Archive for the ‘trends in news’ Category

press freedom in china

November 19, 2010

The dynamic of openness of press and speech in China can be best observed at the grassroots level as the public expresses itself via critical incidents.  The government may wish to suppress reporting but if something resonates with public grievances, it simply will not be completely successful given the technology of new media.  The case of a girl killed by a reckless driver, the son of a powerful official illustrates this phenomenon, as reported below in the Times this week:

In many ways, the Li Gang case, as it is known, exemplifies how China’s propaganda machine — able to slant or kill any news in the age of printing presses and television — is sometimes hamstrung in the age of the Internet, especially when it tries to manipulate a pithy narrative about the abuse of power.

The ability of the public to push for greater openness in spite of official efforts to the contrary (still not to be underestimated) is an often overlooked reason for optimism.  Doctoral candidate Jia Dai in the School of Journalism is in the process of analyzing a series of similar events for their reflection of deliberative quality.


more hiring in investigative journalism

October 19, 2010

The Center for Public Integrity will merge with a Huffington Post operation to create a larger news organization for investigations.  That sounds like good news for the muckraking tradition:

“It would double our operation,” said Mr. Buzenberg, adding that the center expected to file 500 investigative reports this year, with a dozen of them being major projects. “I do feel like we’re filling a void on the for-profit side that’s being filled on the nonprofit side,” he added. “Because of cutbacks, they have fewer people and less time to do that.”

the media “team”

October 11, 2010

David Carr (upcoming 310 guest) makes a number of important points in today’s column, noting the departure of The Washington Post’s starr media player Howard Kurtz to the online Daily Beast.

More and more, media outlets are becoming a federation of individual brands like Mr. Kurtz. Journalism is starting to look like sports, where a cast of role players serves as a platform and context for highly paid, high-impact players….On a journalistic level, the new playing field is more even. Many people see the news in aggregated form on the Web, and when they notice a link that interests them, they click on it with nary a thought about the news organization behind it. Information stands or falls on its magnetism, with brand pedigree becoming secondary.


media decoder: gender issues

October 4, 2010

Here’s a recent study that supports the women and news themes to be discussed this week in class.

It is a perennial complaint about American television news: that the guests on the Sunday morning public affairs programs are not representative of the country’s diversity.

A new study says the guest bookings do not represent the population of Congress, either.

“In 2009 the talk shows told us (by their selection of Congressional guests) that the people who matter are disproportionately white, male, senior and Republican — disproportionate not just when compared to the American population overall, but also when compared to the population of Congress itself,” concluded a study published this month in The Green Bag, a quarterly journal supported by the George Mason University School of Law.

The Times decoder feature should be handy for other of your analysis.

progressive values vs. the backlash

September 15, 2010

Bad news in today’s Times concerning the hope that issues can be addressed on the basis of reason, a Progressive Era value.  Two articles point to two related developments:  first is the huge disparity in campaign support being funneled to and favoring the Republicans. Corporate donations, unleashed by the recent Supreme Court ruling (Citizens United), are flowing to influence more agreeable policies.  Second, the recent book Backlash, argues that the current anti-government mood is fueled in part by an echo-chamber of misinformation, unfiltered by traditional journalistic reporting

“The electronic media” — including the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and local talk radio imitators, as well as social networking forces like Facebook and Twitter — which have enabled “like-minded Obama naysayers” to come together “without actual journalists intervening to filter out untrue information like the canard about the president’s birth certificate.”

And from the standpoint of this class, that’s a problem.

where they’re hiring journalists

September 13, 2010

Washington, D.C.  That’s where the money is and that’s where there’s a strong and growing appetite for specialized information. Bloomberg, for example, will hire 100 reporters for its venture.  David Carr, a Times columnist who will be an upcoming class speaker, notes today that DC is a center for new business models in the news business, quoting one expert:

“I think that Politico’s entrance entirely changed what had been a pretty cozy market with a few incumbents — National Journal, CQ and Roll Call — and kudos to them for demonstrating there was a market beyond the Beltway,” he said. “In addition to the deeper analytics we are known for, we also need to play outside the firewall with up-to-the-minute news because that is where much of the conversation is occurring.”

the news/advertising divide

December 4, 2009

Newspapers have traditionally kept the line clear between editorial and advertising, with recent scandals at the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post attributed to unseemly connections between the two.  The Dallas Morning News will have some of its section editors in sports and entertainment report directly to sales managers.  Although for now, the news departments will not follow this route, the pattern seems clear enough once the precedent is set.  As the Times analyst Richard Lopez-Pena reports:

Loren Ghiglione, a professor of media ethics at the Medill School ofNorthwestern University, said the need to sell ads had always helped shape news coverage — papers have created or eliminated entire sections on that basis — “but this does seem to me to take it to a slightly different level. It strikes me as at least creating a perception issue,” he said, “when you have, in effect, sales managers managing news personnel.”

tiger woods and the publicity machine

November 30, 2009

Golfer Tiger Woods has gone into a publicity lock-down, declining to speak with law enforcement investigators about his early morning accident near his home.  This tight control over information, which celebrities grow accustomed to when managing their personal images, doesn’t work so well when scandal ensues and the power over the story shifts away from those involved (as sports columist George Vecsey argues)

This tactic works fine at golf tournaments and any time he has a product to push. He appears when he is good and ready, and is just blandly helpful enough to give a few snippets of quotes to the waiting world. He’s a green-jacketed master at it.

The satellite vans are already encamped near the Woods home, and in the absence of a story from the subject other stories will be promoted–decidedly not under the control of the subject.

new forms of news

November 23, 2009

The Global Post provides news to a number of U.S.-based news partner organizations.  As one of many forms in the new journalism eco-system, the ideological dimension is unclear from the mission statement’s reference to an “American voice.”

We are proud to be an American news organization with a decidedly American voice. We also intend to seek out and tell the truth as we find it. To quote the great American newsman and foreign correspondent Edward R. Murrow, we aspire always to report the news “without fear or favor.”ege

This approach would seem to be an historical parallel to the early telegraph-based origin of the news wire services.  Like those outfits that were obliged to be “objective” in order to sell product to an uncertain final user, Global Post avoids the need to tailor the reporting to the niche of the news partner.  An “American voice” would seem to appeal to any U.S. news organization.

Japanese news clubs

November 21, 2009

The Japanese have long used a system for newsgathering based on “kisha” clubs, journalist associations that place themselves in government ministries as a formal installation.  This kind of tight relationship between journalist and source became a form of mutual backscratching insiderism.  Now with foreign journalists pressuring the clubs for access, the system is breaking down–although the reasons kisha reporters give for restricting the definition of “who is a jouranlist?” can be comical:

He also noted that the club had opened up slightly in the past decade by allowing the big American and British financial news agencies to join. But he said the press club wanted to ensure that people posing as journalists did not get in and disrupt proceedings.

“What if someone tried to commit suicide or burn themselves to death at a press conference? Who would take responsibility for that?” Mr. Furuta asked.

U.S. journalists share the same tendencies of mutual backscratching with high-level officials;  it’s just not institutionalized as in Japan where it’s easier to notice and make fun of.  Professionalism means control, and sometimes that control can be over issues that are not relevant to the core societal mission.