Café Journalism

🌎

April 22, 2021

“In a very real way, the shift from a pagan earth-based spirituality to the patriarchal Christian notion of man’s right to dominate nature was a causal factor contributing to what would one day become our environmental crisis.”

-Marianne Williamson

F O R   E A R T H   D A Y

Award winning film at the 2021 Sun Valley Film Festival. NatGeo  photographer Brian Skerry discovers a profound whale culture filming the series over three years in 24 aqueous locations across the planet. Astonishingly beautiful and tender. Streaming on Disney+. #EarthDay2021

Executive Producer James Cameron: “It’s so important for people to understand and illuminate how these creatures think, how they feel, what their emotion is like, what their society is like, because we won’t protect what we don’t love.” [Deadline]

‘The Eurocentric view of property ownership requires to see land as disconnected from us, separating from the source of life. The Indigenous view, kcyie, recognizes our obligation to care for the land as we would care for our human relatives.’

-Fr. Richard Rohr

Climate Journalist Eric Holthaus:

“A Green New Deal is inevitable – if we keep on fighting for it.
This is a terrifying moment because it is so important, and the people who realize that – people on the front lines of climate violence around the world – are being told to wait.

The anger in these words I’m writing now is because I know that what needs to happen isn’t hard at all once we get enough people demanding it.

The best thing of all is there’s a shared vision of a world where every living thing matters. Building upon hundreds of years of wisdom, struggle, and science, we know that a flourishing human civilization is no longer possible without it being rooted in ecology and reverence for the interconnection and interdependence of us all on each other.

And, as it turns out, that vision of a better world is really really popular.

We have everything we need to make this happen. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to wait any longer for a livable planet.”

Vaccines, Journalism’s Implicit Bias & Good News

April 18, 2021

Madison, Wisconsin

Posted on twitter, Sunday, April 18th:

Marty Makary MD, MPH
‘The Israeli and UK experience show that once the population is 2-3 wks out after 50% of adults are vaccinated (something the U.S. hit this wknd), then you get strong suppression of the infection.’ @MartyMakary
Comment:
Vinay Prasad MD MPH
‘Very good news.’ @VPrasadMDMPH
 
“…science is a process that never ends.”
 
“…find a voice to help you through the weeds, or walk away.”
 
“…we have this implicit bias in journalism toward what’s new and not what’s true.”Important segment this week from On The Media about the J&J pause, science, and how it’s reported. It speaks to media literacy, as well as to the sensationalism of the news. -dayle

https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/otm/segments/breaking-news-consumers-handbook-vaccine-edition

Community Radio

March 5, 2021

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Here we are heralding the month of March already and marking a full year of living under a global pandemic and integrating new behaviors in response to it. I found myself thinking about “the Ides of March” and the ominous undertones that permeate that phrase from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar to a host of calamitous events from history that seem to strengthen a collective unease. Collective unease is something we can relate to in new ways of late. My hope is that we don’t succumb to the strain of what we are living through, but rather that we emerge in this early springtime with renewed sense of purpose.

There is so much complexity before us as we amplify community life on the airwaves. Our organizations strain under the weight of increasing polarization, misinformation, and distrust. That’s why I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in the quote above. In the face of complexity and strain it helps to remember the basics – only light drives out darkness, only love drives out hate. And hopefully, the darkest hour is right before the dawn.

May the Ides of March be smooth sailing for you and may the season we are emerging from show us new ways to serve our communities and take care of each other. Let’s dive in deep to creative endeavors that provide inspiration for reimagining the world we love and the home we all share – our wildly diverse blue and green, spinning and wobbling planet. We have the power of amplification – let’s put it to good use.


Sally Kane, Chief Executive Officer
National Federation of Community Broadcasters

#CommunityRadio

Journalism’s New Paradigm

March 4, 2021

“Did you know 86% of people consider themselves to be spiritual?”

-Fetzer Institute

Government Reporters

February 1, 2021

“We’re going to rebrand you—no longer political reporters, you are government reporters; an important distinction—frees you to cover what’s happening in Washington in context of whether it’s serving the people well, rather than which party is winning.”

‘…incremental news coming out of Washington makes no sense to readers unless they are familiar with the larger narrative—we can’t assume they are. We can’t assume they understand basic civics or they appreciate the difference b/t verifiable facts & baseless lies.’

P R E S S  W A T C H

An intervention for political journalism.

by Dan Froomkin

The newly announced resignation of Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron, the abrupt stepping-down of Los Angeles Times executive editor Norman Pearlstine in December, and the highly anticipated departure of New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet combine to create an epic moment of reckoning for these highly influential news organizations.

A new generation of leaders is coming! And they have a lot of urgent repair work ahead of them. That includes abandoning the failed, anachronistic notions of objectivity under which they have operated for so long, recognizing and rejecting establishment whiteness, and finding dramatically more effective ways to create an informed electorate.

Nowhere are those challenges more critical than when it comes to reporting about politics and government. So as my way of helping out, I’ve written a speech for the next boss to give to their political staffs. It goes like this:

It’s so nice to be here. I’m looking forward to working with all of you amazing reporters and editors. You’ve all shown you’re capable of incredible work, and I respect you enormously.

But at the same time, my arrival here is an inflection point.

It’s impossible to look out on the current state of political discourse in this country and think that we are succeeding in our core mission of creating an informed electorate.

It’s impossible to look out at the looming and in some cases existential challenges facing our republic and our globe – among them the pandemic, climate change, income inequality, racial injustice, the rise of disinformation and ethnic nationalism – and think that it’s OK for us to just keep doing what we’ve been doing.

So let me tell you a bit about what we need to do differently.

First of all, we’re going to rebrand you. Effective today, you are no longer political reporters (and editors); you are government reporters (and editors). That’s an important distinction, because it frees you to cover what is happening in Washington in the context of whether it is serving the people well, rather than which party is winning.

Historically, we have allowed our political journalism to be framed by the two parties. That has always created huge distortions, but never like it does today. Two-party framing limits us to covering what the leaders of those two sides consider in their interests. And, because it is appropriately not our job to take sides in partisan politics, we have felt an obligation to treat them both more or less equally.

Both parties are corrupted by money, which has badly perverted the debate for a long time. But one party, you have certainly noticed, has over the last decade or two descended into a froth of racism, grievance and reality-denial. Asking you to triangulate between today’s Democrats and today’s Republicans is effectively asking you to lobotomize yourself. I’m against that.

Defining our job as “not taking sides between the two parties” has also empowered bad-faith critics to accuse us of bias when we are simply calling out the truth. We will not take sides with one political party or the other, ever. But we will proudly, enthusiastically, take the side of wide-ranging, fact-based debate.

While we shouldn’t pretend we know the answers, we should just stop pretending we don’t know what the problems are. Indeed, your main job now is to publicly identify those problems, consider diverse views respectfully, ask hard questions of people on every side, demand evidence, explore intent, and write up what you’ve learned. Who is proposing intelligent solutions? Who is blocking them? And why?

And rather than obsess on bipartisanship, we should recognize that the solutions we need – and, indeed, the American common ground — sometimes lie outside the current Democratic-Republican axis, rather than at its middle, which opens up a world of interesting political-journalism avenues.

Political journalism as we have practiced it also too often emphasizes strategy over substance. It focuses on minor, incremental changes rather than the distance from the desirable – or necessary — goal. It obfuscates, rather than clarifies, the actual problems and the potential solutions.

Who’s winning today’s messaging wars is a story that may get you a lot of tweets, but in the greater scheme of things it means nothing. It adds no value. It’s a distraction from what matters to the public. It also distracts you from more important work.

Tiresomely chronicling who’s up and who’s down actually ends up normalizing the status quo. I ask you to consider taking — as a baseline — the view that there is urgent need for dramatic, powerful action from Washington, not just when it comes to the pandemic and the economic collapse, but regarding climate change and pollution, racial inequities, the broken immigration system, affordable health care, collapsing infrastructure, toxic monopolies, and more.

Then you get to help set the national agenda, based on what your reporting leads you to conclude that the people want, need, and deserve.

