Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

Phone hacking and the HuffPost’s list of journalism scandals.

July 9, 2011

This British phone-hacking business is nothing new. If you didn’t read Vanity Fair’s timely article on the subject just weeks before the latest scandal, you must check it out. It provides context to understand the gravity behind Prime Minister Cameron’s comment that authorities should follow the scandal “wherever it goes.” If the authorities do their job, it appears some in Scotland Yard could be in serious trouble as well.

The fact that James Murdoch shuttered News of the World, a 168-year-old paper, immediately should be even more reason to look into all other media sources. One of the biggest newspapers in the world, and one with such a history, should be worth fighting for. It was just one arm of a media empire that is interconnected and heavily managed from the top down. That arm was amputated quickly in a public display of bravado, and I think it had more to do with getting out of the airy scrutiny of the hospital gown and hiding a terminal illness in the entire industry. We’ll see how well that works out for him.

In the spirit, The Huffington Post lists “10 Jaw-Dropping Journalism Scandals

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James Franco writes a good piece on young Allen Ginsberg

September 13, 2010

I hadn’t read it till now, but it’s in the September Vanity Fair. It’s nothing ground-breaking, and perhaps not noteworthy, but I liked it because it is clean and direct.

AP: USA Today “de-emphasizes” print edition, to can 9 percent of staff

August 26, 2010

The second biggest newspaper in the country is realigning to emphasize mobile publishing, and laying off about 130 employees in the process, according to the AP

USA Today shaking up staff in ‘radical’ overhaul

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE (AP) – SAN FRANCISCO — USA Today, the nation’s second largest newspaper, is making the most dramatic overhaul of its staff in its 28-year history as it de-emphasizes its print edition and ramps up its effort to reach more readers and advertisers on mobile devices.

 The makeover outlined Thursday will result in about 130 layoffs this fall, USA Today Publisher Dave Hunke told The Associated Press. That translates into a 9 percent reduction in USA Today’s work force of 1,500 employees. Hunke didn’t specify which departments would be hardest hit.

The layoffs are not a surprise, it is a Gannett paper after all. But these schemes… I see problems. First, the paper might attempt to surmount the small issue of its rather poor quality before thoughts of storming the World Wide Webs take hold. I’ve met a lot of editors, and none nearly so self-righteous as unnamed USA Today editor. The goal, as I understand it, is to plaster articles with “infographics,” and that USA Today does well.  How will they cover their shame with graphics when some mobile devices don’t support them? Second, we demand more stories like this:

(geekologie had the screenshot)

Journalism Warning Labels

August 24, 2010

I just checked Chris O’Dowd’s (The IT Crowd) Twitter for the first time and saw something great:

http://www.tomscott.com/warnings/

It seems a bit strange to me that the media carefully warn about and label any content that involves sex, violence or strong language — but there’s no similar labelling system for, say, sloppy journalism and other questionable content.

I figured it was time to fix that, so I made some stickers. I’ve been putting them on copies of the free papers that I find on the London Underground. You might want to as well.

A sheet of stickers.

The articles these stickers are attached to are used strictly as an illustration: I’m not passing judgment on the specific articles or journalists. Hopefully that’ll stop anyone claiming I’ve libelled them.

Statistics, survey results and/or equations in this article were sponsored by a PR company.

Let’s start with the obvious one. It seems like half the content of the tabloids are made up of this: bits of ‘research’ put out by a PR team with the questionable backing of a cash-strapped university somewhere. Ben Goldacre talks about this much more competently than I ever could.

I’m not sure how these newspapers would fill their pages without these.

This article is basically just a press release, copied and pasted.

Oh yeah, that’s what they use. I forgot.

There are a bunch more that I didn’t copy over, but they are all incredibly necessary, and printable if you download the template.

