I’m betting against Groupon, LivingSocial, and the other social commerce startups. Sounds crazy, right? I know they’re the hottest thing around right now, but I think their 15 minutes of fame are just about over. Continue reading
James Poniewozik hits on one of my biggest pet peeves – moderate bias in media coverage. This idea that journalists are unbiased and have a responsibility to present all points of view is terribly flawed. The rise of public relations flaks and rampant doublespeak killed that long ago.
As anyone following health reform knows, centrism is a political
position too. And you see moderate bias — i.e., a preference for
centrism — whenever a news outlet assumes that the truth must be
“somewhere in the middle.” You see it whenever an organization decides
that “balance” requires equal weight for an opposing position, however
specious: “Some, however, believe global warming is a myth.” (Moderate
bias would also require me to find a countervailing liberal position
and pretend that it is equivalent to global-warming denial. Sorry.
When I started Keystone Politics, and again when we launched CitizeNYC, we don’t look to show each side of the story equally. We have a clear editorial view that, while it doesn’t come through in all of our editorial choices, isn’t something we shy away from. We’re looking for the truth, and that usually means one side looks worse than the other.
As of an hour ago, I’m officially on vacation until September. Tomorrow morning I’m putting on my journalist hat (and cape?) and will be covering the Democratic National Convention from Denver.
Phew! That’ll be more than enough work for me. I’ll keep you posted – look for my first Youtube video on Friday.
I didn’t catch this last month, but enjoyed reading the Talk to the Newsroom where the Times’ two Olympics editors answered questions. Truth be told, I enjoy this feature immensely, but it was particularly interesting to see the sorts of questions readers asked about covering the Olympics.
Flash forward a month and the Times ran a worthwhile and fairly critical story of how the Chinese government has walled off “undesirable” areas of Beijing so Olympic visitors can’t see them. The story is balanced, though I tend to think the situation in China is worse for the average citizen than we know.
First, a Chinese official comments:
A planning official, Zhi Wenguang, said, “We extended an existing wall to improve the overall environment for Olympic events.”
That, of course, is quite a bit of Doublespeak (and interestingly until I read that Wiki entry I thought Orwell coined the term). The view of local business owners seems more accurate:
Now a wall conceals a little cove of entrepreneurship where several
migrant families sell socks, book bags, pants, noodles and shish kebabs
cooked in a spicy soup. One family behind the wall sells ice cream,
popsicles and cold drinks from a refrigerator on wheels.
Fengxia, a neighbor who owns three shops, said she believed that
officials and developers were using Olympic beautification as a pretext
to strangle their business and put pressure on them to leave.
This post about meeting Helen Thomas gave me a good laugh this morning, which was nice because I’m bored to death in my nearly-empty office…Congress empties out quickly.
I met Helen Thomas. Whoâ€™s that, right? Many know her as a recognizable face in the crowd of reporters at White House press conferences. I knew her from a cameo role in the movie Dave, where she played herself for about three seconds.
I was out to lunch when I spotted her. Where I grew up (Florida), if you see someone famous, you approach them and ask for their autograph. Youâ€™re usually encountering a mouse (Mickey) or a duck (Donald) in costume in Orlando. Why change course now?
I walked in Helenâ€™s direction, but she was eating chicken wings like they were going on the endangered species list. I didnâ€™t think it was appropriate to interrupt her with animal skin between her teeth and a bone hanging out of her mouth. Finally, she came up for air and shook my hand (which then became greasy, but no problem). Sheâ€™s so small and very gracious â€“ except with the chicken.
Cenk Uygur has an interesting but misguided post on the declining value of nightly news anchors:
We’re not interested in someone regurgitating the news to us and taking a half hour to do it. We don’t need a professional news anchor to tell us what the news is. This isn’t 1955. I’ve got all the news in the world at my fingertips, what do I need this guy to tell me what he thinks is important? Who cares what Brian Williams thinks is important?
In the old days, you needed these authority figures to sort out the news for you and tell you what was important and weed out the riff-raff. But these aren’t the old days. I have a mind of my own. I don’t need to borrow a news anchor’s. And if I were to borrow one, that’s not the first place I would look.
He goes on to say that between the AP, Google News, and Keith Olbermann, nobody needs Brian, Katie, and Charlie anymore. Wrong. Dead wrong. Yes, the “big three” nightly news broadcasts are stumbling right now, trying to find their place in the new world of instant gratification news. But the truth is, they play a more valuable role than ever.
In a world that values instant gratification and “perspective reinforcement” in their news (ahem, Keith Olbermann, DailyKos, etc), nightly news provides a more balanced and longterm perspective on the day. The editorial, voice-of-God function that the nightly news plays is exactly why it’s valuable; in a world with too much information, much of it now tailored to our interests and prejudices, there is a stabilizing function that the nightly news plays. Basically, it’s saying “no matter what you read all day, here are the most important things you *should* be paying attention to.”
That’s not to say I watch it (unless I’m still at the office, which is often enough). Of course, I’m often immersed in the very news they’ll be broadcasting, so I’m probably the exception rather than the rule. Like it or not Cenk…Katie, Brian, and Charlie still set the agenda for a lot of other news outlets and for the discussions and actions in Washington and on Wall Street. Maybe for that reason alone, it’s worth paying attention.
Asked if he would settle for money: “Absolutely not. Not. No. Absolutely not.” More: “For me, it’s not about the money. It is about this principle of what we’re going to do with our democracy. … If the time comes that there’s money as a settlement, a substantial part of that will go to such outfits as … Reporters and Investigative Editors Association, The Committee To Protect Journalists, because I would like the legacy of this lawsuit to be not that I made tons of money out of it, but that we kept the little flame, the flickering flame of hard-nose investigative reporting alive.”
I saw Sicko on Friday night. It’s fantastic and moving; I highly suggest you see it. As an amateur media watchdog (I see all sorts of their antics at work), I’ve been closely watching the debate between CNN and Michael Moore.
Here’s the first clip, where Moore (rightly!) attacks Wolf Blitzer, Sanjay Gupta, and CNN for their poor reporting of not only Sicko, but of the entire health care crisis:
Moore agreed to do an unedited follow-up interview that CNN aired on the next day’s edition of The Situation Room.* The second half of the interview plays like the first half should have. It’s a bit more in depth and really talks about Moore’s motivations and decisions in the film-making process. If only CNN were like this all the time, they might have better ratings:
* CNN advertised this show with door hangers that say “Don’t Interrupt: I’m in the Situation Room.” Ha! Please, does anyone consider Wolf Blitzer essential viewing?
“A lot of these guys are fairly partisan, so I have concerns about opening the full membership to people who are not in a traditional sense objective reporters,” John L. Micek, the president of the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondentsâ€™ Association, told State Legislatures magazine in January.
I see your point, John, and I know your membership isn’t a fan of bloggers, but what’s the criteria here? It’s a closed system and we the public only get what you as reporters decide to feed us. If the traditional media spelled out some standards perhaps bloggers wouldn’t get so upset.
And I won’t go off on a Jeff Jarvis rant, but…