Café Journalism

FB’s News Tab: #manipulation

August 20, 2019

Thomas Merton:

Nothing is more empty and more dead, nothing is more insultingly insincere and destructive than the vapid grins on the billboards and the moronic beatitudes in the magazines, which assure us that we are all in bliss right now.

[AXIOS]

News Tab

Facebook executives tell me they’re hiring seasoned journalists to help curate a forthcoming “News Tab” that they hope will change how millions get news.

  • Why it matters: News Tab is an effort by Facebook to restore the sanity and credibility that’s lost in the chaos of our main feeds.
  • Facebook will personalize the News Tab, so it will need a massive amount of content, from the New York Jets to gardening.

News Tab, a personal passion of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is also an effort by Facebook to develop a healthier relationship with publishers, many of whom have had their business models destroyed by social platforms.

  • Facebook will pay dozens of publishers to license content for News Tab, and news from many more will be included.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported that the largest partners will be paid millions of dollars a year.
  • News Tab will try to give credit to the outlet that broke a story, rather than an aggregator.

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, said: “Our goal with the News tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience … The majority of stories people will see will appear in the tab via algorithmic selection.”

  • A small team of journalists will pick stories for a Top News section.

Last year, Facebook killed Trending Topics, populated by contractors, after being accused of bias.

  • “We learned a lot from Trending,” a Facebook executive told me. “This is a completely different product.”

What’s next: A News Tab test for 200,000 users will begin in October, with a rollout to all U.S. users early next year.

Profit manipulation:

‘The Wall Street Journal reported that the largest partners will be paid millions of dollars a year.’

Gatekeeper manipulation:

‘A small team of journalists will pick stories for a Top News section.’

 

 

Public Funded Journalism

August 13, 2019
 

As News Deserts Encroach, One City Looks At A New Way To Fund Local Journalism

 

By Rae Ellen Bichell

Originally published on August 5, 2019 5:15 pm

Boise State Public Radio

 

Many parts of the Mountain West are news deserts — and it’s getting worse. More than 20 counties in our region have no local newspaper. The ones that are left are struggling. And research suggests news deserts contribute to low voter turnoutand increasing partisanship.

Scott Converse could feel the desert closing in on his community. His local newspaper in Longmont, Colorado had just announced it was closing its offices and moving to Boulder.

“All of Longmont’s news left Longmont, effectively,” says Converse. “Honestly, it just P.O.’d me.”

So, he took action. He and another Longmont resident started their own publication — the Longmont Observer. From the get-go, though, funding was a problem. It’s run by a small team of reporters and editors, all of them volunteers. Converse jokes their editor-in-chief is doing really well.

“She has gotten at least a dozen raises from zero, to two times zero, to four times zero to eight times zero,” he says. “We’re proof that news is not profitable. We get enough donations to pay our rent and our Internet here and that’s it. That’s literally it.”

“That’s how dictators get started,” reads a quote warning of the perils of a quashed press. It’s one of many flanking the Longmont Observer office where Scott Converse works.

So lately, Converse has been looking for new ideas for how to fund local journalism. That’s when he came across an article called, “Journalism is a public service. Why don’t we fund it like one?”

Simon Galperin wrote the piece. He’s the founding director of a nonprofit called the Community Information Cooperative, based in New Jersey.

“People feel it in a visceral way when they don’t have the sort of information they need to get about their day,” says Galperin. He says we need a way to publicly fund news that’s independent from the local government, and he says the way to do this is through a common technique — starting something called a special improvement district. These already exist in communities across the country for a bunch of purposes: parks, sewers, airports, highways.

“Fire safety, mosquito abatement,” Galperin adds. “So, it kind of just made sense to say, ‘Okay, let’s create one for local news and information.’”

Technically, special districts are their own independent government units. They have their own funding, separate from the city budget, and their own governing board.

“The info district idea is an opportunity for people to do this themselves without relying on benevolent billionaires or wealth to come in and prop up a news organization,” he says. “This is a way for the public to have a say in how their local news and information needs are met.”

Galperin, who just published a how-to guide on starting a special district, says funding through a special district might allow a community to spread information in a bunch of different ways, including by hiring journalists — maybe even full newsrooms. Back in Longmont, that idea was a light bulb moment for Scott Converse.

“I thought, ‘That’s brilliant. What a great idea,’” he says.

He learned that there’s a type of special district that’s actually really common in Colorado. They’re for libraries. And what are libraries, he says, if not non-partisan, non-profit sources of trusted information chock full of some of the nation’s best information ninjas?

