BY PRESS FREEDOM
COMEDY CENTRAL FORCES YOU TUBE TO TAKE
DOWN CLIPS of DAILY SHOW AND COLBERT
JEFF, SLASHDOT - I received a
couple of emails from You Tube this afternoon notifying me that
a third party (probably attorneys for Comedy Central) had made
a DMCA request to take down Colbert Report and Daily Show clips.
If you visit You Tube, all Daily Show, Colbert Report and South
Park clips now show "This video has been removed due to
For a long time, Comedy Central
has passively allowed the sharing of online clips of its shows-because
let's face it, it's helped them generate the kind of water cooler
talk that has made them a ton of money. In this Wired Interview,
Jon Stewart and the Daily Show Executive Producer even encouraged
viewers to watch the show on the Internet:
||| Karlin: If people want to
take the show in various forms, I'd say go. . . The one thing
that you have control over is the content of the show. But how
people are reacting to it, how it's being shared, how it's being
discussed, all that other stuff, is absolutely beyond your ability
Stewart: I'm surprised people
don't have cables coming out of their asses, because that's going
to be a new thing. You're just going to get it directly fed into
you. I look at systems like the Internet as a convenience. I
look at it as the same as cable or anything else. Everything
is geared toward more individualized consumption. Getting it
off the Internet is no different than getting it off TV.|||
But apparently, all good things
come to an end when there is money and attorneys involved. I
assume the only online clips that will remain will have to qualify
under fair use - probably short clips, with social or political
CHARLIE ROSE SHILLS FOR WAL-MART
MICHAEL BARBARO, NY TIMES - It
was a coup even for Charlie Rose, whose mood-lit television studio
can be a revolving door for movie stars and heads of state: an
interview with the camera-shy chief executive of Wal-Mart Stores,
H. Lee Scott Jr. The television talk show host Charlie Rose,
top, found Wal-Mart's recent environmental initiative a prime
subject for questions to H. Lee Scott, chief executive of the
big retailer. So Mr. Rose made the most of it, driving to New
Jersey to speak with Mr. Scott in the executive's comfort zone,
the aisles of a Wal-Mart store. During the interview, which was
broadcast on Aug. 1, Mr. Rose repeatedly asked Mr. Scott about
his favorite topic, Wal-Mart's new environmental initiative.
Now, less than three months later,
Mr. Rose is honoring Mr. Scott for his work on behalf of the
environment at a private dinner party in Manhattan, paid for
by Bob and Harvey Weinstein's production company, the Weinstein
Company. Mr. Rose's name appeared as a host, alongside that of
Bob Wright, chief executive of NBC Universal; James L. Dolan,
chief executive of Cablevision Systems; and a dozen other prominent
figures from the New York media and financial industries.
The timing of interview and dinner
raised the eyebrows of Michael Getler, the ombudsman at PBS,
which distributes Mr. Rose's talk show. "Don't do this,"
was Mr. Getler's unsolicited advice to Mr. Rose. . .
Mr. Rose does not see a conflict.
"If I go somewhere and do something that is an appreciation
of somebody I have interviewed in the past, that is not a conflict
of interest," he said in a telephone interview, noting that
he has interviewed 20,000 people. "I have no relationship
with Wal-Mart," he said. "I did one show with Wal-Mart.
YOU MAY BE PAYING FOR FOX
NEWS WHETHER YOU WANT IT OR NOT
DCRTV, DC - The word is that
Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel is hiking its subscriber fee
to cable systems by 50 to 75-cents, to about $1 per month. And
that NYC-based Cablevision has agreed to pay the hike. Which
it will, of course, pass along to its subscribers in the form
of an annual rate hike. Next up to deal with Murdoch - area cable
giant Comcast, which is the nation's largest cable TV company.
Also "in play" in the negotiations are continued carriage
of Murdoch's many other channels like Speed, FX, Fox Sports,
and National Geographic. . . Before you get too upset at Murdoch,
remember that you're paying $2 more per month to Orioles owner
Peter Angelos to see his Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.
THE POWER OF YOU TUBE
PATRICK GOLDSTEIN, LA TIMES - Welcome to the new media universe, where
for millions of video junkies, the best TV network in America
isn't Comedy Central, MTV, ESPN or even HBO, but You Tube, the
amazing website whose video clips are viewed more than 100 million
times each day. Launched last year, the website has enjoyed an
astounding ascent, being bought last week by Google for $1.65
billion. In an era increasingly defined by audience-driven events,
You Tube represents the triumph of bottom-up culture and another
sign that old media businesses, from record companies and TV
networks to newspapers like The Times, are going to see more
of their audience migrating to the Internet. . .
When I heard that Barbra Streisand
had cursed out a heckler at her Madison Square Garden concert,
I didn't go to CNN - I clicked on You Tube. Sure enough, a fan
had immediately posted a video of La Streisand cussing like a
The impact of this instantaneous
access has been earthshaking, from politics to pop culture. Speaking
at a conference in Paris last week, Disney-ABC Television Group
President Anne Sweeney minced few words about how thoroughly
the landscape has been altered. "The digital revolution
has unleashed a consumer coup," she said. "Audiences
have the upper hand and show no sign of giving it back."
You Tube is already having an
impact on this year's election cycle. In years past, political
candidates were sold essentially in the same way as movie stars
- in carefully staged settings and market-tested ads. Now the
scripted veneer has been stripped away by young volunteers, armed
with video cameras, who stalk opposition candidates, record their
gaffes and post them on You Tube, not unlike the way the Smoking
Gun displays embarrassing photos of badly behaved celebrities.
While some fans are justifiably
worried that the sale of You Tube to Google will usher in the
kind of advertising clutter rampant at MySpace, which looks like
the Web equivalent of a Sunset Strip billboard forest, most of
You Tube's troubles have arisen from media companies who view
video sharing as an attack on their copyrights and business models.
Earlier this year, NBC forced the site to remove "Lazy Sunday,"
believing fans should have to go to the network's website to
view it, apparently unaware that the young guys watching the
clip on You Tube were the same guys who'd already stopped watching
"SNL" and network TV in general.
This summer, NBC announced a
marketing arrangement with You Tube, which was followed by licensing
deals with CBS, Warner Music and Sony BMG Music. But the Wall
Street Journal reported Saturday that lawyers from News Corp.,
NBC Universal and Viacom still believe You Tube could be liable
for copyright penalties of $150,000 per unauthorized video. Viacom,
for example, claims that clips from its channels (including MTV
and Comedy Central) are watched 80,000 times a day on You Tube,
meaning potential penalties could run into the billions. . .
Two days after the Clinton-Wallace
dust-up, Fox News forced You Tube to yank clips of the interview,
claiming copyright infringement, apparently unhappy that so much
traffic was going to You Tube instead of Fox News' own site.
But a day later the clip was back up.
[Please note that the Review
is one of the few media publications still written in English.
Thus we translate words like YouTube into their English equivalent:
NEWSWEEK COLUMNIST ATTENDED
MEETING TO PLAN BUSH POST-9/11 STRATEGY
JULIE BOSMAN, NY TIMES - In his
new book, "State of Denial," [Bob Woodward] writes
that on Nov. 29, 2001, a dozen policy makers, Middle East experts
and members of influential policy research organizations gathered
in Virginia at the request of Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy
secretary of defense. Their objective was to produce a report
for President Bush and his cabinet outlining a strategy for dealing
with Afghanistan and the Middle East in the aftermath of 9/11.
What was more unusual, Mr. Woodward
reveals, was the presence of journalists at the meeting. Fareed
Zakaria, the editor of Newsweek International and a Newsweek
columnist, and Robert D. Kaplan, now a national correspondent
for The Atlantic Monthly, attended the meeting and, according
to Mr. Kaplan, signed confidentiality agreements not to discuss
what happened. . . Mr. Zakaria takes issue with Mr. Woodward's
account, saying that while he attended the meeting for several
hours, he does not recall being told that a report would be produced.
