Café Journalism

Journalism Professors Unite

April 4, 2020

Every pandemic in history has been followed by a cultural and social blossoming. This one can too, but only if we use this time to reflect on what that blossoming might look like. In the midst of the darkness that’s our slice of light.

~Marianne Williamson

From Journalists and Teachers of Journalism

“Americans consistently rate the Fox News Channel as one of the most trusted TV channels. The average age of Fox News viewers is 65. It is well established that this population incurs the greatest risk from the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, Fox News viewers are at special risk from the coronavirus.

But viewers of Fox News, including the president of the United States, have been regularly subjected to misinformation relayed by the network — false statements downplaying the prevalence of COVID-19 and its harms; misleading recommendations of activities that people should undertake to protect themselves and others, including casual recommendations of untested drugs; false assessments of the value of measures urged upon the public by their elected political leadership and public health authorities.

The misinformation that reaches the Fox News audience is a danger to public health. Indeed, it is not an overstatement to say that your misreporting endangers your own viewers — and not only them, for in a pandemic, individual behavior affects significant numbers of other people as well.

Yet by commission as well as omission — direct, uncontested misinformation as well as failure to report the true dimensions of the crisis — Fox News has been derelict in its duty to provide clear and accurate information about COVID-19. As the virus spread across the world, Fox News hosts and guests minimized the dangers, accusing Democrats and the media of inflating the dangers (in Sean Hannity’s words) to “bludgeon Trump with this new hoax.” Such commentary encouraged President Trump to trivialize the threat and helped obstruct national, state, and local efforts to limit the coronavirus.

The network’s delinquency was effective. According to a YouGov/Economist poll conducted March 15–17, Americans who pay the most attention to Fox News are much less likely than others to say they are worried about the coronavirus. A Pew Research poll found that 79% of Fox News viewers surveyed believed the media had exaggerated the risks of the virus. 63% of Fox viewers said they believed the virus posed a minor threat to the health of the country. As recently as Sunday, March 22, Fox News host Steve Hilton deplored accurate views of the pandemic, which he attributed to “our ruling class and their TV mouthpieces — whipping up fear over this virus.”

Fox News reporters have done some solid reporting. And the network has recently given some screen time to medical and public health professionals. But Fox News does not clearly distinguish between the authority that should accrue to trained experts, on the one hand, and the authority viewers grant to pundits and politicians for reasons of ideological loyalty. There is a tendency to accept (or reject) them all indiscriminately, for after all, they are talking heads who appear on Fox News, a trusted source of news. When the statements of knowledgeable experts are surrounded by false claims made by pundits and politicians, including President Trump — claims that are not rebutted by knowledgeable people in real time — the overall effect is to mislead a vulnerable public about risks and harms. Misinformation furthers the reach and the dangers of the pandemic. For example, the day after Tucker Carlson touted a flimsy French study on the use of two drugs to treat COVID-19, President Trump touted “very, very encouraging early results” from those drugs, and promoted a third as a possible “game changer.”

The basic purpose of news organizations is to discover and tell the truth. This is especially necessary, and obvious, amid a public health crisis. Television bears a particular responsibility because even more millions than usual look there for reliable information.

Inexcusably, Fox News has violated elementary canons of journalism. In so doing, it has contributed to the spread of a grave pandemic. Urgently, therefore, in the name of both good journalism and public health, we call upon you to help protect the lives of all Americans — including your elderly viewers — by ensuring that the information you deliver is based on scientific facts.”

Signed*,

(If you are a journalist or teacher of journalism and would like to add your name, click here.)

Todd Gitlin, Professor, Chair, Ph. D. Program in Communications, Columbia Journalism School

Mark Feldstein, Eaton Chair of Broadcast Journalism, University of Maryland

Frances FitzGerald, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Adam Hochschild, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley

Edward Wasserman, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley

Lisa R. Cohen; Columbia Journalism School

Gerald Johnson, Texas Student Media

Susan Moeller, Professor, Merrill College of Journalism, UMD, College Park

Maurine Beasley, University of Maryland College Park

Michael Deas, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University

Ivan Meyers, Medill School at Northwestern University

Helen Benedict, Professor, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University

Hendrik Hertzberg, longtime staff writer and editor, The New Yorker

Lewis Friedland, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Com, UW-Madison

Dr. Tom Mascaro, Ph.D. Bowling Green State University, School of Media & Communication

Tom Bettag, Visiting Fellow, University of Maryland

Betty H Winfield University of Missouri Curators’ Professor Emerita

Frank D. Durham, University of Iowa

Dennis Darling Professor, School of Journalism, The University of Texas at Austin

Jonathan Weiner, Maxwell M. Geffen Professor of Medical and Scientific Journalism Columbia Journalism School

Ari L. Goldman, professor, Columba University Graduate School of Journalism

Jennifer Kahn, Narrative Program Lead, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley

Meenakshi Gigi Durham, Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa

Deirdre English, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley

Rosental C Alves, University of Texas at Austin

Pauline Dakin, Ass. Professor, University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Nina Alvarez, Assistant Professor, Columbia Journalism School

Travis Vogan, University of Iowa

Ali Noor Mohamed, United Arab Emirates University

Linda Steiner, Acting Director, Ph.D. Studies; Professor, Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park

Lucas Graves, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, UW — Madison

Anna Everett, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Santa Barbara

Richard Appelbaum, Fielding Graduate University; UCSB Emeritus

Tom Collinger, Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism

Wenhong Chen, Founding Co-director, Center for Entertainment and Media Industries Associate Professor ofMedia Studies and Sociology, Moody College of Communication The University of Texas at Austin

LynNell Hancock, Professor, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Donna DeCesare, Associate Professor, School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin

Barbie Zelizer, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Michael Murray, UM Curators Distinguished Professor Emeritus, UM-St. Louis

Michael Schudson, Columbia University

Martin Kaplan, Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media and Society, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Brian Ekdale, University of Iowa

Gina Masullo, University of Texas at Austin

Krishnan Vasudevan, Assistant Professor, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland at College Park

Harold Evans, former editor Sunday Times and The Times, London

Chuck Howell, Librarian for Journalism & Communication Studies, University of Maryland

Clarke L. Caywood Ph.D, Professor Medill School of Journalism Media Integrated Marketing Communications

Andie Tucher, Director, PhD program in Communications, Columbia Journalism School

Kalyani Chadha, Associate Professor, University of Maryland

Denis P. Gorman, Freelance Journalist

Jon Marshall, Northwestern University

Kevin Lerner, Marist College

Joel Whitebook, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research

Abe Peck, Prof. Emeritus in Service, Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern University

