WASHINGTON — Extensive work was well underway on a new $20 bill bearing the image of Harriet Tubman when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced last month that the design of the note would be delayed for technical reasons by six years and might not include the former slave and abolitionist.
Many Americans were deeply disappointed with the delay of the bill, which was to be the first to bear the face of an African-American. The change would push completion of the imagery past DT’s time in office, even if he wins a second term, stirring speculation that Mr. Trump had intervened to keep his favorite president, Andrew Jackson, a fellow populist, on the front of the note.
But Mr. Mnuchin, testifying before Congress, said new security features under development made the 2020 design deadline set by the Obama administration impossible to meet, so he punted Tubman’s fate to a future Treasury secretary.
In fact, work on the new $20 note began before DT took office, and the basic design already on paper most likely could have satisfied the goal of unveiling a note bearing Tubman’s likeness on next year’s centennial of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
That preliminary design was completed in late 2016.
A spokeswoman for the bureau, Lydia Washington, confirmed that preliminary designs of the new note were created as part of research that was done after Jacob J. Lew, President Barack Obama’s final Treasury secretary, proposed the idea of a Tubman bill.
The development of the note did not stop there.
A current employee of the bureau, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, personally viewed a metal engraving plate and a digital image of a Tubman $20 bill while it was being reviewed by engravers and Secret Service officials as recently as May 2018. This person said that the design appeared to be far along in the process.
Within the bureau, this person said, there was a sense of excitement and pride about the new $20 note.
But the Treasury Department, which oversees the engraving bureau, decided that a new $20 bill would not be made public next year. Current and former department officials say Mr. Mnuchin chose the delay to avoid the possibility that Mr. Trump would cancel the plan outright and create even more controversy.
In an interview last week, Mr. Mnuchin denied that the reasons for the delay were anything but technical.
“Let me assure you, this speculation that we’ve slowed down the process is just not the case,” Mr. Mnuchin said, speaking on the sidelines of the G-20 finance ministers meeting in Japan.
The Treasury secretary reiterated that security features drive the change of the currency and rejected the notion that political interference was at play. He declined to say if he believed his predecessor had tried to politicize the currency.
Interagency, including the Secret Service and others and B.E.P., that are all career officials that are focused on this,” he said, referring to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. “They’re working as fast as they can.”
Monica Crowley, a spokeswoman for Mr. Mnuchin, added that the release into circulation of the new $20 note remained on schedule with the bureau’s original timeline of 2030. She did not, however, say that the bill would feature Tubman.
“The scheduled release (printing) of the $20 bill is on a timetable consistent with the previous administration,” she said in a statement.
But building the security features of a new note before designing its images struck some as curious. Larry E. Rolufs, a former director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, said that because the security features of a new note are embedded in the imagery, they normally would be created simultaneously.
“It can be done at the same time,” said Mr. Rolufs, who led the bureau from 1995 to 1997. “You want to work them together.”
The process of developing American currency is painstaking, done by engravers who spend a decade training as apprentices. People familiar with the process say that engravers spend months working literally upside down and backward carving the portraits of historical figures into the steel plates that eventually help create cash. Often, multiple engravers will attempt different versions of the portraits, usually based on paintings or photographs, and ultimately, the Treasury secretary chooses which one will appear on a note.
Mr. Rolufs said that because of the complexity of creating new currency, circulating a new note design by next year was ambitious. He also acknowledged that making major changes to the money is an invitation for backlash.
“For the secretary to change the design of the notes takes political courage,” he said. “The American people don’t like their currency messed with.”
As a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump called the decision to replace Jackson, who was a slave owner, with Tubman “pure political correctness.” An overhaul of the Treasury Department’s website after Mr. Trump took office removed any trace of the Obama administration’s plans to change the currency, signaling that the plan might be halted.
Within Mr. Trump’s Treasury Department, some officials complained that Mr. Lew had politicized the currency with the plan and that the process of selecting Tubman, which included an online poll among other forms of feedback, was not rigorous or reflective of the country’s desires.
The uncertainty has renewed interest in the matter. This week, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, where Tubman was born, wrote a letter to Mr. Mnuchin urging him to find a way to speed up the process.
“I hope that you’ll reconsider your decision and instead join our efforts to promptly memorialize Tubman’s life and many achievements,” wrote Mr. Hogan, a Republican.
And last week, a group of House Democrats demanded that the Treasury secretary provide specific information about the security concerns that were impeding the currency redesign.
At the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which offers tours and an exhibit on the history of the currency, some visitors said they preferred tradition, while others were seeking change.
“For me, it’s not important enough to spend the money to change it,” said Jeff Dunyon, who was visiting Washington from Utah this week. “There are other ways to honor her.”
Charnay Gima, a tourist from Hawaii, had just finished a tour when she pulled aside a guide to ask a question that was bothering her. She wanted to know what became of the plan to make Tubman the face of the $20 bill.
To Ms. Gima’s dismay, there was no sign of Tubman in any of the bureau’s exhibits. The plan was scrapped, she was told, for political reasons.
“It’s kind of sad,” said Ms. Gima, who is black. “I was really looking forward to it because it was finally someone of color on the bill who paved the way for other people.”
‘Florence will be yours, and Pisa’s cathedral, Moscow with bells like memories, and the Troika convent, and the monastery whose maze of tunnels lies swallowed under Kiev’s gardens.’