"I thought it was a brainstorming session," he said.
"I was never told that there was going to be a document
summarizing our views and I have never seen such a document."
Mr. Kaplan said much of the meeting
was spent drafting and reworking the document, which in the end
carried the names of all 12 participants and was "a forceful
summary of some of the best pro-war arguments at the time."
Could any of the participants have been unaware there was a document
in the making? "No, that's not possible," he said.
Mr. Kaplan, who was then a freelancer at The Atlantic Monthly,
said he spoke to his editor before attending, and was given approval
to attend because "everybody was in a patriotic fervor."
Mr. Zakaria said he felt participating was appropriate because
his views, as a columnist for Newsweek, were public, although
he has never divulged his involvement to his readers.
BIG BIAS OF PBS NEWSHOUR CALCULATED IN REPORT
RADIO STATIONS LOSING LISTENERS
RICHARD SIKLOS, NY TIMES - While
more than 9 out of 10 Americans still listen to traditional radio
each week, they are listening less. And the industry is having
to confront many challenges . . . including streaming audio,
podcasting, iPods and Howard Stern on satellite radio. As a result,
the prospects of radio companies have dimmed significantly since
the late 1990's, when broadcast barons were tripping over themselves
to buy more stations. Radio revenue growth has stagnated and
the number of listeners is dropping. The amount of time people
tune into radio over the course of a week has fallen by 14 percent
over the last decade, according to Arbitron ratings. Over the
last three years, the stocks of the five largest publicly traded
radio companies are down between 30 percent and 60 percent as
investors wonder when the industry will bottom out.
ANDERSON COOPER WAS WITH THE CIA
RADAR - Anderson Cooper has long
traded on his biography, carving a niche for himself as the most
human of news anchors. But there's one aspect of his past that
the silver-haired CNN star has never made public: the months
he spent training for a career with the Central Intelligence
Agency. Following his sophomore and junior years at Yale - a
well-known recruiting ground for the CIA - Cooper spent his summers
interning at the agency's monolithic headquarters in Langley,
Virginia, in a program for students interested in intelligence
work. His involvement with the agency ended there, and he chose
not to pursue a job with the agency after graduation, according
to a CNN spokeswoman, who confirmed details of Cooper's CIA involvement
to Radar. . .
He has kept the experience a
secret, sources say, out of concern that, if widely known, it
might compromise his ability to travel in foreign countries and
even possibly put him at greater risk from terrorists. . .
. "It creates the appearance
of something smelly there," says a former CNN official who
knows Cooper. . . According to the spokeswoman, Cooper told his
bosses at CNN about his time with the agency. But even if he
hadn't, says Walter Isaacson, who headed the network from 2001
to 2003 and is now president of the Aspen Institute, it's not
the sort of thing that would automatically require disclosure,
since the stint was brief and far in the past. "I think
what he did was probably fine and cool, and I've got no problems
with it," he added.
WHY DANIEL HERNANDEZ LEFT THE LA TIMES
FOR THE LA WEEKLY
[LAIST interviews a 25-year-old
latino journalist who moved from the LA Times to the LA Weekly]
Why did you move from the Los
Angeles Times to the LA Weekly? How are the jobs similar and
DANIEL HERNANDEZ - I owe The
Times lots. They taught me so much. They gave me freedom and
room to work, and pushed me to push myself. Everyday the people
there amazed me, their talent and drive. But The Times has a
very clear, very rigid tradition on how to report the news.
Shortly after I got there, I
started having these long, tortured thought sessions with myself
about my participation in the MSM. I saw how the people and places
the paper chose to cover were automatically political decisions
because for every thing you chose to cover there is something
you chose to not cover. I started realizing that the mainstream
style on reporting the news that most papers employ is not really
concerned with depicting the truth, but concerned primarily with
balancing lots of competing agendas and offending the least amount
of interests as possible.
I saw how so much was looked
at from certain assumptions and subtexts, and a very narrow cultural
view. When I raised questions about such things, I was told we
were writing for a "mainstream reader," which I quickly
figured out is basically a euphemism for a middle-aged, middle-class
white registered Democrat homeowner in the Valley. From where
I stand today, I had very little in common with this "mainstream
reader" and I didn't care to be in this person's service.
I wanted to talk across to people, not up or down to people.
I had to get out. . .
The jobs are basically the same:
go out there, report the story, think about it a lot, write,
turn it in, get edited, learn from it, and start all over. It's
been a real challenge. The Weekly is more challenging. At The
Times I was just challenging the institutional and cultural barriers
of an ultimately very conservative place. That was exhausting,
and not very fulfilling. At the Weekly, there's all this freedom,
and that means you have to be more careful and more thoughtful.
GREAT MOMENTS IN MEDIA HYPOCRISY
[The Washington Post pimps for
the Redskins and the Nationals, major real estate interests,
the Washington Board of Trade, its favorite wars and politicians,
and for the other concerns of the capital's decadent establishment.
Which wouldn't be so bad, if its editor wouldn't keep pretending
to be so objective. In the end, true integrity is preferable
to false objectivity any day]
GUARDIAN, UK - Leonard Downie
is not going anywhere. The Post's executive editor has been running
the bulk of the paper - the editorial and comment pages are outside
his remit - for 15 years. He is the longest serving editor of
any major newspaper in the United States, yet remains largely
anonymous outside the industry. . .I will not take positions
on issues, and I have not voted since I became managing editor
in 1984, because I don't want to take a position on local candidates
or political issues. If you come to work here [the newsroom],
you agree to restrictions on your political rights. The only
political act you can exercise in is voting.". . .
WHY DOES TOM FRIEDMAN STILL HAVE A JOB?
ROBERT PARRY, CONSORTIUM NEWS
- New York Times foreign policy analyst Thomas L. Friedman finally
has come to the conclusion that George W. Bush's invasion of
Iraq -- which Friedman enthusiastically supported with the clever
slogan "Give war a chance" -- wasn't such a good idea
"It is now obvious that
we are not midwifing democracy in Iraq. We are babysitting a
civil war," Friedman wrote. "That means 'staying the
course' is pointless, and it's time to start thinking about Plan
B -- how we might disengage with the least damage possible."
Yet, despite this implicit admission
that the war has unnecessarily killed tens of thousands of Iraqis
and more than 2,600 U.S. soldiers, Friedman continues to slight
Americans who resisted the rush to war in the first place.
Twelve days after his shift in
position, Friedman demeaned Americans who opposed the Iraq war
as "anti-war activists who haven't thought a whit about
the larger struggle we're in," presumably a reference to
the threat from Islamic extremism.
In other words, according to
Friedman, Americans who were right about the ill-fated invasion
of Iraq are still airheads when it comes to the bigger picture,
while the pundits and politicians who were dead wrong on Iraq
deserve pats on the back for their wise analyses of the larger
problem. . .
As for Friedman, despite botching
the biggest foreign-policy story in the post-Cold War era, he
retains his prized space on the New York Times op-ed page, which,
in turn, guarantees that his books, even ones with obvious and
pedantic themes, such as "The World Is Flat," jump
to the top of the bestseller lists. . .
Many Iraq war critics, from former
Vice President Al Gore to the hundreds of thousands of Americans
who took to the streets in early 2003, proved they had a more
reasonable strategy on Iraq . . .
LEONARD DOWNIE CENSORS ONE OF HIS REPORTERS
LEORA FALK, NY SUN - The executive
editor of the Washington Post, Leonard Downie Jr., has rebuked
one of his Pulitzer-Prize winning reporters for suggesting on
television that Israel was purposely leaving Hezbollah rockets
in Lebanon "because as long as they're being rocketed, they
can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations."
