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In Write On
That the news media rides on the coat-tails of startling headlines and sound bites is far from a revelation. Social media throws little snippets of color onto a revolving pallet, often revolting. Managing all this, for one purpose or another, occupies the most sacred of democratic processes, elections. Facts are transient, spin normal. To deny, disclaim, has become high art.
The digital dividend continues to chill the journalistic air. Online services give too much or too little, attract too many people but far less revenue. Search engines and aggregators are the new street corner kiosks. Libraries store newspapers for hundreds of years or until the paper disintegrates. Nobody goes there in the smartphone age. They go online where nothing is lost or forgotten.
Images are evermore important to the media sphere. About 100 million are posted to Instagram each day. The vast majority are personal, not newsworthy except for the volume. Across all platforms images are the big attention-getter, shaping news editors decisions proportionally. Images are emotion-laden, including, sometimes, compassion.
Clandestine meetings on dark street corners, secrets passed silently, details checked diligently, the story written brilliantly and published under a tough editor’s watchful eye has narrated journalism’s highest calling, bringing truth to power. Real life is less dramatic. The digital age has brought new tools to the newsroom and a far different practice. The result is measured the same.
Armed only with their digital devices, pens long ago disappearing, media workers seem less equipped to fend off the onslaught of paranoia, polarization and propaganda. Complicit authorities keep inventing new and creative ways to sideline even basic news, lest the public know too much. Where media freedom is respected, however, folks seem to get along quite well, even happier. Perhaps that’s the point.
Respect for criticism, divergent views and objectivity are the necessary adhesive for societies moving successfully into the future. The media plays an essential role in this narrative as do leaders in every civil sector. While great lessons are learned from history, nobody really lives there. Confusion mixed with fantasy is the place-name for nowhere.
Journalism just isn’t what it once was, except it really is. Voyeurism masquerades as public interest and the public is both drawn in and revolted. The accepted model is now staged and titillating. It’s been learned over decades.
Refugees trying to flee civil war and terror in Syria, Iraq and on to Central Asia and North Africa became through this past summer the significant focus for news media. One tragedy after another led the headlines and breaking news reports. Explaining it all tested the skills of journalists and editors, lest xenophobic opinion crowd out reality. There has been considerable new learning.
Secrets are the stock in trade of investigative journalism, loosely defined. From juicy details of celebrities and politicians carrying-on to the rough entanglement of stuff some folks would rather the whole world just didn’t know there is hunger and thirst with all the desire a clever headline can raise. Click-bait is this century’s pop-art.
The documentary form never gets old. Subject material is vast, from injustices in the world and conspiracy theories to the real stories of the real and not-so-real. These moving pictures are moving at a time when attachment is considered out of fashion and escape considered a necessity. What have we learned?
Times are unquestionably difficult for news media throughout the world. Once upon a time, reporters had privileged access and a measure of respect, even when critical. Media workers are targeted for assault - or worse - by anybody with a grievance, whether police, politicians, gangsters or fanatics. Even media outlet proprietors are angry with reporters.
We would like to believe in the Glinda the Good Witch, Johnny Appleseed or Santa Claus. It is not only the appeal to simple, perhaps naive comfort. Those narratives endure because they enhance our craving for a future. But even Cinderella had to learn the difference between good and evil.
Awful things are popping out all over the internet. Politicians vow to make it safe, at least for themselves. We understand their frustration. But the internet and all things that spring from it are not just a well of ideas to be bottled up. On this river everything flows.
Conflict zones always pose extreme conditions for news gathering. International conventions aside, warring parties view journalists as in the way, at best, or partisans to be contained. Conflict coverage is and always will be in high demand. Proliferating news channels, neutral or not, send crews with cameras to scour through the rubble. Unsurprisingly, everybody gets a bit aggressive.
Change has always driven the news. Without change there is no news. Imagine being the weather reporter in Mauritius; sunny today, sunny tomorrow. The digital dividend for news organizations has meant considerable change, disruption and, for some, fun.
Televised political debates have become a regular and noteworthy application of democratic action. Since US presidential candidates Richard Nixon and John Kennedy appeared live on TV in 1960, the formula has been adopted in and adapted for national audiences almost everywhere. TV debates are much loved by political journalists – and their editors – hoping for a headline-making line.
News coverage in conflict zones has always been precarious, war correspondents often celebrated. William Howard Russell’s coverage of the Crimean War in the mid-19th century for the Times (London) was widely followed for its grit and gristle. In every conflict there are stories to tell and legions ready to tell them.
As the internet became the agent for speedy delivery of news and information those less speedy entered an existential crisis. People would wait no longer for the newspaper to hit the doorstep or the evening TV news programs appointed hour. And why should they? People now accept that all the news they need can be consumed in real time. This is not the only transformation.
Among adults disagreements are settled, typically, through dialogue. Governments employ talented diplomats to nudge adversaries with nuance. Failing that, there’s always war. And information wars have a particular ugliness.
The advertising people are fond of repeating that measurement is the currency of media. Indexes do, in fact, help focus attention. Everything is traded on rankings, particularly change. It works for stock traders and anybody else betting on the future.
All too common are vicious attacks on media workers. Beatings and shootings, robberies and other forms of intimidation are meant to keep inconvenient news off the television and out of the headlines. Authoritarian governments also create laws to limit or curtail information. Interestingly, it isn't having the desired effect.
We are reminded constantly about the virtues of constant connectedness and that the digital world is more transparent because ones and zeros are pure. There’s no nuance to profit and loss, nor to corruption. But good reporting is all about what appears between the numbers. That makes journalism a very analogue pursuit. We should be glad.
Nothing shines the light better than pictures. Those who carry cameras into the places that need to be seen are the most vulnerable of all media workers. Their load is enormous, the job increasingly precarious. The bad guys target them.
Self-regulation bodies that set standards in the media sphere are widely seen as good things, a mature approach to proscribing bad practices. The distasteful alternatives range from irresponsible chaos – yelling fire in a crowded theater – to legislated regulation – government censorship. The printed media has, more or less, adopted self-regulation as a means of keeping politicians out of their newsrooms while keeping a watchful eye on the politicians.
Influence is a fundamental ambition for the news media. It can be mercurial. Highly influential new media covers two subjects more than most: business and gossip. Mixing them is the key to being highly cited.
The wave of contention between governments and news media returned from the summer holidays with many media watchers. Press freedom as a democratic concept may be enjoined by nearly all kings, princes, presidents and prime ministers but reality can be quite different. They like having media under their thumb and, more and more, don’t mind showing it.
Occupying the news cycle for an entire day or two was the story of authorities detaining a traveler in transit. It grew precipitously as details emerged; a major newspaper involved, electronic devices confiscated, wobbly statements from authorities. Add to that whistleblowers and spies for sufficient theatrics.
Following every news event, large or small, comes inevitably the fusillade from media critics, more often than not by the Twitterati. Once upon the time these ‘armchair quarterbacks’ would be kept at arm’s length. Today they’re quoted.
When events of major importance are met with a dearth of credible information people most affected will search high and low for news that satisfies basic needs. People verify information sources very lightly, something marketing people fully understand. Family and friends are most trusted, followed by familiar names, then, sometimes, institutions.
Governments have been resplendent in their commitments to press and media freedom. Dimming that light are national security issues, particularly embarrassing leaks. Balancing both can be difficult. And it can happen anywhere.
A healthy media environment needs a balance of many things, healthy competition being one. New media – spawn of the internet – can be suitably expansive but it doesn’t replace the need for newspapers, radio and television. Openness is always the measure of greatness.
As a legal concept press freedom is meant to enshrine a separation between those who deliver news to the public and those who might impose limits. The purpose is to mind the principle of an informed public enabling democracy. Though inscribed in the grand conventions on human rights, not everybody agrees on the purpose.
Ranking the attributes of any country’s media sector is acceptably subjective. There is the obvious, not so obvious and uncovered. As in physics, the act of observing changes things. Physics also reminds us that objects at rest tend to fall apart.