Carrie Lozano, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley

Susie Linfield, Dept of Journalism, New York University

Charles Berret, University of British Columbia

Jay Rosen, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University

Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Professor of Journalism, The University of Texas at Austin

Joseph Straubhaar, Professor, School of Journalism, University of Texas, Austin

Edward C Malthouse, Haven Professor, Medill School of Journalism, Media and IMC, Northwestern University

Mitchell Stephens, Professor of Journalism, New York University

Patricia Loew, Ph.D. Professor, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University

Richard Fine, Professor of English, Virginia Commonwealth University

John E. Newhagen Associate Prof. Emeritus University of Marylans

Caryn Ward, Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing and Communication

David Hajdu, Professor, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

Naeemul Hassan, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland

Stephen D. Reese, School of Journalism & Media, U of Texas at Austin

Kevin Klose, Professor, University of Maryland

John Vivian, Winona State University

Sue Robinson, Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thomas P. Oates, University of Iowa

Samuel Freedman, Columbia Journalism School

Susan Mango Curtis, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University

Prof. Robert S. Boynton, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU

Leonard Steinhorn, Professor of Communication and Affiliate Professor of History, American University

J.A. Adande, Medill School, Northwestern

Victor Pickard, University of Pennsylvania

Summer Harlow, Assistant Professor, University of Houston

Danielle K. Kilgo, Ph.D., Indiana University

Jack Doppelt, Northwestern University

Gerry Lanosga, The Media School, Indiana University

Martin Riedl, PhD Candidate, School of Journalism, The University of Texas at Austin

Rich Shumate, School of Media, Western Kentucky University

Mac McKerral, School of Media, Western Kentucky University

Mel Coffee, University of Maryland

David J. Vergobbi, University of Utah

Tom Boll, part-time instructor, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

Dannagal G. Young, Associate Professor of Communication and Political Science, University of Delaware

Ken Light, Reva and David Logan Professor of Photojournalism, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

George Harmon, emeritus faculty, Medill School of Journalism

Rachel Young, University of Iowa

Carol M. Liebler, Professor, Newhouse School, Syracuse University

Kyu Ho Youm, University of Oregon

Julianne H Newton, University of Oregon

Bethany Swain, University of Maryland

Gi Woong Yun, Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno

Thomas E. Winski, MJE Retired Assistant Professor of Journalism, Emporia State University

Roy L Moore, Professor (retired), Middle TN State University

Ira Chinoy, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland

Jay Edwin Gillette, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Information and Communication Sciences Center for Information and Communication Sciences, Ball State University

Michael Anderson, retired journalist

Kimberley Shoaf, Professor of Public Health, University of Utah

Erica Ciszek, University of Texas at Austin

Daniel C. Hallin, University of California, San Diego

Keith W. Strandberg, Webster University, Geneva

Sophie Furley, Editor

Frank Sesno, Director, George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs

Timothy V. Klein, Louisiana State University

*Affiliations listed for identification only.

 

https://medium.com/@journalismprofs/open-letter-to-the-murdochs-9334e775a992

 

Local Journalism

March 30, 2020

‘Like many in business, trusted news organizations are being hit hard by this pandemic. If you can, please consider subscribing to your local paper or contributing to a VT news organization. You deserve transparency and the truth, and they work hard to keep you informed.

-Vermont Governor Phil Scott

governor.vermont.gov


NYTimes

Ben Smith

“Abandon most for-profit local newspapers, whose business model no longer works, and move as fast as possible to a national network of nimble new online newsrooms. That way, we can rescue the only thing worth saving… the journalists.”

The coronavirus is likely to hasten the end of advertising-driven media, our columnist writes. And government should not rescue it.

“There’s all this ‘doom and gloom for local journalism stories’ that have happened in the last week or so, and I hope that other people see what we’re doing and understand that the important thing is the journalism — it’s the stories, it’s the investigations — that’s what matters,” Ken Ward said. He will also be on the staff of the nonprofit investigative powerhouse ProPublica and will have support from Report for America, another growing nonprofit organization that sends young reporters to newsrooms around the country.

The news business, like every business, is looking for all the help it can get in this crisis. Analysts believe that the new federal aid package will help for a time and that the industry has a strong case to make. State governments have deemed journalism an essential service to spread public health information. Reporters employed by everyone from the worthiest nonprofit group to the most cynical hedge fund-owned chain are risking their lives to get their readers solid facts on the pandemic, and are holding the government accountable for its failures. Virtually every news outlet reports that readership is at an all-time high. We all need to know, urgently, about where and how the coronavirus is affecting our cities and towns and neighborhoods.

So what comes next? That decision will be made in the next few months — by public officials, philanthropists, and other tech companies, and people like you.

The right decision is to consistently look to the future, which comes in a few forms. The most promising right now is Ms. Green’s dream of a big new network of nonprofit news organizations across the country on the model o The Texas Tribune, which Mr. Thornton co-founded. There are also a handful of local for-profit news outlets, like The Seattle Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe, with rich and civic-minded owners, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, which is owned by the non-profit Lenfest Institute for Journalism. And there is a generation of small, independent membership or subscription sites and newsletters like Berkeleyside.

Elizabeth Green, a founder of Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization reporting on education issues, in Washington, D.C.

[Avi Schiffmann]

The High Schooler Who Became a COVID-19 Watchdog

The New Yorker

by Brent Crane

In December, DT said, “We have a problem that, a month ago, nobody thought about.” Well, somebody did. On December 29th, as DT vacationed with his family at Mar-a-Lago, Avi Schiffmann, a seventeen-year-old from Washington State, launched a homemade Web site to track the movement of the coronavirus. Since then, the site, ncov2019.live, has had more than a hundred million visitors. “I wanted to just make the data easily accessible, but I never thought it would end up being this big,” the high-school junior said last week over FaceTime. Schiffmann, gap-toothed and bespectacled, was sitting on his bed wearing a blue T-shirt and baggy pajama bottoms. It was late morning. He was at his mother’s house, on Mercer Island, outside Seattle.

https://ncov2019.live

Using a coding tactic known as “web-scraping,” Schiffmann’s site collates data from different sources around the globe—the W.H.O., the C.D.C., Yonhap News Agency in South Korea—and displays the latest number of covid-19 cases. It features simple graphics and easy-to-read tables divided by nation, continent, and state. Data automatically updates every minute. In a politicized pandemic, where rumor and panic run amok, the site has become a reputable, if unlikely, watchdog.