The action came as Mayor Koch
and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
pressed the Post on the issue. The reporter in question, Thomas
Ricks, is the author of a new book, "Fiasco," sharply
critical of the Bush administration's handling of the war in
Iraq. . .
When CNN's Howard Kurtz asked
if Mr. Ricks was "suggesting that Israel has deliberately
allowed Hezbollah to retain some of its firepower, essentially
for PR purposes, because having Israeli civilians killed helps
them in the public relations war here," Mr. Ricks agreed
that he had heard that from "military analysts."
"I have made clear to Tom
Ricks that he should not have made those statements," Mr.
Downie wrote to Mr. Koch.
Mr. Koch compared Mr. Ricks's
statements to the "the age-old blood libel."
Mr. Ricks told The New York Sun,
"The comments were accurate: that I said I had been told
this by people. I wish I hadn't said them, and I intend from
now on to keep my mouth shut about it."
PANIC AT THE NY TIMES
MICHAEL WOLFF, VANITY FAIR -
Arthur [Sulzberger], on his own say-so, has accomplished a radical
management restructuring of the company. He's consolidated, under
his control, executive, shareholder, and editorial power -subverting
the traditional autonomy of the Times newsroom. Indeed, executive
editor Bill Keller is probably the weakest editor in the history
of the paper. A company with a historically diffident management
structure, where lines of power were always purposefully obtuse,
now has a by-the-book, top-down org chart.
With such a figure-attention-seeking,
immature, verbally feckless -at the center of the stage, it's
hard to maintain a suspension of disbelief, let alone a straight
face, about the rights of the firstborn. (This situation must
have some resonance in the Bush White House.) The Times, with
the scion insisting on his protean leadership, becomes, like
any other corporation, judged by its top executive-it's not stronger
than he is. Except, profoundly complicating matters, if he turns
out to be weak, you can't easily replace this one.
It's Arthur himself who has most
consistently articulated the fragility of the Times-its being-and-nothingness
struggle in the changing media world. He seems so willing to
embrace the sudden-death possibilities of the Information Age,
so willing to disregard the conservative, wait-and-see approach
favored by executives in Rust Belt-like businesses, that you
wonder if there isn't, just a bit, a Munchausen-syndrome-by-proxy
aspect to all of this. He gets to make the crisis; he gets to
rescue the paper. . .
Seeing the Times as an acquisitive,
multi-platform media company puts it, of course, in the same,
ever compromised world of marketing and politicking as all other
media companies. On the eve of the Iraq war-which it covered
with a guilelessness that it has since apologized for-the Times,
along with every other media giant, was petitioning the Bush
F.C.C. to relax media-ownership rules to allow it to greatly
add to its portfolio of television stations. (The Times's last
annual report points to the television duopoly it owns in Oklahoma
as one of its core achievements.). . .
Before scandal and a falling
share price crimped their style, Sulzberger and Raines would
talk openly about what they'd like to take over. They wanted
the Financial Times or The Wall Street Journal and were looking
for cable opportunities. (In 1993, the Times, in some misbegotten
futurist idea that the Northeast was going to unite in a gigantic
megalopolis, anchored by New York and Boston, bought The Boston
Globe, which has performed poorly ever since.) When the chance
arose, they snatched-for almost no logical reason, other than
that they could-control of the International Herald Tribune (an
enterprise with virtually no prospects of being anything more
than a sentimental artifact) from The Washington Post, the Times's
longtime partner in the paper. They did a convoluted deal with
the Discovery network. They bought a piece of the Boston Red
Sox. . .
The Times as we know it, as a
pastiche of its paper self, can't succeed online (the whole idea
that an old-time business can morph seamlessly into a huge, speculative
entrepreneurial enterprise is a kind of quackery). At best, it
might become a specialized Internet player, having to drastically
cut its current, $300 million news budget. What it might providentially
become, however, is About.com, a low-end, high-volume information
producer, warehousing vast amounts of advertiser-targeted data,
harnessing the amateurs and hobbyists and fetishists willing
to produce for a pittance any amount of schlock to feed the page-view
numbers-and already supplying 30 million of the Times's 40 million
unique users.. . .
The fear in the newsroom is that
the first thing to be given up will be bodies-fire enough people
and earnings improve and stock creeps up and that takes immediate
pressure off management. (It's already begun: "There's no
money here," hissed a reporter to me recently in what had
been a little gossip about expense accounts.)
MOTHER JONES IS 30 YEARS OLD
HEIDI BENSON, SF CHRONICLE -
As the 30th anniversary issue of Mother Jones hits the newsstands
this month, the muckraking San Francisco magazine is struggling
to retain a consistent senior staff and find its place amid seismic
changes to the publishing industry. Editor in Chief Russ Rymer,
who came to the job in 2005 with a prestigious background as
a writer and editor, departed in late July. Longtime creative
director Jane Palecek left just days later; soon after, five
staff members were laid off. On Wednesday, Rymer cited "philosophical
differences" as the reason for his departure.
Though the impetus for the latest
resignations and layoffs vary, they all are connected to the
tight financial spot Mother Jones found itself in during the
spring. "Early this year, the company was projecting a significant
cash shortfall, which we have addressed by layoffs and other
cost-cutting measures," said Jay Harris, who has been publisher
of the magazine since 1991. (Further layoffs are not anticipated,
"We're going through the
same struggles facing every print publication," Harris said.
He cited current circulation at 230,000, down 6 percent from
last year and reflecting a decline in both subscriptions and
newsstand sales. . .
In 1976, Mother Jones came out
strong with Mark Dowie's historic expose of the safety hazards
of the Ford Pinto.
In the '80s, the magazine brought
in an unknown from an alternative weekly in Flint, Mich., for
what was a brief stint as editor in chief. It was documentary
filmmaker Michael Moore's first national platform.
Then in 2001, Mother Jones won
the prestigious National Magazine Award for general excellence,
while under the leadership of editor Roger Cohn.
NY TIMES & ESTABLISHMENT
LAWYERS TRASH JUDGE'S ATTEMPT TO MAKE NSA OBEY CONSTITUTION
[This is a highly disturbing
article even in post-constitutional America. The NY Times is
not just reporting what some constitutionally indifferent lawyers
say, it is effectively throwing its weight behind them. These
lawyers are of the sort that will take a bad precedent over a
good bill of rights any day. The problem is that as the country
moves to the right, its legal precedents follow suit.]
ADAM LIPTAK, NY TIMES - Even legal experts who agreed with
a federal judge's conclusion on Thursday that a National Security
Agency surveillance program is unlawful were distancing themselves
from the decision's reasoning and rhetoric yesterday. They said
the opinion overlooked important precedents, failed to engage
the government's major arguments, used circular reasoning, substituted
passion for analysis and did not even offer the best reasons
for its own conclusions.
Discomfort with the quality of
the decision is almost universal, said Howard J. Bashman, a Pennsylvania
lawyer whose Web log provides comprehensive and nonpartisan reports
on legal developments.
"It does appear," Mr.
Bashman said, "that folks on all sides of the spectrum,
both those who support it and those who oppose it, say the decision
is not strongly grounded in legal authority."
The main problems, scholars sympathetic
to the decision's bottom line said, is that the judge, Anna Diggs
Taylor, relied on novel and questionable constitutional arguments
when more straightforward statutory ones were available.
She ruled, for instance, that
the program, which eavesdrops without court permission on international
communications of people in the United States, violated the First
Amendment because it might have chilled the speech of people
who feared they might have been monitored.
That ruling is "rather innovative"
and "not a particularly good argument," Jack Balkin,
a law professor at Yale who believes the program is illegal,
wrote on his Web log.