Measuring media freedom is a subjective art. Freedom for one represses another, say critics. Indisputable, though, is death. Where media workers die for their work, mysteriously ordered, we learn that freedom isn’t free.
New media has taken its place as rabble rouser-in-chief. Torrents of tiny text can literally light up the sky. Even where censors try to pull the shades, people stay one line – or character – ahead. Anyway, it’s all very good for business.
Elections are great democratic exercises. The people speak. Campaigns, though, are for candidates to speak and speak and speak. Media’s role in it all has never been more apparent.
A fundamental understanding in management is the metaphysical difficulty getting and keeping partners and shareholders on the same page. For many top executives the endeavor can be a career-ender. It’s easier for Rupert Murdoch, so far.
Producing original news content looks like the next big thing, except when it doesn’t. Harkening back to earlier times, ad sellers are offering original news content to attract readers or viewers or surfers. It worked before, why not now?
That words and images have the power to provoke, whether a video uploaded to the internet, a radio or television talk show or a cartoon published in a newspaper, has been amply demonstrated, once again. Demonstrations against words and images offensive to some and delivered both by new and old media moved beyond legitimate protest to violence, destruction and death. Defense of media freedom has been swift and compelling.
A new election cycle is upon us, longer it seems and certainly more costly each year. The drama plays well on television, even with the rise of new media, as candidates and supporters carefully craft their messages. Covering these major events gives an edge to broadcasters, too.
Recordings of communication between police and a murder suspect that found their way to a television news program raised questions about news value and ethics. Authorities want to know how the recordings, graphically revealing police negotiations with a deranged killer, left their control. Mirroring the outrage of victim’s families, the media regulator asked if rules were broken.
As new media shortens the attention span of viewers and readers to 140 characters, reporters and editors are even quicker to move from one event, crisis or revelation to the next. Context is lost, some say post-modernly irrelevant. Those intent on controlling images are ever more pleased.
After years of shrinking foreign bureaus to save money, news organizations are finding more and more interest in their work. Maybe dismal economics hasn’t put globalization in reverse. Or maybe there are some trends you just can’t buck.
Conventional wisdom holds that private sector media holds political influence at bay because of the profit motive. It’s very idealistic. Where local owners are investors with wide and varied interests, new to the media game as well, standards and practices are shaped by “short-term vision.” Add rampant corruption and the media sector is poisoned.
Theater and journalism generally keep their separate spaces. Both, though, are venues for a good story, which attracts viewers, listeners and readers. The values of journalism – objectivity and facts – seem passé in an attention-obsessed world. Welcome to post-journalism.
Newsrooms are delightful studies of chaos. It’s a high-pressure world where the timid are quickly discarded. Add online demands to the mix and the mind boggles. Once journalism was about who, where, what, when and why. Now it’s the power of Twitter.
Eight countries formerly in the Soviet orbit plus Malta and Cyprus became Member States of the European Union (EU) in 2004. Two others – Bulgaria and Romania – joined in 2007. In those early days major media and press freedom indicators showed the promise of open media in newly democratic societies. Happiness was everywhere. While there have been successes, in less than ten years those same indexes point to failure in several of the new EU Member States. Happiness now, largely, is gone.
The public is confused. Business leaders are confused. Politicians are confused. With all that confusion, the best game going is something like Trivial Pursuit. Except in this game the winner eats the other players. Yumm!!
Hacks and paparazzi, they are to blame. Scurrilous media bosses, blame them too. Forget not the politicians and celebrities with secrets. Tar and feather them all!
Put a provocative title on a video clip, in context or not, and world wide attention on the world wide web is guaranteed. There are certainly a lot of people out there with nothing better to do. Ah, the viral flames; so creative, so very post-modern.
Turn it one way and a free press is the essential voice of democracy. Turn it another and it’s an emblem of power. At a different angle it’s just a big business. Ethics are important no matter which way you see it.
Condemnations came swiftly from all quarters after the offices of French satirical newspaper were destroyed in early morning hours Wednesday (November 2). “One or two incendiary devices,” witnesses reported to Le Monde, were thrown through windows causing extensive damage to electrical and computer systems. “Everything was destroyed,” said publisher Charb. There were no injuries.
Every dictator knows that keeping news media under tight control is essential to holding power. It’s fear that matters and fear that rules. When authorities use intimidation tactics against news media they always reveal their own weakness.
Freedom of the press, perhaps a surprise to some, was not originally enshrined to protect newspapers. It was to protect printing houses. This dates back to the 16th Century. Many, many countries, even those with rather dicey records on the more modern formation of press freedom, have a law or two to protect the process of printing from the whims of kings, bishops, landlords and such. The modern equivalent of controlling printing presses might be like controlling the internet, a concept near and dear to today’s politicians, as expressed so eloquently this week by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the e-G8 in Paris.
Twitter did in one afternoon what the brightest legal and political minds in the UK have failed to accomplish for years – put a virtual end to the UK’s super injunctions which allows the courts not only to stop an upcoming media story but also prohibits publication that such an injunction was granted! And a day later the European Court of Human Rights surprises just about everyone and ruled that the media doesn’t have to forewarn people they are about to be outed.
The new century brought with it a whole new media context. News cycles are faster than the electrons in the chips that power new technology. At the same time clouds of intimidation and corruption veil the ideal of press freedom. It deserves a moment of silence, a pause for reflection.
Recent editorial changes have solidified what was already a reality – that Reuters, the great British news agency that got its start two centuries ago by its German founder flying news across Europe via carrier pigeons, is no longer British. As Thomson Reuters it has become as North American as apple pie.
Favors and frauds, pay-offs and propaganda all unfold in news broadcasts and headlines. Perhaps it’s the public or just editors most enamored with human failings. More complicated is when media itself is involved.
As events in Egypt unfolded over these last three weeks, media has been part of the story. The effects of new media, television and censorship on the changing narratives will occupy analysts until the next big event arrives. Decisive or not, without media, there was no story and everybody had a role.
Enabled by new digital tools, the Web collided with journalism in the last decade with the hope of bringing out the best in both. Perhaps it has. Those tools and the Web itself were seen as the great enablers of information by and for all, giving rise to what came to be called citizen journalism. It was an “era that came and went quite quickly.”
The Egyptian demonstrations were a perfect venue for the international cable news networks to unleash their mighty power of 24-hour continuous coverage, and the world has been well served. But who was best?
The very messy way that some reputable news organizations handled the Tucson shootings has brought into view that not all sections of an organization’s news operations keep to the same standards. ABC TV, for instance, did not falsely report that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had died, but for about 10 minutes its abcnews.com did, quoting other news organizations.
Children around the world write every year to Santa Claus (Father Christmas) at the North Pole telling him how good they have been all year and they hope the jolly old man will reward them with the presents they want, especially when offered the bribe of milk and biscuits left on the kitchen table. And they can expect a written reply from the North Pole, or at least not too far away from there!
Want a lesson in damage control? Then just study how the US State Department has handled Wikileaks. It’s A PR exercise that should be studied in universities for years. Now, it is the media that needs all the PR help it can get to handle an unforgiving public.
Thousands of journalists went to work Monday. Some even started early, on Sunday. There was a lot of catching up to do…in more ways than one.
Television news is like fruitcake; looks good, cooks debate the best recipes and nobody really likes it. Endlessly, mercilessly critics skewer both. There’s too much sugar, not enough booze and the nuts rise to the top.
Media workers are literally running for their lives. Another beating, another threat; it’s scary. The powerful – and scary – like it that way. Chasing a story can mean always looking over your shoulder.
Press freedom, loosely defined, is a mirror on the social values on nations. Post-modern media gives away nothing, jumping from platform to platform, often loudly. National leaders either accept the chaotic information blitz coming from all directions or choose silence.
Sgt. Joe Friday’s famous line on that great Dragnet TV detective series was, “The facts ma’am, just the facts.” Shouldn’t that apply to news agencies today?