He began teaching himself to code when he was seven, mainly by watching YouTube videos, and has made more than thirty Web sites. “Programming is a great creative medium,” he said. “Instead of using a paintbrush or something, you can just type a bunch of funky words and make a coronavirus site.” One of his first projects, in elementary school, was what he calls “a stick-figure animation hub.” Later sites collated the scores for his county’s high-school sports games, aggregated news of global protests, and displayed the weather forecast on Mars. “His brain is constantly going from one thing to another, which is good, but I also try to focus him in,” his mother, Nathalie Acher, said. “I’m not techy at all myself. I see it as just really boring. He sees it as an art form.”

Schiffmann took the virus threat seriously before many others did. “I’ve been kind of concerned for a while, because I watched it spread very fast, and around the entire world. I mean, it just kind of went everywhere.” He took his own precautions. “I got masks a while ago. I got, like, fifteen for seventeen dollars. Now you can’t even buy a single mask for, like, less than forty.” His mother chimed in. “I wish I had listened to him,” she said. “But, in his teen-ager way, he’d come down the stairs with his eyes huge and be, like, ‘There are fifty thousand more cases!’ and I’d be, like, ‘Yeah, but they’re over there, not here.’ ”

Her son is a C student.

Now that the grownups of the world are finally, and appropriately, freaking out, it is hard for Schiffmann not to feel righteous vindication. “If you told someone three months ago that we should spend, like, ten billion dollars in upgrading the United States’ health care, they would have been, like, ‘Nah,’ ” he said. “Now, everyone’s, like, ‘Oh, my God, yes.’ But this is the kind of stuff we should have done a long time ago.”

Young people give me so much hope. ❥ -dayle

 

Journalism in the Time of Corona

March 17, 2020

Seattle Times

From the editor: As we face the coronavirus challenge together, thank you for your support

While the region mobilizes to respond to the spread of COVID-19, I want to take a moment to thank you for your support. So many of you have reached out to me and our news staff with your tips, questions and gratitude for our coronavirus coverage. We have been working hard to bring you the most current, factual information on this quickly evolving crisis.

It’s been two astonishing weeks — for all of you, and for all of us.

In my 35 years as a journalist, I can say I’ve never felt so keenly the importance of local journalism to our community. And in my 27 years at The Seattle Times, I’ve never seen the entire company rally behind our mission the way we are now.

We are working at a breakneck pace to report rapidly changing news developments such as closures, new cases and travel restrictions. We are asking tough questions to hold officials accountable, while also telling of the extreme challenges they face. We’re capturing moments of heart-wrenching struggle and uplifting acts of kindness.

And we are intently focused on providing you with the resources you need to navigate this unsettling time: things like tips for keeping your home virus-free, and this detailed graphic explaining how the virus takes hold and the steps you can take to stay safe.

Many of you have asked what we’re doing to safeguard the health of our staff and the public.

While we don’t pretend to have all the answers — no one does — we’re doing our best. For the first time ever, every newsroom employee is working remotely from home, as are all company employees who are able to do so.

For those who must go out to do their jobs, we are taking extra precautions.

We’ve told all Times employees, including our reporters, photographers and video journalists, to avoid areas where someone has tested positive for COVID-19, and we’ve shared public health guidelines such as keeping a distance of 6 feet or more from people whenever possible. We opted not to provide masks, after health officials advised against their use for healthy people. But we have provided hand sanitizer and have bought special protective gear for those who need it to report from inside hospitals or other high-risk places.

For our operations and circulation staff, as well as our carriers — who don’t have the option of working from home — we are taking every step we can to safeguard their health.

Our staff is fueled by your support. The kind notes, calls and social media messages we are receiving each day have kept us going at moments when we’ve felt exhausted, worried or discouraged.

We’re also heartened to see how many people are coming to us to stay informed. Readership of our website has been triple our normal volume — even 10 times the volume at key breaking-news moments. And despite the fact that we’ve made our coronavirus stories free as a public service, this coverage has drawn new subscribers at record levels.

That’s critical, especially given the fact that while the world feels changed, the economic challenges facing the news business remain the same. If you don’t already subscribe but want us to continue fulfilling the critical role of informing you, please consider joining us in this mission by subscribing. You can do so at seattletimes.com/subscribe or by calling 206-464-2121 or 800-542-0820.

As we head into uncertain times, here are some free useful resources to keep handy:

Additionally, if you have news tips, story ideas or feedback on any of our coverage, please email us at newstips@seattletimes.com.

For all of us, living in this new reality means adapting very suddenly to new routines. We’ve certainly felt that ourselves, and unlike with many big news stories we cover, we are experiencing this one right along with the people we’re writing about.

In fact, that’s one positive side effect of this pandemic: We’re becoming more empathetic by the day, and we see you doing the same.

I’d love to hear from you if you have thoughts or questions for me personally. Feel free to write me at michmflo@seattletimes.com.

On behalf of all of us at The Times, I share our deep appreciation for your continued support of us, and of local journalism.

#LocalNews

March 2, 2020

#boise #localnews #journalism

http://BoiseDev.com

From Don Day in Boise. Don has been covering news in Boise for 20 years. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

‘All eligible editorial staff in the Idaho Statesman newsroom intend to for a union, the group said Monday.

In a letter signed by 16 non-management members of the Statesman’s news staff, the journalists said the intent of the union is to “preserve Idaho news and give our staff a seat at the table.”

Each of the members signed a mission statement and said they delivered it to Statesman publisher Rusty Dodge’s assistant.

The union hopes McClatchy, which owns the Statesman, will voluntarily recognize the organizing effort. Several other McClatchy papers, including the company’s flagship Sacramento Bee, use union labor. If not, the group says it will vote in the next several weeks to form a union among eligible employees. The NewsGuild, part of the Communications Workers of America, will represent the Idaho News Guild, as the group calls itself.

A message to Dodge seeking comment was forwarded to McClatchy’s corporate PR department. A spokesperson did not respond to specific questions, but did provide a statement:

“The Idaho Statesman and McClatchy are reviewing a letter from our journalists in Boise sharing their intention to form a union. We appreciate the right of our journalists to be represented by the News Guild-CWA and will consider their request and respond shortly.”

McClatchy, which entered bankruptcy protection last month, repeatedly cut the newsgathering capabilities of the capital city’s oldest news organization. It faces pressure for a severe downturn in print advertising revenue, plus intense competition for digital advertising from Google and Facebook. The company in recent years aggressively turned to build a stronger digital subscription business to stem the losses.

Idaho is a so-called “right-to-work state,” which means a union can’t require employees to join or pay dues in order to get a job. If McClatchy recognizes the union, or a vote to form proves successful, the guild could gain collective bargaining rights over issues like wages, healthcare costs, and other labor issues.’

https://boisedev.com/news/2020/03/02/idaho-statesman-idaho-news-guild

Idaho News Guild:

Thus far, our union has unanimous support from our 16 eligible members. Each of us signed our mission statement, which we delivered to our publisher today.


