posts about or somewhat related to ‘obama’

Where there is good journalism, there will be scoops
As of 12:45 pm today, Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux published a new in-depth piece at The Intercept called "Watch Commander: Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers" examining the government’s Terrorist Screening Database, as discovered in classified documents the news outlet obtained. The article breaks down the system piece by piece, with startling observations from classified documents.

The second-highest concentration of people designated as “known or suspected terrorists” by the government is in Dearborn, Mich.—a city of 96,000 that has the largest percentage of Arab-American residents in the country.

Even if you don’t live in Dearborn, you should be concerned. 

…officials don’t need “concrete facts” or “irrefutable evidence” to secretly place someone on the list—only a vague and elastic standard of “reasonable suspicion.

According to information from the documents, during the Obama administration, there are more people in the TIDE (Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment) than ever before (an even bigger system with an even lower bar for making the list), there are 47,000 people on the government’s “No Fly” list, as well as a disproportionate about of suspects on the watchlist based on their assumed terrorist group affiliation (see above pie chart). Which is skewed, because the estimated size of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, for example, is significantly smaller than the amount of people on the AQI watchlist:


If this information doesn’t make you want to put on a tinfoil hat and anti-surveillance coat and go off the grid for a while, on top of all of that, the story itself was scooped by a government agency and handed to the AP. The AP story in question, written by Eileen Sullivan, came out just minutes before the Intercept piece. 
From HuffPo:

The government, it turned out, had “spoiled the scoop,” an informally forbidden practice in the world of journalism. To spoil a scoop, the subject of a story, when asked for comment, tips off a different, typically friendlier outlet in the hopes of diminishing the attention the first outlet would have received. Tuesday’s AP story was much friendlier to the government’s position, explaining the surge of individuals added to the watch list as an ongoing response to a foiled terror plot.

As Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, told The Intercept, 

We’re getting into Minority Report territory when being friends with the wrong person can mean the government puts you in a database and adds DMV photos, iris scans, and face recognition technology to track you secretly and without your knowledge.

TLDNR; We’re probably all on a secret watchlist. And as soon as we find out we are, the government will know we know. 
-Mariana
Images: Chart via The Intercept ”Who’s on the watchlist?” that breaks down the list by affiliated terrorist group, and screenshot from Ryan Devereaux’s Twitter.

Where there is good journalism, there will be scoops

As of 12:45 pm today, Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux published a new in-depth piece at The Intercept called "Watch Commander: Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers" examining the government’s Terrorist Screening Database, as discovered in classified documents the news outlet obtained. The article breaks down the system piece by piece, with startling observations from classified documents.

The second-highest concentration of people designated as “known or suspected terrorists” by the government is in Dearborn, Mich.—a city of 96,000 that has the largest percentage of Arab-American residents in the country.

Even if you don’t live in Dearborn, you should be concerned. 

…officials don’t need “concrete facts” or “irrefutable evidence” to secretly place someone on the list—only a vague and elastic standard of “reasonable suspicion.

According to information from the documents, during the Obama administration, there are more people in the TIDE (Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment) than ever before (an even bigger system with an even lower bar for making the list), there are 47,000 people on the government’s “No Fly” list, as well as a disproportionate about of suspects on the watchlist based on their assumed terrorist group affiliation (see above pie chart). Which is skewed, because the estimated size of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, for example, is significantly smaller than the amount of people on the AQI watchlist:

image

If this information doesn’t make you want to put on a tinfoil hat and anti-surveillance coat and go off the grid for a while, on top of all of that, the story itself was scooped by a government agency and handed to the AP. The AP story in question, written by Eileen Sullivan, came out just minutes before the Intercept piece. 

From HuffPo:

The government, it turned out, had “spoiled the scoop,” an informally forbidden practice in the world of journalism. To spoil a scoop, the subject of a story, when asked for comment, tips off a different, typically friendlier outlet in the hopes of diminishing the attention the first outlet would have received. Tuesday’s AP story was much friendlier to the government’s position, explaining the surge of individuals added to the watch list as an ongoing response to a foiled terror plot.

As Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, told The Intercept, 

We’re getting into Minority Report territory when being friends with the wrong person can mean the government puts you in a database and adds DMV photos, iris scans, and face recognition technology to track you secretly and without your knowledge.

TLDNR; We’re probably all on a secret watchlist. And as soon as we find out we are, the government will know we know

-Mariana

Images: Chart via The Intercept ”Who’s on the watchlist?” that breaks down the list by affiliated terrorist group, and screenshot from Ryan Devereaux’s Twitter.