-Rilke, The Book of Hours II, 10
‘Therefore, the meaning of my life is not to be looked for merely in the sum total of my own achievements. It is seen only in the complete integration of my achievement and failures with the achievements and failures of my own generation, my own society and time.’
-Thomas Merton, No Man Is An Island
I’m a (big) fan. Rutger Bregman is a historian and author of Utopia for Realists. He writes for The Correspondent, an independent, inclusive, ad-free journalism platform founded in the Netherlands, soon to have an operation in the U.S.
“Greta Thunberg and Alexandria are often dismissed as ‘radical’ or ‘out of touch’. But the reality is: their radicalism is the future. While the planet is heating up, it’s the so-called ‘moderates’ who are out of touch.” pic.twitter.com/kVw10f76sh
“By the way, the biggest waste of our time is the waste of talent. Many bankers are way too smart to be working on Wall Street. Many coders are way too smart to be working for Uber or Amazon. They should be solving climate change, poverty, disease, etc. “Most populist radical-right voters are *not* working class
–> The majority of the working class does *not* support the populist radical right.
–> If social democracy is to survive, we need to return to its core values.” pic.twitter.com/eAap5e7dBb
Post from Rutger: “So this is Rupert Murdoch reading my book on universal basic income, the 15-hour workweek, and open borders around the globe. I’m sure he’ll love it.”
Why copying the populist right isn’t going to save the left
Social democratic parties have been losing ground for more than two decades – but pandering to rightwing anxieties about immigration is not the solution.
By Cas Mudde
Most populist radical-right voters are not working class, and the majority of the working class does not support the populist radical right.
These errors are based on a larger misunderstanding about the history of social democratic parties. Social democracy is an ideology that supports egalitarianism and social justice through the framework of liberal democracy and a mixed economy. Inspired by the Marxist concept of class struggle, social democracy aims to uplift all marginalised groups. But those who argue that centre-left parties need to pander to white anxiety about immigration are essentially saying that social democratic parties are first and foremost an interest group for “the working class” – which is always, in these accounts, assumed to be white.
This misdiagnosis of the decline of the centre-left – and the rise of the populist right – leads to the wrong prescription for reviving social democracy. In fact, centre-left parties have been trying to “act tough” on immigration for decades, and have often supported policies to limit immigration, but it has not prevented their decline.
Better Schools Won’t Fix America
Like many rich Americans, I used to think educational investment could heal the country’s ills—but I was wrong. Fighting inequality must come first.
12-Year-Old Crime Reporter Gives Commencement Address at West Virginia University Media School
The Daily Beast
“Her speech moved on to some of the journalism lessons she’s learned throughout her young career. Hilde Lysiak reminded graduates to “keep your ledes tight… talk to real people,” and “trust no one.” “And most importantly of all, stay laser focused on the truth,” Lysiak said. “If you do these things, I believe that history will look back on this moment not as the last dark days before the profession of journalism died, but as the new beginning.”
On her Orange Street News website you can read and listen to Hilde Lysiak’s full commencement speech. Here are a couple of excerpts:
Talk to Real People
Politicians and law enforcement can be great sources of information.
But my best stories never came from a press release — they came from biking down my main street, knocking on doors, and talking to the real people.
Who are the real people?
These are the small business owners. That group of old people who hang out at the coffee shop. Or just that nice neighbor man who is raking leaves.
It is here, buried in the nosey lady next door or at the church dinner, where the real nuggets of gold can be found.
Real people have real stories.
And if you take the time to listen, you would be amazed at what the real everyday people know.
Look — readers are smart. More often than not when given the right facts they will come to the right conclusions.
That’s the power of the truth. The power of facts.
And THAT is the REAL super power of a reporter.
Which leads me to my next point —
9) Don’t Mix Politics and Reporting —
Look — I believe the future has never been brighter for reporters.
Think about it. Has there ever been a time when more people wanted or needed the news more than at THIS very moment right now?
Because of the internet, people from all around the world can access information anytime and anywhere and all from the screen of their smartphone.
This isn’t a good thing.
This is a great thing.
Each one of these people is a potential subscriber to the Orange Street News.
Oh but I know what the skeptics all say, that newspapers might get online readers, but they don’t make money anymore.
To answer that claim, I’d like to point them to the only newspaper that exclusively serves the people of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.
I’m proud to say that the newspaper I’m the publisher of, the Orange Street News, DOES make a profit. And I do this while also publishing all my stories online for free and without accepting paid a single dollar in advertising. In fact, my print subscribers are enough for me to pay for all of my expenses including printing along with a few upgrades.
Orange Street News
“No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.” — António Guterres, UN Secretary General
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.
It is an opportunity to:
- celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
- assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
- defend the media from attacks on their independence;
- and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
@mmfa study: Major media outlets fail to debunk DT’s false or misleading statements in their tweets 65% of the time, amplifying his misinformation an average of 19 times per day.
“Why does this matter? Studies show 60% of Americans don’t read past the headlines, and the same proportion share tweets without clicking through. Media practices should reflect the way people consume news.”
Study: Major media outlets’ Twitter accounts amplify false DT claims on average 19 times a day
- 30% of the tweets by major media outlets’ Twitter accounts about DT remarks referenced a false or misleading statement.
- Nearly two-thirds of the time, the outlets did not dispute that misinformation.
- That means the outlets amplified false or misleading DT claims without disputing them 407 times over the three weeks of the study, an average of 19 times a day.
