A ranking of European countries that reflects such aspects as violence against media, access to information and legal restrictions reveals journalists have huge problems in Hungary. Many journalists are leaving the country

15 April
Pulitzer Prizes Honor Journalists Under Threat With New Crop Of Winners
(NPR) Dana Canedy kept her remarks brief Monday. But by the time the Pulitzer Prize administrator left the lectern at Columbia University, she had significantly altered the careers and prospects of a host of journalists, artists and scholars across nearly two dozen categories.
With their $15,000 in award money, each is receiving a new laurel that’ll likely prove more valuable: the title “Pulitzer Prize winner.”
A range of journalism fields — including breaking news and investigative reporting, criticism and cartooning — account for 14 of the prizes Canedy is announcing Monday. The other seven are reserved for the arts and scholarship: fiction, music, history and several others.
This year, Canedy deviated from the usual plan in order to honor two more recipients. The Pulitzer board recognized the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., which suffered a gunman’s deadly attack last year. Along with the honor, the staff of the paper is receiving a $100,000 bequest to support its work.
International Reporting: split between: the staff of Reuters, including the imprisoned journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo; and Maggie Michael, Maad al-Zikry and Nariman El-Mofty of The Associated Press. Click this link to jump to the full list of winners

10 April
More Than a Data Dump
Why Julian Assange deserves First Amendment protection
By James C. Goodale
(Harper’s April edition/paywall) If reporters can be indicted for talking to their sources, it will mean that the government has created the equivalent of a UK Official Secrets Act—through judicial fiat, without any legislative action.
Given the threat the Justice Department’s actions against Assange pose to the First Amendment, why haven’t more journalists, press organizations, and editorial boards jumped in to support him? Principally it is because journalists dislike what he is doing; they don’t believe he is a “real” journalist and therefore do not see him as entitled to the same protections they enjoy.
But he’s not just a data dumper. He edited the Manning leaks initially, holding back some material. He may have done the same thing with his other leaks, including the Vault 7 releases. For better or for worse he seeks out information to be published on his website the way other journalists do for their publications. He is a publisher and is entitled to the same First Amendment protections as any other. Nonetheless, in the eyes of establishment journalists he remains a dumper, as well as a rapist, a liar, a thief, and a Russian agent.
One wonders whether the real reason journalists will not support Assange is that they simply don’t get it. They don’t understand how a successful prosecution of Assange would threaten their ability to report. I would suggest that the focus of the mainstream press should not be on whether Assange meets the usual definition of a journalist or whether they approve of what he does. That’s not the point. The point is that he carries out the functions of a journalist, has First Amendment protections (as they do), and should not be prosecuted for what he does. If he is, we are all worse off for it.

3 April
6 Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation Into Rupert Murdoch and His Family
Using 150 interviews on three continents, The Times describes the Murdoch family’s role in destabilizing democracy in North America, Europe and Australia.
A six-month investigation by The New York Times covering three continents and including more than 150 interviews has described how Mr. Murdoch and his feuding sons turned their media outlets into right-wing political influence machines that have destabilized democracy in North America, Europe and Australia.
Here are some key takeaways from The Times’s investigation into the Murdoch family and its role in the illiberal, right-wing political wave sweeping the globe.
How Rupert Murdoch’s Empire of Influence Remade the World
Murdoch and his children have toppled governments on two continents and destabilized the most important democracy on Earth. What do they want?
(NYT Magazine) Few private citizens have ever been more central to the state of world affairs… . As the head of a sprawling global media empire, he commanded multiple television networks, a global news service, a major publishing house and a Hollywood movie studio. His newspapers and television networks had been instrumental in amplifying the nativist revolt that was reshaping governments not just in the United States but also across the planet. His 24-hour news-and-opinion network, the Fox News Channel, had by then fused with President Trump and his base of hard-core supporters, giving Murdoch an unparalleled degree of influence over the world’s most powerful democracy. In Britain, his London-based tabloid, The Sun, had recently led the historic Brexit crusade to drive the country out of the European Union — and, in the chaos that ensued, helped deliver Theresa May to 10 Downing Street. In Australia, where Murdoch’s power is most undiluted, his outlets had led an effort to repeal the country’s carbon tax — a first for any nation — and pushed out a series of prime ministers whose agenda didn’t comport with his own.
Murdoch has carefully built an image during his six decades in media as a pragmatist who will support liberal governments when it suits him. Yet his various news outlets have inexorably pushed the flow of history to the right across the Anglosphere, whether they were advocating for the United States and its allies to go to war in Iraq in 2003, undermining global efforts to combat climate change or vilifying people of color at home or from abroad as dangerous threats to a white majority.

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