Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

on hiatus

December 20, 2010

Taking a break from this blog until class resumes.  In the meantime, the links may be helpful along with three years worth of various media stories and cases, which provide helpful examples, most linked to the New York Times, of journalistic trends.  Another class blog supports my current class, “Understanding 9/11,”:


news readers

November 15, 2010

If you haven’t gotten the Pulse or Flipboard apps for newsreading (both now free), these add an appealing new dimension to organizing news and blog feeds on a mobile device. As a front-end window for newssites (much as Google is the defacto front porch for many small businesses), these apps have the potential to bring traffic to otherwise obscure sites.

For small blogs that do not have the resources to build their own mobile apps, Pulse could serve as their main app, Mr. Kothari and Mr. Gupta say. To help readers discover new information sources, it features 10 publications, often small blogs, each week, and it is considering ways to incorporate recommendations from readers’ friends or experts in particular fields.

Such sites have the capability of adding to the visitors of even established sites like the Huffington Post.  However, once technology has enhanced all the ways we read and get connected to news and newssites, the next step is to figure out how to fund more “boots on the ground” reporting to drive all these data streams.

another take on the Keith Olberman case

November 12, 2010

This is from a well know professor blogger on journalism trends, Jay Rosen at NYU.

juan williams NPR case

November 9, 2010

A good example of Assignment 2 on the pages at right.

media bias and the punditocracy

November 6, 2010

MSNBC suspended Keith Olberman recently for making political campaign contributions, providing a relevant development for our discussion of media bias on Tuesday.  It illustrates that the norms of objectivity are still being worked out in uneasy tension within the new cable news environment.

The indefinite suspension was a stark display of the clash between objectivity and opinion in television journalism. While Mr. Olbermann is anchor of what is essentially the “Democratic Nightly News,” the decision affirmed that he was being held to the same standards as other employees of MSNBC and its parent, NBC News, both of which answer to NBC Universal. Most journalistic outfits discourage or outright prohibit campaign contributions by employees.

When coupled with the recent revelation that Rupert Murdoch, owner of Newscorp of Fox News fame, contributed millions to the Republicans, these events make perfect dual illustrations of competing critiques of media bias.  The liberal MSNBC focused on the personal bias of the news figure Olberman, following policy intended to avoid individual conflict of interest.  The conservative Fox News was targeted by critics, who were more concerned with the ownership corporate level of conflict, which is argued to be at the root of bias.  So, on the left, individual level–on the right, corporate level critique of bias.  The difference:  on the left, the NBC network actually had a policy against political contributions and punished a violation;  on the right, Murdoch basically said, “Yeah, so what?”

Another perspective is provided by the media watchdog group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

restoring sanity rally

November 1, 2010

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held what has been called the largest press criticism event in history over the weekend.  As Stewart declared, “The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous, flaming ant epidemic.”

In his Monday media column David Carr seems to cast doubt on the power of Stewart’s big target:  cable news, claiming its audience is relatively small in the big scheme of things.  But this model for pundit-based, conflict oriented echo-chamber news tends to corrupt the entire political conversation, yielding an effect larger than its actual audience would indicate.  Part of this corruption must also be regarded as the continuing links between the corporate parents of news organizations participating themselves in the flow of campaign funding–an example in the same Monday Times concerning a News Corp contribution to defeating a business tax in California, and then reporting negatively on the tax in a “War on Business” documentary on the Fox Business Network.

npr flap over news “objectivity”

October 25, 2010

So NPR fired one of its commentators for comments made elsewhere on the Fox News Network.  The case touches on a number of evolving ethical issues in the new mediaverse, as reported by Brian Stelter, who has been tracking the story in the Times.

Like other news organizations, NPR expects its journalists to steer clear of situations that might call its impartiality into question. NPR’s ethics code explains the rule this way: “In appearing on TV or other media including electronic Web-based forums, NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows electronic forums, or blogs that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.”

The irony of course is that Fox is treating it as a First Amendment Issue, resigned Juan Williams to a new multi-million dollar contract.  The accusations of political correctness against NPR are also strange, given that Williams ostensibly plays a “house liberal” in his Fox role.  In any case, it shows the uneasy tension between traditional norms of objectivity (claimed by NPR) and more opinionated comments exemplified by Fox.

After dismissing Mr. Williams, who was one of its senior news analysts, NPR argued that he had violated the organization’s belief in impartiality, a core tenet of modern American journalism. By renewing Mr. Williams’s contract, Fox News showed its preference for point-of-view — rather than the view-from-nowhere — polemics. And it gave Fox news anchors and commentators an opportunity to jab NPR, the public radio organization that had long been a target of conservatives for what they perceived to be a liberal bias.

Ultimately, NPR has only itself to blame for letting its journalists double-dip.  NPR as a publicly supported news organization should provide something not available elsewhere, but too often serves up the same menu of stories, sources, and opinions readily available elsewhere.  There should be enough journalists willing to play by the NPR rules of impartiality to not have to retain those offering their services to a number of outlets.  Now, it has given the critics of public media (and I would argue a, relatively speaking, quality journalism forum) a club to beat it with.

Trouble at the Chicago Tribune

October 13, 2010

Here’s an important story by our Thursday guest, David Carr.  He will no doubt have something to say about the long analysis piece he did recently on the sexism and mismanagement visited upon one of the nation’s once great newspapers, the Chicago Tribune

The new management did transform the work culture, however. Based on interviews with more than 20 employees and former employees of Tribune, Mr. Michaels’s and his executives’ use of sexual innuendo, poisonous workplace banter and profane invective shocked and offended people throughout the company. Tribune Tower, the architectural symbol of the staid company, came to resemble a frat house, complete with poker parties, juke boxes and pervasive sex talk.

Take a look.

upcoming class guest

October 4, 2010

Today’s column in the business section of the Times is a regular contribution by David Carr, an upcoming October class guest speaker.  Carr considers the “truth” of the new hit film “The Social Network.”

framing a shooting incident

October 4, 2010

I already posed the question of how the University of Texas shooting incident was “framed” by journalists, in a number of cases by linking it to the 1966 Texas Tower shooting by Charles Whitman.  This helps create a narrative of school violence.  Another campus case of a tragic suicide occured not long before at Rutgers, in which a student jumped off the George Washington Bridge.

The Sept. 22 death, details of which the authorities disclosed on Wednesday, was the latest by a young American that followed the online posting of hurtful material. The news came on the same day that Rutgers kicked off a two-year, campuswide project to teach the importance of civility, with special attention to the use and abuse of new technology.

Thus, could the Texas case have been better characterized and examined as another suicide case, in which the tool of choice happened to be an AK-47?  That would have given rise to a different set of questions and concerns as the two cases joined together with a different narrative and prognosis.  There’s more than one way to frame a story, but the choices do matter in terms of the policy discourse that emerges as a result.  This latter incident intersects with two other issues of interest in the class:  coverage of sexual orientation and the role of technology in revealing private lives.