- The extent to which outlets’ Twitter feeds passively spread DT’s misinformation depended on the platform in which DT made his comments. For example:
- 92% of false or misleading DT claims went undisputed when he was speaking at a press gaggle or pool spray.
- 49% of false or misleading DT claims went undisputed when outlets were responding to comments he made during formal speeches.
- @TheHill was the worst actor and sent more than 40% of the tweets that pushed DT’s misinformation without disputing it during our entire study.
Major media outlets failed to rebut DT’s misinformation 65% of the time in their tweets about his false or misleading comments, according to a Media Matters review. That means the outlets amplified DT’s misinformation more than 400 times over the three-week period of the study — a rate of 19 per day.
The data shows that news outlets are still failing to grapple with a major problem that media critics highlighted during the Trump transition: When journalists apply their traditional method of crafting headlines, tweets, and other social media posts to DT, they end up passively spreading misinformation by uncritically repeating his falsehoods.
The way people consume information in the digital age makes the accuracy of a news outlet’s headlines and social media posts more important than ever, because research shows they are the only thing a majority of people actually read. But journalists are trained to treat a politician’s statements as intrinsically newsworthy, often quoting them without context in tweets and headlines and addressing whether the statement was accurate only in the body of the piece, if at all. When the politician’s statements are false, journalists who quote them in headlines and on social media without context end up amplifying the falsehoods.
Anecdotally, it’s been clear for some time that journalists have not adjusted their practices for the DT era in which, according to The Washington Post, DT has already made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims. In recent months, Media Matters has explored how news outlets have passively misinformed the public by passing along misinformation from DT administration figures on topics like threats of violence against journalists, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, potential conflict with North Korea, Special Olympics funding, and whether the Obama administration was “spying” on Trump associates.
The news outlets that spread the most passive misinformation:
- The Hill
- ABC News
- CBS News
Other media Twitter feeds we reviewed that sent 10 or more tweets passing on false or misleading DT comments include MSNBC’s main feed (2.41 million followers, 11 such tweets, failing to dispute 55% of the time); NBC News’ main feed (6.52 million followers, 13 such tweets, failing to dispute 52% of the time); Politico(3.8 million followers, 14 such tweets, failing to dispute 58% of the time); and Roll Call (359,000 followers, 10 such tweets, failing to dispute 83% of the time).
Some feeds entirely avoided passing on DT’s misinformation over the course of the study. NPR’s main feed, which tweeted only 20 times about Trump quotes, debunked the misinformation in all four false claims it tweeted about.
Other Twitter feeds limited the exposure their audience had to DT’s misinformation by minimizing their focus on DT’s comments. For example, the feed for Meet The Press, the NBC News Sunday political talk show, failed to dispute DT’s falsehoods 83% of the time. But it rarely tweeted about DT comments, with such tweets making up only 9% of the outlet’s total tweets about DT. CNN’s main Twitter feed similarly referenced DT quotes in only 11% of the tweets about him, while doing somewhat better at fact-checking Trump, disputing his false claims 75% of the time.
The Washington Post’s feed disputed DT’s misinformation at the highest rate of any feed we studied that tweeted about 10 or more false Trump claims. Out of 37 tweets about false or misleading TDT claims, the outlet disputed the misinformation 33 times and failed four times, a success rate of 89%.
Your newsroom might be small. You should still think big.
You’re not too small. Don’t think like it: The Herald got help from the Seattle Times to create a thoughtful commenting template, partnered with several community radio stations to publish the audio part of the project and created a resource site for the community that takes minimal maintenance.
Gary Jones on taking over Daily Express: ‘It was anti-immigrant. I couldn’t sleep’
The Daily Express
‘The answer is the Daily Express, the once-mighty tabloid newspaper that over the last two decades has become associated with barely veiled racism, a relentless campaign for Britain to leave the EU, and an obsession with Princess Diana.
[Gary Jones] has placed an emphasis on exclusive, original, campaigning and investigative stories while turning down coverage of Tommy Robinson and Steve Bannon – “the BBC gives far more airtime to rightwing propagandists”
“I’m a complete mix of contradictions,” he said, unexpectedly bringing up his children’s education. “I suppose the reason why I sent my son to Eton was, you know, I just wanted to confront the establishment and authority and to try to have a say, but to be authentic. He’s not thanked me for it at times.”
His son was appalled when he found out his father would be swapping chats with Jeremy Corbyn for editing the Daily Express and interviewing Theresa May.
“He just looked at me and said: ‘I feel sick’.”
“It was one of those defining moments. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I said: ‘Good on you for having views.’ He said: ‘I can’t say I don’t feel just a little disappointed.’ And then I said: ‘Anything else?’ He goes: ‘I do hope you’re not doing it just because you need to pay the school fees.’”
But the editor said a recent meeting with Daily Express readers had given him hope his audience did not want to read hateful content: “They reminded me of my parents. They weren’t entirely aware of what the newspaper had become. But they were sucked into it because they’re loyal to the Express.
“They are compassionate, traditional people. I think they were just led down a path.”
“Covering the news requires sending reporters… It’s expensive and inconvenient. Talk, on the other hand, is literally cheap. Round up a few semi-knowledgeable and telegenic types, array them around the desk, and off you go.”
-Jay Rosen teaches journalism at NYU and directs the Studio 20 program there. He is also a media analyst.
How breaking news got panelized: On cable, journalists and pundits increasingly share space.
Within minutes of the announcement that President Trump had agreed to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the cable news networks had their panels of talking heads assembled and ready, like SWAT teams preparing to storm a barricaded house.