The BBC has been criticized at home for sending some 25 people to the Chile mine disaster and throwing money at its coverage but, no matter where you are in the world, if you really wanted to be “there” then there was just one channel to watch – BBC World. And it really put CNN’s so-called continuing coverage to shame!
Those of us living in societies where freedom of the press is a given can easily forget in just how many places in the world such freedoms are still being fought for daily with lives, imprisonment and intimidation. The latest report from WAN-IFRA says that so far this year 56 journalists have been killed, catching up on the 99 killed last year, more than 100 journalists are imprisoned either with no charges or trials or via sham trials with hundreds more forced into exile, and intimidation is on the rise.
Last weekend a preacher in Florida pulled back from the brink and did not burn some 200 Qurans as he had threatened. But for the week before he had several times more media on his doorstep than he had parishioners in his flock and the world was on edge for violent global protests. But if he had gone ahead should the media have covered knowing full well how the Muslim world would have reacted?
Politicians feed on the affection of their constituents. It sustains them, for good or ill, making them powerful. Getting between a politician and his or her craving doesn’t bode well for news media.
The news business is going through difficult times. Advertising revenues are way down, with little clear understanding of the relationship between blogs and the internet to paper media. For the moment, print is the big loser. But, whatever your media preference – I do assume people are still interested in getting the news, especially readers who are looking at this article – two recent stories show how valuable the media can be in checking the government while informing the public.
CNN dumped AP services at the end of June saying it could do better putting that money to work increasing its own news gathering sources. It had done the same with Reuters back in 2007 but the two now have resumed some relationship under an Agreement that Reuters will supplement CNN on breaking news. CNN still has Agence France Presse in English.
CNN has fired Octavia Nasr, its Atlanta-based senior editor of Middle East affairs, because of this Twitter, “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah … One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.” Now just seen by itself with no further explanation and remembering that the U.S. considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization that is a dicey statement given that your American news organization tries to tread the international straight and narrow, and sure enough once the hullabaloo erupted on the Internet she was gone.
What do you do if you’re a nation that doesn’t think the world’s 24-hour English language global news networks are giving you a fair shake? Simple, you start your own English news channel. All you need is money and that’s what governments print so, no problem even in these days of counting pennies.
The relationship between the Turkish government and the country's media has gone from sour to simply rotten. Using a variety of judicial and administrative rulings, the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has chased journalists, television channels, newspapers and their owners giving the appearance, at the very least, of a war over words. International condemnation has little effect on a country - and leaders - moving in their own direction.
Media old-timers around the world will remember Helen Thomas, who will be 90 this August, as the United Press International (UPI) White House correspondent for some 40 years. But after suffering one UPI bankruptcy and ownership change too much she left the news agency in 2000 and became a columnist for Hearst newspapers. Her acid tongue continued and she voiced her biases more and more and that finally caught up with her—she said in a video interview that Jews should leave Palestine and go home to Europe or America. That just doesn’t fly in official or unofficial America, and thus a sad end to an illustrious career.
Let’s face it, repetitive news on the half-hour is, well, boring, but for the British, who are used to a losing prime minister immediately packing his bags and the moving trucks loaded outside 10 Downing Street, the political bargaining over the past five days was riveting and the UK’s two 24-hour news channels really came of age.
For expatriate Americans and for others staying up late who were into Americana, CNBC Europe had for many years the best daily American hour of TV starting at midnight CET with a half-hour commercial-free Tonight Show with Jay Leno followed by the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams on the half-hour live – which did unfortunately mean with all the commercial breaks. Leno’s monologue and NBC’s newscast -- about as diverse but accurate a read on what America is thinking as any you would likely find within an hour on the dial.
For all the talk the Brits make about their democracy they have never held a nationally televised debate between the major party leaders during a general election campaign, but that comes to an end Thursday night when the ITV terrestrial commercial network hosts the first such event.
Even by Washington standards it’s sickly venom being aimed at CNN’s star foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour because ABC News signed her, and not an ABC Washington bureau insider, to mediate over its Sunday morning talk show.
There is an obsession among news gatherers and news sellers: how to share in the digital dividend. The Web has twisted every convenient business model. Tasty theories dry up when salted.
The Danish cartoon controversy that sparked broad outrage has flared again. This time it was a newspaper’s apology to Muslims that provoked anger from politicians and free press advocates. The newspaper’s editor said it wants to advance a conversation.
Gonzo journalism began with Hunter Thompson and his ability to report on events while being part of them, if not creating them. By definition, it tends to favor style over accuracy and often uses personal experiences and emotions to provide context for the topic or event being covered.
The complaints keep coming into the Washington Post and other newspapers that more and more sloooppy editing is finding its way into print, and most newspapers are honest enough to admit one primary reason for that is that they’ve got rid of most of their copy editors. So, is fixing mispellings and the like worth the cost?
The blogosphere has been full of various innuendos the past few days that an investor in ThomsonReuters, aware its editorial unit was writing a story that he would just as soon not see the light of day, called the head of Reuters Markets Division to complain, the message was passed to the editor-in-chief, and the story was killed.
Children around the world write every year to Santa Claus (Father Christmas) at the North Pole telling him how good they have been all year and they hope the jolly old man will reward them with the requested presents, especially if bribed by being told milk and biscuits will be left on the kitchen table. And the really lucky ones will even get a reply from the North Pole, or at least not too far away from there!
The World Association of Newspapers and Newspaper Publishers (WAN-IFRA) resolution and report critical of Turkish government pressures on press freedom hasn’t set well with all Turkish media with three groups strongly criticizing accusations against the ruling Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In the past week there have been calls by a senior Financial Times editor and by the head of the WPP ad agency that we would all be better off if natural economic rules applied to newspapers – only the fittest and strongest should survive and we should let the weakest die. No doubt the financially strong newspapers think that’s a fine idea whereas the weak ones don’t, but what part, if any, in this financial argument does supporting democracy play?
Rumbling was felt in Berlin for several weeks in 1989 as summer turned to autumn; stronger at times, subsiding, shaking again. East Germany – the German Democratic Republic – was twisting and turning in its final danse macabre. When the gates finally opened late the night of November 9th television brought the news to Germans and the world.
Former editorial hands at Reuters are reacting with some dismay at the new editorial objectives the news agency recently announced because lacking within those principles is the word “accuracy”. And in recent weeks Reuters has been caught out on more than one occasion for getting it wrong and having to apologize very publicly.
Five European nations tied for the top rank in the annual Reporters sans Frontiers (RSF) Press Freedom Index. Below that, changes in rankings show very bright spots and more than a few grim reminders of how fragile freedom of the press remains. The effect of “meddling” politicians and corruption is now more obvious than ever.
Thomson Reuters and AP have sent new missives to their editorial staff basically telling them they need to “own” the big stories, be best on “higher value” stories and, in the AP’s case, stop wasting editorial resources on stories that few use. It makes sense, but good luck in getting it done.
A news program was cancelled and prominent newscaster suspended, prompting news editors resignations. There are denials and accusations. As usual, many things are tangled.
CNN International (CNNI) apparently believed Senator Kennedy’s funeral was of interest only domestically in the US so it was business as usual on the network Saturday afternoon and evening with more repeats of Talk Asia and the like. But on BBC World there were more than three hours of non-stop, no commercial interruption funeral coverage from before the hearse arrived at the Boston church until after its departure. Goes to show that the 24-hour TV news networks are not alike!
If Walter Cronkite said it then you knew it was so. It was as simple as that. Seldom in broadcast journalism has one man earned the confidence of a nation, but when Walter Cronkite reported the news America believed him. He died Friday at age 92 after a retirement - all depends really how you define retirement - of some 30 years.
British media is rocking as almost hourly revelations come to light about reporters stealing information on private individuals through snooping and hacking schemes. It’s hairy stuff, more than a little frightening, of an “out of control” tabloid, settlements for silence, collusion of police and, of course, Rupert Murdoch. Politicians, some targeted by the snooping, smell blood in the water.