Judge Taylor also ruled that
the program violated the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable
searches and seizures. But scholars said she failed to take account
of the so-called "special needs" exception to the amendment's
requirement that the government obtain a warrant before engaging
in some surveillance unrelated to routine law enforcement. "It's
just a few pages of general ruminations about the Fourth Amendment,
much of it incomplete and some of it simply incorrect,"
Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University
who believes the administration's legal justifications for the
program are weak, said of Judge Taylor's Fourth Amendment analysis
on a Web log called the Volokh Conspiracy. . .
WHY YOU DON'T WANT TO PUT TOO MUCH WEIGHT
ON WHAT CBS SAYS
LOSES 20 POUNDS AS CBS PHOTOSHOPS PUBLICITY PHOTO
NEW BOOK DEFENDS MUCH OF GARY WEBB'S
JOE STRUPP, EDITOR & PUBLISHER
- An upcoming book by a veteran investigative reporter who knew
[Gary] Webb and reported on many of the same drug-related issues
seeks to clear up some of the uncertainties, while defending
much of Webb's reporting, criticizing the major newspapers that
attacked him, and pointing out several new facts related to his
infamous series and tragic death. . .
Since his death, Webb's story
has often been seen as a simple case of a reporter going too
far in a complicated story, being knocked down by critics, and
succumbing to a dark depression that followed. But according
to author Nick Schou, and his book, "Kill the Messenger,"
which is due out in October via Nation Books, the truth is not
While Schou admits major mistakes
on the part of Webb and his editors, he saves his harshest vitriol
for The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles
Times, which severely criticized the series in the months after
it ran. "So much of the reporting was personal and an attack
on Gary Webb, it was unbelievable," Schou tells E&P.
Among the revelations or claims
by Schou in the book:
- Mercury News editors, allegedly
against Webb's request, focused the series and its lead more
on the CIA link to the crack epidemic in Los Angeles than the
reporter had wanted. . . .
- After attacking the series
for allegedly failing to prove its premise -- that the CIA, via
Nicaraguan contra-supported covert operations, had helped boost
the crack epidemic in the Los Angeles area -- other newspapers
under-covered a CIA Inspector General's report in 1998 that admitted
certain CIA connections to drug trafficking. . .
- Dawn Garcia, the former Mercury
News' state editor who worked closest with Webb on the stories,
spoke publicly for the first time on the series, telling Schou
that the basic premise of the series was solid, but its presentation
was poor. . .
Finally, Schou spends an entire
chapter essentially backing up Webb's reporting on several figures
in Los Angeles with ties to the crack trade and the CIA. . .
WHEN THE MEDIA GETS
MAD, WE MUST BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT
SAM SMITH - Since
Washington journalists joined the establishment a few decades
back, their assignment has included keeping the rest of us in
line. Most of the time, it's hard to notice, as when the media
was helping to shove us into Iraq or beating the drums for a
war on terror that has left us more hated in more places than
ever before without making us any safer.
Where the effort
breaks down is when, despite the media's best efforts, some of
us start to get out of line. As when criticism of Israel increases
no matter how many times they quote Abe Foxman. Or when a bunch
of Democrats in a New Hampshire focus group trash Hillary Clinton
despite all the wonderful coverage the Washington press has given
her. Or when Joe Lieberman gets in trouble for supporting the
war the media told us we had to pursue to get all those damn
Media Matters notes that "On ABC's This Week, Cokie Roberts
asserted that it would be 'a disaster for the Democratic Party'
and would lead to 'chaos' if businessman Ned Lamont were to defeat
Sen. Joseph Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary
on August 8, thereby 'pushing the party to the left' and sending
a message to other senators that 'the only smart thing to do
here is play to your base.' However, as Sam Donaldson noted,
opposition to the war is not simply playing to the base, 'it's
playing to the country, since the majority of the American public
opposes the war in Iraq."
Of course, to
many Washington journalists it doesn't matter whether the world
hates us, or New Hampshire Democrats don't like Clinton, or Connecticut
Democrats don't like the war. They live in a political and psychological
bunker from which their projections, pronouncement and preferences
emanate. Every once in a while, however, somewhere in American
someone doesn't get the word and it becomes both revealing and
even entertaining to watch how much it disturbs the Cokie Roberts
of the world.
Besides, it could
just be a sign that the canary in the mineshaft is singing again.
THE COURAGE TO IGNORE SPIN
WALTER PINCUS NEIMAN WATCHDOG
- I believe a new kind of courage is needed in journalism in
this age of instant news, instant analysis, and therefore instant
opinions. It also happens to be a time of government by public
relations and news stories based on prepared texts and prepared
events or responses. Therefore, this is the time for reporters
and editors, whether from the mainstream media or blogosphere,
to pause before responding to the latest bulletin, prepared event,
or the most recent statement or backgrounder, whether from the
White House or the Democratic or Republican leadership on Capitol
Hill. Of course, I'm not talking about reporting of a bomb blowing
up in a restaurant, soldiers being shot, police caught in a firefight,
a fire, an accident, a home run in the ninth to win a game, an
Oscar winner, or a drop in the stock market.
I also am talking solely from
the point of view of a reporter who has spent almost 50 years
watching daily coverage of government in Washington become dominated
by increasingly sophisticated public relations practitioners,
primarily in the White House and other agencies of government,
but also in Congress or interest groups and even think tanks
on the left, right or in the center. Today there is much too
much being offered about government than can be fit into print
or broadcast on nightly news shows. The disturbing trend is that
more and more of these informational offerings are nothing but
PR peddled as "news.". . .
The truth of the matter is that
with help from the news media, being able to "stay on message"
is now considered a presidential asset, perhaps even a requirement.
Of course, the "message" is the public relations spin
that the White House wants to present and not what the President
actually did that day or what was really going on inside the
White House. This system reached its apex this year when the
White House started to give "exclusives" -- stories
that found their way to Page One, in which readers learn that
during the next week President Bush will do a series of four
speeches supporting his Iraq policy because his polls are down.
Such stories are often attributed to unnamed "senior administration
officials." Lo and behold, the next week those same news
outlets, and almost everyone else, carries each of the four speeches
in which Bush essentially repeats what he's been saying for two
A new element of courage in journalism
would be for editors and reporters to decide not to cover the
President's statements when he -- or any public figure -- repeats
essentially what he or she has said before. The Bush team also
has brought forward another totally PR gimmick: The President
stands before a background that highlights the key words of his
daily message. This tactic serves only to reinforce that what's
going on is public relations -- not governing. Journalistic courage
should include the refusal to publish in a newspaper or carry
on a TV or radio news show any statements made by the President
or any other government official that are designed solely as
a public relations tool, offering no new or valuable information
to the public.
BIAS OF PBS NEWSHOUR CALCULATED IN REPORT
DAVID BAUDER, AP - Two-thirds
of the partisan sources appearing on Jim Lehrer's nightly newscasts
between October 2005 and March 2006 were Republican, and 82 percent
were men, said the liberal advocacy organization Fairness and
Accuracy in Reporting. . . FAIR's researchers found minorities
used as sources 15 percent of the time, even though they make
up 31 percent of the population. Hurricane Katrina sources, mostly
victims of the flood, make up about half of those sources, he
said. In stories about the Iraq war, people who advocate a U.S.
withdrawal were outnumbered by more than five-to-one, the liberal
group said. Its researchers said they couldn't find a single
peace activist had appeared on "News Hour" during the
six months studied.
NEWS MAGAZINES TREAT LATINOS LARGELY
AS A PROBLEM
RICHARD PRINCE, JOURNAL-ISMS
- An examination of the portrayal of Latinos in the nation's
leading newsmagazines in 2005 shows the group to be depicted
chiefly in the context of immigration and principally as problems.
The study, "U.S. News Magazine Coverage of Latinos,"
was conducted for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists
by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
at Arizona State University and released at the NAHJ convention
in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. . .
"As is often the case regarding
minority groups, the representations seem to fall at the end
of two extremes," the report said. "Latinos were either
positioned as a problem/threat, or as the successful exception/role
model of their community, even the success of Latinos in politics
was often represented with ambivalence and danger.