Learning from our Mistakes

Let’s also consider the biggest mistakes we have made over the last two decades, and learn from them.

The most important lesson of the Bush/Cheney years is that we should never assume government officials are telling us the truth, especially when it comes to matters involving war and national security. This is hardly an original lesson, and yet nonetheless it bears repeating. We should be particularly skeptical if they claim that secrecy precludes them from showing us concrete, persuasive evidence. The government routinely uses secrecy to protect itself, not the people.

One major lesson from the Obama years is: Don’t become complacent just because the president appears to know what he’s doing. The White House is a bubble, no matter its occupant. Power not only corrupts, it distorts, it distances, it detaches. The president and his staff must be constantly questioned, challenged, and exposed to reality outside the bubble. Critics must be heard. Transparency must be enforced.  The press is uniquely capable of making that happen.

The big lesson from the 2016 election was not that we were out of touch with real people. It was that we had ignored – and, indeed, contributed to – a massive, viral outbreak of know-nothingism whose co-morbidities included white supremacy, white grievance, disinformation spread through the media and social media, mental illness, and, yes, some legitimate disillusionment about an uncaring and unresponsive government by the elites. We in the media helped by offering a divisive megalomaniac free and often unfiltered attention, by normalizing the radical extremism of the modern-day Republican Party, and by blowing Democratic failings wildly out of proportion to create false equivalence.

Faced – indeed shocked – by Trump’s victory, we should have risen to the challenge and jumped to an emergency footing. We should have gone not back to work as usual, but to war – a war not against Trump but against lies, incipient authoritarianism, and white supremacy.  We should have corrected misinformation and advocated for the truth as emphatically and effectively as Fox News and the rest of the right-wing propaganda ecosystem armed its audience with misinformation.

So yeah, let’s not make those mistakes again.

Luckily, the enthusiasm and skills that brought you into the news business in the first place are exactly what’s needed right now. My goal is not to squelch you, it is to encourage you to use your exceptional abilities to observe, analyze, and communicate to help the public understand the news and put it in context.

Sometimes, that will just entail remembering – maybe even just remembering the other stories you yourself have written. Much of the incremental news coming out of Washington these days makes no sense to readers unless they are familiar with the larger narrative. And we can’t assume they are. We can’t assume they understand basic civics. We can’t even assume they appreciate the difference between verifiable facts and baseless lies.

Habits developed in an era of loyal readers and limited space no longer apply – not when people land on our stories from who-knows-where and we can offer background and verification, through our writing and through supplementary links. What has been the unstated subtext of so many of our stories – that politics bends to the powerful, that bigotry blights so many American lives, that climate catastrophe is imminent – needs to be clear and obvious going forward. It needs to be in the headline.

Here’s how we’re going to start: I want each of you to write a “beat note,” in which you describe at a high level what you see happening on your beat, what major questions you’re trying to answer, who the key players are, who seems to be operating in good faith and bad faith, what pressures they are under, and what you think the biggest challenges are ahead. Then we’ll publish them. We’ll link to them from your “author” pages so people will know where you’re coming from. We’ll encourage your editors, your colleagues, the readers — and an economically and racially diverse advisory board I’m putting together – to interrogate those memos. We’ll encourage you to engage in conversation about those memos. And you’ll revise and update them going forward.

On Whiteness

So let’s talk about economic and racial diversity.

I look out at our profession, and I don’t see much of it.

Over time, that has to change. And it will change – but not overnight.

What we need to do, in the meantime, is recognize the effects of that: namely, that we have for a long time now operated in an atmosphere of establishment whiteness, where whiteness and white values are considered the norm.

This has corrupted what the previous generation of leaders considered “objective” journalism. Even if you value being “detached” or “above it all” – which, for the record, I do not — you are neither of those things if you haven’t recognized, not to mention rejected, white privilege and presumptions.

We in this business write and report, by default, from a position of whiteness. Our sources are too often white and male. Our presumed readers – the ones we worry about not offending – are white, male, affluent, and centrist (as if centrism were still a thing.)

We too often think of whiteness as neutral. What we have all witnessed so vividly in the last four years is what nonwhite people have experienced for decades: that it is not. Whiteness can no longer be invisible in this newsroom. It must be acknowledged, studied and questioned. Non-white voices must be raised up and valued.

In the meantime, here’s what you can start doing differently in your daily work right now: Visualize an audience that is diverse – politically, racially, socioeconomically, demographically, geographically, and by gender. Make a project of diversifying your sources. Question your blind spots. Recognize racism and call it out. Solicit criticism from people you respect.

Instead of trying to triangulate based on what you think you should be writing, or what your editors expect from you, or what you might get dinged for on Twitter, root everything you do in basic moral, journalistic principles, like fair play, civil liberty, free speech, truth in government, and a humane society. You might call that moral clarity.”

And a Few Other Things

From now on, I’m the bad cop when it comes to dishy sources who want to talk to you anonymously. When you tell your sources “my boss won’t let me quote you unless you speak to me on the record,” that’s me.

Granting anonymity is a two-way contract and should only come in return for delivering accurate information of great value to the public. In its ideal form, it protects sources who tell secrets and would otherwise face retribution from the bosses who don’t want the public to know the truth.

But publishing what anonymous sources say is essentially vouching for their credibility, because readers have no way of judging it on their own. It also means the sources can avoid accountability of any kind for what they said, including if they lied.

So new rules:

  • No anonymous sourcing unless you and your editor agree that the information is vital to an important story, otherwise unattainable, and you are either satisfied of your source’s altruistic motives or prepared to describe their more venal ones to your readers.
  • Warn them that if they lie to you, you will out them.

I’m also abolishing the fact-checking department. Or rather, I’m turning everyone into a fact-checker. Fact-checks shouldn’t be segregated. If a lie is important, that’s a news story. If an entire political party is engaged in gaslighting, that’s a news story.

Even more importantly, we should pursue consequences for lying, because right now there are none beyond a “fact check” that nobody reads. That means interrupting known liars when they are repeating a known lie. That means demanding retractions, publicly and repeatedly. That means denying serial liars the opportunity to use the media – particularly live media — to spread their lies. That means whenever you quote a serial liar, even if they are not provably lying at the time, you warn readers that they lie a lot. That means openly distinguishing in your reporting between people who, regardless of their political views, can be counted on to be acting in good faith from those who can be counted on to be acting in bad faith.

This is crucial to our mission and our economic survival. In a world with no consequences for lying, fact-based journalism has little value.

So in summary, I am not telling you what to think. I am asking you to think for yourselves. I’m asking you to interrogate some of your presumptions, to be certain – but then tell the truth as you see it.

https://presswatchers.org/2021/01/what-the-next-generation-of-editors-need-to-tell-their-political-reporters/

Accountability from media, too.

January 16, 2021

MSNBC public editor: Accountability for everyone except MSNBC itself

by Maria Bustillos

Columbia Journalism Review

“Watching MSNBC in the hours since Wednesday’s mob attack on the Capitol has been dizzying.

The enormity of this history-rattling event was impossible to spin, downplay, or trivialize, even for cable news. And so the network’s coverage summarily imploded, splintering in real time, losing the glossy veneer of corporate imperturbability as its hosts veered wildly between prim expressions of astonishment, ostrich-like attempts at “business as usual,” and passionate demands for Trump’s immediate ouster.

Calls for “accountability” have come from nearly every talking head: congressmen, academics, retired generals, and the hosts themselves. In MSNBC parlance, “accountability” is a dignified-sounding word with no exact meaning. But IRL the word means facing consequences for your decisions and actions.

Real accountability, for MSNBC, means a clear and distinct demand for each of its hosts to come clean about his or her own complicity in building and enabling the increasingly violent and extremist Republican Party that led, inexorably, to the ruinous Trump administration. Joe Scarborough, for example, who on Thursday called for the president to be arrested, was not so long ago a frequent guest at Mar-a-Lago, and a staunch ally of Trump the candidate in 2016, as CNN reported at the time:

Scarborough has spoken about Trump in increasingly glowing terms, praising him as “a masterful politician” and defending him against his political opponents and media critics. The Washington Post has noted that Trump has received “a tremendous degree of warmth from the [Scarborough] show,” and [said] that his appearances on the show, in person and over the phone, often feel like “a cozy social club.”