A well-put dispatch on Hitchens from Sydney

August 19, 2010

The Sydney Morning Herald had a good, short piece of commentary about Christopher Hitchens by one Richard Cooke. Read the entire thing, but I like this part:

Death is a country with no correspondents, and even from its borders strangely few of our best writers have sent anything back along the wires. Marcel Proust is supposed to have rushed to get a pen when he realised he was dying – he wanted to write down what it was like – but most others have been too short of time, or fixated on a task not finished, scared, deluded or enfeebled to give us a close-up instead of a wide shot. There’s no Vaseline on Hitchens’s lens, not even now.

What matters most is how well you walk through the fire. — Charles Bukowski

The Daily Beast pantses Viacom CEO

July 21, 2010

I admit to watching CNBC earlier today only for the fact that the senseless jabbering–for a short period of time–hit on a great story: The Daily Beast received a call from 140-year-old party-boy CEO Sumner Redstone.

A while back, Peter Lauria at The Beast broke a story about Redstone, reporting that he pressured MTV to run a series about his “friends,” a big-brestessessed girl band called “The Electric Barbarellas.” Read the entire piece if you haven’t. It is hilarious.

But now Redstone is taking his dirty old man act a bit too far. The Daily Beast has learned that Redstone is so smitten with a scantily clad new all-girl group dubbed the Electric Barbarellas that he has paid to fly its six members out to New York to meet with record labels—and forced MTV to shoot a pilot for a reality-TV series about the group that he wants the network to air. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the show and music are so bad that MTV Networks executives, including CEO Judy McGrath, object to it—and Redstone’s insistence that they develop the project anyway may soon lead to her departure.

Lauria spoke to internal sources who said, among other things, that Redstone has spent half-a-million dollars pitching the girl band to record labels, and that the band is horrible–the raunchier, “not as musically gifted” cousin to the Pussycat Dolls. The EBs apparently complained to Redstone about that.

Then, this week Redstone did something silly. He left a long, weird voicemail offering to pay/protect The Daily Beast to name names on who snitched. Any self-respecting journalist would have done the normal thing–quietly take the money (I keed, I keed)–but The Beast has apparently not gotten the memo. They posted the voicemail online.

Personally, I think it’s a gutsy move that shows journalistic integrity and sheds light on the type of behind-the-scene angry calls papers get from their targets. Redstone’s no slouch… to the unaquainted, pissing him off would be akin to pissing off Ted Turner. The man has giraffe money, a chip on his shoulder and that drunken knifefighter gleam in his eye. I wonder if there is any other publication that would have done this.

If you disagree with my praise, know this. CNBC’s squawking contrarian indicator thought Lauria overstepped the line, saying something along the lines of “he won’t be working in this city again.” The rub, I gather, is that Redstone should have said the voicemail is off the record. The hell he should have. We all know a threat/bribe like that is not a “and you can quote me on that” moment. But it’s news, it’s how a CEO decided to play, and it sheds light into an ethical issue every journalist should think about. The Beast pantsed him, and he probably likes it for the attention.

As an aside, it appears the band couldn’t even get an original name, and I don’t mean the Duran Duran song: Another “Electric Barbarellas” is currently five times more popular on Myspace than the 6700-viewed Los Angeles one. Anyways.

Passage of the Day

July 13, 2010

This one’s from Hunter S. Thompson’s Hey Rube, a collection of his early-2000s ESPN columns:

That is the wonderful perversity of gossip in the 21st Century. Nothing is impossible.

Some things are more impossible than others, however, and the collapse of the NBA is one of these. The only thing wrong with the NBA—or any other professional sport, for that matter—is a wild epidemic of Dumbness and overweening Greed. There is no Mystery about it, and no need to change any rules. The NBA’s problem is so clear that even children can see it—especially high school basketball stars, half-bright manchild phenomena who don’t need college Professors to teach them the difference between Money and Fun.

Taibbi weighs in

July 1, 2010

After CBS’s Lara Logan slammed Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings for not hiding from the public much of what he saw, Matt Taibbi fought back.

Lara Logan, come on down! You’re the next guest on Hysterical Backstabbing Jealous Hackfest 2010!

