Posts tagged media criticism

FluffPo: The Tumblr of Bad HuffPo Behavior

So this came across the Twitter today.

FluffPo: a delightful ongoing critique of the Huffington Post’s best (worst?) articles, in easy to eat Tumblr style.

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Jon Stewart dominates Bill O’Reilly’s own poll
Credit where credit is due: The O’Reilly Factor’s viewer polls always have a big stamp on the bottom that says “NOT A SCIENTIFIC POLL,” and that’s as true now as it was when we didn’t find their outcomes so amusing. That said, such a disclaimer also means O’Reilly and his people probably didn’t have to unleash this dispiriting (for him) result to the world. Just look at that map! Jon Stewart is one of the most convincing and talented talkers in the public eye, and it’s his willingness to have nuanced yet incisive debate with his ideological opposites that make him so. source
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shortformblog:

Jon Stewart dominates Bill O’Reilly’s own poll

Credit where credit is due: The O’Reilly Factor’s viewer polls always have a big stamp on the bottom that says “NOT A SCIENTIFIC POLL,” and that’s as true now as it was when we didn’t find their outcomes so amusing. That said, such a disclaimer also means O’Reilly and his people probably didn’t have to unleash this dispiriting (for him) result to the world. Just look at that map! Jon Stewart is one of the most convincing and talented talkers in the public eye, and it’s his willingness to have nuanced yet incisive debate with his ideological opposites that make him so. source

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John Stewart: When Reporters Attack

CNN and Fox get into a scuffle & Nancy Grace refuses to let science get in the way of her narrative.

That Smell You Hear is Conflict of Interest

Time once was that a “watchdog” press would closely scrutinize the work of elected officials and the powerful.

Adversarial journalism was its bread and butter, and relationships with those covered were held at arms length.

Time once was.

Via the James Rainey of the LA Times:

Imagine if the San Francisco Chronicle beefed up coverage of the state capital and asked Gov. Jerry Brown which agencies deserved the most coverage. Or what if Fox News planned to take a closer look at the United Nations with the blessing of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon?

The snickering that ensued would be prolonged, followed by a righteous blast of indignation from other news outlets. Journalism born out of such cooperation would rightly stink of conflict.

That will be at least the initial aroma around the latest journalistic initiative by America’s fastest-growing news outlet, Patch.com. The AOL-owned operation announced this week that it would open hyper-local news sites in Newark, N.J., “in partnership with Newark Mayor Cory Booker.”

"It will be great to have their help, since they are so plugged into the community, to help us identify the places to start," Arianna Huffington tells Rainey. "But that does not in any way immunize them from criticism or … the kind of journalism we would need to engage in."

[E]mergencies such as wars and earthquakes demonstrate a simple and permanent fact of media life: that the Net is the new TV and the new radio, because it has subsumed both. It would be best for both TV and radio to normalize to the Net and quit protecting their old distribution systems.
Doc Searls, Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, Earthquake Turns TV Networks into Print.

John Stewart takes on CNN: “You’re not even news anchors anymore… You’re news v-jays.”

Lies, Lies and Objective Journalism

Last week, after returning to the States from covering Egypt’s revolution, Anderson Cooper called out Hosni Mubarak and other politicians for lying to the media about their response and options to the uprising.

Soon, American establishment media were criticizing Cooper for taking taking sides in the conflict and losing his journalistic objectivity.

As Salon’s Glenn Greenwald writes:

Over the weekend, The Los AngelesTimes James Rainey mocked CNN’s Anderson Cooper for repeatedly using the word “lie” to describe the factually false statements of Egyptian leaders.  Though Rainey ultimately concluded that “it’s hard to find fault with what Cooper had to say” — meaning that everything Cooper identified as a “lie” was, in fact, a “lie” — the bulk of Rainey’s column derided the CNN anchor for his statements… Rainey also suggested that the harsh denunciations of Mubarak’s false statements were merely part of “Cooper’s pronounced shift toward more opinion-making in recent months … trying to adopt the more commentary-heavy approach of [CNN’s] higher-rated competitors, Fox and MSNBC.”  To Rainey, when a journalist calls a government lie a “lie,” that’s veering into “commentary-heavy opinion-making” rather than objective journalism 

Rainey, as Greenwald notes, wasn’t the only figure with questions about Cooper’s objectivity. Media critic Howard Kurtz had this to say during a Q&A with Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey, “Now I think most journalists would agree with him, perhaps most Americans would agree with him. But should an anchor and correspondent be taking sides on this kind of story?”

Says Greenwald:

Rainey, Kurtz and Dickey all have this exactly backwards.  Identifying lies told by powerful political leaders — and describing them as such — is what good journalists do, by definition.  It’s the crux of adversarial journalism, of a “watchdog” press.  “Objectivity” does not require refraining from pointing out the falsity of government claims.  The opposite is true; objectivity requires that a journalist do exactly that:  treat factually false statements as false.  ”Objectivity” is breached not when a journalist calls a lie a “lie,” but when they refuse to do so, when they treat lies told by powerful political officials as though they’re viable, reasonable interpretations of subjective questions.  The very idea that a journalist is engaged in ”opinion-making” or is “taking sides” by calling a lie a “lie” is ludicrous; the only “side” such a journalist is taking is with facts, with the truth.   It’s when a journalist fails to identify a false statement as such that they are “taking sides” — they’re siding with those in power by deceitfully depicting their demonstrably false statements as something other than lies.

We couldn’t agree more, and recommend reading Greenwald’s full critique of the critique over at Salon.