What would “accountability” look like for Scarborough and his cohost, Mika Brzezinski? What would it look like for Nicolle Wallace, whose work on behalf of George W. Bush in the Florida recount—a key moment in the degradation of the Republican Party—led to a high-profile job in Washington?

True to form, Chuck Todd brought the most openly cynical and dim-witted take to the party. On Meet the Press Thursday, he spoke with Andrea Mitchell and Katy Tur about the possible motivations of Elaine Chao, Trump’s transportation secretary, who had announced her resignation. “I’m sort of torn on the effectiveness,” he began.

But let’s put yourself… I’m going to try to put myself in her shoes. And maybe you don’t have enough people to do the Twenty-fifth Amendment.… And you want to stand up, and do something, and say something.… But at the end of the day, is it still better symbolically to publicly rebuke him, even if it’s in the last thirteen days, even if it does look like you’re trying to launder yourself a bit, so that maybe you’ll be invited to a better law firm or a better cocktail party, but the rebuke may be still necessary anyway?

I have nothing whatsoever to add to that.”

The new 4th Estate?

January 12, 2021

The 4th Estate refers to a Free Press in the United States, or the ‘4th Branch of Government.’ This morning the AXIOS online news organization, for-profit media, reference corporate America as the new ‘4th Estate’:

‘How CEO’s became the 4th Branch of Government’

America needs law and order — but not the kind President Trump has in mind. That’s the message being sent by a broad coalition of CEOs who are silencing Trump and punishing his acolytes in Congress, Axios’ Felix Salmon writes.

  • Why it matters: CEOs managed to act as a faster and more effective check on the power of the president than Congress could. They have money, they have power, and they have more of the public’s trust than politicians do. And they’re using all of it to try to preserve America’s system of governance.

A new political force is emerging — one based on centrist principles of predictability, stability, small-c conservatism and, yes, the rule of law.

  • “You cannot call for violence,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said yesterday in an interview with Reuters Next, explaining why she de-platformed Trump. “[T]he risk to our democracy was too big. We felt that we had to take the unprecedented step of an indefinite ban, and I’m glad that we did.” [FACEBOOK CONTINUES TO BE COMPLICIT. TEXTBOOK DEFINITION OF GASLIGHTING. Facebook is a sponsor of AXIOS. -dayle]

Between the lines: American capitalism is based on a foundation of legal contracts, all of which ultimately rely on the strength and stability of the government.

  • When a sitting president threatens that stability by inciting an insurrectionist mob that storms the legislature, corporate America will do everything in its power to restrain him.

Driving the news: Tech giants including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter have worked in concert to quiet Trump and the far right. Other corporations are pulling political funding from all legislators who supported overturning the result of November’s free and fair election.

  • All of this has happened before the House can even schedule an impeachment vote.

The backstory: Axios first told you about CEOs as America’s new politicians in 2019, when they increasingly were responding to pressure.

  • Then corporate leaders mobilized last spring on coronavirus response, last summer over racial justice, and now they are joining ranks on climate change.

What’s next: After dipping toes in for the past year and a half, CEOs are now all-in.

  • They’re in a whole new league of activism — with no going back.

Remember, GOP leaders, today, announcing their agreement for impeachment are also reacting to corporate media saying their funding, donations, are suspended. It’s money, it’s power, it’s greed—those are their motivations. Always. -dayle

The virus of lies.

We have to describe things as they are. What really happened on that terrible day? “The president of the United States incited a mob to sack the Capitol to lynch the vice president — his vice president.” -Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic

Center for Action & Contemplation:

‘If our framing story tells us that we are in life-and-death competition with each other, then we will have little reason to seek reconciliation and collaboration and nonviolent resolutions to our conflicts.’

NPR:

‘How do I help people that have, unbeknownst to them, become radicalized in their thought? Unless we help them break the deception, we cannot operate with 30% of the country holding the extreme views that they do.’

CJR/Columbia Journalism Review:

‘In 2016, DT got so much free media airtime—more than $2(B) according to the the NYTimes—that he could run a national presidential campaign with a fraction of the ad budget of his competitors; amplifying him has not merely been a Fox News problem.’ ⁦

Tim Snyder:

‘The lie outlasts the liar. The idea that Germany lost the First World War in 1918 because of a Jewish “stab in the back” was 15 years old when Hitler came to power. How will DT’s myth of victimhood function in American life 15 years from now? And to whose benefit?’

For-profit media has made millions…billions?…from Donald Trump. Mainstream media, the fringes of cable news, all, all, gave DT platforms for disinformation and incited his rhetoric. No Doubt. This could, indeed, have made room for corporate America’s position as the 4th Estate [AXIOS].

I remember, what Don Lemon, CNN, and what so many pundits on news media said in 2015: “People want to see Donald Trump. You want to watch him,” Don Lemon told CNN viewers the day after Trump announced his candidacy. “At least there’s someone interesting in the race.”

NYTimes:

‘At Fox, one former staffer said, the main criterion for choosing a story is whether it will inflame the audience: “The single phrase they said over and over was ‘This is going to outrage the viewers!’ You inflame the viewers so that no one will turn away.”’

CJR/Columbia Journalist Review

From journalist Maria Bustillos:

Media, too Must be held Accountable. [ALL MEDIA]

‘Real accountability, for MSNBC, means a clear and distinct demand for each of its hosts to come clean about his or her own complicity in building and enabling the increasingly violent and extremist Republican Party that led, inexorably, to the ruinous Trump administration. Joe Scarborough, for example, who on Thursday called for the president to be arrested, was not so long ago a frequent guest at Mar-a-Lago, and a staunch ally of Trump the candidate in 2016, as CNN reported at the time:

Scarborough has spoken about Trump in increasingly glowing terms, praising him as “a masterful politician” and defending him against his political opponents and media critics. The Washington Post has noted that Trump has received “a tremendous degree of warmth from the [Scarborough] show,” and [said] that his appearances on the show, in person and over the phone, often feel like “a cozy social club.”

True to form, Chuck Todd brought the most openly cynical and dim-witted take to the party. On Meet the Press Thursday, he spoke with Andrea Mitchell and Katy Tur about the possible motivations of Elaine Chao, Trump’s transportation secretary, who had announced her resignation. “I’m sort of torn on the effectiveness,” he began.

But let’s put yourself… I’m going to try to put myself in her shoes. And maybe you don’t have enough people to do the Twenty-fifth Amendment.… And you want to stand up, and do something, and say something.… But at the end of the day, is it still better symbolically to publicly rebuke him, even if it’s in the last thirteen days, even if it does look like you’re trying to launder yourself a bit, so that maybe you’ll be invited to a better law firm or a better cocktail party, but the rebuke may be still necessary anyway?

I have nothing whatsoever to add to that.’

 

Global Media Control

January 4, 2021

Front pages of main polish newspapers are pictured one day after the first round of the presidential election in Poland on June 29, 2020. – Poland’s right-wing President Andrzej Duda topped round one of a presidential election on Sunday, triggering a tight run-off with Warsaw’s liberal Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski on July 12, according to an Ipsos exit poll. (Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

NPR

‘Journalist Mariusz Kowalewski noticed something was amiss when his editors came to him with a new assignment: follow an outspoken critic of Poland’s ruling party with a drone.

“The idea was to send this drone over to his house in order for him to notice it and to feel threatened, like he was being watched,” Kowalewski recalls. “This was an intimidation method straight out of communism.”

The order came from his editors at TVP, Poland’s largest broadcaster which oversees a vast network of public television and radio stations.

Kowalewski says he sabotaged the plan by giving the drone operator an outdated address, but he says the episode taught him public television is no longer serving the public. Instead, he says, it’s serving Poland’s governing right-wing populist party, Law and Justice. “Instead of information, viewers now get blunt propaganda that is meant to assure them that Law and Justice is the best party to rule this country,” he says.