"And yet, the majority of
Latinos do not fall into either camp. Indeed, the majority of
the coverage did not represent Latinos as average Americans leading
mainstream lives. It also suggests that Latinos are only newsworthy
when they are doing something that marks them as unique. As long
as these news practices persist, Latinos cannot be incorporated
as full citizens in U.S. society."
The report found that of 1,547
magazine stories published in Time, Newsweek and U.S. News &
World Report, only 18 stories, or 1.2 percent, were about Latinos.
Twelve of the 18 focused on immigration.
"In these immigration stories,
Latino immigrants were portrayed, for the most part as a negative
and disruptive force on U.S. society," it said.
The study noted a headline in
Newsweek after the election of Antonio Villaraigosa as mayor
of Los Angeles: "A Latin Power surge. A New Mayor in L.A.
A Decisive Showing in 2004. Latinos are Making their Mark on
Politics as Never Before. Get Used to It." . . .
SAM SMITH - If I were Jason Leopold
I probably wouldn't bother to tell you that we had the same publisher
since, after all, Process Media (which published Leopold) and
Feral House (which published me) are separate operations even
if Adam Parfrey is the force behind both. It's the way you start
to think after you've been reading 'News Junkie' for awhile.
We have a few other differences.
I, for example, have never been a drug addict, never stolen 450
CDs from a record company to feed that habit, never agreed to
a plea bargain for doing so, never tried to kill myself, and
never had to worry that if I went on national TV someone might
recognize me and inform my editor of my felonious past.
One other difference: I have
never written any stories that help to break the Enron scandal.
Leopold has written a book that
I had intended not to like. But before long, I found myself disliking
Leopold a quarter of the time, feeling sorry for him another
quarter, cheering for him in a third quarter, and in the final
quarter knowing that there but for the grace of God went I.
The contradictions between Leopold's
achievements and the failures that destroyed them come at you
like an absorbing, never-ending tennis rally. One of the few
people who sized Leopold up well was Arden Dale, who hired him
as Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswire: Dale told
Leopold, "I figure you're either a really great journalist
or a serial killer. So we'd like to offer you [the job]."
By today's journalistic rules,
you're not meant to think kindly towards the Leopolds of the
trade. Actually, it's hard to find a Leopold in the trade anymore.
When I started out, there were a lot of them, sinners of various
sorts seeking salvation on a deadline. They were part of the
allure of the business, adding gratuitous spice to one's own
reputation and damn good company. As with the politics of the
time, even the disreputable were a lot more interesting and fun
to be around than most of today's precious and priggish role
Take the Washington Post's Howard
Kurtz, for example, one of those who seemed to take some pleasure
outlining Leopold's problems. Ask yourself: what has Kurtz done
for journalism or the nation worth half as much as helping to
expose Enron? Would Kurtz, given the chance, have put half as
much effort into the story as Leopold?
You take your choice: a respectable
stenographer for an entropic establishment or a flawed but insatiable
scribe who might just tell you what's really going on.
One need look no further than
how the respectable, source-checking, objective, balanced media
led us into the Reagan revolution and the second robber baron
era, not to mention the Iraq war and the end of the First American
Republic, to understand the weakness in its pretenses of propriety.
The media has been on the take big time - but instead of bribes,
it has taken endless bromides - freely and without skepticism
- from the most corrupt and damaging leadership this country
has even known.
So bad has it been that, despite
lying to his bosses, using some poor sources, and once plagiarizing
paragraphs from the Financial Times (albeit giving it credit
three other times in the same article), Leopold can still make
a case for himself.
Leopold came from a truly screwed
up family, screwed himself up further with drugs and other mischief
to make up for the lack of love, and then tried to wipe the slate
clean with a lot of scoops.
"I naively thought that
breaking stories on the energy crisis would impress working journalists
to look up to me as the new Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein. But
instead following up on my scoops and going after bad guys, the
press corps attacked my credibility. Reporters go out of their
way to discredit journalists who continually scoop them. Otherwise
they have to explain to their editors why
they aren't breaking the same stories. When the press corps rejected
me I convinced myself that the whole goddamn world was conspiring
against me. All I wanted was to be accepted as a member of their
"What I found out about
my competitors is that most of them
were a bunch of lazy fucks who were less inclined to dig for
the truth than report bureaucratic bullshit and then go home
for the day. They weren't interested in the relentless, gumshoe
reporting I shot my wad over. Luckily for me no one in the Sacramento
press corps was smart enough to end my writing career by exposing
me as the felonious thief and drug addict I was."
Some seek money as an substitute
for love lost in action; Leopold went after fame and stories.
Along the way he was denied the one thing that could have made
it all work well, but which the Center for Journalistic Excellence
never seems to worry about: an editor or two who recognized his
talents and, rather than merely exploit them until he got in
trouble, taught him how to do it right. The real bad guys in
this book are those who used Leopold without helping him.
But Leopold is not out to make
you feel sorry for him. He's trying to tell a hell of a story
and does an exceptional job of it. And he's not to be confused
with that other Jason, Jason Blair, who wrote things in his book
like, "The cognitive logic of my belief that I could get
away with not visiting a city that I was supposed to be writing
from can easily be understood, though not excused." Although
like Leopold, Blair was on cocaine and tried suicide, he, as
Publisher's Weekly noted, "composed many of his stories
while hiding out in his Brooklyn apartment, relying on information
from phone interviews and the Internet to fill the column inches.
The book, in fact, is filled with excuses-cum-explanations, most
of a personal nature." Leopold, whatever his faults, actually
covered his stories.
He is still having problems such
as his recent report that Karl Rove had been indicted. Maybe
his source was wrong, maybe he was being used for reasons not
yet clear (such as helping the prosecutors turn Rove) and perhaps
there is more to come.
In any case, I didn't run that
story. And if Leopold had asked me why, I would have told him
that stories about what is going to happen based on anonymous
sources are among the most dangerous you can handle. I would
have told him to work more on his reputation and less on his
fame. I would have quoted I.F. Stone's line about the fact that
most of what the government does wrong it does out in the open
- and to spend more time on that than on the undercover stuff.
And then he would have called me a "fucking stupid bastard."
If Rove had been indicted, he would have been right.
That's the way real journalism
is. Hands reaching for the light switch in the dark. The difference
between Leopold and many of his more respectable colleagues is
that he, albeit with sometimes lousy aim, never stopped trying.
THE THINKER'S GUIDE TO CONSPIRACY THEORIES
- A conspiracy does not have
to be illegal; it can merely be wrongful or harmful.
- The term 'conspiracy theory'
was invented by elite media and politicians to denigrate questions
or critical presumptions about events about which important facts
- The intelligent response to
such events is to remain agnostic, skeptical, and curious. Theories
may be suggested - just as they are every day about less complex
and more open matters on news broadcasts and op ed pages - but
such theories should not stray too far from available evidence.
Conversely, as long as serious anomalies remain, dismissing questions
and doubts as a "conspiracy theory" is a highly unintelligent
response. It is also ironic as those ridiculing the questions
and doubts typically consider themselves intellectually superior
to the doubters. But they aren't because they stopped thinking
the moment someone in power told them a superficially plausible
answer. Further, to ridicule those still with doubts about such
matters is intellectually dishonest.
- There is the further irony
that many who ridicule doubts about the official version of events
were typically trained at elite colleges where, in political
science and history, theories often take precedent over facts
and in which substantive decisions affecting politics and history
are presumed to be the work of a small number of wise men (sic).
They are trained, in effect, to trust in (1) theories and (2)
benign confederacies. Most major media political coverage is
based on the great man theory of history. This pattern can be
found in everything from Skull & Bones to the Washington
Post editorial board to the Council on Foreign Relations. You
might even call them conspiracy theorists.