A Week in WikiLeaks

Canada’s CBC asks whether WikiLeaks is journalism, quotes one source who says, Yay (“The release of the files represents the triumph of investigative journalism.”) and another who says, Nay (“He’s not a journalist. He’s not a whistleblower. He is a political actor. He has a political agenda.”).

What does WikiLeaks signify for journalism and civil society? Here’s some of what we’ve read this week.

1. Missing the Point of WikiLeaks — The Economist

With or without WikiLeaks, the technology exists to allow whistleblowers to leak data and documents while maintaining anonymity. With or without WikiLeaks, the personel, technical know-how, and ideological will exists to enable anonymous leaking and to make this information available to the public. Jailing Thomas Edison in 1890 would not have darkened the night.

1. WikiLeaks Reveals More than Government Secrets — Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com

On CNN last night, Wolf Blitzer was beside himself with rage over the fact that the U.S. Government had failed to keep all these things secret from him… Then — like the Good Journalist he is — Blitzer demanded assurances that the Government has taken the necessary steps to prevent him, the media generally and the citizenry from finding out any more secrets.

3. Wikileaks hounded? — Reporters Without Borders

This is the first time we have seen an attempt at the international community level to censor a website dedicated to the principle of transparency. We are shocked to find countries such as France and the United States suddenly bringing their policies on freedom of expression into line with those of China. We point out that in France and the United States, it is up to the courts, not politicians, to decide whether or not a website should be closed.

4. Why I love WikiLeaks — Jack Schafer, Slate.com

Oh, sure, [Julian Assange’s] a pompous egomaniac sporting a series of bad haircuts and grandiose tendencies. And he often acts without completely thinking through every repercussion of his actions. But if you want to dismiss him just because he’s a seething jerk, there are about 2,000 journalists I’d like you to meet.

5. What the Attacks on WikiLeaks Tell Us — John Naughton, Memex 1.1

The great American editor Oz Elliott once lectured graduates at the Columbia School of Journalism on their sacred duty to democracy as the unofficial legislators of mankind. He asked me what I thought of it. I said it was no good to me: I was trained as a reptile lurking in the gutter whose sole job was to “get the bloody story”.

Yet journalism’s stock-in-trade is disclosure. As we have seen this week with WikiLeaks, power loathes truth revealed.

6. The War on WikiLeaks — Joshua Norman, CBS News

Since the first mentions of a leak of potentially embarrassing U.S. diplomatic cables, a quiet war has blossomed between those who claim they support openness and free speech and those who claim they are protecting lives, international cooperation and the rights of the Swedish court system.
On Twitter, every journalist is a press critic. This may sound like a good thing: Journalism, more than most institutions, would seem to benefit from self-scrutiny. But, trust me, it isn’t. Twitter opens a window into journalists’ minds and, often times, the view ain’t pretty.
Ben Crair, Deputy News Editor, The Daily Beast
On Nov. 4, Anderson Cooper did the country a favor. He expertly deconstructed on his CNN show the bogus rumor that President Obama’s trip to Asia would cost $200 million a day. This was an important “story.” It underscored just how far ahead of his time Mark Twain was when he said a century before the Internet, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” But it also showed that there is an antidote to malicious journalism — and that’s good journalism.
Thomas Friedman, New York Times.

Olbermann: False promise of ‘objectivity’ proves ‘truth’ superior to ‘fact’

An alternative, economic take from Slate’s Jack Shafer:

This isn’t the first time Koppel has complained about the ruination of TV news by the cable channels. In 2006, he penned a similar op-ed in the New York Times upon leaving ABC News after working there for 42 years. In both the Post and Times pieces, he accuses the cable networks of giving audiences what they want instead of what they need to know because it’s the best way to secure advertising profits. Such profit-pandering was unlikely in the 1960s, he writes in the Post, because network TV news “operated at a loss or barely broke even,” a fulfillment of the “FCC’s mandate” that broadcasters “work in the ‘public interest, convenience and necessity.’”…

…Koppel continues that it wasn’t until 60 Minutes proved TV news could make a profit—”something no television news program had previously achieved”—that news divisions started chasing revenues.

The assertion that TV network news lost money everywhere until Don Hewitt birthed 60 Minutes is frequently repeated. But it’s wrong—dead wrong—as a paper in the December issue of Journalism by Michael J. Socolow of the University of Maine shows…

…Koppel is correct when he cites the success of 60 Minutes as a news-business turning point, one that proved a news-division program could make entertainment-division-size profits. But to say, as Koppel does, that because of 60 Minutes, “a light went on, and the news divisions of all three networks came to be seen as profit centers, with all the expectations that entailed” is beyond stupid. It’s bad reporting.

Dear Wired:
I feel like I’m in an abusive relationship with you. I love you. You’re charming, attractive and smart, everything I could ever want in a magazine. My heart skips a beat when I see a new issue in my mailbox. Most of the time, you’re harmless, and I tell everyone I know how awesome you are. But every now and then, you slip, and you make me feel very bad, make me question my judgment.
—  Cindy Royal, assistant professor at Texas State University in San Marcos, on Wired’s November 2010 cover story, All Natural: Why Breasts Are the Key to the Future of Regenerative Medicine.

Dear Wired:

I feel like I’m in an abusive relationship with you. I love you. You’re charming, attractive and smart, everything I could ever want in a magazine. My heart skips a beat when I see a new issue in my mailbox. Most of the time, you’re harmless, and I tell everyone I know how awesome you are. But every now and then, you slip, and you make me feel very bad, make me question my judgment.

— Cindy Royal, assistant professor at Texas State University in San Marcos, on Wired’s November 2010 cover story, All Natural: Why Breasts Are the Key to the Future of Regenerative Medicine.

Rachel Maddow interviews John Stewart, criticizes his critique of the US news media.