The party believes it is fighting an infiltration of liberal European values, spread through foreign-owned media, in this largely conservative Catholic country. Since Poles first voted Law and Justice into office in 2015, its government has not only taken control of the country’s largest public broadcaster, but it has also vowed to “re-Polanize” the national media. Critics say this is code for turning them into government propaganda outlets. The government’s moves to control the country’s media have become a political flashpoint in this European Union member state, which the EU is investigating along with other various rollbacks of democratic norms in Poland since Law and Justice took office.’

TVP is taxpayer funded and previously was editorially independent. But in 2015, Law and Justice began passing legislation that led to a purge of the public broadcaster’s editorial leadership and replaced them with party loyalists. It also put TVP under the supervision of a new National Media Council.

Protesters hold signs demanding the resignation of TVP chairman Jacek Kurski in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, blaming the atmosphere created by the government-controlled television’s “hate speech” for the recent stabbing and murder of Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Protester chants echoe through the empty city streets of Warsaw: “TVP Lies! TVP Lies!”

The news was propaganda then — and it’s returned to propaganda now, says protest organizer Karol Grabski. “We’ve come here every day since the death of Mayor Adamowicz, who was murdered in Gdansk,” he says.

Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz — a liberal critic of Law and Justice — was stabbed to death while he was on stage at a charity event in January 2019. Adamowicz had been a target of dozens of TVP news stories criticizing him for real estate dealings, his openness to migrants and his support of LGBT rights. Critics blame the network for creating an atmosphere that led to his murder.

Full piece: https://www.npr.org/2021/01/04/951063118/polands-government-tightens-its-control-over-media

24 hours for the future of journalism.

December 18, 2020

Journalist Ulrik Haagerup, founder of the Constructive Institute.

Welcome to  Constructive Institute and a global hub for people who believe that journalism might be part of the problem in the trust meltdown in our democracies – but also that journalism needs to be part of the solution. We want to change the global news culture in 5 years. Join us.

Follow the link to watch The Constructive News global conference.

‘We did it.’ -Ulrik

“Constructive journalism is a response to increasing tabloidisation, sensationalism and negativity bias of the news media today. It is an approach that aims to provide audiences with a fair, accurate and contextualised picture of the world, without overemphasising the negative and what is going wrong.”
(p. 94)

Very sad, indeed.

December 10, 2020

We have some very sad news to share. As of January 1st 2021, The Correspondent will discontinue publishing its journalism. As a paying member, you will automatically receive a full refund for the remainder of your membership in the first weeks of the new year. All published articles will remain available online, but there will be no new articles from the new year.

We are incredibly grateful for your support.

Here we will explain what led to this decision, and detail how we intend to close The Correspondent in a responsible way.

The decision to discontinue The Correspondent was made due to financial setbacks, making our English language newsroom financially unsustainable. In the past three months we’ve seen a marked increase in membership cancellations, with members often citing increased insecurity in their personal financial situation. The average membership fee paid also lagged behind budgetary needs.

Unfortunately, we were unable to demonstrate the value of The Correspondent’s journalism to a significant enough number of members. With the Covid-19 pandemic dominating headlines non-stop for much of the year, it proved very difficult to offer “unbreaking news” to members in over 140 countries. People want to know from their media source: “Is my kid’s school going to be closed tomorrow and when will I be eligible for a vaccination?” While essential, this is not the kind of journalism we were set up to do. We were focused instead on transnational issues.

We tried, we gave it our all but we didn’t succeed.

We are very sad to say goodbye to the amazing colleagues who make up The Correspondent, and who have done an absolutely amazing job in a year of global unrest. They were a bright shining light in times of increasingly dark headlines, and we are incredibly proud of the journalism they produced, in collaboration with members. We can’t recommend them highly enough to future employers.

The Correspondent’s staff will be offered a severance package and transition fee in accordance with Dutch labour law. Freelance staff will be paid in full for the work that is still to be published between now and the end of the year. The Dutch union for journalists has been informed about the closure of the newsroom. Several Dutch staff members who worked for The Correspondent part-time will continue working for De Correspondent as of January 1st. Our Dutch journalism platform, De Correspondent, is a different and financially healthy entity that will continue its operations.

We want to thank you, all our members, from the bottom of our hearts for supporting us. You have made a dream come true by becoming a member of our ad-free journalism platform and we hope you will continue to support independent media in the future. For inspiration, you can visit the Membership Puzzle Project, a New York University initiative that keeps track of membership-based journalism platforms all around the world.

If you have any questions regarding your membership or related topics, please see the FAQs below. If your question is not answered there, do not hesitate to reach out to us in the comment section, or via hello@thecorrespondent.com.

We are now completely focused on winding down The Correspondent in a responsible way. It’s too early for us to properly reflect, but we will do so in the near future and share our lessons learned.

Thank you for being part of this amazing community,

Rob Wijnberg & Ernst-Jan Pfauth
co-founders of The Correspondent

 

[Early supporter. Stellar correspondents and reporting. Long-form journalism is tough in a world of sensational news and clickbaits. Thank you for trying. Well done. -dayle]

Columbia Journalism Review

November 25, 2020

Apocalypse Then and Now

by Julian Brave NoiseCat

Winter 2020

To be Indigenous to North America is to be part of a postapocalyptic community and experience. Indigenous journalists have always grappled with earth-shattering stories: either as historical background to current events or in the deep despair of the still-unfolding legacy of Indigenous dispossession, displacement, and death that brought nations like the United States and Canada into being. This perspective tests the limits of journalism, asking reporters to cover marginalized subjects unfamiliar to most readers with an eye on the people, histories, and systems buried and erased by colonization—all without losing the thread of the narrative.

Kyle Whyte, a Citizen Potawatomi philosopher and professor of environment and sustainability at the University of Michigan, described the challenge facing Indigenous journalists succinctly: “In the space of a short piece that’s widely accessible, how do you write in a way that includes a structural analysis and a sense of history that many readers don’t initially understand?”

For insight, I called Candis Callison, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Journalism and a member of the Tahltan people. She described her preferred approach as “systems journalism”—a methodology that treats news items not as isolated events but as “windows into what’s happening in underlying systems and structures.” The narratives we tell about our past and present delineate possible avenues for future action, Callison said. She urges journalists to consider how white and colonial perspectives frame our current society as normative and permanent, erasing the history of genocidal colonialism that brought us here. Systems journalism often brushes up against established methods, however. “The forms and styles that are dominant in journalism practice,” Callison told me, “don’t always allow us to get at the historical context that is vital.”

Our stories, field notes, and communities ask a great deal of us as journalists—and, particularly, as Indigenous journalists and journalists of color—especially in moments of grave consequence, like the present. It’s hard, and in some cases impossible, to give yourself, your audience, your community, your sources—and perhaps also your land, your water, your relations—everything they want and deserve in your work. Indigenous experiences and perspectives challenge the notion that a press corps equipped with notepads and recorders can capture the whole truth. More often than not, I’m convinced that reality defies the disciplined space of stories, waging an epistemic resistance against the tyranny of language, text, and form—something we Indians can relate to.

https://www.cjr.org/special_report/apocalypse-then-and-now.php

Journalism, Professors & Solutions

November 24, 2020

Poynter.

This is a general view of the Associated Press London bureau newsroom, showing cable transmitters in foreground in an undated photo. (AP Photo)

Professors, consider volunteering in a local newsroom during the winter break

Student media is a lifesaver, and The New York Times wants you to send them your best coronavirus work

I’m wondering if any of you might want to consider volunteering over the long holiday break for a stint at your local TV or newspaper? I know that getting back into the newsroom game helps me stay current with trends (and know that yes, even in the few months that I’ve been away, things have changed!).

If any of you do this or have done this, I’d love to hear about it, especially if there are takeaways for other professors. amelia.nierenberg@nytimes.com

In the meantime, it’s November! You are so close to the end of the semester, and with a new presidency decided and positive vaccine news last week, it feels like an end to the unknowns is coming — and not a moment too soon.


“Hey, local TV news execs, read this: By a healthy margin, viewers — especially younger viewers — prefer solutions-focused stories to problem-focused pieces.”