Maintaining public media infrastructure should be non-negotiable for a democratic society. We have to be bold.

The McClatchy newspaper chain’s recent filing for bankruptcy is one more data point showing that US journalism is dying. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the newspaper industry has lost more than 50% of its employees since 2001. While several big national papers like the New York Times are healthy, more typical are the closures, bankruptcies, and extreme downsizing that increasingly leave cities, towns and rural communities without local news.

Meanwhile, little evidence suggests that any new market-driven model can rescue newspapers or sustain the journalism that democracy requires. For many areas across the US, there’s simply no commercial option. The market has failed us.

This carnage has attracted opportunistic pathologies, from hedge funds buying up distressed papers and selling them for parts, to news outlets resorting to increasingly dubious forms of advertising and clickbait. A degraded product gives readers even less reason to support local news.

ut tackling the journalism crisis at a systemic level – bringing sustenance to “news deserts” where rich benefactors and foundations are unlikely to go – requires a large public media fund. How do we create it?

Ideally, we’d massively increase federal support for public media. Whether we expand or replace the PBS model is an open question, but this new system must provide for information needs across all types of digital media and platforms.

Maintaining public media infrastructure should be non-negotiable for a democratic society. Short of paying directly out of the treasury, government could help facilitate multiple revenue streams into one large fund. Two objections typically arise: its cost and its relationship to government.

Regarding independence from government, opposition to public media is often ideological, not grounded in empirical evidence. An extensive record shows publicly-subsidized media existing comfortably in democratic countries around the world. Research suggests that public media often are no less critical of government than their private counterparts, and they correlate positively with strong democracies.

Even the US has long subsidized media infrastructure, from the postal system to the internet. Nonetheless, there are legitimate concerns about state capture – just as there are with commercial capture – and yet many democracies have figured out how to make this work. Safeguards and firewalls are both necessary and feasible.

The next question is how do we pay for it? Many options exist. We could raise funds from taxing platforms like Facebook and Google, placing levees on communication devices, and repurposing international broadcasting subsidies. Other sources include spectrum sales and individual tax vouchers. We could leverage already-existing public infrastructures such as post offices, libraries, and public broadcasting stations to provide spaces for local news production.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/19/american-journalism-press-publishing-mcclatchy

The feminine collective.

February 25, 2020

AP PHOTOS: A corps of women covering the Weinstein trial

AXIOS/AP

Corps of women covered Weinstein trial … Much of what the world has seen and heard about Weinstein’s rape trial came from women journalists — the regulars at the Manhattan courthouse who would be there reporting regardless of whether a celebrity was involved.

They’ve put their natural journalistic competitiveness aside to go through their notes to ensure they’re accurately quoting testimony, despite the courtroom’s shoddy sound system and the constant wail of sirens outside.

AP’s Mary Altaffer writes:

‘Much of what the world has seen and heard about Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial has come from a core group of women journalists — the regulars at the Manhattan courthouse who would be there reporting regardless of whether a celebrity was involved.

Down in the cramped press room, they’ve squeezed together to offer other reporters a place to work.

They’ve put their natural journalistic competitiveness aside to go through their notes to ensure they’re accurately quoting testimony, despite the courtroom’s shoddy sound system and the constant wail of sirens outside.

Laptops in hand, they’ve repeatedly made the trek from the courthouse gallery to the hallway to file breaking news updates. During lulls, they’ve turned the adjacent women’s bathroom into a lounge and a news bureau, making calls, jotting notes and taking time for themselves to recharge.’

 

Bankrupt.

February 13, 2020

‘More than 2,000 newspapers ceased production in the last 15 years, according to a recent think-tank report from the Brookings Institution.’

‘The inflection point for McClatchy’s bankruptcy was the failure to get pension relief from Congress. A pension solution appeared hours away from a legislative agreement late last year, before falling victim to partisan politics.

The likely new owners, if the court accepts the plan, would be led by hedge fund Chatham Asset Management LLC. They would operate McClatchy as a privately held company. More than 7 million shares of both publicly available and protected family-owned stock would be canceled.

Chatham Asset Management, a $4.3 billion hedge fund, owns the National Enquirer.’

Not only has the business model changed for newspapers, legacy companies carry large pension obligations that eat into cash flow and profits. McClatchy’s qualified pension covers more than 24,500 current and future retirees — many retired blue-collar workers who manned printing presses or loaded newspapers onto delivery trucks — supported by fewer than 2,800 active employees.

Between 2006 and 2018, McClatchy’s advertising revenue fell by 80 percent and daily print circulation fell by 58.6 percent. While the company has worked over three years to achieve a more sustainable 50-50 split of print vs. digital advertising, those gains couldn’t outpace the approaching pension and debt obligations.’

~

‘McClatchy owns 30 newspapers in 14 states. The publisher’s origins date to 1857, when it began publishing a four-page paper in Sacramento, California, following the California Gold Rush. That paper became The Sacramento Bee. McClatchy’s headquarters remains in Sacramento.’ [AP]

McClatchy Newspapers:

 

CALIFORNIA

  • The Fresno Bee, Fresno
  • Merced Sun-Star, Merced
  • The Modesto Bee, Modesto
  • The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento
  • The Tribune, San Luis Obispo

FLORIDA

  • Bradenton Herald, Bradenton
  • El Nuevo Herald, Miami
  • Miami Herald, Miami
  • GEORGIA
  • Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus
  • The Telegraph, Macon

IDAHO

  • Idaho Statesman, Boise

ILLINOIS

  • Belleville News-Democrat, Belleville

KANSAS

  • The Wichita Eagle, Wichita

KENTUCKY

  • Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington

MISSISSIPPI

  • Sun Herald, Biloxi

MISSOURI

  • The Kansas City Star, Kansas City

NORTH CAROLINA

  • The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte
  • The Herald-Sun, Durham
  • The News & Observer, Raleigh

SOUTH CAROLINA

  • The Beaufort Gazette, Beaufort
  • The State, Columbia
  • The Island Packet, Hilton Head Island
  • The Sun News, Myrtle Beach
  • The Herald, Rock Hill

PENNSYLVANIA

  • Centre Daily Times, State College

TEXAS

  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fort Worth

WASHINGTON

  • Bellingham Herald, Bellingham
  • Tri-City Herald, Kennewick
  • The Olympian, Olympia
  • The News Tribune, Tacoma

https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article240139933.html

#MustRead ~ Information Ecosystem

February 12, 2020

Truths kindle light for truths.

-Julius Caesar

“What you have is a presidential campaign that is pushing lies and distortions and conspiracy theories into the bloodstream at an unprecedented rate,” says Atlantic writer McKay Coppins.