We write to protest the limits on access currently barring photographers who cover the White House. We hope this letter will serve as the first step in removing these restrictions and, therefore, we also request a meeting with you to discuss this critical issue further.

Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties. As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government.

Opening paragraphs of a joint letter to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney from 30+ news organizations. (PDF)

Background: During a press briefing last week, the Washington press corp continued its criticism of the Obama administration and its perceived lack of access to the president.

Meantime, Santiago Lyon, vice president and director of photography at The Associated Press, took to the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times to call out the White House’s “draconian restrictions on photojournalists’ access to the president.”

This issue has been around for while. Last Febrruary, Politico ran a piece about a growing rift between the Obama administration and the Washington press corp.

As I wrote at the time, though, the access issue surrounds most every administration:

Go back to Timothy Crouse’s 1972 book, “Boys on the Bus,” about that year’s presidential campaign and reporters are complaining about “media events” and message control.

Or fast forward to the Reagan years and press complaints about Reagan’s mastery of political television and the importance of image over substance and you have, largely, the same phenomenon. It’s just different technology these days.

Yes, access is important. So too is recognizing and reporting on the political theater that surrounds a photo op. — Michael

Never Let a Correction Interfere With a Headline
Lessons learned from the Washington Post.
H/T: Jay Rosen

Never Let a Correction Interfere With a Headline

Lessons learned from the Washington Post.

H/T: Jay Rosen

Image Management
Beyonce Knowles has banned press photographers from her ‘Mrs. Carter’ concert tour in an attempt to prevent unbecoming photos of herself from being used by the media. This appears to be a response to unflattering photos published by Gawker and Buzzfeed from the singer’s Superbowl performance.
Now, Beyonce’s personal photographer, Frank Micelotta, is the only one officially allowed to capture images of Beyonce during her concerts. The press is then given a link to an “official” website where they must register to download “approved” images.
In an article in Slate, Alyssa Rosenberg points out the quandary of celebrities censoring — or otherwise trying to completely control — their pictures:

"[Beyonce is] turning the media into a distribution machine for whatever message she wants to send, rather than accepting that others have the right to judge the tour, as a product she’s offering up."

FJP: Pop stars aren’t the only ones practicing the dark arts of image control.
Earlier this winter Politico published an article about the Washington press corps’ frustration with their access to the White House. Part of that criticism was the Obama administration’s use of social media to bypass them with images and information posted directly to the public.
For example, the White House Flickr gallery is made up of photographs by Pete Souza, the official Obama administration photographer. Souza captures and even stages pictures of the president — like Obama’s moment of silence photo op held in honor of the Boston bombings — and many of those images have been used by the news media.
Is it acceptable that politicians can craft their own image, but not celebrities? And how authentic can journalism be if everyone gets their images from one, tightly controlled source?
Sort of related: Attorney, Carolyn E. Wright, points out in  Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast: if you’re in a publicly-accessible area, and you don’t have an expectation of privacy, you’re fair game to be photographed.
Famous people, beware: as long as the media have their will, they’ll get you on camera their way — be you Obama, or be you Beyonce. — Krissy
Image: Beyonce from the Super Bowl, via Pocket-Lint.

Image Management

Beyonce Knowles has banned press photographers from her ‘Mrs. Carter’ concert tour in an attempt to prevent unbecoming photos of herself from being used by the media. This appears to be a response to unflattering photos published by Gawker and Buzzfeed from the singer’s Superbowl performance.

Now, Beyonce’s personal photographer, Frank Micelotta, is the only one officially allowed to capture images of Beyonce during her concerts. The press is then given a link to an “official” website where they must register to download “approved” images.

In an article in Slate, Alyssa Rosenberg points out the quandary of celebrities censoring — or otherwise trying to completely control — their pictures:

"[Beyonce is] turning the media into a distribution machine for whatever message she wants to send, rather than accepting that others have the right to judge the tour, as a product she’s offering up."

FJP: Pop stars aren’t the only ones practicing the dark arts of image control.

Earlier this winter Politico published an article about the Washington press corps’ frustration with their access to the White House. Part of that criticism was the Obama administration’s use of social media to bypass them with images and information posted directly to the public.

For example, the White House Flickr gallery is made up of photographs by Pete Souza, the official Obama administration photographer. Souza captures and even stages pictures of the president — like Obama’s moment of silence photo op held in honor of the Boston bombings — and many of those images have been used by the news media.