Once again, it was time for the panelization of breaking news.
From early in its history, cable news found the panel format — featuring people from different perspectives and disciplines — to be a lively (and cost-efficient) way to deliver opinions on current events. The discussions can be enervating, enlightening or infuriating, depending on who is on which side of the food fight.
But, as the Korean news demonstrated, it’s often hard to tell the reporters from the opinion slingers, especially when the panels bleed into the delivery of the news itself.
News reporters bristle when critics tar them as liberal or conservative. They’re quick to insist that they have nothing to do with the opinion side of their organizations. (“We serve different masters,” Fox News anchorman Shepard Smith told Time magazine this month. “We work for different reporting chains, we have different rules.”)
And yet panels with multiple talking heads arguably make the situation more fraught for them by lumping them with former politicians, think-tank scholars and opinionated party hacks — a blending of news reporting and commentary that’s bound to leave some viewers confused.
Philip Mudd and Will Hurd aren’t reporters. Yet from their perches on CNN or Fox or MSNBC, in the mix of a developing news story, they both certainly look like part of “the news media.”
Back in the rapidly receding past, the lines were much clearer: Just as newspapers physically separate the opinion columns from the news sections, any TV newscast that offered commentary (and many didn’t) would typically schedule it for the end of the broadcast. The goal was to give the public one clean shot at the facts, as a wise editor once put it, by keeping the opinions separate from the news columns.
But the business model of 24-hour cable news may have made the coexistence and commingling of reporting and opinion a near certainty. Covering the news requires sending reporters, producers, editors and video journalists to wherever the news is happening. It’s expensive and inconvenient. Talk, on the other hand, is literally cheap. Round up a few semi-knowledgeable and telegenic types, array them around the desk, and off you go.
Such blabfests have the additional benefit of drawing predictable audiences, which in turn establishes predictable advertising rates, which in turn produces reliable cash flows. All-out coverage of a big news story — with reporters in key locales — can still spike the ratings. But big news stories don’t keep regular hours. Panels do.
The hybrid news-commentary format is on regular display in cable’s evening hours. In a “breaking news”discussion about the latest twist in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation last week, for example, CNN’s Anderson Cooper opened the floor to multiple talking heads: New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, investigative reporter and political analyst Carl Bernstein, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and a former federal prosecutor, Anne Milgram. Opinions flew. So did the occasional news nugget.
On Fox News the same night, host Sean Hannity — whom no one would mistake for a down-the-middle guy — stirred opinion, political spin and journalism about Mueller with a panel that included former Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz, reporter Sara Carter, Fox legal analyst Gregg Jarrett and journalist John Solomon. MSNBC’s Brian Williams tackled the same topic that night with BBC anchor Katty Kay, former FBI official Frank Figliuzzi and Rick Stengel, a journalist and former State Department official with the administration of President Barack Obama.
The panel model has trained viewers to expect news to be served with a side of opinion, and often the other way around. In a briefly viral interview with Hannity last year, broadcast-news legend Ted Koppel despaired of cable’s increasing partisanship and opinion peddling. Hannity retorted that “we have to give some credit to the American people that they are somewhat intelligent and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show.”
But what about when the news show is also an opinion show?
“If they can provide context, they can help a viewer understand the story,” he said. It’s the moderator’s job, he said, to identify who’s trafficking in facts, and who’s there to opine. At their worst, he acknowledges, they can become “cheap-shot yelling matches that are just showbiz.”
Jeffrey Lord, a veteran of many news-commentary hybrid panels, defended the format. Opinions have always infected news stories, he argues, so the notion that they should remain separate on cable news is dubious at best.
“Yes, news and opinion should stay in their respective places,” said Lord, who spoke in behalf of candidate DT as a CNN contributor during the 2016 campaign. “I used to believe this. Now? I am not convinced that they ever did and that news consumers like my younger self were not hornswoggled in some fashion to think that was true.” He calls the panel format “the 21st century way of hashing out issues.”
Representatives of CNN, Fox and MSNBC declined to comment.
Cable is hardly the only medium to blur the lines between news and commentary these days. Newspapers lace their front pages and home pages with the occasional editorial or critic’s review; a burgeoning subgenre of reporting that promises “analysis” of the news, rather than the news itself, can often seem like a blend of the two forms.
Even when news organizations take pains to draw distinctions, in the digital age, it can often be hard to discern whether the headline that drifted through your Twitter or Facebook feed was an actual news report or just someone’s “take” on the matter.
As is, old-school news reporting is in steep decline. Roughly half as many journalists work in newspapers compared with a decade ago. As the volume of available facts declines, the void has been filled with an explosion of commentary.
Meanwhile, news organizations fret over the surveys showing that people in ever increasing numbers distrust “the news media.” But cable’s free-for-all panels, and the many other ways opinions cohabit with reporting, suggest another question: Does anyone even know what “the news media” is any more?
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
A Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor statistics from 2008 to 2017 found overall newsroom employment dropped nationally by 23 percent and in newspaper newsrooms employment dropped by 45 percent. More than 2,400 media jobs have been eliminated so far this year, according to Business Insider.
“After months of negotiations with the newspaper’s union, The Plain Dealer is expected to lay off 14 journalists today as the 180-year-old institution downsizes.“
“The Guild said in a statement that The Plain Dealer had a unionized staff of 340 journalists two decades ago. That soon will be reduced to 33. “Many of our members volunteered for layoffs to save the job of another, which speaks volumes about the respect those in our union have for each other,” Christ said. “We find some relief that editor George Rodrigue allowed members to volunteer for this layoff.”