I thought I’d seen everything when I read David Brooks saying out loud in a New York Times column that reporters should sit on damaging comments to save their sources from their own idiocy. But now we get CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan slamming our own Michael Hastings on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” program, agreeing that the Rolling Stone reporter violated an “unspoken agreement” that journalists are not supposed to “embarrass [the troops] by reporting insults and banter.”

Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn’t mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan.

Taibbi is pretty much right. The day we find a reporter working in his subject’s best interest is the day he becomes irrelevant. Let me rephrase that: … is the day he should become irrelevant. Anyone who believes journalism is a game of give-and-take between covering for your subject and reporting for the public should stick to the sidelines. If someone makes a substantial comment in front of a reporter–in this case much more than salty insults and banter–it is fair game for reporting. Just because there was swearing doesn’t mean it was mere banter. Besides, we trust reporters to tell us what they find out, not what will get the reporter more jobs covering the military. As Taibbi lays out, the Pentagon has one of the biggest PR budgets on earth. They don’t need reporters to lie for them.

If you haven’t actually read the Rolling Stone article on former Gen. McChrystal, please do. I was surprised McChrystal got canned over it.

Also, Taibbi gains points for not laying into Logan’s personal dilemma on this particular issue.

Real Good Moments in Journalism

May 5, 2010

Late Links:  If I had a nickel for every time I rented a gay escort to help me with post-surgery luggage-lifting I’d be homophobic Family Research Council co-founder George Rekers.    NSFW: Florida State Senator Mike Bennett caught on camera looking at porn on Senate floor.    Cleavage Tuesday: Christina Hendricks, Bar Refaeli, Rachel Bilson,   Pretty In Print: Bar Refaeli And Miranda Kerr in V; Madonna in Interview; Helena Mattsson in Maxim; Eva Wyrwal in Nuts.   Heather Morris is gleefully nude.   Helena Christensen is Reebokingly naked.    Get To Know A Hottie: Candice Cardinele.    International Beauty of the Day: Anna Sedokova.   BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin 32% Beer: The Epic Unboxing. (via.)    Celebuzz: The 2010 Met Costume Institute Gala Is Celeb Glamapalooza.    Frisky: 14 Celeb Studs’ Steamy Shower Scenes.    Late List: 40 Cougars Who Age Like Wine.  [image: failblog.]

Some graduating senior fun at the ol’ college newspaper. That degree will adequately prepare you for your new career in retail.

Also, it’s real… here are the links:

The N, The P, The E, The SThe I.

Music journalism in Vancouver is by no means well

April 19, 2010

Vancouver’s weekly entertainment guide, the Straight, has a seriously malfunctioning music section. I’m just throwing it out there as I’ve spent many weekends up in Vancouver, and have never found a good issue of the Straight’s music section. I’ve tried, and in the beginning I thought it might be possible Vancouver didn’t have a music scene. It turned out the paper just inadequately covers it. Wouldn’t bring it up, but I wish better things for such an awesome city.

This weekend there was a pitiful anonymously written rant about an artist (La Roux) who stood up the interviewer, not once, but OMG twice!!1! Here’s how it started:

Hey, here’s a tip for all you musicians out there, up-and-coming and otherwise: if you don’t want to piss off the people whose job it is to convey information about you to the public—in other words, the lowly class known as music journalists—it’s best to refrain from repeatedly jerking said people around.

It ends with Anonymous Newswriter calling La Roux a “fucking skrag” and insinuating her music’s bad because she wouldn’t interview. That wouldn’t fly in a community college newspaper, let alone a city that just hosted the Olympics. At least some of the commenters gave Anonymous Newswriter a little hell for it. If this were posted in The Stranger (Seattle’s paper), it would come across as a fake rant to poke fun at music writers–no way it could be real.

But in Vancouver, it’s real. And if I hadn’t checked online before I left the states, I would have missed a concert, ’cause the Straight didn’t have space for it with posts about Lady Gaga concerts in freaking August. Someone help Vancouver… there’s a kick-ass music scene with no journalists to cover it.