- Other fields - such as social
history or anthropology - posit that change for better or evil
can come as cultural change or choices and not just as the decisions
of "great men." This is why one of the biggest stories
in modern American history was never well covered: the declining
birth rate. No great men decided it should happen.
- Homicide detectives and investigative
reporters, among others, are inductive thinkers who start with
evidence rather than with theories and aren't happy when the
evidence is weak, conflicting or lacking. They keep working the
case until a solid answer appears. This is alien to the well-educated
newspaper editor who has been trained to trust official answers
and conventional theories.
- The unresolved major event
is largely a modern phenomenon that coincides with the collapse
of America's constitutional government and the decline of its
culture. Beginning with the Kennedy assassination, the number
of inadequately explained major events has been mounting steadily
and with them a steady decline in the trust between he people
and their government. The refusal of American elites to take
these doubts seriously has been a major disservice to the republic.
- You don't need a conspiracy
to lie, do something illegal or to be stupid.
POST-POST AMERICA: HOW NEWSPAPERS CAN
SAM SMITH - It's been about 17
years since I last offered any advice to Don Graham of the Washington
Post. He wasn't interested. Oddly, about a year later, the circulation
of American newspapers, including the Post, began a slow decline
that continues to this day.
This morning, however, I was
so struck by the thin size of the Post that I actually compared
the number of pages of the major sections from the previous week:
there were five less. So now I actually feel sorry for the guy
and would like to pass on a few more ideas:
- Newspapers early surrendered
the image battle to TV when, in fact, TV only shows images for
a few seconds at which point they are gone forever. Newspapers
should go back to the approach to photos that made Life Magazine
so appealing: images that made you stop and look either because
of the quality of the photo or because of the story that a series
of photos told. When, for example, was the last time you let
a photographer edit your page design?
- Dump the Pulitzer porn such
as your recent series on black men. That dreary combination of
abstractions, stats, and not all that interesting stories makes
for poor journalism, especially over breakfast. Besides, you
can't make up for years of ignoring the problems of black men
with an occasional series even if it does win a prize.
- Put news on your front page.
I define news as something that has happened, something that
is happening or something that is going to happen. News is not
what someone said about what is happening nor what someone perceived
was going to happen nor what the editors thought the impact of
something happening would be on its readership.
- The one exception to filling
the front page with news would be a story or two that are just
interesting, which is to say ones about which readers will ask
their friends, "Did you see that story about. . ?"
- Use the "holy shit"
principle of news editing. If your reaction to a story is "holy
shit" and the story is true, many of your readers are going
to feel the same way.
- Run more and shorter stories.
You can get the edge over both the Internet and TV through quantity
rather than just style of news. And the more names the better.
- Run more local stories, more
stories affecting different ethnic groups, and more stories about
sports people play rather than just watch.
- Go back to pyramid style reporting
or at least get to the point within the first paragraph or two.
- Stop burying stories that affect
ordinary readers in the business and real estate sections and
put them in the front of the paper where they belong.
- Run more stories that affect
ordinary readers. Handle your news from the viewpoint of your
readers rather than from that of your advertisers, sources, or
journalistic staff - few of whom live in some the toughest yet
newsworthy parts of town.
- Have a labor section as well
as a business section. After all, you have more employees than
employers in your circulation area.
- Slash the number of stupid,
spinning, or sophistic quotations from official sources used
in your paper.
A FEW QUESTIONS FOR THE NY TIMES
PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - Why are
there no rightist candidates? Your internet headline listing
today included a couple of references to the "leftist"
running for president of Mexico. While there is nothing wrong
with being a leftist, one gets the sense from the way you use
the term that you think there is. If so, what is it?
For an example, a leftist in
America would have supported civil rights, and end to the war
in Vietnam, environmental issues, gay and women's rights etc,
sometime before the Times and other conventional publications
did. Do you consider this a bad thing?
Is using leftist but not rightist
balanced and fair journalism?
A CONSERVATIVE ARGUMENT FOR LEAKS
ELI LAKE, NY SUN - It was bad
enough when the left argued for the erosion of press freedoms,
but it's incoherent for conservatives to go down this road. Conservatives
are supposed to be skeptical about unchecked power for the federal
government. It is one of the principles that binds together a
coalition of home-schoolers, federalists, gun owners, and tax
cutters - the view that while the federal government may be necessary,
its power should be checked at every available opportunity.
Yet if conservatives get their
way, enormous new powers will be delegated to the federal government.
If the executive branch starts prosecuting the recipients of
leaks on a wide scale, then Americans would be trusting the people
who make national security policy to determine when the rest
of us - without clearances - are allowed to know when they make
mistakes. Forget for a moment the problems this poses for the
First Amendment. What about the values of good government the
congressional Republicans who captured the House in 1994 have
all but forgotten?
After all, the people who will
be entrusted with declassifying the information that newsmen
will be allowed to print without fear of legal retribution are
not movement conservatives. They are bureaucrats who have proved
all too willing so far in this war to declassify selectively
all sorts of information damaging to our foreign policy. A policy
of prosecuting leaks would not stop them. It would give an advantage
to those leakers who have mastered the classification process.
NEWSPAPERS HAVEN'T LOST THEIR AUDIENCE,
THEY'VE DESERTED IT
[From a talk at the Media
Giraffe Project conference. The link takes you not only to the
rest of the talk but to a close analysis of one day's issue of
the Boston Globe based on the issues that Stites raises]
TOM STITES - What really makes
me twitch is that the amount and distribution of serious reporting
that people can read are both dwindling, and they're dwindling
in a way that all but cuts off citizens who are less than affluent
- the hourly wage earners, the marginally self-employed, the
Wal-Mart shoppers, the regular folks of America. This is to say
most folks. . .
Keep in mind that we're talking
about a huge population of people . . . people whose average
wages have been declining for years after inflation is taken
into account, who may be dealing with predatory lenders and have
a negative net worth, whose job security tends to be eroding,
who may be working more than one job, who include almost all
the 45 million Americans without health insurance. Journalism
doesn't serve this huge population if it is written and presented
only in ways that appeal to people with disposable income to
spend on nice furnishings for their suburban houses and who worry
about how best to get a second opinion on a medical diagnosis.
In fact, to people whose challenge is how best to see just one
doctor without ending up in the poorhouse, that kind of reporting
is an affront. So is all the lavish coverage of personal finance.
And this is the state of our daily newspapers today.
Citizens who have no access to
serious journalism about the issues that are relevant to their
lives end up awash in the propagandistic opinion media and in
the sound bite vapidity of standard broadcast news. Without serious
journalism that they can read to equip them with facts and engage
their reason, some respond to this sorry state by disenfranchising
themselves in hopelessness; others vote the opinions drilled
into them by the manipulative cable news diatribes.
What's the Matter with Kansas?
Thomas Frank famously asked in his book title. I submit that
a big part of what's wrong is that lots of Kansans - especially
less affluent Kansans who voted their conservative values and
thus elected people to Congress who were sure to legislate against
their economic interests - these citizens were bereft of serious
reporting they could read and thus saw and heard only endless
propagandistic opinions from the only media left in their lives.