“(The cuts are blamed) on the continuing decline in advertising revenue that has battered virtually all mass media, including television, radio and digital-first news organizations such as cleveland.com.
Russian internet trolls appear to be shifting strategy to disrupt the 2020 elections, promoting divisive messages “through phony social media accounts instead of creating propaganda themselves,” Bloomberg’s Alyza Sebenius writes.
- Russian hackers are trying to circumvent protections put in place by Facebook and Twitter after the 2016 election.
- “Instead of creating content themselves, we see them amplifying content,” hiding behind someone else, said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at FireEye.
Be smart: Hacked devices “are used to create many legitimate-looking users as well as believable followers and likes for those fake users.”
Fake users combined with emerging deep video and we could be in deep doo-doo if we are not hyper-aware as news and information consumers. -dayle
“Fake videos and audio keep getting better, faster and easier to make, increasing the mind-blowing technology’s potential for harm if put in the wrong hands. Bloomberg QuickTake explains how good deep fakes have gotten in the last few months, and what’s being done to counter them.”
“My mission is to make sure that nobody can say: ‘I didn’t know’.” Award-winning Reuters photographer Yannis Behrakis dies aged 58 after a long struggle with cancer.
“His pictures are iconic, some works of art in their own right. But it was his empathy that made him a great photojournalist.”
A Syrian refugee kisses his daughter as he walks through a rainstorm towards Greece’s border with Macedonia on September 10, 2015. (Reuters/ Yannis Behrakis)
A Syrian refugee holds onto his children as he struggles to walk off a dinghy on the Greek island of Lesbos, on September 24, 2015. (Reuters/ Yannis Behrakis)
A starving Somali child is given water near a refugee camp in Baidoa, Somalia, on December 14, 1992. (Reuters/ Yannis Behrakis)
An ethnic Albanian man places the body of two-year-old Mozzlum Sylmetaj into a coffin next to the coffins of three other family members killed by Yugoslav army troops. (Reuters/ Yannis)
Rebel fighters run for cover inside a building on the frontline in Tripoli street in central Misrata, April 21, 2011. (Reuters/ Yannis Behrakis)
Migrants and refugees beg Macedonian policemen to allow passage to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia during a rainstorm, near the Greek village of Idomeni.
A red sun is seen over a dinghy overcrowded with Syrian refugees drifting in the Aegean sea between Turkey and Greece after its motor broke down off the Greek island of Kos.
Frantic Kurdish refugees struggle for a loaf of bread during a humanitarian aid distribution at the Iraqi-Turkish border.
“Who are the Adams family, and why are they buying newspapers by the dozen? Barely three years old, Minneapolis-based Adams has assembled a group of more than 100 small dailies, weeklies and shoppers in at least 15 separate transactions. In contrast to other big consolidators, they often leave existing management in place, do not impose cookie-cutter content templates, and do not start by stripping down newsrooms of editors and reporters. The bare-bones Adams Publishing website lists no main office executives or a phone number. Press releases about the series of acquisitions do not list an Adams contact. Estimates put the family’s net worth north of a billion dollars. In 2005, Steve Adams and his wife donated $100 million to the Yale School of Music. Minneapolis Star Tribune publisher Mike Klingensmith told me he had never heard of any of them until Adams Publishing began buying suburban weeklies in a ring around the Minneapolis metro in 2016.
The attraction of newspapers? Adams mentions that they are out of favor and available at “low valuation multiples.” Local brands and exclusive local content have a bright future, Adams said. (His presentation makes no mention of digital, and the company’s website is illustrated with a stack of newspapers).
In talking to the Inland group, Mark let drop that his is a “third-generation media family.” His grandfather, Cedric Adams, was a big local celebrity when I was growing up in Minneapolis with a popular radio show, a column in the Minneapolis Star and a lucrative sideline voicing national TV and radio ads.”
“Adams Publishing Group is launching a new Idaho newspaper in Bingham County, 5-days-per-week, Tuesday-Friday & Sunday. The Bingham County Chronicle will serve Aberdeen, Shelley, Firth, Fort Hall, Blackfoot and other towns, focusing on ‘hyper-local’ news. The announcement comes as many newspapers across the country have folded. But the downward trend in the news media economy is affecting organizations in larger markets more than community newspapers, said Eric Johnston, Adams Publishing Group’s west division president.”
‘Adams has raised funds for Republican Party candidates. He reportedly contributed over $1 (m) dollars of billboard advertising (through his Adams Outdoor Advertising business) to support Georg W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign [wikipedia].’ https://adamspg.com
The study found, “The conventional wisdom is that news consumers want increasingly short, quickly digestible content. While this may be true in some contexts, our panel survey respondents offered a more complex picture of audience preferences on the spectrum of efficiency to depth. Indeed, asked to describe what their ideal local news program would look like, respondents fairly consistently chose depth over efficiency.”
The study included viewers with an average age of 34 from six TV markets.
WLS in Chicago (market No. 3)
KNXV in Phoenix (market No. 12)
WBTV in Charlotte, North Carolina (market No. 23)
WTVD in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina (market No. 25)
WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island (market No. 53)
WAFB in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (market No. 97)
In most cases, the most emotional parts of the stories were moved higher in the pieces and the remixed stories included more context than the originals.
