Tag Archives: journalism

You just know this is exactly how it would go

Just picked this up at Under The Mountain Bunker, a new favorite stop on the regular blogtour.

Anybody told the WSJ yet that the head of Scotland Yard just resiged?

So the WSJ editorial page was/is/always will be conservative. They embraced neoconservativism. They loved them some wars. They embraced ‘trickle down’ and ‘supply side’ economics, and they embraced some of the wackiest Republican office seekers in a century.

But they were still part of a great paper, full of real journalists who have to read this today.

News and Its Critics
A tabloid’s excesses don’t tarnish thousands of other journalists.
When News Corp. and CEO Rupert Murdoch secured enough shares to buy Dow Jones & Co. four years ago, these columns welcomed our new owner and promised to stand by the same standards and principles we always had. That promise is worth repeating now that politicians and our competitors are using the phone-hacking years ago at a British corner of News Corp. to assail the Journal, and perhaps injure press freedom in general.

That is a deeply political statement. This is pretty good too:

The British politicians now bemoaning media influence over politics are also the same statesmen who have long coveted media support. The idea that the BBC and the Guardian newspaper aren’t attempting to influence public affairs, and don’t skew their coverage to do so, can’t stand a day’s scrutiny.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more resignations from the news side soon, something that in any case has been happening for three and a half years. Back in April, when Reuters announced some new top editorial appointments, many of them were former WSJ reporters.  At the time, Media Matters wrote:

It’s the latest chapter in the steady loss of talent from Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal since Rupert Murdoch took over. And many of the departed personnel are helping to boost the efforts of Dow Jones’ biggest rivals — Reuters, Bloomberg, and The New York Times.

Even before Murdoch’s News Corp. finalized the purchase of Dow Jones in late 2007, concerns arose in and out of the news operation . . . strategy could slant coverage or, at least, hurt quality.

In interviews with Media Matters, many of the dozens to flee the Journal and Dow Jones in the past three and half years say the push for shorter stories, less investigative work, and — at times — a subtle nudge for more business-friendly stories has made it a worse place to work and resulted in a diminished editorial product.

That’s destruction, turning a national treasure into just another ‘product’.  But it’s what Daddy wanted.

The future of news?

While the chattering classes on cable and the overpaid ‘anchors’ on network news suck up the air, they don’t often acknowledge the sources for that news about which they chatter so much. They are not reporters; they talk about what actual reporters have written. The television class get their news from print – mostly newspapers. In fact, mostly four or five newspapers – The NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, The LA Times, Chicago Trib – a few others. The congressional journals – like The Hill, Hotline, CQ – are essential to their schtick too, but as well reported as they are, their subject is congress and only congress.

Eric Alterman’s Think Again column last week looked – yet again – at the erosion of good professional investigative reporting, and examined – yet again – what if anything replaces it.

A few highly motivated individuals and organizations have attempted to fill the gap by founding new nonprofit media organizations. These include:

  • The investigative team of reporters created by Propublica, which is funded by the civic-minded billionaires Herb and Marion Sandler and headed by Paul E. Steiger, former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal
  • The Center for Independent Media, headed by David Bennahum, a former writer at Wired
  • The creation of a series of local-news-oriented partnerships with journalism schools like those at Columbia and the City University of New York, or CUNY, which employ faculty and students to cover stories that are no longer economically affordable for local newspapers
  • Too many other small and still incipient ventures to mention

. . .  With the core news function of for-profit media increasingly on life support in the United States, we need to find ways to preserve investigative journalism

. . .

He points to countries who invest in a vigorous press, something the United States doesn’t do, likely  because Americans are hostile to the idea.

. . .  But as University of Illinois professor and tireless crusader for media democracy Robert McChesney and John Nichols point out:

we looked at the Economist magazine, and they rank every country in the world on how democratic it is and how open its governance is, how little corruption there is, how free people are, their civil liberties. … and the top six countries they ranked as the freest, most democratic countries were just about the six heaviest press-subsidizing nations in the world. The United States ranks well below them. Then we looked at Freedom House, a conservative group whose whole mission is to monitor government censorship and . . . it ranks every country in the world on how free the private press are in each of these countries every year. … Well you go down their list of the six freest private presses in the world and they’re pretty much in the six most heavy press-subsidizing nations that have those vibrant freest press systems. The United States is tied for 21st.

From earlier in the column:

Americans currently pay about $1.35 each in tax dollars to support noncommercial media, compared to about $25 in Canada, Australia, and Germany; nearly $60 in Japan; $80 in Britain; and more than $100 in Denmark and Finland. A similar fee in the United States would yield as much as $35 billion every year.

Thoughtful stuff – from someone who knows his stuff. (I am a serious fan.)

A Good Thing: Right up there with WalMart going organic

James Fallows, a fine reporter and writer if there ever was one, has a fascinating story today “How to Save the News” and it seems Google is a big part of the solution. It’s here. From the article:

Plummeting newspaper circulation, disappearing classified ads, “unbundling” of content—the list of what’s killing journalism is long. But high on that list, many would say, is Google, the biggest unbundler of them all. Now, having helped break the news business, the company wants to fix it—for commercial as well as civic reasons: if news organizations stop producing great journalism, says one Google executive, the search engine will no longer have interesting content to link to. So some of the smartest minds at the company are thinking about this, and working with publishers, and peering ahead to see what the future of journalism looks like. Guess what? It’s bright.