-David Boardman

Journalist/educator. Dean, Klein College of Media and Communication

A new research study puts solutions journalism to the test

Is this an opportunity to create a new ‘tentpole’ for local TV news?

Honoring Jamal & The First Amendment

October 27, 2020

Become a voice for freedom.

https://www.freedom-first.org/freedom-pledge#Pledge

 

 

Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi جمال أحمد خاشقجي‎,

[1958-2018]

Jamal was a Saudi Arabian dissident, author, and columnist for The Washington Post and a general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel who was assassinate at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Octocter 2, 2018 by agents of the Saudi government. Jamal also served as editor for the Saudi Arabian newspaper ‘Wal Watan, turning it into a platform for Saudi progressives. [wikipedia]

Statement of Shared Purpose

For journalists and consumers of news and information.

Principles of Journalism

In 1997, an organization then administered by PEJ, the Committee of Concerned Journalists, began a national conversation among citizens and news people to identify and clarify the principles that underlie journalism. After four years of research, including 20 public forums around the country, a reading of journalism history, a national survey of journalists, and more, the group released a Statement of Shared Purpose that identified nine principles. These became the basis for The Elements of Journalism, the book by PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel and CCJ Chairman and PEJ Senior Counselor Bill Kovach. Here are those principles, as outlined in the original Statement of Shared Purpose.

A STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

After extended examination by journalists themselves of the character of journalism at the end of the twentieth century, we offer this common understanding of what defines our work. The central purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society.

This encompasses myriad roles helping define community, creating common language and common knowledge, identifying a community’s goals, heroes and villains, and pushing people beyond complacency. This purpose also involves other requirements, such as

  • being entertaining,
  • serving as watchdog,
  • offering voice to the voiceless.

Over time, journalists have developed nine core principles to meet the task. They comprise what might be described as the theory of journalism.

1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth

Democracy depends on citizens having reliable, accurate facts put in a meaningful context. Journalism does not pursue truth in an absolute or philosophical sense, but it can and must pursue it in a practical sense. This “journalistic truth” is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, valid for now, subject to further investigation. Journalists should be as transparentas possible about sources and methods, so audiences can make their own assessment of the information. Even in a world of expanding voices, accuracy is the foundation upon which everything else is built: context, interpretation, comment, criticism, analysis and debate. The truth, over time, emerges from this forum. As citizens encounter an ever-greater flow of data, they have more need not less for identifiable sources dedicated to verifying that information and putting it in context.

2. Its first loyalty is to citizens

While news organizations answer to many constituencies, including advertisers and shareholders, the journalists in those organizations must maintain allegiance to citizens and the larger public interest above any other if they are to provide the news without fear or favor. This commitment to citizens first is the basis of a news organization’s credibility; the implied covenant that tells the audience the coverage is not slanted for friends or advertisers. Commitment to citizens also means journalism should present a representative picture of all constituent groups in society. Ignoring certain citizens has the effect of disenfranchising them. The theory underlying the modern news industry has been the belief that credibility builds a broad and loyal audience, and that economic success follows in turn. In that regard, the business people in a news organization also must nurture–not exploit their allegiance to the audience ahead of other considerations.

3. Its essence is a discipline of verification

[BEWARE: CORPORATE OWNED MEDIA]

Journalists rely on a professional discipline for verifying information. When the concept of objectivity originally evolved, it did not imply that journalists are free of bias. It called, rather, for a consistent method of testing information – a transparent approach to evidence – precisely so that personal and cultural biases would not undermine the accuracy of their work. The method is objective; not the journalist. Seeking out multiple witnesses, disclosing as much as possible about sources, or asking various sides for comment, all signal such standards. This discipline of verification is what separates journalism from other modes of communication, such as propaganda, fiction or entertainment. However, the need for professional method is not always fully recognized or refined. While journalism has developed various techniques for determining facts, for instance, it has done less to develop a system for testing the reliability of journalistic interpretation.

4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover

Independence is an underlying requirement of journalism, a cornerstone of its reliability. Independence of spirit and mind,rather than neutrality, is the principle journalists must keep in focus. While editorialists and commentators are not neutral, the source of their credibility is still their accuracy, intellectual fairness and ability to inform, not their devotion to a certain group or outcome. In our independence, however, we must avoid any tendency to stray into arrogance, elitism, isolation or nihilism.

5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power

Journalism has an unusual capacity to serve as watchdog over those whose power and position most affect citizens. The Founders recognized this to be a rampart against despotism when they ensured an independent press; courts have affirmed it; citizens rely on it. As journalists, we have an obligation to protect this watchdog freedom by not demeaning it in frivolous use or exploiting it for commercial gain.

Principles of Journalism

Fundamentally Different Journalism

September 29, 2020

Rob Wijnberg, Founding editor:

I recently wrote that the United States is not a democracy, but an autocracy in the making.

That calls for a fundamentally different kind of journalism. And who better to show us what this looks like than Jay Rosen, one of the sharpest critics of modern news.

In the run-up to the US elections in November, Jay answers an essential question: How should the media report on a democracy in crisis?

“There are things that journalists can – and should – be legitimately for: a citizens agenda; fighting authoritarianism and the subversion of democracy; an evidence-based political debate; and pro-participation.”

Agree with Jay Rosen’s take on the ‘Peter Baker’ form of journalism: “I don’t trust this attitude. I think it is dismissive of some of the hardest problems in journalism. […] These are fantasies of detachment.” (para. 14 *) -dayle

JOURNALISTS: YOU NEED AN AGENDA, FOR ALL OF US
JAY ROSEN

‘I am not sure how long I’m going to be doing this.

By “this” I mean critiquing the US press as it reports on national politics, and trying to get journalists to adopt better practices when they are public actors who present to us as observers. It is a frustrating assignment, and I am wary of burnout.

But since I am self-assigned – self-appointed, really – I have freedom of movement, intellectually speaking. Were it not for the fact that we are all enmeshed in the biggest national emergency since the Great Depression, I would probably have exited by now from the “press coverage of politics” beat, in the belief that I have contributed what I can, worn out my welcome, and exhausted the patience of anyone who has been following along.

But I cannot quit before the 2020 elections are run. Until then I am going to press my case as hard as I can. Today, my case to journalists covering the US election, whether they’re US American or not, is this: you cannot keep from getting swept up in Donald Trump’s agenda without a firm grasp on your own.

I am quite aware that journalists are taught not to let their political preferences, party membership, or personal ideology shape their reporting, and I have no quarrel with that restriction. But it does not end the discussion.

in May of 2016, after Trump claimed – without evidence – that the father of former presidential candidate Ted Cruz had met with Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who shot president John F Kennedy in 1963. (Italics mine.)

“There is no corroborated evidence that Ted Cruz’s father ever met Lee Harvey Oswald, or, for that matter, any other presidential assassin. We in the media don’t talk about it because there’s no evidence of it. In fact, there is contrary evidence. Well before the picture was taken, Rafael Cruz’s sister was brutally beaten by Castro forces and Rafael Cruz had denounced the regime. So, any suggestion that Cruz’s father played a role in the Kennedy assassination is ridiculous and, frankly, shameful. Now, that’s not an anti-Trump position or a pro-Cruz position. It’s a pro-truth position.

There are fundamental values journalists have to stand up for

Jake Tapper knows that journalists are not supposed to push an agenda like “Ted Cruz for president!” But he also knows there are fundamental values that he and his colleagues in the news business have to stand up for. Among these are a decent respect for truth-telling in public settings. When politicians competing for votes float poisonous charges without even a modicum of evidence, self-respecting journalists have to push back in some way.

In doing that, Tapper wasn’t crossing the border from journalism into some other line of work. He was practising his craft the way he understands it – and legitimately so. The distinction he makes is important. Yes, he took a position on air, but it’s not anti-Trump or pro-Cruz. It’s pro-truth.

Now I want to go beyond what Jake Tapper said in 2016, and introduce a distinction of my own, between the political and the politicised. About press coverage of politics, nothing would improve our conversation more than a careful separation of these two terms. Not easy, but worth trying. Here is what I mean.