Is it acceptable that politicians can craft their own image, but not celebrities? And how authentic can journalism be if everyone gets their images from one, tightly controlled source?

Sort of related: Attorney, Carolyn E. Wright, points out in Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast: if you’re in a publicly-accessible area, and you don’t have an expectation of privacy, you’re fair game to be photographed.

Famous people, beware: as long as the media have their will, they’ll get you on camera their way — be you Obama, or be you Beyonce. — Krissy

Image: Beyonce from the Super Bowl, via Pocket-Lint.

Politico: Obama’s a Media Puppet Master

Politico’s Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen came out with a longread yesterday about a rift between the Obama administration and the Washington press corp. Specifically, the issue is about access to Obama. More specifically, about how the White House has conducted few interviews with establishment media.

In Vandehei’s and Allen’s eyes, Obama is a media “puppet master” who, along with his staff, “has taken old tricks for shaping coverage (staged leaks, friendly interviews) and put them on steroids using new ones (social media, content creation, precision targeting).”

The results are transformational. With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House — fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press — has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly. And future presidents from both parties will undoubtedly copy and expand on this approach.

The story is one of disruption. That is, disruption of an establishment press corp that feels slighted that the White House can — and does — go around them with its messaging by using social media and content marketing strategies. But there’s also a sense of entitlement permeating the piece.

For example, for all their handwringing that the president hasn’t given “an interview to print reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, POLITICO and others in years,” Vandehei and Allen point out the Obama does give frequent interviews. Matter of fact, 674 in his first term, over 500 more than George W Bush gave in his first term.

But these interviews aren’t with the right people. Instead, “they are often with network anchors or local TV stations, and rarely with the reporters who cover the White House day to day.” Reporters who, in their estimation, would ask the tough and unpredictable questions. (See Allen’s  tough and unpredictable questions for George W Bush above from his 2008 one on one interview with the president.) 

And then there’s the complaint that the administration is creating content and taking that directly to the public rather than going through press intermediaries:

Still, the most unique twist by this White House has been the government’s generating and distributing of content.

A number of these techniques were on vivid display two weekends ago, when the White House released a six-month-old photo of the president shooting skeet, buttressing his claim in a New Republic interview that he fires at clay pigeons “all the time” at Camp David…

…The government created the content (the photo), released it on its terms (Twitter) and then used Twitter again to stoke stories about conservatives who didn’t believe Obama ever shot a gun in the first place.

All of which is to say, And?

In an age where everyone’s a publisher and everyone’s a brand, it would be surprising for a presidency not to employ these tools. In fact, they follow a long, if frustrating, history of political stagecraft and media manipulation.

In “Stagecraft and Statecraft: Advance and Media Events in Political Communication”, Dan Schill writes:

There is a complicated relationship between newsmakers and the journalists that cover their activities. [Philip] Seib reviews this relationship: “The journalists try to gather information, the politicians try to shape the news. This process tends to become a struggle for control over the information. Reporters can gather plenty of newsworthy material on their own, but they also need some cooperation from the candidates and staff members. Any major campaign will offer a rich diet of media events, but real news is often in short supply.” While the relationship can be adversarial, it is largely symbiotic — what is good for the candidate is usually also what is good for the reporter. Both campaigns and the news media want a compelling narrative, compelling pictures, and large audiences… Reporters rarely deviate from the news narrative that has been established. Especially at the presidential level, politicians can control the rules of engagement and “freeze out” reporters who do not follow those rules. According to [Tim] Cook, “Reporters, dependent on presidents’ cooperation, end up prisoners in the all but hermetically sealed pressroom, reluctant to roam far from their connection to fame and fortune in the news business. Instead of encouraging innovation and enterprise, the White House breeds concern among reporters about missing out on the story that everyone else is chasing.” Members of the news media should recognize this relationship and understand the factors that allow newsmakers to exploit this relationship, control the news agenda, and receive favorable coverage.

Go back to Timothy Crouse’s 1972 book, “Boys on the Bus,” about that year’s presidential campaign and reporters are complaining about “media events” and message control.

Or fast forward to the Reagan years and press complaints about Reagan’s mastery of political television and the importance of image over substance and you have, largely, the same phenomenon. It’s just different technology these days.