“Librarians are badasses. You do not mess with the librarian. If you try to remove a book from a library, you almost have to kill a librarian. It’s not easy. And that’s because they believe in the freedom of information,” says Converse. “They have more legal protections than just about any other entity on the planet for protecting information.”

They’re also non-partisan, nonprofit and community-driven, he adds. “What better place to put a newsroom?”

Converse dreams of the library housing not just a staff of local journalists, but also tools for citizen journalists to cover their community, like a makerspace for news.

“Never shushed anyone in a library in my life, don’t plan to start,” says Longmont Library director Nancy Kerr, as she walks through the lobby on a weekday morning. The library is gently bustling with residents looking through books on display and kids picking up prizes for summer reading.

“You expect libraries now [to] have at least a low hum of conversation going on. It’s not your parents’ or grandparents’ library,” she says.

The city is doing a feasibility study right now about how to better fund the Longmont library, including the possibility of starting a special district. Kerr says they’re asking stakeholders “a sea of questions” about the future of the library, and its role in creating local news content is among them.

“We really believe in people’s rights to read anything and everything and support that,” she says, so she was intrigued to hear the idea Scott Converse had hit on.

Libraries, Kerr says, are changing. If you haven’t been to one in a while, take a look. You might be surprised. This library has an old card catalogue full of seeds for people to plant in their gardens. Kerr says librarians help people with resumes and job applications all the time. And they just started a library of things, where people can check out everything from ukeles and telescopes to wifi hotspots.

“We’re always looking at new opportunities to connect people with information.” she says. “There have been some arguments out there that libraries are not content creators, but more and more libraries are content creators.”

In the most literal sense of content creation, a growing number of libraries host equipment for physically producing new material, like 3-D printers and machineryfor self-publishing actual books. In a broader sense, Kerr adds, they’re already starting to share more characteristics with news organizations — like the libraries that have podcasting equipment and green screens available, or even the ones with plans to house a public TV channel in the same building.

“Nothing is an impossibility for libraries,” says Kerr. “I can’t see immediately that libraries would necessarily be able to do this on their own and be the producer — the creator — of the news. But as far as disseminating news from a library, I don’t see that as a strange thing. That’s what we do.”

Scott Converse says he’s getting some pushback on the idea of a government funded news service. But he’s got an answer for that.

“It’s not government-run news. It’s news run by the people, for the people and funded by the people,” he says, just like the BBC in the U.K., CBC in Canada or, at least in part, public radio here. 

Still, there are skeptics. Sure, a library could spread information about local events and such, but what would it mean for library-affiliated journalists to take on local investigations? That’s one of the questions Melissa Milios Davis is mulling.

“I think there’s a lot of people who wonder if that would erode the trust of the library for them to be in that role,” says Davis, who is a Longmont resident, a former journalist and who works for a Colorado organization called the Gates Family Foundation (different from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). “I think that’s a real, valid concern.” 

As a member of the executive committee of a group called the Colorado Media Project, she’s leading a public policy study due out in the fall on what role public funding could play in sustaining local public-interest journalism.

“We’re looking at: What is the role of philanthropy? What’s the role of individuals? And what’s the role — potentially — of local governments in supporting the information needs of communities?” she says. “I think the conundrum right now as we’re looking for different revenue sources is to really figure out where are those bright lines between what government sources could be good and better used for, in terms of informing communities, and then other things that are really the realm of independent journalism.”

The Longmont Times-Call has run a number of articles and opinion pieces criticizing the idea that the library could play a role in disseminating local news, likening it to “a government-owned press,” “a tool of dictatorships” and quoting people on issues of trust and the importance of transparent funding.

Ironically, that paper is one of many that are backed by a New York-based hedge fund, Alden Global Capital, which is not only opaque about its investors but has also shown itself to be hostile to local news.

“We’re just naturally a cynical nation about big government — about government of any kind,” says Julie Reynolds, a freelance journalist who’s investigating Alden Global Capital. But, she says, “I don’t think people understand very much about where their news comes from or how it gets produced or how it gets funded.”

The hedge fund backs the MediaNews Group, previously known as Digital First Media. According to its website, it currently owns about 100 local publications, 19 of them in Colorado, including the Longmont Times-Call and the Denver Post. Reynolds says it took her 3 years to trace what funds the newspapers were held under.

“Like most hedge funds, Alden Global Capital is a labyrinth of real estate, LLCs, small corporations, other funds, most of them based in tax secrecy havens in the Cayman Islands, where they pay lower taxes and there’s also almost no disclosure,” Reynolds says. “So, you don’t know who owns or controls those funds. We don’t actually know who ultimately is invested in them. Are there overseas actors involved in our media? We don’t really know.”