Robert Gibbs description of British newspapers that you’re not going to find many of them “and truth within 25 words of each other” probably had a lot of personalities around the world jumping for joy -- Gibbs saying what for years they wish they had the guts to say for the shoddy treatment many of them have received at the hands of particularly the tabloids -- but should the White House press spokesman really be saying such things?
Despite all of the press freedom verbiage from governments around the world, the number of journalists arrested, jailed, and, yes, killed, each year is one of humanity’s disgraces. UNESCO holds a two-day meeting Saturday and Sunday to mark World Press Freedom Day May 3, but regretfully it pussyfoots around what governments are doing.
One of the major reasons for watching cable news is that one should be able to switch on and get a news fix within a reasonably short time. But that’s no longer guaranteed with CNN.
American journalism experts continue to believe American journalism is in crisis because American newspapers are going bust. The Pew Research Center’s 6th annual Project for Excellence in Journalism State of the News Media report takes the whining to new heights. It’s been coming for a generation. It’s time to let it go.
People pay attention to themes they find relevant. They also pay attention to themes mirroring their beliefs and, often, fears. Media users have choices to fit those needs and interests. Media outlets, some at least, have choices, too.
You’ve got to hand it to news organizations – they encourage citizen journalists to send in all their news pictures with the promise the good stuff will get published or get on the air, and their cost for those pictures of the day’s breaking news is absolutely zero. Not like the good old days when they could afford to pay fortunes for exclusivity.
The gripping story a comatose woman’s last days with family and physicians pitted against politicians and the Church also pitted a renowned television journalist against his network. The journalist wanted to tell the story. The network refused, preferring a Big Brother episode. The news anchor resigned.
Rupert Murdoch’s UK Sunday tabloid News of the World can justifiably boast of its exclusive picture that shocked the sporting world of 8-time Olympic swimming Gold Medalist Michael Phelps using a glass pipe to smoke pot, as he has now admitted, while visiting the University of South Carolina last November. But does such a picture run afoul of UK privacy laws?
It was the most watched event in TV history – Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. And there were very few places in this world where you would not have been able to watch that live on TV, high definition TV in some places! And of course if you didn’t have a TV nearby then you could have watched it on any number of Web sites or on your mobile phone.
Since our basically positive review 10 days ago of Al Jazeera’ English language news coverage of Gaza we’ve been watching with some amusement as other analysts on both sides of the Atlantic have caught up to the fact that if you really want comprehensive Gaza coverage then Al Jazeera English is the place to be.
On the first day that this writer entered the UPI London bureau in 1971 to take a three-day live copy-editing test to see if he was the “right stuff” for the American news agency the first rule pumped into him by the quiet-spoken, gray-haired editor was that the word “terrorist” was never to appear in UPI copy. “Remember, the copy you are editing is distributed throughout the world, and that readership means one man’s terrorist is another man’s hero”. It’s a rule that remained imprinted in one’s journalistic soul by the printers’ ink running through one’s veins.
The Gaza bombing and Israeli ground assault is Al-Jazeera’s opportunity to prove to the western world that its English language TV news service could be watched by mainstream western viewers with some resemblance of reporting balance from both sides. And by and large it’s doing ok.
Now that the terror of Mumbai is over the Indian government is conducting a top-to-bottom re-examination of everything that occurred during those awful days, and while security will, of course, be the top priority, it should also look into how government bureaucracy stopped the international television news media transmitting their satellite pictures around the world because of either no transmission license or refusing an extension to an expired license.
As America’s democracy celebrates its most important day -- the electing of a new President -- it brings to mind how closely the whole world watches. Pierre Salinger, President Kennedy’s press secretary who later went on to head the ABC bureau in Paris and who became an admired journalist for L’Express, once explained that as far as the French were concerned, “The US Presidential election is far too important for just Americans to vote!”
Remember a few years back when citizen journalism started coming into its own and how it was damned for its amateurism and there was little or no way of checking out what those citizen journalists wrote or videoed. But then they started filing from breaking news events where the professionals just plain didn’t have people on the ground, and it wasn’t long before the 24-hour cable news networks and other news outlets begged their viewers across the globe in every newscast to contribute. But as CNN learned last week the original fear is still very much with us.
How many times have you searched Google looking for recent information but clicked on “web” instead of “news” and only by chance did you notice the item was a few years old. Now what if that old item actually was found by Google on a newspaper site and the robot, not finding a date on it, listed it as new news item? Scary? Couldn’t happen? Well it did last weekend and it caused financial mayhem in United Airlines shares Monday.
The Olympic Games in Beijing opens in less than 100 hours. The foreign media contingent is estimated at more than 20,000, roughly double the number of competing athletes. To be sure, not all the reporters and news crews are focused on sports.
Max Mosley, the Formula 1 president, has won record privacy damages against Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid, the judge saying that while there was no doubt certain sexual events occurred in Mosley’s apartment the newspaper had recklessly ignored his right to privacy, and that the only real reason for printing the story and placing video online was for material gain. The newspaper had said running the story was in the public interest because of Mosley’s position within Formula 1
Richard Quest is back, starting off slowly as he gets back into his travel reporting for the CNN International. He did a voiceover on the demise of independent all-business class airlines in Europe, but he did not appear on camera.
NBC News with Brian Williams on Tuesday night ran a piece about the distress in the newspaper industry and it was right on – it talked about the bad goings on in Palm Beach, Florida (300 fired) but also the good, Mort Zuckerman’s $150 million investment in new color presses for the New York Daily News. All in all, a fair balanced piece.
It’s titillating stuff. Max Mosley, 68-year-old son of the 1930s British Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley and who is now the president of the governing body for Formula 1 racing, captured on a video camera in his bedroom romping with five prostitutes. The UK Sunday tabloid News of the World (NOW) gleefully claimed it was a “sick Nazi orgy.” and promptly put the video on its web site which more than 1.4 million viewers have now accessed.
It was all civility at a round table discussion at the World Association of Newspaper Round Table Sunday about the rights and wrongs of those Danish cartoons that caused so much aggravation in the Islam world a couple of years back and then again were republished this year, but 24 hours later the world received yet another lesson that terrorists don’t like talking, they prefer to kill, and thus a massive bomb blast Monday outside the Danish embassy in Islamabad.
It was intended to be embarrassing – for the second year in a row the winner of the Golden Press Freedom Award is Chinese – signifying the continuing lack of press freedom in that country, and China responded by stopping the winner and his family from traveling to Sweden to receive the prize and furthermore ordered its China Newspaper Association to boycott the event.
In the past six months alone 28 journalists have died around the world, nine of them in Iraq, making that country the most dangerous for working journalists. But that’s not the only place where journalists, and citizen journalists, face death or imprisonment, and the sad fact is that there is little let-up in global pressure on freedom of expression, according to the semi-annual report by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN).
Actress Sharon Stone gets paid really big bucks to promote Christian Dior, and in China the luxury goods firm has 68 outlets with 11 in Beijing. So when the Chinese went crazy on the Internet and elsewhere at her comments that their tragic earthquake could have been due to “karma”, Dior told Stone she had better say sorry publicly or she wouldn’t be representing the company any more. She apologized real fast.
Back when this writer went to through his university journalism training emphasizing newspaper reporting, there were several courses about the philosophy of journalism, there were news writing courses, there was one elementary photo course, but no audio and no video although those specialties were available to radio and TV undergraduates. Four years of all of that and one was supposedly ready to be a newspaper reporter. No more.
The Russian State Duma sharpened legal language on slander and libel to include ‘damaging honor and dignity,’ the consequence for media outlets being an even closer watch on what they say or print or face being closed. Defamation laws continue to discourage dissent, criticism and other forms of free speech. But, then, not everybody believes free speech and free press are good things.
Internationally, it has not been one of CNN’s best weeks – the Chinese are still mad about on-air comments and in return there have been demonstrations in the streets and cyber attacks on its web site, and then there is the embarrassment of handling the Richard Quest affair – so far not a single word on that has passed from any CNN spokesperson. The subject seems taboo, or perhaps the company hopes the situation will just go away if they pull the ostrich act of putting their heads in the sand.