This isn’t to suggest that sit downs with the president aren’t important. They most certainly are. But the tug and pull between administrations and journalists is well known and well understood. It’s the journalist’s job to inform the public and if the only way they can do that is to get the coveted presidential interview they’re not doing that job well.  

To blame techniques such as social outreach and content creation by non-media actors is to cling to a traditional information flow that media modernity has long eclipsed.

We’re well into a new day and a new age. Instead of griping about it, change your tactics. There’s a whole lot of important reporting to do. — Michael

Related, Part 01: The Seven Secrets of Political Theater.

Related, Part 02The Staging of a Photo-Op.

Images: Selected questions by Politico’s Mike Allen during his 2008 interview with George W. Bush, as posted to Twitter by Gawker’s John Cook. Complete interview transcript via Politico. Select to embiggen.

In fact, that’s one of the biggest problems we’ve got in how folks report about Washington right now, because I think journalists rightly value the appearance of impartiality and objectivity. And so the default position for reporting is to say, “A plague on both their houses.” On almost every issue, it’s, “Well, Democrats and Republicans can’t agree” — as opposed to looking at why is it that they can’t agree. Who exactly is preventing us from agreeing?

Barack Obama in an exclusive interview with The New Republic, (which was redesigned and relaunched today). Worth the read. Of course, some interpreted and reported Obama’s comments as purely an attack on Fox. We recommend instead, that you read Poynter’s summary and context.

Foreign Media on Obama’s Second Term
The LA Times compiled foreign media perspectives on Obama’s second term. And so we made a wordle (word cloud) out of all of the articles they referenced. 
Word Cloud (n.): the mullet of the internet. 

Foreign Media on Obama’s Second Term

The LA Times compiled foreign media perspectives on Obama’s second term. And so we made a wordle (word cloud) out of all of the articles they referenced. 

Word Cloud (n.): the mullet of the internet

A Minute-by-Minute Look at Twitter Volume for Obama’s First & Second Inaugurations
WSJ:


President Barack Obama’s second inauguration was scaled back from his first in terms of cost and scale. But it outshined his 2009 inauguration in one major way: how it played out on social media. There were 1.1 million inauguration-related tweets sent during the ceremony, up from about 82,000 in 2009, according to Twitter’s Government and Politics Team.
The most viral moment of President Obama’s speech was when he said, “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle…name calling as a substitute for debate,” which elicited 27,795 tweets per minute. Another high point was when he began his inaugural address after taking the ceremonial oath of office. That inspired 24,760 tweets per minute, compared to 3,210 back in 2009. Twitter had a much smaller number of users in 2009.


Image: via WSJ

A Minute-by-Minute Look at Twitter Volume for Obama’s First & Second Inaugurations

WSJ:

President Barack Obama’s second inauguration was scaled back from his first in terms of cost and scale. But it outshined his 2009 inauguration in one major way: how it played out on social media. There were 1.1 million inauguration-related tweets sent during the ceremony, up from about 82,000 in 2009, according to Twitter’s Government and Politics Team.

The most viral moment of President Obama’s speech was when he said, “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle…name calling as a substitute for debate,” which elicited 27,795 tweets per minute. Another high point was when he began his inaugural address after taking the ceremonial oath of office. That inspired 24,760 tweets per minute, compared to 3,210 back in 2009. Twitter had a much smaller number of users in 2009.

Image: via WSJ

Dear Mr. President: Share what you want out of Obama's second term on NPR →

It’s pretty simple to do, and very interesting to explore:

Take a photo of yourself holding a sign with a key word or phrase you want the president to remember.

Then explain, in as many words as you want, what you mean and see yourself here.

President Obama “maintained the top spot” among world leaders on Twitter per number of followers, having added 15 million followers during an election year. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in second place, added two million followers. Turkish President Abdullah Gül also added two millon followers and sits at third.

Alex Fitzpatrick, Mashable. You Can Tweet at 75% of the World’s Leaders.

See the above link for a detailed account of world leaders on Twitter. Obama, whose post-election victory photo became the most retweeted post in history, leads by number of followers.

But that isn’t necessarily surprising. What is surprising is the number of non-democratic, “instable” nations that have a leader online. While they appear near the bottom by popularity, there are many Central Asian and African governments that, until recently, have largely viewed social media as a threat.

Also interesting: who isn’t on Twitter. For one, there’s China’s Xi Jinping, who doesn’t want his citizens on the site, or Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And, sorry to say, the Dragon King of Bhutan is nowhere to be found.