The survey tested a story from WLS-Chicago about the Facebook data breach. The original story included soundbites with the state attorney general. The remix included some soundbites with two “Facebook users” who didn’t add any new information but did add some emotion to the story. The remix also added moving graphics and a sort of “splat” sound on maps that — while it would make a lot of newspeople’s skin crawl — didn’t turn off the viewers the researchers head from.
News organization, technology companies, citizens must take resposnsibility for restoring trust in democracy.
It is a daunting task that the Commission has undertaken, and none, in our minds, could be more important.
It is a daunting task that the Commission has undertaken, and none, in our minds, could be more important. What should Americans do to restore trust in our democratic republic and the media that serve it and us? More specifically, what can our leaders, our media and our citizens do to better understand the ‘other,’ to distinguish between truth and disinformation and to govern ourselves fairly and effectively?
This Commission report focuses on the intersection of the distrust in American democratic institutions and in the journalistic media. These are difficult times, calling for strong responses to the dilemmas set forth below.
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.
The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas.
Yesterday [2.5.19], Facebook removed 22 pages connected to hateful conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his fringe right-wing website InfoWars.
Thank you for signing our petition calling on Facebook to do just that.
This is a win for all of us working to end online hate-speech! Thank you for your help in making this happen.
In addition to our work to hold social-media platforms accountable for protecting users from online hate, we at Free Press are also working to hold mainstream media to a higher standard.
We need a free press. We also need a press that doesn’t replicate the racist and xenophobic stereotypes about communities of color and immigrants that make up the DT administration’s talking points. We need journalism that calls racism what it is, disavows White nationalism and empowers the voices of journalists and editors of color as well as the communities being reported on.
Thanks for all that you do.
The Free Press team
“Facebook Removes 22 More Pages Connected to Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones and InfoWars,” CNN, Feb. 5, 2019.
“Johns Hopkins University is buying the landmark [Pennsylvania Avenue] building that houses the Newseum for $372.5 million, a purchase that will enable the struggling cultural institution devoted to news and the First Amendment to seek a new home in the Washington area.”
“The Freedom Forum — the private foundation that created the Newseum and that is its primary funder — said the museum will remain open at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW for the rest of the year.”
“The Newseum posted an annual deficit each year.”
Peter Prichard, chair of the Newseum board of trustees said in a release.
“We stand ready to continue much of the Newseum’s important work … through digital outreach, traveling exhibits, and web-based programs in schools around the world, as well as hopefully in a new physical home in the area.”
by, Adam Harris
“The university, which already has a significant presence in Washington, D.C., hopes to expand its influence in public-policy debates—and entice prospective students with another reason to enroll.
Making this acquisition possible is a string of wealthy donors that the university has been cultivating for some time. Daniels confirmed that Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist and a Johns Hopkins alum, will be contributing to the purchase. The remainder of the money will come from the university’s budget and the sale of the institution’s other four properties in the city. Daniels did not disclose how much financial support the university will be receiving from Bloomberg, who has donated billions of dollars to Johns Hopkins over the years and announced a $1.8 billion donation to the school in November.”
The Newseum will remain open to the public through 2019.
“Another brutal day for journalism.”
by, Tom Jones
“Gannett began slashing jobs all across the country Wednesday in a cost-cutting move that was anticipated even before the recent news that a hedge-fund company was planning to buy the chain.”
A Hedge Fund Known for ‘Milking’ Newspapers
Takes Aim at GannettBy
Does Journalism Have a Future?
In an era of social media and fake news, journalists who have survived the print plunge have new foes to face.
The New Yorker
Between 1970 and 2016, the year the American Society of News Editors quit counting, five hundred or so dailies went out of business; the rest cut news coverage, or shrank the paper’s size, or stopped producing a print edition, or did all of that, and it still wasn’t enough.
Between January, 2017, and April, 2018, a third of the nation’s largest newspapers, including the Denver Post and the San Jose Mercury News, reported layoffs.
Media companies that want to get bigger tend to swallow up other media companies, suppressing competition and taking on debt, which makes publishers cowards. In 1986, the publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle bought the Worcester Telegram and the Evening Gazette, and, three years later, right about when Time and Warner became Time Warner, the Telegram and the Gazette became
“We are, for the first time in modern history, facing the prospect of how societies would exist without reliable news,” Alan Rusbridger, for twenty years the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, writes in “Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now.”
The big book that inspired Jill Abramson to become a journalist was David Halberstam’s “The Powers That Be,” from 1979, a history of the rise of the modern, corporate-based media in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his reporting from Vietnam for the New York Times, took up his story more or less where Villard left off. He began with F.D.R. and CBS radio; added the Los Angeles Times, Time Inc., and CBS television; and reached his story’s climax with the Washington Post and the New York Times and the publication of the Pentagon Papers, in 1971.
In 1969, Nixon’s Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, delivered a speech drafted by the Nixon aide Pat Buchanan accusing the press of liberal bias. It’s “good politics for us to kick the press around,” Nixon is said to have told his staff. The press, Agnew said, represents “a concentration of power over American public opinion unknown in history,” consisting of men who “read the same newspapers” and “talk constantly to one another.”
The present crisis, which is nothing less than a derangement of American life, has caused many people in journalism to make decisions they regret, or might yet. In the age of Facebook, Chartbeat, and DT, legacy news organizations, hardly less than startups, have violated or changed their editorial standards in ways that have contributed to political chaos and epistemological mayhem. Do editors sit in a room on Monday morning, twirl the globe, and decide what stories are most important? Or do they watch DT’s Twitter feed and let him decide? It often feels like the latter. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger; it makes everyone sick. The more adversarial the press, the more loyal DT’s followers, the more broken American public life. The more desperately the press chases readers, the more our press resembles our politics.