“Eventually, the fear of covert propaganda inflicts as much damage as the propaganda itself.”

The Atlantic

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election

“One day last fall, I sat down to create a new Facebook account. I picked a forgettable name, snapped a profile pic with my face obscured, and clicked “Like” on the official pages of Donald Trump and his reelection campaign. Facebook’s algorithm prodded me to follow Ann Coulter, Fox Business, and a variety of fan pages with names like “In Trump We Trust.” I complied. I also gave my cellphone number to the Trump campaign, and joined a handful of private Facebook groups for MAGA diehards, one of which required an application that seemed designed to screen out interlopers.

It’s been reported that the RNC and the Trump campaign have compiled an average of 3,000 data points on every voter in America. And so that means everything from what you like to watch on TV, what kind of stores you shop at, whether you’ve been to a gun show or own a gun. They’ve compiled all this data, and they can use it to carefully tailor messages just for you. And I should say that this is not unique to the Trump campaign. This isn’t something Brad Parscale invented. Barack Obama’s campaign famously did it in 2012. The Clinton campaign did it as well in 2016. But the Trump campaign’s effort was different, both because it was much more extensive and also, frankly, a lot more brazen.

The Trump campaign is planning to spend more than $1 billion, and it will be aided by a vast coalition of partisan media, outside political groups, and enterprising freelance operatives. These pro-Trump forces are poised to wage what could be the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history. Whether or not it succeeds in reelecting the president, the wreckage it leaves behind could be irreparable.”

The Death Star

The campaign is run from the 14th floor of a gleaming, modern office tower in Rosslyn, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. Glass-walled conference rooms look out on the Potomac River. Rows of sleek monitors line the main office space. Unlike the bootstrap operation that first got Trump elected—with its motley band of B-teamers toiling in an unfinished space in Trump Tower—his 2020 enterprise is heavily funded, technologically sophisticated, and staffed with dozens of experienced operatives. One Republican strategist referred to it, admiringly, as “the Death Star.”

Next hit? Local News

Parscale has indicated that he plans to open up a new front in this war: local news. Last year, he said the campaign intends to train “swarms of surrogates” to undermine negative coverage from local TV stations and newspapers. Polls have long found that Americans across the political spectrum trust local news more than national media. If the campaign has its way, that trust will be eroded by November. “We can actually build up and fight with the local newspapers,” Parscale told donors, according to a recording provided by The Palm Beach Post. “So we’re not just fighting on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC with the same 700,000 people watching every day.”

Running parallel to this effort, some conservatives have been experimenting with a scheme to exploit the credibility of local journalism. Over the past few years, hundreds of websites with innocuous-sounding names like the Arizona Monitor and The Kalamazoo Times have begun popping up. At first glance, they look like regular publications, complete with community notices and coverage of schools. But look closer and you’ll find that there are often no mastheads, few if any bylines, and no addresses for local offices. Many of them are organs of Republican lobbying groups; others belong to a mysterious company called Locality Labs, which is run by a conservative activist in Illinois. Readers are given no indication that these sites have political agendas—which is precisely what makes them valuable.

Censorship Through Noise

The political theorist Hannah Arendt once wrote that the most successful totalitarian leaders of the 20th century instilled in their followers “a mixture of gullibility and cynicism.” When they were lied to, they chose to believe it. When a lie was debunked, they claimed they’d known all along—and would then “admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.” Over time, Arendt wrote, the onslaught of propaganda conditioned people to “believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.”

[full read]

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/03/the-2020-disinformation-war/605530/

President Barack Obama: Even if the methods are new, sowing the seeds of doubt, division, and discord to turn Americans against each other is an old trick. The antidote is citizenship: to get engaged, organized, mobilized, and to vote – on every level, in every election. 02.11.20 [twitter]

Fresh Air with Terry Gross

“The 2020 Disinformation War,” is in the current issue of The Atlantic, where McKay Coppins is a staff writer. He writes about how the Trump campaign and a vast coalition of partisan media, outside political groups and freelance operatives are poised to wage what could be the most extensive disinformation campaign in U.S. history. As part of his research, Coppins tried to live in the same media and social media world as Trump supporters so he could monitor the information or disinformation they were receiving.”

Coppins:

“A lot of these illiberal leaders have discovered that in the Internet age, in the social media age, in what scholars call the information abundance age, it’s a lot easier to harness the power of social media for their own means. So rather than shutting down dissenting voices, they’ve learned to use the democratizing power of social media to jam the signals or sow confusion. They don’t have to, you know, silence the dissident who’s shouting in the streets; they can actually just drown him out. And I think that over time, you’ve seen this in other countries – certainly in the Baltic states, in Eastern Europe, Russia.

If journalism and facts are treated as equal in credibility to partisan propaganda or lies from political leaders, if it’s all one level playing field, then it becomes almost impossible for political leaders to be held accountable for their actions because you have a population that’s either disengaged or distracted or confused and unable to kind of respond to the various corruptions and scandals and things that they’re getting away with.

Matthew Boyle, an editor at Breitbart who is often involved in this effort, gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation in 2017 where he said, journalistic integrity is dead. There is no such thing anymore. So everything now is about weaponization of information. And that’s really at the root of this whole enterprise. They’re not trying to make journalists be better or get them to do their jobs better. They’re trying to discredit them and weaponize information and make it so that journalism and facts are seen as on par with political talking points and propaganda.”

https://www.npr.org/2020/02/11/804811544/journalist-details-brazen-ways-trump-will-use-his-power-to-get-reelected


AP

AXIOS

 

Persevere Beyond the Noise

January 30, 2020

https://www.emersoncollective.com/media-journalism/

AXIOS:

Emerson Collective initial launch partner for new NowThis division

NowThis, the millennial social video media outlet that’s part of Group Nine Media, will announce today the launch of NowThis Impact, a new editorial division that covers social issues and is underwritten by non-profits.

Why it matters: Underwriting editorial content is becoming a bigger trend as more philanthropy and non-profit money floods into journalism.

Details: Emerson Collective, a social change organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, will serve as the company’s launch partner.

  • NowThis is looking to announce additional underwriters in coming months.
  • It will work with issue experts to form content partnerships around certain issues that contain specific calls to action.
  • The new product aims to meet the content appetites of NowThis’ audience of progressive and civically-minded millennials.

Be smart: It’s not the first time Group Nine has dabbled in “call-to-action” media/journalism. Its animal franchise, The Dodo, has in the past directed its audience to adoption resources.

Disclosure: Emerson Collective is an investor in Axios.