Color Would Be Helpful
Via Flowing Data.

Color Would Be Helpful

Via Flowing Data.

Big Data, Demographics and the Undiscovered Voter
The New York Times has a great piece on the final six weeks of the presidential campaign.
There’s a lot in there in terms of strategies, momentum and setbacks but the use of data and demographics is eye opening:

In Chicago, the [Obama] campaign recruited a team of behavioral scientists to build an extraordinarily sophisticated database packed with names of millions of undecided voters and potential supporters. The ever-expanding list let the campaign find and register new voters who fit the demographic pattern of Obama backers and methodically track their views through thousands of telephone calls every night.
That allowed the Obama campaign not only to alter the very nature of the electorate, making it younger and less white, but also to create a portrait of shifting voter allegiances. The power of this operation stunned Mr. Romney’s aides on election night, as they saw voters they never even knew existed turn out in places like Osceola County, Fla. “It’s one thing to say you are going to do it; it’s another thing to actually get out there and do it,” said Brian Jones, a senior adviser.

New York Times, How a Race in the Balance Went to Obama.
Image: An Obama victory party in Manchester, NH, via the New York Times.

Big Data, Demographics and the Undiscovered Voter

The New York Times has a great piece on the final six weeks of the presidential campaign.

There’s a lot in there in terms of strategies, momentum and setbacks but the use of data and demographics is eye opening:

In Chicago, the [Obama] campaign recruited a team of behavioral scientists to build an extraordinarily sophisticated database packed with names of millions of undecided voters and potential supporters. The ever-expanding list let the campaign find and register new voters who fit the demographic pattern of Obama backers and methodically track their views through thousands of telephone calls every night.

That allowed the Obama campaign not only to alter the very nature of the electorate, making it younger and less white, but also to create a portrait of shifting voter allegiances. The power of this operation stunned Mr. Romney’s aides on election night, as they saw voters they never even knew existed turn out in places like Osceola County, Fla. “It’s one thing to say you are going to do it; it’s another thing to actually get out there and do it,” said Brian Jones, a senior adviser.

New York Times, How a Race in the Balance Went to Obama.

Image: An Obama victory party in Manchester, NH, via the New York Times.

reuterspolitics:

We took the transcript from the second U.S. presidential debate, dissected the transcript between what Gov. Mitt Romney said and what President Barack Obama said, and ran Romney and Obama’s words through a word cloud generator.

The red word cloud generator represents what Romney said at the debate, while the blue word cloud generator represents what Obama said at the debate.

Cross talk, when audible, was included in the cloud. Inaudible cross talk, as well as words spoken by the audience and moderator Candy Crowley, were omitted.

Read the transcript from the second U.S. presidential debate here

(via reuters)

pewinternet:

Obama Outpaces Romney in Direct Voter Communications on Web, Social Media
At the time of analysis (June 4-17, 2012), the Obama campaign had public accounts on nine separate platforms: Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Spotify and two accounts on Twitter (@BarackObama and @Obama2012).
That is twice that of the Romney campaign, which had public accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Google+. Romney has since expanded his presence, adding accounts on Tumblr and Spotify.
 The Obama campaign is also substantially more active in these domains. Across all the platforms studied, the Obama campaign posted nearly four times as much content as the Romney campaign-614 Obama posts compared with 168 posts for Romney.The gap in activity was greatest on Twitter. Romney averaged one tweet a day. Obama averaged 29 tweets a day, (17 per day on @BarackObama, the Twitter Account associated with his presidency, and 12 on @Obama2012).
New analysis from the Project for Excellence in Journalism: Read more

pewinternet:

Obama Outpaces Romney in Direct Voter Communications on Web, Social Media

At the time of analysis (June 4-17, 2012), the Obama campaign had public accounts on nine separate platforms: Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Spotify and two accounts on Twitter (@BarackObama and @Obama2012).

That is twice that of the Romney campaign, which had public accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Google+. Romney has since expanded his presence, adding accounts on Tumblr and Spotify.

 The Obama campaign is also substantially more active in these domains. Across all the platforms studied, the Obama campaign posted nearly four times as much content as the Romney campaign-614 Obama posts compared with 168 posts for Romney.

The gap in activity was greatest on Twitter. Romney averaged one tweet a day. Obama averaged 29 tweets a day, (17 per day on @BarackObama, the Twitter Account associated with his presidency, and 12 on @Obama2012).

New analysis from the Project for Excellence in Journalism: Read more