The reporting of embarrassing details that played no part in the drugs charges against CNN’s Richard Quest’s at the weekend is really sad, but it also points to the overwhelming global power of the Internet and how nasty it can really be at times.
Russian President Vladmir Putin, weeks away from a new job, faced questions about his personal life at a press conference while standing along side Italian media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, also weeks away from a new job. Such it is with those tabloid reporters, always chasing the rich, famous and powerful for a headline. Mr. Putin was nonplused, Mr. Berlusconi (mostly) silent and the newspapers’ editor fired.
By all accounts the news industry has a great living monument to be proud of in Washington, DC – a fabulous state-of-the art interactive $450 Million museum dedicated to news that opens today. Too bad so many people won’t get to see it because of the $20 entrance fee!.
A British coroner’s jury returned a verdict far harsher than had been expected – that the car crash that killed Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed came about not only because of the reckless driving of the car driver, but the paparazzi chasing the ill-fated Mercedes contributed to their “unlawful deaths”.
Ah, yes, only the young athletes would suffer by a boycott of the Beijing Olympic games. So goes the oft-repeated trance-like meme from many, mostly those with money on the table. More broadcasters voiced a different view this past week.
Two years ago publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad sparked violence and rage. In the name of freedom of speech the Danish government took the side of the publishers. Nobody wants the story repeated.
Two prominent television figures died by brutal force, hours apart. Both were murdered shortly after their names appeared on a blacklist. The message is clear: don’t make enemies.
I must admit, I laughed so hard I cried. Two of the UKs most notorious tabloids were forced to print front-page apologies and pay real money. They lied. But today is another day that journalism cried.
After a trial that began in January 2007, three former Ukraine Interior Ministry officers were sentenced for the murder of young journalist Georgiy Gongadze. It’s a gristly tale. Just as ugly is that it’s unfinished.
There are rising complaints from local governments in the US that as newspapers cut back their editorial staffs a great deal of municipal affairs coverage no longer makes it into print. Well, if there aren’t the journalists to write about council, cabinet, and committee meetings then why not webcast them live?
There’s a new word entering our journalistic language – churnalism -- and it comes from a book just printed in the UK that already has the lawyers racking up their fees and some senior journalists and editors furious, but so far there hasn’t really been any evidence to prove false the basic concept of the book – that the vast majority of UK journalism is not original.
Press freedom, institutionalized, serves to inoculate us against the evils of absolute power. It’s a vitamin jab; instant sunshine, instant energy. Calling out press freedom failures is also a jab, like a blood test for a dread disease – painful but necessary.
“Hi, I’m your personal journalist,” is coming to a device near you. Having what you want, when and where you want it is mantra in new media. Delivering the goods has been elusive, until now.
Confidence oozed from French President Nicolas Sarkozy at his Tuesday news conference and the focus of the world’s media concentrated on when he was going to marry his supermodel girlfriend. That means his fascinating chastisements of the media, and some of his proposed solutions to heal the ailments of the French media business didn’t break through those headlines but they are important as one charts the future of the French media
Children around the world write every year to Santa Claus (Father Christmas) at the North Pole telling him how good they have been all year and they hope the jolly old man will reward them with the requested presents, especially if bribed by being told milk and biscuits will be left on the kitchen table. And the really lucky ones will even get a reply from the North Pole, or at least not too far away from there!
Press freedom is a fundamental human right, so the Convention says. Ask people, though, and that Western view of a free press is sometimes muted. A global poll commissioned by the BBC World Service points to the striking relationship between the exercise of free press and its popular support.
CNN International has announced it has taken the near $10 million that Reuters wanted for its various services and has used that money to expand its own reporting structure. What it has done is give up an organization with 2,400 editorial staff in 196 bureaus in 131 countries in order to add 15 to 16 correspondents to its existing staff of 150, plus develop some of its digital infrastructure.
It seems Yahoo did get the US Congressional message last week after Chief Yahoo Jerry Yang and Michael Callahan, Yahoo senior vice president and general counsel, were told their company was a giant technologically and financially but “morally you are Pygmies.”
Anxiety in the newsroom has reached the point where every fear has become a reality. To borrow from Dr. Maslow, people lose all sense of gravity when safety and security are threatened. The European Federation of Journalists has organized a day of protests.
It’s probably true to say that when they try, UK national tabloid newspapers can border on being as low, nasty and vicious as the public will accept, and they have been handing out just that to Heather McCartney in her ongoing divorce battle with former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney. So in an extraordinary TV interview Wednesday the lady tried to fight back, breaking down in tears, and basically crying out that enough was enough.
Wildfires in the US State of California have dominated American news coverage. To meet the pressing demand for information the US disaster management agency called a press conference to which no reporters could attend then proceeded to pretend it was a press conference, using staff as fake reporters. Emergency management now includes managing media.
It was a piece of television journalism that few people who saw it will ever forget. Reporter Larry Himmel doing a standup in the driveway to his San Diego, California house. ‘Welcome to my home,’ he exclaimed and with a wave of the hand and a slight turn there behind him was his house still burning.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to environmental activist and former US Vice President Al Gore reinforces media’s power in shaping public debate and public interest. Media interest in global warming and related environmental issues will certainly increase with this new ‘green’ buzz. Coverage, though, remains illusive and divided.
Washington played host to a couple of big national journalism conventions last week and some of what got said deserves a wider audience. Like Leonard Downie, editor of the Washington Post, reminding everyone that for all the new technology that journalists must master the focus still needs to be on the basic – how to report.
Niema Ash, the author who wrote a ‘kiss and tell’ book about Canadian singer-songwriter Loreena McKennitt has given up on her attempt to publish a second edition of the book that would have eliminated portions of the original book that a High Court judge ruled violated privacy rules.
One of the most common complaints visitors to the US have about American media is the dearth of international news. Watch a network newscast and there are many days when it is all domestic news. Most newspapers except for the really big ones have eliminated their foreign bureaus so whatever foreign news there is almost entirely agency reports cut down to a few paragraphs.
It was a great week for Russia watchers. Moscow prosecutors ruled the suspicious death of a military journalist a suicide. President Putin named a little known pal Prime Minister. And then they dropped a big bomb.
It took CNN less than 24 hours to learn that a global television network can be really embarrassed if a competitor has video that you are desperate to have. And it was Reuters Television that had that first bin Laden tape which meant in the US that Fox and MSNBC had bin Laden on tape blaming Congress and the Democratic majority for not ending the war, but all CNN had for a long time was just a transcript.
It’s a somber day in London what with the special memorial service marking the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death and many Britons remembering their loss of the tabloid’s princess, but within the past few days some newspaper editors who have remained quiet over the years have reflected upon whether demanding and paying for paparazzi exclusives means they share guilt for what some believe was an inevitable end in a Paris road tunnel.
Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya would have turned 49 Wednesday had she not been slain last October in the lobby of her apartment building, and protests in Moscow were planned against the lack of arrests in the case. So it was good timing by Russian authorities to announce Monday they are now holding 10 suspects in a killing that prosecutors said was arranged from outside Russia by anti-Kremlin forces who wanted to embarrass the country.
No one could help but be impressed with the opulent celebration in Tiananmen Square that China held this week to mark the one-year countdown to the Beijing Olympic Games scheduled to start on the luckiest date possible in Chinese folklore, 08-08-08 at 08:08 PM.
Yahoo again has Congressional problems over its China policies after a document surfaced last week indicating the company did know why Chinese officials wanted to find journalist Shi Tao, whereas the company had previously told Congress it had to respond to a Chinese request for information but didn’t know why the request was made.
Remember those Danish cartoons that depicted the Prophet Mohammad as a terrorist that the Jylands-Posten newspaper in Denmark printed in September, 2005, eventually causing riots around the Moslem world and a few resulting deaths? Well, in the UK there were no riots but three people did try to stir up crowds with “bomb bomb” comments that brought up the question of just how far does free speech stretch in such situations.
A good film script needs a title. Or, to be precise, selling a film script needs a good story and a great title helps. The film script of Alan Johnston’s release from the bad guys is certainly being written now. The title is unclear.