A C T I V E   L I S T E N I N G

How To Listen To People You Disagree With

JOURNALISM

by Patrick D’Arcy

Early last year, Amanda Ripley had a revelation: she wasn’t a great listener. “It was hugely disturbing, because it’s my job,” she says. Ripley is a journalist who writes for The Atlantic and The Washington Post. She was studying conflict as a way to understand political polarization. Through her research, she realized that one key to understanding – and sometimes even resolving – conflict is whether the parties involved feel heard or not.

Most people aren’t great listeners – including doctors and bosses and all kinds of people whose job requires listening. As Ripley sees it, journalists are conditioned to over-simplify polarizing topics or complex characters so that readers can more easily understand the reporting. But in doing so, journalists flatten incredibly complicated, nuanced topics and leave people more entrenched than ever. Ripley wrote about this revelation in a viral piece last year, Complicating the Narratives.

Now, Ripley, an Emerson Collective Senior Fellow, is working with the Solutions Journalism Network to train journalists on how to conduct better interviews, particularly about polarizing subjects. Ripley’s work is part of a larger movement  to bridge political and cultural divides and revive healthy democractic debate in the U.S.

Ripley recently spoke with Patrick D’Arcy, Emerson Collective’s Director of Fellowships and Portfolio Communications, about the broader implications of her research on conflict and the essential, overlooked role of listening in a healthy democracy – and the Thanksgiving dinner table.

People will put up with a lot of difference if they feel heard. People will open up to different ideas and opinions.

https://www.emersoncollective.com/articles/2019/11/how-to-listen-to-people-you-disagree-with/

Essay: https://thewholestory.solutionsjournalism.org/22-questions-that-complicate-the-narrative-47f2649efa0e

“What do you want to understand? Conversation techniques, interview questions, and stellar story examples born from a conflict mediation training — for journalists”

https://youtu.be/FtCfGswZSjg
~
CONSIDER

Senator Cory Booker:

“This is a moral moment. The moral vandal that’s in the White House right now, he may win this day, but he will not win our nation. We are America. We’re going to find a way to regroup, heal, [and] be the moral nation that I know we are.”

“Never stop being a prisoner of hope.”

Marianne Williamson:

“The president’s defense team arguing for what is basically unlimited presidential power is chilling. Even if they get away with it – which they probably will – it’s important to remember that we the voters are the ultimate judge and jury. We’ll deliver our judgement in November.”

Philosopher/author Martha Nussbaum:

“To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control.”

Mary Louise Kelly

January 28, 2020

[Former Pen America Center president Francine Prose’s appreciation of Mary Louise Kelly in The Guardian.]

‘Mary Louise Kelly stood her ground…supporters of accountability journalism have the occasion to celebrate the courage of DC’s elite political journalists – Too many political reporters choose to pull their punches to maintain access.’

One brave political reporter raises the bar for her timid colleagues

Mary Louise Kelly stood her ground.

Kelly, who is the host of NPR’s All Things Considered and a veteran national security correspondent, made the best of her on-the-record interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by posing tough questions and calling him out when he answered with lies.

Then, after he summoned her to his office, tried unsuccessfully to challenge her competence, and cursed her out, she went public.

It’s not often that supporters of accountability journalism have the occasion to celebrate the courage of Washington’s elite political journalists – and from NPR, no less. Too many political reporters choose to pull their punches to maintain access.

-Dan Froomkin/Press Watchers, An Intervention for Political Journalism

 

American Journalism

December 29, 2019

An upcoming documentary, “Stripped for Parts: American Journalism at the Crossroads,” documents the fight being waged by newspapers nationwide to continue reporting the news despite growing threats to push local journalism toward extinction.

[Society for Professional Journalists]

This film is currently in production.

Kovno Communications, Inc. (KCI) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization which was founded in 1997 with a mission to develop, produce and distribute film and video for educational purposes.  Rick Goldsmith, two-time Academy Award-nominated director, is the principal filmmaker and President of Kovno Communications.

“We welcome your support as we document this important story of local journalism in America. Donate to our project. All contributions are tax-deductible.”

Stripped for Parts: American Journalism at the Crossroads

Local Journalism Reigns

December 21, 2019

Queens man impeached

Dec. 19, 2019

by Victoria Merlino

Former Jamaica Estates resident Donald Trump was impeached Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the third president to be impeached in United States history — and the first from Queens.

Trump is accused of pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate political rival and Democratic candidate for president, Joe Biden, and of withholding military aid until the Ukrainians conducted the investigation. He is also accused of obstructing the Congressional investigation. 

Trump fired off a series of tweets on Thursday over the impeachment process, calling it “presidential harassment” and directing ire at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

“Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up! The Do Nothings are so bad for our Country!” he wrote

The charges will be sent to the Republican-controlled Senate, initiating a trial that could have lasting ramifications in the 2020 presidential election. 

The entire Queens House delegation voted in favor of impeachment.

“Today, I voted to impeach President Donald Trump … I did so with a heavy heart for our country, but a clear conscience. I did so, because, above all, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” U.S. Rep. Grace Meng wrote in a statement on Twitter

“No normal person would be able to get away with attempting to extort a foreign power to compromise our country,” U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “But all too often, the most corrupt and powerful people grow so accustomed to life with impunity that standard accountability feels to them like unjust persecution.”

Trump’s old Jamaica Estates home, where he lived as an infant until he was four years old, went back on the market after it was sold to a Chinese investor and rented on Airbnb for $725 a night, according to Curbed

Trump’s parents’ graves are located at All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village. The cemetery was slapped with a lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James earlier this year for allegedly misappropriating funds.

[Buried mid-paper.]

Jay Rosen: asymmetrical polarization

December 18, 2019
is a media critic, writer, and a professor of journalism at New York University. Rosen is a contributor to De Correspondent and a member of the George Foster Peabody Awards[1] board of directors.

The Media Today

“Both sides”

By Jon Allsop, CJR

As impeachment has progressed, attacks on the “both sides” approach—and the Times, in particular—have intensified. Over the weekend, critics trained their ire on an article in the paper, headlined “The Breach Widens as Congress Nears a Partisan Impeachment,” about a debate in the Judiciary Committee. Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight, noted that the actual words “both sides” appeared four times in the piece. (One of these was in a quotation.)

As impeachment has progressed, attacks on the “both sides” approach—and the Times, in particular—have intensified. Over the weekend, critics trained their ire on an article in the paper, headlined “The Breach Widens as Congress Nears a Partisan Impeachment,” about a debate in the Judiciary Committee. Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight, noted that the actual words “both sides” appeared four times in the piece. (One of these was in a quotation.) Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU, listed 12 more snippets from the article as evidence of the Times’s inability to handle what he calls “asymmetrical polarization.” They included “the different impeachment realities that the two parties are living in,” “both sides engaged in a kind of mutually assured destruction,” and “the two parties could not even agree on a basic set of facts in front of them.”