Why is it that less-than-affluent
Americans are being zoned out of serious reporting? Elite audiences
like this one often jump to the conclusion that "those people"
are undereducated and don't read much. But less affluent people
do read. Wal-Mart is one of the Big Four booksellers, the others
being Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Harris poll data
show that year after year about 30 per cent of citizens report
reading as a favored leisure pursuit. Less-than-affluent people
still read, it's just that a great many have stopped reading
Every two years [the Pew Center]
does a survey that asks people whether they'd read a newspaper
the day before. When Pew presents its findings, it breaks down
the responses by age, and also by educational attainment. But
it doesn't break the numbers down by income. Suspecting that
the decline in newspaper readership has been disproportionately
among the less affluent, I asked them to dig out that data for
To my astonishment, for people
with annual household income from $50 to $75,000, Pew found that
people answering that they'd read a newspaper the day before
had actually increased by a percentage point between 1998 and
2004, to 58 per cent from 57. And people with household incomes
of $75,000 and up declined by five points, to 55 per cent from
60. But the study did not ask about reading newspapers on line,
and the higher one's income the likelier one is to be what another
Pew effort, the Internet & American Life Project, calls "high-powered
broadband users" â 46 per cent have household
incomes of more than $75,000 annually. And Harris Poll data show
that 26 per cent of people who read newspapers on line report
reducing their use of other media, including newspapers. . .
For citizens with household incomes
of less than $50,000, readership has plummeted. For people in
households earning $30,000 to $50,000, readership is down by
13 points, to 35 per cent from 48; for people in $20,000-to-$30,000
households, it's down by 9 points, to 34 per cent from 43 per
cent, and for people in households with less than $20,000 income,
it's down 11 points, to 27 per cent from 38 per cent. In terms
of percentage of decline, the falloff exceeds 20 per cent for
all three of these groups - in only six years.
Part of this can be explained
by young people entering their earning years with modest salaries
and advanced technology habits, and surveys show that today's
young people spend less time on news than their counterparts
of earlier years. But even taking this into account, what we're
talking about here is a class divide - two classes of citizens,
one that's well served with quality reporting and one that's
left to the vagaries of the manipulators. . .
So what's causing this? There
are many variables. The number of media competing for our attention
just keeps expanding. Younger people are far more adept with
technology than their elders â although the
Harris Poll finds significantly more Gen Xers reading national
newspapers than the overall population. But here's a variable
that gets almost no attention: How editors choose what stories
to cover and how to frame them.
In this era of discount retailers
like Wal-Mark that advertise very little, newspaper advertising
tends to come from upscale retailers. Responding to the wishes
of these advertisers, publishers no longer want nonaffluent readers.
Over the last three decades, newspapers have increasingly reflected
that. . .
When I was breaking in as a reporter,
I ran the police beat for The Kansas City Times. The managing
editor, a crusty old guy named John Chandley, explained that
he wanted me to provide at least a short item about every siren
heard each night in all parts of the city, so our readers would
know what had happened. And he meant all parts of the city, rich
and poor. This kept me hustling, and to this day I remember the
lesson: The newspaper I worked for wanted to sell papers to every
household in the area. They wanted 100 per cent market penetration,
or as close as they could come to 100 per cent. In 1962 and 63,
when I was a police reporter, dailies everywhere wanted 100 percent
market penetration. Newsday, where I worked in the 1970s, approached
85 per cent penetration at its peak, the record for American
newspapers. Now it's about 40 per cent. . .
Now fast-forward to the late
1980s. By this time I was associate managing editor of The Chicago
Tribune, and all the talk among the news management was about
editing the paper for the top two quintiles of the income distribution.
That means that 40 percent market penetration is the goal, not
100 percent, and that The Trib cares little about 60 percent
of the people who might be its readers. And these people are
the men and women in the bowling alley. Why doesn't The Trib
care? Because these days non-affluent people shop at Wal-Mart,
and advertisers like Lord & Taylor and stores that sell fancy
wines don't want to pay for circulation among people who can't
afford their wares. It's as simple as that.
Now almost all metro dailies
want only the affluent readers. Everybody else is what advertisers
call "waste." So publishers simply ignore the interests
of the bowling alley set, or write about "them" only
as statistics or as the objects of debates among economists and
policy analysts. I am absolutely confident that it takes these
"waste" readers â more than half
of all Americans - very little time perusing their metro daily
to see that reading further is a waste of their time. .
PUBLIC RADIO, AN STATIONS LOSING AUDIENCE;
[From an interview with George
Bailey and David Giovannoni, who are wrapping up their Audience
2010 inquiry commissioned by public radio. They are interviewed
by Current editors Mike Janssen and Steve Behrens]
Mike Janssen: Why is public radio's
George Bailey: First of all,
we should say that we documented that it is slipping. It is losing
momentum. I think there was some denial about that in the first
place. Out there in the system, in the press and among managers
and other places, there were all kinds of hypotheses or myths
or delusions about what was going on. For example, people were
saying that satellite radio was taking audience away from public
radio. And Vinnie Curren [senior VP of radio at CPB] was quoted
in the New York Times as saying people might have gotten tired
of election coverage-that would be why we're losing audience.
We wanted to systematically test as many of those ideas as possible.
And we pretty much destroyed the myths that blamed the decline
on external problems. We ended up finding that public radio is
David Giovannoni: That's the
central finding - that we're losing loyalty. Loyalty is a symptom,
it's not a cause. But it's a hurtful finding, isn't it? It's
like learning your girlfriend still enjoys her nights out - just
not so much with you. . .
Janssen: How big a deal is this
decline? . . .
Bailey: Not every station is
losing audience and loyalty, but the trend is clear. Nearly half
of listening to pubradio stations last year was to stations that
lost loyalty over the previous year. . .
Bailey: It's wrong to try to
look nationally across the whole country and say, "Here's
the one factor in the competition that's doing better, and so
we can learn from that and emulate it.". . .
Giovannoni: Listening to locally
produced music slid first, but other categories also lost momentum
- even network news, which has fueled pubradio's audience growth.
Bailey: The fact that some of
the NPR news stations are doing well and some are not, and the
same with the other formats, indicates that public radio really
can support a variety of formats and maybe even serve a variety
of audiences with those different formats, but that within any
one of those formats there's a variety of right and wrong ways
to do it. . .
Behrens: We asked Leslie Peters
of Audience Research Analysis whether there were any patterns
characteristic of local news and information shows that have
done well in loyalty, and she found only a couple of programs
have loyalty on par with the stations' average loyalty. And those
are the talk shows of Faith Middleton on Connecticut Public Radio
and Brian Lehrer on WNYC.
Giovannoni: And there's Terry
Gross on WHYY, Diane Rehm on WAMU, Tom and Ray on WBUR [Car Talk],
Michael Feldman in Wisconsin. Like we said earlier, it's about
talent and implementation, not about source of production.
Behrens: Is there any indication
there or elsewhere what would make locally produced programs
with particular characteristics more competitive?
Giovannoni: We found no patterns
by format or program, either. So again, it means that success
and failure are in the implementation, not in the genre. . .
Janssen: In doing Audience 2010,
what did you learn that most surprised you?
Bailey: It turns out that when
you examine AM radio versus FM radio, almost all the loss in
listening to radio has been due to the fading popularity of AM
radio. That's something Arbitron has never reported, and Audience
2010 is the first study to report that. It wasn't that long ago
that public radio managers were thinking about buying AM stations.
WHY THE MEDIA ISN'T REPORTING THE BILDERBERG
The Bilderberg Conference is
an ideal example of how the American elite turns its back on
facts even as it denigrates those who wonder what the hell is
As of Saturday night, no major
American media had reported the meeting of 130 of the world's
most powerful and wealthiest individuals, a meeting so secret
that one reporter was arrested for merely flying into the host
city and the Ottawa police had to show credentials to private
security guards to be permitted on the premises. The invited
also include some nasty individuals such as Richard Perle and
Ahmad Chalabi. You don't invite such types to a secret meeting
if you plan to do anything worthwhile. There are no reports of
any person of known moral standing being invited.
How does one explain the utter
lack of journalistic curiosity about all this? One could come
up with a conspiratorial explanation but the answer is probably
even more troubling: no conspiracy was needed at all. Like a
well trained child, the media doesn't even want to know what
is going on.
Well, that isn't completely true
since past participants have included the likes of Don Graham
of the Washington Post and Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal.