This book by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols (2011) is an important read as pretext to Lapore’s piece.
“Journalism cannot lose 30 percent of its reporting and editing capacity and continue to provide the information needed to maintain a realistic democratic discourse, open government and outlines of civil society at the federal, state and local levels.”
The United States is not experiencing a brief recession for journalism as the silliest commentator continue to suggest; newsrooms will not be repopulated, let along restored to their previous vigor, with an economic recovery. Instead it is an existential crisis, one decades in the making and as we argue heron, it goes directly to the issue of whether this nation can remain a democratic state with liberties and freedoms many take for granted.
The crisis is right here, right now and unless there is forceful policy intervention, an unacceptable circumstance will grow dramatically worse.
In our view the evidence is overwhelming: If Americans are serious about reversing course and dramatically explained and improving journalism, the only way this can happen is with massive public subsidies.
The market is not getting it done, and there is no reason to think it is going to get it done. It will require a huge expansion of the nonprofit news media sector as well. It is imperative to discontinue the practice of regarding journalism as a “business” and evaluating it with business criteria. Instead, embracing the public good nature of journalism is necessary. That is the argument we make in this book.
If the U.S. government subsidized journalism today at the same level of GDP that it did in the 1840’s, the government would have to spend in the neighborhood of $30-35 billion annually. Subsidies are as American as maple pie; indeed, our democratic culture was built on them.
We met with a group of exceptional journalism students wo had read the book and wanted to talk about our proposals. They especially liked our proposal for a ‘Journalism for America’ initiative that would provide young people with stipends to cover underserved communities in the United States. By the end of the dinner they had framed out a plan for linking the ‘Journalism for America’ initiative to the Peace Corps so that young journalists could cover an immigrant community in the United States for a year and then travel wit the Peace Corps to foreign lands with connections to the American communities.
We came away with confidence that, when this great debate opens up, as it has begun to do, American journalism and American democracy will flourish.”
Ed Madison and Ben DeJarnette (2018) write,
“Fundamentally, journalists and teachers have similar roles within a society. They exist to educate us so we can collectively move our communities forward. Yet crises within K-12 education haunt our society’s future prospects: if we’re not raising generations of young people who are thoughtful and informed participants in our democratic process, then the future of journalism–and democracy–is very dark indeed.
The objective is not to spawn future journalists; the intent is to support students with becoming what we refer to as informed thinkers. Educators often speak about cultivating critical thinking, yet the term remains as elusive concept that does not fully encompass the levels of student engagement that young people need to navigate effectively in this increasingly complex and nuanced world.
Informed thinking articulates a clearer method and result than does critical thinking. Students learn to distinguish fact from fiction and to detect biases and agendas.
Our need to improve education is not optional; it is an obligation we must embrace.”
Wonderful book for reference and U.S. history, by Jill Lapore.
Journalist Marguerite Martyn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch made this sketch of herself interviewing a Methodist minister in 1908 for his views on marriage.
“I keep coming back to a tweet from the Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who wrote: “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.” Mr. Kasparov understands that the real threat of the flood of “alternative facts” is that many voters will simply shrug, ask, “What is truth?” and, like Pontius Pilate, not wait for an answer.”
The Aspen Institute re-publishes a piece from American Magazine in 2017 from an Aspen Ideas Festival that same year with Charlie Sykes, MSNBC contributor and former conservative talk show host, currently editor-in-chief of the website The Bulwark.
“We might assume that people naturally want to seek out information that is true, but this turns out to be a basic misunderstanding of the human psyche and our new tribal politics. The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt describes the power of tribalism in shaping our ideas about truth. “Once people join a political team,” he writes in The Righteous Mind, “they get ensnared in its moral matrix. They see confirmation of their grand narrative everywhere, and it’s difficult — perhaps impossible — to convince them that they are wrong if you argue with them from outside the matrix.”
Mr. Haidt also cites the work of his fellow social psychologist Tom Gilovich, who studies the cognitive mechanisms of strange beliefs. If we want to believe something, Mr. Gilovich says, we ask, “Can I believe it?” and we need only a single piece of evidence, no matter its provenance, so “we can stop thinking” because we “now have permission to believe” what we want. The flip side is that when we are confronted with uncomfortable or unwanted information that we do not want to believe, we ask, “Must I believe?” and look for a reason to reject the argument or fact. Again, only a single piece of data is necessary “to unlock the handcuffs of must.”
The only antidote is an educated, critically minded electorate who can see through the hoaxes.”
Yes, absolutely. However, a deeper more complex follow-up question: is this a reasonable expectation, or possibility, in context of confirmation biases and deeper polarizations?
full article: https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/truth-matter-no-longer-theoretical-question/
“And the fourth cycle (of computers), which is now arriving, shifts direction from the previous two (which were about connection more than processors) and brings prediction to the table. Call it AI if you want to, but to be specific, it’s a combination of analyzing information and then predicting what we would do if we knew what the computer knew.
The prediction of the fourth cycle isn’t simply done in a centralized location, because the previous cycle put the computer everywhere. So now, we’re connecting all the computers the way we previously connected all the people. Now, we’re giving those computers the ability to make predictions based on what thousands of people before us have done.”