When TV journalists with news shows push back against major party candidates who are floating poisonous charges without evidence, that is a political act. We should be clear-eyed in acknowledging such. Same goes for the newspaper fact checkers “Trump is once again making a ridiculous claim.” With these moves journalists are trying to alert viewers and voters to be wary of Trump’s false charges. They would not put it this way, but I will: their implicit “agenda” is to prevent lying from being raised to a universal principle in politics.

When politicians competing for votes float poisonous charges without even a modicum of evidence, self-respecting journalists have to push back in some way

That is a valid goal. When I call it a political act, I mean several things: it is undertaken for the good of the nation. It is a use of power in one sense, a check on power in another. It is constitutionally protected. And it is contestable. People can and do disagree about the propriety of journalists declaring what is true and what is false, what is in or out of bounds during an election, and All these make it (properly) political.

But – and here comes my distinction – if journalists lose their place and operate as cheerleaders for individual candidates (“Ted Cruz for president!”) or they let their ideology distort their reporting so as not to injure a cause they manifestly believe in, then their work has been unduly politicised. This is not good. It erodes trust, validates bad faith attacks on the press, and ultimately renders journalism useless as a check on power because it is trying to be the power.

Where does the properly political part of journalism end?

*So we should be leery of an overly politicised press. We should also watch out for politicised attacks on the press. And we should be wary of journalists who don’t think their work is political at all. White House correspondent of The New York Times:

“As reporters, our job is to observe, not participate, and so to that end, I don’t belong to any political party, I don’t belong to any non-journalism organisation, I don’t support any candidate, I don’t give money to interest groups and I don’t vote.

I try hard not to take strong positions on public issues even in private, much to the frustration of friends and family. For me, it’s easier to stay out of the fray if I never make up my mind, even in the privacy of the kitchen or the voting booth, that one candidate is better than another, that one side is right and the other wrong.”

When the president is using you as a hate object in order to discredit the entire mainstream press, what good is ‘our job is to observe, not participate’?

I don’t trust this attitude. I think it is dismissive of some of the hardest problems in journalism. Correct in warning against an overly politicised press, it has nothing to say about the inescapably political nature of Baker’s day-to-day work. Not voting on principle, never making up your mind on tough issues, deliberately frustrating friends and family when they ask around your kitchen island: what do you think? These are fantasies of detachment.

When the president is using you as a hate object in order to discredit the entire mainstream press in the eyes of his supporters so that your reporting and the reporting of all the people you compete with arrives pre-rejected, what good is “our job is to observe, not participate”? You are part of that system whether you like it or not. You either think your way out of it, or get incorporated into it.

The hard work is deciding where the properly political part of journalism ends, and its undue, unfair, unwise and risky politicisation begins. But we don’t have a discussion like that. Instead, we have media bias wielded like a baseball bat, and journalists who think they can serve the electorate better if they remove themselves from it.

How should journalists approach the 2020 election?

Now we are met on an ugly and brutal battlefield: the 2020 campaign for president. How should journalists approach it? You can’t keep from getting swept up in Trump’s agenda without a firm grasp on your own. But what should that agenda be? To this tricky question I now turn, armed with my distinction between the properly political and the overly politicised.

I am going to list a few things I think journalists can legitimately be “for” as they report on the coming election. If they choose not to choose, and head into the 2020 campaign without stars to steer by, they are likely to become lost in They know what’s coming. What they don’t know is how to avoid playing along.

Here are some suggestions. 

1. A citizens agenda

This and a group that is It’s an alternative to the horse race model for election coverage. There, the organising principle is: “Who’s likely to win?” In the citizens agenda style, you start by asking the people you are trying to inform: what do you want the candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes? If you keep asking that question, and listen carefully to the answers, you can synthesise from them a kind of

This list then becomes your “agenda” for covering the campaign. Get the candidates to address what the voters said they most want to hear about. Focus your journalism around key items on the citizens agenda. When one of Trump’s media storms blows in you can hold fast to your own priorities by asking if his latest controversy advances discussion of the citizens agenda. If not, you have good reason for downplaying it. 

Because it pressures the candidates to address these issues rather than those, the citizens agenda is a political project. But it can be done without unduly politicising election coverage if the act of listening to voters is a genuine one. The agenda comes from them, not from the newsroom’s political preferences.

I wrote about it in What Are Journalists For? The basic model has been around since the early 1990s. If journalists in the national press wanted to move toward this alternative they would have done so by now. My read is that it feels too earnest to them, too much like civics class, or “eat your vegetables” journalism, not enough like having drinks with political insiders. I still think it’s the best way to keep from getting swept up in Trump’s agenda. But they do not. So we need other ideas. 

2. Fighting authoritarianism and the subversion of democracy

Suppose you began with a frank recognition among editors, producers and reporters that democracy is at risk in the United States. This would argue for extra emphasis on the integrity of elections, extra vigilance against those who would try to subvert them, and a special watchfulness for – a duty to warn about – authoritarian movements in the body politic: demonisation of minorities, trashing of democratic procedures, evasion of checks and balances, erosion of accountability, threats of violence, and other forms of above-the-law behaviour. (For what I mean by watchfulness, “When Trump takes a step toward autocracy, journalists need to call it out”. For a “fighting voter suppression” agenda

The extra watchfulness I speak of is a small-d democratic act. It has to be applied across the board: left, right, centre, fringe. With that condition,

it is entirely within journalists’ rights to make fighting authoritarianism the mission and heart of their campaign coverage. Call it threats-to-democracy journalism. If we were ever going to need an agenda like that, this is the year. 

3. A more evidence-based political debate

Journalists could also decide to stand more forcefully and consistently for an evidence-based politics. If they did, this too would be a political act. But again, it does not have to be politicised. Asking “is this evidence-based?” could be a way of deciding whether a campaign controversy is worth discussing – or dismissing. Holding all candidates to the same standards of evidence is the very essence of across-the-board fairness. Rating the campaigns on how evidence-based they are willing to be might prove especially useful in a political environment dominated by our struggle with Covid-19. 

Imagine asking the best public health and immunology experts you can find, “When it comes to the pandemic, what do you want the candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes?” Filtered through community knowledge and common sense, this might be a good way of organising state and local coverage of candidates who will have to speak about recovering from the virus to get elected. “We are going to be relentlessly evidence-based, because that is what our community most needs to get out of this mess … ” is a solid agenda to adopt in an election year likely to be dominated by a public health crisis. 

4. Pro-participation

Democracy is not a spectator sport, though some forms of punditry seem to frame it that way. The more people who participate in the system the stronger the system is. Journalists can design their coverage so that it helps people go out and vote. With good information and timely notice, they can make it easier for eligible voters to get registered and exercise their rights. They can expose those who would discourage citizens from voting. They can fight disinformation that tries to depress turnout. They can hold accountable the public officials who run elections. They can warn about problems that could haunt us on election day. 

But it’s not just voting. All forms of participation could be part of this agenda: how to volunteer, how to contribute, where to see the candidates. 

No way around it: encouraging participation is a political act. But as long as it includes all parties and all voters, election coverage that is shamelessly pro-participation does not unfairly politicise the press. Bad actors will of course make that charge, but bad actors always complain about good journalism. 

Don’t like these ideas? Come up with your own!

Some I didn’t get to: fighting cynicism. Making politics fun again. Bringing emotions other than rage to campaign coverage. Transcending traditional party divisions. It would take courage and imagination, but all of these could work as organising principles, possibly in combination with others I have mentioned. (You don’t have to have one and only one agenda!) 

My point is that journalists need to know what they’re trying to accomplish with their election coverage.

Covering the campaign the way campaigns in the US are covered – which, as far as I can tell, is the current “agenda” at CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS, NPR – does not provide a sense of mission strong enough to prevent a repeat of the debacle in 2016. Something stronger is required. 

They know what’s coming, I said about the campaign press. What they don’t know is how to avoid capture. Donald Trump is going to campaign the same way he “governs”. By flooding the zone with shit, and making so much news that no single revelation matters much. By accusing opponents of the very things he is manifestly guilty of.