Rosen is right that this sort of language is inadequate: Democrats, for the most part, are engaging with the factual record; Republicans, for the most part, are not. These positions are manifestly not equivalent. Treating them as such does not serve any useful concept of fairness; instead, it rebounds clearly to the advantage of the one side (Republicans) for whom nonsense being taken seriously is a victory in itself. The Times is far from the only culprit. The structure of some TV news shows, in particular, has bothsidesism hardwired into it: a Democrat and a Republican are given equal time to make their unequal impeachment cases, and both face hard questions, to contrive a sense of balance. The questions lobbed at Democrats are often fair, but often pale into triviality when a Republican follows them on and starts sowing conspiracy theories.

When it comes to much impeachment coverage, bothsidesism isn’t the beginning and end of the problem, but part of our broader reflex to frame contentious political stories around the concept of partisanship. In parts of the press, a set of party-oriented impeachment narratives has taken hold that contains some truth, but also rests on a selective interpretation of available evidence. Entrenched partisanship—in Congress and the country—is real, and newsworthy, as is the role that our fragmented information ecosystem has played in stoking and reinforcing division. And yet it does not follow, as some journalists and pundits seem to have surmised, that impeachment has been a waste of time. At the beginning of his show yesterday, Todd said the “national response” to impeachment has been “whatever.” And yet, as I wrote earlier this month, support for impeaching DT, while recently static, is historically high. (A Fox News poll out yesterday reinforced that finding.) Six Republicans in Michigan are not the country.

The media’s job, done properly, is multidirectional: it holds power to account, and communicates matters of public interest to news consumers. On impeachment, too much coverage seems to have got stuck in a feedback loop: we’re telling the public that politicians aren’t budging from their partisan siloes, and vice versa, with the facts of what Trump actually did getting lost somewhere in the cycle. The cult of “both sides” is integral to this dynamic, and it’s serving the impeachment story poorly. Now, more than ever, our top duty should be to fight for the truth.

https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/both-sides-impeachment-trump.php

Fleeting efforts at persuasion by members of the Judiciary Committee gave way to disputes over basic facts during a marathon debate over articles of impeachment.

 

PBS/Journalism Deserts

December 16, 2019

The danger of losing local news.

Over the last 15 years, local newspapers across the U.S. have lost more than $35 billion in advertising revenue and half of their staffs, while at least 2,000 news outlets have shuttered during that time, according to a new study by the non-profit PEN America. Viktorya Vilk, who co-authored the report, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss how the decline of local news is impacting civic engagement.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/growing-local-news-deserts-endanger-democracy-study-finds?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=pbsofficial&utm_campaign=newshour

Journalism, Disinformation & The Weakening 4th Estate

December 8, 2019

U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

For student journalists, the beats are the same but the protections are different

‘The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, which documents First Amendment aggressions in the United States, has collected student journalism-based incidents at both the university and high school levels. Since its launch in 2017, the Tracker has documented five cases of high school newspapers being censored or placed under prior review for their coverage of controversial topics. At the university level, it has collected two arrests, two physical attacks and three border stop involving student journalists, as well as three cases of subpoenas or legal orders.

In recognition of the expansion of student journalism as a key source of accountability and record for their local communities, two of the Tracker’s partners—the Student Press Law Center and the Newseum—along with the Freedom Forum Institute, declared 2019 the “Year of the Student Journalist.” This year also marks the 50th anniversary of a key Supreme Court decision in favor of student First Amendment rights: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District.

While the Vietnam-era case of Tinker centered on students wearing armbands in protest, it has become the bellwether for free speech and journalism at both the high school and university levels. The 7-2 ruling iconically stated that neither “students [n]or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

While Tinker holds—for now—the state of journalism is rapidly changing. With legacy newsrooms shuttering and the number of working journalists contracting as freelancers increasing, the role of the student journalist has expanded to fill some of the void.’

Why it matters: The death of local news in America is routinely cited as one of the country’s biggest threats to democracy. With fewer opportunities in local journalism and less job security at the local level, finding talent to fill local newsrooms has become a central focus.

Even without the week’s depressing report on just how widespread is the loss of local news — 400 counties and counting, with no newspaper — let us be thankful for the people who are still out there trying to be watchdogs on local institutions. “If every American gave 30 minutes a day to an earnest and open-minded effort to stay on top of the news, we might actually find our way out of this crisis.”

AXIOS

We have to talk about technocracy, how it has driven massive sociopolitical change.

Media outfits, breaking from the high-minded, dispassionate liberalism that dominated journalism in the middle decades of the 20th century, earn enormous profits by whipping millions of viewers into a frenzy of furious anger at perceived slights and condescension. Political campaigns and even whole social movements are motivated by the perception of disrespect.

Bill Moyers:

“A democracy can die of too many lies. And we’re getting close to that terminal moment unless we reverse the obsession with lies that are being fed around the country.”

NPR

If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed.

That’s one implication of a new study from Stanford researchers that evaluated students’ ability to assess information sources and described the results as “dismaying,” “bleak” and “[a] threat to democracy.”

As content creators and social media platforms grapple with the fake news crisis, the study highlights the other side of the equation: What it looks like when readers are duped.

The researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education have spent more than a year evaluating how well students across the country can evaluate online sources of information.

In exercise after exercise, the researchers were “shocked” — their word, not ours — by how many students failed to effectively evaluate the credibility of that information.

The students displayed a “stunning and dismaying consistency” in their responses, the researchers wrote, getting duped again and again. They weren’t looking for high-level analysis of data but just a “reasonable bar” of, for instance, telling fake accounts from real ones, activist groups from neutral sources and ads from articles.

Most middle school students can’t tell native ads from articles.

The researchers showed hundreds of middle schoolers a Slate home page that included a traditional ad and a “native ad” — a paid story branded as “sponsored content” — as well as Slate articles.

Most students could identify the traditional ad, but more than 80 percent of them believed that the “sponsored content” article was a real news story.

“Some students even mentioned that it was sponsored content but still believed that it was a news article,” the researchers wrote, suggesting the students don’t know what “sponsored content” means.

Most high school students accept photographs as presented, without verifying them.

Most college students didn’t suspect potential bias in a tweet from an activist group.

The researchers sent undergraduate students a link to a tweet by MoveOn about gun owners’ feelings on background checks, citing a survey by Public Policy Polling.

“The kinds of duties that used to be the responsibility of editors, of librarians now fall on the shoulders of anyone who uses a screen to become informed about the world,” Wineburg told NPR. “And so the response is not to take away these rights from ordinary citizens but to teach them how to thoughtfully engage in information seeking and evaluating in a cacophonous democracy.”