Entrepreneur and blogger who thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age, teacher and former dot com guy.
Stanford World Class
Former Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos (now at Stanford) discusses Russia’s election interference and the use of pure propaganda techniques. Much of the spotlight on Big Tech is warranted. However, Stamos also argues that our government, the media, and we as citizens all have a role to play in the security of our elections.” #MSM
“To block Russian propaganda during 2016 really Facebook would have had to block the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.”
Tech companies have failed in a lot of ways, but there was a lot of misplaced raged by main stream media against tech companies because they have not dealt with their own failings in 2016. […] They’re not writing stories about their editorial decisions, but those decisions were critical.”
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar: “Will the Justice Department jail reporters for doing their jobs?”
William Barr: “I can conceive of situations where as a last resort, and where a news organization has run through a red flag…there could be a situation where someone would be held in contempt.”
Also, Barr stated today he would not fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller at the president’s order unless there was ’cause.’ And ’cause’ is defined as…?
I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
ACLU in reaction to Barr’s comment on jailing journalists:
The freedom of the press is a bedrock of democratic principle. Under no circumstance should the government put journalists in jail for doing their job.”
“After much thought, what I would be willing to die for, and give my life to, is the freedom of speech. It is the open door to all other freedoms.”
Terry Tempest Williams
From Digital Free Press:
Digital First Media — which is notorious for gutting local newsrooms to turn a profit for its hedge-fund owners — is trying to buy Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper publisher.1
The owners of Digital First have been called “vulture capitalists” by journalists in their own newsrooms.2 The company has censored journalists’ work and fired reporters3 who criticize their ruthless tactics — which are designed to pad the bottom line.
In recent years, more and more private-equity companies have been buying up newspapers, slashing jobs, turning newsrooms into shells of their former selves and spending profits on anything BUT journalism.4
This isn’t just bad for newsrooms: It also spells doom for millions of people around the country who rely on their local newspapers to find out what’s happening. When local news disappears, fewer people participate in their communities.5
And while Gannett itself has a questionable track record when it comes to investing in news, if the company sells to Digital First it will decimate news coverage in thousands of communities across the United States.
As one journalist noted, if Digital First Media is “knocking on the door, you should lock the deadbolt.”6
For the future of local news,
Mike, Heather, Candace and the rest of the Free Press team
Too few named journalists have a thorough and deep knowledge of American history, even brilliant contemporary journalists, like Ezra Klein, which he acknowledges in this important podcast with Jill Lapore.
Jill Lapore’s new book, These Truths, A History of the United States , is a one volume tomb far more complex and contemporarily contextualized study of American History than Howard Zinn’s well-known and beloved A People’s History of the United States . Recommending this book and podcast.
Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker contributor, and the author of These Truths, a dazzling one-volume synthesis of American history. She’s the kind of history teacher everyone wishes they’d had, able to effortlessly connect the events and themes of American history to make sense of our past and clarify our present.
“The American Revolution did not begin in 1775 and it didn’t end when the war was over,” Lepore writes. This is a conversation about those revolutions. But more than that, it’s a conversation about who we are as a country, and how that self-definition is always contested and constantly in flux.
And beyond all that, Lepore is just damn fun to talk to. Every answer she gives has something worth chewing over for weeks. You’ll enjoy this one.
Fear Itself by Ira Katznelson
A Godly Hero by Michael Kazin
The Warmth of Other Sons by Isabel Wilkerson
The first woman to head CBS News announced.
NPR: “The legendary CBS News producer Susan Zirinsky will replace David Rhodes as the president of CBS News in March, the network announced Sunday evening.
Rhodes’ decision to step down follows a tenure of great change and great turmoil, marked by shifts in personnel and formats, along with bumpy ratings and searing scandal.”
“The world we cover is changing, how we cover it is changing, and it’s the right time for me to make a change too,” Rhodes wrote in a statement.
“Zirinsky, most recently the senior executive producer of the true-crime-driven newsmagazine 48 Hours, will be the first woman to head CBS News. She has held significant roles at almost every element throughout the news division. She was a producer of CBS Evening News and has led the network’s coverage of the White House.”
NYTimes: “The surprising announcement was the latest major personnel change for CBS, which also forced out Leslie Moonves, the company’s longtime chief executive, in September after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.”
“In a Sunday night email to the staff, the acting CBS chief executive, Joe Ianniello, said that Mr. Rhodes “decided the time is right to move on to new opportunities.”
“Of Ms. Zirinsky, he wrote, “I can think of no one more equipped than ‘Z’ for the job, and we are delighted she has welcomed these new responsibilities.”
“Ms. Zirinsky, 66, has been with CBS News for more than 40 years and has touched almost every part of the division, from its morning show to its evening newscast and its coverage of the White House before joining ’48 Hours’ in 1996. She was the inspiration for Holly Hunter’s character in the 1987 movie ‘Broadcast News.'”
Journalist Jay Rosen:
“Over the last few days, it’s become clearer and clearer to me that, without intervention, coverage of the 2020 campaign is likely to be a disaster for everyone except DT and his core voters, who want to watch it all burn anyway.”
Community Cafe: “By media/publications writing better perspectives than this one. You guys didn’t learn much. Be better. Compassionate. And wise.”
Jay Rosen: “Hallelujah.
@chrislhayes on campaign journalism in the 2020 election: ‘It is our job — all of our job — to do better this time around.'”
Community Cafe: “Thank you, Chris. Excellent. We must.”