By giving his supporters license to reject the news: “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” By persuading the uncommitted that it’s useless to pay attention because you will never get the story straight. By leveraging his weirdness as a human being, like the fact that he lacks the gene for feeling shame. By lowering all of us. By manufacturing confusion. By calling himself the victim of journalists who point these things out. By warring against the press. 

These methods – but they’re not methodical, just compulsive – exploit errors in the journalist’s code. Among them are: 

  • What the president says is news.
  • Issues are boring. Controversy is good.
  • Conflict makes news, attacks are exciting.
  • If it could become a factor in the election, it’s worth reporting.
  • In theory, sources that flood the zone with shit should be dropped. In practice, we need them.
  • More information is better than less.
  • Meeting traffic goals means you’re winning at this.

These are propositions set too deep. There is zero chance of removing them in time for 2020. Each one opens the press to manipulation by Trump and his campaign. Which is part of why I say: you can’t keep from getting sucked into his agenda without a firm grasp on your own. Only a strong sense of mission will prevent a repeat of 2016. But I am not optimistic. It is so much easier to go with the flow.’

This article was originally published on Jay Rosen’s blog, PressThink.

 

Epic fail.

September 14, 2020

“If at any point I had thought there’s something to tell the American people that they don’t know, I would do it.”

-Bob Woodward, ‘journalist’

 

Massive egoism.

 

The position of a journalist is to present the information gathered, a conduit of news and information, not a determinant of what the people have the right to know, or should, should not, learn.

 

“What do journalists stand for? They uphold the public’s right to know, a spirit of openness and honesty in the conduct of public business, the free flow of information and ideas, along with truthfulness, accuracy, balance, and fair play in the news.” -Jay Rosen, What are Journalist For? (p. 281)

 

#COVID19

 

Iowa, California, Lousiana, Greenland…

August 28, 2020

#ClimateEmergency

Hopeful thoughts from a climate correspondent.

“The climate emergency is very bad. Over the past few days, disasters have cascaded around the world. But no matter how dire the pandemic-climate-racial uprising emergency gets, there is never, ever a reason to give up.” -Eric Holthaus

On climate doom

Hi,

Over the past few days, disasters have cascaded around the world. More of California burned in a one-week span than in almost any other full year in recorded history. Hurricanes have battered the Caribbean and the US Gulf Coast. The strongest typhoon in North Korea’s history made landfall. Scientists unveiled doomsday updates from Greenland, Antarctica, and the North Pole.

Watching all this, I felt a familiar sense of despair settle in. When disasters are in the headlines, I often have a counter-intuitive response. My mind automatically races to the countless everyday changes in weather that go largely unnoticed, but in aggregate add up to

I find myself noticing the impulse to give in to

from my friend and former podcast co-host Jacquelyn Gill explains how this instinct is partly a result of privilege in climate spaces. It’s often easier to imagine the apocalypse than the systemic changes necessary in every aspect of society to steer us away from oblivion. 

The climate emergency is very bad. It magnifies inequalities. It’s a manifestation of hundreds of years of injustice and erasure.

But if you find yourself thinking “we’re screwed”, here’s a gentle reminder to ask yourself who “we” is. This has been happening for a long time.

This week’s good news on climate

We need to move past the “we’re screwed” narrative on climate change and ecosystem collapse. Fast. A dead world is not our destiny.

Yes, the odds are against us as long as we stay on our current path. But we can and must radically change that path. We can do this, and we will.

We’ve reached the point in the pandemic-climate-racial uprising emergency that there are multiple versions of reality floating around and it’s very difficult to keep track of reality.

and some people just aren’t willing to do it.

I’ve subscribed to the concept of atmospheric harm reduction. Harm reduction is a strategy that’s used to de-escalate violence and self-harm, and involves things like sanitised needle distribution or legalising and regulating marijuana.

The same applies to the climate emergency. Every tonne of carbon avoided through developing tough new habits, every climate denier voted out of office and replaced with an imperfect-but-better candidate, every difficult conversation that helps you articulate your ardent love for the world and everything that’s worth saving – all of those help make the world a measurably better place.

There are days when it will feel like you can’t go on, that all your work is pointless. But in those days remember that a better world is always possible. We can take breaks. We can endure setbacks. But we can never, ever give up. You were born just in time to transform the world.

https://thecorrespondent.com/652/on-climate-doom/86316088628-71047c4c

“…a true ideologue, a true fanatic.”

“(Jean Guerrero) describes the ideological arc of Miller’s life and investigates his ties to right-wing mentors and far-right groups. She adds, many are baffled at how someone so young with so little policy or legal expertise gained so much power.”

I remember, you know, the incredible anti-immigrant hostility that was pervasive in California at the time, which may be surprising to people because California is known as such a deep-blue state and kind of leads the charge against the Trump administration today. But in the ’90s, it was sort of ground zero, like a microcosm for what we’re seeing nationally today. There were unprecedented attacks on immigrants through a proposition called Prop 187, which, you know, targeted social services for children of undocumented migrants. It was later ruled unconstitutional. There was also attacks on bilingual education statewide. There were attacks on affirmative action.

And the Republican governor of California at the time, Pete Wilson, you know, was repeatedly railing against what he called the invasion at the border – the same language that you see Trump using today – and blaming all of the state’s fiscal problems on immigrants, you know, running these ads on television that I remember watching about how – you know, showing families coming across the border, and there’s this ominous narrator over the video saying, they keep coming.

And from my reporting, it became clear to me that Stephen Miller is truly a product of this environment. He was internalizing a lot of these white supremacist and racist narratives that were common in the state and acting them out, you know, in his high school.

-NPR’s Fresh Air

https://www.npr.org/2020/08/24/905403716/hatemonger-paints-trump-advisor-stephen-miller-as-a-case-study-in-radicalization

Important and necessary read–solid investigative reporting from former KPBS San Diego reporter and Emmy award winner Jean Guerrero.

“A vital book for understanding the still-unfolding nightmare of nationalism and racism in the 21st century.” –Francisco Cantu, author of The Line Becomes a River

‘Hatemonger’ Paints Trump Advisor Stephen Miller As A ‘Case Study In Radicalization’

LATimes

Guerrero told The Times that Miller, unlike Bannon and others surrounding the president, is not an opportunist or self-promoter but “a true ideologue, a true fanatic.” Much has been made of the question of what motivates Miller, 35, whose prior experience consisted mostly of PR work for C-list lawmakers before leveraging a single-minded obsession with immigration into the office of then-Sen. Jeff Sessions — and then into speechwriting for Trump’s nascent 2016 presidential campaign.

Guerrero’s book is an exhaustive investigation into not just the how, but the why. She continues to brave threats of violence after conducting more than 100 interviews and researching the darkest corners of the American consciousness to unpack a strange (but not rare) phenomenon: the radicalization of a privileged young white man — though this one, the descendant of Jewish refugees, grew up in an increasingly diverse Southern California.

Guerrero spoke with The Times over the phone from her home in San Diego, a conversation edited for clarity and length. By her account, Miller was primed and groomed — starved for attention, yearning for belonging, and fighting what was, then, a lonely war.’

I honestly believe that the most important reason Miller has been able to stay so long and have such an outsize impact is that he is a true ideologue, a true fanatic. More than anyone else in the White House, he believes that he is actually saving the world through what he is doing. Strategically that has worked out for him — and Trump has found whenever he takes a more moderate line on immigration or anything, he ends up getting ridiculed as weak, which Trump hates.

nowhere in the book do I call Miller racist or xenophobic, or anything like that. We don’t know what is in a person’s heart with absolute certainty. I grappled with that. Neutrality is necessary for journalistic integrity, an integral pillar of our democracy, and we absolutely need that, but also this reluctance we’ve had as journalists to use these words has created space for white supremacists to operate with impunity.

What I tried to do in the book is show what Miller is doing and saying, and the white supremacist sources, so that people can draw their own conclusions. I did not write this book to tell you that Miller hates anyone. I can say, with the confidence of my reporting, that he is fluent in hate and deliberately traffics in hate and communicates with people who hate.