Decade-Overdue AP Style Change: “Web site” Now “website”

April 16, 2010

The Associated Press tweeted a huge change today. Well, actually I think they tried to tweet yesterday but first someone was using their phone line then they forgot their AOL internet password. But finally, in a move that should have happened in 1995, the AP announced today that “Web site” is now “website.” The tweet from APStylebook:

“Responding to reader input, we are changing Web site to website. This appears on Stylebook Online today and in the 2010 book next month. about 3 hours ago via CoTweet

AP Style is THE set of rules journalists are required to follow, and Web site was one of the dumbest of the rules. That’s as in “World Wide Web,” and yes you are supposed to capitalize that when you talk about it, just as you capitalize Internet. You do that, don’t you? No?

The AP style police are throwing a few other ideas around, including whether to allow “Mac” when referring to what should be called an “Apple Macintosh computer,” and whether Bomar is yet such a household name  that one need not say “Bomar portable electronic calculator” when referring to the brand.

Welcome to a bigger world Associated Press, get online and defend yourself ’cause John McCain’s clowning your Myspace.

Opinion pages picking up where governments fear to tread

April 13, 2010

Great ‘drawn word’ by Carmen Cerra at the Ames Tribune. 

This pope issue is gathering steam among a few in the media, and there’s a revolutionary atmosphere to some opinion pieces that I haven’t seen in a long time. Richard Dawkins joined Christopher Hitchens in opining that the pope should be arrested when he goes to Britain. Hitchens, of course, is actively working toward that goal. I am not to be seen as saying I support or oppose that move, as I leave that to the professionals (and the Catholics). Besides, I’m a live-and-let-live person when it comes to religion. I likes my religion and my government separate, but I have no hate for people passionate about their faith. For that reason, I stay out of the fray, even when horrible decisions come to light. There are enough bloggers out there on that beat.

But in a world where it seems no single government is going to take a stance on this issue, I am glad to see some real passion in the Opinion pages.

The decline of photojournalism

March 30, 2010

NY Times reporting on the decline of photojournalism. Declining print revenues, folding magazines, and amateurs willing to sell photos for next to nothing.

“Pages are at a premium, and there’s more competition to get anything into a magazine now, and the bar is just higher for excellent work,” said Bill Shapiro, the editor of Life.com, who ran the print revival of Life before Time Inc. shut it in 2007. And that is for the publications that survived — 428 magazines closed in 2009 alone, according to the publication database MediaFinder.com, including ones that regularly assigned original photography, like Gourmet, Portfolio and National Geographic Adventure.

Lower expectations + unlimited photographs = a decent photo somewhere. The problem is, decent should not be good enough for a magazine or newspaper. And photojournalism–real photojournalism– is hard to replicate. A sunset in Florida where the photographer managed not to get his finger in the photo should not be enough. It is hard as hell to get the real story across in a photo, espcially in a way both artistic and emotional. That is why stock footage used to be the realm of constipation commercials–no one wants the real story there.

But still, if the reporting must decline, then perhaps it is natural that photo-reporting should fall with it.

Real Good Moments in Journalism

March 15, 2010

This has been one of the weirder journalism developments in a while.

So what’s wrong with creating a mock invasion by Russia on your regularly scheduled national newscast? And, why not, in your “what if” scenario, report that one of the political parties is in cahoots with Russia in the invasion? The opposition party claims Georgia’s president is behind the broadcast. The NY Times reports:

Looking nervous and fumbling with papers as if juggling the chaos of a breaking news story, the anchor announced that sporadic fighting had begun on the streets of Tbilisi, the capital, that Russian bombers were airborne and heading for Georgia, that troops were skirmishing to the west and that a tank battalion was reported to be on the move.

The broadcast showed tanks rumbling down a road, billowing exhaust, along with jerky images of a fighter jet racing out of the sky and dropping bombs.

Thirty minutes of purposeful fear manipulation. Unlike War of the Worlds, the newscast could have had a banner announcing it was fake, instead of a quick disclaimer beforehand. No one seems to deny that. Here’s how the Georgian president apparently reacts:

As for Saakashvili, he said that while the report was ‘unpleasant’ and should have carried a banner saying it was a simulation throughout, the really unpleasant thing was that such a scenario could happen and the threat of a Russian invasion was real.