As she writes in Newsweek, Reynolds used to work at a California paper that was “stripped for parts” by Alden Global Capital. (Court records show the hedge fund used profit from such publications to buy unrelated businesses, like a pharmacy chain called Fred’s).

Reynolds recently started a new online publication to revegetate her county’s news desert. It runs on philanthropy and reader contributions to stay afloat. She says the special district idea that Longmont is looking into stands out.

“I can see some issues and concerns, but there’s always issues and concerns about the independence of the media,” says Reynolds. “I think it’s a fascinating idea.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado. 

 

https://www.boisestatepublicradio.org/post/news-deserts-encroach-one-city-looks-new-way-fund-local-journalism

State of America

August 10, 2019

Portland based media company specializing in creative internet content, documentaries, news, music and film.

White Nationalist Domestic Terrorism

Eleven Films is a Portland/Vancouver based video production company.

Daily Kos:

‘Their latest work, shot to look like a movie trailer, is a powerful indictment of where America is in 2019’:

https://youtu.be/AsyfB4C_w8I

https://www.eleven-films.com

Front Pages

The Newseum displays more than 2,000 newspapers from around the world? Check out the front pages each day on their website.

 

 

Today’s Front Pages

Necessarily indelible.

June 27, 2019

“The power in this image speaks to the current reality in the U.S. and around the world of the plight of immigrants,” said the Rev. Kenny Irby, an independent visual consultant with more than 40 years of experience in journalism and education. “It’s an authentic truth that needs to be part of the narrative.” -NPR/Emily Bogle

‘Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria.

He set her on the U.S. bank of the river in Brownsville, Texas, and started back for his wife in Matamoros, Mexico. But seeing him move away, the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away.’

Tragically, necessarily, indelible.

In memoriam. Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and Valeria.

‘Your sweet memory comes on the evening wind
I sleep and dream of holding you in my arms again
The lights of Brownsville, across the river shine
A shout rings out and into the silty red river I dive
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros banks’

by Kelly McBride/Ethics & Trust

The shocking image joins a small portfolio of iconic photographs that magnify the suffering of children caught in geopolitical chaos, including Kevin Carter’s 1993 picture of a starving Sudanese child collapsed outside a feeding center during a widespread famine, Nick Ut’s 1972 picture of a naked girl burned by napalm in Vietnam, and Nilufer Demir’s 2015 picture of 4-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi washed ashore in Turkey. 

These photographs have the power to galvanize the public, much the way that David Jackson’s picture of Emmett Till’s open casket did in 1955.

No matter what your political views on immigration are, the fact that so many children are suffering because of decisions made by the U.S. government is something every American should take note of. 

NPR

The Story Behind That Photo Of A Father And Daughter On The Banks Of The Rio Grande

‘NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Associated Press reporter Christopher Sherman about the Salvadoran family who lost their lives trying to cross the Rio Grande.’

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/27/736716174/the-story-behind-that-photo-of-a-father-and-daughter-on-the-banks-of-the-rio-gra

#HarrietTubmanNow

June 14, 2019

NYTIMES

By Alan Rappeport

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.
An image of a new $20 bill, produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and obtained by The New York Times from a former Treasury Department official, depicts Tubman in a dark coat with a wide collar and a white scarf.

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.”

Others believed that adding Tubman to the front of the $20 bill and moving Jackson to the back was an important symbolic move, and, for them, the possibility that it might never happen has been painful.

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.”

 

Collective failure.

June 10, 2019

‘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.

He posts:

“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

dailymail.com

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.”

The Guardian

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

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/may/14/why-copying-the-populist-right-isnt-going-to-save-the-left


The Atlantic

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.

She’s 12. She’s a journalist. And she’s remarkable.

May 15, 2019

12-Year-Old Crime Reporter Gives Commencement Address at West Virginia University Media School

The Daily Beast

Audrey McNamara

“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.

Full speech:

Orange Street News

About The Orange Street News

#WorldPressFreedomDay ~ Media Matters

May 3, 2019

#WorldPressFreedom

#DefendMediaFreedom

“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.

https://www.un.org/en/events/pressfreedomday/


New 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

MATT GERTZ & ROB SAVILLO

Key Takeaways:

  • 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).

Notable exceptions:

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.


Send the reporters, not pundits.

April 29, 2019

Gary Jones on taking over Daily Express: ‘It was anti-immigrant. I couldn’t sleep’

Jim Waterson

The Daily Express

The Guardian

‘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.”

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/apr/28/gary-jones-on-taking-over-daily-express-it-was-anti-immigrant-i-couldnt-sleep

“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.