Today’s morning show on Radio Hamburg offers a Paris-free zone. Last week a US television newsreader tried to set her Paris Hilton copy alight.
Remember the hue and cry back in April when the lone British female sailor, among the 15 sailors and marines released by Iran after a week of captivity, sold her story to the Sun newspaper and to ITV for a figure thought close to £100,000. The military said it was ok, the public thought otherwise, the government backtracked and did what it always does when it is in a muddle – it ordered a review.
Leave it to Fox TV – the Murdoch owned scandal sheet gone video – to pull journalism down one more notch. East Texas television station KYTX and CBS affiliate is providing the set and crew, it seems, for a “comedy-reality” show called “Anchorwoman.” Swimsuit model Lauren Jones made her first appearance last week after a quick lesson in reading the TelePrompTer. Fox 21 and The G Group is producing the series that will begin airing in August.
Democracies everywhere are being caught between the rock and the hard place. They want more police and court powers to combat global terrorism, and yet the very being of a democracy is the free flow of information and free speech, and there are times when all of that comes very close to clashing. Does it need to?
Yahoo claims to this day it had no choice but to identify Shi Tao who used Yahoo’s email system in China to distribute information Chinese authorities didn’t like and it’s not their fault the man is now serving a 10-year prison term. The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) thinks differently and has awarded Shi its highest press freedom award, the Golden Pen of Freedom.
The number of journalists that have lost their lives in the past six months is staggering -- 59-- half of those in the Middle East alone. That’s bad enough, but add the pressures to force journalists to divulge sources, administrative harassment, death threats, arbitrary arrests, detentions and the like, and it all makes for very sorry reading in the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) global press freedom review of the past six months.
The French electorate saw Nicolas Sarkozy as the new breath of fresh air that will pull France firmly into the 21st Century. But he does have an Achilles Heel – he is very sensitive to media reports about his private life, especially his marriage – it seems to be a very “French” marriage -- and there are already signs that his buddies who now own many French newspapers do not wish to offend by having their media report “Sarko’s” personal embarrassments.
In our story about the released British sailors and marines who had been captured by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and the subsequent decision, later revoked, by the Defense Ministry to allow those released captives to sell their exclusive stories to the media, ftm noted sarcastically in its final paragraph:
Today is World Press Freedom Day, a day, as the United Nations reminds us, to remember the media’s vital role in promoting sustainable peace, democracy and development. And yet conditions for independent media are worsening in many parts of the world, threatening democracy and human rights, according to the non-governmental Freedom House that has issued a chilling report on the decline in press freedoms globally, and how Internet freedom in particular is under siege in some countries.
The World Association of Newspapers says it fears that as governments enhance security precautions many of their measures are being used to restrict the free flow of information. Seeking to find a balance between the two, WAN, for World Press Freedom Day, issued the following manifesto calling on governments and their agencies:
The US State department has renewed its call to Russia to bring to justice the person or persons who murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in the lobby of her apartment building last October. Her murder, the department said, was an “affront to free and independent media and to democratic values.”
Watching the tragedy at Virginia Tech unfurl via CNNI has brought home how important civilian journalists have become to the telling of breaking news on television.
This is not a game
The obvious disappointment at the news conference last week by the British military captives freed by Iran was that the sole female, Faye Turney, wasn’t there. The other speakers said she had been through an ordeal and needed time to mend. Translation: The Sun newspaper and the ITV television network were paying her more than £100,000 ($200,000, €150,000) because “I want people to know what I’ve gone through”. Couldn’t she have done that at the news conference?
The International Rugby Board is attempting to restrict the world’s media on how many pictures can be shown on the Internet, even how pictures are used in print, and while ftm applauded the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) for fighting that silliness, we said the battle should be fought on commercial issues, not as a freedom of the press issue as WAN claimed.
US journalism and mass communications university programs have enrolled more students each year since 1999. So if generalizations are true that the young aren’t into reading newspapers then the obvious question is, why do they want to work for them? Must be for the high pay and glory!
Journalists independent of State media have been barred from court proceedings in Azerbaijan where a former government minister stands accused of abuse of power. South Africa’s State broadcaster has been accused of blacklisting commentators who just might spin a line different – and critical – of the government. We are so fortunate, in the “west,” for immunity to such impunity.
It sounds like just plain common sense, but now there’s a study by the respected University of Missouri Journalism School that lays it out in simple language – the best way for newspapers to improve their bottom lines is to invest in news reporting excellence.
The privacy lawsuit won by Canadian folk singer Loreena McKennitt against a former friend and colleague, Niema Ash, claiming Ash’s book contained personal details that were an invasion of privacy has rocked the UK media with lawyers and editors fearing it is the end of “kiss and tell” celebrity stories. Yet how this case actually made privacy law in the UK should come as a shock and wake-up call to the media worldwide that it needs to get its legal protection house in order.
Princess Caroline of Monaco’s name will go down forever in European media privacy law for setting a precedent that basically says we are all entitled to a private life without media intrusion in addition to our public life. UK courts have been expanding upon that to the point that tabloid editors believe the end of “kiss and tell” is upon us.
Hrant Dink, gunned down in Istanbul, became the latest journalist murder victim to attract world-wide media coverage. The day-time Friday shooting on a busy “European side” of Istanbul street, his newspaper office in sight, became a call to outrage. Perhaps editors could not resist the AP and AFP photos of the sheet covered body, boots and blood visible. Instant death: instant pictures.
US President Gerald R. Ford, who passed away last week, had traveled to Helsinki in the summer of 1975 not only to sign what became known as the Helsinki Accords but also to negotiate with the Soviet Union’s Leonid Brezhnev on reaching a new Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty (SALT). And there was a young correspondent from United Press International, this writer, who along the course of those events came up with the scoop of the day.
The official pronouncements about the Yahoo/Reuters’ new citizen photojournalist project contain all the right buzzwords about encouraging user generated content and getting those efforts out to the wide world, which is swell, but cut to the bottom line and who could make out like a bandit? Hint: It’s not the citizen photojournalist who probably does not really understand the value of the pictures produced, or how to get them marketed exclusively.
Independence and transparency separates State broadcasters from public broadcasters. Or, that is the theory. Blacklisting political commentators by South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) news officials is bad enough. Trying to cover it up is worse.
Anya was strong and brave at a time when weakness and fear keeps many from asking the hard questions. It was Russia that she loved. She cried for Russia as she wrote devastatingly critical work about what she said is resurgent Stalinism. She wrote about Chechnya, sparing no side her sharp words.
There has basically been a one-sided civil war going on in Russia between gangsters, politicians, Chechens, and maybe some oligarchs, too, versus the media. Current score since Vladimir Putin came to power: Journalists dead, contract-style 13 – those found guilty 0.
Even though Reuters has 350 journalists in the US, it is not enough to report all the financial news that originates there every day. Yet Reuters’ US-based journalists are among the industry’s highest paid, so it’s an expensive proposition to add staff to handle the rewrites of news releases from the multitude of mid and small-capitalized companies. Simple solution: hire 100 journalists where it is not so expensive to handle the overload and with modern-day communications there’s no reason why they really need to be in the US.
If there is one newspaper that looks like it is attacking in exactly the right way the industry’s slumping newspaper circulation/advertising numbers then it has to be the Wall Street Journal.
Just How Does International News Coverage Fit Into A Newspaper Going Local, Local, Local? - August 17, 2006
An Editor & Publisher article had an energy reporter for a US newspaper asking, “How do you get the time to write (about international issues) when you need to be out writing about hometown problems?” Easy – relate those international issues to hometown problems.
Does it really matter if the photographer edits his picture to make the smoke look darker than it really was? Does it matter if the same woman shows up five days apart in what looks like the same pose to wail at the death and destruction before her? Yes, it does.