Many city councils in America
operate under some sort of freedom of information and/or sunshine
law. Why is it so important that we know what our town council
is talking about behind our backs and so irrelevant what 130
of the most powerful individuals in the world are talking about
secretly? Sorry, the American media is not cleared to give you
IT IS ONE THING for Ryan Secrest
to use the French and, more recently, phony Hollywood pronunciation
of the word "homage," but we hear it creeping into
use elsewhere, such as on NPR the other day. All would-be sophisticated
broadcasters should note this comment sent to the NPR ombudsman
two years ago: "Could you please circulate a memo to all
your NPR correspondents and show hosts... informing them of the
proper pronunciation of the word "homage?" The people
you hear most frequently mispronouncing it as a French word are
the Hollywood airheads in their commentary accompaniments on
DVDs. . . [It's] a semi-literate attempt to sound smart, made
so much sadder by how wrong it is."
GREAT MOMENTS IN THE ALTERNATIVE PRESS
[A nice peek at the phoniness
of the so-called alternative press which perpetuates the lie
that being hip is based on consumer choices rather than philosophical
and psychic matter]
MARK FITZGERALD, EDITOR &
PUBLISHER - Hey, grandpa, go somewhere else to find a "date"
for the night. That's the message the alternative newspaper Boston's
Weekly Dig is sending by banning ads for so-called "escort
services." It isn't about morality, Dig President Jeff Lawrence
tells E&P -- it's about demographics.
Boston's Weekly Dig, like all
alternatives, is fighting for the young and hip 18- to 34-year-old.
Escort services just don't fit, Lawrence said in an interview
Friday. The paper wasn't put off by the fact that most law enforcement
agencies believe escort is just another name for call girl. Worse,
the ads attracted only old readers.
"It's no different than
if we started running ads for Geritol or Depends adult diapers,"
Lawrence said. "In terms of attracting readers, content
is one thing, but the advertisements, too, are huge part of determining
whether your readers are going to respond to your paper.".
Studies show that the Dig readership
peaks among the 18 to 34 cohort, then gradually drifts down through
the late thirties and forties -- before suddenly spiking at around
50. "Now unless there are lot of hipsters in their 50s,
it seems they search out the paper for the escort ads,"
Lawrence said. "I honestly think there are a lot of suburban
men reading the paper for that purpose."
The Dig even conducted focus
groups with the escorts to confirm their demographic suspicions,
Lawrence said. "A lot of the escorts are black, and they
told us that a white, married man in his 50s, maybe late 40s,
that was the customer they would get," he said. "So
we kind of looked at each other, and went, this is so obvious.".
"Advertisers like that you're
protecting your demographic," he said, "They say, you're
willing to give up revenue to stay on mission -- that's fantastic."
TOM FRIEDMAN'S BRAIN IS FLAT AND WE'LL
KNOW WHY IN SIX MONTHS
[Tom Friedman quotes collated
"The next six months in
Iraq - which will determine the prospects for democracy-building
there - are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy
in a long, long time." (New York Times, 11/30/03)
"What I absolutely don't
understand is just at the moment when we finally have a UN-approved
Iraqi-caretaker government made up of - I know a lot of these
guys - reasonably decent people and more than reasonably decent
people, everyone wants to declare it's over. I don't get it.
It might be over in a week, it might be over in a month, it might
be over in six months, but what's the rush? Can we let this play
out, please?" (NPR's Fresh Air, 6/3/04)
"What we're gonna find out,
Bob, in the next six to nine months is whether we have liberated
a country or uncorked a civil war." (CBS's Face the Nation,
"Improv time is over. This
is crunch time. Iraq will be won or lost in the next few months.
But it won't be won with high rhetoric. It will be won on the
ground in a war over the last mile." (New York Times, 11/28/04)
"I think we're in the end
game now. . . I think we're in a six-month window here where
it's going to become very clear and this is all going to pre-empt
I think the next congressional election-that's my own feeling-
let alone the presidential one." (NBC's Meet the Press,
"Maybe the cynical Europeans
were right. Maybe this neighborhood is just beyond transformation.
That will become clear in the next few months as we see just
what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they
come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and
we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting
our time." (New York Times, 9/28/05)
"We've teed up this situation
for Iraqis, and I think the next six months really are going
to determine whether this country is going to collapse into three
parts or more or whether it's going to come together." (CBS's
Face the Nation, 12/18/05)
"We're at the beginning
of I think the decisive I would say six months in Iraq, OK, because
I feel like this election-you know, I felt from the beginning
Iraq was going to be ultimately, Charlie, what Iraqis make of
it." (PBS's Charlie Rose Show, 12/20/05)
"The only thing I am certain
of is that in the wake of this election, Iraq will be what Iraqis
make of it-and the next six months will tell us a lot. I remain
guardedly hopeful." (New York Times, 12/21/05)
"I think that we're going
to know after six to nine months whether this project has any
chance of succeeding. In which case, I think the American people
as a whole will want to play it out or whether it really is a
fool's errand." (Oprah Winfrey Show, 1/23/06)
"I think we're in the end
game there, in the next three to six months, Bob. We've got for
the first time an Iraqi government elected on the basis of an
Iraqi constitution. Either they're going to produce the kind
of inclusive consensual government that we aspire to in the near
term, in which case America will stick with it, or they're not,
in which case I think the bottom's going to fall out." (CBS,
"I think we are in the end
game. The next six to nine months are going to tell whether we
can produce a decent outcome in Iraq." (NBC's Today, 3/2/06)
"Can Iraqis get this government
together? If they do, I think the American public will continue
to want to support the effort there to try to produce a decent,
stable Iraq. But if they don't, then I think the bottom is going
to fall out of public support here for the whole Iraq endeavor.
So one way or another, I think we're in the end game in the sense
it's going to be decided in the next weeks or months whether
there's an Iraq there worth investing in. And that is something
only Iraqis can tell us." (CNN, 4/23/06)
"Well, I think that we're
going to find out, Chris, in the next year to six months-probably
sooner-whether a decent outcome is possible there, and I think
we're going to have to just let this play out." (MSNBC's
PBS NEWS HOUR SPONSOR FINED $57 MILLION
FOR PRICE FIXING
NICHOLAS E. HOLLIS AGRIBUSINESS
COUNCIL - Today's announcement that the European Court of Justice
had upheld antitrust fines of $57 million on ADM for its role
in the global lysine cartel back in the mid 1990s provides another
insight into the Decatur, Illinois based Supermarket to the World.
The fact that ADM's London office
played such an important role in the price fixing cartel ---
even providing office space for an accountant who kept records
on the cartel members' quotas --- has remained shrouded. ADM
was forced to pay a whopping $100 million fine to the U.S. Treasury
as part of its plea bargain on this side of the Atlantic ---
but the company gained immunity for most of its senior executives
from further questioning --- and also found a way to maintain
its business with the U.S. government. . .
As ADM finds itself at center
stage in the wrangling over ethanol --- and high gas prices ---
only a few years removed from the largest antitrust case in agricultural
history --- today's announced EU ruling might prove instructive
for inquiring minds on an old truth: History is prologue. During
the cartel's organization and implementation in the 1990s, the
head of that ADM/London office was none other than ADM's current
chairman, G. Allen Andreas.
In the "window" between
FBI raids in Decatur and EU raids on ADM/London, G. Allen Andreas
was quickly installed as ADM's chief executive. He had the "extraterritorial
dodge" factor. If his office had been in Decatur, instead
of London, it might well have been targeted by the FBI, which
could have resulted in an indictment. His cousin, Mick Andreas,
son of Dwayne Andreas, ended up indicted, convicted and served
several years in Federal prison. . .
Before we allow ADM to squeeze
the country into an "Ethanol straitjacket" with a dunce
cap maybe we better read the history lessons here. Falsus in
uno, falsus in omnibus -- False in one thing, false in all.