“But the major unpleasant thing about the yesterday’s report – and I want everyone to realize it well – was that this report is maximally close to reality and maximally close to what may really happen, or to what Georgia’s enemy keeps in mind,” website civil.ge quoted him as saying on Georgian television.

First, the entire thing is disgraceful, regardless of who planned it and who allowed it. Any journalist who took part in this should quit. Second, it hits home: It feels like a parody, albeit an extreme and shameful one, of how our media and our politicians behave. Of course here the stations would make a more nuanced attack on our collective fear, but the distorted line between political propaganda and news wobbles every day on some of our biggest news outlets. And third, how would you feel if it had been a fake report showing U.S. planes starting war? Russia’s no blushing innocent, but this has to have done massive (intentional?) damage to the tense relationship between those two countries.

Quasi gets extra press out of WaPo error threepeat

March 4, 2010

After a review of Quasi’s new album, American Gong, the Washington Post’s editor had to make three corrections. That’s a lot for three paragraphs of mostly opinion. The main issue was that allmusic.com had an error. Amusing article about the mistakes and allmusic.com’s pervasive use in the music journalism industry here.

All that aside, Quasi’s a terrifffffic band and this new one is their best ever.

Hilarious NYT error, as pointed out by WaPo

March 4, 2010

See if you can find it: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/technology/images/NYT-Clinton-Photo-Caption.jpg

Great article on the Exile, Ames and Taibbi

February 25, 2010

Vanity Fair has a twisted article on the twisted paper that was the Exile. Matt Taibbi is honestly the best former Mongolian basketball player there is in the political reporting arena today. His main contribution to the article is throwing coffee in the reporter’s face for disliking his book. The rest of the article is great too. If you like it, Mark Ames and many of the rest, exiled from Russia, are in the U.S. putting the paper online as exiledonline.com.

NYT on the news/politics industry’s paranoid leader

January 10, 2010

“I built this business to throw off a billion dollars in profit,” Mr. Ailes said. “That was the goal from Day 1. In my own mind.”

Greedy, partisan, brutal, afraid. Roger Ailes is a summation of the news media’s current sad state. He lays claim to the territory of journalism outsider while pulling the strings of news control. David Carr and Tim Arrango of the New York Times do a pretty good job with this subject.

Real Good Moments in Journalism

December 29, 2009

Someone fell for it. wow.

Here’s the paper’s online edition, which apparently had the caption on it for a while as well. Need a litte more proof? Try ‘save as’ on that picture–it’s called Haywood.

Music reviewing 101

December 28, 2009

“I like everything! You know everything? I love it. You know books? I like all of them.” That’s paraphrased from random banter on the super-rad British music gameshow, Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I’m not  sure why I’m gunning for Yorkshire twice in one day… maybe because it’s a slow day. I originally saw a good book article I was going to link to, then decided against it once I saw all of this nonsense. I’m relatively sure there’s someone there responsible for the arts section, and he or she should consider cutting the star system and/or giving the reviewers some input on the way it’s supposed to be used. Otherwise, it’s York University Chamber Choir 1, Gary Neuman 0.

I’m not from the UK. Just wanted to get that out of the way, as maybe this is just a culture thing. But I have spent a little time in the dismal world of music journalism (the single biggest factor in my deciding to leave journalism, akshully). A four-star album or concert is a rare event. A reviewer will see a five-star show only a few times a decade, if the reviewer’s lucky. Or maybe a few more five-star reviews if the overlords say that’s what it takes to sell ad space.

But here’s how they roll in Yorkshire:

  • Review: Leeds Festival Chorus and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Simon Wright *****
  • Review: Pascal Roge ****
  • Review: The Mars Volta *****
  • Review: Orchestra of Opera North ****
  • Review: Joe Bonamassa ****
  • Review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs *****
  • Review: Gary Numan ***
  • Review: Manchester Camerata, Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus ****
  • Review: Arctic Monkeys ***