Clockwise from top left: Andrea Mitchell of NBC, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.), Jim Acosta of CNN, political commentator Donna Brazile, Shepard Smith of Fox News, counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd. (William Plowman/NBC Newswire; J. Scott Applewhite/AP; Edward M. Pio Roda/CNN; Kate Patterson for The Washington Post; Richard Drew/AP; Susan Walsh/AP/AP, CNN, NBC, Washington Post, etc.)

How breaking news got panelized: On cable, journalists and pundits increasingly share space.

Washington Post

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?

At their best, a well-constructed panel can add depth and dimension to the basic reporting of a story, said Bob Franken, a former CNN White House reporter who is now a syndicated columnist.

“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?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/how-breaking-news-got-panelized-on-cable-journalists-and-pundits-increasingly-share-space/2018/03/20/b5fc36d8-2250-11e8-badd-7c9f29a55815_story.html?utm_term=.53e38816c67c

And then it was 33.

April 2, 2019

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.

https://www.cleveland.com/news/2019/04/plain-dealer-lays-off-a-third-of-unionized-newsroom-staff.html

 

Deep Doo-Doo

March 9, 2019

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.”

[AXIOS]

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.”

Yannis Behrakis, 1960-2019

March 3, 2019

Reuters

“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.

After joining the news wire 30 years ago, Behrakis covered many of the most tumultuous events around the world, including conflicts in Afghanistan and Chechnya, a huge earthquake in Kashmir and the Egyptian uprising of 2011.

In the process, he won the respect of both peers and rivals for his skill and bravery. He also led a team to a Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for coverage of the refugee crisis.

Colleagues who worked with him in the field said Reuters had lost a talented and committed journalist.

“It is about clearly telling the story in the most artistic way possible,” veteran Reuters photographer Goran Tomasevic said of Behrakis’s style.

“You won’t see anyone so dedicated and so focused and who sacrificed everything to get the most important picture.”

That dedication was striking. His friend and colleague of 30 years, senior producer Vassilis Triandafyllou, described him as a “hurricane” who worked all hours of the day and night, sometimes at considerable personal risk, to get the image he wanted.

“One of the best news photographers of his generation, Yannis was passionate, vital and intense both in his work and life,” said US general news editor Dina Kyriakidou Contini.

“His pictures are iconic, some works of art in their own right. But it was his empathy that made him a great photojournalist.”

“My mission is to tell you the story and then you decide what you want to do,” he told a panel discussing Reuters Pulitzer Prize-winning photo series on the European migrant crisis.

“My mission is to make sure that nobody can say: ‘I didn’t know’.”

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.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/media/digital/2019/03/03/Pulitzer-winning-photographer-Yannis-Behrakis-dies-at-58.html

https://widerimage.reuters.com/story/yannis-behrakis-award-winning-reuters-photographer-dies-aged-58?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=twitter

Adams Publishing & “Hyper-Local News”

February 12, 2019

Poynter:

“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.”

Who are the Adams family, and why are they buying newspapers by the dozen?

2.10.19

“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


TV stations should focus more on depth and emotion in stories, study suggests

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.

The Aspen Institute & Knight Foundation

February 7, 2019

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.

-The co-chairs

http://csreports.aspeninstitute.org/Knight-Commission-TMD/2019/report

~
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.

 

 

 

Our voices were heard.

February 6, 2019

Good news:

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.

https://act.freepress.net/go/30619?t=8&akid=12157%2E10632545%2E3Vvn2Z

freepress.net

January 28, 2019

“It’s hard not to see this as a metaphor for mass media/journalism.” [twitter]

January 26, 2019

Washington Post

“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.”

The Atlantic

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.

Needed: Informed Thinkers

January 22, 2019

[updated 1.23.19]

“Another brutal day for journalism.”

[Poynter]

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.”

Gannett lays off journalists across the country

~

A Hedge Fund Known for ‘Milking’ Newspapers

Takes Aim at Gannett

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-14/hedge-fund-known-for-milking-newspapers-takes-aim-at-gannett?fbclid=IwAR1-HsPAq_9srNYCI91f2GE-Jck7vKGm30a4DU-IMCL8qAc-54Qrf8OyBvk

~

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’sThe 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.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/28/does-journalism-have-a-future?utm_medium=social&utm_brand=tny&utm_source=twitter&utm_social-type=owned&mbid=social_twitter


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.

 

Outside the matrix.

January 20, 2019

 

“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.”

-Seth Godin

Entrepreneur and blogger who thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age, teacher and former dot com guy.

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