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/23/503129818/study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from-real

 

Journalism, Social Media & Radicalization

October 30, 2019

What leads an internet user down a path of radicalization?

A team of journalists from The Correspondent and de Volkstrant investigated and analyzed the data. 

How They Did It: Exposing Right-Wing Radicalization on YouTube

We started by investigating the rise of the alt-right on more obscure forums like 4chan and 8chan as well as on the popular chat app Discord. We were soon struck by the many references extremists made to YouTube videos, and decided to explore this platform.

The amount of right-wing extremist content available on YouTube turned out to be overwhelming: There was racism, antisemitism, antifeminism, white nationalism, and conspiracies on “cultural marxism,” “white genocide,” and “the great replacement” (the idea that white people are slowly being replaced by nonwhites through birth rates and immigration).

Around the same time, researchers began to worry that YouTube’s recommendation algorithm was exacerbating the spread of extremist content by slowly pulling viewers into a rabbit hole of hate. The recommendations that popped up when users were watching videos would slowly become more extreme: A user could start out with a left-leaning video on racism and slowly but surely end up, through a series of recommendations, watching right-wing extremist content.

[…]

In the end, we compiled a list of 1,500 channels, about evenly spread on the left-right spectrum. YouTube has a very liberal API with which you can query the database for a lot of metadata. We wrote extensive software (packaged in a reusable Python library) to examine:

  • 600,000 videos
  • 450,000 transcripts of those videos (by using YouTube’s automatic closed-captioning service, which is not available for all videos)
  • 120 million comments on those videos
  • 20 million recommendations automatically generated from viewing those videos

That’s a lot of data — about 100 GB. But what to do with it?

Full article: https://gijn.org/2019/10/28/how-they-did-it-exposing-right-wing-radicalization-on-youtube/

TV News and Disinformation

October 9, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES – 2019/02/06: The CNN logo is seen atop its bureau in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Jay Rosen: 

“What if the hosts threw their shows over to the beat reporters more often? What if guests who lied weren’t brought on again? What if people who had worked on campaigns couldn’t be brought on to spin the news unmitigated?”

[Jay Rosen is a media critic and journalism professor Studio 20 program at NYU.]

CNN public editor: What actually is CNN?

By Emily Tamkin

WHEN I THINK OF CNN—when I watch it, or when I scroll through Twitter, or when I think of what I want to write about it—I think of what Jeff Zucker, CNN president, said in 2017: “The idea that politics is sport is undeniable, and we understood it and approached it that way.”

The contrast now is stark. It’s not that the CNN beat reporters are good and hosts are bad—many of the latter are accomplished journalists, too. It’s just that what is mostly reflected on the screen—especially during prime time—seems to be less news reporting, more punditry, more round tables, more horse race politics, more talking heads, more interviews and interviewees yelling at each other, more that makes the news more confusing for the viewer (or at least for this viewer).

I find myself wrestling with this tension when I write these columns. I know I’m not the only one: Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir went on Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources and expressed frustration that the networks were more focused on politics than on policy, and that, on TV news shows, “it tends to be a game”. (Stelter, to his credit, acknowledged that many viewers agree, and that “the shiny object, the sensationalism, it’s a problem.”)

https://www.cjr.org/public_editor/cnn-coverage-reporting.php

 

 

Everyday Colonialism

The past is still present: why colonialism deserves better coverage

By Elliot Ross

 

Countries such as Britain and the USA also retain control over colonial territories. And let’s not forget the settler colonial countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, where the colonisation of indigenous lands has been entrenched and institutionalised in the long-term.

Colonial domination not only shapes our ideas about race, but also strongly influences how people think about class, culture, gender, and sexuality

The roots of and corrupt government run deep. Purely cultural, explanations not only risk reproducing racist tropes, they mask the role of powerful international corporate interests in sustaining systems of resource extraction, profiteering, exploitation and  rent-seeking that sustain the underlying economic transactions that has always made colonialism financially profitable for colonisers.

Everyday Colonialism is also about probing my own status as a beneficiary of these long histories

https://thecorrespondent.com/32/the-past-is-still-present-why-colonialism-deserves-better-coverage/140821472-0acb8548

#Truth

October 6, 2019

“Truth cannot be given the same level of coverage as falsehood. We shouldn’t make them equivalent. It’s not partisan for the media to be partisan towards the truth.”

-EJ Dionne, American journalist, political commentator, and long-time op-ed columnist for The Washington Post.

 

A message to the Fourth Estate: Don’t amplify the lies. Report truth.


 

1 year

October 2, 2019

For most of corporate America, nothing has really changed in the last year — despite initial promises and action, writes Axios’ Dan Primack.

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is once again hosting his prized “Davos in the Desert,” which saw a rush of cancellations last year, and he wouldn’t have risked a repeat embarrassment.
  • Most big companies never stopped doing business with the Saudis. Or, in the case of Wall Street, trying to get Saudi business. That’s particularly true when it comes to deals like the upcoming Aramco IPO, which could be the largest global float of all time.

The bottom line: MBS bet that CEOs didn’t care enough. He was right.

Frontline

Season 2019 Episode 13 | 1h 54m 48s

‘A year after the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, FRONTLINE investigates the rise of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. In a two-hour documentary, Martin Smith — who has covered the Middle East for FRONTLINE for 20 years — examines the crown prince’s vision for the future of Saudi Arabia, his handling of dissent and his ties to Khashoggi’s killing.’

https://www.pbs.org/video/crown-prince-saudi-arabia-1jt2ey/

The Media Divide

October 1, 2019

[Data: Morning Consult. Table: Axios Visuals[

News media companies make up 12 of the 15 most polarizing brands in America today, according to a new Morning Consult poll provided to Axios media trends expert Sara Fischer.

  • CNN and Fox News continue to be the most divisive news companies.
  • Why it matters: The gap between how Republicans and Democrats view national media brands like CNN and Fox News continues to widen, according to the polling, which points to an increase in America’s polarization.

Between the lines: The gap is being driven by substantial decreases in Republican approval of media brands other than Fox News.

  • The difference between how the two parties viewed CNN grew from a 66-point gap last year to an 80-point gap this year, due to a 12-point drop in net favorability among Republicans, from -13% to -25%.
  • Republicans held more negative views than Democrats of every media outlet on the list except for Fox News.
  • The difference between how the two parties view Fox News grew from a 54-point gap last year to a 74-point gap this year.

The bottom line: Even outlets that are generally considered nonpartisan, like ABC News and CNBC, rank among the most polarizing brands in America.

AXIOS

 

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