I think Miller is always going to have allies in the nativist movement and the white nationalist movement, he’s always going to find a place. He is very ambitious. … He’s told people his ultimate goal is to become a senator, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran for office somewhere. But I don’t think he’s allowed himself to envision an alternate reality where Trump doesn’t win reelection.

I don’t think Miller and everything he represents is going to go away after November. He’s going to continue to rally people around his ideas, which are not just his ideas.

The thing with Bannon and Donald Trump is, they’re out to con people. … Miller is accountable for his own actions and responsible for everything he’s done, but he was indoctrinated at a very young age into this idea that he needed to save the United States from this imagined threat of Black and brown people.

Full LATimes interview with Jean Guerrero and reporter Molly O’Toole:

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2020-08-27/jean-guerrero-hatemonger-stephen-miller-interview

Molly O’Toole is an immigration and security reporter based in the Los Angeles Times’ Washington, D.C., bureau. Previously, she was a senior reporter at Foreign Policy and a politics reporter at the Atlantic’s Defense One. She has covered migration and security from Central America to West Africa to South Asia. In 2020 she was awarded the first-ever Pulitzer Prize in audio reporting with the staff of This American Life and freelancer Emily Green for “The Out Crowd,” investigating the personal impact of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. She is a graduate of Cornell University and NYU, but will always be a Californian.

 

Desperately Needed Fundamental Change

June 10, 2020

“If you want to bring in different perspectives, you’ll have a different culture & different environment that will lead you to make different decisions.”

James Bennet, recently resigned opinion editor for the NYTimes, representing collective White privilege patriarchy…father, Douglas Bennet, former NPR Director/Wesleyan University president and part of both the Carter & Clinton administrations, and brother, Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator and former U.S. Presidential candidate. -dayle

A copy of the December 23, 2018, edition of the New York Times.Robert Alexander/Getty Images

VOX

America is changing, and so is the media

The media has gone through painful periods of change before. But this time is different

By

There have always been boundaries around acceptable discourse, and the media has always been involved, in a complex and often unacknowledged way, in both enforcing and contesting them. In 1986, the media historian Daniel Hallin argued that journalists treat ideas as belonging to three spheres, each of which is governed by different rules of coverage. There’s the “sphere of consensus,” in which agreement is assumed. There’s the “sphere of deviance,” in which a view is considered universally repugnant, and it need not be entertained. And then, in the middle, is the “sphere of legitimate controversy,” wherein journalists are expected to cover all sides, and op-ed pages to represent all points of view.

The media’s week of reckoning

Last week, the New York Times op-ed section solicited and published an article by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) arguing that the US military should be deployed to “restore order to our streets.” The piece set off an internal revolt at the Times, with staffers coordinating pushback across Twitter, and led to the resignation of James Bennet, the editor of the op-ed section, and the reassignment of Jim Dao, the deputy editor.

That same week, Stan Wischnowski, the top editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, resigned after publishing an article by the paper’s architecture critic titled “Buildings Matter, Too.” David Boardman, the chair of the board that controls the Inquirer, said Wischnowski had done “remarkable” work but “leaves behind some decades-old, deep-seated and vitally important issues around diversity, equity and inclusion, issues that were not of his creation but that will likely benefit from a fresh approach.”

One interpretation of these events, favored by frustrated conservatives, is that a generation of young, woke journalists want to see the media remade along activist lines, while an older generation believes it must cover the news without fear and favor, and reflect, at the very least, the full range of views held by those in power.

“The New York Times motto is ‘all the news that’s fit to print,’” wrote the Times’s Bari Weiss. “One group emphasizes the word ‘all.’ The other, the word ‘fit.’”

Another interpretation is that the range of acceptable views isn’t narrowing so much as it’s shifting. Two decades ago, an article like Cotton’s could easily be published, an essay arguing for abolishing prisons or police would languish in the submissions pile, and a slogan like “Black Lives Matter” would be controversial. Today, Black Lives Matter is in the sphere of consensus, abolishing prisons is in legitimate controversy, and there’s a fight to move Cotton’s proposal to deploy troops against US citizens into deviance. The idea space is just as large as it’s been in the past — perhaps larger — but it is in flux, and the fight to define its boundaries is more visible.

“Those are political decisions,” says Charles Whitaker, dean of the Medill School of Journalism. “They are absolutely governed by politics — either our desire to highlight certain political views or not highlight them, or to create this impression that we’re just a marketplace of ideas.”

The media is changing because the world is changing

  1. First, business models built around secure local advertising monopolies collapsed into the all-against-all war for national, even global, attention that defines digital media.
  2. Second, the nationalization of news has changed the nature of the audience. The local business model was predicated on dominating coverage of a certain place; the national business model is about securing the loyalties of a certain kind of person.
  3. Third, America is in a moment of rapid demographic and generational change. Millennials are now the largest generation, and they are far more diverse and liberal than the generations that preceded them.
  4. Fourth, the rise of social media empowered not just the audience but, crucially, individual journalists, who now have the capacity to question their employer publicly, and alchemize staff and public discontent into a public crisis that publishers can’t ignore.

The media prefers to change in private. Now it’s changing in public.

The news media likes to pretend that it simply holds up a mirror to America as it is. We don’t want to be seen as actors crafting the political debate, agents who make decisions that shape the boundaries of the national discourse. We are, of course. We always have been.

“When you think in terms of these three spheres — sphere of consensus, of legitimate debate, and of deviancy — a new way of describing the role for journalism emerges, which is: They police what goes in which sphere,” says Jay Rosen, who teaches journalism at NYU. “That’s an ideological action they never took responsibility for, never really admitted they did, never had a language for talking about.”

“Organizations that have embraced the mantra that they need to diversify have not as quickly realized that diversifying means they have to be a fundamentally different place,” says Jelani Cobb, the Ira A. Lipman professor at the Columbia Journalism School and a staff writer at the New Yorker. “If you want to bring in different perspectives, you’ll have a different culture and different environment that will lead you to make different decisions.”

[Full Piece]

https://www.vox.com/2020/6/10/21284651/new-york-times-tom-cotton-media-liberal-conservative-black-lives-matter

 

Moral Clarity

June 8, 2020

“American view-from-nowhere, ‘objectivity’-obsessed, both-sides journalism is a failed experiment. “We need to rebuild our industry as one that operates from a place of moral clarity.” ⁦⁦⁦

-Wesley Lowery, journalist

‘The problem is that they don’t seem to be naming the rise of racialized authoritarianism; the media’s responsibility above all (is to) sound the alarm—boost that signal — it must tell the real story of what’s going on — before it is too late.’

VOX

The Tom Cotton op-ed affair shows why the media must defend America’s values

It cannot remain neutral when those values are under threat from racialized authoritarianism.

By

‘The media must begin to assert some agency over the stories it covers and how it covers them, based on its own values. In discussing journalistic objectivity, Rosen agrees that the media’s work should not be politicized, i.e., produced expressly to help one party/candidate or another.

On the other hand, he says, media cannot help but be political. Modern journalism was meant to play a political role, to expose the truth and hold politicians accountable to the small-l liberal values that make liberal democracy possible. It cannot remain neutral when those values are under threat. Like other institutions — science, the academy, and the US government itself — its very purpose is to both exemplify and defend those values. Its work is impossible without them.

The press should always be fair in the application of its values and standards, but doing so will mean making clear when there is an asymmetry.

The American public, by and large, does not understand this asymmetry and its implications. They do not understand that right-wing authoritarianism is perilously close to toppling US democracy because they are not able to pick that signal out of the noise of daily “balanced” news coverage, wherein everything is just another competing claim, just another good-faith argument to hash out through competing op-eds.

Even in the face of the inevitable pressure campaign from the right, even amid an information environment chocked with conspiracies and nonsense, the press must boost that signal — it must tell the real story of what’s going on — before it is too late.’

Full Article:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/21281309/new-york-times-op-ed-editor-tom-cotton-is-trump-authoritarian

Clean Web Design