BBC World and CNN Need To Get Back To Basics – It’s The Coverage Of Live Events, Stupid! - August 14, 2006
For all the magnificent coverage that BBC World and CNN have provided from the Middle East in the past month both networks are increasingly guilty of forgetting their roots – that it is live event coverage of news conferences, speeches, and crucial UN votes that put them originally on the map – rather than packaged reports -- and their ever stricter adherence to set program schedules are diminishing that coverage. Look no further than the terrible live coverage provided of the UN ceasefire resolution vote.
Newspapers and Broadcasting Are Still Primary News Sources And Internet News, While Growing in Popularity, Still Just Supplements Most Needs - August 3, 2006
A new major American survey has loads of good news for those who believe traditional media still has a long healthy life ahead, and it has loads of good news for those that believe the Internet continues to grow in news popularity. But dig into it deep enough to sort it all out and there are signs that for traditional media things may not be getting better, but the worst may be over.
American Media Survey Shows Again That Local and Community News Is A Newspaper’s Biggest Draw - August 3, 2006
A major new survey on the news habits of Americans shows that readers’ tastes, and newspapers themselves, have evolved overt the past 20 years, but there is one constant – local and community news is still by far what readers turn to the most.
There Are Corrections, And Then There Are Corrections - July 19, 2006
It’s not nice to poke fun at others when they have made a mistake but a correction on the New York Times web site by Reuters on its story about the New York Times just can’t be passed up.
RFE/RL and VOA in Russian Sights - July 10, 2006
International broadcasters are increasingly backed against a wall when it comes to finding easy broadcast licenses for the taking. Governments can prevent access to distribution or, at the very least, make life very uncomfortable for local media affiliates. The enduring rule of media and politics is that no government takes criticism easily, particularly from foreigners.
Who Would Have Thought It Just a Few Years Ago, But To The Main US Terrestrial TV Networks Russia Is No Longer A Story That Merits Correspondents Based In Moscow - July 10, 2006
Among the most infuriating interviews that Larry King conducted regularly on CNN were with the three US TV anchors who are no longer on the job – Tom Brokaw (retired), Dan Rather (retired/fired) and Peter Jennings (died). King would ask all three in separate interviews what they thought of their news programs today and each gushed how great they were and that budget cuts had done no harm. What nonsense!
American Media Cut Back Their Foreign Correspondents Just As The British Media Increases Their US Presence In The US - July 10, 2006
Last October ftm questioned why so many American newspapers were keeping their costly foreign news bureaus going, when the emphasis was on saving costs and increasing local coverage. Seems the Tribune Company has also asked itself that very same question and the result is the closing of some bureaus and those that remain open will write for all Tribune newspapers, not just the one newspaper that sent them overseas.
Time and Again, At the End Of The Day, Whether You Are In The Red Or In The Black, As Long As It Is A Level Playing Field, And You Have A Wealth Of Experience Without An About Face, It’s Time To Get Rid Of The Clichés! - June 15, 2006
The headline above is a classic – don’t lose it. In one headline you have the seven most frequently used clichés by the British and US media. And we’re going to name names and there are some that may surprise you.
Russian Freedom Of The Press Has Come A Long Way Since Soviet Times -- And the Country Needs To Be Given Credit For That -- But Its Political Leaders Still Haven’t Grown That Thick Skin They Need To Govern In A Truly Democratic Society - June 11, 2006
Until the very last minute the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) admitted some of its membership objected to its annual meeting that concluded last week from being held in Moscow. It was right to go there, and it took a very gutsy WAN to tell President Putin inside his own Kremlin Palace in front of the world that he and his government needed to do more to ensure true press freedom. As good an example of free speech as one could demonstrate.
A Trip To Modern Russia Shows A Former Foreign Correspondent In The Soviet Union How Life Has Changed - June 11, 2006
It was a beautiful Sunday morning. The modern art artists had all of their paintings out along the railings and on the sidewalk next to the park. Diplomats with their wives and kids strolled through the exhibition, talking and joking with the artists. And then came the city street cleaning water trucks. Welcome to the Soviet Union, 1974.
New Newspaper Publisher Mikhail Gorbachev: “There Is No Going Back To The Past. Of That I Am Sure” - June 7, 2006
One sure way of telling who the heroes are is to see how many people adoringly crowd around a speaker after he has given an audience an hour of his time. Based on the reception Mikhail Gorbachev received from the Russian and foreign media after a speech and a Q and A Wednesday it’s fairly obvious that the last President of the Soviet Union is indeed a hero in Mother Russia today.
The Big Question of the Jyllands-Posten Editor: If You Had to Do It All Over Again, Would You Have Printed the Mohammed Cartoons? Answer: “Hard to Tell!" - June 7, 2006
The deputy editor-in-chief of Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper at the center of the controversy in the printing of the Mohammed cartoons last September, peered out from the stage gazing onto hundreds of fellow editors from around the world and asked himself the question he knew they wanted to ask: “Would you do it over again?”
Medvedev Tells The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) the Ongoing Dialogue With The Kremlin Over Russian Press Freedom Is Positive For It Would Never Have Been Possible Under The Soviet Era - June 7, 2006
On the Monday President Vladimir Putin gave rather short shrift to The World Association of Newspapers campaign for more press freedom in the Russian Federation, and the next day the Kremlin rolled out Putin’s first deputy prime minister who said pretty much the same thing, but at least he did it with a smile.
In Iraq Killing Journalists Is Almost A Sport, In Iran The Wrong Blogs Gets You In Jail, and In The US Major Internet Companies Put Profit Ahead of Press Freedom In China -- All Condemnations By The World Association Of Newspapers Press Freedom Review - June 4, 2006
In the past six months alone 38 journalists have died around the world, 16 of them in Iraq, making that country the most dangerous for working journalists. But that’s not the only place where journalists, and citizen journalists, face death or imprisonment, and the sad fact is that there is increasing global pressure on freedom of expression, according to the semi-annual report by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN).
When ftm Wrote About the Advertising Campaign of A British Apparel Store And Joked That Its Raunchy Advertising Was Not Yet Banned In Boston (Where It Has Two Stores), Little Did We Realize That Would Get ftm Banned in AOL Land!- May 17, 2006
Earlier this week ftm wrote about the new advertising campaign by a British Apparel Store (FCUK – it stands for French Connection United Kingdom), and we mentioned there were two such stores in Boston and the mayor thought that its advertising featuring lesbianism and women fighting with one another had overstepped the mark.
Perhaps The Most Distressing Finding Of A Recent Major Study About the News Media Is That The Battle Between Journalistic Idealists and The Accountants Is Over, And The Good Guys Lost!
“At many old-media companies, though not all, the decades-long battle at the top between idealists and accountants is now over. The idealists have lost.”
Major World Journalist Organizations Reject Government-imposed or Suggested Codes of Conduct, Guidelines, or Even New Laws Restricting Freedom of the Press In Response To The Danish Cartoons, But They Agree That Journalists Should Not Create Unnecessary Tension By Promoting Hatred Or Inciting Violence. - February 23, 2006
Major news organizations including the International Federation of Jounalists (IFJ) and several all-news channels have held separate meetings in the past days to discuss the Danish cartoon controversy and to determine what has been learned and what needs to be done to prevent similar distress in the future.
Why Is It So Difficult For The Media Just To Say “Sorry”? - February 13, 2006
A Danish reader took ftm to task this past week for saying that Jyllands-Posten had apologized for printing the 12 cartoons that caused riots throughout the world by protesting Muslims. There was no apology for printing the cartoons, we were told, but rather the apology was if the cartoons caused any offense.
Is There A Difference If Newspapers Did Not Print Those Danish Cartoons But Did Publish Them On Their Web Sites Or Provided Links Outside Their Country To Where They Could Be Viewed? - February 9, 2006
US media, with just a few exceptions, did not show the Danish cartoons exercising their freedom of the press responsibility, but a Google image search found the most offensive of those cartoons on the San Francisco Chronicle web site, but not in the newspaper. In the UK not one newspaper printed the cartoons but that didn’t stop some national newspapers from offering direct links to sites outside the country where the cartoons could be viewed.
With Danish Embassies Burning, Danish Goods Taken Off Store Shelves – Some European-Owned -- Were European Newspaper’s Acting Responsibly In Reprinting Those Jyllands-Posten Cartoons? Or Are Those Fires and Boycotts The Price Democracy Pays For Freedom of the Press? - February 6, 2006
When European newspapers reprinted those 12 Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad there is no question they had the freedom of the press to do so, but was it responsible journalism to offend Muslims in such a way? And in making that decision does one take into account the rioting, the burnings, the boycotts the world over? In other words should “fear” of what might happen preclude publication?
Why Did A German Newspaper Immediately Apologize For Placing An Ad About Gas Within A Story About Auschwitz? Why Did the Rome Football Club Accept Tough Punishment For Its Fans’ Display of Fascist Banners and Swastikas? And Why Did It Take Jyllands-Posten Four Months to Say Sorry for Printing Caricatures of Prophet Muhammad? - February 2, 2006
We in the West take for granted our freedom of speech and the press. We also understand that with those rights comes a social responsibility and the media, and the public, constantly question just where the line is drawn on what is acceptable. How three separate incidents were handled this past week in Europe shows how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go.
As The World Criticizes Google For Accepting Self-Censorship in China and Officials There Banning Yet Another Newspaper, It’s Worth Remembering That China Produces One In Every Seven Newspapers Hitting the Streets Globally - January 26, 2006
There were big damming headlines around the world that Google had sold-out to self-censorship in order to operate in China. On The Same Day Chinese authorities also closed Bing Dian, an influential weekly newspaper -- China banned 79 newspapers in 2005. And yet for all that, for five years running China still leads the world by far in the volume of newspapers coming off the presses, accounting for one in seven globally.
It’s Not Every Day A Swiss Newspaper Prints A Story Confirming CIA Secret European Prisons and Says Damn the Consequences, and Its Not Every Day That The Swiss Army’s Prosecutor And The Attorney General Open Separate Leak Investigations That Could Cost An Editor and Two Reporters Up To Five Years in Prison - January 15, 2005
The big story in Europe before Christmas was that the CIA operated clandestine prisons in eight European countries where it was questioning Al-Qaeda suspects and secretly flew the prisoners through European air space. Condoleezza Rice basically confirmed to European governments there had been clandestine flights, but “What prisons?” and the host governments named said, “No way.”
The Oil Depot Explosions Near London – one of the Worst European fires since the end of World War II -- Showed That Citizen Journalists Are Getting Even More Enthusiastic About Contributing and They Don’t Seem to Mind Not Getting Paid - December 15, 2005
Within minutes of the huge oil depot explosions and fires outside London this week citizen journalists were busy sending the BBC and other news organizations their digital pictures and video. The BBC received some 6,500 emails with digital attachments and there were more than 250,000 requests specifically for those amateur offerings alone on the BBC web site.
FTM in Amsterdam - November 14, 2005
Amsterdam’s TV News Xchange: Highlights of the Various Sessions Many of Which Drew Many Sparks as Attendees Took Issue Wirth What They Were Hearing With Is Paris Burning And Reporting Islam Taking Front Row.
There was a media story out of New Jersey in October that had media analysts all in a huff – a local newspaper signed a $100,000 no-bid contract to publish positive good news about a city’s activities. Words like “unethical”, “bad public policy” and similar made the rounds. But the real issue is really why the city believed it had to resort to such a policy in the first place. And are there other cities out there that feel the local media are not doing their jobs?
The Al-Jazeera television network moves further into the mainstream, asking Sir David Frost to present a program on its soon-to-be launched English-language service. Al-Jazeera International will be previewed, along with other offerings, at the Media and Marketing Show in Dubai.
The French love their sex scandals, but the media has to be very careful how it goes about reporting such because France has some of the world’s tightest laws guarding privacy. And Presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy and his lover believe the media stepped over the line when her identity – a journalist at Le Figaro but we can’t say who – was revealed by some media.
The announcement by the Tribune’s Baltimore Sun newspaper that it was closing its London and Beijing bureaus brings up a key question -- how come so many large metropolitan and regional US newspapers currently decimating their newsroom with buyouts, firings, not filling vacancies and the like aren’t closing down those costly foreign bureaus that on a priority basis surely must come bottom of the list?
Reuters is offering its financial clients at additional cost SeeNews, a third party news service covering South-East Europe. Great for SeeNews, a one-year-old start-up run by a former Reuters manager who spotted a lack of internationally reported financial news from the region, but it does pose the question of how come Reuters isn’t filling that news hole as it should itself?
And if you think that headline is pure fiction, think again. It just happened!
CNN sought and was granted a restraining order against US authorities in New Orleans.
When New Orleans was ordered evacuated, those who stayed for the most part had no way of escaping. They were either ill or poor or just did not have the means to escape. And most of the poor were black. That was obvious on our television screens but reporters didn’t talk about that much.
If ever there are special awards given for a newspaper’s and a television station’s dedication to their city in time of crisis then surely the New Orleans Times-Picayune and WWL-TV win. Even though staff at both media had to evacuate their own buildings that didn’t stop either from continuing in the finest journalism tradition of serving their community in time of need non-stop.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. But in this instance it was the words.
A fundamental of American journalism training is that the journalist provides just the facts, no opinions, and the people, armed with that information, are left to make their own opinions and decisions. But Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath of old people and babies dying in the streets from dehydration, bodies floating in the flood, looting, and armed gangs shooting at rescue helicopters became all too much for many reporters on the scene.
The headline on a recent news release from the International News Safety Institute (INSI) should send a shudder through working journalists everywhere: “US forces second biggest cause of journalist deaths in Iraq”.
Russian authorities complained bitterly about an interview broadcast on ABC News “Nightline” with Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev.
“I am a bad guy, OK,” said Basayev in the interview with journalist Andrei Babitsky, broadcast July 28th. “The Cechyan people are more dear to me than the rest of the world. You get that?”
Journalism training is a serious part of the régime for regions marked for development. Dozens of organizations sponsor and conduct workshops and seminars on everything from newspaper design to documentary production. Considerable attention is given to journalism in conflict zones, post-conflict zones, and transitional and developing regions. And there are specialists in every area.
Sometimes journalism can be very cruel to itself. The Washington Post honored its agreement with W. Mark Felt that it would not name his as “Deep Throat” – the secret source who confirmed many of the details in the Post’s Watergate coverage that eventually ended with the resignation in disgrace of Richard Nixon as President of the United States in 1974. Yet a phone call from a lawyer representing Deep Throat’s family two years ago to Vanity Fair asking if they would buy the story eventually gave the magazine its “exclusive.”
Ever since the global revulsion to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq the media has been aware that particularly in the Moslem world they take their religion and customs very seriously, and when American wrongdoing towards Moslems is uncovered it’s going to cause very serious consequences. That doesn’t mean that such events should not be reported, but it does mean extra care needs to be taken to ensure such reporting is correct.
No Matter the Final Outcome the Damage Is Already Done.
The AP Announces It Will Offer Two Leads for Some Stories. What We Really Need Are Two Different Stories.
Eason Jordan resigned over a comment made about US troops targeting journalists in Iraq. It wasn’t the US media that demanded his scalp for maligning the US military – in fact the US media didn’t even report the story until it was almost over.
The esteemed playwright Arthur Miller died at the end of a week that also claimed lives of journalists in Iraq and Somalia. The week also ended the career of CNNs head of international news.
The 224-page independent report was scathing, as expected. The story CBS News reported about President Bush and his time in the Air National Guard has already claimed the semi-retirement of star anchor Dan Rather
The Iraq war and its aftermath claimed 61 deaths through the end of 2004 and more news media were killed in 2004 globally than any time since 1994.
The journalistic casualty statistics for Iraq are staggering: 62 journalists and critical support staff dead since the conflict began.
Nobody doubts that recent conflicts pose certain danger and that danger extends to journalists.
In an unexpected announcement, Dan Rather announced November 23 that his last broadcast as CBS news anchor would be March 9, 2005, exactly 24 years after succeeding US news icon Walter Cronkite.